Deep Thought

It took the right wing of the Republican party 10 years to realize that their Corporatist party wasn’t actually doing anything for them – It took them that long to realize that abortion was still legal, there was still no prayer in schools, and I can still light a flag on fire whenever I want… Not to mention the fiscal irresponsibility and liberal Immigration policies that were pretty hard to miss.  All it took was a President who was willing to say “God” once in a while, and they were pretty much happy for most of those 10 years.

On the other hand, it’s taken the left wing of the Democratic Party all of 10 months to become completely disenchanted with the leadership of the party and the President.  It only took us that long to realize that there simply hasn’t been much of a course change since our guys took power… almost like the same people are pulling the chains no matter which party has the most seats.

Which set of radicals do you think is more attached to reality?

Friday Music Break

Just thought I’d share this.  I saw this band open for The Decemberists in Missoula last year, heard them play on NPR, and recently found out that a couple of their members originate right here in Astoria, where I’m living now.  They’re called Blind Pilot, and other than The Goonies, they’re the only thing that came from Astoria that I’d even heard of before I ended up here (Kindergarten Cop does NOT count.)

Anyways, this video is shot in an Astoria landmark, an old building that was used to dry fishing nets in the early 1900s, and is miraculously still standing amongst the pilings of other buildings long since collapsed or dismantled.  So it was kind of awesome to find this video today – shot at a place I already feel so familiar with.

Oh yeah – the music’s pretty damned good too.

Bill Maher is a Jerk

And that’s why I like him:

New Rule: You can’t complain about health care reform if you’re not willing to reform your own health. Unlike most liberals, I’m glad all those teabaggers marched on Washington last week. Because judging from the photos, it’s the first exercise they’ve gotten in years. Not counting, of course, all the Rascal scooters there, most of which aren’t even for the disabled. They’re just Americans who turned 60 and said, “Screw it, I’m done walking.” These people are furious at the high cost of health care, so they blame illegals, who don’t even get health care. News flash, Glenn Beck fans: the reason health care is so expensive is because you’re all so unhealthy.

Yes, it was fun this week to watch the teabaggers complain how the media underestimated the size of their march, “How can you say there were only 60,000 of us? We filled the entire mall!” Yes, because you’re fat. One whale fills the tank at Sea World, that doesn’t make it a crowd.


My Thoughts On Joe Wilson

For political operatives, getting people to focus on issues is a lot like fishing with lures… the only thing you can do to draw people in is to give them something really shiny and easy to focus on.

Unfortunately, for us on the left, it takes our eyes off of the things that are actually important… You know, like genuine health care reform.

So can we stop talking about Joe freakin’ Wilson? Please?

The Baucus Plan Finally Revealed

And it’s oh so surprising

In a last effort to give the Senate a bipartisan health care bill, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee circulated a comprehensive proposal on Sunday to overhaul the health care system and proposed a new fee on insurance companies to help pay for coverage of the uninsured.The proposal is the culmination of more than a year of work by the chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana. A similar fee was proposed by several liberal Democrats in July. In making it part of his proposal, Mr. Baucus may help cover the costs of the bill but also risks alienating Republicans whom he is trying to win over. Mr. Baucus is struggling to forge a bipartisan consensus among 6 of the 23 senators on his committee before President Obama puts new pressure on lawmakers in an address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening.

The proposal by Mr. Baucus does not include a public option, or a government-run insurance plan, to compete with private insurers, as many Democrats want.


People familiar with Mr. Baucus’s plan said it was calculated to appeal to Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine. But, at first glance, they said, it appears unlikely that the proposal, in its current form, could win support from the other Republicans in the “group of six,” Senators Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming.

The group is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, when Congress reconvenes after its August recess. Mr. Baucus is looking for a quick response from the Republicans.

Mr. Baucus’s plan, expected to cost $850 billion to $900 billion over 10 years, would tax insurance companies on their most expensive health care policies. The hope is that employers would buy cheaper, less generous coverage for employees, thereby reducing the overuse of medical services.

The separate new fee on insurance companies would help raise money to pay for the plan. The fee would raise $6 billion a year starting in 2010, and it would be allocated among insurance companies according to their market shares.

The fees were first proposed by Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York, John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. Until now, Mr. Baucus had not shown interest in the idea.

Mr. Schumer said, “The health insurance industry should pay its fair share of the cost because it stands to gain over 40 million new consumers under health care reform legislation.”

Mr. Rockefeller said the fees were justified because insurance companies were “rapaciously, greedily and unstoppably making money by underpaying the patient, by underpaying the provider and by overpaying themselves.”

Insurers and many Republicans in Congress oppose the fees, saying they would be passed on to families and employers who buy insurance. Robert E. Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, said the fees would “make coverage less affordable.”

A recent report by Oppenheimer & Company, the investment bank, said, “It will be very difficult for the Senate Finance Committee to structure the fees in a way that they won’t be immediately passed on to customers in the form of higher premiums.”

Another section of Mr. Baucus’s proposal would help pay insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles for people with incomes less than 300 percent of the poverty level ($66,150 for a family of four). It would also provide some protection for people with incomes from 300 percent to 400 percent of the poverty level (up to $88,200 for a family of four), so they would generally not have to pay more than 13 percent of their income in premiums.

Mr. Baucus’s proposal does not include a “trigger mechanism” of the type recommended by Ms. Snowe, who would offer a public insurance plan in any state where fewer than 95 percent of the people had access to affordable coverage.

The shell game is over.  Baucus’s plan to “woo Republican votes,” dutifully reported on by the media, will net ZERO Republican votes.  Let me make this very clear:

Max Baucus was never, ever, ever negotiating with Republicans.

Are we seriously supposed to believe that this bill came out of an entire year of hard work?  That Republicans had a hand in crafting it?  This had everything to do with delaying the bill as long as possible and making the end result as friendly to the insurance companies as possible.  Now we have several things going on:

A.  The bill is less likely to pass than ever – and is still likely to garner zero Republican votes.

B.  If it does pass, it will suck.

C.  Max Baucus just earned a ton of money for his next campaign.

D.  The most radical thing we have in this bill is a tax on the really nice insurance plans, which is supposed to encourage insurance companies to be more efficient.  It took a year to come up with THAT?

It’s late at  night and I’m feeling awnry – and of course we don’t know the full details of the plan – but my impression is this: The perfect needs to be the enemy of the good here.  This bill needs to go down in flames.

Did anyone actually expect something better?

The Heroic Resistance

James Wolcott hits the nail on the head:

Part of the crazy cognitive dissonance of this summer is the rabid conviction the tea baggers and conservative bloggers possess that Obama is a suave-talking, solid-core radical socialist who practices Chicago-thug hardball, when in fact if Team Obama was the steamroller they claim, they never would have acquired the momentum they’ve mustered this summer–a true Lenin would have squashed them out of the gate and hardly would have allowed this much slippage this fast. They want Obama to be ruthless and authoritarian because they want to think of themselves as a heroic resistance.

Yes, those brave and erstwhile Republican warriors are standing up to the man who is simultaneously an authoritarian, while also weak and inexperienced – not to mention engaging in subterfuge about his own personal history. (he even faked his own birth announcement in the Hawaii newspaper!)  That the right wing mind can simultaneously hold on to all of these fallacies boggles my mind.

For Progressives, Obama has indeed come across as weak, which partly explains our piss-poor response to the protestors at town hall meetings.  It’s amazing that such a tepid President can earn they kind of histrionics that Obama has.  The only thing you can do is watch – it’s like sitting in a bar with a bad reality TV show on –  You know what you’re watching is complete crap, but you can’t take your eyes off of it because it amazes you that people can be so passionate about their own stupidity.

Remember how Clinton had his friend Vince Foster murdered for no earthly reason?  And how John Kerry shot that Vietnamese boy in the back one time and faked his injuries so he could come home and disparage his brothers in arms? And the elephant in the room –  How Obama happens to be  the Manchurian Candidate who faked his own American birth so he could get elected President and tear this country apart from within?

Is it a coincidence that every time Democrats nominate someone for the Presidency it turns out that the person they choose also happens to be the most evil person in the history of mankind?  Are we seeing a pattern here?

I really do wonder what would be happening if Obama was actually trying to institute real reforms.  We all know that the nuts would be going crazy – but isn’t that happening anyways?  Could it get any worse?  Clearly there’s a deep void inside the people who are going crazy over things like half-assed health care reform and speeches to school children.  No matter what Obama was doing, they’d find something to fill that void – so that even if Obama was instituting clearly Conservative policies – other than endless war and secret prisons – you’d have just as much hyperbole as we do today.

The only thing we can do is sit back and enjoy the circus.  It’ll be touring the whole country for the next three years, weather be damned.

Worth Mentioning

It’s been (a little more than) three years for us in this little corner of the interwebs. I had more to say at this point last year… but I’ll keep this one more simple.

I’ve heard that three years is about the usual lifespan for a blog, but am glad to report that we’re still trucking.  For now, I still consider this a Montana blog – even though the proprietors happen to be operating out of Colorado and Oregon nowadays.  You can take a person out of Montana……..

Things are a little testy right now with a lot of you guys, but I’d like to thank all of you again for visiting and helping us get off of the ground in the first place.

Keep on rattlin’ them cages!