Saturday, March 27, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

If King George will not listen....Does that mean Erick Erickson is advocating armed insurrection by right wing crazies?

I'm not even sure how I found this Red State blog post by Erick Erickson, but I'm just amazed at how wacked out it is. The post that Erick Erickson wrote is titled "If King George Will Not Listen...."

This is one of those posts that has to be written and has to be said, though I know going in to it I’m going to get beaten up from all sides, though especially from a left particularly out to get me right now.

Nonetheless, this must be said.

The threats, potential acts of violence, and violence against those who voted for the health care legislation must be condemned. They are neither helpful to those seeking repeal nor the acts of a civilized society. I comfortably say I speak for all the front page posters here condemning the violence and threats. The people who think this country has descended into the darkness do in fact send us down a dark path themselves with these actions.

Clear? Good.

Here comes the controversial part that still must be said: I have heard the audio of some of the threats. I get worse stuff routinely. Rush Limbaugh gets worse stuff on a daily basis. Republican members of Congress have gotten similar and worse stuff. Thank God this wasn’t a free trade vote or a variety of left wing groups would have half the country in flames right now. I do believe the 24 hours of threats, many of which were pretty weak, has gotten more national coverage than the leftist anarchists in Texas who molotov cocktailed the Texas Governor’s Mansion — for which arrests have never been made.

First I want to say that Erickson starts his post condemning threats and violence--The threats, potential acts of violence, and violence against those who voted for the health care legislation must be condemned. Erickson even claims that not only does he receive "worse stuff routinely," but that threats are sent to Rush Limbaugh and Republican congress members. And they are supposed to be worst than the threats that the Democrats have received. Of course, Erickson doesn't bother backing up his claims of threats by making public either the email threats, the phone voice mail threats, or both. I doubt that Erickson has bothered to send his threats to law enforcement for investigation. Of course, as Erickson is condemning these threats, he then criticizes Democrats for "running to the nearest microphone in an effort to play the victim and generate sympathy as they try to steer poll numbers back in their direction." Erickson even claims that the protesters "yelling racial epithets at Congressman Lewis" did not happen, since Erickson confirmed from reporters that the events didn't occur.

I wonder which reporters Erickson was talking to? Consider that these papers:

The Washington Post; 'Tea party' protesters accused of spitting on lawmaker, using slurs

The; CBC member: Health bill protesters called lawmakers the N-word

Huffington Post; Tea Party Protests: 'Ni**er,' 'Fa**ot' Shouted At Members Of Congress

McClatchy News; Tea party protesters scream 'nigger' at black congressman

CBS News; Rep.: Protesters Yelled Racial Slurs

And Fox News (Although Fox calls it an allegation); Black Lawmakers Allege Health Care Protesters Hollered Racial Epithets at Them

Finally, The Washington Times is the only news organization, that I could find, which disputes Congressman Lewis' claim of protesters hurling racial slurs at him. The Washington Times includes this YouTube video to support its dispute, but it is rather difficult to hear anything over the chants "Kill the bill," and boos. The comments in this YouTube video claim they hear the N-word between 41-45 seconds. I've listened to the video numerous times, especially between the 41-45 seconds, and I can't pick up the racial slur. However, there are several commentators in the Washington Times article that also claim to hear the N-word at around 41-43 seconds. The YouTube video ends at 48 seconds, so I really don't know if the slurs were said after the video ended.

So I'm starting to wonder if Erickson's "reporters" were from either Fox News, or the Washington Times--both are very conservative news organizations. Fox News is considered the propaganda arm of the Republican Party, and the Washington Times is Moonie newspaper.

But that is not the real kicker in Erickson's post. Erickson continues saying that "a great many Americans who truly believe the Democrats shredded the constitution on Sunday night," after the House passed the health care reform bill without a single Republican vote. Erickson claims that Democrats pushed the bill through the House "before congressmen could go home and face their angry constituents every poll showed were opposed to this legislation." Of course, Erickson has forgotten all the town hall meetings that congressmen faced, with conservative groups packing town halls of Democratic lawmakers with protesters against health care reform last year. While Erickson claims that the opinion polls show a majority of Americans were opposed to the health care legislation, he's probably cherry-picking the poll numbers to support his claim. I look at the poll numbers at on health care reform, and the basic question of "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling health care," does show a majority of Americans disapproving by around 3-5 percentage points. Then again, a majority of American trust President Obama in handling the health care changes over the Republican congress. It is a matter of how the question are phrased in these polls to elicit specific responses on the health care issue. That makes it easy to cherry-pick whatever poll number you want to support or defend health care. I would say that Americans are very divided on the issue of health care, and will need time to digest this law, and determine whether they are for or against it.

But this part of the blog post is where Erickson enters the Crazyland:

I’ve said for weeks I was a bit fearful of what would happen as a result. I sincerely pray we are not on the cusp of some group of angry and now unhinged mob lashing out at congressmen for a vote in the Congress. But something seems to be brewing and I frankly don’t think the Democrats should at all be surprised. They were and they knew they were playing with fire to advance legislation many Americans see as the undoing of the American Experiment. Some of those Americans will now conclude that, like with the founders, if King George will not listen, King George must be fought. [Emphasis is mine.]

Acts of violence against congressmen for behaving as congressmen are wholly inexcusable. We should be vigilant to police our own side because as we’re already seeing through a series of breathless and inaccurate reports, the press and Democrats are going to be quick to run most any story and the retraction will never be as significant as the initial report.

But let’s not act surprised. The only people surprised by the rage are the ones who refused to venture outside Washington to understand first hand what the voters were actually thinking before congressmen voted.

Frankly, after all the leadership threats and bullying against swing Democrats to vote for leadership, I think it is a bit ironic Democratic leaders are now decrying threats and bullying of swing state Democrats by their constituents who very clearly did not want them to vote as they did. [Emphasis is mine.]

They were and they knew they were playing with fire to advance legislation many Americans see as the undoing of the American Experiment. Some of those Americans will now conclude that, like with the founders, if King George will not listen, King George must be fought. Erickson is trying to draw a parallel between the issues of the health care debate of today with the issues of the American Revolution, 200 years ago. It is even more surprising how Erickson equates President Obama as King George III, while the Tea Party activists(?) or right-wing extremists(?) take on the role of the American colonists. During the time leading up to the American Revolution, the American colonists believed that the British government were imposing incendiary legislation against them--mainly taxes, the Navigation Acts, the Stamp Act, the Tea Act, the Intolerable Acts, and such. The American colonists complained to the British government, saying that they lacked direct representation in the British Parliament, thus denying their rights as Englishmen. Therefore, the laws the British Parliament imposed on the American colonies were unconstitutional. This was especially so on the taxes that the British Parliament imposed on the colonies, thus giving us the phrase "no taxation without representation." When push came to shove, the American colonies declared their independence, fought the American Revolutionary War, and gained their independence to become the United States.

Erickson turns the entire American Revolution into an enormous, misleading lie to fit into the right-wing rhetoric.

First is this absurd idea of comparing President Obama as King George III, and by extension, the Democratic Congress as the British Parliament. The crux of Erickson's argument is that both President Obama and the Democratic Congress is imposing this health care legislation down Republican constituents throats, without providing listening to the conservatives complaints and anger against this health care legislation. This makes it convenient for conservatives to cry out "no taxation without representation," especially since the Republican leadership has been consistently telling lies on the health care reform. But what Erickson fails to realize is that all Americans are represented by their senators, representatives, and the president, and that all Americans had a chance to select their representatives to go to Washington and govern on their behalf. How did Americans select their representatives?

By voting!

In 2008, Americans were given their civic opportunity to vote for their presidential choice between Democratic candidate Barack Obama, or Republican candidate John McCain. Obama received a majority of the votes cast to be elected president (I'm not going into the entire Electoral College system for electing the president.). Americans also had the opportunity to vote for their congressmen, state and local candidates for office, and various state propositions. Some Americans chose to participate in voting--other Americans chose not to participate. President Obama and the Democrats campaigned on a platform of reforming this country's health care system. The American people chose to select more Democratic candidates for Congress than the Republican candidates. Americans who selected the losing candidate for office are still represented by their Senators or House Representative. They can still present their views on issues to their senators or House reps.

Since President Obama campaigned on health care reform, he was going to attempt to fulfill his campaign promise. Obama offered bipartisanship to the congressional Republicans for working on the health care reform bill. The Republicans said no, and proceeded on a campaign of obstructionism, becoming the Party of No. The Democratic leadership decided to go-it-alone in crafting the health care reform bill, since the Republicans refused to work with bipartisanship. The GOP threw every lie, threat, fear-mongering, and political spin in order to derail the health care reform bill, and failed. Not a single Republican voted for the health care reform bill. The Democrats passed health care reform, and President Obama signed it into law.

Erickson is claiming that conservatives are not represented in their government. Erickson is lying. Conservatives had their chance to vote for their candidates in the 2008 election. Not all of their candidates won--Democratic candidates also won in the election. Even in conservative-leaning districts of states. Conservative voters had a chance to voice their opinions to the Republican congressional leadership on reforming health care. Instead of working to provide a comprehensive, bipartisan, health care reform bill, Republicans used a short-term strategy of obstructionism, fear-mongering, hate, death panels, and Obamacare will be killing grandma, to whip up the right-wing extremist base, hoping that their extremist base could scare the Democrats from passing health care. Even more importantly, the Republican obstructionism was also a short-term strategy of driving this country into despair and economic recession so that Americans would elect the Republicans in Congress, and possibly the White House. The Republicans used hatred and fear to advance their political agenda. Even Erickson was responsible for presenting hate and fear-mongering through his blog. In the end, the Republicans failed.

Now in the wake of the Republican's failure to kill health care, and Erickson's own bloody hands in inciting such hatred and fear-mongering to the right-wing base, Erickson suddenly turns around to expresses fear that "some group of angry and now unhinged mob lashing out at congressmen for a vote in the Congress." Excuse me Erickson--you were responsible for inciting such violence with the hate and vitriol that you wrote in your blog. You are responsible even now--in this post--for planting the seed in these wing-nuts that they are American colonists taking up armed insurrection against a tyrannical Democratic Congress and King Barack Obama? If King George will not listen, King George must be fought? Sounds like you are advocating a violent revolution against the Democrats and President Obama. The scary thing about this post is that some crazy, right-wing, extremist will read your posting, and may take it upon himself to assassinate a Democratic Congressman, or Democratic Senator. The blood will be on your hands. But then again, why would you care? You'll continue to spout your hatred and filth with no compunction.


Cantor spokesman defends bullet claim as legit threat at press conference

The Cantor shooting scandal just keeps getting better. This is from Greg Sargent's blog:

A spokesperson for Eric Cantor is pushing back on criticism that he shouldn’t have referenced the bullet shot through a campaign office window at a presser yesterday about threats on his life, offering a detailed chronology of what happened.


Cantor spokesperson Brad Dayspring, in an interview with me this afternoon, offered a chronology of events. Short version: When Cantor gave his statement, all he knew was that a bullet had been fired into his window, there was an ongoing investigation into the incident, and that he had received other threats on his life.

If this was the correct version of events, then Representative Eric Cantor should have said that a bullet was fired into a window of a building where Cantor has a campaign office. The police are investigating, and more information will come out as a result of the investigation. Leave it at that. Of course, the media would speculate whether a gunman was trying to kill Cantor, but the key here for Cantor was to not jump the gun on outrageous claims, or trying to politicize this event. Unfortunately, Cantor jumped the gun. At the press conference, Cantor claimed, “Just recently, I have been directly threatened. A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week and I’ve received threatening emails.”

This was a complete lie, as Richmond Police now state that the bullet was randomly fired into the air. There was no threat against Cantor.

Enter the PR-spin:

But Dayspring says Cantor didn’t know at the time of the presser what the police subsequently revealed. He says that before the presser, Cantor aides called the police to learn what was known.

“We didn’t want to catch them by surprise, we wanted an update on the investigation, and we wanted to be 100 percent accurate,” Dayspring says, adding that the trajectory of the bullet was not discussed: “What was known at the time was that a bullet had been fired through the window and that the investigation was ongoing.”

Again, the problem here is that Cantor attempted to politicize the event. When Cantor started blaming the Democrats on "fanning the flames" of violence and death threats, he really lost any sense of credibility here. There were plenty of legitimate reports of Democratic lawmakers being threatened by right-wing extremists, possibly influenced by right-wing hate and fear-mongering. I guess Eric Cantor had to come out screaming, "Look at me--I'm being terrorized by liberal extremists influenced by left-wing hate and fear-mongering!"

What is especially ironic is that this story is certainly sensational. Someone took a shot at a building where the House Minority Whip has an office. Police are going to take that as a serious threat, running a vigorous investigation to determine if this was a targeted threat against Cantor, or a random act of violence. All Eric Cantor had to say at the press conference was "Here is what we know so far," and leave it. The media was going to sensationalize the story anyway, with Cantor receiving big press coverage. But when Cantor decided to politicize the event, before knowing all the events of this shooting. And now this random act of violence is showing Eric Cantor to be a complete fool, interested in hyping events for his own political gain.

Fox News hypes up the Cantor office shooting

Fox News is hyping up the Cantor shooting. From DKos TV:

Of course, Fox News doesn't even bother telling its viewers that the shooting may have been random, or that the bullet was fired skyward, or even that Cantor's office was unmarked. The Cantor shooting was a perfect PR-spin for the GOP to deflect criticism of the right-wing nuts threatening Democratic lawmakers. And since Fox News is the propaganda arm for the Republican Party....

You get the picture.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Obama's "Yes We Can" or John Boehner's "Hell No, You Can't"? Whom you'll Listen?

This is just totally frickin' brilliant. From YouTube:

Something tells me we're going to see a lot of Senator John Boehner's "HELL NO, you can't!"

Update on shot fired at Rep. Cantor's office building

I found some more information on the gunshots fired at Republican Representative Eric Cantor's campaign office. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

3:40 p.m. The Richmond Police Department is investigating an act of vandalism agsinst the Reagan Building, 25 E. Main St., where Rep. Eric I. Cantor, R-7th, has a campagn office.

Police said a first floor window was struck by a bullet at around 1 a.m. on Tuesday. The building was not occupied, police said. A preliminary investigation determined that a bullet was fired into the air and struck the window at a downward direction, landing about a foot from the window. The bullet had enough force to break the windowpane but not penetrate the window blinds, according to a news release.

There are no suspects, Gene Lepley, a spokesman for the department, said.

(This has been a breaking news update. Earlier stories are posted below.)

So if I'm reading this correctly, someone, or a group of someones, fired a gun into the air. The bullet traveled in an arc, striking the first floor of Cantor's office at a downward direction. The bullet broke the windowpane, but did not penetrate the blinds. After the bullet struck the window, it probably bounced off and landed a foot from the window. What this information tells me is that someone randomly shot a gun into the air, and the bullet just happened to hit Rep. Cantor's office. This was not a situation where someone pointed a gun at Cantor's office, and fired. This was a random act of violence.

That just happened to play into GOP Rep. Eric Cantor's PR-spin. The bullet broke Cantor's office building window, therefore Cantor was a victim of threats and violence, fanned by Democratic leaders. Cantor even claims that he "received threatening emails," but will not release such emails "because I believe such actions will only encourage more to be sent." Is it me, or am I seeing Eric Cantor waving his arms screaming "Look! Look--I'm a victim of Democratic-encouraged threats and violence!"

I will not discount the possibility that Eric Cantor received threatening emails. I hope Cantor turned the threatening, emails over to the police for investigation. But Cantor's statement claiming he will not release the emails because he feels such actions encourage even more threatening emails? I'm sorry, but Rep. Eric Cantor's weird press conference is really starting to smell. I'm guessing Cantor is trying to spin this story, reducing the criticism of the GOP hate and fear-mongering inciting violence against Democratic leaders by right-wing extremists, hopefully blaming Democrats for inciting similar threats and violence against Republicans.

In the meantime:

An envelope filled with white powder was sent to the district office of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) today, the congressman said in a statement.

A haz-mat team was sent, and the office will be closed until the situation is resolved. Weiner was an outspoken proponent (often to the left of his party's leaders) of healthcare reform.

Here's Weiner's full statement:

"Earlier today an envelope containing white powder and a threatening letter was delivered to my community office in Kew Gardens. The NYPD was immediately alerted and have responded appropriately by sending a Haz-Mat team. Any questions related to their response should be directed to the NYPD. My first priority is the safety of my staff and neighbors, and the authorities are currently taking steps to investigate and resolve the situation."

Seems like extremist threats continue to be sent to Democratic lawmakers.

Update: I've been reading DKos, and Incondite posted some updates on the Cantor story. One thing I missed is that Fox News and the conservative pundits will be screaming about this act of "domestic terrorism" incited by Democratic leaders--Democrats are just as responsible for all the death threats and violence! Or Fox will pick up Cantor's story, and speculate that Democratic leaders are sending such threats to themselves to blame Republicans. DKos commentator NewlyMintedJerseyGirl comments that Cantor's office exists near a drug-infested neighborhood. "In fact, the office is one street over from one of the most notorious drug streets in downtown, Foushee. (not to mention all manner of hookers/johns to add a little spice to the story)," NewlyMintedJerseyGirl writes. I do not live in Richmond, so I can not confirm or deny whether Cantor's office is close to a drug neighborhood. If this is true, then what we may be looking at is possibly a random act of drug violence that Cantor wants to milk for political gain--Democrats are just as responsible for inciting extremist threats and violence! And Fox News will constantly play up Cantor's story to its rabid, Kool-Aid drinkers.

Update 2: Looks like the Associated Press is confirming that while Cantor's Richmond office is located in "one of the city’s safer downtown areas, some of the more dangerous neighborhoods lie one-half mile to a mile away." The AP story also reports that the pastel green structure of the building "resembles a town house, and from the outside it is difficult to distinguish whether it is a business or residence." There is a brass plate on the door, identifying the building as The Reagan Building, but there are no "outdoors links it to Cantor or to the GOP." Seems to me this shooting is looking more like a random act of violence, or possibly a drug shooting, and the bullet randomly struck the building's windowpane where Cantor's office was located. Eric Cantor probably wanted to jump the gun in decrying this violence as incited by the Democrats, knowing it will be endlessly played on Fox News for the real right-wing crazies.

Harris Poll--24 percent Republicans believe Obama is Anti-Christ

This is an interesting poll from The Daily Beast, which reveals Republican attitudes about President Barack Obama. From The Daily Beast:

On the heels of health care, a new Harris poll reveals Republican attitudes about Obama: Two-thirds think he's a socialist, 57 percent a Muslim—and 24 percent say "he may be the Antichrist."

To anyone who thinks the end of the health-care vote means a return to civility, wake up.

Obama Derangement Syndrome—pathological hatred of the president posing as patriotism—has infected the Republican Party. Here's new data to prove it:

* 67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a socialist.

* 57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim.

* 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was "not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president."

* 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is "doing many of the things that Hitler did."

* Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama "may be the Antichrist."

These numbers all come from a brand-new Harris poll, inspired in part by my new book Wingnuts. It demonstrates the cost of the campaign of fear and hate that has been pumped up in the service of hyper-partisanship over the past 15 months. We are playing with dynamite by demonizing our president and dividing the United States in the process. What might be good for ratings is bad for the country.

The poll, which surveyed 2,230 people right at the height of the health-care reform debate, also clearly shows that education is a barrier to extremism. Respondents without a college education are vastly more likely to believe such claims, while Americans with college degrees or better are less easily duped. It's a reminder of what the 19th-century educator Horace Mann once too-loftily said: "Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up the vacancies of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge."

Full results of the Harris poll can be found here.

The interesting thing I found about this poll is actually the link between education and beliefs in such outrageous claims. Going into the Harris poll data, there is this interesting data:

These replies are also strongly correlated with education. The less education people have had the more likely they are to believe all of these statements. Consider these differences between those with no college education and those with post-graduate education:

* He is a socialist (45% and 20%)
* He wants to take away Americans' right to own guns (45% and 19%)
* He is a Muslim (43% and 9%)
* He was not born in the United States so is not eligible to be president (32% and 7%)
* He is a racist (28% and 9%)
* He is anti-American (27% and 9%)
* He is doing many of the things Hitler did (24% and 10%).

Those respondents with no college education appear to have believed the more outrageous statements than those respondents with a post-graduate education. I do wish the Harris poll would have broken down the education factor by whether the respondents had no college degree, some college degree, a bachelors, or post graduate education here. But the results are certainly striking--respondents who did not have a college education had a higher belief that President Obama was a Muslim, was not born in the U.S., was a racist, and did things that Adolf Hitler did. The less educated these Republicans are, the more they are easily swayed by GOP hate and fear-mongering. Going back to the 24 percent of Republicans that believe President Obama is the Anti-Christ, I wonder just how many of these Republicans feel they are justified to take a gun and assassinate President Obama? After all, it only takes one to believe he/she is killing the Anti-Christ.

Now that is scary.

Olbermann's Special Comment--GOP self-destruction imminent

Keith Olbermann gave a Special Comment on March 22nd, talking about how the Republican Party's self-destruction into obstructionism, hatred, and fear-mongering, is filtering down into their constituents. I think it is appropriate to show Olbermann's Special Comment, especially in the wake of the violence, hatred, and death that have been aimed at Democrats this week as a result of their voting for the health care bill. Here is the transcript of Olbermann's Special Comment.

Here is the video:

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George W. Bush wipes handshake off Bill Clinton's shirt

I found this through Shakesville, and I don't know what else to say about this, but OMFG! From YouTube:

The video was taken by a BBC film crew as both former presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, were visiting Haiti for the earthquake relief. Bush shook hands with a Haitian, and then wipes his hand on Clinton's shirt sleeve. I can probably see that Bush shook the sweaty hands of a Haitian, then didn't know how to dry his hand. He could have wiped it on his shirt, or pants. Instead he wipes his hands on Clinton's shirt.


GOP Rep. Eric Cantor says shots fired in his campaign office

This is from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

3:40 p.m. The Richmond Police Department is investigating an act of vandalism agsinst the Reagan Building, 25 E. Main St., where Rep. Eric I. Cantor, R-7th, has a campagn office.

Police said a first floor window was struck by a bullet at around 1 a.m. on Tuesday. The building was not occupied, police said.

There are no suspects, Gene Lepley, a spokesman for the department, said.

Rep. Eric Cantor says this afternoon that a gunshot was fired through a window of his downtown Richmond campaign office building either last night or two nights ago.

There were no injuries or other details immediately reported. Cantor, in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, said he doesn’t know whether the shot was random or aimed at the building.

He said he doesn’t know if anyone was in the building when the shot was fired. Richmond police are investigating, he said.

In Washington, Cantor said at a news conference that he has also received threatening e-mail, The Associated Press reported.

Cantor, in Washington, attributed the actions to his being in the House GOP leadership and being Jewish.

The office of Republican Jean Schmidt of Ohio also released a profanity-laced phone message in which the caller accused the GOP of being racist and, referring to an accident two years ago when Schmidt was hit by a car while jogging, said “you should have broke your back, b… .“

First, I'll admit that I don't like the idea of congressmen, or women, being threatened or attacked by anybody. Second, I'm not sure if this story is true or not. I don't know if some crazed liberal activist took potshots at Cantor's office, for Cantor being Jewish? Democratic anti-Sematism? That doesn't seem to make sense. Or is Cantor making this entire story up? I don't know, and I would be interested in hearing more from the Richmond PD. As for Republican representative Jean Schmidt's phone message threat, I could possibly find that more credible if the threat was directed at Schmidt's campaign office, which would have her office phone number open to the public. But I can find very little information on the threat.

Which brings me to the weird Eric Cantor press conference:

WASHINGTON -- And now, Thursday's lesson in how to give very strange press conferences, courtesy of Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the number two House Republican leader.

First, condemn violence against members of Congress. Next, announce that you've been threatened frequently yourself -- including having a bullet shot through your campaign office this week -- because you're Jewish. Third, blame Democrats for the whole mess, saying their decision to talk about threats would lead to more violence. After speaking for no more than four minutes, wrap up and leave the podium, taking no questions and marching silently through the Capitol halls as a mob of reporters chases after you trying to follow up.


So Cantor's statement Thursday was apparently aimed at cooling the rhetoric down -- mostly by Democrats, in case voters start to think the GOP bears some responsibility for the threats. And then, secondarily, by the people making the threats.

"Let me be clear: I do not condone violence," Cantor said Thursday. "There are no leaders in this building, no rank-and-file members in this building, that condone violence, period. I've received threats since I assumed elected office -- not only because of my position, but also because I'm Jewish. I've never blamed anyone in this body for that."

One such incident, Cantor said, came just this week. "Just recently I have been directly threatened: A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week, and I've received threatening emails," he said. "But I will not release them, because I believe such actions will only encourage more to be sent." An aide says authorities are investigating the shooting incident. Richmond police didn't immediately return a call for comment. (Update: Cantor told the Richmond Times-Dispatch no one was injured in the incident, and it's not clear whether the bullet was aimed at the campaign office or just fired randomly.)

But disclosing it let Cantor segue smoothly into putting the blame for the violence where it belonged: on Democrats, who insist on talking about the threats they're receiving. "Legitimate threats should be treated as security issues, and they should be dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement officials," Cantor said. "It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain. That is why I have deep concerns that -- some [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] chairman Chris Van Hollen and [Democratic National Committee] chairman Tim Kaine, in particular -- are dangerously fanning the flames, by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon."

So if I'm reading this correctly, Cantor is claiming that he has received threats and violence, and is blaming the Democrats for fanning the flames of violence. Democrats are fanning the flames of violence? On their own members? Consider the following:

After the Vote, Threats to Some Democrats

Bricks Shatter Windows At Rep. Louise Slaughter's Office, Democratic Party Offices

"Snipers" Threat Left On Rep. Louise Slaughter's Voicemail In Wake Of Health Care Vote

Smash Sensation: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Isn't The Only One With Broken Windows

Tea Party members post Perriello’s brother’s address

FBI investigates Virginia incident

Vandalism reported by Democrats who voted for health bill

Vandals hit at least five Dem offices nationwide, threaten to ‘assassinate’ children of pro-reform lawmakers.

The backlash: Reform turns personal

Stupak receives death threats after voting for health reform.

Health Care Debate Has Protesters Seeing Red, Racism Rears Its Ugly Head

Health Care Reform Leads to Threats

Markey, other health care reform backers report threats, vandalism

Weiner targeted for health care advocacy

Tea Party Protests: 'Ni**er,' 'Fa**ot' Shouted At Members Of Congress

And then there are these two interesting stories, where GOP leaders tread the line in making threats to Democrats:

Neugebauer, 'Baby Killer' Yeller, Apologizes For Appearing To Yell At Stupak (VIDEO)

Sarah Palin's PAC Puts Gun Sights On Democrats She's Targeting In 2010

I could probably list even more hate-mongering from the conservative media, but hopefully you're getting the picture here. It appears to me that much of this hate is coming from the right, with top GOP leaders remained silent on such threats, or the Republicans will parse it as Republican chairman Michael Steele told Fox News, "so let's start getting (House Speaker) Nancy (Pelosi) ready for the firing line this November!" And these threats and violence are being directed against Democratic lawmakers. With the ratcheting up of the health care protests, suddenly these threats and violence against the Democrats are gaining attention in the news media, with the source of the threats going back to possibly right-wing extremists, or possibly Tea Party activists--extremists that the Republican Party has been courting for years. This makes me seriously question Cantor's claim that Democrats are blamed for the violence taking place. Why would Democrats target their own party representatives in voting for health care reform? Or are the Democratic leaders making all these threats of violence up? Or is Eric Cantor talking some crazy stupid here?

It doesn't make sense.

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham refuses to work with Democrats, saying "well has been poisoned."

I found this story through the Washington Monthly. Seems like South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has been drinking Senator John McCain's Metamucil. From the Wall Street Journal:

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the Democrats' most likely potential allies on a range of legislation, said in an interview he would no longer work with the majority party on an immigration overhaul. He said because of the Democrats' tactics in passing the package, the "well has been poisoned."

Mr. Graham also has been working with Democrats on climate change, and that cooperation, too, appears in doubt. "Climate and energy are another heavy lift. We'll see," Mr. Graham said. "The consequences of health care being done this way are enormous to the body." Mr. Graham's initiatives would probably not have received significant Congressional attention this year in any case, but his posture signals one potential route for the party.

So, the Democratic majority attempted to reach out to the Republican minority on health care reform, and the Republicans snubbed them. The Democrats offered concessions and compromises on the bill, but the Republicans refused, spreading their own negative attacks, hatred, death panels, and fear-mongering in an attempt to kill the health care reform bill. The Democrats ignore the Republicans and pass the health care reform bill, to which the Republicans are now complaining that the Democrats have "poisoned the well," and will refuse to work on any legislation? Seems to me that the Republicans have refused to work on any legislation with the Democrats, bringing this country down to the gutter in hopes that President Obama will fail, and the GOP can regain control over Congress, possibly the White House. If anything, the Republicans are being poisoned by drinking their own Metamucil.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The GOP wingnuttery just continues....

I'm not sure I know what to say about this, except that I found this National Journal story from the Daily Kos, and it is fascinating. From The National Journal:

Senate Min. Leader Mitch McConnell and House Min. Leader John Boehner both signaled support for at least some part of a GOP-led move to repeal health care legislation today, suggesting the GOP will run on the issue in the fall campaign.

"I can tell you with the campaign that will continue with the American people, I think the slogan will be 'Repeal and Replace,'" McConnell told reporters after a weekly lunch with fellow members of the GOP Conference.

In a statement following Pres. Obama's bill signing today, Boehner added: "Republicans will continue to stand on principle, hold President Obama accountable for his promises, and fight to repeal this government takeover of health care so we can start over on common-sense reforms that lower costs for families and small businesses."

They are the first 2 members of GOP leadership to hint at embracing a repeal move. Until today, GOPers have been hesitant to support such a move, worrying Dems will tag them for opposing the more popular parts of the bill, and several members of House leadership have suggested a partial repeal while keeping some more popular sections of the bill intact.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has introduced a measure to repeal health care legislation. In the House, Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Steve King (R-IA), Bob Inglis (R-SC) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) have introduced a similar bill aimed at reversing the new law.

McConnell introduced DeMint's bill under a Senate rule that allows it to immediately be placed on the upper chamber's calendar.

Not only that, but former presidential candidate, Arizona Senator John McCain, has announced that the Democrats should not expect any cooperation from the Republicans for the rest of the year. According to the

Democrats shouldn't expect much cooperation from Republicans the rest of this year, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) warned Monday.

McCain and another Republican senator decried the effect health reform legislation has had on the Senate, a day after the House passed the upper chamber's bill.

GOP senators emerged Monday to caution that the health debate had taken a toll on the institution, warning of little work between parties the rest of this year.

"There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year," McCain said during an interview Monday on an Arizona radio affiliate. "They have poisoned the well in what they've done and how they've done it."

I guess I can chalk this up as the Republicans are pandering towards their own, crazed, wingnutty base. But the scope of this is just incredible. I'm trying to understand McConnell and Boehner's stance here, but it doesn't make any sense. There is no way for this health care legislation to be repealed--it will not happen. I can possibly see the Republicans taking control of Congress this November, but not with a two-thirds majority to repeal a presidential veto. Heck, even a Republican control of Congress may seem unlikely now, since the Democrats have passed health care reform, and President Obama will start campaigning to sell the law to Americans. The USA Today poll has Americans approving the health care reform bill, and giving President Obama some stronger job approval ratings. Unless President Obama and the Democrats really screw up between now and November....

So it is obvious that McConnell and Boehner are pandering to the wingnut base of the GOP with their support of repealing the health care law. Yet by pandering to these extremists, both McConnell and Boehner are continuing to confirm the image of the Republican Party as a party of not just a Party of No and obstructionism, but also a party of un-governing? They are not willing to work with the Democrats on fixing this law (Of course, the GOP has never been willing to work with the Democrats), but are now demanding that the entire law be repealed. I know that the Republicans are trying to whip up their crazed base, but continuing this harsh, negative rhetoric is probably going to alienate non-partisans and independents. I'm not sure if non-partisans and independents are completely opposed to the health care bill--some probably are--but I'm guessing that many are open towards political parties working to improve the law, rather than repealing it. It is like the more the Republicans shrill to their wingnuts, the more the GOP finds itself being painted into a smaller corner. It is just crazy.

Then there is Senator John McCain's crazy response. I guess McCain got so angry at the Democrats passing the health care bill, that now McCain is stating there will be no GOP cooperation with the Democrats for the rest of this year. None! Period! Of course, the Republicans have never bothered to cooperate with the Democrats. To a Republican, cooperation means that the Democrats accepts all GOP demands without questions or complaints. Then again, the Republicans have been masters at PR-spin in showing that they were open to listening and compromise, but not accepting any form of compromise from the Democrats. They were masters, until Barack Obama entered the White House. Ever since President Obama attempted to extend a hand for bipartisan compromise, the Republicans bit the hand. There is always rhetoric and partisan attacks by both political parties, but I've never seen such extreme hatred directed at President Obama, and the Democrats, from conservatives, right-wing pundits, protesters and even Republican lawmakers. It is also just incredible. And it will not stop with this latest midterm election, where the Republicans believe they can overturn the Democrats control of Congress by negative campaigning on the repeal of health care reform. They were masters of PR-spin, until President Obama was elected. Now the Republican Party has descended into a whiny, spoiled, almost racist, homophobic, crazy child, who will do anything it can to get its way. You can even see this whiny child in McCain's latest response on the congressional Democrats passing of the health care bill--They have poisoned the well in what they've done and how they've done it. The Democrats never poisoned the well with the health care bill. The Democrats were elected with a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress, and the White House. President Obama attempted to compromise with the Republicans on health care, but the Republicans said no. So President Obama and the Democrats crafted their own health care legislation, and passed the bill over Republican negative campaigning, threats, and fear-mongering. The health care bill was passed by majority vote, with no parliamentary procedures. Now McCain is claiming that the Democrats have "poisoned the well" by performing basic democracy in passing a bill by majority vote, and having that bill signed into law by the president? All because the Republicans didn't get their way?

The GOP insanity just continues....

USA Today poll--Americans have 9-point favorable view of health care reform

It has been a while since I've talked about public opinion polls, but I do find this poll very interesting. This may be the first poll I've seen taken after the health care reform bill passed Congress, and was signed by President Obama today. It is certainly not going to be the last poll on this issue. From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — Americans by 9 percentage points have a favorable view of the health care overhaul that President Obama signed into law Tuesday, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, a notable turnaround from surveys before the vote that showed a plurality against it.

By 49%-40% those surveyed say it was "a good thing" rather than a bad one that Congress passed the bill. Half describe their reaction in positive terms, as "enthusiastic" or "pleased," while about four in 10 describe it in negative ways, as "disappointed" or "angry."

The largest single group, 48%, calls the bill "a good first step" that should be followed by more action on health care. An additional 4% also have a favorable view, saying the bill makes the most important changes needed in the nation's health care system.

Remember that the Republicans have consistently reiterated that the American people are against the health care reform bill. Now that the bill has passed, this first poll is showing that Americans are starting to warm up to health care reform. All that GOP fear-mongering over health care, and their incessant rhetoric that the American people are against health care has become baseless. Now with President Obama going into campaign mode to sell this health care law, I have to wonder what direction the next polls will be taking as Americans digest the specifics of this law?

The USA Today poll shows that President Obama job standing is at 46 percent excellent or good, while 31 percent call it poor. Congressional Democrats job standing are split at 32 percent good and 33 percent poor. The job standing for congressional Republicans on health care is 26 percent excellent or good, while 34 percent say it has been poor. More Americans apparently disapprove of the Republican job standing than approve. My guess is that Americans did not like the negative rhetoric, fear-mongering, obstructionism and hatred that has been spewed by the Republicans and the hard-lined conservative activists during this health care debate. Now it is starting to show.

Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly makes a brilliant analysis here:

This is the Republican nightmare coming to fruition -- the country gets a better system, Democrats get a victory, the president looks like a hero, and the country is pleased with the results.

It's not too late for Republicans to reconsider that "repeal" strategy, if only the party's unhinged base would let them.

The Republicans have certainly boxed themselves into a corner here. Moderating their strategy of working with the Democrats will anger their crazed, "unhinged base," that they've courted. Whatever moderates that are left in the GOP would also earn the wrath of Fox News and conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. So the Republicans continue to pander to the extremist votes. This will certainly alienate the moderates, non-partisans and independents, but will they continue supporting the Democrats this November? Especially now that health care reform has passed? I'm tempted to say yes, but it may be a close vote with the GOP pulling every dirty campaign trick and negative ads to use against the Democrats.

Sarah Palin in the news again--This time she supports creation of a third party

Seems like Sarah Palin is getting some more media attention again. This is from Think Progress:

For months, Republicans have been trying to co-opt the tea party movement, supporting its activities and pandering to activists while discouraging them from forming a third party. RNC Chairman Michael Steele met with tea party leaders in January to encourage them to join the GOP, while Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) warned the movement not to “fractionalize the Republican Party.” Even tea party favorites like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) have come out against an official tea party, saying that he wants to “avoid a third party by giving Republicans and independents good choices in Republican primaries.”

But appearing on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show last night, contributor Sarah Palin had surprising take, seemingly endorsing the idea of third party to keep Republicans honest:

HANNITY: If it’s a strong conservative that gets the Republican nomination and then a tea party member runs as a third party candidate, do you have any worry about that?

PALIN: I do have a little bit of worry about that but at the same time that can be part of a healthy process, though. A third party candidate can really shore-up a Republican candidate in terms of that Republican candidate having to be very strong and sharp and debate aggressively, regarding the positions that they have taken.

A third party candidate, I think, Sean, can actually help in this process. And if nothing else a third party candidate is going to help keep the Republican Party being held accountable, too.

Here is the video of the Hannity/Palin exchange. From YouTube:

The Think Progress article continues:

Palin’s comments are particularly surprising considering that, in February, she told activists that “the Tea Party movement is not a party” and that they are “going to have to pick a party.” And on Hannity last month, she urged tea party activists to “take over” the GOP in lieu of starting their own party.

Moreover, Palin’s comments seem to contradict the will of the tea party movement. Tea party activists in Florida and Nevada have registered official political parties, but both have met fierce resistance from the grass roots. Twenty tea party groups came out “united in denouncing” the Nevada Tea Party, saying, it “is not now, has never been, and will never be affiliated with grassroots efforts in Nevada.” A Tax Day, Tea Party poll found that 94 percent of respondents believed the third party candidate should withdraw from the race.

I will not go into Sarah Palin's hypocrisy, where she first stated the Tea Party activists that they are not a political party, or when she told them to take over the GOP, whereas now Palin is urging the Tea Party to select their own third-party candidate. The hypocrisy is obvious here. The only thing I have to say here is what the frack is Sarah Palin talking about? A third party Tea Party candidate running against both a Republican and Democratic candidate? I look at the Tea Party movement as an activist conservative movement. It may have first been an activist movement against both parties, but the Tea Party movement gained support through favorable reports by Fox News, and was courted by GOP congressmen. The Tea Party is a conservative movement, whether the Republicans like it or not. Third "Tea Party" candidates will divide the Republican base in elections. Even Mitt Romney warned the Tea Party to not run third party candidates, saying such candidates would divide the GOP, and "That would hand over the country to [President] Barack Obama and [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid, and that would be very sad indeed.” Romney is correct--third party Tea Party candidates would divide the GOP, giving the Democrats better chances of winning seats--whether it is in this election or the 2012 presidential election. With the Republican Party being the Party of No, and obstructionism, I wonder how many moderates and independents are willing to vote for GOP candidates after listening to some of the threats, rancor, and fear-mongering that came from the right--especially after what went on during the debate on health care reform? This midterm election will probably be even more dirty, filthy, and rancorous from the hard-lined right.

There is another point that Sarah Palin made on how a third party candidate "can really shore-up a Republican candidate," and keeping the Republican Party to being held "accountable." Excuse me, Mrs. Palin, how is it that the Republican Party is not being held accountable to its own extremist positions? Look at the House vote on health care reform from two days ago--not a single Republican voted for the health care bill. The Republicans have been marching lockstep in opposition to just about every Democratic legislative agenda. There are almost no Republican moderates in Congress. Republicans being held accountable by third party candidates? It is nonsense.

Then again, maybe Sarah Palin is positioning herself to be the Tea Party presidential candidate for 2012. Maybe the political savvy of Sarah Palin has realized that the Republican Party will completely implode on itself, disappearing from history forever. The new conservative party movement that will replace the Grand Old Party will be the Tea Party, and Sarah Palin wants to be its new leader--fighting her way to replace Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

Of course, that will only happen when pigs fly....

Sarah Palin wants to star in her own reality TV series

Looks like former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaskan governor Sarah Palin is back in the news again (Or has she ever been out of the news?). I found this interesting news story that made me stop and ask...what? Here is a March 4, 2010 ABC News story where Palin is shopping around for her own reality TV series:

We knew Sarah Palin was in Los Angeles this week. What we didn't know was that she was around a reality TV show.

Yes, the former vice presidential candidate is venturing outside of politics and into the land of "The Real Housewives," "The Bachelor" and "Dancing With the Stars."

Palin's show would be set in Alaska and follow her family celebrating the natural beauty that surrounds them.

Her business partner is none other than reality show producer Mark Burnett, who famously asked, "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" He also helped coin the Donald Trump phrase, "You're Fired!" And he created that father of all reality shows, "Survivor."

Surviving is something Palin has mastered. But would a Palin reality program survive?

"The fact that they are shopping this show to broadcast networks, rather than cable networks, shows that there's a lot of interest in her," says Matthew Belloni, managing editor of features for The Hollywood Reporter. "I will say, she is an A-list personality and a reality show starring her would command A-list money."

Industry insiders suggest she could make well into six figures, perhaps more than $1 million an episode.

The ABC News story reports that the cast for MTV's reality series "Jersey Shore" earn around $10,000 per episode. Sarah Palin is asking for a million per episode. If someone produces 22 episodes of Palin's new series, then Palin collects a $22 million paycheck from the series. That is just Palin's paycheck--that is not counting the cost such a studio will have to pay for producing and filming each episode.

And yet, cable television networks are interested in Sarah Palin's series. From Reuters:

Sources say A&E Networks and Discovery Communications want to acquire Palin's project, which focuses on the ex-governor giving a guided tour of her native Alaska -- visiting fishing boats and taking a trip to a gold mine, to cite a couple of examples. Mark Burnett is executive producer of the project, whose working title is "Sarah Palin's Alaska."

A&E Networks hasn't officially put in a bid for the show, but sources indicate that the company is interested in the project for several of its brands -- A&E, History or Lifetime.

Discovery Communications is likewise vying for the project for one or more of its outlets, such as TLC. Some sources say the flagship Discovery Channel is no longer in play, while others say otherwise.

The former vice presidential candidate is asking for between $1 million and $1.5 million per episode, a hefty amount for a first-year cable series.

Palin initially pitched the show to broadcast networks. Given the show's laid-back nature theme and lack of high-stakes drama that tends to typify broadcast reality hits, industry executives see cable as a better fit.

A&E is the home of bold reality fare like "Intervention" and "Dog the Bounty Hunter," while Discovery has compatible outdoors series, such as Alaska-set "Deadliest Catch."

"It will sell," predicts one insider. "One way or another."

Now I'm not going to criticize Sarah Palin for being greedy here in asking for a million per episode. I'm not even going to criticize network executives for expressing interest in "Sarah Palin's Alaska." What I am surprised is that there will be probably be enough conservative Americans so willing to watch Sarah Palin give us guided tours of shooting wolves from helicopters, or showing us Russia from her house. Then again, Sarah Palin is the darling of the conservative movement. Will these conservatives turn away from the Fox News rantings to watch Sarah Palin on A&E or Discovery?

It is also interesting that Mark Burnett, the father of the "Survivor" reality TV series, has latched on to this Sarah Palin TV series. I wonder if Burnett will make Sarah Palin engage in physical challenges for an immunity idol, or not have Donald Trump tell Palin, "You're fired" from her own TV series--that is if Sarah Palin doesn't quit her reality TV series first. I guess Burnett has got to find another reality TV spin, as Survivor and the Apprentice have gotten really stale and old. There is really nothing new with either Survivor or Apprentice (Or even Celebrity Apprentice), except for the names of the contestants--be it Heroes and Villains, or the latest crop of has-been celebrities. Burnett's "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader" is really dumb--a game show based on fifth grade educational trivia questions. Of course, I've heard somewhere that the average American has the equivalence of the sixth grade education (Not sure if it is true or not), so maybe this game show appeals to average Americans. So Mark Burnett has to think up another reality TV series to go up against, not only his current crop of reality TV series, but Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Project Runway, food reality TV shows, Deadliest Catch, Dog, and who knows what other reality TV is out there. What's better than to have a popular has-been governor and VP candidate talking to her rabid, conservative-loving fan base about Alaska? I'm guessing such a series would be a hit for the conservative fans of Sarah Palin. I can't say if Sarah Palin's Alaska will gain enough ratings to pay for the show's expenses, or even Sarah Palin's million dollar per episode paycheck. Then again, I will not be watching the series.

Biden drops the F-bomb during health care bill signing

Oh my. It appears that Vice President Joe Biden just dropped a dirty F-bomb right after introducing President Barack Obama during the health care reform signing ceremony. From YouTube:

Then again, it was a big frickin' deal. So Joe was right.

Think Progress is reporting that Fox News pundits heads are exploding over Joe Biden's f-bomb gaffe. Guess Fox News doesn't have anything to say about the signing of this legislation.

Obama signs health care bill into law

President Obama signed major health care legislation into law on Tuesday. Doug Mills/The New York Times

Well, it is now official. President Obama has signed the health care legislation into law today. From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON —With the strokes of 20 pens, President Obama signed his health care overhaul — the most sweeping social legislation enacted in decades — into law on Tuesday during a festive, at times raucous, White House ceremony.

“We have just now enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care,” Mr. Obama declared in the East Room, before an audience of more than 200 Democratic lawmakers, White House aides and others who rode a yearlong legislative roller-coaster ride that ended with Sunday night’s House passage of the bill. They interrupted him repeatedly with shouts and standing ovations.

Moments later, the president sat down at a table, and affixed his left-handed, curlicue signature, almost letter by letter, to the measure, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, using 20 pens that he intended to pass out to key lawmakers and others as mementoes.

He was surrounded by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other top Democratic leaders, as well as some special guests: 11-year-old Marcelas Owens of Seattle, who became an advocate for health care reform after his mother died without health insurance, and Connie Anderson, the sister of Natoma Canfield, the Ohio cancer survivor whose struggle to pay skyrocketing premiums became a touchstone of Mr. Obama’s campaign to overhaul the system.

Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who had been a driving force for health care legislation before his death last year, was also by Mr. Obama’s side. Mrs. Kennnedy wore a blue plastic bracelet around her wrist that said “TedStrong,” and appeared emotional after the ceremony.

“I know how happy he would be,” she said of her husband, adding, “It was so meaningful for him, in a very personal way.”

And in the audience sat Mr. Kennedy’s son, Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island. He was also there, carrying a gift for the president: a copy of a bill his father introduced in 1970 to provide national health insurance. On it, the younger Mr. Kennedy had written a personal message to Mr. Obama.

For Mr. Obama, the bill signing marks a high point of his presidency. For the many House members in the audience, it marks the end of a trying, chapter, and they let the president know it as he remarked that many had “taken their lumps during this difficult debate.”

While President Obama and the Democrats are celebrating this day, Republican attorney generals in 11 states will be filing lawsuits to stop the health care legislation on grounds that it is unconstitutional. From Reuters:

(Reuters) - Less than 24 hours after the House of Representatives gave final approval to a sweeping overhaul of healthcare, attorneys general from several states on Monday said they will sue to block the plan on constitutional grounds.

Republican attorneys general in 11 states warned that lawsuits will be filed to stop the federal government overstepping its constitutional powers and usurping states' sovereignty.

States are concerned the burden of providing healthcare will fall on them without enough federal support.

Ten of the attorneys general plan to band together in a collective lawsuit on behalf of Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.

"To protect all Texans' constitutional rights, preserve the constitutional framework intended by our nation's founders, and defend our state from further infringement by the federal government, the State of Texas and other states will legally challenge the federal health care legislation," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, in a statement.

The Republican attorney generals say the reforms infringe on state powers under the Constitution's Bill of Rights.

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, who plans to file a lawsuit in federal court in Richmond, Virginia, said Congress lacks authority under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce to force people to buy insurance. The bill also conflicts with a state law that says Virginians cannot be required to buy insurance, he added.


In addition to the pending lawsuits, bills and resolutions have been introduced in at least 36 state legislatures seeking to limit or oppose various aspects of the reform plan through laws or state constitutional amendments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

So far, only two states, Idaho and Virginia, have enacted laws, while an Arizona constitutional amendment is seeking voter approval on the November ballot. But the actual enactment of the bill by President Barack Obama could spur more movement on the measures by state lawmakers.

The debate on health care has entered a new phase, where the Republicans will do anything they can to repeal this bill. Already, the lawsuits are being drawn up to be filed in court. It will probably take a couple of years for this health care bill to end up on the U.S. Supreme Court, but it will get there. Right now, there are four conservative justices on the Supreme Court--Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito. There are four liberal justices on the Supreme Court--Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. The conservative justices will probably vote against this health care reform, and the liberal justices will vote for health care reform. The swing vote here will be Justice Anthony Kennedy. The health care overhaul will take time to kick in, around four years. If the court remains at four conservative justices and four liberal justices, then Justice Kennedy will be in a very powerful position to determine the fate of health care reform in this country. I have no idea how Justice Kennedy will rule on health care reform.

Then again, the Supreme Court may change its ideological make-up over the next four years. But for that to happen, either Justice Kennedy, one of the conservative justices, will have to retire from office. This will allow President Obama to nominate a liberal justice, shifting the Court towards a liberal stance. I don't see that happening yet. There is also the possibility that President Obama may be voted out of office in 2012, with an unnamed Republican president coming in. Any Republican president will probably gut the health care reform bill, turning it into a useless program that he/she could then claim the program needs to be eliminated as an example of government waste. But that is way down the political road here.

For now, the debate is on the policy of the health care reform plan. Republicans will be filing lawsuits, calling the bill unconstitutional. President Obama is going into campaign mode, selling the health care reform bill to Americans in Iowa on Thursday. Both Democrats and Republicans will be gearing up for a massive political fight in November, with both claiming that the health care reform bill will allow them to defeat the opposing party. So far, it is too close to call, as Americans will have to digest the specifics of this bill. Then they will decide at the ballot box on whether they approve this health care reform bill, or not.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

House passes health care reform, Obama to sign.

I've been busy with a number of things, but I've been watching the events taking place on the health care debate. After the Senate passed the health care reform bill in December, the bill went into a torturous reconciliation process, where a number of House Democrats did not like the Senate version of the bill. There was a lot of back-and-forth going on between the two chambers, topped with Republican congress-critters tossing threats and temper tantrums at the Democrats for trying to reconcile the two bills. Even President Barack Obama canceled his East Asian trip to perform some last-minute arm twisting on House Democrats to vote for the health reform package.

So today was the big day for the House to debate and approve the Senate version of the health care reform bill.

The House approved the Senate's health care reform bill 219-212. From ABC News:

The House of Representatives passed the sweeping health care bill with a narrow margin, securing a significant victory for President Obama, who lobbied hard this week for the controversial legislation.

The vote was certain after the House Democratic leadership finalized a deal this afternoon with anti-abortion Democrats to vote for the health care bill in exchange for an executive order from Obama affirming no federal funding for abortion.

The House today voted on two separate pieces of legislation. One, the Senate health care bill and second, the amendments to that bill made by House members and Obama.

The bill now goes to the president's desk to sign, after which it will become law. The White House has not yet decided where or when Obama will sign the Senate health care bill, which he needs to do before the "fixes" to that bill begin to be debated in the Senate, though White House officials say it will not be this evening.

As the last speaker before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said that by passing the bill, Congress would be taking a historic step.

"We will be joining those who established Social Security, Medicare and now, tonight, health care for all Americans," Pelosi said.

The bill still has to go back to the Senate for approval of reconciliation "fixes" that House Democrats have proposed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid assured the House, Saturday, that he has the 51 majority vote needed to pass the fixes, with the Senate expected to pick up the bill on Tuesday. Health care reform will be law.

Watching this debate unfold, what really interested me here is a couple of factors. The big factor has been the Republican response to the entire health care debate. The GOP never wanted any such health care reform passed--be it a Democratic health care reform or a Republican health care reform. In fact, I don't think the Republicans had a health care reform package they could sell to the American public. They never bothered taking up the mantle of health care reform, at least since President Richard Nixon looked at reforming a national health insurance plan for Americans. The GOP and the health insurance industry completely shot down President Bill Clinton's health care plan in 1994. Even when the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress under George W. Bush, they never bothered looking at health care, with the exception of passing the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act in 2003. But the prescription drug act is not passing a comprehensive health care bill for all Americans, but rather overhauling Medicare to provide prescription drugs to its recipients. But when you get Blue Cross raising health insurance premiums to its customers by 39 percent this month, and around 45 million Americans are uninsured, the Republicans have turned a blind eye to this growing problem. For the past two years, the GOP refused to join the Democrats in a bipartisan attempt to reform health care, using obstructionism, threats, lies, and deceit as a means to kill health care reform--Death panels anyone? The Republicans thought that by playing the obstructionist game, then Americans would suffer so much under a crushing health care system, job losses, a recessionary economy, and all sorts of other problems, that they would vote the Democrats out of Congress, and bring the Republicans back into the majority. Then the Republicans could play even more obstructionism against President Obama until 2012, when Sarah Palin will be elected into the Oval Office? So the Republicans were united in opposing health care reform. The vote even shows such opposition, since not one Republican House member voted for the health reform bill tonight.

That has all changed. Republican obstructionism failed. It brings me to a second factor in that the passage of this health care bill was a victory that President Obama really needed to re-energize his presidential agenda. Health care reform was a major Obama campaign promise during the 2008 presidential election. When President Obama stepped into the Oval Office, he tried to fulfill his promise of health care reform, but made some serious mistakes. The first mistake Obama made was that he never took the bully pulpit and tell Congress, "This is what I want from health care reform. Here are my proposals, now let us work together in creating real reform." I got the impression that Obama administration took a hands off approach to health care reform, instead saying, "Okay Congress, pass some health care legislation so I can sign it." Talk about a near recipe for disaster. Both congressional houses passed their own versions of health care reform bill which neither house liked the other chamber's bill. I am actually amazed at how close the bill passed tonight. The second mistake the Obama administration made in health care was really allowing the Republicans to control the message on health care for the past couple of years. Think about it--what do you remember of the message on health care reform? I remember death panels, Obamacare killing grandma, Obamacare reducing your Medicare benefits, Obamacare raising taxes, and Obamacare. I remember Tea Party protests, town hall disruptions organized by conservative groups, and even health insurance industry urging their employees to attend protest groups against health care reform. Looking back at the debate in 2009, it seemed like the message pounded into the American public was that health care reform was a terrible bill--look at all these Americans who are afraid of the evils of health care reform. Health care reform should be stopped. That was the message, brought to you by the Republican Party. I never heard much from the Obama administration to counter the Republican spin on health care. And yet, I look at the polls on the health care debate, Americans are split on whether they approve or disapprove of health care reform--it actually depends on how the question is phrased to shift Americans' opinions for either approval or disapproval on the issue. So President Obama lost the message on health care reform to the Republicans. That should have been enough to kill the issue, but it didn't.

Health care reform passed. I think in the last three months, President Obama and the Democrats woke up to the possibility that this reform bill will not pass. The turning point may have been when Massachusetts Republican state senator Scott Brown won a huge victory over Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley for the late Ted Kennedy's vacant Senate seat in late January. Republicans thought that this was the American voters' repudiation of President Obama, and the congressional Democrats, agenda. I think it is a voter's anger over incumbents--both Democrat and Republican. Either way, this was a wake-up call for both President Obama and the Democrats. They needed to pass health care soon, and show a major legislative achievement for the Democrats, and a political victory for President Obama. President Obama needed to show the American people that he could deliver a campaign promise--especially during a troubled economic time, where Americans are worried about their jobs, their financial situation, the housing crisis, and the health care crisis.

Not only that, but 2010 is a midterm election year, where the president's party usually loses seats. If the health care reform debate was dragged out into the late summer/early fall, the Republicans would use health care in attack ads against Democrats in conservative-leaning states and districts. Those Democratic lawmakers would be more worried about their jobs, rather than about passing legislation. Health care would never have passed. And if the Republicans did take control of at least one house, we'll say the Senate, then the GOP majority leadership would simply throw the health care reform bill in the trash. Of course, the Republicans will obviously use this passage of health care reform in attack ads against the Democrats, but President Obama can also tell American voters that he fulfilled his campaign promise to deliver health care reform. This is huge. If President Obama failed at passing health care reform, I think it would have emboldened the Republicans, and conservative constituents, into greater attacks against the Democrats, and the president, for control of Congress. Such emboldened conservative constituents may have gone out of their way to vote Republican candidates in. The Democrats failure at passing health care reform would have also angered their liberal constituents. Would liberal Democrats have gone out of their way to vote for Democratic candidates that failed to deliver on health care reform? I'm sure there are plenty of liberal activists that are speculating on whether to replace those Democratic House members that have voted against the health care reform bill.

Finally, there is President Obama. This could have been a huge failure for the President, who was elected into office on a campaign promise of hope and change. Americans wanted change. If President Obama failed to pressure the Democrats into passing health care reform, he would have been seen by Americans as a president who could not deliver on his campaign promise of hope and change. President Obama would certainly have been a lame duck in the final two years of his first term in office--especially if an emboldened GOP gained control of the Senate. But now, the midterm elections have been changed. President Obama can sell his health care campaign promise to the American voters. The Democrats can attack the Republicans as being against providing affordable health care to Americans. The Republicans can still still play obstructionism and use fear attacks against the president and the Democrats on health care, however, I think the fear factor will be greatly diminished against the moderates and independents (the hard-lined conservatives will still believe in Obamacare's death panels).

This midterm election will still be about the issue of health care. But now the focus will shift to what will this new health care law do for the American voter? Instead of fear-mongering, the issue will be on legal specifics of this law. I think that will be more difficult for Republicans to raise with their fear-mongering, which they will still engage in. Finally, this huge hurdle is over for the Democrats and President Obama--they can now concentrate on other issues, such as financial reform, or jobs. President Obama and the congressional Democrats can work on passing more legislation, against Republican obstructionism, that they can also sell to the American voters. With the health care reform bill passed, American voters can now decide if this is the direction that they want to see their country heading towards, and vote accordingly. This is a whole new midterm election.