Monday, January 25, 2010

How Obama botched healthcare

To pass something as far reaching as healthcare reform and as far reaching as a public option, requires having the courage of your convictions.

The problem with Obama is that he has had no courage and no convictions, and as anyone familiar with his entire political career knows, he never did. For anyone who thinks he did, you can count yourself among the multitudes of the bamboozled.

When Obama was in the Illinois state senate he voted "present" over 100 times so he didn't have to vote for or against anything. That's not courage or conviction. It's political expediency so he didn't have a record on anything people could vote against when he ran for re-election.
And that is the overriding reason why healthcare reform languished, ( something I pointed out as far back as July when I said Obama was botching it) .

Obama never drew any lines in the sand because he didn't have any. He didn't give the congress any direction or any ideas because he didn't have any. And honestly, he didn't care. Yes he wanted something to pass but only so that he could say he passed it and then go on to the next thing. When it looked like it was going to be the senate version without a public option that would become law, he actually said he had never campaigned for a public option anyway. The audacity of lying.

Obama took a proposition -- the public option -- that was supported by 72% of the public according to a CBS poll, and managed to run it into the ground. The public option was a very easy sell. Somewhow he managed to blow it.

He supported the public option but then as soon as the town hall crazies showed up with their Hitler signs, Obama's knees buckled and the next thing we knew he was sending out proxies saying the public option was only a "sliver" of the health care bill and not that important and he could live without it.

The next day, Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean as well as other members of congress went public saying it was the "centerpiece" of healthcare reform and had to drag Obama back to supporting it. Which he did. Until the anti public option commercials and town hall crazies made his knees buckle again and he dropped it.

This is what went on for 9 months and in the end, Obama's idea of presidential leadership was trying to pressure 59 Democratic senators who were ready to vote for a public option, to give it up to satisfy one senator, Joe Lieberman, who opposed it. Obama didn't know how to handle him. And in the end, Obama didn't care. The public option was not something he was going to fight for because he has never fought for or against anything in his life.

Obama didn't get tough with Lieberman, didn't twist his arm, didn't have any powers of persuasion and offered no carrots and no sticks when he had ample supplies of both ( but didn't know how to use them) and instead told the senate to just throw in the towel and give in to Lieberman.

They ended up with a piece of legislation coming out of the senate that its supporters said was "better than nothing". Not exactly change people believed in.

Democrats have been getting beaten in recent elections because "better than nothing" is not what people want. Those who believed in Obama in the first place were bamboozled. They need to admit it, get over it and stop waiting for Obama to turn into something is isn't and never was.

Obama caused this mess in the first place by trying to play politics, making a bipartisan bill a goal for no good reason. The Democrats had 60 votes in the senate and at least 58 ready to vote for a public option and what does Obama do? Instead of taking advantage of that majority in any way he could he wasted everyone's time with a senseless attempt at trying to molify those who were against reform in the first place.

Bipartisanship never makes anything better. It's only important if youre worried something will fail and then you want to be able to spread the blame. In 1993 every Republican in the House and senate voted against Bill Clinton's 1993 budget because they said the 5c a gallon gasoline tax earmarked to reduce the deficit would drive up unemployment, explode the deficit and send the country into a deeper recession. The Republcians batted 1.000. They were wrong about everything.

The budget passed with only 51 votes, with Al Gore casting the tie breaking vote, and the results were the greatest economic expansion in US history, the elimination of the deficit, lowest unemployment in 40 years, a balanced budget and a $5 1/2 trillion budget surplus by the time Clinton left office. So much for the value of bipartisanship.

Bi partisanship is never a worthy goal. But it does take courage to stand up for what you believe in the face of unified opposition. Obama should have fought for the public option and made his case to the American people, a case they had already for the most part, bought.

Instead Obama caused the congress to waste months trying to negotiate with Republicans who made it clear they were going to oppose healthcare reform to the end, if for no other reason then to make Obama look like an idiot. And Obama took it lying down.

Obama could have used Jim DeMint's comments about opposing healthcare in order to destroy Obama as a rallying cry, to say to the country "the Republicans are ready to deny 300 million people the healthcare reform they need just to get back at me for crass partisan purposes". He could have made the Republicans pay dearly and get the reform passed.

He didn't. He didnt know how.

Obama doesn't know how to fight because he never has. He used the word "fight" 14 times in his town hall speech in Ohio on the economy.But he never fought for the public option, never stood up to the Republicans or the insurance companies, and let 30% of the country who opposed it, set the agenda for the 70% who wanted it, because the 30% made the most noise. Obama is now talking fight, but has always been about words without backing them up. Like his promise to use public financing if he was the Democratic nominee.Or any number of other pledges or promses he's broken.

The truth is, it never should have come to this on healthcare. The bill should have been passed a long time ago and wasn't because of Obama's lack of leadership. He let the Republicans define the debate and sat back and did virtually nothing.He took a proposition like the public option which 65- 72% of the people supported back in June, and somehow blew it.

They are now talking about trying to pass aspects of the health bill piece meal. That wont work.. Not after all this. The congress needs to do something radical, to take matters into their own hands and figure out how to use reconciliation to get sweeping healthcare reform through. Reconciliation is a process they should have used immediately and they would have avoided all the rancor and bluster of town hall meetings and talking heads and $200 million in anti reform commercials.. But Obama didnt.

In the end, Scott Brown's victory shouldnt matter. The House was never going to buy the senate version of the bill anyway, which in fact they havent. And the senate was never going to have 60 votes to pass a bill with a public option because Obama didnt know how to use common sense, persuasion and a threat of losing the Homeland Security chairmanship on Joe Lieberman.

As recently as last month, two polls., the respected Kaiser Family Foundation poll and the not so respected Washington Post poll, showed that 58% and 57% respectively supported and wanted a public option. If you cant win with that kind of public support, when can you win?

So now it's finding a way to use budget reconciliation even if some Democratic senators don't like it and ram it through. If they don't ,Obama and the Democratic congress lose all credibility. And probably the next election.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Limbaugh's sewer brain overflows over Haiti

Rush Limbaugh's sewer brain overflowed the 20 million brain drains that listen to him, his latest rant complaining about Obama's immediate response to the Haitian earthquake compared to his waiting 3 days to comment about the Christmas day bomb attempt.

Little Rushy took his thumb and his cigar out of his mouth long enough to complain that Obama took 3 whole days to reassure little Rushy and his listeners that their cribs were safe in the bomb attempt on flight 253 but only hours to make a public statement about the earthquake in Haiti. One can only imagine how many packages of Depends Rushy went through until Obama reassured him about the Nigerian bomber.

It seems that the "titular head" of the Republican party, the party of personal responsibility needs and wants a daddy not a president and that an event isn't an event until president daddy says it is.

Limbaugh also accused Obama of acting quickly to solidify his support politically among African Americans. It's understandable since Republicans do nothing or say nothing and believe in nothing unless its for political reasons and to solidify their support politically.

The underlying point of Rushy's temper tantrum is that Haiti is 95% black, Obama had a black father, and therefore according to Limbaugh it's nothing more than blatant racism motivating Obama in his response to Haiti.

Limbaugh followed up his asinine comments with more: He referred to the food coming in to Haiti as "meals on wheels" and then discouraged his listeners from donating by saying, "you've already donated to Haiti -- it's called income taxes".

But before anyone thinks Limbaugh's contempt for Haiti is anything new, in May of 2009 he descended as far into the sewer of his own being as possible when he commented on Bill Clinton's involvement with Haiti saying, " Clinton has no place in Haiti. You cant pick up a prostitute there without a real concern about getting AIDS".
This is the voice of conservatism in America. And the voice of Republicans.

The question is, when are people who know how to organize going to organize a national boycott of Limbaugh's advertisers until he is gone? And when are the Democrats, as politically incompetent as ever, going to hold the Republicans and conservatives' feet to the fire over Limbaugh and the fact that he has been embraced as their "titular head"?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Republican lies and denial over terrorism

Amazingly there seems to be some debate, prodded mostly by conservatives, over Obama's approach to terrorism versus that of George W. Bush. Rudy Guiliani, taking partisanship to new lows, said on the Today Show that " we were never attacked under Bush's watch but we were under Obama's."

Was it that the former Mayor of New York City couldnt remember 911 when he mentioned it every other sentence when he was running in the Republican presidential primaries or was he so used to partisan dishonesty it just tumbled out of his mouth?

He also seemed to forget Richard Reid, the shoe bomber whose attempts at blowing up a plane were almost identical to the Nigerian on flight 253.
But Guiliani couldn't remember that either. In fact even on the Sunday talk shows, on both Fox and CNN there were Republican critics trying to make the point of how wrong it is to try the Nigerian in a federal court when that is exactly what Bush did with Richard Reid.

To listen to Republicans, the 3000 people killed under Bush, the loss of the World Trade Center and Richard Reid all just slipped ther minds, and in Guilliani's case claiming we were never attacked under Bush but were under Obama, revealed the worst aspects of Republican politics -- people so used to lying and distorting the truth that a failed attack on Flight 253 became an attack and 911 wasnt part of the argument.

After making such an obviously stupid and partisan statement, Guiliani's spokesman issued a "clarification" about what Guiliani "really meant".

But what Guiliani really meant was to bash Obama, take heat off of Bush for this catastrophic failures and make it as partisan as he could for cheap political purposes.

What conservatives continue to lie about is the fact that terrorism wouldnt be the issue it is now were it not for the gross negligence and criminal incompetence of George W. Bush, Condoleeza Rice and Dick Cheney prior to the 911 attacks.

It was Bush's negligence in refusing to take terrorism seriously and downplaying it which led to his demoting Richard Clarke, abolishing the Principles Meeting, ignoring othe warnings of the CIA and Richard Clarke that we were about to be hit with a major terrorist attack, refusing to have one single meeting on terrorism in the 8 months leading to the attack and much more.

Instead conservatives go on television, deny and cover up Bush's culpability in the 911 attack, and try to sell the idea that we are less safe now than under Bush because Obama doesn't take terrorism seriously. They refuse to acknowledge out of sheer partisanship that it was Bush who didn't take it seriously unti we were hit.

Had it not been for a press afraid to hold Bush accountable, Bush would have been impeached for 911. Instead, despite the gross negligence of the Bush Administration we heard this on Fox News from Bill O'Reilly.

"From the very beginning, President Obama has relentlessly tried to downplay and deny the nature of the terrorist threat we continue to face."

This is not to defend Obama since no one really knows what is going on behind the scenes. Terrorism is being fought by career professionals not politicians and its simply a matter of implementing the resources available and making sure they work.

Conservatives, who for years have used national security as a political football seem to forget that it was a conservative president more concerned with China, star wars, and the ABM treaty who discounted and downplayed terrorism as a threat who ignored the information that would have prevented 911 and has brought us to where we are now.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Obama's serial lying catching up with him

If there was anything that anyone following the Democratic primaries could see if they were willing to see what was in front of them, was that Barrack Obama lied on a regular basis about many things.

He lied for 5 consecutive days about his relationship with Jeremiah Wright until new information kept coming out that made each lie unsustainable until he couldn't lie about Wright any further. That led to Obama, knowing his back was to the wall, to give his speech on race, something his supporters called his "Lincoln Moment" but I called his Eddie Haskell moment after the smarmy ingratiating character on Leave It To Beaver.

But Obama had told outright lies before. The previous year he had gone on the record as supporting the Washington DC gun ban. When, a year later, the Supreme Court ruled the ban unconstitutional, Obama came out and supported the Supreme Court decision. When it was pointed out that he was reversing his position from the year before, he denied he had ever supported the ban even though it was easily proved that he did because his support of the DC gun ban was on the record. (exactly the same ruse he used over the public option two years after).

He was caught lying to the people of Ohio about his position on NAFTA saying that if he was elected he'd get rid of it. Ohio manufacturing had been hard hit by NAFTA and Obama was telling the people of Ohio just what they wanted to hear. But a memo was leaked showing that Obama had sent an emissary to the Canadian Embassy in Chicago telling the Canadians to ignore what he was saying about NAFTA that it was just politics and only for public consumption and he had no intention of getting rid of NAFTA.

That lie, preying on the fears and misfortunes of the unemployed in Ohio should have been enough to sink a presidential candidacy but not Obama's because the mainstream media decided to turn a blind eye to it and act like it was nothing.
Obama continued to lie about it for another 5 days, first claiming that the emissary was not from his campaign, then after proof surfaced that he was, tried to claim he was there on his own and not sent by the campaign, then after proof surfaced that was a lie, tried to claim he was part of the campaign and was there but was never told to say that. Then after that was proved to be a lie Obama changed the subject, lost to Clinton in Ohio by a landslide and the media just moved on.
The very people complaining the loudest now about Obama selling them out, people like Frank Rich of the Times, the Daily Kos, and Ed Schulz on MSNBC ignored all of Obama's lying during the campaign.

That emissary by the way, the one Obama tried to claim was not part of his campaign, was Austan Goolsbee, a current member of Obama's economic team.

Other Obama lies were his promise to filibuster the FISA bill if it contained retrocative immunity to the telecoms and a promise to vote against any such bill. He didnt' filibuster it and voted for it.

He promised verbally and in writing, to use public financing if he was the Democratic nominee as part of his pledge to change the way things were done in Washington and then reneged as soon as he became the nominee, outraising John McCain $500 million to $88 million because McCain also pledged to use public financing but stuck to it.

Now, in the face of Democratic anger for abandoning the public option, Obama has come out with perhaps his most bald faced lie only this time it seems his supporters aren't drinking the Kool- Aid.

Obama told the Washington Post in a recent interview that those supporters who feel that Obama had betrayed them for selling out the public option, are confused and their anger misplaced, that he had never campaigned for a public option. The problem is everyone knows he did and there is ample proof that he did.

Proving the lie was so easy in the age of YouTube that you have to consider there is more going on than just the lyng so many politicians do. In Obama's case it's not only blatant but so obvious that his lies seem almost sociopathic, like he can't help himself, maybe because he';s been doing it for so long.

Considering the President of the United States is the most scrutizined person in the world, and the healthcare debate the most contentious political issue in 40 years, one really has to ask how Obama thought he could lie about that and get away with it.

This is what he said on 7/17/08:

Essentially . . we're going to set up a public plan that all persons and all women can access if they don't have health insurance. It will be a plan that will provide all essential services, including reproductive services." (7/17/07)

This is what Obama's own campaign literature said in 2008:

(1) OBAMA’S PLAN TO COVER UNINSURED. Obama will make available a new national health plan that will allow individuals without access to affordable insurance coverage

Through the Exchange, any American will be able to enroll in the new public plan or purchase an approved private plan

The Exchange will require that all the plans offered are at least as generous as the new public plan and the same standards for quality and efficiency.

And some of his most ardent cheerleaders are not amused. The Daily Kos said this:.

"This revisionist history has to stop. President Obama DID campaign on the public plan, now known as the public option, and playing semantics with that is silly."

And now Obama is compounding his lie by saying the bill that was passed by the senate is 95% of what he wanted. Obama said in the interview with PBS that the idea that he compromised "is incorrect," that the bill might not have everything other people wanted but contains 95% of everything HE wanted.

For those complaining now, from Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone to Frank Rich in the New York Times, to Ed Schultz of MSNBC, the NY Times, The Nation and many others, they need to remember that the evidence of Obama's blatant lying and reneging on promises was evident long before he ever won the nomination and they chose to turn a blind eye. At the time, towards he end of the primaries I had written that Obama was the most deceitful and underhanded candidate for President since Richard Nixon. But the mass media didnt care. Their agenda was to elect a president with African features ( he isnt the first black president, he is half black, another fact the media likes to ignore) and they were willing to let themselves be conned. Which might make them think about the old adage that people get the government they deserve.

Nancy Pelosi whacked Obama a few days ago with an off hand remark when she was asked why the Democrats wouldnt open the conference comittee on health care to cameras. A reporter pointed out that Obama had campaigned on it. Pelosi said in a somewhat sarcastic way, " there were a lot of things he said he was for on the campaign trail".

Now it's starting to look as though Obama is going to be having a real Lincoln Moment. But this one has to do with Lincoln's line, " cant fool all of the people all of the time".