Sunday, September 29, 2013

Why Obamacare is a ticking time bomb for Democrats.

Forget the Romper Room politics being practiced by Republican members of the House  and a cut rate demagogue like Ted Cruz. Forget the  congenital lies told by Republicans and the Tea Party about Obamacare or any kind of health care reform.  Forget the anarchistic government shut down by right wing juveniles who think they can undermine an election because they didnt get their way. And  also forget the lies and snake oil being spread by Obama and left wing sycophants like ThinkProgress, DailyKos, MoveOn and other so called "progressive" groups who lie and distort the facts in trying to defend Obamacare as much as the Tea Party and Republicans lie in trying to stop it.

This is about facts as related to Obamacare and health care,  nothing less and nothing more, something right wing Republicans, journalists like Chuck Todd, David Gregory and Wolf Blitzer and others covering Washington, or the aforementioned blind supporters of Obama and their web sites choose to ignore, either because of the right wing's blind hatred of Obama or people who call themselves "progessives" equally blind support of Obama and hatred of the right with the always fearful mainstream news media standing in the middle staring at their shoes.

While the Republican shut down of government is sure to blow up in their faces because they oppose any healthcare reform at all, the first thing to keep in mind about Obamacare is that nothing that is the product of corruption, bad motives, lack of principle and sheer dishonesty can ever have a good outcome, whether its a marriage, a promotion, or getting a job. And Obamacare and it's sell out of the public healthcare option to the health insurance lobby is a product of all that.


Obamacare is not, as many media outlets and sycophants report, Obama's signature legislative achievement. It is the opposite and represents Obama's biggest and most significant failure, a sell out of the public healthcare option for which he campaigned, promised,  had the votes in congress to pass and which was supported by a substantial majority of Americans and could have become law, but was dropped because Obama at the last minute caved in to the health insurance lobby. Look at the photo above. In every town hall meeting prior to this photo the banner behind Obama read: "Healthcare Reform". But when Obama sold out to the insurance companies in a back room deal at the White House in August of 2009 without telling anyone, the banner was quietly changed to "Health Insurance Reform". He hoped no one would notice. And no one did.

The public option was the closest thing to universal healthcare that was possible at the time and would have created more good for more people, and created more justice for more people than anything since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It also would have been a boon to the economy for many reasons.  And as conservative Ben Stein pointed out on CNN, universal healthcare is not a liberal idea. It was something Richard Nixon tried to implement in 1973. 

Obama had the votes to pass the government run public option in 2009 and in fact the Democratically controlled House did pass it,  but it never came to fruition because Obama wouldn't stand up to the health insurance lobby who were against it and instead replaced the public option at their urging with what is now known as Obamacare. 

For those who don't know, Obamacare was and is a bill written almost in it's entirety by and for the health insurance industry lobby and as such almost all the real benefits goes to insurance companies not people, which will be detailed below.

For anyone who doubts this or thinks this is an exaggeration or the kind of cheap political hyperbole common in politics on both sides,  watch the PBS Frontline documentary on Obamacare and how it came about which chronicles Obama's cave in to the health insurance lobby and how the health insurance lobby itself essentially wrote the law that is now Obamacare. There is even an interview with the health insurance industry's chief lobbyist who not only admits they were instrumental in writing the bill but says how pleased she was with the outcome.

This outcome is the product of one of the worst political sellouts in history by both Obama, Nancy Pelosi  and Harry Reid who said repeatedly during the completely unnecessary and disastrous health care reform debate that "the public option is the centerpiece of healthcare reform".  Pelosi betrayed her own conscience, convictions, Democrats in the House and the American people by going along with Obama's plan to drop the public option and she supported the health insurance lobby replacement known as Obamacare.

The original bill had the same health insurance exchanges that are being set up now. But one of the choices on the exchange was going to be the government run public health care option.  The insurance companies didn't want to compete with that and Obama, Pelosi and Reid all obliged and the public option was dropped.

In light of the relentless cheerleading of Obamacare by "progressive"  groups and web sites like MoveOn, DailyKos and ThinkProgress, and the administration itself,  its important to keep in mind that days before the senate vote,  that right wing extremist Tea Party Republican rabble rouser, Howard Dean, former Democratic candidate for president, former governor of Vermont, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a physician,  called  Obamacare  "junk" .  He said Democrats should "junk it" and start over with the public option. One other person of prominence, social responsibility and integrity said exactly the same thing -- Warren Buffet.  Buffet predicted in 2010 that Obamacare would be a disaster and said as did Dean that it should be junked and that Democrats should start over.

Two days before the senate vote which would only have required only 51 votes since the bill  was going to be voted on using reconciliation, 55 senate Democrats came out publicly to say they would vote for the public option in an attempt to give Obama some backbone. The operation was a failure.

Immediately after the vote on Obamacare, after  Obama had put congressional Democrats' back to the wall  forcing them to either vote for it or go home empty handed,   Senator Tom Harkin, was asked how he felt about passing the bill. His answer? "It's better than nothing". Senator Bernie Sanders said the same. And that was the overall feeling among the Democratic senators who voted for it as were most of the demoralized Democratic members of the House who were virtually forced into voting for it by Pelosi.

The political aftermath of passing Obamacare instead of a public option was exactly as I had predicted months before in a column where I wrote when it became clear that Obama was going to drop the public option,  that if Pelosi and Reid didn't take the reins, take the issue away from Obama and pass the public option anyway,  Democrats would get wiped out in the 2010 elections. Pelosi and Reid didn't and Democrats did, suffering the worst political defeat of any party in 80 years. And to this day many Democrats are in denial as to why.

And as recently as this year, before the Supreme Court issued its ruling on Obamacare's constitutionality, Howard Dean said that he hoped the court would over turn it and rule it unconstitutional again calling it junk and said Democrats needed to start over and return to trying to pass a public option.  Warren Buffet said much the same thing.


Let's see why all this talk about insurance premiums being "lowered" and how wonderful it is now that people are able to get "affordable" insurance and "quality care" and how great Obamacare is going to be is exactly what Howard Dean and Warren Buffet said it was -- junk and represents a missed opportunity for real reform.

First, President Clinton correctly and distinctly defined one of the biggest problems that have plagued America when it comes to health care and that is health care costs and its drain on the U.S. economy. Clinton pointed out that 60% of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are the result of health care costs. The Big Three auto makers have stated that one third of the cost of building a car in America are health insurance costs. The problem with Obamacare? It does nothing to solve this problem. Michael Weinberg, a consultant who is helping businesses deal with the requirements of Obamacare said the law will do nothing to rein in health care costs. Which, for Obama, Nancy Pelosi and those who might have forgotten, was supposed to be one of the primary goals of health care reform.

On the other hand imagine the boon to the economy had there been a government run health insurance option that people could have chosen over private insurance which would have been close to a Medicare for all program giving everyone quality healthcare for little or no cost which would have also brought down the cost of healthcare. It would have meant more money in workers pockets who no longer had to share the cost of insurance premiums. And for businesses that also chose to leave the insurance companies for the public option, a dramatic reduction in the cost of doing business increasing their bottom line, making goods and services less expensive, stimulating demand  and increasing employment. Far from the "job killing" bill Republicans first attached to the public option, it would have increased jobs and at the same time reduced the cost of healthcare. Obamacare will do neither.

What Obamacare will do, is not, as Obama dishonestly claimed, "get health insurance for 32 million people". It's designed to get 32 million new customers for the health insurance industry and enrolling all of them  is on what the entire success of Obamacare depends. The chances are it will never happen. And you will see why.

"Health insurance has suddenly become affordable in New York" crowed Elizabeth Benjamin, vice president with the Community Service Society of New York. " it's not bargain basement prices, but we're going from Bergdorf's to Filene's".

That's great isn't it? What a triumph. People who do not have health insurance because they can't afford it are now being told by Obamacare that they have to go out and shop at Filene's and oh, don't worry, if you are really in financial straights we'll help you with some subsidies. The problem is, as will be shown, they will have to pay Filene prices and, if they enroll, get garage sale quality.

The bottom level insurance plans now being offered, silver plans, the cheapest tier which comes in at around $320 a month, didn't exist a year ago. They were written specifically by the health insurance industry to be offered on the exchanges specifically for Obamacare.  And what these proponents of Obamacare who are crowing about how "cheaply" you can now buy insurance don't tell you is what you get for the money. Which is practically nothing, with high co-pays and high out of pockets and deductibles that can,even for low end plans be as high as $6,000. And on top of that offers extremely limited choices of providers.

 So with the success of Obamacare depending on the 32 million healthy young people who now don't have insurance primarily because of cost coming in to the market,these people, on the lowest end,  are asked to spend $3600 a year out of their pockets in premiums for the privilege of having to spend another $6,000 in co-pays and out of pocket deductibles before they see any real benefits and severely limits what medical facilities and doctors they can see.  Even at the lowest end of the spectrum and with government subsidies the deductibles are at a minimum, $2,000  on top of the monthly premiums and which includes co-pays. So why wouldn't a presently uninsured healthy person just continue to do what most of them do now if they need medical attention and can't afford it --  go to an emergency room where the law says they have to be treated with or without insurance.

The New York Times even in trying to carry water for Obamacare admits:  " The least expensive plans,  some offered by newcomers to the  market may not offer wide access to hospitals and doctors experts predict".

'Not offer wide access"  on the lower tier plans is a gross understatement. In California the best hospitals and doctors are all excluded from the cheaper plans. Cedars Sinai is excluded as are all California university hospitals like UCLA Medical Center and USC Medical Center. In the small state of New Hampshire almost every top clinic and hospital is excluded from the cheaper plans on which Obamacare depends, and in many cases anyone purchasing the least expensive plans will have to drive more than an hour to get to a facility that is included in the plan.

These cheaper plans, written exclusively for Obamacare are going to go largely unwanted once people see what they cost and what they are not getting for their money, money they couldn't afford to spend on health insurance in the first place. Obamacare's success is predicated on those 32 million  signing up and buying up these low end plans. If they don't Obamacare falls to pieces.

As for lowering insurance rates at the mid and upper level policies one man in New York talking to the New York Times said he now pays $18,000 a year for a high deductible policy for a family of three. He said in the interview that he would be reluctant to part ways with his current insurer after looking at what was being offered in the mid level policy range and was "disappointed" that even the least expensive plan offered by Oxford, his current insurer, will cost about as much as he pays now.

At the same time, The NY Times praised Obamacare for reducing the cost of insurance ( not healthcare) but also pointed out that "the provision is designed to bring in a flood  of young healthy people into the insurance pools which helps reduce the cost of coverage for older and sicker enrollees".

Robert F. Frank writing in the Business section of the Times pointed out that for Obamacare to "have a chance at working everyone must be all in, all the presently uninsured" must be willing to shell out at least the $308 a month for the cheapest plans which is going to offer practically nothing of real value and require high deductibles. So it is likely there is not going to be any "flood".

There are indications that under Obamacare a family of four in New York will still pay $24,000 a year in insurance premiums. Compare that to the public option which would have cost people virtually nothing and Obamacare becomes one of the greatest examples of bait and switch of all time, something even the  most unscrupulous used car salesman would be too embarrassed to pull. And remember again, this bill was written largely by the health insurance lobby as chronicled by PBS' Frontline. So it should come as no surprise.

So why does the NY Times and those "progressive" web sites keep extolling the virtues of  Obamacare and cheap insurance and keep  forgetting that it was the insurance companies who were the problem in the first place? And why do they keep forgetting that the public option was supposed to be the solution to insurance company abuses and ridiculously high costs? Ask them.

While the Times and "progressive" web sites continue to crow about the virtues of Obamacare  reducing the cost of insurance let's look at facts as put out by the Obama administration itself  and decide if this sounds like a good deal or snake oil:

For a family of four with an annual income of $50,000 a year the cheapest plans will vary widely with premiums for the second cheapest plan averaging $600 a month in Arizona, $800 a month in Georgia, $961 a month in Indiana, $1,069 a month in Mississippi, $859 in New Hampshire, $943 in New Jersey and $656 in Utah. Getting all misty eyed yet over how wonderful it all is?

Can you imagine living in Mississippi, earning $50,000 a year, having a family of four and yet still have to shell out $13,000 a year for health insurance? Are you kidding? For a plan that will exclude seeing the best doctors and hospitals in your state because they wont be included in the plan's network? And this is what Obamacare supporters are crowing about? This is supposed to be reform? This is supposed to be affordable for people looking for cheap plans?

Even with all the subsidies a single person making $25,000 a year will have to pay almost $1800 a year in health insurance premiums they are not paying now for the privilege of what? Driving an hour to get to a doctor or clinic that will take the plan and then paying a high co-pay and deductibles that can be as high as $6,000 a year?

The other thing no one is saying is that these monthly rates state by state are average rates.
"Average" means in New York for example, someone living in New York City is going to pay 80% higher than someone living in Rochester - $611 a month in New York city compared to $337 in Rochester.  So don't be fooled by these $308 a month low tier premiums averages for plans offering  tire iron colonoscopies. Those are averaged out.  So even within the city of Rochester the cost of premiums can range from a low of $218 a month to $366 depending on precisely where you live,  which gives the $337 average.

Again, compare that to the public option which would have cost people practically nothing and you see why Howard Dean and Warren Buffet both called Obamacare junk and said it should be scraped and Democrats should start over.  And why this might be the greatest domestic policy failure by a president in history, all of which was avoidable if Obama had stuck to his promise for real reform and not caved in to the insurance companies.

You don't have to side with Republicans who want no healthcare reform at all to want to see Obamacare junked and replaced with a public option. And any Democrat who doesn't distance themselves from what has all the makings of a disaster and fiasco and who doesn't get out in front of this and start talking about returning to a public option which is what should have been passed in the first place,  is going to be in very deep water.

Most of the uninsured, when they see what they are being offered from these bottom tier insurance plans that will cost anywhere from $1800-$3600 a year depending on the subsidies they qualify for and offer  limited providers and high out of pockets, will prefer to keep their money in their pocket and go to an emergency room for free treatment if  necessary. And  if that happens Obamacare will fail completely. And if Democrats don't distance themselves from all this before that happens,  Obamacare could send the entire Democratic party to the emergency room politically.


Even the Huffington Post, a long time cheerleader for Obama just published a study that confirms just about everything presented here. And they practically accuse Obama of lying at worst, misrepresenting at best, in his statements about what people, both insured and currently uninsured will be able to get for their money under Obamacare. After additional research and fact checking, Huffington Post confirms that people purchasing the lowest tier level of health insurance, will still end up having to pay on average 40% of their health care costs out of their own pockets on top of the additional monthly premiums, deductibles and co-pays under the health care plans offered by insurance companies on the Obamacare exchanges.

The article is called " Obama Makes Slippery Claims On Health Care Law". It's worth reading and can be found following the link provided here.

UPDATE: Today, October 22, more than three weeks after this article first appeared, CNN is doing a feature story on how Obamacare is proving to be unaffordable for the very market it was aimed at, citing many of the figures shown here, including lowest end policies costing upwards of $337 a month that come with a $6,000 deductible.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Nancy Pelosi's two faced endorsement of Hillary Clinton.

In a recently published article in The Guardian, Nancy Pelosi  is quoted as saying that "Hillary Clinton should run for president. I am praying Hillary Clinton runs for president".

Perhaps Pelosi is suffering from short term memory loss but Hillary Clinton did run for the Democratic nomination for president back in 2008 and that wasn't exactly Pelosi's position at the time. In fact  there  were few who did more to  undermine Hillary Clinton's candidacy for the nomination in 2008 than Nancy Pelosi.

When Hillary Clinton used a campaign slogan emphasizing her qualifications and experience over Obama, ( which was a mistake --she should have  emphasized accomplishment not experience. In 11 years of elected office Obama had accomplished nothing other than to get elected  and Clinton had a lifetime of accomplishment) Pelosi repeatedly and publicly  countered Clinton's assertions with " Barrack Obama has the judgement and experience to be president from day one."

Pelosi was also instrumental along with DNC hierarchy of cheating Clinton out of the votes and delegates she earned in two huge landslide primary victories over Obama in Michigan and Florida and in the process disenfranchising 1,600,000 Democratic voters on the grounds that the heads of both state parties moved their primary dates without approval from the DNC.  This was all done of course to benefit Obama since not only did he lose both primaries by landslide margines ( and polls before the elections showed he would)  there was a strong faction inside the party hierarchy (and the press as well for that matter) that had taken up the cause of a Democrat becoming the first black president and that overshadowed everything. Even elections.  ( There is little doubt that had Colin Powell run in 2000, and there was talk he considered it, he would have won).

Nevertheless Pelosi told a crowd in Little Rock where she was attending a ceremony renaming an airport the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport that,  regarding a Hillary Clinton presidency,  " she'd be the best qualified person that we've seen. Think of the message that sends to the women of the world. The most powerful figure in the world is a woman and she also happens to be the most qualified for the job".

Pelosi sang a different tuned in 2008 when Clinton was clearly the most qualified person for the job then. Yet Pelosi did  everything in her power to undermine Clinton's candidacy for the  nomination. Including some dubious and underhanded tactics.

When the 2008 primaries ended, Obama had a 65 delegate lead and Clinton had won the popular vote. Neither had the two-thirds majority needed to win the nomination so, based on Democratic party rules and procedures,  the nomination would be decided at the convention.
With the possibility of the nomination being decided by super delegates, Pelosi publicly stated in June, two months before the convention,  that super delegates "were obligated to vote for the candidate who won the most delegates during the primaries".

Pelosi either knowingly lied or was ignorant of Democratic party rules and procedures since precisely the opposite was true as stated by the Democratic party rules governing super delegate votes in which is they are clearly instructed to vote only their conscience as to who they think is the most qualified.

 Pelosi's assertion was so preposterous that if true, there would be no need for super delegates to being with -- Democrats would just give the nomination to whomever won the most delegates during the primaries and forget the two-thirds majority. But Pelosi was trying to send a message to super delegates that it was expected of them to vote for Obama.

Pelosi  then began browbeating super delegates to state their intentions to vote for Obama  in June two months before the convention even though their declarations in June wouldn't have been binding ( at the time 400 super delegates, at Pelosi's urging came out declaring they would vote for Obama. But a Politico poll  in August, two days before the roll call vote indicated that more than 200 of them were going to abandon Obama sending the DNC into a tizzy and forcing them into another plan to avoid a super delegate vote).   Pelosi wanted to create a foregone conclusion that Obama would be the nominee without letting the process work its will. And to a great extent she succeeded.

There was also an attempt  by some in  the DNC that Pelosi knew about and supported,  to try to convince Clinton to withdraw before the convention so Obama could have the floor all to himself.  This was supposedly to avoid an old fashioned multi-ballot floor fight to give the illusion of party unity since the primaries had been the most divisive in the history of the Democratic party. But Clinton, at the urging of her delegates who didnt want her to withdraw, refused.

So when Pelosi talks now about how qualified Clinton is to be president and calls her " the best qualified person there is" it's a little late, especially given how different the last 5 years would have been with a Clinton presidency versus the constant selling out of the Democratic agenda by Obama and all the campaign promises on which he has reneged. It also reveals a political duplicity by Pelosi that makes her a politician that can't be trusted.

Pelosi's comments are also  a bit gratuitous and perhaps even self serving since according to a recent poll  65% of Democrats favor Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016 compared to 13% for Biden.

But  this isn't the first time Pelosi has reversed herself  and damaged both her credibility and integrity on issues of national  importance to Democrats and the country. 

During the healthcare debate ( a debate that never had to take place since Obama had the kind of majorities in congress that could have passed any healthcare legislation the day after he took office)  Pelosi said repeatedly that the public option was " the centerpiece of healthcare reform". But  when Obama decided to sell out the public option to the health insurance industry lobby and dropped it, she supported that even though House Democrats had already passed a health care bill with a public option. Pelosi at the time had to put down a palace revolt among  House Democrats when more than 100 said they'd refuse to vote for any healthcare bill that didn't contain a public option. But Pelosi who seemed to be more interested in not embarrassing Obama than in fulfilling the Democrats pledge,  convinced them to do otherwise. The result was a disaster for Democrats as they were wiped out in the House in the 2010 elections only two years after getting the biggest majority of any party in 60 years, the result of Democratic voters staying home in protest. And there could be another disaster on the horizon with Obamacare, a health care bill written by the health insurance lobby that was the substitute for the public option but more on that another time.

More recently Pelosi was  practically booed off the stage at a political event in San Francisco when she attacked whistleblower Edward Snowden as a traitor and tried to defended Obama and the NSA mass data collection on American citizens.

When the House voted on defunding the NSA secret domestic data collection, Pelosi was instrumental in defeating it  by whipping up 80 Democrats to vote against it (more than 100 Democrats along with many Republicans voted to defund the program and it failed by only 7 votes.)

But with both public opinion rising against it and statements by public figures from Obama to James Clapper conceding there needed to be a debate and probably changes to the program because of Snowden's revelations,  Pelosi wrote a letter to Obama  which she publicly released,  expressing her " deep concerns" about the NSA spying on Americans and saying changes needed to be made.

It still is a mystery how Democrats in the House, after Pelosi led them over a cliff in the 2010 elections still voted to retain her as leader -- this time as minority leader. Clinton too may welcome Pelosi's belated endorsement. Or at least give the appearance she does. In the name of party unity and all that. But if Pelosi wanted to be really honest about it, what she'd say is "better late then never". And then be quiet.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Democrats learn a lesson in Colorado gun control recall vote: money doesn't buy elections.

With two Democrats who had voted for strict gun control laws in Colorado losing the recall vote, there is a valuable lesson for Democrats to learn and it has nothing to do with gun control. It has to do with money.

One of the favorite tactics of Democratic and progressive political groups to try and raise money is to use scare tactics with their supporters for one reason: to get them to contribute. They do this because they still haven't learned that its the message, argument, and how it's presented that sells, not money that sells the message.

Despite the excuses Democrats and their strategists make, money is never the deciding factor in an election. Yes you need some money -- enough to get your message across.  But having created political ads and commercials on a very limited budget following the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries that received world wide attention, especially by the news media, and having had a successful career creating consumer advertising, I can cite many examples proving that  it doesn't take as  much money as Democrats like to pretend. It takes imagination, having the facts on your side ( which Democrats have most of the time and dont know how to use) and the  message and how to get it across.

Democratic strategists and the party as a whole try to blame everything on money despite the fact that time after time, reality proves its not so. Democratic campaign committees and political groups are forever sending out emails trying to raise money by talking about how much money Republicans have and raising the specter of dire doomsday results if they can't match the Republicans dollar for dollar.

The favorite bogeyman for Daily Kos, ThinkProgress the PCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, MoveOn and lots of others are the  Koch Brothers. Every other fund raising email brings up the Koch Brothers and how much money they have and how they want to destroy life as we know it with their money.

The problem is, that the Koch Brothers spent over $200 million in the last  presidential election and,according to researchers that look into such things, received zero in return for their money.  Nothing. Nada. The same was true for the NRA whose return in terms of candidates supported against Democratic incumbents who opposed them had a return of less than 1% on their  $7 million investment. On the other side of the ledger, in terms of money spent on candidates who supported them and their work, Planned Parenthood had a 98% successful return on their investment.

The scare tactics used by Democratic groups to raise money for the two Democrats facing the recall  in Colorado raised over $3 million. Democratic groups like Daily Kos, Think Progress and MoveOn made it sound like money would make the difference. It never does. The real problem was their strategists didn't do a very good job with all the money raised. This is not the candidates fault. They are legislators who took a principled position. This is the fault of so called Democratic political strategists who, as they have for decades, didn't know how to put together a powerful and winning message.

Democrats, who always point out the amount of money spent by the NRA around the country in support of their candidates and against those who don't vote their way, this time far outspent the NRA in the Colorado recall election  by a staggering margin of almost 10-1. Yet the Democrats who voted for the new strict gun control laws which passed the Colorado legislature, were defeated in the recall by two Republicans.

 It wasn't money that mattered. Democrats raised and spent more than $3 million while the NRA spent a little over $300,00. And it certainly wasn't policy, since the stricter gun control laws that passed in Colorado were common sense laws opposed by people who were "outraged" that they couldn't buy ammunition clips that held more than 15 bullets. If you can;t create ads or commercials that mount a powerful argument against that it's no wonder they lost. And again this is not in any way to blame the candidates. Its to blame their strategists.

If there is one thing Democrats have been sorely lacking for decades, its competent, exciting, innovative  creative and powerful political strategists who know how to formulate a message and capitalize on facts that favor Democrats, defend a position, sell an idea and put the opposition on the defensive and win elections on the merits. Does anyone remember the preposterous TV commercial in the 1988 presidential campaign that showed Michael Dukakis wearing a helmet and riding around in a tank to try and show he supported the military too? That was supposed to compete with George HW Bush who was a WWII pilot and bona fide war hero? And let's not even talk about John Kerry and his campaign against George W. Bush in 2004 who had the worst four years of any president in history, yet Kerry let the Swift Boaters run all over him,  still had everything on his side and lost anyway.

Democrats should not delude themselves or pat themselves on the back for winning the 2012 presidential election by thinking they had out strategized anyone.  Romney lost the election more than Obama won it thanks to Romney's terrible policy ideas, 47% comment and catering to a lunatic extremist right wing along with Republican positions on many issues that were so repugnant to a majority of people that even though polls showed 54% didn't think Obama deserved to be re-elected, they voted for him anyway over the Republican alternative.

In Colorado Democratic strategists failed despite far outspending the opposition because they did not know how to be persuasive and to motivate those who supported their position to go out and vote.  Those who supported the recall turned out in greater numbers because they were more motivated.

That is the lesson to be learned in Colorado. It was a failure to make a case and make it stick in a memorable and compelling and common sense way that motivated people, not, as the NY Times inaccurately and simplistically tried to argue,  the political vulnerability of those supporting common sense gun laws.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sydney Leathers exposed the news media and politicians more than herself and Anthony Weiner.

With the New York City mayoral primaries being held on September 10, it's a good time to review how Anthony Weiner, probably the only Democratic member of the House who was willing to fight for anything, and a one time front runner for Democratic nomination for mayor, will probably lose. And the reason is that when it comes to sex, the news media and most politicians have reactions that range from the infantile to the juvenile. Especially the news media whose level of maturity when it comes to the subject of sex can be defined as: "na na na nana".

When Sydney Leathers went to a web site called and (in all probability) sold the chats of her online sometimes sexually explicit conversations with Weiner, the news media exploded with adolescence to such a degree they all looked like they were suffering with journalistic acne. 

The New York Times sank so low as to publish on it's front page, an interview with the editor and founder of a web site called forever making a joke out of the paper's 100 year old slogan, "All the News That's Fit to Print". The Times Editorial Board piled on and considered these chats so significant that it chose to publish an editorial favoring us with their opinion on such a hot and important topic.

What it all came down to is that Sydney Elaine Leathers wanted to be a porn star and her fifteen minutes of fame and knew that when she was talking to Weiner he was her meal ticket. And she knew she could play the news media and cash in.

The New York Times, Huffington Post and other news outlets who forgot a long time ago what the job of a journalist really is, was only too happy to oblige,  ready, willing and able to get as down and dirty as Leathers and for the same reason -- for a buck. 

Unfortunately even that they can't do very well since almost all of them from the Times to CNN have been suffering major losses in the 3 R's --  readership, ratings and revenue mostly because they are oblivious to the fact that it's the tactics they use to try and get those 3 R's which turn news into a peep show or politics into a WWF wrestling match,  that has the opposite effect. The fact is no one at any news organization  knows anything about how to attract an audience (which isn't their job anyway and it shows) and unfortunately it seems, not much about journalism either.

But Sydney Leathers knew how . At least she knew how to attract an audience of news media. And with their taking the bait, Sydney Leathers parlayed that into her first porn video and a job as a stripper at a local NY strip club. And she owes a lot it to the New York Times and other media outlets who decided this mattered when it came to the important issues of the mayoral race.

Essentially Leathers made fools of everyone from the journalists she was able to sucker to politicians and Weiner himself who was  foolish enough to have these chats with a stranger and be open about who he was without considering that the person on the other end could be a bottom feeder who would exploit the conversations.  Foolish, naive and reckless especially considering all the fall out from  his past experience with political and media bottom feeders and how he knew the news media would drool if it became public. 

One of the best examples of how inept, low and dishonest journalists can go was the story written by a purported reporter for Huffington Post who goes by the byline Inae Oh. She is credited with writing what has to be the most idiotic, inaccurate, dishonest and  personal agenda driven journalistic drivel about Weiner and Leathers that existed amid a tsunami of  journalistic drivel.

Inae Oh wrote on Huffington Post when the story first broke:

"I’ve been in contact with a young female girl who wishes to remain anonymous ( italics mine). She was lured by Anthony Weiner post scandal via Facebook".

Imagine that. She was, according to Inae Oh, lured by Weiner.  This is the kind of  journalistic drivel and sheer stupidity that exemplified much of the media coverage of Leathers and Weiner.  "She wishes to remain anonymous"  huh.  Looks like Leathers wanted to make Oh feel special. And looks like Inae Oh fell for it.
Or maybe Leathers  lured  Inae Oh into thinking she had a scoop that nobody else had. Oh, who someday may break an ankle from all her attempts at jumping on moving bandwagons,   was trying to portray Leathers as a poor innocent helpless babe in the woods who supposedly wanted to remain anonymous, and was "lured" by that evil  Svengali, Anthony Weiner into explicit online chats on Facebook.( The chats actually took place on a social media web site called Formspring but who needs facts?)

Based on the logic and journalistic skills of Inae Oh, Leathers must have  also been lured by Weiner to take screen shots of her chats with Weiner to save them and was lured by Weiner into selling them to a site called The cashing in for her own ambition and financial  benefit.

 Leathers, according to Oh, must have also been lured by Weiner into sending him a message telling him she was going to take a shower and did Weiner want to join her?  That Anthony Weiner sure knows how to lure. As well as Inae Oh knows how to be a journalist.

Oh filed another story on August 28, the result of more bandwagon jumping,  that the Weiner campaign payed actors to portray campaign supporters in TV commercials. The problem with that story was that it was completely false, put out by a hoaxster that Inae fell for, just like she fell for Leathers desire for anonymity.

As for Weiner himself,  on a personal level, what he did in terms of right and wrong is between him and his wife. On a public level being open about who he was in a forum like that and having sexually explicit chats was stupid given his public notoriety. But as for the actual conduct, what Weiner did was nothing more than what  about a hundred million people or more around the world do at least once a week in as many different languages as there are at the UN.  On a scale of wrong doing by politicians, it might be the equivalent of double parking.

Whatever one wants to think of Weiner,  he didn't cheat on his wife with prostitutes provided by the Washington D.C.  Madam as did Republican conservative Louisiana senator David Vitter who is still on the job and for reasons that probably have more to do with journalistic economics and  cowardice in terms of who they are willing to gang up on more than morality, he was given a pass. The same is true for Democrats who threw Weiner over the side  and forced his resignation even though his constitutents wanted him to stay, while Republicans did no such thing with Vitter. Pelosi and the Democrats were paid back for their political cowardice and lack of integrity when, in a special election Weiner's seat went to a Republican for the first time in more than one hundred years.Which is ironic because the only Democrat in the House who was able and willing to stand up against Republican attacks was Wiener. It was attacks from Democrats that did him in,

 Weiner deserves to be criticized for being reckless and naive but the rest is between him and his wife. Since he is married, that is something for the two of them to deal with since if your going to do those things while part of a couple,  its usually better to either tell your partner what you're doing, or, if you don't think your partner won't like it very much,  then just don't do it. But again,  all that is between Weiner and his wife not Weiner and Jarrold Nadler, a Democratic NY congressman who offered his worthless and unqualified medical opinion about Weiner's activity but had nothing especially tough to say about David Vitter at the time his indiscretions with the DC Madam were exposed.

Yes, Weiner should've known better given his high profile as both a congressman and mayoral candidate, especially given how the news media drools over themselves over anything related to a politician and sex. And its starting to look like his candidacy, even when the infantilism of the news media and bellowing of a few self serving  politicians blows over, doesn't have much of a chance of succeeding. Which is too bad given his political history and willingness to fight for a position he believes in which is more than the journalists moralizing about  him will ever do. 

Weiner, as a politician  has always been willing to stick his neck out. He should have kept it to his neck.

Now his chances of winning the Democratic primary for mayor are about as good as Sydney Leathers chances of being a hot ticket. Or Inae Oh's chances of being a credible journalist.  But at least when Sydney Leathers decided to cash in she didn't just expose herself  and Weiner.  She exposed a lot of other people who needed to be exposed too.