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Friday Talking Points [87] -- A Tale Of Two Houses

[ Posted Friday, July 24th, 2009 – 17:33 UTC ]

Before I begin with the serious stuff, I'd like to indulge in a little gratuitous media-bashing first. If that sort of thing isn't your cup of tea, just skip to the next section now. You have been warned.

A few weeks ago, because of firing Dan Froomkin and selling access to their reporters and in general for their op-ed priorities, I wrote that the Washington Post had reduced itself, in terms of being a trustworthy outlet for news, to a cartoon (Tom Toles' editorial cartoons, to be exact -- about the only thing left worth reading on their op-ed pages). But now it's looking like this is a deeper trend than just one seriously annoyed blogger. Because, with Walter Cronkite's passing, the title of "most trusted newsman in America" now passes to... Jon Stewart? The glaring problem with this is that Jon Stewart is not a journalist! He's a comedian. He readily admits that what he does is "fake news." And yet, even with this admission, he is trusted more than the big three network news anchors to deliver facts to America. That is a sad, sad, state of affairs, people.

Nothing against Jon Stewart, of course. His brand of political satire can be hilarious at times, and such satire on television is just as important as cartoons are on the newspaper op-ed pages. So I do not belittle what Stewart does, or what he has accomplished. But there's a reason why the Time magazine poll shows (with a handy map) that Stewart beat (or, in two cases, tied) Katie Couric, Brian Williams, and Charlie Gibson in thirty-eight states in this country on who America's most trusted newscaster is. Because the quality of not just the anchors, but network news in general, is so incredibly low that a comedian gets more respect from the public in more than three-quarters of the United States.

In support of this argument, I offer up Exhibit A -- Chuck Todd. Now, I probably could have randomly chosen just about any other network reporter or anchor and made the same point, just in case you think I'm singling Todd out here. I offer him up not as the worst example, but as a representative example, in other words. I used to have a lot more respect for Todd back during the campaign when he was the "polls and numbers" guy for NBC. He stood in front of the cool computerized maps of the electoral numbers by state back then. But since, he has been promoted to Chief White House Correspondent for NBC. Meaning his beat is the White House now. Which also means he is the guy in the audience who gets to ask a question for the National Broadcasting Company during presidential press conferences, such as the one we had Wednesday night.

A big part of Chuck's job definition -- what NBC assumably pays him a lot of money for, in other words -- is to competently ask questions to the President of the United States. Now, to be fair, sometimes such questions can be hasty and ad hoc, when asked on the run. But this is a formal press conference, where Todd has had days and days to formulate a question, endless hours in which to practice saying his question in front of a mirror (so he'd get it right on national television) and -- importantly -- he knows he will be called on (unlike a lot of the people in that room).

Here is Chuck Todd's question for President Obama, which I personally transcribed from the audio. [To be polite, interjections such as "um" have been removed (as is usually done when presenting the spoken word as written text), and non-standard elisions such as "gonna" have been changed to "going to" -- both standard editing practice. But I have not edited his words beyond that.] This is what he gets paid the big bucks for:

Thank you, sir. We're just talking in that question about... about reducing health care inflation, reducing cost. Can you explain how you're going to expand coverage... is it fair to say... is this bill going to cover all 47 million Americans that are uninsured, or is this going to be something... is it going to take a mandate... or is this something that isn't... your bill is probably not going to get it all the way there, and if it's not going to get all the way there, can you say how far is enough... you know... "OK, 20 million more, I can sign that, 10 million more, I can't"?

Now, how many Americans think that, if given the same exact chance -- and knowing he would be called upon -- Jon Stewart couldn't have asked the exact same question a little bit better?

But maybe that's a cheap shot. It's a stylistic thing, after all. Maybe Chuck Todd was just nervous. Trustworthiness is based upon more than style, after all. It's about getting the facts straight, and telling the American public what they are. Here are Brian Williams and Chuck Todd chatting, after the presser finished. Notice that BriWi starts out with an introduction which pats television journalism on the back, NBC on the back, and reminds everyone once again of the incredibly high opinion television journalists have of themselves (which, as the Time poll so painfully shows, is just not warranted).

BRIAN WILLIAMS:   Chuck Todd, our man in the arena, in the front row, first of the television correspondents called out. Chuck, what stood out to you?

CHUCK TODD:   I would say there's [sic] two headlines. If you're following the health care debate because you're wondering about the future of health care, you heard him [Obama] promise 97 percent coverage, and you heard him promise that only if you make a million dollars are you going to get taxed, that that's how this thing is going to get paid for, and I think that those were details that hadn't been clear before tonight. I think if you're following the politics of this debate, you learned that the August deadline is very flexible, as he sort of started to... use language that said, "I want a bill that's right, and I won't necessarily sign a bill just because it gets to my desk very quickly," so, he's showing flexibility on that... timeline... but... and we did learn about who's going to pay for this thing.

That sounds like some pretty good journalistic tea-leaf reading, huh? Except that most of it is flat-out wrong. President Obama did not come remotely close to "promising" either of the things Chuck Todd said he did. Maybe this is why the headlines Todd predicted for the next morning just did not appear. Don't believe me? Read the full transcript of the press conference for yourself, and see if you agree that Obama "promised" anything of the sort, in either case.

Obama said that taxing millionaires did "meet his principle" that the middle class wouldn't have to pay for the bill. But it was couched by lots of soft language such as: "they've got a number of ideas... we haven't seen a final draft... I haven't seen the final versions... what I want to do is to see what emerges from these committees...." Believe me, I wish Obama had made that promise, which I wrote about this week in pretty strong terms. And I wish Obama had promised a few other things here and there, which I also wrote about in pretty strong terms, just before the press conference started.

But he just didn't. On the 97 percent question, Obama agreed with Chuck Todd (in response to his mangled question) that it would be a good goal to shoot for, but that likely wouldn't be met: "I want to cover everybody. Now, the truth is that, unless you have a -- what's called a single-payer system, in which everybody is automatically covered, then you're probably not going to reach every single individual." Obama then went on to generalize a bit, but in no way did he ever even approach "promising" that 97 percent of Americans would be covered. So Chuck Todd, who was sitting in the same room listening to the President of the United States answer a direction question from his own lips, apparently just did not listen to the answer. And then he rushed to the cameras after Obama left the room to report what he thought he had heard, even though it was incorrect.

Todd went on to indict pretty much the entire mainstream media for focusing on a story which didn't even exist and express astonishment that what was being fought over in newspapers and on cable television was not reality. Astonishment, that is, that anyone would think that there was a different reality than what the inside-the-Beltway crowd had decided upon for that particular week.

BRIAN WILLIAMS:   And Chuck, how would you characterize the president tonight? If it wasn't a new urgency he came out with tonight, it was hardly resignation either, though as you noted, the can's been kicked down the road in terms of deadlines, a bit?

CHUCK TODD:   He did. You know, I thought he seemed... he didn't seem like he'd been beaten up politically the way, frankly, if you read the newspapers or watch cable on this health care debate, you would think he had been taking a brutal beating. He seemed a lot more confident that he is going to get something. The fact is, we do know he met with some key... he talked with a key senator, Max Baucus... he talked about that tonight... the finance committee. He must have liked what he heard, because there did seem to be a confidence in him about getting this done. I just also found... he enjoyed the lighthearted moments there a little bit... talking about... his own doctor and how great that health care is, and then joking about what it would be like breaking into his own house.

Which brought it back to the new story the mainstream media had latched upon as the Most Important Issue of the day. Average Americans are much more concerned, you see, with some cop in Massachusetts than they are with whether they'll go bankrupt over healthcare bills.


Oh, the other story which the talking heads completely missed this week? The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 9,000 points, after a rally that has lasted a few months, and has gained back everything lost since Obama took office. Remember all the media fulminating a few months ago that "as goes the Dow, so goes the economy," and "Obama's obviously a failure on the economy, just look at the Dow"? Remember? Well, that storyline has gone down the Memory Hole now that the Dow's back up again. I heard Brian Williams himself introduce a story about the Dow's climb by taking great pains to explain how the Dow was and should be seen as totally and completely separate from the state of the economy.

It is no wonder more people trust a comedian poking fun at politicians and the media, because he makes his living exposing and highlighting these idiocies to America on a daily basis. And there's certainly no shortage of material there -- nor will there be in the foreseeable future, sad to say.

In conclusion, let me congratulate Jon Stewart for achieving "Most Trusted Newscaster Even Though I'm A Comedian And Never Said I'm A Journalist" status. And for putting all the people who should have been in the running for that title to shame.


Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

Which leads me to our own awards quite nicely (easy transition this week...).

This week's awards for Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week and Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week could be titled: "A Tale Of Two Houses." Now, I'm not normally a big Dickens fan, but I simply could not have put it better myself:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way -- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Which leads us to the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader. Anyone want to bet on which house will produce a bill first? I'll take the House, you can have the Senate. No takers? No? Nobody?

Imagine my surprise. To be honest, I didn't think anyone would take that bet right now. Because, no matter what the outcome, the differences between Pelosi's leadership in the House and Reid's "leadership" in the Senate is, without doubt, "in the superlative degree of comparison only."

Pelosi is knocking heads and taking names over in the House. She is threatening their five-week vacation (an idea I've been pushing for a while), threatening the Blue Dogs in Henry Waxman's committee that she's just going to bypass them and move a bill to the floor, and she's threatening (or "whipping" in the parlance of Washington) all her House Democrats to stand together and hold firm.

And she has appeared confident to both wavering party members and the press that she has the votes to get it through. She may indeed have them, or she may be bluffing. But the bluff (if it is one) has certainly made her opponents think twice about opposing her. It's a show of strength, in other words. It could work, it could fail. The jury's still out on that.

But simply for acting like a leader this week, Speaker Pelosi wins the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award hands-down. Pelosi is often dismissed by her critics because she represents the district of San Francisco in the House, but people forget that she learned politics in Baltimore, at her Daddy's knee. And Baltimore is closer, in this respect, to the bare-knuckled politics of Chicago than it is to San Francisco. People forget Pelosi's past at their own peril, in other words. Pelosi knows how to lead. She knows how to double-dare her opponents in a way that makes everyone wonder if she is stronger than she appears, or merely bluffing -- which winds up raising the stakes and risks for such opposition. This is good psychology, and good hardball politics.

Congressional leaders have all sorts of tools at their disposal to goad their fellow party members into action. Sometimes it takes drastic goads. Sometimes these efforts fail. But it is indeed refreshing to see someone like Pelosi actually use these tools the way they are meant to be used. Whether she gets a House floor vote on healthcare reform legislation before the end of August or not, Pelosi wins the MIDOTW award this week just for showing us all how it should be done.

[Congratulate Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her Speaker contact page to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

Which, sadly, brings us to the foolishness for the ages, and the season of darkness over in the Senate. Harry Reid has been so disappointing on so many levels for so long, that I think I will start referring to him as "Senate Majority Designated Milquetoast Harry Reid." Because I just can't bring myself to type the word "leader" -- especially not in a title, and capitalized "Leader" -- to refer to Senator Reid any more.

Speaker Pelosi began healthcare legislation in the House by getting the three committee chairs whose committees would have to deal with the bill together -- so they could present one bill that could make it through all three committees without intra-house squabbling. She has not succeeded in this, but she did get the same bill through two of those three before hitting the Blue Dog snag. Reid did not follow this example, and let the two Senate committees work separately. Due to the absence of Senator Ted Kennedy (who chairs one of these committees, but has been sidelined due to health reasons), Max Baucus has been hogging the spotlight since the beginning of this process. Kennedy's committee passed a bill, but Baucus has been stalling by telling everyone he wants a "bipartisan" bill -- even though he knows full well that no Republicans are going to vote for any such bill in his committee, even if it were labeled the "Republicans Save Health Care, Democrats Are Evil And Should Be Rounded Up, And Obama Wasn't Born In Hawai'i Act of 2009." It just ain't gonna happen, but that hasn't stopped Baucus from wasting everyone's time chasing this moonbeam.

Reid's job, in such a case, is to knock some heads behind the scenes, and break up the logjam. Reid's job, like Pelosi's, is to cajole and (yes) threaten recalcitrant "Democrats" to get something done. Reid's job is to threaten every senator's five-week summer vacation, if it becomes necessary.

Imagine if Harry Reid had stood up this week and said the following:

"The senators on Senator Baucus' committee have said they need more time to get a bill out. Fine. The Senate will not adjourn for August until they are done. Because if they truly do need just a bit of time to get this done -- and are not merely trying to kill the effort through endless delays because it's easier politically than taking a public stand -- then we have five long weeks, and nothing on the calendar for those five weeks. Now, I know that most senators would prefer to go on summer recess, so I direct all their comments to Senator Baucus and their fellow senators on Baucus' committee. Let him know the urgency of finishing their work. If this work takes a little more time, then we will all sit here in Washington in August until the work is done. If they truly are trying to kill healthcare, then they can publicly say so, and we can all go home for the summer, and I can report to the president and the American people that because Max Baucus does not think healthcare reform can be done this year, then it isn't going to get done."

Just imagine...

Of course, what Harry Reid did come out and say was "Gosh, Senator Baucus says he needs some more time. Well, we'll just have to give it to him. So we can all go on our five-week vacation, and then come back and -- maybe in September, I don't know... or maybe by Hallowe'en, does that work for everyone? No? Thanksgiving? OK, well, maybe we'll just start all over again next year, can we all agree on that?"

Or words to that effect. Sorry, but I was unable to transcribe Reid's recent remarks completely accurately, because my keyboard kept throwing up in disgust. Ahem.

Which is why, for the record-breaking eleventh time, Harry Reid is hereby awarded the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. Perhaps after Pelosi is done over in the House, she could put a pair of steel-toed boots on and go over and kick some spinal integrity into Senator Milquetoast Reid. Just a suggestion.

[Contact Senate Majority Designated Milquetoast Harry Reid on his Senate contact page to let him know what you think of his actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 87 (7/24/09)

With that out of the way, we look forward to the Dog Days of August, when the Blue Dogs are feeling pretty doggone good about themselves, for their doggéd efforts to bird-dog healthcare legislation in the whole dogfight with their own party's leader and "top dog," Barack Obama.

OK, sorry, you're probably dog tired of this by now, right? So we'll stop, and just... (I simply can't help it)... let sleeping dogs lie.

[Editor's note: We have cancelled the author's five-week August vacation for writing the previous two paragraphs. We apologize, and promise it won't happen again.]

Grrr... snarl...

Seriously, though, why is everyone afraid of August? Except, of course, Nancy Pelosi, who was quoted this week saying "I'm not afraid of August. It's a month." The conventional wisdom being bandied about Washington, echoed by the news media, is now: "August equals doom and defeat for Obama's healthcare legislation this year." August equals death, in other words, because it will give healthcare reform opponents all month long to attack the plan. I've heard people on the left and the right say almost exactly the same thing, as if it is a foregone conclusion.

But, I have to ask, doesn't that mean that healthcare supporters also have a whole month to make their case? Are they just going to ignore the opportunity, and not fight back?

To put it another way -- Congressmen all go home during this period. They talk to their constituents at town hall meetings and the like. They make themselves available in local offices for local feedback. But if the American people really do want healthcare reform, and are going to be really upset if it doesn't happen... doesn't that mean the Congresscritters are going to get an earful on the issue? Especially Democrats who are seen as standing in the way of actual reform? And especially Democrats who are standing in the way of reform who have taken truckloads of money from the healthcare industry?

Isn't the healthcare reform a winning argument, in other words? So why would five weeks of making this argument mean support will wither away?

To be fair, the term "Swift Boat" is being thrown around. Senator John Kerry took August off during his campaign, ignored a vicious attack ad, and it may have cost him the presidency. But Kerry didn't know it was coming and didn't react fast enough. Everyone should be ready for this August's fight -- people for healthcare reform included. So there's no real reason to think it's going to play out the same way.

Of course, it might. But then again, it might not.

Democrats, right up to President Obama, need to start channeling some of Speaker Pelosi's feistiness on the issue this August. Ads should be teed up and ready to go. Talking points should be memorized. There's going to be a fight, but please, Democratic Party, don't follow Harry Reid's example this time ("the way to win the battle is to start by surrendering"), follow Nancy Pelosi's.

Here are a few pointers for the summer, for all Democrats to consider. Most of them were written with Obama in mind, but they can be easily adapted by others just as usefully.


   Lead with the sob story

I simply cannot say this enough. Every Democratic politician, every time they are interviewed, every single time, should begin with some heart-wrenching story about what is wrong with the system we have today. This is the core of the debate for Democrats, and they have been almost COMPLETELY SILENT about it so far. This is insane. Don't you guys care whether you are driving the public debate or not?

Obama showed (although it was kind of weakly done) how to do this in his recent press conference. In one way or another, some version of the following has to be used within the first answer you give on television:

"Well, I'm glad you asked me that, Chas Blowdry, but before I get to the answer I'd like to share with your viewers this letter I got last week. It's from a constituent of mine in (insert name of podunk town here). She went to the hospital because she was hit by the limo of the CEO of a health insurance company. She needed a bandage, but the hospital demanded the deed to her house before they'd give it to her. She also needed an aspirin, and they took her car before they'd give her that. When she pointed out the guy who hit her owned the hospital, she was sued and forced into bankruptcy."


   We know where you live

OK, that was a bit over the top, I'll admit, and designed to get a laugh. But there are millions and millions of real stories of people's lives destroyed financially by getting sick, which are not funny in any way, shape or form. They are also not rare, sadly. That is the whole point.

Now this one was written for Obama to use as a blunt weapon, but it could also be adapted by just about any advocacy group that wished to run a dandy television ad in the home district of (for instance) some Blue Dog Democrat who is gumming up the works in Congress.

"I'd like to read a letter from a constituent of Representative Roadblock's, if I may. This woman has lost her house and lost her job and lost just about everything she had in life because her daughter got leukemia. She lives in (insert podunk town name here), which is one of the towns represented by Congressman Roadblock. So I'd just like to ask the congressman, 'Why do you want to continue the system which caused this to happen? Why are you standing in the way of us helping millions of people like her, both people who vote for you and people who do not? What would you say to her, what would you tell her you're doing for her?' Because that is what this whole debate is about."


   We know who pays you

This one is a continuation of the previous item.

Every single Democrat standing in the way of reform should be put on a list. And then next to their names, there should be a dollar amount showing exactly how much these people have gotten in "campaign donations" from the healthcare industry, the lobbyists, the drug companies, hospitals, and the like. This list should be circulated to every single Democrat who appears anywhere in public this August. To make it even more useful, put the Republican leadership in Congress on the list too, and see how much they've sucked off the teat of the healthcare lobby. Then whip this handy list out as it becomes necessary.

"In response to the quote you just ran from Senator Boughtnpaidfor, I would just like to point out that he has taken 2.6 million dollars over the years from the very industry we are trying to reform. This might put the senator's remarks to the effect that healthcare reform causes cancer into some needed perspective. Don't you think the people who gave him those millions might have some influence over what he says about it? It's sad when the people we elect to Congress put the big-money special interests in front of the needs of their constituents, that's all I have to say."


   They want to scare you, so nothing gets done

This is a wonderful way to take command of the conversation. All the sniping recently is about details. So don't sweat the small stuff. And remember, it's all small stuff. Keep your eyes on the horizon -- which in this case, means always moving the debate back to one hard, cold reality -- the baby that's going to be thrown out with the bathwater if nothing passes this year.

This needs to be bluntly pointed out, so we are devoting the next three talking points to show various ways to raise the level of the debate to: "We want to fix it -- they don't."

"You know what this whole debate is about, to me? It's about whether we, as a country, have a system where 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies are filed due to health costs -- up from eight percent in the 1980s. Is that the direction this country should be heading in? I think not. We have produced a bill which will largely solve this problem. Our opponents want to kill this bill at any cost. They will say anything about it in an attempt to demonize it and scare just enough of the American public to just the right level of fear so that nothing gets done this year. But what they are really fighting for is more medical bankruptcies. They were in charge of Congress for a decade. They had majorities, and a chance to solve this problem. They did not. We are now going to. They are standing in the way of this happening, because they want to keep the status quo. We think the status quo is unacceptable. They do not. That is the real issue here, and I wish that fact wouldn't keep getting swept under the media's rug."


   End the evil of "pre-existing conditions"

Once again, focus the debate on the problem you are trying to solve, in language everyone is aware of.

"One of the most positive things this legislation will accomplish is to banish forever the term 'pre-existing condition' from the insurance industry's vocabulary. We think it is barbaric for the law to allow insurance companies to get away with this in a moral society. This is one of the things our opponents never like to talk about, because they are responsible for inaction in changing this barbarism in America. We are taking a stand with our legislation that this practice must be made illegal. And we simply cannot understand how anyone could be politically against this. You know what? We all have pre-existing conditions. We're all going to die one day. That is the nature of life, and we are committed to ending this discriminatory practice."


   Getting sick is why you have health insurance

This is a variation on the same theme as the last one.

"Let me just add one more thing. We think the practice of 'rescission' is abominable. This is when your health insurance company discovers that you are sick and actually want to use your insurance, and they manufacture some reason why they don't have to pay for it. We are going to outlaw this practice once and for all with our healthcare reform. It's astonishing, but again, the same people have allowed this to go on for years who are now opposing reform, and these politicians have taken a lot of money from the insurance companies over the years. I believe this is a moral failing of our healthcare system, and say that it has to end. The reason you have health insurance in the first place is to take care of you when you get sick. If we have to pass a law to force these companies to do so, I can't understand why anyone could be against that, myself."


   We are not going to let you relax in August

This is a message that, again, would be most effective coming from President Obama, but could easily be used by advocacy groups for healthcare reform as well. Because this is the sort of hardball language politicians understand. And, it's obvious, the time to refrain from using such measures will be over if Congress goes on vacation without producing anything.

"Some in Congress think that if they just delay, delay, delay... then nothing will get done on healthcare, and they won't be held responsible the way they would be if they actually had to vote on it. I am here today to tell you they couldn't be more wrong. They are about to take a luxurious vacation on the taxpayer's dime for five weeks, and some of them are quite happy that they've managed to block anything from getting done in Congress. I call on all constituents of these obstructionists -- no matter which party they belong to -- to make their voices loud and clear during August. They want fun in the sun? Why not instead turn up the heat on them? They want to relax? We will be holding town halls and running ads in their home states and districts. They want to get re-elected? We pledge to do everything possible to see that that does not happen if they block healthcare reform from passing. America put Barack Obama in the White House to get something done on this issue, and if a handful of people in Congress are standing in his way, then we are going to make sure every single one of his or her voters is aware of that by the time they get back in September. Count on it."


Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post


-- Chris Weigant


16 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [87] -- A Tale Of Two Houses”

  1. [1] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    I could bring a bill to cloture
    And heed the will of voters
    Ending gridlock-grind;
    For sixty votes I'd muster, and
    There'd be no filibuster
    If I only had a spine!

    Agendas would be simple
    And leftward of the middle
    Passing in good time;
    Oh, the bills we would be passing
    With an expedited fashion
    If I only had a spine!

    Oh, who can tell me why
    The GOP's in charge?
    'Minority' means not so large
    So why is taking charge so hard?

    I could be not quite so easy
    An upright leader, you see,
    Instead of flat-supine;
    I would be friends with Jerry and
    Obama would be merry
    If I only had a spine!

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Osborne Ink -

    Beautiful... just be-YOU-ti-ful!

    But who's Jerry?



  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Which brought it back to the new story the mainstream media had latched upon as the Most Important Issue of the day. Average Americans are much more concerned, you see, with some cop in Massachusetts than they are with whether they'll go bankrupt over healthcare bills.

    Actually, average Americans are much more concerned with a President who, even though admitting he did not have all the facts, proceeded to set BACK race relations by 100 years by clearly pointing out that, in the President's mind, cops (black or white) are ALWAYS the "stupid" party whenever they arrest a black person.

    Frankly, I think it's a legitimate concern. I would further point out that Americans (at least, THIS American) are concerned with Obama's "shoot from the hip but hit the innocent and let the guilty become even MORE guilty" style of late.

    I like a President that doesn't hem haw or fiddle fart around and makes decisions on the fly. I just wish that THIS President would actually make the CORRECT decisions now and again...

    I am funny that way...

    She may indeed have them, or she may be bluffing. But the bluff (if it is one) has certainly made her opponents think twice about opposing her.

    Actually, I think it had the opposite effect. I think that Pelosi's "in your face" management style had the effect of uniting Blue Dogs against the ObamaCare plan. This is evidenced by the fact that, within minutes of Pelosi's bluff, the bluff was called and demolished by the united Blue Dog caucus/group/whatever.

    But it is interesting to note that ya'all seem to like Pelosi's KickAssAndTakeNames style of leadership..

    What's next??

    A **MISSION ACCOMPLISHED** banner over the House archway when the House passes ObamaCare even knowing that the battle is FAR from over?? :D

    I'll make fine Rethuglicans out of ya'all yet! :D

    But, I have to ask, doesn't that mean that healthcare supporters also have a whole month to make their case? Are they just going to ignore the opportunity, and not fight back?

    I think ya'all are going to be very unpleasantly surprised at how John and Jane Q Public really feel about ObamaCare..

    I think ya'all are going to find that the Administrations claim of the "Silent Majority" being on the side of ObamaCare is vastly overstated.

    In my best Shawn Spencer imitation,

    "oooooooo I am getting something.. Oooooo I see... I see... ObamaCare goes down in flames... Beware the Ides Of August" :D

    Isn't the healthcare reform a winning argument, in other words? So why would five weeks of making this argument mean support will wither away?

    Simple.. Because once CongressCritters get home and actually start LISTENING to their constituents, they are going to discover that not many of them are supporting ObamaCare... They ARE supporting HealtCare reform. But ObamaCare ain't reform. It's simply making current problems worse and creating a whole NEW set of problems.....

    John Hammond:"We're not making the same mistakes again!
    Ian Malcolm:"No, no, no. Now you're making all new mistakes."
    -Jurassic Park II

    ....and the American People know this.

    In short...

    HealtCare reform. GOOD

    ObamaCare BAD

    Lead with the sob story

    The problem is that, for every sob/horror story that supports HealthCare reform, their is an equally compelling sob/horror story that shows the dangers of ObamaCare.

    You say "Podunk Constituent" and I say "Gary Reirbach"....

    'Why do you want to continue the system which caused this to happen? Why are you standing in the way of us helping millions of people like her, both people who vote for you and people who do not? What would you say to her, what would you tell her you're doing for her?' Because that is what this whole debate is about."

    Speaking on behalf of CongressCritter Roadblock, I would tell her that "I am opposing ObamaCare because there is ample evidence to suggest that not only will ObamaCare make HER problems worse, it also could, quite probably, make millions and millions of MORE Americans have her kind of problems. I would ask her that, in a time when Americans' budgets are stretched to the breaking point and beyond, is it really fair to put ANOTHER financial burden on those Americans in the form of MANDATORY Insurance payments and FINES if those insurance payments are not made!? I would ask her to imagine the irony of a family who can't afford Insurance, even with the pittance of a Government subsidy, and on top of that, the same Government FINES the family. I would point out the utter illogic of the Government making a family pay MORE money simply because they don't have enough money. I would then ask this lady what happens to that family who can't afford the insurance and can't afford to pay the government fines... That family loses their house to government foreclosure which, ironically enough, is the situation that the lady finds herself in. I would finish with the mantra that SHOULD be adopted by those who oppose ObamaCare..

    HealtCare reform. GOOD

    ObamaCare BAD

    I'll have to get to the rest of your points later.. I am running late as it is.


  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    Expanding on my earlier point about what the CongressCritters will face on their recess, the American People are going thru a little Q and A

    "Will whatever health care bill is produced by Congress increase the deficit?"
    Of course.

    Will it mean tax increases?"
    Of course.

    "Will it mean new fees or fines?"

    "Can I afford it right now?"
    No, I’m already getting clobbered.

    "Will it make the marketplace freer and better?"
    Probably not.

    "Is our health care system in crisis?"
    Yeah, it has been for years.

    "Is it the most pressing crisis right now?"
    No, the economy is.

    "Will a health-care bill improve the economy?"
    I doubt it.

    Courtesy of Peggy Noonan


  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Continuing on...

    That's a very good argument.. So good in fact that I intend to use it when a Scheme & Ream (AKA Cap & Trade) commentary hits your pages again.. :D

    While it may be scary, the results of ObamaCare are not that far off the mark of the fear..

    No one is disputing that HealthCare needs reforming.

    The ***ONLY*** question that SHOULD be debated is, "Does ObamaCare fix the problems? Or does ObamaCare make the problems worse?

    I am also constrained to point out that the supporters of ObamaCare, including the President himself, are also using scare-tactics and fear mongering to support their case as well..

    Don't hate the player, hate the game...

    Ending the "pre-existing conditions" issue is probably the ONLY good thing about ObamaCare. But, I have to ask.. Aren't there loopholes that will allow care to be refused based on pre-existing conditions??

    And having a car accident is the reason we have insurance. Yet I am paying out the arse for insurance yet I have never had an accident. And the one time I NEEDED insurance (my daughter's car blew up) my insurance company wouldn't cover it for some pissant fine print reason..

    Convince me that ObamaCare will be any different..

    Be careful what you wish for. Once the John & Jane Q Public actually seeing the fine print of Obama Care, I think Pelosi will find she is very VERY afraid of August...


  6. [6] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Heh, I probably am one of those who trust Jon Stewart more than the current array of journalists. One clarification though, he does a fake news show not fake news. The news he spoofs on is very real and quite accurate. Probably why he is so trusted.

    Personally I don't think Obama should have backed down from the police unions. First off he prefaced his comments by saying he did not have all the facts and that he is a bit biased because the professor in question is a friend of his. Second, during my forty some odd years of life, I have had a grossly inordinate number of bad encounters with police over good ones. I have never been convicted of a crime, been in court once for a vehicle citation (bicycle) that got suspended, and have done traffic school twice so far. I'm your basic trouble free straight looking white guy. And yet have been harassed by cops when I was doing nothing to warrant it way too many times. On the two occasions where I needed their help the police showed an incredible level incompetence and were basically no help at all. I'm with the professor on this one. As long as police protect their own and the laws are such that there are rarely repercussions for all but the most illegal acts perpetrated by cops (and even then usually has to be caught on camera when not a corruption probe), I do think cops are guilty until proven innocent. I'm happy to change that but not until cops are held more accountable when on the job. By both the law and each other.

    Obama did not set back race relations 100 years, the lady who called the cops and the cop who showed up did. Though in the end it will probably improve race relations, as it gets people thinking and talking about the subject.

    The health care debate is certainly showing the power of the lobbyist. The money being thrown around to stop reform and keep the status quo is pretty amazing. Obama must be doing something right even if not going far enough.

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    Sgt Crowley is an 11 year veteran of the police force. He TEACHES at the Police Academy courses in avoiding racial profiling. Everyone you talk to, black or white, that knows Sgt Crowley, sings his praises.

    He is the quintessential "good cop"...

    Now let's look at Professor "DO-YOU-KNOW-WHO-YOU'RE-MESSING-WITH!!???" Gates. A loud mouth obnoxious racist jackass who feels he is entitled to special treatment because he is black and because he knows the President..

    Once the audio tapes are released, the truth will come out. Of course it won't change the minds of those who are "racist" or bigoted against those with blue skin...

    I just hope that Sgt Crowley sticks to his guns and sues the hell outta Gates...


  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    Second, during my forty some odd years of life, I have had a grossly inordinate number of bad encounters with police over good ones.

    Is it even SLIGHTLY possible that it was your attitude that was the problem and not the cops themselves??

    What I don't understand is how ANYONE can say this is an example of racial profiling.

    Who profiled anyone's race??

    The ONLY thing that was profiled were people's actions. The witness phoning in the report "profiles" the actions of two men breaking into a house. Sgt Crowley "profiled" Gates' actions of being an asshole in a NO ASSHOLE zone...

    Where is the racial profiling??

    If Gates and his driver had been white, I can assure you that the outcome would have been EXACTLY the same.


  9. [9] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Is it even SLIGHTLY possible that it was your attitude that was the problem and not the cops themselves??


    If Gates and his driver had been white, I can assure you that the outcome would have been EXACTLY the same.

    That is the question isn't it. I bet there is a good chance it would have turned out different.

    But it sounds like all parties are doing the civilized thing and going to the white house to talk it out over a beer...

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    You had me at "beer"... :D

    I just hate it when everyone wants to be "civilized" when it's the hysterical Left that is totally in the wrong..

    You can bet that, if Sgt Crowley had actually been a racist rogue cop and Professor Gates had actually been the victim here, then the Left would be screaming from the rooftops and there would be ZERO talk of beers at the White House. There would have been blood most assuredly...

    Ahhhh, the wonders of partisan politics... :D


  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    As much as I like to talk about MR Obama's (He doesn't deserve the "President" title on this issue) boneheaded and racist stance in the Gates/Crowley issue, healthcare is also important..

    CBO deals new blow to health plan

    For the second time this month, congressional budget analysts have dealt a blow to the Democrat's health reform efforts, this time by saying a plan touted by the White House as crucial to paying for the bill would actually save almost no money over 10 years.

    A key House chairman and moderate House Democrats on Tuesday agreed to a White House-backed proposal that would give an outside panel the power to make cuts to government-financed health care programs. White House budget director Peter Orszag declared the plan "probably the most important piece that can be added" to the House's health care reform legislation.

    But on Saturday, the Congressional Budget Office said the proposal to give an independent panel the power to keep Medicare spending in check would only save about $2 billion over 10 years- a drop in the bucket compared to the bill's $1 trillion price tag.

    I have a feeling that ObamaCare is DOA.... If it ever actually arrives...


  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Hay CW...

    This should make your socks go up and down!! :D

    {White House Spokesman}Gibbs said he doesn't know whether the House will vote this week but added that the White House will make an evaluation during the week to determine whether enough progress is being made to allow lawmakers to leave for their August recess.

    I guess President Obama reads your blog!!! :D


  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:
  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well, well, well...

    Interesting report on the Gates/Obama/Crowley racism saga..

    According to the original 911 call, the citizen that reported the possible break-in never even mentioned race..

    So, by all accounts, the ONLY people to interject RACE into this issue was Gates and Obama...

    So much for the "racial profiling" aspect, eh??

    This is definitely one of the low points of an Administration replete with low points...


  15. [15] 
    akadjian wrote:


    I just hope the "public option" does not die in the health care legislation. '

    If the lobbyists hate it as much as they do, it's got to be the closest thing out there to real reform :).

    - David

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    If the lobbyists hate it as much as they do, it's got to be the closest thing out there to real reform :).

    Truer words were never spoken... :D


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