ChrisWeigant.com

Friday Talking Points [153] -- SOTU-palooza

[ Posted Friday, January 28th, 2011 – 12:38 PST ]

The past week in politics was, quite obviously, dominated by President Obama's "State Of The Union" speech to Congress. For those of you who may have been in a coma, here is a quick recap of the messages of Obama's speech, the official Republican response from Representative Paul Ryan, and the unofficial Tea Party Republican response from Representative Michele Bachmann:

Obama: "We can make the future so bright that O.S.H.A. will require us all to wear shades to view it."

Ryan: "Be afraid. Be very afraid! The Day of Reckoning is at hand!"

Bachmann: "Which camera? That one over there?"

This is only a slight exaggeration, I should mention. Ryan actually did use the phrase "Day of Reckoning" in his speech, believe it or not. You just can't make this stuff up, folks.

Of course, the public mostly noticed Obama's joke about fish. Sigh. You can't make things like that up, either.

After the speech ended, the news media pronounced themselves bored by it. Some of the media (notably, broadcast television) mostly ignored the Michele Bachmann part of it, and some of the media (notably, cable television) focused on it, but most failed to come to the obvious conclusion: the Republican Party is in the midst of a civil war with itself.

Now, when these factional disputes arise within political parties, historically the Republicans have been much better at conducting such bickering far from the eyes of the media, and far from the eyes of the public. They normally have a period of intense, behind-the-scenes disagreement -- and then they all appear before the cameras with smiles and identical soundbites to describe the agreed-upon stance on policy.

This time, though, it may play out a bit differently. The Tea Party Republicans don't seem very disposed to follow this script. To be honest, they seem to want to follow a different script: have the dispute out in the open, in full view of the cameras, in order to leverage their crowd appeal to cow the establishment Republicans into doing things their way.

It's easy to feel sorry for the establishment Republicans (or, to take a page from Speaker Boehner, to shed a tear for them), because this is normally the way Democrats conduct their intra-party arguments -- instead of holding a sober and respectful intervention behind closed doors, you throw furniture at each other out on the front lawn while screaming at the top of your lungs.

Seriously, Bachmann's unprecedented (at least in my memory) "rogue" Sate Of The Union response was an indication of major disagreement within the Republican Party. Look for this divide to grow wider in the coming weeks, as Republicans finally have to "put up or shut up" on the budget, and on what exactly they are going to cut from it. The saner voices within the party are desperately trying to remain politically realistic, and begging the upstarts not to commit political suicide by proposing such Draconian cuts that the public at large freaks out. The Tea Party Republicans counter that that is exactly why they've been sent to Washington, and you're either part of the problem or part of the solution.

The next few months certainly should be interesting, that's for sure.

But for now, let's take a quick look back at the week that was, and then spend the rest of the column examining the "narrative" of Obama's speech.

Oh, and I apologize in advance if anything important happens today, because I am writing this column a day in advance due to a previous commitment on Friday -- so late-breaking news will not be covered this week, sorry about that.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

Two Democrats were pretty impressive this week, but only rate an Honorable Mention. President Barack Obama, of course, gave a big speech this week. But since the rest of this article deals with the speech, nothing more needs be said about this at the moment.

Senator Mark Udall of Colorado deserves the credit for the mixed seating at the State Of The Union, which impressively changed the entire nature of the speech. But we handed him a MIDOTW award last week for getting this ball rolling, so we're only giving him an Honorable Mention this week, for how well the plan worked. It could have wound up a big flop, with just a handful of the politicians participating -- but instead it seemed to be a smashing success (at least from what was visible on television). It's unknown whether this "Date Night" approach will be followed in future presidential addresses to Congress, but it's got my vote for how it completely defused the "pep rally" spectacle these things had become.

But the real winner this week of the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award was Senator Charles Schumer, who leads the Senate Rules Committee for Democrats. Schumer managed to get some Senate rules changed, which (to put it mildly) doesn't happen very often. Three other Democratic Senators also deserve credit for this accomplishment -- Senators Mark Udall, Jeff Merkley, and Claire McCaskill -- so we're just going to go ahead and give out four Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week awards this week (making Mark Udall perhaps the first person who has won an MIDOTW and an Honorable Mention in the same week, I should mention).

Now, there were advocates for more drastic rule changes who are going to be disappointed because Schumer (and Harry Reid) didn't go far enough. But, as the Washington Post put it, the changes were "the most significant since the filibuster threshold was lowered in 1975 from a two-thirds majority to 60 votes." Which ain't exactly chopped liver. [Update: This was later changed, for some reason, to: "The broad agreement is the most significant change in the chamber's rules in 35 years" on the Washington Post website.]

For ending the odious practice of the "secret hold," ending the stalling tactic of forcing bills and amendments to be read, and for reducing the number of presidential appointees who must be cleared by the Senate by one-third, our four winners deserve their MIDOTW awards. Sure, it's half a loaf, but it's a lot better than nothing at all -- especially considering the glacial historic pace of Senate rule changes.

[Congratulate Senator Charles Schumer on his Senate contact page, Senator Mark Udall on his Senate contact page, Senator Jeff Merkley on his Senate contact page, and Senator Claire McCaskill on her Senate contact page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

Before we get to the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week for this week, we've got to add a footnote to last week first. Last week, we did not officially hand out the MDDOTW award, but called for nominations in the comments. A Huffington Post commenter pointed out that I had missed Representative Steve Cohen conjuring up the image of Nazis to describe his political opponents. Pretty much by definition, this is an almost-automatic way to win MDDOTW awards (one of the penalties for employing what is officially known as the Reductio ad Hilterum fallacy), so we hereby retrospectively declare that Steve Cohen was last week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

In the early running for this week's MDDOTW was Rahm Emanuel (just on general principles), but then a judge declared he was not eligible for the nomination, so that put an end to that.

Instead, we are left with a rather weak entry. Representative Dennis Kucinich is suing the sandwich maker of the congressional cafeteria because he bit into an olive pit. No, really. He wants $150,000 for (among other things) "suffering and loss of enjoyment."

Now, we can understand that Kucinich is probably blocked from the traditional way congressmen get revenge on companies for poor service (calling them before a congressional committee to publicly make them squirm in the spotlight), since Democrats don't control things in the House anymore. But one would tend to think that Kucinich probably enjoys pretty robust dental insurance, as well as getting his lifetime pension after serving in Congress. Suing for his out-of-pocket costs for dental procedures would even be understandable. But suing for "loss of enjoyment" is a big step down from being taken seriously as a presidential candidate, don't you think?

Excuse me, but we've got a late-breaking news flash... What's that? The Supreme Court Of The Friday Talking Points Awards Committee has ruled?... Well, it seems that Rahm Emanuel has been ruled eligible for the MDDOTW after all, much to everyone's surprise.

Heh.

Distractions aside, Kucinich was our early favorite for this week's MDDOTW, but in the end we decided not to be petty -- even though we could do so to make a point (for someone of Dennis Kucinich's stature, filing such a lawsuit was a pretty petty thing to do), we're not going to.

Because the real Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week was Representative Jim Moran of Virginia, who recently said the following on Arabic television:

[The results of the 2010 midterm election] happened because of the same reason the Civil War happened in the United States. The Civil War happened because the Southern states, particularly the slaveholding states, didn't want to see a president who was opposed to slavery. In this case a lot of people in this country, I believe, don't want to be governed by an African American, particularly one who is inclusive, who is liberal, who wants to spend money on everyone and who wants to reach out to include everyone in our society. That's a basic philosophical clash.

This is a pretty ham-handed attempt to "play the race card," especially coming from a white guy. For such an embarassing misreading of last year's election results, we hereby award Representative Jim Moran this week's MDDOTW.

[Contact Representative Jim Moran on his House contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 153 (1/28/11)

President Obama has been shaking things up at the White House ever since the midterm elections. But behind the more visible changes of replacing West Wing staffers, insiders report that there is an even more fundamental change going on. Not on policy, but rather on communications and message.

The State Of The Union speech seemed to confirm these rumors. Because Obama has (finally!) realized that they just haven't been doing a great job communicating to the public for the past two years. Most importantly, the White House is in the process of defining their "narrative."

Yes, it's true -- it's a little late in the game to be doing so. But perhaps not too late.

Obama had a great message and a great narrative during his historic campaign. Since then, not so much. He has managed to get an impressive amount of things done, but somewhere during this process Obama strayed from the basic concept of storytelling. With close advisors (Rahm Emanuel, we are looking in your direction...) much more concerned with "winning the day's news cycle" or "winning the week," Obama lost sight of the forest in this endless obsession with each individual tree.

The State Of The Union speech Obama just gave went a long way towards regaining control of telling a compelling story. Americans love a good story, and they want specific political agenda items to fit into that story. Republicans are very, very good at this sort of thing. Democrats, not so much. Obama was supposed to be the exception. Maybe he still can prove to be.

George Lakoff wrote an excellent Huffington Post article today which examines the message Obama put forward in his speech, which I heartily encourage everyone to read. He boils down Obama's State Of The Union message to one word: competitiveness.

Obama's speech was a call to action, a vision of the future, and a warning. His main story was: "This is and has always been a great country. But other countries are now in competition with us. We have always risen to meet such challenges together, and I believe we can do so now. American must continue to lead, and we must all do our part to make sure this happens."

This is a story everyone can relate to. It gives moral heft to Obama's agenda -- by showing why he is for what he is for.

I'd like to look at a few excerpts from Obama's speech (mostly from the opening and closing sections) to show how this narrative resonated.

Obama opened by speaking of the recent Tucson tragedy. This had the effect of sobering the room up and warming up the "we've got to work together" theme.

We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.

That, too, is what sets us apart as a nation.

Now, by itself, this simple recognition won't usher in a new era of cooperation. What comes of this moment is up to us. What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.

I believe we can. And I believe we must. That's what the people who sent us here expect of us. With their votes, they've determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all -- for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.

At stake right now is not who wins the next election -- after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It's whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It's whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but the light to the world.

This returns Obama to the "post-partisan" theme of his election. America's in this together, folks, and we've all got a vested interest in succeeding for the future. Obama then indulges in a little patting ourselves on the back, before pivoting to warning that we now face new competition. He does this in a very human way, relating a story of yesteryear's American workers, and the world we now face.

But we have to do more. These steps we've taken over the last two years may have broken the back of this recession, but to win the future, we'll need to take on challenges that have been decades in the making.

Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn't always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you worked hard, chances are you'd have a job for life, with a decent paycheck and good benefits and the occasional promotion. Maybe you'd even have the pride of seeing your kids work at the same company.

That world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful. I've seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts on once busy Main Streets. I've heard it in the frustrations of Americans who've seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear -- proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game.

They're right. The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there's an Internet connection.

Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They're investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, China became the home to the world's largest private solar research facility, and the world's fastest computer.

So, yes, the world has changed. The competition for jobs is real. But this shouldn't discourage us. It should challenge us. Remember -- for all the hits we've taken these last few years, for all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. No workers -- no workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We're the home to the world's best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any place on Earth.

This whole section is excellent, really. On a very basic level Obama is saying: I know it's a more complicated world, but it's never going to go back to what it was. Instead of wasting our energy looking for someone to blame for this, let us put our energy into winning the future rather than wallow in nostalgia for the past.

Obama then winds up the introduction segment of the speech, with a healthy dose of optimism.

The future is ours to win. But to get there, we can't just stand still. As Robert Kennedy told us, "The future is not a gift. It is an achievement." Sustaining the American Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age.

And now it's our turn. We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business. We need to take responsibility for our deficit and reform our government. That's how our people will prosper. That's how we'll win the future. And tonight, I'd like to talk about how we get there.

Obama then gets to the "meat and potatoes" part of the speech, but while outlining his agenda for innovation, education, infrastructure, tackling the debt, and all the rest of it, he is careful to always try to connect his ideas back to his competitiveness theme. Here's just one example, on the subject of infrastructure:

The third step in winning the future is rebuilding America. To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information -- from high-speed rail to high-speed Internet.

Our infrastructure used to be the best, but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater Internet access than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do. China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation's infrastructure, they gave us a "D."

We have to do better. America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, constructed the Interstate Highway System. The jobs created by these projects didn't just come from laying down track or pavement. They came from businesses that opened near a town's new train station or the new off-ramp.

Obama returns to the theme over and over again: We have to improve, or else we risk losing the competitiveness race with the rest of the world. We are already losing this race in some key areas, which is why it is imperative that we do better now.

This is a very tough and risky message for any American politician to deliver, but Obama did an excellent job of walking the fine line between issuing a warning and yet still remaining sunnily optimistic about our chances in the future. As a contrast, Paul Ryan did not walk this fine line very well in his response to Obama. It's a tough line for any politician to walk.

Obama's conclusion returned to the opening theme that, while we are in danger of falling behind, it's still a good idea to bet on America. And the American Dream.

We should have no illusions about the work ahead of us. Reforming our schools, changing the way we use energy, reducing our deficit -- none of this will be easy. All of it will take time. And it will be harder because we will argue about everything. The costs. The details. The letter of every law.

Of course, some countries don't have this problem. If the central government wants a railroad, they build a railroad, no matter how many homes get bulldozed. If they don't want a bad story in the newspaper, it doesn't get written.

And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn't a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth.

We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution. We may have different opinions, but we believe in the same promise that says this is a place where you can make it if you try. We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything is possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from.

That dream is why I can stand here before you tonight. That dream is why a working-class kid from Scranton can sit behind me. That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father's Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth.

Obama then used as an example of "that American Dream" the heart-warming story of a Pennsylvania company that was key in rescuing the trapped Chilean miners -- once again, humanizing what he was saying with a story everyone can relate to. He then ended his speech with a rousing call to action, returning to his main narrative to reinforce the message.

And later, one of his employees said of the rescue, "We proved that Center Rock is a little company, but we do big things."

We do big things.

From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That's how we win the future.

We're a nation that says, "I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company." "I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree." "I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try." "I'm not sure how we'll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we'll get there. I know we will."

We do big things.

The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice. And tonight, more than two centuries later, it's because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.

That last line was particularly good, since this is the line most presidents start their speech with.

Some may say it is too late for Obama to regain control of his own narrative. Some may say Obama missed this opportunity already, in his communication problem over the past two years. Some discount the entire thing as nothing more than "the beginning of the 2012 campaign."

I have to disagree. Constructing a narrative is important. It is important to communicate why any politician fights for his or her agenda. Or political party, for that matter. Democrats have been so miserable at creating a narrative for the American people in the past few years that there is an aching void for this sort of thing. Part of President Obama's change in direction post-midterm seems to be a belated recognition of these facts. Creating a narrative, reinforcing that narrative, and selling individual ideas as components of that narrative is a crucial part of being a successful politician -- especially so for a president.

So I'd like to applaud Obama's speech for attempting something which the Obama team hasn't even attempted in quite some time: telling a story. And I hope to see more of it in the very near future.

 

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-- Chris Weigant

 

27 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [153] -- SOTU-palooza”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    there is an even more fundamental change going on. Not on policy, but rather on communications and message.

    and that, my friends, is a big part of the problem. yes, the narrative has to get better, but - holy heck - so does the POLICY.

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    and that, my friends, is a big part of the problem. yes, the narrative has to get better, but - holy heck - so does the POLICY.

    AMEN TO THAT!!!!

    Michale.....

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Mr President?

    Egypt is burning...

    What are you doing???

    Michale.....

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Egypt is burning...

    What are you doing???

    same thing our country does every night, pinky...

    and another thought, since the motto of the state of the union address was "Win The Future" (WTF), I think the appropriate acronym for the speech (and all future state of the union speeches) should be derived from different letters in the title:

    "StaTe oF the Union" = STFU

    and yes, i came up with it all on my own

    :)
    ~joshua

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    and another thought, since the motto of the state of the union address was "Win The Future" (WTF), I think the appropriate acronym for the speech (and all future state of the union speeches) should be derived from different letters in the title:

    "StaTe oF the Union" = STFU

    and yes, i came up with it all on my own

    "I don't care who you are, that right thar was funny as hell, I tell yooo whaat"
    -Larry The Cable Guy

    Michale.....

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    And, under the You Thought YOU Had A Bad Day??? heading??

    A "Black Widow" suicide bomber planned a terrorist attack in central Moscow on New Year's Eve but was killed when an unexpected text message set off her bomb too early, according to Russian security sources.

    The unnamed woman, who is thought to be part of the same group that struck Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Monday, intended to detonate a suicide belt near Red Square on New Year's Eve in an attack that could have killed hundreds.

    Security sources believe a message from her mobile phone operator wishing her a happy new year received just hours before the planned attack triggered her suicide belt, killing her at a safe house.

    http://www.leaderpost.com/news/Text+message+blows+suicide+bomber+accident/4172966/story.html#ixzz1CVG3G14G

    Talk about your DOH!! moments.. :D

    Michale.....

  7. [7] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    so those automated messages ARE good for something!!!

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    same thing our country does every night, pinky...

    By the by, love the Pinky And The Brain reference... :D

    Michale......

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    so those automated messages ARE good for something!!!

    Good one! I laughed my ass off at this!! :D

    Thanx

    Michale.....

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    "And the hits just keep on coming....."
    -Tom Cruise, A FEW GOOD MEN

    Florida judge rules that health care law is unconstitutional and says the entire act must be declared void.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/31/us-usa-healthcare-ruling-idUSTRE70U6RY20110131?feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNews

    Michale.....

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    What is it about the Affordable Care Act that makes it so unconstitutional from the point of view of some conservative judges?

    I don't want to read the link ... just give me the general gist of it.

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    I can sum it up with one phrase from the Judge who ruled..

    Trying to solve Health Care problem by mandating that everyone buy insurance is akin to trying to solve the homeless problem by mandating that everyone buy a house.

    The Federal Government simply cannot force Americans to buy a product they may not want to buy..

    With that kind of power, where would it stop??

    Have the government tell you that you MUST by a bicycle instead of a car to solve the pollution problem?

    Ironically enough, this was Obama's position during the '08 campaign. And he scorned and ridiculed Hillary because the mandate was her position.

    Michale.....

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    The Federal Government simply cannot force Americans to buy a product they may not want to buy.

    Don't Americans have to buy auto insurance?

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    Yes, but there are several things that make the comparison invalid.

    First off, the mandate to purchase auto insurance comes from the states, not the federal government.

    Second, it's a requirement that is contingent on operating a motor vehicle. If you want the privilege of operating a motor vehicle, it's a requirement that you have auto insurance.

    With CrapCare, the only "requirement" is that you are an American citizen and you are breathing.

    The mandate is unconstitutional. Without the mandate, CrapCare cannot function.

    Michale.....

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    You have to ask yourselves...

    If CrapCare is so good, why has the Obama Administration issued over 730 waivers to groups, businesses and corporations..

    Interestingly enough, the vast majority of groups receiving waivers are the groups that supported Obama in the '08 elections...

    Michale.....

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    I do have to issue a correction..

    The mandate to purchase a house to combat homelessness example did not come from Judge Vinson.

    It was an example that Obama gave AGAINST a healtcare mandate during the 2008 election..

    Michale.....

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    Let me put it another way..

    Say I want to get a job with the Federal Government. The job is strenuous and physical. The government can mandate that I purchase a membership in a gym so I can lose weight and get into shape. This is required if I want to have that job.. If I don't want to purchase a gym membership, I don't HAVE to... I simply can't have the job..

    A mandate to purchase a product as a requirement for something else. This is prudent, reasonable and, above all, constitutional.

    However, under the CrapCare mindset, the Obama Administration can mandate I purchase a gym membership to lose weight and get into shape simply by virtue of me being an American citizen. Under CrapCare, the government can force this based on the theory that I might, repeat *MIGHT* became a health care burden in the future.. And, if I refuse to purchase a gym membership and lose weight, the Obama Administration can fine me to cover health care costs that I might, repeat *MIGHT* incur in the future..

    As an American, I have no choice but to purchase a private product.

    You see what a slippery slope this is??

    In two years time, it's likely we will be having full GOP control over the House, the Senate and the White House..

    Do you really want to give the power of the Mandate to Republicans???

    Just think of all the things that Republicans can force Americans to purchase.

    Bibles! Chastity belts!! Reader's Digest!!!

    The horror!!!! :D

    Michale.....

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    Thanks very much for that explanation. This part especially resonated with me ...

    First off, the mandate to purchase auto insurance comes from the states, not the federal government.

    This may be why then Senator Biden really did have the best plan for healthcare reform of all of the Democratic presidential candidates. Still, that didn't preclude him from 'announcing' the Affordable Care Act as a BFD. :)

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    The "auto insurance" example is somewhat inaccurate for the reasons stated.. You don't HAVE to buy auto insurance.

    For the auto insurance example to be an accurate analogy, it would have to be that you are forced to buy auto insurance even if you don't drive..

    So, what do you think about that?

    What do you think about a mandate that forced people to buy auto insurance, even if they don't drive?? You MUST purchase auto insurance because that will bring down prices and, hay, you MIGHT drive in the future.

    Isn't that clearly unconstitutional??

    What about the measure in South Dakota?? The state of South Dakota is trying to pass a measure that, within 6 months of turning 21, each resident of South Dakota MUST purchase a firearm unless otherwise precluded by other laws..

    Wouldn't that be clearly unconstitutional??

    Those two examples are clearly and unequivocally against the US Constitution..

    And yet, they are completely identical to the CrapCare mandate...

    If Obama and the Democrats had any political smarts at all, they would join Republicans and repeal CrapCare in it's entirety and start over, taking the best that CrapCare has to offer (no denial of pre-existing conditions, children on longer, etc etc) and taking the best GOP ideas (tort reform, etc etc) and mold a new Health Care Reform package that ACTUALLY reforms health care...

    With a bi-partisan approach that ignores corporate lobbyists, a new package could be hashed out in weeks... Not the year+ it took Democrats to do it when they went it alone without the support of the American people...

    Michale.....

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    So, what do you think about that?

    What do you think about a mandate that forced people to buy auto insurance, even if they don't drive?? You MUST purchase auto insurance because that will bring down prices and, hay, you MIGHT drive in the future.

    Isn't that clearly unconstitutional??

    I'm sorry but your analogy is wholly inaccurate - not to mention nonsensical - and has nothing to say about health insurance.

    If somebody doesn't drive, then no sane government would force them to buy auto insurance ... not even the Obama administration!

    If somebody doesn't have health concerns that impact upon them or emanate from them, then they would be quite dead, literally, and no government could manadate them to buy health insurance.

    Do you see where I'm going with this?

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    If somebody doesn't drive, then no sane government would force them to buy auto insurance ... not even the Obama administration!

    And if somebody never sees a doctor, then no sane government SHOULD force them to buy health insurance..

    If somebody doesn't have health concerns that impact upon them or emanate from them, then they would be quite dead, literally,

    I am not sure how you got from point A to point B with this..

    Many people don't see a doctor and will never see a doctor ever. Why should THEY have to pay for something that they may never use, just so someone ELSE can have it cheaper??

    The mandate to buy Auto Insurance is identical to the mandate to buy Health Insurance..

    BOTH mandates presupposes that, eventually, a person will come under the auspices of the respective category..

    The mandate to purchase Health Insurance presupposes that, eventually, a person will see a doctor or will need medical attention.

    The mandate to purchase Auto Insurance presupposes that a person will, eventually, own and drive a vehicle...

    BOTH mandates are outside the purview of the Federal Government...

    Once this gets to the Supreme Court, I am certain that is exactly how the SCOTUS will rule.

    Vinson, in his ruling, cited numerous SCOTUS precedents to support his ruling. It is inconceivable that the SCOTUS could rule any other way..

    Michale.....

  22. [22] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    I've heard this argument before about car insurance, and you know I've called for Obama to dump the mandate, but a thought occurred to me, so I thought I'd float it by you to see what you think.

    How do you feel about mandating that motorcyclists wear helmets? I know, there aren't direct paralells (it's a state issue, not federal, for starters) and I'm not saying there are. But I'm still curious to know what you think, because when it happened out here there was a HUGE outcry from the bikers. But the logic used was interesting: when you crash a motorcycle, you get hurt. A LOT of motorcyclists had no health insurance, and therefore wound up on the public dime -- sometimes for the rest of their lives (lots of public dimes, in other words). Head injuries were the worst. So mandating that they wear a helmet was done directly to bring the state's medical costs down.

    As I said, there aren't direct parallels, more of an ideological question, but where would you have stood on this issue? Just curious.

    -CW

  23. [23] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale [19] -

    Actually, almost immediately after the Constitution was passed, there were laws which mandated that all males own/purchase a gun (to improve the state militias). The Founding Fathers were still around at the time, so they must have thought it was okey-dokey with the Constitution.

    -CW

  24. [24] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @cw,

    i happen to disagree with michale on this issue, but i believe his reasoning is thus: riding a motorcycle is a choice. if you don't want to ride, you can go buy a car or take the bus. therefore it is okay for the state to mandate a choice, but only if an individual has some viable way to opt out. unless suicide becomes legal, it is not your choice whether or not to occupy your own body.

  25. [25] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    michale,

    by your logic, i believe medicare and social security would also be unconstitutional, since we the taxpayers are required to provide a service for others that we may or may not end up receiving ourselves. essentially, we've all been forced to buy old-age insurance. if i die before sixty, all that money i spent on medicare and social security will never reach me or my relatives. this is a hard-core right wing argument, but its logic is internally consistent.

    this is not exactly an endorsement for the health care policy, but the way i see it, the slippery slope was put in place decades ago. as such, it's a bit silly to make an issue of it just because it's happened with something new. if there were a public option, the scenario would be exactly the same as medicare or social security. however, because we're mandated to buy a corporate product, it takes things just a bit further.

  26. [26] 
    Michale wrote:

    How do you feel about mandating that motorcyclists wear helmets?

    This ain't probably gonna win me any friends around here, but personally I think if someone wants to ride a motorcycle, they should be disqualified from receiving ANY medical care unless they pay for the worst possible outcome upfront...

    Call it the Evel Keneivel Policy... :D If yer gonna do stoopid shit like that, yer gonna pay thru the noise BEFORE you mount the bike...

    And I am speaking as a guy who used to ride a motorcycle to work and back in San Diego....

    It's actually funny. My big brother used to tell me I was nuts for riding a motorcycle...

    The irony is he was a motocross racer at the time.. :D

    Actually, almost immediately after the Constitution was passed, there were laws which mandated that all males own/purchase a gun (to improve the state militias). The Founding Fathers were still around at the time, so they must have thought it was okey-dokey with the Constitution.

    Yea, but you know how the Gun Control Lobby has totally fracked up the Founding Father's original intent...

    If the GCL had their way, the only thing Americans would have to defend themselves with is harsh language...

    Michale.....

  27. [27] 
    Michale wrote:

    It doesn't look good for CrapCare in the SCOTUS....

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/02/02/hint-supreme-court-rejects-rulings-row-west-coast-bench/

    NYPoet

    i happen to disagree with michale on this issue, but i believe his reasoning is thus: riding a motorcycle is a choice. if you don't want to ride, you can go buy a car or take the bus. therefore it is okay for the state to mandate a choice, but only if an individual has some viable way to opt out. unless suicide becomes legal, it is not your choice whether or not to occupy your own body.

    That's exactly my reasoning...

    It goes along with what I told Liz about acquiring a GOV job that requires physical exertion that would necessitate a gym membership...

    If one CHOOSES to partake in a hazardous activity that could bring harm to others than a mandate for insurance is prudent and logical..

    As for Medicare and Social Security, you do raise a valid point.

    The horse HAS left the barn in that regard...

    However, as you point out, the mandate to purchase a private sector product is new...

    While it could be viewed as a logical progression of the Medicate/SS programs, I think it's a step too far...

    Time will tell if the SCOTUS agrees with my assessment...

    Give the predilections of the SCOTUS in the here and now and given the overwhelming opposition to the mandate which has been established as "unseverable", I doubt CrapCare will survive the day..

    Time will tell...

    Michale.....

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