Archive for January 13th, 2010

Wanker Of The Month

Pat Robertson is an inhuman monster:

Today on his 700 Club television show, Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson highlighted the tragedy and said that his network will be there “to help the people.” However, he then tried to offer an explanation for the earthquake, blaming Haiti’s own people for once making a “pact to the devil”:

ROBERTSON: [S]omething happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. Napoleon the Third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you get us free from the prince.” True story. And so the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.” They kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free.

But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle, on the one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island.

(…)

This is the same person who said that then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had a stroke in 2006 because he was “dividing God’s land” and claimed that God sent Hurricane Katrina as punishment for the country’s sins, such as legalized abortion.

…And, of course, the same person who couldn’t agree with Jerry Falwell fast enough when he blamed 9/11 on “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays… and the ACLU”.  So apparently his first response to a great tragedy is not compassion for the victims, but rather to try to figure out who God must be punishing.

Can someone point me to the chapter of the Bible where Jesus reacts to some human tragedy by saying, “Nyah nyah, they brought it on themselves”?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Anyone?

I also like the little “True story” he threw in there about how the Haitians “got together and swore a pact to the devil.”  So either he was there, or he has really old videotape of it, or Satan bragged to him about it personally.  Or perhaps he just doesn’t distinguish between voodoo rituals and Satanic pacts.

In any case… yeah.  What a horrible, horrible un-Christian little man.

If you would rather throw the Haitians some help instead of blame, you can give via Save the Children, Unicef, TransAfrica, the AFL-CIO, Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti, and of course, the Red Cross.  And in what I believe is a brand new technological innovation, the latter two actually allow you to make small quick donations via text message: If you text “Yele” to 501501 or “HAITI” to 90999, $5 or $10 (respectively) will be charged to your phone bill to contribute to the relief effort.

January 13th, 2010 at 09:40pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Religion,Republicans,Wankers

Eleven-Dimensional Chess On The Public Option?

One of the strangest things about the healthcare reform battle is how many public option supporters have come out in favor of the terrible public optionless Senate bill.  Just off the top of my head, we’ve got Wendell Potter, Jacob Hacker, Vicki Kennedy, Paul Krugman, Russ Feingold, and Bernie Sanders – all have basically said that while the Senate bill is far from perfect, it’s still a monumental step forward and we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good yadda yadda yadda.

So here’s what I’m wondering: One of the strategies that was talked about to get the public option passed in the face of resistance by the Lieberman Caucus was the use of budget reconciliation to pass the public option piece and anything else with a budgetary impact, and a separate, regular subject-to-filibuster bill to pass the rest.  The risk was always that Nelson and Lieberman would be so incensed at being bypassed on the public option that they would filibuster the other piece, no matter how rich with corporate goodies it was.

But what if Obama and Reid got them to vote for “the rest” first, and then added the public option (and maybe fixed the excise tax?) via reconciliation after? That would be the best way to get the full healthcare reform package passed, but it only works if that second half is a secret, otherwise Nelson and Lieberman would sabotage the first half.

Do I believe that this is actually Obama and Reid’s Cunning Plan?  Well no.  But I can certainly imagine them convincing various wishful-thinking public option supporters that it is.  That scenario would perfectly explain the otherwise inexplicable behavior of the public option supporters: They haven’t been bribed or threatened, just tricked into believing that the Senate bill is just one necessary part of a much better whole, which can’t pass unless the other, better part remains a secret.

Unfortunately, the actions of a diabolically clever and ruthlessly pro-public option President and Majority Leader are pretty much indistinguishable from the actions of a craven and corrupt President and Majority Leader, so I guess we won’t know for sure until after the Senate bill passes.  Of course, we’d still be stuck with either the Stupak or Nelson amendment, but hey, Roe v. Wade is a small price to pay for healthcare reform, right?

6 comments January 13th, 2010 at 06:39pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Healthcare,Obama,Politics

Pyrrhic Victories Count Too

On the surface, this sounds like a ringing endorsement of Obama’s unprecedented success:

Obama has been no different from his predecessors in that he’s always ready to send a firm message to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue as he “urges members of Congress” to come together and act. All presidents demand specific action by Congress — or at least they ask for it. But when you look at the votes of 2009 in which Obama made his preference clear, his success rate was unprecedented, according to John Cranford of Congressional Quarterly.

“His success was 96.7 percent on all the votes where we said he had a clear position in both the House and the Senate. That’s an extraordinary number,” Cranford says.

The previous high scores were held by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, with 93 percent, and Dwight Eisenhower, who scored 89 percent in 1953. Cranford notes that George W. Bush’s score hit the high 80s in 2001, the year of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. But Obama surpassed them all, Cranford says.

Wow!  Obama is totally Made Of Win, right?  Well, sort of…

A major reason for Obama’s record high score this year: Democrats took away a significant number of seats from Republicans in the 2006 and 2008 elections, resulting in big majorities in the House and Senate for the president’s party.

But Sarah Binder, a congressional analyst at the Brookings Institution, says there’s another key reason he scored so well. She says he only took an official position on issues that were really important to him — those that he knew he had a very good chance of winning. He picked his battles carefully.

(…)

But another contributing factor here may prove more controversial for the president and his party. That’s his willingness to negotiate and to compromise. For example, as much as the president said he wanted a public option as part of a health care bill, the final legislation won’t have one. But that’s not counted as a loss for the president under the scoring of this survey.

What the story doesn’t mention is that if Obama doesn’t have the votes, there is no vote.  Neither he nor Reid are willing to force the issue and put Republicans and conservative Democrats’ votes on the record, and neither of them are willing to fight, cajole, or twist arms.  Instead, when Lieberman or Nelson (or Collins or Snowe) start blustering that they’ll vote against cloture, they immediately look to appease them by watering the bill down until it’s no longer beneficial.  But never does Obama publicly pressure them, nor does Reid threaten them with loss of committee seats or lack of support for re-election.

So when the study says that Obama was victorious 96.7% of the time, it really means that he agreed with Nelson and Lieberman (and possibly Snowe and Collins) 96.7% of the time.  He’s like a prosecutor who only takes cases where he has a signed confession, or else lets the defendant plead down from double murder to jaywalking.  Sure, he has a great conviction rate, but can he really be considered effective or successful?

As I’ve said before, I would much rather see Obama on the right side of a losing battle every so often, than on the wrong side of a winning one (or conceding defeat without one) over and over again.

January 13th, 2010 at 11:41am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Lieberman,Obama,Politics

Sestak Succeeds Where Obama Failed

So let’s recap the Dawn Johnsen situation: Obama nominates her for the pivotal position of head of DOJ’s Office Of Legal Counsel about a year ago, and makes absolutely no effort to get her confirmed, ostensibly because even though Dick Lugar supports her, Nelson and Specter do not.  Instead of pressuring Nelson and/or Specter (who switched parties and is trying to get re-elected this year) or appealing to Snowe or Collins, Obama lets Johnsen twist in the wind for a year.

Then, a few days ago, the White House announces that Obama will renominate Johnsen, but there’s still no reason to believe that he’ll push for her confirmation this time.  Until Specter’s primary opponent Joe Sestak pressured Specter into publicly announcing his support for Johnsen, officially bringing her vote total to 60 and clearing the way for her to finally be confirmed.

What’s appalling about this whole fiasco is how obviously willing Obama was to let Johnsen twist in the wind, and the fact that she’s only getting a confirmation vote because Specter’s primary opponent forced him into a declaration of support that made her confirmation unavoidable.  Would Obama have let her dangle for another year, or until she finally got fed up?  And was his passivity a deliberate strategy to keep her out of OLC as long as possible to give him a free hand, or because he couldn’t be bothered to fight for her even the least little bit?

In any case, it’s a sad day when a sophomore Representative has more influence and moxie than the President Of The United States.

January 13th, 2010 at 07:21am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Obama,Politics,Specter,Wankers


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