Friday, November 6, 2009

Party Discipline

QOTD: Lilybart Says:
November 6th, 2009 at 5:49 AM

Michele Bachman is challenging Miss Wasilla for the title of Queen Teabagger and she is winning!!

Cantor Promises Tea Partiers: 'Not One' GOP Vote For Health Care November 5, 2009, 1:13PM

Greg Sargent:
* To Olympia Snowe, the more universal and affordable reform makes health care, the further out of the mainstream it really is.
* Joe Lieberman has privately schemed about a health care filibuster with GOP Senator Jon Kyl, Sam Stein reports. Sources tell me Lieberman will immediately face discipline from Democratic leaders. Kidding!
DavidNYC (DK): If We Punish Lieberman, We'll Lose the Vote He Isn't Giving Us
I swear, this is their logic now:
Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) is unlikely to face retribution if he votes to filibuster the Democratic health care bill, despite renewed calls from outraged liberals for party leaders to punish him by stripping him of his committee chairmanship.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “needs his vote,” one senior Senate Democratic aide said. “It would be counterproductive.”
They've descended into parody: Reid can't punish Lieberman because he needs his vote, which he won't get. This is nonsensical, even by the baroque standards of the United States Senate. Here's some more nonsense:
“A great majority of the time, Sen. Lieberman votes with his caucus,” Manley said. “This may be one time they disagree.”
The one time, huh? What is it about the Senate that makes people descend into such pits of absurdity? At least one staffer tells the sad truth:
“If you’re not going to punish someone for endorsing the Republican candidate for president, when are you going to punish him?” another Senate Democratic aide asked. “I don’t even know if this is a punishable offense.”
Of course it's not. Probably the only thing that would constitute a punishable offense would be, as Jed suggested to me, threatening to filibuster a bill that did not contain a public option. Meanwhile, we need to keep Joe Lieberman in the fold so that he can depart from it whenever he pleases.
Sen. Olympia Snowe's (R-Maine) opinions on health care policy have taken on quite a bit of significance in recent months. That's a shame.
Today, for example, she was asked for her opinion on the House reform bill, which may get a vote in just 48 hours. "I do not know what world they live in," Snowe said, apparently in reference to House Democrats. "But all I know is it is totally detached from the average person, the average business owner who is struggling to keep their doors open and to have that level of taxation is breathtaking in its dimensions. I just think it is so out of proportion with reality and with mainstream America that it is hard to believe, frankly."
Perhaps Snowe went into more substantive detail -- explaining, for example, what she considers "mainstream" -- but I haven't seen additional reporting. She just seems to think the House bill is some kind of outrageous disaster.
It's possible Snowe just doesn't know what's in the House bill, because her assessment is wrong.
The health-care reform bills emerging from the House and Senate, when melded and enacted, will constitute an epochal achievement: the near-universal provision of medical care to the American people. But the House version is clearly the more epochal, as the health coverage it provides is more universal, chiefly because it's more affordable.
For families who buy their insurance on the exchanges that both bills establish, for instance, the House bill includes more generous subsidies -- on average, $1,000 more, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The House bill also offers a lot more assistance to Medicare recipients by reducing the cost of their prescriptions. While the bill that emerged from the Senate Finance Committee renews the Bush administration's mega-bucks gift to the drug companies by continuing to prohibit Medicare from negotiating drug prices with them, the House bill authorizes those negotiations. The Senate bill reduces by half the payments that Medicare recipients must make for prescription drugs that fall into the "doughnut hole" (annual drug expenses are covered up to $2,700, and coverage kicks in again at $6,100, but for all purchases in between, Medicarians are on their own). The House bill would cover all prescription purchases by 2019.
Jon Cohn said of the House bill, "The issue here is whether the House produced a fiscally sound bill that puts health insurance within reach of most Americans while starting to reform the system. And, based on everything we're hearing, it does.... Among the proposals on the table, it looks like the House version provides the most people with affordable access to medical care. It also pays for itself."
FamiliesUSA President Ron Pollack said the House bill "sets the gold standard for legislation that deserves to be adopted this year."
What world does Olympia Snowe live in?
Drum: Taking Governance Seriously
Congress passed something today. Hooray!
Congress gave final approval Thursday for an additional $24 billion to help the jobless and support the housing market as climbing unemployment poses a growing liability for elected officials.
The bill, passed overwhelmingly by the House and headed to President Obama for his signature Friday, extends unemployment nsurance benefits that were due to expire and renews an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, while also expanding it to cover many other home purchases.
And Democrats only had to break three separate filibusters in the Senate to get this passed! The first filibuster was broken by a vote of 87-13, the second by a vote of 85-2, and the third by a vote of 97-1. The fourth and final vote, the one to actually pass the bill, was 98-0. Elapsed time: five weeks for a bill that everyone ended up voting for.
Why? Because even though Republicans were allowed to tack on a tax cut to the bill as the price of getting it passed, they decided to filibuster anyway unless they were also allowed to include an anti-ACORN amendment. Seriously. A bit of ACORN blustering to satisfy the Palin-Beck crowd is the reason they held up a bill designed to help people who are out of work in the deepest recession since World War II. Details here and here. That's called taking governing seriously, my friends.
DougJ: If conservatism is formless like water….
Bobo on independents:
Independents are herds of cats who find out what they think through a meandering process of discovery. Right now, independent voters are astonishingly volatile. Democrats did poorly in elections on Tuesday partly because of disappointed liberals who think that President Obama is moving too slowly, but mostly because of anxious suburban independents who think he is moving too fast. In Pennsylvania, there was an eight-point swing away from the Democrats among independents from a year ago. In New Jersey, there was a 12-point swing. In Virginia, there was a 13-point swing.[....]
Independents support the party that seems most likely to establish a frame of stability and order, within which they can lead their lives. They can’t always articulate what they want, but they withdraw from any party that threatens turmoil and risk. As always, they’re looking for a safe pair of hands.
Nate Silver
Too often in “mainstream” political analysis, once it is pointed out that independents have swung in one or another direction, the analysis stops. The pundit inserts his own opinion about what caused the independent vote to shift (“Obama’s far-reaching proposals and mounting spending”, says the Washington Post), without citing any evidence. It’s a neat trick, and someone who isn’t paying attention is liable to conclude that the pundit has actually said something interesting.
But in New Jersey, there’s literally almost no evidence that the Democrats’ agenda had anything to do with Jon Corzine’s defeat. Voters who cited a national issue were more likely to vote for Corzine, and voters who cited a local one, the Republican Chris Christie.
The whole Bobo piece is a classic, from the jigsaw puzzle he played with as a kid to the “America moved to the right” meme. The Sulzbergers must be very proud of him.
Mudflats: Teabags’ Revenge – Beyond Satire.

This is not a joke….I repeat, this is not a joke. Not satire. No Steven Colbert popping in at the end. No Onion. No Andy Borowitz. And yet, I couldn’t watch it without laughing. All it needs at the end is the Capitol Building blowing up in a giant red fireball, and Bachmann, Palin and a Teabag guy with giant sunglasses and black boots walking shoulder to shoulder out of the flames.

My favorite part is when the guy with the three-cornered hat says in his painfully bad colonial accent “We’ll give them some stimulus!” Yeah, we got your stimulus right here, Buddy.

And “When you have government control over everything, you have tie-rannic behavior.” Yeah. Corporate control over everything is the way to go. No tie-rannic behavior there. Who needs all that oversight and regulation? It just gets in the way of global corporatism… the real freedom.

And they even manage to slip in one of those Obama as the Joker faces in the background.

Their website says: “The Tea Party movement of 2009 shocked the political establishment, the nation at large and left a big media machine dizzy in its wake. How did it happen? Where did it come from?” I hate to spoil the surprise, but the answer would be the national group Freedomworks, and a certain Dick Armey. Grass roots? Not so much.

Anyway, it’s coming to a dvd near you this Thanksgiving. (clearing my throat and trying to sound all baritone and ominous, like the guy on the trailer) Turkey Day…. it’s not just for Sarah Palin anymore.

Meanwhile, back on Capitol Hill, Cogresswoman Michele Bachmann urged supporters to confront members of congress with video cameras, in order to scare them into voting to kill the health care reform bill. “I think that will absolutely scare these members of Congress so much that Pelosi will not get the votes and it will kill the bill.” So, let me get this straight. This is a sitting member of congress, urging citizens to use methods of intimidation to “scare” other members of congress into changing their votes to suit her own ideological agenda for political gain.

But the pre-protest phone and fax bomb that was scheduled for yesterday fizzled, and yet Bachmann managed to get herself in front of the Fox News cameras who were more than happy to give her a platform for her wingnuttery.

That Michele Bachman…she’s sort of like Sarah Palin, only with an actual job.

Conservatives Complain About The Oppression Of White Men On The Bench.

Dave Weigel reports that the conservative Committee for Justice is complaining in the aftermath of the nomination of one Latino and one African-American to the federal bench, that President Obama's judicial nominees aren't diverse enough because there aren't enough southern white men among them.

Does President Obama or his advisors believe that southern white men are likely to be bigoted, making them unfit to serve on the second most powerful court in the land? We hope not and readily concede that it is difficult to know if any such stereotype lurks in the White House. The absence of southern white male circuit nominees could, instead, be an innocent coincidence or the not-so-innocent byproduct of a judicial selection process dominated by racial and gender preferences.

But regardless of the reason for the pattern we noted in 2007 and again now, even the appearance that Democrats are biased against southern white men is a potential problem for the party generally, and for President Obama’s goal of transcending old racial divisions.

Just to put this in perspective, a whopping 18% of judges on the federal bench are people of color. But in the eyes of this conservative group, assigning more white men to the federal bench "transcends racial divisions," and that doing otherwise reflects a selection process "dominated by racial and gender preferences." Conservatives regularly try to cast affirmative action as racially discriminatory, but rarely does someone openly admit that their only issue with the process is simply who is being discriminated against.

There's something to be said for considering diversity of life and professional experience in picking judges, but some conservatives often don't seem too concerned about such things unless -- as in this case -- they're making the argument on behalf of white men.

-- A. Serwer

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