Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Fireside chat for August 22, 2009

I was describing to a friend of mine yesterday (Friday) how it seems all throughout the Campaign and now throughout his young Presidency, the President tends to set a "date certain" in advance when it's go time; when he and his staff will go on the offensive, go on the attack, and just overwhelm his opposition, never letting up.

The one thing that bears remembering is that once the Team sets that date, it's very hard to get them to move off it.

Well. Sometimes, every once in a while, they'll move things up a bit. I don't know if it's go time yet...but they seem to be oiling up their boxing gloves.

Friday, August 21, 2009

HuffPo: Smearing the Science Advisor...

...when you run out of bullets...throw the gun.

I'm pissed about this because he's a distant, distant, distant acquaintance.

Conservative media outlets are waging an online defamation campaign against Presidential Science Advisor Jon Holdren, using out-of-context quotes and misinformation to portray him as hell-bent on pursuing population control through the use of forced abortions and mass sterilization.

Fox News reported that Holdren was bent on adopting a "planetary regime" of population control, while blogger Michelle Malkin called him a "wackjob" who entertains policies that would mandate "forced abortions, mass sterilizations, and poisoning the water supply to control the population." On February 27, FrontPage Magazine published an article decrying Holdren's "globalist, redistributionist, Malthusian views."

The attacks are widely off the mark. The evidence generally cited by critics is a 1997 textbook entitled "Ecoscience: Population, Resources, and Environment." The authors -- Holdren is one of three -- in a chapter detailing various coercive and non-coercive policies for "population control" ultimately come out strongly against such policies. They argue that the harm caused by their adoption "would, in our opinion, militate against the use of any such agent" of involuntary population control.

Nate Silver: Are Progressives on Tilt?

A little bit, yeah.

The situation:

There's an fascinating debate going on in liberal circles about just how serious progressive Democratic congressmen are about voting down a health care bill that does not contain a public option. The threat to do so has been made frequently and forcefully, both by rank-and-file members and by the Majority Leader. But is it a credible one?

On the one hand, I'd have trouble being persuaded that progressives would actually prefer to maintain the status quo than to pass a bill without a public option. Now, I can certainly imagine a bill being so bad that it would be a net setback to progressives' goals -- say you had something without a public option, employer mandate, or a national exchange, but with a strict individual mandate and which only provided subsidies up to 200 percent of poverty -- and that this bill were funded through a fairly regressive means like a value added tax. That would be a pretty terrible piece of policy and progressives (and most everyone else not employed by an insurance company) would be right to oppose it. But if you took something more like the current House bill, stripped it of the public option (replacing it with co-ops, I guess) and maintained everything else, this bill would still accomplish several important progressive and pubic policy goals (and avoid a major near-term political disaster for the President). Progressives, rightly, would like such a bill less. But for them to prefer the status quo to such a solution doesn't seem credible. That's why a lot of people have trouble taking the progressives' threats at face value.

On the other hand, suppose that we reverse this argument: are there Blue Dogs who would prefer the status quo to a bill with a public option -- but would prefer a bill without a public option to the status quo? The qualifier is important. Three House committees have already approved bills containing public options. In each case, some Blue Dog votes were lost. But how many of these Blue Dogs would have voted to approve the bill if it didn't contain a public option? That is far less clear. Some of them might have, almost certainly. But progressives ought to be wary of Blue Dogs (and Republicans) who argue against a public option -- when they may simply be opposed to the entire concept of meaningful health care reform.

To recap:

A. If the only two choices were to pass an (otherwise decent) bill without a public option and to pass nothing at all, and everyone knew these were the only two choices, I believe the bill would almost certainly pass; progressives would cave.

B. On the other hand, if the only two choices were to pass a bill with a public option and nothing at all, and everyone knew these were the only two choices, I believe at least some Blue Dogs would cave and the bill would stand a decent shot at passing. This is far less clear, however; it is incumbent upon progressives to determine whether a bill with a public option really does stand a shot a passage. If not then their threat is idle at best, and self-destructive at worst.

And what does it mean to "go Tilt?"

In poker, one of the situations when a player is most prone to go on tilt is when he had been on a winning streak and then begins to lose. It's one thing when you simply aren't getting cards all night and lose money slowly and steadily. When this happens, most poker players are pretty good at accepting that it just isn't their night and will continue to play reasonably well, if perhaps a little overcautiously. But if you had been winning -- if you had already "booked" the win in your mind -- and then you start losing, things can get really, really ugly. You'll make bold, rash, irrational gambles. Your big win will turn into a small win and, if you're not careful, into a big loss.

This is sort of the situation that progressives are in right now. They're not in a mood to compromise. They're in a mood to gamble. This may well be irrational. It may well prove to be self-destructive. But the one thing you never, never want to do with someone who is on tilt is to try to bluff them off their hand.

The Daily Show: "I like you, but I don't understand how your brain works..."

It didn't seem that way in the broadcast version, but Jon really kicks the crap out of her in Part 3. You really need a strong stomach to get through it all.

UPDATE 10:14am, Pacific: James Fallows of the Atlantic Monthly wrote a profile of Betsy McCaughey (Jon's victim in the video below) a week or two ago. But this is the money quote:

I have been far too soft on Betsy McCaughey. Even when conferring on her the title of "most destructive effect on public discourse by a single person" for the 1990s. She is way less responsible and tethered to the world of "normal" facts and discourse than I had imagined.

Part 1:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Betsy McCaughey Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Part 2:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Part 3:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Finally, something that has nothing whatsoever to do with Healthcare (VIDEO)

No Frommer's Guide to Arizona for the foreseeable future...

Arthur Frommer of Frommer's Travel Guides is skipping Arizona for a while.

I am not yet certain whether I would advocate a travel boycott by others of the state of Arizona; I want to learn more about Arizona's gun laws and how they compare with those of other states. But I am shocked beyond measure by reports that earlier this week, nearly a dozen persons, including one with an assault rifle strapped about his shoulders and others with pistols in their hands or holsters, were openly congregating outside a hall at which President Obama was speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Oh, TPM totally had this first, BTW.

MSNBC: Rachel's Pizza Parable... (VIDEO)

The President's Interview with Michael Smerconish (Aug. 20, 2009) (Complete Transcript)

All the text highlighted in blue is the stuff you heard/saw on the videos that were released earlier today.

Interestingly, this transcript does not contain the Book of Secrets stuff (which I thought was a nice light-hearted moment).

UPDATE: 4:47pm Pacific. A complete video of the Interview is available here.

It seems that the Book of Secrets Moment was apparently said before they hit the air, thus it's not part of the transcript.

For Immediate Release August 20, 2009


Diplomatic Reception Room

1:05 P.M. EDT

MR. SMERCONISH: Hi, everybody. Welcome back to the program. I'm Michael Smerconish. What an honor for me to say I'm live at the White House and I'm joined by the President of the United States.

Mr. President, what an honor for me, and thank you, sir, for this privilege, and thank you for coming back to my radio program.

THE PRESIDENT: Michael, it's great to be on the show again. Every time we've been on it's been a great time. So I appreciate the opportunity.

MR. SMERCONISH: Folks are stacked up, as you might imagine. They're anxious to pose some questions about health care to the President of the United States. More than 5,000 e-mail suggestions have flowed through my Web site in just the last 24 hours alone.

If it's all right, I'll start by posing a couple of questions and some of the things that I continue to hear from folks, and we'll welcome phone callers, as well.

Allow me, sir, to begin with this. Did Secretary Sebelius misspeak last weekend? You know, a great deal has been made as to what she said pertaining to the so-called public option.

THE PRESIDENT: She really didn't misspeak. The surprising thing is she'd been saying this all along. She said the same thing a month ago. And let me just describe what the issue is here. We have consistently talked about the need for health care reform because family premiums are going up three times faster than inflation and wages. The costs of Medicare and Medicaid will bankrupt this country if we don't reduce the cost inflation of health care. You've got families who can't get health care because of preexisting conditions or they bump up against some lifetime cap if a family member gets really ill.

So what we've said is there are a number of components of health care. One is that for people who already have health insurance, they can keep their health insurance, but we're going to have some consumer protections to regulate how insurers operate. For example, they can't prohibit people from getting it, health insurance, because of a preexisting condition. They can't have lifetime caps or yearly caps that prevent people from getting the care that they need.

We're also going -- for people who don't have health insurance -- to set up a system similar to what Congress has, where you can buy into a bigger pool, get better rates, have better protections around you. You would be buying that insurance from private insurers.

But one of the options we talked about was a public option where there wouldn't be a profit motive involved. It would be non-for-profit, and that public option would give you affordable health insurance.

Now, what we've said is we think that's a good idea. But we haven't said that that's the only aspect of health insurance. And what she essentially said was, is that all these other insurance reforms are just as important as the public option. The press got a little excited and some folks on the left got a little excited about this. Our position hasn't changed. We think that the key is cost control, competition, making sure that people have good, quality options. If we're able to achieve that, that's the end that we're seeking. And the means -- you know, we can have some good arguments about what the best way to achieve it is, but we've got to change because the status quo is unsustainable.

MR. SMERCONISH: Mr. President, there's a mindset among many folks in many audience who say that the endgame, it's all about single-payer; that it's a public option or it's a co-operative. And sir, you know that there's a perception out there that you want it all -- you know, you want to be in the banks, you want to be in the automotive industry, and now you want to be in health care. Can you address that mindset?

THE PRESIDENT: I absolutely can. First of all, look, the intervention in the banks wasn't started by me, it was started by a conservative Republican administration -- and rightly so, because our banks were on the verge of meltdown. The only thing that we've done is said, let's put in place some financial regulations to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

The auto interventions weren't started by me -- they were started by a conservative Republican administration. The only thing that we did was rather than just write GM and Chrysler a blank check, we said, you know what, if you're going to get any more taxpayer money, you've got to be accountable. They went through a record bankruptcy, and now GM for the first time is actually hiring folks back.

So I know that there's this perception that somehow we have engaged in these extraordinary interventions. Part of it had to do with the worst financial crisis in history. And the fact that both the auto bailout and the bank bailout were started under a previous, conservative Republican administration indicates the fact that this wasn't ideological; this was a matter of necessity.

Now, as far as health care goes, I've consistently said I would love the private marketplace to be handling this without any government intervention. The problem is it's not working. What we're seeing is about 14,000 folks lose their health insurance every single day. We are seeing health care inflation go up about twice as fast as regular inflation. Businesses are being crippled by it. Small businesses especially have almost no access to the marketplace because they've got no leverage with insurance companies.

So all we've said is let's keep the private system intact, but let's make sure that people who right now can't get health insurance -- about 46 million -- that they're able to buy into the market. And number two, let's have some consumer protections to make sure that those of us who have health insurance don't end up getting a bad deal because we didn't read the fine print and we think that we have coverage; when we finally get sick and we need it, it turns out that we're vulnerable because insurance companies aren't operating in the interests of their customers.

MR. SMERCONISH: I like to drive an MDX and an F-150, and I've communicated by e-mail in the last 24 hours with the woman who sold me the MDX and the guy who sold me the F-150, and each of them, Mr. President, are saying that Cash for Clunkers has been a great idea and a wonderful initiative and they closed a lot of deals, but the payments are late. And I'm hearing from a number of folks who say, come on, if the federal government can't get it together relative to Cash for Clunkers, I don't want to entrust my health care to the federal government.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me first address Cash for Clunkers. It has been successful beyond anybody's imagination. And we're now slightly victims of success because the thing happened so quick, there was so much more demand than anybody expected, that dealers were overwhelmed with applications.

Now, this program has only been going on for a few weeks, and we have hired three times as many people to process this stuff as we originally had. There has not been extraordinary delays on the U.S. government's part -- I understand dealers want to get their money back as soon as possible, but the fact of the matter is this is a good-news story; they are seeing sales that they have not seen in years.

And they will get their money, but we've got to process it properly, because if we were careless about it, if we were just sending out checks where applications were incomplete and so on, first of all, we'd be breaking the law because there are statutes set up in terms of how this is supposed to go; and secondly, there'd probably be some story -- you'd be asking me about scandals where there were a whole bunch of checks of taxpayer money being wasted, going out to people who hadn't actually bought cars.

So I think this is actually a high-class problem to have -- that we're selling too many cars too quickly and there's some backlog in the application process. It is getting fixed.

MR. SMERCONISH: Mr. President, Ernie is a listener of mine on WTKK in Boston and wishes to pose the following question. Ernie, go ahead for the President of the United States.

Q Thank you, Michael. Mr. President --

THE PRESIDENT: How are you, Ernie?

Q I'm good. Thank you for taking this call.

THE PRESIDENT: Great to talk to you.

Q I understand you've said that the federal health care plan for government employees is a pretty good plan.


Q And Congress has voted, to my understanding, not to join the public plan once it passes because they want to keep their good federal plan. Would you be willing to either urge Congress to have the federal employees join the public plan, or would you be willing to urge Congress to somehow open up the federal health plan to all Americans?

MR. SMERCONISH: Thank you, Ernie. I hear this all the time, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's a great question, Ernie. First of all, understand that currently federal employees have a very good health care plan because they're able to leverage the insurance companies. There are so many members of their -- of the federal workforce that they can get the best rates possible. Every insurance company wants to do business with the federal government. So premiums are lower and it's a better deal overall.

The same concept is what we're trying to do in setting up what's called a health insurance exchange. Essentially it'd be a marketplace where people who currently don't have health insurance or small businesses could pool their numbers so they have leverage over the insurance companies and they could go on a Web site and look at the various options, the types of various private health insurance plans that are being offered, and choose the one that's best for their families. So we're actually trying to duplicate what exists for federal employees. We want to make that available to everybody else.

Now, what we have said is, let's make a public option one choice of many choices that are available to people who are joining the exchange. And I see nothing wrong with potentially having that public option as one option for federal employees, as well.

But the important thing that I think I have to make absolutely clear: Nobody would be obligated to choose the public option. If you went on that Web site and you said, you know what, Aetna or Blue Cross Blue Shield are offering a good deal and I would rather choose that plan than the public plan, you'd be perfectly free to do so. Nobody would be saying you are obligated to go into a public plan.

MR. SMERCONISH: I think what folks are saying is that they'd love it if you'd stand up and say, whatever it is that we're creating, be it a co-op, be it a public option, whatever name ultimately might be ascribed to it, we in the executive branch, we in the Congress, we will live with exactly these parameters.

THE PRESIDENT: I think there would be -- I think it would make perfect sense for us to make the public option available to federal employees, as well. But keep in mind it would just be a choice.

MR. SMERCONISH: Understood. Let me keep moving, if I may. Tracy listens on WXNT News Talk 1430 in Indianapolis. Tracy, your question for the President.

Q Mr. President, thanks for taking my call.


Q Hi. Until I heard you say that a private option is just a sliver of your health care proposal recently, I think myself and many Americans thought that pretty much was your proposal.


Q So my question is, could you please quickly list five or six bullet points of what legislation must include for you to be willing to sign it? For instance, employer mandates, tort reform, illegal immigrants -- what about them? Must it include a public option?

THE PRESIDENT: I'd be happy to. First of all, you mentioned illegal immigrants. This has been an example of just pure misinformation out there. None of the bills that have been voted on in Congress, and none of the proposals coming out of the White House propose giving coverage to illegal immigrants -- none of them. That has never been on the table; nobody has discussed it. So everybody who is listening out there, when you start hearing that somehow this is all designed to provide health insurance to illegal immigrants, that is simply not true and has never been the case.

MR. SMERCONISH: What is their fate, if I might ask? Because there's a 1986 law on the book that says if you show up at an ER, you've got to be treated.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that will continue because we don't want a situation in which some child, even if they're an illegal immigrant, shows up in an emergency room with tuberculosis and nobody is giving them treatment, and then they're going back to the playground and playing next to our kids.

So I think there is a basic standard of decency where if somebody is in a death situation or a severe illness, that we're going to provide them emergency care. But nobody has talked about providing health insurance to illegal immigrants. I want to make that absolutely clear.

Now, Tracy, you had a good point about what are the bullet points that I want. Number one, it's got to be deficit-neutral. This has to be paid for, because in the past, some of the health care plans that we've put forward have not been paid for. A good example of this was the prescription drug benefit for seniors. That was a important thing to do, but we never actually figured out how to pay for it. That just went directly into the deficit and the national debt. We can't afford to do that. So that would be point number one.

Point number two, it has to bend the cost curve. What that means is that we've got to create a plan that experts credibly say will reduce health care inflation, because if all we're doing is adding more people, but we're not controlling costs, that will blow up the deficit over the long term and it will blow up the burdens on individual families and businesses. We've got to get control of our costs. We spend $6,000 more than any other advanced country per person on health care. That's number two.

Number three, we've got to have the insurance reforms I talked about for people who already have health insurance. And that means making sure you can get health insurance even if you've got a preexisting condition; making sure that you're not burdened by lifetime caps; making sure that insurance companies can't drop you just because you get sick or because you're older or because you're not as healthy -- so making sure that there are basic insurance protections, that's very important.

Number four is I want to make sure that we have a health exchange, as I just described, that is similar to what members of Congress have where you will have a set of options. If you're a small business, if you're an individual, self-employed, you have trouble getting health insurance right now, you can go and look at a bunch of options. And we've got to make it affordable for middle-class families, so part of the plan has to be that if you can't afford a market-based premium, that we're giving you a little bit of help and you're able to get health insurance.

Choice, competition, reducing costs -- those are the things that I want to see accomplished in this health reform bill.

MR. SMERCONISH: Where, Mr. President, does personal responsibility factor into all this? There was a front-page story in USA Today recently that talked about obesity being the single most significant factor -- I mean, you're a fit guy. How about rewarding those who get on a StairMaster every day?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the interesting thing is you're already starting to see this happen among a lot of private companies. Safeway, for example, is a company that has done a great job in helping encourage its employees to get fit, and they actually give them an incentive. They say, look, you're going to save X amount on your insurance premiums; you'll see that in your paycheck if you are taking steps to take care of yourself. And I think that creating incentives like that for prevention, for wellness, creating cash incentives for people where it shows up they're saving money on their health insurance because of it, I think that's something that should be part of this.

MR. SMERCONISH: Mr. President, Joe listens to me at Home Base, which is the Big Talker 1210 in Philadelphia.

Joseph, go ahead for the President of the United States.

Q Thank you for taking my call, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Hey, Joe, how are you?

Q Oh, I'm scared out of my mind talking to you here. (Laughter.) I'm a supporter, worked hard for you last year.

THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate you.

Q I'm getting a little ticked off that it feels like the knees are buckling a little bit. You have an overwhelming majority in both the House and the Senate, and you own the whole shooting match. And I'm just not getting -- it's very frustrating to watch you try and compromise with a lot of these people who aren't willing to compromise with you.

MR. SMERCONISH: Are your knees buckling? That's his question.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, I guarantee you, Joe, we are going to get health care reform done. And I know that there are a lot of people out there who have been hand-wringing, and folks in the press are following every little twist and turn of the legislative process. You know, passing a big bill like this is always messy. FDR was called a socialist when he passed Social Security. JFK and Lyndon Johnson, they were both accused of a government takeover of health care when they passed Medicare. This is the process that we go through -- because, understandably, the American people have a long tradition of being suspicious of government, until the government actually does something that helps them, and then they don't want anybody messing with whatever gets set up.

And I'm confident we're going to get it done, and as far as negotiations with Republicans, my attitude has always been let's see if we can get this done with some consensus. I would love to have more Republicans engaged and involved in this process. I think early on a decision was made by the Republican leadership that said, look, let's not give them a victory and maybe we can have a replay of 1993-94 when Clinton came in; he failed on health care and then we won in the midterm elections and we got the majority. And I think there's some folks who are taking a page out of that playbook.

But this shouldn't be a political issue. This is a issue for the American people. There are a bunch of Republicans out there who have been working very constructively. One of them, Olympia Snowe in Maine, she's been dedicated on this. Chuck Grassley, Mike Enzi, others -- they've been meeting in the Senate Finance Committee. I want to give them a chance to work through these processes.

And we're happy to make sensible compromises. What we're not willing to do is give up on the core principle that Americans who don't have health insurance should get it; that Americans who do have health insurance should get a better deal from insurance companies and have consumer protections. We've got to reduce health care inflation so that everybody can keep the health care that they have. That's going to be my priorities, and I think we can get it done.

MR. SMERCONISH: A bit off message. Today the Scots released the Lockerbie bomber due to -- actually maybe it is health care-related. He's got terminal cancer. Your take on this. A lot of folks very offended over a perceived lack of justice.

THE PRESIDENT: We have been in contact with the Scottish government, indicating that we objected to this. And we thought it was a mistake. We're now in contact with the Libyan government, and want to make sure that if in fact this transfer has taken place, that he's not welcomed back in some way, but instead should be under house arrest. We've also obviously been in contact with the families of the Pan Am victims, and indicated to them that we don't think this was appropriate.

MR. SMERCONISH: Mr. President, in each of our prior three conversations, I spoke with you extensively about the need for closure, and we agreed relative to bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri. And as a matter of fact, and this is well documented -- I've written and spoken about it extensively -- things that you said during the course of the campaign played a critical role in my personal decision-making pertaining to the 2008 election. So I feel I'd be derelict in my duty if I didn't come here today and say, where are we? I know we had a major victory recently with the number-one individual for the Taliban in those tribal regions. But pertaining to bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, where is it?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, here's where we're at. We are continuing to ramp up the pressure in Afghanistan. And we had a -- what appears to be a successful election in Afghanistan despite the Taliban's effort to disrupt it. You've got General McChrystal now over there and more troops who are putting pressure on the eastern and southern portions of Afghanistan.

On the other hand, you've got the Pakistani army for the first time actually fighting in a very aggressive way, and that's how we took out Baitullah Mehsud --


THE PRESIDENT: -- the top Taliban leader in Pakistan, who was also one of bin Laden's key allies. So the goal here is essentially to have a pincher where we are squeezing them on both sides, we're eliminating their allies, it's making it more difficult for them to communicate, making it more difficult for them to operate safe havens, and over time what we hope to do is to flush them out. We are going to keep on putting pressure on them, and I know that it's at great cost. I have to sign letters to family members who have fallen and a lot more are falling in Afghanistan than in Iraq. And as a consequence, we've got to make sure that we are really focused on finishing the job in Afghanistan, but it's going to take some time.

MR. SMERCONISH: Mr. President, Susan listens to WOR News Radio 710 in New York City. Susan, go ahead for the President of the United States.

Q Yes, thank you very much, Mr. President, for talking to us directly about this important issue.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Susan.

Q We all want reform. I guess it's really a matter of what the best solution is. And a lot of us feel that the federal government is just not equipped for or it's their role to be getting involved in delivering health care services. And we're very concerned that most of the money will actually go -- instead of taking care of people, it will go to, you know, the cost of administering a huge government bureaucracy. Why not do something more like giving incentives to the states? Like here in New York we already have free health care for people who can't afford it. And, you know, it should only be for people who can't afford it, not for the 20- and 30-somethings that choose to spend their money on SUVs and the latest electronic gadgets. And it's not free because we all know that we're going to be paying for it, and it should be only for the people who can't really afford it. And we want to have our own health care decisions locally, and we don't want the federal government making those decisions for us.

MR. SMERCONISH: Is there a state solution here, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, first of all, Susan, I think that it's important to understand that part of the health reform proposal that we've put forward would involve the states. The states in some cases would be empowered to expand Medicaid to cover more people, the same way that they've been able to cover more children under the Children's Health Insurance Program. So a sizable portion of the people who are currently uninsured would in fact be getting their insurance through the states. That's how the current Medicaid program is able to allow states to cover more people.

Keep in mind that nobody is talking about the government administering all of health care. What we're talking about here is a public option that people could sign up for, but in that situation they'd have to operate like any private insurer. They'd have to be collecting premiums and so forth.

The track record for government administering health care actually is surprisingly good. Medicare, for example, a government program, has much lower administrative costs than private insurers do. Now, part of it is, is because they don't have -- either somebody is qualified or they're not, and so signing them up is a lot more automatic.

But that points to one of the big problems that we have. In private insurance, huge amounts of insurance companies are spending a lot of money and a lot of effort and a lot of staff just trying to cherry pick people who are healthy, and sign them up, and then eliminate people who are sick. And part of what we want to do here is just reform the system so that insurance companies are operating more fairly to all people.

If you're young, actually, it's easier to get health insurance these days. The really tough population are folks who are from 50 to 64. Maybe they just got laid off. Maybe they're self-employed. They have a whale of a time trying to buy health insurance, and we want to make sure that there is a market for them.

Last point that I would make is that -- you mention the fact that a lot of young people opt out. One of the things that we would do under reform is to say, if you want, you can stay on your health insurance or your parents' health insurance up to the age of 26. That would cover a lot of young people who they fall in that gap. Their first job doesn't necessarily offer them insurance. It gives them a way of having coverage until they get that job that has a little bit more security.

MR. SMERCONISH: You're needed across town. I appreciate very much the privilege of coming to the White House. Mr. President, thank you so much for being on the Michael Smerconish program.

THE PRESIDENT: Mike, it's always a pleasure. And I want to thank all your listeners. Terrific questions. There's a great dialogue that takes place on this show, and I just hope that we can continue that dialogue in the same spirit to solve some of America's big problems.

MR. SMERCONISH: Thank you, sir. I'll be back in just a moment from the White House.

END 1:31 P.M. EDT

The President's Interview with Michael Smerconish (Aug. 20, 2009) (VIDEO)

Michael Smerconish is a Conservative Talk Show host from Pennsylvania. I say Conservative, but in reality he's like Andrew Sullivan, an Obamacan; completely disenchanted with the GOP and will at least give the President a hearing.

Well, he was live in the White House to interview the Boss today.

So far, available in naught but clips and pieces, so I'll provide what clips and pieces I can scrounge. If I can find the whole thing, I'll update this posting.

Are his knees "buckling" on Health Care Reform:

Illegal Immigrants:

Government Overreach:


And of course, National Treasure II: Book of Secrets:

MSNBC: Ed Schultz forgets that his way is not the only way...

As much as I love Ed Schultz, I have to wonder...does he listen to anyone but himself??

Ed really, really embarrassed himself yesterday. I think the T.V. has gone to his head.

He's also forgetting, he's not better at Politics than Barack Obama (aka, the first guy in history who figured out how to get an African-American elected President of the United States.)

That being said, I don't want to condemn him or other blockheaded Liberals too much, because frankly, we need the push from the Left to strengthen the Democrats hand in negotiations. When Grassely comes back in September and shows us the town halls, we show 'em Ed and folks like him.

But that's all he is, pushback. He's not the lead negotiator, and when he forgets that, we get segments like this.

Stay tuned throughout the whole segment (its a little long), because its Ed's meltdown with Jonathan Alter that really takes the cake.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

From the mouths of Conservatives (something positive for once...)

Granted, this particular Conservative (Conor Clarke) a sub for Andrew Sullivan while he's on vacation.

Granted, Sullivan is a dedicated Obama supporter, even though he's a conservative, and--

--can we not ruin the moment?? Please.

Lyndon LaRouche, Hitler and the Health-Care Debate
from Daily Dish by Conor Clarke

That clip of Barney Frank mocking a townhall protester who compared proposed health-care reforms to Nazism has been making the rounds on the Internet. Now, via Dave Weigel, it looks like the woman is a Lyndon LaRouche cult member, or at least a sympathizer. The relevance of this fact eludes me. But John McCormack of the Weekly Standard, tagteaming with Michelle Malkin, says this is evidence that some of the vilest town hall protesters are Democrats, not conservatives: "No one disputes that LaRouchites are on the fringe -- but it's indisputable that they are fringe Democrats."

Well, no. It's actually quite disputable. LaRouche (whom I interviewed and profiled for the New Republic a few years ago, and who really doesn't like me) has never been recognized by the Democratic Party, which won't let him seat delegates at its conventions and has cited his "explicitly racist and anti-Semitic” views as a reason for the ban.

I confess I don't know the political registration of the young woman in question, and I have neither the means nor the inclination to find out. But I think it's disingenuous for McCormack to refer to "Lyndon LaRouche Democrats" when the Democratic Party has done everything in its legal power to keep LaRouche and his wacky cult at pole's length.

But really, who cares either way? My sense is that when most people call attention to town hall protestors behaving like Nazis ("Heil Hitler") or calling Obama a Nazi ("Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?"), they aren't trying to make the point that all Republicans are Nazis, or think Obama is a Nazi. I'm sure 99% of the townhall attendees are good and decent and honest people. But the remaining 1%, wherever they come from, are doing something extraordinarily ugly and harmful to the public discourse on health care.

National Faith Community Call To Action call with the President

It may be a little...churchy, for some; but their hearts are certainly in the right place, and since this blog is committed to putting up everything (mediawise) I can find with the President.

And let me add, that when they say interfaith, they mean interfaith. Jews and Muslims are in this organization as well.

Click on the Play (the triangle) Icon to play the call. I'm listening to it as I type this, so it's going to take a while to get to the President. Anything else will get the contributions page (which isn't a bad thing, but I felt it best to warn you).

Find yourself ignored by the Unions when you need them the most...

Blue Dogs who don't support the Public Option will find themselves very lonely on Election Day.

Bear in mind, this is not an idle threat. For Democrats, Unions are like the Moral Majority or other Christian Conservative Organziations. They're ready-made, just-add-water campaign organizations. In a close race, they're all the difference between going back to Congress, or heading to Kinko's to touch up your resume.

This may not make too much of a difference in the south (hell, those guys wear Union busting like it was a badge of honor), but in the Midwest, Pennsylvania, California, the Rust Belt, or any State Barack Obama won in 2008, if you don't have Union Support, don't bother runnin'. Period.

The following individuals, could find themselves ignored by the Unions when you need them the most...

Baron Hill (IN-09), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Policy. Voted for Bush Tax Cuts. Signed the infamous July 9th Letter. Worried about him.
Altmire, Jason (PA-04)
Arcuri, Mike (NY-24)
Baca, Joe (CA-43)
Boswell, Leonard (IA-03)
Cardoza, Dennis (CA-18)
Carney, Christopher (PA-10)
Costa, Jim (CA-20)
Dahlkemper, Kathy (PA-03)
Donnelly, Joe (IN-02)
Ellsworth, Brad (IN-08)
Harman, Jane (CA-36)
Holden, Tim (PA-17)
Kratovil, Jr., Frank (MD-01)
Michaud, Mike (ME-02)
Murphy, Patrick (PA-08) ** - Leading the Congressional Charge to overturn DADT. Not really worried about him.
Peterson, Collin (MN-07)
Sanchez, Loretta (CA-47) **- She's okay. She has publicly endorsed a Public Plan.
Schiff, Adam (CA-29) **- My Congressman, for the record. Despite his blue dog status, I'm also not woried a. He's fully committed to a Public Option, and didn't sign the letter.
Space, Zack (OH-18)
Thompson, Mike (CA-01)
Wilson, Charles (OH-06) ** - No, he's not that Charlie Wilson, that guy is retired, and from Texas.

Also, let me point out that the Unions, unlike a lot of my fellow progressives are pointing the finger at the real enemy, alledged Democrats who don't have our collective backs.

Hoffa: Blue Dogs 'making a big mistake' on healthcare

Centrist Blue Dog Democrats are "making a big mistake" by not backing President Obama's healthcare reforms, Teamsters President James P. Hoffa threatened Wednesday.

"They're a whole new phenomenon," Hoffa said of the centrist Democrats who have been reluctant to back a healthcare bill containing certain taxes and a public (or "government-run") option for consumers.

"A lot of these people we supported, and I think they're making a big mistake by not supporting the president," Hoffa added during an appearance on the liberal Bill Press radio show.

Hoffa's words come after the likely incoming president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, told the Huffington Post that his union may sit out campaigns in which lawmakers broke from the organization.

The Hill: Bobby Rush's Niece a possible domestic...

Just because in my last posting about it, I wanted to set the record straight that this may not be what it appeared to me at first (another example of someone threatening Congressmen and their families over Health Care). The Hill provided a few more details, but not much more past what we had this morning.

Rep. Rush's niece victim of alleged arson
By Christina Wilkie
Posted: 08/19/09 04:57 PM [ET]

A car belonging to Rep. Bobby Rush's (D-Ill.) niece was doused with an accelerant and set on fire in Lansing, Ill., on Tuesday.

According to NBC's Chicago affiliate, 28-year-old Kaneisha Leira, the daughter of Rush's brother Marlon Rush, had just gotten into her Lexus sedan when "a man with a match" approached the car and threw it at the vehicle.

The driver, unaware that accelerant had already been poured around the car, did not exit the vehicle quickly enough, and suffered minor burns.

Police arrived to discover a Lexus engulfed in flames. They also found aluminum cans of accelerant around the vehicle.

Leira refused to go to the hospital and was treated on site. A neighbor observed Leira leaving the scene in a police vehicle.

A source told The Hill that it appeared to be a "domestic" incident unrelated to the congressman, but police are still investigating.

Stop the friggin' insanity already...

Your modern conservative, ladies and gentlemen.

Apparently the wingnut love affair with Israel goes only as far as getting Israelis killed in the race to the Rapture.

When an Israeli wants to talk about health care, it's right back to "Heil Hitler."

"Conservatives" endorse Hitler over health care. The depravity is staggering.

And if that's not enough for you, check out what this dumbass is wearing.

That's an Israel Defense Forces t-shirt, folks.

Now, why does an American wingnut wear an IDF t-shirt to a health care event? To prove wingnut bona fides, of course. But... first thing out of her mouth when she meets a real Israeli? "Heil Hitler!"

A Jew disagrees with her. The mask comes off.

NBC: Gee, should this count as a threat?

Of course, I am being sarcastic. This is getting deadly serious.

Car Belonging to Congressman's Niece Torched

Bobby Rush's niece treated for minor burns

A car belonging to the niece of Rep. Bobby Rush was torched Tuesday morning in Lansing, Ill.

Authorities said an accelerant was found around the Lexus, which was parked outside the Britany Lane home of the Democrat's brother, Marlan Rush.

"We get there (and) the owner of the vehicle was there. She had minor burns. She was treated on-scene and she refused to go to the hospital," said Sgt. Scott Bailey with the Lansing Police Department.

Investigators said they're still trying to piece together what happened and have not made any arrests.

A Rush spokesman said the congressman has yet to receive details from the family or investigators and had no further comment.

Good times...gooood times...

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) shows 'em how its done...

UPDATE (11:59pm Pacific): And in the world of Cluster Fox, who was the rude one here? Barney Frank, of course.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

'Onion' Editor Calls HuffPo Headline 'Wildly Sensational'

For once, I'm not alone...

Niall Ferguson doubles down on racism...

Niall Ferguson, the originator of the recent Obama rant that what "pretty much sums up the 44th president of the United States is that, like Felix the Cat, he is not only black but very, very lucky."

But oh my goodness, he's doubling down on it:

Basically, Ferguson's response to the original criticism was to write a snippy blog post, and then email Henry Louis Gates to confirm that Felix the Cat was not African American, and, thus, that Ferguson is not a racist. Swell. Emailing Gates for help is really a whisker's length away from an explicit "but I have black friends!" argument, but let's put that aside for a moment. Ferguson's response has also done an impressive job of missing the point.

The problem with Ferguson's original analogy was not that it's "racist." And, certainly, the "race" of Felix the Cat (if we want to meditate over the profoundly dumb question of whether cats have a "race" to begin with) was never really of great interest. If we cut the cat out of the equation, Ferguson is saying: "What pretty much sums up the president of the United States is that he is black and lucky." This is not so much racist as stupid.

Black and lucky: Does that strike you as a fair and informative characterization of the president? Do you think the defining characteristic of the Obama presidency has, so far, been a combination of luck and blackness? My vague feeling is that some other stuff might have happened in the past six months, too. But Niall Ferguson, a professor at Harvard and a columnist for the Financial Times, continues to believe that it's "pretty much" all about being black and lucky.

TPM: Maybe the Secret Service will get involved now.

"Chris B" the Terrorist splashed across CNN and MSNBC yesterday who was packin' with the AR-15 at the Obama rally may have ties...believe it or an actual Terrorist.

From the Unions...a warning...

The great Liberal pushback is on.

"We'll look at every one of their votes," [Richard Trumka, the secretary-treasurer and likely next president of the AFL-CIO] said after his speech at the Netroots Nation convention. "If they're against the Employee Free Choice Act, if they're against health care for that reason, I think it'll be tough for them to get support from working people."

"We'll oppose it," Trumka said, when asked about any bill that ends the tax exemption for employer coverage. "It's actually a stupid concept because if you tax those that have it to pay for those that don't, eventually those that have [benefits] won't. Then who do you ultimately tax?"

Alter: Health Care as a Civil Right

Jonathan Alter writes the same article I did, the same article Paul Begala did, the same article Franklin Schaffer did...

...but those other guys are a little more widely read than I am, so props.

Health Care as a Civil Right
Obama needs to reframe the debate.

By Jonathan Alter | NEWSWEEK

Published Aug 15, 2009

From the magazine issue dated Aug 31, 2009

The United States has two parties now—the Obama Party and the Fox Party. The Obama Party is larger, but it is unfocused and its troops are whiny. The Fox Party, which shows up en masse to harass politicians, is noisy and practiced in the art of simplistic obstruction. As the health-care debate rages, it's the Party of Sort-of-Maybe-Yes versus the Party of Hell No! The Yessers are more lackadaisical because they've forgotten the stakes—they've forgotten that this is the most important civil-rights bill in a generation, though it is rarely framed that way.

The main reason that the bill isn't sold as civil rights is that most Americans don't believe there's a "right" to health care. They see their rights as inalienable, and thus free, which health care isn't. Serious illness is an abstraction (thankfully) for younger Americans. It's something that happens to someone else, and if that someone else is older than 65, we know that Medicare will take care of it. Polls show that the 87 percent of Americans who have health insurance aren't much interested in giving any new rights and entitlements to "them"—the uninsured.

But how about if you or someone you know loses a job and the them becomes "us"? The recession, which is thought to be harming the cause of reform, could be aiding it if the story were told with the proper sense of drama and fright. Since all versions of the pending bill ban discrimination by insurance companies against people with preexisting conditions, that provision isn't controversial. Which means it gets little attention. Which means that the deep moral wrong that passage of this bill would remedy is somehow missing from the debate.

Sure, it's important to fight for a public option (or a souped-up cooperative that can be made nearly as good). And we need to stand against a secret deal with Big Pharma, tighten insurance regulation, and assure that the bill includes language establishing clearly that doctors and patients—not bureaucrats, who are no better than insurers—make medical decisions. But these worthy goals have overshadowed the moral principle of nondiscrimination. The well-meaning woman who left a message at my office saying that she wouldn't demonstrate in support of any bill without a public option has lost her perspective.

The same goes for those who focus on cost ahead of principle. Whether we can "bend the cost curve" in five years or 10 years is fundamentally unknowable. Washington's elite policy mandarins obsess over "out-year" projections that never prove accurate. We must "pay" for the bill with new revenue streams, but let's not pretend that any of the real costs (and incentivized cost savings) are discernible now. Look at "cash for clunkers." The money that Congress set aside for a year lasted less than a week. The short-term projections were off by 99 percent. Any bill this big will be full of unintended consequences and will have to be fixed. The only way the system can't be fixed is if the bill dies and no one tries reform again for many years.

History suggests that major social policy unfolds on a continuum. The Social Security Act of 1935 disappointed liberal New Dealers because what was called "old-age insurance" covered only about half the adult population. It excluded farmhands, domestics, employees of small businesses, and most blacks. That was because FDR needed the votes of Southern Democrats, the Blue Dogs of their day. (The bill cleared the House Ways and Means Committee with only one Republican vote.) Similarly, the Civil Rights Act of 1957, immortalized in Robert Caro's Master of the Senate, was weak tea. It had to be strengthened by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the later bills, Lyndon Johnson betrayed Southerners he had made deals with in 1957. If Nancy Pelosi can't break Rahm Emanuel's promise to Big Pharma's Billy Tauzin this year, she can try to break it in the future. And Tauzin will lobby for more favors as the all-important new regulations are issued. Nothing in Washington is ever set in stone.

The only thing that should be unbreakable in a piece of legislation is the principle behind it. In the case of Social Security, it was the security and peace of mind that came with the knowledge of a guaranteed old-age benefit. (Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush got slam-dunked when they tried to mess with that.) In the civil-rights bills, the principle was no discrimination on the basis of an unavoidable, preexisting "condition" like race.

The core principle behind health-care reform is—or should be—a combination of Social Security insurance and civil rights. Passage would end the shameful era in our nation's history when we discriminated against people for no other reason than that they were sick. A decade from now, we will look back in wonder that we once lived in a country where half of all personal bankruptcies were caused by illness, where Americans lacked the basic security of knowing that if they lost their jobs they wouldn't have to sell the house to pay for the medical treatments to keep them alive. We'll look back in wonder—that is, if we pass the bill.

Alter, a national-affairs columnist, is the author of The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days And The Triumph Of Hope.

Find this article at

© 2009

TPM: "We will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote."

"We will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote."

Last I checked that's called Democracy.

We won. You lost. Deal.

Oh, you have a gun. Well that makes all the difference. I'll change my position right now...

Why isn't this sack of @#$% in jail? This has nothing to do with Arizona's conceal laws, or the guns he's carrying. He's advocating for the armed overthrow of the lawfully elected United States Government.

And no, I'm not linking to their video. I'm not helping them get any more hits. If you want to see the video so bad, go to TPM.

And just because this Terrorist (let's call him what he is) is black doesn't mean that it this isn't about race. It still is. He may think he's giving this Domestic Terrorist organization racial cover, but these guys didn't feel the need to bring out their gats when the last few white guys were in charge at the Oval Office.

This is about a few Terrorist Douchebags responding to the worst stereotypes of African-American men, and resorting to threats of violence when they don't get their political way.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Obama's speech before the VFW

At least a portion. The rest can be found here.

TPM: to explain this to me??

Twelve people carry guns (including one AR-15) to an Obama event outside Phoenix.

UPDATE: 4:40pm Pacific August 18th: The YouTube video I had posed has been since taken down.

Do Progressives understand Governing, or was that all stuff being better than the Republicans at doing it from 2008 Campaign just bull#$%#???

I don’t like Max Baucus.

I don’t trust Max Baucus.

But my fellow Progressives, the rest of you are driving me friggin' crazy today.

The Republicans are the ones who are supposed to suck at Governance. Not us.

But listening to the debate today…you have to wonder.

But there’s a reason why why we lost the Single Payer and/or maybe the Public Option. (At least that one's obvious, there weren't the votes.)

There’s a reason why bi-partisianship is a matter of Governance as opposed to Politics, which a lot of y’all seem to think it is.

Now, my understanding is that the reason Max Baucus has as much power in the Health Care Debate, is that Health Care/Health Insurance Reform falls under the purview of the Senate Finance Committee, and not the Senate HELP Committee (believe it or not).

Yes, I know its called Health Care Reform, and the HELP Committee actually has the word “Health” in its title, but because this reform involves such a reworking of the Economy, it belongs to Senate Finance.

As much work as HELP has done, their bill really comes in as a suggestion. HELP will be a part of any merging fo the bills, but the real work, thus the real bill, will have to come out of Senate Finance.

I wish this wasn’t true. I got this from an actual expert, Lawrence O’Donnell, who…when he wasn’t writing for the West Wing, acting on Big Love, or subbing for Chris Matthews or Ed Schultz, was the Chief of Staff for the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

In some respects, the Senate Finance Chair is more powerful (again…believe it or not) than the Senate Majority Leader since virtually all legislation has to pass through that Committee before it sees the floor. (Then again, Laurence may just have a thing for his old home team, because Harry Reid still controls the calendar, what gets to the floor after Committee, and what doesn’t.)

Now, the choice of having the Gang of Six rework Health Care Reform into a state of near worthlessness is bad, don't get me wrong. It's also a matter of governance, rather than politics, despite what you may have read or heard.

First off, scumbag Republican Senator Michael B. Enzi...happens to be a member of both Senate Finance and is the ranking member of Senate HELP. This at least explains his presence in the so-called Gang of Six talks.

Now, a lot of my fellow Liberals are fond of saying “just ram Health Care Reform through reconciliation”, but the problem with doing that is a little thing called the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (I've heard it called the Byrd Rule, but he's been around so long, there are quite a number of Byrd Amendments out there, so...)

In short, the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 restricts any bill going through reconciliation strictly to budgetary matters only.

Thus, before our dream Health Care Bill hits the floor for a vote, it will pass into the hands of the unelected, non-partisan (but highly, highly trained) Parliamentarian of the Senate, who will…without hesitation or prejudice cut out anything from the bill that doesn’t have to do with the budget, as per the Byrd rule.

Significant parts of Health Care Reform, good and ill alike, will be cut out, and instead of passing a watered down bill (as we now face) we will face the prospect of an ineffectual Swiss Cheese bill, which in a lot of cases won’t do what we need it to do, and in some cases won’t even make any sense.

I get where it may, in the end, be a good idea to do this. I also get where this is a valuable tool to threaten Republicans with...

...but don't go fooling yourself into believing that we won't incur serious losses (reformwise) if we resort to budget reconciliation.

Added to that, there's will be a sunset clause in anything coming out of reconciliation, a time limit. Much like Bush’s Tax Cuts for the Rich, Health Care Reform will wind up EXPIRING, and in ten years or so, we’ll have to start this crap all over again.

This is why Obama and Senate Democrats are very interested in a “bi-partisan bill”. Older than dirt Senate Tradition, 5-7 squishy Democrats, a solid block of Republican "NO!" have made this a necessity.

It has nothing to do with him being a wimp. It has nothing to do with him being too generous. These are the rules of the Senate, however idiotic they may be. These are rules that we have used against Republicans in the past, and when we're in the minority again in the future, we're going to want to see our Senators use them again.

As much as I loathe the Senate (in that they're a club, and they get too wrapped up in what the club needs, as opposed to what Country needs) at times, this is why they're the saucer than cools the drink, or whatever the hell that old saying is. This where the House is the passion and the emotion of the people, the Senate is supposed to be a calming influence. This is why House members are forced to turn to their public every two years, and the Senate gets a more reflective six. The six years is supposed to make them a little more immune to the passions of the people, and thus allegedly more statesman like.

Say what you will about being statesmen or not, they certainly have been immune to our demands.

This also how some of the more insane things that Bush and Rove wanted to do, even they couldn't do; because in the Senate you have to deal with the minority party.

I remain pissed off about losing Public Option. But it was the rules of the Senate that did us in way more than anything else.

Though Kent Conrad, his wuss-ass self...really helped.

If Progressives are are going to crack on the Senate, they better understand why they do what they do. Just screaming at them makes you sound like Republicans.

By which I mean total, and complete idiots.

Frank Schaffer: "The right is irredeemably sick. The left is just silly."

From Frank Schaffer at the Huffington Post:

The Left Is Also Obama's Problem

Can the left learn to keep its mouth shut once in a while? Does the American left know how to win wars or just skirmishes? Does the left want change or does it demand perfection? You can't have both in this life.

No one has been a tougher critic of the Republican Party, the Religious Right and various wing nuts out to destroy the Obama presidency than me. Few ordinary Americans (that I know of) have taken more heat (and hate) for their support of the President than me either. Former right wing religious right leaders like me are never forgiven for joining the reality-based community!

Believe me, with my old "friends" on the right I don't need more enemies! (Just check out Fox News smearing of me last week with insanely out-of-context clips on the O'Reilly Factor lifted and edited from Maddow interviewing me.) So I'm hesitant to knock the left. I guess I don't like the idea of all sides pissed off with me at once. But in the light of how and why the debate over health care is being dominated by the loony right maybe the left is partly to blame for the stalemate on health care reform.

Last week the New York Times noted a lack of enthusiasm on the part of Obama's former foot soldiers when it comes to rising to the occasion and pouring on the support for health care reform. Why the lack of enthusiasm?

It's because the left has made the classic mistake of going for a whole loaf and therefore risking getting nothing. The left has proved itself as impatient as the right and just as shortsighted, given that the lefty sniping at the Obama administration started almost from day one. And now after barely six months in office the people who worked so hard to get him elected have seemingly lost their enthusiasm for another fight on behalf of Obama.

What sapped the yes-we-can optimistic, hope-filled bedrock supporters' will? Who sapped it?

There is a connection between sniping from the left -- the drip, drip, drip of criticism, the demand for instant perfection, be it from those taking shots Obama's economic policy and claiming that the President is in the hip pocket of Wall Street -- and those saying he cut some sort of evil deal with pharmaceutical companies, and the lop-sided "debate" on health care. The right didn't sap anyone's will who voted for Obama. The left shot itself in the foot.

It seems to me that Obama's critics on the left just don't understand governing. If Franklin Roosevelt had had this quality of "support" from his bedrock constituency there would have been no New Deal and we would have never entered the war to defeat fascism. In fact today's left seems to have a death wish of exercising the "right" to snarky frivolity when it's time to get serious.

The American left has a choice: follow our moderately progressive Democrat president and support him when he most needs it most, or allow our whole project to be derailed by the far (increasingly fascist) right. If it is derailed, sure -- the Republicans played a part. But so did the know-it-all left, all because the left's pontificators -- including those right here in the Huffington Post -- would rather be heard than humbly offer their support to our President (or anyone else) and see change actually happen.


It strikes me that the left suffers from a sort of crazy First Amendment knee-jerk twitch comparable the the right's sick Second Amendment twitch! The right thinks it must collect guns, the left thinks it must express opinions, and damn the real world consequences. Hey, so Obama fails! Well at least I got my say!

The right is irredeemably sick. The left is just silly. Together the silly and the sick may just do us in. If Limbaugh gets his Obama-must-fail wish, look in the mirror.

On the right the election literally broke their racist brains. This is now the day of the old angry white men once again. And how has the left responded? Did we circle the wagons and hang tough with our young black president? No everyone waded in.

The open question is this: Is the left going to be dominated by its talkers or get on with governance that can only happen with near infinite patience and loyal support? Does the left know how to follow a leader and get something done?

Q: "You mean I have to behave like a regular citizen once in a while and let the people I elect do their job?!"

A: If our self-styled free thinkers decide loyalty is beneath them and have forgotten how to compromise and live in the real world, a few election cycles from now the left is going to find itself reduced to screaming down their far right opposition at town hall meetings.

We have a great president. We have a chance for real change and we'd better use it. Sarah Palin and company are waiting in the wings.

My old friends on the far right are counting on the stupidity of right wing white America to believe their lies. They are also counting on the left being so in love with the sound of its own voice that the left can't govern.

How different things would be right now had everyone who voted for President Obama stuck by him and his administration with total determination, and waited until he had a chance to implement -- and test -- his programs, before wading in with the nit-picking.

The left faces the implacable and loony right. The chips are down. Support the President.