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March 31, 2010

U.S. Government To Save Billions By Cutting Wasteful Senator Program | The Onion

"Now more than ever, we must eliminate needless spending wherever possible," President Obama said at a press conference Wednesday. "When we sat down to go over our annual budget, we asked ourselves, where can we safely trim back? What programs can we do away with without negatively impacting the American people? Which bloated and ineffective institutions can we no longer justify having around?"

"The answer was obvious," Obama added. "The U.S. Senate just needed to go."

via www.theonion.com

March 29, 2010

Younger senators take aim at old Senate rules

But, Senator Byrd, the whole problem is exactly that the filibuster, the personal holds, etc. are not "employed judiciously" and since there is no mechanism to ensure judiciousness, we must change the rules, even at the "cost" (oh my!) of having ... majority rule.  I am for reform of the filibuster that does protect deliberation and debate, but the veto that puts a minority as the gatekeeper for all things isn't democracy it is, especially when coupled with the two-senators-per-state election system, a perverse form of tyranny of the minority.

"Extended deliberation and debate -- when employed judiciously -- protect every senator, and the interest of their constituency, and are essential to the protection of the liberties of a free people," [Senator] Byrd, who was first elected in 1958, wrote in a letter to colleagues last month.

via www.washingtonpost.com

Win on health and Barack Obama wins around the world

I've come to the view is that Obama's operative model is to in essence take seriously as a guiding principle Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s phrase, "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice."  He interested in the long game: how to bend the arc toward justice, not win symbolic victories.  He seems guided by what I love about the US Constitution: Deeply progressive goals, but being ruthlessly pragmatic in getting there -- for instance, don't count on changing human nature, but instead understand human nature and build systems based on that understanding of how we actually work, both individually and in groups.

Obama has bet that [comprehensive health care reform] is his destiny. He is extremely cautious from day to day, staggeringly flexible on tactics, but not at all modest when you look at the big picture. He still wants to rebuild the American economy from the ground up, re-regulate Wall Street, withdraw from Iraq, win in Afghanistan, get universal health insurance and achieve a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine in his first term. That’s all. And although you can see many small failures on the way, and agonising slowness as well, you can also see he hasn’t dropped his determination to achieve it all.

This is what we’ve learnt this year: Obama does not mind defeats if they are procedural or about others saving face. He’s happy to admit error; to give his opponents a chance to lunge at his jugular; to let opponents enjoy a day in the sun; to shave off any small stuff as long as the big stuff remains. He seems oddly impervious to personal insult: he doesn’t mind being affronted by the Chinese or humiliated by Netanyahu as long as it’s a matter of symbolism. On substance, he wants what he wants; and, on the big stuff, he has given up on nothing yet.

via www.timesonline.co.uk

March 25, 2010

More trouble for the repeal effort

[Republican Sen. John] Cornyn and his colleagues repeatedly said that they wanted to ban discrimination on preexisting conditions during the debate and that their argument was with all the other stuff. But all the other stuff ... flows from the ban on preexisting conditions. If you're going to change the insurance market such that the sick can't be left out, you have to make sure that the risk pool doesn't become so sick and expensive that the healthy flee. That's why you do the mandate. And if there's a mandate, there needs to be subsidies to make sure people can afford what they're being asked to buy. And then of course, we need to define what they're being asked to buy, and so you get minimum benefit regulations.

If you're going to change the insurance market, in other words, you need to change the insurance market. And as Cornyn basically admits, people want the insurance market changed.

via voices.washingtonpost.com

Tea Party: Still the Republican Right

Back on February 12, a CNN/New York Times poll ... showed the Tea Party folk to be, basically, very conservative Republicans determined to pressure the GOP to move to the right or suffer the consequences--in other words, a radicalized GOP base.

A new poll from Quinnipiac confirms that impression, and it's really getting to the point where any other intepretation of the Tea Party Movement is probably spin (e.g., among Tea Party leaders who want to maintain their leverage over Republicans by pretending to be more independent than they actually are).

via www.thedemocraticstrategist.org

March 22, 2010

Republican's Waterloo

Waterloo | FrumForum.

Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.

March 16, 2010

Lawrence Lessig: Citizens Unite

Interesting approach:

>Lawrence Lessig: Citizens Unite.

 ... an amendment that recognizes what no one has ever asserted -- that whether or not they are persons, corporations are not United States citizens. And if there is something appropriate to keeping the conversation about who is to govern us to us citizens, there may well be something appropriate in protecting elections against undue influence by non-citizens.

A simple amendment would give Congress precisely this power:

Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to restrict the power to limit, though not to ban, campaign expenditures of non-citizens of the United States during the last 60 days before an election.

March 15, 2010

I threaten you with a continuation of current trends!

I threaten you with a continuation of current trends!.
“If they jam through health care,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, then Democrats will have “poisoned the well” on other issues...

Stimulus didn't get a single Republican vote in the House. The Gang of Six didn't secure Republican votes for health-care reform. Bob Corker won't support the financial regulation plan that he admits has been fundamentally transformed to address many of his concerns. Graham himself has declared cap-and-trade dead in the Senate. If Graham doesn't think the well is already poisoned, then I dare him to take a sip from it.

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