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Obama's challenge

Mark Mardell | 19:34 UK time, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The president is throwing down the gauntlet to Republicans:

"I believe the United States Congress owes the American people a final vote on health care reform.  We have debated this issue thoroughly, not just for a year, but for decades.  Reform has already passed the House with a majority.  It has already passed the Senate with a supermajority of 60 votes.  And now it deserves the same kind of up-or-down vote that was cast on welfare reform, the Children's Health Insurance Program, COBRA health coverage for the unemployed, and both Bush tax cuts - all of which had to pass Congress with nothing more than a simple majority." 

Republicans will reject this almost instantly. One conservative website has already put together a montage of clips showing Obama saying he wouldn't govern like this.

CNN are quoting a White House insider saying this is a "last helicopter out of Saigon " strategy.

Fleeing a lost war is not the most optimistic metaphor for an adviser to adopt. And it still may go down in flames.

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  • 1. At 7:59pm on 03 Mar 2010, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    He's governing like this, because he's been forced to govern like this, or simply not govern at all. No doubt the last option is the one Republicans want him to choose, but not most Americans. Bipartisanship? A pipe dream. We want what we want and we don't care how we get it at this point. Let the Republicans try and dislodge the Democrats from the presidency once this is done. Thanks to their own flawed political strategy of sucking up to the bottom feeders, it will take them 30 years to get their house in order.

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  • 2. At 8:01pm on 03 Mar 2010, Pip wrote:

    So, have we finally reached the showdown? This healthcare debate has been like watching the world’s worst Western: lots of bickering but no one actually calling the other person out. Bring on the gunfight.

    www.governing-principles.com

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  • 3. At 8:05pm on 03 Mar 2010, Pip wrote:

    Actually, I retract that metaphor as being fundamentally unfair. Their NRA memberships would give the Republicans an unfair advantage. I defer to the comments page for a better alternative.

    www.governing-principles.com

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  • 4. At 8:09pm on 03 Mar 2010, SimonH wrote:

    Go Obama. Make this happen. Make the US a better place!!

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  • 5. At 8:12pm on 03 Mar 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    The helicopter analogy isn't a very good one, in my opinion. He is pushing back to the Republicans, and he should, win or lose. The worst thing he could do is just roll over.

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  • 6. At 8:45pm on 03 Mar 2010, PursuitOfLove wrote:

    Mark: '"Fleeing a lost war is not the most optimistic metaphor for an advisor to adopt. And it still may go down in flames."

    Forgive me, Mark, but I think you've been spending a little too much time with Republican congressmen and stratigists if you honestly feel this way.

    As Gavrielle_LaPost has already said, he is being forced to govern this way due to the Republicans childish and narcissistic opposition to any kind of reform whatsoever. If they would realize that he has reached out to them (in a good way) time and time again and incorperated nearly all of their rational ideas into his health care reform proposals only to be rebuffed; if they could see the imparative necessity of health care reform for nothing less than the prosperity of not only the American people, but the future of our country on the world stage as a competitive, civilised, compassionate, unhypocritical to the actions that we lecture other countries to pursue force to be recconed with, then they would support it and Obama wouldn't have to resort to governing this way. But their subserviant, arrogant selfishness has blinded them to this glaring flaw, and so they have chosen to take the action they have.


    And as far as reneging on promises goes, there's nothing new about that. Like reconciliation, the Republicans act as though these are some newly invented undemocratic devices designed to silence them and ride roughshod over them, when in reality, as Obama has pointed out, they themselves have done and used the exact same things many more times than the Democrats when in power. Remember Bush's promis of exhausting every diplomatic avenue before going to war with Iraq? That lasted long! And what about the fear mongering and guilt tripping used to pressure congress into oking the set-up of Guantanamo Bay? There's a word for this, it's called hypocrisy!

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  • 7. At 8:57pm on 03 Mar 2010, Philly-Mom wrote:


    Fire, meet Fuel. Burn, red-tape, burn...

    Even if 'CHANGE' doesn't happen in the very near future, many many people are crying foul. Status Quo cannot continue. Employers, Employees, Conservatives, Liberals, Blue Red and Green people all have their boxers in a wad.

    Hey! Maybe we'll have a Party Revolution! The GOP might implode, the DEMS could implode -- we could have a TeaBagger Party, a Libertarian Party, a Green Party, a Progressive Democratic No-We-Aren't-Socialists-You-Silly-Conservative-Party, a Christian-Coalition-Fundamentalist-God-Hates-Socialists-Party... Party On!

    Gosh! Maybe, in a few years, I'll have that multi-party, non-bi-polar, government I've been looking for fer years!!

    Perhaps Atlas is shrugging? I just hope he doesn't sneeze.
    [Globe-Induced-Work-Related-Medical-Issues might not be covered by his King-Of-The-Hill-Free-World-Insurance. Altas Dear - have you checked with your HR Office's Approved Workers Compensation Medical Vendors? Perhaps your Employer's Operator's Liability Insurance will be able to facilitate with your claim. Oh, you say Chronos' Worker's Comp (WC) Policy" doesn't cover Globe-Related-Upper-Respiratory-Maladies? Sorry dear. Just try to sneeze gently. Have you tried some herbal tea and a box of tissues?]

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  • 8. At 9:06pm on 03 Mar 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    The Republicans couldn't bail out the banks fast enough and never asked a question about the amount or how it would be used. The Republicans have blocked all legislative attempts to even discuss regulating the banks that stold and gambled away the retirements of millions of hard working people. The Republicans are there to protect big business and banks and to convince the unknowing that somehow the consoldiation of wealth by big business and banking is in the interest of everyone else. Hard to believe that anyone who works for a living would vote for them. How many times do the Republicans have to facilitate the rape of the middle calss before people wise up.

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  • 9. At 9:07pm on 03 Mar 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Here is a link to an interesting item on the budget reconciliation procedure, which might be used to pass a health care bill:

    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_fifty_vote_senate

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  • 10. At 9:07pm on 03 Mar 2010, USAF86 wrote:

    PursuitOfLove (#6), the Saigon reference wasn't Mark's idea, it came from a White House insider...that would mean a Democrat close to Obama.

    As for the issue itself, I think the whole concept of bipartisanship is overrated. Obama shouldn't feel compelled to make concessions in hopes that the Republicans will vote for a bill that they fundamentally oppose...just like the Republicans shouldn't feel compelled to acquiesce to something they fundamentally oppose simply for the sake of bipartisanship.

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  • 11. At 9:12pm on 03 Mar 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    Myth 1

    Obama is a uniter not a divider

    Myth 2
    Pelosi will drain the swamp

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  • 12. At 9:39pm on 03 Mar 2010, csgators wrote:

    8. At 9:06pm on 03 Mar 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:
    "The Republicans couldn't bail out the banks fast enough and never asked a question about the amount or how it would be used."

    I didn't agree with it but at least we got our money back at a profit (except for Fanny and Fredy).

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  • 13. At 9:39pm on 03 Mar 2010, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    I think President Obama will have considered scrapping the current bill and "starting over" on a true bi-partisan bill with the Republicans but would the Republicans actually enter into it and try to come up with a fix for US healthcare or would they continue to obstruct progress and hold reform up for months and years to come, giving them a weapon to beat Democrats over the head with in the coming election AND 2012 ?

    Republicans cannot allow ANY progress to be made under a Democratic President, they need to make government look inept so that they, the party of "small government" can run on the theme of them being the only logical choice.

    President Obama has been forced to choose between leaving a terrible system continue untouched or changing what he can, knowing that things could have been done better

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  • 14. At 10:34pm on 03 Mar 2010, _marko wrote:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/opinion/my_constituents_care_way_more

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  • 15. At 10:43pm on 03 Mar 2010, Paul wrote:

    I think it is interesting that when Obama pushes through legislation like this he is subverting democracy, but when Bush did it with the totally fiscally irresponsible tax cuts he was standing up to the inefficacy of Congress.

    However, I think the BBC's coverage here is missing a trick that most American commentators have been noting for the last year. This is not a reaction by Obama to some kind of national rejection of the Healthcare plan evident when he lost his filibuster power. The Red-State Democrats in the Senate would be difficult to muster behind a filibuster anyway, so they were always going to need Collins and Snowe et. al. and if they can't get them, then this is clearly the route to take. But this is really not about the loss of the filibuster - it was always going to happen.

    If commentators thought that Obama was going to pass healthcare standing in a circle with McCain and Hatch holding hands then they were more naive than the general public. It's a big policy decision and it was always going to take political will, and it was always going to stake Obama's re-election hopes on the line. I still believe it will happen, but that doesn't mean it was ever going to be pretty.

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  • 16. At 10:50pm on 03 Mar 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    Not for the first time, there are aspects of US congressional procedure that leave me baffled.

    It would be one thing if reform were being blocked by a majority in the representation-by-population chamber. That is where fundamental democratic legitimacy resides in a democracy.

    But it isn't even the rep-by-pop chamber, it is the upper house, i.e., the house of the regions, and it isn't a majority, it's a distinct minority.

    But here, the President's party has what in any other Parliamentary democracy would be a substantial working majority - 59 to 41, and yet he can't advance his legislative agenda?

    What's going on?

    Just exactly what proportion of the population, in total, come from states represented by these 41 Senators?

    There seems to be a bit of a democratic deficit here.

    It is beyond me why everyone assumes that the President's party is going to be in trouble in the upcoming mid-term elections. Why wouldn't a dog-in-the-manger obstuctive minority have hell to pay for their behaviour in November? Why aren't these guys afraid to show their faces in public?

    Aren't Americans fundamentally in favour of one man, one vote?
    Don't they find this behaviour offensive to democracy?

    No, I have a lifetime of experience with the US, and I think I know America pretty well, but this aspect of it has me baffled.

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  • 17. At 10:51pm on 03 Mar 2010, Enrique Delgado wrote:

    "Republicans will rejected this almost instantly." has a grammatical error. It should be "Republicans will reject this almost instantly."

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  • 18. At 10:56pm on 03 Mar 2010, vagueofgodalming wrote:

    Obama: "if they truly believe that less regulation would lead to higher quality, more affordable health insurance, then they should vote against the proposal I’ve put forward."

    Or, as the last president to address a bunch of crazies out to destroy America put it: "Bring it on".

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  • 19. At 11:19pm on 03 Mar 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    The problem for President Obama is not the anticipated Republican opposition, but Democratic defections that imperil the passage of legislation and, consequently, damage his credibility.

    The only way out of this mess is to use reconciliation as much as possible and follow the example set by the GOP when they were in power and hold unaanounced votes in the middle of the night. A Bush-style emergency resolution would not hurt either...it did wonders for Bush's budget and since very few people worry about our unfunded liabilities who cares? It worked for W.

    Whateveer he does, he has to get healthcare off the table ASAP and focus on the economy and reducing unemployment or the Democrats are going to be in deeper trouble in November than they already are.



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  • 20. At 11:24pm on 03 Mar 2010, David Moore wrote:

    We need health care COST reform. This bill DOES NOT address the run away cost issue.

    This bill, if passed, will bankrupt this country. Our current social welfare programs are going broke.

    Our representatives in Washington DC do not have the intestinal fortitude to tell the citizens the truth. We must reform our current social welfare programs. That means cutting benefits. If we cannot get the current programs under financial control we should absolutely NOT be adding another one.

    The represenatives in Washington who are standing in the way of this legislation are supported by a huge number of the citizens.

    Many people who voted for the current democrates in office did so because they were angry with the way the republicans were carelessly spending money. They are now greatly regretting that "retaliation" vote.

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  • 21. At 00:47am on 04 Mar 2010, csgators wrote:

    20. At 11:24pm on 03 Mar 2010, David Moore wrote:

    "Many people who voted for the current democrates in office did so because they were angry with the way the republicans were carelessly spending money. They are now greatly regretting that "retaliation" vote."

    This is a key point that the people telling Obama to use the nuclear option seem to miss. The left acts as if anti-spending is something new when it's what made Bush so unpopular.

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  • 22. At 00:53am on 04 Mar 2010, McJakome wrote:

    16. At 10:50pm on 03 Mar 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:
    “Not for the first time, there are aspects of US congressional procedure that leave me baffled… There seems to be a bit of a democratic deficit here.”
    Hitler was freely and democratically elected, so was Napoleon III before making himself emperor. The founding fathers wanted to prevent the excesses of popular democracy [they must have had a great crystal ball or translation of Nostradamus] and provide for a cooling off period in a cooling off chamber.
    If it acts to prevent loss of democracy then it is democratic, as a built in corrective. Besides Americans tend to believe that, “That government governs best which governs least!” Our whole government apparatus was designed to prevent too much government and thus protect the liberties of the American people.
    Deadlock is preferable to bad law and bad government. It is frustrating sometimes, though, admittedly.

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  • 23. At 01:05am on 04 Mar 2010, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    20. At 11:24pm on 03 Mar 2010, David Moore wrote:

    This bill, if passed, will bankrupt this country.

    No, that's going to be the commercial real estate bubble that's about to burst. You think we have problems now? Wait until 2011 when half the malls and strip malls stand empty and everyone employed in and by those stores no longer has a job - not even part time.

    There's a reason the cost of social welfare programs has soared - because 25 million people are out of work or under employed and need help. Before this mess it was only 18% of budget, now its 36%. Say, "Thank you, Wall Street and bank deregulation."

    Instead of cutting their benefits, why don't you do the kindly thing and cut their throats instead? Because that's what you are talking about. Or haven't you seen grandma in the store buying cat food for cats she doesn't have, because that's the only MEAT she can afford?

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  • 24. At 01:09am on 04 Mar 2010, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    For anyone who hasn't yet seen it, here's what Republicans really think of their "base": RNC document mocks donors, plays on 'fear'

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  • 25. At 01:26am on 04 Mar 2010, dogoneit wrote:

    A couple of things: First as to the cost & affordability of healthcare reform. $1 trillion/10 yrs seems close to $100 billion/yr. Between the Reagan and Bush tax cuts about $1 trillion/yr has been spent in giving tax cuts to already rich people; we could take a little back. We are also spending as much on Defense as the rest of the world added together. Maybe we could cut back to only 80% of the rest of the world's spending; that would be enough to fund the bill. This flawed bill is only a first step, but we must begin somewhere. Medicare for everyone would solve our cost problems by eliminating about a half trillion dollars/yr in administrative cost, but the lobbyists are too strong to permit that yet.
    Second, I understand the bafflement of interestedforeigner at these senatorial delay tactics. I was born here in 1956 and I'm a little bit baffled. You need to understand that in the States, protection of the rights of indiviguals and of (at least some) minorities has tradionally been viewed as more important than allowing the tyranny of a majority. So the fillibuster was looked on as a check to the trampling of minorities, particularly in the Senate where a minority of Senators may represent a great number of people. As long as the Senate was a collegial institution this worked fairly well.(You should see the eulogy then Democratic Senator Biden gave for conservative Strom Thurmond at Thurmond's request. They were friends.) There were fillbusters or the threat of them once a year or so. Now we have a hundred times as many. This is not in the Constitution. It is a Senate rule and can be changed by majority vote at the begining of a new Congress.

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  • 26. At 01:47am on 04 Mar 2010, adonnelly wrote:

    This country is probably going to go bankrupt anyway.

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  • 27. At 02:12am on 04 Mar 2010, chronophobe wrote:

    re: 21 csgators and the "nuclear option." In spite of what Hannity might say, this is not the 'nuclear option.' The term refers to Bill Frist's threat to change the Senate rules by having Cheney make a ruling that filibusters against judicial nominees were unconstitutional. To approve Cheney's ruling would have only required 51 votes. The threat of making such changes caused some blue dogs to blink, and the nuclear option was never invoked.

    Reconciliation is a well used procedure. You may recall that when there was a Republican President, Republican legislators were ardent in their belief that, out of respect for the office of the President, the right and responsible thing for Congress to do was a take a straight up-or-down vote on the President's priority legislation.

    Not surprisingly, perhaps, now there's a Democrat in the White House, Republicans are completely opposed to the strategy they once vowed was the right and true thing to do.

    So there are a lot of ganders and gooses getting a taste of each others' sauce here. I happen to think, at this point, that Obama actually believed he could put forth a compromise proposal that would be acceptable to enough blue dogs and, God knows, perhaps even moderate Republicans, to pass without resorting to this sort of manoeuvre. I also think it was worth a shot, for the good of your country.

    But I'm not a political cynic. Or maybe I'm a hopeful cynic (which would make me an oxymoron, I guess!) In any event, the compromise route didn't pan out, and this is the logical next step.

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  • 28. At 02:19am on 04 Mar 2010, Via-Media wrote:

    16 IF

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. Even 20 years ago a majority was a majority in the U.S. Congress, and now just the threat of not having 60 votes in the Senate is enough to derail any proposed legislation. And I blame the Dems almost as much as the Republicans. We expect the Republicans to act like this- frankly I'd be shocked if they didn't, given their recent history. But Dems have meekly laid down the clear, strong majority the last election handed them, acted as if it doesn't matter, and cowered before the Republican filibuster threat. It's almost as if the Dems are still behaving as the party of the minority. I just don't get it.

    Perhaps- oh, please, let it be so- the President is starting to realize that his erstwhile allies in Congress and especially the Congressional "leadership" are more hindrances than help, and he's going to have to do much of the heavy pulling himself.

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  • 29. At 02:20am on 04 Mar 2010, Victor Hugo wrote:

    I don't know who is more at fault, the Dems or the GOP.
    The GOP sees out of control spending and a gigantic federal takeover of a huge and growing part of our economy. They fear arbitrary control over basic and specialized health care over which they will have no control. Standards of care will become fiscal issues in a bickering congress; when times are lean, health care will be cut, when times are flush, every wacky elective treatment will end up being covered.
    With no effort to simplify or reduce the waste in health care spending, conservatives see more taxes, more expensive health care, with no recourse when the "death panels" decide granny or spouse or child isn't entitled to a new heart or liver or cornea, because he/she has lifestyle or gender or cultural or age disqualifications.
    The Dems feel health care is a right for everyone. Whatever the cost. They see poor people dying from lack of comprehensive care and want it to stop. How it's paid for is secondary.
    I would be happy for a safety net to exist so that no one goes to bed with untreated pneumonia, or diabetes, or whooping cough.
    Neither side seems to be smart enough to find a way to it. We provide emergency care to everyone at ridiculous cost. But waste and abuse/fraud is rampant, perhaps half of all hospital and specialty care. Defensive medicine prevails.
    Unnecessary tests, drugs, treatments, and doctor visits drown the system with a million paper cuts, and no rigorous safeguards exist. But the dems are blind to this part of the formula.
    Obama preached bipartisanship but practiced machine politics. He was supposed to be able to bring consensus, but only made things worse. As a result, he will squander the only real chance to set up a workable system we'll see for many years.
    If nothing passes we lose; if ObamaCare passes we lose.

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  • 30. At 02:31am on 04 Mar 2010, tpapp157 wrote:

    When the Republicans decided that they wanted to dig in their heels and oppose reform on (political) principle this route was almost guaranteed to come around sooner or later. The Republicans had made such a big deal out of opposing healthcare reform for any reason that they backed themselves into a corner where they couldn't compromise even if they wanted to. So now they've locked themselves out of having any say in the matter whatsoever. It's their loss.

    Healthcare reform has become so toxic that the best thing that can happen for everyone (Republicans and Democrats both) at this point is that the bill gets passed quickly and isn't spoken of again. Why do you think the Republicans have only put up token resistance for the past few months? They haven't been shouting anywhere near as loudly as they were back in the summer. They've realized that they've played their entire hand and come up short and the more noise they make now will only reflect more poorly on them. So they're letting the bill get passed relatively quietly with only nominal resistance.

    Of course we all know that in twenty years people will look back and wonder why we didn't do this sort of thing sooner much like how people today view Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid as absolutely essential. Republicans fought tooth and nail against those at the time and now they're the programs' biggest supporters.

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  • 31. At 02:35am on 04 Mar 2010, crash wrote:

    You can spot the liberal cry baby blogs by the line after line waffling on this god awful health care that is trying to be rammed down our throats by left, to try an make us more uniform with the eu.
    The last thing this country needs is more worthless bureaucrats flushing our money down the john.

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  • 32. At 02:35am on 04 Mar 2010, Via-Media wrote:

    27 chronophobe

    There is so much screaming going on now it is hard to get an honest appraisal of true public opinion. Polls are being spun and constructed with deliberately misleading questions, the true believers are being told a slanted view of things that only makes factionalism and anger worse, politicians are pandering to the worst elements of the parties...

    Makes me want to leave sometimes, and I'm a dyed-in-the-wool lover of my country. I'd ask if there was room up yonder, but my beloved is intent on moving in the diametrically opposed direction, so...

    I just want to know why the mainstream media isn't calling the Republican and Tea Party on their lies, distortions, and deliberate obstructionism. Bunning's threats and delays were only the tip- what about the rest of the caucus voting as one, repeatedly, to obstruct legislation until overridden, then voting in favor of the same bills? Voting no on every single proposal the administration proposes? Where are the investigative reporters to ask the questions? Instead, we have a 24 hour news cycle with paid talking heads commenting and blathering and speculating endlessly, and missing entirely the big picture.

    And where are the Dems to draw deliberate and focused attention to these childish acts of un-patriotism? These issues of Republican shenanigans are simple enough to make an endless supply of biting sound bytes... why don't they turn Al Franken loose?

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  • 33. At 02:39am on 04 Mar 2010, jimjoy wrote:

    Our founders wanted a small Federal Government and they made it intentionally difficult to do anything without massive legislative pain. Interestedforeigner, the point of the Senate is to slow things down. As for one man one vote, the Senate is designed to equalize the power of states thus allowing the minority to nullify the majority if they choose. The ultimate roadblock, I will also argue, should be that the Constitution does not grant health care as a right and therefore a right cannot be created by a mere passage of a bill; to grant a new right the Constitution must be amended.

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  • 34. At 02:42am on 04 Mar 2010, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mark:

    I am glad, that the President fully throwing down the gauntet against the Republicans' and others are AGAINST the entire idea of reforming the health care system in the United States.

    (D)

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  • 35. At 02:46am on 04 Mar 2010, crash wrote:

    One other point worth mentioning in case anyone has not noticed we are in a recession how are they going to pay for this as unemployment continues to climb?I am not an economist but does tax revenue not go down when millions are collecting unemployment.

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  • 36. At 03:11am on 04 Mar 2010, Lennie B wrote:

    How often is it the case that politicians put their own political interests before the interests of those they serve? Here is a shining example of a politician motivated to do what is right regardless of the political consequences. He is prepared to fight for healthcare insurance for some 30 million Americans, in the face of widespread opposition, because it is the just and right thing to do for those he serves. Healthcare is surely a basic human right in the 21st century and I can only applaud the President for striving to achieve his goal and not giving up. How brave.

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  • 37. At 03:55am on 04 Mar 2010, johnzebut wrote:

    JMM wrote:

    16. At 10:50pm on 03 Mar 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:
    “Not for the first time, there are aspects of US congressional procedure that leave me baffled… There seems to be a bit of a democratic deficit here.”
    Hitler was freely and democratically elected, so was Napoleon III before making himself emperor. The founding fathers wanted to prevent the excesses of popular democracy [they must have had a great crystal ball or translation of Nostradamus] and provide for a cooling off period in a cooling off chamber.
    If it acts to prevent loss of democracy then it is democratic, as a built in corrective. Besides Americans tend to believe that, “That government governs best which governs least!” Our whole government apparatus was designed to prevent too much government and thus protect the liberties of the American people.
    Deadlock is preferable to bad law and bad government. It is frustrating sometimes, though, admittedly.

    I'm not sure about small government protecting the liberties of the American people. The Constitution was framed by the elite of the time, was it not? And I think i'm right in saying that the extension of liberty to slaves was dropped at the insistence of colonies that were dependent on slave labour. Noble experiment that it was, doesn't keeping government small ensure that the wealthy (wealth obtained largely by gift from the Crown, stealing land from Native Americans, and ignoring the Navigation Act) enshrine the ill-gotten gains of these thieves? America remains a nation divided because it was not a nation created on an equal footing. Had the country been made along the lines suggested by Thomas Paine's pamphlet "Common Sense" (a significant contribution to revolutionary thinking) wouldn't the U.S. have been the first Western socialist state? And this class division is what frames the current impasse in American health care reform. Sad.

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  • 38. At 04:10am on 04 Mar 2010, Barbara wrote:

    "Republicans will reject this almost instantly"

    Mark, you missed the whole point of this particular speech. At this point it doesn't MATTER what the Republicans say or do or think. You need to get in the heads of these obstructionists. For a whole year, all the Republicans did was try and derail Obama's policy initiatives.

    This speech was directed towards the Democratic caucus in the House and Senate. Its a rallying cry, a battle cry. Its a "you better come back with a victory or fall on your sword trying" kind of deal. Its akin to going into battle ready, willing, and able - not retreating in a panic via a helicopter.

    The two scenarios are total opposites. Its curious you chose CNN's Saigon analogy, and not another more rational perspective. Is losing your perspective on this Healthcare debate? If so, why?

    Curious analogy indeed.


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  • 39. At 04:23am on 04 Mar 2010, csgators wrote:

    27. At 02:12am on 04 Mar 2010, chronophobe wrote:
    " re: 21 csgators and the "nuclear option." In spite of what Hannity might say, this is not the 'nuclear option.' The term refers to Bill Frist's threat to change the Senate rules by having Cheney make a ruling that filibusters against judicial nominees were unconstitutional."

    It will seem nuclear enough when the Republicans use it when they regain control, it's only a matter of time. Maybe they can do the exact same thing to repeal it as soon as they get a 51 majoraty and the White House, something the Dems never seem to remember when they change the rules.

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  • 40. At 04:34am on 04 Mar 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    37 JZB

    I haven't replied because JMM's comment is simply wrong.

    The comments about Hitler and Napoleon are unhelpful, if not entirely misleading. There is no comparison to be made between Weimar Germany or revolutionary France and America, either then or now.

    The "sober second thought" function of an upper chamber is found in the House of Lords and the Canadian Senate. But both long ago lost their ability to overrule the rep-by-pop House of Commons.

    This "sober second thought" concept is a function characteristic of an entrenched aristocracy grudgingly yielding its ancient rights in the face of the reality of a modern industrial state. The hypothesis that the founders of the American union were attempting to entrench the historic rights of an aristocracy is one that I don't think would stand up to much scrutiny.

    I don't have Gary or Andy's knowledge of US law or history, but at the basic conceptual level the reason the states were given equal representation in the Senate was because the smaller states were afraid of being overmatched by the likes of Virginia, New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania if everything were run on a rep-by-pop basis.

    We have some of the same issues, where small, relatively poor provinces used to cluster together under the wing of the federal government to avoid being eaten by the large, powerful provinces.

    But I don't believe anyone ever envisioned that not only would this prevent pure rep-by-pop, but that a double effect would occur: non-democratic power based on balancing the regions coupled with an ability of the minority in the non-democratic chamber then being able to exercise a veto - not merely over its own workings, but also effectively over the Rep-by-pop chamber. When you couple that with America's inability to do anything about campaign finance reform, and an unwillingness to face up to the pernicious effect redistricting as it is now practiced in most states, small wonder the government is sclerotic.

    Fairly certain that this is not what the founders envisioned, but others here know the story better than I do.

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  • 41. At 04:35am on 04 Mar 2010, Handeman420 wrote:

    By now even a 6th grader will understand what is GOP real strategy?Since OBAMA elected President GOP was trying to figure out have to destroy him, We all remember BIRTH certificate,RACE attacks,SOCIALIST,MAOIST,and it came HEALTH CARE issue which give them a cause to fight against regardless is good or bad for the country. Under nit all of these real purpose is reroute the thinks which happened at their watch.Such as a WAR based on LIES,None paid TAX CUT for the rich,Huge DEFICIT,9/11 (could it be prevented?}and FINANCIAL PEARL HARBOR which shock the WORLD, so far seem like they been successful most part,Thanks to DEMOCRATS inaction and stupidity.One thing GOP truthfully talking about is have DEMOCRATS can not agreed among self, and is working, DEMOCRATS can not see it and PUBLIC PATIENTE is run out and start turning anger, eventually both party will paid the price next election and their after.

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  • 42. At 04:39am on 04 Mar 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Obama fiddled while America burned. Obama diddled with health care insurance, peace between Israel an the Palestinians, trying to talk to Iran and North Korea, global warming, nuclear disarmament. America doesn't care about that junk right now. Americans want the economy fixed and they want it fixed now. They also want to know why hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars have literally been given away to failed banks and the bank execs who bankrupted them are getting bonuses in the millions while their own life savings and jobs are evaporating before their very eyes. Well Mr. President, what do you have to say about it? Not the last helicopter out of Saigon, the sinking of the Titanic. But then look at who the captain piloting the ship is. He assigned all of the critical jobs to the players in the band. He'll be lucky to finish out his one term if he isn't impeached first.

    Many Americans are very angry and disappointed at President Obama. Others like me are disappointed but not surprised, we just shake our heads and say "we told you so."

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  • 43. At 05:30am on 04 Mar 2010, tpapp157 wrote:

    42.
    "America doesn't care about that junk right now. Americans want the economy fixed and they want it fixed now. They also want to know why hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars have literally been given away to failed banks and the bank execs who bankrupted them are getting bonuses in the millions while their own life savings and jobs are evaporating before their very eyes."

    Maybe if Republicans didn't threaten to filibuster every single jobs bill (with one from the last few days coming to mind). Maybe if Republicans hadn't been fighting tooth and nail against the Bank regulation reforms that Obama introduced a month or two ago. Maybe then you would see the economy recovering a little better and the banks wouldn't be handing out their huge bonuses. Maybe, just maybe it isn't completely Obama's fault and all those other people that play an important role in running the government (yes, including the ones that you voted for and support) have their share of the blame as well.

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  • 44. At 05:57am on 04 Mar 2010, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    37. At 03:55am on 04 Mar 2010, johnzebut wrote:

    "I'm not sure about small government protecting the liberties of the American people. The Constitution was framed by the elite of the time, was it not? And I think i'm right in saying that the extension of liberty to slaves was dropped at the insistence of colonies that were dependent on slave labour. Noble experiment that it was, doesn't keeping government small ensure that the wealthy (wealth obtained largely by gift from the Crown, stealing land from Native Americans, and ignoring the Navigation Act) enshrine the ill-gotten gains of these thieves? America remains a nation divided because it was not a nation created on an equal footing. Had the country been made along the lines suggested by Thomas Paine's pamphlet "Common Sense" (a significant contribution to revolutionary thinking) wouldn't the U.S. have been the first Western socialist state? And this class division is what frames the current impasse in American health care reform. Sad.
    "_________________________________

    I may have clipped the name of the actual author...but

    Paine was definitely ahead of his time, and accelerated his distance from his time as his career careened.

    'Liberty' meant something quite different in the 18th century, and its meaning varied considerably from colony to colony and class to class in the colonies. The modern notion of popular democracy didn't become a political reality until Jackson's time. When the constitution was being written, 'gentlemen' still distinguished themselves from 'tradesmen' - and all the founders were considered gentlemen, at least by their professions, education, personal bearing, and general wealth. John Adams was often excluded from better society because, although he was brilliant and put himself on the cutting edge of the revolution, he was the son of a common farmer and his law practice was not profitable. Hamilton, the most brilliant of the lot, was nothing without Washington's sponsorship because he was the illegitimate son of a woman of low repute. Washington gained as much from his marriage to the widow of the wealthiest man in Virginia, as he did from his ability.

    It would be difficult to say what these men and women would think of us.

    In my opinion, America, like any other society on earth no matter its principles or organization, is a nation divided because people in every generation have different levels of ability and ambition. Those who can, do. Those who cannot must endure. (rough quote from Thucydides, applicable across 2400 years of Western civilization.) Socialism, even communism has never put a dent in this principle. Not even in Maoist China; Soviet Russia supplied the most perfect demonstration - the oligarchs who have ruled that nation for a millennium are still there today.

    The founders believed firmly in this principle, the right of ability to prosper - they deplored rule by the uneducated, propertyless masses, and set up a government that protected the opportunities of the propertied class, north and south.

    As in Tom Payne's time, anachronistic ideologies are poor help in understanding the past. The miracle is that their constitution has continued to expand popular liberties across more than two turbulent centuries. One hundred years ago leaders appeared in America who weakened the threat that the laboring classes would slip back into serfdom or worse, by checking the power of corporate America. Can it happen one more time?

    KScurmudgeon
    historically sympathetic

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  • 45. At 05:58am on 04 Mar 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    It is the height of absurdity for a party that has a majority in the House, until recently had a supermajority in the Senate, and control of the White House to call the party out of power who could not stop them no matter what "obstructionists." That the Democrats couldn't get their act together is the real reason nothing got done. The Democrats say their party is one big tent. Well all of the elephants were on the outside, only the donkeys were on the inside. All they seemed to do this last year was bray. That is what they are doing now. Americans are getting sick and tired of it. When will the President get down to the real business of bringing the economy on Main Street back to life. When will he get rid of his Chicago cronies and get some people in who know what they are doing. His nepotism is so blatent that his entourage couldn't even keep a gate crasher from getting into a White House function and meeting the President. What if it had been an assassin?

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  • 46. At 06:32am on 04 Mar 2010, Erik Anderson wrote:

    Didn't the protracted lawsuits of Al Franken give the Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate? How did the Republicans obstruct that filibuster proof majority in the House and the Senate? SimonH, "Make the US a better place!!" I read that to mean, whether the people want it or not. What makes that different than a dictatorship?

    Interestedforeigner, in the beginning of the US, the Senators were appointed by the state legislatures and not by popular vote. The 17th amendment changed it to the way it is now. Originally, the senators were intended to be politically astute statesmen who would represent state interests. The house of representatives was meant to be more like the house of commons. It was changed due to the civil war, and some now, like Zell Miller, feel it empowers special interests and federal power and should be repealed.

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  • 47. At 06:35am on 04 Mar 2010, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    Your Divine Majesty,

    If the Democrats had been of one mind, your first sentence might have held water. As it is, your premise is laughable. Your second sentence refutes the first, with the weight of truth.

    Your third through seventh sentences describe the Republicans of 2009 more effectively than they do the Democrats, or at least equally well. After their humiliation in 2008 all the minority could do was bray, trumpet, and stomp about.

    The eighth sentence is the issue, but how do you propose it be done? Big business and particularly the bankers seem to have little interest in extending credit to even deserving businesses so the economy can get going - they are making money the easy way now: they cannot shake their addiction to speculation which produces nothing for the nation and profit only for themselves.

    Finally, your last two sentences are cheap irrelevant insults that have not a thing to do with your argument, and reveal that your intent is no more helpful than to sling mud at the opposition. You have done better, Augustus.

    your friendly 'Smudge

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  • 48. At 06:47am on 04 Mar 2010, BienvenueEnLouisiana wrote:

    40, IF, and others:

    I can see why you are baffled with the system the US Congress uses, but I think part of that confusion is a result of comparing systems with very different origins and trying to reconcile perceived anti-democratic or aristocratic tendencies. Politically, it is difficult to explain, but I will attempt to do so.

    First, the upper houses of Europe are often compared to the US Senate, but they are really very different institutions. The US Senate is not our version of a House of Lords and it never was. As you already mentioned, its very existence was a result of compromise intended to protect the representation of the physically smaller states; however, it was also intended to slow the pace the legislative process and, not to placate Knighted Lords, but to lengthen the debate and determine the budget.

    The US Senate may very well have looked like a house dedicated to giving representation to the aristocracy given that initially Senators were appointed by state governors, but keep in mind that the US never had anything close to a European style aristocracy, and these governors were all directly elected; it was really more an exercise in Federalism.

    Today's Senate is more democratic in that Senators are directly elected. Here, Europeans and others who are more familiar with modern Parliamentary systems continue to be baffled for good reason; they often view bi-cameral systems in general as antiquated because they see it as an unnecessary homage to the old aristocracy in modern unitary systems.

    Given that the US never had a lord aristocracy to given such representation to, the thought never crossed the minds of the Founders. Thus, the arguments for the Bi-cameral Congress were over what was the better way to represent the people of the US within congress.

    Earlier I mentioned the compromise that resulted in the US's bi-cameral system was an exercise in federalism. This is important to note because it is a key reason for the confusion of non-Americans who are use to thinking of government as a singular unitary institution. It is essential to remember that the US Constitution provides for a Federal government with limited powers that, in order to have legitimacy, is required to balance its responsibility to states with higher populations with its responsibility to treat all 50 states as equal entities within the republic.

    There-in lays the basis for the confusion - a fundamental difference in the physical and social organization between the US and Europe, both historically and today.

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  • 49. At 08:58am on 04 Mar 2010, David Murrell wrote:

    Regarding Napoleon I of France, can I point out that A he was not elected he was part of a coup and B he was never President of France he was the First Consol (out of three, the instigator of the coup thought he would get to be in charge, but Boney out manoeuvred him and ensured he got the job). Other than those two points entirely relevant to a discussion about why a constitution would want to limit the power of elected officials.

    Not entirely relevant to the current discussion (but more so than historical figures like Napoleon), though it does concern American hospitals and claims against the US military. Apparently the paediatricians and parents of Fulluja are blaming the types of weapons used in the American assault there for a huge increase in birth defects, about 2 a day. According to the locals the rubble after the battle was dumped in the river, which happens to the local drinking water source. While the local hospital, supplied by the Americans refused to comment, paediatricians in the hospital and local parents were more forthcoming.

    Now this might need to be taken with a pinch of salt, some people in Fulluja have never been happy with their American ‘liberation’, however, the BBC reporter went to a house where all three children had defects and a father who heard the journalist was there brought his daughter, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. According to the local officials this would mean the journalist had met more than the 2-3 extra birth defects Fulluja suffers a year.

    I know it’s the horrible socialist-liberal BBC reporting this, but I am unsure what if any reporting this is getting in the US

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  • 50. At 09:04am on 04 Mar 2010, David Murrell wrote:

    BienvenueEnLouisiana – I hate to point this out, but they don’t have a House of Lords in France or Germany, since they are both republics. I am not even sure if the have a House of Lords in the Netherlands or Sweden. Also the House of Lords was never designed to placate knights, knights are not lords – knights are gentry, lords are nobility.

    The British system is pretty peculiar in Europe and not the standard two house system used.

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  • 51. At 09:04am on 04 Mar 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    48. At 06:47am on 04 Mar 2010, BienvenueEnLouisiana wrote:

    "There-in lays the basis for the confusion - a fundamental difference in the physical and social organization between the US and Europe, both historically and today."

    Don't think so. What you've got at the moment is a two party system in which one party is in government with an elected majority on both houses and the other is not. And it is busily opposing (in Britain, it was Disraeli's phrase, I think, that established the axiom "the job of Her Majesty's Opposition is to oppose) while at the same time the governing party, instead of countering the opposition, is busily opposing itself as well.

    Thus, confusion, deadlock and mystifyingly obscure and clumsy legislation that ends up, usually, fixing nothing and satisfying no-one. (I've long given up trying to understand what exactly this 'health bill' is actually supposed to do for anybody now, except maybe force up to 46 million people pay even more for insurance than what most of them couldn't afford to pay before. In 2012, or 2014 or 2018 or something.)

    The history of a political system is just that--history.

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  • 52. At 09:36am on 04 Mar 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    Obama came very close in a speech yesterday to getting it but reached the wrong conclusion. He said the american people should be able to get any healthcare including the one congress get as we pay their salaries.

    We also pay for their healthcare. So let them get the minimum healthcare paid by us(they make enough they should not get tax payer paid) than if they want more let them pay out of their own pockets.

    Patiently waiting for the charlie Rangel perp walk

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  • 53. At 09:48am on 04 Mar 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    49. David Murrell:

    In later reports from John Simpson this morning, there has been much worse than that; a baby with three heads, with one eye, a 'spinal deformity I had to ask our cameraman not to film".

    And, from a US military medical spokesman the now commonplace PR weasel evasion: "I am not aware of any official reports of birth deformities in Fallujeh. . ."

    (This btw was the first time I'd heard of the widespread use of white phosphorous by the US in that attack. So what else has the US been using we didn't know about? Another 'Agent Orange'? Thalidomide bombs?)

    I suppose this is just something else the Afghans (and no doubt the population of the Tribal Territories of Pakistan) have to look forward to. But it's all grist to the American comfort mill: "You see, they end up with only one eye, or three heads, one arm, or six toes. . .just goes to show they're not like us."

    I'd like to imagine there'd be a Congressional inquiry set up immediately, but somehow I think their time will be expected to be better spent on an urgent exhaustive hearing about five reports of slack gear sticks on some Japanese cars in Wyoming complete with tearful stories of how God miraculously intervened to avert disaster.

    I could be wrong, of course.

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  • 54. At 11:10am on 04 Mar 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    The real challene for President Obama is to persuade supporters of healthcare reform to call their elected officials and let their opinion known.

    Contrary to popular opinion, I believe our senators and congressmen are doing their jobs and are reacting to the feedback they have been getting from their constituents, and since most of the feedback has been against reform they are acting accordingly.

    If it becomes clear that most Americans oppose healthcare reform, and reject it the same way we did every time it was attempted by previous administrations, this issue should become an object lesson for future administrations to consider.

    If, on the other hand, there is widespread support for reform people better let their opinion known very soon or this latest attempt to correct our inefficient and ineffective healthcare system would have been an exercise in futility.

    BTW, the reason this bill has not passed is not because of Republican opposition, which was to be expected, but because of Democratic defections.

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  • 55. At 11:25am on 04 Mar 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 23, Gavrielle

    "No, that's going to be the commercial real estate bubble that's about to burst."

    I agree, although I believe it will also include single family homes. The city where I live in Florida is full of empty commercial real estate, with nobody buying or leasing and the number of vacant locales increasing.

    Incredibly, a new housing development (400 single family homes, a private golf course, and country club) is being built next to where I live, even though houses have been sitting waiting for a buyer for over a year!

    Is this plain stupidity or is someone running a Ponzi scheme and making a lot of money? One thing is certain, when this house of cards falls apart again we, the taxpayers, will be the ones holding the bag.

    New regulation is needed ASAP before we take another hit.

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  • 56. At 11:43am on 04 Mar 2010, David Murrell wrote:

    Squirrel – The use of WP is quite wide spread, most militaries use WP rounds either as incendiary and/or smoke rounds. Despite being chemical based they are not regarded under Protocol II as chemical weapons, since WP is not that poisonous and is not used to poison people. Many countries have signed up to Protocol III, though not America or Israel*, which limits its use especially in civilian areas (such as a city). The US military training manuals have a contradictory attitude to their use in civilian/urban areas, one states that there are no legal issues another says that there are.

    The use of WP in Fullujah by the US military did draw some criticism, particularly from countries that have signed up to Protocol III and resulted in the US contradicting itself, initially it was claimed the rounds were not used against personnel but within days the General in charge stated that they had been and were effective driving insurgents out of fortified positions and ‘spider holes’.

    In an Italian documentary Fullujah: The Massacre, it was claimed evidence of civilian deaths (including women and children) from the use of WP rounds. There has been criticism of that documentary since then and these findings are questioned. Interestingly a UK journalist who dismissed the photographic evidence did suggest that other chemical weapons were used, though he never actually provided to support this suggestion.

    Interestingly the use of WP rounds by Saddam’s forces was one of the things he was condemned for by the US in the massacre of the Kurds, though I am not sure if these formed part of the evidence used against him in the resulting trials.

    I am not sure that the use of WP would, however, be an explanation for the alleged increase in birth defects, as I stated earlier the use of WP is wide spread and it was used rather extensively in Vietnam, where it has not been associated with the later rash of birth defects.

    * These were the only two countries specifically named as non-signatories that I have located, though there are others.

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  • 57. At 11:45am on 04 Mar 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    A "reconcilliation"?

    "Bring it on!" Mr. Uniter!



    P.S. With US$ not exactly at its strongest I sure as hell am glad that we have not joined Euro Zone. With its PIGS and Club-Med.

    [you know, the folks who tell us (U.S.) how to run our country?]

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  • 58. At 11:56am on 04 Mar 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #44 "Those who can, do. Those who cannot must endure. (rough quote from Thucydides, applicable across 2400 years of Western civilization.) Socialism, even communism has never put a dent in this principle. Not even in Maoist China; Soviet Russia supplied the most perfect demonstration - the oligarchs who have ruled that nation for a millennium are still there today."





    Interestingly, YUKOS is now suing Putin's regime for BILLIONS in the international court. And has a pretty strong case.

    BTW. Khodorkovsky, who refused to play ball, is about to be sentenced for the 3rd time (15 years this time potentially), while Abramovich (who financed Putin's re-election campaign almost single-handedly) is free, alive and well and lives in UK. In style. To put it mildly. ;-)

    [yes, some animals are more equal...etc.]

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  • 59. At 11:59am on 04 Mar 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 54

    The third word in the first paragraph should read challenge.

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  • 60. At 12:00pm on 04 Mar 2010, Schwerpunkt wrote:

    53. squirrelist wrote:

    "So what else has the US been using we didn't know about? Another 'Agent Orange'? Thalidomide bombs?)"

    The US doesn't need to have been using anything exotic. If the Iraqi authorities bulldozed debris from buildings into a water source then any contaminants used in the construction of those buildings will have polluted the source. Materials such as asbestos, which even though still used require careful handling when being installed or removed, were not carefully sifted out I bet.

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  • 61. At 12:08pm on 04 Mar 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #55

    Been to Spain quite recently.[well, actually to Catalunya. :)]

    Hectars and hectars of empty apartment houses,nay, whole, rather upscale, complexes. In allegedly attractive, touristy coastal areas.

    Who said it: "build it and they will come"?

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  • 62. At 12:27pm on 04 Mar 2010, hms_shannon wrote:

    Just to add to David Murrell & Squirrelist account on Fallujeh.

    Buildings that were destroyed in the fighting ended up being bulldozed in to the river,were the woman folk draw water.The rubble was contaminated with depleted uranium from the ordinance used. Two to three children are diagnosed with catastrophic birth defects daily. The founding father, Benjamin Franklin, was so right when he said; "There never is a good war or a bad peace."
    Who is responsible for this tragedy? No doubt this hot potato will land on the lap of some middle-ranking artillery officer for using the wrong ammo, whilst "Mission-accomplished" - Bush and "Me too!Me too!" Blair, will get off scot-free even though they have blood on their hands.

    The old English proverb fits:

    "Pity the poor girl who stole the goose,
    Who for her crime, gets the noose.
    Not so the rich man, where justice is foreign.
    Who left the goose and stole the common."

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  • 63. At 12:37pm on 04 Mar 2010, arclightt wrote:

    My comment yesterday was pulled by the moderators for having a failed link to the latest audit by the GAO. Since the link got pulled, I will only say that GAO warned the Congress yet again that the financial trajectory of the country is unsustainable due to existing entitlements, much less any new health care expenditures.
    @23 (GLP): "There's a reason the cost of social welfare programs has soared - because 25 million people are out of work or under employed and need help. Before this mess it was only 18% of budget, now its 36%. Say, "Thank you, Wall Street and bank deregulation.""
    Gavrielle, unfortunately the GAO points directly at Social Security and Medicare as the primary drivers, and neither of those are immediately accessible to the unemployed. This is not to say that the loss of jobs isn't a significant problem in and of itself; just to point out that the cost of social welfare isn't directly related (at least for now).
    @47 (KsC): "Big business and particularly the bankers seem to have little interest in extending credit to even deserving businesses so the economy can get going - they are making money the easy way now: they cannot shake their addiction to speculation which produces nothing for the nation and profit only for themselves."
    The past 12 months reminds me very much of the first two years of Clinton. He entered office with an enormous opportunity to do some real good for the country, and instead got sidetracked and lost his opportunity. As much as I would personally benefit from changes to health care (remember the nephews), focusing on the economy was absolutely and inarguably Jobs 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
    When Obama came into office he could have focused his efforts on dealing with the non-lending banks, and the financial bombs of credit-default swaps ($Trillions worth) still waiting to go off, and the tangled up mess that is the residential housing market mortgages (and, Gavrielle, the commercial real-estate bombs that are going to go off in the next 12-18 months, as you say). It would have been un-glamorous work, but at the end of the year he would have had some real progress to show for his efforts, and the American people would have understood that his administration was focused on the things that are really, really important to them. He could have continued to build greater majorities in Congress through the 2010 elections. That would have given him the political capital to begin obtaining support for a change to healthcare.
    Instead he, like Clinton, sailed off on a crusade early in the game, and now is stuck far from home without the resources (especially the good will) to either finish the crusade or go back and do the basic things well. It seems to me that his inexperience helped set the stage for this, but the primary blame seems to me to belong to Biden, Pelosi, and Reid. They should have been advising him to build broad support FIRST.
    Too late now. Reconciliation is probably his only option, and as has been pointed out, that has its own huge costs. I can think of no better way to bring the opposition to white heat and keep them there. For certain, this is going to be a very interesting election year. It unfortunately may look to the historians much like 1968 did, with similar long-term effects on the psyche of the population, and on its faith in its institutions and in each other. I lived through 1968; I'll live through this one as well. I imagine I'll enjoy this year even less than that one, if that's possible.
    Meanwhile, the GAO reminds us that the nation is preparing to default on its debt, by doing nothing about it. I imagine that living through that will be a unique experience, to say the least.
    @27 (CP): "I happen to think, at this point, that Obama actually believed he could put forth a compromise proposal that would be acceptable to enough blue dogs and, God knows, perhaps even moderate Republicans, to pass without resorting to this sort of manoeuvre. I also think it was worth a shot, for the good of your country."
    I happen to agree with you. I honestly believe that Obama is at least trying to make this unwieldy system work, if for no other reason than that he doesn't want to be a one-term President. I think it's failing primarily because he didn't deal with the economy first, as numerous folks have already written. People who are already in fear are much less willing to take a leap of faith, which is what any significant change in health care is going to be.
    I also think that part of our difficulty is the absolute ignorance on the part of most Americans about how our financial system works. This causes them to make bad financial decisions personally, and leaves them open to being demagogued publicly by hucksters of all different persuasions. I'm no expert by any means, but as ignorant as I am even I can smell too many dead fish in this debate and too many others.
    Regards to all this sunny morning from the Beltway!
    Arclight

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  • 64. At 12:48pm on 04 Mar 2010, arclightt wrote:

    @54 (StD): "Contrary to popular opinion, I believe our senators and congressmen are doing their jobs and are reacting to the feedback they have been getting from their constituents, and since most of the feedback has been against reform they are acting accordingly.

    If it becomes clear that most Americans oppose healthcare reform, and reject it the same way we did every time it was attempted by previous administrations, this issue should become an object lesson for future administrations to consider."

    Very wise words, Dominick, but I'd point out that civil rights was a 100-year process, and it took a long time to build the support needed to move down that road. It may not be "time to railroad" yet (the obscure point is that there was nothing special about railroads, but the needs, desires, technologies, etc., all had to align to make them possible).

    A bigger problem is that since about 1993 we have been engaged in perpetual campaigns, rather than serious governing. Our political types are as addicted to that behavior as the financial types are to speculation, and both are destructive. We can eventually regulate the financial types; who's going to regulate the political class?

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  • 65. At 1:08pm on 04 Mar 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    One aspect of the healthcare reform debate that, I believe, has not been discussed is the probability that if it is adopted using the congressional reconciliation process, with a majority of a couple of votes, it will almost certainly be repealed in 2012.

    In fact, if healthcare reform is adopted I expect all GOP presidential candidates to run on the promise that they will repeal the bill, which can be easily accomplished by giving enough tax breaks to the rich and corporations to render it unaffordable. Since it is not planned to be deployed until 2013 the whole thing may turn out to be a mute point.

    The only reason it will not be repealed in 2011 if Republicans regain control of Congress is because President Obama will use his veto power to keep it in place until he leaves office.

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  • 66. At 1:29pm on 04 Mar 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 63, arclightt

    "Gavrielle, unfortunately the GAO points directly at Social Security and Medicare as the primary drivers,"

    MEDICARE is, indeed, a drain in part because of the changes made a few years ago, but I believe Social Security continues to run a surplus. Moreover, SS could be easily fixed by raising the contribution cap and the eligibility age by a couple of years.

    Why is it that the rest of the industrialized world can afford to have a pension plan, and healthcare for ALL its citizens, but we can't? Could it be because we spend a large portion of our budget on "defense" and other developed countries assign most of their government revenues to social programs? Could it be that they don't share our fears and accept the realities of the world we live in differently than we do?

    If that is the case, why don't we limit our defensive posture to protecting the USA and end our presence in foreign lands, and in outdated organizations such as NATO? Obviously, the answer is because that presence and NATO are convenient tools that allow us to achieve our geo-political and economic goals.

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  • 67. At 1:33pm on 04 Mar 2010, PartTimeDon wrote:

    So becasue the invading forces couldn't find any chemical weapons, they decided to introduce some of their own.
    Even then, those affected by this, having been born with defects are impacted again because it appears that the US has reduced the Iraqi healthcare system to the same level as it's own.
    Millions are going untreated where once healthcare was universal. People can find that they are turned away if they cannot or will not pay (bribes in the case of Iraq). Drugs are being filtered out of the system to be sold in more profitable markets. Reconstruction contracts were more often awarded to the private sector than to expert health bodies, so the resulting infrastructure and systems are not fit for purpose while private firms walk away with the profits.
    Sound familiar?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jan/16/iraq.international
    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2009/05/17/68193/iraqs-once-envied-health-care.html

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  • 68. At 1:47pm on 04 Mar 2010, cynic555 wrote:

    I find it amusing reading the partisan comments. Wake up people - both parties have had plenty of opportunity to make meaningful changes to health care for most of my life and neither party has lifted a finger. The Democrats had a majority in Congress for much of Bush's last term in office and remained quiet.

    I am not concerned that Obama has to resort to "the nuclear option" (phrase used by the Democrats when they were in the minority) but I am very concerned that this pork ridden bill doesn't do anything to lower the cost of health care which was one of the largest complaints among all Americans.

    Like many Independents I think Obama has been a dismal failure.

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  • 69. At 2:04pm on 04 Mar 2010, David Murrell wrote:

    Sorry, I guess I must be on my own in that I don’t understand the relevance of Roman Abramovich (who despite having a look I can find no evidence that he single handily finance Putin’s re-election, which considering the vast wealth that Putin holds personally would be a little strange) to this discussion. Then again the person who said the oligarchs who rule Russia for a millennia are still there seems to have a loose understanding of Russian history. Until the Revolution Russia was an absolute monarchy, supported by an entrenched aristocracy and nobility, unsurprisingly come the revolution these people didn’t do very well.

    The current bunch of oligarchs, such as Khodorkovsky (who grew up in a two bedroom flat) have no links to the pre-Revolution ruling class, which pretty much throws out the whole millennia rulers still being there. Really almost as good an understanding of international history as the claim of Napoleon being the elected President of France (coup d’etat being French, the first English usage being used to describe Napoleon’s overthrow of the Revolutionary Directory)!

    So Roman lives in London…. And? So he lives a nice lifestyle, because he is a billionaire…. And?

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  • 70. At 2:57pm on 04 Mar 2010, carolinalady wrote:

    How interesting. I guess my metaphor from yesterday is already obsolete. The President has decided he has paid out enough rope...

    Where can we go with this? The Republicans have tangled themselves up in so many lies about Socialist/Governmenttakeoverofhealthcare/deficits banrupting the country that they can no longer maneuver?

    I, too, decry the last helo out of Saigon image. Those of us who are old enough to have watched that happen don't think it's funny.

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  • 71. At 4:10pm on 04 Mar 2010, U14357051 wrote:

    67 All too familiar.

    On to MM writing
    1 and 6 ,13


    Obama said he will not govern like this in a new Washington.
    Unfortunately the rest tried so hard to make sure there was no change that they forced his to behave this way.
    Yes it can be said that he has changed to meet the current situation.
    BUT THAT IS WHY WE VOTED FOR HIM.
    Not because he was an inflexible idiot that would keep on the same tactic for years when the results are blatantly not good.


    Amazing thing is that the people in Power should be the targets of jokes.
    But at the moment the opposition are still the funniest act on the stage( as long as you don't mind a few people suffering for the laugh)


    20 "Our current social welfare programs are going broke."

    Well then try asking those that hide millions in their bank accounts for a rainy day to share a bit.
    Or treat then as selfish greedy people and shun them, ignore them or berate them.

    But certainly don't "respect" them because they "have pulled their boot straps up".

    Warren Buffet would be considered acceptable because despite owning billions he does actually give loads of it away. Same with Mr Micro.
    No probs from me.
    But the billionaire that says "no taxes" is selfish.

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  • 72. At 4:15pm on 04 Mar 2010, U14357051 wrote:

    Now does anyone remember how the right all complained about how the democrats from the Clinton era at the white house removed keys from computers as the democratic elected officials got on with working with the republicans.

    They made a stink some of the very posters here. How the democrats were just obstructionist and tried petty.

    Well the GOP won that battle.
    They managed to trump that childishness with blatant disregard for the people they represent . What I think should be criminal negligence (people are dying).

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  • 73. At 4:18pm on 04 Mar 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "... how are they going to pay for this as unemployment continues to climb?" (from crash at #35)

    In fact, the unemployment rate has started down:

    unemployment ratw graph

    (from the bureau of labor statistics)

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  • 74. At 4:35pm on 04 Mar 2010, Robert from Missouri wrote:

    The Democrats couldn't pass this with super majorities in both houses of congress, because the American people do not want socialized medicine.
    We have heard of the poor quality of care in Great Britian and other countries with your system. A Canadian Prime Minister recently came to the U.S. for heart surgery because, in his words, "It is my heart and my life "

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  • 75. At 4:36pm on 04 Mar 2010, U14357051 wrote:

    29 call me
    "Neither side seems to be smart enough to find a way to it"

    Yet.
    I guarantee that a side that spend two years denying any truth about universal healthcare .A party or group that funded the huge amount of lies out there about death panels etc could be considered the rhino in the room (and not a quite one we are ignoring but a rampaging horn swinging blind and not so smart beast.

    Crash. You are back. I had thought you were not welcome anymore.There goes to show.


    33 Jimjoy

    What is the great advantage in slowing things down. Is there a view to watch. Does the though of not being able to watch the poor begging for mercy at the hospital doors displease you. will it make you feel less wealthy?


    PS the constitution does require the general welfare as Squirrelist pointed out in the last thread.
    Oh dear there you are making your convenient facts up.
    As to the debate on general welfare that seems to ensue with idiots from the right claiming "no it doesn't mean that. It can't mean that"
    Get a dictionary.

    It does not mean "wealth of a few."


    And lol
    37

    "wouldn't the U.S. have been the first Western socialist state? "

    Yes I think it is .I can never understand why they hated communists so much. Then I realised. the communists dream (not reality) was the same as the Americans thought htey dreamed.
    One about common good etc etc.
    But they loved their flag the loved their nation.They loved it so much and yet forgot what it stood for.
    they forgot what it subjugation was (well they ignored what they could).

    Now they are free from healthcare and paid holidays;)

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  • 76. At 4:37pm on 04 Mar 2010, Neal wrote:

    First, a clear majority of the citizens are opposed to Obama Care.
    Second, a real leader first sells an idea to the citizens, the Democrat Party leadrrship in Congress and Obama are forcing several topdown mandates without the backing of americans, a real step toward dictatorship.
    This is why politicians are looking over their shoulder toward the coming elections, this year, next year, etc. Unless the Republican Party shoots itself in the foot, there will be a change of Party control in Congress in short order.

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  • 77. At 4:38pm on 04 Mar 2010, RuefulRupert wrote:

    As an Englishman I of course find the system in Washington bizarre. Actually the filibuster is used in our country and some legislation can be 'talked out'- but it cannot derail major measures similar to this one on US Health Care. In practice controversial law making is almost impossible without an enormous three fifths majorty, and that is almost never achieved in the Senate. No wonder change in the USA is grindingly slow and only becomes possible through 'pork barrow' measures and 'reconcilitation' procedures which are hardly edifying. Obama must hold his ground here. The filibuster was not originally intended to defeat all votes for change but in practise it actually defeats the core requirement of Democracy- which is that the will of the majority is respected and protected by law.

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  • 78. At 4:56pm on 04 Mar 2010, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 62, ukwales:

    The detritus of modern warfare is often toxic. At one point we were using lead in bullets. Heavy metals are used in munitions to enhance their the penetration rating, and the effect is dramatic.

    Heavy metals as a rule are toxic. Check out the condition of the Baltic. Europe dumped huge amounts of munitions into the Baltic and North Sea after World War II. Who knows what effect it has had on the environment. It can't be good. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some environmental damage done to the Fallujah area. I'd suspect the same everywhere else warfare has been waged.

    For me a bigger concern are untripped booby traps, mines and unexploded ordinance, but I don't want to appear as if I'm dismissing your concerns.

    We can try to clean up warfare, but I suspect the only way to stop this from happening in the future is not to have wars in the first place.

    I've been very critical of the use of WP by Israel in Gaza City. I'd like to know more about how and when the U.S. used it in Fallujah. If it was used on civilians, that's a war crime, and it should be prosecuted.

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  • 79. At 5:22pm on 04 Mar 2010, csgators wrote:

    @GH

    We have already been warned by the White House that Fridays numbers are going to be bad. They are blaming it on winter of all things.

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  • 80. At 6:01pm on 04 Mar 2010, ann arbor wrote:

    Is Hanoi Jane a WH adviser, too?!

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  • 81. At 6:08pm on 04 Mar 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    RuefulRupert (#77), the filibuster was not used here, although some sources have used the term incorrectly. Senator Bunning delayed what should have been a routine bill by two days, but he could not have delayed it by more than about a week had he not given consent to waive the rules. That is because there was not enough support to sustain a filibuster. He knew this, which is why he backed down.

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  • 82. At 6:17pm on 04 Mar 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Robert (#74) "... the American people do not want socialized medicine."

    This is just rhetoric, and "socialized" is spin. It's not that simple. The nation is divided, and whether a majority supports or opposes a particular bill depends on what is in it, and changes from week to week.

    Here is a link to a report of a poll which claims to show that (in late 2009) a majority of Americans supported the "public option," which is a feature many would call "socialized."

    http://www.washingtonpost.com article

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  • 83. At 6:57pm on 04 Mar 2010, cynic555 wrote:

    MMM - we have a Democrat as President and both houses are controlled by the Democrats - but popular rhetoric would say the Republicans are to blame for health care. Pretty clear that partisan rhetoric is a great fall back when one lacks common sense.

    Neither party give a darn about real health care reform - both would be happy just blaming each other and cash the lobbyist checks.

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  • 84. At 7:16pm on 04 Mar 2010, ClownD wrote:

    16. At 10:50pm on 03 Mar 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:
    "Not for the first time, there are aspects of US congressional procedure that leave me baffled.
    What's going on?

    Just exactly what proportion of the population, in total, come from states represented by these 41 Senators?"
    ====
    The answer to that is not so clear-cut, because each state has 2 Senators, and many states have 1 Democrat and 1 Republican. And then you have odd states like Maine, whose voters went strongly for Obama, but they also have 2 Republican Senators (though they are quite moderate).
    ====
    ”Aren't Americans fundamentally in favour of one man, one vote?
    Don't they find this behaviour offensive to democracy?
    No, I have a lifetime of experience with the US, and I think I know America pretty well, but this aspect of it has me baffled ”
    ====
    America was never meant to be a pure democracy, and that is clear in the Constitution. Even the original American colonies were quite a diverse bunch, and none of them wanted to be a slave to the whims of 51%. The Senate allows representation just for being a state. Wyoming (pop 544,000) gets the same representation as California (pop 37,000,000) in the Senate. So Wyoming gets a much greater proportional vote in the Senate, but this is protection for Wyoming and other small sates from getting drowned out by California’s massive population advantage, which is reflected in the House of Representatives. This is also reflected in the Electoral College, where each state gets 2 votes for being a state, plus the number of Representatives in the House.

    So yes, it is obvious that the Senate is not very democratic (nor the EC), but if it weren’t for these compromises to maintain a balance of power, the United States would never have formed.

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  • 85. At 7:17pm on 04 Mar 2010, ClownD wrote:

    8. At 9:06pm on 03 Mar 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:
    "The Republicans couldn't bail out the banks fast enough and never asked a question about the amount or how it would be used."
    ====
    Actually that is false. Bush signed the bank bailout right before Obama took over, but as far as how Congress voted, most Republicans voted against the bailout, and most Democrats voted for it.

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  • 86. At 7:35pm on 04 Mar 2010, ClownD wrote:

    23. At 01:05am on 04 Mar 2010, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:
    "There's a reason the cost of social welfare programs has soared - because 25 million people are out of work or under employed and need help."
    ====
    This is not true. The biggest social welfare programs by far are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Their exploding costs are not related to high unemployment. High unemployment means there is less money going in to these systems, but the staggering amounts of benefits being paid out is only getting more staggering. These don’t pay out jobless benefits. There are separate unemployment benefits that get paid out, but they are nearly as expensive as the Big 3. However, the high unemployment rate will force more prompt attention on these programs, as they will start running deficits much sooner than predicted (I believe that SS started a deficit this year, but that could turn back into a surplus if hiring picks up).
    ====
    "Before this mess it was only 18% of budget, now its 36%. Say, "Thank you, Wall Street and bank deregulation."
    ====
    I don't know what you're point about Wall St. and bank deregulation is here, but it doesn't make any sense.
    ====
    "Instead of cutting their benefits, why don't you do the kindly thing and cut their throats instead? Because that's what you are talking about. Or haven't you seen grandma in the store buying cat food for cats she doesn't have, because that's the only MEAT she can afford?"
    ====
    Anecdotal sob stories like this will not save the US from economic collapse when the Chinese at al. stop buying our debt. You can call it heartless, but that is just financial reality. Eventually we are going to have to cut spending, and that can’t be done without cutting our benefits from SS, Medicare, and Medicaid, as well as the US military budget. There really aren’t any other choices. Crippling tax hikes, more borrowing, and forced inflation are not viable solutions. Look at what is happening to Greece; if they can implement austerity programs, than so can we. But unfortunately, we’re going to have to be on the brink of another huge crisis to get the political will to do that, so things will have to get worse before they get better in that regard.

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  • 87. At 7:42pm on 04 Mar 2010, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 81, GH1618:

    "He knew this, which is why he backed down."

    The pressure on him was withering. He was alone. It was a foolish stand.

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  • 88. At 8:07pm on 04 Mar 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Post #83 (cynic555) represents the cynical point of view, all right. But what a depressing way to view politics rather than by making an effort to distinguish the genuine from the phony.

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  • 89. At 8:50pm on 04 Mar 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    InterestedForeigner (#16), ClownD (#84) has explained the "federal compromise" (which gives states equal representation in the Senate) very well, so I would just add this. The rule of equal representation in the Senate is one part of the US Constitution which explicitly cannot be changed without the consent of affected states. So even if popular opinion were overwhelmingly against the rule, it is inconceivable that any small state would give up its right to an equal footing in the Senate with the large states. My sentiment is to not worry about things which cannot be changed. That's just the way it works.

    The situation is much worse than it was at the founding. For the original colonies, the ratio between the largest and smallest original state was about ten to one. Now it is about 75 to one. The ratio of the largest to the median is about ten to one now. Only a few states are much larger than the median.

    Some people have thought that California is so large that it should be divided. I live in California, and even if I thought the disparity in the Senate was objectionable, I would not think this was a good idea to reduce it. That would merely produce two Californias, and anything that gives Californians more political power would not be a good thing, in my opinion.

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  • 90. At 11:09pm on 04 Mar 2010, american grizzly wrote:

    This healthcare bill is the same pig, they just keep pouring perfume on it. It won't fly, because the people want change, but not this kind of change. No pragmatism, just ram it down the peasants throats. Why are Democrats afraid of more townhalls, contact with the people?? Out of touch are they? The ones that are more traditional Democrats don't want to vote with the radical progressives). Not one thing has been changed in this healthcare bill, it still has all the faults. $$$$ cost, healthcare for illegals, no mammograms for women, and many more. Americans feel this bill stinks, payoffs, and all the dirt involved in it. Latest poll of registered voters in the US when asked if they felt country was heading in the right direct under Obama admin 25%. The lowest it has ever been!

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  • 91. At 02:08am on 05 Mar 2010, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    86. At 7:35pm on 04 Mar 2010, ClownD wrote:

    The biggest social welfare programs by far are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

    Social Security and Medicare are forms of social INSURANCE, like unemployment, not "welfare" programs, which is what I believed the original poster was mainly addressing. Hence the relationship to unemployment. Medicaid is the only actual "welfare" program, because it is coupled with General Assistance and/or food stamps.

    By the way, do you know what the standard rate is for Social Security payments these days? $674 a month for an individual and $1,011 for a couple before Medicare/Medicaid premiums are taken out. What Grandma is generally left with after her medical insurance premiums are deducted is about $530 a month. Now, let's see... How much is her rent? How much are her utilities? How much are the co-pays for her medicines? Does she need new shoes or a winter coat? Can she afford toothpaste? Toilet paper? Laundry detergent? Food?

    Maybe Granny is lucky and she gets food stamps, too. How much is she getting? The average in Illinois for a single person on basic Social Security is around $95 a month - if you are very lucky and can convince your aid worker that you have special dietary needs and will suffer physical harm if you can't eat properly. Otherwise, you are lucky if you can get $65 a month. I know one woman who gets $11. That's a month. To buy food. She's 78. By the way, in New York, the average food stamp disbursement totals about $28 dollars for an individual, a month. Last I heard the average cost of a monthly food basket for a single person was approximately $250.

    Now, if you want to cut off people above a certain income level from getting any Social Security payments, fine with me. Most of them just use the income to buy gifts for their grand kids or take trips. But benefits for the poor, the disabled and the elderly are barely enough for anyone to survive, let alone those most at risk.

    I don't know what you're point about Wall St. and bank deregulation is here, but it doesn't make any sense.

    Missed the whole recession and jobless recovery thing, did you? Millions more people are now getting food stamps and General Assistance funds. Even more are also applying for early retirement Social Security benefits and Medicare, because our youth oriented culture generally does not want to employ anyone over the age of 55. Most businesses assume older workers expect higher wages because they are experienced, will soon be leaving the work force for good (and therefore the money to train them will have been wasted) and will likely be more expensive to insure.

    Anecdotal sob stories like this will not save the US from economic collapse when the Chinese at al. stop buying our debt.

    Hysterical claims about the Chinese will not make them stop buying our debt. As I have said before, "The man who owes the bank a million dollars is owned by the bank, the man who owes the bank a trillion dollars owns the bank." A bankrupt America helps no one, least of all the Chinese who depend on our market for their exports. We die, they die. We are locked in a death grip, especially since European markets are in no better shape than we are, and in many cases far worse.

    Crippling tax hikes, more borrowing, and forced inflation are not viable solutions.

    How about just recouping the tax money the top 2% of the population shoved into their pockets over the last 10 years when they didn't need a tax break? How about simply allowing Medicare to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies and paying for drugs at a reduced cost? How about being cost efficient by shoving the doctors off the gravy train they've been riding since 1965 with a fee for service scheme that encourages fraud? There are plenty of ways to reduce the deficit that do not require cutting benefits for the people who can least afford it. But then children, the elderly, the disabled and the poor are always the first to get hit, because they are perceived as the weakest and, therefore, easy targets, because their numbers are relatively small in terms of lost votes.

    As for the military, how about we go after the contractors who bilked us for billions, instead? And then maybe we can find all of that missing oil money that was supposed to pay for Bush's wars.

    Look at what is happening to Greece; if they can implement austerity programs, than so can we.

    I have been looking at Greece. So has Goldman Sachs. No matter how many austerity cuts they make it will be years before they are solvent. Unlike the US, which has far more options than a Club Med state that doesn't have its own currency and therefore cannot devalue it, make its products more enticing on the world market, have a proper recovery and finesse its way out of debt. Comparing apples and oranges isn't helpful when discussing economics.

    But unfortunately, we’re going to have to be on the brink of another huge crisis to get the political will to do that, so things will have to get worse before they get better in that regard.

    You won't have long to wait. The commercial real estate bubble hasn't yet burst, but it will - and soon. Currently there are about $3.7 trillion in outstanding commercial real estate backed loans. Up until now, a very limited number of these loans have reached maturity. The amount of debt reaching maturity picked up at the end of 2009, leaving 15-20% vacancies. That will greatly accelerate by the end of this year and into 2011. Lenders to refinance the majority of these loans simply don't exist. You thought the housing bubble bursting was bad? Get ready for the second wave. It's going to make the first look like high tide in the face of a tsunami.

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  • 92. At 5:32pm on 05 Mar 2010, ClownD wrote:

    · 91. At 02:08am on 05 Mar 2010, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:
    "Social Security and Medicare are forms of social INSURANCE, like unemployment, not "welfare" programs, which is what I believed the original poster was mainly addressing."
    ====
    Social security has essentially become a welfare program, like it or not. It was originally designed as “social insurance”, but pandering politicians have expanded benefits over the years, so now you have many people receiving benefits who never paid into the system, and many more who get WAY more than what they paid in. And this is clearly unsustainable. If you add in “means testing” as you suggest, then any pretence that it isn’t a welfare program will be gone.
    ====
    "Missed the whole recession and jobless recovery thing, did you?"
    ====
    No, I didn’t, but your statement in our other post just made no sense at all.
    ====
    "Hysterical claims about the Chinese will not make them stop buying our debt."
    ====
    It is not hysterical to suggest that China does not have an unlimited capacity to buy our debt. People in the US will rebel against massive tax hikes to pay this debt, if spending is also not cut. This may put us closer to the brink of defaulting on our debt. So if we come to the edge of default, why would China still continue to buy our debt? They may not stop buying it outright, but a big down turn may cause a shock just the same. There is not some unlimited debt market out there that will support the US economy just because we want it to.
    ====
    "How about just recouping the tax money the top 2% of the population shoved into their pockets over the last 10 years when they didn't need a tax break?
    ====
    You could take all of the money from the top 2%, and it still would not be even close to enough. Our unfunded entitlement obligations (including state and local pensions) exceeds the total wealth in our entire country right now. Not to mention, who do you think provides most of the jobs in this country? It is mostly business owners in the top 2% Do you think that you can just tax them to death without causing economic pain everywhere else? If you tax them to death, they will fire more people and cut back their consumption, or leave the country altogether. None of these things are helpful to the US. You can’t strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. It has never worked, and it never will work, because it goes against basic economics and human nature.
    ====
    "How about simply allowing Medicare to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies and paying for drugs at a reduced cost?"
    ====
    The government (i.e. Medicare) won’t negotiate prices; they will dictate them. Do that and then you can say good bye to the innovative life science hubs in Boston, SF bay area, San Diego, Raleigh,NC, et al. Innovation won’t occur if the profit motive is taken out of the equation.
    ====

    "How about being cost efficient by shoving the doctors off the gravy train they've been riding since 1965 with a fee for service scheme that encourages fraud?"
    ====
    I agree fee-for-service drives up medical costs and needs to be changed.
    ====
    "There are plenty of ways to reduce the deficit that do not require cutting benefits for the people who can least afford it."
    ====
    Such as?
    ====
    "But then children, the elderly, the disabled and the poor are always the first to get hit, because they are perceived as the weakest and, therefore, easy targets, because their numbers are relatively small in terms of lost votes."
    ====
    The elderly don’t vote in high numbers? Anyone even vaguely familiar with American political demographics knows this is false. In fact, it is because they vote in such high numbers that the younger generations are screwed. SS and Medicare are massive transfers of wealth and prosperity from younger workers to older retired voters, that is indisputable. Isn’t America great when you can just vote yourself a nice retirement at the expense of the next generation?
    ====
    "You won't have long to wait. The commercial real estate bubble hasn't yet burst, but it will - and soon. Currently there are about $3.7 trillion in outstanding commercial real estate backed loans."
    ====
    There has been much written about this possible looming disaster, but nothing has really happened, yet. Let’s hope it is more fear mongering than reality.

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  • 93. At 5:34pm on 05 Mar 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re: Hanoi Jane.



    I believe Hanoi Jane went the way of Tokyo Rose.

    "Useful diots" and "fellow travelers" are tolerated only up to a point.

    Even by the Left [for its own sake]

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  • 94. At 5:41pm on 05 Mar 2010, U14357051 wrote:

    Gary well done.
    88

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  • 95. At 8:14pm on 05 Mar 2010, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    92. At 5:32pm on 05 Mar 2010, ClownD wrote:

    so now you have many people receiving benefits who never paid into the system, and many more who get WAY more than what they paid in.

    "Many" people? Oh, you mean elderly women who were housewives who never worked or only worked briefly until they did the unimportant, unpaid, thankless job of raising their children. Unlike their husbands, who did work and paid into the system. So, in your opinion, their unworthy widows shouldn't get a nickle of what their late husbands put in? Or is it minor children getting the death benefits of parents who paid into the system of which you speak? Because most everyone else, except those born too seriously disabled to have ever held any kind of job, had to have worked at some point. Maybe not enough to pay for their massive $9,168 a year benefit (before Medicare/Medicaid is deducted), but in order to get anything higher than that you have to have paid into the system at a much higher rate for a number of years.

    The reason the Social Security system is failing is not because people who don't deserve or need benefits are getting them. It's because George W. Bush gave away the nearly $3 billion dollar surplus that was meant to keep the system afloat for another 50 years in tax breaks for the wealthy. Al Gore, on the other hand, wanted to take that money and "put it in a lock box" so the promises made to hardworking baby boomers, who paid into the system over the last 50 years could be kept.

    And "means testing" wouldn't make it a "welfare" program. Or are you saying that people who weren't lucky enough to have a pension, save what they paid into Social Security and Medicare over a life time of work, or a pension worth something more than a rich man's pocket change, are some how "less than" or "substandard" and can be considered as the disposable poor?

    Your problem is that you are confusing Social Security with Medicare and Medicaid. Social Security and Social Security Disability (SSDI) are only 4.4% of GDP, which is what it has been for years.

    It is not hysterical to suggest that China does not have an unlimited capacity to buy our debt. People in the US will rebel against massive tax hikes to pay this debt, if spending is also not cut. This may put us closer to the brink of defaulting on our debt. So if we come to the edge of default, why would China still continue to buy our debt? They may not stop buying it outright, but a big down turn may cause a shock just the same. There is not some unlimited debt market out there that will support the US economy just because we want it to.

    That 2% can rebel all it likes, while the rest of the country heaves a sigh of tax relief. They should be grateful we aren't going back to 1944 when we were drowning in war debt and anyone making more than $200,000 a year was taxed at 94% of income. And China knows we are good for the money, as does the rest of the planet. Besides, China is not the largest holder of US securities. That is Japan.

    Our unfunded entitlement obligations (including state and local pensions) exceeds the total wealth in our entire country right now.

    That's the problem of the states and localities that were stupid enough to make deals they couldn't pay for and then raid their own pension funds, or let the banksters handle their funds for exorbitant fees and not get their money's worth. If you don't like paying state taxes, go somewhere they don't have them. Otherwise, pay more attention to whom you are electing and read the fine print when it comes to voting for new iniatitatives like municipal bond issues and such. I do.

    Not to mention, who do you think provides most of the jobs in this country? It is mostly business owners in the top 2% Do you think that you can just tax them to death without causing economic pain everywhere else? If you tax them to death, they will fire more people and cut back their consumption, or leave the country altogether. None of these things are helpful to the US. You can’t strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. It has never worked, and it never will work, because it goes against basic economics and human nature.

    Ah, yes. Here it comes. The justification for sacrificing the many in favor of the few. And the whole let them urina-- er, trickle their wealth down on the heads of the middle class theory. It doesn't work. Or hadn't you noticed that real wealth, i.e. middle class wages, has been stagnant for 30 years? Ever since some fool of an actor sold American on the idea that they ought to pay homage to the captains of industry that supposedly made their country work. Honey, the wealthy stay wealthy not because they are better at creating wealth than anyone else, but because they try never to spend their own money. Instead, they convince their friends in politics to come up with bond issues and the like to have taxpayers pay for stadiums for sports teams they own, new airports that help them expand their businesses, better port facilities that save them time and money, highways and roads that run past new malls they are building, etc. These captains of industry have had it very good in the US for the past 30 years and yet they still shipped our jobs overseas, got caught not paying taxes (Leona Helmsley, et al) and went on a rampage buying up businesses then taking out massive loans, paying themselves oversized "bonuses" with said loans and then leaving the empty husks of formely great companies to the other vultures. That is the basic human nature you have to watch out for: Corporate greed. Gangsters in business suits.

    The government (i.e. Medicare) won’t negotiate prices; they will dictate them. Do that and then you can say good bye to the innovative life science hubs in Boston, SF bay area, San Diego, Raleigh,NC, et al. Innovation won’t occur if the profit motive is taken out of the equation.

    Nonsense. Those hubs will still be doing a booming business because it is profitable to do so. And they'll be getting plenty of government grants that aren't funded by monies derived from gouging Medicare and the rest of the country. In any case, why don't you say what you mean? You want Medicare gone. You want Medicaid gone. You want all government programs gone that don't directly benefit you and yours. Of course, like millions of Americans have recently discovered, you never know when you could end up losing it all and needing one of those social welfare programs.

    Isn’t America great when you can just vote yourself a nice retirement at the expense of the next generation?

    They paid for that retirement with 50 plus years of hard work and their tax money. Now you want to steal what little dignity they might have in their old age, because you want it easy?

    How about this: Next time, don't elect a president who robs the middle class to give the rich a free ride. We wouldn't be in this mess if Bush hadn't used the surplus Clinton created to bribe his way into office. Which he couldn't even do right, because he had to be appointed president by his legislate from the bench Supreme Courtiers.

    There has been much written about this possible looming disaster, but nothing has really happened, yet. Let’s hope it is more fear mongering than reality.

    Facts are facts. That $3.7 trillion hasn't gone anywhere and with the country already in a recession the chances of the default rate being higher than expected is even greater now.

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  • 96. At 8:20pm on 05 Mar 2010, shiveringofforgottenenemies wrote:

    Obama is taking the focus off the real problem. The problem is that he has an outrageously expensive health care overhaul on paper and he wants to force upon the people of America.

    Obama runs a magic show, it's all a matter of distraction. The Republicans aren't the problem, it's the BILL! That is an abomination!

    Calling for a simple majority vote because he wants to pass BAD legislation is...well, insane! You really have to wonder just what he thinks he can get away with!

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  • 97. At 10:47pm on 05 Mar 2010, ClownD wrote:

    “Al Gore, on the other hand, wanted to take that money and "put it in a lock box" so the promises made to hardworking baby boomers, who paid into the system over the last 50 years could be kept.”
    ====
    Oh please, and you actually believe that he would have done that? That was nothing more than ridiculous campaign rhetoric. That is incredibly naïve of you to believe that. What’s stopping Obama from doing it? Don’t forget, it was under the great Democrat LBJ when the social security surplus was shifted over to the general fund, only to be replaced with worthless IOU’s.
    ====
    “Otherwise, pay more attention to whom you are electing and read the fine print when it comes to voting for new iniatitatives like municipal bond issues and such. I do.”
    ====
    I pay very close attention. But these state pension deals were signed long ago, before I was of voting age. And you never know what someone is going to do once they get into office. That is, if they sign some generous contract with the gov’t unions and give them these unsustainable, unfunded benefits, what can you do? You can vote them out, but the contract still stands, and it must be paid, unless a state goes into bankruptcy. Don’t be surprised if states try to do that to relieve themselves of these crushing obligations.
    ====
    “Nonsense. Those hubs will still be doing a booming business because it is profitable to do so.”
    ====
    No, you are wrong. Less profit means less money for R&D, which means fewer people employed, less future revenue from drugs to replace those that lose patent protection, which means less incentive to develop new drugs that aren’t massively profitable. It also means less venture capital money for start-ups, etc. It will all but destroy the industry.
    ====
    “You want Medicare gone. You want Medicaid gone. You want all government programs gone that don't directly benefit you and yours. Of course, like millions of Americans have recently discovered, you never know when you could end up losing it all and needing one of those social welfare programs.”
    ====
    No, I don’t want it gone for everyone else if that is what they want, I just want the right opt out of it for myself. I’ll gladly wave my social security and Medicare benefits, if I was refunded the money I paid into it, with inflation and +1-2%.
    ====
    ”They paid for that retirement with 50 plus years of hard work and their tax money. Now you want to steal what little dignity they might have in their old age, because you want it easy?”
    ====
    You have fallen for the great illusion that your social security payments are there to fund YOUR retirement. They did NOT pay for their own retirement, they paid for the previous generation to retire, and so on. But the great social engineers didn’t foresee that people would live longer, and that later generations would have fewer children than the baby boomers. Social security is the greatest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world; its scope and breadth put Bernie Madoff to shame. And eventually it will collapse like a house of cards, as all Ponzi schemes do.

    I don’t want to steal anything from anyone. I just want to stop others from stealing from future generations, just so that they can have a retirement fund that will not be there for the rest of us. I also don’t want to see our country destroyed because everyone is working like a slave to pay for old people’s health care and retirement. I don't blame older people for the ills of social security, it is not their fault. The blame lies with the craven politicians. So any solution would have to be phased in over many years, so people have time to get used to reduced SS benefits.
    ====
    “That 2% can rebel all it likes, while the rest of the country heaves a sigh of tax relief.”
    ====
    You are delusional if you think the answer is as simple as taxing “the rich”. Look at the states with the highest marginal tax rates: NJ, NY, California. They are also the states in the worst fiscal shape. Coincidence? No, it isn’t. And that’s because when you have ever-higher marginal tax rates on the rich, you get in a situation where you have an increasing % of tax revenue coming from a decreasing number of people. California gets almost 50% of its state tax revenue from only 144,000 very rich people. This works OK for a while, until you have a recession, and then you get the disaster you have right now.

    I shouldn’t have to explain how incredibly foolish to rely on such a huge % of your revenue from less than 0.5% of your residents, but I bet you think that’s a great thing. But the results prove otherwise. In a recession, the 144,000 may still may all be very rich, but what if they are only 70 or 80% as rich as before? Their fortunes receding even a little bit will swamp the state budget in red ink, especially when coupled with ever-increasing spending. The same thing is happening in NY, especially New York City. The rich also happen to be much more mobile, and can easily move their money to more tax friendly areas, and thus the tax base gets even smaller.

    Excessively taxing the rich as an overall solution is for losers. It won’t solve anything, and it doesn’t create wealth for anyone, it just spreads the misery around. You obviously need to take an economics class, because you have no grasp on how capitalism works, and what it takes to start a business, take a risk, create wealth, etc. You can’t punish the rich people them without hurting everyone else, it never works, and it never has worked. Wealth and jobs are created because of the incentive to profit, and nothing more. Take away that motive, and you have less wealth, less jobs, and more misery.

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  • 98. At 10:54pm on 05 Mar 2010, ClownD wrote:

    "How about this: Next time, don't elect a president who robs the middle class to give the rich a free ride. We wouldn't be in this mess if Bush hadn't used the surplus Clinton created to bribe his way into office."
    ====
    The middle class got tax relief under Bush as well, and many people who used to pay taxdes then got to pay none at all. Clinton's surplus was largely illusroy and never going to be realized, and came because of huge cutbacks to militaay spending. A surplus means that government has taxed the people too heavily, so they need to return it to the people in the proportion to what they paid in taxes, or use it all top pay down the natiional debt. If the government just keeps the surplus and spends it on something else, then it never was really a surplus was it?
    ====
    "Which he couldn't even do right, because he had to be appointed president by his legislate from the bench Supreme Courtiers"
    ====
    This speaks to your ignorance of the legal merits of Bush v. Gore, which I really don't have time to get into now.

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  • 99. At 00:29am on 06 Mar 2010, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    97. At 10:47pm on 05 Mar 2010, ClownD wrote:

    Oh please, and you actually believe that he would have done that?

    We'll never know, since the election was stolen.

    That was nothing more than ridiculous campaign rhetoric.

    Just like that ridiculous campaign rhetoric that lowering taxes for the wealthy and deregulating the banks would make the nation richer, as opposed to driving the economy over a cliff.

    What’s stopping Obama from doing it?

    It's gone. And so is the economy that created it.

    Don’t forget, it was under the great Democrat LBJ when the social security surplus was shifted over to the general fund, only to be replaced with worthless IOU’s.

    They aren't worthless if the government pays it back. Oh, that's right, they couldn't, because someone gave the money away.

    if they sign some generous contract with the gov’t unions and give them these unsustainable, unfunded benefits, what can you do? You can vote them out, but the contract still stands, and it must be paid, unless a state goes into bankruptcy.

    So if a state government signs a contract with a union, it has to fulfill the contract. But if the federal government implements a social contract with an entire nation it should be able to welsh out of the deal when it runs low on cash? There's a convenient double standard.

    Don’t be surprised if states try to do that to relieve themselves of these crushing obligations.

    If the state doesn't pay it simply ends up with all those people on Public Aid visiting the emergency room for health care that will be paid for by the state anyway and at a higher cost. What would be the point?

    Less profit means less money for R&D

    So gouging Medicare is now considered a profit making venture for the pharmaceutical industry? Thank you for clarifying that fact. I'm sure the many countries around that world that also have booming medical research hubs that rely on investors and sales, as opposed to American taxpayer money, thank you for the tip. And as capitalist models go, if they can't survive on investment money and a reasonable profit, maybe they shouldn't be in business. Europe and Canada have some pretty good medical research going on. Maybe big Pharma ought to check out the competition and see what they are doing right?

    No, I don’t want it gone for everyone else if that is what they want, I just want the right opt out of it for myself. I’ll gladly wave my social security and Medicare benefits, if I was refunded the money I paid into it, with inflation and +1-2%.

    That might work, but only if you can guarantee you won't later become a burden on the rest of society. Can you promise that you will suffer without a whimper or complaint when you are too old to care for yourself and your spoiled rotten kids toss you out in your dotage? You may be willing to play Russian Roulette with your future, but as a fellow taxpayer I am not willing to let you. The last thing I want is to see your bankrupt raggedy self wandering the streets with a tin cup in your hand because you thought you were smarter than everyone else. Or do you imagine that those millions of people who lost their life savings a couple of years ago, and are now dependent on Social Security and Medicare, are somehow less clever than you?

    So any solution would have to be phased in over many years, so people have time to get used to reduced SS benefits.

    How much further below the poverty level would you like the elderly and disabled to live? Less than $10,000 a year isn't low enough? Are you willing to build more subsidized housing so they don't have to live in the street outside your shiny new condo? And you willing to build more public hospitals so they will at least have some place clean where they can die, as opposed to the alley behind your house? Are you willing to expand local Potter's fields so the destitute masses you will create can be buried? How about hiring some guys with trucks to troll the streets every morning, shouting, "Bring out your dead!"?

    By the way, it's interesting how you keep avoiding the human cost of your benefit slashing and doing away with the social safety net. But then, I expect you imagine that it won't be a problem for you. You're young and healthy and will live forever. You will never make the mistakes your elders did, because you are clever and they were just old, ignorant and naive.

    Do yourself a favor, kid. Get some books on what life was like before the government got involved in looking after veterans, widows and orphans as well as the sick and the elderly. What you are asking for is a world that is cold, brutal and unforgiving to all but the well to do. And if you think you are going to be the one on top in the end, don't count on it. The captains of industry you worship eat their own for breakfast. Then again, your clear lack of compassion for anyone's plight but your own makes you eminently suitable to swim in their pond. I'm sure they'll find your Chicago School absolutism a tasty morsel.

    Look at the states with the highest marginal tax rates: NJ, NY, California.

    Let's not, because once again you are comparing apples to oranges and attempting to impose a simplistic explanation on a complex issue.

    You obviously need to take an economics class

    And you need to read the bits your professors left out in the drive to sell Chicago School economics to you. Everything that has happened over the past 10 years was easily predicted. The problem? The casino was open and everyone was having too good a time to listen.

    98. At 10:54pm on 05 Mar 2010, ClownD wrote:

    A surplus means that government has taxed the people too heavily, so they need to return it to the people in the proportion to what they paid in taxes, or use it all top pay down the natiional debt. If the government just keeps the surplus and spends it on something else, then it never was really a surplus was it?

    First, it does not mean the people were taxed too heavily and they should get it back. The government has other sources of income than just income taxes, like usage fees and tariffs. The income tax was first instituted in 1860. How do you imagine we got on before then? And that first middle class tax cut of Bush's wasn't really a tax cut. It was a loaner on your next income tax return. I know, because like everyone else, I got screwed.

    This speaks to your ignorance of the legal merits of Bush v. Gore, which I really don't have time to get into now.

    It had no legal merits. The Supreme Court had absolutely no constitutional right to intervene in a state election and should have rejected the request. But then your copy of the Constitution probably isn't the same as mine. No doubt you have the "best bits" Reader's Digest version from WalMart.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I am done with this subject. I'm off to collect my Social Security Disability haul and spend it on dodgy booze, loose men and funny tobacco. Party on, dude!

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  • 100. At 03:14am on 06 Mar 2010, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    69. At 2:04pm on 04 Mar 2010, David Murrell wrote:

    ... Then again the person who said the oligarchs who rule Russia for a millennia are still there seems to have a loose understanding of Russian history. Until the Revolution Russia was an absolute monarchy, supported by an entrenched aristocracy and nobility, unsurprisingly come the revolution these people didn’t do very well.

    The current bunch of oligarchs, such as Khodorkovsky..."
    ____________________________

    A bit late to reply, I know, but I was pointing to the continuous principle of oligarchy as a form of government, that endured through even the communist period, as you refer to in begining the next paragraph....

    KScrumudgeon
    we think alike, although in different ways..;

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  • 101. At 04:11am on 06 Mar 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    95 and 97 Gavrielle:

    I work with very creative people on a daily basis. They are enormously skilled, and, collectively, people like them create almost all of the new private sector jobs in the economy. They are very, very talented, they work extremely hard, they work essentially every waking moment of every day, and they take breathtaking financial risks.

    One of the fellows I work with started in his garage and built what is now the largest company of its kind in North America. He employs a lot of people. He has succeeded by working astonishingly hard, and by always treating other people with fairness and respect.

    Another fellow I work with came to this country from East Africa with nothing but the clothes he was wearing, built a business from scratch, and now employs about 300 people. He is also a beautiful human being - kind, generous, considerate, thoughtful. The quality of his character inspires incredible loyalty.

    Another fellow I work with is the eldest son in a third generation of a family business. The family built the business from scratch, and it is now one of three large competitors in North America in its industry. That family has never departed from the basic values of small town thrift and human decency upon which they started the business in the first place.

    Don't kid yourself. If you think that building businesses like this is easy, just try it some time. All of these businesses are in highly competitive fields where the margins are thin. These guys are as rare as hen's teeth, so to speak. They have remarkable skills - not just raw intelligence, but creativity, interpersonal skills, and gumption.

    For the level of achievement, and the level of responsibility they are way, way, underpaid, and way way overtaxed. I've seen these guys at work. They have a thousand times, maybe ten thousand times, the level of responsibility of the average employee. Would you want to carry the burden of a thousand people's livelihoods on your shoulders? I am in awe of these people. I don't begrudge them a penny of what they earn. They deserve it, and more.

    It's easy enough to say, "oh, just tax the rich more, they can afford it", when you don't actually know people who run these businesses. But when you know them, you see them in action, and realize how rare their skills are, you begin to see that our tax system is very unfair. People who run successful manufacturing businesses already pay way more than their fair share of taxes. Way more.

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  • 102. At 11:58am on 06 Mar 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #100


    There are oligarchs who rot in jail (like Khodorkovsky) because they refused to support tsar Putin, and oligarchs (who aquired their wealth in exactly the same way) who are lording it (appropriately in U.K.) with total impunity, buying super yachts, soccer clubs and castles , because they supported tsar Putin, with their ill gotten riches.


    What was it G. Orwell wrote about some animals being more equal than others, and comrade Napoleon being always right?

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  • 103. At 12:10pm on 06 Mar 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #101 "For the level of achievement, and the level of responsibility they are way, way, underpaid, and way way overtaxed."



    Now, now, Interestedforeigner.

    Next thing you'll say is that people people should be remunerated on the merit, and not penalized for their successes.

    Common, you know and I know that there are too many feeble foxes and too many sour grapes for such an idea ever becoming a reality.

    And that there are people who generate wealth and jobs and therefore are scum of the earth, and there are people who can generate only misery, and who therefore are morally and ideologically superior.

    It's been like this since Karl Marx days.

    [Marks being unable to create any Das Kapital (except on paper) and living on capitalists' money]

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  • 104. At 2:14pm on 06 Mar 2010, HSP wrote:

    There are a lot of us independents, who are skeptic of intentions of Obama and democrates. If there is so much money to be saved from the existing government programs, then why not save in first 4 years and then spend it? Rather than give before you have earned it. In democracy it is hard to give and take it back form majority. So once majority gets hooked and dependent the inefficiencies of the Government are tolerated rather than dismantled. And the smart person in Obama ought to know this unless it is balanced by the belief that this will create a voting block which will ensure the political survival of their principles. And they have faith in American system to withstand the inefficiencies of such a large Government program. Some of us are scared that the inefficiencies of the large Government Programs such as Fennie Mae and Fredie Mac drove the world in to the financial mess that we have, in addition to the greed of bankers and consumers.

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  • 105. At 4:59pm on 06 Mar 2010, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:

    @interestedforeigner

    It's easy enough to say, "oh, just tax the rich more, they can afford it", when you don't actually know people who run these businesses. But when you know them, you see them in action, and realize how rare their skills are, you begin to see that our tax system is very unfair. People who run successful manufacturing businesses already pay way more than their fair share of taxes. Way more.

    You seem to think that I begrudge hard working individuals their wealth. I don't. I simply don't believe they ought to be let off the hook when it comes to paying income taxes. And I certainly don't believe that creative, talented people will be any less driven to create because they are taxed at a slightly higher rate than others. In fact, just the opposite is true. The 1940s, 50s and 60s were wonderfully expansive years for business in this country, while personal income taxes for the wealthy were around 60-80% of taxable income. At the same time, wages for the middle classes went up and even more people entered the middle classes from the ranks of the poor, thanks to government programs like the G.I. Bill and low interest government home loans.

    Obama is only asking for income taxes on the wealthiest to go back to where they were while Bill Clinton was in office - 36% and 39.7% of taxable income, respectively. So they do not currently pay more than their fair share of taxes. They pay exactly the same amount as someone who is considered to be upper middle class.

    Are you saying the 1990s were not big boom years for business? As I recall, they did extremely well even as middle class wages stagnated and inflation rose thanks to a growing housing bubble, as well as rising medical and educational costs.

    One of the reasons, by the way, that President Eisenhower did not want to lower income taxes on the wealthy - and he was certainly one of them - was that he feared they would become too powerful again. Like the robber barons and banksters who'd used their wealth to buy political power, take dangerous risks and subsequently drove the world's economy off a cliff in the 1930s. Given the past 30 years where the wealth of the nation has flowed upward at an alarming rate, and the subsequent destruction of the economy, it's a fair bet that Eisenhower was right.

    And on a personal note, I too know several wealthy individuals who work very hard for their money. One man I've known since college. He inherited his billions, along with several lofty titles and a global business empire that stretches from New York to Australia. His family raised him to believe that not only should they pay taxes, but they should pay more taxes than the people generally think they ought. In his opinion, he can afford to build or repair the roads that lead to his factories so his employees can get there safely, comfortably and in a timely fashion. Why? Because employees who don't have to struggle to get to their jobs are happier and more productive. He also provides the best medical, dental, vision and psychiatric care for his employees, no matter what country they are in, because a healthy employee who isn't worried about his family's health care is a happy, productive employee. In addition, he also offers educational benefits, not only for his employees, but for their children. Any college of their choice that they can get into and the company will pay. And when they are finished, he'll give their kids entry level jobs in one of his companies - if they want, because it isn't mandatory that they work for him. Why? Because he doesn't just want happy, healthy, productive employees, he wants highly educated ones who see a future for themselves and their families with him and will help his businesses grow because of it. He also provides day care and elder care. Why? Because employees who aren't worried about the safety and well being of the most vulnerable members of their family are happy, healthy, productive and loyal employees. He also buys housing stock in most of the areas where he sets up his businesses and offers furnished homes or apartments to any employee who wants to live closer to work. Sure, they pay rent and utilities, but at below market rate and just enough to maintain the properties in excellent condition. Why? Because he isn't in the real estate business. He's an industrialist who wants a stable work force that can show up on time and never have to worry about where they are going to sleep.

    Now, you might think that he would hate unions, but he doesn't. He loves unions. In fact, he recently bought several properties for taxes in Detroit, where he plans to consolidate a number of his smaller businesses that require the kind of massive, highly skilled labor force only a city like Detroit can provide. Even before the ink was dry on the deals, he contacted the union and asked for a rep to come out so he could discuss his plans for the future. Of course, the union rep was a bit disappointed to hear that union members wouldn't be making quite as much as they did before. About 20% less. But when he heard the benefits package being offered, the union rep wasn't simply stunned, he realized that the actual value was more than what they'd normally be getting in real wages and he was delighted. He also likes the fact that he has an office in the building - not a cubicle or an old janitor's closet - where he is expected to be every day so that employees can speak with him as they need, and no penalties if they ask to leave the floor while they are working.

    And what did my friend want in return? The union's guarantee that any union member who refused to work and expected to be paid for doing nothing be fired immediately. Why? Because no employee is going to be happy and productive in their job when they see someone else taking advantage of job protections meant to keep them from becoming mere slaves of the corporations and getting away with it. The union's response? We'll go through the employee lists and weed out any slackers before they start working. If we miss any, we'll put them out before they have time to set a bad example. Why? Because with benefits and working conditions like he's offering, as far as the union is concerned he is a model employer to watch and learn from. All either side is asking for is a fair deal. And from what I can see (the union rep and his family are vacationing this week with my friend and his family) both sides will get what they want.

    And where are the shareholders in all this? Well, some his companies have none, but those that do have learned that a steady 6-10% profit over 30, 40 or 50 years, with the occasional boom year of 11-20% is better than a few years of boom and then bust. Many of his shareholders lost everything in the down turn. Or should I say, nearly everything. My friend avoided all those risky securities and warned anyone he could not to get involved no matter how much money was on offer. He not only survived with his businesses and finances intact, but his shareholders have the income that his companies provide keeping them afloat. For some, it's the only income they have. And the one they scoffed at and used for pocket change when they thought he was a fool and laughed at his so-called "lack of business sense".

    So no, I don't have a problem with the wealthy having money. I don't even have a problem with the super rich. I have a problem with the kind of short-sighted individual who thinks that the employees should, for example, pay for the roads because they have to use them. Live in wretched conditions with little or no chance of success, because it's their own lookout if they aren't ruthless enough to make it to the top at the expense of everyone else and their morals. That their employees are merely disposable utilities, who are only disgruntled because they are jealous.

    Oh, and getting back to health care, my friend has decided to create his own not for profit health care insurance from within the company. A small portion of everyone's wages will go towards a company provided plan and the company will hire its own insurance experts and doctors to negotiate with the service providers, thus cutting out the middle man and saving money. If they want to use a doctor or hospital that isn't part of the plan, that's fine too. They'll pay the doctor what they normally pay those in the plan and the employee can pay the difference. Emergency room costs at any hospital will be completely covered, by the way. Why? Because he got tired of having his employees distracted by the fact that their services were often being delayed by the insurance companies, even when they weren't being outright denied.

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  • 106. At 6:17pm on 06 Mar 2010, U14357051 wrote:

    105 Excellent.


    103 Confused as usual
    "And that there are people who generate wealth and jobs and therefore are scum of the earth, and there are people who can generate only misery, and who therefore are morally and ideologically superior."

    So those that generate wealth and jobs and therefore are scum of the earth because they invented more ways to kill are not the same that generate only misery?

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  • 107. At 6:23pm on 06 Mar 2010, U14357051 wrote:

    Interested forigner.
    They are lucky there are millions that try but are beaten by the super big competitors.
    There are millions that have to stop when their kid gets iill .
    they work hrd to.
    you seem to be a job snob.
    Why should the guy working overtime every week with th stress of toxic environment at work not get paid well as well.

    Don't think I have not seen the side of the wealthy. I just happen to have seen both sides.
    and the poor do work hard and they get injured and they have problems at ho,me becuse they cannot afford the stuff that the super rich throw away.
    Yes for every nice business owner there is one that would throw brand new cloths from last year in the trash while their workers are turning up in rags falling apart because he doesn't want to pay more than minimum wage for a job that eats clothing.

    Because he "can't afford to"


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  • 108. At 11:19am on 07 Mar 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    I admit I am confuseth.

    So people who pay 35% tax on, say, $1,000,000.00 are NOT sending Uncle Sam "slightly more" than those who pay, say, 22% of $50,000.00?


    Is this some brand new branch of artithemetic invented by Acorn mathematicians when I was asleep?

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  • 109. At 12:25pm on 07 Mar 2010, U14357051 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 110. At 12:30pm on 07 Mar 2010, U14357051 wrote:

    but what would he know compared to some anonymous blogger that likes to promote hate.

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  • 111. At 2:12pm on 07 Mar 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    This Obamacare Bill should go down in flames.
    Having read the 3,000-page edifice (I mean Bill.), along with amendments, adjustments, and attachments, I have to wonder how the people, the medical community or insurance companies will implement the monstrosity.
    Talk about room for bad accounting (corruption)! If I wanted to audit the accounting for Obamacare, I wouldn’t have a hope in Hell even with twenty computers – all linked together – because the initial programming would be next to impossible, and I would be left to filter out claim "errors" manually. Eeeks!
    Calling for an "up-or-down" vote (using the Budget Reconciliation process) is tantamount to an Obamacare coup.
    "Every idea has been put on the table; every argument has been made." (Obama in a speech before an audience of health care professionals in the East Room of the White House) The health care professionals must have been thinking – “Ah, Mr. President, we don’t recollect you meeting with the health care industry itself. When did this happen?”
    Obama is thumbing his nose at the Republicans and the American public; he is doing this because he can, and that’s the sign of a bully.
    This rewrite is supposed to
    - rewrite of the nation's health care system
    - cut hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare,
    - expand Medicaid,
    - order every American to join a plan and
    - rewrite rules telling insurance companies how they can operate.
    Wow! All in one bill – with all of the Ts crossed and Is dotted. I mean audit tight!
    That’s phenomenal…and it’s also not possible. The Republicans are right; this humongous undertaking should have been split into component parts, each component part being vetted and passed before moving to the next component part. Obama’s helter-skelter approach will create nothing but chaos with so many loopholes that the American people will not know whether they are coming (as patients) or going (as in deceased).
    If Obama had a righteous bill, he would not be using the Reconciliation Process to jam it through the Senate with 51 votes rather than 60. Also you will note that Obama is not using the proper term for this jamming process (i.e. "reconciliation process"). He is referring instead to "simple majority."
    Mr. Obama previously had been critical of using the budget reconciliation; he said the reconciliation process should not be used on a major effort such as health care. Solution = semantics. We simply won't call it "budget reconciliation"; we will call it a "simple majority".

    One clearly component part is absolutely missing: pro-life/abortion issues. Because of this “oversight”, Obamacare may not even get a simple majority in the Senate. There are Democrats who are pro-life.
    Mrs. Pelosi said that the public will now be confident that voters will see "there are key differences between our two parties." Yep, that’s for sure! To be fair, I’ll finish her statement (as best I remember) "Democrats believe we must hold insurance companies accountable in order to rein in premiums, insure 30 million more Americans, and protect patients and consumers nationwide. Congressional Republicans disagree."
    In my opinion, the quotation ends incorrectly; it's not that the Republicans disagree. It's that they want to slow down the process - component by component.

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  • 112. At 3:08pm on 07 Mar 2010, U14357051 wrote:

    So a post with two comments from warren buffet that show comment 108 have been removed.
    Why?
    Because they clearly showed that the figures presented by powermeerkat to be erroneous at best.

    Ah the fickle mods.
    Have they issues with warren buffet presenting a clearer picture?

    Does repetition help? It has for the endless repetitive comments from the right.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu5B-2LoC4s.

    So what is so controversial about this. Anyone see a reason to be offended? Yes the sound is low. Is that in the rules? sound has too be raised so don't allow.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLD0p1QpcI8&feature=fvw


    Again warren Buffet on the reality of taxes. where has the money gone.
    Any comment is allowed but ones that show the truth.


    One sided Modding?

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  • 113. At 3:09pm on 07 Mar 2010, U14357051 wrote:

    111 you don't mind when the president is bullying us into a war but health care.... Oh dear what a crime.

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  • 114. At 3:25pm on 07 Mar 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #111

    "Shock and awe"!!!

    BluesBerry has actually withstood a torture of reading 3,000 pages ot that...hm...

    RESPECT!

    [Personally I'd rather be water-boarded.]

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  • 115. At 3:55pm on 07 Mar 2010, U14373685 wrote:

    114 I am sure someone can arrange that for you.
    So you would rather complain without having read it?

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  • 116. At 5:18pm on 07 Mar 2010, U14373801 wrote:

    "So once majority gets hooked and dependent the inefficiencies of the Government are tolerated rather than dismantled."
    But that wouldn't also apply to the wealthy who got temporary tax breaks to "stimulate the economy" under Bush.
    Is it not possible the minority of super wealthy discussed by Warren Buffet would also get so used to being given a near free ride that they might be balking at the idea of having to pay a fair share today?

    Interested foreigner.
    Do you think the American business and wealth elite are paying the same tax rates as in Canada ? If not do you think they should be allowed to keep the tax breaks handed out under Bush while the poor are being thrown out on the streets with no access to health care.
    This is not Canada that is being discussed. Though it would be nice to have a piece on the national anthem changes not now happening;)

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  • 117. At 6:47pm on 07 Mar 2010, U14373952 wrote:

    105 But the rich.They need more. How hard is that to understand;)

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  • 118. At 7:59pm on 07 Mar 2010, U14357051 wrote:

    ""Shock and awe"

    Awesome blunder

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  • 119. At 11:56pm on 07 Mar 2010, Aaron Hunt Warner wrote:

    Shouldn't a sixty per cent majority be telling the naysayers something? In MY opinion it does...Congress can ill afford to play games with our nation's health. [By the way the USA is the ONLY industrialized nation lacking universal coverage. Shame.] How would the fat cats inside the Beltway feel if THEY were denied access to treatment? Or the well-to-do in general? Well,here's a proposal for them:Since we bailed out the bankers to the tune of a trillion,why not have speculative financiers pay a minute fee per transaction? Also,why not have Americans give a free-will donation and pool the amount raised to fund healthcare to its
    citizens and the salaries of those who provide it. And scholarships to the best and brightest to perpetuate the prosperity.

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  • 120. At 07:26am on 08 Mar 2010, Yankee_Poodle wrote:

    At home and abroad, Obama is the best hope that the USA has had in many years - I just hope he will be given the time to see things through.

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  • 121. At 12:07pm on 08 Mar 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #120

    Barack Hussein Obama has till 2012 to prove he's fit to govern.

    An ample time, I'd think.


    Now, about this awfully embarrassing White House's back-pedalling re Turkey....

    Perhaps BHO could borrow a decent bike from Lance Armstrong?

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  • 122. At 8:03pm on 10 Mar 2010, Rabbitsmoker wrote:

    HEALTH CARE IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT!! PERIOD
    If it isn't then why on earth does every convicted felon in Americas prison system have unquestioned access to it? It is disgusting, and evil that the only people in the "land of the free" who get automatic health care are rapists, murderers, drug dealers, thieves, child molesters and all manner of incarcerated criminals.
    Every single person who does not have Health Care should all go to the nearest emergency room on the same day. Every single person in America who are killing themselves working way past retirement or just working extra jobs to pay for health insurance should go to the nearest emergency room on the same day. Every single person in America who is staying at a job that is holding them back or underpaying them because they are afraid that they will loose their health insurance should go the the nearest emergency room on the same day.
    Every single politician that has voted against reform is now officially on "THE REAL DEATH PANEL"
    I have already been condemned to a life of Ill health and emergency room only health care by the insurance companies.
    I find it absolutely shocking that anyone, anywhere would for even 1 second believe that their very life should ever be decided by a giant, greedy, profit driven corporation.
    "the land of the free" should mean FREE! No one in the richest nation on earth (not for long, if we don't fix it) should ever pay a single dime for any health care ever. Not a penny.
    Wake up America!

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  • 123. At 9:59pm on 10 Mar 2010, ClownD wrote:


    99. At 00:29am on 06 Mar 2010, Gavrielle_LaPoste wrote:
    "So if a state government signs a contract with a union, it has to fulfill the contract. But if the federal government implements a social contract with an entire nation it should be able to welsh out of the deal when it runs low on cash? There's a convenient double standard."
    ====
    No I’m not saying that. If any entity truly can’t fulfill its contract, then it can’t do it, and you have to try something else. What else can you do? Eventually people are going to realize that generous union pension contracts (at the state and local level) are going to be impossible to fulfill, just as the “social contract”, I mean Ponzi Scheme, known as Social Security will be. It is inevitable
    ====
    "And as capitalist models go, if they can't survive on investment money and a reasonable profit, maybe they shouldn't be in business."
    ====
    I see, so who gets to determine what constitutes “reasonable profit”? You? The political whims of whoever happens to be in power? Yeah that sounds pretty fair.
    ====
    "Europe and Canada have some pretty good medical research going on. Maybe big Pharma ought to check out the competition and see what they are doing right?"
    ====
    It doesn’t even compare to the level of what we in the US are doing. Trust me I work in the biomedical/pharma R&D field so I know what I’m talking about.
    ====
    "That might work, but only if you can guarantee you won't later become a burden on the rest of society."
    ====
    Yes. As it is now, there will be no social security for me when I am old, so why would I want to keep paying for something I’ll never be able to use? I’d rather keep my money and be on my own than pay for something that won’t be available for me.
    ====
    "How much further below the poverty level would you like the elderly and disabled to live? Less than $10,000 a year isn't low enough?

    By the way, it's interesting how you keep avoiding the human cost of your benefit slashing and doing away with the social safety net."
    ====
    And it’s interesting that you keep avoiding reality, i.e. that we simply don’t have the money to pay for everyone’s health care and retirement the way we do now. No amount of anecdotal sob stories can change that. WE DON”T HAVE THE MONEY!!! Why is that so hard to understand? Our current SS, Medicare, Medicaid, and state/local pension obligations exceed the total wealth of our entire nation. So please explain to me in detail your plan to keep paying for all of these.

    I don’t know what we’re going to do about the poor and disabled that truly need help, but I do know that we can’t afford to pay for everyone’s retirement and health care. It simply can’t be done. And the sooner people realize that, the better off we’ll all be. You should try reality sometime, it is quite liberating.
    ====
    "Then again, your clear lack of compassion for anyone's plight but your own makes you eminently suitable to swim in their pond."
    ====
    I have plenty of compassion for people that deserve it. But that doesn’t mean I enjoy working like a slave in order to pay for a foolish “social contract” that never had a chance of working out in the long term. You obviously think that money grows on trees or something, or that people’s motivation to produce doesn’t change when you keep stealing ever larger amounts of the fruits of their labor.
    ====
    Look at the states with the highest marginal tax rates: NJ, NY, California.

    "Let's not, because once again you are comparing apples to oranges and attempting to impose a simplistic explanation on a complex issue."
    ====
    Nice way to avoid an argument that you would lose. Then please explain to me why the states with the largest budget problems are also those with the highest taxes?
    ====
    "It had no legal merits. The Supreme Court had absolutely no constitutional right to intervene in a state election and should have rejected the request"
    ====
    The SCOTUS had to every right to get involved to stop an unconstitutional recount that was in violation of the equal protection clause. Maybe that is not in your progressive copy of the Constitution. They absolutely had reason to get involved, since it was a national election. No counting of the votes EVER had Al Gore ahead, and after the election, a group of independent journalists and others did their own lengthy investigation, and they found that Bush won and Gore lost. Your guy lost, get over it.
    ======
    Equal Protection Clause
    The Supreme Court ruled 7–2 that the Florida Supreme Court's decision, calling for a statewide recount, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court held the Equal Protection Clause to guarantee to individuals that their ballots cannot be devalued by "later arbitrary and disparate treatment". Even if the recount was fair in theory, it was unfair in practice. The record, as weighed by the Florida Supreme Court, suggested that different standards were seemingly applied to the recount from ballot to ballot, precinct to precinct, and county to county.
    According to the per curiam opinion, the statewide standard (that a "legal vote" is "one in which there is a 'clear indication of the intent of the voter'"[29]) could not guarantee that each county would count the votes in a constitutionally permissible fashion. The per curiam opinion stated that its applicability was "limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities."

    Remedy
    The Court ruled 5–4 that no constitutionally valid recount could be completed by a December 12 "safe harbor" deadline. The Court asserted that "the Supreme Court of Florida has said that the legislature intended the State's electors to 'participat[e] fully in the federal electoral process,' as provided in 3 U.S.C. § 5." The Court therefore effectively ended the proposed recount, because "the Florida Legislature intended to obtain the safe-harbor benefits of 3 U. S. C. §5."

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  • 124. At 02:53am on 11 Mar 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    The debate above between Gavrielle_LaPoste and ClownD over Bush v. Gore isn't something which can be settled here. When you have a Supreme Court decision which is split five to four, with six opinions being published, either side can easily find authoritative arguments for her or his side. An entire book has been written on this decision, The Vote -- Bush, Gore & the Supreme Court, which is a collection of essays by eleven legal scholars (published by The University of Chicago Press, Sunstein & Epstein, editors).

    Pick your authority. I like Mr. Justice Souter's opinion (in dissent).

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