Friday, February 26, 2010

So, my workplace has been invaded by consultants. Of course there are myriad rumors and stories circulating throughout the hospital as to what kind of recommendations are being doled out. None of them are very popular. This is no shock. No big surprises. What really hurts about the whole process is that the rank and file employees look around and we realize that we are the only ones suffering the cuts. The lab has been told we have to "lose" three-four FTE's (Full Time Employees), that our couriers are going to be outsourced and that the registrars are going to be pulled from our outpatient drawing stations... In the middle of all this the hospital installs a 50'+ flatscreen HD TV as a "message board" that plays the hospitals advertising in a loop.

Our president and CEO of our president when he took the job a few months ago said that he wanted an open dialog with the employees. In this vein he started a blog and invited the staff of the hospital to comment. Today, on the blog, he announced that hospital will no longer be awarding the employees longevity bonuses. Well, I took him up on his invitation and commented on his blog post.

Here is what I told him:
"Look, I understand that we are in tight financial times. I understand that we want to become a leaner organization in anticipation of loss of revenue that might occur because of healthcare reform.

"What I do not understand is the places we’re (and when I say we, I am certainly not included, nor are most of the employees of the hospital) choosing to make cuts. We’re losing our longevity bonuses… fine. We’ve lost our pensions in favor of a more volatile, market-driven 403b… fine. We’ve lost our annual employee picnic… fine. We cannot even get coffee served during our annual in-service… I could go on and on about all the things the employees have and are forgoing for the financial health of the hospital. I get it; it’s not unreasonable. We’ve enjoyed a lot of benefits and perks you just don’t get at other jobs. But on the flipside, you’ve basically done away with any incentive to excel or enticements to retain your employees.

"This wouldn’t be so unpalatable if we didn’t have these efficiency "experts" here (whom we are paying assumptively a hefty sum for their sage advice) telling us we cannot keep blankets on the floors for the patients; cannot give them Italian Ice for their parched throats after surgery; that we have to shed FTE’s; that we might have to close laboratory drawing stations; that we’re going to outsource our couriers just as we have our employee health services; that we’re going to send out our Lyme testing to a third-party lab; that we’re going to centralize registration, increasing patients’ waiting time; and probably plenty more we’re probably not privy to just yet.

"So we’re cutting back on employee benefits and cutting corners in addressing the needs and comfort of our patients. This would be understandable if we were falling on hard financial times. But we’re not really, are we? Not yet… The hospital operated in the black this past year, in the face of the worst financial downturn in generations. I’m sure there are lessons we can learn from this economic slow-down; cuts to waste and improvements in efficiency we can implement that this recession opened our eyes to.

"All that would still be a bitter pill for most of us to swallow but I would like to think that if the need presented itself the staff of this hospital would make painful sacrifices. Well, that bitter pill becomes a slap in the face when the employees walk throughout the hospital and see the waste that’s evident everywhere we turn. The big-screen HD TV (and the man hours need to install it and pay the designers who create the content), the plexiglass signs everywhere; the fact that we’ve added two new members to the board of directors; the two new departments (”Organizational Excellence” and “Philanthropy and Development”); the fact that we have not only a Communications Dept but also a Corporate Communications dept, each with their own department head; the fact that the hospital employees a photographer and two graphic designers; that the physicians can still have their meetings catered while the employees cannot get coffee during our in-service; and on and on…

"I love this organization. It’s been one of the most fulfilling jobs I’ve ever labored at. But, sadly, those days and those feelings are behind me now."

This was his response:

Dear Matt:

Thank you for openly raising these issues. That’s the culture of openness we need.

You raise some issues, but there are facts that need to be addressed.

">> 'you’ve basically done away with any incentive to excel or enticements to retain your employees.'
Really, we’re trying to create greater incentives to excel. When everyone gets the same raise regardless of performance, that’s hardly an enticement or a reward. So we’re moving to a pay-for-performance model. When no one knows how or why the hospital makes (or loses) money, that’s no impetus to help us succeed. I want to make sure everyone understands what is important and what is expected. Retention is rewarded through solid performance and reflected in our ability to provide a very competitive retirement plan. The best retention plan we can provide is to continue to position ourselves in uncertain times for job preservation.

">> 'if we didn’t have these efficiency “experts” here…'
I have been here 10 years, and have seen any number of good ideas for efficiency and effectiveness get discussed, but too few get implemented. So, yes, we’re using experts (of course, they get paid), so we can grow more efficient and stay solvent. These “experts” are here to help all of us understand the data that drives decision to improve effectiveness through increased efficiencies. Direction 2010 is our program, not theirs. We have rejected certain ideas that may have worked elsewhere and might not be best here. Among those are some proposals to outsource services.

">> cannot give [patients] Italian Ice for their parched throats after surgery…
Maybe not Italian ice, but Popsicles, yes.

">> if we were falling on hard financial times. But we’re not really, are we? Not yet… The hospital operated in the black this past year.
We had a solid year last year, and many hospitals did not. We’re not off to a solid year this year (we’re $2,614,000 behind budget). The recession may be winding down, but uncertainly, and not for healthcare — and we are getting hit harder than ever with pressures to reimbursement. We saw, for the first time, surgical volume significantly drop-off in December. The burning platform is here, and the time to take action is now, when we can use an X-Acto knife, not when it’s too late and we need a chainsaw.

">> The big-screen HD TV (and the man hours need to install it and pay the designers who create the content)…
The Message Board has generated some question. Allow me to explain: It cost $1,500, which will be sponsored by a local business. The folks who design the content were designing posters, banners and flyers beforehand. They work for us, and they’ve retooled their jobs to make this messaging possible. The people who installed the Message Board are the people we pay to install items all over the hospital. This is a modern, very inexpensive, way to get our message out. This is a strategic communication investment and it is also a waste reduction initiative and “green” initiative. Through the use of sponsored message boards the goal is to reduce the high number of 8.5×11 flyers that get distributed, and unfortunately, taped to walls throughout the hospital and our off-site locations. The printed flyers cost money and use a large quantity of paper.

">> the plexiglass signs everywhere
As to signs, these are a direct result of employees’ comments following the Town Hall meetings where they felt it was important to display the pride we all share in being Backus team members and wanting the general public who visit us and our patients to understand “what we stand for.” This is a strategic investment in our team strength goal. These take the place of unsightly easels everywhere. They cost about $70 apiece. I think they send an important message to our staff, our patients and our visitors.

">> we’ve added two new members to the board of directors
Board members are volunteers. They don’t get paid. We are fortunate to have their expertise and commitment of their time.

">> the two new departments ('Organizational Excellence' and 'Philanthropy and Development')
These are new names for existing departments that have been re-focused: Quality Improvement and Backus Foundation, Inc.

">> we have not only a Communications Dept but also a Corporate Communications dept, each with their own department head
Corporate Communications is (and has been) a Division that includes Marketing, Public Relations, Volunteer Services and Development. It is, and has been, overseen by a Vice President. Communications is a department with one department head, when it formerly had two: one each for Marketing and Public Relations.

">> the hospital employees a photographer and two graphic designers
Starting last year, we hired a photographer and one designer and began to produce all our communications materials (newsletters, ads, videos, signs, magazines) in-house. We no longer use an external advertising and marketing agency. We are saving a great deal of money and producing high-quality work.

"We will continue to look for ways to improve our effectiveness with increased efficiencies and make the necessary strategic investments to be the leading source of healthcare services for the communities we serve, for decades to come.

"I hope this helps. I appreciate this chance to respond, and say thanks for putting these issues out there.


Frankly, no it doesn't help and no, I am not reassured...

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I had an active day... aside from work and cooking dinner, I found the time to write two Senators about job creation legislation. One of them was Senator Dodd, which is understandable - he is my senator, after all... The other one was John Kyl of Arizona, whom I loathe. The letter to Senator Dodd is below; my letter to senator Kyl is included in the body of my letter to Senator Dodd:

"I sent a message to Senator Kyl through his website, but since I am not from Arizona I am not going to hold my breath for a reply, action or even acknowledgement. I'm not even sure that his staff will actually show it to him, since I am not a constituent. But the obstructive action he is pursuing has far-reaching ramifications - it impacts unemployed workers in every state of the union, so I feel I have a right to make my displeasure with him known. Would be so kind as to read my letter to him on the floor of the Senate to let the Senator from Arizona know that the obstruction he is putting in the way of extending unemployment insurance and COBRA has enraged voters two thousand miles away. Here is the test of the message I sent to Senator Kyl:

"'Are you really blocking extensions of unemployment insurance and COBRA, which is going to expire in three days, because you want to talk about estate taxes? What is wrong with you? What is wrong with your priorities? You're willing to delay helping those most in need during these tough economic times to help the most privileged and affluent in this country? Are you that out of touch and removed from the stark reality that everyday people are facing in this country? You're more worried about multi-millionaires getting a tax cut than unemployed workers losing their benefits?

"'You should be ashamed of yourself. Your job is to represent the people of your state, not just the people of your state who are in a position to contribute the most to your campaign fund.'

"Thank you."

As of this moment, I haven't heard back from either one of them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The essence of Republican Politics

Charlie Crist, a moderate Republican and governor of Florida is running for the Senate to represent the state in the upcoming elections. His opponent in the primary, Mark Rubio, is considerably more conservative and is getting support from prominent Republicans and the party in general. One of the more prominent Republicans coming out to attack Crist on Rubio's behalf is former governor, Jeb Bush. In particular, he's been bashing Crist for his support of the 2009 stimulus bill, which has been more popular among (non-hypocritical) GOP governors than with conservative pundits and GOP congressmen, because when the rubber hits the road every state is, to a certain extent, dependent on federal funding - even more so in tough economic times. They are not as insular in their relationship to their constituents as members of congress are.

But Jeb Bush isn't bashing Charlie because the stimulus bill didn't make sound economic sense (it did) or failed to create jobs in Florida (it did) - Jeb Bush, despite all his rhetoric, would've taken the stimulus money as quickly as Crist did because Florida needed the money. Even for all their preening and preaching about the evils of the stimulus even Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford took the money offered to their states. No, Jeb Bush on the attack because Governor Crist's support of the stimulus is tantamount to "giv[ing] the president a huge victory."

Monday, February 22, 2010


So the whacko who flew his plane into the IRS building in Austin... you know the one who set his house on fire and filled his plane's tanks with gasoline so there would be a nice, big explosion? ...the one who killed an IRS office worker in the act of crashing his plane into a federal building? Well, his daughter, who lives in Norway, says that while his last actions may be inappropriate that he is a hero for his opposition to the government.

"...if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished," she said in an interview with ABC's Good Morning America. "But I do not agree with his last action with what he did. But I do agree about the government."

I'm sorry, but I don't care how righteous your cause may be or how angry you might be at the government. When you fill a plane's gas tank with highly-combustible fuel and fly it into a federal building, with the intent of harming the people who work in that building, you are not a hero. You're a terrorist. There is no level of populist rage, righteous indignation, etc., that would justify such an action. It doesn't matter if your cause is as justified as the civil rights movement, equal voting rights for women. The moment you cross the line and decide that violence against your fellow Americans is your chosen course of action you stop being a protestoe or activist and you become a vigilante, a terrorist. Joe Stack is no more a hero than Timothy McVeigh or Mohammed Atta and there should be no equivocating about that fact.

What really infuriate me however is that fact that Ms. Bell, Joe Stacks daughter, live in Norway and is saying that her father is a "hero" for standing up to the government. Norway? And you're spouting anti-government rhetoric? From Socialist Norway? Where the government pays for your healthcare and your education and you pay taxes as high as 49% of your wages? This person has room to talk about government controlling their life?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010


Originally uploaded by BigMisterC
Just playing around - seeing if I remember how to actually do anything. I would love to update my program (I am still using version 6.0 which more than 10 years old) but since I don't work as a designer any more it's a purchase that would be difficult to justify.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"My Stupid Mouth"

You would think John Mayer would have to write that song only once... perhaps it's time for a sequel, "My Stupid Mouth Has Gotten Me Into Some Really Deep Doo-doo This Time" might be an appropriate title.

Even though I really cannot come to his defense over the absolutely, bat-shit, insane comments he made in that Playboy interview, as a fellow white boy who is some times to clever for his own good I know how he feels. Thankfully, my mouth hasn't ever gotten me in quite as deep as this but I've pulled off my fair share verbal faux-pas's.

"Oh, another social casualty
Score one more for me
How could I forget?
Mama said "think before speaking"
No filter in my head
Oh, what's a boy to do
I guess he better find one soon"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Will you please just shut the hell up?

RNC chirman Michael Steele, über-tool and one-man running joke has been consistently and very vocally been complaining about the assertations that a great deal of the criticism directed toward President Obama have been motivated by racism. While I do not think that most criticism leveled at the president is racially motivated there is no question that the birthers and people claiming that he is a muslim/socialist/communist/marxist/etc. are motivated primarily by bigotry.

"I'm kinda sick and tired of the left and Democrats in this country when they get in trouble and don't get their way and their backs are up against the wall on legislation or whatever it is their trying to do, they go to that card, they play that race card, that slavery card, that civil rights card.

"Proud Americans, black and white, fought for too long and too hard to have the claim of racism be used in such a cavalier fashion. Blind charges of racism, where none exist, not only are an affront to those who have suffered the effects of racism, but it weakens our efforts to address true acts of racism and makes them more difficult to overcome.

I don't play the race card, I don't play the race game, the way some tend to want to do."

So, Michael Steele is against playing the race card. Got it. Check!

Interstingly though when addressing why he seems to garner so much more criticism and media attention than his Democratic counterpart the reasoning he uses is both familiar and ironic: "I don't see stories about the internal operations of the DNC that I see about this operation. Why? Is it because Michael Steele is the chairman, or is it because a black man is the chairman?" Personally, I think it's because Michael Steele is the chairman and Michael Steele is an obnoxious buffoon.


Click for a larger version
I've been wanting to show this graph from the Washington Post for a while but have kept forgetting to do so. It shows that the average country spends about $3,000 per person annually on healthcare. We spend over $7,000 per person with about $4,500 being spent by the government and $3,000 coming from private insurers. The return on our investment is sad... South Korea spends a quarter of what we do per citizen, has a higher life expectancy, while allowing their citizens to, on average, see a doctor more often and has universal coverage.

The debate shouldn't be about if we need healthcare reform. At the rate we're going it's going to bankrupt the country...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Any new ideas?

Why is it that the worst ideas just never seem to die? Michael Lind writes in about the two new ideas to come from the bright, new stars of the G.O.P.: attacking Iran and privatizing Social Security.

Sarah Palin suggests that if President Obama were to show stronger support for Israel and attack Iran that voters might perceive him as being "stronger." She says that he's not doing enough to make Americans feel safe and that he should pull out the "war card." I guess escalating the war in Afghanistan against the Taliban isn't enough. I guess that it's not enough that we're already occupying two Muslim nations in the Middle East. Let's make it a nice, round threesome! I'm sure that will resonate great with voters who are already tired of thousands of Americans dead in Iraq (for no good reason) and years of trying to tame Afghanistan (when no other nation in all of recorded history couldn't) and going into a trillion dollar deficit in the process. Is this what she would do if she were elected president in 2012!? "Gosh darnit, our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have done so much to make 'real Americans™' and our neighbors and friends in Israel and around the world, we need to continue the good work of the Bush Doctrine and declare war on every Muslim nation in the Middle East."

The other bright idea, privatizing Medicare has been around for so long that I actually laugh when I hear it. I was simply and utterly shocked when the GOP's ranking member on the House Budget Committee actually announced the contents of the party's "shadow bill." It privatizes Social Security, has vouchers for Medicare and completely does away with Medicaid.

"That's what Americans are demanding, Rep. Ryan. Millions of Americans are not content to have lost much or all of their 401K and other private retirement savings in the stock market in the last decade, with nothing but Social Security remaining to rescue them in their retirement years. No, Americans are angry because they weren't allowed to lose all of their Social Security money, as well, in the stock market." You'd think with all the populist backlash against Wall Street giving themselves big bonuses after driving the economy into a ditch the last thing you want to do is give them all the government's money for Americans' retirements. That's like arriving at the scene of an accident caused by a drunk driver and instead of arresting them you give them a bigger, more expensive car and a case of liquor and send them on their merry way.

Friday, February 5, 2010


So a lot of terms are flying around in the news recently with the election of Scott Brown and the Democrats loss of their super-majority. Terms like "hold," "filibuster," "cloture." None of them have anything to do with the actual work of creating legislation, or the actual work we elect our senators to do. Instead, they pertain to procedural rules that dictate how the senate goes about its business.

The first term, a hold, has to do with simply bringing an item to the senate floor. As a rule, the senate puts in place a set of guidelines as to how business will be conducted about a bill, nominee approval, etc. This is done by what their rules call a unanimous consent agreement. When a senator places a "hold" on an item being considered by the senate he's basically saying, "Look, I am saying up front that I am going to do everything I can to obstruct the deliberation of this
item." It's an indication that they intend to filibuster.

Now... a filibuster is often thought of as a means to defeat a bill, which is what it was intended to be. It's a way for the minority to keep the majority in check. So, if someone decides to filibuster a
bill, it's not really going to matter one whit if they don't have to 40 votes in place to back them up, right? Well, yes and no... To break a filibuster the majority leader, Harry Reid has to invoke cloture. The first step is to file the motion for cloture; once that is done no action can be taken on that bill for two days. Then the vote is made to inoke cloture, which breaks the "hold" and business can proceed on that bill. ...but only after a 30 hour post-vote debate period. Then the motion to proceed on the bill can itself be filibustered, along with each amendment attached to the bill. Each of these require their own 2 days of inactivity and 30 hour post-debate period.

In the end, while a filibuster may not actually defeat a bill it can seriously delay and slow down the action in congress. A bill, even an uncontroversial bill such as extending unemployment benefits or continuing funding for our troops in Iraq, or a nomination as uncontroversial as our embassador to Ethiopa (we still do not have one) could take a week and a half to pass instead of a simple vote on the day the bill was introduced.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Surprise, surprise...

Senate republicans are filibustering the new job creation bill...

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!

I know I've pointed out numerous time in various places the extreme measures that the G.O.P. has been employing since last year to completely and utterly delay, if not derail, the legislative process. Holds have been placed on every single nomination on not just cabinet level nominations, but on all levels, many of whom are not in the least way controversial. The filibuster has been invoked on over 90% of all legislation, including bills that are eventually passed unanimously, such as a bill to extend unemployment benefits with passed the Senate 90-0. And it is the Senate where this is a unique problem. Here is just one example: Craig Becker has been nominated to serve on the National Labor Relations Board; Senator McCain has placed a hold on his nomination back in July and that hold is still in effect. During this time Mr. Becker has answered over 280 submitted written questions from various senators and is still awaiting confirmation. A hold on a nomination, from a purely theoretical viewpoint makes lots of sense. A senator places a hold, so that a nominee can be more thoroughly vetted. Whatever committee that senator sits upon can then ask the nominee questions, hold further hearings and get more testimony from references, for or against, said nominee. But it is being used for sheer political reasons at this point. That was why we did not have a Surgeon General during the H1N1 scare. That was why there was no one in charge at the National Travel Safety Board (and still isn't) when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to destroy an airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day. (Mr Southers, the nominee for the position withdrew his nomination on Jan 20th, in frustration perhaps? - Thank Jim DeMint for that.) At President George W. Bush's one year mark there were 70 nominees still awaiting confirmation, which shows that both sides play this game. But at President Obama's 365th day in office there were 177 nominees still awaiting confirmation. What's worse is that dozens and dozens of those nominees are slated to work in areas affecting the U.S.'s safety and foreign policy - in the midst of two wars! There is no one at the head of the Office of Legal Counsel (that would have been the guy in W's administration who wrote the torture memos.) There was no undersecretary for the Western Hemisphere, whose duties include coordinating our response to events in South America, during the constitutional crisis in Honduras.

What puzzles, as well as alarms me, is that people in this country do not a) care about this or b) are simply not aware of this. The rest of the world has certainly taken notice as U. S. embassies around the world sat empty due to the lack of an ambassador, China hasn't been fully engaged on currency exchange policy due to staffing shortages in the Treasury Department... And why? Because the senate G.O.P. has the legislative process hog-tied and locked up in a closet in an attempt to paint the Democrats as unable to get things done.

By the way, do know how many of the 280 written questions submitted to Mr. Becker were submitted by Senator McCain?

Z E R O !

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Waffles, Anyone?

Senator John McCain has reversed himself on the issue of Don't Ask,
Don't Tell... Three years ago, addressing a group of students at Iowa
State University he said, "The day that the leadership of the military
comes to me and says, 'Senator, we ought to change the policy,' then I
think we ought to consider seriously changing it." That sounds
reasonable enough, right? Well, "that day" came yesterday. Secretary
of Defense Gates and Adm Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs Chairman both
testified in congress saying that it is time to do away with the
discriminatory policy. Admiral Mullen said during the testimony that
it is, "the right thing to do" and that he was personally troubled by
the armed services forcing service members to "lie about who they are
in order to defend their fellow citizens."

So how did the Maverick react? He was "disappointed" at the testimony
of both Admiral gates and Secretary Gates and went on to say, "At this
moment of immense hardship for our armed services, we should not be
seeking to overturn the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," and went on
to say that the policy is "imperfect but effective."

So, my questions are piling up:
Is this a reversal of his prior position? If so, it is simply because
it's being presented by a Democratic administration and he's going to
facing a more conservative primary opponent back home? Was he secretly
hoping that our military leaders would never call for an end to the

All of that is secondary though. I am waiting (in vain, I know) for
someone in the media to call him out on this position switch. If this
were John Kerry or Al Gore or any other former Democratic presidential
front-runner capitulating on a position like this, Rush Limbaugh,
Michael Steele and any number of vocal GOP legislators would be in
front of the cameras talking about how (to paraphrase) "It's a good
thing that we didn't elect this wishy-washy, waffling, flip-flopper as
president; this is just further illustrates that he is unfit to lead
this great nation of ours."

...I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I {heart} Yogurt

I do! I love yogurt. I grew up eating the stuff. When I was a kid I
used to take one of the good, old-fashioned Dannon,
fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts, take off the top, throw that bad boy in a
bowl and poke a hole in the bottom. Then I'd lift off the container
and watch the fruit cascade over the whole thing. It was awesome; I'd
rather have that than a bowl of ice cream. Sadly, as an adult, yogurt
has let me down. What gives with these tiny portions? The fruit
blended into the yogurt so that it looks like some badly made custard?

But recently I had Chobani yogurt for the first time... what an
improvement over the other anemic brands. It's thick, it's creamy...
and the fruit is at the bottom! Yesterday I had their pomegranate
yogurt and it had the actual pomegranate seeds in it! Today I had the
pineapple and it transported me back to my youth. Eating it, I felt
like I was at my parents kitchen table on Cliff Street staring out the
window into the back yard. I actually licked the container clean.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Bolshevic Plot

If you haven't seen the President's Q&A session with the house
republicans on C-Span, you really should. Even (maybe especially) if
you do not like the president, you should really check it out. Not
only was there a huge range of topics covered from the deficit, to
lobbyists working within the administration, to healthcare reform to
just a whole slew of things. It was candid and cordial, but the
president showed that his grasp of issues as well as GOP stances on
any given subject is substantial. He's read their proposed legislation
and understands their views. And he doesn't hesitate to call them out
on the fact that even though the proposed healthcare reform bill
contains a LOT of initiatives that they themselves have proposed in
the past and that the bill is a very centrist piece of legislation
that they oppose it for nothing other than political reasons.


"The component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard
Baker, Bob Dole and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this
debate last year. Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard
Baker and Tom -- and certainly you don't agree with Tom Daschle on
much ...


"... but that's not a radical bunch. But if you were to listen to the
debate, and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you'd
think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot.


"No, I mean, that's how you guys -- that's how you guys presented it.

"And so I'm thinking to myself, 'Well, how is it that a plan that is
pretty centrist ...'

"No, look, I mean, I'm just saying -- I know you guys disagree, but if
you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would
say this is actually what many Republicans -- it -- it's similar to
what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his
debate on health care.

"So all I'm saying is we've got to close the gap a little bit between
the rhetoric and the reality.

"I'm not suggesting that we're going to agree on everything, whether
it's on health care or energy or what have you, but if the way these
issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some
wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives,
what happens is you guys then don't have a lot of room to negotiate
with me.

"I mean, the fact of the matter is is that many of you, if you voted
with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in
your own base, in your own party. You've given yourselves very little
room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you've been telling
your constituents is, 'This guy's doing all kinds of crazy stuff
that's going to destroy America.'

"And I -- I would just say that we have to think about tone.

"It's not just on your side, by the way. It's -- it's on our side as
well. This is part of what's happened in our politics, where we
demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting
things done, it becomes tough to do."


It is indeed tough to get anything accomplished. Sadly, it even harder
for the GOP to find any common ground or wiggle room to make a
compromise. For a whole year they've been painting themselves into a
corner by playing on the fears of their base and their constituents
and spreading misinformation about death panels, government takeovers
of the healthcare system, socialism, etc. For them to reverse
themselves and come to the table and negotiate at this point they are
going to have to lose face with their voters and the conservative
elements within their party. (Not to mention that Glenn Beck and his
ilk are going to call them a bunch of un-patriotic traitors.) The
president has "called them out" on their over-politicization of the
issues, but he's doing it with an open hand. He's giving them a chance
to come to the table and talk, without undue recrimination or laying
of blame. To be honest, I'm sure that the door has always been open to
them but with his back-and-forth with the GOP on C-Span (not that too
many people aside from true political junkies watch it - I rarely
watch it, myself.) the president has turned on the Klieg lights and
shown that he's not only willing to work with them, but understands
their stance on the various issues.

They can continue to hold up the process, filibuster the hell out of
every bill to go through the senate, and obstruct the Democratic
agenda or they can stop the nonsense and the lying and take part in
the process. Last I checked, that's the way Democracy is supposed to
work. If the majority of the people elect you (and your agenda) into
office that should be a clear-enough signal of what they want