Monday, March 29, 2010


From a campaign rally where Sarah Palin was appearing in support of John McCain:

"Kaylie Chriss, a registered Republican, said she remained undecided about who to vote for in the primary election but felt Palin's appearance would boost McCain.

"'It definitely helps him,' she said. 'It gets him a lot more support from people who may not have heard of him.'"

Really? He's running for what? ...his forthieth six-year term as a U.S. Senator? He was um... let me think... the Republican nominee for president or something like that, right? The name is familiar but I cannot quite put my finger on how I know him...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Decision Time

Via Ezra Klein

"Looks like David Frum has been fired from the American Enterprise Institute. The sin appears to be his recent criticism that lockstep Republican opposition to the health-care bill sacrificed conservative policy goals at the altar of short-term electoral incentives. This, apparently, is out of bounds. But he should know that: This dismissal comes after he left the National Review on the heels of bitter arguments over whether Sarah Palin was qualified to be president.
What you're seeing here is the tension between being a conservative and being a Republican. It's not that you can't be both at the same time, but that you have to know which wins when ideological push comes to electoral shove.


"Moreover, there was no doubt the bill looked like the reforms Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts and that the conservative Heritage Foundation advocated in the early Aughts. There's no doubt that it was more ideologically conservative than any major reform bill that had come before it. But none of that played any role in the party's rhetoric. Any time you heard someone calling this bill a 'takeover of one-sixth of the economy,' it was pretty good evidence that you could write that commentator off entirely.

"As Frum saw clearly, if you were interested in a conservative health-care system, there was room for compromise in this bill. If Republicans had cut a deal on revenue, we could've capped the tax break for employer-sponsored insurance and there would've been no increase in Medicare payroll taxes. Health savings accounts and tort reform could've been much larger parts of the bill. A system of reinsurance for catastrophic costs, as Sen. Chuck Grassley once proposed, was certainly on the table. If Republicans had offered 40 real votes for Wyden-Bennett, I would've been on their side in this debate."

I cannot agree more. There are a lot of conservative ideas present in this law and not a single conservative Republican would get behind it. Their political aspirations trumped their policy philosophy and they lost on both counts. Concessions were made numerous time to try and build bipartisan support for the bill - mostly by moderate Democrats. This bill is not just centrist, it's centrist leaning to the right. Is it perfect? No. Would Republican input have made this law better? That is debatable, but it certainly would have made it more comprehensive.

They rolled an awfully big pair of dice playing the obscure and obstruct game and came up bust. The gamble only would have payed off if they could have stopped the legislation from becoming law. If they had succeeded, the defeated bill and its details would have become a memory recalled as only a closely-contested, nail-biting defeat of government intrusion into peoples' health care; the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship kept pure from an over-reaching federal authority with shades of socialism.

What's going to happen though is that as aspects of the law are enacted one after another and people see how horrible the GOP distorted the facts and tried to derail the debate public opinion is going to turn against them. It's already happening. Public opinion polls already have the new law, the Democrats and President Obama tracking higher than before passage. The big question is do they reconsider their strategy and stop the obstruction that they are already ratcheting up? they give up the heated rhetoric designed to whip their base into a even greater furor? Or do they start reaching across the aisle as Lynsey Graham has on immigration reform? Or do they stay ideologically pure and further relegate themselves to the sidelines?

Enough already...

This blog is an outlet for me to blow off steam, vent my frustrations and hone my writing. Nothing that appears here is directed at any one individual, with the exception of this one post. This blog is tied into my notes on Facebook and I do not plan on severing that connection.

If you're offended, stop reading my little rants. I don't do this for your edification and I certainly do not get paid to write this blog. I am willing to talk policy if you're willing to discuss actual facts and nothing that comes from Glenn Beck's chalkboard. I am willing to engage in intelligent, fact-based conversation but don't talk to me about stupid tripe like President Obama is unpatriotic because he "refuses to wear a lapel pin."

I will not suffer conservative rhetoric or talking points in conversations I have with anyone. Terms like "apology tour," "Obamacare," socialism in relation to our government's policies will immediately throw a wall up between us. It only tells me that you are willing to let someone else put their words in your mouth and their thoughts in your noggin. It leads me to believe that you are unwilling to think for yourself. There has been a gross amount of misinformation and outright lies spread by conservative politicians - I expect it from them. I expect better from my friends and family. Maybe that's not a realistic expectation... who knows.

You are entitled to your opinion, just as I am. Do not feel obligated to point out the fallacy of my point of view. If you do feel compelled, in your disagreement, to point out what I say to be misguided, misrepresented or ill-conceived, consider yourself warned that I will argue my point vigorously. Be aware also that I will not argue my point with anything other than substantiated, broadly-accepted facts and expect the same from you.

This is my playground and those are my rules.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Crazy Never Goes Out of Style in Some Circles

In 1961 when Ronald Reagan was campaigning against Medicare he said, "[I]f you don't [stop Medicare] and I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free." That's pretty much the jist of the message the GOP has been hammering non-stop since Health Care reform passed in the house. According to them, we are now one black-booted goosestep away from becoming a totalitarian, socialist country. On April 19th (the anniversery of Wako and the Oklahoma City bombing) there is a march being planned in Washington D.C. - and the organizers are encouraging its participants to come armed. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is tweeting "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: 'Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!' Pls see my Facebook page." Bricks have been tosesed through the windows of local Democratic Headquarters and the office of Representatives Louise Slaughter and Gabrielle Giffords in reaction the HCR becoming law. Some Tea Party leaders gave out (what they thought was) the address of a Virgina congressman who had voted for reform so that they could "drop by and say hi and express their thanks regarding his vote for health care." They slashed the propane line leading to the home. And just a few weeks ago a batshit insane, anti-tax reactionary flew his fully-fueled plane into a federal building.

...and they accused President Obama of palling around with terrorists?

For me, the G.O.P. lost all relevance and any claim to the moral higher ground when they courted disaffected southern Democrats who felt betrayed when the party turned their backs on them and enacted civil rights legislation for black Americans. From that point on they have been on the wrong side of history with very few exceptions. H. W. Bush's showing restraint during the first Gulf War and leaving Saddam Hussein in power is good example. An infinitely unpopular decision at the time but one that the last eight years on the ground in Iraq have show to be a prudent one. Many, many conservative consider dear, old Ronnie not just one of the best presidents in recent history, but in the entire history of the United States - more than Lincoln and Washington combined. To them, he is the very epitome of what the president should be. According to them, He should be added to Mount Rushmore and replace Grant on the $50 bill. Reagan was an amazing politician and an horrific president. Decried "tax and spend" Democrats while burying us in a huge deficit with runaway military spending. He liked to talk tough about America protecting and defending democracy while selling weapons to the sandinistas and secretly empowering Iran and the mujahideen in Afghanistan (who eventually morphed into the Taliban.)

And not much has changed since the days of the Gipper. least not for the GOP. And they want to keep it that way. The bad news for them is that the world has changed around them, the country's values are and have been shifting without them even noticing. Why else would they call natural progress toward a more pratical (and universal) healthcare system treasonous and socialist? Is it any surprise that they're still the using the bogeyman of the shadow of the red menace of Communism (thank you Sen. McCarthy) to try and scare people into opposing issues?

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I am way too fat. Too fat for my own good and my own health. When I step on my digital scale at home the slightly annoying voice intones the damage: Two-hundred and sixty-eight pounds. As my drill seargent in my Army basic training used to say, "That's too much Coburn..." This isn't the heaviest I've ever weighed, but it's damn close. In the mid to late 80's I was hovering around the 300 pound mark. Now, I can carry quite a bit of weight easily; I have broad shoulders and wide hips - a frame built for abuse and heavy loads. If I were an automobile, I'd be a small, practical pick-up truck.

My cardiologist wants me to lose 100 pounds, which is bit much in my opinion. I think I weighed more than that after basic training. Personally, if I could lose the sixty-eight and make it an even 200 I'd be a happy camper. I know I would feel a lot happier and be a lot healthier.

But here's the rub...

I seriously lack the motivation. Yes, I want to be around for my children and granchildren; I want to feel better physically; I want to reduce the strain on my back; I want to fit into the majority of my wardrobe again; yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah... I am more than fully aware of the benefits to be reaped by dropping the weight not only through the generally-accepted common sense thinking on the subject but through practical experience as well. Here is the problem: My work life sucks. My career has morphed into a job. The wonderful institution for which I used to work has been reduced to simply the place I go to punch a clock everyday. My preoccupation with the misery of my workplace that it overwhelms and pushes aside the care I need to give myself.

Give me some encouragement, please...

Monday, March 15, 2010

@!*#! Daylight Savings Time

Do we really need this still? Isn't it time to do away with this antiquated, asinine custom? I know it's supposed to (in theory) help save energy, help promote retail business, lessen automobile accidents in the afternoons, yadda, yadda, yadda... I don't care. I want a good night sleep.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Harry Reid has discovered his spine. In a letter he sent to Mitch McConnell he told him in no uncertain terms that the Democrats in the Senate are going to pass the healthcare bill via reconciliation. ...or Ezra Klein from the Washington Post put it, "Reconcile this!" Here is part of the letter Reid sent to the Senate minority leader:

"Though we have tried to engage in a serious discussion, our efforts have been met by repeatedly debunked myths and outright lies. At the same time, Republicans have resorted to extraordinary legislative maneuvers in an effort not to improve the bill, but to delay and kill it. After watching these tactics for nearly a year, there is only one conclusion an objective observer could make: these Republican maneuvers are rooted less in substantive policy concerns and more in a partisan desire to discredit Democrats, bolster Republicans, and protect the status quo on behalf of the insurance industry.[...]

"60 Senators voted to pass historic reform that will make health insurance more affordable, make health insurance companies more accountable and reduce our deficit by roughly a trillion dollars. The House passed a similar bill. However, many Republicans now are demanding that we simply ignore the progress we've made, the extensive debate and negotiations we've held, the amendments we've added (including more than 100 from Republicans) and the votes of a supermajority in favor of a bill whose contents the American people unambiguously support. We will not. We will finish the job. We will do so by revising individual elements of the bills both Houses of Congress passed last year, and we plan to use the regular budget reconciliation process that the Republican caucus has used many times.

"I know that many Republicans have expressed concerns with our use of the existing Senate rules, but their argument is unjustified. There is nothing unusual or extraordinary about the use of reconciliation. As one of the most senior Senators in your caucus, Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, said in explaining the use of this very same option, 'Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don't think so.' Similarly, as non-partisan congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein said in this Sunday's New York Times, our proposal is 'compatible with the law, Senate rules and the framers' intent.'

"Reconciliation is designed to deal with budget-related matters, and some have expressed doubt that it could be used for comprehensive health care reform that includes many policies with no budget implications. But the reconciliation bill now under consideration would not be the vehicle for comprehensive reform – that bill already passed outside of reconciliation with 60 votes. Instead, reconciliation would be used to make a modest number of changes to the original legislation, all of which would be budget-related. There is nothing inappropriate about this. Reconciliation has been used many times for a variety of health-related matters, including the establishment of the Children's Health Insurance Program and COBRA benefits, and many changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

"As you know, the vast majority of bills developed through reconciliation were passed by Republican Congresses and signed into law by Republican Presidents – including President Bush's massive, budget-busting tax breaks for multi-millionaires. Given this history, one might conclude that Republicans believe a majority vote is sufficient to increase the deficit and benefit the super-rich, but not to reduce the deficit and benefit the middle class. Alternatively, perhaps Republicans believe a majority vote is appropriate only when Republicans are in the majority. Either way, we disagree. Keep in mind that reconciliation will not exclude Republicans from the legislative process. You will continue to have an opportunity to offer amendments and change the shape of the legislation. In addition, at the end of the process, the bill can pass only if it wins a democratic, up-or-down majority vote. If Republicans want to vote against a bill that reduces health
care costs, fills the prescription drug 'donut hole' for seniors and reduces the deficit, you will have every right to do so."