The Filibuster, Democracy, and the Public Option

Obama, in his short tenure as leader of the free world - has made amazing strides. Facing his first test as a leader, he chose to support a strong healthcare reform package that contained meaningful provisions to enable competition, better healthcare, lower cost and options where none existed before.

Senators like Joseph Lieberman, the Bush Republicans, and members of the GOP who have been squarely opposed to any kind of meaningful reform - are planning to participate in something called a filibuster.  

A filibuster is when American citizens subsidize the US Senate to do absolutely nothing for them, whatsoever.  Senators get up before the body of gathered - or as the case may be - absent - representatives, and draw salary for having done such things as read their wife's favorite recipes, from a recipe book - read the dictionary, and go over long articles written in journals and magazines. In general, the form of debate that Joseph Lieberman is stating he will be interested in joining - is a maneuver that attempts to shut down the senate by making it impossible to act.

The Public have spoken loudly about their option. According to a recent Wall Street Journal Poll, 72% of Americans support this meaningful healthcare reform and all Americans support, through their taxes, the salaries and lifestyles of those senators who will be participating in the filibuster against the reform they requested and supported - which also happens to be the reform that the GOP has openly stated they will try to destroy simply to humiliate our president and make it his "Waterloo" (their words, not mine)(after all, it +was+ a great song by Abba, too.. wasn't it).

And yet the wheels of democracy turn to support the minority and give them strength. And that is what makes the senate great - the filibuster makes the senate a civil chamber, and gives power to those such as the Bush Republicans - whose power was rightly taken away from them after abuses and misgovernance left our country an economic wreck, deeply involved in an expensive war of convenience against a country that did not attack us - and the greatest expansion of both government secrecy and government size - in the history of our country.  

Another historical moment approaches. The changing of the guard to a new, effective, transparent, and responsive government. Led by Barack Obama, and Sen. Harry Reid.  

It is the evolution of democracy - the era of smart government approaches. Lobbyism , and its 1.2 million dollar per day price tagged attempt to subvert democracy - has seen a staggering defeat in the transport of a bill to the floor with strong measures for reform and change.

And lobbyism will not be saved by men like Joe Lieberman, and the Republican party.  This is where the filibuster will be rightly seen as a tool to help keep the Senate honorable, and honest - and at the same time - it will also be where Americans will be able to see with stunning clarity exactly what wasting time will look like.

The question of whether or not attempting to filibuster a hugely popular president, trying to bring about hugely popular reform - is a waste of time. Is left to the reader.

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Why Obama's Plan will Succeed

Obama's plan borrowed heavily from several ideas that really work - both in the free market and in other countries. His strategy has been inclusive, and above all - the mandate that all americans carry healthcare - specifically deals with serious issues. We all have drivers licenses. We should all have healthcare. For those who don't its just a matter of time before we have to pay for them.

Obama is also seeing reactions like the representative who called him out as a liar, in congress - having his opponent raise more than 300 percent more money than him in a single given period - and a large jump in the initial polling - this is commensurate with the fact that 76% of Americans want serious, substantive, real reform in healthcare.

Why do you think he's going to win?

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Health Care : Dollar for Dollar Match Today

The DCCC is going to match all donations, dollar for dollar for anyone who wants to donate.

They are 50,000.00 away from their goal. Now, in this atmosphere of largely apolitical activity - this is also a perfect excuse to show how weak the blogosphere is. The lobbyists would love to be able to claim that their side of the toast is where the butter will be found - However,

IF you want to put the lobbyists in their place -feel free to follow the link and donate. The DCCC is 50,000.00 away from their grassroots goal of 250,000.00 to raise by midnight tonight, there's alot to be said for money well spent, so please consider a small contribution.

Yes, even the the Blue Dogs are going to have to fight for whatever reform is to be made, and I know you would like to have the Blue Dogs whipped into line, but my point here is that you're still going to need all the strength in the party main and lets face it, how are we going to whip the blue dogs in line, while the lobbyists are saying the pajama clad bloggers are all asleep? There's a time and a place to spend money. If you spend it today, every dollar you give will be matched one for one.

Go for it!

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Community Rating, and the Key Question

Should we be eligible to sign up for a program that we pay for - which is offered to members of congress, and military veterans?

Ever since the lobbyists began their takeover of our country, we have paid ever more increasing percentage of the overall tax burden, while corporations - who pay the lobbyists - pay ever less. We already pay for it, and to extend it to us - is as simple as opening up a web-based registration, require web-only enrollment and billing - and do away with the crazy 'primary care' stuff thats going on right now in the HMO world, and just cover procedures at a fair rate.

Now, to get to whats fair. Hawaii, a while back - had a great system where most people were covered, if you weren't covered on one - they had a state plan where you were covered on another - and as a result- they had everyone staying smart and chasing down the rates that work the best - there was none of this all-over-the-map billing that is going on now.

We can enforce community rating, which means that the Insurance companies - instead of breaking us all up into ever-smaller groups (and if they could, it would be a group of one, so they could avoid toxic pools) and charging us ever-more for insurance - they would have to rate us nationally. That would effectively be the same thing as a national healthcare plan, assuming we could get free market competition to drive prices down.

Will people do the smart thing - if there was an 800 pound gorilla in the industry that could set prices?

Only if in the legislation we are allowed to negotiate them. The people who are writing the Healthcare legislation we see coming out of commitee are taking a page straight out of the Bush Administration - one of the most corrupt administrations in all of American history .. and hindering the federal government's right as a big buyer, to negotiate lower costs.

Does anyone remember that overhaul to - I think it was medicare - where the federal government gave this drug card away to senior citizens?  Listen to this: the level of corruption caused by the lobbyists was so great, that they wrote into the legislation that the federal government could not negotiate bulk discount purchase prices for drugs. Think if you were required , every time you went to buy donuts - to pay the price of one donut , 12 times, for every dozen you needed.

Well, they're doing that now. It seems to me that the Massachusetts model is very broken. Do we want to provide a decent product that really shakes things up -

The question may very well be - given that the lobbyists are pumping so much money into the Democratic party right now -
will the Democratic party , be the party of smart government, and real change ...?

Or will it be the party of "just a little less corruption".
We are watching the real turning point in Obama's administration, and if legislators like Max Baucus fail
the American people and their president - we will end up with a huge package that doesn't do anyone any good.

My wife is in another country right now, because she's a stroke survivor and she can get better, less expensive care.  This is just crazy.

Is this America?

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Health Care Reform: Lobbyists Win Round One

The special interests and lobbyists that are dedicated to not only bringing down Healthcare reform, and striking the Public Option - have won round one. Why?

Because they are pumping money into the problem, and this money has to be laundered - increasing the amount of time the legislation is on the loading dock, only heightens the chances for corruption. Again, both sides of the aisle - with the lobbyist money actually increasing in the Democratic party.
This chart illustrates.




from Open Secrets: Diagnosis Health Care Reform

This is an incredible amount of money to be spent.  And it will have an immediate effect, the longer it continues. The lobbyists know that healthcare reform is hugely popular, and the GOP has made no secret that they are trying to make this issue Obama's 'Waterloo' - we should not make the mistake that partisan divisions will determine the outcome. That is a red herring the lobbyists would love you to follow.

The real outcome will be determined from an independent, senator by senator, and representative by representative   committee vote. Individual votes are where the lobbyists are going with this issue, and the delays they buy today translate directly into dollars - by some estimates as high as 1.4 million dollars per day.

The vote on this legislation, especially if it has meaningful provisions for healthcare reform - will be epic, and close - In my view it will be largely due to how the legislation is drafted - the right provisions can be a rallying cry to the public - the wrong provisions or language will bury the bill in the waste-heap of every other failed measure. Obscure language and complicated ideas will be a tool, as will the concept that such legislation is destructive - despite a pronounced positive effect shown in many other countries - such as Britain, who started their National Health Service - as a way of saying thank you to the returning Veterans of World War II

We must not underestimate the power that many to many communications mediums have granted us - the lobbyists may have won round one. In order to win round two, we must expose the level of money they're spending - and maintain an open dialogue the senators and congresspersons responsible for carrying this vote.  

Ask yourself these questions.

  • Who are the high-profile industries with a stake in the debate, and what are their efforts at politicking?

  • Who are the  less obvious players, and how do they stand to benefit?
  • What, exactly, is the pharmaceutical industry spending more than $1 million per day to lobby on?
  • Where are the health-professionals-turned-lawmakers getting their campaign cash and how they feel about the various proposals?

  • There are five major congressional committees with legislation on the table--Senate Finance; Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; House Education and Labor; House Ways and Means; House Energy and Commerce - Where are their  sources of campaign funds?

  • Who in of Congress is invested in pharmaceutical and insurance companies that will be affected by how they legislate?

When I first joined myDD I thought of it as "My Due Diligence", and even though its now "My Direct Democracy" I fail to see the difference.  Pick at least one of these bullet points, maybe two - and just see if you can't find a way to make it work.  
Do you have any thoughts on this issue?  Did I miss anything?

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Obama on Healthcare: My Concern

I am deeply concerned about the administrations approach to healthcare. The fix that they are proposing is "a mechanism to lower costs and keep the private sector honest"

Is it a public plan open to all employers and individuals, and paying the same as Medicare?

Discuss!

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Happy Easter MyDD'ers

Happy Easter to all bloggers, denizens, lurkers, top posters, bottom posters, trolls, and writers of this generally fun to be around hangout we call myDD.

Have a Great Day!

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An Independents View: Support Same Sex Marriage

I am a christian, a bona fide independent, and a happily married man (15 years this fall).  My wife and I are willing to cross to either side of the aisle for legislation that we feel makes our country better. We voted for Obama last year, and have in the past supported Reagan, Clinton, and Dean, Gingrich, Webb, and Feingold.

I've never voiced support for same sex marriage, and had in the past criticized the GLBT for being mostly reactive. The primary focus of the GLBT seemed to be to get several lawsuits in place that would set precedent law and essentially -  legislate from the bench. The last wave of this approach will find itself dashed against the rocks of the California Supreme Court this week, when they will decide not to overrulle proposition eight.

So that approach wasn't epic fail. But it was not successful either.  And I was a critic of it. Still am.

And now I say, in all seriousness - that my view of Same Sex Marriage is that its time to get legislation in place to legalize it. Why?

Well, first off - for personal reasons. My uncle was a priest in the episcopal church that helped get the issues surrounding this topic out into the world. We supported him, and still do. His son is gay. That means I have a very happily married gay cousin (they went to Spain to get hitched and now spend their days in a sun bleached Casa de Playa).

And because, I honestly believe that if two people want to have the legal right to have a marital squabble, for the sake of the Good lord, just let them! The types of recognition that are provided by society here - really aren't so valuable that they'll be really  missed - these two lovebirds can file a joint tax return, get someone out of the hospital, adopt kids, etc.  - Let them have it. The IRS can handle the workload and I am sure the hospitals are happy to see family and friends and spouse around their cold white walls. Don't get me started about kids. I swear, they're like donuts. One is great... two.. three... you get the picture.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly to my many friends in the GLBT community - its because now, if you seek this process through legislation. You will win. And thats what I'm here for. I helped my deep red state to get carried for Obama by 68% of the primary vote. And I am more than willing to help these guys finish their agenda.  As long as I can play golf every now and then on the weekends, I'm game for it.

I supported Dean in 2004 - I did so because the guy could balance a budget - not because he was some kind of champion for civil unions. But trust me, the masterminds behind his campaign were the GLBT - they were the first 100k of his campaign. The fact that Dean ran a somewhat badly managed campaign (a fact that Joe Trippi will try to deny) more or less killed support amongst my crowd for him - we saw the most money ever raised online - disappear all too rapidly offline. Again, the leadership of the GLBT at the time was largely to blame. And of course, Joe. But he will deny that.

But as to the issue of civil unions -  Dean, as governor of Vermont - wanted  Vermont legislature decide the issue. Not the courts. Hello, was anyone listening?  Today, it looks like Civil Unions will go one step farther in Vermont - and we'll see same sex marriage legalized. Good for them. And through the right channel - the legislative channel. No expensive lawsuits. No legislation from the bench.

And if the majority support it, then it should be so. Remember,
the religious fundamentalists were the ones who got our economy out of balance in the first place with their pie-in-the-sky foreign and economic policies championed under the Bush administration.

Independents don't care about whether government is smaller, or bigger, we care about whether or not its doing its job right. Is it the role of government to tell them they can't be there at that morning coffee as husband and wife?

Those states that adopt - through legislation - same sex marriage will likely get a boost to their economy.  Seriously, this is a bottom line kind of decision. Gays are, almost to a fault, a bit more wealthy and educated than your standard man off the street. Living in San Francisco for many years taught me this.

As Dean said - the legislative branch is the right branch of the government to decide the issue. And thats who's deciding the issue these days.

I met someone last week who was arrested on an anti-sodomy charge. I thought to myself. For God's sake, why would anyone want to pay attorneys, cops, judges, prison officials, and the whole retinue of probation officers and clerks - to keep people from a good orgasm? To be sure, sodomy is not exactly my cup of tea.  But so what.  The concept of having laws to keep people from doing it , is to my mind bizarre. Even if it wasn't safe sex. Its still their choice.

Further, I spoke with this person (I was giving them a ride) and found that the courts pressured a guilty plea. If this person (I am referring to this person carefully because they're in the process turning from he, into a she..) didn't plead guilty - they would register them as a felony sex offender in the sex offender database. It would ruin their career - the sex offender database is online. They were the valedictorian of their class, but for a night of harmless activity - they're now a felon?!

So. I decided. Hey. The GLBT are barking up the right tree this time. AND there are people out there that this kind of legislation will really help.

My question is. Ok. So yeah, Same sex marriage isn't a big deal and it might be a good idea to get it done.  What do I do, to help out?  Is there anything I can do to help this person (who is now camping out in one of my friends office building - a person with a perfect 3.9 GPA on their way to college!) ?
Would there be any way that any of us indies out there, who quite honestly - have cared less - about this issue - lend support to the effort?

Which states are good candidates to go next in the legislative process to legalize same sex marriage?

Thanks!

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News Media Entertainment = Propaganda

Lets establish that what the news media entertainment channels are really doing is a form of corporate propaganda.

I was at my stock broker's office - which had a live news feed dropped into the office space - and I finally caught, out of the corner of my eye - a broadcast from an all-financial all the time channel.

Here is what I saw. Propaganda. The two newscasters, basically failed entertainers - were being cued to smile when any point of view that was offered - ran along their party line. And when any perspective, however different - ran counter to that they would almost in unison change their facial expression. Finally at the end of their show they brought on someone who championed their party line - basically going over the party's talking points. Then they ran a short clip about smiling happy children and the camera zoomed in on the newscasters smiling happy faces.

Alright, apart from that - there was also  the technique of putting any objective or scientific point of view regarding the topic at hand - into a format that had the well dressed, well groomed people representing the party line - set into an opposing debate against someone whose speaking and presentation skills were not adequate to represent the opposite point of view.  Time and again, the debate slanted back to a format in which the party line was merely delivered over. and. over. again.

Finally, a word about stocks themselves. After all that was the main "Focus" of the "news" that they were delivering.  I have a fairly nice portfolio, and I spend time studying equities. When I saw the series of stocks that were being highlighted - it struck me as odd certain equities were being highlighted over others, esp. ones that I frankly didn't see as holding valid shareholder review. Then I happened to notice that these same stocks were being piped through "Investor Relations" firms that had deals with this news channel - mainly through roundabout connections - and that they were being highlighted simply because they paid off the right people.

This was probably why other news media entertainment personalities kept telling people to buy the troubled stocks of the companies who caused the fall of our markets.  The 24 hour news channels have to be paid to be in operation, and they are taking money from the parties that pay them - through media buying and investors relations firms that wash the cash.

The control over message was strict. It reminded me of a Pravda news report. Where the state of the Grand Imperial Soviet was always happy. Every word was about the Glorious Republic.

The news media entertainment companies are in bed with lobbyists. The message discipline was amazing. You have people working on the people who are going on air, people working on the format of the program, people working on the content - they are all being controlled by the supreme lobbyist republic.

One host said something that supported our president. The other host immediately turned his words against him. You could see in his eyes a flash of fear. And then he returned to the party line.
The other newscaster shot a sly smile at him.  

No wonder weak-minded people who thought themselves to be conservatives, oversaw the greatest expansion of government in the history of America.  

News Media Entertainment is Propaganda.

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Lobbyism and the Treasury

Time and again, we are subjected to the visible influence of lobbyism in our system. Our latest schock to the system is the systematic dismantling of a good man, Chris Dodd, at the hands of the lobbyists who were pushing around the Secretary of Treasury.

Obama's picks for Cabinet have been flawed. He's got the wrong approach - he passed over Dean for Sec. of HHS and appointed someone who is very cozy with the Insurance industry. He almost put into the same position, a man who was actually a paid lobbyist and had the level of disdain and temerity to ignore paying taxes on the perks he'd been receiving (translation: he was trying to hide his lobbyist ties and didn't succeed).

And now we're seeing the influence of lobbyism on the Secretary of Treasury.

Here, to my analysis is the chain of events that led up to our current, outrageous situation where the entire global market crashed as a result of Viral American toxic assets UNCOVERED and UNINSURED by an Insurance Giant that truly looked like it would go bankrupt (and almost did, until we pumped BILLIONS into it).

1. Executives at AIG  insure Toxic Assets, branding them as "OK"
2. Executives at AIG hire lobbyists and media front men to do things like go on Cramer and tell the world how cool it is to buy them ("real estate is hot")("deregulation is the key to market success").

3. Toxic Assets are discovered by broad public

  1. Loss of Confidence ensues in the Global banking system
  2. Massive losses are counted off for almost every market
  3. Huge , Record Unemployment follows Massive Stock Losses
  4. The largest infusion of capital ever in the history of US is sent into AIG to stop the "bankruptcy" of this company - dare we ask if lobbying the government for those funds has something to do with it... pray, dear reader, no red herrings please..
  5. AIG continues to announce losses
  6. The markets continue to crash all around the world
  7. Finally, the executives of this company quietly award themselves 165 Million dollars in Bonuses for their great work.

Now, here's where the idiocy of news media entertainment comes in. One of these channels out there that spends its time spouting Republican talking points goes on the air, at this point, actually saying that "these bonuses are valid".  Isn't that great? You get 165 million dollar bonus for helping to destroy the global economy?  Lets not talk about short trading here... after all, we said no red herrings... right?

So along comes Chris Dodd, and lo and behold we discover he's going to try to lead a progressive rally against the award of the Bonus . AIG at this point, thanks to the massive, massive infusion of capital is eighty percent owned by the American taxpayers - it makes sense. The broad public has discovered that their billions of tax dollars are translating into millions of dollars in bonuses to corporate leadership that caused trillions of dollars of losses to them... and is scaring their wife.

So Chris cheerleads, and even writes a decent piece of legislation. Then along comes the phone calls from the Sec. of Treasury - telling him he'd better not try to pull those bonuses back or "we could get sued".  

Now lets do the math. With 19 states now suing AIG , doesn't it make sense that it would be less expensive for one entity - oh, I don't know... say, the Federal Government -- to subsume that risk? But at this point, someone at the Treasury department, who by the way would also have intimate knowledge of how AIG is going to be spending billions of dollars - sat down with a lobbyist, and he paid them off - to try to pressure congress to keep a piece of legislation from interfering with their client's big dollar payoff. And bear in mind, 165 million is a big payoff. The bribes that pass between hands in Georgetown, and Falls Church, and all the little places near DC where people drive out to do their deals might be as low as 35,000.00
Ever been to Falls Church, Virginia? Look around at the millions and millions of dollars spent to make that town sometime... pick up a rock and see if you can't hit lobbyist there.

So anyway. Chris Dodd waters down the legislation so the executives get to keep their money.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

This is all about lobbyism, my friends.  This is about bush republican-class corruption at work.

Now, with 19 states suing AIG - and the clear role of the Federal government exposed for what it is - a liasion between lobbyists and congress - we see the breakdown in central government and the ultimate flaw in the model of an open democracy that still supports massive bribery (lobbyism) as a part of its process.

The frankly inelegant and awkward lawsuits brought against AIG calling for an accounting, by 19 states just shows that the Federal Government, under the influence of lobbyism - is not a government by the people, of the people, and for the people - its a government by lobbyists, of lobbyists (even to the level of cabinet positions), and for lobbyists.

Do you think if we did a little digging we'd find the lobbyists were really the ones that caused all the watered down regulation and SEC loss of oversight that led to the global crash?

What would be nice is if a journalist out there (of course, we are differentiating between "paid news media entertainment lackey" and "actual journalist" ) could uncover this trail.. would he?

You see... he has an editor. And an editor's job is to make sure the advertising works with the content... and that means change the content.... which gives the lobbyists a nice, convenient point of influence , doesn't it?

And it would all have worked just fine... if it weren't for those pesky , pajama clad citizens who are actually paying for it all.....  hmm?

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