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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

Last Friday the Obama Administration asked U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Pensacola, Florida for a clarification in his recent ruling that a portion of the Affordable Care Act mandate was unconstitutional.

From Bloomberg:

The federal government, in papers filed with Vinson yesterday, asked him to clarify whether that decision relieves the suing states of their rights and obligations under the act while the U.S. pursues an appeal.

“We believe it is important to put to rest any doubts about the ability of states and other parties to continue to implement these critical programs and consumer protections provided under this statute,” Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement announcing the U.S. filing.

Florida’s newly elected Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi doesn’t like this request for a clarification by the Obama Administration at all, so much so that she is “advising” the administration to just “appeal the ruling” already. She accuses the administration of “delaying tactics” by asking for a clarification.

From The Palm Beach Post:

“Department of Justice’s motion to clarify is merely an attempt to delay the process when the order clearly required a halt to implementation,” Bondi said in a statement….

….“Our memorandum states that time is of the essence in this matter, and the Court should deny the defendants’ motion for clarification as well as their thinly disguised request for a stay,” she said. “Everyone knows this case will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Department of Justice should join us in seeking an expedited appeals process. This issue is too important for delay, and we urge the
President to file an appeal in the appropriate appellate court, as was done in Virginia and Michigan. It is in the country’s best interest to present this case before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as possible.”

Bondi certainly seems to be in a hurry to get the case to the Supreme Court, in fact she even sounds a little desperate. Of course the U.S. Supreme Court has some  justices who seem to have what appears to be some “conflict of interest” problems and it’s widely feared that those will interfere with the legal process in the health care ruling. I suppose that could be part of the reason Republicans who want to overturn the law are in a hurry to get it to the Supreme Court.

That being said, what else is Pam Bondi so afraid of? Why the rush? People’s lives are at stake here. Don’t they deserve the very clarification the Obama Administration is requesting? Because the last time I checked, Attorney Generals were elected to serve the people of the Florida. Bondi was not elected to serve those who may have a vested interest in the outcome of rulings against the Affordable Health Care Act and who supported Bondi in her campaign, like the National Federation of Independent Business.

Bondi seems less interested in legalities, and is more selective on which rulings she chooses to follow, basically only the ones that suggest the ACA is unconstitutional. Bondi was just as thrilled with Judge Vinson’s ruling as she was thrilled with all the money the NFIB was throwing into her lawsuit. Where’s the impartiality?

But again, why is Bondi in such a hurry to want the Administration to skip that clarification and just move ahead with a hastened appeal? Perhaps this ruling on Feb. 22 that got little attention in the media had something to do with it:

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler has become the third federal judge to rule that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, and that Congress was within its constitutional authority to regulate health insurance under the Commerce Clause.

“We welcome this ruling, which marks the third time a court has reviewed the Affordable Care Act on the merits and upheld it as constitutional. This court found — as two others have previously — that the minimum coverage provision of the statute was a reasonable measure for Congress to take in reforming our health care system. At the same time, trial courts in additional cases have dismissed numerous challenges to this law on jurisdictional and other grounds. The Department will continue to vigorously defend this law in ongoing litigation.”

Instead of looking at this ruling, Bondi has chosen to ignore it altogether and instead doubles down in urging President Obama to just forget that whole “clarification” thing and hurry along an appeal so the case can advance quickly to the Supreme Court where Republicans have reason to think they will have a more favorable outcome against the ACA.

So I ask again: just what is Pam Bondi so afraid of?

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Rick Scott seemed to think he was running against President Obama rather than Alex Sink in his run for Governor last year, and he still manages to work in his criticism of the President’s policies every chance he gets. Just yesterday it was “ObamaRail” and the “ObamaTrain” that he rejected when he threw Floridians, $2.4 billion dollars and 23,000 jobs under the train bus.

He also has a great deal of interest in repealing the Affordable Care Act, and recently said he would be spending a lot of time in Washington. For what reason? Well, he said it was to make sure Florida gets its fair share.” But wouldn’t the money for the high-speed rail project qualify as “getting our fair share?” Wouldn’t the project also create a few of those “700,000” jobs Scott promised to Floridians before they voted? Sure it would. But Scott just trashed a nice chunk of our “fair share.” His reasoning is reckless spending and all the other nonsense talking points he and many of the Republicans in the state who now despise him along with the rest of us use all the time.

Maybe there’s a reason he doesn’t really seem to give a flying fig about Florida. Maybe his ego is so overblown that he has bigger ambitions. Maybe he’s just using Florida and his policies to prove himself to the Tea Baggers he spends all of his time with.

Maybe it seems like he’s still running against President Obama, because he actually plans to run against Obama in 2012. The thought has occurred to me before, but it just seemed crazy and so ridiculously far-fetched. Of course Scott seems to thrive on failed, far-fetched ideas and he does seem to have a rather large ego. I guess now see I’m not the only one who noticed it.

But hey, it’s not like we haven’t had failed Governors as national candidates before. It also wouldn’t be the first time an elected official tried to convince the country he was not what he “appeared” to be:

“I am not a crook!”

If so, well, good luck with that!

 

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Derailed

I always thought that Rick Scott would manage to destroy Florida by the end of his term, but I was wrong. At the rate he’s going he’ll destroy it LONG before then.

In just under two months Scott has taken command of a state with Titanic potential, and actively sought out an iceberg to steer it into. Much like the Titanic, yesterday he hit the big one. Unlike Scott, at least the ship builders Harland and Wolff had a vision to try to build a bold new mode of transportation. But Rick Scott? His only vision at this point appears to be seeking revenge against the nation’s first black President (or as Scott refers to them, one of “those people.”) who dared to tackle another industry in dire need of reform: health care. We all know about Rick Scott’s experience with that, where he left behind the company he owned and ran to make the history books in the subject of Medicare fraud. Perhaps his eyes are on a bigger prize now as a one man death panel who steers patients to private clinics, like his current company, Solantic. But that’s an issue for another day.

Rick Scott managed to get elected somehow, in spite of his past business background. Perhaps people in Florida were so desperate or naive that they actually bought what he was selling. I would imagine that even his die-hard supporters have a touch of voters remorse. The GOP certainly has buyers remorse after groveling at Scott’s feet when he defeated their preferred candidate, Bill McCollum. He not only flipped off voters, maybe a couple corporate donors, and his own party, he even seems confused about his own policies with yesterday’s rejection of high-speed rail. That decision has left many scratching their heads, and may have just convinced even the former doubters that he has become the Master Of Disaster for Florida. The only groups he seems to have catered to is that small minority of ignorant Tea Partiers who probably have trouble balancing their own bank accounts and think that fairies, not taxes, fill the potholes that are big enough for them to drive their pickup trucks through. (They’ll figure it out soon enough when the next hurricane comes along and they’re forced to rely on the former disaster management crew from Wal-Mart. But again, another issue for another day.)

The other group that’s happy about Scott’s decision? Why that would be a libertarian “think tank,” the Reason Foundation, which wrote the so-called report Scott relied on to base his decision on rather than an upcoming study from the Florida Department of Transportation he claimed to be waiting for. Counted among the he Reason Foundation’s Board of Trustees is none other than David H. Koch, of Koch Industries, and yes, one more rather large can of worms.

For someone who claims to be an outsider, well, sort of. He’s an outsider to reality. He wants to run Florida like a business? Sure, a bad one, but then look at his track record. His campaign promises? Well, you’re a sucker if you believed them.

The high-speed rail project was a good business decision that was a sorely needed “gift” to Florida, where traffic and gridlock have been a growing problem for decades. I can vouch for at least the last 30 years, but ask those who have dealt with it even longer. Of course for someone who travels by private jet as Scott does, that’s hardly a problem for him. As for the rest of us, well we can just keep on sucking exhaust fumes while we sit in traffic and spend hours moving through parking lots like I4 where it takes a large chunk out of your day to travel to a place that should only take an hour or two. Mind you, this is Florida, not the New York area or even California. We’re talking say  Tampa to Orlando.

The “gift” Florida got from the high-speed rail project brought us $2.4 billion in federal funds. The project would have created more than 23,000 jobs, some of which have already begun, where we have a 20 percent unemployment rate. Private businesses were lining up for bids on the project, bids that will never materialize if Scott gets his way. However, since the gift came from President Obama, well, Florida will just have to go without all that, even though Scott promised to create 700,000 jobs (never mind the 8700 jobs that he cut last week) and he claimed Florida would become a major attraction to the private sector and therefore prosperity for every resident. Not only has Scott doomed high-speed rail, we’re probably doomed form any other companies and jobs that may have come to Florida. People who actually know how to run a business, unlike Gov. Dictator, would probably view Florida as a really bad risk for investment as long as the Governor is a fickle operator who could pull the plug at any given moment as he did with the rail project. Of course, that’s over and above the problem of trusting a man whose first company became a textbook case on Medicare fraud.

Two days ago Scott went on (what else?) FOX-GOP-TV to proclaim “I know what needs to happen in Florida,” and “I know what our citizens need.” He was talking about one of his other “projects,” Medicaid and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He also blasted the “evil demon” stimulus bill, which he claims will cause dependency. (Today Scoot meets with BP claims czar Ken Feinberg over the problems of oil spill claims. Perhaps he’ll tell Feinberg  to withhold claims altogether so those whose businesses were hurt by the oil gusher don’t become too dependent on any relief?)

Does Scott “know what Florida needs? No. In fact he has proven he has absolutely no clue. While he turned down that $2.4 billion for high-speed rail, he said that he “believes Florida is better served by investments in ports, highways and other infrastructure to create long-term jobs.” What the clueless Governor fails to grasp is the not so little detail of how that $2.4 billion can be spent. One might ask Scott what part of the words “high-speed rail funds” he doesn’t understand, because the concept seems to have him stumped.

If the money isn’t used for high-speed rail as intended, Florida loses that money. In fact if Scott had bothered to study up on it, he would know that we got some of those funds because another clueless Governor turned them down as well. No, Scott may think he can use those funds any way he wants, perhaps even on himself or maybe use it for his wife’s Governor’s mansion redecorating fund for all we know. That money will now go elsewhere if Scott doesn’t change his mind. There’s a reason why, barely minutes after the news of Scott’s stupidity broke, states like California and New York were already scrambling for the funds as if billions of dollars had just descended from the heavens at their feet. High-speed rail is popular and a good thing. What happened to the Governor who recently said “he would be spending a great deal of time in Washington making sure Florida gets its fair share?” So far he’s taken our fair share and thrown it back in President Obama’s face.

As I write, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and yes, even Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica, who Scott managed to flip off as well yesterday are scrambling to do damage control with an end run around the decision.

There’s even talk of recall. Yesterday Representative Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg) filed legislation to permit the recall of state officials. You can read and track those bills: HJR785 here, and HB787 here. The bills may offer a glimmer of hope, considering the disastrous first couple of months of Scott’s “Dictator-like” rule where he operates away from the press but in front of Tea Baggers, the only choir he preaches to.

Scott is Mr. Fiscal when it comes to the serious needs of the homeless, the elderly, the mentally ill. State workers, the unemployed, teachers, students, veterans, and countless others I’ve not listed here will get no relief from Scott. When it comes to these things, he wants to cut, cut, cut. When it comes to lavish Inaugural festivities made possible with hefty donations from private businesses of course, well that’s another story. I’m sure there’s more than a donor or two who now wish they had that money back. But they’ll just have to get in line with the rest of us.

In just a few short weeks Scott has managed to turn the words “all aboard” into derailed plans for prosperity in the future, and he’s just getting warmed up. He’s moving on to several new icebergs, and if things don’t change pretty soon, we’ll all be going down with the ship.

Because uprooting and moving out-of-state is an unacceptable and pretty drastic alternative as a life-raft, for those who can still afford one.

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A fitting tribute to the true victims in Tucson:

Text of President Barack Obama’s remarks at the memorial service for the victims of the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., as released by the White House, from The Associated Press:

To the families of those we’ve lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants who are gathered here, the people of Tucson and the people of Arizona: I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today and will stand by you tomorrow.

There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: The hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen. We join you in your grief. And we add our faith to yours that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy will pull through.

Scripture tells us:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy place where the Most High dwells.

God is within her, she will not fall;

God will help her at break of day.

On Saturday morning, Gabby, her staff and many of her constituents gathered outside a supermarket to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free speech. They were fulfilling a central tenet of the democracy envisioned by our founders – representatives of the people answering questions to their constituents, so as to carry their concerns back to our nation’s capital. Gabby called it “Congress on Your Corner” – just an updated version of government of and by and for the people.

And that quintessentially American scene, that was the scene that was shattered by a gunman’s bullets. And the six people who lost their lives on Saturday – they, too, represented what is best in us, what is best in America.

Judge John Roll served our legal system for nearly 40 years. A graduate of this university and a graduate of this law school – Judge Roll was recommended for the federal bench by John McCain 20 years ago, appointed by President George H.W. Bush and rose to become Arizona’s chief federal judge.

His colleagues described him as the hardest-working judge within the Ninth Circuit. He was on his way back from attending Mass, as he did every day, when he decided to stop by and say hi to his representative. John is survived by his loving wife, Maureen, his three sons and his five beautiful grandchildren.

George and Dorothy Morris – “Dot” to her friends – were high school sweethearts who got married and had two daughters. They did everything together – traveling the open road in their RV, enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon. Saturday morning, they went by the Safeway to hear what their congresswoman had to say. When gunfire rang out, George, a former Marine, instinctively tried to shield his wife. Both were shot. Dot passed away.

A New Jersey native, Phyllis Schneck retired to Tucson to beat the snow. But in the summer, she would return East, where her world revolved around her three children, her seven grandchildren and 2-year-old great-granddaughter. A gifted quilter, she’d often work under a favorite tree, or sometimes she’d sew aprons with the logos of the Jets and the Giants to give out at the church where she volunteered. A Republican, she took a liking to Gabby and wanted to get to know her better.

Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard grew up in Tucson together – about 70 years ago. They moved apart and started their own respective families. But after both were widowed they found their way back here, to, as one of Mavy’s daughters put it, “be boyfriend and girlfriend again.”

When they weren’t out on the road in their motor home, you could find them just up the road, helping folks in need at the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ. A retired construction worker, Dorwan spent his spare time fixing up the church along with his dog, Tux. His final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers.

Everything – everything – Gabe Zimmerman did, he did with passion. But his true passion was helping people. As Gabby’s outreach director, he made the cares of thousands of her constituents his own, seeing to it that seniors got the Medicare benefits that they had earned, that veterans got the medals and the care that they deserved, that government was working for ordinary folks. He died doing what he loved – talking with people and seeing how he could help. And Gabe is survived by his parents, Ross and Emily, his brother, Ben, and his fiancee, Kelly, who he planned to marry next year.

And then there is 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green. Christina was an A student; she was a dancer; she was a gymnast; she was a swimmer. She decided that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the Major Leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her.

She showed an appreciation for life uncommon for a girl her age. She’d remind her mother, “We are so blessed. We have the best life.” And she’d pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate.

Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing.

Our hearts are broken – and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness.

Our hearts are full of hope and thanks for the 13 Americans who survived the shooting, including the congresswoman many of them went to see on Saturday.

I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak. And I want to tell you – her husband Mark is here and he allows me to share this with you – right after we went to visit, a few minutes after we left her room and some of her colleagues in Congress were in the room, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. Gabby opened her eyes for the first time.

Gabby opened her eyes. Gabby opened her eyes, so I can tell you she knows we are here. She knows we love her. And she knows that we are rooting for her through what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult journey. We are there for her.

Our hearts are full of thanks for that good news, and our hearts are full of gratitude for those who saved others. We are grateful to Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby’s office.

And, Daniel, I’m sorry, you may deny it, but we’ve decided you are a hero, because you ran through the chaos to minister to your boss, and tended to her wounds and helped keep her alive.

We are grateful to the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload. Right over there. We are grateful for petite Patricia Maisch, who wrestled away the killer’s ammunition and undoubtedly saved some lives. And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and first responders who worked wonders to heal those who’d been hurt. We are grateful to them.

These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle. They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, all around us, just waiting to be summoned – as it was on Saturday morning. Their actions, their selflessness poses a challenge to each of us. It raises a question of what, beyond prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward. How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?

You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations – to try and pose some order on the chaos and make sense out of that which seems senseless. Already we’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health system. And much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.

Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “When I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.

For the truth is, none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind. Yes, we have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future. But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. That we cannot do. That we cannot do.

As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.

After all, that’s what most of us do when we lose somebody in our family – especially if the loss is unexpected. We’re shaken out of our routines. We’re forced to look inward. We reflect on the past: Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder. Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices that they made for us? Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in a while but every single day?

So sudden loss causes us to look backward – but it also forces us to look forward; to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us.

We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we’re doing right by our children, or our community, whether our priorities are in order.

We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame – but rather, how well we have loved – and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.

And that process – that process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires.

For those who were harmed, those who were killed – they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but surely we see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis – she’s our mom or our grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law.

And in Gabby – in Gabby, we see a reflection of our public-spiritedness; that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.

And in Christina – in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic, so full of magic. So deserving of our love. And so deserving of our good example.

If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate – as it should – let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle.

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better. To be better in our private lives, to be better friends and neighbors and coworkers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy – it did not – but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.

We should be civil because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American Dream to future generations.

They believed – they believed, and I believe that we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved life here – they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another, that’s entirely up to us.

And I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed.

Imagine – imagine for a moment, here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that some day she, too, might play a part in shaping her nation’s future. She had been elected to her student council. She saw public service as something exciting and hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.

As has already been mentioned, Christina was given to us on Sept. 11, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called “Faces of Hope.” On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child’s life. “I hope you help those in need,” read one. “I hope you know all the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart.” “I hope you jump in rain puddles.”

If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on this Earth – here on this Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and we commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.

May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in restful and eternal peace. May He love and watch over the survivors. And may He bless the United States of America.

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Last July 24th I was in the audience at Netroots Nation when Sen. Harry Reid took Lt. Dan Choi’s West Point ring after Choi asked that he keep it until Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed and the bill was signed into law. Choi, who was honorably discharged from the Army National Guard for being gay first met Reid last year. At the time Reid promised he would repeal the DADT policy. In July Lt. Choi gave Sen. Reid the ring to remind him of that promise, and vowed to hold Reid accountable:

On Saturday the bill passed. I had followed the earlier votes in the Senate that day on C-span, but I wasn’t able to see the final vote. When I finally got the chance to check and see if the bill had passed I used my phone to check Twitter.

Ironically, the first Tweet I saw about DADT was actually this one from Lt. Choi himself:

The bill was expected to pass, so learning that it had wasn’t a surprise. Finding out it had passed this way certainly was, and I can tell you it made me smile.

Sen. Reid made good on his promise and gave Lt. Choi his ring back, and once again Choi took to Twitter in celebration:

Congratulations to Lt. Choi and all those men and women who won another round in a hard-fought victory in the face of unconscionable and indefensible obstruction.

And many thanks to President Obama for another in a long line of accomplishments met and promises kept.

He vowed to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, and yes, he did.

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This is refreshing to read in a newspaper:

But as Republicans smelled serious opportunity in the midterm elections, they didn’t let facts get in the way of a great punchline. And few in the press challenged their frequent assertion that under Obama, the government was going to take over the health care industry.

That paragraph is from today’s St. Petersburg Times, and appears in their article PolitiFact’s Lie Of The Year. I think they deserve a great deal of credit for calling out their own.

The article is the kind of reporting the news media should do a lot more of. Facts are good things, and as the saying goes, knowledge is power. Had these facts come out a long time ago the health care reform law may have turned out quite differently.

The article illustrates how the Republican Party set out to sway the public against health care reform and attack President Obama. To do so they used self-proclaimed “Word Doctor” Frank Luntz, the consultant whose slogan is “It’s Not What You Say That Matters, It’s What They Hear,” which seems fitting as a motto for the Republican Party as well. The Republicans turned to Luntz for a similar “snow job” in an attempt to kill financial reform, and he also played a roll in Newt Gingrich’s “Contract For America.”

To construct the big lie for the GOP Luntz came up with the term “government takeover.”

“Takeovers are like coups,” Luntz wrote in a 28-page memo. “They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom.”

The line stuck. By the time the health care bill was headed toward passage in early 2010, Obama and congressional Democrats had sanded down their program, dropping the “public option” concept that was derided as too much government intrusion. The law passed in March, with new regulations, but no government-run plan.

We’re still hearing the words “government takeover” and the Republicans like the term so much that it’s become interchangeable with just about every issue out there.

The lie worked, in that it got the health care bill watered down considerably.

But that’s not enough for the GOP. They’re working to kill it altogether. 20 states, with Florida in the lead, have filed a lawsuit claiming the law is unconstitutional. Earlier this week, a judge in Virginia actually did rule part of it unconstitutional, but that judge also owns between $15,000 and $50,000 in a GOP political consulting firm. No conflict THERE of course, right? Did someone say “Government takeover?”

No, the Party that’s willing to hold the poor and unemployed hostage, along with DADT, The DREAM Act and national security with the START Treaty in order to get more tax cuts for their rich friends and contributors (not to mention themselves) have no qualms about robbing you and those very same people of a chance at getting health care. So expect more of the same in the future.

In fact, they’ve already begun:

An influential Tea Party group is urging Congress to hold votes in January to repeal healthcare reform in its entirety, according to a confidential memo to congressional Republicans.

The FreedomWorks memo, obtained by The Hill, outlines a strategy that starts with holding a vote in January to repeal the entire law. The group, headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), said Congress should then hold repeal votes on certain provisions of the law, such as the individual mandate.

“Repeal is achievable, possibly sooner than many expect, because the American people clearly want and expect repeal, and because the law is vulnerable to effective repeal,” the memo said.

“Because the American people clearly want and expect repeal.” Do you want and expect repeal of the health care law? Because Dick Armey SAYS you do.

“It’s not what you say that matters, it’s what they hear.”

There’s also more to Congress than meets the eye. You see, you may think you know who you elected to go to Washington to fight for you, but you really elected “wordsmiths” and “blowhards” like Frank Luntz and Dick Armey. Those new Republican “leaders” come January who you see crying like babies who claim they’ve harnessed the American Dream are really just puppets who have sold out. They’ve sold you and the country out as well.

We need more exposure to the GOP’s “big lies” from the media. We can’t afford to let the truth get drowned out, or we’ll only “hear” from these guys.

The puppet-masters.

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Here are just a couple of things you’ll see and hear very little about in the mainstream media about President Obama’s health care reform law:

On the ruling yesterday that PART of the health care reform bill is unconstitutional:

Henry E. Hudson, the federal judge in Virginia who just ruled health care reform unconstitutional, owns between $15,000 and $50,000 in a GOP political consulting firm that worked against health care reform.

Most of the reports I’ve read and heard on this are neglecting to mention Judge Henry E. Hudson’s ties to the GOP.

Then there’s this, which surprisingly many people are still unaware of:

Clients lobbying on H.R.3200

Just an FYI for those who actually believe that lawmakers have only the best interests of their constituents at heart.

As hard as it is to believe, there are those who actually do.

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