Obama picks up the “drill, baby, drill” mantra (although with some important qualifications)… It’s a Nixon-goes-to-China-like moment for the president… From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** Drill, baby, drill: During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republicans of all stripes voiced this battle cry -- “Drill, baby, drill” -- to argue for offshore oil drilling as gas prices spiked to record levels. Then-candidate Barack Obama opposed it, however. (“Offshore drilling would not lower gas prices today,” he said. “It would not lower gas prices tomorrow. It would not lower gas prices this year. It would not lower gas prices five years from now. In fact, President Bush’s own Energy Department says we won’t see a drop of oil from [offshore drilling] until 2017.”) But now in what appears to be a Nixon-goes-to-China moment -- as well as a significant departure from the campaign -- President Obama will announce at 11:05 am ET new plans to drill for oil and natural gas off American coasts, the L.A. Times reports. But he will rule out drilling off the West Coast and the coasts above Delaware. “Obama's plans will include opening new areas of coastal Virginia and other parts of the mid-Atlantic region, Alaska and the eastern Gulf of Mexico for drilling. But officials say the president will block drilling in Alaska's Bristol Bay.”
*** What say you, Sierra Club? The announcement is stunning for those of us who paid close attention to the presidential race. And it will be yet another test for Obama’s Democratic base -- in this case, environmentalists. As the New York Times writes, “But while Mr. Obama has staked out middle ground on other environmental matters -- supporting nuclear power, for example -- the sheer breadth of the offshore drilling decision will take some of his supporters aback.” That said, Obama floated this idea at his State of the Union address as perhaps a way to get Republicans to back a comprehensive energy bill. “To create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives,” he said in that January speech. “And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.” Of course, Obama isn't the first major Democrat to make this reversal on oil drilling. During the height of the last major gas price spike, Speaker Pelosi had to relent and allow legislation on oil drilling to go forward as many members of her own caucus wanted to support it. Still, this announcement will be a bitter birthday present for Al Gore, who turns 62 today.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The only question that remains is whether Obama himself will have any last-minute qualms about turning his back on his own principles."Obama's Bagram Fly-In: What He Didn't Visit" (Harry Shearer):
We should know in a matter of days, as the White House is expected to announce shortly whether the highest-profile terror suspects, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, will be tried in federal court or by military commissions.
So I guess this war is enough like the Iraq War that President Obama, like his predecessor, can only visit the troops at night, in secret. And the whiff of triumphalism is familiar, too: "we never quit". Really? Lebanon 1984 didn't happen? Vietnam came out differently than we remember?
Still, the most jarring part of the Obama fly-in to Bagram was the part of the base he (apparently) didn't visit: the secret prison we've been running there for years. It's Gitmo on steroids.
The Obama some of us want to believe still exists would have at least acknowledged the unpleasant truth. The Obama who does exist just gave the troops a boilerplate pep talk, "never quit" and all, and flew into the dawn.
Monday, March 29, 2010
KOMO News, video (01:46):
Cheers shook the rafters at a celebration of the new health care law in South Seattle on Sunday as top state leaders and pro-reform crowds got together to send a message.
TheRealNews, video (09:20)):
White House Press Corps longest-serving member says Obama lost credibility when he dodged her question on Israeli nukes."Binyamin Netanyahu's efforts to heal rift marred as Barack Obama branded 'disaster for Israel'" (Guardian UK):
Both sides deny snubbing the other in settlement row as insiders launch outspoken press attack on US leader."President Obama Sneaks into Kabul to Beg President Karzai to Clean Up His Act" (Dave Lindorff):
The government US forces are propping up is so weak and corrupt that it doesn't really "rule" anything but the capital city of Kabul, and it, and its police and army enforcers, are largely viewed by the majority of Afghans as little more than an official mafia. It is well known that President Hamid Karzai stole the last election and thumbed his nose at world opinion (his opponent simply quit the race in disgust during the ballot counting).
And it was this usurper Karzai whom the visiting Obama was left to plead with to clean up the mess of a government he runs. Clean up how? Karzai's own brother is a leading warlord and opium baron. Even the country's opium crop is being left untouched by US forces, for fear of alienating the country's farmers, so we're actually in there fighting to defend the world's leading producer of opium for the heroin trade! How on earth do you "clean up" a government in a country like that?
"Coverage Now for Sick Children? Check Fine Print" (NY Times):
Just days after President Obama signed the new health care law, insurance companies are already arguing that, at least for now, they do not have to provide one of the benefits that the president calls a centerpiece of the law: coverage for certain children with pre-existing conditions."Analysis: Economy, not health care, will be focus" (AP):
Losers in a brutal struggle with President Barack Obama, Republicans now hope voter anger over newly enacted health care legislation will propel them to victory in midterm elections this fall."Harry Reid and the Public Option" (Booman):
Forget about it.
No matter the impact of health care, the economy still matters most — unemployment in particular — in a country struggling to emerge from the deepest recession in decades.
In poll after poll, it isn't even close.
A CBS/New York Times poll taken last month, when the health care debate was in a lull, showed 52 percent of those surveyed identified the economy as their top priority. Health care was a distant second at 13 percent.
I think the take-away is that Ben Nelson exerted an effective veto over the public option and Joe Lieberman did the same for the expanded Medicare buy-in. There was a narrow window to try to push the public option through reconciliation (which is what I advocated from the beginning) but, in the end, the toxicity of the political climate left the entire process in too much doubt for Reid and the administration to risk everything on it.Howie P.S.: I think I understand why The President might be tempted into smoking an occasional cigarette.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
The reach of persistent progressivism. With health care, Obama has completed the unfinished agenda of Roosevelt, Johnson, and Clinton. But as Roosevelt learned when the court struck down big chunks of the New Deal, signing legislation is often just the beginning of the fight. While he lost the battle over his court-packing scheme, he won the war over the constitutionality of his program. So just as Congress has to prove it's serious, so does the executive branch. If health-care reform is implemented poorly in the next five years, Obama's victory will be Pyrrhic. Governing is a muscle, too, that requires flexing for peak performance.Howie P.S.: Locally, "KingCo officeholders to McKenna: Don't do it" (Joel Connelly) confirms that the "fight" continues.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
MOX News.com, video (05:28).
On the floor of the House, Jim McDermott plays pundit on the GOP's "Waterloo" strategy.
"Has Obama's Health Care Win Driven Conservatives Crazy?" (David Corn):
Not all progressives have been enthusiastic about President Barack Obama's health care overhaul from a policy perspective. It cedes a lot of control to private insurance companies; there is no public option. But they have at least one good reason to love the package: it has driven conservatives crazy."Obama's health insurance rule - it was a GOP idea" (AP):
Republicans were for President Barack Obama's requirement that Americans get health insurance before they were against it. The obligation in the new health care law is a Republican idea that's been around at least two decades. It was once trumpeted as an alternative to Bill and Hillary Clinton's failed health care overhaul in the 1990s. These days, Republicans call it government overreach.Howie P.S: Howie is going 753 miles south today for a family gathering. We'll see if I can stay offline until I return home on Monday afternoon.
Friday, March 26, 2010
I couldn’t make it down there myself, but I’m told a healthy media contingent showed up to watch the protesters drop off petitions at the Attorney General’s office, presumably on the off chance that there might be a little drama.
OFA: "Celebrate passage of Health Reform with Senators Murray and Cantwell and Marcelas Owens! (Health Reform Celebration Events)"
Join OFA volunteers this Sunday, March 28 at 3PM for a rally with Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as 11-year old Marcelas Owens, as we celebrate the passage of Health Insurance Reform!Howie P.S.: Newser has "Meet Marcelas Owens, 11, Health Reform Activist":
For over nine months, Organizing for America volunteers have worked tirelessly on making Health Insurance Reform a reality in this country. On Tuesday, President Obama signed H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, into law. OFA volunteers have spent months contacting Member of Congress, educating neighbors about the benefits of this legislation, and fighting for Members who fight for reform. Because of that work, every American is finally guaranteed high quality, affordable health care coverage.
It's now time to celebrate all of our work together to bring about this incredible achievement for our country!
Time: Sunday, March 28 from 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Host: OFA Washington Location: IAM Hall (Seattle, WA)9125 15th Pl S
Seattle, WA 98108
Directions: Click on the bit.ly link for a google map of the location in South Park.
That little boy standing at President Obama’s right hand as he signed health care reform legislation into law is, somewhat improbably, one of the nation’s preeminent reform advocates. Marcelas Owens, 11, has been sharing the story of his mother since she died in 2007, uninsured and unable to afford treatment for pulmonary hypertension, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. “I'm signing it for 11-year-old Marcelas Owens,” Obama said of the bill.
"Shallow Throat": Obama, the GOP and "Potomac Fever"---With the Democrats running the show, the Republican mole "Shallow Throat," now a high-priced political consultant, is no longer positioned inside the government, but still has a wide network of administration and party contacts, especially in the GOP. So using our usual code, I asked for a meeting to get Shallow Throat's take on what is going on in Washington a little more than a year after the new president was inaugurated.
And with that, Shallow Throat ran out of the park, leaving me there pondering what I think was Good News mixed in with some Very Bad.
AP, with video from RussiaToday (02:56):
The U.S. and Russia reached a breakthrough agreement Wednesday for a historic treaty to reduce the nuclear arsenals of the former Cold War rivals, the most significant pact in a generation and an important milestone in the decades-long quest to lower the risk of global nuclear war.
The agreement would still leave each country with a large number of nuclear weapons, both deployed and stockpiled.
Norris, the nuclear weapons expert, and Hans M. Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists, estimate that the U.S. has 2,150 deployed strategic nuclear weapons and the Russians have about 2,600. The U.S. has another 2,600 warheads held in reserve, plus 500 non-strategic nuclear weapons, by the two experts' estimate. Another 4,200 retired U.S. strategic warheads are awaiting dismantlement.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
"The GOP's Dirty Health-Care Secret" (Matthew Dalleck-The Daily Beast):
Republicans are screaming that Obamacare’s mandates are a “stunning assault on liberty,” as one put it. That’s ironic, since Richard Nixon, Bob Dole, and Bill Frist all embraced the idea."ObamaCare by the Numbers: Part 1" (John Cassidy-The New Yorker):
President Obama, to his credit, finally exploited the Democratic majorities in Congress to tackle this problem, and, in the process, demonstrated that he has an inner resolve and determination that I, for one, had doubted. In getting something—anything—done in today’s Washington, he has reinvigorated his Presidency and transformed the political calculus for the rest of his agenda."Biden On 'Big F---ing Deal': Obama Loved It" (HuffPo):
Unfortunately, the reform bills that Congress has passed don’t tackle some of the system’s underlying problems, such as the lack of incentives to limit health-care expenditures. Yes, there is financing for pilot schemes that might eventually generate some savings, and, yes, a new independent board of experts will be tasked with identifying possible cuts, but to conflate these initiatives with a guaranteed cure for cost inflation is to fall victim to wishful thinking. Unless I am mistaken—and I hope I am—the reform will end up costing taxpayers considerably more than the Congressional Budget Office is predicting, and it won’t cover nearly as many people as hoped for. In another decade or so, Congress will be back at work, trying to provide genuine universal coverage at a more affordable cost.
"You know what the best thing about yesterday was?" Obama reportedly said on Wednesday. "Joe's comment."
Biden shot back, "If you thought it was so good, why didn't you say it?"
According to Biden, who recounted the exchange during a fundraiser later that day, the president tried to have a t-shirt made with the remark but wasn't able to get one in time. Delivery may have been the only problem, as custom t-shirt makers were already taking orders within minutes of Biden's open mic gaffe.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
In the past two weeks, we have seen two traumatic incidents involving medical marijuana.
On March 9 and again on March 15, the homes of two medical-marijuana patients who are also providers were the sites of violent home invasions. The victim of the first attack died from his wounds. The owner of the second home suffered injuries in a gunfight that also left one of his attackers critically wounded. These attacks highlight shortcomings in our law and the need for reform.Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, chairs the Senate Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee. She was prime sponsor of Senate Bill 5798, passed by the Legislature on March 11, which extends to all health-care professionals with prescriptive authority the ability to authorize the medical use of marijuana.Howie P.S: Sensible Washington emails me:If anyone can make any of these events, please do!
We need as many volunteers as possible out collecting signatures at
the Sounders game (starts at 7:00) on Thursday evening at Qwest Field
and in and around Pioneer Square before the game. In addition to the
sounders we'll be working other shows this weekend:
Blue scholars at Showbox at the market - both the Friday and Saturday
shows are sold out and there's now a Sunday night show for Blue
Mad Rad (Sat. at Crocodile Cafe) and Hell's Belles (Sat. at Neumos).
Any questions, you can contact Bonnie Fong, our Seattle
events coordinator, at email@example.com
Only hours after the president signed health care reform legislation into law on Tuesday, the immediate political benefits for the Democratic Party are already coming into focus.
"Republicans weigh costs of losing ugly" (Politico)
The only thing worse than winning ugly is losing uglier.
"Tea Party Bigotry Can’t Stop History" (Eugene Robinson)
“This is what change looks like,” President Obama said after succeeding where Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman had failed. On Sunday, as comprehensive health care reform was becoming a reality, some people couldn’t bear what they saw.
"Why Democrats Are Fighting for a Republican Health Plan" (E.J. Dionne)
Here is the ultimate paradox of the Great Health Care Showdown: Congress will divide along partisan lines to pass a Republican version of health care reform, and Republicans will vote against it.
"The Health Care Hindenburg Has Landed" (Chris Hedges)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s decision to vote “yes” in Sunday’s House action on the health care bill, although he had sworn to oppose the legislation unless there was a public option, is a perfect example of why I would never be a politician. I respect Kucinich. As politicians go, he is about as good as they get, but he is still a politician. He has to run for office. He has to raise money. He has to placate the Democratic machine or risk retaliation and defeat. And so he signed on to a bill that will do nothing to ameliorate the suffering of many Americans, will force tens of millions of people to fork over a lot of money for a defective product and, in the end, will add to the ranks of our uninsured.
"Tea party protesters scream 'nigger' at black congressman," with video (01:48)(McClatchy)
Demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol, angry over the proposed health care bill, shouted "nigger" Saturday at U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who was nearly beaten to death during an Alabama march in the 1960s.
"Health care reform bill 101: Who will pay for reform?" (Christian Science Monitor)
If the health care reform vote succeeds today, the $940 billion bill would be the biggest change to domestic policy in a generation. The rich and the health industry would pick up most of the tab.
"Thank you, Progressive Caucus, for improving health care reform" (Progressive Caucus Action Fund)
Dear Progressive Members of Congress:
Thanks to you, and the tough positions you took on reforming the health insurance industry, significant progress was made towards reforming health care in this country. We thank you for representing the majority opinions on health care reform throughout the debate and voting for change.
"Tell Michael Bennet: Introduce the Public Option in the Senate" (FDL Action)
Sign our petition to Senator Michael Bennet:
"You led the fight for 51 votes for a public option in the Senate. Now it's up to you to make sure it comes up for a vote at all. Introduce the public option for a vote during the Senate's debate."
"An Open Letter to Republicans From Michael Moore"
Please, my Republican friends, if you can, take a quiet moment away from your AM radio and cable news network this morning and be happy for your country. We're doing better. And we're doing it for you, too.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
A few weeks back, we wrote that Organizing for America -- the operation built in the wake of the 2008 campaign to push President Obama's legislative agenda -- faced a serious test of its efficacy as it pushed hard for passage of the health care bill.
In the immediate aftermath of Sunday night's vote, OFA claimed a sweeping victory (and a validation of its mission), noting that they had produced hundreds of thousands of phone calls -- among other voter contacts -- to fence-sitting members in the week prior to the vote.
Their work, in turn, drew praise from several people who have followed the organization very closely.The best (only?) conclusion we are left with is that, at a minimum, OFA helped around the edges to rally support for the vote. If the choice is between scads of calls in support of passing the bill into wavering Members' districts and no calls at all, it's hard to argue against those calls and the work OFA did.
This Week with Barack Obama with video (27:07) and transcript:
This morning the President made it official: things are going to change a bit between Americans and their health insurance companies. The President signed health reform into law, with a package of fixes not far behind, and in the process created a future for the country in which Americans and small businesses are in control of their own health care, not the insurance industry.Howie P.S.: Michael Moore and Matt Taibbi aren't waving any pom poms.
It was the Barack Obama the American public rarely sees -- irritated and wondering if he had arrived at the moment of defeat. Here came history.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Once reform is fully implemented, over 95% of Americans will have health insurance coverage, including 32 million who are currently uninsured.
2. Health insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny people coverage because of preexisting conditions—or to drop coverage when people become sick.
3. Just like members of Congress, individuals and small businesses who can't afford to purchase insurance on their own will be able to pool together and choose from a variety of competing plans with lower premiums.
4. Reform will cut the federal budget deficit by $138 billion over the next ten years, and a whopping $1.2 trillion in the following ten years.
5. Health care will be more affordable for families and small businesses thanks to new tax credits, subsidies, and other assistance—paid for largely by taxing insurance companies, drug companies, and the very wealthiest Americans.
6. Seniors on Medicare will pay less for their prescription drugs because the legislation closes the "donut hole" gap in existing coverage.
7. By reducing health care costs for employers, reform will create or save more than 2.5 million jobs over the next decade.
8. Medicaid will be expanded to offer health insurance coverage to an additional 16 million low-income people.
9. Instead of losing coverage after they leave home or graduate from college, young adults will be able to remain on their families' insurance plans until age 26.
10. Community health centers would receive an additional $11 billion, doubling the number of patients who can be treated regardless of their insurance or ability to pay.
Hey everyone. We're trying to get a few people together to gather sigs
tomorrow at Pike Place in Seattle. Please let us know if you'll want
to try to make it. We'd like everyone to meet at Pike PL (the road in
front of the market) and Virginia St. at 3pm on Tuesday 3/23. It's on the northwest side at the public seating area.
Please bring your boards, any petitions you may have, and pens. We'll
bring extra petitions, pens and voter registration forms if needed.
Please let us know if any of you would like to come!
Kayla - (206)349-2167
Anthony - (206)799-8696
Make History With Us!! I-1068
Don Skakie 425-572-0899
Mary McDermott 425-577-4711