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November 25, 2009

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With Us on Everything But the War

Of course, only in America would one have to ask "which war?" Afghanistan, Drugs, terror, Iraq, Pakistan, Poverty, Yemen, Somalia....

Of course, with Joe Lieberman, the answer would always be: "any and all."

I'm disinclined to believe anything Peter Beinart writes. Lieberman may, indeed, be bitter, but in other ways this is entirely typical Joe Lieberman behavior. One of the driving forces in Lieberman's career has always been sanctimonious moralizing expressed as support for culturally conservative positions. He was elected to the Senate funded by William F. Buckley and running to the right of then-incumbent liberal Republican Lowell Weicker. He was an enthusiastic culture warrior, helping to found (along with Lynne Cheney) the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. And the greatest political success of his career--getting enough votes to put him a heartbeat away from the presidency--was nearly entirely based on his self-righteous sanctimony over Bill Clinton's blowjobs.

Biter or not, this is just Holy Joe being Holy Joe. And so far this shtik has worked very well for him.

Erp....that's "Bitter or not...."

Biter works better.

Ben, I agree that sanctimony has long been one of Holy Joe's most striking characteristics, but

a) given that it (sanctimony) indeed has been so for a long time; and
b) assuming the validity of the hypothesis that Joe used to be a sincere supporter of public option-like things when they were on the table

how do you explain the policy shift? I gotta say that the tantrum theory (combining resentment and attention getting) seems to fit better than just standard model Joe sanctimony.

Well then, hurt, bitter Joe gets a seat at the Republican Death Panel.

They'll issue him a swivel chair.

They'll let him work the lever to open the trapdoor to the crocodile pit into which the uninsured fall.

Maybe he can even help Erick Erickson push the plunger on the lethal injections administered to those without insurance.

The Senator is happy to redistribute my income to receive subsidized healthcare through the Civil Service healthcare system, which is top-notch and offers lots of choice, and should be offered to every single American.

That's theft.

He waters the tree of liberty with the blood of the uninsured.

The guillotine was a very useful surgical instrument.

how do you explain the policy shift?

I think he's working on his 2012 positioning. I don't think he can win as a down-the-line democrat because he knows the progressives are going to field a competitive candidate against him.

His best bet is to run as a standard issue republican but from within the Democratic caucus. In that manner, he can guarantee that the GOP won't field a competitive candidate (so he can be the de-facto GOP nominee) while still picking up enough low information democratic voters to sneak through again.

Unfortunately, as long as he's smart enough to know what lines he can't cross with Reid (assuming there are any), then I think he's just following the most logical path to re-election.

Well, we do elect people, not ideas, platforms, or policy positions. And those people carry their petty weaknesses and strengths with them. Character does matter sometimes, or at least consistency as a virtue of that character. - TL

'standard issue conservative...'

Google 'Medicare Part D roll call'.

The list for that $900B pharmeceutical corporate giveaway, which did not include any tax revenue offsets, and which forbade the federal government from negotiating price, include the same 'conservatives' who today oppose the Senate's health care proposal: Ben Nelson, Sen Lincoln of AR, and Sen. Landreaux of La. Oddly, Sen. Lieberman opposed it. But that was back when a conservative was considered someone who is frugal.

Hurt feelings? Baloney.

He's representing home state business interests, more so now because 1) the stakes are higher now for the insurance industry than at any time since Hillarycare; 2) he has reduced access to Democratic leaning interest groups and supporters and no access to Democratic Party resources.

Hurt feelings has nothing to do with it.

I'm willing to entertain the notion that he's just a whore for monied interests, and that his feelings aren't hurt.

And yet, it's nice to have a bit more consistency out of our corporate whores.

bayesian,

I guess I'm not willing to assume the sincerity of Lieberman's purported support for real HCR earlier in his career.

In fact, I'm generally suspicious of narratives about Joe Lieberman that suggest that at some point in the past (candidates include: before Clinton's impeachment, before the Iraq War, before 2006, and now before the current HCR debate) he was relatively decent, but now he's awful. He's always been awful.

I do accept the possibility that, while in the past he felt he had to please Connecticut Democrats by maintaining decent ratings from many progressive single-issue groups, he's now liberated from that burden. But I see no reason whatsoever to posit that those earlier positions were sincere and his current views are merely the result of bitterness.

Well, Eric, one can always count on them to follow the easy money.

Honestly. I can't believe a serious, regularly published, political observer would posit hurt feelings as a politician's prime motivator, especially on a policy flip this substantial.

Holy Joe could be both petulant and a whore, couldn't he?

What intrigues me is this: politicians by and large whore after special-interest money to fund their campaigns, not line their own pockets. There's a curious circularity there: they whore after money so they can get elected to whore after more money so they can get re-elected. But let that pass.

The more intriguing aspect to me is the apparent presumption that campaign money can buy votes. Spend enough money campaigning, and you can convince voters to elect you even if you're screwing them. The Founders worried about "democracy" devolving into a situation where the great unwashed mob votes itself a free lunch at the expense of the monied elites. Turns out "democracy" as we practice it works exactly the other way around: the monied elites can buy the votes of the mob, and pretty cheap too.

--TP

(Eric, thanks for stepping up with some general-politics posts for the hungry maw of the commenting audience here...)

I don't know about hard feelings but I think it's perfectly logical to say that a human being did something for human reasons. My take would be that he feels more comfortable with Republicans and doesn't like arguing with his friends, so he's let the zombie conservatism into his brain and it's settled in to stay. Happens to the best of us, though if it happens to me I would like you to treat me like any other zombie - that is, aim for the head.

Electoral politics, eh, I think he feels invulnerable after the last election. He might be right about that.

I have no problem with holy joe (or any other legislator) voting either his/her conscience or his/her hurt or other human feelings.

But there have to be consequences, dammit!!

His chairmanship should be out the door, unrecoverable.

Didn't anyone in DC ever read "Profiles in Courage"? Naah, just us old farts, probably.

I go for the hurt feelings theory. Not that I give a hoot for his feelings.

Oh please do not just like this is to criticize. This is a great politician, I stress BIG. And they have their own goals, which we sometimes do not even understand. But it must be as objectivity. Yes the war, yes drugs, yes the establishment of democracy, let it even just a cover. But judged on the basis of work and not to implement them. Well this is my personal opinion.

I remember reading a story about someone one a jury that was split 11:1 for conviction. One guy on the jury had been bribed to hang the jury, but as long as someone else was hanging it - he felt he could vote to convict.

So too with Lieberman - I'd guess that so long as health care reform was dead, he could claim to support it. Now that it's got a good chance of passing, he's showing his true colors...

Eric: "Suffice it to say that if Lieberman gets his way, tens of millions of Americans will bear the brunt of his childish revenge fantasy - many paying for the privilege in tears shed over premature dying loved ones and shattered lives"

What tens of millions of Americans are you referring to, Eric?

The CBO report to the House in October estimated that roughly only one-fifth of the people purchasing coverage through the exchanges would enroll in a public option plan, if it was available, with a total enrollment of about 6 million.

So where you getting your hundreds of millions, suffering the brunt? From watching too many lefty soap operas on tv (you know, Rachel and Keith and Ed, on MSNBC)?

Further, the CBO said the public insurance option would typically charge higher premiums than private plans available on the exchange -- that's because it would "attract a less healthy pool of enrollees" -- the costs of covering them passed on to others enrolled in the plan, and eventually most of it on to the rest of us, in higher taxes.

So what's so great about the public option, as it's defined in the present legislation? Low enrollment. Higher costs. Little impact on the uninsured. The only value I see is as a soporific to pacify Democrats who thought they'd be getting meaningful health care reform when they voted for Obama - but instead are getting a Charlotte Ruse: 90 percent fluff, and 10 percent porosity; overall, an airy bite of nothing with substance.

I'm willing to entertain the notion that he's just a whore for monied interests, and that his feelings aren't hurt...

If he's a whore, he's a selective whore. Although his second largest campaign finance support came from Lawyers and Law Firms, he's in favor of Medical Tort Reform - the kind every civilized nation on the planet with universal health care has in effect. What whorish advantage do you see there?

And why are Democrats so dead set against tort reform? You'd think they'd be in favor of it, like all the other nations they point to as shining examples of universal coverage: Canada, England, Germany, etc, which all have limits on malpractice lawsuits. Christ, they even have limits on malpractice suits in Texas (which may or may not be a foreign country, depending on your pov).

Are Democrats so adamantly against tort reform simply because Republicans are in favor of it, or because they're more sluttish than Lieberman, intent on performing fellatio on the monied interests of the Lawyer Classes, to keep them ejaculating great flows of campaign funds (remember to swallow, Senators).

Dems are opposed to tort reform because it will do no damn good when it comes to lowering health care costs. Your vaunted Texas tort reform didn't lower insurance premiums. Can we end these zombie lies?

Joe discovered during the Lewinsky scandal that he could get unlimited TV facetime by scolding other Democrats. He never looked back.

Honestly. I can't believe a serious, regularly published, political observer would posit hurt feelings as a politician's prime motivator, especially on a policy flip this substantial.

Why? Because our politicians are too mature, too serious for that? They aren't motivated by vanity and resentment?

I agree that finding evidence that bitterness is the real motive is hard, and Beinart doesn't pull it off. But I would suspect political decisions are more often the result of the psychological insecurities and delusions of our politicians, than the result of rational calculation and bargaining.

I've seen the Zappa quote on various blogs: "Politics is just like high school but with more money and guns." Sounds apt.

Hm. I could've sworn I've seen JJ bring up tort reform before in this context.

Thanks to Google, I don't have to search my memory, I can handily link to the last thread where he blathered incoherently about the subject and had his ass resoundingly handed to him as a result.

DNFTT.

On which note this would probably be a good time to link to cleek's Pie Filter of Epic Win.

This may be a bit farfetched but might the fact that he came close to be the GOP VPOTUS candidate (The Son of Cain's wish) but was rejected for not being RW enough (which gave us* not-the-Monty-Python-Member) has something to do with it. Iirc there were already jokes** in Dubya's first term that it was Joe's lifelong drem to become a GOPster.

*actually you, I am not US
**e.g. by Tom Tomorrow ("This Modern World")

As for a solution: Joe the Biden could beat Joe from Aetna to death with his gavel* on the senate floor in defense of the nation (or claiming that he thought it was his job to break tykes).

*again, I am aware of the infamous caning event in the same location.

In Holy Joe's beloved state of Israel there is Universal Healthcare. Will he speak out against it?

Does Israeli "Universal" healthcare cover Palestinians? Just wondering.

Does Israeli "Universal" healthcare cover Palestinians? Just wondering.

Depends who you ask. In principle yes, in practice frequently no: the apartheid system in Israel/the Occupied Territories does effectively prevent Palestinians from accessing the healthcare they need, and are in principle supposed to be able to get. (cite, cite)

but instead are getting a Charlotte Ruse

Charlotte russe. Unless of course you are making teh funny.

And why are Democrats so dead set against tort reform?

It's the only remedy currently available for folks harmed by failed medical care.

Frankly, as a remedy, it sucks. Other remedies would actually be preferable. Put them on the table, and you'll see lots of folks way more open to tort reform.

Democrats are also sensibly sensitive to the possibility that what gets passed under the rubric of tort reform will actually be a wholesale stripping of the individual right to seek financial redress for negligence or misconduct by all kinds of corporations.

In a world where corporations already have a vast financial advantage over individuals when it comes to legal remedies, the last thing we need is to give them free license to neglect the safety of the public to help their bottom line. (e.g. the famous McDonalds coffee case, which contra the astroturf that was pushed about it for years, was actually a serious injury caused by an extremely negligent policy of superheating their coffee that McDonalds pushed to save money. If that's the kind of thing you like, you'll love tort reform!)

Or to put it in a slightly less wordy fashion, Democrats are opposed to tort reform because they aren't complete idiots.


"Dems are opposed to tort reform because it will do no damn good when it comes to lowering health care costs. Your vaunted Texas tort reform didn't lower insurance premiums. Can we end these zombie lies?"

Yeah you're right: and among those zombie liars is Barak Obama who as a State Senator voted for a medical malpractice cap in Illinois. But nobody knows what he's thinking about it now -- he may be changing his zombie tune for political reasons, as he has on so many other issues: you're right you can't trust those zombie automatons, promising you something on Monday, eating your heart out on Tuesday.

And let's not forget all those statistical zombie liars at the Congressional Budget Office who zombie-like estimated medical malpractice reform would reduce the deficit by about $54 billion over 10 years, more zombie madness.

And tell it to the Canadian zombies and the German zombies and the other European nations that they're living in a zombie fog with their malpractice control systems, which don't save a penny, though most of them insist it saves a lot.

And then there's those brain-dead zombie MDs from the Massachusetts Medical Society who in 2008 estimated $1.4 billion a year was being wasted in the state on 'defensive medicine' proscribed for fear of being sued: but hey, what do zombie doctors know about money, we'll leave those financial considerations to the Vampire Trial Lawyer Lobbyists with their fangs deep in the jugulars of their Democrat thralls.

And no-one knows if the caps in Texas lowered premiums or not: insurance rates have been spiking upwards there, and everywhere else in the US, for the last decade, and it's almost impossible to tease out the premium increases to know if or how much the caps affected them.

But we do no this: after the cap went into effect doctors in the thousands began relocating to Texas, from all parts of the country. Since the law was passed in 2003, the Texas Medical Board has licensed about 11,000 new physicians, many in specialties that had been in severe shortage: obstetricians, orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, etc. And a similar though not as energetic surge in physicians followed in other US States which initiated caps on malpractice awards, all experiencing an increase of doctors (averaging about a 12 percent higher count of physicians per 100,000) then states without caps.

And numerous other followup studies of those states have shown tort reform also leads to other savings, some quoted in the CBO evaluation, which concluded that had tort reform been in effect nationally in 2009 it would have reduced total health care costs by about $11 billion dollars this year, enough to provide medical insurance to two million Americans.

But I guess those two million wouldn't matter, they'd be zombie patients sitting in zombie doctor offices, getting zombie flu shots and zombie chest ex-rays from zombie nurses (Yo, Nurse Ratchett, your left hand just fell off!!).


russell: "Charlotte russe. Unless of course you are making teh funny."

Thanks for TEH spelling correction, russell,

"It's the only remedy currently available for folks harmed by failed medical care."

You saying medical malpractice suits are the only remedy for failed medical care?

You're kidding right?

Jacob Davis: "Democrats are also sensibly sensitive to the possibility that what gets passed under the rubric of tort reform will actually be a wholesale stripping of the individual right to seek financial redress for negligence or misconduct by all kinds of corporations"

You lost me at "Democrats are also sensibly sensitive."

What world are you living in, Jacob? Dems are as stupidly dense as Republicans: that's the real problem: a generation of nitwits in power, left and right.

And if you think medical malpractice law suits benefit anyone but lawyers in the long run (most them corporate lawyers) you're in a dizzy funk, and better sit down before you collapse in a puddle of confusion.

It's almost like JJ wants to derail this thread into an argument about tort reform. I've said my piece on this in the thread Catsy linked and see no need to repeat myself except for this: the Hatch tort reform bill would cut medical costs by zero-point-five-percent (0.5%, 0.005) and TX is home to some of the country's highest-cost health care.

The good thing about Joe Liberman is that you always know whose side he is on: he's on Joe Lieberman's side. You could look for deeper reasons but there's no evidence that he follows some/any principles.

His current behavior


  • gets him time on Sunday-morning chat shows,

  • gets his jowls on the news,

  • gets the news to call him a "centrist",

  • runs no risk of punishment from Reid or Obama,

  • benefits one of CT's big industries (insurance),

  • lets him interfere with man-he-campaigned-against's 2012 reelection bid,

  • and may be worth favors next time Republicans take the Senate majority.

On the other hand supporting a state-owned insurer would give him nothing but, possibly, the fuzzy feeling of not being a total jackass.

you can't trust those zombie automatons, promising you something on Monday, eating your heart out on Tuesday.

Brains, actually.

Thanks for TEH spelling correction, russell

Anytime.

You saying medical malpractice suits are the only remedy for failed medical care?

Feel free to enumerate the available alternatives for us.

russell: "Feel free to enumerate the available alternatives for us."

Arbitration

"the Hatch tort reform bill would cut medical costs by zero-point-five-percent (0.5%, 0.005)"

If the CBO evaluation to Hatch is correct, national tort reform could save $11 billion a year; over ten years that's $110 billion; which is one third as much as Obama says he'll save by cutting out the waste from Medicare to pay to cover the uninsured.

So in your universe of calculation is 3-times an insignificant amount suddenly significant, or should Obama forget about it because it's a piddling amount compared to the total percentage of health care cost in the US?

Obama also wants to reduce beneficiary premiums for physicians and outpatient service by about $43 billion over the next ten years; why don't you tell him to forget doing that too, since it almost the identical percentage you quote above.


In my universe of calculation, I tend to ignore commentators who have acknowledged that they only comment to stir the sh*t.

Has Jay Jerome destroyed all conversation on this blog? Or do we just need an open thread?

Jes, he has NOT destroyed conversation: it is the toleration of him as if he makes a contribution that destroys conversation

True, McCain and Lieberman do have something in common: it's called narcissism.

Strange how Jay Jerome wants politicians in Washington to decide how much a person's life or health is worth rather than a jury comprised of regular people from local community.

The other thing about the MCdonald's coffee thing was, superhot coffee ruins the taste. Which isn't unrelated to mcdonald's coffee being the worst i've ever tasted. Could i hate that place more?

The canonically* worst coffee in the world is made at the Vatican**. Since the Holy See to my knowledge hasn't yet taken over McDonalds (or the other way around), yoyo's statement has to be assigned only anecdotal value ;-).
---
Back to Holy Joe. He has now changed his reasoning for being against HCR on a monthly basis. So, what will his feigned reason be on Tuesday?
Give Reid a (very heavy) monkey wrench to deal with the nuts in his caucus that try to screw him!

*pun intended
**following the quote of the short-lived (coincidence?) John Paul I.

"And he was enraged by the tepid support he got from many party leaders in 2006, when he lost the Democratic primary to an anti-war activist and won reelection as an independent."

This is called a failure of leadership. Knowing Ned Lamont to be a complete electoral disaster, and the leadership basically sat back and watched Lieberman get devoured by the sharks. I mean, seriously, they could have done more to hold back the feeding frenzy. Like make statements to the effect of not supporting the Lamont revolt. Or giving personal support to Lieberman and campaigning for him on an individual level in the general election.

If I were him, I would be pissed too. I would have had thought, as he probably did, that the Democrats had hell to pay for kicking him as unceremoniously as they did. And I would probably feel a lot less warm and fuzzy about liberalism in general. That sort of hurt feelings don't just dissipate.

Shorter Myles SG: How dare registered Democrats in Connecticut think they were allowed to vote the way they wanted?

Knowing Ned Lamont to be a complete electoral disaster

So are you saying that if Lieberman hadn't run, the Republican candidate would have not just won, but won convincingly? I realize that the Republican party didn't support Schlesinger, but I'm not sure how he would have defeated Lamont if Lieberman had not run.

Seems to me the reason we need to be allowed to sue doctors who screw up and hurt people is so that we don't have to seek them out and injure or kill them...

Prob'ly that's just me...

"I would probably feel a lot less warm and fuzzy about liberalism in general."

The point of Lieberman's failure to keep the support of so many Democrats was his initial betrayal of liberalism. Myles SG is confusing the cause and effect.

woody: "Seems to me the reason we need to be allowed to sue doctors who screw up and hurt people is so that we don't have to seek them out and injure or kill them...

And then you'd need a criminal attorney to keep your ass out of jail who would have you in hock for the next two decades; and unfortunately for you, they don't arbitrate felonious assault; but if your lawyer doesn't spring you, you could intimately discuss the philosophic unfairness of that with Bubba, your new pal and cellmate.

"Strange how Jay Jerome wants politicians in Washington to decide how much a person's life or health is worth rather than a jury comprised of regular people from local community.

A jury of regular people? As the comedian Norm Crosby once said: “You want to go into court and put your fate into the hands of 12 people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty?”

Most of the jurors in medical award cases aren't smart enough to tie their own shoelaces let alone understand the complicated medical issues involved in those cases. You have a better shot at winning in arbitration, or even getting a hearing, then hiring some greedy lawyer who chops 30% of any settlement to pay for another Lexus for him to drive his girlfriend or mistress to the country club for Sunday brunch.

And malpractice arbitration isn't decided by Washington politicians. Both sides in malpractice arbitration select the arbitrators, usually picked from a panel of impartial former judges and lawyers and others with expertise. Wouldn't you rather have people like that deciding a case then jurors so stupid if you gave them a penny for their thoughts you'd get change?

"So are you saying that if Lieberman hadn't run, the Republican candidate would have not just won, but won convincingly?"

I am not sure you would have wanted Ned Lament to the cross to which the national Democrats were pinned. I mean, the things stinks. It's a f***ing purge. Voters don't like ideological purges.

"Shorter Myles SG: How dare registered Democrats in Connecticut think they were allowed to vote the way they wanted?"

The leadership needed to at least explain the full consequences of conducting ideological purges, instead of letting the party base think it's all berries and cream to just do what they did. It wasn't exactly a secret that Connecticut election laws made an indie bid completely plausible, and that anyone in Lieberman's position would have thought an indie bid justified. I mean, seriously, the entire country was aghast that Connecticut Democrats were conducting their own show trial. They looked like a bunch of MoveOn wingnuts.

The least the leadership could have done was point out that the Connecticut Democrats were looking like a bunch of fanatical idiots. They thought they were being heroes (not).

Shorter Myles SG: How dare registered Democrats in Connecticut think they were allowed to vote the way they wanted?

Oh wait, didn't I already say that? Maybe Myles SG did too.

Oh come off it Jes. That's completely ridiculous.

There's absolutely no basis for asserting that local party member's preference for an elected official deviating from the national party's majority stance could or should be tolerated. If that kind of absurd behavior were allowed to happen without a hostile response from the central committee, next thing you know there'd be, f'r'instance, blocs of right-wing Democrats from more conservative states gumming up the legislative works and undermining the party's agenda from within. Ain't no way the national Democrats are ever gonna let something like that happen, so you can just give up your misty-eyed MoveOn wingnut fantasies of regional variations in political preferences ever receiving anything but vicious, unstinting opposition from the national party.

"They looked like a bunch of MoveOn wingnuts"

Yeah, you sure have your finger on the pulse of CT Democrats. Hah.

As a CT Dem who voted to fire Joe Lieberman (twice, once in the primary [yay] and once in the general [boo]), I feel a combination of frustration and vindication. I think read him correctly at the time.

My choice to vote against Lieberman was very simple. On this, I was a single-issue voter. The Iraq War was, to me, a firing offense. I was prepared to vote against any politician who had supported it (which would've meant most of Congress, of course), and did so to the best of my ability. Lieberman, of course, not only supported it but did so very enthusiastically, even after it became clear there were no WMDs. I'm not a pacifist, but when you launch a war based on X and X turns out to be complete bullshit, your ass should be fired.

So "with us but for the war" didn't mean much to me. Lamont was a decent bet to be with us on everything including the war, ya know?

But yeah, it's actually OUR fault that Lieberman is an asshole. We MADE him act like this, because we didn't love him enough.

Christ.

Exactly, Rob in CT. Lieberman deserved to be fired on the basis of the Iraq war, his glorification of torture, and his obvious interest in invading Iran at the first possible moment. It wasn't a matter of ideological purity. There's a lot of room for a lot of conservatism, but not giving aid and comfort to fascists. (And, yes, there were a lot of Democrats who quietly enabled the Bush administration, but none went to the lengths that Lieberman did to thwart any opposition to the Bush agenda at its worst.)

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