Kerry and Snowe Team Up To Expand Health Care Access for Small Businesses

From a press release from the Senate Committee on Small Business:

Senators John Kerry (D- Mass.) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, introduced two bills this week designed to improve access to quality health care for small businesses, their employees and their families. The bills establish an intergovernmental task force to enroll eligible children of small business employees in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) and create a grant program for Small Business Development Centers to promote available health insurance options to small firms.

“We have two million children in this country who are eligible for S-CHIP, and many of them are the dependents of folks who work for small businesses or are self-employed,” said Kerry. “Unfortunately, many small businesses and their employees don’t have the time or resources to access adequate health care coverage for themselves and their families. Our proposals will get America’s entrepreneurs the information they need so they can take action today while Congress works in a bipartisan way to enact health care legislation that will put us on a path to providing coverage for every man, woman and child in America.”

“Access to affordable, quality health insurance continues to be the top issue facing small businesses today,” said Snowe. “As Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I remain committed to finding solutions to this crisis. By highlighting the various, existing coverage options available to small businesses and their employees, our measures will help to reduce the ranks of the nearly 47 million uninsured individuals in this country.” (more…)

Conservatives vs. Liberal and Libertarian Fascism

Conservatives love to avoid real ideological debate by mischaracterizing the views of their opponents and grabbing the better adjectives for themselves. It took years for many to catch on that Republicans are not really the party of limited government, freedom, or even competent national security. Jonah Goldberg is a bit behind the curve as he tries to obfuscate the policies of the authoritarian right in an upcoming book. Unfortunately for Jonah, he’s having a little trouble with the title.

Originally Goldberg’s book was to be entitled Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton. As the book has a chapter on Hillary, but isn’t really about her, he was never really happy with the title. He’s now come up with a new title: Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Whole Foods.

The last time I was in New York and had lunch at a Whole Foods I had a hard time finding any signs of fascism. There were just lots of people acting on their own, choosing among a wide variety of things to buy. It appeared to be a perfect example of the marketplace in action. If conservatives really had the respect for the free market which is seen in their rhetoric, you would think this would be just their type of place.

It gets worse for Goldberg. Whole Foods’ co-founder, Chairman and CEO John Mackey is a libertarian who has been published in Liberty. Reason reports that at a 2005 reason forum Mackey described himself as “a businessman and a free market libertarian.”

Goldberg claims he knew this but unless he comes up with a better explanation I’ll continue to suspect he picked on Whole Foods in the same sense that conservatives have a thing about liberals sipping wine and eating brie. It’s all empty rhetoric.

Actually, while many in the blogosphere are mocking Goldberg over this, I find that in a Bizarro World sort of way it makes sense. Considering that the truth is typically the opposite of what conservative pundits claim it is, it makes perfect sense to pit conservatives against both liberals and libertarians. Beyond that, we all know that it is the conservatives who are moving in a direction towards fascism while it is liberals and libertarians who have defended liberty.

We May Now Have A Four Way Race For The Democratic Nomination and Political Forcast argue that we have a forth candidate in the top tier. Bill Richardson has been moving up in the polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and there’s plenty of time for him to move further, especially if the media also treats him as a top tier candidate and provides increased coverage.

Any predictions this far out are very risky. The first question is whether Hillary Clinton can be beaten. Typically front runners win in the Democratic race if they are a sitting President or Vice President, but otherwise they have had a rough time. We’ve seen this with Ed Muskey, Howard Dean, and front runners who wound up being defeated. The one exception is Walter Mondale, who had the advantages of recently being Vice President as well as firm support from the party regulars. My suspicion is that Hillary Clinton will fit more in the Mondale pattern, but she also has enough negatives to provide a chance for her challengers.

Obama has been number two but it remains unclear if Obamania can continue or if Obama’s inexperience will trip him up. John Edwards is even more inexperienced than Obama, but his early lead in Iowa keeps him in the race. Edwards will probably need an outright win in Iowa to remain alive.

Richardson has a long way to go, but then John Kerry came back after trailing Al Sharpton in the polls in the fall of 2003. Strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as Nevada which he is also concentrating on, could make Richardson a true top tier candidate going into the larger primary days. Richardson has the advantage of having his strength in a different region from the others, and if his western support allows him to take California it is a whole new race. Richardson has a tremendous advantage over Edwards and Obama in experience, but so far the oratory skills of Edwards and Obama have led to better showings for them in the debates. Richardson’s upcoming book on energy and the environment might help his credentials after its release this fall.

Richardson might also have an advantage on some issues if he can distinguish himself from the other candidates. There is a growing number of “small-l” libertarians who now vote Democratic after seeing the Republicans become increasingly authoritarian and anti-libertarianism. Richardson has attracted the attention of some libertarian-leaning voters, but has not fully capitalized on this potential.

While the big question remains whether Hillary Clinton is beatable at all, Richardson might have the best chance to follow in the paths of previous winners such as Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter in coming from obscurity to win.

Republican Support For The War Eroding

Earlier today I disputed a claim that support for a change in Iraq policy is not a liberal position. I have noted that not only is leaving Iraq the majority position among liberals, but has also become the majority position in the country. Will this soon become the conservative position as well? Recent developments provide hope that this may be the case.

There have always been some Republicans who have parted from the party line on the war, from libertarians like Ron Paul to isolationists like Pat Buchanan. Many elder Republicans from the Bush I administration also knew better, but they remained quiet until the Iraq Study Group report came out.

There has been speculation that Republican Senators would drop their support for White House policy by September. Losing the support by Richard Lugar may be the beginning of the end of Congressional support for the war. Speaking Monday night, Lugar warned that the chances for success were “very limited” and advised fellow Republicans “We don’t owe the president our unquestioning agreement.” Holding the Excecutive Branch accountable when it is pursuing a policy which undermines our national interests should have been the roll of Congress all along, regardless of party affiliation, but better late than never.

Having Lugar speak out against the war gives other Republicans political cover to speak their minds. George Voinovich, a Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent Bush a letter yesterday urging him to develop a comprehensive plan for our country’s gradual military disengagement” from Iraq. He also wrote that, “”I am also concerned that we are running out of time.”

Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Bush yesterday urging the president to develop “a comprehensive plan for our country’s gradual military disengagement” from Iraq. “I am also concerned that we are running out of time,

So far Lugar has also expressed opposition to legislation which will tie George Bush’s hands, hoping Bush will take the lead in changing our policy. Hopefully Bush will take the hint that his risks losing all support and will declare victory and find a way out. If he fails to do so, it will be hard for Senators like Lugar to support the current policy indefinatly after going on record as declaring it a failure.

Cheney Sticks With The Money


The Politico reports that Dick Cheney has abandoned his argument that he is not part of the Executive Branch. They report, “The decision follows a threat by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), the No. 3 House Democrat, to try to cut off the office’s $4.8 million in executive-branch funding.”

No surprise. Dick Cheney basically sees the United States government as a source of money to plunder. He’s certainly not going to give up $4.8 million in funding, especially when he didn’t have much of an argument to begin with.

Update: Cheney’s office subpoenaed

Giuliani Adopts Rove Tactics in Attacking Clinton

One of the hallmarks of a Karl Rove campaign has been to attack the opponent’s stronger points and turn his client’s weaknesses into apparent strengths. Thus we saw George Bush, who still has not been able to adequately respond to the charges that he went AWOL from his National Guard Service, able to overcome John Kerry’s advantage of having served with distinction in Vietnam. Now Giuliani is trying to overcome his weakness on terrorism by repeating the phoney conservative memes about Bill Clinton:

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday accused former President Clinton of not responding forcefully enough to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing or later terrorist attacks.

The former New York mayor criticized Democrats, accusing them of weakness and naivete in dealing with terrorism. Giuliani made the comments to about 650 business, corporate and political leaders at Regent University, the conservative Christian college founded by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson.

“Islamic terrorists killed more than 500 Americans before Sept. 11. Many people think the first attack on America was on Sept. 11, 2001. It was not. It was in 1993,” said the former New York mayor.

Giuliani argued that Clinton treated the World Trade Center bombing as a criminal act instead of a terrorist attack, calling it “a big mistake” that emboldened other strikes on the Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia, in Kenya and Tanzania and later on the USS Cole while docked in Yemen in 2000.

Giuliani ignores that fact that Clinton took action against bin Laden, often over the opposition of the Republican Congress. The Clinton administration also passed on recommendations for fighting al Qaeda, but the Bush administration ignored them. It is no coincidence that we have suffered more from terrorism under George Bush than during the Clinton years. While the Clinton administration responded to warnings to prevent the planned millenium terrorist attacks, Giuliani’s fellow Republican George Bush ignored warnings which might have prevented the 9/11 attack.

Ultimately Giuliani must try to distract from his own poor record on terrorism. Rudy’s the genius who placed New York’s emergency command center in the World Trade Center, counter to advice from Washington, after we knew it was the target of terrorist attacks. His understanding of terrorism is so weak that he actually argued with Ron Paul over a simple statement that US involvement in the middle east was a motivating factor behind the attacks. If Giuliani really believes that they attacked for no more reason than hating us for our freedoms, how can he ever do anything to solve the root causes, as even Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has advised?

Giuliani has repeatedly shown he has no understanding of what it takes to defend the country against terrism. Like anyone following Karl Rove’s principles, rather than honestly addressing the problem he raises false charges against the other party. This might have worked in 2002 and 2006, but the country now sees through these tactics.

Argument By Labels Rather Than Logic on Iraq

Kevin Sullivan has responded to my last post on Iraq but continues to play the label game in lieu of using real arguments. His argument basically comes down to a claim that a stragegy which aims towards leaving Iraq is the position of those he calls progressive isolationists while liberals would agree with him and stay the course–regardless of the fact that very few liberals actually believe this.

Kevin is disappointed that I refuse to play the label game and am content in consider a strategy concentrated on diplomacy, international involvement, and disengagement from Iraq the liberal position simply because this is the position held by most liberals. (Many take the alternative path than Kevin and label anyone who opposes the Iraq war as liberal regardless of their positions on other issues.) Certainly an argument based upon liberalism can be made for our position, from opposing preemptive war based upon lies to the willingness to consider new ideas when the current strategy has failed as opposed to the conservative mind set of refusing to change. While arguments could be made based upon liberalism, the fundamental arguments for changing strategy remain pragmatic. For reasons I discussed in previous posts, it is in the strategic interests of the United States for us to change policy.

When Kevin applies theses labels he makes essentially the same mistake I discussed in Fallacies Regarding Doves, Iraq, And The Use of Military Force. Desiring to change policy in Iraq does not mean we are either doves or isolationists. It is simply a pragmatic choice based upon this particular situation. Most opponents of the current war supported the war in Afghanistan and other wars which we felt were in our national interest. Opponents of the war are not necessarily isolationists, and many of us see the war as a terrible distraction from the actions the United States should be taking, including mounting an effective program against al Qaeda and reducing the spread of nuclear weapons.

Kevin continues to attack straw men while ignoring all the reasons why we should change strategy by falsely claiming “one of the underlying principles appears to be that most American involvement overseas, whether it be militarily in Iraq, or psychologically in the case of Iran, is inherently bad. ” No, the principle is that there are sensible measures to take and there are foolish measures to take. Continuing our present course in Iraq is a foolish measure. The case of Iran is yet another argument against our current policy as the Iraq war only acts to strengthen Iran in the region. Being tied down in Iraq also limits our ability to take action against Iran to reduce the risk of their development of nuclear weapons.

Similarly Kevin attacks straw men when he says, “I believe Progressive Isolationists often want to have it both ways– Iraq is apparently a quagmire, just like Vietnam, however no other historical parallels need apply.” Again, we are being pragmatic not isolationist in opposing the war in Iraq. The post World War II situations and Korea are totally different. Kevin’s arguments for staying in the middle of a civil war in Iraq based upon those analogies simply makes no sense once you look at this from a pragmatic stand point as opposed to creating an absurd dichotomy where one must always be a interventionist/hawk versus an isolationist/dove. Those like Kevin who make decisions in this manner are guaranteed to be right some of the time and wrong others, as neither interventionism or isolationism is always the correct response.

I won’t bother to repeat the arguments for changing policy discussed in the previous post in detail except to note that Kevin misunderstands the Israeli analogy. Israel shows the difficulties of long term occupation. Kevin’s response that “withdrawing from Gaza certainly hasn’t prevented radicalization there by any stretch” is rather irrelevant. Israel is still engaged in the region, and there is no possibility of this changing. Simply withdrawing from Gaza would hardly be enough to change hardened attitudes. While Israel does not have the option of leaving the region militarily, we do have far more options that Israel in reducing our military involvement. The continued radicalization is also further evidence of our need to change course. This is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds, and the longer we remain viewed as occupiers the harder it will be to end this cycle of radicalization.

There are certainly problems with any course in Iraq, however as I noted before our continued stay only worsens these problems. Any problems we will face by leaving over the next year will be even worse if we stay five, ten, or twenty years. The current policy has failed and the burden of proof no lies on those who want to remain in the midst of a civil war. Rather than providing proof, Kevin can only play the label game and attack straw men.