Quote of the Day

“I don’t want to say Google Instant Search is fast, but I was able to access stupid shit Sarah Palin hasn’t even said yet.”
–Frank Conniff via Twitter

North Carolina Sheriffs Want Access To Private Medical Information Regarding Use Of Controlled Substances

Sheriffs in North Carolina want access to computerized records showing which patients receive prescriptions for controlled substances according to a report in the Charlotte News and Observer. While this might be of some benefit in fighting abuse of prescription medications, it violates some important principles. This includes a presumption of innocence, as opposed to assuming that anyone suffering from chronic pain who requires prescriptions for controlled substances may be committing a crime. This also violates our current policies regarding patient confidentiality. The American Civil Liberties has questioned this invasion of privacy:

The ACLU opposed a bill in 2007 that would have opened the list to law enforcement officials, said ACLU lobbyist Sarah Preston. The organization would likely object to the new proposal.

“What really did concern us is the privacy aspect,” she said. Opening the record to more users could deter someone from getting necessary medicine because of the fear that others would find out, she said, “particularly in small towns where everybody knows everybody.”

Why doesn’t the tea party ever protest against this type of big government?

Obama Takes On The Republicans on the Economy

One of the frustrations of the last year and a half has been that the Obama White House has not been able to match either the Obama Campaign or the Republicans on messaging. Sure, more often than not Obama has been right on policy matters while the Republicans have been screaming nonsense, but the GOP has still won the spin wars with their distortions. With the conventional wisdom being that the Democrats are in serious trouble (even though it is too early to be certain about that), Barack Obama is attempting to make up for some lost time in the spin wars with today’s economic speech in Cleveland. Obama did refer to Republicans, but Republican leaders of the past as opposed to today’s Republicans who refuse to lead or govern responsibly. Out with the bipartisanship which has never been reciprocated and in with actual attempts to give Americans a reason to vote for Democrats.

Here are some key portions, with the entire prepared text under the fold. He began by reminding listeners of his hopes of transcending the old partisan divides and pointing out the different governing philosophy under the Republicans:

We also hoped for a chance to get beyond some of the old political divides – between Democrats and Republicans, Red states and Blue states – that had prevented us from making progress. Because although we are proud to be Democrats, we are prouder to be Americans – and we believed that no single party has a monopoly on wisdom.

That’s not to say that the election didn’t expose deep differences between the parties. I ran for President because for much of the last decade, a very specific governing philosophy had reigned about how America should work:

Cut taxes, especially for millionaires and billionaires. Cut regulations for special interests. Cut trade deals even if they didn’t benefit our workers. Cut back on investments in our people and our future – in education and clean energy; in research and technology. The idea was that if we had blind faith in the market; if we let corporations play by their own rules; if we left everyone else to fend for themselves, America would grow and prosper.

For a time, this idea gave us the illusion of prosperity. We saw financial firms and CEOs take in record profits and record bonuses. We saw a housing boom that led to new homeowners and new jobs in construction. Consumers bought more condos and bigger cars and better televisions.

But while all this was happening, the broader economy was becoming weaker. Job growth between 2000 and 2008 was slower than it had been in any economic expansion since World War II – even slower than it’s been over the past year. The wages and incomes of middle-class families kept falling while the cost of everything from tuition to health care kept rising. Folks were forced to put more debt on their credit cards and borrow against homes that many couldn’t afford in the first place. Meanwhile, a failure to pay for two wars and two tax cuts for the wealthy helped turn a record surplus into a record deficit.

The speech described the economic situation and how progress has been painfully slow.He spoke about how the Republicans have no answers, no new ideas:

A few weeks ago, the Republican leader of the House came here to Cleveland and offered his party’s answer to our economic challenges. Now, it would be one thing if he admitted his party’s mistakes during the eight years they were in power, and was offering a credible new approach to solving our country’s problems.

But that’s not what happened. There were no new policies from Mr. Boehner. There were no new ideas. There was just the same philosophy we already tried for the last decade – the same philosophy that led to this mess in the first place: cut more taxes for millionaires and cut more rules for corporations. Instead of coming together like past generations did to build a better country for our children and grandchildren, their argument is that we should let insurance companies go back to denying care to folks who are sick, and let credit card companies go back to raising rates without any reason. Instead of setting our sights higher, they’re asking us to settle for a status quo of stagnant growth, eroding competitiveness, and a shrinking middle class.

Obama gave his vision of the proper role of government, refusing to surrender to the misleading Republican meme that Democrats are the party of big government and oppose the free market:

I have a different vision for the future. I’ve never believed that government has all the answers to our problems. I’ve never believed that government’s role is to create jobs or prosperity. I believe it’s the drive and ingenuity of our entrepreneurs, the skill and dedication of our workers, that has made us the wealthiest nation on Earth. I believe it’s the private sector that must be the main engine of our recovery.

I believe government should be lean, it should be efficient, and it should leave people free to make the choices they think are best for themselves and their families, so long as those choices don’t hurt others.

But in the words of the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, I also believe that government should do for the people what they cannot do better for themselves.

That means making long-term investments in this country’s future that individuals and corporations cannot make on their own: investments in education and clean energy; in basic research, technology, and infrastructure

That means making sure corporations live up to their responsibilities to treat consumers fairly and play by the same rules as everyone else; to look out for their workers and create jobs here at home.

And that means providing a hand up for middle-class families – so that if they work hard and meet their responsibilities, they can afford to raise their children, send them to college, see a doctor when they get sick, and retire with dignity and respect.

That’s what we Democrats believe in – a vibrant free market, but one that works for everybody. That’s our vision for a stronger economy and a growing middle-class. And that’s the difference between what we and the Republicans in Congress are offering the American people right now.

Obama contrasted his plans with past Republican policies and turned to a discussion of American values:

This country is emerging from an incredibly difficult period in its history – an era of irresponsibility that stretched from Wall Street to Washington and had a devastating effect on a lot of people. We have started turning the corner on that era, but part of moving forward is returning to the time-honored values that built this country: hard work and self-reliance; responsibility for ourselves, but also responsibility for one another. It’s about moving from an attitude that said “What’s in it for me” to one that asks, “What’s best for America? What’s best for all our workers? What’s best for all our businesses? What’s best for our children?”

These values aren’t Democratic or Republican. They aren’t conservative or liberal values. They’re American values. As Democrats, we take pride in what our party has accomplished over the last century: Social Security and the minimum wage; the GI Bill and Medicare; Civil Rights and worker’s rights and women’s rights. But we also recognize that throughout history, there has been a noble Republican vision as well, of what this country can be. It was the vision of Abraham Lincoln, who set up the first land grant colleges and launched the transcontinental railroad; the vision of Teddy Roosevelt, who used the power of government to break up monopolies; the vision of Dwight Eisenhower, who helped build the Interstate Highway System. And yes, the vision of Ronald Reagan, who despite his aversion to government, was willing to help save Social Security for future generations.

These were serious leaders for serious times. They were great politicians, but they didn’t spend all their time playing games or scoring points. They didn’t always prey on people’s fears and anxieties. They made mistakes, but they did what they thought was in the best interest of their country and its people.

That’s what the American people expect of us today – Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. That’s the debate they deserve. That’s the leadership we owe them.