Here it is 2:20 am and I am just beginning to write for tonight. It lends itself, as many of you know, to my offering my opinions on something rather than a well researched article. Tonight will be no exception. I ate up over an hour of the night watching the health care debates in the Senate on CSPAN, and then watching them pass a cloture vote 60-40 to end debate on the additions to the health care bill from Senator Reid. Then I spent an hours discussing health care on facebook with a few of Rani’s friends, while simultaneously being insulted by another friend of hers. It was quite comical as he continued to spout that I was stupid, ignorant, uninformed, and talking out my ass. He accused me of being a Republican, perhaps the biggest insult of the night, and summed up my invitation to the other two to come and debate here by saying that any asshole can write a blog. What he never did was offer a single fact for debate. Not one. The entirety of his argument was that I was a stupid Republican and my writing a blog doesn’t mean anything (the one point that I agree with). I don’t imagine he will attempt to come here and engage any of us here. But I certainly hope that he does…
At any rate I watched the debate and saw nothing but party rhetoric from both sides. I obviously was more supportive of the Republicans in this case because I don’t want this health care bill. It is a bad bill. What I found interesting was that the insults thrown around at me tonight were exactly the same things being thrown around in the Senate. And I find it appalling that this is what the American citizen has fallen to. Allow me to expound on some of what I saw in the Senate tonight, and pepper in a few comments from my personal debates for the evening.
Before I begin, allow me to say something about the opinions here. The person who attacked me led out with an extensive resume recitation that was apparently meant to say that he was far smarter than I, and that he had the degrees and experience to back it up. I think that we can all agree that if there is one thing that we have all learned on this site, it is that the level of education is not the determining factor for what someone knows. We have all ranges of education here. Folks with PhD’s, all the way to folks who are high school dropouts. Yet everyone has something important to add to the conversation. Experience working in government gives you a unique perspective, but so does working as a street sweeper. What is important in our debates is the ability to think with critical thought. Nothing else matters. Critical thought is the key to understanding your position, its strengths and weaknesses, and analyzing the positions of others. I have seen comments on this site that folks like BF, JAC, PeterB, Mathius, or myself are far “smarter” and therefore understand things better. I say bulldookey.
What makes those folks credible is that they think critically, and stick to values and principles. They attempt to eliminate contradictions in thinking. THAT, my friends, is what I feel makes the readership of this blog, every one of you, unique in the world of political discourse. Every reader who has stuck around on this site has done so because they are critical thinkers and willing to hear out the other side of any issue. I thank you all for that. It is what makes my time here valuable as opposed to an argument where the only argument against me is that I am “stupid”.
I led off my watching with John McCain, who bashed the President for his campaign promise broken that discussions and deliberations about health care reform would be open, televised, and transparent. I absolutely am with John on this. The sheer magnitude of back room deals done to get this bill passed has been abhorrent. Far from being the most transparent legislation passed, as the President promised, it is perhaps the most secretive legislation I recall ever seeing. Closed door sessions, payoffs to AARP, big pharma, Congress members (most notably the deals for LA and NE members). And cap that off with sessions called at midnight and votes completed at 1:00 am. Everything about this bill points to legislation that the party in power is determined to get passed before the American public has the opportunity to read it and see what a absolute failure of a bill it will be.
That was followed by Senator Harkin from Iowa. I have to say I heard nothing from him besides the liberal rhetoric. He said Republicans are in disarray and the party of no because they haven’t offered an alternative solution. A few thoughts on this. First, Republicans aren’t going to waste hundreds of hours writing a bill that has zero chance of passage in a Senate that has 60 votes against it. Second, not having an alternative bill is not a valid reason to vote for this bill. If jumping off a cliff is the option at hand, you don’t vote yes simply because someone hasn’t offered an alternative plan. This bill is jumping off a cliff. No alternative bill is not a good reason to vote yes on a bad bill (I am attempting to wade through what I can find on the bill so that I can write about it, but another 400 pages of amendments were added yesterday morning). It was worth noting that you could of made a drinking game by drinking every time he said the word “supermajority” and been drunk in 5 minutes.
Then Senator Dodd got up and gave a moving tribute to Ted Kennedy and talked about how a failure to vote yes for this bill would be to dishonor the legacy of the late Senator, who fought for years to get health care for all passed. Again, not a pertinent reason to support the bill. But I add this just so you can see the kind of absolute bullshit that passes for “debate” in the Senate. The reason it was done, in my opinion, is because it ate up 10 minutes of the one hour this evening allocated before a vote to end debate. Ten minutes of Dodd’s BS was ten minutes the Republicans couldn’t voice opposition for Americans to hear.
Finally, the Senate Minority Leader took the podium. Mitch McConnel, who is about as exciting to listen to as watching grass grow. He talks too slow, with too many pauses, and far too little “fire”. But his comments, despite lacking emotion, were pertinent. He talked about how if the Democrats were actually proud of what they were doing, it wouldn’t be done behind closed doors, and it wouldn’t be debated and voted on in the middle of the night on the weekend.
Then the vote went on and was passed strictly on party lines. All Republicans voted no. The two Independents voted yes, and the 58 Democrats voted yes (although not without some payoffs to make it happen). Debate was closed on the amendments. It looks as thought the final bill passage vote will be Tuesday morning. All we can do is pray for a defector at this point.
But what I have really been paying attention to lately is the tone and rhetoric in the Senate. It is as bad as I can remember it. For those who didn’t catch it in the news, I thought that the conduct of Stuart Smalley in his capacity of President of the Senate (a post that rotates nearly hourly through all Democrats) was deplorable. Joe Lieberman was offering comments and debate on the subject when his ten minutes ended. He requested “a few moments” to finish his thoughts, a routine request that is almost always granted. That is just the decorum of the Senate. However, instead of simply allowing Lieberman to finish, the junior idiot Senator from Minnesota decided instead to object and cut Lieberman off. It was ignorant, and uncalled for. Lieberman was stunned. John McCain stood up and stated that he felt that what was happening in the Senate was wrong.
That is the mindset of the Democrats in control of Congress now. They have literally given the Republicans the finger and told them to go screw themselves. They are not interested in debate. They are not interested in hearing opposing viewpoints. They don’t care what the American public thinks. They don’t care about anything. They see an opportunity to ram through any bill they like, with no ability for anyone to stop them. And they are attempting to capitalize on it as quickly as possible. I wrote months ago about how they have passed more legislation in this session of Congress than any other Congress in history. And that should tell the American people something. It means debates aren’t happening. It means they are ramming things through at record speed.
It also means they are well aware that their days are numbered. The Democrats will no longer control Congress after the 2010 elections. And they know it. They knew it when they won the 2008 elections. They knew right away that they had a two year window to go crazy with legislation. They knew they wouldn’t be taken out of power for what they were about to do. Which means they knew that the American people would not approve of what they were about to do. So they have moved at breakneck speed to get everything done they can.
So tonight, I find myself frustrated with Congress yet again. And I am disappointed to see how uncivil, and how incompetent, and how petty, the representatives of the people have become. I am frustrated to see such open corruption, buying votes and stifling debates, insane rhetoric and illogical legislations. And I am frustrated with how so many Americans have sacrificed their principles and values, accepted the idea of gigantic government and dependency, and rejected the ideas of personal responsibility, individual freedom, and liberty. I have found myself in a night where I see such a daunting task ahead if we are to ever have our country regain what made her great. And I have found myself truly afraid of the path that our country is on. We have to find a way forward. We have to stop the madness. And we have to take actions that will do it now……
I am not preaching revolution. That isn’t my style. I am simply baffled at the moment on the true way to make progress.