George Carlin and the ‘better-than-nothing future’

Remember the late George Carlin's routine where the Hippie Dippy Weatherman reports that radar pinpoints a line of thundershowers? He goes on to say that radar also shows Russian missiles heading our way, "So don't sweat the thundershowers.”

This is similar. There are urgent predictions that unless there is meaningful healthcare reform, the nation will soon face a medical emergency.


Playing healthcare poker

Reportedly, President Barack Obama was a canny poker player when he served in the Illinois state Senate. And it looks like those skills came in handy as he tried to win a big healthcare pot at the end of this session of Congress. But throughout this process, the president and his team have made several common poker-playing mistakes that have complicated the legislative process and made his seeming victory much less valuable than it might have been. Having played a few hands of poker myself, I recognize some of those mistakes. Indeed, I have made many of them myself. Here are a few of them.


Snowed under

For an old-timer like me, the snow that blanketed the D.C. region was a beauty to behold. It brought back memories of snowball fights and snowmen and sledding in the days of my youth.

My 3-year-old son, on the other hand, hated the snow. He doesn’t like to be cold, and while he liked the snow to look at through the window, he hated the idea of going outside.

It made for a long weekend, me wanting to go outside and recapture my youth, and him wanting to stay inside and keep warm.


Healthcare: Bonnie and Clyde go to conference

The Senate has now entered the age of extortion, blackmail and what can only be called legislative racketeering. Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who often talk about the budget deficit, have become the Bonnie and Clyde of the Senate, bartering their vote for payoffs that, of course, increase the deficit at taxpayer expense.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) should be removed as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. Every Democrat throughout the nation represented by a Democratic senator should contact that member and urge a vote to remove Lieberman as chairman.


Lieberman, Lanny and friends

Fellow blogger, columnist and friend Lanny Davis wrote me yesterday to take issue with my column on Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). 
The same day I was writing my column on Joe, Lanny was writing his own about the "hateful, suicidal impulses of the Democratic hard left," and pointed out that a "hypocritical silence" followed Lieberman's opposition to a Medicare expansion when numerous liberal senators including Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Minnesota Democratic Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar all signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) expressing concerns over a Medicare buy-in since it did not provide for adequate reimbursement rates. 


Roadblocks to passage

The chances of healthcare reform passing before Christmas are now dimming as Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) recedes from the spotlight and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) returns to it.

Nelson's concerns over the legislation providing for federal funds to be spent on abortion remain the final key hurdle, and any day lost to negotiations increases the likelihood that the bill is a goner in 2009.


Howard Dean versus the White House

Things are getting hot between Howard Dean, who has called for the defeat of the pending Senate healthcare bill, and the White House, which is very angry with Dean. Here is my take:

I completely agree with Howard Dean about the Senate bill. This has now become an embarrassment for the Democratic Party and the president, who have been neutered by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).


It's all about Joe

The Hill's A.B. Stoddards answers viewer questions about the Senate's healthcare bill and how Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has changed the Democrats' plan for healthcare reform.


Healthcare reform, and other clichés

There are certain clichés that can get really, really irritating. The platitudinous baditudinous attitudinous simmers each and every time someone says, "We shouldn't make the perfect the enemy of the good.” Some sort of ridicule is in order, like maybe a "Kick me" sign.

We usually hear it these days from those trying to gut healthcare reform, leaving an almost empty shell. Offenders also include Democratic leaders, who are desperately trying to avoid the embarrassment of outright defeat, which would probably devastate their party, to say nothing of its president.


Use reconciliation and pass a strong public option

In my column in the paper today I wrote of "Obama's fat cats,” those he spoke against with boldness and daring on "60 Minutes" Sunday night, but addressed with timidity and weakness on Monday morning at his White House meeting with Wall Street and banking CEOs.

Now, with fat-cat insurance CEOs on the brink of a total victory on healthcare that will let them raise their $10 million salaries even as they raise insurance premiums for Americans, under a bill that forces 30 million Americans to buy their product, and taxes them as punishment if they don't, it is time to make a stand.