Fringe Republicans (UPDATED)

A new poll released this morning shows just how pervasive those crazy birther conspiracy theories have become among certain circles:

Do you believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America or not?

Yes: 77%

No/Not Sure: 23%

23%? That seems pretty high–let’s break it down. Among Democrats:

Yes: 93%

No/Not Sure: 7%

Alright, that seems pretty definitive. What about among Independents?

Yes: 83%

No/Not Sure: 17%

Once again, pretty definitive. Republicans?

Yes: 42%

No/Not Sure: 58%

Whoa, hold on, stop the presses. 58% of Republicans either think Barack Obama wasn‘t born in the United States or aren’t sure ? Are you kidding me?

That’s right–birtherism, in some form or another, is a majority opinion among Republicans. And at 58-42, it’s not even close–if this were an election, it would be a landslide.

So here’s the logical conclusion you can draw from all this: birthers are fringe, most Republicans are birthers, therefore most Republicans are fringe.

I guess having Barack Obama in the White House really has brought out the nascent craziness on the right.

UPDATE: Below the fold…

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BREAKING: Sen. Dodd Diagnosed With Cancer (UPDATED)

The Hartford Courant has the exclusive:

U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd has been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer.

Dodd is scheduled to undergo surgery during the Senate’s August recess and said he expects to be back at work after a “brief recuperation” at home.

“It’s something that’s very common among men my age,” said Dodd, who is 65 and the father of two young daughters. “In fact, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their life.” Dodd, a Democrat who is up for re-election in November 2010, said he feels fine. “As you have probably noticed, I’m working some long and hard hours lately,” he said. “And that will continue.”

Dodd, a Democrat, said he feels fine and intends to run for re-election in November 2010. “As you have probably noticed, I’m working some long and hard hours lately,” he said. “And that will continue.”

[Emphasis mine]

Our thoughts and prayers are with Sen. Dodd and his family.

I’m loath to politicize this, but I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t note that, as a member of Congress, Sen. Dodd will receive top-notch treatment for his cancer–treatment that tens of millions of Americans would not receive if they were given the same diagnosis.

Sen. Dodd is one of the good guys on health care reform, but I hope that his fellow members of Congress–particularly the Blue Dogs and conservative Democrats–will remember that we help pay for their health care when they get sick; the least they can do for us in return is to pass substantive, meaningful health care reform.

UPDATE: Below the fold…

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The Cost Of Inaction

COST

In all of the fearmongering about the cost of health care reform, ask yourself–what is the cost of inaction?

Here’s a hint, from Bloomberg:

The last time a president tried to overhaul U.S. health care, Americans were spending $912 billion on the system and 40 million were uninsured. Today they’re spending $2.5 trillion and almost 50 million lack coverage.

[…]

The experience of the 15 years since Bill Clinton failed to win passage of legislation suggests that the price of inaction may be even higher than the cost of Obama’s plan.

Congress refused to touch the issue for a decade after the collapse of Clinton’s 1994 bid. A similar outcome this year would likely add millions to the ranks of the uninsured, boost costs for businesses and workers, and do nothing about what may be the top threat to the government’s long-term fiscal health, proponents of the plan argue.

[Emphasis added]

This is why health care reform is so important.  Our health care system is deteriorating–the ranks of the uninsured are swelling, costs are rising, and businesses and individuals just can’t keep up.  It was bad 15 years ago, it’s worse now, and without health care reform it will become far worse.

Remember, the people trying to kill health care reform don’t have a reform proposal of their own; it’s not as if they can solve our health care crisis better or cheaper.  They don’t care what the real-world implications of the health care crisis; they just want to stymie reform so they can keep collecting checks from the health industrial complex.

These are the stakes:

Health-insurance premiums for families have risen 119 percent since 1999, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a Menlo Park, California-based policy-research firm. Inflation has risen 28.5 percent over that period, according to the Labor Department.

Premium costs are projected to rise another 9 percent next year, an increase that 42 percent of employers plan to pass on to their workers, according to a report last month by PricewaterhouseCoopers. That’s likely to further squeeze millions of Americans who find themselves in high-deductible insurance plans as wages stagnate because of the recession.

[…]

Health-care spending will account for 20 percent of U.S. gross domestic product in 2018, or $1 in $5 spent, compared with 16 percent of GDP, $1 of $6 spent, in 2008.

[Emphasis added]

The price tag for health care reform is big, but the cost of inaction is huge. We will pay far more for failing to pass health care reform than for just passing it.

All the Republicans and Blue Dogs complaining about the price of health care reform know this; they just don’t care. As I said, the only people who have their ears on this issue are the people who fund their campaigns.

But the rest of us are suffering. America is suffering. And without reform, we will continue to suffer.  A trillion dollars is small compared to the trillions of dollars we will pay to prop up our ailing health care system year after year, even as we get less and less in return.

Bring ‘Em Home

MILLER

Secretary of Defense Gates says withdrawal from Iraq may happen more quickly than originally planned:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said on Wednesday that as many as 5,000 United States troops could come home from Iraq earlier than the Pentagon had planned because violence levels in the country were generally down and Iraqi security forces were doing well on their own.

Under the existing plan, two brigades, or about 10,000 troops, are to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2009. Mr. Gates said it was now possible that an additional brigade, or 5,000 troops, would come home by that time.

[…]

Asked if he saw anything in Iraq that gave him reason to think there could be a slowdown or acceleration in the planned troop withdrawal, Mr. Gates replied, “I don’t think there’s anything in the cards for a slowdown.” Then he added, “I think there’s at least some chance of a modest acceleration because of the way General Odierno sees things going. But that remains to be seen.”

[…]

There are currently about 130,000 United States troops in Iraq. The current plan calls for a modest drawdown by the end of this year so that there are still large numbers of American troops in place to help keep stability for Iraqi elections in January 2010. From March through August 2010, the plan calls for a steep drawdown of some 80,000 troops, so that by the end of next summer there remains a “residual force” of 30,000 to 50,000 troops. Under an agreement with the Iraqi government, all United States forces have to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

[Emphasis mine]

6 years, 4,300+ American casualties and several trillion dollars later, our long national nightmare–well, at least one of our GOP-crafted national nightmares–is coming to an end.

It’s about damn time.

Blue Dog$

There is a lack of honesty in the health care debate. In particular, with the coverage of the Blue Dogs and other conservative Democrats who are trying to stymie health care reform.

Most Blue Dogs/conservative Democrats come from competitive districts, meaning that every two years they need enough money to mount strong campaigns.

That’s where the insurance industry and the rest of the health industrial complex step in–they’re more than happy to provide those members with the funds they need.  Of course, such funds have strings attached–explicit or implicit–that cause those members to do such things as block health care reform.

More below…

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Stop lying about health care and abortion.

It’d be nice if conservatives would actually tell the truth about health care. Particularly about abortion in the health care reform bills, which have become the latest conservative flash point.

For example, Michael Steele gives us an article entitled: Obamacare Pushes Abortion. He tells us that

This abortion mandate would not just apply to the Democrats’ government-run “option.” Any private plans that receive taxpayer subsidies to provide coverage to people with low to moderate incomes — and under the Democrats’ plan that would be nearly all of them — would have to provide coverage for abortions, and pay for them with taxpayer dollars, too.

Two paragraphs earlier, though, he says that

As the bill is written, there is nothing that could keep federal bureaucrats from mandating that coverage of abortions be included in the “essential benefits package.”

There’s a pretty big difference between “pushing abortion” and requiring that taxpayers pay for them, and a lack of language forbidding coverage for it.

And while there are plenty of arguments to be made for government subsidizing abortions for poor women (Frances Kissling makes a good one, for example), in today’s political climate, where even President Obama says that “we also have a tradition of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government funded health care,” it’s not going to happen.

Oh, one more lie from Michael Steele:

Voters want health care reform. So do Republicans.

Really? I think there’s plenty of evidence that Republicans don’t.

BREAKING: Judge Sotomayor Approved By Senate Judiciary Committee

HuffPo has it:

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday voted to approve Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice over nearly solid Republican opposition, paving the way for a historic confirmation vote.

The panel voted 13-6 in favor of Sotomayor, with just one Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, joining Democrats to support her. The nearly party-line tally masked deeper political divisions within GOP ranks about confirming President Barack Obama’s first high court nominee.

[Emphasis added]

Next, Judge Sotomayor’s nomination will be referred to the full Senate, where she is expected to easily win confirmation despite the GOP’s attempts at obstructionism.