Public Option Punked? And By Whom?

So the Senate Finance Committee decided to vote no on two proposals that would have put a public option in their versions of a healthcare reform bill. Both proposals, one by Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and the other, from Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, went down to defeat because of the treachery of a total of five Democrats.

Does this mean the public option is dead?

Nope. It just means there are a majority of lawmakers on the Finance Committee prefer to look out for themselves instead of the American people. The Republican rationale drips with hypocrisy. These people have taken “government can’t do anything right” as their personal mantra. Yet why do they oppose the public option? Because they’re deathly afraid government will do healthcare right, and put some of their buddies in the health insurance business out looking for other work.

And some of them should be. I’m talking about those who won’t insure people with pre-existing conditions, those who drop people the minute they get sick, those who raise rates to unconscionable levels for no reason other than to rake in big bucks. Some of those bucks they turn around and spend on the same elected officials who would have us believe their votes are about principle.

For the record, the Democratic punks of the Senate Finance Committee include Senators Max Baucus (committee chair), Kent Conrad, Blanche Lincoln, Bill Nelson, and Thomas Carper. Each will say they have legit reasons for opposing a public option. It’s nonsense, pure and simple.

So, what’s next?

President Barack Obama, that’s what!

He says he supports a public option, but as yet he hasn’t insisted on it.

Now is the time, Mr. President. Time to play hardball, time to stand up for the people who elected you. It’s time to tell the punks you won’t sign any healthcare reform bill that crosses your desk without a public option. If you can tell a sitting Democratic Governor of New York to drop out of a race that’s a year away, you can do this.

It ought to be a piece of cake.

Healthcare reform without a public option is no reform at all. That’s why the Republicans are making it their last stand. They don’t want real competition for their friends in the healthcare industry. The issue here really isn’t them, but what the “good Democrats” in Congress and at the White House are prepared to do.  Is Harry Reid ready to use reconciliation to get this thing done?

And will the House eventually hammer out a bill with a public option that can win a majority?

You tell me. Is the public option still alive?

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Kill Obama Poll on Facebook. Should Poster Go To Jail?

Yes, there was a user-generated poll on Facebook posing the question “Should Obama be killed?” Reports say a blogger at The Political Carnival noticed it, wrote about it, then alerted the Secret Service.

As of Monday, it was taken down, and yes, the Secret Service is probing just who posted it in the first place. Yet the boldness of such a question on THE most prominent social networking site Brings up a host of other questions.

Why do some people feel empowered to believe that, because they disagree with a president’s policies, he should be killed? Sure, there have always been a tiny number of people who felt this way, and an even smaller number who have acted on it. Yet what we’re seeing is something deeper and more virulent. It’s as if Barack Obama’s presence in the White House has unleashed a wellspring of pent up hatred.

This hatred, it must be said, has been fueled by the fanaticism of some right wing radio and television hosts. These folks and their supporters will adamantly deny they have any role at all in the Obama hating. Yet guns and ammunition are being purchased in record numbers, and some people are acting as though talking about killing the President of the United States is protected free speech.

These toads can say they’re entertainers, and their hatred is protected by the First Amendment. They’d be right on both counts. However, there is the small issue of acting in a responsible manner, and making your opposition clear while avoiding language that can trigger people to take violent action. Trust me, it’s not that hard to do.

Right now we don’t know who posted that assassination poll on Facebook. It could have been some bored kid, or it could have been a person with more sinister intentions. Either way, the poster used an add-on application, meaning that once it was taken down, the responses to the poll are no longer available. Despite the fact that I’m an idiot when it comes to computers, I have a feeling the Secret Service will find a way to figure out who posted it.

obama-facebook

Which leads to the question, is the poll itself criminal? Certainly advocating that President Obama be killed is,but if whoever did this has a good lawyer, I’m sure the argument will be made that he or she wasn’t advocating anything. However, maybe that’s not the point. Why is anyone asking in a public forum whether our President should be killed? The answer to that question could go a long way toward explaining the hate that seems to flow from some at the mention of his name.

So, you tell me. Should the person who posted the poll on assassinating President Obama go to jail?

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Sex with a minor. Should Roman Polanski be Extradited to US?

It’s been 32 years since film director Roman Polanski was tried and convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old girl. In 1977, the case drew worldwide attention, with many commentators at the time using it to show the depravity and excess of Hollywood. Polanski, fearful a judge would back out of a plea agreement and send him to prison, left the country prior to his sentencing to live in France.

roman.polanski.arrest

It must have come as quite a shock when he was arrested in Switzerland this past weekend. He was there, after all, to receive an award at the Zurich Film Festival. He’d traveled there many times before, and even maintains a home in Switzerland. Yet the ghosts of 32 years past won’t go away. It’s possible Roman Polanski will be extradited to the US to face the sentence he ran away from all those years ago.

Ironically, it could also mean freedom. A lot has happened since Polanski was convicted, and his legal team has been fighting his conviction based on allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. Those were chronicled in a documentary, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” released last year. Regardless, Polanski’s arrest has set off not just a legal tussle, but a diplomatic storm involving the Swiss, French, US, and Polish governments.

Polanski has spent the past 32 years as the world’s most celebrated convicted child molester. Despite the time facing him in the US, he’s directed films around the world apparently without fear of getting busted and sent back. He’s now a French citizen, and France has no formal extradition treaty with the US. He even received an Oscar in absentia for the 2002 film “The Pianist”. Despite having to be careful about where he went, Polanski hasn’t exactly lived as a wanted man.

Roman Polanski 2009

Which leads to a few questions. How badly over the past 32 years has the US actually wanted him back here to do his time? There are reports US marshals came close to busting him on several occasions, but for one reason or another, Roman Polanski eluded their grasp. Then there’s the question of whether Polanski’s obvious and extraordinary talent and his tragic past mitigates his original crime.

For those who may have forgotten, the guy was originally charged with drugging a 13 year old girl, then having sex with her. The original charges could have landed him in prison for life, but he plea bargained down to a single count of having sex with a minor.

The victim, Samantha Geimer, publicly identified herself a long time ago, and has forgiven Polanski.

Samantha Geimer
Samantha Geimer

She also sued him, and received an unspecified settlement. So the question remains, what to do about Roman Polanski?

Should he be brought back here to serve the typical 16 months to three years he’s avoided all this time? Should the protests of France and Poland be heeded, and Polanski released from custody in Switzerland? If he does come back here, is there a good chance the original case will be thrown out? What’s best?

Take my poll on the left and post a comment here!

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