odd time signatures

Shake your fists, then get real

Pretty DancerAs long-time readers know, my daughter (Ms. Dancer) is a competitive dancer. She has competed in world, national and regional competitions. Like all kids competing at her level, she discovered early on that even if she outdanced the competition, she could still lose because the judges liked the look of the other dancer, their hair, the color of their dress, or some other detail that simply held their attention. She learned a hard lesson at a young age: being the best doesn’t guarantee the win. Worse yet, it seemed that she would miss her goal by one place. This was to be the one constant of her competitive career. (She’s on hiatus right now due to a situation with the status of her school.)

Our conversations would go the same way every time. She’d suck it up in public, put on a smile and be gracious to the winner, get in the car, burst into tears and declare, “It’s NOT FAIR!!!”, to which I would reply “You’re right. It’s not. But it’s what it is. Do you quit? Or do you go on to the next one?” Those were real options. She knew she had the right to quit at any time without any protest from me as long as she understood her own reasons for doing so, and was honest about them.

She’d cry, shake her fists, rail at the subjective judges and the next day she’d put her shoes on, go back to the studio, practice some more and we’d go on to the next competition. Over the ten years she competed, she climbed through the standings to be a top-20 dancer in a 7-state region, top-10 in California in her age group.

We both learned to let go of disappointment and work harder for the better result, building on the strengths and working out the weaknesses. So what does this have to do with my normal topics?

It’s time for Democrats to unify, suck it up, and get this done

If you think I’m not furious with Joe Lieberman, you’d be wrong. I am. During his press conference today I wanted to slap that grin right off his face. His self-aggrandizing love-fest with himself is enough to make anyone scream, even Howard Dean, who doesn’t need much encouragement to get his own share of the spotlight.

There is nothing more maddening that feeling like you’ve put a ton of work into something only to have some arrogant jerk step on your hand and take it away in the blink of an eye. I get that. I feel that. Ms. Dancer and I both know that feeling way too well.

Here’s the thing: We’re not Charlie Brown and Joe Lieberman isn’t Lucy. This is how it’s done, like it or not, and it’s really time to step up and look at reality. I want to take some of the common themes I’m seeing around blogs, Twitter and the like and really break them down to see if they’re myths or the real deal.

Democrats have the votes to ram it through

Here’s where the reality check makes a difference. Let’s count the Senators, one by one. Nope, still only 58 and of those 58, probably 55 are a sure vote. Then there’s Bernie Sanders, and…oh HAI, it’s Joe Lieberman.

So no, we don’t have the votes, because cloture needs 60 votes, and to get to 60, we need a Republican or two or else complete and total unity inside the caucus.

Lieberman gets this. Why don’t we?

Conclusion: We don’t have the votes. Myth busted.

We’ve been sold out by [choose your name: Obama, Reid, Rahm]

Let’s see if I can put this argument together. It goes like this: If [Obama, Reid, Rahm] really wanted to, they could twist arms and MAKE THEM VOTE FOR WHAT WE WANT. They’re (choose as many as apply): a) sellouts; b) crummy leaders; c) intentionally sabotaging health care reform; or d) Republicans in disguise.


  • We’ve established that there aren’t 60 votes if no compromise is made.
  • Every day things stay at an impasse is one more day Republicans get to bring primitive foamboard charts to the floor (I’ve been waiting for the felt charts to come out with little Jesus figures on them like Sunday school…) and tell lots of lies with lots of soundbites about the reform package.
  • We can get 60 votes if we a) Delay until mid-January, as Ms. Snowe wishes; or b) play ball with Joe Lieberman.

Fact: It isn’t fair. What are you going to do? Quit or move on? Hold onto blame and disappointment or work with what you’ve got, take the good out, work harder to fix what you don’t like in the next round?

Myth: It’s a sellout. It’s not a sellout. It’s how this stuff works. You can argue about Lieberman’s motives, but the bottom line is that Lieberman holds the trump card, he’s played it, and we can deal with the disappointment and come back harder and stronger in the next round, or pick up our toys and go home.

Whining, by the way, is not an option. Not with my daughter, and not in my mythbusting scenarios.

If President Obama were a better leader, he’d MAKE [insert name here] give in

He’s the President of the United States, not a Mafia don. The Republicans might think he’s a big bad scary black dude, but he’s really just a smart guy with a decent head for how this stuff goes, and a doggone pragmatic streak that just drives idealists nuts.

To those who like this argument, I’d be very interested to know when the last time was that they were successful by yanking someone up and “making them do it”.

Good luck with that.

Fact: Democrats have competing priorities under this big top, and represent constituencies that include pharma, insurance companies, doctors, medical device manufacturers, and other interested parties. Some Democrats represent budget hawk districts, where they’re expected to be the keepers of fiscal purity. Corollary: Democrats aren’t Republicans. They don’t strongarm their caucus into a strict, unified message. Ask Lindsey Graham what happens when a Republican strays off message. That has never been the style of the left.

Myth: By virtue of being the President, Barack Obama can take individual members to the woodshed and twist their arms to reverse a strongly-held position.

The insurance companies win

Oh, boo hoo. That’s like Ms. Dancer crying because she was second, even though she was…SECOND. In a field of 50.

Plus, they don’t really win. Not so much at all.

To insurers, winning means getting to do what they want, how they want, at whatever price they want, to whatever customers they choose, for the highest profit margin they can squeeze.

So what do they get? Required guaranteed issue of every insured with no underwriting requirements; minimum medical loss ratio of 85% (or 90%, depending); requirement to submit rate increases in advance with full justification; requirement to post detailed information about how premium dollars are spent on the Internet; requirement to cover claims without lifetime or annual caps on benefits; requirement to adjust focus from illness to wellness by covering preventive procedures 100%; and loss of the right to arbitrarily withdraw coverage from any insured at will right when the person needs them most; and best of all, limits on the differential between younger insureds and older ones.

They also get what they’ve resisted most for a very long time: regulation. Heavy, heavy regulation.

Yeah, that sounds like a win to me. How about you?

No, the insurance companies don’t win.

We’re screwed because we don’t have a public option

I’m not going to spend a lot of real estate on this one, since I already proved the public option to be a symbolic and sacred cow that has little to do with cost control and everything to do with a promise of a future single payer system.

Are we screwed? Well…other countries have similar arrangements to this, most notably Switzerland. No one died in Switzerland this year because they didn’t have access to health care insurance. Sadly, we can’t say that here in the US.

Finally, there’s no reason the public option or single payer or Medicare expansion can’t be the “work harder to make it better” piece of our future. It is a canard to say that the public option represented reform. It didn’t. It represented part of a larger package of reforms with one single major reform at its heart: Banning exclusion for pre-existing conditions.

We can afford to wait till it can be done right

This comes from the same group who uses the “44,000 people die in the US because they don’t have access to health care argument”? How does that work exactly? We die till we don’t? It’s important, those uninsured dying people till the ideal is more important?

Moreover, I’m trying very hard here to figure out how, with 2010 midterm elections looming large, waiting means somehow snatching a bigger success from a failure. Can anyone familiar with history point to any time where a bill has made it this far, been pulled back by proponents, and lived as a stronger version of itself? I can’t. I couldn’t find one single time where that was the case.

No, we can’t afford to wait. There are too many people hanging by a thread right now.

More importantly, if this is stalled, kiss a jobs bill or a cap-and-trade bill or any other really meaningful legislation goodbye right alongside it because a stoppage on this bill makes winners of teapeople and Republicans. There’s only one message stoppage sends: THE TERRORISTS WIN.

If I were mom of the world, I’d say this: Shake your fists. Be angry. Be active. Be engaged. But don’t be fooled by myths and memes, even when they come from the so-called good guys.

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