Hey, everybody! What's up?
Not too much here. Jamie made a nice fish dinner last night which managed to actually be healthy and taste good (she's been making some headway lately in proving to me that these two characteristics aren't necessarily mutually exclusive). Anyway, hooray for Jamie for making us good, healthy dinners!! My body and I appreciate it.
We watched the pilot episode (actually 2 episodes) of Lost last night with accompaniement by Rifftrax. The guys at Rifftrax release audio funny audio commentary tracks to be played along with various movies and TV shows (think Mystery Science Theater). People can either sync up these tracks with the movies on their own, or (as often happens) copy these tracks onto their own copies of the movies to make for easier viewing that way.
Anyway, the Rifftrax Lost episodes were pretty funny. I enjoyed them quite a bit (as with the original MST, some jokes are funnier than others, but they come at a fast and furious pace, so even if you're not laughing at one particular joke, you usually end up laughing at the next one). I was a little distracted by Scout, Lucy, and Cassidy (who were a little restless and looking for some fun), but I enjoyed the show.
Obama has announced that he's going to address the nation on health care reform in a joint session of Congress on September 9th in an effort to bolster support the plan.
The cable news channels have been spending lots of time talking about what a big chance Obama is taking by continuing to push for health care reform, and about how a failure in passing this legislation could undermine the success of his presidency, hurt his credibility, and call his effectiveness into question.
I think that line of reasoning doesn't hold much water. I mean, it gives the pundits something to talk about, but I just don't think it's true.
Obama is working earnestly and honestly to try to pass a piece of legislation that he honestly believes is in the best interests of the American people. He's being actively opposed by a large number of conservatives, lobbyists, and special interest groups, most of whom have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. I have a hard time believing that public opinion will shift radically against him on the basis of failure regarding this one single issue (maybe I'm naive, but I think the public can respect someone for failing to succeed at something, so long as they put up a hard battle for a worthwhile cause that they believe in).
And I think that for some of these reform opponents, their actual driving interest is simply in seeing the president fail to pass the legislation. Some of these people really want to see health care reform fail for no greater reason that the fact that they think such a failure will detract from the president's power and make him look more vulnerable. I think that's kind of a ridiculous reason to oppose the president. I think the president is still very aware that we still have a large conservative and/or right-of-center population in this country, and I think that's why the president has frequently been so pragmatic and, frankly, has often failed to pursue an agenda which is as progressive as many of his liberal supporters would like to see (the president has been less aggressive in instituting environmental protections than many would like, has been slow to address issues surrounding gay rights, has been reluctant to pursue charges regarding torture of prisoners, has been slow to shut down Guantanamo Bay, etc.). In fact, the president seems determined to seek bipartisan support on a number of issues, while Republicans have remained resolute in their determination not to bend an inch on the overwhelming majority of the items they've addressed.
Anyway, if we somehow end up not getting any sort of health care reform passed, I think the president will still be doing okay so long as he can demonstrate the fact that he put in a valiant effort with the intention of getting better, more cost effective health care for all of the American people .
I still have high hopes for the passage of some kind of health care reform bill, anyway. First of all, Obama proved during the campaign that he's a calm, cool leader who's willing to bide his time and look for openings. Also, the Democrats that he's surrounded himself with are fairly sharp strategists. I've heard pundits talk repeatedly about how healthcare reform failed during the Clinton years because Clinton put his plan out there early on, thereby giving the Republicans a chance to nitpick the details and slowly tear it apart while simultaneously building anti-reform momentum among the American people.
This time it seems like Obama has put off giving a finalized version of the plan until the last minute (thereby denying opponents the ability to try to hang the thing up on details), and he let Congress stir up emotion and public debate on the issue much earlier in the process. There have been tons of angry town halls and demonstrations and lots of lies that have been spread (which have been shockingly effective), but I'm starting to think that maybe health care opponents let their emotional fury peak too early. People are getting tired of the emotional rants and the nonsensical shouting, and the lies and propaganda came out early enough in the process that the Democrats have actually been given a decent opportunity to counter all of the misrepresentations with facts (although I question how well they've pulled off the correction of factual inaccuracies- hopefully they're getting better at that). Once the initial outpouring of emotion has passed and the public has spent a lot of its hysterical energy and worn itself out, people might actually calm down long enough to actually listen to what's in the bill, learn about reform, and make a decision based on logic and reason rather than adrenaline and passion.
And that's pretty much where the Democrats want people.
I think the White House feels like health care reform is pretty much going to sell itself (something needs to be done about the uninsured population and rising costs, most people will agree) if people can actually calm down long enough to think about the issue rationally (and if the distortions and lies of health care opponents can be effectively neutralized). If health care reform actually fails on its own merits after people have given it a real, legitimate chance and fairly considered it, then that's one thing. Democrats just don't want it falling victim to right wing lies, propaganda, and fear mongering.
So the president may be more crafty than what people (myself included) have given him credit for. He's good at keeping a cool head and sticking to strategy when my general inclination would be to get emotional and reactionary. I hope he's been biding his time and holding fast to some kind of strategy, but it's hard not to get nervous when it seems like he's not fighting back hard enough against the attacks of his opponents.
And in other Obama news, there are anti-Obama parents across the country who are apparently trying to demand that their children be "opted out" of listening to a pro-education address to elementary, middle, and high school students on Tuesday. Can people get any more ridiculous? The nonpolitical, pro-education presidential message is being characterized as "indoctrination" by opponents who have tried to demand that their children be excused or be allowed to pariticipate in alternate activities. Parents have accused the president of being "underhanded" and "socialistic" (note: this was taken from a Fox News article, so I'm not sure how many people actually have taken this viewpoint).
A bunch of parents going out of their way to teach closed mindedness, intolerance, and paranoia to their kids? Super.
You would think it would be a fairly nonpartisan issue when the leader of what is probably the most powerful country on the planet takes some time out to tell kids how important education is in providing opportunities for them during their lives. I'm guessing that some of the parents protesting this message never really got that message themselves. When a man who has accomplished as much as the president takes some time out to give a message (especially a really positive one about the value of learning) shouldn't people be encouraging their kids to at least listen to the man for a moment? It's not as if Obama's going to use his mind control powers on them (he needs to conserve that super power for the health care reform debate). Shouldn't people at least encourage their kids to listen to the man and make up their own minds? Or wait- is the idea that their kids might make up their own minds exactly the sort of thing that these parents fear?
As much as I dislike Dick Cheney (and I probably dislike the man about as much as I've ever disliked and/or distrusted any political leader in recent history), I can honestly say that I would still encourage kids to listen to the man if he wanted to give kids a speech about the importance of education. Even though Cheney eventually decided to use the abilities developed in him for to pursue an agenda that I strongly disagree with, I think it would probably be worth having your kids listen to the man tell them how important education is if you want to have a job like vice president. I would tell them that he's not always right just because he's vice president, and they need to listen to him and make up their own minds, but I would still tell them to listen to the man.
I just don't understand the hate. I don't understand the vitriol. What the hell have the Democrats done to harm these people in a way that inspires such animosity? Tried to give people better health care? Tried to cut back on the number of troops who are occupying countries that most conservatives don't even care about? Tried to raise wages for poor people? Obama has said he's not even going to raise taxes on people unless they make more than $250,000, and I'm pretty sure that most of the people pulling their kids out of school in order to avoid a presidential pep talk don't fall into that category.
Anyway, just one more reason to feel sort of glum about the vast amounts of stupidity that seem to be floating around our country these days. I'm hoping that this knee jerk reaction is less widespread than the press (in particular Fox News) is making it sound. Which is entirely possible.
Well, that's all I've got today.