Archive for: October, 2009

Good Trick & Bad Treats for Halloween: Praying or Preying on People?

Oct 31 2009 Published by under Featured News

Kimberly Daniels recently wrote about Halloween Candy for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network web site, and her rhetoric about demonic Halloween candy personifies a brand of religion that amounts to Christian superstition. It links to the crazy that is epitomized by extreme fundamentalists.

Daniels wrote for CBN that, “During Halloween, time-released curses are always loosed. A time-released curse is a period that has been set aside to release demonic activity and to ensnare souls in great measure … During this period demons are assigned against those who participate in the rituals and festivities. These demons are automatically drawn to the fetishes that open doors for them to come into the lives of human beings. For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.”

She explained why she does not buy Halloween candy, “I do not buy candy during the Halloween season. Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store.The demons cannot tell the difference.”

I really, really, really want to know HOW Daniels knows the demons can’t tell the difference between purchased grocery store candy and trick or treat obtained candy.

Her warped views hold little similarity to what most people think of as conventional religious faith or spirituality, and holds more in common with Grimm’s Fairy Tales, seances by adolescents at slumber parties, and ghost stories told at camp in the dark in the woods around a camp fire before going to sleep in a tent, (shining a flashlight up your nose, optional).

Daniels’ version of Halloween is as different from real Wicca and modern Paganism as the fictional highly commercialized figure of a red-suited, white bearded fat old man with flying reindeer we think of as Santa Claus differs from the Biblical account of the birth of Christ at Christmas.

Daniels has made a career out preaching a religion of fear at seminars. She prattles on about sex with Demons, time released curses oozing malice like cold tablets release medicine, and trick or treat candy prayed over by witches to curse it.

When I was a child I toured a local Pearson’s candy factory on an elementary school field trip, a place where they make salted nut rolls, nut goodies, mint patties. I sure don’t remember any witches with warts and pointy hats on the tour.

I feel qualified to address Ms. Daniels stupidity passing as faith, because I am a Minnesotan. I live in the fly-over land that is home to crazy fundamentalist Christian zealots like Michele Bachmann. Bachmann during her earliest forays into politics on the local level, served on a charter school board of directors, where she tried to prevent the showing of the Disney movie Aladdin claiming it promoted magic and paganism, while trying to insert teaching Creationism and Christianity into the curriculum.

Bachmann when she subsequently ventured into state politics, is alleged to have brought in a group of other crazies to the chamber of the state legislature while her fellow legislators were away from their seats, to pray over the desks of those legislators who did not agree with her extreme views, in order to change their minds. Apparently that made more sense to her than using reason and critical thinking for persuasion.

Bachmann her co-religionists of the political extreme represents that view of religion that sees prayer as manipulating God to take their side, viewing prayer as if it were equivalent of the witches scene from Shakespeare’s play Mac Beth. They replace prayer for “Double double, toil and trouble, Fire burn and Cauldron bubble” chanting.

It is one thing for Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in his poem Kubla Khan, to create with his words the mental image “A savage place! as holy and enchanted /As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted/By woman wailing for her demon-lover!” but quite another to believe it is real. Religion peddlers like Ms. Daniels assert that having a jack-o-lantern at Halloween is a means of access for demons into your life.

She asserts that Dracula and presumably other vampires, mummies and werewolves, and witches on brooms are real, that people on Halloween can be tricked into having sex with Demons instead of people, and that there is sacrificing of babies, followed by drinking their blood. I’ve actually attended a few pagan Samhain events; people drank Coke and Diet Coke, Mountain Dew and other soft drinks, a few drank beer. No one sacrificed babies or any other living thing, and no one drank blood. (And in case you are wondering, NO, it was not something done as research for this article.)

When I read the article Ms. Daniels wrote, which is all over the Internet despite being taken down by the Robertson web site, I couldn’t avoid the thought that the best explanation for this nonsense was that Daniels had wandered around a Hallmark store or maybe a costume shop while high out of her mind on some kind of hallucinogenic, like a bad trip on LSD, and this was the result. If so, she must trip a lot, because this is a purely seasonal message from Daniels. She’s bat crazy year round, and even crazier people pay good money to listen to her. But then, Daniels is a former prostitute and drug addict; proving the adage that there is no one more self righteous, prudish, crazy religious as a reformed whore – pick your own favorite variation.

I like to read things that are too obscure to interest other people. I read Congressional Bills, Court filings, Orders, and decisions, science papers, obscure literature and poetry, philosophy, and historic documents. I’m one of the few people I know who has actually read the Malleus Malificarum, more commonly known as the Hammer of (or against) Witches, the 15th century witch hunter’s manual. Daniels really should be looking to the classics; she just has no sense of the richness of tradition. Daniels is a light weight; you won’t find any silliness about haunted candy corn in the classic old texts.

I can’t help but wonder if Daniels gets her ideas from watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the spin off series, Angel, that are still showing in syndication; or maybe the Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi marathons on the movie channels; or perhaps from the panels at science fiction conventions.

I’d bet some serious coin that someone with a wicked sense of mischief and a decent familiarity with H. P. Lovecraft could persuade Daniels to preach a sermon or two at one of her seminars against the evils of Cthulu worship. Fiction and fact are so nebulous to crazies like Daniels, the troublesome notion that Cthulu is fictional would likely be completely unimportant, given her views on Dracula being a real live, well, undead, vampire sucking blood out of people. Yeah, more like Daniels sucking money out of people’s pockets.

Of course, the serious side to this silliness is that people like Daniels and the right wing extremists to whom she appeals like to pander to fear and ignorance. They want to create paranoia about people who might find their spirituality in pagan nature worship, or ethnicity based practices, or alternative traditions by equating it to the the most hateful ideas possible.

You know what is really scary? That people like Daniels, and those who pay to listen to her, and those who feature her on their web sites ——–they take her and people like her absolutely seriously. They are convinced that they, and only they, have the right idea, the correct faith, the only acceptable religion, and that they have to either persuade the rest of us or force the rest of us to do and to see things their way. They have to save the rest of the world from being different from them.

The RIGHT way, not in the sense of right that means correct; RIGHT in the sense of the political and religious spectrum. Now THAT’S SCARY!

Happy Halloween, Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, Feast of the Departed, whatever name you give to the date.

4 responses so far

Are Progressive Audiences Tired of MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann?

Oct 29 2009 Published by under Featured News

In an interesting blog post today, Harvard Business professor, and Obama voter Bill George argued that MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann is hurting America. George said, “Olbermann cheapens discourse. He touts easy solutions. He speaks in truculent soundbites. His invective is hurting America!” This leads to the question are progressives sick of Olbermann?

Here is how Mr. George described Olbermann’s MSNBC program Countdown, “An uncompromising megaphone of partisan rancor, Olbermann perpetuates the single-mindedness and inflexible partisanship that now roil the country, both on and off Capitol Hill. His rants against former President Bush, former Republican politicians, and shock-media rival Rush Limbaugh contribute little to constructive debate about how we can fix today’s true problems. And his soapbox forays in such segments as the “Worst Person in the World” – a daily lambast of often unsavory, but many just politically conservative characters – have made Mr. Olbermann the news day’s political alienator and ire-monger of choice for the partisan left.”

Before anyone gets the idea that his post is a one sided attack on Olbermann, this is what he had to say about Fox News, “Granted, his rivals at FOX News drum up discord just as effectively and dangerously as Mr. Olberman. But the President has called time and time again for our country’s leaders to rise above pettiness and assume the mantle of dispassionate, consensus-centric leadership. I agree wholeheartedly that this culture shift is the only means by which we can hope for a return to prosperity, and must acknowledge that any effort counter to that is harmful to America.”

George’s larger fear is that people like Beck and Olbermann hurt the political discourse in this country, by stressing partisanship over the issues. I think his larger point is right on, but it presents a chicken or egg question. Is cable news driving the partisan divide, or is it only reflecting the current state of American politics?

I believe that the cable news environment is simply a reflection of the hyper partisan state of our national politics. If we could wave a magic wand so that Beck and Olbermann’s programs were more balanced, it wouldn’t change the underlying political climate. Blaming primetime cable news for this is giving them too much credit.

Olbermann’s ratings seem to have peaked out. Olbermann will always draw his 1-1.3 million total viewers a night, but his show has not been growing. In fact, his show has seen slight declines in audience share, while the program that follows it, The Rachel Maddow Show has been growing.

Have progressive viewers gotten tired of Keith Olbermann? At this moment, the answer is no, but his aggressively partisan show has ceiling on its growth. Personally, I have gotten tired of Olbermann’s nightly outrage, and continued griping about the Bush administration. Someone needs to tell Keith that the Democrats won, and it is ok to move past the Bush years.

Olbermann has the kind of show that works best when it is reflecting the opposition voice. It was perfect for the Bush years, but today, his program is very one sided, and I think that it could benefit greatly from having some opposing voices on.

I hear from readers from time to time, who express some Olbermann fatigue. The problem for Keith is that sometimes he begins to sound like a broken record. I think his show could use some reorienting and freshening up, or else Rachel Maddow may pass him as the face of MSNBC.

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Beck Blasts Obama for Honoring Fallen Soldiers

Oct 29 2009 Published by under Featured News

On his radio show today Glenn Beck claimed to be offended because President Obama made an overnight visit to Dover AFB to honor the return of 18 fallen Americans who died due to two helicopter crashes in Afghanistan on Monday. Beck said, “Barack Obama also used the troops coming home in coffins yesterday as a photo op.”

Here is the audio courtesy of Media Matters:

Beck said, “By the way George Bush wouldn’t golf during the war, he thought that was offensive. Barack Obama has. Barack Obama also used the troops coming home in coffins as a photo op yesterday. Offensive to anybody else but me?”

This is what Obama did that was so offensive to Beck:

So according to Beck what Obama should be doing is not playing golf, and ignoring the dead troops that come home, because nothing honors fallen veterans more than skipping a round of golf. It should be pointed out though that Bush didn’t really give up golf, last year the then president, his father, and his brother attending a golfing fundraiser for John McCain .

Honoring fallen soldiers to the right wing mind because Americans should never see the true costs of war, they should be kept in the dark as much as possible. As far as Beck charge that this was a photo op is concerned, the trip to Dover was not on the president’s schedule. This wasn’t an event. It was a president honoring those who died for their country. I fail to see how this is offensive.

3 responses so far

Levi Johnston Claims to Have the Goods on Sarah Palin

Oct 28 2009 Published by under Republican Party

Levi Johnston was on CBS’ The Early Show today, and Sarah Palin’s problem that won’t go away, made an ominous claim. Johnston said, “I have things that can, you know — that would get her in trouble, and could hurt her. Will hurt her. But I’m not gonna go that far.”

Here is the video:

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Johnston said, “There are some things that I have that are huge. And I haven’t said them because I’m not gonna hurt her that way… I have things that can, you know — that would get her in trouble, and could hurt her. Will hurt her. But I’m not gonna go that far. You know, I mean, if I really wanted to hurt her, I could, very easily. But there’s — I’m not gonna do it. I’m not going that far.” Johnston said that he is referring to things that she did while she was governor of Alaska. He would not say if she did things that were illegal or immoral.

He also said that he only put the little things in his Vanity Fair story, “Those are just little … things I put in Vanity Fair. You know, all the big things I got, I’m keeping — you know, I’m keeping them in, and — you know, it’s just something that probably will never come out.”

I tend to believe that he does have something. There has got to be a reason why the Palin camp went from fighting this guy to letting him say whatever he wants unanswered. If there really is a skeleton in the closet, it will come out if she runs for president in 2012. My guess is that it probably relates to her abrupt and odd resignation from her position as Alaska governor.

I think Levi is going to be a constant thorn in the side of her political ambitions. With Palin’s book due to be released in a few weeks, it will be interesting to see if she makes the full media rounds and addresses some of Johnston’s claims or if she limits herself to Oprah, and her usual media bubble.

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Claire McCaskill Compares Glenn Beck to Harry Potter Villain Voldemort

Oct 28 2009 Published by under Featured News

Here is an amusing moment from yesterday’s Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing. Sen. Claire McCaskill was talking about Glenn Beck’s rant about czars, when she referred to him as, “he who shall not be named,” which was a reference to Voldemort from Harry Potter. If Beck is Voldemort, then I guess Obama is Harry Potter.

Here is the video:

McCaskill said, “This all began by, as my kids would say in the reference to the Harry Potter series, this all began from a rant by he who shall not be named, and the rant that this person did included nine people who had been confirmed by the Senate in his list of czars, and the nine people who were confirmed by the Senate, all but two of those were unanimously confirmed by the Senate. Another large chunk of the czars that were identified report to cabinet secretaries. They do not have any power outside of the power of the cabinet secretary, as you all have pointed out as experts in this area of constitutional law, so if you whittle it down, there’s a very small number of White House advisers that we are really talking about here, and even a smaller number that are new.”

I think comparing Beck to Voldemort is giving Beck too much credit. He is not a super villain. He is more like a snake oil salesman exploiting the weaknesses of others for his own gain. Since Beck seems to get most of his information from the movies, at least McCaskill is making her point in a manner that he is certain to understand.

The Senator’s description of the czar’s power is right on the money. The all powerful czars are a concept that Beck dreamed up that has no basis in reality. The czars are nothing more than lower level departmental advisers. However, facts don’t matter in the fantasy world of Glenn Beck, so expect him and his fans to continue to rant about the evil czars.

H/T: TVNewser

One response so far

Jon Stewart Mocks GOP Opposition to Net Neutrality

Oct 27 2009 Published by under Featured News

Last night on The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart explained what net neutrality was, and also mocked the Republican opposition to it. He singled out John McCain for criticism, “McCain is proposing that AT&T and Verizon be given freedom to control what information passes through the Internet.” Check out the video.

Here is the video:

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Stewart gave the clearest explanation of net neutrality that I have heard, “Right now the FCC is considering this issue called net neutrality. The internet service providers your Comcasts, your AT&s would like net neutrality not to happen so they would have the ability to decide which content and websites would get the preferential treatment. For instance, let’s say Comcast would buy NBC or something like that, then they might let NBC shows come to your computer really really fast, while making CBS and ABC shows go a little more slowly…It’s kind of like creating a carpool lane on the Internet, except instead of high occupancy vehicles, only rich assholes will be allowed to drive in it.”

Stewart took a big shot at John McCain, “McCain is proposing that AT&T and Verizon be given freedom to control what information passes through the Internet. Information like John McCain is the number one recipient of donations from the telecom industry and their lobbyists for the past three years, which I looked up on the Google, and it loaded pretty fast.”

Stewart is 100% correct here. The argument that the Republicans are making against net neutrality sounds like it was written by the telecom industry, and most likely it was. If the ISP’s have the right to segregate the Internet, an open and equal form of communication will be lost, users won’t benefit, websites won’t benefit, but the telecoms certainly will.

I don’t see how a political party that is opposed to government involvement and regulation can be opposed to net neutrality. One would think that the GOP would like the entrepreneurial spirit of the Internet, which they might. The problem is that they like telecom campaign contributions more.

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Poll: Support for the Public Option Continues to Grow

Oct 27 2009 Published by under Featured News

NBC News/The Wall Street Journal is set to release a poll this evening in which support for the public option continues to grow. The poll will reveal a reversal on the issue. Last month most people were opposed to the public option by a 48%-46% margin, but this month the measure is supported, 48%-42%.

According to the preview on MSNBC’s First Read, “48% say they favor a public health plan administered by the federal government that would compete with private insurers, compared with 42% who oppose it. That’s a shift from last month, though within the margin of error, when 48% opposed the public option and 46% supported it. And it’s a 10-point swing from August, when 47% were in opposition and 43% were in favor.”

When the poll asked if it was important to give people a choice through a public option a combined 72% said that it was extremely important or quite important. Only 23% said that it was not that important or not important at all. The NBC public option poll has been heavily criticized by supporters of the reform for the way they worded the questions about the public option.

Healthcare for America Now! criticized NBC for changing the wording of the public option question over the summer. NBC changed the poll question by removing the word choice, which Chuck Todd contends is a biased term. This month MSNBC asked the public option question both ways and the result was a support for the public option in each question.

The NBC poll had been skewing more anti-public option than other polls, so it is a big deal that it is reflecting a ten point swing in favor of the public over the past two months. The polls have swung because Democrats took control of the issue. President Obama’s speech in front of the joint session of Congress did help, but also progressives have mounted a major campaign in support of the public option.

The opposition got off to a fast start in August, but they ran out of gas, and were repeating themselves by mid-September. Scare tactics are only politically effective in the short term. The longer the national debate lingered on, the more likely it became that the Democrats would take control. Republicans have not offered anything of substance on the issue, so it was only a matter of time until people started seeing through the fear mongering.

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Beck Claims Obama Modeled Himself after Al Capone

Oct 27 2009 Published by under Featured News

On Fox and Friends this morning Glenn Beck took a break from calling Obama a racist, socialist, fascist by comparing his administration to Al Capone. Beck said, “This administration is, they modeled themselves I guess, after Al Capone. You take these guys on and they will bash your brains out…”

Here is the video courtesy of Media Matters:

Beck was asked why the insurance companies haven’t fought back. He answered, “Because nobody’s listening, nobody’s listening, look I did a monologue, what was it, last Friday I think with the baseball bat, and made it very, very clear that this administration is, they modeled themselves I guess off after Al Capone. You take these guys on and they will bash your brains out. That’s what they do. That’s what they’ve done to Fox. That’s what they’ve done to the Chamber of Commerce. That’s what they do to everyone who stands in their way, so you have to ask yourself, as Sean Connery did, what are you prepared to do. If you are going to get into a fight with these guys, you better be able to battle all the way to the end.”

It is absolutely hysterical that Fox News would claim that the insurance companies haven’t fought back. I guess all those millions of dollars spent to lobby members of Congress, run television ads, fear monger, and disrupt town hall meetings in August don’t count. Only FNC could take the position that the insurance companies are the victims here.

Notice that according to Beck, he doesn’t do commentaries, he gives monologues, like an actor, and his information about Al Capone seems to come from the movie The Untouchables, which is a work of fiction. However, it is fascinating to watch the right wing whine about Obama being a strong president. This is the same party that has spent decades touting their strength and painting Democrats as weak.

Republicans love a strong president, when he is a Republican, but strong Democrats are socialists or fascists. There is an inconsistency in the right’s portrayal of Obama. On one hand, they say that he is weak and always trying to apologize for America, but they also claim that he is an iron fisted mobster.

The reality is that when most of America looks at Obama, they don’t see a mobster or a fascist. They see a president that they personally like. Beck’s characterization is so far out of the loop that it could only appeal to the most hardened Obama haters, which coincidentally, also happens to be Fox News’ audience.

3 responses so far

Pro-Life Outted as Worst Approach to Reduce Abortions

Oct 26 2009 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party

The anti-abortion movement likes to talk about the culture of life, but it turns out that it is the long championed Democratic proposal of providing more resources to poor pregnant women does more to reduce abortion rates that crowing about a “culture of life” ever could.

Joseph Schiedler, president of the Pro-life Action League, wrote an op-ed in USA Today titled “Compromise Equals Betrayal” (gee, you’re either with us or against us?). He writes, “There is no evidence that increasing social programs — such as low-cost health care and day care, college grants and maternity homes — will impact a woman’s abortion decision. It is rare in our experience to find a woman who says the reason she is choosing abortion is that she doesn’t have day care, or that she’d rather go to college…More than 3,000 pregnancy centers in the U.S. are ready to help a woman with material needs, emotional support, counseling and medical care. Anyone who wants to stop abortion should promote these centers….. Women are not looking for government-operated social programs. They’re looking for someone to care, someone to love them. Government programs cannot do that.”

Joe, Joe, Joe….first of all, discussing abortion rights with a man who claims to be “pro-life” always brings out the Susie Sunshine in me, but before I go there, I’d like to point out that you suggest that single mothers are just looking for someone to “love them”.

Oh, Joe. I think most single-mothers have discovered that love from a man isn’t the answer. There’s just something about having to choose between diapers and food that kills the girl looking for love that you’re so sure rests inside of every woman. If you pause here for long enough, you might realize just how deeply she’s internalized this truth. Unless by “love” you mean money to support herself, in which case, bring on the social programs. Or were you suggesting that a woman sell herself to any man willing to “care for her” so that she can keep her fetus?

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Would this be a good time to point out why running Sarah Palin as your “glass ceiling breaking pro-feminist” candidate was an epic failure? Oh, the pain is raw? Since you still have Palin stumping for the “pro-life” cause, I’m thinking y’all don’t get it all.

Furthermore, “there’s no evidence that increasing social programs will impact a woman’s abortion decision…” Perhaps not, Joe…but there is a LOT of evidence that increasing social programs will help her MOTHER HER CHILD MORE EFFECTIVELY!

See, this exposes the problem with these guys – it’s all about the concept of a fetus, and never about the life of the child. It’s about fooling the woman into not having the abortion; not about the realities of being a single-parent. The only thing they care about is “impacting her abortion decision” – not the quality of life of the child or the mother. There’s NO practical understanding of the hardships and financial reality an unsupported single mother faces. And here’s a news flash: when a mother faces hardships, her children suffer also.

And also, Joe…there actually IS evidence that increasing social programs impacts abortion rates:

“Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good … conducted a study linking states that provide more generous services to the poor with lower abortion rates. CACG suggested that to reduce abortion rates pro-lifers should consider the policies traditionally championed by Democrats–extending publicly-funded social services to poor pregnant women–rather than exclusively focus on restricting abortion.”

See, Joe, maybe women aren’t quite as stupid as you think they are. Maybe instead of “looking for love”, they’re dong the math and realizing that they can’t support this child. Maybe they don’t want to doom themselves and their child to a life on welfare, being shamed by Republicans as “welfare moms”, and losing their support programs one by one. Maybe they don’t want to sell themselves to a man in order to stay out of the food-line. Maybe they want a life of dignity.

Maybe if you helped them with real life support, they’d decide to keep their baby.

But that’s not going to happen. The very agencies and programs set up to help single mothers are the “welfare” programs pro-life politicians’ rail against and work hard to de-fund.

How hard?

“In 2007, The Children’s Defense Fund published its Congressional Scorecard on the best and worst legislators for children. The organization scored congress members’ votes on many of the policies that help pregnant women decide whether to parent or abort. The votes were on Head Start, increasing the minimum wage, reauthorizing and increasing funding for S-CHIP, increasing funding for children with disabilities, job training, Medicaid funding, helping youth pay for college, and tax-relief for low-income families with children. Based on their votes on these issues, the Children’s Defense Fund ranked 143 congress members as ‘the worst” for children. Of the 143 worst legislators, 100% are pro-life.”

The most successful presidency for reducing abortions was pro-choice Bill Clinton.

Yes, somehow these rabid pro-lifers who feel so strongly about their values system that they can justify murdering doctors who perform legal procedures do not embrace the very policies that could and have dramatically reduced abortions.

What does that say about their value system? It tells me that it’s not about abortion or fetus rights at all, because if they really cared about those things, they’d support the policies that reduce what they feel is murder. Instead, they vote against those polices and rail against them as “socialist” and mock and deride “welfare mothers” as the grifters of our society.

While they place the fetus’ rights over the rights of the mother, once the fetus is born, the anti-choice movement removes all support for a single mother. So what is their real goal? Their own actions reveal that they are more concerned with controlling a woman’s body and keeping women in poverty who don’t abide by the cultural rules of the religious right than they are with the lives of the unborn. This spells patriarchy to me, which should come as no surprise since the church espouses and propagates the most damaging patriarchal belief system still operating in our culture.

The religious right has failed to support a culture of life, both financially and socially. Their idea of “pro-life” is to shame a woman into keeping the fetus and then leave the woman to fend for herself as a welfare recipient and victim of her circumstances. And rather than offer real support for unwed mothers, this culture so shames these women that pro-lifer church-goers slink into abortion clinics in order to save their reputations.

The use of imposed poverty and shame to control a minority class is nothing new, but it sure as hell doesn’t spell pro-life.

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Schumer: The Senate is Close to the 60 Votes Needed to Pass Healthcare Reform

Oct 25 2009 Published by under Featured News

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was on NBC’s Meet The Press today where he said that Democrats are close to having the 60 votes that they need to move healthcare reform forward in the Senate. Schumer said that the compromise that will lead to likely passage is a public option with a state opt out clause.

Here is the video:

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When moderator David Gregory asked Schumer about having the votes to pass healthcare, he answered, “I and others have been talking to liberal Democrats, moderate Democrats, conservative Democrats. The liberals, they like it stronger, but they’re willing to live with level playing field, opt-out. The more moderate Democrats, there are some who actually like it. As long as it’s a level playing field, they’re comfortable with it. There are others who say that, “I’m not sure I like it, but I won’t hold up passage of the bill.”

He said that the Democrats are close to having the votes that they need, “I think we’re very close to getting the 60 votes we need to move forward, and my guess is that the public option level playing field with the state opt-out will be in the bill. But Leader Reid will make that decision after he talks to everybody several times.”

Giving the states the ability to opt out of the public option will likely get even the most conservative Democrats on board. Politically it moves the decision on the public option to the states, which resolves the dilemma that red state Democrats are facing. On its face this is a good compromise, except the uninsured people in conservative states.

I would be amazed if the healthcare reform bill got more than two Republican votes in the Senate. I suspect that they will still oppose the bill, because they believe that saying no is their path to electoral victory. In the long term the opt out clause will move a hot button issue to the states, and it is a safe bet that the Republicans who oppose the public option, where it is popular will have to defend their opposition in future campaigns.

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