Archives for March 2010
The Palm Beach Post has taken Florida Attorney General (and gubernatorial candidate) Bill McCollum to task for his role in the lawsuit seeking to invalidate health care reform, but so far the Seattle Times editorial has been silent on Washington Attorney General (and gubernatorial candidate) Rob McKenna’s role in the fiasco.
No surprise there.
See, the Times editorial board loves Rob McKenna. No, that’s not quite right. They’re in love with McKenna. They want to have his baby. They’re willing to do uncomfortable sexual acts for McKenna that they wouldn’t do for just any guy. You know, metaphorically speaking.
But McKenna’s faux legal arguments are so ridiculous, and the Times own customers so overwhelmingly in favor of health care reform, that coming to their embattled AG’s defense could prove a risky business. If Frank Blethen thinks some of his paper’s previous editorials have generated an angry backlash, just wait until he sees what happens if it blatantly comes out in defense of McKenna’s purely political effort to undermine health care reform.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of boycotts, and as critical as I’ve been, I don’t think I’ve ever urged my readers to cancel their subscription. But if the Times blows McKenna on this one, they shouldn’t be surprised to ultimately lose hundreds, if not thousands of paying customers.
And that perhaps explains their reluctance thus far to editorialize on such a controversial issue.
No doubt Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna was surprised by the furious backlash to his lawsuit to throw out the Affordable Health Insurance Act and the many benefits it bestows on the citizens of Washington state, but if we really want to shock and awe McKenna into submission, it’s time to put our money where our mouth is.
That’s why I’m proud to be a part of the “No Reversing Our Benefits Political Action Committee,” or as we like to shorten it, the “No R.O.B. PAC“, an organization dedicated to teaching McKenna — and anti-reform Republicans everywhere — a very important political lesson.
Every dollar raised by No R.O.B. PAC will be spent toward defeating Rob McKenna in 2012, regardless of the contest, and whomever his opponent is. Presumably that means the gubernatorial race, but, well, we won’t be particular. If McKenna insists on abusing his office to pander to the big insurance companies and the fringe Teabaggers instead of representing the citizens of Washington state, then we’ll make sure he won’t have an office to abuse.
How big an impact can we make. Well, McKenna has already raised $256,000 toward his 2012 campaign, a total we can easily pass if all 13,000 members of the Washington Tax Payers OPT OUT of Rob McKenna’s Lawsuit Facebook group each donate just $20.00 each. And if we only manage to average a mere $10.00 each, that would still leave us with more cash-on-hand than McKenna himself.
Just think of what kind of message that would send!
Yeah, the Teabaggers may be damn loud, but there are many more of us than there are of them, and we’re willing to do much more than just hurl threats and insults. The contributors we chalk up, and the more money we raise, the more we will make it clear to the political and media establishment where public opinion really lies in Washington state and throughout the nation.
So please give generously today!
The Podcast emerges from its undisclosed location to make a fleeting appearance at Drinking Liberally. Goldy and his panel of political wonks and blogoratti take the opportunity to celebrate the passage of sweeping health care reform legislation…because it IS a big fucking deal! At the same time, they express collective bemusement in the Republican response to the new law: “It’s Armageddon!”
At the local level, the panel takes bewildered delight in the decision by Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna to join the Florida anti-health-care-reform lawsuit. Rob, who everyone knows is running for Governor in 2012, has done a wonderful job maintaining the façade of a moderate Republican. The panel dissects the decision and concludes that the lawsuit was a huge political blunder, and one that will re-brand McKenna as something of a “far rightie Tenther nutcase.” Explaining McKenna’s blunder proves more elusive for the panel. Was it anger? Was it self-delusion? Was it extortion? Was he reacting to a potential primary challenge by Dino Rossi?
The panel wraps up with a discussion of the remaining reconciliation process and Republican prospects and reactions in the immediate post-health-care-reform world…seemingly, “no!,” “nuh-uh,” and “naaah.”
The show is 53:07, and is available here as an MP3:[audio:http://www.podcastingliberally.com/podcasts/podcasting_liberally_mar_23_2010.mp3]
The Facebook group that proclaims “Washington Tax Payers OPT OUT of Rob McKenna’s lawsuit” has reached an astonishing 10,543 members as I prepare to post this, and shows little sign of slowing its growth. Yeah, a Facebook group is “just” a Facebook group, but what I’ve noticed is the sheer volume of people who feel utterly betrayed, because they voted for McKenna.
At times it seems like every other comment or so is along the lines of “wow, I voted for him because I thought he was a straight shooter and would run the AG’s office in a non-political manner, but I was wrong.” And then they promise to never vote for him again, because they simply cannot fathom why this guy is trying to destroy something that took so long to achieve, flawed as it is. Some people tell their stories about lack of health insurance coverage and what it’s done to their lives, and frankly I’m amazed at how restrained most have been in the tone of their comments.
They’re hurt, and they’re angry, because a lot of folks still believed, deep down, that Rob McKenna was a good guy. But good guys don’t pull petulant political stunts like throwing down with Florida attorney general and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum, who hired a D.C. law firm that he used to lobby for to pursue the lawsuit.
This lawsuit not only seems to have little chance of success, it also has the rank odor of sour grapes left to rot in expensive, hand-tailored suits. It’s pandering of the worst sort. A small minority of citizens, egged on by monied interests, have employed every idiotic and demagogic claim possible to discredit health care reform, and yet it passed anyhow, with admitted imperfections. Many of these imperfections were caused by the political situation itself, as conservative Democrats leveraged their positions over endless months of searching for a bi-partisanship that could never be achieved.
Instead of deciding to work with President Barack Obama, the GOP decided to be a completely obstructionist party. Think about that, it’s not just terminology. They would not allow a single, solitary member of their party to vote for the package, and they simultaneously negotiated in bad faith while standing before microphones claiming they were being excluded.
Despite the relatively conservative nature of the final plan, for political reasons the GOP cannot now admit defeat nor error. Rather than show some courage, McKenna decided to become a poster boy for this pathetic party of nothingness, nihiism and nuts. Republicans are fond of trying to taunt Democrats with cries of “political suicide,” but the ones engaged in ritualistic acts of self-destruction (like the lawsuit) have an “R” after their name.
From what I can tell, lots of the folks commenting on Facebook are not your hard-bitten political activists, because people keep wanting to know if we can impeach McKenna (yeah, with 3/4 of each chamber of the Legislature) or if he can be recalled (short answer: for cause, with a buttload of signatures and a whole bunch of other hoops.) Good old liberals, always looking for the rational, legal solution, I love ’em.
Sure, we can promise to defeat McKenna if he runs for governor in 2012, but we also have to keep the heat on right now. So go join up on Facebook if you haven’t already, and tell your friends and relatives (the ones who don’t watch Fox Noise, anyhow.) It’s going to be an interesting time.
The trial of a terminally ill medical marijuana patient in Mason County begins tomorrow:
Karen Mower is a terminally ill medical marijuana patient. Her husband John Reed is an authorized patient as well. In January 2008, the Mason County Sheriff’s “Special Operations Group” raided their home garden, seizing 38 flowering plants and 36 immature plants.
The Mason County Sheriff issued a press release announcing the raid in which they estimate each plant would produce one pound of dried pot. The press release states that both defendants are medical marijuana patients, but “the amount of product found by deputies clearly exceeded the amount the couple was authorized to possess.” See [here]:
Their case has been dragging on, and is finally going to jury selection. Please consider spending a day in Shelton to observe this trial.
And if you’re going from the Seattle area, on your way back you can stop in Olympia to see Attorney General Rob McKenna not giving a fuck about how the federal government’s broad definition of the Commerce Clause is an “imposition” upon certain citizens in this state.
The U.S. has shaken its last vestige of being a lesser-developed nation and has joined the civilized world. This calls for a toast…a toast to our health. So join us tonight for a celebratory evening of politics under the influence at the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally. We meet at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E. beginning at about 8:00 pm. Stop by even earlier and enjoy some dinner.
It is fucking BIG!
Not in Seattle? There is a good chance you live near one of the 343 other chapters of Drinking Liberally.
“[Rob McKenna] may represent the people of Florida, but not on the dime of the taxpayers of Washington.”
— Washington Governor Chris Gregoire
Perhaps this helps explain why over 6,500 Washington citizens have already joined the Washington Tax Payers OPT OUT of Rob McKenna’s Lawsuit Facebook group?
Oops. A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows public opinion swinging strongly in favor of health care reform.
Americans by 9 percentage points have a favorable view of the health care overhaul that President Obama signed into law Tuesday, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, a notable turnaround from surveys before the vote that showed a plurality against it.
By 49%-40% those surveyed say it was “a good thing” rather than a bad one that Congress passed the bill. Half describe their reaction in positive terms, as “enthusiastic” or “pleased,” while about four in 10 describe it in negative ways, as “disappointed” or “angry.”
The largest single group, 48%, calls the bill “a good first step” that should be followed by more action on health care. An additional 4% also have a favorable view, saying the bill makes the most important changes needed in the nation’s health care system.
Perhaps this is why Republicans vehemently opposed passage… because the knew public opinion swing in the Democrats favor once it was passed? And notice how 48% call it “a good first step”… seems to be a pretty clear indication that a lot of the folks previous polls reported as opposing the bill, merely thought it didn’t go far enough.
One can make a strong argument that over the past six years, Attorney General Rob McKenna has proven the most adept politician in Washington state. Cautious, pandering and downright relentless in his pursuit of publicity, McKenna has simultaneously managed to privately court far-right, anti-tax, anti-government, anti-choice forces while successfully maintaining a public persona as one of those mythical “moderate” Republicans. Yet as tight a rope as he’s had to balance, I’d never seen him slip.
For a politician presumed to be running for governor in 2012, McKenna’s participation in a multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of health care reform seems baffling on its face, especially considering its stature as little more than a legal stunt. McKenna’s electoral strength is that, unlike most Republicans, he doesn’t do too badly in King County, winning it by a comfortable margin in 2008, and losing by less than 5 points in the much more closely contested contest from 2004. That, combined with nearly guaranteed landslide Republican margins in Central and Eastern Washington has made him the putative favorite in the 2012 gubernatorial race against nearly any Democratic opponent.
As long as McKenna maintains his moderate facade — and you know damn well the Seattle Times will do everything in its power to help him out in this regard — he’s damn hard to beat. So why would McKenna so very publicly throw in his lot with with Tenthers and Teabaggers and other far-right-wingers of that ilk?
The only thing I can think of, other than a hard night of drinking or a minor stroke, is to better position himself for a tough primary battle. And the only Republican in Washington state with the stature to keep McKenna off the November 2012 ballot is Dino Rossi.
So that begs the question: does Rob McKenna know something we don’t know? Is Rossi planning yet another run for the governor’s mansion? And has Rossi privately made his intentions clear?
I posed my theory to a handful of Republican lawmakers who were willing to talk with me — off the record — and while none had any first-hand knowledge of Rossi’s intentions, all seemed equally baffled by McKenna’s lawsuit. “This has gotta hurt Rob in King County,” one fellow GOPer told me, lamenting the damage to McKenna’s gubernatorial ambitions.
Yeah… no shit, Sherlock.
So the question remains, why? McKenna’s not stupid, so why would he risk alienating King County moderates for the sake of shoring up his support amongst the Teabagger/Tenther crowd? A stroke of political genius, or just your run-of-the-mill stroke?
Over 5,800 6,100 Washington citizens have already joined the Washington Tax Payers OPT OUT of Rob McKenna’s Lawsuit Facebook group in less than 24 hours. Wow.
If there are any good lawyers out there willing to file a suit pro bono, seeking to bar Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna from using state funds to participate in a lawsuit seeking to toss out health care reform, I’d be happy to play the part of the plaintiff.
As per the post on Publicola, I fail to see where McKenna has either the constitutional or statutory authority to unilaterally join such a suit on behalf of the citizens of Washington state, and while some might question the legal grounds for just some guy seeking an injunction to bar the AG from action… well… isn’t that ironic considering the bullshit Tentherist arguments on which McKenna and his Republican allies are basing their challenge.
In the meanwhile, over 4,200 people have already joined the Facebook group, Washington Tax Payers OPT OUT of Rob McKenna’s Lawsuit, and I urge you to join as well. The King County Dems have also created an online petition, Stop the Health Care Lawsuit, and I urge you to sign that too.
And oh yeah… call McKenna’s office, (360) 753-6200, and give him a piece of your mind. I understand the phone is ringing off the hook with angry callers; let’s keep it that way.
There is another petition, sponsored by Fuse, that has already collected over 3,000 signatures. Sign up there too!
John Boehner and Michael Steele should be a little more careful in their choice of words. As ridiculously hyperbolic as the assertion is, I understand what they’re trying to say when they describe health care reform as “Armageddon,” but if the Republicans’ far-right Evangelical base takes the word literally — as they are wont to do — the GOP could lose a big chunk of its support.
After all, there are a lot of Republican Christianists out there who would not only welcome the End Times, but are actively working toward it. So if they believe that health care reform really is Armageddon, won’t they just support it with open arms, and then ready themselves for the Rapture?
If you happen to be stuck at the office this morning with nothing to do, you can watch President Obama sign the health care bill on this webpage (at 8:15am). And if you’re really bored at work today, you can stay on that page and at 11am it will be showing (not advertised, of course) Vice President Joe Biden, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, and others laying out for the first time the Obama Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy.
It may not be obvious from seeing my blogging, but there are a number of topics for which I could potentially find agreement with their strategy today (on greater funding for drug treatment, effective education programs for dangerous drugs, even smarter advertising campaigns aimed at warning children about the dangers of drugs like meth and heroin). Unfortunately, the religious adherence to complete prohibition as the only way to deal with certain drugs discredits them right out of the gate, and makes it far more difficult for them to get any of their more sensible initiatives taken seriously.
Well, not exactly friends. More like about 1,800 people who have joined a Facebook group in the last ten hours or so to tell Rob McKenna that they want to “opt out” of his lawsuit against the health care reform package. Um, I realize Facebook hasn’t been around that long, and I’m a late adopter of new things, but I’ve never seen anything like it.
As for the possibility of a McKenna lawsuit against health care reform, several legal scholars quoted in The Seattle Times seem to think it wouldn’t fare very well. For example:
“There is no precedent whatsoever that would call this into question,” said Mark Hall, a professor of law and public health at Wake Forest University.
Hall said the Constitution’s Commerce Clause can apply broadly to allow the government to regulate health insurance and that courts have shown “a very strong presumption in favor of the validity of whatever Congress does.”
States can sue, “but I can’t imagine a scenario in which a judge would enjoin the implementation of the federal health-care bill,” said Lawrence Friedman, a professor of constitutional law at the New England School of Law in Boston.
“Federal law is supreme,” he said. “There’s really no room for doubt that federal law controls.”
And what about the argument that the health care reform package will violate the tenth amendment? Well, maybe not. From The Los Angeles Times:
States often require those who buy cars or homes to purchase insurance. But opponents of the federal healthcare bill argue that those who those purchases do so willingly, while the health insurance requirement affects all Americans regardless of choice.
But Mark Tushnet, a constitutional law expert at Harvard University, said that the central premise relied upon by the bill’s opponents—that Americans who choose not to have insurance aren’t involving themselves in the nation’s commerce—is incorrect.
“The failure to have health insurance doesn’t mean the person won’t be consuming health services,” Tushnet said. Once they receive care, he said, they have become involved in commerce and are subject to the federal government’s regulation.
Not being an attorney, I can’t really say if McKenna’s lawsuit would sink to a standard of “frivolous” required for the state bar to take action against him. But I bet there are several attorneys (or more) among McKenna’s new Facebook pals who are busily exploring such things, and who will start all over again in the morning. It sure sounds like McKenna is on thin legal ice here.
For now I’m leaving aside the repeated calls for impeachment or recall, that’s another kettle of fish, but if McKenna persists in his folly I’d imagine that’ll get explored some more too. Yeah, those tools are very hard to use in our state, but that’s how mad a lot of people are at McKenna. And then, of course, there is the Legislature and then there is Governor Chris Gregoire, who rightly blasted McKenna today.
On Monday McKenna, the state’s Republican attorney general, said he’d join GOP colleagues and sue to stop the Democrats’ comprehensive health care reform law from taking effect. President Barack Barack Obama is expected to soon sign the measure passed by his party in dramatic fashion Sunday night.
“I believe this new federal health care measure unconstitutionally imposes new requirements on our state and on its citizens. This unprecedented federal mandate, requiring all Washingtonians to purchase health insurance, violates the Commerce Clause and the 10th amendment of the US Constitution,” McKenna said in a statement.
So let me get this straight. When the federal government implements a requirement that all people buy into a health care system that we all use and benefit from, this is an unconstitutional violation of the Commerce Clause and an egregious imposition on our state and its citizens. But when the Supreme Court says that a voter-approved Washington law allowing for sick people to grow marijuana plants for their own medicinal use can be nullified under the Commerce Clause, Rob McKenna not only enthusiastically endorses that argument, but also uses attorney-client privilege to cover up the fact that he was using it to undermine the state law and prevent sick people from having access to medicine.
If you believe that the federal government telling a terminally ill patient being advised by a doctor that he or she can’t grow a pot plant on their property, not sell it to anyone, and then use 100% of it by themselves – in a state that has legalized this by popular vote – is something that can be regulated by the Commerce Clause (as was decided in Raich v. Gonzales), then you have absolutely no leg to stand on when you turn around and claim that individual mandates within a national health care system are unconstitutional. That’s so blatantly hypocritical, it should completely discredit Rob McKenna from ever seeking elected office in this state again.
This man is a complete fraud. He’s a political opportunist who can hold two completely contradictory legal opinions at the same time, without a care in the world for the lives he needs to destroy in order to keep up the facade. Hopefully, Washington voters – and the media – will finally regard this man as the extremist and shameless hypocrite that he’s always been.