Showing posts with label Ben Nelson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ben Nelson. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nelson's career: Another senseless death

This is a picture of what must be the most pissed-off man in America -- Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.

Don't let the smile fool you.

If you look closely, the senator kind of looks like he's gritting his teeth. That would be more like it for a man who just realized tonight -- with the election of a Republican to Massachusetts' "Kennedy seat" in the Senate -- that he pissed away his political career over health-care reform, and all he got was . . . well, nothing.

He thought he was getting the best deal he could get for Nebraska on the bill's proposed unfunded Medicaid mandates, but ended up getting roasted for the "Cornhusker kickback."

He thought he was getting the best deal he could for pro-lifers in an extremely hostile Senate, but his best deal turned out to be not good enough. Now all the state's pro-life activists hate his guts.

He thought he was looking out for all his boyz in the insurance industry by drawing a line in the sand over the "public option," but all the lobbyists' horses and all the lobbyists' men probably can't put
Nelson's approval rating back together again.

Come on, the man can't even go out for a pizza now.

AND NELSON THOUGHT that, even if everything else went south, he at least could say his was the vote that gave the country health-care reform. Oops.

According to The New York Times,
that's probably toast, too:
Scott Brown’s decisive Senate victory in Massachusetts imperiled the fate of the Democratic health care overhaul as House Democrats indicated they would not quickly approve a Senate-passed health care measure and send it to President Obama.

After a meeting of House Democratic leaders Tuesday night even as Mr. Brown’s victory was being declared, top lawmakers said they were weighing their options. But the prospect of passing the health care overhaul by pushing the Senate plan through the House appeared to significantly diminish.

Noting that the election in Massachusetts turned on a variety of different factors such as the economy and local issues, Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland and a top party campaign strategist, acknowledged that resistance to the emerging health legislation also factored in the outcome of the Massachusetts race.

“Health care was also part of the debate and the people of Massachusetts were right to be upset about provisions in the Senate bill,” Mr. Van Hollen said, referring to “special deals” included in the bill to win the votes of Democratic senators and round up 60 votes.

The comment was a clear indication that Democrats were recalibrating their approach on health care, leaving them a diminishing and politically difficult set of choices.

Pushing the Senate plan through the House was favored by some lawmakers and strategists as a way to quickly deliver the president a bill on a signature domestic achievement, since it would require just one final House vote. Remaining problems could be worked out with a subsequent piece of legislation.

But many House Democrats expressed deep reservations about the Senate bill. Those complaints, combined with the message sent by the Massachusetts electorate, apparently were sufficient to leave Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants reluctant by Tuesday night about moving in that direction.
WHO KNOWS? Maybe the Nebraska senator can pull it all back together before the 2012 election. Then again, maybe not.

In that case, Ben Nelson just would have to settle for being a cautionary tale. As in, "Never, never ever
dive on a political hand grenade to save a bill you don't really believe in in the first place."

Especially after a long, tortuous process during which you helped to take a pretty decent House bill and turn it into something that everybody could hate.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Look at the demon, not at us

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Nebraska's senior man in the U.S. Senate got the best deal he could where the politics of abortion meets the politics of health care, leaving everybody really, really hacked off.

In fact, if you listen to the Republicans and the utterly politicized pro-life groups, you'd think poor Ben Nelson was lighting the fuse on Apocalypse Now -- the useful idiot, but an utterly devious and malevolent one, from the Great State of Nebraska who just handed Barack Hussein Antichrist Obama the keys to hundreds of millions of good Christian souls.

BUT IF you read The Associated Press' account of things, it sounds a lot less Mark of the Beast-ish:

The Senate compromise was reached after hours of intense negotiation between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and key senators on both sides of the issue.

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who opposes abortion, had threatened to withhold a critical 60th vote for the bill unless restrictions on abortion funding were tightened. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., represented supporters of abortion rights, who wanted to preserve coverage already available.

Nelson said Saturday that the Senate bill essentially uses different means to achieve the same goals as the House bill, which included tight limits on abortion funding praised by U.S. Catholic bishops.

The health care bill would create a new stream of government subsidies to help people buy health insurance, largely through private plans. The subsidies would be available to those buying coverage through a new insurance supermarket called an exchange. Since abortion is a legal medical procedure now covered by many insurers, activists on both sides mobilized to try to shape the legislation.

The House bill includes Stupak's amendment, which bars plans operating in the exchange from paying for most abortions. The only exceptions would be those currently allowed by federal law. Women wanting coverage for abortion would have to purchase a separate policy.

Reid's bill sets up a mechanism to segregate funds used to pay for abortions from federal subsidy dollars.

No health plan would be required to offer coverage for the procedure. In plans that do cover abortion, beneficiaries would have to pay for it separately, and those funds would have to be kept in a separate account from taxpayer money.

Moreover, individual states would be able to prohibit abortion coverage in plans offered through the exchange, after but passing specific legislation to that effect. The only exceptions would be those allowed under current federal law.
YOU KNOW, I wish the language was a lot more strict, too. In fact, I wish abortion on demand was just flat illegal. And better yet, I wish no woman ever felt so out of options that she'd even consider snuffing out the life of her unborn child.

But in a move that's so shocking as to not be believable -- that is, at least, if you know me -- I'm far too subtle to ever become a professional pro-lifer. Here's what it takes to play with the big boys, as evidenced by the reaction of Nebraska Right to Life:

"There is no pro-life Nebraskan more devastated by Senator Nelson's actions than myself." said [Executive Director Julie] Schmit-Albin. "I have defended his record to Nebraskans and believed that he would stand on pro-life principles as he has on numerous occasions in the past. I have had a good relationship with Senator Nelson and his staff throughout the years . I personally met with him on healthcare in July and in mid-November and have been in frequent contact with his staff over the past six weeks. Just Wednesday afternoon, I was apprised of the Casey language by his staff and I urged them to strongly relay to him that we could not support it. When he rejected the Casey language we were bolstered by that action and believed he would hold firm to his commitment to vote against cloture if Stupak language was not included."

"Moreover, NRL Political Action Committee gave Senator Nelson a sole endorsement in his re-election race in 2006 based on his record and actions both as Governor and Senator." said Schmit-Albin. "It is a very sobering day for myself personally and for pro-lifers across Nebraska and the nation. Senator Nelson obliterated the hope of pro-life Americans who saw him as the last man standing between expansion of government funding of abortion and the Hyde Amendment."
THE CATHOLIC bishops' conference also is less than happy, according to The Washington Post:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also said the plan was unacceptable, adding in a statement the bill "should be opposed" unless there are changes. "It does not seem to allow purchasers who exercise freedom of choice or of conscience to 'opt out' of abortion coverage in federally subsidized health plans that include such coverage," it said.
UMM HMM. But here's the deal: The "Nelson compromise" is probably the best they'll get without blowing up the whole thing. It's also the closest thing they'll get to what had been floated (not in Congress, notably) as a reasonable compromise -- requiring the purchase of a separate private "rider" policy for abortion coverage in federally-subsidized policies. [Actually, the "rider" approach is implicit in the House "Stupak Amendment" language, which Nelson offered, and was handily voted down, in the Senate.]

What the bishops and pro-lifers are demanding in health-care reform is something not one of them has agitated for in the present system, where 86 percent of all private insurance plans cover abortion. And unless you're wealthy enough to buy an individual policy of your own choosing, you can't "opt out," and your premiums will go toward paying to kill somebody's unborn baby.

Where's the outrage? Dead babies are dead babies, right? Is it any more immoral that one's premium dollars are funding abortions than one's tax dollars maybe funding abortions?

What we have here is a failure of logic.

What we also have here is a bunch of feckless guardians of society's most vulnerable members fighting a war for hearts and minds on the most unfriendly terrain possible -- Capitol Hill. Of course, that's just a distraction aimed at covering up the utter defeat of the church and the rest of our "culture warriors" in the battle for our . . . culture.

The political grows out of the cultural -- not vice versa -- and if you've lost the culture, politics is a futile pursuit. That pro-lifers and churchmen are too stupid to recognize that plain fact (and so obviously incompetent at softening hearts much less stony than your average Washington insider's) is a prime indicator why they so regularly get rolled by politicians.

The desperate tone of the next fund appeal you get will be as good an indicator as any of how that's working out for the unborn.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's a lock: Death a winner in '08

Great. It looks like it's pretty well official now.

The November election will be the Party of Abortion and Sex squaring off against the Party of Greed, Eternal War and Torture.

The U.S. Senate -- or was it the Roman Senate . . . I forget -- today voted largely along party lines to restrict the Central Intelligence Agency to interrogation techniques approved in the Army field manual. In other words, no waterboarding, no torture of any sort.

NOW THE BILL goes to Caesar President Bush who, as head of the Party of Greed, Eternal War and Torture, has vowed to veto it. Joining his fellow Greed, War & Torture senators in voting against the anti-torture legislation was presidential candidate John McCain, who had very nasty things done to him at the Hanoi Hilton many years ago.

(For those of you under 35, the Hanoi Hilton was not a five-star hotel. But it was in Vietnam.)

Meanwhile, after breaking from his fellow Abortion & Sex senators to vote in favor of torture, Nebraska's allegedly pro-life Ben Nelson was reported to be unavailable for comment due to overwhelming confusion.

The Associated Press has the depressing details:

Congress on Wednesday moved to prohibit the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods on terror suspects, despite President Bush's threat to veto any measure that limits the agency's interrogation techniques.

The prohibition was contained in a bill authorizing intelligence activities for the current year, which the Senate approved on a 51-45 vote. It would restrict the CIA to the 19 interrogation techniques outlined in the Army field manual. That manual prohibits waterboarding, a method that makes an interrogation subject feel he is drowning.

The House had approved the measure in December. Wednesday's Senate vote set up a confrontation with the White House, where Bush has promised to veto any bill that restricts CIA questioning.

Arguing for such restrictions, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said the use of harsh tactics would boomerang on the United States.

"Retaliation is the way of the world. What we do to others, they will do to us — but worse," Rockefeller said. "This debate is about more than legality. It is also about morality, the way we see ourselves ... and what we represent to the world."


Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, backed by Senate Republicans Olympia Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, inserted the provision in December into a bill providing guidelines for the running of U.S. intelligence agencies this year.

The 19 approved interrogation techniques in the military field manual include "good cop/bad cop," "false flag" — making prisoners think they are in the custody of another country — and the separation of a prisoner from other prisoners for up to 30 days at a time.

It prohibits military interrogators from hooding prisoners or putting duct tape across their eyes. They may not be stripped naked or forced to perform or mimic sexual acts. They may not be beaten, electrocuted, burned or otherwise physically hurt. They may not be subjected to hypothermia or mock executions. It does not allow food, water and medical treatment to be withheld, and dogs may not be used in any aspect of interrogation.

Republican presidential contender Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, voted against the measure Wednesday.

LET ME ATTEMPT to get this straight. And, please . . . bear with me here.

Come November, as a Catholic who believes what his Church teaches, I am somehow expected to vote either:

* For the Party of Abortion and Sex in order to put an end to the Party of Greed, Endless War and Torture's relentless pursuit of . . . well . . . greed, endless war and torture.

* Or, alternatively, for the Party of Greed, Endless War and Torture in order to keep the Party of Abortion and Sex from getting its grubby, K-Y jelly-smeared hands on the Supreme Court, which someday is supposed to put an end to Roe v. Wade. But hasn't yet after 35 years, despite enough Republican appointments to supposedly have done that already.

UMM HMM. I think I get it now.

How about this instead? How about -- as a Catholic who believes what his Church teaches -- I tell both parties to go to hell.

And then spend my time trying to figure out how to survive the long, ugly decline of an empire that lost its soul, then lost its mind.