Tonight on HBO - Ted Kennedy fights for immigration rights up until his death

From Restore Fairness blog

Tune in tonight to HBO2 at 8pm EST for "The Senators’ Bargain".

Given the massive 200,000 turnout in D.C. this sunday that marched for immigration reform,  this documentary is perfectly timed as it provides an in-depth look at the inner workings of our nation’s political system as Senator Edward M. Kennedy and his team, including advocate Frank Sharry, fight to push the immigration reform bill through Congress in 2007. The film follows Kennedy, who died in 2009 from brain cancer,

capturing the political legend in candid conversations at his Capitol Hill hideaway and rallying his allies with impassioned rhetoric on the Senate floor.

"The Senators’ Bargain" is just one episode in HBO’s 12-story “How Democracy Works Now” series that began filming in 2001 to give the American people a more comprehensive understanding of what really takes place inside the massive political machine that determines our rights.

According to a NY Times review, the documentary

provides scary insight into the ways of Washington and the expediencies that trump reason and goodwill. But mostly it’s a bruised, elegiac look back at a Democratic defeat. The tone is not so much indignant as wistful, attuned to the lyricism of lost causes and the-dream-shall-never-die romance of failure.

A review from New American Media had a slightly different take.

What's inside the box is an arcane world of closed-door meetings, book-length legislative blueprints, and bare-knuckled and profanity-strewn negotiations carried out to a large degree via phone and Blackberry..."The Senators’ Bargain" contrasts with many documentaries about immigration because it focuses not on the world of the U.S.-Mexico border or ethnic neighborhoods, but the drab Washington, D.C. cubicles, offices and conference rooms where policy is made.

Indeed, immigration reform is a dream that has not died despite the passing of one of its most staunch supporters. Considering the fact that 200,000 showed up to march for immigration rights in Washington D.C. this past weekend, it is clear that people have not forgotten the urgency of this cause. Just last week, Senator Schumer and Senator Graham revealed a blueprint for immigration reform, and this back-story to major legislation will hopefully guide us and provide deep insights into the process that will make it a success.

Learn. Share. Act.

Thank you, Mr. President.

How’s this for history? The first black President and the first female Speaker of the House just brought America’s health insurance system from the 19th century to the 21st century, doing what no politician before them was able to achieve.

The new law, while insuring 30 million and lowering the deficit, is not perfect. It does little to address cost containment. It contains a mandate without strong enough subsidies. The Medicare reimbursement issue persists. You might blame Barack Obama for these imperfections. You might say that had he shown more forceful leadership, he would have had a stronger bill. And you might be right. But consider this:

In 1993, President Clinton tried to pass health care reform, and didn’t even get a floor vote.

In 1974, President Nixon tried to pass health care reform, but couldn’t quite close the deal with the late Senator Ted Kennedy.

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson opted to pass Medicare rather than universal coverage, believing it more politically doable.

In 1945, President Truman, like Clinton, proposed universal health care but was unable to get a vote.

In 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt wanted to pass universal health care, but thought it too politically unpopular and didn’t even try.

In 1912, former President Theodore Roosevelt campaigned on the promise of universal health care and couldn’t even recapture the White House.

You can claim that the bill’s inadequacies are proof that President Obama failed to show true leadership on this issue, but history will tell you otherwise. He showed the courage that LBJ and FDR lacked, and his persistance did what Clinton, Nixon, and Truman were unable to do. I call that leadership.

Some things are worth losing over, and this is one of them. To last night’s 219 heroes and to President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid: thank you. This is the most important progressive victory since the Civil Rights movement. Sleep well knowing that whether you lose your next re-election or retire in 30 years, it was worth it.

Mass. Voters Made Correct Choice, For Once

When Senator John Kerry was running for President in 2004, the prospect of having a Republican governor pick his replacement was unacceptable, so the State Legislature passed/overwrote the veto a bill that required a special election in the event of a vacancy, which presumably they would win.  Well, surprisingly, John Kerry lost, Mitt Romney was replaced by Deval Patrick(The Darling of the Far Left, according to Bill O" Reilly).  Ted Kennedy, knowing he was going to die and noticing before anyone the obvious dilemma.  When he died, he would be replaced by an elected candidate.  That might get in the way of healthcare reform.  So they tried to change it back to a governor appointed candidate, and the cries of hypocrisy turned them back.  

I know nothing about Scott Brown, but I don't care at all about him either.  The one thing I am assuming is he will not vote for cloture on the healthcare bill, which means it will die as a filibuster.  A filibuster is as stupid as having fist fights in a legislative body.  It has never protected minority rights, in fact, it has often been used to block minority rights.  And you used to have to stand up, attach one of those things to piss in that you get at a hospital, get a water bottle and read the phone book, 24/7.  In 2006-2008 the Republicans brought 95 filibusters, more than any other congress.  In 2008-2010 I don't have the numbers yet, nobody does, but they are definitely higher.  Its time to get rid of the filibuster and replace it with a better mechanism.  

Having said that, the current health care bill should be defeated.  If someone had called drug policy reform imposing the death penalty for marijuana possession, it would not be what advocates of "reform" had in mind.  The same logic applies to analyzing the current healthcare bill.  It is worth noting no other President ever had trouble passing something with 60 Senate votes in his pocket.  Its always assumed that if you are against the Democrats, you are a Republican.  Not true.  This is why the Massachusetts voters chose Brown.  There where two people in the race and they didn't want the healthcare bill to pass, even though it is basically law in their state.  They know how bad an individual mandate is.  

As for Ted Kennedy's predicting of this tragedy, it show that the Democrats have honored his legacy appropriately.  Recently his enthusiasm for the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, his staunch support of the moral denigration of Israel into a racist and colonial human rights violator and his abandonment of single-payer healthcare among other things should have brought criticism.  I'm sorry if this contradicts your image of the Kennedys as these would be saviors, shinning leaders dedicated to leading you out of the woods.  JFK was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, and only Lee Harvey Oswald as the evidence clearly shows.  The movies and books that pump other lies about what happened into the public consciousness do so on the pretext that Kennedy, after winning reelection would have withdrawn troops from Vietnam(even though he ordered the first bombing of South Vietnam), and went further saying he would have abolished the CIA, Federal Reserve, dismantled the military-industrial complex, and ended the cold war.  This is simply not true.  Bobby was merely an opportunist, using the activism of the sixties as a pretext for his gaining of political power.  In fact, replacing Kennedy with Johnson, though tragic, might have been a net plus for society.  Kennedy was a more dangerous leader than Adolf Hitler, willing and able to risk the extinction of civilization to defend his macho man image.  To pretend Kennedy, who grew up in one of the richest families in world history and also one of the most right-wing(his father supported the Nazis, often referred to as "appeasement") would have pursued more "liberal" policies than Johnson, who grew up in absolute poverty in west Texas, is a wet dream.  

Weekly Pulse: What Does Coakley’s Defeat Mean for Health Care Reform?

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium Blogger

Last night, Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election to fill Teddy Kennedy’s senate seat in Massachusetts. Coakley’s loss puts health care reform in jeopardy.

With Coakley’s defeat, the Democrats lose their filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate. However, as Paul Waldman explains in The American Prospect, Coakley’s loss is not the end for health care reform.

Remember, the Senate already passed its health care reform bill in December. Now, the House has to pass its version of the bill. The original plan was for House and Senate leaders to blend the two bills together in conference to create a final piece of legislation (AKA a conference report) that both houses would vote on. Once the Democrats are down to 59 votes, the Republicans can filibuster the conference report and kill health care reform.

But if the House passes the same bill the Senate just passed, there’s no need to reconcile the two bills. This so-called “ping pong” approach may be the best way to salvage health care reform. Some of the flaws in the Senate bill could still be fixed later through budget reconciliation. It would be an uphill battle, but nothing compared to starting health care reform from scratch.

The second option would be to get the bill done before Scott Brown is sworn in. According to Waldman, there could be a vote within 10 days. The House and Senate have already drafted some compromise legislation, which Waldman thinks is superior to the straight Senate bill. If that language were sent to the Congressional Budget Office immediately, the Senate could vote before Brown is sworn in.

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said in a statement last night that Brown won’t be sworn in until the election results are certified, a process that could take two weeks. Historically, the winners of special Senate elections have taken over from their interim predecessors within a couple of days. If the Republicans were in this position, they’d use every procedural means at their disposal to drag out the process. The question is whether the Democrats have the fortitude to make the system work for them.

Remember how the Republicans did everything in their power to hold up the Senate health care vote, including forcing the clerk to read the 767-page bill aloud? They were trying to delay the vote until after the Massachusetts special election. If it’s okay for the GOP to stall, the Democrats should be allowed to drag their feet on swearing in Brown.

Also, remember how the Republicans fought to keep Al Franken from being seated after he defeated Norm Coleman?  For his part, Franken says he’s determined to pass health care reform one way or another, according to Rachel Slajda of Talking Points Memo.

Incongruously, some Democrats are arguing that rushing to a vote would be a violation of some vague democratic principle. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) wasted no time in proclaiming that there should be no vote before Brown was sworn in. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), of all people, averred last night that the Democrats should respect the democratic process and start acting like they have 59 votes while they still have 60.

All this talk of  “respecting the process” is hand waving disguised as civics. According to the process, Scott Brown isn’t the senator from Massachusetts yet. According to the process, you have the votes until you don’t.

Talk about moving the goalposts. It’s bad enough that we need 60 votes to pass a bill on any given day. Now, they’d have us believe that we also need 60 votes next week. Webb and Frank are arguing that Brown’s victory obliges Democrats to behave as if Brown were already the Senator from Massachusetts. Of course, if Webb won’t play ball, it’s a moot point. The whole fast-track strategy is predicated on 60 votes. Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly thinks that Webb effectively took the fast-track option off the table with his strongly worded statement.

Katrina vanden Huevel of The Nation argues that this historic upset should be a wake up call to President Barack Obama to embrace populism with renewed fervor. I would add that Obama was elected on a platform of hope and change. There is no better way to fulfill a promise of change than to reshape the nation’s health care system and provide insurance for millions of Americans.

Ping pong, anyone?

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

Court Denies MA-GOP Request; Kirk To Be Sworn In

From the Hill:

A Massachusetts court has rejected a request from the state Republican Party to put a temporary hold on Sen.-designate Paul Kirk's (D-Mass.) swearing-in Friday, clearing the way for Democrats to have a 60th seat in the Senate.

Kirk was appointed to the seat by Gov. Deval Patrick (D) on Thursday, but in order to do so Patrick had to declare an emergency. Republicans said Patrick had no such legal authority and filed for an injunction before the selection was announced.

Robert Byrd's health and frequent hospital stays notwithstanding, we are now back at a partisan 60 if not an ideological 60. This is a good thing for passing some sort of health care reform, but whether or not it's a good thing for the public option, we don't know.

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