Bill Scher

Hiding From Plain Oversight

Last month, the Bush administration began to spin, with the help of The Washington Post, that the Medicare prescription drug plan—which does not allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices—was doing great because the private insurers were already negotiating for lower prices. And in a Blog For Our Future entry, I noted how the Change America Now! Campaign knocked down that spin. This week, after the House Oversight and Government Reform committee requested the data from Bush’s Medicare officials so it could find out how helpful those negotiations actually were for consumers, guess what? They won’t release the data. Kaiser Network’s Daily Health Care Report says committee chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and ranking member Rep.

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Bill Scher

Oversight, Shmoversight

Last month, the Bush Administration began to spin that the Medicare prescription drug plan — which does not allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices — was doing great because the private insurers were already negotiating for lower prices. And this blog noted how the Change America Now! Campaign knocked down that spin. This week, after a House committee requested the data from Bush’s Medicare officials so it could find out how helpful those negotiations actually were for consumers, guess what? They won’t release the data. Kaiser Network’s Daily Health Care Report says Dem Rep. Henry Waxman and GOP Rep. Tom Davis requested the price data so they could determine what the discounts were and if the savings went to consumers or corporate bottom lines.

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Bill Scher

Walter Reed: Victim of Underfunding and Privatization

As the Walter Reed scandal sears the public, more attention is being paid to whose heads should roll than what policies need reform. While both are important, if bad policies don’t change, new people can’t do a better job. It’s becoming clear that Walter Reed suffers from the hallmarks of conservatism: underfunding our government and privatizing our government. Retired Army Major General Paul Eaton has a NY Times oped titled, “Casualties of the Budget Wars” which informs us that: Last year, because of spending in Iraq, the Army had a $530 million shortfall in its budget for posts at home and abroad. This forced the Army’s vice chief of staff, Richard Cody, to tighten belts that were already at the last notch. And he argues: The general effort by [former Defense Sec. Donald] Rumsfeld and [recently deposed Army Sec.

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Bill Scher

Newt: One of the “Worst Persons In The World”

Newt Gingrich’s blaming of New Orleans’ 9th Ward residents for a “failure of citizenship” by being unable to “get out of the way of a hurricane” — remarks jointly pushed into the spotlight by this blog and Huffington Post’s Matt Browner Hamlin — won the coveted Bronze award in Keith Olbermann’s daily “Worst Persons In The World” segment. He was beaten out for the Silver and Gold by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, and there’s no shame in that. Crooks and Liars has the video.

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Bill Scher

Conservatives Pout and Complain

My Campaign For America’s Future colleague Eric Lotke has his take on CPAC posted at TomPaine.com, “CPAC: Conservatives Pout And Complain.” Here’s an excerpt: The conservatives at central headquarters don’t seem to have learned the lesson of 2006 … Americans want real solutions to real problems. They’re catching on to the bait-and-switch: The first five minutes of every speech are appealing, but the policies that follow are catastrophic. An ideology that disdains government is destined to govern badly. Click here to read the full piece. For more, check out our Conservative Failure page.

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Bill Scher

The Conservative Movement: Stuck on Step 1

The following was initially posted at The Huffington Post. As everyone knows, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Yet during my three days attending the Conservative Political Action Conference, I failed to find much recognition from conservatives that their movement has a “secular problem.” As I wrote here just before CPAC, the conservative “secular problem” is their severe lack of competitiveness with the 40%-43% of voters who don’t regularly attend church. Because of that problem, according to the exit poll data, conservatives no longer control Congress.

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Bill Scher

Newt: The Savior?

The CPAC presidential straw poll was announced today, right before Newt Gingrich delivered the final address of the event. Mitt Romney nominally won, but with a paltry plurality of 21%, and he paid for “scores” of staffers to participate in the poll. Further, there was cool reception from the crowd as the results were announced. Three others were close behind, Rudy Giuliani with 17%, Sam Brownback with 15%, and the unannounced Gingrich with 14%. When first and second choices were combined, Giuliani was first with 34%, with Romney and Gingrich tied with 30%. But any grumbling from the crowd ceased once Newt entered the room. The thunderous reception made it seem like Newt would have come in first, if he was an official candidate.

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Bill Scher

The Conservative Iran Debate: Bombing or Assassination

Two of the conservative movement’s most beloved intellectual leaders, Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity, had slightly differing takes on how to approach Iran, though both received jubilant applause by their respective standing-room-only audiences. Coulter, in discussing the prospects for Rudy Giuliani yesterday afternoon, said: My thesis is that right-wingers think that Rudy Giuliani would immediately bomb Iran, and so we kind of like that. But I’d like to get that in writing before you make him our presidential nominee. Whereas Hannity this morning, in rejecting negotiations with Iran to end its nuclear program, offered: The only discussion I want to have with him — I want to say, “Mr.

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Bill Scher

Newt on New Orleans 9th Ward Residents: A “Failure of Citizenship”

There’s more to say about Newt Gingrich (who looks more like a presidential candidate after today) but let me call attention to this from his grand finale address to CPAC: He blamed the residents of New Orleans’ 9th Ward for a “failure of citizenship,” by being “so uneducated and so unprepared, they literally couldn’t get out of the way of a hurricane.” And he called for a “deep investigation” into this “failure of citizenship.” Here’s the full quote: How can you have the mess we have in New Orleans, and not have had deep investigations of the federal government, the state government, the city government, and the failure of citizenship in the Ninth Ward, where 22,000 people were so uneducated and so unprepared, they literally couldn’t get out of the way of a hurricane.

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Bill Scher

“Energy Independence Is Not A Possible Option”

Whoever said “failure is not an option”* hasn’t met the visionaries of the American Petroleum Institute — aka, the lobbyists for Big Oil. Big Oil’s chief economist John Felmy spoke on a CPAC energy panel … and let’s take a moment to reflect on that: The biggest conservative movement event of the year features a presentation by Big Oil. Now that you’re properly disgusted (or, just unsurprised), here is a Cliff Notes version of Felmy’s address: Waaah! Why do they say oil company profits are so huge? We’re barely scraping by! Feeble senior citizens own oil company stock. More renewable energy means more homeless senior citizens. Jimmy Carter wanted renewable energy, so obviously it can’t work.

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Bill Scher

Bizarre Sight Of The Day

A Sam Brownback supporter with a lip ring. The evil grasp Britney Spears has on our youth has even infiltrated CPAC. The terrorists have won. You may go home now.

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Bill Scher

Blogger Ethics Panel Time

Rudy Giuliani was glowingly introduced today by a member of the so-called liberal media, Washington Post columnist George Will. Will assured the audience that Giuliani’s conservatism is “the flavor of Margaret Thatcher’s” and “produced the 8 consectutive years of the most successful conservative government in the 20th century in America.” This is not the first time Will has crossed the journalistic ethics line. Unless anyone can add his well-documented past exploits in the comments, I’ll shoot to add them later on.

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Bill Scher

More Old Ideas Please

I’ve yet to hear any conservatives recognize that they are suffering from a “secular problem”. But the closest anyone has come is US News’ Michael Barone. In a morning panel on the ’08 landscape, he cautioned conservatives not to look in the past for another Reagan, but to find “new ideas” that speak to the concerns of today’s voters. Barone’s advice didn’t take. Minutes later, Human Events editor John Gizzi urged conservatives to keep pushing for “less government,” then turned to Barone and said: New ideas are fine, but isn’t it about time we take some old ideas off the shelf And that received far louder applause.

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Bill Scher

“The Rich Are Getting Screwed”

So that’s what’s wrong with our economy. At an afternoon panel on taxes, Scott Hodge of the Tax Foundation, lamented that despite six years of tax cuts mainly for the wealthiest, we haven’t completely destroyed our progressive tax system. After a slide presentation described how the wealthy contribute more in taxes and the poor receive more in benefits, Hodge declared, “the rich are getting screwed.” Now there’s the message that will bring back conservatism. Later, a questioner suggested that that stats of people living under the poverty level aren’t accurate because it doesn’t include their government benefits. In response, Hodge, after claiming that the percent of people in poverty is the same as it was in the 60s (not mentioning that poverty went down under Pres. Clinton and up under Pres.

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Bill Scher

Osama, Zawahiri, Britney

On a panel about social issues, panelists were asked if, when choosing a presidential candidate, protecting America from terrorism is more important than banning abortion and denying equal marriage rights — the argument for Rudy Giuliani. Robert Wright of the Media Research Center put things in the proper perspective: We need to defend the country … but we can’t allow our country to become Sodom and Gomorrah in the meantime.

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Bill Scher

Quote of the Day (So Far)

When society tolerates deviance … it normalizes deviance … lesbianism among young women has risen dramatically in the last 10 years alone. And that is certainly due to media and advertising, and certainly also because of the fact that we decide to tolerate it.

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Bill Scher

Bring The Hate

As I alluded to in that last post, conservatives appear to believe hating on immigrants is the ticket back to power. As Schlafly urged her brethren to reach out to the “Reagan Democrats” whose “jobs have been taken away,” she ramped up the demagougery, hysterically warning “we cannot let Mexico turn us into a two-language nation.” (Ever been to Puerto Rico, Louisiana, Chinatown, Little Saigon, Amish country…?) She thundered that America should not be a country of “multiculturalism, multilingualism and diversity”.

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Bill Scher

Conservatives Are Cranky In the Morning

The blame game is in full effect. Conservatives are not blaming themselves and their failed ideology, but President Bush and the Republican leadership for not being conservative enough. The conservative movement pioneer Richard Viguerie railed against “Big Government Republicanism” (As if the citizens of New Orleans wished Republicans provided them with less government). He ripped the presidential frontrunners as insufficiently conservative, while anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly complained the media was forcing McCain, Giuliani and Romney on them. (Hugging the Iraq war and gearing up for Iran apparently isn’t as important as hating gays and immigrants.

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Bill Scher

The Conservatives’ “Secular Problem”

Today through Saturday, when Republicans and conservatives gather in Washington for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, will they face up to the biggest obstacle preventing them from connecting with voters? Their “secular problem.” Lots of ink has been spilled about how Democrats and liberals suffer from a “religion problem” — a perceived hostility towards Christianity and religion in general. But Pew Research Center exit poll data from the 2006 midterm elections shows the opposite. Democrats crushed Republicans among secular voters, broadly defined as those who attend church seldom (favoring Democrats 60% to 38%) or never (67% to 30%). Republicans retained strong support among those who attend church more than weekly.

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Bill Scher

Welcome to the CPAC LiveBlog!

How will conservatives handle their colossal failure to govern? Will they blame Dubya? Will they claim they weren’t conservative enough? Unlike their president, will they actually admit mistakes? To find out, we’re in the belly of the beast, blogging live from the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. CPAC promises a cavalcade of stars: Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, John Bolton, several presidential candidates and oh so much more. Throughout the conference, from Thursday March 1 to Saturday March 3, keep checking back for dispatches and analysis.

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