Archive for brilliance

Moment Of Brilliance #3: Obama’s Epic Win

Posted in brilliance, politics with tags , , , , , , , on August 8, 2009 by vagabondsaint

I am laughing today about the healthcare reform debate.  That’s right, laughing.

I am laughing because yesterday, it came out that President Obama had, in closed-door negotiations, made a deal with pharmaceutical companies to support healthcare reform and make an $80 billion reduction in medication costs over the next decade.  In exchange for their support and pledge,  the White House would not support anything in the current reform package that would affect Big Pharmaceutical, including not allowing Medicare to negotiate for cheaper prices or import cheaper Canadian medications.

Is that necessarily a good thing, that Big Pharma has bought itself from the administration? Well, yes and no.

On the Huffington Post, there were plenty of comments about how Obama had sold out the American people to Big Pharma, how he has failed to bring the change he promised, that he’s a corporate shill, he’s a fraud, et cetera, ete cetera, blah blah blah, whine whine whine, change my diaper.

On the other hand, it took me about two seconds to see the brilliance of the plan.

No matter how much money the insurance companies and lobbies have, Big Pharma has as much, if not more.  We’ve already seen the destructive results of insurance lobbying in Congressional obstructionism, Astroturf campaigns disrupting town halls, and misleading advertising.   How much worse do you think it would be if the pharmaceutical companies were throwing their weight behind the movement as well?

So Obama negotiated and got Big Pharma off the table.

But wait! say the people who feel it their job to quuestion, insult, and attack the President at every turn, their chorus strengthened by the addition of those who don’t think in long-term goal achievement and don’t know how to play chess.  Isn’t rising drug costs one of the reasons that healthcare is so expensive?  Don’t America’s pharmaceutical practices need reform as well?

Surprisingly, they’re right.  There does need to be reform there, and time will tell if the pledged $80 billion cost reduction will help much or not.  But at least it’s something, which is more than the health insurance companies have been willing to do.  Also, there’s something else:  Congress is still free to pursue drug regulation reform  any time that it wants to.  It just won’t be able to do so in this healthcare reform package.  It will also be done, if it is done in the future, without White House support, so if it’s painted as chance to hurt Obama, the Republicans will sign on and override a veto, if he were to issue one.

Meanwhile, not only is Big Pharma not opposing the current healthcare reform package, they’re spending $150 million in advertising to support it.  Just as a comparison, that’s $24 million more than John McCain spent on his entire Presidential campaign, and just a little over half of what Obama spent.  It’s more than the opponents of healthcare reform are likely to be able to raise, plus that $150 million is aided by independent groups like MoveOn, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and others coming out in support of healthcare.

Obama not only avoided making the battle too large to win, he recruited an ally with money power comparable to his opponents and left the door open to a future solo battle with Big Pharma, as opposed to having to fight them and the healthcare insurance lobby together.

That’s just brilliant.

Call it choosing your battles wisely, call it pitting one enemy against another, steal a page from the Senryahu and call it borrowing the right of way to attack, it all boils down to a great strategic move. . .and one that stands in glorious counterpoint to the ham-handed “us vs. them” “bring it on” tactics of the previous Administration.  It’s so, so nice to have a President that thinks long-term and actually has strategies, as opposed to the “get out there and yell” whining and frustrated rabble-rousing of his enemies.

It’s brilliant, is what it is.

VS – 8.08.09

Moments Of Brilliance, #1: Stuck On Stupid

Posted in brilliance, politics with tags , , , , , on June 9, 2008 by vagabondsaint

For a few days, Larry Langford was my hero.

Last week, my roommate, who will be henceforth referred to in these pages as NE, brought an item on the news to my attention. (I wonder what it says about both of us that she only watches local news, while I only watch national or international news. . .but that’s something for another column.) The item was about the city of Birmingham, Alabama, which has recently placed all municipal workers on shifts of 10 hours a day, for 4 days a week, instead of the normal 8-hour day 5 days a week, in order to ease the burden of high gas prices. Good idea, right? Yeah, I thought so too. But what made Larry Langford, Mayor of Birmingham, my hero was this quote: “In America, we’ve been stuck on ‘stupid’ for so long that it’s become accepted; it’s become the norm.” (I’m paraphrasing.) And again, I have to agree with Mayor Langford. We in this country (America) have been doing things in stupid ways for so long that it’s accepted and normal and we’ll fight against any changes, even when those changes are beneficial in both personal and global ways (how long has the automotive industry been fighting against regulations to raise fuel efficiency? how long have oil companies sought through lobbying to crush efforts to develop cleaner energy sources?).

So Mayor Langford is quite correct. We need to stop being stuck on stupid and do things better, more intelligently.

One of the these things I think we need to stop is government corruption on all levels, state, federal, city, and county. For example, the case of a county commissioner in Alabama who has been under investigation by the SEC for years for suspicion of accepting $150k in cash and gifts in exchange for giving county bonds to a certain business. Said commissioner was sued by the SEC on April 30 of this year, even though he is no longer a county commissioner and is now. . .

. . .wait for it. . .

. . .is now the Mayor of Birmingham, The Arguably-Honourable Larry Langford!

The hell, Larry? The hell!

Ah well. . .I guess everyone has a moment of brilliance; even a broken clock is right twice a day.

VS – 6.9.08