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Senator Arlen Specter Becomes a Democrat 1124 1124

Akido37 was one of many readers letting us know that US Sen. Arlen Specter has changed parties to become a Democrat. This gives the Democrats 59 seats in the Senate, and 60 if and when Al Franken gets seated from Minnesota. However, Specter said in his announcement that he will not be an automatic 60th vote for breaking Republican filibusters. While the senator's move seems to have surprised many Republicans, it is understandable to moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, who said, "You haven't certainly heard warm encouraging words of how they [Republicans] view moderates. Either you are with us or against us." Specter noted that in his home state of Pennsylvania, 200,000 formerly Republican voters switched party allegiance last year.
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Senator Arlen Specter Becomes a Democrat

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  • And.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @03:53PM (#27749769)
    ...nothing of value was lost or gained.
  • by bughunter (10093) <(bughunter) (at) (earthlink.net)> on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:01PM (#27749897) Journal
    Gee - big surprise. This news comes just a weekend after news that his primary challenger, Pat Toomey, is showing a commanding lead in the polls [thebulletin.us].
  • by halivar (535827) <bfelger&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:03PM (#27749921) Homepage

    Specter left the Democratic Party in '81 because he lacked seniority for cool appointments. The Republicans were (and have been) desperate enough for a Pennsylvania senate seat that he could write his own checks in the GOP. Now, he's looking at being part of a permanent minority, and the majority party is probably going to give him nicer committee chairs than he could get with the GOP.

    It's not a principled stand; it's politics.

  • Re:Shift in dynamics (Score:4, Informative)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:07PM (#27749985) Journal

    Eh. Specter is an old school reagan-ish republican. He's pro-choice, pro-environment, and pro-immigration. He's crossed party lines repeatedly over the last few years: he was 1 of three senate republicans to vote for the big stimulus package.

    The stimulus vote pissed off the republican leadership, with Steele going so far as to threaten not to contribute to his campaign fund. He's had republican challengers in the primaries for the last 2(?) primaries.

    I think they did a good job of making him feel unwanted, and frankly, they can suck it up.

  • Mixed value. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:10PM (#27750029) Journal
    Bad:

    1. his presence will serve as a brake on more progressive legislation.

    2. being a Democrat will prevent the Dems from offering up a more progressive candidate to oppose him had he stayed Republican.

    3. He'll likely vote as a "liberal" Republican, ie: with the interests of capital in economics, in the interests of no one in particular (i.e. who ever pays his bills) in social issues.

    Good:

    1. He'll likely vote with the Dems about 60% of the time.

    2. This will force the Republican party (now the property of ignorance and corruption) to be more considerate and thoughtful of their positions.

    3. This could lead to someone like Snowe defecting as well, which would really bury the Republican part, possibly for good, as it could split between the Bible Thumping retard faction and the neocon fascist faction, which would work to the benefit of the Democrats.

    RS

  • Re:And.... (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:17PM (#27750163)

    Hey, Brian there, I've got news for you buddy - THE COLLAPSE HAPPENED LAST YEAR!!! And guess what? It wasn't the fault of government intervention into the economy. It was the fault of Objectivists like you. Hope you sleep soundly tonight, buddy, because the rest of us are going back to good ole KEYNES.

  • by realnrh (1298639) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:26PM (#27750269) Journal
    Actually, that was a right-wing projection. Democrats never wanted us to lose the war, they wanted the U.S. to stop pursuing the policies that were failing. Republicans, in their typically hyperaggressive way, screamed themselves red in the face that this was wanting America to lose. Put another way, Rush Limbaugh explicitly has said he wants President Obama to fail. Not his policies. Not his programs. His entire presidency. No Democrat of any significance actually made any statement calling for the war to be lost.
  • Re:And.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0WaitState (231806) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:29PM (#27750333)
    Sorry dude, but I've lived significant portions of my life in Canada, Britain, and Italy, both as an adult and child: *it* *just* *works* *better*

    You feel sick, you go to a doctor without worrying about "prior condition" exclusions resulting in termination of insurance or non-coverage. You get hurt, you go to a hospital, without worrying about your care being delayed while they shunt you over to someplace else because you don't have the right kind of (or maybe any) insurance, or discovering that your insurance has gotchas such as only paying for 2nd+days in hospital (all the expensive stuff happens on the first day).

    Not happy with the universal health insurance? You can still go to a private practitioner and pay for it yourself. But, because you are negotiating up front, the costs are much lower than the US, and come without some kind of arcane billing system designed to confuse the end user. And the care providers don't want an insane billing system and are much more likely to give you a rollup all-in-one bill amount before you start.
  • Re:Shift in dynamics (Score:4, Informative)

    by realnrh (1298639) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:37PM (#27750511) Journal
    The Republican front-runner is Pat Toomey, lately the president of the right-wing anti-tax extremist group, the Club for Growth. He's further right than Rick Santorum was. In trial polling thus far, Specter easily destroys Toomey among the general electorate; it's only with the Republican primary he had no chance. As far as the Democratic primary goes, he will have opposition (at least one minor declared candidate says he will not withdraw), but Governor Ed Rendell has said he will work to support Specter in the primary - as have other prominent Democrats including President Obama. This may well come down to his vote on the Employee Free Choice Act, though. If he votes for cloture, then the PA labor unions will probably let him vote as he likes on the actual bill. If he votes against cloture, though, the politically-powerful PA labor unions will be mobilized strongly against him, and he may have trouble getting through the primary then.
  • Re:And.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... 4159com minus pi> on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:45PM (#27750663) Journal

    Unfortunately for you, the facts are plain. Americans pay the most for our health care, per capita. Four times as much as any other country. And we have one of the worst health care outcomes, as measured by average life expectancy, child mortality rate, and so forth. Our outcomes are worse than some third world countries. So, for four times the cost of the next most expensive health care system, we get a third world health care system. You can speculate all you want, but your speculations are proven worthless by the real world.

    Right now, you have private insurance companies, dedicated to nothing more than profiting off of your suffering, deciding whether you get care. Do you honestly think that is better?

  • by realnrh (1298639) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @05:00PM (#27750981) Journal
    FAIL.

    The right-wing extremism report was initiated by George W. Bush's White House, as a counterpoint to the left-wing extremism report issued earlier this year. The right-wing extremism report further did not identify conservatives as extremists; it identified two major groups within right-wing extremists, those being hate extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and single-issue extremist groups like abortion-clinic bombers. Agreeing with any of the issues does not mean that they called you an extremist, only that extremists have been known to share that issue.

    Some squirrels are male and some squirrels are female. You are in all likelihood either male or female. This does not, however, mean that you are necessarily a squirrel. It's the same argument, except with 'squirrel' in place of 'extremist,' 'male' in place of 'hate groups,' and 'female' in place of 'single-issue groups.'
  • Re:Awesome. (Score:3, Informative)

    by hey! (33014) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @05:01PM (#27751011) Homepage Journal

    I'm glad you are amused. I'd be happier, though, if you understood.

    I'm pointing out to the poster that he probably in fact cares whether the country succeeds or not.

  • Re:And.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrsquid0 (1335303) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @05:21PM (#27751389) Homepage

    I have lived for several years in both the US and in Candada, and my experience has been that Canada's health care system does work better than the US one. There are problems with it, but in general I found that both the quality of care and the administrative details that I had to deal with were both significantly better in Canada than in the US. Your milage may vary.

  • Re:And.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @05:35PM (#27751633)
    I was traveling in Europe to visit some family in Spain. While doing something stupid I broke my leg. They took me to a hospital, and as uninsured as I was the whole business cost about $70.00 (I can't remember the amount in Euro). If that had happened in the U.S. I would still be working off the debt in the acid mines and the life of my first born child would be forfeit. Call me a socialist if you want, I'll take the health care.
  • Re:And.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by xaxa (988988) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @05:37PM (#27751665)

    The Daily Mail is not a balanced source for debating health care in NHS (I'm not American, but I think citing Fox News for gun control laws would be similar?).

    In any case, in the third sentence, "this demonstrates how much dental care has deteriorated under Labour". They're criticising the way the current government is running the NHS, not universal health care.

    "He pointed the finger at the general difficulty in finding a Health Service dentist since the Government introduced a 'botched' contract in April 2006." -- again, blaming the government.

    "The crisis in NHS dentistry is one of this Government's most shameful legacies"

    In the second article "A spokesman for NHS East Riding of Yorkshire said Mr Boynton's case gave an 'inaccurate scare-mongering picture of dental service provision in East Yorkshire based solely on the claims of one man'", which sums up the Daily Mail nicely.

    Note that at no point in either article does the newspaper suggest switching to a private system. They want the government (well, the next government) to fix the current system, but none of the main parties in the UK want to end universal health care.

    Try searching for David Cameron (leader of the Conservative party, the major right-wing one) and his experience with the NHS wrt his terminally ill son.

  • Re:And.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by thirty-seven (568076) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @05:38PM (#27751691)

    However, by any measure you care to name--longer lives, lower infant mortality, lower morbidity...--we have considerably better health care outcomes in Canada than Americans have, and we pay less for them.

    To further clarify, this is true even controlling for the fact that there are groups that tend to have worse health outcomes in the US and which are less numerous in Canada. So even comparing between just middle-class white people in Canada and the US, you get significant differences in those metrics.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @06:05PM (#27752089)

    There was no "ability" to filibuster. Even at 41 Republicans, the Democrats could always count on Snowe or Collins or McCain or Specter or one of a few others. You can't filibuster with 38 votes.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @06:10PM (#27752153)

    The Stimulus vote is the proof that the Republicans didn't have 41 votes to filibuster anything. You can't filibuster with less than 41 votes.

    There was exactly 1 test vote on cloture this session. Specter voted with the Democrats. Now he's becoming a Democrat to ... vote with the Democrats. What changed?

  • by Chibi Merrow (226057) <mrmerrow.monkeyinfinity@net> on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @06:40PM (#27752571) Homepage Journal

    James Carville said he wanted Bush to fail, but that was in general, to be fair, as the comment was made before the war.

    In 2006 a national poll said 51% of Democrats wanted President Bush to fail... Again, "fail" in general, not specifically about the war.

    Harry Reid announced the war was already lost and that we HAD failed, about a year ago.

    I remember a good example of a DU poster, on the day that the capture of Saddam was announced, responding to the news with the comment "I'm in tears over here... How can we win if stuff like this keeps happening?"

    Honestly I don't think any prominent Democrat would be STUPID enough to make such a PUBLIC statement, though it was their desire. There's probably plenty of examples of the random lunatic fringe Democrat members of the House buried in some news archives somewhere, but I really don't feel like digging them out just for you to say "Well, they're not a major figure any way!"

  • by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @06:55PM (#27752775)

    Right wing republicans want a dictatorship in the US, run by religious law - very much indistinguisable from the likes of the Taliban.

    Can you give an actual example of a Conservative Republican who wants that?

    He said "Right wing republicans" not "Conservative Republicans"! Believe it or not, there is a significant difference. As to examples of Right wing republicans would want a dictatorship in the US, run by religious law:
    1. Pat Robertson
    2. James Dobson
    3. Newt Gingrich
    4. Rush Limbaugh
    5. All the Bushes
    6. Jimmy Swaggart
    And so on...

    Ahh there's that tolerance everyone on the left said was missing during the Bush years. I feel so accepted for my differing viewpoints. Really.

    One thing your obviously feeble mind doesn't grasp is this: If you wanted to believe that the Earth is only 6000 years old, that evolution was a load of bullocks, and so on, liberal minded people in general would not have a problem with this. Live and let live. The problem is you stupid fucknuts trying to force *everyone else* to either believe or at least publicly profess (on pain of imprisonment or death) your particular view of things.

  • Re:And.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... 4159com minus pi> on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @08:01PM (#27753443) Journal

    No problem [umaine.edu], since you asked so politely.

  • Re:And.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by VoidEngineer (633446) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @08:50PM (#27753857)
    Fascist? I think that word doesn't mean what you think it means.
  • Re:And.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by db32 (862117) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @09:09PM (#27753985) Journal
    Wow...just wow... Mindless fearmongering, backpedaling, and then saying that being forced to carry a Real ID is not "papers please" and that we are talking about some communist regime healthcare system. In case you haven't actually been paying attention, there have been a whole gang of suggestions on how to approach it, and the Canadian one isn't even "government provided", it is a government insurance, not government healthcare, it worked even better before they capped the salary of doctors, and the Canadians have a fucking holiday to celebrate the guy that came up with it.

    Now, if you would be bothered to read the statistics (I work in the medical field, I have read them), the numbers of "wrong procedures" in the operating room or wrong medications or wrong doses are disturbingly high in our current private medical system. Pretending that this fucking trainwreck of a system is "good" is the biggest load of head in the sand bullshit I have ever heard. The only people I have EVER heard sing the praise of our system here are people that have never actually had to go through anything even remotely serious. I see the slimey shit drug reps all the time. I have had to fight with private insurance. Tricare is a fucking organization of saints compared to BCBS. There was an incident in Kansas City where a woman miscarried and BCBS refused to pay and called it an "elective abortion". That one is in the news and can be verified. Your little anecdotal story is sketchy at best because that kind of refusal of emergency treatment could have had a whole fucking gang of people drummed out and likely facing criminal charges. Worst case scenario, military members and their families are allowed to go to civilian emergency rooms and Tricare covers it. Also, it is a D&C not a DNC.

    Further, "Medicaid approved surgeon"...like there is a difference between regular surgeons and medicaid approved ones? Is there some mystery test failure that must happen to get them on the Medicaid approved list? I mean...I know a good number of surgeons that accept all forms of insurance, private, Tricare, Medicaid, etc...and all of them are damned good and have a tremendous amount of respect from their patients and staff. There are good docs and bad docs, and whether or not they accept Medicaid is completely and totally irrelevant. Funny thing is, the vast majority of those "wrong procedures" happen in private hospitals because the patient never actually meets the surgeon...they are wheeled in, operated on, and wheeled back out. Those super high priced surgeons don't have time for chitchat.

    The military is government provided healthcare, Tricare is government provided insurance. The difference in quality between the two is pretty significant. Your assertion that it still sucks compared to private medicine is laughable at best and tells me you have absolutely no clue how Tricare or private insurance works. With the exception of active military, you can pretty much do what you want with Tricare...and even active military can get a referral to private specialists in many cases. Do you think that all doctors accept all insurance equally? I know doctors that refuse private insurance companies because they cause too much of a hastle in stupid fighting about what is and isn't going to be covered!

    Please...get a fucking clue before parading about with your moronic far right wing rhetoric.
  • Re:Ugh... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Knara (9377) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @09:36PM (#27754167)

    Everyone uses Lieberman as the go-to for that.

    In PA, running as Independent after losing the primary in your party isn't legal, AFAIK.

    Also he'd be losing all the funding from the DNC, and PA is pretty damn blue these days.

    Lieberman is an exception, not a rule.

  • Re:And.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by db32 (862117) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @09:43PM (#27754221) Journal
    WTF? The main bitch about government healthcare is that taxpayers will be forced to subsidize bad health choices...so you are pointing to an article that shows that isn't the case? Congratulations for not making sense AND once again making nonsense claims about the government. The government only started looking at that trick after private insurance and private employers started doing it!

    Here [msn.com] we have multiple private insurance companies and private employeers charging smokers more. That is right...multiple instances of the little "government boogeyman" story you linked...the story is about a TREND not a single incident like your story. How stupid of you to think that private industry isn't already doing it. Oh and in both cases they are paying extra, not being forced. But for shits and giggles since you want to play... How about reading this [thebostonchannel.com] about an employee was fired for smoking by a private company. After all, private companies trying to increase their bottom line don't want to pay the insurance premiums of smokers and obese people...so just fire them instead!
  • Re:Shift in dynamics (Score:5, Informative)

    by drew (2081) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @10:45PM (#27754729) Homepage

    I agree with your premise, but the banking deregulation that (at least partially) led to the current situation was done under Clinton.

  • by TheoMurpse (729043) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:18AM (#27756013) Homepage

    Furthermore they aren't protected by the Geneva Conventions

    Unfortunately for you, the Supreme Court [wikipedia.org] and the stewards of the Geneva Conventions [icrc.org] disagree with you there. At a minimum, Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions provide a baseline of protections the United States must afford to every detainee.

  • by coaxial (28297) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:12AM (#27756297) Homepage

    Specter left the Democratic Party in '81 because he lacked seniority for cool appointments. The Republicans were (and have been) desperate enough for a Pennsylvania senate seat that he could write his own checks in the GOP.

    That's interesting, according Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] he's been a registered Republican since 1966. He wasn't even elected to the Senate until 1980. So I call gross fabrication (i.e. bullshit). FYI: If you're going to make shit up, don't make it so goddamn trivial to check.

    Now, he's looking at being part of a permanent minority, and the majority party is probably going to give him nicer committee chairs than he could get with the GOP.

    He's not getting any. [wsj.com]

    It's not a principled stand; it's politics.

    Oh you're right to say that it's because he was going to lose in the GOP primary, but that's not very insightful, since Specter said that very thing in his press conference today. The real issue is whether he's right when he said that the GOP left him, rather than he left the GOP. I suspect he's right. Barry Goldwater famously went from crazy rightwinger to moderate without changing a position.

  • Re:Awesome. (Score:3, Informative)

    by ciggieposeur (715798) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @11:21AM (#27759735)

    Suppose I agree (I don't) that New Deal was what got America out of Great Depression (it wasn't; it was the whole shake-up with WWII).

    Now explain why government spending on military ventures (WWII) CAN fix the economy, yet government spending on anything else (roads, new technology (Internet anyone?), electrical grid, R&D, universities (GI Bill anyone?), city infrastructure, etc. etc.) CAN'T fix the economy.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"

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