Thursday, March 25, 2010

This One's for You, Ted

Today, after voting for the Reconciliation healthcare reform bill, the Senate observed a minute of silence in memory of Senator Edward Kennedy, who championed healthcare reform and made it the cause of his life.

This Is How Conservative Think Tanks Treat Heretics

You know how conservatives always talk a good game about liberal intellectuals stifling the free exchange of ideas in so-called “elite” institutions such as universities, think tanks, and research organizations? It was practically an article of faith in conservative circles that the big bad liberal “elites” literally censored conservative “free thinking.” This is, of course, absolute hogwash.

Anyway, the proof is in the puddding. Enter David Frum, whose incisive criticism of fellow conservatives made him “a high-profile critic of Republican legislative leaders.” At least that’s what Arthur C. Brooks, president of the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, said to Mr. Frum over lunch, before asking him to stay on as a non-salaried fellow at the Institute. That’s like the boss telling an employee, “You’re such a valued worker that I’ll have to ask you to work for free!”

Naturally, Mr. Frum refused. And he was forced out. We trust that Brooks picked up the lunch tab.

Coultergeist Does Canada, Gets That "Deer in the Headlights Look" (Is Back for More)

Lesson No. 1, boys and girls: Fox News progeny must stay close to home; taking side trips to educated countries, like Canada, is bad for your health.

Lesson No. 2: When you make it a career to make stuff up (Palin, Coultergeist, Malkin, O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck, Rove, Morris, Carlson, Limbaugh) in the network that rewards lies-per-seconds records, it's not a good career move to be interviewed by someone who actually knows their facts and isn't afraid to embarass you.

Believe it or not, I felt sorry for the Coultergeist. Even Freakazoids have feelings!

Johnny Come Lately and the Right’s Twisted Vision of America and Hatred for President Obama

Finally, four days after repeated instances of violence and vandalism erupted against the home of one lawmaker’s brother and regional offices of House Democratic members who voted for healthcare reform, after phoned, mailed, shouted, faxed, signage death threats were made against individual House Democrats, after angry protesters hurled vitriol and racist invective against legends of the civil rights struggles John Lewis and James Clyburn, after homophobic epithets were screamed at Barney Frank and xenophobic language shouted at a Latino House Democrat, after an African American House member was spat on by a rabid Teabagger egged on by sign-waving Republicans outside, after Texas Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer yelled “baby killer!” from the House floor at Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak, who then received multiple death threats –- and after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Democratic Whip James Clyburn emerged from their Caucus meeting with Congressional security to denounce the incidents of violence, the climate of incivility, and report on the widespread threats –-

Only then did . . .

House Republican Leader John Boehner, with Eric Cantor, see fit to condemn the violence:
“I know many Americans are angry over this health care bill, and that Washington Democrats just aren't listening. But, as I've said, violence and threats are unacceptable. That's not the American way. We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change. Call your Congressman, go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign, make your voice heard -- but let's do it the right way.”
Democrats are not satisfied with the late Republican condemnation of violence, including a severed gas line in the home of Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello’s brother, who has four children. His address was posted online by the Teabaggers. The FBI is investigating. This is the result of a widespread campaign of lies, smears, and misinformation by a recklessly irresponsible (yes, it is an oxymoron) wingnut right:
  • 67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a socialist. The belief that Obama is a “domestic enemy” is widely held—a sign of trouble yet to come.
  • 57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim;
  • 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was “not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president;”
  • 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is “doing many of the things that Hitler did;”
  • 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama “may be the Antichrist.”
There is a name for this -- the “Obama Derangement Syndrome,” defined as the “pathological hatred of the President posing as patriotism has infected the Republican Party” from the violent fringes of its Teabagger storm troops. This hatred has now expanded to encompass all of the Democratic Party. This is a short list of those who bear direct responsibility for the incidents of violence, vandalism, and now as Rep. Bart Stupak affirmed, “domestic terrorism:”
  • Teabaggers (rebels without a clue, many packing heat);
  • Republicans who incited this violence with lies and misinformation, and never condemned the racism, the Hitler signs, the gun signs, the Nazi concentration camp signs right in front of their faces;
  • Dick Armey, leader of the astro-turf FreedomWorks Teabaggers;
  • Michelle Bachmann, who called for an investigation of “un-American” Democratic members of Congress;
  • Sarah Palin with her “death panels” lie, crosshair icons to “target” Democratic legislators, and incendiary language “LOAD UP;”
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry talking up “tyranny” and secessionism;
  • Birthers and their campaign to delegitimize President Obama;
  • Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, Fox “News,” Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, right wing hate radio, Bill O’Reilly, Karl Rove, Dick Morris, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Gretchen Carlson -- the entire wingnut anti-Obama propaganda machine;
  • Joe Wilson, for calling the President a liar, breaking a longstanding tradition of civility in the well of the House, and then raising money off of it;
  • Frank Luntz, a modern Joseph Goebbells, the GOP propaganda minister;
  • RNC and Michael Steel for turning a blind eye to its worst excesses; and on and on and on.
As one Ohio Democratic Congressman who was targeted by the Republicans’ storm troopers said of a careless remark by John Boehner after confronting him: “Words and actions have consequences.” Indeed they do. You cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Ever.

Texas Textbooks Become Campaign Issue Where they Belong, Unfortunately

Bill White, the Democratic candidate for governor in Texas, has called on Governor Rick Perry to ask (can the governor order them to?) the State Board of Re-Education to send the politicized right wing social studies curriculum they recently voted on back to committee. How this will help Mr. White politically in a predominantly red state is unclear, but by making it a campaign issue the Democratic candidate elevates its profile nationally. This is one of those issues that the more people -- parents, educators, voters -- become aware of the more concerned they become. And the more difficult it becomes for Governor Perry to try to defend the ultra-conservative political bias being injected into an educational curriculum.

This is what happens when a group of right wing extremists ram through the Texas Board of Re-Education a political and ideological document masquerading as a social studies curriculum. It has become clear from the controversy surrounding the rewriting of history by commission (there is no “wall of separation” of church and state) and omission (Thomas Jefferson) among many other offenses, e.g. against the contributions of non-whites to our nation’s history, that the Board is seriously dysfunctional, a national disgrace and international laughingstock. A Board member who opposed the changes, said they amounted to a “whitewash.” As if education isn’t enough of a problem the Board’s actions, unchalleged, will do the most damage precisely to the education of children who would rely on these biased and deeply flawed textbooks.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that two of the right wing Board members were voted out, as the public became aware of what was going on, yet will remain to cast a final vote on the changes in May, after a comment period. They have no intention of recusing themselves, and will be voting for final adoption of the changes as lame ducks. This, by itself, is a fatal flaw in the system since it is clear that at least two votes will be cast by defeated Board members who were in effect fired from office by the voters for making these changes.

The more the public becomes aware of this issue nationally, because it has national implications as Texas standards are widely adopted by other states, the greater the public alarm and pressure to reverse, or at least limit these changes to Texas.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vice President Biden: “This is a BIG fucking DEAL!”

Author of Republicans' “Waterloo” has Plan B: Repeal the Bill

Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, seeks to revive his “Waterloo” prediction -– “it’s Waterloo all right: ours,” wrote conservative David Frum -– by introducing a bill to repeal healthcare reform. DeMint, not the brightest bulb in a party populated by dimwits and troglodytes, is infamous for his trenchant prediction that healthcare reform would be President Obama’s Waterloo and “break” him.

Extending the Napoleonic metaphor to its logical conclusion, DeMint seems determined to fate the GOP to “exile” in the Isle of St. Helena with another volcanic blunder of Mount St. Helens proportions for Republicans. As any fifth-grade civics student outside Texas could tell DeMint, even if the Republicans succeeded in their repeal scheme the President would veto it.

Good luck, Senator DeMint, getting enough votes to override:
  • A prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions;
  • Insurance for 32 million uninsured Americans;
  • A prohibition on dropping people from coverage when they get sick in all individual plans;
  • Closing the prescription drug donut hole for seniors;
  • Tax credits for small businesses to purchase coverage;
  • Eliminating lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans;
  • Requiring plans to cover an enrollee's dependent children until age 26;
  • Preventive care services and immunizations without cost-sharing;
  • Internal and external appeals process for consumers to appeal new insurance plan decisions;
  • Premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures;
  • Public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs;
  • Enhanced fraud, waste, and abuse screening;
  • Medicare expansion to underserved rural areas;
  • Medical loss ratio of 85 percent or more for Blue Cross/Blue Shield to take advantage of IRS tax benefits;
  • Better early retiree health benefits for persons aged 55-64 to reduce coverage costs;
  • Better consumer information on the Net;
  • A two-year temporary credit to encourage investment in new therapies for the prevention and treatment of illnesses.
Democrats will be “deelighted!”-- to borrow Teddy Roosevelt’s effusive expression of optimism -- to stand in opposition to the Republicans’ Dickensian plans. T.R. was the first president to propose universal healthcare, and he never backed down from a good fight. Democrats head into the November mid-term elections with the historic accomplishment of healthcare reform -- the missing third leg (after Social Security and Medicare) in the Democratic Party’s great progressive platform, as President Obama said, “after a century of striving,” with the winds of change at our backs.

Healthcare reform is now the law of the land.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Healthcare Roundup: From Teabagger Viciousness to Democrats Making History, Again

Besides the filthy racist signs, there was this incitement to violence and treason (see sign below). Hopefully, the FBI and Secret Service are investigating and questioning these Teabaggers. Free speech doesn’t mean yelling fire in a crowded theater.

As if the treasonous and violent signs weren’t enough there were the racial slurs hurled at African American Congressmen John Lewis, a legend of the civil rights struggles, and James Clyburn, another being spat upon, shouting "faggot" at Barney Frank, and “go back to Mexico!” at a Latino Congressman.

Is there any rational person in this nation who would find such behavior acceptable? How about the Republican “rep” as an effective opposition party (joke) what’s left of it, with GOP Reps. egging these lunatics on and then saying, oh it's just a few bad apples, as they head into the November mid-term elections?

It's far more than a few bad apples, and it goes without saying that the Republicans have a moral responsibility to condemn this ugliness in the harshest of terms, just as the leaders of the so-called “Tea Party” movement do. 
Not that it’s going to happen. The new Republican “robo-call” might as well be a generic apology. Like the one issued today by Texas (is anybody surprised?) Congressman Randy Neugebauer after yelling “baby killer!” at Congressman Bart Stupak from the cesspool that has become the Republican side of the aisle in Congress.

I’ve seen four-legged basement claiming racehorses, non-winners for life, that are a classier bunch than these “Tea Party” animals and their Republican acolytes.

The Republican rhetoric got ever more outrageous as their frustration and desperation mounted. One congressman defended the Teabaggers’ conduct by claiming the healthcare bill would take us on a path to totalitarianism. Ayn Rand Objectivist Paul Ryan (pictured below) said the bill is a “fiscal Frankenstein,” (noo, he is) and wacko Marsha Blackburn said the bill, which expands the private marketplace for the insurance companies, means “dependency on the federal government and the death of freedom.” Right. The United States remains the only country in the world in which for-profit insurance companies deliver healthcare. They’ll be regulated, but their profit margin will hardly be affected.

Finally, kudos to Nancy Pelosi, whose place is secure in history beyond being the first woman Speaker of the House, but also, more importantly, one of the greatest Speakers in the history of Congress. Love her or hate her, no one will ever doubt her incredible results-oriented leadership style after Sunday’s historic vote. In a splendid symbolic move, Speaker Pelosi and the entire House Democratic leadership proudly walked the Teabagger gauntlet to demonstrate they would not be intimidated by the viciousness of the clueless haters.

This is only a beginning, but a good beginning -– a foundation to be built upon. It’s a proud day to be a Democrat. Once again, we’re on the right side of history, and Republicans are on the outside looking in, with envy, anger, and that loser’s hangdog expression.

Quotable: David Frum

“Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s. ... So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours.”
David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush

I agree with Mr. Frum. He is an astute enough student of history and politics to have realized the Republicans were playing a dangerous ideological all-or-nothing game with the President. By vowing to oppose every initiative of the President’s, even those in which common ground could be found; by whipping up their angry fringe, the Teabaggers, which in my view they and the punditocracy have grossly overestimated; and by playing infantile process games of obstruction, the Republicans gambled everything on Jim DeMint’s catchy but recklessly self-destructive prediction of President Obama’s “Waterloo” -- and lost.

Deal with it, Republicans. And try cutting the Teabaggers loose. You stoked that ugly flame; now you own it. David Frum may be a minority of one -- or three -- in the GOP.

The President's Victory Lap


Sunday, March 21, 2010


This just about sums up the Republican/FOX Democratic DOOM/Apocalypse after the Democratic House of Representatives passes the healthcare reform bill, Don’t ya think!

Alternate nightmare: Red sun rising, red dawn, red sky . . . blue state, flying monkeys everywhere?