March 30, 2010

Twisting History in Texas

Via my buddy Ubub, this great essay on the Texas history idiocy by none other than Eric Foner. I have used his textbook for years and still think that his treatment of Reconstruction as well as his "Free Soil, Free Labor, Free men" rank as some great American historical scholarship.

Here he places the Texas idiots in a context, and though he doesn't really say this, points to the racist tendencies from this Texas board. At every point, those who contributed to racial equality are shunted aside for someone else, or the racial sins are simply omitted or reduced. Slavery is less important to the dentist from Texas than it is to the rest of us, I guess.
The Double-V Campaign during World War II (blacks' demand that victory over the Axis powers be accompanied by victory over segregation at home) has been omitted from the high school curriculum. Japanese-American internment is now juxtaposed with "the regulation of some foreign nationals," ignoring the fact that while a few Germans and Italians were imprisoned as enemy aliens, the vast majority of people of Japanese ancestry who were interned were US citizens.
This is, quite frankly, the type of shit that my students routinely believe happens with history. This is the case of the "winner writing the history," which, I have suggested to numerous classes, is not a terribly useful way to see historical scholarship. The 20th century's expansion of voices, from the women's movement to African American civil rights and Native American scholars--all expanded our understanding of the past, and undermined that simplistic, and cynical bromide. That, as I have made clear in my lectures, is part of what has made America great--that those additional voices tapped into the Constitution and belief in liberalism and republicanism to right wrongs. That people could use the same document that once labeled African slaves as 3/5 of a person to justify civil rights? That is pretty fucking amazing.

But this unifying and inclusive force that has broadened our understanding of the past is toxic for the Texas dentist and realtor. No, much better to emphasize the Parson Weems' approach to history.

Well, of course, how could anti-government rants hurt conservatives?

After listening to the unbelievably stupid Michelle Bachmann (only politician who makes Sarah Palin look both measured and smart, btw) tell conservatives that the Census is a plot to find people for internment camps, and even the supposedly rational Ron Paul (and sorry, I am not convinced), who could fortell that we would have record low census return rates in Republican strongholds?

Here is a prediction, btw. Just as the swallows return to Capistrano (or whatever that saying is), and just as Republicans rediscovered the values of dissent and fiscal responsibility when their own idiot wasn't in the White House, we will see Republicans calling for a statistical sampling method if they lose seats in traditional Republican easy districts.

Write that down.

Wow. Just, wow.

Steve Benen catches this gem from former Swiftboater Bud Day:
"You know, we just got through (electing) a politician who can run his mouth at Mach 1, a black one, and now we have a Hispanic who can run his mouth at Mach 1," Day said. "You look at their track records and they're both pretty gritty. Charlie has not got a gritty track record."

Day confirmed he was speaking of Obama and Rubio.

"You've got the black one with the reading thing. He can go as fast as the speed of light and has no idea what he's saying," Day said. "I put Rubio in that same category, except I don't know if he's using one of those readers."

"The black one." Wow.

Just after posting this, saw an excellent take from Adam Serwer on the teleprompter thing:
"The 'teleprompter' jibe has always fascinated me because it's such a clear response to the white anxiety that the president's obvious intelligence provokes in some conservatives. As Day inadvertently reveals above, the teleprompter is a kind of catchall symbol for all the easy breaks minorities get at the expense of whites, which is why it's a favorite trope of people like Rush Limbaugh who inexplicably blame 'affirmative action' for Obama being president. They're so used to exaggerating and mythologizing the effects of affirmative action that they actually believe anyone who isn't white who has achieved a position of prominence actually doesn't deserve to be there, which conversely reassures them that they are in fact superior. It's a bedtime story that rationalizes all nonwhite excellence as the product of easily removable external forces, and its very existence hints at the fragile ego of the person who tells it."

The company we keep on the Death Penalty

From Amnesty International:
"Amnesty International's research shows that countries that still carry out executions are the exception rather than the rule. In addition to China, the worst offending nations were Iran with at least 388 executions, Iraq at least 120, Saudi Arabia at least 69 and the USA with 52."

Great group of countries we lock arms with in our support for capital punishment.

March 29, 2010

Moral clarity

Or the lack thereof.

I am continually stunned by those who would know better defending torture. It is a long rant on this blog, but still true. I was told today by someone who works with a ministry for college kids that torture is difficult to defend, and he would not want to be a part of it himself, but thinks that we have to respond in kind to people who would behead reporters. "Our government has to fight by the same rules to defeat this enemy" is his essential argument.

Missing, and seemingly unknown are the numbers of people tortured by our government who are not known to be KSM or someone of his stature. Some were, as we know, in the wrong place at the wrong time and turned in by a rival leader. Missing is the knowledge that these techniques were first honed in the KGB torture rooms to elicit false confessions for show trials. (In fact he assumes that torture works and is necessary). And of course, missing is the great elephant in the room of defining your morality by those who commit evil acts. As long as we are better than people who behead captives, we are good?

These Christians can condemn the Affordable Care Act with great fanfare, btw, but can only seem to suggest that they would prefer to not actually waterboard the suspected terrorist as that would not be ethical. Here, you do it.

In fact, it seems that for many, the issue of torture is one they have not really thought about. It is outside their moral/ethical framework. They have debated whether gossip is a sin or if taking that pen from work constitutes "theft," and of course can speak firmly about the various types of sexual sins. But asking them if shackling a person to a D-ring in the floor with both hands and feet in a manner that does not allow the person to either lay down or straighten up--to ask them if that is moral or torture? Well, maybe we have to do that because these are really awful people. But I haven't really thought about it that much. They can quote OT passages to condemn homosexuality, but can't really question the corporate raider's morality, because that is "not for me to judge." Torture? Wrong when done by others. Greed? Redefined so to exclude any of us.

If Christian ethics can condone this, is there such a thing as Christian ethics? If it can be set aside this selectively, what is the point?

March 28, 2010

An open letter to conservatives

No, not from me, but a damn good one from Russell King. He notes growing up in a Republican household, but now not even understanding the Republican party. That could be me too. He calls on the party to come back as well, and gives them a list of things that maybe they should avoid. A taste:
"You can't flip out -- and threaten impeachment - when Dems use a parliamentary procedure (deem and pass) that you used repeatedly (more than 35 times in just one session and more than 100 times in all!), that's centuries old and which the courts have supported. Especially when your leaders admit it all.

You can't vote and scream against the stimulus package and then take credit for the good it's done in your own district (happily handing out enormous checks representing money that you voted against, is especially ugly) -- 114 of you (at last count) did just that -- and it's even worse when you secretly beg for more.
I think Krugman said the other day that our country does better with two responsible political parties. We don't have that right now.

Read the letter and click on a few of the links. Yeah, we could put together some links of crazy leftists, but I would wager it would not be as long, and would not have near the encouragement of elected Democratic officials. The Republican party has jumped the shark.

March 27, 2010

Shorter Gingrich: "Democratic process the cause of crazy unhinged idiots"

Just about the best example of the "violence is wrong, but Democrats caused it" out there, this time from former Speaker Newt Gingrich:
"GINGRICH: Just as there was no place for the kind of viciousness against Bush and Cheney, there’s no place for viciousness against Democrats. I would condemn any kind of activity that involves that kind of personal threat. But look, I think there’s something very disingenuous about the Democratic leaders who attacked the tea party movement, who refused to hold town hall meetings, who refused to go back home, who kept the Congress locked up in Washington, and are now shocked that people are angry. I think the Democratic leadership has to take some moral responsibility for having behaved with such arrogance, in such a hostile way, that the American people are deeply upset. So let’s be honest with this. This is a game that they’re playing. People should not engage in personal threats. I’m happy to condemn any effort to engage in personal threats. But I think the Democratic leadership has to take some real responsibility for having run a machine that used corrupt tactics, that bought votes, that bullied people, and as a result has enraged much of the American people. And I think it’d be nice for President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid to take some responsibility over what their actions have done to this country."

And while we are at it, why in the hell does anyone listen to this creep any more? But regardless, I suspect this is a very cynical move on his part. He understands more than most that the media loves to just report the "he said, he said" spin games. This is a way to turn the discussion from "Republicans are egging on the crazies," to "Both sides argue that the other is causing the anger and violence."

No matter that the left wing doesn't, for the most part, engage in violent rhetoric nor make death threats. Not saying there aren't idiots and crazies on the left. But I certainly don't recall death threats toward Republican representatives. Certainly not a "trend" of them.

The Republican party continues to play with fire and blame the Democrats at the same time. How dare we use the democratic process to pass a bill that at least half the country supports? How dare we suggest that 54 votes in the Senate is a majority?

March 26, 2010

Disconnects abound

Had a conversation on an old BSU friend's facebook wall concerning the new HCR. Heard a lot of the same "on our way to socialism" and "unsustainable debt" arguments. As I have noted to LB and others, I think the debt issues are legit, but wonder where these people were when Bush refused to pay for two wars and Medicare Part D, and instead cut taxes. I remember seeing a chart of the current deficit, and the tax cuts and two wars make up a big chunk of our short fall right now.

I mentioned as much on this very Christian facebook wall context, and heard from a woman that the tax cuts had actually "increased revenue" after 9-11. I countered with a Bruce Bartlett column from Forbes. She asked me to read a Heritage Foundation report on healthcare because, "Otherwise, it is very likely that with whatever info (a lot or a little) each person has, they will grasp more firmly to the belief they currently hold."

I love being called an idiot by people who have never met me (little info) and then told to read a right wing site. I said something similar and she said that I had asked her to read a left-leaning site.

So there you go. Forbes is a left leaning site, and a former Jack Kemp staffer and architect of supply-side economics is a liberal.

Anti-Obama Road Rage

Road rage, accident centers on Obama bumper sticker - WKRN, Nashville, Tennessee News, Weather, and Sports |

Hmm. Christian Libertarian on government disability

"Whether Vanderboegh appreciates the irony of a radical libertarian, who demands that a small government leave people alone, getting taxpayer-financed checks from the government not to work, is unclear.

But reading this, I'm reminded of the recent scene in Ohio, in which Tea Party activists berated a man with Parkinson's. A conservative told the ailing man, 'You're looking for a hand-out, you're in the wrong end of town. Nothing for free over here, you have to work for everything you get.' Another conservative, after mocking the man with wadded bills, shouted, 'No more hand-outs!'"

Reminds me of the "keep your government out of my Medicare" nonsense. I really think that the vast bulk of the radical right has never even thought any of this through. And Dick Armey and his corporate backers are playing them for populist anger. I am sure that is good for our Republic.

March 25, 2010

That Harris Poll that sees Republicans believing Obama is a Socialist

Appears to be from bad methodology. Apologies for including it.

Few quick things

A nice post from Steves at Around the Keg on the supposed constitutional question surrounding healthcare. I am enjoying this blog a lot, btw, so you should visit.

And Tomasky has a nice post on the Republican relationship to violence. He points out an obvious truth, that when conservatives say that the left wing violence was the same, they miss that the Democrats hated those people and vice versa:
"It's the Republicans' posture that makes this violence different from violence on the political left in the 1960s. You didn't find Democrats defending the Weather Underground or the Black Panthers or other violent radical tendencies. Those groups hated the Democratic party almost as much as they hated the Republicans – indeed, the proper and more disciplined dialecticians among the radicals hated the Democrats more since they represented capitalism with a smiling face, as it were. The Democrats, after all, were the ones making war in Vietnam. And the Democrats disliked them back."

Contrast that with the Republicans trying to deal with the crazies in their midst.

Cantor: It's The Democrats Who Are Fanning The Flames of Violence (VIDEO) | TPMDC

Not sure how he thinks that, but if someone shot through one of his campaign offices, that is despicable too. No excuse. No evidence at this point that it was political or intentional, but if it was an unhinged liberal then it was wrong. Period.

That said, one key difference is that I am not aware of any Democratic leaders out there making jokes about shooting Republicans or suggesting that we should take violent actions against Republicans. Help me out if I am wrong here.

More on Republican fear mongering

Ezra Klein
- We have something to fear from fear-mongering itself
"But totalitarianism? Death panels? The end of America as we know it? These critiques aren't just wrong in their description of a cautious, compromised reform that uses private insurers and spends only 4 percent of what we spend on health care in an average year. They're shocking in terms of what the speakers believe their colleagues and representatives are willing to do to the American people. Nunes, for instance, has served with Democrats for decades. He might believe them too willing to tax society's most-productive members to fund social benefits. But does he really believe them friends of totalitarianism?"
And that actually makes it worse in my estimation. These Republicans are not so stupid that they actually think this bill is the end of American democracy. They say it knowing it to be false, and knowing that it will incite the worst in their base.

Republican violence--Updated

Striking the Harris poll at the end, as it appears to be a bad poll. The rest of the post still stands.

And I suspect that Steve will disagree with me, but I am so freaking tired of the Republican leadership egging on the crazies. The other day, Steve King told a crowd ""Let’s beat that other side to a pulp! Let’s take them out! Let’s chase them down! There’s going to be a reckoning!" Sarah Palin told her fans to "reload" and used the scope target image over Democrats who voted for healthcare. I think these people are hideously irresponsible--not because they intend this to translate into violence, but because they are egging on people who talk about "coming unarmed, this time."

TPM has a map of actual vandal attacks or threats on Democratic members, including sending pictures of nooses to Stupak and others. Tea Partiers published the address of Virginia Rep Tom Perriello's brother (thought they were publishing the Rep's home, obviously) and "urged others to “drop by” and “express their thanks” for Perriello’s vote in favor of health care reform." They later found a severed gas line at the back of the house. And the list goes on.

How is it that the right does this stuff and we don't talk about terrorism. That is what these acts are. And the Republican leadership encourages this behavior. They pander to people who don't realize they don't actually want violence against their political foe.

This, I would add, is also what you get when supposed leaders refer to Obama and his healthcare as the end of American democracy. Words have meaning, and these kinds of irresponsible words have infected our dialogue with the worst kind of uninformed hatred. It is unbelievable. Disagree with this fucking bill all you want. There are very legitimate complaints about it from a philosophical and economic perspective. But Republicans have chosen to play to the idiots in their base who talk about "armed revolution." Then these same Republicans act shocked when idiots spit on Congressmen, or send them threatening letters and emails. You don't get to act surprised when you urge them on. Sorry.

And I also hold these idiots responsible for the ridiculous views that poll after poll shows from Republicans. Never mind that they support torture in huge numbers, they also believe that Obama is a socialist Muslim. 45% of Republicans think that Obama is a "domestic enemy," and
38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is 'doing many of the things that Hitler did'"

As Bruce Bartlett said when a similar Kos Poll showed this kind of craziness, "between 20% and 50% of the party is either insane or mind-numbingly stupid."

Though I am not completely sure that the Bartlett comment should not still stand. :)

March 24, 2010

Cheering the thugs, continued

I was initially impressed with Republican Randy Neugebauer's followup to his classless "baby killer" comment while Stupak defended the healthcare bill. He expressed "deep regret" and apologized.

Yeah, that didn't last long. Now, we learn that he is fundraising on the incident. As Benen notes, "so much for "'deep regret' and 'inappropriate'":
"It creates a bizarre dynamic -- GOP extremists now have an incentive to be as boorish as possible, in order to receive rewards from a radical base. Why be an obscure back-bencher in a small caucus when you can act like an idiot and become a Republican star?"

I am just remembering the outrage from Republican circles when the Dixie Chicks said they were "embarrassed by Bush." Now we have people openly calling the President a liar, and calling Democrats "baby killers" (even as the bill restricts abortion rights) and then making money off it.

Stay classy, there, GOP.

Republican temper tantrum

I have to say that the passage of this bill has caused more anger and freakout from the right than I expected. Yeah, I expect the crazies in the Tea Party to freak. They thought this was the beginnings of the death chambers, or something. But normal Republicans? Reading Facebook updates and just looking around, I hear Republicans pulling out their hair. This "bill will ruin America," and is "taking us on the road to socialism."

Personally, I was accused of not caring about women with breast cancer (because the public government care would stop covering them if it got too expensive), that this bill was an expression of selfishness, and that I supported it only because I don't have kids and therefore don't give a shit about the future costs.

And no, I am not making any of that up. Christians I used to hang out with are girding their loins (it's a thing) to continue the good fight against....yeah, gearing up for a fight to take away access to healthcare for people who don't have it.

One assured me the issue was just the cost. He couldn't see how we could afford it. I kind of understand that, but in reality really do not. With all due respect to LB and the other thoughtful conservatives who read here, the credibility of the conservative movement on fiscal issues is, well, lacking. Under Bush we put two wars and Medicare Part D on the nation's credit card. Didn't even try to pay for them. What is more, at the same time we cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans. You look at the underlying issues for our current deficit, and the big three are Bush era tax cuts (that appears to be the biggest), our two wars, and the economic downturn. So where were you guys when your party admitted that it was "standard practice not to pay for things".

I remember talking with SOF (as well as on this blog) that once Democrats retook power, conservatives would rediscover several "values" including fiscal conservatism and the right to criticize the President. Sure enough, and with a vengeance, as if the previous 8 years simply did not happen. George Voinovich (in the above piece) defends his Medicare vote because the "economy is in worse shape (now) and Americans are more anxious." Yeah, no connection between those earlier votes and the economic situation, right? And no connection between Republican irresponsibility and the American anxiety? No connection between egging on the crazies and American anxiety about this bill?
"And on Sunday, Rep. Steve King of Iowa went outside the Capitol with a bullhorn and told the protesters, 'Let’s beat that other side to a pulp! Let’s take them out! Let’s chase them down! There’s going to be a reckoning!' You probably didn't hear about that one, because reporters were more interested in the buffoonish birther congressman from Texas who shouted 'Baby-killer!' on the floor of the House. But it's gotten to the point where when one of the people who make our laws tells a group of already frenzied protesters that they should 'beat that other side to a pulp,' it's barely worthy of notice."
Add that to the people waving signs like "we came unarmed--this time," and you can see my point. Republicans encouraging this kind of behavior is truly unbelievable--and almost as egregious as their sudden short term amnesia. After all, they put two wars and prescription drugs on the credit card, cut taxes, and then Obama's healthcare bill (paid for, or at least honestly tried to be paid for) is fiscally irresponsible?

Add to that the blatant misrepresentations about what this bill does, or that supposedly 2/3 of the American people oppose this bill (also told to me yesterday several times even though the actual polling shows that a majority either likes the bill or thinks it didn't go far enough) and you start to get my frustration.

Then, we turn to the Man Who Would have Been President and Nominated a truly Dumb VP Candidate and hear that he is declaring that since the Democrats dared pass a bill with a majority, they can expect absolutely no cooperation for the rest of the year. I am wondering where the cooperation was to begin with, given the party-line "no" on anything Obama wanted. But my party responded:
"For its part, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) office noted in a statement, 'The bottom line is that as millions of Americans are learning about the immediate benefits of health reform, Republicans are throwing a temper tantrum and grinding important Senate business to a halt.'"
That is about right. The churlish and vindictive McCain has had his feelings hurt, and is, along with the rest of the GOP kindergarten class, decided to throw a fit.

Grownup Republicans? You want me to stop dogging your party? Then get in there and take back your party.

March 23, 2010

Biden on HCR--Big F-ing Deal

If you listen to the video, it sounds as if the President says "huh?" and Biden repeats it. Which made me laugh. You can already buy a T-shirt to mark the occasion, but my favorite was this take on Schoolhouse Rock:

I didn't mind this language when Dick Cheney used it. I am wondering how many of his apologists are complaining about their "freaking ears" now. (Simpsons reference).

Our torture regime revisited

And for some reason I trust Jane Mayer more than I do Marc Thiessen.

March 22, 2010

Healthcare passes!

Holy shit. I never thought it would, to be honest. And when Scott Brown won Teddy's old seat, I thought we were sunk. Have to give credit to Obama and to Pelosi and Reed for pushing this through. Is it perfect? Hell no. But it is a damn start. I am reminded that Social Security originally left out most African Americans. We fixed that. We will have to fix parts of this, I am sure. That is the nature of democracy. As I noted to SOF, however, imagine what it would have taken to get a stronger bill. This one barely passed. And it passed with all sorts of Republican misinformation thrown in. There are legitimate concerns about this bill, but Republicans chose to go the "totalitarian" or "socialist" route.

As Adam Serwer notes, our opposition is unhinged:
"the conservatism of today, which sees liberalism as a force to be annihilated and liberals as traitors if it sees them as Americans at all. It expresses itself in apocalyptic rhetoric that teeters on the precipice of endorsing violence as a political tool. Where the Obama liberals of today internalized the conservative critiques of liberalism in the aftermath of their defeats, conservatives concluded in the aftermath of theirs that liberalism has nothing to teach them, even to the point of rejecting the functionally bipartisan civil rights reforms that extended basic rights to all Americans in the 1960s. These are the circumstances of the present. Where conservatives go now, after having portrayed Obama as the second coming of Stalin and health care reform as the beginning of totalitarianism I do not know--particularly since the conservative soul searching of recent years has only led them farther to the right."
I will take this victory for what it is. A good one in the face of a nihilistic right. But in many ways, just the beginning of the work we have to do.

March 21, 2010

Holy shit--healthcare reform?

We shall see what this bill actually accomplishes, but here are a
few things it does immediately.

Pelosi and Obama deserve a lot of credit here. This is historic.

David Frum points out the problems of Republican intransigence

He wonders if they could have made a deal with Obama given the President's desire to do so, but notes that the party made a decision to say no, period. Waterloo | FrumForum:
"There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother? Or – more exactly – with somebody whom your voters have been persuaded to believe wants to murder their grandmother?"

Republicans and race, yet again

The Take: Historic win or not, Democrats could pay a price -
"But former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich said Obama and the Democrats will regret their decision to push for comprehensive reform. Calling the bill 'the most radical social experiment . . . in modern times,' Gingrich said: 'They will have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years' with the enactment of civil rights legislation in the 1960s."

True, Johnson's move pushed the Southern Racists out of the Democratic party toward the Republicans, but surely even Gingrich would admit that those who opposed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were on the wrong side of history, right?


The Tea Party bigotry

Most have heard about the Tea Partiers shouting racial and homophobic epithets at members of congress. I remember conservative friends telling me that Tea Partiers were no more racist than any other groups. Perhaps. But when I see them join together at Town Halls or in Washington, their hatred tends to come out. Protestors held signs threatening violence if the healthcare bill passes, and used the now ubiquitous signs equating Obama with your pick of socialist/Nazi/witch doctor. My conservative friend tells me that these are just people who are frustrated with not being heard.

Yeah, right.

These are people who can't be bothered to address facts--who can say stuff like "keep your government out of my medicare" and can firmly believe that Obama wants to kill old people. These are the people calling Barney Frank a "faggot" and, unless I misunderstand it, threatening Obama's life:
"Standing next to Lewis, emerging from a Democratic caucus meeting with President Obama, Carson said people in the crowd yelled, 'kill the bill and then the N-word' several times, while he and Lewis were exiting the Cannon House office building."


Tomasky suggests that many, if not most of these Tea Partiers are not personally racist, but suggests that the psychology of the mass political movement can create that kind of hatred at a movement level.

And Benen passes on an email from a hill staffer telling their experience yesterday. Tea Partiers acting stupid and littering the grounds of the capitol--all the logical conclusion of 30 years of embracing the hatred of government. How in the hell do people who claim to be the ultimate Patriots justify treating their own democracy this way? This same staffer believes we are witnessing the death of Movement Conservatism.
Conservatism will never die (nor should it) and arguably the Democratic plan is conservative in the little c sense by keeping and enriching all the entrenched players.

But Movement Conservatism is definitely dying. You know the kind that thinks a .07 increase in the Medicare tax for those making over 100k ruins America's competitiveness but double-digit inflation in health care costs doesn't. Or 400Billion in tax cuts and another 300 billion investments in infrastructure is something to rally against rather than a major legislative victory.

Or the Movement Conservatism that blows a gasket because the cost of two wars are accounted for rather than being done off-budget. Or, hell, the Movement Conservatism that objects to PAY-GO legislation.

I wonder if I was watching people's worldviews breakdown before their eyes. And they had nothing left but to name call, spit and litter as a form of futile and immature protest.

Let's hope. It is incredibly hard to see the positive in such unhinged, and uninformed protest. Benen asks about the Republican outrage, but we have been down this road far too many times. The mantra of "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" seems to have clouded the judgement of otherwise moral and ethical Republicans. People who would never shout at anyone in public and who would have no respect for me if I did so--somehow nod along or look away as people shout hatred and bigotry at their elected officials. People who cringe at the history of racism, somehow just turn away from Tea Partiers shouting "kill the "n-word."

Long past time for the Grownups to take the reins of the GOP. Long past. Long past the time for moral and ethical people to retake the party from the Beck and Malkin fans, and restore some kind of rational discussion.

I am still waiting. But I am not holding my breath.

March 20, 2010

And let's not forget who the Republicans represent

And it sure as hell is not the average American.

Senators Plan To Flood Financial Reform Bill With Nearly 400 Amendments

The cost of demonizing taxes

Apropos of Bartlett's discussion of Americans believing they are over-taxed, and as such refusing to pay more taxes, we get this story where Arizona is eliminating Children's Health Insurance Program. Yes, of course, and absolutely. Never raise taxes, lecture me on your dedication to family values and concern for others, and enact a public policy that can be best described as: "I've got mine, fuck off."

There is no contradiction there. None at all.

Right wingers attack 11 year old boy

State of the health care debate: Talk radio attacks an 11-year old | McClatchy:
"Conservative talk show hosts and columnists have ridiculed an 11-year-old Washington state boy's account of his mother's death as a 'sob story' exploited by the White House and congressional Democrats like a 'kiddie shield' to defend their health care legislation.

Marcelas Owens, whose mother got sick, lost her job, lost her health insurance and died, said Thursday he's taking the attacks from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin in stride."
I almost chuckled (as if there is something funny in this story) at the talk show idiots saying that the family should have found a government program to help her. I am reminded that Eric Cantor said something similar last fall--telling someone they should find a government program to help them even as he does what he can to undermine government programs.

I keep waiting for grownup Republicans to distance themselves from the idiot conservatives. But they don't. Saw today that Virginia's legislature passed a resolution praising Pat Robertson on his 80th birthday. Praising him for his compassion. Now Beck, Malkin and Limbaugh do what they always do--scorched earth tactics and the grownups sit on their hands. The ends of defeating Obama are too dear to recognize the awful means.

Tea Party and our tax burden

Bruce Bartlett notes that the Tea Partiers are misinformed on our tax burden. This does not surprise me at all. While, as Bartlett notes, we have had no meaningful tax increase (on Federal income taxes, mind you) since 1993, most conservatives I speak to can only complain about our "high taxes."

I think this speaks more to what seems like bad epistemology. During my recent ski trip, I had an interesting conversation with a meteorologist about responses to climate change. Similar to evolution, he noted, the ideas of a "preponderance of evidence" had been switched on its ear. Now people can look out the window and decide since it is cold here, climate change is bunk. Or look at their dog and their human friends and decide, just because they don't "believe" it, that evolution can't be true. The preponderance of evidence is on the other side, but that doesn't matter. Facts, as it turns out, don't matter.

Likewise, what does it matter that Obama has actually cut most people's taxes if you want to believe that your taxes are going up and up? What do facts have to do with that? We are in the Stephen Colbert territory where he noted that "facts have a well-known liberal bias."

Bartlett also sees this as a problem:
"Whatever the future of the Tea Party movement in American politics, it's a bad idea for so many participants to operate on the basis of false notions about the burden of federal taxation."
The fact that the Republican party encourages this misperception is also troubling. How do you have a decent conversation about governing when half the country simply ignores factual evidence and prefers their own "beliefs?" About everything?

March 18, 2010

More on the Texas troglodytes

TAPPED Archive | The American Prospect

And this reminds me of one of my better zingers during the trip. Another skier was talking about hiking the "high point of Texas" to which I responded that the "high point of Texas" was the sign that said, "Welcome to Oklahoma."



And had a good time skiing. My legs wore out on the second day when we spent the entire afternoon on the double-black mogul runs, but I did ok for not skiing the last two years.

During the drive home, I was reminded again of the perils of small government and tax cuts for everyone. The interstate in Oklahoma was far more pitted than the other states, and in places, was almost like off-road driving. But we should cut taxes for economic health. Right.

Speaking of Oklahoma, I see via Blue Oklahoma that Oklahoma health insurance premiums have risen 40 Percent. This, by the way, as our GOP run state plans to opt out of Obama's healthcare if it passes. A healthcare plan, btw that the CBO believes will cut the deficit. In other words, it is fiscally responsible. But don't let those facts stop the right wingers from bashing it.

I am rather stunned (though I should not be) that so many Americans care nothing for the uninsured or those who lose their healthcare. One of my friends noted today that her health condition makes her uninsurable, and her place of work is unable to provide it anyway. Good times. Hard working and certainly deserving--but in a Republican mindset, healthcare is a privilege. I am seeing more and more of the "I've got mine, so fuck off" philosophy from people who often talk about compassion and their Christian faith. It is jarring. I think it is predicated in a false belief about their own autonomy, to be honest. This emphasis on personal responsibility--reasonable in its own right--has led a lot of conservatives to believe that they deserve their good fortune, but those without are undeserving.

That isn't Christian, mind you, but it is popular.

Speaking of the religious conservatives, Ethics Daily has a great post on the historical revisionism of Texas conservatives. After years of being accused of revisionism myself, I find it funny that people with absolutely no historical training or education are now revising away. That isn't what revisionist history means, btw, at least inside the profession. It doesn't mean to rewrite history to fit your political view. In fact, we should simply label this "non" or "bad" history. It is factually not history when they ignore facts. Revisionist history, in its best sense, is a new interpretation based on the evidence at hand. It isn't simply rewriting the past to fit your own ignorance as conservatives seem to want to do.

Anyway. Back, and as annoyed as ever!

March 12, 2010

Public health and small government

Getting ready for some vacation time, but during an errand run, heard the end of a story on STDs on NPR. Was struck by the realization that I never really hear about how small government conservatives really want to address that? Is that part of their government system? Part they never really think about? Or is their approach to simply tell everyone that personal responsibility rules--therefore you are on your own?

My concerns about small government are many--but one of the things that concerns me the most is what seems like an almost purposeful effort to make those things that connect us disappear. No more shared parks, or shared subsidy of those things that we all use and all benefit from. Everyone on their own.

I don't like the sound of that at all, and fear that is the unintended (at least) impact of reducing government and undermining public and progressive programs. Public health is just one of those components.

Texas Conservatives rewrite History

And there are several points in this article that make me wince. First, a look at the backgrounds of those deciding what Texas kids will learn:
"There are seven members of the conservative bloc on the board, but they are often joined by one of the other three Republicans on crucial votes. There were no historians, sociologists or economists consulted at the meetings, though some members of the conservative bloc held themselves out as experts on certain topics."

I am well aware that many people with credentials are also idiots, but it always amazes me when people with no historical background at all decide that those of us who do are just wrong. I am also amazed when people who admit they know next to nothing about biology are sure evolution is wrong, but in Texas those people get to decide the nature of biological and historical truth.

And just to prove their ignorance, this little bit:
He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.

“Republicans need a little credit for that,” he said. “I think it’s going to surprise some students.”
Well, yes. I keep hearing this from Republicans who seem to be oblivious to the fact that the South was the biggest opponent of Civil Rights--and true, that South was dominated by Democrats--but those Southern Democrats then moved to the Republican party (for the most part). The Republicans who voted, did so from Northern states and were, by today's standards, far too liberal for the Republican party. A party, I might add, that is now dominated by the South.

A little education might have helped that self-identified historical expert with a little context. I know that confuses people like him and Glenn Beck, but people who study these fields their entire adult lives do have something to offer.

But as Jerry Coyne noted in his excellent book on evolution, scholars don't have the same luxury as zealots in declaring they know the absolute truth. Complexity is liberal and biased, and these conservatives will have nothing to do with that.


Rove proud of waterboarding

Republican values at work?

March 11, 2010

Because the market knows better than regulators

FDA says Basic Food Flavors knew plant was contaminated with salmonella -
"The company at the heart of a growing recall of processed foods knew that its plant was contaminated with salmonella but continued to make a flavoring and sell it to foodmakers around the country, according to inspectors at the Food and Drug Administration."

As one of our trolls suggested, I wonder if many Republicans don't believe that we have more regulation than we actually do. I am not sure the FDA could order a recall in this situation, but can only suggest one.

This really isn't rocket science. Lots of corporations make these decisions on a cost/benefit ratio where they weigh the risks of future litigation against the cost of a recall. If they decide it is cheaper to risk our health, they will.

Sex scandals--Republican style

Steve Benen has a list of Republican scandals where the scandalee remains in office, or in the case of John Ensign and David Vitter, remain in good standing in their party. Mark Sanford still remains in office, as does Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons.

But we still hear about John Edwards. I have no problem with dumping on Edwards, mind you. I think cheating on your wife is pretty scummy anyway. Cheating on a cancer stricken wife? Horrible. But if you do so as a Republican, all you have to do is pray for forgiveness, and you end up back on the air as a Republican statesman. Huh, Newt?

As Benen notes:
For decades, Republican candidates at every level have emphasized the GOP's moral superiority on "family values." If you want to protect the "sanctity" of marriage, the argument went, it's incumbent on you to vote Republican. There's a culture war underway, Americans have been told, and Democrats just aren't as reliable on these issues as the GOP.
How the hell do they keep getting away with that?

Ah hell. What am I asking? The nation's morally righteous cheer for torture. Of course they look the other way when their leaders cheat on their wives. Outrage is reserved for liberals.

Paradox of Success

I wonder if this is a thing. I googled it this morning and only found a book on business executives who, according to the paradox, win at work, but lose in life. I understand that and don't disagree, but clearly I am talking about something different. Perhaps I need new words?

It seems to me clear, however, that there is something to this. If you are successful, really successful, then your success will not be recognized. Or something. Perhaps this is why we have spin and PR firms.

Take Y2K. SOF spent God-only-knows how many hours working on that, along with just about every other IT professional. Their success resulted in many people concluding that there was no real problem to begin with. The same thing occurred last spring with the WHO response to the swine flu. Yeah, and some luck in how the virus mutated. A conservative friend told me that our efforts were a massive over-reaction.

I wonder if this is not part of the problem for liberals right now. Their goal, in many cases, is to develop programs that work--that reduce poverty, or improve healthcare, or improve the environment. Many of those programs, due to the political realities and the common failures of humans, will, in fact, fail. But many will work. What happens when those successes result in the assumption that the program itself was not needed, and the problem would have been solved on its own? Those who did the successful program get no credit. Only blame for those programs that don't work.

Conservatives, it seems to me, have an easier standard. They believe that government is inept, and so when they undermine or reduce funding for a program, and it fails--they can say, "see, government is inept." The failure for that program never seems to fall on the conservatives who work (perhaps with genuine belief and principle) to reduce the effectiveness of that program.

How else to explain how Medicare now becomes a "line in the sand" for conservatives who claim that liberals are trying to undermine this program? Or conservatives who look at the last 8 years of underfunding social programs, refusing to pay for wars and regulation, and now, viewing the wreckage, proclaim, "what we need is less government."

March 10, 2010

conservative tax proposals

Mindful of LB's criticism of my last post (and I mean that seriously) let me just say that I disagree completely with Paul Ryan's roadmap for a smaller government and Yglesias points to evidence that suggests it would result in Higher Taxes for 90% of Americans, Less Revenue for the Government.

Not intending to be snide today (cloudy and my mood has darkened as well) but as I mentioned to a friend of mine, I think that most conservative's belief in "smaller government" is based on 90% mythology--that somehow a smaller government and reduced taxes will result in keeping all the things that conservatives like but don't realize are a result of government choices. Somehow, the market will keep rivers free of flames, rain free of acid, and infrastructure free of collapsing bridges.

It is a paradox of success, perhaps, that government programs that have worked to reduce poverty, child labor, industrial accidents, environmental health hazards--are so well accepted that conservatives believe they occurred because of the free market. That is certainly true of the middle class--something that is disappearing before our very eyes under conservative economic policies, but somehow I am supposed to believe that it will rebound once we further reduce taxes and regulations and stop government from intruding in their lives.

This is best exemplified by the aforementioned conservative charge that Obama is trying to impose government healthcare that will reduce Medicare--or by the very Red states who receive more in federal aid than they send in tax money. A friend of mine suggested he could run for office here in Oklahoma pledging to pass legislation requiring states to receive only what they send to the federal budget. He is pretty sure that Oklahoma Republicans would love the idea not realizing that would mean a cut in assistance for roads, or help for the poor or education.

Ugh, Wednesday politics

Watched Jon Stewart interview Marc Thiessen last night. It was a very frustrating interview. Jon did a pretty decent job, but I think let him off the hook in some key places. He did a good job pointing out that Thiessen and Bush believe waterboarding was legal because they gamed the legal definition. He also pointed out the incredibly selective nature of Thiessen's "evidence." But ultimately, I found Thiessen to be an incredible ass. And I am disturbed by the clear conclusion that many people will agree with him.


The healthcare debate continues to make me sad. So many people without good care, and yet so many people willing to flush this bill because it isn't perfect. And those are the Democrats. The Republicans, as we have discussed, have no interest in reform. Well, they do want to make it impossible for you to sue your doctor, though I have heard nothing that will suggest that they care whether you were the victim of malpractice. I think Fred nails it here at slacktivist: Democrats are working on something mostly fact based, and the Republicans simply change the language when it suits them. Just as Betsy McGaughey said that there were death panels in a bill that didn't include anything of the sort, Republicans have decided to say that the bill will force costs up even if the evidence is to the contrary. And, just as they did with torture, they simply rename stuff. If people object to torture, they change it to "enhanced interrogation" (which, sorry for the Godwin's law reference, so did the Nazis). Here, they call reconciliation--a tactic they used numerous times on very big legislation--the "nuclear option," and suggest that passing a bill by Senate rules and even a (gasp) majority vote is "ramming healthcare down our throats."

Incredibly hard to respect. But I was probably more disturbed by a friend of mine, a woman I do yoga with, who objected to my Facebook post on domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. She said she had experienced domestic abuse and didn't think that earned her any special treatment. Like not being excluded from healthcare, I guess.

I am not sure what to do in the face of that kind of approach. I also read that Republicans routinely refer to Obama as a "socialist" and his policies as "socialist," all while saying that his new "socialist" plan will end up cutting Medicare. Which, of course, is more "socialist" than anything in the President's plan.

It is enough to make you scream.


One bit of good news from here in Oklahoma. So little good ever comes from the mouths of Tom Coburn or his idiot partner Inhofe, but SOF just called to tell me that Coburn had agreed to release his hold on the Uganda assistance bill. You know, the one that would try to aid those threatened by the Lord's Resistance Army and its war criminal leader. The one that allowed more people to die needlessly so Coburn could make his claim as pork buster. Because, of course, nothing works like a budgetary example like holding up aid for people getting raped and murdered.

But I digress. The real good news here is that a very peaceful 11 day protest worked. As many as 75 people slept outside the Chase building, and this protest included people from other states.

Good for them. Makes me less likely to scream today.

March 8, 2010

Steve Benen explains reconciliation to Hatch

The Washington Monthly:
"Let me try to explain this in a way even Hatch can understand.

1. Democrats aren't trying to pass health care legislation using the Senate's reconciliation rules. Reconciliation would be used for a budget fix, which is why reconciliation exists.

2. 'Sweeping' social legislation has already passed on 'a totally partisan vote.' If Democrats 'get their way'? Democrats already got their way -- health care reform passed the Senate on a 60-to-39 vote in December, with zero GOP votes. Hatch was there; he should probably remember. It was 'a totally partisan vote' because Republicans refused to negotiate in good faith, and rejected ideas they claimed to support.

3. Hatch supported reconciliation many times, on legislation large and small, including bills related to health care. His incessant whining on the subject is disingenuous and demonstrably false.

Hatch isn't some rookie; he's been in the Senate nearly as long as I've been alive. And yet, he can't seem to bring himself to even try to tell the truth about the basics, a habit that seems to get him more appearances on national television, instead of fewer.

The mind reels."

Monday morning and why does anyone listen to Tom Delay?--updated

Tom Delay: People Are Unemployed Because They Want To Be:
"Crowley: People are unemployed because they want to be?

Delay: well, it is the truth. and people in the real world know it. And they have friends and they know it. Sure, we ought to be helping people that are unemployed find a job, but we also have budget considerations that are incredibly important, especially now that Obama is spending monies that we don't have."

Let's keep in mind that Republicans are not fiscally conservative, especially when they are in charge and we can remember that this man has no credibility on any of this. Why in the hell is the supposedly "liberal" media giving him more and more access? It isn't just Delay. Gingrich is on just about every news outlet, and I continue to wonder why? Why does anyone listen to this man?

And speaking of that, I continue to wonder why anyone really takes Mitt Romney seriously either (Mitt Romney: Obama Health Care Plan NOT Like Massachusetts Plan). Again, I realize that the media can only label Democrats as flip-floppers, but give me a break. Between Romney's tortured logic against national healthcare, all Republicans switch on Medicare, and every Republican in the Senate's switch on fiscal responsibility--I need a damn chart to follow these changes. And not just minor changes--complete reversals.

And speaking of THAT, why do so many strident opponents of gay marriage or gay rights get caught in situations like this?


Via Steve Benen, this Krugman column:
"Take the question of helping the unemployed in the middle of a deep slump. What Democrats believe is what textbook economics says: that when the economy is deeply depressed, extending unemployment benefits not only helps those in need, it also reduces unemployment. That’s because the economy’s problem right now is lack of sufficient demand, and cash-strapped unemployed workers are likely to spend their benefits. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office says that aid to the unemployed is one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus, as measured by jobs created per dollar of outlay."
Krugman suggests, and I agree, that Democrats and Republicans live in completely different moral and economic worlds. Republicans seem to be far more concerned about protecting the interests of the wealthy--to the point of opposing assistance for working families, or foreign aid.
During the debate over unemployment benefits, Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat of Oregon, made a plea for action on behalf of those in need. In response, Mr. Bunning blurted out an expletive. That was undignified — but not that different, in substance, from the position of leading Republicans.

Consider, in particular, the position that Mr. Kyl has taken on a proposed bill that would extend unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies for the jobless for the rest of the year. Republicans will block that bill, said Mr. Kyl, unless they get a “path forward fairly soon” on the estate tax.

March 7, 2010


Great chart on its use since 1980. Take a look at the uses and the times that the use has added to the deficit and who was in charge. Very interesting.

Why we need healthcare now

via Benen, this story on insurance companies as investment vehicles:
"The Goldman Sachs analysis shows that while insurers can be aggressive in raising prices, they also walk away from clients because competition in the industry is so weak, the White House said. And officials will point to a finding that rate increases ran as high as 50 percent, with most in 'the low- to mid-teens' -- far higher than overall inflation.

The analysis could be a powerful weapon for the White House because it offers evidence that an overhaul of the health care system is needed not only to help cover the millions of uninsured but to prevent soaring health care expenses from undermining the coverage that the majority of Americans already have through employers.

Benen added:
As a friend of mine noted the other day, 'Those who oppose health care reform because they like their coverage have it backwards.'"
This has always been my main argument. Most people seem to think that their insurance is better than it actually is. Every indicator I see has rates climbing dramatically with no end in site, and if they can do that and even lose customers and still make money--why would they do anything different?

March 5, 2010

The man who would have been President--redux

Steve Benen notes the latest flip-flop from former GOP frontrunner, John McCain. Yeah, I know, flip-flopping is something you call a Democrat, just as you only question the loyalty of Democrats when they criticize the President during wartime. Here, McCain has introduced a bill to ban the use of reconciliation for Medicare, because it is "too important."
First, in recent years, McCain has voted for nine separate piece of legislation through the reconciliation process -- four of them included cuts to Medicare. He is, in other words, pushing a new measure to prevent a step he's already taken several times.

Second, it's hard to take seriously the notion that McCain is worried about cuts to Medicare just two years after he ran for president on a platform that included steep cuts to Medicare.

And third, McCain claims to believe that "entitlement reform" must be a top priority for policymakers, but he's now pushing a foolish amendment that would make "entitlement reform" almost impossible.
And speaking of Republicans accusing Democrats of disloyalty, Glenn Greenwald notes how our media covers the Liz Cheney/Bill Kristol smear machine:
The full-scale collapse: From Murrow to Blitzer - Glenn Greenwald - "Blitzer first teased the segment as this on-screen logo appeared, taken directly from the Cheney/Kristol ad: "HAPPENING NOW: DEPT. OF JIHAD?"

The next time he teased the story, CNN flashed this logo -- "Al Qaeda 7?" -- also taken directly from the Cheney/Kristol ad, as Blitzer explained that numerous Justice Department lawyers have been -- as he put it -- "accused of disloyalty" by a national security organization headed by Liz Cheney. The final Blitzer tease came as these words were flashed on the screen: "Are Justice Dept. lawyers disloyal?"

The story itself began when Blitzer posed this question: "Should there be a loyalty test over at the Justice Department?" He then introduced CNN Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve, who -- echoing Liz Cheney -- introduced her segment by asking about the Obama DOJ: "Should it really be called the Department of Jihad"?"
These slime balls are accusing the Obama people of serving the interests of terrorists on purpose, and our media covers that "side" as just another "point of view."

This is how demonstrably false allegations against John Kerry became the truth. This is how absolute lying scumbags like Liz Cheney are on television every damn day. This is how democracy dies.

Oh good god! Senator Doctor Coburn strikes again

So I read this morning that my own senator (Tom Coburn, MD) has placed a hold on money that would go to help end a brutal war in Africa led by indicted war criminal Joseph Kony.
"During these three months of Dr. Coburn's hold, Kony's forces have gone on to attack, murder, and abduct innocent civilians across South Sudan, the DR Congo, and Central African Republic."

So I called the Senator's office and spoke with a nice young woman who explained that, yes, "Dr" Coburn has a hold on the LRA legislation, but she assured me he supports the legislation. He simply wants the sponsor (Feingold, evidently) to agree to cut spending in other areas, and that isn't happening.

I asked, as nicely as I could, "The Senator (I won't call him Dr.) knows that people are dying, right? " She said yes, but he supports the legislation. I pointed out that this was abhorrent (assured her that I knew she was just doing her job) and asked that she pass on to MY FUCKING SENATOR THAT FUSSING OVER SPENDING WHILE BLACK PEOPLE DIE IN AFRICA IS IMMORAL.

Though I most likely did not say it quite that way. I am so embarrassed by my representation.


I read this morning that blogger Jon Swift has died. His real name was Al Weisel and he was, as many in the blogosphere noted, the guy who did Colbert before Colbert. He died far too young at 46. I had no idea he was as well known as he obviously was--because I had some contact with him over the years. He found my little blog and wanted me to link to his "reasonable conservative" satire. He even nominated Streak's blog for an award one year. We didn't win, but the thought was so damn nice. Over the years, I read his blog and enjoyed his unique wit as you can see here. Reading through those reminds me of just how good he was.

He will be missed.

March 4, 2010

In a funk today

So it was the wrong time for Toyota to robo-call me with a suggestion that I take my 2007 Matrix in for service after, as the robo-call itself noted, I had just brought it in for service last November.

So I called them and told them that this seemed like a clear case of trying to drum up business by harassing me. As I explained to the nice gentleman trying to calm me down, I know Toyota is going through a tough time, but robo-calling me is not a good way to keep the customers they have.

I agree. We should overturn US v. Cruikshank

I lecture about this case and the underlying Colfax Riot every year. Not one of our best moments, and if this Court were interested in overturning a ruling, this would be a good one to dump.

The New McCarthyism

The New McCarthyism | The American Prospect
"Terrorist sympathizers," wrote National Review's Andrew McCarthy in September, "have assumed positions throughout the Obama administration."
I am just going to start referring to this kind of shit as under the category of "Republican privilege." No matter the ridiculous nature of the charges, conservatives always feel the option of questioning a liberal or democrat's patriotism and loyalty. It actually never dawns on them to question the loyalty of someone like Scooter Libby or Dick Cheney because, after all, "extremism in the defense of liberty (or pretense of liberty) is no vice."

On credibility (or the lack thereof)

Steve Benen points out the disconnect between Republican leadership under Bush and now. Hatch, evidently, admitted that six years ago "it was standard practice not to pay for things."
Then consider that the very same GOP lawmakers who believed it was standard practice not to pay for things are now outraged that Democrats -- who aren't relying on deficit spending to finance their agenda -- aren't acting quickly enough to clean up the budget mess Republicans left for them.

Key point, of course, is that the Democrats are seeking to actually pay for what they do, but that is not enough.

March 3, 2010

I guess this makes me a socialist

But I like programs like this and am willing to pay the necessary taxes.

Dammit, we are not passing Healthcare legislation via reconciliation

I even heard that on NPR this morning. I wish our reporters would bother to do more than take their cues from Orrin Hatch on procedural rules. For the last time, we are not passing major legislation via reconciliation. The healthcare bill already passed both houses. It was even in the news. For this to work, the house would have to pass the Senate bill as is, and then they use reconciliation to iron out some of the budgetary issues--things like making sure the subsidy for lower wage people is adequate (one of the problems in Mass).

To hear Republicans talk about it, the Democrats will somehow ruin democracy by daring to actually pass anything with only 51 votes in the Senate, and Senate Republicans (and the media) seem to have completely forgotten that they have used this tactic themselves--including to pass Bush's tax cuts.


March 2, 2010

Some odds and ends

Good post on why Republican tort reform is a bad idea:
"Nevertheless, lawsuits are an extremely inefficient backstop against abuse, whether in medicine or any other area of our national life. Which brings us to the political context of this debate. For years, the GOP strategy has been to get people coming and going -- on the one hand, Republicans fight against the regulations that can prevent abuses from happening; on the other hand, they work to strip courts of their ability to punish those abuses when they occur."

And shame on the Republican Neo-cons who are trying to play Red Scare v. 2.0 with lawyers who represented Gitmo detainees. Great quote from someone who prosecuted under Cheney:
“It is absolutely outrageous for the Cheney-Grassley crowd to try to tar and feather Neal and Jennifer and insinuate they are al-Qaeda supporters. You don’t hear anyone refer to John Adams as a turncoat for representing the Brits in the Boston Massacre trial.”

Just to add to the conversation about taxes

Threats Against IRS Employees On The Rise, Increased 21 Percent From 2008 To 2009

The Republican response to the Austin IRS attack was unnerving. Reminded me of the violent attacks on judges and Republicans making comments like, "that is what happens when you have judicial activism."

The perils of privatization

I could not agree more with Roger Ebert on this issue. I am so tired of the mantra that private capitalism is always superior to public or government services. In some areas, yes, and with little doubt. But for people who romanticize the 1950s, conservatives seem to have completely forgotten about the idea of community. Somehow they can lament the loss of the front porch swing, but cheer the privatization of just about every public service. And as Ebert notes in his essay, it is very hard to see how it ends up saving anyone money.

"I heard about Tracy, California, which is charging $300 every time the fire department answers an emergency call that doesn't involve a fire.

That summons up not only the prospect of little Susie's kitten being left to die up in the tree, but also of her dad who has just collapsed with an asthma attack. One citizen said if her husband had a heart attack, she'd set her kitchen table on fire to dodge the fee.

To be sure, you can buy an annual package deal for $48, which makes sense if you average more than one emergency call every six years. I'm not sure if that's $48 for one non-fire call, or if you get unlimited calling. Tracy (population 81,714) is not the only town considering charging for emergency services. So is Los Angeles.

Of course, the extra fee will be paid by your insurance company, right? Not a chance. Poor folks may have to look twice at a family member writhing on the floor and ask, 'Are you really $300 worth of sick?' That's why we all consider it more or less our right to pick up the phone and dial 911. Of course since the whole community shares the cost of the emergency call, that's socialism, right?"

Today is election day here in Norman. One of the idiots running for city council dropped off a door knocker the other day. It proclaimed loudly the conservative mantra that "a recession is the wrong time to raise taxes."

That would make sense, except for these conservatives, there is never a good time to raise taxes, just as there is never a wrong time to cut taxes. No matter if you can't pay for workers in your prison system (as you harumph about "tough on crime"). No matter if we have to furlough state employees, or even teachers.

Republicans have pulled off a tremendous victory in the word game. They have managed to badmouth government completely, and convince the average citizen that all taxes are bad. Those same conservatives, of course, really just dislike government services they don't use and believe those services are socialism.

It is hard to imagine how that belief has made us a better people, nor made us more prosperous or healthy. Well, to be fair, it has made a small segment of the society incredibly wealthy.

As I keep saying, conservatives seem to think that the middle class of the 1950s arose because of some magical free market beliefs. And they seem intent on destroying that same middle class.