April 30, 2010

The GOP and Immigration and taxes

Just as an aside, nothing brings in the stupid trolls to this blog like speaking of taxes. So we should expect ridiculous and ignorant trolls to leave stupid troll-like comments here after today's post.

One of the things that everyone is seeing around them is the continual economic threat to states and local governments. Here in Oklahoma, as we talk about militias and pass legislation mandating a forcible medical rape of a woman and protection for doctors to lie about the health of a fetus--we are also hearing about cuts for schools and public safety. We can waste money on legislation that is A) destructive, and B) unlikely to pass muster in the courts even though it will cost us to litigate--but cannot pay for teachers or prison workers.

And of course, because this is a Republican state, it is impossible to raise income taxes. For Republicans, that is the same as being Muslim, Gay, or burning a flag while you have gay sex with an American flag. So we won't raise taxes. But we will raise fees. The license renewal fee might well go up from $21 to closer to $30. Of course that is fine with me, in that I can afford that. But it is proof that we don't actually cut taxes as much as we shift the burden away from the wealthy to those who find that $9 noteworthy.

There is your Republican family values. Screw women over, and then screw over the poor and working class.


I truly think that the Republican party is in a serious free fall, however. This closing of the conservative mind, might, as some have said, just be part of the cyclical pattern of both parties. After all, the Democrats floundered during the 1980s to find a legitimate candidate and message, but have more to offer now. Republicans found their movement conservatism in the 1960s with Goldwater and others, and that movement has run its course.

But I think there is something else afoot here, and this discussion over demographics is key. Anglican and I had a nice conversation over lunch about the racist components of the Tea Party. We both agreed that Hillary might have produced a similar level of hatred, but it is hard to dismiss the overall anger of older white males who seem to be pissed off that they are no longer in charge.

As a result, they seem to be doubling down on their conservative base. Duncan Hunter talks about revising the 14th Amendment to disallow those born of immigrants to be citizens, and that idiot in Iowa wants to micro-chip immigrants for tracking. Arizona, of course, has taken a pretty radical step--not necessarily in what it does to the illegal immigrants, but what it does to the legal immigrants and legal citizens who happen to be Hispanic.

The short term for Republicans looks ok. They have a real chance to pick up major seats in the upcoming mid-term election. Who knows what will happen in 2012. That is a long way out--and many, many, many things can happen before then. But there is a longer term trend that is easier to see, and it bodes poorly for a political party that seems hell-bent on alienating anyone not white, and that is the demographic shift. As Ronald Brownstein notes:
But the hardening GOP position also shows how the party is being tugged toward nativism as its coalition grows more monochromatic: In a nation that is more than one-third minority, nearly 90 percent of McCain's votes in the 2008 presidential election came from whites. That exclusionary posture could expose the GOP to long-term political danger. Although Hispanics are now one-sixth of the U.S. population, they constitute one-fifth of all 10-year-olds and one-fourth of 1-year-olds.

It is also pretty easy to connect this overall trend to that older white anger, and connect it to their rather pathetic call to "get my country back."

April 29, 2010

'Oklahoma, what have you done?' - CNN.com

'Oklahoma, what have you done?' - CNN.com: "Under this new law, a doctor may withhold information, mislead or even blatantly lie to a pregnant woman and her partner about the health of their baby if the doctor so much as thinks that fetal test results would cause a woman to consider abortion.
As expected, the anti-abortion movement is claiming victory. But this bill isn't 'anti-abortion.' It is devastating because it is anti-motherhood and anti-medicine."
Ten bucks says that Ken Blackwell supports this Oklahoma abortion law, but 20 says that neither he nor any other tea bagger can spot the inconsistency between wanting a less intrusive government and one that actually encourages doctors to lie to pregnant women about the health of their child.

Jon Stewart was right on point last night when he suggested that Blackwell and his fellow idiots only hate government in the hands of Democrats. A Republican law that forces a vaginal probe in a pregnant woman and allows doctors to withhold information about their pregnancy is big government at an level of Orwellian nightmares.

More and the false "both sides do it" argument

I am not sure this is conclusive evidence of any kind, but it certainly is interesting that Snopes has far more false and negative rumors about Obama already than occurred during Bush's entire term:
"After eight years in the White House (with Snopes.com around all that time), George W. Bush has been the subject of 47 internet rumors. After less than two years in office, Barack Obama has been the subject of 87, or nearly twice as many.

Even more telling is the relative accuracy of those stories. For Bush, 20 rumors, or 43%, are true. Only 17, or 36%, are false. The remainder are of mixed veracity (4), undetermined (4), or unclassifiable (2).

In contrast, for Obama only 8 of the 87 rumors, or 9%, are true, and a whopping 59, or 68%, are whoppers. There are 17 of mixed veracity and 3 undetermined."
The fact that so many of those false rumors are so denigrating AND are passed like candy among the religious right makes me sad. Very sad.

Oh my god Ken Blackwell is the dumbest person I have ever seen on television.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Official Website | Current Events & Pop Culture, Comedy & Fake News

Dumb. Dumb. Fucking unbelievably dumb. Not smart and not even close to smart.


In search of sharks, candidate (GOP, of course) wants to microchip illegal immigrants

Chip'em, Danno | Talking Points Memo

Though this might explain why some Republicans are up in arms about micro-chipping. It is something they want to do to others, and are fearful that someone might try to use the fictional technology on themselves. Maybe all that concern about the microchipping was merely a case of projection?

Oklahoma's militia and saving capitalism

Count this as a thursday morning exhaustion post.

But read this marvelous rant (and you know I love a good rant) last night and had to share. Here, Kos diarist Hunter has a great diatribe against the Tea Party/Militia building/afraid of socialism crowd.
"I'd have a lot more respect (well, not really, since I have none to begin with) for these teabaggers and their constant edging towards secession or civil war or whatnot if even a single damn one of them could clearly elucidate what this Big Scary New Anti-States'-Rights Thing is, exactly, that is supposedly so threatening to the stability of the republic that may require armed conflict to prevent. At the very beginning it was an armed defense of slavery. Fifty years ago or so it required calling out the troops because the Feds were proposing that you had to treat black people like people. Now we've got a black president and Oh Mah Gawd, it's once again time for some gun-toting state militia types to protect us from the big, mean possibly-Muslim-possibly-Kenyan-possibly-Hitlerian-socialist-marxist-communist-vegetarian-too-well-d ressed black guy."
And this:
And yes, if you're talking about forming an armed militia to wave guns around to protect your state's "sovereignty" against the scary gubbermint, you're officially an idiot. At best.
Heh. Exactly. Hunter also notes the idiocy of those who were convinced that an Obama presidency meant an end to access to guns and ammo, and so started hoarding ammunition and buying it in bulk. I know someone like that. Someone who is actually far too smart to be pulled in by that nonsense.


And then there is the current financial regulation issue. I know that a lot of Republicans want some regulation of Wall Street, but I am struck by how many conservatives still defend the deregulation of same. I was thinking of that when considering the attack on the Second Bank of the US under Jackson and the assumption that these unregulated local banks would lead to prosperity. For some, it did, and for a short time. But a lack of regulation leads to chaos and destruction in the market. We learned that in the Great Depression, but then unlearned it in the 1980s. Perhaps we can get it back and remember that like Roosevelt, we can save capitalism from its worst aspects. As E.J. Dionne notes, those who want to save capitalism might want to regulate it.

April 28, 2010

Shark Jumping

Or something. Give me a break, I am wiped.

But when I read of the GOP passing a stupid law in Arizona on immigrants, passing another one that endorses the birther paranoia, then turn to my own state of Oklahoma to see them pass one of the worst abortion laws I have ever seen--one that forces a woman seeking an abortion (no exception for rape or incest, mind you) to undergo an invasive probe and one of our Republican candidates for governor endorses the whole "militia to protect us from the feds" idea"--well, it is hard to believe that the GOP has any rational people even left.

That isn't helped when I see stories like this where Senator Bob Bennett of Utah will most likely lose his seat all because he dared to work with Democrats. The GOP has jumped the shark and appears to be looking for more sharks. And the grownup Republicans sit on their hands.

April 24, 2010


Oklahoma is not helping our national image and worse is passing bad legislation.

"Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black"

A pretty good little intellectual exercise.
Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic?
I think we know how that would be viewed.

April 23, 2010

The conservative mind

A good discussion and an earnest snark-free one going on out there in the blog world about what happened to the conservative mind. How did conservatives go from William F. Buckley to Sarah Palin? How did they go from thoughtful and intellectual discourse to death panels and discussions comparing Obama's ACA to Hitler's Gestapo? A particularly good essay on this subject is this one from Noah Millman.

I am not sure who closed it, but I am quite convinced it is closed or closing. When serious conservatives around me defend the Tea Party as a legitimate voice that needs to be heard, I know that there is something seriously wrong. The Tea Party, which the Times poll showed this last week, is anti-government and wants government out of their lives, except for Medicare and Social Security which they want left alone. As I told a conservative friend this week, they aren't anti-government services, they just resent those government services going to, you know, other people. Given that the same poll said this group believes that government is spending far too much time on the needs of black people, you don't have to look to far to identify the "others."

Don't ask me to respect such rhetoric.

But back to the conservative mind, I do see a few examples of why it is closing. Millman talked about the trend of exiling dissenters, and you only have to check in with the NRO to see it in action. Jim Manzi, who I had not read, but who is respected as a conservative critic of climate change legislation, turned his criticism against Mark Levin, and found himself in deep trouble with the right wingers. Most interesting to me was the fact that many of Levin's supporters decided that Manzi was a liberal or even a Marxist. This reminds me of how Andrew Sullivan and Bruce Bartlett immediately ceased being conservative when they dissented from Bush's policies.

And of course, we cannot talk about the closing of the conservative mind without considering my old friends in the conservative evangelical movement. I found this ABC report video quite interesting. Turns out a prominent conservative evangelical admitted that evolution could no longer be denied. I think his line was something like, "if we ignore facts in front of us, we become a cult."

I will leave it to you to imagine the response. The conservative mind hasn't always been closed. But it is pretty well shut right now to anything that doesn't fit their version of the world. Facts, as Colbert noted, have a well-known liberal bias.

I have to admit a bit of schadenfreude when I observe this from conservatives. As a Democrat who would prefer to win more elections than we lose, I should like this. A closed Republican mind bodes well for that Democratic electoral outlook. But it bodes extremely poorly for the country as a whole. It is hard for me, by the way, to imagine any candidate the GOP could put forward who would concede the science on climate change, or the mountain of evidence behind evolution. I find it hard to imagine a GOP candidate who would dare raise taxes even as the deficit soars, and state budgets implode, or who would dare to teach birth control.

All of those are bad for our national mind. I would prefer a real opposition party with intellectual legitimacy.

April 19, 2010

Oklahoma City and right wing hatred--15 years ago

I remember the day all too well, as I am sure many of you do. I went into the history office and heard from someone that there had been an explosion downtown at the federal building. I wasn't immediately worried about SOF because I mistakenly thought that the federal building was near the capital. When I learned it was only a few blocks away from where she worked, I was worried. And then, of course, I learned how bad the explosion really was.

We looked into the face of hatred that day, and found out that this particular brand of it was one of our own. He didn't just appear out of the ether, mind you, he was created out of a few small legitimate resentments packaged with a whole host of irrational and coaxed hatred. Just like now, talk radio fed the hatred and gave those already feeling displaced a target for their anger. No, it wasn't new, it was just more emotional and more widespread.

This morning, remembering that smoking crater that was the Murrah building, I open the newsreader only to see that the Militia movement will be packing heat at rally on the Potomac:
"Almond plans to have his pistol loaded and openly carried, his rifle unloaded and slung to the rear, a bandoleer of magazines containing ammunition draped over his polo-shirted shoulder. The Atlanta area real estate agent organized the rally because he is upset about health-care reform, climate control, bank bailouts, drug laws and what he sees as President Obama's insistence on and the Democratic Congress's capitulation to a 'totalitarian socialism' that tramples individual rights."
Of course, Obama signed the law that makes carrying that gun into the park legal, and these idiots seem to forget that Bush did more to intrude on their individual liberties than anything Obama has even suggested, and these assholes cheered for Bush and company.

This morning, I am remembering conversations with distant family members who said that Obama was a socialist radical, or any of them who continue to say that he hates America or wants our economy to fail (McCain) or that he is purposefully undermining our national security. Or those, like Rush and Beck who accuse him of open racism. Or those like Palin who cheered crowds to see Obama as a supporter of terrorism.

I understand the motivations for Rush and Beck. It is simply, and cynically money and fame. But I really wonder about the supposedly mature and rational and Christian who give credence to the crazy by suggesting that they are right to fear Obama. Their motivation is less clear to me. They know better. And yet, they send that signal to those who are not quite all together, that their fear of government is reasonable--that their hatred of Obama is understandable.

You know the right is unhinged when even Kathleen Parker fears their rhetoric and suggests that grownup Republicans and rational people everywhere need to shout them down.
The only palatable answer is what conservatives say they love best: self-control and personal responsibility. When someone spews obscenities, shout them down. When politicians and pundits use inflammatory language, condemn them.

When you choose to remain silent, consider yourself complicit in whatever transpires.

Benen notes the problem of the silent Republican standing by while Republican members of Congress cheer on the mob:
The Washington Monthly: "In some ways, the silence troubles me nearly as much as the extremism itself. I want desperately to hear Republican Party officials and leaders make clear that they find overheated madness to be offensive and wrong.

But they don't, because they can't -- Republicans are counting on rage to win elections and fill their campaign coffers. So the party makes Palin becomes a hero, it puts Bachmann in front of the cameras, it sweeps Steve King's sympathies towards domestic terrorism under the rug, it tolerates GOP leaders equating the party with the Taliban, and it decides it can try to lower the temperature at some later date, perhaps after the midterms."

To be absolutely clear, there is no guarantee against crazy people taking up arms or explosives. None. But only fools look at this heightened environment and urge their followers to "reload." Only idiots tell angry crowds that they should beat their opponents to a pulp.

The conservative grownups among us can no longer be silent.

April 18, 2010

Rachel Maddow takes on Tom Coburn's faux principle

To be fair, she stretches one point when she accuses Coburn of telling the American people to pray that a fellow Senator would die rather than make the healthcare vote, but he did, in fact, suggest they pray that someone not be able to make the vote. It certainly wasn't very Christian to do, and he should be held accountable for that. For the rest, I think Rachel does a nice job of addressing my Senator's hypocrisy with regard to the John Ensign scandal (which is still amazingly basically not covered by the national media) and his willingness to vote for lots of unpaid for expenditures, but not for unemployment benefits or aid to fight genocide.

Gee, the Republicans want to start over

This time on banking reform. Not that we haven't seen this before, of course. Benen has this synopsis:
"'Republicans can't support the reasonable legislation Democrats want because it has a provision we're pretending not to like.'

'Fine, we'll get rid of the provision.'

'Republicans still can't support the legislation, and we don't want to tell you why.'"
That, of course, passes for bipartisanship in the Republican party. Reminds me of someone on Facebook who put the healthcare debate something like this:
Republicans: this is too liberal, take out half the proposals.

Democrats: done

Republicans: still too liberal, take out half the proposals.

Democrats: done

Republicans: still too liberal.......

I would appreciate being able to take the Republican party seriously. I really would. But I see nothing of substance.

April 16, 2010

Americans and taxes

Love this Teddy Roosevelt rant on the pampered rich person. Via slacktivist and simply too good to pass up:
Too much cannot be said against the men of wealth who sacrifice everything to getting wealth. There is not in the world a more ignoble character than the mere money-getting American, insensible to every duty, regardless of every principle, bent only on amassing a fortune, and putting his fortune only to the basest uses —whether these uses be to speculate in stocks and wreck railroads himself, or to allow his son to lead a life of foolish and expensive idleness and gross debauchery, or to purchase some scoundrel of high social position, foreign or native, for his daughter. Such a man is only the more dangerous if he occasionally does some deed like founding a college or endowing a church, which makes those good people who are also foolish forget his real iniquity. These men are equally careless of the working men, whom they oppress, and of the State, whose existence they imperil. There are not very many of them, but there is a very great number of men who approach more or less closely to the type, and, just in so far as they do so approach, they are curses to the country.
Fred adds his own two bits at the end, and I have to agree with him:
But note that nearly every phrase and sentence stakes out a position squarely opposite to that of the Republican Party of 2010, which has become the flagship of the ignoble, mere money-getting, insensible to duty, regardless of principle, bent-on-fortune, stock-speculating, railroad-wrecking, heir-debauching, iniquitous, careless, oppressive, nation-imperiling curses to the country.
Listening to the Tea Party "anger," I am struck by how many people who claim to be so damn angry about the country today, posit a position of "I got mine, you can fuck off." The American dream is a powerful myth, but of late, it seems to be one with an expiration date. "Sure, we invested in society and in people before, and allowed the creation of the largest middle class in history. We subsidized higher education and home ownership, and invested in infrastructure that spawned billions in private wealth. I benefitted from all of that. But having benefitted from that investment, and having become very comfortable, I will fight tooth and nail any single tax increase (even as middle class (income) taxes continue to be lower than anytime in recent history) and will instead claim that I am over-taxed. I will additionally claim that my taxes are wasted and really mean that those funds are going to unworthy types. Sure, I was helped, but I will not help this generation one bit."


April 15, 2010

Interesting Forbes blog on changes in tax rates

Tycoon Tax Bite Down By Two-Thirds Since 1955 - Forbes.com:
"In 1776 the United States became perhaps the only country ever to be founded after a revolution based largely on the explicit issue of tax rates. More than two centuries later the issue still resonates loudly, and not just among right-wing Tea Party activists.

Wealth for the Common Good, a group of left-wing trust fund babies and other wealthy individuals pushing for higher taxes on the rich, released a report Tuesday saying that from 1955 to 2007, the tax rate paid by the 400 highest-income earners fell by two-thirds. Meanwhile the tax burden on the middle class, WCG said, rose by about 1%."

April 13, 2010

Tribalism and our current political debate

I read this reminded of a conversation at Around the Keg concerning a book on the origins of "evil" that magically finds the source in liberals like me. I asked the group why so many people see Obama as some evil and horrible President. I understand, after all, disagreeing over his policies, but what possess people to say that he wants to undermine our national defense on purpose? Or wants to destroy our economy on purpose? Hell, as much as I disliked Bush, I never really assumed that he was this incompetent on purpose.

Anyway, here is an interesting take on this kind of opposition:
"Yet if there is a common strain running through the unusually vituperative debates of the Obama presidency, it's that the opposition becomes intensely tribal in short order. We could be talking about health care, economic policy, or a Supreme Court nomination, and before long, conservatives will be arguing not just that the administration and its supporters are wrong but that they are the Other -- an alien group with whom there can be no compromise."

Because I am cranky and my back hurts this morning, I wonder why morons keep talking about socialism

And why those same morons seemed to only care about deficits and spending under a Democratic president. First idiot,
Former Sen. Dan Coats, running for the open Indiana Senate seat that will be vacated by Evan Bayh (D), said he is running out of a “call of duty,” because he said he believes the current “radical” administration, is “moving this country rapidly toward a European Socialist style of government.”

“Wasn’t it Margaret Thatcher that said the whole thing wrong with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money?” Coats, 66, said in an interview here with First Read. Asked if he sees this administration as “moving toward socialism,” Coats said, “I do. I do. I think this is a socialistic agenda. It’s definitely moving this country rapidly toward a European socialist style of government.”
Just to reiterate, former Senator, your party passed major Medicare Prescription bill, two wars, and did so all on the credit card. If that isn't using other people's money, then what the fuck is? This is moronic.

And speaking of moronic, check out Arizona's Jon Kyle
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said, "It's a question of whether we pay for it or we simply say, 'Put it on the tab for our kids and grandkids to pay for it.'"
Benen notes:
"Kyl had no similar concerns when he supported asking our kids and grandkids to pay for the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, Bush's tax cuts, Medicare Part D, and No Child Left Behind. He and his cohorts only seem troubled by deficits when it's the unemployed who might benefit. I wonder why that is."
Again. Moronic. Inconsistent, and not even close.

And speaking of what kind of government we want, read this story on our weak mine safety regulation. Republicans seem to favor a government that doesn't regulate industry. Yeah, yeah, they all say here on the blog that everyone wants some reasonable regulations, but I don't believe that to be true. Not doubting the commenters here, mind you, but doubting that the Republicans running the party want regulation of any kind. They routinely undermine regulatory efforts and just look at how they stand on financial regulation and mining regulation? Profit trumps people every time. The ultimate irony here is that many of the people I argue with about regulation are hard core Christian conservatives--who seem to think that WWJD was to lobby against mine safety because it undermines the tonnage output, and cuts into the profits.


April 11, 2010

Republican congressman accuses Obama of purposefully undermining our national security

And even misunderstands Reagan's stance on nuclear proliferation:
Simply put, President Obama is disadvantaging the United States one step at a time and undermining this country’s national defense on purpose. Whether he is catering to the anti-war leftists or truly doing what he thinks is best for our security, the president is leading this nation down a very dangerous path. [emphasis in the original]
As several have noted, this idiot is accusing the President of treason, and at the same time urging Obama to be more like Reagan. Of course Reagan also signed nuclear arms treaties and tried to reduce their numbers. And never mind that the idiot Republican's followup line essentially undermines his emphatic accusation of purposefully doing this.
or truly doing what he thinks is best for our security

As Steve Benen noted, there seems to be no restrictions on what Republicans can say--no internal stops that suggest that perhaps we are all Americans and can disagree on some of these things. No, Republicans can accuse the President of setting out to harm our economy on purpose (McCain) or even to undermine our national security. The party of torture and rewriting history is also the party of this kind of crap.

April 10, 2010

Science Friday live

Yesterday, SOF and I had the opportunity to attend the live broadcast of Science Friday with Ira Flatow. It was a very cool experience. Fun just watching the process, and the additional thoughtful discussion was even more enjoyable. Couple of take-aways:

1) One of the Poli Sci profs discussed the way that people process information when trying to understand complex problems. He suggested that there are numerous ways that people filter information and those filters often have a bigger impact on how they view that problem. These filters include world-view, view of experts, etc. So, a person who fears government as intrusion is more likely to disbelieve the human cause of climate change because they know it will lead to more government intrusion.

This was very nice to hear as it relates to how I see people processing information on evolution as well. Those predetermined to not like the philosophical implications of evolution, are very likely to dismiss evidence (and often evidence they don't understand) for evolution out of hand.

I have observed this in person, and it struck me that that particular kind of filter does not apply to all issues, even those that are complex. Many people who automatically dismiss evolution, for example, and for the reasons above, will not automatically filter financial data in that way. That financial data, or even perhaps, medical data, will be examined in a more logical fashion.

Anyway, I have an email into this prof to get some more information. He told me in a conversation afterward that this filter and assumption issue is the key to getting beyond the bitter partisanship of the climate change debate. Deniers, he said, feel completely under siege, and more scientific data will not budge that. Further, he noted, those of us who see the science as conclusive, can't indulge ourselves and participate in the debate as it is currently framed. I am curious how we do participate, but that may be more clear with some more conversation.

2) During the post-broadcast reception, Flatow addressed the changing nature of the media in his explanation for the origins of Science Friday. He connected some dots that I am sure all of you already have, but I had not. He noted that news has ceased to be about news--something we have all talked about--and that the news media has been transformed into entertainment because these organizations are owned by entertainment companies. We have talked about that too, but for some reason, I didn't make the next connection, when he noted that results in making news into entertainment. I had always focused on the entertainment content that took the place of news, but not really realized that they wanted to make even actual news events entertaining. The coverage of the healthcare debate or the idiocy of the Tea Party townhall crashers are good examples. It doesn't matter if it infuriates you or makes you laugh--as long as you are entertained and keep tuning in, they will do it. The goal, however, is explicitly not to educate or inform you.

It was a great afternoon, though I was completely wiped out last night. Today, I hope to get a little grading done, mow the weeds that live where grass might, and join a little jam session down the block.


Why Are We Listening To Newt Gingrich? | The New Republic

Chait asks the question most of us are asking:
"On the subject of Gingrich, here's one thing I don't understand. John Edwards' philandering has made him a public pariah, understandably so. But Gingrich's marital behavior was probably even more disgusting. He cheated on his first wife and told her he wanted a divorce while she was recovering from surgery for cancer. He subsequently cheated on his second wife with a much younger aide. It's fairly amazing how Gingrich has managed to avoid any stigma from this. He's just a conservative 'ideas guy.'"
How is it that John Ensign's scandal is not top news? Not just adultery, but corruption and payoffs.

But conservatives seem immune to this kind of criticism. All Gingrich had to do was claim to be "born again" and confess to the right's mob boss (James Dobson) and he is free to call Obama the most radical President in American History--and we are supposed to listen? George Bush benefitted from the same, supposedly theological construct, that sinners could confess their sins, be born again, and then be clean as snow. Fine, from a theological point of view, but absurd and inane when it applies to Newt Gingrich or the torturer George Bush even as people on the right absolutely refuse to forgive any liberal for any sin.

Here is the funny thing about the moral conservatism of the religious right. I don't respect either your morality or your conservatism. I am well aware of the immorality of the left, and of the immorality of us all--but your claim for moral superiority defies reality and instead reminds me of the false piety of the right.

April 9, 2010

Jon Stewart on Virginia's Confederate Heritage Month

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Virginia's Confederate History Month & Griffin Mascot
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Anger over health-care reform spurs rise in threats against Congress members

Conservatives keep telling me that their radical wing is no different from my radical wing, yet I don't remember a huge increase in threats of physical violence against Bush and Republicans. Did I miss that? I remember protests, and I remember hyperbole, but I don't remember threats of "we came unarmed this time" or documented death threats on Trent Lott and the other Republican leaders.

Yeah, but we sure as hell have them from the other side. After all, it isn't as if the right wing didn't paint this healthcare bill as Armageddon or the onset of Soviet-style authoritarianism or the type of thing that Hitler would love, right?

Oh wait. Of course even supposedly responsible Republicans did that all the time during the HCR debate.

Why We Can't Reduce The Deficit | The New Republic

Chait has two posts on this subject that are worth reading. First, this one that shows that the right wing is still in denial about supply-side economics. The continued belief that cutting taxes will fix our deficit problems after the last major tax cut exploded our deficit--well, it just amazes me. Talk about your "faith-based" program. This is a complete denial of evidence. Not, of course, that targeted tax cuts can't spur investment--I accept that. But this across the board call for tax cuts is destructive governing. It is actually the same as suggesting openly that Republicans want states to fail economically, and want our government not to actually govern. Instead, they sell the lie that tax cuts=good governing.

His second post is an even better look at the supposed conservative minds. In a conversation between David Frum and Larry Kudlow, Kudlow argues that if we cut the federal payroll by 5-10%, we would see a significant savings and deficit reduction. Frum actually checks the math and finds
A 5% across the board pay cut would save no more than $13 billion , and in fact much less: remember, federal pay is unusually benefits-heavy.
To put it another way: even if we fired every single federal civil servant and shuttered the entire non-defense federal government, three-fourths of the budget deficit would still be with us.
We need smarter conservatives. I know they are out there. Why are they not in leadership? Why are we stuck with these people?


One of my concerns of late is the sense that facts are malleable. I understand spin, and don't like it, but there is a difference between making an argument about how much something will cost (speculation) and asserting something like death panels (simply not in the bill). There is a funny irony that many of my conservative friends often miss. After years of pillorying liberals as under the spell of post-modern thought where "there was no truth," to see conservatives essentially present this kind of take on the truth is odd, to say the least.

As I have noted here, I hear conservatives now saying that it was Republicans who pushed Civil Rights through, and Dick Armey has recently argued that Alexander Hamilton was the proper model for the anti-government Tea Party. When challenged on that point, he dismissed intellectuals and noted that the questioner had heard the opposite from some uninformed political science professor.

The past is what you want it to be. The founders all saw the Christian faith as you do, not the way they did. In your viewpoint, they would have no problem with non-denominational preachers and Mormons leading the fight for "Christian Nation."

If this isn't bad enough, we also see that the conservatives have learned the Bush lessons from the previous administration. When Clinton was found in a lie, (and we all know that happened) it usually resulted in some kind of "tail between the legs" retreat. Bush and Rove realized that they didn't have to do that and could simply act as if the truth had not been discovered. Their lesson was that when your lie is exposed, keep repeating the lie, and even repeat it with more conviction. Just as Newt Gingrich has decided to do with the 16,000 IRS agents. Much like Palin's "death panels," the specter of IRS agents busting into your house to see if you have health coverage is too ridiculous to believe, but also too compelling for a right wing already addled by Fox News. So, you don't retreat from that kind of goodness. You just keep repeating the lie. After all, you have spent the last 20 years telling the right wing faithful to not believe the media, so they will not mind some fact-checking.

Colbert was more brilliant than we knew:
And reality has a well-known liberal bias.


April 8, 2010

Right wing activist arrested for threatening Pelosi

The Washington Monthly:
"It's a good thing conservatives spent a year whipping confused, right-wing activists into a frenzy with overheated, apocalyptic, and deceptive rhetoric about health care reform, isn't it?"

April 7, 2010

More on Confederate History Month for Virginia

This time from Adam Serwer. And I have to agree. There is this constant drumbeat from southerners who love the Lost Cause to downplay or ignore the role that slavery played in the Civil War. This goes back to the early historiographical explanations, as well as the push for reconciliation from both sides. The North grew increasingly racist as Reconstruction unraveled, and eventually threw southern Blacks over the side in their effort to give the South an "out."

That no longer works today, but the Lost Cause remains. But, if you read the secession papers and arguments, they are filled with open endorsements of slavery and declarations that this divide is centrally about slavery. When people like Governor Bob McDonnell declare April "Confederate History Month" and do so with no mention of slavery or the fact that Confederates took arms against the Constitution, and then resisted extending equal rights to blacks--he participates in an old horror, as if Civil Rights had not happened, and our understandings of race had not moved forward one step.

But, as many have argued, this is the new GOP--the party of the Confederacy. Moving against progress since 1964.


TNC on Virginia's Confederate Heritage

Proud Of Being Ignorant - National - The Atlantic
A lot of you have e-mailed me to note that Virginia governor Bob McDonnell has decided to honor those who fought to preserve, and extend, white supremacy. I don't really have much to say. The GOP is, effectively, the party of willfully unlettered Utopians. It is the party of choice for those who believe global warming is a hoax, that humans roamed the earth with dinosaurs, and that homosexuals should work harder at not being gay.

That the party of unadulterated quackery also believes that Birth Of A Nation is more true to the Civil War than Battle Cry Of Freedom, is to be expected. Ignorance does not respect boundaries. It is, at times, qualified and those who know more, often struggle to say more. But people who believe that the Census is actually a covert attempt to put Americans in concentration camps, are also likely to believe that slavery was incidental to the Civil War.

This is who they are--the proud and ignorant. If you believe that if we still had segregation we wouldn't "have had all these problems," this is the movement for you. If you believe that your president is a Muslim sleeper agent, this is the movement for you. If you honor a flag raised explicitly to destroy this country then this is the movement for you. If you flirt with secession, even now, then this movement is for you. If you are a "Real American" with no demonstrable interest in "Real America" then, by God, this movement of alchemists and creationists, of anti-science and hair tonic, is for you.

April 6, 2010

The problems of our current healthcare system

That we are in the process of trying to fix, I understand, but the problems still abound. One of SOF's favorite bloggers has a great post on the subject, and from someone with some inside knowledge of the healthcare system.
Case in point, was the patient I saw this week, who was employed and who fell off his porch back in 2004, sustaining a fracture of his left tibia and fibula of the lower leg. He had surgery to correct it, but in the interim, he lost his job due to being unable to work, and thus, his benefits. Back in the fall, he re-injured the leg and now needs to have hardware removed and the bones fused. He is in horrible chronic pain, and no orthopedic surgeon will touch him. He has no coverage. He can't pay for the surgery or an expensive hospital stay. So, what does he do? He takes numerous trips to the ER when the pain becomes too unbearable, and receives a prescription for maybe 10 pain pills. Why doesn't he see his PCP? He has no PCP, as he's still in the "process" of applying for Medicaid, and thus can't afford to see a primary care physician. Oh, did I mention he has hypertension too which is untreated? What happens if this man has a stroke? I'll tell you what happens. He gets taken by EMS to a hospital, is admitted and given the very same care as an insured patient, but there is no one to pay the bill. Who pays? You do. You and I do. And the bills keep getting higher and higher and higher to somehow compensate for those with no way to pay.

As I noted on her blog, this is my frustration with the discussion about healthcare. We already provide a "public option" but it is the least efficient possible, and one that certainly discourages people like this patient to get the care they need. The FB conversation I had with the woman convinced that anyone who criticizes tax cuts is, in fact, a "liberal," included the kinds of suggestions that people would be better off negotiating directly with doctors for their care. All fine and good for the head cold and even a simple break (I imagine) but unmanageable for chronic and expensive care.

One other thing here, btw, is the specter of "moral hazard" thought coming into play. One of the conservatives I speak with is very concerned that this new healthcare subsidize people who don't "try." That FB woman said something similar, that this new ACA would lower the incentive for people to work hard to get their own care.

April 5, 2010

Both sides are the same

Or so I keep hearing. I certainly hear it from conservatives when one of their own is caught in a lie. And on some points, I agree. I agree that politicians act like politicians--in that they often spin their approach to justify their actions. Most politicians promise the moon to get elected and then have difficulty keeping those promises. (I remember one prof saying that Polk was the only President who kept all his promises. He promised war with Mexico and delivered).

But back to both sides being the same. My conservative friends think that whatever radicalism or intransigence there is to the right--is reflected just as clearly on the left. Benen notes this phenomenon with a Paul Ryan misquote about liberals and government. Ryan quoted Barney Frank as wanting to increase the role of government on every front, when Frank only said that liberals were "trying in every front to increase the role of government in the regulatory area."

Benen notes that Ryan seems to assume that the left has the opposite goal of his own. But as Paul Krugman notes, "we are not mirror images."
"On the right, people are for smaller government as a matter of principle — smaller government for its own sake. And so they naturally imagine that their opponents must be their mirror image, wanting bigger government as a goal in itself.

But it’s not true. I don’t know any progressives who gloat over increases in the federal payroll or the government share of GDP. Progressives have things they want the government to do — like guaranteeing health care. Size per se doesn’t matter. But people on the right apparently can’t get that."
It is a very good point. People on the right want smaller government, even if that means that makes for worse policy, because they believe that small government is inherently superior. Liberals, on the other hand, are more pragmatic, or it certainly seems so in the modern era. We want certain policy ends, and if private means can get us there, that is fine.

April 4, 2010

Frank Schaeffer points to the evangelical right connection to the Michigan Hutaree

In a book excerpt, Schaeffer discusses his past experience with the evangelical "left behind" and how similar they sound to the most violent of the right.
"'Mainstream' (in other words, slightly less nutty and less violent) religious-right Republicans have been saying the same thing as Brunn about the Fed for years, particularly the so-called 'dominionists' who believe it's their job to reestablish God's dominion on earth. They preach Old Testament-style vengeance and loony gold-standard 'economics' from many 'respectable' pulpits. They also hate America (as it is), want a revolution in the name of God, and espouse 'pro-life' beliefs, anti-gay hate, racism, and far-right Republican politics. They take the Republican anti-government propaganda to the next step and say that even paying taxes is 'unconstitutional.' I know them well.

I knew the founders of the dominionist movement -- people like the late Reverend Rousas John Rushdoony, the father of 'Christian Reconstructionism' and the modern evangelical/fundamentalist home school movement. Rushdoony (whom I met and talked with several times) believed that interracial marriage, which he referred to as 'unequal yoking,' should be made illegal. He also opposed 'enforced integration,' referred to Southern slavery as 'benevolent,' and said that 'some people are by nature slaves.'"

As we have said here many times, words matter, and those who urge on this kind of radical thought are fanning the flames of those who can't quite distinguish between the rhetoric and the need to go get their guns.

Sunday notes

I know it is Easter. I have always had a bit of a conflicted relationship with this date on the church calendar. I hope everyone has a nice day.


Anyway, a few items caught my eye. One was this synopsis of right-wing rewrites to American history. As Steve Benen noted, how do we have a serious conversation with people who have decided that Alexander Hamilton was actually a small-government Tea Partier, or that Joe McCarthy was actually an American hero? How do you have a serious conversation with people who simply reject historical facts they don't like? How many right-wingers would believe that much of the ACA came from Republican ideas? That many Republicans actually supported the individual mandate? Or that Ronald Reagan actually raised taxes several times during his 8 years?

I have been told by a conservative friend that he was told that it was Republicans who pushed through the Civil Rights Act, and they did so against Democratic resistance. As we have noted, this is partially true, but also completely misleading.

As Benen noted, many of those on the right would simply refuse to accept those historical facts. How the hell can we talk about anything seriously?


A FB friend noted that the media still refers to right wing violence as merely a potential, and seems to not put together the actual threats and actual violence from the far right wing. No, the Republicans are not responsible for all or any of these acts of terrorism, or threats of terrorism. But they do continue to fan these flames and then express annoyance when we call them on it. Is it too much to expect them to actually stop spreading or encouraging right wing anger? When people like Steve King refer to health care as a "cancer?", or Michele Bachmann accuses Pelosi for inciting the tea party idiots, or urges Americans to not fill out their census forms.

Facts don't matter to these people, nor do the potential dangers of fanning such anti-social anger. For people who claim to be more patriotic than the rest of us, their blatant disregard for social order or the principles of our country are quite shocking.

In a few years, look for the same people, btw, to push the lie that they actually supported healthcare reform against democratic resistance.

Anyway. Happy Easter. Or Happy Sunday. Or something.

April 1, 2010

Jon Stewart interview

Check it. He interviewed some redhead host from the Fox business channel. I loved how she described how Glass-Steagal ended. If you listen to her, it just "happened." It just "fell away." It wasn't the conscious choice of Republicans like Phil Gramm.

One good example of the media sucking.

Thursday funk

Call it post-teaching exhaustion, mostly. Last night's marathon went 4 and a half, and I am walking around in a daze today. I know there are those who are on their feet or talking or doctoring for those kinds of hours all the time. I don't know how they do it, and my hat is off to them.

Saw a story about one of the guys in the CIA working with Panetta. Turns out he was one of those who helped cover up the torture death of a detainee in Afghanistan. We dumped cold water on him and left him in a cell over night. He froze to death. They buried him in secret and rigged the books.

With that in mind, I am posting the link to this 2008 documentary: TORTURINGDEMOCRACY.ORG. My conservative evangelical friends assure me that they are mostly opposed to torture, just not terribly sympathetic. I would suggest that that is mostly because they still, STILL, don't know what was done in their name.


And because I am in a snit today, I am reminded of the incredibly infuriating FB conversation with the God-quoting evangelical woman who accused me (in passive aggressive fashion) of not really knowing what was going on. That is why she wanted me to read some Heritage docs and stop reading that liberal trash from Forbes.

Yeah, that one. I love it when people who clearly don't know shit lecture me on being informed. It always makes me so happy. Well, she dropped that story about how the new ACA would require the hiring of 16,000 new IRS agents and the accompanying cost. It won't surprise anyone here that story turns out to be pulled right out of John Boehner's ass. Amazing how just a speculating about it in the news translates into the Republican drones repeating it as fact.


With that in mind, a preemptive post on another meme circulating around the conservative brain--namely that the stimulus money mostly went to Democratic districts as a political ploy to buy votes. Except, as Nate Silver points out, this "scholarship" didn't account for the money going to states through districts that include the state capitol. Of course, given my conversation with the annoying woman, I have absolutely no doubt that FACTS matter one iota in this, or any other conversation. Discussions of how much Bush added to the deficit made her tell me that the Bush tax cuts increased revenue.


And finally, this good post from Steve Benen about a tweet from Larry Sabato saying that Jim Webb was hardly a stereotypical liberal, because
"Ever met a liberal who's won a Navy Cross for heroism, a Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts?"
Because, of course, as everyone knows, liberals cheer for the other side. So fucking annoying. Republicans have it incredibly easy. They can fuck up the military, place them in unnecessary wars, undermine their credibility with torture--yet it is the liberals who are anti-military.