Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday Stuff

I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before Grassley, Enzi and company come back and say they expect 90 votes to pass on health care reform, and the hoop will be 20 feet high instead (and I think Dr. Dean was referring to this poll)...

...and as another "weekly wrapup" item, more or less, here is Barney Frank giving one of these teabaggin' town hall protesters exactly what she deserves (and I want to emphasize that there is room for legitimate disagreement and a substantive discussion concerning health care reform, but that's not what these people are about, nor will it ever be what they're about)...

...and whaddaya know - there really are "death panels" in this country...

...and the following is a public service message from the Family Research Council and the Christian Coalition.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Stuff

Have a nice vacation, Mr. President (and tell anybody who doesn't like it to go "pound" some MVY sand)...

...and here's "The Nexus of Politics and Terror," 2009 edition (timed for some of the revelations in Tom Ridge's book - rats deserting a ship that has long since sunk)...

...I thought there was some clever stuff going on here with the stick figures (nice song too)...

...and speaking of vacations, happy 50th anniversary to our 50th state (here).

Friday Mashup (8/21/09)

  • This Think Progress post tells us the following…

    The Texas State Board of Education review committee is preparing to vote on a draft of proposed standards for history textbooks. Noting that the draft has “nothing about liberals,” the Houston Chronicle reported:

    The first draft for proposed standards in United States History Studies Since Reconstruction says students should be expected “to identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority.” [...] Others have proposed adding talk show host Rush Limbaugh and the National Rifle Association.
    Oh, and did you guess that the 15-member review committee includes 10 Republicans?

    Well, with this in mind, please allow me to add the following historical “updates”:

  • General Robert E. Lee defeated General Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of Appomattox, and thus the South was allowed to discriminate against African Americans and teach creationism as science.

  • The Texas Longhorns football team under coach Mack Brown defeated the Florida Gators to win the NCAA College Football championship last January.

  • The first oil well in the state was discovered in the back yard of former president George Herbert Walker Bush in Harris County in 1964.

  • Texas is the largest state in the Union, twice as large as Alaska and eight times as large as California.

  • Davy Crockett was elected the ninth President of the United States in 1821.
  • Please secede already.

  • Update 8/30/09: Yeah, more like this - hurry up, actually.

  • Also, the Bucks County Courier Times told us the following this morning here (in its “Thumbs Down” segment)…

    To Bucks County Commissioner Charley Martin, who seems to favor replacing outgoing county Chief Operating Officer Dave Sanko with a political operative.

    While doing so would maintain continuity, it's no way to run a government.
    Silly me, but I would say that suggesting that a political operative “maintain continuity” is no way to write an editorial.

    This is par for the proverbial course when it comes to Mr. “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” (with Martin’s co-commissioner Dem Diane Marseglia rightly calling for a nationwide job search to fill the vacancy), but instead of haranguing Martin (an easy target), I just wanted to extend a bon voyage to Sanko (pictured), who, as noted here, “harrassed” Deena Dean, Bucks County’s Board of Elections Director, for two years (her word, not mine) and participated in a GOP fundraiser here (not good since he's a worker in county government - when asked about it, he replied it was “no big deal” apropos).

    I’m not sure where Sanko is going, but if it turns out that he lands somewhere in Texas, don’t be a bit surprised.

  • Update 8/30/09: And why am I not surprised that our state senator Chuck McIlhinney is trying to get a bogus budget passed (kudos to Diane for calling him out on it here).

  • Also, I give you the following weekly lowlight from former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm (here), who tells us that the New York Times corrected a TV program listing that "mistakenly listed MTV's ‘Jackass’ show on the MSNBC cable schedule at 7 and 10 p.m. where instead MSNBC's 'Countdown With Keith Olbermann' should have been listed" (with Malcolm wondering “what if nobody noticed the difference” if people were looking for “Jackass” but found Olbermann instead – ha, ha).

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t “Countdown” air at 8 PM EST and not 7PM EST? However, I realize it isn’t as much fun for Malcolm to dump on Chris Matthews, since “Hardball” airs at 7PM EST instead (though “Countdown” is rerun at 10PM EST).

    I know the original mistake was made by the Times, which they compounded by mixing up “Hardball” and “Countdown” at 7. However, Malcolm, not wanting to miss a chance to bash a liberal, apparently chimed in also without doing some rather simple due diligence.

    Oh, and by the way, Malcolm, I’m still waiting for the results of a poll on Dick Cheney’s alleged popularity which was commissioned more recently than the date of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq, OK (noted here).

  • And last but certainly least, I give you Christine Flowers in the Philadelphia Daily News today (here)…

    I’ll try to summarize…

  • Obama is a U.S. citizen already (sorry, but I don’t give her credit for pointing out something that has long since been debunked).

  • Harry Reid and “San Fran Nan” Pelosi (cute) maligned honest Americans who were legitimately questioning health care reform (not from this part of the woods they weren’t, with Flowers con-vee-niently dismissing the influence of Dick Armey and Rick Scott’s foot soldiers here).

  • Nobody should be depicting Obama as a Nazi (again, incredibly obvious stuff).

  • But (ha ha, how clever!) then Flowers uses that as an opportunity to dump on “the dank, smelly recesses of Daily Kos, Huffington Post and MoveOn” who “liken(ed) President Bush to Hitler and Saddam Hussein.”

  • Also, Howard Dean apparently said that the Repugs want to “kill” the health care bill and “kill” the president; I’ve checked online a bit, and apparently that’s a reasonably accurate quote. Though it was obviously a poor choice of words, somehow I’m sure a reasonably minded person would understand that Dean was speaking figuratively (however, I don’t know in what universe Flowers could be considered a “reasonably minded person”).

  • And to top it off, Flowers refers to progressives as dismissively as possible for good measure, and resurrects the whole “guns, clinging, bitter” business with that speech Obama gave (and by the way, the fact that Karl Rove later said that Obama was right here is pretty much ignored because IOKIYAR).
  • God, so much stoo-pid…

    First of all, MoveOn never ran an ad that compared Bush to Hitler (another zombie lie – click here for more information).

    Another thing…The Great Orange Satan is powerful enough to defend itself, so I won’t do so here (as usual, people criticizing The Daily Kos end up revealing the fact that they don’t have the first clue as to what the site is about). And my main criticism with HuffPo is its preoccupation with brainless celebrity piffle (Alec Baldwin writes a post telling us that Republicans are bad…zzzzzzzzzzz).

    Also, allow me to say a word or two about the whole “Bush/Hitler” thing (Bush was compared to Saddam Hussein? WHAAA????).

    This is a post I wrote over four years ago in which I was still more than a little clueless about this whole blogging thing (only slightly less so now) in which I said that Bushco was pretty much following the same propaganda playbook as Adolf and his pals, and I stand by that. I did not say that Bush was Hitler, and as near as I can tell, I do not have a pic with him depicted as such on this site (kind of hard to check this stuff across more than 4,500 posts, but I don’t believe that is the case…if I do, I will take my proverbial lumps for it).

    However, as you can see above, I happily used a parody pic of former Senator Man-On-Dog to that effect; as noted here, Santorum had no problem comparing the Dems to the Nazis, so I thought he deserved to be responded to in kind.

    But of course, in the end, these are still more smokescreens and diversions from Flowers, who really isn’t interested in correcting bad behavior by people who share her political opinion.

    And that’s a shame, because there’s a lot of that “outreach” work still to be done among conservatives, and if by some miracle Flowers ever decided to do that instead of propagating misinformation, our dialogue would subsequently become a lot more informed and a lot less stupid.

    Through one of the easiest Google searches of my life, here is a "pot, meet kettle" example for Flowers that I found from July 2008, including this excerpt…

    There are many abhorrent crimes and criminals who deserve no less than the death penalty. Yet many liberals, a future candidate for President included, show more concern for the rights and comforts of genuine evil (terrorists included!) than they do for the victims of such terrible crimes. Victims whose lives have been taken by such malicious people. While a vast majority of liberals tend to sympathize with the evil-doers, conservatives do not. Murderers, rapists, child molesters, etc. should be punished, not coddled.
    I suppose in the end, Flowers is to be pitied and not despised for practicing her literary deceit. As is her employer, who, in their latest reorganization scheme, (re: one bunch of Philadelphians stepping forward to spend too much money and waive pixie dust on behalf of another bunch of Philadelphians - never a bad thing if it saves jobs, though) attempts to stay afloat for the purposes of legitimizing her garbage.

    This post from last week told us of individuals crying and praying for the survival of Philadelphia’s newspapers. Were I disposed to do so, I might do so for an altogether different reason (hard to believe that Flowers continues to be published on pages that once ran columns by Chuck Stone, Pete Dexter, and Jack McKinney, but there you are – I will grant, though, that Flowers is a subject matter expert when it comes to “dank, smelly recesses”).
  • Thursday, August 20, 2009

    A Trip Down The Repug Road Of Economic Ruin

    (And I also posted here about our favorite topic.)

    This story tells us the following…

    New seasonally-adjusted claims for unemployment insurance rose last week to 576,000, up from a revised figure of 561,000 the week before, the Department of Labor reports. Before this morning's report, analysts had expected new claims to drop to 550,000. This is the second week in a row that initial claims rose -- they had fallen for six straight weeks, but ticked up last week.
    And even though Rasmussen’s polling skews conservative, I had an issue with this, which tells us…

    Again this month, a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 39% say the bad economy is caused more by Obama’s policies, but 55% blame President Bush. These findings are unchanged from the previous two months.

    In May, 62% blamed Bush more, while 27% thought Obama’s policies were at fault.
    Also, this tells us that there has been some discussion of a job creation stimulus in light of the following information (though I’m definitely not holding out hope for that - can't help but hear Paul Krugman saying "I told you that the 'stim' was too small" somewhere...)…

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at the start of the recession in December 2007, the ratio of job seekers to job openings was 1.5 to 1. Now six unemployed workers chase every available job. It's a brutal game of musical chairs in which a great many people lose and spiral downward economically with disastrous consequences, not only for themselves and their families, but also for communities that were once productive and prosperous.
    And Bob Herbert of the New York Times points out the following in particular (here)…

    For those concerned with the economic viability of the American family going forward, the plight of young workers, especially young men, is particularly frightening. The percentage of young American men who are actually working is the lowest it has been in the 61 years of record-keeping, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

    Only 65 of every 100 men aged 20 through 24 years old were working on any given day in the first six months of this year. In the age group 25 through 34 years old, traditionally a prime age range for getting married and starting a family, just 81 of 100 men were employed.

    For male teenagers, the numbers were disastrous: only 28 of every 100 males were employed in the 16- through 19-year-old age group. For minority teenagers, forget about it. The numbers are beyond scary; they’re catastrophic.

    This should be the biggest story in the United States. When joblessness reaches these kinds of extremes, it doesn’t just damage individual families; it corrodes entire communities, fosters a sense of hopelessness and leads to disorder.
    I can’t think of any one demographic group of people who has it better than any other when it comes to unemployment, but there’s something particularly troubling when young workers aren’t able to become accustomed to a work day routine that will help them build good work habits through their lives (and to think, that knucklehead Suze Orman said here that young workers “have it so great that it’s not even funny”...).

    Given all of this, the following information will probably not be of benefit to the wise 55-62 percent of those polled by Rasmussen who know where to place the blame for our present circumstance, but for the benefit of that 27-39 percent who should know better, let’s review some recent history, shall we?

    The Murdoch Street Journal (no lie) tells us the following (from here)…

    President George W. Bush entered office in 2001 just as a recession was starting, and (left) in the middle of a long one. That’s almost 22 months of recession during his 96 months in office.

    His job-creation record won’t look much better. The Bush administration created about three million jobs (net) over its eight years, a fraction of the 23 million jobs created under President Bill Clinton’s administration and only slightly better than President George H.W. Bush did in his four years in office.
    And those three million have disappeared as a result of the recession, with Bob Herbert telling us in his column that about ten times that many people are currently unemployed.

    So how exactly did we get to this horrid place?

    This Buzzflash post from May 2003 tells us the following…

    Presidential Term and Jobs created per month:

    Truman 1: 60,000
    Truman 2: 113,000
    Eisenhower 1: 58,000
    Eisenhower 2: 15,000
    Kennedy: 122,000
    Johnson: 206,000
    Nixon 1: 129,000
    Nixon/Ford: 105,000
    Carter: 218,000
    Reagan 1: 109,000
    Reagan 2: 224,000
    G. Bush: 52,000
    Clinton 1: 242,000
    Clinton 2: 235,000
    G.W. Bush: 69,000 jobs DESTROYED per month
    Which led one time House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to say the following that month (the next day, actually - here - and if you think some of this is "deja vu all over again," it's not your imagination)…

    “Mr. Speaker, today the House of Representatives has a very historic decision to make. Other speakers have referenced the sacrifice of our young men and women in uniform in Iraq and the gratitude we have to them for the sacrifice they were willing to make.

    “They were successful in their mission. Our mission is to build a future worthy of their sacrifice. That cannot be done by voting for the reckless, irresponsible proposal put forth by the Republican majority on this floor today.

    “The distinguished Majority Leader said we didn’t have a plan until yesterday. We had a plan the day before the President had a plan in January. A plan that was fair, fast acting, and fiscally sound.

    “And the plan we brought to the Rules Committee yesterday was consistent with those provisions and those principles.

    “But so frightened were the Republicans of the truth on this floor, that they would not allow the Democratic plan for job creation and economic growth to be brought to this floor.

    “So frightened were they of the truth that they have tried to silence the voice of over 100 million people in our country who are represented on this side of the aisle

    “We’re building a visitors center outside for people to come and witness democracy.

    What do we tell them when we say that so many Americans cannot have their voices heard on this floor around the debate of a proposal for economic growth and job creation?

    “This day is an historic day. In many ways a sad day. And I’d like to put it in perspective.

    “Ten years ago, faced with a struggling economy and a growing deficit, a new Congress and a new President courageously passed a budget bill that took us on a path to fiscal soundness. The stock markets responded, the economy prospered, and we had a record of economic growth that is unsurpassed in our nation’s history.

    “We did that with Democratic votes only. Not one Republican was willing to step up to the plate for fiscal soundness and economic growth and job creation.

    “At the end of the Clinton Administration, 22 million new jobs had been created, the country was on a path to a record surplus of $5.6 trillion, and the unemployment rate was at an all-time low. To achieve that, it took leadership and it took courage.

    “Mr. Speaker, the debate today is about leadership. Sadly, that leadership is lacking from both President Bush and from the Republican Congress.
    And for an example of that “leadership” concerning one potential growth area of our economy, I give you the following from Republican Presidential Candidate George W. Bush in 2000 (here, from a January 2000 debate in New Hampshire)…

    Q: Should we spend government funds to address the “digital divide?”

    A: Our technology is changing so quickly that government programs are often obsolete as the marketplace changes. And I think about my rural Texas, where we’re going to have two-way satellite technologies, broad-width technologies that will enable us to beam information from big cities to rural Texas and I worry about government funding and government programs that are haphazard and will be obsolete before they’re even funded.
    Of course, answers like that should have been a warning, but we are where we are.

    And as a result of Dubya’s aversion to “haphazard government programs,” I give you this…

    At a symposium entitled "Economic Empowerment for Low-Income Workers Through Broadband Training," Applebaum joined other panelists who touted the necessity of an aggressive expansion of U.S. broadband capacity. The United States currently ranks fifteenth in the world, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

    The implications for the future of America's workforce are bracing, particularly given the current state of the U.S. economy where high rates of job loss and financial insecurity are fueling increased competition for jobs. But even in the long term, the perception that the knowledge economy will be limited to employment opportunities for those with highly technical training, like engineers, physicists, and computer programmers, underestimates the impact that evolving technologies will have on the world of work, Applebaum said. In fact, "the knowledge economy really extends to every kind of job there is," she explained.

    Technology can improve the quality of jobs, but it also changes how tasks are executed. As the implementation of technology ripples through the global economy, not only are new skills needed, but workers will be called on to be more adept at problem-solving tasks and to be better trained to provide enhanced customer service.

    The Internet can be a phenomenal tool to acquire job training skills, but using dial-up "inhibits the richness of the experience," said Applebaum, because educational curricula may include interactive video links with teachers, or the need to download photographs, charts, or other materials. These features are particularly critical as "one-half of all Americans do not possess the literacy skills to participate in the knowledge economy."
    And three years after Nancy Pelosi spoke about leadership, Paul Craig Roberts told us the following (here)…

    Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics re-benchmarked the payroll jobs data back to 2000. Thanks to Charles McMillion of MBG Information Services, I have the adjusted data from January 2001 through January 2006. If you are worried about terrorists, you don’t know what worry is.

    Job growth over the last five years is the weakest on record. The US economy came up more than 7 million jobs short of keeping up with population growth. That’s one good reason for controlling immigration. An economy that cannot keep up with population growth should not be boosting population with heavy rates of legal and illegal immigration.

    Over the past five years the US economy experienced a net job loss in goods producing activities. The entire job growth was in service-providing activities--primarily credit intermediation, health care and social assistance, waiters, waitresses and bartenders, and state and local government.

    US manufacturing lost 2.9 million jobs, almost 17% of the manufacturing work force. The wipeout is across the board. Not a single manufacturing payroll classification created a single new job.
    But in the midst of telling us that US military manufacturing did well under both Dubya and The Sainted Ronnie R (at the expense of practically everyone else), we also learn the following (from here, echoing the Obama campaign last year)…

    The GOP today is focused on having a “Market Driven” economy. This means that there should be no help or support of any kind from the government. Big business should build and support the market. They believe that “market forces” alone will determine which companies will succeed or fail. Even in education today, the concept of the affordable college education is almost non-existent for most families. In retrospect, it must be noted that based on a historical review of past world economies, no country or region of the world has ever succeeded with a concept of being “Market Driven”. Every successful democratic or representative economy has required some level of support from their government in order to flourish, grow and continue to succeed.
    And the fact that the Republicans refuse to recognize that basic fact is one reason why they never should be entrusted with governmental power again.

    I don’t know when we’re going to emerge from our economic tailspin, and I don’t think anyone else does either. But I also don’t know how anyone, let alone President Obama, can be expected to undo the economic negligence of the last eight years of Oval Office “leadership,” given that our 44th president will have occupied the same position for exactly seven months as of tomorrow.

    Update 8/21/09: This is really scary stuff, but it's the reality at least (and good luck trying to find something like this from CNN, the AP or Fix Noise).

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    More Wednesday Stuff

    K.O. talks with Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center about this Ernest Hancock character and the Viper Militia (water your "tree of liberty" with your own damn blood if you want, but leave me, my family and my friends out of it, would you please? Or am I asking something waay too constructive of you?)...

    ...and "Worst Persons" (Bobby "Don't Call Me Piyush" Jindal complained about a high speed rail line that supposedly ran from Disneyland to Las Vegas when rebutting Obama on the stimulus awhile back...but now, it seems like he wants a piece of some high speed rail action himself; Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade of Fix Noise take the side of a lady who compared Obama to Hitler - God, this is old! - in front of Barney Frank, who is Jewish, and Frank gave her the treatment she deserved; and Flush Limbore tops it off in an even more juvenile fashion on the same subject...uh, Flush? God called. He said you can keep your "talent").

    Wednesday Stuff

    RIP Don Hewitt...

    ...and happy 70th birthday to Ginger Baker.

    Doubling Down In The Land Where Empires Crumble

    (And I also posted over here.)

    For those interested in the history of Afghanistan, today is the 90th anniversary of the day that the country gained its independence from Great Britain after the Third Anglo-Afghan War (here). As Wikipedia tells us here, the British “made numerous attempts to impose their will upon Kabul” because they were worried that, had they not done so, the Russian Tsarist forces would have used Afghanistan to attack India, which at that time was still a British colony (the pic above shows Afghan forces of the day).

    I could go much further back into history to point out that wars have been fought in Afghanistan since its founding; based on excavations by the University of Pennsylvania and the Smithsonian Institution, there are those who believe the country is approximately 50,000 years old (this article also tells us that “Afghanistan's history, internal political development, foreign relations, and very existence as an independent state have largely been determined by its geographic location at the crossroads of Central, West, and South Asia”).

    My point is that this country has been used for various purposes for various empires for a very, very long time (which I’m sure many of you already knew).

    So what of today, then?

    Well, this tells us that August is on track for “becom(ing) the deadliest month for American forces in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001” (never a good sign when the drumbeat of “deadliest month” stories picks up…and by the way, things are also bad at the moment in the land of Dubya’s war of choice based on this).

    And if we’re sustaining more troop losses somewhere in the world, you can be sure a politician (usually, but not always, a Republican) will call for sending more troops into the meat grinder. And John McCain does exactly that here.

    This more or less plays into what we’ve learned from General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan, who announced here that the Taliban faction is now the strongest it has been since the 2001 US-led invasion which drove them out of power and installed the current government in its place.

    “The insurgency has grown,” Gen. McChrystal admitted in an interview in Kabul today, “it has grown geographically, and it has grown in levels of violence.”
    (By the way, Gen. McChrystal happens to be Number 47 on the list by Antemedius here of the 50 Bush Administration members who should be prosecuted for war crimes; as James Petras tells us here)…

    McChrystal’s rise to leadership is marked by his central role in directing special operations teams engaged in extrajudicial assassinations, systematic torture, bombing of civilian communities and search and destroy missions. He is the very embodiment of the brutality and gore that accompanies military-driven empire building. Between September 2003 and August 2008, McChrystal directed the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations (JSO) Command which operates special teams in overseas assassinations.

    Putting McChrystal in charge of the expanded Afghanistan-Pakistan military operations means putting a notorious practitioner of military terrorism – the torture and assassination of opponents to US policy – at the center of US foreign policy.
    And if that sounds crazy, consider that we would be increasing our troop presence on behalf of the government of President Hamid Karzai, for whom drug kingpin and war criminal General Abdul Rashid Dostum returned to help for the purposes of Karzai's re-election, as noted here (the Brave New Films post tells us that Dostum)…

    …is responsible for a 2001 massacre in which he and his men stuffed thousands of prisoners into metal containers, suffocating most and then shooting at close range those who survived. Physicians for Human Rights uncovered the massacre and Dostum’s attempt to cover it up, a cover-up aided by the U.S. government (Dostum was a CIA asset at the time).
    Peachy; that being said, the Afghan media deserves credit for refusing to censor stories of election-related violence, as noted here (silly me, I always thought it was more insulting to people to hide the truth from them than to treat them like adults and share it instead).

    Fortunately, there is a sliver of a silver lining, and it is based on this account by Michael Ware of Time Magazine, who tells us that the Obama Administration is interested in bringing Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar to the negotiating table with Pakistan (this is in line with what Ware said on “Real Time” a few weeks ago)…

    The acknowledgment of on-going communication with Taliban forces using sanctuary in Pakistan to launch military strikes against U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan is part of a new diplomatic overture to help the Obama administration find an end to the long-running conflict.

    In a CNN exclusive interview, Pakistan military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said in return for any role as a broker between the United States and the Taliban, Pakistan wants concessions from Washington over Islamabad's concerns with longtime rival India.

    And senior U.S. officials have told CNN the Obama Administration is willing both to talk to top Taliban leaders and to raise some of Pakistan's concerns with India.
    As a certain Winnie Churchill once said, “to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.”

    And speaking of the British Empire, Wikipedia tells us the following about the result of the Third Afghan War, which led to Afghanistan’s independence from their supposed benefactor…

    Deciding the outcome of the Third Afghan War is somewhat difficult. Ostensibly, by virtue of the fact that the British repulsed the Afghan invasion and drove them from Indian territory and that Afghan cities felt the weight of the Royal Air Force's bombers, the result of the conflict was a British tactical victory. However, in achieving this, the British and Indian troops suffered almost double the amount of casualties that the Afghans suffered and so, as such, a certain degree of tarnish must be placed upon their victory. Therefore at best it can only be seen as a minor tactical victory for the British.
    There is no need for President Obama to fully embrace the Afghanistan conflict as some “honorable war” to be fought as a result of the 9/11 attacks (which, let us never forget, was an intelligence failure above all else). Yes, as I’ve said many times, I want to see bin Laden’s head mounted on a pike and paraded in the town square, but not at an ever-escalating price to be paid by our service people, taking fire in a war that can only be resolved through a political settlement.

    Obama has no choice but to remedy our country's economic misery inflicted by his clueless predecessor in office. Given the deteriorating landscape of battle in Afghanistan and the surrounding area and the questionable (at best) actions and motives of the major players involved (including McCain who, being a Republican, would like nothing better than to see Obama get a “black eye” here), I would advise our commander-in-chief to start working on a withdrawal timetable in that region also, along with Iraq.

    I would hate to read a Wikipedia article one day claiming that the war we are fighting in that region amounted to nothing more than “a minor tactical victory” for us as well.

    Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    Tuesday Stuff

    My introduction to the right-wing nutosphere came from this guy; he and Pat Buchanan would make the smoke come out of my ears on "Dr. McLaughlin's Gong Show" way back when.

    There is not a single issue where he and I shared agreement (this post would get very long quickly if I listed all the disagreements) and I think he effectively helped foul our discourse to the point where we are now. I will give him credit for serving our country, though, which elevates him slightly over most of his ideological brethren...

    ("Sen. Katherine Harris," huh? I may bust a gut...).

    Update 8/19/09: Kudos to Greg Mitchell for highlighting one of the many, many issues I had with Novak here.

    ...and here's a remembrance of a much better man...

    ...K.O. brings us up to date on the latest Repug health care obstruction (and invoking Bill Murray in "Meatballs"? GENIUS!)...

    Update 8/19/09: And as far as I'm concerned, the result of this CNN poll today is further evidence that our corporate media should be ignored on this issue - sorry, but I don't know how else to say it; if you want to be informed on the matter of health care reform, read liberal blogs instead.

    ...and I always wondered who did this song - now I know.

    A Tuesday Health Care Mashup (8/18/09)

    (And I also posted here about an individual who is definitely not near and dear to our hearts.)

  • Joe Klein descends into wankery once more here…

    The public option always was something of a sideshow. It would be available only to those buying their health insurance through the new system of "Exchanges"--that is, health care superstores where individuals and small businesses would combine to establish the same sort of purchasing clout that major companies (like, say, Time Warner) have in dealing insurance companies.

    The aforementioned clout would force insurance companies to clean up their act and lower their prices. In effect, the Exchanges would accomplish much of what the public option is intended to do.
    It is to laugh, my fellow prisoners.

    The presence of a health care exchange by itself without a public option really does nothing to force insurance companies to compete for market share (or, as Paul Waldman tells us here)…

    Perhaps a reform bill without a public option could regulate the insurance companies enough to keep them from engaging in their most despicable business practices. We could outlaw the practice of rescission (in which they cash your premiums, then kick you off your plan once you get a serious illness). We could make them accept anyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions. We could set up an insurance exchange, a kind of managed market where people could easily compare different plans and have a variety of choices. As part of the deal for getting access to this pool of customers, we could force the insurers to accept "community rating" -- charging everyone within a population the same price, no matter their age, gender, or medical history. Those regulations would certainly go a long way toward curbing the worst abuses.

    Call me cynical, but I can't help but assume that even if we do all that, the insurance companies will still come up with a dozen creative new ways to cut people off, avoid paying claims, and generally pad their profits at the expense of their enrollees' health and security. There's a reason why they'll fight against the public option with every ounce of strength -- and every dollar -- they can muster (insurance companies spent $74 million on lobbyists in 2008 alone). It's because the presence of a plan that offers security is a dire threat to their business model. It's possible that the health-care system could be improved without a public option. But as long as most people have no choice but to get coverage through a private insurance company, security is the one thing we won't have.
    If you doubt any of this, just ask yourself why the insurance industry, their front groups, and their political puppets (along with their sympathetic corporate media cousins, of which Klein is apparently a member) are fighting health care reform like they have never fought anything else before in my lifetime.

  • And speaking of political puppets, I give you the following concerning Repug U.S. House Rep Roy Blunt of Missouri, the subject of this post, which tells us as follows…

    Last week, as the debate over health care reform continued to dominate the news cycle, an effort to place a billboard in U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt’s home district was, well, blunted.

    The billboard was to have featured a picture of Blunt with the words: “Roy Blunt has taken $556,682 in contributions from the insurance industry. Is that why he won’t take our side on health care reform?”
    The post tells us that the billboard was rejected by Lamar Advertising Company last Thursday. However, the company changed its mind the following day and decided to put up the billboard after all; kudos to them (though Lamar is still a profit-making enterprise, I know).

    Concerning Blunt, it should be noted that, according to this story, he is stepping down from his U.S. House set so he can campaign for the U.S. Senate seat of fellow Repug “Kit” Bond, who is also bowing out (and as noted here, Blunt served as temporary House Majority Leader until John Boehner was tapped for the role after a certain dancing ex-representative stepped down due to a criminal indictment).

    And in the unhappy event that Blunt ends up in “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” I’m sure that that half a million or so from his insurance biz buds will only increase exponentially over time.

  • Update 8/20/09: And speaking of Blunt, please don't be so quick to pronounce him a senator yet, Keith (oh, sorry I forgot to apologize, Karl; I was too busy offering tea and sympathy to the 9/11 hijackers, you creep...and by the way, Sen. Cornyn, my Email address is

  • Finally, here is some comedy from the National Review Online…

    H.R. 1 (more commonly known as the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, even more commonly known as the Stimulus Bill and aptly dubbed the Porkulus Bill) contains a whopping $1.1 billion to fund the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. The Council is the brain child of former Health and Human Services Secretary Nominee Tom Daschle. Before the Porkulus Bill passed, Betsy McCaughey (pictured), former Lieutenant governor of New York, wrote in detail about the Council's purpose.
    There’s your first sign of trouble, people (and by the way, I wonder how much the “porkulus” has been ridiculed by individuals who were hired or had their jobs saved as a result of the ARRA – you can read about them here)…

    Back to the wingnuts…

    Daschle's stated purpose (and therefore President Obama's purpose) for creating the Council is to empower an unelected bureaucracy to make the hard decisions about health care rationing that elected politicians are politically unable to make. The end result is to slow costly medical advancement and consumption. Daschle argues that Americans ought to be more like Europeans who passively accept "hopeless diagnoses."
    I’m not going to try and decipher McCaughey’s idiocy here (and it is truly that, people; all of this is a replay of her tactics in scuttling the Clinton health care reform effort of the early ‘90s, as noted here, where Ezra Klein "spoke truth to stupid" regarding McCaughey’s claim that “(a) National Coordinator of Health Information Technology… will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective."

    But returning to the present, we learn the following (from here - a bit of a rehash, I know)…

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today announced the members of the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. Authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the new Council will help coordinate research and guide investments in comparative effectiveness research funded by the Recovery Act.

    “Comparative effectiveness research can improve care for all Americans and is an important element of President Obama’s health reform plan,” said HHS Spokeswoman Jenny Backus. “President Obama is committed to openness and transparency and the Coordinating Council will host open meetings and a listening session as it begins its important work.”
    So who dreamed up this idea of “comparative effectiveness” anyway? Was it President Obama, who wants to “snuff out Granny,” as the Courier Times laughably asked last week?

    Here is the answer (though they've fallen into disrepute as this has all played out, IMHO)...

    Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) on Friday introduced a bill (S 3408) to create a public-private comparative effectiveness institute, which health care policy experts say is essential to controlling health care costs and covering the uninsured, CQ HealthBeat reports.

    The institute would function as a not-for-profit private entity, not a federal agency, governed by a public-private Board of Governors, according to Baucus.
    And how much money, more or less, could we save?

    “Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag estimated that the U.S. could save up to $700 billion annually in health spending by identifying treatments that do not produce the best medical outcomes.”
    And as govtrack notes here, the bill was introduced in July '08, but basically died from that point. So I guess it just makes waay too much sense to reintroduce it into health care reform legislation, doesn’t it?

    So, summing up, as far as McCaughey and her pals are concerned, controlling costs + covering the uninsured + saving $700 billion + identifying best treatments = KILLING UNPRODUCTIVE OLD PEOPLE!

    I know this battle over trying to enact common sense health care reform hasn’t lasted as long as the entire ’08 presidential campaign, but I already feel like it has.

  • Update 8/21/09: As the late, great Harry Kalas might put it, McCaughey is "OUTTA HERE!" (here).

    Monday, August 17, 2009

    Monday Stuff

    Bill Maher's final words here about the profit motive should be heard and/or read by everyone - I'm sure that won't happen, but I'll link to it anyway...

    ...and I'm sure this is being "walked back" by Burr and/or his people at this very moment, but for now, this is good to hear...

    ..."Worst Persons" (Glenn Beck continues to hemorrhage sponsors - if anyone else wants to join, click here; Tom Coburn chooses to ignore threats to lawmakers - take a bow, you high-steppin', struttin' Oklahoma life forms who keep sending this nematode back to Congress every six years...and by the way, "Dr.," where the hell was all of this supposed concern for balancing the budget while you and your Repug congressional playmates were rubber-stamping Dubya's insane war time tax cuts and supplemental Iraq appropriations? You know, from 2000-2006, when you were in charge?; and the Texas State School Board mandates religious education for everybody, even public school students...please secede already, y'all)...

    ...and I decided to give "mellow" the night off.

    Time To “Boogie With The Bug Man”?

    (And I also posted here.)

    I’ve never had one inclination whatsoever to watch “Dancing With The Stars,” and I can assure you that I definitely will not have any future desire to do so after reading this item, telling us that disgraced Repug former U.S. House Speaker Tom “The Hammer” DeLay will appear.

    And just to refresh our memories, here are a few lowlights of his life in public office (dusting off the memory banks here for sure):

  • He claimed that abortion and illegal immigration were linked here (h/t to profmarcus for that one).

  • He said he was “not giving up” on the fight to have the terminally ill Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube reinserted here.

  • For good measure, it should be noted that his “shadow” reached all the way into PA-08, with our former U.S. House Rep Mike Fitzpatrick acting pretty much the way DeLay wanted him to, as noted here.
  • Well, given that our networks have chosen to link entertainment and politics, I’d like to offer some suggestions for future programming (a follow-up to this, I guess)…

  • “Lie To Me (Again)” starring Tom Coburn, who showed off his mysterious technique for determining whether or not people were telling the truth by their body language here.

  • “Mad Men II” with “Dusty” Foggo and “Duke” Cunningham, with the former keeping the latter plied with booze, hookers, and exotic travel junkets, among other goodies, in return for government contracts of course (here).

  • “Fools Rush In, The Sequel” with John Ensign, Mark Sanford, David Vitter and Larry Craig (one week, the setting is the “Family” home, the next is Argentina, the third is a steamy Bayou bordello, and finally, the series stops off at the Minneapolis airport men’s room).

  • “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” with William Jefferson (so don’t accuse me of picking on only Repugs, OK?), in which he is given the opportunity to win a cool million he doesn’t even have to store in a freezer (of course, if he loses out, additional time is added to his sentence).
  • Actually (getting back to DeLay), I can pretty much sum up my response to his upcoming TV appearance with the same sentiment as a CNN commenter who advised DeLay to “break a leg.”

    For real.

    Update: "Expect an epic fail" - way too damn funny here (h/t Atrios).

    Sunday, August 16, 2009

    Some Sunday Inky Funnies ('09)

    Even though we cancelled our subscription to the Philadelphia Inquirer months ago, for some reason we still keep getting the paper from time to time. Usually this happens on a Friday, but it happened today for a change.

    So what does Philadelphia’s conservative newspaper of record inform us of today?

    Well, the headline on the front page of “Currents” (their version of Review and Opinion, which it used to be called) has to do with whether or not the Federal Reserve Bank should in essence be audited (here, and if you guessed that the pro-audit viewpoint was held by Ron Paul, then you get a free copy of his 1992 political newsletter that highlighted portrayals of blacks as inclined toward crime and lacking sense about top political issues).

    Also, Kevin Ferris tells us the following here (the topic, of course, is health care reform)…

    Are there alternatives to the various Democratic proposals?

    The answer to most of the above is, we don't know, and that's cause for concern. But there are alternatives. Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and Sen. (Dr.) Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) have ideas about covering the uninsured without spending a trillion dollars or adding to the deficit. Both are smart and civil discoursers. Since Pelosi and Hoyer won't consult with them, perhaps Obama should invite them over for a beer.
    Would the Ryan-Coburn proposal be the one discussed here, Ferris? The one with “optional state exchanges” that would be “highly vulnerable to adverse selection”? The one where “tens of millions of Medicaid beneficiaries would be at risk of becoming uninsured,” among other pitfalls?

    (Oh, and by the way, exactly how would Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, members of the U.S. House, “consult” with Coburn, a United States Senator?)

    Actually, Ferris, I wouldn’t make any jokes about Obama inviting anyone for a beer. After reading over this dreck, it sounds like you are the one who’s had a bit too much to drink.

    And finally, the Inquirer actually did publish a story in the Metro section on Repug NJ gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie consulting with Karl Rove while Christie served as a U.S. Attorney (hmmm, sounds like Christie skirted just a bit with violating the Hatch Act there).

    And where did the Inky put the story? Why, on the next to the last page of the section, right next to the obituaries, of course.

    (Wonder how much money Tierney and Philadelphia Newspapers lost last week?)