Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Stuff

It's always a drag when someone passes who helped to lighten our load, as they say (more here)...

...and here's a nice tune for the weekend.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Stuff

Robert Reich talks to us about the public option (this is a recording, I know, but we must keep talking about it since our politicians seem to be waffling on it)...

...and here is yet another reason for it...

...also, if you want some more liars, here they are, as opposed to the bad Joe Wilson (whose opponent ended up raising $1 million, by the way, as noted here)...

...and here is one more remembrance for this day - the indie stuff will return next week I'm sure.

Friday Mashup (9/11/09)

(Posting was a real chore this week, as I was afraid it would be; I'll try to be a bit more timely with this stuff next week.)

  • Yesterday, I mentioned the Q&A with Norman Podhoretz in the New York Times' most recent Sunday magazine as a tie-in for his latest book. It would be remiss of me if I let the week end without noting Paul Krugman’s article in the same magazine as a tie-in to his own book, aptly called “The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008” (here).

    It wouldn’t be possible for me to even begin to summarize what Krugman discusses or do it justice; he discusses the difference between “saltwater” economists, who more or less theorized along the lines of John Maynard Keynes (who favored the “stimulus,” for example) and “freshwater” economists who “start from the premise that people are rational and markets work” according to Krugman.

    However, I believe Krugman does a good job of explaining why Keynesian economic theory, derided by the “freshwater” people, was and remains now the most logical approach for understanding (and solving) the mess we currently face.

    And I thought this excerpt was particularly instructive…

    …it wasn’t just Keynes whose ideas seemed to have been forgotten. As Brad DeLong of the University of California, Berkeley, has pointed out in his laments about the Chicago school’s “intellectual collapse,” the school’s current stance amounts to a wholesale rejection of Milton Friedman’s ideas, as well. Friedman believed that Fed policy rather than changes in government spending should be used to stabilize the economy, but he never asserted that an increase in government spending cannot, under any circumstances, increase employment. In fact, rereading Friedman’s 1970 summary of his ideas, “A Theoretical Framework for Monetary Analysis,” what’s striking is how Keynesian it seems.

    And Friedman certainly never bought into the idea that mass unemployment represents a voluntary reduction in work effort or the idea that recessions are actually good for the economy. Yet the current generation of freshwater economists has been making both arguments. Thus Chicago’s Casey Mulligan suggests that unemployment is so high because many workers are choosing not to take jobs: “Employees face financial incentives that encourage them not to work . . . decreased employment is explained more by reductions in the supply of labor (the willingness of people to work) and less by the demand for labor (the number of workers that employers need to hire).” Mulligan has suggested, in particular, that workers are choosing to remain unemployed because that improves their odds of receiving mortgage relief. And Cochrane declares that high unemployment is actually good: “We should have a recession. People who spend their lives pounding nails in Nevada need something else to do.”

    Personally, I think this is crazy. Why should it take mass unemployment across the whole nation to get carpenters to move out of Nevada? Can anyone seriously claim that we’ve lost 6.7 million jobs because fewer Americans want to work? But it was inevitable that freshwater economists would find themselves trapped in this cul-de-sac: if you start from the assumption that people are perfectly rational and markets are perfectly efficient, you have to conclude that unemployment is voluntary and recessions are desirable.
    Yeah, well, I think that tells you all you need to know about “freshwater” economists (let’s see a few of them try to pay bills and support families while looking for work, especially now).

  • Repug U.S. House Rep Dana Rohrabacher of California wrote this column for The Hill today – here is an excerpt…

    In late June of this year, the small Central American nation of Honduras faced a constitutional crisis. The president at the time, Manual Zelaya, was scheming, Hugo Chavez style, to remain in office beyond the single four-year term the constitution grants presidents.

    The Honduran Attorney General found Zelaya’s actions and intentions were a violation of law and thus charged him accordingly. The nation’s Supreme Court in conjunction with the Congress and military ordered his detention. Zelaya was taken into custody and sent into exile. Perhaps prison would have been a more fitting location for his current residence.
    As you can read, Rohrabacher (and Repugs generally without exception as nearly as I can tell) believe that the removal of Zelaya from power was lawful, an opinion with which I categorically disagree (Zelaya wasn’t very smart to oppose his country’s Supreme Court, but as far as I’m concerned, his ouster was still an illegal act).

    Of course the Repugs would be pleased with this, though, if for no other reason than the fact that, as noted here…

    General Romeo Vazquez, who led (the coup), is an alumnus of the United States School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Co-operation). The school is best known for producing Latin American officers who have committed major human rights abuses, including military coups.

    The coup government has shot and killed peaceful demonstrators, closed TV and radio stations, and arrested journalists. Two political activists have been murdered.

    During the 1980s, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency trained a military death squad -- the infamous battalion 316 -- that tortured and murdered hundreds of Honduran political activists. The U.S. embassy looked the other way, and the State Department doctored its annual human rights reports to omit these crimes.
    Looks like past is prologue for the Repugs here, people (and believe it or not, Lanny Davis has wormed his way into all this; as Mark Weisbrot tells us, “(Davis) has been hired by a coalition of business interests to represent the dictatorship”…and to learn more about the School of the Americas, click here).

    Of course, these antics are part and parcel for Rohrabacher, who called President Obama a “cream puff” here (and let’s not forget that Rohrabacher supported the Afghan groups who eventually became the Taliban and forces loyal to bin Laden, as noted here). However, Rohrabacher wisely told Dubya to “stay home” from their party’s ’08 convention last year (here).

    Besides, given our blood-stained history of Central American involvement, a person with a conscience would realize that we would do better to stay out and let the Hondurans sort this out for themselves (dangerous to assume that any Repug, especially Rohrabacher, possesses a conscience, I realize).

  • Update 11/18/09: Um...apparently our pal Dana was chummier with OBL than I first thought (here - and Grover Norquist too?? h/t Atrios).

  • Also, concerning the hubbub over The Bad Joe Wilson’s moment of juvenile behavior the other night (and this is unbelievable; I now know that, in addition to Texas, I could never live in the state of South Carolina), I think it’s important to look at what could be forgotten, and that would be the argument over whether or not providing health insurance for illegal aliens is actually a good idea.

    Yes, you read that right; Froma Harrop made what I thought were good points about that here...

    Start with Canada to see how this works. Canadians have universal coverage, a big immigration program and almost no undocumented workers. These things are not unrelated. Government-guaranteed medical care is a big reason why Canada doesn't tolerate illegal immigration. No country can long afford a large subclass of poor workers that pays little in taxes and collects full benefits.

    To quote conservative economist Milton Friedman, "It's just obvious that you can't have free immigration and a welfare state."

    As a practical matter, undocumented workers shy away from government programs that could expose their illegal status. A law passed in 2005 requires applicants to Medicaid, which insures poor people, to prove their citizenship. Two years later, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform studied Medicaid enrollments in six states (Kansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Washington and Wisconsin). It found only eight illegal immigrants on the rolls.

    But, says Georgia Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey, "a lot of their kids are in the school system." That's true. The schools don't check for immigration status. Medicaid does. And so would the health-care system now envisioned by Congress.
    Wow, that teabaggin’ fool Phil Gingrey actually “finds the nut.” Color me impressed!

    And by the way, good on Obama for this…

    It's worth noting that President Obama's is the first administration to seriously crack down on illegal immigration in decades. Under its orders, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency has stepped up audits of companies suspected of using illegal labor. Hundreds of offenders have been slapped with stiff fines and warnings to mend their ways.
    What I’m trying to communicate here is the fact that we need to start finding a way to determine exactly who is here legally and who isn’t (aside from some actual enforcement, which, thankfully, is a lesson well learned by the Obama Administration). And while the debate about national ID cards is playing itself out and legislation works its way through Congress, we could look at this also as well as providing temporary driver’s licenses for these individuals (which would also serve the purpose of obtaining a record for them). And yes, I know that these are “hot button” issues, particularly the driver’s license thing, but as I’ve said before, I’ll change my opinion on this when someone can make a good argument that illegal immigrants are worse drivers than legal ones.

    And as always, the fact that we have to scramble for “back door” solutions in the matter of handling illegal immigration is a testimony to the failure of the Repug congress (and president) in addressing this issue because of the umbrage generated in response by the right-wing media echo chamber.

  • And finally, on this eighth anniversary, it’s almost a stain on the memory of the sacrifice of those who died that day, I believe, to quote Christine Flowers of the Philadelphia Daily News (here), but alas, I believe I must…

    We Americans like to think of ourselves as iconoclasts, proud of our pioneer heritage and the way we flipped the historical finger at our colonial oppressors. We talk about, and believe in, liberty and justice and are usually able to balance those competing interests when necessary.

    Until Sept. 11, 2001.

    That's when the flames and fury split the population in two along an invisible fault line - those who saw the world as it is and fought to meet the challenge in whatever way they thought necessary, and those who saw the world as they wanted it to be, and refused to violate their own concept of honor.

    On 9/11, the terrorists did a lot more than bring down the Twin Towers. What died in the smoke and melting metal, along with our precious countrymen, was a big piece our shared identity as a people able to compromise.
    As usual, Flowers is wrong.

    The partisanship she so bemoans now that her preferred party is out of power (and if she’s a “Democrat,” then I’m a Chinese aviator) has been a long time in the making, and 9/11 had nothing to do with it.

    Start with The Sainted Ronnie R’s presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, near where the slain bodies of Andrew Goodman, James Cheney and Michael Schwerner were found (here). Then follow it up with heaping rhetoric about “welfare queens” and other "values voter" nonsense (welfare in particular, "reformed" under Clinton, not Reagan) as well as the introduction of supply-side economics, tax cuts for the rich, and war on the environment. And after that, add the Michael Dukakis-Willie Horton smear to the toxic mix (and by the way, the early parole program that allowed Horton to go free was instituted by a Republican gubernatorial predecessor of Dukakis), along with a certain Poppy Bush wrapping himself in the flag and pontificating about school choice and “Read My Lips: No New Taxes” (in addition to working the Republican base into a lather, all of this had the thoroughly anticipated side effect of polarizing voters who traditionally identified themselves with either major party). And if I were to try and catalogue once more all of the ways that Number 43 did this, easily surpassing both his own biological father and his ideological one, I wouldn’t finish this post until sometime tomorrow.

    But for yours truly, the partisanship “point of no return” is described here, as follows…

    …nobody who was paying attention in 1998 can plausibly claim that the media give Democrats a pass. The feeding frenzy set off by the Lewinsky story that January is simply unmatched in history. It was the dominant topic in newspapers, on evening news broadcasts, and on cable news every day for a year. Nothing has come close to the sustained level of wall-to-wall media coverage the Lewinsky story was given. Not the three presidential elections that have happened since, not the war in Iraq -- nothing. Media coverage of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the 2000 recount arguably came close to that of Lewinsky in terms of intensity, but for a much shorter period of time.

    On Day 2 of the Lewinsky story, The Washington Post and The New York Times combined to run 19 articles (five on their front pages) about the affair. The articles totaled more than 20,000 words and involved the work of 28 reporters who were given bylines or named as contributors. A month later, the papers combined for 12 articles, columns, and editorials, involving 17 reporters and columnists, as well as both editorial boards. At one point in 1998, Brent Bozell of the right-wing Media Research Center whined that the media had "stopped" covering the story. At the time, there were 500 news reports a day about the Lewinsky matter. Five hundred stories a day -- on a typical day -- and conservatives were complaining about a decrease in coverage.

    Again: You obviously can't directly compare coverage of a president's affair with coverage of a senator's. I offer an illustration of the extent of media coverage of the Lewinsky affair not to compare it to coverage of, say, David Vitter, but simply because I can only assume that anyone who thinks the media take it easy on Democrats who have affairs must not have been paying attention in 1998.

    But it isn't the relentless media coverage of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in 1998 that most convincingly debunks Brzezinski's claims of a pro-Democrat double standard. It is what has happened since.

    Years after the events of 1998, the media have continued to obsess over Bill Clinton's affair. Take Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, during which she was subjected to The New York Times (figuratively) peering in her bedroom windows as the media attempted to tally the number of nights the Clintons spend together per month. When Clinton aides and supporters appeared on MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews grilled them about whether Bill Clinton would "behave" and whether he would be a "good boy" and warned that "he better watch it." Bill Clinton's affair -- which happened a decade earlier -- was treated by the media as a significant part of the campaign.

    And Bill Clinton wasn't even running!
    Christine Flowers has made a living fanning the flames of partisanship in her Friday diatribes which, in their infinite stupidity, Philadelphia Newspapers has allowed to see the light of day both print and online.

    And I don’t know if trying to avoid her share of blame by invoking 9/11 is perhaps her lowest moment yet, but at this time, I can think of none lower.
  • Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Thursday Stuff

    There are lies and there are liars, as K.O. reminds us tonight (the last two minutes of this are the most important)...

    ...and this was probably too easy of a selection, but there you are (actually, I think I saw some of those dance movies at those teabagger parties :-).

    You Nazty Wingnuts!

    (And I also posted here.)

    Conservative godfather Norman Podhoretz wrote the following in his Murdoch Street Journal column today (con-vee-niently timed for the release of his new book)…

    What I am saying is that if anything bears eloquent testimony to the infinitely precious virtues of the traditional American system, it is the Jewish experience in this country. Surely, then, we Jews ought to be joining with its defenders against those who are blind or indifferent or antagonistic to the philosophical principles, the moral values, and the socioeconomic institutions on whose health and vitality the traditional American system depends.
    See, Podhoretz is a shade too dignified (just a shade) to come right out and start tossing around the typical conservative labels towards Democrats/liberals/progressives/whatever (“giving the 9/11 hijackers tea and sympathy,” as Turd Blossom once said, or the evergreen “hating America,” “hating freedom,” “unwilling to fight because ‘freedom isn’t free’”…funny, actually, when you read this, though Podhoretz himself served for two years...yep, you know at least as many of those insults as I do, I’m sure).

    Also, if Jews generally are supposed to be so damn liberal, then explain the influence of AIPAC on Bushco if you can, Mr. Podhoretz (or this, and I'm happy to report that the sign is now gone...or, more famously, this).

    And in a New York Times Magazine interview last Sunday also tied into promoting the book, Podhoretz told us the following…

    Q: Why is it such a puzzle to you? Anti-Semitism and the Nazi Party were invented by the political right.

    A: It’s a little more complicated than that, but the rise of Hitler was certainly the culmination of a long history of hostility on the right. But there’s been a complete reversal of roles. Whereas the right was once full of anti-Semites, since the Six-Day War of 1967, the right — and especially the religious right — has become more pro-Israel, and the left — as exemplified by intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal and a magazine like The Nation — has become more hostile.
    And Michael Scheuer wrote the following about another recent Podhoretz book (Scheuer has issues, I’ll admit, but what he says about Podhoretz fits everything else I’ve read)…

    By using the term Islamofascist (Podhoretz) seeks only to block any debate on the neoconservative agenda by ensuring that its critics are identified as pro-fascist, therefore anti-American, therefore pro-Nazi, and therefore anti-Semitic. Other notable men have described this tactic as the Big Lie, and it is a neocon specialty and trademark.
    To illustrate the impact of this line of thinking by Podhoretz, I believe we only need to see how it is disseminated to the right wing “shock troops” who propagate it every possible way that they can (and why is it that Glenn Beck immediately appears when I search for related content on this – here, he claimed that stem cell research would create a new “master race,” and here, he claimed that Al Gore is trying to revive the “Hitler Youth” – didn’t know he had time for that between inventing the Internet and getting rich off the global warming “hoax”…OK, snark mode off).

    However, history tells us here that that noted “liberal” Henry Ford was an early supporter of Hitler; we also learn the following…

    During World War I, Ford wrote a series of viciously anti-Semitic articles for The Dearborn Independent, which he then published in book form as a hate-filled diatribe against Jews called "The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem," which basically blamed Jews for all of the problems of the world. The International Jew is still reprinted and used and much admired by neo-Nazis and White Supremacists even today.
    Also, this tells us that the following firms did business with Hitler: Du Pont, Dow Chemical, General Motors, Ford Motors, General Electric, and AIG (before they very nearly wrecked perhaps the world's greatest capitalist economy last year), as well as a certain Prescott Bush, whose family would bring us two presidents of course.

    And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that these individuals and companies were (and are), for the most part, intellectual “fellow travelers” of Podhoretz (with Dubya awarding Podhoretz the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004).

    And how deep do these sympathies run among right wingers? Well, this tells us that Tony Zirkle, who sought the Republican nomination for Ohio’s Second U.S. Congressional District, once addressed the American Nazi Party on Hitler’s 119th birthday, and this tells us of conservative radio host Mark Shannon, who referred to Iraq war veteran R.J. Harris as a “shaven-headed Nazi.”

    So assuming Podhoretz possessed even an ounce of self-reflection (a stretch, I’ll admit), I think it would be wise for him to reconsider his use of language against those with whom he disagrees before he tries to lecture us about “the socioeconomic institutions on whose health and vitality the traditional American system depends.”

    But then again, if he did that, he probably wouldn’t sell any more books, would he?

    Update 9/11/09: Another "N-word" smear is here (and I know what a wanker Mark Williams is from his appearances on the late, lamented radio station WWDB in these parts).

    Wednesday, September 09, 2009

    Wednesday Stuff

    This is the clueless moron who called President Obama a liar tonight during his health care address to Congress (I can't get near his web site at the moment to tell him what I think of him - since the Google search returned about 2 million hits, I'm not a bit surprised).

    You know, I don't think I ever agreed with a single word that came from the mouth of the thoroughly egotistical, insufferable, deceitful, clueless halfwit who preceded Obama, but even I knew that it was inappropriate to heckle George W. Bush in a speech. There are a lot of ways you can show disagreement while still respecting the office.

    And what's more, Joe Wilson is completely and thoroughly wrong (see the last point here - hat tip to Politico for the Factcheck link).

    If Joe Wilson had one speck of intestinal fortitude, he would apologize to the president immediately. But of course, since we're talking about the "worthy opposition," the presence of intestinal fortitude is problematic at best (I know McCain called for an apology, which is commendable though completely obvious).

    Update 1 9/10/09: He's still an asshat.

    Update 2 9/10/09: And by the way, to do a good deed in response, click here.

    Update 3 9/10/09: Here are more lowlights from this Wilson guy (what a creep...h/t Atrios).

    Update 4 9/11/09: Still more here (h/t Eschaton)...

    ...and this goes out not just to Wilson, but every one of those teabaggin' fools screaming about "gumint health care" when they should be screaming about rising premiums and copays instead (along with the Murdoch Street Journal for letting Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin try to breathe life into her "death panel" lies once more today).

    Who’s Indoctrinating Who?

    (And I also posted here – sort of.)

    For anyone wondering about the aftermath of Obama’s speech to the kids yesterday, here are some updates:

  • If Obama was really trying to indoctrinate the kids, at least in New York City, then his timing was lousy, since NYC public schools didn’t open until today (as noted here).

  • This tells us that parts of Texas, Illinois, Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri and Minnesota didn’t show the speech also (and the Omaha, Nebraska public school district decided “not to require teachers to show the speech to classes,” as noted here).

  • As noted here (closer to home), the North Penn and Central Bucks school districts didn’t carry the speech, and Pennsbury and Council Rock said the kids “wouldn’t view the speech live.”

  • And this tells us the following:

    Two House committees, the House Education and Labor Committee and the Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families demanded that the (education) department explain the use of its funds for the speech. The Select Committee chairwoman said it was outrageous for the White House to “start using precious dollars for campaigns” when “we are struggling for every silly dime we can get” for education programs.

    Of course these congressional critics weren’t talking about President Obama. They were blasting George H. W. Bush for his 1991 speech to school kids. The House Majority Leader was Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) and the House Committee chairs were Rep. William D. Ford (D-Mich.) and Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.) so said the Washington Post on October 3, 1991.
    And of course, that doesn’t even take Poppy’s predecessor into consideration (here...that "horse dookey" piled up pretty quickly from "The Gipper" on this one - probably could have looked for his "pony" in it).

  • Another thing...contrary to typical Fix Noise BS (about Obama allegedly saying that he wanted the kids to help him with his agenda, or something), Obama spokesman Bill Burton said that the speech was not altered (here - I would have had no problem with wording like that from Obama, given the past craven appeals by other Repug presidents).

  • Also, can you say “double standard,” kids? The Arlington, Texas (of course) school district didn’t allow its students to hear the Obama speech, but they’re going to bus their kids to hear Obama’s predecessor speak, as noted here (I've got some ideas as to what you can do with your "yellow rose," but I try to keep this site as G-rated as I can, so I'll keep them to myself).

    As the story tells us…

    Arlington school district spokeswoman Veronica Sopher tells the newspaper that the two events are different.
    Riiiight (kudos, though, to Dwight McKissic Sr., the senior pastor of Arlington's Cornerstone Baptist Church, who said “I do not understand the duplicity in this situation.”)

    Let’s just say that I do and I don’t and leave it at that.

  • Update 9/14/09: Wow, common sense prevails here - shocking!

  • And by the way, this Daily Kos post by diarist KathyinBlacksburg tells us about some indoctrination for real through our movies (I’d noticed some of this too when taking the young one to the flicks, but I’d never read it described so well, and she captures my sentiments pretty well also).

  • Finally, I give you the diarist Rayne at firedoglake here, who also communicates sentiments I whole heartedly endorse directed at a certain political party, as follows…

    Over the past week you've managed to label encouragement to be responsible and completely prepared to compete for future jobs as socialist. What are you telling children about capitalism?

    You've had your chance for the last decade-plus, between your former majority in Congress and your two terms in the White House. You've bankrupted us by lying us into an illegal war, by allowing greed to eat away at solid legislative protections and eventually eat away our nation's personal savings, too. You've dumbed us down with your ownership stranglehold on media, so that blabber-mouth cry-babies like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are seen as the benchmark of media success.

    And now you want kids to avoid hearing a speech encouraging their personal responsibility to obtain a good education?

    Just stop.

    And stay the hell away from my kids, you frightened, bigoted, crazy freaks.
  • To paraphrase Kid Rock as quoted by KathyinBlacksburg, “If you ain’t gonna think or educate yourself, get out of the way” (doesn’t fit too neatly into the lyrics some “thrash” rock tune or whatever, but it still works for me).
    And as far as I'm concerned, this is all the more reason for Obama to "take the Repugs to the woodshed" tonight in his speech (would go against character, I realize, but boy, it sure would be neat to see).

    Besides, this is what they do when your approval rating is still above 50 percent (in the polls I read, anyway). Imagine what they'll do if it goes below that.

    Tuesday, September 08, 2009

    Tuesday Stuff

    Oh noes, a president making a speech to our kids! Trying to INDOCTRINATE THEM! And he even mentioned "Negro" educational institutions! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!

    (shocking that The Sainted Ronnie R's nose didn't grow a few inches here, as it were)...

    ...and speaking of dead presidents, Reagan's Republican predecessor did something 35 years ago today (probably Ford's signature accomplishment, aside from helping to kick-start Rummy and Deadeye Dick's careers in public life - we'll be debating about the wisdom of it forever, I'm sure)...

    ..and why do I get the feeling that, when J.D. Mullane starts concocting propaganda writing about the New Jersey governor's race, he's going to ignore everything about Chris Christie in this ad?...

    ...and let's rock harder to get through the short week, people.

    Some Tuesday Dem Health Care Hijinks

    Despite it all, I still basically support these people, even though they’re an execrable lot at times (I also posted here, and posting may be questionable this week; I don’t know exactly if or when yet).

    This post over at The Hill tells us that 23 U.S. House Democrats have gone on record as opposing the pending health care legislation, and they are as follows…

    John Adler (N.J.)
    Jason Altmire (Pa.)
    John Barrow (Ga.)
    Dan Boren (Okla.)
    Rick Boucher (Va.)
    Allen Boyd (Fla.)
    Bobby Bright (Ala.)
    Travis Childers (Miss.)
    Jim Costa (Calif.)
    Henry Cuellar (Texas)
    Parker Griffith (Ala.)
    Frank Kratovil (Md.)
    Betsy Markey (Colo.)
    Eric Massa (N.Y.)
    Jim Matheson (Utah)
    Charlie Melancon (La.)
    Walt Minnick (Idaho)
    Tom Perriello (Va.)
    Earl Pomeroy (N.D.)
    Heath Shuler (N.C.)
    Bart Stupak (Mich.)
    John Tanner (Tenn.)
    Gene Taylor (Miss.)
    If it were in my power to personally pillory all of these characters, I would do so. However, the demands on my time and my tolerance for cowardice and stupidity only allow me to do so much, so I’ll concentrate on four from the list instead.

  • The first is John Adler of New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District.

    “But he’s been targeted by the Republicans and he’s in a tough re-election fight,” I hear you cry.

    Let me start playing the world’s smallest violin for Adler, OK?

    For the record, here is what he said when he was campaigning…

    John Adler knows what it is like to live without adequate health care. When his father suffered a debilitating series of heart attacks, his family faced what one in five Americans are facing now: limited or no health care, no income, and a pile of hospital bills. With rising food and gas prices in an increasingly unstable economy, too many Americans cannot afford to pay for their health care. Over the last six years, health insurance costs have risen four times faster than wages. Over 48 million Americans, including 1.3 million New Jerseyans, are living without health insurance. We spend so much per capita on health care; we have a right to demand better outcomes at a lower cost. John Adler supports a system that guarantees health care to all children and provides affordable health care to all who seek it.
    That’s important, sure, but what about health care for adults, John?

    (Cue the sound of crickets…)

    Oh, but Adler does tell us this…

    John supports a collaborative approach to health care reform involving employers, providers, consumer groups, carriers, and experts in economics and technology. We need to expand what works and fix what does not work. We need to make health care accessible to all who seek it, in a way that allows our businesses to thrive. The federal government must help small business afford health insurance for employees through risk pooling and catastrophic funds.
    Soo…Adler supports government help for small businesses (or so he says) – also a good thing – but not for individuals, apparently.

    Well, by opposing health care reform, Adler is hastening the following consequences (noted here by Blue Jersey)…

  • 14,600 small businesses will not get tax credits for 50% of their health insurance costs

  • 12,000 seniors will remain stuck in the Medicare Part D "donut hole"

  • 1,330 families will go bankrupt due to health care costs (2008 figure)

  • $56,000,000 in unpaid medical bills will pile up for doctors and hospitals (2008 figure)

  • 47,000 people will remain uninsured
  • As Blue Jersey states…

    This is the bill that John Adler tells us "isn't good for America." It's time for the people of the third Congressional district to tell John Adler that what isn't good for America is his work on behalf of his paymasters in the insurance, health, and pharmaceutical industries to derail real reform that millions of Americans are relying on, including tens of thousands who elected him to office last November.
    I knew Adler was in a bit of a "rookie slump," but I would say that it has taken a decided turn for the worse.

  • Next, let’s check in with House Dem Gene Taylor of Mississippi. And I realize that we’re below the Mason-Dixon line here (and we’ll stay there and venture west shortly), but I think it’s safe to say that people all over the country regardless of where they live have the same need for somewhat affordable health care that doesn’t leave them destitute.

    And as noted here, Taylor supports the following…

    Allowing the government to use its purchasing power to lower the cost of prescription drugs. (HR 684)
    But he doesn’t support “allowing the government to use its purchasing power” to establish a public option and allow competitiveness for real…

    And as noted here (Myth #11), Taylor claimed that health care reform would add $1 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years, when the CBO pointed out that it would only add $239 billion over that same period (and when measured against the estate tax cuts, Iraq war and Medicare Part D boondoggles, that’s actually chump change). And as noted here, Taylor opposed Waxman-Markey also.

    And just for good measure, Taylor opposed the “stim” here, even though it created “hundreds of summer jobs” in southern Mississippi (here).

  • Now I realize Taylor really set the “stupid” meter spinning with some of what I linked to above, but at least he didn’t call President Obama “soft on defense,” as Dan Boren of Oklahoma did here (see, Boren was mad about cuts in defense spending potentially hurting his district; I’m not unsympathetic to that, even though I personally think there’s a “greater good” involved, but my issue with Boren is over the fact that the defense budget is prepared by the defense secretary, Robert Gates…I’d like to see Gates’ reaction if Boren tried a number like that on him instead).

    And it’s hard for me to come up with a word to describe how galling it is that Boren now opposes health care given the following as noted here by Down With Tyranny!...

    (Boren) brags how he didn't vote for Obama for president and how he opposes Employee Free Choice. This year he voted against equality for women in the workplace and against hate crime legislation that would help protect gay men and women from violence and he seems to revel in distancing himself from President Obama and calling him a political liability.
    In a very real, personal way, it’s difficult for me to stomach the presence of someone like Boren in the Democratic Party (for my money, Taylor is merely clueless, but Boren seems to revel in own egotistical aversion to his own party).

  • Finally, this brings us to Bart Stupak of Michigan (heading up north once more). And it’s hard to me to take a shot at him like this, given that (as noted here) I once supported him for commerce secretary, partly for standing up to Bushie Andrew von Eschenbach of the FDA (here), and he also opposed the “Deleting Online Predators Act” introduced by PA-08’s former House rep Mikey Fitzpatrick (as I noted when it was introduced, the bill had less to do with protecting our kids than it had to do with ensuring that our libraries and schools could not be held liable in the event that something went horribly wrong).

    And also, Stupak deserves credit for responding to constituents over his position on this issue (here), even if he is demonstrably wrong.

    However, I’m highlighting Stupak because of his reliance on the same CBO estimates as other Dems, including Taylor above. And the problem with the CBO, as noted here, is as follows (and I also don’t know where Stupak is getting his claim that health care reform will cost “hundreds of thousands of jobs” – maybe Myth #10 here)…

    The CBO report, reveals once again the problems that attend letting the decision of whether or not to adopt health care reform legislation to turn on CBO ten year cost estimates. First, it is much easier to score costs than cost-savings. Legislation pending in both the House and Senate in fact includes state-of-the art proposals that many health policy experts do believe will result in real savings, as the CBO recognizes It is easy, however, to figure out how many people are under a particular multiple of the poverty level and how much it will cost to cover them through Medicaid or to provide them with insurance subsidies, i.e the cost of reform. It is much harder to figure out how much public plan choice or accountable care organizatons will save the federal government. The CBO guesses conservatively with respect to savings, and the media reports this as a "blow to reform."

    Second, the CBO only estimates financial costs and savings to the federal government. It ignores all of the other benefits (and costs) of reform. Third, CBO estimates are not real numbers, just guesses. Remember how much angst went into getting the CBO to score the Part D drug benefit to hit Congress' own cost target, how it turned out later that the Bush administration had held back on its own cost estimates which were much higher than the CBO score, and how the real cost turned out in fact, at least initially, to be much lower than the CBO score. Congress needs to be fiscally responsible, but it also needs to address the very real needs of the American people for health care relief. And the media needs to stop reporting CBO reports as though they reflect the real costs of reform.
    Also, I would trust Peter Orszag of Obama’s OMB versus Douglas Elmendorf of the CBO merely because Orszag has a better familiarity with the issue of health care.

    I guess I have a respectful disagreement with Stupak here, and I’m hoping it isn’t too late for Adler to come around also (I don’t know what it’s going to take for many Dem politicians - but not all - to get the message that the only way he or she will stand is to be true to the party’s core beliefs, particularly on this issue). However, I realize that Taylor and Boren are lost causes.

    If we deliver health reform, it will have many practical benefits for vast numbers of uninsured and under-insured individuals and families. And it will have ancillary political benefits also for those who do the right thing.

    If we get it done, then it looks like at least 23 people will have some serious ‘splainin’ to do. But if we don’t, the number will be a whole lot bigger than that.

  • Update 11/7/09: Man, I spologize to every living being in the universe for ever supporting this guy for anything based on this (h/t Atrios)...this also.

    Monday, September 07, 2009

    Monday Stuff

    Ever wonder what happens when a Dem politician talks sense to some "teabagger" who actually is interested in an intelligent conversation? Well, wonder no more - Al Franken pulls off something that I think is pretty amazing here on the health care kerfuffle (and I want to emphasize that questions and informed, grown-up dissent is a good thing; this is about as complicated an issue as there is, and hashing this stuff out is something we're supposed to do as citizens, instead of ranting about "death panels" and holding up pictures of Obama as Hitler...wish we had the entire conversation, but I think this gives you a snapshot of it anyway)...

    ...and as we bid adieu to another summer, here's some music for that occasion also (sniff).

    Labor Day Stuff

    I thought this was a nice tribute to Labor Day...

    ...and here's some music for the occasion.

    Sunday, September 06, 2009

    Sunday Stuff

    I know I've put down John Harwood of the New York Times for some ultra-wankery, but I have to give him "props" for this one (re, Obama's talk to the school kids next week)...

    ...and this was a good takedown of that idiot Bill Kristol, on Afghanistan in particular (and lawdy lawd, I never thought I would be giving props also to George Will for anything, but I have to for this).

    Update 9/8/09: And why am I not one bit surprised that Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin has signed onto Kristol's warmongering also (here)?