Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Buyer Beware...

As the health care debate continues, more fire is being directed at it from the left.  "Read the Bill" has been the rallying cry of the right and their near historic lock step negativity is now taken for granted.  As previously posted the GOP has removed themselves from the debate.  The real debate is happening in the Progressive World.  Just today via Glenn Greenwald and Bob Herbert of the New York Times, I read about the middle class trap that is being set by this legislation.  Evidently the biggest hit (again) will be on the middle class by way of the so-called "Cadillac Plans" tax.  The problem is of course that more and more of us will be swallowed up by this new tax bracket and will be forced to either pay the tax or reduce our health care benefits to avoid it.  Not a pretty scenario.

The tax would kick in on plans exceeding $23,000 annually for family coverage and $8,500 for individuals, starting in 2013. In the first year it would affect relatively few people in the middle class. But because of the steadily rising costs of health care in the U.S., more and more plans would reach the taxation threshold each year.

Within three years of its implementation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the tax would apply to nearly 20 percent of all workers with employer-provided health coverage in the country, affecting some 31 million people. Within six years, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would reach a fifth of all households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Those families can hardly be considered very wealthy.

Of course the legislation expects employers to use the savings to raise wages of workers so that they can keep their level of care.  Not so fast says Herbert:

This part of the Senate’s health benefits taxation scheme requires a monumental suspension of disbelief. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, less than 18 percent of the revenue will come from the tax itself. The rest of the $150 billion, more than 82 percent of it, will come from the income taxes paid by workers who have been given pay raises by employers (emphasis mine) who will have voluntarily handed over the money they saved by offering their employees less valuable health insurance plans.

Can you believe it?

I asked Richard Trumka, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., about this. (Labor unions are outraged at the very thought of a health benefits tax.) I had to wait for him to stop laughing to get his answer. “If you believe that,” he said, “I have some oceanfront property in southwestern Pennsylvania that I will sell you at a great price.”

Perhaps this is what Newt Gingrich has discovered in the bill that is causing him to giggle with glee and enthusiastically advise all GOPERs to run on the repeal of health care in the '10 elections.  Frankly, from the sound of this one piece in the NYT, He might have a point. So far though, Democrats can point to all the true reform contained in the bill and be equally sure that the electorate will not choose to reject it.

Can the funding problem be fixed in conference committee?  Can another way to pay for reform be found? We'll see but meanwhile, I think we have yet another forceful argument for buying the sled that will put us on the slippery slope to single-payer,  sooner the better.  The question still remains, support the current bill or kill it?  Buyer beware, but stay tuned.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Hijacking of the Health Care Debate

My first post since October... frankly I've been punked on politics for two months. It's been a welcome relief from the intensity of the two year presidential campaign and the first year of President Obama's term.  I have been following the issues and doing a lot of reading and reflecting.  I'm back, refreshed and ready for a more moderate but steady pace in the political arena.  Thanks for reading..... and now....

Look who's hijacked the health-care debate!  I'm following David Sirota (you should too) this morning and he's all a-twitter (no pun intended) about the letter written several months ago during the house debate that was signed by 60 Democrats indicating that ANY bill without a public option would be "unacceptable."  The debate is now fully engaged between the "savvy" DC elite and the progressives in the rest of the country. Firedoglake is breathing fire condemning the bill, Rahm Emanuel is breathing fire condemning FDL and the rest of progressive blogsphere, Nate Silver is councelling caution, David Sirota is saying yes....but maybe no,  and on and on.

What's happening here?  It's all progressives all the time.  Conservatives and Republicans are on the sidelines, largely by choice, with no voice in the debate.  Their political play of lock-step negativity has cast them out of the kingdom.  It's left now to progressives, liberals, blue dogs and the DC elite to hash out the health care reform into something that can reach the President's desk for a signature.

I love this kind of change.  It's what we voted for.  President Obama has a calm steady hand on the wheel, plowing slowly and inexorably down the middle of the political spectrum, allowing progressives to do what they do, while always acknowledging the other levers of power.  Brilliant!  Progressives are pissed, Conservatives are pissed, nobody is getting everything they want, again.... Brilliant!

Let the debate continue.  Poker played for the highest stakes imaginable.  Remember that the rhetoric being shouted back and forth is now between players on the same team.  Threatening to walk away is a part of the game.  Fierce debate among progressives will finally give us a realistic picture of what we are arguing about. Real issues that concern all citizens.  It's what Democrats do.  Again.... change we can believe in.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Paranoia, Murder, a DNR editorial

Just ambling along here....  admiring America where Liberal thinkers, writers and politicians are able to read, study, reflect and rejoice at the incredible array of human wisdom and knowledge at their disposal. 

I'm also reflecting on a liberal America where conservative thinkers are busy "debunking" liberalism by pointing out that the spectrum of human wisdom coming from gays, communists, black nationalists, maoists, pacifists, latinos, muslims, democrats, yankees, damn yankees, carpetbaggers, socialists, leftists, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, The News Network, ABC, NBC, and folks who sit in the same room with Bill Ayers is perverted, ill-advised, scary, and will cause the destruction of America.

Let's see.... If I were to convert to conservatism, from whom would I need to ask permission concerning what I should read, or how I should think?  Who would be able to "cleanse" my mind of it's "unclean" passion for knowledge and human wisdom?  How would I be able to protect myself from all the above mentioned villians who are fighting for my soul?

This tome is inspired by an interesting op-ed in the Daily News-Record this morning disparaging Ann Dunn for her remarks  concerning her "favorite" philosophers, Mao and Mother Theresa. (Her actual words: "two of my favorite philosophers.") Que the horns, whistles, and outrage from WingNut World.  Let's see...  set up a Strawman Argument:

Question: What would have happened to an official in the Bush Administration if he had said that Adolf Hitler was one of his favorite philosophers?

Now give the answer:

Answer: The remark would not be excused because the official claimed he was using irony. He’d either be fired or forced to resign.

Now lets use that strawman argument to say that Ms Dunn (the editor refers to her as "Madame Dunn" - we'll try and ignore the reference to prostitution) should be fired for saying the Chairman Mao and Mother Theresa were two of her "favorite philosophers" whom she quoted to make a point.

You don’t have to accept the definition of how to do things, and you don’t have to follow other people’s choices and paths, OK? It is about your choices and your path.

She quoted two famous, historical figures to make the point that conventional wisdom should not be the guiding light for deciding what to do in life.  She found these passages to be enlightening and respected the lives of Mao and Mother Theresa enough to be able to glean these "truths" from their writings. The editor, of course, has a different take. Since guilt by association along with the above strawman argument are essential to the "debunking" process, he goes all in:

Given that Mr. Obama’s appointees seem to be a cadre of communists who admire Chairman Mao and other murderers, as well as his own predilection for redistributing wealth and his nationalization of the American economy, one wonders what the future of the Republic might be.

How long will it be before Americans learn to quote Chairman Mao, that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun?”

The editor once again has seemingly enjoyed his foray into the depths of paranoia using logical fallicies, and puritanistic partisanship to attempt a smear at his political opposites.  His final comment gives me pause... I'm thinking of the tea party activists who carried loaded weapons to President Obama's speeches.  I'm also reminded of WingNut heros, Timothy McVeigh and David Koresh, all of whom embraced the idea of spilling the blood of patriots to cleanse the tree of liberty.  Does the editor understand irony?

To use the editor's own logic, shouldn't a newspaper editor who accuses the President of the United States of condoning murder and espousing Communism be summarily fired?  What use to society are perverted rantings like this?  Shouldn't a newspaper editor who even inadvertently espouses the point of view of domestic terrorists be summarily dismissed?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rachel Maddow-Rachel Maddow confronts Tim Phillips (Part 1)

This past Thursday and Friday, Tim Phillips, Director of the Americans for Prosperity, appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show. It was an indication of his willingness to engage Rachel as a conservative and a partisan opponent of almost everything Rachel advocates. His group participates in the health care debate, but does so in a way that doesn't really reveal their true agenda or for whom they speak. Rachel nails him over and over, but Mr. Phillips remains confident and uncowed. This is the way he does business. It's intentional, deliberate, and is the WingNut World's view of how to play the game of politics and power. Watch these two videos. This is the clearest and most enlightening discussion you'll see concerning the differences between the "loyal" opposition and the supporters of true health care reform.

Of course Republicans and Conservatives have the right to advocate and be involved with the political process. The problem is that they keep secrets. They hide their ambitions, their true agenda, and instead of advocating a moral or reasonable policy, they offer an advertising campaign that "Sells" a policy that advocates for it's true "secret" agenda.

Mr. Phillips refused to say who he's working for. Mr. Obama hurt himself politically because he told us (leaked is the beltway speak) that he had cut a deal with Big Pharma. Mr. Phillips UNDERSTANDS the political damage that would ensue if his "grassroots" campaign was exposed to the same spotlight. It would become known immediately that he is simply shilling for the health care insurance industry and the Republican Party's national committee. In order to win politically, he must keep his real constituency, and his true agenda secret.

They keep secrets. They use advertising campaigns to "sell" policy positions. They convince the real grassroots to advocate AGAINST their own interest.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

ACORN ... Fighting Back.

ACORN helps low and moderate income and minority citizens apply to register to vote. ACORN works to provide housing and services for lower income families including help with tax preparation, screening for eligibility for federal and state benefit programs, and first time homeowner mortgage counseling and foreclosure prevention assistance. ACORN advocates for the poor, the lame, the less fortunate, the powerless who have historically been locked out as players in our democratic system.

(Side note to the Nabobs: Registration fraud is NOT voter fraud. Voter fraud is when citizens are kept from exercising their constitutional right to vote, or when vote recounts are stopped arbitrarily to favor one party or the other. Voter fraud is when a pseudo-mob storms the recount site and stops the vote from being counted.)

All that, of course, makes it the lethal enemy of the Nattering Nabobs of Negativity, for whom, real fraud (the famous videos in question were created and were shown ILLEGALLY) corporate corruption, and leaders who indulge in prostitution and international "affairs" are solemnly and completely forgiven. Left wing, "liberal goodness on steroids" is the natural enemy of the "One Party, One State" religionists who would rejoice at the fall of the "leftist regime."

My Knuckle Dragging Neanderthal friends who beat themselves with the chains of partisanship, who actively engage in defeating any and all threats from the left, who rejoice at the failures of the President of the United States, who openly cheer when America loses, and who are now lamenting the lack of coverage by the News media might want to stop yelling so loudly.

The videos were fraudulent, misleading, and were taken without consent. The Website owner the first showed them as well as the videographer who took them are now charged in civil court with breaking a Maryland law that requires that both parties of a video taped conversation to consent to it's being shown on the air. The ACORN suit seeks to make public all the video taken by Mr. O'Keefe, including the dozens of meetings from which they were thrown out of the offices as frauds.

Ben Smith at Politico writes, via Kate Harding:

"I'm not sure of the P.R. value of suing without challenging the substance of the videos,"

....but my (Kate Harding's) guess is, the suit itself isn't about PR. It's about holding people accountable for these efforts to play gotcha with national organizations that are the targets of conservative ire, by turning over countless rocks until they find an employee stupid or evil enough to do something unforgivable and/or illegal. Yes, those employees should be rooted out and shitcanned — something ACORN doesn't dispute — but the practice of recording the bad apples in order to, as Schwartz puts it, "destroy an organization whose principal purpose is to help poor people" is pure sleaze. And where it's illegal sleaze, it should be challenged. (emphasis mine)

Yes, lets have some more coverage of this story of "sleaze." Lets hear more about an organization that has been under vicious attacks from the right, simply because it exists and because it serves a constituency that helps preserve the balance in American Democracy.

Yes, lets hear more about FAKE prostitution rings and imaginary issues, but even more light should be shined on the very real stories about prostitution, entrapment, fraud, and corruption accepted as normal strategies used by our Regressive friends to attempt to destroy their political opponents.

Yes, more coverage please!

Friday, September 18, 2009


Seems as though we on the left will have to deal with yet another well-excecuted hatchet job on a well-intentioned if imperfect non-profit advocate of the poor and middle class. As ACORN slips into the background having been supposedly exposed as a stealth advocate of child prostitution, a couple of things come to mind.

The hatchet job was accomplished by a fellow, James O'Keefe, who has a history of souped up attacks on Liberal institutions, his last target was Planned Parenthood. The idea of child prostitution, dressing outlandishly as a pimp, and bringing along a pretend prostitute was Mr. O'Keefe's idea and was so abhorrent to the folks in the Philly office that they called the police and filed a report. Gives new meaning to how "low can you go" and is yet another example of no holds barred political bomb throwing... an equally detestable manifestation of the human spirit. GOPERS next time you complain about "entrapment" remember that you aren't against it, you just against it when it's someone on YOUR side.

Mr. O'Keefe and companion had spent months poking around ACORN offices trying to get the answers they were looking for and finally found, alas, a couple of willing dupes. We're finding now that in at least one of the incidents, the ACORN staffer thought the two con artists were so silly looking and were asking questions so off the wall that she played right along with them, giving answers just as outlandish and silly... not a great use of good judgement.

ACORN has fired or suspended all the suspected staffers and has required all employees to attend in-service training emphasizing their primary mission as well as the tell-tale signs involved with getting snookered.

Mr. O'Keefe's comments after the fact included a response to the question, "Are you really a pimp?" His response, "No, I'm the whitest guy around here!" Racist or not?

It is reprehensible and horrible that any ACORN employee would ever advocate the dark deeds initiated by the actors engaged in this political stunt and there is and will be Hell to pay for ACORN. Meanwhile:

The vast majority of ACORN employees roll up their sleeves day-in and day-out, working long hours on behalf of the low- and moderate- income people in this country. They do good work -- most of it work that the government can't, or simply won't, do.

And that's why we need you to contact your members of Congress and ask that they stand with ACORN now. Join with us.

  • ACORN has helped nearly 50,000 homeowners access foreclosure prevention services since the start of our nation's foreclosure crisis;
  • ACORN played an integral role in the passage of 6 statewide minimum wage increases in Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, and California and the City of San Francisco -- increases that set the stage for the national increase in 2007; all told over $2 billion put directly in the pocket of low-wage workers.
  • ACORN fought hard against predatory lending for a decade, winning legislation in Massachusetts, New Mexico, California, New York and New Jersey, and changes in the behavior of some corporations that led to over $6 billion of equity staying in the hands of working families.

You and I know this isn't work that Big Business, Big Media, or Big Politics are particularly fond of. But that's not why ACORN exists. ACORN exists to make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans -- often poor, often black or brown, often immigrants -- and to make sure that all of us have a seat at the table and a voice in the voting booth.

And you can bet that's what this is REALLY about.

Bertha Lewis
ACORN CEO and Chief Organizer


Crossposted at CobaltVA

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Who's a Fascist?

Crossposted at CobaltVA

On September 8, Mr. Eugene C. Buie contributed an opinion piece to the DNR. It was a recitation of the the Glen Beck talking points with a bit of Hannity and a pinch of wingnuttery. When the noise in the echo chamber leaks out into the real world, it scatters and becomes nonsensical. The arguments are circular, the slurs are meaningless and without context and the writer will no doubt curse and sputter and return to WingNut World from whence he came. Come out, come out wherever you are!

IT IS UNFORTUNATE for our nation, that is, for all of us, that some Americans are not interested in how the nation is governed as long as they can selfishly enjoy the benefits and conveniences of a communal society without assuming any of the responsibilities.

It is also unfortunate that almost half of the American population lives, by choice or necessity, at the expense of the other half. Many mistakenly consider this an entitlement due them by government, when in reality it is their neighbors who pay the taxes that fund unemployment, welfare, etc.

On a football team, the most talented runner is nowhere without good blocking. In a symphony orchestra, the conductor is nowhere without the concertmaster AND a strong, able supporting cast of fine musicians. In any team sport, the "go it alone" player can never be successful. The individual sports, however, are the place for strong individuals to shine.

There's room for both. We'll need the strong independent players. We'll need the team players. It's the team that's being denied the chance for success in the model outlined by the writer. It's the whole idea that Mr. Obama is trying to set up his team for success that our loyal opposition is shouting so vociferously against.

Mr. Buie says that half of the nation lives "at the expense" of the other half? Would it also be true that the other half also lives "at the expense" of the other half? Does the running back "live at the expense" of the linemen? How exactly does Mr. Buie propose to lift the "other half" out of their supposed dependency? What should be done with the homeless, those who live in poverty, those who depend on each other in their communities for their livelihood and quality of life? Is governance a team sport or an individual sport?

Historically, self-centered attitudes such as these represent a form of social regression that eventually results in the loss of individual freedom and the demise of a way of life Americans have shared in a representative democracy. Today, the American way of life established by our nation’s founders is being changed, as promised, by President Obama. As the Democrats in Congress amuse themselves with unrestrained deficit spending, the White House is quietly reforming the administrative structures of government and preparing to change American society.

Deliberately attempting to create conditions for the citizens of the United States to fail is the saddest, most tragic aspect to the current political climate. Denying health care, rationing services, bankrupting families, making life and death decisions for patients regardless of their needs.... it's all happening NOW, led by the insurance companies. Redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich is immoral and completely contrary to the idea of a successful civilization. It's never worked anywhere it's been tried. It's already happened. The loyal opposition is scrapping for more.

Denying students the opportunities to succeed by "starving the beast," allowing infrastructure to crumble, requiring the health and well-being of our citizens to be bought and sold as a commodity decreases the quality of life in America. The wanton destruction and obstruction of civil debate achieves nothing, helps no one, and does nothing to improve lives.

With the president’s appointment of dozens of “czars,” his program of social change will be centered in the White House, outside of congressional oversight. It will include, but not be limited to: government control of the economy, energy and health care; a government monopoly on information and education; mobilization of a “civilian national security force” and the condemnation of all opposition.

These programs promise the unlimited demands of an ideology that claims to be an agent of history some believe will transform the world. It is what Benito Mussolini called “stato totalitario,” a state that has total control. This totalitarian state is the polar opposite of American representative democracy.

Mr. Buie makes no reasoned or helpful arguments. He speaks of totalitarianism... He compares the current administrative program to fascism. Maybe he's right. Mr. Obama is the leader of a nation, Mr. Mussolini was the leader of a nation... therefore, Mr. Obama is a fascist? Would that mean Mr. Bush, Mr. Clinton, et al.. were all fascists? Does Mr. Buie even know what fascism is? or for that matter socialism? Does he know that they exist at the OPPOSITE ends of the political spectrum?

If Mr. Buie feels that those in the "wrong half" should simply "be able to see what is at stake," and improve their lot accordingly? Does he share any insight into how that might happen? More tax cuts? Less government? Take away the social safety net? Build more prisons for the poor and the debtors? Maybe start another war?

Enabled by a Congress controlled by Democrats pledged to establish what begins to look like a totalitarian state, the Obama administration is manipulating momentary setbacks in the economy (we have experienced these before) into inflated crises and using these crises to justify catastrophic government responses. Watch as the H1N1 flu virus becomes the next crisis. Allowed to continue, these totalitarian-like responses will result in the effective economic oppression of us all (not just the rich) through taxation, rising costs of living from energy to commodities to health care, and unprecedented government takeovers throughout the private sector.

What kind of magical powers has Mr. Buie endowed Mr. Obama with? Can he really manipulate a pandemic? Can he really manipulate the economy to suit his nefarious political agenda? Do you mean that Mr. Bush's non-response to the Katrina disaster was a proper "cleansing" of that great American city?

It is pathetic indeed that even Congress does not seem to realize the potential consequences of the legislation they are putting in motion. Neither do they seem to recognize the transfer of power that is taking place as White House czars seize control of governance from the hands of our elected representatives, who incidentally eagerly fund this transfer of power.

Additionally, it is hard to believe that the American people, even those who elected this president and Congress, are willing to submit themselves to the changes now being planned in this Obama program of social transformation. Some Democrats have said that the American people don’t care. But I want to hope that people do care.

Whether Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, people should be able to see what is at stake right now for their future. There are changes we need to make, but being transformed into a quasi-totalitarian state is not one of them. People need to speak up and take responsibility for the future of our nation.

Wait, you mean Mr. Obama is actually pursuing an aggressive political agenda? Change We Can Believe In? You mean that he's actually governing, using the power of the executive to create programs that actually have a positive effect on the nation's citizens? Czars? Would you rather refer to them as committee chairmen or CEO's? Administrators maybe?

Mr. Buie, do not be afraid of what well-structured and organized governance looks like. This is government that WORKS. Remember that the government is "for the people and by the people," and works for US. The Government of the United States of America IS "We the People." For better or worse, we elect 'em and we tell them what to do. We told Mr. Obama to take charge. He is.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thirst for Power. GOP and the Extreme Right

Cross posted at CobaltVa

I find it very disturbing that the GOP has become a simple Get Obama Party. Their seeming willingness to ride the coat tails of the "crazies" back into power would seem at first glance to be political suicide, but they see a path to power. I'm just scanning the blogs this morning and I'm amazed at what is going on back in the home districts.

Here's Congressman Wally Herger of California at a town meeting in Redding, California courtesy of reporter, Paul Boerger:

“Our democracy has never been threatened as much as it is today,”

Rep. Herger is speaking in code. "Democracy is being threatened" because to Rep. Herger and his conservative brethren, democracy is all about preserving business interests, corporate profit, the private sector, and unregulated, laissez-faire free markets. He truly feels that his idea of democracy is being threatened. He's absolutely telling the truth if you can read the code.

“Health care costs have soared, but I will oppose a public option with everything I have.”

Here he acknowledges that health care costs have soared but offers as solutions only that we should let the private insurance companies sort it out. He offered some of his ideas about health care reform, again from Paul Boerger reporter for the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers:

After denouncing the Obama plan to wild cheering, Herger offered a few solutions of his own including opening up competition among private health care companies by forcing companies to sell policies nationwide rather than just within individual states, tort reform to bring down malpractice costs and “risk pools like automobile companies” for those with preexisting conditions who Herger conceded are unable to get coverage. He also suggested “bargaining groups and associations” could help bring down costs.

These "solutions" are free market solutions that must be foisted upon the insurance companies. They haven't done any of these things yet and aren't likely to unless their feet are held to the fire. They are going to be very unwilling to give up their huge profits unless they are forced to. Mr. Herger's precious free market principles are at stake. Would Congressman Herger be willing to use the power of the federal government to force the health care industry to kowtow to his suggestions for reform? How would that sound given his following statement?

“There are things we can do with health care, as long as the government is not running it,”

Would Mr. Herger and his colleagues simply send go to their friends in the health care business and ask nicely that they should make "risk pools" and increase competition among themselves? How has that worked so far? In my reading of the way conservative governance works, it's the other way around. The health care industries go to the Congress critters with cash in hand and ask for what they need in order to increase profits.

The real motives of Mr. Herger became apparent later in the meeting. Forced to be unspecific in his proposals, and refusing to "out" himself as a corporate carpetbagger he turned to the "crazies" in the audience and called on a supporter.

One speaker said he could trace his ancestors back to the Mayflower and said “they did not arrive holding their hands out for help. I am a proud right wing terrorist,” he declared to cheers.

Herger had found his voice. No mention of the issues at hand, no indication of any awareness of what the debate over health care is about, just simple ignorance and fear. No need to explore the Herger's desire to hand over the care of American citizens to profit takers and carpetbaggers. Ignore all that and embrace the "crazies!"

“Amen, God bless you,” Herger said with a broad smile. “There is a great American.”
There's hope for reform. Even with all of this demagoguery going on, at the end of his town meeting Rep. Herger said this:

“They can vote in anything they want, the only thing standing between you and them voting in anything they want is you."

Is this a plea to progressives and liberals to put him out of his misery? It's convoluted, but try and follow this: Mr. Herger and his ilk are hamstrung, tied firmly to the stake of corporate oligarchy. They are completely bought and paid for, they've sold their souls and are pleading for help. The "crazies" are helping them in an inverted sort of way by showing us what America would be like if we didn't jump in and save him. It's as if he knows his ideas are empty and can't or won't do anything to change the status quo.

Personally, I think he simply can't sell his ideology so getting cool with the crazies is the way to go. Keep everyone's eyes on the smoke and ignore what's going on in the boardroom and the lobby. Go talk about crazy and we'll keep on scooping up the cash. Can't change, don't want to change, we're talking the American way here!

Or perhaps it's a dare. "Democrats, put up or shut up. You won the election, now fix this. We're playing our role, now you play yours Dammit!"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Anthony Weiner is a Health Care Hero

Crossposted at CobaltVa.

Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York got on Morning Joe Tuesday and gave the clearest, most concise position on the health care debate that has yet reached the public airwaves. He is an advocate of Single-Payer and before you dismiss him as a leftist kook (wait, why would anyone on this blog do THAT?) hear him out. He is the only person to have ever rendered Joe Scarborough SPEECHLESS!

Leslie Savan over at The Nation blogs today:

Something rather remarkable happened on Tuesday's Morning Joe. Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York pointed out that the health insurance industry has no clothes, and Joe Scarborough, after first trying to spin it some gossamer threads, broke down and said, By God, you're right, this emperor is a naked money-making machine!

Well, he didn't use those exact words, but Joe did seem to finally get that America has granted insurance companies the right to create bottlenecks in the financing of healthcare in order to extract profits out of the suffering of ordinary people--without providing any actual healthcare whatsoever.

My personal hope is that this Rep. from New York gets air time, gets passed around the internet, comes back on MSNBC many, many times and makes his arguments again, clearly, rationally, and with common sense. This is the type of argument I've been waiting to hear in the news. This is the type of argument that will win the day for this historic legislation that needs to be passed for the benefit of the citizens of our great country.

The essence of his arguments:

Weiner, who recently warned that President Obama could lose as many as 100 votes on a health bill if a public option is not included, really wants single payer--Medicare for all Americans is his goal. What a crazy, way-out, reckless notion, Joe went into their encounter believing. But Weiner asked some simple, direct questions that no politician, much less Obama or HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, has managed to pose:

What is an insurance company? They don't do a single check-up. They don't do a single exam, they don't perform an operation. Medicare has a 4 percent overhead rate. The real question is why do we have a private plan?
Indeed! What are the insurance companies bringing to health care? Why is our health considered a commodity? Why is Medicare so popular? Why do we include insurance companies in the loop when their best interests are served by denying health care to their consumers?

You go Anthony! I'm looking forward to hearing your voice on the air and in the blogs over and over until health care reform is done.

This is a must see:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Don't you Mess with Public Radio

Crossposted at CobaltVA

We are live blogging - sort of - today's anti-Public Radio rant from the editor of the Daily News Record's op-ed section. His radical views display his fear of "leftists," and his irrational fear that somehow, leftists will destroy his beloved conservative talk radio. He therefore projects all of that fear on his ideological opponents accusing them and specifically, Mark Lloyd, the new head of the FCC, of conspiring to destroy THEIR ideological opponents. What is the face of the Right Wing? You get a snapshot of the "right wing mind" in this letter this morning.

I've picked out the relevant portions of the letter. You should really read the whole thing along with the comment section HERE. Away we go.....

"...appointing Mark Lloyd, a veteran “newsman” and professional leftist, to this position (FCC director) is extremely troubling on many fronts."

What is a professional leftist anyway? Is there a job with money? Where can I go to get one? Mr. Editor, you are marking your territory on the extreme right. Prejudicial and bigoted.... what else is new?

"Mr. Lloyd is an enemy of free speech. In a nutshell, Mr. Lloyd thinks that commercial radio stations should pay heavy fees, or fines, if you will, to help fund left wing radio."

Are you talking about NPR, PRI.... you know "Public Radio?" Our own WMRA (insert YOUR local public radio station here) with talk shows that cover events in a serious reasoned manner, giving us a depth of information that is not to be found in other media markets? What could possibly be wrong with that? How in the world is rational argument a threat to free speech? Your ideological bigotry is showing....
I'm a subscriber. I put my money where my mouth is. OH..... I get it...... It's not Profitable! and... it's not loud, outrageous, biased, and silly! Great! To each his own.

Give me more of that "left wing" radio. I'll send them another check today. Thanks for the inspiration.

As for the "fines".... what you don't want conservative talk radio to pay taxes like the rest of us? They should somehow be immune? I know they live in their own little world, but they are sponsored in the USA.... you remember.....we the people?

“operating in the public interest,” which is code for “operating in the left-wing interest.”

Talking in code are we? Nice of you to recognize "code." Your coded message today, ("left wing radio," "professional left winger," "his lunacy,"diversity chief.") shows a level of paranoia that is rare even for the DNR editorial staff.

You've jumped from an appointment of a Democrat to the head of the FCC to shutting down wingnut radio, a pretty far leap even for a wingnut. It's paranoid ranting. Hate Public Radio if you wish, but never fear that conservative talk radio will disappear. Liberals do not wish for the destruction of their opponents. That's your territory. Heck, without wingnuts to cuss, being a liberal would be no fun at all! :)

"Again, when a man of Mr. Lloyd’s ideological feather says “fair and balanced,” what he really means is one-sided, that side being the left side."

Nope. You've got that wrong. It really means, "Again, when a person of the editor's ideological feather says “fair and balanced,” what he really means is one-sided, that side being the right side."

You are simply criticizing yourself sir.

"Mr. Lloyd’s real object, of course, is shutting down conservative radio. Why would he want to do that?"

Exactly. Liberals generally encourage opposing viewpoints and rational debate. Shutting down conservative radio is YOUR idea not his. The only time you EVER hear of shutting stuff down is in ..... you guessed it... conservative radio! Strawman alert!

"Because conservative talk shows have millions of listeners and make hundreds of millions of dollars in profits,"

Yup. Smells but it sells. Capitalism at it's finest. TV loves a ruckus and that's what you get 24/7. The intelligencia meanwhile? Let's talk... :)

"...while few listen to liberal radio and it never makes a profit."

NPR is a non-profit organization... dummy. It's directly supported by it's listeners and the rest of the slackers who only contribute their tax dollars... It only seems like a few, cause they are never raisin' a ruckus or attracting attention by raising their voice needlessly.

"Americans don’t want to hear leftist lamentations or progressivist protest."

Nope. There are legions of fans that love Prairie Home Companion, Morning Edition, Acoustic Cafe, Talk of the Nation, Car Talk, ....... more than you'll ever know, and we ain't goin' anywhere! And besides, Liberals and Progressives are Americans too, thank you very much...

"Mr. Lloyd doesn’t like that, and neither do his allies at Media Matters and the other institutions of organized subversion."

There's that bigoted, paranoid code again. Are you fearful of mean ole Mr. Lloyd? Afraid that he'll take his super armies and crush wingnut radio?.... oops sorry, I got caught up in the paranoia again.... now.. let's talk a little about organized subversion.... would that be radical wingnuttery you are proposing? Sounds like paranoid projection again.

"But having leftist ideologues such as Mr. Lloyd determining the public interest is more than a little scary."

Ok we get it. You and your ideological brethren are shivering in the corner in fetal position, petrified with fear that your beloved wingnut radio will be destroyed by the fearsome armies of the night..... need a blankey?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Just Once...Please?

Crossposted at CobaltVA

First a quote from today's Kos entry entitled: Saturday hate mail-apalooza

I just heard a bit of very disturbing news. It seems the Republican leadership in the House and Senate are secretly working on legislation that will force the US government to end all government run health care. If passed, the bill will require all Medicare seniors to move to private insurance within six months. Any citizen over 70 who is suffering from a terminal illness will be required to provide medical justification to determine if they will be eligible for private insurance coverage. The VA hospital system would have one year to shut their doors. Medicaid payments would cease within one year as well.

The American people need to be warned of this impending danger so they can contact their elected officials before it's too late. The Republicans in congress want to end all government run health care. Seniors and vets will suffer if they get their way.

Kos Reply: "Difference is, of course, that we're reality based. If we were like Republicans, we'd be forwarding this to everyone we knew."

Excellent point. Makes being in the reality based world harder and harder all the time..... Can't we just send out one pandering, false, conspiracy theory to frighten everyone?? Please??

As the Rich Get Richer....

Crossposted at CobaltVA

The new numbers: 1% = 49.7% This is the number that reflects the nation's economic boom of the Bush years. The first number represents the top percentile of income earners in the United States. The second number represents the percentage of the total income generated in the United States that went to that top percentile.

This is our number, you know... the "rest of us." 99% = 50.3%

A new report by Emmanuel Saez, economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley and reported in the Huffpo lays out the news in pure unvarnished and unspun numbers.

As of 2007, the top decile of American earners, Saez writes, pulled in 49.7 percent of total wages, a level that's "higher than any other year since 1917 and even surpasses 1928, the peak of stock market bubble in the 'roaring" 1920s.'"

Beginning in the economic expansion of the early 1990s, Saez argues, the economy began to favor the top tiers American earners, but much of the country missed was left behind. "The top 1 percent incomes captured half of the overall economic growth over the period 1993-2007," Saes writes.

Despite a rising stock market, largely growing employment and a historic housing boom things were not nearly so rosy for the rest of U.S. workers. This trend, according to Saez, only accelerated during the George W. Bush's tenure as President:

"...while the bottom 99 percent of incomes grew at a solid pace of 2.7 percent per year from 1993-2000, these incomes grew only 1.3 percent per year from 2002-2007. As a result, in the economic expansion of 2002-2007, the top 1 percent captured two thirds of income growth."

What does it mean? How is this one issue affecting our economy? the health care debate? the political power struggle between the conservatives and the "silent majority?"

One side is about creation and conservation of wealth. Republicans were in charge as this study was taking place. The report begins in the early nineties and was updated in this new report to cover the years between 2002 and 2007, the Bush Years. The health care debate is currently dominated by the wealth preservers. Protecting the profits of the health care industry and the wealth of the corporate elite in control is the primary task of the current minority party. Who woulda guessed?

The curious think is how effectively they've built a rabid base of peasants who are very much in the lower 99% and who have been completely convinced that their best interests are represented by the corporate elite. Stoking anger and fear, wrapping it up in the cloak of "freedom" and "rights," they've managed to dominate the media coverage and give us the impression that health care reform is in danger.


The nature of the President and his supporters is simply not as volatile. Basically, he's saying, "Calm down, everyone. Show some patience! This is a huge problem demanding the best of our leaders AND the best from our citizens." I thank President Obama for leaving all the histronics and staging to the Republicans. By showing leadership, calmness, and most of all, maturity he's simply not giving in to all the hysteria being generated by the evermore desperate Wealthy Elite.

I thank President Obama for demanding the best from us. Every time he shows his confidence and poise in public he exposes the blatant political aspirations of the disloyal opposition. Every time the deliberate hypocrisy of the political right wing is exposed his arguments become stronger. The Wealth Preservers depend on their rabid, angry base for support. It doesn't stay angry and rabid if someone takes away their fear, talks to them truthfully and forcefully. Obama is working the country, talking to the people, bypassing the corporate elite. He's taken the best shot from the "No-sers," showing us that it's time for straight talk and reform.

"I know there's plenty of real concern and skepticism out there. I know that in a time of economic upheaval, the idea of change can be unsettling, and I know that there are folks who believe that government should have no role at all in solving our problems."

(There are)... stories that aren't being told -- stories of a health care system that works better for the insurance industry than it does for the American people.

The history is clear -- every time we come close to passing health insurance reform, the special interests with a stake in the status quo use their influence and political allies to scare and mislead the American people."

Calmness, truthfullness, leadership. Thank you Mr. Obama.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Talking Points and Lies

The Daily News Record is being an obedient member of the conservative echo chamber this morning as they write about The Public Option in an op ed.
...the “public option,” essentially a federally operated health-insurance program, is a first step. Mr. Obama says he wants government in the insurance business basically to keep private insurers “honest.” Maybe so, at the beginning. What it will do, over time, is push private insurance out of business — and those it serves into Government Care.

As is often the case, no intelligent or reasoned arguments are presented, but only fallacies and lies based on marketing strategies and poll generated talking points. A rebuttal:

The editor is echoing the marketing strategy of the strident, regressive opposition by lying about government running health care, about the private insurance industries being put out of business, and about something called an all encompassing "public option." Playing on the fears of the public by lying about issues that effect all of us is a time worn but effective strategy for fighting against legislation. In this case the fear card is being played strongly and stridently by the Republicans.

No one has proposed that the government take over the health care. Every proposal has included the participation of private insurance companies. The talking point is a lie.

Some kind of public option would not put the private insurers out of business, not even the most public option of all, the single payer. Ask FedEx and UPS if the public option for postal service has put them out of business. Ask the private schools that exist around the nation at all levels if the public option has put them out of business. The talking point is a lie.

No one really knows the details, the ins and outs, the guts of what is even being proposed in the health care reforms now being debated in Congress. There are many versions being discussed, compromises being made, and deals cut as we speak and the bills aren't even out of committee yet. This would seem to expose yet again the Republican strategy of killing health care before it even gets an intelligent debate. Senator DeMint is ready to nuke the whole thing just to beat down the President. HIS talking point is that it's the President who is "playing politics" with health care. Amusing....

The editor is lying about health care reform. He's repeating the famous Frank Luntz talking points given to the political opponents of President Obama that were formulated based on polling data concerning words or phrases that would support their opposition. Poll takers were asked what they feared most about the coming health care reform. The opposition then took these poll tested talking points and ignored any reasoned arguments they might have been able to formulate to fight health care reform. Luntz himself tells Republicans to avoid projecting a policy plan and instead focus on language that: “captures not just what Americans want to see but exactly what they want to hear.”

Any time you hear a Republican mention their support of Reform, they are lying. Anytime you hear the mention of "government run health care" it's a lie. When you hear horror stories about denied coverage, rationing, waiting in line, or denial of treatment it's a lie, unless the current system of health care is being described.

Source, source, source, source.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Payola and the Demise of Health Care Reform

Crossposted at CobaltVA and Docudarma.

The best solution to health care and one that has a large amount of support among the U.S. public is the simplest, the single-payer option. Single-payer puts the insurance companies out of business, period. No longer would health care be rationed by cost, services and treatments denied, permission to see doctors of choice denied. Dr. Don McCanne, a retired family physician now serving as Senior Health Policy Fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program sums up in a recent debate held on the blog at American Health Care

Our private plans are based on a business model designed to ensure success in the health care marketplace. Success is defined by the medical loss ratio, spending the least they can on health care. Much of their profound administrative waste is due to their elaborate efforts to avoid paying for care.

“The plethora of private plans merely demonstrates the insurers’ innovations in restricting benefits – preventing payment for non-covered services; increasing deductibles and other forms of cost sharing – erecting financial barriers to care; contracting with limited lists of providers – penalizing patients who need care outside of the restricted lists; selective marketing to healthy populations – especially the healthy workforce and their young, healthy families; using underwriting and rescissions to avoid paying for essential care; and on and on. These are great business tools, ensuring success of the insurers, but they are anathema to the more egalitarian goals of social insurance systems. They defeat the insurance function of pooling risk by segregating out the low-cost healthy into their own market, and dumping the high-cost sick onto taxpayer funded programs."

But even more importantly in the single-payer system, no longer would the health and well being of Americans on health care be determined by profiteers. Because single-payer is non-profit, the high cost of health care profits would no longer be a leading cause of bankrupcy. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, via Truth Dig:
According to a recent Harvard Medical School study, “62.1 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical.” Many of these people are not from the 50 million or so uninsured Americans, but from among the estimated 25 million who are underinsured. That a person can have health insurance and still be driven to bankruptcy over hospital bills and pharmaceutical costs is a national disgrace.

Health Care would become an investment in the American work force that would pay and enormous dividend to the nation's economy. American workers stand to gain, Health Care oligarchs stand to lose.

The model is in place, and it works world-wide; Medicare. If you have a choice to buy a service or a product at a 30% reduction in cost or pay full cost what would you do? How about if you are told that the cheaper option provides better service, more efficiently delivered and guarantees that the service will not be denied for pre-existing conditions?

For the consumer, it's a no-brainer. For the profiteers, it's the death sentence. That's a tough pill to swallow, but that's the state of health care situation in America right now. Yet, single-payer hasn't even been allowed through the door. Once again, we are being told that the health care companies are "too big to fail." President Obama has already taken single-payer off the table. Too much payola is at stake now.
The Washington Post reported this week that almost 30 members of Congress who hold key committee memberships that will impact the health-care debate also have significant investments in health-care companies.

Max Baucus, the Democrat from Montana who is Obama's point man is one of those Congress members bought and paid for by the private insurance companies. Amy Goodman:
"Mike Dennison, a reporter for The Montana Standard, found that Baucus has received more campaign money from health- and insurance-industry interests than any other member of Congress. Dennison told me, “We’re talking about the health-insurance industry and ... HMOs, hospitals, physicians, pharmaceutical companies—that’s probably where the bulk of his money has come from ... out of about almost $15 million he’s raised in the last six years, both for his campaign and his leadership PAC, 23 percent of that came from insurance and health interests ... which we believe is probably more than any other member has received.”

His hearings in Congress were disrupted recently by single-payer advocates who were allowed in the room, but were denied any input or even to participate in the round-table discussion. One by one they stood up, spoke, were arrested and led out of the room. Amy Goodman again:
"Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairs the Senate Finance Committee, key to any health-care reform. Baucus has held several high-profile Senate committee hearings on health care, with no single-payer advocates. They were present, though, until Baucus had them arrested—for standing up one by one in the audience, protesting the exclusion of a single-payer representative on the panel."
The reason single-payer is off the table is payola, pure and simple. The insurance companies are locked in. They control the debate, they control Congress, and they've forced President Obama, the great consensus seeker, to acknowledge that single-payer is no longer on the table.

Pardon me, but DAMMITT. (Two T's for emphasis!) Obama is what passes for a single-payer advocate in today's toxic political atmosphere and he can't even talk about it. Grass roots is all we have left. This writer will be sending letters to editors all over the state and to his Congressmen demanding that single-payer become the nation's health care system.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bumblin', Stumblin' - The Bush Legacy

Crossposted at Cobalt VA

Glenn Greenwald posted a blog today expressing grave concerns about President Obama's "embrace of the Bush terrorist policies." I share his concern, but I'm more concerned with President Obama's ability to clean up the mess and return the "secrets" game to the shadows where it rightfully belongs. Read Glenn's post, then my response. Let the conversation ensue....

My Response:

Wasn't the elemental mistake of the Bush Administration simply that they proceeded to play the "secrets" game that had gone on for decades concerning our enemies, with simplistic, bumbling, ideological, ineptitude? Black sites, secret interrogations, illegal invasions of foreign countries, back room maneuvers supported by the Office of Legal Affairs have been a part of our government since World War II. Even before WWII, some conspiracy theorists point to the suspicious activity of Roosevelt in dealing with China and Japan as the match that lit our involvement in "The War to End all Wars."

Isn't Obama simply trying to return the "secrets" game to the shadows where it rightfully belongs? Isn't part of his appeal his ability to calm the waters of partisan passion and simply remind us the art of governance includes the nasty underbelly of covert operations and legally questionable practices of internal and international intrigue?

That being said, it is also true that any time a President overstepped his parameters and got caught with his hands in the cookie jar of these shady legal practices, the price paid has been severe. Nixon was disgraced, Reagan was at least diminished in stature, Kennedy, Johnson, and Ford were all caught up in various levels of disclosure that cost them dearly in the political arena.

Eisenhower avoided exposure, as did Roosevelt and Truman to a large degree and their historical reputations have largely been preserved. They played well.

I return to the initial tragedy. The Bush Administration didn't know or didn't care about the history, technique, and rules of the "secrets" game. The rumbling, bumbling, and stumbling of the Cheney/Bush cabal has cost us our political discourse and the ability of our politicians to serve the people both economically and with national security.

My estimation of President Obama has been largely positive. I'm outraged that he has embraced the Bush policies of dealing with terrorism. With resignation I also understand that he's dealing with the whole issue by defining for us what Bush did that was actually OK and separating that from the administrative hackery that got us here. In short, he's making everyone uncomfortable. The Left is mad, the Right is mad, I'm mad, you're mad..... you get the picture. That, in a nutshell means he's being brilliant. He's putting the country, warts and all, first.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Trash talk from Right, Hate from the Left?

There's been a lot of trash talk from the Daily News Record editorial board this week. It's strange and absurd and pitiful all at the same time. I remember these debates in 1967 and 68. Re-hashing the 60's seems to be almost as much fun as re-fighting the Civil War (another blog entry on another day). One simply can't parse this a point at a time.... you need the whole thing from the Horse's Mouth:

More Hate From The Left
Posted 2009-04-22

Speaking on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olberman” the other day, comedienne Janeane Garofalo unbosomed herself of an Orwellian “Two Minutes Hate” against Americans who participated in the nationwide Tea Party on April 15. They are, said she, racists:

“It’s not about bashing Democrats, it’s not about taxes, they have no idea what the Boston Tea Party was about, they don’t know their history at all. This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up.”

The evidence for this calumny is, of course, lacking, which is why it is a calumny.

Continuing the defamation, the erstwhile psycho-neurologist said conservatives, unlike “reasonable” people, are congenitally deranged because their “limbic brain” is too large. Undoubtedly, Ms. Garofalo means “reasonable” like herself or Weathermen terrorist Bill Ayers, but in any event, she added that because most of the protestors were white racists, any blacks who participated suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, whereby a kidnap victim sympathizes with his captors.

Add Ms. Garofalo’s ad hominem attack to last week’s campus shout-down of a former congressman at the University of North Carolina, and you see the genuine left for what it is: nasty, intolerant and totalitarian to its core.

My response:

RE: More Hate From The Left

These two silly editorials (including yesterday's screed about UNC campus looneys) are just too funny. Complaining about an entertainer being outlandish and over the top? This is amazing! Who does the EdiPublican think this is, Rush Limbaugh? I know for sure now that Mr. Editogus has surely acknowledged the "Boss as his Leader. He thinks Garofalo is the leader of the Democratic Party???? To be taken seriously???? ROFL!

Whining about old 60's radicals? Calling us names is he? Well I think he's just "One Toke Over the Line," off the deep end, irrelevant, old, washed up, tired, and still fighting the battles of the 60's. Does this sad sack understand that comedians, radio talk show hosts, and even pundits are SUPPOSED to say and write outlandish things! They are the court jesters, the "truth sayers" (Yes, even Rush speaks "truthfully" for ditto heads, racists, and homophobes everywhere.)

It's taking it all so seriously that ends up being so silly! Refusal to acknowledge the lack of sane leadership and the total abandonment of the Republican Party and the "conservative movement" to its most extreme elements, leads to poignant, pouty, pitiful, prose like this.

Since this piece was predicated on the Tancredo presentation at UNC... (the unamed congressman in the Op-Ed) I'll just post this here, not to defend one group of radicals over the other, but to simply suggest that the EdiRadical is an extremist railing against extremists. It's boring, its irrelevant, it's whining, and much more like an attempt at wingnut propaganda than journalism.

Now, about Tancredo.... Yup the source is from that bastion of Liberal Righteousness, the Rolling Stone. All Hail Rock and Roll!!

Tom Tancredo - "the undisputed king of Republican Bigotry" supported by Gordon Baum, head of the Council for Conservative Citizens, a "pro-white" group that lauds Tancredo for protecting America from a "full-scale invasion" of Latin immigrants.

"Elected to the House in 1998, Tancredo has not only led the fight to deport every undocumented worker in America -- a proposal that would cost at least $200 billion -- but has called for halting all immigration, legal and otherwise. In one unforgettable move, Tancredo wanted to deport the family of an undocumented high school boy who was profiled in The Denver Post for his perfect grades.

The grandson of Italian immigrants, Tancredo traces his interest in politics to the eighth grade, when he played Fidel Castro in a class assignment. He urges America to reject "the siren song of multiculturalism" and depicts Islam as "a civilization bent on destroying ours." In September, when Pope Benedict XVI sparked riots by condemning Islam as "evil," Tancredo urged him not to apologize. Even the right has noted his unbridled looniness on the subject: In July, when Tancredo proposed that America respond to any future terrorist attack by bombing Mecca and other holy sites, the National Review came to an unavoidable conclusion: "Tom Tancredo is an idiot."

....and an extremist and GREAT bait for anyone who cares about humane treatment of immigrants, civil and human rights and of course campus radicals of every stripe.

Mr. Ediwhiner, puhleezz stop doing this:

"you see the genuine left for what it is: nasty, intolerant and totalitarian to its core."


"What happened at UNC is what normal, patriotic Americans, particularly conservatives who try to express themselves, are up against: raw hatred, intolerance and violence."

You are describing yourself.... you see... it makes perfect sense this way too:

"you see the genuine right for what it is: nasty, intolerant and totalitarian to its core."


"What happened at UNC is what normal, patriotic Americans, particularly liberals who try to express themselves, are up against: raw hatred, intolerance and violence."

Go to your room.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stand By Me...

Playing For Change | Song Around The World "Stand By Me" from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

This video came through my inbox this morning. It's fantastic and evidently one of several more to come. I just preordered the DVD and got a T-Shirt. It's time to do something positive for the world, the economy, and for ourselves. Check this out!!

From the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music", comes the first of many "songs around the world" being released independently. Featured is a cover of the Ben E. King classic by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it traveled the globe. This video and "Don't Worry" are available now at iTunes. Other songs such as "One Love" will be released as digital downloads soon; followed by the film soundtrack and DVD in stores on 4.28.09.

Order the "Stand By Me" and "Don't Worry" now at iTunes!

Sign up at for updates and exclusive content.

Join the Playing for Change Online Street Team

Join the Movement to help build schools, connect students, and inspire communities in need through music.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The GOP in a Corner

Speaking of the party faithful:

The GOP both in Virginia and nationwide has very effectively boxed itself into a corner. It's overall strategy is to never, never, never, give in to Democrats. This universal opposition creates all kinds of problems and has made it much harder to be relevant in any meaningful way.

The GOP finds itself solidly aligned FOR the wealthy, FOR the Wall Street robber barons, FOR the use of torture, and FOR the destruction of our environment. Use it or lose it is the battle cry. GOP spokesman, Newt Gingrich, just today has called for the preservation of the nuclear arsenal, effectively declaring support FOR Mutually Assured Destruction. Armageddon anyone? Get real. He's also accused Mr. Obama of waging war against the church, along with the usual accusations of being a socialist/marxist... again, get real.

The close association with the religious right pits the GOP AGAINST single mothers, pregnant women, teachers, civil servants, unions, gays and lesbians, all ethnic groups that aren't white and blue-eyed, liberals, moderates, libertarians, atheists, and scientists. (to name a few)

A blistering report in Rolling Stone this month lays out the bare details (pun intended) of the sex and drug scandals in the Bush Dept. of Interior. It also lays out in detail the incredible corruption that makes the Teapot Dome scandal look like child's play. The GOP is FOR corporate coziness with the very departments of government that are responsible for protecting valuable national resources.

Is there any political room to maneuver in this tiny little corner they've gotten into? I'm sure they think so. My question for Republicans is simply this..... Are you Republicans first or Americans first?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Claptrap or Opinion, Journalism or Propaganda?

The President is away, it's a slow news day so this might be a good time for the following observation:

The DNR editorial page is filled today with the silliest wingnuttery of recent memory. "Ain't you got somethin' better to do" comes to mind. We have xenophobia, tax cuts for the wealthy, school vouchers, Obama's citizenship, and religious revivalism. Is there really nothing else of note going on in the world that just might be important enough for a thoughtful, well reasoned editorial.

I'm eternally grateful for the occasional writings of E. J. Dionne simply as a contrast to the Righteous and Rowdy Ranting of Michelle Malkin or the Listless and Liberty-less Libertarianism of Walter Williams. Mixed in with the pompous, elitist sneering of Charles Krauthammer, one would think that there just might be a bit of right wing prejudice in the editorial pages... amusing.

Here's an open invitation to the editorial staff to consider a few liberal voices of reason from the Creator's Syndicate that might offer a bit of balance to the OP-ED page:

Tony Blankely - Washington Times and the Right of "Left, Right and Center" a popular podcast from KCRW in San Francisco.

Joe Conason - writes a weekly column for Very insightful and leftward leaning. Good fodder for conversation. Heck, I might just buy a paper to read his pieces!

Glenn Greenwald - ahem... a left wingnut, but a constitutional lawyer and columnist who offers a nice counterweight to the screaming talking heads on the right. Mr. Editor, do you have the courage to put leftwing claptrap on the op-ed page? This would be a perfectly opposite opinion to the right wing claptrap that appears EVERY day!

Robert Scheer - Editor of and former columnist of the LA Times. Here's a conservative liberal voice. (No that's not an oxymoron.) He's an old time liberal with some serious pragmatic bonifides.

I'm calling you out Mr. Editor. Do you have any journalistic courage? Are you afraid of the liberal point of view? Are you afraid that your conservative readers will boycott your paper and you'll lose readership? More importantly, are you more interested in journalism or propaganda?

I'm pulling for you my friend. Wouldn't you like to see some serious debate?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Makin' it up...."Be Afraid" cont....

The Budget passed both the Senate and the House. NOT ONE Republican voted for the bill in the House OR Senate. Is there a crisis? What's going on?

It's easy to rail in fear against the unknown. All those numbers projected out for 10 years? They are just "makin' 'em up." All the graphs and charts you've seen are simply extrapolated from current information. It may or may not happen that way. Could get better, could get worse. Things change, for certain.... It's easy to simply say, "This is "devastating." Got any particulars? I've heard that it's "child abuse," "generational theft," "return to big government," "socialism," and on and on.... Amusing..... Particularly amusing is Gov. Sanford's use of the child abuse accusation for not accepting the stimulus money. The consequences? Crumbling schools, teacher layoffs, less health care for.... children and this ISN'T child abuse? Seriously amusing.....

It's easy to wail about spending, but let's hear some criticism of what the spending is FOR. I think you'll hear a lot of folks saying, "I'm against spending, but it's not wasteful if it's for the good cause in MY district." Our own congressman, Bob Goodlatte, openly states that until "everyone quits earmarking" he will continue to make sure that his patrons get their "fair share." That's what's happening now with the budget, and exactly what happened with the stimulus bill. I think you'll hear more about the Democratic "agenda" with the main criticism being that it's not the Republican "agenda." Big whup......

It's almost as if to say "Everyone stop spending!... except me." Bush doubled the deficit when we borrowed the money, cut taxes, and went to war. He had the support of 80% of America behind him. It was a CRISIS! We supported President Bush and told him to do what he had to do to solve it. For a brief moment in history, we all pulled together. THIS is the way to respond to a crisis.

Check the news. By their actions and words, GOPers don't even recognize that we are IN crisis. Their sole answer is "Just put us back in charge and everything will be ok." The very idea of pulling together with Democrats is out of the question. Bipartisanship means ALL the Republicans and as many Democrats as they can gather. Today's budget voting is but the latest example.

Some questions... Is it more important to be a Republican, or an American? Is it more important to work FOR the country in a crisis, or to DEFEAT Democrats? Are we IN a crisis?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

An Interesting Conversation

The conversation below started on a thread that cast doubt on President Obama's citizen ship. As these threads often do, the subject began to turn towards competence, and the current spending level requests by the administration. The right wing has found an attack point regarding the amount of spending deemed necessary by the administration. Welder is one of the most ardent of the wingnut bloggers on the DNR site. He often cites conspiracy theorists and right wing websites along with the occasional reference to ABC or Fox News. His view that Clinton is responsible for 9/11 and his absolute certainty that WMD WERE found in Iraq are just some of the position he holds onto with the ardent ferver of a true believer. The conversation is quite entertaining, read on.....

Welder: (about Obama's spending)

Now we get to see hypocracy in action :) At least Bush got a liberated Iraq for our money.


Welduh'HO.... I guess we did get a liberated Iraq for the money Bush spent. But, my friend you should always check the label to find out what is really in the product.


Iraq at 6: Cost of war: 656 billion in funds allocated (National Priorities Project)

Documented civilian deaths: between 91,121 and 99,500 (

Estimated Iraqi deaths due to the US invasion: 1,320,110 (, based on data from Iraq Body Count and a 2006 Lancet study).

Iraqi civilians killed in February 2009: 346 (including 11 children)

US casualties: 4,259 deaths; 31,131 wounded in action.

US troops deployed to Iraq since 2003: 513,000; deployed more than once; 197,000; deployed tree or more times; 53,000.

US soldiers who committed suicide in January 2009; as many as 24 the highest monthly total since the Army started keeping those stats in 1980.

Iraqi unemployment rate: 18 percent; for men ages 15-29: 28 percent.

Iraqi female labor force participation: 17 percent.

Journalists killed in Iraq: 138

Estimated number of Iraqi's displaced since 2003: 5 million, nearly 20 percent of the population.

Iraqi prison population: 15,100 in US custody, 35,000 in Iraqi custody.

Average hours of electricity per day in Iraq: 13.3

Casualties in the latest car bombing in Bagdad: 16 and counting.


Re: 44 - And you Blu'HO, neglected to mentioned the millions that aren't being treated to rape rooms, torture chambers and mass graves. And here's some perspective to the scam site you referenced (they're making it up). All P'HO's (Welder's pet name for President Obama) getting us for doubling the national debt is a people's paradise for you neo-Marxists and assorted welfare slugs. At least we'll get some entertainment value out of it... initially :)


Weldonut, It is thee who is making it up. My bogus websites are better than your bogus websites.... Besides, you can't prove that any of the facts I've cited are false. I'll take websites that view the world through a window rather than websites that view the world through the distorted looking glass of ideology.

As to mass graves and torture chambers, I guess you like it that we've taken them over and have simply expanded them. I can only hope that you are correct regarding the rape rooms, tho... considering the hundreds of photos of the abuses at Abu Ghraib, we can't be sure.


Re: 46 - The onus is on you, Blu'HO to prove that your scam site is accurate, I'm merely providing some equally persuasive counter perspective. The contention that the IBC scam site is objective is laughable on it's face, a major Shannon mini-me fail for you, Blu :) Here's a thing or two of which we can be sure...

But IBC is +not+ “a group that monitors Iraqi deaths”; it is a group that monitors media reports of Iraqi deaths. And IBC does not monitor “Iraqi deaths”; it monitors media reports of Iraqi +civilian+ deaths as a result of violence. IBC does not monitor reports of war-related deaths due to disease, lack of food, water and medicine, and so on. IBC also does not collect reports of Iraqi military deaths.

Because IBC’s “irrefutable baseline” figure refers only to violent deaths of civilians reported by the media, the Financial Times in effect challenged that baseline by asserting that 70,000 Iraqis - i.e., civilians and military - had died. Readers might well have construed that some of these “Iraqi deaths” must have been military deaths, for example, and therefore will have come away from the article believing that many less than 70,000 civilians had died from violence.
In other words, they're guessing.

And here's something else not made up.


Weldimmer, there is no onus on me, (brush, brush). My sites are exactly what they are. So are yours. Measuring media reports is but one method used to gather data. You've tried to cast doubt on just one, but have offered no proof OR data to support your blurred ideological viewpoint.

Data, Data, count 'em, measure 'em. Knock on doors, do the research. There are lots of numbers that I've provided that have been researched carefully and are indeed true and proven. Can you only offer perspective? and conjecture? Are you happy that you can whittle one of the numbers down to just 70,000?

What does your label look like? Show me your version of the true costs of war.


Re: 48 - BluRag, you cited the scam site initially, that's what puts the anus on you. And I didn't just cast doubt; I nuked your scam numbers.

The true cost of the war? We don't know how many Iraqis were murdered by the bad guys. We don't know how many were killed by the good guys. We don't know how many AQI members were killed, or how many Iranian insurgents met Allah at our hands or those of the Iraqi Army. What we do know is the number of American lives lost and the fact that their sacrifice freed millions. (But not in your name, of course) We know that we sustained no attacks on our soil since the Clinton facilitated horror of 9-11 because of our Bush's aggressive hunting of Al Qaeda. We also know that the Dems did everything they could to undermine the morale of the troops and prematurely declare the war lost. And we know that if we had followed the advice of P'HO the Accidental, we would have indeed left Iraq in defeat.
And we know the cost of turning a blind eye to evil.


WeldoragonBlueRager.... I cited some numbers, some measurable facts, all verified by assorted means of data gathering. You've gone all ideological on me and pretty much made the case that SOMETHING horrible was going on that stopped when we invaded Iraq, but not sure what, but here's what you've heard.... Hearsay, conjecture, guesswork is not very good research.

We know that lots of Iraqi's were displaced and died. I've stated my number based on research, knocking on doors and examining media reports "boots on the ground" you've called it. What's your number? Where's your proof that my numbers are wrong?

The anus reference is ... messy.... PEE YOO..... Nuked? Gee thanks.... Yelling really loud and blowing stuff up is just noisy, not a very good argument. You can do better.


Re: 50 - Your (or the scam site's) numbers are extrapolated so I guess there's as much possibility of them being right as there are of me winning tonight's lottery but point taken. Supply me with the number of Iraqi's murdered by Al Q and the verifiable evidence and we'll chat further. The scam site is self invalidating, so my work is simplicity itself. Extrapolation and guesswork might equal "measurable facts" in your world, but, not so much in mine.

The anus thing was a typo, my bad.


RE: 51 Actually the Lancet study was peer reviewed, boots on the ground, knocking on doors and asking specific questions to real people. The final numbers were extrapolated because a complete census wasn't possible in the climate of wartime. The same folks are now on the ground talking to some of those refugees in Syria gathering gathering measurable data.
"Extrapolation and guesswork might equal "measurable facts" in your world, but, not so much in mine."

Weldontcount, you surely recognize the value of extrapolation in the study of statistics. The numbers on your chart showing the projected spending on President Obama's 10-year plan were extrapolated. You've extrapolated your information concerning WMD = mustard gas AND all that BS about Clinton and 9/11 from "research" you've found. Heck, imaginative extrapolation is what conspiracy theorists DO!

As for the number of Iraqi's killed by Al Q... I'm pretty sure those dead folks were included in the overall numbers and must be counted as part of the cost of war.

A typo? whew! My faith in you is restored.

Welder: Re: 54 - Ah, post 55, particularly appropriate today as your nuking continues :)
They guessed...
Verifiable fact. (linked to the hidden report acknowledging the presence of mustard gas canisters of pre-world war II vintage)
Verifiable fact. (link to the Mintner theory that Clinton is responsible for 9/11)
Extrapolation based on Democrat numbers. (link to the chart above)


Ok. So if I'm nuked, how does that prove my numbers are incorrect? All of those are scam websites stretching reality, only proving MY point that your filter is an ideologue's looking glass. Perhaps you've found nuggets of truth, but you still haven't acknowledged the cost of the war and you still justify it by pointing to ...... mustard gas? That is what we got for our money? Remember, the numbers I've cited are a statistical picture of those "liberated" Iraqi's.

Democrat or Republican, extrapolation is HOW things are counted. As you say, extrapolation is the process of making stuff up. I prefer to call it the science of statistics. At least there's a chance of finding out what is really going on.

You are getting yourself wiggled into a little tiny foxhole there bro'. I can understand why you are trying to "nuke" the conversation.

***Here we leave the conversation.***

This pattern of discussion is typical of the liberal/conservative debate. The underlying dynamic at work here is the prime directive of the conservative wingnut, "Defeat and Destroy Democrats." They can get into some seriously wierd, logically tangled postions because they have the burden of twisting reality to fit their "truth."

A liberal suffers no such burden and is free to gather and ponder information from any and all sources. It's the difference between looking through Alice's Looking Glass, and looking through a picture window. This conversation with Welder is not finished and may never be. I'm publishing it here to shine light on the manner and style of political debate.

****The end of the conversation****


Re: 56 - We'll let the peeps decide; enjoy your glow :)


Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!

Happy Birthday dear Welder!

Happy Birthday to you!

All the best bro'HO! :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

EFCA and.... Hannity?

An interesting note in the HuffPo today. Seems that in an interview with Fox News Political analyist, Bob Beckel, Mr. Hannity revealed that he didn't even know what health insurance he had.

HANNITY: I'm on the Fox Plan and the AFTRA Plan. I have no clue what insurance I have. I don't have a special health care plan! I have the same plan that you do.
Beckel then admitted that the same plan (Fox Plan) Hannity had was denied to him because of a preexisting condition.

The interesting part of this exchange is the news that Hannity is on the AFTRA Plan. Jason Linkins:

By the way, the AFTRA Plan? That refers to the health benefits extended by being a member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a union. It's a pretty special health care plan, for millionaire infotainers.

Hannity is a member of a Union. He benefits from a rather luxurious health care package as a result. Let's watch and see what he and his cohorts at Fox News say about the coming EFCA debate. Will he fight for or against American workers rights to share the same benefits?

I'm watching this issue closely. I'm curious to see if Congressional Democrats can summon the political will to defend the working class or if the give in yet again to wealthy corporate autocrats. Stay tuned indeed.....