Friday, July 31, 2009

Headlines - Friday

Canada's own William Shatner, their ambassabor to the lower 48, does it again: his interpretation of Mooselini's Twits, er, Tweets:
The chicken hawks of the health care debate

Now that Iraqmire has been out of the headlines, nobody talks about Chicken Hawks any more (aka Armchair Warriors, Keyboard Warriors, the Chairborne Division, and some other less printable names). You remember the type: always bellowing that "We" should invade this country; "We" need to send more troops into that country.

And of course "We" always means somebody else, since these Chicken Hawks never set foot on a military base and wouldn't know a uniform if it bit 'em on the ass.

And now the health care debate has put the spotlight on a new breed of Chicken Hawk. This subspecies (the operative word here is "sub") receives a huge salary and a shitload of perks — all courtesy of YOUR tax dollars. These perks include free medical care for themselves and their families. Again, that medical care is being paid for by YOU.

But, when members of this subspecies are asked about providing similar health coverage for other American citizens, they start screaming about "Welfare!" and "Socialized Medicine!" Quick — what's wrong with this picture?

Every legislator who rants and fumes about "Socialized Medicine!" — while simultaneously receiving socialized medicine for his/her own family — is a Chicken Hawk; plus a few other names that wouldn't be suitable for a family blog.


Yessir, when you've got a good thing going and you've squeezed it dry, all you gotta do to make the money flow again is "help" the people you just took to teh cleaners. Plus you get to pretend you're a goddam hero. It's a nice perk.

This week, the Obama administration summoned mortgage company executives to Washington to demand they move faster to lower payments for homeowners sliding toward foreclosure. Treasury officials called on the companies to hire and train more people quickly to field applications for relief.

But industry insiders and legal experts say the limited capacity of mortgage companies is not the primary factor impeding the government's $75 billion program to prevent foreclosures. Instead, it is that many mortgage companies are reluctant to give strapped homeowners a break because the companies collect lucrative fees on delinquent loans.

Even when borrowers stop paying, mortgage companies that service the loans collect fees out of the proceeds when homes are ultimately sold in foreclosure. So the longer borrowers remain delinquent, the greater the opportunities for these mortgage companies to extract revenue — fees for insurance, appraisals, title searches and legal services.

We suspected all along that the reluctance of the banking industry to re-finance delinquent homeowners had something to do with $$$. We knew it when they fought tooth and nail to keep the Congress or the Obama Admin from passing laws or setting up banking regulations that would allow bankruptcy judges to reset mortgage deals in court. Now, thanks to the NYT's Peter Goodman, we know a little more about how the latest scam works.

What, did you think they were going to set it up to help you? They set it up so that yet another layer of fees can be gouged from what little they've left in your account. The Blue Dogs have, of course, helped the banksters to head off any attempt to keep them from raking off your money for the privilege of fixing the mess they made from raking off your money. It's a two-fer.

No conscience, no morals, no ethics. It's The World According to Ebeneezer Scrooge: we exist only as long as we perform the function of victim for the rapists. When we can't do that any more, when we're completely tapped out and the rich have appriopriated all our money, all the nation's resources, and all the planet's useful (read: profit-making) materials, there will no longer be any reason for our existence and we'd best die to decrease the surplus population.

You thought Dickens wrote a cautionary tale, didn't you? Turns out he wrote the Modern Banker's Ethics Handbook.


Blue dogs succeed in making reform cost more

Honest to goodness, I don't know how any self-respecting member of Congress remains a member of the Blue Dog caucus.  I know they can't all be stupid but damn, if they don't look like it when they collectively hold up health care reform to work out deals that end up making the whole thing cost more: 

Ross said that together the changes would cut costs in the $1.5 trillion bill by about $100 billion, though the new break for small businesses and the decision to allow negotiated rates in the public plan would also add significant costs, so it wasn't clear that there was any net cost savings from the deal.

4,328 soldiers killed in Iraq; 759 in Afghanistan.
And millions of Afghans and Iraqis that aren't even counted.
Looking for the health care silver lining:
Yesterday the House passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act by a vote of 283-142 to fundamentally change the way we protect the safety of our food supply. Each year, 76 million Americans are sickened from consuming contaminated food and 5,000 of these people die. In just the last few years, there has been a string of food-borne illness outbreaks in foods consumed by millions of Americans each day – from spinach to peppers to peanuts, pistachios and cookie dough. This recent series of outbreaks of food-borne illnesses has demonstrated that they are not random, unpreventable occurrences, but are due to widespread problems with our current food safety system.
I'm trying to figure out how anyone could vote against food safety, but 20 Dems and 122 Republicans did.
Cash for Clunkers is broke
No, silly, not GOP campaign contributions, this is the other Cash for Clunkers program, the one in the stimulus package that gives citizens a rebate for trading in a gas guzzling, pollution-spewing pile o' junk for a sleek new model. It was so popular that it ran through the nearly $1B program's funding in a week. It was supposed to last through November. 
Tristero: We are waaaaay beyond Orwell, people.
Some evidence of a spine
The Progressives in the House of Representatives have given notice that they are not going to let the pseudo-Republicans Blue Dogs drive the process of writing a health care bill:
In a letter to be delivered to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House health care leaders, Congressional progressives will reject a compromise Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) forged with Blue Dog Democrats to advance legislation. "We regard the agreement reached by Chairman Waxman and several Blue Dog members of the [Energy and Commerce] Committee as fundamentally unacceptable," it reads.
It's about frakking time. What the Blue Dogs want (an appropriate color for them, since they serve the interests of Blue Cross and the rest of the health insurance industry) is a bill that has as its central purpose, the enrichment of the health insurance companies. I'm cheered to see that the Progressives may (emphasis on may) be stopping their doormat routine.
Meanwhile, this guy:
... 'won't sell out the party'

He has no problem whatsoever selling out the country, as long as the GOP wins. And this is the man who's driving the "bipartisan" compromise? Hah:

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, has assured his GOP colleagues that he will not sell them out and strike a private deal with Democrats on healthcare reform, according to Republican senators.

Grassley (Iowa), who is known for having a close relationship with Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and has been negotiating behind closed doors with Democrats for weeks, made the promise to the entire Senate Republican Conference at a meeting late on Wednesday, according to several senators who attended.

Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), the senior Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, who has also participated in the negotiations, made a similar commitment. But Grassley's words had the most impact, easing the anxieties of conservatives who feared the unpredictable Iowa senator would give Democrats the crucial bipartisan support needed to pass a $1 trillion healthcare package of Democratic priorities.

Oh, thank God for that. We can all rest easy now!

Speak it, brother Sam!

Remember, docility and deference is what they want, a little stiffening of the backbone is what we need.


Demonstrating moral values, wingnut Florida legislators propose state constitutional amendment to ban federal health care:


Obama restores credibility to the Presidential Medal of Freedom and announces the coolest 16-person list ever.

Billie Jean King, Sidney Poitier, Chita Rivera, Muhammad Yunus, Harvey Milk, Desmond Tutu, and this guy:

Joe Medicine Crow joined the army, becoming a scout in the 103rd Infantry Division (United States). Whenever he went into battle, he wore his war paint beneath his uniform and a sacred eagle feather beneath his helmet. Without realizing it, Medicine Crow completed all four task required to become a war chief. He touched a living enemy soldier (1) and disarmed an enemy (2) when he turned a corner and found himself face to face with a young German soldier:
"The collision knocked the German's weapon to the ground. Mr. Crow lowered his own weapon and the two fought hand-to-hand. In the end Mr. Crow got the best of the German, grabbing him by the neck and choking him. He was going to kill the German soldier on the spot when the man screamed out "momma." Mr. Crow then let him go."

He also led a successful war party (3) and stole an enemy horse (4), making a midnight raid to steal the horses from a battalion of German officers (as he rode off, he sang a traditional Crow honor song.) He is the last member of the Crow tribe to become a war chief. Of his story, noted documentarian Ken Burns said, "The story of Joseph Medicine Crow is something I've wanted to tell for 20 years." Mr. Crow was interviewed and appeared in the 2007 Ken Burns PBS series The War, describing his World War II service.

He stole horses from the SS.  Top that, George Tenet.

The President announced today the 16 recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilan honor.  The President praised the recipients for breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens: "These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds.  Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs.  Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change.  Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way."

The awards will be presented on August 12.

Read details about all the recipients here.


Ladies and gentlemen, Doughy Pantload, Jonah Goldberg: Unmockable. Just read it. Holy shit. Holy shit.


Bacon... flavored... lip balm. Lip balm that tastes like bacon. Also available from


Adulterous moron castigates moderates as 'wishy-washy' on values

Sen. David 'diapers' Vitter, with a straight face: "I'm on the side of conservatives getting back to core conservative values." Ahem.

Vitter is an unusual standard-bearer for the "conservative values" wing of the Republican party. As Steve Benen writes, "[E]very time Vitter mentions the word 'values,' it elicits the same response: 'Aren't you that 'family-values' guy who got caught with prostitutes?'"
Maybe I missed something: did he say core values or whore values? Though I guess its the same thing if you're a Republican.
The Washington Post just now learns that Karl Rove played a more integral role than previously known in the firing of U.S. Attorneys that lead up to the U.S. Attorneys scandal.


Pay for Play.  Disgraced cradle-robbing adulterer Paul Stanley will receive $7,000 per year from Tennessee taxpayers as pension for his, ahem, service in the state senate.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Headlines - Thursday

Why we love Abu Ghraib torture - An Editorial in the Wash Whore Post Link

Excerpt: The Washington Post Editorial Page - keeper of all establishment Washington wisdom - today advocates 
that low-level CIA interrogators who went beyond John Yoo's torture guidelines, and only them, be criminally investigated and prosecuted by the Justice Department:

We reject the distorted interpretations that underpin the OLC memos and that serve as legal justification for harsh interrogation techniques that either border on or constitute torture. But those who relied on the 
memos and shaped their behavior in the good-faith belief that they were following the law should not be subject to prosecution.

That, in a nutshell, is the twisted Washington mentality when it comes to lawbreaking:  when political crimes become so blatant and extreme that they can no longer be safely excused (Watergate, Iran-contra, Abu Ghraib), then it's necessary to sacrifice some underlings who carried out the crimes by prosecuting them, but - no matter what 
else happens - the high-level political officials responsible for the crimes must be shielded from all accountability.



Buy your disappearing civil liberties coffee mug here. On the mug is written the entire Bill of Rights, but when you fill it with hot tea or coffee the parts negated by the USA Patriot Act disappear.

Be sure to check out the Global Warming mug too. The ocean starts spreading across the continent as ice caps melt and water levels rise.


Amy Goodman: Obama's Military Is Spying on US Peace Groups:


A dose of their own wingnut medicine

Birther billboardYeah, yeah, yeah. Two birther posts in two days. It may seem a little like overkill, but I've got to admit I find this all fascinating. What's especially entertaining about it is watching the conservative establishment realize what kind of nuts they have in their base. The bullheaded, willful ignorance of your average wingnut has always been something the right has counted on. From family planning to gays to economics to evolution to global warming, the right has relied on the base to be positively unbudgeable. They won't give an inch, no matter how absurd and ridiculous their position is proven to be. They're like a rock, both in their unchanging nature and their intellect. The Republican party has relied on persistently gullible fools for years and now it's finally caught up with them.
Oppressing the White Man

Kathleen Waligore

Mrs. Waligore,

In your
letter of support for Dr. David McKalip, you asked:

Why aren't more people taking to the streets [to oppose Obama] like they did in Iran?
It's an easy question to answer, really. The oppression of the white Christian man has become so pervasive, we are no longer capable of gathering up the courage needed to go to the streets.

Just look around, White people are being oppressed everywhere:
  • A policeman working for the Seattle Socialist Republic ignored a white man's pleas that he was simply exercising his constitutional rights and oppressed him for kicking a Vietnamese man.
  • The oppressors force a white man, Dr Dr. David McKalip, to resign from a heath care front group simply because he sent out a blast email featuring Obama as an African witch doctor.
  • The oppressors call a white man, Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge police, a racist after he arrests a black college professor,Henry Louis Gates Jr., for "disorderly conduct" in his own home.
  • Obama oppresses that white officer by calling the arrest, "stupid."
  • The oppressors force the Boston Police Department to suspend a proudly white officer for calling Gates a "jungle monkey."
  • Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor oppresses white Republican Senators by forcing them to ask stupid questions over and over again.
  • Black children oppress white children by swimming with them.
  • Oppressors unsuccessfully try to derail a 40-year-old woman's campaign to become chair of the Young Republicans simply because she defended racial slurs on her Facebook site.
So there's your answer. White people are so oppressed they're afraid to go to Tea Parties carrying signs comparing Obama to a monkey.

Heterosexually yours in a chaste, biblical, but very oppressed kind of way,

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

Stan Brock may be a bigger saint than Mother Teresa. But the fact that his Remote Area Medical program, originally conceived to provide volunteer medical, dental & vision care to destitute villages in the heart of the Amazon Basin, is currently devoting 60% of its mission to helping Americans is a national godsdamned disgrace:  

When notorious GOP family values sex-lizard and infamous closet case Idaho Senator Larry Craig was arrested for trolling for sex in an airport bathroom in 2007, many of us thought that ol' Wide-Stance was done for. The adage is that there are no second acts in American Politics, after all.

So imagine my delight and surprise to learn that Larry "peek-a-boo" Craig is back in business. Yes, he has started a consulting firm in Idaho, and he has four – count 'em – four clients!


Matt Taibbi on the impending death of health care reform.


This whole business, it was a litmus test for whether or not we even have a functioning government. Here we had a political majority in congress and a popular president armed with oodles of political capital and backed by the overwhelming sentiment of perhaps 150 million Americans, and this government could not bring itself to offend ten thousand insurance men in order to pass a bill that addresses an urgent emergency. What's left? Third-party politics?


Here's racist former cop Mark Fuhrman, convicted of perjury in the O.J. Simpson murder trial and found to be prejudiced toward minorities and female cops while serving as a police officer, goes on Sean Insanity:

HANNITY: What does it say about Professor Gates? Is he the one that racially profiled here?

FUHRMAN: First, there's no racial profiling. That's the most — that's the most ignorant thing I've ever heard anybody say.

HANNITY: Did he have a racial predisposition?

FUHRMAN: He couldn't have a racial predisposition unless somehow the radio gives him pictures of people before he gets there.

Fun fact: 2 years ago Fuhrman went on Hannity & Colmes and said that the "people" he "dealt with…for 20 years" will "kill somebody and go have some chicken at KFC."

And to prove there is no racism in this country....

Boston cop apologizes - he didn't mean to use 'banana-eating jungle monkey in a racist way':


Tanning beds: they're like cigarettes for your skin! [ABC News]


Give Barack Obama money, because health care reform hasn't happend yet!


So first they want money, because their massive majorities and executive positions in several thousand wings of government have been unable to finish a bill. "Your donation will help us to keep training volunteers, hiring organizers, running ads, organizing local events, bringing constituent voices straight to Congress, and make sure real-life stories are heard louder than the lobbyists' spin," this stupid evil e-mail from Hell tells us, as though we are SIX-YEAR-OLD RETARDED CHILDREN FROM OUTER SPACE.

More here.


Once-proud paper continues descent into ignominy

Marking yet another milestone in its shameful decline, the WaComPo defends its coverage of the loony-tune birther movement. The BM, as it were.

Yesterday during an online chat, Washington Poo reporter Ben Pershing was asked why "birthers" and other idiotic conspiracy theorists such as those claiming that former top Clinton White House aide Vince Foster was murdered "get play on the real media" while others such as the "9/11 Truthers" don't. Pershing:
"Perhaps because there is an actual videotape of the planes hitting the World Trade Center that billions of people around the world have seen, while there is no videotape of Obama being born in Hawaii or Vince Foster committing suicide."
There's no videotape of Jeebus being born either, idiot.
Wait, you know what I mean.

Liar, liar, pants on fire!  The lunatics who think that the health reform package will lead to euthanasia and rationing believe that because of one lie told over and over again by one liar and repeated ad nauseum until it became accepted as an unchallenged truth in some gullible minds.  How this venal, craven succubus stretched a provision that would encourage senior citizens to have living wills and advanced directives in place and reviewed every five years - on Medicare's dime - into fear mongering about forced euthanasia of the elderly is beyond our ability to comprehend, but then, we're not wingnuts, so it isn't for us to understand.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Headlines - Wednesday

William Shatner makes Sarah Palin's speech into poetry.
.....but she can't even talk
Sarah Palin shopping around talk radio show

But she's got a mind for teevee!

The trade journal Inside Radio reports: "While not exactly shopping the GOP's 2008 vice presidential candidate, sources say Palin representatives have been quietly testing the waters to see how much interest radio syndicators have for her." Perfect! This is how Palin does everything now: passive-aggressively "gauge interest" and if people don't kiss your ass enough, even though you commit to nothing, just say Fuck 'Em and move on to the next assholes who won't give you the proper respect. Then you can write a poem about it, on Twitter. [Inside Radio via Political Wire]


Swine flu may have hit Capitol Hill.
No doubt, we'll be hearing more about this. But, don't worry. Members of Congress and Capitol Hill staffers have excellent taxpayer-funded health insurance. If any of them get sick, they'll be covered.

But, maybe they should quarantine all of Congress. Then, perhaps they'd actually finish their work on health care reform so the rest of us will be covered.
Krugman: on Bill O'Reilly's latest health care inanity: "I need a drink."
Republican Christian hypocrite Sen. Paul Stanley resigns after getting caught having an affair with a young intern. Stanley's legislative proposals were largely focused on pro-business issues, but he also sponsored failed measures to ban gay couples from adopting children. He also spoke out against funding for Planned Parenthood because he said unmarried people should not have sex.

"Whatever I stood for and advocated, I still believe to be true," he said during an interview Tuesday with Memphis radio station WREC-AM. "And just because I fell far short of what God's standard was for me and my wife, doesn't mean that that standard is reduced in the least bit."
I wonder if he went on to say that Jesus died on the cross for him so he knows God has forgiven him. He does, after all, self-identify as an "evangelical Christian."
You know, even if you want to assume for a minute that one guy who was murdered by the government could absorb all the sins of mankind in perpetuity, you'd think that if these people were so aware of how much a Jewish carpenter suffered for them, they would feel a special responsibility to look at the juicy young thing in the miniskirt and then look the other way.

Oh, and another Fun Fact about Rep. Paul Stanley: He is a "financial advisor" to The Stanford Group, the company founded and headed by
disgraced and indicted financial swindler Allan Stanford. He even still boasts of this on his web site.

Remind me again why anyone takes Republicans seriously....
Wow. Like this is astonishing
I am shocked, shocked, to learn that the guy who George Bush appointed to run the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Charles Millard, became mired in allegations of influence peddling with various Wall Street banks.

And the real "no, shit, Sherlock" moment:
One of the Wall Street firms that was sucking up to Millard was Goldman Sachs. Goldman was one of the three firms to win a contract to manage money for the PBGC.

But wait, there's more!
On July 20, the agency permanently revoked the contracts with BlackRock, Goldman and JPMorgan Chase, the third winner, nullifying the process. The decision was based on questions surrounding Mr. Millard's actions during the formal bidding process. His actions have also drawn the scrutiny of Congressional investigators and the agency's inspector general.
And more!
Mr. Millard's e-mail messages show that, while the bidding was under way last fall, he also spoke with Rick Lazio, a former House Republican who is now a senior executive at JPMorgan Chase, to discuss career options.[1]
We are seriously into the "ZOMG, a Bush Administration official ran his agency with an eye towards feathering his own nest, so what's so shocking about that" territory. Between the incompetence and the corruption of the Bush Administration, you'd be excused for thinking that they did their recruiting, in part, from among those who scored 400 on their SATs and those who were from New Jersey.

Nothing newsworthy there.
Truer words have rarely been blogged.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) recently appeared on the radical right-wing radio show of Alex Jones and the two happily traded conspiracy theories, which touched on the more wackier pearls of Conservative fringe wisdom, including claims that the White house is spiking our water with drugs to sterilize the whole country and comparing Obama's policies to Hitler and Chairman Mao.

Rep. Gohmert spoke for thirty minutes and engaged in the Republican fear-mongering about the inclusion of a public option in health care reform, claiming it "is going to absolutely kill senior citizens. They'll put them on lists and force them to die early because they won't get the treatment as early as they need," said the Congressman.

Gohmert also claimed that a public health option would empower the government with "…every right to tell you what you eat, what you drink, how you exercise, where you live." Gohmert didn't stop there; he was on a roll.

The excited Congressman then tried his hardest to make an analogy between a recent bill to humanely manage the wild mustang population, entitled "Restore Our American Mustangs Act," and government run health care that would somehow force people to use contraception against their will.

"But if we're going to pay 700 million dollars like we voted last Friday to put condoms on wild horses, and I know it just says an un-permanent enhanced contraception whatever the heck that is. I guess it follows that they're eventually get around to doing it to us," said Gohmert.


From the wackos at the Family Research Council 

Just so you know what kind of shameless lies and demagoguery we're up against:


Rahm told the Blue Dogs: No leash

Maxine Waters on Rahm and the Blue Dogs:

"That may be difficult for Rahm Emanuel. Don't forget, he recruited most of them. As when he was over in the Congress, in the leadership, Rahm recruited some of the more conservative members of Congress and based on some of the information I'm getting, he told them they could vote the way they wanted to vote, that they would not interfere with what was considered their philosophy about some of these things. And now the chickens have come home to roost."


"I am a crapweasel"

Infamous astroturf lobbying firm behind new anti-health reform group:


A group called "Patients First," a project of the lobbyist-funded Americans for Prosperity, has been going around the country and hosting tea parties in opposition to "government-run health care." Last week, they held a symposium in Salisbury, MD, and warned about the dangers of "socialized" medicine. Yesterday, some individuals decided to protest outside Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil's office, even though he hasn't yet come out in favor of a public option. Protesters even hung up Kratovil in effigy:



WaPo reporter: birthers get media attention because "there is no videotape of Obama being born."



Our long months of despair and uncertainty are finally over

With nothing else pressing going on at the moment, politicians decide to take 'stupid' to the next level:

The House resolution to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hawaiian statehood -- which included language recognizing the state as President Obama's birthplace, in a none-too-subtle jab at the Birthers -- passed this evening by a 378-0 vote.

Among the Yes votes: Rep. Bill Posey (R-Hurrrrrr), the lead sponsor of the infamous "Birther Bill" to require presidential candidates to present their birth certificates, and who had previously said he wouldn't "swear on a stack of Bibles" that Obama is a natural-born American citizen.
That they even had to THINK about doing this still astounds me. I want to smack the living shit out of all of them. But that's just me.

                                                            Three-card Monte.
Jesus' General wonders if Jesus walked like an Egyptian.
TVA ignored warnings for two decades and stifled a report that could have prevented last winters massive coal ash spill  The 111-page report from TVA Inspector General Richard Moore came as officials from the nation's largest public utility made a third appearance before a congressional panel since the spill happened three days before Christmas last year.  The breach dumped 5.4 million cubic yards of toxic-laden coal ash from the earthen dams and holding ponds at TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant into the Emory River and lakeside homes has raised questions about the risks and lack of regulation of hundreds of similar sites around the country.  In the wake of the disaster, an estimated $1 billion cleanup and several pending lawsuits from residents, TVA had a vital choice to make: Either conduct a diligent review of TVA management practices as well as to conduct a technical physical examination of the failed structure and then to publish whatever was discovered to the world.- or 'circle the wagons' and spin.  They opted for the latter.
The geniuses at Fox News want to be considered analysts worth listening to - but their graphics department can't even put together a map of the middle east that has the countries labeled correctly.  At the link, you will notice that Iraq has been morphed into Egypt as if by magic.
Speculators caused criminal oil prices last summer.
"This being my last time to speak to you as your governor, I do want to tell you sincerely that I love you." Palin, sincerely lying to a crowd of Alaskans,  Link

Monday, July 27, 2009

Headlines - Monday

Republicans just can't help themselves – they can't help but make the debate over health care reform all about politics instead of policy.

First, there was SC Sen. Jim DeMint:

On a [recent] conference call with conservative activists dealing with health care reform, in what is sure to become a rallying point for the White House, Sen. Jim DeMint said "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."

And thenthere was OH Sen. George Voinovich:

Looking to score political points against President Obama makes up at least half the motivation for some Republicans' opposition to healthcare reform, one Republican senator said Wednesday.

"I think it's probably 50/50," Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) told CNBC in an interview when asked how much of the GOP's opposition to healthcare reform proposals backed by Obama is driven by a desire to "declaw" the president politically.

And OK Sen. Jim Inhofe:

And so we have all the issues on our side on this thing, and I think, you know, I just hope the President keeps talking about it, keeps trying to rush it through. We can stall it. And that's going to be a huge gain for those of us who want to turn this thing over in the 2010 election.

And now MN Rep. Michele Bachmann:

This is radicalization of America like we have never seen before in the history of our country. But don't lose heart. Because the polling data is showing — Rasmussen for instance — polling data is showing that President Obama's numbers are dropping like a rock. As a matter of fact, his polling data now says that President Obama is a mere mortal. (Laughter) And so we can take heart. That is absolutely true.

Of course, I get politicking is all they have–the GOP's health care reform plan is all of 4 pages long:

House Republicans presented a four-page outline of their health care reform plan Wednesday but said they didn't know yet how much it would cost, how they would pay for it and how many of the nearly 50 million Americans without insurance would be covered by it.

Plus, MO Rep. Roy Blunt has said that the GOP has no intention of producing an actual health care reform plan:

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said, "Our bill is never going to get to the floor, so why confuse the focus? We clearly have principles; we could have language, but why start diverting attention from this really bad piece of work they've got to whatever we're offering right now?"

The Party of No Ideas doesn't have the slightest clue  how to reform health care; all they have are political games.  Sure, they'll keep sniping at the Democratic proposal, but at least the Democrats have a proposal; at least they have a plan that will reform our broken health care system and offer nearly-universal coverage.

22,000 Americans die each year because of inadequate health care coverage. I say it's time we started lowering that number, which means we have to start implementing policies instead of just playing politics.  The GOP might be okay with 22,000 preventable deaths annually, but I'm not, and nobody else should be, either.

In spite of the above, after having admitted that the GOP only wants to kill health care, and belonging to the MAJORITY PARTY, Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) demands bipartisanship.


Oh, now I feel so reassured

Michael Hayden, former chief of the NSA and the CIA, in an op-ed piece in today's NYT, says that the warrantless wiretapping program was lawful:
There has been much controversy about the lawfulness of the program. Here I must point out that agency lawyers — career attorneys with deep expertise in the law, privacy and intelligence — assisted their professional Justice Department counterparts in their review of the program but remained comfortable throughout with the lawfulness of all aspects of the surveillance effort.
Yeah, the same career lawyers who opined that torture was legal? Those guys?

While demagoguing health care and jobless benefits, Governor Goodhair lives large off taxpayers
I would like to know what a man who lives in a house that rents for $9,900 a month, and has his every whim taken care of by chefs, stewards and housekeepers to the tune of $168,000 a year, knows about the travails of working people.

Rick "Governor Goodhair" Perry of Texas seems to think he knows enough about the subject, since he is refusing $555 million worth of federal unemployment aid. And he says he would invoke something about states' rights in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution to keep any Obama-spawned national health care plan out of Texas.

Let's go back to the lead paragraph. This money is coming from the taxpayers of this state, even as Governor Goodhair rails against the wicked largess of the federal government.

The Houston Chronicle has run a couple of insightful pieces about the propensity of the longest-serving Texas governor (who started out as an ordinary West Texas farm boy) to live very high on the hog.

Here's a link to a March commentary, and here's another link to a report published just the other day.

In addition to this brazen hypocrisy and demagoguery, there's the matter of his response to swine flu. Perry solicited federal help to avert a pandemic, right after he all but advocated Texas secession. He taketh and does not giveth when it comes to questions of ordinary Texans' day-to-day survival. But, understand that a flu pandemic wouldn't exempt Governor Goodhair's superrich friends, or even him. That federal loot certainly comes in handy during times like that.

It's a long way to go until the Texas Republican Primary in 2010, so I expect plenty more hayseed grandstanding from Perry in the meantime. Stay tuned.

I am big, it's Alaska that got small 

My favorite line from the latest million mile an hour speech by the Resignator was the one where she told people to be careful about accepting "government largess" (looks like she got out a thesaurus for once).

This from governor who to doled out checks of literally thousands to each Alaskan resident (each man, woman and child) in her few years of office.

Not to mention Alaska takes far more money from the Federal Government per capita than any state, something that hasn't ended under Sarah Palin.

But, of course, there is also insistence she's a hero for quitting the job she was elected to serve, driven out, among other things by "delicate, tiny, very talented celebrity starlets" who oppose shooting animals from helicopters. And then this bon mot to the media, ''How about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit makin' things up?'' Yes, she managed to dedicate her quitting to soldiers who cannot until their terms are over (and sometimes not even then).

Someone had the right idea:

Larry Landry, 51, of Fairbanks held up a red, white and blue sign that that read, "Quitting: the new American value." The other side read: "Thanks for the laughs."

Yes, but you know the sequel is on the way.


What the federal government is doing in Utah

utah train line

People of a libertarian bent often ask "What has the federal government ever done for you?"

Well, in the case of Utah, here's one thing that the federal government is doing: While the free market is ignoring the problem of traffic congestion and lethal air pollution around Salt Lake City, the federal government is coming in and paying for the creation of a new commuter rail line running from the center of the city to the north, out past Ogden.

The new rail line will reduce traffic and air pollution, as well as cutting energy prices, lowering our nation's dependence on fossil fuels. The construction, maintenance and operation of the line will provide lots of jobs, and improve the economy of Salt Lake City.

Well, besides that, what has the federal government ever done for anybody? Lots, actually. The new Salt Lake City commuter line is just one project among many, many projects that the free market system is too heartless, blind and just plain dense to engage in.

Why is Obama apologizing about this?

President Barack Obama isn't apologizing for promoting expanded offshore drilling. He isn't saying he's sorry for blocking protections for polar bears, or ignoring other endangered species petitions. Obama isn't expressing remorse for abandoning the roadless rule he said he'd work to uphold. Obama isn't apologizing for knocking single payer health care off the table from the start, or for keeping George W. Bush's massive spy operations against American citizens going, or for establishing kangaroo courts, or promoting imprisonment without trial or criminal charges, or for defying the Freedom of Information Act to help Bush and Cheney cover up their torture regime, or for mixing church and state through his expanded "faith-based initiatives", or for sending Justice Department lawyers to court to spread some slurs against gays and lesbians now and again.

There's a lot of awful things that Barack Obama is doing that he doesn't seem to feel the need to apologize for. So, why the hell does he have to apologize for saying that it's stupid for police officers to arrest a man seen trying to get back inside his own house after the man has shown the police officers identification proving that it's his house? 


Scott Roeder, who shot Dr. George Tiller, links himself to Operation Rescue in a jailhouse interview. Color me shocked: 

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Headlines - Sunday

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) will be running against Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) next year for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Governor Perry originally refused to accept any of the stimulus money appropriated by Congress. Now he's begging for a $170 million loan to help Texas pay unemployment insurance claims. That's pretty funny. What's even funnier is that Ms. Hutchison is criticizing Governor Perry for refusing to accept the stimulus money, even though she herself voted against the stimulus bill in the Senate. Perry and Hutchison: they make John look good.
Glenn Greenwald on tribalistic self-absorption.
Ralph Nader: Health Care Hypocrisy:

Remember, Pakistan has nukes:

The Taliban's power in Pakistan continues to grow and it now has entire towns under its control. Under US pressure, the Pakistani army is fighting the Islamists - with limited success. Pakistani intelligence says the Americans are doing more harm than good.


Obama to have Harvard professor and arresting cop to the White House for a beer?


What a great last graf in this NYT write-up of the hot mess between House Democrats today: "Racial overtones also appeared to creep into the intraparty dispute. One African-American Democrat pointed out that the seven Blue Dogs who were holding up the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee were 'a nondiverse group' of white men." 



While ordinary Americans responded to the [September 11th] attack by helping complete strangers find their friends and loved ones, standing in line for hours to give blood, and bringing food and water to rescue workers, our leaders met in the citadels of power, assessed the situation, and made the cool, calculated decision to panic.
Paul Krugman explains it all for your wingnut friends
Most of us who bother to use the grey matter in our crania already know that a "free market" approach to health care insurance can't possibly work. The insurance model presupposes that only a certain number of people will ever require a payout of any kind, and those who never file a claim pay for that. It's spreading the risk, and it works for things like car accidents (though in New Jersey, that risk is far higher because people here will risk flaming metal death rather than get to work 30 seconds later) and trees falling on your house. It can't work for medical insurance because even if you, like me, avoid doctors because you're tired of being told to lose weight with absolutely nothing out there to help you to do it no matter how little you eat and when the hell are you supposed to exercise when you are working 80 hour weeks, sooner or later you're going to need it. Everyone will eventually file a claim. And that is why a market approach can't work.

Paul Krugman, in his blog, explains it better
We expect doctors to make a profit on their work. Becoming, and remaining, a doctor requires many years of training and a great deal of expense for initial and continuing education. Doctors are being paid for their expertise. I remember back before health insurance became a topic of conversation, people used to gripe about how much money doctors made, for all that everyone wanted their daughters to marry one. But even then there was a recognition that there was a certain amount of "payback" to that. What have insurance company executives, or sales reps, or the person in the headset in the cubicle whose sole job it is to be the guardian of the company purse and make sure that if you want an expense covered, you fight good, long, and hard for it, done to earn the amount of money these companies pull in? There's no expertise required to push paper around, though I would argue that for all that we hate them, the minimum wage workers in the headsets require the most expertise, even if it's the expertise of a kind of virtual bouncer. But it isn't the kind of expertise that requires intelligence, dedication, sensitivity, and a willingness to spend one's career constantly keeping up, the way any competent doctor would and does.

The health insurance model is somewhat about spreading risk; someone who is generally healthy isn't going to use as many services as someone who isn't - and that can be as much about the genetic luck of the draw as about one's own personal choices. We all know about the guy from Supersize Me who eats Big Macs every day and he's skinny and his cholesterol is fine. We also know people who eat right, exercise, and still have high cholesterol. The 96-year-old woman who gets her hair done where I do who takes Celebrex, Actonel, a blood pressure pill, a water pill, and about five other drugs, uses more services than I do. The baby with spina bifida uses more services than she does. And so it goes. But the health insurance model falls apart when it becomes a for-profit business. Because once paying for health care becomes a for-profit model, it becomes not about paying for necessary services, it's about NOT paying for anything. The less there is on the "out" side of the ledger, the more of the "in" side of the ledger can go to profits -- and into the pockets of executives and stockholders.
funny pictures of cats with captions
Upstate NY newspaper traces racist web posts to DHS computers
On June 16, the Wayne County Star, an upstate NY newspaper, published  a story on its website about a run-in between the employees of a local farmer and federal immigration authorities who were questioning their status. The report "drew an onslaught of vitriolic postings" from commenters. Many of the replies were anonymous and often racist or attacking farmers in the region for allegedly harboring undocumented workers. The newspaper has now discovered that at least three of the comments came from computers associated with the Department of Homeland Security.
Look what the Clenis started! 

Sunday school teacher and hypocrite-at-large makes amateur porn with young intern.

Another day, another conservative, family-values Rethuglibot scandal demonstrating his superior morality and impeccable family values

In a sworn affidavit, a Tennessee state investigator has said that Stanley admitted to having a "sexual relationship" with a 22-year-old female intern working in his office, and to taking nude pictures of her in "provocative poses" in his apartment.
Just another chapter in the the never-ending parade of hypocrisy that is known as the Republican party. Look for Fox "News" to briefly mention the transgressions of Paul Stanley (D).

Fun Fact: Stanley was the sponsor of a bill last session to ban gay adoptions. Because after all, you don't want children in a home without firm, Christian family values.


It's 'we the people', not invisible sky wizards

A freakazoid Congressman thinks it's fine to force American taxpayers of every shade of belief and non-belief on the planet to pay to deface the U.S. Capitol with an endorsement of his personal superstition by spending nearly $100,000 to engrave the words "In God We Trust" and the Pledge of Allegiance in prominent spots at the Capitol Visitor Center.

Read the whole thing.


Faculty at Texas Tech organizing against Gonzalez  Faculty members at Texas Tech have begun signing a petition protesting Alberto Gonzales hiring, calling it objectionable and nothing more than a "celebrity hire" who will not be worth his $100,000 salary.


emptywheel: Crazy Pete Hoekstra's pre-emptive disavowal of S-Street:

Crazy Pete Hoekstra, who will use Dick DeVos' almost unlimited funds to run for MI Governor next year, has pre-emptively admitted, but disavowed, C Street.

Hoekstra said he stopped attending meetings about two years ago, saying he'd gotten what he needed out of his visits. While never living at C Street, he was a regular for about seven years at a dinner-fellowship every Tuesday.

"We'd fellowship, we'd pray, we'd talk about Jesus, and we'd eat," Hoekstra said. "In the headiness of Washington, D.C., it's trying to make sure you keep your head screwed on straight."

Now, frankly, I hadn't even realized Crazy Pete was a member of this group, and I could swear I've checked once (he is definitely their "type"). So it surprises me a bit to see Crazy Pete offering up his ties to the group.

Obviously, his upcoming gubernatorial run may be part of that. MI has its share of conservatives who like to advocate authoritarianism in the name of Christ (and the U.P.'s Bart Stupak is one of the Democrats who lives at C Street).  But MI still has the remnants of a sane Republican party, it has open primaries, and it has a big number of independents and Dems who would detect the stench of the group.

In other words, it's not necessarily a state where crazy religious ties helps in a state-wide election.

I'm wondering, too, whether Leisha Pickering's suit against Chip Pickering's new gal has anything to do with this. Leisha Pickering has submitted a secret diary in which Chip documented his affair, and named those members of the Family who facilitated his affair.

While former Rep. Chip Pickering of Mississippi allegedly carried on an extramarital affair with Elizabeth Creekmore Byrd, he recorded details of his exploits in a secret diary, including the dates and locations of his adulterous encounters.

Pickering, a Republican, described several assignations he had with Creekmore Byrd inside the C Street House, a Capitol Hill townhouse inhabited by an all-male group of right-wing Republican congressmen belonging to The Fellowship, an evangelical group, according to a person familiar with the diary's contents.

And according to a divorce filing by Pickering's estranged wife, Leisha, the former congressman's diary reveals the identities of several men who enabled his adulterous trysts and helped him cover his tracks.

Pickering resigned in August 2007, just more than two years ago. If the diary precipitated the divorce, then it may end about two yeas ago. 

So if someone like Crazy Pete knew that his involvement in yet another hypocritical affair might become public, he might be able to say that he ended his relationship with the group two years ago, setting up a very convenient story just in case anything became public between now and when he tried to run for Governor. 

I have no idea whether Pickering's diary time bomb is the reason for Crazy Pete's pre-emptive admission of ties with C Street. But the timing does make me want to see Pickering's diary all the more.


I would like an answer to this myself  Ben Bernanke, testifying before Congress couldn't tell Rep. Alan Grayson where half a trillion dollars went.  He knows it went to foreign central banks, but beyond that, he has no idea what those banks did with the money.


Late night John Boner: Obama wants to kill your grandma:


'Birther' legal team somewhat less than lawyers in good standing.


h/t Dick:

D'ya think the 18% of us still unemployed, and the 336,000 families that had their homes foreclosed in June, and the 125,000 families that filed for bankruptcy in June are now convinced the 'recession' is 'nearing an end'?