Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Republican BS

Scott Brown and Mitt Romney are mad as hell about Obama's healthcare plan and they are letting the world know it. Romney has been using the bill as one key element in his bid for the 2012 Republican nomination saying Obama is "succumb[ing] to the lowest denominator of incumbent power: justifying the means by extolling the ends" (tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/03/obama-my-health-care-bill-is-just-like-romneys.php?ref=fpb). This seems ironic given the bill's close proximity to his own; but why bother with history when it's inconvenient? Republicans are particularly adept at this historical amnesia and have really made it into a near art form (see posts below). War is peace, freedom is slavery and the truth is generally just an inconvenient barrier to  And for once the media is kind of doing it's job, reporting on the similarity between the two bills: www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/03/26/us/politics/AP-US-Romney-Health-Care.html.

Brown, on the other hand, at least doesn't have that bill to erase from his resume. But like most Republicans, he is either ignorant or forgetful about their use of reconciliation in the past -- arguing in an oped in the Boston Globe, "After my election, Washington politicians began an aggressive push to bend the rules and force their unpopular health care bill on an unwilling nation" (www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2010/03/30/the_health_care_fight_is_not_over?mode=PF). The other problem with this statement is the Gallop poll right after the signing of the bill that found more support than opposition to it (I am, of course, a little annoyed that the first poll to show this reality was after the fact, not before).

He goes on to argue, "They went into secret negotiations to make up their own rules, and eventually found a way to circumvent the will of the people by using the reconciliation process to ram through their health care bill. For the last year, the American people have been shaking their heads at the closed-door meetings, sweetheart deals, and special carve-outs. It has been a very ugly process, and caused many Americans to lose faith in their elected officials in Washington." Um, huh, I think the American people lost faith in their elected officials way before this bill and, in fact, those "closed-door meetings, sweetheart deals and special carve-outs" were the norm during the Bush years and certainly did not make up the bulk of a bill that insurance and healthcare companies fought tooth and nail against.

His next argument is about cost: "When this legislation is fully implemented, the real cost to taxpayers is $2.6 trillion over years." Um, I guess he didn't read the CBO report that the bill would actually reduce the deficit substantially over the next 20 years (www.cbo.gov/publications/collections/health.cfm). He finishes the editorial by claiming that Americans don't want the liberal agenda but jobs. I agree, but what exactly are Republicans proposing to lower unemployment besides more tax cuts; at the same time they complain about the deficit? Nothing really. In fact, there is substantial evidence to support the claim that Obama's stimulus package and Geitner's bailout of the banks helped stave off an even worse economy and might lead us toward a recovery in the future.

Republicans seem to have little to offer except obstructionism and a critique of the rancid environment in DC that they helped create. But by telling lies and half-truths, rewriting history and calling for simple, practical solutions to problems without telling us what those solutions are (simple or not), they sound like the party to fix the problems they are creating. It is a brilliant strategy that might just restore them to power; and might just send the country into a even steeper nose dive from which we will never recover. Congratulations!

To Terrorize or Not To Terrorize

The papers are full of the radical Christian group that planned to kill an police officer and then others at his funeral: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/29/AR2010032901541_pf.html. (Yet they are not, of course, terrorists - news.firedoglake.com/2010/03/29/ceci-nest-pas-un-terroris). This follows the arrest of Norman Leboon for threatening Rep. Eric Canter, among many others: www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/29/norman-leboon-arrested-th_n_517246.html. And there are the various incarnations of the Tea Party spitting at politicians, calling them racial epithets and worse. The question is why are these white people so angry? And about what? Obviously the healthcare reform is the latest source of their ire, but conservative white males have been angry for a long time. Some call Obama a Nazi; failing to recognize the irony. Some seem to have no idea that facism and socialism are not the same thing. Others seem to hate Obama because he is Black -- though they won't admit it. What's odd is how few seem to hate corporations. They are angry at the "illegal" immigrants that are taking their jobs, the poor who they believe they are paying taxes to support, the government for challenging their "freedom" and anything that has the word "tax" attached to it. But these are just the outlets for their anger. One wonders what the source is. Here I have to ponder whether it is the falling state of the white male in America. Most know that they will some day become the minority, and this scares them. Women are outperforming them in educational achievement, Blacks are theoretically taking their jobs through affirmative action (though this doesn't really exist anymore). Gays are trying to destroy our Christian roots. And Mexicans and those from South America are changing the color and language of America. Really it appears that ressentiment (ala Nietzsche) is at the heart of the matter. What's odd is that classic populism attacking the rich and corporations seems to have failed in this case. The years of Reagan and other conservatives shifting the source of the blame for the upward movement of wealth and increasing unemployment have worked and it is hard to break through the hatred that has built against those who have destroyed the American dream. One wonders if this trend can be changed; or if this group is large enough to really matter in the long run . . .

Monday, March 22, 2010

Healthcare Passes . . . Media Buys Some Tea

So Obama appears to have passed a bill that some have been hankering for over 70 years. It is a major achievement, especially when one party is content trying to make sure government doesn't do anything before November and a series of corporations all interested in keeping the system as it is have been throwing a lot of money and influence around to back that position up. Sure the bill is flawed and doesn't include the public option, but it insures 32 million more Americans, cheapens drug costs for seniors, disallows insurance companies from not covering or dropping insurers with preexisting conditions, allows small businesses to pool together for better rates, and though conservatives have been challenging the CBO numbers -- the bill is predicted to CUT the deficit by $138 billion over the next 10 years and $1.2 trillion in the following 10 years while saving 2.5 million jobs  Yet the media appears to have bought the GOP story that this will hurt the democrats. "Democrats could pay a price," warns the Washington Post while the New York Times tells us buyer beware: "A Major Victory, but at What Cost?" The LA Times adds "After healthcare vote, Democrats turn to damage control" and Politico claims Democrats "face a potentially devastating backlash in the midterms." And that's just the "liberal press." William Kristol does a special for the Weekly Standard claiming "This year Obama has handed Republicans a one-item Contract with America, an item a majority of the public supports—opposition to, and therefore repeal of, Obamacare." Even before the bill is signed, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other party leaders are clammering for repeal and 12 states are already lining up to challenge it as unconstitutional: www.businessweek.com/news/2010-03-22/twelve-states-plan-lawsuit-over-obama-health-overhaul-update2-.html. David Frum offers a more realistic position though, arguing repeal is all but impossible given what the bill offers and the legislative hurdles. In the end, the bill might hurt Democrats, but given that it will be paid for predominantly by insurance and pharmaceutical companies and the wealthiest Americans and will start us on the path to addressing one of the great dangers facing America in the future, I think it is a step in the right direction. It is also nice to see Democrats actually stand up for something collectively. Could this be the beginning of better days for the party, or the beginning of the end of their short reign? Stay tuned . . .

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tea Party Trolls Torment

Not that it is really surprising to people who are paying attention, but the mainstream media has finally gotten in on critiquing the group for their innate racism and general lunacy (www.salon.com/news/healthcare_reform/index.html?story=/opinion/walsh/politics/2010/03/20/tea_party_racism) -- after an event yesterday where they yelled the "n" word at a series of Black politicians, spit on one, called Barney Frank a "faggot" and walked around toting signs that said they would kill those who vote for the healthcare bill: http://thinkprogress.org/2010/03/20/code-red-gun. It is extraordinary how much easier it is to get in the news for acting like a complete buffoon than for actually making a reasoned, rational argument about politics; or the media for that matter. Just ask Glenn Beck . . .

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Corporations Finally Get into the Political Fray

After years of watching their interests go unheeded by Washington, corporations will finally have their say in the political arena. The Supreme Court decision last month giving corporations the full personhood they have so long deserved has once and for all eliminated those pesky campaign finance limits that have given the people far too much say in political decision in America. Now corporations can have their voice heard loud and clear, untethered by the will of the people and their silly notions of the common good. Should their really be limits on the interest rates banks can charge for loans or the fees they collect? Should insurance companies really have to insure high risk clients or those already sick? Why should pharmaceutical companies have to go through the onerous process of making sure their drugs are safe when that can be figured out after their product goes to market? Should cigarette and chemical companies really be limited by silly concerns about their safety, when it cuts into their profits? And why should corporations have to waste all that money on lobbying when they can simply buy the politicans that will best reflect their interests? The benevolent society of American corporations and the wealthy, aka the Chamber of Commerce, has certainly been asking these questions for years and are now ready to put their wallets where their mouth is, spending as much money as they can withdraw from their sheltered offshore accounts to make sure years of government interference in their profit-seeking behavior come to an end once and for all: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-chamber9-2010mar09,0,4230154,full.story. Let freedom ring! 

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

He Looks Like $50

A highway, airport, aircraft carrier and one of the biggest federal buildings in DC are all named after Ronald Reagan. But that's not enough for his conservative acolytes -- now they want to replace war hero turned corrupt president Ulysses S. Grant on the $50 bill (www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-reagan-fifty3-2010mar03,0,6008759.story). So I thought on the heals of this potentially momentus tribute to the greatest President of the 20th century we should look back on his many accomplishments . . .

- Cut the top tax rate down from 70% to 28%
- Cut the capital gains tax precipitously
- Both these helped increased income inequality to the worst in the developed world
- Moved us from the biggest creditor to biggest debtor nation in the world
- Increased the deficit from $700 billion to $3 trillion
- Oversaw the S&L crisis and 1987 Stock Market Crash
- Helped out those poor Contras in their fight against the insidious communists in Nicaragua
- Turned back the clock on the pesky civil rights movement
- Commenced those fun loving "blame the teachers" and "blame the victim" movements in America
- Got rid of annoying market oversight and regulation thus helping Walls Street make a lot more money *


- Ended communism single-handedly (and I have a share in the Brooklyn Bridge I'd like to sell you)

Long live your legacy, our fallen king.

* This also helped cause the financial crisis we are currently mired in, but that's just nitpicking.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

ACORN Exonerated!

Surprise, surprise . . . the two conservative pranksters that caused a media firestorm over five months ago charging that ACORN was giving advice to a pimp and prostitute about getting a mortgage appear to have doctored the video and no criminal charges will be filed by the Brooklyn DA. What's interesting is how the different media sources cover the story.

The New York Post claims on pg.2 in a short piece that sources claim the infamous videos were heavily edited and thus "many of the seemingly crime-encouraging answers were taken out of context so as to appear more sinister." The New York Times takes a more moderate position, mentioning that charges are being dropped without noting the charges of tampering with the tapes: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/01/no-crime-in-acorns-advice-to-pimp-d-a-says/?scp=2&sq=acorn&st=cse. Finally, is Fox News, where they think there is still serious malfeasance and corruption to be unearthed, with the following paragraph: "But Kurt Bardella, spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, said Monday that ongoing federal and state investigations 'will expose the criminal nature of ACORN's deliberate effort to abuse taxpayer dollars to advance a radical political agenda.'" (www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/03/02/acorn-videos-bring-problems-group-criminal-charges/?test=latestnews).

Actually, it appears the radical political agenda is being perpetrated by conservative operatives like this (remember Watergate?), with one of the two recently charged with three others in attempting to tamper with Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu's phone. Of course, while the media will dutifully report the story, there is no mea culpa -- just a nod to their absence of malice. Remember those Swift Boat Veterans For Truth? Well the media got that one wrong too, but it only cost us four extra years of Bush, so no bigee . . .

Monday, March 01, 2010

Healthcare Through the Backdoor

To those of us who has watched bumbling Democrats for the better part of 30 years it is a near miracle to conceive that they might actually pass an even flawed healthcare reform bill. Little resolve has existed in the party, they have been too wobbly kneed when it mattered most and lost the battle of words, ideas and elections too often. Democrats like Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry failed to inspire, changed positions as if in a game of musical chairs and even Obama has seemed to wilt under the pressure of a conservative juggernaut unfazed by huge defeat less than two years ago and a media that has aligned themselves with conservatives far too often in recent years. Nancy Pelosi even said she is willing to give up seats to win this important battle. That is what our representatives are supposed to be about -- representing the public interest, even if the public is sometimes confused about what their interests are. The public option might not find its way to the final bill, but if it ends up on Obama's desk for a signature it will be a huge victory for Americans and our collective future. Lets hope that resolve holds up and the party finally gets something right . . .