Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Every Cloud...

So in Arizona a former mayor and her husband were attacked by the family dog. The husband was killed. Says the current mayor:

Jack Hakim, current mayor of Bullhead City, told the Arizona Republic the attack was "pretty devastating" and that Diane Vick "was pretty well beat up." 
“We’ve had dog bites before but never something like this,” Hakim said. “It’s very sad for us in Bullhead City." 
"We’re just grateful that at least one of them was able to survive," Hakim continued.

Yeah, that's how I'd see it, too. Grateful. That the dog didn't eat them both. Must have been a guardian angel at work.

[Image source]

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Thoughtful Republican States The Obvious

Rep. Randy Forbes is not happy. The Republican Party is not actively discriminating against gay congressional candidates as much as he’d like, and social conservatives like Forbes are fed up. He’s lashing out because he fears his brand of social conservatism is dying, and has no idea what to do about it. I’m a Republican, so I think Forbes’ crusade is not only politically stupid, it’s also undermining the very social conservative values that he purports to champion. 
Today, “social conservatism” has come to mean fighting the demographically lost battle against same-sex marriage, and the legally lost battle against abortion. No ideology has narrowed in such a startling way. ...
The best example is marriage equality, which conservatives have been battling now for over a decade. What’s odd about this fight is the extent to which gay rights activists have donned the trapping of family values (sometimes to criticism from those on the left). Go to the Human Rights Campaign website, and you’ll see talk of religion and faithadoption and foster carecommitmentparenting, and of course marriage. These are often considered fundamentally conservative values — so why aren’t conservatives celebrating rather than fighting them? The answer, of course, is the historical and religious opposition to homosexuality. For better or worse (I think worse), this religious-based view is undermining the simple conservative belief in the importance of marriage and family. 
That’s not the only instance where social conservatism undercuts itself. Take abortion. Social conservatives believe that the number of abortions should be reduced or eliminated (I agree). Yet, social conservatives support a host of policies — such as abstinence-only education and limiting access to contraception — that will actually increase abortion...
It continues in that vein, singing my song, pointing out that what passes for "conservatism" in today's Republican party is anything but, and making the case for sanity.

Pissing in the wind, in other words.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Sunset Tonight, Right Here!

It's Time

Until they come up with something better, or indicate readiness to pitch in and fix any flaws, it's time for Republicans to find something new to lie about.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Time Out

I'm gonna see if I can stop doing this for a while, try ignorance on for size. This stuff is just getting too depressing, and depression is something of which I have plenty already.

For one thing, I'm finding it more difficult to decide what I think about President Obama. I've said from the beginning that he's anything but a far-left liberal, and that's most certainly true. In fact, other than his shocking desire to allow gay people to have civil rights equal to the rest of us, and to find a way for those who can't afford health care to be able to do so, finally, you'd think teabaggers would absolutely love the guy. He's more of a capitalist than Henry Ford. And the latest, regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, ought to delight corporatists like a golden parachute, assuming the coverage is accurate. I have no problem with our president being a pragmatist, but I'd like a thorough explanation of reasons, rather than what has appeared to be unnecessary secrecy.

Nor does his retention of Bush-era spying speak of the "Alinskyite" (whatever that is) that the right wing likes to call him. So, regarding President Obama, there's an insane amount of hatred for him, and an unprecedented and concerted effort to block everything he does, no matter how reasonable, every person he nominates, no matter how qualified; and yet he keeps doing things that liberals find abhorrent. I still like him; still think he's doing what he sees as best for the country, takes his job seriously, and that he's not at all ideological. All those, to me, are good things, at least in theory. But who knows, anymore?

Meanwhile, the crazy on the right is so deep and wide, their attempts to turn us into a mindless theocracy so profound, their disregard for all people non-white, non-male, non-christian, non-heterosexual, non-wealthy so undisguised, their appeal to the basest among us so successful, that it's a source of constant sadness, frustration, and pessimism. Not to mention their steadfast, selfish, short-sighted and destructive refusal to address the most important and future-threatening issues facing us. Climate change, health care, income inequality, education, paying for infrastructure and research. In that regard, I'll always be a proud liberal. There's simply no question of which party is willing to face such things, effectively or otherwise, but realistically.

I'm fairly sure I'll not be able to turn off my curiosity, nor my compulsive reading on all things political. But I'd like to see if I can stay away from this blog long enough to decide if it's a good thing or bad, for me, personally. It'd be a start. And maybe I can stop thinking about all this stuff altogether, and concentrate on upcoming grandfatherhood, or exercise, or something fun. Maybe, if I were to succeed in being totally ignorant, I could join the ranks of the majority of my fellow Americans and just be outraged without really knowing why, but secure in the knowledge that outrage means I'm better than all those "other" people.

[Image source]

Working As Designed

Tom Tomorrow

Full comic here.

Tell It To A Teabagger

Behold The Hypocrisy

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sorry, Sarah

“Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him [Jesus] by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being.”
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Short, April 13, 1820

“And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.”
-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823
[Image source]

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I Was Wrong

A while back I posted my anger at MSNBC, welling for a while, but brought over the top by Martin Bashir's suggestion that someone should shit in Sarah Palin's mouth. And darn it if I wasn't right, if that had, indeed, been what he said.

So it turns out I can be just as credulous as a teabagger, brought to outrage by falsehood, deliberate or otherwise. I admit I didn't hear what he said when he said it, nor did I seek out a source of the actual words. I must have assumed that since it was everywhere, including on liberal sites, that it was an accurate rendition of his commentary. Mea culpa. Mea really, really, embarrassingly, culpa. Here, it turns out, is what he actually said, in response to the moosekiller's comparison of the national debt to slavery:

BASHIR: It’lll be like slavery. Given her well-established reputation as a world class idiot, it’s hardly surprising that she should choose to mention slavery in a way that is abominable to anyone who knows anything about its barbaric history. So here’s an example. 
One of the most comprehensive first-person accounts of slavery comes from the personal diary of a man called Thomas Thistlewood, who kept copious notes for 39 years. Thistlewood was the son of a tenant farmer who arrived on the island of Jamaica in April 1750, and assumed the position of overseer at a major plantation. What is most shocking about Thistlewood’s diary is not simply the fact that he assumes the right to own and possess other human beings, but is the sheer cruelty and brutality of his regime. In 1756, he records that “A slave named Darby catched eating canes; had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector, another slave, s-h-i-t in his mouth.” This became known as Darby’s dose, a punishment invented by Thistlewood that spoke only of the slave owners savagery and inhumanity. 
And he mentions a similar incident again in 1756, this time in relation to a man he refers to as Punch. “Flogged Punch well, and then washed and rubbed salt pickle, lime juice and bird pepper; made Negro Joe piss in his eyes and mouth.” I could go on, but you get the point. 
When Mrs. Palin invoked slavery, she doesn’t just prove her rank ignorance. She confirms that if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, then she would be the outstanding candidate."

There's no one on earth who can gin up martyred outrage like Sarah of the empty head, and she makes a damn good living at it. Sure, a case can be made that what Mr Bashir said was a little less than that expected of a professional journalist. But it was a long, long way from saying, literally, that someone ought to shit, or "defecate" even, in the poor defenseless lady's mouth; and, couched as it was, it was milder by far than what one hears daily on right-wing radio.

In context, I'd have to say I agree with his sentiment. She trivialized slavery as only she could do, and could stand to inform herself a little better (requiring the sort of effort toward which she's never shown the slightest inclination). Plus, it's undeniable that if someone were to notice feces in Ms Palin's mouth, it'd require DNA testing to be sure it wasn't just a result of her usual logorrhea. In my original post, I expressed outrage that Bashir had suffered no consequences. Now I understand why, and I find his resignation an overreaction on his part. In fact, MSNBC should have stood up for him, making the context crystal clear. So my ultimate reaction to the network remains, if for different reasons.

But I digress. The point is, first, that I took outrageous claims at face value and, second, that Martin Bashir ended up resigning over the reaction to the misconstruction of what he said. Right wing outrage is a powerful force; the more so when it's baseless. Which, of course, it almost always is.

I really should have looked into it before firing off a response. I usually do. I'd like to think I'm better than a teabagging right winger or their propagandists. In this case, I surely wasn't. Hope it's a rarity.

[Image source]

Cluelessness, Squared

Idiot theocratic teabagger Rick Santorum compares his fight against Obamacare to Nelson Mandela's against apartheid. The mind reels. If there are no words I can find, this might have to suffice: 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Easy Algorithm

It's what I've always done, and, by golly, it works.

Will Anyone Listen?

This ought to be remembered as a seminal speech, addressing our most important economic/political problem; and an entirely factual critique of the likely irreversible damage done to our country and its future possibilities by trickle-down Reaganomics. (The meat begins at about 1:50.) It won't, of course. It'll be lied about by the RWS™, passed off as a call for communism, and have its point entirely missed by a lazy press more interested in the coming 2014 horse races, or whether he knew his uncle, than in the work necessary to be worthy of the title "reporter."

Other than climate change, growing economic inequality in the US is the greatest threat to our survival, and, very specifically and clearly, to our kind of capitalism. The speech, of course, will neither be heard nor understood nor given any thought at all by our right wing. If today's teabagging Republicans can force themselves to listen, with open mind and willingness to give consideration, to only one thing President Obama says, this is it. Because the truth of it is not in doubt, even if what we can or will do about it is. Sadly, that sort of willingness is long since dead, far as I can tell.

At minimum, given the huge importance of what the President is saying, you'd think it would stir a "national debate" on the central issues, with those who disagree doing so on the merits of the argument. Outlining matters of importance is what presidents ought to do. And on those rare occasions when they actually do, it ought to be given attention in its own right, rather than being subject to the usual hyperpartisan dissembling and mongering.

Yeah. Right. Anyone listening? To what he said, heard for its message and not through the prism of Foxorushsavbeckian purposeful lying? Just the words, and their meaning, without waiting for someone to tell you what you're supposed to think about it?

The full text is here. Not that it matters.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


The above, according to an email from the Democratic Party that I found in my trash file, is being sold by the Republican Party to raise money. Har. Har.

Yep. Those awful liberals, trying to be inclusive. Send us some money so we can punish them for wanting to be respectful of all Americans. Not to mention those capitalist businessmen who prefer to welcome all comers into their stores to spend their money. Liberals, right? And not to mention that, like all the liberals I know, I'm happy to say Merry Christmas in stores or anywhere it's said to me.

Has there ever been a party so unabashed in proclaiming its narrow-mindedness, so pleased with its divisiveness, so certain in its manipulations of its supporters most base instincts, so sure that trotting out this tired trope every year will work forever? (The real war on Christmas, brought to you annually by Bill O'Reilly, Sarah Palin, et al: making it, over and over, a time for self-pity and anger.) Or, for that matter, so proudly cynical, so blithely dismissive of the most fundamental principles of the country for true love of which they claim (for fundraising purposes only, your results may vary) sole proprietorship?

[Image source from that mailer. Message from here.]

Monday, December 2, 2013

Not Just A River

Today's non-conservative Republican party. I can see how despotic, plutocratic, selfish, profit-only-damn-the-consequences people support them. But the average person? People who value education, clean water, who'd like a future for their kids, even those who follow the teachings of Jesus? I just don't get it.

  • Item: right-wingers are attacking Pope Francis for actually advocating the principles of humility and charity spoken by Jesus. The damn commie!
  • Item: right wing media hero Erick Erickson says it's necessary to deny Democrats the opportunity fix the Affordable Care Act. To FIX it!! Because, you know, god forbid it might work, might actually provide health care to people at reasonable cost. Can't let that happen. Because politics. Similarly, they prefer to prevent economic recovery on Obama's watch and have done everything to block measures to achieve it. Because power. And insane hatred of all things Obama.
  • Item: Wisconsin's R legislature and its teabagging governor have just turned the northern part of the state over to a mining company for the purpose of strip-mining; the same company being sued in Spain for polluting its water and destroying the land. 
  • Item: still collecting full pay, the R-controlled House has worked fewer days than ever before, and will work even fewer next year. But, doggone it, they'll never raise the minimum wage. Nosiree.
  • Item: as with the first significant effort to address the horrible problems with our health care system, Rs have lined up to decry -- many before they even knew what's in it -- the first major effort to reduce the risk of Iran getting a nuclear weapon. Because war.
  • Item: they deliberately lie to their supporters, over and over, as policy, assuming they're idiots.

I could go on, of course, and have until I make myself sick and crazy. I know there've always been crazy people, dumb people, people who refuse to open their eyes. But surely this is unprecedented. Normal not crazy not dumb people, in massive numbers, falling in with a party that, clearly and undeniably, is inimical to everything those nice average people need. In a full-time and highly organized propaganda effort that would make Kim Jong Un jealous and the Soviet Politburo weep with envy, Rove, Murdoch, Limbaugh, Beck, the Kochs, et et al al al have managed to buffalo and bullshit and deceive and manipulate people who, if they'd stop for a mere second or two and look the hell around, would realize they're voting against everything they need. Nice people. Decent people.

It's simply amazing. It's inexplicable. I fail completely to understand it, except as proof of the limitations of the human mind in the face of overwhelmingly difficult problems. In the messes we've created on this planet we've finally outstripped the ability of human beings to deal. Always inclined to magical thinking, our pathetic little brains have, like an over-shaken pinball machine, gone into "tilt" mode. Previously happy to believe everything will be fine in the next life, that god is keeping score and will "wipe away the injustices" that he allowed to occur (or made to occur) in the afterlife, we've now gotten to the point of giving up trying altogether here on Earth. It's too hard to address our problems, too threatening to be charitable or to think beyond our selfish needs. So we flock to the party that says it's just fine to be like that. (So the ones bankrolling the deception can go on raping the land and ripping off the non-wealthy to support their greed.) (Too harsh? How?)

That's the only way I can figure it out. Because there's nothing, clearly, about today's Republican party that offers a thing for the average person except reinforcement of denial. Of everything.

[Image source]

Anthem For The Times

Friday, November 29, 2013

Professional Pretenders

(I had a different video up there at first: the Platters singing "The great pretender." This one seems more appropriate, given the mutual level of outrage.)

This is really starting to piss me off. I've been saying it forever, and it's demonstrably true: but somewhere along the line I've gone over the edge. Today's embarrassing and disgusting version of a once credible Republican Party is made up of a bunch of deliberate liars; people who treat their "base" -- correctly, it turns out -- like idiots. Lying as policy. Distraction as method. It's beyond simply politics at its worst. It's fking evil.

The latest example is the ginned up bullshit about Obama "closing" the embassy to the Vatican. Hyped and rehyped endlessly by the right wing screamers and the prevaricating collective on Fox "news," it's complete and total bullshit. Even Jeb, the supposedly thoughtful Bush, savior of reason in the echo chamber, has jumped on it with both dishonest stinky feet. As usual, Charles P Pierce tells it better than me:

The Smart One is making noise again.  
Why would our President close our Embassy to the Vatican? Hopefully, it is not retribution for Catholic organizations opposing Obamacare. 
Twitter -- Another Venue In Which the Bush Family Can Be Annoying.
And, of course, as part of his ongoing project to sabotage those parts of his brother's political career that Jebbie didn't cock up on his own, the fine hand of C-Plus Augustus appears just in time to undermine little bro's pandering to the angry papists.

Ironically, the process of moving the embassy from its current location to the compound at the U.S. Embassy to Italy began under Jeb's brother, President George W. Bush, whose administration purchased the buildings. The new location is actually a tenth of a mile closer to the Vatican and the move will come with no reduction in staff or activities.

Euripides wrote something like this once. Then, after he'd read what he'd written, he spent 14 months on Corfu, drunk on ouzo, and chasing fishwives.

This isn't just a misunderstanding or misinterpretation. This is deliberate. This is modus operandi. This is despicable. Unlike Obama's "lies" about keeping your crappy insurance if you want to -- untrue, but not a lie: he was wrong. There's a difference -- this is taking information, turning it upside down and inside out and effluxing it back into circulation as something it's not. On purpose. To deceive. How do they live with themselves?

I feel like running into the streets screaming, all across the country: they think you're idiots. They assume your hatreds trump the most minimal efforts at reason. They lie to you all day every day. They want you to believe this stuff, concentrate on it, so you'll ignore their real agenda: flushing your money uphill to the wealthy, turning the country into a theocracy (okay, you probably are fine with that) and stoping spending money on anything you, and your kids, and grandkids, actually need.

How could it be made any more obvious? Other than carrying around signs that say we're greedy, we have no useful agenda, and we'll do and say anything to get our way, what more could they do to get their sheeply follows to start getting it?

I know, I know, he says, raising his hand and waving it for attention: nothing!! Not a fking thing!!! They've over-eyed the wool and it ain't coming down. The only way they'll stop making dishonesty the central feature of their message is when their teabagging followers demand it.

And, it's clear as the space between Sarah Palin's ears, they never will.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


The dark side of the nuclear agreement with Iran.

MSNBC Ya Later

I feel bad for Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes, who are smart, thoughtful and fact-based news figures. They deserve better than to be stuck on MSNBC, which is free-falling into irrelevance at best, and, at worst, becoming an embarrassment to liberals. Liberals who, I might add, have never followed that network in the numbers or mindless devotion of those wedded to Fox "news."

MSNBC hired Alec Baldwin, of all people, to do a nightly show, after he'd made it pretty clear he has a tendency toward malicious outbursts on some occasions, whether on voicemails or to reporters. After a brief time and another homophobic rant, he's been excused from further service. And why not?

Ed Shultz, now back in the good graces of the network, took a forced vacation after some less-than thoughtful remarks. He's a smart guy, but a pale imitation of the vituperative anger of a Rush Limbaugh. What's the point?

And now, the Martin Bashir thing: beyond tasteless comments about Sarah Palin. (Yeah, all she needs is more reason to play the martyr, and to get lots of face time and money to pitch it.) Worse, he's apparently and inexplicably suffered no consequences for his feculence. Chris Matthews, when asked to comment on the episode, refused. Cowardice under fire. Or orders. I can only assume -- hope, anyway -- that Maddow and Hayes are deeply pissed at being associated with this mess, no matter how indirectly.

I quit watching MSNBC regularly in the Olbermann era, when I tired of him trotting out the same people every night to agree with him. I didn't often disagree with him or his stooges; I just decided that, unlike teabagging Foxolimbeckians, I didn't need constant reinforcement of my thoughts (or, in the case of the Foxified, the lack thereof.)

This latest is inexcusable. If liberals don't need propaganda the way today's Republicans seem to, at least they're entitled to have a media outlet that provides intelligent, factual, and thoughtful analysis; one to which they could point as an example of meaningful and insightful commentary, in contrast to the dissembling that passes for it on Fox. That's what Maddow and Hayes do, consistently. The rest of them have become no more than hacks. (Admittedly, I say that having watched, for several years now, only the occasional online clip.) Is their management under the impression that to succeed they need to be controversial? Are they of the opinion that liberals will flock there if they provide it?

Not me. Not the people I know. I think Rachel and Chris need to find a new outlet (is there one?) and let the rest of them sink from view.

[Image source]

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oh, Canada

I heard from a Canadian reader recently:

As a Canadian that lives an hour from the border, we are sucked into American politics and social commentary quite easily. We sit and wait to see what is happening there and cross our fingers and toes that some of it doesn't spread north. Our Prime Minister is a conservative and I would expect has a harder time moving our nation's views to mirror his as the voting power here is leaning left. I feel for those who are feeling like they are beating a dead horse when it comes to voicing their opinions in the States. All I can say is...keep doing it...please. We need to hear voices of reason coming from the US as well as the crazy, 'I can't believe he just said that!' stories we hear. Educate the young and hopefully the next generation will be more open to views and see the US as a global citizen and act accordingly.
Yeah, well.

"Educate the young" is exactly the solution, and, not coincidentally, happens to be exactly why teabaggRs are so desperate to destroy public education, turn it into a bible school aimed at those who need simple answers to hard questions; teaching them not to question, not to seek beyond their deliberately narrow views of things.

Those forces are winning; or, ultimately, are destined to. Because I think we've reached the limits of the collective ability of humans to deal with the disasters they've created. Retreat into magical thinking and denialism is all we have left. Enough of us, anyway, to prevent the rest from acting as needed.

[Image source]

Rule Makers, Rule Breakers

This, from a former Republican Senate staffer, pretty much says it all (the whole article is worth a read. Below is an excerpt):

... Senate rules have been around for a long time. They work. They work, that is, if they are treated with respect, and if the Senate's role in the government is likewise treated with respect by its members. If they are, instead, treated with contempt -- as mere tools to enable timely response to organized constituencies -- work in the Senate will grind to a halt, encumbering the rest of the government.
I can understand, though I do not share, intense disagreement with every Obama administration initiative and disapproval of every Presidential nominee to every judgeship or executive branch office. Willful perversion of the Senate's rules in an effort to ensure that the Senate passes no legislation and approves no nominees (at least in a timely way) is so far beyond my experience with the body that I struggle to believe news accounts from the place.
And willful perversion of the Senate's rules is what the Senate Republicans committed themselves to. It is idle to complain about Sen. McConnell as if he were holding up nominees and legislation by himself. Nearly every Republican Senator -- including people like Cochran, Grassley, Hatch, McCain and Alexander who have been Senators for many years -- has supported McConnell without cavil throughout this entire sordid business. If McConnell acted in bad faith by going back on a promise made last year not to obstruct routine nominations, so did they...
I'd add, as I've already written, that the impact of reform is much greater on Republican obstructionism that it might be on Democrats; because they have never and would never use the filibuster as often as Rs have. Maybe it even figured into their thinking: hey, we're not as big of assholes as they are, so who cares, right?

[Image source]

Monday, November 25, 2013

Simple Truth

Tom Tomorrow

Full cartoon here.

Right Before Our Eyes

Interesting report on what's before our eyes. As the country argues over the relative merits of progressive vs regressive (i.e. Tea Party) visions, there's actually a side by side set of laboratories in which the two divergent approaches have been playing out. Rather than speculate, prevaricate, and gesticulate, we have only to look at the neighboring states of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The former has an uber-teabagger governor and a right wing legislature, and has implemented spending cuts, demonized unions, stopped paying for infrastructure, cut spending on schools by 15%; the whole ball o'wax. Bag o' tea. The latter has a progressive governor and legislature, has implemented targeted tax increases to pay for those things abandoned in Wisconsin. Guess which state is seeing significant job growth and economic expansion. Here's an article by a poli-sci professor that addresses, and answers, that very question:

... A month after Mr. Walker’s inauguration in January 2011, he catapulted himself to the front ranks of national conservative leaders with attacks on the collective bargaining rights of Civil Service unions and sharp reductions in taxes and spending. Once Mr. Dayton teamed up with a Democratic Legislature in 2012, Minnesota adopted some of the most progressive policies in the country. 
Minnesota raised taxes by $2.1 billion, the largest increase in recent state history. Democrats introduced the fourth highest income tax bracket in the country and targeted the top 1 percent of earners to pay 62 percent of the new taxes, according to the Department of Revenue. 
Which side of the experiment — the new right or modern progressivism — has been most effective in increasing jobs and improving business opportunities, not to mention living conditions?... 
... Three years into Mr. Walker’s term, Wisconsin lags behind Minnesota in job creation and economic growth. As a candidate, Mr. Walker 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, but a year before the next election that number is less than 90,000. Wisconsin ranks 34th for job growth. Mr. Walker’s defenders blame the higher spending and taxes of his Democratic predecessor for these disappointments, but according to Forbes’s annual list of best states for business, Wisconsin continues to rank in the bottom half.
Along with California, Minnesota is the fifth fastest growing state economy, with private-sector job growth exceeding pre-recession levels. Forbes rates Minnesota as the eighth best state for business...
[California, by the way, mentioned above, has a D governor and legislature, too; and they've managed to balance their budget and get the economy growing after years of R deficits and stagnation.]

There's lots of supporting info in the article, well worth a read. None of this is really surprising, since such experiments have been done time and again, on the national and state level, always with the same results. And yet, we remain divided pretty much down the middle; and the advocates of Wisconsin-type austerity and draconian cuts to their future are in Congress in great enough numbers to block a progressive -- and effective -- agenda.

So, in yet another context, one must ask: at what point will the Tea Party people who elect these regressive legislators who push a pre-failed agenda stop and look at the evidence? There's no mystery as to what works. The only mystery is why so many people who'd benefit from progressive legislation refuse, or are unable, to see it. And yet again we see the real reason for teabaggRs' devotion to destroying public education: the more people know, the more they learn to think, the more likely it is that they'd figure it out. And they might even recognize how they're being played for fools by Fox "news" and the Rushosavbeckian scream machine.

[Image source]

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Truth Is Out There

This one made all the media, and was trumpeted on Fox "news" and RW radio like Gabriel was playing the horn. A lady from my state, who'd touted Obamacare and was featured by the WH, it turns out, didn't qualify for the rate relief she'd been told. Another lie, another bald-faced lie by the lying liar from Kenya. Well, as has been the case with a heck of a lot of the sad stories trotted out by the let-'em-diers, it turns out there's more to the story. A lot more: 

... Except there’s a key detail none of these media outlets mentioned. 
Which is: Sanford’s son was discovered to qualify for Medicaid coverage at a cost of just $30 a month. He has ADHD and, according to Sanford, it costs them $250 a month for prescription drugs alone. Which will now all be covered. 
It’s true the rest of her insurance won’t get a big discount, as she had first thought. “That mistake is totally on us,” said Bethany Frey of the Washington state health exchange. 
But a bronze-level policy for a 48-year-old woman making $49,000 can be had on the state exchange for $237 a month, and a silver-level policy for $313.
So here’s a family that was totally uninsured for 15 years because it had always cost at least $500 to $600 a month for skimpy policies to cover them both. And what they can get now is full coverage for $30 a month for the son and scantier coverage in the $250 to $300 a month range for the mom. 
How is that a horror story? Yet it prompted a live scandalcast in front of the White House by a national news network — which didn’t know, or maybe didn’t want to say, that due to the state health exchange the son now is getting essentially free health care...
The problems with the ACA are many. Some might even say expected, at the beginning of such a huge program. A program aimed -- and mostly successful at -- getting people previously unable to, enrolled in affordable health care. One might wonder: for every story (many of which have been found to be falsified; and in the case of Fox, deliberately so) of people priced out, how many thousands of unheralded successes are there? But where's the news in that?

It strikes me as little like, in reverse, how excited we get when a lone survivor of a building collapse is found, after hundreds died. "It's a miracle," we like to say.

When There Was Reason To Hope, And To Be Inspired

Helpful Flow Chart

[Image source]

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dag The Wog

Remember when Rs accused Clinton of using the Bosnia attack to distract from blow jobs? The above has to be the stupidest thing I've seen from a R in a long time. Well, make that in a millisecond. They produce them like Seattle rain.

Yeah. The culmination of five years of severe sanctions, and countless attempts at diplomacy before this. Held it back just in case Obamacare had problems. Peace. What a fking distraction.

To Congressional Rs there's nothing -- NOTHING -- Barack Hussein Obama could do of which they'd approve. Achieve peace. Make war. Try to fix health care. Ignore it.

C'mon, teabaggers: isn't there any point at all, none, at which you'd look at these guys and realize what complete assholes they are; how bereft of ideas, how lacking in interest to do work on behalf of our county, how disinterested they are in anything but obstructing and criticizing our president, no matter what? Even if it makes them look like idiots?

Never mind. By now, we know the answer.


Friday, November 22, 2013


Here's a good point. A few people have pointed out that if Republicans are so concerned about minority rights, legislatively speaking (we know they're not when it comes to actual human beings), they could, in the House where they have all the power, change rules to allow filibusters. Let the Dems in that arena have the power of veto the way Rs did (and still mostly do) in the Senate.

Any takers, teabaggRs? Speak up. We can't hear you.

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And she's a member of Scotland's conservative party! Because, when you take religious based bigotry and hatred out of it, marriage equality is a conservative principle. Wouldn't it be nice if we had conservatives like that in the US? There was a time... Will it ever happen again?

Thursday, November 21, 2013


As Mitch "If my lips are moving..." McConnell implied in his otherwise stupendously cynical and dishonest response to the vote to reform filibuster rules, we must assume the reason it's never been done is because each side understands they could be in the minority someday and want to use it.

Fact is, the change affects only cabinet-related appointments and federal judges except the Supreme Court. Hardly a scorching of the process. Another fact is that over half of all nominees blocked by filibuster in the history of the US since the Constitution was ratified, have been blocked by Republicans during the Obama administration. Over half! I think it's safe to say, for several obvious reasons, not the least of which is, as opposed to teabaggRs, a belief in governance, that Ds would never, have never, and will never use the filibuster as regularly as Rs have since, well, you know...

So, good for them. Too bad they waited so long. Too bad it'll only affect a tiny part of R obstructionism.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanks, Ron

Far be it from me to blame everything that's happened in the past four decades on Ronald "What's my next line?" Reagan, the way teabaggers blame our Bush-induced economic calamities on Barack Obama. But it was when I was in training in SF, CA, that the then-governor decided that hospitalizing the mentally ill wasn't worth the money, and rousted them onto the streets, where, for the most part, they remain.

That legacy remains, too: in our area there are virtually no inpatient facilities for the mentally ill; not now, not when I wrote this piece on Surgeonsblog. Nor, evidently, are there any in Virginia, where a homocidal kid was released into the wild after a court-ordered psych evaluation, for lack of beds.

As it is with hurricanes and typhoons, evidently, one can't make a global case based on any particular event; but I see this tragedy as emblematic of the failures that derive from teabagger-type austerity. "Saving" money in the short term, ignoring the long-term consequences. Justifying what amounts to no more than selfishness; allowing oneself to believe that magic will take care of the future, so it's fine not to care about present problems. While claiming exceptionalism for the country in whose most basic tenets you don't actually believe.

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Wish I'd Said That...

My favorite political writer, Charles P. Pierce (CPP, I'm told, is the correct shorthand) has done it again. Writing about that fraudulent faker of a fact-free fraud, Paul Ryan, who evidently flunked arithmetic but whose persona as the budget guy among teabaggRs is as undead as Ronald Reagan's mythology, had this to say, in conclusion to a long piece:

So here's my question. All those years when my money and the money of millions of other Americans were helping this already well-off young man hold body and soul together while he went through college, how come his incentive wasn't damaged by all the taking he was doing? How come he wasn't crippled by "dependency"? How come his work ethic survived long enough to guarantee that he would never draw anything but a government salary for the rest of his life? How come, as a congressman, on my dime, he hasn't felt the slow, stultifying hand of government strangling his individual initiative? How come the only people all this quasi-mystical horse-pucky applies to are the people too poor for Paul Ryan's party to care about? If I do nothing for the rest of my career here than point out what a complete fake this guy is, while embarrassing the fatheads who still take him seriously, I will die a happy blogger.

As CPP suggests, being the designated genius in a body that contains such wunderkinder as Louis Gohmert and Michele Bachmann is no great accolade. But to see through him takes a moment's reflection, a bit of math, and the remembering of budget outcomes of R policies since Ronald the Forgetful. Given the laziness and fawnitude of our so-called political reporters nowadays, it doesn't happen.

Nor, of course, would it make any difference to teabaggers, they of reality-avoidance as lifestyle, if it did.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

JFK At Amherst

One of the last public appearances made by President Kennedy was at my college, where he'd come to dedicate the Robert Frost Library. I was a sophomore, and I heard the above speech as he gave it. Parts of it, the ones referring to the value of the artist to society, have been quoted many times. I wrote about the experience here; of hearing him, and of the death mere weeks later. It's nice to hear the words again, still as impressive in my fuddydom as they were as an impressionable youth. Nor is it hard to conjure the sadness that followed.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

So Simple, And Yet So Hard

My first thought on seeing this was that he's a really brave guy. My second thought was how horrifying it is that, in The United States of America, you have to be brave to say stuff like this, the obvious.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I'm Pissed

And the more I think about it, the more pissed I get. My friend Rick called the other night, and we shared our misery.

After the government shutdown, people were finally beginning to see how destructive, how devoid of ideas, how bent on scapegoating the poor in order to keep succoring the rich, is today's teabagging Republican Party. It's as if the curtain of ignorance finally parted just a little, letting in enough light that some even were talking about Democrats taking back the House. Giving John "Tell me where to put my scrotum, now that it's empty, and I'll do it" Boehner something real to cry about.

Then comes the healthcare website rollout, and it's a disaster. Embarrassing. Inexcusable. Incompetent. So Rs are handed, like a head on a platter, a perfect rationale for resurrecting their pre-failed policies, an excuse for their selfish shortsightedness: see, they're saying. Democrats are incompetent. This is what we were trying to save you from.

Never mind that it's the first real attempt to address the myriad problems in our health care system; that it's based on actual concern for actual people who have no access to affordable health care, whose lives are ruined because of it. A fking website failure has wiped all that off the consciousness. It's tragedy, writ in the clouds.

Clearly, Obama wasn't lying when he said people could keep their plans if they liked them. He was wrong; he was overstating; he wasn't anticipating how insurers -- those socialist taker-overers of our health care system -- would try to screw it up, all innocent; but literally lying, i.e. saying something he knew was false, understanding that it'd be found out soon? No, obviously. Which doesn't make it any better.

For one thing, people who want to believe he's a liar will believe it. For another, it's just more fodder for the Foxifiers.

I like Barack Hussein Obama. (And I still believe it's more likely than not that, when the issues with the ACA are fixed, people will see it for the good thing it is [while we wait for the inevitable realization that single payer is the only and ultimate solution] and be glad for its existence in many ways.) I think his heart's been in the right place, and he's tried to do many of the right things, against an impossibly strong tide of dissembling, obstruction, and actual demonstrable lying on the other side. But this initial rollout has been beyond the pale, a straw on the back of an already gasping camel. It's really, really depressing; enough that I'm ready to give up.

Because it means the good guys, the people thinking beyond their narrowest of self-interest, the ones willing to help those in need because they realize it helps us all, the ones who value education, who think government has an essential role in seeing to it that we have a future, through research, through investing in our kids, our health care, our roads, those people are being shouted down by the selfish, the short-sighted, the hateful, the all-too-easily deceived into acting against their own and their children's interests by oligarchical manipulators.

It's all but unspeakable. In America, once a leader in all good things -- innovation and invention, education, promoting of equality (kicking and screaming, but still...) -- the tide has turned away from it all. As the US and the world are increasingly in need of people willing (and able) to see beyond the immediate, to not turn away from the difficult solutions to nearly impossible problems, the US is falling back into magical thinking, scapegoating, and willful ignorance. Electing people like Gohmert, Bachmann, Braun, Foxx, Cruz, Paul, Ryan, etc, etc, ad nauseum. Lionizing people like Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Savage, Ingraham, Malkin, Carson, ad vomitum. Finding all manner of ways to justify doing nothing, spending nothing, learning nothing, hating everything. Because, in the end, that's who they are.

But then, who can blame them? Humans weren't designed for this. In the main, we're too flimsy of mind, too subject to whim, too easily fooled for times like these. Evolution needed a few more eons to get it right, but we fked it up too much, too soon, before that happened; or, if it's part of questionably intelligent design, the designer, undeniably, fell way short. Amateur hour up there. Humans. Best he/she/it/they could do?

America. Leading the way to the bottom. USA. USA. USA.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013


So I went to google today, and this is what I found. (The greeting came up when I hovered over the cakes.) Strangely, I found it a little scary. But sorta nice, too. I guess we all need to just give in to the technology, accept that "they" know everything about us at all times, and trust that it's a net good... I mean, what could go wrong, right?

Hey, This Guy's Different

Says what he means, and means what he says:

 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, November 5, to CNN's Jake Tapper:
TAPPER: Do you think of yourself as a conservative, do you think of yourself as a moderate?
CHRISTIE: I'm a conservative. And I've governed as a conservative.
And Chris Christie, five days later, to NBC's David Gregory:

GREGORY: Are you a moderate or a conservative?
CHRISTIE: David, listen. I don't get into these labels. That's the Washington, D.C. game.
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Great Mind At Work

Asked what the Tea Party proposes as an alternative to the PPACA, Sarah Palin clarifies:
"The plan is to allow those things that had been proposed over many years to reform a health care system in America that certainly does need more help so that there's more competition, there's less tort reform threat, there's less trajectory of the cost increases? And those plans have been proposed over and over again. And what thwarts those plans? It's the far left. It's President Obama and his supporters who will not allow the Republicans to usher in free market, patient-centered, doctor-patient relationship links to reform health care!"
Okay, then. Got it. Next?

John "Takes a licking and keeps on pricking" McCain humbly let it be known recently that he's getting lots of people pushing him to run again. Think he'd ask her back?

[Added: turns out she has a solution that's actually better: Canadian health care. Not kidding. Who knew she's a socialist?]

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