Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The False Equivalency Game

The few conservative politicians and pundits that have acknowledged the recent violent actions and irresponsible rhetoric from the right are trying to play the false equivalency game, stating how the level of rabid discourse is parallel to the left. Um, no. Not by a long shot. (No pun intended.)

Or in the words of Crooks and Liars' David Neiwert:
Come and talk to us again about how nasty and wrong hateful talk from the left is when:

-- A liberal walks into a church and opens fire on the congregation because they're all a bunch of conservatives and he wants to kill as many right-wingers as he can.

-- A liberal walks into another church and shoots a doctor in the head.

-- A liberal shoots three police officers who come to his door because he fears the president is going to take his guns away.

-- A liberal walks into the Holocaust Museum and shoots a guard because he hates Jews and believes it's time to start a race war.

-- A liberal walks into the Pentagon and opens fire because he believes the government is plotting against its citizens.

-- A pack of gun-loving liberals forms a plot to kill law-enforcement officers and start a revolution.

See, that isn't happening. But it is happening with characters from the right, opening fire on various perceived "liberal" targets, law enforcement officers, and government employees.
Exactly.

Oh, the Sweet Irony!

In an attempt to curb hate crime protection from including gays--on religious grounds--the Oklahoma state senate instead erroneously banned the statute that penalizes discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. Genius!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Racism is Dead; Ignorance, Hypocrisy, Too (bridge for sale, also)

The caller in the video clip below calls into C-SPAN to complain that they are putting thru too many calls from "black folks". He also brings up how conservatives and Republicans were quite passive when liberals and progressives attacked George W. Bush. I guess the caller doesn't recall all those times we were told to watch what we said and that to disagree with Bush was to give comfort to the enemy. Remember that, douchebags?

I'm getting really tired of Republican politicians and pundits, Fox Noise commentators, and other assorted sleaze bags--the fatigue-wearing, cowardly draft-dodger Ted Nugent comes to mind--trying to equate the racist and violent reactions we've seen from some of their followers with the likes of Iraq war protesters during W's term. Do these assholes really believe that cutting off someone's gas lines, or making life-threatening phone calls is dissent? Or that dropping off a coffin on someone's front lawn is not one step removed from planting a burning cross? WTF?

And why doesn't anyone in the Democratic/liberal/progressive establishment step up and say so?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rep. Cleaver Spat On? (let's go to the video tape)

Well, the right-wing loudmouths denied it ever happened and even offered a cash reward for anyone who could submit video proof that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) had been recently spat on by tea baggers protesting the health care reform bill. Well, here's the video. (The incident in question takes place at the 0:13 mark.) What say you?

(My apologies to sportscaster Warner Wolf.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Sad, Pitiful Decline of John McCain

Sen. John McCain was someone who I always respected, despite our ideological differences. He seemed like the kind of man who shared my goals for the country, but with a alternate game plan.

That ship has long sailed.

His quest for power and relevance, since he became the Republican Party's 2008 presidential nominee, has been embarrassing to watch.

In 2008, John "Country First" McCain panicked, and in an effort to win the presidency chose Alaska governor Sarah Palin, an unqualified, born-again fundamentalist, right-wing zealot as his running mate. Then his campaign hired Tucker Eskew, the South Carolina GOP strategist, to coach Palin. This is the same Tucker Eskew who John McCain once said had "a special place in hell" for his role in the 2000 race-baiting smear that had the Arizona senator fathering an illegitimate black child and eventually lost him the party's nomination to George W. Bush. A smear campaign which was, btw, engineered by Karl Rove, who McCain brought on as a campaign advisor in '08.

He then proceeded, as The New York Times stated in their endorsement of Barack Obama for president, to run "a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism. His policies and worldview are mired in the past. His choice of a running mate so evidently unfit for the office was a final act of opportunism and bad judgment that eclipsed the accomplishments of 26 years in Congress."

The man who for years prided himself on being bipartisan--earning the wrath of the hard right, who deemed him not conservative enough--has now, with a Tea Bagger hot on his trail looking to out seat him, once again begun pandering to the very folks who never believed in him in the first place. Add to that his hollow and unbecoming grandstanding, promising no further congressional Republican cooperation in the wake of the health care reform bill's passage, and the Grandpa Simpson stereotype starts to ring painfully true.

Sad and pitiful, indeed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Michael Moore Clarifies Things

The controversial filmmaker had this to say, the day after the passage of the health care reform bill:
Thanks to last night's vote, that child of yours who has had asthma since birth will now be covered after suffering for her first nine years as an American child with a pre-existing condition.

Thanks to last night's vote, that 23-year-old of yours who will be hit one day by a drunk driver and spend six months recovering in the hospital will now not go bankrupt because you will be able to keep him on your insurance policy.

Thanks to last night's vote, after your cancer returns for the third time -- racking up another $200,000 in costs to keep you alive -- your insurance company will have to commit a criminal act if they even think of dropping you from their rolls.

Yes, my Republican friends, even though you have opposed this health care bill, we've made sure it is going to cover you, too, in your time of need. I know you're upset right now. I know you probably think that if you did get wiped out by an illness, or thrown out of your home because of a medical bankruptcy, that you would somehow pull yourself up by your bootstraps and survive. I know that's a comforting story to tell yourself, and if John Wayne were still alive I'm sure he could make that into a movie for you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Republican Dilemma

Level-headed folks are upset that numerous death threats and acts of violence targeting Democratic politicians have received little to no condemnation from Republican leaders--some of whom have been tacitly encouraging this kind of behavior from right-wing nutjobs--in the wake of the passing of the health care reform bill this week. On the surface, this one's a no-brainer, right? Political acts of violence are deplored by all kinds of folks. And you won't win any points with reasonable, independent voters. So, what's the problem?

Well, according to recent polls, 45% of Republicans believe Barack Obama was not born in the US and therefore, is an illegitimate president; 38% compare his agenda to that of Adolf Hitler; and 1 in 4 think he is the Anti-Christ. That's a sizable chunk of the GOP base and if those numbers are among the people you are counting on to get elected, it's no surprise that Republican politicians are reticent to forcefully oppose such absurd views. And those who do--as we've seen with the parade of apologetic Republicans begging for Rush Limbaugh's forgiveness, or the recent dismissal of former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, from a conservative think tank, ostensibly for his criticism of the GOP's tactics in the health care reform debate--more often than not, end up walking the plank.

So, the Republican dilemma becomes the following: do they let the hard-right lunatics exemplified by the Tear Partiers, cast out moderate GOPers and grab hold of the party? Do the cooler heads strike back or just bide their time until the bottom falls out of the crazy brigade? One thing is certain: if these reactionary hijackers manage to sway enough people to decide elections in their favor, moderate Republicans won't be the only one's fucked. So will the rest of us.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Glenn Beck is the Textbook Definition of Ignorant

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) was one of the top leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. But, guess what? In the clip below Faux News "historian" Glenn "Rodeo Clown" Beck disses the congressman for pretending to be a Civil Rights activist. Um yes, he did. The picure Beck shows is during a march on Capitol Hill this past Sunday, when anti-health care reform protesters called Lewis a "nigger", spat on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), and called Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) a "faggot". Stay classy, teabaggers.



[h/t Xmastime]

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thoughts on the Passing of Health Care Reform (updated)

President Obama took a big step towards not becoming a one-term president with the passing of his ambitious health care reform bill. More importantly, it promises to cover 32 million of those of us who are uninsured. It is not the ideal bill, but it's a significant advance from the prior status quo.

However, the path taken to reach this goal brought a lot of vermin out of the woodwork: a black, liberal president enacting a major overhaul of health care inspired more than a fare share of the right-wing racists and wacko conspiracy nuts to voice their protests in the most venomous and disrespectful of ways. Egged on by hate-spewing commentators, for months ignorant folks parroted accusations they could not define. (Ask 'em if they actually know what "socialism", "communism", "fascism" or "tyranny" look like.) And when the passing of the bill was about to come true, epithets like "nigger" and "faggot" were bandied about; people were spit on. Man, they partied like it was 1965. Or 1865.

As for my long-standing issue with this particular reform, I'm not as magnanimous as some, which is why I firmly believe it should've been implemented and approved state-by-state and not as a federal mandate. In other words, those of us who live in states who wanted health care reform and universal health care--or the next best thing--should've fought to have it in our back yard, with the federal government helping to subsidize it for those who couldn't afford it but truly wanted it. But if you believe that you and/or those less fortunate than you should sink or swim in terms of health coverage, then, fine. Let those people hurting in your state see what it really means to go without.

I won't disagree with you if find my stance petty; I'll freely admit to it without prompting from anyone. But I just feel if adults don't want something that benefits them, they shouldn't be forced to have it. As my Dad would say, "As much as I may love you, you've gotta love yourself more." Or, put more bluntly in this case, fuck 'em.

Now these naysayers will also have health insurance available to them. And like the clueless, idiot fucks who say they don't want the government involved in Medicare--who do they think runs it?--they will reap the rewards but always decry the people who made it happen for them. It takes a big enough person to do something good for others who will not only be ungrateful, but vilify you for doing it. I guess that's what the lesson of turning the each other cheek is about. So, I must be a foul Christian, 'cause I would've just said, "Fuck 'em."

UPDATE:

My old friend, Mr. P had this to say, in response to my post:
Certainly should be a state thing.

I'm not sure what this bill suppose to fix. The plan premiums may be up to $2,700 with a $6,000 (single) $11,900 (married) deductible. A married couple will have to pay up to $14,600 in medical costs a year before the insurance will pay a dime. The main problem with health care is affordability, many families can't afford to pay that much in health care per year. So who's going to pay their deductible? We are back to square one. Since this bill empowers the IRS, I would be surprised if one day the government could withhold one's tax return to pay your outstanding medical bill.

Another issue is that despite being called a mandate, not everyone will benefit, yet everyone is expected to pay. Sounds kinda like Social Security, which the Supreme Court upheld the idea that you can be forced to pay yet be denied the benefit.

This law is really lame. The biggest thing it's doing is giving the insurance companies more business at the tax payer's expense, and expanding government control [over] your health. While that won't happen overnight, the feds will take [NYC Mayor, Mike] Bloomberg's lead on health initiatives because the tax payer can't afford for you to be fat, or unhealthy. Perhaps we will have mandatory morning exercise in front of our TVs. Yes, that's a 1984 reference, but I thought it would be fitting on our way to the surveillance society.
But won't the deductibles be subsidized, if applicable? Truth be told, I don't mind giving the insurance companies more business if it means they can be closely regulated, ie. not rejecting folks w/pre-existing conditions, dropping people 'cause they got sick and treatment is super expensive, or raising premiums to exorbitant rates, (and at will) etc.

The whole thing regarding the "not everyone will benefit, yet everyone is expected to pay" scenario is that it falls under many other things we do for the benefit of the greater good. (If I'm not mistaken, some of the states that pay the least in federal taxes get the most in federal funds and vice versa.) But after I saw how nastily people at a Tea Party rally treated that pro-health care reform protestor whose son has Parkinson's, I'm convinced that for many, a traditional sense of individuality has taken a turn for the worse and become a selfish, "sink or swim" mentality. In other words, "I don't want ANYONE getting a red cent out of my pocket" is the idea w/these people.

As I've said before, this is how these folks think:
Can't afford health insurance? Get (yet) another job to pay for it. That operation you need costs more than what your insurer covers? Sell your house. Tuition too expensive? Welcome to McDonald's. Your employer exploiting you and your co-workers? Switch jobs. Unions? They're a racket. Corporations polluting your water, air? Hey, it's the cost of doing business.

And so on and so forth.
That was the gist of original my post: I feel the vast majority of opponents to health care reform take more issue with what they see as a handout, than the monetary cost of the law. Which is why it would've been better to have the states go about incorporating health care reform/universal health care on their own, with federal subsidies. Fuck 'em if those other states don't want it; this bill could cure cancer and those folks would not appreciate it. But we, here in NY, want it and should have it.

Mr. P also raises a good point about the IRS, but I think they are empowered by the bill more as an opportunity to take advantage of legal loopholes and guarantee its existence as law, rather than to have the IRS' agents become medical bill enforcers, but, who knows? He could be right.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform Passes House

...[A]s George S. Patton said to the 6th Armored Division of the Third Army in 1944: "Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser." Today the Republicans are losers, and the Democrats -- and every American who worries about getting sick and getting dumped by their insurance company -- are the winners.
- Former advisor to Pres. Bill Clinton, Paul Begala at HuffPo

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shut up and Sing? Fuck You!

OK, I'm gonna make this short and sweet: I take major offense at the conservative "shut up and sing" mantra. (Which, btw, only applies to left-leaning artists but never to the likes of Ted Nugent and other right-wing nut jobs.)

So, what is it these people are saying? That because someone wields a guitar for a living they are performing monkeys who have no right to comment publicly on social issues? You know, for folks that constantly harp about personal freedoms, they sure like to silence those who disagree with their ideology.

Texas Conservatives Rewriting History (literally)

Well, if the far-right is comfortable with updating The Bible, due to its alleged liberal teachings, making a mockery of the Texas social studies curriculum would be a walk in the park. Unfortunately, it would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oh, the (republican) Hypocrisy! (ex #6,329)

- Sarah Palin admits she was a recipient of Canadian health care treatment, a system which she has vilified repeatedly.

- Staunch anti-gay California State Senator Roy Ashburn is actually gay.

Will they pay a price for their hypocrisy? Are you kidding? Please.
Of course not. Remember: if it's done by the Right, it's alright.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Eminent Domain Hugo Chavez Style

I've been bitching about Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards-eminent domain fiasco on and off for a while now. And while you may or may not agree with me on the subject, I hope we can all agree this is bullshit:

Last month Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez strolled thru downtown Caracas' Bolivar Plaza and in both a casual and capricious manner pointed at adjacent buildings to be immediately expropriated and reconfigured for historic purposes. Simply incredible, I tell you.

The clip below is in Spanish but it's not hard to get the gist of what's going on, including the reaction from merchants ousted from the buildings in question. Good grief. Truly unbelievable.



(A BBC News article in English can be found here.)

For Obama Compromise an Exercise in Futility

Can't state it any clearer than this:

"Every time Obama compromises on a matter of national-security and civil-liberties principle, his GOP opponents raise the pressure to get him to bend further. His compromises earn him no good will. He is being, simply, punked...Obama can fight and win. Or he can compromise, demoralize his base, and the GOP will continue to roll him."

- Spencer Ackerman in The Washington Independent
[via Unconquerable Gladness]

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Great Divide

HuffPo:

A debate on the Senate floor Monday over unemployment compensation crystallized, at least for a moment, the divide between the two parties in Washington.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican whip, argued that unemployment benefits dissuade people from job-hunting "because people are being paid even though they're not working."

Standing against unemployment benefits?! Seriously, can you be more out of touch? If either Sen. Bunning or Sen. Kyl have unemployed constituents affected by this obstruction and they still vote for these clowns, those people deserve to be stripped and whipped. I mean, c'mon!