News Roundup for 12/31/09

Rush Limbaugh
Not dead

-Headline of the day-
"Limbaugh Rushed To Honolulu Hospital That Gave Rise To ‘Birther’ Conspiracy."

Last night, talk radio gasbag Rush Limbaugh probably failed to have a heart attack. See, he was on vacation in Hawaii and had chest pains, so he was rushed to the hospital where they probably found out it was just drugs or something. Anyway he's OK and here's where things get confusing.

According to the report, "The ailing radio show host was sent to the same medical center that a United Press International reporter misidentified in an article published in 2008 as the facility in which President Obama was born. Though the error was corrected to accurately indicate that Obama was born in the Kapi’olani Medical Center, the mistake fueled 'birther' conspiracy theories that Limbaugh then dedicated significant airtime to promoting. Since then, Limbaugh has gone as far to state that Hawaii 'morphed into Kenya one day in 1961 [the year Obama was born] and reverted back to Hawaii the next day.'"

It's a good thing he didn't die or his listeners would've assumed his death certificate was fake. (Think Progress)

-Cartoon Time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, now that 2009 is all over with, it's time to look back and see what we're leaving behind!

year in review
Click for animation

You know, these things always sound more heartwarming than they actually are... (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Ka-Ching! GOP Goes For Big Flight 253 Payday."

After the crotchbomber's failed attempt at crotchbombing, the Republican Party is scoring big bucks from their panicky and cowardly base.

Anyone ever notice that when terrorists strike (or even fail to strike), Republicans benefit?

Someone ought to look into that. Seems a little too convenient for me... (Talking Points Memo)

-Best advice you'll hear for the rest of the year-
Take a cab tonight and save yourself a headache -- or worse.

See ya next year. (My Life)

2009 News Dive Awards

Another year has come and gone. As with most years, we look back at 2009 and say, "good riddance." Some good things happened, sure, and in your life, I hope the good outweighed the bad. And here's hoping that the worse thing that happens to you this year is that you keep writing "2009" on your checks for a little while (you know you're going to).

But in the world of current events, things never seem to go well. And this is generally because of those who've dedicated their lives to making sure that things don't go swimmingly. These are the people who go out of their way to build the bumps in the road, who toss monkey wrenches in the gears, and generally make nuisances of themselves. For these people, we have the 2009 News Dive Awards.

Worst Social Media Troll:
PalinThis isn't a very competitive field, but as social media becomes more popular, it's becoming easier for trolls to mess up our culture with lies, attacks, and general dumbassery.

And no one is better at all three than former McCain running mate and current Queen of the Wingnuts Sarah Palin. Her use of Facebook to forgo the media and their pesky fact-checkers wins Sarah the gold this year. And this award isn't the only coveted award Sarah's Facebook page has won; she also takes home Politifact's Lie of the Year for her "death panels" claim regarding healthcare reform legislation.

No one deserves both awards more.

Biggest Prick
LiebermanAlways a very competitive field, but Sen. Joe Lieberman takes this one in a walk. Serial betrayer, obstructionist, and all around jerkwad, Joe takes this award mainly for his ever-shifting reasons for blocking healthcare reform. It quickly became obvious that Joe was irrational, driven only by a grudge against progressives who opposed his re-election.

Joe's reasons for blocking the legislation switched between stupid and dishonest so often that you sometimes wondered if he wasn't Sarah Palin in disguise. If Democrats don't physically pick him up and throw him out of their caucus in 2010, he's just going to continue being the whiny little traitor he is now. It's not even 2010 yet and Joe's already contending for the same award in the coming year.

Biggest Herd of Morons
TeabaggersWithout a doubt, this one goes to the Teabaggers. Convinced that everything under the sun is a Communist plot by President Obama -- who's a Marxist, like Hitler -- tea party protesters proved that there's nothing so stupid and historically ignorant that some group of lunatics won't take it as gospel.

These are the people who Sarah Palin's Facebook trollery is aimed at, so that gives us a measure as to just how dumb these people are -- they're routinely fooled by Sarah Palin. They freaked out at town halls, brought guns to protests, and accomplished absolutely nothing.

Well, other than making public asses of themselves.

"How Can We Miss You If You Won't Go Away" Award
CheneyAfter the disaster that was the Bush administration, you'd expect the Bushies to slink off in disgrace. But that would require some amount of shame and former Vice President Dick Cheney is fresh out.

After spending eight years arguing that no one should criticize the president in a time of war, Dick's spent a lot of time criticizing the president in a time of war. Dick was widely considered the real brains of the operation that was the Bush White House, so the big flaming wreck that is the years 2001-2009 can safely be laid on his shoulders.

Yeah, let's listen to this moron...

It's Wasn't All Bad
ObamaAfter all, we elected Barack Obama, the first African-American President in US history. After enjoying near-universal approval at the beginning, his ratings fell to more normal levels in recent days and many liberals have expressed disappointment.

Still, consider the alternative... Yeah, so shut up. You've got it sweet, comparatively.


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News Roundup for 12/30/09

Praying hands
Dear Jesus, do something... I guess...

-Headline of the day-
"Christians to Hold 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting for the USA -- Jan 4 to Feb 12."

A group calling themselves Pray Daily America promises to fix everything that's wrong with America through forty days of prayer and fasting. Well, maybe not the fasting, which the goup calls "optional," but definitely the praying.

"A key to getting our nation right with God is for each person to covenant that God is our God and we are His people; We obey the first two commandments: To love God and to love one another as Jesus loved us", said Pastor Steve of Pray Daily America. "By obeying Jesus, He will deliver the USA from everything. We have a good God who forgives sin and loves people."

So what will be accomplished by all this? The report -- which is actually just a PDA press release -- doesn't actually say. I guess the people praying and fasting will feel nice after it's over, but that's about the only promise these guys seem to be making.

Still, PDA is offering "Marketing tools, a collectible wristband and covenant cards to share," so that's fun. Although, I'd be happier if the whole thing had some reason behind it... Which it apparently doesn't.

Have fun with whatever the hell it is you're doing, Pastor Steve! (Christian News Wire)

-Cheney can't type-
Politico's Mike Allen is catching some heat for an article he wrote today about Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, and the incident the media will start calling "FlamingCrotch-Gate" any minute now. So what's the problem? Well, it's mostly Cheney talking and Allen writing it down -- without bothering to point out that it was all horseshit.

The critics weren't entirely in agreement on the issue, however. Andrew Sullivan called Allen "Cheney's Chief spokesman," while Glenn Greenwald disagreed, saying that he was "Cheney's press secretary."

But it was Greenwald who got in the best dig; "Dick Cheney uses Politico like Sarah Palin uses Facebook: a venue to spout false statements to the press without being challenged." I declare him the winner.

Now seems like an excellent time to remind everyone Politico's executive editor Jim VandeHei now serves on the Pulitzer Prize committee and will help decide what awesome journalism looks like from now on.

I predict a Pulitzer is in the cards for Newt Gingrich's twitter page. (Raw Story)

-Bonus HotD-
"Price to See Palin."

If you want to see Sarah Palin at the National Tea Party Convention in February, it'll cost you $349.

Because it's so rare for her to make a public appearance, I guess. (Political Wire)

American Patriots vs. America

Minute manThey call it "ObamaCare" and it's the worst thing ever. Ask nearly any Republican or conservative and they'll tell you it's Communism, Socialism, and/or Fascism. It will destroy our economy, kill seniors, and introduce Marxism into our government. Of course, we can look at other countries that have created a healthcare system and see none of this is true. But the right has always worked from the assumption that Americans are pathetic foul-ups who can't do anything other than war right. This is something that's always bothered me about them; the people who constantly talk about American Exceptionalism seem to believe the term means "exceptionally stupid and incompetent." What nearly ever other industrialized nation has accomplished, we'll never be able to do. It's ironic and hypocritical of the same people who throw around the term "anti-Americanism" to argue that we're a nation of hopeless jerks who can barely tie our own shoes. Worse, this belief in the unique incompetence of Americans is a cornerstone of their political ideology -- the founders, who they otherwise revere, put together a useless government that couldn't organize a one horse funeral. They seem to love America as a concept, but as an actual reality, well... not so much. The government the founders created is the enemy for these so-called "patriots." Modern American conservatism is more anarchic than democratic.

So it should really come as no surprise that the right greets the prospect of an actual system of healthcare with hair-tearing, eye-clawing, pants-soiling panic. It may be an expansion of government, but barely and certainly not as much of one as the left would've liked. It's an expansion on par with rural electrification and the interstate highway system -- look at what a nightmare those turned out to be.

So it must be stopped. Except, it won't be. Republican patriots have given up on defending America from the government of its founders. They're retreating from this hill and letting it fall to the forces of Communism - but they plan to take it back.

[CBS News:]

Prominent conservatives are calling for congressional Republicans to campaign in 2010 on a pledge to repeal the Democrats' sprawling health care legislation, but political and logistical realities could make repealing the bill a promise that is hard to keep.

"I suspect every Republican running in '10 and again in '12 will run on an absolute pledge to repeal this bill," former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "The bill –- most of the bill does not go into effect until '13 or '14, except on the tax increase side; and therefore, I think there won't be any great constituency for it. And I think it'll be a major campaign theme."

Screw you American government! You might've won this battle, but the war goes on.

Unfortunately, this bold plan to save America from America has a tiny little hitch -- there's no hope in hell of it ever happening. Republicans have wanted to repeal Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid since the days these programs were founded and they haven't had a lot of success. "ObamaCare" will be no different.

[Dave Weigel, Washington Independent:]

But as Republicans gravitate towards a repeal message for the 2010 elections, they’re running up against the reality that health care reform would be prohibitively hard to roll back. According to conservative health care analysts, legal analysts, and political strategists, if President Obama signs health care reform into law, Republicans will have extremely limited opportunities to repeal any part of it.

“Anyone who thinks they’ll be able to repeal ObamaCare is kidding themselves,” said Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. “If they want to stop it, they need to stop it now.”

Which, of course, they can't do either. So what they can do is make an empty campaign promise to do the impossible and hope that voters hate American government as much as they do. And that's not the first hope in their strategy; the second hope is that voters forget they ever made the promise. A third hope is that voters forget what the bill does -- poll shows that specific provisions of the Democratic healthcare plan are popular, even if the bill overall is not. These guys will be running on more hope than Obama ever did. Republicans pledging allegiance the repeal ticket will have to parry the absolutely true charges that they want to roll back the ban on denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, expanded coverage for the uninsured, and the existence of health insurance exchanges. Vague promises of free market reforms may not cut it.

"Republicans on the ballot next November who opposed the bill will be in the precarious position of telling voters they plan to roll back landmark health care reform which will have afforded coverage to hundreds of thousands in their state," Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Eric Schultz told Greg Sargent. "We absolutely intend to make Republicans look voters in the eye next November and make it clear they want to take affordable health care reform away from them."

All in all, things ought to work out well for Republicans. They're going to lose the healthcare reform fight, they're going to promise a repeal they can't possibly deliver, and their going to run on a platform of attacking reforms Americans want.

American government may not be exceptionally stupid and incompetent, but it's not because the Republican Party isn't trying hard enough.


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News Roundup for 12/29/09

Far deadlier than terrorism

-Headline of the day-
"Terrorism Still Less Deadly in US Than Lack of Health Insurance, Salmonella."

And by a wide margin. A poster at Firedoglake crunches the numbers and, if you include the Ft. Hood shootings as terrorism, 16 Americans have died from terrorist attacks this year. This also includes the Holocaust Museum shooting and the assassination of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

Meanwhile, 45,000 people have died from the lack of health coverage and 600 have died from Salmonella. The poster asks, "Clearly, providing health care to all Americans is beyond our capabilities, so when do we launch the $700 billion-a-year War on Salmonella?"

Also beating terrorism: 20,000 deaths from "unintentional falls." Here's hoping some stimulus funding buys railings. (Firedoglake)

-Rove kicked out of the house-
Dirty trickster Karl Rove and his wife of 24 years, Darby, have divorced. Which is understandable, since Karl's a total prick. Former White House press secretary Dana Perino -- who apparently still works for Karl -- said in a statement, "Karl Rove and his wife, Darby, were granted a divorce last week. The couple came to the decision mutually and amicably, and they maintain a close relationship and a strong friendship. There will be no further comment, and the family requests that its privacy be respected." We should give Rove as much space as he undoubtedly would've given any Democrat in the same situation, which is none.

I guess after tearing the country apart, he just couldn't kick the habit and tore his own family apart. (New York Times)

-Bonus HotD-
"Fox And Friends To Obama: Quit It With Your Big Words Like 'Allegedly.'"

Fox and Friends, the show that's such unbelievable bullshit that you wish there was a stronger word for bullshit, is not known for its smarts. Knowing their audience very well, FOX News aims the show straight at the 5th grade dropout demo by making it as stupid as possible.

FOX analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. does a great job of dumbing the show down for people who find Sesame Street confusingly highbrow. In discussing the president's response to the failed suicide bombing in Detroit, Johnson said that Obama wasn't exciting enough. "You rarely see him getting fired up," he said, "but in this instance the use of the term 'allegedly,' to your point, that's Harvard Law School talking, that's not commander-in-chief talking. So he needs to you know change his, some would say, rhetoric."

See, because if he changes his rhetoric, then terr'ist won't try to hurt us anymore. How's that work? How should I know; I'm not the big expert on this stuff, Johnson is -- and he didn't clarify.

The record for stupidity still goes to an earlier statement by Pete, when he said that "the true meaning of Christmas is that you don't destroy babies. You don't destroy children." Remember that part from A Christmas Carol?

Yeah, neither do I. (Talking Points Memo, with video)

Hoekstra's Contradictory Reasoning

Let's play dueling quotes. First off is a statement on the 2009 anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks:

It´s no accident that our homeland has not been attacked in the years since 9/11, nor has it been a lack of desire on al-Qaeda´s part, it´s because we have prevented it. The pain and suffering we felt on that tragic day led us to act to prevent such attacks from happening again.

Now, a Christmas twitterpation on the attempted Detroit attack:

Administration says attempted terrorist attack. No. It was a terrorist attack! Just not as successful as they (AQ) planned.

These contradictory statements were both made by Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra. It took me maybe five minutes to dig up the first quote. It's been an article of faith among the GOP that there were no terrorist attacks after 9/11 under Bush, so I knew that Hoekstra had to have said it -- never mind that it isn't true. By Pete's revised reasoning, it's doubly untrue now. It's been doubly untrue since 2002, when shoe-bomber Richard Reid failed to carry off a similar plan.

It may have been easy to find Hoekstra's self-contradiction, but that doesn't mean it's going to get a lot of play in the media. If the media ever bothered to look back in time, they'd quickly conclude that he's a clown. Not only has he made an ass of himself here, but in 2006 he joined then-Senator Rick Santorum in claiming that stale chemical weapons found in Iraq qualified as weapons of mass destruction. At that time, few in the media pointed out that a WMD actually has to cause mass destruction. Chemical weapons degraded by time don't count. That is, unless you want to call a headache "mass destruction." In any case, if someone had made the case that we had to invade Iraq because Saddam had headache bombs, I really doubt the public would've backed it. In trying to justifying the invasion after the fact, Santorum and Hoekstra made fools of themselves.

The point I'm getting to here is that Pete Hoekstra isn't the brightest bulb in the box. To put it bluntly, he's kind of a dope. Shooting down his arguments isn't all that hard to do, because they're already in a tailspin as soon as they're made.

Which begs the question; why isn't anyone shooting them down?

[Greg Sargent, Plum Line:]

Why aren’t Democrats backing up Obama at a time when he’s under fire from the right?

Yesterday, I posted on how conservatives like Rep. Pete Hoekstra, Rep. Pete King, and Newt Gingrich were using last Friday’s attempted bombing in Detroit as a hook to attack Obama’s approach to terrorist attacks and the campaign against Islamic extremism.

And, yet, Democrats have been silent in the face of these broadsides. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the Chairman of the House Intelliegence Committee, has been effectively AWOL from the news. Rep. Bennie Thompson and Senator Jay Rockefeller have called for investigations, but have not made any real attempt to articulate a defense of Obama’s unwillingness to escalate. No one else seems willing to step up.

As I've just demonstrated, it's not like it's especially hard to do. It doesn't take a lot of effort to make a fool look like a fool. Other criticisms have been just as dumb. Some have made a lot of noise about the fact that the would-be bomber -- Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab -- had been reported by his father as a potential terrorist, but the fact is that authorities determined that the evidence was too thin to act on. If the accusation makes you guilty, then anyone can get you on the no-fly list by simply saying you might be a terrorist.

But Democrats seem to be unaware that the object of the game is to get the puck in the other team's net. Say what you like about Obama's poll ratings, he's still the most popular politician in Washington. He's also the leader of the party. Not only would backing him up be pretty much effortless, it'd be smart politics. You can make Republicans look like fools without working up a sweat.


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News Roundup for 12/28/09

Republican '10 campaign poster

-Headline of the day-
"Republicans Who Opposed The Stimulus Continue To Pan It As A ‘Failure,’ While Also Taking Credit For Its Success."

It's Communism, it's Socialism, and it's a big fat failure that's just doing a bang-up job. The success of this failure depends on whether or not Republicans want to take credit for it, so fence-straddling has become the new big thing for GOPers. The stimulus is bad, until it's good, and the way you deal with that inconsistency is to not mention that stimulus money is actually stimulus money.

So, for Rep. Blaine Luetkemeye, the stimulus is a "large-scale failure," while stimulus money for a program in Frankford, Missouri is "critical." Luetkemeyer has already been to the stimulus well once for $100 million.

Rep. Michael McCaul calls the stimulus "pork-filled," which is unfortunate for him, since a highway expansion in his district is a big stimulus project.

Rep. Geoff Davis took $1,044,140 for a school system in his district, which seems a little irresponsible of him since he says the stimulus has failed. Why would he want to impose this failure on students in his own district?

According to the report, "House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) recently hosted a job fair filled with jobs fueled by the stimulus, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been taking credit for stimulus projects in his home state."

Apparently, the Republican Party has been infiltrated by commies. No one can save us now. (Think Progress)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, it's Dogboy and Mr. Dan and they're here to explain economics!

Click for animation

Yeah, Christmas has come and gone, but the holidays aren't over until your tree's on the curb on New Years Day. (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Fuck You, Nigerian Would-Be Plane Blower-Upper."

I'll drink to that... (Wonkette)

Republican Stupidity Hits New Lows

On Christmas day, the United States was attacked by terrorists. Americans who should've been drinking eggnog spent the day glued to their TV screens, watching 9/11 happen all over again in the form of some lunatic failing to blow his own dick off. The world will never be the same, because 12/25 -- like 9/11 before it -- changed everything. Clearly, the only rational course of action is to re-invade Iraq. That, and have every air passenger drop their pants as they take off their shoes before boarding. Otherwise, the republic will surely crumble.

To put things in perspective, whizbang statistician Nate Silver breaks things down. He compares flights that have experienced some sort of terrorist attempt with those that haven't.

There were a total of 674 passengers, not counting crew or the terrorists themselves, on the flights on which these incidents occurred. By contrast, there have been 7,015,630,000 passenger enplanements over the past decade. Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.

So, the odds being forced to witness some lunatic failing to blow his dick off are pretty slim. You could be struck by lightning 20 times before you reach the same level of improbability. If you do manage to see this happen on an airliner, buy a lottery ticket immediately -- you may be in some sort of cosmic sweet spot.

But this is America, dammit. We don't let a little thing like math get in the way of a good old fashioned panic. If we did that, we might conclude that airline travel is relatively safe. Where's the fun in that?

Rep. Pete Hoekstra demonstrates the way you deal with this sort of one in 10 million event. You totally freak out, lose any sense of perspective, and -- if you can manage it -- eat your own shoe.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) said Sunday that it is fair to blame the Obama administration for the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight bound for Detroit on Christmas Day.

Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Select Intelligence Committee said that the administration has not taken the threat of terrorist threats on the U.S. seriously.

Asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace if it is fair to blame the Obama administration for the attacks, the Michigan Republican replied "Yeah, I think it really is."

"The Obama administration came in and said we're not going to use the word terrorism anymore," Pete said, "we're going to call it man-made disasters, trying to, I think, downplay the threat from terrorism." Not surprisingly, smart people were quick to point out that Hoekstra's a moron.

"By any reasonable measure, this is breathtakingly stupid," writes Steve Benen. "Putting aside the fact that Hoekstra, as a factual matter, isn't even close to reality -- the White House uses the word 'terrorism' all the time, whether Hoekstra keeps up on current events or not -- the argument itself is ludicrous. Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up an airplane based on Obama administration rhetoric? Is that really the line the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee wants to share with a national television audience?"

I have a lot of respect for Benen, but I'm surprised he hasn't noticed that "breathtakingly stupid" happens all the time. After all, Hoekstra's speaking to the same group of people who've elevated mental midgets Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Glenn Beck to the same status most people reserve for folks like Mark Twain. When you're talking to idiots, it helps to speak the language. And the Republican Party is becoming fluent in Idiotese.

Take, for example, noted lunatic Sen. Jim DeMint. When it comes to Idiotese, DeMint isn't just fluent, he's a poet.

And this is at a time, as Senator Lieberman said, that we’ve got to use our imaginations, we’ve got to be constantly flexible, we have to out-think the terrorists. And when we formed the airport security system, we realized we could not use collective bargaining because of that need to be flexible. Yet that appears now to be the top priority of the administration. And this whole thing should remind us, Chris, that the soft talk about engagement, closing Gitmo, these things are not gonna appease the terrorists. They’re gonna keep coming after us, and we can’t have politics as usual in Washington, and I’m afraid that’s what we’ve got right now with airport security.

That's right, we shouldn't deal with unions, because that won't appease terrorists. I could spend all day unpacking all the stupid in this statement for you, but neither of us have that kind of time. So we'll just hit the most obvious two points; 1) al Qaeda doesn't give a crap about collective bargaining and 2) I thought appeasing terrorists was supposed to be a bad thing.

But, hey, it's not about terrorism or the one in 10 million event of some moron trying to blow his own dick off -- it's about attacking Barack Obama. This is what we'll be dealing with so long as this man is president. Get used to it, because the Big Republican Plan for Taking Back America hinges on being this stupid.


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News Roundup for 12/22/09

Griffith poses with children
Rep. Griffith, shown graduating from the 4th grade

-Headline of the day-
"Dem Switches To GOP Because Obama Took Away His Missile Defense Pork?"

Democratic Rep. Parker Griffith is no longer a Democratic rep, he's gone over to the dark side. Although, looking at his record, you've got to wonder why the Alabama Blue Dog was a Democrat in the first place. He voted against healthcare reform, the stimulus package, cap-and-trade legislation, financial reform, and said he wouldn't vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker next year.

But it looks like the final straw for this fiscal conservative was the fact that the Obama administration was no longer willing to throw money at his district to pay for a missile defense system that doesn't actually work.

"The Obama administration’s decision to scrap plans to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe further frustrated Griffith..." Politico reports, "because his district contains the base for Boeing’s ground-based missile defense research." No more corporate welfare for Boeing? No Democratic Rep. Parker Griffith.

Griffith's defection shifts the balance of the House of Representatives from Democratic domination to... Well, Democratic domination. It's a move without any real consequence at all for Democrats, who now hold 258 seats to the GOP's 177. The only real consequence is for Porky-Parky, who's now a member of a pretty powerless minority party.

Smooth smove, genius. (Plum Line)

-Micheal Steele's kind of a dick-
At least, that's Sen. Tom Harkin's take on the head of the Republican National Committee. When Democrats broke the filibuster of healthcare reform, Mikey freaked out, telling people on a conference call that Democrats were "cowards" who were "flipping the bird" to the American public. I think he also chugged a fifth of vodka, slapped an aide, and took a crap in his desk drawer. Don't quote me on that, because I'm not sure.

Anyway, someone asked Tom what he thought of Mikey's reaction and whether he was surprised by it. "I didn't seem surprised," he told reporters. "It is not the first obnoxious thing he said. I mean, the guy gives new definition to the word obnoxious. You know. He says outrageous things."

Of course, this will just cause Steele to freak out all over again... Which I think was the whole point. (Huffington Post)

-Bonus HotD-
"RNC Chair Alleges, Without Proof, White House Took CBO to 'Woodshed' to Get Better Health Care Budget Numbers."

That headline is from FOX News, a network so comfortable with bullshit that it cuts paychecks for Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck. And even they feel the need to point out that Steele's statement just might not be all that true.

I think Tom Harkin's right; Michael Steele's a little bit of a dick. (FOX News)

New Rule for Iraq Practically Guarantees Abortions

Female sailors at attention
If you're in Iraq and you get pregnant, you've got trouble.


A new order from the general in charge of U.S. troops in northern Iraq makes getting pregnant or impregnating a fellow soldier an offense punishable by court-martial.

The directive, part of a larger order restricting the behavior of the 22,000 soldiers under Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo's command, is meant to prevent losing soldiers at a time when troop strength is stretched thin, Cucolo explained in a statement sent to the troops under his command and provided to CNN.

"I need every soldier I've got, especially since we are facing a drawdown of forces during our mission," Cucolo wrote. "Anyone who leaves this fight earlier than the expected 12-month deployment creates a burden on their teammates. Anyone who leaves this fight early because they made a personal choice that changed their medical status -- or contributes to doing that to another -- is not in keeping with a key element of our ethos."

"I've got a 22,000-man task force and I need every soldier I've got," Cucolo explained. "We are facing a drawdown and anyone that leaves earlier than the expected 12 months creates a burden on their teammates. My female soldiers are invaluable -- many of them hold high impact jobs. In general, my troops are few in number and I need them all."

The problems here are many, but the one that came immediately to my mind is that this new rule practically guarantees abortion. I decided to take a tour through some top "pro-life" sites and see what they had to say about this. Turns out, their response to this new rule is... Well, they don't have one.

In every case, the big stories on these site were how healthcare reform is going to pay for abortions -- something that's entirely untrue.

But hey, they don't have time to worry about real world abortion, they have BS to launch against healthcare reform. You have one issue that's guaranteed to encourage abortions and another issue that's not going to do anything to encourage abortions. But the Republican Party isn't launching an attack on Cucolo's new rule, so neither are the anti-abortion types. If you ever needed proof that the entire "pro-life" movement is just a sockpuppet for the GOP, there ya go.

Of course, there's also another explanation; it may be that the anti-abortion types think they already have their bases covered here. If you're in the military, it's not so easy to get an abortion.

Author Kathryn Joyce explains:

"You hear these legends of coat-hanger abortions," a 26-year-old former Marine sergeant told me recently, "but there are no coat hangers in Iraq. I looked." Amy (who prefers not to use her real name) was stationed in Fallujah as a military journalist two years ago when she discovered she was pregnant. As a female Marine, a distinct minority in the branch, Amy was fearful of going to her chain of command to explain her situation.

For military women, who lack all rights to medical privacy, facing an unplanned pregnancy is a daunting obstacle. Thanks to anti-abortion forces in Congress, military hospitals are banned from providing abortion services, except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest (and for the latter two, only if the patient pays for the service herself). Amy says her options were "like being given a choice between swimming in a pond full of crocodiles or piranhas."

Amy tried twice to self-abort with the cleaning rod from a rifle. When the second attempt hospitalized her, she was charged with a crime. "The first sergeant came to her hospital room to announce that Amy would be punished under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice," Joyce writes, "which addresses violations of general regulations, for having had sex in a war zone." Amy's pregnancy was the result of rape, an ongoing problem in the military. A Pentagon report released in May discovered 2,923 reported cases of rape in 2008.

Of course, the anti-abortion movement has good reason to ignore cases like Amy's, which in turn gives them good reason to ignore Cucolo's rule. When women can't get clinical abortions, they still abort. Women don't abort because of "convenience," as the common lie would have it, women abort because they believe they have no choice. As a result, when you make abortion illegal, women die. The inability to legislate abortion out of existence isn't something that these groups want to highlight -- especially when you consider that their entire strategy toward abortion is to legislate it out of existence. It's not working in the military and it won't work anywhere else. So they don't bring up Cucolo's rule, because they don't want to bring attention to their failures.

At least, that's the only explanation that occurs to me. If you've got a better explanation for why the "pro-life" movement is silent on a rule that is guaranteed to encourage abortion, I'd like to hear it.


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News Roundup for 12/21/09

Bush struggles to get out of car
Americans believe this man sucks

-Headline of the day-
"Americans Judge The Bush Decade: 'Awful' And 'Not So Good.'"

Turns out that before we got a secret illegal alien Muslim terr'ist who wants to destroy America through Communism for president, we had a guy who wanted to destroy America the old fashioned way -- through rank incompetence, corruption, and general fuckwittedness. Who knew?

Anyway, the good news is that this "George W. Bush" guy -- AKA "Dubya," "Shrub," or "Monkey Boy" -- failed in his plan to destroy America because of all the aforementioned incompetence. Turns out that a lot of people remember this guy and they don't seem to like him much.

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds that 58% of Americans remember the Bush years as "awful" or "not so good," which tells me that "catastrophic" wasn't an option.

It also tells me that 42% of Americans don't remember this Bush guy at all. (Think Progress)

-Naughty or nice?-
First Tiger Woods, now this...

TMZ: Claus for Alarm? Sleigh Accident Remains Unexplained
Click for full comic

Try to keep it in your pants, Kringle. (Bad Reporter)

-Bonus HotD-
"Dick Cheney: HUMAN EVENTS' Conservative of the Year."

The rightwing rag Human Events names Dick the nutbag of the year. Congrats Dick! And who better to write the accompanying man-crush porn for this award than lunatic UN-hater and former Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton? No one, that's who.

Man, this thing is just a whole pile of crazy... Wait a second, I'm starting to remember this Bush guy.

Yeah, he sucked, didn't he? (Human Events)

Healthcare Reform Moves Forward

Senate votesAs of (very) early this morning, healthcare reform has become a near certainty... Although, maybe we should be calling it healthcare near-reform. What was a good bill in the House of Representatives -- Stupak aside -- became a deeply compromised bill in the Senate. Let's not forget that the bill had an original deadline of August, but Senate majority leader Harry Reid decided against woking through the summer recess -- something Nancy Pelosi was willing to do in the House. This killed all momentum behind the it and dropped the whole debate in the lap of the town hall crazies. Had Reid stuck to the deadline -- or, at least, made the effort to -- we might've had a very different bill. Add to this Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus' irrational fetish for bipartisanship and we see the Senate Democratic leadership dropping the ball at almost every opportunity. Given the self-constructed obstacles people like Reid and Baucus put up for themselves, we can be excused for saying that seeing even this much-weaker bill move forward is a Christmas miracle. Democratic leadership didn't entirely blow it, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Baucus' snipe hunt for Republican votes looks especially foolish now, with the every Republican voting to sustain the filibuster that was broken last night. There was never a hope in hell of a bipartisan bill -- good or bad.

But the Senate leadership wasn't alone in turning a fairly decent bill into a collection of compromises. Sen. Russ Feingold says he'll vote for the final bill, but he's not happy about it. And he places the blame for the loss of a public option on a lack of leadership from another branch of government.

I've been fighting all year for a strong public option to compete with the insurance industry and bring health care spending down. I continued that fight during recent negotiations, and I refused to sign onto a deal to drop the public option from the Senate bill. Unfortunately, the lack of support from the administration made keeping the public option in the bill an uphill struggle. Removing the public option from the Senate bill is the wrong move, and eliminates $25 billion in savings. I will be urging members of the House and Senate who draft the final bill to make sure this essential provision is included.

But while the loss of the public option is a bitter pill to swallow, on balance, the bill still delivers meaningful reform, and the cost of inaction is simply too high. This bill significantly expands coverage and helps protect Wisconsinites from high costs and insurance company abuses, such as denying or restricting coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The bill also improves a flawed Medicare formula that denies Wisconsin fair reimbursement rates, encourages the kind of low-cost, high-value care practiced in our state, increases access to home and community-based long-term care, and reduces federal budget deficits by $132 billion over the next decade.

Throughout this entire debate, the White House has been largely AWOL. And this Senate bill shows it.

In President Obama's defense, this has been his approach to nearly everything -- and it's been working. It just hasn't worked here. But the fact is that you don't play the same strategy every game. When it becomes clear that everything's going all to hell, you tweak your strategy and try to change the game. That didn't happen.

The word you'll hear most to describe this bill -- even from supporters -- will be "flawed." But it's literally better than the nothing we have now. What we call a "healthcare system" isn't a system at all. This bill makes things somewhat more systematic, but we still won't have an actual system. What we'll have is a better market.

We'll also have something to improve on. I've said here before that you can't improve something that doesn't exist and, while I was talking about a public option at the time, I'll take this. If you can say anything about the bill the Senate passed last night, it's that it's eminently improvable. Something exists and this will be revisited.

In arguing in favor of the bill and in speaking for her late husband Ted, Victoria Kennedy wrote in the Washington Post yesterday:

-- Insurance protections like the ones Ted fought for his entire life would become law.

-- Thirty million Americans who do not have coverage would finally be able to afford it. Ninety-four percent of Americans would be insured. Americans would finally be able to live without fear that a single illness could send them into financial ruin.

-- Insurance companies would no longer be able to deny people the coverage they need because of a preexisting illness or condition. They would not be able to drop coverage when people get sick. And there would be a limit on how much they can force Americans to pay out of their own pockets when they do get sick.

-- Small-business owners would no longer have to fear being forced to lay off workers or shut their doors because of exorbitant insurance rates. Medicare would be strengthened for the millions of seniors who count on it.

-- And by eliminating waste and inefficiency in our health-care system, this bill would bring down the deficit over time.

Better, inarguably. "Health care would finally be a right, and not a privilege, for the citizens of this country," she wrote.

It's been pointed out that getting any sort of reform in his first term is a tremendous accomplishment for President Obama -- and he got this far in his first year of that term. It is a tremendous accomplishment and, despite its many flaws, is a net gain for the nation.

But you've got to wonder how much more Barack Obama and Senate leaders could've gotten if they'd actually shown up for it.


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News Roundup for 12/18/09

Two male figures atop wedding cake
This is how the world ends

-Headline of the day-
"Marriage equality is now legal in the nation’s capital."

That's right, the nation's capital falls to the Homosexual Menace. The dark moment was caught for posterity by CNN:

Oh, the humanity... According to the report, among the horrific consequences of this historic defeat for red-blooded Americans is a boost to DC's economy "by over $52.2 million over three years, which would generate increases in local government tax and fee revenues by $5.4 million and create approximately 700 new jobs."

Clearly, we are doomed. I counsel panic. (Think Progress)

-A visit from Buck Turgidson-
You might remember way back to yesterday, when I reported that the John Birch Society would be co-sponsoring the Crazy People's Action Conference next year. Well, it turns out that Birchers have a Google alert set for any combination of the words "John Birch" and "loopy," which ought to keep them pretty busy.

Anyhoo, my post set off the batsignal at JBS headquarters and I got the following comment to my roundup:

When Hillary Clinton mentions a "vast right-wing conspiracy" or global-warming advocates accuse all those who oppose their bad science as "tools of the oil industry" or when a recent journalist claims that a wealthy capitalist, whose father was a founder member of The John Birch Society, has been funding the opposition to Obama Care, the kept media nods its collectivist head in agreement. But when The John Birch Society quotes from David Rockefeller's own autobiography about his support of a one-world government or when it brings evidence to light about plans for a North American Union, the corporate media labels The JBS, "conspiracy nuts." In some cases, lazy journalists, who never leave the comfort of their cubicle, simply rehash the same old lies about The John Birch Society.

It appears that the American people are finally catching up with The John Birch Society. Your smears, and ridicule aren't as efective as they have been. Why? Because what The John Birch Society has been saying is unfolding right before us.

1n 1958, The JBS founder, Robert Welch, made some predictions. His speech is on YouTube. Check The JBS web site: JBS.org or E-mail me at hshurtleff@jbs.org

Hal Shurtleff
The John Birch Society
Boston, MA

So, did David Rockefeller say he was for a "one world government?" What do you think? Is there a big plot to start a North American Union? Only in the fevered imaginations of crazy people.

And, if Birchers had been right in everything they'd predicted, we'd all be speaking Russian right now. Americans aren't "finally catching up with The John Birch Society," because polling shows that, on almost every single issue, the right is out of the mainstream -- and JBS is about as far right as you can get without sewing swastikas on your shirt.

There's a reason that the JBS batsignal goes off so often Hal; the consensus position is that you guys are a bunch of frootloops. And, if you don't like people pointing that you're insane, maybe the wise thing to do would be to stop being so insane!

But hey, I guess everyone has to have a hobby and the JBS's hobby is freaking out that someone's putting fluoride in your water. At least it keeps them off the streets. (Griper News)

-Bonus HotD-
"German Reporter To Senator Inhofe: 'You're Ridiculous'."

Turns out Der Spiegel hires some pretty sharp cookies. (Plum Line)


News Roundup for 12/17/09

Man in straitjacket
Typical John Bircher

-Headline of the day-
"Look Who's Coming to CPAC."

OK, so what's CPAC? CPAC stands for the "Crazy People's Action Conference" and they meet yearly to decide which whacked-out, paranoid weirdness all conservatives are going to fall for next.

So who's coming to CPAC? The John Birch Society, which specializes in whacked-out, paranoid weirdness. The entry at RationalWiki tells us that Birchers "posited the conspiracy theory that the environmental movement, the peace movement, womens libbers, the mainstream media, international Soviet Communism, the United Nations, and the Book of the Month Club (no mention of water fluoridation though, surprisingly) were all in cahoots with the Rockefellers who sought to control the world through the Council on Foreign Relations." Birchers, with a conspiracy theory that fluoridated was a commie plot, were also the inspiration for General "Buck" Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove -- a character who became obsessed with an imagined communist plot to steal Americans' precious bodily fluids.

Yup, totally loopy. Which puts them right in the mainstream of Glenn Beck-addled teabaggers, birthers, conspiracy theorists, and people who think Obama is the antichrist.

And they aren't just coming to CPAC, they're going to help run it. According to the report, "[T]he 2010 CPAC gathering will be co-sponsored by the hyper-conservative John Birch Society."

They ought to fit right in. (Political Animal)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, wondering what you can afford to get everyone for Christmas? Yeah, me too!

But some people don't have that problem, thanks to Bonusmas... Yay for them!

Click for animation

Sucks to be you, doesn't it kid? (MarkFiore.com)

-That's it-
I've been Xmas shopping and now I'm tired and didn't finish the roundup and I'm done anyway, so shut up you.

Happy Holidays! (My Life)


News Roundup for 12/16/09

Dog takes a crap
Congress shown creating healthcare legislation

-Headline of the day-
"Democrats Lash Out At Obama Over Health Care Disappointments."

As the healthcare reform moves away from actual reform, people have begun pointing fingers. Unfortunately for the Obama administration, pretty much every finger is pointing in the direction of a big white mansion on Pennsylvania Ave. The reviews have not been rave:

"The president keeps listening to Rahm Emanuel," says Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). "No public option, no extending Medicare to 55, no nothing, an excise tax, God!... The insurance lobby is taking over."

"It's ridiculous," says Rep. David Obey, "and the Obama administration is sitting on the sidelines. That's nonsense."

"Snowe? Stupak? Lieberman? Who left these people in charge?" Rep. Anthony Weiner says. "It's time for the president to get his hands dirty. Some of us have compromised our compromised compromise. We need the president to stand up for the values our party shares. We must stop letting the tail wag the dog of this debate."

"This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don't think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth," says Sen. Russ Feingold. "I think they could have been higher. I certainly think a stronger bill would have been better in every respect."

Whether or not Russ is right and this bill was what the White House wanted all along, it certainly seems like this is a bill they're willing to settle for. On what should've been the signature accomplishment of his first term, Barack Obama has been largely AWOL. He gave congress a vague idea and said, "Come back with something good," which -- in case you haven't been paying attention -- doesn't exactly work very well.

Russ is wrong about one thing, though. We can blame Lieberman. Blaming Lieberman should become America's new pastime. (Huffington Post)

-How to screw yourself-
Hey, want a $150 gift card for Hooters? Yeah, actually you don't. According to the report, "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce — one of the Obama administration’s staunchest opponents — is using 'incentivized' web ads to get people involved in their campaign to fight health care reform. The incentive? A $150 gift card for Hooters."

Seems even the crappy "reform" it looks like we're going to get is too good for the Chamber. See, you click the ad and you start getting wingnut emails informing you of the creeping communism represented by healthcare reform. After prolonged exposure to said horseshit, your mind becomes warped and you start thinking maybe Glenn Beck has a point. So, you have unaffordable health insurance and you're a teabagger frootloop.

But you get a free night at Hooters, which is totally worth not being able to afford the bill for the heart attack all those deep-fried chicken wings gave you. (Think Progress)

-Bonus HotD-
"Gibbs Lashes Back At Dean, Suggests He's Irrational."

Howard Dean is like pretty much everyone -- he doesn't like the Senate healthcare bill much... Mostly because it sucks so much.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked about this today and said that Howard is a loony. Joe Lieberman, on the other hand, is awesome.

Anyone have any idea how much booze it would take to forget the past six months ever happened? I'd really like to know. (Huffington Post, via reddit)


News Roundup for 12/15/09

Obama with Nobel Prize
The criminal flaunts his crime

-Headline of the day-
"Obama's 'Unconstitutional' Nobel Prize."

Whether or not you think President Obama deserved a Nobel Peace Prize, you've got to admit it was totally illegal for him to accept it. So says some fella named "Jim Brown" who writes for the Christian wingnut site OneNewsNow. See, it's in the Constitution and everything.

"A clause in Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution states: 'No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office or Trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign state,'" he writes. "That raises a question: Is the Nobel Peace Prize an 'Emolument' -- a gift arising from one's office which includes some sort of monetary award with it?"

No, it's not an emolument. I can see Brown's confusion though, since this towering intellect of journalism and constitutional scholarship has the definition wrong. An emolument isn't "a gift arising from one's office which includes some sort of monetary award with it," as Encyclopedia Brown thinks it is. It's "salary, wages and benefits paid for employment or an office held." Unless Brown is willing to argue that being a Nobel Laureate is a job, he's got everything all balled up. You might also consider that Obama's not going to keep the monetary prize anyway, so the whole damned question is moot.

But hey, why let a little thing like the facts get in the way? If they did that, OneNewsNow would go out of business. (Right Wing Watch)

-Who wants bipartisanship?-
Turns out not most people. A new Research2000 poll finds that when asked, "Which do you think should be a higher priority for Barack Obama right now — working in a bipartisan way with Republicans in Congress or sticking to the policies he promised he would during the campaign?" 49% said Obama should stick to his guns, while 33% say they want bipartisanship above all.

"The conclusion seems clear," writes Greg Sargent, "When questions about bipartisanship are put in a policy context, people care more about the actual policy contents of legislation than whether it has the bipartisan seal of approval."

In other words, people want results. Let's face it, Republicans and Democrats holding hands doesn't exactly put food on the table.

Now someone tell Obama we're behind him. Because I don't think he knows. (Plum Line)

-Bonus HotD-
"Oral Roberts, 1918-2009."

God finally called him home. Or maybe the devil strangled him in his bed. Whichever...

Early reports say the remains of his televangelist empire will now go to his son, Anal. (Talking Points Memo)

Here Comes a New Civil War!

Brother against brother, a house divided against itself. Goober peas and Johnny Reb. Rhett and Scarlett. Banjo vs. fiddle. Turns out it's all going to happen again...

[EU Times:]

Poster for 'Gone With the Wind'Russian Military Analysts are reporting to Prime Minister Putin that US President Barack Obama has issued orders to his Northern Command’s (USNORTHCOM) top leader, US Air Force General Gene Renuart, to “begin immediately” increasing his military forces to 1 million troops by January 30, 2010, in what these reports warn is an expected outbreak of civil war within the United States before the end of winter.

According to these reports, Obama has had over these past weeks “numerous” meetings with his war council about how best to manage the expected implosion of his Nations banking system while at the same time attempting to keep the United States military hegemony over the World in what Russian Military Analysts state is a “last ditch gambit” whose success is “far from certain”.

This isn't the start of a second Civil War, but the birth of a new wingnut meme. The gullibility of some people seems to be endless. If I ever want to generate a whole bunch of traffic to this blog, I'll post the shocking revelation that Barack Obama plans to sell Alaska back to Russia. The credulous teabagger masses will flock like sheep to the site.

Will sad, lonely men soon be writing long, beautiful letters to their Dearest Ophelia? What do you think? I'd never heard of EU Times before, but one glance tells me that it makes WorldNetDaily look calm and reasoned. A sidebar titled "Random Articles" offered stories like "Third World Immigration Turns London into Middle East Battleground" and "Zion is FAILING – We know EVERYTHING!" The site offers sections on "European Pride" and "Survival" -- which apparently has something to do with "White Extinction."

According to Southern Poverty Law Center's Larry Keller, EUT "carries links to American white supremacist publications like American Renaissance (whose editor says black people cannot sustain civilization)..."

Despite the fact that the source for this story is so obviously untrustworthy, it's beginning to gain some traction among the perpetually paranoid and conspiracy-minded right. For people who believe that Barack Obama isn't actually an American, that there are plans to round up conservatives and put them in concentration camps, and that the president is either a Communist or the Antichrist, this really isn't much of a stretch. They've ready set the bar for what qualifies as proof pretty damned low. So seeing people running with this on social networking sites isn't all that surprising.

Already, it's gaining some legitimacy on the right. Keller points us to the popular Libertarian site LewRockwell.com, where Michael Gaddy warns that this is absolutely going to happen. It's all true, true, true and it means that big gummint is coming to take all your guns away.

It would appear those who call themselves "public servants" believe the people they supposedly serve have become dissatisfied with their job performance and will resort to some form of civil disobedience, which will necessitate military intervention. According to the article, Obama believes the reason for this civil unrest to be an expected "implosion" of this country’s financial systems. Should these events occur, members of the military would be forced to decide whether they would support their government, which gave hundreds of billions to government cronies in the financial sector, or their country.

A prudent man would speculate if the government so fears coming civil unrest, will they move to seize firearms throughout the country and use these military forces along with law enforcement to do so? I believe the answer can be found in the events surrounding the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Government forces there not only seized firearms from private citizens but also relocated many citizens against their will.

No, Mike. A prudent man would conclude that this is all horse crap and that maybe the prudent thing to do wouldn't include taking the say-so of an obviously white supremacist site. That strikes me as what a prudent man would do. Of course, Gaddy goes on to freak out over the supposed "FEMA camps" Obama's going to put conservatives into, so "prudent man" doesn't really seem to describe him very well. Maybe a better term would be "gullible chump."

But it's not that the chumps are falling for this that bothers me so much. It's that they believe what they want to believe and they're beginning to believe this. They want to believe another civil war is coming, which says more about their own desires than it does those of President Obama.


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This Week in Copenhagen

I’m an only child. And just so ya know, I’m not a spoiled brat and I’m fully aware that the sun does not rise on my left shoulder and set on my right. I’m also an only child who wants a lot of kids. I’ll be the mom in the 15-passenger van barreling down the street in about 20 years.

At least, that’s what I want. But if the people at Copenhagen have their way, I won’t be able to do it. Some leaders at the climate change have discussed adopting China’s one-child policy to reverse the impending doom of overpopulation.

First of all, the idea that the world is overpopulated is a crock. Ever been to Idaho? Montana? Wyoming? Plenty of room there.

In all seriousness: In Western Europe the population rate barely meets replacement. Russia, Spain, and Italy bottom out at less than 1.54 children per couple, and Iceland, Norway, Ireland, and Spain top the list at 2 or over. The overall fertility trend in Europe has steadily declined since 1980. American fertility just meets the 2.1 children required for population replacement, down from nearly 3.75 in 1960. With so many countries hardly even replacing themselves, how can we have an overpopulation crisis?

Finally, Glenn Beck made an excellent point on his show today. Where’s the women’s rights crowd? They’re always telling the government to stay out of their uteruses and give them total reproductive freedom. Isn’t restricting the number of children you can have a pretty significant violation of reproductive freedom? Why haven’t we heard from them yet?