News Roundup for 3/31/10

Empty chair
Law professor who believes healthcare reform is unconstitutional poses for photo

-Headline of the day-"
"College debate organizers unable to find any law professors to argue health reform is unconstitutional."

Now there's a problem.

In a sign that state's attorneys general are in for tough sledding if they want to sue over healthcare reform, the University of Washington recently held a "debate" in which everyone agreed that the healthcare bill is completely constitutional. And not because it was rigged, but because they couldn't find anyone who disagreed.

"Even John McKay, the former Republican U.S. attorney for Western Washington (who was forced out in 2006 under contentious circumstances) said that while he sympathized with some of the political issues in play," the report reads, "he thought the lawsuits lacked merit."

"One way to say it is, that this has to be seen as a political exercise," he said.

"I will say that we tried very hard to get a professor who could come and who thinks this is flat-out unconstitutional," event moderator Hugh Spitzer said. "But there are relatively few of them, and they are in great demand."

I'd imagine. There's always a market for people who'll tell you what you want to hear, regardless of whether or not it's true.

Ask Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck. (Think Progress)

-Bad Pope-
Bad Reporter's Don Asmussen takes on the Vatican's sex abuse scandal.

Pope: Defrocking was what got priest in trouble in the first place
Click for full comic

You've got to admit, he has a point. (Bad Reporter)

-Bonus HotD-
"Ross Douthat Blames Child-Raping Catholic Priests On... Hippies!"

That's right, the New York Times resident wingnut has declared the Catholical clergy child abuse scandal on lefties. It's all liberals' fault.

Why? Because everything is always liberals' fault. It's just that simple. (Wonkette)

Lady Gaga and the Right's Calls for Terrorist Appeasement

If there's one tactic Republicans have down pat, it's fearmongering. We see it in the "death panels" in the healthcare reform debate, we saw it in nonexistent WMD in preparing the public to invade Iraq, we see it as a "slippery slope" argument against same sex marriage, where people will inevitably begin having sex with their dogs. They know who their base is and, when they want to whip up hysteria, they turn to the most gullible and cowardly of Americans. Despite the fact that history reflects poorly on it, McCarthyism has never died, it's just been perfected. Don't like something? Well, just make some crap up, make sure it's extra scary, then present it as if it's both sensible and true.

Case in point:

[Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal:]

Lady GagaPop quiz -- What does more to galvanize radical anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world: (a) Israeli settlements on the West Bank; or (b) a Lady Gaga music video?

If your answer is (b) it means you probably have a grasp of the historical roots of modern jihadism. If, however, you answered (a), then congratulations: You are perfectly in synch with the new Beltway conventional wisdom, now jointly defined by Pat Buchanan and his strange bedfellows within the Obama administration.

That's right, it's all Lady Gaga's fault -- along with "Madonna, Farrah Fawcett, Marilyn Monroe, Josephine Baker or any other American woman who has, at one time or another, personified what the Egyptian Islamist writer Sayyid Qutb once called 'the American Temptress.'"

A few points here: First, this is insane beyond words. So insane that even people on his side of the fence are mocking it. "That must be why America was beset by jihadist attacks since at least 1948," writes Daniel Larison for The American Conservative. "Oh, wait, this never happened? How strange. That might mean that the decadence-as-cause-of-terrorism argument grossly exaggerates the importance of such cultural factors in explaining jihadist violence as a way of distracting us from remediable political grievances. In fact, attacks on Americans and American installations began after we inserted ourselves into the region s conflicts and began establishing a military presence there."

Second, in taking credit for 9/11, al Qaeda cited Bosnia and Chechnya, not "American temptresses." In fact, I gave up looking for some example of al Qaeda complaining about western women's unchaste ways. Bin Laden himself is said to be someone who's obsessed with Whitney Houston and reads Playboy. The men who carried off the 9/11 attacks frequented strip clubs, slept with prostitutes, and bought porn.

Third and finally, why are we supposed to give a crap what terrorists think? Stephens is trying to downplay the importance of settlements in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the argument that terrorism is all our fault for being so decadent and secular isn't a new one on the right. In his book The Enemy at Home, conservative icon Dinesh D'Souza writes, "In this book I make a claim that will seem startling at the outset. The cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11... In faulting the cultural left, I am not making the absurd accusation that this group blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world. The Muslims who carried out the 9/11 attacks were the product of this visceral rage -- some of it based on legitimate concerns, some of it based on wrongful prejudice, but all of it fueled and encouraged by the cultural left. Thus without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened."

D'Souza argues that terrorists don't hate us for inserting ourselves in local politics around the world, they hate us for Hollywood and gay rights and host of other "cultural left" issues that conservatives don't like and terrorists have failed to mention -- he also argues that this terrorist reasoning of his own invention has some validity. It's an "eat your peas or the boogeyman will get you" argument; live the way conservatives want you to live or terrorists will kill you.

Earlier this month, Jeff Walton of The Institute on Religion and Democracy warned that an openly lesbian Anglican bishop would get people in Africa killed. "When a Muslim sees the newspaper headline, 'Anglican elects partnered lesbian bishop,' they don't draw a distinction between African Christians and European or American Christians," he wrote. A Republican running for Roy Blunt's Missouri senate seat, Gary Nodler, argued that repealing "don't ask, don't tell" would anger terrorists and put military personnel at risk. And we all remember the national freak-out over trying terrorist suspects in New York City. The argument there was that it would anger terrorists and make NYC a target. This always struck me as an especially stupid argument; 9/11 happened there, it's already a target.

What so often jumps out at me when I write about conservatives is the hypocrisy. Republicans love to accuse Democrats and liberals of "appeasing terrorists" -- even though nothing could be further from the truth. Then, they turn around and argue that we have to literally appease terrorists; albeit appeasement of demands that terrorists have never actually made. Call it terrorism by proxy. It's not "make your culture more Godly or I'll kill you," it's "make your culture more Godly or they'll kill you." These aren't arguments, these are hollow threats.

If we do get hit again by terrorists, I will bet any amount of money you like that the video al Qaeda releases following the attack won't include the words, "...and put some clothes on Lady Gaga."


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News Roundup for 3/30/10

Plane crash from 'Lost'
Hey, coulda happened...

-Headline of the day-
"Fox News cuts away from Obama bill signing to cover plane that 'had no problem landing.'"

Whoohoo! Big news day. President Obama signs the healthcare reconciliation bill, bringing the whole thing across the finish line. Truly, a historic occasion and one marked by... Wait! We have breaking news of a pending air disaster!

Whew! That's a relief... Now what were we talking about?

Oh yeah, Barack HUSSEIN Obama is a Marxist Nazi who wants to kill your children and sell their organs to Islamic terr'ists!!!

In other words, back to our regularly scheduled programming. (Media Matters)

-Not even close-
John McCain was in Nashua, NH for some reason, where he took credit for ending the war in Iraq. "...I'd just wanted to say again because our veterans are here, that I'm happy to tell you that elections in Iraq went okay. Look, democracy is a hard thing, but it was a contested election and there's no other country in the Middle East besides Israel where there's a contested election," he said. "And the most importantly than that, now for three months, there has not been a single American servicemember killed or wounded in Iraq."

Yay! Unfortunately, not so much true. Think Progress points out "...12 U.S. servicemembers had died in Iraq in 2010 as of March 13, and at least 93 had been wounded. Since that time, there have been four more deaths and six more people wounded."

It's this firm command of the facts that served him so well in the 2008 presidential race. (Think Progress, with video)

-Bonus HotD-
"Tea party leaders say they would 'absolutely' abolish Social Security."

OK, GOP. You've got your marching orders. Run on that. (Think Progress, with video)

Despite FOX's Reporting, World Fails to End

After more than a few setbacks and predictions of disaster, it's finally happened. Not surprisingly, FOX News helped whip up hysteria, talking to experts and then misrepresenting what those experts told them. No, I'm not talking about healthcare reform, I'm talking about the large hadron collider, which went online at 6:00 AM CDT today in Geneva, Switzerland. Here's FOX's reporting on the collider in January of 2009, before the last setback:

Black holeStill worried that the Large Hadron Collider will create a black hole that will destroy the Earth when it's finally switched on this summer?

Um, well, you may have a point.

Three physicists have reexamined the math surrounding the creation of microscopic black holes in the Switzerland-based LHC, the world's largest particle collider, and determined that they won't simply evaporate in a millisecond as had previously been predicted.

The story goes on to cite Roberto Casadio of the University of Bologna in Italy and Sergio Fabi and Benjamin Harms of the University of Alabama, who calculated that a mini black hole might be able to exist in the collider for more than a second. In a paper the trio published, they then went on to explain that this wasn't a problem since, regardless of their expanded calculations, the black holes would still dissolve.

But, of course, this is FOX News. Good news and accuracy don't fly here. If there's something out there that has even the slightest chance of harming you, then you should be absolutely terrified for your life. And don't worry, if you can't work up a blind, animal panic on your own, FOX is here to help. Scientists say you shouldn't freak out? Well, you know what FOX thinks of scientists.

"FoxNews.com can think of a few other things that didn't seem possible once -- the theory of continental drift, the fact that rocks fall from the sky, the notion that the Earth revolves around the sun, the idea that scientists could be horribly wrong.

"We're also wondering how often the LHC might create individual black holes, since longer-lived ones have a greater chance of merging with each other, and, um, well, see ya," the piece reads at the close. "If the worst comes to pass, and there's now a slightly greater chance that it might, at least it might explain why we've never heard from extraterrestrial civilizations: Maybe they built Large Hadron Colliders of their own."

Despite the fact that Casadio, Fabi, and Harms wrote that the collider wouldn't gobble up the planet, FOX ran all this under the headline, "Scientists Not So Sure 'Doomsday Machine' Won't Destroy World."

Well, here we are. I don't know about you, but I'm not feeling very crushed by the gravity of an object of infinite density. Light seems to be able to escape from my monitor and the guys from the city just rolled up to my curb to pick up the trash. Now granted I'm just going by own observations and I'm no physicist, but the world doesn't seem very obliterated today.

I know I said that I wasn't talking about healthcare reform, but I have been -- at least, metaphorically. If you watch FOX with any regularity, you're probably convinced that The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Act and The Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act will destroy America through various flavors of socialism, communism, and fascism. There are going to be death panels and rationing, big gummint bureaucrats are going to make decisions for you and your doctor (as opposed to the big insurance bureaucrats doing that now), and every woman is going to have to fill a lifetime quota of mandatory abortions... or something like that. At any rate, FOX News viewers are rendered stupid the network's coverage.

In August of 2009, an MSNBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that, among all news consumers, FOX News viewers were the most likely to be wrong about healthcare reform.

...In our poll, 72% of self-identified FOX News viewers believe the health-care plan will give coverage to illegal immigrants, 79% of them say it will lead to a government takeover, 69% think that it will use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, and 75% believe that it will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing care for the elderly. But it would be incorrect to suggest that this is ONLY coming from conservative viewers who tune in to FOX. In fact, 41% of CNN/MSNBC viewers believe the misinformation about illegal immigrants, 39% believe the government takeover stuff, 40% believe the abortion misperception, and 30% believe the stuff about pulling the plug on grandma. What s more, a good chunk of folks who get their news from broadcast TV (NBC, ABC, CBS) believe these things, too. This is about credible messengers using the media to get some of this misinformation out there, not as much about the filter itself. These numbers should worry Democratic operatives, as well as the news media that have been covering this story.

So FOX wasn't the only culprit here, but they were the absolute worst, by almost forty-five points on at least one issue. I'm not a fan of TV news in general, but if you absolutely have to get news from TV, for the sake of your own sanity, don't get it from FOX.

The world remains undestroyed as I finish this up. Don't expect to see that headline on FOX News.


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News Roundup for 3/29/10

Bettie Page with whip
Traditional family values

-Headline of the day-
"Megyn Kelly Presses RNC Spokesperson On Who Went To 'Bondage-Themed Nightclub.'"

Yeah, that Megyn Kelly -- FOX News' Megyn Kelly. By now, you've probably heard about a Republican National Committee flack -- who is most definitely not Chairman Michael Steele -- spending an insane amount of party money at a West Hollywood spanking palace and titty bar. The RNC is trying to make it all go away by reminding everyone that it was most definitely not Chairman Michael Steele! So the RNC sent this flatheaded bowl of vanilla pudding to go on FOX News, where Republican scandals are supposed to go to die. Instead, Megyn briefly flirts with journalism by putting flatheaded bowl of vanilla pudding guy on the spot.

FOX clip
click for clip

So it was some guy named Erik Brown -- who is most definitely not Chairman Michael Steele!

She was doing pretty well until flatheaded bowl of vanilla pudding guy held out the shiny bauble of a similar Democratic scandal. A risque nightclub called Josephine! I'm surprised she didn't wipe her mouth.

Of course, "risque" isn't how most people would use to describe the club; "swanky," "exclusive," and "ritzy" come up a lot. But not "topless" or "simulated lesbian sex shows" or "bondage-themed." It's just a DC red-rope dance club. "Risque" doesn't apply. Still, $10 grand is a lot to drop, unless of course it was the annual Christmas party of a huge national political party celebrating its candidate's first year in the White House -- which it was.

You almost had it there Megyn, but you let yourself get distracted. (Mediaite)

-So far, flatheaded bowl of vanilla pudding guy is failing-
It turns out that Erik Brown's -- who is most definitely not Chairman Michael Steele -- trip to a West Hollywood skin joint has a lot of people up in arms. For example, the Concerned Women for America are surprisingly concerned.

The group blasted out an email to supporters. "Did you really swill drinks, ogle young girls and plan party business at this kind of establishment?" asked most Concerned Women Penny Nance. "Please explain!"

For the first time in my life, I'm with the CWA on this one -- start explaining. Not because I'm outraged though, but because I think there's a lot of funny to be mined out of this story for a while... (Plum Line)

-Bonus HotD-
"This Guy, He’s The One Who Spent RNC Money On Lesbian Bondage Horse-Bits Sexytime."

Meet Erik Brown:

Erik Brown

Wow. No surprise at all. He looks like what they'd send if you called Central Casting and told them you needed someone to play a prick. (Wonkette)

Eric Cantor's Magic Bullet Revisted

Last Friday, I wrote that House minority whip Eric Cantor's bullet story sounded like BS. Part of my reasoning was that "Cantor claims to have received threats himself, but he won't release them, because somehow that would be wrong." I thought it was a little fishy that Cantor would bring this up, only to say he wouldn't share them. Sure, releasing them would undercut his argument, but that argument -- that Democrats talking about death threats "fans the flames" of anger -- was already undercut by the mere mention of his own threats. He'd already let the cat out of the bag, so what's the deal? I figured that Cantor's threat claims were BS and I said so. Turns out, they weren't.

[Greg Sargent, The Plum Line:]

[Cantor spokesman Brad] Dayspring adds that security officials responsible for Cantor consider every threat legit until proven otherwise. Cantor had received many threats on his life in recent days, Dayspring added, presenting me with a series of emails with graphic anti-Semitic slurs and threats to kill Cantor, on the understanding that I not print the details.

Guess I wasn't the only person to come to the same conclusion, otherwise we never would've had even this limited release. Unfortunately for Cantor, those threats were real. Just as unfortunately, they don't help his argument any. Cantor, by his own argument, is now engaged in whipping up hysteria.

The rest of his story spent the weekend falling apart. As we knew on Friday, the bullet that broke a conference room window in Cantor's Virginia office was fired in the air and came back to earth in a pretty much random place. This revelation has had Cantor's office in spin cycle.

[Talking Points Memo:]

The office of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) is pushing back against criticism of the congressman's dramatic press conference Thursday in which he claimed that his Richmond campaign office was shot at -- only hours before police said that a bullet had penetrated the window, but not the blinds, of the office on a downward trajectory, after someone fired into the air.

Cantor's spokesman is now claiming in media interviews that Cantor didn't know that the bullet was randomly fired when he revealed the incident on national television Thursday.

"Eric Cantor's latest defense: I didn't know that the police had concluded the bullet in my (sometimes) office was randomly fired until after my press conference in which I said my office had been targeted," TPM's David Kurtz wrote Friday. "You know it's bad when your fallback defense is reckless disregard for the truth." Cantor was claiming that his office had been targeted -- without evidence.

What gets me about this is the hypocrisy of it all. If talking about threats and violence invites threats and violence, then Cantor should've kept his mouth shut. After all, by his own argument, this would've been the responsible thing to do. And claiming an attack before he knew it actually was an attack was foolish -- as events are now demonstrating. Apparently, Republicans learned nothing from the Invasion of Iraq and Bush's phantom WMD. When you're talking about threats, proof is a really good thing to have.

But the worst of it is that all of this is just some weird political dance to avoid condemning threats and crimes against Democrats in reaction to healthcare reform. As I wrote Friday, Cantor's speech (calling something where you take no questions a "press conference" is a joke) was just "Quick, look over there!" Republicans have no interest in addressing the issue at all.


The Republican National Committee has rejected a proposal from its Democratic counterpart to sign a joint civility statement, POLITICO has learned.

Various members of the DNC including Chairman Tim Kaine, Executive Director Jen O Malley Dillon and Communications Director Brad Woodhouse contacted their respective RNC counterparts this week in hopes of getting RNC Chairman Michael Steele to co-sign a document with Kaine that, in part, called for elected officials of both parties to set an example of the civility we want to see in our citizenry.

"We also call on all Americans to respect differences of opinion, to refrain from inappropriate forms of intimidation, to reject violence and vandalism, and to scale back rhetoric that might reasonably be misinterpreted by those prone to such behavior," the statement read.

Of course Republicans rejected it; agreeing would mean abandoning the political strategy of the last year. Attack, lie, attack, lie, lather, rinse, repeat. While Cantor claims that Democrats are whipping up hysteria, you only need to see the RNC and DNC sites side by side to understand the difference between the two parties.

RNC and DNC websites
[Click for full sized image]

The RNC's site features a photoshopped image of an angry Nancy Pelosi surrounded by the flames of hell. The DNC's site looks a lot like the White House's site and highlights the achievements of Democrats. I guess you could argue that Republicans don't have any achievements to highlight, but that's hardly a defense. "Incendiary" is a word that's thrown around a lot, but I think using it to describe a page showing someone in flames is pretty fair. It's about as close to literally incendiary as you can get -- that is, until someone creates a java applet that actually shoots lighter fluid and sparks out of your monitor.

When your entire political strategy hinges on being a bunch of asses, you're not going to sign on to some civility statement. And, as Cantor demonstrated, if you ever get even the slimmest reason to play the victim card, you dive on the chance. Are there consequences to all of this? Sure. But so what?

Did Republicans worry about consequence when they invaded Iraq?


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News Roundup for 3/26/10

If this doesn't work, we move on to anvils

-Headline of the day-
"Former militiaman unapologetic for calls to vandalize offices over health care."

Them commie DEMONcrats and their Nazi healthcare ideas! Well, Mike Vanderboegh, a 57-year-old former militiaman from Alabama and current wingnut blogger, has a way to fix that. Go out and break the windows of DEMONcrats! That'll show 'em. Won't accomplish much of anything else, but it'll show em.

"To all modern Sons of Liberty: THIS is your time," Vanderboogie wrote on his blog. "Break their windows. Break them NOW!"

"The federal government should not have the ability to command us to buy something that it decides we should buy," Vanderbuggle told the Washington Post. The government, he says, has "absolutely no idea the number of alienated who feel that their backs are to the wall are out here... who are not only willing to resist this law to the very end of their lives, but are armed and are capable of making such resistance possible and perhaps even initiating a civil war."

No commie healthcare! Not today, not tomorrow, not ever! All you middlesexy farmers: To arms! To arms!

There's a little hitch in Vandenboob's ideology, though. According to the report, "Vanderboegh said he once worked as a warehouse manager but now lives on government disability checks."

Big government Nazi-Marxist healthcare is "oppressing" this superduper-patriot to the tune of $1,300 a month for "congestive heart failure, diabetes and hypertension." So there's that...

Teabags forever! w00t! (Washington Post)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, Dogboy and Mr. Dan are back! And they're here to talk about healthcare reform... Yay!

Parts & Parcels
Click for animation

Breast implants for illegal aliens? I'm speechless. (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Former KGB agent-turned banker buys famed British newspapers for just ₤1."

Wow. Rarely do you come across a headline that jams so much bad stuff into one sentence. Failing newspapers. The specter of a KGB propagandist owning them. Bankers.

Especially bankers. Chilling. (Raw Story)

Eric Cantor's Magic Bullet

I feel terrible. After the healthcare bill was passed, Democrats experienced a wave of vandalism and threats, including one case that could be described as attempted murder -- poorly attempted, sure, but there's no legal requirement that you have to be any good at this murder stuff to qualify for the charge. Not that it matters; it's not the perpetrators' fault, it's mine -- and those like me. Ask House minority whip Eric Cantor:

(If movie doesn't load, click here)

Salon's Mike Madden sums up Cantor's speech this way:

First, condemn violence against members of Congress. Next, announce that you've been threatened frequently yourself -- including having a bullet shot through your campaign office this week -- because you're Jewish. Third, blame Democrats for the whole mess, saying their decision to talk about threats would lead to more violence. After speaking for no more than four minutes, wrap up and leave the podium, taking no questions and marching silently through the Capitol halls as a mob of reporters chases after you trying to follow up.

I've talked about this stuff, so it's all my fault. As I say, I feel terrible. Or, at least, I did until read the police report of Cantor's bullet story.

Turns out, things are not quite the way Eric portrayed them. "A preliminary investigation shows that a bullet was fired into the air and struck the window in a downward direction, landing on the floor about a foot from the window," Richmond police say. "The round struck with enough force to break the windowpane but did not penetrate the window blinds. There was no other damage to the room, which is used occasionally for meetings by the congressman."

If the shooter was targeting Cantor's office, he had a very strange way of doing it -- fire a bullet up into the air and let gravity pull it down into the window after it had spent all its energy. As a former hunter and someone who's pretty familiar with firearms, I've got to say that'd be one helluva trick shot -- one on the scale of one in a million. More likely is that some fool fired a bullet into the air, which came down and broke a random window. I think it's pretty clear that Cantor wasn't the target and that, in fact, there probably wasn't any target at all. It was just the result of some idiot who thinks a gun is a fancy firecracker.

So there's that. And Cantor claims to have received threats himself, but he won't release them, because somehow that would be wrong. So we're just going to have to take his word for that. You know what? This is all starting to smell a little like a bull pasture.

If it all turns out to be BS, how hypocritical would it be that Cantor used a stray bullet to claim criminal attack of his own? He accuses Democrats of politicizing threats and violence, while politicizing something that was neither. I can shorten Cantor's speech even more than Madden managed to; "Quick, look over there!"

How about we take an honest look at what's happening here, OK? Cantor and his Republicans have been over the top in their rhetoric. The President and Democrats are socialists, Maoists, Stalinists, or fascists, depending on who you ask and what they had for breakfast. The nation is under attack, freedoms will be lost, people will be put into camps, death panels will be instituted, grandma will be killed, abortions will be mandatory, and Barack Obama is a lying Marxist building a Gestapo-like force and siding with terrorists.

How odd that people would react violently... It's almost like they believe that the nation is under attack, freedoms will be lost, people will be put into camps, death panels will be instituted, grandma will be killed, abortions will be mandatory, and Barack Obama is a lying Marxist building a Gestapo-like force and siding with terrorists. Weird. You wonder where people get these crazy ideas.

Republicans find themselves behind the PR eight-ball. America has come to a very ugly place and the cause is obvious to anyone with a brain they're willing to use. So Republicans do what Republicans do; they lie, they play the victim card, and they blame someone else. McCarthyism and crazy conspiracy theories aren't driving people to violence, Democrats talking about violence are driving people to violence. Forget asking which came first, the chicken or the egg; by Republican logic, the chicken is the egg. Cause and effect -- who needs it? An event can happen before its cause, people can turn violent because Democrats talked about that violence after it happened. And now those same Democrats are politicizing the violence they provoked. It's all a circular, time-bending plot to make Republicans look bad. Oh, poor, poor Eric Cantor.

And we're supposed to buy this illogical -- scratch that -- anti-logical pile of crap. Why? Because Republicans believe we're stupid.

Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, they're right.


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News Roundup for 3/24/10

Towel rack
You, to former president Bush

-Headline of the day-
"Bush wipes his hand on Clinton’s shirt after shaking hands with Haitian residents"

What a jerk.

There's just so much that's wrong with this; it's disrepectful to Clinton, it's disrespectful to the Haitians whose hands he shook, and it's just a dick move in general. Of course, it's not the first time Bush has been caught using other peoples' clothing as his personal washroom.

Damn, do I ever not miss this guy... (Think Progress)

-Full steam reverse!-
Now that the Democrats have passed their godless, communist, nazi healthcare bill into law, it's time to repeal it. Repeal, repeal, repeal!

After all, that was the battlecry on the right -- even before the bill was passed. As they said all along, it was time to scrap the whole thing and start over from a tabula rasa -- for you teabaggers, that's fancy-talk for a blank slate. Ditch it all, none of it was worth the somewhere around twenty billion pages it was written on. Boo for the healthcare bill! Boo!

But now that repealing it has become something more than a reactionary, theoretical non-thought experiment, things are a little different. Republican Senatorial Committee chairman John Cornyn, for one, says that maybe repealing everything isn't such a hot idea. "There is non-controversial stuff here like the preexisting conditions exclusion and those sorts of things," John says. "Now we are not interested in repealing that. And that is frankly a distraction."

Going further is stream-of-consciousness twitter poet Sen. Charles Grassley. Grassley -- whose bad faith efforts to kill the bill in committee are not forgotten -- is now trying to actually take credit for reforms. "The provisions enacted in the new health care law are the result of Grassley's leadership on tax-exempt organizations' accountability and transparency, including hospitals," his office said in a statement today. Hell, you'd almost believe he didn't vote against it -- which he did.

So teabaggers, if you thought the GOP was actually going to repeal this, then you're dreaming. All that repeal talk was just ad captandum vulgus -- which is fancy-talk for "you're shit outta luck." (Think Progress, Talking Points Memo)

-Bonus HotD-
"Wiley Drake Pretty Much Wants Everyone To Die"

Rightwing nutjob Wiley Drake has become known for his calls for "imprecatory prayer" against his political adversaries. For those of you who aren't versed in the particulars of imprecatory prayer, it's basically begging god to play hitman and kill off the people you don't like.

Anyway, Drake says that he's praying for god to kill off all 219 Democratic House members who voted for the bill. On Alan Colmes radio show, he went further. According to the report, "Colmes logically asked if that meant that Drake was therefore praying that everyone who supports this bill or these legislators should also die, to which Drake stated that since he didn't know all the names of those millions of people he couldn't offer such a prayer, but asserted that if he did know their names, he most certainly would pray for them to die as well."

So he would pray for the deaths of millions, but he doesn't know their names and god's too dumb to figure out who he'd be talking about. Yeah, he's a wonderful man.

But here's the thing; Drake has a habit of praying for people to die and the people he prays to die have a habit of not actually dying. So wouldn't it logically follow that god, in his infinite wisdom, is actually cool with healthcare reform and that Drake is just a lunatic -- on the side of the argument opposite the almighty?

Clearly, god is a commie Obama-lover. There's no other explanation. (Right Wing Watch)

Fired Up, Ready to Go

As many of my readers may or may not know, I helped a friend move yesterday. I posted nothing, got no news at all, and concentrated on lugging cedar chests and vanities around. I can miss a day... After all, what can happen in just one day?


OK, so something huge can happen if you skip a day. The signing was expected in "the next few days," according to most media sources, so yesterday's events come as no big surprise. Speaking with characteristic caution, Vice President Biden said that this was "a big f--king deal."

[From the White House transcript:]

Today, I’m signing this reform bill into law on behalf of my mother, who argued with insurance companies even as she battled cancer in her final days.

I’m signing it for Ryan Smith, who’s here today. He runs a small business with five employees. He’s trying to do the right thing, paying half the cost of coverage for his workers. This bill will help him afford that coverage.

I’m signing it for 11-year-old Marcelas Owens, who’s also here. (Applause.) Marcelas lost his mom to an illness. And she didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford the care that she needed. So in her memory he has told her story across America so that no other children have to go through what his family has experienced. (Applause.)

I’m signing it for Natoma Canfield. Natoma had to give up her health coverage after her rates were jacked up by more than 40 percent. She was terrified that an illness would mean she’d lose the house that her parents built, so she gave up her insurance. Now she’s lying in a hospital bed, as we speak, faced with just such an illness, praying that she can somehow afford to get well without insurance. Natoma’s family is here today because Natoma can’t be. And her sister Connie is here. Connie, stand up. (Applause.)

I’m signing this bill for all the leaders who took up this cause through the generations -- from Teddy Roosevelt to Franklin Roosevelt, from Harry Truman, to Lyndon Johnson, from Bill and Hillary Clinton, to one of the deans who’s been fighting this so long, John Dingell. (Applause.) To Senator Ted Kennedy. (Applause.) And it’s fitting that Ted’s widow, Vicki, is here -- it’s fitting that Teddy’s widow, Vicki, is here; and his niece Caroline; his son Patrick, whose vote helped make this reform a reality. (Applause.)

For their part, Republicans finally accepted defeat... Naw, just kidding. They're going to keep being dicks about it.


Officials from 14 states have gone to court to block the historic overhaul of the U.S. health care system that President Obama signed into law Tuesday, arguing the law's requirement that individuals buy health insurance violates the Constitution.

Thirteen of those officials filed suit in a federal court in Pensacola, Florida, minutes after Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The complaint calls the act an "unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the states" and asks a judge to block its enforcement.

"The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage," the lawsuit states.

So much for opposing frivolous lawsuits. Never let it be said that Republicans are anything but sore losers. Republicans, who've spent most of the last year conceding absolutely nothing and opposing everything, now complain that the bill isn't bipartisan enough. So, never let it be said that Republicans are honest in their talking points, either.

For their part, Democrats are already seeing a political advantage in passing this reform -- Greg Sargent reports that they've already raised over $2 million in individual contributions since the signing. And they did it without any fundraising campaign. Republicans, with their "Fire Pelosi" campaign have been less successful -- they've raised $1.3 million.

"We’ve always said the worm would turn on this once it passed," a source told Sargent. "We have a lot of work left to do. But how the political landscape has changed on this in the past few days tells you all you need to know why Republicans were so desperate to the point of being apoplectic about this bill passing."

"[T]his underscores why GOP leaders need to keep pounding the 'repeal' drum," Sargent wrote. "The prospect of some sort of action on the horizon, however realistic, remains their best shot at keeping the GOP base energized enough to prevent the Dem base’s energy from keeping pace."

At the signing ceremony, the chant of "fired up, ready to go!" rose. Outside, chants of "kill the bill!' no longer made any sense. They'll have to make up a new one. Good luck with that, GOP. It seems the Democratic base is a little more fired up and the Republican base is a little less ready to go.


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News Roundup for 3/22/10

Bill Kristol
Proof you can't be fired from the punditry

-Headline of the day-
"Kristol: GOP Should Repeal Obamacare Before Public Gets To Like It."

He Who is Always Wrong weighed in on last night's historic healthcare reform vote in a Weekly Standard op-ed. And, I've got to admit, he's come as close to being right as I can remember him being for a good long time.

"Luckily, key parts of Obamacare — especially the subsidies — don’t go into effect until 2014," William Kristol writes. "So what Republicans have to do is to make the 2010 and the 2012 elections referenda on Obamacare, win those elections, and then repeal Obamacare." After 2014, the subsidies will kick in and people will realize that they're actually helpful. You'd be able, for example, to leave a lousy job and keep your health insurance. When that happens, everyone will be happy with it and repealing it will be political suicide.

As I say, it's half right. People will like Obamacare in 2014, but I think they'll like it in 2010, too. In any case, Republicans don't stand a chance in hell of repealing it anyway.

Nice try, Bill. You've almost got it. But as long as you've got your head jammed up your ideological ass, you'll never quite get it right. Y'gotta deal with the real world, not the world as you wish it was. That's why none of your predictions about Iraq came to be.

Basically, you're choosing to be stupid and it's killing your batting average. (Plum Line)

-Teabaggers are dumb-
During the healthcare reform protest, an enterprising young fella for New Left Media waded out into the stupid to find out how deep it was. Turns out, it's pretty damned deep out there in Teabaggerland. When you try to get them to explain why they oppose healthcare reform, they have trouble doing it -- and when they actually can explain it, their answers are either just plain factually wrong or completely insane.

Go FOX News! Teabags forever! w00t! (Youtube)

-Bonus HotD-
"Canadian university to Ann Coulter: Your hateful rhetoric won’t fly here, so watch your mouth when you visit."

Asking Ann Coulter to play nice is like asking a sewer not to stink. It just ain't gonna happen. (Think Progress)

Please, Call it "Obamacare"

Album cover - 'Ronald Reagan speaks out against socialized medicine'
Write those letters now. Call your friends, and tell them to write them. If you don't, this program I promise you will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow. And behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country, until, one day... we will awake to find that we have so­cialism. And if you don't do this, and if I don't do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free.
-Ronald Reagan, urging voters to act against the passage of Medicare

As Republicans rail against creeping socialism, it's apparently already too late -- about 45 years too late. According to conservative icon Ronald Reagan, the United States went fullblown Marxist when Medicare passed in 1965.

What can we learn from Reagan's warning? For one thing, that hyperbole looks especially stupid as history moves on. For another, that the "slippery slope" argument is always horsecrap, because it involves crystal ball gazing. For yet another, it proves that Republicans either don't have the courage of their convictions or don't believe the things they say; Reagan never pushed for the repeal of Medicare, he left America to the socialist nightmare of singlepayer health insurance for seniors. Mr. "Morning in America" had previously argued that Medicare would be sunset in America. Remember that as other conservatives lament the passage of healthcare reform in the House of Representatives last night; they were wrong the last time, too.

The effects of this bill will be felt immediately. Many provisions won't kick in until 2014, but Reuters has a great breakdown of what's in the bill -- including what happens this year:

Insurance companies will be barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Lifetime coverage limits will be eliminated and annual limits are to be restricted.

Insurers will be barred from excluding children for coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

Young adults will be able to stay on their parents' health plans until the age of 26. Many health plans currently drop dependents from coverage when they turn 19 or finish college.

Uninsured adults with a pre-existing conditions will be able to obtain health coverage through a new program that will expire once new insurance exchanges begin operating in 2014.

A temporary reinsurance program is created to help companies maintain health coverage for early retirees between the ages of 55 and 64. This also expires in 2014.

Medicare drug beneficiaries who fall into the "doughnut hole" coverage gap will get a $250 rebate. The bill eventually closes that gap which currently begins after $2,700 is spent on drugs. Coverage starts again after $6,154 is spent.

A tax credit becomes available for some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.

And, explaining house minority leader John Boehner's fierce opposition to the bill, "A 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services that use ultraviolet lamps goes into effect on July 1."

Clearly, this bill might as well have been written by Kim Jong-Il.

On the right, the meltdown has already begun. As part of a last minute deal to get passage, Rep. Bart Stupak dropped his opposition to the bill over abortion coverage. In exchange for his vote -- and the vote of other anti-choice Democrats -- Stupak accepted an executive order that goes nowhere near as far as his amendment would have gone. Basically, the order states that government has to abide by existing law. In other words, Stupak and company caved. As Bart Stupak spoke in defense of the healthcare bill the chamber just passed, an unknown Republican shouted out "Baby killer!" Classless.

So, now it's a baby-killing, Marxist government takeover of healthcare. What are Republicans going to say when all this crazy stuff doesn't come to pass -- when the US doesn't turn Soviet, when there aren't any "death panels," when abortion rates don't skyrocket? Nothing, of course. They won't say a thing. They never do. Reagan pushed his crazy anti-Medicare fearmongering, then denied he ever did so. When Carter brought it up in a debate, Reagan's response was that famous "There you go again" line. He said he wasn't so much against the goals of Medicare, as he was in favor of alternate legislation.

So they'll freak out for a little bit. Maybe launch a doomed and half-hearted campaign to repeal healthcare reform. But I can practically guarantee that, as time goes on, one bit of rhetoric will die off -- conservatives will stop referring to it as "Obamacare." None of the things the GOP is warning of will happen and people will come to rely on these reforms in their everyday lives. Imagine if Medicare were most widely known as "LBJcare" and you can see why I say Republicans will stop using "Obamacare." Hell, Democrats should embrace that language and try to keep it going for as long as they can.

History shows that Republicans can say crazy things without consequence. I think we can change that.


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GOP's Alternate Healthcare Reality

The score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on the current healthcare reform bill is in. Or, at least, preliminary numbers. Those numbers look very good. According to Chris Frates with Politico, the bill would reduce the deficit by "$138 billion over the next decade, but cautions that it has not yet analyzed all the provisions. So far, it has analyzed $82 billion worth of savings." In a bill designed to bring down healthcare costs, savings to the government from Medicare, Medicaid, and employee health plans should surprise no one.

The release of the numbers has been a game-changer, with wavering Democrats coming around to support the bill in droves. Which is, of course, bad news for Republicans who are determined to stop this from becoming law at any cost. The CBO numbers just made that a lot more difficult. One observer, Washington Post editorial writer Ruth Marcus, put it this way:

So Democrats will be pointing to this preliminary CBO score as if it is engraved on stone tablets. Republicans will proclaim their respect for the CBO and proceed to argue that its estimates should not be taken too seriously in this instance. This may come as a surprise, but I think the Republican argument is closer to correct. To crow, as did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that the package is "a triumph for the American people in terms of deficit reduction" is premature at best, delusional at worst.

"Republicans will proclaim their respect for the CBO and proceed to argue that its estimates should not be taken too seriously in this instance?" I'm sorry Ruth, but where have you been for the last ten years at least? They might do that if they had any shame or integrity or respect for truth. But they don't. Republicans lie. If the truth doesn't serve them, then the truth becomes irrelevant. They'll just make crap up.

For example, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele. Speaking to CNN's Rick Sanchez, Steele came right out and accused the CBO of lying.

STEELE: Can you just give me an honest number, Rick? How much do you really, legitimately think, adding, using the president’s number, 30 million people to a health care system that you just said doesn’t work is going to cost the American taxpayer? How much you think it’s really gonna? $940 billion dollars over ten years. So, you telling me an additional $940 billion dollars a year is going to make all of our problems go away?

SANCHEZ: According to the calculations that we did and according to the calculations the Democrats are announcing today, it’s going to save in the deficit for the United States citizens $1.2 trillion. Do you believe that’s not true?

STEELE: Ok, can I, I got two words for you — three words, three words.

SANCHEZ: Go, go.

STEELE: That’s a lie.

That's the Republican way. Don't like a fact? Then it's not a fact. Just dismiss it. You don't need to make any argument for your position, you just make the declaration -- it's not a fact -- and it's game over, you win. Republicans like to talk about healthy debate, but they don't debate. A declaration isn't an argument. If one side is determined to deny reality, what's there to debate?

Another GOP mouthpiece who's declared the CBO numbers untrue is Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh has called the numbers "meaningless," "a scam," "a fraud," "phony," And "a sham." His evidence of this? None. He just says it and that means it's true. By the same standard of evidence, I can tell you without any doubt at all that Rush Limbaugh has a wooden, prosthetic head -- and it's slowly being eaten by termites. How sad for him... a double tragedy, really. Not only is he literally brainless, but what he has instead of a brain is infested with destructive insects. Try to keep your courage up, Rush. We're all pulling for you.

Let's be clear here, the Republicans have no interest in having this debate. If they were to deal with this honestly, they wouldn't have a leg to stand on. This isn't about a disagreement over healthcare reform, this is just the GOP being pissy about being in the minority. It's also about the 2010 elections. But what it's not about is your rising healtcare costs and a non-system of healthcare delivery that can't possibly be sustained. There's a healthcare crisis going on in America -- it's happening right now -- and the Republican Party is playing politics with it. It may be an overused cliche, but it applies here; the GOP is fiddling while Rome burns.

If the Republicans want to have a debate on healthcare reform, then the time has come and gone. They had their chance to have that debate -- and they refused. Instead, they threw a tantrum and made up an alternate reality in which everything they wanted to be true was true and everything they didn't was a lie. Delusion is not debate.


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News Roundup for 3/17/10

Little girl in wheelchair
Hey kid, no free rides!

-Headline of the day-
"Nice Wealthy Ohio Teabagger Will Pay For Man’s Parkinson’s! (UGH)"

Who says teabaggers are all about hating Obama? They're about hating people with Parkinson's, too!

..and greed and selfishness and stupid, mindless anger.

Real fucking patriots, those teabaggers. (Wonkette)

-Who the hell is this "Thomas Jefferson" guy?-
I'm unable to adequately express the absurdity of the new Texas textbook standards and what they mean for American schools. Luckily, Stephen Colbert has the skills:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
I's on Edjukashun - Texas School Board - Eric Foner
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care reform

No reference to hero of the American Revolution, third President of the United States, and author of the Declaration of Independence... Because conservatives love America that much.

Of course, now we'll raise a generation of dipshits, but I'm sure there won't be any problem with that. (Comedy Central, via Raw Story)

-Happy St. Paddy's!-
You have to wear green today, listen to this, get hammered, and dance around without moving your arms.

It's in the Constitution. Look it up. (Blip.fm)

-Station note-
No morning post tomorrow, because I've got to play lumberjack and trim back a tree in my mom's backyard. I'd do it this weekend, but that's already taken because I'm going to help a buddy move.

I might just be too helpful for my own good... (My Life)

Keep DADT -- But Apply it to Homophobes

Soldiers in IraqEarlier this week, I wrote that about 75% of the American public oppose the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy toward gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendereds, and transsexuals. And why not? The LGBT community has gone pretty much mainstream. In retrospect, the strategy of gays coming out of the closet worked. Normal people who were secretly gay became openly gay -- but still normal. I'd think that coming out would take a tremendous amount of personal courage, so I can only imagine how satisfying it must be to see that strategy paying off.

But what about the military; what do people serving or who have served think of repealing DADT? The pentagon is preparing to study the issue with a poll of their own, but we don't have to wait. A poll [PDF] commissioned by the Vet Voice Foundation asked that question and the answer is, frankly, complicated.

Polling exclusively Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, VVF put the question to former and current military personnel. Only 34% favor allowing gays to serve openly. Only 36% are opposed. 30% are on the fence. But the numbers are different when asked how they feel personally about gays; 73% said they're personally comfortable with gays and lesbians and 60% believe sexual orientation has no bearing on a person's ability to serve.

So why the disparity? If most are OK with gays and most think sexual orientation isn't a factor in being able to serve, why do so many oppose repealing DADT? Unfortunately, the poll doesn't answer this question. I think it's pretty clear that they're concerned -- incorrectly, it turns out -- about how their comrades would react to gays serving openly. That's just a guess, but it seems pretty obvious to me.

Part of the problem here is that, while 58% believe they've served alongside gays, there's no way for most of them to know. It's literally a crime to say it out loud. So the gains made by gays in the civilian world by coming out can't be reflected in the military. You can't come out of the closet -- it's illegal. Add to this that the respondent pool is 45% Republican, 25% Independent, and 20% Democrat, and you can imagine that many of these people see their doubts reinforced by their media of choice. If you watch FOX News, you start to think that's reality. If you listen to Rush Limbaugh, you start to think that's reality. When right wing blowhards start talking BS about gays "destroying unit cohesion," you think they're right -- even though it's not true for you personally. All those other people are homophobes and, despite how you feel, you believe that keeping DADT would just be avoiding a whole lot of trouble. In other words, if you live in right wing world, you may not be closed-minded, but you believe everyone else is.

Repealing DADT would remove this. The only way this perception can perpetuate itself is if being gay is a secret. You may suspect someone's gay, you may even know it, but -- assuming, as the poll shows, you have no problem with it -- you can't find out how other people feel about it. You can't out them. They can't out themselves. So the distorted perception that everyone else hates the gays can be sustained. If gays and lesbians served openly, then actual reality would take hold.

And what about that 30% who say they're uncomfortable in the presence of gays? Screw 'em. This is, after all, the military. No one joined up to be comfortable. When you're in the service, you obey. If you have a problem with gays and lesbians, then shut up about it. And that's an order.

And people who believe the "unit cohesion" argument have it bass-ackward; gays aren't the problem here, the bigoted minority is the problem. You don't blame women for sexism, you don't blame Jews for antisemitism, and you don't blame minorities for racism. So why are we blaming gays for homophobia? Even if homophobia destroyed unit cohesion, it wouldn't be gays dissolving that cohesion -- it'd be the homophobes. Impose DADT on them -- say one word against anyone in the LGBT community and you're out of this man's army.

Now stop flaunting your homophobic lifestyle choice, mister.


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News Roundup for 3/16/10


-Headline of the day-
"Tea Party Crowd Calls For Pelosi To Be Tried For Treason."

Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, hates America. So let's all hate her back... Grrrr!

As the House considers using a "deem and pass" rule to get healthcare reform on the president's desk, many teabaggers see an assault on this very nation. The huge anti-reform rally in DC got ugly when the move was mentioned, with shouts of "Try her for treason!" rising up from the crowd.

A couple of points here; 1) ain't never gonna happen in a million years, 2) try her on what charge -- abiding by the house parliamentary rules? Newt Gingrich used deem and pass to get a line-item veto bill through. Want to try him too?

I'm guessing no. Like the Republican Party who pulls their marionette strings, teabaggers are awfully selective about what constitutes treason and what doesn't. If Republicans do it, it's fine. If Democrats do the same thing, it's treason.

It's just that easy. None of that pesky "reasoning" involved. (Talking Points Memo, with video)

-Cage match!-
Guess what? All politics is fake!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Crumbums & Fatcats
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Reform

Professional wrestling, on the other hand, is real. (The Daily Show)

-Bonus HotD-
"Avatar: Advertisement For Paganism."

If Crazytown had a TV station, this is what At the Movies would look like. (Youtube, via Right Wing Watch)

Undecided Voters and Pro-Life Democrats are Equally Dumb

'I'm with stupid' shirtThere's a truism in American politics that the remaining undecided voters get dumber the closer you get to election day. This is especially true lately, since the differences between candidates is likely to be stark. If it's late October 2008 and you're still torn between Barack Obama and John McCain, it's pretty clear that you have no idea what you want in a candidate. Like all generalizations, it's not universally true that the late undecided voter isn't very smart, but it's true enough. Some of these voters realize the importance of their decision and agonize over it, some don't like either candidate and are trying to determine who sucks less, but most are just slow. By the time you reach the finish line, the differences between the candidates should be pretty obvious.

Don't ask me why, but this truism popped into my head when I read this post from Greg Sargent:

Late last week, a source says, President Obama summoned a key undecided House Democrat, New York Rep Scott Murphy, for a one-on-one meeting at the White House — a sign that he’s beginning to lavish direct personal attention on individual members of Congress to persuade them to vote for the Senate bill.

According to a source familiar with the meeting, the President asked Murphy what he needed in the bill in order to support it. Murphy is being closely watched right now because he voted No last time, and flipping him to Yes would be a key get for Dem vote-counters.

“It was, `What are you looking for in the bill?’” the source says, describing the President’s request. “Scott was pressing him on the need for cost control. Medicare fraud came up. Scott said we need to step up — what we did in the House last time was not enough.”

According to Sargent, the White House "is amping up the efforts at persuasion, so expect more one-on-one meetings like this one, with the President making a direct effort to give individual House Dems what they need to climb aboard."

Let's look at some dem holdouts and apply the "undecided voters are dumb" cliché, just to see if it fits.

The biggest cadre of holdouts are among Rep. Bart Stupak's abortion funding holdouts. These people are dumb. Federal funding of abortion -- for good or ill -- is already illegal. What Stupak's amendment would do would make it illegal to offer coverage for abortion in private plans in health exchanges. This would be a de facto illegalization of abortion coverage. They say they're concerned about federal money paying for abortion, but the facts say there's no reason for those concerns. So, giving the Stupakian contingent the benefit of the doubt and assuming they're not just lying, we have to assume they're stupid.

Further evidence of pro-life dem stupidity comes in the form of statistics. The United States ranks 30th in the world for infant mortality. This is among the worst in the industrialized world. Even Cuba does better. And Stupak and company stand against expanding coverage for pre- and neonatal care -- under the flag of "saving babies."

Stupid again.

For his part, Bart Stupak is predicting failure for healthcare reform.

[The Hill:]

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said Monday he thinks House Democratic leaders are not close to having the votes to pass health reform.

In an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, the anti-abortion rights lawmaker said, "I'd be surprised if they have 200 votes."

House Democratic leaders need 216 to pass the bill.

At this point, no one really seems to know if the votes will be there, but the consensus is that it'll be close. The only people echoing Stupak's numbers are people named "Bart Stupak." According to The Hill's whip count, it's the anti-reform side that's short of votes, not the reform-minded. There are a lot of undecideds, but including even leaners who could switch, the antis only have 37 votes now -- they need 38. By my count, if you throw out the leaners, they have only about 24 or 25 firm or likely no votes. These may not be undecided voters, but I think we've established that they're dumb nonetheless.

So Barack Obama is back on the campaign trail this week, kissing hands and shaking babies, trying to sway undecided voters in the final minutes of a year-long campaign. If you're hoping to see reform pass this year, remember that he's pretty good at convincing these last-minute dummies.


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News Roundup for 3/15/10

GOP-funded sign
This grassroots movement brought to you by the GOP

-Headline of the day-
"Tea Party activists distribute signs paid for by the RNC at ‘Take The Town Halls to Washington’ event."

The "tea parties" are an entirely grassroots movement. It's just coincidence that they're funded by corporations. And it's a nonpartisan movement, that just happens to hate Democrats and get a lot of stuff from the Republican Party. Turns out that when you show up for a protest, a PA system, banners, buses, and a bunch of pre-printed signs to wave around don't magically appear.

So, signs reading "Listen to me!" to have shown up at a three-week protest in Washington. That's right, three freakin' weeks of morons who have no idea what they're mad about. And the signs were paid for by the Republican Party. "Tea Party?" Try "Tool Party."

Or maybe "Puppet Show." (Think Progress)

-Things are bad all over-
The problems with Toyotas are effecting everyone.

Driveby shooters sue Toyota, tell harrowing account of car that wouldn't slow down
Click for full comic

There oughta be a law... (Bad Reporter)

-Bonus HotD-
"Grayson goes for the jugular: ‘Alaskan chillbilly’ smartest GOP leader since W."

Sarah Palin's not very smart... and now she's a "chillbilly." Man, I love this guy. (Raw Story)

Griper Blade: Reinventing the Wheel with Healthcare Reform and DADT

Healthcare reform is unpopular. At least, that's what Republicans have been saying. It's the worst thing ever and Americans know it. To listen to the GOP, we're all in agreement here -- everyone hates this thing. But the truth is that Pollster.com's average of polls finds that Americans are split on the issue, 48% anti- to 44% pro-. Not only isn't there a consensus on reform, but there isn't even a majority opinion. Given the Republican campaign of anti-reform propaganda and disinformation, this shouldn't come as much of a surprise -- we have no idea what to think. Further, White House pollster Joel Benenson has pointed out that as much as a third of the antis are supportive of reform, but believe this bill doesn't go far enough. Once the bill is law, he argues, a lot of this contingent will come around to defend it, hoping to use it as a foothold for further reform -- this is a category I already fall into. This shift would likely put the pros in the majority.

No, if you want to find an unpopular program, you'd have to look elsewhere. Like, say, the Republican defended policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Polling shows that 75% of Americans oppose that policy. And why not? It's an absurdity created by compromise. Then-President Bill Clinton wanted to remove the ban on gays and lesbians in the military entirely -- which he could do as Commander and Chief. But the fear was that Congress would legislate the issue and write the ban into law with a veto-proof majority. So a deal was cut, a compromise was made, and a weaker law was passed. DADT was basically something along the lines of "we'll let gays in the military, but we'll pretend they aren't gay. As long as they don't break the illusion, gays are now allowed to serve."

And this Frankenstein monster of a compromise has now brought us this:

[Associated Press:]

NewsomeJene Newsome played by the rules as an Air Force sergeant: She never told anyone in the military she was a lesbian. The 28-year-old's honorable discharge under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy came only after police officers in Rapid City, S.D., saw an Iowa marriage certificate in her home and told the nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Newsome and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against the western South Dakota police department, claiming the officers violated her privacy when they informed the military about her sexual orientation. The case also highlights concerns over the ability of third parties to "out" service members, especially as the Pentagon has started reviewing the 1993 "don't ask, don't tell" law.

"I played by 'don't ask, don't tell,'" Newsome told The Associated Press by telephone.

It looks like the police outed her to punish her for not cooperating with an investigation. They found the document while investigating a theft charge against her spouse. Never mind that no one is required to help police with an investigation and, as the suspect's spouse, Newsome can even refuse to testify in court. For their part. Rapid City police say they had to inform the Air Force.

"It’s an emotional issue and it’s unfortunate that Newsome lost her job," said Police Chief Steve Allender, "but I disagree with the notion that our department might be expected to ignore the license, or not document the license, or withhold it from the Air Force once we did know about it. It was a part of the case, part of the report and the Air Force was privileged to the information." Legal experts disagree.

"This is not a federal crime," writes Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley. "Since when are officers compelled to report matters of potential internal discipline to an employer? If the officers hoped for greater cooperation from the gay community, this is hardly the way to secure it."

And, in the end, no one asked and Newsome certainly didn't tell, but she's out anyway. Why? Because of a flawed compromise with crazy people, that's why. This is America and we can never just go ahead and do something. Other nations have lifted similar bans without any problem, but the US has to reinvent the wheel every time we want to change something, because some people think this country is a different planet. We can't look at other countries, see what policies or programs work best, and adopt them. No, Americans are entirely different from every other population on Earth. We can't do things the way everyone else does. We have to build everything from the ground up and, as a result, everything's a hodgepodge of good and bad ideas -- with the good ideas compromised into bad ideas.

I always say that a compromise is an arrangement in which all parties agree to be equally unhappy. I also always say that meeting someone crazy halfway is halfway crazy. And DADT backs both arguments up -- almost no one likes it, it's absurd, and it doesn't work. Sergeant Jene Newsome can get married in Iowa, but she can't even exist in the military.

And this is the problem facing healthcare reform as well. It's compromised into a monstrosity. Good ideas are out, bad ideas are in, because the United States can't just look at other countries, see what works, and do that. No, we've got to come up with something totally different from every other country and ignore what's been tested and proven, because that's just what Americans do.

The good news here is that DADT is on its way out and full acceptance -- what we should've done in the first place -- is coming. It's another thing Americans do. We look at the bad compromise, say, "Well, that didn't work either," then go ahead with something saner. Our uniquely American solutions have to fail before we go ahead and do what other nations have done.

That should give that percentage White House pollster Joel Benenson talked about cause for optimism. If this compromise is as bad as they -- and I -- think it is, it won't last. And we won't go back, either. That's another thing we don't do. What we'll do is change it again.

It's a pity that people like Newsome have to get screwed in the meantime.


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