Thursday, 31 December 2009

Obama's numbers go UP after Detroit bomb scare

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/polls-show-no-political-backlash-against-obama-after-flight-253----even-a-possible-improvement.php?ref=fpa


More GOP smear attacks fail.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Obama still most popular despite a year of smear attacks

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2009-12-29-admire-gallup-poll_N.htm

A solid year of unprecedented smear attacks against Obama, and he is still, by a mile, the most popular man in America. All the crap about birth certificates, death panels, government takeovers, improper choice of mustard...All ignored by the 80 percent of the country that is not insane.

And Hillary, not Sarah Palin, is the most popular woman.

All that GOP effort bashing Team Blue, to no avail.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Guest contributor reports on health reform opponents who fudge the figures on cancer

Cancer Treatment and Health Care Reform

One argument you may hear against health care reform concerns cancer survival rates. The United States has higher cancer survivor rates than countries with national health care systems, we’re told. Doesn’t this mean we should keep what we’ve got and not change it?

Certainly cancer survival rates are a critical issue for people suffering from the deadly lung mesothelioma cancer. So let’s look at this claim and see if there is any substance to it.

First, it’s important to understand that “cancer survival rate” doesn’t mean the rate of people who are cured of a cancer. The cancer survival rate is the percentage of people who survive a certain type of cancer for a specific amount of time, usually five years after diagnosis.

For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, the survivor rate of prostate cancer in the United States is 98 percent. This means that 98 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive five years later. However, this statistic does not tell us whether the men who have survived for five years still have cancer or what number of them may die from it eventually.

Misunderstanding of the term “survivor rate” sometimes is exploited to make misleading claims. For example, in 2007 a pharmaceutical company promoting a drug used to treat colon cancer released statistics showing superior survival rates for its drug over other treatments. Some journalists who used this data in their reporting assumed it meant that the people who survived were cured of cancer, and they wrote that the drug “saved lives.” The drug did extend the lives of of patients, on average by a few months. However, the mortality rate for people who used this drug — meaning the rate of patients who died of the disease — was not improved.

But bloggers and editorial writers who oppose health care reform seized these stories about “saving lives,” noting that this wondrous drug was available in the United States for at least a year before it was in use in Great Britain. Further, Britain has lower cancer survival rates than the U.S. This proved, they said, the superiority of U.S. health care over “socialist” countries.

This is one way propagandists use data to argue that health care in the United States is superior to countries with government-funded health care systems. They selectively compare the most favorable data from the United States with data from the nations least successful at treating cancer. A favorite “comparison” country is Great Britain, whose underfunded National Health Service is struggling.

It is true that the United States compares very well in the area of cancer survival rates, but other countries with national health care systems have similar results.
For example, in 2008 the British medical journal Lancet Oncology published a widely hailed study comparing cancer survival rates in 31 countries. Called the CONCORD study, the researchers found that United States has the highest survival rates for breast and prostate cancer. However, Japan has the highest survival for colon and rectal cancers in men, and France has the highest survival for colon and rectal cancers in women. Canada and Australia also ranked relatively high for most cancers. The differences in the survival data for these “best” countries is very small, and is possibly caused by discrepancies in reporting of data and not the treatment result itself.

And it should be noted that Japan, France, Canada and Australia all have government-funded national health care systems. So, there is no reason to assume that changing the way health care is funded in the U.S. would reduce the quality of cancer care.


— Barbara O’Brien


www.maacenter.org

Monday, 28 December 2009

GOP blocking choice for TSA chief -- the airport security guy...?

Months ago, the GOP was screeching about Obama's handling of the swine flu crisis -- neatly ignoring the fact that they were holding up the nominations of the top Health and Human Services officials who would have handled the mess.

Now they're hollering about Obama's handling of the Detroit airplane scare -- all while they're blocking the appointment of the TSA chief. They have also been blocking the approval for TSA money.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Birth of the women's movement, 463 BC

The great causes in the progress of mankind – freedom, justice, democracy, the abolition of slavery -- often have deep roots, lost in the mists of the ancient world. But the cause of female empowerment, I think, can be given a pretty firm birth-date: 463 BC.

The ancient world was an inhospitable place for women. For more than a thousand years, the lives of women in ancient China were described as “unbearable”, and they were likely to have, not names, but numbers, i.e. “Daughter Number Two”. In theory women of ancient Egypt had legal rights but in practice they were seen as second-class citizens and child-bearers only. Greek women had little control over their own lives, virtually no property of their own, and virtually no rights.

Misogyny in Greece extended to the arts. The Greeks didn’t want women writing plays, performing plays, or even seeing plays in the audience – according to some accounts, “proper” women would never dare see a show, and only the prostitutes and female slaves would show up.

Enter Aeschylus. In 463 BC, women suddenly had a new voice, or at least an advocate. Aeschylus’s play The Suppliants told of the daughters of Danaus, who were fleeing for their lives to avoid arranged marriages. Five years later he told the story of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra: Agamemnon agreed to slaughter his own daughter in order to appease the gods and win favour on the battlefield, whereupon his wife (the girl’s mother) killed him and was killed in turn by her son and daughter.

A few years later, Sophocles followed with Antigone, about a woman who defies the death penalty in order to give her dead brother a decent burial.

And then the big one, Euripedes.

Euripedes was a trailblazer, a destroyer of conventions, and like most such men he paid a price for it. In an age in which playwrights were creating characters, kings and gods, who were impossibly grand and noble, Euripedes was truly the first realistic artist, showing humanity in all its folly, warts and all. Sophocles admitted that he portrayed characters as they ought to be, whereas Euripedes portrayed people as they really are.

In a civilization which treated women with contempt, Euripedes put women downstage center to tell the story of life and war from their point of view. To Euripedes, women mattered.

Euripides, starting in 438 BC, gave us plays which said a lot about female sacrifice. First, the play Alcestis, about a wife who agrees to die in place of her husband; Medea, about the Mother Of All Nasty Divorces; Hippolytus, about a woman who dies for love; Heracles’ Children, about a girl agreeing to be sacrificed to appease the gods.

Euripedes’ women, on stage, began to grow in power. Next he wrote Andromache, a woman who saves herself and her child from death; Hecuba, who avenges her child’s murder; Ion, about rape and infanticide; The Trojan Women, about war’s impact on women; Electra and Orestes, retelling the Agamemnon story; the Iphigenia plays, about a woman who agrees to die for her country and is later rescued; Helen, who finds and reconciles with her husband and escapes a horny king who wants to marry her; and The Phoenician Woman, about women trapped in the middle of a war.

Even more striking for a man of the ancient world, Euripedes despised war and said so in his plays: he wrote “Trojan Women” just as the Athenians were mulling over the prospect of invading Sicily, a notion which repelled Euripides. But speaking out for women and against war, of course, cost Euripedes a lot: in the annual drama contests Euripedes was regularly defeated by lesser men, partly because he refused to kowtow to the judges, and he was constantly ridiculed by the more successful Aristophanes. In the end, of course, Euripedes was proved right: just after “Trojan Women” was staged, Athens invaded Sicily despite the objections of wiser men, the operation was a disaster, Athens’ enemies in Sparta and Persia formed an alliance, and within eleven years Athens itself was destroyed. Euripedes may have been comparatively lucky, however: a few years after the fall of Athens another iconoclast, Socrates, was executed.

Neatly enough, though, Euripedes seems to have shaken the will of his opponents. After Euripedes condemned war in script after script, his enemy Aristophanes wrote his own anti-war story, Lysistrata, about women forcing their men to end an endless war, by denying them sex. And like Euripedes, Aristophanes shows kings and generals as realistic, all too human, and he focuses on the women. Of course, Aristophanes being Aristophanes, his version is a lot funnier. But once again, women were downstage center, taking charge of the story.

Euripedes and Aristophanes both endure to this day because they appeal to all audiences: whether you favor or oppose the war of your own age, everyone can agree about the terrible toll which war takes not only on the men who fight but also their families. Homer endures for the same reason: his first book, “The Iliad”, tells us a lot about the folly of both men and gods, but his sequel, “The Odyssey”, shows vividly how even the victors suffered terribly.


Oh, and a footnote about Berthe Morisot. She was a painter of a century ago, who not only managed to shove her way into the ultra-male Paris art world, but also defied the existing traditions of all the male artists painting Hercules and Napoleon killing people. Instead she focused on depicting women and girls simply living their lives: reading a book, picking cherries, playing with their children. Women and girls mattered to Morisot, as they did to Euripedes. Of course by painting women and children she also made life easier for her husband, who was worried about her spending long hours painting male models. So, as often in the world of women, multiple motives were at work.

And she also painted a portrait that is a dead ringer for my two daughters.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

a party for dead people

Tonight was a meeting of people who shouldn't be alive.


My youngest daughter was abandoned to die, at birth, in the woods; she has overcome almost total blindness, allergy to sunlight, and infectious disease that drove her temperature to 106. My wife was so sickly at birth that her family was told she would never be born alive, and she has a long laundry list of medical conditions. I was born under similar circumstances, and I’ve come within inches of death several times, in addition to foreign folks having a price on my head years ago (plus cancer). My oldest daughter was born in a Siberian prison, abused, and abandoned; along the way she survived a head injury and two bouts of pneumonia.

By all the laws of probability, there is no way the four of us should all be alive, and together this Christmas.

Tonight I learned that the four of us are a bunch of sissies.

Tonight the four of us met another member of the club. This was a friend of a friend, a woman from Tanzania, an albino like my daughter. She spent most of her time being fed soup by our friends, because she has no arms. Hired thugs working for African witch doctors hacked off her arms and left her to die of blood loss or infection – the body parts of albinos are believed to have magical powers in eastern Africa. She miraculously survived, and managed to get all the way to America to get prosthetics, which she hasn’t received yet. When she was done eating, she sat, serene, and sang quite happy African songs. If you had to pick the trauma victim out of all the people in that room, you never would have guessed it was her – she had the kind of calm that Buddha would envy. She didn’t even flinch at coming from a boiling equatorial country to below-freezing weather. The women who had hosted the party were crying like babies, but this woman never even blinked.

For a minute I thought the five us should go to the 711 and buy a lottery ticket for Christmas, because clearly the laws of probability don’t apply to us. On the other hand, maybe we’ve used up all our good luck.

But we’re all having a merrier Christmas than we really should be having.

Incidentally, my blind daughter. While we were with the woman from Tanzania, she was in the other room with the other children. First she destroyed all of them at chess, even though she could hardly see the chess pieces. Then she destroyed all of them at air hockey, even though she could hardly see the puck.

Air hockey.

The season of miracles indeed.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Monday, 30 November 2009

Huckabee's 2012 hopes go up in flames

Recently, Iowa Republicans were turning away from Sarah Palin and toward Mike Huckabee as the conservative choice for the all-important Iowa primary in 2012. But now the SS Huckabee has taken another torpedo in the side. A second Huckabee commutee, Maurice Clemmons, seems to have murdered four policemen. Huckabee also commuted the sentence of Wayne Dumond, who raped and murdered two women, one of them pregnant.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

The menace from Fredonia

Let’s play a parlor trick on the Republicans.

Let’s send Robert Gibbs out to announce to the White House press corps that America faces an imminent attack from terrorists based in Fredonia.

And then wait for the insanity to begin.

Glenn Beck: (weeping) OMG the humanity! All the women and little children at risk of being MURDERED IN THEIR BEDS by these Fredonians!

Michael Steele: We’re imposing a new litmus test. Anyone Republican doesn’t take a hard line on Fredonians will be drummed out of the party.

Dick Cheney: We warned the Obama people about this Fredonia threat, but they just don’t care about endangering every American man, woman and child.

Sarah Palin: All ya gotta do is look at the dang map, and see the border between Fredonia and Ruritania, and the threat is so obvious that everybody but Obama can see it!

Joe Lieberman: Clearly Obama was remiss in not nuking Fredonia because of the obvious threat to Israel …

Orly Taitz: If Obama was a real American, he would have wiped out the Fredonians months ago!

Mitch McConnell: We’re introducing an amendment that will block all health care reform unless the Fredonian menace is met with military conquest – and all abortions and gay marriages are banned in conquered Fredonia.

Chris Matthews: back in my day, Lyndon Johnson was a real man, he never would have let this Fredonia thing spin out of control!

David Broder: If only Obama had the good sense to listen to the establishment and the moderates in his own party on Fredonia, we wouldn’t be in such terrible danger!

David Gregory: I’ve been to Fredonia many times, and I just can’t understand how the Obama administration lost control of this issue.

Boehner: …and those Fredonians have that creepy brown skin too. Gives me the willies.

Chuck Todd: In an overnight poll, two-thirds of Americans are afraid of Fredonia and think Obama isn’t doing enough to fight them.

McCain: My advisers told me to attack Obama last year for his na├»ve policy on Fredonia, but I don’t believe in going negative.

George Stephanopoulos: Bill Clinton would have reached a deal with these Fredonians before things got out of hand. Where is Obama on this??

Teabaggers: NUKE FRENODIA! NUKE FRENODIA!


Then we’ll explain to them that Fredonia is a fictional country invented by Groucho Marx.

And they STILL won’t back down. Because they never back down when they’re busted on their lies – they invariably double down on their bets, in the hope that America has more stupid people than smart people.

"I am Captain Spalding, the African explorer..."

OMG, Obama's Asia trip was a failure!

The media is still relentless in bashing Obama, even in defiance of the facts.

Such as: Obama has extracted concessions from China on climate change and on Iran, both of which are huge advances.

But you'll never hear the media admit it.

Friday, 27 November 2009

A trigger option that doesn't suck?

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/11/27/trigger-urban-institute/

Early discussion of Olympia Snowe's trigger option faded away because Democrats feared the trigger would never be pulled, and Republicans didn't want to do anything at all. But Obama and Reid are looking for a way out of the current impasse.

Now there is a new trigger proposal that links the trigger, not to local affordability of coverage, but to national rates in the growth of health spending. The former is a trigger which probably would never be pulled, but the latter, if it's written correctly, would be much more likely to be triggered. And it could lead to a robust public option, not just the negotiated/out-out option Reid offered as a sop to moderates. It would probably make Snowe happy, and therefore win the support of the Blue Dogs Democrats and Obama. And it wouldn't need reconciliation, probably.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Tea Party convention in February

The National Tea Party convention will be held at Nashville’s Opryland Hotel this February; tickets are $549. 500 dollar tickets to the Opry, way to reach out beyond old white voters! Palin and Bachmann will speak; the media will be cordoned off in the lobby, banned from the convention itelf, and definitely banned from the Palin event (if Palin shows up).

So the wingnuts are taking giant strides toward organizing a movement which will not only rival the GOP but split it in two.

Economists confirm: stimulus saved a million jobs

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/21/business/economy/21stimulus.html?_r=1

GDP and employment would have been much worse without the stimulus. “There are a little over 1.1 million more jobs out there as of October than would have been out there without the stimulus."

Another GOP talking point goes up in smoke.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Huckabee acknowledges that Rush is the true party leader

Mike Huckabee is arguably the strongest GOP presidential candidate for 2012; he has a legitimate claim to being the top leader of the party.

But wait! I'm wrong! The real party leader is...

COURIC: Were you referring to anyone in particular or anyone specific because I know Rush Limbaugh had criticized the day before you made that statement.

HUCKABEE: No one in particular. I wasn’t criticizing Rush. He’s got a bigger megaphone and microphone than I do and I’m not going to get into a war with him. It wasn’t about Rush Limbaugh; it was about the general tenor.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Palin and Romney in Iowa

Although the Republican wingnuts nationally are turning away from Palin and toward Huckabee, in Iowa she is at least as popular as Huckabee is, according to the latest polling in Iowa. Both of them poll better than Romney in Iowa, but in the Iowa caucuses Palin and Huckabee will be competing for the same wingnut votes.

So while we know Palin is still alive as a presidential candidate, despite her sinking national numbers, perhaps the guy to take a good look at is Romney. In 2008 the score was: Huckabee 34, Romney 25, Thompson 13, McCain 13, Ron Paul 10. Assuming that the votes for Huckabee, Thompson and Paul were from the wingnut side, while Romney and McCain were votes from supporters of the party establishment, the wingnut-establishment split was about 57-38. If Romney gets most of that 38, while Huckleberry and Palin split the 57, Romney could pull an upset in Iowa and then take New Hampshire without breaking a sweat.

Recently I pointed out that with the winner-take-all system used in a lot of Republican primaries, someone like Palin could rack up some early wins and then run the table the way McCain did last year. But Romney could be the run-the-table guy too.

Fox is going off the air!

Last week Fox was caught lying yet again, this time by faking the size of the turnout at a Palin book-signing. But this time they actually admitted the error and imposed a zero-tolerance policy for errors: people who put factual errors on the air face punishment. “Jobs are on the line here”!

So obviously Fox will go off the air in a matter of weeks, because none of their on-air talent can restrain themselves from lies, smears and other nonsense. Glenn Beck can scarcely clear his throat at the top of his broadcast without spewing lies – he’ll be gone in days.

Gay-bashing epidemic

That silly old hate crimes bill was compleeeeeetely unnecessary, right?

The FBI disclosed today that the number of anti-gay hate crimes last year was almost 2000.

Two thousand.

Five times a day, crazed wingnuts attack some gay guy, or some gay girl.

Five times a day.

And that's just the stuff that's reported as a crime, not to mention the thousand times a day a gay student is rammed into his locker, or hollered at in the hallway, and doesn't bother to complain.

"Because beatin on them fags is fuuuuuuun! Yee haw!"

Welcome to our world.

The wingnuts increase their grip on the GOP

The Republican National Committee is working on a “purity test” for its candidates. All candidates must oppose Obama’s stimulus bill, oppose Obama’s health reform, oppose health care rationing (which no one is proposing) and federal funding of abortion, oppose Obama’s cap-and-trade plan, oppose gay marriage, oppose card check, oppose immigrant amnesty, support troop surges, support the containment of the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, and oppose all gun control. If the party even believes that you deviate from the party line on more than two of these issues, you will get no support or money from the party.

Sieg heil! All apostates and counterrevolutionaries to the tumbrels!

Meanwhile Wingnut senator Jim DeMint has gained power by being the go-to guy to give the wingnut seal of approval to conservative candidates. He is backing a rightwing challenger to California candidate Carly Fiorina, who has now tacked to the right and flipflopped on the stimulus package. Moderate Republicans are sucking up to him, trying to get his approval so they don’t get primaried to death from the right, or cut off from GOP money (DeMint’s PAC has more than a million bucks for 2010). The party is terrified of him – he could push the GOP’s 2010 candidate slate way to the right and into the Loss column. Even John Cornyn, a rock-ribbed conservative, is irritated, and Coburn and Inhofe are also unconvinced.

But how to stop him? Even Michael Steele is starting to sound like Robespierre.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Following Mao is evil! Unless you're Glenn Beck.

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/11/22/beck-100-year-plan/

BECK: I’ve done a lot of reading on history in the last few years and I was amazed to find that what we’re experiencing now is really a ticking time bomb that they designed about 100 years ago, beginning in the progressive movement. And they thought, “you know what, if we just do this and this and this and this, over time if we do it in both the Republican and Democratic parties, we will have our socialist utopia.” Well, I say again, two can play at that game. I am drafting plans now to bring us back to an America that our founders would understand. … We need to start thinking like the Chinese. I’m developing a 100 year plan for America. A 100 year plan. We will plant this idea and it will sprout roots.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Here's Inhofe counting his chickens before they...um...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/20/inhofe-to-boxer-we-won-yo_n_365465.html

Here's wingnut Senator Inhofe celebrating that he managed to delay the climate change bill until January, sneering at Barbara Boxer -- "We won, you lost, get a life."

Remember Leon Lett in the Super Bowl years ago, doing his touchdown dance before he even got to the end zone, and then getting the ball knocked out of his hands? That's Inhofe come Valentine's Day.

Next target for the wingnuts: McCain

The latest polling shows that J.D. Hayworth, a far-right anti-immigrant radio host and Tea Party activist, is in a virtual tie with John McCain for the Republican nomination for McCain’s Senate seat. Hayworth has said he’s interested in running but he hasn’t committed.

This is perfectly fitting, because McCain helped throw gasoline on the fire all across Planet Wingnut, when he surrendered to the wingnuts and unleashed Palin on the world. He helped created this mass-insanity movement.

Bush wanted terrorists tried in U.S.

"I believe they ought to be tried in courts here in the United States." —Bush on terror suspects at Guantanamo, 2006

Good catch from Cesca.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Republicans believe ACORN stole the 2008 election

According to the latest PPP poll, Republicans believe, 52 to 27, that ACORN stole the election for Obama. They really believe that ACORN altered the outcome of the election to the tune of 10 million votes. The wingnuts really, sincerely believe that Obama is an illegitimate president, independent of the whole birther thing.

So the lunacy of the teabagger movement becomes easier to understand.

But they're still, um, insane.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

2012: Obama would crush Pawlenty even in his home state

According to a new poll, Obama would beat Pawlenty by 9 points – in Minnesota. Even in his home state, he would be crushed even worse than Obama crushed McCain nationally.

Wingnut merchandising campaign: pray for Obama's death

The wingnuts have a new slogan: Pray for Obama, Psalm 109.

“Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

It’s on bumper stickers, T-shirts, everything, even toys.

Gotta get all that cool stuff in the stores for Christmas!

Even a former evangelical leader was appalled: “Really, this is trawling for assassins….It only takes one…This bumper sticker simply says to them “It’s open season”….This is the American version of the Taliban….And what surprises me is that responsible, if you can put it that way, Republican leadership and the editors of some of these Christian magazines, etc. etc., do not stand up in holy horror and denounce this.”



They are publicly expressing their hope that God, or some armed wingnut, will cut Obama down.

And teaching their kids to pray for the same thing.


They are praying for the death of the man who brought ethics back into government. He ordered all federal agencies to find spending cuts and promote transparency, he reduced the secrecy in executive records, he restored full adherence to the Freedom of Information Act, he increased press conferences and town halls, he blocked lobbyists from accessing the White House or hiring its staffers, and he limited White House salaries.


They are praying for the death of the man who saved our economy in the nick of time. He saved or created a million direct or indirect jobs with the stimulus program, he saved the auto industry, the financial industry and the housing market, he got banks to pay back big buckets of bailout money, he got the markets up 50 percent in a matter of months, he turned the corner on monthly unemployment rates, he stopped the slide in GDP, and he trimmed the budget deficit by 200 billion a year.


They are begging for a “patriot” to murder the man who helped the man on the street to survive the recession. He gave food and support and health coverage to the unemployed, he helped people to save their mortgages, he expanded student loans and loan refinancing, he expanded loans to small businesses, he established the homeowners credit, and regardless of all the lies spewed by his enemies, he cut our taxes. Along the way he fixed up neglected roads, bridges and power plants, and funded school construction and internet access.


They are begging for a “patriot” to murder the man who helped round up the crooks who got us into all this economic trouble. He ended tax breaks for firms that outsource our jobs; he prevented tax cheats from hiding their money overseas and finally persuaded Swiss bankers to expose crooked depositors; he reformed the credit card industry, he ended protection of predatory credit card firms, and he signed the anti-fraud bill.


They are begging for a “patriot” to murder the man who made America Number One again. He won a Nobel Prize for getting the world back on track, on arms proliferation, the Middle East peace process, relations with the Muslim world, climate change, war crimes, torture, and diplomacy. He reengaged with world leaders and the international community, he improved America’s image internationally, he repaired bilateral relations with dozens of countries, he persuaded Pakistan to go after the Taliban, he improved our Cuba policy, and he freed prisoners in North Korea and Myanmar.


They are begging for a “patriot” to murder the man who showed his balls by putting more troops in Afghanistan and improving Afghanistan policy; he killed the Somali pirates, freed the American captain, and put the Navy in Somali waters.


They are begging for a “patriot” to murder the man who, unlike his predecessor, actually supported the troops. He pulled troops out of Iraq and stopped the stop-loss system, he got body armor for our troops, he increased pay, benefits, medical care and housing for troops and veterans, he hired more military spouses; he improved conditions at military hospitals, he stopped the media blackout on war casualties and on the arrival of the coffins at Dover AFB, and he paid to bring families of soldiers to Dover when the coffins arrived.


They are begging for a “patriot” to murder the man who made our troops proud to wear the uniform again: he stopped the torture, and he directed the closure of Guantanamo and the secret prisons in Europe.


They are begging for a “patriot” to murder the man who cleaned up his predecessor’s blank-check defense spending: he overhauled military procurement, he blocked no-bid defense contracts, and he phased out unnecessary military programs like the F22 and missile defense.


They are begging for a “patriot” to murder the man who, even with all the partisan obstruction, still made progress on health care. He expanded health care for 4 million children, expanded vaccination programs, cut drug costs for seniors, saved hundreds of millions by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, led the fight against the swine flu, and stopped pharmacists from cutting women off from birth control.


Surely, the Republican leadership will denounce such puritanical thuggery, right?

Reid openly threatens Blue Dogs with reconciliation

Reid warned the Blue Dogs that if they join the Republicans at any stage in the process, he can still use reconciliation.

Ben Nelson is hinting that he will at least allow debate on the bill to begin. “Why would you stop senators from doing the job they're elected to do--debate, consider amendments, and take action on an issue affecting every American?” Actually he is motivated not by love of the democratic process but by fear: he acknowledged that if anyone blocked the bill, Reid would go with reconciliation and the bill would be even more liberal than it would be otherwise.

Landrieu says she will read the bill but says also that “we’re moving in the right direction”. She wants to improve it on the floor. The things she says she wants are doable – low cost, preventing the destruction of private insurance etc. So she is probably a "yes" vote at least for opening the debate.

Lieberman will probably allow the debate, at least. Still waiting to hear from Lincoln.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

chaos and opportunity in the GOP

The GOP brand gets weaker every day. Only 22 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans now, way behind both the Democrats and the Independents; among other things, this means the GOP would need a huge majority of independents to reject Obama, just to get a tie in 2012. Also the latest ABC poll shows that 72 percent of Americans support the kind of limited public option offered in the Senate bill.

The GOP isn’t helping itself with its seemingly endless series of embarrassments. GOP screeching about Obama’s bow to the Japanese emperor blew up in their faces when the media posted images of Bush kissing the king of Saudi Arabia and holding hands with him, and Nixon bowing to Mao. More and more conservatives are ridiculing the GOP whining and yammering about trying terror suspects in criminal courts. Beck made conservatives look even more ridiculous by equating Obama with a rapist: "We're the young girl saying 'no, no, help me,' and the government is Roman Polanski." And the RNC had to admit a week ago that their employee health plan covers…abortion.

The newspaper of record for the wingnut movement, the Washington Times, is collapsing – the Op-Ed editor is now complaining to the EEOC (!) on grounds of religious discrimination. Meanwhile the Tea Party Express and the Tea Party Patriots are locked in a nasty, spitting, hair-pulling brawl, complete with expulsions and expensive lawsuits, over the direction of the wingnut movement; among other things, the TPP people think the TPE people are too subservient to the GOP – some wingnuts really do consider the GOP as the enemy worth rebelling against and attacking at election time -- and accusations of shoddy business practices are filling the air. One teabagger announced he would rejoin the GOP only if the national party met a lengthy list of demands, particularly declaring war on all Democrats and anyone who votes for health reform. The splintering of the wingnut movement into an alphabet-soup of competing movements like the TPP and TPE calls to mind Monty Python’s satire of the dozens of Palestinian terror movements in “Life of Brian”.

But establishment Republicans still kowtow to the rightwing loons. Pawlenty, terrified of the wingnuts, is tacking to the right, flipflopping on climate change, and veering wildly to starboard on ACORN, death panels and the 10th Amendment. And Palin, for all her airheadedness, still seems to be a major player in the conservative movement, simply because everyone is terrified of her and her wingnut followers. Mark Kirk, GOP Senate candidate in Illinois, who originally ridiculed the selection of Palin as vice presidential candidate, is now sucking up to get her endorsement. No dice. Palin also launched the death panel insanity and the intra-GOP lynching of Scozzafava – like it or not, everybody pays attention when she has another one of these grand mal seizures of wingnuttery.

Also, Politics Daily points out that because a number of Republican presidential primaries are winner-take-all, in 2012 Palin could rack up a bunch of early victories in places like wingnut-rich Iowa and South Carolina, and wrap up the nomination quickly the way McCain did last time. One spoiler could be Huckabee, who also has wingnut cred and is now more popular with the party faithful (or perhaps Romney who has more money than God). The party could change the rules, or try to unite behind an anti-Palin candidate, but that would require a unity of leadership which the party doesn’t seem to have right now.

The current chaotic, leaderless state of the GOP could provide the kind of power vacuum that Palin could exploit, whereas in normal times no credible political party would ever nominate her.

The Democrats smell blood: they know the wingnuts have overstayed their welcome within the non-crazy 80 percent of America. Robert Reich is joining the chorus of Democrats calling for Reid to ignore the Blue Dogs and get going on reconciliation. Tom Harkin is among those planning to counter GOP obstruction efforts by forcing Republican Senators to stay on the Senate floor 24/7 to make their obstructive tactics stick.

A Republican reader responds

We received this comment on the website, and it was too good to pass up:

u r a dipshit whoever writ this comment! The glorlious South is gallent and great. We will secede so we can be w/out a communist nigger president and all the yankee and liberal trash in this here country.

Signed, Matt Martin, strong republican and Confederate sympathizer from glorlious 'ol Virginia(who'll secede by God!!)


A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Why Afghanistan isn't Vietnam

In Vietnam, we cherished a lot of Cold-War myths about virtually all of the players involved: we had drunk the McCarthy Koolaid for so long, and terrorized ourselves with fear of Communism for so many years, that we persuaded ourselves that Communism was so obviously horrible that Communism's grip on the North Vietnamese would waver, while the American people and the South Vietnamese would never hesitate in pursuing the enemy. The fact was that Ho Chi Minh was much more a nationalist than a Communist and he was giving his people what they wanted, the expulsion of the invaders; that the South Vietnamese didn't see the difference between northern dictators and southern dictators as worth dying for; and that the American people were ready to take a breath and rethink the whole adventure.

LBJ wanted to get out of Vietnam but he felt as though he was being dragged helplessly to the right; he was positive the right would crush him if he surrendered Vietnam to the Communists. Nixon, contrariwise, felt pulled to the left -- he committed from the beginning to withdrawal, and fatally compromised the South Vietnamese government to get out quickly. Obama is perfectly willing to put troops in or pull them out, regardless of the political blowback -- provided that the strategy is right.

Also, LBJ's decision making process was crippled by the terror generated by the Tet offensive, coming just at the start of the 1968 campaign. Contrariwise, not only has the terror of 911 worn off over eight years, bin Laden has made it almost impossible to terrorize us, by hitting us harder than any future terrorist ever could (probably), and the Bush administration also wore out our Fear Reflex by the constant, endless efforts to push our fear buttons. Day after day: "FOX TERROR ALERT! FOX TERROR ALERT! FOX TERROR ALERT! FOX TERROR ALERT! FOX TERROR ALERT! FOX TERROR ALERT!"

America still has fears and hatred about al-Qa'ida just as we did about the Communists, but that has not blinded us (most of us, anyway) to the notion that the cost/benefit score on this conflict simply may not justify staying the course. We are facing reality about the eating-soup-with-a-knife effort to nail down the Taleban which usually is hiding in Pakistan where we can't go, and about the crooks in Kabul. Unlike 1968, we are allowed to have a public debate about these issues -- Eikenberry and McChrystal are publicly trading potshots. The brickbats which the Republicans are throwing at Obama are being written off as just another slam-Obama effort. And again, Obama has publicly shown his willingness to reject an escalation plan if it is not backed with realistic, well-crafted strategy.

We as a people are more clear-eyed, harder to frighten, more ready to consider crafting Afghan policy based on logic instead of emotion, and led by a man who isn't afraid to make unpopular decisions if he needs to.

So relax! It's not 1968!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

wingnuts attacking GOP leaders

The next time you hear the Republicans yammering that they want more bipartisan efforts in Washington, look what they’re doing to Lindsey Graham. Right after they barbecued Olympia Snowe for daring to talk health reform with the Democrats, they are crapping all over Graham for daring to talk climate change with them. The local GOP has censured Graham – the man who led the impeachment fight against Clinton -- for “weakening the Republican brand”, as though the wingnuts themselves aren’t already doing that. So the GOP civil war extends to destroying anyone who even talks to “The Enemy”, and strengthening the brand means ideological purity and purges of anyone even remotely suspected of…contact with reality.

As for Snowe herself: new polling shows that in her home state it’s the Democrats and Independents who like her, while the local Republicans dislike her, 40-46. The polling also shows that a generic conservative challenger could wipe her out in a primary. So switch parties already!

The Club For Growth still hasn’t forgiven Mike Huckabee. Huckleberry holds some rightwing views that appall even some Republicans, like his plan to put HIV patients in concentration camps. But as governor in Arkansas – you know, out in the real world – he had to do some things that were, ya know, realistic and pragmatic, even though they infuriated Planet Wingnut. And they still haven’t forgiven him, even though he is actually the wingnut candidate with the best chance of grabbing the GOP presidential nomination away from some moderate apostate like Romney.

The Vietnamese Republican Congressman who ignored all the GOP pressure and voted for the House health bill is now being bombarded with emails comparing him to Mao and hurling racial epithets at him.

The Tea Party loons have officially registered “Tea Party” as a party in Florida. They have Crist in their sights.

Obama is eating this up with a spoon: almost any Republican who could be a credible candidate for 2012 is being slaughtered by the wingnuts: Newt, Crist, Huckabee, Huntsman….Only Palin has avoided their ire. (I don’t count Jindal and Pawlenty because nobody takes them seriously.)

The wingnuts also have a hate group protesting outside the schools used by the Obama daughters, and the group’s website calls the girls "satanic spawn" of a "murderous bastard."

GOP strategists are lamenting that McCain got two thirds of his votes in the South and that “we are too white, too male, too old, too out of touch." Their troubles with women, particularly, are mounting, what with the treatment meted out to Scozzafava and Sotomayor, the Stupak nonsense, and the notion popular among the GOP’s insurance buddies that being a woman is a preexisting condition. Former party leader Haley Barbour said purges are a dumbass idea. But the wingnuts are in charge: we saw the proof when GOP leaders went out there to cheer on the wingnuts at the Bachmann rally.

The wingnuts have succumbed to hubris before. Regularly they declare that America is forever conservative and that the GOP will ever rule the waves. Then Reagan is smacked down for trying to rip apart Social Security, Newt is slapped down for trying to shut down the government, and Bush is slapped down again on the Social Security issue. In 2009 the Democrats have elected two new House members and grabbed two Senate seats, but the wingnuts refuse to believe that America has rejected them.

White House preparing for reconciliation option

After the CBO scores the Reid bill, it could hit the Senate floor next week. Clinton told the caucus of Democratic Senators – you’re going to do it, pass the bill – but Lieberman, absurdly, claims that because Clinton didn’t specifically browbeat Democratic Senators to support the public option, he was really telling them to drop it. Nelson wants the bill to have a positive vote of support not only from the CBO but also from Snowe; Landrieu wants the same things (although she admits that the bill has improved). Bayh is still wimwamming about the medical device makers; Conrad hasn’t criticized the Reid bill but won’t commit to it either.

With all this howling by the Blue Dogs, Gibbs at the White House is openly threatening the use of the reconciliation option, which would make all the Blue Dogs instantly irrelevant – he said they would use that option if they weren’t making progress the other way.

Also, Obama and a lot of House Democrats want the Stupak amendment out. Since it is not in the Reid bill, it would take 60 votes to put it in, which it won’t get.

And a classic from Driftglass – “Lindsey Graham has warned the public option will destroy private insurance. Just as public parks and gyms have destroyed for-profit fitness clubs, public beaches have destroyed private seaside resorts, public transit has destroyed the car, Segue, motorcycle, bike and scooter industries, public libraries have driven Amazon into bankruptcy, taxpayer-funded police departments have wiped out the market for private security firms, the US Armed Forces have put Blackwater out of business, community colleges have killed the Ivy League, public playgrounds have destroyed private sports franchises, public washrooms have people turning their bathrooms into extra closet space, public housing has destroyed the housing market, public drinking fountains have crushed Evian and Ice Mountain.”

With Republicans stonewalling health reform on all fronts, and doing all they can to ensure that Congress passes a bad bill that hurts as many people as possible, and indulging in mindless obstruction on judicial appointments, and on ambassadors, and on the health officials we need to fight the swine flu, and on unemployment benefits so people can eat over the holidays, and on veterans benefits, and staging a walkout of the climate change deliberations – the Democrats are talking more openly about hardball. In addition to the reconciliation option in the health care battle, they also plan to tack the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell onto the next defense authorization, which is the gambit they just used to pass the hate crimes legislation. And they will be looking for more things Obama can do without having to suck up to the Senate obstructionists.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

How to split the Senate Blue Dogs

Let's recap on the reconciliation option.

Without the reconciliation option, Obama needs 60 Senators to pass health reform, and Lieberman has said repeatedly that he refuses to be Vote #60.

If Reid and Obama go the reconciliation route, the threshold for passage goes down from 60 to 50.

And what that means is that under the reconciliation formula, Senators #51 through 59 become completely IRRELEVANT.

So it is entirely possible that Reid and Emanuel can sit down with Senators #51 through 59 -- Nelson, Lincoln, Landrieu etc -- and tell them flat out:

"If you guys can drag Lieberman behind the barn, beat him to a bloody pulp, and get him back on board to at least allow the damned vote, then all of YOU get to sit at the table and shape the bill to your liking: controlling costs, ensuring that the public option doesn't swallow the whole market, etc etc. But if you DON'T help us get Lieberman back on board, then YOUR vote becomes irrelevant. So if you clowns have been conspiring with Lieberman to block this bill, then all you've accomplished is to ensure that no one listens to your concerns when we go to reconciliation."

That way, you have the Blue Dogs working to get you to 60, instead of blocking up the pipes.

another insane investigation by Lieberman

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/66859-lieberman-wants-probe-into-terrorist-attack-on-fort-hood

Lieberman intends to use his Senatorial power, not only to investigate Obama's non-existent czars, but also to investigate the Fort Hood massacre as a terrorist attack. Add that to his renewed threat to filibuster health care....Only two possibly conclusions here: either he's daring Reid to punish him by tossing him out of his committee chair, to make Reid look bad, or he's planning to switch parties, and to do so at the most inconvenient time for Obama, i.e. right in the middle of the Senate health reform vote.

So who is he trying to shit all over, Reid, or Obama? Or both?

Time to shove the Senate Rules up his ass and get the reconciliation process going. In addition to moving health reform swiftly to the finish line, it will also render this attention-hog putz instantly irrelevant.

OMG the House vote was so close!

Some Democrats, and a bunch of reporters who are characteristically averse to both research and reflective thought, are mooing "OMG the vote was so close, Pelosi can't get to 218 on the conference bill!!"

First of all, let's remember that the House vote wasn't as close as it looked: we know that Pelosi had more votes than she needed so she let some gutless Blue Dogs vote "no" at the last minute.

Second, Pelosi can persuade some "No" voters to switch back for the conference vote, on the reason that they already kowtowed to their Blue Dogs at home by voting "no" on the first bill, and their constituents mostly want the public option anyway: when your President and party leader ask for your vote in the conference bill, you damn well better fall in line. Some voted "no" because the bill was too liberal while others thought it was too conservative but Pelosi will be able to get some of each group back. The House, unlike the Senate, actually has some discipline.

Third, the three big differences between the House and Senate bills -- the opt-out, the abortion provision, and the financing issue -- will be easy to reconcile, generally in favor of the Senate version, because the House financing formula is more expensive, because Pelosi already said she is okay with shepherding the opt-out formula through the House, and because removing the toxic abortion language won't cost any votes in the House since Stupak admitted that his power pay was a bluff and his boys would hve supported the bill anyway.

Fourth, the GOP embarrassed themselves all day yesterday, with their juvenile hotdogging, grandstanding, baby-waving. When women in the House tried to talk in the House to defend the right to choose, Republicans screeched interruptions, and when the chairman gaveled them down, they screeched over him too. So the GOP has grievously damaged its brand with female voters, although they sloppily missed their chance to anger Hispanics again with their plan (drafted but never executed) to seek an amendment attacking immigrants. But Hispanics know the Republicans were working on it.

The GOP has resorted to all of these absurd tactics because they know that the American people have rejected their actual argument: in poll after poll even the folks in redneck country want the public option. The Republicans have shot their wad and all they have nothing left but delaying tactics.

Firedoglake pointed out other ways in which the Republicans embarrassed themselves: Bachmann was screeching about wingnut mobs invading the Capitol and hunting down the Congress members until they could see the "whites of their eyes", which as we know is the last thing you do before you shoot guns; thus instructed they ran through the halls, deliberately interfering with Congress members doing their jobs and assaulting one of them -- in other words, an effort launched by a member of Congress and cheered on by her party leadership, to stop Congress from functioning. To use terror tactics to stop the federal government. Which looks stupid and dangerous to the left and the right alike.

FDL also pointed out that Bachmann and her flying monkeys in the House were urging the teabaggers to fight with the Democrats on the issues of reform -- because the House GOP members completely failed to do it themselves. Hey, Michelle, if that delusional loon dressed up like Betsy Ross waving a gun on the Capitol steps can advocate your position better than you can, then what does that say about your skills as a political leader? Why are you even in Congress?

And the intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican argument was parodied by Driftglass -- "I've always been dying to know by exactly how much the "too much Gummint" crowd thinks Gummint should be decreased? By by seven percent? By three feet? By four fathoms? 90 angstroms? 135 degrees? 44 pounds? 23 Hamiltons per square Addams? They seem to have a very definite number in mind, but are mysteriously unwilling to share it with the rest of the class, so I have to wonder, is this a secret number? Is there a conspiracy to keep the secret "Decreasing Gummint By This Amount Will Solve All Our Problems" number from us? And, if so, who are these conspirators? And why do the hate America so much that they're conspiring to keep the all-important "Decreasing Gummint By This Amount Will Solve All Our Problems" number from us?"

Remember also that the Republicans thought they had momentum on their side -- ignoring all of the Tuesday voting except for the two gubernatorial races, they persuaded themselves that the Tuesday result was a rejection of Obama, rather than a mixed-bag result, which at best reflected distaste with Deeds who criticized the public option and Corzine who had ties to Goldman Sachs. And they really believed that the latest teabaggers riot would intimidate Pelosi.

Pelosi is a mother of five children. Nothing scares her.

So much for imaginary momentum.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The GOP surrender to the wingnuts continues

The recent brouhaha in New York has exposed the split between the Republican establishment and the wingnuts, and the wingnuts are winning. One after another, frightened members of the party establishment are surrendering and joining the teabaggers: not just the rightwingers like Palin and Rush, but moderate folks like Giuliani.

New defections: Michael Steele, who was trying to hold the line against the wingnuts and prop up Scozzafava in NY 23, is a changed man, telling those nasty centrist Republicans "we'll come after you…I don't need you to identify as a Republican. I need you to identify as a conservative. We are the conservative party."

Charlie Crist, who is now being attacked in CFG ads, is running scared, denying he ever supported Obama’s stimulus package.

Mike Pence has sided with the wingnuts too. He is even urging the entirely-unqualified Hoffman to run again in 2010 for NY 23. Please please please do!

GOP still has no credible candidates for 2012

Gallup polled Republicans with respect to Republican prospects for 2012. 71 would seriously consider supporting Huckabee, 65 for Romney and Palin, 60 for Newt, Pawlenty 32, Barbour 26. They didn’t even bother with Jindal.

So even their top prospects are being rejected by about 30-40 percent of their own party.

Also, none of the GOP hopefuls got above 40 percent from the nation as a whole, or from the all-important independents. And no candidate got above 50 percent on the question of whether they are qualified to be president.

Ouch.

These clowns have two years to find someone who can go toe to toe with Obama, and they are failing laughably.

GOP caught blocking veterans' benefits

They are blocking health reform -- GOP representative Paul Ryan is bragging that he thinks the GOP can drag the debate on health reform into 2010. They are blocking judicial appointments, right after condemning such tactics. They have blocked the nomination of the Secretary of Health and are still blocking the surgeon general, right in the middle of the swine flu crisis. And they blocked unemployment benefits, just in time for the holidays. And the GOP has now been busted for obstruction tactics again.

A Senator put an anonymous hold on a bill for veterans benefits, and now the Senator has been outed: Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. This is the third time Coburn has blocked funding for veterans benefits. Even the American Legion is screaming about this – I guess they’re a bunch of Marxist traitors too. Also the VFW, DAV, Purple Heart recipients…Just imagine the Democratic campaign ad for 2010, reeling off all of the popular, necessary congressional actions which the Republicans have blocked just for the childish, sadistic fun of it.

Progress with the Blue Dogs

The only remaining possibilities for a Democratic filibuster vote are Lieberman, Landrieu, Lincoln and Nelson; hopefully none of them want to kill an effort that is popular (to include their constituents who hate insurers) and took months to set up.

Landrieu is saying the public option is “100 percent better” than when it began; actually she is bragging that her fellow Blue Dogs removed nasty provisions which were never in the bill in the first place. Whatever… She doesn’t want to simply do nothing, she likes the notion of a well-crafted trigger, and she wants to protect small businesses; she still hasn’t committed to supporting the bill, but it sounds like we might get her to block the filibuster. Florida Democrats goaded her along a bit, cancelling their invitation to let her speak at a local fundraiser because she is blocking health reform. Ouch!

Nelson also is selling the trigger idea, and wants the anti-trust exemption put back in. Lieberman doesn’t care if Democrats are hurt by a health reform collapse in 2010 because, let’s all remember, he’s not a Democrat, but Dean is turning up the heat on him, saying he has no right to filibuster, implying that his position in the caucus is on the line (possibly Reid delivered the same message). Bayh seems to be straightened out on the filibuster issue but he will push to protect medical device makers.

Right now, Nelson and Lincoln are the ones to watch. Lincoln just recently had a dinner with Obama.

By the way, girls, the one Democrat who ran on a platform of opposition to health reform: Creigh Deeds. You remember him, just lost by about 20 points?

Meanwhile the House Democrats could vote on their bill as soon as Saturday at 6pm. Boehner tried to gum up the works with a GOP “bill” which was so bad that even members of his own caucus slammed it for not solving the problem of preexisting conditions, and for only covering less than ten percent of the uninsured. Whereupon Boehner sheepishly said, um, that wasn’t the real bill, that’s just a draft that got leaked.

If this thing isn’t finished by the end of the year, they could shoot for getting it through all the major hurdles by the State of the Union.

Wingnut mob attacks Congress

Michelle Bachmann directed her storm-trooper mob to run amok in the halls of Congress today, to “scare” Congress members into stopping the health reform bill. “I think that will absolutely scare these members of Congress so much that Pelosi will not get the votes and it will kill the bill. I think it could be dead for 10 years. Why won’t we? Why won’t we go for broke?” She specifically wants the “anger” directed at the Speaker, Pelosi.

Let me cover the high points again.

A sitting member of Congress rounded up a mob and directed them to frighten the Speaker – second in line to the presidency – and the rest of Congress, with the aim of intimidating our lawmakers into changing their policy, to conform with the demands of the mob. That is nothing less than an overt attempt to overthrow the rule of law, and replace our current system of government with mob rule.

Just imagine if the shoe had been on the other foot. Say it’s 2002, and angry Democrats want to stop Congress from authorizing Bush to go into Iraq. Let’s say some skeery ACORN-looking folks like Charlie Rangel lead a mob through the halls of Congress, intending to intimidate Speaker Hastert into stopping the march to war. What do you think the Republicans would have done? They would have gone insane and declared martial law.

But it’s okay if a Republican does it.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

GOP leadership surrenders to the wingnuts

Stop for a moment and grasp the real significance of this week’s events: the teabaggers actively want Republicans to lose, if the Republicans don’t meet all of the wingnut litmus tests. They would rather elect a Democrat than a moderate Republican.

Even more amazing: the Republican party leadership has announced that they will NOT defend GOP establishment candidates if the teabaggers launch a primary challenge.

Wow.

The wingnuts say they aim to “save the Republicans from themselves”. They said they’d rather lose than compromise, so they are actually celebrating NY 23 today. Erickson over at Redstate insists that the aim in NY 23 was to beat Scozzafava: beating the moderate Republican was more important than beating the Democrat. They think a win by a moderate is a loss, so they’d rather that the moderate lose. Some extremist third-party candidates are actually hoping to siphon off enough votes to beat a moderate Republican and elect a Democrat. They will work to block Kirk in Illinois; Kirk, who questioned the selection of Palin for the GOP ticket last year, is now sucking up to her. They will back Chuck DeVore over Fiorina in the California Senate primary: DeMint said he is backing DeVore over Fiorina due to “Chuck’s willingness to stand up against his own party leaders.” -- he wants to “shake up” the GOP.

The thing to remember: bruising primary battles lead to November losses. And that is an advantage for the wingnuts: they don’t care about bloody primaries and they know the party leaders do care. All they need to do is show up and growl, and the leadership will run away. In fact they already are fleeing: Cornyn says the NRSC won’t spend money on contested primaries, so if teabaggers challenge incumbents, the incumbents (and party choices like Crist, and presumably Fiorina) are on their own. Cornyn asserted, lamely, that it’s all because the race in NY 23 shows competitive primaries are a good thing, so the grass roots can be heard. Cornyn is giving the wingnuts a big slice of his own power – refusing to contest contested territory -- because he is afraid of them and he knows the party leadership is toxically unpopular right now. So the wingnuts really are in charge: all they have to do is field a right-wing challenger, and the seat is theirs for the taking.

This won’t happen on the Democratic side. Liberals are starting to make the same sort of noises as the Republicans: “We provided the campaign troops in 2008 and gave you party leaders a 60-seat Senate caucus, so deliver the public option and a couple of other bennies like cap and trade, or repealing DOMA, or closing Guantanamo, or we’ll stay at home next time.” However, unlike the conservative extremists who have a long list of apostate Republicans to target and a longer list of transgressions which can earn their ire, liberals are more circumspect in threatening primary challenges against party centrists: so far they are only threatening Democrats who derail health reform.

And Obama and Emanuel are pulling the party the other way: while the left wing wants them to move left, Obama wants to scoop up all the moderates who are being driven out of the GOP. He saw independents drift away from the Democratic party in the 2009 elections, and he wants them back on board. Unlike the GOP, the Democratic party has a strong moderate wing, because Democrats have been recruiting moderates for 20 years while the GOP has been driving them out.

Some Hill Democrats are pulling the other way for a different reason. They are telling their leaders – steer clear of controversial issues such as immigration, gays and climate change, so they don’t lose in 2010. Another impetus pushing the Democrats toward the center.

So the Democrats won’t tear themselves apart like the GOP.

The wingnuts have won over Giuliani, who originally said the party must be inclusive, but now is slamming Scozzafava, and slammed Newt for endorsing her (Rush is slamming Newt too).

Meanwhile Bachmann’s effort to launch a teabag assault on the Hill, with calls, emails and visits to Congress, fell apart. One rally too many? Are the wingnuts as fatigued as the left is?

Kristol is erecting false analogies again, asserting that the GOP was split in 1976 and then rose to victory in 1980, so they could do it again. Two problems here: the Reagan-Ford squabbling in 1976 wasn’t about ideology, it was about two guys who both wanted to run the country (“co-presidents”??). And second, 1980 was about a brilliant, once-in-a-generation snake oil salesman: Reagan is now dead and the GOP has no one who can do what he did.

Four groups to watch, over on Planet Wingnut, are the Club For Growth (CFG), Freedomworks, Americans For Prosperity, and the Conservative Party. Chris Chocola’s CFG hunts RINO’s: they have attacked Snowe, Specter and Chafee, and supported GOP scumbags Chambliss and Bachmann; their violations in such efforts earned them a $350,000 FEC fine. They will probably go after Crist, and they could go after Huckabee too since they savaged him in 2008 over his “liberal” record in Arkansas . That’s how crazy these people are: a guy who wanted to put HIV patients in concentration camps, and who repeated the wingnut meme that moderation is unacceptable, anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-evolution…is too liberal.

The teabaggers will hold a huge convention in Nashville in February – in the geographical center of Planet Wingnut. They are trying to pin down Palin as keynote speaker. The aim is to prepare and network for 2010 tea parties.

Two more signs about how out of touch the wingnuts are. First, recent polling shows that support for the GOP outside the south is down to a toxic 7-10 percent. But a recent CNN poll shows that even in the south, 57 percent said Obama did a better job than Bush. So even down south, Obama has some traction, and the wingnuts still have work to do even in their own backyard.

And another sign of how the non-insane part of America has rejected the wingnuts: the latest from CNN is that Joe Gaffe-A-Minute Biden has poll approvals that are 24 points higher than Cheney’s, despite the year-long Cheney family “Daddy was right and torture is good” tour.

And here is what election day did NOT mean.

One must ask how Republicans can be celebrating NY 23 when their candidate was driven out of the race: not only did they fail to deliver the conservative message with sufficient force, but the guy who did deliver it lost also. The real lesson from the election is two-fold: that people are really angry about the economy (which helped the GOP), and that regardless of party or ideology, lousy candidates lose. Deeds ran a lousy campaign in a red state and made liberal activists stay home with his centrist message, Corzine is a former CEO from the disgraced firm of Goldman Sachs, and Hoffman’s short time in the sun was riddled with stupidity: advocating the incredibly destructive and unworkable flat tax, “solving” the deficit problem by cutting pork and earmarks which only account for about 3 percent of the budget, screeching that ACORN had invaded his state and slashed an aide’s car (actually the idiot drove over a bottle), and allowing his storm troopers to illegally intimidate voters at the polls.

As for the notion that this is a referendum on Obama: sorry, but the folks at the polls said otherwise. Obama had nothing to do with it. In fact there were a lot of voters who like Obama but deserted Deeds and Corzine because they just didn’t like them. But in the end, the Democrats won two congressional races (one in a district that hasn’t gone blue in a century and a half), the GOP got two governorships, and there was a split on gay referenda, which sounds like a tie to me. And the tiebreaker is health care: Pelosi now has two more Democrats to secure a House majority for health care, whereas the two new governors are completely uninvolved in the biggest political battle of the year.

Another lesson from the voting: turnout! In 2008 the Obama hordes turned out. This year it was the teabaggers. Who will be motivated to show up in 2010? We know the teabaggers will show up. What about our team?

Christianity plagiarized the Christ story

Here is more proof that the entire fundament of Christianity is a fraud.

Christianity cannot stand up as a philosophical belief unless the story of Christ’s life – birth, ministry, death, resurrection, role as savior – also stands up factually.

There is little dispute that he lived, preached in Jerusalem , threw a fit in the Temple , and was executed for it. But all of the other stuff was fiction: it was plagiarized from the Egypt myth-makers.

The Egyptian god Horus existed centuries before Christ. Horus was the only begotten son of God, born of the virgin Isis-Meri and Seb, of royal descent; his birth was announced by an angel, heralded by a star, witnessed by shepherds and celebrated thereafter in December. Herut tried to murder him but God told his mother to flee. His life story is a blank from age 12 to 30, whereupon he is baptized in a river by a prophet who was beheaded, and resists temptation in the desert. He probably had 12 disciples, delivered a sermon on a hill, cared for the hungry, healed the blind and sick, walked on water, and raised al-Asar from the dead. He was probably crucified with two thieves, descended into hell, and his resurrection, after three days, was announced by women. He was regarded as a god and savior of humanity, the shepherd and the fisher of men.

So not only is the central myth of the New Testament a fiction, it is flagrantly plagiarized fiction. They didn’t even concoct their own myths, they stole someone else’s.

And unless the mission and divinity of Christ are based in fact, Christian belief falls apart.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Snowe belts the wingnuts for criticizing her

Snowe smacks down Pawlenty for implying she’s committed “deviations” from the party line:

"I've been a lifelong Republican -- I haven't changed, I don't know what the problem is -- I really don't….I know Gov. Pawlenty to be a thoughtful person and I know if he could have rephrased it or recharacterized it he would….All I know is that I've been a life-long Republican, I [spent] 16 years toiling in the minority in the House of Representatives and [was part of] the effort to get us the majority in 1994 -- now were in the minority and I'm still here….So, I don't know -- I think they could probably borrow more from me in that sense, in terms of being in touch with your constituents...I don't expect the national party organization to be a substitute for the people in Maine….We're a states' rights approach party and we should leave it at that... I think we've got to be inclusive in in the model of President Reagan...the big tent, I think that's what we have to be all about. I always think that we have to be flexible in accommodating a variety of views if we want to be a majority party in reflecting the spectrum across America."

Like I said months ago, Olympia needs to join the Democrats, and bring her friend Susan – the GOP clearly doesn’t want them, and will not let their voices be heard.

Four 2012 GOP hopefuls crippled in GOP purge

The media, for some reason, is trying to focus solely on Virginia and New Jersey today so they can portray today’s voting as a negative referendum on Obama, an idea so idiotic that poll respondents have refuted it repeatedly and even Haley Barbour shot it down. They are neatly ignoring all the other races today (including a California race which is veering sharply to the left). The obvious exception is the New York race which is a lulu. Hoffman is being exposed as an ignorant flat-tax rube who admits that Glenn Beck is his mentor, and the teabagger effort to preemptively scream “FRAUD” in the New York race was undermined when their own troops were caught harassing voters with anti-abortion chants at the voting sites; the cops had to be called in. Imagine if this had been skeery negro Democrats carrying on at the polling places like that – you can just imagine the wingnut howling. But it’s okay when THEY break the law.

The Palin-Rush wing of the GOP, and Freedomworks leader Dick Armey, want to purge moderates from the party. One strategist said that if Hoffman wins, the effort will “metastasize”. They think they’re defending the Constitution and that it’s time to “take back America ” from that furrin black feller, and the moderates just get in the way. Their argument is that it is the moderates who are disloyal to the party because they are disloyal to…the conservatives; they really don’t perceive any disloyalty in their recent sabotaging of their own candidate Scozzafava or their attacks on fellow Republicans, because for them their delusional ideology is even more important that the party itself. They believe that the party establishment values compromise, electability, winning and retaining power more than purity and principle, and they would rather lose than compromise (Good! Leave the winning to us!). They not only reject the Reagan-era sentiment that Republicans don’t attack each other, but also the Rove/Atwater theory that, although focusing on the base is good, the aim is to get to 50 percent plus 1 and just win, baby.

It sounds as though the wingnuts want to retain control over the GOP rather than starting over with a third party. The aim is to launch primary challenges against any Republican candidate who doesn’t obey them in all things, or, worse, cooperates with Obama and the Democrats. They have already prepared challenges for more than a dozen races. They don’t understand that such a strategy is even more impractical for congressional races than it is for presidential races: the primary fights will waste money and will drive candidates to the right and make them unelectable, even in a year like 2010 which was supposed to be the GOP’s year before the wingnuts launched their revolution. The real irony is that it is unnecessary: if the GOP had stuck by Scozzafava and sent her to the Hill, she surely would have been a loyal servant of Boehner like all the other GOP members, because the Republicans, unlike the Democrats, have firm party discipline. So there was no need to toss her out – they screwed her over just to prove they could.

So who are the wingnuts targeting for destruction? Everybody. Conservatives who are deemed to liberal, for any or no reason; conservatives who supported the stimulus or the bailout; who are pro-choice; who supported Bush’s big-spending ways; who dare to even talk to Democrats about health care; who preach pragmatism; who support compromise and reject extremism; who supported Scozzafava; who don’t support the anti-moderate purge itself.

The extraordinary thing here, is that in a very short time, this wingnut revolution has damaged no less than four strong presidential candidates for the GOP. Newt Gingrich, the Godfather of the conservative revolution, is now being targeted, and so is Mitt Romney (with all his flipflopping and his vaguely Marxist record in Massachussetts I’m not surprised). But the more fascinating victims of all this are, ironically, Sarah Palin herself, and Tim Pawlenty.

The New York conflagration has reminded all of America about the incredible destruction which Palin can wreak upon the GOP whenever she jumps into a political fight. She joins the GOP ticket and quickly sinks the McCain campaign. She jumps into the health reform debate screeching about “death panels” and makes the entire conservative movement look like fools. And now she has stepped into the New York race and launched the purge of GOP moderates. How much more damage can she do to the GOP, before somebody from the GOP establishment puts a bullet in her head some murky night? The problem being that there may not BE a GOP establishment left much longer.

The rise of the wingnuts has also made another potential president look really, really bad. One guy who got the message loud and clear when the wingnuts waved their switchblades in his face was Tim Pawlenty. Here’s moderate, centrist Timmy a few months ago, talking about the need for Republicans to reach out to women and minorities, and to come up with their own solutions rather than just tearing down everything the Democrats do:

“Ronald Reagan was president a long time ago. A lot has happened since then. So the challenge for us is how do you take the principles from the late ’70s and ’80s and apply them to the circumstances and issues and opportunities of our time.”

During the summer Pawlenty began to feel the heat from the right, and like Romney before him, began flipflopping: he flipped on climate change, he condemned the stimulus package and then bragged about getting the money, and was forced to backtrack after mouthing off in favor of secession.

Recently Pawlenty was supporting Scozzafava, but now he’s a changed man: he never even heard of Scozzafava. And he’s starting to talk about litmus tests for “real” Republicans: “Well, you can’t be for card check, you can’t get endorsed by ACORN, you can’t support the stimulus bill, you can’t be for bank bailouts, that would be a starting point, Chuck. But if you’re for all those things, you’re probably not a Republican.” Palin couldn’t have said it better. He also refused to express any respect for the now-toxic Olympia Snowe (she has actual conversations with Democrats!). Great! One more GOP presidential hopeful is now unelectable.

So this purge has damaged Newt and Romney, and has made Palin and Pawlenty look foolish for going along with it. For that matter, it will probably ding Huckabee once the wingnuts find out how liberal his record as governor was.

The key thing to remember is this: no Republican can go far enough to the right to win the acceptance of the wingnuts in the primaries, and still be far enough to the left to win the general election.

There are, in fact, some voices of reason in the GOP. Some non-wingnut conservatives are lamenting that the quest for simon-pure ideological purity is a sure way to shrink the GOP down to nothing: the wingnuts refuse to accept that their views are minority views, and that the party needs moderates, but Gingrich, Boehner, Tom Davis and others say they want moderates in the party. Conservative blogger Rick Moran was blunt: “the Anti-Reason Conservatives - those who reject reality in favor of persecution complexes, wildly exaggerated hyperbole, and a frightening need for vengeance against their imagined “enemies” - despite the fact that those imagined foes agree with them on virtually everything they think they stand for.” If the wingnuts retain power in the party and purge the apostates, could the moderates, instead of joining the Democrats, form a centrist third party? THAT is what Obama and Emanuel are probably watching for, and why they are tacking to the right.

Some in the media are trying to take the “two sides to every story” line, asserting an equivalence between the two parties when that has proven untrue so many times. They assert that the far left could do to Obama what the far right is doing to the GOP establishment. They forget that the progressives showed, all summer, a willingness to compromise, to get things done. They even tolerated Lieberman’s repeated betrayals (although he really is on his ninth life). And the Democrats still have a centrist wing – the GOP, not so much.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Lieberman backs down

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/66005-reid-reassures-the-left-lieberman-is-on-board

"But sources said Reid’s staff is telling liberal interest groups that Lieberman (Conn.) has assured Reid he will vote with Democrats in the necessary procedural vote to end debate, perhaps with intentions to change the bill."

Fort Sumter in the GOP civil war

The yahoos have fired on Fort Sumter, and the civil war has begun.

Back in the old days it was enough for Republicans to attack centrist Democrats like Clinton, so that no Blue Dog could command the political center and marginalize the GOP. But now the GOP wingnuts are going much further, purging their own ranks like the Khmer Rouge did, and the KGB, and the Jacobins of the French Revolution. In their zeal to win the civil war within the GOP, they even attack perfectly conservative Republicans who make the mistake of incurring their wrath. This political pressure could end up pushing BOTH political parties to the right.

The Republican wingnuts have spent eight years on a “RINO hunt”, driving moderates like Chafee, Jeffords and Specter out of the party (they would have nailed Colin Powell if he hadn’t retired); Snowe is trying to fix the GOP from with in, but people like her and Collins are being targeted also. The wingnuts have openly expressed contempt for moderates, they actually cheered when some moderate Republicans lost in 2008, and they are setting up primary challenges and even general election challenges against Republicans with insufficient zeal for extremism. They specifically targeted Scozzafava in New York because she was pro-choice.

They are not stopping at moderate Republicans, either. Even perfectly-reliable conservatives have felt their wrath. They slammed Bush and McCain for betraying conservatism. They attacked rock-ribbed conservatives like John Cornyn and Jon Huntsman, they targeted Lindsey Graham (the guy who impeached Clinton!) for preaching pragmatism, and “treasonous” Snowe and Bob Bennet for daring to even talk to Democrats on health care, Gingrich for endorsing Scozzafava up in New York, the GOP Congressional leadership for not being extreme enough, and Charlie Crist (could he switch parties?). If Reagan, who reached out to Democrats and labor, were still around, they would probably target him too.

They are pushing policies which antagonize entire sectors of the electorate: blacks, Hispanics, women, gays; they warned that Republican Senators who didn’t block the Sotomayor nomination would be driven out of the party just like Specter.

Usually the issues which drive third-party efforts are swallowed up by one of the larger parties; by that logic, the issues raised by the wingnut teabaggers would be taken over by the GOP. But the wingnuts have already insisted that they have no intention of letting that happen. So the wingnuts are not going to just make peace with the GOP and fade away into the mist. They fully intend to rule a political movement, and if it ain’t the GOP, they clearly will create their own.

The Republican leaders are pragmatists who like winning: Gingrich, Steele and Boehner endorsed Scozzafava, McConnell is willing to tack to the left to get a win, and Steele is trying in his own goofy way to reach out to blacks. The leadership knows they have enough problems already: support for their party outside the South is down to 7-10 percent and dropping, and they are now being attacked from both left and right. Their major voices are aimed at each other: Savage fights with Beck, Limbaugh fights with Steele, Dobbs fights with John Stossel. And they now face the dangerous choice of either running to the left and rejecting the wingnuts, who form the party base and control the party’s direction, or running to the right and rejecting the centrists, moderates and independents who elect all our presidents.

Logic dictates that they go left: one strategist even advocates a radical restructuring of the presidential primary process, to prevent the extremely likely event of a far-right wingnut like Huckabee or Palin winning the nomination but losing the general election badly. But for the most part, the GOP leaders not only refuse to accept that America has rejected the doctrines of Reagan (now that Reagan is no longer around to sell it and the GOP simply has no one left remotely like him), but they are also terrified of antagonizing the wingnut movement they created. They are beginning to realize that their control over the wingnuts has now passed into the hands of people like Rush Limbaugh, who can slap around guys like Michael Steele whenever he wants. The party leaders no longer even have the courage to point out the potential dangers of going so far to the right.

So, to the right they will go. Steele admitted that they want moderate votes but not moderate voices; Huckabee has rejected moderation, and Pawlenty is belatedly singing from the wingnut sheet music also. The congressional Republicans will tack to the right to forestall challenges from the wingnuts in the 2010 elections, and people like Snowe have little room to maneuver on the public option. This will cost them the voters they need for general elections – independents, blacks, women, Latinos. And moderate Republicans.

Obama signaled long ago how he was going to play this. He is has taken centrist positions on Bush’s policies, tax cuts, FISA, the hunt for bin Laden, free-market economics, merit pay for teachers, nuclear power, faith-based programs, government waste, policy on Israel and Iran, gun control, the death penalty, evangelicals, the Patriot Act, and Guantanamo. This suggests that he could also swing to the right on health reform: if he has a chance to sign a health bill that is actually good, but also philosophically centrist, he has a better chance of scooping up most of America’s centrists and independents, destroying the GOP, and then going back and getting more health reform later. In such a context, the notion of Snowe’s trigger plan doesn’t seem so crazy, as long as the worst policy flaws are fixed therein. Obama could also alternate between tacking left and right on cap-and-trade (which is already splitting the Democratic caucus anyway), gay issues, and immigration. He can also reach out to moderates and give Snowe and Collins a chance to get their voices heard. And of course continue to slap down all the lies when Rush and the wingnut gang spew them, because the media are afraid to do it. His main risk is avoiding the prospect of going too far to the right, so as to keep the far-left wing of the party from splitting off and Nadering him like Nader did to Gore: if the left gets screwed on health care, Obama will need to throw them some bones, and fast, to ensure both loyalty and turnout in 2010.

So the GOP will continue to slide to the right, away from the sentiments of most American voters, and then Obama will also slide to the right, and park in the center, where all political battles are won. Already, the gap between the GOP wingnut faithful and the rest of the country was so wide that McCain was unable to bridge the gap with his vice-presidential choice: his staff told him that the party would reject a moderate selection like Ridge, forcing him to go with Palin. But now the gap between the GOP and the rest of America will be Grand-Canyon-gigantic.

If the Republican leaders do try to resist the slide to the right, the wingnuts could fight back by taking the Hoffman-Scozzafava squabble national, now that the New York adventure has shown them that it’s possible: forming a national Conservative party, building on Armey’s teabagger infrastructure, siphoning off the GOP’s campaign troops and money, and presumably trying to find some national leaders who don’t look as insane as their rank and file. In 2010 watch for them to begin organizing in the spring, praying for bad unemployment performance, and working to ensure that the congressional seats in the red states go to true-blue wingnuts, not the hated moderates.

In 2012 the Republicans face at least two major dangers. First, if the wingnuts dominate the Republican primaries and nominate one of their own like Huckabee; moderate Republicans point out, in vain, that nominating said wingnut will hurt them in the electoral college, particularly since Obama quite obviously never did all the crazy things the wingnuts warned about in 2008, but the wingnuts ignore them and proceed with their Huckabee/Pawlenty ticket or whatever, and lose badly. Secondly, if, for example, the Republican primary voters don’t pick Palin, which is very likely, then Palin, faced with the choice of a third-party run or political oblivion, could Go Rogue and lead the Conservative Party, or some new face could run on the Conservative ticket. That would lead to a debacle of biblical proportions in the electoral college – Obama might lose Utah and that’s about it.

And the Republicans face more danger down the road. Right now the Obama factor is driving every category of wingnut crazy, but as the years go by, people will realize that the Obama Marxist Terrorist Apocalypse isn’t really coming as promised, and then in seven years the Democrats will nominate a couple of white guys, blunting one of the GOP’s most potent weapons, racist fear – all while the oldest, nuttiest wingnuts age off the system and reduce the GOP demographic even further. The Republicans will try to emerge beyond their far-right southern base and reach out to moderates in the north and west, only to find that Obama has rounded them up already (that said, however, the Scozzafava-Hoffman-Owen race happened a long way from Dixie).

Republicanism, the mental disease

I’ve been looking over all the activities out there in Planet Wingnut, going all the way back to the 2008 Iowa caucus when people began to realize that Obama could actually become president. And the more I look at the data, the more I realize that the anti-Obama wingnuts are not just misguided political zealots. They are mentally ill. Clinically ill. In some cases, violently insane.

Not only believing, but working night and day to propagate, obvious, childish lies about Obama, about Obama’s totalitarian plans, the concentration camps, the death squads, Obama’s plans to enslave us all after 2012 once he has no further need to face the voters, lies about his birthplace no matter how many judges and Republican politicians shoot the rumors down, and of course lies about the Bush era as well.

Delusions of betrayal are a major theme with them, a revisitation of Hitler’s condemnation of the “betrayal” in the Versailles Treaty and McCarthy’s insistence that only betrayal could have caused America to “lose” China to the Communists: they honestly believe that America still embraces their conservative views but they were betrayed by big-spending Bush, that Obama’s extreme liberalism is betraying the country, and that if the voters reject them and their candidates then they were still somehow betrayed by…somebody else. Like many who blame their own shortcomings on betrayal by The Other, they never heard or heeded the advice of Cassius to Brutus: the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. Denial is a powerful theme for them: they still can’t accept that America has finally rejected the philosophy that Reagan bequeathed to them. Whenever their delusions collide with reality, they mutter about secret conspiracies and secret enemies.

They really believe that Sarah Palin, a dangerously clueless unindicted felon, is going to save our country, that Obama is an illegal alien who wants to kill your grandmother, and that the most important issues for this nation in crisis are abortion, school vouchers, school prayer, intelligent design, putting the Commandments in courtrooms, stopping stem cell research, euthanasia, cloning, civil unions, stopping HPV shots, stopping contraception, stopping sex education, faith-based initiatives, banning books, assisted suicide….

And their solution to any problem is to go further to the right: there is no such thing as “too far to the right”.

And not just insane, but violently insane: seeking to bring Obama’s regime down with impeachment, assassination, secession, revolution; lone wolves lynching a census worker, assassinating an abortion doctor, going on two murder sprees in Pennsylvania; launching violent attacks at teabag events; bringing guns to Obama events; hanging Democrats in effigy; repeatedly making jokes about murdering Democrats; staging an anti-Obama riot with the help of a Fox producers; and their kids get in on the action because they’re making the “grab your guns and destroy Obama” effort a computer game.

So let’s look at the conservative movement, not from the standpoint of politics and policy, but with the tools of clinical psychology.

Alarmingly, the behavior seen among the wingnuts, particularly on the internet, betokens not just mental illness, but the most dangerous, delusional varieties, the psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. We see political hallucinations (non-existent bogeymen), disorganized speech and thinking, impairment in cognition, and all of the psychological features of a delusional personality: emotional over-investment and clinging to unlikely and disproved beliefs with unusual force (where’s Obama’s birth certificate??), delusions of grandeur, delusions or persecution (especially by the government), delusions about religion, hostility to those who question or contradict the “patient”, humorlessness, oversensitivity, abnormal behavior related to his beliefs.

Also, a great incidence of paranoid disorder: suspicion that people are want to harm the “patient” or are disloyal or untrustworthy, seeing threats in unthreatening comments, reacting to imaginary attacks, extremely sensitive to losses and rejection, combative regarding personal rights (like guns), enormous sense of self-importance, love of conspiracy theories.

The other personality disorders, such as schizotypal disorder -- odd patterns of thinking and behavior. Antisocial disorder -- irritable, impatient, aggressive, threatening, abusive, angry, violent, egotistical, with a disregard for social rules, obligations, and norms, and problems with authority figures (like Obama). Borderline personality disorder -- black and white thinking. Histrionic disorder -- exhibitionism, sensitivity to criticism, hogging attention, low threshold for frustration (like the teabaggers). Narcissistic disorder -- huge sense of self-importance, power fantasies, belief that he is special. Dissocial disorder -- irresponsible, irritable, prone to frustration, aggression and violence, prone to blame others or offer rationalizations. Emotionally unstable disorder -- conflicts and quarrels, instability, impulsive actions, anger, violence, loss of control.

And other disorders: mood disorders to include psychotic major depression (perhaps after election day last year) which can lead to delusions. Anxiety disorders: panic disorders (Obama will kill my grandma!), phobias (fear of all things Obama), OCD and impulse control disorders, PTSD, separation anxiety (oh no we lost Congress!). Adjustment disorder: reaction to psychological stressors (like the arrival of Obama). Mental retardation – impaired cognitive function, trouble with social rules, social inhibition, and memory. ADHD – inability to listen or process information, nonstop talking and movement, impatience. Alzheimer’s -- confusion, irritability and aggression, mood swings, language breakdown, long-term memory loss (to include forgetting every crime Bush and the gang committed), cognitive impairment, delusions.

And of course their perfectly sane enablers like Rush and Beck. And the Republican leaders who exploit them for their votes. They must be so proud.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Abdullah wipes out another GOP talking point

For weeks Republicans have been trying to peddle the notion that Obama is soft on national security and on supporting the troops because he isn’t caving to the demands of General McCrystal to send a gigantic new contigent to Afghanistan before we even have a strategy. Already the GOP was having trouble with this line of attack: recent polling shows the American people actually want Obama to go slow on expanded deployments (58-37 in a poll). And now Karzai’s presidential challenger showed exactly why we must go slow: by pulling out of the election runoff and implying that the election will be a huge fraud, he is demonstrating exactly why we must wait to see what kind of government we’re propping up in Kabul.

So Cheney’s claim that Obama was “dithering” was a lie. And Cheney was proved a liar again when a new intelligence committee report showed that Pelosi had been right about the CIA after all – the CIA lied to Congress.

Stimulus Fuelled Much of Expansion –- Wall Street Journal

Oh, how it must have pained Rupert Murdoch to see that headline in his paper! The article said “the U.S. economy would have turned in a far worse performance in the third quarter without help from the federal government. “ And they also had to admit that cash for clunkers caused a one-point jump in GDP growth, and another half-point came from home building, caused by the government efforts to push down mortgage rates, slow down foreclosures, and give tax credits to home buyers. Meanwhile a USA Today survey of America’s states shows that Obama has already saved or created at least 388,000 jobs with the stimulus, and that’s based on only 33 states. And according to the CEA estimate, the total is around 600,000 to a million; the biggest impact was among teachers. Two thirds of Americans say our economic problems were Bush’s fault. And Obama has found another way to help the long-term economic prospects without having to tangle with the obstructionists in Congress: he is spending 3 billion in stimulus money to help build a new smart grid for energy delivery.

The Republicans dreamed they would win back power in 2010 by scaring people about health reform an the economy. But they are losing the public on both fronts, and getting embarrassed daily by the wingnut half of their own party.

Oh happy day.

Crazy rightwing cop intimidating his political opponents

Down in the southwest, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the anti-immigration nut, is facing an FBI investigation for abusing his power by arresting and intimidating people who dare to question his actions, using his power and the guns of his deputies to settle political scores. He is taking aim at a mayor, a police chief, a state attorney general, the county board of supervisors, a county manager, and a superior court judge. One U.S. attorney said he’d never seen anything like it. The sheriff and his deputies are demanding the mayor’s email and calendars, raiding city hall, and harassing and smearing politicians with “investigations” that never lead to convictions. A county supervisor who called for an audit of the sheriff’s budget was charged with 200 counts of nonsense which are being dismissed in gigantic numbers.

Another reactionary wingnut with a gun.

The GOP has a health plan…or do they?

Months ago the Republicans promised their own health plan, and then didn’t deliver. Now they are finally delivering – but the plan they’re unveiling is actually a plan to obstruct the deliberation process.

Boehner is starting to dribble out a teeny health plan, which he wouldn’t be doing unless there was a serious danger (to the Republicans) that the Democratic plan would pass. This is after Kyl was dangling in front of the Democrats the promise of a compromise on the opt-in plan. So clearly they know Obama wants a bipartisan bill if possible, and they will try to drag things out and confuse people with a dozen dangle-the-football-in-front-of-Charlie-Brown “compromises” that sound good in Fox sound bites but are really bad policy.

The House may vote on health care within the next 10 days. Michelle Bachmann is screeching about tyranny and egging on the teabaggers to march on Washington, invade the Capitol, and confront Pelosi. When is the Secret Service going to investigate Bachmann as a threat?

A key problem for the GOP is that they are obstructing so much, on so many fronts, that their block-everything strategy is becoming too flagrantly obvious: they have been blocking unemployment benefits just in time for Christmas (expect 100 “Grinch” ads from the Democrats next summer), blocking the surgeon general we need to fight the swine flu crisis (until they backed down), blocking virtually every judge who’s ever been nominated, and of course blocking health reform. Americans are waking up to the fact that these are not differences of policy or philosophy, but sheer obstruction. What are they going to filibuster next, the Senate cafeteria menu? Even more interesting, Reid is firing back, pointing out that the GOP has used procedural votes to block funding for our troops, Medicare, a clean water bill, an anti-fraud bill, and of course the unemployment benefits.

Also, the Democrats are pursuing a new line of attack against the GOP’s paymasters in the insurance industry: being a woman is not a pre-existing condition.

Some liberals think the Blue Dogs are really seeking a way to say “yes” on health reform rather than betraying Obama; they think the Blue Dogs are warming up to the Reid bill, that the stuff which the Blue Dogs claim they’re afraid of isn’t even in the bill, and that the Dogs will warm up more once they read it (Lincoln admitted she hasn’t read it). The CBO score will come out soon, and guys like Carper are pointing out that the Reid bill is almost like Conrad’s coop idea, in that the public option will only get seed money at the beginning (after that they would only get more federal money with a new bill). Lincoln must have seen the polls showing that in Arkansas the public option is more popular than she her self is; Snowe is talking triggers but she still hasn’t drafted or sold an actual plan that is realistic; some Dogs like Nelson are pushing for an opt-in but everyone knows it is a terrible idea which the House would never approve; and Lieberman hasn’t actually asked for a specific change in the Reid bill and nobody, still, even knows what he’s after (it could be something as simple and crass as bitchslapping the Lamont supporters who tried to end his career).