Number of Days Until the 2014 Mid-Term Elections

Number of Days 113th Congress Still Hasn't Introduced A Jobs Bill

Ben Stein's Ideological White Out

Sunday, January 31, 2010

On CBS this morning Ben Stein, former Nixon speech writer, conservative and a noted evolution denier gave his standard weekly critique of the Obama administration and its economic policies. One can only surmise how Mr. Stein got this gig after not only participating in the Nixon administration and its infamous price and wages freeze program that resulted in a failure of monumental proportions to stop inflationary pressures in the economy but who also gave "what me worry?" advice right before the 2008 economic crash. I'm just curious who ok's this stuff at the network and gives a guy like this who has absolutely no credibility at all on issues that he is on record for being incredibly wrong. Giving him a format with which to act as a critic at large seems somewhat ludicrious. But then again this is a network that thinks Katie Couric has the gravitas to sit in Walter Conkite's old chair.

The GOP Gets Away With Another One

While the plaudits continue to roll in for President Obama's question and answer performance before the GOP retreat in Baltimore, MD this past week I fine it interesting the MSM media and all the top progressive bloggers with their subsequent commenters seems to have missed something that I found quite annoying during this historic event. Every chance a Republican Representative had to refer to the Democratic party they used the pejorative terms "Democrat Party", "Democrat policies" & "Democrat leadership." The President in has admonitions to them seems to have let that one slide. I am still somewhat bemused how the Republican leadership continues to present the posture of a 10 year old as they pretend to "reach out" for compromise. Trying to have a dialog with someone in opposition with you while calling them names is a funny way of doing that.

My one minor complaint about the President's appearance before his critics as they tried a series of gottcha's is his missed opportunity to call them on being in control of every branch of government for six years and failing to not only enact any of the ideas they were presenting tho the President but failing to even bring them up. Even Chris Matthews caught that one in his role as the resident MSNBC diva in his post Q & A analysis. This makes their stance of "NO" to every Democratic party move at reform look even more ridiculous and hypocritical.

U.S. 4th Lowest Taxed Country In The World

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I'm struck by how much the Internet and Sunday talk shows tell me how much conservatives and tea baggers hate our ruinous taxes and all that government intrusion. This is, of course, always followed by a hyper profession of love of country. Then my "progressives" and "liberals" twitter feeds seem to always be filled with constant messages about how "liberalism" is a psychological disorder and a philosophy for the insane followed by a requisite inference about their "hatred" of America. With all this in mind its really no surprise this is the usual menu items of emotional wringing one can pick up on randomly selected Beck, Limbaugh, or Savage program offerings available for public consumption for validation of these feelings.

What really strikes me though is the incongruity of it all when you take their thinking process to their logical conclusions. The emotional and often tearful declarations of love of America is usually a preamble followed by a list of "Americans" they can't stand with "liberals" always taking the first available slot. This is usually followed by certain "politicians" making the list with yet more "Americans" being singled out for disdain and venomous rejoinders. Then there are others who are told their lives are "lifestyle choices" and not really who they are and therefore will not be invited into the tent where "liberty and the pursuit of happiness" takes place. Then there are those who are professed non believers in spiritual matters who are always looked down upon as folks not worthy enough to receive votes for elected office. Again more "Americans" the conservatives and tea baggers can't stand. The list seems to go on and on...lawyers, certain judges, Hollywood in general, "immigrants" who need proof of citizenship while of course your average looking "wasp" does not and e.t.c.

Then when one finds out we are the 4th lowest taxed country in the world (only above Japan, Korea, and Mexico) this stuff really starts to materialize into head scratches. As it turns out the three top taxed countries in the world are also perennial finishers in the top five for standards of living. Go figure.

I find it strange that as an eighth grader I had to memorize Lincoln's Gettysburg Address for a lesson. At the time it just seemed like a frivolous waste of time reciting something that made no sense to me. Of course by the time of my college years I knew exactly what it meant: "a government of the people, by the people, and for the people." This tall lanky fellow who was a Republican was telling me in no uncertain words that Americans and their government were one and the same.

I'm like most Americans who occasionally grumble about paying taxes. But most of the time one of the most patriotic feelings I get during the year is tax time in April. I'm actually committing the act of contributing to the good and welfare of my country. Anyone can stand around a grill with hot dogs and fireworks going off in the back ground yelling USA! USA!. But tax time is an actual act without the hype and circumstance. Its stands as a reminder that not only is freedom not cheap, it requires civic responsibility to contribute to the public good and welfare to the national community at large. Its funny how libertarians and rock ribbed Republicans always want that community opt out clause in their ideology and usually from behind some gated community with a guard shack and rules about how your homes should not only look but reflect a certain standard of decorum that isn't desirable from some "Americans" they can't stand.

There is a favorite comic strip from not long ago about a little boy and his stuffed tiger named "Calvin & Hobbs." One day while building a tree house and staking a claim to being a "girl hating" club excluding them from membership, Hobbs the stuffed tiger, poses a question of introspection, "Why do we want to keep certain people out of our club?" Calvin answers back with a smugness and certainty that can only come from six year old boys, "Because, its not a real club if you can't keep someone out."

Whenever I hear Republicans tell me they hate or can't trust the government but they trust the American people I always think of that Calvin & Hobbs cartoon. Since its not a "real club if you can't keep someone out" I understand what they mean now. The people they are professing to trust are people in the "club" and not those Americans on that list of who they can't stand.

How about that. Out of the mouths of babes.

President Obama & Misplaced Liberal / Progressive Optimism

Friday, January 22, 2010

I know Atrios is right about Bernanke but I'm afraid his optimism about how President Obama may now move towards naming actual walking and breathing liberals to top positions such as intelligence and finance is misplaced. As much as I deplore and hate Donald Rumsfeld I am forced to channel him when I say President Obama is the Democratic President we have. He is the one we will have to rely on to move on any number of progressive issues. If his first year, which officially ended yesterday, is any indication of how he will finish out his term(s) I won't be holding my breath.

He started out as the guy I voted for to do the things I thought he stood for on the campaign trail. Over the past year though my enthusiasm and excitment have been tempered and my support for him has been reset to my default position of why I always vote for Democrats: its for what they won't do.

Update: Well, how do you do. Josh Orton over at MyDD helps make it clear to everyone that so far, President Obama is no FDR.

Air America And Its Faux Progressive Programming Shuts Down

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Air America, the groundbreaking talk radio network that started out as a lone beacon of real progressive programming, finally ended its long, slow agonizing five year death spiral and breathed it last this afternoon. I loved this network’s original lineup when it started out in March of 2004 with a real life hard hitting progressive/liberal time slots that included the likes of Marc Maron, Sam Sedar, Janine Garafalo, Rachel Maddow, and my favorite and future U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken. For a variety of economic reasons and changes in executive management the network began making changes in its programming and letting original lineup hosts go until they all either went their own way or were forced off the air for one reason or another.

I felt the liberal perspective was being watered down to a more moderate/centrist dynamic with the gradual disappearance of each component of its original lineup. It finally reached the point around 2007 after bankruptcy filings and ownership changes where its progressive perspective was no longer viable as a liberal network outlet. The final nail in the coffin was when Al Franken left to run for the U.S. Senate and a self described raconteur named “Lionel” dropped into the future U.S. Senator’s prime slot from 3 – 6pm. The first pronouncement by this waste of airtime was he was not a liberal or progressive but a critic at large of all things political. In other words he presented a so called moderate view within the context of conservative framing of each issue he brought up or covered. It was at this point I decided I was done with the entire network.

By then I was rooting for its demise because of its continuous use of a false label of progressive programming under the guise of self-serving non-political personalities such as Montel Williams and others. I just wanted to blow the thing up and start over with a real network that served the liberal/progressive cause.

Currently former Republicans Ed Shultz and Stephanie Miller are the recognizable faces representing the liberal/progressive perspective. Both aren’t quite my cup of tea personality wise but I know the market has room for a such voices as Tom Hartman and Mike Mallory that would go along way toward moving some segments of the media away from right wing conservative issue framing and give the public a fresher view of progressive ideas and policy solutions.

Democratic Leadership In Full Retreat With 59 Seat Majority

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Right now Sen. Mitch McConnell is kicked back in his office with his feet propped up on his desk with a wide grin and the biggest illegal Cuban cigar one can imagine. If he were a drinking man, and it would be hard not to be if one were from Kentucky with its famous bourbon, he would have a nice tumbler nearby with perfectly formed ice cubes that made a sing song ‘clink clink’ as they dropped in the glass preparing themselves for a sweet shower of the Blue Grass states’ finest spirits.

And the reason for the Senator’s almost devilish smile you might ask? The driving force of Mr. McConnell’s mile wide Republican smirk can be found in his hand: a staff memo on the minority party’s office letterhead condensing the current list of the post Massachusetts special election Senate race talking points from the Majority party. There, dancing across the bone white paper lightly balanced in his hand, is a line that is the source of his beaming Kentucky smile:
“It is mathematically impossible for Democrats to pass legislation on our own. Senate Republicans to come to the table with ideas for improving our nation and not obstructionist tactics.”
With the sting of bourbon still singing from that last sip on his tongue he reaches for the intercom and calls out to his office aide to get the Majority leader on the line. While he waits for the reedy voice of Harry Reid’s felicitations to make its submissive crawl from the intercom speaker his nostrils flare from the tart sensation of his Cuban Diplomaticos’ slow burn. Resting his head back on the fine Corinthian leather chair that was a gift from the former Majority leader, Trent Lott, he forms in his mind the Senate agenda for the next 10 months with the right wing initiatives the floundering Nevada ex-bantam weight boxer will be forced to place before the Senate for consideration. He quietly chuckles as he thinks to himself, “And all with a 41 seat minority.” As his intercom finally sings out McConnell almost feels sorry as the Majority leaders voice nearly cracks calling out, “Mitch, what can I do for you?”

Ok, that’s not what’s really taking place right now, but the dynamics of the fictional picture above being painted and presented by the MSM along with the panicky public persona of the Democratic leadership in the wake of Martha Coakley’s loss in Massachusetts is. And in politics all perception is real. Even though the scenario I painted above is fictional the talking point isn’t. This talking point is not only real you can find others in a similar frame by the Democratic leadership here.

Let’s make this clear. The public perception of the electorate since the upset victory by Scott Brown of a panicky Democratic leadership is the frame being presented. The MSM’s picture they are painting of the above fictional relationship is real. And finally the MSM’s frame is as real as it gets as they continue to talk about how the Democratic leadership will now have to come to the Republicans with legislation that will get McConnell’s condescending nod of approval. In other words its all about what the Democratic leadership has to do, not the Republicans. Every issued tackled by the majority party will be within the context of conservative framing in the MSM regarding all fiscal matters connected with each initiative that will include tax cuts (what a surprise), spending cuts, deregulation, the funding and non funding mandates and so on. All of this with a 41 seat minority. That’s not only quite a feat, it one of stunning proportions. As a matter of fact that’s a feat unprecedented in our 220+ yr. History. Nice going Harry.

There is a running joke in the progressive blogosphere that all news no matter what is good news for the Republicans. The MSM’s conservative/GOP framing of the issues make it that way. Until the Democratic Party figures out how to change that landscape with an aggressive public posture and push their own issue framing they are in for a long painful ride as the opposing party no matter what status they are in. Harry Reid’s leadership to date has been a disaster perception wise. At this point and with his weak position in Nevada I don’t see a chance for it ever changing. I can’t recall ever being this disappointed in the Democratic Party. To make matters worse and even more infuriating the rogue Senator from CT, Joseph Lieberman, finds himself in a similar position of low popularity and high unfavorables back home (upper 30’s in some reports). Despite all this he has still managed to position himself as literally the most powerful man in the Senate. Yet, another historically unprecedented feat.

Until we somehow come up with new leadership I have a final suggestion for the beleaguered Harry Reid. Go out and find Robert Caro’s third volume book about Lyndon Johnson’s tenure as Majority leader: “Master of the Senate.” Mr. Reid should then use it like a “Majority Leadership For Dummies.” If ol’ LBJ were alive today in his prime and running the Senate his agenda would not only get passed he would make the Republicans like it with a smile. LBJ would make Mitch McConnell look like a red headed stepchild wondering how to please to get attention while he ran circles around him.

If only.

Update: Good god. As if on cue the MSM steps up to make my point above. Its exactly as Digby characterized it yesterday, "The problem is that [conservative ideology] is becoming conventional wisdom --- and the Villagers [members of the MSM] don't even know it." I couldn't have said it any better myself.

A Few Words On The Massachusetts Senate Race

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Some quick thoughts on the Martha Coakley loss tonight. First, Tim Kaine and the Democratic party leadership blew this one. They need to shoulder the blame completely and figure out how not to blow the next one. Second, senate Democrats like Claire McCaskill & Jim Webb have let Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and Mary Landrieu hold the Senate hostage while 43 million people are still uninsured and millions will continue to be trapped in their jobs because of pre-existing clauses. And of course the insurance companies will still ignore entreaties for reform and continue to make it their central policy to figure out how to deny claims.

The MSM meme of course will be the Democrats have to shift further right. They will still use GOP talking points to frame the issues to look “fair & balanced” and tell their viewers that if the Democrats don't follow suit on a host of issues with a shift to the right policy wise they are doomed. I’m still wondering why the GOP reaction to any win or loss is the same: to shift further right. The Democratic party seems to have the same reaction: shift rightward no matter the circumstances.

Finally, here’s my suggestion for the DNC: try shifting to more progressive policy solutions for once. Then maybe, just maybe there won’t be anymore Martha Coakley’s. And to the MSM and the Democratic partisan hand wringers: we’ve won three of the last four special federal elections since 2008: NY-20, NY-23 and CA-10. The Democratic party still has the power to control the debate if they would just use it. Call your Democratically elected official now and ask them to actually use the power they were handed in Nov. 2008. If not, get out of the way and let a progressive candidate do it.

And one more thing: would you now please run Lieberman out of the party caucus and strip him of his committee chair? There is really no point of leaving him there. Only further humiliation will result.

Wesley Clark's Future Up For Speculation

As a great admirer of General Wesley Clark imagine my reaction to the news from David Waldman over at Daily Kos about speculation of his possbile candidacy for the seat of recently announced retiree to be Arkansas Democrat Rep. Vic Snyder (AR – 02). Waldham gives an on the ground view that includes the possibilities of the Democratic Lt. Gov. and his plans but not before quoting a Spencer Ackerman piece on the chatter in Democratic circles about this possibility. It is only then that Waldman throws in his two cents on a conclusion I had already made before I even finished reading Ackerman's quote:

Snyder, you'll recall, recently announced his retirement from Congress, with the speculation being that he'd been driven from the race by poor polling.

Great. So now we have Wes Clark thinking about running instead. If that happens, well, thanks a lot, you moron "firebaggers!"

Of course, we don't really know where Clark's head is at right now. And is a House seat really the thing for him? There's already talk about a primary challenge to Blanche Lincoln from someone like Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (granted,
we're the ones doing a lot of the talking), but it should also be noted that Halter lives in AR-02, and it's not like it hasn't been said that he's mulling that race instead

What about a little switch 'em up? Keep thing interesting?
Exactly. As I sit here typing this out an old ’04 Clark for President campaign button is staring back down at me from my framed memorabilia collection. General Clark’s stature and national profile as former NATO Supreme Commander and 2004 presidential candidate would be better suited for the United States Senate then a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. My first choice in the 2004 Presidential election in order of preference was former Vice President Al Gore, Gov. Howard Dean, and then Gen. Wesley Clark. Former Senator John Edwards & Senator John Kerry only got my consideration when the first three did not become viable candidates in the primary process. My very fist thought as I read Ackerman’s quote was that Gen. Clark would be a perfect primary challenger for the disappointing Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and her blue dog sensibilities.

Here’s just a quick example of the kind of progressive mind and thinking we need in the U.S. Senate from Clark’s own piece for the September, 2002 edition of the Washington Monthly on post 9/11 policies and the run up to the invasion of Iraq:

"Soon after September 11, without surrendering our right of self defense, we should have helped the United Nations create an International Criminal Tribunal on International Terrorism. We could have taken advantage of the outpourings of shock, grief, and sympathy to forge a legal definition of terrorism and obtain the indictment of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban as war criminals charged with crimes against humanity. Had we done so, I believe we would have had greater legitimacy and won stronger support in the Islamic world. We could have used the increased legitimacy to raise pressure on Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to cut off fully the moral, religious, intellectual, and financial support to terrorism. We could have used such legitimacy to strengthen the international
coalition against Saddam Hussein."

Oh, if only. Let’s hope enough people in the Arkansas state Democratic party can find enough people to convince him to throw his hat in the ring. This is how you effect change in the American political process: from the inside. Not standing around with hand wringing and complaints about how the Democratic party has let us down.

Marco Rubio On Twitter: It's A Gas

Anyone who uses or peruses the remarkable social networking tool Twitter finds themselves at once a little awed by its reach while at the same time feeling some trepidations about what it says about the individual using it. The 140 character limitation for each “tweet” really serves as an engine for imagination for one to get across a thought or ideas in such a constrained and tight available script. For some it can lead to thought provoking insight while at the same time lead to curious suggestions about one's thought processes on a somewhat unintentional comedic level.

This brings me to the tea-bagger wanna be and current Republican candidate for Mel Martinez’s Senate seat Marco Rubio and his twitter feed. If one is to make a comparison with his rival, Gov. Charlie Crists’ twitter feed, you get quite a discrepancy between the mundane and the colorful. The interesting thing about Rubio’s tweets is his response to “attacks” from liberal bloggers (ahem…) and lefty Dems. I’m not writing this post to to do a serious piece on Rubio’s thinking process or deconstruct his right wing stances. Whenever he opens his mouth publicly he takes care of that. What I’m looking for is the comedic value. Let’s take a look at what possible comedic possibilities Rubio’s tweets might offer us:

"liberal bloggers and DEM operatives attacking me 4 opposing Obama bank tax "Never mind what haters say ignore them till they fade away #tcot"

Awww…until we fade away? How will that happen? Perhaps the next tweet might give us some insight…

"Will be @ gun show @ Lakeland Center at 12:15 today. Then Tea Party in Citrus County @ Old Ct House in Inverness @ 3.
#sayfie"

Guess there is some wishful thinking on his part…at least for those supporters at the event and those tea baggers…and what’s the best way to get connect with these supporters? Why how else…not through the liberal media? No way, better pick some “fair & balanced” coifs to do that…

"Check out my interview w/CNBC's Kudlow:
http://bit.ly/8mDlLa 3:35 PM Jan 14th "

"I will be a guest on the Glenn Beck radio show today. You can listen @
http://www.glennbeck.com/content/radio/ after 11 a.m. Eastern #sayfie 10:24 AM Jan 14"

"Will be on Kudlow Report at 7:40 on CNBC
#sayfie 6:40 PM Jan 12th from Echofon "

"Will be on Fox Biz channel at 6pm with Cavuto.
#sayfie"

I’m sorry I missed these. I’m wondering if Beck cried for him on the show. Better yet, wonder if ol’ Beckaroo could get Marco to cry with him…
Ah, yes. Then there is that you tube video from his supporters:

"Heard about youtube video using Hitler. It's offensive & grotesque I ask supporters not to forward & hope msm does not promote it.
#sayfie 9:14 PM Oct 27th, 2009 from Echofon"

C’mon Marco! Republican big tent…remember? Oh that’s right, that’s a Crist meme. Can’t be like that. And besides with the # of non-white faces at those tea bagger events you should have no problem fitting everyone under your one size fits all tent.

Yeah, those Rubio tweets are real knee slappers, aren’t they? All that’s missing is William Shatner reading them to music on a late night comedy show, right? Actually, these tweets aren’t funny at all. Not even unintentionally. They are dead serious. No long serious piece needed here or a deconstruction of what Rubio is about and what he stands for. They speak loud and clear for themselves. And he’s going to beat Charlie Crist in the primary.

Wait until those tea baggers get a load of Kendrick Meek. You’ll see a lot more tweets that look like the last one above. Good luck with that Marco. That’s some social networking tool there isn’t it?

The GOP & The Middle Ages: A World View

Monday, January 18, 2010

A couple of years ago a CBS News poll on evolution had a startling revelation: only 30% of registered Republicans believed in evolution. That’s 30%. Registered Democrats don’t get off so easy either where 57% actually believe in evolution that still leaves 40% who do not. That’s still 4 out of ten registered Democrats. Independents were at 61% yes to 37% no. Let me assure you the rest of the western world has moved on from this argument and overwhelmingly embrace Darwinian science. This includes an astounding 85-90% of Chinese.

What prompted this post was Digby’s piece over at Hullabaloo citing FDL’s Blue Texan discussion of Scott Brown’s anti evolution stance in the Massachusetts Senate Race. Back in 2005 Digby wrote a piece about how the GOP was being held hostage by the rank and files’ European Middle Ages’ world view of a literal theological doctrinaire belief of the book of Genesis and its creationists story:

“[…] Ben Adler asked a bunch of leading conservative intellectuals whether they believed in evolution. As far as I can tell only about half of them have any intellectual integritywhatsoever, and only one is definitively honest in my opinion: Charles Krauthamer, if you can believe that. Richard Brookheiser and William F Buckley get honorable mentions.Remember, these are highly educated people. The problem is not that they may believe in God or have a religious view of the origins of the universe. That is quite easily explained. It's the weaselly, mushy way they try to divert the question elsewhere or explain what they know is a ridiculous position. It's as if they are all terribly afraid that James Dobson might read TNR and berate them for not having a religiously correct fundamentalist view. William Kristol, as always, is the slickest guy around.

[…]And these are the people who railed against campus political correctness. What do you suppose it's like to be intellectually held hostage by people who you know for a fact are dead wrong on something? It must be excruciating.”

As a World History and A.P. World History high school teacher I will refuse, if I am ever driven by school board or state policy, to offer the sham view of Creationism in the classroom as an explanation with equal weight as that of Darwinian’s hypothesis of natural selection.

One has to wonder why evolution is still denied by such a large body of citizens in light of the Catholic Church’s record on the denial of scientific truth (i.e. Galileo). If one believes in the literal interpretation of Creation in the book of Genesis then one must also deny Galileo’s view of the universe where the Sun is not the center of the universe where the Earth actually revolves around the Sun and not vice versa. I am appalled that a large percentage of the American electorate still wants to hold these Middle Ages’ beliefs at the expense of scientific advancement (i.e. stem cell research). It just doesn’t seem logical to me to accept these other scientific truths while denying others that are based on the same scientific research methods.

This isn’t even the most bothersome thing about this. Let me conclude with a quote from a commenter on Digby’s post about intelligent design:

“I recall years ago reading some statistic about how like 80% of the Chinese believed in evolution like 40% of Americans.

It's probably more like 95/25 these days.

I await the arrival of our Chinese overlords any day now.”

Amen to that warning brother.

The GOP: the "Party of Life" - With A Price

Sunday, January 17, 2010

One of the infuriating things about being a liberal is how we are continuously told we are bleeding hearts in the pejorative as though it is something awful or terrible to be. Imagine being called compassionate and then being pilloried for it. Especially from individuals who feel the Judeo-Christian ethic is sacred. Yes, I know its always used to condemn at the expense of victims in a law enforcement argument but still we are being condemned for soft heartedness and the fact we care for the less advantaged. As an unapologetic liberal let me go ahead and plead guilty as charged. I am a bleeding heart. I feel compassion for my fellow man no matter the circumstances.

This is what makes the health care reform debate even more infuriating. Forget the argument that along with South Africa we were the only two nations left in the world without a national/universal health care system. Now that South Africa finally threw the towel in on that one we’re all that’s left standing. Forget that entire line of argument for it means nothing to the conservative mind. According to the “Party of Life” or the “Party of Family Values” the only good ideas in the world come only from the conservative American mind. So the idea that the rest of the world is on to something isn’t open for discussion. The thing that continues to leave me open mouthed in amazement though is why the GOP or rabid conservative proponent isn’t called for what they are if you take the logic of their argument to its logical conclusion: they are the “Party of Life / Family Values”…with a price. For some reason liberals or progressive will not call them on this with the exception of a lone elected official or two who is immediately labeled as a loon or extreme. Rep. Alan Grayson comes to mind.

If their argument is health care is a privilege and not a right then what they are saying is your life has a monetary price or value affixed. The longevity of your life is based on weather or not you get sick or ill and have the means to pay for care. Otherwise, you are expendable to the community at large. The comical thing about this is the Darwinian view of natural selection based on good health and the means to pay for health care they have in a party that doesn’t believe in evolution. If one would like to connect this to their “pro-life” frame in context of the argument of being anti abortion then it becomes even more insane. Have the baby. Then the Darwinian view of natural selection will kick in. You can live as long as you can afford it medically. In other words your life is a commodity like something you find on a shelf in a mall. That’s some “Party of Life” value they have there.

I’m still trying to reconcile 43 million Americans being without health care and untold millions that have health care coverage that is inadequate and based on a pre-existing condition trapping them in a job that may not pay as well as a job they could be getting putting more money into an economy based on consumer spending. The logic here is insane. Not only that with this many uninsured Americans and people trapped in a catch 22 situation with regards to the flawed coverage they do have how is it the body electorate isn’t feeling the pressure to do something about universal health care. Will it take a larger crisis and a more bankrupt system to move it toward fruition? My only conclusion is yes. But my final question is how many people will have to die unnecessarily before that happens? Apparently, a lot.

Liberals and progressives will continue to try to find candidates to run for office that believe otherwise. Then maybe, just maybe, they will have the wherewithal to finger and label the GOP for what they are: the party that puts a price on human life. Meanwhile us “bleeding heart” liberals will continue to look at human life for what it is value wise: priceless.

Halperin & Heilman’s Excerpts From Game Change Epitomizes A Vacuous Press

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The pundit and MSM buzz over Halperin & Heilman’s new book Game Change is expected considering the suggested content to date in the published excerpts. Actually, the buzz has been so great that a recent viewing of Chris Matthews’ Hardball with the two authors in question almost had the effect of making the viewer wonder if the host required an underwear change between segments. For the political junkie, such as myself, there are two fascinating aspects to the suggested substance of what has been made available to the public so far. First, is how much delight their narrative takes revealing to the world the salacious gossip they’ve uncovered from disgruntled campaign workers within the 2008 Presidential campaigns. The second and most glaring aspect is how little work and effort that seems to have gone into constructing this expose of personality flaws and the implosions that followed. Ax grinders have always been an easy source. This kind of easy access though usually comes with a high price: exaggeration and an agenda with slanted or prejudicial views. The only real news that will come out of the excerpts to date is the heavy water usage taking place from all the showers everyone will need if they chose to slog through this trash.

The most unsurprising aspect of what we have been teased with is just how much of a hack both Halperin and Heilmen seems to be. Their writing style comes straight out of the Maureen Dowd School of heavy handed and churlish dependence on a high school worldview of personalities. One can only imagine if Theodore White or Hugh Sidey were still alive today to see the road their profession has taken. They would both be reaching for Kevorkian’s work on painless suicide to escape the pain and crushing disappointment over how the profession they devoted their whole lives to is now pilloried with talentless hacks with juvenile deductive abilities and an appetite for the prurient.


Let’s take a look at two examples we’ve been teased with so far: John & Elizabeth Edwards and Sarah Palin. To be fair about my own prejudices and bias I was an Edwards supporter. He was my first choice over both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. There is no doubt there is some truth to the assertions Halperin and Heilman make. My question to both of these low life night crawlers is this: how really hard was it to attack and sully Elizabeth Edwards’ public persona? We are presented with a woman who has been handed a potential medical death sentence with the type of cancer she has and this was followed by revelations her husband was a philanderer. I’m not sure how hard it was to dig up dirt on a woman whose life and family are falling apart right before her eyes. How was she supposed to react to all of this? With dignified stoicism and emotionless aplomb? Not everyone is made the same way and we all have different ways dealing with life and death situations when we have been handed one. The question you will never hear from Chris Matthews or any of his ilk is how the deconstruction of the Edwards marriage gives us insight to the political dynamic that leads to electability and/or governing?


As for John Edwards, is it really news that he might have a somewhat phony public persona and isn’t really the humble southern lawyer he presented to the public? For students of the American political process and the junkies that follow this stuff its not news or a revelation that having a certain level of phoniness is inherent to the political profession. One might delve into the degree and level of phoniness the candidate possesses but is it really news? As a supporter of John Edwards I expected two things. First, that he had a progressive agenda he would follow through on if elected. Second, that he be as informed as possible about world affairs with some original ideas and the history of the American political process indicating an awareness of who and what we are as a people. He was fulfilling those requirements I was looking for. When it was revealed that the flaws he is endowed with not only made his electability problematic but would interfere with his ability to govern I was ready to move on. Yeah, I was disappointed and hurt but that’s part of being engaged in the political process and putting an emotional investment in a candidate.


John Edwards’ relationship with his wife isn’t for me to sit in judgment of. Everyone’s marriage is different and personal not open to public approval. These two guys write as though they are two junior high school students delighting and smirking over an intimate personal relationship and the fragile dynamics that take place when they don’t live up to the expectations between the two people involved. Again, writing about this stuff says volumes about who they are and who they want to appeal to.


Then there is Sarah Palin. If one is to take some of the things about the Edwards’ with a grain of salt the same has to happen regarding the right wing Wasilla Queen of the low informed voter. The picture they paint of her as being ignorant of basic American history and the political process is not news. I sure as hell didn’t need these two sewer dwellers to tell me she was the epitome of an incurious amalgamation of right wing cliché’s with little understanding of what they all mean coupled with an uninformed background of basic world affairs. The problem Steve Schmidt found himself with is it didn’t matter how much information they jammed her head with, it was all out of context for her because she never bothered to find out how the world works and how we as a people all arrived to where we are today. This is news? The Katie Couric interview alone revealed all of that in spades. I didn’t need these two dimwits to pile on more evidence. The descriptions reserved for her inside the dynamics of the McCain campaign would be easy to believe for anti Palinistas such as myself. But really, McCain’s campaign came to despise her and we should believe everything that comes out of their mouths?

These two night crawlers are what elements of the MSM want to have representing them? Here is a suggestion if you are even thinking about reading Game Change. Go pick up a copy of Richard Ben Cramer’s What It Takes. Open it to any page and read an excerpt. Once you do you will realize that you wouldn’t even uses the pages from Game Change for toilet paper.

The Decade Of Conservatism

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Wow! Digby points us to a killer post by Devilstower over at Daily Kos and then throws in a last punch of her own. This is must read stuff:

"Here's the thing about the naughts: there was nothing magic about the numbers. It wasn't because of a double-zero in the middle of the dates that we launched an invasion that's cost the lives of thousands of Americans, the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and a trillion dollars plus out of the pocketbooks of taxpayers. We launched into that still unresolved idiocy because of bad policy based on the conservative
philosophy of smash things first, think never. We went there because of a extreme version of American exceptionalism, one that views America as above the the rules of law and exempt from questions of morality. A view that says not only if the president does it, it's not a crime, but that if America does it, it can't be wrong.

It wasn't the decade that caused the economy to come down in tatters. It was a conservative approach to the marketplace that views government as the enemy, greed as the only acceptable motivation, and the only solution for disasters brought on by a lack of regulation as still less regulation.

It wasn't the calendar that brought down the banks, or American manufacturing, or American's influence around the world. It wasn't the date that added torture to the list of growth industries while erasing our budget surplus.

Don't forget the naughts, because this decade, no matter what anyone on the right might say, was conservatism on trial. You want less taxes? You got less taxes. You want less regulation? You got less regulation. Open markets? Wide open. An illusuion of security in place of rights? Hey, presto. Think we should privatize war by handing unlimited power given to military contractors so they can kick butt and
take names? Kiddo, we passed out boots and pencils by the thousands. Everything, everything, that ever showed up on a drooled-over right wing wish list got implemented -- with a side order of Freedom Fries.

They will try to disown it, and God knows if I was responsible for this mess I'd be disowning it, too. But the truth is that the conservatives got everything they wanted in the decade just past, everything that they've claimed for forty years would make America "great again". They didn't fart around with any "red dog
Republicans." They rolled over their moderates and implemented a conservative dream.

What did we get for it? We got an economy in ruins, a government in massive debt, unending war, and the repudiation of the world. There's no doubt that Republicans want you to forget the last decade, because if you remember... if you remember when you went down to the water hole and were jumped by every lunacy that ever emerged from the wet dreams of Grover Norquist and Dick Cheney, well, it's not likely that you'd give them a chance to do it again.

And they will. Given half a chance -- less than half -- they'll do it again, only worse. Because that's the way conservatism works. Remember when the only answer to every economic problem was "cut taxes?" We have a surplus. Good, let's cut taxes. We have a deficit. Hey, cut taxes even more! That little motto was unchanging even when was clear that the tax cuts were increasing the burden on everyone but a wealthy few. That's just a subset of the great conservative battle whine which is now and forever "we didn't go far enough." If deregulation led to a crash, it's because we didn't deregulate enough. If the wars aren't won, it's because
we haven't started enough wars. If there are people still clinging to their rights, it's because we haven't done enough to make them afraid.

Forget the naughts, and you'll forget that conservatives had another chance to prove all their ideas, and that their ideas utterly and completely failed. Again."


Then Digby follows up with a little back hand of her own:

"I don't deny that the corporate Democrats are screwed up too. But they didn't invent this political world. As I
quipped before, they just learned to stop worrying and love the money. This world of graft and corruption and unfettered greed was the conservative movement's idea of utopia. And they got it. ."


Now for my own follow up. If you had been a follower of this blog you would know what I've been saying from the outset. The 1920's saw unfettered conservatism run rampant and counter to all forms of regulation ala Teddy Roosevelt and his trust busting progressives. And what followed? A Depression that brought us to our knees. We almost didn't get back up. Yeah, we've been down this road before. And then, as Devilstower has pointed out, we went down that road again. The only difference was in the 1920's we were isolationists. In the naughts we went in shooting just because we could.

There is no doubt conservatives live and breath the "we didn't go far enough" mantle no matter the consequences in the face of overwhelming evidence of the contrary. But there it is. Given a chance they will try it again and again like the insane person doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. We've been there, done that.

In the name of all that's holy, let's not go down that road again. Ever.

Maureen Dowd: Irrelevance As A Virtue

I'm still wondering how Maureen Dowd, who writes like a juvenile with a thesaurus, manages to keep her paying job at the NYTimes. Her latest article only reinforces the notion she seems to harbor that journalistic irrelevance is a virtue. I thought one of the virtues of journalism was to make the reader more informed after reading the piece, not before it. Her latest on Janet Napolitano has to make one wonder if there are any virtues of having an editor or not at the paper of record. This piece starts out telling us the Dept. of Homeland Security head was hand wringing over the Christmas day terrorist attempt and was somewhat dismayed at the jumbled message she was trying to send about how safe airline travelers were. The piece then ends with us being told that Napolitano is kept awake at night by just such incidences.

Wow. Who knew?

Little Movement In Duval County Registered Voter Gains & Party ID's

Since I'm doing a little blog site cleanup and updating I was taking a look at the number of Duval County registered voter and party ID breakdown from May of 2008 and comparing it to the new year and found the results to be quite unsurprising. This would seem par for the course in light of how both Democratically controlled houses have performed since the 2008 election results.

The poor performance put forth by both houses only reinforces those voters' qualms about politics in general and makes a fine recipe for disaster at the polls this coming November for the Democratic party. Watching the party allowing the likes of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson to hold them hostage and then employing a strategy of pandering to Olympia Snowe and et al for the construction of a Potemkin village of bipartisanship was mind boggling. Watching this train wreck strategy that could only lead to a perfect storm for electoral disaster for the Democrats in the 2010 midterms was enough to make political junkies like myself along with local and regional political acolytes want to take the gas.

First let's look at the numbers for a comparative breakdown for 01/03/2010 vs. 05/30/2008:
REGISTERED VOTERS As OF 01/03/2010
Democratic: 240,688 (45.43%)
Republicans: 193,103 (36.45%)
Other: 96,023 (18.19%)Total: 529,814

REGISTERED VOTERS AS OF 05/30/2008
Democrats: 216,908 (44.65%)
Republicans: 184,174 (37.91%)
Other: 84,695 (17.43%)Total: 485,777

A 1% gain for the Democratic Party here over this 18 month period is nothing to write home about. In fact if there is any news in this comparative at all, it would be how the Duval County Republican party has managed to stave off disaster by avoiding a tsunami of voter registration discontent and it translating into a widening shift in the gap of party ID and growth. If the last eight years could not drive a widening gap in this regard then I'm not sure its possible to make it happen under any circumstances. George W. Bush by any stretch of imagination was an unmitigated disaster of a President and for Republicans in general. There is not doubt that this led to a loss of both houses for the Republicans but just barely when one takes the time to analyze the numbers for real world impact.

The Democrats still have a lot of work to do to redeem themselves. At this point in the game redemption would only mitigate losses to a minimum, not stop them. Let's hope the Democrats have it in them. Only time will tell.

A Decade With Few Intact Dignities

Is it me or isn't it fairly obvious that the only three American politicians to emerge from the first decade of the millennium with their dignities intact happen to be Democrats? In order they form a formidable trio: Al Gore, Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy. As for what the next decade holds in store for the Nobel laureate Al Gore, President Obama, and the legacy of Edward Kennedy that's to be seen. In the next decade their work is cut out for them as it follows what has to be one of the most disappointing decades in American history since the 1850's where convulsive and extremist political actions and a civil war nearly led us to our demise as a country.

When the mainstream media decided in the first Presidential debate of 2000 that Al Gore's sigh(s) determined the suitability of who would make a better President it turned out the joke was on the voters. Its as if Bush was representative of all the intrusive advertising practices of the last fifty years that Madison Ave. could dream up was forced upon us with an election result that wasn't quite what it seemed. Even though most of us didn't buy the bill of goods that was being marketed to us we still wound up with the lemon. Buyer's remorse for those who bought into the product's promises got the true meaning of what a lemon tastes like. Especially the families of the military who's loved ones were either killed or maimed. As for the Nobel Laureate Al Gore it turns out that he was as advertised: a deliberate intellectual who wasn't the guy you wanted to have a beer with but the guy you wanted running the country. Though the MSM kept pushing the "who would you rather have a brew with" meme as a criteria selection for the leader of the free world I thought it was an odd theme to run with since the guys I do have beers with on occasion would be the very individuals I wouldn't want anywhere near running a government. I'm still looking forward to his contributions for the next decade.

President Obama, who rolled into office with a wagon load of promise still has a long road to travel. Though he was not my first candidate of choice for 2008 I still felt I was casting a vote for the things I was hoping he would do, not for things I was certain he wouldn't do. I am very disappointed so far with his handling of health care reform and his, to date, awkward and lumbering governing abilities. Hopefully, he will regain the graceful stride he showed during the campaign and give me a promising reason to vote for him again instead of casting a vote for for the things I'm sure he won't do.

The legacy of Edward Kennedy is something that will seemingly take care of itself despite the failure of Democrats to enact the reforms Ted Kennedy envisioned. He was the last of a dynasty that literally gave their lives for what they believed.

We need more to hope for than intact dignities. Let's hope the next decade brings it to us.