Monday, August 31, 2009

Beck's guises:

Glenn Beck says:
[Obama and his supporters] know what they're dealing against; most of America does not yet. Most of America doesn't have a clue as to what's going on. There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America, and the way it is done, it has been done through the -- the guise of an election, but they lied to us the entire time.

Some of us knew! Some of us we're shouting out, you were: "this guy's a Marxist!" "No, no, no, no, no, no." And they're gonna say, "we did it democratically," and they are going to grab power every way they can. And God help us in an emergency.
Look for more of that:
  • Obama stole groceries from the store through the guise of paying for them at the checkout counter.

  • Obama hijacked a plane through the guise of being a passenger that purchased a ticket.

  • Obama faked his Harvard degree through the guise of graduating magna cum laude.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Disturbing Obama connection:

You've read about Jaycee Dugard, the girl that was kidnapped at age 11, held captive for 18 years, and just now discovered. The details of the story note that she was taken from the streets of South Lake Tahoe, California on June 10, 1991 by Phillip and Nancy Garrido.

But were they operating alone? Did they have any assistance? This naturally leads to the question: Did Obama have anything to do with it?

After receiving a Juris Doctor (J.D.) magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991, Obama returned to Chicago to become a community organizer.

Or so he says.

It has been suggested that after graduating, Obama did not head directly from Massachusetts to Illinois. It has been suggested that Obama first went to the Lake Tahoe area. There, after reading up on Saul Alinsky and consulting with his inner-Marxist, he decided to help the Garridos kidnap Dugard, the first step in a liberal-fascist takeover of the country.

Obama can clear up this issue by releasing his records from that period. If Obama claims innocence, then all he has to do is produce gas station receipts, phone logs, and electricity bills from 1991. Otherwise this very serious cloud will not be lifted.

Take it away Fox News Channel, the National Review, all Republicans, and talk radio.

UPDATE: Even more. The Garridos set up housing in their back yard to keep Dugard from view. What was ACORN doing back then in 1991? You guessed it, they were deeply involved with housing for low- and moderate-income communities, precisely the kind that the Garridos inhabited. That's an Obama-ACORN-kidnapping triangle that Glenn Beck will no doubt diagram on his show.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rod Dreher, conservative:
The other day I was having beers with some conservative Christian friends, and we were all talking about how sick we are of the craziness afoot among our tribes, and how frustrating it is to try to have a normal conversation about the actual problems facing the country in this kind of environment. This [Glenn Beck stuff] is exactly what we mean. This, and Limbaugh comparing Obama Democrats literally to "socialists and communists." If that's what conservatism has degenerated into, count me out.
Don't ever forget that Rupert Murdoch is the motive force behind much of this.


50% of GDP:

As part of the debate over health care, several people have noted that in the U.S., at least 15.3% if GDP goes for health care (2004 figures). And if the share of GDP continues its historical upward trend, it will reach 19.5 percent of GDP by 2017.

But wait, there's more!

What about the financial sector of the economy? For the U.S., the financial sector - financial intermediation, real estate, renting, business activities - comprises 32% of GDP (2005 OECD figure).

Now some of the financial stuff is worthwhile, but plenty is not. Adding together the financial sector and the (projected) health care portion, you're looking at 50% of GDP already spoken for. What's left is spending on all other stuff: services, manufacturing, entertainment, travel, etc.

That doesn't sound like a recipe for a robust, globally-competitive economy.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Idiot at the CDC:

This just in: (emp add)
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control, showing touching naiveté about the current political environment, are weighing an initiative to encourage male circumcision, with the idea that there are probably some minor health benefits. Says Dr. Peter Kilmarx, the head of epidemiology for the H.I.V./AIDS Prevention wing of the CDC, "What we've heard from our consultants is that there would be a benefit for infants from infant circumcision, and that the benefits outweigh the risks."
Really? Infants - while they are infants - will benefit from circumcision, AIDS-wise?

  • The doctor is stupid to claim that infants will benefit.
  • The doctor is politically tone deaf. Couldn't it wait until after the health care legislation is passed? Now it's another political football for the right-wing to kick.
  • The U.S. and much of the developed world is not like Africa, so lets stop using Uganda test results to set policy here.
  • Where is that heterosexual AIDS epidemic that has been predicted for 30 years? It was a bogus claim made to push the meme that "AIDS affects us all" (disease-wise, not in terms of how it affects friends/family/health-expenses) in order to get political support for funding and non-discrimination. Worthy goals, but but you shouldn't lie in order to achieve them.
  • It's wrong to irreversibly-surgically modify a kid when its not for an immediate cure (like a heart operation). Let the decision be made at the age when the male is an adult.
  • Circumcision is clearly a religious ritual of submission and that's mostly what keeps it being performed.
  • Here's the biggest objection. From the NYTimes article:
    Clinical trials in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda found that heterosexual men who were circumcised were up to 60 percent less likely to become infected with H.I.V. over the course of the trials than those who were not circumcised.
    A lot depends on the "base rate". If 100% of uncircumcised males get AIDS, then circumcision reducing the infection rate to 40% is something to take notice of.

    But if the base rate is one incident in ten million, then advocating circumcision to bring the rate down to one incident in (about) twenty million is insane. Is it worth circumcision of all males to eliminate the one-in-20-million AIDS case?

    What is the base rate for heterosexuals (in Africa or the U.S.)? The article doesn't say.

    This is another example of innumeracy that pervades the media.


This is silly:

NYTimes headline: First-Time U.S. Jobless Claims Fall Again

The government said Thursday that the number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for jobless benefits dropped last week, and the number of people remaining on the rolls also fell, evidence that layoffs have eased. (...)

The Labor Department said in a statement Thursday that first-time unemployment claims fell to a seasonally-adjusted 570,000, down from an upwardly revised figure of 580,000 the previous week. Analysts had expected a slightly larger drop to 565,000.
Let's compare apples to apples. The non-revised figure from last week was 576,000. This week it's 570,000. Difference is 6,000 or a tad over 1%.

The headline should have been that first-time jobless claims are essentially unchanged. (Actually, the non-revised figures show an increase.)

Interesting to note the prevalence of economic "happy talk" for much of this year.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kennedy at the 2008 Democratic Convention:
"And this is the cause of my life -- new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American -- north, south, east, west, young, old -- will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege."
Link has audio.


Cowards at the FOX Nation:

At the FOX Nation, every story has a comment section. Until today, that is. For the story, Sen. Edward Kennedy, 1932 - 2009, they don't have comments. Not even comments that pass through their vetting process. Why? Because they know what comments would be likely. Even vetted, they'd be sour.


Question for the day:

Where the hell are the bond vigilantes?

UPDATE: Krugman questioned and answered that topic here.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cheney's 5 lies in one sentence:

Speaking about the torture of detainees, Cheney said:
"They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do."


Tenth Amendment musings:

Over at, there is an essay, Rally 'Round the "True Constitution" which contains:
[There has emerged] a movement whose members are convinced that the 10th Amendment of the Constitution prohibits spending programs and regulations disfavored by conservatives. (...)

Tentherism, in a nutshell, proclaims that New Deal-era reformers led an unlawful coup against the "True Constitution," exploiting Depression-born desperation to expand the federal government's powers beyond recognition. Under the tenther constitution, Barack Obama's health-care reform is forbidden, as is Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The federal minimum wage is a crime against state sovereignty; the federal ban on workplace discrimination and whites-only lunch counters is an unlawful encroachment on local businesses.

Tenthers divine all this from the brief language of the 10th Amendment, which provides that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." In layman's terms, this simply means that the Constitution contains an itemized list of federal powers -- such as the power to regulate interstate commerce or establish post offices or make war on foreign nations -- and anything not contained in that list is beyond Congress' authority.
I agree with that view, and have for many years. FDR should have pushed for an amendment to the constitution to expand the enumerated powers (or revoke the Tenth Amendment).

But I have no interest in hypocrites, which is what the Republicans are. If they really believe in the Tenth Amendment, then they should have been pushing to roll back Social Security, Interstate Highway System, Medicare, the EPA, and many programs advocated by Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr., and Bush Jr.

But they didn't. And by now, with time, the Supreme Court's acceptance of a broad reading of "interstate commerce", and convention, the Tenth Amendment is effectively inoperable. There was a time to stand up for it, but 75+ years after the fact is just posturing.


Who is in charge:

Steve Benen writes: (emp add)
We talked over the weekend about the "death books" nonsense. The right-wing claim is that the Department of Veterans Affairs is pushing an end-of-life planning document that encourages vets to pursue death. The claim is completely ridiculous.

But it doesn't matter. The disgusting attack worked its way from Fox News to the Wall Street Journal to CNN.
Hmm. Got its start on Fox News, followed by the WSJ. Who owns those two media properties?

Towards the end of Benen's post, he reports:
For what it's worth ... the Obama administration published a detailed rebuttal to the lurid claim this morning.
Thank goodnes the Obama admin published a detailed rebuttal. That means we won, right?


Monday, August 24, 2009

Selling health care legislation:

Slowpoke has some good suggestions, especially in the second panel.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Beg to differ:

Headline: [Republican] Congressman Herger calls Obama [health care] plan 'threat to democracy'

No. The health care plan is not that.

However, there is a threat to democracy and it's the Cash for Clunkers program. Thankfully, it's ending in a few days. Otherwise, it would have been the means by which Obama would have become dictator of the United States, and following that, the world.


Are you ready for the "death book" ?

This teaser from Fox News Sunday:
Amid charges of 'death panels,' Chris Wallace uncovers explosive new information about a 'death book,' already being used by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

We'll take a look at how this controversial book steers users towards a predetermined outcome from the man who took down the program during the Bush administration: Jim Towey, former director of White House Faith Based Initiatives.
What's going on here? Sounds like the book was part of a program that was taken down, yet it is "already being used" by the VA. In any event, it's sure to goose the Fox News Propaganda Machine's ongoing hysteria on health care reform.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Mohamed will not go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohamed:

Or something like that. Not only will John McCain be on ABC's This Week on Sunday, but George Stephanopoulos is traveling to Arizona to interview the senator.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Thus spoke conservative Rod Dreher:
God bless Barney Frank



The New York Daily News has this story up
Poll: GOP heavyweight Sarah Palin would lose in 2012 election against President Barack Obama
So it's official now.


The FOX Nation asks:

Linking to the NYTimes article, Democrats Seem Set to Go It Alone on a Health Bill, the FOX Nation asks:
Are Dems Preparing to Ram Thru Health Care Against Will of People?
You see, the will of the people is properly the will of Fox News Channel viewers. The will of the minority who voted for McCain. The minority in the House. And the minority in the Senate.

FOX Nation even quotes this lead paragraph from the Times: (emp add)
Given hardening Republican opposition to Congressional health care proposals, Democrats now say they see little chance of the minority’s cooperation in approving any overhaul, and are increasingly focused on drawing support for a final plan from within their own ranks.
So they acknowledge (I guess) that the minority isn't on board, yet headline it as if the minority is the "will of [the] people".


Was this the brilliant plan?

From the NYTimes:
Administration officials, who maintain that Republicans are badly mischaracterizing the legislation that has emerged from three House committees and the Senate health committee, said they had hoped to achieve some level of bipartisan support. (...)

The officials said the White House hoped to make the case to the American people that it was Republicans who had abandoned the effort at bipartisanship. (...)

This week’s careful administration maneuvering on whether a public insurance option was an essential element of any final bill was seemingly part of the new White House effort to find consensus among Democrats, since the public plan has been resisted by moderate and conservative Democrats who could be crucial to winning the votes for passage if no Republicans are on board. (...)

Even as the administration showed some flexibility, angering liberal Democrats who consider a public plan essential, Republicans turned their attacks from the public option to the health care cooperative idea being promoted by some Senate Democrats.

In what Democrats regarded as further evidence that Republicans were not serious about negotiating, Mr. Kyl and Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second-ranking House Republican, described a co-op as a public option carrying another name.
From a Daily Kos diary:
According to CNN, one of the reasons why the Obama administration said what they said about the public option being "optional" this weekend was to see if they could get some of the moderate GOP and moderate Democrats on board. But apparently according to CNN, the GOP made it clear today to White House and the Democrats that they weren't going to participate in Health care reform.

The White House/Democrats will decide to pull the trigger in mid-September.


A theory:

Atrios writes:
The "Republicans don't want to pass anything" point was painfully obviously true months ago. So what was the point of all of this crap? [Obama doing the bipartisan outreach]
Here are some possible reasons:
  • People's memory fade and the earlier non-cooperation by Republicans was largely forgotten.

  • Bipartisan advocates (e.g. David Broder) demand that bipartisanship be attemped for each and every issue, Previous failures with outreach, it could be argued, were policy-specific and not due to the Republicans' strategy of "No". (You have to be pretty dim to believe that, but such people exist.)

  • Outreach->RepublicanRejection->PureDemocraticBill means that the debate is strictly within the Democratic party, and that advantages liberals.

  • It never hurts to continually emphasize that Republicans are not cooperative. Are not part of the process (when they reject bipartisan outreach). This could ahve effects in 2010

  • Blue Dogs power is diminished now that their right flank (Republicans) are out of the picture (via the outreach strategy)


Something David Broder left out:

Today, Broder wrote about Robert Novak. The penultimate paragraph reads:
Bob's conservatism was real. He grew up with an anti-FDR father in Joliet, Ill. As his doorstop of a memoir makes clear, he and Evans often argued over the tone of their column. Evans had a liking for liberal Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller. Novak preferred the more rigid right-wingers, like Indiana Sen. Bill Jenner.
Broder doesn't write anything further about Jenner because y'all know who he is, right? Jenner was so right-wing bizarre that Ike complained about being on the same (campaign) stage with him in 1952. And then there's this (Wikipedia):
In Congress, he was a follower of Joseph McCarthy. He charged, "this country today is in the hands of a secret inner coterie which is directed by agents of the Soviet Union. We must cut this cancerous conspiracy out of our government at once. Our only choice is to impeach President Truman and find out who is the secret invisible government which has so cleverly led our country down the road to destruction." Jenner alleged that the United Nations had infiltrated the American educational system in 1952.
Jenner was Palin before Palin.


Anybody got an answer?

This AP story, Analysis: Liberals tired of health care compromise and this Salon essay, Why are Dems still negotiating on healthcare? prompts the question:
What has been gained from the concessions to Republicans?
Is it David Broder's muted approval? The inclusion of an otherwise "controversial" provision? Or what?


Senate Finance Committee "Gang of Six" fun facts:

Inspired by a Salon article.

Who State Population
Max Baucus Montana 967,440
Kent Conrad North Dakota 641,481
Jeff Bingaman New Mexico 1,984,356
Chuck Grassley Iowa 3,002,555
Mike Enzi Wyoming 532,668
Olympia Snowe Maine 1,316,456

Those Senators represent 8,444,956 people out of a total of 304,059,724 for the nation. That's 2.7%. And they're all rural.

If each Senator represented a hypothetical state that contained 1/50th of the U.S. population (6,081,194.48) then collectively, the six would represent 12% of the nation.

That's not particularly inspiring (a larger "Gang" would be better), but it's a whole lot better than 2.7%. The Senate might just as well be a House of Lords, full of individuals with whatever quirks they happen to have. Some liberal, others conservative. But it's one thing for sure: not very representative of the population.


Keep an eye on this:

Shanghai stocks dropped 4.3% amid concerns over further tightening in credit conditions and a lack of market-supportive measures from Beijing. The index is now down about 20% since its Aug. 4 peak.
That's a lot of down in two weeks. The Shanghai market rose a lot this year, and maybe it's headed back to where it started. That could have implications for bourses worldwide.

HMM: Spell check within dialogue box doesn't like "bourses". But it's a legitimate word and not all that rare.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shorter Kevin Drum:

Don't worry, you'll get your quasi-universal health coverage in a mere 50 years.


Who is the detail man (or woman)?

Regarding health care policy, the White House apparently doesn't have a ready-to-explain plan for either the public option or the co-op. Is this because everything was handed off to Congress? If so, it's a major omission. Big projects like that should be war-gamed to explore various possibilities as different options are added or removed.

Democrats are on too many pages, so to speak, and without a compelling leader (unless you count Kent Conrad of the Senate Finance Committee - ugh).


Monday, August 17, 2009

Are progressives about to explode?

If the health plan goes the way the Senate Finance "gang of six" would like it to, lacking a public option but containing a mandate, won't that be a shock to the system?

It seems that, up until now, progressives have been willing to let Obama and the Congressional leaders (Reid, Pelosi) operate freely on the understanding that some basic policies - discussed in the election last year - would be firmly in the mix. But the peculiar attraction to bipartisanship, a 60-vote Senate threshold, and "small ball politics" (e.g. Obama in Grand Junction, Colorado - a replay of his caucus strategy), is taking the legislation into strange areas.

I expect an eruption, probably after the recess is over and the legislation becomes clearer.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Republican solution to health care is zero pooling of risk and you must purchase insurance:

Via Balloon Juice:
Republican Corning mayor Tom Reed running for Congressional district NY-29:
“What I’m talking about is taking the compensation that is going to employees now to pay for their health care through the employer and earmarking that money, dedicating that money, to the individual, to the employee, and making sure that money has to go to health care coverage and forcing the individual to use that money to solicit health insurance plans that best fit that individual’s situation.”
Not much different from McCain's approach last year.


Just because I feel like it:
World's Oldest Man Dies

The world’s oldest man and World War I veteran, Henry Allingham of England, died on Saturday at the ripe old age of 113. He is the last to have seen the trench horrors of the Great War. Allingham had become the world’s oldest man on June 17th, according to Guinness Book of World Records, when the previous holder of that title, Tomoji Tanabe of Japan, died earlier this year.

The world’s oldest man is now David Broder, an American living in Virginia.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rick Perlstein in Sunday's Washington Post:

This story will get a lot of coverage in the liberal blogs. Excerpt:
[In] America ... the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests. (...)

Liberal power of all sorts induces an organic and crazy-making panic in a considerable number of Americans, while people with no particular susceptibility to existential terror -- powerful elites -- find reason to stoke and exploit that fear. And even the most ideologically fair-minded national media will always be agents of cosmopolitanism: something provincials fear as an outside elite intent on forcing different values down their throats. (...)

Liberals are right to be vigilant about manufactured outrage, and particularly about how the mainstream media can too easily become that outrage's entry into the political debate. ... Conservatives have become adept at playing the media for suckers, getting inside the heads of editors and reporters, haunting them with the thought that maybe they are out-of-touch cosmopolitans and that their duty as tribunes of the people's voices means they should treat Obama's creation of "death panels" as just another justiciable political claim. (...)

The tree of crazy is an ever-present aspect of America's flora. Only now, it's being watered by misguided he-said-she-said reporting and taking over the forest. Latest word is that the enlightened and mild provision in the draft legislation to help elderly people who want living wills -- the one hysterics turned into the "death panel" canard -- is losing favor, according to the Wall Street Journal, because of "complaints over the provision."
The Perlstein essay has a lot of historical examples from the previous century.

RELATED: Home Nurse Visits: A New Health-Care Fear for Conservatives


Teabaggers' understanding of the Constitution:

Katy Abram (a Glenn Beck fan) is one of those people that went to an Arlen Specter town hall and said: (emp add)
"It's not about health care ... It's about the systematic dismantling of this country ... I don't want this country turning into Russia, turning into a socialized country. I want to restore this country to what it was under the Constitution."
People like Abram apparently believe that the Constitution mandates an economic system - free market capitalism or something like that.

It does not.

At the beginning there were some restrictions at the federal level (no income taxes, enumerated powers), but the states were always free to own the means of production. And from around 1900, federal activity expanded through amendments and Supreme Court rulings so that socialism is not precluded.

Teabaggers, at least those that get involved with this topic, should be considered part of the Constitution in Exile crowd, which is dedicated to undoing the New Deal. That was what Bush wanted to do, most notably with his attempt to dismantle Social Security.

Teabaggers should be asked how they feel about FDR's New Deal. Rejection of the New Deal, and many significant political/economic developments of the 20th century, is not a winning position, but it's motivating the protests at the town halls.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Four questions:
  1. How much a factor was Palin in keeping the "death panel" debate alive?
  2. Should she get credit for the Senate Finance committee's decision to drop an end-of-life provision?
  3. If there had been no town hall meetings this summer, would that have denied the opposition a forum, leaving them with virtually no place to influence the debate?
  4. In the wake of the apparent success the (minority) opposition has had with town hall meetings, will town halls soon be a thing of the past?


Hooray for the media!

Here's how it comes off to me. The media is saying:
  • The "death panels" aren't exactly what people think they'll be.

  • Under Obama's health care proposals, granny will not be dragged off in the middle of the night to face a death panel.

  • Death panels unlikely to be implemented nationwide as soon as next year.

  • Ezekiel Emanuel not slated to head death panel.

  • "Death panel" talk has seniors worried.

  • Death panels won't be funded by cost savings through mandatory abortions.


Sean Hannity today: (within 2 minutes of the first hour of his radio show)
"We have won on the issue of death panels."


James Fallows: That Internet thing may not have improved political debate

From his I was wrong post:
In the early 1990s McCaughey single-handedly did a phenomenal amount to distort discussion of health-care policy and derail the Clinton health bill. She did so through an entirely fictitious argument about what the bill would do. (...)

... her imaginary "no exit" claim was repeated so often by so many "respectable" media sources that it effectively became "true" and played a large part in stopping the bill. (...)

In [NPR's] On the Media interviews, I said that the "media ecosystem" was a lot different now from what it had been fifteen years ago. Back then, there was no blog world. The news cycle moved in days-long or weeks-long intervals, as newspapers came out each morning and newsmagazines each week. It was very hard to have instant feedback or correction in real time, so false stories could solidify before the truth squad had a chance. The early McCaughey was brilliantly matched to this system. Her unvarying pose is that of the objective researcher who has, selflessly, pored through the pages of a bill and emerged to warn us about what she has found. People took it at face value the first time.

But these days, I said, that wouldn't work as well. She personally now had a track record. (Republican politician with a turbulent history; proven distorter of the facts.) And thousands of other people could now look through a bill too and post their findings mere minutes or hours after her claim. Thanks to blogs, Wikis, and the rest, there was a more nimble check-and-balance built into the discussion of ideas these days. (...)

But then came her claim about the "death panels." About the plain old facts here, there is as little room for rational dispute as with her previous phony contentions. The bill would not call people before panels to determine whether they had a right to live. (...)

... the flow of argument makes it appear that "death panel" has won the battle of political ideas, as "no exit" did 15 years ago ...
Rupert Murdoch still rules.


The latest from the FOX Nation:
FOX Nation Victory! Senate Removes 'End of Life' Provision

The Senate Finance Committee will drop a controversial provision on consultations for end-of-life care from its proposed healthcare bill, its top Republican member said Thursday.The committee, which has worked on putting together a bipartisan healthcare reform bill, will drop the controversial provision after being derided as "death panels" to encourage euthanasia by conservatives.
They said it, not me.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why don't people mention Rupert Murdoch as a key factor?

At TMV, this excerpt from NBC’s First Read on the town hall meetings:
While the focus of all these town-hall meetings across the country has been on health care, what has become clear is that the anger and frustration in the debate is about much more than that. Yesterday, one of us attended Sen. Ben Cardin’s (D) town hall in Hagerstown, MD, which is in a county McCain won but a state Obama overwhelmingly carried. The town hall had it all — shouting, shoving, at least one threat of pressing charges, two confrontations on race outside the town hall and people walking around with Obama-as-Hitler signs. At least the three-quarters of the crowd didn’t vote for Obama and said they would never vote for him. They were irritated with the direction of the country after the 2008 election, with a man as president they didn’t vote for, and with a Congress ruled by Democrats. They were angry with being out of power and having — because of being in the minority — what they felt was no say.

…. But there was no indication that these folks were so-called “Astroturf” grassroots supporters. (...) For many of the frustrated, there was real desperation in their voices — the belief, almost to the brink of tears, that the country is going to the pits. They are the true believers. They were also big-time Fox News viewers and Glenn Beck disciples, hammering home the perception that this is where these people get their news, er, information. One mother-daughter combo — unprompted — enthusiastically boasted, “Fox rules!” “It’s all we ever watch!”
It would be hyperbole to say that one man's ownership of a media empire - all by himself - could derail the wishes of the majority that voted last year, but he's an enormous reason for the way things stand today. Fox News (and to a lesser extent Murdoch's print media) is ramping up the crazy, and with no regrets.

TO CLARIFY: It's not that Murdoch's media empire is changing minds so much as it's raising the emotional tenor of the debate with propaganda aimed directly at conservatives. The goal is to paralyze Obama and the Democrats; to negate the democratic process.

HMM: Bruce Bartlett has similar thoughts (though not Murdoch-centric):
In my opinion, conservative activists, who seem to believe that the louder they shout the more correct their beliefs must be, are less angry about Obama’s policies than they are about having lost the White House in 2008. They are primarily Republican Party hacks trying to overturn the election results, not representatives of a true grassroots revolt against liberal policies. ...
Mark Thoma observes (at the same link above):
... my concern is that [conservatives/Republicans] can falsely blame the current administration and make questionable assertions without getting called on it in the media. It doesn't hurt your credibility to say false or misleading things about the Obama administration if there is no accountability for it from the major media (who instead seem to fan the flames of outrage irrespective of the underlying truth in their attempt to grab viewers). If the media carries the message without effective rebuttal, why not make outrageous claims?
If Thoma is correct, then the following formula applies:
Big Democratic win in 2008 + noisy obstructionist conservatives + lame-o media = failure to implement new policies
No wonder a sense of despair is setting in.

We're stuck in what Josh Marshall has called a "nonsense feedback loop"--a conversation in which Zeke Emanuel wants to kill grandma, health care reform is bad for the people who can't get health care, and Stephen Hawking has been snuffed out by the British National Health System. Instead of arguments that are unrelated to reality, we're getting arguments that are the very opposite of reality.
Where do you start with that? Do you take the time and effort to counter Investment Business Daily's claim that Stephen Hawking would be dead if he were under the British National Health System? Or should you chase down and rebut the latest lie from Betsy McCaughey? Or the "death panel" claim? Etc.

I get the feeling that many pro- health care reform folks have given up at the tactical level and are hoping that Congress and Obama will, basically, work independently of the ruckus and produce legislation, vote on it, and (maybe) get it passed.


David Frum names names:

Critical of:
  • Rush Limbaugh
  • Mark Levin
  • Sarah Palin
  • Glenn Beck
  • Sean Hannity
  • Jonah Goldberg
  • Michelle Malkin
  • Newt Gingrich
Last two paragraphs: (emp add)
It's not enough for conservatives to repudiate violence, as some are belatedly beginning to do. We have to tone down the militant and accusatory rhetoric. If Barack Obama really were a fascist, really were a Nazi, really did plan death panels to kill the old and infirm, really did contemplate overthrowing the American constitutional republic—if he were those things, somebody should shoot him.

But he is not. He is an ambitious, liberal president who is spending too much money and emitting too much debt. His health-care ideas are too ambitious and his climate plans are too interventionist. The president can be met and bested on the field of reason—but only by people who are themselves reasonable.
There are folks out there who really believe Obama is "those things". So who knows what might happen?


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

David Broder won't personally condemn Limbaugh; this is as close as he'll get:
"Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents a heavily Jewish district in Florida, phoned me to complain that top House Republicans have not publicly repudiated Rush Limbaugh for his statements likening Obama's health policies to those of the Nazis."
Brave man, this Broder fellow.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Why Investors Business Daily thought Steven Hawking wasn't British: (emp add)

From Hawking's Wikipedia page:
During a visit to the research centre CERN in Geneva in 1985, Hawking contracted pneumonia, which in his condition was life-threatening as it further restricted his already limited respiratory capacity. He had an emergency tracheotomy, and as a result lost what remained of his ability to speak. He has since used an electronic voice synthesizer to communicate.

The DECtalk DTC01 voice synthesizer he uses, which has an American accent, is no longer being produced. Asked why he has still kept it after so many years, Hawking mentioned that he has not heard a voice he likes better and that he identifies with it.
Feel free to comment.


The Power Line take on health care:

John Hinderaker, opining on the results of a Rasmussen (!) poll: (emp ad)
... today's Rasmussen survey asked likely voters an interesting question: when it comes to health care decisions, which do you fear more--insurance companies, or the government?

By a 51-41 percent margin, respondents said they fear the federal government more. This seems right to me; I really don't understand why anyone would be afraid of an insurance company. The breakdown is interesting, too. People who actually have health insurance are much more afraid of the government, but people who don't have health insurance fear insurers more than the government. Could that be why they don't have insurance?
Yeah, it's not affordability or denial of coverage that explains why some folks don't have health insurance, it's merely "fear".


Here's how you do propaganda:
  • Republicans call the estate tax a "death tax".
  • O'Reilly calls Dr. Tiller an operator of a "death mill".
  • Sarah Palin makes up stuff about "Obama's death panel" (which you must "stand in front of" - making it even more ominous).
The comment by Palin was almost certainly co-written. On her Facebook page, the term "death panel" was in quotes, which allows for some deniability; the "standing in front of" element (noted above) is a melodramatic touch that's not Palin's style; other elements of her statement have an Investors Business Daily-like construction.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Making a list of health care protests: (and some of their enablers)NOTES: Marginal cases were excluded (e.g. only one person yelling at an event). Dates should be accurate, but may be one day off due to failure of report to say exactly when the event took place.


Friday, August 07, 2009

Sullivan on what's going on:

From his post, Violence Over Healthcare: (excerpts, emp add):
... the vicious anger from the far right, which is to say what is currently the right, seems totally out of proportion to these reforms. Where does that come from? It comes from the same place as the tea-party protests. It's partisan ... But it is also surely cultural - an expression of the rage some in white America feel at the new social make-up of their country.

You believe a fake America has taken over. You cannot understand this. So you start believing that we have a fascist/communist dictatorship, that there was some fraud allowing a non-citizen to become president, that the government is about to "take over" all healthcare provision ... and on and on.

To me, this is a triumph of ideology. And conservatism is now an abstract anti-government ideology, fueled by cultural, racial and sexual resentment. This is a recipe for more violence ...




Ambinder writes: (emp add)
This is precisely why the Birther imbroglio could be so harmful to the GOP. If Birthers are portrayed as backward, hateful, and racist, and Democrats and liberals can make "Birther" synonymous with "Republican" then who will want to call themselves Republicans? The risk isn't just being seen as taking the minority side of an opinion, it's to be seen as a lunatic or racist.
"If" Birthers can be portrayed as nuts.

Like it's uncertain.


May you live in interesting times:

Are we there yet?


First it was "Get A BRAIN! MORANS"

Now it's "People Fear Gov't Tranny"


Krauthammers health care proposal:
  • Kill all the lawyers. (Eliminate malpractice lawsuits.)

  • Eliminate any pooling of risk (e.g. through employers) and have everybody purchase health insurance on an individual basis.
That second item would hasten the end of insurance-provided health care since the sorting out of high and low risk people would result in unaffordable coverage - or none - for the former, followed by bankruptcy if you didn't get to age 65 (when Medicare kicks in). without serious incident.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

I blame Rupert Murdoch:
Tampa Town Hall On Health Care Reform Disrupted By Violence
You should too.


Malware alert:

At TPM: (emp add)
After Orly Taitz released the quickly-debunked forged Kenyan birth certificate, it was discovered that the document was altered from a source document that didn't even come from Kenya, but was taken from Bomford's family genealogy site.


But Taitz is carrying on, having posted two days ago on her Web site that Bomford's certificate is the suspect one: "Bomford report was created to try to discredit my efforts." (Note: the Taitz site may contain malware.)
I've seen that malware warning about Taitz' site elsewhere (e.g. Little Green Footballs) and I've not gone to her site. Why risk it?

But what a bizarre situation, huh?


Right-wing talking point on health care:
Obama wants to kill you all.
Hard to beat that message.



Musings on donating part of your body:

Last week (Tues, 28 July), Kevin Drum had a post on paying people who donate kidneys. He writes that "The idea, frankly, makes me very, very queasy," and I agree. While there are arguments in favor, as Kevin lists, the notion of violating body integrity for money bothers me.

On the other hand, I don't have any problem with people being paid to donate a renewable body component. (Or nearly perpetually renewable such as eggs, which run out only after a long time.)

Like blood. Which is partly the reason for this post. I used to donate very occasionally and then stopped for no good reason. But some years ago, in reply to an appeal on the internet by a blogger, I got back into the habit and this week donated my 40th pint since then, which means 5 gallons for this decade.

I'm basically punting on the organ donation issue but putting this post up to encourage others to donate blood. Doesn't have to be manic. Hospitals or the Red Cross would be delighted with 2 donations a year (max is 6/yr). Consider it.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Want a loan?

There's an ad on television from that says you can get $2,600 with limited documentation required ("because we trust you").

Here's the deal. You get $2,600.

You pay, for 36 months, $298.94.

The APR is 139%. You might think that's high but not super-high. In any event, if you make all the payments you will have paid $10,761.

If you don't pay those kind of loans back super-fast (say within 6 months, if that's an option), you're in serious hot water.


Republican governor of Arizona has a budget for the recession:

Hard to believe, but it's true: (emp add)
The governor’s budget includes tax increases for shoppers, tax cuts for those making $150,000 or more as well as for corporations, sharp cuts to state spending and a cap on future education funding.

At the center of the conflict is the governor’s proposal that the state dig out of its shortfall — equal to a third of Arizona’s operating budget — with a 1 cent sales tax increase, to be put before voters on the November ballot.
Higher taxes for those making less than $150,000 (sales), tax cuts (unspecified, but probably income) for those making more than $150,000.

And during a recession.


John Bolton writes about the North Korean incident:
The reporters' arrest, show trial and subsequent imprisonment (twelve years hard labor) was hostage taking, essentially an act of state terrorism.
So, rounding up harmless people, having a show trial (or no trial) and then imprisoning them for a long time is "an act of state terrorism".

Sure glad that doesn't happen in this country.


Because the filibuster is in the news again:

A repeat of a post from June 2007.
It's worse than that:

E.J. Dionne writes:
... those who attack the system don't actually want to change it much. For example, there's a very good case for abolishing the U.S. Senate. It often distorts the popular will since senators representing 18 percent of the population can cast a majority of the Senate's votes. And as Sen. John McCain said over the weekend, "The Senate works in a way that relatively small numbers can block legislation."
Look at what it takes to block legislation (or a censure resolution). All it takes is a filibuster and a subsequent failure to invoke cloture. Invoking cloture reqires 60 votes. So if one side has 41 votes, that's enough to block legislation. All it takes is 41 Senators from 21 states.

Under a worse case scenario, Senators from the 21 least-populous states could block legislation. How many people are in those 21 states?

If you look at the List of U.S. states by population, we find that out of a total of 300 million for the country, there are 37 million in the 21 least-populous states. That amounts to 12.4% of the population, or one in eight.

But wait, there's more!

Taking this further, it's possible that in each of the 21 least-populous states, the senator was elected with a vote of 50% +1. Effectively half the population of each state. So it could take as little as 18 milliion people (6.2%) to elect enough senators to stop action on a particular bill. That's one in 16 people. And that explains, in part, how anti-democratic (and pro-plutocratic) the Senate can be.

One in 16 is all it takes.

CLARIFICATION: Not everybody votes or can vote, but the ratios still apply.


That Pittsburgh shooter:

He had a website that was seriously creepy. He wrote about an aborted attempt earlier this year:
January 6, 2009:
I can do this. Leaving work today, I felt like a zombie - just going thru the motions. Get on the bus, get the car, drive home.....My mind is screwed up anymore, I can't concentrate at work or think at all.
This log is not detailed. It is only for confidence to do this. The future holds even less than what I have today.
It is 6:40pm, about hour and a half to go. God have mercy. I wish life could be better for all and the crazy world can somehow run smoother. I wish I had answers. Bye.

It is 8:45PM: I chickened out! Shit! I brought the loaded guns, everything. Hell!
I got that from a webpage save earlier today. Since then the domain returns a SERVICE UNAVAILABLE notice.

What I was trying to find out in my second check of the website was, did it have a robots.txt file excluding web spiders and robots?

Let's assume it didn't. Then can what he wrote be considered fair game for law enforcement to look at? Would it result in finding and thwarting potential killers?


What's Hillary Clinton doing in Kenya?

Probably working with officials to find and destroy all evidence that Obama was born there.


Curmudgeon time:

About those two journalists freed by North Korea.

What was one of them, a mother of a five-year-old doing anywhere near* the China / North Korea border? Sorry, but that's irresponsible. I'm no fan of North Korea, but if they entered that country's territory, they should have been aware of what trouble they could get into.

It's good that they've been released, but I haven't read any criticism of their high-risk behavior.

* - reports say they were arrested "at" the border. If they were taken from Chinese territory, China would have objected, but hasn't. So it looks as if they really did enter North Korean territory.

UPDATE: What's with the Huffington Post headlining with "BILL UPSTAGES HILLARY... ONCE AGAIN"? Look, Bill did fine. Hillary is doing fine. No problems with either one of them, but why is this story getting so much play?


Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Via TPM, we learn that there was a townhall meeting in Worchester, Massachusetts that was feisty. Attending were two Democratic Representatives and the dean of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

At one point someone in the crowd called the dean of the school "Dr. Mengele" for suggesting people compare treatments to find those that are effective.

And it went downhill from there.


I'm concerned about Kevin Drum:

In a post about cooking, he writes:
.. here's my recipe for making salmon:

1. Place a piece of salmon in a baking ban.

2. Put the baking pan in the oven.

3. Take it out after a while and eat it.
Kevin, don't eat the baking pan! It's not good for you.



This is interesting:
... Rep. Doggett (D-TX) is now being confronted by “angry, sign-carrying mobs” back home in his district which are being orchestrated by well-heeled lobbyists. Doggett released a statement yesterday explaining that he won’t be deterred by the mob:

This mob, sent by the local Republican and Libertarian parties, did not come just to be heard, but to deny others the right to be heard. And this appears to be part of a coordinated, nationwide effort. (...) I am more committed than ever to win approval of legislation to offer more individual choice to access affordable health care. An effective public plan is essential to achieve that goal.


Arthur Laffer: A national healthcare program will be staffed by African-Americans:

That's how I read this statement from him:
"If you like the Post Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles and you think they're run well, just wait till you see Medicare, Medicaid and health care done by the government."
Let's be frank. From about the 1960's to the 1980's, the Post Office and other government agencies had a "disproportionate" number of blacks. That's due to a number of factors, the primary one being that the federal government was quicker to hire blacks than private enterprise. For a long time "the Post Office" and "the DMV" was code for such staffing.

But that's changed over the years as a visit to both places will attest. Laffer is dating himself, using an obsolete slur.


Q: Why is it that radio DJs never back-announce tracks when you want to know what it was?

A: It may be company policy.

From Nancy Sinatra's NYTimes OpEd: (emp add)
Radio station owners argue that artists receive free promotion from airplay of their records. This is simply untrue. Most of the music played on AM and FM radio is at least two years old. And the practice of “backselling” — mentioning the name and performer of the song that was just played — has fallen into such disuse that a decade ago the nation’s largest radio station operator, Clear Channel, asked for $24,000 per title to mention the song’s artists on the air. It’s no surprise that companies unwilling to even recognize artists on the air would also be averse to paying performance royalties.


Monday, August 03, 2009

I love this Salon article by Michael Lind:

It's of medium length, but hits on several issues that have preoccupied me for years. Basically Lind (and I) are New Dealers and are see neoliberalism as harmful to labor.

Lind's article is for you if you've never been impressed with Bill Clinton, Larry Summers, and Robert Rubin.

An edited summary:

New Deal:
  • The state provides both social insurance and infrastructure.
  • The private sector engages in mass production.
  • New Dealers approve of Big Business, Big Unions and Big Government.
  • Finance should be strictly regulated and subordinated to the real economy of factories and home ownership.
  • They are economic internationalists because they wanted to open foreign markets to U.S. factory products
  • Support for social insurance systems like Social Security and Medicare, which were rights (entitlements) not charity and which mostly redistributed income within the middle class.
  • New Dealers prefer a high-wage, low-welfare society to a low-wage, high-welfare society. To maintain the high-wage system that would minimize welfare payments to able-bodied adults, New Deal liberals did not hesitate to regulate the labor market, by means of pro-union legislation, a high minimum wage, and low levels of immigration (which were raised only at the end of the New Deal period, beginning in 1965).
Neoliberals: (which include DLC folks)
  • Supported the deregulation of infrastructure industries that the New Deal had regulated, like airlines, trucking and electricity ...
  • Neoliberals teamed up with conservatives to persuade Bill Clinton to go along with the Republican Congress's dismantling of New Deal-era financial regulations.
  • As Asian mercantilist nations like Japan and then China rigged their domestic markets while enjoying free access to the U.S. market, neoliberal Democrats either turned a blind eye to the foreign mercantilist assault on American manufacturing.
  • While Congress allowed inflation to slash the minimum wage and while corporations smashed unions, neoliberals chattered about sending everybody to college so they could work in the high-wage "knowledge jobs" of the future.
  • Rubin helped to wreck American manufacturing, by pursuing a strong dollar policy that helped Wall Street but hurt American exporters and encouraged American companies to transfer production for the U.S. domestic market to China and other Asian countries that deliberately undervalued their currencies to help their exports.
  • By claiming that American workers are insufficiently educated for the "knowledge economy," neoliberal Democrats divert attention from the real reasons for stagnant and declining wages -- the offshoring of manufacturing, the decline of labor unions, and, at the bottom of the labor market, a declining minimum wage and mass unskilled immigration.
About those "knowledge jobs". For two decades that's been the refrain, as if the rest of the world can't compete. But if you recall, Alan Greenspan was totally jazzed about high speed Internet because it would allow knowledge jobs to be performed elsewhere. We all hear about the call centers in India, but there's more than that. I provide technical support to a physician who does a final review of test results. Records that are first processed in India by non-technicians and non-physicians. The only reason the physician is involved is because state law requires an in-state doctor to give the final sign-off. Reviewing these test results is a knowledge job that has been moved to a low-wage country. While there may be some cost savings, the ultimate result (over time) is less power and smaller wages for labor. This is the neoliberal dream, partially influenced by the New Left, which is less nationalist and therefore sees jobs going overseas as just fine, because those folks need work too. (The Brad DeLong position, which I oppose.)

I do not understand why self-proclaimed liberals are for free trade, high immigration (skilled or not), and think that education is the cure-all. To a degree the New Deal was a planned economy, but in a particular way. Done right, a degree of planning and control works (ask Japan, Korea, and now China). It can go overboard, but it's not too hard to tell when and follow up with reforms. The New Deal is considered a relic of an old fashioned manufacturing economy. But what applies to manufacturing can also apply to service jobs (aka knowledge jobs). The New Deal has largely been vindicated, especially in the financial realm. It's time to embrace its principles again.

CODA: Out of 50 comments at Salon, there was only one who agreed with Lind, so clearly I'm in a distinct minority. Other comments were opposed to Lind or on a totally different topic (e.g. Sarah Palin). Some commentators were upset that Lind was declaring Obama a neoliberal and therefore dissing him.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Glenn Beck: 'Cars for Clunkers' is a Government Plot to Take Over Your Computer (more)

Just checking around the blogs to see who is buying this nonsense.

  • Maggie's Notebook
  • PUMAbydesign001
  • NewsBusters "Say what you want about the Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck and his antics, but to give credit where credit is due, he exposed some disturbing language from the Obama administration's "Cash for Clunker" program Web site"
  • Frugal Café
  • Atlas Shrugs "... knowing all that we know about the left and their radical president - this is a powerful tool in their war on the American people and their politics of personal destruction. ... Do not hit OK if you do choose to use the site. DO NOT."
Outraged:What makes this story interesting is, how far can Fox go with this Beck dude without getting pilloried for using a "news" channel to disseminate this kind of nonsense?

Right now, Fox News Channel is a cable version of the Weekly World News (of bat boy fame). Fox commentators like Beck are hardly different from the ravings of (deliberately over-the-top) Ed Anger.

I guess when you're paranoid (or want to use paranoia for political ends) the sky's the limit.


Obama's Kenyan birth certificate found!

Kudos to Orly Taitz for finding this document. This will keep the issue alive for months, to the advantage of Republicans.

AND IT'S NOT OVER: World Net Daily, which published the above story, ends with this:
WND has reported that among the documentation not yet available for Obama includes his kindergarten records, his Punahou school records, his Occidental College records, his Columbia University records, his Columbia thesis, his Harvard Law School records, his Harvard Law Review articles, his scholarly articles from the University of Chicago, his passport, his medical records, his files from his years as an Illinois state senator, his Illinois State Bar Association records, any baptism records, and his adoption records.
What will Obama's kindergarten records reveal? Probably a lot of damning info, which explains why Obama is desperately trying to keep them from the public eye.


EARTHSHAKING: Has David Broder given up on bipartisanship?

From his WaPo OpEd: (emp add)
... all recent polls show Democrats with greater credibility on health issues than Republicans, these findings suggest that it is still possible for Obama and his supporters to halt the erosion and win the battle of public opinion -- if they can get people to understand what is being proposed.

They plainly will get no help from the Republicans, who for the most part seem to be following Bill Kristol's urgings to just "kill it," or from the interest groups financing the ads that warn about "government control of your health care."


Saturday, August 01, 2009

What if John Stossel gave a misleading report on Canadian health care and nobody cared?

That appears to be the case. Other than a few notices at some conservative blogs, there's not much reaction.

A typical review:
During the six-minute, 20-second segment, Stossel informed viewers of the long waits patients must endure in countries with government-run health systems – like Canada and Britain. He recounted that some patients – including world leaders and wealthy celebrities – come to America for treatment of serious conditions ...
That's like saying that in the 1960's, because the rich and powerful were buying Rolls Royce sedans, England's automobile industry was doing just fine.


This is wrong:

Republican governor signs bill introduced by a Democrat:
Hawaii residents now taxed on Vegas winnings even if they lose
Under new law, state will tax all winnings

A new bill signed into law this month by Gov. Linda Lingle has some frequent Las Vegas visitors and local CPAs scratching their heads.

Under House Bill 1495, no longer will gamblers be able to offset their winnings with their losses for Hawai'i state income tax purposes. Previously gamblers would be taxed only on their net winnings, but now they will be taxed on gross winnings.

A Hawai'i resident who wins $10,000 in a year, for example, and loses $9,000 in the same year used to be taxed only on the $1,000 in net winnings. Under the new law, that resident would be taxed on the full $10,000 in winnings.

Even if you end up a net loser, you will still be taxed on whatever you won along the way.

Dennis Kohara, a certified public accountant in Honolulu, called the law "ridiculous." (...)

The law is expected to add about $300,000 a year to Hawai'i tax revenue.

Chong, D-49th (Mauna- wili, Olomana, Enchanted Lake), introduced the measure as a way to bring in additional revenue at a time when the state is "undergoing a significant and possibly protracted economic downturn in tandem with the national and global economic and financial crises."

He said no one wanted to increase taxes, but something had to be done to address the state's budget deficit. Chong said his bill was one of numerous measures taken to address the shortfall.


The insanity continues:

Glenn Beck: allows government to takeover your computer   (h/t World Net Daily)

A 5 minute Youtube clip.

This message will go well with Repubicans, who in the ratio of 2:1, don't believe that America and Africa were once part of the same continent.


Today is clean-your-keyboard day:

So do it. Get some Q-tips (TM) and some lighter fluid and carefully clean the tops of the keys and the channels between the rows. You'll be surprised at how dirty they are.

Then show the results to your friends. They'll be impressed!