Saturday, March 27, 2010

Grayson money bomb day

By Creature

I'm in (and even more so thanks to the funny below).


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Wall Street reform

By Creature

Dodd keeps talking the talk but I'm still waiting for the walking part. Too-big-to-fail forever.

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Memo to Teabaggers

By Carl 

Moar, please?

Between the death threats, the vandalism, and the bigotry, you give me and the rest of the left wing of this nation comfort in your hour of pain.

You can spin your viciousness and terrorism anyway you want to, but the simple truth is, you're nothing but a bunch of pantywaist little girls who lost your Barbie dolls because Mommy and Daddy decided to teach you a lesson, and gave her to the nice girl down the street who has very little to begin with.

Instead of viewing this as an act of Christian kindness, you choose to view it through a lens of entitlement. Instead of accepting the consequences of running this nation into the ground by supporting a dimwit conservative who wholeheartedly embraced a conservative agenda until even that low-level moron realized how much damage he had caused this once-great and powerful nation, you choose now to have some sort of "uprising," believing your positions of entitlement in the mainstream media and in low-levels of power will protect you.


And you, my friends, are committing treason. How do we know this is treason? Osama bin Laden tells us so. If you do not stand with America, stand with this president, you stand against us.

By all means, please dehumanize people that are duly elected and legally represent citizens of this nation.

To feel superior to another group of people is to be, by definition, dehumanized. It's a relativistic notion. To the people making the threats, the other group is dehumanized by being lesser. To an outside observer, the people making the comments believe they are somehow superior to a group of "normal" people, so they have dehumanized themselves into beings differentiated by some subjective notion of being better than normal.

Now, the psychology for why this happens goes over my head, but I believe it because it has a ring of truth for me: you can't dehumanize someone else without dehumanizing yourself.

It takes a little piece of your soul to do this. Think of it in terms of war. Soldiers have to dehumanize the enemy, else they'll go fucking nuts over murdering people.

Think about that for a second: in order to actually kill someone on the other side, a soldier has to go through a process where they stifle the very human emotions of regret and fear.

You HAVE to dehumanize in order to get your point across and dehumanization is a very immature action.

You guys aren't the first, by the way. There is actually a recent precedent in American politics for the Teabaggers: the George Wallace faction.

They were perhaps the most powerful independent political force in the 20th century, even more influential than Ross Perot's gang of idiots.

They were, of course, eventually absorbed into the Republican party, but since they're already there now (basically the same people: angry white Southerners and Westerners), where could they go? They have no power on their own, so they will quietly fold up their tents and what's left of them will return to the GOP.

You folks haven't risen to the level of the Weather Underground or even the Black Panthers, two groups who were front and center during the violence of the '60s and '70s and which were roundly harassed by law enforcement officials until they were forced to discontinue their activities.

Yet. But you will, that much is clear from the overheated rhetoric and incremental violence.

Neither the WU nor the Panthers were ever so closely tied to the Democratic Party (LBJ was, after all, a Democrat), so when they went down, they went down by their lonesome. But when YOU folks go down, you'll take an entire political party with you, along with collateral damage to Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and Fox News.

This is why I take comfort in your desperation.

So, by all means, keep up the good work! We look forward to your demise and dissolution!

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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More conservative violence: Tennessee man attacks car with Obama-Biden bumper sticker

Once more, we turn to the violent consequences of conservative speech. These may be unhinged individuals to start with, but they are also internalizing what they are told by Republicans and the conservative media, growing ever more unhinged as they do so, and acting out against liberal targets identified by their masters.


As you may have heard, a Tennessee man on Thursday used his SUV to attack another car -- a car with a man and his 10-year-old daughter inside, a car with an Obama-Biden bumper sticker on the back:

A Nashville man says he and his 10-year-old daughter were victims of road rage Thursday afternoon, all because of a political bumper sticker on his car...

[Mark Duren] said Harry Weisiger gave him the bird and rammed into his vehicle, after noticing an Obama-Biden sticker on his car bumper.

Duren had just picked up his 10-year-old daughter from school and had her in the car with him.

"He pointed at the back of my car," Duren said, "the bumper, flipped me off, one finger salute."

But it didn't end there.

Duren told News 2 that Weisiger honked his horn at him for awhile, as Duren stopped at a stop sign.

Once he started driving again, down Blair Boulevard, towards his home, he said, "I looked in the rear view mirror again, and this same SUV was speeding, flying up behind me, bumped me."

Duren said he applied his brake and the SUV smashed into the back of his car.

He then put his car in park to take care of the accident, but Weisiger started pushing the car using his SUV.

Duren said, "He pushed my car up towards the sidewalk, almost onto the sidewalk."

Police say Harry Weisiger is charged with felony reckless endangerment in the incident.

Responding to the attacks on Democratic offices around the country, as well as the threats against Democrats and their families, I addressed this development in a post on Wednesday (also posted at HuffPo). As I put it then:

[W]hat do you think is going to happen when you call the president illegitimate, a foreigner who essentially stole the election? Or when you stoke fears of a socialist-fascist takeover of government and of government assault on freedom? Do you not think that some out there will convert your speech to action -- hording guns, building bunkers, and otherwise preparing for violence? And do you not think that some will actually take to the streets to wage whatever war they think you're calling on them to wage?

At C&L, responding to the Tennessee story, Logan Murphy gets to the heart of the matter:

As hate radio, corporate right wing media and GOP politicians ramp up the violent rhetoric against Democrats, the nutjobs who follow them like zombies are becoming more and more unhinged and posing a threat to society...

I don't think it's a matter of if, but when, one of these nutjobs are going to seriously injure or kill a Democratic politician or citizen. Apparently, that's what it will take before we see some form of crackdown on the violent propaganda being thrown around by Republican politicians and their media outlets.

Don't just let these unhinged individuals be scapegoats. Trace their actions back to their source, which is with those who are creating a culture of violence and hate on the right, within the Republican Party and throughout the conservative movement generally.

This wacko certainly deserves to be punished to the full extent of "felony reckless endangerment." But he and those like him -- and there seem to be more and more like him -- do not act alone in some personal vacuum. They are puppets, in a way, and those moving them must be held accountable.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

See Spot run ... See Spot eat a police car

This is truly bizzaro world material.

A dog in Chattanooga, Tennessee, literally chews the bumper off a police car!

Winston ripped the front bumper of the vehicle loose and destroyed the tires. The officer said he was running radar on Workman Road on March 14th when the canine emerged from behind a chain-linked fence and "locked in" on the car.


Thursday afternoon, Winston was released back to his owners in the lobby of the McKamey Animal Center. Hamilton County Judge Sherry Paty ordered Emerling take several steps to prevent a similar incident from happening again. Emerling must secure his fence and take Winston to obedience classes. The case will be passed for six months and if there are no other incidents, Winston's case will be dismissed. He must also wear a tag labeling him as a 'potentially dangerous dog.' The owners must also pay McKamey for the costs of his care.

So much for "That Doggie In The Window," the one with the waggly tail.

We may have to correct ourselves.

Previously, we advocated that bears should be drafted and sent over to Iraq and Afghanistan.

We can throw that plan out.

Send this dog!

Bonus Bonus Riffs

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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e unibus plurum

First they Ignore you
Then they Ridicule you
Then they Fight you
Then you win.

- Gandhi -

So we're just wrong, wrong, wrong, says the snarky troll; wrong to blame the ugly thing that the GOP has metamorphosed into for the ugly things it says and does. After all, some prominent Liberal pundits like the Unabomer actually killed people, even though he wasn't liberal or a Democrat, but a schizophrenic conservative Luddite and therefore the deranged dogs of the GOP can't be blamed for things like humiliating cripples in the street, throwing bricks through local Democratic Party Headquarters windows, mailing condoms, gasoline soaked shredded American flags killing doctors and making hideous, disgusting comments about killing the families of Democrats.

Can't blame them for planning armed demonstrations and in some cases calling for the Armed overthrow of a duly elected American government. It's not their fault. They can't be blamed for the hate campaign that ended in the blowing up of the Murrah building because some "hippies" blew some stuff up 40 years ago after all and that lets them off the hook. It's not their fault. They have no choice but to resort to thuggery and intimidation when elections don't go their way.

We attempted to keep the corporate overlords from screwing the sick and we lowered the average guy's taxes with no regard for the hardship it causes Bill Gates and Warren Buffet! It's almost treason. No, it's not their fault we're nearly as divided as we were in 1861, it's the Liberals who, after all, criticized George Bush without any cause. It's only fair since Bush lost the popular vote and only won by highly questionable court interference that they should try to hound duly elected Obama out of office for being an illegitimate foreign usurper who pals around with terrorists and murdered his grandmother and plans to murder yours and to outlaw Christianity and Capitalism. Tit for tat, truth justifies lies, and you can't say Republicans are to blame. Some bad people have been Democrats, you know.

And it's the same story it was in 1861, the same question. Does the Federal Government have the right to interfere when the States deny civil rights, guaranteed or implied? Does the Federal Government have the right to free your slaves, let your wife vote, make you let minorities into your waiting room, use your drinking fountain, go to your schools? Above all lurks the question: does the Federal Government have the right to assess the general public or to regulate corporations and markets and securities and food and education to improve and maintain liberty and justice for all? The Southern answer was no and the Republican answer is no and no to the point where the current spokesman for the new Rebels tells you to quit any church that talks about social justice and Jesus be damned.

Behind that Constitutional casuistry, the religious double-think, the tenebrous cloud of irrational rage and vicious vituperation, it all comes down to that -- and to think that 600,000 men died to settle it while people get disgustingly rich and powerful bringing it all back.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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If Gore had won Kentucky. . .

By Capt. Fogg

That Al Gore lost the state of Kentucky in the 2000 Presidential election was a bit of a surprise to some of us. Polls had him up as much as 8%, but of course he lost that state and his loss was accompanied by jeers, of course. Republicans love to hate Al Gore although some have since begun to love Lieberman. They'd also love to forget all the accusations of voter fraud and the way they excoriated all who were suspicious that those voting machines with no means to check whether they had been hacked or not might have in fact, been tampered with in several states. Sore losers, we were called by the smug victors who currently are losers sore enough to the point of threatening us all with violence and insurrection.

In a country with a memory, the mockery might haunt Republicans, but of course they live in the moment and reality is created anew every day to suit each day's requirements. The conviction of a former judge and seven others on Thursday gives renewed strength to the argument that the electoral victory in 2000 and perhaps the Bush-Kerry contest were influenced or decided by corrupt Republicans. former Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle and former school Superintendent Douglas C. Adams along with five others were convicted of a federal racketeering conspiracy and several of them of other charges, including mail fraud, extortion and laundering the money that was used to buy votes.

Some of the juries are still out but the mockery, the Liberal bashing, the accusations of treason are sounding more and more off key as we move forward from the 8 year reign of the Right and we have to speculate on what might have been, for better or for worse, if the corrupt and unscrupulous, with all the lip service paid to freedom, had had respect for the law and tolerance of Democracy.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Personal income drops in 2009

By Creature

Will the Bush hangover ever end.

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The end of DADT? Apparently not. Yet.

Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent reports what, at first glance, seems to be promising news:

In a major victory for opponents of the military's ban on open homosexual service, Defense Secretary Robert Gates significantly revised how the Pentagon will implement the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, effectively making it difficult to remove a soldier, sailor, airman or marine who does not out himself or herself as gay.

Gates said the changes, endorsed by Joint Chiefs of Staff and vetted by the Pentagon's top lawyer, would add "a greater measure of common sense and common decency" for service members negatively impacted by the law.

It's a start, perhaps, but it's not nearly good enough. After all, the new policy does not effectively end DADT. While it places serious restrictions on the process, servicemen and -women can still be discharged for being gay.

As Keori explains at Pam Spaulding's place, "this is a compromise intended to shut down forward movement on repeal of the ban on LGBT servicemembers. We did this dance in 1993, and based on the actions we've seen recently from the White House, I don't believe for one second that there is any real impetus to repeal the ban.

But we'll see.

At HuffPo, Nathaniel Frank is more optimistic:

In announcing today that it would make it harder to fire gay troops under existing policy, the Pentagon took a major step towards ending DADT. While the President and Pentagon could have gone further, for instance by halting all discharges by executive order or allowing only two-star generals to initiate a discharge (instead the level was set at one-star), the policy is also a federal law, and so the Pentagon is ultimately limited in what it can do to relax the ban.

Today's news marks an admirable first step which could have a real impact on the lives of service members, while leaving much work to be done to ensure full repeal. Most important, the revisions under what's being called the "Obama Rule" are a recognition by the military that openly gay service does not disrupt the force. The military would not have agreed to soften the gay ban (just as it did not agree in 1993) if its leadership truly believed it would harm readiness -- and Secretary Gates said today that the new regulations were created with the "unanimous" support of all the Service Chiefs, even though some have been grumbling about repeal.

It's time, long past time, for Obama and the Democrats to do what needs to be done to put a formal end to this bigotry.

Repeal DADT. For good.

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Bruce Bartlett, David Frum, and the closing of the conservative mind

Bruce Bartlett has had a long career in Republican politics. He worked for Ron Paul and Jack Kemp. He was a fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He was a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House, working for Gary Bauer, later a Treasury official under Bush I. He worked at the Cato Institute.

Starting in 1993, he was with the right-wing National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas... until it fired him for being too critical of Bush II. As he puts it himself, he was fired "for writing a book critical of George W. Bush's policies, especially his support for Medicare Part D." And that, it seems, was it. The scarlet letter was applied. "In the years since," he laments, "I have lost a great many friends and been shunned by conservative society in Washington, DC."

All because he broke ranks and spoke out, putting principle before partisanship. No matter his long record, an entire career, of committed conservatism.

In related news, David Frum, the former Bush II speechwriter who has been deeply critical of the GOP over health-care reform and other issues, and the right-wing American Enterprise Institute (AEI) have parted ways. Was he fired? He claims not, and he very well may not have been, but Bartlett, responding to the news, and taking it for granted that Frum was fired, launched a sound criticism of the current state of American conservatism:

I have always hoped that my experience was unique. But now I see that I was just the first to suffer from a closing of the conservative mind. Rigid conformity is being enforced, no dissent is allowed, and the conservative brain will slowly shrivel into dementia if it hasn't already.


I wanted to say that this is a black day for what passes for a conservative movement, scholarship, and the once-respected AEI.

Even if Frum wasn't fired, even if the parting of ways was mutual, or perhaps a cost-cutting measure (Frum claims that he was invited to stay at the AEI on a "non-salary basis"), Bartlett, I think, is right. Conservatism these days is about either a) blind loyalty to the Republican Party, b) anti-government teabagging extremism, or c) theocracy -- or d) some contorted combination of the above.

What's more, both the Republican Party and the conservative movement, to the extent there is one anymore, are about purging and purifying, with dissenters, even conservative ones like Bartlett, even the occasionally bipartisan likes of Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, ignored, alienated, or excommunicated. Simply put, in Dear Leader Rush's party, in a movement dominated by the Hannitys and the Malkins, all that is acceptable is the narrow ideological fringe of the increasingly extreme right.


The title of this post refers back to the title of Bartlett's post at Capital Gains and Games, which, of course, refers back to the title of Allan Bloom's famous book, The Closing of the American Mind. Bloom, as you may know, was a Straussian, a follower of Leo Strauss, and I, who studied at the University of Toronto with two of Bloom's leading students, am also one.

Yes, I remain one now, despite my liberalism and objections to neoconservatism (which, through Bill Kristol and others, is linked to Straussianism), and I still think there is a great deal to like about Strauss, an amazing political philosopher in his own right, and his immediate followers, including Bloom (who taught at Chicago and Toronto), whose translation and textual analysis of Plato's Republic are simply magnificent, as is so much else of what he did academically.

There is also a lot to like about The Closing of the American Mind, which tells some difficult truth about the intellectual decline of America as a modern liberal state. Anyone who pays attention to contemporary popular culture with a critical mind, even a generally open-minded liberal who welcomes new things and finds Bloom's occasionally reactionary conservatism distasteful, should agree that all is not well with the American mind. The decline of standards not just of excellence but even of goodness is all too apparent. Liberals like me argue that the benefits of progressive politics and an opening society far outweigh this decline in terms of importance -- I hardly think that returning to the narrow, oppressive elitism of the past, a bigoted world ruled by privileged white men, is desirable -- but we should nonetheless be seriously concerned about what has happened, and is happening, not just in America but in liberal democracies everywhere.

For more on Strauss, and on the possibility of reconciling Strauss and liberalism, see a pair of posts I wrote at my place way back in April-May 2005:

I would add here that Allan Bloom himself was a lifelong Democrat -- unlike most Straussians, who tend to be Republican and generally on the political right. I hope that he, of sound and acute mind, would have objected to what is happening in the Republican Party and in American conservatism generally.

The American mind may very well still be closing, in a cultural way, despite the incredible advances of recent years (such as the growing recognition of gay rights, a greater appreciation for human rights, despite the barbarism of the George W. Bush administration, and the election of a black man to the presidency), but the conservative mind, now decaying, seems to have been shut down altogether, the Great Purge, of which both Bartlett and Frum have been victims, showing no signs of abating anytime soon.

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Rove just not into Cheney

By Creature

Rove reveals he wasn't too keen on Cheney being VP. Now he tells us. For once I wish GWB listened to his brain.

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Reconciliation bill passes Congress, heads to Obama for signature

Following up on Creature's post from earlier, both the Senate and House passed the reconciliation bill yesterday, a bill that includes both health-care and student-loan reform.

-- The vote in the Senate was 56-43. Three Democrats -- Blanche Lincoln (AR), Ben Nelson (NE), and Mark Pryor (AR) -- joined the Republicans (minus Johnny Isakson (GA), who was sick and didn't vote) in opposing the bill. Yes, even Joe Lieberman voted for it.

-- The vote in the House was 220-207.

Republicans opposed the bill unanimously in both houses. More specifically, Republicans unanimously opposed what is largely a moderate Republican bill unanimously in both houses. That tells you pretty much all you need to know about the current state of the Republican Party.


Meanwhile, even Politico seemed to move past the Republican spin in reporting on this historic accomplishment:

Congress completed its work Thursday night on the broadest social legislation in almost a half-century, as the House capped the year-long legislative saga over health reform by signing off on a package of fixes to the newly minted law.


The votes deliver twin victories to President Barack Obama, the health-care overhaul on which he staked the first year of his presidency and a lesser-noticed provision that would carry out a major restructuring of the student loan industry.

"The benefits for Americans start right now," said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, who also cited changes to the student loan system that Democrats included in the health reform clean-up bill. "That's the road to prosperity. That's the road to freedom for America's families."

No, this likely won't be the Beltway media narrative going forward, not with the media happy to regurgitate Republican talking points, but this is just the sort of positive story, with positive consequences for Americans, that Democrats need to stress, use as momentum for further reform efforts this year, and run on in November.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010


By Creature

Okay, I broke down and set up an account. I figured my posts are pretty much Twitter-size at this point so why the heck not. Follow me me at: Creature_NYC.


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By Creature

"This thing's almost done, folks." -- Ezra Klein, reacting to the news that the HCR reconciliation bill is out of the Senate and on its way back to the House.

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Everybody take a breath

By Edward Copeland

What in the world is wrong with us? As the threatening instances linked to tea party activists and health care opponents seem to accumulate, I find myself scratching my head in disbelief. I guess I shouldn't. Back during the election, at Palin rallies where she egged on participants by suggesting that Barack Obama "palled around with domestic terrorists" she'd be greeted with shouts of "kill him." When John McCain actually stood up to the paranoids at one of his campaign events who expressed fright at the prospect of an Obama presidency or repeated the idea that he wasn't born in the United States, his own supporters actually booed him.

Since that time, there have been attacks on law enforcement officials, the murder of people by a man who said he killed them because he couldn't get to those named as threats to America in Bernard Goldberg's book, the assassination of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller by someone who supposedly is "pro-life" and the murder of a guard at the Holocaust Museum by an old hatemonger who was found to have birther literature in his car. Does anyone really believe these people are overreacting because of a law that stops discrimination against people with preexisting conditions? Are people being pushed to extremes because they are so outraged of the idea that parents will be able to keep their children on their health insurance plans until they are 26? PolitiFact has begun debunking an insane chain e-mail making the rounds chock full of lies about what opponents want people to believe is in the health care bill.

House Republican Minority Whip Eric Cantor did have a bit of a point when he mentioned that he'd had threats and incidents against him, but he didn't publicize them. It is always something to think about. The Secret Service doesn't issue a press release every time there is a threat made against a president. When a company receives a bomb threat, there always is a debate about whether or not to report it for fear it will only spawn more. The same goes with foiled terrorist plots. Still, he's being disingenuous if he doesn't think the Republicans haven't fanned the flames of lunacy by not speaking more forcefully against the threats and language of violence before.

It's not that those on the left have never gone overboard either. For too many years now, the losing side of a presidential election have been unable to treat the winner as legitimate and they must. That's the way our democracy works. Elections have consequences. Some members of the tea party are doing the right thing. Republicans they don't like they are challenging in primaries. That's what you are supposed to do. Some labor unions are upset about the way some members of Congress switched their votes around on the health care bill. Are they throwing bricks through windows or leaving threatening voicemails? No, they are trying to find challengers to the specific candidates in their primaries. This is what we are supposed to do.

Everyone needs to relax. If you disagree with what your elected representatives have done, vote against them when the time comes. If they still win, that's the breaks. I live in a state where my U.S. senators are Tom Coburn and James Inhofe. Want to talk about taxation without representation? Still, as much as I despise these men and as often as I've voted against them to no avail, I've never threatened them, cut gas lines to their homes or tosses bricks through their offices. Everyone, no matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, need to act like that. If you cannot and you still feel the urge to react violently, you owe to yourself and everyone around you to turn yourself in to the nearest mental health facility and get the help you so desperately need.

While I have leaned toward the left for a long time, I vote Democratic because it's my only option and it saddens me. I wish that somehow the Republicans could right their ship so that in an ideal world I'd actually have a choice between two candidates when I vote (in a really ideal world, there would be more than two choices). It's disheartening that one party has thrown itself so completely in bed with extremists, excommunicating its own moderates, so that they aren't a choice for me and I'm left with a party I mostly agree with but which is very often less than perfect. If only we had a true democracy, with real choices and real candidates, lost the craziness and brought back civility to debates about issues.

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Assforwards, for Mark Halperin

By J. Thomas Duffy

It's a wonder that Time Magazine's Mark Halperin doesn't have, permanently, the imprint of ass on his face, for his obsequious kissing (and, often, at times, firmly planted up) the PartyofNoican's behinds.

He whines, incessantly, about Obama, and the Democrats, apparently, their existence so disrupts his reality-free airspace.

He all but inserted him himself as Stumblin' Bumblin' John McCain's campaign manager, offering "Things McCain Can Do to Try to Beat Obama" include attacks on his race and name", and, as we wrote, back in August 2008, he was so over-the-top that "About the only thing missing for Time Magazine's Mark Halperin, during his appearance yesterday on 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos', was having "McCain 08" tattooed on his forehead, and the Dead Campaign Express bus parked on set, behind him."

After the losing campaign, Assboy Halperin blamed the media, for being Pro-Obama, his shrieking on it moved Bob Cesca to immediately nominate him as a "Hackery Hall of Fame Inductee".

Then he writes a book about the campaign, with John Heilemann ('Game Change'), which Glenn Greenwald noted;

"This reaction has nicely illuminated what our press corps is. The book is little more than royal court gossip, churned out by the leading practitioner of painfully sycophantic, Drudge-mimicking cattiness: Time's Mark Halperin ..."


The real value of a book like this lies in the opportunity it presents for Washington's elite class to distract themselves and everyone else from the oozing corruption, destruction, decaying and pillaging going on -- that these same Washington denizens have long enabled. With some important exceptions, that is the primary purpose of establishment journalism generally. Even better, the book lets our media and political elite -- and then the public generally -- feel good about themselves by morally condemning the trashy exploits of Rielle Hunter and the egoistic hypocrisies of the irrelevant John and Elizabeth Edwards.

As The Nation's Chris Hayes so perfectly put it: "Just when you think the news cycle can't get any stupider, Mark Halperin publishes a book."

So, naturally, Assboy Halperin gets the A-List treatment as to bookings in the Cable Newsarama

Yesterday, with Tweety, Halperin was matched up with Salon Editor, Joan Walsh (Yeah, I know, with that stirring duo, advantage Walsh, right off the bat);

Mark Halperin: Obama must still chase GOP support

Halperin disagreed. "The biggest story in politics right now is the White House calculation, do they do things substantively and politically, to try to build bipartisan cooperation, or do they do, as Joan was suggesting, learn that they can ram things through on education, on economic development." Then things got strange; from my point of view, Halperin was describing Opposite Day reality: "They could make the choice -- rewriting the choice they made at the beginning of the administration, when they went another way, they went with an all Democratic solution -- to go for Republicans, and I think they will."


Then Halperin asked me directly: "Would you like to see [Obama] work with Republicans -- on education, financial reform, on economic development -- or not?"

"You know what, Mark?" I answered. "Actually? 'Not.' Not for the sake of just working with Republicans." I explained how Obama worked hard to craft a bipartisan stimulus bill that was smaller than many Democrats wanted, and that was low on funding for infrastructure building programs as well as support for cities and states that were shedding cops, firefighters and teachers at the same time the stimulus money was coming down. Keeping people employed is an excellent unemployment program, I noted, but thanks to the president's efforts to win Republican votes, the Obama stimulus was too small to do more than a little of that.

Now, Mark, in the case that your computer is down, and your television has been on the fritz, it's been out there, for some time, that the PartyofNoicans, openly, have stated they will be obstructionists, that they will diss anything coming from Obama, and the Democrats.

I mean, that, just exhaustively, played out the past few months, with the Healthcare Reform bill.

Even that old ass you sucked for so long, Stumblin' Bumblin' John McCain has said not to expect GOP cooperation on legislation for the rest of this year.

So really, step back out into reality, or get some professional help.

We don't want to see the day, where the bosses at Time have to hire someone to walk around with you, shadow you with a crowbar, to pry your face out of the PartyofNoican asses.

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Land of the prison, home of the coward

By Capt. Fogg

Yes, our personal freedom has been irrevocably damaged by a weak attempt to control swashbuckling Insurance company practices and there's nothing ahead but free fall into the pit of Socialism - or Fascism if your paranoia runs better in that direction. I can't get through an hour without hearing the whining about "Obamacare" and "American values."

Of course there's little fear that the attempt to make it legal for a suspect to be held forever without trial will jeopardize our "freedom" at all. There's not too much concern that proof of innocence can't overturn a death sentence either. Freedom you see, is a personal, even solipsistic thing and like personal income, we Libertarians don't want to share it or spread it around. I need to be free to do anything, free from any responsibility to the country, but you can rot in hell, for all I care. Some call that Libertarian, some conservative, but either attempt is like pasting a label to Teflon - it won't stick. What it really is, is panic and what it's really not is justice. Yes, I know, if your one of those Glennbecky sorts, you'll insist that justice itself is one of many gates to hell and the corridor to Communism, but if you're one of those, you belong there anyway.

But here's an example or two: Senator Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Senate's Armed Services, Homeland Security and Judiciary committees, wants to talk us into legislation that allows a "terrorism suspect" to be held forever without charges and without counsel. That's right, I said suspect. What's a suspect? it's whatever some justice department apparatchik or some informant or unnamed source says it is.
“There has to be some type of statute -- and he’s been clear on that -- for indefinite detention,” said Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop. An accused person is "too dangerous to release; but we also aren’t going to try them in either a military or a civilian court. So there has to be a system for that, and that’s why Senator Graham is looking for a legal framework."

Too bad there's no longer any framework to determine whether someone is actually dangerous, is a terrorist or even what terrorism is under such legislation, but never mind -- the government just knows and we're comfortable with that. Limited justice and limited freedom you see, is limited government.

And that doesn't scare you; not like filling out a census form, not like keeping your insurance from being canceled the day after they find that tumor because you had an unreported toothache in 1972. None the less, we want limited government, but only as concerns us, not them. A life sentence for suspicion is
"un-American and violates our commitment to due process and the rule of law,"

says the ACLU, as you'd expect from those Commies. Don't they understand we're afraid? Don't they understand that American values aren't worth taking a risk for?

They aren't worth taking a risk for in Texas; just ask Troy Davis, sentenced to die for a brutal triple murder in a trial so flawed it makes my hair stand on end. One of the victims, for instance, had complained of abuse and threats from a third party, who was not even interviewed by police. Ten years ago David Protess, at The Innocence Project at Northwestern University, whose group has exonerated 17 condemned prisoners using DNA evidence the court never saw, re-examined the case with his students and concluded Skinner is innocent. Texas won't reconsider a conviction based on new evidence. In Texas, innocence is no defense and Texas, for all it's guns and bravado is so terrified of Davis that they're willing to kill him and the hell with reasonable doubt. Fortunately, the Supreme court isn't from Texas and has granted a stay, just an hour before the execution

Sure, we want limited government, but with unlimited power to do whatever feels expedient and damn the very idea of social justice and screw anyone who ever thought the USA was worth fighting for. Don't you understand we're afraid?

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Is one more "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" study really needed?

Guest post by Robert W.P. Wolfe 

A combat-tested strategic airlift pilot, Robert is a former major in the United States Air Force, serving as the Chief of Future Operations for the Director of Mobility Forces on his last deployment in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He is currently a Robert F. Toigo fellow and a Morgan Stanley MBA fellow at Harvard Business School, as well as a Truman National Security Project fellow.

This is his first guest post at The Reaction.


On March 3, 2010, General Carter Ham briefed Congress on the latest study regarding the DOD-s 17-year-old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy (DADT). Conservative pundits have already complained that the study will be biased and the left vowed not to wait for the results that are due out the first week in December 2010. So, one has to wonder... why have another study? Is one more study needed, really?

To help answer this question, I turned to a brand new book published from within the Pentagon's walls by the Air University Press, Attitudes Aren’t Free: Thinking Deeply about Diversity in the US Armed Forces. This visionary collection of reports, speeches and articles by Lt. Col. James Parco and Dr. Dave Levy, covers the gamut of divisive issues facing today's military, provides sage advice for policy makers, and will set the tone of the debate for years to come.

Perhaps the most controversial pages fall within Section II: Homosexuality. The two most telling excerpts from this section are the "Report of the General/Flag Officers' Study Group" and the now famous, "Flag & General Officers for the Military: Statement to President Barack Obama and Members of Congress," which was signed by 1,163 retired Flag and General Officers. These two pieces highlight the stark difference between emotion and research.

The first reading is a formal study structured much like a military investigation board. The "Report" recommends repealing DADT based on ten important findings that highlight the negative consequences and ineffectiveness of DADT. This article equips the reader with the strength of common sense understanding and information; thus, the reader is unmoved by the "Statement" and its desired visceral reaction of seeing over 1,000 signatures from retired senior military officers who are ardently opposed to repealing DADT. Should we expect the "old guard" to jump on board with the rising tide of change?

Well, no. If you consider that the average age of the signatories was 74 (the oldest was 98 and at least one was actually dead at the time of signing), certainly not. On average, these Flag & General Officers were 56 years older than our youngest troops serving today. We should thank these officers for their years of dedicated service to our great nation, and we should recognize that these retirees understandably share the same opinions held by their civilian counterparts.

Luckily though, history reminds us that the U.S. military has always pushed the leading edge on equality, diversity, and integration. Even so, there have always been the naysayers, yelling that change would hinder unit morale, hurt recruiting and diminish combat effectiveness. Yet, those leaders who fought for inclusion over exclusion are still hailed as the visionaries of their time. As with ending segregation or integrating women, repealing DADT won't come without growing pains.

To quote Attitudes Aren't Free:

In 1948, President Truman decisively ended racial segregation in the military by executive order. Although racial equality was achieved with the stroke of a pen, the integration of women across the roles of military service proved to be more complicated and continued to lag for several more decades. Despite being one of the most hotly contested social issues in 20th Century, Congress eventually took the lead in the mid-1970s integrating women through appointments to military academies. Still, it would be two decades before women received equal opportunity in select combat roles. (p. ix)

As a former Air Force pilot, I am proud of the Air Force's tradition of leadership on equality. While supporting the 3rd Infantry Division's assault on Baghdad in 2003, one of my classmates from pilot training earned the Distinguished Flying Cross after a surface-to-air missile shredded her A-10. A different pilot might have bailed out, but not her. She finished the mission and somehow limped her plane home. Her heroics in combat saved the lives of our Army brethren. The Tuskegee Airmen proved their combat mettle during WWII, just as female pilots prove themselves in combat everyday in the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan.

While we debate DADT, homosexuals serve in uniform and fight with the same voracity as their straight counterparts. Some offer the ultimate sacrifice for our great nation while hiding who they truly are inside. Would we be any safer if women and minorities hadn't fully integrated into the Armed Forces? Do we honestly need another study on the outdated DADP? Did we need more studies before African-Americans and women were fully integrated? I think not... but don't take my word for it. Take a moment to ask an Iraq War veteran who was saved by a "girl" in an A-10 or ask a WWII bomber crewmember who flew quietly and safely under the umbrella provided by the Tuskegee Airmen. I think they would agree.

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Shut up, Chuck Grassley

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has long been a vocal critic of the Democrat's health reform efforts, but today he started taking credit for some provisions of the bill, and talking up his own role in crafting the legislation.

You had your chance, Senator, and you chose partisan obstructionism over bipartisan compromise, like every other Republican on Capitol Hill:

Grassley has been among the most vocal opponents of Democratic reform over the past year, but he's also known as one of the biggest flip-floppers on the issue.

At the start of the process, Grassley was expected to be among those Senators working to craft a bipartisan bill. But it wasn't long before he abandoned that effort, and helped to start the "death panel" meme heard at town halls across the country throughout last summer.

And you have zero credibility.


For more on Grassley and health-care reform, see:

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Bush's brain

By Creature

Karl Rove thinks the GOP's "repeal, replace and reform" strategy is an election winner. Karl Rove needs to have the same epiphany Wolf Blitzer had yesterday. Preaching to the same, vocal 38% who are against HCR will only get you the same, vocal 38% come November. Not that I'm complaining.

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Quote of the Day: Patrick Kennedy, to Ted Kennedy, on health-care reform

Rep. Kennedy (D-R.I.) left a note at his father's gravesite on Monday. It read:

Dad -- The unfinished business is done.

Not to take away from the sentiment, which I tend to share (and I do wish Teddy had been around for this), but the business isn't done yet. There's a whole lot more to be done, beyond reconciliation in the Senate, and hopefully that more will come in the months and years to come, as improvements to this reform package are made. (Public option, anyone?)

Also, as Jonathan Chait wrote:

Obama's plan closely mirrors three proposals that have attracted the support of Republicans who reside within their party's mainstream: The first is the 1993 Senate Republican health plan, which is compared with Obama's plan here, with the similarity endorsed by former Republican Senator Dave Durenberger here. The second is the Bipartisan Policy Center plan, endorsed by Bob Dole, Howard baker, George Mitchell and Tom Daschle, which is compared to Obama's plan here. And the third, of course, is Mitt Romney's Massachusetts plan, which was crafted by the same economist who helped create Obama's plan, and which is rhetorically indistinguishable from Obama's.

In other words, it's a largely Republican plan -- if Republican of yesterday, not today. Republicans objected to it for partisan purposes but also because they themselves have moved far to the right in recent years. How odd it is that what is seen as a Democratic triumph is actually, in many ways, non-Democratic. But just as the Republican Party has moved to the right, so has the center generally, with media narratives following the GOP lead. It's a shame that Obama didn't push for inclusion of a public option, but it's a good start nonetheless, and it may very well be the best that could have been achieved at the present time, all things considered.

But a triumph it is, I think, and a historic one, and it's one I'll happily take. (For now.)


Jonathan Cohn provides some historical context, linking the bill back to Truman and Johnson:

The compromises that went into this legislation are, by now, well-known. It won't be fully effective for several years and, even then, several million people will likely lack health insurance. People won't have the option of enrolling in a new public plan; the private plans many carry will still have substantial deductibles. Government accounts predict the plan will reduce the rate of growth in medical spending only modestly. The full realization of Harry Truman's dream, of affordable health insurance for every American, will remain elusive.

But, like Medicare, this bill represents a monumental step forward. The numbers are impossible to ignore. More than 30 million additional people will have insurance; even those with sizable deductibles will have protection from the kind of ruinous financial liabilities they face now. There is no public plan -- for now! -- but there is extensive regulation, including requirements that insurers spend more money on actual patient care. What we spend on medical care isn’t going to plummet. But it won't rise as fast as it might otherwise. And, over the long run, that can save a lot of money -- particularly if we are smart enough to learn and adapt as we go.

And, as with Medicare, this bill is every bit as important for the statement it makes. Medicare affirms the principle that the elderly have a right to affordable medical care, even if it requires government help. Medicaid does the same for the poor. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act extends the promise of affordable care to the rest of the country -- a promise that will be fulfilled, one way or another, by the government.

It will not happen today, tomorrow, or even in 2014, the first year of full implementation. And you can expect plenty of problems along the way. But history tells us that first we we agree to an obligation -- and then we spend some time, maybe a long time, meeting it. Medicare grew to cover more and more benefits; Medicaid grew to cover more and more people. The same will happen with this act, I am sure.

In the meantime, life will get a little better for most people and a lot better for a few. The sick will get some care. The fearful will know some serenity.

And somewhere LBJ will be smiling. Harry Truman, too.

And surely also Ted Kennedy.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Did Bush wipe his hand on Clinton's shirt in Haiti?

Watch the video below. At one point, after shaking hands with some Haitians, Bush appears to wipe his hand on Clinton's shirt.

TP: "Bush has a well-known aversion to germs -- and a tendency to use other people's clothing to clean himself off. He infamously used a woman's shirt to wipe off his glasses and reportedly had an aide give him "a big dollop of hand sanitizer" after shaking hands with Barack Obama.

I suppose it's not a big deal, unless there's more to it (like, say, a racial thing), but it's certainly rather odd.

UPDATE: At The Guardian, Richard Adams suggests that the video might be misleading: "The video clip... appears to have been selectively slowed at the point that Bush touches Clinton's shoulder, making his gesture seem worse than it was. In the full-speed BBC version – available here – Bush is seen tapping Clinton on the shoulder twice and then plucking at his sleeve. Clinton is notoriously unpunctual and an enthusiastic glad-hander, whereas Bush is known for keeping to a tight schedule. So it's just as likely that Bush was encouraging Clinton to hurry up."

Yes, perhaps.

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Hey boss, I won't be in today, I've got PHCFS

By J. Thomas Duffy

If we had a pile of money, we'd throw this out as a contest, the first verifiable usage of an excuse not to go to work, due to having "Post-Health-Care-Fatigue Syndrome."

David Corn has catapulted PHCFS into the lexicon today with this post:

Will Post-Health-Care-Fatigue Syndrome Thwart GOP Plans?

There is a palpable sense in Washington that this battle over health care reform has nearly broken the town. Legislators and their staff aides, the president and his people, reporters and pundits, political strategists and advocates -- they've all been consumed by this fight for nearly a year and they're experiencing Post-Health-Care-Fatigue Syndrome (PHCFS). After all, this long-running drama followed months of political and policy intensity: the economic collapse, the subsequent bailouts, the start of the Obama administration. Moreover, that stretch came after a titanic and tiring presidential campaign, with competitive primaries and multiple candidates on each side, that lasted for almost two years. Obama and his crew have basically been going non-stop for three years, and on some days at the White House, it really does show. 

Go read the post.

We're almost going to be gridlocked, too exhausted to get anything meaningful done for the rest of the year.

And Corn pegs the PartyofNoicans the bigger loser of PHCFS.

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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What health-care reform will mean to you

I received this yesterday from the good people at the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

Wherever you are in the U.S., I recommend checking it out to learn what health-care reform will mean to you.


The Benefits of Health Reform (State-by-State Reports)
March 22, 2010
Together, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act will ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office has determined that these two bills are fully paid for, will bend the health care cost curve, and will reduce the deficit by $143 billion over the next ten years with further deficit reduction in the following decade. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act will reduce the cost of health care for the middle class, ensure health security to seniors, and provide tax credits to small businesses and individuals to further reduce the cost of health coverage. To learn about the benefits of health reform in your state, please click below.


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