Sunday, March 28, 2010


These people lining up for medical care in Los Angeles don't exist in the Republican non-reality based universe.

I have friends who are Republicans and who are also educated and intelligent (some even have advanced degrees). Somehow they manage to get up in the morning, shower, shave, get dressed, eat breakfast, drive a car, go to work, function at their jobs, and raise their families. Yet when it comes to evaluating the rhetoric of the national leaders of their party, they somehow manage to lose all capacity for rational thought or analytical reasoning. If Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh remain skeptical of the science of global warming, that's good enough for them to oppose any meaningful efforts at reducing our carbon footprint. In my reality-based world, I look at a picture of the rapidly shrinking (North) polar ice cap, the ice sheets retreating from Greenland, melting glaciers the world over, and I don't need a scientist to tell me that something is seriously wrong with our planet. Moreover, even if it weren't, there is simply no downside to increasing energy conservation, reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, and fostering the growth of new companies and industries that are "green." That's a rational point of view, and my political viewpoint has nothing to do with wanting to live in a cleaner, healthier environment.

So when the debate on reforming health insurance coverage (I refuse to call it health care reform until Congress actually, you know, decides to pass a law that will reform the care that we receive as opposed to our method of paying for it) devolved into shouts of "death panels" and "socialism" and "putting the government between a patient and his doctor," I wondered to what venue Republicans' reason had fled. Even relatively bright and non-confrontational Meet the Press staples like South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham have made remarks so absurd that I could not leave the television on another instant. On the March 28th edition of MTP he attempted to frighten seniors by falsely claiming that they would "lose their Medicare advantage" when "$574 billion would be taken out of Medicare" (the truth: Medicare benefits won't be cut by a single cent to seniors) and decrying a government plan to "take over the student loan program" (in actuality, billions of tax dollars will be saved by removing the middle man- private loan facilitators who collected fees).

Here's a question for the critics who are crying out about the dangers of "socialism" in the new health insurance reform bill: which is the more "socialist" program: Medicare or the Veterans Administration's hospitals? Answer: of course it's VA hospitals, which are owned by the government and staffed by doctors and nurses employed by the government. Medicare only involves government payment to private physicians and to hospitals (public or private) which are chosen by the patients/consumers. So if "socialism" is the real bugaboo, I would expect Republican leaders to march lockstep down to Fox News and Teabaggers' conventions and fight the good fight to eliminate free government health care for our disabled veterans.

As for the "death panels" or "government getting between a patient and his doctor," what hole have the right wing fruitcakes been living in the last 40 years? Hint: it's not the government which has decreed who will live and who will be denied expensive life saving medical procedures. If you have ever had a family member with a serious illness, you might remember this favorite phrase of an insurance company bureaucrat denying coverage: "experimental procedure." And it wasn't the government that denied people insurance coverage if they had a "pre-existing condition" or had the audacity to get so seriously hurt or ill that they used up their coverage and had to sell their house and file bankruptcy.

The Repubs next attack was on "process," since substance didn't work out for them. They accused Democrats of "ramming the bill down America's throat." Apparently, in Republican fantasy land, it is a form of "tyranny" worthy of the Nazis when the Democrats manage to get 60 votes in the Senate and a majority (218) of the 435 votes in the House of Representatives. So when the House passed the Senate bill last week, that was too much for House Minority leader John Boehner, a Republican Congressman from Ohio. Here's the actual quote from his Congressional website:

"At a time when our nation’s finances are already in dire straits, the decision of Democratic leaders to focus on a job-killing government takeover of health care rather than putting Americans back to work has only accelerated our march to fiscal collapse. While Americans were asking, “where are the jobs,” Democrats arrogantly dragged the nation through a year-long exercise to force the health care plan into law."

To those of us who passed civics in high school, when a bill is passed by a majority vote of both houses in Congress, that's called "democracy."

Mr. Boehner, having no sense of hypocrisy or history, failed to note that the "march to fiscal collapse" occurred on his watch, as the Bush Administration with the aid of a Republican controlled Senate and House managed to turn a $160 billion surplus in the last year of the Clinton Administration into a trillion dollar annual deficit. It seems a century ago in October of 2000 when Al Gore and George W. Bush debated how to spend America's surplus and how fast to pay down the national debt. When President Clinton exited and George W. Bush took office on January 20, 2001, our total national debt was $5,727,776,738,304.64 and it was going down. When President Bush left office January 20, 2009, it was $10,626,877,048,913.08 (the $5 trillion increase almost doubled the national debt in 8 years). Nor did Mr. Boehner note that the Republicans racked up that debt with only 50 Senate votes plus the tie-breaker. The 2001 massive tax and the2003 prescription drug benefit, which were funded through borrowing, sailed through Congress under the dreaded process of "reconciliation."

There's a lot not to like about the recent health insurance reform bill- most notably, the lack of a single payer plan or a public option insurance plan, either of which would save consumers and the government billions of dollars. Of course, that would require Republican leaders to drop by the reality based universe where saving tax dollars and reducing the deficit could have been accomplished if they had only deigned to participate in the process.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


A deep thinker in the Republican Party. The tinfoil keeps out the CIA's mind control rays.

It occurred to me while watching Real Time with Bill Maher, which had exchanges between the panelists on both global warming and on America's viewpoint towards people of different religions (they were talking about the 2008 Republican primary and Mitt Romney's religion- LDS- being a problem with some Republican evangelicals), that:

(1) the people who claim to be skeptics about the existence of global climate change can't believe something without overwhelming proof, and yet, when the overwhelming scientific proof is provided (in my mind, I don't need anything more than the shrinkage of the north polar ice cap and melting glaciers), they still demand more proof and claim that the evidence is not conclusive; BUT

(2) when it comes to their religious beliefs, the same people who are skeptics on climate change have no problem believing- in spite of no proof in their favor and overwhelming evidence to the contrary that:

(a) America is special among all nations and is singularly blessed by a deity;

(b) If they adhere to a particular religious belief, regardless of their personal conduct, they will be "saved" and will go to a really cool place after they die; and

(c) Other People who lead exemplary lives but who don't adhere to their special religion are doomed in the afterlife to suffer eternal torment; and

(d) Their deity pays close attention to the personal conduct and lives of everybody on earth, and everything that happens- for good or evil or indifferent- is part of that deity's plan.

So what is up with that? If they were logically consistent, they'd either demand the same amount of proof in support of their religious beliefs, or they'd be more accepting of the overwhelming evidence of global climate change.

And these are the same people who were screaming that the president failed to protect America when a black man of another faith tried and failed to blow up an airplane landing in Detroit, but who gave faint praise to the mindset of a mentally disturbed white male Christian person who flew a plane into a government building, committing murder (a 68 year old was killed) and suicide and destroying government property:

"AUSTIN, Texas — The family of a longtime Internal Revenue Service employee killed when a pilot harboring an anti-IRS grudge flew his plane into his office remembered the Vietnam veteran Saturday as devoted family man who likely would have tried to save his co-workers from the burning building before escaping himself.

“He was full of life. Probably the best teacher I had in my life,” Ken Hunter said of his father, 68-year-old Vernon Hunter. The elder Hunter had been missing and presumed dead since Thursday, when software engineer Andrew Joseph Stack III slammed his plane into the Austin building where Hunter worked as a manager for the IRS.

The crash caused a large fireball that destroyed much of the hulking glass building where Hunter’s wife, Valerie, also worked as an IRS employee. She was not wounded."

"Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Craziest Republican of the Day: Steve King

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Actually, the Iowa Rep. isn't just a crazy Republican and extremist conservative ideologue, he's a terrorist sympathizer. TPM reports:

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told a crowd at CPAC on Saturday that he could "empathize" with the suicide bomber who last week attacked an IRS office in Austin, and encouraged his listeners to "implode" other IRS offices, according to a witness.

As well, in an interview with Think Progress, King sympathized with the suicide bomber, Joseph Andrew Stack (clip below):

I think if we'd abolished the IRS back when I first advocated it, he wouldn't have a target for his airplane. And I'm still for abolishing the IRS, I've been for it for thirty years and I'm for a national sales tax... It's sad the incident in Texas happened, but by the same token, it's an agency that is unnecessary and when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the IRS, it's going to be a happy day for America.

It may be "sad," but, to King, it's fully understandable."

"Understandable" King says! Is that what the Republican Party has devolved to? A few years ago, in the wake of an adverse ruling on Terry Schiavo's case (the Florida woman on life support whom the U.S. Congress- wholly Republican controlled at the time- and President Bush intervened to try to overturn the wishes of her spouse in a Florida court), Texas Senator John Cornyn said this:

"More tough talk about pulverizing the judiciary.
By Dahlia LithwickPosted Tuesday, April 5, 2005, at 5:03 PM ET

Yesterday, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn took the floor and announced that judges who make politically based decisions may inadvertently bring violence upon themselves. While pounding away at the Supreme Court's recent decision in Roper v. Simmons, he took the time to issue—amid the qualifiers and caveats of Senate-speak—the following threat:

I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. ... And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence.

He added that "No one, including those judges, including the judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, should be surprised if one of us stands up and objects." Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the new defense against charges of violence against judges: "Your Honor. My client suffered a loss of control due to uncontrollable ideological differences."

"Monday, April 04, 2005
Congressman Conyers rips Senator Cornyn for justifying violence against judges
by John Aravosis (DC) on 4/04/2005 08:12:00 PM

During the protracted coverage and debate of the Schiavo matter, I was struck by the disrespectful and reckless language being used against judges. One by one, my Republican colleagues took the House floor to attack judges as "unconscionable," lacking "human compassion," needing to be held in "contempt," and having "answering to do." I remember thinking that such dehumanizing rhetoric is especially dangerous in these times towards anyone, let alone judges.

Outside the halls of Congress, words flew even more recklessly and the House Majority Leader Tom DeLay called the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube an "act of medical terrorism." The Reverend Pat Robertson called it "judicial murder."

I remember thinking about Judge Rowland Barnes of Georgia, who less than a month ago, was shot to death by an angry litigant in his courtroom, along with two other court employees. I remember thinking that irresponsible words can lead to tragic results. I thought of Judge Joan Lefkow, whose husband and mother are thought to have been murdered by an aggrieved litigant. Since then, I have been trying to think of the most appropriate forum to gently call this to my colleagues' attention, and to remind them that -- no matter how strong our feelings about individual decisions and cases, we need to be cognizant of the influence we may have -- especially on those that may be disturbed, and we always need to know that -- as elected officials -- our words have consequences.

That was to be a subtle message. It is unfortunate that today my message must be less subtle because things are very quickly spinning out of control....

This apparent effort [by Senator Cornyn] to rationalize violence against judges is deplorable. On its face, while it contains doubletalk that simultaneously offers a justification for such violence and then claims not to, the fundamental core of the statement seems to be that judges have somehow brought this violence on themselves. This also carries an implicit threat: that if judges do not do what the far right wants them to do (thus becoming the "judicial activists" the far right claims to deplore), the violence may well continue.

If this is what Senator Cornyn meant to say, it is outrageous, irresponsible and unbecoming of our leaders. To be sure, I have disagreed with many, many court rulings. (For example, Bush v. Gore may well be the single greatest example of judicial activism we have seen in our lifetime.) But there is no excuse, no excuse, for a Member of Congress to take our discourse to this ugly and dangerous extreme.

My message is not subtle today. It is simple. To my Republican colleagues: you are playing with fire, you are playing with lives, and you must stop.

Senator Cornyn and Congressman DeLay should immediately retract these ill considered statements."