Tuesday, January 25, 2011

History According to Bachman

Congresswoman Michelle Bachman from Minnesota will be delivering the "Tea Party" response to the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address tonight.  Recently I've also been hearing some talk that this nutty woman with the "Charles Manson eyes" is actually considering a Presidential run. 

Personally, I think that before she even THINKS of running for the presidency, she needs to do a LOT of learning about basic American history...

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Vitriol from the Right

Rush Limbaugh said the following on the air:
“Liberals should have their speech controlled and not be allowed to buy guns. I mean if we want to get serious about this, if we want to face this head on, we're gonna have to openly admit, liberals should not be allowed to buy guns, nor should they be allowed to use computer keyboards or typewriters, word processors or e-mails, and they should have their speech controlled. If we did those three or four things, I can't tell you what a sane, calm, civil, fun-loving society we would have. Take guns out of the possession, out of the hands of liberals, take their typewriters and their keyboards away from 'em, don't let 'em anywhere near a gun, and control their speech.”

And Glenn Beck has said things that are even more demented. For example, a video clip was put up recently by Beck supporters to supposedly refute the claims that Glenn Beck told his audience to shoot people in the head. This video clip starts with typed introductory commentary from the Beckheads that says:
“There is a video going around called “Glenn Beck Shoot Them in the Head Video Clip Found” in which someone is trying to convince people that Glenn Beck is encouraging his audience to take up arms against the government.

“The clip was taken out of context, perhaps in an attempt to convince others that Glenn Beck or other conservative hosts might have played a role in motivating Jared Loughner to shoot the congresswoman in Arizona.

Well, here is what Glenn really said..

As you watch, note that “you” refers to the leftist politicians in Washington and their pals in the media, and “they” refers to their radical leftist friends – who, Beck warns, actually believe there must be violent revolution…

…and if they don’t get what they want, they may start one. “
The actual video clip from the show itself doesn’t start until 0:32 (in case you don’t want to sit through the typed introduction)


Just because you in Washington and you who are so out of touch with life in the media, just because you don't believe in anything doesn't mean nobody else does. We do. You know why you're confused by this show? It's because I believe in something. You don't.

Tea parties believe in small government. We believe in returning to the principles of our Founding Fathers. We respect them. We revere them. Shoot me in the head before I stop talking about the Founders. Shoot me in the head if you try to change our government, I will stand against you and so will millions of others. We believe in something. You in the media and most in Washington don't. The radicals that you and Washington have co-opted and brought in wearing sheep's clothing — change the pose. You will get the ends.”

“You've been using them? They believe in communism. They believe and have called for a revolution. You're going to have to shoot them in the head. But warning, they may shoot you.

“They are dangerous because they believe. Karl Marx is their George Washington. You will never change their mind. And if they feel you have lied to them — they're revolutionaries. Nancy Pelosi, those are the people you should be worried about.”

I don’t see how anyone on the Right thinks that this video somehow “refutes” (or should I use Sarah Palin’s made up word “refudiates”?) the claim that Glenn Beck advocated for people to be “shot in the head”. I guess their claim is that the people whom Beck is advocating should get shot in the head “deserve it” because they’re “revolutionaries” (while he idolizes the Founding Fathers of this country, who were…by definition, Revolutionaries). I guess Beck would have wanted Jefferson “shot in the head”, or maybe Paine? Madison? Exactly which “revolutionaries” does Beck want to “shoot in the head”, and using what standards?

In the same transcript of the same show, Beck also said the following, which I feel compelled to directly answer… (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,594343,00.html)
"I want to warn you now, Democrats, your party is over. And I don't mean — all tea parties and Republicans are going to beat you in November. I mean the Democrats, as we used to know them, the Democrats that were in my family growing up, are over.”
Well, you know what Glenn…since I was raised as a very dedicated Republican and worked quite avidly for the party for a LOT of years (before I felt compelled to leave it when the religious right and lunatics like YOU took over and turned it into something I didn’t recognize anymore) I would respond by saying that the Republicans that were in my family growing up, are over. My 76 year old mother, a Goldwater Republican, has come to the point where she is ashamed to call herself a Republican anymore.  Even David Stockman, a former Republican Congressman who served as Director of the OMB under Reagan, called himself a “lapsed republican” during an appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday, January 21st. So it seems that your party isn’t really in grand shape either, and personally, I blame you and your ilk for that.

Beck also said, “The radicals have infected the party. They have been brought in by politicians who don't really care about anything. They just want to win. They've been tolerating the revolutionaries — the Democrats have.”

Again, that is my take on what happened to the Republican Party. Radical Right-wingers have infected the party. They were brought in by politicians (and churches) who don’t really care about anything other than pushing their right-wing agenda and doing whatever it takes to win. The Republicans have been tolerating the religious lunatics who murder doctors and advocate violence for FAR too long.

Beck also really needs to make up his mind, because he even contradicts himself.  FIRST he says that “nobody in the press and nobody in Washington actually believes a damn thing, except their own image.” and says, “Just because you in Washington and you who are so out of touch with life in the media, just because you don't believe in anything doesn't mean nobody else does. We do. You know why you're confused by this show? It's because I believe in something. You don't.” But then in the same rant he babbles about how strongly committed the “progressives” are to this “revolution” he imagines we are planning (and apparently deserve to be “shot in the head” for).

Beck says: “As you will learn on "Founding Fridays(sic)," this Friday, we're talking about James Madison. Here is what you will learn. The revolution of 1776 was a picnic compared to what the revolutionaries of today would like to do. It's not a lot of fun. Usually, millions of people die.”

The apparent schizophrenia in his hatred of modern “revolutionaries” but hero worship for the “revolutionaries” that were the “Founding Fathers” is absolutely staggering. Every day this madman seems more and more like “Howard Beale” from “Network”…I’m just waiting for the day he goes completely over the edge (more than he already has of course) and really goes on a shooting spree or has some other total breakdown. It seems to me it’s really just a matter of time.

Beck says, “Here is my advice when you're dealing with people who believe in something that strongly — you take them seriously. You listen to their words and you believe that they will follow up with what they say.”

You know what, Mr. Beck, I do believe you. I believe you, and I believed Sharron Angle when she recommended her “second amendment remedies”, and I believed Michelle Bachman when she told her people that she wanted them “armed and dangerous”, and I believed Sarah Palin when she told her people to “lock and load” and “don’t retreat, reload”.  I believe you all…that’s what scares the hell out of me, and makes me afraid for my country.

Beck says, “Tea parties believe in small government. We believe in returning to the principles of our Founding Fathers. We respect them. We revere them. Shoot me in the head before I stop talking about the Founders. Shoot me in the head if you try to change our government.”

You know what Mr. Beck…I respect and "revere" the founding principles of this country too!  I consider the Constitution of the United States to be practically sacred (unlike my opinion of your bible).  I am an extremely patriotic person and have a deeper love of this country than I believe someone like yourself is even capable of understanding, let alone feeling.  But I don’t WANT to shoot you in the head. I don’t want to shoot ANYONE in the head. And I wish that you and the folks like you didn’t want to shoot others, but you are the one who advocates “shooting” so-called “revolutionaries” (which seems to be anyone that disagrees with your warped viewpoints). Nor would I even go as far as your pal Limbaugh who wants to strip those that disagree with him ideologically of their first and second amendment rights.

But I will say that if being against the two of YOU and the horrible, demented things that you (and your respective followers) say makes me a “revolutionary”? Well…then I guess...
...“Viva la Revolution”.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Health Care

"If we agree that this law needs improving, why keep it on the books?" asked House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). "Let's challenge ourselves to do better."
Yesterday, three Democrats voted with every Republican in the United States House of Representatives to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The final vote was 245 – 189. Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who is still hospitalized after an assassination attempt earlier this month, is the only member of the House that did not vote on the measure.

The three Democrats who voted with the GOP on this controversial matter are:
Representative Mike McIntyre of North Carolina
Representative Dan Boren of Oklahoma
Representative Mike Ross of Arkansas
These three Democrats (coincidentally from tradtionally red-states) also voted against the bill initially as well, so their lack of support now is not terribly surprising. However that they would stand with the Republicans on this matter that polling shows is losing its momentum is something I found somewhat surprising.

McIntyre describes on his website what he believes should be done to fix the country’s health care system:
We should tackle health care reform in targeted ways, like strengthening Medicare and Medicaid; improving Medicare reimbursement rates for rural health providers, expanding the use of electronic medical records; expanding and strengthening community health centers; allowing small business owners to join pools of coverage to access better insurance rates; allowing states to form compacts to allow the purchase of insurance across state lines; and providing tax credits for long-term care. These are just some of the many examples where we can make needed health care changes without further bankrupting the country.”
Though he obviously changed his mind, Dan Boren had said that he might not go along with the GOP efforts to repeal the bill because:
I think for those who are saying 'we're going to have a full repeal of this bill,' I would say that is very unlikely. You still have a president, even after this election; will be in office who would veto any type of legislation to repeal the bill. And I'm not for repealing the pre-existing condition issue. I'm not for repealing, you know, some of the good portions of the bill. I am for repealing some of the bad parts, so hopefully we can get together and be bipartisan and see how this shakes out.”
Mike Ross (who sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee) said, on Fox News, that he believes the bill is too big and too costly as well as “too complicated”.
The people in AR are overwhelmingly for repealing this law,” he said.
Congressman Ross, is it possible that the reason your constituents back in Arkansas are in favor of full repeal is because you are not doing your job and pointing out to them that the Right is distorting the facts about the bill? Is it at all possible, Congressman Ross, that your position on this bill has to do with the position of the Chairman of the Committee on which you sit and his own agenda in relation to the health care bill?

Republican Fred Upton of Michigan, who is the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, spoke on the repeal of Health Care on the House floor and began with these words, “Mr. Speaker, today we take a step toward compassionate, innovative and job-creating health care.”

But then he proposed…nothing.

I fail to see how literally taking a step BACKWARD by outright REPEAL of the first health care bill that we were ever able to get in place could possibly be called “a step forward” by anyone.

Upton did make it clear that he favors many of the ideas that are part of what the Right calls “Obamacare”, such as the regulations on pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on parents’ policies through age 26. However, he also then voiced what seems to be his primary concern in regards to health care…limiting malpractice liability.

He then concluded by saying, “First is repeal, then replace.”

Do the Republicans really expect us to forget the fact that they had ABSOLUTE control of the government for YEARS and did nothing for health care other than pass a “prescription drug bill” (in the middle of the night with lots of ugly threats played to ram it through) that helped no one but the pharmaceutical industry and actually helped create part of the horrible mess we have now (like those “doughnut holes” in coverage for seniors)?

If they had really wanted to put through any sort of viable health care plan, they had EVERY opportunity to do so, and they did precisely nothing. Just like this little charade is doing nothing now. They know their ridiculous repeal won’t make it through the Senate, and even if it did, it would be vetoed by the President.

The fact of the matter is that this bill is a product of trying to work with the damn Republicans…that’s why we have this mess (that was originally a Republican plan in the first place) instead of the single-payer, “medicare for all” system that the left actually wanted. This mess that the right lies about, distorts and disrespectfully calls “Obamacare” is a direct result of trying to compromise with “the party of no”.

Representative Xavier Becerra of California put it succinctly, "For 12 years they had control of the Congress. For six years they had a Republican president to work with," so if they had any sort of plan to fix health care, why didn’t they bring it forward and do it?

Because Republicans don’t give a damn about health care unless they’re talking about how their insurance industry friends can make more profits, lessening regulation on that corrupt industry, making sure that certain women's health services are not covered, and limiting the amounts that people can recover through the legal system when doctors (which many of them coincidentally happen to be) fuck up, so unless they’re being literally FORCED to address the issue, they will avoid it.

What we are seeing here is history repeating itself. Back in 1992, Bill Clinton ran and was elected on the premise of health care reform. Then in 1993, the Right demonized the effort to address the issue with smears against the First Lady (then they called it “Hillarycare” didn’t they?...are these assholes NEVER original?) and horribly demonized any plan the commission might come up with (before they even came up with it). They called it “socialized medicine”, “communism”, said it would destroy the economy. They ran the infamous “Harry and Louise” television commercials lying about what was being proposed/considered.

Eventually their show worked and they managed to trick the American people into turning against the plan that hadn't even been finalized. Back then, the plan being proposed by the Right was Bob Dole’s plan which eventually was rejected as being of primary benefit to the insurance industry rather than the people.

Then the GOP used the controversy that they had created over “Hillarycare” to help them sweep back into majority control of the Congress in 1994 and once they had control of both houses of Congress, they killed any chance at health care reform until 2008 when Obama was elected, also on a promise of health care reform (wow…history really DOES repeat itself, doesn’t it?). And as the old saying goes…those who do not learn from their history are doomed to repeat it…well, we didn’t learn from ’94 so welcome to 2011. Everything old is new again. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton_health_care_plan_of_1993).

So health care got shelved again until another Democrat took the White House. Then when Obama was trying to get health care addressed (why is it only Democrats who ever want to address issues that affect the real people) and terms like “single-payer” and “public option” were being tossed around, suddenly the old republican plan from back in ’93 which included the “individual mandate” that they were all for (when the Democrats were rejecting it) during the Clinton years, and which was put forth as the “compromise” this time around has suddenly become "socialistic," "a monstrosity" and a "dark chapter" in American history? Oh well, so much for “compromise”.

That’s another thing I don’t really understand. How is capitulating to THEIR plan a “compromise”? It’s just like the damn tax cuts for millionaires! I’m SO sick of the “compromises” that always end up being exactly what the Right wanted in the first place!! They just keep stepping further to the right so that suddenly the “compromise” position on the “middle ground” has shifted so far right that any “compromise” is actually a Republican “win”.

Will the health care bill as it is in its current form change? Well, of course it will! Every major piece of far-reaching legislation went through that process. Representative Eliot Engel of New York summed it up nicely, "All important bills - Social Security, Medicare, civil rights laws of the 1960s - they needed to be tweaked, let us put our heads together and figure out what makes sense."

So now they’re going to put on their little show of “repeal” so that when the bill gets “tweeked” as everyone admits was the plan all along, they can pretend (for the gullible) that it was a republican victory.

The show must go on….

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tolerant States Rankings

The "Daily Beast" has put together a list of the most and least tolerant states based on various data including “hate crime” statistics, filed discrimination complaints, fair-housing and fair workplace laws, along with various other information. http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-01-16/ranking-the-most-tolerant-and-least-tolerant-states/full/

I found the results quite interesting…

The Top Ten:
1. Wisconsin
2. Maryland
3. Illinois
4. Pennsylvania
5. Hawaii
6. California
7. Minnesota
8. New Jersey
9. New Hampshire
10. New Mexico

The Bottom Ten:
40. Alabama
41. Kentucky
42. North Dakota
43. Arizona
44. Utah
45. Idaho
46. Ohio
47. Nebraska
48. Kansas
49. Arkansas
50. Wyoming

Personally, I don’t really find it coincidental that the top ten states tend to overwhelmingly vote Democrat and the bottom 10 almost exclusively vote Republican.

In the last three presidential election cycles the states in the top ten all went to the Democrat with the exception of New Hampshire in 2000 and New Mexico in 2004. All voted blue in 2008.

Conversely, the bottom ten all solidly voted Republican in both 2000 and 2004, but in 2008 Nebraska had newly changed their law which required the electoral votes to be split in accordance with the popular vote, so their 5 votes were split 1 for Obama and 4 for McCain.

Ohio voted for Obama in 2008, the first time the state had gone blue since the 90’s…but remember, this is the state that gave us John Boehner, so don’t let their transient blue coloring fool you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Editing "the N-word"

On today's episode of "The View", the ladies had a long discussion on the subject of the "n-word" being edited out of a newly printed edition of a Mark Twain classic...

I strongly agree with Whoopi's position on editing "the n-word" out of the classic Huckleberry Finn.  In my opinion, we cannot just go back and retroactively edit works that are considered classics just because our modern culture has (rightfully) disavowed the common use of a certain word used in that book. What’s next…Uncle Tom’s Cabin? The Color Purple? Roots?

And yes, it is the responsibility of parents to explain to their children what this word means, where it comes from and how it was used.  It's part of the parental responsibility of teaching your child how to deal with the world we live in.  Young children do need to know about this word and the role it has played in our past.  They need to know so that they can understand related lessons about acceptance and tolerance, and about how we all need to learn to live together without that sort of ugly rhetoric.  The white children need to know so that they will understand that it's a word of ignorance that they should never use unless they wish to be seen as bigots, and the black children need to know how to deal with it if it is thrown at them.

Yes, this is an inflammatory word and we, as a society need to determine how to deal with the matter (since it is equally discriminatory to keep the word in modern culture yet say that only one race CAN use it). If the word is going to be scrubbed from a work of classic literature, then it should also be scrubbed from song lyrics, comedy routines and our modern culture in general. It either needs to be gone or not, but in my opinion having it tottering in limbo between one race constantly using it freely in “artistic expression” while it must be bleeped and scrubbed, even from history, when the speaker is of a different race is simply wrong.

Just like it was wrong when they made a show of reading the Constitution on the floor of the House while leaving out references to slavery or that at one time in our nation’s past, blacks were officially considered only three-fifths of a person.

Personally, my choice would be to make it an obsolete word for all, so that in books either from or about the PAST is the only place you WOULD find it…but I’m not the one who gets to make these calls. I just know that I don’t believe that editing classics, to try to pretend that our past is something other than it was, is the answer.

You can't just erase a word out of history because our history itself is uncomfortable.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What an Angle

Remember back during the campaign when Sharron Angle threatened those "second amendment remedies" if certain folks didn't get their way??  ...

I guess this is what she had in mind...

I understand that the Congresswoman is fighting for her life after being shot in the head at point blank range, at least six people are dead including a nine year old child and many others are wounded.  Who wants to bet that Jared Lee Loughner, the 22 year old gunman that is in custody, felt he was just exercising his second amendment remedy?  Perhaps Sarah Palin can cross Giffords' name off her "target list" now? (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/03/sarah-palins-target-list/37918/)

My thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords and her family as well as the friends and family of all those shot during this horrible event. 

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

My biggest fear, and I'm unfortunately not alone in this belief...is that this is only the beginning...

Those who incite this kind of vitriol need to understand, as Congresswoman Giffords herself said, that words have consequences.  You can't just spew anything you want to say and feel that you bear no responsibility for what comes as a result.  Just because you have a "right" to say something doesn't mean that you SHOULD say it.  Everyone who speaks on a public level knows (or certainly should know) that there are unstable people out there who can take what is said and act on it, for good or bad.  

If what you said was completely misinterpreted by the person who acted on it, such as when Charles Manson misinterpreted a Beatles song about a roller coaster to mean that they were directly telling him to start a race war, then the speaker is not in any way responsible for the actions of the madman.  However, there is nothing ambiguous about "lock and load", "don't retreat - reload", and people taking "second amendment remedies"...this wasn't misunderstood or misinterpreted.  The meaning was quite clear and the simple fact that they may not have MEANT for anyone to actually ACT on their words does not completely exonerate them or insulate them from taking responsibility for what their words eventually wrought. 

Words have consequences.


So the GOP is now fully in charge of the House of Representatives again.  As I remember well what things have been like on the other occasions in which they've been in charge, I would be lying if I didn't admit that I am frightened at the prospect...

On Wednesday, January 5th the 112th Congress was sworn in (well…most of it anyway, we’ll get to that later) and Speaker Pelosi officially turned over the (giant) gavel to the new Weeper of the House, John Boehner…   Click here to read my Previous blog post about Boehner and his constant crying

"The people voted to end business as usual, and today we begin to carry out their instructions"...

So, the way that you and your party intend to carry out the "instructions" of the American people is by having cartoonishly large gavels and wasting approximately a million dollars (source) putting on a show of reading the Constitution into the Congressional Record but skipping some parts?  http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/06/nation/la-na-constitution-20110107 

Well...I have to say that I have a great deal of respect for the Constitution of the United States.  Since I'm not a follower of "holy books", I can say without equivocation that the U. S. Constitution is one of the few written documents that I would actually consider "sacred".  I don't think that having the document read in the House was necessarily a bad idea, since I'm sure many could certainly use the instruction (heaven knows Boehner himself obviously DOES need some instruction on it).  But if you're going to make a show of reading the Constitution, at least do it right.  Don't skip pages, don't leave out words or amendments that are inconvenient...read it all, or don't read it at all.  (Incidentally, this is the same way that I think people should read a book called the bible...but SO few do.)

Sessions and Fitzpatrick raise their hands while
watching the broadcast of the ceremony
at a fund-raiser.

Is it also your belief that the American people "instructed" some members from your party to skip the swearing in ceremony (so that they could attend a fund-raiser) and thinking that because they "raised their hands" whilst watching the broadcast of the procedure...that they were somehow qualified to VOTE on the floor of the United States House of Representatives??  (pssst....that's a VIOLATION of the very document you were putting on a show of reading, by the way)

But the biggest show came from the visitor's gallery.  As one member of the House read the text from Article Two, section one – “No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President” – a lunatic in the Gallery began shrieking, “Except Obama, except Obama, help us, Jesus!”

First, the fact that there are still these lunatics who insist on denying reality and trying to pretend that President Obama is not an American is beyond ridiculous.  I simply do not understand why the leaders of the Republican Party don't just make a definitive statement once and for all, to try to get these nuts to STOP making them all look silly with this idiocy.  Clearly they KNOW it's not true...

Um...you know what Mr. Boehner...you may think that "it's not up to me to tell them what to think", but I think that it IS up to you, as the leader of your party, to put down people doing asinine things like this.  Would it be "up to you" as Speaker to decide whether or not to bring a bill to the floor that denied other facts?  Perhaps we should have a bill that denies the Holocaust?  Or maybe one that says that there was never slavery in this country so folks should just shut up about civil rights?  Or perhaps one that says that the U. S. Government has always dealt fairly with the Native Americans?  Is there is no end to the ridiculous things that can have bills brought up about them?  Some things are FACTS, Mr. Boehner, and they're NOT open to interpretation and the FACT is that even the REPUBLICAN former Governor of Hawaii has been VERY clear about President Obama's birth there.  This silliness needs to END.  If someone is making claims that are in violation of known FACTS, I'm afraid it IS your responsibility as their leader to rein them in, Mr. Boehner.  But you clearly don't want to do that, probably because the "birthers" are politically useful for you so you don't want to disillusion them from their delusions. 

Perhaps that's why it was NOT you sitting in your long-coveted, newly acquired Speaker's chair while that particular amendment was read and the resultant show happened?  It looked to me like the man who was sitting in your chair at that moment was very well prepared for the supposedly unexpected outburst from the gallery, as he had a written document prepared from which he read when this unexpected event occurred. 

Personally...I think it was a set up and just one more part of the show.