Friday, May 30, 2014

Says It All, And Well



This is a reader comment on Andrew Sullivan's blog, about the VA scandal, and the politicization thereof: 

I am an ER nurse at a VA hospital (not in Arizona, thankfully). The comments from politicians on this scandal are just asinine. 
Why is nobody asking why it takes over 100 days to get a primary care appointment? I hear these same complaints from people in the ER every day, that they come to the ER because it takes months to see their PCP. It takes that long because the VA is not given the budget to hire enough PCP’s. That’s the real fucking scandal. The politicians sent our troops to war and they are not willing to pay for their care when they come back.
Is the claim really that there is some nefarious plot to keep our Veterans from seeing their providers? Who believes that shit? We just don’t have enough primary care doctors and nurse practitioners to see them. Hire some more PCP’s and the wait times will decrease. 
As for privatization, that is a fucking joke. Only about half of veterans actually use the VA for their health care now, because those who receive insurance through their employer usually go to private hospitals. The ones we see on a daily basis in the ER are older, poorer, often homeless, with more illness and co-morbidities. They are a distinct population and their level of care will decline if they don’t have a specialized service like the VA serving them. 
You may not believe it, but most of us working at the VA actually believe in our mission. We mean it when we thank a veteran for their service. Rather than fixing the problem, and fixing our budget, they are just trying to shuttle more money to private hospitals and continue their anti-government grandstanding. The Republican party and the weak-kneed contingent of the Democratic party make me sick. The only Senator who seems to actually care about the veterans is Bernie Sanders.
Many in D.C. have been after Eric Shinseki's head ever since he called bullshit on Rumsfeld's pathetic claims that Iraq could be stabilized with a handful of troops. I don't know how much responsibility he bears for the current problems. But I think it's pretty obvious that what our esteemed politicians have in mind in calling for his head is to get the blame off themselves for steadfastly and repeatedly refusing to fund the VA to the required levels. Pretend their voodoo economics have nothing to do with the stresses in that system.

The above commenter points the blame where it belongs: at Congress. Note that s/he condemns -- as any brain-alive person would -- the entire R party, along with some Democrats. The ones too frightened to stand up and be counted when it counts.

Shinseki is doomed, because that's how it works when feckless and mendacious politicians see a scapegoat for their own failures.

[Update: he "resigned." I'm a goddam soothsayer, huh?]

[Image source]



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Telling



This story tells you everything -- and I do mean everything -- you need to know about today's Republican party and those who fund it, pull its strings, and to whose most narrow interests, at the expense of the country's, they're beholden. How empty is their ideology, how little they believe in it except as a ruse to get ill-informed and malleable voters to go along, betraying their own interests. Not to mention their future.

At long last, the Koch brothers and their conservative allies in state government have found a new tax they can support. Naturally it’s a tax on something the country needs: solar energy panels. 
For the last few months, the Kochs and other big polluters have been spending heavily to fight incentives for renewable energy, which have been adopted by most states. They particularly dislike state laws that allow homeowners with solar panels to sell power they don’t need back to electric utilities. So they’ve been pushing legislatures to impose a surtax on this increasingly popular practice, hoping to make installing solar panels on houses less attractive. 
Oklahoma lawmakers recently approved such a surcharge at the behest of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the conservative group that often dictates bills to Republican statehouses and receives financing from the utility industry and fossil-fuel producers, including the Kochs...
Even anti-tax pledge-demanding Grover Norquist is in on it.

Could it be any more clear? Does anyone not understand what's at stake, and what those guys and the party they carry around in their pocket really care about? What their real priorities are, behind all that anti-tax, pro-America, global-warming-is-a-hoax rhetoric? (Okay, in case you need it spelled out: they care only about their own profits, and give not the slightest shit about anything else.)

The fact that their profits are tied to the fossil fuel industry, and, therefore, that alternative energy is a threat, is all that matters to them. Not the environment. Not the planet. Not the future of you and your kids and grandkids. Has there ever been a more cynical, greedy, amoral, destructive bunch of people? Has there ever been a political party so completely in the thrall of such people, itching to take their money no matter at what cost to everyone else? Has there ever been a bought and paid-for news organization so blatantly committed to deceiving its audience in the service of its masters, caring nothing about truth? About the damage they're causing?

This is today's Republican party. Trying hard to obstruct the path to alternative energy. Other than the fact that it's entirely typical, it's nearly impossible to believe. Seriously. Alternative energy! These "job creators" are actually doing what they can to suppress jobs!! So much for conservative "values."

Anyone who's not directly tied to the fossil fuel industry who votes for them is either happily brainwashed, deliberately distracted into thinking their religion is under attack and gay marriage is more important than the temperature outside, clueless, or just doesn't care.

Will the normal people in that party ever wake up and see what's being done to them? People who actually do care about this country, the future of their kids, and of this planet? People willing to stop and think for a minute, wonder if it's possible, just possible, that they're being taken for a ride. Being deliberately lied to in the service of a handful of very rich and powerful and self-interested men? If this sort of brazen mendacity doesn't do it, what will?

Sadly, the question answers itself: nothing.

[Image source]

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Selections


The following words of wisdom and/or wit are culled from a list sent by my friend Linda: 

Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.
Albert Einstein

You can't control the wind, but  you can adjust your sails. 
Yiddish  proverb

I don't want to become immortal through my work. I
want to become immortal through not dying.
Woody  Allen

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of
thinking we used when we created them. 
Albert Einstein 

When the white missionaries came to Hawaii they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes.
When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.
Queen Liliuokalani

America is the only country where a significant proportion of the
population believes that professional wrestling is real....... but the moon landing was faked.
David Letterman

I've been married to a communist and a fascist, and neither would take out the garbage.
Zsa Zsa Gabor

A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing.
Emo Philips.

Kill one man and you're a murderer, kill a million and you're a conqueror.
Jean Rostand.

Having more money doesn't make you happier. I have 50 million
dollars but I'm just as happy as when I had 48 million.
Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We are here on earth to do good unto others.
What the others are here for.......I have no idea.
WH Auden

If life were fair, Elvis would still be alive today and all the
impersonators would be dead.
Johnny Carson

I don't believe in astrology. I am a Sagittarius and we're very skeptical.
Warren Tantum

The first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone.
George Roberts

If God had intended us to fly he would have made it easier to get to the airport.
Jonathan Winters



Surprise!


Yeah. It's all about conservative values.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

When Sanity Ruled...


What the hell happened?

Why We Have Guns



It's so obvious, I failed to note it. But Charlie didn't:

... This is a country at war with itself for profit. This is a country at war with itself because its ruling elite is too cowed, or too well-bribed, or too cowardly to recognize that there are people who are getting rich arming both sides, because the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, so you make sure that it's easy for the bad guys to get guns in order to make millions selling the guns to the good guys...
And if that's not clear enough, he goes on:
... Wayne LaPierre gets paid when his masters sell guns to the bad guys. Wayne LaPierre gets paid when his masters sell guns to the good guys because of the guns he's already arranged to sell to the bad guys. Wayne LaPierre is the strange white man in the Congo who knows where he can get you some AK's. He's the shadowy fellow in the coffee shop in Kabul who knows where RPG's can be had, cheap. He's the well-dressed, silken-voiced operator, sipping his tea on a cool and breezy veranda outside of Bogota, who smiles at you and shows you on the map where you can pick up your order, because it is time once again for you to make war and him to make money. His look is the smooth and shiny black of the vulture's feathers. He feasts on the carrion of nations...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day


(If that isn't a [presumably] unintentionally ironic sentiment, I don't know what is.)

At the risk of repeating myself, let me say yet again:

Our troops deserve all the recognition they can get. More than that, they deserve all the help they need when they return from our wars. More than kudos for "protecting our freedoms," they need the resources to heal from the devastation of the wars to which we choose to send them, for often obscure reasons. (And as Bernie Sanders recently said about the R senators who voted against funding for veterans' benefits, "If you can't afford to pay for your veterans, don't send them to war.")

I say this as a Vietnam veteran, bearer of a Purple Heart. There's nothing that galls me more (well, nowadays, I'm sure there is) than those who think sticking a ribbon on their car, a flag on their porch, an aphorism on their wall, discharges their duty. While voting, yet again, for those same politicians who agitate constantly for war and refuse constantly to pay for the obligations incurred.

More than that: whereas it's most certainly true that there have been wars (not lately) in which our freedom was at stake, it's also evident to me that in these times the most real threats to our freedom come from within. From those same self-described patriotic politicians who pass laws suppressing freedom of voting; who'd deny civil rights to broad swaths of our citizens because of their sexual preference or (non-Christian) religious beliefs. It comes from broadcasters who constantly lie about and demonize the duly elected (twice) president. Who deliberately suborn revolution. For ratings. It even comes from our current Supreme Court, who equates corporations with people, money with speech, tilling the soil for the seeds of oligarchy, already in full bloom.

I'm more worried about my freedom when I hear about the latest attempt to force religious doctrine into public schools, to remove the teachings of science, than I am from the next terrorist attack. Such an attack can cause pain and economic downturn. Today's Republican party, with its bamboozling of the religious right and Tea Party people, on the other hand, can put an end to democracy forever; and it's trying damn hard to do it.

I'm more worried about my freedom, to enjoy a meal in peace, anyway, from those who feel the need to parade around flashing their guns, forcing their way into the local coffee house, than I am from an al-Queda sniper. I'm worried about the threats of violence received by anyone who speaks up about it, asking even for the most minimal of restrictions. Likewise, I see people like Cliven Bundy, the tax-evading, government-handout-taking lawbreaker and those -- including constitution-loving-but-not-undertstanding Foxolimbeckians --  who rally to his defense as a far greater threat to America's survival than the next people plotting in a cave.

So, yes, our troops have done heroic things. And it's way past time to find a way to fund all of their needs, even if it means -- omigod! -- raising taxes. Which, sorry to say, it does. But it's also time to stop seeing our wars and those who fight them as the only measure of patriotism.

It's time to see a few bumper stickers exhorting support for those willing to take the heat from within our borders; to withstand the cries of traitorism from those Foxolimbeckians while standing up for the rights of all our citizens. Willing to point out, at personal risk, what freedom of speech, freedom of religion really mean. What democracy means, and what it entails.

There are lots of measures of patriotism and love of country. Fighting its wars is, absolutely, among them.* But in my view, it's far from alone on the list. Until we recognize that, our "freedoms" will remain under threat. From us.

And thanks for my service.
_________________________________
*Except, maybe, to the extent that many people joined the military more out of economic necessity than as a desire to fight in our wars. Necessity born of those same patriots who voted against every job stimulating measure since Barack Obama came into office. Gee. Lousy job situation: people forced to join up. Coincidence? Topic for another day?

[Image source]

Not A Dime's Worth Of Difference?



He ought to know:

“You’ll hear if you watch the nightly news or you read the newspapers that, well, there’s gridlock, Congress is broken, approval ratings for Congress are terrible.  And there’s a tendency to say, a plague on both your houses.  But the truth of the matter is that the problem in Congress is very specific.  We have a group of folks in the Republican Party who have taken over who are so ideologically rigid, who are so committed to an economic theory that says if folks at the top do very well then everybody else is somehow going to do well; who deny the science of climate change; who don’t think making investments in early childhood education makes sense; who have repeatedly blocked raising a minimum wage so if you work full-time in this country you’re not living in poverty; who scoff at the notion that we might have a problem with women not getting paid for doing the same work that men are doing. 
“They, so far, at least, have refused to budge on bipartisan legislation to fix our immigration system, despite the fact that every economist who’s looked at it says it’s going to improve our economy, cut our deficits, help spawn entrepreneurship, and alleviate great pain from millions of families all across the country. 
“So the problem…is not that the Democrats are overly ideological — because the truth of the matter is, is that the Democrats in Congress have consistently been willing to compromise and reach out to the other side.  There are no radical proposals coming out from the left.  When we talk about climate change, we talk about how do we incentivize through the market greater investment in clean energy.  When we talk about immigration reform there’s no wild-eyed romanticism.  We say we’re going to be tough on the borders, but let’s also make sure that the system works to allow families to stay together… 
“When we talk about taxes we don’t say we’re going to have rates in the 70 percent or 90 percent when it comes to income like existed here 50, 60 years ago.  We say let’s just make sure that those of us who have been incredibly blessed by this country are giving back to kids so that they’re getting a good start in life, so that they get early childhood education…Health care — we didn’t suddenly impose some wild, crazy system.  All we said was let’s make sure everybody has insurance. And this made the other side go nuts — the simple idea that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, nobody should go bankrupt because somebody in their family gets sick, working within a private system. 
“So when you hear a false equivalence that somehow, well, Congress is just broken, it’s not true.  What’s broken right now is a Republican Party that repeatedly says no to proven, time-tested strategies to grow the economy, create more jobs, ensure fairness, open up opportunity to all people.”
The speaker is the President of the United States. And I don't think he's wrong in any way. Like the quotation in the header of this blog: Re-stating the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. Too bad our media don't see it that way.

Or maybe it's not that they don't; it's just that they don't include any intelligent men.

[Image source]

Sunday, May 25, 2014

It's Sunday, So...



People are horrible nowadays. In the face of nearly unsolvable problems of our own creation, it's only getting worse. Looking from one vantage point, religion, one can reasonably come to only one of two possible conclusions: There is no god; or, if there is/are, he/she/they/it is/are some combination of cruel and incompetent. Either way it's past time to hit the reset button on how people think about it. It's one thing to hide behind "belief is the opposite of reason," and I get that; but there's just too much to explain away in this world, even for believers in belief, in clinging to the idea that there's one god and he's all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful. Let alone perfect. It matters.

Take the argument recently made to me by a door-knocking J. Witness: everything was perfect until "the fall." Okay, maybe it was. But what does that say about your god? What would you call a parent who punishes his/her child forever and ever because he/she did something you'd forbidden? Something as horrifying, say, as seeking knowledge? And what if that parent brought that punishment down on every subsequent generation, his/her grandkids, great grandkids. The kids of siblings, neighborhood kids, ones who had nothing to do with the original, let's call it, sin? There are many things you might think about that person: Mentally ill, comes to mind. Psychopathic. No one, not even a believer in god, would call that person good or worthy of honor. At minimum, they'd call CPS. Or the cops.

So "good and loving" is simply an untenable characterization; like that despicable theoretical parent, such a god is capricious, vindictive and impossibly cruel. Requires living by a set of rules designed for transgression, created knowing they're impossible to follow by the fallible beings he made that way (our faults can't be a mistake, can they?)

It well may be so. After all, there's plenty of evidence for that sort of god; and damn little for the other kind. Believers should acknowledge they're fine with it, don't mind the contradictions, are okay with the misery he brings down on others, as long as he's nice to them.

If fixing the sorry state of humanity is beyond god's abilities, or if he could but chooses not to, either he's far less than powerful or as far from loving and fair as he could be. Murder, rape, robbery, death of countless children; a political party working on ending charity while lying about their intent; genocide; slavery, trafficking in children. People, in the face of dire problems, and while destroying their gift of a planet, turning to ignorance and magical thinking to excuse inaction. Can't god see how his design is failing? He's a bright guy, right, so surely he can; in which case he's deliberately not redesigning and correcting his errors in making mankind. But oh, some say, how he grieves for us, loves us still. Yeah.

No, he's staying out of it, letting it run its course, that much is clear, and we're left to wonder why. (Let's hope so; otherwise we must conclude he's causing all the mayhem.) Among the answers can NOT be that he loves us. If he "has a plan" for us all, "knows us before we're born," sees our lives play out before we do ourselves, then it HAS to be that he gets some sort of perverse pleasure from watching us fail. Sitting by while countless innocents die painful slow deaths from diseases he cooked up; and from starvation because his perfect creation, humans, made in his image, are (capable of but) unwilling to deal with it. Costs money, after all.

He's looking forward to watching billions boil in brimstone. He's seeing the hate, the ignorance, the destructiveness, and liking it, getting off on it. How else to understand it, if he has the power to change it? We're celestial YouPorn. A snuff film. At least it would make sense. Explain a lot.

Obviously, I'm behind choice #1. It's the only reality that makes sense based on what I see; and it gives me no pleasure, other than that which comes from accepting life as it is. I'm sure I'd enjoy living in blissful denial. Sadly, those that choose the other option are, increasingly, in charge of our country at all levels. That's why I'm writing this. They're killing us by insisting on what clearly is not. They've taken religion far beyond its "intent," for lack of a better word. Rather than a touchstone for their own lives, they insist on forcing it on others as well. To gain favor with a corrupt (or non-existent) god. Or to prevent themselves from dealing with the discomfort of knowing there are others who live differently, lest it cause cracks in their own walls. Or both.

For those who insist on, need, prefer, belief in a higher power, I say, fine. I understand. But, for all of our sakes, I wish they'd accept what's undeniable in that belief: If we're under some sort of higher power, that entity is either not a powerful one or not good one. We got the bad teacher, the bad cop, even if, far as you can tell, he's being nice to you, playing favorites as such bullies often do.

Maybe in some other universe things are different. Maybe in this one this god's parents are about to tell him his science project is failing and make him fix it; point out his terrarium is getting moldy and he needs to take it outside. But for now we're stuck with the one we got. So it's up to everyone to recognize it, and instead of waiting for some sort of paradise in the next life (teacher likes me more than you!), realize we're effectively on our own. If he's "up" there, he checked out of the deity game way long ago.

That, or tell yourself what is, to everyone else looking at it, undeniably true:

"I accept that my claims about god make no sense, but it works for me and allows me to be happy. Therefore, I'll keep my religion to myself and stop trying to validate my beliefs by forcing them on everyone else, and our schools, and our government, and our scientists. I will no longer let the different beliefs or disbeliefs of others threaten my own. What I see through my religion-colored glasses works well enough for me that it doesn't matter if others believe it or not. In fact, I hope they don't: my survival and that of future generations depends on reality-based people who'll keep looking for solutions while I ignore that which causes me fear and discordance." 

Wouldn't it be nice?


Friday, May 23, 2014

Night Is Day, War Is Peace



If the above doesn't validate the point I made in my previous post, nothing does. These people have been played, manipulated to perfection; cynically, destructively, dishonestly... and magnificently. Distracted and deceived into caring more about gay marriage than about discerning who it is that's trying to maintain their social safety net, they've been made blind. It's simply flabbergasting.

And deeply depressing. The cynicism of today's Republican party is exceeded only by its undeniable effectiveness of messaging, of targeting the most vulnerable, convincing them that up is down, getting them to look in the wrong direction, all the time.

It becomes obvious pretty fast that most Americans simply don't know -- and don't care -- about politics. I read stuff all the time; I talk to friends and relatives who are deeply involved and interested. Not all of them agree with me about all things; but we have in common a level of concern and a level of awareness that, it turns out, is decidedly the exception. People reading this (the number rounds off to zero) include some who disagree. But at least they're reading it, at least they actively seek information; and, most certainly, from much more in-depth sources than this pitiful blog.

So it's easy to forget how deliberately and carefully misinformed so many people are. It explains the unexplainable. Republicans of today have succeeded beyond their dreams, in denigrating education, in providing those few seekers of information with distortions and disinformation and making them think it's the truth.

If you consider gay marriage and abortion the worst things that are happening in America, well, at least it makes sense to vote Republican. But to acknowledge the value of social programs and still to vote Republican because you think they're the ones trying to protect them? It's simply unfathomable. But there it is. I really do live in an ivory tower.

What sound does a towel make when thrown from that height?


Monday, May 19, 2014

Stink



Once again, we have reason to note, with rueful admiration, the success of dumbing down America by providing citizens with a steady stream of misinformation, channelled through right-wing media. Today's Republican party is a lot of things -- destructive, obstructionist, hate- and fear-mongering, denialist, science-rejecting, vote-suppressing, education-fearing -- but it isn't inept at seizing on strategy:

... The majority of Americans – depending on which survey you look at, between 60 and 75 percent – cannot name which political party controls the House of Representatives, which party controls the Senate, or either.
Because most Americans don’t know who controls Congress, when Congress misbehaves, as they have been doing for six years, most Americans aren’t sure who to blame. 
Enter the Republican Chaos Strategy, based entirely on this statistical and political reality. 
And common sense suggests that well over 90 percent of Americans know that Barack Obama is the president and that he is a Democrat.
The Republicans know this, too, and it’s the other half of their strategy.
Therefore, what the Republicans know, is that if they can cause damage to the American economy and to American working people, the average voter, not realizing it was exclusively the Republicans who did it, are going to assume that the president – and the Democratic Party he is a member of – must bear some or maybe even all of the responsibility. 
It’s a brilliant strategy: Damage the country and you damage the Democratic Party...
It's been obvious from the evening of Obama's first inauguration, when R leaders got together to map out their strategy for blocking every initiative the president might promote; and, when unable to block, to lie about them.

What sort of people, what sort of political party does this, puts their own political fortunes above those of the country? Deliberately damages the economy, hurts the most vulnerable, damn the consequences to the public weal or the future of our country. Votes. Power. That's what's important. Because the more power they have, the more money they'll reap from the corporatists and oligarchs who pull their strings.

This weekend somewhat fewer than the proclaimed thirty million Obama-hating patriots (the number rounds off near to zero) came to D.C. to regain control of "their" country. I wonder if any of them took the time to look around at what's really happening; and, if so, whether they were able to process what's obvious to anyone paying attention, looking through a lens not clouded by Foxolimbeckian propaganda.

Today's Republican party is literally (yep, that's the word) destroying America (those are the words, too). And they're not doing it in some mistaken ideological belief that they're doing the right thing; it's not just some blind following of pre-failed policies (although it's most certainly that, too.) It's deliberate strategy, the most cynical display of malfeasance and mendacity possible. They WANT to harm the country, to prevent President Obama, or Democrats, to get any credit for anything good.

It's as obvious as the stink of an open sewer.

[Image source]

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fox, Jumping



As I wrote, Karl Rove says "jump" and Fox "news" asks for directions to the outhouse, takes off its shoes, and jumps in with both feet. (The link is to a video which wouldn't embed. Watch it.)

Message to their viewers: they think you're stupid. Even their so-called actual half-intelligent "newsguy" defends the low-stooping. What will it take to notice, and prove them wrong? More than this, obviously. And more than this. And this. This. Or this.

I could go on, half past forever. Would it matter to their viewers? Hell no. Why? Because that's why the watch it. They're getting exactly what they came for.

Sobering







The above are from this one of many videos I've been watching in a course on climate change. Given the carbon we've already introduced into the atmosphere and the ocean, even if we virtually stopped tomorrow, we're committed to seeing very significant and damaging continued warming. And as long as US policy is driven and/or blocked by teabagging right wingers in Congress, the prospects of doing that are nil.

Plus we face the irony that warming is being mitigated by the reflective effects of otherwise intolerably dangerous pollution.

And if that makes you feel bad, then you may not want to watch this one.



I guess we can only hope that other countries aren't as stupid as exceptional we are and that between their own reductions and their willingness to spend time and money on finding better solutions, we'll be taken along for the ride.

Meanwhile, wisely, people are thinking -- given the inevitability of continued very significant warming -- about adaptation.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rove Does What He Does



There are lots of reasons why I'd like to see Hillary Clinton be president, and several why I wouldn't. Among the latter is the dynasty thing (gods save us from another Clinton - Bush race!) and the fact that, at least in terms of domestic policy, I might prefer Elizabeth Warren. But the worst aspect of it would be the inevitable disgusting campaign the Rs, already stirring the pot and tossing offal into it with their latest Benghazi rehash of the already hashed, will produce. I really don't think I could stand it. Because, as we've seen, there's no depth below which they wouldn't sink, and no amount of horrible that would eventually turn off their electorate. 

And it's already begun:

According to the New York Post's Page Six, Republican strategist Karl Rove suggested last week that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have sustained brain damage after suffering a blood clot in her skull.
... 
"Thirty days in the hospital?" Rove said, according to Page Six. "And when she reappears, she's wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what's up with that.” 
Clinton's doctors, however, debunked Rove's theory long ago. Prior to her release from the hospital in January 2013, Clinton's physicians at a New York hospital said the clot did not cause Clinton to suffer a stroke, and did not result in any neurological damage...
Karl Rove is the turd blossom in the punchbowl, today's Republican Party ideal: a deliberate and unrepentant liar willing to stoop as low as his porotic back will allow, to whom, in the game of politics no tactic is off limits; even, famously, suggesting John McCain had a bastard half-black child when his svengalized manchild GWB was running against him. A regular godhead on Fox "news." Disgraced, discredited in the eyes of normal people, making him even more lionized by the right, who prefer their facts hand-made and favorable, true or not.

I know it's selfish of me, but I hope she doesn't run. I'm already chronically depressed by our political scene. If Hillary Clinton runs, the right-wing media machine will make Karl Rove seem like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, and I'm pretty sure I couldn't stand it.

(Just noticed Charlie's on it, too; and, as usual, more incisively and entertainingly.)

[Image source]

Because They're Selfish


Oh, come on, Andy. It's not that hard to figure out is it?

Monday, May 12, 2014

He's Ready



In the title of the article, the words "Yes, I'm ready to be president" are attributed to Marco Rubio. Then he opened his mouth, and this came out:
Sen. Marco Rubio Expresses Skepticism Over Ability to Reverse Changing Climate 
Rubio — who expressed deep skepticism about whether man-made activity has played a role in the Earth’s changing climate — told Karl he doesn’t believe there is action that could be taken right now that would have an impact on what’s occurring with our climate. 
“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it … and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy,” he said. 
In a world where sanity ruled and reality-testing was considered important, where expertise was valued and denialism was scorned, this would immediately make clear that whatever else he's ready for, being president ain't on the list and never will be.

I sure wish I lived in that world. There was a time when I thought I did.

(Maybe laughing about it is all that's left. So there's this.)

[Image source]

Tom Tomorrow


Entire cartoon here.

How Low Can They Go?



This guy is a popular right-wing blogger. Quoted and featured frequently on Fox "news." And this -- is there a more descriptive word than scumbag in this case? -- creature, this lionized leader of the left-haters, has this to say about those kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls:

Sorry Libs, The Schoolgirls Have Already Been Sold, Put on Canoes and Shipped to Chad
So good luck bringing “our girls” back.You’re too late.
There's simply no equivalent of such disgusting behavior on the left. And if there is, in some greasy corner of the internet, he's certainly not given the sort of soapbox this toxic sludge is. Any chance to denigrate liberals. Any chance to mock the President of The United States of America or, in this particular case, his wife (go to the link if you must.)

And if it's true, which it is, that such lowlifes will always be with us, what bothers me even more, by far, is the voters that empower such people, who follow their lead, who listen to the propagandists on Fox and on the rest of their polluted founts and think they're being given the truth; and then, knowing that this is what their side does even in the halls of Congress, keeps electing them anyway. And they call themselves Christians. Why, if they really are, haven't they risen up en masse and demanded better? Stopped giving validation to abominations like this? Are there no responsible conservatives any more? Ones with morals in action instead of in words declaiming their virtue?

This guy gives buckets of slime a bad name. (And not just him, of course. And more.) Gloating. Because innocent school girls have been kidnapped and liberals are trying to do something, anything, even just expressing hope. Finding it amusing that the girls might be gone forever. For wanting to learn. Mocking liberals for caring. Maybe he was born that way, maybe his parents abandoned him under a bridge somewhere, someone found him, brought him back, and they slammed the door on them. Maybe he got bullied by his sister. Explanation, not excuse.

But those on his side of the aisle who don't shout him down as the despicable subhuman he is, who vote for their Bachmanns, Gohmerts, Palins, Brouns. Who listen to Rush and Glenn and Sean and Ann and Laura and keep them on the air. What's their excuse?

(Added: and, like the rest of his ilk, on whatever subject they choose to effluviate, he's wrong.)

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Funny, Huh?


Whoa. Health Is Healthy!



Until the inevitable (if we still exist by then) change to universal single-payer, I'll continue to believe our health care system, with its unnecessary and indefensible dependence on insurance companies, makes no sense. The Affordable Care Act does nothing to change my mind; but at least it's provided millions of people with access to health care that was previously unobtainable.

And -- stop the presses!! -- it turns out that access to health care improves health. Yes, in Massachusetts, home of the Republican plan of mandatory coverage on which the ACA was based, health has improved since its implementation. Boy, who could have predicted that?

And yet Congressional Republicans and their mouthpieces on the air and their purposefully misguided followers would rid us of the Act, returning us to the days of recent yesteryear, with no alternatives in mind. Why? How can that be? What is is about providing access to health care that they find so appalling?

Oh. Yeah. The ACA, unlike Bush's Medicare Part D (and his wars) is paid for. There you go! Paid for. Spending money on people other than oneself. There's the rub. Rubublicans.

We're truly in an Orwellian world, where truth is fiction and lies are truth. And now -- not that it's news -- there's the latest report on the devastation already occurring because of manmade climate change. To which Republicans would have us respond by doing nothing. By lying about it. By calling Obama's efforts at mitigation nothing more than "a war on coal." It's literally sickening.

Foxophiles, far more than any group, in addition to their hatred of affordable health care for anyone but themselves, disbelieve in climate change, while considering their favored "news" source fair and balanced. Using that very term, even as it was made up for them. Flushed down their brains by Fox. Believed because they say so. Against all evidence. To their and our detriment. But, of course, to the undeniable benefit of their corporate Koch-loving sponsors.

We are truly become a nation of idiots. How blind do they have to be before they notice they're walking off a cliff?

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rhodies



I think that's about as good as they can get...

Revelatory



Interesting, isn't it, that in Georgia's new "guns anywhere and everywhere" law, which allows them in bars, churches, schools, and most government buildings, the one exception is the state capitol where those who wrote the law work.

I wonder what their explanation is. I wonder how whatever rationalization they offer applies only to them. And I can't think of any answer that doesn't pretty much make the insanity of the law self-evident, and show those lawmakers to be the worst sort of hypocrites.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Speaking Of Supreme Court Activism...


According to the article from which the above is taken, both sides do it. But, clearly, those right wing, lying, activist, "Originalists" do it more: rationalize their rulings to fit their personal leanings. The current crop of self-righteous "referees, calling balls and strikes," as John "I'll do as I do, not as I say" Roberts would have us believe, are by far the worst offenders. Is anyone surprised?

Like the politicians and oligarchs whose interests they represent, the last thing on their mind is following the law as originally intended, or concern for the welfare of anyone but themselves and those with whom they agree.

[And then there's guys like this, who make the S.C. judges seem like Solomon. (Although I'd bet what's left of my left nut that Scalia and the rest of the fanatical four agree with him entirely.)]


Supreme Stupidity



This is the kind of shit that drives me crazy:

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the 5-to-4 decision, said “ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define.” (Italics mine.)
He's talking about the decision to allow prayer at government meetings. And it's not the prayer, per se, that bugs me so, although it most certainly does. It's that sort of rationalization, posing as judicial review. Posing as impartial interpretation of the Constitution. It's clearly true that "many Americans deem..." yada yada. But in what way does that justify nullifying separation? Why is that argument, so often made by so many, deserving of deference by the highest court in the land? And isn't the fact that it's "many" but not "all" Americans that so believe the exact point of the First Amendment, and the very reason why his argument makes no sense? Jesus Christ on a waffle! The highest court in the land. Give me a break!!

I've long since thrown in the mental towel: this country is headed, inevitably, toward theocracy; and it's because people have, in effect, thrown in their mental towels, too. They've given up trying. The problems we face are too big, too hard, too complex for a dumbed-down nation of deniers. How much easier to resort to magical beliefs and pretense. Let's just pray it away. And if that doesn't work, at least we prayed, right, so we should be good when we arrive at the gates. Right?

And I've long since recognized that our so-called "originalists" on the Court are anything but. Following their usual game plan in all matters, rightists complain about liberal "judicial activism" as a way to disguise their own far more outrageous transgressions.

I grew up in a family of lawyers and judges. My dad was everyone's idea of what a judge ought to be: a follower of the law, even when he disagreed with it. A believer that it's not up to judges to change the law; that that's the job of legislators.

When our Supreme Court predictably splits along 5-4 lines on nearly every major decision, it becomes clear there's no such thing as fixed intent of the Constitution. Judicial activism has become SOP for the right, their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

Using the sort of justification that Kennedy did in this opinion is a travesty.

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Friday, May 2, 2014

Bundamentalism



I'd hope that most sentient beings can agree that, regardless of what they might think of the Cliven Bundy Foxaganza, and of the people flocking to support him, with guns, threats, and illegal checkpoints on public roads, the term "patriot" applies to them like "gasoline" applies to "fire suppressant." Let's agree on that much. A guy who denies the legitimacy of the US government ain't no patriot, even if he, without irony, horses around like John Wayne, flying the US flag. People threatening US Senators with physical harm ain't no patriots. Armed jagoffs stopping citizens on public roads and demanding ID ain't patriots. That they think they are only underscores the insanity of it all.

So if we might agree on that much, the question remains: what, exactly, are they? Delusional, without doubt. Missing the "at least be consistent" gene, undeniably. But what sort of people do what they're doing? What are they thinking?

Clearly, they're heroes to themselves. Lying behind concrete with their rifles at the ready, all aimed and trusty, it must be uncomfortable on their bellies with their presumed hards-on (although we might suppose that those same guns might be a reaction to a certain, uh, anatomic inadequacy, so I could be wrong about the pain.) Tough, and safe. Fearless, with nothing to fear. Without fear of having to prove it, they claim willingness to die for whatever cause it is they think they're there for: the rights of people to pick and choose which laws to follow. The right to ignore judicial rulings at will, in direct violation of the most fundamental basis at the very heart of the constitutional democracy for which they proclaim dying love, despite understanding it not one bit.

Do they really wish to become martyrs? Are they hoping for a shooting confrontation with US troops? Guys who reportedly planned to use the wimmenfolk as human shields? Kinda doubt it. And what, we must wonder, do they see as the ultimate outcome of such an event? Public outcry leading to revolution? Of what sort? To achieve what kind of government? What's the philosophical basis of it, and the historical reasons to believe it'd be workable? Or is it just about playing doctor and going home for dinner?

More than that, though, at what point should the US government begin to consider these guys more than laughable? How many people setting up how many roadblocks should it take before direct action ought to be taken? It's not an easy call. In fact, given the evangelicaliztion of the military and the undisguised hatred of our president among many of its leaders, ought one to consider the possibility of refusal of orders to intervene?

Seriously. The one thing the crazies have going for them is that Obama isn't crazy. They must be pretty sure they can huff and puff with no consequences. After all, it's not like they're Kent State students peacefully protesting a war. They're patriots. Other than its laws and the system by which they get put in place, and the document on which the process is based, and more than half the people that live in it, they loves them some America.

I have no answers to the preceding questions. But I think it's about more than the specifics of Bundy and those misguided (generously) militiamen. I'm torn between laughing and crying, between thinking it's a meaningless aberration with no long term consequences, and seeing it as a sign of the coming politiclypse, cheered on by Fox "news" and right-wing screamers who have no idea of the damage they're doing, nor ability to see beyond their primordial midbrain reaction to Barack Hussein Obama, to the undemocratic and unAmerican contradictions at the center of their positions.

Potentially, these self-described protectors of America -- the many people like them and supportive of them, anyway -- are the ones who'll finally, and irreversibly, bring it all down.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

More Reasons To Hate



The stuff in the previous post is, of course, small potatoes. Unless it works, and gets a Republican senate majority. This stuff, about which I've railed for mostly ever and which, as usual, Charles P Pierce does much better than me, is big and starchy, though:

Of all the examples of conservatives and their vandalism that we've seen since the inauguration of the Kenyan Usurper, their performance on infrastructure repair is the most delicate mixture of negligence and hypocrisy that they yet have produced. Everybody in Congress knows that the country is falling apart. Hell, everybody who drives knows the country is falling apart. (There have been landslides in Baltimore and in Yonkers over the last few days because it rained really hard.) Everybody in Washington knows that a massive infrastructure improvement program would stimulate the economy and provide thousands of jobs. And to talk about repairing our existing infrastructure is not even to mention the necessity of improving that infrastructure to cope with the continuing challenges presented by the Great Climate Change Hoax, which adds a soupcon of anti-intellectualism to the steaming cauldron of Stupid. Consequently, everybody in Washington knows the bill is going nowhere, so nobody pays attention to it, and the actual problem thereby gets shoved under the rug again until a sinkhole in Council Bluffs swallows a busload of nuns.
The last thing Congressional Rs want is economic recovery, because Obama. Screw us all. It's not about us or our future; it's about them, and their present(s). The second to last thing they want is to raise the revenue to pay for anything; and the first thing they do want is lower taxes on themselves and their rich friends and corporate sponsors, at the expense of everything everyone besides them needs.

Is there a word stronger than "hate"?

If so, might it also apply to the Congressional R view of everyone outside their inner circle?

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Your Leaders At Work


Hate is a strong word, but I'm really starting to that word these guys
Republican strategists say the more dramatic moments in the hearings, where Burwell will face a litany of tough questions from Republican lawmakers, could yield rich material for television ads and social media campaigns. 
"Ultimately, it may be Republicans' only opportunity, certainly before the end of the summer and maybe before the election, to have a senior administration official available to answer these questions," said Lanhee Chen, who advised Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on domestic policy during the 2012 campaign. 
One Republican aim is to trip up the 48-year-old White House budget director and force embarrassing slip under the glare of the televised proceedings.
"One gaffe and they lose the news cycle," a Republican Party strategist said.
They're talking about upcoming confirmation hearings for our president's nominee to run HHS. Not interested, are they, in the job at hand. Or in providing useful alternatives or improvements to the Affordable Care Act. Only lying, they are, and attempting to score political points, caring not at all about the health of the nation. Which, of course, describes in full the entirely of Republican legislative efforts at the national level. (Local level: something else altogether, where they're deadly serious about destroying democracy by voter suppression, public education destruction, health care denial, and theocratization.) Yeah, sure, just business as usual. What's new? Nothing. And it never will be.

News cycle. Of such concerns is great work born.

Yes, yes, I can hear you, when I use the word "hate." You're asking, "What took you so long?"

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Budget Goodness

My upcoming newspaper column: Reading their budget and health care solutions has changed my mind about Donald Trump and the people in c...