Friday, July 31, 2009


In today's column, Peggy Noonan imagines Richard Nixon talking to modern Republicans:

" ...they are tagging you as guys who think this is all just about politics.... stop the 'Obama's Waterloo' stuff -- what a mistake that was, to make yourselves look cynical and purely partisan! -- and refocus. Come back to first principles and prudent warnings, but always within a context of clear patriotism. At the end of the day, America needs a successful president. It's dangerous to have a wounded duck six months into a presidency in a dangerous world. So help him by gently instructing him. He'll hate that, because in his mind he's the teacher and you're the student. Point out that there's a lot the president doesn't understand, come forward every day with your ideas, talk them up, get them out there...."'

Um, really, Peggy? Nixon would urge Republicans to be nice? And constructive? Yes, he was a great believer in co-opting liberal and moderate ideas -- in a country that had seemed to favor them for nearly forty years. In a country shaped by Reagan, Atwater, Limbaugh, Gingrich, and Murdoch, do you really think he'd be like that? I think he'd say, "Go for the kill! Hit 'em even harder!" (Never mind what he'd think about Obama's ancestry.)

Noonan also imagines FDR talking to Obama:

"My friend, you're in a bit of a fix. Falling polls, decreasing support for health care. Beyond that, you're stuck in a bit of a lose-lose. If you don’t get a bill along the lines you've announced, you'll look ineffective and weak --a loser. If, on the other hand, you win, if you get what you asked for, it will all be a mess and all be on you. The system will be overwhelmed, the government won't be able to execute properly, the costs will be huge...."

That's right -- in Noonan's fantasy, FDR was against large government programs.

Yeah, that makes sense.

(To give her her due, though, Noonan's FDR does seem to be in favor of Medicare for All -- and it seems as if Noonan likes the idea, too. Who knew? But she also thinks Republicans would go along with a changeover to Medicare for All -- or at least her imagined FDR thinks they would. Er, no. Unlike Noonan, FDR didn't live in a dream world.)

By now you've probably seen the results of a new Research 2000/Daily Kos poll that shows widespread recognition of the fact that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii ... except in certain groups. As Steve Benen notes,

Only 4% of Democrats are confused about the president's place of birth. The number is slightly higher among independents, 8% of whom got it wrong. Among Republicans, though, 28% -- more than one in four -- believe President Obama was not born in the United States.

... In the Northeast, West, and Midwest, the overwhelming majorities realize the president is a native-born American. But notice the South -- only 47% got it right and 30% are unsure.

Politico's Glenn Thrush adds another bit of demographic analysis -- but I'm not sure even this isolates the problem completely:

Birther sentiment was strongest in the South and among the 60-plus crowd - presumably because seniors can't log on to the Internet and rely on rumor, word of mouth and right-wing talk radio.

Leaving aside the question of whether the Internet is the solution or the problem here (I think, in part, it's both), seniors aren't the only age group with a disproportionate share of birthers. Check these numbers out (reading across: age, yes, no, not sure):

18-29 88 4 8
30-44 72 14 14
45-59 82 8 10
60+ 69 17 14

So 4% of under-30s are birthers, as are 8% of (roughly speaking) baby boomers, and a much higher 17% of 60+ers. But what's that 14% of the 30-44 crowd doing in there? And the additional 14% who aren't sure? Why does birtherism go down among the non-elderly, then go back up in that age range?

That's the group I think of as Reagan Youth.

Here's how you can tell if you're in the Reagan Youth demographic: if you were young and impressionable in 1986, when the Challenger blew up -- if, in particular, you sat in a classroom and watched that twinkly-eyed old man on TV reassuring you (as he reassured you so many times, particularly with things he knew that just weren't so) -- you're in the Reagan Generation.

The 30-44 crowd was born between 1964-65 and 1978-79 -- which means most were just the right age to remember the ol' tale-spinner on TV from childhood. That's when far too many of them learned that myths, not facts, are what count.

Far more of those folks believe in the birther fairytale than do people slightly older or slightly younger. I'm not surprised.

I know this isn't helpful, but here goes: I think sitting Skip Gates and James Crowley down for a beer at a picnic table on the White House lawn, out of earshot (to protect privacy) but in view of massive numbers of reporters (to maximize voyeurism), was like a non-giddy version of something Michael Scott would dream up on The Office -- a convoluted response to a problem that doesn't function in any way as an actual solution, but instead forces the participants to endure a long stretch of painful awkwardness.

Or another way of looking at it: it didn't look like a profound meeting of former adversaries brought together by a wise national leader. It looked like an outdoor version of high school detention, or traffic school, or some mediation imposed by HR. All the talk about "teachable moments" made Obama seem like a well-intentioned but oblivious bureacrat who overestimates the "character-building" nature of a process the participants find embarrassing and wish were over soon.

How did this happen? Who the hell kidnapped Barack Obama and replaced him with an impostor who actively seeks drama and has no common sense or political savvy?

With regard to the press conference answer that started all this, I keep thinking of Jon Stewart's slo-mo movie reaction (it starts at about 6:00 in the clip) --- NOOOOOOO! I couldn't save him! Gates was clearly arrested for the non-crime of contempt of cop -- but what does the president of the United States accomplish by pointing that out, except pissing off people who think contempt of cop ought to be an arrestable offense, for all civilians or maybe just the darker-hued (or hoity-toity, or darker-hued and hoity-toity) ones? (Yes, I know -- who cares about those jerks? Well, some of them are Democrats. Some of them voted for Obama. And most of them think they believe in unthinking deference to cops as a universal principle, whether or not they really do.) Was Obama right? It doesn't matter. If he were interceding in response to a miscarriage of justice in progress, fine -- but he wasn't. This was just a needless risk of political capital -- and he doesn't have nearly as much to spend as he did a few months ago.

After the press conference, Obama should have unambiguously walked the word "stupidly" back and dropped the matter -- or just dropped the matter. No beer gathering -- or, if there was going to be one, it should have been completely off-limits to the press. No parading of these guys before the cameras. (Sorry -- the press may be to blame for obsessing over this story, but Obama's to blame for feeding them the junk food they crave.)

The latest Pew poll says this story is hurting Obama with white voters -- and I'm sorry, but he needs their support if he wants to get anything done:

Analysis of the poll data found that the president's approval ratings fell among non-Hispanic whites over the course of the interviewing period as the focus of the Gates story shifted from details about the incident to Obama's remarks about the incident. Interviews Wednesday and Thursday of last week found 53% of whites approving of Obama's job performance. This slipped to 46% among whites interviewed Friday through Sunday as the Gates story played out across the nation.

Well, it's over. And not soon enough. Back to work.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Media Matters has a recap of this week's racist outbursts from Glenn Beck, and it's quite a list. Obama has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Obama "has real issues with race." Obama engages in racial "intimidation, vilification, bullying." There are multiple comments about "reparations." And on and on.

But I'd add this bit from yesterday's Beck TV show to the list, even though everyone in the clip is white. See, it's about that scary black organization ACORN -- or, rather, about the former chief organizer of ACORN, a white guy named Wade Rathke, who is allegedly (as this American Spectator blog post puts it) "plotting America's downfall(!!!!!):

You see, Rathke used to be at ACORN ... but he's still a union organizer at SEIU ... and SEIU is affiliated with HCAN ... (or ACORN is affiliated with ACORN, I forget which) ... which links to the Obama-linked Organizing for America ... which all links to the Obama health plan ... which means Negroes are taking over health care!!!!

Beck brings all this out in a discussion with an anti-ACORN blogger named Kyle Olson, who recounts an ambush interview he conducted with Wade Rathke at a book signing. This segues into a discussion of Rathke's desire to help all the eligible people in America get all the social-service benefits they're entitled to, an idea that horrifies Beck. We're told (and now I'm going to link you to a David Horowitz site for background) that this is an idea that goes back to certain 1960s social-science writings: if the poor do this, it will be revolutionary. And America will be destroyed. (Or something like that.)

Now, here's the thing: This idea emerged more than forty years ago. If believers in this notion didn't manage to stick it to The Man with a welfare "army" in the '60s and '70s, they bloody well aren't going to stick it to The Man now. Not at the behest of an aging organizer (who, as it tuerns out, doesn't even seem to be talking about sticking it to The Man, just getting people benefits they're entitled do).

But that's not how Beck and his interviewee see it:

WADE RATHKE (on tape): Everything else we do with computers. Why can't we automatically enroll people that are eligible?

GLENN BECK: OK, so what is this?

KYLE OLSON: Well, he's talking about overthrowing the system, basically -- overwhelming the system. And in [his] book, in his new book,
Citizen Wealth, he talks about calling for troops in the 21st century war on poverty.

BECK: Wait a minute -- what does he mean by "troops"? Is this kind of the idea that we talked about the other day, that Obama is talking about? Does he mention Americorps in there?

OLSON: He mentions Americorps, he mentions church groups, he mentions community groups -- which I'm guessing is ACORN.

BECK: So church groups --
(sarcastically) I'm guessing it's just like your grandma's church. Or Jeremiah Wright's church. I'm not sure which one he would be talking about would be an army. Does he refer to it as an army, or troops, in the book?

OLSON: He refers to troops and soldiers.


This is what Beck's telling people -- all because an ex-ACORN guy with old-school lefty ideas can be linked to health reform by playing Six Degrees. This is what Beck's scaring the rubes with. And it's racist even if race isn't mentioned once.


(If you want Wade Rathke's side of this, here's the Amazon page for his book and here's his own blog post about the Kyle Olson interview and the Beck segment.)

This Fox story is on the radar of Michelle Malkin, The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb and the religious-right Alliance Defense Fund (as well as, naturally, Fox Nation), so I suspect it might set off the next right-wing hissyfit:

... The NEA was given $80 million of the government's $787 billion economic stimulus bill to spread around to needy artists nationwide....

But some of the NEA's grants are spicing up more than the economy. A few of their more risque choices have some taxpayer advocates hot under the collar, including a $50,000 infusion for the Frameline film house, which recently screened Thundercrack, "the world's only underground kinky art porno horror film, complete with four men, three women and a gorilla."

... the director of Frameline, the gay and lesbian film house, told in an e-mail that their $50,000 grant was not to support any program in particular.

"The grant is not intended for a specific program; it's to be used for the preservation of jobs at our media arts nonprofit organization over the next year during the economic downturn," wrote K.C. Price...

I've never seen Thundercrack!, but it gets compared to the work of John Waters, who used to put real sex in his movies but wasn't making porn.

Maybe money's tight now, but in the Bush years -- even as the administration was running up huge deficits -- Frameline got quite a few grants. There was one in 2002 that supported "a film series sponsored by Modern Masters of Lesbian and Gay Cinema on filmmakers who influenced homosexual media in the past 25 years." There was a grant in 2004 for a lecture series on gay film, and another one in 2005 for a curated film series called Open Screen. For 2006, there was a grant to support a conference called Persistent Vision:

I don't recall complaints about any of that Bush-era money. But a Democrat is in the White House and Republicans have no actual ideas right now, so they're in all-attack-dog, all-the-time mode. This was inevitable, I suppose.

Frameline did receive NEA grants in 1988 (yes, when Saint Ronnie was president!), 1989, 1990, and 1991 (yes, under Poppy Bush, too) -- but its grant was held up for a while in 1992 (the last time Republicans were this unpopular) after complaints from Jesse Helms and the Reverend Donald Wildmon. The grant eventually went through, as did others in the Clinton years and, as noted, in the W years.

But Republicans are fresh out of ideas. So it's time to attack gay NEA grants again.


MORE: I don't want to give the impression that Frameline is the only recipient that has right-wingers' knickers in a twist. Here's another:

Stimulus money help fund the weekly production of "Perverts Put Out" at San Francisco's CounterPULSE, whose "long-running pansexual performance series" invites guests to "join your fellow pervs for some explicit, twisted fun."

Shocking! ... Er, except for the fact that NEA money was also given to CounterPULSE by the Bush administration in 2007, and Perverts Put Out was on offer then, too. I suspect I could do this all day.

News from Georgia:

Two DeKalb County Officers are being investigated for allegedly performing a background check on President Barack Obama.

They have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation....

The United States Secret Service notified county officials that DeKalb County computer equipment was utilized to do a query on the President....


A representative for the DeKalb County CEO’s office identified the officers as Ryan White and C.M. Route.

Officials said Obama’s name was typed into a computer inside a DeKalb County police car on July 20 and ran through the National Crime Information Center....

It is unclear why the officers ran a check on the president.

Oh, I think it's perfectly clear. The officers are great lovers of America -- the "real" America they hear about every day from Fox and talk radio and GOP politicians, not, you know, the one temporarily enduring the illegitimate rule of a commie fascist who's lying about his birthplace and who was installed by ACORN vote fraud. The cops are the real patriots, you see. They're the ones protecting the real America from the peril of what the sheeple foolishly see as a legitimately elected government.

We've known the answer for a couple of days, but Lucianne Goldberg's site offers an alternate theory today:

Yeah, she went there.

I'm sure Justin Barrett thinks that's a real knee-slapper.


And speaking of Justin Barrett: he's been suspended by the Boston Police Department and the Massachusetts National Guard for writing an e-mail (full text here) that repeatedly refers to Henry Louis Gates as a "jungle monkey" (in one case as a "banana-eating jungle monkey").

Who do you think will be the first right-winger to argue that we shouldn't consider it an insult to call Gates a "jungle monkey" because we liberals believe in evolution?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


According to this site, there's going to be a "Worldwide Day of Prayer to Heal Trig Palin."

(That's the bumper sticker -- it's $4.49.)

The people who run the site say they're "tired of the media attacks on Trig Palin." And they think anyone who thinks God doesn't answer prayers is a dirty atheist. So they've chosen next April 18 (Trig's birthday) as a day of prayer.

They're not doing very well so far -- the prayer team has only seven or eight people, and they've had some nasty commenters and problems with their Web site:

The main site is hosted by a friend who found Satan moving upon his heart and failed to resist. He suddenly decided that he would rather not host the site after all. I'm praying for him, and hope you will, too.

But that's not all Satan had in store! He's definitely afraid that people will see God's Majesty displayed, and will turn to Him and away from perversion, fornication, and false religions!

In attempts to relocate the main site, things aren't routing properly. The hosting company is now looking into it, because the problem doesn't make sense. So, my friend is hosting it until the relocation is straightened out.

Expect a few more days of trouble with the main site until it is fixed, and accept my apologies!

....Good news!

The hosting company was able to "force" the fix, and now the site is at its permanent location!

No more downtime! Glory!

Wow! Can a miracle cure for Trig be far behind?

Look, I'm being snarky, but I don't really want to interfere with what these people are doing. They seem harmless. But really -- if you actually believe God might someday cure someone's Down's syndrome, wouldn't it be better to cure it in someone who has a family that's overworked and not wealthy, rather than the son of a woman with no job and a multimillion-dollar book deal?

I said in an earlier post that the GOP thinks ratcheting up racism is entirely consistent with winning at the polls, even in an Obama world. In the comments to that post, aimai argues that the Republicans might not even be trying to do better at the polls -- and might not need to:

I wonder if we shouldn't be looking at all this as a kind of "virtual voter" strategy in which the actual interests and the real person of the voter is becoming less and less important to the Republican party. Under Bush, at the national level, and under the current disorganized party they really don't need all that many actual representatives to wreak havoc on society and pay off their corporate owners. There's absolutely nothing in it for individual republicans to increase market share for the party as a whole. Their position as receivers of graft and favors from monied interests is actually enhanced by their inability to govern, but their ability to block progressive governance. And of course that is true for the Blue dogs as well.

Under this scenario the crazier and weirder the base gets the better it is for those who reprsent their districts because it means they get returned to a lopsided congress/senate in which they need do nothing but bargain and negate progressive legislation. In fact I doubt if the owners really even need to pay for a majority republican/right wing/blue dog majority as long as they can parlay very small numbers into obstructionism. I mean, isn't this exactly what has happened to California under its 2/3 majority for budgeting?

That might be much smarter than my theory. The Republicans who still hold office stay in office -- but they never actually have to accomplish anything, because they're at no risk of ever having to govern. All they have to do is stand athwart liberalism and centrism shouting "No!" That's worth it for their fat-cat donors; that basically preserves a Reaganite/Bushite world; and they keep getting reelected because they're in crazy-base districts, and the continued (apparent) dominance of the Democrats keeps the baseheads in a constant state of apocalyptic panic.

Maybe it's a brilliant plan.

So Glenn Beck said that President Obama has "a deep-seated hatred for white people" -- and it seems to me that Chuck Todd thinks the blame lies with Arianna Huffington:

NBC's Chuck Todd goes off on Glenn Beck on First Read today, but his real targets are Ailes and Huffington: "Former political consultants-turned-TV execs or former radio DJs, or former California socialites, the folks helping to accelerate the public's perception of the media off a cliff [are people who] made their livings trying to do other things."

The full Todd:

*** On The Glen Becks And Howard Beales: The White House doesn't want to give Glen Beck a bigger platform or extra oxygen -- especially regarding his remark yesterday that the president has "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture" -- so they won't comment, even off record. Beck, after all, is a radio DJ who somehow ended up getting a national platform to give his opinion on politics. What's most amazing about this episode is that what Beck said isn't a fireable or even a SUSPENDABLE offense by his bosses. There was a time when outrageous rants like this would actually cost the ranters their jobs. But not anymore; if anything, it's now encouraged. And all of this could turn ACTUAL journalists into the next Howard Beales. It's getting nuts that the folks who are creating the perception of an ideological/polarized media world are people who have never really spent their lives being journalists. Whether it's former political consultants-turned-TV execs or former radio DJs, or former California socialites, the folks helping to accelerate the public's perception of the media off a cliff made their livings trying to do other things. Of course, Beck's crazy language could have one unintended consequence: It could cost him bookings with any Republicans who want to be popular outside Beck's hard-core bizarro-land viewers.

OK, Todd isn't literally blaming Huffington -- but, being an ACTUAL journalist, he's carefully blaming both sides, not because both sides are equally guilty of having a top-rated pundit doing racist rants on TV without suffering consequences, but because, well, that's how ACTUAL journalists routinely respond to controversies like this (or at least how they respond when a correct assessment of blame would put all of the blame on the right; this is reminiscent of the many stories that ran in 1988 with references to negative attacks "by both campaigns," the two campaigns in question being the viciously racist Bush/Atwater/Floyd Brown campaign and the non-vicious, non-racist, utterly toothless Dukakis campaign, which occasionally said something vaguely negative).

Beyond that, this is a ridiculous not-our-kind-Muffy attack on Fox -- which is, after all the brainchild of Rupert Murdoch, a second-generation newspaperman who's been in the business since 1953. Is Todd seriously arguing that Murdoch is a hands-off guy, or that he doesn't quite know where seasoned veterans of the Fifth Estate would draw the line?

And while we're on the subject, what outsiders are responsible for the continued employment by Todd's own bosses at NBC of Pat Buchanan? Why haven't his rants cost him his job, Chuck?


Oh, and Roger Ailes actually began working in television about forty years ago, though he spent a lot of the intervening years working for politicians. He's been doing the kind of work he does now nonstop since 1992.

In my last post I noted that GOP mouthpieces -- Glenn Beck, the editorial page of Investor's Business Daily -- are describing health-care reform as "reparations." I see now that Republicans are ratcheting up racial hostility on several fronts, and what I cited was just the tip of the iceberg.

* After only one GOP senator on the Judiciary Committee voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor (remember when many people thought she'd get at least 70 votes?), Rachel Maddow last night was the latest to note that every one of the Republicans invited to address the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza refused to do so, and turned down the invitation via the national GOP. (In the past, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, and John McCain have all addressed the group, although Congressman Tom Tancredo called it "a Latino KKK" a couple of months ago.)

* Beck stoked more racial anger on Fox News yesterday, saying:

This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture.

* Rush Limbaugh has been cranking up the rhetoric at every opportunity -- in just one day he called Henry Louis Gates "an angry racist" and claimed that he had a dream in which he "was a slave building a sphinx in a desert that looked like Obama." He and Beck feature prominently in this video:

This is clearly the party line right now.*

But isn't this a terrible strategy for the GOP? Isn't the population becoming less white? Isn't the white population becoming less racist, as evidenced by the success of a black presidential candidate?

Well, it's possible that the GOP isn't looking any further than the 2010 election. It's going to be a midterm election, and Barack Obama won't be on the ballot. If whites -- especially angry whites -- make up a greater percentage of the 2010 electorate, the Republicans assume they'll win. It's the Pat Buchanan strategy.

But don't voters, even angry white voters, want actual solutions to America's problems, not angry rhetoric? I think Republicans are skeptical of that conventional wisdom. They clearly don't feel the need to present a health-care plan of their own -- why would they think they need to present solutions to any of the nation's other problems? Look: it's a two-party system. If you get enough people angry at Obama and the Democrats, where are they going to go? They don't really have a hell of a lot of choices.

Regarding Hispanics, Republicans clearly feel they can't pursue the Bush-Rove strategy of outreach -- sooner or later it would require them to have a policy on immigration other than "Deport 'em all and seal the borders." And any deviation from that infuriates the base.

And GOP outreach to African-Americans never works (for reasons that seem to baffle Republicans).

So the strategy is: make Obama and the Democrats unpopular, keep the base fired up and donating, and then be the only alternative.


*AND JUST TO CLARIFY THAT... I agree with this:

A TPM reader, a media professional, suggested this was a game-changing exchange for Rupert Murdoch's propaganda outlet.... "This is Rupert's prized employee appearing on his channel, and doing the equivalent of shouting 'fire' in a crowded movie house...."

Of course, the Republican network doesn't see it that way. Bill Shine, Fox News' Senior Vice President of Programming, said Beck's anti-Obama tirade "represented his own views, not those of the Fox News Channel." Beck, Shine said, "is given the freedom to express his opinions."

Karl Frisch translated the response: "Beck doesn't speak for Fox News, but we'll keep paying him to say anything he wants."

But I'd go one step further: If this is Murdoch's new party line, it's the party line of the movement conservatives in the Republican Party. Murdoch would never do anything that could harm the interests of GOP wingnuts.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I suppose I should have seen this coming. Here's the lead item right now at Fox Nation right now:

This leads to an editorial from Investor's Business Daily -- which has, by the way, an editorial pag that's even more right-wing than The Wall Street Journal's, if you can imagine that:

Reparations By Way Of Health Care Reform

Still believe in post-racial politics? Read the health care bill. It's affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color.

...At a press conference with minority journalists last fall, candidate Obama was pressed for more detail on his reparations position. He said he was more interested in taking action to help people who were just getting by. Because many of them are minorities, he said, that would help the same people who would benefit from reparations.

"If we have a program, for example, of universal health care, that will disproportionally affect people of color, because they are disproportionally uninsured," Obama said.

This may be a goal of Obama's health care plan: the redress of health care disparities on the basis of race....

That's right -- and if we have universal health care, only non-white people who didn't previously have health care will receive it, because uninsured white people aren't part of the universe.

In his health care plan published during the campaign, it was written that Obama and Biden will "challenge the medical system to eliminate inequities in health care by requiring hospitals and health plans to collect, analyze and report health care quality for disparity populations and holding them accountable for any differences found."

... The racial grievance industry under health care reform could be calling the shots in the emergency room, the operating room, the medical room, even medical school....

Yup -- even though the quote says nothing about race, even though white people in, say, rural areas could easily be members of "disparity populations," the mind-readers at IBD know what this really means: Kill whitey.

All this bears more than a passing resemblance to a Glenn Beck diatribe from last week:

...Here's The One Thing: Everything getting pushed through Congress -- including this health care bill -- is transforming America. And it's all driven by President Obama's thinking on one idea: reparations....


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If we have a program, for example, of universal health care, that will disproportionately affect people of color, because they're disproportionately uninsured, if we've got an agenda that says every child in America should get -- should be able to go to college, regardless of income, that will disproportionately affect people of color, because it's oftentimes our children who can't afford to go to college.


He believes in all the "universal" programs because they "disproportionately affect" people of color.

... Written in the 1,000-plus page bill that no one will read before they vote on it, is a provision that if say, a medical school or other health related institution, pursued a grant or other contract from the government, they would have to prove their inclusiveness of minorities.

On pages 881-882 of the bill it states: "The secretary (of Health and Human Services) shall give preference to entities that have a demonstrated record of the following:

• Training individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups or disadvantaged backgrounds

• A high rate of placing graduates in practice settings having the principal focus of serving in underserved areas or populations experiencing health disparities

• Supporting teaching programs that address the health care needs of vulnerable populations"

Vulnerable populations?

This could have been written by ACORN....

Yeah -- in a political debate expressly about the unequal distribution of health care, what possible purpose could it serve to identify "vulnerable populations"?

These people are determined to win by any means necessary. They're certainly not going to to be too fastidious to deal this card from the bottom of the deck.

Steve Benen flags this story from Think Progress:

Last Friday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) joined radical conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his radio talk show for an interview. Jones has made a name for himself propagating conspiracies ranging from the claim that Bill Clinton planned the Oklahoma City bombings to the idea that the attacks on 9/11 were orchestrated by a cabal of American and Israeli government officials.

During the 30-minute interview about "nation ending stuff," Gohmert used his opportunity on the Jones show to showcase his own odd anti-Obama conspiracy theories.

As Steve says:

Gohmert was on quite a roll, insisting that health care reform will "absolutely kill senior citizens," because the government will put older Americans on a list and then "force them to die early." He added that the government will also control what Americans eat and where we can live....

And on and on.

But why did he have to discuss this with a broadcaster who's widely perceived as a fringe kook? Plenty of "respectable" right-wingers maintain equally extreme beliefs about Barack Obama.

The most prominent radio broadcaster in America -- the de facto boss of the GOP -- has said on numerous occasions that he believes Obama is destroying the economy deliberately. This isn't a baroque, melodramatic scenario -- but really, how is it not equivalent to saying that the Bush administration caused 9/11? Allegedly willful destruction of Americans' lives vs. allegedly willful destruction of Americans' lives -- what's the real difference? Limbaugh said this most recently in a Fox News interview with Greta Van Susteren:

President Obama and the Democrats are destroying the U.S. economy. They are purposely doing it, I believe.

... This is not about health care, it's about control. It's about remaking the country, the economy. Look, proof of my point here that the joblessness is on purpose -- if your number one signature issue is health care -- and his is -- and if, which is true, that health insurance is not portable when you lose your job, what's the best thing you can do for yourself? Create unemployment. The more people unemployed, the more people losing their health insurance, the more people scared to death, the more people clamoring for it, Please save my health insurance, Please give me health insurance....

So all of this destruction is taking place -- redistribution of wealth. He wants to return the nation's wealth to its rightful owners.

He's said this before, of course -- in May, for instance, when he said Obama's "objective is unemployment," and in June, when he said Obama is "systematically destroying" the U.S. economy.

Congressman Pete Sessions -- not a back-bencher like Gohmert -- agrees. Roger Kimball, a fairly mainstream right-winger, believes it's a distinct possibility. The notion that Obama may be intentionally steering an economic plane into the towers of our economy is taken very seriously on the more respectable right-wing blogs.

And while Ben Stein -- a New York Times columnist and respected pundit -- doesn't say Obama is deliberately wrecking the economy, he did write this last week:

Barack Obama is a super likeable super leftist, not a fan of this country, way, way too cozy with the terrorist leaders in the Middle East, way beyond naivete, all the way into active destruction of our interests and our allies and our future.

The American people have already awakened to the truth that the stimulus bill -- a great idea in theory -- was really an immense bribe to Democrat interest groups, and in no way an effort to help all Americans....

Mr. Obama knows Americans are getting wise and will stop him if he delays at all in taking away our freedoms.

The respectable Dick Morris and Sean Hannity, meanwhile, believe merely that Obama has a plan to turn the U.S. economy over to Europeans:

Dick Morris ... tells Sean Hannity the globalists will put the "American economy under international regulation" and "those people who have been yelling, oh, the UN is going to take over... they've been crazy, but now they're right."

"Those conspiracy people," Sean Hannity interjects, "had suggested that for years... you’re not wrong."

It's the "international regulation of the financial institutions" we have to worry about, warns Dick Morris. It will happen under "IMF control... Remember, the IMF is run by the Europeans and backed by Americans."

So why run to Alex Jones? Nothing Gohmert said to Jones was crazier than what's mainstream in GOP circles.

A Politico story on health care today is headlined "Key Democratic provisions fading fast":

Bipartisan negotiations on the Senate Finance Committee are moving closer to eliminating two health care provisions favored by many Democrats -- a mandate on employers to provide insurance or pay a penalty, and a government insurance option, a senator and health care insiders said Monday.

This follows a story in yesterday's New York Times that said the health-care bills working through Congress aren't doing enough to make health insurance affordable for middle-class people:

In a letter to Congress last week, advocates for patients -- including AARP, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association -- said the affordability of insurance was "of paramount importance."

After analyzing the leading House and Senate bills, Stephen E. Finan, a health economist at the cancer society, said, "Subsidies do not appear to be adequate even for coverage in the lowest-cost plans."

"Under the bill approved by the Senate health committee," Mr. Finan said, "a family with annual income of $40,000 could obtain subsidies, but would still have to pay premiums of $1,760 a year and might have to pay as much as $2,320 in co-payments and deductibles, for a total of $4,080, or 10 percent of family income. And they might have to pay more if they use specialists outside the network of doctors in their health plan."

Is this even worth it? Is it even worth fighting to pass a compromised, inadequate bill?

Beyond the sincere desire to do something to change a clearly inadequate status quo, the president is presumed to be motivated by the belief that his presidency depends on getting a bill passed -- if he fails, nearly everyone believes, he's toast.

What if the opposite is the case? What if bailing on this would save Obama's presidency?

What if the history of Bill Clinton's presidency wouldn't repeat itself in the event of a defeat (possibly because failing on health care wasn't the real reason Democrats lost Congress in 1994)?

I look at Barack Obama's poll numbers and he seems to be remarkably popular on everything except the economy and health care (and there are tentative signs of hope on the economy -- rising stock prices, improved home sales). On other measures?

He understands the problems of people like you: 63% yes, 35% no.
He is a strong leader: 71% yes, 27% no.
He has brought needed change to Washington: 62% yes, 35% no.
He is a good commander in chief of the military: 56% yes, 37% no.

(All that is from the latest Washington Post/ABC poll.)

It seems to me that health care is a millstone around Obama's neck. It's dragging his ratings down. It's worth risking a decline in popularity for a really good bill, but if it's not a really good bill, what's the point?

The GOP and right-wing pundits and Blue Dogs and centrist MSM bloviators have all sent out the word that whatever Obama endorses is toxic. So if he doesn't sign a bill at all, how does that poison him? Shouldn't it do the opposite?

Think of other examples. Polls showed that John McCain struggled with the GOP electorate through much of 2007. A lot of them really didn't like his immigration stand. But the immigration bill died in the summer of '07 -- and within a few months the McCain campaign was back from the dead.

Here in New York City four years ago, Mike Bloomberg was struggling in polls, at a time when he was supporting a proposed Manhattan football stadium that was deeply unpopular -- voters thought it would be too expensive and a traffic nightmare in a crowded borough that already had plenty of development. Eventually Bloomberg abandoned the notion of a Manhattan stadium (which was also part of a plan to lure the 2012 Olympics to New York) -- and his poll numbers improved dramatically. The Manhattan stadium plan failed, the Olympic bid failed -- and Bloomberg went on to win reelection that fall in a blowout.

I'm oversimplifying the McCain and Bloomberg stories -- but they do show that pivoting away from signature issues on which you're struggling with voters can work. The Clinton paradigm isn't the only one. And who's more likely to be able to move vigorously to other signature issues than Obama?

Monday, July 27, 2009


Forget Obama's birth certificate -- Rupert Murdoch is endorsing a whole new conspiracy theory:

(Click to enlarge.)

This is Murdoch validating a NewsBusters post that's pure speculation (Sarah Palin, please turn away from your own navel long enough to note that this happens to people other than you):

A recent New York Post story brought up a point about the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. that few in the Old Media have paid much attention to. Apparently, Gates has since the arrest announced he is in the early stages of involvement in a PBS TV series on civil rights in America. It is odd that this single fact has not been a focus of much discussion.

After all, if Gates is about to start a TV show about civil rights, what better way to punch up that participation than to "suddenly" get mixed up in a national civil rights "abuse" case? What better way to highlight America's civil rights problem than to become a nationally known victim of so-called racism?

Why is no one asking how long Gates has been in the planning stages of this TV show? Was he planning it since
before the arrest? It all leads one to wonder if Gates saw an opportunity to gin up interest in his TV appearance by becoming a victim? Instead of experiencing any actual racial tension, did Gates invent his own ready-made, sensational incident to turn his scholarly civil rights discussion into the quintessential TV reality show extravaganza? Was all this just a TV stunt in Gates' mind? Was it mere opportunism? ...

Right -- a short, bookish guy pushing 60 who just had a hip replacement would risk being the next Rodney King, if not Amadou Diallo ... for ratings.

Yeah, schmuck, that makes a lot of sense.

The Fox Nation page above also links to a World Net Daily story that asks why the 911 caller, who apparently works down the hall from Gates, didn't recognize him in daylight. (Um, maybe she didn't see his face because he was turned facing the house he was struggling to enter?) (UPDATE: As The Boston Globe is reporting, the woman "saw the backs of both men and did not know their race when she called 911.")

Even the low-rent WND doesn't actually offer any theories as to why the caller didn't recognize Gates. But Fox Nation, part of the empire of the respectable media mogul Murdoch, certainly does: by linking the WND story under the heading "Did Gates PLAN His Arrest?" Fox Nation implicates the caller in a conspiracy to get Gates arrested for ratings.

Reprehensible. Utterly reprehensible. If I were the 911 caller, I'd seriously be considering a lawsuit right now.

Yeah, Gateway Pundit and Drudge and the Freepers and Pammy Atlas and, why don't you want the capitalists who own the Concord Mills mall to have the right to operate their business in the manner they deem best?

'Impeach Obama' bumper stickers spark a shopping mall protest

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- While protesters rallied in his support, the owner of a Concord Mills kiosk that sells conservative merchandise said he met with the mall's manager Sunday to see what arrangements can be made for him to remain after his lease expires Friday.

Nothing was agreed to, except that the two would meet again Monday, said Loren Spivack, owner of Free Market Warrior.

Spivack has contended that he's being kicked out of the mall for political reasons. He's traced his exile to a letter to the editor in the Charlotte Observer criticizing his business, saying it promotes "ideas such as racism, sexism and even slavery."

He said he was at work again Sunday when he got a call from mall manager Ray Soporowski inviting to talk in his office.

"It was a pleasant, amicable conversation, but we didn't come to any resolution about whether our business would be able to stay in the mall," Spivack said. "He wanted to include some of his company's senior management and we agreed to talk again Monday."

Mall officials have repeatedly declined to comment. Reached Sunday, Soporowski continued that policy. "With all due respect, that conversation is between Loren and myself," he said....

"[T]hat conversation is between Loren and myself" -- why don't right-wingers, of all people, believe that? Why don't they believe that the owners of a business are free to choose how they run that business? "Free speech"? If Loren can't sell his merch anywhere, because of government suppression, that's a free speech issue. But this is a business decision -- right, righties? Isn't that what Ayn Rand and your other pro-capitalist heroes would say?


I don't know what's being sold at the kiosk, but what I see on the Web site seems milder than many online sites run by wingnuts -- there's nothing eliminationist or blantantly racist. The article quoted above mentions a couple of items that have been controversial:

[Spivack] opened his Free Market Warrior kiosk last spring, selling such items as "Impeach Obama" bumper stickers and baby bibs that say, "My parents chose life. Thanks Mom and Dad!"

Left unmentioned is this little item:

That one pisses me off. But it seems milder (by modern gutter standards) than bone-in-the-nose crap like this.

But ultimately it's the mall owners' call. Don't like it? Shop somewhere else.


UPDATE: I've seen reports that Spivack sells pro-Confederate merchandise -- a letter to the editor stating as much started this controversy -- but I didn't know if that was accurate. Now I see that Mary C. Curtis of Politics Daily is citing one such item: a bumper sticker that reads, "About that Civil War thing ... N.C. never actually surrendered."

Is it just impossible for wingers in the South to refrain from that sort of thing (even those who, like Spivack, were grew up in enemy territory)? And on the other hand, why doesn't Spivack have the cojones to post that one on his site?

Well, you probably already know she essentially said that in her resignation speech yesterday. That's not a literal "shorter," but it's what she really meant:

Now this week alone, Sean Parnell and I we're on the, um, on Ft. Rich the base there, the army chapel, and we heard the last roll call, and the sounding of Taps for three very brave, very young Alaskan soldiers who just gave their all for all of us. Together we do stand with gratitude for our troops who protect all of our cherished freedoms, including our freedom of speech which, par for the course, I'm going to exercise.

And first, some straight talk for some, just some in the media because another right protected for all of us is freedom of the press, and you all have such important jobs reporting facts and informing the electorate, and exerting power to influence. You represent what could and should be a respected honest profession that could and should be the cornerstone of our democracy. Democracy depends on you, and that is why, that's why our troops are willing to die for you. So, how 'bout in honor of the American soldier, ya quite makin' things up.

Even I don't believe this. I don't believe that the American notion of liberty of speech is violated by the liars of the right (or those from any other direction). Lies don't diminish free speech -- they sully it to some extent, but it can take that kind of abuse. You fight lying speech with more speech, and with the libel and slander laws as needed. But even with the biggest lies and the nastiest demagoguery, free speech endures.

But give the woman credit -- no political figure in U.S. history has linked McCarthyism and narcissism quite so successfully before. The classic McCarthyites at least insisted that attacks on themselves were attacks on their defense (as they saw it) of the country. She's essentially saying that if you float a rumor about her, about any subject, you weaken America. That's hardcore. Even Karl Rove didn't say it was treasonous to make drunk jokes about the Bush twins.

(Speech videos here and here; transcript here.)


Oh, and there's this today at

That's right: "the worst personal attacks a politician ever suffered." Lucianne Goldberg said that.

Apparently, the 1990s never happened.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Matt Yglesias is somewhat disheartened:

David Leonhardt [of The New York Times has another in a growing series of great David Leonhardt pieces on the nutty and dysfunctional nature of "fee-for-service" medicine in which doctors are paid for doing stuff rather than for treating illness. The problem, however, is that to totally change how medical professionals get paid would be a big disruptive change, and I see no sign that the public really wants such a change....

Matt goes on to quote Leonhardt quoting one of the many polls showing that most Americans are satisfied with the health care they have, after which Leonhardt writes, "Americans say they want change, but they also want to preserve their own status quo."

Matt sighs:

I just don't really know what one is supposed to do in the face of public opinion data like that.

But when people say they're content, we don't know what it is that they're content with -- and I'm not sure they know, either. Presumably they want to be able to see a doctor when they're sick, or a family member is sick, within a reasonable amount of time; they want successful treatment for what ails them at what seems like a reasonable out-of-pocket cost.

But do they want lots of tests? Maybe, but I don't believe it. I think most people want medical attention when needed and a recommended course of action that leads to a good outcome -- whatever that may be.

I keep thinking back to an utterly necessary, invasive medical test I had nearly twenty years ago for symptoms that ultimately cleared up years later when I figured out I was lactose intolerant. If my doctor back then had recommended a dairy fast -- without precluding more hardcore medicine if needed -- I would have been thrilled; when I did ultimately cut out dairy as an experiment, I noticed the difference instantly. I've always felt grateful to the doctor at my college health clinic who diagnosed a lump I had as a harmless fluid sac by turning the lights off and shining a flashlight at it; his method was low-tech, but his diagnosis was spot on. I'm a hell of a lot more grateful to him than I am to the doctor who ordered an MRI for me a few years aghowhen my hearing showed a slight discrepancy in one ear; I spent forty-eight hours thinking I might have a tumor and then underwent an expensive, unpleasant, and, as it turns out, utterly unnecessary test.

Do patients at the Mayo Clinic or Cleveland Clinic even know they're getting some sort of "alternative" approach to medicine? How many people know when an average doctor would order a test and when one wouldn't?

Of course, when the difference is pointed out to average Americans, it's quite possible they'll get their backs up -- especially if opponents of reform encourage them to be suspicious. But there's no inherent reason that outcome-based medicine with fewer pricey procedures should be unsatisfactory to most people. If it were, you'd think we'd be reading about dissatisfaction, at least at first, among patients in non-fee-for-service medical care programs. But I haven't heard of anything of the sort. Sick people just want to get well.

In today's New York Times there's a long, detailed account of George Tiller's career, and of the techniques of his opponents. It's worth reading. But I'm struck now, as I was seven weeks ago when he was assassinated, by the sheer self-pity of those who opposed him.

Back then the Times reported this moist-eyed reaction:

"I don't know what the future holds," said Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue....

Although Operation Rescue worked for years to close down Dr. Tiller's clinic, his death was never the outcome Mr. Newman wished for, he said. Of the man charged with killing Dr. Tiller, he tearfully said, "This idiot did more to damage the pro-life movement than you can imagine."

And now today we have another anti-abortion leader feeling sorry for himself:

Abortion opponents are bracing for a drop in support, especially from those in the murky middle ground of the debate. Worse yet, after years of persuading supporters to work within the law, they say they have already lost credibility among the most ardent abortion opponents who cannot help pointing out that one gunman achieved what all their protests and prayers could not.

"The credit is going to go to him," Mark S. Gietzen, chairman of the Kansas Coalition for Life, said of Mr. Roeder. "There are people who are agreeing with him."

You can read this as the expression of a sincere belief that their cause has actually suffered asetback -- but then, at the end of the article, you get this:

As he explained himself, Mr. Gietzen did something unexpected. He spoke admiringly of the man he reflexively referred to as "Abortionist Tiller." He said he was "very smart" and a "great businessman." He said that if he had been in town he would have attended Dr. Tiller's funeral to pay his respects.

"A worthy adversary," he said. "He was right back at us."

For Gietzen, is this really about abortion? Or is this about the contest? You start to think that Gietzen (and Operation Rescue's Troy Newman, and maybe others) are less concerned about the cause than they are about whether they've screwed up their careers -- their life's work -- by choosing (at least recently) to remain nonviolent. Also, they seem depressed at not having Tiller to kick around anymore. You get the feeling that if the Human Life Amendment had received final ratification, these guys would be calling suicide hotlines. They want the game to go on -- and they want to be the ones playing it. Gietzen in particular really seems to want Tiller back, both out of a desire for a sparring partner and because Tiller's assassin threatens to make Gietzen irrelevant (at least in Gietzen's eyes).

You can read the article and argue that Tiller himself liked the fight a little too much. That may be true. But that doesn't make the self-pity of his opponents any less odd. Come on, schmucks -- the clinic's closed. You won this round. Stop sniveling.


Meanwhile, this weekend I found myself in the same room with a copy of the August issue of Marie Claire (don't ask), where I read this:

Abortion by Cow Meds

Let's say you're under 18, pregnant, and unable to get an abortion without parental consent, as is the case in 24 states. The logical thing to do would be to ... swallow some cow meds from a nearby farm? Sounds nuts, but that's what some young women are doing in an attempt to perform DIY abortions.

Anna Anderson, executive director of the Monroe, Wisconsin-based Care Net Pregnancy Center, which counsels women on alternatives to abortion, was the first to report the practice, when an acquaintance called to discuss a teen who'd downed the meds. "When the girl finally came in and admitted it, she started rattling off the names of 10 other girls who had also done it," says Anderson, who recognized some of the names because the girls had come to the center for pregnancy tests....

The cow medicine -- a liquid that's usually given as a shot to abort calves or regulate breeding cycles -- works by essentially starving the fetus. After a few days, a woman would experience cramping, and the fetus would be expelled. Complications could include excessive hemorrhaging and a systemic infection.

In the era of abortion doctors like George Tiller being murdered, perhaps extreme behavior is to be expected. That said, here's hoping the human use of cow meds dies out, now that the FDA has approved Plan B -- the morning-after pill -- for use without a prescription by 17-year-olds....

Er, I doubt it.

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this story -- the "Care Net Pregnancy Center, which counsels women on alternatives to abortion," is clearly part of the anti-abortion movement, so this story may have been meant to gross out the like-minded. But if it's true, it just tells me that abortion isn't going away the more it's under attack -- there are just going to be more and more (and more creative) back-alley abortions, or, in this case, back-of-the-barn abortions.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


My Sundays are back to normal. I'll see you tomorrow.

The GOP's biggest non-Alaskan novelty act is at it again:

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) will introduce a House resolution on Monday demanding Obama retract and apologize for remarks he has made about Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley this past week.

That would be the same Thaddeus McCotter who wastes Americans' tax dollars doing stuff like this on the House floor:

And who also likes to bloviate in the worst prose anyone in the English-speaking world writes:

...No starker episode exhibits our anile need for a moral hospice before we slither into the dust bin of history than the one playing out before Americans' astonished eyes. Legacy building with the urgency of a dying Pharaoh staring at an unfinished Sphinx, George Walker Bush is bent upon being the first U.S. President to attend a foreign nation's Olympics. The nation in question is communist China, the shock troops of which are presently bludgeoning Tibetan Monks as if they were orange bathrobed baby seals. (One shudders at the prospect this Tibetan repression is the Chi-coms' sedulous sally into Olympic demonstration sports.)

Notwithstanding the Global Generation's remaining misanthropes' unsophisticated quibbling (i.e., me and mine), our Compassionate Conservative-in-Chief has eagerly RSVP'ed to the communist dictatorship's dramatic recreation of the Berlin Olympics. Given "The Decider's" resolve, hope dims we might disabuse his whimsy that watching a wobbling discus with the wanton butchers of Tiananmen Square can advance the sacred cause of human freedom....

That's when he's not rockin' out, maaan! with various bands, one of which used to be a Congress-based band called the Second Amendments.

Rock and roll animal.

That's when he's not hanging out with Dennis Miller, one of his great admirers.

We like ourselves, don't we, Thad? We like to hear ourselves hold forth, don't we?

In any other corner of the world, Thad McCotter would be a guy everybody gives a wide berth, because of his utterly unjustified self-importance. In the modern GOP, by contrast, he's a star.

Sorry -- I'm Gatesed out. I haven't posted on the president's statement because I've got nothing left to say. I'd rather talk about this:

... several female Republican House members held a press conference [yesterday] to attack President Obama's push for health insurance reform....

Perhaps the most attention-grabbing moment occurred when Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) announced that "there are no Americans who don’t have healthcare":

..."There are no Americans who don't have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare," she says. "We do have about 7.5 million Americans who want to purchase health insurance who can not afford it," she says....

Unfortunately, Foxx is not the first conservative to push this argument. In July 2007, then-President Bush claimed that "people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room."...

Yup, and others who've made the same argument include Tom DeLay, Bush-era Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, the architect of John McCain's campaign health plan, John Goodman, and Arizona GOP congressman John Shadegg. And that's a very, very incomplete list.

OK -- so I'm hearing lately that, at town-hall meetings, crowds are bursting into applause whenever a member of the audience says, Well, if the Obama health care plan is so great, will you members of Congress all pledge to join it?

So here's what I say: If you're a Republican opponent of health care reform and you say we already have universal coverage because emergency rooms exist, will youpledge to give up your own health insurance and take advantage of this swell form of health care? If it's perfectly adequate, can we ask you to do that?

Friday, July 24, 2009


Coming to bookstores soon, as reported by Publishers Lunch:

National Review Online blogger "David Kahane"'s (a nom de cyber for a Hollywood writer) RULES FOR RADICAL CONSERVATIVES, a funny, incendiary playbook for turning the left's political strategies and techniques against it, proposed in a recent column that became an internet sensation, to ... Ballantine, ... for publication in Summer 2010.

Well, I wouldn't exactly say it was an Internet sensation, but perhaps you recall the article in question -- "I Still Hate You, Sarah Palin" -- in which "Kahane," in the preposterously stereotyped voice of a liberal, outlined the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy to Destroy Sarah Palin, which, preposterously, involved not just lefties and real and fake members of "the liberal media" (i.e., the usual subjects), but also two right-wing pundits and a pair of Rudy Giuliani fans from the entertainment community (who knew we were such talented recruiters?):

And so the word went out, from that time and place: Eviscerate Sarah Palin like one of her field-dressed moose. Turn her life upside down. Attack her politics, her background, her educational history. Attack her family. Make fun of her husband, her children. Unleash the noted gynecologist Andrew Sullivan to prove that Palin's fifth child was really her grandchild. Hit her with everything we have: Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, taking a beer-run break from her quixotic search for Mr. Right to drip venom on Sister Sarah; post-funny comic David Letterman, to joke about her and her daughters on national television; Katie Couric, the anchor nobody watches, to give this Alaskan interloper a taste of life in the big leagues; former New York Times hack Todd "Mr. Dee Dee Myers" Purdum, to act as an instrument of Graydon Carter's wrath at Vanity Fair. Heck, we even burned her church down. Even after the teleological triumph of The One, the assault had to continue, each blow delivered with our Lefty SneerTM (viz.: Donny Deutsch yesterday on Morning Joe), until Sarah was finished.

You know what? It worked! McCain finally succumbed to his long-standing case of Stockholm Syndrome ("My friends, you have nothing to fear from an Obama presidency"), Tina Fey turned Palin into a see-Russia-from-my-house joke, "conservative" useful idiots like Peggy Noonan and Kathleen Parker hatched her, and finally Sarah cried
No mas and walked away.

"Kahane"-pretending-to-be-a-lefty explains what Noonan and Parker and Letterman and Fey and all the other conspirators eagerly signed up for:

In Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, "the fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules." This is the book that "Reset" Rodham (what ever happened to her?) and BHO II grew up reading and continue to live by. If you don't understand that that’s the way we see you -- as the enemy -- then you're too dumb to survive. Remember that for us politics is not just an avocation, or even just a job, but our life. We literally stay awake nights thinking up ways to screw you. And one of the ways we do that is by religiously observing Alinsky’s Rule No. 4.

Ah, but there's a solution:

What you clowns need ... is a Rules for Radical Conservatives to explain what you're up against and teach you how to compete before it's too late. Luckily, since I care about money even more than I care about politics, I have just such a book in the proposal stage, currently making the rounds of various publishers, assuming any of them are wise enough to take me up on it.

Which is precisely what's happened: he got his book deal. Ballantine (not a right-wing publisher, and a division of Random House) has taken on "Kahane" and will publish his masterwork of projection -- it may as well be called THIS IS A 320-PAGE EFFORT TO PROJECT EVERYTHING WE TRIED TO DO TO BILL CLINTON ONTO YOU BASTARDS -- next year.

I'm not sure who "Kahane" is. He's certainly trying to write like David Mamet in wingnut mode, and he's entertained by the thought that some people think he actually is Mamet, but he could just as easily be some Big Hollywood hack who wishes he could be Mamet.

Greg Sargent on the Obama/Gates story:

Yet the explosive reaction to [the president's] comments suggests there's still electricity flowing in the political third rail of race, and Republicans are making an old-school bet that they can exploit it to their advantage.

I don't think that's putting it quite right. The bet Republicans are making is simply that more stuff will stick to the wall if it's thrown in the direction of the wall than if it isn't, so it's best to just throw everything.

That's the bet Republicans always make.

Republicans don't care if race is a hot button or a cold button or a lukewarm button -- it's a button, and they're going to push every possible button until they find the combination of button-pushes that sinks the Democrats and thus gets them to 50% plus one vote.

Sargent, at least, isn't nearly as off base as (alas) Rachel Maddow was last night:

This is Chapter One of the art of Republican politics since Richard Nixon: when surrounded by a more popular opponent whose ideas you can't necessarily counter or you don't feel confident countering, steer as clear as you can of ideas and policy and, instead, stoke racial indignation among your base when you can.

"Instead" is absolutely the wrong word to use here. For one thing -- and this should be obvious to Maddow -- Republicans right now are supremely confident that they've got Obama on the ropes on health care, with or without an alternative plan of their own. But even when they don't think they're winning political debates, they just keep attacking -- on everything, all the time, until something works.

And it doesn't have to work right away. The point is to keep building up what I've called the Protocols of the Elders of Liberalism, which is the right's ever-expanding indictment of all Democrats and liberals, for as many real and imagined sins and crimes as possible. This is basically a wiki -- all right-wingers are encouraged to contribute to it; nothing is ever deleted, but everything is extensively hyperlinked. Thus, Obama on Henry Louis Gates links to ACORN and links to Reverend Wright and links to Bill Ayers and his support of Mumia. (That's just a partial list of links.) Everything builds on everything else, until a picture emerges of ever-metastasizing, unspeakable liberal evil.

The GOP base, which watches Fox News and listens to talk radio for fun, knows nearly all the links by heart the way, say, Sunnis and Shiites or Serbs and Croats know the rage-inducing legends in their mutual histories. The point is to keep expanding the list of legendary, linked offenses.

So this isn't a switch to a neo-Southern Strategy. It's just the same old right-wing strategy: more is more.
(and other fun bits from Peggy Noonan's latest column)

The new Peggy Noonan column is about the Obama health care plan, and it's mostly GOP boilerplate -- although I do give Peggy credit for dreaming up one novel theory about why there might be public resistance to the plan:

Let me throw forward three other things that I suspect lessen, or will lessen, support for full health-care reform, two of them not quantifiable.

The first has to do with the doctors throughout the country who give patients a break, who quietly underbill someone they know is in trouble, or don't charge for their services. Also the emergency rooms that provide excellent service for the uninsured in medical crisis. People don't talk about this much because they're afraid if they do they'll lose it, that some government genius will come along and make it illegal for a doctor not to charge or a hospital to fudge around, with mercy, in its billing. People are afraid of losing the parts of the system that sometimes work -- the unquantifiable parts, the human parts.

Yes, that's right -- people don't like the Obama health plan because they like begging for charity. They prefer this to actually having insurance coverage.

Next up from Noonan: Let's abolish all worker retraining programs! The unemployed don't really want help getting jobs! They're much too proud for that! They much prefer the quiet dignity of dumpster-diving!


Now, here's an argument that's straight from the wingnut talking points, but I'm a wee bit surprised that Noonan, of all people, is making it:

We are living in a time in which educated people who are at the top of American life feel they have the right to make very public criticisms of ... let's call it the private, pleasurable but health-related choices of others. They shame smokers and the overweight. Drinking will be next....

It is a new opportunity for new class professionals (an old phrase that should make a comeback) to shame others, which appears to be one of their hobbies.... Every time I hear Kathleen Sebelius talk about "transitioning" from "treating disease" to "preventing disease," I start thinking of how they’ll use this as an excuse to judge, shame and intrude.

So this might be an unarticulated public fear: When everyone pays for the same health-care system, the overseers will feel more and more a right to tell you how to live, which simple joys are allowed and which are not.

Americans in the most personal, daily ways feel they are less free than they used to be. And they are right, they are less free.

Who wants more of that?

Who? Gee, Peggy, I thought you did. I thought you believed shaming people was a good idea:

I spoke this week at a Catholic college.... quickly--I mean within 15 seconds--the talk was only of matters related to sexuality....

I did experience it as to some degree violative of my dignity as a person. An adult. A woman. A lady.

And I have been experiencing a lot of things in this way for a while now....

I experience it when I see blaring television ads for birth-control devices, feminine-hygiene products, erectile-dysfunction medicines. I experience it when I'm almost strip-searched at airports. I experience it when I listen to popular music, if that's what we call it. I experience it when political figures are asked the most intimate questions about their families and pressed for personal views on sexual questions that someone somewhere decided have to be Topic A on the national agenda in America right now.

Let me tell you what I say, in my mind, after things like this--the symposium, the commercials, and so forth. I think,
We are embarrassing the angels....

"You are embarrassing the angels." This is what I intend to say for the next 40 days whenever I see someone who is hurting the culture, hurting human dignity, denying the stature of a human being. I mean to say it with belief, with an eye to instruction, but also pointedly, uncompromisingly. As a lady would. All invited to join in.

Oh, but I shouldn't mock, should I, Peggy? Your shaming is good. Any shaming coming from us -- if, in fact, that's what we have in mind (it isn't) -- would be very, very evil.


Oh, and once again Noonan doesn't want a silly thing like objective reality to get in the way of her opinions. Here's what she says about Obama's press conference this week:

He was filibustery and spinny and gave long and largely unfollowable answers that seemed aimed at limiting the number of questions asked and running out the clock. You don't do that when you're fully confident.

Now here's what The Washington Post said on February 10, after Obama's first prime-time press conference as president (emphasis added):

Obama controlled the tone of the East Room proceedings, speaking with utmost seriousness, gesturing with his hands and displaying a command of the facts. His lengthy, multi-part answers -- allowing for just 13 questions -- went well beyond what the journalists asked and defended his record while taking not-so-veiled slaps at the Republicans as "folks who presided over a doubling of national debt."

At the time of that first press conference, Obama was at 76% approval in the most recent CNN poll. He was, as I recall, a rather confident fellow. But at the press conference he talked a lot. His answers were long. You know what? That's just how he answers questions.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

(except when they don't)

Michelle Malkin had a post this morning titled "The Anti-Police Bigotry of the Left." Presumably she wrote this because she, as a right-winger, has unquestioning respect for the police. Presumably, when officers make a mistake while acting in good faith, she invariably takes their side.


Not last February she didn't. Remember this?

The police officers who stopped Oklahoma City motorist Chip Harrison and confiscated a sign from his car told him he has a right to his beliefs, but the Secret Service "could construe this as a threat against President Obama," according to the incident report released this morning.

The sign, which read "Abort Obama Not the Unborn," was returned to Harrison later that day, the report said.

Police spokesman Steve McCool said this morning that the sign was taken in error, and Oklahoma City residents should not be worried that their First Amendment rights will be violated....

The Secret Service subsequently searched Harrison's home (in a manner he described as "very cordial").

Malkin, the great champion of law enforcement officers everywhere, showed her support for the police back then by putting up a post entitled "Crushing of Dissent in the Age of Obama."

Her ideological soul mates were equally unsupportive. Gateway Pundit wrote:

don't criticize Dear Leader or you may get arrested.

Cold Fury's response:

This is what dissent in Obama's New Soviet Socialist Republic of Amerika will get you

(in a post titled "Building the O!gulags, One Small Brick at a Time").

Glenn Reynolds quoted a critique of a UCLA report on hate speech:

" ... once political criticism of those in power is defined as hate speech, what's left of the First Amendment?"

And added:

That seems to be the position of the Oklahoma City police.

And Rusty at the Jawa Report wrote:

If I've got the story right, Chip Harrison was pulled over by an Oklahoma City police officer because he had a sign reading, "Abort Obama Not the Unborn" sign in it. The sign was confiscated by the officer who apparently thought it was some kind of threat on the President's life.

How any one with an IQ over 100 could construe that as a threat is mystifying.

"IQ over 100"?

Is Rusty saying the cop acted, er ... stupidly?