Sunday, August 30, 2009

Triage

Click image for full Bruce Beattie/Daytona Beach News-Journal cartoon.

Third degree

Click image for full Bruce Plante/Tulsa World cartoon.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nerds needed

The discovery of Jaycee Dugard after nineteen years happened in an office. Two police officers (o.k., reading between the lines, Lisa Campbell is apparently not a sworn officer, but whatever) left their bullshit detectors running, and Phillip Garrido would have set off even a fully squelched bullshit detector. They were tech savvy enough to confirm immediately that Garrido warranted scrutiny.

None of the many law enforcement personnel who went to Phillip and Nancy Garrido's doorstep over those nineteen years discovered Jaycee because they were insufficiently informed and insufficiently suspicious. They never looked at the extent of his backyard. Here's a property record they could have pulled up from their very own city's geographical information system:


This is basic preparatory information that I found in less than 30 minutes, despite the crudeness of Antioch's search function. Don't cops all have laptops in their patrol cars? Don't parole officers have access to the Internet?

Armed with this plat and with the fact that Garrido was a registered and paroled serious sex offender, law enforcement could have taken neighbor reports seriously enough to really look into all the blue tarps and sheds.

There's a wealth of information on the web that could help prevent law enforcement errors. (Think, never enter the wrong house to execute a warrant again!) What we need are more nerds in any position that requires access to information.

Missing in action

Hop across the big pond for this report (h/t R. Neal on KnoxViews) on threats against President Obama. Maybe overwork is why the Secret Service couldn't be troubled to arrest William Kostric.

Who's MIA? The American media.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Light summer reading


Hey, is that a thriller?

Click image for full Rob Rogers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoon.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thinks he's Stevie Wonder

Using primitive religion to buffalo and bullshit irrational followers - who would do that?

Click image for full Tim Eagan/Press-Democrat cartoon.

On Paine of death

Glenn Greenwald lays a smack-down on pro-torture right-wingers. Support for torture is a mainstream Republican principle. They have surrendered their founding American ideals - if they ever had them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Teddy's dead

Ted Kennedy was human, flawed like the rest of us. I know other people who have been in fatal traffic accidents. I know other people who have made bad and selfish career decisions. I know lots and lots of people who have drunk too much. I know other people who have divorced and fooled around, often not in that order. I know other people who lived as long as they could with terminal brain cancer. I know other people who have healed their fractious families even when they needed healing themselves. In fact, there are many of these people in my own family.

Without the riches and reputation of his family, Ted would never have had the chance to do what he did. But given that chance, he made a tremendous difference. Who cares that greatness was thrust upon him! He then worked his whole life to achieve greatness all over again.

I remember a Kennedy floor demonstration at a Massachusetts Democratic Party convention some years ago. We delegates were of course cheering and stamping our feet, but Ted's people flowed in from the wings with signs to make as much joyful noise as they could. They were different from the delegates. They weren't the polished public people who get voted to go to the convention. They were the halt and the lame, the laborers and the fishermen, the grandmothers and the families. They were people that Ted had helped, and they were loyal to him, as he was to them.

I met Ted Kennedy just once, at Kennedy's Pub (no relation) in Marlborough, where he was playing second fiddle to Luis Tiant. He was obese and drinking seltzer or a soft drink. He leaned firmly against a high stool backed up to the wall in order to ease the pain in his back. He seemed to love what he was doing. How else could he have done it so long and so well?

Ted achieved the distinction of living out his natural life making America a more perfect union. I'll miss him.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Who speaks for the bank man?

Well-paid lobbyists! Free market conservatives on both sides of the aisle. TV shills.

Click image for full Tom Tomorrow/Salon cartoon.

Split the difference between lies and arguments

The utter failure of the America press to write the truth is on display here. Republican bullshit gets pride of place in the first three paragraphs, ending with:

The [Seniors’ Health Care Bill of Rights] includes protecting Medicare from major cuts, preserving the doctor-patient relationship, banning any rationing of care or interference in end-of-life decisions, guaranteeing that seniors can keep their current coverage, and protecting current veterans’ health care programs.
The rest of the story is limited to Medicare cuts, the sole real issue, leaving five lies unrebutted.

One silver lining: The DNC is finally attacking what should already be the non-existent credibility of the entire Republican Party:
“It should be no surprise that the Republican Party - which whipped many Americans into a frenzy at town hall meetings on health care this month by spreading one lie about reform after another - has now taken to scaring seniors who have nothing to fear and much to gain from reform,’’ Brad Woodhouse, spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Baldwin on points

The first round of Alec Baldwin vs. Joe Lieberman goes to Baldwin. Lieberman started with a tiresome old Reaganesque chestnut, badly delivered:

“You know, make my day.”
Baldwin, who disclaims any intent to run, offers this rejoinder:
"Part of me would hate to see Lieberman go, because there are so few moderate Republicans left in the Senate today."
Lieberman is going to need better writers, at least until Democrats get a candidate.

007 percent solution

James Bond health care. No, not NHS. Say live and let die.

Click image for full Jeff Danziger cartoon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

When liberals attack

Click image for full Joel Pett/Lexington Herald-Leader cartoon.

Shocking exposé

Everything the skeptics claimed about the Bush administration has turned out to be true. Only the lunatic Lyndon LaRouche conspiracy theorists overestimated the Bushists' criminality, and now they're hand in glove with the teabaggers.

Click image for full John Cole/Scranton Times-Tribune cartoon.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Coming distractions

The VA was handing out piles of bonuses to technical employees in 2007 and 2008. A grandstanding Republican Congressman (yes, all sorts of redundancies in those three words) wants, nay, demands an investigation:

"I am extremely troubled by the Inspector General's findings," said Richard Burr, R-NC, the ranking Republican on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "I believe Congress should use its oversight authority to further investigate these matters," he said in an e-mail to CNN.
The point that will likely be forgotten about this: It happened during the reign of the Bushists, when Burr and the rest of the Republicans opposed anything resembling oversight of the executive branch.

The next step in the laundering of bullshit into conventional wisdom will be some wingnut blogger blaming this on President Obama.

Note: The VA, which is socialized medicine, delivers better care more cheaply than the dominant semi-private part of American health care, even with these bonuses.

Different kind of tail-chasing

My hiking experience has almost entirely been in heavily forested mountains, where it's just as impossible to go in a circle as it is to go in a straight line. In mountains, topographic features are what matter to navigation.

Still, it's easy to get disoriented in mountains, especially when you're a tiny little ant on the feature and it's too large to use it to orient yourself. The reported finding, in keeping with long anecdotal experience, is one more feature of human behavior to watch for when navigating without the crutch of a GPS.

Well-known advice bears repeating:

“Your job as the lost person is to sit down,” [Carroll M. Ware, a licensed guide in Maine,] said. “By moving you make everybody’s job more difficult.”
This is good advice even if you're still oriented to the local features. It's very easy to over-exert, even if you don't panic, and make a little trouble into a lot of trouble.

Where does the money go?

This is why we need single-payer - no sweeteners needed to purchase insurance company approval. Single-payer is the only way to get costs in line with world-wide norms - and in time there will be no way we can escape that unless we decide that half our population can do without non-emergency health care.

A real public option is the only proposal that could possibly evolve over time into single-payer. That's why the Blue Dog Democrats and the Republicans are fighting so hard on behalf of their insurance industry sponsors to kill every competitive public option.

Someone's lying

Maybe it's both of them. They are, after all, both Bushists.

My natural inclination is to believe anything plausible that casts the Bushists in a bad light. I already believed that they manipulated threat levels for baldly political purposes. They manipulated everything for baldly political purposes, right up to the stove-piped intelligence they used to manipulate the people and the Congress into the panic that put us stupidly into Iraq.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mass hysteria

Happily, no!

Over budget but a success and not very costly - not 40% of the budget, not 4% of the budget, 0.4% of the budget.

Biconservativeship

Republicans are thrilled with bipartisanship just so long as it's the effort to find the sweet spot of compromise between the center-right and the extreme right. Otherwise, they'll take their ball and go home.

It's long past time to fight back.

Potted plants

To say what they're saying, you'd think they'd have to be potted.

Except that they're plants.

Click image for full Joel Pett/Lexington Herald-Leader cartoon.

Mona!

He may need a bigger dose.

Click image for full Bruce Beattie/Daytona Beach News-Journal cartoon.

Triumph of Reaganism

If this isn't irrefutable evidence of the success of the class warfare of the rich on the rest of us, I don't know what would be.

Note when it started.

Insane on the face of it

“Compassionate release on the face of it is insane for a convicted mass murderer,” said Susan Cohen, of Cape May Court House, N.J., whose 20-year-old daughter, Theodora, died in the attack.

Liberal media

All this item does is push forward right-wing propaganda. There's not even an opportunity for anyone to the left of the center-right to rebut. A perfect opportunity would have been a response to this arrant bullshit:

[T]he announcer then warns that what Democrats are talking about includes a government-run health plan, bureaucrats deciding coverage, new regulations that would kill small business, and tax hikes.
No Democrat need comment!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stand up

Barney Frank shows the way: Don't take wingnut bullshit lying down. (Don't take the Lyndon LaRouche perennial bullshit lying down either.)

The purpose of these protests is not to have a rational, fact-based discussion. The purpose is to disrupt and shout down even the tepid reforms that are still on the table.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Slow learners

... but at least they're learning. The Republicans will not negotiate in good faith if they won't even debate in good faith.

Something troubles me about the Times story, though: Not one Congressional Democrat has enough spine to be quoted. That makes the story look like a threat, rather than a real determination to ram through a good bill without all the dreck foisted on us by Republicans and Blue Dogs.

Update (8/19): CNN follows the Times.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Only a matter of time

Wingnuts carry guns to intimidate their opposition. There is going to be violence. And the country's craziest weirdos have bought up every last shred of ammunition in the country.

Update (8/18): CNN gives this story a little big media oxygen.

Bomb the death panels

When wingnuts wake up and smell the antiseptic...

Click image for full Matt Bors cartoon.

A few grains shy of a load

Click image for full Jen Sorenson cartoon.

Pascal's lottery

Give me your money, and when you're truly deserving, god will give it back ten-fold. Or not.

Meanwhile, at least Kenneth and Gloria Copeland are living in the lap dance of luxury.

Best health care in the world

Here's how broken our health financing system is: We not only spend waaay more total dollars per person on health care than any other nation, we spend more tax dollars per person than everyone else but Norway and Luxembourg. For this, we have millions uncovered, and the health outcomes for those of us who are covered are worse. Are we idiots?

The morons who are screaming lies about "death panels" must really enjoy overspending on less.

(h/t Avedon on Eschaton)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Somebody needs a timeout

Click image for full Signe Wilkinson cartoon.

Misty watercolor mem'ries

Click image for full Rob Rogers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoon.

Would I lie to you?

Click image for full MStreeter/Savannah Morning News cartoon.

American politics in an age of bullshit

Click image for full Dan Wasserman/Boston Globe cartoon.

Kindness of strangers

Most people who have been in the backcountry for any good length of time at all, including me, have benefited from the kindness of strangers. The moral obligation is that you look out for each other.

In this story, a stranger named Karen Picotte was instrumental in saving the life of a lost man hiking alone. Picotte acted altruistically even though her phone call did not take a huge effort.

This generosity of spirit is widely spread among humans and knows no ideological boundaries. There are differences in how it applies, however.

My mother is fond of saying that East Tennesseans would literally give you their shirt if they found you in dire straits, but that they'd never ever put together a program to distribute shirts to people in need.

Liberals like me are willing to tax ourselves and, yes, conservatives to make the moral obligation legal, as well as more consistent and widespread. Sometimes we do it badly, but the results are pretty good, despite what you may hear from libertarians who put their precious theories ahead of actual real-world facts. Look around: The high tax states with strong commitment to the common weal are by and large the wealthy states, while the low tax states without that commitment are the poor states.

Conservatives resent every dime they pay in taxes. Well, maybe not what goes to the military, to the police, and to themselves - but every other dime. They are happy to say when there's no Karen Picotte around to help: Tough luck, you deserve what happened to you.

Somewhere in that tough luck is a willingness to cast others in an out group aside that few people have when confronted with a single person in need, an eagerness to rationalize that bad choices are the problem (and they do sometimes contribute) instead of imperfect social organization.

No enemies to the right

On the national scene, there are no Republican moderates. Oh, sure, Colin Powell, but how many divisions does he have?

In Texas, of course, the Republican primary for governor is a contest between a hard-line conservative and an out-and-out frothing wingnut.

There is nothing useful to be gained from negotiating with these people.

Eyeballing the meniscus

Hang onto your natural joints. Orthopedic carpentry may have been a good option when there wasn't another option, but repairing knee cartilage and bone will eventually be waaay better than replacing it with teflon and titanium.

True, repair is not all the way here yet, and this article does save the worst for last:

But the scaffolds aren’t appropriate for everyone, Dr. [Bert] Mandelbaum said: “The problem is that sometimes they don’t integrate with the surrounding bone.”

One solution is to consider surgical intervention earlier in life and in the development of the problem being treated. “A 16-year-old will respond well to our interventions, but a person who has had a problem for 16 years might respond differently,” Dr. Mandelbaum said. “Every cartilage repair technique works better in the young.”

C'mon, I need a repair technique that works in middle age. (And since I'm a boomer, it's all about me, right?) Meanwhile, I'm sticking with glucosamine and ibuprofen.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hackneyed hackney hacks

It's bad policy to select the technology to meet mileage goals in a cab fleet. The result is what matters, not how it's achieved.

At the same time, the negotiated bargain between cabbies and the city of Boston to allow a fare increase in exchange for agreement to accept hybrids as mandated should now be repealed. They sued to get out of their side of the bargain? Fine. They shouldn't get the extra money.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Green cheese

Click image for full John Branch/San Antonio Express-News cartoon.

Time flies when you're middle-aged

Click image for full Bruce Plante/Tulsa World cartoon.

Days of our lives

Sarah Palin, stop her before she tweets again.

Sheila Jackson Lee dares to use a cell phone in search of the truth, how scandalous!

Mark Sanford, lonely heart in the guv'nah's mansion.

Regina Benjamin has had the temerity to advise Burger King to make their menu healthier. For pay, ZOMG!!!11!

Microscopic scrutiny of inconsequential events while giving the short shrift to momentous decisions is why we as a society and a set of political ideals are doomed.

Debate is not detergent

Belatedly, the White House is trying to disperse lies with facts. This is rational, sweet even, but it doesn't get to the heart of what they need to do. A little factual detergent won't magically clean away all the oily bullshit the other side is flinging.

The Republicans and their insurance company clients have scared a whole lot of weak-minded people. Yes, they've lied to do it. But simple truths won't bring back those who are afraid. You have to cut through their fears.

The long email that David Axelrod sent out may arm us Democrats with talking points, but no one we need to convince will read all three sets of eight points each. In case you want to prove me wrong, here it is:


Dear Friend,

This is probably one of the longest emails I’ve ever sent, but it could be the most important.

Across the country we are seeing vigorous debate about health insurance reform. Unfortunately, some of the old tactics we know so well are back — even the viral emails that fly unchecked and under the radar, spreading all sorts of lies and distortions.

As President Obama said at the town hall in New Hampshire, “where we do disagree, let's disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed.”

So let’s start a chain email of our own. At the end of my email, you’ll find a lot of information about health insurance reform, distilled into 8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage, 8 common myths about reform and 8 reasons we need health insurance reform now.

Right now, someone you know probably has a question about reform that could be answered by what’s below. So what are you waiting for? Forward this email.

Thanks,
David

David Axelrod
Senior Adviser to the President

P.S. We launched www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck this week to knock down the rumors and lies that are floating around the internet. You can find the information below, and much more, there. For example, we've just added a video of Nancy-Ann DeParle from our Health Reform Office tackling a viral email head on. Check it out:


8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage
  1. Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
  2. Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
  3. Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
  4. Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
  5. Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
  6. Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
  7. Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
  8. Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.
Learn more and get details: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/health-insurance-consumer-protections/

8 common myths about health insurance reform
  1. Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.
  2. We can’t afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.
  3. Reform would encourage "euthanasia": It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.
  4. Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
  5. Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
  6. Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
  7. You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
  8. No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.
Learn more and get details:
http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck
http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck/faq

8 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now
  1. Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/denied_coverage/index.html
  2. Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hiddencosts/index.html
  3. Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/women/index.html
  4. Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hardtimes
  5. Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/helpbottomline
  6. The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction
  7. Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people - one in every three Americans under the age of 65 - were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction/diminishing/index.html
  8. The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance - projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Learn more: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/assets/documents/CEA_Health_Care_Report.pdf

The need to fight back is real, but this is not an effective way. Seriously, is even a single persuadable going to read all that?

The Republican willingness - eagerness - to lie is the reason I've long advocated unrelenting attacks on their credibility by directly assaulting their honesty. If more Americans knew there's nothing to trust in the GOP's simplest statements, we could debate this in a civil, rational manner. But the White House ought to realize we're in a street fight, not Independence Hall.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Republicans know

Facts don't matter. Which is why we're doomed to be the 21st century's France, once intellectually dominant but soon relevant only nostalgically. With emphasis on the -algia.

Surprise! It's about wage suppression

The H-1B visa process has from the beginning been about suppressing wages in America.

The most common violation was not paying a prevailing wage to the H-1B beneficiary.
These visas were exactly the type of bipartisan effort that the prevailing bullshit centrist ideology wanted, and it works to the detriment of American wage-earners. Who does it help? The elite entrepreneur who can profit by the sale of America's birthright for his luxurious mess of pottage.

Infantile religion

People who think god is going to enforce their political views about health care have a narrow and primitive grasp of the enormousness of the universe.

Conservatives continue to fan the flames of ignorance, as they so often find it expedient to do. Democrats seem barely able to respond.

The first step, when the Republicans and their angry, ignorant constituents are telling or at least repeating lies, is to say flat out that they're lying. There are honest disagreements about policy, but most of this confrontation is about the knowing dissemination of falsehoods.

Republicans resort to lies because they can't win on the truth.

Update: Edited to fix a really bad sentence.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Harry and Louise?

Click image for full Hap Pitkin/Boulder Daily Camera cartoon.

And he is us

Bill Maher - read him. We might as well laugh as the American heyday shuffles off into idiocracy. All the fact-challenged screamers from health care forums to cable TV "news" won't listen to reason anyway.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Howie's job

I've never paid much attention to Howie Kurtz. He seemed like a waste of my time. Everything I read about him suggested that his role in commentary on the media was not to critique it but to protect its cozy relationship with conservative power.

Bingo! I just spent eight minutes I'll never get back watching him push forward right-wing talking point after right-wing talking point.

Kurtz's job is to defend the corporate Establishment and its Washington handmaidens against the slightest encroachment by the most tepid liberalism.

Orchestration

Orchestrating political protest and expression is not the problem. My side is orchestrating a response too. The problem is orchestration of groups to shout down dialog. That's what the conservatives are doing.

Wingnuts understand that shouting down one's opponent is bad when their people are being shouted down, just not when they're shouting.

Face it, if the Republicans keep this up, eventually someone is going to bring a gun to one of these forums.

Update (8/11): Yep, a conservative showed up with a gun. With a sign advocating bloodshed, though he didn't start that bloodshed. Oh, you thought he wanted to water the tree of liberty with water? He should have been arrested.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Run it like our favorite business

Click image to see full Dan Wasserman/Boston Globe cartoon.

Where the money is

In fountain pens, Mont Blanc no doubt.

Click image for full Jeff Danziger cartoon.

Freedom of choice


I choose no public option for everyone else!

Click image for full Matt Davies cartoon.

Poorly socialized

Click image for full Bruce Plante/Tulsa World cartoon.

Blocking out the scenery

If only they were civil enough to stick to signs, signs, everywhere a sign...

Click image for full Clay Bennett cartoon.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Rhetorical questions

How many of the people who thought it was just fine to arrest Henry Louis Gates in his own home for the so-called crime of shouting - labelled disorderly conduct - would also be fine arresting these tea-baggers for shouting in public? Who do you think was more disorderly?

For the record, since wingnuts are prone to leap to unwarranted and extreme conclusions, I wouldn't arrest any of them for making noise.

Look, it's a bit much for the Huffington Post to headline a little pushing and shoving and one ripped shirt as violence. But there's no doubt that the potential is there and growing, juiced by the Republican Party and its many media allies.

To compete as a Republican

... you have to be willing to tell blatant, outright, undeniable lies. In politics, practically everyone shades the truth. Yes, of course, even Democrats. Here's some normal political bullshit from Sarah Palin:

Palin discounted the administration’s view that the president’s plan would cut health care costs. The only path to lower costs, she said, was less treatment.
Never mind that anyone who can subtract can understand that the American health care system alone in the world spends hugely on overhead that doesn't contribute to care (that is, on insurance company bureaucracy). But this is a normal political deception. Those who don't engage in some happy talk and wishful thinking don't last very long, since most of us voters express our preference to be lied to in every poll.

What Palin and Limbaugh and the rest of the raving wingnuts are saying is well beyond any ordinary stretching and trimming. They and the entire Republican Party establishment are lying when they tell their rabid base that Democrats want to kill their family members. Yeah, that would meet our need for electoral popularity! We Democrats aren't even tough enough to even hurt Republicans in strictly legislative ways.

These Republicans know full well they're lying, but they know it's their path back to full exploitation of the severely polarized America that might reconsider its rejection of them. And they're calling us Nazis!

Update (8/10): Newt Gingrich stoops to defend this lie. Why is it again that the media views him as respectable?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Premature reactulation

Get ya Republican press releases, guaranteed to be the same old warmed over bullshit, no matter what events they pretend to respond to. This is why they can put press releases into the can and release them immediately with only minor or no tweaks.

In this case, there's some good news, although it is very weakly good news. This proves to Republicans that Obama and everything he has ever touched is evil. They would issue the same cavils if the news were truly and strongly good.

Yet over and over again the media will purvey the unvarying propaganda.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mainstreaming extremism

Sonia Sotomayor is now a Supreme Court Justice, which is a good thing.

There's a cloud in the silver lining, though. Only nine Republicans could bring themselves to support her, despite these facts:

  1. She's obviously a moderate, both temperamentally and judicially.
  2. She won't change the balance of the Court at all.
  3. She's diabetic and thus sadly unlikely to stay on the Court into her eighties.
  4. She represents now the aspirations of the fastest growing large ethnic demographic.
We are a deeply divided nation, and the Republican Party is committed to deepening those divisions. Had they simply acquiesced to the craven logic of Sotomayor being the very best option for them, they could have pointed toward greater political unity. Instead, they chose to trash her for, in essence, one decision and one comment.

Update (8/8): Now it's official.

Flattening the birthers

Alex Koppelman at Salon does the job.

The myth 8 rejoinder is the weakest, saved for last in the way of basic argument construction. The point of all these document releases is not to convince the unconvinceable crazies like Orly Taitz. It's to convince the persuadables who are still taking their meds.

Patented open thread

I've been involved in a, ah, discussion of JuxtaComm v. Ascential, et al, a software patent lawsuit that has been vehemently argued on Vincent McBurney's IT blog for many months now. Disclosure: I've been in the small minority of advocates for the defendants, even since the defendant I work for (which will remain unnamed here) settled on undisclosed terms.

At this point, there's one dispute McBurney has gotten tired of hosting (well, at least one). He's tired of the JuxtaComm shareholders bitching and back-biting over the allegedly duplicitous dealings of JuxtaComm's management team.

Experimentally, I'm going to offer them this open thread on which to continue the dispute. I won't referee or censor them unless they piss me off, though I reserve the right to delete posts that cross the line with me.

Who knows, maybe I'll expose the workings of casino capitalism (which this patent suit is) to my own withering attacks. Or maybe not. What I hope for is that they'll come here for the main course (in their view) and then hang around for some lovable liberal dessert, where the real intellectual nutrition is.

Always ready to escalate

The DNC asked people to call the RNC about health care. The RNC for its part redirected calls to the DNC to prove that planned disruption of forums is not their only weapon - they also have planned disruption of the DNC.

Given the Republicans' past illegal phone bombing of Democratic GOTV operations in New Hampshire, for which a couple of operatives were convicted, the RNC might want to rethink this. It's probably illegal.

But the Republicans don't do rethinking. They just go another notch.

Bottom line: Republicans have no interest in loyal opposition. Opposition is all they care about.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Making healthcare safe for Republican thuggery

Shorter Republican demagoguery: We're shouting you down at your forums, and your complaints about it are an attempt to shout us down.

Are they willing to use violence if shouting and screaming don't work?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Methadone for Buck Turgidson


Click image for full Bruce Beattie/Daytona Beach News-Journal cartoon.

Reverse incrimination

But it's his job to mouth off!

Click image for full David Horsey/Seattle Post-Intelligencer cartoon.

Counter-intuitive

Something I heard last night from a friend who happens to be my state rep: The Boston Herald drives what happens on Beacon Hill, especially in the House. I have to admit that I was shocked by this. I almost never read the Herald. Hardly anyone except hardcore wingnuts out here in the 'burbs reads the Herald. It's the paper for people who find the Globe too hard to read.

Conservative media outlets like the Herald relish propaganda. They don't see their role as objective. They see it as a counterbalance - against outlets like the Globe that do actually provide op-ed balance to their political ideology. By contrast, today the Herald has two conservative editorials (no surprise), three conservative op-eds, and Howie Carr for a clean sweep.

Maybe that's not representative. It looks as though I'll have to add the Herald to my news stack for a while to gather more data.

One of the op-eds comes from my bĂȘte noire Eric Fehrnstrom (professional Romney shill). He analyzes the 2010 Massachusetts gubernatorial race with the goal of electing Republican Charlie Baker. Former Democrat Tim Cahill, says Fehrnstrom, stands in the way, and the GOP needs to co-opt him.

Get this, Fehrnstrom's analysis is right (heh) on target. Another three-way race greatly benefits Deval Patrick.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Give voice to the billyclub

What's Bob Greene's gig at CNN? To give sympathetic interviews to reactionaries.

Look, being a Marxist, much less being a war protester with no revolutionary impulses, is not sufficient reason to have your skull bashed for the "crime" of free speech. Taunting comedically doesn't deserve assault. It's not even illegal to be an asshole, as some of the protesters surely were. Look, these cops getting back together is definitely not a reunion of the Waffen SS. I'm sure most of the cops had long and honorable careers. But they're not heroes for their police riot.

The cops weren't in the right in August 1968. Never mind whether one or two of them now "remember" that they opposed the Vietnam War, they brutally defended the existing pro-war Establishment order. Greene says that their defense of their riot here in 2009 was only attention-getting. Oh bullshit.

The reason there's no healing from this is that journalists like Greene continue to help with the rationalization of brutality. In forty years, someone will take this role to excuse the Constitutional crimes of the Bushist regime.

The lesson: As long as there is no accountability, there's no learning, no progress, no resolution.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

If you want a friend in Washington

... get a Facebook page. Be sure to take a look at the link Darth Cheney sent to Barack Obama.

Read this. It's worth twenty points off your systolic.

(h/t my friend Melissa and Pete Cashmore on Mashable)

Dissent of the governed

Click image for full Ruben Bolling cartoon.

Answering machines

Xerox and Kodak called. They want their trademarks back, too.

Click image for full Mike Keefe/Denver Post cartoon.

Restraining order


Click image for full Bruce Beattie/Daytona Beach News-Journal cartoon.

Next up, Tom and Jerry

I'll have Bill Maher's Old Barackee.

Click image for full Terry Wise cartoon.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Not even a surprise anymore

Bushists lie when they testify. No one screams about perjury and the importance of the rule of law.

The L word

When Betsy McCaughey tells Fred Thompson

that mandatory counseling sessions with Medicare beneficiaries would "tell them how to end their life sooner" and would teach the elderly how to "decline nutrition . . . and cut your life short." [emphasis added]
Ceci Connolly knows McCaughey's lying, but Connolly will never stoop to baldly stating that truth to her readers.

How do I know Connolly knows? Paragraph 2:
The controversy stems from a proposal to pay physicians who counsel elderly or terminally ill patients about what medical interventions they would prefer near the end of life and how to prepare instructions such as living wills. Under the plan, Medicare would reimburse doctors for one session every five years to confer with a patient about his or her wishes and how to ensure those preferences are followed. The counseling sessions would be voluntary. [emphasis added]
Connolly prefers reporting the controversy to reporting the truth. She has a long disreputable history of doing this. It allows her to put the conservative propaganda into play without taking responsibility for it.