31 July, 2009

Reports of Their Resurgence Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

If you listen to the more mainstream news outlets, you might get the impression that Obama's on the ropes and the Cons are coming back for a knockout punch. This is why it always pays to check the sources:

The Politico is at it again. It now proclaims that the Democrats are in trouble and the Republicans are on the offensive like it's 2004.

Bolstered by historical trends that work in the GOP’s favor -- midterm elections are typically hostile to the party in power -- and the prospect of the first election in a decade without former President George W. Bush either on the ballot or in office, Republicans find themselves on the offensive for the first time since 2004.

They actually said that. They haven't been attacking like maniacs since then? I guess calling Dems traitors and terrorist sympathizers is a compliment. As Glenn Greenwald takes their analysis apart, guess who their sources are that they use as proof that it's 2004 again.

Who are the sources for Politico's exciting announcement of a GOP resurgence? A grand total of three: "GOP pollster Whit Ayres," "GOP pollster John McLaughlin," and "Republican pollster Neil Newhouse," all of whom assure us that the signs point to imminent Republican triumph and Democratic doom.

Just read Glenn's piece because he thoroughly debunks them.
We don't call him "Glennzilla" for nothing, y'know.

Let's take a look at the political landscape and see how Cons are actually doing, shall we? Over to you, Kos:

Republicans started the year with 41 senators. Eight of them -- or 20 percent -- are ditching (or have already ditched) their caucus:

Kit Bond of Missouri, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Jim Bunning of Kentucky, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Mel Martinez of Florida, George Voinovich of Ohio, and as of today, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas have announced their retirements. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania switched parties. What's left is heavily concentrated in the South and Mormon Corridor:

After two consecutive electoral routs, the surviving Republicans generally represent the safest base turf. Republicans represent 17 of the 24 Southern seats, 10 of the 26 Western seats, 10 of the 26 Midwestern seats and just three of the 24 Northeastern seats. Republicans dominate just the South and the Mormon Corridor in the Rockies. The entire GOP Senate leadership hailed from those two regions until Sen. John Ensign (Nev.) resigned his leadership post because of scandal.

For a party that has become too South-heavy, potentially losing seats in Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio (among other places) won't help their ability to play better to a national mainstream audience.

The 2010 map isn't a friendly one for Republicans. The usual political prognosticators (Charlie Cook, Stu Rothenberg, CQ Politics, Swing State Project, and Larry Sabato) all give Democrats the edge, with just the ethically challenged Dodd in Connecticut generally making the list of endangered Democrats, while Republicans are facing serious pressure in Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Ohio. Louisiana and North Carolina aren't far behind. The May 2010 special election in Texas won't be a GOP cakewalk.

In the House?

As they gear up for the 2010 midterm elections, Democrats appear secure in their House majority they won with a big gain in 2006 and reinforced with another advance in 2008 [...]

The only three contests in which CQ Politics rates an advantage to the challenging party are all for seats now held by the Republicans and targeted by the Democrats:

The consensus is clear. Democrats are headed toward modest pickups in both chambers in 2010.
Viva la differance! Amazing what happens when you check in with regular prognosticators rather than GOP hacks, innit?

As long as Dems don't completely fuck up on health care reform by trying to please the Grand Old Psychotics, 2010 should see yet another session of voters handing the GOP their collective asses. This will be fun.

Wanna Buy the State Capitol?

It ain't oceanfront property, but hey - who needs that when you can own the capitol?

Tax phobia taken to extremes in Arizona:

Call it a sign of desperate times: Legislators are considering selling the House and Senate buildings where they've conducted state business for more than 50 years.

Dozens of other state properties also may be sold as the state government faces its worst financial crisis in a generation, if not ever. The plan isn't to liquidate state assets, though.

Instead, officials hope to sell the properties and then lease them back over several years before assuming ownership again. The complex financial transaction would allow government services to continue without interruption while giving the state a fast infusion of as much as $735 million, according to Capitol projections.

For a nation that prides itself as being the cradle of the philosophy of pragmatism, we sure do twist ourselves into impractical pretzels in order to avoid paying one more cent for the public--and shared, common--good.

What's that old saying? Penny-wise, pound foolish?

Someone really needs to explain that proverb to the anti-tax fucktards.

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

You may notice the temperature in the cantina is nearly tolerable. That's because my Holmes Twin Window Fan arrived this morning, and the Murphy's Law sub clause pertaining to items becoming obsolete as soon as you obtain them came into full effect. The heat wave started breaking nearly instantaneously.

You're welcome, Seattle.

That said, it's still not anything approaching cold around here, so having a twin window fan lodged in my bedroom window is one of the best things that's ever happened to me. For all of you living without A/C who've ever wondered if one of those things is worth the expense: it is. Buy yourself one forthwith.

Although the weather is no longer burning hot, the stupid most assuredly is. Let us begin with the ongoing saga of Con dumbfuckery regarding health care reform. The next time some idiot Con starts spouting to you about how Obama's coming to kill your granny, ask them if they knew that the plot actually began with a Republican:

As I’ve been noting, conservatives and Republican leaders have been running wild with the claim that the House Dems’ health care reform bill, by offering Medicare funding for “end of life consultations,” could lead to mass “government-encouraged euthanasia.”

But it turns out a GOP Senator, Susan Collins, sponsored a virtually identical initiative this spring, before this became an anti-reform GOP talking point — and praised it as necessary to improving our health care system’s “care for patients at the end of their lives.”

This sharply undercuts the GOP and conservative claim — unless, of course, you believe Collins backed an initiative she thinks could lead to mass government extermination of the elderly. Though this talking point has been debunked multiple times, conservatives and GOP leaders like John Boehner continue to employ it with abandon.

On May 22nd, Senators Collins and Jay Rockefeller introduced the “Advance Planning and Compassionate Care Act,” according to a press release sent over by a source. The measure provides Medicare funding “for advance care planning so that patients can routinely talk to their physicians about their wishes for end-of-life care,” the release says.

This could only mean one thing: the GOP wants to kill Grandma!!1!11!one!

Either that, or people who actually care about seniors are trying to make sure they have all the resources they need when making tough choices about their final days, not to mention ensuring their wishes are understood and respected, and a bunch of flaming fuckwits in the GOP decided for political reasons to put a murderous spin on the whole thing.

When it comes to killing health care reform, no lie is too big for them. Why, Mark Pence is telling a trillion-dollar lie right now:

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) has taken a leading role in the Republican efforts to lie and fearmonger about the Democrats’ health care plans in hopes of killing it. Last May, Pence argued the public option “will deprive roughly 120 million Americans of their current health care coverage,” a claim PolitiFact.com deemed to be “false.”

Pence was at it again this morning on MSNBC. This time, he claimed that the House health care bill recently scored by the Congressional Budget Office “will literally cost nearly a trillion dollars in higher taxes.” Host Carlos Watson immediately jumped in. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,” Watson interjected, “unless you’re looking at different data than I’m looking at, I don’t remember there being a trillion dollars in new taxes.” Pence said he was “rounding up,” and then later revised his figure to $800 billion. But Watson wouldn’t budge, and neither would Pence:

WATSON: I’m very clear that we are not talking about anywhere close to a trillion or $800 billion in new taxes…so if you’ve got data from the CBO that suggests that some of the proposals on the table…represent that much in new taxes then that’s significant new information. Where are you getting that?

PENCE: Well I don’t think that’s significant new information I think the estimates we’ve all been working with from the CBO are in the — I’m trying to remember — it’s about the $800 billion range in the estimated cost of new taxes. … That’s really all out there Carlos.

[snip] Pence’s claims are indeed “out there” in that they aren’t true. In fact, the CBO’s preliminary estimate of the House bill said that its entire cost would be just over $1 trillion over 10 years. $540 billion of that (i.e. not $800 billion or $1 trillion) would be paid for with new taxes on the rich affecting just 1.2 percent of U.S. households. The rest of the bill would be fully offset by savings in Medicare and other health systems.
Meanwhile, Florida Cons are doubling down on insane stupidity, and trying to outlaw health care reform before it's passed:
As the Obama administration and Congress work to pass legislation that would expand affordable coverage for all Americans, some state lawmakers are trying to preemptively undermine those efforts.

Earlier this week, Florida State Senator Carey Baker (R) and State Representative Scott Plakon (R) introduced a state Constitutional amendment that, if adopted, would prevent Floridians from enrolling in any federal health care plan. The language of House Joint Resolution 37 states:

To preserve the freedom of all residents of the state to provide for their own health care:

A law or rule shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system.

“We believe this unprecedented power-grab by President Obama and Congress is clearly not in the best interests of the citizens of Florida,” Baker and Plakon said in a joint statement.
[snip] The Orlando Sentinel notes, “Nearly 4 million Floridians are uninsured presently, and an effort last year by Gov. Charlie Crist and the Legislature called ‘Cover Florida’ to try and make more no-frills coverage plans available without placing mandates on businesses or insurers has so far failed to make a dent in that number.”
So, two of the cornerstones of health care reform - mandates and a public option - would be outlawed if Florida Cons have their way, even though they have proof that no mandates and no public option don't fucking work. Brilliant. A shining example of how Cons fail to govern.

And people do notice, despite what they believe:

I noted below that the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll suggests that Obama’s “brand” has taken a real hit, as voters start to take a dour view of his handling of health care reform.

But the flipside of the story, which isn’t getting any real attention today, is that today’s polls also paint a dire picture for Republicans, and suggest they’re really taking it on the chin for blocking health care reform. The internals of today’s New York Times poll say this:

* Only 28% view the GOP favorably, the lowest since at least 2005.

* A huge majority wants major changes to the health care system, and a plurality says Obama is reforming health care at “the right pace.” The public wants change now, meaning voters will probably extract a major price if it doesn’t get done.

* Voters blame Republicans, and not Obama, for obstructionism: Fifty nine percent say Obama is working with the GOP on health care reform, versus only 33% who say Republicans are working with the president.

* Fifty five percent says Obama has the right ideas for health care reform, versus only 26% — barely more than one-fourth — who say the GOP does.

Those numbers should make the Cons wonder just who voters will blame if health care reform fails. Should, but won't - not even when they're sitting around in 2010 wondering just why they got shunned at the ballot box again. Some people never do learn.

Speaking of learning, it appears Max "Must Eviscerate Reform for Con Approval" Baucus could suffer a painful and humilating lesson if he doesn't take a hint:

When it comes to health care, there are some strong Democratic voices on the Finance Committee, including John Kerry, Debbie Stabenow, Chuck Schumer, Maria Cantwell, and John Rockefeller, but they're not invited to the negotiating table. It's Baucus who's in the lead, and it's Baucus who won't advance reform until he can win over some conservative senators.

Apparently, there are some senators who are wondering why Baucus has this much power, and what the caucus might do to change this.

In an apparent warning to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), some liberal Democrats have suggested a secret-ballot vote every two years on whether or not to strip committee chairmen of their gavels.

Baucus, who is more conservative than most of the Democratic Conference, has frustrated many of his liberal colleagues by negotiating for weeks with Republicans over healthcare reform without producing a bill or even much detail about the policies he is considering.

"Every two years the caucus could have a secret ballot on whether a chairman should continue, yes or no," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "If the 'no's win, [the chairman's] out."

Well, that's certainly one way to get Baucus' attention. "That's a nice gavel you have there, Max. It'd be a shame if something happened to it."

Well, Max, you can only fuck your party so many ways before they start considering how to fuck you back. Democrats are a tolerant lot, but there's limits. Have you broken them? Let's just say that if the limits in question were speed limits and your actions as chairman represented your speed, you'd be desperately trying to explain to Officer Friendly why you were going 97 in a 25mph zone.

Moving on to non-health care reform related stupidity (despite the fact Last Hussar hates it when I do this), Bobby Jindal's still having difficulty giving credit where it's due:

Yesterday on CNN, host Wolf Blitzer asked Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) about the state of the Louisiana economy. Jindal quickly boasted that he was “proud” of his state’s job growth and “economic development.” Given Jindal’s apparent belief that the recession is over in his state, Blitzer then asked if he was willing to give Obama “some credit” for the $3.2 billion dollars Jindal is accepting from the Recovery Act:

BLITZER: Are you ready to give the president of the United States some credit for turning — helping to turn this economy around?

JINDAL: Look, I love what he says. And I — I do have a lot of skepticism about, in D.C., the fact they think that we can spend our way into prosperity, borrow our way into prosperity. Now they want to tax our way into prosperity. [...]

BLITZER: Excuse me for interrupting. Let’s stay on the stimulus for a second. Louisiana — we just checked — they were getting, your state, $3.3 billion, part of the economic recovery, the stimulus money. Already, they have made, what, they say, $2.2 billion available. They have paid out almost a half-a- million — a half-a-billion dollars, $480 million. I assume, even though you — you hated the stimulus package, you’re taking the money, and it’s helping. [...]

He's not only taking the money, he's signing his name to the checks and bragging about how good he is for Louisiana, even though he rejected some of the desperately-needed funds, and even though it's federal money he's handing out. Good on Wolf for actually spanking him over it.

In other news, anti-pork crusader Pete Sessions just got caught with his nose deep in the trough:
Rep. Pete Sessions (R) of Texas, the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, probably wants to focus his energies right now on recruiting and fundraising. He may want to take a moment, however, to explain his support for this earmark from last year.

[Sessions] steered a $1.6 million earmark for dirigible research to an Illinois company whose president acknowledges having no experience in government contracting, let alone in building blimps.

What the company did have: the help of Adrian Plesha, a former Sessions aide with a criminal record who has made more than $446,000 lobbying on its behalf.

While lawmakers routinely support earmarks for their home district and/or state, this particular measure has nothing to do with Sessions' Dallas-area district. The company, Jim G. Ferguson & Associates, is based in a Chicago suburb. It has an office in Texas, but it's 300 miles from Sessions' district.

What's more, when Sessions submitted the earmark, he used a Dallas address for the company, but it was actually the address of a friend of one of the company's executives.

Earmarks aren't always bad. Earmarks for a company that can't do what the money's intended for, and that are gained through a bunch of chicanery, are bad. I look forward to Pete's explanation. It should be highly entertaining.

Pete, of course, isn't the only one feeding at the trough. Lawmakers threw a lot of unwanted gifts into that legislation:

And gee, I wonder how many of the people voting for this expensive pork barrel of a bill are the same Blue Dogs who are restricting health care because of "fiscal responsibility"?

The Democratic-controlled House is poised to give the Pentagon dozens of new ships, planes, helicopters and armored vehicles that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says the military does not need to fund next year, acting in many cases in response to defense industry pressures and campaign contributions under an approach he has decried as "business as usual" and vowed to help end.

The unwanted equipment in a military spending bill expected to come to a vote on the House floor Thursday or Friday has a price tag of at least $6.9 billion.

If Obama doesn't use his threatened veto, I hope Gates can use the UPS Regifter to his advantage.

And, finally, for your LOL moment o' the day, here's an image so ridiculous you'll likely spill your drink:

I can appreciate outside-the-box thinking as much as the next blogger, and I realize the appeal of contrarian arguments hold for many editors.

But Newsweek ran a piece yesterday from Gregory Levey arguing that President Obama should make George W. Bush his envoy to the Middle East. Seriously.

Indeed. This is the person Levey recommends:


And the media wonders why they're such a laughingstock.

30 July, 2009

I Need to Get a Restraining Order

Phoenix is stalking me. Here's the evidence:*



A large northward amplification of the jet stream has allowed hot air to creep up from the Desert Southwest. That combined with a blazing sun and nearly zero flow off the Pacific has promoted the record-setting temperatures.
Look, Phoenix, when I left you, I expected you to respect my decision. This following me all the way up to Seattle shit - it's got to stop. Keep your fucking 103 degree days to yourself, buster.

*Bastards. Apparently, that page wasn't archived. Thanks to Cujo for the heads-up, thus allowing me to find the original photo, if not the original story.

Simon Singh's Takedown of the Chiropractic Industry: Raw and Unedited

My darlings, I have got something PZ hasn't got: the original Simon Singh article that launched a libel suit over the word "bogus." Thanks to Orac, we can see it in all its original glory:

A while back, I wrote about the grievous miscarriage of justice that occurred to Simon Singh in the form of a ruling against him in the libel suit brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association. Suffice it to say, that the BCA is using the U.K.'s exceedingly plaintiff-friendly libel laws to silence legitimate criticism of the dubious practices of its members. This resulted in a campaign from the British pro-science organization Sense About Science to Keep Libel Laws Out of Science.

Now, I learn that, true to Internet tradition, the attempt to suppress information or punish someone for utilizing his free speech rights is boomeranging, as it nearly always does. Dozens of blogs and websites are reprinting a lawyer-sanitized version of Singh's original article, which lack a couple of sentences, namely the allegedly defamatory sentences plus one other that I can't for the life of me figure out why the lawyers removed. Personally, I don't see the point of using the lawyer-scrubbed version, and here's why. The very point of commenting on this libel case is to point out how outrageously illogical and illiberal Judge Eady's ruling on the meaning of "bogus" in the context of the article is. How can readers know what all the fuss is about if a lawyer-sanitized version of the article is all that they can see?

[snip]

So read and judge for yourself if Judge Eady made a reasonable ruling. Is this article libelous? I don't think so. The sentences everyone else is excluding are in bold:

--------------
Beware the spinal trap

Some practitioners claim it is a cure-all but research suggests chiropractic therapy can be lethal

Simon Singh
The Guardian, Saturday April 19 2008

This is Chiropractic Awareness Week. So let's be aware. How about some awareness that may prevent harm and help you make truly informed choices? First, you might be surprised to know that the founder of chiropractic therapy, Daniel David Palmer, wrote that, "99% of all diseases are caused by displaced vertebrae". In the 1860s, Palmer began to develop his theory that the spine was involved in almost every illness because the spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body. Therefore any misalignment could cause a problem in distant parts of the body.

In fact, Palmer's first chiropractic intervention supposedly cured a man who had been profoundly deaf for 17 years. His second treatment was equally strange, because he claimed that he treated a patient with heart trouble by correcting a displaced vertebra.

You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact they still possess some quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything. And even the more moderate chiropractors have ideas above their station. The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.

I can confidently label these treatments as bogus [changed to "utter nonsense" in the scrubbed version] because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world's first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.

But what about chiropractic in the context of treating back problems? Manipulating the spine can cure some problems, but results are mixed. To be fair, conventional approaches, such as physiotherapy, also struggle to treat back problems with any consistency. Nevertheless, conventional therapy is still preferable because of the serious dangers associated with chiropractic.

In 2001, a systematic review of five studies revealed that roughly half of all chiropractic patients experience temporary adverse effects, such as pain, numbness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. These are relatively minor effects, but the frequency is very high, and this has to be weighed against the limited benefit offered by chiropractors.

More worryingly, the hallmark technique of the chiropractor, known as high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust, carries much more significant risks. This involves pushing joints beyond their natural range of motion by applying a short, sharp force. Although this is a safe procedure for most patients, others can suffer dislocations and fractures.

Worse still, manipulation of the neck can damage the vertebral arteries, which supply blood to the brain. So-called vertebral dissection can ultimately cut off the blood supply, which in turn can lead to a stroke and even death. Because there is usually a delay between the vertebral dissection and the blockage of blood to the brain, the link between chiropractic and strokes went unnoticed for many years. Recently, however, it has been possible to identify cases where spinal manipulation has certainly been the cause of vertebral dissection.

Laurie Mathiason was a 20-year-old Canadian waitress who visited a chiropractor 21 times between 1997 and 1998 to relieve her low-back pain. On her penultimate visit she complained of stiffness in her neck. That evening she began dropping plates at the restaurant, so she returned to the chiropractor. As the chiropractor manipulated her neck, Mathiason began to cry, her eyes started to roll, she foamed at the mouth and her body began to convulse. She was rushed to hospital, slipped into a coma and died three days later. At the inquest, the coroner declared: "Laurie died of a ruptured vertebral artery, which occurred in association with a chiropractic manipulation of the neck."

This case is not unique. In Canada alone there have been several other women who have died after receiving chiropractic therapy, and Professor Ernst has identified about 700 cases of serious complications among the medical literature. This should be a major concern for health officials, particularly as under-reporting will mean that the actual number of cases is much higher.

Bearing all of this in mind, I will leave you with one message for Chiropractic Awareness Week - if spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost certainly have been taken off the market.

· Simon Singh is the co-author of Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial

www.simonsingh.net

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

So, if one day of unseasonably cold weather means global warming's bunk, does two days of record-breaking temperatures mean it's totally for real? Every global warming denier in the Seattle area should now be a true believer by their own standards of evidence. We're on hypocrisy watch, my darlings.

And I bring this up because I'm still roasting, so Happy Hour may be a little lethargic. Just so's you know.

Since we're experiencing Phoenix-quality heat here in Seattle, let's kick things off by bashing Arizona's other shame, Sen. Jon Kyl, who believes health insurance companies are already honest enough:
President Obama has explained that one of the reasons he supports a robust public option as a competitor to private insurers is to “force waste out of the system and keep the insurance companies honest.” Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), who opposes a public option, tells the Wall Street Journal that insurance companies don’t need to be kept honest:

“The health insurance industry is one of the most regulated industries in America,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) on the Senate floor Monday. “They don’t need to be ‘kept honest’ by the government.”

I'm sure all the victims of recissions, outrageous premium increases, and deductibles that destroy their retirement funds will be very glad to hear that their insurance company "doesn't need to be kept honest."

Meanwhile, back in the Senate's health care chop shop, Sen. Enzi demonstrates his remarkable confusion about the types of demands a minority party can make:
Reports vary as to just how close the Senate Finance Committee's gang of six is to some kind of deal. I'm sure they'll get back to us at some point in the future.

More interesting, though, was a statement issued by Mike Enzi, the conservative Wyoming Republican who is participating in the six-member negotiations. After explaining that the Finance Committee still has a ways to go, Enzi explained his expectations about the future of the process.

Enzi said that Reid and Pelosi would have to commit to leaving any bipartisan agreements in place once the bill goes to conference.

"I also need commitments from Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi, as well as the Administration, that the bipartisan agreements reached in the Finance Committee will survive in a final bill that goes to the president," Enzi added.

Well, I'll gladly give Enzi credit for having chutzpah. But as a serious proposition, this is almost comical.

Look, five committees in two chambers are trying to pass health care reform. Each understands that after approving a bill, their committee's work will have to be reconciled with other committees' work, before eventually reconciling the House and Senate versions.

Enzi is saying that this isn't good enough. This conservative Republican "needs" a "commitment" from the Democratic White House, the Democratic House Speaker, and the Democratic Senate Majority Leader that all of them will leave intact the work he and five other senators worked out in secret. No changes allowed.

Perhaps Enzi is taking advantage of some kind of prescription drug benefit already, because only someone who's heavily medicated would think this makes sense.

Now, Harry Reid would probably forget that minority party = in no position to make dumbfuck demands. But Nancy Pelosi's made of sterner stuff, and I have a feeling we may see her in here later borrowing the Smack-o-Matic for use in an educational discussion with Enzi. I just hope she delivers that spanking in public.

Hopefully, it will be as delightful as the spanking TPM reporter Zachary Roth delivered to Politico:

In recent days, a new right-wing scare tactic on health-care has blossomed on conservative blogs and emails lists: the notion that the reform bill making its way through the House would lead to euthanasia by requiring senior citizens to submit to "end-of-life consultations."

It won't surprise you to learn this is a lie. But President Obama just got a question on it at a public event. And the idea has now made it into Politico, where a straight news story asks in its headline, all even-handed: "Will proposal promote euthanasia?" Since Politico thinks it'll be easier to "win the morning" by misleading readers into believing there's a legitimate debate over this issue, it's worth taking a minute to debunk it.

In fact, Politico's story contains pretty much all the information needed to do that. It's just that almost none of it makes it into the headline, or the first seven paragraphs of the piece, which focus on the fact that Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and other reforms opponents are raising the euthanasia alarm.

And hopefully it will be as enjoyable to watch as a GOP doctor debunking his own party's bullshit:

As I noted below, Republican leaders and conservatives have turned the provision in the House Dems’ health care bill about Medicare-funded “end of life consultations” into a top target, banging away at it mercilessly in one forum after another.

But it turns out the idea has an unlikely supporter, though with caveats: A House Republican who is also a former heart surgeon.

Louisiana GOP Rep Charles Boustany’s spokesperson tells me his boss supports using Medicare to fund end of life conversations, in which elderly patients discuss remaining options.

“Many seniors don’t have access to friends or family who can have these conversations,” Boustany’s spokesman, Rick Curtsinger, told me. Medicare would give doctors “incentives” to have them, the spokesman said, adding that it was critical that “both the doctor and the patient understand what the patients wants and what is available to them.”

Good on yer, Rep. Boustany. It's always nice when a little sanity wafts over from the other side of the aisle.

It would be even nicer if the WaPo would stop running opinion pieces that have nothing to do with reality:
In a Washington Post op-ed yesterday, Martin Feldstein argued, "Obama has said that he would favor a British-style 'single payer' system in which the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are salaried but that he recognizes that such a shift would be too disruptive to the health-care industry."

That is plainly false. As Jon Chait explained yesterday:

Obama has never said that he favors a British-style health care system. Britain does not have a single-payer system. It has a socialized system, where the government directly employs all health care providers. Indeed, if you follow the link in Feldstein's own column, it says, "A single-payer system would eliminate private insurance companies and put a Medicare-like system into place where the government pays all health-care bills with tax dollars." Does Medicare own hospitals and pay doctors government salaries? No. Professor Feldstein, please stop writing about topics you know nothing about.

I naively expected the Post to run a correction. It was a mistake for the paper to publish the bogus claim in the first place, but it's an error that's easy enough to correct. Especially in the middle of a heated debate over health care policy, it only makes sense that D.C.'s newspaper would want readers to know that Feldstein's claim is demonstrably untrue.

After all, as Paul Krugman explained, "Single-payer, as anyone who has paid the least bit of attention to the health care debate knows, means a system like Medicare, in which the government pays the bills. It absolutely does not mean a British-style system -- and Obama definitely didn't advocate anything of the sort.... [I]f I misstated the facts like this in the Times, I'd be required to publish a correction."

As of this afternoon, there's been no correction or clarification.

Since when did major newspapers decide that facts are optional? For fuck's sake. No wonder Americans are so bloody misinformed about health care issues.

While we're on the subject of media clowns... the National Review Online takes a moment out of its busy schedule of lies, damned lies, and total fucktardedness to bitch and moan about GI Joe's outfit:

Conservative cesspool National Review Online's John J. Miller apparently has nothing important to write about. Yesterday he expressed grave concern (warning: NRO link) as to whether or not the upcoming G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra movie will be American enough. "I keep wondering: Is G.I. Joe still an American?" he ponders.

His evidence, which is based on his viewing of a couple trailers, leafing through the book and comic tie-ins at the store, and the movie's website, is thus:

The old logo was red, white, and blue. Now the dominant image is black.

Now we all know that black is evil, but who knew that the U.S. Army isn't American any more. Neither is the U.S. Air Force. If only they had more colorful logos.

Nobody wears green Army uniforms. Instead, the good guys appear to put on silver-plated robocop armor.

The things that keep Cons awake at night really do amuse me.

And, for your special bonus fucktardedness, here's Faux News taking Iraq out of the picture:

Never try to visit the pyramids of Giza with these assclowns. It would go very badly for you, and not just because Faux News staffers are such awful company.

Carnival of the Elitist Bastards XV: Storm the Beaches!


COTEB XV be up at the Coffee-Stained Writer. Captain NP threw us a beach party worthy o' the name o' Elitist Bastard!

So rather than hopping from port to port, we'll be hopping from lounger to lounger, towel to towel, taking in the relaxed, rum-drunk rhetoric of our crew, giving them a bit of a break before they take back to the choppy waters that will be sure to meet them next month.
Aye, I feel refreshed already! Grab yer cocktail and join us on the beach for a bit o' well-deserved R&R. Huzzah!

(Postdated so nobody misses the party. New content below.)

29 July, 2009

I Can Haz Video!

I've spent the majority of this freakishly hot night figuring out how to use my video editing software. Not that my camera's really that great at shooting it, but some of the footage from my trip will figure in to a future Sunday Sensational Science, and believe me when I say that you'd vastly prefer it edited than raw. Unless, of course, you like extraordinarily crappy sound and a bunch of fumbling around before the decent stuff plays.

No? Well, then, you'll be grateful for my newly-minted mad editing skillz.

And on a hot night, what's nicer than a clip of the waterfall at Montezuma's Well?

video

Soundtrack courtesy of Duran Duran covering Led Zepplin. And yes, the letterboxing is correct: this video was shot vertical. I'd prefer you not ask how long it took me to figure out how to flip the damned thing.

This almost inspires me to buy a decent camcorder. Hooray for modern technology!

Way to Win the Latino Vote, There, GOP

When courting a particular voting bloc, it's generally a good idea to at least show a smidgen of interest in them:

This one won’t help the GOP’s minority outreach efforts.

The National Council of La Raza, a top Latino civil rights group, is taking a shot at RNC chair Michael Steele and several prominent GOP figures for skipping its ongoing annual conference, saying it raises questions about the GOP’s interest in wooing Latinos.

NCLR spokesperson Marie Watteau confirms to me that Steele, along with three Republican governors, were all invited to its conference, which is concluding today with a big speech by DNC chair Tim Kaine. But Steele and the three governors — Mississippi’s Haley Barbour, Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty, and Puerto Rico’s Luis Fortuno — all declined the invitations through the RNC, Watteau says.

Watteau adds that GOPers like Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain and both George Bushes have attended past conferences.

“You should certainly speak to the Republican Party about why they’re not here,” Watteau told me. “The Latino community is open to hearing from both sides, which is why both parties were invited. The Republican Party not being here may demonstrate a lack of commitment to our community.”

Standing Latinos up en masse: not a good vote-getting move.

Neither is this:
A Senate committee endorsed Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday in a vote that splintered nearly along party lines, signaling that Republicans will not hesitate to oppose the first Hispanic nominee to the nation's highest court when the full Senate decides whether to confirm her next week.

Only one Republican,
Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina, joined the Senate Judiciary Committee's dozen Democrats in supporting Sotomayor. The six GOP senators who stood against her included two from states with heavy Hispanic populations and two veteran senators who had never before voted against a Supreme Court nominee.
Snubbing a major Latino civil rights group and then voting against a Latina Supreme Court nominee are the kinds of things you do when you don't want Latino votes. They're more like the things you do when you're determined to remain a pathetic regional party of pasty-white males with a base made up of Birthers, racists, and the occasional very confused minority or female. And that may indeed be what you want - but if so, you'd better resign yourselves to a very long stay in the wilderness.

Jus' sayin'.

One-Trick Ponies: Michelle Malkin Edition

You know, I know these people are conservative, and I know that conservatives generally don't like to change things up, but this is ridiculous:

Michelle Malkin has a new book out. If it's as well researched as her two most recent outings -- which featured the classic right-wing technique of gathering any smidgen of evidence one can find to support a thesis (no matter how dubious or downright false) while carefully excising any smidgen of contradictory evidence (no matter how mountainous) -- it promises to be a real mess.

Malkin was on Sean Hannity's program last night touting it. I was particularly interested in how she described it -- heavy on innuendo, intimations of shady dealings, and a major emphasis on First Lady Michelle Obama as a kind of Machiavellian manipulator running the show from behind the scenes. She labels her "the First Crony."

This has a familiar ring, doesn't it? The wingnut right attacked Bill Clinton relentlessly as a corrupt Southerner involved in shady dealings (think Whitewater or Mena), while the Evil Hillary ran the show behind the scenes. And the mainstream right made heavy use of these attacks.

It's just deja vu all over again.

For fuck's sake, Malkin - if you're gonna kill trees, at least try not to pump out such formulaic fiction. Get a ghost writer if you have to. For a bunch of people who are such experts at making shit up, you'd think you could come up with something at least a little fresh and new.

Oh, and it might've helped the willing suspension of disbelief if you'd at least waited until Obama had been in office a year. Putting out this little potboiler so early in his presidency - it doesn't make those claims of "the most corrupt Administration in American history!11!!one!" even remotely plausible.

If you're not careful, even your most avid fans might wake up to the fact you're a no-talent hack, and then where will you be?

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Someone needs to explain to Sen. Max Baucus that throwing the 76% of the population that wants meaningful health care reform under the bus is not a healthy career move:
The good news is, the Senate Finance Committee, which has held up health care reform efforts, is nearing the end of its negotiations. The bad news is, the negotiators have apparently come up with a bad bill.

The New York Times reports today on the ongoing talks between six committee members -- Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) -- who reportedly agree on the broad outline of a bipartisan plan.

The group, which includes no genuine progressives and is made up entirely of senators from states with no major urban areas, seem to have no use for liberal benchmark measures.

Already, the group of six has tossed aside the idea of a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers, which the president supports but Republicans said was a deal-breaker. Instead, they are proposing a network of private, nonprofit cooperatives.

They have also dismissed the House Democratic plan to pay for the bill's roughly $1 trillion, 10-year cost partly with an income surtax on high earners. The three Republicans have insisted that any new taxes come from within the health care arena. As one option, Democrats have proposed taxing high-end insurance plans with values exceeding $25,000.

The Senate group also seems prepared to drop a requirement, included in other versions of the legislation, that employers offer coverage to their workers.

The AP is reporting similar details -- no public option, no employer mandate, no millionaire surtax.

The co-ops are an inadequate substitute for a public option, which Baucus had vowed to "fight tooth and nail" for. Moreover, the elimination of an employer mandate makes holding down costs that much more difficult.

Baucus, in other words, has prioritized Republican support for a bill over the quality of the bill, and has given up on some of the key priorities Democrats, including the president, have prioritized from the outset.

Unholster your phones, my darlings, and get crack-a-lackin':
This would be a very good day to flood the offices of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Sens. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, the Democrats slicing and dicing away our future, with PHONE CALLS (not emails) telling them you want a strong public option....
While you're bawling these bastards out, you might want to remind them that the Finance Committee is supposed to deal in finances, not create their own shitty health care reform bill:
I'd just like to dial everybody back for a second and note that this is the Senate Finance Committee. In practice this hasn't been honored, but in theory the group has jurisdiction over the financing of Medicare and setting up the revenue stream for a health care bill. Since pretty much everything costs something, that mandate has expanded into writing an entire bill. But in an ideal world, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee would write the health care bill, and the Finance Committee would direct how to pay for it.
If you need to borrow the Smack-o-Matic, it's on the wall behind the bar. Use it well. Prove to Jane Hamsher that we can, indeed, whip the Senate - as long as we're wielding the correct whip for the job.

For additional fun, should you have a health care horror story, shoot a video of it and send it on to Crooks and Liars. John Amato would like to shove Congress' noses in the fact that even with health insurance, wrestling the care you need from your insurance company is an utter fucking nightmare.

And tell Harry Reid to grow a fucking spine.

That's about it for the action items on the agenda. Let's turn our not-so-tender attention to the Cons, who claim they have no influence over health care reform, and yet strangely keep fear-mongering in an effort to kill it. Once again, they are lying for the cause:

On CNBC today, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani claimed that President Obama made health care reform “an entirely political program” when he “took tort reform off the table.” “How can you ask Republicans to be part of a bipartisan group” without discussing tort reform, asked Giuliani:

GIULIANI: I thought when President Obama took tort reform off the table, you know, doing something about the excessive cost for doctors being sued, he made it an entirely political program. I mean how can you ask Republicans to be part of a bipartisan group when you take tort reform, which is one of the major causes of expense in the health care system off the table? Shouldn’t that be part of, shouldn’t that be part of a whole re-ogranization of health care?

[snip]

While it’s true that Obama told the American Medical Association last month that he’s “not advocating caps on malpractice awards,” its been reported that he told AMA representatives in private that it “should be considered as part of any health care overhaul.” Additionally, Time’s Karen Tumulty reported in May that Obama specifically put it “on the table” in negotiations with Republicans, but the GOP wasn’t willing to deal...
So, Rudy, answer me a question. Why don't Cons want tort reform?

Oh, and Rudy - malpractice is a drop in the fucking bucket. We're talking a lousy two percent of health care costs. Maybe you should've stayed with a noun, a verb, and 9-11.

In other stupid Con news, Rep. Virginia "Everybody Has Health Care!" Foxx just jumped on the Obama-the-granny-slayer meme with a vengeance:
Anyway, today she came up with a brand new health care reform objection when she said that the Republican health care plan -- whatever that is! -- would "make sure we bring down the cost of health care for all Americans and that ensures affordable access for all Americans and is pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government."
Do these people really believe a single fucking word coming out of their own mouths? If so, why the fuck aren't they hospitalized?

They've gone so psychotic, they think it's okay to use taxpayer dollars to mail their lying little chart around:
Seems that House Republicans are looking to spend taxpayer funds sending a mailing to constituents showcasing the chart. Dems are crying foul, saying the chart is false and that House rules prohibit the sending out of official mail if it’s misleading.
Look, you little shits, you used my tax dollars to fight a ridiculous war, spy on Americans, fund your little faith-based friends, enrich your corrupt corporate pals, and torture people, among a great many other things. Enough. If you want to send out yet more lies, go for it - on your own fucking dime.

Oh, and by the way - we're on to your little astroturfing schemes. But if you insist on keeping up pretenses, you might want to let your fake grassroots know that lynching Congressmen in effigy kinda sorta sends the wrong message.

My darlings, while you're calling dumbfuck Dem senators today, you might want to ask them why they're working so very hard to please a bunch of frothing insane, lying douchebags while giving 76% of the electorate the shaft.

28 July, 2009

Plantblogging: Stellar Nursery


My Starry Trail fuchsia seems like it's trying to live up to its name. It's trying to outdo the Orion Nebula in the new stars department.

Meanwhile, Mademoiselle is living up to animal kingdom gender stereotypes. She's letting the male do all the showing off, while she sits there plain and smug. She has one bud that maybe someday might if it really feels like it actually bloom - but she's changed her mind before. Fickle wench. Either that, or she's smart enough to relax during this heat wave of ours. It's 70 fucking degrees at five o' clock in the damned morning. That's not right for this latitude.

If anyone else wants to gripe about the heat or preen about their plants, feel free to deposit 2 cents in the comments. Myself, I'm going to bed with that sheet I put in the freezer...

Seriously. That's what I've been reduced to. Sad, isn't it?

Let Them Have Emergency Rooms

The Cons do so love to tell us everyone in America has access to health care. Why, all they have to do is go to the emergency room (h/t & h/t):

These are the modern-day breadlines: people desperate not for food, but for health care.

“We are working taxpaying jobs, paying taxes, and we can’t get insurance because we make $6.55 an hour,” said Laura Head, 32, of Rogersville, Tenn., the first person in line Friday for the first day of the Remote Area Medical clinic, an annual three-day event offering free medical care. “This is really a great beneficial thing, but it doesn’t have to be this way; we could all have insurance.”

A single mother of three who mows yards and moves trailers for a living, Head said she arrived at the fairgrounds Tuesday, to camp out at the fairgrounds until the health fair began Friday morning. Her motivation was simple: severe, constant pain.

Close to two years ago, her boyfriend smashed her teeth, she said – but, without the $6,000 needed to have the teeth pulled she has endured infection after infection, making literally 100 visits to the emergency room for antibiotics and pain medication.

She’s been billed between $240 and $290 a visit, she said – and, even after racking up bills far higher than the cost of extracting the teeth, she was stuck with them.

[snip]

Scott Syverud, an emergency room doctor at the University of Virginia who came to volunteer at RAM, said Head’s problem is not unique; dental pain is the most common complaint at American emergency departments.

“I see it every day and every night,” Syverud said. “This is what I see in the emergency department every day, it’s just bigger here. It’s harder to ignore.”

The lack of access to health and dental care is not an Appalachian problem, he said – it’s a problem all across the nation.

“Emergency rooms act as the safety net in this system,” he said, “and that’s at the breaking point.”

Nope, no problem with our health care system, nosiree. Best in the world, you know. Everybody's got health care! Everybody's doing just fine!

Just ask the Cons. Don't ask those thousands of people lined up for miles desperately seeking health care. Don't pay them no mind....

Artist's impression of a Congressional Con confronted with health care reality.
Cons should click for an important message.
It could save their asses.

Birthers Suffer a Blow

This week's seemingly been bonza for Birthers. Cons in Congress have been so afraid to defy them that they've been taking all sorts of evasive maneuvers rather than a stand:
Blogger-activist Mike Stark has been staking out Capitol Hill recently, trying to get Republican congressmen on the record about whether or not they believe President Obama was born in the United States. Only a couple of GOP congressmen were willing to state without reservation that Obama is the legal and constitutional President of the United States. Many others said they “think there are questions” and would “like to see the documents.” Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) began running away from Stark — literally — to avoid answering the question. Another congressman avoided Stark by hiding in a book store and pretending to look at pens.
The fact they're so scared of pissing off the lunatics in their base shows just how far against the wall they've backed themselves, doesn't it just?

And here we have Sen. James "I'll Believe Anything Other Than The Truth" Inhofe going to bat for the Birthers:

At least one U.S. senator, however, is sounding a sympathetic note about the Birthers.

Sen. Jim Inhofe has also tried to find the elusive middle ground.

"They have a point," he said of the birthers. "I don't discourage it. ... But I'm going to pursue defeating [Obama] on things that I think are very destructive to America."

That's not "middle ground." That's just ridiculous.

There should be a clear and distinct line between fringe lunatics and the beliefs of U.S. senators. That Inhofe thinks Birthers "have a point" suggests that line is blurring in unhealthy ways.

But wait! There's more! It's not the raving lunatics' fault they can't understand when their case has been proven bogus beyond all reasonable doubt. Inhofe knows who's really to blame:

But he’s now clarifying his claim, and blaming the White House for the persistence of birtherism. Inhofe now says that the birther point he was endorsing was specifically that the White House has not done a good enough job of rebutting the birthers’ charges.

Inhofe spokesman Jared Young sends me this new quote from Inhofe:

“The point that they make is the Constitutional mandate that the U.S. President be a natural born citizen, and the White House has not done a very good job of dispelling the concerns of these citizens. My focus is on issues where I can make a difference to stop the liberal agenda being pushed by President Obama.”

That's right! It's all Obama's fault! It's not enough to produce a birth certificate, have the director of Hawaii's Department of Health confirm Obama was born in Honolulu, have FactCheck.org confirm the certificate's authenticity after having "seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate," or discover a birth announcement in a Hawaiian newspaper. Nope. Apparently, he needs an affidavit from God. And then God will have to have some proof He is God, not that icky Allah guy.

Sweet vindication for the Birthers! Until their knight in shining armor shoves both middle fingers up their noses:
Update: Inhofe’s spokesman confirms it: He does not question Obama’s legitimacy as president.
Thus came the first inklings of trouble, soon followed by a catastrophe:
This evening, the House passed a resolution sponsored by Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) that commemorates Hawaii’s 50th anniversary as a U.S. state by a vote of 378-0. The resolution also contains this provision: “Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii,” a measure that some GOP members may have had trouble supporting. However, many of the Republican representatives who at expressed at least subtle doubt that Obama was not born in the U.S. voted for the resolution. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who had earlier in the day prevented the resolution from coming to a voice vote on the House floor, and Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), who sponsored a bill requiring presidential candidates to prove natural-born citizenship, both voted for the resolution. Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), a co-sponsor of Posey’s bill who expressed doubt about Obama’s citizenship last week on MSNBC, did not vote. [emphasis emphatically added]
Oh, noes! It would seem all their attempts to suck Cons in Congress into their madness failed! Even that nutcase Bachmann voted to confirm Obama was born in Hawaii, and there's very few nuts nuttier than her. Washington betrayed the Birthers!

Of course, this will not do jack diddly shit to hammer reality into these people's skulls. Instead, you can expect talk of a vast government conspiracy to begin in 3..2...1...

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Another day, another Con lie exposed:

Well what do you know. It looks like there may be some problems with Sen. Mitch McConnell's favorite Canadian health care horror story. h/t The Political Carnival

33.7 million Canadians are not Shona Holmes:

To my American friends: I sincerely hope you’re not taken in by the GOP propaganda featuring Canadian Shona Holmes trashing our system of universal healthcare. The problem is both that Ms. Holmes and her Republican masters misrepresented her condition and that the tactic itself is reprehensible. The GOP can’t produce any logical argument against a system that is entrenched in every Western society except yours, so they resort to fear-mongering and lies, claiming that one Canadian’s skewed view trumps the experiences and beliefs of the rest of us.

Continue reading.....

From The Ottawa Citizen:

Still, I found Holmes tale both compelling and troubling. So I decided to check a little further. On the Mayo Clinic's website, Shona Holmes is a success story. But it's somewhat different story than all the headlines might have implied. Holmes' "brain tumour" was actually a Rathke's Cleft Cyst on her pituitary gland. To quote an American source, the John Wayne Cancer Center, "Rathke's Cleft Cysts are not true tumors or neoplasms; instead they are benign cysts."

Quelle surprise. I'm sure we never expected such blatant misrepresentation, shocked they could be so devious, etc. etc. sarcasm etc.

Another day, another Con claiming Obama's gonna kill grandmas:

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:

GOHMERT: We’ve been battling this socialist health care, the nationalization of health care, that is going to absolutely kill senior citizens. They’ll put them on lists and force them to die early because they won’t get the treatment as early as they need. [...] I would rather stop this socialization of health care because once the government pays for your health care, they have every right to tell you what you eat, what you drink, how you exercise, where you live. [...] But if we’re going to pay 700 million dollars like we voted last Friday to put condoms on wild horses, and I know it just says an un-permanent enhanced contraception whatever the heck that is. I guess it follows that they’re eventually get around to doing it to us.

A rousing discussion about the White House science czar's nefarious recommendation to sterilize the nation via drinking water, Hitler, youth brigades, and other conspiracy nut bullshit. Texas: either stop sending nutjobs to Washington or secede, I beg you.

Another day, another group of Faux News fucktards claiming Obama's gonna kill grandmas:

That's what the crew at Fox & Friends this morning did, led by "Fox News legal analyst" Peter Johnson Jr., and aided and abetted by Brian Kilmeade and Gretchen Carlson. First they played a snippet of Obama at a town-hall meeting on health care:

But what we can do is make sure that at least some of the waste that exists in the system that's not making anybody's mom better, that is loading up on additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care, that at least we can let doctors know, and your mom know, that you know what, maybe this isn't going to help, maybe you're better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.

This became the launching pad:

Kilmeade: Dying?!! Sucking it up?!! And not having surgery?

Johnson: Too sick, too expensive.

Kilmeade: Well, that's what this whole trend is!

Johnson: Absolutely. And some people are saying, 'Well, this isn't health care reform,' and other people are saying -- maybe me -- that this is a subtle form of euthanasia. And when you start looking at the proposals, you say, 'God, what's happening?'

Of course, all they had to do was watch the entire set of remarks on this by Obama in their context to realize what's happening: that effective reform means cutting the waste created by a medical establishment that thrives on unnecessary procedures -- he wasn't suggesting that people be denied life-saving operations.

Problem being, of course, that watching all the remarks in context would be too much like journalism, which Faux News finds icky.

Another day, another group of whackjob conservative media personalities screaming about something that doesn't exist:
On Saturday, the conservative editors of the Wall Street Journal editorial page used their weekly Fox News show to attack every aspect of the health care reform that President Obama is trying to work through Congress. To criticize the idea of public insurance plan, assistant editorial page editor James Freeman claimed that health reform in Massachusetts shows what would happen with a public option:

GIGOT: All right, James, let me ask you about this–the public option. Because the president says, Look, all this is, is going to compete with the private plans, keep them honest. The insurers are making a lot of money right now. We need to keep them honest.

FREEMAN: Right, and I think the beauty of this is we don’t need to guess or estimate or just posit what might happen, because the people of Massachusetts since 2006 have been running the experiment for all of us, and we can go to school on it.

[snip]

Freeman: And it’s very clear what happens. Private insurance goes away, more people go on the public plan, costs explode, more costs go onto small business, and people lose their jobs or they get salary freezes.

[snip]

There’s one problem with Freeman’s analysis: Massachusetts doesn’t have a public plan. As former MA governor Mitt Romney, who implemented the plan, told CNSNews last month, “Our plan did not include a government insurance plan.” “Instead, we relied entirely on private market-based insurance plans to help people get insurance,” said Romney.
Bet you a dollar to a donut hole being so completely fucking wrong doesn't even cause them to blink as they run with this little meme. Facts never seem to faze these fuckers.

In light of all that scaremongering, bullshit-spewing, and downright chicanery, this remark by NRCC spokesman Ken Spain is all the funnier:
“Democrats control the White House, the House, and have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Their lack of progress is due to the growing public skepticism over their government-run plan and public infighting that is taking place within Democratic ranks. There is nothing for the GOP to obstruct.”
Riiight. Pull the other one, it's got bells on. Look, you wouldn't be trying so fucking hard to obstruct health care reform if, as you say, there's nothing for you to obstruct.

Anyway, tell it to Max Baucus:
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), suggested this morning that the value of bipartisan health care reform talks is nearing its end.

"What concerns me about what's happened in the Senate Finance Committee is that they've had a whole lot of time to work these things out, and just don't seem to be able to break the impasse," Van Hollen said in an interview on the liberal Bill Press Radio Show. "It doesn't seem to be as much about a disagreement over policy issues, and it seems more to be just the lack of the political will on behalf of some to get it done."

Van Hollen blamed the committee's slow work on Republicans, who he asserted were unwilling to make the needed "tough decisions" to craft a healthcare bill.

"At some point that's going to have to happen, and the question is when do you reach that breaking point," the Maryland Democrat said when asked if Senate Democrats should end negotiations. "At some point they're going to have to pull the plug on that process, and when they do that is something they're in a better position to know."

"A lot of our members in the House want to see, not what the full Senate does, but at least what the Senate Finance Committee moves forward," he said. "The reality is, a lot of our members want them to at least show their hand a little bit before we ask them to make some very tough decisions."

The notion that there will come a point at which they'll have to "pull the plug" is an interesting one, since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) seemed to think we'd reached that point about three weeks ago. And yet, Max Baucus continues to try to find a way to make Republicans happy (with concessions that other Democrats aren't at all aware of).

Psst, Max: Ken Spain sez the Cons aren't obstructing anything, the Dems are. I think he means fucktards like you, who keep trying to get the bully-boy Cons to play nice with you, which is why you keep getting beaten up and robbed of your lunch money. They'll never like you, buster. Get the fuck over it.

I mean, after all, you're trying to reason with the kind of people who feel comfortable being this bloody stupid in public:

This afternoon, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) took to the Senate floor and basically made a pitch for the oil and gas industry. He said that to ensure “energy security,” the United States should increasingly “extract our own resources.” According to Inhofe, this solution would not only achieve energy independence, but it would also be pollution-free:

People complain that we are buying — importing from the Middle East — oil and gas. And then they find out that we have it all right here. We don’t have to do that. If their argument there is “Well, we don’t want to use oil and gas because we think it pollutes” — which it doesn’t — but if that’s their argument, then why are we willing to import it from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East?

Um, gee, I dunno - maybe it has something to do with all the fucking pollution:
Not only does oil and gas drilling release greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, but they also release other dangerous pollutants that endanger American health. As the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote in a 2008 report:

Oil and gas drilling operations can release a number of hazardous pollutants, including hydrogen sulfide, benzene, toluene, formaldehyde, and diesel exhaust. Exposure is known to lead to short-term illnesses, cancer, or even death. For example, benzene and formaldehyde are both known to cause cancer, and diesel exhaust contains a number of compounds known to cause cancer. Emissions can come from oil and gas itself, chemical additives used in drilling, or fuel combustion.

Additionally, a 2003 University of California at Irvine study found that “oil and natural gas wells and refineries create regional air pollution levels in excess of some of the nation’s smoggiest urban areas.” In states like Wyoming and New Mexico, “oil and gas drilling operations are the second largest source of statewide carbon dioxide and methane emissions,” two key greenhouse gases.

I wonder if Inhofe's lack of brain function arose from an unfortunate habit of huffing oil well fumes as a child. That would explain a lot.

We shall end with some wonderful news. Rush Limbaugh has finally discovered that torture is wrong! Alas, this does not mean he has tapped a sudden wellspring of sanity:
During the Bush/Cheney era, we had an administration that routinely ignored the rule of law, embraced authoritarian tendencies, and approved heinous acts of torture. Rush Limbaugh, without a hint of irony, today warned his listeners that the Obama administration will do the very things Bush already did.

"[T]here are people in this country, who are Americans, and have the same view of totalitarianism that all the worst regimes in the world have had. They just are a minority -- or have been a minority," Limbaugh said. "And they have to be stealth to get anywhere, because who's gonna vote for torture? Who's gonna vote for tyranny? Who's gonna vote for dictatorship? But we did. We did, and you see it slowly encroaching. And if they could move faster on this, they would."

Keep in mind, when Limbaugh says we "did" vote for torture and dictatorship, he's referring to Obama's election, not Bush's. "Who's going vote for torture?" Well, as I recall, Limbaugh did, twice.

It's almost comical. Bush created a torture policy; Obama ended the torture policy. So, naturally, Limbaugh tells his audience that Obama supporters "voted for torture."

Isn't being this divorced from reality a sign of severe mental illness? Usually, people this psychotic end up in mental institutions.

Maybe his insurance doesn't have mental health benefits...