30 June, 2009

PalMD Gets Mail

It turns out chiropractors are no better than creationists when it comes to intellectual honesty:

A long while back, at the original wordpress incarnation of this blog, I wrote a piece on the reasons that chiropractic is unscientific nonsense. Because it was popular, I moved it over here. Well, a chiropractor has come to bravely defend his field and left us a comment.

A study in the May 2007 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reports health plans that use Chiropractors as Primary Care Providers (PCPs) reduce their health care utilization costs significantly.

The study covers the seven-year period from 1999 to 2005. Researchers compared costs and utilization data from an Independent Physicians Association (IPA) that uses Chiropractors as PCPs and a traditional HMO that doesn't.


Study co-author James Winterstein, D.C. says that patients using Chiropractic PCP health care groups "experienced fewer hospitalizations, underwent fewer surgeries and used considerably fewer pharmaceuticals than HMO patients who received traditional medical care."

I know what you're thinking. You don't even need to read PalMD's delicious dissection of the study to know where the problem lies, do you? It wouldn't really even matter if the study had been written up in a respectable medical journal rather than the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, which hasn't the most stellar reputation. No, all you'd have to look at is the fact that patients using chiropractors as their Primary Care Physicians obviously didn't use as much traditional medical care because their PCP is an alt-med fucktard. Duh-huh.

Read PalMD's smackdown anyway, as it is absolutely delectable. I'll give you a morsel. Now, keep in mind, this poor schmuck emailed PalMD this study to try to defend chiropractic against charges that it's complete and utter bullshit, full of pseudoscience, and has no place in medicine outside the treatment of minor lower back pain.

Now savor this:
The goal of the study is quite clearly set out:
In this article, we are not taking a position on the efficacy of any CAM treatment. Rather, we are interested in the current use of CAM modalities and cost effects of such use, regardless of treatment outcome. These clinical utilization and cost outcomes are compared with previously published results.
In other words, they are looking at alternative medicine vs. real medicine to see which is cheaper, not whether it actually works.
Ha ha ha ha FAIL.

Justifying a Coup

Our right wing is really something special:
Evidently, there is actually some question among certain people as to whether or not the ousting of the president of Honduras by the Honduran military can be considered a coup. You see, they did it on behalf of the legislature, supposedly, so that makes it completely different.

I don't know about you but if it walks like a junta and talks like a junta...

Anyway, in their quest to turn this into a blow for freedom and democracy, some people on the right have found some interesting new ways to describe it.

Whose description is the most tortured, Orwellian, or otherwise insane?
  • Candidate 1: Interim dictator Roberto Micheletti describes how he found himself in this new role: "I did not reach this position because of a coup. I am here because of an absolutely legal transition process."
  • Candidate 2: The WSJ's Mary Anastacia O'Grady describes the military overthrow as all part of a country's democratic system of "checks and balances."
  • Candidate 3: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air invents an awesome new concept. This was "less of a coup and more of a military impeachment."
  • Candidate 4: At the Corner, Ray Walser praised the way "Congress, the courts, and the military joined forces" in a "deliberate, bipartisan manner."
  • Candidate 5: Rick Moran at the American Thinker doesn't care if it's a coup, only who it serves: "Does the fact that the coup is in the interests of the United States even matter to our president?"

Your turn starts...now!

Go here to vote for your favorite Orwellian Euphemism.

I can't decide. They're all such wonderful examples of the Con tendency to twist into mental pretzels trying to justify the unjustifiable. 2 and 4 win points for their spectacular misunderstanding of common political terms. 3's just being a glib dickhead, so although his phrase wins on the "Orwellian" side, it loses on the "tortured" and "insane" scales.

They're all so precious, aren't they?

Didn't Miss a Thing - Aside from Pure Fucking Bullshit

Last week, my friends at work invited me to go see Transformers when it opened. I'm a purist, so I said no. I'm not having my delightful childhood memories of a damned fine cartoon ruined by live-action malarkey.

Turns out it's a bloody good thing I didn't go, because I would've spent most of my time fuming. My friends tell me there was plenty of not-so-veiled racism. And then there's this:
A reader emailed me the other day to let me know about the political subtexts of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a big-budget action flick released last week. Reader P.C. told me the movie mentioned President Obama in a less than flattering light.

I haven't seen it, but Matt Yglesias also saw the movie, and noticed its "searing indictment" of the administration.

[O]ne critical turn in the storyline comes when a heroic Major in the United States Army (or possibly Air Force) decides to disobey orders and mutiny against a civilian operative specifically sent by POTUS to take command of the operation. But what's more, this is no rogue special forces officer, he's clearly supported in his action by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who elects to turn a blind eye, and leave President Obama (who's named specifically) in the dark as he cowers in fear in an underground bunker. Obama, you see, has ordered American forces to attempt to appease the Deceptecon threat by halting all collaboration with the Autobots, and agreeing to turn Sam Witwicky over to the forces of evil. By defying Obama and staging what amounts to a coup, the military saves the day.


Maybe Michael Bay could stick to explosions and steer clear of political messages? (If we're lucky, he might also stay away from cameras, the movie industry, scripts, actors....)

If only we were so lucky. Hollywood's output would improve a thousand-fold if a Transformer prop were to fall over and end Bay's career. There should be a law against no-talent hacks politicizing movies inspired by iconic childrens' cartoons.

At least we know whose side he would've been on in the cartoon series. It begins with Decepti- and ends in Con.

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Don't talk to me about why it's actually yesterday's news. Grr, argh. Let's just say a lot of things broke, my company's games with schedules due to their pathetic attempts to save a few bucks on holiday pay left us understaffed, and things esploded from there. But look at it this way - it's Happy Hour somewhere.

And I shall do my best to entertain even though I'm having to type this with the laptop precariously balanced on the arm of the chair due to someone deciding laps are for kitties, not computers.

For those of you wondering if Inhofe could possibly get any dumber, the answer is, alas, yes:
On Fox News this morning, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) insisted the Environmental Protection Agency was given evidence that undermines global warming, so the agency hid it to advance "probably the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

Inhofe said the EPA "absolutely" buried evidence undermining policy on global warming after a researcher's report claimed that carbon dioxide has had little effect on the environment.

"They've been cooking that science since 1998," Inhofe said during an interview on Fox News.

Inhofe argued that there should be a criminal investigation into the EPA report, as well.

"I don't know whether there would be or not," he said. "There could be, and there probably should be."

In our reality, the EPA has an employee -- an economist, not a climate scientist -- named Alan Carlin who apparently doesn't believe in global warming. In fact, he insists that global temperatures are "not going up, and if anything they're going down." He submitted a "report" arguing that the government shouldn't worry about regulating carbon emission, relying on familiar conservative arguments.

Strangely, the EPA prefers the work of actual climate scientists when it comes to reversing a ginormous body of scientific consensus on global warming. I believe, Mr. Inhofe, there is a difference between "burying evidence" and laughing heartily as one files the rantings of an ignorant fucktard with delusions of scientific ability in the nearest circular filing cabinet.

Faux News, of course, is ecstatic over Inhofe's conspiracy theories. Considering they credulously report satire as news, I'm not surprised:

The blog, Elective Decisions, which features “the satire of Chris Davis,” then wrote up a post saying that Ridge responded to Rush by challenging him to a fight:

So this morning, Ridge went back on Washington Journal, responding to Limbaugh’s rhetoric. “I’m so sick of Rush Limbaugh. He’s the reason we lose elections. He needs to get the hell out of the Republican Party. As far as I’m concerned, he isn’t a Republican anymore. The man’s running. The man’s hiding. He’s too scared to face me!”

Ridge continued his rant, threatening Limbaugh. “Meanwhile, he sits there in his ‘Southern Command Post,’ and destroys the Republican Party! I’d like to just have three rounds in a boxing ring with that guy so I could shut him up! I’m caling (sic) you out, Limbaugh. Let’s see if you have a big enough set of marbles to back up your crap!”

Though the “Elective Decisions” blog is clearly marked as “satire,” the Fox Nation linked to the post and promoted it as if it were based on reported facts:

Fox Nation promotes a satire story as a true story.

Next thing you know, Faux'll be breathlessly running breaking news stories from The Onion. But what else can we expect from a "news" empire that goes to court to protect its right to outright lie?

Now, most news outlets this outrageously stupid would perish, but not Faux. Oh, no. And I think I have a good idea why: their likely viewers can't even comprehend the fact that a 5-4 ruling is not equal to a 9-0 ruling:

Everyone knew the Ricci ruling would come down today. It was the last day of the session, and the Supreme Court hadn't issued its decision yet. By mid-day Friday, we knew the ruling would be released early Monday.

And that, in turn, gave the various players plenty of time to come up with their carefully crafted over-the-top responses. I'm afraid some of the leading conservative activists didn't use the time wisely.

Wendy Long, head of the Judicial Confirmation Network, which apparently exists for no other reason than to attack Democratic judicial nominees, quickly issued a statement this morning with the headline: "Not Even One Justice Approved Sotomayer In Ricci Case." Yes, even now, Wendy Long can't spell "Sotomayor." The press statement went on to say:

"Frank Ricci finally got his day in court, despite the judging of Sonia Sotomayor, which all nine Justices of U.S. Supreme Court have now confirmed was in error."

Soon after, on a Federalist Society conference call with reporters, additional conservative activists emphasized a similar line.

Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity suggested that the ruling "gives the Senate Judiciary Committee a lot to ask about" and that it brings to light her past statements on this issue.

He was joined by Gail Heriot, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law in the insistence that each of the nine Justices had rejected Sotomayor's reasoning in her Second Circuit decision.

There's a variety of problems with all of this, but the most obvious is the fact that the Ricci ruling was 5 to 4, not 9 to 0.


Update: Rush Limbaugh also insisted that Ricci was "a nine-zip decision." Is the right so far gone that they can no longer count to four?

Short answer: yes. They're also so far gone that they slurp up slop like this:


The headline of the linked article is “House Passes Milestone Energy, Climate Change Bill.” Obviously not happy with the AP headline, the Fox Nation writers, in order to put it in right wing terms the pitchfork gang can understand and appreciate, tweaked it thusly: “Treason? House Passes Direct Assault On Industrial Base.” It is accompanied by a photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The AP article is what real journalism is all about, as it describes what happened in the House of Representatives with no reference to “treason.” The Fox Nation headline is a subjective statement of pure right wing propaganda by those who haven’t read the constitution and is aimed at those who are constitutionally illiterate.
Our right wing is either going to implode from its own phenomenal dumbfuckery, or explode from same. They can't go on like this without one of those two things happening. I just hope they don't fatally injure America when they finally pop.

Perhaps they won't, seeing as how they might eliminate themselves first:
While noting that “conspiracy theories have been a constant in Rep. Michele Bachmann’s political career since she first ran for the Stillwater school board in the late 1990s,” the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune’s editorial page called into question the collateral damage that could stem from Bachmann’s irrational 2010 Census fear-mongering. The Star-Tribune points out that not only is Bachmann “a politician interested more in being the face of the fringe element than solving the real-life problems of her north-suburban district,” but that “she may be setting in motion events that could substantially hurt her home state and potentially cost her the office she occupies.” The Star-Tribune writes:
The 2010 census will likely determine whether Minnesota loses one of its eight U.S. House seats; population determines seat allocation. Political experts agree that a few thousand people not filling out census forms may be all it takes for the state to lose a congressional advocate in the nation’s capital. If Minnesota were to lose a congressional seat, Bachmann’s district appears to be candidate for absorption.
I'm torn. On the one hand, it would be a shame for voters to lose a Congressional seat when their population says they should have one. On the other hand, we are talking about a district where the majority voted Michele Bachmann into office. So I think that if her Census fearmongering leads a lot of people to break Federal law and thus lose their seat, I'm going to laugh my ass off with merely a passing pang of pity.

And it gives me hope that these fucktards will crazy themselves right out of public office. That would be awesome.

29 June, 2009

"Time Wastes Too Fast" - A Tour of Monticello

This is absolutely glorious, a beautiful tour through Thomas Jefferson's house and his life. Consider yourselves invited.

(Tip o' the shot glass to mcjoan, who's served up a plethora of interesting items.)

Sanford's Shocking Chutzpah

Forget the fact the little fucker howled for Clinton's head, but won't step down himself. Forget for a moment (but only for a moment) that he left his state unhelmed while he scampered to South America for a week of driving along his mistress's coastline. All of that takes chutzpah. But it takes an absolute motherfucking asshole to cheat on his wife and then ask if he can do it some more:

Jenny Sanford opens up to the AP in an incredible, must-read interview about Mark Sanford and her repeated attempts to save their marriage.

SULLIVANS ISLAND, S.C. — South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford sat in her oceanfront living room Friday, recalling how her husband repeatedly asked permission to visit his lover in the months after she discovered his affair. [emphasis added]

"I said absolutely not. It's one thing to forgive adultery; it's another thing to condone it," Jenny Sanford told The Associated Press during a 20-minute interview at the coastal home where she sought refuge with their four sons. They were her first extended comments on the affair.

..."He was told in no uncertain terms not to see her," she said in a strong, steady voice. "I was hoping he was on the Appalachian Trail. But I was not worried about his safety. I was hoping he was doing some real soul searching somewhere and devastated to find out it was Argentina. It's tragic."

This is the sick, twisted piece of shit so many Cons and Con-loving hacks are bending over backwards to defend. (The latest pathetic performance: Lindsey Graham, with an assist from Mittens.)

Remember that the next time they start spouting off about how they're such awesome defenders of the sanctity of marriage and family values.

28 June, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

The Cons are out to destroy America:
It hasn't gotten too much attention -- all things considered, that's probably a good thing -- but MSNBC picked up on the calls from some conservatives for a boycott of General Motors. (The idea also got some airtime recently on "The Colbert Report.")

A sizable share of Americans, recent surveys show, are reluctant to buy from a bankrupt automaker. Complicating matters, the bailout is triggering a harsh reaction from the conservative end of the political spectrum, with some high-profile pundits calling for an outright boycott of what many are calling "Government Motors."

Among the most vocal is Hugh Hewitt, who has frequently called for a boycott to protest the "Obamaization of the American car business," both on his syndicated radio show and on his blog.

Hewitt insists that "individual Americans" must resist buying the automaker's products because, as he wrote in one blog entry, "every dollar spent with GM is a dollar spent against free enterprise."

I rarely agree with Joe Scarborough, but two weeks ago, he described the idea of a GM boycott as "stupid," and the conservative proponents of the boycott "morons."

It's simple, really. The government stepped in because an enormous American employer was about to go belly-up. The government can't step out until Americans start buying GM's cars. Boycotting GM will either lead to indefinite government intervention or the total collapse of a major American employer. And here are the Cons, calling for a fucking boycott.

Way to go, fucktards.

While we're on the topic of raging stupidity, let's check in with Pat Buchanan on the recently-passed Clean Energy and Security Act. Some people think it will lead to a cleaner environment, green jobs, and a chance to nip climate change in the bud. Some others whine about higher taxes and so forth. But Pat's thinking world domination:
Pat Buchanan on MSNBC during a break in their wall to wall Michael Jackson coverage fear mongering over the energy bill that just passed the House.

Witt: Why doesn't anyone want to call it a climate bill?

Buchanan: Well, because the science is suggesting that maybe all of this isn't really happening or it's not really dangerous or it's not really man made. Barack Obama, the President is right when he said we shouldn't be afraid of the future. That is how this bill got passed through fear. We're all going to change. The climate's going to change. The oceans are going to rise. Our cities are going to be under water.

But more and more scientists are coming forward to say this is a hoax and a scam which is designed to transfer wealth and power from the private sector to the government sector and from the government of the United States to a world government. Which is what we're going to get in Copenhagen when we get this Kyoto two agreement.

OMFG, what a remarkable doofus. Only Pat Buchanan (along with other right-wing paranoid delusionals) can look into his tea leaves and see a world government in cap-and-trade legislation. As for those "scientists" he mentions, bet you a dollar he's talking about Inhofe's list. These people wouldn't know a scientist if one personally shoved a beaker up their bottoms.

Cons have been rather unhinged of late, but this energy bill seems to have really brought out the inanity in them. Just take the Con party's very own sad crying clown:

Irony just called and is more than a little pissed off it keeps getting abused by Republicans:

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) had a few choice words about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) landmark climate-change bill after its passage Friday.

When asked why he read portions of the cap-and-trade bill on the floor Friday night, Boehner told The Hill, "Hey, people deserve to know what's in this pile of s--t."



Don't get me wrong -- the bill that was passed on Friday night leaves a metric assload to be desired. But this pretty much sums up Boehner's position:

[O]ne Democratic aide quipped, "What do you expect from a guy who thinks global warming is caused by cow manure?"

What, indeed?

One could wish stupidity could be limited to the occasional outrageous dumbfuckery over boycotts and bills, but alas, tisn't. And nothing exemplifies the lack-of-quality of our right-wing punditry so well as this little gem (h/t):

Yup, that's the message from the insufferable Mark Steyn, along with (as I suggested a few days ago) the talking point that governors should be able to go AWOL for days and days, and the only reason we don't think so is that we're zombified addicts of Big Government:

...At the news conference, the governor rationalized his unfaithfulness to Mrs. Sanford by saying that he needed to get out of "the bubble." ...

Although staffers kept up his ghostwritten tweet of the day on Twitter, by Monday state senators were revealing that they hadn't heard from the Governor since Thursday.

And we can't have that, can we? ...

In a republic of limited government, the governor, two-thirds of the state legislature and the heads of every regulatory agency should be able to go "hiking the Appalachian Trail" for a lot longer than five days, and nobody would notice....

... The real bubble is a consequence of big government. The more the citizenry expect from the state, the more our political class will depend on ever more swollen Gulf Emir-size retinues of staffers hovering at the elbow to steer you from one corner of the fishbowl to another 24/7.

Yup, that's right -- it's not a problem that he was gone and incommunicado -- it's a problem that we think that's a problem.
The only thing more pathetic than Mark Sanford's sexcapades has been the plethora of right-wing justifications for said sexcapades.

Continuing with the media-lackwit theme, here's a little item you might want to show folks who think they're getting actual news at Faux News (h/t):
Yes, Fox News has won a court ruling that holds that broadcasters have a 1st Amendment right to deliberately distort news or outright lie on the air. This is a ruling that Fox News sought, and that their lawyers fought for:

A Florida Appeals court ruled there is absolutely nothing illegal about lying, concealing or distorting information by a major press organization. The court reversed the $425,000 jury verdict in favor of journalist Jane Akre who charged she was pressured by Fox Television management and lawyers to air what she knew and documented to be false information. The ruling basically declares it is technically not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast.
Hey, at least they're being honest about their dishonesty.

No, this cuts to the chase on the old, tired argument I get when I try to trash Faux News to true believers: 'Oh, but all the news lies, it's just a matter of their view.'

Yes, it is true, in the simplest sense of true, that all news is by definition biased. There can be no truly objective news, because it is presented by humans, who have biases. However, this court ruling shows that Fox News, and Fox News alone, as far as I know, deliberately sets out to distort the truth as a matter of course.
And will go to court to defend their lies, distortions and hackery as "free speech." In-fucking-credible.

I think all of the above fuckery calls for a song:

I Am A Disappointed Admiral - and Somewhere, a Pirate Lawyer is Crying

Look what you've done to poor Captain John:

Yes, you. You know how many Elitist Bastards answered this months' call?


People. Not only is there an infinity of stupidity needing bashing out there, you've all let John down on his birthday.

I'm so disappointed I can't even talk pirate right now. And Captain John - well, here's a reconstruction of his current state:

This situation must be rectified. If you merely forgot to submit, get your submission in to elitistbastardscarnival@gmail.com immediately. If you didn't think you had anything worth submitting, find something anyway - you're Elitist Bastards, your every word drips with immeasurable intellect. If you're new and have no idea what's going on, here are the requirements:

1. Pick one (or more) of your blog posts that blasts ignorance or celebrates some aspect of wisdom, or if you're really ambitious, does both.

2. Send us the link.
Is that hard? Not at all. Do you have any excuse not to submit a post? None.

I want the COTEB inbox full to the bursting. You have until Sunday morning to wriggle back into John's and my good graces. Otherwise, you will have to live with the fact that you've made John sad on his birthday.

No Sunday Science Today

You should all be diligently working on your submissions for COTEB, you scurvy dogs. And I've been too busy press-ganging to whip up a post for this Sunday. Alas, that means even the heroic crew members who already made their contributions suffer a lack of sensational science this week.

See how it is when you make a pirate lawyer cry?

I'll give you one little science tidbit: according to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, the most likely explanation for why Europeans had nasty epidemic diseases while Native Americans didn't was that Europeans had more livestock. Makes perfect sense, really, considering so many of our diseases come from animals, and is a concept easily illustrated:


27 June, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Yes, late again, curses. I've been busy reading most o' the day. And then there was the small matter of the empty inbox... (speaking of which, there's still time to make the Captain and the Admiral happy if you're reading this before late Sunday morning). But enough with the reasons, let's get on with the spanking the stupid.

The Census Bureau seems to have gotten there ahead of us:
In the past couple weeks, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has used her public appearances to fear-monger about the 2010 Census.


Yesterday, Census Bureau spokesman Steve Buckner spoke to Minnesota Public Radio and said that many of Bachmann’s concerns were misguided.


Buckner also said that Census officials have been working with Bachmann’s office to clear up the misinformation:

BUCKNER: Well, we certainly are working with the Congresswoman’s office here in DC, and have already had a briefing with her to explain the rules of the Census and why they’re there, and explain some of the Constitutional law. I mean, the Supreme Court has upheld the powers of the data to be collected. But we’re not asking anything on the 2010 Census that I can see that would be intrusive in terms of the basic information.

As Buckner also pointed out, “For the most part, people put more information on a credit card application than they do on the Census form.”

I hope Michele's having fun being educated regarding her duties. But I'm not sure she'll learn. It's hard to smack sense into the senseless. Which should make it interesting when she breaks federal law by not filling in the Census completely. But I do hope she doesn't end up in prison. What she needs is psychiatric care, not punishment.

Speaking of psychiatric and other health care, let's take a moment to see where we're at. The Prez and the public (along with the vast majority of Dems), want a public option. The GOP and their braindead base don't wanna public option cuz that's so-shuh-lized mid-uh-sin. Yet shouting talking points and silly slogans is no way to govern a country. If the opposition party's opposing, they need to present an alternative. Morning Joe came up with the utterly brilliant idea of asking Rep. Cantor what that alternative plan might look like (video at the link):

Eric Cantor is asked by MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan to explain just what the GOP's plan is for health care reform, and again, Cantor fails to give any details as to just what their plan is, other than saying no to a public option and offering consumers more "choice". Even Ratigan points out at the end of the interview that Cantor didn't answer his question.

As Jason Linkins pointed out at the HuffPo, Cantor had some similar trouble on the same show when asked by Mike Barnicle what the GOP's plan was for health care reform back on May 6th, 2009.

Jason Linkins also has the specific question-and-answer from that original fiasco, which illustrates the whole bankruptcy of the Con philosophy perfectly:
MIKE BARNICLE: You just raised the issue of health care. We live in the only civilized nation in the world, where if ... your child gets sick with a really terrible illness, you might find yourself in bankruptcy court in order to pay the bills. So, without the pretty language, without the big words, can you tell me: what's your health plan, what's it going to cost, how are you going to get it done, how can you work with the Democrats in concocting ... in coming up with a health plan that works for everyone?

CANTOR: First of all, let me just go in here and address the assumption here in the discussion. We also have a health care system that, in reality, if you are sick anywhere in this world and you can afford it, you can come here for your care because we do have access to the best care, but you're right, there are too many people who don't have access to that care, so what we need to do is to be able to address -- number one -- the coverage and access to insurance, and number two, to be able to demonstrate that we can bring down cost. Now this notion that we are somehow going to allow the government to take over providing the care because that's going to address the cost factor, is just a false start. You can't assume that this place in Washington is going to do things efficiently. What we do know is that we need to promote the ability for people to -- number one -- if they lose their job, they don't necessarily lose their health care -- number two -- if they are sick and they have a pre-existing condition, we must allow for them to access affordable coverage, because that's a huge issue right now, how people can access coverage when they are sick, and that has to do with expanding the risk pools, giving people the ability to access much more affordable coverage. Right now, we are so tied to a third-party payer system that, you know, people are at a whim cut off from access to care. so we've got to go back to centering our focus on patient/doctor relationships.

Do you see a plan in there? No? That's probably because there isn't one. There's a hash of lame GOP talking points, magic unicorns, and wishes. A plan it is not.

The truly pathetic part:
So we have the second failure on the same show within a little over a month for Cantor to actually respond in a meaningful way with details and to give them some specific answers on just what the GOP's health care plan entails. Willie Geist's response when Ratigan pointed out that Cantor didn't answer the question....we'll have him back on again to explain it.
I'm so looking forward to strike three.

Yesterday, the House passed important cap-and-trade legislation. Today, the whining starts. We know the wingnuts would whine, so before we get to them, let's watch a Dem snivel over imaginary victimhood:

Last night, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which will establish the first national standards for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and global warming pollution. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) responded on Twitter this morning, saying that the legislation’s cap on carbon pollution would “unfairly punish” Missouri’s families and businesses:

Claire McCaskill tweets on cap and trade

Missouri gets 85 percent of its electricity from coal and is home to the world’s largest coal company, Peabody Energy. Peabody has spent neatly $10 million lobbying against climate legislation since 2008. In reality, the cap-and-trade system the House passed fully protects states now dependent on coal, with multi-billion-dollar programs for advanced coal technology. “My focus in the shaping of the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee was to keep electricity rates affordable and to enable utilities to continue using coal,” coal-district Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) explained during yesterday’s debate. “Both of these goals have been achieved.”

Deary, deary me, Claire. Looks like your buddies in the coal industry got just what they needed, so you're little pity party's just kind of silly now. In fact, it's just about as silly as the rabid base reaction to the few Republican yay votes:

RedState labeled them "quisling" Republicans who "sold out the nation\'s [sic] future." Malkin put up a "wanted" poster with the eight, under the text: "Wanted in the United States of America for selling out taxpayers." She went on label them the "GOP's Cap-and-Tax 8."

And Robert Stacy McCain is targeting the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), now that the "Monstrosity From Hell That Will Destroy the American Economy" passed with the help of eight GOP lawmakers.

Wow. "Monstrosity From Hell," even. All this for a watered-down piece of energy legislation that'll end up costing families under 50 cents per day. Sad, aren't they? Too bad they don't get this excited when Congress decides to authorize rampant spying on American citizens.

And then here's where it gets really funny. Victor Davis Hanson tries to explain that because a few places experienced colder weather this year, global warming's a complete crock (apparently, he's too ignorant to know the difference between a long-term trend like climate and a short-term thng like weather. Dumbshit). And then came the WSJ, trumping his dumbfuckery a thousandfold:

Also yesterday, the Wall Street Journal editorial page ran an item from Kimberly Strassel that offered even less persuasive evidence. (via Jon Chait)

The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers.

Ah, yes, the Inhofe list. Strassel sees "more than 700 scientists" who reject evidence of global warming, but a closer look reveals that the list includes economists, engineers, geographers, TV weathermen, and physicists -- none of whom has a background in climate science. Some of the "more than 700" actually accept global warming as fact, have asked that their names be removed from the list, only to find Inhofe ignore their requests.

In my favorite example, one of the 700 "scientists" is a weatherman at the FOX-affiliated station in Bowling Green, Ky. The "scientist' doesn't have a college degree, believes in creationism, and rejects evidence of global warming because he doesn't believe "God would allow humans to destroy the earth He created." He's also argued that his perspective on science has value, despite not having a background in science, because, "The way I see it, some people are too smart for their own good."

But other than the fact it's nearly entirely bogus, yeah, it really shows some skepticism about climate change among scientists, ya, sure, you betcha. *Wink*

It's things like those that may help explain poll numbers like these:

This week’s big Washington Post poll asked respondents who they trust to handle health care, the economy, the budget deficit, and terrorism. The poll didn’t include a partisan breakdown, but WaPo’s polling director sent it over to us, and here’s where indys stand:

* On health care, 51% of indys trust Obama, and 26% trust GOPers in Congress.

* On the economy, 51% of indys trust Obama, and 31% trust the GOP.

* On the budget deficit, 52% of indys trust Obama, and 30% trust the GOP.

* And on terrorism, 53% of indys trust Obama, and 36% trust the GOP.

To recap: On every one of these major issues — even terrorism — majorities of indys trust Obama, and small minorities trust Congressional Republicans.
No wonder DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan was wondering, with respect to the annual DNC vs. RNC softball game, “Are there even nine Republicans left to field a team?”

Yes, but I'm not sure how many of them can play ball. After all, they'll always taking their ball and running home...

Sun, Sorta Surf, and Sacked Cats

I spent the vast majority of my day at Discovery Park. It's ginormous. Put it like this - the Loop Trail is 2.8 miles, and they're not factoring in the extra mile or two you'll tramp if you scramble down to be a beach bum. 'Tis one o' my favorite places in the universe.

Here's the view from the top o' South Bluff:

That's the Sound at low tide. Pretty, innit?

And here's the view from the bottom o' South Bluff:

South Bluff is one of the most interesting geological features I've ever gotten to touch. It's layering looks a little like Jupiter. And it's big. It's sorta sand caught on its way to becoming rock. Fun to esplore.

Then you tramp down the beach, and you'll come to the lighthouse:

I saw a baby seal near that lighthouse once. Today, no seal, but there was a crab:

Am I weird for thinking crabs are cute?

Someone built a little beach bungalow out of driftwood, where they could watch the breaking waves. Not that our waves are huge, but they still break:

There's a lot more to Discovery, but we had to come home and let the cat out of the bag:

I just wish I'd caught her playing with the receipt she found in the bag. My cat is strange.

Yer Captain's Got a Motivational Speech for Ye

I'll take it as a personal affront if there is not a plethora of material. You don't want a lawyer with delusions of being a pirate to be pissed at you.

Besides, it's my birthday and, if it isn't a good Carnival, I might cry. If there's anything that you don't want to see more than a pissed lawyer with delusions of being a pirate, its a lawyer with delusions of being a pirate crying.
He be right about that, me hearties. I think ye'd better get yer Elitist Bastardly links in to elitistbastardscarnival@gmail.com as soon as possible. If ye're any later than Friday night, a fate worse than drowning in an ocean o' stupidity may befall us.

26 June, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Yes, we're very late today. That's because I've been at Discovery Park, playing with sea critters and hiking my very legs off. When there are blue skies in Seattle, it's best to enjoy them pronto.

See that? That's blue sky, that is. I snapped that photo with a POS elderly digital camera, and it's not been modified. That's sky so blue it makes the treeline look fake.

Happily, the House set our feet on the first steps to maintaining those blue skies:

From the NYT:

"The House passed legislation on Friday intended to address global warming and transform the way the nation produces and uses energy.

The vote was the first time either house of Congress had approved a bill meant to curb the heat-trapping gases scientists have linked to climate change. The legislation, which passed despite deep divisions among Democrats, could lead to profound changes in many sectors of the economy, including electric power generation, agriculture, manufacturing and construction.

The bill's passage, by 219 to 212, with 44 Democrats voting against it, also established a marker for the United States when international negotiations on a new climate change treaty begin later this year.

Huzzah! In fact, we even have a handful of Republicans to thank:

Despite promises that Republicans would rally against the bill, several members defected to support it, including Reps. Dave Reichart (R-WA), Mike Castle (R-DE), Mary Bono Mack, Mark Kirk (R-IL), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Chris Smith (R-NJ), and John McHugh (R-NY).

Smart Republicans, those. I think I know why Dave did it - people in the beautiful town of Bellevue, WA, like their earth global-warming free. And he had the good grace to work with my own beloved Jay Inslee to get the job done. I think running against Darcy Burner smacked some sense into the boy. (Speaking of Darcy Burner, she's got a must-read post up at C&L, fyi.)

Now if only someone had smacked some sense into the rest o' the Cons...
Listening to the House debate over the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) is a surprisingly frustrating experience. It's probably better that most Americans don't actually see these debates -- it would undermine faith in our system of government.

At one point today, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) noted, "It is very difficult to find common ground if the other side rejects the science of our times." Truer words, never spoken.

Take, for example, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.). Broun is perhaps best known for telling reporters late last year that he fears that President Obama may establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship on Americans. He added at the time that Obama reminds him of Hitler. Today, the Georgia Republican shared his thoughts on the environment.

"Scientists all over this world say that the idea of human induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community. It is a hoax. There is no scientific consensus.... And who's going to be hurt most [by ACES] the poor, the people on limited income…the people who can least afford to have their energy taxes raised by MIT says $3,100 per family.... This bill must be defeated. We need to be good stewards of our environment, but this is not it, it's a hoax!"

The "$3,100 per family" line has been debunked over and over again -- the MIT scholar Broun cites has specifically tried to explain to Republican lawmakers that it's completely bogus -- but they just can't seem to stop using it.

Bogus never stopped these freaks from spouting off lies, damned lies, and pure insanity. And, following their beloved leader Rush "Obama's just like an African colonial despot!" Limbaugh's lead (with a little help from his sidekick Glenn "Cap and Trade supporters are treasonous!" Beck), they're on a rather bizarre autocrat meme. Here's Rep. Gingrey playing off the "Cons are just like the poor Iranian protesters!" theme:

Last week, several Republican House members compared themselves to Iranian protesters, claiming that being in the minority in Congress was just like being violently oppressed in Iran. “I wonder if there isn’t more freedom on the streets of Tehran right now than we are seeing here,” said Rep. David Dreier (R-CA). Reps. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) and John Culberson (R-TX) made similar comparisons on Twitter.

Despite the online uproar that followed the egregious comparisons, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) went even further today. Complaining about the proposed rules for debate on clean energy legislation, Gingrey compared Democrats to the “forces of darkness” in Iran and North Korea:

GINGREY: Madam speaker, thank you. I rise in opposition to this rule and to the underlying legislation. I’m just not sure to which I’m more opposed. Americans are watching as from Iran to North Korea, the forces of darkness are attempting to silence the forces of democracy and freedom. The irony is on this day, the Democratic process and the nation’s economic freedom are under threat not by some rogue state, but in this very chamber in which we stand. Good people may disagree on the impact or the merits of this bill. But no one can disagree with the fact that the speaker and her rules committee have silenced the opposition.

Um. I refer you to the previous item, in which the opposition blathered, babbled and made utter fools of themselves, only to receive applause from their "silenced" fellows. Also, a question: which Dem leader is it, exactly, who's called for your execution if you continue to protest, Mr. Gingrey? What's that? None? That disqualifies you from being just like poor oppressed Iranian protestors, who have been threatened with execution, not to mention shot in the streets. I would suggest you shut the fuck up now.

So should you, John McCain:

During an appearance on a local radio station in Phoenix, AZ this morning, a caller asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) when Republican leaders were going to emerge in Congress to “wake the American people up” to the “cap-and-tax” bill. “Why can’t we get the House members and the Senate members to just walk out on what the Democrats are doing?” the caller asked. In response, McCain said that the GOP lawmakers — particularly his House colleagues — have to stay and fight, even though they are working under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) authoritarian rule:

McCAIN: We’re fighting every single day. You don’t want to leave the arena; you want to stay in it and fight. And I guarantee you we are using every parliamentary possibility we have and I have great sympathy for my friends in the House because it’s almost under an autocracy now with Speaker Pelosi.

Do you Cons want to live under an autocracy? Is that what would make you happy? Because you all seem to be fantasizing about it an awful lot. It's not healthy.

While I'm handing out free advice to frothing insane Cons, I might as well throw some to not-Joe the Plumber. Joe, it's probably not a good idea to do shit like this:
Americans for Prosperity, one of the wingnut welfare outfits behind the Great Teabagging, held an event in Wausau, Wisconsin yesterday, keynoted by the man who best personifies the Teabagging movement. [snip]

Wurzelbacher has a reputation for being a blunt, politically incorrect speaker. Referring to Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., more than once, Wurzelbacher asked, "Why hasn't he been strung up?"

I'm not sure I'd use the term "politically incorrect" for calling for the lynching of a sitting US Senator. But don't stop him, he's rolling.

Just ask Sean Hannity's old pal Hal Turner how well threatening federal officials works out.

There's much more nutty goodness floating about the intertoobz tonight, but after several miles of hiking in the sunshine, I'm needing a bath. So I'll just leave you with this gem:
We learned yesterday, by way of Rush Limbaugh, that Mark Sanford's sex scandal was President Obama's fault. If it weren't for the administration's economic policies, the argument goes, Sanford would have been more optimistic about the future, wouldn't have cheated on his wife, and wouldn't have secretly left the country to see his mistress.

Who can argue with air-tight logic like this?

Today, Limbaugh's right-wing colleague, Michael Savage, takes this one step further. Obama didn't just inspire Sanford to betray his family; the White House conspired to make this scandal happen in the first place.

"The fact is, Obama's team is taking out potential [2012] rivals, one after another," Savage argued. "Just last week, the media jumped on the story of Sen. John Ensign (R) of Nevada and his infidelity. He was considered to be a possible Republican presidential candidate in '12. Now Sanford, who had similar ambitions, caught in a similar situation.

"This is politics at its worst, brought to us by the worst administration, the meanest administration, the most closed administration, the most incompetent administration in American history."

As Steve Benen notes, it's pretty impressive that such an incompetent administration could make not one, but two, prominent Cons run out and get caught with their pants around their ankles in the space of a week. That "stimulus package" must have been some pretty potent stuff, eh?

When the Dems pass healthcare reform, I think they need to include a few trillion dollars for restoring the Cons' mental health. It's obviously getting much, much worse under their current insurance.

Tears for Strangers

You know, the last thing I expected was a little jolt when I found out Michael Jackson died. I wasn't a fan, didn't like his music, and certainly didn't like the man. But I can't deny that it felt like there was suddenly a strange empty space in the world. A rather small one for me, huge for others. News of his death actually came close to crashing cell phone networks everywhere as people called or texted each other the news. A friend of a friend cried for three hours.

We get awfully close to people we don't know.

Psychologists occasionally try to explain our tears for strangers. I didn't find many research papers in my desultory search through the intertoobz, but found some quotes in various and sundry articles relating to other celeb deaths that attempt to shed some light:
Attempting to explain the phenomenon, clinical psychologist Fiona Cathcart says it is partly down to today's less community-minded society.

"People overtake hearses these days," she says, the point being that in modern communities, neighbours do not invest time in getting to know each other.

Instead, it is the rich and famous; the faces on television and in celebrity-focused magazines that command our attention.

"We know more about the details of their lives. The clothes they wear, their ambitions, where they last went on holiday than we do of the family next door."
Yes, but, the same kind of mourning goes on in tight-knit communities, too. My old neighborhood in Flagstaff was about as intimate as it gets, positively incestuous at times, and yet we still chocked up at the deaths of strangers. Having friends I knew like family didn't keep me from getting seriously emotionally involved with even fictional people. So we're going to have to do better than "It's because we're all strangers" pap. Anyone else?
"People want to be close to major events, no matter how tragic," said Stuart Fischoff, senior editor of the Journal of Media Psychology. "They want to feel like they are participating. They want to create that memory of 'I was there when.' People say, 'I'm a fan and this is how I show my concern for him.'"
Eh. Don't know about your mileage, but that doesn't resonate for me. Some people I know are like that. Others are just about the opposite. And that doesn't explain why a really good author can leave you sobbing your poor little heart out over somebody who never actually existed.

Part of it's the knowing. Get to know somebody well enough, even if it's not a two-way street, and you start to care. We can't help that - we're human. And whether it's a celebrity or a great character, those people we've come to know give us something in turn for the time we bestow on them. They entertain us, sometimes enlighten us; they keep us company, help us dream, let us experience worlds we're otherwise excluded from. We develop something of a relationship that has real meaning. Sometimes, it's just a matter of symbols, or history - I may not even like Michael Jackson, but I did the Moonwalk with everyone else, and he was a part of my childhood. It's tough to see pieces of your past go.

Sometimes, the tears come from what we know we'll miss out on. Take Carl Sagan, whose death still chokes me up at times. He was a brilliant science popularizer whose books and teevee programs many of us adored, so is it any wonder we miss him? What else could he have done, had he not died so soon?

Some shrinks think it's mostly the "could'a happened to any of us" factor, too:
Dr Oliver James, whose book Britain on the Couch examines psychological changes in the nation's character since the 1950s, says Diana's troubled life in some ways mirrored the difficult experiences of normal people.
Sure. And we want to see them succeed, survive and flourish, because that offers us some vicarious comfort. Not to mention, we were pulling for them. We really did care.

I know some people question that - can you really care for a stranger? Of course you can. Not in the same way you'd care for family or close friends, usually, but it's a genuine caring nonetheless. Humans are like that.

And in some cases, perhaps, it's a coping mechanism, a chance to get it right the second time, or practice for the inevitable:

Mourning the death of a celebrity retriggers suppressed feelings of loss for an actual loved one, said professor Sherri McCarthy, a psychologist and a grief counselor at Northern Arizona University.

"People are vulnerable because these events retrigger memories of losing someone else. If an individual has unresolved, suppressed feeling of grief they may use this opportunity to express those feelings. If a child didn't grieve a parent properly, they can displace that grief on someone in the media."

Probably all of the above speculations have some grain of truth, to varied degrees for varied people. But as a writer and a human being, I do think this is the paramount factor:

As Arthur Koestler put it: "Statistics don't bleed; it is the detail which counts."
The more detail we have, the more we're able to care: the more we care, the more those strangers' deaths affect us. Think of Neda, who's become the symbol of Iran's brutal repression of political dissenters. Others have been killed just as gruesomely - at least 25 are dead - but she's the one who stands out. And part of that is because of the detail. The graphic images of her death, the few details of her young life, combine to turn statistics into a person we find it easy to care about, a memory we can rally round, an inspiration.

And the people who have inspired us deserve a tear or two whether or not we've ever had them over for tea, don't you think?

But No, Really, Private's Better than Public!

Because, you know, private insurers take such better care of us than the government ever could!
The health insurance industry maximizes their profits by delivering as little care as they can legally get away with, or for that matter, illegally.
Health insurers have forced consumers to pay billions of dollars in medical bills that the insurers themselves should have paid, according to a report released yesterday by the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee.

The report was part of a multi-pronged assault on the credibility of private insurers by Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.). It came at a time when Rockefeller, President Obama and others are seeking to offer a public alternative to private health plans as part of broad health-care reform legislation. Health insurers are doing everything they can to block the public option.

At a committee hearing yesterday, three health-care specialists testified that insurers go to great lengths to avoid responsibility for sick people, use deliberately incomprehensible documents to mislead consumers about their benefits, and sell "junk" policies that do not cover needed care. Rockefeller said he was exploring "why consumers get such a raw deal from their insurance companies."

The star witness at the hearing was a former public relations executive for major health insurers whose testimony boiled down to this: Don't trust the insurers.
Wendell Potter is the name of the star witness, a former VP for corporate communications at insurance giant Cigna. His testimony was devastating, as he offered a step-by-step tour into how the insurance industry works to increase their profits. This is the system that Republicans and conservative Democrats want to hold a monopoly over your health care, in a forced market where you have to sign up with them.
What drove Potter from the health insurance business was, well, the health insurance business. The industry, Potter says, is driven by "two key figures: earnings per share and the medical-loss ratio, or medical-benefit ratio, as the industry now terms it. That is the ratio between what the company actually pays out in claims and what it has left over to cover sales, marketing, underwriting and other administrative expenses and, of course, profits."

Think about that term for a moment: The industry literally has a term for how much money it "loses" paying for health care.

The best way to drive down "medical-loss," explains Potter, is to stop insuring unhealthy people. You won't, after all, have to spend very much of a healthy person's dollar on medical care because he or she won't need much medical care. And the insurance industry accomplishes this through two main policies. "One is policy rescission," says Potter. "They look carefully to see if a sick policyholder may have omitted a minor illness, a pre-existing condition, when applying for coverage, and then they use that as justification to cancel the policy, even if the enrollee has never missed a premium payment." [...]

Potter also emphasized the practice known as "purging." This is where insurers rid themselves of unprofitable accounts by slapping them with "intentionally unrealistic rate increases." One famous example came when Cigna decided to drive the Entertainment Industry Group Insurance Trust in California and New Jersey off of its books. It hit them with a rate increase that would have left some family plans costing more than $44,000 a year, and it gave them three months to come up with the cash.
The insurers simply follow the profit motive. Under the current system, there is no profit in offering people care, only denying them it. And so competition in the marketplace, or more to the point competition on Wall Street to increase share price (because most insurance markets in this country are limited), depends on coming up with new and exciting ways to either deny care or off-load costs onto customers.
Tell you what, Cons and Con-like Dems. We'll be happy to leave a public option off the table - as long as health care reform includes a lawyer, prosecutor and prison provided gratis for every American. I wouldn't mind private insurance a bit as long as I could submit their bullshit paperwork to my lawyer, have him refer them for prosecution when they fuck me over, and see them stuffed in prison afterward.

No? Public option it is, then.

Someone tell me again why our infinitely intelligent overlords took single-payer off the table...

A Little More Tarnish for the Bush Legacy

I do believe that at the end of the day, the Bush regime will go down in American history as the most corrupt, dirty, rotten and downright disgusting administration ever. They're already the biggest bunch of scoundrels seen on our national stage, and the revelations just keep coming:
In an important new article from Murray Waas, writing at The Hill, we have at long last fresh news on the Rick Renzi corruption case in Arizona, and it turns out that officials in the Bush Administration improperly leaked out information compromising the investigation of Renzi, and did so for sheer political gain immediately prior to the 2006 elections.

In the fall of 2006, one day after the Justice Department granted permission to a U.S. attorney to place a wiretap on a Republican congressman suspected of corruption, existence of the investigation was leaked to the press — not only compromising the sensitive criminal probe but tipping the lawmaker off to the wiretap.

Career federal law enforcement officials who worked directly on a probe of former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) said they believe that word of the investigation was leaked by senior Bush administration political appointees in the Justice Department in an improper and perhaps illegal effort to affect the outcome of an election.

At the time of the leak, Renzi was locked in a razor-thin bid for reelection and unconfirmed reports of a criminal probe could have become politically damaging. The leaked stories — appearing 10 days before the election — falsely suggested that the investigation of Renzi was in its initial stages and unlikely to lead to criminal charges.

As you will recall, Renzi's indictment (or lack thereof at the time) was a critical prong in the greater US Attorney firing scandal, specifically as to Arizona US Attorney Paul Charlton.

Read the rest of Bmaz's article, and you'll see this image in a whole new light:

Friends buy you birthday cake. Bush White House friends shield you from embarrassing corruption investigations and possible prosecution, then buy you a birthday cake while a city drowns.

We have a long way to go in scrubbing away the taint of that regime.

Food Safety Fail

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Exhibit A in the case for stricter food safety regulations and oversight:
Question: Do the folks who own Orca Distribution West, Inc. and Setton Pistachios - do they let their own children eat the shit they sell?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to eat California Prime Produce- or Orange County Orchards-brand pistachios.

FDA officials said Orca Distribution West Inc. of Anaheim, Calif., received and repackaged pistachios recalled by Setton Pistachios of Terra Bella Inc. Setton had recalled all of its pistachios because of possible salmonella contamination that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections.
This kind of thing makes me feel positively medieval. If I wasn't a kind, liberal soul who believes the sins of the father shouldn't be visited upon the children, I'd call for a law requiring such products to be served to the CEOs' families. That might possibly make them think twice before serving poison to the public.

Then again, threats to progeny haven't stopped many opportunistic bastards. Perhaps we should try naked self-interest and serve the perpetrators up a feast of their own fruits instead.

25 June, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Michele Bachmann passed batshit insane a long time ago, and yet somehow she keeps getting crazier:

Last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), solidifying her well-deserved reputation for madness, insisted she will refuse to cooperate with the 2010 census. This happens to be illegal, but the Minnesota Republican has an elaborate conspiracy theory to bolster her position.

Today, Bachmann appeared on Fox News to defend this, and came up with a new argument: "If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt, and that's how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps."

Bachmann added, "I'm not saying that that's what the administration is planning to do, but I am saying that private personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up, in a violation of their constitutional rights, and put the Japanese in internment camps."

When Fox News' Megyn Kelly, who'd been bashing ACORN with Bachmann to this point, noted that members of Congress probably shouldn't deliberately ignore federal law, Bachmann added, "I'm just not comfortable with the way this census is being handled," in part because Americans are "compelled" to answer the census.

Well, yes, Michele, they are - and have been for centuries now. This is a fact a lawmaker may want to try to wrap their head around. It shouldn't be that hard, considering your head's already rather twisty.

Speaking of twisty, the GOP's apparently planning an all-out assault on Nancy Pelosi over her "CIA lied to me" remarks:

The pollster for the House GOP leadership has conducted a poll to determine the effectiveness of one of the GOP’s leading attacks on Nancy Pelosi — that she wasn’t being truthful when she claimed the CIA lied to her about torture.
The poll, which I obtained from a source, found that it may be working. People believe that the CIA didn’t mislead Pelosi by a wide margin, 49%-27%.

The poll — which was conducted by longtime House GOP pollster David Winston — is interesting because it suggests that Republicans remain committed to this line of attack and are eager to gauge whether it’s effective in hopes of keeping it going.

It doesn't look like the poll asked the all-important follow-up question: "Do you give a shit?" I wish them all the best with that pathetic line of attack.

In other "pathetic lines of attack" news, Cons are still on about Sotomayor's supposed activist-judge qualities, so much so they're making up their minds against her before her confirmation hearings:
Yesterday in a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) “became at least the third Republican” to announce that he will vote against Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court:

Mr. President, judges do not make law, and under no circumstance should they be under the impression that they do. Judge Sotomayor sees judges as lawmakers — as both umpire and player. [...]

I wonder how Alexander Hamilton would respond. I think he would wholly disagree with that interpretation. Unfortunately, Judge Sotomayor’s writings and statements lead me to believe she is a proponent — a clear proponent — of an activist judiciary. I cannot support her nomination. I will vote “no” when it comes before the full Senate.

Sammy earns full suck-up-to-the-rabidly-stupid-base points, but he and his fellow already-decideds have just opened themselves up to yet more hypocrisy. To wit:
During the confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito in 2006, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) lamented to the judge that there were “those who have already decided to vote against your nomination and are looking for some reason to do so.”

This genius statement was, of course, made before any Dem had announced any intention not to vote for Alito. And so I'm sure we can rely on him to chide his fellow Republicans for jumping to conclusions, right?


Why am I hearing crickets?

Also in hypocrisy news, it turns out that Cons' love for the CBO only goes so far:

Back in January, the Congressional Budget Office issued a preliminary assessment of the administration's stimulus package. It was only a partial look at an out-of-date proposal, but it bolstered Republicans' criticism, so the GOP ran with the misleading numbers. Soon after, a more complete CBO report was issued, it bolstered the Democrats' case, and all of a sudden, Republicans' love and respect for the CBO disappeared.

We're seeing the exact same scenario play out again.
Last week, the Congressional Budget Office scored an incomplete Democratic health care proposal, issuing an unhelpful analysis with little practical value. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) not only accepted the CBO numbers as gospel, but called the analysis "the turning point in the healthcare debate."

This week, the CBO ran the numbers on the Democratic cap-and-trade, and in the process, discredited the Republican talking points on the proposal. Cantor's fickle love for the CBO, predictably, faded quickly.

"Today, now we are reading the reports that have come out this week that CBO has now reduced its cost estimate to say that it is only $160 that families will be impacted by the cap and trade bill. I think that now CBO has now entered the realm of losing its credibility."
Um, congressman? If you believe the CBO when it tells you what you want to hear, and reject it when it delivers bad news, it's not the Congressional Budget Office that's "losing credibility."

Not that Cantor had any left to lose, o' course.

Finally, we have a hint that the Cons in Congress are preaching to a very small choir indeed:

Okay, so it may be too early to call this a trend. But it’s increasingly obvious that the GOP Congressional leadership is at risk of being at odds with even Republican rank and file voters on key issues.

Case in point: Cap-and-trade. New poll numbers from The Washington Post show that there’s strong support across the board for a cap-and-trade approach to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. While this approach is currently opposed by Republican leaders, a surprising 60% of liberal and moderate Republicans favor it.

Health care? Check. This week’s New York Times poll found that even 50% of Republicans back a public insurance option as part of health care reform, a position strongly opposed by GOP leaders.

Even Republican strategists acknowledge this problem. David Hill, who has polled for Republican candidates for years, wrote yesterday that on health care, there is a “dangerous gap between the opinions of Republicans in Congress and Republican followers.”

But, of course, that just means that 50-60% of Republican followers aren't real Americans, right? It couldn't possibly mean that the Cons in Congress are representing only Looneyville, rather than a broad Republican base.

It'll be interesting to see just how many voters they end up with there at the end. I have a feeling we won't need very many numbers to represent the total...