Friday, July 31, 2009

The Republican Game Plan: Disruption, Confusion, Massive Lying

A memo has leaked instructing tea-baggers and other Repub-symps on how to behave when Democratic members of Congress hold their town-hall meetings with voters during the August recess. A few high-points (but follow the link above to see the whole thing):

1. Artificially Inflate Your Numbers

2. Be Disruptive Early and Often

3. Try to "Rattle Him," Not Have an Intelligent Debate

Well, okay then.

Democratic members of Congress need to grow a pair and stand up to this bullshit. In fact, go on the offensive against it.

At least Democrats are holding town hall meetings! When's the last time Virginia Foxx stood up anywhere in her district and took questions from voters? We happen to have that date emblazoned in our memories ... January 25, 2006. Two Thousand and Freakin' Six!

She's only brave when she's absolutely sure no one is going to ask her an unscripted question.

Virginia Foxx's Greatest Hits

Let's give credit where credit is due. Congresswoman Virginia Foxx has gone from obscure N.C. state senator with a celebrated penchant for stealing buffet food to a national sensation, "Madam Doctor Foxx," known for smearing a wealth of lipstick on or near her mouth and using it to torture the last Republican president and for uttering some of the most devastatingly stupid lines in the interest of partisan hatefulness. Her most recent (see below) is featured now on TV approximately every two hours, or less.

You can make your own list of favorite Foxx bon mots. These are mine:

1. "I'm misunderstood in the same way Jesse Helms was." 2003, in an interview with GOPUSA while still a NC state Senator

2. "The worst thing we can do is to get government involved in solving problems." September 16, 2003, in the NC state Senate's special session on medical malpractice lawsuit reform

3. "I thought Mr. [Roger] Clemens made a very credible presentation here today. I have no reason to doubt him." February 13, 2008, in a hearing before the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, looking into illegal "juicing" by professional athletes

4. "I think the 16th Amendment is unconstitutional." April 15, 2008, in an interview with Kathleen McFadden with the High Country Press. Foxx did not explain how a duly ratified addition to the Constitution could be "unconstitutional"

5. "Governmental attempts to regulate and tax tobacco are no different than if the government were to regulate and tax Mountain Dew." April 8, 2009. A close paraphrase of what she said to teenagers at North Surry High School, according to the editor of the Mt. Airy News

6. "I also would like to point out that there was a bill -- the hate crimes bill that's called the Matthew Shepard bill is named after a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. This -- the bill was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but it's really a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills." April 29, 2009, on the floor of the U.S. Congress, with Matthew Shepherd's mother sitting in the visitor gallery

7. "There are no Americans who don't have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare." July 24, 2009, in a Capitol Hill press conference

8. A Republican health care plan 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." July 28, 2009, on the floor of the U.S. Congress

Hagan Gets Over Her Case of the Willies?

Sez she's definitely on board with a guaranteed public insurance option that would compete with private insurance companies.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Heath Shuler, Big Man on Campus

What a diva!

Congressman Heath Shuler of the NC-11 joined the Blue Dog Democrats as soon as he got to Congress, and since then you'd think he both invented sliced (white) bread and also guarded its purity.

The Blue Dogs have been sticking their fat fingers in the president's eye over health insurance reform, siding with the Republicans in the rote repetition of talking points whose sole substance appears to be fear of change, terror mainly expended on behalf of the big insurance corporations (like Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC) which might actually (gasp!) have to compete in the marketplace instead of being handed a virtual monopoly.

The Blue Dogs, with Shuler very much hunting in that pack, have set themselves up as too too big for their britches, becoming in effect the dictators in the U.S. House of what will be allowed in any so-called "reform," which in their case looks an awful lot like what the Republican mugwumps advocate (i.e., "very little" or "next to nothing" or "the bare minimum to placate the ignorant public").

Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi caved to some Blue Dog demands (at which point the Progressive Dems in the House began manning their own barricades, since they've said all along that they would not support a reform that does not include competition for the big insurance corps).

And what's Shuler saying? He's set himself up as even more pompous than the Blue Dogs that Pelosi was trying to placate yesterday. According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, Shuler "expressed reservations about the deal on health care reform legislation reached Wednesday among some Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee."

And then he showed his hand: "I am hopeful that the ongoing negotiations will be productive, and I'm glad that the Blue Dogs have been able to slow the process down. I will continue to work with Blue Dogs and my other colleagues in both parties to ensure that health care reform will benefit us all. It is more important that we get it right than right away."

That last line is a sound-bite that might have been written by John Boehner, along with the sentiment, "I'm glad I could slow the game down." So that it resembles a death-march, eh, Congressman?

We might respect Mr. Shuler's position if we thought he knew the first thing about what he's talking about, rather than merely posturing for the applause of the Republicans he seems to be serving far more assiduously than the Democrats who elected him.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

FoxxyCare Would Put More Holes in the Safety Net

Madam Doctor Virginia Foxx is attempting to make a distracting splash in the health-care reform pool today by jumping onto a rival all-Republican bill, the so-called "Improving Health Care for All Americans Act" (H.R. 3218), otherwise known as "Give All the Money to the Insurance Industry Act."

It screams: "Republicans need to look like they're taking the need for health-care reform seriously."

(1) In short, this "plan" does three things: it offers tax credits to those who are not already in some kind of insurance pool to buy insurance (does not offer tax credits to those who get health care through their employers); it allows states to set up high risk pools and minimally funds those pools; and it allows small businesses to pool together to buy insurance, an "Exchange," so to speak.

(2) Pooled exchanges are not allowed to charge varying premiums for their members, but there is no limit on how much they can charge all their members. In other words, when the insurance companies determine that the pool is not making them enough profit, they can simply increase fees on all individuals within the exchange. There is no limit as to how much they can increase their rates, increase co-pays, or increase deductibles.

(3) There is no opportunity to set up not-for-profit exchanges. All exchanges must negotiate with insurance companies.

(4) States can set up a high risk pool or not. They would get minimal start-up costs, so probably most would not. N.C., for example, could get a maximum of $4.6 million per year. A couple of serious illnesses could wipe out this fund overnight.

(5) There is no discussion of how this plan would be funded or how much it
would cost.

(6) There is nothing in the bill that would reduce costs of health care or premiums.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What Senators Dodd & Hagan Have in Common (Other Than Uncommonly Good Health Insurance)

Both senators are receiving really marvelous mega-$$ support from Big Pharma, the drug industry's lobbying arm (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA for short). According to today's NYTimes, Dodd...
has not only benefited from the hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertisement courtesy of the pharmaceutical industry and Families U.S.A., a health-care advocacy group the industry teamed up with. But a few weeks ago, Mr. Dodd attended a $1,500-a-plate campaign fund-raiser sponsored by lobbyists representing U.S. Oncology, a provider of cancer drugs and services.

Dodd chairs the key health committee in the Senate that has already written its version of health-care reform, a bill which contains a public option.

Kay Hagan sits on this committee. She's received the same fawning support from PhRMA, with TV ads the group has paid for in N.C. praising her.

Doesn't make us feel any better about our chances, when the chips are finally down, of getting a consumer-friendly vote out of either senator.

We all knew that Congress was being bought & paid for by Big Business well before the reform of insurance industry practices was a gleam in Barack Obama's eye. They've bought key members of both parties. Sen. Dick Burr was schmoozing the same creeps last night. Ordinary working-class citizens can't get into such meetings. They're for the Big Boys only, and for the politicians they buy. Like, say, the effing Blue Dog Democrats.

We deserve this sorry state of affairs if we put up with this sorry state of affairs. I'm about past the point where I'm willing to put up with it, especially from elected representatives I might have considered philosophical allies.

Virginia Foxx Finally Figgers It Out!

Oh my Gawd, she's onto us!

She actually read the bill and found out that the Democrats have been laying the groundwork to kill old people ... except for the illegal immigrants and gay people (they're exempt ... hee hee hee). And coincidentally, the Democratic National Committee is reportedly proofreading a new cookbook titled "To Serve Man," which will be for sale on-line soon.

What the Madam didn't say (which suggests she did NOT read the footnotes to the bill) is that having passed the 65 threshold herself, she's now eligible for parboiling ... just as soon as our foreign-born Muslim president gets all those Democratic votes lined up.

She's gonna need extra rosemary, though. And salt. Lotsa salt.

A "Mafia" That's Holier Than Thou

The secret fundamentalist cabal, known as "The Family," which runs the secretive C Street townhouse where famous Republican serial adulterers have recently bunked, is discussed by the leading authority on the group, Jeff Sharlet, who wrote the book "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power." Sharlet sums up the secret group and the Washington men who have affiliated with it this way:
...Family men are more than hypocritical. They're followers of a political religion that embraces elitism, disdains democracy, and pursues power for its members the better to "advance the Kingdom." They say they're working for Jesus, but their Christ is a power-hungry, inside-the-Beltway savior not many churchgoers would recognize. Sexual peccadilloes aside, the Family acts today like the most powerful lobby in America that isn't registered as a lobby -- and is thus immune from the scrutiny attending the other powerful organizations like Big Pharma and Big Insurance that exert pressure on public policy.

The Family likes to call itself a "Christian Mafia," but it began 74 years ago as an anti-New Deal coalition of businessmen convinced that organized labor was under the sway of Satan. The Great Depression, they believed, was a punishment from God for what they viewed as FDR's socialism. The Family's goal was the "consecration" of America to God, first through the repeal of New Deal reforms, then through the aggressive expansion of American power during the Cold War. They called this a "Worldwide Spiritual Offensive," but in Washington, it amounted to the nation's first fundamentalist lobby. Early participants included Southern Sens. Strom Thurmond, Herman Talmadge and Absalom Willis Robertson -- Pat Robertson's father. Membership lists stored in the Family's archive at the Billy Graham Center at evangelical Wheaton College in Illinois show active participation at any given time over the years by dozens of congressmen.

Heath Shuler has already been linked to the C Street cabal.

And now ... Mike McIntyre, that other N.C. blue dog, who votes with the Republicans even more than Heath.

Whose interests are they serving, and why do they hide the strings by which they dangle?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Virginia Foxx Should Open Her Eyes

In this photo: Mason Hardin, 7, and his brother Matthew, 8, wait in line before sunrise last Friday to enter a Remote Area Medical (RAM) health clinic at the Wise County Fairgrounds in Wise, Virginia. The free clinic, which lasts 2-1/2 days, is the largest of its kind in the nation providing medical, dental and vision services from more than 1,400 medical volunteers to thousands of mountain residents. For many this is the only medical care they may receive each year. (For this and several other Reuters photos of this event, happening this weekend just over the mountain, see this site.)

The 10th annual Remote Area Medical (RAM) Health Expedition opened its doors at the Wise County Fairgrounds at 6 a.m. Friday morning, with almost 2,000 people already in line. The people volunteering to run this event had given out 1,600 numbers by 5 a.m., an hour before the start. (Local coverage in the Kingsport Times-News.)

The pictures of people receiving basic medical care in fairground horse stalls might seer into your conscience, if you had one. It took a British wire service -- Reuters -- to even document it. No American network news cameras were there (that we know of), possibly because there was no celebrity in line.

This is the state of American health care. This is what the American insurance industry has yielded.

This is what Virginia Foxx denies. This is what Virginia Foxx turns her hardened heart away from. This is what Virginia Foxx would not see, even if she looked in that general direction.

Virginia Foxx, on Friday, the same day that the horse stalls at the Wise County Fairgrounds hosted thousands of people with no health insurance and precious little health care, stood up at a Capitol Hill press conference and said, "There are no Americans who don't have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare."

We guess she was talking about this: If you fall down in the public street with a heart attack, or get hit by a skate-boarder, someone will eventually pick you up and take you to an emergency room. That's what she means. And because that is true, despite the thousands at the Wise County Fairgrounds and the millions like them all across this wide expanse, we do not need to reform health care in American, sez Madam Foxx, currently insured by a superb government-sponsored health-care plan that you and I are paying for and which she and her family will enjoy for the rest of her unnatural life.

There is no hell hot enough.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gov. Perdue Torpedoes General Assembly

We like it when she gets tough.

Governor Perdue came out last night and said no way would she support a budget bill that raised taxes on "anyone other than the wealthy" (according to the N&O). She was reacting to a budget deal reached between the N.C. House and the Senate that would slap an across-the-board surtax on all income taxpayers, as well as raise sales taxes. (Republican leaders in the General Assembly accuse Perdue of supporting the proposed increase in sales taxes, which would hit the poor harder.)

Anyway, we're glad to see the Guv start throwing some elbows.

Heath Shuler a C-Streeter?

Maybe so.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pulling Rank

During our years in academe we occasionally ran across some pretentious s.o.b. who insisted on being addressed as "Doctor So-and-So," and we chalked it up to an overweening snobbishness. Or to over-compensation for an actual lack of intellectual heft, or a poor self-image that relished the groveling of underlings.

So this item on Politico about Madam Virginia Foxx was more than merely instructive. She alone among her colleagues in the House of Representatives insists on having "Doctor" prominently displayed on her name plate at her desk on the Rules Committee ... as though that title compensates for her documented loose-cannonism.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We Hate the Sales Tax

Because sales taxes are not based on the ability to pay. Sales taxes are essentially underhanded. One sees different brands of coffee on the shelf, ranging in price from (very) high to (possibly) affordable. But that's not the price of the coffee, 'cause at the cash register the agents of the state are going to tack on 6 percent or 10 percent or whatever percent, and you've been snookered. Worse, sales taxes are regressive, meaning that as income decreases, tax as a percentage of income increases.

And the Democratic grandees in the state Senate intend for us to pay more of this regressive tax, while they coddle their corporate buddies. N.C. House leaders had wanted, for their part, to reform corporate taxes by instituting "combined reporting," which would have made it harder for mega-corps to hide their profits, which is to say, pay their fair share of state taxes for the privileges of doing business in N.C. But under pressure from the state Senate, the House has abandoned that reform.

A 1-cent sales tax increase (which seems likely) would raise $843 million in the next fiscal year. Legislative analysts predicted requiring combined corporate reporting would have raised $18.5 million this year and $43 million next year. Apparently, our working citizens are much greater money-bags (and softer targets) than big corporations

You don't have a lobbyist down in Raleigh, most likely. The corporations do.

Templeton Loses in Court (Again)

Back a year ago, Superior Court Judge Ronald Payne ruled against the Town of Boone and said Phil Templeton could build his medical clinic in the single-family neighborhood of VFW Drive. The Town of Boone appealed that ruling. (Another Templeton lawsuit, challenging Boone's steep slope development ordinance, was thrown out of court earlier this year.)

Yesterday the N.C. Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that Judge Payne erred in substituting his judgment for the Boone Board of Adjustments: "The Superior Court was not free to find facts in place of the Board of Adjustment; its function was to determine whether the Board of Adjustment's findings were supported by competent evidence in the record before it." The Appeals Court noted that Judge Payne at one point declared that he himself planned to visit the proposed construction site (though whether he ever did that is unclear).

The Boone Board of Adjustments erred in not making a formal finding of fact, though the BOA had "substantial evidence" before it opposing the Templeton special use request, and so the case is remanded back to the Boone BOA so that a finding of fact can be made.

Once the BOA does that, it's possible that Templeton could appeal again. However, the Court of Appeal's opinion essentially holds that the record contains sufficient evidence to support denial of the permit, and that would seem to destroy Templeton's procedural arguments. So, assuming that the Board adopts sufficient findings on remand, Templeton should have little ammunition for another appeal.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ventriloquist's Dummy

Madam Foxx (R-LooseCannonville) is not the only Republican copying the words of Republican consultants looking for language that will galvanize citizens to run away from the president's health-care reform.

Republican smear merchant Alex Castellanos advised his pay-masters to harp on the word "experiment," and ever the obedient mouthpiece, Republican national party chair Michael Steele used some form of that word over 30 times in about as many minutes.

Dana Milbank was in the room for the ventriloquism.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Republican Neuroses Becoming Psychotic

Like this.

Or this.

Simple Math

Bill Greener, a Republican operative who on the eve of the election last fall was arguing that "undecideds" were going to break for McCain because of Obama's race, is now whining a very different tune:
Unless and until Republicans can demonstrate an ability to attract more support from minority voters, from younger voters, from voters living in urban areas, it seems to this die-hard Republican that we are kidding ourselves if we think the 2008 election was just a speed bump on our road to a lasting majority. Looking at nothing more than the math, it appears to me our challenge is far more daunting.

For a party whose Congressional leaders seem obsessed with finding the next racist argument against the president and whose "youth" just installed an openly racist candidate as president of the national Young Republicans, Greener's whistling through a particularly deaf graveyard.

Bleat, Goes the Guv

South Carolina's Guv and Chief Hypocrite just can't stop spinning. He distributed an essay to the state's Sunday papers yesterday 'splaining how God was working through his life in a special way, that all that sneakin' 'round was just what God wanted him to do so that he could be exposed (crucified) for the greater glory of the Lard.

Don't know what the Guv was inhaling when he lived in that "Christian" Frat House on C Street in D.C., where other recent strutting Republican adulterers also bunked, but apparently it leads to blessed self-congratulation.

At least the other recently exposed hypocrites like Sen. John Ensign have chosen to remain (relatively) silent. Sanford can't stop yapping about how God has graced him with absolution. Would that God would grace the rest of us with a little gubernatorial silence.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Wanker Democrats

Guest Blogging: Irmaly

Yesterday (Friday) was an interesting day in the health care reform movement. Without getting into all the details, things were swimming along until three wanker Democrats in the U.S. Senate (and one wanker "independent Democrat") wrote a letter saying, "Whoah. We're moving too fast. We must stop this. We must get more information. We can't get this done before the August break."

They said this because also yesterday (Friday) the insurance lobby, already spending $1.4 million a day to move Congress critters in their direction, was all in a dither because the chances of a government public option passing the Congress moved from "no chance" to "distant possibility" (according to insiders on The Hill).

You see, if they could just slow things down enough, the insurance lobby would have more time to buy off more congressmen and scare the public more.

Here's a list of the wanker Democrats who are trying to stop health care reform in its tracks:
Wanker Ben Nelson (202) 224-6551
Wanker Mary Landrieu (202) 224-5824
Wanker Ron Wyden (202) 224-5244
Wanker Joe Lieberman (202) 224-4041

President Obama appeared in a non-scheduled press conference at 4 pm yesterday (Friday) and laid it down: "We WILL pass health care reform THIS YEAR." In his weekly address this morning (Saturday), he drew a line in the sand, saying (among other things) there had to be a public option.

We are where the rubber meets the road. Will the people win? Or will the insurance companies?

Spread the word. Hit the phones. And remember this scene from "The West Wing" when you call the wankers:
JOSH Forgive my bluntness, and I say this with all due respect, Congressman, but vote yes, or you're not even going to be on the ballot two years from now.

KATZENMOYER How do you figure?

JOSH You're going to lose in the primary.

KATZENMOYER There's no Democrat running against me.

JOSH Sure there is.


JOSH Whomever we pick.

KATZENMOYER You're bluffing. I'm in your own party!

JOSH Doesn't seem to be doing us much good now, does it?

KATZENMOYER I'm an incumbent Democrat. You'll go to the press and endorse a challenger?

JOSH No sir. We're going to do it in person. See, you won with fifty-two percent, but the President took your district with fifty-nine. And I think it's high time we come back and say thanks. Do you have any idea how much noise Air Force One makes when it lands in Eau Claire, Wisconsin? We're going to have a party, Congressman. You should come, it's gonna be great. And when the watermelon's done, right in town square, right in the band gazebo .... You guys got a band gazebo? Doesn't matter, we'll build one. Right in the band gazebo, that's where the President is going to drape his arm around the shoulder of some assistant DA we like. And you should have your camera with you. You should get a picture of that. 'Cause that's gonna be the moment you're finished in Democratic politics. President Bartlet's a good man. He's got a good heart. He doesn't hold a grudge. [puts on sunglasses] That's what he pays me for. [walks away]

Friday, July 17, 2009

Those Pure Conservative Values

An object lesson in the corruption of big money, involving an amusing example of "pay-to-play" by the American Conservative Union, headed by one David Keene, who has never been shy about strutting his "traditional moral values" along with his "commitment to a market economy." Turns out his moral values are highly sensitive to whatever the market will bear.

Keene tried to extort $2-$3 million from FedEx to support its side with "op-eds and articles written by ACU's Chairman David Keene and/or other members of the ACU's board of directors" in a legislative battle with UPS, FedEx's bitter rival in the package delivery business. When FedEx refused to play (ahem, pay), David Keene began writing those op-eds and articles in support of UPS.

The ACU is denying that it took any money from UPS. Somehow, we doubt that denial.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Local Champion

Justin Grimes's two-part series on the health-insurance crisis in Watauga County concludes in this week's High Country Press. (Part I, which focused on the Community Care Clinic, launched here in 2006 as a wholly volunteer free service, was published July 9.)

While Madam Foxx turns a blind eye and a hardened countenance on the need for real health-care delivery reform, our own state Senator Steve Goss emerges in Grimes's second article as a knowledgeable local champion.

The big villain? Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina, which holds a virtual insurance monopoly in the state. Fined $1.8 million in 2003 for knowingly underpaying some 146,000 emergency room claims, Blue Cross/Blue Shield has most recently been violating the spirit if not the letter of its "non-profit" status by running TV ads opposing the president's health-care reform ideas.

It's outfits like Blue Cross, along with politicians like Madam Foxx, who'll try to frighten citizens into passive acquiescence to the broken system we have, a system that benefits Blue Cross and Madam Foxx immensely, though not the rest of us.

Give Shuler Credit

...for this, at least.

Blue Dogs & Sick Puppies

Thanks to Gordon at Scrutiny Hooligans for directing us to this Nate Silver piece of statistical gold: that the Blue Dog Democrats in the U.S. House usually represent districts in which a publicly subsidized health-insurance plan is desperately needed.

Like Heath Shuler's 11th District in N.C., where over 23% of his constituents are uninsured. Gordon computes that to about 150,000 people hanging out there without a health-care safety net, other than the emergency room at the local hospital.

Gordon goes a lot easier than we would on Shuler's recent grandstanding against the public option, hoping that gentle persuasion might work. Maybe so. Saddled as we are with the hopelessly callous Madam Foxx in the 5th, we could only long for the problems that a Blue Dog might give us.

The Face of the Opposition

Powerful article by Bob Geary about some of the North Carolina people who went to Washington last month and confronted Sen. Kay Hagan about her waffling on the need for a "public option" for health insurance in any so-called "reform" bill. Gives insight into the reaction of community activists in the Durham region to hearing Rahm Emanuel say that maybe a public option wasn't necessary. That's non-negotiable, community organizers in the Triangle told White House ambassadors. People are tired of high-costs, of obscene insurance company profits, of people losing their insurance for "pre-existing conditions."

People are sick and tired of the deniers -- those who poo-poo the idea of millions upon millions of Americans who are uninsured -- and whose every response to reform is to scream "socialism," as though that word contained any content whatsoever beyond its apparent power as a club to beat down the already sick.

People with lots of money are very pleased with their health-care. People like Congresswoman Virginia Foxx. She has the best health insurance money can buy and pays precious little for it. We subsidize it for her. She's got it for the rest of her life, along with her family.

Meanwhile, Foxx blithely denies the statistics on the uninsured. She was in a college class at Gardner-Webb's satellite campus in Statesville in March 2008 when she told the students that she didn't believe in universal health care. A nursing student asked, "Then what are you in favor of?"

This was Foxx's response, as reported in the Statesville newspaper (the article is no longer on-line, but we grabbed the quote at the time here:
...Foxx said that the number of Americans without health insurance was typically given as 47 million.

She broke that number down by saying one-third of it was made up of illegal immigrants, one-third was of those who were uninsured for only a portion of the year but not all of it, and one-third was of people who have access to insurance "but choose not to take it."

"Choose or can't afford?" another student asked.

Foxx compared health insurance to homeowner's or automobile insurance and said health insurance was initially designed for "catastrophic" events and "not for maintenance."

"A huge portion of health insurance funds go into the last 18 months of a person's life," Foxx said.

What do we make of that?

1. She's a grade-A, Olympic-size denier. The only uninsured Americans in Madam Foxx's world-view choose to be that way. Or else they're illegal immigrants and deserve to be run over in the road.

2. If you cut off your hand (a "catastrophic" event), you maybe deserve a little health insurance. But not if you have, say, adult-onset diabetes. Health insurance should not be "for maintenance." Unless it's for her and her family.

3. Old, sick people ... what a drag.

What to do about health-care reform in America? For Madam Foxx, the answer is always the easiest one: zilch. Because nothing whatsoever is wrong in the world beyond the tip of her nose.

Sen. Hagan did vote for the bill passed out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee yesterday, which contains health insurance coverage for nearly all Americans. And is now bragging about her vote. Good for her.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Taking the Wind Out of Alternative Energy

The attempt to cripple wind power in the North Carolina mountains continues apace in the N.C. General Assembly, led principally by two mountain Democrats, Martin Nesbitt of Buncombe and Joe Sam Queen of Haywood counties.

What's worse (we won't quite say "nefarious" yet) is that the attempt to ban the wind generators that might actually produce some serious alternative energy is being wrapped up in a seemingly high-minded environmentalist doctrine ("the mountain views, O my brethren!") while in reality it serves the interests of the worst polluters on the planet, Big Oil and Big Coal, industries which are openly hostile to wind power.

The big "tell" in this proposed legislation is that the bill, as introduced by Steve Goss in March, was originally designed specifically to exempt wind turbines from provisions of the "ridge law." But other senators got their hands on it and completely reversed its thrust, first to ban effectively wind power in the mountains ... now merely to cripple it decisively. For example, the bill currently would severely limit how much wind-generated power the Big Boys like Duke Energy would have to buy for their monopolized grids. That's a sweet deal for Duke.

If there is a justifiable concern about huge wind farms invading our mountain ridges, give counties the (ahem) zoning power to control their location (as Watauga has already done).

It's transparent what political ideology is leading the fight against wind energy. Just take a look at any of the jillion John Locke Foundation websites and blogs in the state (like this and this). Their "free market" fundamentalism includes an impulse to squeeze the life out of anything that might free us from fossil fuels.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Speaking of Sarah Palin (and how can we not?), Mike Murphy, the veteran GOP operative, characterized the Republican rank-and-file who are head-over-heels in love with the Alaskan Doofus: "People at the grass roots see a charismatic personality who is popular with other people at the grass roots. But their horizon only goes so far as people who think like them." In a column published last Thursday in the New York Daily News, Murphy called Palin a "political train wreck," "an awful choice" for vice president, and her resignation an "astonishing self-immolation."

Murphy's opinion and that of several other Republican political professionals are tallied in today's LATimes under the headline, "Republican Pundits Open Fire on Sarah Palin." Which just makes the Republican grassroots love her all the more and declare that she was sent by God to lead their party out of the wilderness (and onto the frozen tundra?).

What are Republicans in Alaska saying about her since she declared "So long, suckas"? Max Blumenthal catalogs a few of those, including this one:
"Honestly, Sarah's resignation was complete bullshit and I'm saying that as a Republican," a Republican political veteran working in the legislature told me. "In all my years in politics, nobody has left Alaska in such a mess. Everyone here is just shocked." ...

Apparently, it'll take a special session of the Alaskan legislature to untangle the knots, including the Palin unilateral decision to refuse Economic Stimulus money.

Head Scratcher

The Watauga Conservative reports this a.m. that the Republicans will have candidates filing to run in the Boone municipal elections in November, but one of the two names mentioned is actually registered as a Democrat, according to the State Board of Elections. And wrong again on the party affiliation of the supposed Democrat who is running against Mayor Clawson. He's actually registered Unaffiliated.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The New Face of the Young Republicans

The Young Republicans National Federation, at its convention yesterday in Indianapolis, demonstrated that the "young" are as bent on maintaining the racism that took hold of the "old" in their party last year. By a vote of 470-415, the convention elected Audra Shay of Louisiana who recently entertained and applauded comments on her Facebook page that the Obama administration was "a bunch of coons." (Shay's subsequent explanation doesn't wash at all.)

John Avlon at The Daily Beast has the most detailed coverage of what went down yesterday, including the gay-baiting of Shay's chief rival for president of the group, Rachel Hoff, who was leading a reform slate calling itself "Team Next Level." Hoff's great sin, apparently, was announcing that she could support civil unions for gay couples. Therefore, said Shay supporters, she obviously dresses like a lesbian and probably is one.

So much for the "renewal" of the Republican Party. Young Republicans are every bit as ossified as their elders.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Barfing Up Frank Luntz

We linked below to a press release from the chair of the Watauga County Democratic Party, calling out 5th Dist. Rep. Virginia Foxx for regurgitating propaganda points written by Republican operative Frank Luntz to scare people away from any health-care reform.

Others have noticed Foxx's ventriloquism, in much more detail.

Loose Cannons

Madam Foxx makes the list. Right above Michele Bachmann.

Short Circuit

Recent polling of American voters found that more than half of us could not name even one member of the Supreme Court, so this news will likely resonate with -- what? -- a quarter of the voters, even among those in the states covered by the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

But with the retirement of the chief judge of the 4th Circuit, there are now a third of the 15 seats on that circuit that are vacant -- an opening for President (and former constitutional law professor) Obama to bring some balance to a court that has been historically the most ideologically conservative in the country.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Blue Cross ... Bad Dog!

We, like 96% of North Carolinians, are insured by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. They have a virtual monopoly on insurance coverage in the state.

They are totally in bed with Madam Foxx and the rest of her ilk in trying to bamboozle the public that any competition (remember that good ole American principle?) would not only be bad for their profit margins specifically but bad for Americanism and God and unadulterated apple pie generally!

Senator Kay Hagan is inclined to listen to Blue Cross executives more than to the rest of us, unfortunately.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Virginia Foxx and Her Ghost Writers

This posting today sez that Virginia Foxx's e-mail to her constituents attacking a public option in health-care reform lifts all its salient language from one Frank Luntz, who told Republicans back in May to use this language in scaring Americans away from any meaningful health-care reform options.

Virginia Foxx cribbing her talking points? Ain't nuttin new.

She deputized her employee Aaron Whitener, whom she also installed as the new chair of the Watauga County Republican Party, to publish under a fictitious name an outrageous attack on the Town of Boone as some sort of gay-friendly, devil-worshipping municipality that was ripe -- RIPE, we say -- for Republican take-over.

Gosh. Can't the Madam say anything original?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Pharmaceutical Industry Loves Itself Some Sen. Hagan

Senator Kay Hagan has gotten herself into a big soupy stew, sending conflicting and unclear messages about her support/lack of support for a public option in health-care reform. Adam Searing at The Progressive Pulse runs it all down.

As of Friday, we had thought that Sen. Hagan was on-board with a public option. But then the pharmaceutical industry starting running TV spots in N.C. praising her stand on health-care reform. Big Pharma wouldn't do that if Hagan were sincerely supporting a public option, which Big Pharma decidedly does not.

Something doesn't compute here.

And all this doubt about Hagan ain't helping her with her base. Not a whit.

What's Up With This Guy?

Senator Charles W. Albertson, who represents the N.C. coastal plain counties of Duplin, Lenoir, and Sampson counties, wants to ban the development of wind power in the mountains, because (sez he) "We know that if you put a bunch of windmills up there, it's going to change the aesthetics and mar the landscape."

His bill would actually ban -- ban! -- the practice of hooking wind turbines up to the power grid, so that excess energy can be sold to the Big Boys.

Such a proposed law has prompted some state bloggers to speculate that Sen. Albertson has some coal mine stock tucked away somewhere, or that he represents the worst of an older generation that never left the 19th century, let alone with 20th.

When last heard from on this site, Sen. Albertson was also responsible for blocking a move to increase the number of poultry plant inspectors. Poultry plants are among the more notorious violators of NC labor laws. They also gave Sen. Albertson some $25,000 in campaign contributions.

So Albertson has a history of being something of a dick.

Friday, July 03, 2009

S. Palin Leaves Public Life in a Blaze of Babbling

No really.

Well we got no choice
All the girls and boys
Makin all that noise
'Cause they found new toys
Well we can't salute ya
Can't find a flag
If that don't suit ya
That's a drag

School's out for summer
School's out forever
School's been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher's dirty looks

Well we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can't even think of a word that rhymes

School's out for summer
School's out forever
School's been blown to pieces
[Thank you, Alice Cooper]

Coming Out

Disgraced politicians have limited options. When they decide to make a reappearance in public, they desperately need to go where they're guaranteed a friendly, even adulatory reception, and a minimum of booing. Which is why Richard M. Nixon in August 1979 chose the tiny (and heavily Republican) mountain town of Hyden, Kentucky, for his first public appearance after being forced from office. That's him on the right in the Hyden school gymnasium, sharing a victory wave with the judge executive of Leslie County, who was running for reelection at the time and was pleased as punch to be standing next to the ex-president. The judge executive happened to be under indictment at the time for fraud and vote-buying.

Birds of a feather.

Thus are the citizens of tiny Woodward, Oklahoma, beside themselves that their invitation to George W. Bush to attend their July 4th celebration tomorrow was accepted. "To actually come to a small community like this, that shows his character," said Kelle Robinson, co-owner of the Sweet Surprises store, which has been turning out U.S. flag cookies. "He's not too good for the common people."

His character? Why, yes. He's being paid for the visit ... to a place where the last surviving Democrat died in captivity decades ago.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sen. Hagan Now Backing a Public Option?

Betsy Muse at BlueNC is reporting that the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee has a draft bill, that it contains "a healthy public option," and that Sen. Kay Hagan has signed on to it.

Perhaps all those phone calls really helped.

Fast Food Nation

Like the pudgy surviving remnants of the human race in WALL-E, we're addicted to our corn-syrup and fatty fried injections.

Which is to say, the new obesity numbers are out for the United States, and North Carolina is now ranked the 12th most obese adult population in the country

Another reason to do nothing about reforming health care for this over-stuffed population?
...while the nation has long been bracing for a surge in Medicare as the baby boomers start turning 65, the new report makes clear that fat, not just age, will fuel much of those bills.