Monday, August 31, 2009

The Mullah Who Would Be Governor of Virginia

You're given a pass if you're not following the election contest for governor of Virginia this year, but you might want to check out the Republican who is leading in most polls, one Robert F. McDonnell, who was fostered by Pat Robertson's university and who clearly wanted to keep women roughly in the same place that the Taliban reserved for them. He's now disavowing those views he put into his student thesis, but his history in the Virginia state legislature suggests otherwise. From the WashPost:
At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master's thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." He described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.

The 93-page document, which is publicly available at the Regent University library, culminates with a 15-point action plan that McDonnell said the Republican Party should follow to protect American families -- a vision that he started to put into action soon after he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.

In his run for governor, McDonnell, 55, makes little mention of his conservative beliefs and has said throughout his campaign that he should be judged by what he has done in office, including efforts to lower taxes, stiffen criminal penalties and reform mental health laws. He reiterated that position Saturday in a statement responding to questions about his thesis.

Book Review

Taking a break from American history reading, I decide to learn a little something about evolution and delve into one of the most exciting books I’ve read in years, “The Song of the Dodo” by David Quammen. It’s a relatively old book, published in the mid-’90s, but it’s all new to me and written with the wry zip of a born cut-up. Couldn’t put it down.

The book is named for the dodo because that bird was one of hundreds of island species that went extinct not so terribly long ago, about the end of the 17th century. It had evolved without the need for wings – no natural predators, until Europeans arrived on Mauritius and found it easy pickin's. Quammen records that the name “dodo” possibly comes from a nickname given it by Dutch sailors, meaning (roughly) “lard ass.”

Ole Lard Ass opens the door to a history of the study of evolution. Charles Darwin got himself to islands to discover the species that began to open his eyes, as did Alfred Russel Wallace, Darwin’s chief rival for the claim of thinking up the “origin of species.” Quammen assumes that Wallace got to the truth first but received no credit for it, partly because he was a rank amateur and Darwin was the revered professional. “Islands give clarity to evolution,” says Quammen: “Islands have been especially instructive because their limited area and their inherent isolation combine to make patterns of evolution stand out starkly.”

Quammen is not a mere armchair adventurer. He’s followed the footsteps of those pioneering biologists, petted the marine iguanas of the Galapagos, hunted the invasive brown tree snakes in the dark of Guam, nearly had his butt amputated by a Komodo dragon on the island of Flores in the nation of Indonesia. Those and dozens of other eye-witness accounts enliven this book.

If the sum total of Quammen’s reportage is melancholy, and if you’re particularly susceptible to the ecological blues, you might want to focus on the subtitle of this book before plunging in: “Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions.” Scientists who study ancient bones have charted a series of five mass extinctions of species going back to the late Ordovician period (440 million years ago), followed by one in the late Devonian period (370 million years ago) and then the Permian extinction 250 million years ago, which eliminated more than half the extant families of invertebrate marine creatures, and the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic period (about 215 million years ago) and then the Cretaceous extinction 65 million years ago, which claimed the last of the dinosaurs. Human life had no hand in any of these because human life did not yet exist.

But in the later millennia of the Pleistocene epoch, only tens of thousands of years ago, a sixth mass extinction of animals got underway and is still continuing today, helped along by the appetites and hobbies of mankind, since this most recent extinction began about the time that humans began hunting in armed and cooperative packs.

“Eons in the future,” Quammen sums up, “paleontologists from the planet Tralfamadore will look at the evidence and wonder what happened on Earth to cause such vast losses so suddenly at six points in time: at the end of the Ordovician, in the late Devonian, at the end of the Permian, at the end of the Triassic, at the end of the Cretaceous, and again about sixty-five million years later, in the late Quaternary, right around the time of the invention of the dugout canoe, the stone ax, the iron plow, the three-masted sailing ship, the automobile, the hamburger, the television, the bulldozer, the chain saw, and the antibiotic.”

Quammen’s section on the extinction of the passenger pigeon is especially poignant, since these mountains harbored so many millions of them up through much of the 19th century. They gave their names to hundreds of places called “Pigeon Roost” in Ohio, Indiana, and in Watauga County, N.C., among dozens of other places. They were “harvested” by the thousands by teenage boys and by their fathers as a kind of prank, knocked off their roosts at night with sticks. It was so easy, killing them. The last confirmed wild passenger pigeon was shot dead in Sargents, Ohio, on March 24, 1900. The very last known, formerly wild passenger pigeon died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Gracefulness of Spotless Minds

A mere sampling of some of the comments posted at, on a thread about N.C. political figures commenting on the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy ... because anonymity brings out the best in everyone:
Molly Hatchet Registered | 08/26/2009 2:54PM
Truly the end of an error.

PlumbHollow Registered | 08/27/2009 10:59AM
Ted Kennedy was an extremely flawed and crooked man. Those who say that he "helped" the "little guy" need to ask themselves one question.

Why don't all those incredibly wealthy liberal politicians simply turn over their excess billions in personal fortunes to the "little guys"?

It's a proven fact that Liberals give very little of their pesonal fortunes to the needy but they damned sure do like giving away the "little guy's" money.

I can only hope that Teddy got right with the Lord before he assumed room temperature.

Just call me Bill Registered | 08/27/2009 1:11PM
It is indeed hypocritical to change what you have to say about someone just because he died. Nothing has changed.

Mr. Kennedy was an alcohol abusing, womanizing, liberal whose political policies hurt this country and who may have literally gotten away with murder. He is still an alcohol abusing, womanizing, liberal whose political policies hurt this country and who may have literally gotten away with murder. However, he is now a dead alcohol abusing, womanizing, liberal whose political policies hurt this country and who may have literally gotten away with murder.

This is not graceless or lacking compassion, but simple consistency of opinion.

lawnboy Registered | 08/27/2009 5:47PM
rum runner and murderer

lawnboy Registered | 08/27/2009 6:49PM
No I can still hate him all of the dead kennedy's..worm food

PlumbHollow Registered | 08/27/2009 10:54PM

I can include Ted Kennedy into a conversation of Hitler and Saddam because Kennedy BELONGS in such a discussion! Not only did he kill a young woman, he was absolutely complicit in the murder of millions of unborn children in his dispicable career.

I only wish he would have done the honorable thing and blown his pea-brains out years ago.

It amazes me that liberals give Kennedy a pass on a murder, the cover up of a rape, the slandering of a rape victim and the serial womanizing of dozens of women. Not to mention his well documented mistreatment of employees.

I suppose you can't expect rational thought from Liberals. After all, if you condone the murder of the innocent, what WON'T you condone?

As for Teddy's family?.....I can muster no empathy...they all knew he was a piece of human debris too. All the grief is strictly for show and the dough.

America will be a better place when the Kennedy Clan simply disappears from the political landscape.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Michael Steele Argues With Himself

I heard this interview with Michael Steele this a.m. on NPR and couldn't believe my ears. A flabberglasticon of contraditions and confusions, Steele was all over the map, trying to sound half-way competent about the facts and stumbling repeatedly instead into deep potholes of faulty logic and twisted reasoning.

Hence, he's the perfect spokesman for the Party of No, the Party of Torture, the Party of the Smugly Prosperous.

Blue for Money

It should come as absolutely no surprise whatsoever that the so-called Blue Dog Democrats are currently raking in money from the health care industry by the bushel.

But, please, let's call Heath Shuler (NC-11) and Mike McIntyre (NC-7) and the rest of that illustrious crew what they in fact have become ... obstructionists to reform. Their new motto: "First we count the money, and then we cast our votes."

McClatchy Newspapers is reporting, "On average, Blue Dog Democrats net $62,650 more from the health sector than other Democrats, while hospitals and nursing homes also favor them, giving, respectively, $5,680 and $5,550 more, according to the Center for Responsive Politics...."

However, for all their current whoring for the health-care industry, even the Blue Dogs can't hold a candle to the Republicans: "House Republicans, however, tend to collect more than Democrats-- including Blue Dogs -- from insurers, health professionals and the broader health sector, the Center for Responsive Politics found."

Just ask Madam Foxx, who knows a thing or two about whoredom.

Face-to-Face with The Madam

What it takes to get a meeting with our U.S. Representative in Congress...
I saw Virginia Foxx in the parking lot of a grocery store last Sat. in Boone. Actually, I saw her vehicle & realized it was hers by her license plate and so I waited for her. I went up to her and said: "Virginia Foxx." She turned around and said "yes." I said, "How does it feel to lie to America?" She knew immediately what I was referring to. She said: "I didn't lie." I said, "You most certainly did lie." She said, "What's your name!" I said, "My name doesn't matter. I am not the one who LIES to America."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It Takes A Crazy to Hang Out with a Crazy

Virginia Foxx can't meet the voters of the 5th District face-to-face, but she has time to spend on the line with the second battiest loose cannon in the U.S. House, Michelle Bachmann.

What's with this new Republican "townhall" habit of bringing additional reinforcements on the telephone line with you, like Foxx brought that obscure east Tennessee Congressman (Phil Roe) on with her last week, who promptly took up half the hour himself.

Shades of George W. Bush taking Dick Cheney along to hold his hand while he testified to the 9/11 Commission. Or, more accurately perhaps, shades of this.

Cal Cunningham

There's chatter this a.m. over at BlueNC about Cal Cunningham, who's obviously itching to get into the Democratic senatorial primary for a chance to face "Bank Panic Dick" Burr, the Invisible Senator, next year. A whole host of possible candidates -- including Cunningham, Elaine Marshall, Dennis Wicker, and Bob Etheridge -- are waiting for Sen. Robert Menendez, head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, to tap the DSCC's pick, since a lot of money and tactical support would come with the tapping. Coronation by the DSCC would also winnow the field pretty quickly.

We've had a chance to meet and hear Mr. Cunningham speak a couple of times recently, and we're impressed that he would take the fight to Burr and is probably best equipped to generate enthusiasm among that newest Democratic demographic, the 18-30 age group. He's honing his attack on Burr and drawing the necessary distinctions.

Chuck Schumer, head of the DSCC two years ago, picked Kay Hagan to run against Liddy Dole. Robert Menendez will do the picking this year. It's not necessarily the way we'd like to see our senatorial candidates picked, but that's the way it is. Period.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Well, It IS Monday

Unfortunately, this pretty much says it all.

The author, David Michael Green, teaches political science at Hofstra.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Where's Foxx?

Got this e-mail from some enterprising young citizen in Watauga County relative to Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's unavailability to her constituents:
Just started a Where's Foxx campaign all over the net:

Twitter: (If you have twitter: @WheresFoxx)



Working on getting a text short code and making flyers and mailers to go out with a wanted poster of her or something of the sorts that has the Facebook, Twitter, E-mail addresses, and shortcode information and asks the receiver to "Let us know if you've seen our representative."

Every time we get a legitimate response we'll map it on Google maps and post it to each page so the public can see where she's at.

Related (but not so different) is this comment from "Reader" on a thread over at Watauga Conservative:
Blogger, I don't know why a woman as tough as nails, wouldn't hold one [a townhall meeting] in person. She can take the heat. She keeps getting reelected, so that should tell her something. I respect officials when they can stand up and answer to all parties. I like what she's done for us.

August 19, 2009 8:19 AM

On that same comment thread at Watauga Conservative is background on something (a federal land swap, evidently) that went down in Blowing Rock and in which The Madam had a decisive role to play. We'd like to know much more about this:
I ... was a staunch supporter of Foxx until the Blowing Rock land trade fiasco occurred. As many are beginning to see, Foxx and the Town of Blowing Rock conspired, out of the view of the public, to trade land that was purchased under questionable circumstances by the Town of Blowing Rock. What many find even more surprising is the weird (for lack of a better term) manner in which Foxx acted towards local hunters and shooters concerned with losing the last place within walking distance of Blowing Rock that they could hunt or shoot on.

Instead of meeting with several sportsmen and women who had approached her on several occassions requesting an audience, Foxx simply refused to meet with them, cutting off all communications. To say many long time locals in Blowing Rock and Watauga County were shocked is an understatement.

At this point it is simply entertaining to watch Foxx and her number 1, Aaron Whitener, try and answer questions concerning the land trade by outraged taxpayers. Whitener was recently called on land trade inconsistiencies by a member of the Republican Woman's Party. If looks are any indication of emotions, Whitener was extremely uncomfortable.

Foxx and Whitener should be uncomfortable with refusing to engage with their constituents. Many valid questions concerning Mrs. Foxx's integrity are surfacing. The fact that a current town council member's 1.3 million dollar home overlooks the parcel is, in itself, enough to elicit obvious questions. How a municipality could legally spend half a million dollars of taxpayer money on land it didn't even know could be traded is another intriguing question.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dick Burr: Options Are Scary, Like Voters

Afraid he might be breathed on by actual North Carolina voters, Sen. Dick Burr held a closed door meeting with criminally underpaid hospital administrators in Hickory who hate the idea of a "public option" for health insurance and believe that a foreign-born Muslim president has no right whatsoever to be trying, even, to reform health care in America and possibly no right to even be living upon the earth.

Health insurance options would erode the fabric of America, said Burr, who allowed a reporter for the Hickory Daily Record within 20 feet of His Presence only after the reporter had been sprayed with a strong disinfectant. Why are we crapping our pants over the threat of options? Because options might horribly impact insurance companies' profit margins, and what are we as American senators if not guardians of The Prosperous? And voters might never again vote for a Republican, at least not until Tom DeLay wins Dancing with the Lying Scumballs.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Foxx: "Americans Have No Constitutional Right to Health Care"

The moment came on a question from her seventh caller in the Rep. Foxx telephone townhall Thursday night: "Has anyone asked whether health care is a right or a privilege?" asked "Mr. Spivey from Kernersville." Turned out to be the right question.

Foxx: "The Constitution doesn't grant a right to health care or grant the federal government rights to deal with health care, and I'm trying to live by the Constitution."

Well, okay then. Conversation over. One wonders, therefore, why go through these motions, even to the point of propagandizing for the first 15 caller-less minutes of this piece of low political theater about the mythical Republican rival plan to reform insurance and health care delivery, when our Congresswoman professedly doesn't believe that the federal government, let alone the likes of her sorry self, have any rights whatsoever to even be dealing in such topics?

The little-over-an-hour of this particular townhall charade was actually a bit pitiful, since the same Congresswoman who has made national headlines with outrageous claims about Democrats' itching to put old people to death was studiously non-confrontational. And her callers were all marvelously polite and respectful (though several asked excellent questions or made smashingly logical comments), but The Madam did not engage in the manner of her Washington persona, the person we're all so familiar with. When "Charles from Fleetwood" made a heart-felt and eloquent point that a public option for health insurance would offer competition and thus lower costs, Madam Foxx said in response, "There was no question there, so we'll just move on." Might as well have chanted, "La la la, I can't hear you!"

Plus she obviously felt so severely insecure on the topic of health care generally that she brought a ringer in to help her ... Rep. Phil Roe from Johnson City, elected to represent the 1st Dist. of Tennessee. How puzzling it was to have this other congressman taking up literally half the hour, a congressman we don’t know and who doesn't represent us. He was her mouthpiece, took most of the hard partisan lines (like bashing European systems, which one caller astutely contradicted), and actually lectured callers on why their viewpoints were sorely misinformed. And why would he be making so bold on The Madam's dime? Because he's also a medical doctor. Pay no attention to me, Madam Foxx seemed to be admitting. Listen to him instead. He's a doctor. (And a partisan hack, but let that go.)

Having a ringer on the show with her just made her look weak and uninformed.

There were two guffaw moments during the hour, the first when "Lloyd of Statesville" said he was a retired federal employee, "one of the privileged ones" (he said) who has the federal employee insurance just like Madam Foxx's, who declared himself totally against socialized medicine. That never gets old.

And then at the end, the laugh-out-loud pronouncement by our Congresswoman, judged by independent observers to be an accomplished partisan battle axe and the second loosest cannon in all of Congress, who summed everything up: "Health care is not a partisan issue."

Laugh? I thought I'd cry.

Full Moon Over Whackadoodle

If you attempt to meet with 5th Dist. Congressprotoplasm Virginia Foxx during her extended vacation, you'll be talking to yourself or to a heroically under-informed 20-something staffer who'll promise to pass on your concerns to the Congresswoman, just prior to throwing those concerns into the trash as soon as you leave the office. Meanwhile, Madam Foxx is allegedly loading and unloading her Maytag, doing several months' worth of dirty laundry.

While rolling stones gather no moss, a rolling log of right-wing nougat will gather every nut. As Foxx was not making herself available in her North Carolina district, or running backward at the approach of any little ole Democratic constituent who looks more or less warm to the touch, she had plenty of time to howl at the moon last night with fellow coyote Michelle Bachmann in Minnesota, where (thankfully) no one knows who the hell she is and she is free to scold women who open their legs and stoopidly get pregnant. "You're just going to have to have those babies, because The Pope told me so, you sluts!"

It's a burden, being an icon of the extreme right. So time-consuming. And a strain to your moral superiority.

What He Said

Michael Moore: "As for the congressional Democrats, what a bunch of losers -- weak, scared, stupid. They had better get a clue pretty quick or the Dark Forces will return."

Conspicuous Consumption

At least they've got their priorities very, very straight ... "luxury boxes," gourmet catering, the odor of privilege.

Meanwhile ... We doubt the budget cuts will hardly impact the availability of canapes nor the flow of alcohol.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Virginia Foxx & Humpty Dumpty, Together Again

NC-5 Rep. Virginia Foxx published a guest editorial in today's Winston-Salem Journal in which she came out publicly and agreed with the impeccable logic of the most cracked character in "Alice in Wonderland": "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone," it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less" (HT: MW).

Apparently, none of us actually heard her say what the entire nation heard her say.


By sundown (I believe) the chair of the Watauga County Democratic Party had posted a rebuttal containing (interestingly) a solemn pledge offered for V. Foxx's signature ... that she won't continue accepting her own government-run health insurance until all her constituents who have no health insurance have the option of purchasing government-run insurance at least as good as hers.

No, We Don't Need No Stinkin' Reform


A Little Hope

"And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand." I Kings 18:44

When I was a kid, that passage was preached on as a sign of water coming to a parched land, a sign of hope, so last night when this story moved onto the NYTimes site and was suddenly everywhere else in Left Blogistan, we felt a quickening of the pulse and our nostrils flared with the scent of precipitation after months of drought.

It's progress if the White House (Rahm, we're looking at you) is getting over its pipe dream of "bi-partisanship," if it's finally realizing that negotiating with Republicans is akin to negotiating with a croc that has already swallowed one of your two legs and is bent on munching your private parts.

As much as the tea-baggers et al. scream that they speak for America, they speak for a minority that lost the last election, that is bloody-minded and wedded to lies, that totes loaded firearms to presidential appearances, that confuses the noise of talk radio and cable TV with "the voice of (all) the people," that is into bullying and bluffing and (now, apparently) dancing with the stars.

Let 'em scream. It's music to our ears, 'cause as long as those particular jerks are screamin', we figger something good is also happening.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dick Burr Shows His Face in Western N.C.

Though NOT in Watauga County. We're likely to see Virginia Foxx here before we see Senator Burr.

Senator Dick plans to meet groups in Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania, Mitchell and Yancey counties, though the Citizen-Times has no info about how one might get into one of those meetings.

Among other denials, the senator will no doubt be correcting that moment in Durham when he went a little off-message: "It's okay if you want to have a government option, but you've got to leave the private sector private." Well, okay then. (HT: B.M. at BlueNC)

Crunch Time

Roger Simon this a.m. revisits the campaign of 2008 to remind us of what candidate Hillary Clinton said about candidate Barack Obama: "Clinton warned voters that Obama would let them down. She warned them that when the going got tough, he would fold up."


Simon wields that memory because as of this past weekend, the prez appeared to be giving up on the public option for health insurance. The public option would create competition for the insurance companies, not socialism (which is what the over 65 crowd already has with its Medicare coverage, but don't try to tell them that. They've got theirs, which apparently was delivered by Jahweh to Moses on Mt. Horeb, and they don't give a living flip if you get yours).

Simon leaves the door ajar a crack for a transformed Obama to come charging back into the fray: "We don't know for sure that Obama is about to give up on the public option. I think, in the end, he will not. I think he may be tougher than some think and stronger than the polls show. But I admit there are troubling signs."

Perhaps the House Progressive Caucus can help the prez find those misplaced testicles. Some 60 members of the House say no way are Sen. Max Baucus and the likes of Rep. Heath Shuler the dictators of Democratic policy.

Progressive Dems, stick to your guns.

Monday, August 17, 2009

We Stand With Dean

Former Gov. Dean calls public option indispensable.

But apparently the Republicans are still running the government.

That Morning Bloated Feeling

A News & Observer analysis of University of North Carolina data reveals that, system-wide (which includes Appalachian State University), the ranks of administrators have grown by 28 percent. "That's faster than the growth of faculty and other teaching positions -- 24 percent -- and faster than student enrollment at 14 percent," writes the N&O.

Those new administrators -- Vice Chancellors in Charge of Sitting By the Door? -- earn inflated salaries at a time when the system is supposed to cut $73 million in line with the new budget passed by the General Assembly. The upper ranks would appear to offer many targets of opportunity: "The number of people with provost or chancellor in their titles alone has increased by 34 percent the past five years, from 312 in 2004 to 418 last year. The cost was $61.1 million, up $25 million from five years before."

We noticed the corporate management model taking hold at good ole ASU years ago and never much liked the trend. Perhaps Erskine Bowles' mandate to the institutions in the UNC system, to cut "senior and middle management positions" first, will do some good.

Or not.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Yelling You Hear Is Coming From the Losers (Duh)

Consider these words written about the president of the United States:
"We have arrived at a fearful crisis. Things cannot long remain as they are. It behooves all who love their country -- who have affection for their offspring, or who have any stake in our institutions, to pause and reflect. Confidence is daily withdrawing from the General Government. Alienation is hourly going on. These will necessarily create a state of things inimical to the existence of our institutions, and, if not arrested, convulsions must follow, and then comes dissolution or despotism, when a thick cloud will be thrown over the cause of liberty and the future prospects of our country."

No, not about Barack Obama was the specter of despotism invoked. These words were written against Andrew Jackson in 1834 ("American Lion," p. 277). He was the Democratic president tarred with the word TYRANT in his day, but unlike our current courtly, constrained, and cautious president, Andrew Jackson actually did have a streak of thug in him that bore watching.

Rick Perlstein writes this a.m. that "the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, [when] elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests." Dick Armey, whose FreedomWorks astroturf group is behind much of the orchestrated anger over health-care reform, could not keep from rubbing his hands together this morning and grinning like a cornered possum about the manipulation, though the words that came out of his mouth on Meet the Press were all denial and deflection.

In the early 1950s, Republicans referred to the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as "20 years of treason" and accused the men who led the fight against fascism of deliberately surrendering the free world to communism .... Before the "black helicopters" of the 1990s, there were right-wingers claiming access to secret documents from the 1920s proving that the entire concept of a "civil rights movement" had been hatched in the Soviet Union; when the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act was introduced, one frequently read in the South that it would "enslave" whites.

Perlstein sums up the failure of the mainstream media (not Fox News, obviously, which ain't mainstream): "Conservatives have become adept at playing the media for suckers, getting inside the heads of editors and reporters, haunting them with the thought that maybe they are out-of-touch cosmopolitans and that their duty as tribunes of the people's voices means they should treat Obama's creation of 'death panels' as just another justiciable political claim."

Philip Kennicott, in writing about the transformation of town-hall meetings into rageholic self-help sessions, quotes Alexis de Tocqueville, that "local institutions," such as town meetings, were "to liberty what primary schools are to science" (HT: T.O.). Science, you say? Conservatives are against that too.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Maybe It's a Dick Thing

NC-11 Congressman Heath Shuler expressed his loving concern for big insurance corporations (word is, they've exchanged rings) in a telephone town hall yesterday. Bottomline: Don't look to this Democrat to vote with the Democrats.

Anne at Scrutiny Hooligans has the best summary of Shuler's blah-blah:
He focused his answers to various questions on:

1) private insurance -- with a few tweaks -- is fantastic because change is uncertain and Medicare has fraud,

2) the Blue Dogs are our saviours, rah,

3) Medicare has waste and fraud (unlike the Dept of Defense's $2 TRILLION dollars unaccounted for, Heath?),

4) We need incentives for Americans to stop eating Twinkies and to get up off the couch,

5) If Americans would just take better care of themselves and stop having accidents and getting cancer, health care would be a lot less costly (on the CEO's bottom line),

6) the Blue Dogs are great, rah,

7) Electronic records will save the day,

8) Private insurance really is great and loves you -- you just have to look closer, and believe their promises that they won't shove you off the plank when you get cancer,

9) Yes, I and the Blue Dogs took $$ from the health care industry, but that doesn't influence us, and, the Blue Dogs are saving America, rah.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How Madam Foxx Does It

Intercepted e-mail:
I want to take an efficient action to support health care reform, containing costs, and public option. I supposedly had an appointment with [Rep. Virginia] Foxx yesterday but only got interviewed by a fresh faced 20 something with a computer. I was not informed of Foxx's absence until after the interview, which I made purposefully short in anticipation of speaking with Foxx. Live and learn. I canceled clients and drove from Ashe Co. for this non-interview.

No one gets face-time with The Foxx ... unless she already knows that your opinion conforms strictly with her own.

McHenry Shakes & Then Covers His Butt

In Linconton last night, 10th Dist. Congressman Patty McHenry fanned the "birther" flames in a manner that was calculated to keep the myth of the president's Kenyan birth alive:
During a three-hour question-and-answer session, primarily on health-care reform, Lincolnton resident Alan Hoyle asked if McHenry thinks Obama is a citizen. McHenry declined to affirm Obama's citizenship, instead saying: "I haven't seen evidence one way or the other."

Then this morning Little Patty issues a "clarification":
"As I stated last night, I have not carefully reviewed the evidence as a jurist would. However, from what I have read, I have absolutely no reason to question President Obama's citizenship. I anticipate that as a legal matter the courts will continue to come to the same conclusion."

"As a jurist would"? What the hell kind of weenie equivocation is that?

But not to worry. What his constituents heard from his lips last night, an encouragement to a racist exclusion of our elected president, is what will stand, since those given to these fantasies are much less likely to read anything to the contrary (like "clarifications" in the newspaper). The racists were coddled.

The Money That Endangers Democracy

Hat-tip to James at BlueNC for publicizing the DemocracyNC study of "Healthcare and Insurance Campaign Contributions to North Carolina Members of Congress." Fifth Dist. Congresswoman Madam Doctor Virginia Foxx is among four NC reps who've taken in over $180,000 from the health industry, and we know the garbage that falls out of her mouth.

But Sen. Dick Burr is the grand champion money-raker from these particular special interests. He's banked $1,674,101, "or almost three times the $630,949 raised by number two, Rep. Sue Myrick (R-Charlotte)."

All the North Carolina Republicans in Congress oppose health-care reform (with the possible exception of Walter Jones), and they will of course deny that these outrageous mounds of health-industry cash have anything to do with their attitudes. We believe 'em, right?

We expect Republican elected officials to side always with the rich and powerful. More disturbing are the $$ some of our Democrats are swallowing, particularly Sen. Kay Hagan and 11th Dist. Congressman Heath Shuler. Both tend to the "blue" end of the spectrum and have at various times expressed longing to protect the interests of big insurance monopolies.

As for Rep. Jones of the NC-3, he's a special (admirable) case (though we doubt very seriously that he'll ever vote for a final health-reform bill):
Of the twelve NC members of Congress in office during 2004-2008, Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. (R-Farmville) got the least amount from the pharmaceutical industry -- a total of only $7,000 over three campaigns. Jones is also the only Republican from North Carolina who voted for requiring Medicare to use its purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices, for encouraging the use of generics, and for allowing the import of FDA-approved prescription drugs.

Rep. Jones says the perceived relationship between votes and campaign money damages "public trust" in Congress. In fact, he is the main Republican sponsor of the Fair Elections Now Act (HR-1826), which would provide a public campaign option in Congressional elections, similar to the program now in place for appellate court judges in North Carolina. At a hearing on the legislation in July, Rep. Jones used the drug industry's political clout as the example of why reform is needed.

Immune to the Lessons of History?

In December 1832, following the landslide reelection of President Andrew Jackson, the governor of South Carolina appointed himself a military aide-de-camp who was "charged with the duty of raising, inspecting, and granting commissions to volunteer companies" of soldiers -- an armed militia, in other words -- to fight what the governor actually hoped would be a coming war with the United States government. (I've been reading Jon Meacham's new book on the Jackson presidency, "American Lion.") In that long-ago December, the Republic was still young (the Revolution had been fought -- what? -- a mere 50 years prior), and the Civil War was still almost 30 years away, so the Republic was also still naive.

Over 175 years later, the Republic is still full of public dunces willing to spill blood because of allegiance to stupid ideas and towering emotions.

In 1832, South Carolina had been declaring that it had the right to "nullify" any federal law it didn't like. President Jackson thought not. The micro issue at the time was some federal tariff the South didn't like, but its real fear was that the Federal North would take away its right to live comfortably on the backs of thousands of slaves. Although civil war was averted in the 1830s, it would take less than three more decades before that gross Southern inhumanity, and the self-interest of white planters who intended to go on profiting from human bondage into the full bloom of history, would force a settlement of the slavery issue once and for all.

South Carolina claimed the high ground of "states rights," the biggest and most important of those "rights" being the ability to keep other people in chains to grow your food, cook your food, coddle your children, and wash your filthy underwear.

The current presidency of Barack Obama is such a bitter pill for the Old South specifically, and for those possessed of the Old South mentality wherever they live, and even though it was a New Hampshirite who brought the most recent loaded gun to a presidential appearance, we fear that it is a majority of Southerners who are crying "fire" in this crowded theater, denying legitimacy, and making cozy with emotional gun-toters itching to spill blood.

You might take a look at "The Second Wave: Return of the Militias," a special report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Paranoid conspiracy theories ("the Federal government has set up 1,000 internment camps and is storing 30,000 guillotines and a half-million caskets in Atlanta," etc.), hatred of dark-skinned immigrants, 50 new militia training groups, and a mounting number of violent incidents. The proximate (and obvious) cause? The election of a black man to the presidency.
One man "very upset" with the election of America's first black president was building a radioactive "dirty bomb"; another, a Marine, was planning to assassinate Obama, as were two racist skinheads in Tennessee; still another angry at the election and said to be interested in joining a militia killed two sheriff's deputies in Florida. A man in Pittsburgh who feared Jews and gun confiscation murdered three police officers. Near Boston, a white man angered by the alleged "genocide" of his race shot to death two African immigrants and intended to murder as many Jews as possible. An 88-year-old neo-Nazi killed a guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. And an abortion physician in Kansas was murdered by a man steeped in the ideology of the "sovereign citizen" movement.

I had an e-mail last night from another student of history (actually a retired professor of history), who closed this way: "The racism behind the anger at Obama's victory will be around a long time, I fear. And, as the white, rural, and southern demographic continues to dwindle, we will see more of this outrage as the measuring stick. Folks who are sensing losing, will go down fighting."

We can pray for calm and reconciliation, but those genes are obviously weak in our bloodlines.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Return of the Know-Nothings

Ah, the odor of singed hair arising from the Republican Party of North Carolina. They're not so much "rebranding" (the source of that burned hair smell) as they're performing seances over the buried corpses of their ancient fears. The Know Nothings of 1840 were pikers compared to the hysterical mobs of today, taking their intellectual cues from the triumvirate of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Rush Limbaugh.

Public Policy Polling has found that "in North Carolina 64% of rural Republicans think [President Obama] was not born in the US, compared to 47% of Republicans overall." The statistic in the first part of that sentence is startling on its own, but what about the almost half of statewide Republicans who say they think we have an unconstitutional, unqualified foreigner (not to mention Muslim!) sitting in the White House?

That's what they say. Whether they actually believe it is another matter. It may be that they just woke up and discovered they lost the election and need some ready cudgel to flail at the air. "Foreigner" has had a long history as readily weaponized rhetoric in America.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Patrick McHenry Saves the World

N.C. 10th Dist. Congressman Patrick McHenry held a town-hall meeting last night in Mooresville where he was thronged by adoring thousands who begged him to save them from The Scary Black Man in the White House. The end.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Plan B: Blame "Thug-Like" Behavior on the Dems

The best sign we've seen that the mob atmosphere at town-hall meetings, engineered by corporate-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, is actually backfiring is this charge from Dallas Woodhouse, N.C. state director of AFP:
The outbursts against Democratic legislators at town hall meetings are being coordinated by the White House through the Democratic National Committee and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, so they can demonize those who speak out against the proposed insurance reforms, Woodhouse said.

"It's disgusting, thug-like politics, happening because President Obama is losing this debate on the merits," he said.

Note that Woodhouse admitted the behavior is "thug-like."

So, in case you're not following plain English, the Congressional Democrats, taking but a little time off from arranging death panels to send Sarah Palin's parents and Trig off to the ovens, are finding, recruiting, training, and encouraging a bunch of elderly white people with red faces to show up at Democratic town halls to shout nasty stuff at Democrats.

Makes total sense!

Whine & Cheese

Though Madam Doctor Virginia Foxx won't schedule any unscripted public events in the 5th Dist. while she's on vacation, she'll go outside her district to attend the Greater Greensboro Republican Women's Club Headline Annual Wine and Cheese Extravaganza.

'Cause we don't count for shit.

Virginia Foxx, Changing the Subject

Our in-box dinged minutes ago with a new e-mail from 5th District Representative Doctor Virginia Foxx. After competing with Michelle Backmann for National Laughingstock for Nutso Partisanship, she's decided to focus on other pressing issues.

What She Said
In the 1970's Richard Nixon appointed the nation's first "drug czar."

What She Meant
Watch this shiny object. You're feeling sleepy. You will forget the recent past.


What She Said
Presidents decreed the creation of "czars" to manage specific policy areas or national crises with no doubt the best of intentions.

What She Meant
I fry squash for my husband. He likes squash. I like squash too. I'm a sweet little grandmother, frying squash.


What She Said
Presidents view a powerful czar with sweeping jurisdiction as the quintessential problem solver.

What She Meant
I also cook beans. They're good with a little ham.


What She Said
But is it possible to have too many czars?

What She Meant
Have you forgotten what I'm not talking about yet?

Irony Is Wasted on Some People

A conservative activist in St. Louis named Kenneth Gladney, who got physical at a mob action opposing health-care reform and who now sez he was injured by vicious, Nazi-like libruls, is also raising money for his hospital bills, because ... wait for it ... he's uninsured, having lost his health insurance when he lost his job.

You can't out-think a man who ain't thinkin'.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Republian Brand: Cornering the Market on Violent Extremism

This is what Limbaugh/Beck/Hannity/O'Reilly wanted all along. This is what the Republican Party is reaping. This is their brand.

How Foxx Does It

Some pro-health care reform citizens showed up in Mocksville yesterday to protest Virginia Foxx at the only public event she has so far announced in the 5th Dist. Go ahead: Just try to find your Congresswoman during the August recess (unless you're attending one of her high-dollar fundraisers). The 30+ protesters had a permit from the Mocksville police and did not engage in shouting, booing, intimidation, or incendiary rhetoric, but the Mocksville police were nevertheless flummoxed, as if the Hell's Angels had rolled into town. (Our amateur Davie County historian thinks it may have been the first political protest in that county, possibly since the Regulator Movement in 1768.) An eye-witness account is here, along with more pics.

Foxx put off speaking at the Masonic Picnic until the local police had disappeared the protest, and when she did take the microphone, according to our snitch on the inside, she "spoke with almost no political overtones, except for affirming that we live in the greatest country on earth. She mostly spoke about the joy of summer and gardening, and picking and cooking a mess of beans, and frying some squash and serving it to her husband."

Virginia Foxx, one of the most outrageous butchers of partisan red meat in the Republican House caucus in D.C., whose distortions, lies, insults, preening ego, and general assholery (here's just a bare sampling) have been the talk of the nation and which behavior sparked the protest in Mocksville yesterday, turns all grandmother-and-apple-dumplings.

Academy Award for political acting? Or evidence of bipolar disorder?

Or simple political smugness. Foxx knows the voters of Davie County will follow her to hell (and approximately half-way back), that they likely don't read anything much beyond the Mocksville Enterprise Record and the menu board at the Mocksville Hardees, and that they watch Fox News exclusively and non-stop. The work has been done for her. So why risk unhinging your jaw and appearing in your true alien form, especially with unfriendly listeners in the audience?

Plus Madam Foxx is frankly and obviously terrified of people who do not immediately and reverently kiss her political butt. After Foxx's speech yesterday: "There was one little mishap, when our organizer walked up to her afterwards, and introduced herself as the Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Davie County. Virginia backed away and turned so abruptly she ALMOST, but saved by a trusty Veteran, fell off the stage."

She can dish it as long as she is well insulated and protected and cosseted by adoring supporters. But she turns into a stumbling coward at the mere approach of a demon Democrat, even a totally non-threatening woman.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Thank You, Senator Goss

"Senate votes to ban mountain wind turbines"

That's the headline posted today at the Winston-Salem Journal.

Senator Steve Goss was the lone vote in the N.C. Senate against this wrong-headed attempt to hobble alternative energy.

This very bad bill has yet to be calendared in the N.C. House and probably won't be considered until next year.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Wading the Buffalo Dust

I mean, you can't step over the shit.

Americans for Keeping Corporate Health-Care Profits manufactures coordinated mob action against Democratic members of Congress, inducing elderly Americans on Medicare to come out and protest "government-run health care," meaning, logically, that they want their own insurance coverage ended and will gladly put themselves at the mercy of the huge insurance corporations mounting the "astroturf" protests.

The racists of the Obama "birther" movement steal an Australian birth certificate and forge it to make the president appear to be born in Kenya before it was Kenya, supposedly in a Kenyan city that was actually part of Zanzibar at the time of his birth. Forgery ain't these guys' strong suit. The fact that we have a black president has deranged Lou Dobbs. And Chuck Norris (bless his heart).

Fox News, pausing to draw a breath in its promotion of astroturf protests against reforming health care, hyper-ventilates against "Cash for Clunkers," deciding that the overwhelming success of the program (in running out of the allotted money so fast) must mean the program was a huge failure. You can't just sneeze at "news judgment" that creative! Fox commentator Mara Liasson compared Cash for Clunkers to the failures during Hurricane Katrina. I'm not kidding.

John Bolton (whose puss is pictured above) gets indignant that former President Bill Clinton successfully springs Euna Lee and Laura Ling from a North Korean jail. There's moral relativism for you.

And our absolute favorite pile of bull feces today: Joe Lucas, vice president of communications for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a front group for (dirty) coal, told the Guardian that dynamiting the tops off of mountains is actually a good thing for Appalachia cause it gives the hillbillies some flat land to square dance on. Okay, he didn't say the last part of that sentence, but he did say that mountaintop removal was good because it provides flat land.

This is just a sampling of the people who were thrown out of power last November and who think if they scream loud enough, and insult our intelligence just a little bit more, the American people will welcome them back in 2010 to run everything further into the ground.

Forsyth Elections Chair Removed

We covered last fall some of the elections obstructionism occurring in Forsyth County, with the Democratic Chair of the local Board of Elections voting with the Republican member of that board to defy state rules for ballot access.

Well, that Forsyth board chair, Eric Elliott, has been removed from his position by the State Board of Elections for insubordination.

The Forsyth County Democratic Party could have replaced Elliott but didn't. Must be a lot of drama there.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Senate Guru profiles the four "most likely" Democrats to get into a Senate primary race next year to challenge Sen. Dick Burr.

Four? Add Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy, sez Senate Guru.

How Virginia Foxx Is Spending Her Summer Vacation

If you've got deep pockets, you can get into her general vicinity. Everyone else, not so much. Her appearances at astroturf events, like the one yesterday in Winston-Salem, don't count, since she did her three minute speech, took no questions, and retreated to the air-conditioned innards of that spiffy big bus supplied by Americans for Prosperity.

Instead of meeting with the public, here's what our highly paid, thoroughly insured, so-called "representative" in Washington will be doing:
Monday, August 17, 2009
Fundraising Lunch with Dana Perino (already noted below)

Saturday, August 22, 2009
5:30 p.m. ­-- 7:30 p.m.
Elk River Country Club
539 Banner Elk Highway
Banner Elk, North Carolina 28604
Fundraising Reception and Dinner
Featuring Special Guest Congressman John Mica (FL-07)
$1,000 Host
$500 Sponsor
$250 Co-Sponsor
$100 Attendee

Thursday, August 27, 2009
6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Fundraising Reception Featuring Special Guest Rich Galen,
Nationally Recognized Conservative Commentator and former Press
Secretary to Newt Gingrich and Dan Quayle
At the Home of
William and Tina Morgan
422 West End Avenue
Statesville, North Carolina 28677
$1,000 Host
$500 Sponsor
$250 Co-Sponsor
$100 Attendee

Friday, September 25, 2009
Fundraising Reception in Winston-Salem
Details not yet finalized

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Fundraising Luncheon featuring Rep. Eric Cantor
Details not yet finalized

This Grass Has Plastic Roots

This is the bus supplied by Americans for Prosperity for the rally against health care yesterday in Winston-Salem. (Hat-tip: this and other pics gratefully found here.)

Grassroots, right? Yeah. Uncle Ted and Aunt Esther and some of their friends found themselves an old touring bus, and with some gallons of flat paint and a few camel-hair brushes, they painted that sucker to exercise their American right to disagree.

Well, no. This is "astroturf," so-called because it's fake grass(roots).

Americans for Prosperity started the tea-bagging movement. It's funded by corporations and other rich guys who've figgered out how to con the modestly salaried into screaming about taxes. Other than the outside agitators they bussed into Winston yesterday, they attracted local Republican activists, Paularoid remnants, birthers, the "Obama is the devil" crowd, and racists (but I repeat myself).

Madam Doctor Virginia Foxx was there and didn't say a word about the government putting old people to death. Instead, she harped on abortion, claiming that proposed health-reform was really a sneaky way to force teenaged girls to abort their babies.

Many in the crowd were clearly over 65 and therefore already on Medicare, that terrible, socialistic, government-run insurance program that they claim they're dead-set against. They are either willfully ignorant, or duped, or simply hateful, but all of them are serving the interests of big corporations who've labored all these years to take over our government and who have no intention of relinquishing their grip now.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Two Intercepted E-Mails

Subject: Democratic Protests Against Virginia Foxx's Rhetoric on Healthcare Reform

Hello Fellow Democrats,

As many of you know, the US Congress is in recess during the month of August. So this gives our Senators and Representatives an opportunity to meet with their constituents and have a healthy civil debate about the Health Care Reform Issues and other Issues important to their constituency. As you may recall, this is what our President, Barack Obama, has called for. Virginia Foxx, Congresswoman, who represents the people of the 5th District, rolled into Winston-Salem and to the Golden Corral this morning with a bus loaded with outsiders, people from "Who knows where," to rally against the Healthcare Reform measures being presented by our Democratic Party. These Healthcare Ideas will benefit everyone by providing for a Public Option to give some competition to the Insurance Companies and other Healthcare agencies. Competition will make the cost of insurance come down, thereby helping reduce Healthcare Costs, which people from both parties know is needed. But Virginia Foxx, instead of holding roundtable discussions, including people from both parties, to discuss the issues, chooses to let the insurance companies, who have given her so much money, finance huge busses to bring along her supporters, anti Healthcare Reform People. Foxx doesn't even bother to inform all of her constituents, especially those of us who are pushing President Obama's Healthcare Reform Measures, when she will be in town. She only "speaks to the choir," such as this morning over at the Golden Corral in Winston-Salem.

As reported in the Davie Enterprise, last week, Foxx will be speaking at the Masonic Picnic, behind the Brock Center for Performing Arts, at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 6. I'm telling you this so you can be prepared for a large number of her followers to pounce upon our little town. We need a huge group of supporters, for our cause is very great! I have applied for a permit, which will allow us to assemble, have signs and voice our disappointment with the rhetoric that Foxx has been using to scare seniors and claiming that every American has access to healthcare. Having and access are not the same!!! I should be receiving a call this p.m. or early a.m. to pick up the permit. (Just got the permit, that's a relief!) The picnic is on private property, but as in the past, the public is invited to attend. The parking lot behind the Brock Center, where we will be organizing for our protest, is town property; hence, the need for a permit. We can go onto the picnic grounds, but if we are asked to leave, we will do so in a very civil manner.

Please forward this message to all your Democratic friends in and out of town. I don't know if there's ever been a protest in Mocksville or not, but if ever one were needed, it is NOW! So bring your signs, supporting Health Care Reform, to the parking lot around 10:00 a.m. Please forward this message to all your Democratic Friends so we can have a large group of supporters. Make those signs. Few large words to make our point, such as "SUPPORT OBAMA'S PLAN" or "HEALTHCARE REFORM NOW."

Thanks for all your help and support!

From: Virginia Foxx
Date: Mon, Aug 3, 2009 at 9:39 AM
Subject: Lunch with Dana Perino

You are Cordially Invited
To Attend a Luncheon Honoring
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx
Fifth District of North Carolina
Rules Committee

Featuring Special Guest
Dana Perino
Former Press Secretary to President George W. Bush

Monday, August 17, 2009
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

The Cardinal Club
150 Fayetteville Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

(Business Attire)

$1,000 Host
$500 Sponsor
$250 Co-Sponsor
$100 Attendee

Republican Hypocrites and One Brilliant Smart Ass

These Republican members of Congress voted on Friday in the House Energy & Commerce Committee against eliminating the most socialistic government plan known to man ... Medicare:
Joe Barton, Tex., ranking member
Ralph Hall, Tex.
Fred Upton, Mich.
Cliff Stearns, Fl.
Nathan Deal, Ga.
Ed Whitfield, Ky.
John Shimkus, Ill.
John Shadegg, Ariz.
Roy Blunt, Mo.
Steve Buyer, Ind.
George Radanovich, Calif.
Joseph Pitts, Pa.
Mary Bono Mack, Calif.
Greg Walden, Ore.
Lee Terry, Neb.
Mike Rogers, Mich.
Sue Myrick, N.C.
John Sullivan, Okla.
Tim Murphy, Pa.
Michael Burgess, Tex.
Marsha Blackburn, Tenn.
Phil Gingrey, Ga.
Steve Scalise, La.

The Republican hypocrisy on this issue is (duh) so blindingly obvious. They scream against "government-run health-care," but when given the opportunity (by Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.) to once and for all vote to end socialized medicine in America, they all voted to keep it. (Medicare is not only "government-run" ... it's SINGLE-freakin'-PAYER!)

You can see Mr. Weiner introducing his amendment and daring the Republicans to vote for it -- "I double-dare you!" -- on YouTube. He admitted up front that his amendment was not anything he personally was in favor of, but it should be something every conservative Republican should jump on.

An eye-witness wrote up what followed in the committee (via Scrutiny Hooligans):
...Wiener observed that a lot of Republicans had been warning direly about the dangers of socialized medicine and government interference in the health-care market, and so offered "the amendment they've been waiting for" to give them the opportunity to vote to end the scourge of single-payer health care in America. As a counterpart to the now-famous Republican flow chart of Obamacare, Wiener had a nice simple chart demonstrating how Medicare works (with just 3 boxes: patients, providers, government). There was also a poignant moment when everyone paused to honor John Dingell, who actually voted for Medicare 44 years ago (and is now on crutches and looking rather feeble).

The Ranking Republican, Joe Barton of Texas, made some nonsensical and indecipherable distinction about "government-mandated" health care versus "government-run" health care, and said that Republicans support the Medicare because it is in the former category (if that's true, they sure ought to be supporting the current House health care bill). Wiener asked if the Republicans would support a public plan if it looked like Medicare, and Barton dodged the question. Later Barton hit on the semi-coherent response that Medicare only pays 80% of the cost of treatment, so the private insurance market has to pick up the slack to ensure that doctors and hospitals stay solvent. My understanding is that that's completely false, but at least it sounds coherent.

The debate on Wiener's amendment got pretty heated, with Rep. Steve Buyer calling Wiener an "intellectual smart-ass" and Wiener calling all the Republicans hypocrites (with good reason, though). Initially, Chairman Waxman was not amused by the amendment, since he was trying to keep the markup moving quickly in order to finish on Friday. By the end of the debate, though, Waxman was clearly enjoying it. In the end, despite Wiener's "double-dare," all the Republicans voted no (how often do you see a unanimous "no" vote?), thus proving on the 44th anniversary of the signing of the Medicare Act that nobody's going to mess with Medicare anytime soon.

The company line among Republican rank-and-file (who don't know any better but who grasp at any straw to oppose President Obama) is that Medicare was present in Eden, granted by God in his first creation, and has nothing to do with government and certainly isn't "socialism." Which is how they can stand in their tea-bag protests holding signs saying "FIGHT SOCIALISM," while either they themselves or their parents are direct beneficiaries of Medicare ... and would skin several cats to keep it.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Madam Foxx "Should Be Ashamed"

Our 5th Dist. Rep., editorialized about, in the Winston-Salem Journal yesterday.

John F. Kennedy and the New Anti-Christ

I was 16-going-on-17 during John F. Kennedy's run for the White House in 1960, a member of a Pentecostal church which militantly viewed "the world" as enemy to the good, while all my high school friends were Southern Baptists. The father of one of those friends passed a printed pamphlet to my father, who gave it to me: "The Catholic Menace." I began to read about the dangers our beloved country was in should the Catholic Kennedy lie his way into the presidency. The hairs were standing up on the back of my neck by the time I finished. I was haunted by images of what Catholics did to Protestants (back when they did things to Protestants, whenever that was, as deliciously detailed in Fox’s Book of Martyrs). I knew that I had to do something to keep the Pope from taking over our government.

What I could do as a teenager was talk, a little wild-eyed, to my classmates, who couldn't vote, and to my extended family, many of whom never bothered to vote. That year, despite all the crazy talk by adults who could and did vote for Richard M. Nixon, Texas went for Kennedy and in January 1961 cast its 24 electoral votes for JFK.

That was the same year, 1961, that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu. Obama is now the target of the 21st century equivalent of nasty little printed pamphlets, that is, The Forwarded E-Mail, the most virulent recent one claiming that the president is actually the antichrist. Some of the more determined promoters of these vicious fictions are going on YouTube, like this guy, who, when he gets tired of misrepresenting Christianity as a paranoid's last resort, could have a great career as a twister of balloons into party animals.

The Republican Party is not only hanging out with these people. These people are the base of the Republican Party, they define it. In the absence of any visible party leadership, they're calling the shots, and it's the rare Republican politician willing to stand up and say "You people are plu-perfect cra-zee and have nothing to do with me."

I raise this connection between the paranoia of the super-religious in the 1960s and the paranoia of the super-religious in 2009 as a melancholy memory, since some lunatic managed to kill Kennedy. Some lunatic, fueled by the evil reverends in our midst today, will puff themselves up with the egotism of their own righteousness and attempt to kill Barack Obama. They're certainly capable of murder, and worse. They shot a doctor in the head in his own church in Omaha.

Beware of the righteous on a mission from God. No group should fear them more than the contemporary Republican Party, whose hands will not easily come clean of that blood.