Birthers Suffer a Blow

This week’s seemingly been bonza for Birthers. Cons in Congress have been so afraid to defy them that they’ve been taking all sorts of evasive maneuvers rather than a stand:

Blogger-activist Mike Stark has been staking out Capitol Hill recently, trying to get Republican congressmen on the record about whether or not they believe President Obama was born in the United States. Only a couple of GOP congressmen were willing to state without reservation that Obama is the legal and constitutional President of the United States. Many others said they “think there are questions” and would “like to see the documents.” Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) began running away from Stark — literally — to avoid answering the question. Another congressman avoided Stark by hiding in a book store and pretending to look at pens.

The fact they’re so scared of pissing off the lunatics in their base shows just how far against the wall they’ve backed themselves, doesn’t it just?

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

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

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

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

That’s not “middle ground.” That’s just ridiculous.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet vindication for the Birthers! Until their knight in shining armor shoves both middle fingers up their noses:

Update: Inhofe’s spokesman confirms it: He does not question Obama’s legitimacy as president.

Thus came the first inklings of trouble, soon followed by a catastrophe:

This evening, the House passed a resolution sponsored by Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) that commemorates Hawaii’s 50th anniversary as a U.S. state by a vote of 378-0. The resolution also contains this provision: “Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii,” a measure that some GOP members may have had trouble supporting. However, many of the Republican representatives who at expressed at least subtle doubt that Obama was not born in the U.S. voted for the resolution. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who had earlier in the day prevented the resolution from coming to a voice vote on the House floor, and Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), who sponsored a bill requiring presidential candidates to prove natural-born citizenship, both voted for the resolution. Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), a co-sponsor of Posey’s bill who expressed doubt about Obama’s citizenship last week on MSNBC, did not vote. [emphasis emphatically added]

Oh, noes! It would seem all their attempts to suck Cons in Congress into their madness failed! Even that nutcase Bachmann voted to confirm Obama was born in Hawaii, and there’s very few nuts nuttier than her. Washington betrayed the Birthers!

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

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Another day, another Con lie exposed:

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

33.7 million Canadians are not Shona Holmes:

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

Continue reading…..

From The Ottawa Citizen:

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

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

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

Last Friday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) joined radical conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his radio talk show for an interview. Jones has made a name for himself propagating conspiracies ranging from the claim that Bill Clinton planned the Oklahoma City bombings to the idea that the attacks on 9/11 were orchestrated by a cabal of American and Israeli government officials.

During the 30-minute interview about “nation ending stuff,” Gohmert used his opportunity on the Jones show to showcase his own odd anti-Obama conspiracy theories:

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

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

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

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

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

This became the launching pad:

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

Johnson: Too sick, too expensive.

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

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

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

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

Another day, another group of whackjob conservative media personalities screaming about something that doesn’t exist:

On Saturday, the conservative editors of the Wall Street Journal editorial page used their weekly Fox News show to attack every aspect of the health care reform that President Obama is trying to work through Congress. To criticize t
he idea of public insurance plan, assistant editorial page editor James Freeman claimed that health reform in Massachusetts shows what would happen with a public option:


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

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

[snip]

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

[snip]

There’s one problem with Freeman’s analysis: Massachusetts doesn’t have a public plan. As former MA governor Mitt Romney, who implemented the plan, told CNSNews last month, “Our plan did not include a government insurance plan.” “Instead, we relied entirely on private market-based insurance plans to help people get insurance,” said Romney.

Bet you a dollar to a donut hole being so completely fucking wrong doesn’t even cause them to blink as they run with this little meme. Facts never seem to faze these fuckers.

In light of all that scaremongering, bullshit-spewing, and downright chicanery, this remark by NRCC spokesman Ken Spain is all the funnier:

“Democrats control the White House, the House, and have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Their lack of progress is due to the growing public skepticism over their government-run plan and public infighting that is taking place within Democratic ranks. There is nothing for the GOP to obstruct.”

Riiight. Pull the other one, it’s got bells on. Look, you wouldn’t be trying so fucking hard to obstruct health care reform if, as you say, there’s nothing for you to obstruct.

Anyway, tell it to Max Baucus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Um, gee, I dunno – maybe it has something to do with all the fucking pollution:

Not only does oil and gas drilling release greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, but they also release other dangerous pollutants that endanger American health. As the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote in a 2008 report:

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

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

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

We shall end with some wonderful news. Rush Limbaugh has finally discovered that torture is wrong! Alas, this does not mean he has tapped a sudden wellspring of sanity:

During the Bush/Cheney era, we had an administration that routinely ignored the rule of law, embraced authoritarian tendencies, and approved heinous acts of torture. Rush Limbaugh, without a hint of irony, today warned his listeners that the Obama administration will do the very things Bush already did.

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

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

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

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

Maybe his insurance doesn’t have mental health benefits…

Health Care in America: “They Were Being Treated In Animal Stalls”

I applaud Stan Brock and Remote Area Medical for bringing health care to those who can’t afford it. I’m appalled a program originally intended for isolated populations in third-world areas is necessary in America:

President Obama, I hope you’ll go see this for yourself – and drag the inhumane Blue Dogs along with you:

AMY GOODMAN: As debate continues in Washington over healthcare reform, thousands of Americans in neighboring Virginia are preparing to line up this weekend to receive free healthcare provided by a group called Remote Area Medical.

The charity was originally set up to provide doctors and medicine to isolated communities in the developing world, places like the Amazon jungle, where medical treatment is hard to come by. But the group quickly found itself having to set up in communities across the United States, where medical care is a right millions of Americans cannot afford.

Founded in 1985, Remote Area Medical is a non-profit, volunteer relief corps that provides healthcare free, dental care, eye care, veterinary services, and technical and educational assistance. It’s based in Knoxville, Tennessee, but the group frequently travels to set up relief centers, what’s called “expeditions,” across the country. This weekend they’ll be once again back in Wise County, Virginia.

Stan Brock is the founder of Remote Area Medical, joining us on the phone from Knoxville, Tennessee.

Stan, welcome to Democracy Now! Now, you are the Stan Brock of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, that show that was on Sunday nights for I don’t know how many years?

STAN BROCK: Yes, Sunday evenings, 7:00 p.m., as I recall, on NBC.

AMY GOODMAN: And what brought you from that, and what were you doing there, to founding Remote Area Medical?

STAN BROCK: Well, Remote Area Medical history goes back to many years when I lived in the Upper Amazon, and this is before Wild Kingdom. And I was living with a tribe of Native Americans called the Wapishana Indians, and we were—well, it was a very remote area on the northern border of Brazil in what used to be British Guiana. I had a nasty accident there with a wild horse. And while I was being pulled out from underneath the horse, one of the Wapishana said, “Well, the nearest doctor is twenty-six days on foot from here.”

It was about that time that I got the idea of bringing those doctors just a little bit closer. And that’s what we did many, many years later when I formed Remote Area Medical, but subsequently found that there were a lot of people like those Wapishanas here in the United States that didn’t have access to healthcare. And so, 64 percent of everything we do is now right here in America.

But, of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with our current system, right, Cons? You don’t see any problem with the fact that Americans are as cut off from proper health care as people living deep in the Amazonian jungle. You don’t feel one iota of shame that people have to be packed into animal stalls on a fair ground to get the medical attention they need:

WENDELL POTTER: I was very isolated, along with most insurance company executives who deal with numbers all the time—profit margins and medical loss ratios and earnings per share and how many millions of members you have, or things like that. It’s just—they’re just numbers. And I didn’t really associate that with real people as much as I should and as much as most insurance company executives should, until I went to visit my relatives in Tennessee.

And while I was there, I happened to learn about a healthcare expedition that was being held at a nearby town across the state line in Virginia. And I was intrigued, borrowed my dad’s car and drove up to Wise County to see what was going on there. And this expedition was being held at the Wise County fairgrounds, and it was being put on by this group called Remote Area Medical that got its start several years ago taking volunteer doctors from this country to remote villages in South America, where people really don’t have any access to medical care. The founder realized pretty soon, though, that the need in this country is very, very great, and he started holding similar expeditions in rural communities throughout the country. And this one was nearby. I decided to check it out.

I didn’t have any idea what to expect, but when I walked through the fairground gates, it was just absolutely overwhelming. What I saw were people who were lined up. It was raining that day. They were lined up in the rain by the hundreds, waiting to get care that was being donated by doctors and nurses and dentists and other caregivers, and they were being treated in animal stalls. Volunteers had come to disinfect the animal stalls. They also had set up tents. It looked like a MASH unit. It looked like this could have been something that was happening in a war-torn country, and war refugees were there to get their care. It was just unbelievable, and it just drove it home to me, maybe for the first time, that we were talking about real human beings and not just numbers.

Virginia’s not far from DC. Maybe Congress should take a field trip. I’d dearly love to see Cons defending the status quo on camera in front of those stalls. Maybe they can talk to us about rationing and the horrors of socialized medicine while they point out that everybody in America has access to health care – as long as they have a bus ticket and don’t mind waiting in line in the rain so doctors can treat them in livestock stalls. While they’re standing in the midst of something that looks like a war zone, they can boast about America having the best health care system in the world.

Somehow, though, I don’t think they’ll show up for that photo op. I can’t imagine why not.

Cows of Satan

Because your religious liberty ends where my right to a disease-free experience in the butcher’s aisle begins:

A federal court has ruled in favor of the state of Michigan and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a case alleging that rules requiring farmers to tag their livestock for identification in order to help identify and prevent the spread of disease violated the religious liberty of farmers who think such tags constitute the “mark of the beast.”

I’m still trying to figure out just how warped your interpretation of the Bible has to be in order to equate livestock tags to the mark of the beast. And I’m also curious as to how people that obviously fucked in the head can manage to run a farm. How do they manage to put on pants in the morning, for that matter?

But that’s not the scariest thing. What frightens the fuck out of me is the fact that, if the Feds hadn’t made this program voluntary (states get to decide whether or not they want to make the use of such a simple and obvious disease-fighting step mandatory), these frothing fundies might have actually prevailed on such idiotic grounds:

On the causes of action against the MDA [Michigan Department of Agriculture], which is the agency that made the tagging mandatory on all farmers in the state and specified the use of RFID tags in order to help eradicate the incidence of bovine tuberculosis, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the state because neither law identified by the plaintiffs as grounds for the allegations applies to the states.

The plaintiffs alleged a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a law that requires that exemptions be granted from laws that impose an “undue burden” on the religious liberty of an individual or group unless the state can show a compelling interest in imposing the law in each individual circumstance and of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). [emphasis incredulously added]

But the federal courts have ruled that neither RFRA nor NEPA are legally applicable to state actions, so once the USDA was dismissed from the case those laws could not be used to overturn state actions that were not explicitly required by federal law.

Really not liking the implication that some religious freak with a reading comprehension problem might be able to defeat efforts to protect the public health. But at least the district court made the right call in this case.

I shall have to make it to Michigan to enjoy a satanic cow dinner one of these days. You should come, too. In the meantime, enjoy some more Bruce Dickinson:

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Another day, another Con can’t practice what he preaches:

If I told you that Paul Stanley was caught having an affair with a winsome young blond girl, you probably wouldn’t be shocked. Of course, you’d probably be thinking I was talking about the lead singer of KISS. If I told you that Paul Stanley was a God-fearing and gay-hating family values Republican state senator from Tennessee, you’d probably be even less shocked. Par for the course these days, isn’t it?

The young girl, McKensie Morrison, was a legislative intern in Stanley’s office when the married senator with two children started doing the mattress mambo with her. She’s now 22 years old and was, obviously, even younger when this all began. Stanley went to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to report he was being blackmailed by Morrison’s boyfriend — then admitted to them that he was having an affair with her.

The only shocking thing about this sexcapade is that Stanley’s resigning as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. I guess it’s one thing to “hike the Appalachian Trail,” but getting blackmailed by the loser boyfriend afterward is a bridge too far. Mind you, though, he’s not shamed enough to resign altogether, even though he should be:

Nashville Post:

In April of this year, I and a group of Planned Parenthood supporters from Memphis met with Sen. Paul Stanley in his office. We told him about all the good Planned Parenthood does in Memphis by providing basic gynecological health care and birth control to teens and young people and also providing medically-accurate sexuality education programs. I had hoped to convince him that there’s a real need for our services, especially in Memphis, which has the highest sexually transmitted infection rates in the nation and one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates as well. Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region tries to help young people and low income people, almost all of whom are already sexually active protect themselves from pregnancy and disease. Sen. Paul Stanley is my state senator, and he made it clear at our meeting that he didn’t care about my concerns about these issues that have a major impact in the Memphis area and that he would not ever support Planned Parenthood.

He told us that he didn’t believe young people should have sex before marriage anyway, that his faith and church are important to him, and he wants to promote abstinence, blah, blah, blah. Now I realize that when he said those things, he had already been sexing it up with an intern and her boyfriend was trying to blackmail him with dirty pictures.

How fucking his young intern squares with “young people shouldn’t have sex before marriage” escapes me. I do hope Mr. Stanley will attempt an explanation at some point. It would be hilarious.

Sarah Palin quit her job today, thus freeing up her time for – well, nobody knows quite what. She left a final fuck-you behind her:

Palin’s departure — she’s officially handing over power to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell at a community picnic in Fairbanks — has left many Alaskans largely confused. And state legislators are scrambling to convene a special session to recover $28.6 million in federal energy funds that Palin rejected as one of her parting salutes to independence from Washington.

This is the woman Newt Gingrich is trying to sell as the Cons’ leader on energy issues. I think that says everything there is to say about the Cons’ deplorable dumbfuckery right there.

For some reason, though, Dems are still under the illusion that Cons can be productive partners in the legislative process:

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and the author of the meaningless “co opt” plan appeared on ABC’s THIS WEEK and said that even with a 60 vote majority in the Senate a health care bill can’t get passed without Republicans.

It’s just not possible to have a Democrat-only bill?” I asked Sen. Conrad.

“No, it is not possible,” he told me, “and perhaps not desirable either. We’re probably going to get a better product if we go through the tough business of debate, consideration, and analysis of what we’re proposing.”

Well, it had damned fucking well better be possible, because you, Mr. Conrad, you yourself admitted that Sen. Jim DeMint’s only intent is to murder this reform bill in its sleep:

Conrad added, “Jim, I think has been very clear, he wants to kill it. And I think that would be a tragedy because we’ve got a crisis here for the country.”

Tell me just how you expect Cons to vote for this legislation when all they want to do is kill it dead? Hmm? The American public gave you dumbshits sixty fucking Senate seats for a reason.

So shut the fuck up about bipartisanship already and get the fucking reform done. As for shutting the fuck up about bipartisanship, that goes double for the media:

I found myself yelling at my monitor this morning, reading Adam Nagourney’s NYT piece about the “possibility of bipartisanship” on health care reform. It’s not Nagourney’s fault, necessarily, but the piece touches all of the bases on the problems with the underlying assumptions.

…Mr. Obama is under growing pressure to choose between wooing a small band of Republicans or struggling to rally his party to use its big majorities in Congress to get the job done. The bipartisanship exhibited in the passage of two other ambitious domestic programs that offer one historical backdrop for this debate — Social Security in 1935 and Medicare and Medicaid 30 years later — seems increasingly im
probable in today’s Washington. […]

Even if he goes the bipartisan route and succeeds, the end result could be comparatively modest: Perhaps fewer than 10 Senate Republicans, and perhaps not even that many in the House, party officials said. Social Security, by contrast, passed in 1935 with the support of 16 of the 25 Republican senators and 81 of the 102 Republican representatives. […]

No less important, a partisan vote could also undercut the political legitimacy of the effort itself. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were all passed with significant support from both parties, which is one of the reasons those programs have become such an accepted part of the country’s political landscape.

That’s true. But when there was bipartisan support for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, we were dealing with a Congress that had Republicans who a) took electoral mandates seriously; b) were chastened by electoral defeats; and c) had plenty of moderates and pragmatists in their caucuses. That’s no longer the case.

As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, it’s not Obama’s fault Republicans have become too conservative, failed at governing, and were punished by voters.

The question of “legitimacy” then becomes tantamount to a heckler’s veto — a small, reflexive minority can cast doubt on the credibility of everything, simply by being stubborn partisans.

Let me put this in terms even an imbecile should understand: the voters got fed up with Cons after eight years of total insanity. Given the choice between a moderate Con and a Dem, they chose the Dem. The only areas left where Cons had enough support were deep red pockets where the rabid right base outnumbered more sensible moderates, independents, and Dems. Therefore, we have a Senate comprised largely of left-of-center to centrist (or conservative) Dems versus a tiny minority comprised of raving fucking lunatics.

Have you ever tried to compromise with a lunatic? No? Head down to your local inpatient psychiatric facility and see for yourself how easy it is. Now imagine trying to negotiate with the insane people when they’re not medicated. Now you have a good idea as to why we shouldn’t expect bipartisanship to happen any time soon.

And it really doesn’t seem like Americans are expecting bipartisanship to work, either:

It seems like everytime I get on the Internets or turn on the teevee, someone’s telling me how badly Obama and the Democrats are doing with health care reform and how the concerns of “moderate” Republicans should be heeded, because Americans Want A Bi-Partisan Solution.

While it’s true that Obama’s numbers have dipped under the weight of the seemingly-endless sausage-making on the Hill, the “concerns” of bought-and-paid-for Blue Dogs like Mike Ross and Big Health propaganda — no one really cares what Jim DeMint or John Boehner has to say about health care. Republicans are having absolutely zero impact on the debate.

Consider: last week’s ABC News poll shows Obama with a staggering 20-point lead on the GOP.

picture-15.png

34% is Bush approval territory. And when the question is phrased differently, the irrelevance of the GOP is even more striking.

picture-16.png

10%! And before you assume the phrasing of that question favors Obama, here’s another:

picture-14.png

10% again. So less than half of the GOP’s own shrinking base trusts Republicans to fix health care.

Do you think the huge majority of people who don’t trust the Cons one iota on health care reform give two tugs on a dead dog’s dick about bipartisanship? I do not believe they do. So, dear Dems, stop chasing the bipartisanship mirage and get this shit done without Cons.

It’s what we gave you a mandate for.

Sunday Sensational Science

The Power of Pee

Yes, we were supposed to do Arizona botany, but there’s a Carnival on. We’ll save the lengthy discussion about flora for next Sunday, and instead, you can head over to Cujo’s place for a brief chat about urine:

The net effect of research efforts like these could be that someday, we will use what is now a waste product that must be disposed of as a source of vitally important commodities.

You’ll never see pee the same way again.

Cheers!

Hunter’s Health Care Letter – Plus the Long-Awaited Con 10-Point Plan!

Hunter at Daily Kos writes a heart-felt letter to President Obama, begging him not to “fix” a perfectly good system:

Dear Mr. President: I am writing you today because I am outraged at the notion of involving government in healthcare decisions like they do in other countries. I believe healthcare decisions should be between myself and my doctor.

Well, that is not strictly true. I believe healthcare decisions should be between myself, my doctor, and my insurance company, which provides me a list of which doctors I can see, which specialists I can see, and has a strict policy outlining when I can and can’t see those specialists, for what symptoms, and what tests my doctors can or cannot perform for a given set of symptoms. That seems fair, because the insurance company needs to make a profit; they’re not in the business of just keeping people alive for free.

Oh, and also my employer. My employer decides what health insurance company and plans will be available to me in the first place. If I quit that job and find another, my heath insurance will be different, and I may or may not be able to see the same doctor as I had been seeing before, or receive the same treatments, or obtain the same medicines. So I believe my healthcare decisions should be between myself, the company I work for, my insurance company, and my doctor. Assuming I’m employed, which is a tough go in the current economy.

Read on as Hunter discovers yet more layers between patient and doctor that the government just shouldn’t mess with.

Meanwhile, Crooks and Liars’ Jon Perr has finally obtained the Cons’ health reform plan:

In a nutshell, the GOP is proposing to extend the status quo for a nation gripped by a collapsing health care system.

Here, then, is the Republican 10-Point Plan for Health Care:

  1. 50 Million Uninsured in America
  2. Another 25 Million Underinsured
  3. Employer-Based Coverage Plummets Below 60%
  4. Employer Health Costs to Jump by 9% in 2010
  5. One in Five Americans Forced to Postpone Care
  6. 62% of U.S. Bankruptcies Involve Medical Bills
  7. Current Health Care Costs Already Fueling Job Losses
  8. 94% of Health Insurance Markets in U.S Now “Highly Concentrated”
  9. Dramatic Decline in Emergency Room Capacity
  10. Perpetuating Red State Health Care Failure

For the details and data behind each, continue reading.

With a system like ours, who needs reform, right? Aside from, y’know, the uninsured, the under-insured, and small businesses crushed by skyrocketing benefit costs. Oh, and those families that will get hit with a $25,000 annual insurance bill if things don’t change:

Another new study, conducted by the progressive Center for American Progress looks at the potential costs for American families if the system isn’t reformed.

Health care costs are expected to grow 71 percent over the next decade, which will in turn drive premium increases for health insurance. Unless we take serious steps now to reform our health care system—in particular to reduce the rate of growth in health care costs—health insurance coverage will slip out of reach for even more individuals than the 52 million Americans who today are uninsured.

This analysis shows that without health reform, average family premiums will grow to more than $22,000 by 2019, up from $13,100 today. In some states with higher-than-average premiums, family premiums will exceed $25,000 in 10 years. Of course, a family’s total health care costs will be even higher once co-payments and other out-of-pocket expenses are calculated into the total.

But, y’know, aside from all that, we have a perfect system. All of the people rich enough to afford good health care assure us it’s the best in the world.

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

I’m finding it difficult to focus tonight. It could be because it’s gawdawful hot, or it could be because I’m still picking shards of my Irony Meter out of the furniture:

On Fox News last night, Rush Limbaugh noted Aug. 1 marks his 21st anniversary of being on air. When host Greta Van Susteren asked him what his “secret” is to his “amazing” “longevity,” Limbaugh replied that it’s his “positive” and “inspiring” messages:

[snip]

They want — people want to be inspired! People want to be motivated. They want their positive thoughts validated. They don’t want to hear every day how everything’s going to hell in a handbasket and there’s a shortage of handbaskets. They don’t want to hear this. That’s what gets ratings on television. I have shown you get ratings on radio being positive, respecting the audience, being inspiring and motivational at times, when it’s necessary.

Lack of self-awareness much, Rush?

Moving on to people who display the overall awareness of an amoeba, here’s the latest Palinesque ignorance from Sen. Cornyn:

Senators have had to get pretty creative lately to defend spending more money on a fighter jet that doesn’t work and that the Pentagon doesn’t want. Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) argument, however, might be my favorite.

“[The F-22 is] important to our national security because we’re not just fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Cornyn says. “We’re fighting — we have graver threats and greater threats than that: From a rising India, with increased exercise of their military power; Russia; Iran, that’s threatening to build a nuclear weapon; with North Korea, shooting intercontinental ballistic missiles, capable of hitting American soil.” [emphasis added]

Wait, Cornyn thinks we should spend tax dollars on a fighter jet the Pentagon and the Air Force don’t want because we should be worried about a “rising India”? Perhaps someone can take Cornyn aside and explain that that India is a close U.S. ally. If we need unnecessary fighter jets to prepare ourselves for a military conflict with India, the United States is in a much more precarious position that I realized.

Cornyn added that the F-22 is “one of our most innovative, strategic fighter planes.” If by “innovative” and “strategic” Cornyn means, “planes that don’t function properly,” he’s absolutely right.

The only thing that could make me laugh harder than that double-whammy of dumbfuckery is finding out that the tech support for the F-22’s on board computer systems is provided by India. If so, we owe an enormous apology to our ally for expecting them to troubleshoot shit that never worked to begin with.

While we’re on the subject of shit that never worked, check out Sen. Grassley, who apparently doesn’t understand what “reasonable alternatives” means:

On Bloomberg’s Political Capital this weekend, host Al Hunt asked Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) what he thought of the “tone and substance” of President Obama’s press conference this week. Like he has said before, Grassley underscored his opposition to a public health insurance option.

In a call with progressive bloggers a day before the press conference, Obama said he continues to “believe that a robust public option would be the best way to go.” In the press conference itself, Obama said a public option is necessary “to keep the insurance companies honest” and his view that by taking “some of the profit motive out,” you can get a “better deal” for consumers.

But in his interview with Hunt, Grassley claimed that Obama has told him privately that he is willing to consider “reasonable alternatives” to a robust public option:

GRASSLEY: One of the most controversial things we are facing — and one that the House does and Senator Kennedy’s committee does — is bring a government health insurance program into existence. He still spoke highly about that. And that’s not going to get bipartisan support.

And it would have been good if he had said to the entire country what he said to me privately — that he would look to alternatives for that. And we have a very good alternative by going with cooperatives because we’ve known them for 150 years in America. And allowing them to sell health insurance for more competition.

HUNT: Do you think the President could support that?

GRASSLEY: All I can tell you is — but he didn’t say this that night and he should have said it — that he’s looking for reasonable alternatives. And I think we have a reasonable bipartisan alternative in co-ops.

[snip]

Carl McDonald and James Naklicki at Oppenheimer’s Equity Research department write, “As the co-ops are currently described, we think they would be a big positive for the managed care group, but it seems to us that they would be destined to fail from the moment of creation.” Co-ops would also take decades to set up, according to experts.

Let’s see… throw over a public option that would be ready to go nearly instantly and would provide effective, robust competition that would force the insurance industry to provide better plans at a better cost for co-ops that wouldn’t be ready to go for decades and would probably fail anyway. Sound like a “reasonable alternative” to you? Me, neither.

Then again, it’s not like these assclowns are really reasonable:

Yesterday, The Conservative Women’s Network hosted Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) for a discussion on critical legislation before Congress. ThinkProgress attended the event and recorded Bachmann’s remarks.

Bachmann fed the crowd a predictable diet of fear-mongering
right-wing rhetoric to warn of dire consequences if President Obama’s health care reform passes. “What the Obama administration will do with health care is make us like Havana in 1959 when Castro came in,” she told the young women in the audience.

She then argued that passing health reform will mean that, for the first time in our nation’s history, “we will have taxpayer-subsidized abortion.” The question becomes, continued Bachmann, “will this mandate now that we’ll have to build more abortion mills?”

No, but I sure as shit wish it mandated that you’d have to get intensive mental health intervention, Michele. Anyone who seems to think of abortion as a production line waiting to happen, as if the country’s full of women who are just waiting for abortions to become free so they can indulge their fantasies of getting repeatedly pregnant in order to experience the joys of abortion, needs more than therapy. The only problem is that we may not have an anti-psychotic medication powerful enough to help this poor lunatic.

On top of her psychotic features, she and fellow Rep. Judy Biggert suffer from an extreme case of narcissitic personality disorder:

This is the GOP strategy? They’re going to try to appeal to stressed-out soccer moms to stop healthcare reform? I’m stunned at the sheer brilliance – not to mention that smug attitude that some people’s children are more important that others:

Why offer more people health insurance, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) asked at a press conference Friday, if they might lengthen waits for doctors and otherwise increase the “hassle factor” for her?

“That’s like having a mother bear protecting her little cubs, and she’s seeing that she has to move heaven and earth to get her child what her child needs,” Bachmann said, referring to the health care reforms being debated by Congress. “We’ll do it if we have to, but why put ourselves in that situation?”

Near the end of a tumultuous week of delays for health care bills in both houses of Congress, Bachmann and a handful of other House Republican women said at a press conference that as far as they were concerned, any reform would just make things tougher for them.

“I think most all of us here have had the opportunity to take our kids to a fast-food restaurant,” said Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.). “We want to get a good dinner, and you walk in and there’s 50 people there and it seems like everybody in line wants to buy food for their soccer team or whatever. The American people aren’t particularly good at standing in line, but that’s exactly what’s going to happen if this health care plan goes through.”

There it is, the women of the GOP explaining exactly why they’re against health care reform: they want other mothers’ kids denied health care to avoid the risk of a line at the doctor’s office. Compassionate conservatism at your service, America.

Some of you may wonder what the Cons in Congress do when they’re not spouting utter insanity on health care reform. They aren’t idle! No, they pick up the latest non-scandal and run with it just as fast as their little legs can carry them:

President Obama’s remarks yesterday in the White House briefing room about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates have received nearly universal applause, with one notable exception: Republicans, who are still up their same old tricks.

[snip]

…Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) decided to make political hay out of the controversy and waste the time of Congress by appealing to racial disharmony:

Congress would demand that President Obama apologize to the officer the president said had “acted stupidly” in the arrest of a prominent Harvard professor under a resolution set to be introduced by one Michigan lawmaker.

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) will introduce a House resolution on Monday demanding Obama retract and apologize for remarks he has made about Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley this past week.

To recap:

  1. In a show of reconciliation and unity, both Prof. Gates and Officer Crowley will meet with President Obama at the White House.
  1. The Cambridge police union is happy.
  1. A Republican representative wants Congress to debate a political resolution slamming President Obama and reigniting the controversy.

Obviously, the only reason McCotter is pushing this attack is to try to score political points, but it’s such a transparent ploy, it’s almost guaranteed to blow up in his face. Does he really think that nobody will notice that while everybody else is working to come together and reduce the heat, he is stepping forward to try to crank up the flame?

I’m sure he’s counting on the attention. He knows the rabid right doesn’t care how transparent he is as long as he’s attempting to stick a thumb in Obama’s eye – and he’s probably over-estimated their numbers.

I certainly hope the majority of Americans aren’t as stupid as the Cons think they are, anyway. Then again, pockets of America keep electing fucktards like Cornyn, Bachmann, and McCotter. One wonders if that’s from stupidity, ignorance, or a desire for cheap entertainment.

I Can Haz Ferry Ride!

Regulars know I’ve been playing a-plenty this summer, and it’s standard cantina policy to provide vicarious experiences. So you all get to go on my first ferry ride with me.

I know, pathetic, right? I mean, ferry virginhood was acceptable when I lived in Arizona, but I’ve lived here in Seattle for over two years now. I’ve visited Rocky Point and San Diego. Yet I’ve never sailed the sea – until today. We took the ferry over to Bremerton, and while it’s not open ocean, it’s still traveling over salt water, damn it.


See, look – that’s Elliot Bay behind me. Salt water. Not fresh.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen Seattle from the water rather than merely across it:


Woot!

The seagulls follow the ferry. We had a whole flock of them hanging in the air above us – a neat trick:


I soon discovered why they hover:


Yes, if you hold up bits of food, they will swoop down and take it right out of your fingers. Now, mind you, we’re going pretty fast, so they don’t have time for fine-tuning – and judging from the reactions of various seagull feeders, the little buggers just grab everything within beak range. So if you attempt this trick, make sure you don’t mind looking like Rahm Emmanuel, since you could end up flipping people off with a finger that’s no longer present.

The ferry has to run a gauntlet of islands to get to Bremerton. Here you can see a few of them complete with the Olympics rising like mirages in the background:

And trust me when I say this is an utterly awesome sight. But don’t let it distract you from the jellies – they were thick in the water, floating past just under the water where they couldn’t be photographed but could definitely be marveled at. Some of them were huge, compared to the usual run of jellies I see up here.

Bremerton’s the proud home of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and you can usually see an aircraft carrier or two in for repairs. Here’s the shipyard – if your eyes are sharp enough, you can probably sort the carrier out from the clutter:


When the ferry docks, be sure to visit the Harborside Fountain Park right nearby. It’s got fountains, believe it or not:


Great big fountains that go boom. If you’ve got your wading clothes on, you can jump in the water and get splashed, which is an excellent idea on a hot day. I salute the city planners who came up with this idea. And I adore them for including a bunch of half-polished and very interesting boulders. The geology buff in me melted. It’s neat to be able to see part of a rock polished and the other part in its natural state. And they really fascinated me with the polished conglomerate:

The bottom right’s the polished bit, the upper left the unpolished, and you can see how it’s all a bunch of rubble in a stone matrix. Intriguing. Well, to a rock hound, it is. And there’s more! I won’t torture you with them until I do a Sunday Sensational Science about rocks, though.

As you walk up from the Harborside Fountain Park, don’t forget to check out the arse end of a submarine (I think it’s the arse end, anyway) and the bit of a something-or-other on display in front of the ship yard:


Why, yes, my father was Army. However did you guess?

Speaking of Vietnam, th
e USS Turner Joy is open for tours – unless, of course, you get there after they close:


Alas, all good things must come to an end. After a long walk around the marina and stumbling into a wedding in Harborside Fountains Park on the way back, it’s time to get back home. Here’s our ride:


On the way into Elliot Bay, I saw this pigeon flying way out in the middle of this big ol’ expanse of water. I wondered if he’d make it back to dry land before his wings gave out. Silly me:

And here I thought passenger pigeons were extinct.

In Seattle, there’s always one sure way to tell you’re home:


There’s no other skyline like it in the world.

The Next Time Some Dumbshit Scaremongers About Canada…

…show them this:

Our friends at Sadly, No! take a look at the actual outcomes between the US and Canada. I don’t think it will surprise you to see that the U.S. system doesn’t measure up so well:

Circulatory disease deaths per 100,000:

  • Canada: 219
  • United States: 265

    Child maltreatment deaths per 100,000:

  • Canada: 0.7
  • United States: 2.2

    Digestive disease deaths per 100,000:

  • Canada: 17.4
  • United States: 20.5

    Infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births

  • Canada: 5.08
  • United States: 6.3

    Intestinal diseases death rate

  • Canada: 0.3%
  • United States: 7.3%

    Proability of not reaching age 60:

  • Canada: 9.5%
  • United States: 12.8%
  • Read more at Sadly, No!

    Then entertain yourselves by asking them how a country with such a no good, very bad, horrible health care system ends up creaming the United States in every single metric.