Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Infamous Episodes in GOP History: Rush Limbaugh Mocks Michael J. Fox
The OxyMoron, Rush Limbaugh, has done a lot of despicable things in his time. But one of the most infamous occurred on Oct. 23, 2006, when Limbaugh mocked Michael J. Fox's symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Limbaugh mocked and imitated the symptoms that Fox displayed during a TV ad that supported political candidates who favor stem cell research.
"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease," the Pig-Man told his delusional listeners. "He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act....This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."
As we all know, taking medication is something that the Pig-Man knows quite a bit about.
You know, watching Limbaugh bouncing around as he does in this video, reminds me of the "bowl full of jelly" line in the classic yuletide poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas."
Indeed, I guess you could even think of the plump Limbaugh as a Santa Claus of sorts (that is, if your image of Santa is an obese, thrice-divorced, serial lying, cowardly chickenhawk, hillbilly heroin-guzzling, NeoNazi piece of shit).
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Mark Sanford News Roundup
Look, I don't really care about the extramarital affair of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R). But it is pretty nauseating, as always, to hear about the hypocrisy of politicians who belong to the supposed "Family Values" party.
Sanford, let's not forget, was relentless in his attacks when he backed impeachment articles against Bill Clinton back in 1998, as the HuffingtonPost points out:
This is "very damaging stuff," Sanford declared at one point, when details of Clinton's conduct became known. "I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign)... I come from the business side," he said. "If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he'd be gone."
So Sanford is a lying, sack-of-sh*t hypocrite. What's new for the Republicans?
What we ought to be more concerned about is the extent of taxpayer funds in Sanford's trips to Argentina. As the CharlestonCityPaper.com pointed out:
In December, the Associated Press reported that taxpayers had spent $21,488 in 2008 on Sanford trips to China, Argentina, and Brazil, as well as nearly $2,000 in travel from his own office.
But not to worry. Fox News is all over this story, with their usual high standards of journalism, labeling Sanford as a Democrat, as Media Matters noted. Check out the on-screen headline from Fox's coverage of Sanford's news conference: "SC Gov Mark Sanford (D) Holds News Conf On His Weekend Disappearance."
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
GOP Politicians OK With Tax-Funded Health Care---But Only For Themselves
Contrary to what you might have heard, GOP politicians aren't opposed to all taxpayer-funded health care. For example, they've got no problem with the lavish, taxpayer-funded health care that they themselves receive as members of Congress. They just don't want anyone else in America to enjoy these generous benefits.
In fact, members of Congress get the finest health care in America---and it's mostly paid for by taxpayers.
I don't have a problem with Democratic politicians getting taxpayer-funded health care. After all, many of them are trying to extend such benefits to the rest of us.
But for GOP politicians to receive such lavish, taxpayer-supported health care while loudly opposing it for everyone else is, of course, stinking hypocrisy.
Amazingly, no Republican politician to my knowledge has ever admitted this glaring contradiction. None of them have ever demanded that their own health-care coverage be the same as what ordinary working stiffs get, out in the private sector. And nobody in the MSM ever bothers to call them out on this blatant hypocrisy.
Members of Congress participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). They get a wide range of plans to choose from. They can also insure their spouses and dependents. There's no waiting period. And unlike the rest of us, no member of Congress has to worry about being denied coverage.
I've never heard of a member of Congress going bankrupt from medical bills. For the rest of us, the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy in America is caused by medical bills. In fact, medical bankruptcies affect about 2 million Americans annually. And even as GOP politicians enjoy generous health care benefits, they seem genuinely surprised at the notion that there's any kind of "crisis" going on with health care in America.
And here's something that GOP politicians would rather you not know: the government (i.e. you, the U.S. taxpayer) pays up to 75 percent of Congress members' health-care premiums, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
And as the St. Petersburg Times pointed out last year, members of Congress get other health-care benefits, as well, (funded by millions in taxpayer dollars):
Members of Congress have their own pharmacy, right in the Capitol. They also have a team of doctors, technicians and nurses standing by in case something busts in a filibuster. They can get a physical exam, an X-ray or an electrocardiogram, without leaving work.
GOP politicians think it's fine to enjoy taxpayer-funded health-care benefits. They just don't want these benefits for anyone else in America. Keep this in mind the next time you hear a GOP politician ranting away about how the government has no business being involved in health care.
If you think it's important that Americans have a strong public health insurance option this year, then consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Steele Attacks Limbaugh's Show As "Incendiary," "Ugly"
Today's Republican Party is a sinking ship. And now the rats are turning on each other. As Politico reports, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has attacked the OxyMoron's HateWing radio program. Steele called Limbaugh an "entertainer," whose show is "incendiary" and "ugly."
I'm sure that GOP pressure will eventually force Steele to backtrack on his comments. For now, I'm really loving this. And I have to admit: at least for the moment, I do have some respect for Steele, for daring to speak up against this vicious hate-mongering NeoNazi, whose fascist spewings have long been embraced by so many in the GOP establishment.
Here's the report from Politico:
On the same night he was offering the keynote address to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Rush Limbaugh drew criticism from an unlikely source: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.
In a little-noticed interview Saturday night, Steele dismissed Limbaugh as an "entertainer" whose show is "incendiary" and "ugly."
Steele’s criticism makes him the highest-ranking Republican to pick a fight with the popular and polarizing conservative talk show host.
But the new RNC chairman’s extraordinary comments won’t sit well with the millions of conservative listeners Limbaugh draws each week, and Steele aides scrambled to limit the damage Monday morning by trying to change the subject.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Republicans Who Call Obama A Socialist Are Showing Either Ignorance Or Desperation
In the demented spirit of a godfather of American fascism, Joe McCarthy, plenty of Republicans, led by McCain attack dog Sarah Palin, are hurling the dreaded "S" word at Barack Obama. It's right-wing regurgitation.
The dreaded word in McCarthy's time was "communist." Now it is "socialist," and the far right bases this on Obama's clearly stated intention to enact very limited income redistribution for the benefit of working-class and middle-income Americans.
This misnomer reveals the stupidity of those who use it with any sincerity, and the desperation of those who actually took political science and economics in college and surely know better.
Here's a basic dictionary definition of "socialism," from Webster's New World College Dictionary:
1. any of various theories or systems of the ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society or the community rather than by private individuals, with all members of the society or the community sharing in the work and the products.
Please note that the crucial part of the definition has to the with "the means of production and distribution." I am unaware that Obama has ever advocated nationalization of industries, Israeli-style kibbutzes or anything else that characterizes bona fide socialism. He is clearly, like almost all other American progressives, a welfare capitalist. He favors a system of private ownership, but with restraints, checks and balances, and limited intervention in the public interest.
Many conservatives, being ignorant, disingenuous, or both, have greatly expanded the definition of "socialism" to include any and all kinds of income redistribution that works for the benefit of those roughly at or below median income. To broadly paraphrase one of their heroes, Adam Smith, the richer people among them say nothing of their own gains; they complain only of those of other people.
Any time any public entity, whether a local hospital district or the federal government, makes any decision about taxation and/or appropriates money for anything, income is redistributed. It's a question of to whom.
What Americans have seen for about 35 years, more rapidly at times but always steadily, has been socialism for the rich, certainly by the "broader" definition of the right. A federal tax structure that was once progressive, and remains so on paper in some senses with the retention of brackets, has been gradually rendered impotent by the fine scalpel of legislators and tax lawyers. Most corporations now pay little if any income tax, and the very wealthy have myriad shelters with which they happily dodge responsibility for upkeep of the infrastructure, or even for bankrolling the latest war meant to increase their profits.
Socialism for the rich
As for socialism for the rich, I won't even go into corporate welfare, intrinsic advantages of the rich in the legal system, the system of legal bribery we call campaign finance, etc. I'm just sticking with their definition -- redistribution of income. The distribution of wealth is more unequal than it has been since 1929. (Remember what happened that year?) And this hasn't happened by accident. The '80s supply-side economists led by Arthur Laffer and David Stockman were quite above board in their intention to favor corporations and the rich in taxation, in the apparent belief that such policy would spur investment, create jobs, actually increase tax revenue, and result in "trickle-down."
For the most part, with some interruptions during the Clinton administration, the program of socialism for the rich was put over, and with accompanying indoctrination against anything faintly liberal or progressive. The New Deal was ancient history; and in the minds of many, the opportunistic right succeeded in perversely melding it with the failure of Soviet socialism, or with anything that strayed in the very least from a laissez-faire, supply-side party line.
I stopped being a fan of Ralph Nader after he ensured the presidency for an apocalyptic buffoon like George W. Bush. But Nader said something on a debate show that has stuck with me since: "They (the big corporations) want to socialize their losses and privatize their profits." Never was anything truer said.
Obama, though merely bringing a rather mild bourgeois liberalism back to the table, faces the wrath of fools conned by this right-wing economic nonsense, and the venom of those who would use ignorant "fellow travelers" of the far right to stay in control of the wheel.
But, with two days left until the deciding moment, history appears to be tilting toward Obama. Americans have had 28 years to endure "upscale" socialism. Many who don't listen to frothing-at-the-mouth rhetoric know firsthand what such policies have done to them. Indications are that a large turnout of such folks will hugely favor Obama.
Here's a link that shines more light on the subject. There aren't many real socialists left in America, but here's what their presidential candidate thinks about Obama. And, here's one more from the MSM, its own nasty self.
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.
Monday, October 08, 2007
American Airlines Fights To Halt Worker Pay Raises, Even As CEO Pockets Millions
Workers at American Airlines agreed to wage and benefit cuts worth $1.6 billion when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy a few years ago. Thanks to the workers' sacrifice, American Airlines is profitable again.
Now, instead of rewarding its employees, American Airlines wants to halt worker pay raises.
However, there's one group of American Airlines employees who aren't being asked to share in the pain: the executives. Over the past couple of years, American Airlines gave stock bonuses worth $250 million to the company's executives and managers.
So much for "shared sacrifice."
American Airlines' CEO Gerard Arpey did particularly well last year. Arpey pocketed a $581,534 salary last year, along with $39,769 in other compensation. But that was chump change, compared with the $4.8 million in stock and option awards that Arpey received last year. And in April 2007, he pocketed a bonus of $6.6 million.
The American Airlines saga is just another chapter in the skyrocketing inequality that has taken place in America since Ronald Reagan declared war on labor unions in the 1980s. Indeed, the American labor movement never really recovered from Reagan's firing of 11,345 striking air traffic controllers in 1981.
Reagan, a former union man himself, stabbed the workers of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization in the back. But worse than that, he gave a green light to corporate America to bust unions, ignore labor laws, and screw workers---a process that continues to this day.
As a result, America has been increasingly economically polarized since 1980s. The middle class is shrinking and inequality is at its highest level since the Robber Baron era of the late 1800s.
CEO salaries tell the story. In 1980s, the CEOs of Fortune companies earned about 42 times as much as the average worker. By 2000, CEOs were making over 500 times what the average worker earned. In 2004, the average CEO of a major corporation received over $9.8 million in total compensation.
This economic gulf is unique to America, by the way. In Japan, for example, CEOs only make around 17 times what the average worker earns. In Continental Europe, the multiple is around 22.
But if a U.S. CEO making more than 500 times what the average worker earns sounds like a wide gulf to you, it's nothing compared to what one sees in the airline business these days.
For example, United Airlines executive Glenn Tilton makes 1,000 times what a United flight attendant at the top of the scale earns. Tilton's total compensation in 2006 was estimated at $39 million. By contrast, United flight attendants earn an average salary of about $31,000.
No doubt, I will soon be hearing from this blog's NeoCon visitors, who will start lecturing me about how CEO pay is all part of the "free market." No doubt, they'll lecture me about how "liberals just don't understand capitalism."
Well, they're entitled to their viewpoints. But I wonder where these Republican-voting "capitalists" were in 2001, when the Republicans and the Bush White House bailed out the airline industry with $15 billion of taxpayer money (including a cash gift of $5 billion). If Bush supporters think this is "capitalism," they need to go back and re-read Adam Smith.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Rush Limbaugh Article Shows Wikipedia's Conservative Bias
I will give the conservatives credit for one thing: they are simply more aggressive than liberals in fighting for what they want.
We all saw this during the 2000 election. Mobs of GOP thugs ferociously fought for George W. Bush, while the Democrats passively sat around, waiting for the phone to ring.
We've also seen this with the Democratically controlled Congress since 2006. Despite facing a White House occupant with approval ratings in the toilet, the Democrats seem impotent and unable to truly challenge Bush and force an end to the disastrous Iraq War.
The GOP's tendency to fight tooth and claw for what they believe in extends to the popular online Wikipedia encyclopedia.
Although Wikipedia is open to edits from anyone and everyone, a casual glance at the site's political articles reveals a distinct right-wing bias.
How can this be?
It's because conservatives are simply more aggressive and are willing to spend the time and effort into putting a right-wing slant into Wikipedia's articles.
I first noticed this trend a year ago. I was casually browsing through Wikipedia and I came across the main article on Bill Clinton.
Out of curiosity, I did a search for how many times Osama bin Laden appeared in the article. Although Wikipedia is an organic entity and articles change, day by day, on that particular day, bin Laden's name was mentioned 26 times in Clinton's article.
I then did a similar search on the main article for George W. Bush. The number of times bin Laden's name was mentioned: a grand total of zero.
I brought this topic up in the "discussion" area of the two articles and the problem has since been rectified.
But I'm sure my experience is not unique for anyone who has spent any time, browsing through Wikipedia's articles.
There is a definitely right-wing slant to most politically oriented articles at Wikipedia. And personally, I think it's simply because the right-wingers are more aggressive in their efforts to edit the site.
Many of these right-wingers apparently spend countless hours on Wikipedia, carefully sanitizing the articles of their heroes. A current case in point: Wikipedia's main article on Rush Limbaugh.
Anyone who has paid any attention at all to the news lately is aware that Limbaugh is currently in hot water over idiotic remarks he made on his radio show on Wednesday in which he called service members who oppose the war in Iraq "phony soldiers."
It's probably one of the biggest controversies of Limbaugh's career (in a career that has been full of controversies from idiotic, bigoted, racist comments Limbaugh has made over the years).
But while Limbaugh's comment has created a firestorm of controversy, you can't read about it on his Wikipedia article. Although one contributor added the "phony soldier" episode to Limbaugh article on Friday, it was promptly deleted by another contributor, who explained his move by saying, "one out-of-context quote is definitely not encyclopedic," (an explanation, by the way, that reflects Limbaugh's own back pedaling attempts to distance himself from his idiotic remarks).
Although Wikipedia features fluid, dynamic content that can change at any time, the "phony soldier" comment has been absent from Limbaugh's article since Friday (even as it has become one of the most-discussed stories in America everywhere from workplace water coolers to the media to the halls of Congress).
But my point in writing this piece isn't necessarily to take Wikipedia to task for having a right-wing slant in its articles. Rather, I would hope that Liberals and Independents (as well as any fair-minded, intelligent, rational adults) get busy and not allow the Bush-loving NeoCons to turn Wikipedia into an online version of AM hate radio.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
The President Who Cried Wolf
Hey, kids! It's story time. Today's story is, "The President Who Cried Wolf," a tale about the Lewis "Scooter" Libby case, read by Steve Tatham at The Ointment Have a great Fourth of July everyone.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
U.S. Government’s Own Official Web Site Lists Vice President's Office As Part Of "Executive Branch"
So now Dick Cheney is claiming his office is not an "entity within the executive branch."
Hmmm, Cheney had better inform USA.gov, about this startling development. It seems they've been misleading the public.
And what is USA.gov, you might ask?
I'll let the site speak for itself:
"As the U.S. government's official Web portal, USA.gov makes it easy for the public to get U.S. government information and services on the Web."
USA.gov's "Federal Executive Branch," section includes information for the public about all the offices and departments that made up the Executive Branch. And right there, under the Executive Office of the President section is a helpful link to the Vice President's official home page.
Dick Cheney needs to get on the phone and inform the U.S. government's own official Web site that it is giving the public misleading information about his office.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The Michael Moore "Awful Truth" Segment That Inspired "Sicko"
If you haven't seen it before, Michael Moore's "The Awful Truth," TV series (which aired on Bravo in 1999-2000) was one of the best things Moore has ever done. It was a hard-hitting investigative series that took on many targets in American society, including corporate and political corruption, lies, and hypocrisy.
In the series' first episode, Moore took on Humana, after this "healthcare" company initially denied a man's claim to pay for a life-saving pancreas transplant.
The episode later inspired Moore to direct Sicko, his upcoming feature film, which will be released on June 29. This episode is available on YouTube, along with a number of other "The Awful Truth" segments.
Monday, June 18, 2007
A Ron Paul Update: They Haven't Marginalized Him Quite Yet
In May, I posted an article on my blog, in response to the reactions to U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's performance in one of the GOP debates, called, "It's Scary When Ron Paul Comes Across As The Sanest GOP Candidate." I'll repeat, as a qualifier, Ron is a walking anachronism when it comes to domestic policy. This is a guy who would abolish the Department of Education. Yes, he's serious.
But, there is something about this longtime Texas congressman that the MSM, and even Fox News, try as they have, are unable to dismiss. He represents a small minority of libertarian paleoconservatives who somehow had sense enough to be against the Iraq misadventure from Day One.
Here's some of the latest that's come across the MSM about him: This from Saturday's Washington Post:
On Technorati, which offers a real-time glimpse of the blogosphere, the most frequently searched term this week was "YouTube."
Then comes "Ron Paul."
Rep. Ron Paul, one of the most obscure GOP presidential hopefuls on the old-media landscape, has drawn more views of his YouTube videos than any of his GOP rivals. ...
The presence of the obscure Republican congressman from Texas on a list that includes terms such as "Sopranos," "Paris Hilton" and "iPhone" is a sign of the online buzz building around the long-shot Republican presidential hopeful -- even as mainstream political pundits have written him off.
Rep. Ron Paul is more popular on Facebook than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He's got more friends on MySpace than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. His MeetUp groups, with 11,924 members in 279 cities, are the biggest in the Republican field. And his official YouTube videos, including clips of his three debate appearances, have been viewed nearly 1.1 million times -- more than those of any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, except Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
No one's more surprised at this robust Web presence than Paul himself, a self-described "old-school," "pen-and-paper guy" who's serving his 10th congressional term and was the Libertarian Party's nominee for president in 1988.
"To tell you the truth, I hadn't heard about this YouTube and all the other Internet sites until supporters started gathering in them," confessed Paul, 71, who said that he's raised about $100,000 after each of the three debates. Not bad considering that his campaign had less than $10,000 when his exploratory committee was formed in mid-February. "I tell you I've never raised money as efficiently as that, in all my years in Congress, and all I'm doing is speaking my mind."
That means saying again and again that the Republican Party, especially when it comes to government spending and foreign policy, is in "shambles." ...
Republican strategists point out that libertarians, who make up a small but vocal portion of the Republican base, intrinsically gravitate toward the Web's anything-goes, leave-me-alone nature. They also say that his Web presence proves that the Internet can be a great equalizer in the race, giving a much-needed boost to a fringe candidate with little money and only a shadow of the campaign staffs marshaled by Romney, McCain and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
An obstetrician and gynecologist, Paul is known as "Dr. No" in the House of Representatives. No to big government. No to the Internal Revenue Service. No to the federal ban on same-sex marriage.
"I'm for the individual," Paul said. "I'm not for the government."
If he had his way, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Education, among other agencies, would not exist. In his view, the USA Patriot Act, which allows the government to search personal data, including private Internet use, is unconstitutional, and trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement are a threat to American independence.
But perhaps what most notably separates Paul from the crowded Republican field, headed by what former Virginia governor James S. Gilmore III calls "Rudy McRomney," is his stance on the Iraq war. He's been against it from the very beginning.
After the second Republican presidential debate last month, when Paul implied that American foreign policy has contributed to anti-Americanism in the Middle East -- "They attack us because we're over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years," Paul said -- he was attacked by Giuliani, and conservatives such as Saul Anuzis were livid. Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan GOP, threatened to circulate a petition to bar Paul from future Republican presidential debates. Though the petition never materialized, Anuzis's BlackBerry was flooded with e-mails and his office was inundated with calls for several days. "It was a distraction, no doubt," he said.
The culprits: Paul's growing number of supporters, some of whom posted Anuzis's e-mail address and office phone number on their blogs.
Ron's not a guy I would seriously favor for president. But he's bringing a refreshing honesty to the GOP race, and I hope he can stay in the fray for several more months.
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
He's Lost It: Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick Declares His Power "Absolute"
Among infamous serial killers, they're often named Wayne (Something or Other). Among Texas politicians, they seem to be named Tom (DeLay, Craddick).
If anyone comes close to Tom DeLay as an embodiment of the crypto-fascist outfit that the Texas Republican Party has become, that person must now be state House Speaker Tom Craddick.
This from various news sources: Craddick, when confronted Friday night with motions to remove him as speaker, declared that his power to disregard such motions is "absolute." His parliamentarian and her assistant resigned and were replaced after a two-hour recess. Many Republicans were angered and in shock. Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, was quoted: "I knew we had a speaker. I didn't know we had a dictator."
The New York Times reported:
"During the five-hour spectacle, Mr. Craddick outmaneuvered his opponents, lawmakers who tried to overtake the speaker’s podium were physically restrained and the House parliamentarian resigned before the House adjourned shortly before 1:30 a.m. Saturday. ...
"Democrats and Republicans complain that Mr. Craddick, Republican of Midland, has ruled with an iron fist. They say his style often forces them to vote against the interests of their districts."
Craddick is an almost 40-year legislator from Midland -- recall, just incidentally, that this is the flat, treeless, right-wing oilfield paradise where George W. and Laura Bush spent much of their undoubtedly idyllic childhoods.
He now faces an open mutiny within his own right-wing party, and for good reasons. He has faced an insurgency within Republican ranks for a while. No Democrat would ever have trusted him further than the next Republican lobbyist. But he has a well-earned reputation as a despot, and even the Republicans are rebelling against the megalomania that is in full display now.
Craddick's history as a tin-pot Napoleon is a long one. In '03, when the newly Republican-controlled Legislature was busy Gerrymandering the state's congressional districts, some of the Democrats in the Legislature split for Ardmore, Okla., where they could hole up and prevent a quorum. They said they actually had to cross the state lines to do this. The reason: Herr Craddick had ze state troopers out looking for zem, to bring zem in, unter ze orderz. Achtung.
Anyway, the House and Senate eventually managed, with then-U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's invaluable help, to Gerrymander Texas to a congressional Republican majority for the next couple of generations.
DeLay was eventually indicted on criminal charges stemming from alleged campaign finance violations. The trial is pending. And, let us not forget Craddick's role as one of DeLay's state Republican toadies. They were very tight back then.
But a general thing to ponder is the Republican Party's incredible talent for jacking itself, and the country, around, and usually both at once. In Texas, the problems with Craddick began right after the Republicans gained control of the state House for the first time in 130 years.
Democrats can be quite exasperating at times. But one thing I've noticed about Republicans, when they are taken seriously and voted into office: When given power, it takes them about one-tenth of the time to shit their britches.
I sincerely hope the situation can get better, and without so many diapers at public expense.
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Bye, Wolfman: The Neo-Con House Of Cards Keeps Crashing
So, Paul Wolfowitz has finally faced the music and will resign as World Bank president. It was absurd for the likes of him to serve as its chief in the first place, regardless of the scandal that led to his demise.
This was the man who was No. 2 at the Pentagon when the most senseless war in modern times -- I would dare say even more senseless than Vietnam -- was planned. How in creation did anyone think that this was the man to put in charge of a philanthropic development bank, to help the poor?
Forget about the scandal -- this is just typical of the arrogance of people in high positions. Seldom do any of them, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal or any points in between, think much about ethical issues.
Wolfowitz was clearly and immediately a ridiculous choice for the post, and the rest of the world practically laughed at it from Day One.
I don't care that Wolfie had a girlfriend, and I'm not concerned that he got her lots of good pay and perks. It's naive to think that such things don't go on, in both the public and private sectors, all the time.
The point always was that appointing the likes of him to this post was like putting Leona Helmsley in charge of some hotel workers union. It was absurd on first principles.
But now, let's see whom Il Doofus will suggest for his successor!
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.
Monday, May 07, 2007
In Debate, Hannity Peddled Discredited Story That Sudan Offered Bin Laden To Clinton
The debate between Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson and Fox News propagandist Sean Hannity was a sad commentary on the state of political discourse in America today.
During the event, Anderson politely and convincingly detailed one logical, iron-clad argument after another to demonstrate why George W. Bush should be impeached for lying the nation into war.
But someone forgot to send a memo to Hannity that this event was supposed to be a political debate of ideas. Hannity spent the entire time acting exactly the same way he does in the broadcast booth every day. He never responded to a single point that Anderson made and instead just spewed out a nauseating series of right-wing lies and talking points.
Incredibly, Hannity once again trotted out the long-discredited right-wing lie that President Clinton supposedly once turned down an offer from the Sudanese government to hand over Osama bin Laden. It's the same charge Hannity made in his 2002 book, Let Freedom Ring. It's a story that's been echoing around the right-wing noise chamber ever since.
The problem is, the story has long since been debunked. It now exists only in the same creepy parallel universe as other right-wing fantasies such as "Clinton murdered Vince Foster."
As Al Franken pointed out in his Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them book, the Sudan tale is completely bogus. The story was originally peddled by a Pakistani-American named Mansoor Ijaz, an investment banker with a big stake in Sudanese oil.
Incidentally, as Franken points out, Ijaz was later hired as a "foreign affairs analyst" for the Fox News Channel.
But it doesn't matter how many times this story is debunked as a fraud. The Great Right-Wing Noise Machine is hermetically sealed from the truth. We can expect this bogus tale to be regurgitated over and over in the future.
What's interesting is that while this bullshit story continues to be repeated years after it was debunked, few Americans today are aware that Bush actually DID turn down an offer by Afghanistan to hand over bin Laden. And what's more, Bush rejected this offer after the 9/11 attacks.
As Britain's Guardian newspaper points out, in October 2001, Bush "rejected as 'non-negotiable' an offer by the Taliban to discuss turning over Osama bin Laden if the United States ended the bombing in Afghanistan."
This incredible story was ignored at the time by the U.S. media, (which was dusting off the pompons and getting ready to play cheerleader for Bush's invasion of Afghanistan). And unlike the dogshit peddled by Hannity, this story has the advantage of actually being true.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
A Guide To Deciphering Today's GOP Vocabulary
Many commentators have lamented the widening gulf between Democrats and Republicans in recent years. Personally, I think part of the problem may be misunderstandings in communication between the two parties. Even though Right Wingers technically speak English, a lot of us on the Left often have trouble understanding what they're talking about these days. So in the interests of harmony, I'd like to present a handy guide to understanding the modern-day GOP vocabulary:
1. "The War On Terror." A widely-used term among Republicans that in reality refers to the disastrous U.S. invasion and occupation of the sovereign nation of Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11. To Democrats, the term has a totally different meaning: namely to work to prevent terror attacks on America and pursuing members of Al-Qaeda.
2. "Capitalism." As modern-day Republicans understand it, an economic system that steals from working-class and middle-class Americans and gives billions of our tax dollars in closed, no-bid contracts to wealthy, politically connected corporations like Halliburton. The way the Democrats understand the term, capitalism refers to private corporations earning an honest profit in the private sector and competing in the marketplace like the rest of us.
3. "Christianity." You know the values that Christ talked about? Helping the poor? Compassion and love? Turning the other cheek? Blessing the peacemakers? Well, none of that has anything to do with "Christianity" as the present-day Republicans understand the term. To them, somehow Christianity has something to do with repression, hatred of gays, bigotry, ignorance, and a general distrust of anyone who isn't a white Republican Protestant.
4. "Patriotism." A great deal of confusion exists over this term these days. Democrats take the term to mean support of one's nation. Republicans interpret "patriotism" to mean blind, fanatical, unswerving loyalty to George W. Bush. Indeed, they call anyone who criticizes Bush for any reason "unpatriotic." (They also throw a temper tantrum---much the same as Bush himself does when he doesn't get his way).
5. "John Kerry." To non-Republicans, this term refers to a U.S. senator and a decorated war hero, who was wounded in action while serving in combat in the Vietnam War. To NeoCons, this term seems to refer to something entirely different: they interpret it to mean a (fictional) person who was weak, traitorous, and who faked his war wounds and then somehow conspired with none other than the United States Navy to be awarded military decorations he didn't deserve, such as the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts.
6. "Fiscal responsibility." To Democrats, this term refers to setting taxes at a level in which the nation can afford to pay its bills. (During wartime, this also involves raising taxes in order to pay for the war effort). To Republicans, this term refers to giving away billions in tax cuts to the richest 1 percent of Americans and simply ignoring the resulting titanic wartime deficits.
7. "Family values." To Democrats, this means things like policies that actually help America's families, like decent wages, maternity leave, affordable health care, and good schools. To Republicans, the term refers to ramming their narrow, twisted interpretation of "Christianity" (See #3, above) down the throats of the rest of us.
8. "Exploitation." This term, as Democrats understand it, generally is in agreement with the Webster's dictionary interpretation: "To make unethical use of for one's profit." (Note this term is completely absent from the Republican vocabulary and they have no idea what it means).
9. "Bipartisanship." To Democrats, this means reaching across the aisle and working with the opposite party, in an effort to serve the American people (who, after all, pay the bills). To Republicans, this means that you need to agree with and rubberstamp EVERYTHING Bush wants, from legalizing torture to illegal wiretaps, or you will be branded as an anti-American traitor.
10. "Health care system." To Democrats, this refers to a system that helps keep the nation's population healthy and provides medical care to the sick. To Republicans, this refers to yet another way to make lots of money (and the fact that sick people are often desperate and have no other options just sweetens the deal).
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Wild West Era Had Stricter Gun Control Than America Has Today
Despite the exaggerated violent stereotypes perpetuated by dime novels and Hollywood, the so-called Wild West wasn't quite as violent as we've been led to believe over the years.
Take, for example, the 1881 "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," the most famous shootout in the history of the Old West. A mere three people died in this gunfight---an event that would be barely noticed in today's blood-soaked America, where many thousands of people are gunned down annually.
And yet, the O.K. Corral shootout has come to symbolize a wild, lawless West. It's part of the mythology of America that NRA gun lovers claim captures the "rugged individualism" and essence of what our nation is all about (as they furiously work to oppose any and all gun legislation as downright "un-American").
There's only one problem: the image of the Old West that exists in the popular imagination is largely fictional. It's all part of a myth that was created in the late 19th century by the dime novel authors, who enthralled their breathless, eager readers back East. The "Wild West" fantasy created by the dime novel was later taken up by generations of Hollywood films.
Any serious historian will tell you that the truth about the Wild West is rather more mundane. The Wild West era, in fact, was considerably less bloody than the violent reputation it has garnered over the years.
In fact, the exploits of the famous Wild West outlaws were often exaggerated. Take the most famous and notorious outlaw of them all: Billy the Kid. He was reported to have killed 21 men, "one for each year of his life."
The reality was more mundane. Billy the Kid's real name was Henry McCarty and he was born in New York City, of all places. And in truth, he likely only killed only two to four people. In fact, his exploits wouldn't even rate a front page story in today's violent America.
The only reason Billy the Kid is known at all today is because his killer, Sheriff Patrick Garrett, published a fictionalized, wildly exaggerated account of The Kid, hoping to cash in on McCarty's story by hyping it to the dime novel audience of the time.
The dime novelists had to exaggerate the exploits of the Wild West's most notorious killer in order to sell their books. By contrast, no writer today would need to exaggerate the actions of a Charles Whitman or Cho Seung-hui to horrify their audience.
Still, today's gun nuts tend to often point to the Wild West era in making their arguments that guns are somehow an inevitable, integral aspect of American life and culture. The problem is, these people get their ideas about the Wild West from watching John Wayne movies, rather than reading actual history.
Occasionally, a Hollywood film will attempt to actually portray a realistic aspect of the Wild West. For example, Clint Eastwood's 1992 film, Unforgiven depicted a Wild West locale in which a city ordinance requires people entering the town to hand over their guns to the sheriff's office. The ordinance is harshly enforced. At various points in the film, newcomers to the town fail to observe the law. They are then visited by the sheriff, who forcibly disarms them at the barrel of a gun (and viciously beats them for good measure).
Gasp! Isn't this gun control?
The NRA gun nuts went ballistic when Eastwood's film was released. They claimed Eastwood was "inventing" history. When serious historians rose in Eastwood's defense to point out that many Old West towns did in fact have such policies, they failed to silence the NRA gun nuts who were upset that their John Wayne wet dream fantasies of the Old West were, in fact, bullshit.
Here we are, a century later, and there are less gun control laws on the books today in many areas of the U.S. than there were in many parts of the Old West. Despite what today's gun nuts would have us believe, in most of the U.S., it is still remarkably easy to buy a gun these days.
Of course, you'd never guess this was the case, if you listen to the NRA's hysterical propaganda. The NRA would have us believe that guns are already heavily regulated in America today and that the feds are on the verge of kicking in our doors and confiscating every last gun in the nation.
However, if you take a close look at the specific issues that drives the NRA ballistic these days, you realize just how weak gun control laws are in this country.
Take, for example, the NRA's furious, ongoing opposition to the Brady Bill. This modest legislation does nothing more than simply require a check on the backgrounds of gun buyers for criminal activity. And thanks to the NRA, the law is filled with enough loopholes to drive a truck through (such as the gun show loophole).
It's hard to imagine any sane person opposing the Brady Bill. But the NRA took up the case and raised such a hysterical fuss that one might have guessed that the law called for nothing less than the repeal of the Second Amendment.
Despite what the NRA would have us believe, controls on guns in America have actually weakened over the past quarter century. For example, when George W. Bush was Texas governor, he signed a "concealed-carry law" at the NRA's bidding. When he did so, Texas joined 22 other states that since 1986 had made it legal to carry concealed weapons. Today, some 48 states allow some form of concealed carry.
Bush also signed a bill denying Texas cities the ability to sue gun manufacturers (so much for his lip service to the idea that local entities ought to be able to conduct their affairs without meddling interference from state government).
And speaking of gun control ordinances, as Wikipedia points out, the O.K. Corral shootout itself was sparked by Virgil Earp's efforts to "enforce Tombstone's law prohibiting the carrying of deadly weapons."
The fact is, the Old West was downright safe, compared to today's blood-soaked streets in America. For one thing, no one in the Old West ever had to face down a lethal killing instrument like a modern-day Glock semi-automatic pistol. Firearms in the Old West were downright crude and tame, compared to a Glock.
If even a Wild West town like Tombstone could have strict gun control ordinances, why can't we do the same as a nation today?
Sunday, April 01, 2007
The Word "Republican" Has Vanished From The Vocabulary Of Right-Wingers
Scan any right-wing blog these days and it's hard not to notice that something is missing.
Namely, the word "Republican."
As he so often does these days, Rush Limbaugh sets the trends in the right-wing noise chamber. If you've listened to Limbaugh's radio show lately, you'll notice that he has rarely mentioned the word "Republican" since November. Indeed, he goes out of his way every 30 seconds to mention that he's actually a "conservative."
It's quite a change of pace from four years ago, when the Republicans were riding high in the heady early days of the (then still popular) Iraq War. Back then, George W. Bush's approval rating was sky-high. The Iraq War initially appeared as though it might be a cake-walk, after all. Most Americans were still confident that the WMDs would be found (for that matter, most Americans still believed Saddam was behind 9/11).
Back in those days, Rush and his Ditto-Head followers embraced the word "Republican" and wore it as a badge of honor.
But that's no longer the case these days, especially in the aftermath of the Republicans' disastrous showing in the November elections.
Like Rush, the right-wing blogosphere has recently quietly tiptoed away from the word "Republican." A casual scan of popular right-wing Web sites and blogs today reveals few or no mentions of the word "Republican" over the past month.
The following right-wing sites (none of which I will dignify by linking to) have few, if any, mentions of the word "Republican" on their main pages (or any of their recent articles): Limbaugh's own site, The Drudge Report, Flopping Aces, Little Green Footballs, and Captain's Quarters. Note that the latter two sites have archives dating back several years. Click on any month pre-dating November 2006, and you'll find the word "Republican" in abundance.
Clearly, the word "Republican" is tainted these days---even to the point where fanatical, Bush-worshipping, Kool-Aid-drinking right-wingers have begun to avoid the word like the plague.
One might ask: why are today's right-wingers avoiding labeling themselves as Republicans?
Is it because today's Republican Party has been hijacked by extremists? No.
Is it because today's Republicans have done untold damage to the U.S., from lying our nation into war to embracing torture as official state policy to shredding our nation's Constitution to making America the most feared and hated nation on the planet? Is it because the recent Republican-led Congress was the most evil, corrupt Congress in American history?
Actually, the right-wingers have no problem with any of the above, chillingly enough.
No, they decided to tiptoe away from calling themselves Republicans simply because they know goddamn well that the word "Republican" is heavily tainted these days. It's electoral poison.
Today, America is a mess. Our relationship with the rest of the world is in tatters. Given the appalling human rights record of the Bush White House, America no longer has any moral authority to lecture other nations.
And the American voters know damn well who is to blame for the decline and fall of America as a respected nation: the Republicans.
As they try to rehabilitate their devastated Republican Party, right-wingers no doubt will continue to embrace the "conservative" label. But no matter what they call themselves, they can't hide the fact that the GOP and their beloved leader Bush did untold damage to America from 2000 to 2006. I'd suspect it'll take the majority of American voters many years before they trust the Republicans again.
Update: This is interesting: two of the right-wing blogs that I noticed had no mentions of the word "Republican" on their main pages on March 31 (Captain's Quarters and Flopping Aces) must have gotten wind of my article. Both blogs posted new content today smothered with numerous mentions of the word "Republican." Maybe the right-wing blogs will rediscover the word "Republican" again for a few days in an attempt to try to show everyone that they're not really afraid of this tainted label....but mark my words, it won't last.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Who's Bankrupt Now? Thoughts On "How The Right Went Wrong"
In Time magazine's March 26 cover story, "How the Right Went Wrong," Karen Tumulty began by quoting Ronald Reagan in a sort of "bandwagon" logical fallacy at the 1985 Conservative Political Action Conference. "... the other side is virtually bankrupt of ideas. It has nothing more to say, nothing to add to the debate. It has spent its intellectual capital." The core argument: Cons rule; get with it.
The writer seemed to veer even more off the track after that, going into the general gloom among conservatives -- but failing to adequately discuss the many failures of policy and ideas that put the Right in this mood. This kind of obfuscation is common in the Mainstream Media.
I'd like to get this back on the real track. Fast-forward to 2007.
For all but two of the past 26 years, the Republican Party, dominated by its "conservative" wing, has controlled either the executive branch, the legislative branch, or both, of the federal government. In that time:
-- The national debt has grown to over $5 trillion. When Reagan entered office, it was less than $1 trillion. The only balanced budgets, or surpluses, run during the past 26 years were in the final years of the Clinton presidency, when the rich were being taxed somewhat more than they are now, or were in the '80s.
So much for fiscal responsibility.
-- The welfare state has actually grown overall. An Associated Press analysis of government data shows that nearly 1 in 6 Americans relies on some kind of public assistance, the most since the government began the measurements two decades ago.
I can already hear the "cons" muttering, but this didn't happen because of liberals. The 1996 welfare "reform" was mainly a GOP idea. It has indeed cut the welfare rolls, by nearly two-thirds. But when former recipients went to low-wage, no-benefits jobs like those at Wal-Mart, guess what? Applications for food stamps grew, and the number of Medicaid recipients went off the charts. The new, not-so-improved welfare state is basically a huge subsidy for low-paying corporations like Wal-Mart.
More results: Real wages had already been slipping for decades, and the trend accelerated. Could it have been all those low-wage workers pouring into the work force? And all the while, other sets of numbers have been trending up--consumer debt and corporate profits. Call me paranoid, but sometimes it seems like somebody in a boardroom thought all this up.
The problem is, what's generating short-term profits for the few seems to mean long-term misery for many. Census figures show that the number of Americans categorized as severely poor--not just under the official poverty line--grew by 26 percent, to 16 million, between 2000 and 2005.
-- For two generations we've heard politicians rant about "law and order," even many Democrats. But the GOP Right Wing got by far the most political capital out of the issue, mainly by promising to lock up drug offenders and throw away the key, and to whittle Death Row down to about a dozen inmates.
I won't dwell on the possibility that some undetermined number of innocent people have been executed. (Although recent DNA-testing breakthroughs give some hint at the number of wrongful convictions.) I'll focus instead on "The Drug War." America had a serious crack cocaine problem in the '80s--but the approach to drugs in general became shotgun-style, where a rifle was needed. With that, and mandatory sentences, the federal prison population exploded. People were getting hard time for small-amount possession. From 1980 to 2000, the overall U.S. prison population quadrupled, despite a decline in violent crime and property crime since the early '90s. In federal pens, 57 percent were in for drug offenses. The overall U.S. incarcerated population in 2006: 2.2 million. In 2005, 1 out of every 136 Americans was in some kind of jail. The U.S. has 5 percent of the world's population, and 25 percent of the world's incarcerated population. (Source of all stats above: Wikipedia.)
Predictably, the taxpayers, even Republicans, got tired of paying for the U.S. being the world's biggest jailer. Here in Texas, Republican state legislators are introducing bills to cut way down on probation revocations, especially for nonviolent offenders. Even in the GOP, "lock 'em up" for damn near anything has become an impractical notion whose time has passed.
-- Tumulty wrote that Reagan "... helped bring about the defeat of what he very undiplomatically christened 'the Evil Empire.' " She apparently buys, at least to some degree, the notion that Reagan presided over a military buildup that "bankrupted" the Soviet Union.
This is one of the most toxic myths that the Right has sold to many as history. When Russian economists have been interviewed about this, their response has often been laughter. Everybody there who could see the big picture knew what the problems were, and they had been serious for many years before Reagan took office. All economic indicators had been declining for years. Life expectancy, down. Absenteeism, alcoholism, infant mortality--all up alarmingly. (Dartmouth College historians Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth.) It was requiring 25 percent of the Soviet GDP to support their military empire. But military spending, CIA stats show, was very level between 1975 and 1985.
The problem was systemic. The Soviets' particular experiment with socialism was a debacle--a top-heavy, command economy that basically collapsed under its own weight and inflexibility. Yet, many cons argue that Reagan's goofy "Star Wars" initiative was the final blow. With the Soviet economy already so dead in the water, this was like giving Reagan credit for every sunrise that occurred on his watch. If he even hastened their collapse, I doubt that it was by as much as a year.
But the Right has had uncanny success at selling such mendacity to tens of millions of Americans. They've built a hard core of about 30 percent of the electorate that will swallow any such B.S. and lick their lips like it's a fudge brownie.
How did they do this? One must go back in history. Liberal hegemony in U.S. politics was roughly 1932-1980. At the start of that period, about one-third of Americans lived in poverty. It was more serious then, with no food stamps or Medicaid. By the '70s, poverty had been cut by about two-thirds, down to around 11 percent. By the '50s, union membership peaked at 35 percent. In 1959, corporations paid 39 percent of federal income tax revenue (Barlett and Steele citing IRS stats, 1990. It's a fraction of that now).
Gradually, progressives and liberals became victims of their own successes, convictions, and coincidences. In the '60s, the Democrats lost the white South by embracing civil rights. In the '70s, demand-pull inflation, fueled in no small way by the OPEC embargo, began plunging the U.S. economy into deep recessions.
And, when people become affluent enough, they forget about G.I. Bills, federal housing loans, Pell Grants and the like that helped them get there. Lower taxes and higher property values become the main concerns. The Democrat becomes a "Reagan Democrat."
Then came the wedge issues: Abortion, affirmative action and gun control drive a bigger "wedge." And finally, the Reagan Democrat, under pressure from his golf buds, becomes a Republican.
And, the Right never has a problem getting money. Starting in the '70s, a network of "think tanks" formed, lavishly financed by Corporate America, to undertake such campaigns as selling "intellectuals" such spurious ideas as the Laffer Curve and utility deregulation. Such ideas eventually "trickle down" to the general public, even if the real money doesn't.
Tumulty talks about "conservatives," not liberals, being victims of their successes. Which triumphs are those? The ones I just reviewed?
The main success I can see is that the "conservative movement" ran one of the most longlasting and successful "cons" on the public in U.S. political history. They have nothing at all to show for 26 years of being more or less in power. Their astonishing talent is for keeping discredited ideas alive:
-- Cutting taxes on the rich and big corporations was supposed to increase revenue and eliminate the deficit by growing the economy. It never happened, even when tried twice.
-- The Clinton economic plan, which passed in 1993 without a single Republican vote, was supposed to wreck the economy. It didn't. (What it did do, eventually, was balance the budget, and even produce a surplus.)
-- We have heard over and over that raising the minimum wage is supposed to set off inflation and increase unemployment. It's been done many times, and it never has.
I won't stoop to Reagan's fallacy of intellectual bankruptcy. It's more like a case of a high-roller who finally goes into debt so deeply that the bank just keeps lending him more money, because if he goes under, the bank does, too.
But fortunately, more voters are deciding he's not the guy to put in charge of the Treasury.
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Tony Snow's Plight Would Be Vastly Worse If He Was An Ordinary, Working-Class American
Let's be clear on something: cancer is a horrible thing. And we wish a speedy recovery for Tony Snow, who is battling colon cancer.
As a wealthy, high-profile public figure, Snow can expect the most advanced, cutting-edge, world-class medical care for his condition in the coming years. As the White House Press Secretary, he can expect the best treatment and the best doctors that money can buy.
If you want the nation's best health care, it also helps greatly if you're famous like Snow. After all, no HMO is going to jerk you around on paying your medical bills if you're in the national spotlight and on a first-name basis with the president of the United States.
But as a nation offers its sympathies and prayers to Snow, it's important to note that Snow's plight---as serious as it is---would be much worse if he were an ordinary working-class American.
Dealing with a catastrophic medical condition is hell. But it's even worse when you're not rich and the sky-high medical bills starting pouring into your mailbox.
Doctors always emphasize that, when one is recovering from cancer, it's important to be as optimistic as possible and to maintain a positive mental outlook.
That's a tall order for the millions of ordinary working-class Americans who not only face the challenge of dealing with a medical crisis--but also the nightmare of facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills that will hang over their heads like a dark cloud for the rest of their lives.
Snow faces a serious challenge in the coming years. But I'd suspect that one thing he won't have to worry about is paying his medical bills. After all, Snow earns $165,200 as the White House press secretary. That's a vastly higher salary than the average American earns. And Snow previously made $1.75 million yearly as a Fox News anchor.
Let's face it: when you're rich and famous in America, you get the best medical care. You get to see the best doctors. You get to stay at the best hospitals.
Europeans believe that health care is a basic human right. But in America, the health care you get is directly tied into how much money you have.
These days, the number of Americans with no health-care insurance is soaring, with no end in sight. The U.S. Census Bureau reported last year that the number of uninsured Americans rose by 1.3 million to a record 46.6 million, including over 400,000 children.
While the crisis of the uninsured gets the most media attention, it's important to remember that tens of millions of Americans have health insurance and still face huge obstacles in getting the medical treatment they need.
I have a friend whose wife developed breast cancer a decade ago. Both husband and wife worked full-time and paid thousands of dollars yearly for HMO medical coverage.
The problem is that the HMO didn't pay all their staggering medical bills. And my friend and his wife were socked with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills that plunged them deeply into a debt hole that they have yet to climb out of a decade later.
I'd suspect that hundreds of thousands of Americans go through a similar hell every year. And bear in mind: we're not talking about the uninsured---we're talking about Americans who have health-care coverage.
So while a nation offers its "get well soon" wishes to Tony Snow, let's also spare a thought for the millions of working-class Americans who struggle every year to get the medical treatment they need from heartless HMOs that are more concerned about maximizing profits than offering health care.
America's broken health-care system is in an ongoing crisis that the Republicans (including Snow himself) have long turned an indifferent, cold shoulder to, in their zeal for putting profits over people.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Waxman Had Better Move Quickly: GOP Has Long History Of Destroying Evidence In Scandals
Henry Waxman is determined to find out the truth in the AttorneyGate scandal. As a result, he has directed the Republican National Committee to preserve the emails of White House officials and to investigate what steps are being taken to protect the emails from destruction.
Waxman is right to be concerned about preserving the evidence in this scandal. After all, destroying evidence is a Republican specialty---and has been a hallmark of GOP scandals over the decades.
Take the Iran-Contra affair, for example. Two decades after this shocking Reagan White House scandal, the affair remains shrouded in mystery. At the time, investigators found that uncovering the slippery truth in this scandal was as frustrating as eating soup with a fork. When pressed for details by investigators, Reagan and his collaborators repeatedly insisted that they knew nothing, or were "out of the loop."
Indeed, it was difficult for investigators to ever uncover the truth in Iran-Contra. In November, 1986, Oliver North's secretary Fawn Hall removed and shredded a large number of official Iran-Contra documents from the White House.
And the Iran-Contra affair hardly marked the first time that key evidence disappeared during a GOP scandal. I mean, who can ever forget the infamous 18 minute gap on Nixon's Watergate tapes?
George W. Bush and his friends and allies are hardly strangers to the destruction of key evidence in scandals. Take Enron, for example. This company (which was Bush's all-time biggest campaign contributor) imploded in scandal and fraud in 2001. But we'll never know the full story: Enron's accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, shredded over a ton of Enron-related documents.
Given the GOP's long history of destroying scandal evidence, Waxman had better move quickly as he tries to secure evidence, if he is ever going to uncover the truth in the AttorneyGate scandal.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Bush Has Set An Appallingly Bad Example For Wartime Sacrifice
This Los Angeles Times op-ed by Kitty Kelley really says it all. The only thing I'd like to add to this piece is that during World War II, FDR set taxes at a responsible level that enabled America to (A) fight the war without racking up crushing deficits and (B) make sure that everyone contributed---even those who stayed home while our soldiers fought overseas.
By contrast, today's fratboy-in-chief doesn't call for any war-time sacrifice on the home front, least of all from his family. And while FDR's war-time inauguration balls were low-key and subdued, Bush staged one of the most expensive, lavish inaugurations in American history in 2005. And now Bush seems to just spend all his time trying to figure out how to cut Paris Hilton's taxes. I guess letting Hilton buy yet another yacht is more important than giving our troops adequate armor for combat.
Why aren't the Bush daughters in Iraq?
By Kitty Kelley
When I was a little girl in a convent school, the nuns impressed on me the power of setting a good example. These beloved teachers are no longer around to instruct the president and his family, so I recommend that the Bushes learn from Mark Twain, who said: "Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."
My suggestion comes after the White House announcement earlier this month that Jenna Bush, one of the president's twin daughters, is writing a book on her all-expenses-paid trip to Panama, where she worked for a few weeks as an intern for UNICEF. Jenna Bush is quoted as saying she will donate her earnings from her book to UNICEF, a commendable gesture, considering her father's net worth of $20 million. But while the 25-year-old makes the rounds of TV talk shows this fall in a White House limousine, dozens of her contemporaries will be arriving home from Iraq in wooden boxes. In Britain, Prince Harry is insisting on going off to Iraq — even as his country is reducing its troop commitment.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt showed how the power of good example could also be powerfully good politics. When he led the country to sacrifice in World War II, his children enlisted and his wife traveled to military bases to counsel and comfort the families of soldiers. Newsreels showed the president's four sons fighting with the Marines in the Pacific, flying with the Army Air Forces in North Africa and landing with the Navy at Normandy. Soon other public figures followed suit — movie stars (James Stewart and Clark Gable) enlisted and sports heroes (Joe DiMaggio and Hank Greenberg) went off to war.
The contrast between FDR's good example during wartime and that of George W. Bush is stark and sad. The Bush family rallies to the political campaigns of its scions and spends months on the road raising money and shaking hands to put their men into public office. In fact, the public image of their cohesive family — the pearl-choked matriarch surrounded by progeny and springer spaniels — helped cinch more than one presidency for the Bushes. Yet now, when its legacy is most in peril, the family seems to be squandering its good will on a mess of celebridreck.
The president tells us Iraq is a "noble" war, but his wife, his children and his nieces and nephews are not listening. None has enlisted in the armed services, and none seems to be paying attention to the sacrifices of military families. Until Jenna's trip to Panama, the presidential daughters performed community service only when mandated by a court after they were cited for underage drinking. Since then they have surfaced in public during lavish presidential trips with their parents, bar-hopping outings in Georgetown and champagne-popping art openings in New York.
The first lady, so often lauded for her love of literacy, has not been seen in the reading rooms of veterans' hospitals. The president's sister, Doro, publicly picketed Al Gore's last days in the vice president's mansion as he awaited the Supreme Court's decision on the Florida recount of 2000. Yet she has been strangely absent from publicly supporting her brother's war.
The presidential nieces and nephews also have missed the memo on setting a good public example. Ashley Bush — the youngest daughter of the president's brother, Neil, and Neil's ex-wife, Sharon — was presented to Manhattan society at the 52nd Annual International Debutantes Ball at the Waldorf Astoria. Her older sister, Lauren, a runway model, told London's Evening Standard that she is a student ambassador for the United Nations World Food Program, but she would not lobby her uncle for U.S. funds. Her cousin, Billy Bush, chronicles the lives of celebrities on "Access Hollywood."
"Uncle Bucky," as William H.T. Bush is known within the family, is one presidential relative who has profited from the Iraq war. He recently sold all of his shares in Engineered Support Systems Inc. (ESSI), a St. Louis-based company that has flourished under the president's no-bid policy for military contractors. Uncle Bucky told the Los Angeles Times that he would have preferred that ESSI, on whose board he sits, was not involved in Iraq, "but, unfortunately, we live in a troubled world."
The only member of the Bush family to show the strains of our "troubled world" is former President George H.W. Bush, who shed tears recently while addressing the Florida Legislature. The elder Bush was talking about son Jeb's gubernatorial loss in 1994. Jeb, who was later elected, tried to console him. But the sobs of Bush 41 seemed to be more about his older son's "noble" war.
Perhaps the father's sadness sprang from his own experience fighting in what his parents called "Mr. Roosevelt's war" — the good war — the war that saved the world from tyranny. He enlisted at 18 to fly torpedo bombers. He flew 58 missions in two years and returned home a war hero. Since then, no one in his large family has seen fit to follow his sterling example of service and patriotism.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Countering Ann Coulter's Hate Speech: A Citizen's Action Guide
Are you fed up with Ann Coulter's vile, disgusting hate speech? If so, you're not alone. Thousands of Americans are now taking action against Coulter, who regular poisons our nation's political discourse with her bigoted outbursts.
As is usual in cases like this, if you want to make your voice heard when it comes to the corporate media, you've gotta hit them where it hurts: their wallets. The sort of media outlets that would give the time of day to a disgusting hate spewer like Coulter can only understand one thing: the financial bottom line.
If you want to make these corporate entities see the light, you're wasting your time if you try to appeal to their sense of human decency. On the other hand, if you hit them in the pocketbook, you just might catch their attention, if only for a moment.
As it turns out, Coulter's latest unhinged outburst (referring to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards as a "faggot") has already cost Coulter some sponsors. CNN has reported that at least three major companies have sought to have their ads pulled from Coulter's Web site: Verizon, Sallie Mae and Georgia-based NetBank.
Liberal Web site DailyKos.com pointed out recently that the only remaining major advertiser on Coulter's Web site is Amazon.com. If you'd like to let Amazon.com know how you feel about their sponsorship of Coulter's site, the email address for Amazon.com's Investor Relations is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As DailyKos.com recently noted:
"One of the best ways to communicate one's distaste for Coulter's repeated incidents of hate speech is to respectfully but firmly let her advertisers know you are deeply troubled by their indirect support of bigotry through their advertising on Coulter's Web site."
Meanwhile, Edwards is fighting back against Coulter's hate speech. The Democratic candidate is aiming to raise $100,000 in "Coulter Cash" this week to keep his campaign "charging ahead and (to) fight back against the politics of bigotry." If you'd like to donate, go here.
Coulter's column is currently syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate to over 100 papers. If you'd like to add your voice to the thousands of Americans who are urging these newspapers to drop Coulter's column, go here. Also, the media watchdog site Media Matters has a list of newspapers that carry Coulter's columns, (as well as the email addresses of those papers' editors).
The various ongoing efforts to stop Coulter's bigotry are already paying dividends. Media Matters reported Friday that seven newspapers have now dropped Coulter's column since her comments about Edwards.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Thanks to Media Attention, Ann Coulter Is Out-Limbaughing Limbaugh
It is hard to figure out how to deal with a public figure as vile as Ann Coulter.
This fetid product of gated-community privilege has spent her adult life spewing contempt at everyone and everything different from the sorority-house milieu that she surely knows too well. This is not unusual in itself.
But what makes Ann different is her nasty gift for perverse self-promotion. She is quite calculating in her use of epithets such as "faggot" and "raghead." She suggests that Timothy McVeigh was wrong only in that he did not target The New York Times. She says perhaps the solution to the Mideast crisis is that we should simply invade Muslim countries, kill their leaders and convert the populace to Christianity. Her ad hominem attacks on political opponents have become ad nauseam, they are so predictable and frequent.
So, how have the mainstream media dealt with the blond hatchet-face? The responses have been wide-ranging. Some outlets have mostly ignored her. Others have gone so far as to call her some kind of American Voltaire -- which shows how decadent our MSM have become. Either way, Ann has trumped her physical opposite, the corpulent, oozing Sultan of Slime, the would-be Court Jester to the Third Reich, Herr Rush Limbaugh. With the miniskirts and the carefully crafted persona of Debutante From Hell, she has stolen Fat Boy's thunder.
How should she be dealt with? It's a tough question. I've got a suggestion. When one chooses to live by the sword, one should die by it. Ann specializes in ad hominem attacks. OK, here goes:
This is an unmarried woman, 45 years old, who has reportedly broken off a number of engagements. When some reporter pointed out that this seemed at odds with her "family values" politics, she dismissed the reporter as "ugly." And, she once commented about how all the pretty girls on college campuses seemed to be the ones she saw in Republican and conservative groups. Does she dig them? Makes you wonder a little, doesn't it? Unmarried at 45, and admiring the young GOP sweeties? (I believe the analogous word for "faggot" is "dyke." Please don't send me to rehab.)
She has enhanced her career by being tall, blond, leggy and skinny. Well, to me she looks skinny enough to be bulimic (Thrown up any veggie burgers lately, Ann?), and her limbs look like toothpicks. She has no cleavage to speak of. She's somewhere between hatchet-faced and horse-faced, and she's got bug eyes. She's a hard-looking woman who won't age well without help from her plastic surgeon.
She's the spawn of affluent people in Connecticut who were able to sent Miss Prissy Princess to all the best schools and universities, where she no doubt shared her stuffed toys with her dainty suitemates. She has no firsthand idea how most people have to make it in life. Her mind is a gated community.
Her main talent is for the insult, and that has made her temporarily famous. She will be remembered much the same way Father Coughlin or Joe McCarthy are now. Voltaire has nothing to worry about.
This is a person who will, I forecast, be remembered as a sort of perfumed vermin of our time.
Live by the sword, die by it. Fair enough?
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his new blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.
Friday, December 29, 2006
The Real Reason Republicans Hate Hillary Clinton
Trying to fathom the various hatreds of the Republicans these days is always a tricky exercise.
After all, these are people who despise saintly figures like Jimmy Carter. How, exactly, does one go about hating someone like Carter? It's like hating Mother Teresa.
The wingnuts also despise decorated war heroes like John Kerry, John Murtha and Max Cleland. I've never understood how soldiers who fought and bled for their country could be the target of such venom from anyone, either on the Right or the Left.
But it's always been a complete mystery to me why the Republicans would hate someone like Hillary Clinton.
Surely it's clear to anyone outside of the Rush-listening, knuckle-dragging base of the GOP that Hillary is hardly an extreme liberal. In fact, she's quite moderate.
Despite what the likes of Fox News would have us believe, Hillary is a business-friendly politician who is hardly the champion of worker's rights. In short, she's not much of a progressive.
In fact, Hillary's 2002 vote in favor of using military force against Iraq and her pandering on the flag-burning issue have been enough to distance her from a number of progressives.
Liberal columnist Molly Ivins, for example, famously declared last January that she would not support Hillary for president.
The mainstream media hasn't helped things over the years when reporting on exactly what it is that Hillary stands for.
Indeed, the MSM continues to insist on calling Hillary a "divisive" figure.
Presumably, in giving her this label, the MSM is referring to the rabid GOP nutcases who are consumed with hatred for Hillary. What's interesting about all this is that the MSM hasn't stuck a similar label on George W. Bush---even though no president has ever done more to divide the country (and alienate the world from America).
Frankly, the mainstream media has done a lousy job of reporting on Hillary Clinton over the years. And nowhere is this more evident that the lies and misinformation that it spread about the 1993 Clinton health care plan.
The MSM went out of its way to try to scare the American public about Clinton's health care proposal. As a result of the media's misinformation, most Americans were under the impression that the plan called for some kind of scary, Communist-style government takeover of the entire U.S. health case system. This is a misconception that exists to this day.
In fact, the Task Force on National Health Care Reform (which Hillary headed) called for no such thing. It didn't even call for a Canadian-style single-payer plan. In fact, it left the nation's health care system firmly in the hands of the private sector.
The MSM's inability to convey even this basic, fundamental fact about Clinton's health care plan, of course, played right into the GOP's hands as they fought fiercely against the plan. I suspect we'll see a great deal more of this MSM misinformation about Hillary should she pursue the presidency.
Which brings me back to my original question: why, exactly does Hillary inspire such foaming-at-the-mouth hatred from the GOP these days? It sure as hell isn't because Hillary is some sort of FDR-style progressive.
It's clear that the real reason the Republicans hate Hillary is that they simply can't stand strong-willed women.
Let's face it: such "uppity" women frighten the Republicans. It's not that the GOP necessarily despise women in general---it's just that the right-wingers want women to stay in their place in society.
Republicans, of course, would strongly deny that this is the case. They'd protest that they're not hostile to women and, as "proof" would offer up examples like Bush's appointment of Condoleezza Rice, as well as the various female GOP politicians and leaders in America.
However, Republicans know damn well that a significant part of their base supports "traditional family values"---which is simply code for keeping women in their place as docile, cookie-baking homemakers.
It's important to remember that for all of the boasting that our nation does about being some sort of "beacon" of human rights, the fact is, today's America still harbors tens of millions of bigots, whose views on race and gender haven't changed much in the past 100 years.
And what party do you think these bigots vote for? It sure as hell ain't the Democrats.
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