Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman at a public event in Tucson on Saturday. There are conflicting reports about whether she was killed.
The Pima County, Ariz., sheriff’s office told member station KJZZ the 40-year-old Democrat was killed. At least nine other people, including members of her staff, were injured.
A Holy War Erupts Among Evangelical Christians Over Beck Rally
“Many conservative evangelical activists argue that evangelicals and Mormons should set aside theological differences to partner on moral and political issues.”
I’m sorry, but let’s go back to step one. Why is any spiritual belief being used for political gain? This is the question that should be haunting them. Instead they are focused on whether or not they can mingle with the Mormons.
I seem to recall that the current economic disaster began and in fact grew to its monstrous size under your President, whose policies were so short-sighted and reckless that he managed to turn a several billion dollar surplus into a near total economic collapse in eight years. The TARP was his program, a last minute bailout of his buds on the Street who had treated the money entrusted to them by the middle class as their own private casino funds, bet it all again and again in speculative endeavors that even they admit were absurd, and–gee whillikers!–ultimately collapsed under their own artificially propped up weight.
You may certainly disagree with Obama’s Keynesian approach to resolving the problem, but if you examine what is happening in the economy today there is little doubt that it is working. Not as quickly as everyone would like it to work, certainly, but then it took a very long time to create this mess, so fixing it in a little more than a year is and always was highly unlikely.
Still, let’s see what Obama has presided over thus far, shall we?
When he came in, the stock market was in free fall.
Today, it has completely recovered and is setting records.
When he came in, the American auto business was in danger of becoming extinct.
Today, Detroit may not be thriving, but the Big 3 are alive and well and looking to the future.
When he came in, Bush had paid out $700B in TARP money.
Today, all but $100B or so has been repaid.
When he came in, the nation was bleeding jobs, losing them at a pace that seemed assured to land us in another Great Depression.
Almost immediately, after passing the Recovery Act, the bleeding lessened. Every month of his administration, it has continued to lessen. Then, in December, the economy began producing jobs. Every month since then it has produced more jobs than the month before, with over 200K produced in April alone.
He has managed to accomplish something that Presidents have been trying to do since Teddy Roosevelt: get Congress to adopt a national health care policy that regulates the insurance industry and guarantees coverage without recision. It is not enough, but it is a start.
He has removed the banks as middle men in the student loan industry for the first time since Reagan put them there. Do you know when college education costs started skyrocketing? I’ll tell you: the Reagan administration. Hmmm… Again, it’s not nearly enough, but it’s a step.
Despite being fought tooth and nail by opposition whose only cohesive policy appears to be “say no to everything Obama wants,” he seems to be making headway against most of the big issues that faced him when he came into office. If the GOP would stop playing politics and start (oh, I don’t know) trying to govern, we could be well on our way not only to recovery but to a truly remarkable time in America. But the GOP would rather foster unrest and encourage anger and hatred and doubt than do anything positive at this point in their existence.
Truly, that’s too bad. When I look at the sorry state of the Republican Party right now, I just feel sad. It has been taken over by its worst elements. You ask me to “vote conservative”? I don’t think I could if I even wanted to. True conservatives are hard to come by in this charade of “tea party” extremists. When Bob Bennett gets kicked out of the Senate by his constituents in Utah for not being “conservative” enough, the world is out of whack. When Charlie Crist and Arlen Spector can’t find a place any longer within the GOP, something is seriously wrong with the party of Lincoln. When John McCain has to stoop to picking Sarah Freaking Palin as a running mate to appease the ultra right wing knuckle-draggers in his own party and then agree to allow her to foment vitriol in rally after rally to the extent that things got so out of control that even he had to step in at one rally and set his voters straight, someone has lost all sense of propriety. When the party becomes the home of bigots and birthers and men who show up to Presidential rallies wearing weapons, sanity has left the building. When the State of Maine, which usually remains somewhat above the lunacy and which has (to its credit) the only two moderate Republicans still allowed to roam free, loses its collective mind and issues a political platform that is so utterly (as one writer put it) “batshit crazy” that at one point it actually demands that the State of Maine officially oppose any attempt to create a one-world government, the whole party has officially come unhinged. Talk about giving in to the conspiracy theorists. Why don’t they just mandate tin-foil hats?
The thing is that conservatism, true conservatism, is needed in this country. Just as yin needs yang, as dark needs light, as up needs down, so liberal needs conservative. Everything requires balance. Bush proved that. When the Dems were rolling over and playing dead, acquiescing to everything he asked for in his first term instead of using the fact that his majorities were slim to negotiate better bills, Bush rode roughshod over the Constitution, deceived us into an immoral and very costly war, became the king of the unfunded mandate, and spent years rewarding the richest people in the land and ignoring everyone else so that, just before everything went to hell, the gap between executive and worker pay was by far the largest it had ever been in history. The rich got richer and richer and the middle class and the poor could not make ends meet.
These were his legacies, Greg. His legacies, not Obama’s. Because he was a neocon, not a true conservative. I do not agree with conservatism, as you are well aware. But I respect it. It is honorable and sincere and those who believe in its philosophies truly have the best interests of America in mind when they run for offices under conservative banners. But the neocons? Uh uh. History will record–if they have not started us on an irreparable path to our own national destruction–that they were one of the greediest and most self-righteous groups of leaders ever, that their hypocrisy was matched only by their amorality, and that they presided over the systematic and intentional undermining of a system of checks and balances that had been in place since the Great Depression which, once gone, unleashed a torrent of cash into their coffers and aggressively destroyed the economy for everyone else.
Sadly, there would be no place in today’s GOP for any GOP President in American history save Bush and (maybe) Reagan. Pappy Bush would never make it. Nixon? He’s practically a liberal. Ford? Forget it. Ike? No way in hell. Do you what the taxes were like under Ike? The highest progressive tax rate was 90% for the income in the highest margins. 90%. Imagine that! And what did the poorest pay? Nothing.
Where is the party of these Presidents? Where is the party of William F. Buckley? Where is the party of Russell Kirk? Hell, Barry Goldwater, who was considered so outrageously conservative in 1964 that Lyndon Johnson’s voters actually believed the “daisy ad,” would be in the Democratic Party today. William Safire defined himself as a “libertarian conservative”; is there even room for that in today’s GOP?
This GOP has earned its “Party of No” moniker. John Boehner’s office actually began circulating templates opposing Obama’s SCOTUS nominee with “INSERT NAME” on them, the templates proclaiming (basically) the downfall of civilization as we know it if this nominee (whoever it happened to be apparently was unimportant) gets through. Despite the fact–the fact–that Obama has, from the outset, reached out to them time after time after time, angering his own constituents in the process by (in the opinion of many on the left) giving away the store before negotiations even start just to show his good faith, the GOP insists on maintaining the lie that he refuses to include them in anything. The health care bill is chock full of Republican ideas, but all you heard from them was “he’s shoving it down our throats.” The first thing Obama did in the Recovery bill was to agree to tax cuts despite the fact that Keynesian economics tells us that they are utterly counterproductive because it would, he thought, bring the GOP to the table. In the final Stim Bill, there were I think almost $200B in cuts. My taxes were lower this year; were yours? A study just today says that we are being taxed at the lowest rate since Truman. Good Lord! What does anyone have to complain about the job the government is doing with the little we are still giving them?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to give them more. I can’t afford to. But I’ll tell you what: unlike the idiots who took the Washington Metro to anti-government rallies to chant against all taxes and government interference in their daily lives (“but keep your hands off our Medicare!”) and then bitch about the long waits to get back home on the (government-run) trains, saying that someone should have put more cars on duty for the rallies, I understand what I am paying for. I am paying for the infrastructure of this nation. Much of it is old and crumbling and in desperate need of repair, and, yes, in need of our tax dollars to make those repairs happen. But I wouldn’t be driving on interstate highways with excellent police protection to places that won’t burn down because fire codes are strictly enforced where I can eat healthy food that I know won’t kill me because health codes too are enforced (and I could go on) if it were not for those tax dollars. That’s just the truth. And I for one would not wish to do without any of these things. And, seeing the excellent job that the banks and the insurance industries have done of keeping college and health costs down through good old fashioned capitalistic free enterprise, and watching the way Wall Street has consistently screwed the middle class while padding its pockets, even during the current crisis–even while taking taxpayer handouts!–I think I’d rather have the government in charge and take my chances.
(Oh, and before you say “but Medicare is a shambles,” just stop. It’s not. It’s just underfunded. Thank you, Bush tax cuts. There is a reason those tea partiers are holding those “hands off my medicare” signs, and it isn’t because they like crappy health care.)
I don’t usually bother trying to get you to see “my” side of the political argument, Greg. Frankly, it’s not worth it. You are an amazingly smart guy, but you’ve spent too many hours watching Fox News and believing that you are seeing something that actually is true. Heck, I think Rush Limbaugh has even begun to believe the garbage he spews into the ether, and he was perfectly willing to admit several years ago that he is, first and foremost, an entertainer. (FWIW, I don’t think that Ann Coulter believes a word she says. I think she is a huge hypocrite saying whatever she thinks will sell books, and she’s found a ready audience on Fox. She’s become such a caricature of herself that she simply cannot be taken seriously and, unlike Rush, she never was an entertainer, so there’s no excuse.)
But anyway, for whatever reason, I just thought I’d give this a shot, even if it falls on the deaf ears I suspect it will. You think I have swallowed Obama’s Kool-Aid and I’m just echoing the party line, but I’m not. It’s the Fox News types, the Tea Partiers, who have swallowed the Kool-Aid, and it really is poison. As for me, well, I question Obama all the time. I’m very unhappy with the fact that Guantanamo is still open, for instance. And I am deeply disturbed by the fact that he has not issued an Executive Order–as would be within his authority–halting execution of DADT until Congress can eliminate it. I think that at least one of these SCOTUS nominees should have been a flaming liberal; Bush did not hesitate to appoint ardent conservatives. I also think he appeases the GOP too much, especially when they have shown again and again that they are utterly unwilling to compromise in any way. My feeling is that he should just say “screw it” and use his Democratic majorities to forge powerful left-leaning legislation, just as Bush did on the other side with far smaller majorities (and even with a Senate tie): if the GOP doesn’t want a part in things, the heck with them. But he continues to be a statesman despite everything. And you know what? After eight years of having a class clown as President, I sort of like that.
I do hope that you have read this thoughtfully and recognize that I am, though unabashedly liberal, ardently in favor of a strong, thoughtful, rational opposition party. At this moment in time, the GOP is not that party. I fear that it is heading down a road from which it may not be able to recover for a very long time, if ever. When the Democrats were in a similar position–hijacked by their fringes–in the early 70′s, they turned inward, re-examined their priorities, and ended up nominating Jimmy Carter. You’ll argue that he was a disastrous President. I have two responses: first, it was circumstances, not policy, that caused the problems of the late 70′s, and anyone in the White House at that time would have been in the same boat. He was tremendously unlucky and, distrusted by the still very active fringes of the party, received little support in Congress. Second, because of the above, he lost in 1980, setting in motion both the ensuing twelve years of Republican rule and the rise of the neocons, which ultimately led to Bush and the near-destruction of the American economy. A party hijacked by its fringes fails. Even winning the Presidency in 1976 became a failure for the Democrats because those fringes within their party refused to let Carter govern, aligning themselves again and again with the GOP across the aisle. So the fringes caused what amounted to two decades of disaster for the party.
And I hate to say this, but the Democrats on the fringe, though clearly outside of the realm of political reality, stood for something morally good. They stood for basic human dignity and welfare, for equal rights for everyone, for helping those in need. What does the fringe of the right today stand for? Hatred and distrust. Hatred of Obama, hatred of gays, bigotry, anger, distrust of government, lack of faith in even the evidence right before their eyes that Obama is in fact a US citizen. I am worried that a party that gives in to this kind of fringe will implode, never to return. A new second party will emerge, perhaps the Libertarians, who are in a good position, but it would be a shame.
Abraham Lincoln is often cited as the standard bearer of the GOP. They like Teddy Roosevelt too. And Ike. But these guys would not recognize the party of today. And they sure as heck would not want to be a part of it.
But that’s OK: they wouldn’t be welcome if they did.
There’s only one political party in the entire world that is so inept, cowardly and bungling that it could manage to simultaneously lick the boots of Wall Street bankers and then get blamed by the voters for being flaming revolutionary socialists.
It’s the same party that has allowed the opposition to go on a thirty year scorched earth campaign, stealing everything in sight from middle and working class voters, and yet successfully claim to be protecting ‘real Americans’ from out-of-touch elites.
It’s the same party that could run a decorated combat hero against a war evader in 1972, only to be successfully labeled as national security wimps.
Just to be sure, it then did the exact same thing again in 2004.
It’s the same party that stood by silently while two presidential elections in a row were stolen away from them.
How ‘bout dem Dems, eh?
One year ago today, there was real question as to what could possibly be the future of the Republican Party in America. That’s changed a bit now.
And, speaking of ‘change’, the one kind that Barack Obama did actually deliver this year was not that which most voters had in mind after listening to him use the word incessantly, all throughout 2008. Obama and his colleagues have now managed to bring the future of the Democratic Party into question, just a year after it won two smashing victories in a row.
Personally, I’m not real bothered by that. Today’s Democrats are, almost without exception, embarrassing hacks who deserved to get stomped a long time ago.
What really upsets me, however, is what these fools have allowed to be done to the name of progressivism, and to the country.
Barack Obama has now, in just a year’s time, become the single most inept president perhaps in all of American history, and certainly in my lifetime. Never has so much political advantage been pissed away so rapidly, and what’s more in the context of so much national urgency and crisis. It’s astonishing, really, to contemplate how much has been lost in a single year.
It was hilarious, of course, when Michelle Bachmann invoked the Charge of the Light Brigade at a rally against “Obama’s” (has he ever really owned it?) health care “initiative” (isn’t that too strong a word to use?), quite oblivious to the fact that the actual historical event was one of history’s greatest debacles. Obama, on the other hand, seems to be actually reliving the famous cock-up in the flesh. Except, of course, that he doesn’t really “charge” at anything. He just talks about things, thinks about things a real long time, defers to others on things, and waits around for things to maybe happen.
This week, though, something actually did happen. Alas, not precisely what the president had in mind, however.
But the election in Massachusetts was only slightly less inevitable than the sun rising in the east each morning. It was the product of an amazing collection of abysmal choices and practices over the last year that has produced a meltdown of equally amazing proportions for this president and his party. It is fitting that it comes on the anniversary of the president’s inauguration, a moment filled with so much hope for so many just a year ago.
What has Obama – this Conan O’Brien of presidents – done wrong in order to produce this devastating outcome? The short answer is: Just about everything imaginable.
* He does not lead. Americans, especially in times of crisis, want their daddy-president to pick a point on the horizon and lead them to it. Often – especially in the short term – they don’t even care that much which point it is. They will happily follow a president whose policies they oppose if he will but lead.
* And if he will demonstrate some conviction. I have never seen a president so utterly lacking in passion. This man literally doesn’t even seem to care about himself, let alone this or that policy issue. He doesn’t seem to have any strong opinions on anything, a sure prescription for presidential failure.
* He has therefore let Congress ‘lead’ on nearly every issue, another surefire mistake. Instead of demanding that they pass real stimulus legislation – which would have really stimulated the economy, big-time, and right now – he let those dickheads on the Hill just load up a big pork party blivet of a bill with all the pet projects they could find, designed purely to benefit their personal standing with the voters at home, rather than to actually produce jobs for Americans. And on health care, his signature issue, he did the same thing. “You guys write it, and I’ll sign the check.” Could there possibly be a greater prescription for failure than allowing a bunch of the most venal people on the planet to cobble together a 2,000 page monstrosity that entirely serves their interests and those of the people whose campaign bribes put them in office?
* Well, yes, now that you mention it. If you really want to bring your government crashing to the ground, why not spend endless months negotiating with vicious thugs, who will never vote for your legislation anyhow, because they are so entirely devoted to your destruction that they’re willing to call you a granny murderer? What a great and winning strategy!
* Another possible strategic move even stupider than deferring to Congress to write major legislation is to cozy up with the least popular people on the planet – including, in fact, the real-life granny killers. Got an economy that is so raw it’s leaving thousands in literal peril of losing their lives? Why not draft some legislation to bail-out the people who created that mess and guarantee that they retain their multimillion dollar bonuses?!?! You know, the same folks who are always talking about how great capitalism is and how important it is to take risks! The same ones who are always telling us how awful the government is – the same government that saved them from extinction. Those folks. That’s right, bail out with outrageous bonuses the very people who need it least and who caused billions of people around the planet to suffer, while leaving everyone else to fend for themselves! That’ll raise your presidential job approval ratings every time! And while you’re at it, bring in the much beloved health insurance and pharmaceutical corporate lobbyists, and negotiate a deal with them to craft your high profile health care legislation! What voter can’t get behind that?
* Another brilliant presidential tactic is to be such a Mr. Happy Nice Face that you acknowledge no enemies for the country, or even yourself. Not the health care corporate vampires who suck the blood out of Americans from San Diego to Bangor, providing absolutely no value-added health service whatsoever, while denying treatment to deathly ill human beings at every opportunity, all to rake in billions more in profits. Not the reckless pirates on Wall Street who bet all our money on insane gambles that wrecked the global economy, took government bail-out money to survive, and yet are still drowning in bonuses as rewards. Not the Republican Party who spent three decades downsizing the middle class, plunging the country into wars based on lies, deregulating every protection in sight, fattening up corporate cronies, wrecking the environment, trashing the Constitution and polarizing the country politically. And not even a catastrophic climate disaster speeding toward the planet with relentless determination. No! We must all be happy and talk nice! No bad guys. Not even the bad guys can be bad guys.
* While you’re at it, if you’re trying to run the most failed presidency ever, a really good idea is to campaign in the grandest terms possible, and then deliver squat. You know, talk about bending the arc of history. Invoke Martin Luther King’s dream and his struggles and even those of the slaves. Ring the big bells of generational calling. Remind voters every thirty seconds that the country badly needs “Change!”. Then get elected and turn around and continue the policies of your hated predecessor in every meaningful policy area. Only with less conviction. People will love that.
* A related brilliant move is to mobilize a giant army of passionate volunteers dedicated to putting you in the White House, and then do nothing with them once you get there, other than taking them completely for granted and never calling upon them to do anything in support of your agenda. Be sure to deflate their enthusiasm in every way possible.
* Even more importantly, if you’re trying to run your presidency into the ground you’ll definitely want to avoid mobilizing the general public behind your agenda. To make sure that you don’t repeat the great legislative victories of FDR or LBJ or (unfortunately) Reagan or (really unfortunately) Little Bush, never use their method of appealing directly to the people. Never express your legislative program as a moral imperative, a great calling to the nation. Never attempt to rally the public behind your cause. Never express any urgency. And never call upon them to demand that Congress pass your bills. Then, you can rest assured they won’t!
* And let’s take it up a whole ‘nuther level, while we’re on the subject. A successful president is one who articulates a strong and compelling narrative for the nation. So, in your quest to avoid rising even to mediocrity, be sure to leave a great big gaping canyon where that whole narrative thing is supposed to go. No New Deal, no Great Society, no New Frontier or War on Terror for you. Nope! Just a thousand little projects with little non-solutions to big problems. Hey, why not inject yourself into Cambridge, Massachusetts community police politics while you’re at it! Or the New York State Democratic Party gubernatorial primary! Or you could deliberate for weeks about which breed of dog to get for your kids! That’s a great use of the president’s political capital!
* As long as you’re walking away from the grand narrative, why not let the opposition define you as well? Let them say anything imaginable about you, and never respond. You’re a socialist! No, you’re a fascist! No, you’re both! At the same time, no less! You’re a granny killer! You’re not really even an American! You’re taking over the US for the Muslims! You’re a massive taxer and spender! You’re running around the world, apologizing for America everywhere you go! No worries. Just remember the golden rule, and your presidency is sure to sink: Never engage, never respond, never preempt, never attack, never fight back.
* In general, you’ll also want to take the most important power the president has – the bully pulpit – and totally piss it away. Appear everywhere at once, all the time, saying lots of nice words, about a thousand different issues. But never with passion, never with compelling simplicity, never with repetition, and never with urgency. Pretty soon you’ll turn being everywhere into being nowhere. Everyone one will tune out your ubiquitous self. Give up the high moral ground which is the most important asset of the office you hold, and you’ll make sure that no one ever listens to you anymore. You will persuade the public of nothing. Except that you are irrelevant.
* But you can do better still. Help your enemies, so that they can crush you more effectively! Start by not even realizing they are your enemies. Then, treat them with greater respect than your friends, even though they’ve run the country over a cliff. Defer to them at every opportunity. Consult with them even as they insult you to your face. Allow them to run Congress, even though they have small minorities in both houses. Never force them to vote against simple, popular legislation. Never call their bluffs. Never associate them with the destruction they’ve caused. Never label them the treasonous hypocritical liars that they are. Help them to resuscitate the comatose near-corpse of their political party, just before it’s about to die, so it can rise up and savage you.
* Another great trick for crashing a presidency is to pick all the wrong priorities to ‘fight’ for. Imagine, for example, if FDR had substituted for his ‘Day of Infamy’ speech right after Pearl Harbor a ringing call for an American revolution in cobbler technology! Yes, that’s right, in response to the devastating surprise attack by the armed forces of the Empire of Japan, what if the president urgently called upon us all to start making really amazing shoes?! Before it’s too late, and we all get blisters on our feet! Similarly, Mr. Obama, your spending the last year on (jive) health care and jetting around the world dipping your toes into foreign policy problems while Americans are losing their jobs and their houses is a fine way to kill your presidency. Guaranteed to work every time.
* And, finally, perhaps the most important thing one can do – and the thing that helps explain many of the other items above – is to adopt really, really pathetic policies. If you’re doing a stimulus bill, for example, make sure that it’s too little money, not targeted at real stimulative levers in the economy, costs a lot, doesn’t kick in for a year or two, gives away about a third of the money to ineffective pet projects for Republican while none of them vote for it anyhow, and leaves the unemployment rate stuck at a miserable ten percent. Or, if you’re doing a bail-out of the banks for the purpose of producing the liquidity essential to restarting the economy, let them take bonuses as big as they want, and don’t actually require that they loan out to anyone the money you’ve given them. Or, how about spending nearly all your political capital on ‘health care’ legislation, which is really an insurance company boondoggle bill instead? That’s really what the people want, eh? No wonder Obama’s not out there writing the narrative, fighting the good fight or crushing his enemies. Even he can’t get excited about his own priorities, so extraordinarily abysmal are they.
All of this represents the best prescription I can imagine for wrecking a presidency, and Obama has followed it with exacting precision. Indeed, doing so would appear to be his only real passion. It’s almost as if he were a Republican sleeper politician in some party politics version of the Manchurian Candidate, planted to arise on cue and destroy the Democratic Party from within.
And thus – while anything’s possible, of course – I am hard pressed to see how the Obama administration is anything but finished. Consider his options from here.
He could turn to the right, like Clinton did in 1994. But the first problem is that he’s already there. If you look carefully at his policies, he is basically running George Bush’s third term. Regressives (conveniently) forget that. They call him weak on national security, even while he dramatically escalates the war in Afghanistan, hardly draws down in Iraq, breaks his own promise to close Gitmo, and smashes through the $700 billion mark in military spending for the first time, not even counting Afghanistan’s costs. They ignore his Bush-cloned policies on state secrets, renditions, executive power and other civil liberties issues. They forget that Bush’s health care bill was far more socialistic and far more fiscally irresponsible than Obama’s, and that his bail-outs and stimulus actions were almost identical. So, in short, for Obama to turn to starboard at this point would literally require him to outflank the GOP to its right. Moreover, the Limbaughs and Becks and Palins would still excoriate him, no matter what. Worse still, such policies would only make the lives of ordinary Americans a lot worse, just as they have been doing for thirty years now. So what could be gained by a turn to the right?
Second, he could go small-bore, as Clinton also did in the 1990s. But, of course, these aren’t the 1990s. FDR didn’t win four terms during a Great Depression and a world war by focusing on school uniforms and V-chips. This is not the 1930s or 1940s, but it’s close. People are hurting, frightened and angry. Obama is suffering badly already because he is not addressing their very tangible concerns. More of the same policy-wise will produce more of the same politically. Going this route, he’d be lucky if the public was kind enough to let him finish his single term as a James Buchanan wannabe, then go home.
The obvious solution, of course, would be a sharp turn to the left. Go where the real solutions are. Fight the good fight. Call liars ‘liars’ and thieves ‘thieves’. Do the people’s business. Become their advocate against the monsters bleeding them dry. Create jobs. Build infrastructure. Do real national health care. End the wars. Dramatically slash military spending. Produce actual educational reform. Launch a massive green energy/jobs program. Get serious about global warming. Kick ass on campaign finance reform. Fight for gay rights. Restore the New Deal era regulatory framework and expand it. Restore a fair taxation structure. Rewrite trade agreements that undermine American jobs. Rebuild unions. Fill the spate of vacancies in the federal judiciary, and load those seats up with progressives. Rally the public to demand that Congress act on your agenda. Humiliate the regressives in and out of the GOP for their abysmal sell-out policies.
All of this could be done, and most of it would be very popular, especially if it was backed by an aggressive and righteously angry Oval Office advocate for the people who knew how to use the bully pulpit to shape the narrative, to market ideas, and to mobilize public support.
But I doubt Obama has anything like the constitution for that sort of presidency. I think his personal disposition is so strongly controlling of his politics that he would rather preside as a three year lame-duck over a failed one-term presidency, than actually throw an elbow or two and make anyone uncomfortable. Think how unpleasant it would be.
Moreover, by blundering during the only chance he’ll ever have at introducing his presidency, he’s now created an additional set of problems for himself which may well be insurmountable, even if he were to now try to live up to his campaign billing. He needs Democratic votes in Congress to do much of anything, but they’re all focused on the looming tsunami of next November. The very same people who might have swallowed hard and reluctantly followed the lead of inspirational new president Obama one year ago, today will join everyone else in the world and spit in the eye of useless, feeble, washed-up Barack. He’s got zero leverage over his own party in Congress now. As for the public, it’s gonna be pretty hard to now market himself as the great enemy of the people’s enemies, when he’s just finished a year of making secret sweetheart deals that benefit Wall Street bankers, health insurance pirates, and pharmaceutical predators, all while leaving his own base and the public he’s supposed to be serving out in the rain. Politicians can reinvent themselves, but you need time and there are certain limits of plausibility that cannot be ignored, any more than you can ignore the laws of physics.
Of course, I don’t give a shit about Barack Obama anymore, other than my desire that really ugly things happen to him as payment in kind for the grandest act of betrayal we’ve seen since Benedict Arnold did his thing. But what about the country?
Not so good there, either, I’m afraid. What happens when you have two parties to choose from, and one of them wrecks the country with dramatically evil policies so radical even backward America hates them, but then you turn to the other party, which spends an entire year on the campaign trail promising change, only to turn out nearly identical to the first lot when in government? What do you do?
One option is to find another party. To some extent that is happening, but absolutely not where it should be. The tea partyers are the ‘alternative’ vision for salvation in today’s America. (Very) unfortunately, they are not alternative in any sense, have almost no coherent vision whatsoever, and – as the possible third right-wing party for voters to choose from, out of three, obviously offer zero salvation whatsoever. All the tea party lunatics seem to know is that they don’t like taxes and they don’t like federal spending. But they can’t even tell you what they’d cut if they actually controlled the government. My guess is that it would be nothing, just like the Republicans before them, or else they’d slash entitlement spending, which would surely make them one of the flashiest flashes ever to get royally panned by the public.
The other option, which the voters are now exercising, is to continue a process begun in 2006 of voting for the party which is not the party in power. Today, that means Republicans, as witnessed in Virginia, New Jersey and now Massachusetts. The absurdity of this, of course, is that it was these exact same people who created this astonishingly thorough mess we find ourselves in. What is Mitch McConnell or John Boehner or Sarah Palin going to do for Americans who don’t have jobs? Cut taxes they no longer pay (and thus also further increase the national debt, by the way)? What will they do for those same folks who’ve lost their health insurance? Kill Democratic plans, even when they’re nothing but corporate giveaways anyhow?
Americans will simply be more sick, more broke and more unemployed two, four or six years from now than they are at this moment, if they put the Republicans back in control of the government.
Of course, there’s one other possibility, which is that this time the Cheney Party goes balls-to-the-wall, bringing down on our heads a full-on fascist dictatorship, serving corporate interests in total, and likely launching a couple of good wars abroad to complement the complete repression of dissent and freedom of expression at home.
Ridiculous? I try pretty hard every day – and it takes some work – to keep my most apocalyptic totalitarian nightmares for this country in check. But think about this chronological sequence for a second: The Democrats get killed in November for doing nothing while the public suffers. But they are still seen as the party in power in 2012, so they get killed even worse, with Obama sent packing and Palin or her equivalent moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But the new radical GOP regime’s policies are even more detrimental to voters than Bush’s or Obama’s. Maybe the public is distracted for a year or two by some bullshit foreign policy ‘crisis’ or another, but pretty soon they’re getting real restless. After about six years now of suffering badly, they’re getting real surly, and ‘anti-incumbent’ doesn’t begin to describe the mood of the country. Now they really want some serious change.
Of course, anything can happen – but which part of that sequence seems improbable? And if the answer is none, then the salient question becomes: What does the regime do at that point, faced with an angry mob? What are the Dick Cheneys and Sarah Palins of this world committed to? What are they capable of when pressed?
I don’t think those questions really require a response. I think we all know pretty well the answers.
This is the country that Obama – the great Hope guy – is bequeathing us.
Dante said “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality”.
Better stock up on the mist sprayers, Barack.
State programs intended to help disabled and elderly Alaskans with daily life — taking a bath, eating dinner, getting to the bathroom — are so poorly managed, the state cannot assure the health and well-being of the people they are supposed to serve, a new federal review found.
The situation is so bad the federal government has forbidden the state to sign up new people until the state makes necessary improvements. No other state in the nation is under such a moratorium, according to a spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
In the meantime, frail and vulnerable Alaskans who desperately need the help are struggling. One elderly woman is stuck in a nursing home, for lack of care at home. Another woman, suffering from chronic pain and fatigue, said she’s so weak, she often can’t even pop dinner into the microwave.
This is the GOP’s alternative to a public or universal option. Sarah wants to talk about evil socialist plans that will kill people, but I betcha she doesn’t want to talk about the hundreds of Alaskans who died waiting for these services.
A particularly alarming finding concerns deaths of adults in the programs. In one 2 1/2 year stretch, 227 adults already getting services died while waiting for a nurse to reassess their needs. Another 27 died waiting for their initial assessment, to see if they qualified for help. Read on…
In honor of the people of Alaska who died on her watch, Sarah Palin needs to stop makin’ stuff up about health care reform, and apologize for screwing things up and then running away when the going got tough.
Don’t talk to me about death panels, Sarah Palin.
You, who so carelessly bolstered a lie about healthcare reform to score a cheap political point; you, the most craven of political opportunists, who fearmongers about some dystopian socialist/fascist fantasyland; you, who earlier this year were only too happy to accept free medical, dental and veterinary care from the U.S. military for Alaska’s remote villages; you, dear lady, are an idiot.
In your free market wonderland everyone somehow manages to get healthcare, even those who are poor or live in isolated areas, though the poor and isolated in your own state required assistance from the federal government.
And despite all of this, you appear blithely unaware that the free market healthcare system we have now does, indeed, have “death panels.” I’ve been part of a death panel conversation. I know about death panels.
You have no idea what it’s like to be called into a sterile conference room with a hospital administrator you’ve never met before and be told that your mother’s insurance policy will only pay for 30 days in ICU. You can’t imagine what it’s like to be advised that you need to “make some decisions,” like whether your mother should be released “HTD” which is hospital parlance for “home to die,” or if you want to pay out of pocket to keep her in the ICU another week. And when you ask how much that would cost you are given a number so impossibly large that you realize there really are no decisions to make. The decision has been made for you. “Living will” or no, it doesn’t matter. The bank account and the insurance policy have trumped any legal document.
If this isn’t a “death panel” I don’t know what is.
So don’t talk to me about “death panels” you heartless, cruel, greedy sons of bitches, who are only too happy to keep the profits rolling in to the big insurance companies while you spout your mealy-mouthed bumper sticker slogans about the evils of socialism. You don’t even know what socialism is. You don’t know what government healthcare is. You have no fucking clue about anything except that you lost the last election and you’re pissed off.
You are young. Your parents are still alive. You don’t know enough to take any of this seriously. It’s all an exercise in political theater for you. But that will change. We all get older. The time will arrive, someday, when you are tasked with caring for someone you love who is seriously ill. You will be ushered in to that sterile hospital conference room with an administrator you do not know, where you are told to “make plans” for a day you never hoped to see. And then you will get your education.
If on that day you still think the healthcare system we have now is fabulous and worth lying, cheating and threatening people to maintain, I can only conclude that you lack even the tiniest grain of a soul.
In the world of Palin Wack-a-Mole, you need steroids to win. Facebook press releases seem to come on Fridays. Yesterday was no different. This week’s word salad had the crazy dressing on the side; a link to Michele Bachmann’s health care rant. The crap croutons had quote marks around them; “death panel,” and “level of productivity in society.”
If you ever needed proof our current health care is deficient, or for that matter, our education system, try to make sense out of either woman’s position. For all the fear mongering and “bearing false witness” as this is:
“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”
As weirdly elitist as this:
“I commend her for being a voice for the most precious members of our society, our children and our seniors.”
And as “grab your torches and pitch forks” this is:
“Let’s stop and think and make our voices heard before it’s too late.”
There is a much bigger problem. Sarah Palin has a history of fudging about health care.
While being vetted by the McCain camp:
At one point, trying out a debating point that she believed showed she could empathize with uninsured Americans, Palin told McCain aides that she and Todd in the early years of their marriage had been unable to afford health insurance of any kind, and had gone without it until he got his union card and went to work for British Petroleum on the North Slope of Alaska. Checking with Todd Palin himself revealed that, no, they had had catastrophic coverage all along. She insisted that catastrophic insurance didn’t really count and need not be revealed. This sort of slipperiness — about both what the truth was and whether the truth even mattered — persisted on questions great and small.
During the vice-presidential debate, Palin stated:
About times and Todd and our marriage in our past where we didn’t have health insurance and we know what other Americans are going through as they sit around the kitchen table and try to figure out how are they going to pay out-of-pocket for health care? We’ve been there also so that connection was important.
WHAT? There are 228 federally recognized tribes in Alaska. According to the Indian Health Services website:
IHS-funded, tribally-managed hospitals are located in Anchorage, Barrow, Bethel, Dillingham, Kotzebue, Nome and Sitka. There are 37 tribal health centers, 166 tribal community health aide clinics and five residential substance abuse treatment centers. The Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage is the state-wide referral center and gatekeeper for specialty care. Other health promotion/disease prevention programs that are state-wide in scope are operated by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), which is managed by representatives of all Alaska tribes.
Todd Palin’s heritage as an Alaskan Native was a curiosity to many during the 2008 campaign.
According to public disclosure forms that Sarah Palin filed with the state of Alaska, her husband and their children are BBNC (Bristol Bay Native Corporation) shareholders, meaning they would likely qualify for the health service program.
So between Todd’s union job insurance, the governor’s state coverage and the FEDERALLY FUNDED health care through Native blood, when did the Palins ever sit around the kitchen table and discuss their “out-of-pocket” health care costs? There are millions of people who don’t have ANY options to provide for the health care needs of themselves or their children, let alone THREE!
And that’s just the personal hypocrisy.
While under contract to govern the state of Alaska, Palin’s administration failed to keep up on the state’s Medicaid obligations and was ordered to cease signing up new patients. No other state in the country had been put under such a moratorium, according to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
July 14, 2009 ADN:
A particularly alarming finding concerns deaths of adults in the programs. In one 2 1/2 year stretch, 227 adults already getting services died while waiting for a nurse to reassess their needs. Another 27 died waiting for their initial assessment, to see if they qualified for help.
Doctors and other health care providers wrote to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid with concerns that the state wasn’t responsive. Some alleged that the lack of state controls “has resulted in the death(s) of the active clients,” the federal review said.
While the people served are frail and suffer from chronic health issues, the state never investigated to determine if any failure in service contributed to the deaths, the federal review found.
Seriously, when are we going to stop electing people who say “the government is bad”? Once elected, they do everything they can to prove it. It can only be one of two things; incompetency or sabotage. Either way, Alaskans have died due to a lack of health care.
The point of this post is not to point out the never ending hypocrisy of Sarah Palin. Nor is it to point out the blatant lies of one person — but how the intention, manipulation and lies of one person can affect the lives ordinary people.
Perhaps Citizen Palin should take her own advice, “honor the American soldier”, “Quit makin’ things up” and “leave the kids alone.”
Political operatives descended on Alaska last August, digging for dirt. The ethics law I championed became their weapon of choice. Over the past nine months I’ve been accused of all sorts of frivolous ethics violations – such as holding a fish in a photograph, wearing a jacket with a logo on it, and answering reporters’ questions.
Every one – all 15 of the ethics complaints have been dismissed. We’ve won! But it hasn’t been cheap – the State has wasted THOUSANDS of hours of YOUR time and shelled out some two million of YOUR dollars to respond to “opposition research” – that’s money NOT going to fund teachers or troopers – or safer roads. And this political absurdity, the “politics of personal destruction” … Todd and I are looking at more than half a million dollars in legal bills in order to set the record straight. And what about the people who offer up these silly accusations? It doesn’t cost them a dime so they’re not going to stop draining public resources – spending other peoples’ money in their game.
There’s actually a number of errors of fact in this brief passage of Palin’s speech, but this post will be long enough if I focus on the one I’ve emphasized: Palin’s claim that $2,000,000 taxpayer (or rather, oil revenue dollars — this is Alaska, after all) have been spent on responding to ethical complaints against Palin.
Problem? Just two days before, on July 1, the Anchorage Daily News, the Juneau Empire, and the Associated Press all reported on figures released by the Alaska Personnel Board about the actual costs of its investigations into ethical complaints against Palin & members of her administration. The costs were considerably less than what Palin claims: $296,042.58. Big difference.