Thursday, September 30

Village Voice: White America Has Lost It's Mind

And after actually reading this 5 page article by Steven Thrasher which accurately lists numerous incidents of lunacy from Birtherism to the Grand ACORN Hoax, from the Great White Stampede to protect the Honor and Wisdom of Dr. "N-gger N-gger N-gger" Laura to Fox Disinformation Channel's New Black Panther Freak-out, from Andrew Breitbart's Slander of Shirley Sherrod to Mark William's Demented Letters to Lincoln - White Americans seemed to be losing their mind.

A bit from the article itself.

As with other forms of dementia, the signs weren't obvious at first. After the 2008 election, when former House majority leader Tom DeLay suggested that instead of a formal inauguration, Barack Obama should "have a nice little chicken dinner, and we'll save the $125 million," black folks didn't miss the implication. References to chicken, particularly of the fried variety, have long served as a kind of code when white folks referred to black people and their gustatory preferences—and weren't many of us already accustomed to older white politicians making such gaffes? But who among us sensed that it was a harbinger that an entire nation was plunging into madness?

Admittedly I hadn't heard about that one, but after a two years campaigning in the wake of Reverend Wrong and Barack supposedly "Palling Around with a Domestic Terrorist(s)" (who by the way had never been charged or prosecuted for anything) it shouldn't be a surprise.

Seemed like that, didn't it? After all, what was the beef? Obama's father was Kenyan, and the kid was born in Hawaii—which is barely a part of the United States to begin with (only a state in 1959!). His mother was white, and after the Kenyan guy left, she married an Indonesian guy, so little Barack lived in Jakarta for a while before coming back to Hawaii to be brought up largely by his white grandparents. . . . And that's it? Come on, this was after-school-special material, the kind of thing that brings a tear to your eye because little half-Kenyan/half-white Barry made good, not the stuff of conspiracy novels.

And then came the Birthers.

But the more you shook your head at it, the more it seemed to have taken root deep in the lizard part of the white nervous system. Obama is not an American. He says he's Christian, but he has a Muslim-sounding name. He's not black, he's not white. . . . Is . . . is he even human?

Today, Newsweek has found, nearly a quarter of Americans believe that Obama is a Muslim, with barely 42 percent of the nation accepting his claim that he's a Christian. CNN finds that a quarter of Americans also believe that Obama was "probably or definitely" born in another country.

Harris found in an online poll that 14 percent of Americans believe in their hearts that President Barack Obama is the antichrist, with nearly a quarter of Republicans saying so.

At least in this form, however, Satan (sometimes) wears a flag pin.

Now the article itself is great and full of snark and self-depreciation as it goes from one categorical example of abject insanity to another - however it hasn't really been taken in the same spirit by those it attempts to lampoon. From Steven's own twitter.

@Steven_Thrasher Crazy white people are emailing me crazy shit to prove they're not crazy. Not working. Lots of nice emails, too.

@Steven_Trasher White folks used to shy away from candidates who e-mailed pictures of a woman being fucked by a horse, didn't they?

@Steven_Thrasher Love that people scream with authority thatt I'm obviously white or obviously black. We bi's keep them on their toes!

@Steven_Thrasher People have been calling our receptionist to ask if I'm black.

@Steven_Thrasher Want to read my hate mail? My colleague analyzes it at the Voice Institute of Crazy White American Folk

And those letters are something...

​Hear now, boy: This week's Village Voice's cover story by staff writer Steven Thrasher, an essay entitled White America Has Lost Its Mind, sure has attracted some interesting attention! Whether or not readers agree with what we have to say, we often get letters from them regarding our stories, many of which are exciting, substantial, or, at the very least, rational, nuanced, and psychologically stable. These letters are none of those things.

Patient #1: Tim Timmermans of Manassas, VA.

From: Tim Timmermans []
Sent: Wed 9/29/2010 5:25 PM
To: Thrasher, Steven
Subject: your article

Is a temper tantrum. You and your party are about a month away from getting the ass kicking your father should have given you had he been interested enough in his kids to have been around. [...] Here's a suggestion. Get out of NYC for a week or two, and see the real America. We don't hate you because you're black or gay. We hate you because you are a racist, self loathing pile of crap who believes everyone is against them when in reality we just don't care about you. BTW, your father is a great man as much as Obama is a great president. Just because you think it doesn't mean it's true.

Timothy J. Timmermans
Chief Estimator
Paramount Mechanical
Ph. (703) 369-xxxx
Fx. (703) 369-xxxx

Diagnosis: Patient exhibits classic signs of rotting mid-cortex and inability to process concepts of irony, intentional hyperbole. Patient is also exhibiting widely documented delusion phenomenon of doctor/patient transference and confusion of roles, prescribing attending clinician trip to imaginary land where New York City and the rest of America are sovereign nation-states at war.

Recommended treatment: 1,000 milligrams of Popeye's Spicy Chicken, three times a day, with biscuits, and week of in-patient treatment spent caddying for Fuzzy Zoeller.

Patient #2: ""

From: []
Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 7:08 PM
To: Thrasher, Steven
Subject: Howdy

You racist fuck. Like to use the term white boy a lot huh? Well how about this black boy.... go fuck yourself. Regarding your recent article... sounds like you're the one all gunched up with fear. I could smell it right from the page. Did I tell you to go fuck yourself? Oh yeah I guess I did. Have a great day now you silly little racist black boy.

Diagnosis: Patient has deluded self into thinking olfactory senses are superhuman, has strong desire to watch African-American men masturbate without discretion.

Recommended treatment: "Black Dick."

Crazy people talking Crazy to prove their not crazy - YOU'Re the one that's crazy. And all Steven really wanted was a Pepsi?

Can it get any sweeter than that?


Meg Whitman's Big Fat White Lie

When confronted with the fact that her house keeper for 9 years had been an illegal immigrant CA Candidate for Governor Meg Whitman pleaded ignorance. She claimed she knew nothing about it, that the house keeper had left her a year ago to find a better job - that she and her husband had never been informed.

She Lied.

The House keeper argues that Whitman knew all about her status years ago.

Nicky Diaz Santillan has claimed that Whitman knew she was an illegal immigrant during the nine years she worked for the former eBay CEO.

The Social Security Administration supposedly sent Whitman a letter questioning Santillan's Social Security number, but Whitman says neither she nor her husband received a letter.

The letter has handwriting on it from Whitman's husband, showing that he read the letter and gave it to "Nicky" the housekeeper.

Now all the letter required was that they verify the information, not take any action.

"This letter does not imply that you or your employee intentionally provided incorrect information about the employee's name or SSN. It is not a basis, in and of itself, for you to take any adverse action against the employee, such as layoff off, suspending, firing or discriminating against the individual. Any employer that uses the information in this letter to justify taking action against an employee may violate state or federal law and be subject to legal consequences."

The issue isn't that they didn't take action when they received the letter, it's that they are completely denying they received it when it's clear they did.
Whitman has even gone so far as to accuse Nicky of stealing the letter, when it's clear her husband gave it too her - in order to finish filling it out and send it back.

But the story actually get's worse as Nicky details how Whitman exploited her illegal status to abuse and exploit her.

Diaz said she worked as an undocumented worker for Whitman from 2000 to 2009 and was not paid for all the hours she put in. She also alleges Whitman knew her immigration status, but kept her on staff anyway.

"Throughout her employment with Ms. Whitman, Nicky was undocumented. And she alleges Ms. Whitman was aware of her status," Allred said Wednesday.

Diaz claims Whitman fired her last year for political reasons after she decided to run for governor. Whitman fired Diaz two months after she announced her campaign for governor.

"In short, it was a nightmare, and the way that Nicky was treated by her employer, Ms. Whitman, caused Nicky to feel exploited, disrespected, humiliated, and emotionally and financially abused," Allred said during a news conference.

Whitman used her, then threw her away when she decided she needed to look "presentable" and run for Governor.

If the U.S. didn't allow a mere 60,000 H2B Visas per year for non-technical blue color "seasonal" workers to enter the country legally, so many people who wish to come here and get a job wouldn't have to Run for the Border. Nicky could have entered legally and after working here for 9 years, could have either had her green card or been naturalized - but then she would also have Rights and Whitman couldn't keep her under her thumb.

More on this from Lawrence.

This is the true face of illegal immigration, someone who yes did defy (a grossly unfair and biased) law to have an opportunity at a better life - then worked themselves down to the bone in constant fear of being discovered, unable to complain about poor pay, poor conditions or long hours. Everything the Stephen Colbert described this week to the House Committee - is in fact true.

Like the Story of one worker who collapsed after working for hours in 105 degree heat, and instead of being taken to the Hospital his employer had his son drive him home where he died of heatstroke.

But you'll never see big monied selfish officious jack-holes like Whitman ever admit their part in this process.


Exploiting Fear in The Power of Nightmares

The Politics of Fear: The BBC special describes how Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago and Egyptian Syyid Qotb each simultaneous began the Neo-Conservative Movement, and Radical Wahhabist Islam as methods to manipulate and control the masses, but instead became the converging paths on a road to mutual destruction.

You see the big flaw in America/Western Culture according to both Strauss and Qotb is our individualism. Our Freedom. Or Greed, Selfishness and lack of desire for a common purpose. Qotb felt this common purpose should be a devotion to Islam, and after visiting the United States to review our educational system returned to Egypt to begin thinktank of Islamic thinker, who eventually become more and more radicalized until they attempted to overthrow the government, were imprisoned, tortured and eventually executed - but not for influencing other Islamic thinker such as Ahyman al Zawahiri, the eventually mentor of Osama Bin Laden.

Strauss similarly influenced his contemporaries including Irvin Kristol, reacted to the Great Society arguing that it was an "abject failure".

Irvin Kristol: (The Liberals) had their reforms, and they have led to consequences they did not expect and have no answer for.

The crime and strife of the 60's and early 70's couldn't have been the result of an unreasonable War and restrictive regressive policies of division and exclusion - No, it had to be those Liberals, and all those damn Peace Loving, Anti-Discriminatory HIPPIES fault.

Other similar travelers, using Strauss's thoughts on anti-indiviudalism to answer Kristol, which included his son William, Paul Wolfowitz, Francis Fukiyama and of course, Donald Rumsfeld.

Part 2 focuses on the Rise of Reagan, the eventual Fall of Afghanistan, and the Phantom Victory over the Cold War

So interesting that President Reagan dedicated the crashed Space Shuttle Columbia to the Afganistan Freedom Fighters.

In part 6 you'll see a very young looking David Brock arguing vehemently that then President Bill Clinton had perpetrated a sexual assault against Paula Jones - but Brock realizing that he had become part of the Scaif funded "Arkansas Project" eventually rejected the destructive practices of the Right, and has since gone on for found Media Matters.

This is what he says now...

Brock: They didn't care (if any of it was true). It was terrorism, political terrorism.

The last section address the rise of Bin Laden, become the perfect tool and foil for the Neo-Cons now regaining power with the Election of George W. Bush who supposedly represented the "Return of Honor" to the White House following the (mostly falsified) scandals of Bill Clinton.

When originally broadcast by the BBC this special very nearly prevented Tony Blair from joining in the War on Iraq - nearly, but not quite.

Quite an informative piece on the Neo-Cons, the Religious Right and Radical Islam. It's always good to know your enemies at least as well, if not better, than they know themselves.

We can still see the techniques of Strauss in the constant propaganda of the Fox Disinformation Network. The constant drumbeat of Fear of Socialism, Marxism, Islamicism, Secularism coming from Fox, filtered through the Tea Party and back into wacked-out radical candidates such as Sharron Angle (who rails against the government while living on the government dole), Christine O'Donnell (who hasn't met a gratuitous self-aggrandizing LIE she didn't love), Joe Miller (who wants to cut the Social Security and Medicare his own parents depend on), Meg Whiteman (whose tossed her own former illegal immigrant maid under the bus) and Karl Paladino (who threatened to take out a HIT on a reporter).

We can't allow this fear-mongering to continue to rip our country apart.


America Crumbling

This weekend the History Channel debuted an amazing special on America Crumbling Infrastructure.

Much of America's interstate highways system, dams, bridges and electrical grid were built over 50 years ago, and intended to last - just 50 years. As a result this infrastructure is rapidly beginning to deteriorate, rust, corrode, and fall apart. And even after the Levee failure of Katrina, the collapse of the I-35 bridge, the Great NorthEast Blackout, we remain blissfully and dangerously unaware of just how much risk we're living with on a daily basis.

THE HISTORY CHANNEL: America’s infrastructure is collapsing. Tens of thousands of bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. A third of the nation’s highways are in poor or mediocre shape. Massively leaking water and sewage systems are creating health hazards and contaminating rivers and streams. Weakened and under-maintained levees and dams tower over communities and schools. And the power grid is increasingly maxed out, disrupting millions of lives and putting entire cities in the dark. The Crumbling of America explores these problems using expert interviews, on location shooting and computer generated animation to illustrate the kinds of infrastructure disasters that could be just around the bend.

The worst situation discussed in the special is the water seepage into the Wolf Creek Dam in Tenneesee. The Dam was originally built using limestone, but the porous qualities of that stone we're completely understood at the time, as a result the dam has been seeping water for decades - water which would weaken it's base by turning it into a soft slurry and undermining it's base. The Army Corp of Engineers has a project to help this problem by building an underground wall to block the water which is scheduled to be completed in 2012, because a previously built underground wall has failed to do exactly the same thing.

If this new wall also fails, and seepage succeeds in undermining the dam base, it could eventually collapse and release millions of gallons of water into the Tennesse Valley about 100 miles upstream from Nashville. Moving at about 40 feet per second, this wave would destroy everything in it's path and within about 5-6 hours Nashville would be under 20 feet of water.

It would be like 1000 Katrina's all at once.

Fortunately there is an effort in place to prevent this worst case scenario, just as the I-35 bridge has been rebuilt into a smart bridge with a estimated life-span of 100 years, but this is just one problem among literally thousands of problems. Sagging power lines are creating shorts and overloading systems. Improperly sealed roadways are cracking due to water collection which has begun to rust their rebar re-enforcement. Sewage and Water systems are failing.

The recent massive deadly gas main explosion in Northern California are just symptoms of a much larger problem where more and more of core services on which all of us depend are falling apart right under our feet.

Over the decades what had been issues of national focus, have slowly begun to be fall on the backs of state and local governments that don't have the funding or resources to address the problem. As a result the kind of tragedies we've seen so far, may only be the tip of a very large and very dangerous iceberg.

The History Channel Special will re-air in one week on Tuesday October 6th at 10:00 Am and 4:00 PM.


Are Dems Doomed in November?

Things are not looking good. Democrats continue to refuse to press any advantage they might have on any issue - like tax cuts for the Rich - even when they're enormously popular. They DON'T SAY THE TRUTH!

For example Health Care has begun to kick in, but Dems won't take credit for it because they feel they'll get hit upside the head with stuff like this...

But all they have to do - is FIGHT BACK.

Right now says the Democrats are likely to retain control of the Senate by 1 Seat, but lose the House by 3 giving Republicans a 220 to 215 majority.

This despite the fact that the so-called "Pledge To America" that the GOP House just released contains seven items that are already included in the Health Care Bill and are now part of the law. Via Thinkprogress

Affordable Care Act GOP’s ‘Pledge To America’
Insurance Across State Lines Allows for the creation of State Health Insurance Compacts – permits states to enter into agreements to allow for the sale of insurance across state lines. (SEC. 1333; p. 100-101) “We will allow individuals to buy health care coverage outside of the state in which they live. ” (p. 15)
High-Risk Insurance Pools The states and the federal government have already established high-risk insurance pools to provide temporary coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions until 2014. (SEC. 1101; p. 30-33) “We will expand state high-­‐risk pools, reinsurance programs and reduce the cost of coverage” (p. 15)
Pre-Existing Conditions Children cannot be denied coverage starting today, but beginning in 204, insurers must accept everyone who applies. (SEC. 2702-2705; p. 46-51) “We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-­‐existing condition.” (p. 15)
Lifetime and Annual Caps A health insurer cannot impose lifetime limits and will be prohibited from placing annual limits on plans beginning in 2014. (SEC. 2711; p. 14) “[E]liminate annual and lifetime spending caps” (p.15)
Recissions A health insurance issuer cannot rescind a policy except for in cases of fraud. (SEC. 2712; p. 14) “[P]revent insurers from dropping your coverage just because you get sick.” (p.15)
State Innovation States can receive waives from certain requirements if they can cover the uninsured and lower health costs in a more innovative manner. (SEC. 1332; p. 98-100) “We will incentivize states to develop innovative programs that lower premiums and reduce the number of uninsured Americans.” (p.15)
Conscience Protections The law does not affect existing conscience protections or discriminate “on the basis of the willingness or refusal to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortion or to provide or participate in training to provide abortion.” (SEC. 1303; p. 67) “We will also enact into law conscience protections for health care providers, including doctors, nurses, and hospitals.” (p.15)

So not only are the Dems for Covering Children with Pre-existing Conditions - the Republicans are For it Too - or at least they say they are on paper. Yet in the clip Amy Holmes argues that...

Holmes: Some Insurers are already dropping their coverage of sick kids because of Obamacare...

And on this she is correct, some Insurers now refuse to offer "Child-Only" policies. It's not that they dropped coverage just for sick kids, they're dropping it for ALL KIDS so they don't have to cover the ones who are sick. Still, few people who report on this seems to also report that parents with group and family plans now have to accept children at least until those children are 26 years-old, no matter whether their already sick or not. Although you can't get children individual coverage - you can add them to your coverage.

Also this coverage gap created by greedy, heartless health insurance companies would now make nearly all of those children eligible for SCHIP which has been greatly expanded, and State-based High-Risk Poll Insurance which are already coming online at fairly affordable rates. So far enrollment rates for these pools has been low, but then that might be because NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THEM!

Certainly not Democrats.

Breitbart argues that ..

Obamacare was done at a tremendous cost...

He spouts this lie, another in his long string of them, even when the CBO says that Repealing the PPACA would increase the Deficit by $455 Billion.

On balance, the two laws’ health care and revenue provisions are estimated to reduce the projected deficit in 2020 by $28 billion, and the education provisions of the Reconciliation Act are estimated to reduce the projected deficit in 2020 by $2 billion. [...]

Finally, you asked what the net deficit impact would be if certain provisions of PPACA and the Reconciliation Act that were estimated to generate net savings were eliminated—specifically, those which were originally estimated to generate a net reduction in mandatory outlays of $455 billion over the 2010–2019 period. The estimate of $455 billion mentioned in your letter represents the net effects of many provisions. Some of those provisions generated savings for Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and some generated costs. If those provisions were repealed, CBO estimates that there would be an increase in deficits similar to its original estimate of $455 billion in net savings over that period.

Repealing Obamacare would cost Tax Payers almost a Half $Billion, But Democrats don't say it.

Amy comes back again with this gem...

Holmes: What is the morality of passing legislation that is now keeping business from hiring new employees?

First of all, Obama always said "If you like your current insurance - you can keep it and it won't change". He never intended to drastically change the existing Employee-based system, only to add minor fixes - such as the pre-existing condition ban - and to gradually create some alternatives to it for those who can't even get or afford insurance. Plus the ridiculous rate increases the insurance companies have been piling on the backs of business aren't anything new. Remember just last year when Anthem Blue Cross tried to raise their rates by 39 percent in California? Ultimately a rate hike was approved by State Regulators, but for less than half that amount.

Insurance companies have been blaming their rate increases on "Obamacare" requirements but that is simply bogus, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has begun to call them out for it.

It has come to my attention that several insurance carriers have sent out letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the (Health Care Bill)


According to our analysis and some academic and industry experts, any potential premium impact from consumer protections and increased quality improvements should be minimal. We estimate that the effect will be no more than one or two percent.


Already my department has provided 46 states with information to strengthen the review and transparency of proposed premiums. Later this fall we will issue a regulation requiring state or federal review of all unreasonable rate increases.

State regulators already have the power to restrict and reduce these rate hikes by requiring that insurers justify them, HHS is moving to help strengthen their hand in this area to continue to prevent consumer gouging. Also even prior to the Exchanges coming online in 2014, insurers that gouge customers NOW, can be barred from participating in the exchanges and lose access to 32 Million additional customers and $Billions in government subsidies.

But Democrats Don't Talk About it.

Also millions of small businesses (those with less that 50 employees) already have access to a 35% tax credit for their health insurance which can directly offset even the highest proposed cost increase.

Small businesses will receive $40 billion in new tax credits to help cover the cost of health coverage for their employees. The tax credit is designed to both support those small businesses that provide coverage today as well as new businesses who decide to provide coverage. Effective immediately, the tax credit is worth up to 35 percent of the premiums a business pays to cover its workers and in 2014, the value of the credit will increase to 50 percent. An estimated 4 million small businesses will be eligible to receive these tax credits.

But Democrats don't talk about it.

Instead they swallow the line that this is all somehow "Obama's Fault".

Notice how quiet Seth McFarland is during this entire exchange, and finally when he does speak he only mentions one thing - The Public Option.

Once we lost the Public Option - Obama essentially lost his Democratic Base, those who frankly really wanted either Single-Payer, or at least making all health insurers into Non-Profits in order to limit the kind of price gouging and coverage restrictions, all done to increase profits, that we've seen for over a decade.

No, we didn't get the Public Option - however, what we did get is just as good. As a replacement for the PO, a Non-Profit Option will be offered by the Office of Personnel Management. The only real difference between the Public Option and this one, is that instead of being run by Federal employees directly, it's run by a Federal Contractor - but the Director of OPM would have broad control and oversight of that contractor. This is the Directors Authority over that Non-Profit Agency.

SEC 1332 (3) NON-PROFIT ENTITIES.—In entering into contracts under paragraph (1), the Director shall ensure that at least one contract is entered into with a non-profit entity.
(4) ADMINISTRATION.—The Director shall implement this subsection in a manner similar to the manner in which the Director implements the contracting provisions with respect to carriers under the Federal employees health benefit program under chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code, including
(through negotiating with each multi-state plan)—
(A) a medical loss ratio;
(B) a profit margin;
(C) the premiums to be charged; and

(D) such other terms and conditions of coverage as are
in the interests of enrollees in such plans.
(5) AUTHORITY TO PROTECT CONSUMERS.—The Director may prohibit the offering of any multi-State health plan that does not meet the terms and conditions defined by the Director with respect to the elements described in subparagraphs (A)
through (D) of paragraph (4).

(b) ELIGIBILITY.—A health insurance issuer shall be eligible to enter into a contract under subsection (a)(1) if such issuer—
(1) agrees to offer a multi-State qualified health plan that meets the requirements of subsection (c) in each Exchange in each State;

Over and above the new 85% medical loss ration which allows only 15% overhead and profit for any insurer who wishes to participate in the exchange, this option can be negotiated by the OPM Director to an even higher MLR. The Director can set their premium rates and their profit margin, which being by definition "Non-Profit" could essentially be Zero. Current Pseudo Non-Profits like Anthem/Blue Shield are not likely to qualify.

The CBO analysis of costs of operating this option when contrasted with the Public Option were essentially nil, and with other changes includes actually saved about $2 Billion more than it had previously.

This estimate incorporates the effects of the manager’s amendment, which would make a number of changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as originally proposed. The changes with the largest budgetary effects include: expanding eligibility for a small business tax credit; increasing penalties on certain uninsured people; replacing a "public plan" that would be run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with "multi-state" plans that would be offered under contract with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM); deleting provisions that would increase payment rates for physicians under Medicare; and increasing the payroll tax on higher-income individuals and families. Of the total deficit reduction of $132 billion projected to result from the legislation, the manager’s amendment accounts for about $2 billion, and the act as originally proposed accounts for the remaining $130 billion.

The Public Option wasn't simply deleted, it was Replaced by something that from a deficit and premium controlling standpoint - is just as effective!

But Democrats don't say it.

Lastly as of now... Preventive Care is Free. Insurers are prohibited from charging co-pays or deductibles for mammograms or other cancer screenings.

Effective for health plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010

All new plans must cover certain preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance.

But Democrats don't say it.

Maher: I don't know how Democrats can keep losing the argument about sick kids, they lost that one this week. They can't even mention health care because it "doesn't poll well". Well maybe if you'd mention it - IT WOULD POLL WELL! Maybe if you brag about what you did for people, it wouldn't poll badly...

This admittedly received the biggest applause of the segment, and it should have - because he's dead right.

It's not guaranteed, but maybe if Democrats DID mention that much of "The Pledge" is simply trying to steal their thunder by laying claim to things the Democrats already did without any Republican support, and maybe if they mentioned that ridiculous rate hikes of 32% can be blocked, and that even if insurers refuse to offer child-only policies - they still have to let now kids on their parents policies, and maybe if they mentioned that there are now state run low-cost high-risk insurance pools for people with pre-existing conditions or who have simply been without coverage for six months, that repealing "Obamacare" would add almost half a $billion to the deficit, that millions of small businesses now have a 35% tax credit for health insurance that will increase to 50% in 2014, that HHS is cracking down on price gouging by insurers and can block them from the Exchanges in 2014 if they gouge now, that Preventive Care is now FREE, and that although we didn't get the "Public Option" we got something that does the same exact thing just as well, if we simply bothered to mention some of this - at least once in a while - we might keep control of both the Senate and the House.

I understand we didn't get everything we might have hoped for, and that there are still loopholes in the law that these private insurers are trying to squirm and slither through. That's always going to be the case.

Yeah, but maybe if Democrats - not just those in Washington - but all of us talked about this stuff more, while admitting things aren't perfect, we might start seeing better polling numbers, and possibly electoral prospects in November.

Maybe... but one thing is certain, if we don't start pushing back on all these memes, distortions and out-and-out lies - and I mean agressively - we can pretty much guarantee what's going to happen in less than 40 days.

Right now all we need to do is keep two or three seats in the House. That could be Alan Grayson's seat (since he's currently trailing). That's all we need to keep Grayson and one or two more... his seat is worth a bit of laryngitis isn't it?


Krugman: The "Pledge" is Nonsense

The man who should be the first pick to replace the departing Larry Summers has just publish his latest piece analyzing the new GOP "Pledge to -AIG- America" and his prognosis is not - how do you say - good.

On Thursday, House Republicans released their “Pledge to America,” supposedly outlining their policy agenda. In essence, what they say is, “Deficits are a terrible thing. Let’s make them much bigger.” The document repeatedly condemns federal debt — 16 times, by my count. But the main substantive policy proposal is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which independent estimates say would add about $3.7 trillion to the debt over the next decade — about $700 billion more than the Obama administration’s tax proposals.

So the GOP want's to cut spending, but what exactly do they propose to actually cut? Well just about everything except for "common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops." But what do they list specifically?

On TARP and "unspent" Stimulus funds - which they claim would save a whopping - $16 Billion. Let than 1/2 of 1 percent of the Tax Cuts they want to make permanent.

Oh and by the way, 40% of the Stimulus were tax cuts and tax credits that haven't been "spent" because people have filed to take advantage of them - which means the GOP would be raising their taxes.

Krugman Continued...

Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won’t cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: “No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress.

The “pledge,” then, is nonsense.

In order to keep the tax cuts that GOP wants, we'd have to effectively dismantle nearly the entire rest of the Government except for Defense, Repeal Healthcare, Defund the Department of Energy, Education and of course NASA then - as we well know - they would then attempt to convert Medicaid to a Health Stamps Voucher program, put Social Security on the Stock Market and then privatize the VA as many of their members included the Paul Ryan "Roadmap" has outlined.

That "Roadmap" and this "Pledge" are to take this country over a financial cliff at full speed.

And even those on the Right don't like it much.


(The Pledge) is a significant boost for them, but it is not a homerun.

I'm think it's not even a sacrifice fly ball.

Club for Growth

In a blog post yesterday, Andrew Roth trashed Republicans as drafting a "weak" agenda, "silent" on earmarks and a balanced budget amendment, two core principles of fiscal conservatism. (And the earmarks thing is a little strange, given that the GOP already swore off them this year.)

"The Pledge has no teeth," Roth wrote. "Voters have no reliable assurances that House Republicans will behave appropriately."

Which is a rather ironic response since we now know that the author of the pledge, Bill Wild, is a former Club for Growth alumni.

Then there's Eric Erickson of Redstate

It is dreck -- dreck with some stuff I like, but like Brussels sprouts in butter. I like the butter, not the Brussels sprouts. Overall, this grand illusion of an agenda that will never happen is best spoken of today and then never again as if it did not happen. It is best forgotten.


And Neal Boortz...

"Up until right now, the focus was on the absolute disaster that is Democratic rule in Washington. Now, all of a sudden, the focus is on the Republican party," Boortz said. "Where's the word "tax reform" in this document? It's not there. Where's the phrase 'corporate income tax.' It's not there. Where is the Department of Education? It's not there."

This almost makes me believe that the GOP leadership is not nearly as confident as they pretend to be, and may have taken the wrong page from the Obama play book. The "Split-The-Baby" page, an approach that is relatively bland and "safe" which leaves no one on either side of the political divide feeling satisfied, and consequently pisses off everyone equally.

Congrats GOP, if this is your grand playbook your just about to enter the political Dog House - hope you enjoy the Beggin' Strips because that's about all you're likely to be eating for the next two years after you Fail to take over Congress.


Feingold in Trouble, Tea Party trying to Steal Election

Think progress is now reporting that efforts supported by the GOP, the Tea party and funded by the Koch Brothers to Illegally Steal the Wisconsin election using the technique known as Caging.

Documents and audio recordings released yesterday by One Wisconsin Now document an apparent plot by the Wisconsin Republican Party, Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (aka Fight Back Wisconsin), and various other tea party groups to suppress votes from minorities and students in this year’s elections using a well-documented — and illegal— practice known as “voter caging.”

Voter Caging became better known after it was used in the 2004 Election in Florida by RNC staffers such as Tim Griffin, to block the votes of African Americans serving in Iraq without them even knowing it.

Tim was later rewarded by becoming and assistant to Karl Rove, and after that he was awarded a post as a U.S. Attorney in the midst of the rather mysterious round of firings that occurred late in the Bush Administration - especially when some of those Attorneys refused to pursue bogus voter fraud cases against organizations such as ACORN. Tim is now running for Congress in Arkansas - and winning by double digits.

This is what Caging is...

Caging has also been used as a form of voter suppression. A political party challenges the validity of a voter's registration; for the voter's ballot to be counted, the voter must prove that their registration is valid.

Voters targeted by caging are often the most vulnerable: those who are unfamiliar with their rights under the law, and those who cannot spare the time, effort, and expense of proving that their registration is valid. Ultimately, caging works by dissuading a voter from casting a ballot, or by ensuring that they cast a provisional ballot, which is less likely to be counted.

With one type of caging, a political party sends registered mail to addresses of registered voters. If the mail is returned as undeliverable - because, for example, the voter refuses to sign for it, the voter isn't present for delivery, or the voter is homeless - the party uses that fact to challenge the registration, arguing that because the voter could not be reached at the address, the registration is fraudulent. It is this use of direct mail caging techniques to target voters which probably resulted in the application of the name to the political tactic.

There's nothing wrong in theory with removing invalid registrations - just how do you send mail to Mickey Mouse? - but that isn't the real point of purpose for cagings, it's about targeting specific minority groups and blocking their votes thereby changing the outcome of the election - which is a direct violation of the Voting Rights Act.

So now, today, ginned up by paranoid fantasies of fraudulent ACORN Voters, in Wisconsin this Crime is being repeated yet again...

Audio recordings of the tea party meeting where the alleged voter suppression plot was discussed include numerous references by presenters to supposed instances of minorities and college students voting illegally. Tim Dake, a prominent tea partier in the state who belongs to Wisconsin GrandSons of Liberty, cited an anecdote about busloads of out-of-state voters voting multiple times in previous elections, then went on to discuss “the racial thing”:

“So, the problem is now you see elections being stolen and we have to get these guys fired up about it, which is not happening. The other thing is you run into the racial thing. You have people screaming, ‘Oh, you’re denying the minorities their right to vote.” No, we’re denying their right to vote multiple times.’”

“No, we’re not even denying the minorities anything, we’re denying fraud,” added an unidentified attendee of the meeting.

Yeah, ok - you're not a bigot, you've just got that rope in your hand while openly plotting to commit a Federal Crime, so that you can catch some runaway Wisconsin steers?

If you have "busloads" of out of state voters coming in the proper thing to do would be to alert the FBI, not try and take matters into your own hands like a vigilante squad, or try to randomly block people - who happen to have ethnic sounding surnames - from being able to vote.

The danger of this is particularly high in Wisconsin since Senator Russ Feingold - the only U.S. Senator to vote against the Patriot Act - happens to be in the fight of his political career.

Feingold won his first term with 53% of the vote in 1992, defeating incumbent two-term Republican Sen. Bob Kasten. He was then re-elected with a bare 51% in 1998, then expanded that margin to 55% in 2004. But now he's trailing in the polls against Republican businessman Ron Johnson -- the TPM Poll Average gives Johnson a healthy lead of 51.6%-44.8%. In addition, Public Policy Polling (D) will have another survey out today, showing Feingold down by double-digits as a result of a "massive" enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democratic voters.

Although current numbers from sites such as Election (50 Dem Senate, 219 Dem House) and Electoral (51 Dem Senate, 225 Dem House) show the Democrats retaining control of both the House and Senate by a slim margin the combination of low enthusiasm and voter suppression this November could severely darken that sunny outlook for Democrats, particular for Feingold - who is frankly someone we can't afford to lose.

Support Russ via ActBlue

Contact the DOJ Voting Rights Division Here.

Many more details from Dairy two days ago by One Wisconsin Now.


30,000 Detainees Still Held Without Trial & Tortured in Iraq

One of the almost completely unreported negative consequences of the American misadventure in Iraq, and current handover of control to Iraqi Forces, is exactly how that nation's sadly dysfunctional government has been handling the tens of thousands of suspected insurgents, al Qeada wannabes and political dissidents that we've delivered on their doorstep as the U.S. gradually slide out through the side door.

And the prognosis is not pleasant as detailed in a new Amnesty International Report - "New Iraq, Same Old Abuses".

From Democracy Now

MALCOLM SMART (Amnesty International) : Well, I think part of the problem is really a problem of impunity. This has been going on for all too long, and there’s a culture of abuse that has taken root. It was certainly there during the days of Saddam Hussein, but what we wanted to see from 2003 was a turning of the page, and that hasn’t happened. So we see secret prisons, people being tortured and ill-treated, being forced to make confessions. And the courts, although routinely detainees claim that they were made to sign false confessions, the courts are really not investigating those and coming to grips with them. And the perpetrators are not being held to account. They’re not being identified. On a number of occasions, the government has reacted by saying it will appoint inquiries after secret prisons have been disclosed and their locations have been found and prisoners in them have been found to be in a very severely ill-treated position. But the outcomes of those investigations have not been made known.

AMY GOODMAN: Deaths in custody?

MALCOLM SMART: Likewise with deaths in custody. We have in our report details of several cases where deaths are alleged to have occurred as a result of torture or ill treatment. Now, the standard practice of any authority in that situation, required by national law and required by international law, is to carry out an independent investigation. What were the causes, what was the circumstances, of the death? Now, this hasn’t happened. And again, we’re calling attention to the need for the government to show the political will to take measures against the torturers.

AMY GOODMAN: Malcolm, there were 10,000 prisoners, in your Amnesty report, transferred from US custody in Iraq to Iraqi custody—US basically transferring prisoners to a system that tortures them, unclear what happened to them in US custody.

MALCOLM SMART: Well, part of the problem with the situation has been that the US forces have been detaining people. And, of course, we know from the days of Abu Ghraib and so on, their record has not been a good one. It’s been improved in recent times, but at least—so there was some control over the prisons exercised by the US.

Since the beginning of 2009, under what’s called the Status of Forces Agreement, the two governments agreed to transfer custody of the prisons and prisoners to the Iraqi forces. Now, many of those detainees held by the US forces had been held without charge or trial for years without any means to challenge their detention. We’ve not made the claim that all those people are innocent of crimes. If they are accused of crimes, they should be held to account in accordance with international fair trial standards. But many detainees say they’ve been arrested for reasons that they don’t know, on the basis of information from secret informants who themselves may have been tortured or brutalized and named names of people. So, there’s not been an independent process. And here, we saw this Status of Forces Agreement at the end of 2008 making the way for the transfer, with no human rights safeguards written into that, although, quite clearly, US forces know that the record of Iraqi forces is a very grim one.

Now, President Bush started this mess when he tossed the Army Field Manual in the trash heap and pried open pandora's box for military and consultant abuses to begin, but now as more and more prisoners have been leaving U.S. custody and movin into Iraqi custody exactly what rules and management is being maintained to protect the rights of the accused in this country remains unclear, and not likely to improve in the near future, just like the lack of consistent electricity or sewage handling through many of the cities.

As of now the U.S. has only about 200 in it's custody.

Here's video an interview with the wife and mother of two Iraqi victims who describes the torture her husband has endured, including suffocation, electro-shock and a threat to sign a confession of his "crimes" or else be forced to rape his 13 year-old own grandson.

This is an ongoing human rights catastrophe of our own making, and again - as we continue to give up power and place responsibility for this in the hands of an Iraqi Government that has been completely unable to function or form some type of governing coalition - the odds of correcting this remain slim.

Why was it that we deposed and executed Saddam again exactly?


Powell Stands up for Obama, Will the Left?

Just when you thought there weren't any Rational Republicans left in the world, Gen. Colin Powell shows up and makes a series of points I haven't seen anyone make in defense of Obama. Not even Democrats.

Apparently the completely and total party purge, will have to wait.

MR. GREGORY: You described him as a transformational figure, to have the potential. Has he lived up to that or do you find yourself disappointed?

GEN. POWELL: I think he has--is a transformational figure. Some people don't like what he's done in transformation, and it's caused him some difficulty. But the fact of the matter is, he did put together a health care reform. It's not perfect, and I think it'll have to be fixed over time, and a lot of people are not happy with that health care reform, but he did it. We still have millions of our fellow citizens who have no insurance, especially children. And so I think he has done transformational work with respect to education, and I think he should get credit for that. But in other aspects, I think he has to focus on now governing, not worrying about the daily, the daily campaign problem or reacting to everything that comes across the cable news channel. I think he needs to sort of get above all of that. Yes, Mr. President, they will kick you like a dog, treat you like a dog, but hey, that's the nature of our system. America's a great country, and this is the way we do our politics.

Powell's defense of the Health Care Bill as Transformative, if imperfect, is something I haven't even seen Congressional Democrats saying on the campaign trail.

Probably because they can essentially expect to get this kind of response from the Left.

Believe it or not Conservative (Paid) Pundit Armstrong Williams actually defends Obama and the Health Care Bill from Jane Hamsher.

I'm sure that even watching this will bring up a lot of anger over the long lost Public Option... but I have to tell everyone This Has to STOP! It's good to see a Democrat get Mad, now if they could just direct some of that anger - AT REPUBLICANS - that would be swell, mm kay?

I don't care what NYCEve says, there ARE price controls in the Health Care Bill, in fact those controls are why Newt Gingrich accused HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of "Soviet Tyranny" because she began pushing back on the bogus claim that current insurance premiums are rising because of "Obamacare".

I discussed this issue in my rec'd diary yesterday on O'Donnell and Gingrich.

Sebelius: It has come to my attention that several insurance carriers have sent out letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the (Health Care Bill)


According to our analysis and some academic and industry experts, any potential premium impact from consumer protections and increased quality improvements should be minimal. We estimate that the effect will be no more than one or two percent.


Already my department has provided 46 states with information to strengthen the review and transparency of proposed premiums. Later this fall we will issue a regulation requiring state or federal review of all unreasonable rate increases.

Insurance providers who jack up their rates, the way we saw Anthem Blue Cross in California attempt to raise rates 39% even before Health Reform Passed, can be barred from access to the customers available in the Exchanges and denied Hundreds of $Millions in Grants and subsidies.

They have the freedom to charge what they want to charge, but not to expect customers to be forced to pay them for it.

As a point of fact Jane, Obama didn't say the Public Option was the "Bedrock" of his plan - he said that was the Exchange which would allow the public to the same type of Health Insurance that Federal Employees have was.

The plans you are discussing embody my core belief that Americans should have better choices for health insurance, building on the principle that if they like the coverage they have now, they can keep it, while seeing their costs lowered as our reforms take hold. But for those who don't have such options, I agree that we should create a health insurance exchange -- a market where Americans can one-stop shop for a health care plan, compare benefits and prices, and choose the plan that's best for them, in the same way that Members of Congress and their families can.

The Exchange was his Holy Grail, not the Public Option.

What we actually received in the final Health Care Bill included a Replacement for the Public Option, which scored better under the CBO (a $1.5 Trillion improvement over 20 years) and gives the head of the Office of Personnel Management the ability to specifically negotiate the premiums, medical loss ratio, and profit margins of a National/Multi-State Non-Profit Health Care Option to be made available through the Exchanges in 2014.

All-in-all those provisions are far better, and potentially far more cost effective, than each state managing it's own "Public Option" to be made available in their individual Exchanges.

Democrats need to start speaking like Powell and Williams have, they need to start getting Behind the good things that Obama has done and arguing that we need to KEEP going rather than let the howling crazies on the right, pied pipered by Palin and Gingrich take control of Congress and our national agenda.


O'Donnell is now Running Away Even from the Fox Disinformation Network

In the wake of the HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher" showing this clip of Mad Mad Tea Partier Christine O'Donnell's revelations about "Dabbling with witchcraft" - O'Donnell has proceeded to cancel her scheduled appearances both Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday.

Since Friday the News of O'Donnell's outburst on Politically Incorrect has been bouncing back and forth around the internet like a piece of Flubber in a Shake-N-Bake bag. I first saw it on thinkprogress Friday night, and by midday Saturday it was being tweeted by ABC News.

Yet compared to some of the other ridiculous whoppers she put out there, I don't think this is particularly bad. What she actually describes isn't any "dabbling" on her part, only that she dated someone who had a Satanic Altar. What it really reveals is that she's too tragically soup brain stupid not realize that sitting on an altar, that you don't even know is an altar, doesn't make you a "Satanist" any more than wearing a ton of patchouli makes you a Wiccan.

But then there's a lot of things she doesn't seem to know, and the number one thing is that none of the ridiculous statements coming from people like her or Jan Brewer, Rand Paul or Sharron Angle seem to be really doing them any damage - so why should any of it hurt her any either?

Besides the fact he thinks Businesses have the "Right" to discriminate against anyone they wish - Rand Paul still leads Jack Conway by 8 points. Jan Brewer is on the hunt for a head-less horseman, and can't tell between the Mexico and Arizona borders, but she's still ahead of challenger Terry Goddard by 22 Points. Sharron (2nd Amendment Remedies/we've Spoiled people with Unemployment Insurance that they Paid for) Angle is still within 0.4 points of Harry Reid.

And it's not like these are the only people making frankly nutty statements these days. Newt Gingrich had a big fat two-fer yesterday at the Values Voters Forum.

First he claimed that we need to outlaw judges ruling on the basis Of Sharia Law!

"We should have a federal law that says sharia law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States," Gingrich said to a standing ovation from the audience. The law will let judges know, Gingrich said, that "no judge will remain in office that tried to use sharia law."

Seeing as the constitution already says this, he might have a slight problem implementing that law.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.


The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

The only way to remove a judge, except by election, is by impeachment for Treason, Bribery or High Crimes yet at the same time "There shall be no religious test" for any officer in the United States, which includes judges.

So exactly how do you "remove them" for judging using "Sharia Law" - which they can't really do anyway since it has no Constitution or legal basis - when you can't require or ban any particular religious faith or belief on their part? "No test" means No Test, Newt.

And even if you could get over these two hurdles, wouldn't such a law also be usable to ban the use of Levitican Law in the court room, which would severely undermine both the right-wings long standing efforts at anti-abortion and anti-gay measures?

Would most attorneys have to be banned from the court for wearing mixed fiber suits?

The second crazy thing from Gingrich was his accusation yesterday that Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius has engaged in "Soviet Tyranny, arguing that her entire office should be defunded. What exactly did she do to enact this kind of outrage?

She sent a letter to the Health Insurance Companies asking - not demanding - asking them to stop gouging consumers and trying to blame Obama for it.

This is what got Gingrich Hopping Mad.

GINGRICH: When Secretary Sebelius said the other day she would punish insurance companies that told the truth about the cost of Obamacare, she was behaving exactly in the spirit of the Soviet tyranny. And if she’s going to represent left-wing thought police about Obamacare, she should be forced to resign by the new Congress.

This idea that we the people have to tolerate some bureaucrat being paid with our taxes to dictate free speech to us should end in January by the Republican Congress zeroing out her office and explaining that they would be glad to pay for it when someone is there who recognizes the rights of the American people.

Sebelius was not "dictating speech", she was a) calling Bullshit on insurance industry lies - and b) rightfully using the power of her office as granted by Congress. This is what she said.

It has come to my attention that several insurance carriers have sent out letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the (Health Care Bill)


According to our analysis and some academic and industry experts, any potential premium impact from consumer protections and increased quality improvements should be minimal. We estimate that the effect will be no more than one or two percent.


Already my department has provided 46 states with information to strengthen the review and transparency of proposed premiums. Later this fall we will issue a regulation requiring state or federal review of all unreasonable rate increases.

The point here, which almost everyone has missed, is that the PPACA allows for exactly such a regulation, and also authorizes the states to find that as punishment for unreasonably raising current premium rates insurances carriers can be bared from Hundreds of $Millions in Grants and also barred from access to the Health Insurance Exchanges and their 32 Million additional Customers in 2014.

That's the Law.

But when he's not spouting his paranoid "Cordoba Victory Mosque" tirades, Gingrich is claiming it's "Soviet Tyranny" for Federal Government to ask state regulators to do their job and Protect Consumers from getting ripped off? I suppose he thinks yanking salmonella laced poultry off the market is "Tyranny" too?

With Crazy like this regularly emanating from the curled lips of long-time GOP stalwarts like Gingrich - not just brand new fringies like Angle and Paul - exactly what is it that Christine O'Donnell really has to worry about from wee little Chris Wallace?

Unless, there's a TAPE of her - particular a Self-Sex tape (Like the one from former Miss California Carrie The Uber-Christian Champion of "Opposite Sex" Prejean) - or maybe pictures of her on the blood soaked altar of Beelzebub that might be a little too much for her flock of fundie followers to "tra la la" away with eyes closed and fingers in the their ears.

Sometimes the full-on bat-guano crazy is so thick, even a steak knife won't cut it.


Update (H.t comments) O'Donnell on politicians who Run from the Media like scared mice (with Human Brains!!)

O'Donnell: Obama is so liberal that he isolates most Americans and he'l never be able to stand the scrutiny of a general election.

Well, that prediction didn't turn out so well did it? Plus in his clip she claims that when there were questions about Hillary Clinton and John McCain "they came out with a press conference and addressed them right away" - when the ironic truth is that two years later Sarah Palin hasn't given a Press Conference and answered questions from a gaggle of the "Lamestream Media" - YET!

This isn't really a question of "smart" - it's a question of being able to function in rational society without being pathologically deluded. Y'wanna know why people like this is popular with their Lipton Tea Bag Crowd? After years of indoctrination and programming by the Fox Disinformation Network and Wingnut Televangelists, they're tragically deluded too. She's one of THEM, one of the Sheeple who automatically believes anything negative about a Democrat and Damn Filthy "Liberal" they hear.