Saturday, August 8, 2009

Must Reads

Christopher Brauchli: Three Strikes and You're In

Chad Terhune and Keith Epstein: The Health Insurers Have Already Won

Mark T. Harris: The Health Care Debate Has Only Just Begun

About Those Brownshirts I Mentioned...

posted by Armadillo Joe

Sara Robinson, a very smart gal who works with David Neiwert (recently of FireDogLake) tracking and documenting the persistence of fascism and fascist tendencies in American life over at Orcinus, says the following:
We know beyond doubt that the Teabag movement was created out of whole cloth by astroturf groups like Dick Armey's FreedomWorks and Tim Phillips' Americans for Prosperity, with massive media help from FOX News. We see the Birther fracas -- the kind of urban myth-making that should have never made it out of the pages of the National Enquirer -- being openly ratified by Congressional Republicans. We've seen Armey's own professionally-produced field manual that carefully instructs conservative goon squads in the fine art of disrupting the democratic governing process -- and the film of public officials being terrorized and threatened to the point where some of them required armed escorts to leave the building. We've seen Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to "a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress."

This is the sign we were waiting for -- the one that tells us that yes, kids: we are there now. America's conservative elites have openly thrown in with the country's legions of discontented far right thugs. They have explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement arm on America's streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won't do their political or economic bidding.

This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins. It's also our very last chance to stop it.
And I agree fully. You really should read the whole post because she lays out with scholarly precision exactly why we are at this frightening, nausea-inducing precipice of a complete tumble into full, totalitarian takeover of the American system of government.

President Obama's Weekly Address - August 8, 2009

Necessary Reform, Absurd Attacks

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sotomayor Confimed 68-31

Here are the 31 US Senators that voted against Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the Supreme Court. Do you notice anything in common?

Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

You'll hear every one of these scumbags in the Party of No give some sorry excuse about judicial activism, but the simple truth is that they only consider a judge to be an activist if certain decisions do not concur with their desired outcome.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

American Brownshirts

posted by Armadillo Joe
America is finally degenerating into the violent, balkanized quasi-fascist cesspool -- lorded over by rapacious corporations and their well-heeled beneficiaries with the help of a militarized police force and a violence-prone segment of the general populace -- that sci-fi writers have been predicting for decades.
The information campaign waged during the August recess to inform the public regarding the Democratic position on the health-care debate? Shouted down by American Brownshirts. We used to call them Nazis because it made us feel better, but these days I'm not so sure we have been exaggerating. These people are mixed-up, screwed-up cognitively dissonant malcontents who are capable of just the kind of ruffian street violence a political party needs to intimidate the opposition into cowed silence. Democracy is about the non-violent resolution of social conflicts. Their side seethes with the threat of imminent violence from Dixiecratic racist goobers, which operatives like Atwater and Rove and others of their ilk have been exploiting since the 1950's.
Funnier still is the fact that these people are financed by health-care companies -- a private brownshirt brigade sent to shout down and shut down the civil discourse needed for a well-functioning democracy. In the wake of the awful shooting at the fitness club in Pittsburgh, one wonders how long til one of these townhells ends in a bloodbath? In five, four, three, two...
And speaking of privately-funded violence aimed at political ends, Eric Prince and Blackwater Xe are truly little more than a private army whose leadership is sympathetic to the political aims of one party and diametrically opposed to those of the other. The Nazi SS Divisions, despite the way many historians talk about them, were not part of Germany's national army, the Wehrmacht, they were a separate and distinct organization: the militarized wing of the National Socialist Party. They were Hitler's private army. Only the most fanatical Nazis were invited to join the Schutzstaffel and in many cases these men had never even been in the regular army, being drug-addicts or degenerates or just plain ol' bug-fuck nuts, they were frequently judged to be utterly unfit for duty in Germany's very disciplined and highly professional Wehrmacht.
Anyone see parallels to Blackwater Xe? How long til a corporation hires these goons to close down by any means necessary some large-scale political function (like a mass rally or a March on Washington) they deem a threat?
Who would really stop them if they did? Our mass media would cluck their tongues at how all those foul-mouthed, dirty fucking hippies made those goons hit or shoot them and then they'd talk about how sad it is that we all can't just get along by not provoking the racist vigilantes into acting out, the socio-political equivalent of shhhh - don't make daddy mad - you know how he gets! The police themselves? The post-Reagan's-War-on-Drugs militarized police force with their Taser guns on a hair-trigger and general political proclivities completely unsympathetic to things like the First or Fourth Amendments? We're more likely to see them loan their billy clubs to the goons from Blackwater Xe.
Just remember who's really in charge in this country. We may have the inter-webs as our conduit for organizing and the tremendous amount of energy and willpower we collectively expended during the Long Nightmare of the Bush Dystopia may have gotten our guy into the White House, but the last time we had someone who gave people this kind of hope and this level of optimism in power his motorcade left Dealy Plaza in Dallas with his brains all over the trunk lid and we ended up with Nixon's breeding ground for everything nefarious and sleazy to slime and slither its way through American politics for the next 40 years, including that greasy meat-puppet from California: Saint Ronnie of the Ray-Gun.
In short, folks, I'm just afraid that even if we win this health-care fight -- and right now I'm fairly certain we won't -- the potential for violence from that armed, resentful, persecution-complexed segment of the population, goaded as they are by the monied interests (with an assist from their brain-dead cronies and other assorted functionaries in the Congress and the media) into doing their bidding against all those noisome DFH's, makes me afraid for what could happen to our un-white president and those of us who put him there.
Read this link and then discuss.


posted by Armadillo Joe

This is the view across the street from where I work. The Bush Nightmare Years are already a fading memory and yet I can't even come and go from work without this un-funny asshole in my face.

Where is the lefty equivalent of this kind of in-your-face disregard for civil discourse?

By All Means, Let's Keep Letting the Crazy People Have Guns

Posted by Fraulein

There are few issues that enrage me more than the whole question of why we find it acceptable, as a society, that our country is so awash in guns that any random nutjob can cause an unspeakable tragedy like this:

On Tuesday night, the gunman walked into the fitness center wearing workout gear and a headband, entered a "Latin impact" dance aerobics class and placed a duffel bag on the ground. He rooted around in the bag for a moment, turned off the lights, took out at least two guns and started shooting.

Three women were killed and nine people were injured. Police say he may have fired as many as 52 shots before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide.
Why is this OK? You want to have your stupid rifle to go hunting with? Knock yourself out. But why in the name of Jeebus do we think it is OK for anyone--ANYONE, even the catastrophically mentally ill like this guy, to have such laughably easy access to handguns? Why have the goddamned Democrats been ducking responsibility for this issue for so many years? Why can't somebody--how about President Obama, for example?--go on TV and just say honestly: "The ghoulish psychotics of the gun lobby have had this country by the short hairs for long enough. The time to act to rein in the epidemic of gun violence in this country is now. And where we're going to start is by is putting up as many roadblocks as possible to gun ownership for the mentally ill."

Why is that so fucking hard to do? Will we see it happen in our lifetimes? Discuss.

FRIDAY UPDATE: The Pennsylvania fitness center gunman bought handgun "accessories," whatever those are, from the same gun dealer that armed one of the previous mentally ill mass killers, the Virginia Tech shooter. Not surprising in the least.


posted by Armadillo Joe

Via Crooks & Liars, I give you this (from with no further comment:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Diplomacy Works

NY Times: Former President Bill Clinton left North Korea on Wednesday morning after a dramatic 20-hour visit, in which he won the freedom of two American journalists, opened a diplomatic channel to North Korea’s reclusive government and dined with the North’s ailing leader, Kim Jong-il.

Of course, some might not agree. Here's Wally Walrus:

...the Clinton trip is a significant propaganda victory for North Korea, whether or not he carried an official message from President Obama. Despite decades of bipartisan U.S. rhetoric about not negotiating with terrorists for the release of hostages, it seems that the Obama administration not only chose to negotiate, but to send a former president to do so.
...Negotiating from a position of strength, where the benefits to American interests will exceed the costs, is one thing. Negotiating merely for the sake of it, in the face of palpable recent failures, is something else indeed.
And not negotiating at all worked so well for the Bush administration, that North Korea reconstituted its nuclear program. As Jon Stewart posed, who wouldn't Bolton bomb?


posted by Armadillo Joe
I may be overstepping my bounds here, but I nominate Ross Douthat at Ye Olde NYTimes for the coveted Douchebag of the Week title.
Why? you may ask...
Well, because -- as a person who escaped the third-world cesspool and laboratory for unfettered implementation of conservative economic-theories called "Texas" for a place more, um, evolved -- I find the fact that Douthat thinks California's recent economic and social woes and Texas' apparent lack of them vindicates his pinched, ill-informed world view supremely unpalatable:
In the Bush years, liberal polemicists turned the president’s home state — pious, lightly regulated, stingy with public services and mad for sprawl — into a symbol of everything that was barbaric about Republican America. Meanwhile, California, always liberalism’s favorite laboratory, was passing global-warming legislation, pouring billions into stem-cell research, and seemed to be negotiating its way toward universal health care.
But flash forward to the current recession, and suddenly Texas looks like a model citizen. The Lone Star kept growing well after the country had dipped into recession. Its unemployment rate and foreclosure rate are both well below the national average. It’s one of only six states that didn’t run budget deficits in 2009.
Blue Texan at FireDogLake has this to say about that with her retort:
...Texas is exactly what Douthat's "liberal polemicists" charge.
Stingy? Check out these state rankings. Child poverty: 44th, senior poverty: 40th, per capital child welfare expenditures: 42nd, child vulnerability index: 46th, education expenditures per pupil: 40th.
Lightly regulated? Texas is the nation's 4th biggest polluter, and the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases. Pious? Does having creationists running the school board count?
Finally, the only reason Texas isn't facing a budget deficit is because Obama's stimulus bill bailed us out.
I'd like to point out that four of the seven presidential elections since 1968 to have gone to the Republican candidate have gone to a guy from southern California -- Nixon twice and Reagan twice.
I would like to further point out that Douthat doesn't actually live in Texas or anywhere else in "red" America. He lives in Washington D.C., just like Limbaugh, O'Reilly and Hannity all live in New York City. Funny how none of these rightwing assholes actually choose to live in Omaha or Tulsa or Boisie or any other of these places where they think all the "real" Americans live.
I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions as to why that might be, but in the meantime I think the rest of us should encourage all these toilet smears to move to the places they claim to think are so wonderful -- you know, put up or shut up -- so that, rather than us fending off every attempt by these dipshits to have their delusional mythologies about how the world works imposed on the rest of us, we can instead get about the business of actually running a prosperous, healthy country that benefits everyone and not just the top .01% (who also happen to all be 99.999% white, when corrected for Tiger Woods and Oprah).
Douthat should really be a DBOTW-emeritus, but for now I'll just nominate him for one of the weekly titles. Who's with me?

Better Democrats

posted by Armadillo Joe

He may have changed the "R" to a "D" in front of his name, but Specter is still a douchebag and I will support this guy in any way I can to make sure he renders Specter unemployed after November 2010:

And I love that he used Open Left -- one of my favorite blogs -- as the online platform to announce his primary challenge of ol' Spooky.

Not just more Democrats, but better Democrats.

It starts here.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

I took it upon myself to make a wish on your behalf. Unfortunately, when I opened my eyes, the Birthers still existed.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Missing Obama Kenyan Birth Certificate!

Jebus, what a fucking joke. Doug Mataconis at Below The Beltway gives it a proper lashing. To think that the Birthers refuse to accept President Obama's "Certificate of Live Birth" but will cream all over this laughable forgery.

Some highlights:

  • "Issued" three years after Obama's birth (the same year as his parents' divorce).
  • Certificate No. 47,044 - 47 is the age of the 44th President at the time of inauguration.
  • The Republic of Kenya wasn't a Republic until December 1963 and still a British Colony in 1961.
Was this conceived by one of the Birthers to show proof that Obama is a Muslim, Kenyan born, Manchurian Candidate? I doubt it. You'd have to be somewhat intelligent for that. But whoever did create this phony document is having a really good laugh right about now.

Health Care Copy-and-Paste Blogging

posted by Armadillo Joe

...I'm cautiously optimistic that whatever finally gets passed will be a nontrivial improvement over the status quo. Still, I don't think it's crazy for people to be concerned that whatever comes out of the sausage factory might be worse. Whatever it is will be a rube goldberg plan which preserves health insurance profits, keeps hypocritical fiscal scolds happy, has the goal of controlling costs, and can pass the Senate and keep enough blue dog wankers happy. It certainly isn't crazy to be worried that such a plan might, in fact, suck.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Douchebag of the Week: Michelle Malkin

Once I found out she was actually going appear on This Week with George Stephanopolous, I knew it was a short matter of time before she would say something asinine.

Malkin thinks extending unemployment benefits of $300 per week extends joblessness because people would rather sit around and collect that easy money than look for a job and then just before the benefits expire, run right out and get a job in an environment where the national unemployment rate is teetering at 10% and some state numbers are as high as 15%-20%. Great job, Malkin.

Malkin: If you put enough government cheese in front of people they are just going to keep eating it and you're just kicking the can down the road and just to hammer this point about the unemployment benefits extension again it was Larry Katz, who's a chief labor economist under the Clinton labor department who came out with a study and there are a lot of these economists who say this that if you keep extending these "temporary" unemployment benefits you're just going to extend joblessness even more.

Michelle "Government Cheese" Malkin: Douchebag of the Week

(H/T C&L)

A Short History Lesson

posted by Armadillo Joe

Hey, Blog-O-Maniacs, Broadway Carl is away for a stretch, once again leaving it to yours truly to mind the store in his absence.
Tapping into the zeitgeist, I want to talk about health care, but more in a big picture kind of way. Because I think health-care reform is dying not merely from pressure on its throat from monied special interests -- though that is the predominant cause -- but from a structural flaw in what and who we are as Americans.
That flaw? Americans have never been able to be honest about who we are and how we got here. Ever. Whether looked at from the point of origin of the persecuted religious kooks who came here from 'Yurp seeking the freedom to practice some religious persecution of their own or from the point of origin of those greedy wild-catters who saw a continent rich in resources, ready to be raped and plundered for a quick buck back in Amsterdam or Paris or London, the American soul's twin strands of violent, brittle piety and soul-destroying avarice have always lain just under the surface -- sometimes locked in battle, sometimes allied against threats to them both, sometimes reinforcing each other in a spiraling feedback loop of mayhem and reckless cruelty.
To be clear, I am not claiming that this is all there is to who we are. Not at all. But unless and until we can acknowledge, widely and without flinching, that white people from Europe came to the Americas, killed (or allowed to die or celebrated the genocidal passing of) all the red-skinned natives and stole their land then imported black people from Africa (to say nothing of the exploitation of yellow and brown skinned peoples) to drive our burgeoning country's wealth-creation, wealth and comparative developmental advantages we still enjoy to this very day BTW, then we can't have an honest conversation about who we are. Not for us is the fearless acknowledgement of the depth of our past wrongs we see in post-apartheid South Africa or post-Nazi Germany. Our crimes are too much in the pre-moving image past, too shrouded in the mists of popular mythology to be immediate enough to escape the jingoistic cry of "revisionist!" one hears from those too convinced of their own fealty to the designs of the angels and to that of Jesus himself to allow him or herself to believe that their country has or could ever do or be anything but wholly, fully and completely righteous.
Such people love their country as a three-year old loves his mommy and daddy -- which is to say unquestioningly and utterly -- and they defend it against all comers with the same level of ferocity and self-examination as when that three-year-old throws a tantrum on the floor of the grocery store. The problem with such tantrums on a social and national level is that at least one side has guns and the wherewithal to use them. Couple that with a well-deserved and completely justified cultural inferiority/persecution complex (I'm whistling at you, Dixie) and you have an entire cultural component of this nation with the metaphorical body of an adult and mind of a child. George W. Bush was their annointed patron saint for a reason. He is their apotheosis.
But that's not all there is to it, is it? That's not all we are, not by a long shot.
Because we have such words and phrases as "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" and "We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident" and "Of the People, By the People, For the People" and we've been the country that put a man on the moon, defeated the Nazis and gave the world television, powered flight, s'mores, baseball and Billie Holiday. We also got filthy, stinking rich doing it, so are the scales even? I don't know. What do you think?
Thus, I reduce American history to the following and arrive at our lack of healthcare:
Around 1492 or so, a bunch of white guys got lost on the way to China and told the folks back home of the untold riches to be found in a new magical land far over the horizon. Being greedy for the gold and other resources they needed to run their respective war machines, the extended family of unelected monarchs who ran the whole continent of Europe used the new-found place:
  1. to steal whatever wasn't bolted down and cart it back across the Atlantic -- to this day, that's why the much-admired splendor of London or Paris or Amsterdam is the way it is, they built all that with American gold -- and
  2. to siphon off the undesirable portions of their population and dump them in a far-away place where they couldn't rabble-rouse and otherwise stink up the place with their curious customs and odd dietary habits practiced under the guise of "religion" and
  3. to extend their kingdoms in a never-ending game of one-ups-manship played against their cousins and uncles and nieces on the other thrones of Europe.
This system worked pretty well (unless you were red-skinned or black) for several hundred years, until one group of wealthy white men -- who had no particular loyalty to those who purportedly ruled them -- got the idea in their heads that they could run a country on their own much better than some fuddy-duddy old monarch all the way across an ocean. So they cooked up some fancy language to make their cause seem noble -- Americans have been good at marketing since before there was such a thing as Americans -- and in 1783 finally won a guerilla war against the most powerful military machine on planet earth.
Problem was, truly repressed people both within that shiny new country and also all over the world read those words and took them to heart and began fighting guerilla wars of their own over the next couple hundred years (from the First Republic of France to modern day Iraq, by way of Vietnam and the Boer War). But the white guys and the descendants of those white guys who had benefitted so mightily from the land freed up by the genocide of native americans and the wealth-generation of free labor from the enslavement of Africans and the theft and exploitation of the labor and property of brown and yellow-skinned peoples were loath to surrender their historical advantages. Afterall, they had not been guilty of the crimes that built their mansions, so why should they be punished now? So, instead of facing up to the truth of their condition and perhaps summoning a little humility in the face of the enormous historical injustices which had served to enhance their relative and race-based status, they spun mythologies and fantastical stories about "hard work" and "bootstraps" and "rugged individualism" to explain their success and they began to believe their own bullshit, that they had earned their exalted place, and by logical extension those who weren't there with them had also earned theirs -- destitution and squalor are what those people deserve -- just as the monarchs of old Europe fully, truly and utterly believed that God himself had delivered them onto the throne.
But those powerful, awe-inspiring words remain. And some people, including this author, truly believe them. They inspire us. We even fought an actual shooting war amongst ourselves to enforce the ideas behind those words and, occasionally since then, we have found a way to live up their promise, to the universality of their promise, for one and all. In 1932 and 1936 we did. In 1964 we did, big time. And every time we do, the echoes of the old ways always push back at us, often violently. Sometimes we resist the push-back and our progress holds firm. Other times, we crumple under the pressure and the ugly, ancient undercurrents in our national character erupt in screeching, poo-flinging triumph against all we have built. It is a pendulum, sure, swinging left to right, but I fear the center of gravity is not halfway in-between, but firmly on the right, on the side of complacency and apathy and surrender to the darker forces of history. To keep that pendulum moving to the left ever at all, to overcome the gravity, inertia and entropy of historical forces, requires an almost infinite amount of energy.
After 8 years of Bush and 30 years of Saint Ronnie of the Ray-Gun and 40 years in Nixonland, do we have the national will and the moral clarity to keep up the fight?
Because the people who have everything have never wanted to give anything to those who don't have anything and no matter how they got all the stuff they have, they think anyone who wants the same stuff should go out get it the same way they did: be born rich.
And that's why we won't get health-care reform.