Saturday, October 31, 2009

Scozzafava pulls out of NY-23 House race, GOP's extremist right scores another major victory

On this All Hallows' Eve 2009, Dede Scozzafava, the (official) Republican candidate in the special election in New York's 23rd Congressional District, has suspended her campaign just days before the vote, giving up in the face of simple inevitability and essentially handing her official GOP nod to far-right Republican and Conservative Party insurgent Doug Hoffman.

Of course, the writing was on the wall. Conservatives have been conducting a nasty smear campaign to bring Scozzafava down while pumping up Hoffman as their chosen one, as their cause célèbre. Scozzafava had the party endorsement, but conservative Republicans across the land had declared their support for Hoffman, and the polls showed Hoffman well ahead of Scozzafava and just about even with Democrat Bill Owens. In pulling out, Scozzafava basically acknowledged that she understood what was happening, that she was going to lose, that Republican support was divided, that the only way for the Republicans to win was to let Hoffman pick up the mantle.

And Republicans, with Scozzafava kicked to the curb, have been quick to embrace Hoffman -- those, that is, who weren't already enthusiastically on board, including those at the top of the party apparatus. Here's what RNC Chair Michael Steele said almost immediately after Scozzafava's announcement -- yes, of course it was coordinated:

Effective immediately, the R.N.C. will endorse and support the Conservative candidate in the race, Doug Hoffman. Doug's campaign will receive the financial backing of the R.N.C. and get-out-the-vote efforts to defeat Bill Owens on Tuesday.

And the floodgates opened wider. "National Republican Party officials, who had also endorsed Scozzafava, are now lining up behind Hoffman," reports CNN. "This new show of GOP unity will make it more difficult for Owens to win the election on Tuesday." Of course, that's what this was all about. Scozzafava may or may not have seen the writing on the wall, but she was no doubt informed of it, and she was likely shown the door, or perhaps even pushed out, told that the party wanted her to fall on her sword, or else.

Even Newt Gingrich, who had shown a rare modicum of sanity by endorsing Scozzafava and rightly accusing Hoffman's right-wing backers of conducting a "purge" of the party, has flipped. He's now in Hoffman's corner.

So what now? Is a Hoffman win now pretty much inevitable? Here's Marc Ambinder:

A series of polls showed Scozzafava in third place, well behind Democrat Bill Owens and, suddenly, Conservative Doug Hoffman, who had stolen about half of Scozzafava's base. Where do the rest of her votes go? CW says that most go to Hoffman, but I'm with Jonathan Martin: I think half go to Democrat Bill Owens or they stay home. GOP registration exceeds Democratic registration by nearly 50,000. This is a Republican district that is likely to remain Republican, -- only significantly more conservative than it's been.

So, yes. It's now Hoffman's race to lose. And, in this generally Republican -- if also generally moderate (hence Scozzafava's appeal to locals) -- district (it went for Obama, but it has gone Republican in House races for generations), Owens just won't pick up enough moderate Republican support to counter the expected boost for Hoffman.

And what does Hoffman's seemingly successful insurgency mean, or, rather, how is it likely to be interpreted? Ambinder again:

Republicans will derive two lessons from the results of this race. One is that the activist base of the party is becoming increasingly powerful in the one area that had eluded them: candidate selection. Other conservative Republicans may now feel more comfortable if they decide to challenge incumbents in primaries. Democrats, believing that Republicans will conservatize-themselves to death demographically, will take this as a positive trend for the long-term. The second lesson is that populist, regular guy candidates win in supposedly "moderate" districts.

The race had become a proxy for debates about the future of the party. Since the situation in NY 23 is so unusual, it may be folly to squeeze out more meaning than's already present.

That's fair, sure, but I think this is far more significant long-term for the GOP than Ambinder suggests, and I think Andrew Sullivan is right: 

No one knows what might happen now. For the insurgents, it means a scalp they will surely use to purge the GOP of any further dissidence. But the insurgents were also backed by the establishment, including Tim Pawlenty, who's supposed to be the reasonable center.

Hoffman's insurgency was driven by the usual suspects on the Republican right, where the likes of Michelle Malkin, overcome with ideological madness, think even GOP moderates are "radical leftists," but, Gingrich notwithstanding, many in the Republican establishment had thrown their weight behind Hoffman. He wasn't just the preferred candidate, the preferred Republican, of the fringe but of parts of the mainstream as well.

Let me clarify that. What was once the fringe is increasingly the mainstream, and the right's victory here -- even before the election, the victory in pushing Hoffman over Scozzafava -- is indicative of the larger shift among Republicans as a whole to the (far) right. Moderates and others who dissent from rightist orthodoxy are either leaving or being purged, and what remains is a narrow ideological sliver in which a Doug Hoffman, or a Michelle Malkin, is actually the new center, a center well to the right both of what the Republican Party used to be and of where the overwhelming majority of the American people are. Even in New York it is not acceptable, it would seem, to deviate from the new party line. Scozzafava got the message. I suspect that all Republicans across the country are getting it, too.

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Deep in the Cornyn hole of Texas

By Capt. Fogg

I got an e-mail from Texas Senator John Cornyn this morning. Somehow I had the urge to take another shower. In the relentless crusade to mock, rebuke, deride, insult, sneer at, and taunt the "opposition," Cornyn is an endless cornucopia of crepuscular reasoning and shady opinions, such as his assertion that the "delays" in supplying Texas and the United States with hundreds of millions of H1N1 vaccinations argue against the public option in health-care reform:

These delays and limited access make me question whether the government, which cannot run existing public health programs competently, should be trusted with even more responsibility – such as running a new government health plan. [italics mine]

Of course, Cornyn doesn't give examples of how the government can't run health care, either from Medicare, the Veteran's Administration, or indeed from the government health care Cornyn and his cronies enjoy. Of course, he doesn't have to, he's preaching to Republicans -- a faith-based group who never seem to question the tenebrous tenets of that faith. The Government just can't do anything right: Reagan said so and the Republicans are hell-bent for leather to make sure it's self-fulfilling.

Perhaps John can explain what the failure of the oil industry that supports him to end oil shortages and give us 29 cents a gallon gasoline again argues for or against, or why we shouldn't say that Exxon can't run anything properly, including keeping tanker captains sober. One offensively stupid argument deserves another, I should think, and the argument that the government can't do anything and so shouldn't be allowed to do anything is a stupid argument and an annoying one coming from someone who is part of the government and is stalling, obfuscating and sabotaging health care reform -- right after having supported Bush's massive increases of unaccountable executive power and failed wars for 8 years.

No, a public option for health care is a:

Trojan horse that will ultimately lead to a government takeover of our health care system,

says John Cornyn, another way of invoking the slippery-slope fallacy. If we allow A, we'll allow A+B, and if we allow A+B, we'll allow A+B+C... Of course, any truth to this is no more than accidental because none of these steps compel the other, That's why we call it a fallacy, but again, he's arguing to Republicans and Lone Star Republicans at that, not exactly a constellation bright enough to light up the sky. Funny that he didn't argue that an invasion of Iraq would lead to a "government takeover" of the world or that warrantless surveillance and the end of habeas corpus would lead to a police state.

No, we're not on a slippery slope toward invading Ireland, the U.S. Postal Service isn't going to take over DHL or UPS or FedEx, and none of those could handle a minute fraction of the envelopes, post cards, advertising fliers, or periodicals the USPS delivers. No, the public schools aren't going to take over the private schools, and the Social Security Administration isn't going to take over your pension. The county hospital or the VA hospital isn't going to take over the private hospitals. It isn't the "government" producing the vaccines, and if we had to depend on the profitability of doing that to induce the pharmaceutical industry to do it, we'd have far greater shortages and tens of millions who wouldn't get any and couldn't afford it and would help the disease spread because of it.

Of course, I'm sure Tex Cornyn will get his vaccination, one way or another. He'll get it for free. He gets all his health care for free, so why should he give a Texas damn about you?

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Blood diamonds and Halloween

By Capt. Fogg

Pat Robertson -- where do I begin? I don't know whether his record speaks worse of American stupidity or of his character.

No, I'm not talking about the soliciting of funds for relief in Rwanda that actually were spent on Diamond mining operations in Zaire with dictator President Mobutu Sese Seko and to benefit other African genocidal madmen. I'm not talking about questionable use of Katrina relief funds or various tax-evasion charges. This Bozo runs a faith-based circus of stupidity and one of his side show acts is to be the grinch who stole Halloween or All Saints Day, as it was known for a while.

Robertson's God-forsaken parody of a broadcasting network, CBN, has a dire warning on its blog about virtually all Halloween candy having been "prayed over" by witches and carrying curses and spells which will be absorbed by any children eating it. Halloween is dangerous, it warns. Don't buy candy in October! It's a holy day, but if it's not a Christian holy day, it's a SATANIC holy day. Nice insult to the vast majority of humanity that's given up belief that ancient Celtic religious practices had anything to do with the Devil the Christians invented to demonize other religions:

Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store,

says The colors orange brown and red are dedicated to Satan. Respect for the Earth is Satanic. Bonfires are about Satan, even the harvest is about Satan. Everything he doesn't like is Satan -- everything is Satan and the world is full of evil entities and magic and spells and his followers listen with a straight face.

I could go on, but there's enough raging, pathological, libelous insanity and foul ugliness to drive any normal person to projectile vomiting. Read it yourself,** but there's something wrong with a nation that once considered this man for president, something insane about a nation that still talks about witches and spells and a political party that embraces this ugly medieval madness.

** Since writing this last Thursday, the article about witches, Halloween, and demonic tootsie rolls has been removed from the site. View the cached article here.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Pat Robertson: Christianity as hateful bigotry

Consider what fascist-theocrat Pat Robertson said about the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a bill, signed into law by President Obama the other day, that extends hate-crime protection to sexual orientation:

The noose has tightened around the necks of Christians to keep them from speaking out on certain moral issues. And it all was embodied in something called the hate crimes bill that President Obama said was a major victory for America. I'm not sure if America was the beneficiary. [...] We have voted into office a group of people who are opposed to many of the fundamental Christian beliefs of our nation. And they hold to radical ideology, and they are beginning put people sharing their points of view into high office. And not only that, they not only have control of both houses of Congress.

Consider Robertson's "logic" here: The legislation silences Christians. Apparently, it is Christian to be hateful. Apparently, anyone or anything that prevents Christians from being hateful, or speaking hate, is anti-Christian, and anti-American. America is Christian. Since Christianity is hateful, so is America.

Just so we're all clear.

Christians, and Americans, should be disgusted and outraged.

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Gore Vidal, a despicable old fool, defends Roman Polanski, a rapist

Of all the Hollywood and Hollywood-ish celebrities who have come out in defence of Roman Polanski since the director's arrest in Switzerland last month, Gore Vidal is without question the most reprehensible.

Or, at least, his defence is the most reprehensible of all the defences that have emerged so far:

Author Gore Vidal says he refuses to feel any sympathy for Roman Polanski’s rape victim, whom he dubs a "hooker."

In an interview with The Atlantic, the controversial 83-year-old author of such books as "Myra Breckinridge" and "1876" says of the director's sex scandal, "I really don't give a fuck. Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she’s being taken advantage of?"

The young woman to whom he is referring is Samantha Geimer, who was a 13-year-old aspiring model in 1977 when she was drugged and raped by Polanski.

Vidal went on to say that the media pushed an inaccurate image of Geimer, painting her as an innocent victim as opposed to what he believes to be her true identity.

He went on to suggest that anti-Semitism and anti-gay motives were behind Polanki's persecution. According to this celebrated author, Polanski basically did nothing wrong.

What a sick thing to say -- a reflection, perhaps, of a sick mind.

Geimer was not a prostitute, she was a 13-year old girl. Now, she may have been more grown-up than most girls her age, and her shameless mother may have been pushing her into Polanski's circle, but does that mean she deserved to be drugged and raped -- anally raped -- by a man with a sense of entitlement who was clearly trying to take advantage of her, and who persisted despite her protests? And even if she were a prostitute -- and, again, she wasn't -- would that justify rape? Is it perfectly okay to drug and rape prostitutes? According to Gore Vidal, the answer to these questions would seem to be a resounding yes.

For more on this, see Melissa McEwan, who shares my disgust and contempt. Yes, Polanski may have been the victim of bigotry, but, no, that doesn't mean "there is not a legitimate case against him." There is -- and his various supporters around the world can only defend him by ignoring the facts and making excuses for raping minors. As far as I know, no one has gone quite as far as Vidal, but it's all ugly nonetheless.


See my previous posts on the Polanski saga:

-- Politico and partisanship: The very stupid attempt to link Roman Polanski to Obama and the Democrats, via Hollywood.

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Why does Michael Steele hate Republicans?

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Friday that a victory by Doug Hoffman, the third-party candidate in the Nov. 3 New York special election, is a win for the GOP.

The actual Republican nominee, Dede Scozzafava, trails Hoffman, the Conservative Party nominee, and Democrat Bill Owens by double-digits according to a recent poll. But Steele argued during an interview with POLITICO that the GOP doesn't need to worry about Scozzafava's lagging ratings because Hoffman is essentially a Republican.

"You've got two Republicans running in that race. My upside is that one of them will likely win," Steele said. "We want to be supporting the one that wins."

"I don't split the party into conservative or not," he said. "I'm looking as the national chairman to walk out of there one way or the other with a win."

I get it. He's hedging. But, in this race, Hoffman isn't the Republican, Scozzafava is.

Let me repeat that, just to be clear: In NY-23, Dede Scozzafava, not Doug Hoffman, is the Republican nominee. So shouldn't the chairman of the Republican National Committee be actively backing the Republican nominee?

Winning, of course, is what matters, and Hoffman, the Conservative candidate (and also a Republican), has a much better shot of winning than Scozzafava, who has been viciously and relentlessly smeared by the right.

Still, there's something pathetic about Steele's win-either-way approach. If nothing else, it papers over what is the real story here, which is the rapid splintering of the Republican Party and the ongoing rise of the extremist right in what is increasingly a narrow, ideologically extreme party on the fringe of American society.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

For Democrats, time to cut ties with Lieberman

So Joe Lieberman was against the filibuster before he was for it, eh?

Surprise... surprise... surprise.

Back in his more Democratic days, back when he was genuinely a member of the party, and presumably happy to be so, he argued that the filibuster -- not just any one filibuster but the filibuster generally -- "ails Washington."

That was 1994. Now, in 2009, having become the Republicans' favourite Democrat, then an independent, then, on the campaign trail, an enthusiastic supporter of John McCain, his long-time friend, while smearing Obama, and being essentially a Republican even while sucking up to Obama, post-election, he's all for the filibuster, at least when it comes to the public option.

Meanwhile, eyeing 2010 and beyond, he drifts ever further to the right, a "Democrat" when it's convenient for him, and when it's in his self-interest to pretend to be one, like when he wants to caucus with the majority and chair the Homeland Security committee, but hardly much of a Democrat at all. He makes Arlen Specter seem like FDR.

Throughout much of the Lieberman saga, from his loss to progressive favourite Ned Lamont to his successful campaign as an independent, I said time and time again that I wanted the Democratic Party to be a big tent, a party that welcomed diversity and dissent, a party that wasn't, like the GOP, driven by ideological purification. I even defended him now and then. Even earlier this year, I understood why Obama and Democratic leaders in the Senate wanted to keep him in the party -- his vote mattered, and it was important for the new president to reach out to his opponents across the spectrum and to try to build a broad coalition to support what would turn out to be a significant legislative agenda including an economic stimulus package, health-care reform, and, soon, one hopes, renewable energy and climate-change initiatives.

And, yes, ideally, Lieberman would vote with the 58 Democrats and one other independent, Bernie Sanders, to give Democrats the 60 votes they need to break Republican filibusters.

But now? What's the point? It doesn't seem to matter how big the tent is -- and, remember, it includes Bayh, Landrieu, Lincoln, among other non-liberals, and that's just in the Senate -- Lieberman wants no part of it. It may very well be that he still harbours grudges and resentments, and that his cozying back up to the party this year was just a blip, but, whatever drives him, the simple fact is that he's not just not much of a Democrat, he isn't even all that friendly to Democrats, including to Obama, the one who went out on a limb for him to bring him back into the fold.

It no longer makes sense to let bygones be bygones, because the bygones aren't gone. They're alive and well and in the present and aren't going anywhere.

It is long past time for "coercive measures," but perhaps threats -- notably, of removing him from his beloved chairmanship -- will keep him in line. Or perhaps not. Lieberman will do what he wants to do, and vote how he wants to vote, and he just can't be trusted to support the Democrats on anything, let alone on anything as historic as health-care reform and on anything as significant as the public option, about which he continues to lie.

He will say, of course, that he's an independent who calls them as he sees them, but what really matters to him are those grudges and resentments, and his own political survival in some form. Perhaps threats will keep him from joining the expected Republican filibuster, even if he ends up voting against reform, as is likely. Whether they do or they don't, however, what is clear, and what has been clear for a long time, is that the Democrats, who have been so generous to him over the years, even after his ugly efforts against Obama last year, need to cut ties with him instead of continuing to buy off his occasional vote while he plays his vengeful "independent" games as a Republican ally.

Enough, at long last, is enough.

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Demographic clustering and the self-segregation of America

This post is inspired in part from this commentary, "Suffer the Little Children," by Southern Beale, and this incident, "Hate Begets Hate," reported by Southern Female Lawyer, who recalled this conversation with a stranger while shopping:

They have a young child and just couldn’t bear the thought of their child growing up in this sort of cultural environment … But the straw that broke their hearts was when they were at a local flea market … and there was a vendor there selling Klan material. And as it turns out, this woman and her family are of a group that is frequently targeted by the Klan …

Here is Southern Beale’s follow-up commentary:

What is the point of all the battles over de-segregation and all of the ground gained over the past 30 years if we’re going to self-segregate anyway? I certainly can’t fault anyone for doing what they think is best for their children … But the entire conundrum depresses me.

Indeed, one can hardly fault any family for wanting to keep their children safe from bigots. Yet, this tendency to self-segregate runs deeper than we realize. We no longer cluster along ethnic, racial, or economic lines; we self-segregate along political and cultural lines... with potentially dangerous consequences.

This is the thesis of Bob Bishop's landmark study, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart. According to Bishop, the terms "red state" and "blue state" no longer refer to those states that return Republican or Democratic majorities, but to groups of people clustered within communities who self-identify across an array of opinion: liberal versus conservative, urban versus rural, and religious versus non-religious, as examples.

As evidence, Bishop cites major changes in the electoral map over the past 33 years. In 1976, Jimmy Carter won the presidency by a razor thin margin; yet 26.8% of the vote came from landslide districts where Carter won or lost by 20% or more. The number of landslide districts had grown to 48% by 2004... almost double since the Carter era.

Another study compares educational attainment and geographic mobility. In the 1980s and 1990s, 45% of Americans with a college degree moved from state to state within 5 years after graduation, compared with only 19% of the population having a high school education.

It is not difficult to imagine how and why we make conscious decisions that alter the electoral map. When we canvass neighborhoods looking for a place to live, we tend to notice the McCain-Palin or Obama-Biden signs in front yards. We may look for a bookstore or a gun shop, or a fundamentalist or Unitarian church in town. When choosing where to live, our decisions are not necessarily guided by economic considerations, but by cultural and lifestyle choices.

(O)CT(O)PUS is no less guilty. I am a northern transplant living in a southern state. There is a saying where I live: "The further south you go, the more likely you will meet northerners." I have witnessed racism at both ends. Racism is palpable and visible in the South; racism renders you invisible in the North. In the South, racism is a snake that strikes suddenly; in the north, racism means a slow, agonizing death by venom.

After the hurricane season of 2004, I turned refugee. I sold my beachfront home and moved to Lake County along the central ridge where I learned: Racism is cultural and systemic, not merely historical.

Lake County Florida is infamous for the case of the Groveland Four, an all-too-familiar story about the alleged rape of a white woman by four men who were beaten and forced to walk barefoot over broken glass until they confessed. It is the story of a young lawyer named Thurgood Marshall who appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, about a sheriff who was a Klan member, and the murder of two civil rights activists whose home was bombed on Christmas Eve.

I witnessed weekly acts of racism in the local cafes; the harassment of a black woman at a lunch counter; epithets hurled at a black family by a passing bigot. As I witnessed these encounters, I felt assaulted. When I spoke out, I almost got assaulted.

After a year, I returned to the coast where I bought a condo. My Lake County home along the central ridge, my refuge from coastal storms, remains unsold. Having witnessed racism first hand, I can well understand a family's concerns for the welfare of their children.

Yet, we pay a price for surrender. Over time, according to Bishop, a preference for living with like-minded neighbors in extreme homogeneous communities incubates ever more extremist views. Voters in landslide districts tend to elect more extreme members to Congress while moderate candidates shun public office. Among highly polarized lawmakers, debates degenerate into shouting matches as legislators engage in obstruction and gridlock. That is how our most urgent and pressing issues go unresolved.

Due to clustering, we are less likely to converse with people holding different views and more likely to caricature them. Democrats and Republicans alike are more likely to assume the worst, each regarding the other as "incomprehensible." Even in the judiciary, Republican-appointed judges vote more conservatively when sitting on a panel with other Republicans than when sitting with Democrats. As Bishop states:

We now live in a giant feedback loop, hearing our own thoughts about what’s right and wrong bounced back to us by the television shows we watch, the newspapers and books we read, the blogs we visit online, the sermons we hear and the neighbourhoods we live in.

So what do you say, fellow creatures above and below the waves? Shall we swim against the tide and give conservatives a chance to establish themselves as friends and neighbors before we dismiss them outright? I welcome your comments.

(Cross-posted at The Swash Zone.)

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What's "The Reaction" in Cyrillic?

The BBC reports that the Internet as we know it is about to change dramatically:

The internet regulator has approved plans to allow non-Latin-script web addresses, in a move that is set to transform the online world.

The board of Icann voted at its annual meeting in Seoul to allow domain names in Arabic, Chinese and other scripts.

More than half of the 1.6 billion people who use the internet speak languages with non-Latin scripts.

It is being described as the biggest change to the way the internet works since it was created 40 years ago.

The first Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) could be in use next year.

I suppose it was about time for the period of Latin hegemony to come to an end, even if this will undoubtedly make the Internet more complicated to use. (To access an Arabic website, for example, would one not need to know Arabic script? Could this move not actually get in the way of effective communication across culture and language divides? I understand the objection to Latin dominance, but at least there's been a domain name standard to facilitate cross-cultural and cross-linguistic interaction.)


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It's a cream puff!

By Capt. Fogg

Would you buy a used car from this man? That used to be a popular phrase back in the Nixon years when we were asked to buy his "secret plan to win the war." The secret was that there was no plan, but never mind, there was nothing to win and we didn't win it.

It's the first thing that comes to mind listening to the last ditch effort by Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who is still telling us the public option will kill us all, although you can see he's having a hard time keeping his face straight while doing it. It's a prodigious effort of course, since he and his henchmen all have government health care just like the French and the Norwegians and the Germans and everyone else and all too many of them live to really ripe old ages because of it.

"I think if you have any kind of government insurance program, you're going to be stuck with it and it will lead us in the direction of the European style, you know, sort of British-style, single payer, government run system, and those systems are known for delays, denial of care and, you know, if your particular malady doesn't fit the government regulation, you don't get the medication. And it may cost you your life. I mean, we don't want to go down that path."

Yes, we do want to go down that path -- the majority of us anyway -- and it's an argument dependent on American ignorance of what the rest of the modern world enjoys and benefits from and chooses to have. There is no slope here, it's only his logic and his grasp of truth that's slippery. The problem with our health care cartel system is exactly the problem he tells us we will have if we abandon it and the coverage we have to buy now isn't even available to millions and millions. It may cost you your life and it's cost millions of lives already.

No, I wouldn't buy a load of fertilizer from this man and that's what he's selling and no matter how many times the truth is flung back at him, he'll continue. He's paid handsomely to continue and he's got a great health care plan as well which isn't known for denial, delay or enormous annual price increases like the one we have if we're lucky, young, in a good job and haven't ever been sick.

It's the old Republican song he's singing -- the corporate song, the best money can buy: I've got mine and screw you.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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What price, Sarah Palin's butt?

TNR's Chris Orr exposes yet another glaring example of Sarah Palin's hypocrisy:

In her latest ill-advised broadside against Levi Johnston, Sarah Palin accused the soon-to-be Playgirl model of "sell[ing his] body."

It's a peculiar complaint for a former beauty queen to make, but particularly peculiar for one who told People, "I did the beauty pageants to earn money for college"; who, by placing in the Miss Alaska contest did, in fact, earn a scholarship (of which she reportedly said, "that's what got me through college"); and who described the process thus in Vogue: "They made us line up in bathing suits and turn our backs so the male judges could look at our butts."

She's so full of herself, so convinced of her own righteousness, that she probably doesn't even recognize just how full of shit she is.

We'd all be better off if she'd stuck to showing off her butt for money. (Not that she was ever a whore or anything. You know.)

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Hoffman surges, Republicans jump on the bandwagon

Oh, so now Republican leaders are embracing Doug Hoffman in NY-23. I suppose they got the message loud and clear from the ruckus-making right-wingers who really control the party.

But turning on their on candidate, Dede Scozzafava? It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that Democrat Bill Owens is in the lead, could it, what with Republicans bitterly divided?

Hoffman may very well win the election, but at what cost to the beleaguered GOP? The extremists are proving once more just how powerful they are, and a Hoffman win, spun as conservative insurgent triumph, would only empower them further, boosting their confidence and paving the way for the Great Purge to continue.

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Flag art

By Mustang Bobby.

The DNC is running a contest to come up with a powerful message for selling healthcare reform. One of the finalists is a video that depicts the desecration of the American flag.
In the video – which is accompanied by the sound of a heart monitor pumping and then flat-lining – words such as “pre-existing conditions,” “homeless” and “death panel” ultimately obliterate the flag, which reappears on screen seconds later with the words “Health Will Bring Our Country Back to Life” on the blue field where the 50 stars usually are.

According to the Organizing for American Web site, the 20 finalists in the “Health Reform Video Challenge” were chosen by a panel of “qualified” Democratic National Committee “employee judges.”

A contestant whose video didn’t make the final-20 cut complains that a video “defacing the flag” won’t do much to help President Barack Obama or the Democrats sell health care reform.

“They should never pick that,” said the contestant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It makes the Democrats look really, really bad.”

Ya think?

I'm a believer in freedom of expression as much as anybody, and I have a real problem with amending the Constitution to protect the flag from desecration since one person's idea honor -- making a shirt out of the flag or painting it on your guitar -- is another person's desecration. I also have a problem with creating idols out of anything. But I also believe that art, be it a painting, a play, or a film, is a medium, not the message, Marshall McLuhan notwithstanding. The genius who came up with this ad will find out that no one will pay attention to the point of the ad: healthcare reform. It will be lost in the strong reaction this use of the flag will undoubtedly get, and not just from the people who make their living out of flag-waving. It's like using an obscenity on live TV; people will pay more attention to the word than to the point you were trying to make. It's also lazy. Trying to create a powerful message in a short amount of time is not easy, and throwing in something like a desecrated flag is a shortcut that says you couldn't think of anything else.

And it also hands the knee-jerks an easy target. Remember back to when had a similar contest in 2004 and someone came up with a video that compared President Bush to Hitler? The ad wasn't produced by, it was never sanctioned by them, and they never even ran it. But it leaked out, and Fox News ran with it, it went viral, and the next thing you know everyone on the right was purple with rage at (It kind of makes you wonder where all that high dudgeon went when the comparisons to President Obama to Hitler came up at the tea-baggers' festivals, but short-term memory loss and hypocrisy are part of their deal.) I am sure there will be a big stink about this and demands from the righteous right that the DNC renounce the ad and, for good measure, commit sepuku on the east steps of the Capitol. (Let's make a deal -- they will if the RNC will do the same over Obama=Hitler.)

If the DNC has any sense, they will ditch this "finalist." It won't help the cause of healthcare reform, and that is the point of the exercise.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cemeteries, sex toys, and South Carolina -- and a Republican

No, it isn't April 1. And, no, this isn't from The Onion. It's all true, and all funny:

A deputy assistant attorney general who said he was on his lunch break when an officer found him with a stripper and sex toys in his sport utility vehicle has been fired, his boss said Wednesday.

Roland Corning, 66, a former state legislator, was in a secluded part of a downtown cemetery when an officer spotted him Monday, according to a police report obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act.

As the officer approached, Corning sped off, then pulled over a few blocks away. He and the 18-year-old woman with him, an employee of the Platinum Plus Gentleman's Club, gave conflicting stories about what they were doing in the cemetery, Officer Michael Wines wrote in his report, though he did not elaborate.

Corning gave Wines a badge showing he worked for the state Attorney General's Office. Wines, whose wife also works there, called her to make sure Corning was telling the truth.

He then searched the SUV, where he found a Viagra pill and several sex toys, items Corning said he always kept with him, "just in case," according to the report.

Corning and the woman were let go without charges. Wines' wife reported the call to her supervisor, who told Attorney General Henry McMaster.

"We received credible information about inappropriate behavior Monday afternoon," McMaster said Wednesday. "And by the close of business, he was no longer working here."

Such a trip to the cemetery "would not be appropriate, at any time, for an assistant attorney general," McMaster said.

Not appropriate at all. Okay, a few things:

First, on a somewhat serious note, it seems inappropriate for a police officer to call his wife, for his wife to talk to her supervisor, for her supervisor to talk to the AG, and for Corning to be fired. He shouldn't have told his wife, at least not in any official capacity, and she shouldn't have passed along the salacious news. prior to a full investigation into what happened. Should he have been fired so quickly, simply because the story made its way to the AG so quickly? Should the AG -- the state's chief law enforcement official, by the way -- not have acted more deliberately and thoroughly examined the case before jerking his knee?

Second, a cemetary? I understand this guy wanted privacy and seclusion, but is that really the best he could do? Were there no motel rooms available?

Third, he's 66 and she's 18. Make of that what you will.

Fourth, I understand the Viagra. I mean, you never know, and if you need that stuff, I suppose it's good to be prepared. A lot of people carry condoms around with them, don't they? (Did Corning?) But sex toys? Really? Again, I suppose you need to be prepared, "just in case" (you find a willing 18-year old), but who carries sex toys around with them? Who thinks, "yeah, just in case, I'll take a butt plug, strap-on dildo, vibrating egg, and cock ring wherever I go," or whatever the hell it was he had with him? Well, this guy does, apparently, but it's rather odd.

But odd, not least when it comes to sex, seems to be what South Carolina is all about. Need I remind you of the conduct of its governor?

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By Carol Gee

Accountability is a word we have heard used a great deal this year. It as if the concept were new to the American experience, given the lack of same in the previous administration. As I think about it, the word means that people are held to account. Or people take the natural, normal and logical consequences of their own actions.

Though President Obama is often too reluctant to hold officials in the Bush administration accountable, he does not set that same lax standard for himself. I believe that he expects to suffer consequences for his decisions and actions, as a man and as President of the United States, the Commander in Chief of the military. What are some of those consequences? They might include feelings of embarrassment, ambivalence, or worry and being subjected to criticism, among many other outcomes. But our President is not deterred by such. In that same vein he is willing to feel the pain, perhaps even anguish, associated with his decisions to send members of the military into harm's way.

President Barack Obama met the caskets of the most recent war casualties at Dover AFB before dawn Thursday. Arriving just after midnight, he and several other officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, paid respects to 18 U.S. soldiers and DEA agents killed in multiple tragedies in Afghanistan. The President also met with the families of the fallen Americans. It was the right thing to do. On Twitter Josh Marshall posted a very moving set of Dover images at TPM Photo Galleries. The pictures of the President's middle of the night experience are particularly poignant.

That anyone would dare to say that President Obama's trip to Dover was inappropriate is an absolute outrage. How dare they criticize this good man with so much weight on his thin shoulders! He is holding himself accountable for his wartime decisions by accepting the normal consequences. The feelings of sadness, solemnity, regret, frustration and perhaps even anger come with his POTUS territory. And he has stepped up, as he should have.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Gang rape at California high school -- update

See my initial post here. And read the comments. A couple of the commenters threw race into it, as well as their own racism, implying clearly that the rapists did what they did because of who they are, namely, Hispanics. This sort of racial stereotyping is all-too-common, of course, and it's repugnant, whether the targets are blacks or Hispanics or any other non-white "Other." It is similarly ridiculous to blame, as one commenter did, Bay Area liberals for fostering diversity and multiculturalism, as if the very presence of non-whites in the community is ultimately to blame for what happened.

Such responses are predictable, I suppose, and reflective of the bigotry that still plagues America, but I find them no less appalling for being so.


It is horrible still to think in detail about what happened. One can only hope that the girl is getting the help and support she needs. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to her, as well as those in the community who stand with her in solidarity.

Thankfully, the law is coming down -- hard, which is as it should be:

Police investigating the gang rape of a 15-year-old girl have arrested five people, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

Three juveniles and two adults are in custody in the rape on Saturday, said the Richmond police spokesman, Lt. Mark Gagan. The three juveniles will be charged as adults, he said.

Gagan said the suspects will face several felony charges in the incident, including "rape in concert," and that the suspects would all face the possibility of life in prison if convicted.


As many as 10 people were involved in the assault in a dimly lighted back alley at the school, police have said, while another 10 people watched without calling 911 to report it.

A 1999 California law makes it illegal not to report a witnessed crime against a child, but the law applies only to cases in which the child is 14 or younger.

Police have posted a $20,000 reward for anyone who comes to them with information that helps arrest and convict those involved in the attack.

Hopefully police will continue to round up the perpetrators of this horrible crime -- and that some way can be found to hold accountable those who stood by and did nothing to stop it.

Meanwhile, as CNN is also reporting, a friend of the victim has "blamed school district officials for not doing enough to protect her school -- and her friend. She said none of the four officers who were at the homecoming dance was patrolling the school premises even though there were a dozen young men hanging out just a few feet from the gym entrance. She says school officials chose not to take any action."

Obviously, there's a lot of blame to go around, but there should be no excuses for the crime, and no leniency for the criminals.

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Obama does the right thing

By Carl

Here we have a President who paid attention these past eight years:

President Obama traveled to Dover Air Force Base early Thursday morning, where he met with family members and paid his respects as the bodies of 18 Americans killed this week in Afghanistan were returned to the United States.

It was the president’s first trip to the Delaware air base, the main point of entry for the nation’s war dead to return home. The trip was a symbolic one for Mr. Obama — intended to convey the gravity of his decision as he moves closer to announcing whether he will send more troops to Afghanistan.

The overnight trip was not announced in advance. The president, wearing a dark suit and long overcoat, left the White House at 11:44 p.m. A small contingent of reporters and photographers accompanied Mr. Obama to Dover, where he arrived at 12:34 a.m. aboard Marine One. He returned to the South Lawn of the White House at 4:45 a.m.

(emphasis added, for reasons shortly to be clear)

A simple, dignified, and low-key acknowledgement of one of the most terrible days to befall US combat troops since Vietnam.

You'd think the entire nation, as one, would stand beside Obama for this one moment and acknowledge he did the right thing.

Um, well, you'd be wrong.

Nevermind "support the troops". Nevermind the quiet dignity afforded a group of courageous men and women who lay their lives on the line in defense of this great nation. Nevermind that, in symbolism, we see the toll these wars are taking upon us all.

(Side note: I wonder how bad this economic downturn would have been had we not spent ourselves silly fighting, as Vizzin put it, "involved in a land war in Asia"? Just a thought to chew on.)

It's not enough. There's some dark mystery, a hidden meaning, a shade lingering, over each and every action of President Barack Hussein Obama.

A "black shadow" administration, as it were.

Now, it's true: every President has to be conscious of the impact and meaning of his gestures. Presidents are, like it or not, role models and trendsetters.

Imagine, if you will, George W Bush actually successfully riding the Segway. Undoubtedly, it would have been given a marketing boost (and no doubt, Segway had hopes for that).

Unfortunately he fell off, thus propagating the myth that the Segway is difficult to master and putting a crimp in its acceptance and certainly losing the chance to market is as "so simple a moron can use it".

Presidents acknowledging the loss of soldiers, however, is hardly a political novelty, and is often accompanied by frills and ceremony when he does it (as in laying the wreaths on Memorial Day in Arlington).

One has to question the...patriotism...of those who question this gesture.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Let the Senate vote (on health-care reform)!

Democrats and other supporters of health care reform have a very simple message for center-right Dems who oppose fixing the system: just let the Senate vote.

The issue, of course, is cloture. Reform proponents don't need 60 senators to pass a bill; they need 60 senators to simply let a vote happen. The message to Nelson, Lieberman, Lincoln, Landrieu, et al, is, "Agree to let the Senate vote on the bill, and then feel free to vote against it."

Obviously, Republicans are going to fight like hell to blur the difference between the procedural vote and the actual vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky said the procedural vote "will be treated as a vote on the merits of the bill." Why? Because he says so.

And Sen. Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana, one of the Senate's more needlessly conservative Dems, apparently wants to help advance McConnell's GOP message.

That's right, Evan Bayh, supposedly a Democrat, is talking, as usual, a whole lot like a Republican -- and, in this case, like the rest of the obstructionists in the GOP.

Remember, this is total nonsense. Senators voting to end debate on a bill, only to ultimately vote against the same bill, happens all the time. Joe Lieberman has done it repeatedly. 

Of course there's a difference between procedural and policy votes. Bayh is helping Republicans for no reason.

It couldn't be simpler -- if legislation Bayh doesn't like comes to the floor, he can vote against it. Before that, he can offer amendments, give speeches, and encourage others to agree with him. Just let the Senate vote.

Pretty simple. And yet Democrats -- who should, one thinks, support a little thing called democracy -- can't even agree that there should at the very least be a floor vote, up or down, on the policy, on an actual reform package. How is it a good idea, other than to kill it, to toss a bill into the morass of procedure, and to deny a vote, a democratic vote, on procedural grounds, or to let a procedural vote be the one vote that matters, as the Republicans and some Democrats want? Shouldn't the people's representatives be given a chance to vote on a bill, up or down -- that is, on the substance of a bill? Yes, but of course the opponents of reform want to require a 60-vote supermajority for passage, not the 51-vote majority that would almost certainly get reform -- meaningful reform, likely with a fairly robust public option -- passed.

And with the likes of Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman, and other quasi-Republicans around, it's an uphill battle for Democrats.


By the way, Bayh also opened the door for reconciliation, the process that would allow passage of a bill with just 51 votes (or 50 plus Biden, presumably).

Alas, it's not that simple, though it should certainly be on the table.

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So much for robust

By Creature

The watering down of the public option continues and good policy, once again, takes a back seat to politics. By the time this bill gets out of conference it will be soup. I hope the Blue Dogs are happy with their cushy, corporate-sponsored congressional seats. Our government is broken.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Conservative anti-Republican ratfucking in NY-23

The title of Josh Kraushaar's post at Politico is wrong. It isn't Republicans who are engaging in dirty tricks -- i.e., ratfucking -- in NY-23, it's conservatives, and their target isn't the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens, it's the Republican candidate, Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava. These supporters of Conservative candidate and right-winger Doug Hoffman are trying to lure Republicans away from the Republican candidate:

A brand-new organization calling itself Common Sense in America is up with a major television ad buy in the New York special election, praising Republican Dede Scozzafava as the "best choice for progressives."

At first glance, the group's ad looks like it's an endorsement of Scozzafava. But it's a dirty trick engineered by Hoffman supporters, looking to render her unacceptable to many Republican voters by detailing her liberal position on gay marriage, support of President Obama's stimulus and connections to labor.

"On Tuesday, progressives have one candidate to vote for with pride: Dede Scozzafava," the ad says.

"Dede supports President Obama's efforts to stimulate our economy. Dede supports organized labor's drive to expand membership. And Dede is the only candidate for Congress who supports marriage equality. Dede Scozzafava: the best choice for progressives."

The group's presumed intent with the ad is to trick unsuspecting GOP voters into thinking Scozzafava is the choice of progressives so they will then support her Conservative party challenger, Doug Hoffman. Common Sense in America is spending about $150,000 on the ad buy, and it is up on broadcast and cable in all three media markets in the sprawling upstate New York district.

Are Republicans that stupid? Well, maybe, yes, but I don't find the ad to be that much of a dirty trick. While the ad overstates Scozzafava's support for liberal-progressive causes, it's fair, I think, to seek to portray her, and her views, as un-Republican.

What interests me here, though, is not so much the ad, however misleading it may be (and which you can watch at Kraushaar's post), but how this race has seemingly become the key battlefield on which the GOP civil war is being fought.

Scozzafava may not be suitably conservative for the Republican base, but she's a Republican nonetheless -- one who can actually win in states like New York, one who could help broaden Republican appeal among non-conservatives, one who could help reverse the narrowing course the increasingly extremist Republican Party has taken in recent years.

But, no. She might as well be an honest-to-goodness socialist given the venom conservatives are hurling at her. No wonder even the likes of Newt Gingrich are fed up. (Even Mitt Romney, sucking up ferociously to conservatives and the right-wing base, is staying out.)

The Great GOP Purge continues. Sit back and enjoy the show.

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Through the looking glass

By Capt. Fogg

No offense intended to the Buddhists out there, but the middle path is often the road to hell. While I'm as apt to ask why we can't all just get along as any other exhausted and beat up person, I'm not about to attempt it with the people who tell me that it's OK to launch into hysterical fugues of hyperbole about leading Democrats and things they never said or did, but insist that reacting to it in any way but submissive whimpering is nastiness or name-calling and a justification for further libel, slander, bigotry and threats.

I'm disgusted enough to dream about my own gun-toting tea party when citing established facts or exposing blatant lies of the previous administration are described as being just as bad as the furious lies about death panels, birth certificates and Presidential Marxism. Citing massive evidence for global warming is just as bad as comparing Democrats to Communists. Detailed studies showing that certain economic policies produce recessions, that markets self-regulate only within certain limits is just as bad as incitement to murder the President's family, as accusing him of murdering his grandmother and planning to murder yours. It seems to escape a great number of trolls that calling a thief a thief is not the same as accusing an honest man of stealing. Truth matters, facts matter and nothing but weeds grow in the space between facts and lies.

Is retaliation really the equivalent of unprovoked aggression, is self-defense? I don't think so. Is there a reasonable middle ground in an unreasonable attack against reason? I don't think so. Where after all can a middle ground exist between lies and truth; between insane accusations of Marxism or Fascism or extending Medicare being just like Pol Pot or Leon Trotsky? And where does the accusation of being the most, far-left radical Liberal ever to sit in the Senate intersect with the actual Obama who so far seems far too conservative for the people who voted for change?

Are we really the "party of hate" for "picking on" poor Rush for engaging in unprovoked and dishonest slander or trying to defend against him? Is there really any relationship between the label Liberal and the attempt to identify it with irrational hate, beyond the wish of an unscrupulous aggressor to distract us from discussing truth and responsibility?

No, the shadow world, the bizarre country between whatever the truth is and the worn out, beat up used car the Republican apologists are trying to sell is down some rabbit hole somewhere. Some twilight zone where all the terrible things we said about Nixon were untrue and just political, but none the less Obama, by beginning to denounce some of the lies told about him is "building an enemies list" just like Nixon. Nixon wasn't a bad guy they say; it was all political, but Obama is a bad guy for being like him -- even when he isn't. I told you this was a strange land.

Old Nixonian Lamar Alexander suggests that the administration might, like Nixon adviser and Watergate felon Chuck Colson, be planning to "use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies." So what advice is Lamar giving here? Obama should, he suggests, stop blaming the banks, should stop chastising the insurance companies, stop taking advice from advisers Congress hasn't approved ( remember when Bush asserted his right to do so and our non-right to know who they were or what they said?) and stop "calling out" members of congress who disagree with his policies. That's like "street brawling." Calling a lie a lie? That's the equivalent of Nixon's plan to use the IRS to "go after the Jews." That's just like burglary, Arson and obstruction of Justice!


Curiouser and curiouser, this path between truth and fiction and somewhere Lewis Carroll is watching this through a looking glass.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)


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Better, stronger, faster

By Carl

The television show The Six Million Dollar Man used this as an opening monologue:

Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.

That program was about a test pilot crippled in a horrendous crash, rebuilt using the (then) latest technology.

So it goes with our electrical grid, if only in fits and starts and drips and drabs:

Winners in the Obama administration's $3.4 billion smart grid sweepstakes were exultant. Some losers sounded bitter. But there seemed to be no quarrel that yesterday's Energy Department grants will accelerate revolutionary changes in the ways electricity is generated and managed by utilities and their consumers.

"The grid has to evolve to support where policy is driving us," said Chris Baker, senior vice president and chief information officer of San Diego Gas & Electric Co., which won a $28.1 million federal smart grid grant yesterday. It will help to fund a $60 million futuristic information management system that ties key elements of its smart grid together.

As events of August 2003, as well as events early in the Bush administration demonstrated, we are running a 21st Century economy on bearskins and bone knives, in terms of electrical power.

The grid as it stands is basically a series of local nodes inadequately joined to create large regional swaths of interconnected power feeds. If one plant goes off line, another can shunt electricity to that region and draw on others down the line. This all happens incredibly fast with incredible amounts of power being rerouted chaotically, without function or form.

Not good, particularly as the ultimate oversight is a guy with a button or switch, in case things get hairy. As 2003 demonstrated, many times that guy ain't fast enough.

Current monitoring of power flow takes places in whole seconds, when milliseconds have proven to be critical in determining how to route power. That's going to change. This means that routing will not take place in chunks of power but in fine-tuned streaming.

That's going to save a lot in terms of efficiency, repairs, and load on the grid.

Ultimately, I would hope the goal for energy in America is tons of small, renewable energy plants sprinkled across the landscape, and a power grid that can fine tune the low-power generation that renewable sources will create into plentiful electricity for the nation.

It's just smarter that way.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Lieberman to support public option filibuster

Well, you knew it was coming, and you may have heard about it already, but non-Democrat Joe Lieberman, a Democrat in occasional name only when it suits him, has announced that he will likely support an expected Republican filibuster of any health-care reform package that includes a public option:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that he'd back a GOP filibuster of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's health care reform bill.

Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes a government-run insurance program -- even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid has said the Senate bill will.

"We're trying to do too much at once," Lieberman said. "To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don't think we need it now."


Lieberman said that he'd vote against a public option plan "even with an opt-out because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line."

First, let's dispense with Lieberman's excuses. As Jonathan Chait explains at The Plank, his argument "makes no sense whatsoever. A public plan does not provide a new entitlement. It just doesn't. It's a different form of providing an entitlement. Nor is it more expensive. In fact, the stronger versions of the public plan would cost less money. Lieberman is just babbling nonsense here."

Yes, but, honestly, did we ever expect anything different from him? Again, he's not a Democrat -- not in any real sense. He used to be, but now he's an independent, and he's an independent who revels in being a thorn in Democrats' sides. Including Obama's, whom he opposed last year, campaigning vigorously, ferociously for John McCain, his old friend and close pal, smearing Obama all along the way. As I put it back in June, when Lieberman came out against the public option:

Joe Lieberman, non-Democrat, is always just in it for himself, isn't he? He's with McCain and the Republicans before the '08 election, campaigning vigorously against Obama, then he's with Obama, if not so much with the Democrats, whom he formally rejected following his primary loss to Ned Lamont (becoming an "independent"), when Obama wins and the Republicans are reduced to an extremist minority with little hope of reaquiring power anytime soon. Indeed, he only crawled back to the Democrats after the election, and kissed up to Obama with effusive praise, so effusive as to suggest phoniness, pandering to the president's immense popularity, in order to secure himself a leadership position in the Senate.

He was wrong then, and he's wrong now. And I'm not just talking about his opinions, I'm talking about his facts.

Apparently, it was Obama himself who pushed for Lieberman to stay in the party, to remain in caucus and even be given a chairmanship, back in November of last year, shortly after the election. While I understand that Obama wanted to let bygones be bygones -- partly (perhaps) to present himself as a good winner with bipartisan aspirations and broad appeal, partly (likely) because every vote counts, and he knew he would need Lieberman's vote eventually -- and while I understand that Senate Democrats were counting heads in hopes of securing 60 votes, I thought then that Lieberman should have been given the boot.

I wrote: "The Senate Democrats are 'making a mistake they're likely to regret,' argues Steve Benen, and I tend to agree." Well, the chickens have come home to roost, as they say.

Lieberman may ultimately vote for some watered down bill, as Chait suggests, but "if he has the chance to stick in the knife and kill health care reform, I think he'd probably jump at the chance." Yes, probably. He represents the Insurance State, after all, but, as much as that, he's still essentially a pro-McCain Republican, however he may caucus. He won't side with the Republicans no matter what, and so he likely won't back a Republican filibuster of any reform package, but he also has zero loyalty either to his former party or to the president, who went out on a limb for him despite what had happened during the campaign.

For now, Lieberman is "strongly inclined" to support a Republican filibuster of any bill with a public option, but we know what that means. He's threatening to push his weight around, a single vote that could make all the difference, a single vote that ultimately could deny Democrats the 60 votes they would need to break a filibuster, and he wants reform either to be crafted according to his wishes or to be obstructed to the point where nothing meaningful is done at all, with the added benefit, to him, of the Democratic Party splintering.

And it doesn't help that Harry Reid, full of it, is actually giving Lieberman the benefit of the doubt, at least in public. Have Democrats honestly learned nothing at all from the whole Lieberman saga?

(Check out all the reaction at Memeorandum.)

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