Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Medicare

They were against it, before they were for it. But they are really still against it, while saying they are defending it and saying government run health care can't work ... except it does? Or something.

At Medicare's 44th Birthday Party, GOP Shows Up Just to Gorge on Cake and Play 'Pin the Blame on the Donkey'

Meg White, BuzzFlash:

Yes, Medicare is 44 years old today, and while that's not exactly a milestone, the political atmosphere in which the celebration takes place this year elevates the importance of this birthday party to symbolic status.

The fact that Medicare got one year older during a historic struggle for comprehensive healthcare reform is something akin to being born on Christmas: Everyone's partying, but you're not sure it's really about you.

Single-payer advocates are holding up Medicare as an example of how government-run healthcare can work better than private healthcare. "Public option" proponents point out how Medicare functions as a partial competitor with private plans as evidence that such an option should exist for everyone.

Such arguments may be a bit opportunistic, but at least they make some logical sense. The fact that the GOP is trying to use the occasion of Medicare's birthday to insist on the destruction of heathcare reform, on the other hand, is both opportunistic and nonsensically hypocritical.

Much like their crusade against the popular Social Security program, the GOP has always been anti-Medicare. Think Progress' Wonk Room compiled a list of prominent Republicans such as Ronald Reagan who opposed Medicare's creation 44 years ago by frightening people over "socialized medicine" and rationing. Hmmm, sound familiar?

But, due to the overwhelming popularity of Medicare, the argument that it should be dismantled is becoming tougher to make. Not only is Medicare popular, but it seems to actually work. Again from the Wonk Room:
Since 1965, "the health of the elderly population has improved, as measured by both longevity and functional status." In fact, according to a study from Health Affairs, life expectancy at age 65 increased from 14.3 years in 1960 to 17.8 years in 1998 and the chronically disabled elderly population declined from 24.9 percent in 1982 to 21.3 percent in 1994."

Prior to Medicare, "about one-half of America's seniors did not have hospital insurance," "more than one in four elderly were estimated to go without medical care due to cost concerns," and one in three seniors were living in poverty. Today, nearly all seniors have access to affordable health care and only about 14 percent of seniors are below the poverty line.
So, if it works and people like it, how is the GOP using Medicare to campaign against healthcare reform? Easy: They're arguing that Obama is going to pay for reform by cutting Medicare.

Obama said this week that he would not make cuts or changes to Medicare, but that he wanted to make it more efficient. But that doesn't stop the GOP from stoking the fear seniors have over what would happen if they lost Medicare, and connecting it with healthcare reforms now on the table.

Granted, there is a good reason people are afraid of Medicare disappearing: Republicans have been threatening to kill it for decades. They've suggested cutting funding and/or privatizing Medicare pretty much since it began. Now, all of the sudden, they are great defenders of the program.

Read the entire article for more.

Related articles:

44 Years Of Medicare Success

GOP Health Plan Is Modeled on Banking Deregulation

The Republicans Can't Afford for America to Succeed: That's Why They Oppose the Government Option

Conservatives fabricate ‘mandatory’ end-of-life consultations in health bill.

Right-Wing Florida Legislators Propose State Constitutional Amendment To Ban Federal Health Care

...Ban Federal health care? Isn't that what Medicaid and Medicare are?


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Skewed Views

From MediaMatters, yet another reason why people shouldn't believe anything that comes from F-Word Gnus:

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Going Forward While Looking Back

Bush Era Horrors Will Haunt Us Until We Truly Face Them

We can't just "move forward." We need to face who we've been and just how badly we've acted, if we care to become something better.
Tom Engelhardt:
Let's review for a moment.

In the name of everything reasonable, and in the face of acts of evil by terrible people, we tortured wantonly and profligately, and some of these torture techniques -- known to the previous administration and most of the media as "enhanced interrogation techniques" -- were actually demonstrated to an array of top officials, including the national security adviser, the attorney general, and the secretary of state, within the White House. We imprisoned secretly at "black sites" offshore and beyond the reach of the American legal system, holding prisoners without hope of trial or, often, release; we disappeared people; we murdered prisoners; we committed strange acts of extreme abuse and humiliation; we kidnapped terror suspects off the global streets and turned some of them over to some of the worst people who ran the worst dungeons and torture chambers on the planet. Unknown, but not insignificant numbers of those kidnapped, abused, tortured, imprisoned, and/or murdered were actually innocent of any crimes against us. We invaded without pretext, based on a series of lies and the manipulation of Congress and the public. We occupied two countries with no clear intent to depart and built major networks of military bases in both. Our soldiers gunned down unknown numbers of civilians at checkpoints and, in each country, arrested thousands of people, some again innocent of any acts against us, imprisoning them often without trial or sometimes hope of release. Our Air Force repeatedly wiped out wedding parties and funerals in its global war on terror. It killed civilians in significant numbers. In the process of prosecuting two major invasions, wars, and occupations, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans have died. In Iraq, we touched off a sectarian struggle of epic proportions that involved the "cleansing" of whole communities and major parts of cities, while unleashing a humanitarian crisis of remarkable size, involving the uprooting of more than four million people who fled into exile or became internal refugees. In these same years, our Special Forces operatives and our drone aircraft carried out -- and still carry out -- assassinations globally, acting as judge, jury, and executioner, sometimes of innocent civilians. We spied on, and electronically eavesdropped on, our own citizenry and much of the rest of the world, on a massive scale whose dimensions we may not yet faintly know. We pretzled the English language, creating an Orwellian terminology that, among other things, essentially defined "torture" out of existence (or, at the very least, left its definitional status to the torturer).

And don't think that that's anything like a full list. Not by a long shot. [...]

Perhaps the greatest fantasy of the present moment is that there is a choice here. We can look forward or backward, turn the page on history or not. Don't believe it. History matters.

Whatever the Obama administration may want to do, or think should be done, if we don't face the record we created, if we only look forward, if we only round up the usual suspects, if we try to turn that page in history and put a paperweight atop it, we will be haunted by the Bush years until hell freezes over.
You know he's right. It's not just about the lack of credibility in the Bush administration, it is also about our credibility as a nation that believes in the rules of law.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

GOP Health Reform Plan

Republicans Offer No Health Reform Plan
by RJ Matson, The St. Louis Post Dispatch

The party of "NO!" bipartisanship continues on.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Birther Madness

In spite of the propaganda that the lunatic fringe is spewing, the evidence shows that Barack Obama was Born in the USA.

This photo and more at
August 21, 2008

The truth about Obama's birth certificate.

Matthews To GOP Rep. Advancing ‘Birther’ Myth: ‘You Are Feeding The Whacko Wing Of Your Party’

July 21, 2009 -- Think Progress:
Over the past several months, the right wing has been advancing the discredited myth that President Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen. These so-called “birthers” claim that Obama hasn’t produced his a valid birth certificate to prove that he is eligible to be president. (He has). CNN’s Lou Dobbs is the latest to traffic in this nonsense, despite the fact that his own guest-host debunked the “birther” claims on Dobbs’s show.

Today on MSNBC, host Chris Matthews interviewed Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), co-sponsor of a bill that would require candidates for president in the future to present a copy of his or her birth certificate “to establish that the candidate meets the qualifications” for president. “The proposal is not crazy,” Campbell said in defense of the measure. “Congressman, nice try,” Matthews replied. “What you’re doing is appeasing the nutcases…you’re verifying the paranoia out there,” he said. Matthews then held up a copy of Obama’s birth certificate and said, “That’s the way to deal with this, mail this birth certificate to the whacko wing of your party.”

‘Birthers’ bring down Republican base

Hardball with Chris Matthews:
July 21: Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., joins Hardball’s Chris Matthews to talk about the so-called “Birther Movement,” a group of mostly Republicans who believe that President Obama was born outside of the U.S. and therefore is not a U.S. citizen.

Birther of a nation

The Rachel Maddow Show:
July 21: Ten Republicans have sponsored a bill requiring future presidential candidates to provide a birth certificate as proof of citizenship. The bill is a clear gesture of support to conspiracy theorists who have convinced themselves that President Obama was not born in the U.S. Rachel Maddow is joined by Washington Independent reporter Dave Weigel.

Madness is rare in individuals - but in groups, political parties, nations, and eras it's the rule.

~Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 1886

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Monday, July 20, 2009

"There are too many lives and livelihoods at stake."

Remarks by the President On Health Care
Children's Hospital - Washington, D.C.

July 20, 2009

I just had the opportunity to talk to doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, and administrators at this extraordinary institution. We spoke about some of the strains on our health care system and some of the strains our health care system places on parents with sick children.

We spoke about the amount of time and money wasted on insurance-driven bureaucracy. We spoke about the growing number of Americans who are uninsured and underinsured. We spoke about what's wrong with a system where women can't always afford maternity care and parents can't afford checkups for their kids, and end up seeking treatment in emergency rooms like the ones here at Children's. We spoke about the fact that it's very hard even for families who have health insurance to access primary care physicians and pediatricians. In a city like Washington, D.C., you've got all the doctors in one half of the city, very few doctors in the other half of the city. And part of that has to do with just the manner in which reimbursement is taking place and the disincentives for doctors, nurses, and physicians assistants in caring for those who are most in need.

And we spoke about where we're headed if we once again delay and defer health insurance reform.

These health care professionals are doing heroic work each and every day to save the lives of America's children. But they're being forced to fight through a system that works better for drug companies and insurance companies than for the American people that all these wonderful health professionals entered their profession to serve.

And over the past decade, premiums have doubled in America; out-of-pocket costs have shot up by a third; deductibles have continued to climb. And yet, even as America's families have been battered by spiraling health care costs, health insurance companies and their executives have reaped windfall profits from a broken system.

Now, we've talked this problem to death, year after year. But unless we act -- and act now -- none of this will change. Just a quick statistic I heard about this hospital: Just a few years ago, there were approximately 50,000 people coming into the emergency room. Now they've got 85,000. There's been almost a doubling of emergency room care in a relatively short span of time, which is putting enormous strains on the system as a whole. That's the status quo, and it's only going to get worse.

If we do nothing, then families will spend more and more of their income for less and less care. The number of people who lose their insurance because they've lost or changed jobs will continue to grow. More children will be denied coverage on account of asthma or a heart condition. Jobs will be lost, take-home pay will be lower, businesses will shutter, and we will continue to waste hundreds of billions of dollars on insurance company boondoggles and inefficiencies that add to our financial burdens without making us any healthier.

So the need for reform is urgent and it is indisputable. No one denies that we're on an unsustainable path. We all know there are more efficient ways of doing it. We just -- I spoke to the chief information officer here at the hospital and he talked about some wonderful ways in which we could potentially gather up electronic medical records and information for every child not just that comes to this hospital but in the entire region, and how much money could be saved and how the health of these kids could be improved. But it requires an investment.

Now, there are some in this town who are content to perpetuate the status quo, are in fact fighting reform on behalf of powerful special interests. There are others who recognize the problem, but believe -- or perhaps, hope -- that we can put off the hard work of insurance reform for another day, another year, another decade.

Just the other day, one Republican senator said -- and I'm quoting him now -- "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him." Think about that. This isn't about me. This isn't about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families, breaking America's businesses, and breaking America's economy.

And we can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. Not this time. Not now. There are too many lives and livelihoods at stake. There are too many families who will be crushed if insurance premiums continue to rise three times as fast as wages. There are too many businesses that will be forced to shed workers, scale back benefits, or drop coverage unless we get spiraling health care costs under control. [snip]

We can -- and we must -- make all these reforms, and we can do it in a way that does not add to our deficits over the next decade. I've said this before. Let me repeat: The bill I sign must reflect my commitment and the commitment of Congress to slow the growth of health care costs over the long run. That's how we can ensure that health care reform strengthens our national -- our nation's fiscal health at the same time.

Now, we always knew that passing health care reform wouldn't be easy. We always knew that doing what is right would be hard. There's just a tendency towards inertia in this town. I understand that as well as anybody. But we're a country that chooses the harder right over the easier wrong. That's what we have to do this time. We have to do that once more.

So let's fight our way through the politics of the moment. Let's pass reform by the end of this year. Let's commit ourselves to delivering our country a better future --

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

If your friends are conservatives then you won't need any enemies

Just in case you don't know how the conservative money machine works, the American Conservative Union got caught in the shakedown in a legislative dispute between FedEx and UPS.

The American Conservative Union asked FedEx for a check for $2 million to $3 million in return for the group’s endorsement in a bitter legislative dispute, then flipped and sided with UPS after FedEx refused to pay.

For the $2 million plus, ACU offered a range of services that included: “Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and/or other members of the ACU’s board of directors. (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column that appears in The Hill.)”

The conservative group’s remarkable demand — black-and-white proof of the longtime Washington practice known as “pay for play” — was contained in a private letter to FedEx , which was provided to POLITICO...

In the three-page letter asking for money on June 30, the conservative group backed FedEx. After FedEx says it rejected the offer, Keene signed onto a two-page July 15 letter backing UPS. Keene did not return a message left on his cell phone.

The whole dispute is about a bill which would make it easier for the Teamsters union to unionize FedEx. UPS is already organized by the Teamsters. FedEx has resisted unionization but UPS and the Teamsters believe that organizing FedEx would help ensure uniform labor standards throughout the industry.

As a supporter of unions as a progressive force for workplace rights and equality (in fact I once helped start a union at a former workplace,) I back UPS in the dispute. I'm up front about that and certainly don't expect anything for my support. I support the legislation because I believe it's the right thing to do. One would think that principled conservatives if they really believed that unionization was a bad thing wouldn't have to ask for money to support FedEx in this case, but would do it just because that's what they believe in. Ah, but that assumes that conservatives have principles. And at least in the case of the American Conservative Union, it appears that they don't have any, at least any that can't be bought.

Oh, yeah. They do apparently have one.

Maury Lane, FedEx’s director of corporate communications, said: “Clearly, the ACU shopped their beliefs and UPS bought.”


Just two weeks earlier, ACU had offered its endorsement to FedEx, saying in a letter to the company: “We stand with FedEx in opposition to this legislation.”

But there was a catch — an expensive one. ACU asked FedEx to pay as much as $3.4 million for e-mail and other services for “an aggressive grass-roots campaign to stop the legislation in the Senate.”

Granted, it's hard to believe anything that the ACU says about this but if Mr. Whitfield's assertion is true, then they endorsed UPS's position on the legislation for a different reason-- solely that they were rebuffed by FedEx. In which case they do stand for something-- SPITE!

"You don't let us watch your back, then we stick the knife in it ourselves."

Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby would be proud.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Legendary news icon Walter Cronkite has died.

The 'CBS Evening News' standard-bearer guided a nation through times of turmoil and great achievement. He was long considered 'the most trusted man in America.'

LA Times:

Walter Cronkite, the television newsman whose steady baritone informed, reassured and guided the nation during the tumultuous 1960s and '70s and who was still regarded as "the most trusted man in America" years after leaving his CBS anchor chair, has died. He was 92.

Cronkite died Friday at his home in New York after a long illness, according to CBS Vice President Linda Mason.

As anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News" from 1962 to 1981, Cronkite's masterful, disciplined stewardship helped television news come of age. He was arguably the most respected and recognizable media figure of his time.

Walter Cronkite Dies At 92

CBS News (6:53):
Legendary news anchor Walter Cronkite has passed away in New York at the age of 92. His journalistic career covered such historic events as the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, the assassination of JFK and the first man on the moon.

"And that's the way it is."

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Clowns. Seriously.

Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer:


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Based on how Palin is running her own state, it's a good thing she's quitting

Lost in all the discussion about how Sarah Palin's resignation will affect her future and her feud with a nineteen year old stud (how many 45 year old politicians get dragged into public spats with a teenager anyway), is the disaster she has been as Governor of the 'last frontier.' But today a story is out that is a prime example of how things have been going up there: Feds suspend Alaska's in-home health care programs.

ANCHORAGE — State programs intended to help disabled and elderly Alaskans with daily life — taking a bath, eating dinner, getting to the bathroom — are so poorly managed, the state cannot assure the health and well-being of the people they are supposed to serve, a new federal review found.

The situation is so bad the federal government has forbidden the state to sign up new people until the state makes necessary improvements.

No other state in the nation is under such a moratorium, according to a spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

My question is this: what exactly has she done competently since she's been in Government? Anything? And this is who some conservatives want for President? Man, if she ever becomes President there may even be some people who will miss Dubya, that's how bad she is.

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More Dumb Things Were Said

Hey, Someone Noticed


Craig Crawford:

They are coming across as a bunch of snarky and bitter old white men who cannot bear the thought of their kind losing power.

Wanker Of The Day

Jeff Sessions

Sessions Treats White Male Nominees Differently Than Female Latina Nominees

Third Branch, C and L:
For Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, white men deserve preferential treatment. Given his stated sympathies for the KKK, this is hardly surprising. But it is worth noting. [...]

Sessions demands preferential treatment for white men. He clearly applies a stricter standard to persons who are not white men. Given his history, this is hardly surprising. But it is also the perfect embodiment of the Republican philosophy.

That's Going To Leave A Mark

In a variation of the old admonition that a lawyer should never ask a question if they don't know the answer, today Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) learned that it's not a good idea to use someone to make an argument without making sure that the person being used isn't in the room:
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), seeking to discredit Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy, cited her 2001 "wise Latina" speech, and contrasted the view that ethnicity and sex influence judging with that of Judge Miriam Cedarbaum, who "believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices."

"My friend Judge Cedarbaum is here," Sotomayor riposted, to Sessions’s apparent surprise. "We are good friends, and I believe that we both approach judging in the same way, which is looking at the facts of each individual case and applying the law to those facts."
And what does Cedarbaum think about Sotomayor's judicial philosophy?
I don’t believe for a minute that there are any differences in our approach to judging, and her personal predilections have no affect on her approach to judging."
Oops. That has to be embarrassing.

Sotomayor, Dems, turn the Republicans' table

P.M. Carpenter:
On the first day of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings, Republican senators uttered approximately 12,000 words in opening statements. Of these, precisely 11 made sense: "Unless you have a complete meltdown, you're going to get confirmed," said Lindsey Graham, South Carolina's missionary of world-weary wisdom housed always so humbly in cracker-barrel folksiness.

That rhetorical sequestration conveniently stood out as the Republican soundbite to be aired by the media time and again, because, as suggested, those other 11,989 words were an audible blur of banality and base-pandering, proving only that the Beltway GOP had learned not one thing since eight months and nine days ago.

They tried their best to circle the ideological wagons and obfuscate, confuse and terrify the innocent -- as though these cartoonish little figures from Monsters Inc. had any believable terror left in them.

Frankly, it was a bit sad to see such once-mighty demagogues go so flat; but flat they were, beginning at the beginning, with ranking member Jeff Sessions, whose spooky "dangerous crossroads" opening statement sounded like a $5 séance complete with rattling plastic bones, lugubrious organ music and prerecorded apparitional hoots and hollers.

Barbara's Daily Buzz

After listening to all the Repuglican grandstanding today during the Sotomayor confirmation hearings, I am convinced she is absolutely right that "....a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." Sorry to say the Repuglicans are still the Party of just say NO, they still care more about Party Power than what's good for America!

* * *

My grandmother used to say, "vanity thy name is man" and it couldn't be more relevant than it is today -- the Repuglican male ego has been bruised and they have their boxers in a knot because "a Latina woman is wiser" than the whole lot of Repuglican males! Their egos "can't stand the truth" and so they go about tearing her down piece by piece, misrepresentation by misrepresentation. It's business as usual for the Repuglicans, slander the opponent in order to try and appear superior. It'll never happen, won't work, the Repuglicans have become so predictable that it makes them boring white males.

The 10 Dumbest Things Republicans Have Said About the Sotomayor Hearings

A list of the most ridiculous questions, jabs and rants by GOP lawmakers and other conservatives.

AlterNet Staff:
At her Senate confirmation hearing yesterday, judicial nominee Sonia Sotomayor had to keep a straight face while Republicans heaped shame upon their party with a flood of ridiculous questions, unjustified jabs and tangential, pointless rants.

From sexist attacks about Sotomayor's "temperament" to a rigorous interrogation about the definition of nunchucks, GOPers came up with a multitude of embarrassing ways to try to hinder the Supreme Court nominee's confirmation.

The craziness and incompetence on display at the hearings has been more than matched by the absurd smears leveled at Sotomayor in the conservative media. The shining lights of conservatism -- such intellectual heavyweights Pat Buchanan, G. Gordan Liddy and Rush Limbaugh -- have outdone themselves with uninformed, offensive rants about the nominee.

AlterNet has compiled the 10 dumbest, most ridiculous statements about Sotomayor to issue from the lips of GOP lawmakers and other conservatives in the past few weeks.

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Obama At The All Star Game

President Obama throws out the first pitch:

Visit Al Rodgers at DailyKos for a nice round up of photos.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Offensive Pseudo Pundit Strikes Again

Buchanan: Todd Palin should drown Levi Johnston.

Nate Carlile, Think Progress:

Earlier today, conservative pundit Pat Buchanan suggested that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s husband should murder his daughter’s ex-fiance, Levi Johnston, for saying Palin’s decision to resign came down to “money.” While appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Buchanan said:
BUCHANAN: “Well, first, with regard to Levi, I think First Dude up there in Alaska, Todd Palin, ought to take Levi down to the creek and hold his head underwater until the thrashing stops.“


Whenever that repeatedly offensive backwards nutcase shows up on any MSNBC program, I have to turn it off. I can NOT listen to his pompous and bigoted inanity without cussing at the TV.

His advocating of personal harm is beyond the limits of acceptable behavior. What's it going to take for MSNBC to finally come to their senses and get this sanctimonious Neanderthal madman off their programs, for good?

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Keith Olbermann recognizes my state senator as the 'worst person in the world.'

I hadn't posted on this story, largely because so many Arizona blogs have done a very good job of coverage, but now that it's gone national, I'd mention that in Keith Olbermann's countdown on July 8 he names our own state Senator from here in Navajo County, Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-ignoramus) as the 'worst person in the world.'

watch Olbermann naming Allen.

The original remark by Allen is here:

The whole issue started when Senator Allen was speaking on the senate floor in favor of uranium mining. She was against environmental restrictions and she said that because the earth has been here 6,000 years, long before environmental laws but we haven't damaged it yet by mining uranium there was no need to be concerned about environmental restrictions. After she made the 6,000 year comment someone (apparently someone who realized what she'd just said) tried to cut her off. Instead they only interrupted her train of thought so she started again with repeating the six thousand year thing.

What is most amazing is the way she said it. When for example a Mike Huckabee or a Sarah Palin say something like that they emphasize it, which to me makes it clear that they know that what they are saying isn't true and they are only chucking that in there to appeal to the fundamentalist crowd. But the way senator Allen says it makes it pretty plain that she believes that as a matter of course it simply is; sort of like if you or I began a sentence with, "The sun rises..."

Even leaving the 6,000 years aside, the fact that she also believes that there was no environmental damage before there were environmental laws and that uranium mining doesn't hurt the environment is also breathtaking in the level of ignorance that it displays. There is a good reason why they want to mine uranium now in the area around the Vermillion cliffs and the Grand Canyon. It's because in the place where they used to mine it, on the Navajo reservation, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley has banned any more uranium mining. Maybe she should visit the reservation or have lunch with President Shirley (who four years ago passed up a lot of government and private money when he refused to allow uranium mining to begin again on the reservation.) There are still dangerously radioactive (as well as chemically hazardous) tailings piles on the reservation from the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's and 1980's when uranium was mined there. That's besides the thousands of Navajos who worked in the mines or lived near them who have become sick and died over the decades from diseases, especially cancers very probably caused by exposure to uranium dust. Joe Shirley is a Leader (yes, that's with a capital 'L') who puts the welfare of his people first, something that is unfortunately a rare commodity in our state.

Our district, legislative district 5, abuts but does not extend onto the reservation. In fact, Senator Allen voted for the June 4 budget (the package which was transmitted to the Governor just in time for her veto on June 30, which is why we now have the special session.) The budget cut a great deal from rural hospitals and other institutions, so much so that our Republican state representative, Bill Konopnicki crossed party lines to vote against it. I pointed this out in a letter to the Holbrook Tribune. Senator Allen (who I had emailed several times before to express my opinion on issues) emailed me back saying she was annoyed at the letter. She disputed portions of it, but I know very well what was in that budget and the truth is she voted to gut healthcare and schools in her own district, and apparently doesn't know that she did vote for that.

Senator Allen was not originally elected to the position, but rather she was appointed by our county commission following the death of the incumbent (thanks, guys.) I will give my own commissioner, J.R. DeSpain, credit for opposing her, but he lost a 4-1 vote. It is true that state law required that they appoint a Republican to the position (since Jake Flake, the guy who died was a Republican) but you would think they would at least look for a Republican who knows the earth was here already before civilization began. There are some, you know. Heck, Konopnicki (a decent choice since they had to choose a Republican) was known to be interested in the position and as the state representative and a member of the same party he would have been the logical choice to appoint.

Maybe it is clear that senator Allen went to schools here in Arizona. After decades of Republican control of the legislature (even in the rare terms when there is a Democratic Governor) and starving the schools, it seems that the scariest part of having our kids taught in an underfunded educational system is that one day they grow up and take what they've learned in school to the legislature.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Blamin' Palin? You Betcha.

Who Blames Palin? Conservatives. Wow.

Palin, the press, and her "no más" moment

Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America:

Like frustrated welterweight Roberto Duran, who stunned the sporting world by walking away, mid-bout, from his 1980 prize fight against Sugar Ray Leonard with the memorable, muttered Spanish phrase for "no more," Sarah Palin's decision last week to walk away, mid-term, from her governorship stunned Beltway spectators and left bewildered Alaskans scratching their heads in amazement.

Palin's "no más" moment initiated lots of intriguing storylines, but, for me, the most fascinating one has been the visible split within the conservative movement over who's to blame for her early exit from the national stage. And specifically, how much culpability do the hated mainstream media deserve for the way Palin has been covered? For the way she's been smeared and attacked? [...]

But then a funny thing happened -- scores of conservative commentators broke ranks with the "liberal media" brigade and decided Palin's political problems were of her own making.

In other words, the beloved liberal media meme completely fractured under the weight of the Palin story. The front-line, knee-jerk troops were ready and eager to lob the ever-ready accusations, but it turned out that lots of Noise Machine generals weren't buying it, and instead of blaming the liberal media for Palin's disastrous weekend showing, they blamed ... Palin. [...]

How can it be the so-called liberal media's fault that Palin gets bad press when conservatives were out front giving Palin bad press? How can right-wingers argue that liberals are obsessed with taking Palin down, when it's conservatives who are elbowing each other to reach the front of the get-Palin crowd? In other words, shouldn't the question be: Why do conservatives hate Sarah Palin so much? [...]

And so it is today: Right-wing media activists are trying to whip up righteous indignation at how nasty and unfair the liberal media are being toward Palin and her decision to step down as governor. Truth is, conservative commentators are the ones unfurling the harshest critiques.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

From Washington, DC, It's Senator Al Franken!

Sen. Al Franken Sworn Into Office

Eric Kleefeld:

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has now been sworn into office as the junior Senator from Minnesota, six months and one day after his term would have otherwise begun if not for the super-close election and resulting litigation that kept his victory bottled up.


The former Saturday Night Live performer, author, radio host and Democratic activist, was administered the oath of office by Vice President Joe Biden, and was accompanied by his senior Senator from Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar, and former Vice President Walter Mondale.

Franken Lands Plum Committees, to Debut at Sotomayor Hearings

Deborah White:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and top Senate Democrats have reserved high-profile committee assignments for Sen. Franken, including:
Sen. Franken was selected for these plum yet challenging committee assignments because he's both unusually bright and quite conversant on the issues. And because he's an unabashed, unashamed progressive Democrat who will undoubtedly be a reliable liberal vote and voice. [...]

Look for Sen. Franken to make his public debut as political leader on July 13th, when Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee to being hearings on her confirmation.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Sarah Is A Quitter. Also.

The Iquitarod!: Sarah Palin's Latest Arctic Sport

Geoffrey Dunn:

Oh My God!!! My friends in Alaska are having all the fun: Shannyn Moore and AKMuckraker, legends both, squires of free speech, calling up the spirits of Lexington and Concord on the Fourth of July, no less, and challenging the wannabe Queen of Alaska, "the deranged frostvixen quitterface" (to borrow a phrase from HuffPo's Jason Linkins), and her duplicitous court jester of an attorney, Tommy Van Flein, who apparently fancies himself barrister for the House of Hanover.

It's been a helluva Independence Day weekend in the Last Frontier. Wow! First the Governor resigns (I had her nearly incoherent speech translated into English to make sure this was confirmed), then she allows no questions, no open media coverage, provides no serious explanation (save for the most banal and insipid basketball metaphors) and expects no one to wonder why in the world she would step down from the governorship, which is the only platform from which she can claim any political legitimacy. And we're not supposed to speculate? Come now.

Leave it to Paul Begala to muster up the ghost of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's all-mighty line: When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. If only the Doctor of Gonzo were around now to turn Palin and her circle of sycophants into mincemeat. For us mere mortals, we can only have her for lunch.

And just when you think it can't get any weirder--the trailer trash revelations of Troopergate; the McCain camp calling her a "whack job from Wasilla"; the turkeys being slaughtered in the background on Thanksgiving; her on-again, off-again, on-again, off-again, on-again attendance at GOP fund raisers--then Palin's shill of an attorney sends out the most inane, pathetic and ridiculous press release that I have ever seen in my 35 years in journalism. It's a full-fledged assault on the First Amendment. He's threatening to sue the indomitable Shannyn Moore, HuffPo, the New York Times, Washington Post, and half the internet for speculating as to the real reasons that Palin stepped down from Governor--and in the end, there were only two possible explanations: 1) that there was some sort of bombshell about to explode; or 2) that Palin did such an absolutely wretched job as Governor that she couldn't do anything but quit. [...]

Then came the threat: "To the extent several websites, most notably liberal Alaska blogger Shannyn Moore, are now claiming as 'fact' that Governor Palin resigned because she is 'under federal investigation' for embezzlement or other criminal wrongdoing, we will be exploring legal options this week to address such defamation." No one has claimed anything as fact. What radio host and blogger Moore and others, including myself, reported was that there were rumors of a pending investigation. The rumors have been circulating everywhere. Why? [...]

I disagree with some of my friends who say this is "out of character" for the good governor. Sarah Palin quit five colleges in her otherwise unremarkable collegiate career, before finally graduating from the sixth. She quit her job in television. She and Todd quit their snow machine dealership in Big Lake. She quit her job as Mayor of Wasilla to run for lieutenant governor. She quit as chair of the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. Now she has quit the governorship of the state she supposedly loves. Sarah Palin is a quitter. When the going gets tough, Sarah Palin quits.

Sarah Palin has no game.


Saturday, July 04, 2009

Freedom Festival Fireworks 2009

Happy Fourth!

Liberty is to the collective body, what health is to every individual body. Without health no pleasure can be tasted by man; without liberty, no happiness can be enjoyed by society.

~Thomas Jefferson


Friday, July 03, 2009

Gov. Palin Stepping Down

Palin to resign as Alaska governor

Former VP hopeful says she'll work for change from outside government


Sarah Palin made a surprise announcement Friday that she will resign as governor of Alaska in a few weeks, saying she will try to "affect positive change" from outside government.

The former Republican vice presidential candidate hastily called a news conference Friday morning at her home in suburban Wasilla, giving such short notice that only a few reporters actually made it to the announcement. [...]

She is handing the reins over to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who will be sworn in at the governor's picnic in Fairbanks on July 26. Parnell and most of Palin's cabinet and Palin's family were at the announcement.

Palin was vague about why exactly she is stepping down rather than finish out her first term, which ends in 2010.

Video available at the MSNBC link.


Sarah Palin: I QUIT.

A GOP Presidential prospect for 2012 hadn't melted down yet this week. But I figured, it's Friday so there's still time. And sure enough--

I'm reading that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, apparently upset about a Vanity Fair article out this week that quoted anonymous former McCain staffers who said that she was difficult to work with, has decided to quit.

No, not in the sense of 'won't run for re-election.' More in the sense of 'I quit.' Now.

In a stunning move, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain's 2008 vice presidential running mate, announced today that she'll resign later in the month and won't seek a second term next year.

Palin, a possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate, didn't answer any questions today and remains mum about her future intentions.

McCain, an Arizona Republican, made Palin a household name nearly a year ago when he picked her to join his ticket. On the national scene, Palin is one of those political figures who inspires passion in supporters and detractors alike. This week, Vanity Fair published a lengthy critical piece on Palin that allowed anonymous former McCain-Palin campaign officials to bash her.

Which, in my opinion, only proves that those who were concerned that she was too flaky and erratic to be President are right. Far from 'balancing' the ticket, the McCain-Palin ticket was erratic and inconsistent paired with erratic and inconsistent.

According to University of Virginia political science guru Larry Sabato, "Bizarro World: Sarah Palin just committed national political suicide by resigning as Governor of Alaska."

He's right about that. And every week another potential 2012 Republican Presidential candidate commits Hari-kiri.

Two weeks ago, it was John Ensign, who was in Iowa testing Presidential waters even as his fate was being sealed. One week ago it was South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Now it is Palin.

This benefits President Obama in two ways. First of course, potential 2012 foes are dropping like flies, but second this is now the third weekend when the GOP would prefer to talk about their opposition to health care, climate change legislation or Sonia Sotomayor but they will be competing in getting their message out with the weekly Republican meltdown story. In fact, the only Republican who is probably counting this as good luck is Mark Sanford.

At this rate, President Obama will have an easy time with re-election in 2012 because there won't be any Republicans left who haven't hit the self-destruct button.

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