Monday, November 30, 2009

Completing My Nanowrimo Novel

In case you are new to my blog, I discussed this at more length here, but I've been off-line for a few days while I finished my novel. The National Novel Writing Month is November, and the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and 30. It was tough as I write a lot of essays and political commentary, but never fiction before this. But, my sister talked me into it, and I'm pleased to announce that I turned in my 58, 995 word novel at 4:30pm this afternoon. It was a lot of fun, and there is a great sense of accomplishment, so if anyone has ever thought about writing, we will do it again next year.

I will be back up and blogging tomorrow.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How to Talk Health Care Reform Over Turkey

With thanks to Buzz Flash, some guidelines (which I have paraphrased here) on what to do tomorrow if you find yourself faced with the dilemma of what to say to that difficult relative about the health care debate.

  • If Grandma is on Medicare and says "Reform is going to destroy Medicare" then she has probably fallen for some of the Republican scare tactics. You can tell her that if she is one of the 3.4 million who fall into the doughnut hole, her savings will be immediate, and substantial.
  • If Uncle is 62, and laid off and says "No job, no insurance" you can tell him that this bill will ensure that older adults who no longer are eligible for employer funded insurance, will qualify for high-quality, affordable health care through "exchanges."
  • Aunt with a pre-existing condition who says "I always worry that my insurance will cut me off" you can tell her that the insurance companies cannot cut her off (rescind) or deny her coverage or raise her rates due to pre-existing conditions, current health status, or gender.
  • Cousin, just out of college who says "There are no jobs with insurance" you can say that her parents can keep her on their policy until she is age 27, rather than 22 as it now.
  • Sister, small business owner who says "It is tough paying for employees' health insurance" you can say that reform will allow her to provide coverage at a fair price and tax credits will help her pay the premiums.
And, if everyone in your family is healthy, employed, and has adequate, quality insurance, you have much to be thankful for.You might remind them that this reform will help all the families that are not as lucky as they are and that they will all end up saving over the long term as the reduction to the overall cost of health care will be passed on to all consumers. (Not to mention a healthy society is a more productive society).

If they are still screaming about health care, politely remind them that high blood pressure is a pre-existing condition and could result in their insurance company cancelling their policy or raising their rates.

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Perino, No Terrorist Attacks Under Bush - Obama Appoints to BBG

Last week, President Obama appointed Dana Perino to the Broadcast Board of Governors (BBG). This group oversees all non-military government broadcasting overseas including Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, and others.

Dana Perino was President Bush's Press Secretary at the end of his administration and, according to CBS News, among other things called torture safe, legal, and effective.

Since his election, President Obama has worked hard towards bipartisanship, reaching across the aisle when formulating policy, building his cabinet, making appointments, and setting legislative agendas. Some of his appointments have been inspired and reflected an almost Machiavellian view of his long-term political goals. Other choices have been incomprehensible to not only his progressive supporters, but to members of the media and his party.

This selection of Perino, to many on the left is an insult. As Press Secretary, she was responsible for spreading the propaganda of an administration that had lied us into two wars, broken treaties, thrown away any moral authority this country might have owned, and has continued to do so ever since.

Since her appointment, she appeared on the Sean Hannity show on Fox News to discuss the recent tragedy at Fort Hood. The investigation is still ongoing and while some information has been leaked, it is clearly too soon for any determination to be made as to the motivations of the man responsible.

In her conversation with Hannity, Perino said,

"There is one thing that I would say about Fort Hood that I feel very strongly about and I don't say this to be political, but we did have a terrorist attack in this county and we need to call it what it is."
After Hannity asks her - after several more slurs on the President, why no one else can say it so simply, she then goes on to say,

"We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term.I hope they're not looking at this politically. I do think that we owe it to the American people to call it what it is."
How many Republican appointments has President Obama made that have actually supported him afterward?  One? Two?

Like most Republicans and virtually everyone appearing on Fox, Ms. Perino neither corrected Sean Hannity's lies, nor did Mr. Hannity correct Ms. Perino's outrageous statemet that "We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term."

Hello? September 11, 2001? The World Trade Center Towers? The Pentagon? Flight 93? "My Pet Goat." Undisclosed locations? Lynn Cheney sitting in the Situation Room passing on orders from Dick because he was too afraid to come out of hiding and W was being flown all over the place?

That was what is referred to as a terrorist attack on this country. It happened on President Bush's watch. He had plenty of warning, but he told his briefer, "Okay, you covered your butt" and went back to his vacation. You can probably be excused from thinking anything happened while Bush was president though, he was on vacation for more than a third of it.

By the way, this is a position that requires Senate confirmation. If you have a concern with this appointment, as I do, contact your Senator.

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Catch the video and more at Crooks and Liars here

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Glenn Greenwald Rips Weekly Standard

The Weekly Standard has an article up, Al Qaeda's Civil Liberties Union. As Glenn Greenwald notes over at Salon, it, "...sputters with so much fact-free, impotent, and self-defeating rage that it's hard to believe it was printed."

The Standard cites the case of Moazzam Begg, who after his release from Guantanamo, they say, gave his name to a video game depicting Guantanamo prisoners blasting out of prison by killing mercenaries which the Standard reminds us are really U.S. soldiers. They also complain of an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) produced short film about Guantanamo prisons that includes Begg, and claims that the prisoners in the film are all unfairly detained.

According to the Standard, documents from the Bush Administration prove otherwise. As Glenn noted in his article,

"But what he dishonestly -- though understandably -- fails to note is that each of these individuals are available to appear in the ACLU video because they were released from Guantanamo by the Bush administration [Moazzam Begg (released 2005); Omar Deghayes (released 2007); Bisher al-Rawi (released 2007); Ruhal Ahmed (released 2004); Shafiq Rasul (released 2004)].  If, as Joscelyn claims, the ACLU are Al Qaeda's "useful idiots" for producing a video containing interviews with these individuals, what are Bush officials who released them onto the streets?"

Don't bother with the Weekly Standard, but Glenn is always worth the read.

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VetVoice View of Sarah Palin's Lies About President Obama

A soldier's view of Palin's comments regarding President Obama's attention to our fallen service men and women here.

The author also notes President Obama's
  • increased funding for the Department of Veteran's Affairs
  • ending the Stop Loss Policy
  • cancelling the F-22 thus freeing up money for weapons that were actually needed
As a pacifist, I must admit that I have a hard time with that last item as I see the only good decision is one that ends the war, but in all instances, we must support the troops that our bad decisions have committed to this insanity.

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Sarah Palin - Pathological Liar?

In Politico this morning Sarah Palin is quoted as saying:

“I want him [Obama] to acknowledge the sacrifices that these individual men and women — our sons, our daughters, our moms, our dads, our brothers and sisters — are providing this country to keep us safe.”

 Can anyone say Dover? Fort Hood? The fact that President Obama has taken weeks to be thoughtful and deliberative before making a decision to send our troops into harms way.

It is called pathological lying. There is no need for the lie, there may or may not be any tangible gain resulting from the lie, and you tell so many of them, that you usually cannot remember them to the point that you are caught lying. According to the Psychiatric Times, "... pathological lies often appear purposeless. In some cases, they might be self-incriminating or damaging, which makes the behavior even more incomprehensible." 

Pathological lies are distinguised from compulsive lying by the motivation. Compulsive liars are usually goal-directed. They lie to avoid consequences, to get out of trouble, to gain some benefit, to make themself look better in the eyes of other, or for some tangible reward that is evident to others. The motivation may not be apparent initially, but there is a motive.

A pathological liar has no motive. They lie because they are a liar. Many of their lies do make sense and appear to be motivated for personal gain, but it is accidental. In the case of Sarah Palin, the confusion set in when she lies for no apparent reason. She lies when there is voluminous evidence that she is lying, and she know that this evidence exists. She lies about her lies, and then lies again, and when confronted, claims that red is green and that up is down. What is remarkable, is that her followers believe her, but that is their delusion and this is not about them. Sarah Palin has no motivation for most of her lies, and would likely have achieved her goals without them.

There is dramatic evidence that President Obama has demonstrated, recently, how much he cares about our troops. Why did she lie about it? Perhaps because this week she is visiting military bases so the thought occurred to her. Perhaps if she were visiting department stores, she would give a speech about how the president needs to show how much he cares about the workers who make our shoes. Or that Michelle Obama obviously does not care about American department store workers because she shops from the J. Crew catalog and not at department stores, or something. Whatever pops. By the way, this is called lack of impulse control and I won't go into the population I work with in which I usually find that particular disorder.

Anyway, once again, Sarah Palin is on the front page. Once again she has said something controversial. Once again she has said something that is demonstrably not true. She is truly pathological.

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Churches Sign Their Own Manhattan Declaration - What Happened to Climate Change?

From Political Carnival comes this great post. A reader on the "Team Sarah" mailing list sent in an email about the "Manhattan Declaration." The post points out that the key paragraphs come at the end, when it states that:

"Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.

We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's.
" If you want to sign your name to this declaration here is the link [...]"

As the post author, GottaLaff points out, can anyone say unconstitutional? Going on to add:

"Hello Team! Wow! It's exclamation point time! And guess what! The suggestions in your e-mail! Unconstitutional!

The U.S. Constitution says that abortion is legal! And that everyone is equal under the law! Yes, that's right! The law! That's the binding custom and practice that governs us and keeps us in line so we don't do bad things! Like kill people! And incite violence!

Guess what else! God didn't write the U.S. Constitution! Men did! Men we call our founding fathers! For a reason!

And if you are anti anti-life acts, don't forget about capitol punishment! And war! And assassinating physicians who legally perform abortions! Now that's immoral!

So immoral it deserves an extra !"

The actual declaration is huge, but the mission of the declaration according to the website is:

"Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.
We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:
  1. the sanctity of human life
  2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
  3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

Interesting factoid. The original Manhattan Declaration? Signed on March 4, 2008, it is actually called the Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change and was signed by, "We the scentists and researchers in climate and related fields, economists, policymakers, and business leaders, assembled at Times Square, New York City, participating in the 2008 International conference on Climate Change."

Hmmm. I wonder where the churches came up with their name? Their declaration was drafted on October 20, 2009 and released on November 20, 2009. Hmmm. 2008. 2009. Funny coincidence.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

A Moment of Zen from Chad Richard

Take five minutes to relax and enjoy.

Time-Lapse Favs from Chad Richard on Vimeo.

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A Test for Sarah Palin

This is the test Sarah Palin should be required to take. Fill in the blanks. Mark Olmstead of thetrashwhisperer has even left the -stans and capital cities in for her to make it easier. Anyone who has paid even minimal attention to the evening new in the past year, or read a newspaper, or any news source for that matter, should have no difficulty filling this out.

Read the rest of Mark's suggestions for Sarah here.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Our Culture of Violence Makes Tasering 8 Year Old Okay? I Blame the Becks and Palins of the World

My interests are the intersection of sociology and politics, and as such, I've been watching the growing use of tasers. I have to wonder at a culture that believes that violence is the appropriate solution to, well, everything. Yesterday, the Anti-Defamaton League (ADL) announced that Glenn Beck is the most toxic hate monger operating in the U.S. today. He and Sarah Palin and the extremist fringe of the far right preach a brand of violence that is cloaked in religiosity that they believe makes it acceptable. Palin did not quit her job, she stopped to "reload." Citizens are reminded that Thomas Jefferson himself said that "the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of patriots." As do most fundamentalists, quotes are cherry-picked from the original source to support whichever claim is needed at the moment. In this culture of violence, more and more extreme behavior becomes acceptable, and becomes not the behavior at issue, but the individuals involved.

Now, the police have tased an eight-year-old girl. Unable to get her child to go to bed, unable to stop her tantrum, mom called the police. Compounding that stupidity, they responded. Attempting to carry the child to bed (I wonder if the officer has any children of his own, otherwise he would have known better), kicking and screaming, she kicked him in the groin. So of course he tased her. Does he think she kicked him in the balls on purpose? Does he think an eight-year-old knew the best place to kick for maximum effect? Doubtful. The child, of course, became quiet and obedient immediately. Did mom and officer then put her to bed? Maybe take her to the hospital to ensure that she had sustained no damage from the taser (she weighs 65 pounds)? No. He arrested her for assaulting him and took her to youth detention.

In statements the mayor and police chief say
"People here feel like that he made a mistake in using a Taser, and maybe he did, but we will not know until we get an impartial investigation," McDaniel said. The state police declined his request Tuesday, saying it only gets involved if the officer in question was accused of misconduct or targeted in an internal investigation.

Police Chief Jim Noggle said no disciplinary action was taken against Bradshaw. He said Tasers are a safe way to subdue someone who's a danger to themself or others. "We didn't use the Taser to punish the child - just to bring the child under control so she wouldn't hurt herself or somebody else," Noggle said. If the officer tried to forcefully put the girl in handcuffs, he could have accidentally broken her arm or leg, Noggle said. He said a touch of the stun gun - "less than a second" - stopped the girl from being unruly, and she was handcuffed, he said. "She got up immediately and they put her in the patrol car," McDaniel said."

I'm sorry, but are there any parents reading this? I cannot imagine ever, ever calling the police to resolve a tantrum. Sure there were times when things got out of control. Fortunately, I like to think I was a pretty good parent - my kids tell me I was - and we rarely had those kinds of problems, but I think every parent has at least one story to tell... But seriously. What do you do when your child is kicking and screaming and yelling and refusing to go to bed? You walk away. You go into the other room, shut the door, and ignore them. I guarantee it, they will stop. It may take a little while, but you have to wonder at the parenting skills of a mother who has those kinds of problems with an eight-year-old. By the age of eight, bedtime is not normally an issue. I would guess that bedtime was the least of the reasons that child was screaming.

I know that our police have a difficult job and have to face scary situations every day. They never know what will happen when they walk up to that car they have just pulled over or what they will encounter when they respond to that domestic violence call; two of the most potentially dangerous situations police officers encounter. But an eight-year-old? There was no weapon reported. The child was 4' 6" tall, obviously a clear threat to a male police officer. Right. Violence has become too easy as a response to every situation. It is preached to us in the media, every day.

Within the police culture, there is a growing use of force to respond to verbal abuse, passive resistance, and the failure to instantly cooperate - even if that failure to cooperate is the result of a disability caused by a health condition or intoxication. Many times, police officers are unable to judge the cause of the resistance and discover later why the individual that they tased was not cooperative.

I am not certain when it became illegal to behave towards police officers with anything other than immediate courtesy and respect. Certainly resisting arrest is illegal, but in every definition that I could find, resistance was defined as assault and battery on the police officer or running away. Not hesitating to jump into the police car or offer one's hands out for handcuffs. Verbal abuse? Swearing? Anger and raised voices? Not pleasant. But dangerous? Life threatening? Requiring the use of physical force? I do not think so.

I could devote this blog to cases of police officers using tasers on persons who were on the ground, in handcuffs. Persons who were sitting in their vehicles unconscious. High school students who were in the hall without a hall pass. A paraplegic who had been pulled out of his wheelchair to the ground, then tased. But I won't. Other instances are detailed in a post I wrote here.

Beyond the actual use of tasers, is a culture that sees their use and shrugs, and turns the page. Of a media that listens to the Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins preach a message of hate, of death, and of division, and simply "reports, you decide." Journalism used to be about questioning, researching, and pointing out errors in what our national figures were saying. Now we have our national media figures angry because the citizens notice the lies and reject the message of hate. These figures feel attacked and threatened and incite even more violence. They claim religion as their guide, and wave a stern, vengeful God who evidently approves of a culture that would tase an eight-year-old child.

Why do I connect Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and tasers? I write about the sociological intersection of politics and culture. Our society has become more and more violent. In the past forty years, we have embraced a law and order mentality and move away from a rehabilitation model. The behavior of our police is becoming more and more reactive, and they are less and less often expected to take responsibility. 

After all, it is not the behavior that is at fault any more. It is the label worn by the individuals involved. The President is good/bad depending on the label. The victim is good/bad (or even a victim) depending on the label. Someone is a murderer or not, depending on the label. Police always good, Republicans always good, Conservatives always good, Christians always good. Ignore sex tapes, adultery, ethics violations, bribery, murder, lying, any of the sins mentioned in the Bible, or laws on any of the books. Wear the right label, and it does not matter. Do good, be good, but wear the wrong label? Bad.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sarah Palin Wants to Cut Imports to Iraq? What About theTroops?

Thanks to TPM for catching this one. Sarah Palin is having a problem with geography, again. Where does she send Track's care packages?

"Cutting off the imports into Iraq, of their refined petroleum products. They're reliant -- 40 to 45 percent of their energy supply is reliant on those imports. We have some control over there.

"And some of the beneficial international monetary deals that Iraq benefits from -- we can start implementing some sanctions there and start really shaking things up, and telling Ahmadinejad, nobody is going to stand for this."

And this has a chance to be president? I don't think so.

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Escada Piano

Something for fun.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Couple of Fun Factoids - Palin Meets Her Doppelganger and Keep America Safe Fails to Rally

A couple of fun factoids from today.
  • Sarah Palin will be in Denver on Thursday on what she likes to call her "road trip" but what others commonly refer to as a book tour. The woman who proudly proclaims herself a "real" American and pro-life, has been rated a Tier 4 by American Right to Life (ARTL), a very powerful anti-abortion grou and they plan to rally in opposition to her.Tier 4 is earned when an individual claims that they are pro-life, but "deny the personhood and God-given right to life of the unborn." Considered one of the more radical of the anti-abortion groups, ARTL sees the issue in black and white with absolutely no shades of gray: you see abortion as murder, or you don't. The fact that Sarah Palin appointed a pro-choice judge to the Supreme Court of Alaska was enough to lose her Tier 1 position. There are other factors that ARTL cites, but that was the biggie for them. I just find the whole thing ironic, and something you might expect to see in a sci-fi movie. You know, the character suddenly meets their doppelganger or other self? Except, in fiction, there is always some sort of explosive event when that happens as two selves cannot exist in the same time and place together. Here is Sarah Palin coming face to face with some of her lies and political manipulations, but this time, it is all coming from the right, and her religious right at that.
  • Bill Kristol, Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, and Liz Cheney tried to get a rally going to protest the decision by Eric Holder to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court in New York. They each tweeted their followers (Rove has 92,000, Gingrich 1.2 million) to meet at 9:30 Wed. Nov. 18 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building to oppose Attorney General Holder's testimony as to why he had made this decision. Liz Cheney's new group, "Keep America Safe" is all about promoting the neo-con policies espoused by her father and she tweeted a reminder a couple of hours before the hearing. The fun fact part? Nobody showed up. Oh the hearing happened, and there were plenty of people there on both sides of the debate (see the post below on Senator Sessions), but there were also empty seats, and nobody identified as being a member of Keep America Safe either inside or outside the Dirksen Building. This leaves me with a nice, warm fuzzy feeling. 
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Senator Sessions Flips. Again. Enemy Combatants Become Prisoners of War

If you are a regular reader, you know how much I love to write about Senator Sessions and the serial stupidity of the GOP. I believe that Mr. Sessions exemplifies that quality.

As the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, today Sessions inserted both feet into his mouth when he responded to a discussion about Fort Hood, terrorism, and the upcoming trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammad by saying:

"The enemy, who could of been obliterated on the battlefield on one day, but was captured instead does not then become a common American criminal. They are first a prisoner of war, once they're captured. The laws of war say, as did Lincoln and Grant, that the prisoners will not be released when the war - until the war ends. How absurb is it to say that we will release people who plan to attack us again?"

This is a really interesting comment. The "war on terror," according to the terms set forth by just about everyone, has no real ending. When do we say it is over? If prisoners then are prisoners of this war on terror, when can they expect to be released? They can't. That is exactly why Bush and company created the military tribunal system, Guantanamo Bay, and the designation "enemy combatant." The use of the term "prisoner of war" has very specific legal obligations to the country holding that individual.  Why do you think that Bush and company were very, very careful to never, ever refer to any of the "enemy combatants" or other residents at Guantanamo Bay as "prisoners of war?" They and the mainstream media refer endlessly to the "war on terror." But they had to create a new lexicon to wage it. Enhanced interogation. Enemy combatant.

Senator Sessions just as the rest of the Republicans do, chooses which terminology fits the argument, or which argument fits the results he wants to reach.

h/t Crooks and Liars

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Image from irvinehousingblog dot com

Palin & Beck Projecting Anger Will Incite More Violence

Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and the others or their ilk are inciting violence by projecting their anger and hate onto others. Palin's cavalier attitude about lying is obviously something she feels is acceptable, and probably so because she has projected that attitude onto others. If you assume that everyone lies, then it is okay if you do it.

I've talked here a little about projection. It is a term that is extremely important to understand in the therapeutic process, and something that counselors pay attention to as we watch for transference and counter-transference. Most of the time, it has little effect on our day to day life if we are reasonably healthy (from a mental health standpoint) and functioning well.

What many people do not understand about mental illness, is that in all cases except one,* a necessary criteria for a diagnosis of a mental health disorder, is the effect on the ability to function. An individual may have a delusion, but if the delusion does not otherwise interfere with the activities of daily living, then a diagnosis of a disorder is not appropriate.That does not mean that an individual cannot have symptoms of a mental health disorder and exhibit features that are typical of someone with poor coping skills, one of the more common being projection. It also does not mean that everyone with poor coping skills and difficulty functioning has a mental illness. It is all too easy for armchair psychologists to diagnoses those they see in the news and decide what they should or should not do. Just as we complain about the pundits making pronouncements we disagree with, it is too easy to state that those we disagree with have some sort of mental illness.

Projection occurs when you place your fears and insecurities onto someone or something else. Everything that you dislike about yourself, everything that you are afraid of,is out there. The qualities you least like about yourself are those you are most likely to react to in others. Does the saying "thou doest protest too much" ring a bell? Are you having an affair, or seriously tempted to have one? You probably feel guilty about it, which sets up a cognitive dissonance. The brain does not like dissonance. It is uncomfortable. To resolve it, it projects those feelings onto someone else, so you believe your significant other is cheating, thus making your behavior okay. Do you cheat on your taxes? Then you assume that everyone else does. Do you lie? Even "tiny" lies (and tell me, where exactly is that line)? Then so does everyone else.

We assume that everyone else is just like us, that they behave like us, that they think like us, and that they will respond like us. We also believe that if people look like us, they will like us, so we like them. People tend to like those who like them, so if you like those around you, they will most likely like you. We tend to agree with those we associate with, and conversely, people who associate with us tend to agree with us. This is called the false consensus effect. It is an interesting dynamic and one that organizers of Tea Parties and Town Hall disruptions and other similar events understand. I am certain that along with all the other experts employed by public relations firms, social psychologists hold an important place.

People who project their fears and insecurities on others, have learned to avoid responsibility and to blame others. By projecting what is wrong onto someone or something else, you do not have to deal with it. Is everything going wrong in your life? Are you having problems at work or at home? Can't get along with your neighbors? It's the governments fault, those illegal immigrants, those minorities, that fake president, or something out there. It is not your fault, so you have no responsibility to solve the problem. It is somebody else's problem to fix.

If people don't look like us, then we become confused, especially if we have no frame of reference for dealing with people that are not like we are. Our normal method of processing information is shaken, and we look around for something or someone to help us and we become vulnerable to the likes of Glenn Beck, or Sean Hannity; people who look like us and appear to have authority and talk and act as if they know what they are doing. When our locus of control is external, then we look to external sources to regain control.

Someone like Glenn Beck is projecting all of his anger and hate onto the people he blames for everything wrong with this country; President Obama and the Democrats and progressives. It does not matter what the president does, what Congress does or does not do, because they are who they are, it has to be wrong. Glenn is so full of rage and has focused that rage on President Obama, that he must generate ever more illogical "facts" to maintain the emotional momentum he is building. It still is not clear whether or not he believes what he is saying or whether or not he is in it purely for the money, but it is clear that there is an underlying hate in this man. He has incited acts of violence that have caused death. He continues to do so and laughs about causing the deaths of those he disagrees with. At this point, his motives don't matter. What matters, is that he has a national platform, a lot of followers, the support of the Republican Party, and a society with a lot of deeply disturbed people looking for directions.

Stop and think about this for a moment. He laughs about the possibility of Speaker Pelosi dying, and of his causing her death. He laughs at the thought of the President dying. He laughs at the thought of revolution. What does revolution mean? It means death, war in the street, people dying. He assumes that his followers are just like him. That they believe as he does. He opens his show and tells his viewers to "be sure to DVR this." And they do. What else will they do?

Sarah Palin is on her book tour this week. Over the weekend the AP fact checked her book and found numerous instances of out and out lies, which she referred to on her Facebook page as "opposition research." What is that? On Oprah, she accused "Obama's people" of coming to Alaska after the election and doing "opposition research" and claimed it as one of the reasons for her resignation from the governorship. Why would he? Why would he care? And again, what is "opposition research?"

On Keith Olbermann's show last night, he had great fun showing video clip after video clip side by side of lies told. One thing said a year ago and reported differently in the book. Most of them so trivial it was dumb to lie about it. Rachel Maddow had AnaMarie Cox on her show to discuss Sarah Palin's treatment of Steve Schmidt and Nicole Wallace (McCain campaign staff) in the book. Again, out and out lies easily verified through emails, video, and statements from others who had been present during the events spoken of.

But remember, in the Palinverse, just like the Beckverse, and in the world of those who are unable to cope with their own problems so project them onto others, everyone lies, so they do. All of their problems are caused by factors outside their control - in this case, President Obama - so they blame him. Sarah Palin lost the election (funny, I thought McCain did), so therefore it was the fault of everyone who worked on the campaign. The facts weren't quite interesting enough in the book, so re-write the scenes and make them fit the Palinverse. Have the truth come out? Oh well. Everyone lies. So what. That's what life is like in the Palinverse and how she wants to recreate our country.

Why should we care? Because there are many, many people in this country who are angry, scared, confused, filled with rage, hurting, and deeply disturbed. There are many, many people who have lost their jobs, their homes, their health care, and thus their medications. People who have trouble coping and who have perhaps begun to (or continued to) self-medicate themselves as a way to cope. People who watch Fox News and grasp onto anything they can as an external locus of control, any way possible to blame someone else. Glenn Beck does it. Sarah Palin does it. Rush Limbaugh, the head of the Republican Party does it. Our legislative leadership stands back and allows it and in fact, appears with them and tacitly supports them. So we are sending the message to these people that violence is the answer. We are sending the message to people who are deeply angry and deeply disturbed that violence is okay.That these powerful, important people would like for the powerful, important Democrats to be dead.

President Obama receives on average 30 death threats per day. This is a 400% increase from the average 3,000 per year that President George W. Bush received.

The people that Sarah Palin speak to, that she is trying to attract, are the people who carry guns to presidential events. When asked by Oprah what her plans were for a presidential run in 2012 were, she responded with something her father had said, "She didn't quit, she just stopped to reload." Shortly afterward, a woman called into a newspaper in Michigan and threatened "to do what they did at Fort Hood" because she didn't like an anti-tea party editorial. Carrie Prejean runs around crying about her free speech supported by Beck and Palin, and their supporters threaten the free speech of others?

AnaMarie Cox suggested last night that with this book, any political aspirations that Sarah Palin might have are over. Other political pundits disagree, saying that with a Republican party membership at about 20%, and a primary field so large, it is very possible that Sarah Palin could win the nomination. She really doesn't need that many votes to actually win the Republican primaries. Many Democrats say yay, no way could she win against Obama. But look at the progressive and Democratic anger against Obama. Are we sure? She may be a liar and a joke, but even the Joker was dangerous.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

* DSM-IV criteria include as a condition for a diagnosis, an impairment in the ability to function in one or more of life's major activities, except one, dysthymia, which is characterized as a low-grade, chronic depression, sort of like always having the blues, but not enough to really interfere with your day to day life. So in effect, a legitimate DSM-IV diagnosis, treatable, but does not require the criteria of functional impairment.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stupak - "We Won Fair and Square" - Neener, Neener, Neener

On Fox & Friends today, Bart Stupak (D-MI) talked with Steve Doocy about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment recently passed in the House. Responding to reports that his amendment might not make it into the final bill, Mr. Stupak stated,

“They’re not going to take it out. If they do, health care will not move forward…We won fair and square.”

White House Senior Advisor, David Axelrod was reported to have said over the weekend that the language of the amendment should be adjusted, and Stupak replied as any proud Republican would (except he’s not) and stated quite firmly that,

“That is why Mr. Axelrod is not a legislator, he doesn’t really know what he is talking about.”

Ummm. Every time I read that or hear it, my jaw drops. Doesn't know what he's talking about? Serial stupidity does not belong only to Republicans. The White House Political Director, one of the two men responsible for getting Obama elected, and he doesn't understand legislating? I think Mr. Stupak will find his name missing from the White House invitation list from now on. He sounds like a little boy who hasn't learned how to play well with others yet. "We won fair and square...neener, neener, neener." Very adult.

I know it will play well to the GOPhers, but Stupak is a Democrat and wants to win Democratic votes. I think. He claims to have 20 Democrats who will join him in voting with him against the bill if his language is stripped out. Okay. There are at least forty who won’t vote for it if it isn’t.

What Mr. Stupak seems to not know what he is talking about, is that the amendment process on the House floor is a process. It is not the end of a bill. He introduced an amendment. He was told it would be voted on. It was. It passed. It was attached to the bill. It then goes, with all the other amendments and the bill to be attached to the Senate bill after their bill is finalized. No one expects that all of the amendments will make it through markup. A lot of them are just happy that they can go home and campaign on the fact that they offered an amendment and that it passed on the floor.

Most of their constituents don’t know or understand that something can pass on the floor and never make it into the final bill, or that the bill can die before it reaches a final vote, or never get signed, or that there are many, many things that can happen before a bill actually becomes law. The fact that an amendment made it onto the floor and passed is nice, but one of the reasons that legislators are willing to vote for amendments is the art of the deal. It is how they get votes for their pet amendments, or how the Speaker gets vote for the final bill. Many representatives will vote for an amendment because they know it will never make it through into the final bill. If they thought that this particular bill had any chance of making it into the final health care bill, it would never have passed.

Mr. Stupak has voted with his party 96.1% of the time, but this does not include the 8.5% of the time that he has not shown up for a vote. In the past year, the times when he has voted against his party include voting against paid family medical leave, the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights, Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009, and numerous appropriations bills to keep the government running. He lives in the C Street House owned by “The Family” while in Washington D.C., the house that became famous (infamous?) during the sex scandals involving Mark Sanford, John Ensign, and others.

[Totally off topic, but today C Street lost tax exempt status for about 66% of that house]

Stupak denies any real involvement with The Family and states that he just rents a room there. Jeff Sharlet, who lived at C Street and Ivanwald, a residence for young men also run by The Family, before he wrote his book on The Family, said that Stupak was a regular visitor to the Cedars at Ivanwald and questions his lack of participation in Family activities.

Stupak saw a way to make some video for his next campaign. He’s considering a run for governor which will be an open seat in 2010. Michigan has been blue since 92, although not solidly blue, so his conservatism clearly sells in the upper Midwest. He’s held his seat since 1993 and won his last race 65% to 35% so obviously feels pretty secure turning against his party’s platform. Many of his constituents want health care, however, and if he holds it up because of abortion, they may make him regret it.

This country still supports a woman’s right to choose regardless of what the religious right would have you say. In July 2009, a Harris poll found that 51% of Americans supported the provisions of Roe v. Wade vs. 44% opposed, with 5% unsure. On the issue of whether people considered themselves pro-choice or pro-life, a USA-Gallup poll taken at the same time found 46% found themselves pro-choice vs. 47% pro-life. Remember, someone can consider themselves pro-life, and not want to overturn Roe v. Wade. I consider myself pro-life, and support a woman’s right to choose. I just believe that if you say you are pro-life, you must also be against war, the death penalty, and allow a woman the right to decisions about her own life.

My biggest problem with Bart Stupak and the other Blue Dogs and Conservadems? They signed on as Democrats. The used the Democratic Party to get elected, they caucus with the Democrats, the accept committee assignments from the party, accept party money, and in return, accept the party platform. The platform and each plank are agreed to by everyone in the party. If the Democratic Party wants to change their platform, they can. Everyone gets together and talks about it and votes and changes are a big deal.

Being a member of the party is a big deal, its how a legislator gets seniority. Having seniority is how one gets committee assignments and what assignments you get determines how much power you have in Washington, and how much power you have determines how much your voice (and therefore your vote) matters. Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders going independent was a very big deal even though they both caucus with the Democrats. There’s a reason Lieberman gets away with the sh*t he does even though he’s not a member of the party. In fact, if he was a member of the party, and not a member of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party, he would likely get away with a lot less, but that’s another post.

Why am I ticked? Have you ever read the Democratic Party Platform? I didn’t think so. [emphasis added]

Page 50

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.

The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to comprehensive affordable family planning services and age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informal choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.

The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre-and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.

Page 12
Covering All Americans and Providing Real Choices of Affordable Health Insurance Options. […] should have the option of keeping the coverage they have or choosing from a wide array of health insurance plans, including many private health insurance options and a public plan. Coverage should be made affordable for all Americans with subsidies provided through tax credits and other means.

So how exactly does this philosophy, these promises to women and to the American people square with the Stupak-Pitt Amendment which takes us further back than the Hyde Amendment? The Amendment means that not only can no federal dollars be used to pay for an abortion (Hyde), but that no woman eligible to receive exchange dollars to pay for her insurance coverage (whether through an employer, a public option, or whatever) can have any insurance plan that covers abortion, even if she pays for it with her own money. In plain and simple language, you don’t like the insurance plan offered to you through your employer, you shop around and find a plan that would cost you a similar amount that you would have to pay to buy into your employer’s plan, and you buy that. Employer plan does not cover abortions but receives exchange dollars, your plan does cover abortions but does not. According to Stupak-Pitt, it’s illegal.

Do you ever get the feeling that we're moving backwards?

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Sarah Palin on Oprah - Still a Beauty Queen, Not a Politician

Watching Sarah Palin on Oprah. It's too bad that Oprah isn't asking any difficult questions. Early on, Oprah did call her out when she repeats an ongoing lie, repeated in her book that during the campaign Obama said children were off limits and was obeyed, but her children were trashed. Oprah did point out that Obama was referring to Palin's children when he made that comment, something that Palin was clearly unhappy with. I would add, however, that not once did Obama use his children in his campaign. he did not haul them around on his campaign busses or planes, they didn't line up behind him on any stages, and the only time we really saw the Obama children, was when he made his acceptance speech. When you use your children as campaign props, you make them fair game.

But back to the Oprah show, there were no more difficult questions, or questions that were not expected however much Sarah Palin did not want to answer them. Palin was tightly wound with her voice rising in pitch throughout until you could see her visibly take a breath and the pitch drop. Several times, you could see her gulp a couple of times before answering--a sure sign of severe nerves--the most significant time being when asked about the Katie Couric interview.

One of the most striking things to me was at the very end when Oprah was trying to understand why she quit as governor, and Palin mentioned that she could accomplish more without the title. Not the office, but the title. When I watch something like this, my training kicks in and I pay as much attention to the tone of voice and what is not being said as to the words. After observing Sarah Palin over the past year, it's pretty clear that she's never quit being a beauty queen.

She talked today about her "team," meaning the vice president's campaign team, not ever having the script so was off message. Typical of blaming everyone else and being unable to accept any responsibility. I never heard her accept any of the responsibility for the loss of the election, ever. It is clear that this woman has the mindset of a beauty queen. She needs someone to write her script for her and that being governor, or vice president or president is a title, not an office. It is doubtful that even while holding elective office that she ever understood that beauty queens cut ribbons and look pretty, politicians hold office and do actual work. 

She made it clear that she is planning a run for the presidency in 2012. Sarah? Please, please do.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Government Has No Right To Interfere, Unless You Are A Woman

The most restrictive abortion language in years is now a part of the debate on what the final bill will look like.



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Friday, November 6, 2009

We Don't Know Enough Yet About Nidal Malik Hasan

Yesterday, Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist, opens fire at Ft. Hood in an enclosed area on unarmed men and women, killing 12 and wounding over 30 people before being brought down by a police officer. Throughout the day, we were given numerous news reports, most in error, but the name of the shooter was released early along with the reports of his death. I find it interesting that although they were not sure until hours later that he was solely responsible, and that we were not told until hours later that he was alive, we were given his name almost immediately.


Could it be because it is a Muslim name? If so, what were we supposed to make of it?

I know what the conservative media is making of it. On the furthest fringes of the right, World Net Daily claims that Nidal Malik Hasan advised President Obama. That lasted less than an hour as the headlines didn't even match the story they wrote. Evidently, he attended - as did hundreds of others - a conference. His name was listed in the program because he had sent in his RSVP. See how easy and what little it takes to set off the right wing fringies?

The news shows - even my favorites - were full of experts commenting on the state of Nidal Malik Hasan's mental health, while others suggested that this was a terrorist attack, a jihad because he is a secret Muslim extremist. Still others discussed PTSD, either pro or con - one 'expert' claimed that a psychiatrist could not possible suffer from PTSD because 1) he had never been in combat, and 2) he was a psychiatrist who treated PTSD so therefore could not get it. sigh. This one, offers the theory that even though Nidal Malik Hasan must be mentally ill to behave in this manner (although not PTSD), it must be an act of terrorism because he has a Muslim name.

Unfortunately, what I am seeing most often all over the net today is the latter. This is scary and very dangerous. Today, we had a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. That gunman was also caught. I don't recall, during the approximately three hours it took before he was in custody, any media source discussing the suspected shooters religion or organizational affiliations. No one wondered - since he is white - if he might not be a Tea Bagger, or a right-wing extremist, even though they're the ones exhibiting the most violent behavior in this country lately.

Regarding Nidal Malik Hasan, all or none of the theories set forward may be true. We just don't know yet. At last report, he is in a coma. It is reported that he is a Muslim, that he was born in this country and raised as a Muslim. I don't know if that is true, but it has been consistently reported from several sources, so it sounds credible. It is possible that he had a kind of secondary PTSD. I know that people, especially young people and people who are first responders elsewhere, who spent a lot of time watching the towers fall over and over again on television, experienced, if already vulnerable, a form of secondary PTSD. As a counselor, I know that I am vulnerable from the stories that I hear if I do not ensure that I guard against it. Every responsible counselor knows that they need counseling when they are in the kind of job that Nidal Malik Hasan was in.

As far as his Muslim name? I have family who have Muslim names and are Christian (there are Christians in the middle-east). And even if they weren't, we do still have freedom of religion in this country. I find it incredible that Muslims can be attacked and harassed in America, but in Iraq and Afghanistan, we send our children to give their lives to build their countries. When our soldiers are there, they understand that not everyone with a Muslim name is their enemy. Does no one see the disconnect?

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Sarah Palin Says "Jump," Republican Leadership Says "How High"

Today, Sarah Palin, the blogger from Alaska, will speak at a Right to Life event in Wisconsin. Running true to form, no press will be allowed, and to add to the bizarreness of the event, according to Mike Tate, Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman, no one entering the venue will be allowed to bring in a cell phone, camera, laptop, or any kind of recording device. Think she might be worried some of her insightful comments might make it out onto the intertubes?

Earlier in the week it was reported that she was asking $100,000 for an appearance in Iowa, a claim that her aides denied and it was later reported that she was asking only $75,000 and three first-class airline tickets. There is no doubt that she is seriously considering a run for the presidential nomination in 2012, especially after inserting herself into the NY-23 campaign and attempting to insert herself into the Virginia and New Jersey Republican campaigns (they declined, although they allow her to record robo-calls, minus any identifiers which unfortunately, run afoul of campaign law).

It is apparent that the GOP rather than move to the center in an effort to win back seats, has decided that ideological purity is the answer and so is investing its energy into tea parties and other extremist activities. Yesterday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) was in her glory as the GOP leadership joined her on the Capital steps, for the first time giving institutional approval to her - and by extension - Fox News's more radical and extreme astroturfing ideas.

What is fascinating about this endeavor by the GOP is that less than 20% of Americans now identify themselves as Republican. Fox News and the fringe of the Republican Party in the form of Michele Bachmann inflame the extremists and most radical libertarians - the ones that boo the Republican leadership at town hall meetings as often as the Democratic - and when faced with endorsing a moderate Republican (Scozzafava) or a wacko Conservative Party candidate (Hoffman) in New York, they choose Hoffman. Even losing a seat in Congress for the first time since before the Civil War is still a win in their eyes as they have removed someone from the party who is not pure enough to represent them. To them, it isn't about winning elections (and thus gaining seats), it's about shaping the ideology of the party and thus shaping the ideology of the country as a whole, forgetting that is just ain't gonna happen.

They know they cannot win elections without independents, but party purity is more important than winning elections. Isn't that what political parties are all about? Weird.

It doesn't matter who is in power. It doesn't matter what laws they write. It doesn't matter who has the money. There will always be liberals and progressives and libertarians. There will also always be wackos and extremists and people balancing on the edge who when riled up, will take up their guns and their bombs and use them and won't care if the government who riled them is Republican or Democratic.

I digress. In the past year since losing her bid to become vice president, Sarah Palin has snubbed the Republican Party more often than not. She has engaged where she should have ignored, and ignored when she should have engaged. When she should have taken the high road and acted like a politician and demonstrated that thick skin she claimed to have, she threatened lawsuits. At this point, I was going to say that when she was mistreated, but couldn't think of any examples. So, moving on.

Sarah Palin has never felt it necessary to fulfill her obligations, keep her promises, or apply laws and ethical rules to herself. For some reason, she retains a great following. She remains very popular in some circles and is able to attract large crowds. What she seems unable to do is recognize that those large crowds aren't big enough to elect her dogcatcher. She doesn't seem to understand that were she to run again for City Council in Wasilla, she would most likely lose. Her book hasn't even been released yet, but is available for purchase for less than ten dollars and in some places, less than five if you order a magazine. Most people would take this as a clue and begin to wonder if they should re-examine their career path. Sarah Palin's dictionary seems to be missing self-reflection or self-awareness.

It is apparent that Sarah Palin believes that she can chart her own course and that she does not think she needs the Republican Party. It is true that she has a niche that she appeals to and will likely retain their votes no matter what truths Levi reveals. It is apparent that the Republican Party, at least this week, is following Sarah Palin (and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck) rather than the reverse, but at some point, they will have to start reading the polls.

In a recent CNN poll, Sarah Palin's favorability rating was at 42% and her unfavorability rating was 15 points higher than Mike Huckabee's which is saying something. Seventy percent of Americans and 50% of Republicans do not think she is qualified to be president, and from where I sit, nothing she is doing is going to change that in the next two years.

We progressives and Democrats shouldn't sit back and stop worrying though. Obama and the Democratic Party won because of grassroots support and the turnout of young people, none of which showed up this week. Off year elections typically don't get much notice, but neither do the mid-terms even though they are as important to the President as the general election. Right now, astroturfed or not, the Tea Baggers are energized and truly hate Obama and the Democratic Party. Lies or not, they believe what they hear on Fox News. They won't listen to reason and don't want to be confused with the facts. To most of them, it is a holy war which makes it scarier than ever.

If grassroots is what won in 2008, it is also what will win in 2010 and 2012, and regardless of how unpopular the Republican Party is at this time, groundswells - even if generated by hate - have a habit of growing.

Sarah Palin isn't going away unless some one of the remaining ethics charges filed against her or -gates is actually found to have merit, and accompanied by enough evidence to force her to face criminal charges. In the meantime, for all who tell me to get over it, she's no threat, I think she is. The numbers may be small, but in NY-23, when she said "jump," the entire Republican leadership said "how high." That deserves our attention.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Love Alan Grayson Too, But ...

AKMuckraker (Mudflats) just tweeted that she loves Alan Grayson, linking to this. I am one of Rep. Grayson's biggest fans, but I wish he had waited a few days before doing his money bomb.

On Monday, almost evey progressive website had a link to Alan Grayson's Money Bomb hosted by Down With Tyranny. In addition to Grayson's appeal, the DNCC has been blasting everyone's inbox since the Finance Committee passed their healthcare bill, asking for money for 2010.

The problem? The Money Bomb was on Monday, Nov. 2. Tuesday was election day. Granted, there were only two national congressional races (both won by Democrats incidentally), but Question 1 in Maine lost by a hair. It is an issue that, supposedly, had Democratic support. But by blasting everyone's inboxes with requests for money races that were decided in 2009 that needed last minute help didn't have a chance of getting noticed.

Plus, shouldn't the DNCC get through one election before they start raising funds for the next? Couldn't the Money Bomb have been done on Wednesday or Thursday? I know the vote is likely to be this Saturday, but that's what a bomb is for - to get something done literally overnight.

Just a thought.

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Michelle Bachman - Ms. Toons - Exploits the Holocaust

Thanks to Think Progress, we have these images of the signs used by Michelle Bachmann and her "House Call" protest on the steps of the Capital today. In case you think this is just Ms. Toons (as in Looney) acting on her own, she is joined at her news conference by House Members John Boehner, Minority Leader (OH), Eric Cantor, Minority Whip (VA), Roy Blunt (MO), Jeb Hensarling (TX), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Virginia Foxx (NC), Ginny Brown-Waite (FL), Jean Schmidt (OH), and Sue Myrick (NC)) as well as other members.

Look very closely at the next image, read the heading.

I don't know about you, but I am deeply offended by members of my government saying that the government (of which they are members) of my country (meaning me and you), is the same as Hitler's Germany.

I lived in Germany when it was divided. I worked in West Berlin, in fact, my office was in the building where the Generals' Coup was planned (and where they were executed). The year I lived there was the first year that the Holocaust was taught in German public schools. I had friends who had been in the Hitler Youth (if you lived in Germany you were either in the military or in Hitler Youth depending on your age). I learned a lot about the war, about what it was like to be German during WWII, and after. I studied Hitler and the holocaust. In this country, I have known people personally touched by the Holocaust and to have someone who obviously knows nothing about history try to equate the two is outrageous.

It is bad enough to have the right-wing wacko's talk of fascism and socialism and equate President Obama to Hitler. It is bad enough when Ms. Toons rallies her followers to arrive at the Capital and seek out their representatives until "they can see the whites of their eyes" a clear reference to shooting.* But this? But to have our leadership use these images and the kind of messages that they send and to have our MSM silently stand by in (seeming) approval is beyond comprehension and deeply, deeply offensive. 

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* In the Revolutionary War, there was a shortage of bullets, so soldiers were instructed to wait until they could "see the whites of their eyes" before firing

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

MSM, False Equivalencies, and Liz Cheney

From Media Matters Washington Post reporter Michael Fletcher, in an online Q and A:

non-election question: Given Liz Cheney's sudden prominence (man, nepotism in DC never ceases to amaze me), I'm curious as to why none of you reporters are asking her questions re: her recent comments about Obama's trip to Dover. She said that Bush routinely made the same trip and didn't "stage photo ops." A) she flat out lied - Bush never went to Dover, B) he couldn't have had photos taken because of the Pentagon policy at the time and C) Mission Accomplished, anybody? Ultimate photo op. What gives? Or is being related to Dick sufficient to protect her from questioned?

Michael A. Fletcher:If we begin questioning Liz Cheney that way, then we would have to do the same with conservative (and liberal) commentators who make all kinds of charges every day. It is their way of making a (great) living. Some comments, I like to think, sink under their own weight.

This illustrates one of my ongoing pet peeves which I have discussed before. The supposed "liberal" mainstream media uses false equivalencies, softball questions, and careful timing to ensure that the "news" we are fed is slanted to make the current administration look foolish and inept and the Republican Party (despite its massive almost 20% of the population identifying itself as such) as the arbiters of reason.

David Gregory in particular is guilty of perpetuating the MSM move to stenography rather than actual reporting with his statement regarding the role of the press corps in the run up to the Iraq war:

I think there are a lot of critics who think that . . . . if we did not stand up and say this is bogus, and you're a liar, and why are you doing this, that we didn't do our job. "I respectfully disagree. It's not our role."

This is an example of something that happened years ago, but any sampling of the Sunday morning talks or the evening national news will show the same kind of "journalism." Panels sit around and discuss the issues of the day, carefully selected by the hosts. If the guest currently in the hot seat responds with something more controversial than the host is able or willing to handle, then it's time to move on. This past Sunday's Meet the Press with David Gregory kept the most controversial guest, Jon Krakauer, till the very end. He was then asked only a couple of questions about General McChrystal's role in the Pat Tillman case and the initial cover-up - discussed now because of McChrystal's current position in the news - and when Krakauer provided fairly damning answers, Gregory immediately wrapped it up. Great journalism. Tough interviewing. Oh wait. It's not his role.

Back to Liz and the Washington Post. The biggest question? Why are we seeing Liz Cheney on our tv machines at all? Her claim to fame? She is the daughter of the ex vice-president. Period. She did have a job at the State Department, but so does my cousin. And so do thousands and thousands of other people. Liz's job wasn't even particularly high up or particularly important. She oversaw a unit within a bureau that was one of eight managed by one of the Under Secretaries. I used to work at one of the PAC-10 universities (meaning it's huge). I managed the administrative functions of a unit within a division under one of the Vice Presidents, so I had one less layer between me and the top. Was I important? Absolutely not. Could I speak for the University? Absolutely not.

The next question? Why this false equivalency? A reporter hears an answer that is demonstrably false and shrugs because it will "sink under its own weight?" If they have to question every commentator, then why not? If their way of making a living is to lie, shouldn't they be called on it? Asked to back up their claims? Do slander and libel laws mean nothing anymore? Is journalism now simply reporting he said she said? It used to be gathering facts and examining what people said for truth and shining a light on what was going on behind the scenes so that the viewers and readers that did not have the kind of access that reporters have could know what was going on. That is the whole point behind the 1st Amendment and why the Founders put it first in the Constitution. 

What Liz talks about when she speaks about terrorism and the Bush Administration and foreign policy (and the return of fallen soldiers at Dover Airforce Base) is hearsay or conjecture at best. More likely, her comments are disinjenuous statements made to enhance her father's image, promote her own agenda, and belittle the Obama Administration.

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Wishin' and Hopin'

Just for fun. Dusty Springfield with Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Enjoy.

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Kos Writes About Tuesday Night's Big Lesson

Markos Moulitsos (Kos) wrote last night on his blog, Daily Kos

There will be much number-crunching tomorrow, but preliminary numbers (at least in Virginia) show that GOP turnout remained the same as last year, but Democratic turnout collapsed. This is a base problem, and this is what Democrats better take from tonight:
  1. If you abandon Democratic principles in a bid for unnecessary "bipartisanship", you will lose votes.
  1. If you water down reform in favor of Blue Dogs and their corporate benefactors, you will lose votes.
  1. If you forget why you were elected -- health care, financial services, energy policy and immigration reform -- you will lose votes.
Tonight proved conclusively that we're not going to turn out just because you have a (D) next to your name, or because Obama tells us to. We'll turn out if we feel it's worth our time and effort to vote, and we'll work hard to make sure others turn out if you inspire us with bold and decisive action.
The choice is yours. Give us a reason to vote for you, or we sit home. And you aren't going to make up the margins with conservative voters. They already know exactly who they're voting for, and it ain't you.
I rarely post anything in its entirety, but this was short and concise and makes a good point.

I've spent several hours this morning reading aggregate sites, blogs, newspapers, the MSM pundits from both the right and the left and the analysis is all over the board. I've written some of my own. What I find fascinating, is how many left-wing bloggers are (and have been) saying that we must stop criticising Obama. My own family tells me I must stop and give the man a chance - that it has only been a (month, few months, year). My son, the politics and government major whose thesis was on Clinton and the MSM, reminds me that Obama is the President of the whole country, not just the progressives (to which I remind him that it was the progressives who gave him a majority Congress).

I agree that Obama has accomplished a great deal in one year, relatively speaking, and that he was handed a bigger mess than any president ever has with more restrictions coming in (the stimulus was Bush's, the status of forces agreement was Bush's, TARP was Bush's ...). But, does that mean that we are not to hold him accountable for the promises made in his campaign?

  • Don't ask, don't tell
  • Guantanamo
  • Torture investigations
  • Transparency
  • Regulations on Wall Street
  • Iraq & Afghanistan
  • Health care

In every case, Obama has either changed his mind, begun discussions so close to the bottom that any legislation would be close to worthless (health care), or put people in charge that were part of the problem and allowed them to craft the solutions. Instead of taking a strong stand, he holds back. Yes, we did vote for a President who would take a measured, informed approach to problem solving. But we did not vote for a President who is going to straddle the center line at the expense of the ideals of his party.

Obama has said over and over and over again that he is committed to bipartisanship, that we want bipartisanship. No we don't. Sure, we would like Congress to get things done, but I don't think at the end of the day that anyone cares who votes for what. The American people gave him an overwhelming majority in the House and the Senate because we want change and we told him that we wanted the change that he said he would bring. I understand that it will take time. He said it would. But change doesn't happen if he doesn't at least begin. I don't understand why he allowed Congress to begin negotiating healthcare at the bottom, why it had to be a 50/50 committee that crafted the Senate plan, why he is going back on his word on the wars, on torture, on transparency, and so many other issues.

This election yesterday was not a referendum on Obama, but if he doesn't get it together quickly, the historic election of 2008 will be wasted and he'll lose Congress. He said that he would be happy to be a one term president if he could accomplish what he set out to do. I'm beginning to wonder if that's true.

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What's With All These Anonymous Sources? WH Slurs Anthony Weiner

According to Ben Smith at Politico (Politico dot com), an anonymous White House staffer, responding to Rep. Anthony Weiner suggested he should have "manned up" and made a run for New York mayor himself. WTF?

In discussing the closeness of the mayor's race despite Bloomberg's $100+ million in personal funds to purchase the seat, Weiner had commented that if Obama had made one of his trips to New York instead of New Jersey, maybe the Democrat would have won, thus generating the slur from the White House.

I for one am grateful that Rep. Weiner decided to remain in Congress where he remains one of the few outspoken voices in favor of universal health care. Weiner is an outspoken progressive voice and would be a great loss to the Progressive Caucus if he left Washington for local politics.

The larger issue, however, is the continuing use by the MSM of anonymous sources and the requirement by the Administration and other leaders to speak off the record, even when what they have to say does not (or should not) require it. Why exactly, does a comment about Rep. Weiner needing to "man up" need to be anonymous? Would it be embarrassing if attributed to the speaker? Perhaps. Would the speaker get in trouble with the President or someone high up in the Administration? Perhaps. Or maybe the speaker is the President or someone high up in the Administration (although I can't see Ben Smith having that kind of access to the President). So what?

What exactly does "a White House Official" mean? Is it the gatekeeper? Or the Chief of Staff? How do we know? We are so used to reporters citing anonymous sources that we no longer question it. Sources demand anonymity for everything, and are granted it, even when the conditions don't warrant it. And we get slurs coming out of the White House with no attribution that make the Administration look bad (and yes, it is a gender slur - would someone suggest that a woman or a gay man up?).

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h/t America Blog

So Now NY-23 Doesn't Matter? Sarah Palin's Balancing Act Ahead

We certainly live in interesting times. Off-year elections typically generate as much interest as a limp teabag, and that is apparently what we've got in upstate New York. However, the day after excitement is almost as high as that leading up to the election. At least for us political junkie types.

Interesting side note (h/t Media Matters) that updates a comment in my last post. It seems that Adam Nagourney of the New York Times reported on Monday that a loss in NY-23 would be disastrous for the Republican Party (despite the fact that Doug Hoffman, the challenger ran on the Conservative Party ticket) and will highlight the deep divisions in the party. Today, NY-23 is not even on the radar as he exclaims that the Republican wins will energize the party and set the stage for fund-raising, attracting candidates, and whipping up the base.The significance of a loss in 23, now? Not so much.

The greater implications, in my opinion, are to Sarah Palin. Her behavior is clearly that of someone who is planning to make a run for president in 2012, although someone who either has very poor advisors, or more likely, someone who knows it all and refuses to listen to those advisors (you just cannot ask people to pay to hear you speak in Iowa, a state you must win if you want to win the primaries).

Palin's decision to support Hoffman in NY-23 and her victory in running Scozzafava out of the race energized the Tea Bagger fringe of an already weakened party. Not quite 20% of Americans identify themselves as Republicans at this time, and Sarah Palin has clearly decided to chart her own course. By refusing to attend Republican events over the past year, and now supporting Hoffman, it is clear that Palin believes that she can either re-form the Republican Party or form her own.

Interestingly, in demanding purity - as defined by Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh - Republican leaders who had been supporting Scozzafava immediately threw their support behind Hoffman as soon as Palin and Fox News did rather than suffer the media backlash that would most certainly have occurred. Republicans planning to run in 2012, particularly Pawlenty, who was the most surprising because of his previous moderation, almost shoved each other out of the way to jump on that bandwagon.

Rather than widen the umbrella and try to appeal to a wider base, the Republican Party is following the wacky GOPhers on Fox News and the blogger from Alaska. This may win them local elections, but no one can win the presidency without independents, and regardless of how Obama does or does not do on the major issues, it is unlikely that independents are going to vote for the Tea Bag candidate.

It will be interesting to watch Sarah Palin balance on that fine line as she tries to hang on to her Republican supporters as she moves further and further into the wacko extremist right.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Upset in NY-23 is a Referendum on Sarah Palin

Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin should be so proud. A small upstate New York district, the 23rd, which has gone Republican for the past 120 years tonight voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens. The Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, who had dropped out over the weekend, had thrown her support behind Mr. Owens, but still received 5% of the vote. Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Candidate endorsed by Sarah Palin, et al, was the odds on favorite until late in the evening and ultimately conceded defeat. All the big time names Hoffman had behind him couldn't get him elected.

It seems that the residents of NY-23 don't appreciate out of towners coming in and telling them who to vote for, especially as the person they are being told to vote for 1) does not live in their district, and 2) knows little about the local issues of concern to them (and has said that he is more concerned with the larger, values issues in any case, to paraphrase).When he appeared for an interview at the local paper, Hoffman whined that he should have been given the questions in advance. Huh? Since when? Regardless, they had been in the editorial in that morning's paper if he had bothered to read it. How many politicians running for office do you know who don't read the opinion page of the papers in the districts they're running in? Well, one, now.

Republicans may have won big in Virginia and New Jersey, but a sweep? A referendum on Obama? I don't think so. Do I think the Democrats and in particular Obama need to do some serious thinking about the implications for 2010? Absolutely.

But if this is a referendum, it is a referendum on Sarah Palin and the Republican Party, not the Obama Administration.

All we've heard was how NY-23 was a microcosm of the Tea Party movement, the change that the country wanted. Sarah Palin said jump, and the Republican Party said "How high?" I watched the Twitter streams this afternoon and evening, and when it became clear that Hoffman was trailing, I started to see that "Oh, 23 is incidental." Or, "It's just a small, unimportant district." Right.

As I liked to say about W, you can say it as often as you'd like, it still doesn't make it true.

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Police Called in NY-23 Race for Teabaggers

Evidently Teabaggers object to government intrusion, but they are allowed to intrude to their hearts content. Police were called to at least two polling sites in NY-23 district today for reports of voter intimidation. According to former State Democratic Chairwoman June O'Neill,

"We've gotten reports that people are standing there, covered with Hoffman stickers and yelling anti-choice stuff at voters," said O'Neill, a St. Lawrence native who has been running the party's GOTV effort for Bill Owens in NY-23.

"Apparently, there's some woman claiming to be a commissioner," O'Neill continued. "Commissioner of what, I don't know. She's from Texas, I think, and she won't leave."

"This is not the way we roll in the North Country."

Elizabeth Benjamin of the New York Daily News reports talking to the GOP Election Commissioner who tried to minimize the incident saying

"We had electioneering within the 100-foot polling marker," Phaler said. "It's my understanding that they were asked to leave and wouldn't leave."

"If people are electioneering within the marker and don't stop when we ask them to, our inspectors are instructed to call law enforcement to assist them. I don't think anybody was arrested."
I'm sure by the end of the day we will have more clarity on the issue, however, after the Tea Parties of last summer and the exhortations of Glenn Beck and his ilk, shouting appears to be the favored method of debate by the extreme fringe of the right wing. Hoffman, running on the Conservative ticket and "mentored" by Glenn Beck, is supported by this fringe so I am inclined to believe that their tactics are likely to follow the rules of engagement laid out by the Tea Bag organizers: that being, shout, get in someone's face, shout some more, refuse to allow anyone else their opinion or right to free speech, shout some more, and deny everyone else the rights you demand for yourself.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Continuing Serial Stupidity of the GOP and Jon-Benet as Halloween Costume. Sick.

Another example of not only the Serial Stupidity of the GOP, but I think, some sort of inability to comprehend appropriate social behavior. This tweet from Nebraska Republican Party Chairman Mark Fahleson on Halloween. @fahleson.

# Done trick or treating with Cleopatra and Jon Benet-now at Dino's for family dinner and to watch 5 different games at once.5:49 PM Oct 31st from TwitterBerry

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