Friday, August 21, 2009

Myths and falsehoods about health care reform

Myths and falsehoods about health care reform

Posted using ShareThis

Spinning history

The Express-News has a story today about the State Board of Education coming out with a first draft for standards for history books.
The big news is that the conservative board members are pushing to include key moments in the history of wingnuttopia - specifically the founding of the Moral Majority by Jerry Falwell; Phyllis Schafley’s Eagle Forum and successful campaign to villify and defeat the Equal Rights Amendment and the rise of Newt Gingrich and his Contract On America that led to the 1994 takeover of the government by Republicans.
I don’t have a particular problem with any of this except that the story implies that they also want to eliminate references to “liberal” groups and figures in history. The story does not explain this very well so I’m not sure what or if anything has been proposed yet.
I’ve seen student textbooks that talked about the ERA campaign and would think that Schafly’s involvement in its defeat should be included. And the whole Moral Majority/Christian Coalition movement is definitely worthy of putting into context in the history books. But so is the downfall of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker and the whole PTL scandal.
The 1994 election and the “Republican Revolution” certainly warrants coverage in the history books, but so does the abject failure of the Republican ideology as the bone-headed supply side economics program led to massive increases in the federal debt and the replacement of “Tax and Spend” with “Borrow and Spend”.
As long as we are being more inclusive and not less so, I can’t complain too much. But the real question will be how much emphasis to place on each section and the positive or negative spin that these rightwing idealogues on the board will try to impose on the textbook manufacturers.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kay vs. Rick

I can’t help but feel just a little sorry for Kay Bailey Hutchison right now. But only a little.
This gubernatorial election looked early on like it would be a cakewalk for her. The triumphant U.S. Senator coming home after a successful stint in Washington to take the crown in Austin as the new governor of the Lone Star State. Incumbent Gov. Rick Perry was unpopular and had outstayed his welcome having already served longer than any Texas governor in recent history.
But now, at the formal outset of her campaign, the landscape suddenly looks much different. Down in the polls and facing a surprisingly aggressive campaign from Perry, Hutchison no longer looks like the heir apparent. Her campaign kick-off event in her home town of LaMarque was poorly attended and featured a major screw-up by one of her campaign workers who repeatedly mispronounced the name of the high school hosting the event - the one where Hutchison used to be a cheerleader. It’s pronounced “LaMark”, not “LaMarkee”.
The Perry campaign has set up a website from which to launch attacks and lampoon Hutchison throughout the campaign. They are also trying to use her service in Washington against her by referring to her as “Washington Kay.” In addition, they are having a large truck follow her around with the name “Kay Bailout Express” which attempts to tie her to the federal stimulus package.
Apparently, in Republican circles these days, actually trying to DO something to fix, resolve or at least lessen the impact from the Republican-induced recession is bad, bad, bad. I suppose this is because it would somehow be seen as an acknowledgement that Republican economic ideas failed and were in part to blame for the economic crisis currently plauging the country. Better then to just ignore the problem and do nothing. Better yet, blame the people who are trying to fix the problem with having caused it.
This is precisely what Rick Perry is now doing. I do not envy Kay Bailey having to run against Perry in the Republican primary. He has been working hard recently to ingratiate himself with the far-right loons who infect the core of the Republican Party today by talking about secession, threatening to refuse badly needed stimulus funding for the state and appointing far-right lunatics to the State Board of Education and elsewhere.
Are there enough sane people left in the Texas Republican Party to turn Perry out in a GOP primary? I have my doubts.
And it doesn’t look at this point as if Kay Bailey Hutchison is going to be up to the challenge.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Guns at Obama events

Man carries assault rifle to Obama protest

A man toting an assault rifle was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside President Obama’s speech to veterans on Monday, but no laws were broken. It was the second instance in recent days in which weapons have been seen near presidential events.

What do they mean ‘no laws were broken’? This is completely nuts! This guy should have been tackled by the Secret Service, tied up and thrown in the pokey for the duration of the president’s visit. I can’t believe people are acting like it is no big deal for some nutjob to carry a loaded assault rifle (or any type of gun) to a presidential campaign event.
Can you imagine the reaction if a radical from some group like the Black Panthers or a follower of Louis Farrakhan had shown up with a gun at a rally for Ronald Reagan back in the 1980s? Would people have shrugged and said the person was just exercising their 2nd Amendment rights?

Monday, August 17, 2009

No penance, no apologies

From The Washington Monthly

THE PENANCE HAS NOT BEEN PAID.... Following up on this item from yesterday, I had an interesting conversation via email yesterday with Bruce Bartlett, a veteran of the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations. Bruce made a point that really resonated with me, and he was gracious enough to allow me to republish it here.

I believe that political parties should do penance for their mistakes and just losing power is not enough. Part of that involves understanding why those mistakes were made and how to prevent them from happening again. Republicans, however, have done no penance. They just pretend that they did nothing wrong. But until they do penance they don’t deserve any credibility and should be ignored until they do. That’s what my attacks on Bush are all about. I want Republicans to admit they were wrong about him, accept blame for his mistakes, and take some meaningful action to keep them from happening again. Bush should be treated as a pariah, as Richard Nixon was for many years until he rebuilt his credibility by more or less coming clean about Watergate with David Frost and writing a number of thoughtful books.
One reason this isn’t happening is because the media don’t treat Republicans as if they are discredited. On the contrary, they often seem to be treated as if they have more credibility than the administration. Just look at the silly issue of death panels. The media should have laughed it out the window, ridiculed it or at least ignored it once it was determined that there was no basis to the charge. Instead, those making the most outlandish charges are treated with deference and respect, while those that actually have credibility on the subject are treated as equals at best and often with deep skepticism, as if they are the ones with an ax to grind.
I am truly baffled by this situation, as I’m sure you are.

As regular readers may imagine, I find this overwhelmingly persuasive. Bush/Cheney policies failed so spectacularly, Republican candidates and officeholders are generally reluctant to associate themselves with the tarnished name of the previous administration. But Bush/Cheney policies are still those of the contemporary Republican Party. Nothing has changed. Failure and defeat haven’t chastened the GOP at all, and if given a chance to govern again, Republican leaders are quite anxious to return to the exact same agenda they embraced when they were in the majority.
And the political mainstream seems to think this is sane.
The same Republicans -- literally, the self-same individual people -- who were astonishingly wrong about pretty much every area of public policy in recent years, are the same Republicans who feel confident that they’re still credible, knowledgeable, and correct. Not because they’ve changed their larger agenda or worldview, but because a brief period of time has elapsed.
They feel justified proposing a five-year spending freeze in response to the economic crisis. They feel comfortable pretending to care about the “death panels” policy they already endorsed, promoted, and voted for. They have no qualms making bitter complaints about deficits and debts after having spent most of the decade increasing the size of government, increasing federal spending, and creating of some of the largest deficits in American history.
We’re not supposed to point and laugh at their humiliating ideas and attacks -- we’re supposed to negotiate with them.
What’s more, rejected in large numbers by voters nine months ago, and after spending the last seven months acting like confused children, these same Republicans now insist what they really deserve is to be back in the majority again. Seriously.
I suppose the word that keeps coming to mind is “consequences.” The Republican Party of the Bush era failed in ways few have even tried, burdening the nation with challenges and crises that are difficult to address and painful to even think about. They believe, however, there should be no consequences for this. There’s no need, they say, to alter their political beliefs at all. Indeed, they see their main goal as the loyal opposition to undermine efforts to clean up the mess they left. They’re the arsonists hoping to convince the public not to have confidence in the fire department.
No penance, no consequences, no self-reflection -- only the expectation that they be treated as a serious group with a credible agenda.
It’s probably one of the most frustrating aspects of the larger political discourse. Individual issues aside, there’s a temptation to turn to Boehner, Cantor, McConnell, et al, and say, “We’re still waiting for that apology.”

Yep, just like I’m still waiting for that apology from Mark for smearing Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer.