State of the Union

Rationing Life Itself

“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

Of Sarah Palin it may be said: The lady knows how to frame an issue.

And while she has been fairly criticized for hyperbole about the end-of-life counselors in the House bill, she drew such attention to the provision that Democrats chose to dump it rather than debate it

And understandably so. For if Congress enacts universal health care coverage, we are undeniably headed for a medical system of rationed care that must inevitably deny care to some terminally ill and elderly, which will shorten their lives, perhaps by years. Consider: Read More…

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Vile Contemptible Nonsense

One thing I dislike about politicians is their fear of saying anything substantive, or that might offend someone. That’s why I was glad to see Barney Frank dispatch a cretin at a constituent meeting (I refuse to dignify these charades as “town hall meetings”), in a clip I found via Kevin Drum. Frank forthrightly dismissed a question about the “Nazi” health plan afoot as “vile contemptible nonsense” and told the young woman that talking to her was as productive as talking to a dining room table.

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MoveOn’s Faux Radicalism

Somebody has forwarded me this annoying round-robin from MoveOn.org, urging me to “protest the protestors” at an Obama-led healthcare debate tomorrow.

Dear MoveOn member,

Everyone who wants to see real health care reform this year needs to come out in force tomorrow in Washington, D.C.

President Obama is holding a virtual health care forum live from the DNC building—and right-wing groups are mobilizing to protest. With the president there in person and the national media watching, we need a huge show of progressive support for real health care reform—including a strong public health insurance option.

This is an urgent, all-hands-on-deck moment. Can you make it? Everyone is gathering at New Jersey Ave. and D St. tomorrow afternoon at 12:30 p.m.

There’s tremendous support for the public health insurance option—from Americans nationwide,1,2 from a powerful bloc of members in the House,3 and from progressive leaders in the Senate.4

But the public option is the No. 1 target of the Right and their big insurance backers, and they and their industry-funded mobs are putting serious resources into killing real reform.

We know President Obama wants a public health insurance option—as he has said many times, it’s the best way to lower costs, expand coverage, and keep the insurance companies honest.

But in order to make sure it happens, he’s got to know the American people have his back—that we’re fired up and ready to go to the mat for this critical piece of reform. We have to show him that if he keeps fighting for it, we’ll be right there with him.

Isn’t that message a bit frightening? It’s the combination of Lefty bossiness and slavish Obamaphilia — “we’ll be right there with him” — that disturbs; the implication that supporters of healthcare reform must serve as sort of citizen police force to protect the president. He cannot be heckled on TV! We must show him our love!

MoveON tries to use the incendiary language of radicalism—“the Right and their big insurance backers”—but it rings false. Aren’t they the ones standing up for the government and trying to silence dissent?

Of course, the townhall mobs on the Right are pretty grim, too, with their Pavlovian howls against “socialism” and their self-righteous outrage. But give me a choice between them and the preachy self-appointed guardians of Obamacare, and I’d take the right-wing crazies every time. Move off!

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The Right’s Rebellion

What happened to the Age of Obama?

Glancing over the New York Times Book Review Sunday, one finds three of the top four non-fiction best-sellers were written by conservatives — columnist Michelle Malkin, talk-show host Mark Levin and Fox News contributor Dick Morris.

At No. 10, in its 40th week on the list, is Bill O’Reilly’s memoir.

No. 1 best-seller in paperback: Glenn Beck’s “Common Sense.”

Moreover, the altarpiece of the transformational presidency, universal health insurance, is on life support, as huge crowds pour into town hall meetings to denounce it. Responding to the protests, the Obamaites have dumped the end-of-life counselors (aka “Death Panels”) and declared the government option expendable.

But what are we to make of these “evil-mongers” of Harry Reid’s depiction, these “mobs” of “thugs” organized by K Street lobbyists and “right-wing extremists” who engage in “un-American” activity at town hall meetings? Surely, all Americans must detest them. Read More…

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What Does WMD Rhyme With?

Watching the various Woodstock retrospectives brought to mind some of the anti-war songs of that era.  There was Phil Ochs’ “I ain’t marching any more,” Freda Payne’s “Bring the Boys Home” and of course Country Joe and the Fish’s “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die,” which debuted at Woodstock with its memorable “One, two, three, what am I fighting for?  Don’t ask me cause I don’t give a damn, next stop is Vietnam.”  I’m sure there were other songs that I no longer recall but I do remember that Armed Forces Radio banned Country Joe and, for a time, Freda Payne.  Even the songs that might have been seen as pro-war had a lugubrious quality, hardly very gung-ho.  In basic training we used to march along singing to the tune of the Coasters’ “Poison Ivy” which included lines about friends dying and the refrain “Vee-yet-nam, Vee-yet-nam, late at night while you’re sleeping Charley Cong comes a creeping all around.”

Even though Vietnam was a war that made some sense in the context of the Cold War and Iraq and AfPak make no sense whatsoever, there have been no antiwar songs that I am aware of, which possibility explains the anemic state of the antiwar movement in general (though more likely it results from the lack of any middle class kids being drafted for the conflict).  TAC might be interested in launching a competititon for the best new song to describe Mr. Obama’s war.  For starters Barack and AfPak do rhyme and both Petraeus and Hillary possess a certain euphonious quality. particularly if one engages in a little syncopation by accenting the last syllables of their names.  Weapons of mass destruction and improvised explosive devices do, however, present some problems.

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Losing Afghanistan

“Taliban Are Winning: U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Warns of Rising Casualties.” Thus ran the startling headline on the front-page of The Wall Street Journal. The lead paragraph ran thus:

“The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home.”

Source for the story: Gen. Stanley McChrystal himself.

The general’s spokesman in Kabul was swift to separate him from that headline and lead. They “go too far,” he said: The general does not believe the Taliban are winning or “gaining the upper hand.”

Nevertheless, in the eighth year of America’s war, the newly arrived field commander concedes that U.S. casualties, now at record levels, will continue to be high or go higher, and that our primary mission is no longer to run down and kill Taliban but to defend the Afghan population.

What went wrong? Read More…

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Maddening Men

I’ve tried to wrap my mind around Scott Locklin’s Mad Men article at Taki’s Magazine, but it’s such a mishmash of bizarre statements and non sequiturs that I can’t quite grasp it. He asserts, for example, that “everyone on this show sports an accent that didn’t exist until around 1980 or so.” Really? I’d like to see a source on that.

He also says, “most people who enjoy this sort of program tend to work in similarly vapid ‘creative’ endeavors involving selling underpants on the internet, or doing the same sort of nonsense as the ad men on an interpersonal level using some psycho-therapeutic bilge.” Again, I wonder how he knows this.

Locklin writes, as I scratch my head in disbelief,

Mad Men makes the obligatory genuflection at the false god of the counterculture; making dumb nihilist beatniks appear to be somehow in on a secret that the ad men like Draper can’t fathom, when in reality, all they really have on Draper is an inferior drug stash. Booze and smokes, after all, were the background relaxants and cerebral stimulants of America’s greatest years. Booze and smokes split the atom and conquered the moon. Beatnik drugs are responsible for cultural innovations such as teaching second graders how to put a condom on a banana.

The only episode I remember featuring beatniks for any length of time, they seemed like jerks. How he equates “beatnik drugs” with putting condoms on Bananas for second graders; instead of say, Dylan’s Bringing it all Back Home or early Saturday Night Live episodes, is beyond me.

He continues in this vein while employing the sort of rightwing special pleading I’ve come to expect from sites such as Big Hollywood, while offering no genuine insight on an excellent program. He is under the mistaken impression that the viewer is expected to look down upon the characters and feel superior.

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Pakistan Unravels

America might be best served if it were to leave both Iraq and Afghanistan today because there might be nothing to gain by staying in either place apart from having a front row seat to watch the unraveling of nuclear armed Pakistan. The Times of India is reporting today about attacks by Islamic extremists on several Pakistani nuclear facilities.  Per The Times, ”The incidents, tracked by Shaun Gregory, a professor at Bradford University in UK, include an attack on the nuclear missile storage facility at Sargodha on November 1, 2007, an attack on Pakistan’s nuclear airbase at Kamra by a suicide bomber on December 10, 2007, and perhaps most significantly the August 20, 2008 attack when Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers blew up several entry points to one of the armament complexes at the Wah cantonment, considered one of Pakistan’s main nuclear weapons assembly.”  The article goes on to describe how even US terrorism experts were not aware of the attacks, which have not been widely reported.  Perhaps not coincidentally, the Pakistani nuclear sites are located far from India, in areas where both al-Qaeda and the Taliban are strongest.

Playing soldier around all over the world diminishes one’s ability to act when there is a really important national interest at stake.  Iraq never threatened the US, nor does Afghanistan or Iran.  The US is engaged everywhere but where it really matters, in Pakistan, where a whole lot of nuclear weapons can suddenly and dramatically wind up in the hands of people who can do a lot of harm with them and kill a lot of people.  Is it our problem?  Sort of.  We had a friendly dictator in Pakistan who had the support of the middle classes and the army.  His name was Pervez Musharraf.  We decided we needed someone who looked better to the media so we undercut him and supported Benazir Bhutto, whose previous time in office was distinguished only by corruption.  Bhutto’s husband is now president and is both weak and completely corrupt.  The government is incapable of controlling an insurgency that dominates nearly one third of its territory.  So why did we meddle in the first place and what do we do now?  It would be a tough one to just walk away from because wholesale nuclear proliferation is a serious issue for the US as well as for Pakistan’s neighbors. It is perhaps a lesson of sorts.  When you are crying wolf constantly it is tough to figure out what to do when the wolf actually appears.  Another big problem that Obama will be unable to solve.

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Angry White Males

To hear the Obamaites, those raucous crowds pouring into town hall meetings are “mobs” of “thugs” whose rage has been “manufactured” by K Street lobbyists and right-wing Republican operatives.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs compares them to the Young Republicans of the “Brooks Brothers riot” during the Florida recount.

But is it wise for the White House to denigrate and insult scores of thousands with the fire and energy to come to town meetings in August, and who appear to represent millions? Is this depiction fair or accurate?

Most K Street lobbyists could not organize a two-car funeral. They don’t storm meetings. They buy friends with $1,000 checks. And if GOP operatives are turning out these crowds, why could they not turn them out for John McCain, unless Sister Sarah showed up? Read More…

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Iran’s Worst Barbarism: Honesty About Torture

The current government is Iran is a bunch of damn rascals and thugs, and there are boatloads of questions about the honesty of their last election.

The regime’s brutal crackdown on protestors reveals its true character.  (But the Iranian government is not novel in this sense: the Syrians have been as brutal with their dissidents, and the Israelis have been more oppressive in Gaza).

What is even more shocking is that the Iranian government admits that it is torturing the protestors rounded up in recent weeks.

How can we ever trust a government that won’t lie about its atrocities?

No wonder so many Americans are convinced that the Iranian government is morally inferior to the U.S. government.

Posted in . 4 comments
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