Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The GOP Alternative Health Care Plan

The GOP Alternative Health Care Plan


Groucho Marx Sings The Conservative Health Care Reform Position

Groucho Marx Sings The Conservative Health Care Reform Position


Gus Porter: American Legend

Speaks for itself really.


Tuesday, 30 March 2010

How Did So Many Republicans End Up Believing Falsehoods About Obama?

How Did So Many Republicans End Up Believing Falsehoods About Obama?

Thanks to Media Matters for America for this clip



Republicans left in Obama's wake...

Ever get the feeling that your ship has sailed without you, and that events have just passed you by...?

Thanks to guys at The Political Carnival for the cartoon.

Monday, 29 March 2010

If Al Qaeda were Christian, and lived in Michigan...

... their training video would look like this (group raided this weekend)

Michigan Militia Group Preparing for Antichrist, Web Site Says 

The Michigan-based Christian militia group raided by the FBI over the weekend is preparing for battle with the Antichrist, according to a Web site purportedly run by the group.

Thanks to JeffreyFeldman on Twitter for these links.

Rush Limbaugh: UnAmerican Rancorman


Multimedia: Health Care for the Uninsured

From Time Magazine:

Multimedia: Health Care for the Uninsured

All-volunteer Remote Area Medical sets up shop in Wise, Va., providing badly needed treatment for those without adequate health insurance

Photographs by Radhika Chalasani / Redux for TIME,32187,1914510,00.html

Insurers Back Effort to Make Health Reform Succeed

From Time Magazine:

The health-insurance industry, which spent months campaigning against Democratic health reform, has shifted focus in the wake of its passage, pivoting from opposition to making sure the new law succeeds beyond most expectations.


The Story of an Uninsured Woman

From Time Magazine:

Denise Prosser has battled health problems including cancer, with and without health insurance. Now her husband has been laid off, and she once again joins the ranks of the uninsured


Frum: "Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox"

More, and other links on Frum's fall-out with the Republican Party, including his whistle-blowing 'Waterloo' article, from Media Matter for America


The Rage Is Not About Health Care

That word 'change' comes round again to haunt the GOP & Teabaggers; and it's not about about healthcare: it's about a change in America. Click on the title below for the full article.

The Rage Is Not About Health Care


Is this the nearest thing the US can get to a national health service?

In the absence of anything approaching a national health service, is this the nearest thing the US can get to one: Physicians for a National Health Program?

Or would you prefer a single payer system?

Saturday, 27 March 2010

USA: Mainstreaming the Fringe

This piece is from the Media Matters for America YouTube site:

Mainstreaming the Fringe

Media Matters for America held a panel discussion on the growing culture of extremist, anti-government, and violent rhetoric in conservative media. Media Matters Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert, who has written extensively on the subject, hosted leaders from the Southern Poverty Law Center, America's Voice, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Council of La Raza, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights to examine how the mainstreaming of extremism impacts our security, politics, and culture.


Friday, 26 March 2010

Why people are angry about healthcare reform


Thursday, 25 March 2010

Kicking a dying man - a tale of US 'care'

The reality of US Healthcare - written by an Australian journalist who'd gone to live and work in the US with her American-born husband. This article, by Helen Pitt,  from The Sydney Morning Herald

"My husband might have been battling cancer, but the battle with the insurance companies proved just as sickening. Each time William had a brain operation we would receive a bill - usually in the vicinity of $50,000-$80,000 for the operation and three-day hospital stay - despite the fact we paid a hefty premium and the insurance company intended to pay costs.
I've heard often that unsuspecting and unwell patients who are insured have paid hefty medical bills because they are vulnerable, confused, tired of being harassed by hospital billing departments or simply didn't understand the insurance jargon that the bill was the responsibility of the insurance company, not the patient."


Americans protest for right to make insurance companies richer

Americans protest for right to make insurance companies  richer

Thousands of protesting Republicans have reiterated that they want all life and death medical decisions made by insurance adjusters, not fiscally irresponsible doctors.

Full story here - courtesy of



Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Daily Kos: The "repeal" trap

Daily Kos: The "repeal" trap

Is it Unconstitutional to Mandate Health Insurance?

Superb piece here by Law Professor, Mark Hall, explaining why healthcare reform mandate is constitutionally sound - and why GOP legal arguments are specious:

"Conservative lawyers think compulsory health insurance is unconstitutional...Their reasoning is unconvincing & deeply flawed." 


The Party of the Past: Republican Obstructionism

The latest fevered attempt to use the courts to block and/or then repeal the healthcare reform bill is simply the latest tired throw of the dice by the Republicans in their strategy of obstructionism.

Their current rote rhetoric is based around two points:

1. "Obama's going against the will of the American people."

Bullshit: an Obama election campaign pledge was to try and introduce something as close to universal healthcare as he could get passed in Congress - he's now done precisely that. Apart from the Americans having had a belly-full of the Republicans, after eight disastrous years of GW Gump Bush, healthcare reform was the chief reason Obama won the presidential election. So how can he be accused of "going against the will of the American people" when he was voted in on that very ticket?

I know this may come as a shock to some folks, but the Fox News Borg, The Teabaggers and self-interest-only Republicans do not represent 'the will of the American people'.

2. "It's unconstitutional to require citizens to spend money on goods and services."

Again: bullshit - so how do they explain no Republican complaints when their taxes go towards their public highways, their military, their public schools, their drinking water, their public libraries, their ... the list goes on. And yes not a peep out of them.

So why whine like a cut snake specifically on healthcare - especially when it's for the greater good of the American public (and specifically 32+ million of them who are currently denied any healthcare cover)?

The only reason the Republicans bitch about healthcare reform can be boiled down to two things: selfishness and self-interest. This "constitutional" angle's just a smoke screen and will lose in the courts. LBJ had to go through this nonsense with Civil Liberties reform - and the opposition then came from the same crowd right-wing mentality.

Let them waste their time theorising: healthcare reform is now law. Time for the party of the past to deal with and get over it.

And last night I watched Michael Steele, RNC Chairman, being 'interviewed' on Faux News - he was embarrassingly inept and full of sour grapes at failing to 'kill the bill'. Tragic. Back-peddling like a JAMF when asked, by Greta Van Susteren, "so, this 'strategy' of just saying 'no' to everything and refusing to work with the Democrats on anything - how's that working for ya? Success or suicide?"

I doubt he'll be keeping his job for much longer - for the head of an organisation to screw the pooch so badly, in terms of having delivered no more than rancour and decisiveness, even the Republican village elders must see that their ship needs to change course if it is to re-engage with the mainstream American public.

And in a playground move of epoch-redefining proportions, if you go to the GOP's website, your session is hijacked by a captive portal and you're taken, instead, to a site they've knocked-up called "Sack Nancy Pelosi". Just pathetic. Though it's amazing what you can achieve in lieu of any actual or meaningful policies which might serve 'We The People'.

Here, try it for yourself:

And finally, as if the Republicans haven't spent enough time tossing their toys out of their prams, because they're not getting their own way, they're now punting the line that for the bill to pass the US Senate, and instead of a simple majority (i.e. 51 of the 100 available seats, which the Dem's have), instead they'll now need 60 seats! Talk about making the rules up as you go along to suit yourself.

The GOP are designing themselves into irrelevance at a rate of knots - but give them their due: they're also providing some of the best unintentional political comedy I've seen since GW Gump Bush was in power.

After Healthcare Reform passes: a scary new GOP poll

Opinion: Scary new GOP poll

by John Avlon Tuesday March 23, 2010 - 12:58 am ET - The Daily Beast

NEW YORK – On the heels of health care, a new Harris poll reveals Republican attitudes about Obama: Two-thirds think he's a socialist, 57 percent a Muslim—and 24 percent say "he may be the Antichrist."
To anyone who thinks the end of the health-care vote means a return to civility, wake up.
Obama Derangement Syndrome—pathological hatred of the president posing as patriotism—has infected the Republican Party. Here's new data to prove it:
67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a socialist.
The belief that Obama is a “domestic enemy” is widely held—a sign of trouble yet to come.
57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was "not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president" 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is "doing many of the things that Hitler did" Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama "may be the Antichrist." These numbers all come from a brand-new Harris poll, inspired in part by my new book Wingnuts.  It demonstrates the cost of the campaign of fear and hate that has been pumped up in the service of hyper-partisanship over the past 15 months. We are playing with dynamite by demonizing our president and dividing the United States in the process. What might be good for ratings is bad for the country.
The poll, which surveyed 2,230 people right at the height of the health-care reform debate, also clearly shows that education is a barrier to extremism. Respondents without a college education are vastly more likely to believe such claims, while Americans with college degrees or better are less easily duped. It's a reminder of what the 19th-century educator Horace Mann once too-loftily said: "Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up the vacancies of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge."
The full results of the poll, which will be released in greater detail tomorrow, are even more frightening: including news that high percentages of Republicans—and Americans overall—believe that President Obama is "racist," "anti-American" "wants the terrorists to win" and "wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one-world government." The "Hatriot" belief that Obama is a "domestic enemy" as set forth in the Constitution is also widely held—a sign of trouble yet to come. It's the same claim made by Marine Lance Corporal Kody Brittingham in his letter of intent to assassinate the President Obama.
This poll is the latest and most detailed evidence of the extent to which Wingnuts are hijacking our politics. It should be a wakeup call to all Americans and a collective reminder, as we move past health-care reform, that we need to stand up to extremism.
John Avlon's new book Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America is available now by Beast Books both on the Web and in paperback. He is also the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics. Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.
For More of The Daily Beast, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

What's 40 years between great leaps forward?


[Video] Keith Olbermann: GOP self-destruction imminent

MSNBC's 'Countdown' programme again sees Keith Olbermann making accurate observations which, at least to thinking people, make perfect sense, yet the US Right don't want to hear.

A full transcript of the above can bee found here.


Health Reform Makes US More Like Europe - Thank Goodness

By Richard Cohen, March 22nd, 2010 - Real Clear Politics

Mitch McConnell is right. The Republican Senate leader, a man whose vision is to deny others theirs, told The New York Times that President Obama's health care proposal was part of an attempt to "turn us into a Western European country," which, the good Lord willing, is what will now happen. I, for one, could use a dash of Germany, where there are something like 200 private health insurance plans and where everyone is covered and no one goes broke on account of bad health. It's great to be healthy in America, but for too many Americans, it's better to be sick somewhere else.

I would also take France or Switzerland, but mostly I'd like Japan, which I move to Western Europe for the sake of argument, and where medical care is as good (or better) than it is here and much less expensive. What all these countries have in common is the recognition that health care is, like food or education, a universal right. The United States, to McConnell's evident chagrin, is now moving this way.

Do not underestimate the importance of Sunday's House vote. It was momentous and it will not be repealed by the results of the November elections. Against the hopes and insistence of the GOP, America did not reverse Social Security (as late as the Eisenhower administration, that was the fervent wish of the party's right wing) or Medicaid. The worth of these programs became evident and thus politically sacrosanct. When Americans figure out that insurance companies can no longer deny them coverage because, as it happens, they urgently need it, and when they discover that their kids can remain covered until age 26 and when they can for the first time afford health insurance themselves, this law will become untouchable.

Self-interest usually trumps ideology.

This battle was never entirely about health care. The fury of the opposition -- not a single Republican vote -- is as historically significant as the passage of the legislation itself. There is something cleaving this country, something represented by the election of Barack Obama -- the very change he either promised or threatened, take your pick -- and the hyper-exaggeration of the ideological threat the man represented. Caricatured as a socialist, a radical, a hard-left liberal and even an alien, he is actually the very soul of center-left moderation, cautious to a fault.

It is the same with the health care package itself. Whatever it is, it is not socialism. For all the fulminations about the American free enterprise system, private insurance companies are retained. The government will not do what governments all over the world do -- provide either health insurance or health care itself. Does the legislation provide for a government role? Yes. But there is a government role in virtually everything -- or haven't you noticed the tag on your pillow?

The reason this fight took so long is that the culture is about evenly divided. It's not that the political system is broken. On the contrary, it's not supposed to work without consensus. It did as designed -- marched in place and bided its time until Sunday it moved just a bit. Consider how long it has taken. Harry Truman wanted this bill.

Anger comes from fear. What was once a white Protestant nation is changing hue and religion. It is no accident that racial epithets were yelled at black lawmakers on Saturday in Washington and a kind of venom even gets exclaimed from the floor of the Congress: "You lie!" "Baby killer!" The protesters were protesting health care legislation. But they feared they were losing their country.

Ever since the New Deal, the GOP has been the Party of The Past. It said no to the New Deal. It said no to Social Security. Important leaders -- Barry Goldwater, for instance -- said no to civil rights as they now are saying no to gay rights. The party plays the role of the scold, the finger-wagger who warns of this or that dire outcome -- not all of it wrong -- and then gets bypassed by progress. The GOP then picks itself up and resumes its fight against the next innovation. Usually, it wins some battles; usually, it loses the war.

McConnell had his point. Europe is way ahead of us [the US] in compassion for the sick. Its systems, though, are hardly perfect and government debt is always a concern. Still, we now know which way we are going. The culture wars will continue, but the outcome, Mitch, is no longer in doubt.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Healthcare: Teabaggers go to the Circus

Again, the Teabaggers long on hearsay, confusion and Fox News disinformation, but so short on any details or actual facts.


Healthcare - using the simple majority

Another biting satire from Mark Fiore


Thursday, 18 March 2010

An Open Letter to the Texas Board of Education: David Bradley Owes Someone $1000 Bucks

A wonderfully written and cursive debunking of the Texas Board of Education's recent curriculum revisionism.

Click on this link to access the original piece.

Bravo Jeff Schneider at 'Demagogues & Dictators'!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Revisionism: The Texas Brain-saw Massacre

In a move of which Josef Stalin and his henchmen would have been proud, the Texas Board of 'Education' has now allowed itself to become a laughing stock in the realms of Western democratic academe. Indeed, future pupils who, on their résumés and curricula vitae, cite Texas as their alma mater have just been handed an additional hurdle in making progress in the world.

So what's the big deal?

Rather than reinvent the wheel, allow me to present the words of Luisita Lopez Torregrosa's article, History Revised, Teachers Sacked: The Book Wars in Texas and Beyond

It's been a brawl for years, this education culture war that seems to take on a particularly vicious turn in the heart of Texas. The latest and most important round, a drastic revision of the social studies curriculum standards to put a conservative spin on history and economics textbooks, was given preliminary approval after a series of heated meetings of the Texas Board of Education that didn't do much to improve the image of the nation's second largest state as a sometimes small-minded political and educational backwater.

In a matter of days last week in Austin, the majority of the 15-member board, insisting they were only trying to offset liberal bias in textbooks, questioned Darwin's theory of evolution and the constitutional principle of separation of church and state; debated hip-hop and genocide in Darfur; deleted Albert Einstein and Thomas Alva Edison from textbooks; emphasized Christian teachings and fundamentalist values; adopted conservative articles of faith like American exceptionalism; promoted right-wing leaders and organizations like Phyllis Schlafly and the National Rifle Association; and refused to give adequate attention to Hispanic and African American contributions to U.S. and Texas history. To no one's surprise, on the final round on Friday, the conservatives pulled a decisive victory, 10-5 -- a tally that broke along predictable party lines, Republicans to the right, Democrats to the left. Ethnic minority members stood on the losing side. According to published reports, no experts on the social sciences were consulted. Given the conservative cast of the board, whose members are elected, the changes it has proposed will stand when the final vote is taken in May.

So, not content with airbrushing that little known scribe, Thomas Jefferson, out of its History textbooks (due to him being "too liberal"); bringing into question Darwin's Theory of Evolution; erasing Einstein and Edison from the record of historical fact, Texas now appears hell-bent on making a hick-haven Aunt Sally of itself. After all, Jefferson was only the guy largely responsible for writing the US's Declaration of Independence, so no biggy...

In Texas, you could be forgiven for thinking The Enlightenment never happened: which, again, is ironic, as the Texas Board of Education want references to it dropped too - and that, at least for the kids seeking an 'education' (that word will now have to come with caveats where Texas is concerned), this presents potentially huge and far-reaching problems.

Picture the scene: Texan kid wanders in to apply for a job outside of his/her own state's level of backwards cultural morality (certainly when compared to the wider English-speaking world, and all other Western plural democracies); gets the job; gets into a discussion over a coffee or lunch break with colleagues about where he/she stands on 'Creationism vs. Darwin', and opts to promote the nonsense which is Creationism; gets laughed out of town, considered a 'joke', and then ostracised for promoting what he/she understands to be 'the truth'; and all because, "that's what I learned at school...". How is that fair on the kid? To say nothing of the psychological problems squadrons of them might then face, in later life, as a result of the subsequent rejection of their views by the wider world.

And that's if they secured the job in the first place, assuming that the interviewing panel didn't immediately toss his/her résumé/CV in the bin when they saw that the applicant is from Texas, and will, in all likelihood, come with a whole array of cultural, historical and fundamentalist inexactitudes and confusions which they, as an employer, are neither inclined to correct, nor, understandably, don't feel that it's their job to do so. Would they feel obliged, knowingly, to employ a racist, or someone applying for a job who had never been given even the basics in mathematics? I'd like to see anyone advance an argument which suggested that it's industry's place to re-educate those who turn up for work with (thanks to their state's education system) an irredeemably conflicted view of the world - and the employer's otherwise get-along-workforce wouldn't thank them for trying.

The irony here, and going back to the Stalin analogy, is that these overtly politicised moves, made by a small (15 people) unrepresentative clique, seeking to promote only that version of events which they deem to be ideologically 'sound', is worthy of Stalin and the Soviet Union - although you can't help but feel that this wasn't a parallel which these Texan conservatives sought when seeking a model for their educational system. Who said irony was dead?

But, as professor Lopez Torregrosa points out in her piece, this is not merely a localised issue for the beleaguered kids of Texas (and their subsequent employment prospects). Far from it. With Texas having by far the largest print-run of schools' textbooks in the US, other states tend to dovetail on the back of their publishing habits in order to get volume discounts through bulk buying. This would be risible if it weren't so tragic.

Texas textbook standards are usually adopted by publishers because the state will buy 48 million of them every year, and many other states -- 47 by some counts -- will follow that model. In light of those figures, publishers will happily take their cue from the Lone Star State.

What this says, essentially, is that the rest of US academia is willing to follow Texas off an educational cliff based on nothing more than the size of a discount-garnering print run of textbooks, with no apparent consideration or concern for the veracity or credibility of the content of the textbooks in question. That's also a damning indictment of the state of US public school finances where the acquisition of textbooks is concerned. Feeling obliged to piggyback on a bad decision, just so you can stay within budget, is a scholastic travesty.

The other thing it illustrates is that there is no common approach to US public schools in terms of learning (why?); neither, so it appears, is there anything like a common national curriculum in the US (again, why?) - as the ability to chop and change the content of its public school textbooks, based on nothing more than the political whims and sensitivities of (in this case) a 15 person politburo, indicates.

I'm trying to look for an upside here: but, sadly, I can't even be sure that those who make up The Texas Board of Education are, themselves, all teachers or educators in any way at all.

So, as Texas, and perhaps the wider US (given its apparent follow-my-leader spending habits on school textbooks), sets itself up for being understandably lampooned, I'll leave the final thoughts, here, to one of its Board of Education members, Mavis Knight, when she opines:

It was not a pretty sight. The board will surely become, or has already become, the butt of jokes on late-night shows and "Saturday Night Live."

Next time you meet someone who's insistent that humans shared the planet with Dinosaurs, or that the world is only six thousand years old, or that the Fossil Record and actual science have no value, chances are, they'll hail from Texas...

Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices. -- Voltaire.
Post Script: 25th Jan 2013... Revising The Revisionaries: The Texas Board of Ed Loses Power over Textbooks

Hey Sarah Palin

Sing with me people!


Friday, 12 March 2010

Republicans in penis envy débâcle!

Just when you need the services of a good sub-editor!


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Edward R Murrow's prescient critique nails Fox News

Murrow would never have claimed to have been a 'visionary' - he would have found the very idea preposterous - quite plainly, that is a trite and virtually now meaningless sobriquet awarded to him, and others of his ilk, by today's phalanx of inarticulate and vocabulary anemic 'anchors' (the prefix 'news' having been dropped years ago): he would, though, lament just how commoditised what comes from TV and radio, and to a degree print journalism, and which tries to pass itself off as 'news', has become.

In contrast to Murrow, we now live in an era where the ability to read from an Autocue is the sole prerequisite and qualification for a news reader: any actual pretensions or genuine skills in being a journalist have either been largely lost to runners & researchers capable only of a Google search, or quietly forgotten and consigned to the sands of time.

Today, no better illustration exists of just how much meaningful news has been devalued than the hack performances broadcast by Fox News - and by meaningful, I mean reportage which has a valid point (and not merely a cheap partisan puff piece) and is both even-handed and balanced; that which seeks honestly to inform, rather than merely to entertain with gossip about supposed 'celebrities'.

So, the next time you're patience and attention span get the better of you, and you find yourself speeding on autopilot through the channels on your TV remote, and then end up watching, for any length of time, Fox News, just think about the words Murrow gave in his address at the RTNDA Convention, Chicago, October 15, 1958, where he could have been describing Fox News, and their approach to all they produce:

"I am entirely persuaded that the American public is more reasonable, restrained and more mature than most of our industry's [i.e. news] program planners believe. Their fear of controversy is not warranted by the evidence. I have reason to know, as do many of you, that when the evidence on a controversial subject is fairly and calmly presented, the public recognizes it for what it is--an effort to illuminate rather than to agitate."

And later, from that same speech (president Eisenhower's again all too prescient comments on Habeas Corpus making a mockery of the Bush-Cheney doctrine - certainly as it appertains to human rights [Gitmo], notwithstaning), here's David Strathairn in the role of Murrow:

There's much to miss about Edward R Murrow: primarily, though not restricted to, his values and skills as dyed-in-the-wool newsman.

The Reagan Myth: finally demolished

Ronald Reagan was never that popular a president, records of opinion polls in a new book reveal.

In reality, issue by issue the majority of Americans were against Reagan policies throughout his presidency. He did receive a bounce after leaving office, but in 1990, in fact a year after leaving office, Americans rated Carter more favourably than Reagan.

Reagan did not reduce the size of government; indeed, the number of people on the federal payroll went up significantly under his leadership, which destroys another Republican/Teabagging group psychosis claim about them being the party of minimal federal government. A myth indeed.

When Reagan took office, middle-income Americans with children paid 8.2% of pay in income taxes + 9.5% in payroll taxes; when Reagan left it was 6.6% and 11.5%. Yes, unless you were rich, your federal tax burden went up, illustrating that Reagan pretty much catered only for his tax-cut-seeking electoral base and not the average American family.

Lifting many restrictions on S&Ls in 1982 was followed by a bailout 7 years later due to losses in high-risk commercial real estate ventures, and then the 2009 prime-mortgage fiasco. Proof that new Republican dogs cannot learn old tricks.

Manufacturing jobs declined under Reagan by an estimated 300,000 - 1.8 million, the US became the world's greatest debtor nation (a habit, policy and national trend continued under both Bushs), wealth inequality began its great upward leap, and the middle-class began its decades of real-income stagnation.

At the time that it happened, Americans did not credit Reagan with the fall of the Berlin Wall. A USA Today poll 4 days after the fall of the Berlin Wall (in 1989) gave 43% of the credit to Gorbachev, and 14% to Reagan; the figures were 70% and 2% among Germans.

In 1985, Reagan ruled out a military response to a Beirut hijacking for fear of civilian casualties; Lou Cannon reported then in the Washington Post that Reagan called retaliation in which innocent civilians are killed “itself a terrorist act": something which didn't stop him bombing Libya and, err... killing civilians.

The Reagan administration was completely against trying terrorists in military tribunals. Paul Bremer (yes, that Paul Bremer) said in 1987, “a major element of our strategy has been to delegitimize terrorists, to get society to see them for what they are — criminals — and to use democracy’s most potent tool, the rule of law, against them.” Bizarre, then, that Bremer was GW Bush's man on the ground in Iraq in the 'War on Terrorism' (not that Iraq ever threatened the US in any manifest way, nor did his time there see Bremer wish to stick by his own words when ferrying suspects over to military tribunals at Gitmo, instead of insisting that they be tried in civil courts - you know, "to use democracy's most potent tool" to prove that the rule of law works...)

I still can't figure out whether that's breathtaking hypocrisy or epoch-redefining irony? Probably both.

Finally, nowadays, whereas any self-respecting Republican, or at least those now scrabbling to be cast in the Reaganite mould (and they are legion), routinely claim to be a deficit-busting 'fiscal conservative', a term rapidly becoming a devalued currency for its claimants, interesting then that, according to former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, former Vice President Cheney claimed during a cabinet meeting that “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” Which prompts the question: then why do these self-same people bitch and whine non-stop about "the deficit", whilst seeking, feloniously, to paint the deficit as something which is Obama's fault, when he wasn't even in power during the previous eight Bush years which actually created it? Indeed, hypocrisy aside, as Will Bunch points out in the his Harper's interview:

'I would argue that there are parallels between Reagan and Obama, in the sense that both presidents came into power during economic crises and both cut taxes and increased spending in their first year, leading to higher deficits. The one difference—and it’s an important one—is that Reagan’s increased spending was for the relatively wasteful area of defense (although it did lead to some job creation) while Obama is making an attempt to target more useful areas, such as infrastructure and alternative energy. The bottom line on Reaganomics is pretty bleak. Yearly deficits soared, and the overall national debt nearly tripled, from $930 billion to about $2.7 trillion, according to the Washington Post.'

For those who'd like a comparison with another runaway-deficit-creating Republican president, here are the figures on GW Bush's presidency: Closing The Book On The Bush Legacy - and they do not make pleasant reading for Americans.

Once, we were academics...

A huge thanks to Canadian Cynic for this cartoon - they produce some of the most acerbic satire, daily, and their political commentary on North American politics is some of the finest on the blogosphere. A genuine pleasure to read - definitely one for inclusion in your blog roll!


Limbaugh threatens to flee the US if Healthcare is passed

As regulars here will know, the chaotic, manifestly unjust and selective refusal system, which attempts to pass for 'healthcare' in the US, is a topic to which I return to quite regularly - especially when those who are so vocal in seeking to deny equal rights to ALL US citizens, when it comes to gaining access to any meaningful healthcare-at-the-point-of-need, decide to make pronouncements on it and seek to bill it as 'the best healthcare system in the world'.

Such is the case, today, when those two dysfunctional stalwarts of putting the 'fun' back into fundamentalism, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, hit the news - after they opened their mouths, apparently only to change feet.

To the rapture of the lucid and sentient, El Rushbo has threatened to flee the US if President Obama's much needed healthcare reforms are passed into effect. By contrast, there's no doubt been much wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst his supporters - perhaps because, at least for the period which he's away (apparently poste restante in Costa Rica), they'll be denied their daily fear fix from Limbaugh's bully pulpit. Any way, here's the part in Herr Limbaugh's daily histrionics where he gives hope to those who'd gladly pay his airfare:

Thing is, you can't help but think that Limbaugh's not really given his knee-jerk 'threat' much thought, as I was reminded earlier today, as most countries tend to have strict no-entry policies for well publicised and known drug abusers. It also begs the question as to by how much Costa Rica's national drugs bill might sore were Limbaugh to pitch up there? After all, it must take a hangar-load of drugs to keep him in his usual apoplectic state.

So, speaking of fleeing the US to seek medical treatment abroad, and with no small irony, it's also come to my attention that the darling of the moose conservation movement, Sarah Palin, has also been "zooming" over the border into Canada to receive treatment for herself and her family.

But frankly, should we really be surprised at this glaring double standard, certainly when we consider Palin's credentials? After all, here's a woman who spent 312 nights, during her first 19 months in office, charging the beleaguered Alaskan taxpayers a "per diem" totalling $16,951 for staying in her own home -- an allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses whilst travelling on state business...

And yet, even with this apparent habit of embezzlement whilst in public office, there are still those out there who'd vote for her to be president?

'Flexible accounting' notwithstanding, were she to be installed as president, it rather makes you wonder what kind of impression some Americans (at least those who'd willingly vote for her) would like the rest of the world to have of it, and certainly its head of state - especially after eight disastrous years of GW Gump? Who or where would she invade first?

You can just see the diplomatic "Out of Office" messages being readied all over the rest of the Western world at the very prospect of it.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Those self-help manuals...


Thursday, 4 March 2010

Common ground

It's encouraging when folks can find common ground

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