Archive for: February, 2010

John McCain Refuses to Call Barack Obama a Socialist

Feb 28 2010 Published by under Featured News

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was on NBC’s Meet the Press today and things got a little uncomfortable for him when moderator David Gregory asked McCain if he thought President Obama’s agenda was socialist. McCain would only say that, “this administration is governing from the left.” McCain would not label Obama a socialist.

Here is the video:

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When asked by Gregory if Obama’s agenda was socialist, McCain answered, “Look, look, there is no doubt in my mind America’s a right-of-center nation and this administration is governing from the left. That’s why the president’s approval rating’s continued to, to decline. And I know you want to get off health care, and I will. But I want to say again–and Eric Cantor who’s coming on later will affirm this–we want to sit down and have negotiations, and we have a positive agenda, and we would love to see that agenda…”

Not satisfied with his answer, Gregory asked again, “my question is do you think that kind of–because you’ve heard that description before, not just from J.D. Hayworth but others. Does it go too far to say the president’s agenda is a socialist agenda?” McCain responded with, “I, I think I gave my description. I think they’re governing from the left on a broad variety of issues, but I’ll let others speak for themselves. I, I have enough time taking care of my own misstatements.”

One could see McCain’s obvious discomfort with the question. He didn’t want to answer it, because of his right wing primary challenger who happily labeling President Obama a socialist at every turn, McCain could not say that he knows that President Obama is not a socialist, so he stuck to the safe point that Obama governs from the left. It is debatable as to how far to left Obama is, but McCain stuck to the relatively safe statement, while dodging the socialist question.

McCain has already moved to the right in order to win reelection, but he will never have credibility with the right wing, because he won’t embrace their rhetoric and call Obama a socialist. If I was John McCain, and I saw the Republican Party moving as far to the right as it has, it might have looked like a great time to retire. McCain isn’t a maverick, but he isn’t a winger either. McCain is just a Republican, but in 2010 American conservatives are in no mood for regular Republicans.

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Nancy Pelosi Offers the Tea Party Unity With Progressives

Feb 28 2010 Published by under Featured News

Pelosi Makes an Offer to Tea Bag the Tea Party

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was on ABC’s This Week this morning, where she made an interesting offer to the tea party movement. Pelosi claimed that the tea partiers share the same view as progressives on the issue of the special interests, so they should work together on that issue. Of course, since the tea party is now controlled by special interests, her offer will be rejected.

Here is the video:

When asked about the tea party movement, Pelosi said, “the Republican Party directs a lot of what the Tea Party does, but not everybody in the Tea Party takes direction from the Republican Party. And so there was a lot of, shall we say, Astroturf, as opposed to grassroots. But, you know, we share some of the views of the Tea Partiers in terms of the role of special interest in Washington, D.C., as — it just has to stop.”

The strategy which the Democrats have adopted starting with the healthcare summit is to move to the middle and offer common ground with the right. If Republicans continue to turn them down, then they paint themselves as the party of out of touch extremism, while the Democrats can appeal to voters in the middle of the political spectrum.

As far as the tea parties themselves are concerned, as Pelosi herself said today, much of this movement is being funded and directed by the Republican Party and right wing special interests. There are smaller organic tea party groups that are leftover from the Ron Paul presidential campaign in 2008, but these genuine tea partiers have been dwarfed by the corporatized GOP takeover of their movement.

Pelosi’s offer of unity with progressives on the issue of special interests is designed to expose much of the fraudulent nature of the movement. If the tea partiers are sincerely interested in battling the special interests, then they should work with anyone, but if they are nothing more than a tool of the GOP, they will scoff at Pelosi’s offer. Most of the tea partiers are nothing more than unwitting participants in a special interest lobbying campaign, and these are the people that Pelosi was speaking to.

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The White House Calls Out The GOP’s Bunning for Blocking Unemployment Benefits Extension

Feb 27 2010 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party

Jim Bunning Could Care Less About The Unemployed

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer ripped Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) for blocking legislation that would extend COBRA and Unemployment Insurance benefits. If the legislation is not passed, 400,000 people will lose their benefits. Pfeiffer wrote, “There’s nothing wrong with someone taking a principled stand for something they believe in, but Senator Bunning voted to extend these same benefits in 2008.”

Pheiffer pointed out that after the healthcare summit, Republicans are returning to their obstructionist ways, “But just when we thought we were seeing progress, we have been confronted with a disappointing return to tactics that could be harmful to the American people, with Senator Bunning (R-KY) blocking the extension of several critical priorities for middle-class families. If Senator Bunning gets his way, hundreds of thousands of people could be ineligible for COBRA tax credits for health coverage created by the Recovery Act; 400,000 individuals who cannot find work will lose their unemployment insurance; thousands of small businesses will lose access to credit; transportation projects and public safety programs across the country would be halted; critical transportation safety personnel will be furloughed at a time of increased concern about the safety of our roads and highways; and 600,000 doctors across the country who care for our seniors and veterans could be subject to a 20 % pay cut, including 8,105 in Senator Bunning’s home state of Kentucky.”

He discussed the hypocrisy of Bunning’s 2010 position, “There’s nothing wrong with someone taking a principled stand for something they believe in, but Senator Bunning voted to extend these same benefits in 2008. Over the past decade, unemployment insurance extensions have been passed as emergency measures under Republican and Democratic Congresses alike. So what we’re seeing right now is politics at its worst. It’s a perfect example of why so many Americans are fed up with Washington.”

The Communications Director called on Republicans to end their games, “We need to think about how our actions will impact the American people, because they sent us here to work for them. We need to put an end to the gamesmanship, and do whatever is in our power to put Americans back to work. They expect and deserve nothing less of us.”

The Republicans strategy is simple. They are going to block anything that might help the American people right now, because they have to keep the electorate’s anger level high in order to have a chance for victory in the November elections. Republicans like Bunning are willing to hurt millions of Americans if they think that Obama and the Democrats will be assigned the blame for voters’ pain.

Bunning, along with his fellow Republicans who also opposed the jobs bill, are making a huge mistake when they start opposing measures to help the people who have been most impacted by this recession. Republicans are handing the Obama administration the club to beat them over the head with. As Republicans continue to move too far to the right, they are opening up the door for Obama and the Democrats to retake the middle.

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Tea Partiers and the United States of White Christian America

Feb 27 2010 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party

Tea Baggers Just Wanna Have Fun

It is no surprise that the angry white conservative movement a.k.a. the tea partiers has come to life since the election of Barack Obama, because they were fine with George W. Bush’s many violations, illegal wars, suspension of habeas corpus, etc. What lay at the heart of conservative opposition is their loss of control – and a black man in the White House.

So Bush wipes his ass with the Constitution for eight years. He treats it not as a binding document but as a rough set of guidelines – to be ignored or not as he chooses – even refers to it as “a goddamn piece of paper”! But we do not see any of the following:

States rights movements
Tea Parties
Oath Keepers
Talk of impeachment

And in complete contravention of fact, it is liberals – Obama, not Bush – who are now accused of treating the Constitution like a “living document.” I suppose there is something in that, since at least under Obama the Constitution is alive, whereas for Bush it was a dead letter – as inconvenient as any other fact.

From all this there is only one conclusion we can draw: that despite the narrative we are now being expected to swallow, conservatives are not standing on a set of eternal and unchanging principles. No, they are hypocritically opposing our constitutionally elected government because they don’t control it.

Conservative outrage has nothing to do with the narrative’s gospel. If it did, they would have formed Oath Keepers (2009) during the Bush administration. We would have seen the Tea Party (2009) begin during the Bush administration; we would have heard cries for Bush’s impeachment (2009) and the states rights’ movement (2009) would have been in full swing. But they were fine with Bush’s many violations, illegal wars, suspension of habeas corpus, etc. What lay at the heart of conservative opposition is their loss of control – and a black man in the White House.

Nossir. The events of the 2008 elections brought them an America they had not signed up for.
How did they respond? By picking up their toys and going home. But they insist they’re not racist as they sing “Barack the Magic Negro” en route to their storm trooper-style hate fests.

What is truly at the heart of the narrative?

White Christian privilege is a precious thing to many. They’ve had it since the founding, after all. And things can get pretty entrenched in a couple of centuries. And shouldn’t they have had cause for optimism by 2008?

Look at the progress they have made: in 1954 they got “one nation under God” added to the pledge of allegiance; in 1956 they managed to get our national motto changed from E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One), a completely accurate (and secular) motto chosen by our Founding Fathers, to “In God we Trust” – a motto which our Founders could have chosen – but significantly, did not.
They’ve even re-written the history books to show that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that the 13th century was the “true” Age of Reason. Only conservative white Christians are “real” Americans, according to the narrative they have established. Anyone who opposed their president opposed God.

Under the Bush Administration, they finally had things set up exactly like they wanted them. Back to the 13th century we went; we even had our own crusade in Iraq. Let the good times roll.
Though these changes from a secular orientation (per the Constitution) were not solidified until the conservative hysteria of 1950s, the narrative insists that they have always been part of our Nation’s identity – as a White Christian Nation: sort of a KKK writ large.

A place of White Christian Privilege, almost a nature preserve, but one that is artificially stocked and which stands at odds with the reality world around it – and in many cases, with history. Their fanaticism is in direct and inverse proportion to the growing threat (an increasingly diverse population in terms of ethnicity and religion) to their privileged position.

The racism inherent in the narrative is real and it is deeply entrenched; the narrative is stock full of ethnophobia, homophobia, and religious intolerance. Is it any wonder that the prospect of a crusade against “godless” Islam got them salivating? They could even dream of a little ethnocide. What good old boy won’t sign up for that?
And to give them credit, the good old boys down south make no pretence. They admit what it’s about. You’ll find the rhetoric at Tea Parties as well.

It’s reality check time: At least when the south seceded they had the intellectual honesty to admit what it was about: they didn’t want their slaves taken away and they didn’t think African Americans were real people, and neither, really, were immigrants. Heinous reasoning yes, but we don’t see that kind of honesty from today’s secessionists. It isn’t real events that concern them but the products of their fevered imaginings – the old line used when Clinton ran was used when Obama ran – “he is gonna take your guns away and give them to the niggers.”

And they seem to have convinced themselves that this is true. Though Obama has not made any move against their guns (just as Clinton didn’t) states are busy easing gun laws. Just last month, the New York Times reports, “the Indiana legislature passed bills that block private employers from forbidding workers to keep firearms in their vehicles on company property.”
But contrary to the narrative, Obama has signed bills in the past year that allow guns to be carried not only in national parks and but in luggage on Amtrak trains! But these are inconvenient facts; they interfere with the narrative! And the narrative insists that Obama’s administration is going to take away your guns – a fear that resonates with “real” Americans.

After all, Obama is not one of them – he’s not white, and he’s either not a real Christian or not the right type of Christian (again, in violation of the narrative, Obama has kept Bush’s Religious Right-friendly Faith Based Initiative in place but this, too, is ignored).
And so in the rush to enact legislation to make it possible for people to murder each other in volumes not seen since the Wild West, the states play into the narrative of the big bad government vs. the honest, hard-working “real American” citizen, even though Obama has not taken away any rights.

Bush’s list of Constitutional violations is staggering. The First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment, the Eighth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment, there are only 27 Amendments. By my count, Bush violated a staggering 22% of them.

But where was – where is – the outrage? We hear some admission that Conservatives strayed from their “core values” during the
Bush Administration but this is lip service. Bush is no less a hero to conservatives today than he was before Obama took office.
To the contrary, though he has not gone far enough, Obama has eased some of the more egregious outrages of the Bush Administration – outrages none of these current groups complained about when they were enacted by Bush, but for which Obama is now being blamed.

But then Bush was one of them: an anti-intellectual good old boy – a conservative white Christian – a “real” American.

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Fox Propaganda Alert: Beck and O’Reilly Debate the Meaning of Progressivism

Feb 26 2010 Published by under Featured News

Beck and O'Reilly a.k.a. The Dumb Leading the Blind

Tonight during his regular segment with Glenn Beck on FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor host Bill O’Reilly tried to drag Beck into his feud with Rush Limbaugh over whether or not Obama is a Socialist. Beck claimed that Progressivism is like Marxism without the revolution, while O’Reilly claimed that Progressives just want to “Take your stuff.”Once again Fox News offers its views only the finest in narrow minded propaganda.

Here is the video courtesy of Media Matters:

Bill-O said that he doesn’t think that Obama is a Socialist, but Limbaugh and Beck think he is. Beck said, “If you wanna be technically accurate, he’s not a not a Marxist. He’s not a Socialist. He is a Progressive…The spirit of it. The idea is, people don’t understand what progressive really means. The difference between Marxism and Progressivism is Marxism has a revolution, like what Van Jones would like to do. Progressivism says bit by bit we’ll eat at the Constitution in the name of progress.

O’Reilly defined progressivism as, “Progressivism wants to take your stuff. That’s it. That’s what it is. They want to take your stuff. Beck added, “I will go a step further. They don’t just want to take your stuff. They want to control every element of your life.” O’Reilly wouldn’t quite go that far, “Maybe…I don’t think Obama cares what you do in your spare time.”

What Beck and O’Reilly did here was use the basic propaganda technique of name calling. The name they want to label as the enemy of democracy is progressivism. The propaganda won’t be effective if they first don’t define the term progressive, which is what Beck does when he equates progressivism to Marxism, and since the Marxists became the Communists who were the enemies of the US during the Cold War, this makes progressives the modern Marxists and the enemies of America.

That is a nifty little trick they pulled there, but it isn’t accurate at all. In order for the right wing effectively demonize the word progressive, they first had to change the terms meaning. The American progressive movement was originally a turn of the 20th Century movement of modernization and progress that featured Republicans, like Teddy Roosevelt and Robert La Follette. If this doesn’t seem very Marxist, that is because it wasn’t.

What the right wing has managed to do is take the classic European definition of Progressivism and apply it to American liberals, who are too terrified to call themselves liberals, so they cower in fear behind the inaccurate term progressive, with their intended result being to turn the word progressive into a political smear, just as conservatives did with the term liberal decades ago.

The point which was lost on O’Reilly and Beck is that they are applying the wrong definition to the wrong group of people. This was an example of Fox News propaganda at its finest. They fed their viewers inaccurate information, which they passed off as fact in order to advance the right wing agenda. This was propaganda 101 from Fox News and company.

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On Fox News: Shep Smith Obliterates GOP Healthcare Talking Points

Feb 25 2010 Published by under Featured News

Shep Smith Lowers The Boom on Talking Points

Republican Sen. John Thune was on Fox News’ Studio B program trying to sell the talking point that healthcare reform would raise premiums but host Shep Smith would have none of it. Smith went off, “That’s not true, senator. That is not true that is not what the CBO said. I know your talking points. I know the other side’s talking points…”

Here is the video courtesy of Media Matters:

Thune said, “Republicans are not going to buy into a bill that costs two and a half trillion dollars, that raises taxes on small businesses and individuals, that cuts Medicare, and at the end of the day raises premiums for most Americans.” This answer set Smith off, “No, it doesn’t. That’s not true, Senator. That is not true. That is not what CBO said. I know your talking points. I know the other side’s talking points, but can’t we just say look we’ve got to do something in this country. This is going to bankrupt us, and you people up there who are supposed to be representing us are making it perfectly clear, you are going to sit in your corners with your own talking points, and we are going to lose. We’re going to get nothing, and it’s clear we’re not.”

I don’t know if Smith was more upset about Thune’s obvious lie about reform causing premiums to increase, or the fact that his guest spent the entire segment mouthing GOP talking points. Smith did go on to predict everybody being even more divided if Democrats pass the bill through reconciliation, but in my opinion, as it stands there is no political unity in this country right now anyway, so Democrats have more to gain from passing the bill than they do from no bill at all.

The shelf life on the Republican healthcare talking points expired last fall. This is why the anti-reform forces have been losing momentum. I think it is very clear that come hell or high water, the Democrats are going to get this bill through the Senate.

Shep Smith is correct though. While the Senate is locked in a test of wills, 14,000 people lose their access to healthcare every day. The politicians have lost touch with the issue, and this is why I think it is going to be a long election night in November for incumbents of both parties.

41 responses so far

Healthcare Summit Turning into another Obama Slaughter of the Congressional GOP

Feb 25 2010 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party, White House

Obama healthcare

Congressional Republicans and Democrats have converged on the White House for a day long summit on healthcare reform with President. If you thought that the Republicans would learn from the beating that Obama gave the House GOP when he spoke to them at their retreat a few weeks ago, you were wrong. Republicans are still sticking to their talking while letting the president make the case for healthcare reform.

Obama opened the day with the hope that this event designed to be political theater would not become political theater.

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So far, so good, let’s see what the GOP’s new strategy is courtesy of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN):

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Alexander said, “Now, you have presented ideas. There’s an 11-page memo—I think it’s important for the people to understand that there’s not a presidential bill; there are good suggestions and ideas on the web. It’s a lot like the Senate bill. It has more taxes, more subsidies, more spending. So what that means is, when it’s written, it will be 2,700 pages, more or less. It will probably have a lot of surprises in it. It means it will cut Medicare by about half a trillion dollars and spend most of that on new programs, not on Medicare and making it stronger, even though it’s going broke in 2015. It means there will be about a half trillion dollars of new taxes in it. It means that for millions of Americans, premiums will go up, because when people pay those new taxes, premiums will go up, and they will also go up because of the government mandates. It means that from a governor’s point of view, it’s going to be what our Democratic governor calls the ‘mother of all unfunded mandates.'”

For good measure, Alexander threw in a let’s start over again talking point, “Our view, with all respect, is that this is a car that can’t be recalled and fixed, and that we ought to start over. But we’d like to start over.” The problem with repeating the same talking points is that the other side knows what’s coming as evidenced by Harry Reid’s opening remarks.

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Reid said, “It’s obvious, we heard it. Our Republican friends oppose our legislation, and that is your right, but also it becomes your responsibility to propose ideas for making it better, so if you have a better plan for making health insurance more affordable, let’s hear it. If you have a better plan for making health insurance companies more accountable, let’s work on it….”

The healthcare summit has been a trap for Republicans, but it is a trap of their own creation. As soon as they decided to stick to their talking points, they played right into President Obama’s hands, because the issue being debated today is healthcare, but the larger political subtext is the obstructionism of the Republican Party.

Obama and the Democrats are laying the groundwork for an electoral strategy to the frame the Republicans as the Party of no ideas. We have all heard this before. The difference is that Obama and the Democrats have set out to expose the Republicans on day long national television.

If the Republicans were smart they would have at least shown up today willing to pay lip service to the notion cooperation, and maybe put a few new ideas on the table, but if Republicans were smart, they would be Democrats, so I was probably expecting too much from them.

Be sure to check out our live healthcare summit chat at 4:00 PM ET today.

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Politicus Healthcare Summit Chat at 4:00 PM ET

Feb 25 2010 Published by under Featured News, White House

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Sarah Palin Throws another Top Aide under the Bus

Feb 24 2010 Published by under Featured News

One of the few top aides who were still with Sarah Palin announced her resignation today. Palin has a long history of tossing her biggest supporters under the Palin Bus, making sure to leave their reputation in tatters as the bus rolls over them in its relentlessly ambitious journey to her self-described God-mandated “destiny” as President.

Palin aide Meg Stapleton, a long time friend of the half term governor, trotted out the old “leaving to spend time with family” excuse in today’s announcement. “Leaving to spend time with family” is translation for irreconcilable differences, scandal, fighting, firing; i.e., there’s a story here.

What makes Stapleton’s resignation so obviously just another Palin aide being thrown under the bus (the bodies are really piling up under the Bitter Express) is that Palin did not even have the graciousness to issue a “we appreciated Meg’s work” statement.

Nope. Instead we got Fred Malek, quoted by Politico as “Palin friend” when what they really meant to say was Fred Malek, her number one fan. Yes, that Fred Malek, of the counting Jews fame. Palin palling around with genocidists is more of those Real Merika values.

“Since Palin’s resignation, Malek has been what Cillizza described as “the leading defender of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.” In fact, it was Malek who first put “Palin under his considerable Washington wing” and invited Palin to join many Washington establishment figures at January’s Alfalfa Dinner – “a venerable gathering of the city’s political elite.””

Good old Fred (we all know how trustworthy this guy is) issued the following lame statement:

“Meg has been deeply involved in all things Palin and instrumental in Sarah’s many successes,” Fred Malek, a prominent Republican fundraiser and Palin friend, told POLITICO. “It’s hard to replace anyone so loyal, tireless and effective, but the Palin phenomenon will continue. Meg has surely earned the privilege to devote more time to her 2-year-old daughter, but I expect she will continue to render advice to her good friend on key issues.”

Sarah couldn’t manage to even spit out a normal PR statement sans venom. She has a history of releasing PR statements calling her constituents “asinine”, so perhaps Freddie thought it best that he speak on her behalf, lest she hurt the Palin brand any more than she already has in the last 6 months.

Palin has had a long history of blaming anyone and everyone for her own failings and those closest to her mimicked the Palin “Smear Offense as the Best Defense” strategy. As a reminder, here is a video of Stapleton doing the pitbull’s dirty work during the Troopergate investigation, in which Palin was found guilty of abusing her power. Instead of acknowledging her wrongdoing, Palin used Stapleton to smear the reputation of Trooper Monegan, a former marine who is well respected in Alaska. Attacking those who speak the truth is standard operating procedure for Palin’s team. It appears that like attracts like:

Gosh, the job of top Palin aides seems to have a lot of turnover.

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The Daily Show Mocks GOP Hypocrisy over Obama and Hawaii

Feb 24 2010 Published by under Featured News

On Tuesday’s The Daily Show, John Oliver followed Republicans to the RNC winter meeting in Hawaii, where Republicans continued to talk about fiscal responsibility while enjoying an expensive Hawaiian getaway. The point was that when Obama goes to Hawaii, to the GOP he is an elitist, but the RNC sees no irony in their own behavior.

Here is the video:

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Oliver talked to several Republicans who utter the same talking point that Democrats are out of touch with average Americans, while they lounged around in Hawaii. One meeting attendee claimed that Democrats can’t connect with people because, “They’re more well to do. They had the money to go to Harvard and that kind of thing.”

Later in the segment, Oliver said, “It was basic common sense. In the middle of the recession don’t waste money on programs that we don’t need, can’t afford, or simply look ridiculous,” all the while the video showed him lounging at the resort.”

As usual, the comedic Daily Show was the only program to point out the sheer absurdity of the Republican Party trying to score political points, by talking about Democrats being out of touch with the common man, and fiscal responsibility, from Hawaii where they decided to hold their winter meeting in the middle of a recession.

The worst part about it is that the members of the RNC seemed completely clueless. They talk about Democrats being elitist, but fail to realize that even in good times, average Americans can’t afford a getaway to Hawaii. If Republicans are serious about fiscal responsibility, they could set an example for the rest of America, but holding their winter meeting in Pittsburgh or Cleveland instead of Hawaii.

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