Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Public Service Announcement: Protect Insurance Companies!


As a bonus, here’s a very interesting clip of CNN’s Rick Sanchez taking Fox News to task. Watch the whole clip so that you don’t miss the surprise “in your face” ending.

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LibraryThing: August & September Updates

I've updated my LibraryThing catalog with a brief reviews of The Echelon Vendetta [Micah Dalton #1] and The Orpheus Deception [Micah Dalton #2], both by David Stone, and History on Trial by Deborah A. Lipstadt.

I’m presently reading (finally) The Lost Symbol [Robert Langdon #3] by Dan Brown.


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Monday, September 21, 2009

Here We Go Again: More “Tax Protest” Signs (Part 4)

I know that I said that I was through with this topic, but I came across a few more photos shortly after I saw that “Clinging to racism” by fellow IN Touch blogger Aaron Hohenbrink made the print edition of The Indianapolis Star this morning. So, without further ado, here are yet more signs from the recent tea party protests:

A “representative” of yet another state declaring his state ready to join in an armed insurrection and another person brandishing the same “we came unarmed this time” slogan. Doesn’t anybody else get nervous seeing people holding up signs talking about revolution with the Capital in the background?

And another threat? What does he mean by “so tomorrow I won’t Have to Exercise my 2nd Amendment:”? To me, he’s saying that if he doesn’t get his way through speech, he will have to get it through force of arms. (And why the random capitalization and colons…?)

Just a fun lovin’ couple out havin’ a good time.

And here we have another kid sent out to hold up a vile poster. Again, you have to wonder at parents who would have their child hold up a poster that can be read, at least implicitly, to support violence against elected politicians. And who wants to bet that this kid’s parents didn’t want him to hear President Obama’s speech to school children out of fear that their precious little tyke would be “indoctrinated”. Listening to a “stay in school” speech: bad; suggesting that political leaders be “roadkill”: good. And remember, that face is the future of America. Scared yet?

Just another poster to demonstrate that the opposition is not solely limited to President Obama. No, here’s a high-minded thought directed at Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts). The poster could talk about Rep. Frank’s ideas with regard to healthcare or the stimulus or the bailout. The sign could even express anger at the way Rep. Frank responded to the woman asking about President Obama’s “Nazi-” inspired healthcare proposals. But no, the creator of this poster struck at the real core of the issues.

Finally, here are two “bonus” photos:

For those too young to remember, during the Cold War the far right objected to the fluoridation of public water as a communist plot. Those folks also opposed vaccinations. Apparently, this guy is still living in the 1950s. I wonder if he is opposed to vaccinations, too?

Obama Wanted PosterFinally, this poster (and, apparently, others like it) have been circulating since earlier this year. (I blurred out the website at the bottom.) Just think about the allegations that this poster makes.


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Friday, September 18, 2009

Here We Go Again: More “Tax Protest” Signs (Part 3)

I had hoped not to have to revisit this particular subject any more. However, I was compelled to do so after reading the post “Clinging to racism” by fellow IN Touch blogger Aaron Hohenbrink. Within minutes after reading his post, I came across yet more signs from the recent tea party protest that seemed to go directly to the issues that Mr. Hohenbrink was discussing. Do I believe that all Republicans or all conservatives are racists? Of course not. Do I believe that some Democrats or liberals are racists? Sure. But, as I’ve discussed in several recent posts, I think that racism does play a part in the visceral hatred and abject fear that is being displayed, whether it be discussion of “death panels”, “birther" nonsense, or even criticism of President Obama speaking to schoolchildren.

I think that these signs from the 9-12 tea party help prove the point (just in case the other signs that I’ve posted left anyone with any doubt):

“Kumbaya my ass” and references to “massa” and “plantation”? Surely nothing racist there.

Beyond “birther” nonsense, take a look at the charming image of President Obama with the “Certificate of Birth” from Kenya. Again, nothing racist in that image, is there?

(Oh, note the sign held by the guy on the left: “Let Free Enterprise Work”. Last time I checked, unregulated free enterprise is what drove the world’s economy to the brink of economic collapse and, if left alone without government intervention, could have left millions of Americans unemployed as another great depression washed over us. But he wants us to “Let Free Enterprise Work”. Does he want the auto industry to fail? Did he want the banks to fail? Did he want millions and millions of Americans to lose their homes? What kind of America does this guy envision?)

Oppressive Bloodsucking Arrogant Muslim Alien. Again, no signs of racism that I can see there.

I’m sure that there are probably even more posters out there, but I’m pretty much exhausted by the effort of displaying them here. The unfortunate situation in which we find ourselves is that, like it or not, a segment of our population is making their decisions on the basis of matters other than logic or reason and, it appears to me, in at least some cases, those decisions are based, instead, on bigotry and racism.

Here’s what I’d like to know. I’m sure that plenty of people who attended the tea party protest aren’t racists, probably the vast majority. Yet how many of them, when they saw some of these overtly racist and truly offensive signs, spoke up and told their fellow protestors that their views were wrong and offensive? If Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh tell these people that Obama is a Marxist they will believe it; if Sarah Palin tells them that the healthcare reform proposal includes death panels, they will believe her. But I haven’t heard Beck, Limbaugh, or Palin (or any of the other right-wing commentators) tell their followers that the bigoted and racist conduct is wrong. Of course, given that Glenn Beck himself thinks that President Obama is a racist, what should we expect?

Most conservatives and Republicans likely have good faith objections to President Obama’s policies and those objections deserve open, honest, and most of all civil discussion. But right now the noise that is coming from the right, whether the far right or the fringe or whatever, is dominating the “discussion” (more like drowning out discussion) and that noise includes overt racism, bigotry, and lies. And, as I’ve said repeatedly, that is not healthy for our democracy.

As a final “thought” on the subject (I hope…), here is a video of interviews from the 9-12 tea party:


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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Voter ID Law Is Bad for Democracy (Update 9); And Now It Is Unconstitutional Too!

One issue about which I’ve written extensively is Indiana’s Voter ID law: Voter ID Law Is Bad for Democracy, Update, Update 2, Update 3, Update 4, Update 5, Update 6, Update 7, and Update 8. Well today, a three judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled (.pdf) that Indiana’s Voter ID law is unconstitutional under the Indiana Constitution.

A detailed explanation of the Court’s ruling would probably bore most readers. In sum, the Court found that the disparate treatment of absentee voters and in-person voters (remember that absentee voters do not have to produce photo identification) violated the so-called privileges and immunities clause of the Indiana Constitution. The Court also took issue with the exception in the statute for Hoosiers who live in a state licensed care facility that also serves as a polling station. These decisions were based on Article 1, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution:

The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.

Rather than discuss the rationale for the Court’s decision (and I’ve written at length already about my thoughts on the issue), I wanted to take a few moments to look at some of the reaction to the decision. First, there is this from Gov. Mitch Daniels:

Gov. Mitch Daniels, who said he had not read the ruling but had been briefed on it, called the result "preposterous" and "an act of judicial arrogance."

He said it would be appealed and, he predicted, overturned. He noted that the voter ID law already had been approved by other courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld it last year in a 6-3 opinion.

"The legislature had every right to write that law. This decision will be a footnote to history," Daniels said.

I’m sorry but “preposterous” and “judicial arrogance” is more than a bit strong given that the Court of Appeals issued a ruling that prevents disenfranchisement of voters, that improperly treats Hoosiers differently from one another, and which implicitly recognizes, unlike the Indiana General Assembly, that voter registration fraud and absentee voter fraud are more problematic than in-person voter fraud. Gov. Daniels also notes that the United States Supreme Court upheld the Voter ID last year. True enough, but with one little problem. The challenge before the United States Supreme Court dealt with the constitutionality of the Voter ID law under the United States Constitution. The current challenge focuses, instead, on the Indiana Constitution. And guess what? They’re not identical. In fact, in many respects, the Indiana Constitution grants to citizens even more rights than the United States Constitution. You might think that Indiana’s governor would know and appreciate that fact…

Another interesting thing to note is that some proponents of the Voter ID law have been quick to note that all three judges on the panel are Democrats. How they know this, I’m not entirely sure. More importantly, I’m not sure why this matters. Are we to presume that the judges put aside their impartiality for issues such as this? If so, wouldn’t that mean that our entire judicial system is a farce? After all, if we’re to presume that Democrats are to be expected to rule one way, then shouldn’t the same be said for Republicans? For the record, in the 6-3 decision in the United States Supreme Court last year, only two of the nine judges were appointed by a Democratic President. Hmm.

Finally, I thought that it would be instructive to include a handful of the comments posted on the website for The Indianapolis Star in response to the Star’s article on the decision:

  • This just opened the door for Illegal Immigrants to have a voice in our fair state, way to go your fricken liberals and judges.
  • One word screams for the need to have such a law in place in every State. ACORN.
  • Oh boy, here comes ACORN with 400,000 more fraudulent votes. The liberals are dancing in the streets of Indiana today. I used to live in Chicago, and I know about how how the Democrats cheat everyone. The corrupt ACRON got Obama elected in Indiana now we can look forward to more fraud.
  • Our state constitution and those enforcing it don’t seem to mind the inequality given to one group of criminals based on their ethnicity. Plus those pushing to dismiss laws to stop voter fraud especially from illegal aliens are mostly one ethnic group. ¶ The inequality or special treatment for criminals that enter this country illegally, demand special treatment and are voting, are granted favorite treatment from crooked businesses that hire them, to state/federal benefits and leaves honest citizens and immigrants shaking their heads. Asking the question how do we stop this in some cases racist or agenda driven insanity. ¶ Granted there is voter fraud from citizens and illegal immigrants come from more than on ethnic group but those hindering a end to the favorite treatment are those that gain from this in one form or another, or are the of the same ethnic group.
  • Yes, voter fraud was hot and heavy. And yes, it was Republicans that crafted the law because the Dems were cheating by the thousands. Not a thing wrong with this law.

I’m sure that we’ll be hearing more of the same in the coming days and weeks.

Should you find yourself in a discussion on the issue, ask the following: How many cases of in-person voter fraud have ever been documented in Indiana? (The answer, by the way, as the State of Indiana acknowledged in the federal case, is zero!) So, then, what is the real purpose of this law if the harm that it is allegedly intended to prevent does not exist? Moreover, what is the real purpose of this law if it completely ignores the most likely points in the voting process at which fraud could be perpetrated?


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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Here We Go Again: More “Tax Protest” Signs (Part 2)

After yesterday’s post, I came across yet more posters (and a few t-shirts and hats) that really help to illustrate how crazed the right-wing has become. And, once again, as you look through these posters, remember that these protests are supposedly about taxes and healthcare reform, not about President Obama or racism. My discussion of most of these posters will be briefer than in yesterday’s post; most of the posters do a pretty good job speaking for themselves.

IMG_1516 by NineTwelvePhotos.

A bit more “birther” madness. Why are so many people so willing to believe this crap, even after all credible sources (including the Republican Governor of Hawaii) have debunked it?

IMG_1515 by NineTwelvePhotos.

This is the first time that I’ve seen Oprah cast as the villain. Again, I don’t suppose that there are any racial overtones here?

IMG_1505 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Think about what this person is saying: If you are a Democrat, you must be on welfare.

IMG_1500 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Nice collage.

IMG_1492 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Mini-Messiah? What does that even mean?

IMG_1491 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Is this a tax protest or an anti-abortion rally?

IMG_1490 by NineTwelvePhotos.

I don’t know. Somehow “Obamanomics” has a better ring that “Obommunism”, but I’ll give a A for effort.

Now, the next two pictures go together (front and back). The lady holding the poster is obviously quite proud of the fact that …

IMG_1486 by NineTwelvePhotos.IMG_1487 by NineTwelvePhotos.

she is a complete and total racist!

IMG_1484 by NineTwelvePhotos.

More “death panel” nonsense.

IMG_1480 by NineTwelvePhotos.

National Suicide? Because we want to provide health insurance to the uninsured?

IMG_1479 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Have you seen President Obama’s private army around lately (and no, Xe née Blackwater, was President Bush’s private army…)? I haven’t even seen many mysterious black helicopters.

IMG_1477 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Oh, no! Fascists are in control. Oooh. Scary. But she’s wrong.

IMG_1470 by NineTwelvePhotos.

I just love people who have such total disregard for anything approaching truth and accuracy. Does this guy represent the future of America or just the future of the GOP?

IMG_1469 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Ah, yes. More gun rhetoric (and with a bonus NRA hat, too).

IMG_1467 by NineTwelvePhotos.

That’s right. The Congressman who uncivilly heckles the President is a hero. Again, just think about what that kind of mentality says about these people.

IMG_1462 by NineTwelvePhotos.

At least this person recognizes the leader of the Republican party.

IMG_1463 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Sorry, but using the words “truth” and “Fox News” in the same sentence is … um … wrong?

IMG_1461 by NineTwelvePhotos.

More of the threats of future violence. This poster also raised an interesting question in my mind: I’ve seen a number of posters that all have the same or very similar phrase. So did all of these people come up with that idea on their own or is some right-wing nutjob actually encouraging people to advocate violence? I think that there are words for people who try to organize others into committing violent acts or who try to organize others into rising up in revolution. Any ideas?

IMG_1458 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Why are people all of a sudden so worked up about czars? Is it the scary-sounding Russian word? Would they be upset if these people were called administrators or advisors? And don’t forget that czars have been around in Washington for a long, long time. Richard Nixon appointed a drug czar and energy czar. I have no problem with the discussion of whether a czar should be subject to Senate confirmation; that is a legitimate discussion. But the abject fear that is being expressed simply makes no sense.

IMG_1457 by NineTwelvePhotos.

I’ve never heard of Americanism. How does it differ from democracy and/or capitalism?

IMG_1456 by NineTwelvePhotos.

I’m not really sure what to say about this one.

IMG_1455 by NineTwelvePhotos.

I’m trying to decide if this one is racist.

IMG_1453 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Death panels and abortion mandates! Some people are convinced that healthcare reform will require doctors to perform abortions and will require the government to pay for abortions. They’re wrong, but they won’t believe you.

IMG_1451 by NineTwelvePhotos.

No difference?

IMG_1450 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Interesting how Van Jones made this lady’s poster. Suddenly he’s become quite the boogeyman, too.

IMG_1448 by NineTwelvePhotos.

I presume that this poster is addressed to President Obama. I listened closely to his speeches during the primaries and campaign, I listened to his inaugural address, his speeches to Congress, and most of his press conference. But I don’t recall hearing him say that he planned to “murder 80% to 90% of the world’s population”. Somehow, I think a plan like that would have leaked by now, don’t you?

IMG_1445 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Yes, let’s quote Ayn Rand. I’ve managed to avoid reading her works, but from what I understand, she condemned altruism. I’d love to hear people of faith, in particular the right-wing Christian fundamentalists who make up a large part of the teabagging movement, explain how Jesus would respond to someone who condemns altruism. On the other hand, Rand was apparently a staunch advocate of learning by reason, something that most of these teabaggers haven’t quite latched on to just yet.

IMG_1443 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Yes, let’s be sure to torture those politicians with whom we disagree. How American.

IMG_1440 by NineTwelvePhotos.

There is so much going on in this one, I couldn’t resist including it. Send in the Honduran army?

IMG_1438 by NineTwelvePhotos.

It’s hard to get a group of right-wingers together without at least one crying that “George Soros” rules the world or is responsible for everything (have you heard that he caused the financial meltdown in order to get Obama elected?). Of course, the fact that Soros is Jewish has nothing to do with anything, right? Then again, I suspect the guy with the poster probably think that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is true.

IMG_1437 by NineTwelvePhotos.

For a nice discussion of “liberal fascism” please see David Neiwert’s critique of Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. Don’t bother with Goldberg’s book unless you want your brain to bleed.

IMG_1435 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Interesting how Robert Mugabe is suddenly popping up as a boogeyman, too. I don’t recall hearing much about him during the last eight years (or the 30 or so years before that…).

IMG_1424 by NineTwelvePhotos.

At least this woman has an eye for well-designed propaganda posters, but “Socialism or Death”?

IMG_1419 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Am I to understand, then, that Pennsylvanians are ready to engage in armed insurrection against the government of the United States?

IMG_1416 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Another person who doesn’t understand the purpose of the rally. I bet that this guy has no idea what Planned Parenthood really does. He gets bonus points for standing in front of a statue of President James Garfield who was assassinated. Coincidence?

IMG_1399 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Just remember this guy and this sign in four years (or, for that matter, in 2010). He is what we’ll be fighting against. Unfortunately, weapons like truth, reason, and logic won’t work against these imbeciles.

IMG_1398 by NineTwelvePhotos.

A two-for-one photo. I’d like this guy to tell me, precisely, how President Obama has shredded the Constitution and, in doing so, I’d like him to compare and contrast President Obama’s behavior with the behavior and Constitutionality of the actions of President George W. Bush.

IMG_1394 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Note that in this woman’s world, liberalism and progressivism are now linked to communism, socialism, and fascism. Oh, and don’t forget to “pray, America – pay hard”.

IMG_1380 by NineTwelvePhotos.

And if we put lipstick on this lady, she’d still be stupid.

IMG_1376 by NineTwelvePhotos.

I have no reason to suspect that this person is un-American, a Nazi, a bigot, or a racist. But attendance at a teabagging rally casts doubt on the claim not to be an a-hole.

IMG_1368 by NineTwelvePhotos.

More death panel craziness.

IMG_1365 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Again, in 2010 and 2012, remember this idiot and her cute shirt.

IMG_1361 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Our military may not have fought for “Heath Care” … but our soldiers do get an excellent, government sponsored healthcare plan. In fact, Joe Wilson is covered by that plan…

IMG_1356 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Grandma: If you don’t want the plug pulled, then be sure to prepare a living will or other end of life healthcare directive that sets forth your desires. If the current healthcare reform plan were to be adopted, Medicare would even pay for you to discuss that with your doctor! That is your death panel.

IMG_1348 by NineTwelvePhotos.

You agree with a liar and an uncivil buffoon. Good for you. Your mother must be proud. And what makes you think that all of those journalists are “criminals” and that just Fox (I presume) gets it right? I don’t suppose, just possibly, that you could have it backwards?

IMG_1342 by NineTwelvePhotos.

And I’m a member of the “People With Brains Who Can Think and Use Tools Like Logic and Reason”. And I vote too.

IMG_1343 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Where was this poster during the Bush administration?

IMG_1339 by NineTwelvePhotos.

This guy (?) seems to have forgotten something: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

IMG_1333 by NineTwelvePhotos.

It is unconstitutional to be an Obama? Or is Obama a verb?

IMG_1328 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Yes, I’m paying attention; yes, I’m scared. But I’m scared of you and your idiot friends, not President Obama.

IMG_1329 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Fox News has shown me the way to lie, to ignore facts, to make news rather than report it, and to make a mockery of what journalism is supposed to be.

IMG_1325 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Hey, let’s make a poster and use a German word to make it really scary! And we can give President Obama a Pinocchio nose, too. That’ll show ’em!

IMG_1320 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Note the inclusion of Social Security on this sign. The whole O s/b ama Bi nla den is pretty creative, even if it is stupid.

IMG_1314 by NineTwelvePhotos.

More birther crap. You know you’re a birther if you call the President Barry instead of Barack.

IMG_1313 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Was she confused by this? I don’t think that President Obama has been confused.

IMG_1308 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Can you imagine a Congress populated by Joe Wilson (or Joe Wilson clones). That is enough reason to start working hard right now to be sure that doesn’t happen.

IMG_1307 by NineTwelvePhotos.

Just another birther…

9/12 Teabaggers by owillis.

and another. Remind me what all of this birther stuff has to do with taxes and healthcare?

9/12 Teabaggers by owillis.

Talk about a laundry list of issues. But didn’t oil prices spike during the Bush administration?

9/12 Teabaggers by owillis.

Sarah nailed it? What can we say when people praise fear-mongers who lie for political gains?

9/12 Teabaggers by owillis.

This seemed a nice poster to finish this batch. I think that it provides a pretty good snapshot of who a lot of these teabaggers really are.

Finally, here’s another piece from CNN. The guy that Anderson Cooper tears apart is Mark Williams, the Vice Chairman of Our Country Deserves Better PAC, the sponsor of the Tea Party Express.

This is the face and voice of right-wing insanity. And yes, Williams really did call then Sen. Obama a “Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug turned anointed” and he’s proud of it.

So ask yourself the following question (and I recognize that those of you with a brain will object to the premise of the question itself, but work with me): Which do you fear more: (a) Barack Obama or (b) the people expressing the viewpoints shown in these signs and videos. If your answer is (a) then, as Barney Frank would say, “Trying to have a conversation with you would be like arguing with a dining room table”. If your answer is (b), then you need to recognize that the 2010 election is barely a year away and we need to be sure that these people and the viewpoints that they espouse are defeated at the polls.


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Monday, September 14, 2009

Here We Go Again: More “Tax Protest” Signs

This weekend, “teabaggers” descended on Washington for another of their “anti-tax” rallies (remember, these rallies are about taxes – and maybe healthcare – but aren’t about racism or President Obama…). Unlike the tea parties of April, the media did a bit better job of covering just how crazy some of these people really are. But I still think that some of the worst was completely glossed over.

For example, The Indianapolis Star noted that:

Throngs of people waved U.S. flags and held signs reading, "Obamacare makes me sick" and "I'm not your ATM" as they marched to the Capitol.

Other signs -- reflecting the growing intensity of the health-care debate -- depicted Obama with the signature mustache of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. Many made reference to Obama as a socialist or communist, and another imposed his face on that of the villainous Joker from "Batman."

However, none of the most vile posters were shown in The Indianapolis Star (or on the Star’s website). Instead, the picture that appeared in Sunday’s issue of The Indianapolis Star (and for some reason is not shown on the the Star’s website) showed one person holding a poster depicting President Obama as a Che Guevara-like figure and talking about socialism (or “socia lism”) and several people holding posters that say “Not a race issue, not a party issue, just an old American Freedom issue”:

Star's Picture of Sept 12 rally(Sorry for the poor quality, but it is a scan of the photo in the print edition of the newspaper.)

On April 17, 2009, I posted some of the more disturbing images from the tax day tea parties. Based on what I did and, more importantly, did not see in the coverage of this weekend’s “tax” protests in Washington, I’ve decided to take the time to show more of the signs that probably didn’t get much coverage in the mainstream media, just as I did back in April. As with my April 17 post (and please take a look at the update to that post for a Ron Paul related anti-Semitic poster sponsoring one of those April tea parties), these photos have been found and copied from various sources around the web and are shown in no real particular order.

I thought this poster was a nice place to start. The admission that the protest isn’t about healthcare (or, apparently, taxes) at all, but instead is about “power” seemed to set a tone. Add to that the Holocaust reference and the lovely picture of President Obama with the bloody mouth of Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker (and I have to wonder whether the choice of the Joker, with the white face paint is sort of a reversal on the old black face racist portrayals…). By the way, compare this actual image with the way it is described in The Indianapolis Star: “imposed his face on that of the villainous Joker from ‘Batman.’” Somehow, that description doesn’t quite get across what the image really looks like, does it?

This poster quickly reminds us that the protest is purely about President Obama’s policies and not … oops. Sorry. What was I saying?

There are two interesting things to note about this poster. First, perhaps I’m misunderstanding, but it sure seems to me that these guys are advocating for a coup d'état or armed insurrection. How very patriotic. Second, and here’s where I start to get confused again, in those first posters I showed, we’re told to be wary of socialism (remember that during the campaign, even Sen. John McCain admitted that then-Sen. Obama was not a socialist…) Anyway, the protesters shown above, seem to think that he’s a Marxist. But then compare those sentiments with the following poster:

Things would be so much simpler if these folks could decide whether President Obama is a socialist, Marxist, communist, or fascist. They again, I suspect that not many of them could really define what any of those ideologies really encompass. And I’m sure that all of those opposed to socialist policies will be happy to forego Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and other social programs.

At least the creator of this poster had the creativity to include more than just President Obama as fascists. Is that President Bush in the top row?

I wonder if she could explain the difference between the philosophy on the right of her poster with that on the left. And then, presuming she could, I wonder if she could really explain how the “philosophy” in the middle equates to either of the others. But she does get points for creativity.

Yes, please. Change it back to an administration that starts wars under false pretenses, uses torture, illegally wiretaps US citizens, reveals the identities of covert agents, fails to find Osama bin Ladin, and … oh, never mind.

These guys look like they’re having a great time, don’t they. I just wish that the photo showed the whole of that Nancy Pelosi poster. It looks like it was probably pretty interesting, calling her “the most dreaded Nazi of them all!”

This is one of my favorite sets of posters. Can somebody please explain what, exactly, this person is protesting? For that matter, can someone just tell me what the posters say?

Um, didn’t President Obama say that he supported some tort reform? I wonder how many people advocating for tort reform have ever been the victim of medical malpractice? Lots of people seem to support tort reform until they are the plaintiff. The comparison of Stalin and Hitler to Obama allows me to ask the following question: Precisely how many people (in particular, innocent people, but I’ll keep the question broad) have died as a result of President Obama’s policies? In your answer include all deaths at concentration camps and gulags and in wars. Now compare that number to the number killed by Stalin and/or Hitler. Hmm, doesn’t seem quite comparable, does it?

Multiple posters here! First, I’m sure that use of the “Bro” in the poster on the left is purely by accident and isn’t racially motivated. As to the poster on the right, is that person talking about Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA, when they say that socialized health care doesn’t work? And finally, I’d really like to know how anything that President Obama has done – seriously – can be compared to Nazi Germany of 1939. The poster references Aktion T4, which was Hitler’s secret euthanasia program. But as has been consistently demonstrated over and over and over again, HR 3200 (which, by the way, was not authored by President Obama) does not create death panels! (And don’t forget that the provision giving rise to the fear of death panels was authored by a Republican and co-sponsored by the very same Republican who gave the Republican response to President Obama’s healthcare speech last week).

Here we go, back to the theme of comparing Hitler, Lenin (replacing Stalin, this time), and Obama. Again, I repeat the question that I’ve asked in several posts over the last month or so: What is it about President Obama that makes people think that he is actually evil? Come on, tell me one truly evil thing that he has done.

I’m curious to know how President Obama has changed? After all, he did campaign on the very idea of reforming healthcare. For my part, Hope persists.

One of these days, I’m going to have to post a bit about what total nutcases Ron Paul and his followers really are. Just a hint: They don’t like Israel very much.

What would any good tea party rally be without a “birther”. Hey, fella: The State of Hawaii says that his birth certificate is real. And besides, are you really stupid enough to quote WorldNetDaily as a source of anything? Oh, by the way: nice suit.

Tea Party - abortion picture

(Note that in the picture above, I blurred out the image of the aborted fetus.) Remember that this protest was about taxes (and, I suppose, the President’s healthcare reform proposals). Apparently, this protester didn’t quite get that message. How do we know that President Obama supports sodomy or the new world order (and what, exactly, is this “new world order” anyway?)? And don’t forget, the United States Supreme Court also supports sodomy (or at least says that states can’t criminalize it between consenting adults).

I’ve asked before and I’ll ask again: What has President Obama done to make someone think that he is the antichrist? Seriously.

Unlike the other posters that I’ve shown, the one that this girl is holding was professionally printed and was, apparently, being distributed at the rally. Nice sentiment, don’t you think? Oh, and how old is that girl? How great is it that her parents got her involved in a rally like this where she can hold up a poster with such a moving and heartfelt sentiment. Hopefully, she’ll be proud of this photo when she’s older and trying to purchase healthcare for herself and her family.

This has to be one of the scariest posters of the day. Unless I’m mistaken, this jerk is telling us that if he doesn’t get his way, next time he will use weapons. There’s nothing quite like advocating armed insurrection as a result of losing an election. Can you imagine what Republicans would have said if people walked around with signs like this after George W. Bush “beat” Al Gore in 2000?

Another person who doesn’t believe that there are no death panels. Plus, stop for a moment and look at that poster carefully. What kind of seething, visceral hate, does it take to walk around with that poster? That kind of hate scares me.

The guy who made this poster should at least gets creativity points for picking up other historical bad guys. I think he’s missing Pol Pot and the leaders of Rwanda, Serbia, and Darfur.

Note the “Your” President (in italics, no less). And note who is responsible for this poster: LaRouchePAC (I’m not going to bother with a link). For those who are unfamiliar, here’s the Wikipedia entry on its founder, Lyndon LaRouche. He’s a real charming sort of fellow and his followers … um … I think that poster and the others on this page probably sum them up pretty well.


Nicely designed Che Guevara-inspired poster. I wonder if she has any idea who Che was?


I guess that the hearse made me laugh more than anything else. Out of curiosity, I wonder how many people have died because: (a) they couldn’t afford insurance, (b) their insurer terminated their coverage when they got sick, or (c)  had their perfectly valid claim denied?


Some parents were angry that President Obama was going to “indoctrinate” their children by giving a speech to school kids. Oooh, President Obama, evil. But there’s apparently nothing wrong with having a kid walk around a tax protest with a sign like this. Do you think she understands what the sign means? Do you think her parents have explained the issues to her? Do you think it’s a good idea for a kid to be exposed to some of the signs and rhetoric on display at the rally (whether in the form of photos of aborted fetuses, claims that her President is like Hitler, or people advocating for armed insurrection)?


I wonder if granny would be worried about “death panels” if she’d take time to read the bill and stop listening to people who want to scare her or use her to make a political point. And as to her “no socialism” stance, I wonder how soon she’ll be giving back her Social Security and Medicare benefits. (And I wonder if the woman on the far left got her scooter free through Medicare or Medicaid…)

You just knew that there had to be a Terri Schiavo poster somewhere, given the whole healthcare debate. Now remember, Republicans want the government to stay out of end of life decisions. That must explain why Republicans tried to stop Schiavo’s husband from making those decisions for her. But what does any of that have to do with 9/11?

Just another example of someone who decided to broaden the scope from just being about President Obama.

Again, one has to ask, precisely what President Obama has done to make this idiot think that he’s in league with al-Qaeda.

“Impeach the Muslim Marxist”? Who would that be? Certainly not President Obama who is neither a Muslim nor a Marxist. And even if he were, on what grounds would we impeach him? According to Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, a President can be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” What precisely has President Obama done that qualifies under any of those provisions? Of course, given that  “Glenn Beck is [this idiot’s] hero” I guess we shouldn’t expect simple things like accuracy or logic.

Another protester who came “unarmed … this time”. Will this person come armed next time? And what will qualify as next time?

This woman scares me. She can’t find her gun? I hope it has a trigger lock so the person that finds it can’t use it. And she doesn’t know how to use an apostrophe. But I suspect that she’s all in favor of vouchers…

Other than the fact that both President Obama and Robert Mugabe are black and are the leaders of their respective countries, what other traits do they share? And if you answer “they stole from the white man”, consider yourself both a racist and an idiot.

And a final “bonus” picture that has been making the rounds among the “teabagging” crowd:

Finally, I thought that this report on CNN was a fitting piece to tie all of this together, especially the first half of the report where some of the teabaggers get to tell you what they really think in their own words.

I don’t know about you, but the sentiments expressed in these posters and by the people in the CNN report demonstrate both the insanity of the tea party movement (and its sponsors like Glenn Beck) as well as the fear that it should be engendering in the rest of us.


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Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11: Miscellaneous Thoughts

During my morning commute today, I found myself listening to NPR, CNN, and (gasp) Fox News (via Sirius) as they covered the commemorations of 9/11. As I listened, I found myself both sad (for obvious reasons) and angry (I'll get to that in a minute) and I started asking myself several questions. So, in no particular order, here are a few thoughts about 9/11, eight years later.

First, I tried to remember what, if anything, I said about 9/11 last year. When I looked back at my posts, I was (somewhat) surprised to see that I had not posted any kind of remembrance on 9/11/2008. Instead, that day was one of the relatively few days on which I did not post anything as the 2008 election season began to heat up. Apparently, my focus was on Sarah Palin, lies, and push polling and, somehow, I allowed 9/11 to pass without comment. For that, I'm a bit angry with myself.

Then again, though, I wonder why 9/11 continues to have the impact upon us that it does when other horrific events do not. The whole nation does not keep 4/19 in its collective conscience, yet on that day in 1995, 168 people were killed by an American terrorist in Oklahoma City. Nor does 4/20 have a great deal of resonance, yet on that day in 1999, 12 students and a teacher were killed in Columbine. Many people certainly remember 12/7 (/41, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor), but I wonder how many stop and think about that event. I'm not suggesting that 9/11 should not have a special place in our collective memory; I'm just curious to understand why it does when these other events (or other similar events) do not.

I've often thought that 9/11 should be a national memorial day focused on the victims of terror. We celebrate our war veterans (Veterans Day), we celebrate working Americans (Labor Day), we celebrate the birthdays of our country and certain prominent Americans, and of course we commemorate those who died in the service of the country (Memorial Day). Perhaps we should have a single day to commemorate those who have fallen, not in the service to America, but rather, simply because they were American (whether on 9/11, in Oklahoma City, in the embassies in Kenya or Tanzania, or on a flight over Lockerbie, Scotland). 9/11 seems like the perfect day for such memorial. Perhaps that day could be set aside for Americans to come together to do good works in the name of those who were the victims of terror, whether it be to clean our streets and parks, plant some trees, feed the poor, or any of a myriad of other activities, with the aim of using our remembrance as an opportunity to show the world why America is great and why terror will never defeat us or break our communal spirit.

Whew. OK, enough of that misty-eyed, idealistic stuff.

As I mentioned, I also got angry listening to the coverage this morning. Out of NPR, CNN, and Fox News, can you guess which station caused by blood to boil? If you've read much of what I've written in the past, you should have no trouble guessing that it was Fox News (or as I've taken to calling them Faux News). While I was (ever so briefly) listening to Faux News, several reporters-analysts-entertainers (I don't know who they were, although I thought I heard Geraldo Rivera's name mentioned) were discussing the horrific videos we all remember from 9/11. The discussion turned to the vision of people jumping from the Twin Towers to escape the inferno. I'm sure those images are seared into our collective memory.

But then Faux News went off the rails. One of commentators -- I don't know who -- suggested that the next time we hear someone complaining about a prisoner at Guantanamo being waterboarded, we should remember those people leaping to their deaths. The suggestion was then verbally applauded by the other commentators. In that suggestion, the folks at Faux News have demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding (or lack of concern) for how our system is supposed to work and what makes America different from your average petty dictatorship. You see, in America, we don't torture people for revenge (and, yes, waterboarding is torture); nor do we torture people because they have knowledge that we want. If we did, then shouldn't we have tortured Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols to learn more about right-wing domestic terrorism? Shouldn't we be torturing the accused murderer of Dr. George Tiller or the man who shot a guard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum? Maybe we should have allowed Valerie Plame to torture Scooter Libby to learn whether Vice President Cheney authorized the leak. Should we allow the police to torture anyone that they arrest? Should we torture felons upon their convictions? Oh, and how do we know that those whom we are torturing actually deserved to be tortured and aren't, in fact, innocent?

We expect the police and armies of dictatorships and tyrannies to use torture as a weapon; we expect terrorists to use torture as a component of their terror, and we expect primitive cultures and barbarous regimes to use torture because, well because they are primitive and barbarous. But the United States stands above all that and, I think, that is one of the things about our country for which we are rightfully proud. Sure it's fun to watch Jack Bauer torture a terrorist, but that is fiction; it isn't real.

Just like you and presumably most everyone else, I feel little other than contempt or even hatred toward those responsible for 9/11 and I don't ever want them to try something like that again, let alone succeed in doing so. But that doesn't mean that the answer is to round up people and torture them in the hope that they might know something.

When I watch video of people jumping to their deaths, I am absolutely horrified and my blood boils. I want to go out and hurt those responsible. But that is the reptilian, animistic part of my brain speaking. The human part of my brain, the American part of my brain, tells me that it is the ability to control those violent retributive instincts that makes me different -- and, yes, better -- than those who would allow their baser instincts to control them or who seek to use violence, terror, and torture as means to their ends.

I don't mean to suggest that we should forgive those responsible allow future terrorists to target us again. The perpetrators and planners should be apprehended, tried, and punished (I'll leave for another day the discussion of what form that punishment should take). And we should do (almost) everything that we can to prevent another attack. But we shouldn't torture the perpetrators just to make us feel better or torture those we fear might try to attack us out of a misguide notion that the use of torture will prevent further attacks (in fact, I would contend that the use of torture only makes us more vulnerable as it serves to radicalize more and more people against us).

So I would answer the commentators of Faux News by saying that, no I don't think about the people jumping from the Twin Towers to make me feel better about torture. Instead, I think about what will happen to an American who falls into enemy hands and I think about what makes America the proverbial shining city on the hill. I reflect upon the fact that we are governed by the rule of law and not the law of the jungle. Knowing that we are better, more civilized? That makes me feel better.

Let us honor the victims of terror by erecting monuments, by engaging in acts of kindness and generosity in their names, and by building a civil society of which they would be proud, not by using torture or violence to stoke the fires of retribution.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Few Interesting Nuggets Regarding Republican Reactions to President Obama's Healthcare Speech

I wanted to briefly share a few interesting nuggets of information about some of the Republican reactions to President Obama's speech last night to a joint session of Congress.

First, I'm sure that everyone has heard about Rep. Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) shouting "You lie!" at President Obama as the President was, in fact, correctly debunking a right-wing lie. Well, according to ActBlue (a Democratic fundraising website), Rep. Wilson's 2010 Democratic challenger, Iraq War veteran Rob Miller, has raised over $150,000 since Rep. Wilson's outburst last night. Let's hope more Republicans like Rep. Wilson open their mouths, too.

It was also interesting to see House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) typing away on his BlackBerry instead of listening to President Obama's speech. A few days before the speech, in an interview with The Washington Times, Cantor was asked about Republican behavior for President Obama's speech (internal links omitted):

Cantor and I talked about how Republicans would behave, and I asked if it would be like a State of the Union when they sit on their hands or hiss for parts they don't agree with.

I also asked Cantor if there were going to be any "no Tweeting" rules for Republicans, since some of them had busy thumbs during Obama's winter quasi-State of the Union address.

"I don’t think we’re going to be guiding the caucus to boo or applaud or whatever. We’re all going to be very attentive," he said.

[Rep. John] Culberson is a frequent user of the Twitter machine, as I noted in a story examining the GOP's social media strategy.

Will the caucus tell Culberson to cool it? I asked Cantor.

"No comment. I don’t think the American people are interested in that or not," he said, adding: "It is time for some adult behavior here."

Attentive adult behavior, huh? And just for yucks, it's also worth noting that back in March, Rep. Cantor apparently elected not to watch President Obama's press conference in order to attend a Republican fundraiser at a Britney Spears' concert. And he didn't even take his daughter.

Anyway, when I saw Rep. Cantor typing away on his Blackberry, I went to Twitter to see whether, and if so what, he was tweeting, and possibly to send him my thoughts. By the time I found him on Twitter (he wasn't tweeting at the time), there were already numerous posts scolding him for his attention to his BlackBerry and inattention to President Obama. I decided to take a slightly different approach and tweeted this:
Do you use your Blackberry during Kol Nidre, too?
Finally, for those who watched Rep. Charles Boustany (R-Louisiana) offer the Republican response (of course to "respond" shouldn't you first "listen"...?) to President Obama's speech, there are few choice nuggets worth noting. First, it shouldn't come as any great surprise that Rep. Boustany took a strong position on tort reform; after all, he's been sued for medical malpractice several times and the State's medical compensation fund has had to pay out at least $1,800,000 for his conduct "below the acceptable standard of care" (and he settled another suit for an undisclosed sum). It is also worth noting that Rep. Boustany was apparently taken in by con artists from whom he attempted to buy a British royal title. He wanted to Lord Boustany! Rep. Boustany has also espoused "birther" views before endeavoring to disavow those same views. Oh, and get this: Rep. Boustany was a co-sponsor (!) of the proposal that Republicans have spent the summer criticizing as giving rise to "death panels" (forgetting that it was authored and co-sponsored by other Republicans).

I'd have to say that we saw a pretty strong performance from the Republican side last night, don't you?

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Why the Visceral Hatred? (update) - And a Bonus Discussion of Healthcare

On August 5 I wrote a post entitled Why the Visceral Hatred? which began with the following:
Why do so many (presumably mostly on the right) have such a visceral hatred for President Obama? It is one thing to disagree with his policies ("I don't like his healthcare proposal because..." or "I don't think that the government should have bailed out the automakers"). I understand those sentiments; they lend themselves to discussion of the issues which is, of course, how the democratic process is supposed to work. But in the case of President Obama, there seems to be something else going on, something dangerous.
I answered my own question, in part:

I think that the answer really can be found in that little nugget that I decided to ignore when I began this post. Those who hate President Obama never seem to fail to use his middle name. Why is that so important to them? I wonder how many of them can even tell you the middle names of the last handful of Presidents, including what the "Dubya" stands for .... I think that the name "Hussein" reminds people that President Obama is "different" and maybe, just maybe, too much a name used by "the enemy" (I doubt that Richard Nixon would have been elected has his middle name been Stalin or Kruschev, but who knows). Add to that the obvious fact that President Obama is different (remember that whole, "first African-American elected to the Presidency" thing?) and I think you've found the real reason that many people hate him. Who he is, what he looks like, and where he comes from is the proverbial elephant in the room.

I think that many people who may claim not be racist are, in fact, racist, and whether they'll admit it to themselves or not, cannot stand the idea of a "black" in the White House (never mind that he's half-white); nor can they stand the idea that a man whose father was not an African-American, but rather an actual African, and who has a "funny" name that includes a common Arabic or Muslim name associated with a principal US adversary of the past 18 years (remember Saddam Hussein...?).

I think what we've seen over the last few days makes my initial question ever more relevant. And it makes me believe that my answer was, at least to some extent, on target.
Consider for a moment the seething anger at the idea of President Obama addressing schoolchildren (never mind that both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did the same thing; never mind that George W. Bush was reading to schoolchildren when the planes hit the World Trade Center on 9/11). What could President Obama have possibly said to our children that could have "indoctrinated" them (presuming of course, that indoctrination was his subversive goal)? Please, somebody, write the sentence that he could have used that would have turned our nation's children into a phalanx of little Marxists. And, before you do so, go back and read the text of President Reagan's speech where he did talk economic politics to kids.

Some have pointed to the proposed lesson plan for teachers from the Department of Education, focusing on the suggestion that children write a letter discussing "how they could help President Obama". Note that the question does not ask the children how they could help President Obama do __________ (insert your favorite Marxist-Socialist-Fascist-Terrorist goal), but rather, simply how they could help the President. I guess that the fear here may go back to Rush Limbaugh's statement that he wants President Obama to fail. I suppose that parents who support that viewpoint would be upset at their children being asked to talk about how they might help the President rather than how they might hinder the President. I've written before about how cynical that viewpoint is, but think of the lesson that we're teaching our children when we tell them that they should want the President to fail. That is the inverse of teaching patriotism and civic spirit, but it seems that the right only believes in patriotism sometimes.

Remember, too, that we're talking about kids. Do we really worry that some 3rd grader is going to be swayed such that he'll write a letter suggesting he'll help the President by joining the proletariat to throw off the reigns of the bourgeoisie; do we really worry that some 5th grader will be emboldened to write to the government to report that his parents failed to pay the appropriate taxes on their domestic help or illegally downloaded an MP3; and do we really worry that a 9th grader will suddenly become a supporter of publicly-financed abortions for illegal immigrants and ask to sit on a "death panel" to help euthanize grandma? I mean, really. Think about it. If people are so afraid that President Obama could have that kind of influence over their children in the course of a 15-minute speech, what does it say about the influence those people have over their own children?

Which of course leads me back to the initial question. What is it about this President, in particular, that creates this degree of hysteria, fear, and hatred? Why would people presume, on the basis of nothing more than the fact that President Obama planned to speak to schoolchildren and the suggestion that children be asked how they could help the President, that President Obama's speech was some secret plan to indoctrinate children? Why do people presume evil intent?

And then consider the heckling outburst from Rep. Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) during President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress last night.
I make it a point to try to watch the State of the Union every year, to watch every Presidential speech to a joint session of Congress, and to watch the inaugural address every four years. And I don't recall ever hearing the President of the United States heckled during one of those speeches by anyone, let alone a member of Congress! So what precisely is it about President Obama that led Rep. Wilson to be so consumed by outrage that he shouted "You lie!" as the President sought to debunk lies being espoused by those on the right? (And, for what it's worth, PolitiFact rated Rep. Wilson's statement "False".)

In a similar vein (though a bit off topic...), consider what the Republicans in Congress did and did not cheer during President Obama's speech. Most importantly, I noted that few if any Republicans applauded when President Obama talked about the fallacy of the "death panel" allegation. Query: Why would anybody not applaud the President for confronting a malicious fabrication that has served to scare elderly Americans? The debunking of this fallacy takes nothing away from legitimate arguments against President Obama's healthcare proposal, so why wouldn't Republicans welcome his efforts to "clear the air" and allow the debate to focus on real issues? The only reason that I can think of is that Republicans don't want to focus on real issues and have relied upon lies and distortions as their only means of combating healthcare reform.

As I was taking a break before finishing this post, I came across a statement from former Gov. Sarah Palin about President Obama's speech that left me ... well ... dumbfounded (that seems an appropriate word given the source):

In his speech the President directly responded to concerns I’ve raised about unelected bureaucrats being given power to make decisions affecting life or death health care matters. He called these concerns “bogus,” “irresponsible,” and “a lie” -- so much for civility.
Let's not forget that Palin was one of the early proponents of the "death panel" lie:

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.
And she wants to criticize President Obama for a lack of civility because he pointed out that she and others of her ilk lied? I'm sorry, but pointing out that a false "concern" -- raised for the sole purpose of scaring people and scoring political points -- is bogus and a lie and calling those who spread these lies irresponsible is not uncivil; no, it is patriotic and democratic. As I've noted repeatedly, our system requires a full and open exchange of ideas, but must be based on honest debate. Incivility can be laid at the footsteps of people like Gov. Palin for suggesting that then Sen. Obama "palled around with terrorists," allowing supporters to go unchallenged when they called then Sen. Obama a "terrorist" or shouted "kill him", and for scaring people on the basis of complete falsehoods.
Plus, for what it's worth, I would remind Gov. Palin that "unelected bureaucrats" are already (in her words) "given power to make decisions affecting life or death health care matters": They are the faceless, nameless claims adjusters sitting in cubicles for the insurance companies deciding which patients should not be insured, which patients should be dropped when they become ill, which claims should be rejected (whether for pre-existing conditions or cost or the experimental nature of the treatment or any of a myriad of other bullshit reasons). My wife and I have to deal with these unelected bureaucrats making life or death healthcare decisions relating to my wife's illness and medical regimen. I don't see Gov. Palin or the Republicans making much effort to be sure that those bureaucrats don't have such power; apparently, private bureaucrats seeking to make a profit should be encouraged to make these kinds of life and death decisions; insurance company based "death panels" are just fine. It's OK for an insurance company to kill grandma; just don't let the big bad government and evil President get involved. What a sick, twisted, and cynical view of our society.
Thus, I am left to ponder what the future holds for a society that holds so little regard for the truth, that is so willing to believe the worst about anyone, let alone the President, and that allows visceral hatred and malicious lies to replace reasoned debate and discourse. On that note, I strongly encourage people to read Pierre Atlas' terrific essay "Beware extreme rhetoric" published today in The Indianapolis Star in which he reflects on the consequences of political rhetoric of the sort that we're seeing today.
I understand a general distrust of government, but I don't understand the hatred and belief that President Obama is evil.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Varvel Takes Aim at Bauer; Lets Bosma and Long Off the Hook

Perhaps I’m misreading it, but Gary Varvel’s September 8 cartoon (published in The Indianapolis Star) about Secretary of State Todd Rokita’s redistricting proposal appears to take an unfair shot at Speaker Pat Bauer while letting Republican leaders off the hook. In the cartoon, a figure bearing a cartoonist’s resemblance to Speaker Bauer is identified as “Legislature” and is seen pointing to crazed Indiana map labeled “Politics”:


The problem with this cartoon is that it is Secretary Rokita’s fellow Republicans who have expressed the most concern about Secretary Rokita’s proposal. According to Star reporter Mary Beth’s Schneider, “Rokita found the most agreement from House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, who agrees that an independent commission isn't the answer. Rokita's general concept, he said, ‘makes some sense.’” Compare that sentiment to the statements Republican legislative leaders: “‘I don't think it’s his business,’ said Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne. ‘The secretary of state has overstepped his bounds’” and “‘Our constitution says this is clearly a legislative function,’ said House Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, ‘and not a function of the secretary of state’s office or any other administrative office.’” Yet in Gary Varvel’s world,it is the Democratic leader who stands in the way of redistricting in the name of “permanence of incumbency”.

It is also worth noting that the House, presided over by Speaker Bauer, is very evenly divided; not every race may be competitive, but the House itself is evenly divided (just a few years ago, it was Speaker Bosma and Rep. Bauer). The same cannot be said for the Senate where gerrymandering has given the Republicans an apparently insurmountable advantage.

In the past, I’ve been critical of Secretary Rokita for inserting politics into the electoral process where it does not belong. At first blush, it appears that this proposal does the exact opposite: It seeks to remove politics from the electoral process so that our democracy can be more representative and for that he should be commended (though I’ll reserve final judgment on the proposal until I’ve examined it more thoroughly; for starters, I want to be sure that Secretary Rokita’s proposal was did not incorporate political data ). On the other hand, Gary Varvel should be asked to explain why he took a shot at Speaker Bauer while letting Sen. Long and Rep. Bosma off the proverbial hook.

Finally, for those interested, below are maps of Indiana’s current gerrymandered districts and Secretary Rokita’s proposed revisions (as rendered by The Indianapolis Star). For the record, I live in the 5th Congressional district which, together with the neighboring 4th Congressional district, must be among the most gerrymandered districts around. Perhaps that helps to explain Rep. Dan Burton’s longevity…

More detail on Secretary Rokita’s proposal (and the brightly colored but hard to read maps prepared by his office, apparently at taxpayer expense of nearly $110,000…) can be found at the new Rethinking Redistricting website.


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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

People Are Talking About One of My Posts!

I came across a discussion going on at the forum for Yosemite Area Online about President Obama and right-wing opposition (in particular the "tea party" movement). One of the forum participants posted a link to my post about the signs being displayed at the "tea parties" and the discussion at the forum then included some discussion about the pictures in my post. Cool.

I also felt the need to post the recommendation from a woman (who I met through a non-profit with which I was involved several years ago) to some of her friends about my blog:
I just discovered his blog, which contains nice, articulate demolitions of some of the more egregious prevarications of the right.

I love the sound of that...!

Oh, and sorry for the lack of postings lately. We have a new puppy at home, so patience is thin, time is of the essence, and sleep is ... um ... lacking.

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