Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Just Why Are Republicans So Pissed Off?

Deep down, we've probably all figured this one out already. But I think it currently sits in the back of our subconscious minds, unwilling to step to the front and be formally recognized. So, as usual, it's time for me to voice my opinion and let that which is hiding in the shadows be brought to light. Now that analysts and journalists have had a chance to pour over the new healthcare legislation and point out it's strengths and faults, I can see why Republicans are so incredibly mad over the passage of the bill.

It has nothing to do with any of the criticisms which have been made against it. Essentially, this healthcare legislation is the same thing that the then Governor of Massachussetts, Mitt Romney, passed into law in his state some years ago. It's also essentially the same plan that Republicans proposed as an alternate to Bill Clinton's healthcare legislation back in the early 1990's. It had 200 Republican-sponsored amendments to it on top of all that, and some reforming corrective measures were pushed through the Senate afterwards, sponsored by -- you guessed it -- Republicans. This new healthcare law couldn't be more Republican if it had been drafted by Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich. John McCain would have drafted a more liberal bill! Yet not a single Republican voted for it, and the entire conservative movement universally blasts the bill as being part of a "socialist agenda," which was "rammed down our throats." Conservatives are so up in arms that they're threatening violence, and in some cases, doing more than just threatening. Fucking why?

Part of it is just good, solid tactics. Had even one Republican voted for the healthcare bill, at least a couple of Democrats would have wondered why, taken a closer look at the legislation, and said to themselves, "Holy shit! This bill is really Republican!" And then insisted on the public option we all deserve as citizens. Couldn't have that now, could we? I give full credit to the Republican Party for keeping its head and following through on what may be the most brilliant end-around I've ever seen, especially since this means that I was exactly right in my analysis late last year. (See, "What's Wrong With The Republicans?" December, 2009.) Still, I'm sure many of the GOP's representatives didn't even realize they were being so brilliant.

But Republicans aren't just acting like they're pissed off. They're genuinely pissed off! Which, after playing Democrats like a fifty-cent ukalele, seems about as much sense as an unarmed cargo ship electing to sail along the shores of Somalia. At least privately, you'd think Republicans would be breaking out the cigars and patting themselves on the backs. But they're not! Instead, they're filing hairbrained lawsuits about the law violating interstate commerce regulation, raising insane amounts of money in preparation for congressional campaigns whose primary platform is opposition to this new law, and absolutely vowing its repeal at all costs. One might be tempted to think this is just the usual Republican insanity, and write it off, but I don't think so. I think I know why the fires of rage are so white-hot in the GOP's temper.

You see, this is a victory for Barack Obama. Oh, no! Anything but that! An essentially Republican healthcare bill has been signed into law, but it goes as a victory for Our Trophy President?! Unthinkable!

And why is this important? Because if Obama is seen as successful, he becomes unbeatable. He becomes the icon the GOP fears he'll be. That means eight full years of Democratic control of the White House, and likely another four years after that. More than likely, Obama will choose his successor very carefully, and endorse someone who will last another eight years. (Don't be surprised if it's Joe Biden's replacement on the 2012 ticket, since that gaff-machine is likely to be dumped, and don't be surprised either if it's a Hispanic female.) That means a likelihood of sixteen long years of a Democrat sitting in the chair of the Oval Office.

And there goes the Supreme Court.

Yes, there it is! Republicans, and the leaders of the conservative movement in particular, know how to keep their eyes on the prize. They know that the best way to destroy human freedom and put big-government restrictions and censorships on speech, sex, and religion, is to put a few more Anthony Scalia-like people on the highest nine-justice panel. They know it's their only realistic shot, because they've completely lost the young people, they've generally lost the abortion argument, the once-unstoppable Christian bloc is waning, and they're even starting to lose the "trickle down economics" argument. They also know that their entire agenda will go up in smoke as those currently over the age of 60 begin to die off. Yes, the elderly are living longer, but they won't live forever. Another eight to twelve years could literally be the nail in the coffin for Limbaugh-Beck-Hannity conservatism. It's a race against time, and another decade is a decade they just plain don't have. Losing this round means it costs ALL the marbles!

No wonder they're so pissed!

And notice how this explains the general dispositions of both parties. Republicans are playing fourth-quarter tactics against Democrats who have every reason to believe they're playing in the first quarter!

So, after tricking Democrats into voting for their Republican health-care bill, intentionally or not, they are poetically forced to cannibalize it -- just to keep Obama from getting any credit. It's not at all unlike a trapped animal chewing off its own leg just to get away. If only that animal weren't rabid -- and eyeing us.

The lesson is this: the footsoldiers of the Tea Party movement may be stupid, and some of its officers may even be dim, but the leadership certainly isn't. There are some brilliant minds at work, here! They've played this beautifully so far, and about as well as they've needed to with their backs against the wall. They won't go down easily, or quickly, just because they're wrong.

So if we in the balanced center, or left-center, are to succeed for America, we'd better not count on being right, or being in the majority, to carry us through. We need to dig in for an all-out, knock-down, tooth-and-claw fight to the death against these wingnuts! Anything else is surrender by default.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Television Revolution!

I watch most of my television via the Internet these days. It's so much better for all the right reasons. I get to watch my programs when I want, and the commercials are fairly minimal. So when I do get around to exposing myself to the nonsense that is old-fashioned cable television, I experience a good deal of culture shock at the level of bullshit people have grown used to.

Recent example: I go to my open-24-7-gym and get on the treadmill. I put in my earbuds, set the pace to a brisk walk, intending to take only a brief moment to find a decent channel, such as Discovery or SciFi, and break into a run as soon as I find something good. But I can't find something good. Because I can't find which channel is Discovery. In fact, I can't find any channel at all. Why? Because it's ALL commercials! Everything! I flip to a channel, hoping to find something, anything, and all I get is commercial. This goes on for 20 minutes! By the time I finally find Discovery and SciFi, I find that nothing is on. I check CNN, but it's boring analysis second-guessing why the President chose this moment to make a surprise visit to Afghanistan. I check Fox, but even more boring shit there. I check MSNBC, but no, it's Sunday, and on Sunday MSNBC turns into nothing but crap about prisons and pedophiles. ESPN is showing womens' tennis without Anna Kournikova. Big yawn. ESPN2 is showing mechanized wheelchair races. Seriously?! Finally, I settle in for Spike TV showing a House marathon, meaning that I get to watch episodes I already watched -- on the Internet. What the hell ever happened to the days when you could at least always put on MTV and always count on something good enough to just veg?

So, in the interest of standing up for human rights, and more importantly, having half my workout blown in a futile attempt at channel-surfing, I'm calling for a television revolution. We demand the following changes be made to the television landscape immediately!

One: Enough with the cable commercials! Cable repeatedly shows more commercial per programming minute than network broadcast. Knock it off! You corporate bigwigs already got your pound of flesh when you charged us $50 per month! And you charged us this exorbitant fee -- for what? For the privilege of getting more saturated with commercials than the latest issue of Harper's Bazaar! Fuck you! If we have to sit through commercials, cable is free. Either that, or have the common decency to donate our $50 to PBS, who at least have the common courtesy to show quality programming without commercials when we fork over the money. And I call for a worldwide ban on infomercials! (Sorry, I meant dis-info-mercials.)

Two: No more shit television! You know what I mean. Late-nights and Sundays come around and there isn't anything to watch, because you think that's when to show the so-called "human interest" shit. Look, late nights and Sundays are when we need good television the most! If we have to turn to the God network just to find something that raises our blood pressure, somethings wrong. Fuck, since when did the FOOD Network have more exciting shows than E!? And if you're a news network, tell the talking heads to go home for awhile and start reporting the mass genocides in Africa that we should have been hearing about for the last 30 years.

Three: I want a Constitutional Amendment requiring that all network identification icons (you know, that helpful little tag in the lower-right corner?) be shown DURING COMMERCIALS! It is so goddamned annoying to have no idea what channel your on because there's a commercial playing. So you wait until the commercial is over, only to find it's the Home & Garden channel. You got all the commercial, and none of the programming. FUCK YOU! Tell us which channel we've landed on during commercials! Oh, I know, we have new & fancy remote controls which are supposed to tell us that stuff. But not all of us have those, okay? At least do it for the benefit of those of us who have no idea where any of the channels are because we're traveling and staying in hotel rooms, only browse through cable on infrequent occasions, or are watching a friend's cable, or are in the gym. Because us rare-time users need that info the most! Then, if we land on a commercial, we'll sit through it, knowing there's something likely good at the end because it's our favorite channel. And we really shouldn't be exiled to channel 2, where we have to watch the channel and program listings slowly scroll up while forced to endure some stupid celebrity gossip we have no interest in!

Four: Televangelists pay premium for broadcasting rights!

Anybody out there have equally cool ideas? Join the revolution and chime in!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Majority oppose health care bill -- or do they?

When the House passed the health care reform bill Sunday night, Rep. John Boehner delivered a fiery speech in response, pointing out that the majority of Americans were opposed to this bill, and that it was being "rammed down our throats."

Well, Mr. Boehner, it's understandable why you object to being on your knees with your mouth open. I wouldn't like it, either. But your party was the one which had Democrats on their knees gagging for eight years, so really, Sir, fair's fair, isn't it? But you insist that this is against the majority will of the people, and that's just a lie.

As has been pointed out, while 56% of the American people oppose the bill, 43% do so because it's too liberal, and 13% oppose it because it's not liberal enough. Now, I'm not going to side with Keith Olbermann when he says that this means that 42% actually favor the bill, but I will say that it does mean that 42% think that passing it is far better than not passing it, and that means that the will of the American people was the only thing that got rammed through.

The bass-ackwards-ness of the whole thing is truly staggering. Over 200 Republican amendments were put onto this bill. And not one republican vote came about because of it. That's a Republican victory by any measure. And, let me remind everyone, Gallup showed a poll way back in October of 2009 that said 50% of the American public was in favor of the public option, while 46% were opposed to it. (4% had no opinion.) So with the majority siding with the Democrats on this one, just who was ramming things down the American public's throat here? How is this not Republicans opposing the will of the people?

I mean seriously, first they rape, then accuse the victim of rape? What sort of fucked up world are we living in, here?

Interestingly, our trophy President has come under attack for not keeping his pledge to do things out in the open, like on C-SPAN. He was attacked for doing the health care reform process "behind closed doors." But that was by design. I meant to blog about this earlier, but Republicans made sure that doing things behind closed doors was the only way it could get done. Then, they attacked for doing things that way. It's the same tactic all over again. Rape, then accuse the victim of rape.

Actually, we've seen this before. Remember when George H.W. Bush famously said, "Read my lips: No new taxes!"? Well, the Democrats responded by refusing to offer any bill on the floor without including a tax increase. Finally, Bush, Sr. aquiesced, knowing that he had to favor action over inaction or else watch the nation grind to a halt in the middle of a war with Iraq. Then, the Democrats successfully attacked Bush for raising taxes! Proof positive that Democrats are not all that innocent, but also proof that when one political party forces the other to break a promise, IT OUGHT NOT ATTACK FOR SAID PROMISE BROKEN!!!

So quit attacking Obama for doing things behind closed doors the way you forced him to do!

The Republican Party used to have some integrity. Shit, whatever happened to that? It used to be a good arrangement for a Democratic president to have a Republican congress. Now, it seems like ever since 9/11, the GOP has been drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid. This bill might suck, it's only because Republicans fucked it up, and I HATE having to say partisaned shit like that! But when politicians care more about party loyalty than they do to their loyalty to their constituents, it's time for some new politicians.

When they attack Democrats for passing a bad bill this midterm election cycle, please bear in mind who poisoned that pill. And the next time a bill comes up for a vote, and Republicans want to amend it, don't be surprised if the Dems just tell them all to go fuck themselves. Seriously, after this latest stunt, could you blame them?

I say, if Democrats are going to be depicted as ramming things down throats no matter what, they might as well actually do so for once!

Here's a pattern I've noticed: Those vehemently opposed to the bill are about 43%. Those who are creationists are also 40-something%. Those who believe the Left Behind series accurately depicts future events as foretold in Revelation are also about 40-odd%. Those who like Sarah Palin, also about 40-something%. This same percentage is strongly opposed to gay marriage and wants faculty-led prayer in public schools. They win elections only because the young people who render them in the minority don't vote as frequently! And maybe I'm going out on a limb, here, but I really think it's the same 40% each time! And those 4o% or so may be in the minority, but they're goddamned loud!

They're also old. Inflexible. Brittle and useless.

Do we really want that 43% ramming their agenda down our throats?


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health Care Reform Passes... Now What?

Well, they've gone and done it. The health care reform package has been passed and will be made into law. Barack Obama has succeeded where Bill and Hillary Clinton failed. And all the obstruction and opposition raised by Republicans is nothing more than a fart in the wind. It's nice to know that after one whole year, congress is finally capable of doing one, damned thing.


So what have we got? Frankly, I don't think the experts fully know, and so I'm a little leery of trusting what they have to say. I'm more inclined to wait and see how it works. Let's take this for a test drive before we pass judgment. Frankly, no one can blame me for saying this, can they? I mean, we all remember "No Child Left Behind," right? Turned out to be more like, "No Child Left Untested." How about campaign finance reform. Remember that? The McCain-Feingold bill? That one didn't reform jack shit! Remember Bill Clinton's "Crime Bill?" Yeah, that one really worked. So who knows?

But I can tell you two things for sure: First, we're going to see that lots of shit that was said about what this bill will do is dead wrong. Particularily the report Fox news put out about how the JAMA had a poll which said that 47% of practicing primary care physicians would quit or desire to quit if health care reform passes. There was no JAMA article which said any such thing, and there will be no sudden surge of quitting or retiring primary care doctors. But the opposite also holds true: There WILL be unintended consequences of this bill. Something nobody could have seen coming will come about as this new law goes into practice, and we'll have to repair it when it surfaces. Look out, everybody!

I've predicted we'll need to do all this again. I just don't see it any other way. But for now, we may have bought ourselves a little breathing space. I hope we don't waste that breath being blowhards.


Thursday, March 18, 2010


Lots of stuff happening out there. But nothing of concern about Tiger. Okay, he's golfing again, fine. Next story. Seriously, media people, move along! Nothing to see here! Car wreck's over!

And the health care reform bill is about to pass in spite of everything. Oops, did I say health care reform bill? Sorry, I meant to say the insurance coverage reform bill, because that's what it is. And Republicans, who are in favor of all the tax-and-spend economics in the world whenever there's a Republican in the White House, have united to absolutely oppose this bill as if their lives depended upon it -- as opposed to the rest of our lives, which actually do. All to prevent our trophy-President from obtaining anything even loosely resembling the teeniest victory. Let's be clear: this drop in the bucket, this band-aid to cover a gunshot wound, this too-little and too-late piece of shit bill is nowhere near what we need to straighten out the problem of health care in this nation. We all know it. But, alas, it's all we've got. So we need to take this tiny morsel and eat it while we can, because, frankly, we're starving.

But know this: We'll have to do this health care reform all over again -- and very, very soon! We will have no choice when, not if, the insurance companies get our DNA profiles. I've called it, I've predicted it, and you all know I'm right. The three things you can count on in life are death, taxes, and the public option for health care.

Oh, and just to get this off my chest: With so many people out of work, we need entrepreneurs to start up new businesses and start hiring people. Shame that they can't because they can't afford the health coverage. If only there were a public option, they could start up their businesses much easier! And here's the bottom line: public option is economic stimulus. Period. Fight public option, America stays out of work. Back public option, and America gets employed. Yes, it's really that simple.

And now for something completely different: A rant on something that left me speechless earlier today, and believe me, that takes some doing! I received an e-mail from Kent Hovind's ministry,, which had some interesting content. Yes, I do put myself on the e-mail lists of goofy creationists, and yes, Kent Hovind's ministry is still going, in spite of Kent still being in prison -- his son Eric is keeping the wheels from entirely falling off altogether. But the e-mail featured a new product available through Hovind's ministry, called (and I'm not making this up), Godonomics! It's a six-part DVD which outlines how God wants us to manage finances responsibly. It includes chapters on "helping vs. enabling the needy, when to save vs. when to spend, the joy of generosity, the value of a work ethic, and much more." (Available now for just $19.95! Oh, precious irony!) The video is hosted by Chad Hovind. (Yes, there's a relation. Eric's kid brother.)

What's gotten my attention about this is the timing of it. By no means is it new for preachers to talk about responsible use of money. But the current economic crisis has affected everyone, and it's been felt by churches more than one might expect. In spite of prosperity preachers yammering on about how God will "open the floodgates" of financial success for those who faithfully give their tithes (funny how that benefits the preacher first, isn't it?), the reality is that when one is faced with giving up either prescriptions or groceries this month, the tithe is often the first thing to go (followed closely by cable TV). So it should really come as no surprise that now, finally, we're seeing an organized effort at getting the Lord's faithful to stop spending money on wasteful things like fast food so that they can make sure to put their money where it belongs -- in the offering plate. And it should also come as no surprise that the early chapters of this video focus on how it's God's will for his children to be prosperous. After all, we can't have Christians thinking that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, can we?

So, with the rich now entering the kingdom, Hovind's kids have come up with a new way to get richer during a time of economic depression. Who knows, they might even get a few of their suckers to spend a little less of their money after they've wasted it one last time on their product. Then again, Tim LaHaye may come up with yet one more apocalyptic novel, and they'll end up wasting cash again.

Here's an economic reform plan: All Christians who wish to give tithes to the Lord, instead of giving to some fatcat preacher, give that 10% instead to your local hospital's indigent-care fund. "For as much as you've done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me," quoth Jesus in the scriptures. It's biblical! It would mean that televangelists and the gasbag religious lobbyists on Capital Hill would go broke, but GOOD! They should go broke! I'll bet we could pay for everyone to get free healthcare this way! Hell, I'm an atheist, and I'd even give 10% for that! Now, that's what I call "Godonomics!"

On second thought, nah, that would make too much sense!


P.S. How come it's a Kingdom of Heaven? What's wrong with a Republic of Heaven?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Austin's Plane-Bomber

There is a sign at my place of work which reads, "Nothing is too difficult to those who have the will." It's a commonly used phrase, and essentially a rewrite of its more popular version, which is, "If you truly put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything."

This is positively ridiculous, of course. Some things simply are not achievable. Hillary Clinton, for example, wanted to win the presidency more than anyone. No one can doubt she won the primary, and the overall election, in terms of sheer willpower. But willpower wasn't enough. Something was too difficult for her, even though she truly put her mind to it. She ran at the wrong time, and against the one opponent who could have upended her. It was too difficult for she who had the will.

Yet there is a certain wisdom in the saying which oughtn't be overlooked: If one believes that one's venture will not succeed, one won't engage in the venture. Hence, nothing will be achieved, and that benefits no one. So, the expression is used that those who have the will to do it can achieve anything, and those who believe it will be venturesome. In some of those cases, there will be success, and the successful tend to benefit everyone. So there is a certain reason behind using the phrase, even though it is patently false. A blatant lie, if believed, can produce some good.

Now, I bring this up only to point out that in another recent case, a lie has produced some benefit for us all. Joe Stack, the man who flew his plane into an IRS building in Austin, TX, was one who believed such a lie, and then acted upon it. He felt, as he indicated in his online suicide note, that if he sacrificed himself, or "added to the body count" as he put it, that things would finally begin to change. He acted on a silly dream, hoping that he could achieve it, if only he had enough willpower.

We now know why he lashed out at the IRS the way he did. Essentially, there had been an alteration in the IRS tax structure concerning software engineers which was intended to be a back-door tax break for Microsoft. Essentially (and I don't know all the details), the tax code forced software engineers to be unable to start up their own businesses, forcing them to work for big companies like Microsoft, and they, in turn, could hire the best talent at rock-bottom prices. The fact that this ultimately failed to truly benefit Apple and Microsoft all that much, and caused considerable hardship within the tech industry, led lawmakers to begin process to repeal the provision in the tax code. But, as often happens in the legislative process, the effort got upended in committee. So, even though the very sponsors of the failed tax code provision felt it was a mistake, the detriment went on anyway.

For one software engineer, the barricade to his own ability to fend for himself and his family became too much. He went postal.

Now, we're all left with a horrible dilemma: How can we repeal this obviously bad tax law without sending the profoundly evil message that terrorism works?

The sad truth is that, in fact, terrorism does sometimes work. Terrorism has successfully reduced Europe to a mass of nervous jellyfish over offending Muslims within its media. Terrorism in the Norse countries successfully stopped the Nazis from completing a nuclear bomb. But that being the case, we still don't want to send the message of its occasional success. After all, terrorism failed religious nutballs like Timothy McVeigh. Terrorism has largely failed with regards to Shin Fein and the Irish Republican Army. Terrorism has failed to effectively stop Israel for 65 years, which, you'd think, might tell the Palastinians something.

Alas, sometimes people believe things like that damned sign on the wall I see at work. They believe all things are possible to those with the will -- such as successfully changing things through terrorism.

Repealing this tax provision may make Joe Stack look like the hero he's not. But we might all remember that there are hundreds of thousands of software engineers who DIDN'T fly planes into IRS buildings when they had damned good cause to do so! We should immediately repeal this tax error and hail all those people as the true heroes. And the true villains are those in the legislature who are willing to throw its citizens to the dogs just to give companies which are already too big an undeserved break.