Sunday, January 24, 2010

No Agenda

The Republicans has reason to gloat over the recent MA victory. The feeble organization and leadership of the Democrats with health care reform and the poor job they've done of communicating to the public the facts of healthcare reform are also noteworthy. We're going to lose seats in the next election, to be sure.

That said, the GOP has no agenda, no plan, and no leadership. Their health care plan is nonexistent, because they don't want health care reform, ever. If it doesn't benefit corporations or the super-rich, they don't want it, and saving the lives of people not currently covered doesn't register on their radar. So much for preserving the sanctity of life. (I guess once born, you're on your own.) Their crass excuses are becoming tiresome; "let's take more time on this" they say, and "this is the wrong time for this with the high deficit" they claim ... what nonsense. They want to slow down health care because slowing it is half-way to killing it. The economy and high deficits meant little to them when Bush was driving the deficit through the roof for their agenda, but now that its the Democrats turn, suddenly money is an issue. Please.

Moreover, the Republican Party suffers from a huge leadership gap. They have no real figureheads, save for the most extreme, polarizing individuals—Rush, Beck, Palin, and perhaps Cheney. The average moderate Republican voter must be desperate for someone, anyone, that has some real brains to step up. Until this happens, the Republican party remains simply the Party of No. Eventually they will have to step up with leadership and ideas—real ideas that benefit normal Americans and not simply the fat cats—or they will soon find themselves in deep trouble. It's easy to oppose the Democrats and spread misinformation during a period of bad economy (that GOP and Bush policies largely helped create), but after you start taking over the majority again GOP, then what? The tired GOP trifecta of opposing gay marriage, opposing abortion, and threatening other countries with military action won't cut it when it comes to restoring jobs or fixing the real problems that face us today. 

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Well said!

The President tried tonight, but I fear healthcare reform is hitting the third rail. The GOP, trading in their treasured coin of fear tactics and lies, coupled with Obama's "loose reins" approach (a well-meaning intent to avoid the mistakes of the Clinton years), could well sink the public option. Or the whole reform. Meanwhile Big PHARMA has already rung out concessions from Congress. So the insurance and pharma companies will get richer and more people will go broke or die because of the ridiculous cost of healthcare in this country. [sigh]

The Bill Moyers Journal says it well here. Give a listen.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Don't Go Away Mad, Just Go Away

Today is Sarah Palin's last day in office serving as governor (much to Alaska's relief, no doubt). Now it's off to make a fortune selling books to those "lower 48" states and to clean up on the lecture circuit. If we're lucky she'll earn just enough to buy a new, deluxe tanning bed and then she'll disappear.

I've heard right-wind pundits talk about how scared the liberals/progressives are of Palin. Damn right. We always fear the unholy union of naked ambition coupled with laziness and raw stupidity. We've had one president who didn't read newspapers, and look where it got us. Go back and watch the Couric interviews again ... the mere idea that this dingbat could make ascend to higher office and make decisions that could shape the course of world history is truly, truly frightening. Stephen King couldn't dream up during his worst nightmare something as horrifying as the prospect of this starry-eyed dolt signing laws that would affect me and my family.

Of course, given her current negative-approval rating of 53%, I suspect she would only lead the Republicans to another utter defeat in 2012. She's really the gift that keeps giving. I also suspect that the ranks of Independents (if not Democrats) would swell with yet more disaffected Republicans should she run, but there also that mindless contingent that will vote for her or support her strictly because of her conservative stances regardless of how obviously moronic and dangerous she is. (This week various experts on FOX "News" were calling Obama dangerous ... holy crap! Let's see, a choice between a man who taught constitutional law and a woman who skins elk and can't even name a magazine or newspaper she reads when asked twice...)

So I say to Sarah, don't go away mad, just go away.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Goodbye Mollie

Mollie Sugden died July 1st after a long illness; her twin daughters were at her bedside. She was 86 years old. Mollie worked in theatre (where she met her future husband William Moore) and starred in such British shows as The Liver Birds and Coronation Street, but she is best known to American audiences as the fiercely outspoken Mrs. Slocombe on the britcom Are You Being Served?. She also later starred in the sequel of sorts, Grace & Favour, in which the department store coworkers attempt to make a go of a country bed and breakfast establishment.

A long-running joke on the show involved her references to her cat, Tiddles, also known as her pussy.

For a classic bit, click here and go to timecount 7:50. In this scene Mrs. Slocombe is speaking about her cat's pregnancy, but only Ms. Brahms knows she's talking about her cat.

Mollie, as Mrs. Slocombe, really defined Are You Being Served? a great deal. Much of the action and laughs revolves around her character, and she had a central role most of the Men's Dept vs Women's Dept action on the show. Her stance toward management is something many of us can appreciate.

Thank you Mollie for the many hours of laughter you've given me, and I am unanimous in that.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Crazy Like a FOX

The story of embattled South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford broke on the FOX News network as it did elsewhere, but wait there's a problem...

"(D)"? They seem to have mislabeled a Republican in disgrace as a Democrat. Luckily, this has never happened before...


In a word: owe up to your own, folks. The Republican Party has climbed onto its high horse and self-labeled itself the party of family values and the keepers of general morality, but the endless stream of shamed Republican politicians belie that notion. Newt Gingritch, Larry Craig, Mark Foley, John Ensign, Mark Sanford... Did you catch that scent? It's the smell of hypocrisy in the air.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pitch Perfect

Conservative criticism to the contrary, Obama's soft stance on the Iran voting crisis is dead-on. There are those who foolishly insist the President, speaking as the voice of freedom et al., insist that the revolting citizens are correct, the election was rigged, and so on. This is wrong.

The Iran hardliners and Ahmadinejad's camp would love to make this debate into Iran versus the Evil West rather than Iran versus many of its citizens. They have already warned the US not to meddle in a thinly veiled, weak attempt to do just that. A bold comment by the US would only give them the ammunition to make a valid case, swaying some citizens toward Ahmadinejad and inviting distraction at a time when a shocking minor(?) revolution is taking place.

This past Sunday, Monica Crowley, displaying a typically Republican lack of long-term vision, insisted that Obama take such a ill-fated stance. Lawrence O'Donnell immediately took her to task for the position, and pointed out that the result of such a statement would be ... well what? Would the elected individual step down? Would the Supreme Leader suddenly cal for a recount? Seriously, folks. The result—the only possible result—would be Iran shaking its fist at the US and crying foul. Their people lose or get distracted, they take a tougher stance (probably killing more protesters than they might otherwise), and our next series of diplomatic talks with them are automatically unproductive. Brilliant strategy, so we can—what?—feel we said the right thing? Anyone with a modicum of intelligence understands that the current Administration would love to see a power shift over there.

This is the difference between an intelligent, measured Administration and a swaggering, foolish one—giving thought to one's actions and their possible repercussions, lest you, I don't know, start a messy war or something.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

100 Days

Ever since FDR’s New Deal, all new presidents have been cursed with the “100 days” evaluation. Today President Obama has hit this somewhat infamous benchmark, and he is doing surprisingly well. The latest polls show his job approval rating at 69% (wouldn’t Bush have killed for that!), 90% feel he is a competent Commander in Chief, the Right Track/Wrong Track numbers have gone from 20/80% to 60/40% since Obama took office, and a poll this week in the Wall Street Journal (hardly a bastion of the "liberal media") ranked Obama's personal likability at 91%. The GOB pundits are crying foul at the levels of spending and his friendliness toward certain world leaders, but considering that only 21% of Americans label themselves Republicans according to their values it seems a safe bet we can ignore such chatter.

Obama promised to close Gitmo and reduce troop levels in Iraq, and prudent steps have been taken to make that so. He planned to inject roughly 800 billion into the economy, and Congress signed through approximately 787 billion. It’s been a good 100 days. He also signed off on absolutely banning torture his very first day, though some dislike that policy…


After the economy, the torture issue has been getting a lot of press recently (fueled in part by Dick Cheney’s incessant babbling on FOX News). What I want to know is, when did the use of torture ever become a debate? If you or your parents had been asked in grade school, “Do Americans torture?” the instant, authoritative answer would be “No, they don’t.”

So what has changed? Torture is still not an effective means of getting information (as saying what people want to hear and providing actionable intelligence are not the same). I’m also getting tired of the “we live in different times” or “this is a different kind of war” argument. Yeah, so? Were the days after Pearl Harbor a relaxing time for the country? All wars are different. Was Korea not different from Viet Nam ? Was Viet Nam not different from World War II? World War II different from the Civil War?

If we are going to yield our moral fiber, what exactly are we defending? There are those who would gladly permit secret government wiretapping of our own citizens and torture, yet they say we must defend ourselves against “evil” states. If we stoop to that level, we’ve already joined those states; the war is already over.

A Specter of Change?

Arlen Specter joined the ranks of the Democrats this week, bringing us closer to that filibuster-proof majority of yore. I knew I liked that tough old sage. Now if Al Franken’s lawyers come through, we’re off to the races.

Here’s to the next 100 days.