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Liars, Damned Liars & the Statistically Challenged.

February 24, 2010

I was going to call this post,‘ Reframing the Debate’ or ‘The New Lie’ but then I read a post by Tony Blankley that made me realize that all the arguments I needed to make that the Republicans are trying to obfuscate reality were contained in his post. Oh it’s got everything folks; outright lies, the wholesale rewriting of history, misdirection, avoidance of reality, demagoguery and finally, ( and a right-wing rant isn’t really complete without this), insults.

So let’s go through it, shall we? Oh, come on. It’ll be fun!

OUTRIGHT LIES

‘In fact, as many have observed recently, our government is working just fine — blocking the enactment of unpopular laws by a government that is out of step with the people.’

One can only assume that the above statement is referring to the Health Care Bill. And, if the latest polling data is accurate, the public is very clear that they do not want the current bill passed. Very well. But what Mr. Blankley inexplicably fails to point out is the reason why the public isn’t in favor of the current bill. Don’t forget, a year ago the majority of the public was in favor of Health Care Reform but after a year of Republican obstructionism and Democratic compromises the current bill looks nothing like the original one. It’s too unwieldy and complicated. No one can tout enough benefits of the bill to make it look attractive and  it lacks the one component that a majority of Americans wanted then and still want now – a public option.

But, actually, it isn’t inexplicable at all why Mr. Blankley failed to point out the crucial underlying point of the latest poll and that brings us to the next talking point –

Misdirection

What I find fascinating about the current strategy of the Republican Party is how they can take what is an essentially lazy position, (lets say no to everything and not offer any concrete proposals of our own), and sell this sloth as ‘working for the American people’. I mean, think about this; for a year now they have done no actual work of their own,- nothing that they were elected to do. Yet they are collecting their salaries, ( which we fund through our taxes), have more perks than us average Joes could ever dream of (including great Health Care), and have the utter temerity to brag about their obstructionism and lament they couldn’t do more to dismantle the very fabric of our society – witness this gem from Mr. Blankley as he recalls with fondness his glory , (or is that ‘gory’?), years with Ronald Reagan.
‘I recall feeling both times that government was broken — the filibuster was blocking our majority rule — because we couldn’t get “vital” legislation enacted. (In fact, both times I was involved, inter alia, in the failed effort to close down the Department of Education, saving only its essential student loan functions.) We overreached. We got a lot done, but only that with which the public was comfortable with.’

What? What was that? Closing down the Board of Education? Really? Is he actually trying to equate Republicans filibustering a National Health Care bill which would save people’s lives with the Democrats filibustering a bill which would do away with THE BOARD OF EDUCATION?

Lets move on to: “How to rewrite History

Rule One: Say something outrageous such as;  ‘Although I and most Americans (at least outside the South) think Abraham Lincoln acted wisely and saved the republic — and we returned to more or less constitutional government in 1865 — it cannot be denied that America got its first real, sustained taste of authoritarian government under Lincoln.’

Rule Two: Never explain your reasoning on Rule One. Now quickly move on to insult someone;  ‘Other administrations, including Jimmy Carter’s, complained that government was broken because they generally were incompetent to lead.’

I suppose that those two statements don’t really need explaining as they come from a Reaganite. But please everybody try to remember. Reagan really wasn’t that great -(Iran/Contra) and Jimmy Carter really wasn’t that bad, -(Clean Water Act). But if we let them Republicans will continue to tell lies loud enough and long enough till our brains feel like they are being pushed through oatmeal. 

Really I suppose I should be thanking Mr. Blankley. Usually it takes a lot of trolling the web to find enough disparate stories to make such a broad point as this blog post. But Mr. Blankley is truly ‘one stop shopping’.

Can’t wait till his next one.

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So It’s Come To This.

February 21, 2010

You really do have to wonder sometimes…

Lets talk health care. Why not? It seems like we’ve come full circle in the last little while. We started out a year ago with the Democrats putting together a bill which would fix the wretched state of affairs in our country and finally provide basic protection for every citizen.

And then the fun began.

The Republicans implemented their plan. Their plan was a simple one predicated upon the accurate perception that their base was apoplectic over the election of a black man to the Presidency and the loss of power in Congress. The Sky Was Falling! Worse than that, their corporate masters were hauling them on the carpet for losing the election.  So what was their plan? Come on everybody say it with me …”NO”!   ‘No’ to everything. No to bail outs, ( even though they started it when their puppet Bush was in the White House), no to Stimulus, ( even though the tax cuts contained in the bill was a page torn out their very own conservative playbook), – No to health care reform, No to civil trials for suspected terrorists, No to government oversight of shoddy (if not criminal) banking practices, NO. No. No. NO. NO!

Now I know that politics in America has always been a blood sport. And, God help me, I love it. But this last year of Republican obstructionism is unprecedented. No, that’s not hyperbole. It has literally never happened before that an entire sitting party in Congress has voted lockstep against every single thing that the Democrats have put forward without any attempt at compromise or offering alternate proposals. And this would be bad enough – but it gets worse. Now, because these treasonous politicians (well, how would you describe a bunch of people who want their government to fail?) – because these treasonous politicians have riled up the worst passions of their base there is a very real danger of violence breaking out. Don’t think it could happen? Let us remind ourselves of the uncomfortable fact that fully 40% of all the Presidents we’ve had over the last 234 years have had attempts made on their very lives. And some, tragically, have been successful. And it wasn’t all that long ago that peaceful protests in the streets for basic equality were met with tear gas and water cannons – if not worse. And now we have enraged citizens actually carrying weapons to their Tea Party Rallies. And their Representatives in Congress, far from decrying such inherently reckless behavior, are actually encouraging it!

What do we do? What do we do when we know what’s coming? We know that the Democrats are waking up to the fact that they had better stop letting the Republicans run over them and actually govern. They are going to start with the Health Care Bill. We know that the Republicans will throw screaming fits and use it as an excuse to turn the volume of vitriol up even further. We know that there is a Health summit coming this Thursday that they have no intention of attending or at the very least making a mockery of it by attending for a minute and then leaving in dramatic protest. We know lots of stuff.

Except how to get people to see reason. Because it’s not just politics anymore. It has gone too far now. Now its one step away from people getting actually hurt and violence escalating out of control. So a message to all the Tea Partyers out there from a lilly livered die-hard liberal lefty. You are being lied to. And you won’t see your conservative heroes taking any blame for inciting you to riot. On the contrary, the only logical way to look at their behavior is that violence is precisely what they want. They see your outrage as a logical stepping stone to power. They don’t care about you.  They don’t care if you die in the streets either through a misguided ideology-

or lack of basic Health Care.

Blue Dogs.

steve_kleur3April 4, 2009

You really do have to wonder sometimes…

Here we are barely 80 days into a new Democratic administration after years in the political wilderness and we’ve already got dissension in the ranks. I’m talking about this new coalition of Democratic Senators who are trying to make political hay by questioning the new President’s agenda. What are they thinking? They finally win the White House and all they can do is whine and worry that President Obama’s policies aren’t fiscally conservative enough? So, I guess by difference they were happy with the old administration’s fiscal policies? Bush ran up record deficits and didn’t even bother to find out what was happening to the economy. Everyone, every single one of the appointees , from the Fed. chair on down, dropped the fiscal ball but these Senators are now all of the sudden worried about the new guy? Please. There is obviously something else at work here.

These elected officials are commonly known as “Blue Dogs”. Basically this term is used to describe a Democrat who thinks and votes like a Republican. And, if history is any indication, they are usually from the Southern states where they would elect a ‘Yellow Dog” before they would elect a Republican. (This is a throwback to the Civil War days when being a Republican was tantamount to treason against your country. Or, at least, the new country you were trying to create by seceding from the union.) In Ronald Reagan’s time they formed a group bizarrely named “Democrats for Reagan.”

I think the Party Whip ought to remind these Senators that you “dance with the one that brung ya” and that the Civil War has been over for 144 years.  You can’t have it both ways. Either get on board with the new commander in chief’s policies and stop whining or else declare yourselves unfit for public service and go where all self serving politicians go – the Republican Party.

President Obama has inherited enough problems without having to persuade members of his own party which way to vote on policy. Dontcha think?

Just Desserts.

(please click on title for full text.)

March 7th, 2009

Something delicious happened in Ontario politics on Friday.

As reported in the Toronto Star, the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives lost a by- election and has no seat in the Legislature. ( For our American cousins, we have a Parliamentary system up here which means, among other things, that, for a short period of time, a political party can have a leader that hasn’t won an election and doesn’t really hold an elected office. Or, in this case, has lost an election. When this happens, said leader has to scramble around looking for a seat.)

So, a Progressive Conservative candidate lost in a PC stronghold. That’s good enough for celebrating in and of itself, but the best part is who he lost to. A musician! Yep, the guy has 5 albums of children’s music out there. He has a rather impressive public service resume’ as well but that fact that he’s a musician just makes his victory all the more sweet as the PC’S have been brutally cutting our Arts programs both provincially and nationally.

So, why did a Tory, named Tory, lose in a Tory riding?  I think there are a couple of things at work here. The most obvious one (and one which the writers of the article pointed out) is that people vote their own self interest.  A Liberal government is in charge in Ontario which means they are going to write all the checks from the Federal Stimulus money when it comes in.

(When is it coming in by the way?)

I think the other motivation here is more subtle. I think people resent unfair aspects of our political system. I am referring to the one where an elected official steps aside during a campaign for office and lets someone else run in his or her place.  Voters had elected a particular person to represent their riding and they didn’t like having their will usurped by the system. ( I know that we really vote for the party of our choice and the particular person shouldn’t matter – but lets face it-to us, it does matter. ) So, here comes a guy parachuting in from another riding 100 kms away and claims he can represent the locals better than one of their own. It didn’t go over very well. In fact, it didn’t go over at all.

So, score one for the voters! Now if we could only get rid of that pesky, “First Past The Post” system……