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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!


‘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 –


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.


I Don’t Want To Believe It.

February 23rd, 2010

I just read a very well written, very disturbing essay by Lawrence Lessig expounding on what’s really wrong with congress these days. It was disturbing because it had the ring of truth to it. It’s called, ‘How To Get Our Democracy Back’,  and I encourage anyone who wants some clear insight into the fractured system we live under to read it.

Basically, he is saying that in order to get anything positive accomplished in our society it is necessary to change the campaign laws of the country so that our politicians are not beholden to corporate interests. After all, the old adage is still true – ‘You dance with the one that brung ya’,  and you can’t expect politicians to concentrate on the good of the country and the good of their own war chests at the same time. So far, so good. It may be distasteful to hear but I can well believe it. But what is harder to hear and what I don’t want to believe is that President Obama had a unique, historic opportunity to take on this problem – and he blew it.

At this point I start to protest. At this point my instincts are to start to draw comparisons of character and style between our current President and our former President. At this point I want to point out to Mr. Lessig just exactly what the situation was that President Obama walked into on day one of his Presidency and how unfair it is to rail against him for a missed opportunity here and there when he was neck deep in muck not of his own making. I want to point out that there is no training, no course one can take for being POTUS. It is a high pressure, on the job learning curve that has made more than one man’s hair turn gray overnight and if anyone can handle that kind of pressure and learn and grow in the job, President Obama can.

You see, my emotions are in play.  I, like millions of others, are emotionally invested in this man and what his campaign stood for. It hard for us to step back and dispassionately assess his first year in office when we are still reeling from the debacle that was the previous eight. But facts are stubborn things and the truth exists whether I believe it or not. And the hard truth is that Mr. Lessig is right. Congress is the problem that President Obama should have tackled first.

Congress is indeed broken and has become infested with opportunists who are looking to line their own pockets and, ‘hell and be damned’, to the needs and wishes of their constituents. Everyone is angry – both on the left and the right and the disparity between what our politicians say and actually do, (or don’t do), is becoming more and more blatant. We are becoming more cynical as a nation and there is a danger that we will adopt one of two polarized attitudes – either we become extremists or we become disengaged altogether.

I would like to propose a third option;  ‘Help Him!’.   Who?  The President, that’s who. Let’s engage that most important and least used emotion of our political arsenal, empathy, and do everything we can to help our President. It is, quite possibly, the hardest job in the world. (Well, would you want it?). Lets write our congressmen and sign our petitions and march in our streets, (peacefully). Lets have civil, passionate discourse about our problems and what to do to fix them. Lets pray for the President and ourselves. And above all else – lets believe that it’s not too late to fix what is broken and to stand for the truth – even if it’s hard to look at.

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.

Health Care?

Dec 23, 2009

So, we’re about to pass Health Care? I suppose we should be grateful that there is some form of a bill that will help some people. But here’s the thing – it isn’t what we wanted. You know – what ” We the people “wanted. We wanted cheap, universal health care that is , well, universal. Not for some of the poor people but all of them.

We wanted to have an alternative to Health Insurance companies.

We wanted a public option. It would cost the country less and provide more. Simple, no?

We know all the spin that is coming about how good this bill is. About how it’s going to force insurance companies to cover us even if we have a pre-existing condition. How the government is going to help us with the payments if we can’t afford them, etc, etc.

But here’s the thing; we don’t believe it. We don’t the believe that just because it’s in the bill that the Insurance companies are going to comply. We don’t believe that prices will come down just because we can shop around.  We don’t believe the government really believes the spin either. Otherwise that puts us in the position of having a woefully naive executive branch.

The Insurance companies are out to make money and this is the perfect opportunity for them to do so. On the announcement that the bill was even close to being signed their stocks went up 10%.

We want our government to do the moral thing and fight for us. Kill this bill tonight and re-introduce a public option because it is the right thing to do. Now is not the time to go by half measures.

Outside the box.

Steve_kleur(2) September 29th, 2009

You really do have to wonder sometimes…

I’ve been away from my blog for a while. Actually, I have been ignorant of politics and world affairs for about 6 weeks now. So I decided to try to get caught up on what’s been going on in this old world of ours.

At the time I stopped writing the following things were happening around the world and in my neighborhood; Israel and Afghanistan were  about to have elections. Toronto city council was in a protracted fight with its municipal employees, (this resulted in a strike which disrupted services for 5 weeks but I’ll get to that in a moment). There was a bizarre dustup in the U.S over whether its President was an actual American citizen. Some British M.Ps were caught with their hands in the public till. Tamil Tigers were surrounded by government forces. Iraq was a mess – as was Iran, the West bank – oh hell, the whole middle east actually. There were the usual assortment of wars, famine, disease, poverty and, (if the powers that be are to be believed), the worst economic meltdown the world has ever seen. Depressing.

So, now six weeks later…

The Toronto strike is over with the following results;  The kids didn’t get to swim for 5 weeks. Parents had to scramble to find daycare resulting in missed work and wages to say nothing of the economic toll it took on the workers themselves. And in the end nothing changed except that the Mayor committed political suicide. Oh, and the city councillors got a raise.

Israel elected a hardliner that won’t even entertain the idea of suspending settlement building in Palestine. Election monitors in Afghanistan have decried the election as rigged in favor of the government. Iran has been busy building secret nuclear facilities while its President has been going around the world denying the holocaust. The U.S found billions to give to Wall Street with no oversight or clear guidelines on how to spend it but cannot seem to pass universal Health Care even though their current system is broken. And there is still the same assortment of wars, disease and poverty.

I should be depressed all over again. Except I’m not. Because an amazing thing happened the other night.

I went to see Liam Titcomb and his band play in a local bar. It turns out that this was his one hundredth gig in two months of touring.  He went coast to coast to raise money for War Child. He raised $50,000. He didn’t do it by introducing legislation to fight child poverty. He didn’t do it by marching in the streets. He didn’t do it by blogging. He simply did what he has been doing since I’ve known him as a child – he played music.  He, his parents and his drummer got into a R.V and, with the help of sponsors and strangers along the way, raised enough money to build two schools in a war ravaged third world country so that children there could learn to read. He’s 21 yrs. old.

Makes ya think. I mean, this musician raised more money in two months than the entire United States governmental apparatus could raise for its poor children( who don’t have healthcare )in the same time period. Yes, I know he didn’t do it alone. He is blessed with an amazing family and is the first to acknowledge the generous support of volunteers along the way. But having said that, how many 21 yr. olds do you know that even would have thought of this idea let alone have the courage to try it? And it inspired people.  It touched people and they stepped up.

So what is wrong with our institutions that we can’t get anything done? Why are we so bungling and fractured? Maybe we have to start thinking outside the box – like Liam did.