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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Foxx Gets Obama's Autograph 

Let's review, shall we?

When Republican Minority Leader John Boehner announced to his Republican House troops on January 20th that President Barack Obama had accepted an invitation to appear before Republican members of Congress during their Baltimore retreat this past week, Madam Virginia Foxx was nonplussed (that's Latin for "pissed off"):
North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx asked Boehner whose idea it was and was told it was "the leadership." When Foxx pressed him on precisely who among the leadership came up with the idea, Boehner demurred.

If you haven't seen the now widely viewed video of President Obama's appearance before the Republican Conference, it's definitely what you should watch (it's available practically everywhere, but here's a quick link). Just how amazing was it? Well, for a true gauge, consider that Fox News, CNN, and MS-NBC all covered it live, but Fox broke away 20 minutes in. Mustn't let Fox viewers see Obama putting one over on the Republican Caucus!)

Watching Obama handle the brat-boys of the Republican caucus made me proud of him again, an emotion I haven't felt in, well, months. Doesn't mean all is forgiven for the way he's mishandled health-insurance reform and a bunch of other stuff. Just means I felt better about him for approximately one hour and 20 minutes. (And, incidentally, we learned that it was that deeply dim Mike Pence of Indiana, chair of the Republican Conference, who was responsible for the Obama invitation, and after what happened on Friday, we suspect Mr. Pence's powers for invitin' might be rescinded.)

Maureen Dowd in today's NYTimes said that the "newly warmblooded Barack Obama" got his groove back in the Republican lion's den: "He may lapse back into his Camus coma at any moment. But on Friday he dropped the diffident debutante act and offered, as he did at the State of the Union, some welcome gumption."

(Dowd has something of "a thing" for Albert Camus, the French philosopher of the absurd. According to Dowd, Camus understood the "eternal frustration of moral order in human affairs." Whatever.)

Anyway, enter Madam Virginia Foxx, who was very much present in that hotel room in Baltimore when the President mowed down every Republican bright-boy who attempted to trip him up or embarrass him. And she tweeted about it:
Pres gave us another lecture. Our guys asked great questions. Need independent fact checker for his comments. Got autograph 11:13 AM Jan 29th from txt

Got autograph?

The man may be a socialist trying to rob Americans of their liberty, but goddamn it, he's a celebrity too, and Madam Foxx turned into a teeny bopper in bobbie sox and a poodle skirt just that rapidly.

Is there any Congressperson more pathetic than this woman?

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Oh Great 

First thing our eyes alight on this a.m., this headline in the NYTimes: "Obama Trying to Turn Around His Presidency."

Good idea, me thinks.

But, then, this, in the second graph: "...he may scale back."

I'm about to sweep everything on my desk into a swirling mass on my office floor, and then turn to breaking crockery, but I'd like first to ask a simple question: How does one "scale back" from zero?

He's going to turn around his presidency by turning tail and running?

Hell, maybe he'll even give a speech.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fault Finding 

Wouldn't it be great if the president we elected now actually showed up?

Wouldn't it be great if the president who promised "change we can believe in" now actually started believing in it himself?

Wouldn't it be great if the lessons of Massachusetts did indeed put a stop to that awful Insurance Entitlement Act that the Senate passed and which our president has clearly preferred over the much better House bill?

Wouldn't it be great if our president stopped trying to cuddle up with Wall Street and Big Pharma and all the other bigs and started leading for the people, to take our government back from the Cleptocracy?

Wouldn't it be great if Barack Obama fired Rahm Emanuel? And the entire Treasury Department?

Whatever lessons they're learning this a.m. in Mugstomp-on-the-Potomac, we very seriously doubt that any of the above is included.

This is President Obama's fault.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Obama Losing His Base 

It's his fault. It's President Obama's fault. What ... he thought he could rev up a coalition that wanted real reform and then betray it with a sell-out to corporate money and to Joe Lieberman? Apparently, he and his advisors naively thought that everyone would just fall right into step behind The Insurance Company Bail-Out Act of 2009, that his fans would accept any bill rather than a good one.

The web-based Obama troops, 13,000,000 of us on the Organizing for America (OFA) listserv, received e-mails on Wednesday, asking us to phonebank our senators to support the Joe Lieberman version of health insurance reform. We contacted Kay Hagan, all right, but not to urge her to support that piece of garbage. Politico sez the revolt is widespread and going viral:
One leading OFA volunteer in Florida blasted an email to a statewide listserv urging activists to "just say no" to the phone-banking effort -- uncorking a torrent of frustration from Florida Democrats -- while some OFA subscribers replied directly to the call-to-action email with angry messages and others asked to be removed from the list entirely.

Dave Hearn, an optician in Iowa who helped organize for Obama's campaign said that the president "is taking for granted that the volunteers who worked so hard for him were going to buy in to whatever strategy he chose to pass his major legislative initiative .... What am I going to say: 'I hate this bill, but we're Obama people, so let's do it?' "

That ain't working. Ain't working on any number of levels, and it's Obama fault for not fighting for what he said he wanted, both during the campaign and right regularly since he took office.

"If this bill passes, it will be because Joe Lieberman threw a hissy fit and was allowed to control what went into the bill," said Susan Smith, an OFA activist from Tampa. "That means that in the end, he had more power with President Obama and Senator Reid than we do. If he is rewarded, this tactic will be used over and over again to kill the progressive agenda."

Susan's got it right. Obama's got it wrong. It remains to be seen if this president can be a leader and a reformer or merely a jet-setting speech-maker.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Larry Kissell's Possible Primary Opponent 

Larry Kissell, the first-term Democrat representing the NC-8, voted against the health insurance bill which the U.S. House passed and which is several light years better than the hardened turd favored by Joe Lieberman and Barack Obama in the Senate.

Kissell has been in trouble with his Democratic base in the NC-8 ever since.

There's a movement to recruit lawyer Chris Koury to run against Kissell in the 2010 primary, and no less than the chair of the Mecklenburg Democrats is cheering Koury on.

There's going to be a lot more of this sort of primary activity if the Democrats in the U.S. Senate get their way with what they are currently proposing as "reform" of health insurance.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Democrats Determined to Self-Destruct 

Mr. Rahm Emanuel, representing the wishes of Mr. Barack Obama, ordered Sen. Harry Reid to kiss Sen. Joe Lieberman's ass yesterday, and Sen. Reid obediently got on his knees.

From all appearances, there will be no health insurance reform that means squat. Plus, from all appearances, Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Obama are intent on losing their majorities in both houses of Congress next year, because (hey!) the profits of Big Insurance Companies come first.

For his part, Sen. Lieberman is going to need more compass to strut:
Mr. Lieberman could not be happier. He is right where he wants to be -- at the center of the political aisle, the center of the Democrats' efforts to win 60 votes for their sweeping health care legislation. For the moment, he is at the center of everything -- and he loves it.

"My wife said to me, 'Why do you always end up being the point person here?' " he said, flashing a broad grin in an interview on Monday.

Sen. Lieberman is a post turtle who thinks God put him up there. We all know it was Rahm Emanuel.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kissell Has Some 'Splainin' To Do 

Rep. Larry Kissell is North Carolina's newest representative in Congress, elected in 2008 from the NC-8 (which includes all the counties on the South Carolina border, from the eastern suburbs of Charlotte to Cumberland County and Fayetteville). Most analysts agree that Kissell won his seat against the wealthy Republican Robin Hayes partly on Barack Obama's coattails, since Obama carried the district.

Which makes Kissell's vote against the House's "Affordable Health Care for America Act" last Saturday very puzzling. Make that "very maddening," since Kissell was elected on the strength of progressive activism and was thought to be an actual Democrat, as opposed to NC representatives Mike McIntyre (NC-7) and Heath Shuler (NC-11), the Blue Dogs who owe some secret, shadowy allegiance to the political power cult known as "The Family."

For his part, Kissell has been ducking comment since Saturday, while his constituents are pouring on some heat. A group of protestors organized by the Cumberland County Progressives stood in the rain outside Kissell's Fayetteville office yesterday, holding up wet signs that said "Blow the Whistle on Larry Kissell" and "Give Kissell a Big Dismissal." (Rhymes are apparently still the preferred genre for political protests.)

"In the 8th District, we only have one voice in Congress, and that one voice voted against us," said a spokesman for the group. "We're upset that Kissell has been elected -- and really by the coattails of President Obama -- to represent a district where a lot of people need health care," said the president of the local NAACP. "And he didn't vote for it. That bothers me."

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The New Face of the Republican Party? 

Meet Doug Hoffman, losing candidate for the U.S. Congress in the NY-23. Hoffman did NOT run and lose as a Republican. He ran and lost as a tea-bagging conservative. The GOP did NOT initially pick Hoffman as its candidate. No, it was worse than that. It picked a "moderate" Republican woman, Dede Scozzafava, who does not hate gay marriage and is pro-choice on abortion rights. Which led (as we're sure you know) to a major uprising within Republican and tea-bagger ranks. Ended up that every major Republican presidential hopeful in 2012, along with many other prominent national Republican spokespeople, bailed on Scozzafava and started endorsing Mr. Creepy Man Hoffman. Got so bad that Scozzafava pulled out of the race and endorsed the Democrat, the Unknown Man, Bill Owens, who won last night ... the first Democrat to be elected from the NY-23 since before the Civil War. Put that in your tea bag and steep it!

If this is what the conservative movement brings to the Republican Party, GOP operatives have very little to be strutting about this a.m. Exit polling in both Virginia and New Jersey strongly suggest that the voters in those states were not lashing out at President Obama. They were lashing out at Corzine in New Jersey (good riddance to all such present and former Goldman Sachs bankers, sez I). In Virginia, the 2008 Obama voters stayed home and demonstrated that Virginia definitely ain't for lovers. It's for old people.

Certainly, in North Carolina Tom Fetzer and the state GOP have precious little to crow about (from what we've been able to see so far this a.m.). But more on that in a subsequent post.

The elections in New Jersey and Virginia WERE about Obama in one way: those states went for him a year ago because he promised change, he promised an up-ending of "business as usual," he promised visionary leadership and progressive ideals. He has not delivered. He surrounded himself with the wrong people, and instead of dynamic leadership, we've gotten maddening caution and Rahm Emanuel. I might have sat at home myself in New Jersey or Virginia yesterday.

We keep hoping that the other Barack Obama, the one who won that huge election a year ago and told us things were going to be different, is eventually going to actually inhabit the Oval Office.

If he doesn't, 2010 will indeed be awful.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Yes We Can't 

A few days ago a large manila envelop arrived in the mail. In it, an 8 x 10 glossy photograph of the 44th President of the United States, a little keepsake just for us (and a few million other of his supporters, we guess), a small reminder that he still holds us in high esteem, a billet-doux with a clear subtext: "Do you still love me?"

How did he know? How did he guess that our affection has been going south ever since it became abundantly clear that his message during the campaign about actual, fundamental change to American corporate cronyism was pretty much political theater (and just as nourishing)?

Okay, okay, we know all that cobwebby stuff about pragmatism and compromise being the lifeblood of political progress, that no one ever actually gets immediately what would be right and just but must accept baby steps and half-measures ... like, say, the House Democratic health-reform bill trotted out yesterday by Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the party leadership as though it were The Tablets brought down from Sinai.

So far, we ain't buying it, keeping in mind that the severely watered-down House version of health reform is just the starting point for further watering down, as everything in the weeks ahead tips rightward toward the real bill that will eventually emerge as the so-called "victory" for Change in America: that is to say, a huge corporate give-away with a mythical "trigger" meant to rein in the corporations some day down the road, like maybe never.

I think I'm just not cut out for compromise. "Compromise is never anything but an ignoble truce between the duty of a man and the terror of a coward." Somebody said that. I don't know who. Whoever it was obviously knew some Democrats, probably Blue Dogs.

It dawned on a lot of us months ago that the 44th President of the United States made a deal with big insurance corporations and Big Pharma and gawd knows who else approximately 30 minutes after Rahm Emanuel installed his favorite coffee mug on his White House desk, a deal that this administration would NOT challenge corporate control of our government and the legislative process. They've been dodging around ever since, trying to get someone else, like Harry Reid in the Senate, to take the fall for failing to deliver real reform. The White House is the culprit. They have not negotiated in good faith, far as we can tell.

So, no, I ain't happy, and I haven't framed your picture yet.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Is There Water in Those High Clouds? 

At last, signs that the "public option" is far from dead and that President Obama is beginning to work behind the scenes to match his leverage to his election race rhetoric.

Jane Hamsher, however, remains skeptical.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shuler Mad at Democrats in His District 

Heath Shuler of the NC-11 reportedly held a meeting with Democratic Party leaders in Haywood County that reportedly turned rather ugly. Seems that those Democratic loyalists were pressing Shuler on why he was such a g.d. Blue Dog and wouldn't support a public option for health insurance. Shuler has shown flashes of irritation before with Democrats who just don't seem to understand that a Blue Dog hears a different whistle.

Shuler's name is now the first signature on a letter that Blue Dogs wrote to Henry Waxman demanding that certain language in H.R.3200 that PhRMA doesn't like be changed to language that PhRMA likes much better because (hey!) PhRMA wrote it after Billy Tauzin and other big drug company wheeler-dealers had a meeting with Rahm Emanuel and the President during which a bribe of $150 million was offered by PhRMA to promote the president's health-care "reform," so long as that "reform" did not include any price controls on the drug industry. Matt Taibbi has the inside scoop.

So guess what? Heath Shuler is about to be the recipient of some pro-Heath Shuler advertising by PhRMA, in appreciation for his service to killing real reform.

And actual Democrats are left wondering just how are we better off with corporate interests buying our guys just as assiduously as they bought the other guys.

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Law of Unintended Consequences 

Sez Dad:
"Listen, Junior, I don’t want you listening to That Man, That Muslim, on Tuesday. You’re to get up and leave the room, you got that? If someone locks the door – and they might – you stick your fingers in your ears and say 'Praise Jesus!' over and over until that sumbitch is done. You got that? I ain’t gonna have no kid of mine getting brainwashed by no commie fascist socialist. No siree."

The only thing potentially worse than denying junior the chance to hear the President of the United States address personal responsibility and doing one’s best ... is making the President of the United States forbidden fruit. Because you know teenagers, and if you don’t know teenagers, then you’re possibly an orthodox conservative Republican who actually thinks the taller the wall, the safer the doctrine.

So mark us down as applauding the loony right for making the President such a mysterious, dangerous force to be avoided at all costs. The odds are very good that they’re raising a generation of Democrats.

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It's Really Pretty Simple 

What Bill Moyers said Friday night:
"...Come on, Mr. President. Show us America is more than a circus or a market. Remind us of our greatness as a democracy. When you speak to Congress next week, just come out and say it. We thought we heard you say during the campaign last year that you want a government run insurance plan alongside private insurance — mostly premium-based, with subsidies for low-and-moderate income people. Open to all individuals and employees who want to join and with everyone free to choose the doctors we want. We thought you said Uncle Sam would sign on as our tough, cost-minded negotiator standing up to the cartel of drug and insurance companies and Wall Street investors whose only interest is a company's share price and profits.

"Here's a suggestion, Mr. President: ask Josh Marshall to draft your speech. Josh is the founder of the website He's a journalist and historian, not a politician. He doesn't split things down the middle and call it a victory for the masses. He's offered the simplest and most accurate description yet of a public insurance plan — one that essentially asks people: would you like the option — the voluntary option — of buying into Medicare before you're 65? Check it out, Mr. President.

"This health care thing is make or break for your leadership, but for us, it's life and death. No more Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. President. We need a fighter."

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Wish Never To See This Face Again 

Rahm Emanuel ... there's a swell guy.

Bad advice sometimes indicates a bad advisor.

If President Obama goes with Rahm, it's his trip. We'll not be joining him.

We'll concentrate instead on what we can do locally and turn off the national feeds, recognizing that there's not a damn thing we can do about the president following bad advice and throwing the progressives in his own party under the proverbial bus ... which is where Rahm has always seemed to prefer them.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Well, It IS Monday 

Unfortunately, this pretty much says it all.

The author, David Michael Green, teaches political science at Hofstra.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Crunch Time 

Roger Simon this a.m. revisits the campaign of 2008 to remind us of what candidate Hillary Clinton said about candidate Barack Obama: "Clinton warned voters that Obama would let them down. She warned them that when the going got tough, he would fold up."


Simon wields that memory because as of this past weekend, the prez appeared to be giving up on the public option for health insurance. The public option would create competition for the insurance companies, not socialism (which is what the over 65 crowd already has with its Medicare coverage, but don't try to tell them that. They've got theirs, which apparently was delivered by Jahweh to Moses on Mt. Horeb, and they don't give a living flip if you get yours).

Simon leaves the door ajar a crack for a transformed Obama to come charging back into the fray: "We don't know for sure that Obama is about to give up on the public option. I think, in the end, he will not. I think he may be tougher than some think and stronger than the polls show. But I admit there are troubling signs."

Perhaps the House Progressive Caucus can help the prez find those misplaced testicles. Some 60 members of the House say no way are Sen. Max Baucus and the likes of Rep. Heath Shuler the dictators of Democratic policy.

Progressive Dems, stick to your guns.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Yelling You Hear Is Coming From the Losers (Duh) 

Consider these words written about the president of the United States:
"We have arrived at a fearful crisis. Things cannot long remain as they are. It behooves all who love their country -- who have affection for their offspring, or who have any stake in our institutions, to pause and reflect. Confidence is daily withdrawing from the General Government. Alienation is hourly going on. These will necessarily create a state of things inimical to the existence of our institutions, and, if not arrested, convulsions must follow, and then comes dissolution or despotism, when a thick cloud will be thrown over the cause of liberty and the future prospects of our country."

No, not about Barack Obama was the specter of despotism invoked. These words were written against Andrew Jackson in 1834 ("American Lion," p. 277). He was the Democratic president tarred with the word TYRANT in his day, but unlike our current courtly, constrained, and cautious president, Andrew Jackson actually did have a streak of thug in him that bore watching.

Rick Perlstein writes this a.m. that "the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, [when] elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests." Dick Armey, whose FreedomWorks astroturf group is behind much of the orchestrated anger over health-care reform, could not keep from rubbing his hands together this morning and grinning like a cornered possum about the manipulation, though the words that came out of his mouth on Meet the Press were all denial and deflection.

In the early 1950s, Republicans referred to the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as "20 years of treason" and accused the men who led the fight against fascism of deliberately surrendering the free world to communism .... Before the "black helicopters" of the 1990s, there were right-wingers claiming access to secret documents from the 1920s proving that the entire concept of a "civil rights movement" had been hatched in the Soviet Union; when the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act was introduced, one frequently read in the South that it would "enslave" whites.

Perlstein sums up the failure of the mainstream media (not Fox News, obviously, which ain't mainstream): "Conservatives have become adept at playing the media for suckers, getting inside the heads of editors and reporters, haunting them with the thought that maybe they are out-of-touch cosmopolitans and that their duty as tribunes of the people's voices means they should treat Obama's creation of 'death panels' as just another justiciable political claim."

Philip Kennicott, in writing about the transformation of town-hall meetings into rageholic self-help sessions, quotes Alexis de Tocqueville, that "local institutions," such as town meetings, were "to liberty what primary schools are to science" (HT: T.O.). Science, you say? Conservatives are against that too.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Immune to the Lessons of History? 

In December 1832, following the landslide reelection of President Andrew Jackson, the governor of South Carolina appointed himself a military aide-de-camp who was "charged with the duty of raising, inspecting, and granting commissions to volunteer companies" of soldiers -- an armed militia, in other words -- to fight what the governor actually hoped would be a coming war with the United States government. (I've been reading Jon Meacham's new book on the Jackson presidency, "American Lion.") In that long-ago December, the Republic was still young (the Revolution had been fought -- what? -- a mere 50 years prior), and the Civil War was still almost 30 years away, so the Republic was also still naive.

Over 175 years later, the Republic is still full of public dunces willing to spill blood because of allegiance to stupid ideas and towering emotions.

In 1832, South Carolina had been declaring that it had the right to "nullify" any federal law it didn't like. President Jackson thought not. The micro issue at the time was some federal tariff the South didn't like, but its real fear was that the Federal North would take away its right to live comfortably on the backs of thousands of slaves. Although civil war was averted in the 1830s, it would take less than three more decades before that gross Southern inhumanity, and the self-interest of white planters who intended to go on profiting from human bondage into the full bloom of history, would force a settlement of the slavery issue once and for all.

South Carolina claimed the high ground of "states rights," the biggest and most important of those "rights" being the ability to keep other people in chains to grow your food, cook your food, coddle your children, and wash your filthy underwear.

The current presidency of Barack Obama is such a bitter pill for the Old South specifically, and for those possessed of the Old South mentality wherever they live, and even though it was a New Hampshirite who brought the most recent loaded gun to a presidential appearance, we fear that it is a majority of Southerners who are crying "fire" in this crowded theater, denying legitimacy, and making cozy with emotional gun-toters itching to spill blood.

You might take a look at "The Second Wave: Return of the Militias," a special report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Paranoid conspiracy theories ("the Federal government has set up 1,000 internment camps and is storing 30,000 guillotines and a half-million caskets in Atlanta," etc.), hatred of dark-skinned immigrants, 50 new militia training groups, and a mounting number of violent incidents. The proximate (and obvious) cause? The election of a black man to the presidency.
One man "very upset" with the election of America's first black president was building a radioactive "dirty bomb"; another, a Marine, was planning to assassinate Obama, as were two racist skinheads in Tennessee; still another angry at the election and said to be interested in joining a militia killed two sheriff's deputies in Florida. A man in Pittsburgh who feared Jews and gun confiscation murdered three police officers. Near Boston, a white man angered by the alleged "genocide" of his race shot to death two African immigrants and intended to murder as many Jews as possible. An 88-year-old neo-Nazi killed a guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. And an abortion physician in Kansas was murdered by a man steeped in the ideology of the "sovereign citizen" movement.

I had an e-mail last night from another student of history (actually a retired professor of history), who closed this way: "The racism behind the anger at Obama's victory will be around a long time, I fear. And, as the white, rural, and southern demographic continues to dwindle, we will see more of this outrage as the measuring stick. Folks who are sensing losing, will go down fighting."

We can pray for calm and reconciliation, but those genes are obviously weak in our bloodlines.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

John F. Kennedy and the New Anti-Christ 

I was 16-going-on-17 during John F. Kennedy's run for the White House in 1960, a member of a Pentecostal church which militantly viewed "the world" as enemy to the good, while all my high school friends were Southern Baptists. The father of one of those friends passed a printed pamphlet to my father, who gave it to me: "The Catholic Menace." I began to read about the dangers our beloved country was in should the Catholic Kennedy lie his way into the presidency. The hairs were standing up on the back of my neck by the time I finished. I was haunted by images of what Catholics did to Protestants (back when they did things to Protestants, whenever that was, as deliciously detailed in Fox’s Book of Martyrs). I knew that I had to do something to keep the Pope from taking over our government.

What I could do as a teenager was talk, a little wild-eyed, to my classmates, who couldn't vote, and to my extended family, many of whom never bothered to vote. That year, despite all the crazy talk by adults who could and did vote for Richard M. Nixon, Texas went for Kennedy and in January 1961 cast its 24 electoral votes for JFK.

That was the same year, 1961, that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu. Obama is now the target of the 21st century equivalent of nasty little printed pamphlets, that is, The Forwarded E-Mail, the most virulent recent one claiming that the president is actually the antichrist. Some of the more determined promoters of these vicious fictions are going on YouTube, like this guy, who, when he gets tired of misrepresenting Christianity as a paranoid's last resort, could have a great career as a twister of balloons into party animals.

The Republican Party is not only hanging out with these people. These people are the base of the Republican Party, they define it. In the absence of any visible party leadership, they're calling the shots, and it's the rare Republican politician willing to stand up and say "You people are plu-perfect cra-zee and have nothing to do with me."

I raise this connection between the paranoia of the super-religious in the 1960s and the paranoia of the super-religious in 2009 as a melancholy memory, since some lunatic managed to kill Kennedy. Some lunatic, fueled by the evil reverends in our midst today, will puff themselves up with the egotism of their own righteousness and attempt to kill Barack Obama. They're certainly capable of murder, and worse. They shot a doctor in the head in his own church in Omaha.

Beware of the righteous on a mission from God. No group should fear them more than the contemporary Republican Party, whose hands will not easily come clean of that blood.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What Senators Dodd & Hagan Have in Common (Other Than Uncommonly Good Health Insurance) 

Both senators are receiving really marvelous mega-$$ support from Big Pharma, the drug industry's lobbying arm (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA for short). According to today's NYTimes, Dodd...
has not only benefited from the hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertisement courtesy of the pharmaceutical industry and Families U.S.A., a health-care advocacy group the industry teamed up with. But a few weeks ago, Mr. Dodd attended a $1,500-a-plate campaign fund-raiser sponsored by lobbyists representing U.S. Oncology, a provider of cancer drugs and services.

Dodd chairs the key health committee in the Senate that has already written its version of health-care reform, a bill which contains a public option.

Kay Hagan sits on this committee. She's received the same fawning support from PhRMA, with TV ads the group has paid for in N.C. praising her.

Doesn't make us feel any better about our chances, when the chips are finally down, of getting a consumer-friendly vote out of either senator.

We all knew that Congress was being bought & paid for by Big Business well before the reform of insurance industry practices was a gleam in Barack Obama's eye. They've bought key members of both parties. Sen. Dick Burr was schmoozing the same creeps last night. Ordinary working-class citizens can't get into such meetings. They're for the Big Boys only, and for the politicians they buy. Like, say, the effing Blue Dog Democrats.

We deserve this sorry state of affairs if we put up with this sorry state of affairs. I'm about past the point where I'm willing to put up with it, especially from elected representatives I might have considered philosophical allies.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

We had our doubts about the veracity of this photograph, but we're beginning to believe it's not a PhotoShopped composite. Someone pointed us to it in an eBay listing, which, if you don't hurry, may not be there when you get around to looking, since it's a "buy it now."

From the eBay listing, here's the discussion leading up to this photo:
According to New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza, "Before [Obama] went off [to Harvard], he said to some of his community-organizing buddies he needed that credential, that Harvard Law degree, to access the corridors of power and to have that credential because he wasn't going to get that as a community organizer in Chicago." Yet once there, classmates didn't remember him as especially interested in politics. That changed in February, 1990 when he was elected as the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. But perhaps an equally defining, and less recognized moment in Obama's political awakening was watching Gantt's campaign unfold that year as he challenged Helms in the most high-profile U.S. Senate campaign of 1990.

Barack Obama, at his fellow HLS student Bradford Berenson's apartment, where he watched the 1990 mid-term election returns. (New York Times)

What's somewhat confusing is that this photo clearly shows the 1990-vintage Harvey Gantt campaign T-shirt, while the eBay listing is clearly for a 1996 campaign poster of Gantt's second run against Jesse Helms.

Ah, the memories!

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Monday, April 13, 2009

More Foxx Bilge 

One of Madam Virginia Foxx's favorite myths is that North Carolina has the highest corporate taxes "in the Southeast." She repeated the lie to the Jefferson Post last week.

Actually, researchers at the Big 8 accounting firm of Ernst & Young reported in February that North Carolina has the LOWEST business tax burden in the U.S. According to the report total state and local taxes paid by businesses in North Carolina consume fully 3.6% of the Gross State Product. That is the LOWEST percentage of any state in the country. (Discussion & links here)

And, oh yeah, there's nothing good about President Obama's economic policies, and nothing he is trying will work.

Sez the woman who's been judged harmful to children.

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No, the Other ASU 

Thanks to Bro Doc for pointing us to this item about Arizona State University's decision not to award President Obama an honorary degree when he speaks at the university's commencement ceremonies next month, because "his body of work is yet to come."

According to an editorial which promptly appeared in the East Valley Tribune, a local Phoenix paper, ASU has a curious mote in its eye about the unworthiness of the president, since the university felt obliged to give Barry Goldwater his honorary degree in May 1961, "three years before his Republican nomination for president and only eight years into his three decades as a U.S. senator. Sandra Day O'Connor was similarly recognized just three years into her 25 years on the U.S. Supreme Court."

Not that ANY honorary degree from ANY of our high-falutin' institutions of academia will get you a discount on a quadruple skinny latte in any coffee house in the land. Apparently, it's the principle of the thing.

At least the Guardians of Honor Worthiness at ASU did not deem the president unfit to be around children, unlike the Mount Airy Times in its assessment of Madam Virginia Foxx.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Kay Hagan's Gut 

Kay Hagan's Declaration of Independence last week (as quoted by the N&O): "I'm Kay Hagan, and I vote the way I think people in North Carolina would want. But more than that, I vote according to my gut."

Prior to that, her gut was telling her to sound perhaps a little more abrupt than absolutely necessary. She told an audience of journalists at Elon that President Obama's deficit spending, as projected by the Congressional Budget Office, was "completely unsustainable and unacceptable."

We don't think that was the way the people in North Carolina would want her to speak and act. We think that was the way Sen. Evan Bayh, self-anointed leader of the Senate Blue Dogs, wanted her to speak and act.

And after all that in-yer-face-Obama talk, Hagan voted yes on final passage of the Senate version of Obama's "unsustainable and unacceptable" budget. In fact, and according to the N&O's reckoning, Hagan has voted yes on every major Obama initiative so far.

Such Evan-Bayh-courting on the one hand, and such voting on the other, might tend over time to convince some of the voters that you're basically a trifling politician.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Tony di Santi Advising Hagan 

Kay Hagan's high-profile advisory group for recommending presidential appointments to the federal bench in N.C. includes Watauga County attorney Tony di Santi of Blowing Rock.

Hagan's advisory group will make recommendations for appointments to vacancies among U.S. attorneys (N.C. has three), federal judgeships, and members of the Fourth Circuit of Appeals. Hagan will funnel her recommendations to President Obama, who will make the ultimate decisions for appointment. Appointments have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

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I've found myself clenching up repeatedly since January 20th, wondering if this or that move by President Obama, this or that statement, this or that appointment to the cabinet, will be the ten-penny nail that seals his coffin and destroys his presidency. Sometimes I feel like frost-heaved soil, alternately thawing with the election and the Inauguration, and then freezing up again at the sight of too many Wall Street Boys in the Obama administration or too many fainting goats among the Democrats in Congress.

I'm tired of winter. I'm tired of fear. I've decided to relax and enjoy the Obama administration.

A smart man in the White House! A calm man. A thoughtful man. A man who can demand that the CEO of General Motors clean out his desk for abysmal performance, and the CEO of General Motors cleans out his desk! A man who is respected and even loved abroad, instead of a wince-inducing buffoon who bullied and blustered and proved on a daily basis that he was in way over his head. (Every time Fox News plays nostalgic TV footage of their hero, George W. Bush, Obama's ratings just go higher.)

And about those approval ratings. The newest polling shows that "the number of Americans who believe that the nation is headed in the right direction has roughly tripled since Barack Obama's election," and the American public actually seems to understand who was responsible for the economic meltdown (it ain't Obama). Despite the universal ululating of the Lilliputian Right, the Limbaugh-ettes who scream "socialism," the Dick Cheneys who intimate that our president is essentially a traitor, the Congressional Republicans who look increasingly like the flying monkeys who served the Wicked Witch of the West ... our president has the people solidly behind him and behind his agenda to change the policies of the last president.

I'm through holding my breath every time the cable-talkers tell me that Obama's presidency has failed because there's a chance that Wall Street or even Main Street is unhappy ("Morning Joe," I'm looking in your general direction). The special election yesterday in the NY-20 to fill the congressional seat vacated by Kirsten Gillibrand is, if anything and even though it isn't decided, proof that people in that Republican-leaning New York district are NOT willing to push back against the Obama administration.

If the American people cared what Congressional Republicans had to say, we would have a different situation on our hands. But the American people don't care what Congressional Republican have to say, aren't listening to them, and the more John Boehner and Mike Pence put both hands on their hips and stamp their feet, the more the American people can't stand the sight of them. (Congresswoman Virginia Foxx is now crying on cue as often as Glenn Beck, and with the same evident purpose of proving how superior her patriotism is to any Democrat's. No one cares.) We don't see any indication yet that the vast public is willing to run back into the baleful embrace of the same political/economic philosophy that landed us in this awful soup.

So I'm through with fear, through with holding my breath, through with jumping at the sound of squeaking hinges. I'm going to enjoy this moment in American history.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'll be back at my worry-beads before the sun goes down on the daffodils.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hagan Ramps Up Her Opposition to the President 

Kay-o, feeling her oats at Elon.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pauleroids Live! 

Intercepted e-mail, from the Ron Paul remnant on the ASU Campus (and all hail, student action!):
From: appliberty
Date: Sun, Mar 22, 2009 at 7:48 PM
Subject: Action Item

Hello members of political action clubs,

This is an announcement of an event taking place on April 15th, 2009 (Tax Day). Various people with differing opinions have at least one thing in common: they don't like the direction our country is going in. Whether it is the bailouts, the ballooning national debt, the dollar crisis, the encroachment of the federal government on individual liberties, the failure to hold the Bush and Obama administrations accountable, increasing taxes, the deployment of troops on American soil, or the failure of our government to represent the people's interests, we can all agree that there are huge problems with our nation's current trajectory.

So "We the People" have an option to legally and effectively make our voices heard. We will do this by striking at the real power structure of the current system, economic dominance by fiat money, financiers, and the wage system.

Here is the plan. On April 15th, all participants will do at least one (hopefully all) of the following:

1) Refuse to go to work.

2) Refuse to go to class.

3) Do not buy anything.

4) Withdraw all your money from the bank and keep it withdrawn for a couple of days.

5) Send a tea bag to your representatives in government, from the highest to the lowest. They will get the message.

6) Wear a white armband or wristband on you right arm to show that you are participating.

Two thousand years ago, a Roman Senator suggested that all slaves wear white armbands to better identify them. "No," said a wiser Senator, "if they see how many of them there are, they may revolt."

Members of our club will be participating, and it would be great to see people from all different political and social backgrounds coming together, despite their differences, to bring the message to the government that "We the People" are not happy and that the ultimate power over the course of our nation belongs to us.

--The ASU Campaign for Liberty

I'm down with taking it to the streets. If we can agree on who's responsible for this fine kettle of fish. The ASU Campaign for Liberty uses a curious choice of words to describe "the enemy" in the memo above -- "fiat money, financiers, and the wage system." Well now, I'm totally ready to burn those guys at the stake!

Fiat money. I don't think they're talking about a certain Italian automobile company, but who they mean, we dunno.

Whoever they mean by "fiat money" specficially, they're talking against Obama generally, because he's not Ron Paul, and therefore he's the proximate cause of everything that's just wrong. Sorry, but I can't go there. The ASU Campaign for Liberty doesn't like the president, and I do, although I care a good deal less for the Wall Street dudes the president's hired to advise him. Getting him unstuck from those particular men-in-suits may be difficult, though protests like this might help. Who knows? Might not, too. Because this particular call to arms seems a trifle ... blunt-edged, if you know what I mean. "Burn the whole place down" has never much appealed to me as a tactic, even back in the 1960s when, indeed, they were burning the whole place down. Didn't much work then, either.

The line that might give the ASU Young Republicans some pause, prior to buying in to this protest against Obama: "the failure to hold the Bush and Obama administrations accountable." "Bush and Obama"? That's a lopsided formulation if there ever was one, since Bush had eight years to be held accountable for, and Obama, a few weeks, but the ASU Liberty Fighters have balanced the two presidents as pure equals in evil in that particular sentence. And that's a problem, dudes, if you're really looking for bipartisan involvement in your protest.

First you slap a Republican ("prosecute Bush"), and then you hug a Republican with that mention of sending a tea bag to our public officials. That tea bag gesture is a pure piece of grand larceny from the conservative Republican playbook. The only federal Rep. we have is Virginia Foxx, and she's not going to like getting a bunch of tea bags.

There's just one other phrase in the call to action that has me a little concerned: "the deployment of troops on American soil." Uh, where? Are we talking Green Beret assault on the Ron Paul compound in Texas, or just some National Guard action in the flood zone in South Dakota? That's a phrase that can't just be allowed to slip by unquestioned.

Whatever. Have a productive Tax Day, and we hope your employers are liberals.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Tweet Charity 

Kevin Bondelli, who blogs on the youth vote at, cross-posted on BlueNC yesterday a tweet he noticed on the Western NC GOP twitter page:
So, this is why the youth vote went to Obama ... because they're a bunch of easily led, useful idiots. Makes sense.

Ah yes, contempt of the young springs perennial in many Republican circles, particularly in western North Carolina where there's a major university.

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Michelle's Green Thumb 

It's the First Day of Spring, so what could be more appropriate for the season than hearing Michelle Obama announce that she's digging up the White House lawn for a vegetable garden!

We likes us some veggie symbolism!

It'll help keep the president grounded. Get it? Grounded.

And no greater training for government than seeding, weeding, thinning, transplanting, pruning, harvesting, composting. What could be apter for focusing the presidential mind?

Plus you get to eat the proceeds.

We applaud.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Who's Flying This Plane? 

Well now! David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, and (last we heard) Respected Conservative Pundit, had this to say on Monday about "the duel" currently entertaining the public:
On the one side, the president of the United States: soft-spoken and conciliatory, never angry, always invoking the recession and its victims. This president invokes the language of "responsibility," and in his own life seems to epitomize that ideal: He is physically honed and disciplined, his worst vice an occasional cigarette. He is at the same time an apparently devoted husband and father. Unsurprisingly, women voters trust and admire him.

And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as "losers." With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence -- exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we're cooperating!

Frum writes ('pears to us) more in sadness than in anger, but the characterization of The Man in Black seems much more a zinger (and from Limbaugh's own section in the bleachers) than any of the stuff Michael Steele intimated and about which Limbaugh unleashed the full BTUs of his scorn.

David Frum (bless his heart) is showing fellow Republicans how to get their testicles out of hock.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Tennessee Poll: We Like Obama, We Don't Like Obstructionist Republicans 

Students in the College of Mass Communications at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro polled 629 randomly selected residents of the state and found that, even though Tennessee gave its electoral votes to John McCain/PomPom Palin, some 53 percent of those polled said they approve of President Obama's job performance, while only 24 percent say that Republicans are doing enough to compromise with the president.

The polling sample breakdown is pretty interesting, especially if you're suspicious that the MTSU students over-weighted for age, gender, or race:
Those polled were 50% male, 50% female

White 84.7%
Black 10.4%
Other 4.9%

18-34 ... 29.8%
35-49 ... 28.8%
50-64 ... 24.4%
65+ ... 17%

Three-fourths of those polled said they'd heard at least one racial joke about Obama, while almost 1 in 6 admitted telling such a joke. But some 57% in the poll (the great majority of whom were white) said they considered such jokes unfunny.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

The Man in Black 

Rush Limbaugh addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Saturday as its closing act. Both C-SPAN and Fox carried the speech live. Limbaugh bragged early on in his remarks that he didn't need a teleprompter because he could speak endlessly without notes. He very nearly did speak endlessly. He went a full hour over his allotted time, proving that he did need a teleprompter. I did not see the speech live, but I've put my time in to watch it since, and more importantly, I've read the full transcript on the Fox News site. And here's the real news:

Rush Limbaugh's speech at CPAC was as big a trainwreck as Bobby Jindal's response to President Obama's speech to Congress.

Didn't use a teleprompter, because he didn't have a coherent speech with a logical argument to give. Instead, he offered an incoherent ramble, stuffed with off-hand (and standard) insults, plus anecdotes that went nowhere in particular -- all ultimately very revealing, though unintentionally so, like a slow-motion mental monologue on a psychiatrist's sofa. It takes a fairly large, random slice of the transcript to illustrate the (actually meaningful) mess:
Somebody says they want something that's bad for them, do you give it to them just to be nice? Or do you tell them, regardless of their age, no, you shouldn't have that? Well, it's none of your business. Maybe not. And then you back out of it. But you still have to have the ability to tell people what's right and wrong. And that's not authoritative. That's not authoritarian. And it's not trying to deny somebody a good time. It's not trying to interrupt somebody's hedonism, pleasure, it's about all of us with shared values trying to make sure that people live the highest quality lives they can. Ultimately, it's their decision as to what they do. But the point is, don't treat them -- especially voters -- as kids just -- they say they want it okay we'll come up with a plan to give it to you. Have any of you seen the movie -- I'd never heard of it, but I happened to get a DVD the other day. Anybody see the movie Swing Vote with Kevin Costner? You know, it's kind of a moronic movie like most things out of Hollywood are....

Strange that this famous man with a famous drug problem would have wandered off into these tall weeds about other people's "hedonism" and "pleasure," and then revealed that his social life is so pathetic that he's watching "moronic" movies in that 50,000-square-foot lonely, empty mansion of his.

What ultimately comes through the almost endless stumbling parade of this "speech," like a flashlight left burning in a corncrib, is Limbaugh's self-loathing, the irresistible desire to reveal his neediness for constant validation. The actual inanity of his speech, his inability to made a coherent argument, actually caused him to break out with a good case of flop-sweat, and he referred to it: "For those of you watching at home, I'm not nervous it's just really hot in here." It's his self-loathing, not the slings and arrows of outrageous lib'ruls, against which he must assert his superiority over and over again.

Because he was being broadcast live by Fox News, Limbaugh referred no less than ten times to his "first address to the nation," and it might be natural to write that off to a pomposity that can't see its own toes. But we see it as an inferiority complex fighting to bluff its way into polite company. Self-loathing that's learned to over-compensate with braggadocio.

Because buried waaay down in the transcript (and it seems like Hour Three of the speech), Limbaugh finally got to the thing itself, the source of his most recent humiliation and proof that his self-loathing is fully justified ... the fact that he wasn't even invited to the summit dinner of conservative intellectuals at George Will's when Barack Obama was the guest of honor. Again, to fully appreciate Limbaugh's own psychosis of inadequacy masquerading as egotism, we must quote this passage at length:
This is a funny story. Show you how I can hijack a news cycle even by doing anything [sic]. The Tuesday before the inauguration, President Bush invited me to the Oval Office for lunch. And it was on and off the record, some of the conversations. And he brought out, interesting, at the end of it -- my birthday had been the day before. He brought out a chocolate birthday cake, a microphone, and stood beside me with Ed Gillespie and sang happy birthday. Photographers taking pictures. I wish my parents were alive. My parents wouldn't believe my life. They came out of the Great Depression. They didn't think it was possible for somebody who did not go to college -- and even for people who did -- they didn't think this was possible. Life has changed so much for the better in this country.

.... So as I'm flying home from lunch, I'm watching television and I see that the word has leaked out that Obama is hosting a dinner with conservative media pundits at the home of George Will. I said: I wonder who these people are? [Laughter] In the media, one of them is going to have to leak it. Sure as heck, one did. Now, we all know who were there. And let's see -- I can't remember all the names, so I won't mention any. But let me tell you Obama's purpose. Does anybody really think that Barack Obama had dinner with a bunch of conservatives hoping they would change his mind?


RUSH: Hell, no. His purpose -- and his purpose really wasn't to change theirs -- his purpose was to anoint them as conservative spokesmen. These are the people that Obama's willing to break bread with. These happen -- some of the people there happen to be the people who think the era of Reagan is over, who believe that conservatism needs to be redefined. Of course Obama would try to lure them in. Well, all of a sudden I land. I get home about 5:00, and my e-mail is jammed with questions from reporters, are you, is that why you took the day off today? Is that why you're not on the air? Are you going to dinner with Obama? By the way, I left out a crucial part of the story. Was this a Monday, Kit? It was a Tuesday. I had forgotten to tell my audience that I was going to miss the next day. I signed off the show saying I'll see you tomorrow. That's the last thing I said. The staff reminded me you're not going to be here tomorrow. I came up with a plan, that the guest host the next day would say that I was called out of town to Washington at midnight the night before. Just an innocent little trick on the radio audience. Everybody picked that up and thinks I'm invited to the Obama dinner. So those people that were invited to it got less coverage than I did and I didn't even know about it. [Laughter] It was fun. [Applause]

Conservatives are naturally happy.

It would take a psychological dissertation to fully unpack the insecurities of that wholly inadvertent confession, the feelings of inadequacy and resentment displaying themselves as a full peacock strut, the little fat wad not picked by the poplar kids for the stickball team, and the apparently perfect revenge of (supposedly) stealing their moment of fame for himself, and then the crashing ironies of that last line ... "Conservatives are naturally happy" (especially when someone else can be imagined as perfectly miserable).

If one thing comes through Limbaugh's interminable monologue on the CPAC couch, it's this: "I'm an unhappy human being."

We want to congratulate the Republican Party for making this guy your national spokesman.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Callousness of Virginia Foxx 

If you want to see Virginia Foxx's true feelings about the people in her Fifth District who are losing their homes to foreclosure, you can go here and watch what she said Thursday in floor debate over H.R. 1106, "Helping Families Save Their Homes Act."

Citing no evidence for her sweeping condemnation of the deadbeats in foreclosure, Madam Foxx said that "most of these people never expected to pay the loans back." She came very close to calling them "welfare queens" and did say they are infected with "the welfare mentality."

Great tack, this! Rick Santelli got famous overnight by calling the people getting kicked out of their homes "losers," a word that was so clearly on the tip of Madam Foxx's thick tongue.

Meanwhile, we applaud these conservative clowns for sticking to these particular guns, while recent polling shows that 61 percent of Americans approve of Obama's mortgage refinancing plan, about the same number that were approving of President Obama generally, even before he gave his speech to the joint session of Congress (after which his approval rating jumped to 80 percent).

Public's approval of Madam Foxx? Not so much.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Virginia Foxx 

Screwing her puss up into that perpetual scowl of the Right-Wing Republican Beset by a Democratic President, Virginia Foxx clicks her tongue in advance of President Obama's speech tonight:
...she hopes that Obama will avoid such words as "crisis" or "catastrophe" when talking about the state of the economy.

"We keep hearing it's a catastrophe, a crisis, it's all negative. I fear that his continual talking down of the economy down is really doing damage, because people won't spend. They're scared to," she said.

Because, ya see, the downness of the economy is all a function of Democrats talking about the reality of the economy. It's just that simple. There's no history to consider here, nothing to remember about the Republican administration of the last eight years. Just President Obama saying those dangerous, hateful, totally consequential words.

Madam Foxx was one with the Bush administration in denying that any problems even existed, as the Republicans deregulated us into this current house of cards. Then when she and her fellow foxes could no longer deny the obvious, her solution was to do nothing. Absolutely nothing. She'd offer to pray for us. She'd use her right knee for Catholic prayers and her left for Baptist ones. What she would NOT do was use her vote for anything remotely helpful to the struggling citizens of the Fifth District.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Runaway Bride 

Sen. Judd Gregg is sorta the Tom Daschle of the Republican Party ... melting down when the heat's on.

They say he's been hammered relentlessly as a traitor by fellow Republicans.

They say he himself sought the office.

"I said yes. That was my mistake," said Gregg. Maybe Rush Limbaugh told him the wedding was off.

We find ourselves agreeing with Kos: Why not appoint an effing Democrat?

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We don't know if Noam Scheiber is correct in his analysis, but we can always hope:
For weeks now, Obama has soared above the fray -- inviting dour-looking Republicans to the White House for cookies and patiently hearing them out on Capitol Hill. Once again, the Republicans have exploited this stance, notching a series of tactical victories, like their unanimous no-vote in the House last week. And, once again, liberals have panicked .... But complaints ... miss what's been accomplished these last few weeks: Obama has completely defined the stimulus narrative on his own terms. To the average voter, Obama has been earnest and conciliatory while the Republicans have been cynical, self-serving, and puerile. Which, if the past is any guide, is precisely the moment he'll start playing hardball.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Daschle Won't Be Missed 

Sen. Tom Daschle spent ten years as the leader of Senate Democrats. We thought he was a mighty ineffective leader. He was repeatedly rolled by his Republican counterpart, and by El Presidente (remember him?). Some time early in this decade I found myself writing a letter to every other Democratic senator, begging them to put someone in as their leader who would STAND UP AND FIGHT.

Daschle's withdrawal yesterday as President Obama's nominee for Health & Human Services secretary is perfectly representative of the man's instincts ... never mind his tax liabilities, which were serious enough.

The upside is that President Obama is taking the blame for the vetting process. When's the last time you heard an American president say, "My fault"?

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Mummy Party 

We were on the road to Raleigh (and beyond) when the House voted on the stimulus package and didn't get any state papers into our hands until this a.m. We were not at all surprised that NOT ONE SINGLE Republican voted with the president nor that 11 Blue Dogs jumped off the porch and went hunting with a strange pack of flea-eaten hound dogs.

Eventually, we figger, President Obama's gonna learn who he's dealing with.

Le'ssee here ... the American people rejected Republican economic policies in both 2006 and 2008, wrapped up that whole philosophy in surgical bandages and buried the whole shebang in a deep crypt, yet the Republican remnant in the U.S. House (along with those bright Blue Dogs) are stubborn in demanding that the president and the rest of us just lie back and accept more Bushian economics ... more tax cuts for the rich, more enabling of corporate robber barons, more deregulation, and unless we accept a continuation of what they've been doing since 2001, and accelerate it, they're not going to cooperate. Big freakin' surprise!

This a.m., Madam Virginia Foxx is quoted in the Raleigh N&O. Foxx is busily rewriting history and twisting logic out of all recognizable shape. She says that "President George Bush's signature tax cuts in 2001 had spawned years of growth, but the nation's problems started when Democrats regained majorities in Congress in the 2006 elections." With this abysmal representative, it's always the Democrats' fault, and the year is ALWAYS 1929.

We guessed (before we could confirm it) that Heath Shuler (NC 11) was one of those 11 Blue Dog Democrats, and he was. Even Mike McIntyre (NC 7), one of the most dependably Republican of "Democratic" representatives, voted with President Obama. Shuler, evidently, likes hanging with the Foxx.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No Honeymoon for Virginia Foxx 

NC-5 Rep. Virginia Foxx, critiquing President Obama's Inaugural address:
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th, said she thought that Obama was "too negative" in his assessment of the economy in his inaugural address.

Foxx said she is sympathetic with those who have lost their jobs in the current downturn, but said she thinks that the current problem is "not the worst situation we've faced in this country economically since the Great Depression," citing the stagflation of the 1970s.

"I think it's possible to talk down about the economy to the point that it hampers the economy," Foxx said in an interview. "Yes, we have problems, and I'm quite familiar with them, but we don't solve our problems by being negative."

Apparently, we'll solve our problems by being relentlessly ideological.

Well, at least she's finally acknowledging that "we have problems," though she's clearly prepared to start blaming them all on President Obama for being too negative in his assessment.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For 

I, Too, Sing America

by Langston Hughes
I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

Hat tip for the reminder: Eugene H. Robinson

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Monday, January 19, 2009

With Language as a Tool 

The book that Barack Obama is carrying in this photograph is Fareed Zakaria's "The Post-American World." That Obama is a deep reader of many texts is on fascinating display in Michiko Kakutani's analysis of the man's immersion in language in today's NYTimes.

He knows his native tongue as a means for thinking through complex problems, as a tool for lifting the spirits, as a pry-bar for opening up the puzzling ambiguities of human beings. It's his immersion in language that allows him to reach those who want to hate him.

And won't it be something to have a president who speaks and writes with precision and insight and who is NOT a victim of grammar and logic and syntax?


An Inaugural Prayer 

The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, at the opening inaugural event at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., January 18, 2009 (HT:J.E.):
O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will...

Bless us with tears -- for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger -- at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort -- at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience -- and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility -- open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance -- replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity -- remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand -- that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Conservative Columnists Host Muslim Socialist and Get Cooties 

Look who came to dinner at George Will's place!

With a whole host of conservative bloviators passing the mashed potatoes: William Kristol, David Brooks, Charles Krauthammer, Larry Kudlow, Peggy Noonan, Rich Lowry, Michael Barone, Paul Gigot, and others yet to be ratted out.

Go to any right-wing website and read the reactions, for example, this one. You'd get the impression that George Will shared Obama's prayer rug.

Reacting to screams of "traitor" on the right, Charles Krauthammer joked: "And I'm here to tell you that, speaking for myself, [Obama] has succeeded. I am brainwashed entirely. I'm in the tank, and I am a believer of hope and change and, above all, audacity."

Rush Limbaugh's feelings were hurt because he wasn't invited.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

In Raleigh on Monday, NC Electoral College member Tim Futrelle of Watauga County signs one of six copies of the official ballot that gave 15 electoral votes to Barack Obama.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Condoleezza Rice Voted for Obama 

Ain't it painfully obvious?

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I'm no fan of Joe "Droopy-Dog" Lieberman, and my disdain for him goes back a few moons beyond the time he jumped the Democratic ship and started campaigning -- hard -- against Barack Obama. I remember his blue-nosed, holier-than-thou scolding of Bill Clinton as the precise moment I began to hate the sound of his voice.

But when I began also to read the drum-beat among Democratic activists for a Lieberman auto-da-fe following the Nov. 4th election -- the demands that he be thrown out of his Senate chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee, etc. -- I thought (and still think), Gee, Barack might be needing his vote in the Republican filibusters to come. Despite Lieberman's appetites for Middle-East war-mongering, he's otherwise been a pretty dependable vote for Democratic initiatives.

I've been getting an earful in my own household about that wholly despicable, lower-than-pond-scum Lieberman, and then yesterday, when the Senate Democrats refrained from burning him at the stake, a whole new earful about that wholly despicable, lower-than-pond-scum bunch of Democratic senators for refusing to exact revenge against the traitor.

I have taken and continue to take a different view and am frankly surprised that the people who've most diligently bent my ear about Lieberman don't realize that ... it's just politics. But different now. It's Obama politics.

He said -- promised -- he was going to change the tone in Washington, the way stuff gets done. He said -- promised -- he was going to unify the country. It was Obama, not the Democratic senators, who gave Lieberman his reprieve from the death sentence. It was Obama whose name and reputation Lieberman attacked, and it was Obama who forgave him. It's not my place to insist on a public stoning of the heretic who's already been forgiven by the wronged party.

I think Obama's handling of Lieberman is ... cool, in so many senses of that word, maybe precisely because it goes against my own much hotter thirst for vengeance (in the final analysis, I discover I don't want a president who thinks exactly as I do). It's cool because it neutralizes Lieberman, who now owes Obama for his continued committee assignments. It's cool because it forestalls a sore point that the Republicans in the Senate were itching to massage.

All the froth -- and threats -- coming from certain quarters of Left Blogistan strike me as utterly predictable and totally wrong-headed. My mother used to call that sort of self-lacerating tantrum "Cutting off your nose to spite your face."

I'm not swayed, either, by the predictions that Lieberman has been given license to betray again, that he's like the German soldier spared execution in "Saving Private Ryan" only to come back and murder members of Tom Hanks's squad at the end of the movie. I think it more likely that Lieberman's near-death experience will make him more like George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life," allowed to return to home and hearth after getting a vision of what life would have been like if he'd never been born.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

The Man Who Won North Carolina 

Marc Farinella, Obama's man in North Carolina, is profiled in today's N&O.

This is the man who got Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan re-elected in 2000 weeks after he died in a plane crash. The dead Carnahan was running against John Ashcroft, who now has it on his permanent wiki profile: "lost an election to a dead man."

" interesting character .... incredibly disciplined .... fastidious about detail ... also endearing and inspires loyalty...."

"Farinella was already tied into the state's Democratic organization. He had worked as a strategist for Erskine Bowles' unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign in 2002 and Perdue's re-election campaign for lieutenant governor in 2004."

Apparently, ex-Gov. Jim Hunt tried to talk Farinella into moving permanently to NC, since his wife has family here.

About the Obama win, Farinella said, "It will change politics in the way we campaign for the foreseeable future."

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Friday, November 14, 2008

First We Check Your Vote and Then We Give Communion 

South Carolina Catholic priest advises parishioners not to take communion if they voted for Obama, because supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ladies & Gents: The GOP of 2009! 

We can relate to the flummoxing loss the national Republican Party has gone through. Been there.

We are reading the prescriptions for healing itself with great interest, put out by many voices, the most compelling of them conservative insiders who think for a living. The choice seems to be to renew from the ground up, find a way (or just new language) to make conservatism appealing to a broader cross-segment, particularly independent voters who don't fancy fear-mongering and puritanical attacks on personal behavior.

Or ... they could double-down on fear-mongering and puritanical attacks on personal behavior and become even more a minor regional party headquartered in the Old South.

Georgia Republican Congressman Paul Broun has announced his choice. It's the latter:
"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, [Obama]'s the one who proposed this national security force. I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism .... That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist .... We can't be lulled into complacency. You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential."

It may sound a bit crazy. Check.

"Radical socialism or Marxism," which may be identical to fascism, or maybe not -- we're looking into it -- but when you're making Mulligan stew, you throw in a lot of ingredients and hope they cook together. Check.

Mr. Broun is NOT comparing Obama to the person he just compared him to. Check.

Now here's a political party that is maybe becoming a tad over-caffeinated, something we're sure Sarah Palin would absolutely love to head-up. You betcha!

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Watauga, Jackson & Buncombe -- Oh My! 

Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Joel Burgess takes an extended look this a.m. at why three lone North Carolina counties in the western mountains went for Obama, while all around them was red hot for McCain/Palin. Answer: young voters. All three counties contain a major state university.

Didn't your mother always warn you that a little larnin' was a dangerous thing?

Interesting factoids:
Of the Democratic-leaning counties, Watauga has the largest percentage of 18- to 25-year-old voters — 31.3 percent. Jackson is next with 15.4 percent, then Swain with 12.7 percent and Buncombe with 11.6 percent. Obama won all but Swain by differences as large as 57-43 percent.

We got us a new Generation Gap, folks!

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

'Emanuel' Means 'God With Us' 

I can applaud the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as the President-elect's chief of staff because it's evidence of Obama's executive skill. You get the meanest sumbitch you know to make sure the trains run on time. It's not that you necessarily WANT the meanest sumbitch (that's just icing on the cake, far as I'm concerned); it's because Emanuel has a proven track record of getting stuff done.

But we haven't forgotten how wrong Rahm Emanuel was back in the spring of 2006 when he got into a shouting match with Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean over how best to run the fall races that year. The meanest sumbitch in the Democratic Congressional caucus met his match in Howard Dean, who had taken over the DNC in 2005 with the express intention of launching a 50-state strategy.

Dean was right. Emanuel was wrong. Dean, in fact, deserves no small credit for what just happened last Tuesday. Without Howard Dean's change of direction from the Clinton-era tactic of triangulation and targeted spending (a.k.a., giving up on over half the land-mass of North America), Barack Obama would never have won North Carolina. Nor probably Virginia. Nor Indiana. I won't go on, though I could.

We have no quarrel with Emanuel's hard-nosed effectiveness and don't even blame him for flaming out with Dean over a difference of opinion. We're just glad he's going to be in the White House to take orders from Obama. Someone said on TV last night that Obama seems to be a "born executive leader," and having a dependable hit-man is what every born executive needs for Christmas.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Of the hundreds of photographs I've seen today, this one haunts my memory like no other ... for capturing what might otherwise be an inexpressible moment in American history.

This is Carolyn Hinkgaines, 61, of Chicago. She's a letter-carrier and got an offer to be a guest at the victory rally from a ticket-holder on her mail route who has become a friend. Photo in the Chicago Tribune by E. Jason Wambsgans.


That One 

I was not emotional last night, even surrounded by 400+ delirious people at the Dragonfly Theater. What a crowd. What a diverse crowd.

I didn't begin to allow the emotion to well up until we were home and watched Barack give his acceptance speech. It wasn't the speech so much, though that was SOMETHING, but it was the sight of the Obama/Biden extended families taking the stage that caused me to lose it. This morning I've been gazing on the hundreds of still photographs from across the nation last night, and I can't seem to stop crying. (The N&O has some wonderful shots, including pics from Republican HDQs in Raleigh last night, which tell their own story, and the Chicago Tribune has both its own slide shows and reader-submitted photographs galore. You can find many such selections on other sites.)

Nothing (for me, at least) captures the human story of what actually happened in our nation last night like the photographs.

I began this blog five years ago, angry and burdened by the direction our president ... what was his name? ... was taking our country. I'm so thankful to be able to let whatisname go quietly to his dusty sub-basement of American history, and I can shift my burden (comes complete with a well-rubbed strand of worry beads) over to you folks out there who seem to expect, even demand your own personal anti-Christ. Now you can fret and start your own blogs. Here's a title for your first posting: "The Failed Obama Presidency."

It took me several months to come around to thinking that Obama could actually do it, do the impossible, do the unprecedented. Now that he's done it, with solid majorities in both popular and electoral votes (no Supreme Court appointments here, thank you!), I think it unwise for anyone, be it domestic racist or foreign terrorist, to underestimate this man.

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