Well, yours truly has been down for the count all week with the nasty head cold making the rounds in Nashville…so let’s try to wrap things up with our weekly edition of Chaos Theory…
…here’s what I’ve collected over the last five days:
HEALTHCARE – THE DEBATE THAT’S KILLING US SLOWLY:
- Despite the thorough, public debunking of the ridiculous “death panel” claims, and the fact that even the right-wing press outlets aren’t mentioning the conspiracy theory anymore, some politicians may not have received the memo. Representative Pete Olson (R-TX) was holding a recent town hall meeting, and he told the crowd about a girl named “Britney.” The girl’s unborn child was found to have a heart defect…and despite her best efforts she couldn’t find a doctor to treat her baby until she located a remote, out-of-state specialist. Olson goes on to claim…that in any proposed “government-run” system, the baby would have died for lack of treatment. The crowd, who apparently HAD received the memo…and who knew that these types of claims are false and intended only to scare them…proceeded to boo Representative Olson, and shouted, “Oh Jesus Christ, that’s terrible,” and, “That’s not true!“ To these people, Olson nonsensically responded, “For those of you who say it’s not true, don’t talk to me, talk to Britney.” Wait…what?
- Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee…not only didn’t get the “mentioning-death-panels-now-makes-you-look-like-an-idiot” memo, but he also decided that merely repeating a claim that has been proven false…wasn’t quite tacky enough. So Huckabee went on his radio show and suggested that the recently departed Senator Kennedy…would have been urged to “go home to take pain pills and die” under Obama’s reform plan. And we’ll add some more “tackiness points” since Huckabee, just last week, chided Democrats for what he perceived as them using Ted Kennedy’s death to advance the cause of reform. Oh Mike: it’s just as sick to use his name AGAINST reform…especially when you consider health care reform was his LIFELONG goal.
- Generally, I don’t pass on “moving stories that explain the need for Health Care Reform.“ Except, in this case, the story is a lot more “illuminating” than it is “moving,” and it represents yet another deficiency of our current system that most people are not aware of. You probably did know, that nearly 68% of all bankruptcies in America result from medical costs. What you may not know…is that many divorces are also caused by a mixture of financial and medical necessity. Case in point, read this story…it’s actually quite common: husband develops debilitating disease, doctors shock wife by suggesting she immediately get a divorce or she will lose everything, wife consults lawyers who confirm what the doctors are saying, wife has a terrible choice to make…leave her husband or lose all their savings, retirement, and property.
- Interesting: I’m first to admit that I am no expert on taxes. But it is interesting to note, as this columnist does, that while Republicans have been heavily utilizing the “health care reform will urge grandma to die sooner” attack…many past tax bills (sponsored by Republicans, and notably one Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)) have done just that: urged grandma to die sooner. In addition to initiating tax changes that penalize seniors for living longer, Republicans have supported companies that swindled seniors out of their retirement money (they dismiss it as “that’s the way the free market cookie crumbles!”), and they refuse to let more money go into Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research.
- And Jesus Shakes His Head, Woefully: At Congressman Frank Pallone’s (D-NJ) town hall, a woman was attempting to describe her situation…from her wheelchair, she told the congressman that she had “two incurable auto-immune diseases.“ As the woman continued, anti-reform members of the crowd…started heckling her. I’m just guessing that most of these hecklers would call themselves “Christians“…I’m also guessing that Jesus might have a problem with that.
- Most Lopsided Interview This Week: On MSNBC, Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and CNBC’s anchor Maria Bartiromo were on as guests, to discuss Health Care Reform. From early in the interview, it is apparent that Weiner appeared more than a bit better versed on the subject…but the best moment occurred when Bartiromo mocks Weiner’s support of Medicare, snapping, “How come you don’t use it [Medicare]? You don’t have it. How come you don’t have it?“ Representative Weiner…points out that he is only 45, to which Bartiromo lamely retorts, “Yeah, c’mon…“
- Word is now coming out of the White House, via correspondence with Health Care Advocacy groups, that the administration may be abandoning its fight for the public option and several other KEY elements of the reform bill. While some White House insiders seem to support the idea that “some bill, even a bad bill, is better than no bill“…too many people disagree. House Speaker Pelosi has chosen to side with the caucus of Democratic Progressives who are saying that they WILL NOT support a bill that does not include the public option. Representative Weiner has made his own claims, that these compromises represent a failure of leadership on the part of the President…and as some point out, if “change we can believe in” becomes “change we can barely stomach,” Obama could face challenges in the next primaries from Democrats claiming that they would show a bit more backbone if given the majority in both houses of Congress. I think the votes are in: if the majority of the public wants reform and the public option to be a part of that reform, and you control all of Congress, and all the Republican minority promises is dissent…then you really have no excuse for not going to the mat, fighting for the best reform possible.
POLITICIANS BEHAVING BADLY:
- Stand Back, Genius At Work: Robert F. McDonnell is a candidate for Virginia Governor, and in a recent speech, he proudly mentioned his Master’s thesis, which he wrote while attending an evangelical college in Virginia Beach. Apparently…McDonnell didn’t think anyone would bother to look up the thesis in question…but they did. The thesis, which outlines the steps McDonnell suggested the Republican Party should take to “protect” families…says that feminists and working women are “detrimental” to families, contraception for unmarried people is “illogical,” and that government should show clear preference for married people and not “cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.“ Hear that WHOOSHING sound? Enjoy your trip down the political whirlpool, Mr. McDonnell.
- First Representative Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) made the mistake of referring to Republican’s search for a viable presidential candidate as the quest to find “The Great White Hope.“ Jenkins then responded to the resulting outcry, by stating that she had no idea that this was a racist sentiment referring back to the search for a white boxer who could defeat black boxing champion, Jack Johnson. THEN…we find out that back in JULY (that’s right, just a few months ago), Jenkins supported a resolution that explicitly STATED the history of the phrase: “Whereas the victory by Jack Johnson over Tommy Burns prompted a search for a White boxer who could beat Jack Johnson, a recruitment effort that was dubbed the search for the ‘great white hope.’“ Jenkins new position? She says she never read the resolution, choosing to look like an incompetent legislator, rather than a racist.
- Minnesota Republican Representative Michele Bachmann is now well known for making odd and inflammatory statements (most recently she proposed that health care legislation should be defeated with “fasting and prayer”). But now, she has her own theory why Democrats, and apparently most of her constituents, want her out of office: “Also with women politicians, they want to make sure no women, no woman becomes president before a Democrat woman, and so they’re doing everything they can to, I think, sabotage women like Sarah Palin, perhaps women like myself, or similarly situated women, to make sure that we don’t have a prominent national voice. But the thing is, the people in our country, they don’t care who the voice is, they just want someone, they want to know that someone is speaking out for them against what will certainly bring about the destruction of our great country if we continue to go down the Obama path.“ Yeah…it’s the DEMOCRATS who have such a pronounced diversity problem…
GHOSTS OF OUR PAST:
- Flip-Flop Number One: President Obama has now reversed his initial position, and has said that the White House visitor records will be released to the public, in a clear reversal of Bush policy. That’s great…one down, eleven to go. Next we’d like to see an end to renditions, warrantless wiretaps, signing statements, excessive use of the “State Secrets” defense, and refusal of Due Process to detainees…
- Flip-Flop Number Two: Former Secretary of Homeland Defense Tom Ridge stunned many when his book was released and clearly indicated that he had been suspiciously pressured to raise the Terror Alert Level. He surprised everyone even more when he went on Rachel Maddow’s show, denied that the claim was true, said that any suspicions he had in the past he now knew were false (but not for any particular reason…he just “knows”), he criticizes the government response to Katrina…then defends it, and he says that even though every reason the government gave us for going into Iraq has been proven false, it’s “ok” because it was really always about bringing democracy to the country. Rachel…seemed to take issue…
- Flip-Flop Number Three: Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales…raised a few eyebrows when he stated that he approved of Attorney General Holder’s investigation into interrogators who exceeded the bounds of the controversial DOJ memos justifying torture: “...if people go beyond that, I think it is legitimate to question and examine that conduct to ensure people are held accountable for their actions, even if it’s action in prosecuting the war on terror.“ It took about a day for Alberto to change his mind: “I don’t support the investigation by the department because this is a matter that has already been reviewed thoroughly and because I believe that another investigation is going to harm our intelligence gathering capabilities and that’s a concern that’s shared by career intelligence officials and so for those reasons I respectfully disagree with the decision.“ I don’t know how he keeps from getting whiplash…my neck hurts just reading this.
THE MEDIA – HACKS, PUNDITS, AND OTHER INVETERATE LIARS:
- The Today Show has a new hire: Jenna Hager, formerly Jenna Bush, daughter of former President George Bush. Ok…yes, she has knowledge of “living in the White House,” but that does not equal “White House insider knowledge.“ She is a fledgling school teacher…but that does not make her an “expert on education.“ Lastly, besides her apparent expertise in NOTHING, I’m just not certain that hiring the daughter of one of the most partisan presidents in recent history will result in anything resembling unbiased, non-partisan journalism. Just my prediction…
- How Does This Guy Stay On Television: Pat Buchanan…it’s not bad enough that he was part of Nixon’s cabal…or that when running for president he revealed a deep-seated anger towards immigrants…and later as a columnist and MSNBC commentator, he voiced racist and anti-Semitic sentiments…but now, his recent column “Did Hitler Want War,” Buchanan seems to defend the worst genocidal dictator in world history. You be the judge. When a man has an entire page dedicated to him on the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) website, maybe he should not be featured so prominently in the mainstream media…
- Has everybody lost their minds? When I heard that the President was going to address the nation’s schoolchildren, I thought “big deal.“ Presidents do this. All presidents…both parties. They say “hey, stay in school…don’t do drugs…you could be presidents someday…wink.“ Well, the conservative media, and the GOP, specifically the Florida Republican Party, have decided that the message is an attempt to…wait for it…INDOCTRINATE OUR CHILDREN. They say kids, “will be forced to watch the president justify his plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, and racking up more debt than any other president.“ Of course…this is BEYOND ridiculous, and Politifact.com has chosen to give the myth the much coveted “Pants On Fire” designation.
That brings this week to a much-needed close. Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend, and we’ll see you next week.