Blue Ice Water wallpaper, Do Tea Baggers Know What They Stand For

Blue Ice Water wallpaper

Fox News Tea Party Guest: Racism Is Over. It’s Socialism We Need To Fear!

Fritsch, an African American, announced that it didn’t matter whether or not Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, also African American, had been spit on during the tea party protest the day the House of Representatives passed the health care reform bill. What Americans really need to worry about, according to Fritsch, is the threat of socialism! With video ( At link)

Fritsch dismissed a video showing a protester spitting on Cleaver by saying, “The bottom line is, whether or not (Cleaver) was spit on or not really doesn’t matter. Truly, Americans no longer need to fear racists and racism in this country. That’s secondary. The real threat to the good life in America right now is socialism and everything that’s in this health care bill that is sending us down a path of destruction.”

Health care reform legislation without a public option and without the ability to opt into Medicare is mostly a series of consumer protection laws. Anyone that uses the insurance exchanges will bring more business and profits to health insurance companies, corporate health care groups, doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Conservatives just throw out these labels to either demonize their opponents or they just do not know what socialism is.  Which means it’s very possible the current rebranding of the far Right is not motivated by genuine issues, but mostly by anger and delusions. The plan itself has already been explained as a near replica of the Massachusetts reform pushed by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. If there is some substance to the Fox/ tea bagger/ generally disgruntled vote them all out argument, than why isn’t Mitt the target of an equal amount of derisive epitaphs.There have been a few articles and blog post in the past week that attempt to get at the cognitive dissonance between the reality of HCR and what the far Right believes, UNAWARE OF THE CONTRADICTION….

There’s an old joke that goes something like this: my neighbor went to public schools before joining the military. He went to college on the G.I. Bill, bought his first home through the FHA, and received his health care through the V.A. and Medicare. He now receives Social Security.

He’s a conservative because he wants to get the government off his back.

I mention the joke because a surprising number of right-wing activists don’t seem to appreciate the humor. We talked the other day, for example, about a radical libertarian activist who encourages his allies to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic offices to protest the Affordable Care Act. He hates government involvement in the lives of citizens — but his main income is taxpayer-financed disability checks sent to him every month by the federal government.

I would add some of the people I know that have either civil service jobs or work for a business that relies on government contracts for their business. We can all name some of the more famous or infamous – Haliburton, Blackwater(Xe) and remember Ketchum Inc that helped the Bush administration produce fake news stories that pushed their agenda – they’re back feeding off the gravy train of the administration most Fox pundits call socialists – when they’re not calling them Nazis. This phenomenon is beyond politics it’s about a state of mind and one that seems frequently unstable and certainly uninformed about the facts. This column by Ronald Brownstein gets a little more into just the health care reform angle, Dems Caught In Populist Crossfire – Most white Americans think health reform benefits the poor and uninsured, not people like them.

In the Kaiser poll, even fewer noncollege than college-educated whites said that the plan would benefit the country. In one sense, that’s ironic: Census figures show that noncollege whites are more than twice as likely to lack health insurance as whites with a degree. But these working-class whites have grown more skeptical than better-educated whites that government cares about their needs. And the searing recession has only hardened those doubts.

Now that Democrats are trying to talk over the 24/7 disinformation of the largely corporate conservative media the response has been predictable. Claims there are huge flaws in the bill and will not work. Convenient for insurance companies that have been and will continue to rise rates – Health insurance CEOs conspire to blame Democrats for increasing premiums.

Williams is lying. In fact, the health care law does not tax insurance issuers until 2014. Moreover, as Igor Volsky writes, insurers are disingenuously trying to point the fingers at hospitals and doctors to avoid a conversation about their own failed efforts to control costs while raking in profits.

Democrats and President Obama got a small up tick in approval from the Democratic base. Obama seems like he wants to squander that approval on something that does not make sense economically or in long term energy strategy – Drill, baby, drill

The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time, officials said Tuesday.

….The proposal is intended to reduce dependence on oil imports, generate revenue from the sale of offshore leases and help win political support for comprehensive energy and climate legislation. (emphasis mine)

Kevin Drum has a good point. Let’s assume it is about a strategy for energy and climate legislation, why show your hand so soon. Why not hold back and give up some leases in return for saner items on the green economy wish list. Who wants to mail Rahm Emanuel or President Obama a Dummies Guide to Playing Poker.

The tea baggers – the ones who are not hurling racial slurs or threatening violence – who are upset about the economy do have – in a slightly distorted way some things in common with liberals, but their frustrations are directed at the country’s just getting by working class, elderly and disabled. An upside down populism, Tea Baggers and “Populist Anger”

In 1892, the Populists got so mad that they started their own party, officially the People’s Party. They didn’t pull punches in the preamble to their party constitution: “The fruits of the toil of millions are badly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the Republic and endanger liberty. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes—tramps and millionaires.”

The Tea Baggers, like millionaires, rail against “big government.” At their rallies Tea Baggers wave signs urging the “SOCIALIST OBAMA” to “LET THE FREE MARKET WORK,” demanding that “LEFTIST PARASITES” carry their “OWN WEIGHT!!!” and mourning the death of “CAPITOLISM [sic].”

A lot of Republicans love the Tea Baggers, too. The GOP, many millionaires, and Tea Baggers have made common cause against health care reform.

The Tea Baggers have bought into Social Darwinism, the 19th century gospel of the rich and powerful that extolled the “free market” as almost divinely inspired. “God gave me my money,” Rockefeller said.

Social Darwinists said if you’re poor and powerless, it’s your own fault. Some Tea Baggers feel that way about health care. “YOUR HEALTH YOUR PROBLEM,” said another sign at a Tea Bagger rally.

Rockefeller hated the Populists. So would the Tea Baggers.


Russia Suffers Terror Attack. Conservative Bloggers Exploit Tragedy

Suicide bombings hit Moscow Metro

At least 38 people have been killed after two female suicide bombers blew themselves up on Moscow Metro trains in the morning rush hour, officials say.

Twenty-four died in the first blast at 0756 (0356 GMT) as a train stood at the central Lubyanka station, beneath the offices of the FSB intelligence agency.

About 40 minutes later, a second explosion ripped through a train at Park Kultury, leaving another 14 dead.

The FSB said it was likely a group from the North Caucasus was responsible.

The BBC’s Richard Galpin in Moscow says no group has yet said it carried out the attacks, but past suicide bombings in the capital have been carried out by or blamed on Islamist rebels fighting for independence in Chechnya.

Politics aside attacks like this – crazed fundamentalists carrying out attacks on unarmed civilians is simply wrong. The politics between the Russians and surrounding Muslim communities is long and complicated. That complication does not in anyway sanction such a gross violation of basic humanitarian values.

The attack came six months after President Medvedev declared an end to Russia’s “counter-terrorism operations” in Chechnya, in a bid to “further normalise the situation” after 15 years of conflict that claimed more than 100,000 lives and left it in ruins.

Despite this, the mainly Muslim republic continues to be plagued by violence, and over the past two years Islamist militants have stepped up attacks in neighbouring Ingushetia and Dagestan.

This is what Michelle Malkin – an astute observer of all things Russian – has to say about today’s events in Russia, Jihadi subway bombing horror in Russia…again, By Michelle Malkin  •  March 29, 2010 04:27 AM

They’re at it again. Early Monday morning in Russia, two female killers strapped themselves with bombs and attacked rail stations in Moscow. Scores are reported dead; more than 70 injured.

[   ]…It never left. The jihadists have been here and done that, over and over again.

[  ]…Here’s a reminder of how the MSM whitewashes jihad from news coverage of Muslim jihadi terrorism in Russia. And another one. And more. Note the difference in how religion is played up in the headline coverage of the FBI raids of obscure Christian militia groups in Michigan versus the headline coverage of the generic “female suicide bombers” who subscribed to the Religion of Pieces. And be prepared to be called an “Islamophobe” for pointing out the striking differences.

Whitewash? The news and background on the bombers are the headlines of every news service.

Some people might get the impression that Malkin has a thoughful consistant view of Russia and has come to the conclusion that such attacks on that country is the work of despicable people  against a fine state. Malkin from Is Georgia in 2008 like Hungary in 1956? August 11, 2008 07:27 AM – after the clash between the Democratic Republic of Georgia and Russia,

So we’re not bound to do anything to help Georgia–except by our commitment to supporting freedom and opposing tyranny around the world. We’ve staked much of our identity as a nation on exactly that commitment….

[  ]….Putin’s transparent rationalizations hide an avaricious agenda of conquest, and he must be opposed. We see the true face of Putin at last, and he’s every bit as ugly as the totalitarian Evil Empire which proceeded him (to which he bears an unmistakable family resemblance.)

Russia’s attacks are not only without justification, but they’re also indiscriminate and far out of any doctrine of proportion. No imminent threat justifies their actions. Nothing except a desire to punish and subjugate Georgia motivates their shelling of civilian targets far from South Ossetia. Russia should be ashamed of itself and of its leader.

I hope this naked aggression backfires on Russia like their catastrophic invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. They poured blood and treasure into that project for years, and earned the world’s opprobrium even as they hastened their empire’s downfall through their folly. We helped that defeat happen, of course, and I want to see us help out again.

One minute Malkin and other always wrong neocon war mongers such as Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan want to invade Russia. The next minute pity the poor Russians for being the victim of jihadists. U.S. bombs falling on Russian citizens smell like roses in 2008. In 2010 the scorecard of evil is conveniently rearranged to put Muslims at the top. Besides the obvious hypocrisy, the neocon exploitation of any event to ratchet up fear is actually consistent with any news where complicated interests are involved. Let’s not carefully weigh events lets decide to have wars over lunch. Poor Malkin sounds like the voice of conservatism that has eclipsed her – Sarah Palin. There is no substantive foreign policy points of view just knee jerk reactions and frequently dangerous ones. Another neocon loser weighs in,

The Massacre in Moscow
Posted by: Hugh Hewitt at 9:31 AM

The jihadists haven’t gone away or given up.  Today’s massacre in Moscow, like those before it in London, Madrid, Jerusalem, Bali, New York and a score of other places should put the threat from Islamists back at the top of the world’s agenda.  The bitter irony is that President Obama spent last week bullying Israel’s leader when he ought to have been working with Prime Minister Netanyahu to strengthen the coalition working to preempt Islamist terror.

That’s right letting Israel create more settlements and having a closer relation with the U.S. would have finally stopped the near hundred year old frictions between some Muslims and Russia. In neocons the knee bone is directly connected to the skull. Neocons now as always have made Israel into a useful tool to shape public opinion – The right-wing need for victimization and Israel – and it is a near scientific law that any criticism of Israel is condemned as anti-Semitic. Yet another knee jerk reaction that afflicts conservatives.

Retro Airmail wallpaper, The Week in “moral responsibility”

Retro Airmail wallpaper

Gingrich Says Democrats ‘Have To Take Some Moral Responsibility’ For Far-Right Death Threats

Yesterday, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) spoke alongside Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-GA) at a press conference in Atlanta organized to air Republican opposition to the health care bill that just passed. At one point, Gingrich was asked about the death threats and vandalism lawmakers who supported the bill have been receiving. After stressing that “there is no place for this viciousness” and condemning the various threats and violent acts, Gingrich went on to explain that the Democratic leadership “has to take some moral responsibility” for encouraging death threats and terrorism because of the way they conducted the health care debate…

Newt has yet once again knocked back one too many sour mashes or is trying to create his own reality in addition to rewriting moral philosophy as we know it. Republicans were not only invited to the health care reform prom, but the package that passed has many of their suggestions in it. The idea that Democrats are to blame for violence against them is a tiresome and repugnant moral thesis that blames the rape victim for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the murder victim for being murdered or the wife for doing something that caused her husband to beat her into a coma. All of this while a Republican leader takes credit for part of the bill, the part which a another Republican already running for president also proposed.

The incidents of violence against Democrats and the right-wing meme coming from Newt among  others should be viewed in light of how fast yet another conservative standard bearer Eric Cantor, Fox and right-wing bloggers rushed to deflect blame and invent an incident in which they could claim some kind of equivalence, Cantor not targeted: Richmond PD says bullet fired randomly

Eric Cantor, the second-ranking House Republican, claimed earlier today that his office had been the target of a politically motivated shooting.

If you thought Cantor’s claim seemed reminiscent of the the bogus “an Obama supporter carved a backwards ‘B’ into my face” story from the 2008 campaign, you were right.

According to AP, the Richmond Police Department now says the bullet that hit an office in the building where he has a campaign office was fired randomly.

Let’s suppose for a moment the bullet was not from a stray but was meant as a political message. Being shot at or having your offices fired at is no joke. Though using our Gingrich logic wouldn’t Cantor be to blame because he has tried to keep over 30 million Americans from getting health care insurance for themselves and their children. In the United States we are free as citizens to have elections and set up programs that have been found to be constitutional. No, even then, shooting at Cantor would have been inexcusable and anyone involved should have been tracked down and prosecuted. No one is going to jail because of the mandate – yet another right-wing meme that will not be true no matter how loud and often it is shouted. And states can opt out if they have a plan that meets or exceeds the current one..

Former militiaman unapologetic for calls to vandalize offices over health care

“To all modern Sons of Liberty: THIS is your time. Break their windows. Break them NOW.”

These were the words of Mike Vanderboegh, a 57-year-old former militiaman from Alabama…

And drum roll please,

Vanderboegh said he once worked as a warehouse manager but now lives on government disability checks. He said he receives $1,300 a month because of his congestive heart failure, diabetes and hypertension.

Which reminds me of the tea baggers who say they are against government run health care, but are on Medicare or collecting Medicare disability. If Social Security is the third rail of politics, Medicare is the fourth. I dare Republicans to run on a platform of repealing Medicare. The guy was a communist before he was a right-winger. His brain cannot seem to grasp the concept of moderation.


However repellent it is, I guess there’s nothing particularly remarkable about hate mail to a congresswoman being in the form of a nasty sex remark accompanied by a prophylactic:

Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minnesota, was one of several members of Congress who reported receiving obscene and threatening letters after voting for the health care reform bill passed by Democrats on Sunday.

Democrats from Minnesota including McCollum, Rep. Keith Ellison, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken also received shredded parts of a U.S. flag doused in gasoline. In a related act of patriotism childish vindictiveness, Republicans Block Bills Ensuring Continuation Of Military Health Care

Rep. Vic Snyder (D-AR) Reports Threat Over Health Care Vote

Snyder read from a copy of the original saying: “It is apparent that it will take a few assassinations to stop Obamacare. Militia central has selected you for assassination. If we cannot stalk and find you in Washington, D.C., we will get you in Little Rock.”

At least 10 members of Congress have reported similar threats.

They misspelled Snyder’s name in the threat. The Timothy McVeigh School of Conservatism is thriving. Road rage, accident centers on Obama bumper sticker

A Nashville man says he and his 10-year-old daughter were victims of road rage Thursday afternoon, all because of a political bumper sticker on his car.

Mark Duren told News 2 the incident happened around 4:30p.m., while he was driving on Blair Boulevard, not far from Belmont University.

He said Harry Weisiger gave him the bird and rammed into his vehicle, after noticing an Obama-Biden sticker on his car bumper.

Duren had just picked up his 10-year-old daughter from school and had her in the car with him.

Weisiger was charged with felony reckless endangerment. A future star pupil in the local anger management class.

Conservatives have been more than two-faced about the tea baggers. Calling for their support one minute and disclaiming them the next. Seeing that right-wing stalwart Dick Army among others have been the driving financial force behind them most of us have figured out the tea bagger movement – which tends to deny any responsibility for enabling the Great Recession – is just right-wingers trying to reinvent themselves, The 5 Signs of Republican and Tea Party Unity

1. Tea Baggers Vote Republican

While their members might (see #2 below), the numbers don’t lie. Far from being the “independents” trumpeted by half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the Tea Partiers are just Republicans who happen to be louder and more in your face about it.

A new Quinnipiac University poll found that 74 percent are Republicans or independent voters leaning Republican while 77 percent voted for Sen. John McCain in 2008. (Exit polls showed that McCain won 90% of Republican voters but only 44% of independents.) That’s a far cry for the current 8-point Democratic edge in party identification in the United States as a whole.

What tea baggerism seems to be about more than anything else is deflecting blame. They’re the very same Republicans that are simply against things – regulation that would have prevented the financial crisis, against a progressive tax and revenue system that would have left us in better shape to deal with a crisis and against a measured national security policy that protects the constitutional rights that claim to care so much about. One of the things not listed in that very good post at Perrspectives is that tea baggers are also similarly masters of hypocrisy, just like your run of the meal right-wing conservative – Poll: ‘Anti-socialist’ Tea Party activists want government to create jobs

Seventy percent of those who identify as Tea Partiers — a platform that strongly decries government intervention in public life — want an interventionist government to create jobs, and only about one in three believe Medicaid and Medicare are “socialist” programs, according to a new Bloomberg poll.

[   ]…”Fewer than 10 percent say the Veterans Administration is definitely socialist, 12 percent identify management of national parks and museums, and 36 percent say expanding Medicare for the elderly, Medicaid for the poor and Social Security amount to socialism,” Bloomberg notes.

Even 35 percent don’t see Social Security as socialist: 65 percent said Social Security was “either definitely or sort of socialism.” But 47 percent still wanted to keep it under government control (and just 53 percent supported Social Security privatization).

It is an unfortunate drift in the definition of the terms, but Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid are not socialized programs – as in under the ever-widening and distorted definition of socialism. Social Security was,  in historical perspective, FDR’s response to the rising popularity of socialism during the Great Depression. Those programs are part of America’s very thin safety net. If we adhere to stricter definitions of socialism and capitalism, government intervention in job creation is still not socialism, but it is closer than pooling insurance funds for the financial and medical protection of the population – so to “provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.”

Scott Brown Is Not Letting This Rachel Maddow Electoral Fantasy Go. Watching the video one realizes what a himbo Brown is. he imagines that Maddow is running against him. Sends out a fund raising letter to that effect. On being challenged to the veracity of his claims says he is going to run against her anyway. I hope whatever Scott is smoking is legal.

Conservatives Cannot Get More Manical? That is a Sucker’s Bet

Is conservatism a mental illness. Considering their backasswards priorities it seems like question worth mulling over.

An open letter to conservatives

The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now.  You’ve lost me and you’ve lost most of America.  Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I’d like to give you some advice and an invitation.

First, the invitation:  Come back to us.

Now the advice.  You’re going to have to come up with a platform that isn’t built on a foundation of cowardice: fear of people with colors, religions, cultures and sex lives that differ from your own; fear of reform in banking, health care, energy; fantasy fears of America being transformed into an Islamic nation, into social/commun/fasc-ism, into a disarmed populace put in internment camps; and more.  But you have work to do even before you take on that task.

Your party — the GOP — and the conservative end of the American political spectrum has become irresponsible and irrational.  Worse, it’s tolerating, promoting and celebrating prejudice and hatred.  Let me provide some expamples — by no means an exhaustive list — of where the Right as gotten itself stuck in a swamp of hypocrisy, hyperbole, historical inaccuracy and hatred.

If you’re going to regain your stature as a party of rational, responsible people, you’ll have to start by draining this swamp:


You can’t flip out — and threaten impeachment – when Dems use a parliamentary procedure (deem and pass) that you used repeatedly (more than 35 times in just one session and more than 100 times in all!), that’s centuries old and which the courts have supported. Especially when your leaders admit it all.

You can’t vote and scream against the stimulus package and then take credit for the good it’s done in your own district (happily handing out enormous checks representing money that you voted against, is especially ugly) —  114 of you (at last count) did just that — and it’s even worse when you secretly beg for more.

You can’t fight against your own ideas just because the Dem president endorses your proposal.

You can’t call for a pay-as-you-go policy, and then vote against your own ideas.

Are they “unlawful enemy combatants” or are they “prisoners of war” at Gitmo? You can’t have it both ways.

You can’t carry on about the evils of government spending when your family has accepted more than a quarter-million dollars in government handouts.

You can’t refuse to go to a scheduled meeting, to which you were invited, and then blame the Dems because they didn’t meet with you.

You can’t rail against using teleprompters while using teleprompters. Repeatedly.

You can’t rail against the bank bailouts when you supported them as they were happening.

You can’t be for immigration reform, then against it .

You can’t enjoy socialized medicine while condemning it.

This is probably the most popular post up at TPM at the moment. It is a very long letter with tons of links that provide examples of what this former conservative is talking about. One of the little trolls, having mastered the art of right-wing deflection pretty much ignores the voluminous evidence supplied into support of the letter writer’s thesis…..but Democrats do this or that too. Yes, let us all acknowledge that part and parcel of the human condition is that we all tell lies and we’re all guilty of being a hypocrite once in a while or other wise do or say things that we shouldn’t. As a matter of fact church goers might be occasionally reminded that we’re all tainted with sin at birth. That is not the point and that particular troll knows it. Conservative have not occasionally strayed from the path of righteousness as it were. They’ve stripped naked and decided to run through the forest painted up like crazed loons full-bore full-time. From the election of Bill Clinton through Bush 43’s two terms many of us thought genuine Republicanism was dead and those passing themselves off as such could not get any sleazier, crazier, ignorant, xenophobic, petulant, violent and irrational. The current crop of Obama Derangement Syndrome obsessed conservative zombies make those 16 years look like the golden years of modern Enlightenment.

One thing that has not slowed down in this economy is the wing-nut welfare system. Yet another former Bush speech writer (William McGurn)- which sadly does not include a skill set transferable to honest work – is hacking away at the Wall Street Journal. Which does at least put to rest the near myth the Washington Post had hired them all, Bart Stupak’s vote for the health bill shows that in the end you can’t count on prolife Democrats.

That is part of what makes the consequences of Mr. Stupak’s surrender so far reaching. Not only has he opened the door to this kind of mischief, he has encouraged those who want to get rid of the Hyde amendment itself, which for decades has prevented federal funds from paying for abortions.

William had the perfect job hiding his fables behind his boss’s voice, now he’s out there is the cold harsh world of fact checking. Roe v Wade is still the law of the land. Despite the insistence of the tea smoking miscreants we still live in a capitalist economic system. The Senate HCR bill retained federal bans on abortion funding except in the case of poor women who become pregnant in case of rape or incest. Maybe William is one of those conservatives who would like America to be more like Iran and stone such women to death. Health Care Reform FAQ

What if I have federally subsidized insurance and need an abortion? Who pays for it?
You do. The compromise struck between the House and the Senate says that federal funds cannot be used to pay for abortions. So if the federal government fully subsidizes your plan, you have to pay out of pocket for abortions—except in cases of rape or incest. (This is the same arrangement for women covered by Medicaid.) Even if the government only partly subsidizes your insurance, you still have to pay for the portion of the insurance that covers abortion. Here’s how it works: You write two separate checks to your insurance company every month—one to cover possible abortions, one for all other treatments and services. The federal government then contributes a third stream of money, which cannot be used to pay for abortions. Insurers that offer abortion coverage are required to keep those three pots of money separate. So any time someone gets an abortion, it’s paid for from the account devoted exclusively to abortion coverage.

William and those of similar ilk seem to think or more aptly want others to believe that a federal dollar three blocks away from where an abortion is taking place is the same thing as paying for it. And of course IRS agents are going to be dispatched to every pro government control of every woman’s uterus Conservative to tear the money from their wallets, much like they did when they took my money to pay for the invasion of a country that had nothing to do with 9-11.

Mitt Romney will not be the next president of the U.S. – It’s hard out there for a Republican

Republican John Feehery really stepped in it today, on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show,” when he insisted the “individual mandate” to purchase healthcare insurance would prove to be the most unpopular element of the bill President Obama proudly signed today (video below).

I had to remind Feehery: That’s possible, but if so, it’s just another problem for the GOP, because the idea came from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his friends at the Heritage Foundation. Back then Republicans were worried about people freeloading off a new government-backed system, so Romney included an “individual mandate.

We may not like it, but the courts have ruled on similar issues before. We are required to buy car insurance. Banks – via FDIC and the Fed – require homeowners to have basic homeowners insurance and depending on where one lives – flood and/or wind damage insurance. Local governments can require that you not build on or object a certain portion of your own property located next to the street. The government can mandate that food processor follow certain sanitation rules or be shut down. These are generally all in the nature of what is best for the general welfare. If at First You Don’t Succeed, Hope for Activist Judges – Conservative State Attorneys Erroneously Claim Health Reform Is Unconstitutional

Their(11 state’s attorneys general) suits focus instead on the new law’s provisions that require individuals to carry health insurance—whether provided by a public program or an employer, or purchased on their own (with help from subsidies for low- and middle-income individuals)—and that fine employers who do not provide health insurance to their employees. The attorneys general claim that both provisions fall outside of Congress’s enumerated powers.

But the attorneys general are wrong. Article I of the Constitution empowers Congress “[t]o regulate commerce . . . among the several states.” The language of this “Commerce Clause” of the Constitution contains two elements. Congress must attempt to regulate “commerce” in order to invoke its commerce power, and this commerce must be “among the several states,” for example, multistate in nature. A requirement to carry health insurance passes both of these tests.

The Supreme Court has not handed down a concise definition of just what qualifies as “commerce,” but even ultraconservative Justice Antonin Scalia acknowledged in a case called Gonzales v. Raich that Congress has sweeping authority to regulate “economic activity” under the Commerce Clause. There is a long line of cases holding that Congress has broad power to enact laws that substantially affect prices, marketplaces, and commercial transactions, which support Justice Scalia’s conclusion. A law requiring all Americans to hold health insurance does all of these things.

Mitt Romney and Massachusetts Republicans worry about freeloaders is the typical boogieman language that we have come to expect from conservatives – there are ten of millions of lazy poor neerdowells waiting to pounce on any penny that drops out of a hard work’n millionaire conservative’s pocket.  What would happen without a mandate ( which may yet be amended out of the final bill) is that some people will inevitably forget, procrastinate or for whatever what seems like a good reason – to let their insurance lapse. Murphy’s law says that’s when disaster strikes and they end up in the ER. A couple of days in a hospital can run up thousands in charges. Thus the mandate protects Joe and Jane Average and protects the hospital, and the rest of us from getting the bill. Amateur historians might appreciate this find by Ian Millhiser, Why George Washington would disagree with the right wing about health care’s constitutionality.

The truth, however, is that the Second Militia Act of 1792, required a significant percentage of the U.S. civilian population to purchase a long list of military equipment:

[E]very citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack.

Update: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.): Health Care Lawsuits Moot, States Can Opt Out Of Mandate

Speaking to the Huffington Post on Tuesday, Wyden discussed — for one of the first times in public — legislative language he authored which “allows a state to go out and do its own bill, including having no individual mandate.”

It’s called the “Empowering States to be Innovative” amendment. And it would, quite literally, give states the right to set up their own health care system — with or without an individual mandate or, for that matter, with or without a public option — provided that, as Wyden puts it, “they can meet the coverage requirements of the bill.”

Update II: When conservatives start yammering about freedom and liberty its a lot like listening to the sale pitch of a 19th C. snake oil salesman. Lots of claims and empty promises. With the passage of HCR Democrats made some headway toward millions of Americans having a lot more freedom. Some, and one assumes most Republicans think “45,000 deaths annually linked to lack of health coverage” is some kind of freedom. They also think freedom is racist cartoons depicting HCR as “rape” is another definition of freedom.   What do you do in the wake of a crushing political defeat?

If you’re Jeff Goldstein, you declare yourself to be way cooler than everyone else; if you’re Darleen Click, you draw a cartoon in which the President rapes a woman, then tells her that he and friends will be back to rape her again later. In the clinical sense, Click is the more interesting case because she thinks that the only problem with her cartoon is that it’s racist. I repeat: she drew a cartoon in which the punch line is a gang rape and the only potential problem with it she can see is that it might be racist. Don’t misunderstand me: it’s plenty racist—plays into tropes as old as slavery and everything—but the punch line is that the President and his associates are going to gang-rape the Statue of Liberty with, I kid you not, immigration reform.

In service of the cheapest of laughs, Click asserts that the statue that symbolizes America’s commitment to the tired, poor, huddled masses of the world is about to be raped because of the President’s commitment to those selfsame masses-yearning-to-be-free. Talk about your industrial grade ideological incoherence—and I would, except for the fact that Goldstein, never one to be upstaged on his own blog, told a woman that the only way she would ever be cool was if someone raped her with an icicle.

Draft dodger Rush Limbaugh in a as usual thoughtful analysis of all things public policy and the common good thinks saving tens of thousands of lives is worse than 9-11. The numbers suggest that our broken down health-care system was actually killing more Americans than al Queda. While conservative expert on values Bill Bennett ( he wrote a book on values) says all these racists attacks perpetrated by conservatives are proof that we truly are in a post racial America. America has obviously come a long way, but let’s not be Republican ostriches, stick our heads in the sand and pretend that racism is suddenly vanished as an issue from the cultural and political landscape.

House Democrats Approve Healthcare Overhaul. President Obama to Sign Historic Achievement into Law

Library of Congress old building

Library of Congress wallpaper

House Approves Health Overhaul, Sending Landmark Bill to Obama

By a vote of 219 to 212, the House passed the bill after a day of tumultuous debate that echoed the epic struggle of the last year. The action sent the bill to President Obama, whose crusade for such legislation has been a hallmark of his presidency.

“This isn’t radical reform, but it is major reform,” Mr. Obama said after the vote. “This legislation will not fix everything that ails our health care system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction. This is what change looks like.”

House passes healthcare overhaulIn a major victory for the president, Democratic leaders get the Senate version passed, then engineer passage of a package designed to reconcile that bill and the one OKd by the House last year.

Democratic leaders hailed the healthcare overhaul as historic legislation on par with the enactment of Social Security after the Great Depression and Medicare in the 1960s.

Underscoring that sense of history, House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) brought to the floor and read from a copy of the typed 1939 letter that President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent to Congress asking it to make a national healthcare program part of the Social Security Act.

“This is a historic day, and we are happy warriors,” said Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We will be a part of history, joining Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s passage of Social Security, Lyndon Johnson’s passage of Medicare and now Barack Obama’s passage of healthcare.”

Republicans didn’t see it that way.

“Some say we’re making history. I say we’re breaking history,” said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.).

“Only in Washington, D.C., could you say you’re going to spend $1 trillion and save the taxpayers money,” he said. “This Congress is poised to ignore the will of the majority of the American people. . . . This is the people’s House, and the people don’t want a government takeover of healthcare.”

“This trillion-dollar tragedy is just bad medicine,” Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) said.

Let’s use the words conservatives and liberals here since when you go back as far as Franklin D. Roosevelt that was a time when both parties has a strange mix of conservative Republicans and Democrats ( ye old Dixiecrats for example) as well as liberal Republicans (especially from the northeast) and liberal Democrats. When it comes to social and economic progress – where the United States of America takes one more step away from the doge eat dog survival of the greediness and meanest, versus a democracy and economy for and by the people – Conservatives have not changed at all. The language remains the same. To confuse things further let’s start with Dana Milbank at WaPo – supposedly a l moderate Democrat who frequently parrots right-wing talking points and seldom has an opinion that breaks the mold of the tired old Beltway mentality. Even Dana gets our current health care carnival is dysfunctional, from Sunday, March 21, 2010 – Health reform and the specter of Alf Landon

“This is the largest tax bill in history,” the Republican leader fumed. The reform “is unjust, unworkable, stupidly drafted and wastefully financed.”

And that wasn’t all. This “cruel hoax,” he said, this “folly” of “bungling and waste,” compared poorly to the “much less expensive” and “practical measures” favored by the Republicans.

“We must repeal,” the GOP leader argued. “The Republican Party is pledged to do this.”

That was Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon in a September 1936 campaign speech. He based his bid for the White House on repealing Social Security.

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) – The “maverick” sees a constitutional challenge coming. A challenge that no doubt will be as successful as the ones Cons have waged against Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These right-wing misanthropes, among others plan to campaign ala Alf Landon on repealing heal care reform. The reform whose immediate effects will include: immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool, prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans, tax credits that encourage small businesses to offer health coverage, a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the prescription-drug “donut hole” (the checks would start going out June 15), require plans provide parents with the option to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26, ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions ending the abuses of health insurance companies sudden ad usually unjustified rescission of insurance coverage and eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans ( this last one very important for those that suffer from long term chronic illnesses which insurances companies decide they just do not feel like paying anymore. These are the nightmarish socialist-fascist-draconian changes which have invited the threat of conservatives carrying out armed rebellion and murder if enacted.

Firedoglake has the text of the executive order that President Obama wrote to placate Rep. Bart Stupak(D-Mich). We’ll be hearing a lot about this for at least a few days. I could be wrong, but much of the objections do the EO are overblown. An EO cannot countermand legislation that Congress has passed. What the House just did was pass the language in the Senate Bill. The EO seems on my reading – others that disagree of this writing include the pro-choice National Organization for Women because the EO reiterates the Hyde Amendment. Though the Senate bills specifically maintains the right of a woman to add a rider to her insurance coverage – about a dollar out of her own pocket to buy abortion coverage,

Let’s go to Page 2069 through Page 2078 of the Senate-passed bill. It says, “If a qualified plan provides [abortion] coverage … the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable to [health reform’s government-funding mechanisms] for purposes of paying for such services.” (This is on Page 2072.) That seems pretty straightforward. No government funding for abortions. (Except in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s life—the same exceptions granted under current law.) If a health insurer selling through the exchanges wishes to offer abortion coverage—the federal government may not require it to do so, and the state where the exchange is located may (the bill states) pass a law forbidding it to do so—then the insurer must collect from each enrollee (regardless of sex or age) a separate payment to cover abortion. The insurer must keep this pool of money separate to ensure it won’t be commingled with so much as a nickel of government subsidy. (This is on Pages 2072-2074.)

If a woman objects to having abortion coverage she is not required to buy it.

What really rankles Stupak (and the bishops) isn’t that the Senate bill commits taxpayer dollars to funding abortion. Rather, it’s that the Senate bill commits taxpayer dollars to people who buy private insurance policies that happen to cover abortion at nominal cost to the purchaser (even the poorest of the poor can spare $1 a month) and no cost at all to the insurer. Stupak and the bishops don’t have a beef with government spending. They have a beef with market economics.

I think what the President did was assure Stupak that the Congressman’s wholly misguided interpretation was just that and also helped Stupak and the anti-choice Democrats political cover. The latter is in reality unnecessary, but such is the power of appearances. My interpretation of the EO might be off a bit and we’re sure to hear other POVs this week.

Congress Matters also has some great finds from the past regarding Conservative predictions that this or that policy or legislation spelled certain doom for the entire country, From the files by David Waldman

On the 1993 deficit reduction package:

Rep. Robert Michel (R-IL), Los Angeles Times, 5/28/93:

They will remember who let loose this deadly virus into our economic bloodstream.

Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA), GOP Press Conference, House TV Gallery, 8/5/93:

I believe this will lead to a recession next year. This is the Democrat machine’s recession, and each one of them will be held personally accountable.

The Clinton-Democrats deficit reduction package left Bush with a surplus which he and congressional conservatives squandered.

On Medicare:

Rep. Durward Hall (R-MO), 4/8/65:

…we cannot stand idly by now, as the Nation is urged to embark on an ill-conceived adventure in government medicine, the end of which no one can see, and from which the patient is certain to be the ultimate sufferer.

Rep. James Utt (R-CA):

We are going on the assumption that this is not socialized medicine. Let me tell you here and now it is socialized medicine.

Whether it is social Security, deficit reduction, tax policy, Medicare, WMD in Iraq – historically conservatives are rarely right and their predictions of national Armageddon are the rantings of Chicken-Littles. If they want to go down in history as the loser party that has never gotten anything right they are well on their way. By all means they should campaign on repealing health-care reform we can expect to pick up a few more seats in the Senate and House in 2012.

While HCR is a victory for everyone, among other accomplishments HCR may also make Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi the most effective and powerful Speaker in history.

Name two walking irrelevant dinosaurs. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Faux News propagandist Bill Kristol. They have one obvious thing in common, they’re never right. If that were not enough, neither have accomplished anything for the average American working family. Hatch has achieved fortune through the power and prestige of public office – certainly not through hard work. While Kristol was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. One that he has never removed least he have to actually achieve something on the merits of his work and ideas. That we average Americans are now free to join together to help each other rankles both these dinosaurs to no end.

Hammock Ferns Louisiana wallpaper, A Weekly News Update

Hammock Ferns Louisiana wallpaper

A few updates on Republicans and their sudden convenient insistence that self executable bills ( deem and pass) are unconstitutional. E.J. Dionne writing back in 2003 found Republicans being badgered by a Democrat ( Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin) trying to funding to improve base housing for military families. Republican had just passed their irresponsible tax cuts, better known as rewarding the wealthy – for being wealthy. They did not want to be seen as undermining what they were telling the public was a great legislative achievement so they used self-executable rules to use an extension of customs fees to finally finance Obey’s housing expenditures.

But then the experiment kicked in: Obey proposed financing the budget increase by reducing Bush’s recent tax cut, but only for the roughly 200,000 Americans who make more than $1 million a year. Under Obey’s amendment, these taxpayers would receive a cut of $83,546 this year — more than most Americans make annually — instead of the $88,326 they are currently scheduled to receive.

This small contribution to the troops was voted down on a party-line vote.

Obey’s fee proposal seemed like something Republicans could live with because it would ‘appear” as though Republican had not raised taxes,

The bill was approved under what’s called a “self-executing rule.” The jargon means that members never had to vote on the bill as such. They just voted for a rule substituting the House’s big tax cut for the Senate bill. And just to confuse everyone, the House then turned around and passed a Democratic motion — entirely nonbinding — instructing House negotiators to give way to most of the Senate provisions. So the House did one thing and then said another.

Examples of “deem and pass” while Republicans had the majority  (in chronological order):

7. H. Res. 386 (deemed as passed a resolution that tabled the Interior Approps bill so it would not be presented to the President), November 18, 1999 (passed 226-204) – Republican controlled 106thCongress
Ø Boehner – YEA

9. H. Res. 572 (a resolution regarding the immediate termination for the deployment of troops in Iraq was used to “deem” a technical correction to the T-HUD Appropriations Act of 2006 as passed) on November 18, 2005 (passed 210-202) – Republican controlled 109th Congress
Ø Boehner – YEA
Ø Cantor – YEA

More at the link. QUICK FACT: Washington Times falsely declared reconciliation and self-executing rule “rare procedural tools”

CBO Highlights Republican Deficit Posturing

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates for the final health care bill are bringing smiles to Democratic faces. Over 10 years, the $940 billion package will cover 32 million more Americans while ending insurance abuses including rescission and the use of pre-existing conditions to deny coverage.

But the ersatz deficit hawks of the Republican Party should be happy, too. For less than half the cost of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, the CBO forecasts the final health care bill will trim the deficit by $130 billion over the first decade and $1.3 trillion over 20 years.

Chairman of the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives The Top Ten Immediate Benefits You’ll Get When Health Care Reform Passes

* Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans;

* Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool;

* Prohibit dropping people from coverage when they get sick in all individual plans;

* Lower seniors prescription drug prices by beginning to close the donut hole;

* Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;

* Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans;

* Require plans to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26;

* Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;

* Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;

* Require premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs.

By enacting these provisions right away, and others over time, we will be able to lower costs for everyone and give all Americans and small businesses more control over their health care choices.

John Boehner (R-OH) Tells Bankers To Fight Financial Reform: ‘Don’t Let Those Little Punk Staffers Take Advantage Of You’

Prior to Boehner’s speech, American Bankers Association President Edward Yingling urged delay in the financial reform effort, because “every day that passes gives more leverage to [Banking Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL)].” In his career, Boehner has received $3.4 million from the financial services industry, which is $1.2 million more than he’s received from any other industry.

The Misinformed Tea Party Movement

Not everyone follows these numbers closely, and Tea Partyers may have been thinking of figures from a few years ago, before the recession when taxes were higher. According to the CBO, the highest figure for all federal taxes since 1970 came in the year 2000, when they reached 20.6% of GDP. As we know, after that George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress cut federal taxes; they fell to 18.5% of GDP in 2007, before the recession hit, and 17.5% in 2008.

Tuesday’s Tea Party crowd, however, thought that federal taxes were almost three times as high as they actually are. The average response was 42% of GDP and the median 40%. The highest figure recorded in all of American history was half those figures: 20.9% at the peak of World War II in 1944.

To follow up, Tea Partyers were asked how much they think a typical family making $50,000 per year pays in federal income taxes. The average response was $12,710, the median $10,000. In percentage terms this means a tax burden of between 20% and 25% of income.

Of course, it’s hard to know what any particular individual or family pays in taxes, but according to IRS tax tables, a single person with $50,000 in taxable income last year would owe $8,694 in federal income taxes, and a married couple filing jointly would owe $6,669.

But these numbers are high because to have a taxable income of $50,000, one’s gross income would be higher by at least the personal exemption, which is $3,650, and the standard deduction, which is $5,700 for single people and $11,400 for married couples. Owning a home or having children would reduce one’s tax burden further.

If its a showdown between Bruce Bartlet’s facts versus what the teabaggers believe. My bet goes on the later. Reality is no match for the tea baggers extraordinary and perverse powers of denial.

If Deem and Pass or “self-executing rule” is Unconstitutional Why Have Republicans Used it So Often

The arms race of rules

The conservative case against “Deem and Pass” is getting very complex, very fast. Yesterday, the argument was that it was flatly unconstitutional. But it turns out that Republicans used Deem and Pass dozens of times while they were in power. So today’s furor is that Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter joined Public Citizen in a lawsuit arguing that a bill that George W. Bush signed was invalid because Deem and Pass is unconstitutional. But the court ruled against Public Citizen, Pelosi and Slaughter. Deem and Pass, well, passed. And now Democrats are using it, too.

The Right is calling Speaker Pelosi a hypocrite. That’s a strange new definition of hypocrite. Republicans, while in the majority used deem and pass (self executing rules) to pass far more legislation than Democrats. The courts ruled that it was OK. How The honorable Speaker is simply using the brick bat Republicans created to beat them with. I’m not particularly a proponent of spiteful behavior and in this case, considering Speaker Pelosi’s record of looking out for middle and working class Americans, she feels that the parliamentary procedure, having been used by Republicans and ruled legal, is a legitimate way to proceed. Is she having the last laugh. For now anyway. As Ezra points out much like reconciliation these parliamentarian battles are largely about the minority party versus the majority party. Unless the Senate in particular does something about its rules – a super majority of 55 rather than 60 seems more reasonable for example – than both parties are free to use any trick they have up their sleeve. Remember that Conservatives used reconciliation more than Democrats and now they’re using every hyperbolic attack that can fly out of Glenn Beck and Mitch McConnel’s(R-KY) back-side to demonize reconciliation. Then publicly proclaimed they would use parliamentary tricks ( amendments) to stop reconciliation of health care reform. Considering recent history of both the use of “Deem and Pass”, reconciliation and abuse of the implied filibuster, its difficult to be too damning of Speaker Pelosi should she chose to use all the legislative weapons at her disposal.

Time has a blog post up on the current history of self-executing rules. The Slaughter Solution? Another name might be the Dreier Doctrine.

When Republicans took power in 1995, they soon lost their aversion to self-executing rules and proceeded to set new records under Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). There were 38 and 52 self-executing rules in the 104th and 105th Congresses (1995-1998), making up 25 percent and 35 percent of all rules, respectively. Under Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) there were 40, 42 and 30 self-executing rules in the 106th, 107th and 108th Congresses (22 percent, 37 percent and 22 percent, respectively). Thus far in the 109th Congress, self-executing rules make up about 16 percent of all rules.

As the director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Congress Project (and former staff director of the House Rules Committee) says, I don’t like the rules, but as we can see they’re not unconstitutional. If they are the Republicans that used them will surely turn themselves in to the U.S. Marshall’s office immediately. Michelle Malkin will be bringing some of the fish she says she catches so prison life should be a little more tolerable.

Jack Balkin is not crazy about deem and pass either, but does see a way that it could be done with health care reform that does pass the Constitutional test, Is Deem and Pass Constitutional?

Despite Judge McConnell’s concerns, which are textually well founded, there is a way that “deem and pass” could be done constitutionally. There have to be two separate bills signed by the President: the first one is the original Senate bill, and the second one is the reconciliation bill. The House must pass the Senate bill and it must also pass the reconciliation bill. The House may do this on a single vote if the special rule that accompanies the reconciliation bill says that by passing the reconciliation bill the House agrees to pass the same text of the same bill that the Senate has passed.

Balkin is a lawyer so it is best to read all his what ifs and caveats. He is certainly correct that because of Article I, section 7 Pelosi might be giving conservative Democrats rhetorical cover with deem and pass, but in legal terms it will be as though those conservative Democrats did vote for the Senate bill. Once health care reform passes even Rep. Stupak(D) will be scrambling to take a share of the credit and regardless of the way it passes Republican will try to use it against them. I can see the ads now – Democrats got 30 million more Americans health care coverage, did away with insurance companies dropping people with preexisting conditions and helped control spiraling health care costs, don’t vote for those rascals. They’ll get the tea smokers vote.

Long Exposure Expressway City Lights wallpaper

city lights

Long Exposure Expressway City Lights wallpaper. For those that don’t know, long exposure photos are where the photographer manually keeps the lens open for longer than a regular still shot. It could be 15 seconds or two minutes. What’s captured is the changes in light over the time the lens is open.

Ray McGovern shames John Yoo. We have to assume that Yoo has enough of a conscience to be shamed – Yoo Besmirches Legacy of Jefferson

Sadly, the guarantees embodied in five of those first ten amendments – and in the Constitution itself – have been eroded by dubious theories promoted by Yoo, like his concept of an all-powerful “unitary executive” who can do whatever he wants to anyone unlucky enough to be judged an “enemy” by the leader during “wartime,” even an open-ended, ill-defined conflict like the “war on terror.”

Not even the Great Writ of habeas corpus escaped Yoo’s sophistry – the fundamental right, wrested from King John of England in 1215, to seek judicial relief from unlawful detention. Even King George III was constrained by habeas corpus, and Madison and Mason were careful to include that basic guarantee in the Constitution itself (Article One, Section 9).

But Yoo and some fellow lawyers saw the ancient legal right as impinging on President George W. Bush’s unlimited powers.

After the 9/11 attacks, Yoo propounded theories that elevated Bush beyond the bounds of federal or international law. As Yoo has acknowledged, his opinions could allow the President to crush a child’s testicles to get his father to talk, or to willfully annihilate a village of civilians.

“Sure,” Yoo responded when a Justice Department investigator posed the latter hypothetical.

Many are aware of John Yoo’s role in serving up legal “justification” for “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including the near-drowning of waterboarding. But fewer know that the Convening Authority for the Military Commissions at Guantanamo, military judge Susan Crawford, has said that those techniques meet the “legal definition of torture.”

Joe Conason look at conservative wunderkind Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint. Ryan’s proposal’s are a step by step guide on how to continue the Bush-Neocon legacy of national financial ruin – Paul Ryan’s populism: Raising taxes on the middle class. Conason’s column is the easily digestible version of a report he links to by The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,  The Ryan Budget’s Radical PrioritiesProvides Largest Tax Cuts in History for Wealthy, Raises Middle Class Taxes, Ends Guaranteed Medicare, Privatizes Social Security, Erodes Health Care

Contrary to claims that the Ryan plan is fiscally responsible — which reflect a misunderstanding of CBO’s analysis of the proposal — the plan would leave the federal budget in dire straits for decades as a result of its massive tax cuts for wealthy households and its diversion of Social Security payroll taxes to private accounts. The plan attempts to reduce deficits and debt many decades into the future by making deep cuts in Social Security’s defined benefits and by eliminating guaranteed Medicare benefits and substantially cutting back on medical assistance for low-income families and seniors. Yet even with these sweeping changes, the plan fails to achieve its fiscal goal, since federal debt under the proposal would rise over the next four decades to unsustainable levels far in excess of 100 percent of GDP. The proposal also would seriously erode employer-sponsored health insurance coverage for working Americans and their families without instituting the accompanying reforms in health insurance needed to create a viable substitute. All in all, the Ryan Roadmap charts a radical course that, if they understood it, few Americans likely would want to follow.

Medicare and Republicans. It’s like playing an old game of Pong. They go back and forth. One day their panties are in a knot because of their imagined cuts that will kill grandma and the next day they’re making cuts so deep they’d bankrupt the program. Ryan – who has been described by the media and Republicans as a rising star of movement conservatism for longer than I can remember – also brings us Bush’s privatization of Social Security 2.0 where let’s give Wall St. our Social Security funds, you know, as a reward for their bombastic raid on the nation’s wealth. The tea baggers like Ryan. The tea baggers are supposedly populist who do not think they should have to reward Wall St’s mistakes. So Ryan and his plan is just another chapter of policies and prescriptions where much back pedaling and rationalization is required. Ryan does know that Social Security is an insurance program, not an investment program? He’s a tea bagger conservative rising star that’s all that matters.

Old Map and Ship Model wallpaper, Texas Conservative Textbook Massacre

Old Map and Ship Model wallpaper

Texas Board of Education cuts Thomas Jefferson out of its textbooks.

– The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.”

…– The Board struck the word “democratic” from the description of the U.S. government, instead terming it a “constitutional republic.”

Unfortunately the word republic in the U.S has come to be associated with a certain political party, but its original intent when used by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson to describe the United States of America was from the Latin ‘res republica’ or a matter of public affair in which the people were represented by elected officials. Republic used within the context of Madison, Jefferson and John Adams original thought was a liberal institution that firmly rejected monarchism. While these founders contributed their own ideas of what a liberal republic would look like there is no mistaking the influence of liberal French philosophical proponents of republicanism. These are not small distinctions as China and the old Soviet Union called themselves republics and they have and had, respectively, constitutions. To simply say the United States is a “constitutional republic” is to remove the gulf of distinction between a free and open democratic republic and a totalitarian state that has codified set of rules for governing and yet has no democratic guarantees. The Texas school broad has shown it dangerous and insidious knowledge of history by ignoring the noble context of democratic republic. The NYT’s write-up does what the media has been trained to do by the Right – bend over backwards to let the flat earthers have their say without much questioning as to the historical or rational basis for their beliefs, Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change ( the title serves as a good example. Apparently there was some simple contest and the Cons won.)

After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

That paragraph is a bend over backwards way of saying Conservatives forced through a rewrite of history that reflected the fairy tale version right-wing broad members have written in their head.

Efforts by Hispanic board members to include more Latino figures as role models for the state’s large Hispanic population were consistently defeated, prompting one member, Mary Helen Berlanga, to storm out of a meeting late Thursday night, saying, “They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”

“They are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians,” she said. “They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world.”

Didn’t someone once say the victors get to write their own history. The Texas Freedom Network writes,

Board member Cynthia Dunbar wants to change a standard having students study the impact of Enlightenment ideas on political revolutions from 1750 to the present. She wants to drop the reference to Enlightenment ideas (replacing with “the writings of”) and to Thomas Jefferson. She adds Thomas Aquinas and others. Jefferson’s ideas, she argues, were based on other political philosophers listed in the standards. We don’t buy her argument at all. Board member Bob Craig of Lubbock points out that the curriculum writers clearly wanted to students to study Enlightenment ideas and Jefferson. Could Dunbar’s problem be that Jefferson was a Deist? The board approves the amendment, taking Thomas Jefferson OUT of the world history standards.

Jefferson was a Deist and his views on religion are complicated. he write his own version of the Bible and once referred to the teachings of Jesus as some of the finest moral thoughts ever written. It is also clear from his draft of the Virginia Constitution and other writings that he was both a champion of religious freedom and suspicious of organized religion:

“No religious reading, instruction or exercise, shall be prescribed or practiced [in the elementary schools] inconsistent with the tenets of any religious sect or denomination.” –Thomas Jefferson: Elementary School Act, 1817. ME 17:425

“The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.” –Thomas Jefferson to Jeremiah Moor, 1800.

“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another.” –Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799. ME 10:78

“The advocate of religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from [the clergy].” –Thomas Jefferson to Levi Lincoln, 1802. ME 10:305

“The clergy…believe that any portion of power confided to me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.” –Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, 1800. ME 10:173

There is no mention of pro-American Revolution radical ( radical is not always a derisive term) Thomas Paine who wrote The Age of Reason which was very critical of organized religion and the clergy. In addition to questioning the holy authority of the Bible. If the cons on the Texas School Board want to teach the history of religion and its influence on America life and thought, by all means let’s do just that. We can cover all of Jefferson’s writings as well as Paine, and Benjamin Franklin who rarely attended church. Then we could move on to the Salem Witch Trials,  and the Quakers who advocated sexual equality and the hanging of William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson for their religious beliefs ( that was before the U.S. became independent and had a Constitution protecting individual conscience as regards religion. Though even than the Quakers were considered something of a cult). How southern christian plantation owners used the Bible to justify slavery.

Conservatives and conservative Democrats have given capitalism a bad name. Now those of us who believe in a fair regulated capitalism can began to resuscitate its reputation, Is Capitalism A Bad Word?

The Texas Board of Education voted today to make changes sought by conservatives in the state’s social sciences curriculum, James C. McKinley reports.

In economics, the revisions add Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, two champions of free-market economic theory, among the usual list of economists to be studied, like Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. They also replaced the word “capitalism” throughout their texts with the “free-enterprise system.”

“Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation,” said one conservative member, Teri Leo. “You know, ‘capitalist pig!’ ”

And a related post – Texas education board refuses to require religious-freedom lesson

Conservative plans to go Stalin and turn textbooks into an indoctrination rather than an education have been in the works for a while. Actual education, critical thinking skills and balance are not on the Con list of priorities. Could Texas’ Gingrich-Based High School History Curriculum Go National?

The GOP-controlled State Board of Education is working on a new set of statewide textbook standards for, among other subjects, U.S. History Studies Since Reconstruction. And it turns out what the board decides may end up having implications far beyond the Lone Star State.

The first draft of the standards, released at the end of July, is a doozy. It lays out a kind of Human Events version of U.S. history.

Approved textbooks, the standards say, must teach the Texan student to “identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly, and the Moral Majority.” No analogous liberal figures or groups are required…