Archive for May, 2009

If any of you received emails from Harry Reid during the primaries, you will recall that he referred to himself as “Give ’em hell Harry.” Well, he is really giving those Republicans hell. They have all been making a lot of noise about closing Gitmo, and about how very dangerous it would be to house those superhuman detainees in our maximum security prisons. And the detainees would be in peak physical and mental condition after years of torture and isolation.

So how does Harry respond?

REID: I’m saying that the United States Senate, Democrats and Republicans, do not want terrorists to be released in the United States. That’s very clear.

QUESTION: No one’s talking about releasing them. We’re talking about putting them in prison somewhere in the United States.

REID: Can’t put them in prison unless you release them.

QUESTION: Sir, are you going to clarify that a little bit? …

REID: I can’t make it any more clear than the statement I have given to you. We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States.

Brilliant, Harry. We knew we could count on you for both courage and clarity.

Glenn Greenwald has a great blog on the closing Gitmo debate, aka the Dumbest Moment in Congressional History, called, “Terrorists in prison: Is there anything the Right doesn’t fear?” And his tweet on Harry is perfect:

Reid’s last book was titled (absurdly) “Fighting the Good Fight.” Maybe his next one can be: “Hiding Under my Bed.”


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The health care hysteria is advancing apace. Just one week after the insurance industry promised to help Obama reduce health care costs, it is gearing up a deceitful, fear-mongering campaign to put an end to any change that helps consumers. Their particular target is a key plank in Obama’s plan, the government-sponsored health insurance option.

The usual suspects are adding supportive noise to this ugly campaign. Frank Luntz has created a number of talking points to help Republicans who are incapable of original thought. These include:

  • One size does not fit all.
  • Pay the costs you pay today for the quality of care you currently receive, OR, Pay less for your care, but potentially have to wait weeks for tests and months for treatments you need.
  • This could lead to the government setting standards of care.
  • This could lead to the government rationing care, making people stand in line and denying treatment like they do in other countries with national healthcare.
  • It’s a government takeover and Washington bureaucrats will be in charge of your health.
  • luntzknight

    Blue Cross has come up with a series of illustrative ads that outright lie about the changes proposed to the system. You can see the story boards for the ads here. My favorite one is the doctor’s receptionist taking a call for an appointment from someone with the public health insurance plan:


    This corporate fiction has been debunked again and again. Media Matters offers a point-by-point analysis of Blue Cross’s lies and hypocrisy. Here are just a few of the facts:

    1. Blue Cross’s ads imply that the public health plan won’t cover pre-existing conditions.
    Fact: It is Blue Cross that has a long history of denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    2. Blue Cross ads imply that public health plan users won’t be able to keep their own doctors.
    Fact: Obama has stated this about the public plan: “First, the rising cost of health care must be brought down; second, Americans must have the freedom to keep whatever doctor and health care plan they have, or to choose a new doctor or health care plan if they want it; and third, all Americans must have quality, affordable health care.”

    As Media Matters points out, if Blue Cross thinks the public health plan will be such a disaster, then why are they afraid to compete with it?

    Blue Cross and the Republicans and Frank Luntz hope to put themselves forward as knights in shining armor, saving the public from losing the most excellent insurance arrangements they could wish for. They are a strange new breed of knight, fighting to disallow any options at all outside those the bloated insurance industry monopolizes, and to keep millions and millions without insurance.

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    GQ magazine has discovered that Donald Rumsfeld had a bizarre habit of writing biblical passages on the cover pages of intelligence documents. He did this, apparently, to curry favor with George W. Bush. Or perhaps to manipulate him, as Olbermann and Richard Wolffe suggest.

    For example, over an image of U.S. troops in the Iraqi desert on a cover document, Rumsfeld wrote a passage from Isaiah: “Their arrows are sharp, all their bows are strung; their horses’ hoofs seem like flint, their chariot wheels are like a whirlwind.”

    This practice made intelligence officials uneasy. The article notes:

    At least one Muslim analyst in the (Pentagon) building had been greatly offended. . . . Others privately worried that if these covers were leaked during a war conducted in an Islamic nation, the fallout — as one Pentagon staffer would later say — “would be as bad as Abu Ghraib.”

    What the report failed to note was that Rumsfeld picked up the habit of using interesting quotes from President Bush. Except that Bush preferred to get his quotes from a different source:





    Bush's practice makes Cat in the hat uneasy.

    Bush's practice makes Cat in the hat uneasy.

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    Before he became head of the RNC, I only knew of Michael Steele as a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher. On the Annoying Guest Scale, he stood somewhere between David Frum and craphound Frank Luntz. But lately he has become much more entertaining.


    Steele always works hard to identify with his audience. At a recent NRA conference, he showed a keen command of talking points and an uncanny ability to add together two premises that are so factually flawed that you have to clap your hands in wonder at the leap of logic it took to create the final sum.

    Of course he repeated the NRA mantra that the government is going to take away their guns. Because you know it’s almost impossible to get your cold, dead hands on an AK-47 around here. But then he whipped his audience into a frenzy by showing them how the need for guns is more critical than ever. Echoing that brilliant statesman, Mitch McConnell, who said that Obama is going to let the Gitmo detainees–all 250 of them–run amok “in our neighborhoods,” Steele told them:

    It is ironic, to say the least, that at the same time Democrats in Congress are threatening to deny Americans their second amendment right to own a firearm and defend their families and homes, they are considering bringing terrorists like 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other Al Qaeda detainees to our communities once the President follows through on his campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay.

    Bravo, Michael Steele! When those detainees come a’creeping into our yards in the wee hours of the morning, we will all be ready, thanks to you.


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    Andrew O’Hehir has a great piece at Salon called, “Why the Original Star Trek Still Matters.” O’Hehir writes that Trek became a potent cultural force because of its “its narrative ambition, its talky, theatrical density, its high-minded moral tone, and its nerdy philosophizing.”

    Moreover, having been a Trekkie youth in the seventies, he claims a kind of intellectual, counter-culture cool for others like himself: they were “prima facie, not interested in Donny Osmond or ‘Happy Days,’ had conceivably read a book not required by teachers, and furthermore could plausibly have access to decent weed.” Weed!

    Deleted scene from Mirror, Mirror.*

    Deleted scene from Mirror, Mirror.*

    Of course, he is right. But I am biased and have to confess to a solidarity with Trekkies and appreciation for their long history. I was moved when I heard Whoopi Goldberg say how much the character of Uhuru meant to her as a child in the sixties. She told her family, “I just saw a black woman on television; and she ain’t no maid!” And when Nichelle Nichols wanted to leave the show after the first season, no less than Martin Luther King, Jr. asked her to stay on, as she was a role model for the black community. After forty-three years of Star Trek, there are many stories like this, examples of community and inspiration, from fundraising for charities by fan groups around the globe to the badass lyrics written by Trek bands like No Kill:

    Trekking through space
    Chasing some Gorn
    Fucking with the Federation
    A battle is born.
    Taken from our ships
    Our savage nature calls
    Human pitted against Gorn
    Who’s got the bigger balls?

    Can’t kill Kirk
    Green fucking jerk!
    No can do!
    Fuck you!

    Who has bigger balls?

    Who has bigger balls?

    To many people, Star Trek offers what O’Hehir calls “a tiny oasis of imaginative escape.” Maybe this has been all the more welcome to the nerdy egghead types, or the people who didn’t fit in very well, had shitty social skills, or didn’t look as great as everyone else. And this, I think, is why Spock and his later incarnations, Data and Seven of Nine, have been an enduring force in the Trekverse.

    Where House has taken certain aspects of the Sherlock Holmes character–his drug use, detachment, and misanthropy–Trek has refigured Holmes’s rationality in a different way. Spock’s leads him to be completely free of that ugly species of prejudgment that we all cannot help but engage in when we first meet someone and assess them based on speech, number or whiteness of teeth, skin, clothing, shoes, likelihood of being a serial killer, imagined intelligence, coolness, hair frizziness, nail length, pants tentness, ankle thickness, cell-phone shininess, age, size, sexual orientation, political leanings, mole placement, and so on, ad infinitum. That extraordinary quality, that we rarely see in real life outside of people like Gandhi or the Dalai Lama, is a large part of what Trek envisions for the advancement of humankind.

    And that’s why I grok Spock, and that’s why I am an unabashed Trekkie. Live long and prosper.

    * I shamelessly stole this idea from Glark’s Star War Farts series.

    Androids remember.

    Androids remember.

    cat redshirt

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    Dick Cheney has been “speaking out” all over the place since he left office. What a treat.

    Aside from trying to frighten us all by gleefully anticipating the next terrorist attack to prove that Obama isn’t keeping us safe, Cheney is taunting us with the fact that he will never pay the price for his crimes.

    An example of his mendacity, hypocrisy, and arrogance:

    I think that we are stripping ourselves of some of the capabilities that we used in order to block, if you will, or disrupt activities by al Qaeda that would have led to additional attacks. I think that’s an important debate to have. I don’t think we should just roll over when the new administration says — accuses us of committing torture, which we did not, or somehow violating the law, which we did not. I think you need to stand up and respond to that, and that’s what I’ve done.

    So what you’re saying, dick, is that Obama shouldn’t stop us from using torture, because it works. But you didn’t commit torture. And even if you did torture, it’s not against the law. Right. As Jonathan Turley said on Countdown, if all it took to get away with crimes was some lawyer writing a memo justifying them, then nothing would actually be against the law.

    Maybe he should take up a hobby or some other interest to distract him, just to give us a break from his sneering mug.

    He could drink a few beers and touch himself provocatively.

    Or better yet, he could unite with his long-time love.

    If he prefers outdoor activities, he could molest a few statues

    or he could taunt us with funny insults.

    He would probably enjoy becoming a Borg for fun and domination.

    Maybe he could get himself arrested on some minor charge like shoplifting, just to give us the satisfaction of seeing him hauled off in handcuffs.

    Now go and boil your bottoms, Dick. You don’t frighten us with your silly knees-bent running around advancing behavior!

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    From icanhascheezburger.

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