Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Books over the Transom and other strange doings

Slowly but surely there are works that are emerging arguing again for a renewal of a public sector. The public sector has been eviscerated by the adoption of so-called free market proposals and the privatization of services from security to prisons to our public school system. One of the charges against the Obama Administration by Mitt Romney is that it lacks any CEOs on its economic team.

In a 2009 publication by the Harvard Business Review, Paul Krugman addresses this point in a small essay entitled "A Country is not a Company". The title is more promising than the text but Krugman explains what economists know and why successful business leaders are incapable of understanding the complexities of a national economy. He uses the example of international trade, a subject on which he is an expert, to demonstrate why countries attracting massive international investment inevitably run up large deficits. The country that serves to prove his point was Mexico, which ran trade surpluses when investment was low, and had the crippling Peso crisis in the 1990s when foreign investment was high. Hsi basic point is that the complexity of a national economy is a quantum leap from the operations of even the largest American corporation. As a side note, he warns about CEOs getting involved in politics because they do not know the intricacies of policy debates and that the very virtues that made them successful such as intuition and risk-taking are counter to the needs of the poltical system.

In Diane Ravitch's book she conducts an autopsy on Mike Bloomberg's reform plan for the New York City's public school system. He hired someone who was a success in business but who had no experience in the field of education. The goal was to elevate the test-scores among the high school students without taking into consideration the demographics of the student body. Consequently, Bloomberg dissolved large high schools and created scores of charter schools, which were self-selecting and neglected the poorest students. Even so, the test scores took a one year bounce and then suddenly fell below the scores of normal high schools. She also does an analysis of how the San Diego school system, which was highly rated, opted for reform and hired another success in business to work with the large foundations to reshape the already successful school system. The end result was a failing school system. The quote my wife likes, since she is undergoing many of the same testing impulses at a Charter School in Washington,D.C. is "We should be data informed and not data driven." The long and short of it is that education encompasses more than math and reading tests and that countries who excel in both teach a complete education.

$14 trillion on private weath vanished in the United States in 2008 and another $12 trillion was added to the national deficit, which did not exist prior to the presidency of George W. Bush. Today, Americans live less longer than Bosnians and slightly longer than Albanians. The disparity of wealth in the United States is slightly more than the develping country of China. We are now 12th in basic innovations in science and technology. Yet we are number 1 in the number of people incarcerated.

Writers are now beginning to talk out loud that something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today. For the last thirty years we have made a virtue out of the pursuit of material self-interest. According to some,this very pursuit now constitutes whatever remains of our sense of collective purpose. The uncritical admiration of unfettered markets and disdain for the public sector have led to a situation where we know what things cost but no longer have any idea what they are worth.

In December 2009, Tony Judt wrote an essay in the New York Review of Books where he argued for a return to social democracy. The article brought such a response, particularly younger people, that he has enlarged his original essay into a very perceptive and timely book Ill Fares The Land (Penguin, 2010). He reviews how the world dealt with the Great Depression and adopted a social market system in both Europe and the United States. He analyzes the broad consensus that existed until the late 1970s in the United States at least for a regulated economy and a robust public sector complimented by a social welfare system. He basically puts blame for the deterioration of this consensus on the Baby Boomers both the New Left and the New Right. The book is particularly cogent in its analysis of the gutting of the United Kingdom by Margaret Thatcher and even later Tony Blair. In the United States, I felt he was particularly smart to observe how the rise of the New Right depended for its force and its eventual credibility on its critique of the New Left. This is particularly true today when you realize that most conservative arguments refer to the prehistoric history of the 1960s.

Judt calls for a dialogue on our national purpose and idea of the common good. Where he goes beyond liberalism is his embrace of a social democratic view on how progressive taxation can bring a social security to the public and how larger social goals and projects can be accomplished. Judt loses me in his minute discussions of smaller social democratic governments in Europe. But he initiates a dialogue well worth having.

Yesterday President Obama signed into law the reform of the student loan program. In essence, he withdrew the subsidies from the private banks and restored administration of the program to the Department of Education. One of the key elements of the program is to cap the repayment of the loans to 10% of one's income when students are starting out in life. The expansion of the program is aimed at supporting students in community colleges and public universities. For example, a student I know who can not afford college despite getting accepted at a state university could finance four years at $20,000 or less at a subsidized interest rate. While the rest of us were watching our retirements disappear, the younger generation was accumulating educational debt in the neighborhood of $50,000 without any prospects for employment. If the baby boomers were forced to prostpone retirement, another generation was starting life with an impossible debt burden.

I naively thought that after the health care bill passed that things would get less contentious. Instead, we are back at it again. President Obama announced subsidies for nuclear energy and the opening of coastal waters for oil exploration. What was perceived as a clever act of triangulation, accepting Republican ideas, for the chance of passing his energy bill was met with another "Hell No" from John Boehner who blasted the President for not going far enough.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that when I had money I invested in oil and gas wells and keep abreast of the oil debate. According to people I know in the industry, if you opened up all the territories the oil companies wanted to drill in, you would net the equivalent of one year of America's oil consumption. That's it. In addition, oil is traded on the world market unlike natural gas. There would be no appreciable cut in oil prices with the expansion of oil production in the United States. It's not even clear whether the oil would be consumed here since we prefer the quality of oil produced in Angola and the Gulf of Guinea. Our Alaskan oil is shipped the Japan. During the last campaign when Sarah Palin urged,"Drill, Baby, Drill", no one ever challenged the assumptions of the arguments for increased oil exploration. President Obama knows this so it's incredible to see that his compromise has met with such hostility from the Republicans. That don't know any better but still won't budge.

The last of the Hutaree militia was captured. The leader not only was going to fight the anti-Christ but was a Ron Paul fanatic who started to adopt the whole "sovereign citizen" idea from the white supremacists. His wife said she was radicalized because President Obama was going to spend millions to re-settle Hamas into the United States, a rumor circulated on the internet without any relationship to reality. Since they opposed the government, it was only natural that they asked for public defenders.

Watching the teabaggers at Spotlight, Nevada in that windblown, dry landscape, it dawned on me that they were like the native Americans who participated in the Ghost Dance. In the late 19th century after losing their territory, the native Americans had visions that if they had a Ghost Dance the bisons would return and the white people would vanish. It all came to a tragic end with the capture and assassination of Crazy Horse. You get some of that vibe here with the Don't Tread on me flags waving in the breeze and the RVs lined up like horses.

To get a grip on all this, I'm going to read Nell Irving Painter's The History of White People (Norton, 2010). Since I'm of the freckle race, I have no horse in this. In fact, people of Celtic origins were not considered white until the 19th century, even though people like my family were grandfathered in because they arrived in the United States in colonial times. But we made it into whiteness slightly before the Italians, Jews and other "Mediterranean types". What began as a simple question "Why are white people called caucausian?" is a 500-page scholarly tome on whiteness. Stephen Colbert asked Dr. Painter whether he was white. She said she didn't really know. His response was "Of course I am I have all the Jimmy Buffet records." She conceded his point. Under race for the Census, I just entered "cool" but many of my Iranian-American friends had a problem. Their parents entered "white" because they wanted to "belong" while they wanted to list "Iranian-American". Hopefully, the book will give us some answers.

A Washington Post poll the other day revealed an interesting breakdown on how the Americans viewed both parties on about 12 issues. Despite other polls indicating that generic Republicans have a 3-4 pt lead on generic Democrats for the mid-terms, I found the Post poll interesting about "Who do you trust?" Democrats had about a 5% lead on virtually every issue, except fighting terrorism. Republicans still have a lead of about 7% on being the best to fight terrorism. However, on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Democrats have the lead by a significant margin.

Republican donors are rebelling about the Voyeur sex club scandal. The donor who went to the club is a young donor who is very active in conservative causes and "in the ministry of his church". After firing the woman who heads the Young Eagles program, they decided to close the program for rich Generation Xers until further notice. Focus on Your Family's spokesperson Tony Perkins called for a boycott of the RNC. Republican money is being spread among Senator DeMint's own Senate campaign committee, the teabaggers, the Club of Growth and a myriad other conservative fronts. While Michael Steele managed to raise $102 million for the first quarter, he also spent $115 million putting the Republicans in a hole for their anticipated run for power in 2010. Sarah Palin's targeting of Democrats who voted for the healthcare bill has been a fund-raising boon for Democrats.

Earlier today I spoke to Bob Tyrrell, the publisher of the American Spectator, and told him the pressure is now on him to produce a book that makes conservatives look thoughtful and serious because I said I can't see anyone from where I sit. So next week his book comes out.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Coming Insurrection

Some wonder what Michael Steele's "safe word" was.

Well, Bill Kristol says the Russians deserved the metro bombing, Ed Koch lambasts the Obama Administration for its mistreatment of Israel and Norman Podhoretz defends Sarah Palin. No wonder the world looks on us believes we're crazy. Because we are.

Glenn Beck said he had read a book he called "the most evil thing I have ever read." Since any book mentioned by Glenn Beck is bought for our local Barnes & Noble store, I thought I would check this out. Lo and Behold, I discover my old friends of Semiotext(e), which publishes French anarchist philosphers who use their precise Cartesian logic to argue the most balmy things. Their best title was "Why the Gulf War Never Happened", which proved beyond any reasonable doubt--as long as you bought their logic--that it really didn't happen. I love reading their titles because it cleanses my mental palate.

The title of the most "evil book" is The Coming Insurrection, written by the Invisible Committee. As the blurb on the back warns," It's useless to wait--for a breakthrough, for the revolution, the nuclear apocalypse or a social movement. To go on waiting is madness. The catastrophe is not coming, it is here. We are already situated within the collapse of a civilization. It is within this reality that we must choose sides."

I suppose Beck believes this is an ultra-left manifesto that the progressive democrats are going to adopt. Unfortunately for the authors, the French authorities arrested them on November 11,2008, in the village of Tarnac. They have been accused of 'criminal association for the purposes of terrorist activity on the grounds that they were to have participated in the sabotage of overhead electrical lines on France's national railways. Although only circumstantial evidence has been presented against the nine, the French Interior Minister has publically associated them with the emergent threat of an "ultra-left" movement, taking care to single out The Coming Insurrection as a "manual for terrorism".

The book begins with a new chapter penned by the men from prison concerning the continued world crisis.They talk about the youth forming communes to confront the state and other fun things some of us remember. While the called themselves "Communists", it's clear from the book they are anarchists and deliberately mock the idea of organization and institutions as instruments of social control.

Good luck if you want to use this book to launch terrorist attacks. The book reads as if it's written by smart Yippies, who also were smart. Who can ever forget the great Yippie campaign button "Papoose for Not Insane"?

No wonder this stuff sends Beck over the wall. Take this" The West is a civilization that has survived all prophecies of its collapse with a singular stratagem. ..the West has sacrificed itself as a particular civilization in order to impose itself as a universal culture. The operation can be summarized like this: an entity in its death throes sacrifices itself as a content in order to survive as a form."

They have long riffs on the meaning of all the riots in France that burned the cars and how the only reality is the MP-3 player and changing your interior reality by altering the playlist. They sound like they would be a great rock band.

I leave you with this passage:

"There is no 'clash of civilizations'. There is a clinically dead civilization kept alive by all sorts of life-support machines that spread a peculiar plague into the planet's atmosphere. At this point it can no longer believe in a single one of its own "values", and any affirmation of them is considered an impudent act, a provocation that should and must be taken apart,deconstructed, and returned to a state of doubt. Today Western imperialism is the imperialism of relativism, of the "It all depends on your point of view";it's the eye-rolling or wounded indignation at anyone's who's stupid, primitive or presumptuous enough to still believe in something, to affirm anything at all. You can see the dogmatism of constant questioning give its complicit wink of the eye everywhere in the universities and among the literary intelligentsias. No critique is too radical among postmodernist thinkers, as long as it maintains this total absence of certitude. A century ago, scandal was identified with any particularly unruly and raucous negation, while today it's found in any affirmation that fails to tremble.

No social order can base itself for long on the principle that nothing is true. Yet it must be made secure."

Ah,to be young again! Hope the authors get out of jail soon. They have a bright future.

The Police Gazette-Monday Edition

Michael Steele spent the morning trying to explain how the RNC spent $1,900 at a LA Club The Voyeur, which specalizes in bondage acts and imitation lesbian performances. His underling responded," You have to spend money to make money", which was soon drown out by protests from donors. Michael Steele is trying to say he didn't go there but his bills for a Beverly Hills Hotel suggests he was around there at the time. Ah, those family values. Some wag proposed that strip clubs be named "The GOP Precinct".

The FBI arrested a man, claiming to be "the son of the God of Enoch", for threatening to kill Eric Cantor. The man was a donor to the Obama campaign, which made headlines, but no one mentioned his videos attacking the President, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Supporters of Harry Reid allegedly threw eggs at the Teabagger busses at Spotlight, Nevada and were said by teabaggers to be threatening violence. Compared to the real Woodstock, which drew 500,000, the conservative version only drew 8,000.

Before I describe what the indictments say about the charges against the militia people in yesterday's raids, some early reactions give you a flavor of the times. The Free Republic commentators say that the government was trespassing on private property. The charges are all government agitprop. "Democrats will murder more innocent civilians", referring to Waco and Ruby Ridge. Freepers said that the people "were arrested for thought crimes" and this was "armed suppression of dissent". Another commentator said that Obama was now going after Christian conservatives. "The war on Middle America has now begun!"

Bryan Fischer, a spokeperson for The American Family Association, a Christian political group, said, "The American people are overwhelmingly opposed to the implementation of Mussolinicare. It is heavy-handed and repressive and is a worse form of oppression than any the Crown imposed on the colonies in the 1770s." He cited James Madison and called for "armed revolution." P.S. John Adams mandated that sailors had to have private health insurance in the 1790s.

The sponsors of the" Bring Your Guns to Washington" rally on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing put out a nifty video calling the government agents "thugs" and over images of Waco urged everyone to BUY GUNS NOW. It called on "No more B.S. Raids on "Christian" militias. Ant it said that Americans are not going down without a fight. The government can't defeat the American patriot because of the constitution."

Another video by a Texas militiaman seemed more influenced by Ron Paul than anything. He ranted about the New World Order, bankers and the Federal Reserve. He said that God warned Americans not to worship Idols. He said that,"We don't play games and you will be dealt with." He called for guerrilla warfare.

Patriot Resistance. Com and Militia Radio said that all the militias are mobilizing and that America is a righteous nation and will not ignore these actions. One militia commander told his audience to stock up on food and water if an emergency occurs. " This thing can go anywhere." Militia Radio said that one of the captured militia men was in a hospital in Michigan because he had been "tortured". He claimed that torture was the reality of Amerika. The broadcaster said he had received several calls from the wives of the captured men, who were concerned because there were children at home. He claimed that the government agents "attacked" people at a funeral for one of the militia men. He did admit what I noticed yesterday--their broadcasts and e-mails had been down 70% yesterday. He claimed that militia men photographed Homeland Security agents as they conducted these raids. He said that the news reports were just propaganda by the federal government to prepare for the real attack on the militias. he blamed the ADL and the Obama regime for this situation.

Before my mind dissolved, I watched another militia video. This one was a treat. This listed the demands of the militia movement. They asked all 50 governors to immediately declare that the states would immediately adopt "de jure" common law. They have 72 hours to comply or be replaced immediately. All mortgage foreclosures must stop and all property taxes be cancelled. There will be a new monetary unit introduced and the Federal Reserve will be abolished. The IRS will only exist until next February. They urged everyone not to file their 1040s with the IRS unless you expect a refund. Everyone is to withdraw all their funds from retirement accounts. They called on federal agents to go after Mexican gangs and Muslims, not Christians. They said that President Obama wants to create a national I.D. card and that this will be known as "the mark of the beast" and lead to a "powder keg explosion". The video ends with a slogan "No More Wacos". The video ended with shots of police wearing shoulder badges of the Obama campaign logo.

What's in the Indictments? 9 members of the Hutaree militia were indicted for an assortment of charges, including sedition, for plotting to kill a Michigan police officer and then planning to stage an attack on the other officers attending the funeral. This plot began in August 2008 and the final preparations were conducted as an exercise on February 20, 2010. The group planned to blow up vehicles in the funeral procession with "improvised explosive devices" and "explosively formed projectiles". Members of the group viewed local, state and federal law enforcement as the 'brotherhood" or their enemies.

David Brian Stone aka "R.D." aka "Joseph Stonewall" received information about explosives over the Internet and e-mailed diagrams of the devices to a person believed capable of assembling them. According to authorities, these devices constituted "weapons of mass destruction". Last June, Mr. Stone taught members of the group how to make IEDs. Currently, one of the group is a fugitive.

The group has been charged with "seditious conspiracy" "weapons of mass destruction" and a host of weapons charges, which would bring life in prison. We shouldn't forget the bust of the neo-Nazi in Maine who had all the makings of a dirty nuclear bomb in his basement. The plot was only thwarted because his wife, who had been physically abused by him, ratted him out.

Some of the arrests did take place at a funeral for one of the militia members. This is the act that provoked the firestorm of reaction from the militia network.

What I'm still puzzled by is what was the killing of alot of police officers supposed to do. Was it supposed to start a revolution, an insurrection? The alternative plot was just as strange. They were going to shoot a random policeman at a traffic sign and then ambush his friends as they rushed to rescue him. I am sure we are missing something here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Days of Tribulation

The FBI raids throughout the Midwest appear to be linked to a Christian-based militia group whose website is , which claims they are training to fight alongside Christ in the battle with the anti-Christ. They target American Muslim groups and believe the time of tribulations from the Book of Revelations has arrived. In their mission statement, they say they are "preparing for the end-time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive." Their camo covered website also advertises that they consider themselves to be citizens of the Colonial Christian Republic.

According to preliminary reports, over 47 people have been arrested. The raids in Ohio were in Sandusky, Toledo, and Huron; in Indiana in Hammond ; and in Michigan in Adrian. One person arrested in Ohio was permitted a phone call and said he was " being held for trying to overthrow the government". Another said,"they completely ransacked my house." Others said it was "like a small army had descended on them."

Most militia websites were distancing themselves from the action and downplaying the importance of this group. Others noted that militia websites were down most of the day as these raids continued. However, the former chief of the Alabama Militia and now teabagger provocateur Mike Vanderboegh, said the government "just handed us Fort Sumter and kicked off the next American civil war." Mr. Mike is the one encouraging acts of vandalism against all the Democrats who voted for healthcare. I can't wait until he convenes his "Bring Your Arms to Washington" rally at neighboring Fort Hunt Park on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

One e-mail exchange today involved one of the participants in Michigan. "He was packing up his LBE and weaspons into an armored truck and asked his wife to bring the congregation together to say a prayer for the militia. They were going to war on Sunday."

One tends to forget the rash of violent right-wing actions since the election of Barack Obama--the burning down of a black church in Massachusetts, the killing of police officers in Pittsburgh by a man who believed Obama was going to take away his guns, the assassination plots against Obama by militia men, and the killing of the guard at the Holocaust Museum. That's just to name a few.

So far, there has not been but the briefest public statements by the FBI and local police departments have refused comments to the local press. A statement from Michigan law enforcement authorities claim the raids were not terrorism-related.

Cherry Blossom Time

The Japanese ambassador kicked off the Cherry Blossom Fesival here by saying that with all the snow he thought he would have to 'deem and pass" the festival. A real wiseguy.

The FBI claims the raids on the militia were to thwart a plot to sell pipebombs through the Midwest. Seems alot of firepower for that purpose. Tea Baggers should have avoided posting on their blog that the raid was at a Tea Party Compound. That raises more questions about the whole affair.

David Frum had said"... and now we work for Fox News." I'm sure he didn't mean it literally. But the RNC sent me an e-mail request to buy Sean Hannity's book on how to stop the Obama agenda. Hmmm.

Right-wing e-mail of the day was an article explaining how the health insurance mandates would not apply to Muslims. The author dutifully listed opinions from various mullahs about the Quran's view of health insurance (all negative.).

President Obama left town today to drop in on President Kazai in Kabul. Kazai only found out about it an hour before the President landed. Obama was said to have read Karzai the riot act about promises he had not fulfilled. The Free Republic did a mock announcement that "Press Secretary Gibbs would not confirm or deny whether Obama will have a meeting with Osama bin Laden." Another Freeper posted a veiled assassination threat against the President.

"I may be skinny but I'm tough." President Obama was under constant pressure from Dimtry Medvedev to change the Start treaty. Moscow analysts said that the Kremlin believed that Obama was weak and facing massive internal opposition to his presidency and therefore could be pressured to make more concessions. Unfortunately for Medvedev, the President said "a deal is a deal but I can understand if you walk away from it." Moscow decided not to walk.

Next up--Financial Reform is scheduled to be enacted by Memorial Day. Meanwhile Senator Lindsey Graham is moaning that President Obama hasn't told him his views on immigration reform. He claims he can't sign onto Chuck Schumer's bill until he knows what the President thinks. Seems to me special pleading for a White House meeting.

Nate "the Great "Silver claims that there is both good news and ot so good news for Democrats in polling after health care reform. Approval for Democrats, among Democrats, got a boost as well as a sharp rise in approval from independents. He attributes this more to the perception that the Democrats are perceived as getting things done than approval for the bill itself. On the other side, approval for Republicans among Republicans has sky-rocketed. Silver claims the mid-terms come down to two different ways of perceiving Congress and that the winner depends on which frame dominates.

President Obama made 15 recess appointments over the threats of GOP Senators. The most controversial was Craig Becker, the labor lawyer for the ACLU and SEIU, to the National Labor Relations Board. Becker's appointment was bitterly opposed by the Chamber of Commerce and the Republicans. Now the Democrats have the majority on the NLRB.

Mike Huckabee made the mistake of asking Jim Baker on Fox to discuss the Israeli settlements. This is not the man to have as a guest to defend Israel as Huckabee soon found out. Baker explained the American policy toward the Middle East and said that disputes with Israel occurred from time to time. Then Huckabee said that how could Obama object to Israel building settlements on Jewish land. Then Baker went steely and said abruptly," That's not Jewish land. That's land that would go to the state of Palestine." The interview ended shortly thereafter. Earlier in the year, Huckabee travelled to Jerusalem and publically supported Israel's planned settlements.

Apparently, the Obama Administration has reopened the investigation of the death of an Afghan militant at the hands of the CIA in 2002. Gul Rahman, a 30-year old suspected militant of the Hezb-e-Islamic Gulbuddin, was apprehended by the CIA in Kabul and sent to the Salt Pit "secret prison" northeast of the capitol. Salt Pit had been an abandoned brick factory the CIA converted into a prison with small cells. Gul Rahman was stripped naked and hung from the ceiling for several hours at a time. CIA agents would take him down and jump on his stomach. Left half-naked, the prison was freezing and he apparently died of hypothermia. His death at the time triggered an investigation of the CIA's methods of enhanced interrogation and the establishment of some rules. The CIA agent in charge of the Salt Pit was a new recruit on his first assignment abroad, a theme that runs through all the torture stories. The CIA investigator concluded that Gul Rahman was not deliberately killed and a Virginia Court refused to press charges. This is one of the cases that Eric Holder alluded to early in the Obama Administration that occurred before the torture memos had been written. The sooner some punitive measures are taken against personnel involved in these acts the better for the United States.

"Obama is destroying the America I knew as a boy." said a Teabagger in his 60s. There are alot of answers to this but it underlines what Frank Rich wrote today about "the national existential reordering". This is explained in the study I cited yesterday-- Bob Atemeyer's "the Authoritarians", which examines the group mind of the right-wing male. Written in 2007, Dr. Atemeyer added a postscript after Barack Obama's election that there would be several years of turbulence from now on because the rigidity of the right-wing white male can not accept a change in the political assumptions of the country. The new rightwinger that emerged in the Bush years believes he is in sole possession of the "absolute truth" and will not tolerate debate or discussion about this. In some ways, Atemeyer predicted the total obstructionism from the GOP to any of Obama's initiatives. That's why 9/11 is a talisman for the radical right. It's used to justify an entire political worldview.

The Day Breaks

And the black helicopter crowd get their wish. Late last night and early this morning, the FBI, Homeland Security and the Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted raids in Washtenaw and Lenawee counties in Michigan aimed at Hutaree, a Christian-oriented militia. Neighbors said "it looks like an invasion." Helicopters patrolled the skies at night. The Free Republic bloggers linked to the militia movement claimed the FBI had warrants for militia leaders in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Another blogger chimed in that the FBI was also moving for arrests of militiamen in East and West Texas. Local news stations only reported the outlines of the raid and said that the FBI had several sealed warrants. Other observers said that the target was a militia training camp.

Clearly, news of the raid has put the extreme right on alert. Freepers called the FBI "Holder's Goon Squad" and accused the agency of agitating violence throughout the country. Another right-wing blogger referred people to Hal Turner and the "Turner Diaries", which is a bible for the militia movement. This represented for them " the ominous rise of the secret police".

Meanwhile teabaggers are saying that "a revolution is something that has tradeoffs" and would be just kept in their back pocket.

Glenn Beck claims the government needs "the teabaggers to be nuts". He told his audience that the radicals in the Obama Administration remember when the FBI stimulated violence and now they are doing the same. He blamed the DCCC and the DNC for 'dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon." He urged his audience to avoid violence and just pray for miracles.

The World Net Daily proclaimed that 55% of Americans believe their civil liberties are being threatened by the Obama Administration and that one in four Americans now censor their throughts.

The Free Republic has now turned against Sarah Palin for endorsing "McAmnesty", the RINO (Republican In Name Only). They quoted her saying that she agreed with McCain on the immigrant issue--what position he now takes I don't know. Freepers claim that an Immigration Bill will mean the end of "The Great American Experiment." They attacked Palin as someone who places loyalty over principle and acts like another normal politician.

Frank Rich has a persuasive op-ed in today's New York Times saying that it didn't matter whether it had been a healthreform bill, or immigration reform, or cap-and-trade the anger would have been the same. Rich says we are undergoing the "same kind of national existential reordering that rocked America in 1964" with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. He points to the demographic change ,which has been in the works for some time, but is being revealed everyday from the majority of non-white school students to the increase in non-white births. The older white population feels threatened by these tectonic shifts.

A Quinnipiac poll of teabaggers revealed that they mirror the demographics of those who voted for McCain-Palin in 2008 and that 90% of teabaggers identify with the Republican party. The dominant voting block for McCain was white males, who had little or no college education, and were over 50 years old.

The New York Times also did an in-depth piece of teabaggers, which inadvertantly showed that many were unemployed, received social security disability or were on social security. When President Obama went to Iowa City to discuss the healthcare legislation, I was struck that the most vociferous protestor was a while male , who was 62 and unemployed. He was struggling to support two teen-aged daughters. He could see no relationship to the healthcare bill and his station in life. Interestingly, Senator Sanders of Vermont had proposed that all those people aged 55 or over, who were unemployed, should be eligible for Social Security now. This simple manuever would defuse some of the current rage and anger.

Paul Krugman, whom I'm beginning to feel sorry for, patiently explains again today why the huge debt problem can be solved rather simply. Of course, it requires the increase in government revenues, hence a very modest increase in taxes. He cites the CBO report about the prospects for the American deficit in the year 2020. This report has been blarring on the Drudge Report and all the right-wing blogs. As Krugman points out, this forecast depends on the United States doing nothing about it and that his modest solution would still leave America with some of the lowest tax rates in the world. However, with the current political climate, the deficit issue will be exacerbated by polarization and the ideological conflict over our own social welfare system.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

"John McCain was a War Hero ...and a Space Man"

At the Tucson rally, Sarah Palin sported her black leather Emma Peel sex outfit and John McCain looked like Popeye in an S&M parlor. Sadly, McCain looked like grandpa when you have to watch him before he wanders off somewhere. Sarah Palin pronounced "We are all teabaggers now." Sort of reminds me when McCain said, "We are all Georgians now" when he wanted to liberate South Ossetia. Now the former Presidential candidate is dependent on the star power of his understudy to win the Republican primary. McCain right now is only four points ahead and would be losing if the Minutemen didn't have their own candidate. Both McCain and Palin emphasized that the Republicans were the party of "Hell No". But it was nice of Sarah to say that John was a space man--maybe she should have said space cadet.

Newt Gingrich said that America is in a similar situation as in the 1850s before civil war broke out. It's interesting that he didn't mention that George W. Bush resembles in stature James Buchanan.

A Marine Sgt. "C" wrote a scathing blog chastising teabaggers for suggesting civil war. He detailed his own training and asked whether any of the teabaggers were in the same shape. He also recalled what happens to communities and towns during any civil war and listed the armaments he and his colleagues would bring to bear on them. He also reminded them that he took an oath to protect the Constitution and that once they declared their insurgency they were no longer civilians but "the enemy". He told them to get a life and that sometimes in politics you win and sometimes you lose.

John Boehner sent out a money-raising saying that the Obama Administration wants "to import foreign terrorists to our communities and give them the same rights Americans have."

Commandante Steele rejected a "civility statement" offered by DNC Tim Kaine. He said Democrats would use it against Republicans and that he would consider it in his own time. This reminds me of something alot of us do in emerging democracies. We try to get all competing parties to agree to a Code of Conduct so as to restrain extreme behavior. It's too bad that it has come to this in the United States.

Roger Ailes warned the staff at Fox News, who criticize Glenn Beck, to stop "shooting in the tent". He referred to Beck as a member of the family and all members of the family should be respected.

There was another assassination attempt against an Arkansas congressman who voted for healthcare.

Teabaggers, along with Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber, descended on Spotlight , Nevada for a "Conservative Woodstock" "without the LSD". The town of 700 looked forward to the tourist trade. The some 7,000 people were protesting Harry Reid, who lives there. He issued a statement that it was "gratifying for him to now realize he himself could be the key to Nevada surviving its current hard times."

ONE REPUBLICAN REMAINS SANE: Senator Richard Lugar came out in favor of the New Start Treaty. Senator Lugar promised that he and Senator John Kerry will speed up the hearings on it so that it could be ratified quickly. Watch this space to see whether the GOP has gone completely bonkers if they resist ratification. The treaty allows both the United States and Russia to pressure Iran over its nuclear program and to jointly work on stopping nuclear proliferation by other countries.

While Congress has criticized Obama's treatment of Bibi, the President gave the Israeli leader until late today to response to his requests. As I wrote yesterday, the timing of the pressure has everything to do with the Arab League meeting and this New Start Treaty. If Israel agrees to talks with the Palestianians it strengths the pro-American Arab countries in their confrontations with pro-Iranian forces. Together with a new nuclear treaty, it puts Tehran in a diplomatic box for the time being.

North Korea says that after sinking the South Korean ship yesterday that next time there will be a nuclear attack.

Charles Cook still thinks Republicans will pick up 40 seats in the House. But everyone agrees that the GOP fund-raising plea that they will repeal healthcare is a mirage and they know it.

Obamacan Frank Schaeffer doesn't believe this. Writing on the FireDogLake website in a piece entitled "Republicans: Violent Losers", he says that the pundits have it all wrong. He says that the Republicans are about to pay a historic price for the biggest miscalculation in American history since Charles Lindberg sided with the Germans. He says he is telling his reality-based friends that the Democratic Party will retain the majority in both houses of Congress and that Obama will win a second term. He says that the Republican Party is in the grip of its own propaganda and that it has committed the ultimate act of political folly--believing their own BS.

"The leaderless Republican Party--or should I say the dwindling rabble of reactionaries who still identify themselves as Republicans--is not just politically leaderless; they are also morally leaderless. This, speaking metaphorically, is a lynch mob in the making. And they have just lost a big fight in our congress. What will they do next?

Why do the Republican leadership allow this mob to rule? Because they have no choice.

The Republican leadership have literally gotten in bed with hate. And like all such bargains with the devil it was easier to begin their relationship with rube America than to end it.

...Either way: be it the next right wing act of domestic terror or the realization by the American public that the Republicans are plain wrong on the facts; the Republicans are on their way down.

They have made a historic miscalculation on health care reform. They have embraced a group of potentially violent and always embarrassing fellow travelers . The American peoplemay have been confused about the facts but they soon won't be. And most Americans are not hate-filled people who applaud other Americans spitting on congressmen or throwing bricks through office windows --or worse to come."

Tell us what you think, Frank. Frank Schaeffer is a prior lifetime c0-founded the Religious Right in the United States.

Lee Fang on the website Think Progress analyzes all the ways Republicans and their operatives cash in on teabaggers "Tea Party Profiteers: How Republican Operatives Are Exploiting Economic Anxiety For Power, Cash". \ ,the website of Political Research Associates, challenges the "centrist/ extremist theory" that explains right-wing populism. This theory arrived in 1955 with the publication of essays edited by Daniel Bell entitled The New American Right. In short, this theory sees all dissident movements of the left and the right as composed of outsiders--politically marginal people who have no connection to the mainstream electoral system or nodes of government or corporate power. Social and economic stress snaps these psychologically-fragile people into a mode of irrational political hysteria , and as they embrace an increasingly paranoid style they make militant and unreasonable demands to defend their social and economic status. Because they are unstable ,they can become dangerous and violent. The solution prescribed by centrist/extremist theory is to marginalize the dissidents as radicals and dangerous religious political extremists. Their grievances and demands need not be taken seriously. Furthermore, law enforcement can then be relied upon to break up any criminal conspiracies by subersives who threaten the social order.

The writer complains that this is a status-quo oriented frame of reference that too often dismisses dissidents of all stripes. The new paradigm for analysis began in the 1970s, which said that most of this people were not joining right-wing populist movements because they were acting out personal pathology, but out of anger and desparation. The articles goes on to describe the world-view that fuels these movements and explains why combating them requires a totally different strategy from the one suggested by Bell. The article reminds me of the book "The Eliminationists".

A 2007 study on authoritarianism explained the evolution of the Republican party into the repressive, authoritarian party it became. What is so interesting is that while the psychology of right-wing populism and the Republican Party overlap quite a bit, there is a basic and fundamental conflict that can not be resolved. I believe you will see this conflict break out in the open as the year moves ahead.

I recommend Jane Mayer's review of Marc Thiessen's torture book in the new New Yorker. As one suspects, everything he writes about the CIA torture program is a lie and she eviscerates him chapter and verse.

CONGRATULATIONS TO DIANE RAVITCH. She has written the most important book on public educationin many a year and how it is being destroyed. Even though she may have wavered into heresy during her days supporting Leave No Child Behind, a small "d" democrat ultimately never abandons their fundamental principles. She does a remarkable job in detailing the history of all the education reform proposals since the 1980s and details how the "billionaire boys' club" of foundations are destroying public education by applying the principles of market reform to a public good. She also channels her old friendship with Al Shanker to elucidate what we are educating children for. "The Death and Life of the Great American School System" is a powerful indictment of the reforms initiated by George W. Bush and continued through Arne Duncan under President Obama. I hope she stirs up a big debate.

Friday, March 26, 2010

More Afternoon Delights

Orly Taitz, the Queen of the Birthers, is trying to get her birther suit attached to the case being brought by the Republican attorney-generals against the healthcare bill. We wish her the best of luck.

The teabaggers are going to hold their own 'Woodstock" with Sarah Palin in Spotlight, Nevada, the hometown of Harry Reid. There is no word yet whether they're going to visit John Ensign's hometown or his mistress.

100 Christians led by Jim Wallis and Charles Colson have signed a "civility covenant" to try and bring the political debate down to earth.

Tom Coburn again attempts greatness. Through his efforts, the Senate managed to end its session for the break by denying an extension of unemployment benefits. Coburn wins the Jim Bunning award.

Oklahoma has saved us. The legislature passed a law prohibiting the recognition of sharia law or any other international law in the state.

Alan Grayson asked Eric Cantor to resign from office, claiming he is responsible for whipping up the fear and the threats of violence. Apparently, the 5-year old son of Congressman Grayson was threatened.

Kentucky doesn't want to remove its "Hell is Real" billboard across from an adult book and film store. Because a judge has ruled this is a form of advertisement, Jim Bunning's state may lose $43 million in federal highway funds.

The fallout of the Dave Frum firing continues. Apparently, the donors to AEI cut off funding for his position. Bruce Barlett, a former Reagan official and George W. Bush economist, said that adherence to conservative principles is no longer important but that the GOP demands "absolute subservience". Barlett should know because he had been fired for writing a book critical of George W. from a conservative perspective. Charles Murray, who claims to have been a long-time friend with the Frums, publically declared today their friendship dead saying that what Frum did was "unforgiveable". What he did was being critical of the tactical choices made by Republicans-- nothing else.

One whopper that will escape notice today was Karl Rove appearing on CNN to say he opposed Cheney being made the vice presidential nominee to George W. Bush. While he may have made the arguments against as required of an adviser going through a list of names, it was Rove who brought around the evangelical vote because Cheney was the one who could guarantee it. Certainly, Karl knew this all along.

Steve Colbert had the Jesuit who criticized Glenn Beck on his show. Colbert joked him on and then said what if Glenn Beck were made Pope. The Jesuit didn't miss a beat,"Then I would take Mr. Beck's advice and leave the church." On the same show, Mary Matalin appeared, sporting a huge Cross, which got Colbert's attention. He started in on the social gospel and Mary said that Jesus said that if you don't work, you don't eat. Colbert objected saying that Jesus said,"become a fisher of men" , which isn't the same thing. And so it goes.

The Department of Justice released its report that the United States has convicted 403 people of terrorism since 2001. So far, none have escaped custody to terrorize innocent Americans.

Senator Dodd reports that bank reform will be up the second week of April. We already know progressives' objections to the bill but we haven't heard a peep from the right.

Coining a nice phrase: McVeigh Republicans.

Friday Coffee--Zimbabwe

It may be the day Curtis Le May cried. The United States and Russia reached their first major arms deal in 20 years. They announced 1/3rd cuts in nuclear arsenals, leaving each side with 1,550--still enough to blow up the world several times. President Obama and Medevev will sign the treaty in Prague and I am sure it will not be passed by the Senate.

Bin Laden released one of his lamest radio tapes yet. He warned the United States he would kill any American Al Qaeda captures if any of the 9/11 plotters are executed. At the present, he doesn't have any Americans in captivity. Gone are the old days of promising Armageddon but maybe he's also aware of Tan Man Boehner and can't think to top that rhetoric. I take his message as a sign his gang is seriously depleted.

Bibi didn't make out so well on his trip to Washington. Yes, he received a standing ovation at AIPAC but he was told by Obama "here's your hat, what's your hurry." as the President opted for dinner with his wife and children rather than to hear Bibi stonewall him. Apparently, Bibi didn't bring the promised concessions and only wanted bunker-buster bombs to drop on Iran. He also reiterated in his meetings here his commitment to building more Levittowns in Jerusalem. He is doing this for the big bankroller of the Likud Party, Miami-based billionaire Irving Moskowitz. He and Mr. Edelman, the billionaire casino ower in Las Vegas, are the two encouraging new settlements from the outside.

The issue here is actually serious. The Arab League is meeting and the pro-American Arab states are being confronted by the pro-Tehran countries on the issue of Iran's nuclear facilities. The lack of progress on the Middle East Peace Talks isn't helping the pro-American states on the issue of further sanctions.

David Frum's wife has weighed in on the AEI firing saying that the conservative movement has become like the doctrinaire Left it used to mock. The intolerance of dissent has been dubbed "the closing of the conservative mind".

As a way of apology for cancelling his Indonesian trip until June, President Obama gave an interview with an Indonesian journalist, where he reminisced about his childhood experiences there. He admitted to breaking a boy's arm in a bicycle accident. He said he didn't tell a teacher he wanted to be president, instead he wanted to be a fireman. I'm sure conservatives can make hay out of the interview because he spoke Indonesian and even admitted he once had been fluent.

Bill Clinton was wrong. He said that Obama's ratings would jump 10% with the passage of health care. According to RS2000, they only jumped 5 points and his negatives fell. The same poll saw the enthusiasm gap narrow between Democrats and Republicans. 55% of Dems are enthusiastic about going to the polls; 62% of Republicans.

In a piece I posted last week, I noted that teabaggers e-mailed the home address of Virginia congressman Tom Perriello, who voted for healthcare. And they got it wrong. But what has transpired is that the address was his brother's who found that his propane gas lines had been cut. The FBI is investgating as a serious attempt to kill the congressman. Two more members of Congress have also reported death threats today.

The next big item to solve is social security. It appears that with so many taking early retirement because of the recession social security will now run out of funds in 2016. Given my financial situation, this is just my luck. As I have said too many times, the solution to this is rather easy if people get over their tax phobia. President Obama is supposed to receive the recommendations on this matter from his debt commission in early December. Erskine Bowles, one of the Democrats on the commission, told a North Carolina business meeting that the commission will recommend cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

If Congress begged off any more serious reforms this year, who could blame them? Having been in session for much of the year and meeting around the clock, there is a high burnout rate among the staff. But look for bank reform to be debated after the break and the first run made at immigration reform. Republicans would rather opt for naming more people to appear on postage stamps.

Whenever the world seems to be turning elsewhere, the North Koreans always make a play for attention. Today it looks like they torpedoed a South Korean naval vessel with 100 aboard. It seems they used up all their rockets for another test to see whether they can reach Hawaii.

The King of Derivatives, former Senator Phil Gramm, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says that the healthcare debate is not over yet, by any means. Senator Gramm was the one who said during the collapse of the economy in the fall of 2008 that Americans were just whiners. Speaking of the Wall Street Journal, they are going to charge for reading them on line. So now they become like the Financial Times, another newspaper I no longer read.

Working on something work related, I was reviewing a list of projects being conducted by USAID in various countries abroad. All worthwhile. But in looking them over, an awful thought occurred to me-- virtually none of these programs would be allowed by the New Republican Party as government programs in the United States. The commonsense consensus that has been created over the years about development and democracy would not be tolerated by the new authoritarians. And many of these programs were initiated by the last administration.

What Tea Baggers Believe

A Bloomberg poll conducted March 19-22 by Selzer & Co. our of Des Moines examines attitudes of self-professed tea baggers.

90% believe the United States is verging more toward socialism than capitalism and that the federal government is trying to control too many aspects of private life.
70% want a federal government that fosters job creation!!!
90% say the country is headed in the wrong direction.
80% say the expansion of the government's role in the economy is a high threat!!
90% say that both political parties are behaving badly.
96% say that government spending is out of control.
50% say the government should do something about executive bonuses.
86% say that taxes are too high.
78% say that health reform is a form of "socialism"
10% say that the Veterans Administration is socialist.
12% say that management of national parks and museums is socialist.
36% say that expanding Medicare for the elderly, Medicaid for the poor and Social Security are socialism.
65% say Social Security is definitely or sort of socialism.
47% want to keep government control of Social Security
53% want to privatize Social Security and Medicare.

Who are they? 40% are age 55 and over; just 22% are under age 35. 79% are white and 61% are male. 44% claim they are "born-again" Christians.

It remind me of the wave of populism in the 1990s in rural America that stimulated the militia movement. One of the critical programs that defused the worst dimension of this phenomenon was Willie Nelson's Farm Aid. You read this poll and it screams," Get Them Jobs." The poll showed their number one concern was money in general. The Los Angeles Times ran a story how the Great Recession is disproportionately affecting males. Except for the hard-core, I imagine an economic recovery would help soothe the anxiety and fear. It's also not clear how the Republican agenda would help them in anyway.

A Wimper, Not A Bang

Tooling through the Cumberland Gap and travelling through southern Ohio, I was fairly confident that the GOP wouldn't let me down.

John McCain threw a temper tantrum and held up Senate business. His colleague Tom Coburn followed suit the next day, interrupting important hearings on things ranging from the threat posed by North Korea to bank reform. But by the end of the week, it seemed the air had been punched out of the GOP for now. You have to understand they just want to go home for the break.

Incredibly the Senate parliamentarian did rule twice for the GOP--on small provisions of the student loan provisions attached to the health care bill. What would have been a catastrophic situation only 48 hours before turned into a routine vote in the House, which passed the health bill again by the same margin.

There were some nice moments. Tom Coburn argued that the health care bill would give Viagra to sex offenders and pedophiles. This charge was repeated this morning in the Washington Times. Of course, he can always plug the gap if it really exists by offering a separate bill.

The Republicans objected to the ambiguity over whether congressional staffs and the executive branch would have to participate in the health exchanges. If you work back over a year, you'll remember the Republicans dared the Democrats to accept this because they thought they could show the Democrats were hypocrites. Senator Dodd immediately agreed to the clause. Unfortunately for the Republicans, the present bill contains the sloppy writing of Tom Coburn, whose amendment it was. President Obama had to weigh in to assure the Senate the executive branch will comply.

Out in Ohio I saw a television commentator saying that the executive order signed by President Obama forbidding federal funds for abortion wasn't worth the paper it was written on. Oddly enough, he may be right because the bill doesn't have any provisions allowing for the funding of abortions. The only people who felt this were the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. For all their efforts, they did manage to persuade Congressman Cao not to vote for the bill. Their only success.

The Chamber of Commerce has folded its tent right now. I'm not sure the 40 plus million to fight the Democrats in the mid-terms will materialize. The Veterans of Foreign Wars had to apologize to the Democratic congresspeople for misrepresenting the health care bill's affect on veteran medical benefits.

The Republican attorney-generals seem to show the same legal acumen of the authors of the torture memos and the anti-gay lawyers in the Proposition 8 trial. Apparently, conservative lawyers like to assert things rather than argue their position from case law. So far, I have seen no case law in their claims the healthcare bill is unconstitutional. Attorney-General Bill McCollum of Florida and present gubernatorial candidate blew it because he is compelled by Florida law to consult both parties before bringing a lawsuit against the federal government. The Georgia attorney-general faces impeachment because as a Democrat he won't bring the case at the orders of the governor. Instead Governor Perdue is creating a separate office of Attorney-General just for the purpose of this lawsuit.

The Republican failure to stop healthcare reform has led to a meltdown in party discipline. Senator Corker is now saying that " for banking reform, you don't use the same playbook as for healthcare." Ms. Lindsey Graham balks about cancelling his hearings on military healthcare and ignored the suspension of Senate business created by his own party.

It seems that the teabaggers have turned against Senator Brown of Massachusetts. He now desparately is trying to raise funds off the non-existent threat that "ultra-leftist Rachel Maddow" is going to run against him. For three consecutive days, Rachel has had to deny this on her television show. Today she took an ad out in the Boston Herald to deny it.

David Frum got canned from AEI for his piece criticizing Republican strategy on healthcare. This sparked other writers friendly to the GOP to weigh in ,attacking the party's marriage to the teabaggers. The veneer of legitimacy given to the GOP tactics by the pundits is being stripped away.

Death Threats and harassment. The other problem facing the Republicans is the rise of death threats against nearly a dozen Democratic lawmakers who voted for Health Care. The leadership only begrudgingly condemned the violence, saying that voters were angry. "Tan Man" Boehner said "Armageddon was just a word". I guess he could have said,"Armageddon is another word for nothing left to lose." But he tried to skip over his comments that the Democratic congressman from Cincinnati was a "dead man". The same congressman's family have been threated and teabaggers are aiming to hold a rally outside his house this weekend.

David Frum said that "we always thought FOX NEWS worked for us. But now we work for them." The Republicans and their corporate donors encouraged the teabaggers for the specific purpose of blocking health care reform, bank reform and the cap and trade legislation. The idea was to create a pseudo-populist movement to generate media coverage of citizen outrage over these issues. Even Dick Armey's Freedomworks, a primary sponsor of the tea parties, is backtracking over the racial hatred and anti-immigration elements of the groups. Now that they have failed dramatically to stop healthcare, the Republicans are stuck with white "flash mobs" who will generate their own backlash against the Party.

This morning the FBI arrested a man in Oklahoma, who has been texting teabaggers to start "the killing". The FBI has reported to elected officials here that they can track all these people relatively easily. While the Republican generated teabaggers are posting their demoralizing thoughts on the blogosphere, the Patriot Movement types are going into high gear. This coming month they will be holding a "Bring Your Guns to Washington" Rally just down the road from me at Ford Hunt Park. Apparently, this is the nearest they cane come to the Capitol legally. The date for the event is April 19 to commemorate the Oklahoma City bombing.

Republicans tried to create a moral equivalency between the Democratic death threats and some of their own. Eric Cantor said he had been threatened in the past for his religion--which I don't doubt-- and recently a shot was fired into his Richmond office. This being Virginia, where you can openly carry, the Richmond police found that the shot into the window at his office was fired a long distance away and just randomly landed at his office. One Republican congresswomen Jeane Schmidt played a Michael Steele-type voice threatening her. The idea is to muddy the waters about the monsters they unleased.

Karl Rove talked about the many death threats he experienced. Glenn Beck on his show talked about wearing bullet proof vests when the FBI talked to him of threats. But these guys don't quite get it. Threats against elected officials are more serious than against media types and political operatives. They are acts of sedition.

Leaders of social movements have to train their people to behave in such a way as to further their legislative or moral goals. The civil rights movement took extreme measures to foster non-violence resistance, even though many African Americans wanted to defend themselves. Eventually with Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, the more extreme elements within the African American community did emerge to meet their bloody ends. Both the Republican leadership, who egged the tea party "movement" on, and the so-called leaders of these groups have a deep responsibility to control their own followers. Any casualty in the next few months is going to provoke a massive backlash and a serious crackdown by federal authorities.

I always felt these people made tremendous strategic mistakes. They did train people but their model was what they thought the "New Left" did. They honestly feel that the New Left triumphed in this country and modelled their behavior after them. They held seminars in the more radical versions of Saul Alinsky's thought, without understanding the man's own experiences, and they followed Morton Blackwell's training for conservatives to argue their case in public by out-shouting their opponents. Both aspects of organizing have negligible political effect as we have seen through the years. However, Morton's advice is good if you want to be a talk-radio host or a contributor to Fox News. It has nothing to do with persuading people to support your political agenda.

While the tea-bag concept provided some laughs for people who knew its use in the gay community, it was wholly inappropriate for a country where taxes come with representation. The direct linkage to the American Revolution only connected the group, maybe intentionally, to the militia movement. As a result the teabaggers began with the fringe movements and parties in the United States and only after a time were they being coopted by the Republicans and the corporate community. With their failure to intimidate Congress, which was their main political tactic, it will be interesting to see whether what remains is the extremist, militia core.

The next test for these people will be their April 15th protests over taxes here in Washington. I suspect we will see less enthusiasm from the average teabagger and more participation from their military wing.

As the first legislative year of the Obama Administration wraps up, you are seeing in the open the authoritarian dimension of the Republican Party. They did want President Obama to fail and they failed. They really thought in this time of national crisis they could play the same games they did during the Clinton years, when being obstructionist in a time of plenty was a political sport. The stakes are too high now and I believe this will become more self-evident to the voters as the year progresses.

The limits of Republican patriarchy are seen in this incessant tendency to lie about everything. If father lies, his authority disappears. The Republicans leadership and their media allies tried to bully President Obama this first year--teach the young, black man his place. They failed.

They remind me of the conservative parties in Germany during the rise of Hitler. They tried to use the "flash mobs" for their purposes and ended up being ruled by them.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The GOP's "Armageddon": Obama's "Big Fucking Deal"

Joe Biden caught off mike whispering into Obama's ear," You know, this is a big fucking deal". FDR had his New Deal. And there was the Square Deal. Now, history will recall the Big F Deal. It's actually a great way to characterize the administration and the present age.

Tan Man Boehner said we faced "Armageddon" and the economy will collapse. I thought it did already. Medical and insurance stocks have soared. Maybe Congressman Boehner was referring to the 10% surtax that starts today on tanning salons.

Pollsters already figure this out already. The majority of Americans opposed the health bill, then with the pollster on the line they were asked to approve/ disapprove elements in the bill; the majority eventually approved. The USA Today poll out today has about 48% already approving and only about 41% disapproving.

I thought Michael Steele had an upbeat attitude. "There is no downside for Republicans; only for Americans." About passage of the health bill. Notice the distinction. Alot of us have already.

Someone has already printed bumper stickers for the mid-terms: "Democrats get things done." A nastier one: "Republicans Want You Dead".

Republican House leaders called a press conference this morning to talk about health care. No one showed up. Empty hall. No one likes a loser.

NPR is giving coverage to the Republican Attorney-Generals who about to sue the federal government . Tomorrow they file in Florida. Someone noticed that if this were not a PR stunt, they would have moved for an injunction to stop the bill. Good point. Mark Levin, our ace conservative lawyer from Canada, had to scrap his lawsuit because he was going to file on the grounds that the House didn't pass the bill with a yes and no vote--which naturally they did and were going to.

The Attorney-General from South Carolina said the AG's lawsuits were going to be based on the 14th Amendment concerning states' rights. It must have brought back ole' times for the guy. Timothy Jost, a constitutional law expert from Washington and Lee University, lulled us to sleep today on C-Span by explaining in great detail about the supremacy principle in constitutional law and why states can't tell the federal government what to do. He also patiently walked through the health bill explaining where the A-G's complaints are and why any constitutional challenges have to fail. What was good news to me was that he was citing several recent cases decided by the ruling chowderheads.

Teabaggers called for a "window war" against Democrats, breaking office windows in New York, Arizona, Kansas and Ohio. This was called by the teabagger named Mike Vanderboegh, the former leader of the" Alabama Constitutional Militia". one of the white power groups. Teabaggers told people to go harass Virginia Representative Tom Perriello at his home. They got his address wrong. Rep. Louise Slaughter reported death threats against her own children. I don't know this doesn't sound like people who want a Velvet Revolution.

Rep. Steven King and Michelle Bachman introduced a bill in the House to repeal the whole bill.Ed Feulner of Heritage has made statements about how to repeal the bill. John McCain is asking for money so he can "continue my efforts to repeal the bill". I was totally ignorant of John's efforts.

This week will see great events in Arizona. Sarah Palin and Joe The Plumber, who said"McCain used me", are campaigning for McCain. Joe will be speaking about taxes. Palin just signed a deal with the Discovery Channel for a special on Sarah Palin's Alaska. Today, she appeared on Fox to say that maybe it would be a good idea to create a Third Party. With Sean Hannity looking on stunned.

The Kansas legislature overwhelmingly turned down Republican efforts to denounce the healthcare bill.

Another wag called Glenn Beck ,"The 21st Century Jim Jones"

The morning started off with Republicans on the defensive about their relations with the tea party gangs. The Washington punditry has started turning on them for the racism and vitriol shown at the Capitol this past weekend. Even the Dick Armey wing of the tea parties has declared they may disown those who engage in these acts. The great "populist" uprising didn't fulfill its purpose so it's own to the next scam. The tea baggers are vowing to fight on.

Normal conservatives like compulsive gambler Bill Bennett declared racism was dead in America because it's only these sensational episodes like the spitting on civil rights icon John Lewis that get any attention. The National Review quickly agreed that these rare moments show the American cancer was at least in remission. Andrew Breibart claimed that the house members walking from the capitol up the steps to their office was a deliberate act of provocation. However, a very elderly Holocaust survivor said about these incidents," Those monsters never die."

While Republicans have declared the mid-terms a referendum on healthcare reform, the banking committee of the Senate has just released the bill for financial reform to be voted on by the full Senate. Maybe the GOP is premature. Maybe the mid-terms should be about "Obama's Big Fucking Deal".

Off to Ohio to make a citizen's arrest of John "the Tan Man" Boehner.

Not My Father's Republican Party

Minutes ago, Barack Obama signed the health reform bill into law after 100 years of Presidents attempting to lay down this last plank of the social network.

David Frum asked the Republican party to take time out for recollection. Instead, the conservative blogs heaped scorn on his idea.

Why? Maybe the Republican Party is not where Frum is at anymore. A new Louis Harris poll of 2,230 people will be released tomorrow, which shows you the range of mental disease within the Party.

Here are some preliminary results:

67% of Republicans believe President Obama is a socialist.
57% believe Obama is a Muslim
45% believe Obama was not born in the United States
38% believe Obama is doing the same things as Hitler
24% believe Obama may be the anti-Christ.

I do not have the final data but a significant number believe he is a "domestic enemy".

The Party of Gerald Ford, Tom Kean and even Tom Ridge. Don't think so.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Age of Fear is Ending

The political narrative changed last night. It will take a few months for this to become obvious. Even the Democrats haven't fully absorbed it. It has become obvious that the Republican philosophy of fear has exhausted itself and we are seeing its death throes. It was clear with GOP congressmen egging on the tea party protestors at the Capitol last night that all this has been orchestrated from the beginning--the orchestrated corporate funded protests, the millions upon millions of dollars of negative advertising and the GOP's obstructionism. And during the floor debate it became obvious that people like John Boehner, a representative for the economic conservatives, knew this was all coordinated since the very beginning. It failed and failed miserably.

David Frum was right last night saying this was the biggest defeat for the Republicans since the 1960s. He called for a moment of reflection in the party. It was not to be.

"Country First" McCain told Good Morning America that Republicans in the Senate are not going to cooperate with Democrats until next year. So what's a few more months of business as usual. But there was a change. Harry Reid snapped out a sharp putdown of McCain questioning his patriotism. A few months ago this would not have happened.

Two images from yesterday stand out. Karl Rove melting down in a temper tantrum on television while debating a low-keyed David Plouffe. John Boehner absolutely blowing it in an appearance alongside a cool and deliberative Steny Hoyer. The days of the bully are over. The GOP and its brownshirts tried almost every extrajudicial means to stop healthcare reform and every other initiative by this administration. For a while, they looked like they were succeeding.

Tonight, the Senate parliamentarian ruled against the GOP despite weeks of their trying to intimidate him both publicly and privately. Mitch McConnell tried to get him to rule that the modified clause about the so-called excise tax on wealthier health care plans somehow involved the social security trust fund. The Democrats had the precedents in hand to show and that was that.

Since the GOP is very much against judicial activism, they have encouraged the Republican attorney-generals from around the country to sue the federal government to declare health care reform unconstitutional. Preliminary analysis of legal observers believe this is a long shot. The White House said it would fight and win every case.

Mitt Romney , who seems to have been for Romneycare before he was against it, thundered that Obama had abused his office and violated his oath of office. And he declared his campaign for 2012 starts now. I expect we will see Republicans start the impeachment motif almost immediately. I also expect that will fail also.

Little Billy Kristol now says healthcare reform is really Obama's March from Moscow--an allusion to Napoleon's retreat. He has sounded the cry of Repeal. I received an e-mail from a person I know running for congress in Michigan vowing to repeal the law. This is the rally cry for all the Republican fund-raisers I received today. This means you have to win large majorities in the House and a supermajority in the Senate to override a presidential veto.

I hope as we move to the midterm elections Democrats will have enough sense to simply run against the Republican lies. Ads showing candidates lying time after time after time and then cut to "how can you trust a person who lies all the time to represent you." I'm sure they can package it to be snappier. But it has been the most surreal time I have seen in our politics where one party has adopted a policy of systematically lying about everything.

Watching John Boehner rant last night on the floor of the House, it dawned on me after several hours of listening to Republicans that neither he nor his colleagues had ever read the healthcare bill. I have watched congressional debates for a long time and have never seen one where on party never referred to something real in a bill. These guys just made it up--everything. Eric Cantor fabricated his entire speech from a whole cloth of lies. It was amazing.

Someone asked today when did a political party ever come back to power solely on anger. Another commentator lamented the fact that the GOP no longer had the sunny face of Ronald Reagan and a positive view for the future.

Today's antics continued the fight. It will continue for a while but the fizzle is gone.

Last night, it struck me that Democratic women were arguing that the bill eliminated being female as a pre-existing condition, while angry, middle-aged men argued about abortion. What women in her right mind would vote for a party represented by those guys?

The Democrats should be proud because they stood up for what people always associated with their party. I can't imagine that this will do anything but energize the base for the upcoming elections.

Last night, 1 1/2 hours after the bill passed, I got my e-mail thank you letter from President Obama thanking me for my efforts on the bill. Two e-mails and one phone call turned the tide, I'm sure. But that's how smooth and classy operation they run. Today, David Plouffe asked me --among the 500,000--to sign the legislation via e-mail for the archives. Neat touch. Beats the souvenir pictures.

What has gone unnoticed in the whole healthcare drama has been the extensive networking of progressive groups, labor unions, Howard Dean's group and Organizing for America to coordinate pressure on Congress. This is an outgrowth of the 2008 campaign and remains in good condition. Karl Rove attacked the White House of using mass e-mails from the White House to pressure congress to get this done. It's one of the reasons I wish David Plouffe would hide for a while. To this day, Republicans do not understand how Barack Obama won the 2008 elections. I urge no one to tell them. They honestly believe it was ACORN.

Organizing for America generated over 500,000 phone calls and e-mails in two days to Congress. Throughout this process, the maguffin was the tea party people, while the substantial bulk of organizing was done on the other side. I hope this continues for the mid-terms.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

We Do Not Fear The Future, We Shape It

so saith the victor tonight, President Barack Obama and the rest of us. Welcome to the modern world, America. A stunning legislative victory. We should mention that the student loan bill passed also, which Republicans in the Senate have railed against more than the House.

And let history record, I was off by three on the approval of the Senate bill; and only two on the final House Reconciliation Bill, which automatically disqualifies me from becoming a high-paying pundit. You must fail upwards. Notice Nate Silver isn't asked on many television networks. That's because he's rational and too correct most of the time. I had an excuse. I didn't know there were now four empty seats in the House.

Michelle Bachman had to go outside and tell the tea party crowd not to become violent. The Secret Service is now investigating a conservative blogger who calls for the assassination of President Obama because of this vote.

Too tired tonight to comment on the Tan Man's hysterical speech except to say he doesn't understand representative democracy. I will write about it tomorrow because I took notes on all the things that really bugged me. Eric Cantor's speech was the GOP laundry list of lies about the bill and also the real state of our healthcare system. Rumors has it that it was really Dana Rohrbacher who yelled out "Baby Killer" at Bart Stupak, when he urged the rejection of the Stupak-Pitts amendment. Wonder if the Family is going to pay Bart a visit tomorrow. Phyllis Schafly, who is now immortalized in the Texas history books, quickly responded that "Now we know the myth of the pro-life Democrat."

Bloggers commented that the Tan Man went longer in his speech on the climate change bill than he did tonight. One said this was dissing the "tea party" people ,who didn't have the cash the oil industry has. Another claimed Tan Man was having a tantrum and wondered "if Chuckie Cheese was still open?"

It's interesting that the voting was only kept open for fifteen minutes. For Medicaid Part D, the prescription drug vote, voting was kept open for an amazing three hours as the Republican leadership twisted every arm.

Connie Mack said that "Freedom Died Today." Tomorrow I'll see." Pete Hoefstra from Michigan went out to the teabaggers to say he would get the bill repealed in the courts.

Senator De Mint, Mr. Waterloo, said that he would introduce a bill in the Senate tomorrow to repeal the whole thing.

As I understand it,President Obama signs it on Tuesday and it becomes law and then the Senate debates the House changes. So my understanding is that if the Republicans actually try and fool around with the House changes in the Senate, the original Senate bill would stand. Not so great but the basic principles of health as a right would remain.

The passage of the bill tonight came after 92 phone calls or meetings between President Obama and members of Congress.

Strangest element: Tan Man's call for a physical vote, since electronically everyone is recognized immediately and the list are published the minute the final vote was tabulated. I believe he was just trying to drag the proceedings out so President Obama could not address the country. It made no other sense.

This late night news: The Costa Rican military have been ordered to guard the country's borders and stop Rush Limbaugh from entering.

When The Man Comes Around.

Hmmm-The Matzos were good. A few ducks and Canadian geese and a huge snapping turtle. Back to watch the Healthcare debate. Don't know whether can last the whole time. Obama to talk afterwards.

We're getting to the end of playing chicken. The GOP is now saying the Senate parliamentarian is going to kill the bill. OK, put Joe Biden in the chair and have him overrule him. At this stage, the debate is whether the GOP is going to kill health insurance for 36 million Americans and increase the deficit. Which side do you think wins?

The procedural votes are proceeding along the lines of my predicted last vote counts. The bill will pass and it will be historic in its importance. What it means is that health care now is a right, not a privilege. A one hundred year struggle will be coming close to a conclusion.

What is clear from the debate is that the United States right now only has one political party, the Democrats. The Republicans became prisoners of their ever-narrowing base. There is not an attractive face among the GOP representatives talking. By egging the demonstrator on, they basically threw in the towel on being a "loyal opposition". Their tea bagger friends even spit on members of the Hispanic caucus today calling them "wetbacks" and telling them to go home to Mexico. And why would anyone in their right mind vote for people like this?

David Frum at writes a column today entitled "Waterloo". The former Bush speechwriter and Wall Street Journalist says that conservatives and Republicans suffered their biggest political defeat since the 1960s. He said that conservatives are overly optimistic about the fall because the economy is going to come back. He said conservatives and the Republican Party made a strategic decision believing that healthcare would be Obama's Waterloo like it was Clinton's in 1994. But he said the conservative echo chamber miscalculated because Obama was elected with 53% of the vote compared to Clinton's 42% and the liberal bloc within the Democratic caucus was bigger and stronger than in 1993-94. He also said that Democrats remembered the lessons of the 94 failure. "We went for all the marbles, and got none."

He chides Republicans who think the bill will be repealed because it won't. Not only will Republicans have a tough time winning back seats but that no one will repeal items such as carrying your child on your insurance until he/she's 26; no one will repeal exemption for pre-existing conditions. And the President retains a veto.

He ends with "we followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat."

He said majorities in Congress change but this bill is forever. He blames the rightwing echochamber of Fox news and talk radio for leading the Republican party to disaster. Bitterly, he concludes it is a "huge win for the conservative entertainment industry."

Well said, David.

I read several blog comments today how after watching the behavior of the Republicans they will never vote for another one in their life, even if she or he is the most qualified. The finger-pointing is already starting among the Republicans. Sensing political disaster and unfavorable optics, even the Tan Man had to chide his caucus to behave, as the Republicans all acted like Jacobins in suits. To have a Republican congressman from California defend teabaggers who used racial epithets against the Black caucus because of the reactions to the "totalitarian process" showed how low a once great party has sunk.

In the weeks ahead, it will be interesting to see how polls register the intensity factor for the upcoming election. So far it has favored the Republicans but I expect that will soon change. I think after the shambles of the last few days--the watching audience for this debate is huge, I think the GOP can kiss off hopes of taking back either chamber of Congress.

Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich said that the Democrats will pay for forty years for this bill like they did for the civil rights legislation. Nice racism, Newt. It's going to be interesting for you to explain to the middle class and working class how this is so threatening to them.

One of the fun things today was receiving an e-mail of concern over whether the military's tricare was in the bill. Obviously, President Obama sold the veterans out. Naturally, no such thing happened as was explained to the VA throughout the week and a statement was sent out from the House two days ago explaining the military benefits were in the bill. But I thought good conservatives were against such socialized medicine?

Oh by the way, even though Michael Steele says that Obama and the Democrats cooked the CBO books, the written report to the House showed that the savings on the deficit was even more--about $300 billion than the previous statement.

I think we should be concerned about not being aware when the Republicans these days say something that is actually true. So far they are batting 100% but one of these days soon they might actually be accurate. We'll have to keep on our toes.

President Obama brought Bart Stupak and his lonely pro-life holdouts along by promising to sign an Executive Order saying exactly what the bill actually says that federal funds will not be used for abortion. NARAL blasted Stupak for caving and NOW blasted Obama for caving. Rep. Sensenbrenner claims presidents can't sign executive orders. Bush practically governed with them.

A nice touch came today when Rep. Dingell gave Nancy Pelosi the huge gavel that was used to bang Medicare into law. I hope President Obama channels some LBJ after this bill. LBJ flew to Independence, Missouri to sign the Medicare bill so that former President Harry truman would become the first person with Medicare in the country. Truman said, "I'm lucky I lived so long." Then as Medicare was about to take effect one year later, LBJ made the media cover the elderly and the poor going to the hospitals for the first time. Republicans wanted this to be a failure, I'm going to show them success, he crowed.

Flawed Bill? You should read the original bill for Social Security. The progressives can keep their public option plans ready at a moment's notice. There will be changes to this as we move along. But, today is more than just a first step, it is an historic leap filling a void in our domestic affairs that has existed for 100 years.

Some 54 speeches later, not counting tonight, Barack Obama had the tenacity to see the process through. Few other political leaders would have had the courage to keep on going with this given the manufactured lies and the abuses heaped on him. So much for crippled presidency! He is the Man.

Any Fool Can Make A Prediction

If Bill Kristol predicts that most of the healthcare bill will be repealed by 2013, then I will put my two cents in. Final Vote: 222 yeas 212 neas.

Voting is scheduled at 9pm.

Obama again back up to 50% in Gallup and his negatives dropped 4. Looks like Brit Hume is right--the man is crippled.

Too nice a day. Am off bird-watching.

* The Vernal Equinox blog that is real is the first one. Seems the Chicom invaded Google here.

The Vernal Equinox

I received a type of e-mail that is supposed to be nostalgic. From the references, I take them to be momentos from the "silent generation", those of my sister's age. The best of these come with full-color photos of 1950 cars and gas stations; the worse come with lines like "Remember when only girls won earrings" and Beatles were "bugs".

Last night I had a craving for Matzos, which occurs periodically and is deadly in Virginia. While surfing the net, I came across the nostalgia I like a blog buried deep in the DailyKos. "You Don't Have to be Jewish...To Like Levy's". It was a history of Levy's Jewish Rye complete with the best ads for it. The one I never had seen was Buster Keaton, holding a sandwich made with Levy's. The blogger also mentioned the late Leo Steiner of the Carnegie Deli who was eulogized by Henny Youngman as the "deli lama". I remember spending a New Year's Eve with my wife at the Carnegie Deli and Henny Youngman appeared and really did say," Take my wife....Please." So today I will search for my Matzos.

At 8:24am, The Democrats announced they had the votes to pass healthcare reform. So gathering at the Capitol now are pro-health care reform demonstrators.

Yesterday, Steny Hoyer gave a great speech to the Democratic Caucus. He started by pointing out that both Barack Obama and John McCain ran on health reform in 2008 and this was clear and transparent throughout the campaign. He then laid out the long history of health reform efforts in the country, mentioning all Presidents except for Reagan and George W. He spent a long time quoting from all the Presidents citing this as the long overdue domestic reform needed in the country. The longest and most articulate quote came from Richard Nixon, whom Steny didn't name. He just mentioned the year it was said. Ironically, this year's bill resembles very closely the deal Nixon offered Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy in his Memoirs wrote that it was the worst mistake he made by turning it down.

Without the much vaunted teleprompter, the descendent of the Mayflower, President Obama made an emotional but, I found, a subdued speech. He tried to remind the Democratic Caucus why they initially entered public life and the ideals they once had before all the compromises were made and big money was floating around. I found his quote from Abraham Lincoln eerie and somewhat macabre. The media found it inspiring, which is more than they've said positively lately. I thought the quote came from the depressed and melancholic Lincoln. Hopefully, it doesn't reflect President Obama mindset these days.

While I enoyed my rap on "deem and pass", the Democrats abandoned it yesterday.

The Senate promises to be the next fault line. Orrin Hatch has mentioned several times in the last two days that the House will have to pass the bill another time after Republicans in the Senate get through with it. So somewhere lurks the threat that the Republicans maybe,I stress, maybe found the single line in the bill where they will get approval from the Parliamentarian. Harry Reid told the House that he was prepared for all the ambushes. Let's hope.

I can't help believing that some Republicans in the Senate will vote for the bill. Olympia Snowe successfully added dozens of her amendments--actually good ones--to the bill. Voinovich is retiring and has blasted the GOP for being prisoners of the South. Susan Collins only flirts with nuttiness and did vote for the stimulus package. And can Scott Brown really vote against it given that he is running again in 2012 in Massachusetts and that this was Ted Kennedy's dying wish?

The Catholic Hospitals, 90,000 Nuns, the National Catholic Reporter endorsed the bill. But we know no one expects the Spanish Inquisition. The Bishops Conference issued at statement at 9:41 Saturday night that argued against the bill. They claimed by an amazing feat of deduction that there is a way that federal funds can be used for abortion. The logic was so tortuous I couldn't understand. They asserted that the Hyde Amendment is the "law of the land", which it is not. It has to be renewed periodically. The law of the land is Roe v Wade, which isn't mentioned by the Bishops. They did have one good point that immigrants aren't covered and that they support universal health care for everybody. Their position is single-payer without abortion.

About abortion. 88% of American counties have no abortion providers of any kind. One out of three American women will have to have a procedure during their lifetime that the pro-life crowd calls an abortion. Their definition is so elastic as to cover some rather mundane and routine procedures. We are now seeing states trying to implement laws to protect "eggs". Next we'll see a state like Oklahoma declare that conception begins with ejaculation. The rights obtained by women under Roe v. Wade have been dramatically curtailed and are even under graver assault today.

In August I wrote how pathetic and sad it would be if violence broke out over enlarging the number of people receiving health care in the country. Yesterday, people threw bricks through the windows of the Buffalo office of Representative Louise Slaughter. Slaughter is the nickname for a parliamentary procedure the Democrats were expected, but did not use. Jon Voight's teabagger rally, which drew about 10,000--if they want to claim 100,000 go ahead,even if it's totally false-- acted in a classy manner by screaming racial epithets against civil rights hero Congressman John Lewis and calling Barney Frank the "F"word as the two walked on the nice Spring day from the Capitol to their offices. The crowd spit on members of the Black caucus and the Free Republic declared "they should have been dragged behind cars". Bayard Rustin would have said," It just made me feel young again." John Lewis was classy in his response.

At first teabaggers denied such incidents, claiming that someone would have had it on tape if it occurred and that it was the result of liberal lies. Problem--only minutes later Democratic Underground posted a video of the incident. Then the line was that the victims deserved it.

No Republican denounced this until shamed by house members on the floor. Only then did Eric Cantor and Mark Pence, who had spoken at the rally, utter an equivocal apology, saying it was the action of a few people--with the rest of the crowd holding signs portraying Obama as Hitler.

The sign that caught everyone's attention was" If (Sen.) Brown can't kill it, This (A Brownie automatic) will." My wife said that if she wanted to avoid the teabaggers all you had to do was walk fast. They tend to be the far side of 60. If these people are the conservative side of Baby-Boomers, shouldn't they have their own Kent State? Where are all the union guys with baseball bats?

Britt Hume reminds us that the Obama Presidency will be crippled if healthcare passes. Let's see, a tenacious President fighting for what he believes and whom the public widely believes is honest and sincere passes his signature piece of legislation and is seen as a loser? OK,I think Britt should go back to converting Tiger Woods to Christianity.

David Plouffe got the better of Karl Rove on this issue today as he explained that Democrats can campaign on what they are for, while Republicans are stuck with what they are against. What David didn't factor in was that the plurality of the country are independents now, followed by Democrats. Does anyone think the vile hate of the Republican streetgangs, the teabaggers, is really going to make an independent want to vote for these people? Most people really don't like to vote for creeps. Even the media, which has egged these people on, are beginning to turn against them after yesterday's spitting episodes.

Doonesbury came out of retirement with a cartoon on the teabaggers with a radio announcer interviewing them, asking their leader about the incoherence of protesting taxation with elected representation and protesting tax cuts.

Where was Pat Roberston yesterday as a 5.5 earthquake rocked Cuba around Gitmo? Did someone make a pact with the Devil like the Haitians did? Who would they be? Would be name of the person start with the letter C and not be Castro? Maybe Cheney.

Bibi is coming to town and he looks like he's ignoring the advice of his neo-con allies. While he said he wasn't going to stop the settlements, he is reported carrying proposals to release Palestinian prisoners, ending the blockade of Gaza, and initiating talks over the core issues in the dispute. I guess he read the Israeli polls and didn't listen to Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol.

Below the radar, the United States and Russia are very close to a nuclear arms reduction treaty. This would be a singular achievement of the Obama Administration, even though we no longer have the attention span to believe this is important. It probably will not be ratified by the Senate as it will become the rallying cry of the Republicans ,who claim Obama is weak on security. It will be the last missing agenda item of the Reagan Administration. Actually the administration should pitch it as part of Reagan Centennial celebration and get Nancy to speak about it as "Ronnie's last wish". Then watch the conservatives who opposed it back then, howl with indignation.