Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Man for All (Silly) Seasons

Mitt Romney ... as accurately described by Joan Walsh and David Corn.

He who validates Trump's birther nonsense does not deserve to inhabit the Office of President of the United States.

Real Time for Memorial Day Weekend

Paul Krugman Warns about Voter Suppression (and Bill Maher Still Doesn't Understand Government)

Last week's Real Time panel sported the opposite ends of economic theory with Paul Krugman and Arthur Laffer both on the panel. The last topic of discussion was, of course, about how much the economy would impose itself upon the Election and its outcome.

Michelle Barnard referenced the changing demographics of the country - racially, socially and sexually - and how each demographic's issues might play upon voting in general, when Paul Krugman pointed out the core preoccupation that's arising from this Election cycle and all the diversionary tactics, state-by-state, the Republicans have imposed upon the country, whilst they go ripping up voting rights and privileges helter-skelter.

As the good doctor says, what matters demographics, if these people are denied the right to vote?

Meanwhile, back in Bill Maher's own particular universe, he tries to address why the Republicans dislike the President so much. The first sentence of his editorial at the end of the clip below, could have saved him mouthing the rest. The Republicans dislike the President - basically - because he's black. As for Bill talking about what the President would have done that would really have labelled him a radical (at the 4:45 mark), he's still labouring under the lowest common denominator of faux Left Wing fallacy that the President is a benign but powerful Leftish dictator. Bringing the troops back from Afghanistan, giving everyone Medicare (which would still only have covered 80% of medical insurance coverage), ending the drugs war and turning Dick Cheney over to The Hague would have required something else ... the unmitigated cooperation of Congress and a party which stood firmly in line behind the President.

Compromise is not a weakness. It's the stuff of governments, and Bill Maher, Cornell graduate, quite obviously spent his time daydreaming in civics class.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Single-Payer Sickness

I have been ill, and being ill in England is never fun, no matter how much anyone longing for they mystical, magical unicorn of single-payer health insurance might tell me how lucky I am.

First of all, most people who tell me this are only basing their knowledge of the system on something like Michael Moore's film Sicko, which was selectively edited to make the National Health Service in the UK seen wonderful. It is anything but.

And for anyone saying, "Ah, but at least you have health insurance," believe me - if an American had to live under such a system, there'd be mass pandemonium of protest in the streets.

I fell ill last Thursday, at 3pm precisely, when I stood up at my work station to experience an excrutiating back pain, followed immediately by a fit of shivers which lasted until I left the office to go home. Not that anyone noticed. In my particular office, where I am the only woman, if the men in question aren't talking about how fast a car is or how much money a soccer player they admire earns, their heads are implanted so far up their asses, it would take a surgical procedure to remove them.

All I knew was that it was a hot day, and I was cold. And tired. And feeling very ill.

I drove home with the heater full-blast, picked up my husband to go to the grocery store - telling, not asking that he go inside - and returned home by 6:30pm, only to stagger up the stairs, leaving a welter of shopping bags in the front hall, and collapse - literally collapse into bed, fully clothed and passed out to the world.

That's where I stayed until Sunday, unable to lift my head from the pillow longer than it took to answer a call of nature or vomit. And I vomited a lot. I noticed other symptoms: bloody urine, constant temperature and a nagging headache, itchy skin as well.

Did I ring a doctor? No. Why?

Well, because here's how it works under the National Health System: You get sick, and you ring the surgery to which you are assigned. A receptionist takes your telephone number and says a triage nurse will ring you back. Never mind the actual doctor with whom you're registered, if they NHS can diagnose over the telephone, it's that much less work for them to do.

Two hours later, if you're lucky, the triage nurse will ring you, listen to what you say your symptoms are, and  decide if you need to be seen that day. You'll either get assigned to see a nurse, or whatever doctor happens to be on duty. Making an actual appointment to see, you know, like the doctor whose list you're on, is more than a joke. You'll be given an appointment some two months in advance. I'd stand a better chance of an audience with the Queen.

I suffered through the weekend, stumbled back to work on Monday, and went through just that procedure - ringing the surgery, the receptionist, the triage call etc - simply because I was too damned sick to go through that bullshit the previous Friday.

By 11:00 am, the triage nurse had returned my call. She introduced herself as "Nurse Nancy" (like, we're all either morons or overgrown children) and suggested I come by the surgery between noon and 1pm and leave a urine sample, which I did. On the way back to work, along a winding country road, my cellphone burst to life. Manoeuvering away from the odd rabbit and speeding car, I parked up, long enough to receive a call from "Nurse Nancy."

"I meant for you to come to see me, not just do a sample and leave!" She shouted peremptorily.

"You didn't," I replied in the most cynical and laconical voice I could muster. "You just said leave a sample. I'm not a mind-reader."

She went onto say that I had a kidney infection (no shit, Sherlock), that she'd sent my sample "up to the labs" (wherever that was) and they'd have a result in a week. (In the UK, you never ever get test results earlier than a week, unless you go private). In the meantime, she was sending a prescription for anti-biotics in my name to the pharmacy attached to the practice, and I could pick it up before 6pm.

"I work until 5:30," I said. "I'll pick it up tomorrow."

"You can't!" she decreed. "I want you to start the meds today. Can't your husband pick the prescription up?"

I painstakingly explained that he couldn't, because my husband is a Luddite, who always leaves the house without his cellphone and refuses to answer the landline at home; but I agreed I'd try to get to the pharmacy before 6pm.

With eight minutes to spare, I presented myself at the surgery, clutching a ten-pound note in my feverish hand. I gave my name, date of birth and address to the pharmacist, who checked - first the shelves bursting with filled prescriptions, then the pile of unfilled prescriptions on her desk.

"When did you leave the script, Mrs Watts?" she asked.

"I didn't," I explained. "The surgery sent it over. Today."

Once again, she rifled through the stack of prescriptions, shaking her head, before she waved them aloft. "These are everything I collected from next door," she said. "It's not here."

On the hottest day of the year, I trudged back to the surgery next door and confronted the receptionist. I explained that I'd been in earlier, given the sample, spoken with Nurse Nancy, who said she was going to send a prescription for anti-biotics for me to the pharmacy next door ... except that it wasn't there.

Only deigning to look at me from the corner of her eye, the receptionist proclaimed, matter-of-factly: "That prescription went to Boots (another pharmacist, located on the main street of the small town where I live.)"

But why? I wanted to know. Boots is to the Brits what Walgreens is to us in the States. Unless I needed some perfume or a smelly gift for someone I hated, I had no dealings with Boots.

She merely shrugged and repeated that the prescription was at Boots. Because she's an employee of the NHS, whose salary is funded by my tax money, because her attitude was typically shitty, and because I was sick and feeling enough like a bitch to do so, I asked - nicely, of course - that she ring Boots to determine if the prescription actually was there.

Rolling her eyes, she did so, reluctantly ... only to find that it wasn't.

"Which means she actually didn't write it," I deduced. "Is 'Nurse Nancy' still on the premises?"

I was told that she was, but she was (of course) involved in a "lengthy consultation." However, the "duty doctor" would gladly write me a duplicat prescription, the receptionist said, jumping up from her throne and dashing down the corridor.

I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more, remembering how - twenty years before, a female doctor in the surgery, now a senior partner, had told me there was absolutely no way I could have breast cancer. It simply didn't happen to women who were pre-menopausal. Then she told me to go home and stop worrying. The lump would go away.

It seemed odd that I should remember that, when my attention was drawn to a pink laminated announcement on the reception counter.

It is with deep regret that we must announce the untimely and early retirment from our staff of Dr Wilshire, who has taken unlimited sick leave in order to sustain long-term treatment for cancer.

I smiled grimly, wondering if Wilshire, remembered her misdiagnosis and her pithy message to me at the time. I wonder if she remembered misdiagnosing my husband's shingles, some twelve years ago, as "stomach flu." I doubt she were misdiagnosed.

At that point, the receptionist arrived, triumphantly waving the "duplicate" prescription over her head, like St George's banner. It was signed by Nurse Nancy, herself, and no duty doctor, which meant it had never been written or dispatched in the first place.

"Nurse Nancy says she put that prescription out for collection at one o'clock," the receptionist announced adamantly. "She simply can't imagine what the pharmacy might have done with it."

I can. They did nothing. Because she never wrote it. And she couldn't even admit that and apologise.

Single-payer? No, thanks.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Get Over It, Governor

Ed Rendell needs seriously needs to get over the fact that Hillary Clinton didn't win the nomination. He totally gets what Obama was emphasizing Romney's job creation claim as opposed to private enterprise as a whole, yet he stirs the private enterprise pot. And what's truly NAUSEATING is Rendell saying the President should emphasize all the good things he's achieved, when Rendell has spent the past three years pissing on those achievements as insignificant. I call bullshit on that. And as erratic as Chris Matthews has been throughout this first term, he's bang on the mark with this one.

Here's a song for Ed Rendell and all those disaffected Dems who just can't bring themselves to cover the President's back and stay onside with his message ... and this is also for the entire Republican party, along with my stiff middle finger.

Money Talks

Money creates surrogates, and surrogates create problems for candidates, especially if they are somewhat irresponsible.

And unconstitutional. A candidate's religion is irrelevant, according to the Constitution.

A Lesson in Semantics

This is a question of semantics ... The President is NOT NOT NOT attacking Bain Capital per se. He is attacking Mitt Romney's record at Bain, because Romney has put that record into the public domain by bragging on the number of jobs he created whilst at Bain. There's a difference.

Please pay attention ... especially if you are a part of the political news media. We need correct - repeat, correct - information imparted. Not spin.

Jonathan Capehart Explains Why the Occupy Movement Won't Be Relevant

Until it involves itself in electoral politics ...

Bimbo Politics 101: Ask a Stupid Question and Get Handed Your Backside

Having just spend an entire two days dealing with the intellectually-challenged of Italian, French and Spanish societies, I punish myself further by catching up on this week's episodes of Now with Alex, that paragon of political programs designed to convey to the stranger just how dumbed-down American political commentary has become.

Trust me, if Congressmen now have the verbal capacity of high school freshman, Alex Wagner would have trouble competing with a fifth grader.

On Monday's show, the opening salvoes were, of course, all about Cory Booker. Her first question to Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post was an adolescent whine about why a Democrat isn't allowed to disagree with the President. (I was actually expecting her to end with, "It's just not fair," but she didn't).

Maybe she didn't because Capehart painstakingly explained to her that it's perfectly within anyone's remit as a Democrat and private citizen to disagree with the President, but Cory Booker was functioning as and acknowledged himself to be an Obama campaign surrogate, meaning that he was campaigning on   behalf of  the President, spreading the President's campaign message for him. Instead, Booker went off-message and totally ripped what, until then, had been a successful campaign strategy.

Not very bright.

And - zut alors! - Joan Walsh and I appear to be in agreement. She actually voices what so many other pundits used as an unspoken centrepiece around which they constructed an elaborate dance: that this moment on Sunday on Meet the Press was more about Booker's ego and ambitions than it ever was about him being an Obama surrogate.

Once again, Wagner's panel is miles smarter than she will ever be.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Michael Steele's Oreo Moment

One word at the very end sealed it.

Like the cookie ... see?

When Operatives Don't Operate You Get the Big Bain Backfire

It didn't take long, did it? The Romney campaign latched on quickly to Booker's precipitous remarks, much in the same way a hungry baby would latch firmly onto his mother's breast.

Well, you knew they would because the Democrats would have done the same if presented with as much political fodder for their campaign fire by a Romney operative.

Of course, the video features other Democrats - mainly those who cleave close to the Morning Joe discussion table, such as DINO and Wall Street mouthpiece, Harold Ford Jr, and former Obama financial advisor, Steve Rattner; but the undisputed centrepiece and star of the show is Cory Booker. Because his remarks ring freshest in the ear and the memory.

Harken, just harken, unto the last words of the advert:-

With no record to run on, it is no surprise that the Obama campaign has resorted to misleading attacks that have been disavowed by its own supporters.

This is the pejorative import of Booker's words - words, which could be brought back to haunt him in future years as and when his political career develops.

The fact that both the President and the Vice-President were pursuing a line of campaigning against Romney, which had proven successful since used by Ted Kennedy in 1994 and even by Romney's opponents in the Republican primaries - that Romney was a proponent of vulture capitalism that profited more from job cremation rather than job creation; that this was a particularly successful ploy and was being used successfully by both the President, the Vice-President and other Democratic operatives, until Cory Booker, the mayor of a major American city and a self-proclaimed Obama operative brought that line of attack to its political knees with his pronouncement on Sunday.

I know that at least one high-profiled blogger is cautioning against throwing Booker under the bus because of this, alluding to the various and nefarious tweets referring to him as no less than a "traitor." Look, I like Cory Booker, and maybe he was naive enough or narcissistic enough to get caught in a gotcha moment by the Republican-leaning David Gregory on Sunday; but the basic fact is what he said and when he said it reflected what I'd define as vainglorious stupidity; and for that, he deserves to be castigated.

He carelessly threw down a passel of words that easily became a stick with which to beat the President and almost totally negated a political point against an opponent, which - until that time - the President was actually winning.

A very good Facebook friend, an independent, has been castigating Obama supporters, amongst them, myself, for being intolerant about the fact that Cory Booker has merely disagreed with the President - something, which, in her opinion, he is entitled to do.

This is true. Anyone of us, as Democrats, are free to disagree with some of the President's policies or campaign issues. That is our right. But make no mistake: Cory Booker is not Joe Manchin. And Joe Manchin is not acting as an Obama operative, either in his home state of West Virginia, or anyplace else. So someone like Manchin can and does say that maybe he won't support the President because the President isn't entrusting him with actually getting his message out to the voting public.

My point is that Cory Booker was entrusted with doing just that, and - rather unwisely - he unwittingly went off-message in a very public arena, and now both he, and the President's campaign, are smarting from Booker's political ego.

If the President wins a second term, at the end of that term, he'll retire as a private citizen, with his political life, effectively, over; and he will have earned that. Booker has much of his career aspirations ahead of him, the first and foremost being a stab at taking over from retiring Senator Frank Lautenberg in 2014.

Let's hope the public's collective amnesia falls into play for Cory Booker and that his false equivalencies don't come back to haunt and stalk him.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Whe Jim Cramer's On the Mark and Cory Booker's Off It

CNBC presenter Jim Cramer and Newark Mayor Cory Brooker are both Democrats and high-profiled Democrats. I know that three years ago, Cramer took a creaming from The Daily Show's Jon Stewart for CNBC's part in misleading the public on the financial meltdown. I know that Cory Brooker is a highly educated, highly intelligent ueber Mayor, with friends who work in the same sort of high places that Cramer's CNBC touts.

But the difference is this: Cory Booker is supposed to be an operative for President Obama, someone who is supposed to be instrumental in "delivering" his home state of New Jersey to the President come election time.

Cory Booker also has political ambitions of his own, and maybe this is the explanation behind his astoundingly shocking performance of either political ineptitude or political tone-deafness (I haven't decided  which) on Sunday's Meet the Press program.

In fact, I'm increasingly thinking it was inept to the point that he possibly let his blind ambition get the better of him, because in the segue below, it's none other than hoary old Wall Street crone, Jim Cramer, who makes a point that Booker should have reinforced resoundingly: that Willard Mitt Romney is a job destroyer, and that he's had this singular reputation from his Bain Capital association ever since he first ran for political office against Ted Kennedy in 1994. In fact, it's the campaign strategy - emphasizing the job-destroyer aspect of Willard's reputation - which was successful in winning Ted Kennedy another term in the Senate, and it's the one thorn in Willard's privileged ass which everyone from the President (now) and his Republican primary opponents have relished sticking deeper into the filet mignon flesh of Willard's rich ass ... because he won't address this. He keeps moving the goalposts.

Cramer was totally emphatic in pushing this point, and his panel cohort from the Wall Street Journal agreed ... only to be shot down by the one panel participant who actually represented living, breathing politics and who actually was supposed to be a supporter of the President.

Watch what is now infamous:-

Specifically, Booker's words were:

I have to just say from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity. To me, it’s just we’re getting to a ridiculous point in America. Especially that I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people invest in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this, to me — I’m very uncomfortable with.

Steve Kornacki is rightfully blunt in his assessment of Booker's performance, whilst reminding people that, before Barack Obama had come onto the political scene, Cory Booker was the name being bandied about as possibly being the nation's first African-American Presidential hope back in 2002, when he won his mayoral election.

Playing up Romney’s Bain record is, of course, central to Obama’s general election plan. Romney is running as a business-savvy “job creator” and relying on the public’s tendency to associate private sector success with economic competence. There is no overstating how vital it is for Obama and his campaign to break that link, and to establish that Romney’s real expertise is in making investors rich – not adding jobs and improving the quality of life for middle class workers.

In belittling this strategy, Booker isn’t just breaking with Obama, he’s breaking with just about everyone who’s ever run against Romney – including Ted Kennedy, who used criticisms of Bain’s treatment of workers to pull away from Romney in their 1994 Senate race. Essentially, Kennedy created the blueprint that Obama is now using. Booker is also providing Republicans with a dream talking point: 

Even an immediate attempt to walk back his remarks hours later on a YouTube feed did little to stem a lot of consternation Democratic viewers saw in what they interpreted to be somewhat of a betrayal of the President by a Democratic operative on the election trail.

In a follow-up article today, Kornacki highlights the fact that Booker's high-profile, his political ambitions and his Wall Street connections, in addition to his faux pas on MTP yesterday morning, have already placed him on shaky ground with his Newark constituents, with whom the President is immensely popular.

Not that Booker wasn't lauded for his remarks. He was. In fact, Joe Scarborough and his panel made Booker the centrepiece of their discussion this morning, heralding his courage and spinning the message that more Democrats stand with Cory Booker than with the President. Oh, and John McCain tweeted Booker his support and encouragement also.

I actually think the most accurate assessment of Booker's brainfart-in-the-public-eye moment comes from Adam Serwer:

This isn't the worst example of disloyalty or veering off message, but if you're a Democrat who finds it "nauseating" to even discuss how some people end up needing the social safety net, you may be in the wrong party. 

The incongruity of the situation, for me, is that someone like Jim Cramer would so totally get an important campaign point, when someone as clever and politically au fait as Booker totally didn't.

The President had best reassess the efficacy of Booker as a political operative ... and bench him.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Tale of Two Honest Brokers of Information

Two famous news anchors appeared on talk shows this past week, albeit one who has - or was, effectively - retired from network news.

Friday night saw 80 year-old Dan Rather being interviewed by Bill Maher and the nine-minute interview was a brilliant masterclass of opinion regarding the state of the news media today. Rather subtly, yet articulately, condemned the corporatisation and politicisation of the news media as the cause of the epidemic of elevating the trivial to the highest level of importance in the news media.

That was only part of what was an extremely watchable, albeit brief, interaction. Maher, when he wants to be, is no mean interviewer, himself; his problem is that he coasts along on generalisation and misinformation for three years and prods himself awake each election year. In this interview, we see the Maher who really wants to see himself as a serious pundit, and Rather gives him the respect he deserves, by answering some very prescient questions posed.

As the last surviving anchorman of the golden age of news, when - as he mentioned CBS's Bill Paley as recognising - there was a firewall between the profit-making entertainment of a network and the public service provided by a responsible news entity associated, Rather brought home the damage done by corporations bedding down with government to deceive the public with blatant broadcast misinformation and false equivalency.

Watch the interview below:-

Earlier in the week, NBC's Brian Williams, currently the highest-paid news anchor in the nation, sat down with David Letterman for a lenghthier interview.

I know this was on an altogether lighter note, but watch Williams's pithy obfuscation to some of Letterman's remarks and enquiries, especially around the four-minute mark when Letterman takes Williams to task for Williams's inherent false equivalency in implying that Obama's taking down bin Laden as somewhat easier for the President "inheriting" a somewhat easier situation because the war was "winding down." Also infuriating is the way Williams sidesteps Letterman's question. In this instance, it's Letterman who forces the point, and the "honest broker of information" who's the corporate man and, therefore, distinctly less than honest.

Gosh, how I miss the days of Rather, Huntley and Brinkley, Peter Jennings and wise Uncle Walter!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Synonymous with Racism

There are just so many ways you can emphasize racism without actually saying it. Looks like we've learned nothing from 2008.

Real Time Blogging

The monologue's not great, but the Rather interview is good, especially the bit about factual news vs opinion news and the news media as corporate. Panel ... not so great. Bill Bradley is the only one who actually speaks sense, and he's too much of a gentleman either to interrupt the prick on his right and the bitch on his left who have to speak only to go orgasmic at the sound of their voices. Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and Jeremy Scahill are the worst examples of how Right and Left hate on Obama. I'd like to give them both a smack.

Talking about racism during the latter panel - Bill won't acknowledge either his racism or the subtle patronising type practiced by the Progressive Left. Shame.

Back to the most important issue now that the President has supported same-sex marriage: legalising drugs.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Racial Politics

Because that's really what this is all about.

The Religious Right Exploits "Family Values" to Promote Bigotry

Ever hear of the Family Foundation of Virginia?

Well, I hadn't until recently, but as soon as I heard the name, the word "HATE" suddenly became emblazoned upon my brain.

It's a given. Most any organisation which has the word "Family" as part of its name can almost be assured to

(a) be part and parcel of the Religious Right


(b) promote hatred of a certain demographic.

The Family Foundation of Virginia are  different. Take a look at their website. You're almost immediately assailed with a collage of cute, little baby pictures which morph into a headless woman, dressed in jeans, her hands clutching her very pregnant belly, accompanied by words imploring you to sign their pro-life petition.

It's aims?

The mission of The Family Foundation is to strengthen families in Virginia by applying founding principles and faith to policy and culture. The organization seeks to establish through citizen advocacy and enactment of Virginia law a safe, prosperous and wholesome climate for families. All of its public policy decisions are based on the principles of life, marriage, parental authority, constitutional government and religious liberty.

Founded in 1985, The Family Foundation has steadily grown to become the largest and most influential Virginia-based organization of its kind. The Family Foundation now resides in downtown Richmond, just a few hundred feet from the state Capitol and General Assembly Building. Today, The Family Foundation comprises a full-time professional staff in Richmond, coordinating grassroots efforts of a network of tens of thousands of pro-family, citizen activists throughout Virginia. The organization is wholly supported through the voluntary generosity of Virginians, their churches, businesses, foundations and civic organizations.

In our history, The Family Foundation has established a reputation among Virginia lawmakers for extensive research capabilities and in-depth analysis of prospective legislation. By researching issues, educating lawmakers, providing critical data, research and analysis, and coordinating statewide support for positive initiatives designed to enhance the culture in Virginia, The Family Foundation has become an important asset for members of the Virginia General Assembly.

Our values have a voice. The Family Foundation’s work starts at home with the family, equipping parents and youth with a variety of networks and resources so they can plug into important values issues. Communities benefit by the Family Foundation’s pro-family perspective in the media, as well as local briefings, nationally-renowned speakers, and published educational materials. In Richmond, the Family Foundation is your advocate for pro-family values in the General Assembly, strategizing with elected officials and testifying in legislative committee meetings.
 The emphases and the underlinings are mine, but you can see - geographically, politically and philosophically - that this organisation is very, very close, indeed, to the State Government of the Commonwealth of Virginia, especially now since the current occupant of the Statehouse holds a graduate degree from Liberty University and espouses the right (and Right) party politics. They are, quite succinctly, a religiously-oriented lobby group meddling in governmental affairs, and that make me positively puce with anger, especially since that greatest of Virginians, Thomas Jefferson, spelled out, succinctly, that Church and State were separate entities entirely with no interactions at all - and spelled it out in what's been called the most important book written in America before 1800. I'm talking about Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia.

These people should read this book, but then, if they read it, they'd only ban it as blasphemy. It's certainly no coincidence that Lil'Bob McDonnell has rescinded most of the state funding normally due that great public institution of higher learning, the University of Virginia, and channelled it, instead, to Liberty University. UVa, after all, promotes stem cell research; Liberty thinks Adam and Eve lived with dinosaurs.

They also tout, amongst their "legislative achievements"  the infamous abortion centre regulations, the passage of which made Bob McDonnell figuratively cream his sodden y-fronts, and was the first of many anti-woman regulations his sorry government sought to impose upon the Commonwealth.

The Family Foundation's five main areas of concern, as advertised on its website are Life, Marriage, Parental Authority, Religious Liberty and Constitutional Government. Sound like Teabaggers? You got it, even though they've been in existence since the 1980s. Their "Marriage" section has very interesting reading regarding its aims, which are, I think, pretty nefarious:-

  • Strengthening Marriage
  •  | Virginia’s no-fault divorce laws make unilateral divorce too easy. These laws need to be tightened to encourage marriage counseling and to protect the best interest of children.
  • Opposing Domestic Partner Benefits
  •  | Homosexual advocates have worked to diminish the status of marriage by providing marriage benefits to any relationship. Already, private companies in Virginia can do so. Despite a marriage amendment that prohibits this, efforts are underway to expand this to state and local government.
  • Opposing Homosexual Behavior as a Protected Class
  •  | Every year there are efforts in Virginia to add homosexuality to the list of protected classes in non-discrimination laws. This is not only unnecessary, as no evidence of discrimination exists, but has potential negative ramifications on religious liberty.

It's bad enough that they want to make divorce bloody difficult - I mean, why encourage a woman to leave any abusive relationship where she's beaten black and blue for the fun of it; they are also promoting discrimination and abject bigotry and hatred of LGBTs, even to the point of blanketing any evidence of discrimination against these people by simply stating that there's no evidence that it exists.

And gay people are really their biggest fear and their biggest target. Because it was the Family Foundation who put the boot in the nomination of Tracy Thorne-Begland as a district judge. It seems that Thorne-Begland's nomination, with bipartisan support, no less, was tootling along nicely in the General Assembly, when three days before the vote, someone alerted the Family Foundation to the fact that a wicked, evil gay man was about to be confirmed as a district judge in the Commonwealth.

I wonder who that informant was?

That alert prompted an e-mail to the Foundation's supporters, which also appears as a blogpost on their website, entitled "Judge Not?Will General Assembly on Monday Elect Controversial Attorney to State Bench?"

It makes very interesting, if distasteful, reading.

One of the individuals who will be voted on by the General Assembly Monday as a nominee for a judgeship, Tracy Thorne-Begland, has a long history of political activism, was at the forefront of repealing the federal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and once served as a board member and vice chairman for Equality Virginia, the commonwealth’s largest and most influential homosexual activist group. In fact, this nominee for Richmond’s 13th General District Court was with President Obama when he signed the repeal of DADT. Additionally, Mr. Thorne-Begland has lashed out publicly against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on a host of issues related to the homosexual agenda, saying, ”He’s already stood in the way” in relation to Mr. Cuccinelli’s urging of public colleges and universities to follow state law when it comes to non-discrimination policies. Thorne-Begland also criticized Mr. Cuccinelli for being “against hate crime laws” and “employment discrimination” protections based on sexual behavior.
Bad enough that Mr Thorne-Begland was the front man for what normal people would consider a civil rights' organisation, what was worse, however, was that he was "with" that most unAmerican of Presidents, Barack Obama, when he signed the repeal of  "Don't Ask Don't Tell." Far worse was the fact that Thorne-Begland lashed out against Ken Cuccinelli's attempt to legalise discrimination against LGBTs - one lawyer to another, you understand.

But that's not the real worry the Family Foundation wanted their supporters to stymie:-

 There is additional concern that, once appointed, a progressively minded judge would be fast-tracked by a liberal governor or president to a higher court, such as the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Considering that judges have extraordinary power, one would hope that they would have a commitment to the state and federal constitutions that overrides their personal political agendas.

When one is a judicial nominee who has shown himself to be willing to personally violate the law (he violated DADT while in the Navy) and publicly attack a sitting attorney general who is enforcing the law, we share the concerns of several members of the General Assembly, and would hope that it takes a long, hard look at whether that person should elected to the bench.

Until we can be assured he will not put his obvious political agenda ahead of the law, we don’t believe he should be approved.

Aided and abetted by homophobic, Luddite Delegate Bob Marshall, the Foundation achieved its goal. Thorne-Begland's nomination was defeated, and once again, Virginia is exhibited to the nation as a state in the throes of a recidivist, theocratic government, intent on ruling by by fear-mongering and encouraging hatred, discrimination and bigotry.

Virginia is no longer for lovers. Of any type.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bob Marshall Disgraces Virginia

Sometimes, things just aren't the way they seem. The name "Marshall" is a fine, old Virginia one. It's the name of the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the man who established judicial review in the case of Marbury v Madison. Driving down old Route 55 in Fauquier County, you can still see the beautiful old home of Chief Justice John Marshall, not far from the small town which bears his name.

Next-door to Fauquier County, sits Prince William County, our hipper, more upbeat and cosmopolitan neighbour. Prince William, home to Manassas, was the place to go when I was in high school and Fauquier County was Hicksville. There were multi-screen cinemas and Manassas Mall where we'd all hang out on a Saturday. Prince William people were just that much more urbane and savvy than their country cousins in Fauquier.

Enter Bob Marshall, long-time member of the Virginia House of Delegates. Even though, I daresay this Bob used his surname freely when campaigning the first time around - name recognition, you see - Bob Marshall is not one of those Marshalls. Like the other Bob in the Statehouse, Bob Marshall is a Carpetbagger, but that's not all he is.

Bob Marshall is the face of ultra-conservatism in the Virginia Republican Party.

Earlier this week, when the Republican-controlled House of Delegates rejected the judicial nomination of openly-gay prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland, the Commonwealth was on display for all in the nation to see as the last bastion of bigotry and general dumb-assedness.

Ne'mind that this gentleman had broad bipartisan support, the Speaker of the House pulled a scurvy trick and called for the vote at 1AM in the morning, when several delegates had gone home, insuring a defeat for this nomination.

And leading the charge was Bob Marshall.

Bob Marshall also led the charge for what was essentially legalised rape for women wanting abortions.

Ever since 2009, and more specifically, ever since last year when people decided not to get up off their asses and go to the polls in the state elections, ever since we let the damned Republican weasels into the Democratic chicken coop - that's right, I said chicken coop - we've had to sit by and see this merry band of scrubbed-up crackers, mean girls rejected by sororities and Carpetbaggers just chip, chip, chip away at Virginians inherent rights and make us the laughing-stock of the nation.

And I say that as a livelong Democrat and tenth-generation Virginian who got all her liberal thinking and ideas from her Virginian parents, her Virginian public schools and the University of Virginia.

People who matter in the Commonwealth see this act for exactly what it was, as stated by Thorne-Begland's boss, Commonwealth's Attorney Michael N Herring:-

It is hard to think about what happened at the General Assembly and not conclude that it is a form of bigotry. It causes people around the country to question Virginia's ability to be tolerant and to be inclusive.
I'll say it does.

It might interest - or frighten - Luddites like Bob Marshall to know that support for same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth is on the rise. In a poll conducted by The Washington Post last year, 47% of Virginians favoured same-sex marriage, whilst 43% were against it, with 10% having no opinion at all. I'll bet, with the President's recent remarks, that approval figure has risen.

And in light of the embarrassing brouhaha that erupted around the invasive ultrasound controversy earlier in the year, many high-ranking and virulently anti-gay Republican politicians in the Commonwealth, are walking away from Marshall and his ilk in this instance - people like Governor Fawn-and-Cringe, himself, Bob "I-Wanna-Be-Vice-President" McDonnell, as Rachel Maddow  brilliantly pointed out in an on-air editorial on Tuesday night.

Following suit, other Carpetbagging Virginia politicos, Jersey Shore transplant and Obamacare warrior, Ken Cuccinelli, and Lt Governor Bill "West-Virginia-used-to-be-part-of-Virginia-I-wanna-be-Governor-too" Bolling made hefty distances from this decision, so much so, that it was difficult to identify who emanated the biggest stinks - the cowards in the House of Delegates or the cowards who were formerly rabid homophobes, themselves. Echoing Sponge Bob Bob McDonnell, they both admitted on record that a person's sexuality should not prejudice any consideration for employment, on the State level or on any level, although to Bolling's credit, he has always endorsed judicial appointments being determined outside the politicized House of Delegates.

But, that didn't stop the other Bob, Bob Marshall, from expostulating his antiquated views of the situation in an interview on CNN, which is surely to become infamously embarrassing for Virginia and Virginians:-

From the moment this idiot brought sodomy as a civil right into the argument, anyone with a smidgeon of common sense just knows every known prejudice comes into play with this man when having to consider the appointment of any openly gay person to any position within the State government. He's a homophobe, purely and simply; and like any homophobe, he's got to back his prejudice up with a reference to religion:

When I was in public school, we all went through a ritual. I know you may find it strange, that said keep us from temptation. This was because we said the Lord’s Prayer. Nobody – nobody should go where they’ll be tempted. That includes me, that includes you, that includes a prospective judge.

Well, that was before Madeleine Murray O'Hare reminded the Supreme Court of separation of Church and State, with an emphasis on schools being a secular instrument of the State.

It should also come as no surprise to me that the Virginia Code still bans sodomy.

Bob Marshall represents urbane, cosmopolitan Prince William County.

Rather than leave you with ugly thoughts about a man best suited to the 1850s Know-Nothings, I'll leave you with a nicer and more uplifting image, from Signal Mountain, just in back of my home in Fauquier County - a lovely black bear, much nicer than Bob Marshall or his gang of thugs operating out of Richmond.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Civics 101 on Morning Joe

Where Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania explains why our government is built on compromise and why, without it, we are dead as a nation. Required viewing for those who still think the power lies mainly in the Executive Branch.

Sometimes you learn the strangest things in the most surprising places.

Breaking News: Dubya Endorses Willard ... In an Elevator

George W Bush, late of the Oval Office, has finally announced that he supports Willard's Presidential bid. In short, Dubya has endorsed Willard.

The former President endorsement for the presumptive Republican nominee on Tuesday evening and was given by Bush from the confines of an elevator in downtown Washington as the doors shut.

Yes, you read that right. Bush endorsed Willard in an elevator. No public announcement, no attending press (save the reporter from The Washington Post who shouted out the question, Luke Russert-style, as the doors snapped shut.

Bush may be many things, but he still is the last Republican occupant of the White House and served two terms. His endorsement of the presumptive nominee would carry weight and gravitas ... but he chose to endorse the man from the confines of an elevator.

Could the Republicans be more reluctant in their support of a candidate? Even with echoes of same-sex marriage floating in the air?

In the meantime, it's mete to remember that, although George Bush may be many things (and I'm certainly no fan of the man's), he's the only Republican who's shown the current any modicum of respect. When goaded to comment on the current Administration, Bush famously demurred, saying:-

“I’m not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena. He deserves my silence. . . . I think it is essential that he be helped in office.”

All the while, Willard's out on the stump, praising up Bill Clinton's infamous Second Inaugural remarks about the era of big government being finished.

This is going to be a strange election. 

Extortion Is Against the Law, Speaker Boner

I speak a little German, amongst other things - enough to know that John Boehner (his pronunciation Bay-ner) should really pronounce his surname as Boner. So I say "Boner;" I also say "to-mah-to," but then, I was born and raised in Virginia and live in the UK.

Anyway, it seems as though Mr Boner has learned nothing from the debt ceiling debacle of last August - except that in his own formaldehydrated brain, he and his party won and all the difficulty was the fault of the President. He's back on the same old same old message he pushed last year regarding the debt ceiling, which is due - yes - to be raised at the end of this current year:-

Did you hear that? Boner is still strutting his stuff from last summer like a dyed-in-the-orange-wool bantam rooster, crowing that we shouldn't fear the debt ceiling, that it had become a singular piece of action in a town infamous for inaction - infamous for inaction because he and his ilk took a solemn pledge at the altar of Frank Luntz to stymie and stifle every piece of legislation the President proposed, wanting and willing him to fail.

He is still saying that any increase in the debt ceiling must be met with an equal decrease in spending. Austerity by any other name.

Austerity reigns in Europe at the moment, to no one's avail. The French revolted (again) and threw out Saint Sarko, and on Sunday in the German local elections, the Deutschers hammered the current reincarnation of the Iron Lady. All eyes are on Greece, in a lose-lose situation. If Greece defaults, the cack hits the fan economically here. If Greece leaves the Eurozone (and the European Union), an equal amount of fiscal fecal matter will fly skyward, eventually landing in the US.

At the moment, the Republicans hold the house, where all fiscal legislation must begin. Boner isn't just holding the country, the President and the Democrats to ransom this time, this is bloody extortion - and even if the Democrats win back the House, the Tea Party-controlled majority will wag the dog big time in a lame duck surprise just in time for Christmas.

I'm just a pleb, but the last time I looked, extortion was against the law. Maybe it's time Boner's constituents thought about sending him back to the family bar. For good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


For anyone who buys into the fallacy that MSNBC is the Left's answer to Fox, I call bullshit. MSNBC may have a few noticeably Left-leaning moderators of their political talk shows, but most blow with the wind of political fashion. Remember when Christ Matthews, who certainly should know better, deemed Michelle Bachmann a "hero, who's going to go all the way?" Or Ed Schultz, a former Republican, in a pique with the President, telling people not to vote?

In my opinion, the network bears too unhealthy a close relationship with The Huffington Post, long regarded a bastion of liberal/progressive thought, when it's anything but. It's a cleverly disguised tool for ratfuckery, and Madame makes certain her operatives out and about convey the decisive anit-Obama message she wants to transmit.

Howard the Hack Fineman is a political analyst. Widdle Sammie Stein crops up regularly when he can get time off school, and sorority gossip girl Alex Wagner has her own gig.

It seems the object of this election cycle is to make the President look as bad as it is possible to big up Willard and make him look good. There's no show which does that more than Morning Joe, but I expect that. Scarborough is, after all, an ex-Republican Congressman, and his roundtable every morning is populated by what is possibly the largest conglomeration of testosterone that side of Wall Street. No wonder Mika looks pissed off.

Now the spin coming out of MSNBC is to push two memes: the fact that the most recent CBS/New York Times poll shows Obama now losing support of women and trailing Mitt Romney. The second meme being pushed is that most voters are turned off by the President's declared support of gay marriage - not because they oppose gay marriage, but because they see it as a cynical political move.

It's always easy to discredit and distrust the black man.

Here are two clips, one from this morning's Morning Joe and another from today's show fronted by the insipid and inarticulate Alex Wagner.

Scarborough is a bully and imposes his personality and point of view on the panel. He's creaming his knickers at the prospect of Willard leading the President in a poll, and amongst women; and it tickles his Rightwing fancy that two-thirds of voters polled think the gay marriage support was politically motivated.

Four hours  later, and MSNBC are still pushing this forcefully. After all, repeat a lie enough, and it becomes the truth; and who better to push the buttons than Wagner, herself; but she's joined by Rev Al Sharpton, who's been around the political block a few times, himself, and the Brit Martin Bashir, who gives Wagner a masterclass in why the President can't achieve everything she's so disappointed that he hasn't achieved and won't push: Congress. That a British subject has to come to the old Colonies and school an American - a political commentator at that - on how the government works and how realistic a President has to be in an election year just shows what a shameful lot of failing hacks our political media are.

And ignorant. As Al Sharpton says, giving Wagner pause for thought, perhaps the President respects his base more than his base give him credit for doing. Instead of making them feel good, he tells them the realities of a situation - not that they listen; and as Bashir is quick to point out to Madame, the President didn't gain politically for supporting gay marriage - an opinion, not a law. That galvinised the Right to roster behind Willard.

And finally, Al Sharpton schools Wagner in the inanity of single issue voting: Stay at home. Enable the Republicans. (Maybe this is what Scarborough means when he says that a majority of voters now think Mitt Romney can significantly change Washington?)

Change you can believe in with Willard is an unflinching veer to the hard Right.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Needing a Knife for Your Nose, Reverend?

This African-American pastor, Rev Dr Emmett Burns, who's also a state legislator, plans on sitting out this election and telling his congregation to do so as well?

Why? Because the President supports same-sex marriage, and that offends the good reverend and his flock.

First of all, religion and politics are supposed to be totally separate in our government, so if the Rev Dr Burns is  allowing his religious beliefs to interfere in his legislative activities, then he needs to bow out of government right now. Secondly, a pastor has no control nor any right to dictate to his congregation how they should vote or even if they should vote at all.

What goes on in the voting booth is between a voter and his conscience, just as what goes on in prayer is between the person praying and his god.

Same-sex marriage may not be to the Rev Dr Burns's personal taste. Indeed, he may believe what he reads in the Old Testament of his Bible - that it's an abomination; but by sitting out this election, he is enabling the very people who just might strip him of his Social Security or his Medicare. They might force his daughters or granddaughters to bear children conceived in rape or to carry through a pregnancy to term that might endanger their own lives as well as the child's. Staying at home may eventually deny his children or grandchildren the opportunity of higher education. His non-vote may place people in power who still believe in "property rights" as a euphemism for Jim Crow. His non-vote may enable people with the power to turn the country around on the proverbial dime and re-direct it down the road, back to the future that's the Fifties - and I suppose the Rev Dr Burns can remember the Fifties as a time when he flourished ... not.

Staying at home in a sulk because the President supports same-sex marriage might make the Rev Dr Burns feel sanctified and self-righteous, but it might also enable the Republicans to take the reins.

And that would truly be an abomination.

White Privilege, Gay Marriage and Legalised Pot

There's no pleasing some people. And this particular President seems to have not pleasing "some people" down to an art.

For example, he can't do anything that would please the Republicans - not adapting their own ideas for healthcare reform, not keeping the Patriot Act ticking over, not even killing Osama bin Laden. Nothing, absolutely nothing could ever please these people, short of the President resigning and insisting that the Presidency be handed to someone like Paul Ryan to oversee.

OK, all of the above is understandable. The Republicans, are, after all, the opposition, and if they were in power, I'd hope nothing they did would satisfy our side as well.

But there's something to be said when nothing the President does is acceptable to some people who purport to be Progressives, and in this respect, they've even proven themselves as intransigent as the Republicans, themselves - even to the point of allying with them (as when Jane Hamsher climbed into Grover Norquist's political bed to call for killing the healthcare bill, vocally supported by Stank Cenk Uygur, in a misguided and  completely naive attempt to force Congress to initiate a single-payer plan for the United States).

Now that the President's advocated his support for single-sex marriage, that simply isn't good enough for some dyed-in-the-wool Progressives. It's almost a requirement that a hardcore Progressive choke on his own vomit rather than give President Obama credit for anything at all, and Scott Tucker is no exception, as evidenced by a particularly nasty piece of snark written for Truthdig, entitled Obama and Gay Marriage: Thanks for Nothing.

That's right. Thanks for nothing, Mr President.

This concession, extracted from one of the emptiest suits ever to enter the White House, will be lauded by anyone and everyone inclined to vote by rote for career Democrats.
The honor of the real struggle over the years and decades does not belong to such politicians, but to gay couples and rebel queers of all kinds. First and foremost to ourselves. So thanks to all of you—all of us—who fought the good fight.
And for those who “evolved” themselves into triangulating and calculating career politicians: Thanks for nothing.
As for Obama lauding “incredibly committed monogamous relationships,” just consider making that argument in defense of allowing straight couples to marry. Yes, because heterosexuals really set the gold standard for monogamy. Obama never sounds more fake than when he is laying on the morals, monogamy and militarism with a gilded trowel.

Look, I understand this man's frustration, but his head is so far up his proverbial ass that he doesn't see that activism of the sort he cites is exactly what awakened the President to proclaim marriage as a right for anyone of age, irregardless of gender or race. As early as 2009, the President was urging activism, and imploring the public to "make me do it."

What certainly didn't work for healthcare reform (a lot of armchair quarterbacks and whiners) certainly did work for same-sex marriage, and kudos to the activists who kept at the President like a dog with a bone. Remember: every time a President throws his support behind a particular civil rights issue, it invariably becomes the law of the land - eventually, as this is a states' issue.

As it happens and as Scott Tucker is so determined to ignore, the President has actually accomplished a lot in the advancement of civil rights for the LGBT community, the most obvious being the repeal of DADT. You can read a list of his accomplishments here, something that, assuredly, makes him the most gay-friendly President of any time.

Scott Tucker's anger has an oddly familiar sound, and it's a sound that creeps surreptitiously further and further from the Left until it actually appears to emanate from the Right. In fact, the blogger Deaniac83, blogging on The People's View, identifies Tucker's problem perspicaciously and even names it.

 The discounting of all of this in favor or a litmus test on marriage from anyone who claims to care about the LGBT community, let alone be part of this community, can be described with one simple word: privilege. To go even further and claim that the withholding of donations from those who are privileged was the principal reason for the president's "evolution" is the epitome of elitism. It is a scathing belittling of not just the advancements in gay rights that have been made under President Obama but the critical problems facing the LGBT community that those advancements address. It is the refusal to understand that when a gay kid is being kicked and having his head bashed in with a baseball bat, the ringing sound in their ear as they pass out is not wedding bells. It is the utter disregard of the fact that when you want to get to the bedside of the person you love the most in this world, and when that person is suffering without the comfort of your company, the first thing you look at is not your ring finger.
This brings us to the most insidious undercurrent of much of the "Lefty" opposition to President Obama in general, and the discounting of this history-making moment in particular: the unspoken white economic privilege. Everyone with privilege is not part of the problem, of course, but way too often, and specifically in this case, it is that economic and social privilege that allows a self-described queer activist and many like him to boldly claim that the first president ever to support marriage equality and the first black president is "an empty suit." And it is that galling level of elitism that refuses to recognize that for many, the path to embracing marriage equality is a journey, sometimes as much of one as it is for a gay person to accept oneself.
Another person who's spent the past four years implying that the President is, amongst other things, if not an "empty suit," then certainly a spineless appeaser and someone who caves into demands regularly, is self-styled political fundit Bill Maher. Even though he's sought to buy indulgences make amends for subtly suggesting that Obama's really not worth supporting by donating a million bucks to the President's SuperPAC, he still manages to whine about how inadequate the President has been on promoting Bill's own favourite unicorn wedge issue - the legalisation of pot, and he got in a few swipes in his editorial on this week's Real Time:-

The fact that Joe Biden, seemingly, instigated the final stages of the President's "evolution" on the subject of gay marriage, offers the Professional Left just the hero - the Great White Hope - they need in apportioning credit and identifying the hero of the piece. Even the New York Times's resident bitch and Maher's Celtic soul sister finds it easier to give kudos to Biden's verbal-cerebral disconnect than to credit the President with anything remotely courageous.

So Maher reckons that Biden should next hoist legalisation of marijuana as his next personal crusade, and maybe the poor, beknighted President, who needs to be helped and guided along by those who know better, will follow suit in supporting this.

"White privilige" and "elitism" are too nice a phraseology for me, and I don't think these continuous and gratuitous critics coming from the Left and aiming at the President (and all the while aiding and abetting the Right) should be called any less than what they are: Racists.

Not a pretty word, but there you go; and it sits them squarely amongst the poor, ignorant and toothless inhabitants of the Red States, whom they decry, in witholding support and credit from someone clearly acting in their interests - because the Republicans certainly won't be.

There are so many things that need to be addressed in this country - none less important than the economy, the jobs' situation and the crippling cost of higher education. It's simply dismaying that the core issues, for some, in this election cycle are boiled down to same-sex marriage and legalised pot.