Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Stoopid It Burns: Palin Says Obama's 'Lack Of Experience' Leaves Him 'A Bit Over His Head' On HCR

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Really, it doesn't get more sublimely idiotic than it did last night on Greta Van Susteren's Fox News show, when she brought on Sarah Palin to attack the imminent passage of health-care reform.

Why oh why wasn't this a bipartisan bill? Van Susteren wondered. In a rational world, the simple answer would be obvious: Because Republicans have found it more politically expedient to simply oppose every step taken by President Obama. But of course in Palintopia, it's all President Obama's fault:
Palin: It really reflects a lack of experience of President Obama's, which -- it was warned about during the campaign that Candidate Obama didn't have executive experience, he hasn't been an administrator or a manager of anything. So to jump into this huge -- hugely important responsible position as President of the United States without the experience to know how to work across party lines, and to know how to administer and to manage a team to get policy through that makes sense, that's supported by the people -- it's a bit, um, it's a bit over his head, if you will. And, uh, things aren't going well, and the public is really voicing their frustration.
Of course, hearing Palin talk up her "executive experience" as somehow superior to Obama's is always occasion for low mordant chuckles, if not outright guffaws.

In the course of carefully examining Palin's public record as an administrator -- particularly her stint as Mayor of Wasilla -- for the investigative piece Max Blumenthal and I co-wrote for Salon in October 2008, I happen to be intimately familiar with just what kind of issues and decisions Sarah Palin dealt with on a daily basis.

Primarily, Palin was involved with such vital issues as which streets to pave in town, whether to put a levy for a sewer bond, and issuing proclamations of support for the Iditarod. Probably her most difficult issue involved construction of a new sports-activity center -- a project that turned into a gigantic financial headache for her former constituents.

So when she talks about cramming bad ideas down people's throats with deceptive tactics, she knows whereof she speaks.

But the notion that Palin's "experience" compares to Obama's background crafting legislation that affects the health and well-being of millions of Americans -- well, let's just say the guffaws are well earned.

Laura Ingraham Badgers Rep. Luis Guitierrez About His Catholic Faith Because He Backs HCR

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

So, I have a question:

Since when was it any damn news anchor's business how good of a Catholic their guests are?

Last night, filling in for Bill O'Reilly on his Fox program, Laura Ingraham invited on Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois to talk about health-care reform and comprehensive immigration reform, Ingraham took a wild tack to go after Gutierrez: She questioned him on how good of a Catholic he was, because he had announced he was voting in favor of President Obama's health-care package.

Her reasoning was that the national Catholic Bishops' conference had announced that anyone voting in favor of the bill would not be a good Catholic. As Gutierrez tried to politely point out, this really is a church-state separation matter. Or has Ingraham forgotten the bad old days when it was pro forma for anti-Catholic bigots to accuse Catholic politicians of doing the bidding of the Vatican?

Maybe Ingraham should ask those nuns who defied the bishops just how good of Catholics they are. Hold out your wrists, young lady!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Beck: Health-Care Reform Will Affect America Like The Bombing Of Pearl Harbor

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Glenn Beck continued his eliminationist attacks on progressives yesterday with a novel and absurd comparison:
Beck: History will equate this as, as big as the New Deal or Pearl Harbor. And if you think that's overstating the importance, remember we are talking about one-sixth of the U.S. economy.
As he was talking, the screen behind him showed the bombs falling on ships at Pearl Harbor and smoke billowing up in their aftermath.

Of course, Beck has also compared HCR to the 9/11 attacks.

Yeah, providing health-care insurance for millions of uninsured Americans is just like horrific and violent attacks that leave thousands of Americans dead.

The point, of course, is that the "progressives" pushing health-care reform are the "enemy within" intent on destroying America.

The rest of the rant was dedicated to exploring this in detail. He dismissed the CBO report that the health-care reform bill would result in a $130 billion deficit reduction in its first ten years by sniffing: "Well, that's a party in my pants!" -- because, according to Beck, it's just a "transition" to making health care a right, "just like FDR" intended. This notion is now being promoted, he said, by Cass Sunstein, who he pronounced "the most evil man, the most dangerous man in America."

You see, it's not deficit reduction that matters -- it's the loss freeeeedom! that HCR represents. HCR, according to Beck, is "slavery" and "oppression":
Beck: I promise you America -- oppression is one promise our government will keep.
Because, of course, decent health care is just so oppressive. Not to mention that it's like bombing thousands of Americans to death.

Obviously, there's no one left among the brass at Fox capable of keeping some kind of rational perspective in their broadcasts at all.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Palin And Hannity Agree: 'Procedural Tricks' On Health Care Are 'Unconstitutional' And 'Un-American'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sean Hannity interviewed Sarah Palin on his show last night, and it sounded like she was talking in a tin can, despite the pretty Alaskan backdrop. It sounded, in fact, like one of Sarah's old performances as an Alaska sports reporter; evidently a professional studio was not available.

But who cares about such niceties when you're busy accusing Democrats of violating the Constitution? Considering that the charge is not just loony but grotesquely hypocritical, standing on a soap box on a street corner might have been the most appropriate setting; a tin-can studio is a step up.

Palin claimed that the health-care reform effort was "about government control," and that the process in the House for passing it is "an unconstitutional process" being "crammed down our throats":
Palin: It's against the will of the people, it's undemocratic, it's un-American, this process. And, uh, if we don't stand up and become very enthused about calling our politicians on this, then more of this is gonna take place.
Later, Palin asks: "Is the Constitution not worth the paper it is written on, then?" Hannity natters on in agreement, claiming that the "Slaughter rule" would be challenged in court by his buddy Mark Levin.

Palin then added:
I think, Sean, that in our lifetime, this is the most undemocratic, unAmerican step that we'll have ever seen our Congress take. It's appalling, it's -- it takes my breath away that they would think that this is OK to do.

But again, we can't feign surprise. Remember, this is what Barack Obama had promised in the campaign, he said as a candidate that he was just days away from beginning the transformation of America.

Now, a lot of us love America, and we don't want to see this transformation into something that is unrecognizable, this European style of health care, in this case that we're talking about. But no, so many of us that love America and believe in what our Founding Fathers providentially had crafted for us, you know, our documents including our Constitution -- we don't agree with this fundamental transformation of America that Obama promised us. We voted for him anyway, he was elected anyway. And now Americans are kind of realizing that's what he meant by a fundamental transformation of our great country.
Yes, it's too bad for Palin and Hannity that a large majority of Americans greeted Obama's promise of a "transformation". That's what elections are about, you know.

And the notion that this transformation entails abrogation of the Constitution is just laughable -- because the procedures they're wailing and gnashing their teeth about have been part of standard House procedures for years.

You sure didn't hear Palin or Hannity complaining when Republicans used these same rules willy-nilly during their tenure of complete control of Congress earlier this decade. Indeed, Republicans "set new records" in their use of the so-called self-executing rules that are now in play for health-care reform:
When Republicans took power in 1995, they soon lost their aversion to self-executing rules and proceeded to set new records under Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). There were 38 and 52 self-executing rules in the 104th and 105th Congresses (1995-1998), making up 25 percent and 35 percent of all rules, respectively. Under Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) there were 40, 42 and 30 self-executing rules in the 106th, 107th and 108th Congresses (22 percent, 37 percent and 22 percent, respectively). Thus far in the 109th Congress, self-executing rules make up about 16 percent of all rules.
On April 26 [2006], the Rules Committee served up the mother of all self-executing rules for the lobby/ethics reform bill. The committee hit the trifecta with not one, not two, but three self-executing provisions in the same special rule.
These rules are long established procedural rules. A 2006 House report observed:
Self-executing rules are still employed on matters involving House-Senate relations. They have also been used in recent years to enact significant substantive and sometimes controversial propositions.
Among these:
On February 20, 2005, the House adopted H.Res. 75, which provided that a manager’s amendment dealing with immigration issues shall be considered as adopted in the House and in the Committee of the Whole and the bill (H.R. 418), as amended, shall be considered as the original bill for purposes of amendment.
Meanwhile, none of these people -- and particularly neither Hannity nor Palin -- objected when George W. Bush wiped his butt with the Constitution by wiretapping American citizens and instituting "enemy combatant" procedures for captured terrorists.

Because, you know, it's always OK if you're a Republican.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beck Steps Up The Eliminationist Attacks On Progressives As Health-Care Reform Effort Comes To A Head

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Well, I just got to spend ten blissfully Glenn-Beck-free days in China, which is probably the only place one can safely escape his wingnuttery these days. It's quite a different world there, and certainly nothing like what Beck himself frequently depicts it as (more on that later).

And what better way to reacclimate myself to the USA than to turn on Fox the afternoon of my return and watch yet another of Beck's patented eliminationist attacks on progressives -- followed the next night by yet another?

Ah, some things never change, do they?

On Monday, Beck continued his current theme that "progressives are a disease" by ripping into the effort to push health-care reform through Congress. He again warned that America was being destroyed from within by progressives:
Beck: I was, way back then, I said that America could never be destroyed from the outside. I remember the day that I said it because it was September 11th, and people were freaking out, and I was on my radio program and I said, militarily there is no equal, don't worry, if the world tries to attack us, and we've decided we're not going to bother with smart bombs, we'd control the world in a heartbeat, but that's not who we are.

Don't worry. The only way to destroy America is to rot it from the inside -- collapse our system from the inside. It's got to be one of us that brings us to our knees.

When I said that, I was trying to give hope to people. But I didn't have the full truth, because little did I know that there were people, our own countrymen, who are already here who are on the inside who actually want to do that -- bring our country to its knees. That's insanity.

... Progressives -- progressives are the ones that say you've got to rot America from the inside. You have to be inside in order to bring her down. It has been the plan the whole time. Make progress -- baby steps. Well, progress from where to what? From the Constitution to a democracy. We're not a democracy.

So now that it's happening, why is America surprised? They've been clear for a hundred years. Radical progressives are infecting America! By deceiving unsuspecting people on their true intentions!
A little later, he used the disease metaphor again to describe health-care reform:
Beck: What they're about to pass is not a tumor. Because the doctor can come over here and say, 'Yeah, there's a tumor here, and we've got to go in and cut this out.' I don't know if you can cut this tumor out. Maybe not. But you can try. But what they're about to pass is a bloodstream disease. It will be injected into our system and it will be incurable.
Then on yesterday's show, he continued (h/t Media Matters) to attack the health-care reform effort:

Beck: I think they're gonna pass this thing. They are gonna do whatever it takes to pass this, and they're not going to go the traditional way, they are gonna go the way of snakes and cockroaches. They're gonna crawl out in the cover of darkness, and they're going to pass this, make it happen one way or another.
In case anyone needs reminding, here's how I explained the nature of eliminationism in my last book, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right:
What motivates this kind of talk and behavior is called eliminationism: a politics and a culture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas in favor of the pursuit of outright elimination of the opposing side, either through suppression, exile, and ejection, or extermination.

Rhetorically, eliminationism takes on certain distinctive shapes. It always depicts its opposition as beyond the pale, the embodiment of evil itself, unfit for participation in their vision of society, and thus worthy of elimination. It often further depicts its designated Enemy as vermin (especially rats and cockroaches) or diseases, and disease-like cancers on the body politic. A close corollary—but not as nakedly eliminationist—are claims that opponents are traitors or criminals and that they pose a threat to our national security.

Eliminationism is often voiced as crude "jokes," a sense of humor inevitably predicated on venomous hatred. And such rhetoric—we know as surely as we know that night follows day—eventually begets action, with inevitably tragic results.
Beck, of course, has a long history of using such rhetoric to attack progressives:

It's almost enough to make you want to go live in China, isn't it?