Crooks and Liars
There are many people who are full-on crackpots who try to hide who they are behind religion. I don't want to hear anything more ever said about morals or values coming from them.
Colmes: ...you then said, I asked for whom else are you praying in that fashion and you said President Obama. Are you praying for his death?(Click for remainder.)
Colmes: So you're praying for the death of the president of the United States?
Drake: Yes. Are you concerned that by saying that you might find yourself on some secret service call or FBI most wanted list. Do you think it's appropriate to say something like that or even pray for something like that?
Drake: I think it's appropriate to pray for the will of God. I'm not saying anything, what I'm doing is repeating what God is saying, if that puts me on somebodies list then I'll just have to be on their list.
Colmes: You would like for the president of the United States to die?
Drake: If he does not turn to God and does not turn his life around I am asking God to enforce in imprecatory prayers throughout the scripture that would cause him death, that's correct.
Gutter Snipe and Walking Reason for Late-Term Abortions, Ann Coulter, Gets Her Ass Handed to Her Over Notre Dame Issue
Crooks and Liars
How does Ann Coulter, appearing on Gerald Rivera's Fox show last night, react to President Obama's speech at Notre Dame? Why, by attacking the faith of the students who attended and applauded, and especially that of Notre Dame administrators, of course:
Coulter: I don't think he was speaking to people who have any objections to abortion. I think more interesting than watching Obama give a speech for graduation, um, they should have had the administrators of Notre Dame onstage taking a polygraph test on whether they believe in God.Quoth the woman who has yet to have ever declared herself a practicing member of any faith, let alone Catholicism. She eagerly declares herself a Christian, while blithely uttering such Christian remarks as: "Those few abortionists were shot, or, depending on your point of view, had a procedure with a rifle performed on them. I’m not justifying it, but I do understand how it happened."...(Click for remainder.)
Um, apparently being a professor at a chic Catholic university is a good gig, and you're respected, and you get paid well. But no, I don't believe these people are serious, genuine, practicing Catholics.
Crooks and Liars
While talking about the dustup between David Letterman and Sarah Palin, Republican strategist John Feehery instantly tried to say that no one made jokes about Chelsea Clinton. Contessa Brewer wouldn’t let that go and stopped him right in his tracks, which led Feehery to try and claim that Chelsea wasn’t 14 when the jokes were being made. Brewer then corrected that and reminded him, complete with finger wag and all, that Chelsea was only 12.
Considering how offended Sarah Palin is by Letterman’s jokes, I am sitting here wondering if she will boycott Rush Limbaugh now. Ok you caught me – I’m not wondering. We all know the answer to that, just like we saw how she never seemed to worry about the “jokes” her former running-mate made about Chelsea....(Click for original.)
Crooks and Liars
When that Homeland Security bulletin on right-wing extremism was issued two months, C&L was among the first to point out the report's complete factual accuracy. In retrospect, there are some methodological issues with the bulletin, which Leonard Zeskind ably limns; and the report's political framing unfortunately left it open to political attack.
Yet, as we've seen this week, it was clearly prescient in warning about the dangers posed by lone wolves and small-cell terrorists. Shepard Smith notwithstanding, everyone at Fox has been pushing hard to convince the public once again the DHS report was wrong. Next: Rupert Murdoch is the King of the Moon.
Among them: Neil Cavuto yesterday on his daily Fox News program. He invited a Gulf War vet named Matthew Burden on to talk about how wrong the report was. This produced some real howlers.
Burden: Well, first of all, this report was poorly written, and it was a completely unprovoked attack on our veterans.Well, regardless of its literary qualities, the report in fact was not only perfectly accurate -- it was in fact issued largely in response to the shooting of three police officers in by a right-wing extremist Pittsburgh the week prior. Moreover, the warning raised regarding veterans was strictly about the effort by right-wing extremist groups, particularly neo-Nazi organizations, to recruit returning veterans -- a fact that had already been long established....(Click for remainder.)
Jeff Lax and Justin Phillips put together a dataset using national opinion polls from 1994 through 2009 and analyzed several different opinion questions on gay rights. Here I'm going to talk about their estimates of state-by-state trends in support for gay marriage.
In the past fifteen years, gay marriage has increased in popularity in all fifty states. No news there, but what was a surprise to me is where the largest changes have occurred. The popularity of gay marriage has increased fastest in the states where gay rights were already relatively popular in the 1990s.
In 1995, support for gay marriage exceeded 30% in only six states: New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, and Vermont. In these states, support for gay marriage has increased by an average of almost 20 percentage points. In contrast, support has increased by less than 10 percentage points in the six states that in 1995 were most anti-gay-marriage--Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Idaho.
Here's the picture showing all 50 states:
(Click for remainder.)
Obama Defends DOMA in Fed. Court. Says Banning Gay Marriage is Good for Federal Budget. Invokes Incest and Marrying Children
Joe and I have been trying since last night to get a copy of the government's brief just filed in this case. This is not the GLAD case that we've written about previously, it's another in California.
We just got the brief from reader Lavi Soloway. It's pretty despicable, and gratuitously homophobic. It reads as if it were written by one of George Bush's top political appointees. I cannot state strongly enough how damaging this brief is to us. Obama didn't just argue a technicality about the case, he argued that DOMA is reasonable. That DOMA is constitutional. That DOMA wasn't motivated by any anti-gay animus. He argued why our Supreme Court victories in Roemer and Lawrence shouldn't be interpreted to give us rights in any other area (which hurts us in countless other cases and battles). He argued that DOMA doesn't discriminate against us because it also discriminates about straight unmarried couples (ignoring the fact that they can get married and we can't).
He actually argued that the courts shouldn't consider Loving v. Virginia, the miscegenation case in which the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to ban interracial marriages, when looking at gay civil rights cases. He told the court, in essence, that blacks deserve more civil rights than gays, that our civil rights are not on the same level.
And before Obama claims he didn't have a choice, he had a choice. Bush, Reagan and Clinton all filed briefs in court opposing current federal law as being unconstitutional (we'll be posting more about that later). Obama could have done the same. But instead he chose to defend DOMA, denigrate our civil rights, go back on his promises, and contradict his own statements that DOMA was "abhorrent." Folks, Obama's lawyers are even trying to diminish the impact of Roemer and Lawrence, our only two big Supreme Court victories. Obama is quite literally destroying our civil rights gains with this brief. He's taking us down for his own benefit....(Click for remainder.)
This week, the country's attention was captured by the horrific shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, allegedly by James W. von Brunn, an 88-year-old man with ties to white supremacist and anti-Semitic organizations. The fatal shooting came just two months after an April 7 Department of Homeland Security report detailing potential increases in right-wing extremism.
As Media Matters for America documented, the DHS report was immediately and vehemently rejected by numerous conservative commentators, such as Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, and David Asman, who portrayed it as an illegitimate and politically motivated assault on conservatives. (Media Matters Senior Fellow Karl Frisch puts the attacks in even broader perspective here.)
Following the Holocaust Memorial Museum attack, these commentators faced criticism for their earlier dismissiveness. Some have since unconvincingly (and in the case of Joe Scarborough, inaccurately) defended their past assessment, and a handful of reporters and analysts are still engaging in falsehoods and inconsistencies in criticizing the DHS report. But on Fox News, Shepard Smith took a different position -- for which he was attacked by conservatives -- saying that the report "was a warning to us all. And it appears now that they were right."
The day before the Holocaust Memorial Museum attack, Media Matters Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert wrote that Fox News and its hosts "will have more right-wing vigilantism to explain." He added that "militia-style vigilante rhetoric has become a cornerstone of the conservative media movement in America, and it's now proudly championed by Fox News on a nearly hourly basis." (He also appeared on CNN this week.)...(Click for remainder.)
ACLU Blog of Rights
The world is watching as America attempts to come to terms with the abuse it unleashed in the aftermath of 9/11, and trying to assess whether there will be any sort of accountability for the perpetrators of the abuse. With a wide-ranging Spanish criminal investigation into torture at Guantánamo threatening to embarrass the U.S., Barack Obama recently decided to declassify legal memos prepared under the Bush administration, apparently in the hope the country would move on. The opposite has happened. Ever more documents set out in meticulous detail the full extent of the cruelty: who was abused by whom, how they did it and what was done. The truth is gradually being revealed in stark detail, from the number of times waterboarding was used to the legal deliberations that led to it. New photos have not yet been released, but it seems inevitable that in due course more graphic details will emerge. President Obama has even raised the possibility of a U.S. criminal investigation, although his opposition to a truth commission or other forms of inquiry may be undermining his credibility in some quarters. Nevertheless, developments since he took office have been significant.
Perhaps it was inevitable. When Obama took office, evidence of torture was already strong. Susan Crawford, the Bush-appointed head of the Guantánamo military commissions, confirmed that the use of stress positions, sleep deprivation, dogs and forced shaving on detainee Mohammed al-Qahtani was torture. President Obama’s attorney general and the head of the CIA agree that waterboarding is torture. The issue was not how to characterize the acts, but what to do about them. By intervening, Spanish prosecutors seem also to have catalyzed debate on what to do about the senior lawyers and officials involved, particularly Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, Jim Haynes, John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Doug Feith, those fast becoming known as the Bush Six.
The situation remains volatile. Obama assured CIA interrogators that "those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice" would not be prosecuted. Using careful words, he did not, however, say no to all prosecutions, period. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel did say that. His words provoked a storm. The president promptly overrode him: "With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions," he said, "that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general … and I don’t want to prejudge that." Further investigation is inevitable. History shows that without some kind of formal accountability it is not possible to “move on”....(Click for remainder.)
On Loofah Factor, Beck Again Denied Krugman's Account of Beck's Remarks About FEMA "Concentration Camps"
Since my earlier post, AMERICAblog has been busy at work parsing the briefs from the Department of Justice's motion to dismiss the federal same-sex marriage case brought by Smelt and Hammer. There's plenty more to read.
Of the DOJ's rationalization, they write:
"Obama didn't just argue a technicality about the case, he argued that DOMA is reasonable. That DOMA is constitutional. That DOMA wasn't motivated by any anti-gay animus. He argued why our Supreme Court victories in Roemer and Lawrence shouldn't be interpreted to give us rights in any other area (which hurts us in countless other cases and battles). He argued that DOMA doesn't discriminate against us because it also discriminates about straight unmarried couples (ignoring the fact that they can get married and we can't).Americablog also says that the Justice Dept. is lying to Politico in a defense of the brief....(Click for original.)
"He actually argued that the courts shouldn't consider Loving v. Virginia, the miscegenation case in which the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to ban interracial marriages, when looking at gay civil rights cases. He told the court, in essence, that blacks deserve more civil rights than gays, that our civil rights are not on the same level.
"And before Obama claims he didn't have a choice, he had a choice. Bush, Reagan and Clinton all filed briefs in court opposing current federal law as being unconstitutional (we'll be posting more about that later). Obama could have done the same. But instead he chose to defend DOMA, denigrate our civil rights, go back on his promises, and contradict his own statements that DOMA was "abhorrent." Folks, Obama's lawyers are even trying to diminish the impact of Roemer and Lawrence, our only two big Supreme Court victories. Obama is quite literally destroying our civil rights gains with this brief. He's taking us down for his own benefit."
In responding to the June 10 shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, several conservatives in the media have suggested that the alleged shooter, James von Brunn, reportedly a neo-Nazi, was a "leftist," as Talking Points Memo's Zachary Roth has noted. Indeed, in some cases, those media figures have stated or suggested that Nazism itself is "a leftist phenomenon" because the English translation of the official name of Adolf Hitler's political party was the "National Socialist German Workers' Party."
In a New Republic review of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning -- a book that furthers a similar premise and includes a chapter titled "Adolf Hitler: Man of the Left" -- Guardian America editor Michael Tomasky wrote that Goldberg's theory constitutes "revisionism" because, among other things, "there exist about a million nearly epileptic quotes from Hitler and [Josef] Goebbels and other Nazis expressing their luminous hatreds of liberalism and of communism."...(Click for remainder.)
On the June 11 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly falsely asserted that Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) reportedly "says the Obama administration is now ordering military people to read captured Taliban and Al Qaeda their rights in Afghanistan." In fact, the Weekly Standard article that reported Rogers' claims said that, according to Rogers, "the Obama Justice Department has quietly ordered FBI agents to read Miranda rights to high value detainees captured and held at U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan." It did not say that military personnel had been ordered to read Miranda rights to detainees. Additionally, on the June 10 edition of Special Report, Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported: "U.S. commanders tell Fox soldiers are not reading Miranda rights to detainees, but those commanders could not speak to the FBI doing so."
Additionally, on the June 10 edition of Special Report, Stephen Hayes, who wrote the Weekly Standard article reporting Rogers' claims, stated: "Well, it's interesting that back in the campaign, if you remember, this was a punch line for Republicans. You know, Barack Obama would like to read detainees their Miranda rights. And now we find out that this is, in fact, happening." Hayes then added: "There are reports that this was happening on specific bases as going back as early as July 2008. But what Mike Rogers seems to be saying is that this is happening on a more consistent basis, and that the FBI and the Justice Department don't want to talk about it." Additionally, Griffin reported that "[t]he Justice Department saying tonight that detainees at Bagram have been Mirandized in the past." Griffin also stated that Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd stated that "[t]here has been no policy change nor blanket instruction issued for FBI agents to Mirandize detainees overseas" and that "there have been specific cases in which FBI agents have Mirandized suspects overseas at both Bagram and in other situations in order to preserve the quality of evidence."
As Media Matters for America noted, on the June 10 edition of Fox News' Hannity, just hours after Hayes reported that that the FBI also Mirandized people at "specific bases" during the Bush administration, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich described "[t]he idea that we pick up, in a war zone, a terrorist" and read them Miranda rights as "unimaginable. It's worse than anything Jimmy Carter ever did. It's worse than anything that President Bill Clinton ever did." Neither Gingrich nor host Sean Hannity noted Hayes' assertion....(Click for remainder.)
Washington City Paper
Bishop Harry Jackson, leading opponent of gay marriage in the District, entered the No-Spin Zone this evening.
Jackson was featured in a five-minute segment midway through the O’Reilly Factor, as proof, according to host Bill O’Reilly, of “the staggering hypocrisy of the left and media that enables the far left to do these things.”
Some backstory: On June 5, Lou Chibbaro Jr. reported in the Washington Blade that Jackson had only recently registered to vote in the District and that he listed his residence as a one-bedroom apartment in the Whitman, a Mount Vernon Square condo building. That, of course, is germane because he is (a) a proponent of a referendum on a District law and (b) required to be a registered District voter to do so. Earlier this week, Chibbaro added to his report, reporting that virtually no one at the condo building had seen Jackson and that Jackson is maintaining his residences in Maryland.
On Wednesday, at a hearing before the Board of Elections and Ethics, Jackson took time to decry the disclosures, calling them a threat to him and his family and an attempt to intimidate him and other same-sex marriage opponents.
On O’Reilly, he continued his protestations.
“Well, Bill,” he started, “they hacked into my records, found out when I registered to vote in the District of Columbia. They printed in two newspapers my home address and the addresses of houses I own in the Maryland region, outside D.C. And there have been e-mails that have gone forth saying they want to destroy my church. Kind of amazing, isn’t it?”...(Click for remainder.)
You might think that the American Medical Association, which today came out in opposition to a "public option" on comprehensive health care reform, is just a bunch of doctors trying to do what's best for their patients, and that their opposition to the public option is a mere disagreement over details.
And you'd be wrong. The AMA is not just a bunch of doctors, but among other things an extremely lucrative lobbying organization that has given more than $12 million in campaign contributions to federal candidates since 1998. And since 1998, according to the nonpartisan OpenSecrets.org, some 64 percent of the AMA's donations to federal candidates have been to Republicans -- although 2008, in which the AMA gave 56 percent of its contributions to Democrats, was a notable exception.
The disparity is especially noteworthy on the Senate side, which arguably has a greater role in passing health care reform. Since 1998, almost four-fifths of the AMA's donation to Senate candidates have been to Republicans (including 64 percent in 2008). They have been a bit more equitable on the House side.
(Click for remainder.)
Why, when there are so many major issues of importance needing reasoned discussion, does Fox Nation choose topics which stir up hatred by Fox Nation inhabitants towards Americans? After the last little bout of “anger” you’d think that somewhere, in the bowels of the Murdoch “evil empire,” somebody would say “enough.” But no, Fox Nation keeps getting its hate on – an on an on – with a site devoted to topics guaranteed to getting that hatred up to a nice, smooth simmer. One wonders what the percentage is in appealing to a narrow and hateful demographic whose dislike of “the rest” of us is, not so articulately expressed, on Fox Nation. Perhaps it’s a form of group therapy – a place where haters can feel comfortable clinging to the last vestiges of an increasingly archaic culture that doesn’t reflect today’s “American Dream.” But the “beat goes on, the beat goes on. Drums keep pounding rhythm to the brain…”
Today’s lede articles aim straight at the gut of the pitchfork gang: “Palin Demands Letterman Apology, Tells Americans To Rise Up” – “NY Times Paul Krugman Blames Beck For ‘Right Wing Extremist Hate” – “Exclusive, Carrie Prejean. I’m a Victim of My Beliefs” – and “What, Washington Post’s Kinsley Says National Anthem “Has Got to Go.” There is a big photo of Obama next to Putin with the caption “Notice the Similarities, Some Do.” (236 comments on that one!) There is an article about how Pelosi is “Putting Our Troops in Danger.” And under "Culture" (Ha!) there is this: “Hateful Faithful on the Left Help Ax Miss California” which is an article by Dan Gainor, by one of Brent Bozell’s acolytes over at the Media Research Center (no bias there, no sirree!). The article about Chastity Bono’s sex change is in with a group of other articles and doesn’t have a comment section. One can only imagine the level of discussion that would engender. And while there is an article about the military recruiter shooter claiming that the shooting was justified, there is nothing about Scott Roeder’s bizarre worldview. The only article about the Tiller murder was taken down a week ago. And the only article about the Holocaust Museum shooting is a thread, taken from Brent Bozell’s Newsbusters, about a nasty, bad reporter from a Texas newspaper who “equates the tea party protesters with Holocaust Museum shooter.” Actually, the reporter’s article is far more nuanced; but leave it to Fox Nation to take a discussion about the climate of hate and turn it into a hate fest. Way to go Fox Nation.
I’ll leave you with some comments from the Kinsley thread. His article, from the Washington Post, is basically about the difficulties of singing the National Anthem. But the pitchfork gang see this as treason. While the Second Amendment is worshipped by Fox Nation – the First, not so much. (There was an anti-ACLU thread last week.) But I gotta hand it to Fox Nation. It provides a convenient one stop center for all the hateful stuff (directed at the "libs") that Fox News, in the interest of “fair and balanced,” can’t really put on their site. If you’re sick of biased media, avoid Fox Nation – like the plague!
If you're Bill O'Reilly, and your guest is someone like, say, Ellis Hennican, who basically kicked your little fanny in a debate on the media coverage of Dr. George Tiller v. Private William Long (see my post here), what would you do to make yourself feel big and bad again? Yup, I'd do that too – have lapdog Laura Ingraham on to smooth ruffled feathers, agree with everything I say, and massage that massive ego back into shape. Last night (6/11/09), on The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly introduced his “yes (wo)man,” Ingraham. With video.
Okay, but first, let's do a little hypothetical. Say you've got a very powerful woman, upper-echelon politician, and she's very vocal, preaching about abstinence only education, always preaching about the evils of abortion – even in the case of rape or incest – and she's all about those right-wing “family values” (which Dr. Laura Schlesinger, of all people, even criticizes). Now, suppose this woman has a 17-year-old daughter who gets knocked up, who supposedly even had sex right there in this woman's own house. And yet, to my knowledge, Sarah Palin has never, to my knowledge, publicly backed down on her abstinence-only stance. Here's a little food for thought: First, does this woman sound like she needs any “empowering” from the feminists? Second, is this a woman anyone should take seriously in terms of setting sexual education policy in the country – or on the planet, for that matter? Third, isn't this a woman who would naturally, in the marketplace, be the butt of jokes, ridiculed, mocked as a hypocritical, talking-out-of-both-sides-of-her-mouth, double-standard-pushing family values failure? Ladies and gentlemen, meet Sarah Palin.
O'Reilly, predictably, was outraged at a joke told recently by David Letterman about Palin's daughter (and it seemed fairly obvious to most of us – as Letterman later clarified – which daughter he was referring to (hint, it wasn't Piper or Willow).
“Now,” O'Reilly intoned, “David Letterman last night had to address the Palin controversy – before I play you the clip, though, Laura, I want to just read you the newspapers that did not cover . . . huge story, huge story . . . .” O'Reilly read a laundry list of news outlets that “didn't mention it.”...(Click for remainder.)
In my post noting that Sean Hannity had ignored the killing of the Holocaust Museum guard Wednesday night, I asked, “Can there be any doubt that if it was a Muslim and/or African American who shot and killed a guard at the Holocaust Museum, instead of a white supremacist suspect, that it would have been a major story?” It turns out there didn't need to be even a threat of violence. Rev. Jeremiah Wright said, “Them Jews aren’t going to let (President Obama) talk to me,” added some critical remarks about Israel and voila! It was the top story on Hannity last night (6/11/09). Hannity made a show of clucking over the Holocaust Museum shooting but he sat silent and approving as guest Star Parker suggested that the more dangerous anti-Semites are Wright and Obama. With video.
Yes, the same Hannity who found nothing newsworthy in the murder of the Holocaust Museum guard allegedly committed by a white supremacist, the same Hannity who leapt to the defense of Mel Gibson after he made anti-Semitic comments, the same Hannity who repeatedly welcomed a Neo-Nazi to his radio show and the same Hannity who never expressed regret for having hosted Andy Martin as a featured guest on Hannity's America despite a history of anti-Semitism - yes THAT Sean Hannity was so full of outrage over Wright's remarks that he had to call in two like-minded guests (without any opposing views) to help him spread the hate mongering around.
Wright's remarks were not just the top story but the headline for the show. “This time, the president's old friend is targeting the Jewish community,” Hannity said gravely. Apparently thinking that nobody in his audience would realize or care that Hannity has no kind of record of sympathy for Jews (except when he can attack someone else in their name), Hannity added, “As shocking as that tape is, doesn't it pretty much fit what we already know about Jeremiah Wright? How he spent years in his church spewing the most vile hatred.” That was a cue to reprise the “G.D. America” video played so often last year that most of us can probably recite it in our sleep.
It's no surprise that Hannity should fixate on Rev. Wright. Max Blumenthal, the journalist who first reported on Hannity's relationship with white supremacist Hal Turner (recently arrested on charges of inciting violence) said during the height of the Wright controversy, “Jeremiah Wright... has given the right a way to mobilize resentment against Barack Obama that they never had before ... [Wright] is presented as the quintessential angry black man that the right wing loves to incite hatred against. So Sean Hannity is running with this as far as he can.” ...(Click for remainder.)
FLASHBACK: Obama Campaigned on Pro-Equality Agenda, Elected After Supporting Civil Rights for GLBT Americans
Now we have a big problem. Andrew Sullivan discovered that one of the three Obama Justice Department attorneys who wrote and filed the anti-gay DOMA brief last night is W. Scott Simpson, a Mormon Bush holdover who was awarded by Alberto Gonzales for his defense of the Partial Birth Abortion act. Funny, on first reading the brief this morning, I wrote the following:
It's pretty despicable, and gratuitously homophobic. It reads as if it were written by one of George Bush's top political appointees.And it was! At least a Bush employee. And a Mormon to boot.
No wonder the brief was so filled with hate and bigoted religious right talking points, such as comparing gay marriage to incest and pederasty. Obama let a Mormon Bush Justice Dept. employee create his public position on DOMA with the courts. This is really beyond the pale. I can't wait until Obama let's W. Scott Simpson write the brief in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade....(Click for original.)
The Denver Post
As a Canadian living in the United States for the past 17 years, I am frequently asked by Americans and Canadians alike to declare one health care system as the better one.
Often I'll avoid answering, regardless of the questioner's nationality. To choose one or the other system usually translates into a heated discussion of each one's merits, pitfalls, and an intense recitation of commonly cited statistical comparisons of the two systems.
Because if the only way we compared the two systems was with statistics, there is a clear victor. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to dispute the fact that Canada spends less money on health care to get better outcomes.
Yet, the debate rages on. Indeed, it has reached a fever pitch since President Barack Obama took office, with Americans either dreading or hoping for the dawn of a single-payer health care system. Opponents of such a system cite Canada as the best example of what not to do, while proponents laud that very same Canadian system as the answer to all of America's health care problems. Frankly, both sides often get things wrong when trotting out Canada to further their respective arguments.
As America comes to grips with the reality that changes are desperately needed within its health care infrastructure, it might prove useful to first debunk some myths about the Canadian system.
Myth: Taxes in Canada are extremely high, mostly because of national health care.
In actuality, taxes are nearly equal on both sides of the border. Overall, Canada's taxes are slightly higher than those in the U.S. However, Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars, even beyond health care (e.g., tax credits, family allowance, cheaper higher education), so the end result is a wash. At the end of the day, the average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay. In the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent....(Click for remainder.)
By Marc Pitzke
More and more Americans support equal rights for gays and lesbians and oppose the ban on openly homosexual soldiers serving in the military. But Barack Obama seems to be behind the curve on gay rights -- and the calls for him to act are getting louder.
Not even the rain kept them away. First, there was only a handful, then a few dozen, and finally thousands. They marched from New York's West Village through the traffic to Union Square, chanting. Many carried posters and banners many with slogans like "Civil rights now," "Equality for all families" and "No tolerance for intolerance."
However, one banner showed a portrait of US President Barack Obama as a two-headed Janus figure. The left head was spouting Obama's famous 2008 campaign slogan, "Yes we can." But the right head was saying: "No we can't."
The recent march through Manhattan was officially directed against the refusal of the Supreme Court of California to annul the Proposition 8 referendum banning same-sex marriage. But many of the protesters -- who were mainly gay men and lesbians -- had another enemy in mind: Obama.
Obama's perceived hypocrisy makes the protestors almost more livid than Proposition 8 itself. In their opinion, Obama has chickened out of openly taking a stance on the latest act of the eternal American culture war surrounding gay marriage -- contrary to the hopes of gay Americans. "Where's Obama?" asks Lisa Ackerman, a lawyer who is marching through the rain with her girlfriend. "His silence speaks volumes."
Indeed, where is Obama? It's a question which is being posed increasingly often by gays and lesbians in the US. Despite their initial skepticism, they almost exclusively supported Obama in the presidential race once Hillary Clinton had been eliminated. In return, Obama had said he would be their "fierce advocate" and promised among other things to scrap the notorious Pentagon "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays in the US military and to help pave the way to the right to same-sex marriage....(Click for remainder.)
If you don't think Sarah Palin is dangerous -- and chances are, you are already do -- what she and her husband Todd pulled off this week is just the latest chapter in "Which Palin family member will be sacrificed to make Sarah Palin look like a martyr."
She got a significant percentage of the population to think David Letterman was actually making a sex joke about a 14-year-old girl and got Letterman to apologize profusely for something he never did.
Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg News put it best when talking to Keith Olbermann last night on "Countdown."
"David Letterman did not drag the 14-year-old daughter into this. The Palins dragged the 14-year-old daughter into it. And it was absolutely egregious. And they obviously hunger for this kind of melodrama."Just about anybody -- literally -- understood that when Letterman made the jokes about Alex Rodriguez and Eliot Spitzer, he was talking about Bristol, not Willow. If by some chance you believe Willow was the target, the jokes don't make sense, and Rodriguez and Spitzer would have excellent libel suits ready and willing to file against the late-night comedian.
But we haven't heard from the Yankees 3rd baseman or the former New York governor. Why? Because they know who the joke was about, and it wasn't about a 14-year-old girl.
The Palins claim that Willow was the target because she was the daughter who accompanied the Palins on the trip. If you believe Letterman had malice, let's start with this theory of Willow vs. Bristol.
Gov. Palin and her husband Todd assumed that Letterman was paying great attention to the specifics of their visit. Even if Letterman did see a picture, which isn't likely, but if he did, to be blunt, Willow looks like Bristol. If you remember the now-famous Christmas picture from late 2007, in looking at that picture, the two older sisters look very similar. Sisters often, but not always, look similar -- the beauty of genetics....(Click for remainder.)
DavidCorn.com @ CQ Politics
Look at this illustration that accompanied USA Today's story on a new poll on the Republican Party:
Who's missing? Sarah Palin. When Americans were asked who speaks for the Republican Party, the winner was Rush Limbaugh (13 percent). The next four were Dick Cheney, John McCain, Newt Gingrich, and George W. Bush (who was picked by 3 percent). Palin didn't make this list. Responding to this poll, Republican strategist Ed Gillespie told reporter Susan Page, "We cannot be a party of balding white guys." Gillespie, who has a decent crown of hair, ought to check that illustration. Only one of the five is non-balding; only one of five is not white. None are non-male.
In politics, there's always time to fill a vacuum in leadership. Perhaps the more troubling indicator for the GOP is this particular finding in the poll: 33 percent of the GOP respondents said they have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party. When one-third of your own rank-and-file doesn't like you, you're in trouble. (On MSNBC, super-smart analyst Charlie Cook noted that only 4 percent of Democrats are not pleased with their party.)
But does the GOP's disaffected third want the party to go more to the right or to moderate? That's not clear. But two-thirds of the Republicans polled said they yearn for the party to hold the conservative line. (A majority of the wider pool of respondents said the GOP should seek to attract moderates.)...(Click for remainder.)
Back when I used to do high school debate, there were all sorts of esoteric arguments related to the notion of positive and negative rights. The distinction, to simplify the matter greatly, is that a positive right is something that permits you to act a certain way -- something granted to you -- whereas a negative right is a claim to noninterference -- something that precludes action from being taken against you, either by government or by other people. You'll most commonly hear the distinction in association with libertarianism, as libertarians tend to regard positive rights as impure manifestations of government fiat power, whereas negative rights exist intrinsically outside of government, which in turn has a duty to protect them.
I never found this framing terribly satisfying as a matter of moral philosophy -- there are too many things which fall somewhere in between the two poles. But as a political matter, the distinction is potentially quite interesting.
Take for example the issue of gay marriage. When gay marriage is polled, it is almost always framed as a positive right, as in: "should the government permit Adam and Steve to get married?". I wouldn't necessarily say I find this framing biased -- since gay marriage is only permitted in six out of the 50 states and only came about in those states very recently, it is probably the more natural, plain-English way to ask the question....(Click for remainder.)
Fox Nation’s red, white, and blue advertisement says that “it’s time to say no to biased media.” Are the headline writers oblivious to this imperative or do they just not, in the interests of partisan propaganda, give a crap? I ask the question because today’s top lede makes this – ah – biased comment: “Repulsive Bill Maher Panel Slanders Reagan.” Isn’t the inclusion of a subjective modifier, before Maher’s panel's name, a teensy bit – ah – biased? (Are they referring to Maher or his panel or both as "repulsive?") But ya gotta love Fox Nation priorities. We have economic problems, conflict in the Middle East, and all sorts of other issues worth noting; but Fox Nation is concerned about what “the repulsive Bill Maher Panel" (Maher is a comedian) says. However, it does provide the Fox Nation with yet another opportunity to engage in yet more less than lucid primal screams about those evil liberals. And this story is a “twofer” because, as the photo shows, Maher was talking to an African American. Beyond inciting more hatred, this big, lede story is silly and yet another example of Fox Nation "biased media."...(Click for original.)
By Thomas Frank
The Tilting Yard @ The Wall Street Journal
Two weeks ago, former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline sent out a fund-raising letter asking for help paying down legal bills he incurred during one of his fights with that state's abortion providers. After recounting his battles with Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller and others, Mr. Kline moaned that "They must silence the truth by silencing the messenger."
The depiction of the state's abortion providers as a malign power capable of "silencing" whoever opposes them might seem absurd, but it is unremarkable for Kansas conservatives, who once routinely accused Dr. Tiller and his colleagues of pulling the strings controlling the state's politics.
What makes this particular fund-raising missive supremely awkward is that it arrived in people's mailboxes after Tiller himself had been silenced forever, gunned down in a Wichita church, allegedly by a man from the fringes of the antiabortion movement.
An interesting situation this, when persecution fantasy collides with the real thing. But I suspect Mr. Kline will be back to fund raise again, once the culture war's inevitable cycles of accusation and counter-accusation have played themselves out.
It began with the chorus of outrage directed at elements of the antiabortion movement after Tiller's murder on Sunday May 31. The crime, some suggested, was the logical culmination of certain pro-lifers' apocalyptic rhetoric and their penchant for singling out particular individuals to calumniate.
Pro-life leaders declared themselves shocked and surprised. How could this happen? And how could anyone associate them with this crime? After all, as far as we know, the man accused of the murder wasn't acting on anyone's instructions; he didn't go to movement meetings; he wasn't a member of the main groups dedicated to making Tiller's life difficult. He was, by all reports, an extreme outlier, a wingnut's wingnut....(Click for remainder.)