Some government shutdown reading

First – let’s be clear on who’s responsible for this debacle:

The truth of what happened Monday night, as almost all political reporters know full well, is that “Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance.” (Thank you, Guardian.)

And holding the entire government hostage while demanding the de facto repeal of a president’s signature legislation and not even bothering to negotiate is by any reasonable standard an extreme political act. It is an attempt to make an end run around the normal legislative process. There is no historical precedent for it. The last shutdowns, in 1995 and 1996, were not the product of unilateral demands to scrap existing law; they took place during a period of give-and-take budget negotiations.

Shutdown coverage fails Americans

As the rest of the world laughs at the United States:

“The world looked on with a little anxiety and a lot of dismay, and some people had trouble suppressing smirks,” wrote Kevin Sullivan in a piece for Malaysian outlet Awani entitled, “US shutdown leaves the world scratching its head.”

While Russia Today devoted an entire article to U.S. shutdown comedy, featuring noteworthy images and tweets carrying the #govtshutdown hashtag, photojournalist Lynsey Addario tweeted from India that the shutdown was not being taken too seriously.

“I’m in India, and my driver and translator are laughing at U.S. govt shutdown. So much for world’s great superpower. It’s closed,” she said in a Tuesday tweet.

As US shuts down, rest of the world looks on with bemusement, laughter

And of course Indiana has to show up as a national embarrassment, courtesy Todd Rokita being a dumbass on television:

Continue ReadingSome government shutdown reading

DoubleXplainer: What is a vagina?

Double X Science: DoubleXplainer: What is a vagina?.

What is a vagina?

First, let’s just practice saying the word. Vagina. Vuh-ji-nuh. VAGINA!

OK. Why are we practicing this? So that we can avoid suffering from the fluttery sensibilities of one Rep. Mike Callton of Michigan who, upon hearing colleague Rep. Lisa Brown use the word vagina during a speech on the Michigan House floor, commented:

What she said was offensive. It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.

So here we have a fellow who is so squeamish about female anatomy that he won’t even use the appropriate terminology for that anatomy in front of the people who have the body part. So beflustered are his tender feelings about the word vagina that he and the Republican leadership of the Michigan house of representatives refused to allow Rep. Brown speak again when discussing a bill about retirement of school employees. I assume they were concerned that somehow, she’d drag in the dreaded V-word again while talking about pensions.

All for the transgression of saying the word “vagina.” Vagina.

Continue ReadingDoubleXplainer: What is a vagina?

Open Letter to that 53% Guy

Max Udargo on the Daily Kos delivers a great response to to the guy calling people whiners for not working 70 hours a week, and telling people to “suck it up” and stop blaming Wall Street. Read the whole response, because it’s worth it. But this particular bit stuck out to me (emphasis mine):

Here’s how a liberal looks at it: a long time ago workers in this country realized that industrialization wasn’t making their lives better, but worse. The captains of industry were making a ton of money and living a merry life far away from the dirty, dangerous factories they owned, and far away from the even dirtier and more dangerous mines that fed raw materials to those factories.

The workers quickly decided that this arrangement didn’t work for them. If they were going to work as cogs in machines designed to build wealth for the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Carnegies, they wanted a cut. They wanted a share of the wealth that they were helping create. And that didn’t mean just more money; it meant a better quality of life. It meant reasonable hours and better working conditions.

Eventually, somebody came up with the slogan, “8 hours of work, 8 hours of leisure, 8 hours of sleep” [note from Steph: I never heard this before. I like it!] to divide the 24-hour day into what was considered a fair allocation of a human’s time. It wasn’t a slogan that was immediately accepted. People had to fight to put this standard in place. People demonstrated, and fought with police, and were killed. They were called communists (in fairness, some of them were), and traitors, and many of them got a lot worse than pepper spray at the hands of police and private security.

But by the time we got through the Great Depression and WWII, we’d all learned some valuable lessons about working together and sharing the prosperity, and the 8-hour workday became the norm.
The 8-hour workday and the 40-hour workweek became a standard by which we judged our economic success, and a reality check against which we could verify the American Dream.

If a family could live a good life with one wage-earner working a 40-hour job, then the American Dream was realized. If the income from that job could pay the bills, buy a car, pay for the kids’ braces, allow the family to save enough money for a down payment on a house and still leave some money for retirement and maybe for a college fund for the kids, then we were living the American Dream. The workers were sharing in the prosperity they helped create, and they still had time to take their kids to a ball game, take their spouses to a movie, and play a little golf on the weekends.

Continue ReadingOpen Letter to that 53% Guy

I don’t get it at all

A Democratic congressperson was SHOT in the head. Six people were killed. And the media is STILL allowing things to be said like “We don’t know the motivation of the shooter?” We don’t? Because *I* do. I follow politics, and I’m not an idiot – I can see exactly what happened here.

And Republicans in Arizona are criticizing the Pima county sheriff for going on television and TELLING THE TRUTH about what is going on in Arizona.

They have to be KIDDING. This is their doing. They have blood on their hands, and they are criticizing the sheriff? The nerve. The gall. The brazenness of it. I can’t believe it.

I actually heard a pundit on a news program claim that “the same vitriol came from left during the last administration.”

REALLY? People were threatening to SHOOT Republicans? To “Exercise their second amendment remedies?” WHEN? Where? I defy you to tell me when this happened. Because it never did. This shit is ONLY COMING FROM THE RIGHT. And now that it’s come to fruition, all the threats – they need to own it. To acknowledge it an apologize.

And the calls for civility? No way. I’m not being civil. They started the violence. I don’t have to be nice about it. I have to be angry about it.

Continue ReadingI don’t get it at all

links for 2010-02-21

Continue Readinglinks for 2010-02-21

Politics vs. Policy

It’s thrilling to see Rachel Maddow continue each night to point out the Republican’s hypocrisy in favoring politics over policy – trashing bills that they know have substance and will be good for their constituents. I really enjoy watching her show every day. I think I’ve learned more from it than any other news program on television.

It occurs to me that President Obama is doing something similar with health care, isn’t he? He’s continuing to try bipartisan measures in a congressional climate where they are just not going to be effective, and in doing so jeopardizes the policy that would be good for the American people. Isn’t continuing to reach across the aisle some measure of theatrics, where Obama wants to be seen as the guy who tries to work with everyone? Isn’t it about his image as a man of the people, rather than real reform?

And I don’t think that the tone of politics in Washington can be changed merely by “doing the opposite” of partisan bickering. Swimming against a rising tide is not necessarily the answer. There’s a reason why politics have arrived at the place they’re at right now. It seems to be that standing back and trying to understand why the tide is coming in the way it is right now is the key to fixing that.

It’s true there’s a major logjam in politics right now, but is he there to fix that problem, or is he there to get good legislation on behalf of the American people? It doesn’t seem like he can do both, and it seems like the latter should trump the former on the agenda. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, and in truth, it’s more important to help the American people than to please them – especially when so many people have no idea what they really want, but it’s pretty clear what they need.

Continue ReadingPolitics vs. Policy

links for 2010-01-29

Continue Readinglinks for 2010-01-29

I vote for “Not Joe Liberman”

About 2010, here is one thing I can say with certainty. Every cent of every dollar I spend on political contributions in the year 2010 is going to go to whatever Democrat is running against Joe Lieberman in his next election. I don’t care who it is, as long as it isn’t Joe.

According to the New York Times:

The day before, Mr. Lieberman threatened on national television to join the Republicans in blocking the health care bill, President Obama’s chief domestic initiative. Within hours, he was in a meeting at the Capitol with top White House officials.

And on Monday night, Democratic senators emerged from a tense 90-minute closed-door session and suggested that they were on the verge of bowing to Mr. Lieberman’s main demands: that they scrap a plan to let people buy into Medicare beginning at age 55, and scotch even a fallback version of a new government-run health insurance plan, or public option.

At this point, the health care reform bill has been stripped of so many provisions, it’s basically meaningless, and will serve only to help insurance companies — the same carrion birds that have been picking over the corpses of middle America for years now. There’s no point whatsoever in trying for reform. Ridiculous, futile and waste of time.

UPDATE: Howard Dean is apparently calling for the Senate to kill the Senate version of the bill as worthless and to return to the house bill through the reconciliation process. Probably the best idea for retaining some semblance of actual reform.

Continue ReadingI vote for “Not Joe Liberman”