Friday, March 30, 2007

Time for national health care

Republicans hate the very idea of publicly-funded national health care, but the fact is, we already have it. Dr. Edwin Leap explains the inconvenient truth:
The system is set up so that those who pay, cover their own bill and the bills of others. Fair or not, it’s the way it works. But it’s not unheard of. It’s similar to the way the costs of shoplifting are passed on to other consumers in retail stores. Someone is going to pay, because the store can’t absorb all of the cost of stolen items. Not that I’m equating non-payment with theft; it’s just a financial analogy. But there’s a parallel. When someone says to me that they wanted to see their doctor, but owe them money, and the same person drinks alcohol every weekend and smokes two to four packs per day, has a camera phone and a fresh tattoo, it’s hard to believe they simply can’t pay a bill. In that sense, the theft analogy may hold some water. But in the end, two facts remain; health care is expensive, and someone has to pay or else the system will not survive.
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Drowning in the mainstream

Republicans used to get away with calling Democrats "out of the mainstream". It worked when the mainstream was stocked with plump social issues like abortion, gay marriage, and school prayer.

There may have been a time when Democrats weren't mainstream for opposing the Iraq War. But those days are gone. Today, 59 percent of Americans say they support the August, 2008, Democratic withdrawal date for Bush's War. And while 33 percent oppose the bill, I can't help but wonder if some of those folks simple want the withdrawal date to be set even earlier.

But facts rarely get in the way of the Bush Administration's fantasies. Today, White House spokesblonde Dana Perino called Congress "out of the mainstream" for passing a spending bill that sets time limits on a troop withdrawal from Iraq.
“Now, their proposal is well outside of the mainstream. This is not a moderate bill. It is contrary to the Baker-Hamilton report. It’s contrary to the judgment of the President’s military advisors, and it’s contrary to the unanimous judgment of our intelligence community.”
There is so much wrong with these four sentences. First, since when does Bush care about the Iraq Study Group recommendations? The Democrats are more inline with the ISG than Bush. Second, two out of three Americans want Congress to set a withdrawal date from Iraq. Bush stamps his tiny feet and says "no", then calls Congress out of the mainstream.

Which means that a majority of Americans are also "out of the mainstream."

Let's get real. Bush doesn't care about the mainstream, whatever that means. He's said over and over he doesn't care about polls, or what the newspapers say. No, our President is playing to future generations of historians, and the grateful crowds who line George W. Bush Memorial Parkway on Uniter Not a Divider Day, to cheer the passing Christian-themed floats and military bands. They stand in awe of the President who brought Western-style freedoms to the heathen Muslims, thus vanquishing the terrorists who brought bedlam to our shores.

He knows this will happen, in the same way a chronic gambler knows the next roll will be lucky sevens.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A show about nothing

Here's Senator Leahy's response to President Bush's lame offer to let Rove and the rest dissemble off the record about the USA firings.

Kudos to the Senator from Vermont for not taking the bait.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

DeLay on Meet the Press

Tom DeLay (R-Prison Bound) just said we are fighting the 9/11 terrorists in Iraq.

Richard Perle hopes the surge will win the war in Iraq.

Now Delay says it's better to fight the terrorists in Iraq than "over here".

Democratiic Rep. Joe Sestak, who actually fought in Iraq, is being much to nice to DeLay. "Shouldn't you be in prison or something?" He didn't really say that, but he should.

Monday, March 12, 2007

300 ways to hate 300

This guy really, really doesn't like 300.
The Persian army is depicted as an army of monsters. They are all less than human: they're all horribly mutated in one way or another, hunchbacked and grotesque. They're not white. They're sexual perverts! (And while we get jokes about boy-loving men [this from Spartans, mind you—Spartans who are all dressed in very manly and heterosexual giant leather jockstraps], of course what we see is women engaging in some form of pantomime lesbianism—because why not titillate while also casting moral judgment?) Obviously, they deserve to be brutally slaughtered. It must be the will of God.

Never has a film made me feel so physically ill to be in the theater watching it. And it wasn't all the beheadings, although those were copious. I felt like I was being made to watch a Leni Riefenstahl movie, or the very worst bits of Birth of a Nation. And then there was even more to feel sick about, like the fact that the sole female character's only role seemed to be to allow herself to get raped by her husband's rival—and this was presented as heroic. What a vile, vile piece of trash.
I don't get out to the movies a much as I'd like, so the next time I do go, it probably won't be 300.

Update: The classical scholars at Obsidian Wings and their readers are all about ancient Sparta and triremes.

Bob Novak - a cautionary tale

I'm shock - shocked, I tell you - that Robert Novak would lie in an opinion column just so he could smear Hillary Clinton. The 76-year-old paleoconservative claims Hillary recently made up a story about growing up in Chicago and attending a Martin Luther King rally because she's scared of Barak Obama's candidacy. This spake Novak:
Hillary Clinton's road to the White House is not going as planned. Instead of a steady procession to coronation at the Denver convention, she is involved in a real struggle against credible opponents, led by Obama. No wonder she and her handlers were tempted to imply the existence long ago of a teenager in Chicago's suburbs who never really existed.
But Hillary had written about her Chicago childhood, and seeing MLK, in her 2003 book Why Robert Novak is a Lying Weasel. Nobody outside of Illinois had even heard of Obama four years ago.

To cut Novak a little slack here, it's worth noting his unusual childhood in Joliet, not far downriver from Hillary's hometown. Robert grew up Jewish, and his father, an itinerant organ grinder, coerced young Bobby to play the monkey as the two wandered up and down Canal Street in the Windy City, charming out of town businessmen and street pimps with their motley collection of fauz-Italian ballads. When Robert was a teenager, he fled his family to join a traveling carnival, where he was billed as Ho-Jo the Monkey Boy - 37 Flavors of Eye Scream! It was a horrible pun, but Novak had never spent a day in school and never noticed, or so he wrote in his 1972 autobiography Why I Am Such a Douchebag.

Sure, making up stories about political figures to score political points in a column that only really stupid people like to read is wrong, and I'm not excusing Novak, but a little background is in order.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I love it when Republicans eat their young

That sound you hear is the GOP coalition splitting:
The political equivalent of Britney Spears shaving the hair off her head, Ann Coulter made headlines at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) by calling Democrat John Edwards a faggot. Wearing a leather dress and a Christian cross around her neck, Coulter must be a liberal infiltrator whose purpose is to give conservatism a bad name.
Yes folks, that was written by a typing troglodyte at GOP USA.

Friday, March 09, 2007

300 big dumb guys

Check out A.O. Scott's inspired review of 300, which opened today.
The Persians, pioneers in the art of facial piercing, have vastly greater numbers — including ninjas, dervishes, elephants, a charging rhino and an angry bald giant — but the Spartans clearly have superior health clubs and electrolysis facilities.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Libby guilty

Jury found Scooter guilty on four our of five counts of perjury. He's a felon now. Can't vote or own a gun. But the Vice President will always return his calls.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Heraldblog v. prior restraint

A Kansas judge doesn't want you you to read this:

Breaking News: BPU Could Face Thousands in Fines
A confidential report reveals the utility didn't follow federal pollution regulations when upgrading its plants.
Justin Kendall
Published: March 1, 2007
The Board of Public Utilities in Kansas City, Kansas, may be liable for thousands of dollars in fines for failing to comply with anti-pollution regulations, according to a confidential document obtained by the Pitch.

Subject(s): Mary Gonzales, EPA, Board of Public Utilities, Susan Allen, Marc Conklin
The document was prepared November 16, 2004, by lawyer Stanley A. Reigel. It weighs the pros and cons of admitting to the Environmental Protection Agency that upgrades at BPU power plants did not comply with the federal Clean Air Act.

The report was hand-delivered to Marc Conklin, BPU general counsel and human resources director. The report is stamped “CONFIDENTIAL” and warns against duplication without Conklin’s approval. Conklin did not return a call from the Pitch.

BPU spokeswoman Susan Allen also declined to comment and instead sent an e-mail that read: “BPU cannot comment on a BPU confidential report. The Pitch should be aware that it possesses a confidential, legally protected document. The document should be returned to BPU.”

Mary Gonzales, president of the board of directors that oversees the utility, said Thursday that she was unaware of the report. Reigel did not immediately return a phone call on Friday to his office at the law firm of Stinson Morrison Hecker in Kansas City, Missouri.

When Reigel’s report was written, the EPA was auditing utility companies to see whether upgrades and repairs made after 1980 at coal-powered power plants followed federal guidelines. The letter indicates that the BPU was preparing to respond if audited by the EPA. However, it’s unclear what action, if any, the BPU took after Reigel delivered his letter.

Kim Olson, an EPA spokeswoman in Kansas City, tells the Pitch that the BPU has not contacted the agency to disclose its failure to seek repair permits and follow regulations when making upgrades.

According to Reigel’s letter, his report was spurred by a November 14, 2003, analysis of BPU’s coal-fired power plants by Burns & McDonnell Engineers. The engineering firm estimated that upgrades to the plants to make them comply with federal regulations would cost the utility nearly $160 million.

Reigel’s 15-page document identifies 73 repairs or upgrades that may not have followed EPA rules. The work was done at the utility’s three power plants: Nearman Creek Power Station, Quindaro Power Station and the now-closed Kaw Power Station. The work was completed between January 1980 and November 2004. Reigel determined that 15 of those repairs and upgrades were “questionable” and another 15 projects would be “probably not defensible” if the EPA conducted an audit.

Any one of those projects “puts BPU at risk” for an audit by the EPA, Reigel warned. Fines for utility companies in similar cases amounted to $1,000 for each megawatt of energy produced by the plant. Together, the Nearman and Quindaro plants produce 631 megawatts.

The audits Reigel refers to in his letter fall under an EPA initiative called New Source Review. The program was established by Congress in 1977 as part of the Clean Air act. It requires permits before construction on new power plants. It also calls for modifications at plants to be “as clean as possible,” according to the EPA’s Web site.

Reigel’s report indicates that the BPU did not get the permits “for any of the projects.”

“Thus, failure to conduct pre-project NSR and failure to monitor post-project emission constitutes a violation itself, unless the project is exempt, even if the project does not increase actual emissions above the allowable increment,” the report says.

h/t Josh

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Rudy and the right

Digby says that the Right's apparent embrace of thrice married, cross-dressing, gay-friendly Rudolph Giuliani is evidence that the envangelicals' Kulturkampf is and always was bullshit.

Now Digby is a tremendous blogger, and a compelling political observer, but I'm not buying this time. Evangelicals believe in redemption, so their faith allows for Giuliani's switch from cross-dressing libertine to man of God. They just can't countenance somebody going in the other direction.

Evangelicals are as pragmatic as the rest of us, too. I loathe Hillary Clinton, but would support her if I thought she had a better chance if beating a Republican in 2008. Does that mean progressive political values are bullshit? Does it make me a hypocrite? Or just someone who wants to win?

Maybe I'm misreading Digby, but she seems to be saying 30 million Americans never cared that much about family values, gay marriage, prayer in schools, etc. Watch Jesus Camp and tell me that. So it's quite a leap Digby's making. The only thing the Christian right's Rudy support tells me is that many think he's the only viable candidate they've got. Eight years ago, the fundies would have followed Brownback over the cliff just to make a point. But the movement has matured, and that probably makes them all the more dangerous. Never underestimate these people.