No End to Right-Wing “Don’t-ers” Doing “It”

This afternoon’s blog was going to be about Iran and President Obama’s reticence to overtly bashing the regime, as the conservative right side of the political aisle has criticized him for not doing.  There was also going to be mention of the fact that Obama’s strategy of not making the internal strife in Iran about the USA was the exact right thing to do.

But this was not to be.  As current events  (and luck) would have it, this blog is several hours late in production due to summer tasks that always scream for attention.  That fact allowed a golden baseball of opportunity to land into this writer’s lap (as it were).

A late-breaking story about republican Mark Sanford, the conservative republican governor of South Carolina, preempted the best laid (if you’ll pardon the pun… 🙂  ) plans.  Sanford, you’ll remember, is the guy who refused to take the federal money made available to all states by the Obama Stimulus Package.  Specifically, Sanford rejected $700 million that was to help the unemployed and fund projects in his state that would put people back to work.

Sanford was sued in South Carolina, and on June 5th, 2009, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that Sanford must accept the money and use it for its intended purposes.  As a result, Sanford evidently planned a little get-away from a tough political season and the stresses of his life.  On June 18th, he “disappeared”.

No one seemed to know initially where he was, but when pressed by the Press for answers, his staff finally said that he went hiking on the Appalachian Trail, which, though peculiar for a governor to disappear for several days without even letting the Lt. governor know, was at least a plausible explanation.  Never mind that his evident lack of stability probably destroyed any chance he ever had to run successfully for president in 2012 or beyond.

But that pesky press just wasn’t satisfied with the hiking explanation.  And lo and behold, as Sanford was deplaning at Hartfield Airport in Atlanta, Georgia after a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, he ran smack into a reporter.  The reporter asked him if he had gone alone to Buenos Aires and he said yes.  But when the reporter asked where he had stayed, Sanford’s response was, “I see where you’re going with this”, and he left without answering.

Of course, it wouldn’t be long before every news wire service reporter in Argentina found out exactly where Sanford had stayed  (and with whom).  In fact, they probably will track it down,anyway.  But Sanford made what may turn out to be the smartest move in his life, considering how screwed up his life presently is:  he came clean.

Sanford admitted to having an affair.  He would have been found out anyway, considering that just you can’t get from the Appalachian Trail to Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport by jet transport.  But by admitting to it right after being caught in the hiking lie, he disarmed all the potential blow-by-blow unfolding of every sordid detail in this situation, Watergate-like.  However, that’s where the smart moves start and end.

First and foremost, this is a politician who espoused very conservative values, attempting to distinguish himself as a bastion of morality, religious piousness, family values, fiscal conservatism, libertarian views on small government, etc., etc.  That’s all fine for anyone, until they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar, so to speak.  The very conservative often fancy themselves as morality police or even leaders who can act on our moral behalf.  It thus becomes that much more newsworthy when it turns out they don’t practice what they preach.

Sanford and his brethren, such as Sarah Palin, would like to have the rest of us believe that they are, in fact, “purer” than those dastardly liberals who are screwing EVERYTHING up.  They wear their brand of morality like a shield and a badge of honor, as though the mere sight of them will make good people squeaky-clean, and inversely, the rest of the heathens will be seen for what they (we) really are:  heathens!!

One has to believe that the image of the GOP couldn’t get any worse, since everything allegedly bad about them seemingly has already been written and witnessed by the entire world.  But Sanford was the chairman the Republican Governors Association (RGA) before any of this was exposed.  He has since resigned while this blog was being written.  Interesting, the RGA, according its own web site, is leading the GOP back to popularity.  Kinda.  Sorta…  🙂

The real point is this:  People are human and as such they are imperfect.  They tend to make imperfect judgments which often result in mistakes.  To err is human, it is said, and on that basis, we are all at that party.  But there are way too many of those who like to preach at others about how they should live, what they should believe and what they should think.  They set themselves up as authorities on right and wrong, good and evil, acceptable and unacceptable.  Those people would do well to watch and learn from the ordeal of the Mark Sanfords of the world.

And to Mark Sanford himself:  Not so easy being a mere, weak, imperfect human, is it?

But then, most of us already knew that.

Rush’s True Value

From time to time We, the PEOPLE!! receives an email which is a cut above the rest, and deserves to be shared among the readership for the salient point it makes.  Such is the following article, which sums up one of the liabilities inherent in any society which values freedom of expression and freedom of the press:

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“Recently it was reported that Rush Limbaugh signed a four year contract with Clear Channel Communications for $400 million dollars.  Some have wondered why such a large sum was paid to Mr. Limbaugh, while thousands of Clear Channel employees have been simultaneously being laid off as earnings have been cut in half.

“On the face of it, this does seem to be a questionable decision on the part of Clear Channel, especially in light of the fact that most of Rush’s  listeners are males over the age of 55  and that this is one of the least  profitable  demographic groups for advertisers.  The children of most of Rush’s listeners have grown up and moved out.  The listeners themselves lead relatively sedentary lifestyles, and for many, their economic power is in decline.  Contrast this with a 34-year-old woman with a family who generally controls the family budget, leads a far more active lifestyle and who is now making buying decisions for herself and her family which will influence purchases for many years to come.

“In spite of this, Rush Limbaugh’s salary really is justified to his backers.  And why?  Because although the over-55-year-old empty nesters may not have the purchasing needs of  that 34 year old,  there is one characteristic about this group that makes them extremely attractive to those Texas Republicans that Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America refers to as “at the forefront of promoting right wing radio”:

“These folks vote.   And it was Rush Limbaugh who, more than any other single individual, brought about the radicalization of the Republican Party and its control of both houses of Congress in 1994.

“The ultra-rich, with their multi-million dollar houses, private jets and, often inherited personal fortunes,  see progressive government as something which can only raise their taxes, threaten their lucrative tax havens and block their “profits trumps all” philosophy while giving them very little, if anything, in return.  Hence their opposition to progressiveness.  However, being a small minority, they need to manipulate public opinion on their behalf.   Herein lies the true value of Rush Limbaugh.

“Who else but Rush can so eloquently convince a retired couple living on Social Security and a small pension that raising the taxes on the super rich by 3% and reforming the medical system is really Marxism and Socialism?   Who else but Rush can express sympathy for Somali pirates in order to discredit a President who seeks to close corporate tax loopholes?   And who but Rush could persuade patriotic Americans to sacrifice their economic future and even the lives of their own children, to vote for those who launched a war, the purpose of which has been proven false, while he and his cronies sit comfortably at home, and companies like Halliburton reap billions in the process?  Who else can so eloquently convince millions to turn a blind eye to the findings of science, and instead jeopardize the entire planet by listening to the comforting assurances and denials of corporate polluters and those in their service?

“Rush Limbaugh’s real value goes far beyond that of attracting advertising dollars.  Using fear, false facts, misquotes, distortions and hate all skillfully blended with appeals to “traditional values”, “work ethics” and “Christian principles”, he sells a divisive philosophy aimed at convincing middle class Americans that letting the super rich have unregulated rein will solve all of our financial difficulties. Rush’s value is not measured in advertising revenue but in selling the unspoken belief that the real problem with America is that corporations and the ultra-rich have neither enough power nor enough money.  To think otherwise, according to him, is “class envy”.

“Signed by VietnamEraVet USAF 1969-1972”

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After reading this piece, one is struck contemplating the possibility that the Republican National Committee is somehow involved in supporting Clear Channel’s decision to pay Rush $400 million while laying off thousands.  After all, recent polls indicate that Rush is seen as tied for leadership of the GOP with “Tricky Dick” Cheney (each got 10%).  That’s not much of a recommendation for those trying to decide if they want to join the GOP or not.  After all, it’s one thing to be genuinely conservative in philosophy.  It’s another thing altogether to want to be a member of the GOP in these time, since the GOP still carries the stigma of the Bush administration.

One thing is certain, however.  Rush is a very rich man who is getting richer every day.  And he is doing it by criticizing the democrats.  It stands to reason that he must absolutely love having the democrats in power, since it is his criticism of them that continues to bring in the cash.

One thus wonders if Rush actually voted democratic.  After all, he has a fortune in salaries to protect:  His own salaries.

GOP: Protect Health Insurance Profits By Killing The Competition!!

Isn’t one of the very basic tenets of the GOP to protect the individual’s market freedom, to protect the free enterprise system, and allow the free market and business competition to set prices on their own?

Then explain the following to we, the ignorant masses:  Why is the GOP fighting so hard against Obama’s health care proposal to establish a government health care plan similar to Medicare for people who simply cannot afford their own private health insurance?

The GOP operatives in the house of representatives and the senate have clearly expressed that an available government-offered health plan is a “nonstarter” for because, in their own words, “Washington-run programs undermine market-based competition through their ability to impose price controls and shift costs to other purchasers,” as quoted from a letter issued by the Republicans on the Senate Finance panel to President Obama.

What this statement doesn’t say is that private health insurers could negotiate with drug and medical providers to reduce costs if they wanted to.  What it really does says, though, is that the GOP is afraid (and rightfully so, as we’ll see) that their PAC-contributing buddies in the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, as well as certain overcharging, 4-days-a-week-golf-playing, Maserati-driving, ocean-front-estate-owning professional health providers (a.k.a. doctors and medical CEOs) who hugely support preserving the health-care-fiasco status quo in the USA for their own personal gain, will not be able to compete as they exist now against a health plan that is continuously monitored for efficiency and effective health-enhancing results.   They also fear that their contributing friends won’t be able to compete with a health plan in which the administrators can legally negotiate with competing drug companies and medical providers for the lowest possible volume prices for medication and services, the way most other western industrialized countries do.

And in the event anyone doubts that that Americans are being fleeced by all of the above, just google any medication you are interested in, and a gazillion web sites will pop up where you can order them on-line without the need for a prescription and for a fraction of the price of the same medication in any US pharmacy.  Or check out the horror stories that pro-health-care reformers are posting on a gazillion web sites also reachable by googling US health care horror stories.

Of course, those opposing health care reform, and particularly those opposing any government-provided plan, are sending out their own message, highlighting isolated mistakes committed by universal health care systems in other countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom.  One such organization is the Conservatives for Patients Rights, which has been running television ads warning that the sky will fall on you if the government gets involved in health care.  But if their claims are true, then all those folks on Medicare and Medicaid, as well as all those millions of children receiving health care through SCHIP, must be feeling absolutely crushed under that really heavy fallen sky!

Seriously, there is no question that in any health care system, as in any other human-created system, there are bound to be mistakes committed that need to be identified, fixed and learned from.  But these nay-sayers never report the abuses, mistakes, and failures that occur in the present profit-motivated (vs. improved-health-motivated) US health care system (such as it is, since it is hardly a “system” of anything other than a profit-motivated business).  And there is where the BS lies, in all of its smelly glory.

But back to the title of this blog.  It seems to be an axiom to the present GOP to bend rules anytime to fit one’s agenda, and the classic example is outlined above.  After all, it is one thing to oppose universal health care, or government-assisted health care, or mandatory health care, or anything-but-free-market-profit-based health care on pure philosophical reasons.  Those folks that really oppose government involvement in anything other than military protection and the most basic of government functions are called Libertarians.  While many may not agree with them, at least one can respect the philosophy and enjoy an honest intellectual debate on issues based upon data and merits.

But the folks who are presently representing the GOP have no such standard of honestly and pure, publicly available philosophy.  To state on the one hand that one is for free enterprise, but to then oppose competition and support laws that limit negotiation is hypocritical and dishonest.  To state one the one hand that one is for individual freedoms and law enforcement but then to support the curtailing of individual liberty in the name of national security and support torture even though national and international laws prohibit it is hypocritical and dishonest.

And to not support providing Americans with available, affordable, effective health coverage because you’re afraid that your friends in the private health care industry will lose their obscene profits is nothing short of despicable.

One thing is certain:  This certain is not your daddy’s General Motors….and it’s certainly not your daddy’s GOP, either.

And this time…we don’t love them.

Killing Abortion Doctors: Like Sex to Support Abstinence

Last Sunday a well-known abortion practitioner, Dr. George Tiller was shot to death in a premeditated cold blooded murder.  He was in a Lutheran Church in Topeka, Kansas, participating during services as an usher,  allegedly by Scott Roeder who fanatically believes that all abortionists are baby-killers.

Although this is not the first time that abortion doctors have been murdered in the USA by self-appointed guardians of the “faith”, it is the most recent, and seems to be getting a considerable amount of media attention.  Of course, abortion is a very controversial issue in the USA, more so than in Europe, Canada, or other industrialized western nations.

While many pro-life advocates are condemning this murder of a doctor, there are those who actually see it as “justifiable homicide”.  In fact, it is reported that Roeder himself subscribed to Prayer and Action News, a newsletter of sorts that advocated “justifiable homicide” as a way of protesting abortion.

Which side of the abortion issue one supports is not the issue here, nor should it be.  The real issue is that condemning violence while using violence is the epitome of hypocrisy.  Groups throughout human history have justified the use of violence, including torture, rape and murder, to achieve their “lofty” goals.  Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups across the globe do exactly the same thing every single day;  somehow, the fanatically self-appointed self-righteous convince themselves that they can use any means, regardless of legality or morality, to accomplish their personal agenda.

For instance, during the middle ages, Christian leadership initiated the Crusades, which they claimed to conduct to free the “holy land” where Israel now exists, from those nasty Muslim non-believers, although they also attacked, raped and murdered pagan Slavs, Jews, Russian and Greek Orthodox Christians, Mongols, Cathars, Hussites, Waldensians, Old Prussians, and political enemies of the pope.   In reality, the Crusades were more about land grab, church- and personal wealth-building, and rape and murder in the name of the holiest of holies, than anything else.

All of this gives rise to the most basic of questions:  if these people truly believed (and presently believe)  in the bible, includes the commandments that direct believers to not steal or murder, etc….then how did they (and presently do they) justify murdering those who don’t share their beliefs??

It’s a truly troubling issue made all the more dangerous when one considers the myriad of organizations and self-proclaimed anti-abortion activists right here in the USA that openly advocate “killing for peace”.  A search of the internet reveals a number of people who have written about the justification of murdering abortionists in the name of  such things as religious righteousness.  And some of the more militant anti-abortion organizations are tied to such extremist groups as white-supremacists who are anti-abortion in all cases except in the case of an African-American.

Perhaps what is most troubling is that many pro-life folks who would never engage in a criminal act against an abortion doctor or clinic still sympathize with anyone who commits an act of violence against the pro-choice providers.  It unfortunately says that we, as a people, are not yet evolved beyond the use of violence even though we, ourselves, wouldn’t personally commit the act.  As long as we continue to support, albeit in secret, these types of behaviors, we should not be too surprised to learn that our country supported torture in the name of national security, or invasion of a sovereign country that was no threat to us based upon some nebulous idea that it had weapons of mass destruction.

No reasonable person sees abortion as an acceptable a form of regular birth control, and no reasonable person believes that most women seeking an abortion don’t find the option extremely difficult to choose.  But one is struck by the extremist folks who are against all forms of abortion at all times under all circumstances, no matter what is at stake, including the life of the mother.  They like to preach their inflexible single-minded view at anyone they think they can get to listen, while concurrently not offering to adopt those children brought to term as a result for their efforts to scare women away from abortion.

And by the way, these folks also tend to be the ones that are vehemently against modern sex education, including comprehensive information on birth control, while supporting “abstinence only”.  But “absinence only” is a dismal failure everywhere it’s promoted.

And if kids aren’t taught about birth control, what do you think is going to happen?  Unwanted pregnanacies, maybe?

Ask Bristol Palin about that one.