Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pete Stark and The Sinful Stone Throwers

Four Gasbags

(Warning: A few of these quotes came second-hand from or Wikipedia)

I for one, find this John Boehner remark to be rather disingenuous:

Mr. Stark, by his despicable conduct, has dishonored himself.

No way Pot! This is the BRONZE kettle! A far less similar hue to yours you won't find!

Mr. Stark can only look to the Right for any teachers in the art of senseless vituperation.

When I think about the unthinking bloviators of the Right, I find it hard to feel sorry for them as they reacted with indignancy to the remarks of Pete Stark, although they might be enough to get some Freeper's skivvies in a bunch! However, I'd like to remind at least those of us who'd care to listen, that despite the erudition of the best of us on the Left, aside from the occasional "Hymietown," or Joycelyn Elder's theories on teaching masturbation, or the Dean Scream, and anything Rosie might have to say, we never seem to hold a candle to the Right!

The Right Wing media has at least four prominent shining examples of oratory that regularly regail us with their pearls of wisdom!

And yes, they are Mr. Rush Limbaugh, Billo O'Reilly, Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin. The Squawking Magpies of the Right.

One catalyst of their bile is their palace guard brand of patriotism. If you have it, you're a real American. Say something they don't like - and it won't matter if you fought in Iraq or lost a loved one on 9/11, you're a fraud or a dupe. When confronted with vets who denounced the war, Limbaugh called them "phony soldiers." And in reply to the ad of a soldier who called him out on his statement, he then said this:

He discusses his service in Iraq, the wounds he suffered there, and he says to me in this ad, "Until you have the guts to call me a 'phony soldier' to my face, stop telling lies about my service." You know, this is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into.

He has the temerity to equate a war veteran with a suicidal terrorist.

Ann Coulter is another great humanitarian with erudition. When 9/11 widows criticized the administration's lack of interest in investigating the causes of 9/11, she gave this touching tribute:

These broads (the widows of 9/11 victims) are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husband's deaths so much.

It is amazing how someone could underutilize the two brain cells it would suffice for most of us to call up compassion for such obvious victims, and dismiss them out of hand.

Then there's Billo. Here is a man who parses the definition patriotism in a rather chiliastic fashion because he was offended by San Francisco's ban of military recruiters from city schools:

If I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, 'Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead. And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.

On the issue of torture, Limbaugh is positively sophomoric. Here, he describes his attitude towards the indignities suffered at Abu Ghraib:

This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation...I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of the need to blow some steam off?

Now Mr. O'Reilly likes to mix his spurious statements with bombast:

I'll tell you what. I've been in combat. I've seen it, I've been close to it... and if my unit is danger, and I've got a captured guy, and the guy knows where the enemy is, and I'm looking him in the eye, the guy better tell me. That's all I'm gonna tell you. The guy better tell me. If it's life or death, he's going first.

No Billo, John Wayne would not be proud of you! You see, torture gets your enemy to tell you what he thinks you want him to hear, not the truth.

However, the piece d’resistance is a statement by Anne Coulter, as she wondered in 2005 why the New York Times didn’t propose the same solution for terrorism as it did for online child predators:

Would that the Times allowed the Bush administration similar investigative powers for Islamofacists in America!

Which brings me to this week's scandal about No Such Agency spying on 'Americans.' I have difficulty ginning up much interest in this story inasmuch as I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East, and sending liberals to Guantanamo.

Ms. Coulter might want to remember that though she may fondly wish America to be under fascism, communist dictatorship would put her ilk on the short hit list. "Televised spectator sport?" Like the Doctor's Trial Stalin had in the early 50's? Or maybe she meant like the People's Court after the attempt on Hitler's life starring Screaming Judge Friesler? Yep. Real super-patriot that Ann Coulter!

And the Right wants to stack Mr. Stark's relatively more factual statement up against ginormous classics like these? Hah!

Keep'em coming folks. You see, the well of stupid, insensitive and obnoxious statements runs rather dry on the Liberal side. And, try as you might to engender indignation at the few and infrequent gaffes you may detect from the Left, we know that you will never fail to disappoint us in demonstrating to us by your own tongues, examples of what you are looking for.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Smearing of The Innocent: Graeme Frost, Bethany Wilkerson, and the Calumny of the Right.

michelle Malkin, Graeme Frost and Bethany Wilkerson

Graeme Frost is not a pawn. He is a boy. A boy who was once severely injured, whose sister is severely disabled. Nevertheless, according to the Right, he committed a serious unpardonable crime. He dared to speak out against the policies of Bush and the rest of the privatizers as a young boy.

Now, it used to be that young children of traumatized families were sacrosanct, but not any more!

Apparently, at this point, feeling threatened on all sides by a disgruntled and scandalized American public, the Right knows it is standing on a precipice looking down a deep and dark abyss. Every "gain" the Right made during the last 6 years, would be undone and reversed if a Democratic president was to coincide with a Democratic Congress. Now they are paranoid.

Like cornered bears, they seem to attack these days anyone, no matter how innocuous, who they perceive to be threats. Their reaction to the Frost family’s action is like that of a conspiracy theorist finding his enemy under every bed.

Here and there, they miraculously find snippets they call clues to bolster their ignorant suppositions about the "affluent" Frosts, and the “unworthy” Wilkersons.

On Wizbang, Kim Priestap writes:

First, Mr. Halsey Frost, Graeme's father, owns his own woodworking design studio, Frostworks, so his claim that he can't get health insurance through work is shockingly deceptive. He chooses not to get health care for his family. Second, Graeme and his sister Gemma attend the very exclusive Park School, which has a tuition of $20,000 a year, per child. Third, they live in a 3,000+ square foot home in a neighborhood with smaller homes that are selling for at least $400,000.

I believe that they bought their house at $55,000. The neighborhood's property values were not as high then due to the crime rate. However, why let facts get in the way?

Think Progress did give the definitive answer for Graeme Frost and his heroic family:

1) Graeme has a scholarship to a private school. The school costs $15K a year, but the family only pays $500 a year.

2) His sister Gemma attends another private school to help her with the brain injuries that occurred due to her accident. The school costs $23,000 a year, but the state pays the entire cost.

3) They bought their lavish house sixteen years ago for $55,000 at a time when the neighborhood was less than safe.

4) Last year, the Frosts made $45,000 combined. Over the past few years they have made no more than $50,000 combined.

5) The state of Maryland has found them eligible to participate in the CHIP program.

Wingnuttery over at Whiskeyfire found the Admission section of the Park School webpage, added this overlooked detail:

Park enrolls students based on their talents and capabilities. Families who are unable to meet the full cost of tuition may apply for the Financial Assistance Program, which supplements tuition payments. Financial assistance does not need to be repaid.
In 2007, 18% of Park students in grades 1-12 received over $2 million in financial assistance that ranged from $1,000 per year to full tuition. Tuition remission for children of our faculty brings that total to 25% of the student body.
Because each family's situation is unique, it is impossible to predict the amount of funding awarded based solely on income. For example, the number of children attending tuition-charging institutions is an important factor. As a guide, families with incomes up to $160,000 received financial assistance during this past school year.

To which Wingnuttery added:

If the school is giving assistance to families making $160K, they are offering pretty substantial assistance to those making $45K. I'm just guessing here, but it sure does seem plausible!

I take it that the Right Wing has never needed tuition assistance! I sure did when I was in junior college - back in the '70's.

I'm surprised that at the first stage of this news cycle that the Right Wing didn't discover such obvious facts that Graeme's sister was so severely and permanently disabled that her private school necessarily had to be one that accommodated her disability, or that Graeme had a scholarship that left the Frosts only to pay $500.

And now, little Bethany Wilkerson who had a pre-existing heart condition will have to face the calumny of the selfish.

Has anyone heard of an insurance company giving a policy to an infant with a pre-existing heart condition? Bethany had to have her surgery at six months old. She still has a hole in her heart.

Yet, that doesn't stop the Freepers from attacking the credibility or character of her parents. It is remarkable what Mark Steyn has to say:

Last week I compared parents who allow their kids to be props in political debates to stage mothers. Instead of, Judy, take one more Benzedrine and this time smile during the encore of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," it is "Madison, tell the nice man what Uncle Gore said would happen to the polar-bear cubs if people don’t drive better cars." Maybe the political form of stage mothering isn’t as harmful to the kids, but it is just as exploitative.

Now Mr. Steyn wants to argue that the Democrats had chosen the wrong S-CHIP poster family.

Well, I was surprised that someone on the Right could actually concede (italics) that the Frosts might have a fair to middling claim to S-CHIP!

However, he only does so to imply that the far poorer Wilkersons are a worse choice due to "bad behavior":

While the debate around the Frost family at least initially centered around their relative wealth, the issue really at hand is one of bad behavior. While US Action and a labyrinthine maze of leftist activist groups prepare to rally around images of Tampa Bay’s Most Photogenic Baby holding up a crayon sign that says "Don’t Veto Me," Dara and Brian Wilkerson are real poster children รณ for irresponsible decisions.

Wait a minute! Is the Right to Life crowd finally converting to Pro Choice? Hallelujah will miracles never end!

I thought it was the job, no - the duty of every girl, single or married, rich as a queen or poor as a beggar to not interfere with nature and postpone the Blessed Event through contraception. And when the bun went in the oven, every good girl saw it through! Amazing how conveniently chameleon like the morality of the Right is when it sees its money slipping away!

Bethany's mother probably faced the same dilemma many newlyweds face when adjusting to marriage. She left her job at the country club (whose insurance plan would anyway be irrelevant to Bethany's case, because her condition must have made her ineligible,) because it was an obstacle to the establishment of a household.

In addition, the funny part is that just as the Wilkersons ruled out abortion, the Frosts in their own way are also are the model Conservative family!

Most Conservatives want government support for attending private schools, which is what Graeme got - government support for attending private school!

Instead of having a "woodworking hobby," Halsey Frost was an entrepreneur. He owned his own home as well. And he tried to do well by his family.

But because of the Frost’s stand on S-CHIP, he is castigated!

Listen to how E.J. Dionne puts it:

Conservatives endlessly praise risk-taking by entrepreneurs and would give big tax cuts to those who are most successful. But if a small-business person is struggling, he shouldn't even think about applying for SCHIP.

Conservatives who want to repeal the estate tax on large fortunes have cited stories -- most of them don't check out -- about farmers having to sell their farms to pay inheritance taxes. But the implication of these attacks on the Frosts is that they are expected to sell their investment property to pay for health care. Why?

Oh, yes, and conservatives tell us how much they love homeownership, and then assail the Frosts for having the nerve to own a home. I suppose they should have to sell that, too.

Well, if the Frosts and the Wilkersons, who in different ways personify two of the staples of Family Values, then how is it that their espousal of S-CHIP bars them from passing Right Wing muster?

Well, if you're not saving the money for butter... maybe you want it for guns!

Let me leave you with one last tidbit from Wikipedia:

Insurance companies use the term "adverse selection" to describe the tendency for only those who will benefit from insurance to buy it. Specifically when talking about health insurance, unhealthy people are more likely to purchase health insurance because they anticipate large medical bills. On the other side, people who consider themselves to be reasonably healthy may decide that medical insurance is an unnecessary expense; if they see the doctor once a year and it costs $250, that's much better than making monthly insurance payments of $400 (example figures).
The fundamental concept of insurance is that it balances costs across a large, random sample of individuals (see risk pool). For instance, an insurance company has a pool of 1000 randomly selected subscribers, each paying $100 per month. One person becomes very ill while the others stay healthy, allowing the insurance company to use the money paid by the healthy people to pay for the treatment costs of the sick person. Adverse selection upsets this balance between healthy and sick subscribers by leaving an insurance company with primarily sick subscribers and no way to balance out the cost of their medical expenses with a large number of healthy subscribers.
Because of adverse selection, insurance companies use a patient's medical history to screen out persons with pre-existing medical conditions. Before buying health insurance, a person typically fills out a comprehensive medical history form that asks whether the person smokes, how much the person weighs, whether the person has been treated for any of a long list of diseases and so on. In general, those who present a large financial burdens are denied coverage or charged high premiums to compensate.[5] One large U.S. industry survey found that roughly 13 percent of applicants for comprehensive, individually purchased health insurance that go through the medical underwriting process were denied coverage. Declination rates increased significantly with age, rising from 5 percent for individuals 18 and under to just under a third for individuals aged 60 to 64.[6] On the other side, applicants can get discounts if they do not smoke and are healthy.[7]
Starting in 1976, some states started providing guaranteed-issuance risk pools, which enable individuals who are medically uninsurable through private health insurance to purchase a state-sponsored health insurance plan, usually at higher cost. Minnesota was the first to offer such a plan; 34 states now offer them. Plans vary greatly from state to state, both in their costs and benefits to consumers and to their methods of funding and operations. They serve a very small portion of the uninsurable market — about 182,000 people in the U.S. as of 2004,[8] but in best cases allow people with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease or other chronic illnesses to be able to switch jobs or seek self-employment without fear of being without health care benefits.[9] Efforts to pass a national pool have as yet been unsuccessful, but some federal tax money has been awarded to states to innovate and improve their plans.

Bethany Wilkerson and Her Family on MSNBC Countdown

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The "Soldier's and Citizen's Rally against the War" in Syracuse, NY on Sept. 29th


On a beautiful Saturday afternoon last week, I saw something incredible - people, thousands of people coming together, peacefully yet passionately united to end the most unnecessary war this country ever fought since Vietnam.

We came with signs like "Healthcare NOT Warfare, " or "Green Party Veterans Against the War," or "BUSH - WEAPON OF MASS DECEPTION." Many groups came together because the war in Iraq is an obstacle to their causes just as the Vietnam War was a generation ago. There were Greens there, as well as Iraq Veterans Against the War, childcare advocates, a Catholic priest, the SEIU, chapters of the DFA from all over New York State.

The first rally occurred at Everson Museum Plaza. Somehow, we packed at least 2,500 people there to hear veterans speak out against the insincere absurdities they encountered in the American war effort, and how that turned them against the war.



There were at least two die-ins on the march to Walnut Park and S.U. Both were under the sign: "IF NEW YORK WERE IRAQ." I am an uncle to two little girls, and began to think about the little children who were dying in Anbar, Ramadi and Baghdad.


Myself, I chose a more humorous approach to a visual presentation. A listener to Stephanie Miller, I used one of my many contributions to Photoshop Fun at Stephanie, a "living caricature" of a terrified Dubya, which I pasted onto both sides of the placard. It was a way to ritually force a horrified Bush to look with fear and trepidation at a crowd not vetted by the Secret Service, and unencumbered by Loyalty Oaths or Pledges! The caption read: "Ruggie! Wheresz Mah Ruggie?!"

Actually, this was an attempt to encourage any tired marchers to keep going by creating a sense of joy at scaring the bejeezus out of Dubya.

As we marched into Walnut Park, (with people beeping us and yelling encouragements along the way) the last rally began. Marine Lance Corporal John Turner told us all how at every tour in Iraq, things got progressively worse and how he changed from a "gung ho Marine" as the Syracuse New Times:
put it - to a disillusioned one.



An hour after the rally began, marchers were STILL pouring in as a massive crowd! Placards were everywhere!

Later, although i could not attend, I heard that on campus at S.U. there were speakers like Scott Ritter, Dr.. Dahlia Wasfi and other witnesses who were there in Iraq who saw the disastrous results of the Bush War Machine and his Lie Factory.


As I saw the mass of people filling up Walnut Park, vibrant with energy and commitment, I realized that this must have been what it was like in the Sixties, only better because the people are behind us, and there were no riots. Those marches were of a generation. This one spanned ALL generations.

I can find no better a way to end the story than with a quote from SNT:

They had marched through the streets from downtown, where an even larger group had gathered at 1 p.m. outside the Everson Museum, 401 Harrison St. It was by far the largest peace march downtown Syracuse had seen in years, and it came at an important time in the debate about the Iraq war. The Bush administration appears determined to continue the conflict in spite of public sentiment, as evidenced by the November 2006 elections and polls showing Americans want the war to end.