Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Best and the Worst

If you want to see the best of America, take a look at the thousands of people filing past Ted Kennedy's flag-draped casket, so reminiscent of the crowds for his brother Bobby. Ted's people are a beautiful rainbow of subdued emotions: love, respect, affection, gratitude, and a few tears. It's very touching. At this hour, the crowd stretches back for three hours.

If you want to see the worst of America, simply tune in to the freak shows at the town halls, e.g. "I'm a proud right wing terrorist" with reply from Repugnant CA Rep. Wally Herger, "Amen, God bless you. There's a real American."

No, Mr. Herger, that's not a real American at all, even if he claims his birth certificate's in order. But America is well represented at the Kennedy Library tonight.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Please Honor Ted Kennedy by Signing this Petition for Universal Healthcare

I just signed this petition to honor Ted Kennedy, which will be delivered to senators on Monday to Senate offices in Washington, D.C.:

"Ted Kennedy was a courageous champion for health care reform his entire life. In his honor, name the reform bill that passed Kennedy's health committee 'The Kennedy Bill' -- then pass it, and nothing less, through the Senate."

Kennedy's bill includes a public health insurance option, and it would be an honor to Kennedy's memory if it passed the Senate.

The Dream Shall Never Die

This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver—to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, "that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American...will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege." For four decades I have carried this cause—from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for me—and more urgency—than ever before. But it's always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years.

— Ted Kennedy

Senator Edward M. Kennedy Is Gone. Rest in Peace, Ted

This is a bittersweet moment for those who loved and admired the Lion of the Senate, because it was expected. Still, the sense of loss is great.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Surprise! (NOT) Over Redacted CIA Report ...

Anyone who says La CIA (pronounced la seeya) should be as amused as I am over the uproar surrounding the release of the CIA's heavily redacted interrogation memo. Even pro-Democratic ex-CIA officers have rallied to defend the "company" from charges it engaged in systemic torture. The message du jour, stemming as well from the Justice Dept., is this is the work of a "few bad apples." And despite the threat from unlikely Spymaster Leon Panetta (acting!) to resign should any CIA personnel be prosecuted, the AG is actually doing the agency a huge favor by limiting the scope of the investigation.

The preliminary winners, of course, are George W. Bush, CYA-Dick Cheney -- who reacted by saying the President "can't keep the country safe" (excuse me!) -- and the lawyers who drafted the torture memos. That is, unless the probe takes on a life of its own and expands beyond its narrow focus, driven by cascading revelations. There is at least one recent historical precedent: Watergate.

We all love Leon, we do, but what's so amusing, and also infuriating, about this country is its fast food approach to questions of institutional malfeasance, how so in the moment it is. We would really do well to have some minimal sense of historical perspective, context, and institutional memory. What's fascinating about this link to the respected National Security Archive at George Washington University is the revelation that Dick Cheney's penchant for the use of torture (euphemistically, "enhanced interrogation techniques") goes back at least to 1992, when he was Secretary of Defense. A memo to the SECDEF warned of "objectionable" Spanish language interrogation guides "inconsistent with U.S. government policy." Five of seven guides, the memo said, "contained language and statements in violation of legal, regulatory or policy prohibitions" and recommended they be recalled. The memo stamped "SECDEF HAS SEEN" came back approved but "UNCHANGED."

How very Dark Lord-ish. Wouldn't be at all surprised if beneath all that black ink redaction is a reference or two to the "interrogation" training program at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, GA. Hello, Mr. President: Time to close the damned place down already!

When it comes to La CIA, there are no surprises south of the Rio Grande. (It must be an LA thing.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Hatch-McCain Death Panel

As if Republicans couldn't reach a new low (yeah I know, think again), Repugnant Senators Orrin Hatch and John McCain are now claiming that the absence from the Senate of gravely ill Sen. Ted Kennedy is the reason for their absence of agreement with the Democrats on healthcare reform.

Yeah, right. As if the great Senator's presence in the negotiations with the likes of Grassley, Enzi, Hatch, and McCain would produce a different result on cooperation from the party of 'NO.' May I remind Sens. Hatch and McCain that each Senate bill your party is trashing and demagoguing is collectively known as the "Kennedy bill."

Wow. These Repugnant senators are just about the classiest people ever to use Ted Kennedy's brain cancer as a foil for their own intransigence. Has it even occurred to Orrin Hatch and John McCain that maybe the most meaningful way to honor Ted Kennedy would be to join with Democrats in passing universal healthcare reform? Apparently not.

With friends like these ...

Mainstream Media Slooow on the Uptake

Is it any wonder that newspapers are in trouble? After a month of unanswered right wing rants -- except by the blogs, including yours truly -- in which lies and misinformation about healthcare were spread with impunity, aided and abetted by a mainstream media that loves a good "ruckus," as the President rightly observed, said mainstreamers, excepting the usual suspects, finally decide to engage the debate with constructive information and analysis rather than town hall freak shows.

The LA Times reports that the "health" insurance industry, having greased its anti-reform lobbying campaign with a daily infusion of $1.4 million, and having mobilized 50,000 of its employees to attend town halls and kill the public option, stands poised to reap a "bonanza" in government subsidized profits from a $1 trillion healthcare "reform" package minus the public option. Now the centrist/conservative Denver Post editorializes that a public option is "critical" to reform.

Well, duh.

What do these newspapers want for doing their friggin' jobs ... a medal?!? We've been saying it here from the get-go, folks. It's common sense. What's taken the mainstreamers so long to recognize the obvious?

Thanks for nothing, Tom Ridge

So NOW you're selling a book and you admit that the administration used terrorism as a political tool. Thanks for telling us NOW.