Thursday, September 10, 2009

Carve This One In Stone

Sully's QOTD:
"No doubt, right wing publishers like Regnery and Crown will be beating down Wilson's door today to sign a book deal that will put him at the top of the New York Times bestseller list along with drivel from the likes of Michelle Malkin, who has probably already started writing her biography of Wilson, titled, "The Man Who Spoke the Truth." By the end of the day a Wilson for President web site will be fully functioning if it isn't already. Watch for the announcement on Glenn Beck’s show this afternoon," - Bruce Bartlett.
Sully: About Last Night

A reader remembers TNC's memorable phrase from last fall:

"To paraphrase Carolyn Forche, Obama needs to do exactly would he did last night--slice McCain to lace. But he needs to do it so quietly, calmly and efficiently, that even those who are paid to opine on such things, don't even notice the blood all over the floor."
Just look at this picture . . .
The College Republicans


A reader writes:

Yes, the GOP of 2009 is the party of torture and fiscal recklessness. But as Joe Wilson's outburst last night made clear, it is every bit as much the party of the College Republicans.

Wilson's catcalling was only part of it. This is the party of Colson and Segretti, Atwater and Rove, Kristol and Norquist. It is the party of Joe Wilson and the odious Patrick McHenry, the latter a bad caricature of a South Park or Simpsons character. Just look at them, with the "What bill?" signs around their necks, waving the copies of their "bill" in the President's face as he patiently explained to them why they are so very full of shit.

Optics, not reality, is what matters. Everything can be massaged with a Mission Accopmlished banner, a sympathetic interview on Fox News, or a whisper campaign that your opponent is a faggot.

Juvenile, manipulative, impossibly smarmy, hateful - or at least more than willing to use the weapon of other people's hate - and, above all, relentlessly cynical. To these (mostly) men, politics is not the "art of the possible", not a means for peaceably grappling with the most difficult and complex issues of the day, or for attempting to improve the lives of people you will never meet. It is nothing but a game, one where the object is not just to win but to destroy your enemies with a weird mix of angry slander and junior high insults - and to have a good chuckle while admiring your handiwork.

It is an attitude that enables one to label a respected judge who worked with disadvantaged children a pedophile (as Rove's minions did in an Alabama Supreme Court race in 1994), or to put Sarah Palin on a presidential ticket.

Just as for the neocons it is always 1938, for the professional College Republicans in the House GOP, it is always the annual convention, with the hotly-contested race for treasurer or secretary between one guy from Michigan State and another from Clemson. Accusations of fraud abound, frat boys and bookworms alike go berserk as they see their chances of interning with the RNC slip away, and desperate calls are made to worshipped alumni with the hope that some measure of revenge can be exacted. Nerd libido harnessed to cynical rage.

Welcome to the House the College Republicans Built. For our benefit, President Obama is more than happy to let them live in it.

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty.)

Atrios: Gone And Forgotten

Given how things were from 2001 until the presidential campaign heated up, it's really quite stunning how George W. Bush is utterly missing from our discourse. The conservative movement was for that period all about elevating Dear Leader, and now he's just gone.

Graham's Pseudo-Clap (did anyone see?).

Think Progress: Just four GOP senators applaud when Obama calls ‘death panels’ a ‘lie.’

In his speech last night, President Obama addressed some of the various myths and misrepresentations that have been spread about his health care reform efforts. When Obama called claims that he would “set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill of senior citizens” a “lie, plain and simple,” he received a standing ovation from the Democrats in Congress. Republicans, on the other hand, largely sat on their hands. Watch it:

According to The Hill’s Walter Alarkon, the only Republican senators seen standing and applauding Obama’s dismissal of the “death panel” myth were Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Judd Gregg (R-NH). “Four or five House Republicans also appeared to stand and applaud Obama’s remark, but it’s unclear which ones they were,” writes Alarkon.

Update Nate Silver pointed out last night "that many Republicans didn't stand up and clap when Obama said 'no one should go broke because they get sick.'"

Josh Marshall (TPM): Shaky

Rep. Wilson (R-SC), the new face of Republican opposition to health care reform, just went before the cameras for the first time looking sweaty and sort of shaky like he might be about to cry. I know that sounds a bit like trash talk. But that's actually how he came off, his affect and expressions. He gave a pretty weak rationale for his claims about coverage of illegal aliens and then dashed off. We'll have the video for you shortly.

Wilson also confirmed that the GOP House leadership contacted him after his outburst and told him to contact the White House and apologize.

Here's the video:

Sully: The British Counter-Example

I see a lot of commentary that compares Joe Wilson's "You Lie!" outburst with the ruckus that often happens in the House of Commons. But one thing you are not allowed to shout in the Commons is that another speaker is a liar. A lot of circumlocutions evolved to bypass this - "terminological inexactitude" is my favorite (Churchill, of course) - but the ban is for a reason. Once the opposition starts yelling "You lie!" they have essentially abandoned the deliberative process, by questioning the good faith of a speaker. Without an assumption of good faith or a factual rebuttal, just calling someone a liar abolishes the integrity of the debating process. It ends a conversation. And parliament is about conversation. From the rule book (PDF):

Language and expressions used in the Chamber must conform to a number of rules. Erskine May states "good temper and moderation are the characteristics of parliamentary language". Objection has been taken both to individual words and to sentences and constructions ‐ in the case of the former, to insulting, coarse, or abusive language (particularly as applied to other Members); and of the latter, to charges of lying or being drunk and misrepresentation of the words of another. Among the words to which Speakers have objected over the years have been blackguard, coward, git, guttersnipe, hooligan, rat, swine, stoolpigeon and traitor.

The context in which a word is used is, of course, very important. The Speaker will direct a Member who has used an unparliamentary word or phrase to withdraw it.

Members sometimes use considerable ingenuity to circumvent these rules (as when, for instance, Winston Churchill substituted the phrase "terminological inexactitude" for "lie") but they must be careful to obey the Speaker's directions, as a Member who refuses to retract an offending expression may be named or required to withdraw from the Chamber.

And that, to me, was the import of last night. One side was engaged in a civil conversation; the other was engaged in an uncivil protest. The Congress became an unruly town hall meeting - because conservatives made it one.

Yglesias: Revisiting The “You Lie” Lie

To revisit last night’s action, the President said this:

THE PRESIDENT: There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

REP JOE WILSON: You lie! (Boos.)

THE PRESIDENT: It’s not true. And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up — under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place. (Applause.)

Brendan Nyhan bends over backwards to construct an interpretation of the situation such that Rep Wilson is merely being highly misleading rather than telling an outright falsehood:

Obama is clearly referring to the false claim that health care reform would provide free health insurance to illegal immigrants. Many people may interpret Wilson’s outburst as a defense of this claim (it’s impossible to know what he was thinking). However, as Rob correctly points out, Obama’s reforms would apply to everyone — including illegal immigrants — who purchases coverage through health insurance exchanges, including from a proposed government insurance program known as the public option. If you define the public option as insuring someone and describe it as a reform, then Obama’s statement could be seen as misleading and Wilson’s point could be seen as more supportable.



In other words, though the bills would prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving any taxpayer assistance in purchasing health insurance, the proposals on the table don’t do anything special to prevent an undocumented immigrant from buying health insurance with his own money. To characterize this as “insur[ing] illegal immigrants” strikes me as about on a par with claiming that Obama’s health care plans give ibuprofen to illegal immigrants. After all, nothing in the bill stops illegal immigrants from buying ibuprofen in a store! And the very same FDA regulations that assure citizens and legal residents and tourists of the safety of ibuprofen will also benefit illegal immigrants.

Blue Texan (FDL): South Carolina Congressman Who Screamed at President Obama Fought to Keep Confederate Flag

Long before Joe Wilson (R-SC) made a complete ass out of himself and his party on national television, he fought to keep the Confederate battle flag flying over South Carolina.

The flag came down that year [2000] after Republicans in both houses went for a compromise that would put it on Statehouse grounds at the Confederate Soldier’s monument. The “Magnificent Seven” of Senators who voted to keep the flag up included current Congressman Joe Wilson...

That's right -- Wilson was one of only seven members of the South Carolina Senate to vote to stick it to the blacks keep the battle flag. It was finally brought down under intense national pressure and from an NAACP boycott, which cost the state millions in tourism revenue.

Wilson was just being a good foot soldier for the Neo-Confederate cause, as he's a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, an organization teeming with white supremecists and racists.

Notes the Southern Poverty Law Center,

Early editions of the SCV's Confederate Veteran newsletter defended the Ku Klux Klan, argued that the United States was created "for white people," and complained that "when a Negro has learned to read he ceases to work."

As DougJ wrote,

No one could have predicted that a white southern Congressman would heckle a black president.

Sully: The GOP's New Slogan

They're making tee-shirts and everything:


wilbur (Daily Kos): Probable beltway evolution of Wilson's "You Lie"

From the diaries. Brilliant! -- kos)

Ezra Klein

Joe Wilson’s “you lie” comment might be a great boon to the Democrats in their bid to pass health care.


Michael Scherer (

Joes Wilson broke decorum when he screamed “you lie” which may come back to hurt Republicans. Obama stared back at him and you could seem him twitch.


Rush Limbaugh

And ladies and gentlemen Mr. Obama was calling Mr. Wilson a liar so he had to respond. Did you see the way that Obama twitched? Ladies and gentlemen that’s the type of twitch you see from the type of man Obama is (unsaid: Black) when he’s ready for a barroom fight or to push you aside and ravage your sister. We’ve all seen that twitch before and we’ve all known what it means.



Breaking Headline: Obama twitch is seen as a challenge not only to Wilson but anybody who disagrees with him. Obama wants a barroom fight – and watch your sister.



“The Twitch” – major backlash on Obama’s response to Joe Wilson’s comment – while Wilson is nothing more than a back bencher, Obama raised his stature by using body language to make what feels like to a lot of people a direct threat, to Wilson, the Republicans and their sisters.


Fox News

We are spending all day discussing “The Twitch,” which is getting people really riled up in the real America (show signs of teabaggers carrying signs saying “Don’t Twitch on Me!”) We have noted body language psychologist Dr. Kraz Y. Town to talk about it.

Town: Yes, I want to show you these pictures of Hitler speaking at Nuremberg. You see the same type of twitch.


Sarah Palin (Twitter)

Don’t “Twitch on Me” buddy. I’ve seen that Twitch before and I know to get out of the room fast or I’m going to wind up with a black eye or pregnant


George Will

The first thing a president must have is decorum. You would never see Ronald Reagan twitch like that, make that type of unabashed challenge to a lowly backbencher. Mr. Obama has done himself and his country a disservice.


David Broder

While I understand that the comment was inappropriate all eyes were on Obama and not Joe Wilson. Obama broke comity and destroyed bipartisanship with that twitch. This is our town Mr. Obama and we don’t appreciate you twitching in it.


Chris Mathews

Mathews: Hi, this is Chris Mathews on Hardball. We’re going to be talking about “The Twitch” with a Democratic consultant. Didn’t Obama make a real mistake with that Twitch?

Democratic Consultant: Well, I’ll admit it wasn’t Obama’s best moment, but he was doing it in response to a comment.

Mathews: Come on Joe Wilson is a nothing, a nobody, and hey, we all know what that twitch means. I’m a lunch bucket kind of guy, I’ve been in bars, I have a sister.

Democratic Consultant: Well we need to admit Obama made a mistake with the Twitch and try and move on and pass health care.


Michael Scherer

Obama’s Twitch is causing him enormous trouble. It’s hard to believe this type of blowback. How did the White House lose control of an issue that should have played in their favor?


Ezra Klein

As idiotic as the twitch is, it looks like it is going to doom the public option

Sargent: VIDEO: Watch Joe “You Lie” Wilson Yell At Dem, Rant About His “Hatred Of America”

Joe “you lie” Wilson really does have some long-standing anger management issues.

I’ve just obtained some video from C-SPAN of the 2002 episode I wrote about below, in which the now-infamous Wilson yells at Dem Rep. Bob Filner and accuses him on the air of hating America. It’s a bit long, but the payoff is worth it:

The content of the argument aside, what’s interesting is the long, slow burn of Wilson’s anger. It takes awhile, but once he gets going there’s no turning back. By the end Wilson is smoldering away, looking red-faced and seriously pissed. And there’s no doubt Wilson believes every word he’s saying about his America-hating enemy. What an odd dude.

Sully: Wilson's Crumbling Base

That outburst by Wilson brought in $100K overnight for his opponent. TPM runs the numbers:

In the 2008 election, John McCain carried the district 54%-45%, and Wilson himself was re-elected 53.7%-46.2% over Miller. This was a significant swing from previous elections -- when Wilson would win with over 60% or even over 80% of the vote, and George W. Bush carried it 60%-40% in 2004.

DougJ: Joe Wilson’s war

The battle is joined by Erick Erickson:



The Democrat opponent to Congressman Joe Wilson has raised over $100,000.00 since last night.

What have you given to Joe Wilson. The man spoke for America. And now we need to open our wallets for Joe.

It does no good to pat Joe on the back or give him an “atta boy.” Joe Wilson needs us to open our wallets and checkbooks. Joe Wilson is now a serious threat to Barack Obama because he dared point out that the Emperor has no clothes. The left will target him. The left will target his family. The left will try to destroy Joe Wilson.

We can stop the left. But we must give generously to Joe.

Prove that conservatives are not pathetic activists. Put your money where your mouth is.

Give to Joe.

Sincerely yours,

Erick Erickson

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Think Progress: Despite Calling ‘Death Panels’ Illogical ‘Hysteria’ Last Month, National Review Promotes Them On New Cover

nr-coverLast month, the National Review editors wrote, “We should be against hysteria.” To conclude that President Obama’s health reforms “will lead to ‘death panels’…is to leap across a logical canyon,” they wrote.

At the time, National Review’s Andrew McCarthy criticized the editors of his own magazine for their admission that the “death panels” controversy was hysteria based on a lie:

The editorial’s contention was that there wouldn’t “literally” be death panels. To me, that’s not much different from quibbling over “what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” The stakes here couldn’t be higher, time is short, and “death panel” cuts to the chase.

But the cover of the current issue of National Review promotes the “death panel” hysteria. And, McCarthy now believes that his defense of “death panels” hysteria has been vindicated by National Review’s choice of cover art. McCarthy writes that the cover “made me wonder why we were arguing so much a couple of weeks ago.”

McCarthy actually has a point. It’s disingenuous, to say the least, for National Review to admit in print that “death panels” are a lie, while at the same time trying to sell magazines with art that promotes the same lie.

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