Wednesday, September 30, 2009

He Said That About Us? How Dare He!

QOTD, Rick Moran (conservative blogger): 
"I don’t know how to say it any other way; those conservatives who don’t see a problem with this, or don’t think it “representative” of a significant portion of the conservative movement, or who don’t believe this sort of thing should be taken out, examined, and criticized as forcefully as possible are fooling themselves into believing this kind of thinking doesn’t matter. It is poison coursing through the body of conservatism and we either use reason and logic as an antidote or it will end up killing us."
QOTD2, Michael Steele (via Josh Marshall at TPM):  
Michael Steele sends out fundraising pitch comparing President Obama's "fanaticism" to Stalin and Kim Jong Il.
It seems freshman Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) has sparked something of a controversy with a speech on the House floor last night.
Republicans are pouncing on a late-night House floor speech from Rep. Alan Grayson, during which the freshman Florida Democrat said the Republican health care plan calls for sick people to "die quickly."
"It's a very simple plan," Grayson said in the speech Tuesday night. "Don't get sick. That's what the Republicans have in mind. And if you get sick America, the Republican health care plan is this: die quickly."
The after-hours speech, which included prominent banners behind the congressman to reinforce his point, drew immediate calls from some Republicans for an apology.
"That is about the most mean-spirited partisan statement that I've ever heard made on this floor, and I, for one, don't appreciate it," Tennessee Republican Rep. Jimmy Duncan told the Politico.
Conservatives are up in arms; GOP offices are going after Grayson with a vengeance; and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) is introducing a House resolution to condemn the Florida Democrat, who has quickly developed a reputation for shooting from the hip.
Igor Volsky had a good piece on the substance of Grayson's remarks: "No Republican wants Americans to die, but the party's efforts to stonewall meaningful health care reform perpetuate a status quo in which 45,000 Americans die every year because they lack health care coverage and thousands more see their policies canceled or denied by private insurers that are beholden to Wall Street's profit expectations and not patient health. Grayson intentionally over-stated his case. It's not that Republicans want to kill people; it's that their opposition to meaningful health care reform and their "free market" alternatives would further deregulate insurers and allow companies to continue pushing individuals into high deductible policies that don't provide adequate coverage and actually harm Americans who can't afford their medical bills."
As for the politics, isn't it a little late in the game for congressional Republican to feign outrage about death-related rhetoric? Ryan Grim noted this morning, "[C]harges that the opposition's health care plan will kill people have been about as common on the House floor lately as resolutions naming post offices."
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.) said Dem plans would tell seniors to "drop dead." Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) said Democratic plans for a public option would "kill people." Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said Dems' proposals might "put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government." Plenty of other House Republicans have made similar remarks, and not one of them has every apologized. House Democrats haven't even asked.
Grayson may have been deliberately provocative to highlight a larger point, but if "die quickly" is beyond the pale, the GOP should probably start lining up now, asking for forgiveness for months of dishonest fear-mongering.
  •  from the comments:

    Michael W said:
    I hope this gets a lot of air time in the MSM. Grayson was simply telling the truth, and it's time more people know it.

    Don't worry, Grayson's speech will get tons of coverage from the corporate-controlled media.
    He'll get universal condemnation for his "unprecedented" incivility and bipartisanship. Obama will get nothing but questions about why he hasn't yet condemned Garyson's "hateful" speech. David Broder will call for Grayson to resign before his words "poison the collegial atmosphere of Congress."
    In the end, the Democratic "leadership" will throw Grayson under the bus and demand that he apologize.
    The media sh*tstorm will begin in 3 . . . 2 . . .

    Posted by: SteveT on September 30, 2009 at 1:02 PM

  • Josh Marshall says : Gimme a Break 

    Rep. Alan Grayson delivered a speech last night in which he made some really over the top comments -- namely that the Republican plan for health care is a) don't get sick and b) if you do get sick, die quickly. I'm not going to defend that. But is this really a controversy when half the Republican elected offiicials in the country have been saying for the last couple months, as a statement of purported fact, that the Democrats want to institute 'death panels' that will euthanize or deny care to people who can't justify their lives on utilitarian grounds?
    And what reporters are stupid enough not to point this out?

Yglesias: Real Talk From Wayne Gilchrest: “Arrogange and dogma . . . are pervasive in the Republican Party” 
Alex MacGillis’ interesting profile of moderate Republican former Rep. Wayne Gilchrest mostly focuses on non-political topics, but Gilchrest does offer a few spots of real talk:
In that regard, his retreat to the Shore had nationwide echoes. He was one of a legion of moderate Republicans who fell away from the party as it narrowed around a more orthodox, pugnacious and Southern strain of conservatism. “I can remember sitting and having dinner with the other Republicans,” he said while driving to the shelter, “and thinking, if I was on the outside, I would not be having dinner with these guys.” [...]
When he started in Congress, Republicans “weren’t yet what they turned out to be,” he said. “It was the last of the WASPy New Englanders, with their sense of public service. . . . But then all of a sudden, they just got taken over. I hate to say this, but ignorance, arrogance and dogma are pervasive in the world, and they certainly are pervasive in the Republican Party.”
Gilchrest was defeated by a conservative challenger in his 2008 primary, then that guy got beaten by a Democrat. To some extent, then, this may just be sour grapes. But those are still some very tough words for guys who were his colleagues 12 months ago.
Sargent: Poll: Huge Majority Of Mainers Wants Snowe To Break Ranks With GOP 
With Olympia Snowe pondering whether to break ranks with the GOP and support a health care compromise, the new Democracy Corps poll contains a somewhat relevant finding: A huge majority of her consituents want her to do just that!
Mainers think Republicans aren’t serious about reform and don’t care about bipartisanship for its own sake, the poll finds. Check out these numbers:
* By 50 to 39 percent, voters in Maine believe Republicans in Congress “aren’t being constructive and just want Obama to fail” rather than that they “are playing a constructive role in improving a health care reform bill.”
* By 62 to 29 percent, Mainers believe President Obama “has made an effort to reach out to Republicans on health care reform” rather than that he “has ignored Republicans’ ideas on health care reform.”
* And by 64 to 28 percent, they feel Senator Snowe “should vote for the health care bill if she thinks it’s a good bill even if she is the only Republican who supports it” rather than that she “should only vote for the health care bill if it is a bipartisan bill that other Republicans are willing to support.”
This is coming from a Dem firm, admittedly, but the questions seem well-framed, and these are striking numbers.
Snowe has been making mildly critical public statements about the GOP that seem designed to pave the way for an eventual break with the party on health care. Seems like the sentiments of her own constituents give her plenty of cover to make that break, too.
Update: By the way, don’t forget to check out Snowe Patrol, our blog dedicated to tracking all things Snowe.

I tend not to expect much from National Review's John Derbyshire. The conservative writer/columnist more or less jumped the shark when he expressed contempt for the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting massacre. (As he saw it, those who feared for their lives should have tried to physically confront the armed madman.)
But it seems Derbyshire continues to push the boundaries of good taste. His new book apparently includes a section against women's suffrage, and Alan Colmes explored the matter on his radio show this morning.
The National Review writer initially said "women lean hard to the left," which isn't necessarily true, and certainly isn't a rationale for denying women the right to participate in democracy. So, Colmes pressed further. Faiz Shakir posted a transcript:
DERBYSHIRE: Among the hopes that I do not realistically nurse is the hope that female suffrage will be repealed. But I'll say this -- if it were to be, I wouldn't lose a minute's sleep.
COLMES: We'd be a better country if women didn't vote?
DERBYSHIRE: Probably. Don't you think so?
COLMES: No, I do not think so whatsoever.
DERBYSHIRE: Come on Alan. Come clean here [laughing].
COLMES: We would be a better country? John Derbyshire making the statement, we would be a better country if women did not vote.
DERBYSHIRE: Yeah, probably.
He added that the United States "got along like that for 130 years," and added that the Civil Rights Act may also lack value because you "shouldn't try to force people to be good."
Just so we're clear, a leading conservative writer at one of the premier conservative political outlets, argued publicly against a woman's right to vote and against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
It's extraordinary. Generally, conservative media figures try to maintain the pretense of sanity in public. I'm afraid that's no longer the case.
Josh Marshall: In Case You Missed It 
As noted earlier, Newsmax appears to have taken down its article endorsing a potential military coup as the only way to solve the "Obama problem". But here's the full text of the article as it originally appeared.
As noted previously, the article not only endorsed the idea but seemed to suggest that top military brass were also planning or actively considering such an option.
Late Update: Newsmax is now distancing itself from Perry's column and they've sent us a statement to that effect.
Later Update: Let me just add a little more on this. As you can see, the angle Newsmax is taking on this is to suggest that Perry doesn't really have anything to do with them, that he's just an "unpaid blogger." Now I think we all understand that there are many sites -- Kos, Redstate, even TPM -- where readers are allowed to set up their own blogs or diaries and write their own stuff. These are essentially discussion areas. And it's a cheap shot when someone finds some nutty diary on Kos and says DailyKos published such and such. Newsmax is claiming that that's what's happening here. But we've taken a close look. And I think it's clear that that is not true. Perry has written a weekly column for the site going back to at least 1999. And he's prominently listed on the bio page of all Newsmax columnists, along with Dick Morris, Dr. Laura, Grover Norquist, Lanny Davis, Michael Reagan, Rep. Ernest Istook, etc. (You can see the page we're referring to here; scroll down and look for the red arrow on the left.) We'll have more for you on this shortly.
DougJ: A kinder, gentler coup 
Maybe I’m way off base on this, but in my opinion, the Conor Friedersdorfs and Nicole Wallaces of the right aren’t so different from coupmeister John L. Perry. The idea of David Petraeus sweeping in and becoming president in 2012 isn’t unethical or unconstitutional, but I can’t help but think that Friedersdorf and Wallace simply want an institution they see as Republican—the military—to depose a Democratic president they dislike. (Friedersorf’s other preferred candidate is Colin Powell.)
The desire to depose Obama runs much deeper on the right—even the so-called moderate right—than anyone is willing to admit. The Perry piece wasn’t any kind of outlier.
John Cole: How The Village Thinks 
I know I always put my health at risk when I read the Moustache of Understanding, but sometimes I can not resist. Like today:
Sometimes I wonder whether George H.W. Bush, president “41,” will be remembered as our last “legitimate” president. The right impeached Bill Clinton and hounded him from Day 1 with the bogus Whitewater “scandal.” George W. Bush was elected under a cloud because of the Florida voting mess, and his critics on the left never let him forget it. And Mr. Obama is now having his legitimacy attacked by a concerted campaign from the right fringe. They are using everything from smears that he is a closet “socialist” to calling him a “liar” in the middle of a joint session of Congress to fabricating doubts about his birth in America and whether he is even a citizen. And these attacks are not just coming from the fringe. Now they come from Lou Dobbs on CNN and from members of the House of Representatives.
Got it? Clinton and Obama are not legitimate because the lunatics say they aren’t.

Think ProgressPeople reluctant to book Palin for speaking engagements because ‘they think she is a blithering idiot.’ 
Since Sarah Palin resigned as Alaska’s governor, she has signed on with the Washington Speakers Bureau, hoping to cash in on her fame. While Palin did do one speech — to mixed reviews — in Asia recently, she is reportedly having trouble getting booked for more:
Palin’s bookers are said to be asking for $100,000 per speech, but an industry expert tells Page Six: “The big lecture buyers in the US are paralyzed with fear about booking her, basically because they think she is a blithering idiot.
Many big lecture venues are subscription series, “and they don’t want to tick people off,” said our source. “Palin is polarizing, and some subscribers might cancel if she’s on the lineup.” Other lecture buyers are universities, which have a leftist slant, and corporations, which dislike controversy.
“Palin is so uninteresting to so many groups — unless they are interested in moose hunting,” said our insider. “What does she have to say? She can’t even describe what she reads.
Blue Texan (FDL): Conservative Blogger Rick Moran Calls on the Right to Condemn “Crazies”, Sees Racism in Attacks on Obama
There is a growing list of conservatives -- David Frum, Bruce Bartlett, and Joe Scarborough, to name a few -- who are actually pushing back against the Palin/Beck/Bachmann lunacy that's taken over the GOP and the conservative movement. They understand that shouting "fascist!" and "racist!" at the President isn't a winning electoral strategy.
Rick Moran is another, and yesterday highlighted the "How to Take Back America Conference" -- at which Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, and other prominent elected Republicans spoke -- as an example of everything that's wrong with the conservative movement.
Before commenting on the substance of what the author [Kitty Werthmann] actually believes is solid evidence that Obama wants to set up a Fourth Reich, I want you to look at that list of Republicans who will be giving their imprimatur to a conference that features such idiocy. Those are not “fringe” players. They are all considered “mainstream” conservatives. Should they be taken to task for attending a conference that features such off the wall lunacy?
Bingo. And that's the big difference between the right and left today. Both side have their kooks, but the kooks on the right are embraced by the party establishment. Can you imagine the outcry from the corporate media and the GOP if a bunch of prominent Democratic members of Congress and a leading Democratic candidate for President spoke at conference examining how Bush is like Hitler?
Adds Moran,
Exaggeration is not argument. It is emotionalism run rampant. And at its base is simple, unreasoning fear. Fear of change, fear that the powerlessness conservatives feel right now is a permanent feature of American politics, and, I am sorry to say, fear of Obama because he is a black man. Fear of change, fear that the powerlessness conservatives feel right now is a permanent feature of American politics, and, I am sorry to say, fear of Obama because he is a black man.
There are too many photos of racist posters at Teabaggings, there have been too many racist emails forwarded by too many elected Republicans, and too many comments about "white culture" from conservative commentators to not address the race issue. And it's telling that every time someone like El Rushbo or Glenn Beck goes there, they are immediately defended by the right. Why?
I agree with the left to a certain extent that the right - especially on the internet - has become something of an echo chamber (it’s true on the left too but their crazies have already been marginalized). This has resulted in what might be termed a “negative feedback loop” where the more exaggerated claims about dastardly Democrats go around and around, becoming ever more outrageous and illogical, until we get overflowing crowds at a seminar where the most fantastically stretched and mangled analogies to Nazis and Communists are taken seriously.
Yes. This "Obama's a Nazi" theme is mainstream among conservatives -- Jim DeMint, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Broun -- all have gone there. And the response? Glenn Reynolds "Heh indeeds", Michelle Malkin and the RedStaters cheer it on, and Jonah Goldberg goes on Fox News and offers historical insight into why Obama is, in fact, just like Hitler.
I don’t know how to say it any other way; those conservatives who don’t see a problem with this, or don’t think it “representative” of a significant portion of the conservative movement, or who don’t believe this sort of thing should be taken out, examined, and criticized as forcefully as possible are fooling themselves into believing this kind of thinking doesn’t matter. It is poison coursing through the body of conservatism and we either use reason and logic as an antidote or it will end up killing us.
It already has.

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