Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mark Sanford News Roundup

By MARC McDONALD

Look, I don't really care about the extramarital affair of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R). But it is pretty nauseating, as always, to hear about the hypocrisy of politicians who belong to the supposed "Family Values" party.

Sanford, let's not forget, was relentless in his attacks when he backed impeachment articles against Bill Clinton back in 1998, as the HuffingtonPost points out:


This is "very damaging stuff," Sanford declared at one point, when details of Clinton's conduct became known. "I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign)... I come from the business side," he said. "If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he'd be gone."


So Sanford is a lying, sack-of-sh*t hypocrite. What's new for the Republicans?

What we ought to be more concerned about is the extent of taxpayer funds in Sanford's trips to Argentina. As the CharlestonCityPaper.com pointed out:


In December, the Associated Press reported that taxpayers had spent $21,488 in 2008 on Sanford trips to China, Argentina, and Brazil, as well as nearly $2,000 in travel from his own office.


But not to worry. Fox News is all over this story, with their usual high standards of journalism, labeling Sanford as a Democrat, as Media Matters noted. Check out the on-screen headline from Fox's coverage of Sanford's news conference: "SC Gov Mark Sanford (D) Holds News Conf On His Weekend Disappearance."


Monday, June 22, 2009

Mark Levin: The Most Extremist and Frightening HateWing Talker of Them All

By MARC McDONALD

Talk radio these days is becoming more and more extremist and frightening. And HateWing spewer Mark Levin is the most frightening and extreme of them all.

Clearly, though, there's an audience for Levin's twisted vision. After all, his latest book, Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto was a recent No. 1 New York Times bestseller, with over a million copies now in print. And an incredible 1,355 out of 1,538 Amazon customers have given the book a perfect 5-star rating.

Liberty and Tyranny rounds up and recycles the usual arguments for (supposedly) limiting government. It's the same tired, cliched, simplistic arguments that have been trotted out endlessly by today's GOP (a philosophy, incidentally, that was trounced at the polls by the American people last year, who demonstrated that they're sick and tired of three decades of trickle-down Reaganomics).

But Levin couldn't care less what the majority of American people want. He believes that he, and his shrinking GOP base, know what's really best for the American people. Frankly, it sounds like elitism to me. (Which is ironic, because Levin and his ilk are constantly bitching and moaning about the "Liberal Elites" who are supposedly trying to push their views on the rest of us).

What's worse is that in Liberty and Tyranny (as was the case with his other books), Levin tries to justify his extremist beliefs by claiming that his twisted views are what the Founding Fathers called for.

If you read Levin, you get the impression that America today (a modern industrial superpower with a population of 300 million people) should be run exactly the same way it was run in the 1700s (when the U.S. was a sparsely populated collection of 13 rural colonies).

This is True Freedom, Levin would have us believe. Never mind that back in the 1700s, most Americans weren't free at all. After all, millions of blacks were enslaved. Indians were persecuted and murdered. And the majority of the population (women) couldn't even vote.

Is a 1700s-style government what Levin really wants for today's America? Well, when it fits his arguments. For example, any non-defense government programs, of course, ought to be abolished. Everything from Social Security to the FDA to the FAA to Medicare. Never mind that the American people overwhelming support all these programs. Levin wants them all abolished.

The problem with Levin is the inconsistency of his arguments. Levin, you see, has absolutely no problem with America's massive, out-of-control Pentagon budget. (Never mind the the fact that the Founding Fathers were opposed to a standing army during peacetime, as well as the fact that the U.S. got along just fine without the Pentagon for much of our nation's history).

Although Levin claims to be in favor of a smaller, less intrusive government, he has no problems with pouring trillions of our tax dollars into the pockets of wealthy and powerful "defense" contractors. So much for Eisenhower's warning about the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex.

But what did Eisenhower know? He was only an American hero and decorated military general who won World War II for America. No, let's ignore Eisenhower's words of wisdom and instead listen to cowardly chickenhawks like Levin (who never served in the military).

Incredibly, for all his talk about "fiscal responsibility," Levin has no problem with corporate welfare. In Liberty and Tyranny you won't read a word about the hundreds of billions of tax dollars that the likes of Halliburton have collected in closed, no-bid corporate welfare over the years.

Nor will you read a word about how corporate America these days pays little tax (in fact, two-thirds of U.S. corporations pay zero federal tax these days). But Levin, as always, lies through his teeth and claims U.S. corporations face a crushing, heavy tax burden.

One wonders what the Founding Fathers would have made of Levin. Although he claims to speak for their vision for America, I get the feeling that the likes of Thomas Jefferson would have been appalled at Levin. Jefferson, for example, rejected the divinity of Jesus Christ and famously wrote papers attacking the absurdities of the Bible. The Founding Fathers in fact were not Christian. But Levin, as always, lies through his teeth and claims that they were.

And yet Levin hijacks the Founding Father's views and would have us believe that they'd support things like George W. Bush's illegal, immoral $3 trillion War of Lies in Iraq. So much for George Washington's warning to the young nation to never get involved in overseas military adventures.

Bush, in fact, shredded the Constitution that Levin claims to support. During the Bush years, Levin fanatically supported Bush through all the outrages, from embracing torture as official state policy to warrantless wiretaps.

For Levin to turn around and claim in Liberty and Tyranny that he supports the philosophy of the Founding Fathers is sickening and grotesque. The Founding Fathers would have despised a dangerous demagogue like Levin.

Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto has been a huge success for Levin. It even has a near-perfect 4.5 stars on Amazon. In 1,538 customer reviews, the book has garnered a perfect 5-star rating from an incredible 1,355 customers. Levin often touts this fact on his radio show.

The wingnuts definitely know how to play the Amazon ratings game. Check out a book by anyone from Al Gore to Michael Moore and you'll see endless one-star "reviews" by wingnuts (who, instead of actually reading the books in question, simply leave a short one-sentence attack on the author).

Yes, Liberty and Tyranny has been a big success. But for that matter, so was "Mein Kampf."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

GOP Politicians OK With Tax-Funded Health Care---But Only For Themselves

By MARC McDONALD

Contrary to what you might have heard, GOP politicians aren't opposed to all taxpayer-funded health care. For example, they've got no problem with the lavish, taxpayer-funded health care that they themselves receive as members of Congress. They just don't want anyone else in America to enjoy these generous benefits.

In fact, members of Congress get the finest health care in America---and it's mostly paid for by taxpayers.

I don't have a problem with Democratic politicians getting taxpayer-funded health care. After all, many of them are trying to extend such benefits to the rest of us.

But for GOP politicians to receive such lavish, taxpayer-supported health care while loudly opposing it for everyone else is, of course, stinking hypocrisy.

Amazingly, no Republican politician to my knowledge has ever admitted this glaring contradiction. None of them have ever demanded that their own health-care coverage be the same as what ordinary working stiffs get, out in the private sector. And nobody in the MSM ever bothers to call them out on this blatant hypocrisy.

Members of Congress participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). They get a wide range of plans to choose from. They can also insure their spouses and dependents. There's no waiting period. And unlike the rest of us, no member of Congress has to worry about being denied coverage.

I've never heard of a member of Congress going bankrupt from medical bills. For the rest of us, the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy in America is caused by medical bills. In fact, medical bankruptcies affect about 2 million Americans annually. And even as GOP politicians enjoy generous health care benefits, they seem genuinely surprised at the notion that there's any kind of "crisis" going on with health care in America.

And here's something that GOP politicians would rather you not know: the government (i.e. you, the U.S. taxpayer) pays up to 75 percent of Congress members' health-care premiums, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

And as the St. Petersburg Times pointed out last year, members of Congress get other health-care benefits, as well, (funded by millions in taxpayer dollars):

Members of Congress have their own pharmacy, right in the Capitol. They also have a team of doctors, technicians and nurses standing by in case something busts in a filibuster. They can get a physical exam, an X-ray or an electrocardiogram, without leaving work.

GOP politicians think it's fine to enjoy taxpayer-funded health-care benefits. They just don't want these benefits for anyone else in America. Keep this in mind the next time you hear a GOP politician ranting away about how the government has no business being involved in health care.

If you think it's important that Americans have a strong public health insurance option this year, then consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iranians Are Showing Major Juevos---Unlike "Murkans"

By MANIFESTO JOE

Maybe they had it right, in a sense, when they said it can't happen here. In 2000, the U.S. had a presidential election blatantly stolen, with the 5-4 blessing of our Supreme Court. Four years later, the national election results sharply contrasted with the exit polling, and it was eventually demonstrated that the technology and means to "hack" some of the voting machines existed.

With few exceptions, no one raised any serious hell in the U.S., either time.

Not so right now in Iran, and richly to the credit of the people there. They are being asked to buy the idea that nearly 40 million handwritten ballots can be accurately counted and tallied in about 12 hours, and then with a clearly unpopular hard-line incumbent president winning by a huge, overwhelming landslide. Guess what -- they aren't buying it.

The unrest has become vast, with all those young Iranians taking to the streets in defiance of official repression. It makes me feel proud of the Iranians. And, it makes me feel just a bit ashamed of Americans, who, in words paraphrased from an old movie set in Mexico, with Federales looking for a gringo troublemaker: "Don't just stand there like burros! Haf you seen heem?"

We, my fellow "Murkans," just stood there like burros. Twice. No juevos, no cojones, either time. Nada.

The Iranians, for better or for worse, are not. Before them, recently, the Ukranians didn't, and to good effect. Even in Mexico, many didn't "just stand there like burros" after a questionable election outcome in 2006. And in Tiananmen Square, 20 years ago, and not in any election setting, the world witnessed one of the greatest, albeit futile, exhibitions of human courage ever seen.

So, where was the outrage in America in 2000, or in 2004?

I'd say it's when we stopped being America, and became, as George W. "Il Doofus" Bush always mispronounced it, "Murka."

And when we became Murka, a semiliterate frat pledge master like Il Doofus could have the presidency of the whole damned country stolen for him, perhaps twice. And amazingly few people said anything.

The unrest in Iran probably won't change things at the official level, and some unfortunate souls will be killed or injured. It may be all for nothing in the short run, as was the case with Tiananmen Square. But sometimes courage means that you have to fight injustice, even when you know you're going to lose.

We haven't shown that kind of courage here since about 1970. Way back then, with the long hair, bongs, ugly tie-dye and all -- we were actually America. Not Murka.

Right now, the whole world is watching -- but not Murka. They're watching Iran, of all places.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Doctors Who Performed Abortions In Nazi Germany Faced Death Penalty

By MARC McDONALD

If you browse an anti-abortion Web site, or listen to an anti-abortion activist these days, you'll encounter plenty of references to Nazi Germany.

For example, on Monday, Randall Terry, founder of the Operation Rescue said: "I believe George Tiller was one of the most evil men on the planet; every bit as vile as the Nazi war criminals who were hunted down, tried, and sentenced after they participated in the 'legal' murder of the Jews that fell into their hands."

Terry is hardly alone in his extremist views. For example, Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly often demonized slain doctor George Tiller and said he was guilty Of "Nazi stuff."

Which raises a question: where did Hitler himself stand on abortion? Actually, he opposed it.

In fact, in their first year of power, in 1933, the Nazis outlawed abortion.

As Gloria Steinem pointed out in 1982, a flaw "in the fervent condemnations of pro-choice advocates as Nazis is that Hitler himself, and the Nazi doctrine he created, were unequivocally opposed to any individual right to abortion."

Steinem notes: "Under Hitler, choosing abortion became sabotage; a crime punishable by hard labor for the woman and a possible death penalty for the abortionist."

Hmmm, let me see: a "death penalty for the abortionist."

Some things really haven't changed much since 1933. Back then, it was the Nazis condemning "abortionists" to death. Today, it's the extremist, hate-filled evangelical "Christian" bigots whose twisted rhetoric is encouraging violence against doctors who practice abortion.