Promise Me You’ll Never Die

Grover Norquist would have sex with a tax cut.The recent right-wing bullshit extravaganza that was the (entirely fabricated) debt ceiling “crisis” brought to light a growing problem in American politics, that of the signing of campaign pledges.

Powerful lobbyists, PACs, etc… have candidates sign pledges to do a whole range of things, from refusing to raise taxes to oppose abortion at any cost to emphasizing their own marriage vows.  In every case, it’s ridiculous – it is the opposite of mature, intelligent thought and you can argue that it’s antithetical to the Constitution and to their oath of office.

In the oath of office, Congress members “swear to protect and defend the Constitution” and “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office”.  Nowhere in the oath or in the Constitution is there a part where it says you should pledge your undying allegiance to a lobbyist or to a general principle, regardless of how that affects the rest of the country.  It’s absurd that it’s allowed, far more absurd that it’s a common and acceptable practice.

One of the key pledges that caused so much stress in the past couple of months while the Tea Party and other irresponsible Republicans held a gun to the nation’s head, nearly forcing the first default in our history, putting the nation’s credit rating in great jeopardy (it still is), and wasting valuable time arguing about something completely specious rather than fixing the nation’s actual problems, is Grover Norquist’s tax pledge.  Norquist, who heads a group called Americans for Tax Reform, convinces nearly every Republican in the House and Senate (even at the local level) to sign his pledge which states that they will oppose every single potential tax increase and every single instance where a tax deduction will be removed.

That’s right.  Like brainless zombies, nearly every Republican has vowed in a written pledge to oppose a collection of policies regardless of their effect on the country.  If there were a law that was able to promise eternal peace with a 1% tax hike on the wealthiest 1% of Americans, it wouldn’t be able to get through Congress due to Republican opposition.  Either that, or they’d have to go against their pledge, and then Norquist would make absolutely certain that that Congress member will lose their seat.  Makes sense, right?

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Serious Media

President Obama went on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night – the first time a sitting president has ever appeared on the show.

So naturally, the rest of the “media” is completely up in arms today.

From talk radio to the cable channels, the talking heads are all bitter and jealous that the president took his time to visit with a “comedian” rather than spend the time with “serious journalists”.

This is preposterous

Does Jon Stewart make dick jokes?  Yes.

But night in and night out, Jon Stewart can be found speaking the truth in a funny, poignant, and generally informative way.

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Welcome, Republicans

"Strategery."

Common knowledge these days is that the Republicans are poised to make significant gains in the House and Senate next Tuesday in the midterm elections, largely due to a sweeping feeling of unrest and dissatisfaction with the entire political landscape – financial uncertainty, unemployment, and the media meme that the current administration and the Democratic led Congress are ineffectual, despite the fact that they have accomplished quite a bit in the past two years.

Assuming that it’s true that the Republicans win big next week, the next step (one would think) is for them to take on the job of governing the country, which Constitutionally, would require them working with President Obama.

Just one problem – the word  “bipartisan” only matters to them when the only power that the voters allowed them to cling to after the 2008 elections was the filibuster, which they used a record number of times in the past few years to shut down anything that signified real progress or reform.  When the Obama administration or the Democratic Congress are about to make any serious headway in achieving pieces of the agenda that won them so many elections in ’08, the Republicans use filibuster threats to dilute any legislation to the point where even passing an historic health care bill looks like defeat for the President.

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Unrighteous Indignation

Not the problem.

Stephen Colbert appeared in front of a congressional subcommittee today to testify about undocumented immigrant workers – in character, as his Bill O’Reilly-esque satiric “self” from his Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report.

And it made people’s heads explode.

Republicans are mad, because that’s what they do.  The media is mad because that’s what they do, too.

The appearance was very clearly a PR stunt to draw attention to what is a truly important issue, you know, if you care about the economy or human rights.

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Self-Defeating

Bart Stupak

This is Bart Stupak, Democratic Congressman from Michigan.

I was going to write about him last week, when he and his small team of fellow Democratic congressmen and women were holding the health care bill hostage to bribe their way to further concessions toward their anti-abortion cause.

He and his team were prepared, or so they pretended, to vote down a health care bill that would help provide 30 million needy Americans with health care, set critical regulations on insurance practices, and quite literally save lives.  Although more than 47,000 Americans die each year due to the lack of health insurance (that’s fifteen 9/11’s), Stupak and his crew wanted to be sure that it would be crystal clear that no federal subsidies would go to insurance policies that covered abortion, even though the proposed law didn’t do that in the first place.

Nuns and church organizations endorsed the bill.  Other “pro-life” congressman endorsed the bill.  Stupak was clearly wrong, and clearly grandstanding.  A couple weeks ago, no one knew who he was and now they do, so his ploy worked.  He got President Obama to meet with him personally and sign an executive order that only restated the current law of the land for the last thirty years.

After doing so, he signed onto the bill, stating in his floor speech that those who were still protesting the bill on the grounds of the “pro-life” cause we “politicizing life, not prioritizing life”.  Finally, he had figured it out.  Too bad it was only after he had done that for three weeks, himself.

And that’s when things went downhill.  Rep. Randy Neugebauer stood up and shouted “baby-killer!” during Stupak’s speech.  Rep. Neugebauer has backpedaled, saying that he wasn’t calling Stupak a baby-killer, and that what he said was “it’s a baby-killer” in reference to the insurance reform bill.  Either way, pretty ridiculous.

And then it got worse.  Stupak and his family have now had their office and home phone lines flooded with hateful messages and calls.  Things like, “You’re dead.  We know where you live.  We’ll get you.”

From the so-called pro-life people.

How quickly one can go from right-wing, anti-abortion hero to hated staunch rival is truly amazing.  That’s extremism for you.

It’s not the first time the anti-abortion people have exposed their own hypocrisy.  Being “pro-life” should mean that they are in favor of human life in all instances, not just when it concerns a small collection of human cells that might possibly constitute a functioning member of society someday.

But that’s not how it works.  They’ll support unnecessary wars and the death penalty while opposing stem cell research and the extension of health care to millions of Americans, saving thousands of already productive lives each year.

And they’ll shoot down abortion doctors and threaten the lives of elected representatives who choose progress over impractical interpretations of thousand year old cult doctrines.

It’s truly disgusting.