A little historical perspective and a resolution for 2010

Problem: You wonder what it would be like to touch a black person, but your maid is too skittish. Solution: Internship at the RNC!

The photo at right comes from a whole set of shots of RNC chairman Michael Steele fallin’ out with his interns, at least one of whom appears to be developmentally disabled. Props to everyone’s favorite Meghan Gallagher for the link. 2009 draws rapidly to a close, which means that Combat! blog’s New Year’s resolutions—stop drinking well whiskey, provide a more balanced assessment of both ends of the American political spectrum, and reduce violations of resolution #1 to three per week—will soon be in force. Until then, though, screw those Chicken Little sons of rich bitches. There are two legitimate political parties in the United States right now. One of them is powerful, disorganized, corrupt and cowardly. The other is the GOP, which lacks political power but makes up for it by being well-coordinated and brave. Maybe “brave” isn’t the right word so much as “audacious.” Whether they’re organizing protests against quote-unquote tyrannical taxation three months into the new presidency or blaming the current crisis in health care on people who exercise too much, Republicans proved in 2009 that they know how to play from behind. In the process, they also made this one of the most hysterical, counterproductive years of American political discourse in recent memory. Oops. Then again, a lot of things have slipped from recent memory. As Timothy Egan points out, the GOP’s frothing over health care reform in 2009 is not unlike it’s general flip-out over Bill Clinton’s tax reform in 1993. Check it!

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Daily Show articulates Tea Party platform exactly

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Highway to Health – Last Tea Party Protest of the Year
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The video above is from last night’s Daily Show, in which John Stewart assesses the final Tea Party protest of the year. First of all, I think it’s high time we acknowledged that the Daily Show pretty much performs all the functions of Combat! blog, plus a bunch of other stuff, and does all of it better. They are the Facebook to my Twitter. Second of all, after months and thousands upon thousands of words speculating on just what it is that the various Tea Party protestors have in common, John Steward has pinned down the species in one four-minute video segment. In so doing, he also assembles a pretty good list of differences between them and an actual political party. To wit:

1) They confuse goals with policy. At the 2:01 mark, Rick Scott says “we” don’t want more government or increased spending; we just want lower health care costs and more coverage. I agree that it’s a terrific idea, but I’m interested to see letter B in his outline. The chant “kill the bill” is a comical instance of how not just policy-free but anti-policy the Tea Party movement is. The Tea Partiers don’t have their own bill or even a vague plan for how to address health care reform, but dammit, they’re against everything that has been done so far. When they’re not out in force specifically to fight health care reform, the most common complaint of Tea Party activists is that taxes and spending are both too high. But what specific spending do the Tea Partiers suggest we cut? By now, we’ve all seen the video where the fat lady thinks for  a few seconds before saying, “All of it.” Low taxes, a strong economy, unshakeable national security and an unobtrusive government aren’t positions; they’re values. That they’re values we all share makes passing them off as an agenda even more insipid.

2) They’re outraged at stuff that hasn’t happened yet. Since Barack Obama took office and the Tea Party movement miraculously coalesced out of nowhere/Fox News studios, no changes have been made to federal gun laws, tax structures or abortion statutes. Yet the Tea Party is animated by a sense of urgent panic over these issues. Granted, President Obama probably will raise the marginal tax rate and re-ban private ownership of assault weapons, but he hasn’t yet, just like he hasn’t converted the country to socialism or changed one whit of the landscape that Tea Partiers suddenly find so terrifying after the Bush administration. When Laura Ingraham says “First they came for the rich…” she’s either lying or describing her sophomore year in college.

3) They have no sense of historical perspective. And about Laura Ingraham’s little homily: it’s a good thing Eli Wiesel wasn’t at that anti-health care reform rally. For all their fixation on history, the Tea Party seems to have very little sense of how the lives of a bunch of mallwalkers in middle America might differ from those of colonists in eighteenth-century Boston, or Jews in 1930s Germany, or political dissidents in Maoist China. Now matter how much Congress jacks up the marginal tax rate, no one is going to be sent to a forced labor camp. The inability to distinguish between real tyranny and not getting your way is a hallmark of childhood, not of representative democracy in a post-industrial superpower.

4) They’re fundamentally anti-intellectual. “We cannot let the pen be mightier than the sword.” I’m sure that was taken out of context, but I would like to take this opportunity to personally offer to meet with this fat man and explain to him the benefits of a discourse based on rhetoric rather than capacity for extended physical violence. Does the Tea Party really believe that we as a nation should think less and act more? Probably, which is why they give me the fuckin’ creeps.

Lieberman has killed the public option, and Harry Reid should give him what he wants

Joe Lieberman has proven once again that a man who refuses to sacrifice his principles can achieve anything: invasion of a foreign country on false pretenses, denial of health care to the poor—you name it.

Joe Lieberman proves once again that a man who refuses to sacrifice his principles can achieve anything: invasion of a foreign country on false pretenses, denial of health care to the poor—you name it.

Good news for people who live in Connecticut, already have health insurance and work for Aetna, Cigna or Oxford Health Plans! According to the New York Times, Joe Lierberman (D–CT, net worth $2 million) seems finally to have succeeded in torpedoing the public option. The former Democrat announced Sunday that he would filibuster any Senate bill that included the Medicare buy-in compromise Harry Reid struck with ten liberal and centrist Democrats last week. That’s a slight difference from the position he articulated last Tuesday, when he said he was against the public option but for the expansion of Medicare, and an utter goddamn sea change from the position he articulated in 2000, when he ran for Vice President promising the exact same Medicare expansion he now threatens to filibuster the Senate to stop. How soon we forget, Joe Lieberman. Either that, or how willing we are to do whatever we think might get us elected to public office. “My wife said to me, ‘Why do you always end up being the point person here?’” Lieberman told reporters on Monday. She was probably eating caviar out of an ostrich egg at the time, and considered it rude to add, “Is it because you’re an unprincipled dwarf?” with her mouth full.

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Oh, Yeah Department: Bush tax cuts cost more than twice as much as health care reform

The US national debt by year and President, courtesy of crooksandliars.com

The US national debt by year and President, courtesy of crooksandliars.com

The graph at right shows us the US national debt in billions of dollars by year and President, conveniently colored in accordance with political affiliation. Props to Smick, who sent me this wonderful gift and the crooksandliars.com article that accompanies it over the weekend. First of all, don’t let this graph get into a time machine somehow, because it will make George Washington’s head explode. Second of all, the Bush tax cuts are estimated to have added $2.5 trillion to the debt from over the 2001-2010 period. As Susie “The Anagram” Madrak over at C&L points out, that just happens to be two and a half times the cost of the House’s health care bill. Smell that? That’s some sweet, delicious hypocrisy, right there, and arrayed in their Kiss the Cook aprons are several Republican members of Congress, including John Boehner (R–OH, net worth $1.7–$6 million.) He’s just one of the many valiant defenders of fiscal responsibility who oppose health care reform because it will add to our $12 trillion national debt, but voted overwhelmingly to pass the Bush tax cuts.

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Public option dies again, kind of, as Senate grinds toward halt

A bunch of millionaires who look like TV weathermen agonize over how best to keep you from getting free medicine.

A bunch of millionaires dressed like TV weathermen agonize over how best to keep you from getting discount antibiotics.

Those of us with recently re-dislocated shoulders and $35,000 insurance deductibles can go straight to hell and fuck ourselves again, as the federal government has decided overwhelmingly that, as a nation, we must conquer Afghanistan and then leave, but that we must not offer any sort of public health insurance. Those two issues are not strictly connected, but still. According to the New York Times, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D–NV, net worth $3–$6 million) announced a compromise last night among 10 Senate Democrats that would eliminate government-run health insurance, but retain the possibility of allowing individuals to buy into the same group plans currently offered to members of Congress. It will also let people aged 55 to 64 buy into Medicare, which is not too terribly helpful for the nation, considering that age group contains the lowest percentage of uninsured adults of any demographic in America. Such compromises are necessary, though, in order to get moderate and liberal Democratic senators to agree to pass some sort of health care reform bill. Notice that sentence did not contain the word “Republican.” That’s right, Combat! readers: the Democratic Party, which enjoys a sixty-seat majority in the Senate and controls both the House and the presidency, in its continuing effort to pass the centerpiece of its legislative agenda for this election cycle, has rejected a measure that 68% of Americans support because it has been forced to compromise with itself.

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