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Obama’s speech to the schoolkids on health care: a play

Note: A story told on a holiday ought to be able to meander.  So, pull up a chair….

I posted this on Big Orange to a resounding thud and I am determined to give more people a chance to enjoy it despite its length.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I want to thank Ms. Daniels for allowing me to attend her classroom here at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, where eight years ago this week former President Bush famously read “My Pet Goat” to her second-grade students as planes destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and crashed into the Pentagon.

As you know, Senators Baucus, Conrad, Enzi, and Grassley asked me to change the date of my address to Congress on health care because Fox News had scheduled a one-hour prime time Glenn Beck special on “The Morality of Political Violence” opposite it.  In the interests of bipartisanship, I concurred, but I could not agree to the October 2012 date that they suggested.

As I was already scheduled to address schoolchildren today, and as all schools who objected to the supposed politicization of such an event have already withdraw from the process and accepted the alternative Glenn Beck children’s show that Fox News has provided, I’ve decided to combine my two speeches.

Just posted a diary on DKos that you might enjoy regarding DH

I don’t come here often anymore, even knowing that it’s a good crowd, mostly because I have found I have a hell of a time monitoring more than one web site in real time.  But occasionally I post something at DKos that I think people here will enjoy.  This is one of those times.

Mastering the Incredible Adjustable Houle Hoop!


Most conservatives and some liberals — pay attention to those words “most” and “some,” because they will become important later on! — prefer to argue in generalities, both in terms of whom they attack and the grounds on which they attack them, because that makes it easier both to hurl charges and to defend oneself from countercharges later on.

If you’re reading this manual, it is probably because you have just been given a Houle Hoop — the device that makes this tactic easier!  You will learn below how to deploy your Houle Hoop so that it can be adjusted as often as needed to ensure that people will be dazzled by your ability to avoid contradiction for any claim you make!

“The barnacles of unionism wrapped around their necks”

“What I want to do is make sure we have jobs for these workers and we have first-class American automobile companies — and we’re not going to do it with the barnacles of unionism wrapped around their necks.”

                                         – Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), All Things Considered, Dec. 10, 2008

In case anyone has any question what the fight over the bailout (I reject any euphemisms for it) of the Big 3 American automobile companies is about, Sen. Jim DeMint has done us the favor of explaining it to us precisely.  It is not about supporting or refusing to support the Big 3;  DeMint’s solution, to send them into bankruptcy court, might well save the companies and their management.  This would release the companies from their existing obligations — including union contracts.

That’s all this is about now: union busting.  Which side are you on?

(LA-04) [big orange] political posers should feel pain and shame

(This is Cross-posted from Daily Kos; I thought some people here might be interested in it.  It’s got more than the Recommended Daily Allowance of meta.  I didn’t bother rewriting it here; I think y’all can figure out that I’m not talking about this site.  If that really bothers people, please let me know and I’ll keep it in mind when I think about cross-posting.)

Every once in a while in my more than three years here I have felt the need to compose a rant against my fellow members of this site that will pretty much ensure I don’t get invited to any good cocktail parties.  Never more so than tonight.

This, at its best — including leading up to last month — has been a site of political actors.  Leading up to tonight, it was a site of political observers.  A site not of people trying to change the system, but of posers who want to chatter on about change.

If Paul Carmouche loses in LA-04 — and I doubt that either provisional ballots nor a recount will reverse a 356-vote, .038% margin, unless it turns out that the last few come-from-behind votes were obtained by fraud — then it was entirely foreseeable and entirely preventable.

We simply had to choose to act.  We chose not to act.  We should be ashamed.

We seem to have forgotten what this site is about.

Pragmatism does not mean paralysis

(Cross posted from Daily Kos, published last Wednesday.  I made just a few modifications for this site and no doubt missed others.)

It has been a while since last I posted.  ek — the wily ek — convinced me to come here and post this.  I thought that it might be provocative despite being meant with affection, but he thought it would be worth your collective time.

It’s a good time to note, by the way, why I haven’t been here much.  It’s the same reason I’m not on Open Left, Boo Trib, and countless other progressive blogs: I have simply found that for whatever reason I operate best when I limit myself to one blog; it lets me keep up with the conversations I start.  If I switch around, I write diaries and comments that I won’t follow up on for hours, days, weeks, months….  It feels to me as if I’m being rude.  So, given my limitation, which I’m glad that others do not share, I contribute only on El Permsimmon Grande, although I’m always (well, almost always) happy to see my Docudharmatic friends there.

Best holiday wishes to you all and I hope that you are happy and hopeful — even if hesitant in ways — over the political transition now underway.  I’ll try to come around more and prove myself a liar in the preceding paragraph.  If I don’t, feel free to hound me; apparently it works.  (And also feel free to port anything I write to here.)

Two years ago on DKos, in the wake of the 2006 election, came a rumbling on the right column of the front page that led to a series of withering assaults on Markos and some of the contributing editors.  Two years ago tomorrow, in fact, saw publication of a great example that will give those who were not yet here a sense of the arguments then taking place on the site: “Calling Bullshit on America,” by OPOL.  He and I “shared words” in the comments section of that diary and many others; it’s funnier now that we are friends.  His diaries — while still pungent and potent — have ratcheted down a little and I have come to better appreciate his talents.

The fight back then was between Pragmatists and Purists.  I was one of the loudest Pragmatists commenting on the site.  I’m still a pragmatist.  And here, today, we hear shouting once again from the right side of the page towards many CEs and others who dare criticize Obama’s choices — and again I find myself disagreeing with my fellow diarists.

I disagree because I don’t think that their position is pragmatic at all.

An aesthetic question:

Which is the better take on McCain’s response to the “Viagra vs. Birth Control” question?



or this


or should people roll their own?


Thank you for responding to the poll, if you do.

I need your help — NOW — researching FISAAA (especially lawyers)

Hi guys, long time no see.  I’m glad the primaries are over and that my differences with many here over whether to be engaged in the fighting (my stance) or removed from it (my sense of most reactions here) are over.  Bygones, kumbaya.  I’m back because I need your help.

Over on DKos, mcjoan had a story this morning pointing out among other things that the FISAAA — that’s FISA Amendments Act, what we’re actually fighting right now — redefined WMDs to include explosive and incendiary devices capable of inflicting mass casualties like, oh, car bombs.  That’s right — any explosive device becomes a WMD.

I’ve done a bit of work on the interconnectedness of federal statutes.  Change the definition of WMD, and you change all sorts of things in other statutes that rely on the definition being changed.  This got my full attention.

Then I read the bill.  The text is here.

Now my hair is on fire.

A Katrina-level hurricane may ravage Indiana today

A Katrina-level hurricane may ravage Indiana today; we have to be ready to report on its path of destruction through the state.  We have to make the real imaginable to those who are not there, just as we did in 2005.  This hurricane will pound at the pillars of democracy, blowing countless voters out of their polling places — because they do not have the proper state-sanctioned photo identification.

Low-income voters, the elderly, and young students would be affected the most.  They are the ones who may not have needed to get proper identification in the past, or who may not have maintained it as current into the present.  The first two groups are those least able to take time away to work their way through the bureaucratic requirements needed for them to be able to exercise their most basic democratic right: an equal opportunity to vote on who will lead their nation.

A terrible lesson in voter suppression may be taught today.  We need to collect individual stories and make sure that people see it for what it is: the political equivalent of Katrina, in which the legitimate demand of the less privileged for protection is intentionally ignored, to widespread shock and outrage.

A reply to “It’s Called Democracy”

This started out as a comment replying to Turkana’s essay, now nestled at the top of the rec list.  It grew so large that I’ve converted it to an essay instead.

Here’s how it began, when addressed to Turk:

As an Obama partisan, though not a Kool-Aid drinker, I have to take issue with some of what you say.  I will present my thoughts in a numbered list, to ease your refutation of them.

Instead, below the jump, I now address it to all of you.

In a parallel universe, Hillary says Feingold can’t win

I have been searching for a way to convey to Clinton supporters how offensive her attempts to change the topic from the Tuzla Fables to the Wright sermons ever since the former undercut her campaign.  If fanning the flames of white racial resentment against Blacks is her only path to victory, she has no path to victory.  It has struck me the old consciousness-raising technique of recasting acts based on race, gender, sexuality or religion as if they reflected one of the other dimensions of difference, may shed some new light here.  Being a Jew who originally wanted Russ Feingold to run for President (despite some misgivings about his electability), it occurred to me that we can examine the legitimacy her actions are by imagining how they might translate to a situation where religion, not race, was the concern.

Join me, then, in the parallel universe where it is Russ Feingold rather than Barack Obama who won Iowa, drove John Edwards out of the race, and now had an insurmountable pledged delegate lead over Hillary Clinton.

In this universe, controversial sermons from Feingold’s rabbi have recently come to light.  How might the Clinton campaign respond?

If Obama were white, he would not be in this position

If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.

Geraldine Ferraro, Torrance Daily Breeze, March 7, 2008

It now appears that Geraldine Ferraro’s now-famous first sentence was at least partially right, albeit a week or so early.  If Obama were a white man, he would not be in the position he is today: not, as Ferraro would have it, a position in which he receives the uncritical positive regard of much of the population,  but one where he is being called to answer for the attitudes and actions of the entire Black community.  Her fourth sentence proved prophetic as well: the whole country has been caught up in the concept.

The question before us, and before the superdelegates, is whether the third sentence was also true: is he very lucky to be who he is?  Again, contrary to Ferraro, that does not mean lucky to be Black, but is he lucky enough — by virtue of both eloquent argument and personal example — to be able to defuse the effect of his being symbolically associated with those Blacks whom much of white America most hates and fears?


Petraeus Construction Co. soldiers on: a one-act play

You want fiction?  Here’s some to mark today’s 5th Anniversary of the Iraq War.

Scene 1

September, 2006:  Brothers George, John, and Ringo stand together in the front hallway on George’s house.  They have just answered the door, greeting Petraeus, President of a local construction company.  They exchange greetings and lead him to the kitchen table, where the conversation begins.

GEORGE:   We’re, uh, glad you could come to see us, Mr. Petraeus.  As I think my brother John told you when he called, it’s about the house we’re having built on the lot we inherited from our parents.

PETRAEUS: Yes, I’ve taken a look at the house and I’ve talked to the contractors, and the contractors before that, and the original contractors.

JOHN:     Well, as you should know then, you can see that the construction process has been a complete disaster.

GEORGE:   I wouldn’t say it’s been a disaster, exactly.


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