Christopher Hitchens Doesn't Get It

What a weird, weird column by Christopher Hitchens in the most recent The Atlantic .

Hitchens oddly decries the sad state of satire in these Untied States of America, blaming Jon Stewart and Sen. Al Franken from like six years ago. He spends half the column explicating Franken’s old books and the other half wondering why in hell everyone thinks Jon Stewart is so funny.

Just to save you the trip, the last sentence in Hitchens’ totally weird, weird column is: “A liberal joke, at present, is no laughing matter.”

This is why, I suppose, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has been on the air since January 1999, while the 1/2 Hour Comedy Hour lasted from February to September, 2007.

Chris. It’s time to have the limb surgically removed from your arse.

They Eat Horses Don't They?

The Bureau of Land Management has announced that it will try to adopt out 1,000 wild mustangs this year. The horses breed like rabbits up in the national parks and are a nuisance, so we want to adopt them out to little girls who always wanted ponies. Here is why this is a really bad idea. Another tale of government policy gone mad.

If left to its own devices the horse industry in the USA would grow and prosper. Horse racing is a glamorous sport that offers big money to the winners. There are frequent tales of the little guy who beat the odds to win fame and fortune. The way Michael Jordan drove a generation of young dreamers to the basketball court, Mine That Bird drives horse lovers to breeding more and more horses.

On top of the dreams of fame and fortune, the government encourages horse breeding by providing substantial tax breaks to horse farms. Every cent they spend is tax deductible, so it pays people who are rich to have horse farms. There are thousands of them around the country. These two facts, the potential for fame and fortune AND substantial tax breaks have combined to make a substantial surplus of horses in the USA. And, in addition to the substantial growth of thoroughbred horse populations, other breeds for other purposes are also gaining popularity. (They get tax breaks, too.)

Used to be a substantial amount of this horse surplus was butchered and exported to France where they eat horses. Used to be that horses that were unsuccessful at the race track (and think about it… there are a lot of failures at the race track) were sold to slaughter houses. But horse do-gooders in recent years have actually managed to close down the last of the horse processing plants in the USA, and horse slaughter is illegal in many states. So where do these horses go?

You should keep in mind that horses are not naturally nice, playful, friendly critters. A thoroughbred trained for the track is unruly, onery and dangerous. Left to his own devices… like mustangs growing up wild in national parks… a horse would sooner run down a little girl as let her up on his back. He also weighs in at nearly a ton and can outrun you.

You can buy one off the track for $300 but not every little girl can ride him/her. It takes a lot of training, and substantial knowledge to train a horse for any use. At a substantial cost, Thoroughbreds can be trained for trail and hobby riding and probably are the cheapest horses you can buy, but other horses are better suited for hobby riding, and many are bred for that purpose. Check out horse breeders on the Gogle and you will see they have a lot of competition from Kentucky Walkers, Paints, Palaminos, Percherons and many others.

And did I say it costs MONEY to keep a horse? Figure $500/month if you keep it yourself, more if you don’t. (I speak from personal experience here.) And that’s all well and good in good times, but what happens in bad times? When the drought raged throughout the southeast recently, hay was selling for $15 a bale and people were giving away horses that might otherwise have been valued at $20,000. Google on “starving horses” sometime. The humane societies across the country are full up with horses. In parts of the rural Midwest horses are being abandoned on country roads.

So you want to auction off 1,000 wholly untrained wild horses? I am not saying you will not be able to sell them. People with money will buy them for the thrill of saying they have a genuine wild mustang, and these people may have the money to train and keep them. After all there is a big tax deduction for breeding horses. I’m just saying….

My Sentiments Exactly

I hope @jaketapper won’t mind if I completely steal this bit of reporting from him:

President Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner last night, discussing false claims made about the health care reform bill, told a little anecdote.

“I was up at the G20—just a little aside—I was up at the G20, and some of you saw those big flags and all the world leaders come in and Michelle and I are shaking hands with them,” the president said. “One of the leaders—I won’t mention who it was—he comes up to me. We take the picture, we go behind.

“He says, ‘Barack, explain to me this health care debate.’

“He says, ‘We don’t understand it. You’re trying to make sure everybody has health care and they’re putting a Hitler mustache on you—I don’t—that doesn’t make sense to me. Explain that to me.'”

Asked who this was, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs would say only “a world leader.”

Health Care Reform I & II

Those who hand-wring or those who pounce over President Obama and the Democrats’ seeming fecklessness over the issue of health care reform, be prepared to pat the aforementioned political entities on the back. They already have achieved some level of health care reform. And I bet you didn’t even notice.

In June, President Obama signed legislation placing tobacco under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration. Just this past week, FDA began its regimine, extending a ban on flavored cigarettes. The FDA now has the power to control the amount of addictive nicotine is in a tobacco product and how it may be packaged and marketed.

This is sweeping power for the federal government over an $89 billion industry, and that it’s been granted is no easy feat, one that took longer than a decade to accomplish.

From tobaccofreekids.org:

Tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans and costs the nation $96 billion in health care bills each year. Every day, another 1,200 lives are lost and more than 1,000 kids become new regular smokers.

Yet, until now, tobacco products have escaped the FDA’s common-sense regulations that apply to other consumer products, such as food, drugs and even lipstick. The new law will:

  • Crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids.
  • Ban candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes.
  • Require larger, more effective health warnings on tobacco products.
  • Require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of tobacco products, as well as changes in products and research about their health effects.
  • Ban terms such as “light” and “low-tar” that mislead consumers into believing that certain cigarettes are safer.
  • Strictly regulate all health-related claims about tobacco products to ensure they are scientifically proven and do not discourage current tobacco users from quitting or encourage new users to start.
  • Empower the FDA authority to require changes in tobacco products, such as the removal or reduction of harmful ingredients.

I don’t know about you. But that sounds like health care reform to me. So stop your hand-wringing and your pouncing. We’ve brought what we promised, already: Change you can believe in.

Speaking of the ongoing effort to bring sense and rationality to the method we use in these Untied States of America to dispense health care: Here’s something for the nonbelievers to consider.

A few tidbits from Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone (emphasis mine):

For the archenemies of Obamacare, however, [Frank] Luntz’s anti-Washington script didn’t go nearly far enough. To amp up the panic, they decided to spin the “takeover” fear to its most extreme conclusion: Washington bureaucrats plan to institute “death panels” that would deny life-sustaining care to the elderly. That portion of the script was drafted by Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York, who insists that her expertise as a constitutional historian enables her to decipher the 1,017 pages of legalese that comprise the House health care bill.

McCaughey first unveiled her “findings” on July 16th, during an appearance on the radio show of former GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson. “I have just finished reading the House bill,” McCaughey declared. “I hope that people listening will protect their parents from what’s intended under this bill.” Citing page 425 of HR 3200 — a section that outlines the same kind of optional, end-of-life counseling that Republicans have voted for in the past — McCaughey uncorked a terrifying lie. “Congress,” she said, “would make it mandatory — absolutely require that every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner.” The Obama plan, she added, is financed by “shortening your mother or father’s life.”

McCaughey has run this con before. During the debate over Clinton’s health care overhaul in the early 1990s, McCaughey — then an academic at the right-wing Manhattan Institute — wrote an article for The New Republic called “No Exit,” in which she claimed that Hillarycare would prevent even wealthy Americans from “going outside the system to purchase basic health coverage you think is better.” Even though the bill plainly stated that “nothing in this Act” would prohibit consumers from purchasing additional care, McCaughey’s claim was echoed endlessly in the press, with each repetition pounding a stake further into the heart of the reform effort.

McCaughey’s lies were later debunked in a 1995 post-mortem in The Atlantic, and The New Republic recanted the piece in 2006. But what has not been reported until now is that McCaughey’s writing was influenced by Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco company, as part of a secret campaign to scuttle Clinton’s health care reform. (The measure would have been funded by a huge increase in tobacco taxes.) In an internal company memo from March 1994, the tobacco giant detailed its strategy to derail Hillarycare through an alliance with conservative think tanks, front groups and media outlets. Integral to the company’s strategy, the memo observed, was an effort to “work on the development of favorable pieces” with “friendly contacts in the media.” The memo, prepared by a Philip Morris executive, mentions only one author by name:

“Worked off-the-record with Manhattan and writer Betsy McCaughey as part of the input to the three-part exposé in The New Republic on what the Clinton plan means to you. The first part detailed specifics of the plan.”

Then, there’s this:

The fourth group behind the town-hall protests, Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, has direct connections to the health care industry. Its founder, Rick Scott, is the former CEO of Columbia/HCA, the world’s largest hospital conglomerate. Scott was ousted from the company after it was caught overbilling taxpayers for Medicare treatment; it eventually pleaded guilty to criminal fraud and paid a record $1.7 billion in penalties. Scott now runs a chain of urgent-care clinics that serve uninsured Americans fearful of being bankrupted by hospital emergency-room visits. “He is one of those people who’s gotten very, very, very rich off of sick people,” says Potter, the former CIGNA executive. “He doesn’t want that cash cow to go away — so that’s why you’re seeing all his money there.”

Consider this, nonbelievers: Two of the opposition’s fiercest soldiers include a proven liar and a fraudulent scumbag.

Doesn’t that taint the opposition effort’s credibility? If it was a proven liar’s assertion that had people yelling about “death panels” all the long hot stupid August, what else might they be lying to you about? If the opposition hires someone who’s defrauded the federal government, do you think he has any scruples about mischaracterizing this reform effort?

Think!

Nope.

A friend from the hometown of my adolescence posted this on the Facebook. It’s so weird. We grew up in the same community, had the same teachers and pretty much studied the same subjects. But we have clearly reached far different conclusions.

Like today. There’s President Obama, handling an actual issue of WMD in an appropriate manner—condemning Iran’s admission that it is secretly conducting nuclear development in front of the entire international community with two allies standing solidly by your side—contrasted to the assclown pictured above, who fabricated charges of WMD and responded to it by illegally invading a sovereign nation that was in fact not a threat to these Untied States of America—one that, in fact, was the sole secular country in the region and therefore perhaps more useful as an ally then the Islamic, democratic, federal parliamentary republic we’ve ended up with.

Nope. Not missing Boosh a bit.

Anarchy in the USA

I heard an ABC Radio news reader this morning refer specifically to the “anti-capitalist” protesters in sunny Pittsburgh as “anarchists.”

If our media is so liberal, then how come these a-holes were never referred to as “anarchists?”

Update: Well. Here’s some scary film from Pittsburgh. Some guys in fatigues drive up, shove some kid into the back of the car, and take off. I have no idea what this is all about. But it’s not pretty.

Fact Based Economic Discussion

No debate about the budget deficit should be had without considering what Austan Goolsbee had to say in today’s Washington Post:

I think there’s some conventional wisdom forming among opponents of the administration that the deficit is getting bigger primarily because Obama is spending like crazy, and it’s totally wrong.

If you look at the 10-year budget, the reason that 10-year deficit is getting bigger, it’s first and foremost because the economy has gotten substantially worse, and as the current economy gets worse, it makes the 10-year deficit numbers significantly worse also. And that’s by far the biggest thing driving it.

The second is the President consciously came in and said, “We’re going to stop engaging in a series of budget gimmicks that are used to artificially make the 10-year deficit look smaller,” so things like, they put in zero dollars for natural disaster cost each year, even though there’s a hurricane season. So you would think that this is a somewhat regular expense.

Each year, they say, “Oh, my goodness. How could we have predicted there would be a hurricane hitting South Carolina this year?” And so the president said, “Look, let’s take the average cost for natural disasters. Let’s put it in the budget every year. Let’s stop saying the tax credit is only temporary. Let’s make it permanent because they renew it every year. Let’s stop saying we’re going to go cut all doctors’ salary by 20 percent at the end of the year and then, at the end of the year, saying actually we’re not going to do it this year, but we promised to do it all future years,” thereby keeping the long-run deficit smaller.

None of those are spending. The president is not spending anything that people were not spending before for all of those budget gimmicks. He is instead saying, “Let’s be honest about what the situation we’re in,” and so I would just encourage that people who are agitated about the spending to do two things.

The first is go look at the 10-year budget and ask how much of the increase in the 10-year deficit is actually due to new programs versus just being honest and just the state of the economy, and the second is, for this year and next year, while we’re in stimulus and Recovery Act land, in the face of the stiffest recession since 1929, that is not when you try to tighten the belt. It is extremely dangerous to do that. That is exactly what Herbert Hoover did that got us into the Depression.”

Look Out Blue Dog. Yellow Dog Will Bite Your Ass

Rep. Mike Ross, D-AR, says the news outlet that discovered his $1 million plus payoff for a $225,000 drugstore is a leftist news organization.

That does not, of course, change the fact that Ross, a leader of the Blue Dog Democrats, is caught with his hand in the till. According to his own financial reports filed with Congress, Ross sold the building for $420 K even though the most generous appraisals put its value at $225,000. (The county assessor says you could buy the whole town for $420K.) In addition, Ross sold the business for in excess of $1 million, and his wife got an agreement not to compete for another $100K or so AND a job at the pharmacy she is not competing with. Did I say the buyer is a major drug store chain?

Did I mention that Ross’ campaign has netted in excess of $300 K in contributions from the health care industry? Said contributions may go further to explain why Ross has become a stumbling block to reform even though 77 percent of the Democrats in his district favor reform with a public option.

Does the fact that Politico is “left leaning” mean the facts are wrong? Not unless Ross is lying on his disclosures. Was the interest of the “left leaning” Politico.com peaked by the fact that Ross is a major shill for the health care industry a stumbling block to reform? Definitely. No right thinking liberal would want to look under the petticoats of a fellow traveler…Let the GOOP do its own homework. But a GOOP in Dems clothing? You bet.

Is Ross going down in Flames? Most likely. In the few minutes I have been writing this article, the Arkansas Leader has published an editorial against him and CREW has asked for a Justice Department investigation. This is a fact based world, as anyone at ACORN can tell you, and real facts, once set loose, can bite you in the ass.