The Larger Picture Belies A Tremendous Loss

Here’s Sen. Chuck Schumer of my newly adopted state of New York, regarding these ongoing negotiations:

The [Paul] Ryan budget proposed a decimation of Medicare and Medicaid. We successfully fought that back. And we are going to continue our fight, and I think the base of our party knows this, that there should be no benefit cuts in Medicare or Medicaid. These are programs [where] certainly there can be savings brought from Medicare and Medicaid, because there is waste and duplication and inefficiency and all of that. But the benefits to people who really need it should not be cut. And that is a fight that we have been making quite successfully … and we are going to continue to make it in these negotiations.

Yeah, but you’re fighting them off on this issue right at the tower. You guys should not be near the need for boiling oil on issues like Medicare and Social Security. These were for eons considered as “third rail” issues in American politics. Just a few years ago, a President banked a lot of political capital on the issue of Social Security, and it cost him pretty dearly. These issues should not be within hundreds of miles of being touched. Yet you’ve got these jackals at the gates regarding them.

Just that you’re having to fight tooth and nail for Medicare and/or Social Security is a retreat.

I don’t know why I thought that Democrats would start putting up their dukes for a change. But they won’t; they just continue to cede mile after mile in this inexplicably one-sided land war. We’re here because conservagoats haven’t just worked to change policy; they’ve worked to alter the paradigm. Now, it’s all downhill to the castle gates, so here we are with the big cauldron of grease on the fire.

We should not be having to fight so hard right now to protect Medicare. We should be having to fight like hell to protect American jobs. But I think it’s pretty clear at this point that the Democrats will continue to cheer for small victories that are actually tremendous losses.

Go, Democrats!

Blow Up The Debt Ceiling

First thing Monday, President Barack Obama should hold a Rose Garden press event and announce that he and his legal advisers are swarming upon Washington DC immediately to start the machinations to invoke the 14th Amendment to blow up the debt ceiling of the United States of America.

And he should never look back, and he should tell anyone who squeals about it to go screw themselves. And if there are legal or political ramifications to this action, who cares. At least it keeps the country from going into default and has the added benefit of indicating to the nation’s userers that somebody is steering the boat.

Attention, Preznit Obama: If Jim DeMinty thought that health care was your Waterloo; I happen to think that this is your 9/11. It’s time to scramble the SORTIES, dude. It’s time to figure out if you’re gonna be Harry Truman or if you’re gonna be Warren G. Harding.

I don’t think at this point that Obama has any other choice. It’s time to go all presidential on this thing. It’s time to smash the debt ceiling.

I Call Gloom and Doom on this One!

It should have been obvious to President Obama weeks ago that the GOOP has no intention of cooperating in any manner to resolve the “crisis” of the debt ceiling. They created the crisis, after all, and what is the value of creating a crisis if you can’t wring it for all its drama. Scare hell out of everyone, wreck the economy and blame it on the President. That is the plan, and the GOOP is sticking to it. If they have demonstrated anything in recent months, it is that they stick to their plan.

Obama’s biggest mistake, of course, was not confronting the GOOP last fall on the subject of taxes for the rich. There lay a golden opportunity to make a political campaign on the choice between taxing the rich or gutting social security. The President, with the complicity of the fool Hairy Reed and dimwit Nancy Pilsudski, chose to give the GOOP what they wanted. (In case our one reader has forgotten, the Busch tax cuts were extended.) Then, being deprived of the best campaign weapon available, the Democrats got their asses kicked in the mid-term elections.

Today’s fight should have been predicted. We knew the debt ceiling had to be raised and we knew that Mitch McConnell is a power hungry maniac who has promised to make Obama a one-term president. Ipse Dixit Rexum Flaxit. Now the President has only one weapon at his disposal, and it is likely too late for it to be effective.

The 14th Amendment, which Brady has already cited here as the obvious solution, is the only stick Obama has left. The Constitution makes it pretty clear that the Congress cannot prevent the nation from paying its bills. The President could have avoided this fight and brought it the Constitution months ago.

Now he can only bring it to the battlefield late in the game when much damage has been done. Too much time has passed, and no one takes Obama seriously any more. This is not the President carrying a big stick. It is the little kid on the ball field chasing bullies with a twig.

I Double Dog Dare You

Tomorrow, my newly adopted home state of New York becomes one among a minority of states to prove itself as a more enlightened, more compassionate state then all the rest and the federal government. That would be the day that New York legally permits something often referred to as “gay marriage,” something I would rather refer to as “equal marriage rights for everybody.”

Except that it’s not.

Here’s an article in the July 22 USA Toady:

Same-sex couples who tie the knot in New York starting Sunday should visit a financial adviser for advice on money matters when they get back from their honeymoon.

And that advice holds true for any gay couple married under state law.

The reason: While gay couples who say “I do” in state-sanctioned marriage ceremonies are afforded the same rights as traditional husbands and wives in the state where they get hitched, it doesn’t mean these newlyweds are recognized as a “single economic unit” by Uncle Sam, says Jennifer Hatch, president of Christopher Street Financial, a New York City-based financial advisory firm that caters to the gay community.

In short, so long as the federal government continues to enforce the “”Defense” of “Marriage” “Act,”” a piece of law that is so hideous and horrible that when I refer to it I use as many sets of scare quotes as I can, the state laws allowing and recognizing the marriage rights of everyone still don’t prevent those couples from being treated as second class citizens.

We can applaud New York for its bold and correct manuever all we like, but as long as the federal government insists on discriminating against our queer brothers and sisters, it’s still just a big pile of santorum.

And here’s another point that I think must be mentioned when talking about “gay marriage” and the idea of somehow prohbiting it and defining “marriage” as being “between a man and a woman” (as DOMA specifically does): It isn’t actually possible.

Let’s say you’re a woman. You’ve been a woman all your life; you have a vagina and you have breasts and you wear your hair long and always have and you wear frilly clothes and hearing Tom Jones sing makes you a little damp. And you’re also an Olympic athlete. And the Olympic committee yahoos start doing genetic testing to make sure there aren’t any men folk trying to pass themselves off as women and such. And they come back to you and they tell you that you’ve FAILED THE GENETICS TEST; that, in the eyes of the Olympics, you are not a woman.

This has happened. And what it means is that in order to enforce something so insipid as the “marriage is between a man and a woman” horse shit, you have to start by defining what a man is and what a woman is. And, believe it or not, that seemingly simple mission is not necessarily as simple as it seems. You must run, do not walk, and read “Kudzu and the California Marriage Amendment” by Rick Moen, right this very minute. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

So you see, not only are such laws cruel, not only do they violate the Constitution by creating a secondary class of citizens, they are also god-damned impossible to enforce. In fact, as Mr. Moen argues, an argument can be made that there are cases where enforcing such laws can and may actually force the recognition of same-sex marriages. That irony is delicious like licking batter off the spoon.

But there is, for me, a more basic and more urgent reason that this federal government needs to get off its ass and recognize marriage rights for all. I embedded it before, but I shall embed it again, an interview by one Lawrence O’Donnell, during which the lady he’s interviewing says EXACTLY what I have always said regarding this issue: That prohibition of marriage rights for everyone does nothing more but to hurt children. Here, give it another watch:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And I’m not talking about hypothetical children. I’m not talking in nebulous terms about some concept, some what-if children that might just exist someday down the road. I’m talking about my cousin.

Yep, I’ve got a cousin who was conceived in the turkey-baster kind of way. One of my relatives provided the seed so that his lesbian friends could make a child. He’s a real kid, and he’s a really interesting kid at that. But I’m certain he pays a price because his mothers cannot be legally married. In fact, in the state where he lives, they are so into hating queers that they felt it necessary to prohibit marriage rights for everybody not just in law but in the state constitution as well. Stay classy, Virginia.

I am glad to now live in a state that has seen the light on this issue. It makes me swell up a little. Makes me proud. But it’s a tiny, tiny step. One day, these Untied States of America will have to come around. I lift my glass to the couples who will be able to achieve some kind of matrimony after this weekend. But take that advice. Go see an accountant after your FABULOUS honeymoon. Ya’ll might not be as protected as you’d like to be.

Also, I have a double dog dare for anyone who is opposed to the notion of marriage rights for everyone: You must sit down soon and watch a film called All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise. If you can get through this film and not admit that your perspective has been altered even just by a little bit, then I shall have to give up on you as a lost cause. But I believe in this film. I believe it can warm even the most fervent, most stubborn among you.

Here’s to “gay marriage” in New York. 44 states to go.

Amend This.

The Equal Rights Amendment was adopted by the House on October 12, 1971. It was adopted by the Senate on March 22, 1972. It was presented to the states with a seven-year deadline for ratification. The President of the United States at the time, one Richard M. Nixon, endorsed its approval. Required number of states for ratification: 38.

By 1978, 35 states had ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. Congress extended the deadline by 39 months.

By Oct. 4, 1982, despite hunger strikes and court challenges, the Supreme Court ruled that the ERA had failed.

Here is what the Equal Rights Amendment says.

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

That’s all it says. And yet, it took a decade to fail spectacularly.

I have just heard a Republigoat politician of some sort say that he believes they can get a balanced budget amendment passed this year.

When they say things like this, they are either lying to you, or they are stupid. I am glad that a balanced budget amendment in actuality would be nearly impossible to pass, because it is an incredibly stupid, horrible idea. The United States was founded in debt; one of the first things the new government did was to assume the war debts of the states so that it could establish credit. This action set this country on the path to be one of the most powerful financial forces in the world.

Talk of such an amendment is only meant to tickle the naughty bits of Fox “News” consumers. It is not serious discussion. It is simply foolish idiocy and a waste of lung capacity.

Stop buying this stupid crap.

Prayer for Tort Reformers

Back when I was in law school I had a torts professor who made a habit of searching out “good Samaritan” cases. Those were alleged law suits in which a physician, coming upon an automobile accident, saved a life only to be sued by the patient for malpractice. The professor never found an actual “good Samaritan” case. As he pointed out, it was a lie created by the insurance industry to discredit the torts bar. (AKA “Ambulance Chasers”).

The insurance industry’s long and successful history of lying for profit is well documented in Hot Coffee, a documentary running now on HBO. It is a must-see for anyone who ever wondered what this “tort reform” stuff is all about. Mostly, it’s about the trial lawyers being vilified, victims being left without a remedy, and corporations getting away with, at the very least, gross negligence.

In a nutshell, the widely circulated story about an old lady who got millions for having spilled coffee on herself is a lie. There is such an old lady. She was severely burned and nearly died. She only asked McDonalds to cover her substantial medical expenses and she never got close to millions in the end. And, in states where tort reform is depriving victims of any opportunity to recover their losses, the insurance companies have raised rates, not lowered them.

This all brings me to a prayer I wrote some years ago for people who support tort reform. It goes like this:

May you smash up your left leg in an automobile accident caused by defective brakes.
May your surgeon amputate your right leg by mistake.
May you live in a state with a cap on tort damages.

Jobs = Labor. Labor = Jobs.

I have just heard new congressional candidate Alan Grayson (yes, he’s running again, I shall have to see if I can get a few scheckels behind him, and I mean literally, where I work now they pay in scheckels) say something on the radio as a guest of Mr. Thom Hartmann, that we have been saying here on this Web space for quite a while. Why in bloody hell are we talking about the debt ceiling and stuff?

(A: Because the Republigoats want us to.)

Grayson’s point was, and I am paraphrasing, that all of this stuff is somewhat cerebral because, while we are up against a deadline about the “debt ceiling,” the little stupid stuff they’re sniping about is over a budget that takes effect in like 2021.

Meanwhile, remember them job numbers? Yeah, that shit is happening right now.

This conversation should be about jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. And you don’t get to talk about that if you aren’t talking about labor, labor, labor, labor, labor. They are one and the same. When you see stories about these governors attacking labor, you’re seeing stories about governors attacking jobs. Labor = jobs. Hell, labor == jobs*. Take away collective bargaining from employees, and you take away their power to preserve and create JOBS.

Sorry to be Maddow-redundant about this. I just don’t understand how you can expect a country that doesn’t respect and revere labor to produce jobs.

*In formal logic, this means it is “exactly equal to.”

Worlds of Fun

I have just read in my local newspaper a story that is appalling on so many levels I cannot begin to find the adjectives.

BUFFALO — Funeral services are scheduled for later this week for Army Sgt. James Hackemer, the amputee war veteran who fell to his death off a roller coaster at Darien Lake Theme Park & Resort.

Hackemer, who had lost both his legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2008, was ejected Friday from the Ride of Steel coaster at the park.

The 208-foot-tall ride remained closed for a third day Monday as investigators looked into the accident.

A) This gentleman had no legs and they allowed him access to this ride anyway. The news story I’m reading today in the Democrat and Chronicle actually says the following:

Rules on Darien Lake’s website say riders must be 54 inches or taller to board the Ride of Steel. They don’t specify whether riders must have both legs, as do rules for some other coasters in the park.

Here’s a clue: If you are a double amputee, chances are good that you are shorter than four-feet-six-inches tall. Unless of course you are Robert Wadlow.

The accident of course has some bleeding-heart congressman clamoring about regulation. What an opportunist.

Wait. You mean he’s been clamoring for legislation to do something about this since 1999?

A Massachusetts congressman, meanwhile, renewed his 12-year-old call for federal oversight at amusement parks, including enabling the Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate mishaps.

“While the cause of the accident that claimed the life of Sergeant Hackemer is still unknown, one thing is crystal-clear: Hypercoasters that hurtle riders at speeds exceeding 70 mph along 200-foot drops should not be exempt from federal safety oversight,” Edward Markey said in a statement.

His office Monday said the Democrat would soon re-introduce legislation he has proposed in every term since 1999, targeting what he calls a “dangerous loophole” that gives the CPSC oversight of traveling carnival rides but not those at permanent parks. Those are the responsibility of the states, which Markey said may lack the resources and experience to carry out effective checks.

So let’s get this straight. If you’re running a ride in a traveling carnival, you’re under the auspices of the Federal Government. If you’re Six Flags, then Bob McConnell is responsible for overseeing your coaster safety?

Do not. Ride coasters. In Virginia. I’m just saying.