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Why do they call these “Debates?”

I spend a lot of my time lately watching the House of Representatives on C-Span and the Senate on C-Span 2. In the last few weeks as the subject of the deficit and the National Debt dominate the programming when the two houses are in session (rarely on Mondays or Fridays while they are “traveling”).

So, on the three days a week that they are working, what do our “representatives” do?

Take away the committee hearings, many of which are not available to us, although C-Span works very hard to show as many as possible, and we are left with something they call “debates.” I don’t know about you, but I was in the Debating Club as a teenager and I have a pretty good idea of how a debate is structured. These alternating speeches by members of either house are really a series of statements conveying the points of view and policies that their parties have frozen into unchangeable position.

This is upsetting, because if one member comes up with a new idea, or an explanation of how history shows one action working and another failing… the great benefit of actual experience… the conclusion of the speech does not bring forth a discussion on those points from the opposition. Instead, we hear another speech ignoring the opposition’s points which, at its conclusion, faces the same ignorance by the other side.

So these alternating presentations do nothing to allow one side to convince the other of the value of a position. THEY ARE NOT LISTENING TO EACH OTHER! I have no idea why they go on with this farce… much less why they do it in front of us. the frustrated public that actually does listen, contacts their representatives’ offices, but rarely gets changes that they are looking for… often in large majorities of responders.

To top it off, the Congressmen and Senators of each side take their points of view, often very different, and constantly say “this is what the majority of Americans want.”

I’ll bet the majority of Americans would really like them to listen to each other and to the public and come up with real solutions to real problems.

I rest my case.

Quote du Jour – Debt Ceiling Filibuster

“We’ve had not one minute of debate about the debt ceiling in any committee. We haven’t had a budget in two years. We haven’t had an appropriations bill in two years. So I’m part of the freshmen group in the Senate that’s saying, ‘no more.'”

“Next week, we will filibuster until we talk about the debt ceiling, until we talk about proposals.”

– Rand Paul (R – KY)

So next week is going to have a new reason to watch C-Span 2. Can’t wait.

Rand Paul equates Universal Health Care with slavery…

The dingdong Senator who changed his first name to Rand in honor of Ayn Rand, often says stupid things. Yesterday he said one of the stupidest:

Another Republican Has Flipped!

With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to health care, you have realize what that implies. It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery.

I’m a physician in your community and you say you have a right to health care. You have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you? That’s ultimately what the right to free health care would be.

So, if under Universal health care he would get money from the government for practicing his job, then that is the equivalent of being enslaved – just like postal employees, garbage collectors, military officers and police.

From Salon:

Has Rand Paul read the Constitution? Serious question! Because it bans slavery, yet it also says people shall “enjoy the right” “to have the Assistance of Counsel” in criminal prosecutions! Does Rand Paul know that we have been enslaving lawyers for 200 years?

Here’s Rand Paul making his statement of stupidity:


Cartoon(s) of the Week – Mixed Week, couldn’t find it’s focus…

Whether we got caught up in Japan’s earthquake and sunami, or the ongoing activity in Wisconsin, or the emergent Republican Presidential candidates, or Qadaffi, or wondering what, if anything, Obama was doing, the week never did seem to get a strong focus in Editorial Cartoons. Here are some of the ones that stood out as I prowled around the net:

Kevin Siers in the Charlotte Observer:

Why does he continue to disappoint those who supported him? Like me.

– and –

Mike Luckovich in the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Is it true that the right believes this swill?

– and –

Chan Lowe in the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

…and then there was NJ Rep. Peter King who learned from Senator Joe McCarthy and dragged America back into the pits of incitement…

– and –

Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader:

…or Rand Paul who puts his concerns above those with real government problems…

– and –

Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

And yet many of us remain Middle Class Americans…don’t we?

CPAC meets this week… more television comedy

It’s the annual time of year when the far right gets together to plan their future and ours, funded by the Koch Brothers and other Conservative money guys. This year, however, things are a little shaky at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Because there is a gay conservative group among the sponsors the show this year, some really extreme groups have pulled out. And folks like Mike Huckabee have decided not to attend.

According to the CPAC website, confirmed speakers for this year’s event include Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), among other big conservative names.

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) was tapped to deliver the keynote address at the conference. Sarah Palin was offered the coveted speaking opportunity; however, declined to accept the invitation. There’s a Live Blog going on at Huffington Post if you want to follow the fun.

Morning…

Here I am in what must be the only near-progressive county in West Virginia. Oh, we voted for Governor Manchin to take the Senate seat (Manchin is many things, but Progressive is not one of them), and Delegate Doyle seems to have made it back. It looks like Democrat Paul Taylor and not Independent Dunleavy is the County Commissioner. (Update: newest results now in and Paul Taylor is not county commissioner, but Walt Pellish, the Republican, has taken a slight edge – BT) My town seems to have supported Virginia Graf for the house, but Shelly Moore Capito (R) was reelected by the rest of the constituency (which stretches irregularly accross the state).

As to the Federal elections and the state governor races. this was the Republicans‘ election. They swept the House, giving John Boehner a seat of power that I fully expect him to abuse. The cut down on the Democrat lead in the Senate, but at least Harry Reid got reelected in the face of a Tea Party Loony looking like she might take his seat. We’re still waiting to see if Patty Murray takes Washington state. That would help keep the Democratic Senate in a working majority situation.

The thing I am most thankful for is that Christine O’Donnell lost by a large margin in Delaware. While she may not be a witch, she is definitely not an intelligent politician and would have made our lives even harder to get through.

Now I want to see how the Republicans are going to both cut taxes and reduce expenditures at the same time. Whenever winning Reps like Rand Paul were asked how they would do it, they sort of smiled and gave us a “you’ll see.” Even Eric Cantor (R – VA), now in a new seat of power couldn’t come up with an answer to the how-will-they-do-it question. I expect a lot of head-on crashes between House and Senate, Congress and Obama, and the people against the government. It’s not going to be pretty.

My wife said this morning that it might be time to see if there is a way to move to Canada.

Kentucky Stomper wants an Apology from the Stompee…

As the world gets even more weird, we get a new point of view on honesty, truth and integrity. Like, it doesn’t exist. 

From Talking Points Memo:

clipped from tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com
Tim Profitt — the former Rand Paul volunteer who stomped on the head of a MoveOn activist — told told local CBS station WKYT that he wants an apology from the woman he stomped and that she started the whole thing.
“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Profitt said. “I would like for her to apologize to me to be honest with you.”
“She’s a professional at what she does,” Profitt added, “and I think when all the facts come out, I think people will see that she was the one that initiated the whole thing.”

Tim Profitt

Profitt also blamed the incident on his back pain. Footage shows that Profitt stomped down on Lauren Valle’s head, neck and shoulder while she was being restrained by another man with her shoulder on the street and her head on the curb.

After Profitt was identified as Paul’s Bourbon County coordinator, he was fired by the campaign. Police issued a criminal summons for him yesterday.

You know… it is amazing what some people will say or do for a brief moment of National fame.

blog it

Rand Paul has final debate with Conway in Kentucky…

Last night, in the final Rand Paul – Jack Conway debate for the Kentucky Senate seat, Paul decided to act like a real politician and ignore the actual questions that he didn’t want to answer, and changed the subject on some of the most important ones.

This from Salon:

Take, for instance, the subject of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past six months, you remember Paul’s notorious interview with Rachel Maddow back in May, when he objected to Title II of the act, which outlawed discrimination in restaurants, hotels, motels and other establishments that engage in interstate commerce. “Had I been around,” Paul told Maddow, “I would have tried to change that.” Only later, after a torrent of criticism rained down upon him, did Paul publicly state that he would have supported the entire ’64 Act.

When he was asked at Monday’s debate to calm any concerns voters might have on the issue, Paul played dumb. “I never said that I believed anything remotely regarding segregated lunch counters,” he said. “I never said I was for a repeal of the Civil Rights Act.” Then, without elaborating any further, he claimed that the entire controversy was manufactured by his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, who “doesn’t want to talk about a balanced budget and term limits and reading the bills.” Before you knew it, Paul was praising the Tea Party movement and bragging that he’d drawn 1,000 supporters at a recent rally in Paducah.

Steve Kornacki in Salon’s War Room

And outside of the debate, Paul’s supporters were acting like stormtroopers… which one woman from MoveOn.com (which is one of the most Ghandi-like non-violence movements I know) found out in a most unpleasant way:

I think what Harry Shearer said about Rand Paul is true:

The political spin on Paul is that he’s worrisome because he’s not within the standard lines of the modern political debate. I’d suggest he’s worrisome because he is.

– Harry Shearer

So now we have the rest of the week to watch this campaign where Paul is still favored in the polls (but Conway has been inching up). This will be quite an indication of the intelligence of the Nation.

What happens if the Republicans win on Tuesday.

While you are thinking about voting or not, here’s a fragment of an article in OpEdNews by Mary Shaw:

In coming full circle, we seem to have taken a huge step back. It’s no wonder that so many Democrats are feeling broken and bitter.

And it’s no wonder that so many Democrats are throwing up their hands and threatening to stay home on November 2. No wonder they don’t want to vote for the Democrats they feel have let them down.

But the stakes are too high to sit back and lick our wounds. The stakes are too high to refuse to fight the greater threat.

For example:

If the Republican wins the Senate race in Pennsylvania, we in the Keystone State will be represented by Pat Toomey, who is more extremely conservative than Rick Santorum, whom we voted out of office in 2006. According to the ToomeyWatch website, “Toomey’s lifetime score with the American Conservative Union is a stunning 97%, while Santorum’s lifetime score is only 88%.”

If the Republican wins the Senate race in California, they will be represented by Carly Fiorina who, as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, shipped thousands of jobs overseas while tripling her own salary.

If the Republican wins the Senate race in Alaska, we’ll have Joe Miller in Washington, who would vote to repeal the 2010 health care legislation; wants to phase out Social Security and Medicare; believes that evidence of global warming is “dubious at best“; and opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Also, Miller recently handcuffed a reporter who asked a question he didn’t want to answer.

If the Republicans win the Senate race in Kentucky, they will be represented by Rand Paul, of Aqua Buddha fame, who isn’t entirely comfortable with the Civil Rights Act.

If the Republican wins the Senate race in Delaware, Christine O’Donnell will be casting her spells from our nation’s capital.

If the Republican wins the Senate race in Nevada, it gets even more weird and worrisome. If Republicans win this election in Nevada, they will be represented by Sharron Angle, who likened Social Security to welfare, and who suggested “Second Amendment remedies” if the elections don’t turn out as the tea partiers would hope.

If the Republicans win enough of the less highly publicized House races throughout this nation, the Democrats could lose its majority on that side of Congress, likely rendering the House as incapable of productive work as the Senate has been in the past two years

Read the rest HERE.

The Big Three… and The Little One. TeaBaggers In Media.

The Top Three TeaBaggers (those who are getting the most press coverage… primarily because of their utter outrageousness as they campaign) are in the following three videos. If you are in their voting districts and this doesn’t make you realize what schmucks they are, then I have no more hope for intelligent politics.

Christine O’Donnell:

– and –

Sharron Angle:

– and –

Joe Miller’s Security Firm “Drop Zone”:

I could have put in a Rand Paul video, but I’ll give you a neat cartoon by Joel Pett instead:

This isn’t an election as much as it is a draining of intelligence from the population.

I’m losing my energy for the blog… not sure how long it will stay up…

Yesterday I had the lowest number of visitors (and by that I mean serious visitors, not quick check-ins pushed by Alphainventions, Blogitti, Blogiche or Blogsurfer) to Under The LobsterScope that I have had in the last couple of years. The number of SPAM postings that I have to look at and make a decision over has increased markedly as well. I’ll admit that yesterday I was gone most of the day getting my new old car in Silver Spring, but it is usually the evening that gives me my biggest amount of real participation.

I am now midway through my 64th year and rapidly heading to 65… tired, retired and mired in medication for diabetes, ADD, Depression and a new set of indications which they are testing for. I have the Radio Show to prepare for each week and the housework I’m now committed to as my wife is the full-time employed person. And I’m so low on physical energy that working myself up over the incessant trash dumped everywhere by the extreme right wing is becoming exercise I no longer wish to partake in. Plus, with the advances from Sustainable Shepherdstown working locally, the idea of creating a life that would mean survival if the Conservatives finally destroy our economy and and social structure now takes up a major portion of time and will only grow in the future.

I am quite depressed about the current election season, as I think, no matter what we reveal as the honest truth, America is getting ready to pull off a suicide vote this year and just the thought of John Boehner undermining health care as Speaker of the House and Rand Paul eliminating public schools for our growing population of poor children and  Mitch McConnell gleefully putting party ahead of country for the next four years until he is up for election again (not that I think Kentucky will ever wise up) makes me shiver. Politics has become a lost cause, and since this blog is about 75% politics, it is not effective enough to maintain.

I’ll be deciding what to do in the next day or so (my wife and I are celebrating 32 years of marriage this weekend and I’d rather think of her than saving the country today and tomorrow) and will probably come out on Monday with a final statement on what will happen with UTL. Meanwhile, let me know what you think… if you are out there.

-BT

PostScript:

One solution I have is to do a much smaller blog with an Arts/Theatre focus… that ties into the things that I enjoy most in life and that are worth pursuing.

For our Friends in Kentucky…

I received this in the email:

Bill,

My adult son Michael committed suicide in July, after three years fighting an addiction to prescription painkillers. This is a painful story, a personal story. It’s not easy for me to share.

But I decided to share my story for Jack Conway, because I want to prevent another family from having to suffer what my family went through.

In response, Mr. Paul directly insulted me, calling my story “creepy.”

My son’s life was not “creepy.” And my baby grandson sure isn’t “creepy.” Both are blessings, as his second child due in February will be also.

When Rand Paul attacks people who are suffering instead of offering solutions, it shows he doesn’t understand Kentucky.

And that’s why I’m asking you to help me defeat Rand Paul and elect Jack Conway — someone who has tackled drug abuse as Kentucky’s Attorney General and actually understands Kentucky families.

Watch the video I did for Jack Conway today, and share it with your friends:

Sometimes I hear people say Rand Paul just has a few wacky ideas, and he won’t really hurt anyone. Well, it hurts my family — and thousands of other families in Kentucky — when Rand Paul just dismisses life-or-death issues in our state.

It’s a shame Rand Paul reacted that way, but this issue is bigger than he is. Kentuckians deserve someone in the United States Senate who understands them and who will fight for them. I know Jack Conway is that person.

That’s why I’m asking for your help to beat Rand Paul and elect Jack Conway — start by watching the video of my story and sharing it with those you know.

Thank you for hearing me out, and thank you for supporting Jack Conway.

Sincerely,

Mike Donta
Ashland, KY

We’ve been hearing lots of things about Rand Paul’s attitude toward his potential citizenry if he is elected… and it is not pretty. Kentucky has a bad habit of inflicting unusually negative Senators and Representatives on the rest of us (Mitch McConnell and his public revelation that they will only vote NO to any Democratic proposed legislation). Mike Donta’s story is one of many.

Matt Taibbi on the Tea Party Movement…

The current issue of Rolling Stone has an investigative article by Matt Taibbi entitled: Tea and Crackers: How corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster. Allow me to say that it is both amazing and revealing. Here is a brief section… please, please, please go in and read the whole thing… you will not regret it:

By  Matt Taibbi
Sep 28, 2010 7:01 AM EDT

This is an article from the October 15, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone.

It’s taken three trips to Kentucky, but I’m finally getting my Tea Party epiphany exactly where you’d expect: at a Sarah Palin rally. The red-hot mama of American exceptionalism has flown in to speak at something called the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, a gospel-music hoedown in a giant convention center filled with thousands of elderly white Southerners. Palin — who earlier this morning held a closed-door fundraiser for Rand Paul, the Tea Party champion running for the U.S. Senate — is railing against a GOP establishment that has just seen Tea Partiers oust entrenched Republican hacks in Delaware and New York. The dingbat revolution, it seems, is nigh.

“We’re shaking up the good ol’ boys,” Palin chortles, to the best applause her aging crowd can muster. She then issues an oft-repeated warning (her speeches are usually a tired succession of half-coherent one-liners dumped on ravenous audiences like chum to sharks) to Republican insiders who underestimated the power of the Tea Party Death Star. “Buck up,” she says, “or stay in the truck.”

Stay in what truck? I wonder. What the hell does that even mean?

Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn’t a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — “Government’s not the solution! Government’s the problem!” — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains.

“The scooters are because of Medicare,” he whispers helpfully. “They have these commercials down here: ‘You won’t even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!’ Practically everyone in Kentucky has one.”A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can’t imagine it.

After Palin wraps up, I race to the parking lot in search of departing Medicare-motor-scooter conservatives. I come upon an elderly couple, Janice and David Wheelock, who are fairly itching to share their views.

“I’m anti-spending and anti-government,” crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. “The welfare state is out of control.”

“OK,” I say. “And what do you do for a living?”

“Me?” he says proudly. “Oh, I’m a property appraiser. Have been my whole life.”

I frown. “Are either of you on Medicare?”

Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!

“Let me get this straight,” I say to David. “You’ve been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?”

“Well,” he says, “there’s a lot of people on welfare who don’t deserve it. Too many people are living off the government.”

I’d love to go on here, but I owe it to Rolling Stone to have you go THERE.

A Quote for The Day … on Rand Paul

… and his canceling out on Meet The Press:

“My feeling is that if a politician can’t handle an interview, they can’t handle the Senate.”

– Joe Scarborough

Gee, and from a conservative Republican!

From Talking Points Memo: Paul Backs Out Of Meet The Press Appearance

clipped from tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com

At the end of a rocky week, newly chosen Senate nominee Rand Paul (R-KY) has canceled a planned interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” citing exhaustion. It’s only the third cancellation from a major guest in 62 years, the show’s Executive Producer Betsy Fischer said in an interview this afternoon.

“It is a big deal when somebody cancels an appearance,” she said.

Fischer and host David Gregory have been attempting to convince Paul’s press secretary and campaign manager since the Paul camp scrapped the interview this afternoon. They first arranged the Sunday show interview on Wednesday after he won the party nomination Tuesday night. Fischer said Paul’s press secretary said he was exhausted.

Of course, Paul’s troubles started Wednesday night when he debated the Civil Rights Act with Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show. He’s done rounds of interviews since then, and his team said that he’d done a “Good Morning America” appearance on ABC today.
  blog it
Oddly enough, given the racial nature of Paul’s earlier comment on Maddow’s show, the only two other major invitees to cancel on Meet The Press were Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in 1996 and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar on May 18, 2003.

Another Quote Promoting Private Racism…

You thought Rand Paul was the only one going public with this (although in the last two days, Paul has tried to weasel his way out of the remarks), but it turns out that he is supported by one of the great jerks of broadcasting, John Stossel:

“Private businesses ought to get to discriminate. And I won’t won’t ever go to a place that’s racist and I will tell everybody else not to and I’ll speak against them. But it should be their right to be racist.”

Here’s his whole statement (along with the rest of his Fox News pals):

And the Lester Maddox Award for Lunch Counter Maintenance goes to…

…Rand Paul, winner of the Kentucky Republican Senate Primary.

In an interview last night, Paul told Maddow that he agrees with most parts of the Civil Rights Act, except for one (Title II), that made it a crime for private businesses to discriminate against customers on the basis of race. Paul explained that had he been in office during debate of bill, he would have tried to change the legislation. He said that it stifled first amendment rights.

Rachel pushed for specifics:

Maddow:… How about desegregating lunch counters?

Paul: Well what it gets into then is if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says ‘well no, we don’t want to have guns in here’ the bar says ‘we don’t want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each-other.’ Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant? These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion…

Maddow: Well, it was pretty practical to the people who had the life nearly beaten out of them trying to desegregate Walgreen’s lunch counters despite these esoteric debates about what it means about ownership. This is not a hypothetical Dr. Paul.

Oh Boy… this is going to make Kentucky a real fight. Paul faces Democratic Senate candidate and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway in the general election to replace Republican Sen. Jim Bunning on November 2, 2010…

Here’s a big chunk of the Maddow show if you think you haven’t heard enough: