Sunday, September 13, 2009


In the wake of Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst during Obama's address to Congress, there are calls for his censure, online petitions denouncing his actions, and probably much worse. (I liked this line from Tigerhawk:"What is it with guys named Joe Wilson? Do they all accuse presidents of lying?")

For some, Wilson's rudeness is THE sudden collapse of civility and manners. Our political discourse has now been plunged into some unprecedented sewer depths.


Look--Wilson's act was rude and certainly displayed a distinct lack of class. He apologized directly to the President, who accepted his apology without qualification. Apparently that's not enough for some. Wilson is a racist, they say. He proves Republicans are a**holes, they say. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer ( D-MD) said: “I have never in my 29 years heard an outburst of that nature with reference to a president of the United States speaking as a guest of the House and Senate.”

Really? Gonna have to get Hoyer some new Beltones. I found this over at a blog called Cranky Conservative. It's a youtube rundwon of various examples of "civility" that didn't seem to spark any outrage from the Left. Highlights from the list:

--Bush getting booed at the Obama inaugural
--Rep. Baron Hill from Indiana--"This is MY town hall meeting . . ." Yep--he's a Dem.
--Democrats booing--BOOING--Bush during the 2005 State of the Union address. Watch the clip--the noise is somewhat prolonged and widespread, in contrast to Wilson's rather limited outburst. Was Hoyer asleep or what?
--Gore's "How Dare They" speech to in 2004. ("How dare the incompetent and willful members of this Bush/Cheney Administration humiliate our nation and our people in the eyes of the world and in the conscience of our own people. How dare they subject us to such dishonor and disgrace. How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison.")
--Sen. Durbin comparing American soldiers to Nazis and to those who ran the Gulags.
--Sen. John Murtha saying that our troops killed "innocent civilians in cold blood."

And yet, the outrage, the spotlight is on Wilson for his rather rude remark. Don't get me wrong--Wilson was wrong in what he did. No matter what has passed for political discourse in the last 8 years should not give the Republicans a license to engage in the same tactics.

But if you are suddenly purple with indignation about the lack of civility, you are perhaps a little late to the game.

The headline for a recent article perhaps said it best:
Show me a country without lawyers, hobos, and fighting politicians and I'll show you a dictatorship.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Van Jones--gone but not forgotten

For those of you who have been reading the New York Times, or watching some of the network newscasts the last few days, you may not know who Van Jones is. Here's the tabulation of reporting as of September 4th, midday:
Total words about the Van Jones controversy in the New York Times: 0.
Total words about the Van Jones controversy in the Washington Post: 0.
Total words about the Van Jones controversy on NBC Nightly News: 0.
Total words about the Van Jones controversy on ABC World News: 0.
Total words about the Van Jones controversy on CBS Evening News: 0.

As one of Obama's czars, Jones was responsible for advising the president on how to increase the number of so-called "green" jobs in the workforce. His book The Green Collar Economy, received favorable reviews from Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, and Laurie David, among others. Sounds like the man for the job, eh?

Well-a few days ago he had to apologize for referring to Republicans as "assholes." Then, there was this quote from Mr. Jones:
"You've never seen a Columbine done by a black child. Never. They always say, 'We can't believe it happened here. We can't believe it's these suburban white kids.' It's only them. Now, a black kid might shoot another black kid. He's not going to shoot up the whole school."

Bizarre and misinformed at the same time. I'll skip over his radicalization that occurred after the L.A. riots ("I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th, and then the [Rodney King] verdicts came down on April 29th," he said. "By August, I was a communist.").

What SHOULD have clinched it for a lot of people is the fact that Jones signed a petition demanding an investigation into whether or not 9/11 was an inside job. That's right--Jones is a Truther. Now, you can believe whatever you want these days--but there's something truly disorienting about an Administration official wallowing in such muddy waters. And the Truthers seem to be well represented among the Democrats. Here's Mark Steyn's take:
Is Van Jones a real Truther or a faux Truther? The White House position is that he’s the latter - hey, he just glanced at [the petition], saw it was some routine impeach-Bush-for-killing-thousands-of-his-fellow-Americans thing, and signed it without reading it; we’ve all been there, right?
Van Jones Trutherism, like Van Jones Communism and Van Jones Eco-Racism Theory, is a kind of decadence: If you really believed 9/11 was an inside job, you’d be in fear of your life. Instead, for a cutting-edge poseur like Jones, it’s a marketing niche, one that gives you a certain cachet with the right kind of people - like, apparently, Barack Obama.

Well, now he's resigned. Gone. The victim, as he puts it, of a vicious disinformation campaign (wait--which part wasn't true?).

Except for the fact that his resignation is a "loss for the country," according to Howard Dean, former Democratic party chairman.

A loss for the country.

Dean's sentiments are being echoed in a Newsweek article entitled "Why Green Czar Van Jones Didn't Have To Resign" and by Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club whose piece is complete with lynch mobs, right-wing operatives, charges of racism and tortured explanations of what Jones was really trying to say.

A loss for the country. Or, as Pope would say, "we let our cause, our president, and Van Jones down."

I'm sorry, but I find this kind of thinking truly frightening.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Health care reform? How about some Legal Reform?

If you believe people have a "right to health care," don't you also believe in the fact that we are all supposed to be equal under the law? Are you concerned about justice for the rich versus justice for the poor? Millions face jail time and financial ruin because they are unable to afford legal representation. Many of those who hire an attorney to successfully defend them are bankrupted in the process of paying back the legal fees.
Maybe the time has come for Legal Reform as suggested here. You just gotta love this stuff. Highlights include:
• Contingency fees will be discouraged, and eventually outlawed, over a five-year period. This will put legal rewards back into the pockets of the deserving—the public and the aggrieved parties. Slick lawyers taking their "cut" smacks of a bookie operation. Attorneys will be permitted to keep up to 3% in contingency cases, the remainder going into a pool for poor people.
• Legal "DRGs." Each potential legal situation will be assigned a relative value, and charges limited to this amount. Program participation and acceptance of this amount is mandatory, regardless of the number of hours spent on the matter. Government schedules of flat fees for each service, analogous to medicine's Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs), will be issued. For example, any divorce will have a set fee of, say, $1,000, regardless of its simplicity or complexity. This will eliminate shady hourly billing. Niggling fees such as $2 per page photocopied or faxed would disappear. Who else nickels-and-dimes you while at the same time charging hundreds of dollars per hour? I'm surprised lawyers don't tack shipping and handling onto their bills.
• Discourage/eliminate specialization. Legal specialists with extra training and experience charge more money, contributing to increased costs of legal care, making it unaffordable for many. This reform will guarantee a selection of mediocre, unmotivated attorneys but should help slow rising legal costs. Big shot under indictment? Classified National Archives documents down your pants? Sitting president defending against impeachment? Have FBI agents found $90,000 in your freezer? Too bad. Under reform you too may have to go to the government legal shop for advice.
• Collect data about the supply of and demand for attorneys.Create a commission to study the diversity and geographic distribution of attorneys, with power to stipulate and enforce corrective actions to right imbalances. The more bureaucracy the better. One can never have too many eyes watching these sleazy sneaks.

It's a great read--too bad it will never come to fruition.
Please understand that I am not against health care reform. The system is strikingly flawed, both on the government-run side as well as the private sector. It needs a rather thorough cleansing. But hey--if we can do it to the doctors, why can't we do it to the lawyers? Or the plumbers? Or better yet--our elected representatives? Hell--they "do it" to us all the time . . .