As detailed in my last post, the House voted yesterday to pass the Satan Sandwich (aka the debt ceiling bill). We already knew the Tea Partiers were ignorant fools. Now they’re also proven hypocrites, as 59 GOP freshmen voted for the bill (2/3 of the rookie class) with only 28 voting against.
Based on Michele Bachmann’s official list of members of her Tea Party Caucus, 32 of them declared their hypocrisy and voted for the deal! (Should you care to see the list, scroll down to the bottom of the post.)
I must point out that my sorry excuse for a representative – the alleged Tea Party darling – Allen West voted FOR it. I hope his minions ride him out of town on a rail.
Today, the Senate votes. But all accounts say this ransom will be easily paid by at least 60 members. Manufactured crisis averted, but at what cost?
Arthur Delaney of Huffington Post points out that the unemployed were ignored in this deal. The cynic in me asks “what else is new?” But the compassionate human being that I am is truly disgusted. Perhaps if all of the long-term unemployed in this country decided to pitch tents and start an Obamaville in Washington DC they might take notice that these people are not invisible!
While I have Arthur on the line talking about that, we’ll also discuss another story he’s been covering: that of the Pre-Existing Insurance Plan, in which he asks if you’d go without insurance for six months to qualify for affordable coverage? Talk about a big gamble – on your life!
I’m trying to find the good in this
Satan Sandwich debt ceiling bill. I listened to my dear friend Randi Rhodes who thinks President Obama won this fight, but she still didn’t convince me. The best I could come up with were some journalists whom I respect pointing out that it’s not as bad as it could have been.
Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly did a bit of a round-up of the not-so-bad points in “The Contrarian Defense“. He’ll join me this morning as well to go over the good, the bad and the ugly in this bill.
Quick ones: PhotOh! Your “librul media” at work
There are a couple of other things I have to mention — Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords return to the floor of the House to cast her vote was truly a wonderful moment!
And if you only watch one video today, you should make it Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment from last night:
**Now for that list of Teabaggers who voted FOR the debt ceiling bill:
Sandy Adams (FL-24)
Robert Aderholt (AL-04)
Rodney Alexander (LA-05)
Roscoe Bartlett (MD-06)
Joe Barton (TX-06)
Gus Bilirakis (FL-09)
Diane Black (TN-06)
Michael Burgess (TX-26)
John Carter (TX-31)
Bill Cassidy (LA-06)
Howard Coble (NC-06)
Mike Coffman (CO-06)
Ander Crenshaw (FL-04)
John Culberson (TX-07)
Blake Farenthold (TX-27)
Stephen Lee Fincher (TN-08)
Wally Herger (CA-02)
Lynn Jenkins (KS-02)
Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-09)
Kenny Marchant (TX-24)
David McKinley (WV-01)
Gary Miller (CA-42)
Rich Nugent (FL-05)
Steven Palazzo (MS-04)
Mike Pence (IN-06)
Tom Price (GA-06)
David Roe (TN-01)
Edward Royce (CA-40)
Pete Sessions (TX-32)
Lamar Smith (TX-21)
Tim Walberg (MI-07)
Allen West (FL-22)
Go get ‘em!
Paul Simon’s American Tune aptly sums up my feelings this morning…
And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
or driven to its knees
But it’s all right, it’s all right
We’ve lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
we’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what went wrong
We’ve been seriously misused. We elected a president who we thought would at least stand up for the bedrock of Democratic values, our social safety net. Instead we got someone who is, at best, a corporatist and lousy negotiator and, at worst, a Republican in disguise.
It’s now up to the the Congressional Democratic Caucus to stand up for those of us who cannot afford lobbyists — or just about anything else these days.
Congressman Raul Grijalva, co-chair of said CPC, posted this petition last night, ready for your signature:
I will not support the debt deal
Stand with Raúl and America’s working families and show your opposition to the debt deal by signing the petition below.
I oppose any debt deal that trades Americans’ livelihoods to appease the most radical wing of the GOP.
I stand firmly behind successful government programs that guarantee the health and economic well being of the American people.
We must ensure that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are off the chopping block as we work to balance our budget.
I will not stand by idly as millions of working Americans lose out as the GOP gives yet another handout to the wealthy and big corporations.
Nancy Pelosi said last night that she could not commit to this deal; she’d first have to meet with her caucus. Meetings are going on this morning. Now is the time to reach out and tell your representatives to do the right thing by the American people.
We’ll obviously deal with this issue on the show this morning. I’ll be joined by Congressman Raul Grijalva, pundit/author/consultant Cliff Schecter, and The Nation’s Ari Berman on his latest piece, “The Rise of the Austerity Hawk Democrats” and how it fits in with this whole mess.
Today’s essential reading courtesy of Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman at the NY Times: The President Surrenders.
***Update*** Links for The White House Fact Sheet on the “Bipartisan Debt Deal” and from Time‘s Swampland blog, “Five Things for Liberals to Like in the Debt Ceiling Deal“.
Of course, they’ve already gotten a workout, as you’ve no doubt been calling your House member and two senators, plus the White House, Speaker’s office and Harry Reid’s office too… But tonight’s call should be a bit more fun.
You might remember the story about my congressman. I’m supposedly represented by Allen West – the Iraqi police officer abuser, misogynistic teabagger who stood by approvingly as I was removed from an event billed as a “town hall meeting” and arrested for daring to challenge him with a QUESTION about his stance on privatizing medicare.
Well, Congressman West – stuck in DC due to the default crisis manufactured by his party – will tonight hold his second “Tele-TownHall”. The good news is that they can’t arrest you over the phone, and you actually get to ask your question! But be forewarned: as I learned during the first such event, say everything you want to say while you have the chance because, if you challenge him, they’ll mute your call as soon as you pause for his answer.
But you can get through. Just call early, and have an “acceptable” question ready to tell the screener.
I’m not the only one encouraging you to call this sorry excuse for a representative. Americans United for Change sent out this email last night:
Rep. Allen West has some explaining to do … about, for one thing, the vote to destroy Medicare and Medicaid while refusing to raise taxes on millionaires or have hedge fund managers’ taxes rates at least equal to the rates of those who clean their offices!
You can make him do it. Rep. West is holding a “Teletown Hall” over the phone on Wednesday, July 27th at 7:00 pm. You can participate by calling 877-229-8493 and dialing in the passcode 17808#.
It’s so important that we all pitch in and participate. When they vote for policies that throw us under the bus, we need to stand up. We need to hold them accountable.
Here’s a few questions you deserve to have answered:
Why did you vote to destroy Medicare and replace it with a voucher to buy private insurance that will raise the cost of health care for seniors by more than $6,000 in the first year alone?
Why did you vote to gut elementary schools, Head Start, Pell Grants and health care for seniors instead of saving billions by ending taxpayer-funded subsidies for oil and gas companies?
Will you support sneak attacks on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security by supporting arbitrary, mandatory cuts in all federal spending instead of bringing the deficit down by a combination of both cuts where they make sense and revenue raisers like a tax on millionaires?
Will you support President Obama’s plan to rein in Medicare spending in part by lifting the Republican ban that bars the government from using its purchasing power to negotiate with drug companies on the prices of prescriptions?
WHAT: Hold Rep. Allen West accountable at his town hall meeting
WHEN: Wednesday, July 27 at 7:00 pm
HOW: Call in at 877-229-8493 and dial in the passcode 17808#
Of course, you can ask him why he carried out a mock execution on an Iraqi civilian police officer; why he’s afraid of strong women; why he associates with the South Florida Outlaws motorcycle gang; and even about his response to Kevin McCarthy’s screening of this scene from Ben Affleck’s film The Town:
The Washington Post reports on the incident:
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the party’s vote counter, began his talk by showing a clip from the movie, “The Town”, trying to forge a sense of unity among the independent-minded caucus.One character asks his friend: “I need your help. I can’t tell you what it is. You can never ask me about it later.”
“Whose car are we gonna take,” the character says.
After showing the clip, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), one of the most outspoken critics of leadership among the 87 freshmen, stood up to speak, according to GOP aides.
“I’m ready to drive the car,” West replied, surprising many Republicans by giving his full -throated support for the plan.
Well, that’s my Congressman! So call tonight, and ask the questions that need to be asked.
This morning on the show, I’ll speak with Franco Ripple of Florida Young Democrats and American’s United for Change about West. Plus, I’ll have him weigh in on the murder of 67 young political activists in Norway (a group whose closest equivalent here is the Young Democrats) by a right wing extremist, and Glenn Beck’s contention that it sounds like the “Hitler youth”…
In the second hour of today’s show, I’ll have a meeting of the minds with Dave Johnson. I’m not really sure what he does for a living, but he certainly collects a lot of fees and you can find his writings at the Campaign for America’s Future….
So, it’s another double-header today.
We’ll start with my regular show this morning…
We’ll talk the debt ceiling debate – with clips from Friday’s dueling press conferences with Obama and Boehner. Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, who was one of many Christian leaders who met with President Obama on Wednesday to implore him to protect programs for the needy
And Frank Schaeffer – whose latest book is Sex, Mom and God, joins in to talk about his new piece up at AlterNet: “Christian Jihad? Why We Should Worry About Right-Wing Terror Attacks Like Norway’s in the US”
Stay tuned for Randi’s show this afternoon!
Rundown for Randi’s show today:
Robert Kuttner, writer, co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect magazine will talk with Nicole about the current debt and budget battle – truthfully, a political hostage crisis by the Tea Party. Kuttner says President Obama has all the cards in this conflict – if he’ll play them properly.
Frank Schaeffer, writer, director, American theology expert, and author of ‘Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back’. Mr. Schaeffer will address the right-wing extremist killings in Norway and why we should worry about similar right-wing attacks in the U.S.
And Steven Thrasher, staff writer for the Village Voice and contributor to the New York Times and Out Magazine on the same-sex wedding explosion in New York this past weekend and on being an official witness for a Stonewall veteran and her wife.
I think I’ll start a new reality show. Shit My Congressman Says. I think it’s a winner!
Or maybe start small, with a twitter account! Unfortunately, someone already registered ShitMyRepSays… with no tweets. Ugh. I’ll keep working on it.
Perhaps we’ll just make it a regular feature on the show…
Allen West really does need some help. The poor man is delusional. Just yesterday, he told a Huffington Post reporter that he had just apologized to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for his vile and unprofessional actions after her somewhat run-of-the-mill floor speech calling him out on his stance on Medicare. His spokeswoman then categorically denied that he apologized, saying she owes him an apology. What are we in kindergarten? Man up Mr. West.
Stephen Colbert showed his usual brilliance on this story last night…
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Congressional Partisan Rancor|
It’s even worth sitting through the commercial to watch!
On my show this morning, I did talk about West, the debt ceiling nonsense, the Murdoch mess, and more with comedian John Fugelsang.
On a serious note,in the first hour of the show, I talked about the tragic assault on education in this country with Steve Edwards.
And Joshua Holland joined me to talk about his latest AlterNet piece, “Why the Wealthiest Americans are the Real Job Killers” and the bigger issue of the framing of political discourse in our country.
Although I end my Radio or Not broadcast week with my Thursday shows, I’ll be filling in for Randi Rhodes tomorrow and Monday… so be sure to tune in at any of Randi’s affiliate stations from 3-6pm ET.. Talk to you then!
Allen West is not only a coward and a war criminal. He’s also a misogynist. The newest evidence that all of those allegations are true comes from the pen of the congressman himself.
Yesterday, DNC Chair and member of Congress Debbie Wasserman-Schultz gave a fairly typical, albeit tough, floor speech on the topic of HR 2560 – the “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill that, as she said, is like the Ryan plan on steroids. Here is the entirety of her speech:
Did you catch where she “directed [her] floor speech comments directly towards [Allen West]“? No. Neither did I. So I went through and transcribed the speech, and I’m guessing this was the 14 seconds of the speech to which West was referring (in his letter, that follows):
“Incredulously, the gentleman from Florida who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries . Unbelievable for a member from South Florida.”
That was it. Go back and watch the video again. Wasserman-Schultz never mentioned Mr. West by name, nor did she “direct her comments directly” toward him. Not that I would have faulted her if she had. But apparently Mr. West has some very thin skin, as he responded with this letter (h/t Politico)
From: Z112 West, Allen
Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 04:48 PM
To: Wasserman Schultz, Debbie
Cc: McCarthy, Kevin; Blyth, Jonathan; Pelosi, Nancy; Cantor, Eric
Subject: Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman-Schultz
Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional ,and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!
I am bringing your actions today to our Majority Leader and Majority Whip and from this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior……which dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign hqs, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach.
You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!
Steadfast and Loyal
Congressman Allen B West (R-FL)
I’d say that letter constitutes “Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from” Congressman Allen West and deserves censure from the House.
But that’s only one of many despicable statements from this man, who should be in military prison instead of congress. Writes Joy-Ann Reid at The Grio:
In August 2003, while commanding the 20th Field Regiment, West ordered his soldiers to pick up an Iraqi policeman, Kadoori Hamoodi, who West’s unit suspected of helping the insurgency. According to Hamoodi’s testimony, he was beaten and threatened, and at some point during the interrogation, West fired his pistol near Hamoodi’s head in a mock execution. Hamoodi was never charged with plotting against U.S. troops, and West later admitted he might have been wrong about the Iraqi.
After a hearing, West was fined $5,000 and allowed to retire with full benefits at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Despite the moment of introspection in the New York Times, remains unapologetic about the incident, often saying on the campaign trail that he would “go through hell with a gasoline can” for his fellow soldiers. The incident in Iraq made West a hero to conservatives who believed the media was focusing too much on incidents like Abu Ghraib.
We’ve long known West is a misogynist. Just days before my ill-fated attempt to ask him a question at a “town hall meeting”, West spoke before the group Women Impacting Nation (WIN) – yes, a women’s group – during which he explained that those “women on the other side – those Code Pink women and the Planned Parenthood women” were “neutering” our men. And that if these women didn’t stop our men from becoming subservient to women “the debt will continue to rise”. I kid you not. See for yourself (h/t Think Progress):
Cue the twilight zone music, please.
And why am I so intent on exposing this sorry excuse for a human being as the fraud he is? First, because – like it or not- he’s my congressman. In a “tele-town hall meeting” Thursday night, he said- at least twice – that he represents all of his constituents. Not just those in his party. But just yesterday, he wrote a column for a very-right-leaning blog in which he called the president a liar (a trend among the teabaggers), and rambled on incoherently before ending his diatribe with this sentence:
“I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool.”
Yeah, he represents me… right into the poor house.
But on April 26, I went to an event that was advertised as a Town Hall Meeting with my congressman. I figured that since he’s supposed to representing all of us, he should at least hear what his constituents who DO NOT agree with him are thinking. Unfortunately, when I arrived I was told that we’d have to write our questions on cards, and they’d be asked by one of the staffers. So much for the idea of members of Congress listening to their constituents.
You can get all the details of what transpired after I attempted to follow up his non-answer to a question on his vote for the Ryan plan which would effectively kill Medicare. (Short version: I was thrown out, manhandled by a cop, arrested after I protested the manhandling, and maced in jail for speaking up for my rights and those of the other women being held at the Broward County Jail). West’s reaction to my arrest for attempting to ask him a pertinent question? (h/t The Political Carnival)
Unfortunately, that video was shot by a teabagger himself. I’d love to have been able to see what West said immediately after his curt and very rude comment about my accommodations the night before, but I was otherwise detained.
Allen West is the best example we have of creeping fascism in this county. I’ll keep you posted on more details of the insanity of this war criminal who belongs in the brig rather than the halls of Congress. He’s an embarrassment to the institution and to our country.
On today’s show
Same shit, different week. As summer drones on, the elected elite continue arguing about the wrong issue. The problem is not the debt ceiling. The problem is massive unemployment. And those elected to represent us in Washington DC aren’t doing a damn thing to fix it.
I love speaking with Howie Klein because he’s informed and engaged on all of it. Howie, who blogs at Down With Tyranny and runs the Blue America PAC (along with Digby and C&L’s John Amato), was out of the country on vacation for a while. So today, we were able to catch up on the debt ceiling situation, Obama’s move further to the right, the 2012 Congressional races, Rupert Murdoch’s legal problems, and the closeted homosexuality of Marcus Bachmann and Rick Perry – among other things.
Obviously, the debt ceiling continues to be the major topic of conversation. Not jobs—which would be actual Americans’ concern—but the debt ceiling. Now White House Budget office head Jack Lew scored the most appearances on the Sunday shows with three, but he had to appear followed or in conjunction with the Republicans who have completely held the country hostage for partisan gain.One of those Republicans is Lindsey Graham, who has gone on the record that he will not vote to raise the debt ceiling—a vote that he has made more or less procedurally 10 times in the last 10 years—unless there is a balanced budget amendment. The “Cut, Cap and Balance” talking point that all the Republicans have started to adopt is – surprise, surprise! — basically the Ryan Plan 2.0. Graham—who knows the Republicans are losing the messaging war –adopts a new scare tactic: warning that the US is in danger of being just like Greece. Which, if might be a decent analogy if there was any similarity whatsoever. However, maybe we can look to how austerity measures in Greece have exacerbated the problems of the economy immeasurably.
Part of the problem of the entire debt ceiling debate is that the average American doesn’t really understand what the debt ceiling is or how it does or does not relate to the deficit, the budget and all of the shenanigans in Washington. For this, I think you can squarely place the blame on the media. The media never gives us the real information, never provides context. Take, for example, the Meet the Press roundtable, where they try desperately to turn this into a “both sides do it” argument instead of acknowledging that the same vote the Republicans have not had a hard time voting for 10 times in the last 10 years are suddenly clutching their pearls over raising the debt ceiling. This is not a case of intransigent ideologues on both sides of the aisle. This is one side taking the country hostage in a completely disingenuous way.
No one watching Fox News should actually expect to get informed—studies have shown that Fox News viewers are consistently among the least informed in the country. But I found Liz Cheney to be particularly intellectually dishonest in blaming “Obamacare” for all the country’s economic woes. Luckily, John Podesta was there to set her straight that the Bush Tax Cuts, Medicare Part D and two unfunded wars might have had something to do with it.
Beyond the debt ceiling debate (which I still think is complete kabuki theatre, because I cannot believe that Wall Street will allow the GOP to cause the country’s full faith and credit to be in default), the most schadenfreude-licious story out there has to be the implications of the Murdoch empire as more and more revelations come out about hacking and bribing law enforcement. Jim DeMint, one of the tea party leaders, predictably defended Murdoch, saying Congress shouldn’t investigate. So it’s okay for a foreign entity to hack into Americans’ voicemails (as they are alleged to do with 9/11 victims) according to this self-described “defender of the Constitution”? Of course, Fox News couldn’t actually ignore the story any more, especially on their media spotlight show. But Jim Pinkerton blamed this on those damn liberals in the White House and their agenda.
And finally, because I’m still shocked that he hasn’t been laughed off the national stage yet, Herman Cain appeared on Fox News today. Possibly to push his presidential campaign, but possibly to promote his newly released gospel album, I’m not really sure what the justification for booking him is. But Cain is never going to give up a chance to show just how hateful and anti-American he can be. Ironically for an African American man living in the South, he thinks that redlining communities to exclude Muslims and mosques is absolutely an acceptable freedom.
We also premiered a new weekly feature today, courtesy of Main Street Insider. It’s the 90 Second Summary, which today tells us about the “Cut, Cap and Balance” Act…
That’s the answer. The question is “What the fuck do we do now?”
We have no recourse when it comes to the top of the ticket. The choice is bad or worse. So our best recourse is to stack Congress in our favor. We can elect more progressives, and we must.
Good news came on Monday when Alan Grayson made it official and announce he’s running for Congress again. Now we just need to clone him 50 times…
Congressman Grayson joined me on the show today. I was really planning to make it just a friendly, happy, help get Grayson re-elected interview, but the chatters intervened. I keep two chat rooms open during my show (the ustream chat and the Thom Hartmann chat), and the regulars -who are very anti-AIPAC, kept requesting that I ask about Grayson’s opinion on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. So I did. And his answer made me like him even more.
If you have a few dollars to spare, please remember how Congressman Grayson stood up for us, when virtually no one else in Congress did – at least certainly not to the extent he did. His website is www.congressmanwithguts.com for good reason. He has balls, and he knows how to use them!
I also spent some time on the show today with my former Air America Radio colleague Jack Rice, who also spent time as a CIA officer. I asked him what was up with Leon Panetta. our newly anointed Secretary of Defense actually told soldiers still in Iraq that they are there because we were attacked on 9/11! Interestingly enough, this video is nearly impossible to find! It’s nowhere on YouTube, except in this excerpt of last night’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Hmm…
Jack and I discussed some other disconcerting things until he had to go be a lawyer…
From George Carlin…
to Keith Olbermann…
When will we ever learn?
And there’s this, from my friend Sally Kohn‘s Movement Vision Lab, “Obama’s Ultimatum: What the President Should Say to America, and Republicans”.
Of course, as usual, I did my fair share of talking on today’s show too. I was joined by John Atlas, author of Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN, America’s Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group, who gave us the whole back story about ACORN and its downfall.
The right took down ACORN, and did huge damage to Van Jones, Shirley Sherrod, Planned Parenthood and NPR/PBS with a huge assist from the Fox “News” Channel. Karma’s a bitch now that Rupert’s empire is coming crumbling down. I’ll shed no tears when his evil and diabolical non-journalistic tactics are exposed on this side of the pond and his entire right wing world implodes around him.
Oh yeah, Jill Sobule wrote a song for Rupert too…
In hour two, as we do every Tuesday morning, I was joined by The Political Carnival‘s GottaLaff. We played the new Blunt webisode, this one produced with an assist from the truly brilliant Cynthia Boaz (and yes, that is me in a very quick “saturated” came0).
And we discussed some of these stories too: