Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The big backoff: No, you weren't imagining the sudden downplaying of the public option

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In response to a pair of condescending and dishonest comments denying that the White House, earlier this week, appeard to be backing off from and downplaying the importance of a government-funded public option in the health care reform bill, I can think of no better or more succinct reply than the above clip from Monday's Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

In it, President Obama is shown in Colorado last weekend, when he stated:
"All I'm saying is though, that the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform."
Contrast this with previous statements--just weeks earlier--by White House officials and the President himself:

WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on July 17, 2009:
"Increased choice and competition drives down the prices for other insurance--that's why a strong public option is necessary."
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius on July 21, 2009:
"What we need is a level playing field, but a public plan, side-by-side with private plans to make sure costs come down."
President Barack Obama on July 20th, 2009:
"I've been very clear about the fact that we should have a public plan."
Subsequently, as you saw in the Daily Show clip, all three officials, on or around August 15, did what can only be termed a group-floating of trial balloons to see how people would respond if the insurance companies got their dearest wish and the public option were taken off the table. So no, readers, you weren't imagining things, and for once, this wasn't a media-created meme. The White House actually did start to back down on the one remaining cornerstone to real health-care reform: a government-funded public plan. And the reactions around the blogosphere (and even among those interviewed by the traditional media)--as expected, and gratifyingly en masse--ranged from bitter disappointment to disgust and outrage, with many accusing the White House of giving in to the opposition, plain and simple.

Which charge is entirely justified, I think. If America is truly led by a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, as opposed to one that's of, by, and for the corporations--in this case, the insurance and pharmaceutical industries--the President cannot possibly countenance this shameless capitulation to the opposition. And nor can we.

UPDATE: kathy a. points to this USA Today piece in which Robert Gibbs calls all of this a "media overreaction" and says the public option is still on the table.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Greetings from Netroots: Big Dawg turns on the five-alarm charm

President Bill Clinton firing up the Netroots crowd in Pittsburgh last night; litbrit's camera stops wobbling just long enough to capture the excitement.

We had to sit through a seemingly interminable series of opening acts--some of whom were more compelling than others--but our patience was rewarded when President Clinton took the stage and, after apologizing for the gruffness of his voice and blaming it on the extensive airplane travel he'd been doing lately, delivered a wonderful address, covering everything from health care reform to gay rights to the possibility of a long-term progressive reign.

Of course, Yours Truly is not a very patient girl, and if you make me wait (and wait and wait) for things I've been looking forward to, I am going to be forced to amuse myself by doing things like making origami animals out of the Very Serious Political Pamphlets people leave on tables, surely intended for purposes other than being turned into origami animals; traipsing back and forth to the well-stocked bar for, er, refreshments (Sir C, Stephen, and Nick Beaudrot are Jack Daniels guys, Minstrel Boy did the mature thing and stuck with ginger ale, and I represented my home state by drinking Cuba Libres with extra lime); rummaging through the bag of "goodies" we'd been handed at registration (at this convention, "goodies" = one t-shirt, an assortment of buttons, a couple of booklets I haven't yet read so I can't tell you what they're about, and a packet of non-GMO corn chips. Really, Netroots organizers--whither Cheetos?); and eventually, having fully assimilated the aforementioned refreshments, offering up the odd Cogitamus-style riposte to lines that, let's face it, ranged from stating-the-bleeding-obvious ("Reforming health care policy has been a long process, but we can't give up now!") to downright stupid. To wit:
Penultimate (or was it the seventh-to-last?) Speaker: "Bipartisanship still matters; now is not the time to turn our backs on the opposition."

Litbrit (allegro con molto brio): "YES IT IS!"
Guess whose line got the louder cheers in our quadrant of the auditorium?

Also at Cogitamus.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bring back "free speech zones" for teabaggers and townhall violence-inciters

AstraZeneca will happily supply Breast Cancer Cupcakes to go with all that fenced-in teabagging, as long as they won't get cited for HIPPA violations.

While commenting at Stephen's post lamenting the escalating violence at healthcare reform townhall meetings, I had a great idea: Free Speech Zones!

I wrote:

Why not have FREE SPEECH ZONES for the loud, violence-inciting assholes who seem to be there to shriek about everything BUT healthcare reform? I mean, that's what Bush did. Let's fence off an area nearby, but separate from, the townhall itself, where people who want to ask actual questions and engage in on-topic, reasoned discussion can do so. Meanwhile, the Obama-Wants-to-Kill-Your-Mama folks can wave their signs and make good use of their freebie BlueCross/BlueShield bath-towels and AstraZeneca hand lotion when they're jerking off to Rick Scott videos to their hearts' content.

We can even re-use the same chain-link fencing and razor wire.

Make that Occam's razor wire: simple, obvious, effective. Problem solved, proving once again that Mama knows best.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Weekend Horizons: Belgium and Sweden

As promised.

Let's start with Mathilde by Belgian legend Jaques Brel, as suggested by Minstrel Boy.

Now on to Sweden--meet The Movits, who come with MR Bill's fond recommendation, as well as that of his son; this piece is called Äppelknyckarjazz.

More musical travels soon, barring the eruption of any boy incidents.

Bon Weekend, everyone!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Para Sonia, La Suprema

We follow our shreds of fame into an ambush.
Then (as while the stars herd to the great trough
the blind, in the always-only-outward of their dismantled
archways, awake at the smell of warmed stone
or the sound of reeds, lifting from the dim
into the segment of green dawn) always
our enemy is our foe at home, more
certainly than through spoken words or from grief-
twisted writing on paper, unblotted by tears
the thought came:
There is no physic
for the world's ill, nor surgery; it must
(hot smell of tar on wet salt air)
burn in fever forever, an incense pierced
with arrows, whose name is Love and another name
Rebellion (the twinge, the gulf, split seconds,
the very raindrops, render, and instancy
of Love).
All Poetry to this not-to-be-looked-upon sun
of Passion is the moon's cupped light; all
Politics to this moon, a moon's reflected
cupped light, like the moon of Rome, after
the deep well of Grecian light sank low;
always the enemy is the foe at home.
But these three are friends whose arms twine
without words; as, in still air,
the great grove leans to wind, past and to come.

-- from Train Ride, by Frederico García Lorca

Thursday, August 06, 2009

EXPOSED! Marley is not a Real American

King Marley Tornello of Cogitamus, born in Kenya (apparently)

All this time, we'd assumed that Marley's birth on the floor of my closet in Saint Petersburg, Florida--along with his five pom-pom-sized siblings--meant he was a native-born American. I mean, what better example of American soil could there possibly be than the floor of my closet? (Trust me on this one.)

Mais non! It turns out there's a Kenyan birth certificate floating around that proves otherwise. King Marley was actually born in Saint Petersburg, Kenya. Yes, indeed. The Internets have confirmed it, and now we're just waiting for the Librul Media to report the truth. Look:

(click to embiggen)

You too can come up with hard evidence of someone's Kenyan birth!

Via Wonkette.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Saturday Frank: Montana; 1973

Movin' to Montana Soon...

Shall we expect a bumper crop of Palin Dental Floss* to hit the stores by Christmas?

* cf.

Weekend horizons: via Pakistan; Awaz; Mr. Fraudiay, 1996

At the recommendation of reader Prup, let's explore the beautiful sounds of Pakistan today, specifically, mid-90's Pakistan and the reggae-inflected sounds of Awaz. From the album Shola, here is Mr. Fraudiay. Enjoy!

I encourage readers to share their favorite tunes from afar with fellow travelers (ahem) and either leave me a link in comments or shoot me an e-mail (litbrit at gmail dot com, as ever). What say you we make this horizon-broadening thing a semi-regular exercise?