Sunday, September 26, 2010

Last Call

Preparations for a changing of the guard in North Korea may be underway.

Like everything in this country, the move is shrouded in mystery. But the people are already being groomed for a phased transition, supporting the widespread belief that the leader, Kim Jong-il, will use Tuesday's Workers' party assembly to signal he has chosen his youngest son to succeed him. One Pyongyang student says there is already a song dedicated to the heir apparent.

"We were told at university that Kim Jong-un is very intelligent, that he has a military background, and that he is very young," added the young woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

Many others seem to know his name, even though there is a reluctance to discuss the matter – at least with foreigners.

His father's gradual rise was equally well-veiled for many years, sealed only at the party's 1980 gathering: its last until this year. This meeting could last anywhere between three days and almost three weeks, to judge from previous events.

Seoul-based Yonhap news agency has also reported that the North may be preparing a record military parade, citing South Korean government sources. As many as 10,000 soldiers may march alongside missiles and armoured vehicles to mark the party's assembly or its 65th anniversary next month.

An opportunity for real diplomacy with Pyongyang?  Let's hope so.  Kim Jong-un is younger than I am, and as Premier of North Korea, well, who knows?  There would have to be tremendous pressure from the hard-liners in the country to continue to bluster but...well, there's always a chance that the son is not the father. 

We'll see how this works out.  Hillary Clinton and the State Department just cleared their calendars, I'm thinking.

The Mask Slips Again

And Republicans accidentally tell the truth.  This time it's Orange Julius on the Lemon Pledge, talking to Chris Wallace on FOX News Sunday.

WALLACE: Congressman Boehner, as Willie Sutton said about banks, entitlements are where the money is. More than 40% of the budget. Yet, I’ve looked through this pledge and there is not one single proposal to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.
BOEHNER: Chris, we make it clear in there that we’re going to lay out a plan to work toward a balanced budget and deal with the entitlement crisis. Chris, it’s time for us as Americans to have an adult conversation with each other about the serious challenges our country faces. And we can’t have that serious conversation until we lay out the size of the problem. Once Americans understand how big the problem is, then we can begin to talk about potential solutions. [...]
WALLACE: Forgive me, sir, isn’t the right time to have the adult conversation now before the election when you have this document? Why not make a single proposal to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?
BOEHNER: Chris, this is what happens here in Washington. When you start down that path, you just invite all kind of problems. I know. I’ve been there. I think we need to do this in a more systemic way and have this conversation first. Let’s not get to the potential solutions. Let’s make sure Americans understand how big the problem is. Then we can talk about possible solutions and then work ourselves into those solutions that are doable.

For those of you keeping score at home, Orange Julius wants to have an "adult conversation" about entitlement programs, which apparently involves treating Americans like morons.

But notice he admits the Pledge To America contains no solutions to our economic problems.  That's because the Republican party doesn't have any that doesn't involve massively slashing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to pay for increased tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  You'll only find out these "solutions" after you elect the Republicans back into power in Congress.

Until then, Orange Julius's idea of an "adult conversation" is "Vote for us because shut up, that's why."  And yes, they think you're that dumb.

They're counting on it.

A Pox On Both Your Candidates

The San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board takes a "brave stance" on the California Senate election and says "screw them both."

Californians are left with a deeply unsatisfying choice for the U.S. Senate this year. The incumbent, Democrat Barbara Boxer, has failed to distinguish herself during her 18 years in office. There is no reason to believe that another six-year term would bring anything but more of the same uninspired representation. The challenger, Republican Carly Fiorina, has campaigned with a vigor and directness that suggests she could be effective in Washington - but for an agenda that would undermine this nation's need to move forward on addressing serious issues such as climate change, health care and immigration.

It is extremely rare that this editorial page would offer no recommendation on any race, particularly one of this importance. This is one necessary exception. 

The editorial goes on to trash Boxer as feckless and Fiorina as a nutjob and ends with this:

It is a dismal choice between an ineffective advocate for causes we generally support and a potentially strong advocate for positions we oppose. Neither merits our endorsement for the U.S. Senate.

Vote for no one, says the SF Chronicle.  Unfortunately as principled as the board's stance is, from a pragmatic standpoint in this race that lofty, feel-good position is effectively endorsing Fiorina, and the editorial staff knows it.

Candidate "Nobody" is not a valid choice.  You get one or the other, and if the paper is effectively telling people to stay home, then only the die hard nutjob Teabaggers will be left.  Abdicating responsibility for selecting a Senator and effectively telling people to not vote is irresponsible as it is pointless.

A major city newspaper should know better.  Unfortunately, they've taken the cowardly firebagger way out.  If the people behind a newpaper editorial board don't have the balls to pick a candidate and can't be half-assed to find a reason why, then we lose yet another layer of democracy as the choice for Senator for some 40 million Americans comes down to the most partisan and out of touch with the populace.

That's just sad.

Sunday Funnies: Taxing Rhetoric Edition

Bobblespeak Translations continue to deliver.

Amanpour: you nominated a lunatic for the Senate in Delaware

McConnell: she’s an adorable little freak

Amanpour: how is she qualified?

McConnell: she won a primary and that’s enough

Amanpour: Sharron Angle thinks we need an armed rebellion - isn’t that bizarre?

McConnell: no what is freaky and bizarre is aiding auto companies and fixing student loans

Amanpour: oh I see - you’re as crazy as she is

McConnell: I never dabbled in witchcraft although I was loyal servant to Lord Voldemort

Amanpour: but if these people are elected our country will go to hell

McConnell: no Obama will still be there thankfully

Amanpour: of course

Laughter really is the best exercise.

Alan Grayson Goes All In On "Taliban Dan" Ad

Friday I talked about Rep. Alan Grayson's opponent, Daniel Webster, and his crazy fundamentalist spew. Alan Grayson is apparently not backing down from Webster either as he opens this can of whoopass on Webster:

"Religious fanatics are trying to take away our freedom in Afghanistan, in Iraq and right here in central Florida," declares a female voice-over.

The ad focuses on Daniel Webster, Grayson's Republican opponent in this year's mid-term election and a former state legislator.

"Daniel Webster wants to impose his radical fundamentalism on us," the ad asserts. "Webster tried to deny battered women medical care and the right to divorce their abusers. He wants to force raped women to bear the child. Taliban Dan Webster. Hands off our bodies, and our laws."

Grayson certainly isn't pulling any punches.  I'm not sure if I agree with the extent of this attack but if Grayson can win re-election, he really will affect 2012.  Same goes if Daniel Webster wins, however.

Fighting the Republicans on their own turf is ballsy, but the unapologetic Grayson is going for it.  Outside of Nancy Pelosi, I can't think of any House Democrat that the Republicans want gone more than Grayson.  That should tell you something.

The Real Deal Appeal Of Repeal, Part 6

Yet another poll shows that America doesn't want a repeal of "Obamacare", they want a more robust program including the public option.

President Barack Obama's health care overhaul has divided the nation, and Republicans believe their call for repeal will help them win elections in November. But the picture's not that clear cut.

A new AP poll finds that Americans who think the law should have done more outnumber those who think the government should stay out of health care by 2-to-1.

"I was disappointed that it didn't provide universal coverage," said Bronwyn Bleakley, 35, a biology professor from Easton, Mass.

More than 30 million people would gain coverage in 2019 when the law is fully phased in, but another 20 million or so would remain uninsured. Bleakley, who was uninsured early in her career, views the overhaul as a work in progress.

The poll found that about four in 10 adults think the new law did not go far enough to change the health care system, regardless of whether they support the law, oppose it or remain neutral. On the other side, about one in five say they oppose the law because they think the federal government should not be involved in health care at all.

The AP poll was conducted by Stanford University with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Overall, 30 percent favored the legislation, while 40 percent opposed it, and another 30 percent remained neutral.

So, my question is this, for all the folks who say that, like myself, the health care reform laws don't go far enough and should be improved:

Do you think electing more Republicans to Congress will make the law any better?

The Republicans want to repeal health care reform...all of it...and replace it with almost the exact same planThey admitted as much in their Pledge To America scam.  All they care about is getting credit for health care reform, and if the Democrats are the ones who passed it it must be destroyed...even if it's filled with ideas that the Republicans want to include in their "own" health care "plan".

And for the 20% of us who think the federal government has no business in health care, then you're returning your Medicare, Medicaid, or COBRA checks, yes?
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