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Sex, Lies, & Videotape: Today’s Political Headlines

The two big scandal stories of the day, and let’s be clear, this is not an otherwise slow news day with the much-touted primaries, deal with lying about military service and adultery. Not too shabby. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut AG and Democratic senatorial candidate, was outed by an NYT article for saying that he served in Vietnam, when, in fact, he never left U.S. soil. On the Republican side of the aisle, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) is stepping down from office after admitting that he had an affair with a female employee.

Souder and his lady friend even made a great sex tape!

The Blumenthal revelation is bad, no question, but he may survive, and in no small part thanks to the fact that while his story will undoubtedly garner a slew of media attention, it’ll be only half as much as it might have been thanks to Rep. Souder. Did Democrats pay him to resign today? It’s way too fortuitous for a party that seems to get political timing wrong with an accuracy that verges on the statistically improbable.

The fact that Souder had an affair neither shocks nor bothers me. I understand, though, that most expect and certainly prefer their elected leaders to actually practice what they preach (in this case quite literally). However, what does bother me in this case is the nature of Souder’s apology and resignation. Rather than simply saying, “I screwed up. I’m sorry,” Souder lamented to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, “It is a nightmare…Can’t believe it is happening.”

Really? You can’t believe it’s happening? It was you having the affair…right?

What is really unbelievable is the degree to which Rep. Souder’s statement makes it sound like his house was hit by the adultery natural disaster. Perhaps it was a sex volcano eruption, or a sex tsunami, or even a sex avalanche. Frankly, I don’t doubt that he’s repentant. There’s no question in my mind that he definitely regrets having the affair, and that he also regrets having to come clean about it, but the “nighmare” that Souder is dealing with is basically his own inability to actually follow the moral codes he claims to base his life upon. Souder is not Job. This is his fault.

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Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA) on Tea Party rallies

“We had two recent tea party demonstrations in Washington, one a week before the health care vote – drew about 1,000 people.  The tax day rally, by the organizers own estimate was 1,500 people.  If I organized a rally for stronger laws to protect puppies, I would get 100,000 people to Washington.  So, I think the media has blown the tea party themselves out of proportion.”

— Governor Ed Rendell, on Meet the Press

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Jon Stewart on Health Care Reform- Pt. 2 (With “M.D.” John Hodgman)

Every American becomes a congressman and sick people move to a leper resort — all paid for by your kidneys.

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Jon Stewart Discusses Health Care Reform- Pt. 1

Republican scare tactics filter into the real debate on health care reform, taking their toll on President Obama’s sales pitch.

HILARIOUS!

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An Amendment to Kill Medicare?

Anthony Weiner  is like the Superman/Clark Kent of the House- half wonkish and half seriously aggressive. Who else would consider using legislation as an offensive weapon? 

Writes Glenn Thrush from Politico:

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) says he plans to introduce a politically-targeted amendment forcing Republicans to vote “yes” or “no” on continuing Medicare, the government-run health care program for seniors, on the 44th anniversary of its enactment.

Weiner [who plans to vote yes, obviously] said he wants to tack the amendment onto the health care bill being marked up today — to call bluff on Republicans who say federal intervention into health care has been a failure.

“It’s put-up or shut-up time for the phonies who deride the so-called ‘public option’,” Weiner said.

This guy is a baller.

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Conservatives Have Fought Right-Wing Conspiracies Before: William F. Buckley, Jr. and The John Birch Society.

This is an interesting excerpt from a March 2008 article written by William F. Buckley, Jr. for Commentary Magazine. In it, Buckley discusses a strategy meeting he attended in early 1962 with a couple of other Conservative strategists and Senator Barry Goldwater. The main topic? How to deal with Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. The entire piece is absolutely worth reading (I’ve linked to it above), but I have chosen a specific excerpt in light of today’s article in The Daily Beast entitled Too Hot for Fox News:

 

Time was given to the John Birch Society lasting through lunch, and the subject came up again the next morning. We resolved that conservative leaders should do something about the John Birch Society. An allocation of responsibilities crystallized.

Goldwater would seek out an opportunity to dissociate himself from the “findings” of the Society’s leader, without, however, casting any aspersions on the Society itself. I, in National Review and in my other writing, would continue to expose Welch and his thinking to scorn and derision. “You know how to do that,” said Jay Hall.

I volunteered to go further. Unless Welch himself disowned his operative fallacy, National Review would oppose any support for the society.

“How would you define the Birch fallacy?” Jay Hall asked.

“The fallacy,” I said, “is the assumption that you can infer subjective intention from objective consequence: we lost China to the Communists, therefore the President of the United States and the Secretary of State wished China to go to the Communists.”

(*Among many other controversial comments over the years, Robert Welch circulated a letter calling President Dwight D. Eisenhower a “conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy.”)

“I like that,” Goldwater said.

What would Russell Kirk do? He was straightforward. “Me? I’ll just say, if anybody gets around to asking me, that the guy is loony and should be put away.”

“Put away in Alaska?” I asked, mock-seriously. The wisecrack traced to Robert Welch’s expressed conviction, a year or so earlier, that the state of Alaska was being prepared to house anyone who doubted his doctrine that fluoridated water was a Communist-backed plot to weaken the minds of the American public.

 

The idea behind the term “Birch Fallacy” applies to so much of our contemporary political discourse; the very reasoning continues to be used often. It really is quite an ingenious and concise term for describing a means of attempting to make logical what is inherently illogical in the face of rationality. I thus propose that the “Birch Fallacy” should hold a greater place in our contemporary political lexicon. 

Also, apparently even in the 1960s Alaska was a little crazy.

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Deathers: The New Birthers

Christopher Beam writes on Slate.com:

First came the “birthers.” Now, as President Obama makes a final push for health care reform, we have the deathers.

Many senior citizens are concerned that health care reform would mean cuts to Medicare. That much was clear at a town-hall meeting hosted Tuesday by the American Association of Retired Persons at which Obama fielded questions from seniors who don’t want to give up their benefits.

But one question stood out. It addressed what the host from the AARP called the “infamous” Page 425 of the House health care bill. “I have been told there is a clause in there that everyone that’s Medicare age will be visited and told to decide how they wish to die,” said Mary from North Carolina. “This bothers me greatly, and I’d like for you to promise me that this is not in this bill.” The host elaborated: “As I read the bill, it’s saying that Medicare will, for the first time, cover consultation about end-of-life care, and that they will not pay for such a consultation more than once every five years. This is being read as saying every five years you’ll be told how you can die.”

“Well, that would be kind of morbid,” Obama said.

The audience laughed. Many observers aren’t so amused. To them, the House bill and health care reform in general are the legislative equivalent of euthanasia.

“Obama’s not going to say, ‘Let’s kill them,’ ” says Charlotte Allen, a conservative commentator and author of The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus. “But he seems to be perfectly comfortable with the idea that a lot more old people are going to die a lot sooner.”

Deathers point to several parts of the House bill as evidence that health care reform means letting old people die. Most prominent is the end-of-life consultation provision mentioned above. An article on World Net Daily argues that the proposal “specifically calls for the consultation to recommend ‘palliative care and hospice’ for seniors in their mandatory counseling sessions.” In fact, the bill says the meeting must include “an explanation by the practitioner of the end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice”—not a recommendation of it. (Emphasis added.) Still, Obama pointed out that it’s not too late to remove the language: “If this is something that really bothers people, I suspect that members of Congress might take a second look at it.”

Another seemingly scary provision is one that permits “the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration”—or, more accurately, the withholding of it. Betsy McCaughey, founder of the Committee To Reduce Infection Deaths and former lieutenant governor of New York, wrote an influential (and, to many, misleading) critique of Hillarycare in the New Republic 15 years ago. She told me that the provision is a disturbing example of the government making decisions for the patient. But the bill specifically says that an order to withhold, say, an IV drip, must be one that “effectively communicates the individual’s preferences regarding life sustaining treatment, including an indication of the treatment and care desired by the individual.” In other words, a doctor can’t make you do it.

 

Read the rest of the article here.

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