Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

We’re late today because, well, it’s a holiday weekend. Pretty slim pickings, alas. But you’ll be glad to know there’s a reason why you’ve seen so much Dick on your teevee:

So, why has Dick Cheney been so desperate to hit the airwaves as part of his crusade against the White House? Explanations differ, but his desire to sell a memoir to publishers might have at least something to do with his efforts.

With his sustained blitz of television appearances and speeches, former Vice President Dick Cheney has established himself as perhaps the leading Republican voice against President Obama.

Not a bad time, then, to be in the market for a multimillion-dollar book contract…. A person familiar with discussions Mr. Cheney has had with publishers said he was seeking more than $2 million for his advance. That sum may prove hard to get in this economic climate, especially given his generally low approval ratings, which publishers view as a potential — but not certain — harbinger for sales.

Reports indicate Cheney may end up with a deal with Simon & Schuster, because it’s home to an imprint run by Mary Matalin, who is also publishing Karl Rove’s book.

This might offer at least some hints about Cheney’s recent motivations. A book written by a failed former vice president may not compel publishers to pay the big bucks, but a book written by one of the leaders of the modern Republican Party, and the GOP’s leading attack dog of the nation’s elected leadership, might generate a more sizable advance.

What I don’t quite understand is why anyone would expect Cheney’s book to be successful. After all, the former vice president has a well-deserved reputation for almost comical dishonesty. Who’s going to pony up $29.95 for a book written by someone who routinely blurs the line between fact and fiction?

The only market likely to pay $29.95 for the privilege, after all, doesn’t really read big, thick, serious books. Unless this one’s co-written by Rush Limbaugh, I’m afraid Dick’ll be out of luck.

Angling for a bigger advance may only be a part of Dick’s motives. His daughter seems to be implying her daddy’s trying to stay out of prison:

Last night on CNN, however, Cheney’s daughter Liz revealed that fear of prosecution is indeed a motivating factor in the former vice president’s current media campaign:

L. CHENEY: I don’t think he planned to be doing this, you know, when they left office in January. But I think, as it became clear that President Obama was not only going to be stopping some of these policies, that he was going to be doing things like releasing the — the techniques themselves, so that the terrorists could now train to them, that he was suggesting that perhaps we would even be prosecuting former members of the Bush administration.

And that would be such a terrible tragedy. But it might also help with the advance amount problem. After all, a book of lies by a convicted war criminal would be so much more interesting than a book of lies by a despised former VP.

Speaking of lies, Arizona’s enduring shame (no, not McCain – the other one) is fully aware of the fact that if people heard the truth about the Cons’ plans for health care, they’d laugh them out of the debate:

In an interview posted online by the National Review, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) candidly explained how his party would try to deceive the public during the coming health care debate. Kyl said that although Republicans believe in a “free market” approach to health care, to describe it honestly to the “people we have to convince” would not be “persuasive.” Instead, Kyl boasts that he and his colleagues will use the “hollow buzzwords” prescribed by GOP language consultant Frank Luntz:

KYL: We of course believe the free market can provide the incentives for everyone to be covered with good insurance but to talk about it in terms of the free market is not to be persuasive with the people we have to convince.

Shorter Jon Kyl: We know that the electorate knows we’re full of shit on this, so we’d best lie about it.

The Cons’ problem is that Americans have already been fooled twice, and they may not be inclined to strike out:

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship write at Salon.com:

Way, way back in the 1970’s Americans were riled up over the rising costs of health care. As a presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter started talking about the government clamping down. When he got to the White House, drug makers, insurance companies, hospitals and doctors — the very people who only a decade earlier had done everything they could to strangle Medicare in the cradle — seemed uncharacteristically humble and cooperative. “You don’t have to make us cut costs,” they promised. “We’ll do it voluntarily.”

So Uncle Sam backed down, and you guessed it. Pretty soon medical costs were soaring higher than ever.

By the early ’90s, the public was once again hurting in the pocketbook. Feeling our pain, Bill and Hillary Clinton tried again, coming up with a plan only slightly more complicated than the schematics for an F-18 fighter jet.

This time the health industry acted more like Tony Soprano than Mother Teresa. It bludgeoned the Clinton reforms with one of the most expensive and deceitful public relations and advertising campaigns ever conceived — paid for, of course, from the industry’s swollen profits.

As the drug and insurance companies, hospitals and doctors dumped the mangled carcass of reform into the Potomac, securely encased in concrete, once again they said don’t worry; they would cut costs voluntarily.

If you believed that, we’ve got a toll-free bridge to the Mayo Clinic we’d like to sell you.

So anyone with any memory left could be excused for raising their eyebrows at the healthcare industry’s latest promises. As if on cue, hardly had their pledge of volunteerism rung out across the land than Jay Gellert, chief executive of Health Net Inc. and chair of the lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans, assured his pals not to worry about the voluntary reductions.

You can see
why Jon Kyl and his buddies might be worried about the results if they start yawping about the “free market” again.

Meanwhile, Steve Benen and Publius take up the eternal question: are Cons playing cynical partisan games, or are they really that fucking stupid? The context this time is the pants-pissing fear campaign they’re waging against Gitmo. Steve’s conclusion:

It’s hard to say with any certainty, and there’s no doubt some variety within the group — some liars and some fools — but for what it’s worth, there’s ample evidence to support the “blatant dishonesty for partisan gain” theory. The Wall Street Journal reports today that Republicans see the debate over Gitmo as “the culmination of a carefully developed GOP strategy,” which they hope to use as “the beginning of a political comeback.”

The goal, apparently, was to identify a “favorable issue” on which the party could go on the offensive; “tarnish” Democratic leaders; and attack until the criticisms “begin to seem counterproductive.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) concluded more than a year ago that Mr. Obama might be vulnerable on Guantanamo — and the unease voters would have over the prospect of transferring suspected terrorists to U.S. soil. Since April 20 he has delivered 17 floor speeches on the issue. Mr. McConnell beat back party dissent over his strategy, as some argued it was a losing battle when the president enjoyed such high poll numbers.

The attacks, in other words, are largely a cynical ploy, predicated on Republican hopes that public fear will outweigh public reason, and that most Americans won’t realize how spectacularly dishonest the whole argument is.

That beats widespread stupidity, I suppose.

I say it’s a photo finish, possibly a dead heat. Either way, we’re dealing with a bunch of inane fucktards some of my fellow citizens are sadly stupid enough to vote for.

Of course, if the GOP keeps up their dumbfuckery, especially with antics like equating Nancy Pelosi with Pussy Galore, at least one set of citizens won’t be stupid enough to keep voting for them:

Yeah, I know. The GOP stereotype of a bunch of sniggering frat boys pointing their fingers and screaming “boobies” is rarely unfair. The fact that the Republican party leadership (such as it is) has no better strategy than provoking feminist outrage to delight its drooling extremist base puts its limitations on full display.

A Drudge headline this week indicates the method to their madness:

Blue collar males lose more ground; unemployment rate surges past national average…

Blame the betties for the lost jobs, we’re the new Mexicans. Nancy Pelosi is a stand in for us all. It’s reliable lizard brain trope.

But are they burning the brand with women in the process? From the latest Daily Kos poll:

Favorable Unfavorable No Opinion
Barack Obama 70 24 6
Nancy Pelosi 39 44 17
Mitch McConnell 16 65 19
John Boehner 9 71 20
Congressional Democrats 46 45 9
Congressional Republicans 5 80 15
Democratic Party 54 37


Republican Party 14 78 8

I’m not a statistics expert by any means but in the last election, women cast 53% of the Presidential vote. Obama got 56% of the female vote, while McCain drew 49%.

Lessee… they’ve lost the vast majority of minorites, women, and other miscellaneous sane people. Not much left, now, is there?

Finally, we’ll end with a game Suzie at Crooks and Liars came up with. Click here for the answer:

The Congressional GOPers (Party of Corporate Pork) are so, so upset when the wrong people are on the losing end in government bailouts. See if you can spot the delicious irony!

Dozens of lawmakers are challenging the authority of President Obama’s auto task force, saying its swift restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler is unjust to investors, dealers and others.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner yesterday, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) said the auto task force is waging a “war on capital” by favoring the United Auto Workers, who are being offered a 39 percent equity stake in the new GM, over bondholders, many of them small investors and retirees, who are being offered 10 percent.

“Choosing sides between equal classes of creditors sets a terrible precedent — one that could cause serious long term challenges to the financing marketplace by eroding investor confidence at the worst time in our recessionary period,” Hensarling wrote in a letter signed by 20 other House members.

They’re so precious when they pound their little fists into the carpet like that…

Happy Hour Discurso

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