Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday Random Blogging: On Bong Hits, McKibben, Anti-War Weenies, and Bullshit Health Care

Mmm, there’s nothing like a Monday, huh? Fuck that.

But, enough whining, I’ve got words to share. Lots of words. I delved into too many emails, parties, publications and websites over the weekend. The result? A news and tip sheet that is overflowing with goodies for you, dear readers. So let’s get started.

Bong Hits 4 Jesus? First, you gotta get a taste of this delicious headline from today's online edition of The New York Times: "Supreme Court Hears 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' Case." That's just like a total and complete gift for bloggers, you know. And it only gets better. Ken Starr, the right-wing lunatic of Whitewater, Lewinwsky and Clinton impeachment fame, is the lead attorney representing the young lad who got in a heap of trouble for unfurling the banner with the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" slogan. I guess these guys think that anything you do for Jesus is good enough for them. In that case, how about this: Stop the Fucking War for Jesus!

McKibben Pulls a Gore: I got a great email from a Burlington reader on Friday night. He was all thrilled about a Bill McKibben talk he had just attended at the Fletcher Free Library. Or at least he was thrilled about the talk until the bizarre ending. You see, Saint Bill got the crowd ravenous for “all things local” in his talk about the need to buy local, live local, love local and just plain be local in this age of globalism and – ahem – global warming. Sounds great, right? Yes, until McKibben pulled an Al Gore by morphing from saint to hypocrite faster than he could say “buy my book.” You see, at the end of his talk, when things made a turn from the global and local economy to the McKibben family economy, Saint Bill had his booksellers trot out his latest book for all those in attendance to purchase. And guess who the booksellers were? The Crow Bookshop? Nope. Borders. Yeah, Borders, the big, bad multinational that is responsible for killing hundreds of small bookshops across this nation. Typical liberal: Do as he says, not as he does.

Speaking of liberals, they continue to get their asses handed to them on the war issue. Did anyone hear about the anti-war rally in DC last weekend? I didn’t think so. Because the Dems and their Kool-Aid drinking followers have effectively killed the anti-war movement. If you don’t believe, just wander over to the sleepy Green Mountain Daily site and try to find anything that resembles activism in this age of the so-called Dem rebirth. They’re too busy wondering what to wear to Obama’s next house party than trying to put the heat on the party that is so fervently shitting upon their heads.

The not-so-secret theory goes like this: The Dem establishment – you know, folks like Leahy, Sanders and Welch – are putting the word out to their starry-eyed followers to “cool it” on the war. “Trust us,” the manta from the elected elite goes, “because we don’t want to blow our majority in the next election.” And their good soldiers are bowing with all the subservience one would expect from a lap dog tuggling up for a snooze at their master’s feet.

I’ve said it here numerous times, these folks just don’t know how to lead. Period. And, sadly, they’re letting an historical moment slip into the abyss as a result of their own slumber. Or, make that: as a result of their own political wet dreams. Leahy likes the gavel. Sanders likes the money. And Welch likes the notion that he’ll never have to run those dopey ambulance-chasing lawyer commercials again. Good luck with that.

If you still don’t believe me, consider the Vermont anti-war movement. Seen ‘em lately? Nope. They’re in the mode now where they get a huge fucking kick out of having one-on-one meetings with the elected elite, meetings whereby all Leahy, Sanders and Welch have to do is sit with them for ten minutes, try to remember their names and then spin them out of the rooms as fast as they can say: “Wow, great work. Keep it up.”

The self-appointed leader of Vermont’s anti-war movement, Joe Gainza, has been totally silent since the Dems got control of everything, all in an effort to “play the game” described above. One of his disciples even told Snarky Boy that Gainza is actually telling people that they’re “laying low now, just trying to informally get people to call and write our legislators without calling them out in public.” Oh hell no, we wouldn’t want that, would we? That would almost be like believing in our cause and utilizing our democratic principles to pursue that cause!

The Gainza crowd is also nervous as all hell about this week’s raid on Welch’s office over the war and impeachment issues. Apparently, some rogue activists not drinking the Dem Kool-Aid are planning to make a not-so-subtle visit to Welch’s Burlington office to demand that he get with the program and support the Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey legislation that would end the war now rather than later, later and then later.

According to my contacts, Gainza and the peace crowd that can’t shoot straight have all been running from these efforts to put Welch on the spot like cockroaches at the Motel 6. Gainza, for example, announced that he couldn’t make the visit to Welch’s office because there wasn’t time to get clearance from the national office of his American Friends Service Committee. Nice try, Joe, but you CAN act as an outraged citizen, you know. I guess you haven’t been moved enough by your own repeated placement of the boots of dead soldiers on the State House lawn to do any real activism yet, huh?

Nationally, the sleep walking side of the anti-war movement is being led by the folks at Like their Vermont brethren, they’re trying like hell to stymie the rage of last November and, instead, play the Dem game of “let’s ride this for another election cycle.” John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton have a great article over at CounterPunch describing how MoveOn is toning down their rage and, instead, trying to manipulate the debate toward one and only one plan: The Pelosi Plan, a plan that is about as concrete as the plan of any lotto ticket buyer’s plan to win. Again, good luck with that.

Speaking of the war and funding
, the Dems are acting all coy over their attempts to put all kinds of pork spending in the Pelosi bill that would continue funding the war and put very nebulous timelines on the war plan. Hee-hee. The Pork Bill – er, make that the war funding bill -- includes an effort to extend more help to dairy farmers, something Vermont’s not-so-mighty threesome are gleeful over. So it’s not hard to predict that Leahy, Sanders and Welch have a ready-made excuse for their vote for more money for the war: They’re doing it for the farmers. [Editor’s note: Shed tear here.] Give me a break. Quick, someone get these boys a few backbones.

And because we’re a so-called “three party state,” let’s do another check-in with the Progressive Party.
In times like this, they must be frothing at the bit over how to galvanize pubic support to prove that the Dems and Repubs are just – well – full of shit. Right? Wrong. According to the dreadful Prog Blog, a place that reminds of the confessional I once was forced to go to as a youthful Catholic (you’re told to go there, it feels really dead and weird when you get there, and you’re fucking delighted when you get out), here were the two top-stories from Prog Rep. Chris Pearson: Donald Trump on the war and Stephen Colbert roasting President Bush.

Yes, you read that correctly. Why anyone who considers themselves a Prog would give two shits about anything Trump thinks about the war is just beyond me. Of course, Pearson is thinking it’s all too cute that Trump is on their side. But I’d rather see them hoist up some real ideological heroes rather than the comb-over king, no? Where, for example, was Pearson when Sheehan was in town testifying in the building that employs him? I guess he would have made it if Trump had come instead.

But the REALLY weird part of Pearson’s blogging was his offering of Colbert roasting President Bush. Can he be anymore behind the times? I mean, Colbert did that LAST YEAR, you dope. And, as I recall, it got quite a bit of attention, too. Sarcasm intended. You gotta leave it too these Progs, they’re soooo cutting edge. What’s next, Pearson’s gonna tell us that the lady from the Dixie Chicks said something bad about Bush?

Finally, I’ve got to tell you about a swanky little party I found myself at last Friday night. I only got invited because I was out and about with a friend who truly was invited. It’s a neighbor thing, I guess. But while your deathly bored Snarky Boy sat sipping a swanky cocktail, up walks a gentleman who began chatting me up because, quite clearly, he was caught in that never-never-land of power cocktail parties: No one to talk to while drinking. So I served a purpose and I lent him my ear. Turns out the gentleman is one of the few folks in charge of reviewing Vermont’s so-called answer to the health care crisis: The Catamount Health Care Plan. And his assessment? “It’s bullshit.” Oh yeah, I thought, let me get you another drink and tell me all about it…

Basically, these poor bureaucrats are trying like hell to make sense out of the nonsense compromise that came out of the last legislative session. The Dems were too weak-kneed (there goes that theme again) to push for single-payer health care and Douglas didn’t want to look like a total obstructionist so, in the end, they compromised on a mess of a health care “solution” called Catamount. What a miserable tribute to a marvelous animal.

My cocktail party source, however, confided in me that it appears none of the targeted audience for the Catamount plan – the uninsured – are going to be willing to bite at this state plan. The reason? Price, of course. Blue Cross Blue Shield, for example, has put in a bid to take part in the Catamount plan and charge $418 a month to the previously uninsured. Now, if you’re skipping coverage right now in the private sector -- most likely because of price -- why would you jump at the chance to spend $418 a month for the state plan? The answer: You won’t. Of course, there are income sensitivity rates for this plan, too, lowering it for those who make something akin to poverty-level wages. But, for these folks, when it comes down to food on the table or the medical premium, the choice is pretty clear, especially when everyone knows the hospitals won’t turn down patients in an emergency.

“It’s just a mess,” my source tells me. “We’re just stuck in the middle between the legislature and the governor and being forced to make sense out of the senseless. Worse, we’re spending enormous amounts of staff time and money to do the senseless.”

You know, sometimes these cocktail parties pay off.

Stay tuned. And, better yet, stay snarky.