On First Reading

Pic of the day:  Bennington Battle flag

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Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments, the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from the acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.

James Madison, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1788

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I am in the process of reading the supreme courts ruling in the case National Federation of Independent Business v Sibelius.  I have to tell you it is an interesting read.  And not without twists and turns.  I can see why CNN and Fox were quick to say that the law was being overturned.  Much of the beginning statement was reasoning for the individual mandate to be overturned.  And the reasons were soundly thought out and reasonable.

Curious I should say that, seeing how I am very much for this law, personally.  I was much in line with Chief Justice Roberts rationale against using the commerce clause and the necessary and proper clause to constitutionally validate the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, once I read it.

The rationale against the law when looked at from these arguments is entirely reasonable.  I personally think he is right because in light of those arguments, it is a creation of power above and beyond the mandate of congress.  These two instances (commerce, and necessary &  proper) are both there to protect already enumerated powers, laws that already exist.  The health care law overstepped those bounds and created powers that did not exist before, and because of that the Chief justice shot those arguments down.

But the taxation argument saved the Patient protection and Affordable care act.  Despite the fact that the law calls the penalty for not getting health insurance a “penalty” and not a tax, the court said that they would simply look at the penalty as a tax, because the law is enacted in such a way that the penalty is actually paid like a tax, and is in fact collected by the IRS, and, according to the court, “the payment is not so high that there is really no choice but to buy health insurance.”

And payment is not intended to induce the purchase of health insurance, and there are no negative legal consequences to not buying health insurance.

Says so right in the writ of certiorari.  It’s on page four.  Click here to read the entire thing.

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The one thing I have not seen is the actual amount one would have to pay should one not have health insurance.  I have heard from some fearful right wingers that there will be jail time for those who do not buy health insurance.  Which is just plain silly. There will be no jail time for anyone not according to the law that I read, and that law is the same one that Justice Roberts signed off on.

Partially.

He did say that stripping states that do not comply with the law of their medicare benefits was “Dragooning.”

Can’t say that I disagree as far as that goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.  The states that simply turn their backs on the people who would be helped by this law won’t agree with Justice Roberts here.  And neither do I.  There are abuses that the state can heap upon the individual, just as the federal government can, and this was meant as a protection from the states “dragooning” the citizens of those states who turned their backs on this law, against the will of the electorate and would make them suffer with sub-standard medical coverage.

I would much rather see a state government made to suffer some harm than to see it’s citizens health unnecessarily compromised due to purposeful disregard of a federal law that does not impinge on my freedom, which this does not.  Mind you complete loss of their medicare coverage was a bit much. Some other penalty could have been brought to bear that would have stood the constitutional test.  The law would have survived untouched if not for that major misstep by congress.

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Pic of the day:  Mademoiselle Marcelle Lender by, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

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A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

James Madison, in a letter to W.T. Barry, 1822

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That’s about it from here, America.  G’night.

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Bursting The Balloon

Pic of the day: Bursting the Balloon, political cartoon from 1844.

Click the link above to see a full-sized version of the cartoon.  Call this a premature celebration, showing Henry Clay and his VP Frelinghuysen rising up and James Polk falling.  Polk defeated Clay in a very close 1844 election.

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No president who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure. If he entrusts the details and smaller matters to subordinates constant errors will occur. I prefer to supervise the whole operations of the government myself rather than entrust the public business to subordinates, and this makes my duties very great.

James K. Polk, diary entry from 1848

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Viddy of the day;  Checking in:  Health Care Reform across the country.

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Healthcare reform would improve individual insurance.  At least according to the article I read on a site called nurse.com. It is a very short article about how insurance costs to the individual would be affected by the scheduled introduction of the new health care exchanges, which take effect in 2014.  The article makes the point that individual insurance market will drastically change, for the better as I read it, for the purchaser when the exchanges come into being.

Should they come into being.  If the Supreme court holds back and does not dismantle this portion of the affordable healthcare act.  I am not holding my breath waiting for them to make a decision in favor of the customers here. During the last few years, during the regime of Roberts court, business has made out extraordinarily well.  I do not expect that to change over much. If insurance companies will make out better without the law, they being good businessmen, will accede to the demands of the insurance companies.

Especially if Justice Thomas has anything to do with it, he being as politically active in extreme right wing politics he and his wife are and have been.

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If you read near the bottom of this article, you will read where a Senator from the state of disbelief (aka Texas) said something unbelievably dumb.  He said that Uncertainty over taxes was damaging to the economy.

Uncertainty over taxes is damaging to the economy?

Uncertainty over taxes is damaging to the economy?  

BULLSHIT!   The usual stupid bullshit that makes sure that the rich pay less than the poor tax-wise is damaging the economy.  Screw you, Sen. John Cornyn.  You sir, are an idiot! And if you read the rest of his diatribe, you can see just how much of a lying sack of shit John boy is.

And the President is right, congress needs to get their asses moving on that jobs bill.  Unless the Republican house likes looking tentative in the face of increasing economic uncertainty.

Read the article, please.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night!

It’s 9:00 AM…

… and here I sit, feet up, crossed on my writing desk, writing…err…  Typing, I mean.  Close enough, using words in a creative way.  Or if not creative, at least some small attempt at it.  Something like that.

I have xm radio on, listening to, of all things, the Grateful Dead.  There is other stuff on, but not much. Some crap on the metal stations I’d rather not hear.  Classic Vinyl is playing the one Jethro Tull song I don’t like.  The ONLY one.  The classical stations were… talking about classical music instead of playing it.  No political stuff just yet, I just woke up, don’t wanna get worked up quite yet.  So here I sit with feet up listening to a live version of “Ramble on Rose”

oooOOOooo Black Sabbath just popped on.  Ramble is nice but Sabbath is better.  NIB. Nice.  My name is Lucifer, please take my hand. Turns to RAT Machine, Bullet in the Head.  OK, it’s Rage Against the Machine, I just like calling them RAT Machine. 

Thrash around until… the music just got bad, so I turnoff the crap and turn on the Stephanie Miller show.  Politics.  She’s funny, she’s smart, and dammit, listening to her talk politics gets me fired the hell up.  But I’m not gonna pull the trigger on it, not gonna rant, not yet anyway.  20 minutes have gone by, I just finished my coffee, and I’m not ready to yell… err… type in a strident fashion (that sounds silly, which I like) about politics, or anything just yet.

The most political statement I will make now is, for all you union haters out there, Reagan was a union president before he became a union hater.  The people who are talking about breaking the unions in Wisconsin do not have the best interests of all the people of Wisconsin at heart.  These tea party nutbags are greedy, self-interested, self-centered, and are unwilling to take the pain that the man Walker created, and want a small segment of the population to suffer so they don’t have to.  Like that segment of the population is somehow doing so much better than everyone else.  Like they are somehow responsible for the problems that exist.

I don’t remember hearing any of the union members at the protests in Madison getting a free ride into town so they could protest.  Only the rich bitch conservative tea party patsies got that privilege. 

ENOUGH… Just found some Iron Maiden. Where eagles dare.  Turning that up on the headphones. Nice.

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Iron Maiden – Where Eagles Dare (Live at Ullevi)

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On a more serious note (read at your peril)…

With the music as a backdrop, I let my mind wander, go through all the more serious things that have happened the last few days.  On Friday, a cousin of mine, a man I have known all my life, 2 years my junior, had a heart attack.  According to stories I have heard, he “checked out” on the table.  Twice. People often use euphemism when they fear the strength of the truth.  I don’t know that he died twice and lived to tell the tale for certain though.  I have no need for that kind of  information, and pass it along here merely to make the point that information I have gotten is, at best, spotty.

I’m just happy that he’s alive.  Get better Bill, I’ll be up to see you when they allow me up.  Love ya much, man. Get strong.

Then yesterday my wife goes to the hospital.  She tried Yoga a few days ago, unbeknownst to me, and did something to her back.  She’s been complaining about her legs feeling numb in spots, feet feeling cold, losing feeling below her waist.  After a few days of this, she’s scared enough to want to see what it is. 

After having my cousin bill, a man I have called my best friend when no one else would even talk to me, back when I was drunk, stoned, and barking fucking mad, to have my wife, my best friend now, go to the hospital to have herself checked out for even the slightest thing, was almost too much for me. I pleaded with her to not go.  I begged.  No.  Just be fine. You’re OK, hon.  Seriously, just…. stopdon’tplease.

Irrational I know, but I am a human.  All humans are irrational, and if you think otherwise you are being irrational, and barking fucking mad as well.

She went.  I went with her.  I brought trepidation with me.

I did not explode.  I did not scream at heaven.  I did not promise eternal war upon civilization, and screaming, violent, bloody fucking murder to anyone in arms reach until I died if anything happened to her, though I thought of all of them. 

But I did go barking fucking mad for just a second.  Just one.  One is enough. Once you go to that evil place, you never get lost traveling to it.

Ends up she’s OK.  I returned to the land of the living, smiled at my wife, and all is right with the world, or at least I pretend that it’s OK. 

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It’s now 10:15am, and I am going to get ready to run. Getting pumped listening to some nice relaxing DEATH METAL.

Go do things America, It’s a nice day, the sun is a star, and if it doesn’t impart heat, there is at least light, and that is enough.  Go enjoy it while you have eyes to see the world around you.  Have a good one.

Aqua Fortis

Some Commercials just annoy the crap out of me.   There is this commercial on, runs a lot on, among other networks, MSNBC, for some thing called nofoodtaxes.com.  Claims that taxes are going to be raised on juice drinks, soda and the like.  Watch the viddy titled “Give Me a Break” Americans Against Food Taxes TV Ad  below:

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“Feeding a family is difficult enough in today’s economy”

True enough, the next statement is little harder to swallow.

“Now, some politicians want the government telling me how I should do it.”

OK, this is an immediate red flag for me.  When I hear “some politicians” in a commercial today, two words immediately spring to mind.  Attack ad.  Which means I now have to listen intently,  check for the substance of,  and line of attack, and in doing so figure out who is doing the attacking, and why.

“They want to put new taxes on a lot of groceries I buy, like soft drinks, juice drinks, sports drinks, even flavored waters.  Trying to control what we eat and drink with taxes.”

I can see where this is going with the finish of the first instance of the word “drinks”, I can almost see who is paying for this, and why it’s there.  The beverage industry is fighting having taxes placed on their products.  I don’t mind, to be honest, them trying to defend themselves.  It’s a semi-free country after all, they are allowed to, but when they do it in the guise of the average shopper who is just trying to make ends meet, it is at best disingenuous, and at worst abusively manipulative.

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The great problem of having corporate citizens is that they aren’t like the rest of us. As Baron Thurlow in England is supposed to have said, “They have no soul to save, and they have no body to incarcerate.” (and) The corporation is an externalizing machine, in the same way that a shark is a killing machine.

Robert Monks, The corporation (movie)

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The world’s corporations, in an attempt to gain market share, try to control what we eat and drink, where we spend our free time, how we entertain ourselves, and most every other aspect of our waking lives, using far more insidious means than the alleged government control they speak of here.  They use it in this commercial most effectively.  Among other ways using propaganda like the “government is too involved in our lives” line.

The thought I take from that line of thinking, and this commercial is not “Is government really too involved in our lives?” It is “who is really making this statement, and what do they get out of making it in this manner?”

I’ve looked up the people who funded this particular assault upon America’s airwaves.  The “Americans against food taxes”(AAFT) group is really a corporate front group created by the American beverage association, which is headed by the CEO of Dr.Pepper/Snapple, a guy by the name of Larry Young, Hugh Johnson, President of Pepsi-Cola North America, and ABA president Susan Neely, amongst others.

The lobbying  money this group, the AAFT, has spent has skyrocketed over the last few years.  In 2003 they spent a little over $200,000 lobbying congress.  In 2010 they spent over $8,500,000, a 4250% increase in 7 years, on 25 lobbyists from 7 different firms in lobbying your congressmen.

So when they saw that the congress of this nation would, to fund health care reform, add a tax of from between 3 and 10¢ on soda, sugary drinks, and energy drinks, where do you think all their energies have been spent?  Spent on commercials in an attempt to sway public opinion in their favor, so their products would not be taxed, because the resultant price increase might cut into their hefty profits, and they might only make ¢55 net profit a share next quarter instead of ¢60.

They put these commercials out there for themselves, and care only for themselves and their bottom line.  They don’t care for you, average shopper.  That actress is ACTING, it isn’t real.  And regardless of what happens with the ¢3 – 10 tax that may or may not pass,  they will pass all their business expenses to you in the aisle of your local market.  Prices always go up, never down.

You matter not a damn to them.  You never will.

The worst part of this is that it paints a disingenuous picture of Government.  Government might be intrusive in some places (think FISA, NSA warrantless wiretaps, extraordinary rendition, DMCA, etc…) And a stand should really be taken when it does that.  This is NOT one of those instances.  This commercial, these people, from the actress hired to play the victim of harassing government, to the President of Pepsi-Co NA, and the entire “AAFT” is nothing more that corporate America attacking government for the sake of their shareholders profit margins, while doing no real good in attacking the real problems their products create in the form of obesity and other health issues.

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You survive by having your fear compass calibrated correctly. Our compass is off now because we’re being told to be afraid of everything. The things that we’re frightened of, or told to be frightened of, are not necessarily the things that we need to fear.

Michael Moore

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That’s it from here, America.  Have a good night.

Semi-Wonk

Before I get rolling tonight, a viddy.  Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner Address the 112th congress. 

I watched the above, and a fair bit more of the beginning of the 112th congress opening day in the House of Representatives.  I also watched some of the opening of the Senate, but not nearly as much.  I watched the very beginning of the house proceedings, when, in noisy disarray the house was called to order, by the clerk of the 111th congress, who fulfilled her final duty for that congress by calling the 112th congress to order to begin the process of taking their oaths of office and voting for Speaker of the House.

For Mike the wannabe policy wonk, it was a boatload of fun.  I even saw my representative, Mike Grimm (i didn’t vote for him, but, like it or not he represents my district) on the boob tube for a minute.  Talking presumably to some older member of the Republican caucus.  I didn’t recognize the old man. 

The vote for Speaker was fun to watch.  After the nominations, the voting began without much fanfare.  I thought that when it came to John Boehner’s turn to vote, there was no answer.  But apparently he did, he was either vewy vewy quiet (hunting wabbits?) or he voted through a proxy, or some such. Couldn’t tell. 

There was a vote tally on the screen during the vote.  I knew , everyone knew Nancy had no chance to win,  and John Boehner had it in the bag, but it was still fun to watch.  It was fun to guess who was going to vote for who.

There were eleven democratic votes for Heath Shuler, leader of what is left of the Blue dogs. A few individual votes went to a few other members of the house. Steny Hoyer got one.  Reps. Cardoza and Costa voted each other. John Lewis got 2 votes.   There were a few others, 19 total didn’t vote for former speaker and current minority leader Pelosi.

Most of the Dems who lost in the November election, who would have made a more powerful force of Heath Shuler in his bid for speaker, were members of the once mighty blue dog coalition.  He would have had more votes, but the people he speaks to on an ideological level, in most of the country, voted Republican. 

The speeches were speeches, filled with cute words that truly mean little, like they always do at the beginning of each new congress.  Big words, big rhetoric, big propaganda, of no real consequence, regardless of who speaks them. 

Loved the bit with Speaker Boehner and the oversized gavel.  I watched that thinking two things.  One: that looks like the gavel that was given to Newt Gingrich in 1994, which as I recall was also a bit oversized.  Two:  Is this the Republicans overcompensating for a lack elsewhere in their lives? Maybe that lack is why John of Orange, Speaker Ooompa Loompa, Weeper of the house, whatever you want to call him, cries so damned much. 

😛

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 Viddy of the day, Part II:  Swearing in Ceremony of Sens. John McCain, Barbara Mikulski, Jerry Moran, and Lisa Murkowski, along with the Ceremonial swearing in of Sen. Jerry Moran, Republican from Kansas, in the old senate. 

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The fun, in earnest begins in the house beginning Friday, when the debate begins on the repeal of the affordable health care bill.  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, this vote is essentially meaningless, except as a symbol.  A symbol representing the Republicans inability to allow health care  for Americans to be less expensive and more complete, and have an America that saves money on health care under a Democratic president.

Of course they reword it, use words like “death panel” to scare people who are ignorant of the reality of the bill, use terms like “job killing health care bill” and “Obamacare” to create an Orwellian atmosphere of fear around our President, the Democrats, and by proxy, anything from the left, to create an aura of distrust by controlling the language of the debate.

There is a way around such tactics.  Forcefully, with strength and pride, stand against those who pass on the lies that are tossed at the strong left wing of American politics, and challenge them to prove their statements.  I remember when Betsy McCaughey was first nailed in public about the lies she passed off, her fake death panels.  She disappeared.  Hasn’t been heard from since.

The Affordable health care repeal by the tea party conservatives is doomed to fail. Fine by me.  Use all the symbols you want to, Right wing America.  Symbols don’t get the job done, it’s cute to think  it could, but it’s wrong.

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A quick aside:

There IS a death panel here in America, a real death panel.  Created by the right.  By Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona.  Jan, your right wing tea is killing people, very real people.  No fake “WTF Chuck” Grassley death panels coming to kill Grandma.  REAL death panels killing those who cannot save themselves, because money is more important to Jan Brewer and her right wing compatriots than human life is. 

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Mr. and Mrs. America, I am calling it a night, go do things.  I’ll write to you tomorrow.

Siddharta

These people were worthy of love and admiration in their blind loyalty, in their blind strength and tenacity. With the exception of one small thing, one tiny little thing, they lacked nothing that the sage and thinker had, and that was the consciousness of the unity of all life.

Hermann Hesse, Siddharta

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I like the young Turks.  I watch when I can.  Ya really do gotta love the way the right wing-nuts anti-abortion holier than thou types screaming and yelling like the monkeys they evolved from only a scant few thousand generations ago.  Sanctimoniously screaming about Stupak the Baby Killer, like he would ever do that, like the health care bill somehow makes abortion free and easy to get.

It doesn’t.  The Hyde Amendment is still in effect. Federal funding of abortion is illegal now, just like it was before the health care bill passed, and you would have to read something into the bill that isn’t there to find abortion funding. 

But people are easily led, and believe what they want to, not because it is right, but because it is easy, and rather than actually read the bill, they listen to the hype, and allow their emotions to be manipulated by leaders who are simply using them and their emotional responses to push the country away from the freedoms that they claim to represent, and who do so for personal gain.  For political power, personal power, money, ratings, whatever they deep down need.  And to get it they gin up anger in people, and we get this:

Anthony Weiner gets a letter with some kind of powder in it, in order to intimidate by making it look like those letters that were in the mail around 9/11 that had anthrax.

Broken windows.

Death threats, and the downplaying of them by those who could make political hay by stating such.

That cut gas line.

A noose sent to an African American representative.

I gotta tell you, I like the fact that peoples hearts are engaged.  I really do.  But if they would just turn them the right way, away from hate and anger and towards constructive change for what they want, they would, even though I disagree with their views, make America a better place to live.  Civil discourse is a great thing.  Screaming lunacy is stupid and entertaining, and makes me laugh, but it also concerns.  It will eventually kill someone, probably someone important, and these people who are leaders will try to deflect blame, thus teaching another bad lesson to America, one which they like teaching.

Avoidance of personal responsibility.  It is something the right-wing and their main stream media buddies teach as a core concept in their political playbook.

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A true seeker could not accept any teachings, not if he sincerely wished to find something. But he who had found, could give his approval to every path, every goal; nothing separated him from all of the other thousands who lived in eternity, who breathed the Divine.

Hermann Hesse, Siddharta

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Gotta love Alan Grayson.  He’s one helluva funny guy, and he’s really got his head in the right place.  The man is throwing down the gauntlet here, and that is an absolutely wonderful thing to hear and see. 

Sarah Palin: The patron saint of quitting.  Representative Grayson gives me lulz.

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Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish. And yet it also pleases me and seems right that what is of value and wisdom to one man seems nonsense to another.

Hermann Hesse, Siddharta

Threat To Freedom

Anger is one of the sinews of the soul; he that wants it hath a maimed mind.

Thomas Fuller

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I am hearing that the political atmosphere has gotten significantly worse in the last few days, since Health care passed.  It was, as Joe Biden said, “A big fcukin deal”, but I am now seeing an outburst of stupidity and weak minded bullshit from my people, the American people.  It began with the protesters calling a few of the African-American congressmen N*gg*r and Barney Frank a Homo or whatever they called him.

Then after the vote, a few losers threw bricks at the windows of some Democratic representatives offices or some such.

Now I am hearing that, despite the fact that a majority Americans approve of the passing of the Health care legislation, there are at least 10 members of congress, including Rep. Bart Stupak, have received death threats. 

The home of the brother of a representative was given out online, and people were told to visit him and tell him how they felt.  Some asshat cut his propane line.

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Hatred is the vice of narrow souls; they feed it with all their littleness, and make it the pretext of base tyrannies.

Honore de Balzac

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Death threats? Seriously? Pro-Life death threats?  Are you fcuking serious? Are you really truly serious?

First off, your God, mammon or whoever he actually is, is going to kick your stupid asses for this. 

Secondly, threatening to kill people is illegal.  Cutting peoples propane line is illegal. Enjoy your prison time.  Enjoy being a prison bitch.

My people… my people… what have you become?  A bill passes the house and gets signed into law, one which does NOT affect freedom negatively like…oh, I dunno…THE PATRIOT ACT… and we see this weakness from you?

If that’s how your gonna be about it, just screw you.

I won’t say you aren’t patriotic, You love America.  I will call you idiots for trying to intimidate us, the majority of Americans.  You re-branded tea party conservatives are nothing more than a bunch of loons who can’t handle the fact that your side lost and we are putting through legislation that HELPS people, when all you could do when you held power was try to maintain it with FEAR.

Don’t think we don’t know who you are. We do. The same people who were the ones who loved George Bush for most of his Presidential run, and only abandoned him when you saw the flaws of your political ideology damn near destroy the American economy and way of life, necessitating a change at the top that would fix things. 

I heard your lies back then.  “Henry Paulson is a democrat”   “this isn’t how Republicans do things”  “Bush isn’t really a conservative”  “It’s really Barney Franks fault. Him and Nancy Pelosi”

All four statements are 100% complete and absolute bullshit and you know it. 

There will be no more abortions than there were before because of this bill, and any statement to the contrary is fantasy.  The government isn’t going to tell her when she must die.  Not gonna happen. So stop yer bitch ass little tantrum. You look like a bunch of whiny punks.

You’ve been had.  Chicken little, or his proteges Limbaugh and Beck told you the sky would fall when health care passed, and now that it’s passed, you’re all running around like the world is on fire or something.

It isn’t.

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Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O any thing, of nothing first created;
O heavy lightness! serious vanity!
Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms!

Shakespeare; Romeo & Juliet;  Scene i, Act i