Cruzosaurus Tex: Sarah Palin With A Penis And A Princeton Pedigree

Every now and then some people will claim they have seen the Loch Ness Monster. Once in a while there will come forth folks who claim they have seen Bigfoot. And now, on the verge of a government shutdown and with the threat of economic doomsday hanging over the country, there are cryptozoologists in Washington who claim they have seen wandering around the capital an elusive creature called Republicanus moderatus.

All weekend I heard people claim they have seen this mythical being, one who is “reasonable” and wants to “govern” the country. But when more sober-minded people look around for evidence of such a being, it soon becomes clear that once upon a time there were Moderate Republicans roaming the streets of Washington, but they are now extinct. They’re all gone. What few there are left in the country at large are hiding out, trying to live off the land until civilization returns to the Republican Party.

Oh, I know that there are some people who want to keep the legend alive, who don’t want to admit that the disappearance from Washington of such a proud species of reasonable Republicans signals that American governance is in trouble, that our tradition of democratic rule is in danger of being lost. But the truth is that a new species, Republicanus extremus, is thundering around Washington like giant ideological lizards, with sweeping tails that awkwardly swipe at things like ObamaCare, which was created by democratically elected legislators and signed into law by a now twice-elected President of the United States.

These giant ideological lizards, with their survival-of-the-fittest mentality, have either stomped on or chased away from Washington any sign of Moderate Republican. And wishful thinking won’t soon bring that endangered species back to the capital to govern. It will take more than that.

cruzosaurus texThe most ideological lizard of them all is Ted Cruz, who is Sarah Palin with a penis and a Princeton pedigree. His day job is in the U.S. Senate, but he is also moonlighting as the de facto Speaker of the House, since the official Speaker has proven incapable of leading the reptilian rabble. Cruz is commanding a very noisy and destructive pack of giant lizard legislators on a quest to destroy democratic governance and tear down American civilization one law at a time, starting with the new law meant to bring tens of millions of Americans into the health insurance system.

The only hope we have, the only way orderly American governance will continue, the only way we can preserve the long-term well-being of the country, is if Democrats in Washington finally and fiercely stand up and fight Ted Cruz and those who have gone to Washington in order to turn the place into Jurassic Park.

Will they? Will Democrats stand and fight? Will they ignore the ridiculous questions from journalists who want to know if Democrats will “compromise” with Republicans, when in truth Democrats have already compromised to the point of near-surrender?

We shall see.

Roy Blunt Votes To Shut ‘Er Down!

Let the record show that my United States senator, lobbyist-loving Roy Blunt, just voted to shut down the federal government.

And even though Democrats prevailed on the vote, I’m sure that all the soldier-loving, Social Security-sucking seniors in Missouri who put Blunt in office are as happy as can be that he voted with 43 other Republicans, many with grossly undeserved reputations for “reasonableness,” to show the world that the United States government is just one Republican-friendly election away from Tea Party disaster.

More “Both Sides Are Guilty” Journalism From ABC News

President Obama went to Largo, Maryland, on Thursday and gave a speech about the Affordable Care Act, about how important it is that, In the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one should go broke just because they get sick,” about how significant it is that,

on October 1st, millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance because they’ve been priced out of the market or because they’ve been denied access because of a preexisting condition, they will finally be able to buy quality, affordable health insurance.

He talked about many of the virtues of the law, like the free preventive care, like the young folks under 26 who “gained coverage by staying on their parents’ plan,” like the “hundreds of dollars” that older Americans have saved on their medicine, like the money insurance companies were forced to return to families because those medical insurance companies didn’t spend enough on, uh, medical care.

The President mentioned that there are no longer any lifetime limits on coverage, that there is no longer any discrimination allowed for preexisting conditions, nor are companies allowed “to charge women more for their insurance just because they’re women.”

The man who was instrumental in making access to health insurance a “right” for the first time in American history, also talked a lot about how the whole thing will work, beginning next Tuesday, and what folks who need insurance should do to sign up. He talked about the various choices, the costs, and how it is that the “marketplaces” and the “competition, choice, and transparency” that comes with those marketplaces, “are keeping costs down.”

The President, though, also had to talk about the “misinformation” and “confusion” surrounding the law. He noted both the silly and the dangerous efforts by Republicans to repeal it, about all the dumb and hysterical things that they have said about the law, and a quick acknowledgement of the role Fox “News” has played in the campaign against it. (By the way, IQ-slaughtering “Fox and Friends” Friday morning had a segment attacking the President for invoking “slavery” and daring to “divide” the nation!)

Unfortunately, it was mostly the President’s remarks about Republicans that made it onto television and radio news, mainly because many broadcast journalists these days have pretty much given up on educating the public when it comes to politics. Not much of the substance, of the practical advice the President offered to potential beneficiaries of the ACA, was disseminated by broadcast news outlets.

I did, though, see or hear a hundred times the President’s funny allusion to the stupidity of Michele Bachmann, and his oblique reference to the Koch brothers, who are funding a “cynical ad campaign” designed to get young people to not participate in the insurance marketplaces and therefore not have “any health care.”

But of all the journalism I witnessed regarding Thursdays coverage of the President’s speech and the ongoing shutdown and default talk in Washington, the worst was what I saw on ABC’s World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer.jonathan karl

The fight over shutting down the government and the dangerous debt ceiling nonsense was the second story on Thursday night’s broadcast. ABC’s Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl had two minutes and he proceeded to make a joke of the entire thing. From beginning to end, it was a piece designed to be more cute than informative, more clever than enlightening.

First, Sawyer introduced the piece by saying,

And now we head to Washington and the growing frustration in the country over another round of name-calling and threats to bring the government to a standstill.

Uh-oh. You can sense that this is going to be another one of those “both sides are guilty” pieces, which enables Republicans to do all the dirty work and only get half the blame. She continued:

We begin with…Jonathan Karl, who tells us what the opposing sides are saying about each other tonight.

Ah, there it is in full-bloom. “The opposing sides” are saying things about each other, and that, of course, is the story. And it got worse. Karl began his piece with a comedic speed-up of video footage of the President making his way to the podium in Maryland, sort of like an old Charlie Chaplin movie. Then Karl said this:

Here we go again: We’ve got a serious president calling his opponents “crazy.”

Huh? Is that any way to start a report on the dangerous game being played by Republicans? Geeze.

Obviously, the President didn’t call anyone crazy, but he did say this:

All this would be funny if it wasn’t so crazy.  And a lot of it is just hot air.  A lot of it is just politics.  I understand that.  But now the tea party Republicans have taken it to a whole new level because they’re threatening either to shut down the government, or shut down the entire economy by refusing to let America pay its bills for the first time in history — unless I agree to gut a law that will help millions of people.

If Jonathan Karl had included that soundbite in his report, the public would have learned something important. But he didn’t, so they didn’t. What they learned was that the President called his opponents crazy, which he clearly didn’t do.

In any case, Karl pivoted to the Republican Party, who, he said, were “willing to go to the brink,” by making a lot of policy demands in exchange for a deal. He also used Jon Stewart to take a jab at Ted Cruz.

Then Karl accurately reported that the White House, sensibly, said it will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, but the reporter put his own ridiculous Beltway spin on it:

Over at the White House, they’ve decided the best way to strike a deal is not to try…Instead of negotiating, they are name-calling. Today one of the President’s top aides said of Republicans, quote, “What we’re not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest,” while Senator Ted Cruz compared those willing to fund ObamaCare with those who appeased the Nazis in the 1940s. That’s where we are, Dianne.

And there you have it. Both sides are equally unreasonable. Both sides are crass name-callers. Karl thinks, and wants his viewers to think, that both sides are engaging in “absurdities”—his word—and therefore both sides are guilty, should the government shut down or should we suffer an economic calamity related to not raising the debt ceiling.

That, my friends, is why Republicans in the House and Senate feel free to play dangerous games with the economy and the stability of the American financial system. That is why they are not afraid to fanatically embrace both their ignorance and ideology and use them to cause chaos in the capital. They understand that, when things turn sour, the Jonathan Karls of journalism will do their best to spread the blame around.

In the meantime, President Obama said on Thursday that as long as he is president,

The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. 

All we are really waiting on now, as Senator Patty Murray said today, is which hostage the Republicans are going to take in order to get their way: the government or the economy, or both. And if one or both of the hostages get shot, count on Beltway journalists to tell the public that the hostage-takers and the hostage-rescuers are both guilty of the crime.

What Would Ronaldus Magnus Do?

The segment below from Saint Rachel Maddow pretty much says it all about the irresponsibility of not raising the debt ceiling and how none other than Ronald Reagan dealt with the half-nuts in his own party who thought about using the threat of default as a political instrument in the 1980s. Democrats should talk about this, leftish bloggers should post this, liberal columnists should write about this, until we are safely, if we can get safely, past this artificial, ideologically-inspired crisis.

And by the way, Democrats should dope-slap the next dumb-ass journalist who says John Boehner an Mitch McConnell have “tough jobs.” They don’t. People who shovel asphalt for a living without health insurance have tough jobs. There ain’t a damn thing tough about keeping the country from defaulting, from stopping the ideological terrorists from blowing up the economy.

All Boehner has to do is allow a clean debt-ceiling bill to come to a vote in the House—it will pass with Democratic votes and a handful of sane Republicans—and all McConnell has to do is tell his Tea Party colleagues to STFU and let the bill pass, all the while encouraging yet another handful of sane Republicans to vote with Democrats to overcome a filibuster.

After all, the worst that can happen to either of them—loss of their jobs—is nothing compared to what will happen to the country if the suicide bombers get close enough to the full faith and credit of the United States to blow it up.

And if the two Republican leaders aren’t patriotic enough to risk their government jobs for the well-being of the country, may they be forever cursed with listening to never-ending audio loops of IQ-killing Sarah Palin and Ivy League-deflating Ted Cruz defending Jesus-loving Rush Limbaugh’sgreat time in the Dominican Republic,” compliments of a secret supply of Satan-sanctioned, sausage-swelling, slut-seducing Viagra. Amen.


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Roy Blunt And Republicans About To Exploit Public Ignorance

MSNBC’s star right-winger Joe Scarborough was all excited this morning about the fact that the chaos and confusion Republicans have been causing in Washington has finally started to pay dividends in the form of low approval ratings for the President:

obama job approval sept 2013

“Things are actually breaking our way for the first time in a couple of years,” Scarborough said of conservatives. Except things are not breaking their way. Bloomberg News, reporting on its own poll a few days ago, said the numbers for both Obama and the Republicans “are the worst ever for both.” So Scarborough was simply out of his mind.

But speaking of delusional thinking, perhaps the weirdest, most disconcerting moment on Morning Joe this morning was when Scarborough highlighted this frightening Bloomberg poll result:

debt ceiling result bloomberg

What was weird and disconcerting about the presentation of this particular poll result on Morning Joe was that no one seemed to be frightened by it. And if this poll result doesn’t frighten you, doesn’t scare the Cruz out of you, then you don’t understand what fooling around with not raising the debt ceiling will mean. (Go here to find out and then get really scared, and pissed, about the dangerous ignorance reflected in that Bloomberg poll.)

This dangerous ignorance on the part of the American people—which is partly the result of journalistic malpractice—would be harmless if it weren’t for the fact that it will undoubtedly encourage unhinged Republicans to exploit such ignorance and really push the United States into default, if they don’t get what they want. Just today Politico reported:

A large number of Senate and House Republicans are raising the threat of a debt default to curtail, delay or defund President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. It’s a major gamble — risking the prospect of a first-ever default on U.S. debt — but it’s one seriously being considered by the same Republicans who have refused to join Cruz’s filibuster attempt of the stopgap spending bill to keep the government running.

Not only that, Politico noted that Speaker Boehner “has compiled a debt hike bill with a bunch of goodies that they think House Republicans will vote for, and red state Senate Democrats won’t want to avoid.”

People may think Ted Cruz is a wild-eyed extremist—and he is—but the only thing that distinguishes him from the rest of the Republican Party in Congress is that he and a few others are wild-eyed anti-establishment extremists. The rest of them are wild-eyed establishment extremists who are willing to risk the full faith and credit of the United States to achieve what they could not achieve in the last election: ideological victory.

After not supporting the weird attempt by Ted Cruz to defund ObamaCare via a continuing resolution on the budget, Missouri’s Roy Blunt told Politico:

The debt ceiling provides more of an opportunity to get something than the [continuing resolution] does.

Got it? Using the threat of debt-default, using the threat of economic chaos here and around the world, dynamiting the full faith and credit of the United States, is an “opportunity to get something” says Roy Blunt.

This is dangerous territory. This is alarming stuff. This is Republican politics.

“Thank You! Thank You, Sam-I-Am”

It caught me by surprise.

Oh, sure, I was aware of the faux-filibuster that Senator Ted Cruz was conducting on C-SPAN. I even held my nose, gritted my teeth, and listened to some of it, the substance of which was either inexcusable ignorance or reprehensible lies, you pick. I don’t really care either way because the exercise has no real relevance to whether the government will be shutdown or continue on its merry way.

But when I saw, later Tuesday evening, that Cruz was reading from Green Eggs and Ham, I thought: What good is a Princeton-Harvard education, what good is the arrogance that such an education tends to spawn, if you can’t understand Dr. Seuss?

Dr. Seuss, of course, was the pen-name of Theodor Seuss Geisel, who wrote Green Eggs and Ham in 1960, a book that became one of the most popular children’s books in the history of publishing, one which most of us have either read, or have had others read to us.

The gist of the book is this: Sam-I-Am is ardently trying to get the anonymous narrator of the book to sample green eggs and ham, with the narrator, after offering much resistance (“I do not like green eggs and ham!”), finally succumbing and finally liking the strange dish (“I do so like green eggs and ham!).

How strange it was that a strange senator from Texas, using otherwise valuable C-SPAN air-time, read from a book that actually contradicts the reason he is using that valuable C-SPAN time and the reason he is conducting the phony filibuster: to please equally strange Tea Party conservatives.

In a stunningly wonderful book, Dr. Seuss and Philosophy: Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!, Randall E. Auxier wrote about Green Eggs and Ham:

We all know that there is something cool about this book. Even among the many works of genius created by Dr. Seuss, this one stands out. But the book is just silly, isn’t it? It was written on a bet, that Seuss couldn’t write a whole book using only fifty different words. And it has such a simple message, “You don’t know whether you like something until you try it.” Or maybe it’s “don’t be a contrarian.”

Now, how ironic is it that a man who claims that Americans shouldn’t try the green eggs and ham of ObamaCare, who claims that the green eggs and ham of ObamaCare will make us all sick, read to the nation from a book—written by a liberal Democrat, for God’s sake—that has as its simple message, “You don’t know whether you like something until you try it”?

Maybe there is a God, one with a penchant for embarrassing the most zealous of his alleged followers.

Fallacious Journalism, Circa 2013

About the news business, G. K. Chesterton once wrote:

GK ChestertonIt is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding…Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, “Mr. Wilkinson Still Safe,” or “Mr. Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet”…They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complete picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual.

That was written in 1910. If, like Ivy League-educated Ted Cruz, you have trouble with arithmetic, that’s more than 100 years ago. But I thought about that quote today, about the fact that journalists aren’t really in the business of reporting the usual or the unexceptional, after I read an article on Politico, a news outlet that has become the flagship of group-think Beltway journalism. The headline of the article was this:

At Kentucky state fair, fear and confusion over Obamacare

Now, the article was as much about the dedicated and earnest folks in Kentucky trying to give people accurate information and “sell Obamacare at the state fair,” as it was about the fear and confusion people are experiencing over the new law. But the headline was written to emphasize the “fear and confusion,” rather than champion those who are trying to allay the fear and clear up the confusion. Get it?

But that isn’t my biggest gripe about the article. In a piece that was obviously meant to highlight the real fear and confusion that exists over a fairly complicated government effort to help citizens get insurance and to prevent private insurers from screwing them at every turn, in a piece that ran over 900 words, there was one sentence—14 words!—about why there is so much fear and confusion about the law. And that one sentence was the next-to-last sentence in the piece:

And the opponents of the law are doing ample advertising on the other side.

That was it. After nearly 900 words about all the fear and confusion surrounding ObamaCare, that was all the writer had to say about what has undoubtedly caused much of that fear and confusion. That’s all the writer had to say about a massive and expensive disinformation campaign that various conservative interest groups and various right-wing pundits and various Republican politicians have waged for years now.

And the writer didn’t even bother to identify who “the opponents of the law” are, or mention that the “ample advertising” has been, at best, speculations about the horrors to come or, at worst, outright lies about what the law means. It’s as if a journalist was reporting on all those fleeing folks in Nairobi, Kenya, people frantically exiting a shopping mall full of fear and confusion, and the journalist never mentioned what the fuss was all about, never mentioned that terrorists had been shooting up the place.

I suppose the only excuse for such shoddy journalism is that right-wingers have been so diligent, so persistent in their war against ObamaCare, that it isn’t worth reporting on anymore. It’s commonplace. It’s mundane. The campaign of disinformation and lies against the Affordable Care Act is so normal and unnewsworthy that journalists don’t even bother to highlight it, much less identify the perpetrators or offer readers any details about how effective and destructive the campaign has been.

Right-wingers lying about ObamaCare is now like Chesterton’s man who has not fallen off a scaffolding, an event so usual, so ordinary, so run-of-the-mill, that it is ignored by journalists:

Hence the complete picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious.

[Chesterton photo credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images]

ObamaCare: No Surprises

On MSNBC this morning, I heard Pat Toomey, who as a United States Senator represents the reactionary and regressive Club for Growth rather than actual people, say:

ObamaCare is extremely unpopular. No surprise. Employers are dropping coverage, small employers are not hiring people…

It is no surprise that many people don’t like the Affordable Care Act because it is no surprise that people like Pat Toomey and other like-minded Republicans go on television and lie about it constantly. And it’s no surprise that the reason these right-wingers go on television and lie about it is because they don’t want it to work, don’t want it to do what it was designed to do: keep insurance companies from screwing Americans and provide health insurance to those who don’t now have it.

So, with no surprises and with the understanding that the ACA has its problems—what should we expect from an idea largely dreamed up by Republicans?—allow me to address the claims Toomey made this morning one at a time:

1) There is little evidence that “employers are dropping coverage” because of the ACA. In fact, much of the evidence so far goes the other way. Using a Wonkblog post from May, I will summarize the available evidence:

♦ The employer mandate (which has been delayed until 2015) in the ACA only applies to businesses that employ more than 50 workers. Get this: Out of the 5.7 million businesses in the U.S., only 210,000 have more than 50 employees, which means that 96% of businesses aren’t even affected by the employer mandate. Additionally, many of those small businesses that don’t employ more than 50 workers are eligible for tax credits between 35% and 50% of the cost of insurance coverage for their employees, which may cause some of those businesses to begin offering coverage to their workers.

♦ The Massachusetts experiment with health care reform, on which ObamaCare is extensively modeled, shows that rather than dropping health insurance for employees, businesses actually expanded coverage. That’s right. They expanded coverage in Massachusetts even while nationally employers were dropping employee health insurance coverage. Here it is in graph form:

And this expansion happened even though the Massachusetts reforms contained a tiny penalty—$295 per worker—for businesses who dropped insurance coverage. The Affordable Care Act has a substantially higher penalty that ranges from $2,000 to $3,000 for every employee in the company. Again, businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from having to provide health insurance at all.

♦ Wonkblog makes perhaps the most important point of all about employer-provided health insurance by noting that,

…people simply misunderstand why employers offer health-care benefits. They’re not doing it as a favor to employees. And they’re not doing it because anyone is making them…Employers offer health insurance because employees demand it. If you’re an employer who doesn’t offer insurance and your competitors do, you’ll lose out on the most talented workers. An employer who stopped offering health benefits would see his best employees immediately start looking for other jobs.

2) Toomey’s second claim, that “small employers are not hiring people,” is also not supported by the evidence, if by evidence one means employment data. Pat Toomey is not an economist but Mark Zandi is. And in a USA Today article, which was reporting on the growing payrolls among small businesses, the paper included comments from Zandi:

The gains are beginning to shift the terms of the debate over the health care law. Under the law, businesses with 50-plus full-time-equivalent workers must offer insurance to people working 30 hours a week beginning in 2015. That mandate, originally slated for 2014, has not deterred hiring as feared, some economists now say.

As more data come in, the law’s impact can’t be seen in hiring statistics, says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

“I was expecting to see it. I was looking for it, and it’s not there,” says Zandi, whose firm manages ADP’s surveys of overall private-sector job creation. If the Affordable Care Act “were causing a drop, you would see meaningful slowing.”

So, there is no discernible ObamaCare effect, as of yet, in hiring data. And the USA Today article also noted that,

New research from Moody’s and other economists also challenges the idea that small employers are hiring only part-time workers to avoid falling under the health care law’s mandate to insure full-time workers.

Zandi himself tried to make that same point to the Obama-haters on CNBC recently. He tried to tell those hard-heads that recent employment data don’t show an increase in part-time employment designed to get around the 30-hour-per-week threshold that triggers the requirement to provide insurance coverage. CNBC’s unhinged Rick Santelli told Zandi he didn’t believe the numbers and had already made up his mind that ObamaCare was hurting job growth, and then Santelli called Zandi an “apologist for the policy.” That’s how debates with Obama-haters go these days. Don’t confuse those folks with the facts. They don’t want to hear anything that counters their ideological beliefs.

In any case, none of this is to say that ObamaCare will have no effect on decisions employers make. There is anecdotal evidence aplenty that some businesses will cut back health insurance coverage and cut workers hours below “full time” in order to prove to the world that the Affordable Care Act is not, well, affordable. To what extent that anecdotal evidence represents a significant trend is currently unknown, as left-of-center economists Jared Bernstein and Paul Van de Water admitted in a piece they wrote for Politico last month (“Obamacare isn’t destroying jobs”):

The fact is, it’s too early to know how health reform will ultimately affect the amount of part-time work. But there’s every reason to expect the impact will be small.

Meanwhile, the Obama-haters continue to lie about the Affordable Care Act in some form or another. Pastor Rafael Cruz, Ted’s dad, told a gathering of zealous fundamentalists this summer:

Our lives are under attack. We already saw what is happening with abortion. The same thing is happening at the other end with ObamaCare. ObamaCare is going to destroy the elderly by denying care, by even perhaps denying treatment of people that have catastrophic sicknesses.

Now, that is crazy talk, I’ll grant you. But it is common crazy talk among conservatives. And, sadly, there probably isn’t anything that anyone can say to such people to convince them they have lost touch with reality. But I want to at least note that some people are trying to talk sense to such folks. John Fugelsang, actor, comedian, political commentator, recently challenged critics of ObamaCare, particularly its Jesus-loving critics, this way:

If people don’t like ObamaCare—I respect some of the folks on the left who would have rather seen single-payer—I agree there’s problems with it, the thing is so watered down Dick Cheney could pour it on a guy’s face in Gitmo, but the fact is that a lot of our moralizing friends who try to repeal it don’t understand:

If you’re afraid of the competition that comes from exchanges or cheaper Canadian drugs or a public option, stop calling yourself a capitalist.

And if you don’t care about 45,000 Americans dying every year because they’re not insured, stop calling yourself a patriot.

And if you don’t want to have a part in healing the sick, find a new name for your religion. It’s time to stop calling yourself a Christian.

Here is the entire entertaining segment on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” on which Fugelsang made those remarks:

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Three Things Democrats Should Say To The Ideological Terrorists Among Us

It appears Democrats are ready to fight and not back down this time.

First Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called them “anarchists.” Then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called them “legislative arsonists.” And on Saturday night President Obama, visibly energized to do battle with Republicans in Congress, said the following at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Phoenix Awards Dinner:

You look at it right now — the other day, House Republicans voted to cut $40 billion in nutritional aid for struggling families at the same time as some of the same folks who took that vote are receiving subsidies themselves. So farm subsidies for folks at the top are okay; help feeding your child is somehow not.

I know the CBC, led by outstanding Chairwoman Marcia Fudge, fought hard to protect those programs that keep so many children from going hungry. And now we’re seeing an extreme faction of these folks convincing their leadership to threaten to shut down the government if we don’t shut down the Affordable Care Act. Some of them are actually willing to see the United States default on its obligations and plunge this country back into a painful recession if they can’t deny the basic security of health care to millions of Americans.

Now, I think — this is an interesting thing to ponder, that your top agenda is making sure 20 million people don’t have health insurance. And you’d be willing to shut down the government and potentially default for the first time in United States history because it bothers you so much that we’re actually going to make sure that everybody has affordable health care.

Let me say as clearly as I can: It is not going to happen. We have come too far. We’ve overcome far darker threats than those. We will not negotiate over whether or not America should keep its word and meet its obligations. We’re not going to allow anyone to inflict economic pain on millions of our own people just to make an ideological point. And those folks are going to get some health care in this country — we’ve been waiting 50 years for it.

Democrats in Washington should repeat President Obama’s three lines every time they are asked about the issue:

“It is not going to happen.”

“We will not negotiate over whether or not America should keep its word and meet its obligations.”

“We’re not going to allow anyone to inflict economic pain on millions of our own people just to make an ideological point.”

We’re about a week away from the end of the fiscal year, which is the first if-Democrats-don’t-give-them-what-they-want-Republicans-will-kill-the-hostage deadline. Soon after will come the debt ceiling deadline. We shall see whether Democrats do in fact negotiate with the hostage-takers in the Republican Party or finally decide to say enough is enough. I don’t believe Republican leadership is stupid enough to ultimately do what they are threatening to do, but I do believe they can move the debate much further to the right, and thus move the end result much further to the right, than Democrats should accept.

Don’t fall for it, Democrats. Don’t allow ideological terrorists—what else do you call people who, as President Obama said, want “to inflict economic pain on millions of our own people just to make an ideological point”?—to win even the smallest battle in the war they started in 2011. Just keep repeating:

“It is not going to happen.”

“We will not negotiate over whether or not America should keep its word and meet its obligations.”

“We’re not going to allow anyone to inflict economic pain on millions of our own people just to make an ideological point.”

Food Stamp Vote: “Beyond Shameless,” “Rock Bottom,” “A New Low,” “Outright Cruelty”

I was working on a post to explain what the Republican Party, via the House of Representatives, did to needy people on Thursday, many of them victims of Republican economics that led to the financial meltdown in 2008, but MSNBC’s Chris Hayes did it all for me. And he has moving pictures!

Watch the segments below (about seven minutes each) and you will know all you need to know about how far the GOP has fallen—except that Hayes doesn’t mention that Ozark Billy Long, here in needy Southwest Missouri, was one of the 217 Republicans, barely enough to pass the bill, who voted to continue the Republican Party’s War On The Poor:

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