Friday, December 17, 2010


Are John Boehner's tears fair game for Post satire?

Are John Boehner's tears fair game for Post satire?

By Andy Alexander
John Boehner’s well-known tendency to weep makes him an easy target for satire or ridicule. He broke down twice in interviews last Sunday on "60 Minutes," crying when talking about preserving the American dream for children and again when discussing his marriage with his wife at his side. Amid the extensive dissection that followed on talk shows and the Internet, there were quite a few jokes at his expense (“Weeper of the House,” etc.).
The Post decided early this week to get in on the fun. From a “Why Boehner was crying” link on the homepage, readers were invited to submit photo "mashups," superimposing an image of a wet-eyed Boehner onto the image of something that might have prompted those tears. The Post selected more than a dozen mashups for an online gallery. In one, he's depicted watching the tear-jerker Disney classic “Old Yeller.” Another shows him crying at the image of Bristol Palin on “Dancing with the Stars.” Another has the perennially tanned politician weeping at the image of a tanning bed with an “out of order” sign. Yet another shows a glass of spilled milk.
They’re funny. But is crying fair game?

“Politicians can be made fun of, period,” said Tom Lutz, author of the 1999 book Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears. “Laughing, like crying, is a form of communication,” Lutz said. “And so, all is fair.”
Several readers disagreed. Two called to say it proved The Post has an anti-Republican bias. Another accused The Post of trying to generate Web site traffic by exploiting what she saw as Boehner’s “emotional problem.” A few Post newsroom staffers contacted me to express concern or ask my thoughts.
I agree with Lutz that Boehner, like all politicians, is fair game. I also think it’s important for The Post to experiment with these forms of audience engagement. There’s nothing wrong with being creative and inviting readers to share in some satire.
But although the Boehner mashups made me laugh, they seemed slightly juvenile and not quite in sync with The Post brand. By being featured on the homepage -- even though in the “Discussions” section, reserved for sharing viewpoints -- they seemed to carry the message that The Post, institutionally, had decided to make fun of Boehner's crying.
Hal Straus, one of The Post’s top online editors, whose group conceived the idea, disagreed. “I think it was a pretty good feature, and certainly one that was considered carefully,” he said. Straus noted that a look at Google search trends the day after the “60 Minutes” program showed robust discussion about Boehner’s crying. With that in mind, he said, The Post was eager to find a way to enter the “digital discussion.”
"A politician’s behavior is a fair topic for conversation,” he said. “We’re giving readers as many opportunities as we can to react in smart, creative ways.”
“We are very conscious of the need to deal with politicians and Washington subjects,” he added, “but not to do it in a partisan fashion.”
To avoid inevitable claims that The Post was picking on Boehner for partisan reasons, the feature might have included politicians from both parties who have had notable crying experiences. Even then, however, there’s the implication that there’s something wrong with crying.
As Post columnist Ruth Marcus wrote on Wednesday: “These days, male politicians enjoy the freedom to weep – a bit, anyway. The time when Edmund Muskie’s presidential campaign could be torpedoed by a few tears – or, perhaps, melting snowflakes – is long past. Tears are humanizing. I defy you to watch Boehner struggling to hold in his sobs and not like him better for it.”
But for the most part, Marcus said, female politicians “still have to hold it in.” They “understand that it’s treacherous to show any weakness or vulnerability.”
Writing about Boehner in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times, Lutz said in an op-ed: “One of our fondest cultural myths... is that crying is a sign of sincerity or authentic feeling. No matter what we may know of crocodile tears, we continue to read weeping as a sign of true, pure emotion. All the research suggests something else entirely.
“Crying is often the sign of excruciatingly mixed emotion. Take the mother who cries at her daughter's wedding: She may be happy about the marriage and flooded with positive emotions — feelings of role fulfillment, of accomplishment, of pride, of happiness for her daughter. At the same time, she feels a sense of loss: A part of her life is over; she is losing not only a daughter but a purpose, a role.”
“Boehner's tears aren't hard to read,” he continued. “After analyzing hundreds of psychological experiments and sociological studies of weeping, hundreds of accounts of crying in different cultures and different historical periods, thousands of tearful moments in film and fiction and art, I have come to see that, like the mother of the bride, many of us weep because we are overwhelmed by contradictions.”
In an e-mail to me, Lutz said that Boehner weeps when he talks about children “because he knows that his policies work against today’s children being able to chase the American Dream as successfully as he did. When he worked his way through college for 7 years, the minimum wage was worth, in 2006 dollars, over $10 an hour. He voted against raising it from $5.15 an hour in 2006. He reached his American Dream because of the New Deal, New Frontier, Great Society America of his youth, and he is bent now on destroying that America and replacing it with the America of Warren G. Harding. No wonder he weeps.”
Lutz also noted the evolution of crying by politicians. “In the19th century weeping was considered one of the basic oratorical skills. Lincoln cried on the stump, and so did Douglas,” he wrote.
“When Muskie was chased out of the race in 1972, it was Bob Dole who led the charge (he was chair of the RNC at the time), saying it proved he was unstable, not tough enough to be president, and Dole himself never cried at political events in his first 45 years in politics.
“But after Bill Clinton made tearfulness popular again (it tracked well, especially with women voters), Bob Dole learned to cry at political events himself, and did so repeatedly in his 1996 campaign. I would be interested to hear if Boehner has ever cried on a golf course; I think his tears are more strategic (and this does not mean they are not sincere, or he is just acting; strategic in the sense that he decides it is okay to show them) than people are saying.”
By Andy Alexander  | December 16, 2010; 1:49 PM ET


When he's the leader of a political party that constantly takes actions and words out of context and distorts and deceives. Dean's yell, Dukakis's rape comment, Rev. Wrights sermons? Absolutely fair game.
Why aren't we seeing constant replay of cry-baby Boehner handing out Corporate lobbying checks on the House floor?? Paid to endlessly repeat Gingrich talking points and protect his corporate benefactor's interests.
Go get him, he's an embarrassment to America!
Posted by: thebobbob | December 17, 2010 12:27 AM | Report abuse
It's not the fact that's he crying, it's the reason for it. If a truck ran over his grandmother or he fell face-first into a fireplace, that might be a good reason for crying. But to routinely cry about the fact that he had to work his way through school, or that not everybody agrees with his smug wisdom on public policy issues, betrays a basic lack of maturity and self-control. Soldiers come back from Afghanistan without arms and legs, and they don't cry, at least not in public. But this pampered clown weeps on the floor of Congress? It is calculated and manipulative. The Republicans would be ashamed, if they were capable of it.
Posted by: none12 | December 17, 2010 2:34 PM 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010



GOP frosh: Where's my health care?
By: Glenn Thrush
November 15, 2010 09:54 PM EST

A conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in.

Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.

“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. The benefits session, held behind closed doors, drew about 250 freshman members, staffers and family members to the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium late Monday morning,”.

“Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” added the aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.

Harris, a Maryland state senator who works at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and several hospitals on the Eastern Shore, also told the audience, “This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed,” his spokeswoman Anna Nix told POLITICO.

Under COBRA law, Harris can pay a premium to extend his current health insurance an additional month.

Nix said Harris, who is the father of five, wasn’t being hypocritical – he was just pointing out the inefficiency of government-run health care.

Harris hammered Kratovil on health care throughout a bitter fall campaign, despite the fact that the conservative Democrat voted twice against the reform package backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), a close Kratovil ally.

“Although he voted against Obamacare, Mr. Kratovil refuses to commit to its repeal. Dr. Harris understands that the Obama-Pelosi-Hoyer agenda threatens to pull the plug on America's long-term health," Harris said in an Oct. 30 statement. “"In Washington, I will never vote to raise taxes, I will fight to repeal health-care reform, and I will work to balance the budget."

© 2010 Capitol News Company, LLC

Thursday, November 11, 2010


If I had the congressman's health plan, I might think the US has the best in the world, too.  If John Boehner had my high premiums and lousy benefits on the only health plan I can get, he might reconsider.  Here's what David G Markham thinks:

JOHN BOEHNER is wrong.  America does not have the best health care in the world.


The Facts - Boehner is wrong - The US does not have the best health care in the world
I am tired of the lies. It's time that Americans of which Brockporters are a local contingent know the truth.

In spite of what John Boehner new Republican speaker of the house says, health care in the United States is not the best in the world. In fact, it leaves a tremendous amount to be desired.

As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said one time, "People are entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

From now on there will be a new category of posts on this blog tagged simply, "The Facts"

From the New England Journal of Medicine on January 6, 2010

"It is hard to ignore that in 2006, the United States was number 1 in terms of health care spending per capita but ranked 39th for infant mortality, 43rd for adult female mortality, 42nd for adult male mortality, and 36th for life expectancy.3 These facts have fueled a question now being discussed in academic circles, as well as by government and the public: Why do we spend so much to get so little?"
Posted by David G. Markham at 7:38 PM  
Labels: The facts

FOLLOW THE LEADER, by Tom Toles, Washington Post


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Modest (Very Responsible Centrist) Plan to save America from the Muslims

Here’s The Most Fun Aspect Of John Boehner’s Health Plan!

Now now, liberals, you can no longer smugly declare in political arguments, “the Republicans don’t even have a health care plan,” because they do! John Boehner released the GOP alternative plan a few days ago, and the CBO scored it, to much fanfare. It is but a modest (Very Responsible Centrist) plan to save America from the Muslims. One of its central tenets — and the health care thing you’ve been hearing Republicans blab on about most, after they’ve exhausted tort reform — is to allow consumers to purchase health care plans across state lines. Doesn’t that sound nice, for competition and pricing? But what if… what if many of the health insurers then set up shop in the “state” of the Northern Marianas, where there is not a single law against anything?

No one really trusted the Republicans when they claimed their plan would introduce new regulations regarding coverage of people with pre-existing conditions, elimination of lifetime caps, etc. This might be one reason why (sorry if it gets wonky, THIS STUFF IS IMPORTANT, THE GOP PLAN MIGHT PASS!):

Under Title III ‘State’ is defined as the fifty states, D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Marianas (p.122). Insurers are allowed to designate any ‘State’ as their ‘Primary State’ which if we go back to p.199 is defined: “the term ‘primary State’ means with respect to individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer, the State designated by the issuer whose covered laws shall govern the health insurance issuer in the sale of such coverage under this part”. On page 121 we see that ‘covered laws’ include such ‘laws, rules, regulations’ governing among other things the ‘offer, sale, rating (including medical underwriting), renewal and issuance of individual health insurance to an individual’.

After a few pages of excruciating bureaucratese we come to the following on page 126: “The covered laws of the primary State shall apply to individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer in the primary State and in any secondary state,” And this is backed up by some mandatory disclosure language on page 130 that warns insurees that their new policy is not subject to any laws of the state in which it is purchased including those which might require “SOME SERVICES OR BENEFITS MANDATED BY THE LAW OF THE STATE”. “ADDITIONALLY THIS POLICY IS NOT SUBJECT TO ALL THE CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWS AND RESTRICTIONS ON RATE CHANGES OF THE STATE”. (CAPS in original).

Now this language is followed by a bunch more pages setting out rules about lawsuits and appeals but the bottom line is pretty clear: should private insurers choose they can officially choose the Virgin Islands or the Northern Marianas as the governing jurisdiction for all their individual insurance policies and their [sic] is basically nothing the states of California, New York or Washington can do about it.

This is not to suggest that there aren’t endless streams of loopholes in every Democratic bill. But probably not nearly as many! Sometimes it takes 1,990 pages to weed them out.
Sweatshop Insurance: O’Boehner Care & the Northern Marianas [MyDD via Think Progress]

Read more at Wonkette: Here’s The Most Fun Aspect Of John Boehner’s Health Plan!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

John Boehner wants to sit on my Death Panel?

Boehner's health delusion
By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, November 9, 2010;

With a John Boehner speakership fast approaching, I dutifully read up on the man. I learned he is a Midwestern fellow, born (like us all) into the virtuous lower middle class, one of 12 siblings and a man whose early career, in an unironic homage to "The Graduate," was in plastics. What I did not know - what was missing entirely from my reading - is that he might be French.

Or Japanese. Or Finnish or British or even German. Whatever the case, this much is clear: No American, certainly not one about to occupy a leadership position in our government, could possibly call the American health-care system "the best health care system in the world." Boehner did just that last week. He was having an out-of-country experience.

For statistical refutation, we need only refer to the CIA's World Factbook (no lefty think tank, to be sure) and check the health statistics. The United States is 49th in life expectancy. Our proud nation bests the Libyans in this category but not Japan, France, Spain, Britain or, of course, Italy. You not only live about two years longer in Italy, but you eat better, too.

The same doleful situation applies to infant mortality. This is the saddest of all categories since it relates to infants who don't make it to their first birthday. The CIA tells us that the nations that do the worst in this category are, not surprisingly, mostly in Africa. Then comes much of Asia and parts of South America, but when you start getting up there a bit, Cuba does better than the United States and so do Italy, Hungary, Greece, Canada, Portugal, Britain, Australia and Israel, among others. This should be an embarrassment to us all - but, clearly, it is not. To Boehner, these figures - infants dying before they can get a cupcake with a single candle - don't exist. Rather than improve the situation, he might want to cut the CIA's appropriation.

Looking elsewhere - think tanks, etc. - Boehner might come across a category that health-care expert and former Post reporter T.R. Reid labels "avoidable mortality." Among the richest nations, the United States is 19th of 19. America is awful at treating asthma, diabetes and kidney disease. If you have any of these, it's just your bad luck that you're not Japanese or French . . . or, really, anything other than American. The United States does do well with breast and prostate cancer, but these are represented by politically potent lobbies. See, we can do better when we want to.

Boehner's Panglossian sentiment is shared by Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader who has vowed to roll back the Obama health-care program. If McConnell thinks America has the best of all health systems, who can blame him? When in 2003 he underwent heart bypass surgery, it was at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. This is a government facility staffed by government employees - what is sometimes called socialized medicine. His heart did fine, but he left the hospital untreated for Rampant Endemic Hypocrisy, a communicable disease that has swept the GOP and left it vulnerable to irrationality. Michele Bachmann, who peddled the absurdity that President Obama's overseas trip was costing $200 million a day, stands in mortal peril of succumbing to it.

Almost 51 million Americans lack health insurance. They postpone treatment, seeking it at the last minute from emergency rooms - never a pleasant experience, never a cheap experience and often too late. Obama's health-care bill was meant to address this problem, among others. It was not a perfect bill and it may turn out to be the wrong way to go. But a difference in approach, even a difference in ideology, cannot change the need for reform. The United States spends upward of 17 percent of its gross domestic product on health care. European nations spend about 8 percent - and their citizens are actually healthier. Republicans oppose Obamacare. Fine. But where is their plan? Not the lauded status quo. As we can see, that's a terminal disease.

For Democrats, there's hope in Boehner's chirpy pronouncement. It shows a GOP out of touch with reality, a party of Marie Antoinettes, babbling total nonsense about health care. The same swing voters who used the election to hurt the Democrats might learn that America's health-care system is No. 1 only in health-related bankruptcies. It is best in the world only for the rich and the amply insured. Everyone else can crawl away, unseen by the next speaker of the House of Representatives - a jolly, detached fellow who thinks he lives in another country entirely.