TN GOP State Rep.: Some People Pay For Health Care With Vegetables

Via TPM

It turns out that Senate candidate Sue Lowden (R-NV) is not the only politician out there who has promoted the idea of the barter system as part of health care. Yet another pro-barter Republican, state Rep. Mike Bell (R-TN), has been talking up the practices of Mennonites who pay doctors with vegetables.

Bell's made his comments last week, during discussion of a proposed state law that would attempt to nullify the federal health care insurance mandate in the state of Tennessee. Here is a transcript of a dialogue in committee between Bell and Democratic state Rep. Joe Towns, courtesy of the Nashville Scene, as Bell explained that many people get along without insurance:

Bell: They're some of the healthiest people you have ever seen. They pay cash when they go to the doctor. They work out arrangements with the hospitals if their children have to be hospitalized. This is an individual choice that we're talking about.
Towns: You're saying they pay cash? For organ transplants and cancer and heart cases, they pay cash?

Bell: I said they pay cash or work out other arrangements. I know for a fact. I know someone in the medical field who has been paid with vegetables from the Mennonite community.

Towns: That's an anomaly. That's not how the system works. I can't take a sack of vegetables down to the utility company and pay my utility bill on my house. Nobody's going to take vegetables for payment. We can't run the country on vegetables and horse trading.

The GOP has been struggling to find a coherent strategy for how to address the new health care law. The official slogan is "Repeal and Replace," but there is in fact division over whether to fully repeal the law, and just how far to go. And it appears that some people may want to go all the way back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

Why Are Republicans Mum On Financial Regulation?

Via DailyDish

Chait has a theory:

It's difficult to work out a free market response. If you let Wall Street invest however it likes, it will eventually precipitate a financial crisis, with massive government intervention being the only option to save the economy. Or else you can break up the big banks, or limit their ability to take on systemic risk. Either way, government has to get involved at some step in the process. It almost seems like conservatives can't choose which form of government intervention to accept, so many of them just aren't choosing.

My view is that conservatism has become so reflexively anti-government that it has nothing to say on the pressing questions of the hour, most of which require some - smart and narrowly tailored - government action. Adam Smith would have no trouble re=regulating Wall Street. Why is the GOP so gun-shy?

The Big Admission?

Via TPM

RNC Chairman Michael Steele: "For the last 40-plus years we had a 'Southern Strategy' that alienated many minority voters by focusing on the white male vote in the South."

Greg Sargent has more:

A lot of people are pointing to a new set of remarks Michael Steele made about the Republican Party and race, in which Steele acknowledged that the GOP hasn’t given African Americans a reason to support the party.

But I think folks are missing the real news in what Steele said. The RNC chairman also appeared to acknowledge that the GOP has had a race-based “southern strategy” for four decades, which is decidedly not a historical interpretation many Republicans agree with.

Steele made his remarks at DePaul University on Tuesday night. He acknowledged that “we haven’t done a very good job” of giving African Americans a reason to vote Republican. That’s actually unremarkable. But here’s what he also said:

“We have lost sight of the historic, integral link between the party and African-Americans,” Steele said. “This party was co-founded by blacks, among them Frederick Douglass. The Republican Party had a hand in forming the NAACP, and yet we have mistreated that relationship. People don’t walk away from parties. Their parties walk away from them.

“For the last 40-plus years we had a ‘Southern Strategy’ that alienated many minority voters by focusing on the white male vote in the South. Well, guess what happened in 1992, folks, ‘Bubba’ went back home to the Democratic Party and voted for Bill Clinton.”

I’m not sure this is an interpretation most Republicans would agree with. The standard line is that, yes, Nixon did employ a “southern strategy.” But most Republicans would strongly contest the idea that Reagan tried to use racial division for electoral gain, an idea advanced by liberals who point out that Reagan opened his 1980 presidential campaign in the town where Civil Rights workers were murdered.

Similarly, many Republicans would reject the claim that Republican candidates like George H.W. Bush engaged in a race-based strategy with the Willie Horton ads, or that Bush the Younger or John McCain engaged in subtle race-based appeals.

But here you have the chairman of the Republican National Committee saying, in effect, that liberals are right to have argued that Republicans have used race for political gain for the last four decades. Seems significant.

Tea Partiers In Tax Day Protests Try To Explain Why They're Against Obama

Via Nicholas Graham

A correspondent for New Left Media ventured out among the tea partiers during their tax day protests in Washington D.C. to interview them about what it is that's fueling their fierce opposition to to the government in general and President Obama in particular.

Suffice to say, the answers involve lots of wild-eyed claims about tyranny and socialism. Highlights include a woman gravely warning "Obama is considering banning fishing in America," as well as another dressed in a ball and chain outfit to illustrate how our liberties are being constrained.

WATCH: (Via Buzzfeed)

Michele Bachmann Convinced Bill Clinton Wants Her Dead

Via Pareene


Because Bill Clinton politely asked fringe conservatives to stop encouraging violence against the government on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, Michele Bachmann has decided that he wants to "take her out." In a killing sense. Not romantically.

The Minnesota congresswoman is a lot smarter than Sarah Palin, and a bit crazier, placing her not far from Glenn Beck in the "crazy/stupid/dangerous matrix" we have constructed in our head. So it's not surprising that she's borrowing a page from Glenn Beck's "charismatic cult leader" handbook.

According to research done by James Carville's polling group, women who watch Glenn Beck's show share a "common fear" for his "personal safety" and they believe that he's literally putting his life in danger by revealing the inner secrets of liberals and Barack Obama. This is why Glenn's writing a political thriller.

So Michele's trying this out herself. It's a bizarre new addition to the ancient and boring conservative martyr fixation: liberals are not just trying to demean and insult and silence conservative heroes, they are now actually attempting to destroy or kill them.

In reality, Representative Bachmann called our democratically elected president and mostly representative congress a "gangster government," conjuring images of a violent coup. (It's part of the fringe Conservative obsession with "thugs" and "thuggish behavior" and Obama's "thugocracy"—nothing racially charged about that language!)

And that led to this fairly mild quote from former president Clinton:

"They are not gangsters," Mr. Clinton said. "They were elected. They are not doing anything they were not elected to do."

And here's Bachmann's response:

"I'm in my second term as a Congresswoman and the former president of the United States decides I'm important enough to take me out!"

See, Michele, no one said anything about "taking you out." That's paranoia. And narcissism! You should probably be "taken out" to a psychiatric hospital, but that is just this blogger's opinion, and not the opinion of Barack Obama's Thuggish Gangsterocracy.

Bring a Chicken!

Via TPM

I'm not quite sure what to make of this. A couple weeks ago our Eric Kleefeld came up with video showing Nevada Senate candidate Sue Lowden suggesting that "bartering" for medical care would be a good way to rein in spiraling health care costs.

I mocked her with the headline: "I bid three chickens for that MRI!" But I sort of figured she'd rethink that plan after her advisors sat her down for a moment and explained the concept of a cash economy or maybe if she found out what 'barter' meant. But it turns out that she was serious. Not just serious. She was actually thinking about payment in chickens too.

Yesterday she told a local news program: "I'm telling you that this works. You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor."

I'm always troubled by these moments when my sarcasm and snark is outpaced by the ugly reality. See the video here.

PS. If you want to hear something really funny. This woman's probably going to be the freshman senator from Nevada next January. Think she'll be for repeal? I wager five chickens!

Halperin Takes A Stand

Via PlumLine

It isn’t every day that a consummate inside-game reporter/pundit type like Mark Halperin aggressively calls out one party for lying, but that’s exactly what Halperin did early this morning on MSNBC, talking about the GOP claim that the Dem financial reg reform bill will lead to a permanent bailout. Per the transcript:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Just this once, defend the Republican position.

MARK HALPERIN: I cannot defend what they’re doing.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Oh, please.

SCARBOROUGH: Look at you! Look at you!

[CROSSTALK]

HALPERIN: They are willfully misreading the bill or they are engaged in a cynical attempt to keep the president from achieving something.

Note how appalled Scarborough is. Also, a bit later in the broadcast, White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee added this about the GOP claim about permanent bailouts:

Everybody knows a consultant just handed them that line and they’re just reading it. It doesn’t matter what’s in the bill. It could be a bill about breakfast cereal and they’re going to say this is a bailout bill.

The point here is that Halperin is taking a stand, saying, in effect, that the GOP position is wrong and that the Goolsbee position is right. Video soon.

Update: Here’s the video. Don’t miss Scarborough’s manic arm-waving: