Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds," October 30, 1938

The original broadcast (51 minutes, 15 seconds). Interrupting the sounds of Ramón Raquello and his orchestra. Click here for the transcript (from, a site well worth examining).

Some excerpts:
PHILLIPS: Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed . . . Wait a minute! Someone's crawling out of the hollow top. Someone or . . . something. I can see peering out of that black hole two luminous disks . . are they eyes? It might be a face. It might be . . .
PHILLIPS: Good heavens, something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now it's another one, and another. They look like tentacles to me. There, I can see the thing's body. It's large, large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather. But that face, it . . . Ladies and gentlemen, it's indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate. The monster or whatever it is can hardly move. It seems weighed down by . . . possibly gravity or something. The thing's raising up. The crowd falls back now. They've seen plenty. This is the most extraordinary experience. I can't find words . . . I'll pull this microphone with me as I talk. I'll have to stop the description until I can take a new position.
ANNOUNCER TWO: Ladies and gentlemen, I have just been handed a message that came in from Grovers Mill by telephone. Just a moment. At least forty people, including six state troopers lie dead in a field east of the village of Grovers Mill, their bodies burned and distorted beyond all possible recognition. The next voice you hear will be that of Brigadier General Montgomery Smith, commander of the state militia at Trenton, New Jersey.
SMITH: I have been requested by the governor of New Jersey to place the counties of Mercer and Middlesex as far west as Princeton, and east to Jamesburg, under martial law. No one will be permitted to enter this area except by special pass issued by state or military authorities. Four companies of state militia are proceeding from Trenton to Grovers Mill, and will aid in the evacuation of homes within the range of military operations. Thank you.
CAPTAIN: This is Captain Lansing of the signal corps, attached to the state militia now engaged in military operations in the vicinity of Grovers Mill. Situation arising from the reported presence of certain individuals of unidentified nature is now under complete control. The cylindrical object which lies in a pit directly below our position is surrounded on all sides by eight battalions of infantry. Without heavy field pieces, but adequately armed with rifles and machine guns. All cause for alarm, if such cause ever existed, is now entirely unjustified. The things, whatever they are, do not even venture to poke their heads above the pit. I can see their hiding place plainly in the glare of the searchlights here. With all their reported resources, these creatures can scarcely stand up against heavy machine-gun fire. Anyway, it's an interesting outing for the troops. I can make out their khaki uniforms, crossing back and forth in front of the lights. It looks almost like a real war. There appears to be some slight smoke in the woods bordering the Millstone River. Probably fire started by campers. Well, we ought to see some action soon. One of the companies is deploying on the left flank. An quick thrust and it will all be over. Now wait a minute! I see something on top of the cylinder. No, it's nothing but a shadow. Now the troops are on the edge of the Wilmuth farm. Seven thousand armed men closing in on an old metal tube. Wait, that wasn't a shadow! It's something moving . . . solid metal . . . kind of shieldlike affair rising up out of the cylinder . . . It's going higher and higher. Why, it's standing on legs . . . actually rearing up on a sort of metal framework. Now it's reaching above the trees and the searchlights are on it. Hold on!
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, I have a grave announcement to make. Incredible as it may seem, both the observations of science and the evidence of our eyes lead to the inescapable assumption that those strange beings who landed in the Jersey farmlands tonight are the vanguard of an invading army from the planet Mars. The battle which took place tonight at Grovers Mill has ended in one of the most startling defeats ever suffered by any army in modern times; seven thousand men armed with rifles and machine guns pitted against a single fighting machine of the invaders from Mars. One hundred and twenty known survivors. The rest strewn over the battle area from Grovers Mill to Plainsboro, crushed and trampled to death under the metal feet of the monster, or burned to cinders by its heat ray. The monster is now in control of the middle section of New Jersey and has effectively cut the state through its center. Communication lines are down from Pennsylvania to the Atlantic Ocean. Railroad tracks are torn and service from New York to Philadelphia discontinued except routing some of the trains through Allentown and Phoenixville. Highways to the north, south, and west are clogged with frantic human traffic. Police and army reserves are unable to control the mad flight. By morning the fugitives will have swelled Philadelphia, Camden, and Trenton, it is estimated, to twice their normal population. At this time martial law prevails throughout New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.
More beneath the break.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Right-Wing States Reject Medicaid Expansion

Click here for an article in The American Prospect entitled The Cruelty of Republican States in One Chart, by Paul Waldman.

Obamacare was never intended to cover the poorest people; it was expected that those would be covered by Medicaid. Eligibility for Obamacare doesn't kick in until 133 percent of the poverty level, $31,321 for a family of four. However, individual states define eligibility for Medicaid very differently.
In more liberal states, these levels are fairly high; for instance, Massachusetts gives Medicaid to families up to 133 percent of poverty, New York up to 150 percent, and Minnesota up to 215 percent. But in conservative states, the levels are far stingier; as someone in the Times article says, "You got to be almost dead before you can get Medicaid in Mississippi."
So the liberal states already cover people whose income doesn't rise to the level where Obamacare kicks in; conservative states, not so much.
For instance, in Alabama, you can't get Medicaid if your income exceeds 23 percent of the poverty level, or $4,500 for a family of three. Just think about that for a second. Do you think you could find a place to live, pay your bills, and feed your family on that income? But the state of Alabama says if you're that rich, you can afford to buy health insurance. In Texas ... only families under 25 percent of the poverty level, or $4,894 for a family of three, will be eligible for Medicaid. I'm guessing that's about what Rick Perry spends on boots every year.
Obamacare offered the individual states help by paying the Medicaid costs for those people left in limbo -- with incomes too low to qualify under the federal Obamacare rules, yet not covered by state Medicaid rules -- by funding Medicaid for those people 100% for the first three years, with the states picking up more of the cost thereafter, on a sliding scale, until several years from now, when the federal government would pay 90%; the state would never have to pay more than 10% of the cost of making these millions of low-income people eligible for Medicaid.

Click here for an article on entitled States' refusal to expand Medicaid leaves millions uninsured:
According to data analysis released by The New York Times Thursday, as many as 8 million people will remain outside of health care coverage envisioned under the terms of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, because they live in states that have refused extensions to Medicaid, the national health insurance program for the poor.

Currently, 26 states — all with Republican governors or Republican-controlled legislatures — have thus far declined Medicaid expansion, leaving the health care situation of millions of uninsured people unchanged.

By contrast, in the 24 remaining states (plus Washington, D.C.) that are going ahead with Medicaid expansion, more than 8.7 million people are expected to be newly enrolled, according (PDF) to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
I find it inconceivable that states would refuse such generous amounts of federal assistance to make 8.7 million poor people eligible for Medicaid, but apparently it is more important to these conservative states that they hinder and impede the implementation of Obamacare, and make it less effective, than it is to cover millions (1.8 million, in the case of Texas) of their poorest citizens.

Anyway, check out the graph in the story in The American Prospect which shows which are the cruelest Republican states.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Government Shutdown Planned Long Ago

To casual observers, the government shutdown engineered by Ted Cruz and his henchmen in the House of Representatives may appear to have come out of nowhere. Not so. It was planned from the early days of Obama's second term as a way of sabotaging the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which was signed into law on March 23, 2010.

Click here for an article in the New York Times exposing the concerted attack on the Obama administration by a group of rich conservatives (including the Koch brothers, of course) and influential politicos, headed by ultraconservative Ed Meese, Reagan's attorney general, who met in Washington, D.C., early in Obama's second term with the objective of blocking the implementation of the ACA by forcing a government shutdown.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Republican Hostage-Taking

Click here for an article -- in the Washington Post, of all places; how can a solidly mainstream publication like the WaPo allow such poisonous rhetoric? -- by Marc Thiessen. He was a speechwriter for W; I guess that tells you all you need to know.

He starts off by saying the Dems are unconcerned about the political consequences of shutting down the government, and that the Republicans are inflicting damage upon themselves and paying the political price for a shutdown; there's some truth to that. The Dems would prefer that the government be funded and that things proceed smoothly, but if Republicans choose to impose a shutdown, they have little leverage over the administration to get things rolling again.
But one of the first things they teach you in Hostage Taking 101 is that you have to choose a hostage the other side cares about saving.
Then Thiessen moves on to his next point:
By contrast, when it comes to the debt-limit showdown, they do have leverage; while Obama can let the government close and blame the GOP, he cannot allow the United States to default.
So what's the answer, Marc? Simple:
As former treasury secretary Timothy Geithner explained during the last debt-limit standoff, the effects of default would be “catastrophic,” resulting in the “loss of millions of American jobs,” and would have an economic impact “potentially much more harmful than the effects of the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.” Obama will not permit an economic crisis worse than 2008-09 and the “loss of millions of American jobs” on his watch. He has no choice but to negotiate with GOP leaders and cut a deal to avoid a government default.

So what’s the smart move here, Republicans? Simple: Pass a clean, short-term continuing resolution to keep the government operating at current levels and then attach your demands to legislation raising the debt limit.
There's the Republican philosophy in a nutshell. You can't win elections on your platform, but don't waste time and effort trying to achieve your goals by threatening the dog; threaten the kids. As Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell admitted the last time around:
I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting, Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming.
Do the Republicans have any concept of the notion of "loyal opposition"?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Focus Group Study: The Republican Mindset

Click here for a pdf document describing the results of a focus group session where participants were Evangelical, Tea Party and moderate Republicans. This is a truly eye-opening document from Democracy Now researchers Carville & Greenberg. It demonstrates that a fearful Republican party sees Obama and the Democrats as having won the political battle; the only option they see is for Republicans to resist at all cost the implementation of Obama's socialist agenda.