Revenge of the PUMAs


I thought that the David Letterman controversy had pretty much died out after the embarrassment of the Fire Dave Rally earlier this week. An estimated fifteen to fifty people turned out to attack David Letterman and socialism while supporting Jay Leno and Fox News.  By this time pretty much anyone with the ability to think had figured out that this was a smear campaign from the lunatic right which really had nothing to do with a couple of jokes which were tasteless but not as bad as jokes told by other comedians. Only the brain-dead had failed to realize that the joke made no sense unless it was about Bristol Palin, as opposed to the younger daughter as the right wingers claimed. It turns out that there is one group which is sufficiently out of touch with reality to fall for the right wing smear campaign and believe the controversy has anything to do with treatment of women–the PUMAs.

I had noticed during the controversy that PUMA blogs were repeating the smears, figuring it was primarily in revenge for all those pant suits jokes which Letterman had told about Hillary Clinton. While Letterman has told fewer jokes about Bristol Palin than the other late night comedians, nobody came close to Dave in making fun of Hillary’s pants suits. The connection of the PUMAs came out after The Politco reported that Olive Garden had canceled advertising on Letterman’s show. Just as I was about to change my dinner reservation to Macaroni Grill, The New York Times reported that the report was not accurate.

As this story was breaking, Balloon Juice commented on the involvement of the PUMAs in trying to get companies to boycott Letterman. DougJ followed up with a second report on  Great moments in PUMA history.  Doug concluded, “I can’t quite wrap my head around the whole PUMA thing, so maybe John or Wonkette or someone with a better understanding of the PUMAsphere can explain all of this.”


Both Wonkette and Balloon Juice showed examples of the smears which the PUMAs are now launching against companies which advertise on Letterman’s show. Wonkette explained their warped logic:  “If these companies don’t cancel their contracts with CBS, the logic goes, then they will be considered Willow-rapers too.”

The PUMAs are just delusional enough to believe the smear campaigns, which started on the right and motivated by a desire to silence those they saw as critics of their reactionary views, and had nothing to do with any support for feminism. The PUMAs might surprise some in joining with right wingers who back anti-women policies such as banning legal abortions and restoring shirt hanger abortions, along with restricting access to contraception. But why worry about issues that really matter (or even freedom of expression) when you have a chance to smack down the sexist guy who made fun of Hillary’s pants suits?

This should really come as no surprise. During the 2008 campaign I described the PUMA movement as essentially far right wing in their outlook, being as hostile to the reality based community as the Bush and McCain crowds. If anyone doubted that I was right about them last summer, this should give them reason to reconsider.

Another Ridiculous Argument From The Right on Health Care

Conservatives have been offering a lot of totally absurd arguments to try to block health care reform. Daniel Henninger has one which makes absolutely no sense in today’s Wall Street Journal. Conservatives oppose the public option and know that there are real problems with Medicaid. Henninger had the idea of trying to block the pubic plan by getting people to think it is something like Medicaid:

Back before recorded history, in 1965, Congress erected the nation’s first two monuments to health-care “reform,” Medicaid and Medicare. Medicaid was described at the time as a modest solution to the problem of health care for the poor. It would be run by the states and “monitored” by the federal government.

The reform known as Medicaid is worth our attention now because Mr. Obama is more or less demanding that the nation accept another reform, his “optional” federalized health insurance program. He suggested several times before the AMA that opposition to it will consist of “scare tactics” and “fear mongering.”

Whatever Medicaid’s merits, this federal health-care program more than any other factor has put California and New York on the brink of fiscal catastrophe. I’d even call it scary.

There are serious problems with Medicaid, as I’ve noted. The problem with his argument is that the proposed public plans would be nothing like Medicaid.  Medicaid is a welfare program for the poor, beyond trivial co-pays, all the health care benefits must be paid out of tax money. In contrast the public plan will charge premiums just like private plans do. These problems with Medicaid simply have no bearing on a proposed public plan.

There are certainly arguments both for and against a public plan. The problem with the conservative movement is that they rarely debate upon the facts. Dishonest arguments such as this are the norm from them. Sometimes this works to their benefit when people believe their scare stories and go along with the policies of the right. What they are failing to realize is that a shrinking number of people fall for such conservative arguments anymore. While they are repeated in the conservative blogs, talk radio, and on Fox, they are ignored by a growing number of people who realize how often they have been lied to by the right wing.  Sometimes writers on the left also get it wrong (as I’ve noted here) but this is minimal compared to the vast amount of misinformation spread by the right.

Sometimes conservatives do have valid points to be made, but if they want to be taken seriously they need to drop the constant barrage of such scare tactics and engage in honest debate for a change.