Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Finally a Democrat with some guts

Well it's Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) who claimed that the Republican health care plan is “don’t get sick,” and if you do get sick, “die quickly.” Naturally the Republicans demanded that he apologize but here's what happened instead:

“I would like to apologize,” he said. “I would like to apologize to the dead.”

Citing a statistic that 44,789 Americans die each year because they don’t have health insurance, Grayson said, “That is more than ten times the number of Americans who died in the war in Iraq, it’s more than ten times the number of Americans who died on 9/11. …It happens every year.”

Grayson added in another apparent dig at the GOP, “We should care about people even after they are born.”

Grayson apologized one last time.

“I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner,” he said.

Wow. Just wow.

I found it on Think Progress.

This is encouraging

It's a CNN Quick Vote poll:

Have you ever taken an unpopular stand at work because you thought it was right?

Yes - 91%

No - 9%

Maybe the basic integrity of the person on the street is not completely lost after all.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We could wish....

Difficult news tonight

Well, I'm sad to say that the public option was shot down in the Senate Finance Commitee.

Also Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS was dismissed in its entirety.

Both are quite discouraging.

Outrageous age discrimination

Here's something I got in an email this morning from the Care2 Petition Site:

Did you know that health insurance companies charge Americans aged 50 to 64 as much as 5 times what they charge younger Americans for the same coverage -- just because of age?

You might say it makes some amount of sense to charge older people more for health insurance. But the problem really lies in the 5 to 1 ratio. Federal research data shows that the average annual medical expenses for people 18 to 44 was $2,079, and for those 45 to 64, $4,866.

So if medical expenses are an average of only 2.3 times as much for as those for younger Americans, why are the 50- to 64-year-olds getting charged 5 times as much?

You can sign a petition about this right here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A simple question

I found this on Think Progress:

President Obama said that a world leader approached him at the G20 summit last week wondering why his critics are smearing him. The unidentified world leader told Obama, “We don’t understand it. You’re trying to make sure everybody has health care and they’re putting a Hitler mustache on you — I don’t — that doesn’t make sense to me. Explain that to me.”

Hmmm. Wonder what he said.

It doesn't make sense to me either.

The Trauma of War

Oh, my goodness. This is simply stunning. It is a sand painting performance and it depicts the experience of the Ukranians (or maybe Russians) during World War II.

I read the following in the comments:

In the second world war, 1 in 4 Ukrainians lost their lives and accounted for around 20% of all the deaths in the conflict. No other country suffered losses on that scale.

It portrays the German invasion, air raids and the devestation the country suffered in the war.

The Obelisk is the Ukranian memorial to their Unknown Soldier.

Denise Hunter sent me this. Thanks, Denise!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday art blogging

"Two Birds"
Margret Hofheinz-Döring/Galerie Brigitte Mauch Göppingen

All this (ignorant) silliness about socialism

This oft heard charge that President Obama is socialist is not only silly, it's utterly inaccurate. I wonder if these people even know what socialism is:

As with any complex political idea, socialism means different things to different people. But there are core concepts in socialist politics that are easy to identify, including (1) worker control over the nature and conditions of their work; (2) collective ownership of the major capital assets of the society, the means of production; and (3) an egalitarian distribution of the wealth of a society.

Obama has never argued for such principles, and in fact consistently argues against them, as do virtually all politicians who are visible in mainstream U.S. politics. This is hardly surprising, given the degree to which our society is dominated by corporations, the primary institution through which capitalism operates.
In short: Obama and some Democrats have argued for a slight expansion of the social safety net, which is generally a good thing in a society with such dramatic wealth inequality and such a depraved disregard for vulnerable people. But that's not socialism.

The above passages are from an article published on Common Dreams called "Is Obama a Socialist? Reflection on the Degradation of Politics and the Ecosystem" by Robert Jensen. Definitely worth reading the whole thing.

UPDATE: I've decided to give you one more excerpt from the article mentioned above:

But capitalism is not only inhuman and anti-democratic; it's also unsustainable, and if we don't come to terms with that one, not much else matters. Capitalism is an economic system based on the concept of unlimited growth, yet we live on a finite planet. Capitalism is, quite literally, crazy.

You know, that was obvious to me decades ago. But I think capitalism is like some diabolical religion to many people in this country. Like the Heaven's Gate cult, they would rather commit group suicide (the group this time meaning the entire planet) than question this "faith".

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Direct, to the point

Take a look:

America is the only country that rations the right to health care to those 65 and older.

Lack of health insurance kills 45,000 American adults a year, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health. One out of three Americans under age 65 had no private or public health insurance for some or all of 2007-2008.

You can't go the emergency room for the screening that will catch cancer or heart disease early, or ongoing treatment to manage chronic kidney disease or asthma. And even emergency care is different for the insured and uninsured. Studies show uninsured car crash victims receive less care in the hospital, for example.

Even with health insurance, many Americans are a medical crisis away from bankruptcy. Research shows 62 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical, a share up 50 percent since 2001. Most of the medically bankrupt had health insurance - the kind insuring profits, not health care.

It's from an article called Medicare for All: Yes We Can by Holly Sklar.

What is so hard to understand about this?

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Rule

Here are several quotes from Bill Maher's latest:

New Rule: If America can't get its act together, it must lose the bald eagle as our symbol and replace it with the YouTube video of the puppy that can't get up. As long as we're pathetic, we might as well act like it's cute. I don't care about the president's birth certificate, I do want to know what happened to "Yes we can."
Well, I hate to be a nudge, but why has America become a nation that can't make anything bad end, like wars, farm subsidies, our oil addiction, the drug war, useless weapons programs - oh, and there's still 60,000 troops in Germany - and can't make anything good start, like health care reform, immigration reform, rebuilding infrastructure.
Barack Obama has said, "If we were starting from scratch, then a single-payer system would probably make sense." So let's start from scratch.
Did you know that we eat the same high-fat, high-carb, sugar-laden shit that's served in prisons and in religious cults to keep the subjects in a zombie-like state of lethargic compliance?

You know, there are people in this country who make a whole lot of sense. Trouble is, they're mostly comedians.

Something to think about

Yes, I know. Just a tad over-simplified. Still, there are a lot of right wing politicians (and "tea-bag" protesters out there) I wish would see this and tape it to their bathroom mirror.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

So we're a free country? Really?

Charles Robert Darwin
Artist: John Collier
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Just look at this:

A British film about Charles Darwin has failed to find a US distributor because his theory of evolution is too controversial for American audiences, according to its producer.

Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin's "struggle between faith and reason" as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.

However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.

Okay. I would really like to see this film. Will I have to travel to Canada to do so?

The failure of capitalism

Michael Moore talked to Larry King recently and here's something he said that is very blunt and to the point:

King: Are you saying capitalism is a failure?

Moore: Yes. Capitalism. Yes. Well, I don't have to say it. Capitalism, in the last year, has proven that it's failed. All the basic tenets of what we've talked about the free market, about free enterprise and competition just completely fell apart. As soon as they lost, essentially, our money, they came running to the federal government for a bailout -- for welfare, for socialism. And I thought the basic principle of capitalism was that it's a sink-or-swim situation. And those who do well, the cream rises to the top and, you know, those who invest their money wrongly or, you know, don't run their business the right way, then they don't do well. And if you run your business the wrong way, where does it say that you or I or anybody watching this has to bail them out?

I understand why everybody seemed to get behind it, because a lot of people were afraid, because these people down on Wall Street had taken our money and made bets with it. I mean, they essentially created this invisible virtual casino with people's money -- people's pension funds, people's 401(k)s. They took this money and they made bets. And then they made bets on the bets. And then they took out insurance policies on the bets. And then they took out insurance against the insurance -- the credit default swaps.

Well, I not only think capitalism fails, I think it is fundamentally immoral. But that's another post altogether, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Autumnal Equinox

Oh, I like this:

Summer is already better, but the best is autumn. It is mature, reasonable and serious, it glows moderately and not frivolously ... It cools down, clears up, makes you reasonable ...

- Valentin

I found it here.


A story to think about

Look at something I just found:

During the Great Depression in early 20th century America, a government agency representative travelled through some of the poorer parts of the country to provide financial assistance to farmers to buy seeds, fix their homes and run their farms. The agent came across an elderly woman living in a shack without flooring. She had covered the broken windows with tarpaper. She barely managed to survive. The agent asked: "If the government gave you 200 dollars, what would you do with it?" The woman replied without hesitation: "I would give it to someone who is homeless."

What has happened to our society, our culture, that so many of us have lost this principle and attitude?

I found the story right here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What can I say? Another great quote

Take a look:

It is not decent that people avoid seeking help for want of insurance. It is not decent that people go broke trying to get well. You know it and I know it. Time to fix it.

-- Garrison Keillor

He wrote this after he had his little stroke and got face to face with what a scary illness is like.

Quote of the week - undoubtedly

I think this is a very good point indeed:

If health care passes, will it be a grand historical achievement, or a crushing disappointment? The answer, I predict, will be both. The American health care system is an indefensible morass of waste and cruelty. The distance between the status quo and the ideal is therefore so vast that we could—and probably will—end up with a reform that massively improves the system, while coming nowhere close to the ideal.

--Jonathan Chait

It's from an opinion piece in The New Republic entitled TRB: Left-Handed Compliment.

Say what?

This is just too much. I'm tellin' ya. Too much.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Vincent Van Gogh

The problem with violence

This quote is new to me, actually:

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary. The evil it does is permanent.

~ Mahatma Ghandi

The elephant in the living room

Okay. Everybody's in a kerfuffle because Jimmy Carter said that most of the criticism directed at the President is about race. I'm glad he said it because that is the "elephant in the living room" and it took a Southern white gentleman with nothing to lose to put that reality on the table.

But here's what President Obama himself had to say:

Are there people out there who don't like me because of race? I'm sure there are. That's not the overriding issue here. I think there are people who are anti-government. I think there's been a long-standing debate in this country that is usually that much more fierce during times of transition, or when presidents are trying to bring about big changes.

I mean, things that were said about FDR were pretty similar to things that were said about me. 'He's a communist, he's a socialist.' Things that were said about Ronald Reagan when he was trying to reverse some of the New Deal programs, you know, were pretty vicious as well.

Well, he really had to say that, didn't he? Can you imagine what Obama's enemies would do if he ever once, even slightly, played the "race card"*? He knows that and he won't do it. That doesn't change the fact that a lot of the hysteria out there is about race - especially all that nonsense about people keeping their children home from school to keep them from seeing their president give a speech on television.

* I really want to recommend an article entitled "What Kind of Card is Race?" which is subtitled "The Absurdity (and Consistency) of White Denial" by Tim Wise. It is very, very insightful and illuminating.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Oh, my!

Look what I just found:

I guess there would be some heterosexuals in a real pickle with that one!

I found it right here in case you want to check it out. Apparently it's going viral on the internet.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thinking about privilege

Yesterday, I posted something about the "just world theory" over on my meditation blog. To state it in the simplest terms possible, this is the notion that we all get exactly what we deserve. It is, in fact, the belief system behind "blaming the victim".

Today I happened to come across a blog that interests me very much. It's called "Life in Montage" and the author recently offered us a post entitled "I am a product of privilege" with which I very much agree.

Here're just a few little snippets:

I know this. I’m not sure how many others do. It is common for Americans to think of themselves as “blessed”: they are blessed with loving parents, a safe home, or beautiful children.
It is providence, not privilege, so many believe. And providence is just.
How do you tell someone, who has likely indeed worked hard, who likely indeed has made good choices in their life – how do you explain to someone why no one can take complete credit for their successes in life? That we are all caught up in a larger system which, as a colleague of mine puts it, largely determines our options and opportunities from the start? Pride takes quite a hit, in a situation like that; and the American psyche is nothing if not built on pride.

I want to recommend that you click through and read the whole piece. It's quite short so it won't take up much of your time. But it's truly thoughtful and beautifully written.

I also find it extremely difficult to get it through some people's heads that the rich are subsidised by the infrastructure of this country -- an infrastructure that is largely designed to their specifications. They are also subsidised by the unaturally depressed wages of the poor.

"Can Christianity be rescued from Christians?"

Sheesh. This truly boggles the imagination.


The REAL reason health care reform is pro-life

I'm bringing you another Sojourners story:

Consider two very close friends of the Sojourners family who recently found out that their unborn baby daughter has a brain tumor. To protect their privacy, we'll call her Milagro - meaning "Miracle" - or Mila, for short.

The tumor is the same size as her brain and is causing a build-up of fluid and the enlargement of her head. Significant brain damage is near certain. She's been given a 15 percent chance of survival and then only with a severely impaired quality of life. And yet, they've been told what Glenn's doctors told him: "miracles happen."

Mila will likely be delivered in December. With their current coverage, premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs for a complicated pregnancy will cost 20 percent of their modest income. But if their total bills exceed $250,000, they must pay all additional expenses. It's unclear how likely this is, but multiple brain surgeries and the additional care Mila may need could spell deep financial trouble.

But their worries don't stop there. Our friends receive their insurance through the mother's university. After she completes her Ph.D. this spring, her coverage will end in August. After that, with the possibility of Mila's severe pre-existing conditions, they may not be able to get any coverage at all.

Our friends do not fear a future where a government bureaucracy forces them to kill their child. Doctors in the current system have already suggested abortion. Their fear is much more immediate: If by some miracle their child survives beyond the womb, will they be able to afford the care she'll need once the insurance coverage ends?

Contrary to Glenn's [Beck's] fears, nothing in any of the proposed legislation would take away the right of a parent to carry her child to term. Nothing in any of the current legislation would deny life-saving treatment to anyone in need.
All of the reform proposals being debated include provisions to cap out-of-pocket expenses, end exclusions for pre-existing conditions, and eliminate limits like our friends' annual $250,000 cap on coverage - removing the financial pressures that currently lead many families to terminate difficult pregnancies.

Now I thought that the last point there was something of an interesting twist that the so-called "pro-life" people really need to consider most seriously.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oh, those Christians!

I found this poster on a site I just discovered called Stuff Christian Culture Likes (which is, of course, a take-off on the wildly successful blog, Stuff White People Like.)

Conservative calls foul on the race baiting

I found an excerpt of an article called "Rush Limbaugh hits racial bottom, digs" over on AMERICAblog. The writer, Rod Dreher, is a self-identified conservative. Look at part of what he has to say:

[N]ow we have Rush Limbaugh blaming Obama for black kids beating up a white kid on a school bus. This is what happens in "Obama's America," he said today on his radio show.

How low will these people go? Look, I think it's important to talk about black male violence, or at least as important as it is to talk about any other important social trend. I don't think we should be squeamish about discussing it in a responsible and fair-minded way, despite what the politically correct say. But good grief, Limbaugh is up to something wicked. He's plainly trying to rally white conservatives into thinking that now that we have a black president, blacks are rising up to attack white kids! Christ have mercy, what is wrong with these people?

I won't have anything to do with it, not even tangentially, which is why I took down the post. I can't see this as anything other than Limbaugh deliberately trying to whip up racial fear and loathing of the president. This goes far, far beyond tough criticism of Obama. Does that man Limbaugh have any idea what rough beast he's calling forth?

Mr. Dreher goes on to refer to our shameful and horrific history of lynching in this country. That is certainly one manifestation of the "rough beast" to which he alludes.

RIP Mary Travers

The year of this performance was 1966 and I was seventeen.

Now I'm sixty.

The questions are the same today. Oh, yes. They are the same today.


UPDATE: Oh, I just had to add this next one. Not one you hear much. Worth a listen. Trust me!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Canada and animal welfare

Someone from Canada whose screen name is "Traveller" left a comment over on my meditation blog and asked me to post a link to her blog about animal protection in Canada. I happily do so.
The specific post is called "Another petition: Amend the Constitution". I urge you to click through and see what it's all about.

Also, Traveller just recently lost a kitty and the animal hospital staff were pretty callous about it, apparently. You might want to go to her home page, scroll down a bit and express some sympathy.

Our oceans

It's been a while since I've brought you some environmental news simply because I've been fairly caught up in the health care upset here in the U.S. But I just came across a brief AP article that is very serious. It's entitled "Worlds oceans warmest on record this summer" and here are a few snippets:

Sea-surface temperatures worldwide have been the hottest on record over the last three months, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday.
The report is based on data back to 1880.
Climate change has been raising the planet's average temperature steadily in recent decades. All of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 1997.

This, of course, has implications for what ocean life can survive and where, for currents (like the Gulf Stream) and for sea ice.

And yet, the world's people (for the most part) just go on about their business with little to no conern and do not experience this as the truly urgent issue it really is.

Outrageous is too weak a word

My dear friend Sally, who's a frequent reader of this blog, read my post below about the woman with breast cancer who had her insurance cancelled right before her surgery. Sally called my attention to another article entitled "The Insurance Industry's Heartless Logic: Getting Beaten by Your Husband Is an Excuse to Deny Coverage". Here's an excerpt:

It turns out that in eight states, plus the District of Columbia, getting beaten up by your spouse is a pre-existing condition.

Under the cold logic of the insurance industry, it makes perfect sense: If you are in a marriage with someone who has beaten you in the past, you're more likely to get beaten again than the average person and are therefore more expensive to insure.

In human terms, it's a second punishment for a victim of domestic violence.

In 2006, Democrats tried to end the practice. An amendment introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), now a member of leadership, split the Health Education Labor & Pensions Committee 10-10. The tie meant that the measure failed.

All ten no votes were Republicans...

Un-freakin'-belieavable. Except that it's not.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Misdirected and exploited rage

I earnestly want to recommend an article called "Who Are the Undeserving 'Others'?" by Glenn Greenwald that was originally from Salon but is published today on Common Dreams. Here's a sample:

This is the paradox of the tea-party movement and other right-wing protests fueled by genuine citizen anger and fear. It is true that the federal government embraces redistributive policies and that middle-class income is seized in order that "someone else benefits." But so obviously, that "someone else" who is benefiting is not the poor and lower classes -- who continue to get poorer as the numbers living below the poverty line expand and the rich-poor gap grows in the U.S. to unprecedented proportions. The "someone else" that is benefiting from Washington policies are -- as usual -- the super-rich, the tiny number of huge corporations which literally own and control the Government. The premise of these citizen protests is not wrong: Washington politicians are in thrall to special interests and are, in essence, corruptly stealing the country's economic security in order to provide increasing benefits to a small and undeserving minority. But the "minority" here isn't what Fox News means by that term, but is the tiny sliver of corporate power which literally writes our laws and, in every case, ends up benefiting.

It wasn't the poor or illegal immigrants who were the beneficiaries of the Wall St. bailout; it was the investment banks which, not even a year later, are wallowing in
record profits and bonuses thanks to massive taxpayer-funded welfare. The endlessly expanding (and secret) balance sheet of the Federal Reserve isn't going to fund midnight basketball programs or health care for Mexican immigrants but is enabling extreme profiteering by the very people who, just a year ago, almost brought the global economic system to full-scale collapse.

Greenwald goes on to quote Matt Taibbi who pointedly articulates the dynamic known as the "peasant mentality".

This one is really worth reading and helps me understand what's going on a bit better.

How insurance companies deliver death sentences

I got the following story in an email from Sojourners today:

Robin Beaton is a 59-year-old retired registered nurse who bought an individual insurance policy when she started her own business. Earlier this year she offered this testimony at a congressional hearing:

In May 2008, I went to the dermatologist for acne. A word was written on my chart and interpreted incorrectly as meaning pre-cancerous. Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with Invasive HER-2 Genetic Breast Cancer, a very aggressive form of breast cancer. I was told I needed a double mastectomy. When the surgeons scheduled my surgery I was pre-certified for my two days hospitalization.

The Friday before the Monday I was scheduled to have my double mastectomy, Blue Cross red flagged my chart due to the dermatologist report. The dermatologist called Blue Cross directly to report that I only had acne and please not hold up my coming surgery. Blue Cross called me to inform me that they were launching a 5 year medical investigation into my medical history and that this would take approximately 3 months. I was frantic. I did not know what to do or where to turn. I knew I could not pay for the surgery myself....

Next, I found out that my insurance was completely canceled; this was devastating.
One of the main things I look forward to in my life is attending a cancer support group every Monday and Tuesday. We meet others who have cancer and share our lives. Four of the women in my group had their insurance canceled because of cancer.

I don't see how Congress can listen to this kind of story and not see the huge need for reform.

The right wingers are afraid of government "death panels". (Which is ridiculous; end of life counseling is not a death panel!) How can they not see that it's the insurance companies that have the real death panels?

You can speak out about this by signing the petition right here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

2010 California Protection of Marriage Act

Oh, this is really rich. There's a snarky guy in California who is trying to get divorce banned. Check out something he said in an interview:

We're going to set up a table in front of Wal*Mart and ask people to sign a petition to protect traditional marriage. We're going to interview them about why they think traditional marriage is important, and then we'll tell them that we are trying to ban divorce.

People who supported Prop 8 weren't trying to take rights away from gays, they just wanted to protect traditional marriage. That's why I'm confident that they will support this initiative, even though this time it will be their rights that are diminished. To not support it would be hypocritical.

We're also going to collect signatures in front of "Faces," the largest gay nightclub in Sacramento.

His name is John Marcotte. Go read the rest of the interview right here!

Health care and the wars

I just want to share the title of an article here:

Obama Touts the Money We'll Save with Health Reforms, While We Quietly Spend Billions on Bush's Wars

As far as I'm concerned, the title says it all.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New rule

Many thanks to Matt Huculak for calling this to my attention. It's Bill Maher's latest "new rule" piece and I'm giving you just an excerpt. Go read the whole thing. You won't be sorry!

New Rule: Democrats must get in touch with their inner asshole. And no, I'm not being gratuitously crude when I say that.
If you missed it, the president attempted to merely tell school children to work hard and wash their hands, and Cracker Nation reacted as if he was trying to hire the Black Panthers to hand out grenades in homeroom. Of course, the White House immediately capitulated. "No students will be forced to view the speech," a White House spokesperson assured a panicked nation. Isn't that like admitting that the president might be doing something unseemly? What a bunch of cowards. If the White House had any balls, they'd say, "He's giving a speech on the importance of staying in school, and if you spineless jackasses don't show it to every damn kid in your school we're cutting off your federal education funding tomorrow."

The Democrats just never learn: Americans don't really care which side of an issue you're on as long as you don't act like pussies. When Van Jones called the Republicans assholes, he was paying them a compliment. He was talking about how they can get things done even when they're in the minority, as opposed to the Democrats, who can't seem to get anything done even when they control both houses of Congress, the presidency, and Bruce Springsteen.

I love Obama's civility in the face of such contumely, his desire to work with his enemies, it's positively Christ-like. In college, he was probably the guy at the dorm parties who made sure the stoners shared their pot with the jocks. But we don't need that guy now. We need an asshole. Mr. President, there are some people who are never going to like you. That's why they voted for the old guy and Carrie's mom. You're not going to win them over. Stand up for the 70% of Americans who aren't crazy.

I hate to say it but the President is just too nice. It really is possible to be tough and appropriately aggressive and still have integrity. I'm wondering if the Democrats think that since the Republicans are bullies and sadly lacking in integrity that if they (the Democrats I mean) come out swinging it means they're bad people. Not so.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The President's heckler

I contributed today to the campaign of Joe Wilson's opponent. This just makes me sick:

Last night, after Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) interrupted President Obama’s speech by yelling, “you lie!,” Wilson issued a statement of apology and followed it up with a call to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) doesn’t think Wilson’s efforts at repentance go far enough. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, Hoyer called Wilson’s actions “inappropriate” and “shameful,” adding, “I think, frankly, he ought to apologize to the House as well because not only did he undermine the civility in the House of Representatives.”

Yes, he needs to apologize to the House. If he can't respect the man, that's his business but if doesn't respect the office of the President of the United States then he is no patriot. I stand by that.

I found the above passage right here.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The best line tonight

In my humble opinion:

We did not come here to fear the future; we came here to shape it!

-- President Barack Obama


I found this graphic over on Pudit Kitchen, obviously. Here are a couple of the comments:

In this age of 24 hour, all the ‘news’ all the time, there is no way in heaven, hell or anywhere in between that Lincoln could get elected, he’d never have gotten through the vetting process, let alone the telegenic process.
Absolutely. There’s no way this man could get in office today. He could not be manipulated.

Just some things to think about, folks.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

First Ammendment abomination

It's from a USA Today story:

A mother is angry about a trip led by the head football coach at Breckinridge County High School. The coach took about 20 players on a school bus late last month to his church, where nearly half of them — including her son — were baptized.

Michelle Ammons said her 16-year-old son was baptized without her knowledge and consent, and she is upset that a public school bus was used to take players to a church service — and that the school district's superintendent was there and did not object.

"Nobody should push their faith on anybody else," said Ammons, whose son, Robert Coffey, said Coach Scott Mooney told him and other players that the Aug. 26 outing would include only a motivational speaker and a free steak dinner.
Ammons, who lives in Big Spring, said that she is a Baptist but her husband, Danny, is Catholic, and that both feel like their son should wait until he is 18 to make important decisions on religion.

"We felt he was brainwashed," she said.
"They have no right to take my son on a school bus across county lines to a church to be baptized," she said.

Suppose the coach had taken them to a Buddhist temple and those same young men had gone through a "taking refuge" ceremony?

Just sayin'

Monday, September 07, 2009

Corporate America

It's a chilling graphic, isn't it? I found it on Truthdig along with an article entitled "It Could Be the End of Our Democracy as We Know It" by E. J. Dionne. Take a look at this excerpt:

This sounds melodramatic. It’s not. The court is considering eviscerating laws that have been on the books since 1907 in one case and 1947 in the other, banning direct contributions and spending by corporations in federal election campaigns. Doing so would obliterate precedents that go back two and three decades.

The full impact of what the court could do in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has only begun to receive the attention it deserves. Even the word radical does not capture the extent to which the justices could turn our political system upside down. Will the high court use a case originally brought on a narrow issue to bring our politics back to the corruption of the Gilded Age?

You know, it's bad enough that corprorations now are considered to have "personhood" and that buying political influence with money is now considered "free speech". But this is truly throwing the sheep to the wolves.

Of course, one commenter said this:

E. J. Dionne is probably not aware that the U.S. political mainstream is already controlled by large corporations!

Good point.

More from Bill Moyers

Graphic shamelessly lifted from my friend Paul at

Take a look:

Bill Maher asked me on his show last week if America is still a great nation. I should have said it's the greatest show on earth. Forget what you learned in civics about the Founding Fathers -- we're the children of Barnum and Bailey, our founding con men. Their freak show was the forerunner of today's talk radio.

Speaking of which: we've posted on our website an
essay by the media scholar Henry Giroux. He describes the growing domination of hate radio as one of the crucial elements in a "culture of cruelty" increasingly marked by overt racism, hostility and disdain for others, coupled with a simmering threat of mob violence toward any political figure who believes health care reform is the most vital of safety nets, especially now that the central issue of life and politics is no longer about working to get ahead, but struggling simply to survive.

This business about hate radio really, really disturbs me. Not only that, it frightens me.

You can read the whole text of Moyers' opinion piece right here.

UPDATE: It occurred to me after adding Paul's graphic above that some people may have forgotten the preamble to the Constitution. So, as a reminder, here it is:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

You can find it all sorts of places. I got it here.


Two from Lincoln

It grieves me that we seem to have largely lost this attitude in the US:

The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.
Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

-- Abraham Lincoln

I remember the days when I could "look for the union label" and I did. Impossible today. I feel pretty good if I can just find something made in this country.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Bill Moyers explains the problem

Something about loyalty

You know something? I've always believed in "loyalty up, loyalty down". But it's rare for the people at the top to believe that. (Something I've learned just lately in spades - but that's another story and a personal one at that.)

I'm really sickened by the way Van Jones has been thrown under the bus by President Obama himself. On the off chance you don't know about this, you can read about it here.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The President didn't actually "fire" him. He just didn't support him. He just hung him out to dry, as the saying goes.

When are we Democrats going to learn to fight for our own?

Here's a part of a comment I found over on Alternet:

Republicans can call Obama and liberals fascists, commies, Nazis, but a liberal can't call Republicans - and himself - assholes? He specifically said he could be an asshole as well. Also, the petition he signed included the word "may."

Fuck the Republicans. Fuck Rahm Emanuel. I never expected Obama to be a liberal, but I didn't expect him to be a conservative. I do expect "progressive" groups to be, well, progressive.

Yeah. Me too.
UPDATE: Well, here's what somebody commented about this over on Daily Kos:

As a private citizen Jones will not be constrained by diplomacy and the political fear of controversy. He will be able to speak with conviction and take aim at the real villains in our midst. Clearly Beck is afraid of Jones, hence the incessant coverage. But Beck has made a serious strategic error, because Jones is a far bigger threat to Beck outside of government than inside of it.

I hope this person is right.
UPDATE 2: I want to recommend an opinion piece about this matter that I found over on The Huffington Post this morning (9/7). It is entitled "Taking the Movement Out of the Obama White House" and it's by David Sirota.

Quote of the week

In my humble opinion, that is:

The United States of America has the worst, most unfair, most immoral system of health care funding of any modern, wealthy nation in the world. It enriches insurance companies, their executives, the lobbyists they hire and the Senators and Congressmen they buy. Right now your representatives and your president are working very hard to buttress and extend that system.

-- Christopher Cooper

It's from an article called "Just A Boy And His Dog". There's a little blurb about Mr. Cooper at the bottom of the article.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Friday, September 04, 2009

Pathetic, folks. Just pathetic.

Conservatives enraged over Obama school speech

You know, this just makes me sick. And I can't help but think it somehow due to racism:

The White House found itself on the defensive Friday over what would ordinarily be considered the most uncontroversial of events: a back-to-school speech for children.

The White House said the address, set for Tuesday, and accompanying suggested lesson plans are simply meant to encourage students to study hard and stay in school.

Many conservative parents aren't buying it. They're convinced the president is going to use the opportunity to press a partisan political agenda on impressionable young minds.

"Thinking about my kids in school having to listen to that just really upsets me," suburban Colorado mother Shanneen Barron told CNN Denver affiliate KMGH. "I'm an American. They are Americans, and I don't feel that's OK. I feel very scared to be in this country with our leadership right now."
Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer released a statement this week accusing Obama of using taxpayer money to "indoctrinate" children.

"As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology," Greer said.

As I recall, Reagan gave a speech to school children that was blatantly political. And I don't remember Democratic parents objecting to the speech being shown.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Looking squarely at ethics

Oh, my. I just read the transcript of a brief address by a Presbyterian minister that is published on Common Dreams. He was asked to speak on health care and ethics. Take a look at this little excerpt:

If an infant is born to poor parents, would we be more ethical to give medicine to that child so he or she does not die prematurely of preventable diseases, or would we be more ethical if we let the child die screaming in his or her parent's arms so we can keep more of our money?

Or, let's say someone who worked for Enron, and now is penniless, contracted bone cancer. I've been asked to discuss whether we are more ethical if we provide such people medicine that lessens their pain. Or would we be more ethical to let them scream through the night in unbearable agony so we can pay lower taxes?

I can't believe I am standing today in a Christian church defending the proposition that we should lessen the suffering of those who cannot afford health care in an economic system that often treats the poor as prey for the rich. I cannot believe there are Christians around this nation who are shouting that message down and waving guns in the air because they don't want to hear it.

-- Rev. Jim Rigby

I'll tell you what the folks on the right will say about the above examples. They will say that those people can just go to an emergency room and get treated for free. That's a lie of course. They can go to an emergency room and the law requires that they be treated but it will not be for free. They will most assuredly be charged. And they will be charged at much greater rates than people with insurance because the insurance companies negotiate for big discounts.

About health care cost

I heard this bit on Bill Moyers Journal last Friday:

It is, I guess, politically correct, widely believed, that to say that American health care is the best in the world. It's not. There's a much more complicated story there. For some kinds of care my colleague Brent James calls it rescue care. Yes, we're the best in the world. If you need very complex cardiac surgery or very advanced chemotherapy for your cancer or some audacious intervention with organ transplantation, you're pretty lucky to be in America.

You'll get it faster and you'll probably get it better than in at least most other countries. Rescue care we're great. But most health care isn't that. Most health care is getting people with diabetes through their illness over years or controlling the pain of someone with arthritis or just answering a question for someone who is worried or preventing them from getting into trouble in the first place. And on those scores: Chronic disease care, community-based care, primary care, preventive care. No no, we're no where near the best. And it's reflected in our outcomes.

We're something like the… We're not the best health care system in the world in infant mortality rates. We're like number 23. There is an index that is used in rating health care systems, which is the rate of mortality that could have been prevented by health care. There are at least a dozen countries with lower rates of preventable mortalities than the United States and not one of those countries spends 60 percent of what we do on health care.

-- Dr. Donald Berwick

You can read more over at Alternet which has republished "Money-Driven Medicine - The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much" from Bill Moyers' Journal.

There's more about the problem with providing primary care, the debt new doctors have from medical school and the whole insurance/profit motive picture. Worth your time, definitely.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Why we often believe what we believe

Well, this book has been around for a while but it just now came to my attention. Here's something about it:

Recent surveys show that "national experts" are the third most trusted type of public figure (after Supreme Court justices and schoolteachers). Hard-hitting investigative journalists Rampton and Stauber (Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!) ask whether that trust is misplaced. They assert that, with highly technical issues like environmental pollution and bioengineered foodstuffs, "people are encouraged to suspend their own judgment and abandon responsibility to the experts." The authors examine the opinions of many so-called experts to show how their opinions are often marred by conflicts of interest. Peering behind the curtain of decision making, they catch more than a few with blood money on their hands. From spin doctors with dubious credentials to think tanks that do everything but think and scientists who work backwards to engineer desired experimental results, Rampton and Stauber present an astonishing compendium of alleged abuses of the public's willingness to believe. Particularly sobering is their summary of the historical use of "experts" by the tobacco and mining industries, which, they reveal, have suppressed and manipulated information in order to slow industrial reform...

When I hear that "studies" have recently been shown something to be true or untrue, I want to know the design of the study in question and who paid for it.

Something about our "loyal" opposition

Here's the poll I just found over on Daily Kos. Very telling, isn't it?


What should opponents of new progressive Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama do first when he takes office?

Challenge the validity of his birth certificate - 15%

Equate him with Hitler - 5%

Threaten to secede -5%

Mock him for reading from a TelePrompter - 1%

Accuse him of wanting to form death panels - 1%

Label him a racist - 4%

Proclaim that they hope he fails - 5%

Stand around and say NO! all day - 10%

Stock up on guns and ammunition - 6%

Gosh, I just can't decide - 48%

I'm trying to decide whether this is really snarky or maybe just sadly ironic.

(By the way, I picked the last choice listed.)

Quote of the YEAR

Sojourners called this the "Quote of the Day" but I think it goes beyond that. This is really an important awareness for us all to have:

It was one of the primary reasons I moved here. I couldn't afford health care in the United States. … To me, this is the best system that there is.

--Judy Harvey of Prescott Valley, who now lives in Alamos, Sonora, on why American retirees are moving to Mexico.
UPDATE: You can read more about this in the USA Today article entitled "Mexico's health care lures Americans". Also, you might like to look at some comments by Democratic Underground readers right here.