Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Ain't that the truth!
It used to be the Big Business Party. That’s a Republican. Then it got taken over by Jesus. And now they just seem like The Angry White People Party.
- Bill Maher
Once more, I'm indebted to Lisa Casey over at All Hat No Cattle.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
(Hat tip to Lisa Casey over at All Hat No Cattle.)
I want to just take a moment to thank the Teabaggers. Thank you so much for helping us pass health care, for resurrecting the Obama presidency. I know they're saying, 'Why are you thanking me? I was so against it, I marched on Washington with tea bags hanging off my Founding Fathers costume, with a gun on my hip and a picture of Obama dressed as Hitler, screaming about his birth certificate.' And America saw that and said, 'I think I'll go with the calm black man.'
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Today over on Common Dreams, I found an article entitled "March Madness: Why Progressives Always Lose" which mentioned three "myths" that routinely do us in. One of those is "the Myth of the Bumbling Bureaucrats" that perpetuates the belief that government can't ever do anything right.
So I decided to do some searching and try to find internet material refuting such a belief. What I found is a site called Government is Good: An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution. Go on over there and look around! There's a whole section on "The War on Government" and a really helpful feature called "A Guide to Rebutting Right-Wing Criticisms of Government".
Now, lest you imagine that there is a lack of balance here, you can also find a substantial piece entitled "What is Really Wrong with Government". Here is a thoughtful excerpt from that section:
I would truly like to see a large number of people explore the material on this site and spread the word. If you study it a bit and then find that you are agreeing, then please do what you can.
Readers of the previous articles on this site might have gotten the impression that I was suggesting that there are no serious problems with American government. But my argument has not been that there is nothing wrong this institution – only that it is not what conservatives say it is. It is simply not the case that government grossly overtaxes us, or that bureaucracies are incredibly wasteful, or that Big Brother is constantly threatening our freedoms. What is wrong is something altogether different – and something more disturbing. The main fault of our government is that it is not as democratic as it should be. We have what some have called a "deficit of democracy."
The problem is that American government is now increasingly responsive to special interests and not the public interest. This is why many people are frustrated and disappointed with our political system. Instead of a democracy where all citizens have an equal say in the governing process, some organizations and individuals have a disproportionate and unfair influence over what the government does. The result is that the power and greed of the few too often win out over the needs of the many.
UPDATE: I just came across the following video which I truly think belongs with this post;
If you have a few minutes to spare, please go read "Teacher Sued For Bashing Christianity -- Will Others Be Censored?" and tell me what you think. I read the first few paragraphs carefully and then scanned the rest of it.
He sounds like a wonderful teacher - if a bit reckless at times.
UPDATE: Here's a quotation I just found that seems appropriate:
We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but find ourselves with an illicit passion for them when anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship. It is obviously not the ideas themselves that are dear to us, but our self-esteem that is threatened.
-- James Harvey
Friday, March 26, 2010
Please, people, wear your seatbelts. This past January I officiated at the funeral of someone who died due to NOT wearing his seatbelt. And I'm sure he thought it wouldn't happen to him.
Did you get to the part where it said she doesn't have health insurance and has no idea how she's going to pay for her treatment - the skin grafts and all the rest of it?
And now, all you conservatives out there. Just try telling me that this woman doesn't have "personal responsibility." Just you try.
You can read more about it right here.
A Nashville man says he and his 10-year-old daughter were victims of road rage Thursday afternoon, all because of a political bumper sticker on his car.
He said Harry Weisiger gave him the bird and rammed into his vehicle, after noticing an Obama-Biden sticker on his car bumper.
No way would I put a bumper sticker on my car. Not in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Now here's what really annoys me: Republicans claim that emergency rooms will treat you for free. They most assuredly do not. If you show up at the emergency room, yes, by law they have to treat you even if you don't have insurance. But they bill you for it. Oh, yes, they do. Sure, many people go bankrupt as a result and so the hospital doesn't get paid in the end. But you still get billed and it gets turned over to collections and your life is made a pure hell until the matter all gets resolved and then if you DO go bankrupt, your credit is ruined.
I just really wish these people would tell the truth.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
And now here's a definition from the site's dictionary:
Yeah, that'll make a cynic outa ya!
Bonus - A little year-end pocket money that for investment bankers usually equals the lifetime earnings of their favorite high school teacher.
Monday, March 22, 2010
No one is more in favor of universal health care than I am but this is not universal and it's not really health care. It is a mandate to buy insurance (which may or may not provide decent coverage) from for-profit corporations.
Here's part of a comment I found on Alternet:
I have a problem with it too.
Well, folks, this is it. Forcing every citizen to patronize these corporations is fascism – and it is a pernicious precedent nobody seems to have considered long term – like the ”corporations are people too” precedent. Maybe we should pay a monthly tithe to WalMart next.
To make it clear, National Health, single payer and the public option are all pure socialism; I don’t have the slightest problem with that. This plan is fascist. That, I have a problem with.
Look, if we really had to do this incrementally, what would be wrong with slowly lowering the age of eligibility for Medicare until everybody was covered?
Sunday, March 21, 2010
So why are we afraid to tax the rich? Seems to me someone wrote an article with a title similar to that question not too long ago.
A story that is not getting nearly enough attention is the ruinous fiscal meltdown occurring in state after state, all across the country.
Taxes are being raised. Draconian cuts in services are being made. Public employees are being fired. The tissue-thin national economic recovery is being undermined. And in many cases, the most vulnerable populations - the sick, the elderly, the young and the poor - are getting badly hurt.
In the first two months of this year, state and local governments across the U.S. cut 45,000 jobs. Additional layoffs are expected as states move ahead with their budgets for fiscal 2011. Increasingly these budgets, instead of helping people, are hurting them, undermining the quality of their lives, depriving them of educational opportunities, preventing them from accessing desperately needed medical care, and so on.
Dr. Redlener [a pediatrician] issued a warning nearly a year ago about the "frightening" toll the recession was taking on children. He told me last April, "We are seeing the emergence of what amounts to a ‘recession generation.' "
Budget cuts also tend to weaken rather than strengthen a state's economy, especially when they entail furloughs or layoffs. Government spending stimulates an economy in recession. And wise spending is an investment in everyone's quality of life.
My favorite candy memory would have to be candy cigarettes. I remember hanging out with my best friend across the street when we were about 8 or 9. We would always want to act cool and be with the older guys on our street who always used to smoke cigarettes.
Well there was no way me and my friend were going to start smoking, we both had bad asthma and could never touch the stuff (or ever want too). We would then always walk down the street with as much change we could find under our couches to the candy store and buy boxes of candy cigarettes. We felt so cool. Looking back now, I don't know why I ever wanted to hang out with people like that, but at the time it felt good to feel like that, and in a weird way, that candy gave us confidence.
My grandfather was a heavy smoker too, and later lost his life to lung cancer, but whenever he saw me with those candy cigarettes, he told me and my friend to stick with the candy, not the real stuff. that has always stayed with me.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Leadership must be based on goodwill. Goodwill does not mean posturing and, least of all, pandering to the mob. It means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers. We are tired of leaders we fear, tired of leaders we love, and of tired of leaders who let us take liberties with them. What we need for leaders are people of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs. But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers. Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|United States Census 2010|
You know what gets me? The right-wingers are all in a twist about the census being an invasion of their privacy (when the census is madated by the Constitution and therefore, you know, LEGAL) but they were just fine with AT&T illegally monitoring their phone conversations. Somebody explain that to me, please.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
There's an article over on Alternet entitled "Our Obsession With Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities and Our Health" which is an excerpt from a new book called The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard. Here are a couple of pargraphs.
I really think many people don't even think about these things very often. I know I'm thinking about it in a much more mindful way since my income dropped considerably on January 1 of this year. And I don't even like to shop.
Before I go any further, I want to say that I'm not against all consumption. One irate viewer of The Story of Stuff film e-mailed me and said, "If you're against consumption, where did you get that shirt you're wearing?" Duh. Of course everyone needs to consume to live. We need food to eat, a roof over our head, medicine when we're sick, and clothes to keep us warm and dry. And beyond those survival needs, there's a level of additional consumption that makes life sweeter. I enjoy listening to music, sharing a bottle of wine with friends, and occasionally donning a nice new dress as much as the next person.
What I question is not consumption in the abstract but consumerism and overconsumption. While consumption means acquiring and using goods and services to meet one's needs, consumerism is the particular relationship to consumption in which we seek to meet our emotional and social needs through shopping, and we define and demonstrate our self-worth through the Stuff we own. And overconsumption is when we take far more resources than we need and than the planet can sustain, as is the case in most of the United States as well as a growing number of other countries. Consumerism is about excess, about losing sight of what's important in the quest for Stuff.
Our whole relationship with both consuming and the items that we consume is worth reflecting about.
There's also a website about it all right here.
Monday, March 15, 2010
-- Claire Sullivan, director of the South Shore Recycling Cooperative south of Boston, commenting on state statistics showing just over one-quarter of all residential trash was recycled in 2008, roughly the same percentage as 10 years ago. (Boston Globe)
Knowledge doesn’t equal behavior. A lot of people just can’t be bothered, which is extremely disheartening. They take the path of least resistance. So if it’s easier to throw it away, they’ll throw it away.
As an example, here's something I didn't know:
The above excerpt is from an article entitled "Disposable Paper Products Tips".
Kleenex, one of the most popular brands of tissue products in the world, contributes to the destruction of ancient forests. Its manufacturer, the Kimberly-Clark corporation, has been unwilling to improve its practices, continuing to rely on paper and pulp made from clearcut ancient forest including North America's Boreal forest. The Boreal Forest is one of the best defenses against increased global warming pollution. Further, it is the home of nearly 50% of all North American bird species, as well as a woodland home for caribou, wolves, hippos, eagles and bears. Let’s keep Kimberly-Clark from turning our precious forests into disposable products that are flushed down the toilet.
Greenpeace is asking Kimberly-Clark to: -- Immediately stop purchasing virgin fiber from endangered forests -- Dramatically increase the amount of recycled fiber that they use for all their tissue products including Kleenex brand toilet paper, facial tissue and napkins -- Only buy virgin fiber from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) eco-certified forests.
By boycotting Kimberly-Clark products, and choosing instead to use products that are environmentally friendly (such as those made with recycled paper), you can help change Kimberly-Clark’s destructive ways. Ancient forest friendly tissue products are already being sold in stores across North America.
I already buy only recycled toilet paper and paper towels but I've continued to buy Kleenex facial tissues because the recycled varieties I've used so far really are a bit scratchy. Now I'm going to look for an alternative for those too.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
It's from a comment over on Unknown News by Becky L.
Can you even begin to imagine how different America would be, if Richard Nixon had been prosecuted and sent to prison for his Watergate-related crimes, instead of getting away with everything thanks to Gerald Ford? If Nixon had spent even six months in jail, it's doubtful that the Republican brand would've recovered in time to elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, so most Americans would never have heard of Bush Sr or the disastrous Bush Jr or names like Newt Gingrich and 4/5 of the Republicans presently in Congress. It would be understood that we the people won't tolerate corruption and criminality in high office, and so we'd have a lot less corruption and criminality...
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Glenn Beck told people to run FROM churches that preach and teach social justice. Glenn, come again?
You're invited to run TO worship this Sunday at a social justice preaching and teaching church, temple, synagogue or mosque of your choice, anywhere in the world!
What a great idea. Even if you don't usually practice some form of organized religion, how about turning up at a house of worship tomorrow that openly promotes social justice as a show of solidarity? There's a place on the page to RSVP. Come on, folks. Let's get those numbers up!
And here's part of a comment that was posted in response:
Under Saddam Hussein, women in government got a year's maternity leave; that is now cut to six months. Under the Personal Status Law in force since Jul. 14, 1958, when Iraqis overthrew the British-installed monarchy, Iraqi women had most of the rights that Western women do.
Now they have Article 2 of the Constitution: "Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation." Sub-head A says "No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." Under this Article the interpretation of women's rights is left to religious leaders - and many of them are under Iranian influence.
"The U.S. occupation has decided to let go of women's rights," Yanar Mohammed who campaigns for women's rights in Iraq says. "Political Islamic groups have taken southern Iraq, are fully in power there, and are using the financial support of Iran to recruit troops and allies. The financial and political support from Iran is why the Iraqis in the south accept this, not because the Iraqi people want Islamic law."
Ha! Very good point, I should say.
Iraq had the highest percentage of female Professors and one of the highest standards of living in the Muslim world before the USA sanctions and invasions.
If one reason the USA is killing Pastuns in Afghanistan is that some of them are Taliban who resist educating women, then should not the USA stormtroopers start shooting themselves for stealing women's rights in Iraq?
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
You can read more right here.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) on Monday defended his opposition to the [health care reform] proposal in an appearance on MSNBC's Countdown With Keith Olbermann, citing as his central concern its lack of a robust public option to provide competition for insurance companies.
"This bill represents a giveaway to the insurance industry," Kucinich said. "$70 billion dollars a year, and no guarantees of any control over premiums, forcing people to buy private insurance, five consecutive years of double-digit premium increases."
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
This is like putting on every student's desk, when you walk into class, five different magazines, several television shows, some shopping opportunities and a phone, and saying, "Look, if your mind wanders, feel free to pick any of these up and go with it."
-- David Cole, Georgetown Law professor, on why he has banned laptops from his classes.
I so agree. I'm very glad I'm no longer in the academic classroom because I would want to ban them too and I'm sure not every teacher can get away with that.
Monday, March 08, 2010
Ironic? Ironic? More like hypocrisy, isn't it? Okay, so she was a little kid and she couldn't help what her parents did. And is she happy that she and her brother benefitted from another country's health care system but is just fine with other citizens of the U.S. not getting care when they need it?
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, a fierce opponent of Democratic health-care reform efforts who has said America under President Obama is headed toward socialism, told a Canadian audience her family used to go to Canada to get medical care when she was growing up.
"My first five years of life we spent in Skagway, Alaska, right there by Whitehorse. Believe it or not -- this was in the '60s -- we used to hustle on over the border for health care that we would receive in Whitehorse. I remember my brother, he burned his ankle in some little kid accident thing and my parents had to put him on a train and rush him over to Whitehorse and I think, isn't that kind of ironic now. Zooming over the border, getting health care from Canada," Palin said a speech Saturday night, according to the Calgary Herald.
Yes, I think the word is hypocrisy.
Sadly, we don't hear much about this observance in the United States.
International Women's Day is celebrated worldwide on 8th March 2010. We have come a long way since 8th March 1975, when the United Nations recognized this day as International Women's Day and dedicated it to the progress of women worldwide. The theme for 2010 is "Equal rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All”, strives to end the discrimination against women and ensure equal participation.
• Three quarters of the poorest in the world are women; one third is without a roof over their head.
• Women form an estimated two-thirds of the global illiterate population of 800 million adults.
• One out of three women runs the risk of being beaten, forced to have sex, and suffer some form of abuse in their lives.
• The commercial flesh trade has an estimated 2 million girls from 5-15 age group entering the fray annually.
And now you have conservatives like Tom Delay saying that people are unemployed because they want to be. Sickening.
Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad.
You can read about that right here.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
The article I want to share with you is called "Time for a U.S. Revolution – Fifteen Reasons" and it's by Bill Quigley. Here's just a little bit:
The whole article is quite short. Please do go read it.
It is time for a revolution. Government does not work for regular people. It appears to work quite well for big corporations, banks, insurance companies, military contractors, lobbyists, and for the rich and powerful. But it does not work for people.
The 1776 Declaration of Independence stated that when a long train of abuses by those in power evidence a design to reduce the rights of people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is the peoples right, in fact their duty to engage in a revolution.
Look at what our current system has brought us and ask if it is time for a revolution?
Over 2.8 million people lost their homes in 2009 to foreclosure or bank repossessions – nearly 8000 each day – higher numbers than the last two years when millions of others also lost their homes.
At the same time, the government bailed out Bank of America, Citigroup, AIG, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the auto industry and enacted the troubled asset (TARP) program with $1.7 trillion of our money.
Wall Street then awarded itself over $20 billion in bonuses in 2009 alone, an average bonus on top of pay of $123,000.
At the same time, over 17 million people are jobless right now. Millions more are working part-time when they want and need to be working full-time.
Also, as I write, there are ninety-six comments. So it's definitely touched a nerve.
I found it right here.
The cracking sound of a whip is actually a sonic boom – this is because the tip of the whip travels faster than the speed of sound. The whip is the first man made device capable of exceeding the sound barrier.
And you can read more about it right here.
Saturday, March 06, 2010
I do hope the president watches the Bill Moyers show.
Dr. Marcia Angell, a single-payer advocate, doesn't think there's much in the President's plan to feel good about. But it's not just the particular version that she objects to — rather that the bill doesn't address what's fundamentally wrong with the American health care system.
"We have chosen, alone among all advanced countries, to leave health care to for-profit industries, to leave health care to businesses, that then distribute health care as a market commodity according to the ability to pay. And not according to medical need. So we have left the financing of health care to private insurance companies that have learned that they can thrive not by providing health care, but by not providing health care to sick people, by avoiding sick people."
The U.S. ranks highest in total cost of care, but according to a recent report by the Commonwealth Fund, it also ranks last among industrialized countries "in preventing deaths through use of timely and effective medical care."
In 1999, Dr. Marcia Angell became the first woman to serve as editor-in-chief of the NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, the premier journal of medical science in the United States.
Friday, March 05, 2010
New York Gov. David Paterson said he will not run for election but he will serve his full term. He's going to finish his term. He's going to keep being governor till the very end. Did you hear that, Sarah? Till the end. He's going to continue to be the governor till the very end.
Also, one of the reasons we have so much illegal immigration from Mexico is that the US flooded the market with our government subsidized, very cheap corn and we drove the small Mexican farmer out of business. It's that so-often ignored "law of unintended consequences" again.
Cheap food causes hunger.
On its face, the statement makes no sense. If food is cheaper it’s more affordable and more people should be able to get an adequate diet. That is true for people who buy food, such as those living in cities. But it is quite obviously not true if you’re the one growing the food. You’re getting less for your crops, less for your work, less for your family to live on. That is as true for Vermont dairy farmers as it is for rice farmers in the Philippines. Dairy farmers today are getting prices for their milk that are well below their costs of production. They are putting less food on their own tables. And they are going out of business at an alarming rate. When the economic dust settles, this will leave us with fewer family farmers producing the dairy products most of us
But you might like to click through and acquaint yourself with the details.
And, once again (lest anyone question the real point here), it's not the sex, it's the hypocrisy.
(Hat tip to MadPriest)
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
There's more. It's powerful. And very much worth reading.
The Earth has its own set of rules, solidly grounded in laws of physics and chemistry and emergent principles of geology and biology. Unlike our economic model, these are not artificial constructs. They are real, and they govern. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, 100-year floods, massive wildfires and disease epidemics are dramatic examples of parts of nature, neither all service nor all harm, creating and destroying, and governed by rules that are indifferent to humans. Our anthropocentric economic model for interacting with the world ignores and is proving to be incompatible with Earth's rules, and is therefore on a direct collision course with them.
To achieve a more accurate model of our relation to nature, we need to see ourselves as part of nature, governed by nature (not economics), beholden to nature for ecosystem services and subject to nature's disturbances.
We need to view our existence in nature as dependent on numerous functions we are unable to perform ourselves, and without which we couldn't survive. And we need to recognize that we now have the power and the reckless inclination, driven by shortsighted anthropocentrism, to disrupt these functions to the degree that Earth will become uninhabitable for us.
Monday, March 01, 2010
-- Tewanee Joseph, CEO of the Four Host First Nations, on the involvement of native peoples in the Vancouver Olympics
The positive energy has been incredible. There has been an outpouring of pride [among natives] the likes of which I've never seen before.
I'm giving you just a sample here but I really want to encourage you to click through and read the whole article if you have a few minutes. Yes, it's on the long side but Bageant writes so well that taking the time is truly worth it:
This is stuff we don't like to think about. We need to think about it, however. Really, we do.
You can argue that people have always screwed other people for a buck, or a drachma or a shekel. You will win with that argument every time. However, the real issue is about how many people got screwed and how hard by how few. Under 250 years of capitalism, the rising take from the ongoing screw job has grown astronomical. Enough to buy every political tub-thumper in Washington and a Supreme Court. Enough that if the elite cartels on Wall Street rip 300 million Americans for trillions, leaving them squinting at the fine print on their eviction notices, they cannot do jack about it. Except pay the next ransom demand for their credit . On their credit cards. Then sign their children into future debt slavery.
The "crisis" was set in motion by institutions lending each other non-existent money none of them can pay back. Consequently, the masses are once again expected to produce enough material value in the world to make the funny money real, and shore up the system one more time. To "raise the money" to do this will require generations of future productivity shoveled into the furnace of corporate capitalism's banking machinery. There was nothing left to steal, so extorting the future was the only option left. Assuming the skimmers and the scammers manage to extract enough public monies to pump up corporations one more time, there will be another and bigger disaster not far down the road. We don't need the Oracle of Delphi to predict this. Capitalism is unstable as hell, like an unbalanced dreidel that keeps tilting ever more wildly off center until it falls over or eventually hits the wall. We can now see the wall from here: Massive ecological collapse and species extinction. "Economic downturn," even "crisis," does not quite describe that approaching wall. All of America hopes we will miss that wall at least one more time.
History as we learn it in school is the owning class' version. Despite what we were taught, America's Constitution is mainly a property rights document, and those with the most property are naturally ascendant at all times in this country. Generation after generation of this ascent was bound to lead to what we see now.