We cannot know for certain how long we have here. We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way. We cannot know God's plan for us.
What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with purpose, and love, and joy. We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them, and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves. We can learn from our mistakes and grow from our failures. And we can strive at all costs to make a better world, so that someday, if we are blessed with the chance to look back on our time here, we can know that we spent it well; that we made a difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of other human beings.
For the truth is that I already know as much about my fate as I need to know. The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
the saddest are these: "It might have been!'"
--John Greenleaf Whittier
Dum vivimus, vivamus!
[While we live, let us live!]
'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever
but slenderly known himself
--King Lear, Shakespeare [I, i]
I recently went to the Mayo Clinic with a friend, who remarked what a dismal experience the clinic was. I did not see it that way.
Sobering, perhaps. Realizing that most people are there because they are unwell but trying to get better, and recognizing that we are all hurtling toward the same end, I was actually uplifted. Of the elderly he said, "But, they're all dying!" "We're all dying," said I.
Tender mercies abound. Frail, frail, the elderly couple at the check in station, he much taller than she, his hand on her neck and shoulder. Well-attired, they are still a handsome couple, but one can imagine when he was not so tentative. So gently they walk away, he holding under her elbow for her support.
Almost everyone at Mayo except the most blighted manages a smile or a kind word. At the outdoor cafe was overheard numerous phone conversations, all ending with a sincere -- an almost desperate -- "I love you."
Words of encouragement were plentiful. "You're walking better today," even when one could not imagine the walk to be much worse. A towel wrapped around a waist falls, and a worker picks it up and wraps it back around the woman's waist, saying, "We women understand what it is to take care of each other." Such simple grace.
A Mayo visit is sobering in the way that reading the obituaries is. One realizes that a life -- every life -- can be squeezed into two paragraphs: He was a loving (blank), a member of (blank) church; worked (blank); left behind (blank). That is all. There are few grandiose moments, though each one has the potential for small exultations and gratitude.
In college, I declined a job request to be a companion to a resident at the local senior center, but the job fascinated me, nonetheless. The man sought a companion to walk and talk with him for one hour, three days a week. That man may be dead now, and I missed an opportunity to learn another life, and see things through eyes wiser than my own.
What amends have you made today? What pettishness have you avoided? Did you really listen to someone with an open heart? Are you making something beautiful -- discovering your light?
Macbeth's tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow are among the saddest words in English literature. What would happen if, just for today, you lay your burden down?
NBC's Today Show has hired Jenna "stick your tongue out at the media" Bush as a new correspondent! She'll do "one or two" shows a month and they won't be political (Honest!)
"It wasn't something I'd always dreamed to do," she said. "But I think one of the most important things in life is to be open-minded and to be open-minded for change." (Kinda like the murderer saying he’s sorry for killing that liberal family wherever, and thinks we should all just get a long…now…after he did it!)
She "will contribute stories about once a month on issues like education." Maybe she'll show us examples of how No Child Left Behind is working so well!
Right! As an added feature, she and her sister can report on the dangers of underage drinking. Remember, Just Say No...to everything until you're 21 then you can drink, smoke, screw and party like it's 1970 and you just learned you won't go to Vietnam.
When Liz Cheney doesn't get the nod for whatever orifice she's running for, never fear, there's a sl(o)t for her on "Today", too. She can work the "Consumer Reporter Angles" to expose fraud in business and advertising.
Maybe, too, Mary Cheney can be hired on to work with Kathy lee as religious fundamentalist consultant to show how understanding today's Evangelicals are with guest appearances by long time Christians like Anita Bryant. She may even get upstanding, pure, lily white stalwarts like Pat Boone to explain how his first born came along after he and wifey-pooh were only married 6 months...and there's always room for Bristol Palin to be her consultant on abstinence with advice on concern for the unborn child by her mother, Sarah!
Lynne Cheney deserves a spot on whatever reality show NBC offers. She would be the perfect representative to author a segment on Gay and Lesbian Affairs or maybe the occasional Bi-Sexual Hour and How I learned S&M from the Master. She might even get some special guests like John Yoo and Al Gonzo to make cameos.
Lastly, Laura Bush, not to be left out, could cover stories about teen girls, dumped by their boyfriends, who take matters into their own hands. Her first episode could deal with the proper procedure for removing those nasty police records that could hold a young girl back from becoming wife of a future president.
Just when we thought a mentalist like Sarah Palin wasn’t qualified to be a sports reporter…
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to put my TV up for sale on eBay.
A report on Internet speed in the United States says the country isn’t likely to catch world leader South Korea for 15 years.
Or for much longer — at current growth rates, the United States will only reach South Korea’s speed today in 15 years.
The report, by the Communications Workers of America, details Internet download and upload speeds all over the United States and some of its affiliated territories. In the last year, the average upload speed in the United States “barely changed,” the report said, and download speed only grew a little, from 4.2 megabits per second in 2008 to 5.1 megabits per second in 2009.
In South Korea, average download speed is four times faster — 20.4 megabits per second. The United States also lags Japan (15.8 mbps), Sweden (12.8 mbps), the Netherlands (11 mbps) and 24 other countries.
The report said U.S. speeds aren’t sufficient for the needs of in-home medical monitoring, distance learning programs, or to run a modern business from home.
The report calls for more investment in the nation’s Internet infrastructure. It also suggests shifting the outdated universal service payments that support voice telephone service over to pay for better and cheaper high-speed Internet service for everyone.
Source: Albany News
As advanced as we like to think we are, thee are several forces that still kick our butt and Mother Nature is the greatest of these. Whether it is an earthquake, tsunami, volcano, tornado or hurricane, nothing is the same afterward. Lives are lost, property is destroyed and everyone runs around blaming someone other than themselves. The further from the event, the more likely it will be perceived to be the victim's fault. And the more likely it is that someone will take advantage of the circumstances.
Katrina had my bells going before she made landfall. Actually, ever since and probably for the rest of my life. Four years later and American citizens are still suffering from the effects of both Mother Nature and deliberate criminal negligence on the part of the government. Make no mistake, the federal government took full advantage of the opportunity to rearrange a city and state to their advantage.
Mother Jones has an article fleshing out some of the background on the situation in New Orleans after Katrina that deliberately escaped the notice of the media. True to form most people are upset about the racial implications, which are pretty bad and more than likely to be true, whereas I find the police state aspect to be even more frightening. All the people currently proudly strutting around with their firearms on display would be in for a rude awakening if the same tactics were used in their area as were used against the citizens of New Orleans.
It started immediately after the storm and flood hit, when civilian aid was scarce—but private security forces already had boots on the ground. Some, like Blackwater (which has since redubbed itself Xe), were under federal contract, while a host of others answered to wealthy residents and businessmen who had departed well before Katrina and needed help protecting their property from the suffering masses left behind. According Jeremy Scahill's reporting in The Nation, Blackwater set up an HQ in downtown New Orleans. Armed as they would be in Iraq, with automatic rifles, guns strapped to legs, and pockets overflowing with ammo, Blackwater contractors drove around in SUVs and unmarked cars with no license plates.
"When asked what authority they were operating under,'' Scahill reported, "one guy said, 'We're on contract with the Department of Homeland Security.' Then, pointing to one of his comrades, he said, 'He was even deputized by the governor of the state of Louisiana. We can make arrests and use lethal force if we deem it necessary.' The man then held up the gold Louisiana law enforcement badge he wore around his neck.''
The Blackwater operators described their mission in New Orleans as "securing neighborhoods," as if they were talking about Sadr City. When National Guard troops descended on the city, the Army Times described their role as fighting "the insurgency in the city." Brigadier Gen. Gary Jones, who commanded the Louisiana National Guard's Joint Task Force, told the paper, "This place is going to look like Little Somalia. We're going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control."
Ten days after the storm, the New York Timesreported that although the city was calm with no signs of looting (though it acknowledged this had taken place previously), "New Orleans has turned into an armed camp, patrolled by thousands of local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, as well as National Guard troops and active-duty soldiers." The local police superintendent ordered all weapons, including legally registered firearms, confiscated from civilians. But as the Times noted, that order didn't "apply to hundreds of security guards hired by businesses and some wealthy individuals to protect property…[who] openly carry M-16's and other assault rifles."
Isn't it fascinating how some people on the right are so worried about Obama taking their guns at will when Bush had already accomplished it and there wasn't a peep from the NRA before, during or after he did it?
The poor, not necessarily black (Barry Cowsill being one sad example), people had no way to get out of town before the storm. Not being able to drive, they're the ones who use public transportation the most, they were dependent on those who had cars or the aforementioned public transportation. Since history seems to show that disaster plans are practiced but rarely implemented, it is no surprise that bus drivers were evacuated with the rest of the middle class and there was no one left to drive the buses that everyone later saw underwater. After the levees broke the poor's only hope was a coordinated rescue. And we all know how well that turned out.
Rescue and return was never the point. Collection and dispersion was the goal, even to the point of separating children from their parents. Katrina is a shameful chapter in American history and the ramifications will not be going away soon. Now that the government has had a satisfying taste of martial law and seen how willing the citizens were to turn on each other, any disaster can be turned into a public relations tool to convince the citizenry that everything will return to normal as long as they follow the directions of those wearing uniforms and carrying weapons. You will be assimilated.
Or you will die. From the elements, be they weather related or lead poisoning.
Some can't reconcile what they believe about the propaganda that is fed to them with their own positive experiences with public programs like Medicare.
As the health care discussion has descended from contentious to surreal, there is perhaps one message that encapsulates better than any other the incoherence of those expressions of rage seen at town hall meetings across the country: "Keep government out of my Medicare!" [snip]
Many observing these debates from abroad have probably concluded that we, as a nation, have finally gone completely mad. And it's hard to argue otherwise.
How sane could be a polity that sits by with relative complacence when its leaders launch devastating and groundless invasions of foreign lands but approach a full-on rebellion when those leaders make some modest moves to deliver decent health care at a price people can afford?
And how could these people be so divorced from the dynamics of their own health care that they don't appear to understand that the Medicare they value so highly is very much a government-run health care program?
Or they should at least go for a trial separation:
Raymond and Louise Denny of La Center were surprised last week to receive a mailing from Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, entitled "2009 Future of American Health Survey."
After reading it, their surprise turned to outrage.
They were especially irked by the following:
"It has been suggested that the government could use voter registration to determine a person's political affiliation, prompting fears that GOP voters might be discriminated against for medical treatment in a Democrat-imposed health care rationing system. Does this possibility concern you?"
If what you want is a real debate, let's have it. Let's ask why countries around the world have better health care outcomes than we do at half the cost. Let's ask why we are the only nation in the industrialized world that does not have a national health care program guaranteeing health care for all of their people. Let's ask why some 60 million Americans, including many with health insurance, do not have access to a physician on a regular basis. Let's ask why private insurance companies, which pay their CEOs outrageous compensation packages, deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or refuse to extend their policies when they need it most. Those are the kinds of questions that we ought to be discussing.
LSU Professor and Director of Hurricane Center Canned...
Ah yes, life in modern academia. The prime directive? Conform. Think like we do. Don't rock the boat. And heaven help you if you piss off the people running the government grant gravy train.
LSU was dying to get rid of this guy. Why? He had the audacity to publicly tell the truth. And we can't have that, after all.
Greg Palast on Crooks and Liars: Katrina, Four Years Later
...This week, special for Crooks and Liars readers, download for free, Palast's film for Democracy Now!, "Big Easy to Big Empty: How the White House Drowned New Orleans."
There's another floater. Four years on, there's another victim face down in the waters of Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Ivor van Heerden.
I don't get to use the word "heroic" very often. Van Heerden is heroic. The Deputy Director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, it was van Heerden who told me, on camera, something so horrible, so frightening, that, if it weren't for his international stature, it would have been hard to believe:
"By midnight on Monday the White House knew. Monday night I was at the state Emergency Operations Center and nobody was aware that the levees had breached. Nobody."
On the night of August 29, 2005, van Heerden was shut in at the state emergency center in Baton Rouge, providing technical advice to the rescue effort. As Hurricane Katrina came ashore, van Heerden and the State Police there were high-fiving it: Katrina missed the city of New Orleans, turning east.
What they did not know was that the levees had cracked. For crucial hours, the White House knew, but withheld the information that the levees of New Orleans had broken and that the city was about to drown. Bush's boys did not notify the State of the flood to come, which would have allowed police to launch an emergency hunt for the thousands who remained stranded.
"Fifteen hundred people drowned. That's the bottom line," said von Heerden. He shouldn't have told me that. The professor was already in trouble for saying, publicly, that the levees around New Orleans were no good, too short, by 18". They couldn't stand up to a storm like Katrina. He said it months before Katrina hit -- in a call to the White House, and later in the press.
So, even before Katrina, even before our interview, the professor was in hot water. Van Heerden was told by LSU officials that his complaints jeopardized funding from the Bush Administration. They tried to gag him. He didn't care: he ripped off the gag and spoke out.
It didn't matter to Bush, to the state, to the university, that van Heerden was right -- devastatingly right. Exactly as van Heerden predicted, the levees could not stand up to the storm surge.
In 2006, I met van Heerden in his office at the university's hurricane center; a cubby filled with charts of the city under water. He's a soft-spoken, even-tempered man, given to understatement and academic reserve. But his words were hand grenades: the Bush White House did nothing about the levees, despite warning after warning.
Why? A hurricane is an Act of God. But a levee failure is an Act of Bush -- of the federal government. Under the Flood Control Act of 1928, once the levees break, it's Washington's responsibility to save lives -- and to compensate the victims for lost homes and lost loved ones.
By telling me this, the professor had to know he was putting his job on the line. This week marks the fourth anniversary of the drowning of New Orleans.
Shakoor Aljuwani of the Rebuilding Lives Coalition reminds me it is also the fourth year of exile for more than half of the low-income black residents who once lived in the Crescent City. In the Lower Ninth Ward, 81% have yet to return.
And it marks the end of Dr. van Heerden's career at LSU. They got him. Once the network cameras were turned away from New Orleans, as America and Anderson Cooper shifted attention to Brad and Angelina and other news, the University put an end to Dr. van Heerden. "In 2006 they started the nonsense - they stopped me from teaching. They tried last year to get faculty to vote me out."
His contract was not renewed; he was forced out too, dumped along with the chief of the Hurricane Center who led the academics who supported van Heerden's research. The Man Who Was Right was fired....Rest of article here.
Eight years into the war in Afghanistan and all we have to show for it is that we are stuck in another land war in Asia. Osama bin Laden hasn't been accounted for, our troops are dying at the highest rates (more have died from March to now than in the first three years) since the war started and the Taliban are freely reimposing harsh penalties on Afghani citizens for participating in democracy. Next thing you know, they'll be talking to a Sicilian.
Eight years in and the military in Afghanistan have very few hi tech hospitals. How can this crap still be happening? I understand about going to war with the army you have, but shouldn't the army have weapons, armor and decent medical care by now? 70 minutes to get to a decent hospital after you've been involved in a roadside bombing doesn't sound very efficient. Or lifesaving.
Science doesn't seem to be a big thing in Texas. If the fire marshal had training instead of strutting around like Fire Marshal Bill, Cameron Todd Willingham might have been exonerated instead of spending the next thirteen years before he was put to death trying to get people to believe he was innocent. Just because he wasn't an angel doesn't mean he was a devil. Further proof that the death penalty process is barbaric and an in your face example of cruel and inhuman treatment. Even more so if you're innocent.
Do you ever think about what you're thinking about? I know I'm strange and I've known for a long time. I'm not autistic but it would be a good bet that my baby brother and I have more than a touch of Asperger's. As a small example I really don't like bright lights or loud noises. During my last year of school I wore sunglasses and a hat (at night) because I couldn't take the fluorescent lights anymore. And the hum was a constant that grated on my nerves. As a child I could spend hours watching the dust motes in the light or follow patterns in the ceiling and I still do. As an adult I catch myself doing long division when I'm not actively paying attention to something else. And now there is an application that will let me expand my mathematics skill, such as it may be. Now if only I could convince myself that washing dishes was a repetitive action that I enjoyed...
Rest in peace Senator Kennedy. Thank you for all you did and I hope that there will be someone who can take up the liberal torch. Not liberal by the conservative standard, but liberal in the truest sense of the word.
Thanks to a subpoena issued by the campaign of Ohio's 2nd District Democratic U.S. Congressional candidate David Krikorian, her remarkable allegations of blackmail, bribery, espionage, infiltration, and criminal conspiracy by current and former members of the U.S. Congress, high-ranking State and Defense Department officials, and agents of the government of Turkey are seen and heard here, in full, for the first time, in her under-oath deposition. Both the complete video tape and transcript of the deposition follow below.
Though there was much concern, prior to her testimony, that the Obama Dept. of Justice might re-invoke the "State Secrets Privilege" to keep her from speaking, they did not do so. Nor did they choose to be present at the Washington D.C. deposition. [snip]
Among those named by Edmonds as part of a broad criminal conspiracy: Reps. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Dan Burton (R-IN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bob Livingston (R-LA), Stephen Solarz (D-NY), Tom Lantos (D-CA), as well as an unnamed, still-serving Congresswoman (D) said to have been secretly videotaped, for blackmail purposes, during a lesbian affair.
High-ranking officials from the Bush Administration named in her testimony, as part of the criminal conspiracy on behalf of agents of the Government of Turkey, include Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Marc Grossman, and others. [snip]
Edmonds' on-the-record disclosures also include bombshell details concerning outed covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson's front company, Brewster Jennings. Edmonds alleges the front company had actually been shut down in August of 2001 --- three years prior to Bob Novak's public disclosure of the covert operative's identity --- following a tip-off to a wire-tap target about the true nature of the CIA front company. The cover was blown, Edmonds alleges, by Marc Grossman, who was, at the time, the third highest-ranking official in the U.S. State Department. Prior to that, Grossman served as ambassador to Turkey. He now works "for a Turkish company called Ihals Holding," according to Edmonds' testimony.
I had a dream last night. I dreamed that I supported a man for president who espoused progressive values. I dreamed that I even voted for him believing his rhetoric that he was, if not a leftist, at least he was left of center, a change I felt we needed after the previous years.
As the dream progressed ( ironic, eh?) the man I supported won the election and I was elated because the end of those terrible years was in sight.
The man spoke convincingly of changes he’d make in how the government was run. But as he assumed office, his appointments confused me. Gone were the special interests from the previous administration, in most parts. But in their place newer, updated in time only, versions of the past occupants were filling the previous positions.
As more and more important positions were filled with people who followed not a leftist or even a moderate line, I began to question the man’s commitment to his campaign promises.
All around me were those who said to be patient that he would come around. More and more right of center people were installed in his administration.
I grew restless, nearly waking when he proposed help for the common man in the form of health care relief. But as time went on, he changed his view. Was that what he meant by change we could believe in; change of what he promised?
After a while it became obvious that things were not changing as he promised. Things were getting worse.
Some attributed this to those he chose for such high positions in his government. They still waited. “You’ll see, he’ll come around”, they said. But he wasn’t “coming around.”
He appointed even more of the people who caused the problems this country faced; people who were directly responsible for starting the troubles in the first place.
Everything the man did appeared to be opposite what progressive logic dictated. Every speech he gave people seemed more and more soporific, almost hypnotic, hearing only what he wanted them to hear.
Somehow I knew the end of the dream was near. You can always tell. There was a vote taking place after the health bill was pushed through that didn’t help any common American but enriched the insurance companies.
On television the man gave a speech saying this was the best that could be done because everyone had to work together to make things better…for someone, I didn’t catch who he said.
The media heaped praises on Congress for working so hard and their bipartisan efforts. Glorious parties were held to celebrate passage of the new bill.
And outside the parties, other groups of men were gathering, discussing future bills with Right Wing and Centrist Democrat Representatives and Senators…and the man; men who represented the churches. They all met with the man. They all were smiling.
I awoke in a cold sweat realizing thankfully, it was only a dream. I nearly overslept. That wouldn’t do. After all, I was going to my new job at the coal plant and I didn’t want to get fired today, right after the election.
It was only a dream. Tomorrow would be better.
Attorney General Eric Holder names John Durham, a career Justice Department prosecutor from Connecticut, to lead the inquiry as special prosecutor to investigate "brutal interrogation practices" from the Bush-era.
We learned in July that Attorney General Eric Holder was leaning towards appointing a special prosecutor to investigate "brutal interrogation practices" from the Bush-era. Today, Holder did exactly that. [snip]
Holder's office issued a statement on today's announcement, which appears in full below.
The report of the 2004 CIA Inspector General on Torture has been released.
Classified for years — and still heavily redacted — here is former CIA Inspector General John Helgerson’s 2004 report into the CIA’s Bush-era interrogations operations. The ACLU sued to obtain the controversial report, which was so charged within the agency that former CIA Director Michael Hayden clashed with Helgerson over the inspector general’s independence and investigative authority.
The document, released Monday by the Justice Department, says one interrogator said a colleague had told Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that if any other attacks happened in the United States, "We're going to kill your children."
Another interrogator allegedly tried to convince a different terror suspect detainee that his mother would be sexually assaulted in front of him — though the interrogator in question denied making such a threat.
It isn't the President who termed it "torture", it was society. And the law. Many years before the Bush administration started using it on people they deemed less than human we had prosecuted and executed people for using those same procedures.
Panetta was reportedly upset over plans by Attorney General Eric Holder to open a criminal investigation of allegations that CIA officers broke the law in carrying out certain interrogation techniques that President Obama has termed "torture."
Oh good grief! No wonder America is becoming dumber by the minute. Name a holiday that isn't about selling or buying. If it isn't sheets, furniture or clothes, it's candy and/or diamonds. While Roman holidays seemed to be about debauchery, American holidays are about money and shopping. December 7th is barely remembered and April 19th quickly became a mote in the dustbin of history so why should September 11th be any different?
As most sane people know, a good majority of Freepers are off their rocker. Well, the Freepers are not only rocking to a different beat, they are rocking on a whole different planet. The "birther" fringe is now preoccupied with whether or not Obama has been circumcised. The General found this so you don't have to.
The only other thing that hit me was that Sinclair said BO was not circumcised. When my son was born in a hospital that was done as a matter of routine without even consulting us. Would the same be for Hawaii? OTOH People born at home or in some other cultures are not circumcised.
Okay, they aren't on another planet, they are occupying a whole different universe. Bizarroland.
I accidentally got bit a few years ago when Shai was playing with another pug. They were between the couch and the coffee table and got under my legs while they were play nipping at each other and Jack caught me in the back of the knee. He didn't break the skin but I had a four inch wide bruise for more than two weeks. And it hurt.
The CDC says adults with two or more dogs at home are five times more likely to get bitten than people with dog-free households.
Please tell me that they didn't spend money to figure that out.
During August's summer daze, right-wing mini-mobs (egged on by corporate interests) have run wild at town hall meetings, propagating all kinds of smears and misinformation in an effort to derail an important Democratic campaign. Yet the mini-mob members have been treated as deeply important newsmakers by the press during a slow summer news month.
Sound familiar? Recall August 2004, when the right-wing Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (egged on by corporate interests) stole a month's worth of campaign headlines by propagating all kinds of smears and misinformation in an attempt to derail an important Democratic campaign. Yet they were treated as deeply important newsmakers by the press during a slow summer news month. [snip]
This year, the press has handed over untold hours of free airtime to mini-mob members whose sole purpose seems to be to spread as much fear as possible. (The ones who show up toting guns and Nazi posters make that point rather emphatically.)
Fringe players on the right are making wild accusations that cannot be backed up by fact. The mainstream media response? We must cover the phenomenon daily, even hourly! [snip]
What's amazing is that even a conservative Republican congressman has conceded that the mini-mobs (this summer's news superstars) appear to be completely detached from reality.
So the public, which -- again, understandably -- doesn't know much about a complex policy and lacks the time and resources to find out for itself, is exposed to a nonstop barrage of spin, misinformation, and outright lies about health care. And the media, overestimating how much people actually know, don't think they have to make the facts clear every day, over and over again. Is it really any wonder that people believe things that aren't true?
How the media made this summer's political insanity inevitable
When was the last time conservatives approached a big fight without relying heavily, if not exclusively, on misinformation and deception? Why would anyone have thought this time would be different?
Likewise, the increasingly obvious fact that conservatives aren't actually interested in working toward bipartisan reform -- this seems to have taken reporters by surprise. But when was the last time conservatives made significant concessions in order to win bipartisan support for anything?
What makes all this shock really amazing is that so much of political journalism consists of pontification by people who have supposedly been around and understand how things work -- and yet they're constantly stunned when history repeats itself in the most predictable of ways.
And the latest realization that has so many reporters flabbergasted: the misinformation has worked! People believe falsehoods about health care! Many people don't even know basic facts about the current system!
Gee, you don't say? Many people don't know the basic facts about anything. That's one of the basic facts of American democracy. And when people are repeatedly told things that aren't true by people they trust, they tend to believe those things. That's one of the basic facts of ... people.
Surely reporters -- whose jobs, after all, involve communicating with the public -- are aware of these basic facts of life? Surely they've heard the expression about a lie making it halfway around the world before the truth has time to get its boots on? So why are they so surprised? Particularly when they've spent the bulk of the health care debate talking about politics and polls and chattering endlessly about who is "winning the message war" rather than repeatedly and clearly explaining to viewers the facts about health care.
Just look at the way much of the media have reacted to the belated realization that the public is woefully misinformed: By speculating -- sorry, "analyzing" -- why this is the case, and guessing -- sorry, "analyzing" -- whether the White House can develop a "message" that "works." And what aren't they doing in reaction to this realization? Clearly and repeatedly explaining the facts. And they're surprised people don't know the truth. Unbelievable.
In fact, it is the media's behavior that has made this summer's madness inevitable. When they let the loudest yellers and most audacious liars drive the discourse, they guarantee that people who can't win on the merits will yell and lie. When they focus on politics rather than policy, they guarantee the public will remain in the dark about basic facts. When they repeat false claims, or treat them as he-said, she-said situations, they guarantee that those false claims will sway confused citizens. When they continue to give a platform to people who have a history of lying -- and assume those people are telling the truth this time -- they guarantee those people will continue to lie.
As long as the media approach their jobs this way, we're going to see the same thing play out over and over again. And each time, the media will be shocked -- shocked -- that some people lie, and other people believe lies.
Or they could do things differently: They could set aside the punditry and the "analysis" and the polls and the freak show and dedicate themselves to explaining the facts about health care. And explaining the facts means more than calling a lie a lie -- though that is hugely important. It also means proactively telling people how the health care system works, and what the proposed reforms are, how they would work, and what the likely effects would be.
Okay, I'm breaking down and buying myself a pistol. Three of them to be exact, all strategically placed within the house. And unlike the people from the right wing fringe who strut around using their Second Amendment "right" to intimidate people into not using their First Amendment right to free speech to express an opposing viewpoint (Arthur Frommer is trying to decide if he should recommend a travel boycott of Arizona but he personally has canceled all his trips), I'm going to be using mine to try and stop Shadow from barking at everything that happens outside in the parking lot. Of course I will be using water instead of bullets and neither the President nor innocent bystanders can be affected by my actions.
And so it begins. The closing of for profit nursing homes due to budget cuts. 88 elderly people, many who don't have families and all who are on Medi-Cal, are being forced from their nursing facility into whatever dump can be found for them. And the seniors have to hope that their new home doesn't end up closing due to the asinine budget cuts the Governator has determined must be done in his ongoing effort to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the elderly. While the rest of the country worries about end-of-life counseling nonexistent death panels, these defenseless members of society have become pawns in the California budget power game. Isn't that just great? The generation that lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War get to end their lives in urine scented dormitories with the same sad eyed compatriots. Until they are moved to different facilities that can warehouse them for ten cents less a person.
The 47 million uninsured and the 30 million underinsured in this country don't need and can't use tax credits. When making rent is an issue, when feeding the kids and keeping the lights on consumes your budget then money later on is not going to help. Simply put, what people need is to be able to access medical, dental and eye care when they need them, not when their budget says they can afford to. If you don't have $50 for a doctor's visit you either hope the problem goes away on its own, that you don't have to go to the emergency room or that you learn to live with the issue. None of those are optimal health care options and not only do they directly affect the quality of life, they also affect the quantity of life. Maybe if we were a healthier country we wouldn't be so angry.
I almost feel sorry for him but then I remember I have two Article 15s for disobeying a lawful order and know he had a choice and he took the coward's way out. And now, many more years later than it should have taken, he's sorry about it. Interesting how he served three years under house arrest for the deaths of 500 people and Charles Graner got ten years in Leavenworth for abuse, conspiracy and assault. From a government that condoned torture.
If there's any moving in with grown children/relatives to be done, try to be the one doing the moving in.
My mother has the best deal in the universe. I used to think the creatures with the easiest, most pampered lives in the world were my various horses, dogs and cats. They sleep all night and most of the day---people pet them and hand-feed them around the clock---they are responsibility-free. But Mother's even got them beat. She can drive a car and she's got her own credit card!
I tell my daughters on a semiregular basis that I'm taking notes on Mother's gig here, because I'll be moving in with them as soon as Mama moves out. By all means, live with your children as soon as possible. Sit down in the middle of the road and declare yourself Helpless. It looks like a great life to me. Those who have to wait on you night and day may yammer and complain from time to time, but you don't hear so good by then, either.
As soon as possible after you become gainfully employed, become the child who lives far, far away.
Dark Wraith Publishing presents The Dark Wraith Audio Lecture Series, specially edited, streaming audio versions of academic lectures in economics and business offered as a public service to visitors at this Website.
Click on the link above to launch the lecture in your computer's default media player or use the shockwave player below to play the lecture.
This lecture sets forth the social problem economics as a discipline addresses: How do different individuals, groups, and societies allocate their scarce resources among competing possible end uses? Early in the lecture, the students are reminded of the essential importance of "opportunity cost" to economic decision making. Opportunity cost is the cost of the best foregone alternative. Whenever any choice is made, be it by an individual, a group, a business, or an entire society, many things are surrendered that would have been alternatives. The most valuable of those is the opportunity cost of the choice that was actually accepted.
At the personal level, opportunity costs incurred are often those involving the allocation of time. Choosing leisure (recreation, sleep, resting) is at the opportunity cost of the best wage that could have been made by working, instead. In fact, as I explain to students, choosing to be in a class for three hours a week, with two hours of studying for each in-class hour, means that a 16-week semester of economics for a person who could make $10 per hour at a job has an opportunity cost of $1440. (That's $10 per hour × 9 hours per week × 16 weeks.) The tuition the "direct cost" a student pays is a fraction of this "indirect cost"; hence, decision-making about whether or not to go to college is driven far more by a hidden cost than by the out-of-pocket money paid for tuition, books, and commuting or residency expenses. (That's why college enrollments generally go up during recessions: overall, wages are lower, so the opportunity cost of being in a class is lower!)
When a company chooses to use land it owns for a project, that land becomes an opportunity cost that must be included in the overall cost of the project. Even though the company owns the land and therefore does not have to pay for it to carry out the project, that land could have been used for other purposes and could, in fact, have been sold; the fact that it was not sold means that it is a very real cost of the project.
At the societal level, whenever a nation chooses to take on a given project, an entirely thorough cost-benefit analysis would have to include costs related to what must be given up for this project to be carried out. Although these costs do not appear as money out of the treasury in any immediate sense, they are nevertheless real, and they will express themselves sooner or later in the relative success or failure of the project and the losses incurred from the projects that had to be surrendered.
With that brief survey of opportunity cost as background, I encourage readers here to listen to this altogether engaging lecture, offered as a service of Dark Wraith Publishing. Although you will incur the opportunity cost of about 40 minutes of your time, it is well worth that modest expense. You are being afforded the chance to sit in on a real college lecture taught by an award-winning professor, who also happens to be your host here at The Dark Wraith Forums.
What more could an intelligent person with an insatiable thirst for quality education want?
All alone, or in twos,
The ones who really love you,
Walk up and down outside the wall.
Some hand in hand,
And some gather together in bands,
The bleeding hearts and the artists,
Make their stand.
And when they've given you their all,
Some stagger and fall.
After all, it's not easy,
Banging your heart against some mad bugger's wall.
To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.
In private email, my friend Suzanne wrote:
In a message dated 8/20/2009 4:41:47 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, deb writes: I think Obama lets the right babble and storm and get really stupid, then comes back strong with simple good sense when they're tired out and start fighting among their own.
Yes, but he waits so long to do it...it makes me so nervous, especially because of main stream media is so in the bag for corporate America.
the lakoff yesterday in Huff Post speaks to this:
It also speaks to us. So ready we are to expect reason to carry forth healing and sanity. But the bubbles keep that from happening. How do you get around bubbles, so free floating and myriad?
Here and in many restaurant chains favored by certain -- can I say "class" of people? -- speaking of a socialization, learned identity rather than simply cash, region, religion, or even education -- Fox news is on all the tvs all the time. People who seem perfectly reasonable actually watch O'Reilly, and think he's "Funny." Amazing. How and why? Bubbles.
Neighbors I'm fond of wanted me to keep writing letters to the local paper because they wanted to see "the fight." Fight is not my goal. I wrote simple corrections re torture, gunlaws, joe-the-plumber, and was pursued beyond print -- even by phone -- by people asking where I got my info, warning me off the socialist media, etc. They are simply convinced.
One to one on the health care issue, you can get through. People have all had their experiences, and you can speak to that. Had a good pow-wow in the doc's office with 5 - 6 local elders, who really thought they would lose the choice of their doc etc. if "Obama's" plan went through. The plan needs to be defined, and that's the process at work here, and people need to see that. Need to be part of that. But no, Fox and Clear Channel and even the Wall St Journal (all Murdoch's News Corp) has convinced its consumers that "Obama's Plan" (tm) is the thin edge of the wedge of big "S" Socialism: some sort of comic book Stalinism. Hard to break through the carefully crafted bubble mirage.
As Giordano Bruno said, propaganda is a sort of magic.
Reaction? Once again, dear progressives, Obama is Yes WE can. There's a WE part to that. As in -- YOU define policy by helping to shape it. Obama is who he has always been: a leader of an active and ongoing process called democracy.
What did you expect? Bush?
Get up out of your chair. There's mouths to feed, things that need fixin'. Yes. We can.
Waah! Waah! Waah! Imagine that you are capable of intelligent thought instead of being a self serving crybaby and conflating two separate issues in one whining article. Yes, becoming a doctor is a grueling, time consuming and expensive endeavor. But it is one which should be considered if your primary reason for doing it is to help people. If it's to pad your pocketbook then you should have been a stockbroker. Since when is earning a lot of money a moral right?
Now imagine how you would feel if the rest of us got together and proposed that the government should become the primary client for medical services. As part of the deal, the government will determine how much you will be paid. Lawyers, business executives, electricians, and plumbers (to name but a few) will all be allowed to command what the market will pay for their services-but not you. Simply because it is possible that a majority may be found who think this scheme is a good idea, you may lose all the benefits of offering your services in a free economy.
Is this situation really fair? Have your fellow citizens honored your inherent rights and freedoms? They have not, and this why a public option is so offensive. It represents a move by a majority of citizens to control the economic well-being of a person who has endured extraordinary hardship and trials in order to become a much-needed provider of medical services.
I've had doctors like him and it is one of the many reasons I don't trust them and why health care reform is so necessary. Ever since it became business oriented the quality of the care provided and the quality of the provider have suffered. We make fun of Cuba but we are just above them when it comes to health care outcomes. Perhaps people should think about that instead of "death panels".
Which is why I'm confused by something. During Terri Schiavo's last weeks and after her death many people crafted living wills and discussed advanced directives with their loved ones and swore to each other they would never let that happen in their family. So why is end of life counseling so bad now? Nobody gets out of here alive but a little dignity would be nice.
Having repeated sex with a woman who isn't your wife isn't "legally wrong" according to John Ensign. He feels this way because he didn't get on television and lie about his affair. Here in Nevada serial adultery isn't legally wrong but in the Republican world it is supposed to be morally wrong. Especially if your name is John Edwards.
When dealing with people going through a mid-life crisis I like to ask the question "would you let an 18 year old make a decision for you?" and the answer is always "of course not". So then I ask 'why would you let a decision you made at 18 run the rest of your life?" and most people will say "that's a really good point". Meanwhile, you can't legally buy cigarettes until you're 18, you can't legally drink until you're 21 but you can face life imprisonment at the age of twelve. If society (and biology) judges you incapable of making good choices until your late teens and early twenties what in the world makes anyone think that a twelve year old has a grasp on life and how momentary impulses determine how their life will proceed from that point? Twelve year olds aren't allowed to make their own health care decisions or decide whether or not they will attend school and occasionally they get to have some input on custodial arrangements during their parent's divorce but that is the limit of decisions they are trusted with.
For a supposedly Christian nation we certainly are judgmental when it suits us. John Ensign (51) knew what he was doing was wrong. Every single time he had sex with his friend's wife. And then he tried to cover it up. With his parent's help. That type of hypocritical behavior is deemed okay even though it is against one of the Ten Commandments (actually he broke two of them) the right is so fond of. Demarco Harris (12) made a bad choice and broke one (possible future CIA or Blackwater employee?) but owned up to it. A life sentence seems a little harsh for a twelve year old whose perception of time makes Christmas and birthdays seem to come rarely as opposed to a 50 year old where they always seem to be right around the corner.
Here's the short answer: NO. Look, this issue is bigger than if you smoke, if you eat poorly, if you_________.
That's the crux of it, the fill-in-the-blank part.
Whether or not adults, on their own time, choose to smoke, drink, eat crappy food, smoke pot, avoid exercise, drive too fast, engage in "dangerous" sports, have unsafe sex, remain overweight, or decide to skip vaccinations should have no bearing on their access to jobs and health insurance. This is another major reason we need a universal, single-payor system.
The question isn't whether or not you do these things yourself, or whether or not you think other people should do these things. If employers and the insurance industry can determine the standards for who is "worthy" of employment (and healthcare) based on lifestyle, how long do you think it will take for them to establish an ever-increasing list of behavioral choices that are also deemed unacceptable? Trust me, there will be something you do that the overseers will decide is "bad."
Isn't it troubling enough that employers are already able to dictate what employees can do on their own time, or use one's level of debt to exclude countless people from employment opportunities? Or take hair, pee, or blood samples to determine if an applicant's chemical load consists of government-sanctioned toxins? And I'm not talking about reasonable safeguards with employees like pilots or truck drivers; we're talking pretty much anyone applying for a job these days.
Most of us prefer to live in a free society. In a free society, people should be free to choose their own actions, provided those actions don't violate the rights of others. By all means, offer complete and accurate information. Provide educational outreach about the benefits of adopting healthier lifestyle practices. We are always free to attempt to persuade others of the validity of our positions on anything, and offer reasons of enlightened self-interest to others for adopting a change in choices or beliefs. But if I can't persuade you to come around to my way of thinking - on any issue - by offering logical reasons, emotional reasons, meaningful and clear benefits to you, personal perks, or useful supports, then I have failed on some level to engage you in a way that you can relate to. And because my message has failed to sway you shouldn't mean that I'm entitled to coerce you or other adults into living the way I think you should.
The nanny state mentality has morphed into an oppressive juggernaut of ever-increasing controls and restrictions on personal behavior and choices. And aside from the issues of personal liberty, the simple fact is this: Coercion and/or prohibition does NOT work in creating long-term behavioral change. A vivid illustration of that reality is the utter failure of boondoggles like "The War on Drugs" - which isn't primarily about education or treatment, but about arrests, incarceration, and multi-billion dollar judicial and penal industries. And has accomplished little, except for lining the pockets of said industries while destroying the lives, educational opportunities, and potential livelihoods of millions of Americans.
If you're willing to accept an existence in which the corporate-insurance police determine your right to be employed before you even fill out an application, then you might as well just get in line and wait for your microchip to be inserted, because you'll be finished as an autonomous human being. Sometimes I wonder if many Americans would even notice the difference, or care.
Following is the link to the Alternet article. There's also an interesting variety of comments that follow. Is it Okay to Fire People who Smoke or are Obese?
In U. S. negotiations regarding UBS, Switzerland has now agreed to release the names of several thousand U. S. tax evaders:
In February 2009, UBS and the US entered into a settlement agreement wherein UBS paid $780 million in fines and turned over 255 names of Americans who had committed tax fraud. Since then, the IRS has been battling UBS for the additional 52,000 names of evading taxpayers, but Switzerland told UBS that it would violate Swiss privacy rules if it turned the names over. Switzerland apparently felt that this demand so threatened its bank industry that it took over the negotiations with the US from UBS. At least 10 other Swiss and European banks have been identified as having held some of US tax evader funds and whether they too were engaged in wrongdoing will likely be pursued by the IRS.
Last week, the US and Switzerland reached an agreement under which Switzerland has agreed that UBS will disclose an estimated 4,450 names of Americans who evaded tax with its help and about 10,000 accounts.
Former congressional advocate of deregulation and later a top executive at UBS, Phil Gramm, who blocked legislative attempts on cracking down on offshore tax havens, could also find himself caught up in this investigation:
Given the widespread involvement of UBS in what the Justice Department alleges were systematic efforts to violate U.S. tax laws, it must be asked: Did Gramm as a top executive have no inkling about what was going on? [snip]
He joined UBS soon after the bank acquired Enron, a company that had gone bankrupt after jumping through the "Enron loophole" in the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which Gramm had pushed though Congress. Gramm's wife, Wendy, had been an Enron board member and head of its audit committee but failed to sound the alarm before the Houston-based company collapsed. Then UBS itself ran into big trouble because of $37 billion in bad mortgage debt made possible by derivatives market deregulation engineered by then-Sen. Gramm. U.S. taxpayers have had to pony up money to heal UBS' self-inflicted wound. But the bank's involvement with tens of thousands of secret accounts tied to allegations of tax evasion raises starker issues--of possible criminal fraud through practices that Gramm as a senator helped keep opaque. [snip]
Was Gramm truly unaware of the widespread efforts at UBS to defraud the U.S. Treasury? Did extreme ideologically driven naiveté lead him to believe that the bank would never engage in such chicanery? In the past he was the first to deny any hint of business naiveté and indeed defended his being hired by a bank that benefited from his legislation. Deflecting any suggestion of a conflict of interests, Gramm told a reporter: "You know, there is something to be said for not hiring people who just came in off a turnip truck. I have always believed that when I left the Senate that I would go into financial services as something that I know something about."
As of Wednesday, it appears that both countries can declare a sort of victory in the settlement:
The basics of the deal are as follows. The U.S. will drop its “John Doe” summons that looked for the names of as many as 52,000 Americans with accounts at UBS. This had prompted the Swiss to threaten that they would seize UBS’s data rather than accede to what they saw as a fishing expedition that they said would break Swiss law.
The Americans now say they were never looking for so many accounts, which would include many law-abiding citizens.
Instead, the Swiss will hand over details of 4,450 (the Americans say it could be more than 5,000) accounts of Americans at UBS. The bank, which is the world’s second-largest wealth manager, will write to affected account-holders urging them to take part in an American tax amnesty, if appropriate.
The Americans gain twice over. First, the affected account-holders will, unless they are stupid, cough up any outstanding tax before the amnesty expires on Sept 23. Anyone with accounts at other foreign banks is also likely to put their affairs in order before Uncle Sam forces them to. [snip]
For the Swiss, the chief attraction of this deal is that it allows them to claim that bank secrecy is upheld. After all, they already had agreements in place allowing an exchange of information in the case of suspected tax fraud.
Barney Frank: When you ask me that question I'm going to revert to my ethnic heritage and answer your question with a question. On what planet do you spend most of your time?
You want me to answer the question? Yes. As you stand there with a picture of the President defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis, my answer to you is as I said before, it is a tribute to the First Amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated.
Ma'am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it.
Health care is killing me. My family spends $6,000 a year in basic Blue Cross membership fees. And still, when I went to get the MRI I must have every year to make sure my kidney cancer hasn't returned, I was left to pay another $2,400 for that test. Our area is growing fast and trying to attract good doctors, but our fees are very high. I went to UMD in Baltimore for my cancer surgery, because it had been misdiagnosed on several repeat CAT scans here; even ignored by a specialist. So even with "good" insurance, I too often find myself going out of state for care, finding my own way, doing my own research. Coordination of care reflected by the current trend towards computerization of medical history seems more to bar my way than help, being incomplete because of the lack of a bridge between private companies and different states. And though this history is said to "belong" to the patient, there are considerable fees that patient must pay to obtain it.
All these problems are the result of a disjointed, for-profit medical system.
The majority of Americans -- certainly those who are truthfully informed -- desire the public option in health care reform. It's the system used by the rest of the industrialized world, and it has a proven track-record of service, showing better results, as in greater health -- than our nation's system. Our system's for-profit motive rewards stockholders rather than outcome, rather than the businesses and people who pay the fees for service. The public option is the best way to address these inequities and hold down costs which hurt the entire economy. Please vote for the public option, include it, promote it, look into it creatively. And please help us all take that first step in getting our system healthy by crafting us the best health reform bill you can craft. Be fearless. We're with you, and we are the clear majority. Represent us.
And of course, what makes someone want sex more than being made to have it?! Does anything kill a sex drive faster than feeling like it's an obligation - just one more tedious chore? (well, maybe zoloft!) If these guys weren't such brutish, ignorant dolts, they'd realize that a little bit of finesse and kindness could get their needs met, and perhaps hers to boot, with far less effort.
Frankly, all this oppressive shit makes me so mad I can't see straight. Where is the official outrage from western governments? Can you imagine the world's reaction if a country legally sanctioned the purposeful starving of an ethnic or racial group? Yeah. But in the third world (and often second and first worlds) women aren't actually people, are they?
By Chris Hall From CarnalNation:
Afghanistan has officially made it law that a Shia Muslim husband can starve his wife for refusing to have sex with him. International human rights groups are already speaking out vehemently against the law. The law is an amended version of one that caused controversy earlier this year by compelling Shia women to have sex with their husbands at least four times a week. After receiving international condemnation, the law was temporarily suspended. Rachel Reid, Human Rights Watch's Kabul representative, said that "There was a review process—Karzai came under huge pressure from all over the world to amend this law, but many of the most oppressive laws remain."
The passage of this new law comes right before the Afghanistan presidential elections, and is seen by most as an attempt by President Hamid Karzai to solidify his support among Afghanistan's fundamentalists. The law also gives fathers and grandfathers exclusive custodial rights over children and requires women to get permission from their husbands to work outside the home.
There is no doubt that America can be a generous nation, especially when it comes to foreign aid and charitable contributions to help others around the world. But here at home, that does not seem so true, especially with the health care industry. Greed seems to rule when it comes to taking care of the health and well being of our own people.
Let's talk about the real "death panels" and who they actually are: they are insurance, medical and pharmaceutical industries, of course. If you cannot afford their ever increasing costs, you suffer or you die. They are the ones that come between you and your doctor.
Let's be clear. Our health care system is disintegrating. Today, 46 million people have no health insurance and even more are underinsured with high deductibles and co-payments. At a time when 60 million people, including many with insurance, do not have access to a medical home, more than 18,000 Americans die every year from preventable illnesses because they do not get to the doctor when they should. This is six times the number who died at the tragedy of 9/11 - but this occurs every year.
In the midst of this horrendous lack of coverage, the U.S. spends far more per capita on health care than any other nation - and health care costs continue to soar. At $2.4 trillion dollars, and 18 percent of our GDP, the skyrocketing cost of health care in this country is unsustainable both from a personal and macro-economic perspective.
At the individual level, the average American spends about $7,900 per year on health care. Despite that huge outlay, a recent study found that medical problems contributed to 62 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007. From a business perspective, General Motors spends more on health care per automobile than on steel while small business owners are forced to divert hard-earned profits into health coverage for their employees - rather than new business investments. And, because of rising costs, many businesses are cutting back drastically on their level of health care coverage or are doing away with it entirely.
Further, despite the fact that we spend almost twice as much per person on health care as any other country, our health care outcomes lag behind many other nations. We get poor value for what we spend. [snip]
Our current private health insurance system is the most costly, wasteful, complicated and bureaucratic in the world. Its function is not to provide quality health care for all, but to make huge profits for those who own the companies. With thousands of different health benefit programs designed to maximize profits, private health insurance companies spend an incredible (30 percent) of each health care dollar on administration and billing, exorbitant CEO compensation packages, advertising, lobbying and campaign contributions. Public programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the VA are administered for far less.
If what you want is a real debate, let's have it. Let's ask why countries around the world have better health care outcomes than we do at half the cost. Let's ask why we are the only nation in the industrialized world that does not have a national health care program guaranteeing health care for all of their people. Let's ask why some 60 million Americans, including many with health insurance, do not have access to a physician on a regular basis. Let's ask why private insurance companies, which pay their CEOs outrageous compensation packages, deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or refuse to extend their policies when they need it most. Those are the kinds of questions that we ought to be discussing.
There's a back story to the town meeting protests. The health care industry in America is doing everything it can to stop reform. Incredibly, it has spent $130 million just in the last quarter trying to influence Congress. The Washington Post has reported that $1.4 million a day is being spent by well-paid lobbyists to do everything they can do to stop health care reform. There is a reason for that intense opposition. Private insurance companies in America are reaping huge profits. Drug companies in America are charging the American people, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Of course, they don't want health care reform. Of course, they'll do everything to try to stop us.
John Mackey, CEO of Austin-based Whole Foods Market created a stir back in 2007 when it was revealed the he had been posting to a Yahoo financial forum under a pseudonym, promoting the financial strengths of his stores during a takeover of rival Wild Oats. That was pretty stupid and it called into question his sanity ethics, not to mention his maturity.
Wackey Mackey had gone and done it again, this time under his real name in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal concerning health care reform.
It's not so much what he said that has me pissed off as it is the fact the he went out of his way to write an article about the direction he believes we need to go for health care reform. Had this piece been written by the CEO of Walgreens, Citigroup, or John Deere, I would not have cared in the least, nor would it have been the least bit surprising. If I had a Citigroup bank account or credit card, I would not be rushing out to close the account. I wouldn't cease shopping at Walgreens (although I shop there less than once a year on average anyway) and I wouldn't suddenly be trying to sell my John Deere to buy a Cub Cadet. (I have plenty of other reasons for the latter, however.)
John Mackey is the CEO of a supermarket chain which began here in Austin by appealing to the local back-to-nature hippies and others who sought organic and natural foods. Obviously this remains their targeted customer -- people who are likely to be quite left-of-center politically, and have quite a knowledge about the health consequences of processed foods and unhealthy ingredients. We tend to read labels and avoid those items which don't meet our own personal dietary standards and preferences. I say "we" because I have been a Whole Foods shopper, off and on, for over 12 years. In 2007, I worked directly across 6th Street from the flagship store and headquarters. Believe it or not, the store is a big tourist attraction.
For him to write an opinion piece of this nature is not unlike the remorse I'd feel after working hard to elect a member of the Green Party to Congress, only to have that person start voting in lock-step with Republicans. Wacky Mackey has apparently forgotten the proclivities of vast numbers of his clientele. In addition, I could argue he may have forgotten his own humble and struggling start in business.
In 1978, twenty-five-year-old college dropout John Mackey and Rene Lawson, his twenty-one year old girlfriend, borrowed $45,000 from family and friends to open a small natural foods store called SaferWay in Austin, Texas (the name being a spoof of Safeway). When the couple was evicted from their apartment for storing food products in it, they decided to live at the store. Because it was zoned for commercial use, there was no shower stall, so they bathed using a water hose attached to their dishwasher.
Two years later, John Mackey partnered with Craig Weller and Mark Skiles to merge SaferWay with their Clarksville Natural Grocery, resulting in the opening of the original Whole Foods Market on September 20, 1980. At 12,500 square feet (1,160 m2) and with a staff of 19, the store was quite large in comparison to the standard health food store of the time.
Less than a year later, on Memorial Day in 1981, the worst flood in 70 years devastated the city of Austin. Caught in the flood waters, the store’s inventory was wiped out and most of the equipment was damaged. The losses were approximately $400,000 and Whole Foods Market had no insurance. Customers and neighbors voluntarily joined the staff to repair and clean up the damage. Creditors, vendors and investors all assisted in helping the store recover, and it reopened 28 days after the flood.
Or perhaps he believes, as a result of that experience, that everyone else in the country with inadequate or no insurance can get the voluntary helping hand from friends and neighbors. Who knows. But based on one idea he promotes in his opinion piece, it sure sounds like that is his belief.
Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
So, that's like a voluntary taxation for providing health coverage. Can we do the same with our military budget? I would like to opt out on a few things there, buddy.
Hopefully a lot of CEOs just like him would be compassionate enough to exercise some stock options and maybe voluntarily donate $100,000 or more to a worthy cause. And yeah, these people who financially need no help would get yet another tax write-off while those struggling with every penny earned would be praying for compassion and hoping for the best.
Blow that out your ass, Mackey, along with your embedded advertisement to encourage more folks to shop for natural and organic products (where? Oh, Whole Foods of course!) and a blatant promotion of how great the benefits are to his workers.
At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees express their benefit preferences very clearly—they want supplemental health-care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from their governments. Why would they want such additional health-care benefit dollars if they already have an "intrinsic right to health care"? The answer is clear—no such right truly exists in either Canada or the U.K.—or in any other country.
Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.
Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.
Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.
Many of our health care problems are not self-inflicted. Ever heard of automobile accidents? Ever heard of pedestrians or cyclists being slammed by a vehicle? Ever seen a hospital bill for weeks of intensive care?
Eating healthy and natural foods is a great thing and I highly encourage it. After 18 years of a vegetarian diet, txrad and I really haven't had any significant illnesses during this time, other than an occasional allergy due to local pollen, and that was several years ago.
But in March of 2007, txrad did have an accident resulting in a concussion. He spent two days in a hospital for observation mainly. They did brain scans and x-rays, and determined that he also had some fractured ribs, but there was nothing they could really do. It required rest and weeks of recovery at home to heal.
He was unemployed at the time -- had been for over three months. And despite the fact that he was still covered by insurance (incidentally from the advertising agency directly across the street from Whole Foods in downtown Austin), he still has about $3,000 in unpaid medical bills which were not covered by his insurance. He is also still unemployed. He is nagged daily by calls from collections attempting to get their hands on the funds. And his previously decent credit rating has probably been reduced to nothing.
Nice system we have here. And thanks, Mackey, for being so understanding.
We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health.
Gee, maybe if we had made the "lifestyle choice" to take the money we spent at Whole Foods Market through the years and instead, invested it in an interest-bearing account -- all $10,661.28 -- txrad's bills would be paid and we'd still have a nice health cushion. How stupid of us to have not thought of that option. (Yes, I do have a screen shot of a Quicken report I just pulled to back up my figure.)
There is already a "Boycott Whole Foods Market" group on Facebook. At the time I'm writing this, it already has 7,702 members. I'm one of them. A lot of people are pissed off about this. And that should start to worry the stockholders if this impacts the chain's profits which have already been battered somewhat by the recession.
I am in the awkward position of saying I have no desire to shop at Whole Foods while simultaneously being a stockholder in the company. And I hope to someday have an opportunity to vote on replacing John Mackey with a new CEO, one who doesn't quote Margaret Thatcher as a prelude to a piece which basically puts him or her in direct opposition to so many of those who have supported the business through the years.
Blueberry also had a nice rant which is where I found the link to the WSJ piece.
Remember Katy Abram, yelling at Arlen Specter about the systematic dismantling of our country, the awakened sleeping giant and asking what he was going to do towards restoring this country back to what our founders created, according to the Constitution?
She also said: "I'm only 35 years old, and I've never been interested in politics."
We all need to get healthier! Fact!
Better eating habits make us healthier! Fact!
Taking care of our bodies can help us live a longer, healthier life! Fact!
Our environment has a definite effect on our health! Fact!
Not getting hit by a bus can add years to our life! Fact!
While loosening restrictive clothing is debatable toward better physical health, the benefits for the mental health of those who practice "clothing optional life styles" can be a boon (unless one is prejudiced toward fat or ugly or viewing our Congress au naturel) even though the stick asses in society pooh pooh it in public!
But life after hours in the diner is never dull. (Does the old gal in gray remind you of anyone?)
Les Paul is also responsible for helping innovations like overdubbing, multitrack recording, and delay and phasing effects into being. In the end, his mark on rock and tech could live on long after those he influenced have passed on the great gig in the sky.
new york times interviewer: right now we’re footing the bill for a lot of things that don’t make people healthier.
THE PRESIDENT: That don’t make people healthier. So when Peter Orszag and I talk about the importance of using comparative-effectiveness studies (9) as a way of reining in costs, that’s not an attempt to micromanage the doctor-patient relationship. It is an attempt to say to patients, you know what, we’ve looked at some objective studies out here, people who know about this stuff, concluding that the blue pill, which costs half as much as the red pill, is just as effective, and you might want to go ahead and get the blue one. And if a provider is pushing the red one on you, then you should at least ask some important questions.
Won’t that be hard, because of the trust that people put in their doctors, just as you said? Won’t people say, Wait a second, my doctor is telling me to take the red pill, and the government is saving money by saying take the blue —
THE PRESIDENT: Let me put it this way: I actually think that most doctors want to do right by their patients. And if they’ve got good information, I think they will act on that good information.
Now, there are distortions in the system, everything from the drug salesmen and junkets to how reimbursements occur. Some of those things government has control over; some of those things are just more embedded in our medical culture. But the doctors I know — both ones who treat me as well as friends of mine — I think take their job very seriously and are thinking in terms of what’s best for the patient. They operate within particular incentive structures, like anybody else, and particular habits, like anybody else.
And so if it turns out that doctors in Florida are spending 25 percent more on treating their patients as doctors in Minnesota, and the doctors in Minnesota are getting outcomes that are just as good — then us going down to Florida and pointing out that this is how folks in Minnesota are doing it and they seem to be getting pretty good outcomes, and are there particular reasons why you’re doing what you’re doing? — I think that conversation will ultimately yield some significant savings and some significant benefits.
Now, I actually think that the tougher issue around medical care — it’s a related one — is what you do around things like end-of-life care —
Yes, where it’s $20,000 for an extra week of life.
THE PRESIDENT: Exactly. And I just recently went through this. I mean, I’ve told this story, maybe not publicly, but when my grandmother got very ill during the campaign, she got cancer; it was determined to be terminal. And about two or three weeks after her diagnosis she fell, broke her hip. It was determined that she might have had a mild stroke, which is what had precipitated the fall.
So now she’s in the hospital, and the doctor says, Look, you’ve got about — maybe you have three months, maybe you have six months, maybe you have nine months to live. Because of the weakness of your heart, if you have an operation on your hip there are certain risks that — you know, your heart can’t take it. On the other hand, if you just sit there with your hip like this, you’re just going to waste away and your quality of life will be terrible.
And she elected to get the hip replacement and was fine for about two weeks after the hip replacement, and then suddenly just — you know, things fell apart.
I don’t know how much that hip replacement cost. I would have paid out of pocket for that hip replacement just because she’s my grandmother. Whether, sort of in the aggregate, society making those decisions to give my grandmother, or everybody else’s aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they’re terminally ill is a sustainable model, is a very difficult question. If somebody told me that my grandmother couldn’t have a hip replacement and she had to lie there in misery in the waning days of her life — that would be pretty upsetting.
And it’s going to be hard for people who don’t have the option of paying for it.
THE PRESIDENT: So that’s where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But that’s also a huge driver of cost, right?
I mean, the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.
People. Palin holds up her Downs Syndrome child and insists Obama would have snuffed him. Quite a leap from the question of replacing the hip of a dying woman.
Many ways to lie. Distortion, especially one charged with so much emotional baggage, is exhibit A. It only obscures the hard realities in a much needed debate.
Still need to come up with a good new year's resolution? Consider one appropriate for 2009, the International Year of Astronomy; just look up -- experience, learn, and enjoy the changing sky. This 4-minute, time-lapse video is composed from a series of 7,000 images highlighting much of what you could see. Arcing through the sky in a stately reflection of planet Earth's own rotation are Moon, Sun and stars. But the sequence also features satellites and meteors streaking overhead, clouds moving along the horizon changing in a beautiful iridescence, and beaming crepuscular rays.
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from...
Looking back, Robert McNamara tells us, among other things, in The Fog of War:
point 4) Our judgments of friend and foe, alike, reflected our profound ignorance of the history, culture, and politics of the people in the area, and the personalities and habits of their leaders.
He'd like this:
Harper's, The ironic cloud By D. Graham Burnett and Jeffrey Andrew Dolven
By D. Graham Burnett and Jeff Dolven, from “Irony in the National Defense.” Last winter, Lockheed Martin Corporation approached Princeton University with a request for research initiatives. In April, Burnett, an historian of science, and Dolven, a professor of English, submitted the proposal, the cost of which they estimated to be $750,000; Princeton declined to forward it to Lockheed.
But you can read it here. It's beautiful. and the beautiful is difficult...
excerpt (and wind down):
Admittedly the most speculative dimension of this project is the preliminary investigation into modes of weaponized irony. Superpower-level political entities (e.g., Roman Empire, George W. Bush, large corporations, etc.) have tended to look on irony as a “weapon of the weak” and thus adopted a primarily defensive posture in the face of ironic assault. But a historically sensitive consideration of major strategic realignments suggests that many critical inflection points in geopolitics (e.g., Second Punic War, American Revolution, etc.) have involved the tactical redeployment of “guerrilla” techniques and tools by regional hegemons. There is reason to think that irony, properly concentrated and effectively mobilized, might well become a very powerful armament on the “battlefield of the future,” serving as a nonlethal—or even lethal—sidearm in the hands of human fighters in an information-intensive projection of awesome force. Without further fundamental research into the neurological and psychological basis of irony, it is difficult to say for certain how such systems might work, but the general mechanism is clear enough: irony manifestly involves a sudden and profound “doubling” of the inner life of the human subject. The ironizer no longer maintains an integrated and holistic perspective on the topic at hand but rather experiences something like a small tear in the consciousness, whereby the overt and covert meanings of a given text or expression are sundered. We do not now know just how far this tear could be opened—and we do not understand what the possible vital consequences might be. Even under the current lay or primitive deployments of irony, we see instances of disorientation, anger, and sometimes even despair. There is thus reason to hope that the irony of the future, suitably tuned, refined, and charged, might be mobilized to ” the enemy or possibly kill outright. This would be an extreme form of the sort of “speech act” theorized by the English philosopher (and, significantly, Strategic Intelligence Service officer in MI-6) J. L. Austin. Excitingly, such systems could be understood as the tangible culmination of a 2,500-year humanistic Western project of making words matter.
Wow. No fair, Sarah. Your Facebook page amounts to a subscription where you have your say followed by pre-loaded comments which all say, "you go, girrrl!" You don't have the balls to do a real blog.
So you've been unleashed to do your worst, unchecked. What can we do but respond -- as we did under Bush -- in the blogosphere. Read your facebook and respond everywhere, all of us.
Wish it didn't have to be this way. I really wanted to be your special friend.
What? You thought Obama would issue a decree? That's the BushCheneyYoo way.
What is Obama's health plan? What we make it. Because it isn't his plan, it's ours. Make your representative represent you and not an insurance industry that supports a wall of shrills and lies, and makes profit its first priority by cutting coverage to those most in need.
from David Axelrod:
8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage
Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.
Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.
We can’t afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.
Reform would encourage "euthanasia": It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.
Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.
Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/denied_coverage/index.html
Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hiddencosts/index.html
Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/women/index.html
Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hardtimes
Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/helpbottomline
The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction
Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people - one in every three Americans under the age of 65 - were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction/diminishing/index.html
The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance - projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Learn more: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/assets/documents/CEA_Health_Care_Report.pdf
In my last article, "An Opus for Health," here at Big Brass Blog, I sought to encourage progressives to reach out to those opposed to health care reform. Any such discussion should not include the extremists of the Right who are the sources of disruptions, threats, and danger to citizens and public officials. Those who are fomenting trouble merit nothing but disrespect; mockery; and, where appropriate, prosecution for inciting to riot.
This graphic may be reprinted with attribute, and a 16"x22" version suitable for printing as a poster is available upon personal request.
On August 9, 2009, Dr. Andrew Weil, the Founder and Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, published an article entitled, "The Wrong Diagnosis."
Long-time readers of my own articles know that I am not one to write an article that is just another writer's work; while extended quotes from other sources, where allowed, are just fine for spreading good information especially when a useful, integrated compilation is the resulting post making a blog of nothing but aggregated articles strikes me as too parental for my own style. Moreover, given that Dr. Weil published his article at The Huffington Post, I am doubly reticent to use Websites of my publishing company for an extended quote from the author, given my open disdain for Arianna Huffington as a journalist and as a user of other people's talent to asymmetrically enrich herself.
However, what Dr. Weil has to say is far too important to allow myself to pass unrepeated and unpraised. It is a predicate to some of my gravest concerns about health care "reform" as it is now being cast by the Democrats who have crafted the House and Senate versions of responsive legislation.
Suffer me this relatively short, elided passage from Dr. Weil's article, after which I shall close this opening essay about health care reform with harsh words and then an altogether reasonable, if unusable, path to progress.
From Dr. Weil:
I'm worried -- and if I'm worried, you should be, too.
The reason I'm worried is that the wrong diagnosis is being made.
As any doctor can tell you, the most crucial step toward healing is having the right diagnosis. If the disease is precisely identified, a good resolution is far more likely. Conversely, a bad diagnosis usually means a bad outcome, no matter how skilled the physician...
But what's missing [from current reform legislation], tragically, is a diagnosis of the real, far more fundamental problem, which is that what's even worse than its stratospheric cost is the fact that American health care doesn't fulfill its prime directive -- it does not help people become or stay healthy. It's not a health care system at all; it's a disease management system, and making the current system cheaper and more accessible will just spread the dysfunction more broadly.
It's impossible to make our drug-intensive, technology-centric, and corrupt system affordable...
Most unfortunately, the hysteria-whipped mobs now showing up at town meetings where health care reform legislation is supposed to be discussed have made any reasoned, rational attack on the reform efforts virtually impossible. This same problem faces any critic of Obama's policies and actions in other spheres, too. In my article, "A Paleo-Conservative Message to Republicans," I tore into the current breed of Republican conservatives for what they are doing to constructive debate:
My worst problem now is you Republicans: you swirling gaggle of disgraced, naked clowns still dancing on the stage while adults try to speak; you crowing blast of hot air gusts still trying to fan the flames of hate you once used to scorch the land of tolerance; you craven, culled pack of eviscerated hyenae nipping at heels of people far larger than you can ever again be.
I am maddened to find that opposing certain of President Obama's policies and personnel appointments, opposing the prevailing current in health care reform, opposing the already-established directions that financial services industry reform are taking put me in apparent, superficial league with vicious demagogues and their blind, uninformed masses.
It is like trying to give a lecture on exobiology while surrounded by Star Trek fans in full Federation and Klingon regalia.
It is like trying to explain the catastrophic failure of the Federal Reserve of the past eight to ten years while sharing the stage with Ron Paul's neo-Nazi followers slapping me on the back and saying, "You tell 'em, Boss! The Fed must DIE!"
(And in the interest of full and honest disclosure, that last one is way too close to my actual experience for comfort.)
Nevertheless and may God help me in this trial I shall have my say. I shall expect no increase in my popularity as an analyst: calling the Right-wingers and some conservatives "imbeciles" and calling some Leftists and liberals "air heads" is not the way to make friends and influence people, but if it is of any comfort to those on both sides of the political debate, I will have some kind words for what underlies your rhetoric. Setting aside self-serving, craven politicians and talk-show entertainers who care about nothing other than the power and wealth they garner, the rank-and-file of both the Right and the Left are not really stupid, and they generally, at least in their quieter moments of reflection, speak from their own hearts, even though their own hearts can be used by those who really care about no one but themselves.
I have much to write in opposition to what both sides are doing; and it is not that I am a contrarian that I take such a dim view of what is going on.
In fact, although beside the point right now, I am a contrarian. For example, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says that current Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, should be appointed to a second term. I condemn this: Ben Bernanke is a failure, and Paul Krugman is a self-serving, lousy tool of an economist. Note that I provided a link for each of those harsh statements: read for yourselves that I provide sound reasons for my otherwise seemingly cruel assessments. When I can speak from facts, sound theory, and strong personal experience, I waste little breath speaking of my "feelings"; those come at the end of the day and speak for themselves through the subtext of my expositions and narratives.
At the beginning of this article, I quoted from an article by Dr. Andrew Weil and wrote favorably of what he had to say. Promoting fools, uneducated (and educated) imbeciles, and political opportunists is not my style. When I quote someone, especially at length, I confer an assessment I rarely give even to a President I might to some minimal extent, anyway actually like.
In at least one following article, few will be my opportunities to have good things to say about either side in the current debate about health care reform. An ignorant, hateful opportunist like Sarah Palin is a good place to start in condemning the Right for opposing reform. Any Congressman who thinks forcing uninsured people to buy "public option" health insurance under penalty of law for non-compliance the way Massachusetts does is a good place to start on the Left.
And anyone on either side who thinks shutting down a vigorous conversation with a "my-way-or-the-highway" mentality merits nothing other than scorn, and I will be more than glad to mete it out.
I wish I could offer an olive branch to everyone passionately involved in this acrimonious debate. Those opposed to health care reform are difficult for me to reach at this moment. They have built a fortress of certainty around their sentiments. It will be hard to overcome the sound-deadening ramparts that insulate them from alternatives to the extremes to which they believe they are justified in going; but that is precisely why I shall, instead, offer some words to my more progressive friends, should they be interested in a non-aligned, alternate idea for overcoming not just the barriers stopping reform, but also the despair of trying to talk with people who are not listening.
I need not tell you that this is a difficult and wholly new area of social progress you are seeking in health care reform. The United States of America is not Europe, and it is not Canada; it is not even the United States of the 1930s, when sweeping changes brought the federal government into the lives and business activities of the people more than had occurred since the War between the States.
Yes, our health care system is in desperate need of reform, but its need is part of a much larger, much more complex need for reforms of our antitrust laws, our regulatory structures, our courts, and even our law enforcement model. Underlying and, oddly, beyond all of these, though, is our need for renewal of ourselves and our civil society. As Dr. Weil implied in his article, we cannot cure a disease by addressing symptoms alone. We can, of course, offer comfort while the illness, itself, is being addressed, and that is what health care reform at this time should be about.
The last attempt to reform our system of health care in this country met with complete failure, but this was not, as many progressives believe, because of the conspiracy of business interests and their feckless minions in politics; instead, it failed because it was crafted beyond the view, input, and dialectical process of the people the people who would be its beneficiaries. That early-1990s reform proposal came to the citizenry fully developed, complete and integrated, with virtually no room for deep change based upon the input of real people with honest-to-goodness, real ideas, concerns, fears, and questions.
In a democracy, we the educated the elite, the informed, the knowing simply cannot presume that we know better than those we govern, those we educate, those we pose to lead. As frustrating as it might be, we are no better than they when it comes to either the ballot box or the grocery store. Simply handing the electorate the products of our ideas and saying something to the effect, "Now, ask us how this works," is a prescription for disaster.
The considerable and legitimate fear of a neo-fascist movement in this country is not addressed by labeling it, demanding action against it, and decrying its beliefs. Beneath that extremism is a penetrating, unspoken, sometimes unconscious fear among far too many of our brother and sister citizens that their lives all of our lives are now beyond our control, in the hands of faceless technocrats, academics, shadowy forces, and law enforcement personnel who are without mercy, without control, and beyond redemption.
Ignore the fears of these people as you will, but I can draw straight lines for you across the years and decades from the here and now clear back to 9/11, on back for some of those "Right-wing crazies" to Ruby Ridge and Waco, and on back from there.
Symbolic representations are not just for dreams. We lose control of our children to entertainment media and its unwashed trash, to technological innovations, and to education theoreticians, so why is it surprising that this billows forth as out-sized fear of everything from evolution education to child predators around every corner?
We lose absolute sovereignty in our own homes and in our cars, so why is it surprising that this comes out in skyrocketing sales of personal firearms and cries for more of the very police who will treat us all like we're criminals waiting to get caught?
We lose control of the right to work, to earn a living without being fired for no reason, so why is it surprising that people blame everything from unions to immigrants?
We lose control of our bodies to media-flogged fears of cancer around every corner, diseases of which no one even heard (including doctors) a generation ago, so why is it surprising that a non-existent status quo is far preferable to a situation where bureaucrats take control of the health of people who have no control over it, as it is?
Stop. Think. Most importantly, shut up and listen. Do what President Obama did with Gates and Crowley.
In fact, President Obama, to whom I gave high praise for sitting down with the professor and the policeman, should do the same right now, except that he should let the progressives stay at home. He needs to peel off common citizens protesting against the health care reform effort, bring them to the White House, and talk with them. Get them away from their mean, opportunistic, talking-points cheerleaders, and let them speak for themselves to him; and once an honest dialogue has been fully engaged and exhausted, let Mr. Obama take what he has heard to the Congress with the full intent of making its Senators and Representatives listen, that they may have yet another chance to reform themselves before they seek to reform that which is outside their chambers and their own interests.
I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.
It is not enough to decry "the mob," the obstinate congressional representatives, the profit-hardened pharmaceutical companies, the intransigent GOP, the hateful grandstanders of the Right, and some ill-defined "capitalist system." Break the back of these destructive forces by taking their very instruments the people who have real, honest, and genuine concerns and bringing them into a truthful, productive, nation-changing dialogue.
If you think that cannot be done, you don't believe in your own President. Worse yet, you don't believe what you have seen and heard in his own words and ways when he is at his very greatest.
Tea-baggers, birthers, hooligan town hallers and now deathers. Besides lacking in sanity, common sense thinking, the ability to deal with reality and still spewing propaganda Kool-aid lies, what in the Hell is wrong with these people?
How can right-wing extremists retain even the smallest shred of credibility when they characterize pre-arranged disruptions of town-hall meetings as legitimate forms of protest? How did hysteria become the norm at a time when only prudent deliberation can make sense of matters that affect the lives and fortunes of main-street Americans? And when did imbecilic rhetoric based on misinformation and deceitful political maneuvering become the standards by which ordinary folks are encouraged to decide their futures? [snip]
Disruptions and mindless assertions have consumed the air in much of the debate about health-care reform, and it isn't easy to combat the torrent of false information that rains down on a frightened and confused public. Sarah Palin says the president's plan is a prelude to euthanizing Down-syndrome babies like hers and others claim he would assemble a death tribunal to make end-of-life decisions; the alarm engendered by such false claims often overwhelms truth and reason.
Sarah Palin Joined the 'Deather Movement' Because the New Face of the Republican Party is Fear
Deathers propose the wacky idea that the healthcare plan making its way through Congress contains a provision providing for bureaucratic death squads to kill off the less productive members of society. [snip]
Palin threw her hat in with the deathers not because she really fears for the safety of her son, but because she's running for president, and it's clear to everyone on the right that the future of the GOP lies in fear. And lies, come to think of it. [snip]
Aug. 10: In a Special Comment, Countdown’s Keith Olbermann decries former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s “death panel” invention in her criticism of President Barack Obama’s health care agenda, pointing out that by peddling frightening lies to her mob of ill-informed followers she puts the safety and security of the nation at risk.
Sarah the Quitter incites mob violence and national disunity by ‘making stuff up’
For God's sake, trust your instinct to think.
There are no death panels, there could never be. Were there steps taken towards them, I, and 99.9 percent of the people in this country, from the fiercest liberal to the most apolitical blob, would be standing next to you preventing their creation. There are no plans to take your insurance away from you. There will be no rationing of care. There will be no Health Choices Commissioner and he will not be able to transfer money electronically out of your bank account.
There will be nobody coming into your house and telling you what to eat. There will be no euthanasia. And the people to whom you are listening with half an ear, are telling you half the truth — on a good day! The euthanasia scare comes from something as benign as a proposal to let you put in for insurance if you have to consult a doctor about what to do if you or a loved one are fatally ill.
If you are where I was last March — when I sat down with the doctors to talk about my mother, fatally ill, not awake, not aware — the health care reform will now pay you back for the doctor's fee for that conversation. And it will pay, whether you decide to let your loved one go, or you insist to the doctor that they keep that dear one alive at all costs, to treat them for months or years or decades more.
And this part of this bill was originally co-sponsored by a Republican congressman. And from that caring bi-partisan starting point, through her own paranoia or for her own political gain, Sarah Palin has invented the boogeyman of "death panels." Think, please. Think, before something horrible happens. As you move to bellow that which you know not to be true. As you try to shout down a Congressman who is there to answer your concerns. As, God forbid, you think there has been enough talking and not enough of something else.
In my own life I learned many years ago that men were interested in me for mainly one reason and it was located south of their belt buckle. A girl can get tired of that sort of thing, which I did, and take herself off the market. Which I also did. I wasn't put here to make men happy just as men weren't put here to make me happy but that doesn't give me the right to blame the opposite sex for their lack of interest in me as a person. And it most certainly doesn't give me the right to take someone else's life out of frustration.
Speaking of dogs, they might not be as smart as a fifth grader but they can be pretty darn smart when they need to be. When Shai was a puppy she knew all her toys by name and would bring the proper one when asked. She also has emotions that are easily recognizable, the two most prominent being happiness and disgust. She's really good at letting me know when I don't live up to her expectations or aren't reading her mind correctly. What I want to know is how my dogs know I've decided to take them to the park while I'm typing at the computer. Without moving or stopping my typing they all of a sudden start running back and forth, barking at their leash, looking at the doggie bags and pawing at the front door. Very strange.
And in the interest of being fair, since I picked on cats last week, here is how to take a puppy picture.
1. Remove film from box and load camera.
2. Remove film box from puppy's mouth and throw in trash.
3. Remove puppy from trash and brush coffee grounds from muzzle.
4. Choose a suitable background for photo.
5. Mount camera on tripod and focus.
6. Find puppy and take dirty sock from mouth.
7. Place puppy in pre-focused spot and return to camera.
8. Forget about spot and crawl after puppy on knees.
9. Focus with one hand and fend off puppy with other hand.
10. Get tissue and clean nose print from lens.
11. Take flash cube from puppy's mouth and throw in trash.
12. Put cat outside and put peroxide on the scratch on puppy's nose.
13. Put magazines back on coffee table.
14. Try to get puppy's attention by squeaking toy over your head.
15. Replace your glasses and check camera for damage.
16. Jump up in time to grab puppy by scruff of neck and say, "No, outside! No, outside!"
17. Clean up mess.
18. Fix a drink.
19. Sit back in Lazy Boy with drink and resolve to teach puppy "sit" and "stay" the first thing in the morning.
My dogs don't present with these issues, they are hams of the first order and as soon as they see a camera they stop doing whatever cute thing it was that made me find the camera and start posing.
Something that's been flying around the Internet - I couldn't figure out who the actual author is:
This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the U.S. Department of Energy.
I then took a shower in the clean water provided by a municipal water utility.
After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC-regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like, using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
I watched this while eating my breakfast of U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
At the appropriate time, as regulated by the U.S. Congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal Departments of Transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank.
On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the U.S. Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.
After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to my house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and Fire Marshal's inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.
And then I log on to the internet -- which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration -- and post on Freerepublic.com and Fox News forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can't do anything right.
The whole Republican party can absolutely make stuff up, no question about it, 100% lies, no factual basis whatsoever, outrageous, known false stuff about euthanasia and "death panels" and denying care to people that are no longer "productive", stuff that's right out of the most venomous propaganda playbooks around, weird-assed, depraved, paranoid stuff that would be perfectly at home in a Henry Ford tract about the secret methods of the evil Jews or the like -- and not a goddamned news outlet on the planet is making a story out of the fact that these supposed leaders of their party are gleefully lying through their teeth about all of it, or that the "teabaggers" carrying these selfsame lies into public meetings aren't just angry Americans with a different point of view, but people spreading known, 100%-goddamn-freaking-false-and-false-from-the-very-first-time-it-was-uttered bullshit, and intentionally doing it so loud that they hope nobody can possibly shout them down.
These encounters are being orchestrated by the same lobbyist-run groups -- Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks -- that brought together the tax day tea parties in April. While trying to give the appearance of a "grassroots" uprising, the demonstrations are cover for a corporate-lobbyist engineered harassment strategy that encourages participants to "yell," "stand up and shout," and "rattle" elected officials in favor of reforming health care. Their goal -- recently outlined by an influential lobbyist as "delay" then "kill" -- is apparent: Having successfully delayed a vote until after the August recess, lobbyists are seizing on town halls to ambush lawmakers in an attempt to fool them and the greater public into thinking there is wide opposition to health care reform. [snip]
THE MEMOS: As with the tea parties, these town halls are "lessons in how political interests enlist human and technological resources to build political pressure while those responsible remain safely behind the curtain." Last week, The Progress Report obtained a leaked memo from a volunteer with Tea Party Patriots, a website sponsored by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) (led by a former associate of Jack Abramoff) and FreedomWorks (led by former Republican Majority Leader and current lobbyist Dick Armey). The memo detailed how town hall goers should infiltrate meetings and harass Democratic members of Congress. The memo said activists should "stand up and shout out and sit right back down" so the representative is "made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington." The overall goal, said the memo, is to "rattle" the elected official. Earlier this week, a FreedomWorks volunteer, who doubles as a Tea Party protester, published another memo that outlined a strategy "for his fellow activists -- a playbook of sorts for protesters seeking to disrupt and harass members of Congress during town hall forums in their districts." [snip]
The published memos are similar to talking points being distributed by FreedomWorks that push an anti-health reform assault all summer. Patients United, a front group maintained by AFP, is busing people all over the country to protest health care reform. America's Health Insurance Plans, the trade group and lobbying juggernaut representing the health insurance industry, is also sending staffers to monitor town halls in 30 states. Meanwhile, Conservatives for Patients' Rights (CPR), led by disgraced hospital executive Rick Scott, is running a national campaign against a public health care option.
Right-Wing Turncoat Gives the Inside Scoop on Why Conservatives Are Rampaging Town Halls
There is no daylight between the Republican Party, the health-care insurance industry, far right leaders like Dick Armey, the legion of insurance lobbyists, and now, a small army of thugs. All we're missing is actual uniforms, otherwise we now have a full blown American version of the Nazi Brown Shirts.
No, I don't believe that these people are about to take over the country. No, the sky is not falling. But the Republican Party is. It is now profoundly anti-American. [snip]
Conclusion: the Fascist Formula
Here's the emerging American version of the fascist's formula: combine millions of dollars of lobbyists' money with embittered troublemakers who have a small army of not terribly bright white angry people (collected over decades through pro-life mass mailing networks) at their beck and call, ever ready to believe any myth or lie circulated by the semi literate and completely and routinely misinformed right wing -- Evangelical religious underground. Then put his little mob together with the insurance companies' big bucks. That's how it works -- American Brown Shirts at the ready.
What's the results of the fascist formula for the rest of us? Well, think how this "method" worked against Dr. Tiller's abortion clinic and how that story ended. In this case a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save our economy from going bankrupt because of spiraling health care costs may be lost, not because of a better argument, but because of lies backed up by anti-democratic embittered thuggery. The motive? Revenge on America by the Old White Guys of the far right, and greed by the insurance industry.
What Can Be Done?
It's time that this whole shabby (and insane) business be exposed, vilified in run out of town on a rail by whatever responsible Republicans -- if any -- that are still in the party and who want to see the fortunes of their party revived. Republican leaders taking insurance industry money via lobbying firms and using it to organize what amounts to roving bands of thugs not only need to be exposed but thrown out of the public debate forever. They should become absolute pariahs.
It's time to give this garbage a name: insurance industry funded fascism.
Are Republicans and their thugs killing off the Town Hall as a democratic forum?
No one has a problem with right-wingers marching in protest of the health-care plans. That's certainly their right. And no one minds that they choose to participate in these forums. But town halls were never designed to be vehicles for protest. They have always been about enabling real democratic discourse in a civil setting.
When someone's entire purpose in coming out to a town-hall forum is to chant and shout and protest and disrupt, they aren't just expressing their opinions -- they are actively shutting down democracy.
And that, folks, is a classically fascist thing to do.
All through the Bush years, progressive right-wing watchers refused to call it "fascism" because, though we kept looking, we never saw clear signs of a deliberate, committed institutional partnership forming between America's conservative elites and its emerging homegrown brownshirt horde. We caught tantalizing signs of brief flirtations -- passing political alliances, money passing hands, far-right moonbat talking points flying out of the mouths of "mainstream" conservative leaders. But it was all circumstantial, and fairly transitory. The two sides kept a discreet distance from each other, at least in public. What went on behind closed doors, we could only guess. They certainly didn't act like a married couple.
Now, the guessing game is over. We know beyond doubt that the Teabag movement was created out of whole cloth by astroturf groups like Dick Armey's FreedomWorks and Tim Phillips' Americans for Prosperity, with massive media help from FOX News. We see the Birther fracas -- the kind of urban myth-making that should have never made it out of the pages of the National Enquirer -- being openly ratified by Congressional Republicans. We've seen Armey's own professionally-produced field manual that carefully instructs conservative goon squads in the fine art of disrupting the democratic governing process -- and the film of public officials being terrorized and threatened to the point where some of them required armed escorts to leave the building. We've seen Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to "a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress."
This is the sign we were waiting for -- the one that tells us that yes, kids: we are there now. America's conservative elites have openly thrown in with the country's legions of discontented far right thugs. They have explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement arm on America's streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won't do their political or economic bidding.
This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins. It's also our very last chance to stop it. [snip]
It's so easy right now to look at the melee on the right and discount it as pure political theater of the most absurdly ridiculous kind. It's a freaking puppet show. These people can't be serious. Sure, they're angry -- but they're also a minority, out of power and reduced to throwing tantrums. Grown-ups need to worry about them about as much as you'd worry about a furious five-year-old threatening to hold her breath until she turned blue.
Unfortunately, all the noise and bluster actually obscures the danger. These people are as serious as a lynch mob, and have already taken the first steps toward becoming one. And they're going to walk taller and louder and prouder now that their bumbling efforts at civil disobedience are being committed with the full sanction and support of the country's most powerful people, who are cynically using them in a last-ditch effort to save their own places of profit and prestige.
Here's the headlines from BRADBLOG: "Deposition of Sibel Edmonds Completed, DoJ a 'No Show', Bombshells Under Oath"
"UPDATES INCLUDE: CONGRESS MEMBERS NAMED IN ESPIONAGE, BRIBERY, SEXUAL BLACKMAIL SCHEMES; NEW BREWSTER JENNINGS / VALERIE PLAME DISCLOSURE..."
"'State Secrets' privilege NOT asserted by DoJ; FBI whistleblower answered ALL questions under oath on Turkish infiltration of U.S. Government..."
Perhaps Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor will now have the latitude to do what Judge Sotomayor declined to do: free an innocent man. Sixteen years of a man's life for a rape and murder he did not commit.
Sixteen years because of cowardly judges, including Sonia Sotomayor.
Or, as appellate Judge Sotomayor put it, "excusable neglect" that a clerk of courts misinformed the wrongly convicted man's attorney, which caused a filing to miss a new, Git-Tuff-on-Crime appeal deadline by four days.
Sonia Sotomayor won confirmation Thursday as the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice in a history-making Senate vote that capped a summer-long debate heavy with politics. According to NBC News, she will be sworn in on Saturday — Chief Justice John Roberts will administer both the constitutional and judicial oaths.
The Senate vote was 68-31 to confirm Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee.
Along with the two Independent Senators, Sanders (I-VT) and Lieberman (ID-CT), only nine Republican Senators joined the Democratic majority in today's confirmation vote: Alexander (R-TN), Bond (R-MO), Collins (R-ME), Graham (R-SC), Gregg (R-NH), Lugar (R-IN), Martinez (R-FL), Snowe (R-ME), Voinovich (R-OH).
Presiding over the Senate chamber, Senator Franken announces the confirmation:
After the 2000 election I thought the United States intellectual capital had reached bottom, but I was wrong. The aftermath of 9/11 and the furious attempt to make someone, anyone pay for the tragedy proved that. First it was innocent civilians in the country that harbored the soon to be forgotten Osama bin Laden. But that wasn't enough to soothe the national psyche and so the military and the press were mobilized to attack and invade a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, that had no weapons of mass destruction (but did turn out to be the weapon of mass distraction) and no need for us to disrupt the fragile balance of power that was preventing internecine warfare. And more innocent civilians paid the price. To the average American with their yellow bumper sticker that was acceptable for more years than it should have been.
During the Clinton years what passed for public discourse took a serious right turn. Into the gutter. With the help of Fox News and a rotund drug addled pundit we were well on our way to becoming a hate nation. Getting a blowjob from a consenting woman who isn't your wife is front page news for months. Fraternizing with underage pages of the same sex, consorting with prostitutes while wearing a diaper, carrying on an affair in another country or while living in a Christian enclave, and soliciting other men in bathroom stalls while claiming to have the moral high ground is nothing to be ashamed of or investigated with the same zeal. As long as you are a Republican. Unfortunately for the GOP, one Republican did lose his political career over his sexual antics and is indirectly responsible for the president we now have in office. Very few people remember Jack Ryan (not the Tom Clancy guy) and his wishes to have sex with his now ex-wife Jeri Ryan in a public venue.
Having read all of the aforementioned Tom Clancy novels I can say I love a good conspiracy. I still think there is more to the Kennedy assassination and while I don't believe that George Bush was behind 9/11, I do believe that the arrogance of the crew without a clue contributed to the success. Underestimating your enemy is a good way for them to succeed. So does ignoring presidential memos titled "Bin Laden determined to attack in US". But this latest conspiracy is one I can't even entertain without a grimace and wondering how gullible and desperate some people can be.
When I was in the Army I went to see a JAG lawyer about my citizenship. I was born in England in a USAF base hospital as it states on the birth certificate I can no longer find but my passport states that I am and American citizen. My mother was not a citizen at the time (she became one two years later) and I was concerned. The lawyer assured me that I was a natural born citizen and could run for president if I wanted because my father was a citizen and I was born on American soil even if it was located in England.
Obama's mother was a US citizen and that should be the end of the matter. But it isn't. The State of Hawaii has certified his birth and explained why they release the documents they do and that should be the end of the matter. But it isn't. There were birth notices in two Hawaii newspapers two weeks after his birth forty years ago and that should be the end of the matter. But it isn't. Obama has traveled on a US passport in and out of the country several times before becoming president and that should be the end of the matter. But it isn't. Hilary Clinton didn't find anything and that should be the end of the matter. But it isn't. The US Supreme Court has refused to hear the lawsuit and that should be the end of the matter. But it isn't. Numerous newspapers and fact finding organizations have found the birther questions to be without merit and that should be the end of the matter. But it isn't.
No matter what documents get produced, no matter if someone comes forward that attended his birth and attests to his being born in Hawaii, no matter what information is released, there will be no satisfying those people who rabidly believe that Obama was born in Kenya. Because in the back of their minds there is no way America could produce a black man who could grow up to be president. They are supposed to be singing, dancing, acting or in jail. And that's it. Anything more and they must be one of them foreigners.
We are on our way to becoming a nation of whiners, crying for do overs. Don't like the governor of California? Spend millions of dollars the state doesn't have and recall him. Don't like the current President of the United States? Make up spurious claims in the hope that he resigns in disgrace, gets impeached with evidence that isn't there (instead of impeaching the previous occupant with evidence that did and still does exist), or hope that someone you don't know enacts the Tiller solution. Anything but face the truth. A majority of Americans elected Obama as the lesser of two evils.
Those of us who had to suffer through eight years of a presidency that we thought was stolen know how you feel and you are going to have to do just what we did. Wait for election day. November 6, 2012 is your next opportunity to set things "right". Until then, quit demeaning yourselves by ranting and raving about an issue that has no merit. And no proof.
Former President William Jefferson Clinton, acting as a private citizen and ambassador-at-large, has secured the release of two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who had been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea for having stumbled into a disputed border region on a documentary mission for Al Gore's media company.
Bill Clinton, carrying no message from or portfolio in the Obama Administration, just waltzed into Pyongyang, sat down with reclusive leader Kim Jung-Il who was supposed to be gravely ill from a stroke he might have suffered last year and left with the two Americans, who were granted amnesty.
The Right-wing U.S. media just can't stand it: The Wall Street Journal Onlinesimpered that the favor dispensed by North Korea "will bolster Kim’s bid to dissolve the six-party negotiations in favor of the direct talks with the U.S. he has long sought. It will also dismay some in South Korea and Japan, which have their own hostages in North Korea and will wonder why Mr. Clinton couldn’t obtain their release as well."
The fact of the matter is that the United States is now back in the hands of adults who are willing to put their reputations on the line and who are, more importantly, willing to bear the future risks of peaceful solutions rather than the far more perilous and fool-hardy risks of bellicose non-solutions that were the hallmark of the Bush Administration. President Obama showed this same character in personally sitting down with Professor Henry Gates and the law enforcement officer who arrested him, Sergeant James Crowley. While some media sources sneered that it was a "distraction," a more mature and attentive audience understands that this is precisely what leadership means: leading pragmatically from the front, on the ground, instead of from the clouds of vapid, simplistic ideals.
Imagine George W. Bush in these, his happy retirement years, going to any nation hostile to the United States, much less going there as a revered elder of the world. To imagine that, one must first suspend any thought of the possibility that a former President of this country might be arrested elsewhere on this planet as a war criminal. While our Right-wing fanatics will spend the remainder of this century shrieking down even the hint that a higher order of morality has already judged the man, his policies, and his underlings, the nations of the world have moved on, rectifying as they can the almost incomprehensible mess Bush created, even as they return to what remains of hope for leadership from the once great empire that is the United States of America.
Bill Clinton walked right into a closed, bitter, impoverished, marginalized, dangerous nation; and there he sat with the very man our own CIA spends untold billions of dollars trying to decipher.
Barack Obama sat right down with angry, embittered rivals of different races; and there, he got those men to talk civilly, bluntly, and constructively in a way that racists would hate and airheaded Leftists would insist only billions of dollars in federal programs could achieve.
As much as I shall harshly criticize Mr. Obama and his policies in the years and days ahead, and as much as I shall condemn the weakness, cowardice, and foolishness of the Democrats now in charge of Congress, I must also recognize that these are matters fundamentally less important than one overriding consideration to bear in mind, now: finally, for the first time in too many years, we have adults in charge of this nation.
Impeding progress and democracy, and against equal treatment for all, a minority of people wish to inflict their vindictiveness against what the majority of the people in this country want. And now they are being bussed in to town halls, courtesy of the medical industry and its lobbyists.
Deceive, delay, deny, disrupt, distort, distract, these are the despicable tools of fascism, yet so typical of the loser nut-case wacko-wing of the GNOP. These are the same ass clowns who screech about bipartisanship, when what they really mean is having things their way, only. This is nothing less than sabotage and political terrorism, created by medical industry lobbyists and corporate think tanks with the sole purpose of intimidation and subterfuge. I think these are the whiners in America that Phil Gramm was really talking about.
Did they speak up when the 2000 election was stolen... when the rich got tax cut welfare... when the president lied about WMDs… when a CIA agent was traitorously outed... when this country was lied into an unconstitutional war on a country that was not a threat to us nor responsible for the events of 9/11... when the Bush administration was overstocked with incompetents... when voter caging was used and voting machines were rigged... when billions of dollars disappeared in Iraq... when the Bush administration imprisoned, abused, tortured, kidnapped, disappeared and/or murdered people... when our Constitution was subverted and shredded, and our privacy illegally invaded... when Bush made signing statements... when tens of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed or maimed in an illegal war for oil... when a foreign country was brought to its knees and into a humanitarian crisis... when New Orleans was left to drown... when hundreds of billions of dollars were given out to no bid contractors and billions of dollars were earned by war profiteers... when our surplus turned into a huge deficit... when deregulated Wall Street got bailed out with our tax dollars...?
And now, with the economic unrest, with so many still at risk of losing their homes, their employment and their benefits, and with the costs of health care soaring by double digits, these same unreasonable people run in screaming to keep the situation status quo? They act as though they are in their last throes of irrelevancy. Fie on them.
Aug. 3: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., joins Countdown’s Keith Olbermann to talk about the Republicans’ health care counter-strategy of shouting down Congressional Democrats trying to discuss health care reform with their constituents at town hall meetings.
August 3: During many town hall meetings, Democrats got ambushed about health care. Apparently the new conservative talking point is to push a “town hall gone wild” strategy. Do they really think this is going to get legislators to vote against the health care reform bill? Rachel Maddow is joined by MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson.
And then, there are the corporate loving DINO Blue Dogs:
As the Washington Post reported last week, the Blue Dogs are really hitting their cash-bonanza-days stride, with their political action committee alone raking in "more than $1.1 million through June. More than half the money came from the health-care, insurance and financial services industries, marking a notable surge in donations from those sectors compared with earlier years." [snip]
There is, you see, no quid pro quo. Those utterly guileless, cherublike lobbyists are merely crossing their anxious fingers and hoping that the Blue Dogs' past performance is an indicator of future agreement. (Pardon me a moment while I clean this undigested mess up ...) [snip]
So in the coming weeks, as the Blue Dogs lift their legs to pee on their constituents in town hall meetings throughout their mostly Southern and Midwestern districts, I trust that you -- should you happen to be one of those constituents -- garbed in protective polyethylene clothing, will be there: asking, Why all the money?
Well, you just know that Keith Olbermann had something to say about all this.
Aug.3: In a Special Comment, Countdown’s Keith Olbermann slams members of Congress for acting more in the interests of their health industry campaign donors than their constituents who so clearly favor health care reform.
Blue Dogs, if you are as smart as you think you are, (and it sure doesn't seem like it) you should to know by now that there is a huge difference between being pissed on and pissed off. In case you missed it the first time around, here it is again, from the transcript:
I could bring up all the other Democrats doing their masters' bidding in the House or the Senate, all the others who will get an extra thousand from somebody if they just postpone the vote another year, another month, another week, because right now without the competition of a government-funded insurance company, in one hour the health care industries can make so much money that they'd kill you for that extra hour of profit, I could call them all out by name.
But I think you get the point. We don't need to call the Democrats holding this up Blue Dogs. That one word "Dogs" is perfectly sufficient. But let me speak to them collectively, anyway. I warn you all. You were not elected to create a Democratic majority. You were elected to restore this country. You were not elected to serve the corporations and the trusts who the government has enabled for the last eight years.
You were elected to serve the people. And if you fail to pass or support this legislation, the full wrath of the progressive and the moderate movements in this country will come down on your heads. Explain yourselves not to me, but to them. They elected you, and in the blink of an eye, they will replace you.
If you will behave as if you are Republicans — as if you are the prostitutes of our system — you will be judged as such. And you will lose not merely our respect. You will lose your jobs!
Every poll, every analysis, every vote, every region of this country supports health care reform, and the essential great leveling agent of a government-funded alternative to the unchecked duopoly of profiteering private insurance corporations. Cross us all at your peril.
While being wimpy and inept is the hallmark of Democrats and their "leadership" (who honestly thinks that pharmaceutical companies are going to agree to lower prices?), is being a Republican synonymous with being a hypocrite? I ask this because it's been more than obvious that the Democrats don't have the balls to enact legislation that their constituents elected them to pass as they are irretrievably beholden to their corporate masters, but the constant assault on programs that help people while promising to improve their lives by other means is a Republican trademark.
I have no health insurance. I've been turned down many times due to my asthma and a couple of kidney stones and the one plan that would take me was almost $500 a month with a deductible of $5000 and $50 office visits. Just for myself. Mom is covered by Medicare and Medicaid covers her monthly premium.
Having grown up with a single payer health system, courtesy of the USAF, I have no objections to it. The arguments about the government rationing health care are just that. Arguments. Arguments that have no basis in reality since the reality is that I and 47 million other Americans have no coverage at all. And never will if the Republican versions of the health bills are the ones considered and enacted. And just like in California, seniors (who made this country what it is) and children (who are the nation's future) will bear the brunt of the health insurance "improvements".
The bill’s failure to make coverage affordable for many low-income people is especially serious because the bill would also eliminate Medicaid coverage for low-income children, parents, and seniors, pushing tens of millions of vulnerable people into the private insurance market. Low-income Medicaid beneficiaries tend to be in poorer health and are more likely to have chronic illnesses than people enrolled in private insurance; if forced to purchase coverage on their own, many likely would find the premiums unaffordable.
In addition, low-income seniors who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare would face substantially higher costs, because under the bill as drafted, Medicaid would no longer pay their Medicare premiums and cost-sharing. Seniors would have to start paying out of their own pockets the Medicare Part B premiums (which now total $1,157 a year), Medicare co-payments (which equal 20 percent of the cost of many outpatient services), and Medicare deductibles (which can run as high as $1,068 in the case of a hospitalization). For many low-income seniors, these charges would be unaffordable. (Summaries of the bill that its sponsors have circulated say that Medicare would assume these charges, but that clearly is not the case under the legislation they have introduced.) The bill would also turn Medicaid coverage for long-term care services into a block grant, placing vulnerable groups at risk for significant benefit and eligibility cuts.
And why are low-income citizens in poorer health and have chronic illnesses than people with private insurance? Could it be that they don't have access is regular health care and their only option is to wait until their symptoms are bad enough that they go to the emergency room? By any other name that is rationing by way of class warfare.
Evidently, it's getting harder and harder to make a living today. No job, cars broken down, gas prices going up and now they're talking about closing beau coup post offices. So is it any wonder I got this in the mail today?
As an ex-Brit, I’m well aware of the authorities’ love of surveillance and snooping, but even I, a pessimistic cynic, am amazed by the governments latest plan: to install Orwell’s telescreens in 20,000 homes.
£400 million ($668 million) will be spend on installing and monitoring CCTV cameras in the homes of private citizens. Why? To make sure the kids are doing their homework, going to bed early and eating their vegetables. The scheme has, astonishingly, already been running in 2,000 family homes. The government’s “children’s secretary” Ed Balls is behind the plan, which is aimed at problem, antisocial families. The idea is that, if a child has a more stable home life, he or she will be less likely to stray into crime and drugs.
It gets worse. The government is also maintaining a private army, incredibly not called “Thought Police”, which will “be sent round to carry out home checks,” according to the Sunday Express. And in a scheme which firmly cements the nation’s reputation as a “nanny state”, the kids and their families will be forced to sign “behavior contracts” which will “set out parents’ duties to ensure children behave and do their homework.”
And remember, this is the left-wing government. The Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling, batting for the conservatives, thinks these plans are “too little, and too late,” implying that even more obtrusive work needs to be done. Rumors that a new detention center, named Room 101, is being constructed inside the Ministry of Love are unconfirmed.
For What it's Worth: Buffalo Sprinfield
There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Earlier this evening, Foiled Goil published an article here at Big Brass Blog about how the State of Alabama has banned the wines from a company called Cycles Gladiator because the beverages have a label that "features the 1895 painting by French painter Georges Massias," which features a side view of a bare-bottomed young woman.
In contemplation of solidarity with Cycles Gladiator, Dark Wraith Publishing herewith provides a poll for those who find Alabama's pseudo-Puritanism outrageous and would like to see the state try to ban Big Brass Blog from the innocent, easily offended eyes of Alabama citizens.
A study reported in the medical journal Pediatricsfinds that emergency room visits by kids injured in school phys ed classes have risen by half over the past decade.
First, with the way phys ed programs are flogging children and teenagers to do strenuous, sometimes vomit-inducing, exercises these days, it's no wonder kids are getting injured more now than they used to.
Second and more importantly somewhere during the past decade or so came this mentality that schools should be producing "well-rounded" kids, and being well rounded means the jocks and other dumb-dumbs should have their abilities valued just as much as the bright and intellectually curious kids' strengths. Maybe if we got back to core curriculum, stopped vaunting "athletics" as something other than a sideshow, and laid off the authoritarian, worthless jerk words and attendant policies about "standards," "accountability," "assessment and evaluation," and "No Child Left Behind," we might actually get kids who could read, write, and think well.
In the bargain, getting rid of this mania about grueling athletics might reduce the wholly unnecessary injury rates in schools.
And as a bonus, we'd be able to set a whole legion of swaggering jock "teachers" free of the need to pretend they actually contribute by "teaching" classes.
which features the 1895 painting by French painter Georges Massias, violates this section of Title 20 in Alabama's administrative code:
20-X-7-.01 General Advertising Provisions ...
(d) No advertisement may include any illustration(s) of any person(s) consuming alcoholic beverages or any person(s) posed in an immodest or sensuous manner, nor shall any advertising contain profanity or offensive language.
Not one of these three prudish asses is anywhere near being the biggest ass in the state. No sir. This cheeky photo
Barack Hussein Obama is an undocumented illegal alien. Notwithstanding the derisive commentary from the Left about those who suspected it all along, the picture above clearly shows that the so-called "Birthers" were more Right than even they suspected.
How we deal this catastrophe is for others to decide. Articles of Impeachment are clearly in order, but is it too late? Time is not on our side: even as you read this, illegal aliens are pouring across the border; and now, one of them has made it to the White House.
From now on, listen to those people the elites call "Right-wing conspiracy theorists." Your nation indeed, your very way of life depends on it.
Dark Wraith Publishing will provide further graphical evidence as it becomes available.
I’m a little confused. Your idea to help the economy by providing “Cash for Clunkers” just ran out of money. Oh noes! Whatever will happen to the auto execs if they can’t get that money from the sheeple? Wait! I know! How about getting Congress to IMMEDIATELY extend the limit. Of course we all know it takes Congress a LONG time to do anything with all the debating and committees and speeches and where the money will come from. So I guess we’ll just have to postpone that new car we really can’t afford until…What? What’d you say? Congress added money…already…right away?
How can this be, Barry? How can they do something involving 2 billion dollars so quickly? I heard it may take a couple of months to try to extend those benefits for the unemployed you’ve been thinking about and now you tell me that after one day, Congress added money to a program that benefits car dealers! It didn’t take much longer to bail out your buddy Rahm’s Wall Street and Banker friends! Wow! What concern! That program really must be the one to get us out of this recession!
Barry, what about those people whose unemployment benefits stop before Congress reconvenes? Oh, I guess they’ll make it. After all, Barry, we can’t have those 535 concerned lawmakers give up their vacation for a few million people who probably won’t vote for them anyway. It’s just a damn good thing for the car dealers that Cash for Clunkers didn’t run out August 3rd, eh?
And that healthcare thing of yours, Barry. It must not be as important as that car deal or your friends in Congress would have acted on it right away. I guess you feel it’s much more important that people who can afford a new car get a break to buy one than people who don’t have a job get health care coverage. I mean, it’s not like thousands of people will die because a couple of Blue Dog Democrats (aren’t they from your party?) deserve a vacation from all their hard work and feel the need to justify the contributions and dinners they get from health companies to their constituents over the break.
There’s plenty of time to work it out. I’m sure if you talk to Harry and Nancy, they’ll get right on it. Look what they did for the car dealers! And Barry, you know we really have to get that extra 2 billion for those already employed people so they can buy a new car even if they really don’t need it.
Although, to be fair, driving around in that old 2006 Caddy that gets lousy gas mileage wasn’t really that bad. How can we pass up such a sweet deal to get a new one? (My dealer says he can finagle it; he doesn’t know I’m unemployed! Will that make a difference?) And if the unemployed don’t qualify or can’t get a loan from all that money you gave the banks to give out loans they won’t give to the public, well, that’s their loss, isn’t it?
Let’s see, Barry. A million people may lose their unemployment benefits soon. 2 billion was pumped into a really unnecessary program to supposedly help the economy (I guess the car dealers are part of the economy but the unemployed aren’t) by allowing those with decent credit who probably don’t need a new car to be able to buy one that saves them money on gas after they get your break on the car.
Makes sense, I guess. So if you’re unemployed and driving an 87 Ford with 200,000 miles on it, that gets 12 mpg, uses a quart of oil every 500 miles, needs brakes, tires and a new muffler, you’re just shit out of luck and have to spend more money on gas because you can’t afford the same deal as someone employed. But that damn Escalade that has to get someone to the club or soccer practice or ballet lessons needs a new wiper so you have to give them a break!
Yeah. I’m beginning to see what you mean. Time to take advantage of Barry’s “new deal!” Think of all the gas you’re saving those employed people with their new cars! Even if it means the older cars no one can afford to get rid of will still be out there wasting gas and oil and rubber and imported parts. Am I making myself clear, Barry? Because I mean, it’s hard to put these things into words that well off people understand.
Let’s see. If that 2 billion was given to the unemployed they could get at least another couple of months of benefits. But Boy! That sure wouldn’t help the car companies now, would it? No sir-ee Bob or rather, Barry. We have to help out that middle class you talked about during your campaign. Wouldn’t do to break a promise now, would it? I mean to those who aren’t unemployed or uninsured.
Isn’t it great that an employed guy, can trade in his 2005 Explorer and get maybe 8 grand or more off that new car he really didn’t need? Yep! You betcha! I’m glad Congress is looking out for him.
But how is that helping the economy? Oh yeah. It’s that trickle down thing of Ronnie’s. The employed guy gets to keep his job, buys a new car, puts a couple of bucks into the kitty of Ford who invests it in their Mexican plant to produce more cars cheaper so they can make more profits so they can pay their investors more money so Ford can sell more foreign made cars to the employed in America. Wait! How does that help the currently unemployed? Oh, you say that Ford puts money in the bank and that means the banks now have more money available for loans for these unemployed people. Oh, I see. They need to get a loan to be able to live but have to pay back the money at high rates from money they already paid in taxes that helped the employed guy get a new car that he didn’t need just so he could save his money on gas…and if they can’t? Oh, the banks take their homes? Yeah, I see how it works.
What’s that you say, Barry? Some people have worked for 30 years and now they’re out of a job because of outsourcing, but the Cash for Clunkers will help the young buck next door working for United Health? Don’t worry about the rest of us. Congress will be looking into that job outsourcing thing any day now, Barry. Just hang in there, Mr. Unemployed and family. And if you really think you need something, like food, there’re always food banks to help.
What’s that? Food banks are running out of food? Well, when Congress returns from their well deserved vacations, I’m sure Barry will tell them to get on that as quickly as they did with the Cash for Clunkers thing. And losing a few pounds could make for healthier people who don’t need as much health insurance.
I gotta admit, Barry, that’s one smart idea. Give money to the employed, so they can get things they don’t need, so they can help fill the coffers of big business, so big business can outsource more jobs, so more people can become unemployed, so more unemployed will eat less and lose weight, so they will be healthier, so we really don’t need that public health option after all.
I know I’m rambling and probably repeating myself, Barry. But it’s hard to write by candle light since they turned off the electricity. They said all I need was a couple hundred to turn it back on. You aren’t by chance considering a “Cash for Electricity for Shut Off Families”, are you?
Ah, Barry, I’m beginning to understand why Congress got that money so quickly for your program. You really are concerned about the health and well-being of Middle Class Americans, just like you promised.
But you know Barry, if for some reason it doesn’t work out, you can always borrow Palin’s helicopters. I understand the lines at some unemployment offices stretch outside buildings, clear around city blocks. That could make things a lot easier for many middle class, employed people, Barry (not to mention the upper classes as well). Do you think you could start in South Carolina, Texas or would Michigan or Chicago be better?
Thanks for all you’re doing, Barry. Give my best to Harry and Nancy and especially the Blue Dogs and their Republican friends (we don’t talk much).
P.S. I got my eye on this sweet little red ’93 Festiva with only 250,000 miles on it. Yeah, I know it doesn’t have air or good tires or a passenger window, but the car dealer says I can get it for around $2000 at 8% variable…with no money down! Hard to pass up that deal even though the family may go hungry for a couple of months. But they’ll just become that much healthier for it all. Thanks again.
Not surprisingly Melissa Catherine Smith-Means of Alabama (oh... Alabama) was arrested a few months ago for this incident in a Verizon store. Who knew someone would have a camera in a cellphone store?
After being arrested she told the police "My young 'un loves being dragged around on a leash. It's how I was brought up." She was also wearing this shirt. Ok, maybe this last part didn't happen but you can picture it can't you?
In the name of everything reasonable, and in the face of acts of evil by terrible people, we tortured wantonly and profligately, and some of these torture techniques -- known to the previous administration and most of the media as "enhanced interrogation techniques" -- were actually demonstrated to an array of top officials, including the national security adviser, the attorney general, and the secretary of state, within the White House. We imprisoned secretly at "black sites" offshore and beyond the reach of the American legal system, holding prisoners without hope of trial or, often, release; we disappeared people; we murdered prisoners; we committed strange acts of extreme abuse and humiliation; we kidnapped terror suspects off the global streets and turned some of them over to some of the worst people who ran the worst dungeons and torture chambers on the planet. Unknown, but not insignificant numbers of those kidnapped, abused, tortured, imprisoned, and/or murdered were actually innocent of any crimes against us. We invaded without pretext, based on a series of lies and the manipulation of Congress and the public. We occupied two countries with no clear intent to depart and built major networks of military bases in both. Our soldiers gunned down unknown numbers of civilians at checkpoints and, in each country, arrested thousands of people, some again innocent of any acts against us, imprisoning them often without trial or sometimes hope of release. Our Air Force repeatedly wiped out wedding parties and funerals in its global war on terror. It killed civilians in significant numbers. In the process of prosecuting two major invasions, wars, and occupations, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans have died. In Iraq, we touched off a sectarian struggle of epic proportions that involved the "cleansing" of whole communities and major parts of cities, while unleashing a humanitarian crisis of remarkable size, involving the uprooting of more than four million people who fled into exile or became internal refugees. In these same years, our Special Forces operatives and our drone aircraft carried out -- and still carry out -- assassinations globally, acting as judge, jury, and executioner, sometimes of innocent civilians. We spied on, and electronically eavesdropped on, our own citizenry and much of the rest of the world, on a massive scale whose dimensions we may not yet faintly know. We pretzled the English language, creating an Orwellian terminology that, among other things, essentially defined "torture" out of existence (or, at the very least, left its definitional status to the torturer).
And don't think that that's anything like a full list. Not by a long shot. It's only what comes to my mind on a first pass through the subject. In addition, even if I could remember everything done in these years, it would represent only what has been made public. [snip]
However busy we may be, whatever tasks await us here in this country -- and they remain monstrously large -- we do need to make an honest, clear-headed assessment of what we did (and, in some cases, continue to do), of the horrors we committed in the name of... well, of us and our "safety." We need to face who we've been and just how badly we've acted, if we care to become something better. [snip]
Perhaps the greatest fantasy of the present moment is that there is a choice here. We can look forward or backward, turn the page on history or not. Don't believe it. History matters.
Whatever the Obama administration may want to do, or think should be done, if we don't face the record we created, if we only look forward, if we only round up the usual suspects, if we try to turn that page in history and put a paperweight atop it, we will be haunted by the Bush years until hell freezes over.
Ryland: A Sibel Edmonds 'Bombshell' - Bin Laden Worked for U.S. Until 9/11
Edmonds expert fills in details from recent BRAD BLOG interview with noted, gagged FBI translator/whistleblower...
After explaining the difference between what she does and doesn't know first hand, she went on to explain: "I have information about things that our government has lied to us about. I know. For example, to say that since the fall of the Soviet Union we ceased all of our intimate relationship with Bin Laden and the Taliban - those things can be proven as lies, very easily, based on the information they classified in my case, because we did carry very intimate relationship with these people, and it involves Central Asia, all the way up to September 11." ...
Today in a highly-recommended diary at dKos, Ryland filled in a good junk of details from Edmonds' references, reporting that her comments are, in fact, a "bombshell"...
...These 'intimate relations' included using Bin Laden for 'operations' in Central Asia, including Xinjiang, China. These 'operations' involved using al Qaeda and the Taliban in the same manner "as we did during the Afghan and Soviet conflict," that is, fighting 'enemies' via proxies.
As Sibel has previously described, and as she reiterates in this latest interview, this process involved using Turkey (with assistance from 'actors from Pakistan, and Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia') as a proxy, which in turn used Bin Laden and the Taliban and others as a proxy terrorist army.
After filling in many of the details, with scores of informational links to support the allegations, Ryland summarizes thusly:
The bombshell here is obviously that certain people in the US were using Bin Laden up to September 11, 2001.
It is important to understand why: the US outsourced terror operations to al Qaeda and the Taliban for many years, promoting the Islamization of Central Asia in an attempt to personally profit off military sales as well as oil and gas concessions.
The silence by the US government on these matters is deafening. So, too, is the blowback.