August 2009 Archives

Autopilot: McCaughey v. Stewart: A knife to a gunfight:

McCaughey is a health care advocate who launched the meme that has since become the ‘Death Panels’ talking point. She is an experienced PR messenger who appears before national audiences on radio and TV and never goes off script.  That she’s even talking to Stewart (who opposes her viewpoint and has an audience that will support him on virtually anything) illustrates her confidence in her ability to get her message across.

And she gets bludgeoned.

(Via Autopilot.)

A surgical breakdown of the infamous interview.

Skin Deep - Black Hair, Still Tangled in Politics - NYTimes.com:

"Anyone who thought such preconceptions were outdated would have been reminded otherwise by some negative reactions to the president’s 11-year-old daughter, Malia Obama, who wore her hair in twists while in Rome this summer. Commenters on the conservative blog Free Republic attacked her as unfit to represent America for stepping out unstraightened."

(Via NY Times.)

So, a black child's natural hair is unfit to represent America. Only straightening it to approximate Caucasian hair, would. Right. And why should black people trust this party? Ever?

On Liars

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Twenty-six Lies About H.R. 3200 | FactCheck.org:

"A few readers alerted us to the fact that a state representative in North Carolina, Rep. Curtis Blackwood, published a version of the e-mail in a newsletter to constituents, telling them that while going through e-mail, he came across 'some interesting information on the Democrats’ big health care bill, H.R. 3200. … While this is federal legislation and not state, the topic is of enough significance that I thought many of you would be interested in reading it.' We’d refer Rep. Blackwood to our special report on viral messages titled, 'That Chain E-mail Your Friend Sent to You Is (Likely) Bogus. Seriously.'

We can trace the origins of this collection of claims to a conservative blogger who issued his instant and mostly mistaken analyses as brief 'tweets' sent via Twitter as he was paging through the 1,017-page bill. The claims have been embraced as true and posted on hundreds of Web sites, and forwarded in the form of chain e-mails countless times. But there’s hardly any truth in them."

(Via FactCheck.org.)

And this is why I said that the GOP leadership is behaving in a fashion devoid of morals, truth, and decency. A congressman, with access to the actual bill and the staff to read it, sends a chain email (!) from a conservative blogger, one with a reading comprehension problem, to his constituents. Now that's constituent service for you.

‘SpotCheck.org’? We Disagree. | FactCheck.org:

"[McCaughey] claimed that we failed to note a section of the bill that she says sets up a 'penalty' for doctors who fail to give patients such advice and that 'if there’s a penalty, it is mandatory.' But she’s actually pointing to a section that would make 'quality measures of end of life care' one of more than 150 quality-of-care factors to be considered when awarding physicians a 2 percent bonus under Medicare. And physicians only have to report on a small subset of the measures in order to receive the bonus. That’s a far cry from creating a specific penalty for failure to counsel patients, much less making consultations 'mandatory,' as McCaughey originally claimed.

Furthermore, McCaughey went on to claim that doctors would be penalized 'if the patient or their family changes their mind about their living will.' But the bill says nothing of the sort. As one expert tells us, advance directives can be changed at any point."

(Via FactCheck.org.)

QED.

Jon Stewart on Death Panels

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UPDATE:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Betsy McCaughey Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Jon Stewart keeps pointing out that the fact that conservatives are simply making up everything they say. they have no evidence or stand in truth. Period. McCaughey says she has evidence but can't answer the simple question, "WHERE?" QED.

We are the Socialists for Britain

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T.R. Reid: Looking Overseas For 'Healing Of America' : NPR:

Mr. REID: Yeah, yeah. One of the ways - you know, they have that thing on Britain on Wednesday where the prime minister stands up in parliament, and the other party insults him and shouts questions at him. And one of the most-standard questions is: A woman in my constituency has been waiting four weeks to see a doctor. This is outrageous. And that happens, and then the answer that the prime minister always gives is, well, obviously, the gentleman opposite wants to see us institute for-profit, American-style corporate medicine. This we will never do. You know? And they never will.

GROSS: Is that the worst thing that you can say, we're going to institute American-style corporate medicine?

Mr. REID: All over the world, people say that. If you complain about health care, they say well, you want to move to America? You think that's better?

Everywhere I went, people had this kind of smug superiority. They know. They know that we let people die and go bankrupt by the thousands in our health care system, and they don't do that, so they feel better.

A person in the Health Ministry in Canada - you know, they're kind of understated people in Canada - said to me, you know, we don't go around chanting we're number one like some countries I know, but there are two areas where we're better than the states: hockey and health care.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Via NPR.)

Our system is ranks 37th in the world right between Costa Rica and Slovenia.

How Far Would You Go to Save a Life?

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The first sign of corruption in a society that is still alive is that the end justifies the means.
–Georges Bernanos

Abortion is a hot button issue mainly because both sides care a great deal about the things they see themselves protecting: a woman's control over her own body, her self, her personhood; an unborn child's right to simply live. I don't mean to answer that question here in this small space. (What hubris that would be!) I do intend to state where I am in all of this and that is in a state of moral dilemma. I see both sides as protecting things that are worthwhile, even essential.

To put it as succinctly as I can, I am a pro-lifer unwilling to save lives by any means. I have always had moral problems with abortion and pro-choice arguments to the contrary have only solidified that position. I am not, however, a contraception-is-abortion pro-lifer. I don't think RU-486 is an "abortion pill." I tend to follow those in the medical profession who won't perform abortions on unborn who clearly can feel and react to what is happening to them. In that, I find it cruel and inhuman.

But what has always given me pause in supporting it's legal ban, is the truth in what I am doing, i.e. via the state, usurping power and control over the most intimate parts of a woman's body. An act very similar to rape. But to put it in more palatable terms, it is violating the physical person of one individual for the sake of another in our society. And that is something that the majority of the Pro-Life movement does not acknowledge, at least that I can see. We would recoil in horror if the state required people to donate bodily tissue, a kidney for example, in order to save the lives of others. It goes against many of our core principles surrounding human rights.

So yeah, I would ban abortion in a heartbeat (no pun intended) if I could do so if the means were justified unto themselves. But until I live in a world of artificial wombs and a society that stands ready to take responsibility for the children that will result from our actions, I remain in my moral Catch-22.

So No Principles at 60?

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If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain.
–Winston Churchill

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
–Albert Einstein

When speaking on politics and sharing that my conclusions come from a matter of principle, I've heard Churchill's old saw invoked to imply that they are those of some dreamy eyed waif with visions of some utopian paradise. In truth, I've tried to take that, frankly lazy, thinking graciously and ask myself, "So at what age is it proper to sacrifice my principles and values?" Because that is exactly what I would be required to do.

I'm only a few years away from 40 and admittedly, as I have gotten older, I have tempered where and when I pick my battles. But what I have found is that my principles burn that more brightly in my world perspective. A good friend, for whom I have tremendous respect and love, once asked me if with the birth of my son had my perspective on social issues, esp. on homosexuality, took on a more conservative bent. I told him no, if anything, I have less patience with conservatives whose political, theological, and social thinking and activities are at odds with my principles and values. Ironically, he was right that I was taking on a more conservative perspective in the way I view conservative ideas.

As many of my friends on Facebook know, I've been very vocal on the issue of healthcare. I take a very dim view of our system because it runs counter to deeply held values that are best expressed by my faith in Jesus Christ, something which I take very, very seriously. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25 verses 31 to 46, the author has Jesus talking about his return and the judgment of the nations at the Apocalypse. It's in this section, that we see the phrase "the least of these." A phrase often taken out of context to connote the sappy compassion of the liberal bleeding heart. Not so in Matthew, it is the love of the righteous as opposed to the wicked. Jesus makes his often heard list:

  • For I was hungry and you gave me food.
  • Thirsty and you gave me...drink.
  • I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
  • I was naked and you clothed me.
  • I was sick and you took care of me.
  • I was in prison and you visited me.

Note that he was talking about doing these things to the "least of these," meaning the poor, the downtrodden, the vulnerable. The righteous who do these things get eternal life while the wicked receive perdition for refusing to do the same. Whether you read this story as allegorical or literal, it's very clear how our healthcare system that rations care precisely on one's ability to pay would fair on the least-of-these scale. Our system is wrong. It should be changed. That's the liberal 20 year old speaking. As I get older, my epectations on how much things can and will change has been tempered, but never would I suggest that we slow change or conserve the status quo. Even if the goal is unattainable, which in this case it most certainly is not, it's incumbent on me as a moral and sane person to be an agent of change. That's the nearing 40 year old speaking.

So, my question to those who would ask me to have a brain once I reach forty and become a conservative. Do I have to trade in my principles, my values, my eternal soul in order to do so? Harshly said I know, but I want to rebut forcefully that sense of false pragmatism that is really disguised cynicism.

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Whose Religion Is This, Anyway?

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Whose Religion Is This, Anyway? | The American Prospect:

"The tension of being an Orthodox dove is partly sociological. Most Israeli Jews with whom I could pray don't share my political views. Most Israelis who share my politics do not understand why I enter a synagogue. More basically, the presumption of the society in which I live is that one cannot be an Orthodox critic of the occupation. That matching up of the political divide and the secular-religious one is a mistake. For a religious dove, however, there is an additional dimension to the argument about territories, settlements, and peace: The stakes are not only the future of one's country but also of one's religion."

(Via The American Prospect.)

I find myself in the same situation with my Christianity and homosexuality. It's why politics is bad for religion. Every political idea starts to become an article of faith. You can't have absolutism with equivocality without giving evil has an opening.


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Sacrificing the Public Option

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Sacrificing the Public Option | The American Prospect:

"Because the public option has stood no realistic chance of being enacted in the form it was conceived, its main value all along this year has been as a bargaining chip. The proposal will now have served a valuable political purpose if, by sacrificing it, the White House is able to provide enough cover to Democratic senators from red states to get a bill out of the Senate Finance Committee, through the upper chamber, and into conference with the House."

(Via The American Prospect.)

To quote Denzel in Training Day, "This shit is chess; it ain't checkers!"

Frank Talk

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Slavery needs more than an apology

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Commentary: Slavery needs more than an apology - CNN.com:

But here's the funny thing: While we white Americans are busy establishing our innocence, it turns out that many black Americans are not personally angry at us for slavery. Many do want authentic acknowledgement of what happened, but not for the sake of guilt-tripping. I've witnessed a generosity of spirit that I have been humbled by.

Meanwhile, many African-Americans are upset about the disparate outcomes that persist and want to see everyone step up to address them. There are so many lingering 'structural inequalities,' as President Obama put it -- ones without clear racist villains but that are embedded, like the fact that schools are funded with property taxes, so poor black neighborhoods, the legacy of earlier eras of discrimination, are not able to fund the quality schools that we say all our children deserve.

(Via CNN.)

Justice is the sound love makes when spoken in public.

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Rick Perlstein -- Birthers, Health Care Hecklers and the Rise of Right-Wing Rage - washingtonpost.com:

"So the birthers, the anti-tax tea-partiers, the town hall hecklers -- these are 'either' the genuine grass roots or evil conspirators staging scenes for YouTube? The quiver on the lips of the man pushing the wheelchair, the crazed risk of carrying a pistol around a president -- too heartfelt to be an act. The lockstep strangeness of the mad lies on the protesters' signs -- too uniform to be spontaneous. They are both. If you don't understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can't understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests."

(Via The Washington Post.)

Once again, ignorance and fear are exploited. "You been bamboozled! You been hoodwinked!"

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Rick Perlstein -- Birthers, Health Care Hecklers and the Rise of Right-Wing Rage - washingtonpost.com:

"So the birthers, the anti-tax tea-partiers, the town hall hecklers -- these are 'either' the genuine grass roots or evil conspirators staging scenes for YouTube? The quiver on the lips of the man pushing the wheelchair, the crazed risk of carrying a pistol around a president -- too heartfelt to be an act. The lockstep strangeness of the mad lies on the protesters' signs -- too uniform to be spontaneous. They are both. If you don't understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can't understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests."

(Via The Washington Post.)

Once again, ignorance and fear are exploited. "You been bamboozled! You been hoodwinked!"

The Word - Hippie Replacement

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A New Outlook on Office

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Microsoft: Next Mac Office due late 2010 with Outlook | Business Center | Macworld:

"However, Apple’s next version of Mac OS X, Snow Leopard, will include native support for Exchange Server when it’s released next month, which means business users can connect to Exchange data via Apple's built-in Mail, iCal, and Address Book applications. With this move imminent, Microsoft’s inclusion of Outlook in Office for Mac at the end of next year might be too little, too late, he said."

(Via Macworld.)

Competition is magic.

How to Not to Take Privacy Seriously

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Palm Pre debacle highlights location privacy issues | Security | iPhone Central | Macworld:

"On Wednesday mobile application developer Joey Hess wrote in his blog that the Pre periodically uploads location data to Palm. He was widely quoted, and the information left some readers upset."

(Via Macworld.)

Duh.

I knew someone out there had some good ideas at reform. A Democrat no less. It's a great read and should be on anyone's list interested in reform who is interested in solutions to fixing our status quo. The sad part is that no one in power is advocating a solution resembling the author's, esp. the GOP which should be if they were actually solution oriented. In fact, I've thought of many of the same things.

How American Health Care Killed My Father - The Atlantic (September 2009):

"I’m a Democrat, and have long been concerned about America’s lack of a health safety net. But based on my own work experience, I also believe that unless we fix the problems at the foundation of our health system—largely problems of incentives—our reforms won’t do much good, and may do harm. To achieve maximum coverage at acceptable cost with acceptable quality, health care will need to become subject to the same forces that have boosted efficiency and value throughout the economy. We will need to reduce, rather than expand, the role of insurance; focus the government’s role exclusively on things that only government can do (protect the poor, cover us against true catastrophe, enforce safety standards, and ensure provider competition); overcome our addiction to Ponzi-scheme financing, hidden subsidies, manipulated prices, and undisclosed results; and rely more on ourselves, the consumers, as the ultimate guarantors of good service, reasonable prices, and sensible trade-offs between health-care spending and spending on all the other good things money can buy...

First, we should replace our current web of employer- and government-based insurance with a single program of catastrophic insurance open to all Americans—indeed, all Americans should be required to buy it—with fixed premiums based solely on age. This program would be best run as a single national pool, without underwriting for specific risk factors, and would ultimately replace Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. All Americans would be insured against catastrophic illness, throughout their lives...

Every American should be required to maintain an HSA, and contribute a minimum percentage of post-tax income, subject to a floor and a cap in total dollar contributions. The income percentage required should rise over a working life, as wages and wealth typically do...

Americans should be able to borrow against their future contributions to their HSA to cover major health needs; the government could lend directly, or provide guidelines for private lending. Catastrophic coverage should apply with no deductible for young people, but as people age and save, they should pay a steadily increasing deductible from their HSA, unless the HSA has been exhausted. As a result, much end-of-life care would be paid through savings...

For lower-income Americans who can’t fund all of their catastrophic premiums or minimum HSA contributions, the government should fill the gap—in some cases, providing all the funding...

Some experts worry that requiring people to pay directly for routine care would cause some to put off regular checkups. So here’s a solution: the government could provide vouchers to all Americans for a free checkup every two years...

Many experts believe that the U.S. would get better health outcomes at lower cost if payment to providers were structured around the management of health or whole episodes of care, instead of through piecemeal fees... For simplicity and predictability, many people will prefer to pay a fixed monthly or annual fee for primary or chronic care, and providers will move to serve that demand...

Many consumers would be able to make many decisions, unaided, in such a system. But we’d also probably see the rise of health-care agents—paid by, and responsible to, the consumer—to help choose providers and to act as advocates during long and complex care episodes..."

(Via The Atlantic.)


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That's My Mens an' 'em

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VIDEO: 6abc Loves the Arts - Rah Crawford | Video | 6abc.com:

(Via ABC 6 News.)

Mob Deep

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Op-Ed Columnist - The Town Hall Mob - NYTimes.com:

"That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the ‘birther’ movement, which denies Mr. Obama’s citizenship. Senator Dick Durbin has suggested that the birthers and the health care protesters are one and the same; we don’t know how many of the protesters are birthers, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s a substantial fraction.

And cynical political operators are exploiting that anxiety to further the economic interests of their backers.

Does this sound familiar? It should: it’s a strategy that has played a central role in American politics ever since Richard Nixon realized that he could advance Republican fortunes by appealing to the racial fears of working-class whites."

(Via NY Times.)

Yeah, it's Southern Strategy remixed. The fact that people on Medicare don't want "government-run healthcare" exemplifies the ignorance and plain stupidity of these people.

Why 2009 is like 1984

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Daring Fireball:

"Apple censored an English dictionary.

A dictionary. A reference book. For words contained in all reasonable dictionaries. For words contained in dictionaries that are used every day in elementary school libraries and classrooms."

(Via Daring Fireball.)

This is completely shocking and disgusting from a company that I am a huge fan of.

The problem is there seems to be nothing that really can be done. Apple is in full control. Customers are oblivious to the problem. All they see is the censored dictionary. Developers have few levers on Apple. If they don't play along, they have no alternatives. Apple control the entire game from start to finish. This is what happens when one party has too much control. It's abused.

To be fair, this probably the product of a boneheaded approval process rather than some dystopian plot to control our minds, but still. I feel like it's Fahrenheit 451 or 1984, pun intended.

Martin Lawrence on the Cops

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YouTube - Martin Lawrence stand up 6:

""

(Via YouTub.)

If you listen from 1:00 to about 3:30, you get an apropos discussion on today's brouhaha. Note: this is circa 1995. (WARNING: NSFW!)

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Will Cops And Black People Ever Get Along? « The Michael Eric Dyson Show:

"Are the perceptions that have been heard about the relationships between cops and black men really as tense as projected or  nothing more than big misinterpretations?"

(Via The Michael Eric Dyson Show.)

I would say things have been always tense. When one has to fear for his life, that's not a calm and cool situation. That said, it was an interesting show.


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The Henry Louis Gates Jr. Arrest: When Race Matters - TIME:

"Obama, in all likelihood, has had similar experiences with the police, exchanges in which he was left with the impression that his Ivy League pedigree could take him only so far. And so it's unfortunate that he felt unable to continue to express what he truly felt. He was forced to revise and turn what was an objectively true statement — that it's stupid to arrest a man in his own house for being rude — into a vague 'teachable moment' [emphasis mine] about nothing particular...

This is deflating. If the rest of the country is too immature for some straight talk about the relationship between blacks and the police, delivered by our most accomplished and temperate diplomats, then the prospects for a broader dialogue about race are not good."

(Via TIME Magazine.)

Exactly. With all of the defenses I've heard for Crowley, not one addresses the fact that they arrested a man in his own home for essentially being rude. All those small government, losing freedom folks said nothing about this. This is the central argument for black folks accurate or not: That Gates' race made this kind of violation sanctioned in our society. Crowley's defenders simply prove that fear right.