Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
There are a lot of particulars cited in the longer article itself. I recommend that you take a look. And also at the comments that follow.
For generations in this country, there has been a sort of a gentleman's agreement in terms of what constituted professional behavior among journalists. And there has been a sense of shame when members crossed those lines into unprofessional behavior. Bosses chastened those employees, people were fired, and ethics panels were summarily convened to make certain the transgressions didn't happen again. Fox News, though, has walked away from all of that. And guess what? The rest of the press hasn't said boo.
That's been the sad case for years. (Playing dumb about Fox News' partisan pursuits now qualifies as a Beltway intramural sport.) Indeed, the loophole, or the caveat, to journalism's gentleman's agreement has always been that the guidelines were voluntary and self-policing. There was no governing body, either within journalism or without, that regulated the product. The only collective deterrent from producing bad journalism, aside from rather lax U.S. libel laws, is a collective sense of shame, a shared feeling that making a factual error -- or worse, purposefully pushing false information under the guise of journalism -- was both unprofessional and unacceptable.
But clearly, Fox News does not share that sense of shame, because it's not part of the larger journalism brotherhood. Fox News doesn't feel like rules such as fairness, accuracy, neutrality, and independence apply, which is obvious since Fox News breaks those rules with stunning regularity. In fact, its programming day seems designed to break the traditional rules ad nauseam. That's what it's built to do. And if nothing else, Fox News is ruthlessly efficient.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Now doesn't that make sense?
Hey, Congress!!! I don’t want to “shop” for health insurance in any kind of “market”! I want to pay a tax to support a trust fund which pays for care when and if I need it, just like I pay my property tax to support the fire department. In the event of fire, they send a truck out. Just the truck and people with the training required to put out the fire. No more or no less than what I would need in that circumstance. No personal responsibility questionnaires to prove that I’ve taught my kids not to play with matches, that I have my wiring up to code, that I don’t store oily rags in the basement and am truly eligible for and deserving of assistance. And especially no tripling of my property tax just for using the service. There is not one single logical reason why a heart attack should not be dealt with (and paid for) like putting out a house fire. The cheapest and most efficient way to pay for health care is to pay for it like we pay for any other public good, like schools, roads, libraries, fire and police protection, or any other part of our society’s infrastructure.
Monday, October 26, 2009
All I've got to say is this, Congressman Grayson: Don't get in any small planes, okay?
Controversial freshman Rep. Alan Grayson, who has become famous for attacking the Republicans' health care plan, went on the attack again Friday night, calling former Vice President Dick Cheney a vampire for his recent criticism of the Obama administration's handling of the war in Afghanistan.
"I have trouble listening to what [Cheney] says sometimes because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he's talking," the Florida Democrat said on MSNBC's Hardball Friday night. "But my response is this: he's just angry because the president doesn't shoot old men in the face. But by the way, when he was done speaking, did he just then turn into a bat and fly away?"
(The above excerpt is from the CNN Political Ticker.)
You know, it's not that hard to adopt a vegetarian diet. Just keep one vegetarian day a week for a while and later, when you're used to that, try keeping two days a week and so on. You can easily become a vegetarian in a year and it will be easy! (But first read up on how to do it sensibly and with good nutritional practices. It really won't do just to cut out the meat and then fill up on potato chips!)
The following quotes, facts, figures, and statistics are excerpted from Please Don't Eat the Animals (2007) by Jennifer Horsman and Jaime Flowers:
"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
"Each year, the meat industrial complex abuses and butchers nearly 9 billion cows, pigs, sheep, turkeys, chickens, and other innocent, feeling animals just for the enjoyment of consumers. Each year, nearly 1.5 million of these consumers are crippled and killed prematurely by heart failure, cancer, stroke, and other chronic diseases that have been linked conclusively with the consumption of these animals. Each year, millions of other animals are abused and sacrificed in a vain search for a 'magic pill' that would vanquish these largely self-inflicted diseases."
---Alex Hershaft, PhD, president, Farm Animal Reform Movement
When analyzing 8,300 deaths in the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany among 76,000 men and women in five different, large studies, researchers concluded that vegetarians have a 24 percent reduction in death from heart disease.
Similarly, in the famous Oxford Vegetarian Study, where 6,000 vegetarians were compared with 5,000 meat-eaters over nearly two decades, scientists found that the rate of death from heart disease was 28 percent lower in vegetarians than in meat-eaters.One study analyzed eighty scientific studies in leading medical journals. The analysis found that vegetarians had lower blood pressure, and were less likely to suffer from stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure.
A large German study of nearly 2,000 vegetarians found that deaths from heart disease were reduced by over one-third, and that heart disease itself was far less than that of the general population.
Another large study examined the coronary artery disease risk of young adults ages 18 to 30 and vegetarians were found to have much higher levels of cardiovascular fitness and a greatly reduced risk of heart disease.
"The process of gradual blocking of the coronary arteries begins not in adulthood but in childhood...and the main cause of this arteriosclerosis is the steadily increasing amount of fat in the American diet, particularly saturated animal fats such as those found in meat, chicken, milk and cheeses. If there was another disease that caused half a million deaths a year, you can be sure that the public would be acutely aware of the danger, and that the cure or prevention would be universally practiced."
---Dr. Benjamin Spock, author, child expert
"I don't understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open and put them on powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs for the rest of their lives."
---Dr. Dean Ornish, author, Reversing Heart Disease
Stroke is the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Vegetarians have a 20 to 30 percent reduced risk of having a stroke. Stroke, like heart disease, is associated with diets high in saturated fats, and the vegetarian diet is naturally low in these fats.The Oxford Vegetarian Study found cancer mortality to be 39 percent lower among vegetarians when compared with meat-eaters. The European Prospective Investigation of Cancer found vegetarians suffer 40 percent fewer cancers than the general population.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
She's really got a point, I think.
And I also have a problem with the way women are infantalized by the health care system.
Oh my goodness! The title of her book suddenly made me remember the ending of The Life of Brian: "Always look on the bright side of life". (Ha! If you can't cope with a little irreverence, don't click through!) I saw that flick back when it first came out in the late 70s and laughed until my sides ached. Oh, it's rich!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Most Republican senators voted against the bill, by the way, which will not surpise you.
The Senate has voted to pass the The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention law as part of the Defense Authorization Bill, invoking cloture to produce a majority vote of 68-29. The bill will now go to President Obama's desk where he is expected to sign after vowing to support the extension of existing hate rimes legislation.
The hate crimes law, which was added to the $680 billion defense authorization bill earlier this year, would extend the scope of federal hate crimes laws to include assaults against an individual based on their sexual orientation or perceived gender identity, allowing harsher punishments to be dealt for bias motivated crimes. It passed the House two weeks ago on a vote of 281 to 146.
I cried when I first learned about polar bears drowning due to the ice floes melting. They are also starving in some places and turning to cannibalism.
The Obama administration said Thursday it is designating more than 200,000 square miles in Alaska and off its coast as "critical habitat" for polar bears, an action that could add restrictions to future offshore drilling for oil and gas.
Federal law prohibits agencies from taking actions that may adversely affect critical habitat and interfere with polar bear recovery.
Assistant Interior Secretary Tom Strickland called the habitat designation a step in the right direction to help polar bears stave off extinction, while recognizing that the greatest threat to the bear is the melting of Arctic sea ice caused by climate change.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
There is something really wrong with this. I don't see how anyone can miss it.
We’ve spent the last few decades shoveling money at the rich like there was no tomorrow. We abandoned the poor, put an economic stranglehold on the middle class and all but bankrupted the federal government — while giving the banks and megacorporations and the rest of the swells at the top of the economic pyramid just about everything they’ve wanted.
- Bob Herbert, "Safety Nets for the Rich"
Monday, October 19, 2009
I wonder if anyone is advising the President about the likely electoral consequences of not having a public option?
Indeed, if the Democrats abandon the public option for the sake of passing a bill like the one that came out of the Senate Finance Committee, they may be courting electoral disaster once voters grasp that they will have to wait years for the law to be implemented and then that it could lead to higher costs for much the same unpopular private insurance plans.
The public option offers the only means for a reform to be quickly implemented and to demonstrate a beneficial effect for the people by 2010 and 2012. It has the potential for reducing costs, especially for small businesses and individuals who are now being soaked by private insurers or denied coverage.
All this health reform business just gives me more and more evidence to reinforce my deep conviction that capitalism is intrinsically immoral.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Nothing like stating the obvious, huh?
In the debate over health care reform, no issue has produced more fury and sound bites than the question of whether to include a government-run insurance plan. It is not indispensable, and its role would be limited. Even so, we strongly support inclusion of a public option — the bigger and stronger the better. That is the best way to give consumers more choices, inject more competition into insurance markets, hold down the cost of insurance policies, and save money for the federal budget.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
And, of course, the recession did not merely loom, it crashed in, it invaded, it took over, it practically decimated us.
If you could go back in time to President George W. Bush's inaugural address and add one economic statement, what would it be? For me, there is an obvious answer.
If Bush had promised in January 2001 that the baseline of government spending that he inherited when he took office would be the cap during his term, then we would have a big budget surplus today. It would have been easy to do. He just had to say: "I will not spend one penny more than President Bill Clinton planned to. I will veto any bill that tries to.''
I have written before in this space that Bush has outspent Clinton by a mile. With government spending still out of control, the gap between where we are and where a disciplined nation could have been is getting bigger and bigger.
With a recession looming, the policy implications of the spending explosion are serious. If a deep recession occurs, we will have less wiggle room.
The writer, Kevin Hassett (a conservative by the way), then runs an "alternative history" by imagining what would have happened if President Bush had restrained himself on government spending. You might like to go read the whole piece. It's short.
He said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. Bardwell said he came to the conclusion that most black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society.
“Yet, the children are innocent. They had nothing to do with that,” he said.
In many cases, he said, the grandparents or a relative ends up with the children.
“I don’t do interracial marriages because I don’t want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves,” Bardwell said. “In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer.”
He said if he does an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all.
“I try to treat everyone equally,” he said.
What can I say but good grief.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Here's what makes me sympathetic: The manufacturers have been made exempt from any liability. That definitely raises red flags for me. And I remember the swine flu scare of 1976. One person died from the actual swine flu. Twenty-five people died from the vaccine and many more suffered serious adverse effects.
Lorna Patterson is willing to take on New York's top health official for her right to be flu vaccine-free.
The registered nurse in Albany Medical Center's emergency room is among a group of nurses who plan to file a lawsuit against state Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Daines to prevent the mandatory vaccination of New York's health care workers with the H1N1 flu virus.
If Patterson and Kathryn Dupuis do not receive their shots within the next two weeks, they will likely lose their jobs in the emergency room at Albany Medical Center. Patterson said the vaccination was rushed into production in a matter of months and that its effect has not yet been properly studied.
Patterson said the vaccination could be dangerous for people, including pregnant women, and that more time is needed to understand its effectiveness. She said she is not willing to risk her health and does not think it is fair that she should lose her job.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I want to call your attention to an article on Alternet this morning entitled "The Stupidity of "Zero-Tolerance": 6-Year-Old Suspended For Bringing Food Utensil to School" with a lead that says, "What can this teach us about U.S. foreign policy? Quite a lot, actually."
Here's how it gets started:
Reform school? Reform school?
NEWARK, Del. -- Finding character witnesses when you are 6 years old is not easy. But there was Zachary Christie last week at a school disciplinary committee hearing with his karate instructor and his mother's fiancé by his side to vouch for him.
Zachary’s offense? Taking a Cub Scout utensil that can serve as a knife, fork and spoon to school. He was so excited about joining the Scouts that he wanted to use it at lunch. School officials concluded that he had violated their zero-tolerance policy on weapons, and Zachary now faces 45 days in the district's reform school.
Then there's this:
Just go read the rest of it, okay? It's short. I'd love people's take on it.
"Zero-tolerance" policy arose from the string of shooting sprees in American high schools. As usual, schools did not thoughtfully analyze what kind of school environment (complete with hierarchical sects and rampant bullying) is inspiring such horrific shootings. Rather, schools followed steps 1 through 5, and opted for a hyper-totalitarian state within a state where children are all treated as suspects, including little Zachary Christie.
Monday, October 12, 2009
And now here's something else he's said:
I want to say a few words about what it means to be a Democrat. What it means to be a Democrat. It’s very simple. We have a conscience. We have a conscience.
When we see someone in need, someone who needs to see a doctor, someone who is hungry--- adult, a child… when we see someone in need, something within us says we need to do something to help that person.
We’ve known for over 3000 years that a good society, a civilized society, is one that shelters the homeless, feeds the hungry and that HEALS THE SICK.
Now, the other side may disagree.
They actually read books with titles like “The Virtue of Selfishness.” I didn’t make that up. “The Virtue of Selfishness”. They think that it’s good somehow, that you have a hard heart. Well, WE don’t have a hard heart. We look around and see another fellow human being in need, and we care. WE CARE. That’s what it means to be a human being.
Well, of course, I agree. Now we need more Democrats to speak out forcefully this way.
I found the above passage right here.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Ha! When I was young we picked up the phone and the operator said, "Number, please." You actually talked to her for your number to be connected! Then when rotary phones came in, that was the best thing since sliced bread. (No, I'm not so old that I remember when sliced bread came in.....!)
Friday, October 09, 2009
Well spoken, I say.
The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists — the Taliban and Hamas this morning — in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize. Republicans cheered when America failed to land the Olympics and now they are criticizing the President of the United States for receiving the Nobel Peace prize — an award he did not seek but that is nonetheless an honor in which every American can take great pride — unless of course you are the Republican Party. The 2009 version of the Republican Party has no boundaries, has no shame and has proved that they will put politics above patriotism at every turn. It’s no wonder only 20 percent of Americans admit to being Republicans anymore – it’s an embarrassing label to claim.
By now you certainly know that our president, Barack Obama, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Maybe you will be surprised to learn - or maybe you wouldn't - that the conservatives are claiming that he doesn't deserve it. There is even the claim that Obama being awarded the prize is an example of "afirmative action".
Now will you believe they are egregious racists?
By the way, the Nobel committee said the following:
It might be worth considering that the decision of the committee was a thorough rejection of the "cowboy diplomacy" of our previous administration.
His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
It's from an article entitled Voters Back Obama Over Republicans on Health Care, Poll Finds.
Asked who they trusted to do a better job on the health- care issue, 47 percent said Obama, 31 percent said the Republicans. The president’s overall approval rating was 50 percent, unchanged from a similar survey in late July and early August.
The poll found voters support a government-run plan to compete with private insurers 61 percent to 34 percent. Obama backs creating such a program, which has been the focus of much of the health-care debate in Congress.
It first came to my attention on AMERICAblog.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Yes, I checked the Conservapedia site itself and the project exists and it's serious.
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
That famous line, attributed to Jesus in Luke 23:34, could well apply to the folks at Conservapedia -- the "conservative version" of Wikipedia -- who have embarked on a project to rewrite the Bible.
In an effort to rid the Good Book of "liberal bias," the group has set up the Conservative Bible Project, which aims to rewrite the Bible from a modern, conservative perspective.
"Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations," the project's Web site asserts.
And the line quoted above is one of the group's targets for deletion in a truly "conservative" Bible. The "forgive them father" quote "is a favorite of liberals but should not appear in a conservative Bible," Conservapedia states.
Can you believe that the conservatives want to eliminate forgiveness from Christianity? Mercy!
Monday, October 05, 2009
This was on All Hat No Cattle today.
"Some of these people are starting to put politics first and country second," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, taking particular issue with Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
-- Ann McGilly, a New Jersey resident, received her last unemployment check last week and said she no longer has money to pay for her 17-year-old son's medication, wondering why the Senate is putting action on health care ahead of extending unemployment benefits.
Please make these people understand that it's cruel to make people wait like this for a health bill that may never come about. I signed for my final check, it was direct-deposited on Tuesday, all that money is going to my rent, and I don't even have money to buy food.
It's the last paragraph in an article called "5 Crazy Right-Wing Freak-Outs in Just One Glorious Week" by Brad Reed. Do click through and read it. It's another eye-opener.
It used to be that I felt I understood what conservatives wanted: strong defense, low taxes and no illegal immigrants. But now with their vociferous opposition to hosting the Olympics in their own country, I admit that I literally do not understand what the hell motivates them anymore.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
I really agree with that first sentence I've quoted above. I think it's true and I don't understand why the politicians don't get it.
What Americans want is affordable health coverage provided in as simple a package as possible.
That was the finding of a New York Times/CBS News poll which discovered widespread confusion about the health proposals taking shape in Congress, but more than 2-1 support for a public option to compete with private insurers -- 65 percent for a public option, 26 percent against and 9 percent no opinion. [NYT, Sept. 25, 2009]
After all, one of the attractions of the public option is its relative simplicity and cost-effectiveness. It could piggyback on the existing Medicare bureaucracy and thus get started quickly and cheaply. According to congressional budget analysts, it is the only plan that offers significant cost savings.
Cost savings would not only help reduce the federal deficit but they would mean that more Americans would get the health care they need without going broke. In other words, it would save lives, reduce housing foreclosures, and protect families now being ripped apart by brutal financial pressures.
Yet, despite this common sense - and broad voter support for the public option - the Senate Finance Committee rejected the idea. Chairman Baucus conceded that the concept was appealing, but he joined other conservative Democrats in voting no, claiming a public option couldn't clear the 60-vote hurdle to stop a Republican filibuster.
So, instead of trying to rally the votes - or using the "reconciliation process" that allows a simple majority to enact legislation having budget implications - Baucus kept on cobbling together a nearly incomprehensible construct of tax credits, income formulas, fees and other mumbo-jumbo.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
And think about saving it. Who knows? It might really come in handy one day.
Friday, October 02, 2009
Here's part of it:
Earlier, Green made this point:
If the Russians had come here and done this -- if they had come and stolen our resources, if they come and enslaved our children into inescapable soul-numbing jobs, if they had left us with environmental degradation and a wrecked economy and destroyed education system and a crumbling infrastructure and a sieve-like healthcare regime -- if the Russians had come and done any or all of this, we would've risen up in anger and hostility and patriotism and nationalism, and we'd have loaded up our weapons and killed every last one of them.
But it wasn't the Russians that did it, it was our own overclass. And worse still, it was our own government acting as though they were protecting us from the evil bogeyman du jour, while in fact they were assisting the wealthy in bleeding us dry, until our anemia left us fit only for our profit-seeking hospitals.
All this seems so ridiculously obvious to me. I really don't get why it's so hard to see.
...and not only are we not furious at them, we don't even notice the crime. Or, if we do notice, we're furious at some ridiculously inappropriate target, like a ‘liberal' president who isn't even remotely liberal.
Now here's the part that really concerns me:
And yet, because he is being made out to be some sort of outrageously decadent liberal, and because Americans are too dim to figure out the ruse, this president -- who is failing to address the concerns of ordinary Americans, most especially because he's not working for them in the least -- is bound to fail, and is looking increasingly like the proud owner of a one-term presidency. And what we can expect in reaction to that failure -- ironically and disastrously and jaw-droppingly idiotically -- is a sharp turn to the right. When Obama fails, it will be framed, as it already is being, as some sort of grand failure of liberalism. In fact, of course, just the opposite is true. It's a grand success of the overclass's looting of America.
Go read the rest of it if you have time. It's worth it. I assure you.
The article goes on to report about the "How To Take Back America" conference that was held in St. Louis last weekend.
The cause du jour for the Republican Party is to make as many rapid-fire comparisons between the Democrats and the Nazis as humanly possible. There're the posters altered to make the President look like Hitler, Glenn Beck's use of Nazi imagery, and the GOP's tendency to parade around pliant Holocaust survivors, who are willing to lie and convince hapless boobs that they're seconds away from being loaded onto the trains headed to New Auschwitz, located... somewhere -- probably in those FEMA camps Beck has been trying to warn us about.
Crazy, crazy stuff. Insulting and dangerous, too. Such propaganda is insulting to Holocaust survivors, some of whom are rightfully upset by the Obama-Hitler contrasting. "I saw Hitler's soldiers. I saw swastikas every day. To call Obama stupid, even criminal -- OK, that's politics. But Hitler? It's hurting to anyone no matter who is president," a Holocaust survivor told Times of the Internet.
You know, there's an atmosphere in the country right now that gives me the heebie-jeebies. Really. I don't know how to describe it effectively but I do feel it. And I'm deeply concerned.
(Oh, and, by the way: those FEMA camps were built under the Bush administration.)
Thursday, October 01, 2009
It's a relatively short piece and won't take you very long to read.