“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison,” – Nelson Mandela, proof that the final form of love is forgiveness.
It is rare that one soul can impact all of ours – and make us more patient, more powerful and more human. Mandela was such a soul. And he will never leave us.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
We have a tendency to divide the world around us into categories. In fact, we have to, otherwise we couldn't make sense of it. When we refer to a wide variety of objects as "chairs", we're singling out a commonality of function which is much more important than their differences in detail. If we couldn't classify things that way as a kind of shorthand to mentally organize the world, we couldn't talk or think usefully.
It's when we apply this kind of categorization to people that we often create more confusion than we remove.
The problem is that we all too often fall prey to what I call "the singleness of identity" -- treating categories as exclusive. If you are an A, then you cannot be a B as well. Moreover, you are an A through and through, defined by your A-ness, fundamentally like all other As and distinct from all Bs. An A with a tinge of B is a concept foreign to this way of thinking.
The most obvious example of this is, of course, race. For a long time we thought of humanity as being divided into discrete, fairly-homogenous blocs: white, black, Asian, and so on. The US census still invites people to classify themselves that way (the addition of a "mixed-race" option, while a positive step, is really just adding another supposed hard-edged category), and all kinds of official statistics give rates of unemployment or literacy or whatever for these categories as if they were separate and immutable species. Everyone knows that most of those Americans we call "black" have a considerable amount of European ancestry, and most likely many of the Americans we call "white" also have some "black" ancestry. Yet except in cases of known and recent intermarriage, we generally don't think of anyone as being "mixed". For varying reasons, certain groups of people on both the left and right feel more comfortable thinking in terms of discrete racial and ethnic blocs, and are resistant to acknowledging the increased blurring of those categories which is the reality of the present and future.
(I frankly think that the weird racially-tinged hostility to President Obama in some quarters is actually more intense because of his known racially-mixed origin than it would be if he were straight-forwardly "black". Racists get far more agitated and upset about "miscegenation" than they do about the mere fact that people of different races exist.)
The more important flaw in such racial category-think, however, is the fact that, unlike such categories as "chair", it doesn't actually provide any useful information most of the time. Even in the case of a person whose ancestry comes entirely from just one "racial" category, it doesn't tell you anything important about him (except in the sense that it tells you how he is likely to be treated in a racist environment). There are no beliefs, behavior patterns, mental traits, or even major physical differences that correlate reliably with race. It's true that, for historical reasons, there are some cultural traits more often found among black, white, Asian, or Hispanic Americans than among Americans of other ancestries; yet assimilation, education, and the tendency of people to imitate behavior they observe in others, have dramatically blurred even these distinctions, even when no intermarriage is involved. A newly-arrived Chinese immigrant will certainly think, speak, and behave differently from the American-born people around him; but his American-born grandchildren will probably think, speak, and behave pretty much like other Americans in their social environment, regardless of whether they have any non-Asian grandparents. The traits involved are cultural, not racial.
What about culture, then? If terms like "black", "white", or "Asian" convey no important information about a person (only about others' likely prejudices toward him), the same cannot be said of "French", "Japanese", "Arab", "Latin American", and suchlike. Cultures are vast clusters of attitudes, values, and behavior patterns; cultural labels do convey important information about the groups of people they refer to.
But even there, there is no singleness of identity. A man born and raised in Paris and a farmer in Normandy may both be French in culture and ethnicity, but will probably differ in attitudes and values in important ways. A Chinese person from Hong Kong is far more likely to have absorbed some British ways of thinking and behaving than a Chinese person from the deep interior of the country. Ethnic Germans in Transylvania whose ancestors left Germany centuries ago are culturally different from people who live in Hamburg. No ethnic or cultural group is homogenous or free of outside influnces on its character. Moreover, identities overlap. A Breton or an Alsatian may feel every inch a patriotic Frenchman even though he grew up speaking Breton or a form of German. Many people in England are conflicted about whether they feel primarily English or primarily British. And what about people of, say, Irish ancestry who were born and live in England? Are they English or British or Irish or some pastiche of those identities?
With religion and ideology we are on firmer ground. Knowing that someone is a Marxist, or a Muslim, or a libertarian, or a Christian, etc., really does give you a lot of important information about his attitudes and values, especially if he is a fervent believer. It's much more meaningful to speak of a real and distinct Christian-fundamentalist subculture in the US than of a black or Hispanic subculture. Muslim societies of whatever ethnicity or ancestry share important features that differentiate them from non-Muslim societies. Yet even there, individuals differ in degree of fervor and in the other factors that affect their identity. Islam in India is not just like Islam in Saudi Arabia. Two Muslims living in the same apartment building in Paris may have completely different views about their religion and about how much they identify with the surrounding non-Muslim society.
Sexual orientation similarly refuses to fit into the singleness of identity. Homosexuality must have existed for millions of years, but the concept of "a homosexual" seems to be fairly new and not a very accurate way of describing reality. Most people are sexually attracted pretty much exclusively to the opposite gender. Some are attracted pretty much exclusively to their own gender; some (probably more) are attracted to both, in varying degrees. Some people change in orientation over time (it's fairly common for people who later feel exclusively heterosexual to "experiment" with homosexuality in late adolescence, for example). Nobody really knows the reasons for these variations. To say that a person with one preference "is" one thing, while somebody with another preference "is" a different thing, is worse than useless. To speak of "gays" is meaningful only in the sense that speaking of "blacks" is meaningful -- it describes the fact that the larger society walls off certain people into those categories and treats them differently. It doesn't accurately describe the underlying reality.
The fact is that every one of the seven billion humans on Earth is an individual, each one with a slightly different combination of some of the thousands of identity-categories we've devised to classify ourselves. No person is purely one thing. There is no singleness of identity.
Cross-posted from INFIDEL753 (5:50 AM, 26 November 2009).
Saturday, November 28, 2009
As you can see, an octopus is crafty, loyal, passionate, and very determined to keep loved ones away from the sushi chef. My avocations are the arts (camouflage) and letters (ink), and I am easily bribed with my favorite food ... crustaceans. Now that you know a little bit more about me, are we so different after all? Cephalopods rock!
Friday, November 27, 2009
I will be entering Massachusetts General Hospital for a pre-op procedure on December 1 and surgery on Deember 2. My docs told me to expect to be in hospital 2 to 3 days, and in recovery for about 2 weeks, maybe less, depending on how quickly I heal. I am turning over the keys to PE to my favorite 8-armed cephalopod on November 28.
Those of you who have kept in touch with me via email and facebook know this, and I thank you all for your good wishes and encouragement.
I'm certain the posts by The Swash Zone community will produce lively discussions and the occasional ill-tempered commenter. (O)CT(O)PUS has my permission to delete any obnoxious trolls who post only character assassinations and thoughtless talking points.
All Progressive Eruptions regulars are welcome and invited to continue to post their comments.
I'll be back as soon as possible. Meanwhile, enjoy the charms of an Octopus's Garden:
Keep it going.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
From Talking Points Memo:
After a rash of mistakes and apologies over the past weeks, Fox News has sent a memo to employees announcing a new "zero tolerance" policy for on-screen errors.
FishBowlDC obtained the memo, sent last Friday, which warns mistakes could lead to written warnings, suspensions and termination.
"Please know that jobs are on the line here. I can not stress that enough," the memo reads.
Fox has had three much-noticed errors in the past few weeks. First, Sean Hannity used misleading footage to beef up attendance numbers at a Capitol Hill tea party rally -- an incident that caught the attention of the Daily Show's Jon Stewart, forcing Hannity to apologize on air.
Then, last week, one of the midday news shows aired footage of an old Sarah Palin campaign rally to show the "crowds" at her current book tour. An anchor apologized a day later, and Fox blamed a "production error."
Finally, in another segment about Palin's book, the network showed the cover of a satire book called "Going Rouge" instead of her actual memoir, "Going Rogue."
I want to recognize this monumental achievement and remember Darwin and [Wallace] today for the work that brought mankind out of the dark world of superstition and ignorance and into the bright, lucid light of scientific knowledge.
The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection
Monday, November 23, 2009
It's worth watching the whole depressing video so that we can understand who her admirers are.
And please link over to The Swash Zone to read a review by of Palin's book by Dr. Joseph Suglia.
h/t Andrew Sullivan's blog
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
BAGHDAD — In its largest reconstruction effort since the Marshall Plan, the United States government has spent $53 billion for relief and reconstruction in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, building tens of thousands of hospitals, water treatment plants, electricity substations, schools and bridges.
But there are growing concerns among American officials that Iraq will not be able to adequately maintain the facilities once the Americans have left, potentially wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and jeopardizing Iraq’s ability to provide basic services to its people.The projects run the gamut — from a cutting-edge, $270 million water treatment plant in Nasiriya that works at a fraction of its intended capacity because it is too sophisticated for Iraqi workers to operate, to a farmers’ market that farmers cannot decide how to share, to a large American hospital closed immediately after it was handed over to Iraq because the government was unable to supply it with equipment, a medical staff or electricity.
The concern about the sustainability of the projects comes as Iraq is preparing for pivotal national elections in January and as rebuilding has emerged as a political imperative in Iraq, eclipsing security in some parts of the country as the main anxiety of an electorate frustrated with the lack of social, economic and political progress. American forces are scheduled to begin withdrawing in large numbers next year.
By JACKIE CALMES and MICHAEL COOPER
No, some conservative-leaning economists counter, we were right: The package has been wasteful, ineffectual and even harmful to the extent that it adds to the nation’s debt and crowds out private-sector borrowing.
These long-running arguments have flared now that the White House and Congressional leaders are talking about a new “jobs bill.” But with roughly a quarter of the stimulus money out the door after nine months, the accumulation of hard data and real-life experience has allowed more dispassionate analysts to reach a consensus that the stimulus package, messy as it is, is working.
Let's see how the malcontents spin that.
And finally, this nugget:
The local Borders outlet had handed out 1,000 wristbands to book purchasers; the wristbands were supposed to procure fans Palin's signature on their hardback copies of "Going Rogue." But several dozen people who had been promised signatures were turned away empty-handed after waiting hours in poor weather, a local news outlet, the Indy Channel, reported.
"We gave up our entire workday, stayed in the cold, my kids were crying," one man was quoted saying. "They went home with my wife. She was out here in the freezing cold all day. I feel like I don't want to support Sarah."
Be careful, Ms. Palin, the irrational exuberance that your fans have for you can turn into irrational detestation on a whim. This story shows that your popularity with them isn't quite as unconditional and forbearing as you may like to think.
Friday, November 20, 2009
To all those conservatives who think Glenn Beck is contributing anything of value to our national discourse, the ADL disagrees. In fact, the ADL finds that Beck incites hate and irresponsibly vicious anti-government conspiracy theories among those who actually believe he's more than a venal, cynical clown.
My opinion is that Beck found a perfect venue [FOX News and gullible, nonthinking mob ignorance and fears] to gain national prominence and a very large salary. Luckily, most people see him for what he really is, this era's Father Coughlin who exploits and easily misleads his listeners.
Beck’s spokesman declined comment to the News.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Iraq; Iran--what's the diff? GWB attacked Iraq after Al Qaeda attacked the US.
Oh noes! Fair and Balanced FOX News puts up wrong book cover (the FAKE Sarah Palin book, "Going Rouge"), while reporting on the AP fact checking "Going Rogue!"
This happens all the time on FOX: they've put up fake photos of protest rallies (for which Hannity had to apologize); they've identified Republican politicians as Democrats when GOPers get in trouble; they showed a photo of Frederick Douglass while reporting on the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
More people watch FOX than watch any other cable news station. Sloppy, inaccurate, and deliberately deceptive, FOX News appeals to GOPers!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Earlier this month the gigantic jellyfish, known as Nomura jellyfish, sank a fishing vessel off the coast of Japan. Sarah Palin's book, "Going Rogue, An American Life," made its debut this week. Both these events are facts-- events that occurred in November 2009. One year ago this month, Mr. Obama was elected president of the United States by the American people; therefore, because he is the president, Mr. Obama is to blame for the jellyfish disaster and the Palin book debut. I make this observation based on more than a few of my commenters who believe that stating a simple fact means that one is assessing blame on the president of the United States.
Now back to the jellyfish [and shame on Mr. Obama for being negligent and allowing nightmarish creatures to terrorize Japanese fishermen]:
"The trawler, the Diasan Shinsho-maru, capsized off Chiba`as its three-man crew was trying to haul in a net containing dozens of huge Nomura's jellyfish.
Each of the jellyfish can weigh up to 200 kg and waters around Japan have been inundated with the creatures this year. Experts believe weather and water conditions in the breeding grounds, off the coast of China, have been ideal for the jellyfish in recent months.
One of the largest jellyfish in the world, the species can grow up to 2 meters in diameter. The last time Japan was invaded on a similar scale, in the summer of 2005, the jellyfish damaged nets, rendered fish inedible with their toxic stings and even caused injuries to fishermen.
Relatively little is known about Nomura's jellyfish, such as why some years see thousands of the creatures floating across the Sea of Japan on the Tsushima Current, but last year there were virtually no sightings. In 2007, there were 15,500 reports of damage to fishing equipment caused by the creatures.
Experts believe that one contributing factor to the jellyfish becoming more frequent visitors to Japanese waters may be a decline in the number of predators, which include sea turtles and certain species of fish."
I don't know which factual event is worse: The attack of the giant jellyfish or the publication of Sarah Palin's book.
The jellyfish is awesome; Sarah Palin, not so much.
But both, according to some rightwingers, are Mr. Obama's fault!
Monday, November 16, 2009
Where were all those loud-mouthed hysterics when George W. Bush was holding hands and kissing the lips of the head of state of Saudi Arabia? Seems his fans didn't see anything wrong with George engaging in the customs of the Saudi Muslims when George was president. No president that I can remember ever kissed a head of state on his lips and walked hand in hand with him. But George did, because it is showed respect to his Muslim BFF. That behavior is customary and polite in Muslim culture. And George obliged.
The rightwingers are having apoplectic fits because Mr. Obama acknowledged a customary greeting in Japan. Mr. Obama did exactly what George W. Bush did, vis-a-vis respecting a local custom.
But rightwingers can't grasp the essential the truth of the matter.
George W. Bush kisses a Muslim leader on the lips and holds his hand, showing deep, loving, and humble respect for a Muslim custom.
*crickets* from the politically correct Right.
Mr. Obama shows respect for a Japanese custom, and the rightwings' heads explode.
Here's what the rightwingers, who are howling over Mr. Obama's show of respect, did not know and did not bother to research. This makes them look like ninnies:
Richard Nixon bowed to Emperor Hirohito--you know, the guy who was the head of Japan when it attacked the US at Pearl Harbor? Nixon BOWED TO HIROHITO when he visited THE UNITED STATES! Dwight Eisenhower BOWED to Charles DeGaulle during a state visit. And George W. Bush BOWED TO POPE BENEDICT, who is a head of state. And finally George W. Bush bowing to a Communist Chinese head of state.
So please, rightwingers, spare us your spittle flecking anger. Get upset over something important, like the millions of Americans without health care, and the thousands of veterans dying for lack of health care.
“[M]any who were bruised by the traumatic event were certain that no verdict by a jury or punishment by a judge will exorcise the pain and terror that remain. …[He]i declared that the verdict ‘demonstrates that New Yorkers won’t meet violence with violence, but with a far greater weapon — the law.’” (2) [The New York Times, 3/5/94]
“I think it shows you put terrorism on one side, you put our legal system on the other, and our legal system comes out ahead,” [he said]. (3) [CBS Evening News, 3/5/94]
Weeks after Sept. 11, Giuliani “framed the attacks in the language of crime, describing the hijackers as ‘insane murderers’ and calling for restoration of the ‘rule of law.’”
I. Terror Prosecutions in the Southern District of New York
Since the 1990s, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) has investigated and successfully prosecuted a wide range of international and domestic terrorism cases — including the bombings of the World Trade Center and U.S. Embassies in East Africa in the 1990s. More recent cases include those against individuals who provided material support to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, as well as against international arms trafficker Monzer al Kassar and the Somalian pirate charged in the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama.
Major Historical Cases in SDNY:
1993 World Trade Center Bombing: After two trials, in 1993 and 1997, six defendants were convicted and sentenced principally to life in prison for detonating a truck bomb in the garage of the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring hundreds more. One of the defendants convicted at the second trial was Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the attack.
1994-95 Manila Air Plot: Ramzi Yousef and two others were convicted in 1996 for plotting to plant bombs aboard a dozen U.S. commercial aircraft that were timed to go off as the planes were flying over the Pacific. The defendants were sentenced to substantial prison terms. Yousef concocted the plan with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is currently detained at Guantanamo Bay and has been indicted in SDNY for the Manila Air conspiracy since 1996.
1995 "Blind Sheikh" Trial: Ten defendants associated with a mosque in Brooklyn, N.Y., were convicted of plotting to blow up the World Trade Center, United Nations headquarters, and various bridges, tunnels and landmarks in and around New York City. The lead defendant, Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as the "Blind Sheikh," was sentenced to life in prison, while his co-defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging between life and 25 years.
Bin Laden Indictment and Embassy Bombings Trial: Shortly after the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, SDNY indicted Usama Bin Laden and approximately 20 alleged al-Qaeda loyalists for conspiring to murder Americans worldwide. Many of the defendants were also charged for their roles in the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in East Africa, including three defendants who were convicted after a six-month trial in early 2001. Those three defendants, and a fourth al-Qaeda member who was tried with them, were all sentenced to life in prison.
Recent Cases in SDNY:
James Cromitie et al.: On May 20, 2009, four individuals -- James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen -- were arrested on charges arising from a plot to detonate explosives near a synagogue in the Bronx, N.Y., and to shoot Stinger surface-to-air guided missiles at military planes located at a the National Guard Base at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, N.Y. On June 2, 2009, all four defendants were charged in an eight-count indictment and face potential life in prison, if convicted.*
Oussama Kassir: On May 12, 2009, Oussama Kassir was convicted of charges related to his participation in an effort to establish a jihad training camp in Oregon and his operation of several terrorist Web sites containing instructions about how to make bombs and poisons. Kassir was found guilty of all 11 charges against him, including providing material support to al-Qaeda and distributing information on explosives and weapons of mass destruction.
Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse: On April 21, 2009, accused Somalian pirate Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse was transported to the SDNY to face criminal charges stemming from his alleged participation in the April 8, 2009, hijacking of the Maersk Alabama container ship in the Indian Ocean. Muse is charged in a 10-count indictment and faces a mandatory life sentence, if convicted.*
Saturday, November 14, 2009
"The homosexual ethos depends on an abandonment of truth ... [T]he gay quest for "civil rights" bears little resemblance to the struggles of blacks and suffragists, whose eventual liberation benefited society at large. Instead, it calls up the American communists of the '50s and '60s who, in order to advance the radical interests of a narrow group, created a spurious "victim class," then convinced America that theirs was the side of justice."
SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE THE GAII!!!!
In an interview with former Miss California Carrie Prejean published Friday, Vincent defended her stance against gay marriage by saying she has many gay friends:
"See, the irony is that people like Carrie and I can be confidantes and even best friends with the gays and lesbians in our lives. ... We can collaborate on ideas, as I did with "Anlir," a gay commenter whose ideas I often adopted when I managed World Magazine's evangelical-focused blog. We can even be accepting of our family members' sexuality.
But if we dare to differ on the issue of gay marriage, then the truth about our actual relationships with gays and lesbians is ignored, liberals' clairvoyant "insight" into our hearts and minds is substituted as fact, and our protestations are filed mockingly under the "some of my best friends" defense."
Palin's ghostwriter's previous work includes Donkey Cons, a thoughtful investigative look at the Democratic Party's criminality that blows the lid off that "killer and traitor Aaron Burr." Vincent's co-writer on Donkey Cons was Robert Stacy McCain, a former Washington Times editor who writes things like this:
"[T]he media now force interracial images into the public mind and a number of perfectly rational people react to these images with an altogether natural revulsion. The white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sister-in-law, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us".
Vincent also ghost wrote the memoir of Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the former head of the Army's Special Forces Command, who literally believes that his job in the U.S. military was to defeat Satan for the Christian nation of America. Of one of our enemies in Somalia, Boykin said, "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." And why does the world hate us? "We are hated because we are a nation of believers." And how do we defeat terrorism? "[W]e come against them in the name of Jesus."
Media Matters has more on this repulsive person:
In her many years writing for World, Vincent has authored several columns on gay rights issues, frequently deriding gay men and lesbians as abnormal and "devian[t]," often trafficking in hackneyed stereotypes of the gay community. Vincent even went so far as to lament the American Psychiatric Association's decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder, and she also wrote that the struggle for gay rights differs from that for African-American civil rights and women's suffrage, in that it will not "benefit society at large."
Gay activist seeking to make "deviance" appear "normal." From Vincent's April 25 World column:
THAT'S GOING ROGUE, OR IS IT ROUGE? --WHATEVER, WE CAN BELIEVE IN!
Friday, November 13, 2009
William Kristol of the Weekly Standard must have heard the same joke and really liked the Communist-style justice it represented because he's advocating our American courts act like filthy commie pinko traitor thug murderers. [Actually, he doesn't even believe in a MOCK trial, just drag the guy out and shoot him.]
I'm shocked! Shocked! Shocked! That a devoted anti-Commie, like Kristol, would suggest we abandon our beloved Constitution--abandon everything this country has stood for and fought for--and act like vengeful, lawless savages--act like the very people we were taught to despise [the Commies] for their lack of "LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL."
Yes, Bill, even for bad guys. That's why so many millions of people looked to this country as a beacon of justice in an world too full of murderous dictators and tyrants who would do exactly what you fantasize doing to Hasan.
Actually, I'm really not shocked. This is what Kristol and others of his ilk dream of. This, to them, is their vision of AmeriKa.
Read about it here.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
PolitiFact does the work. Here the link.
Beck claims universal health care is driving Massachusetts' deficit
On his Nov. 2, 2009, Webcast, Glenn Beck rattled off a list of Republicans he thinks are just too liberal for his party, including Sen. Lindsay "Grahamnesty," Minnesota Gov. Tim "Cap-and-Trade" Pawlenty, Sen. John "My Hero is a Flaming Progressive" McCain, and Sen. Olympia "Health Care" Snowe.
And then there's former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who Beck said "opened the tent and gave you government health care that is now bankrupting the state.""That was my problem with the Massachusetts Romneycare," Beck said, referring to a three-year-old mandate that requires everyone in the state to have health care. "I remember saying to him, 'Mitt, you're not king. You're not going to be there forever. You opened the door, the progressives came in.'"
In many ways, the Massachusetts health care model mirrors a plan lawmakers are considering on Capitol Hill, so we wondered whether the mandate could be the budget-buster Beck claims it to be.
First, a few words about the Massachusetts plan. When Romney became governor in 2003, he was looking for a way for Massachusetts to make health care cheaper and more accessible. "People who don't have insurance nonetheless receive health care. And it's expensive," he told National Public Radio in 2006. "We're spending a billion dollars giving health care to people who don't have insurance. ... And my question was: Could we take that billion dollars and help the poor purchase insurance? Let them pay what they can afford. We'll subsidize what they can't."
Thus began Romney's plan for an individual mandate, a requirement that nearly everyone have health insurance, even those who are unemployed. Though Romney vetoed eight parts of the bill, including a provision that would have fined small businesses that failed to comply with the mandate (the legislature overrode that veto), the basics of his original vision remained intact throughout the legislative process. Commonwealth Care is a program that helps low-income consumers pay for plans while Commonwealth Choice acts as an insurance exchange for individuals and small businesses. The program is subsidized by taxpayer dollars and federal funding.
Today, about 96 percent of the state's population has health insurance, either through the state program, their employers or by other means, which ranks Massachusetts first in the nation in terms of percentage of people with some form of coverage. Nevertheless, Commonwealth Care has had its share of criticism. Some critics say it's been a boon to the insurance industry, while others complain that some consumers are paying even more for coverage, not less, as state lawmakers initially hoped. (In fact, Massachusetts has some of the most expensive health care per family in the country, according to some studies.) Another complaint: Commonwealth Care has taken a significant bite out of Massachusetts's bottom line.
Indeed, the program has been quite popular. Initially, the state projected that 215,000 people would eventually be enrolled in the program at the cost of $725 million. By 2007, enrollment had reached 80,000 and six months later, the number had doubled to 158,000 people. In 2008, enrollment peaked at more than 177,000 people. Currently, the state is expecting to spend about $880 million on Commonwealth Care in the coming budget year; that's about 3.3 percent of the state's $27 billion budget. So, while the program has become more expensive, it has not been the budget-buster that Beck suggests. We asked experts whether the state would still be facing a $5 billion deficit if the program hadn't been put into place, and the resounding answer was "yes."
While Beck's audience listens to his disinformation, they continue to become more and more uninformed and more easily led into the abyss of ignorance and fear.
Good luck with that.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
OF ALL the Big Lies told by the pooh-bahs of talk radio - that our biracial president hates white people, that global warming is a hoax, that a public health care plan to compete with private insurers equals socialism - the most desperate and deluded is this: that the so-called Fairness Doctrine would squash free speech.
The Fairness Doctrine would not stop talk radio hosts from spewing the invective that has made them so fabulously wealthy. All it would do is subject their invective to a real-time reality check.
Which brings me to a final mystery: If today’s conservative talkers are so sure they’re right about everything (and they certainly sound sure), and if they believe so ardently in the First Amendment, why don’t a few of them screw up the courage to invite me onto their programs to discuss the risks and rewards of the Fairness Doctrine? No shouting or cutting off microphones. Just good, old-fashioned freedom of speech.
Monday, November 9, 2009
EPISTLE TO BE LEFT IN THE EARTH
...It is colder now, there are many stars, we are drifting North by the Great Bear, the leaves are falling, THe water is stone in the scooped rocks, to southward Red sun grey air: the crows are Slow on their crooked wings, the jays have left us: Long since we passed the flares of Orion. Each man believes in his heart he will die. Many have written last thoughts and last letters. None know if our deaths are now or forever: None know if this wandering earth will be found. We lie down and the snow covers our garments. I pray you, you (if any open this writing) Make in your mouths the words that were our names. I will tell you all we have learned, I will tell you everything: The earth is round, there are springs under the orchards, The loam cuts with a blunt knife, beware of Elms in thunder, the lights in the sky are stars—— We think they do not see, we think also The trees do not know nor the leaves of the grasses hear us: The birds too are ignorant. Do not listen. Do not stand at dark in the open windows. We before you have heard this: they are voices: They are not words at all but the wind rising. Also none among us has seen God. (...We have thought often The flaws of sun in the late and driving weather Pointed to one tree but it was not so.) As for the nights I warn you the nights are dangerous: The wind changes at night and the dreams come. It is very cold, there are strange stars near Arcturus, Voices are crying an unknown name in the sky.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
House health care bill gets votes needed for passage.
220 members of Congress -- including one Republican, Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana -- voted in favor of health care reform, advancing the legislation by the slimmest of margins.
And thank you New York #23!!
Thank you Limbaugh and Palin for supporting the losing candidate.
That vote from New York's district #23 was tres valuable!
On to the Senate.
Sign seen at the fake grass roots anti-health care protest in Washington DC.
[I had intended to insert a photo here of the sign carried by the phoney protesters in DC, but I will not further stain the memory of the human beings depicted in it by placing it here on my blog. If you don't know what I refer to, go to the Huffington Post where it is documented.]
They've gone too far.
When will decent people rise up and tell these brainless mobs that comparing health care reform and President Obama to the slaughter of millions of Jews is indecent, inhumane, and unacceptable?
More important, Congressional Republicans took part in the protest and not one had the moral courage to condemn the slur committed on the memory of the Holocaust.
I don't watch FOX, listen to Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, or Malkin, so I don't know if any of those self-absorbed rabble rousers denounced the sign. But I'm guessing none of them did, because feeding into the murderous rage of phoney grass roots imbeciles attracts more imbeciles to their audiences, and that means more dollars in the bank for them.
Cynical heartless bastards. All of them.
Eight years ago, during a trip to Germany, I visited Dachau. The stark horror of what that place represents has stayed with me since then. If I remember correctly, after the war, the people of Dachau were given the chance to rename their city, for obvious reasons, but instead chose to keep it. And they were correct to do so. We cannot remove the monstrous history of that place and all the other camps where men, women, and children suffered and died just by changing a word. Nor should we ever allow the memory of the horrors committed there to be appropriated by mindless fools who have no sense of decency or human empathy for what the signs they carried represent.
We as a nation have reached yet another new low in our political discourse.
Today I am ashamed to be an American.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) has a message for Rep. Michele Bachmann:
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
There seems to be a semiconsensus across the land that the myriad decisions voters made around the country this week all added up to a terrible blow to the White House. If that’s the way we’re going to go, I don’t think it’s fair to dump all the blame on gubernatorial contests in New Jersey and Virginia.
Although there is no way to deny that New Jersey and Virginia were terrible, horrible, disastrous, cataclysmic blows to Obama’s prestige. No wonder the White House said he was not watching the results come in. How could the man have gotten any sleep after he realized that his lukewarm support of an inept candidate whose most notable claim to fame was experience in hog castration was not enough to ensure a Democratic victory in Virginia?
New Jersey was even worse. The defeat of Gov. Jon Corzine made it clear that the young and minority voters who turned out for Obama will not necessarily show up at the polls in order to re-elect an uncharismatic former Wall Street big shot who failed to deliver on his most important campaign promises while serving as the public face of a state party that specializes in getting indicted. [...]
We have a dramatic saga story line brewing here, and I do not want to mess it up by pointing out that Obama’s party won the only two elections that actually had anything to do with the president’s agenda. Those were the special Congressional races in California and upstate New York. But obviously they reflect only a very narrow voter sentiment, since one involved a district that was safe for the Democrats and the other a district that had not been represented by the party since 1872.
Winning two more seats in the House, where votes are counted for actual legislation, is quite heartening.
And here's another analysis on Tuesday's results:
First of all, the Democratic candidate in New Jersey, Jon Corzine, was an unbelievably unpopular incumbent who ran a tragically poor campaign. Corzine's unpopularity vastly predates Obama's impact on the electorate, and was the entire reason he lost. As for Virginia, well, that state has been a tough get for any Democrat for a couple of generations now; Obama's success there in the 2008 presidential election was the exception and not the rule for Democrats historically, and speaking of history, the party that wins the White House has gone on to lose the Virginia governor's office one year later every time since the Carter administration, so we're not into any kind of mold-breaking situation there.
Second of all, these were two statewide elections where Obama was not on the ballot, and there is no national significance whatsoever behind two states out of fifty voting for Republicans. Furthermore, Democrats cleaned up in local elections all across the country, especially in mayoral races, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of breathless reporting on this facet of yesterday's vote coming from the news folks. The umpire made the call, and that's how it goes. Or something.
Speaking of the national picture for the GOP, it is difficult to make a cogent argument that two statewide gubernatorial wins are enough to alter the country's opinion of the party, especially since the country's opinion of Republicans remains monumentally bleak. Just two weeks ago, a Washington Post/ABC News poll reported:
Among independent voters, who went heavily for Obama in 2008 and congressional Democrats in 2006, the numbers for Republicans on the confidence questions were even more worse. Just 17 percent of independents expressed confidence in Republicans' ability to make the right decision while 83 percent said they did not have that confidence.
On the generic ballot question, 51 percent of the sample said they would cast a vote for a Democratic candidate in their congressional district next fall while just 39 percent said they would opt for a GOP candidate.
And, perhaps most troubling for GOP hopes is the fact that just 20 percent of the Post sample identified themselves as Republicans, the lowest that number has been in Post polling since 1983. (No, that is not a typo.)
Finally, the idea that yesterday's elections bode well for the Republican Party might make for good television, but that doesn't make it right. The race in New York's 23rd District has far more national import than the other two, and the writing on the wall doesn't make for good reading for the GOP going forward. The election went sideways several weeks ago when moderate Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava came under fire from the high priests of the far right because they deemed her not conservative enough. Ersatz luminaries like Limbaugh, Beck and Palin jumped on board the third-party candidacy of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, and the resulting bedlam eventually drove Scozzafava out of the race. Scozzafava stepped aside after endorsing the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens, who went on to win Tuesday's election by a margin of 49-45.
This was a nifty win for the Democrats, because the seat was formerly held by Republican John McHugh, who vacated the seat after he was tapped by President Obama to serve as secretary of the Army. Beyond the pick-up, however, is the fact that the whole national Republican infrastructure has been shaken up thanks to this race. The hard-right GOP base revved itself up and successfully tore down an electable moderate member of their own party. If they get it into their heads to do this in other races come 2010, we could very easily watch the GOP eat itself next year, as its ground troops attack and soften up fellow Republicans, making them ripe pickings for Democratic opponents. The Democrats have been expecting to lose seats in 2010, something that nearly always happens during the first midterms of a new presidency, but open warfare within the GOP could very much mitigate the damage.
Speaking of the NY-23 race, memo to news reporters: the Democrat won. It isn't a "sweep" when the other team wins a game. The news people should ask the sports reporters for a refresher course on athletic terminology. It's probably a good idea to have your facts straight before your broadcasters open their mouths or your printing press puts ink to paper.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The Gassiest of Gasbags actually proclaimed that a woman who had been the mayor of a small town in Alaska and who voluntarily QUIT her job as governor of the same state--this same woman who had never travelled outside of the US until just a few years ago--Limbaugh proclaims she's ready to be the president of the United States of America. LOL!
NOTE: Keith Olbermann refers to Limbaugh as a "Comedian Rush Limbaugh."
Oh please, please, please. Let them nominate her.
Rush Limbaugh isn't endorsing Sarah Palin for president in 2012 but he says she's ready for the job now.
"One thing I do not do is follow conventional wisdom, and the conventional wisdom of Sarah Palin is "She's not smart enough. She needs to bone up on the issues. She's a little unsophisticated. Alaska, Where's that?, [She] doesn't have the pedigree,'" Limbaugh told Fox News' Chris Wallace. "She's the only thing that provided a spark for the Republican Party. This is not an endorsement, but I do have profound respect for Sarah Palin. There are not very many politicians who have been through what she's been put through and still able to smile and be ebullient and upbeat. This woman, I think, is tough," he said.
Because what this country needs is--well, not a really smart person who has met some intellectual challenges through completing a rigorous educational experience--NO! This country don't need no pointy-headed person who actually can hold two thoughts in his/her head at one time, who can speak in his/her native language, NO! What this country needs in desperate times is EBULLIENCE!
You know. A cheerleader! You betcha!
Limbaugh says he doesn't follow conventional wisdom. I think we already know that. We know what Limbaugh follows--and it has nothing to do with wisdom. Same with Palin. What could she possibly have to offer this country at this time? Her ability to quit a job before it's finished? That's her legacy: A small town mayor and a big time quitter.
The Limbaugh/Palin crowd really, really doesn't get it.