Monday, August 31, 2009

Defending Glenn Beck

Doug Giles latest article sticks up for poor benighted Glenn Beck. According to Glenn Beck (and why would he fib about this), the White House is calling him up during his show and asking him to dial the rhetoric back. But, according to Giles, all Beck has are questions and facts.

Questions like "Are the President’s advisers working to better the country or their own ideals?" Yeah that's a real head-scratcher. I wonder if that question could have been asked during the Bush era? No I'm sure people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were clearly working to better the country. It also begs the question of, if you think your ideals are what is best for the country, isn't working for them a way of working to better the country?

Glenn Beck also believes that the United States might have suffered a coup in the recent election of Barack Obama.
At this point, gang, I'm not sure, they may be able to because they are so far ahead of us. They know what they're dealing against; most of America does not yet. Most of America doesn't have a clue as to what's going on. There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America, and the way it is done, it has been done through the -- the guise of an election, but they lied to us the entire time.
Yep the election of 2008 was a coup. You might consider some of the implications of that suggestion; how should you act if your countries political power has been usurped by an impostor?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Suicide is Painless

Or so the song goes; two writers over at Townhall describe America's current course as suicidal.
When a democracy reaches a point where the politicians cannot say no to the people, and both parties are competing for votes by promising even more spending or even lower taxes, or both, the experiment is about over.

"Remember," said John Adams, "democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
Pat Buchanan, "The Fatal Flaw of Democracies"
One answer is to be found in a new book by investigative reporter, educator and columnist Martin Gross. Gross summarizes in an easy to read and understandable style how and why government has failed its citizens. The book, to be released Sept. 1, is called "National Suicide: How Washington is Destroying the American Dream from A to Z." In addition to listing some of the more outrageous pork projects that are now well-known to anyone who has been paying attention ($107,000 to study the sex life of the Japanese quail; $150,000 to study the Hatfield-McCoy feud are just two examples on a long list), Gross touches on even bigger and equally outrageous expenditures.
Cal Thomas, "National Suicide"

Granted both are quoting others, but it is pretty grim imagery.

Complaining about $7,000,000,000,000 in debt and then bringing up $150,000 to study the Hatfield-McCoy feud strikes me as a big out of whack. That $150,000 accounts for 0.0000025% of the debt. Plus it's a history project; we should be doing more history, not less.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Healthcare of Many Lands

Good article over at Common Dreams by T. R. Reid about how health care works around the world; turns out the rest of the world isn't a medical wilderness, nor are they run by draconian monsters. Rather it seems like there are a variety of plans, each of which has certain benefits and drawbacks.
Some countries, such as Britain, New Zealand and Cuba, do provide health care in government hospitals, with the government paying the bills. Others -- for instance, Canada and Taiwan -- rely on private-sector providers, paid for by government-run insurance. But many wealthy countries -- including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and Switzerland -- provide universal coverage using private doctors, private hospitals and private insurance plans.
Hmmmmmm. Kind of eye opening, although I'm sure there are plenty of unsubstantiated horror stories out there too.

Pulling the Plug

Carol Platt Liebau's latest article is undoubtedly heartfelt. She writes about her father who sounds like a great guy and who recently passed away. Charity should require me to let it go at that, but honesty requires me to write on a bit more.
Whatever his health profile looked like on paper – the only way a “cost containment” bureaucrat would ever have encountered it – his life was precious both to him and to those of us who loved him.

That’s why I’m grateful that he wasn’t required by some version of ObamaCare to participate in “end of life counseling,” where someone who knew nothing about him – and couldn’t have cared less – might have tried to convince him that he (and his children) would be better off if he were dead.
As has been repeatedly noted, the end of life counseling is optional and intended to be a service for those who would use it; it's not intended to be mandatory as a cost saving measure.
At least until now, there’s been no question about whether someone’s life is “worth” saving; we’ve presumed that everyone’s life is important – not just those of the powerful or the important or the connected. Or the young.

Once government mandates replace market forces in allocating health services, the resulting rationing will do more than destroy the most innovative medical system in the world.
Aye theres the rub; because of course insurance companies currently aren't acting like everyone's life is important. They aren't, Ms. Liebau. It's great that your father got the kind of care he deserved, presumably because you and your family were able to pay for it. On the other hand there are plenty of deserving people, just as deserving as your father, who are denied care because of your glibly named "market forces."

Friday, August 21, 2009

News From the Past - August 21, 1929

Here's a nice little story from the Moberly Monitor-Index and Moberly Evening Democrat, originating in Moberly, Missouri. Yes that is the full name of the paper apparently.
Negro Arrested on
Charge of Possessing
Intoxicating Liquor

Riley Jackson, negro, was caught last night at his home on Homer street, pouring what the officers declared to be corn liquor from a galIon bottle into a half-pint bottle. The front door of the Jackson house was open and City Officers McAdams and Cleeton happened to be in the neighborhood at that particular time.
Jackson was arrested on a charge of possession of corn liquor and was turned over to the state auhtorities.
I like that they specify that it was intoxicating; I guess it is an important distinction. Had Mr. Jackson been pouring non-intoxicating liquor I guess he would have been ok.

I also wonder what the arresting officers were doing; I mean if you leave your door open is that really an invitation for the Police to march in and see if you are doing anything illegal? Or did they see Jackson doing his nefarious pouring and say "That certainly constitutes a crime in progress. Let's go."

Nefarious pouring would be a good name for an album.

Those Wacky Conservatives

David Harsanyi, in an article over at Townhall today, writes in to complain about Obama bringing God into the Healthcare debate.
Yes, it's finally come to this. We've dragged the Almighty Lord into the debate. It's Yahweh or the highway.

This week, President Barack Obama claimed his version of health care reform is "a core ethical and moral obligation," beseeching religious leaders to promote his government-run scheme.

. . . On Team Righteous, we have those who meet their moral obligations; on the other squad, we must have the minions of Beelzebub -- by which, of course, we mean profit-driven, child-killing, mob-inciting insurance companies.
Hilarious. Of course Conservatives have, for years and years, been telling us all that Conservatism and Christianity are synonymous. They have also, regularly and laughably, told us that Liberals are opposed to God. Complaining about dragging God into it at this point seems hilarious (which is presumably why Harsanyi is writing this article, and not the dozens of commentators who have invoked God so regularly over the years.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Myths

Michael Barone's latest article takes on the the difference between Liberal supporters of improving health care and Conservatives supporters of the status quo and tort reform. He determines that Conservatives are better than Liberals through a process I like to call "wishful thinking." Specifically he believes liberals don't really know or care much about health care; they just want to see Obama win one.
I can't help doubting that these activists have given long and deep thought to "government option" health insurance or negotiating, as the Obama White House has, nonaggression pacts with pharmaceutical lobbyists and the like.

They sound much more like a crowd at a stadium, eager for a touchdown and not caring much whether it's accomplished by a quarterback sneak or a runback of a punt.
Of course this is against a backdrop of liberals being very angry with Obama for taking single payer completely off the table and probably removing the Public Option from the bill as well. He contrasts this apparently staunch support for Obama with Republicans who have studied the bill and know what it says.
In contrast, those who are opposed are motivated to show up and express their anger, and in far greater numbers than the hapless Republican Party or the various health insurance companies could ever muster.
Yes, they are motivated to show up and denounce mythological Death Panels and Obama as Hitler. That doesn't necessarily speak to their understanding of the bill; frankly in some cases it looks more like they don't trust or like Obama and want to slam into him.

Oh, and apparently at least one Insurance Company is encouraging its employees to attend the townhalls, according to a post at Talking Points Memo.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

News From the Past - August 19, 1929

Haven't done this in a while. This is from the Chester Times, from Chester,PA, which I'm sure I've used before.

Finds Tariff Bill Complete
as to Rates, But Debate
Is Postponed
Only Handful of Members
Present; House Not
WASHINGTON, Aug. 19—(I.N.S.) Reassembling after a ten weeks' vacation from its special farm relief session, the Senate today found the new $700,000,000 tarrif bill, completed as to rates, but with debate on it postponed until after Labor Day.
Only Vice President Curtis, a handful of party leaders and the regular attaches were present for the brief session. Under a gentleman's agreement, the Senate will recess from time to time until September 4 without transacting any but routine business. The reccesses will run from Monday to Thursday and Thursday to Monday.
Tho House meanwhile continued on vacation. It will return September 16 only to face the prospect of anotherlong vacation until after the Senate has passed the teriff measure.
This is one of those stories that reads more interestingly if you think about what is coming down the pick - we are not that long from the start of the great Depression. Of course it also makes an interesting contrast to what is currently going on.

Easily Refutable Lies

One of the big lies the right has been telling about the sad excuse for health care legislation we are getting is that it will require death panels; panels that will counsel old people to abandon medical care and die so as to save the system money. John Stossel, conservative columnist, points out how stupid this argument is.
. . . no bill in Congress mandates end-of-life counseling, much less "death panels." And there's a deeper problem. When opponents of nationalization make such easily refuted charges, supporters of nationalization gain the upper hand. All criticism is undermined. Neutral observers can easily conclude, "If the death-panel claim is false, why believe anything else the critics say?"

That would be a disaster.
Of course this debunking doesn't seem to have persuaded his readers.
The fact is the Obamacare dream promotes the shifting of healthcare from the elderly to the ficticious 47 million have-nots--thus death justice not.

The rest of the Obamacare dream has nothing to do with healthcare but the total control of everyones freedom of individual determination. The Obamacare dream is evil and must be defeated now before a revolution takes the lives of millions of Americans.
But then again a guy like that might not be capable of persuasion. And, for a counter point, over at Salon they have a quote from Farhad Manjoo on whether or not the President should bother debunking these rumors; Manjoo thinks Obama shouldn't waste his time.
I've got some simple advice for Obama: Shut up about the death panels already. Don't keep fighting this rumor. You've lost—and the more time you spend trying to make things better, the worse off you'll be.
He argues that he's not going to convince the people who believe in the death panels and that continuing to refute them will, in effect, spread the rumors.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Racial Strawmen

John Hawkins latest article is about how there is very little Racism in America anymore. He notes that the racial scares being brought up lately aren't really racist, but his pickings are pretty slim. He brings up people who said that comparing Obama to the Joker was racist (when in fact it is moronic (my analysis, not his)). He brought up Jeanine Garafalo's assertion that the Tea Party members were racists (several months out of date there, and of course he didn't note that some of the signs presented at these meetings were in fact racist). He notes that the word Socialist isn't Racist (which apparently someone said that it was (what he seems to have actually said was that some conservatives are attempting to give Socialist the same emotional resonance as the N-Word). And he brings up the recent health care debate, as one article noted that the poor and minorities (often the same people) will benefit more from nationalized health care than the wealthy and the white (often the same people).

You know what he doesn't bring up? The Birthers. Those people who believe that President Obama wasn't born in this country and is thus ineligible to be President. But I suppose that would run counter to his point; it's hard to paint racism as a liberal fantasy when you have actual racists out there.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Toward Fascist America

In the past I have dissented from the popular theory among some on the left that we are becoming a fascist nation; this was particularly popular in the days of Bush after some of the revelations came out. There was the much discussed 14 characteristics of Fascism by Dr. Lawrence Britt, as well as other concerns about the Bush civil liberties actions (or actions against civil liberties to be more accurate.

Well Sara Robinson has written a somewhat more persuasive article suggesting that we are on our way to fascism. She uses as her text an article by Robert Paxton which is, seriously, light years ahead of Britt. This isn't an article that comes to the conclusion and works backwards. This is a well written and reasonably well thought out argument that suggests that the Conservatives (particularly Limbaugh Conservatives) and Republican Politicians, having been thwarted in their ambitions by the rise of Obama, might unify in anger. She takes as evidence the Tea Parties and the current protests at Townhall meetings.
Unfortunately, all the noise and bluster actually obscures the danger. These people are as serious as a lynch mob, and have already taken the first steps toward becoming one. And they're going to walk taller and louder and prouder now that their bumbling efforts at civil disobedience are being committed with the full sanction and support of the country's most powerful people, who are cynically using them in a last-ditch effort to save their own places of profit and prestige.

We've arrived. We are now parked on the exact spot where our best experts tell us full-blown fascism is born. Every day that the conservatives in Congress, the right-wing talking heads, and their noisy minions are allowed to hold up our ability to govern the country is another day we're slowly creeping across the final line beyond which, history tells us, no country has ever been able to return.
Credit where credit is due, but I'm not convinced. First of all, how exactly are conservatives in Congress and right wing talking heads holding up our abilit to govern the country? By disagreeing with us? By refusing to vote with us? Or what? You can't really expect them to vote with us; they disagree with us.

Secondly you have to have an elite willing to step aside and/or ally with the popular fascist movement. So far we haven't seen that. It's possible that, having been humiliated in the last two elections, conservatives have come around to the idea that they have to dance with the ones what brung them. But that's not the history. Rather look at what they did after getting George W. Bush - the elites got what they wanted in about a New York Minute; the Limbaughs and the Evangelicals got crumbs. Are the Conservative Elites really that desperate this time around? I don't think so.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

News from the Past - August 9, 1929

This one is from the Mountain Democrat, out of Placerville California.
Boy, 4, Pounds Dog Biting
Sister With Rocks: Hero

Henry Pierroz, son of Mr. and Mrs. VicVic Pierroz, living west of Placerville, may be only 4 years old, but he's a hero, just the same.
If you doubt it, just listen to this:
Tuesday afternoon at their home, a dog bit Henry's sister, Jeanette, aged 8 years. The dog didn't just bite and run, he bit and hung on like a Baston bull at the seat of a tramp's pants.
Henry wasn't big enough to pull the dog away so he found a big rock and hammered the dog on the bead until he let go. Jeanette was not badly bitten.
I have to admit I don't get the idea of "hung on like a Baston bull." Don't bull's usually charge? I am guessing this is a phrase I don't fully understand.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

News From the Past - August 4, 1929

This is an interesting one, from the Lima Sunday News, Lima Ohio.

Six Russians Convicted of
Practicing Mystic Rites
That Kill Girl
Samara, U.S.S.R., Aug. 3 (AP) - Six monks have been sentenced to death for practicing mystic rites in which a poor girl named Neschadina was killed and with maintaining at Vavilova Doia, an anti-Soviet commune. Ten others were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.
In 1909 several monks went into the Samara Steppe and far from other human habitations dug several cells. The fame and alleged cures spread rapidly and many peasants walked to the monastery from distant villages to hear the peal of mysterious bells and to see the "flaming tongues of heaven" which were simply rockets.
Witnesses testified that a favorite form of cure with the monks was to stretch the patient across the threshold and lash him with rods to drive out the devil of disease. They were also accused of practicing vice under the guise of confession and counsel to young women.
One of those sentenced to death was said to have preached that "the present government emanates from the devil and the heavenly signs predict its hasty end. Believers should not heed its laws."
What's interesting is how they just repeat this news at face value, but, with historical perspective, I find myself wondering how evil these Monks really were. I mean this is the beginning of Stalins reign, when he was pretty well clamping down. So it's entirely possible that these monks were not quite as horrible as they are portrayed here.

Still you can't entirely blame the Lima Sunday News here; I don't think many in the west had much of an idea of what Stalin was all about.

Burt Prelutsky, Humorist

I need to accentuate that Prelutsky is a humorist, because reading his actual work, it's easy to forget that simple fact. His latest article is his normal grab bag of "humor" but he does include this bit right in the middle.
When it comes to our national security, keeping the likes of Barbara Boxer, Barney Frank and John Kerry in the loop would be the height of insanity. The only loop appropriate for most of the ninnies in Congress is one hanging from the branch of a very tall tree.

So far as I can tell, the only real difference between members of Congress and cockroaches is that one of the two species has a few more legs than the other.
Ha Ha Ha Ha! Isn't that funny? Most of our ninnies in Congress should be hung! Ha ha ha ha! Almost like a lynching. It's hilarious! And then comparing them to Cockroaches? Ha ha ha ha! Genius! I mean if they are cockroaches, why bother even lynching them? We could just like get some Raid or some other poison gas.

Wait a second, that isn't funny. It's that other thing . . . mentally disturbed.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Answering a Question

Reading Star Parker's latest article about the "Beer Summit." Fortunately she doesn't excuse the behavior of the police officer involved, nor does she pander to her audience's racial hangups. Rather she asks a rather pointed question.
So why do blacks, who have more personal experience than any other group in this nation with abuses of such power, consistently support expanding it?

Why is Professor Gates freaked out by the policeman standing on his porch but not by the intrusive expansion of government into his life and the lives of every other American, white or black?
Well I think it probably has to do with the difference between local and federal power. Local power has tended to be much less fair towards African Americans and other "minorities." If it were not for Federal power there would have been no Civil Rights acts, and segregation and even slavery would have taken a lot longer to go away. I know southerners are fond of pretending otherwise; but the evidence is that they were willing to fight like hell to preserve both segregation and slavery. And who was standing up for the rights of black people (whatever other motivations it might have had)? Well in large part it was the Federal government.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

News from the Past - August 1, 1929

I'm not sure this counts as news; more aphorisms from the past. These are from the Blockton News, Blockton, Iowa.
We don't pursue, happiness, so much as we do comfort.

No book about nature Is too long, for a nature-lover.

If you don't want pies eaten with a spoon, don't make that kind.

Don't say "no" to children unless there is imminence of breaking an arm.

A man, generally speaking, will not tell all about his past, unless he's teased.

Who would think of employing absolute candor toward one he felt a deep affection for?

If one never talked "baby talk" to a baby, would the baby speak plainer English at the age of three?
Oh well, I guess you need to fill up the paper somehow.

Oh and I'm guessing you can say no to a child if there is imminence of breaking a leg as well.