Monday, September 28, 2009

Boy, Oh, Boy - Maureen Dowd's take on Joe Klein's sad outburst and the GOP

Boy, Oh, Boy
by Maureen Dowd, Op-Ed Columnist
New York Times
Published: September 12, 2009

this is from a couple of weeks ago, but it's a good take; meant to post it then; ah well. - sj

The normally nonchalant Barack Obama looked nonplussed, as Nancy Pelosi glowered behind.

Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.

But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!

The outburst was unexpected from a milquetoast Republican backbencher from South Carolina who had attracted little media attention. Now it has made him an overnight right-wing hero, inspiring “You lie!” bumper stickers and T-shirts.

The congressman, we learned, belonged to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, led a 2000 campaign to keep the Confederate flag waving above South Carolina’s state Capitol and denounced as a “smear” the true claim of a black woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond, the ’48 segregationist candidate for president. Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber.

I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.

I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids — from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.

But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.

read the rest here

Friday, September 25, 2009

Why Americans Hate Democrats - The Unteachable Ignorance of the Red States

This is one of my absolute, all-time, favorite articles/analyses. It was originally written/posted the day after the 2004 election. There are lots of links and related dialogues to click on, written by well-known and excellent writers, that I highly recommend clicking on as well. Succinct and right to the point. - sj

Why Americans Hate Democrats - A Dialogue
The unteachable ignorance of the red states.
By Jane Smiley - Slate

The day after the election, Slate's political writers tackled the question of why the Democratic Party—which has now lost five of the past seven presidential elections and solidified its minority status in Congress—keeps losing elections. Chris Suellentrop says that John Kerry was too nuanced and technocratic, while George W. Bush offered a vision of expanding freedom around the world. William Saletan argues that Democratic candidates won't win until they again cast their policies the way Bill Clinton did, in terms of values and moral responsibility. Timothy Noah contends that none of the familiar advice to the party—move right, move left, or sit tight—seems likely to help. Slate asked a number of wise liberals to take up the question of why Americans won't vote for the Democrats. Click here to read previous entries.

I say forget introspection. It's time to be honest about our antagonists. My predecessors in this conversation are thoughtful men, and I honor their ideas, but let's try something else. I grew up in Missouri and most of my family voted for Bush,* so I am going to be the one to say it: The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry. I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not. (Well, almost 58 million—my relatives are not ignorant, they are just greedy and full of classic Republican feelings of superiority.)

Ignorance and bloodlust have a long tradition in the United States, especially in the red states. There used to be a kind of hand-to-hand fight on the frontier called a "knock-down-drag-out," where any kind of gouging, biting, or maiming was considered fair. The ancestors of today's red-state voters used to stand around cheering and betting on these fights. When the forces of red and blue encountered one another head-on for the first time in Kansas Territory in 1856, the red forces from Missouri, who had been coveting Indian land across the Missouri River since 1820, entered Kansas and stole the territorial election. The red news media of the day made a practice of inflammatory lying—declaring that the blue folks had shot and killed red folks whom everyone knew were walking around. The worst civilian massacre in American history took place in Lawrence, Kan., in 1863—Quantrill's raid. The red forces, known then as the slave-power, pulled between 150 and 200 unarmed men

click here for rest of article and original story

Thursday, September 24, 2009

morning thoughts...

1) sampled some of the new Alice in Chains. Folks, it sounds like Layne Staley has risen from the grave to sing on the new record. new singer's name is William DuVall. He's toured w/ them in his own band, and also sung w/ them the last few years on some reunion shows. Plays guitar as well. Great voice. If you liked AIC, you'll like the new stuff too.
2)Tired of Philly peeps crying over closer, Brad Lidge's shortcomings this season (last season he perfect). For one, we don't have anyone else. Secondly, a great cure would be if the offense scored more runs!
3) Michael Ian Black on tour, w/ fellow 'stater,' Michael Showalter; playing rock and roll joints/smaller venues it appears. I am stoked!
4) the new iPhone Starbucks app is great, if you're a road tripper or travel a lot: gives you updated locations anywhere. Haters, piss off - dissing starbucks is Sooooo 2004.
5) Nader (new book out), don't go away mad; just go away...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bill O'Reilly down w/ a government option for healthcare insurance?

something you want to say? pissed off? a short story? a review? a project of sorts you'd like to try on line?

peoples, if there is anyone out there who visits this blog occasionally, likes our topics (don't have to agree w/ any!), finds any of it interesting, and would like to contribute: please do! we need more input, more original content, rants, takes, pieces, opinions, stabs, creative writing, commenting on/posting select news items, goings-on around the world, charity awareness, info on movements, dreams, stories, beer reviews, music/movie reviews, food reviews, anything, and everything that this blog is: enlightening, informative, opinionated, educational, fun/funny, and more!

have a short story? post it here! have some thoughts or a long-winded take on something that you just can't post on facebook? let me know, and we'll get it posted here! I need some more and varied input and original content on here. If you're up for a daily post, or want to try something for a week or month straight, let me know, we can make it happen. a video blog, a podcast, whatever! if you have your own blog and want me to link it from here, I'm happy to. let me know! contact me here for any questions or responses:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

new poll: 35% of NJ conservatives think Obama might be anti-christ (NOT an Onion/sarcastic piece)!

Current practicing church-going Christian and co-founder of the religious right, himself, Frank Schaeffer, attempts to break down why so many of our fellow countrymen and women are just plain morons. - sj

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

brief thoughts/stuff... this record review (from a local Philly weekly, mid-90's, by Joey Sweeney) is one of my all-time favorites. It's right up there with Spinal Tap's "Shark Sandwich" review. Joey Sweeney now runs a nice blog called Philebrity. Check it out Yo!...

...Love this quote, from a facebook friend's profile page: "In times of war, you often hear leaders - Christian, Jewish, and Muslim - saying 'God is on our side.' But that isn't true. In war, God is on the side of refugees, widows, and orphans." - Greg Mortenson... was Mischa Barton up to this past summer? Cheesus Christmas! Here's a quote from the article I got this from: "'It's kind of silly now to be talking about it because I'm so fine now, but it was just a really bad time for me. It was sort of one of those things. It was like a perfect storm - everything happened at once. I was overwhelmed, I had too much work going on, I had surgery for my wisdom teeth that went really badly. I had two surgeries - I had four [teeth] taken out and it had gone really badly wrong - they had to drill into my jaw and I was just in excruciating pain. I was having Novocaine shots every day to minimise the pain. It really was rock bottom." - I'll say! But glad to see she's back to normal now! or as she stated: 'I'm so fine now'

Sunday, September 13, 2009

some Birds predictions for the 2009 season...

some quick predictions/observations, for the record:

-Eagles will lose today to Panthers, and next week to Saints; but then they'll whip off 4 wins in a row (playing some scrub teams).
-Eagles will go 10 & 6 this year, at the most. another 9-win season would not surprise me.
-They may squeak in as a wild card (like last year), but will exit playoffs in first or second round.
-Giants will win the division.
-Birds will go 3 & 3 vs. Division.
-Not sure where Cowpatties will end up; I'm guessing 10 & 6 also.
-Reid will continue to undervalue the running game and not run as much as he should, like he has his previous 10 years here.
-it's a toss-up whether Reid will employ Vick to the best of his ability and in the best way to help help the team win. If he does, Vick will help us win. Coaches like Belicheck and Jeff Fisher would use Vick to return kicks/punts (occasionally), in the WR positon, RB, out there w/ McNabb, etc. You get the point. Not sure Reid's creative/smart enough to do this.
-Reid will return next year (and McNabb as well most likely), after another disappointing Eagles season.
-Reid's legacy remains: 1 win and 4 losses in conference championship games.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Most of you know I'm a teacher in a public high school. Social Studies, English, but mostly Social Studies. Having a president speak to students via television is nothing new (Reagan, GHW Bush and Clinton all did, and we all know GW Bush was in an elementary school when 9-11 happened). What is new is having misinformed mouthbreathers object to the president addressing students. So my colleagues and I received the following from our superintendent on Friday. The Glenn Beck, et. al. Brigades have been using their cellphones apparently:

Dear Teachers,

In case you haven’t heard, President Obama intends to address the children on Tuesday, September 8th at noon. As a district we will not be airing President Obama's speech or utilizing the supporting documents for the speech. I believe his intentions are appropriate but we will let the political controversy to be handled by the parents. Furthermore, with Sept. 8th being the first day of classes it will make doing a public airing impossible.

While we respect the position of President, as a public school, we also must respect the rights of a parent to make decisions for their children when it comes to politics. We have been inundated with calls and emails by many parents both in favor and against the speech being broadcast live to students. In order to minimize any controversy and the potential disruption of the educational process, I have decided to leave it to parents to discuss or watch the speech with their children on their own time.

Our job is to teach children to think critically and think for themselves. Being in the midst of political controversy is not our intent as we begin the year.

Thank you for your understanding.



You no doubt can see the irony in the last statement. My boss isn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier to begin with, and "inundated" by calls probably means two or three. That's the way he operates. One tiny lick of a controversy and he's digging a foxhole and putting on kevlar. Jeebus, could somebody put us out of Glenn Beck's misery, please?

Districts near mine are having all students watch the speech. Parents were, of course, given the ability to "opt out", which is fine, as there never was a mandate from the Dept. of Ed. or the White House for all schools to watch (basically, they don't have the authority to do that). The default position is for all students to view the speech, but that is determined by individual districts, not the government. Yet more evidence that Faux News and their ilk have little regard for facts.

So my buddy at school who teaches AP Government says: "I wasn't going to watch it, but I sure as hell will now. What are they gonna do, send me a nasty email?" And he's a Republican. Nothing like being a Social Studies teacher and being told you can't teach your subject.

Love my frakking job!



Friday, September 4, 2009

Using only Glenn Beck's own words, Glenn beck lies.

This is great folks. Even Glenn Becks followers MUST take pause after watching this. Seriously. You owe it to yourselves to stop listening to anything this birth damn fool ever says (cumbersome vid: give it a chance to buffer; totally worth it) - sj
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Glenn Beck's Operation
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Thursday, September 3, 2009

5 Myths About Health Care Around the World

Hi All, this is a fantastically informative piece, and I promise you, you will learn something. I decided to post the whole thing here (click on headline above, for original article); I know it seems long on this blog format, but it's not. Prolly take you less than 10 minutes to read it. I didn't even want to take the chance that some click on link to get rest of story (if I only posted a part of it) and got a broken link or couldn't get to whole article. - sj

the Washington Post
By T.R. Reid
August 23rd, 2009

As Americans search for the cure to what ails our health-care system, we've overlooked an invaluable source of ideas and solutions: the rest of the world. All the other industrialized democracies have faced problems like ours, yet they've found ways to cover everybody -- and still spend far less than we do.

I've traveled the world from Oslo to Osaka to see how other developed democracies provide health care. Instead of dismissing these models as "socialist," we could adapt their solutions to fix our problems. To do that, we first have to dispel a few myths about health care abroad:

1. It's all socialized medicine out there.

Not so. 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.

In some ways, health care is less "socialized" overseas than in the United States. Almost all Americans sign up for government insurance (Medicare) at age 65. In Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, seniors stick with private insurance plans for life. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the planet's purest examples of government-run health care.

2. Overseas, care is rationed through limited choices or long lines.

Generally, no. Germans can sign up for any of the nation's 200 private health insurance plans -- a broader choice than any American has. If a German doesn't like her insurance company, she can switch to another, with no increase in premium. The Swiss, too, can choose any insurance plan in the country.

In France and Japan, you don't get a choice of insurance provider; you have to use the one designated for your company or your industry. But patients can go to any doctor, any hospital, any traditional healer. There are no U.S.-style limits such as "in-network" lists of doctors or "pre-authorization" for surgery. You pick any doctor, you get treatment -- and insurance has to pay.

Canadians have their choice of providers. In Austria and Germany, if a doctor diagnoses a person as "stressed," medical insurance pays for weekends at a health spa.

As for those notorious waiting lists, some countries are indeed plagued by them. Canada makes patients wait weeks or months for nonemergency care, as a way to keep costs down. But studies by the Commonwealth Fund and others report that many nations -- Germany, Britain, Austria -- outperform the United States on measures such as waiting times for appointments and for elective surgeries.

In Japan, waiting times are so short that most patients don't bother to make an appointment. One Thursday morning in Tokyo, I called the prestigious orthopedic clinic at Keio University Hospital to schedule a consultation about my aching shoulder. "Why don't you just drop by?" the receptionist said. That same afternoon, I was in the surgeon's office. Dr. Nakamichi recommended an operation. "When could we do it?" I asked. The doctor checked his computer and said, "Tomorrow would be pretty difficult. Perhaps some day next week?"

3. Foreign health-care systems are inefficient, bloated bureaucracies.

Much less so than here. It may seem to Americans that U.S.-style free enterprise -- private-sector, for-profit health insurance -- is naturally the most cost-effective way to pay for health care. But in fact, all the other payment systems are more efficient than ours.

U.S. health insurance companies have the highest administrative costs in the world; they spend roughly 20 cents of every dollar for nonmedical costs, such as paperwork, reviewing claims and marketing. France's health insurance industry, in contrast, covers everybody and spends about 4 percent on administration. Canada's universal insurance system, run by government bureaucrats, spends 6 percent on administration. In Taiwan, a leaner version of the Canadian model has administrative costs of 1.5 percent; one year, this figure ballooned to 2 percent, and the opposition parties savaged the government for wasting money.

The world champion at controlling medical costs is Japan, even though its aging population is a profligate consumer of medical care. On average, the Japanese go to the doctor 15 times a year, three times the U.S. rate. They have twice as many MRI scans and X-rays. Quality is high; life expectancy and recovery rates for major diseases are better than in the United States. And yet Japan spends about $3,400 per person annually on health care; the United States spends more than $7,000.

4. Cost controls stifle innovation.

False. The United States is home to groundbreaking medical research, but so are other countries with much lower cost structures. Any American who's had a hip or knee replacement is standing on French innovation. Deep-brain stimulation to treat depression is a Canadian breakthrough. Many of the wonder drugs promoted endlessly on American television, including Viagra, come from British, Swiss or Japanese labs.

Overseas, strict cost controls actually drive innovation. In the United States, an MRI scan of the neck region costs about $1,500. In Japan, the identical scan costs $98. Under the pressure of cost controls, Japanese researchers found ways to perform the same diagnostic technique for one-fifteenth the American price. (And Japanese labs still make a profit.)

5. Health insurance has to be cruel.

Not really. American health insurance companies routinely reject applicants with a "preexisting condition" -- precisely the people most likely to need the insurers' service. They employ armies of adjusters to deny claims. If a customer is hit by a truck and faces big medical bills, the insurer's "rescission department" digs through the records looking for grounds to cancel the policy, often while the victim is still in the hospital. The companies say they have to do this stuff to survive in a tough business.

Foreign health insurance companies, in contrast, must accept all applicants, and they can't cancel as long as you pay your premiums. The plans are required to pay any claim submitted by a doctor or hospital (or health spa), usually within tight time limits. The big Swiss insurer Groupe Mutuel promises to pay all claims within five days. "Our customers love it," the group's chief executive told me. The corollary is that everyone is mandated to buy insurance, to give the plans an adequate pool of rate-payers.

The key difference is that foreign health insurance plans exist only to pay people's medical bills, not to make a profit. The United States is the only developed country that lets insurance companies profit from basic health coverage.

In many ways, foreign health-care models are not really "foreign" to America, because our crazy-quilt health-care system uses elements of all of them. For Native Americans or veterans, we're Britain: The government provides health care, funding it through general taxes, and patients get no bills. For people who get insurance through their jobs, we're Germany: Premiums are split between workers and employers, and private insurance plans pay private doctors and hospitals. For people over 65, we're Canada: Everyone pays premiums for an insurance plan run by the government, and the public plan pays private doctors and hospitals according to a set fee schedule. And for the tens of millions without insurance coverage, we're Burundi or Burma: In the world's poor nations, sick people pay out of pocket for medical care; those who can't pay stay sick or die.

This fragmentation is another reason that we spend more than anybody else and still leave millions without coverage. All the other developed countries have settled on one model for health-care delivery and finance; we've blended them all into a costly, confusing bureaucratic mess.

Which, in turn, punctures the most persistent myth of all: that America has "the finest health care" in the world. We don't. In terms of results, almost all advanced countries have better national health statistics than the United States does. In terms of finance, we force 700,000 Americans into bankruptcy each year because of medical bills. In France, the number of medical bankruptcies is zero. Britain: zero. Japan: zero. Germany: zero.

Given our remarkable medical assets -- the best-educated doctors and nurses, the most advanced hospitals, world-class research -- the United States could be, and should be, the best in the world. To get there, though, we have to be willing to learn some lessons about health-care administration from the other industrialized democracies.

T.R. Reid, a former Washington Post reporter, is the author of "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care," to be published Monday.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What's not to like about health-care the way it is? Everything is just fine!

What's Not to Like?
Reform? Why do we need health-care reform? Everything is just fine the way it is.
by Jonathan Alter
Jul 31, 2009

Go ahead, shoot me. I like the status quo on health care in the United States. I've got health insurance and I don't give a damn about the 47 million suckers who don't. Obama and Congress must be stopped. No bill! I'm better off the way things are.

I'm with that woman who wrote the president complaining about "socialized medicine" and added: "Now keep your hands off my Medicare." That's the spirit!

Why should I be entitled to the same insurance that members of Congress get? Blue Dogs need a lot of medical attention to treat their blueness. I'm just a regular guy and definitely deserve less.

I had cancer a few years ago. I like the fact that if I lose my job, I won't be able to get any insurance because of my illness. It reminds me of my homeowners' insurance, which gets canceled after a break-in. I like the choice I'd face if, God forbid, the cancer recurs—sell my house to pay for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in treatment, or die. That's what you call a "post-existing condition."

click here for whole piece.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

AFL-CIO: Gov't option an absolute must...Or else.

As a union household, we say, ABOUT TIME somebody slapped some sense into the "blue dogs" (aka: wussie footlickers).

AFL-CIO: Gov't option an absolute must - Carrie Budoff Brown -

Shared via AddThis

Support Gay Marriage: buy Ben & Jerry's Hubby Hubby ice cream!

"Weee--HAHH!!! DO you love it?!?!" The Ben & Jerry's co-founders and their company seriously rule. - sj

Who would have thought ice cream and fashion would be anything more than an oxymoron? But now here’s some caloric indulgence worth undertaking: Ben & Jerry’s is releasing a new ice cream flavor in support of gay marriage. Cheekily called “Hubby Hubby,” the carton features the Vermont company’s signature cartoons this time with a wedding cake and rainbows. Plus, the peanut-butter filled pretzels and vanilla malt ice cream is just the perfect mix of salty and sweet.