"The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." Orwell
"“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Plato
"The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant" Robespierre
Sunday, February 28, 2010
The Face Of Evil
Saturday, February 27, 2010
My support for a single-payer system of health care has been made clear. On the other hand, as I've also said, strongly, I have no illusions about the potential for running good doctors out of the business, since, so far, the only major cuts in health care costs have come via lowering reimbursement to doctors and hospitals. The dangers of continuing that process are obvious, and are taking place already. To some extent, I'm an example, as I had to work harder and harder -- to the point of irreversible burnout -- to maintain income. Beyond the financial there was both a physical and psychological toll: at no point was there recognition of the superior care I was delivering -- it simply didn't matter. Each year, reimbursement declined irrespective of my results, my costs, my efforts. (Trust me on the "superior care" claim. Or if not, believe there are docs doing a better job than others, with nothing to show for it.)
"...Last night, the Senate failed to pass a series of extensions that included a temporary halt to the 21.2 percent cut in Medicare physician payments. As a result, the cut will go into effect on Monday, March 1st. Earlier yesterday, the House successfully passed the extensions package by voice vote that would have maintained the current conversion factor of $36.0666 through March 28th. However, with Congress currently adjourned, the Senate will have to again attempt to pass an extensions package sometime next week. The length of the temporary extension is unclear at this point, but we do expect it to provide only short-term relief from the 21.2 percent cut and be retroactive to March 1st..."
Friday, February 26, 2010
Warning: Facts Below
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I watched the first hour or so of the "health care summit." I stopped, partly, because I early came to the conclusion that it'd be a battle of talking points, and, partly, because I went to see "Avatar" in IMAX 3-D. A much cooler experience.
Difficile est saturam non scribere
Stupid? Crazy? Drunk on venom? All three, I think.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Religion And Morality
One of the most commonly heard and, in my view, most easily dismissed claims from the religious is that without (most especially but not necessarily exclusively) the Bible, there is no basis for good behavior. My response has always been that humans have empathy. They know what things make them feel bad or do them harm, and it's easy therefore to know the same about behavior toward others. Not to mention that from an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense to have developed the tendency to band together for the common good. (Would that right-wingers hadn't devolved so, recently.) Good and bad are not concepts exclusive to religion.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Sleepless Within A Reasonable Commuting Distance From Seattle
Important questions keep me awake at night. Here's one:
This "tweet" (and, no, I'm not into twitter [although I do have an account]) may be all that needs to be said about US politics at this moment in time:
Roger Ebert twitter last week:
"Q. How come Bush got people to believe lies but Obama can't get them to believe truth?"
"A. Those are the same people."
Monday, February 22, 2010
How They Do It
Warning to the readers of this blog who like to ingest propaganda but prefer not to digest facts. This post is mainly a link to a knowledgeable and fact-filled article. And it's about a subject more easily lied about than subjected to truth. Perfect, in other words, for Fox "news" and the RWS™.
I didn't think it was possible, but former Bush officials -- desperately fighting what they know will be their legacy as war criminals -- have become even more dishonest propagandists out of office than they were in office. At National Review, Bill Burck and Dana Perino so thoroughly mislead their readers about the DOJ report -- rejecting the findings of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) of ethical misconduct against John Yoo and Jay Bybee -- that it's hard to know where to begin.
He goes on:
Perhaps the most deceitful claim is this one:
So, in one corner we have a legal all-star team of Mukasey, Filip, Estrada, Mahoney, Goldsmith [all right-wing Bush lawyers], and Margolis. In the other corner, we have OPR operating far outside its comfort zone and area of expertise. This shouldn’t have been close -- and it wasn’t, on the merits.
Compare that to what Margolis actually said (p. 67):
For all of the above reasons, I am not prepared to conclude that the circumstantial evidence much of which is contradicted by the witness testimony regarding Yoo's efforts establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that Yoo intentionally or recklessly provided misleading advice to his client. It is a close question. I would be remiss in not observing, however, that these memoranda represent an unfortunate chapter in the history of the Office of Legal Counsel. While I have declined to adopt OPR's finding of misconduct, I fear that John Yoo's loyalty to his own ideology and convictions clouded his view of his obligation to his client and led him to adopt opinions that reflected his own extreme, albeit sincerely held, views of executive power while speaking for an institutional client.
Just think about that for a minute. Margolis said that whether Yoo "intentionally or recklessly provided misleading advice to his client" when authorizing torture -- about the most serious accusation one can make against a lawyer, as it means he deliberately made false statements about the law -- "is a close question." That's the precise opposite of what Burck and Perino told National Review readers about Margolis' conclusion ("This shouldn’t have been close — and it wasn't, on the merits").
And I liked this doozy:
As Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin so clearly explained, the only thing that saved Yoo in Margolis' eyes was that attorney ethical rules have been written by lawyers to protect themselves, and the bar is therefore so low that it basically includes only "sociopaths and people driven to theft and egregious incompetence by serious drug and alcohol abuse problems." As a result, Margolis could not ultimately conclude that Yoo -- as shoddy and misleading as his torture authorizations were -- purposely lied because Yoo "was an ideologue who entered government service with a warped vision of the world in which he sincerely believed." Does that remotely sound like exoneration?
There's more. And it's most definitely worth a read.
[P.S.: sorry for the font size menage. Correcting the HTML after all that copying, pasting, and blockquoting was too much for me.]
These guys are smarter than me, and possibly even better known. And yet, they seem to have been reading this blog. Says Tom Friedman:
To be sure, taking over the presidency at the dawn of the lean years is no easy task. The president needs to persuade the country to invest in the future and pay for the past — past profligacy — all at the same time. We have to pay for more new schools and infrastructure than ever, while accepting more entitlement cuts than ever, when public trust in government is lower than ever.
On top of that, the Republican Party has never been more irresponsible. Having helped run the deficit to new heights during the recent Bush years, the G.O.P. is now unwilling to take any responsibility for dealing with it if it involves raising taxes. At the same time, the rise of cable TV has transformed politics in our country generally into just another spectator sport, like all-star wrestling. C-Span is just ESPN with only two teams. We watch it for entertainment, not solutions.
While it would certainly help if the president voiced a more compelling narrative, I am under no illusion that this alone would solve all his problems and ours. It comes back to us: We have to demand the truth from our politicians and be ready to accept it ourselves. We simply do not have another presidency to waste. There are no more fat years to eat through. If Obama fails, we all fail [Emphasis mine].
Says Evan Bayh:
Of course, the genesis of a good portion of the gridlock in Congress does not reside in Congress itself. Ultimate reform will require each of us, as voters and Americans, to take a long look in the mirror, because in many ways, our representatives in Washington reflect the people who have sent them there.
The most ideologically devoted elements in both parties must accept that not every compromise is a sign of betrayal or an indication of moral lassitude. When too many of our citizens take an all-or-nothing approach, we should not be surprised when nothing is the result.
Our most strident partisans must learn to occasionally sacrifice short-term tactical political advantage for the sake of the nation. Otherwise, Congress will remain stuck in an endless cycle of recrimination and revenge. The minority seeks to frustrate the majority, and when the majority is displaced it returns the favor. Power is constantly sought through the use of means which render its effective use, once acquired, impossible.
What is required from members of Congress and the public alike is a new spirit of devotion to the national welfare beyond party or self-interest. In a time of national peril, with our problems compounding, we must remember that more unites us as Americans than divides us.[Emphasis mine.]
To listen to talk radio, to watch TV pundits, to read a newspaper's online message board, is to realize that increasingly, we are a people estranged from critical thinking, divorced from logic, alienated from even objective truth. We admit no ideas that do not confirm us, hear no voices that do not echo us, sift out all information that does not validate what we wish to believe. [Emphasis mine.]
I submit that any people thus handicapped sow the seeds of their own decline; they respond to the world as they wish it were rather to the world as it is. That's the story of the Iraq war.
But objective reality does not change because you refuse to accept it. The fact that you refuse to acknowledge a wall does not change the fact that it's a wall.
And you shouldn't have to hit it to find that out.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Okay, it's time to see the world as the right wing sees it: this guy is truly disgusting. See how soft he is on terror, making all sorts of bleeding heart claims about torture. He wants to close Guantanamo. He even -- this could be worst of all -- pronounces "Pakistan" in that elitist America-hating way that our president does.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Sad Story, Sad Ending
Anyone catch the much-hyped story of the man in a coma for 23 years, found to be able to communicate? Anyone, like me, find it hard to believe, especially when the communication was "facilitated?"
Friday, February 19, 2010
Republican hatred of President Obama is so great that now they're criticizing him for killing terrorists. These guys have no shame at all, no capability of being embarrassed at the extent to which they'll contradict themselves in the blink of an eye to score some sort of hit, no matter how crazy.
Guy hates government, is pissed at the IRS, goes on a suicide mission, killing and maiming others on the way. Not terrorism. Not in any way related to the pollution effluxing hourly from Fox "news" and other RWS™. (In fact, to the extreme right wing, he's a hero.)
It's the best news I've heard in a long time. Dick Cheney, who, as far as I can tell, has never been right about anything -- at least not when he was our de-facto leader -- has declared that Barack Obama will be a one-term president.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Here's what Rush Limbaugh had to say about President Obama touting the results of the stimulus money:
"I know we're not supposed to talk about Adolf Hitler but this administration is making it really, really tough to ignore some facts out there. ... [T]he "Big Lie" was an expression coined by Hitler. And the "Big Lie" is exactly what all of liberalism is. ... This is how the OSS described Hitler's psychology: "His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or a wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong..."If there's a more perfect example of what he and all of the RWS™ and their apologists are about, I can't imagine what it might be. I mean, really, is there a better description of EXACTLY what Rush, Glenn, Sean, Bill, Ann, Laura, Michael, Dick, Dick, Michelle, Sarah, Newt, John, Mitch, do every day?
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I's On The Prize
I'm waiting for a certain commenter to get around to complaining about the number of times President Obama uses the word "I" in his speeches. To save a little time, I'd like that commenter to read this before doing so. And then, once again, to defend Fox "News."
Busting The Busted Buster
... I'm going to reintroduce that again in January. And people are going to say I only worry about this because I'm in the majority. But I come with clean hands! I started when I was in the minority!
The idea is to give some time for extended debate but eventually allow a majority to work its will. I do believe there's some reason to have extended debate. If a group of senators filibusters a bill, you want to take their worries seriously. Make sure you're not missing something. My proposal will do that. It says that on the first vote, you need 60. Then you have to wait two days, and on the third day, you need 57 votes. And then you need to wait two days, and on the third day, it's 54 votes. And then you'd wait another two days, and on the third day, it would be 51 votes.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Stupid On Display
So the "reporters" at Fox "News" have decided that snow in the East Coast disproves global warming. In a scoop of epic proportions (in the same way a shovel of horse crap is a scoop), they stuck a copy of Al Gore's book in the snow. Nothing like graphics to prove a point.
Friday, February 12, 2010
This article makes an excellent -- if obvious -- point. Here's a portion:
What if, in 2006, at Yearly Kos, the first annual convention of liberal bloggers and their readers, organizers shelled out $100,000 for former Vice President Al Gore to address attendees? And what if the same organizers booked as an opening-night speaker a fringe, radical-left conspiracy theorist who'd spent the previous year pushing the thoroughly debunked claim that some Bush White administration insiders played a role in, and even planned, the 9-11 attacks. What if the speaker (also proudly anti-Semitic) received a standing ovation from the liberal Yearly Kos crowd?
Given that backdrop, and given the fact that the 9-11 Truther nut had for weeks bragged about his chance to share the stage with Gore, do you think the press would have demanded that Gore justify his association with a hateful conference that embraced a 9-11 Truther? Do you think pundits would have universally mocked and ridiculed Gore's judgment while condemning the Yearly Kos convention as being a hothouse of left-wing hate? Do you think Gore's appearance would have become a thing?
(In case you don't feel like reading the linked article, its point is the ways in which the media failed to cover the recent Tea Party Convention.)
Thursday, February 11, 2010
It's taken almost two-and-a-half centuries, but it's clear that our form of democracy doesn't work. It did. But now it doesn't.
There are certain ironies: clearly, the writers of the Constitution didn't trust people all that much. They eschewed direct governance, and they established an elaborate system of checks and balances; they saw to it that rash decisions would be hard to make, that changes to the Constitution would be difficult, but possible. And yet, fundamentally, they made some optimistic judgements that have proved to be preposterously unrealistic. They counted, it seems, on a basic level of intelligence and education among the electorate and on the idea that those elected to govern would share at least a modicum of deference to the common weal. I can only assume that, back then, there was reason to believe it.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Truth Be Told
What she said. What I've said. 'Nuff said.
Guess How They Voted
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
High on the list of hypocritical Republican and RWS™ dudgeon is the idea that, in trying KSM in civilian courts, Barack Hussein Obama is showing his weakness on terror. Weak on terror. Doesn't get it. Sending the wrong message. Whatever.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) insisted, flat out, that the number wasn't true. "If there were [300 convictions]," he said, "we would have heard about them." Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) called the claim "unsubstantiated" and demanded to know where it came from. Former Bush press secretary Dana Perino was even blunter, deeming Holder's assertion baffling. "The 300 number is as false as false gets," she declared.
Score another one for laparoscopic gallbladder surgery.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Some headlines today:
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Those there are that argue -- even here -- that Tea Partiers are just mainstream people of wonderfulness. Not crazy. Not even. Not filled with conspiracy theories or Beckofoxian lies and paranoia. Not them.
"If you ever hear the term smart growth, run away. Because the idea is they don't like us living in the suburbs. They don't like us owning land. They want us all in urban areas on mass transit. They want to take away your car. This is really happening. Global warming is the theme that runs through all of this. They say, we need to shrink our environmental footprint so the government can own everything. ... President Obama is not a U.S. socialist. He's an international socialist. He envisions one world government. That's what his whole plan is." [emphasis, with puking, mine.]Evidence? Can anyone point to a single thing, any ioteri of facts to support the claim? This is lunatic paranoia in its most pure form. The convention, it seems, is full of it. [Both implications intended.] Fox "News" must be in a constant state of warning #3 in those ED commercials.
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