[click image to enlarge. A little.]
"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
Friday, December 30, 2011
More To Contemplate
[click image to enlarge. A little.]
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Interesting To Contemplate...
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Even in the bizarro world of current Republican politics, some things defy explanation. How is it, in particular, that Congressional Rs, especially (but not only) those in the House of Representatives, so blatantly line up against the middle class (offering phony explanations)? It's not the only time they've been so unabashed in their crass defense of tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of providing for the needs of everyone else.
Some absolute partisans might take exception, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, to #6. The others, though, in all seriousness, must be part of it. It's like I've been saying for years: a dumbed-down electorate, fed misinformation constantly by the right-wing scream machine, lied to until it sounds like truth, whose hatreds and paranoia are played like a harp (what more self-pitying group is there than teabaggers?), are perfectly created to accept and/or ignore whatever their manipulators do.
1. Republican lawmakers assume voters aren’t paying any attention. Politicians can get away with quite a bit if they think the public won’t know either way.
2. They assume Democrats, when faced with any pressure at all, will invariably surrender and give Republicans whatever they demand. That’s generally not a bad strategy, but it failed miserably in the fight over the payroll tax cut.
3. They assume the media will, under all possible circumstances, continue to tell the public “both sides” are always to blame for everything. This, too, is a pretty safe bet, but when even Republican media outlets turn against the GOP (take the Wall Street Journal editorial page, for example), this starts to fail.
4. They fear primary challengers. Under this model, Republicans know their extremism will offend the American mainstream, but if they’re defeated by even-more-conservative primary opponents, their careers are over anyway.
5. They figure major right-wing money — from the Koch Brothers, Crossroads GPS, assorted Super PACs, etc. — will come in before the election, destroy their Democratic challengers, and keep them in office no matter what they vote for.
6. They're just nuts.
Monday, December 26, 2011
A Season For Remembering
Americans forgot by whom and by what policies our economy came crashing around us within mere months of the catastrophe. So it's worth remembering, for however long it's possible, what the typical R reaction was to Obama's plans for bailing out the auto industry, as American carmakers are having their greatest successes in years:
Rep. John Boehner (R-OH): “Does anyone really believe that politicians and bureaucrats in Washington can successfully steer a multi-national corporation to economic viability?” [6/1/09]
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL): “It’s basically going to be a government-owned, government-run company. …It’s the road toward socialism.” [5/29/09]
RNC Chairman Michael Steele: “No matter how much the President spins GM’s bankruptcy as good for the economy, it is nothing more than another government grab of a private company and another handout to the union cronies who helped bankroll his presidential campaign.” [6/1/2009]
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC): “Now the government has forced taxpayers to buy these failing companies without any plausible plan for profitability. Does anyone think the same government that plans to double the national debt in five years will turn GM around in the same time?” [6/2/09]
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA): “Unfortunately, this is just another sad chapter in President Obama’s eager campaign to interject his administration in the private sector’s business dealings.” [6/2/09]
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX): The auto company rescues “have been the leading edge of the Obama administration’s war on capitalism.” [7/22/09]Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ): When government gets involved in a company, “the disaster that follows is predictable.” [7/22/09]
These are the guys whose economic policies we're asked to follow, the piss-poor prognosticators whose ability to ignore what happened less than four years ago, when those theories were in place, are once again given credibility by RWS™ and teabaggers alike.
IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.So speakethed the guy who's the likely R nominee. Afraid to take a position on the payroll tax cut, he's willing to wade into the most compelling issue of our time, balls a-poppin', and
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Now It Makes Sense
Merry Christmas, anyway.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Some readers might be surprised to know I love Christmas. I say "Merry Christmas" to store clerks, to operating room personnel. As long as I don't have to live next to this, I think it's really cool to see houses all decorated up; been known to take a drive just to have a look. And I totally love singing Christmas carols, to which I can supply a very impressive (trust me) bass or baritone harmony. Heads used to turn (in a good way), when I'd bellow it out in a group of carolers a few years back. Great stuff.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
The Good Thing About Getting Old
Okay, yeah, well, if I really didn't give a shit I wouldn't be blogging. So it's more like wishful thinking: I'm definitely getting old; I'm still waiting to stopping caring about the future our country. Maybe I've started to care less about mine.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
No News Is Good News
Okay, prepare to be flabbergasted. Fox news makes you stupid. Stupider than if you watched no news at all. (A direct link to the study (pdf) can be found in this article.)
According to the latest results from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll, some news sources make us less likely to know what’s going on in the world. ... The conclusion: Sunday morning news shows do the most to help people learn about current events, while some outlets, especially Fox News, lead people to be even less informed than those who say they don’t watch any news at all.
... But the real finding is that the results depend on what media sources people turn to for their news. For example, people who watch Fox News, the most popular of the 24-hour cable news networks, are 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government than those who watch no news at all (after controlling for other news sources, partisanship, education and other demographic factors). Fox News watchers are also 6-points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government than those who watch no news.
"Because of the controls for partisanship, we know these results are not just driven by Republicans or other groups being more likely to watch Fox News," said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and an analyst for the PublicMind Poll. "Rather, the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all."
By contrast, some media sources have a positive effect on political knowledge. For
example, people who report reading a national newspaper like The New York Times or USA Today are 12-points more likely to know that Egyptians have overthrown their government than those who have not looked at any news source. And those who listen to the non-profit NPR radio network are 11-points more likely to know the outcome of the revolt against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. ...
Listening to NPR also helps, but the biggest aid to answering correctly is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which leads to a ... 12-point increase in the likelihood of giving the correct answer.
... "The fact that Fox News, the preferred media outlet for many of the candidates, doesn't do better in informing viewers is very surprising."
Really? Surprising?? Must be that the study was the researchers' first experience with Fox.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Generals Get It
Pretty much everything the R candidates for president say is egregious in some way: an outright lie, a clueless embarrassment, a failure to understand something basic about how our democracy works. Somewhere near the top of the list, though, is their constant and unanimous refrain that in matters of military decisions, they'd go with what the generals told them. By implication, they like to condemn President Obama for making his own decisions, after input from the generals. And others. Horror of horrors: he hasn't always followed their advice!
"I'll probably make news with this but I find some of those articles about divergence or control of the generals to be kind of offensive to me," Dempsey told reporters traveling with him in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia."And here's why. One of the things that makes us as a military profession in a democracy is civilian rule. Our civilian leaders are under no obligation to accept our advice; and that's what it is. Its advice. It's military judgments, it's alternatives, it's options. And at the end of the day, our system is built on the fact that it will be our civilian leaders who make that decision and I don't find that in any way to challenge my manhood, nor my position.In fact, if it were the opposite, I think we should all be concerned." (emphasis mine)
Monday, December 19, 2011
Arrest Them All
As if we need reminding of his instability, Newt Gingrich has once again untethered his massive ego from reality, taking flight ever further from grounding in our Constitution. The man is a megalomanical nutjob. To imagine Newt Gingrich as president is to be scared shitless, or depressed motionless. Were it to happen, he could well become the first ever to be impeached and removed from office. By his own party. (One can hope.) Unless, of course, he managed -- and I bet he'd try -- to declare martial law and somehow make it stick. Given the evermore evangelicalization of our military, it's not beyond possible.
There’s “no reason the American people need to tolerate a judge that out of touch with American culture,” Gingrich said on CBS’ Face the Nation, referring to a case where a judge ruled that explicit references to religion were barred from a high school graduation ceremony. And Gingrich recently has said judges should have to explain some of their decisions before Congress.
Host Bob Schieffer asked Gingrich how he planned to enforce that. Would you call in the Capitol Police to apprehend a federal judge, he asked.
“If you had to,” Gingrich said. “Or you’d instruct the Justice Department to send the U.S. Marshall in.”
Really? Does it need to be explained? You know: separation of powers; judicial review; rule of law, even when unpopular? Especially when unpopular, ferchrissakes! One might well ask of this man who claims our president is trying to destroy America: how does the idea of eliminating the judiciary at the metaphorical point of a bayonet square with your professed (!) desire to take America back to where it once was?
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
In the local paper:
Living Nativity performer burned at Richland
RICHLAND, Wash. —
A performer playing a shepherd at Richland church's living Nativity suffered burns to his hands and face when his robe caught fire.
Medics took the 20-year-old to Kadlec Regional Medical Center with first- and second-degree burns.
KVEW reports (http://is.gd/d9aNwn) he was standing next to a campfire at the Cathedral of Joy Thursday night when the fire spread to his robe. He rolled down a hill and others helped put out the flames.
After a short delay the show went on.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
I entirely share this writer's view of the disgraced former Speaker of the House. Sadly, though, it seems Newt's flame is beginning to flicker. How entertaining it might have been. Or might still be.
I don’t claim infallibility, and a good thing too, because when it comes to bad calls, I’ve made some beauts, to paraphrase Mayor Jimmy Walker. The most recent was when someone on Twitter summoned the possibility of Newt Gingrich resurging in the Republican primaries and I tweeted a terse “No.” ...
Allow me to say this in my puny defence, however. One reason I’m such a wayward prognosticator of rightwing trends is that I’m incapable of blacking out enough neural sectors to see the world through reptilian-brained eyes, a prerequisite for any true channeling of the mean resentments and implanted fears that drive hardcore conservatives. (emphasis mine, because I think it's absolutely true.) I also make the mistake of believing that they believe what they profess to believe, which they clearly don’t, otherwise they wouldn’t be inclining to crown Newt king of the marsh. That a thrice-married Catholic convert with a history of marital infidelity would win the flinty hearts of Tea Partiers while true evangelicals such as Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry would find themselves standing on the platform as the train whooshes by, abandoned and bewildered--well, go figure. That a third-rate futurist spieler who rides every wave of pop guru bullshit and management theory would appeal to those who pride themselves on their unyielding, unchanging bedrock values also falls into the “does not compute” category. ...
Some have compared Gingrich’s comeback to Richard Nixon’s after Nixon’s gubernatorial loss in California in 1962... After Nixon lost, he dedicated himself to making hundreds of speeches on behalf of Republican candidates, earning the respect and loyalty of candidates.
...Contrast this with Newt. Who basically has done everything for himself, for the greater glory of Newt and to feed the insatiable maw of Newt Inc and his Tiffany account. And unlike Nixon, Gingrich does not possess a lucid intellect; he’s all over the fucking place.
Item: Congressional Rs filibuster the proposed head of the consumer protection agency, claiming it's not about the man's qualifications (indisputable) but about objections to the very idea of that agency. In addition to calling the whole idea "Stalinist," Lindsey Graham spoke as if the legislation to create was pending. And yet, it was created by legislation a couple of years ago, which passed with bipartisan support! So, in effect, they're saying We don't like what the majority did, and we're gonna block it. Screw the Constitution and the way legislation happens.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Recently I alluded to the falsity that is the perceived genius of Newt. Here's a much better distillation:
I have been perplexed for some time why Newt Gingrich is routinely acknowledged even by his bitter enemies within the Republican Party as a "genius," but the answer turns out is simple: he acts exactly like one of those obnoxious elitist intellectual know-it-alls that the right-wing no-nothings think is the hallmark of an intellectual. He is constantly reminding us of his doctorate in history; he routinely claims he understands issues more deeply than anyone else; he has made a career of denouncing or (when he had the authority) eliminating professional expertise that might challenge his own certain pronouncements; and he is a veritable fount of crackpot "big" ideas (mining minerals on the moon, protecting the United States from sci-fi doomsday scenarios, and "fundamentally transforming" everything as a first step to doing anything.
Another useful rule of thumb: real geniuses, as opposed to simple egomaniacs, do not generally refer to themselves in the third person.
And, to be filed under "Gee, really?": Newt's transformational! tax plan, like every one proposed by every Republican since Ronald "That's From A Movie?" Reagan, would enormously increase the federal deficit. Who could have seen that coming? Well, maybe anyone who noted his plan has million-dollar earners paying a lower tax rate than those earning $40 - 75K.
Or, to put it another way:
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
-- Jody Gorran, chairman of Aquatherm Industries: "This mantra that every dollar in tax increases is a dollar away from job creation -- give me a break. ... It's not taxes that affects job creation, it's demand."
-- Kelly Conklin, owner of Foley-Waite Associates: "I don't decide to hire or buy equipment based on tax policy. ... We know how to make shit out of wood."
-- Debra Ruh, owner of TecAccess: "We need to hire people, but we don't have the cash or the credit to do it. ... I don't mind paying taxes. ... I like living in the United States and having the opportunities here. I don't understand why running a business has to be about avoiding paying taxes."
-- Michael Teahan, owner of Espresso Resource: "What we do in business, how we spend our money, how we allocate our resources -- that has very little to do with tax policy. ... I map my business based on my customers and what my customers want to buy and what they can afford to buy."
-- Rick Poore, owner of Designwear Inc.: "If you drive more people to my business, I will hire more people. It's as simple as that. If you give me a tax break, I'll just take the wife to the Bahamas."
-- Lew Prince, owner of Vintage Vinyl: "The economic premise that people won't hire because they might have to pay more taxes if they make more money is beyond laughable. ... You hire when you think there's a way you can make more money with that hire. The percentage the government takes out of it has almost nothing to do with it."
“Basically we’re still stuck in the situation we were three years ago and we haven’t made any progress at all except that our problems are much worse because of political reasons, because we now have a crazy party in charge of one of the Houses of our Congress and they won’t allow anything to happen because it’s in their vested interest to make things worse,” Bartlett explained in his typically exasperated way. “Plus they have a theory that is completely nuts….
The "Bartlett" is Bruce, Ronald Reagan's chief economic adviser, back when there were still a few honest and thoughtful Republicans. Reagan, after all, saw the failings of his extravagant tax cuts, and proceeded to raise them some eighteen times, if memory serves. I'm no fan of Reagan or of the Reaganismic approach to governance; but clearly there's not a single Republican in Congress or running for president who'd make such a move; and it's needed now more than ever.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Hello And Goodbye To Our Future
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Doctors And Death
I just read an article that's worth reading by everyone. Titled How Doctors Die, it's ultimately about end of life care, futile care, making impossible decisions. And it evokes in me thoughts that I've had many times, in many ways.
Almost all medical professionals have seen what we call “futile care” being performed on people. ... All of this occurs in the Intensive Care Unit at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars a day. What it buys is misery we would not inflict on a terrorist. I cannot count the number of times fellow physicians have told me, in words that vary only slightly, “Promise me if you find me like this that you’ll kill me.” They mean it. Some medical personnel wear medallions stamped “NO CODE” to tell physicians not to perform CPR on them. I have even seen it as a tattoo.
Then the article gets to the real point -- unreasonable expectations, impossible choices, insurmountable pressures:
To see how patients play a role, imagine a scenario in which someone has lost consciousness and been admitted to an emergency room. As is so often the case, no one has made a plan for this situation, and shocked and scared family members find themselves caught up in a maze of choices. They’re overwhelmed. When doctors ask if they want “everything” done, they answer yes. Then the nightmare begins. Sometimes, a family really means “do everything,” but often they just mean “do everything that’s reasonable.” The problem is that they may not know what’s reasonable, nor, in their confusion and sorrow, will they ask about it or hear what a physician may be telling them. For their part, doctors told to do “everything” will do it, whether it is reasonable or not.
But of course it’s not just patients making these things happen. Doctors play an enabling role, too. The trouble is that even doctors who hate to administer futile care must find a way to address the wishes of patients and families. Imagine, once again, the emergency room with those grieving, possibly hysterical, family members. They do not know the doctor. Establishing trust and confidence under such circumstances is a very delicate thing. People are prepared to think the doctor is acting out of base motives, trying to save time, or money, or effort, especially if the doctor is advising against further treatment.
Some doctors are stronger communicators than others, and some doctors are more adamant, but the pressures they all face are similar.
Doctors did everything possible to resuscitate him and put him on life support in the ICU. This was Jack’s worst nightmare. When I arrived at the hospital and took over Jack’s care, I spoke to his wife and to hospital staff, bringing in my office notes with his care preferences. Then I turned off the life support machines and sat with him. He died two hours later.
Even with all his wishes documented, Jack hadn’t died as he’d hoped. The system had intervened. One of the nurses, I later found out, even reported my unplugging of Jack to the authorities as a possible homicide. Nothing came of it, of course; Jack’s wishes had been spelled out explicitly, and he’d left the paperwork to prove it. But the prospect of a police investigation is terrifying for any physician. (Emphasis mine.)
When it came time to withdraw care, I always felt the need to involve the nurses caring for the patient, to ask if any had reservations, and to discuss them. It wasn't as much ass-covering as it was acknowledgment that they'd invested more time and emotion in the patient than I had, and needed to be heard. But, yes, ass-covering was surely on my mind, too.
It shouldn't have to be. It ought to be possible, based on knowledge, compassion, data, patient wishes, and proper education of patients and potential patients, managing expectations, to provide comfort care only when it's the right thing. Not just possible: expected; part of the job; a no-brainer. As it were. Maybe, somewhere, in a society more rational than ours, it can be.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Drek The Halls
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Tree Fighting Ceremony|
That Daily Show clip is worth a watch: I hadn't known about the pilgrimoid views on Christmas.
Bereft of actual ideas, the right wing and their public organ disguised as a news network have become shamelessly dishonest to a level of laughability for anyone with a coma score better than fifteen. Really, you'd think even the sheep-like Fox viewers would get tired of this crap eventually, as Christmas propagation begins earlier and earlier each year and Christianity becomes ever more overtly embedded in our politics.
In my continuing self-delusion that, with enough time and evidence, I can convince a couple of commenters of their erroneous beliefs (strangely, both are related to the medical field, which just goes to show you that education doesn't always equate with learning to think objectively), I offer a pretty deep look into the latest thinking on climate change, and that measly one or two degrees that they like to laugh off as inconsequential.
Climate science has not stood still for the last decade. According to the latest research, the level of damages once expected at 2 degrees C is now expected at considerably lower temperatures. Here's a graph that that shows science's evolving understanding:
[click image to enlarge]
A thorough reading of the article might require poring over some data, and following a few links as well.
I don't expect any results, vis a vis the aforementioned critics. But no harm, other than my wasted time, can come from trying.
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