Health Care

From Beardedbeard

There is no need to lay out the case for single payer health care if you don’t think it is the best way to take care of the ill and injured in the united states that’s fine go read something else.  The progressives among us have had a rough month the news has not been in our favor and there have been times that it seemed the dream of Health Care reform was going to slip through our hands.  But the situation may not be as dire as it seems.  August was tough we where out played by a team that is smaller, slower and is completely dependent lying and dirty tricks.  It is however only the end of August, September is coming up and there is still a lot of Hockey to be played.

The most important thing is that we take our lead from congressman Barny Frank.  We can’t fight with the 5 percent of people out there who only listen to Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh.  They are beyond salvation and for the most part beyond contempt.  They need to be walked out of town hall meetings, no fighting no fussing but if they are going to persist in lying we can’t waste our time with them.  Every one of their arguments has been debunked over and over and yet they keep at it.  So they now have achieved the same status as Fred Phelps and his congregation we can’t stop them from talking but we need to ignore and shun them and we need to shun any media outlet that gives them airtime.  Once the kooks are out of the room the real discussion can start.

Don’t get me wrong there are problems with the health care reform measures that are bouncing around congress, not the least of which is that no one has really bothered to sit down and figure out how to pay for the start up costs (if we can get the thing rolling it will pay for it self we just need to get creative in how we build the tax structure).  And there are things to talk about.  The Right wing wants Tort reform and that is something that we could look in to, I am thinking a best practices panel can kill two birds with one stone.  There is a chance that well made co-ops can do the work of a public option.  These are all things that can be talked about.

Politics is the Art of the Possible, when we where knocking doors in oppressive Indian Summer heat we were not telling people that Obama wanted to win so that he could shove Health Care reform down the throat.  No he was going to open a new chapter in politics different from the previous administration’s “all you all can go to H-E double hockey sticks”.  Obama’s Hope and Change campaign was not about getting rid of republicans (well just a little) it was about raising the level of discourse, about compromising and finding better solutions then either side could come up with on their own, it was about not calling each other Nazis anymore.  So let the guy do what we sent him to Washington to do, to make the country just a little bit better then when he started.

As for us, we have positions, we know what we want and thanks to the Obama grassroots machine we know how to get it.  Don’t whine that the debate is not going your way get out there and turn the debate.  Just remember a majority of Americans want Health Care reform.  We just need to get out there knock on a few (read millions) doors and convince them that it should be the kind of reform the progressives envision.


The Dying Party


We’ve never had an Official U.S. Senate Pornographer before, though pornographic behavior is frequently the entertainment provided to the public by the world’s oldest deliberative body. So Al Franken, the answer to Harry Reid’s prayer, should fit right in.

Some of the Democrats can’t wait to see what mischief they can do. “With the Minnesota recount complete,” Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said after the Minnesota robbery was completed, “it is now clear that Al Franken won the election.”

Actually, it wasn’t clear at all, but clarity is never valued among thieves. The Democrats in the Senate were eager to get Al seated quickly, both for crucial Senate votes coming up and because once seated among his equals, a bum is difficult to throw out.

There’s honor among the members of our only native criminal class, similar to the honor among robbers, burglars and other servants of the night. The difference, and it’s only a slight one, is that robbers, burglars and thieves often hold themselves to higher standards than members of Congress.

Read the rest at Washington Times

I found this article through another blog and figured I’d bring it to idio for a little run-around. This came from the op/ed section of the paper, hence the brazen partisanship and near-sexist and -racist ethic. I like how the author continues to call Al Franken a pornographer here, seeing how this simply came about from a piece the man wrote as satire (it’s okay, look it up, we have time) for Playboy. In the grand scheme of things, when considering people like Mark Sanford and Larry Craig, this innocuous article amounts to absolutely nothing.

Unfortunately, and not really for Democrats, more for Republicans, this is the way of Conservatives as of late. This constant grasping at straws seems to indicate a party that is on the verge of collapse. I mean, look at the Sotomayor hearings over the past couple of days. There is little that can be done to keep her from becoming the replacement of Justice Souter, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to try. It’s as if they think that by asking the right questions they’ll convince the everyone else that Sotomayor is not the right pick for Justice of the Supreme Court. And, as it has over several weeks now, it all comes down to a little quote. I’ll post it in entirety here, since that’s more than any other news outlet will give you.

Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.

If you’re looking for the direct quote, the one repeated again and again by journalist and senator alike, it’s in bold right there. But do yourself a favor and look at the whole thing. At least some people will allow themselves a bit of wisdom, as that is the subject of this debate after all. After asked on the subject by Sens. Sessions, Kyl, and Graham, Sotomayor admitted that the phrase was a “rhetorical flourish” that “fell flat.” She went on, however, to say that “I want to state upfront, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judging.” But really, one can’t say that their upbringing has nothing to do with the decisions they make in life. And in all truth, this quote reflects the woman, but it says nothing about her ability to judge objectively. All this hubub over a little bit of language. Kind of like the whole thing with Franken.

But that’s the matter at hand. Republicans now are doing anything and everything they can to block the actions of a Democratic President and a Democratic majority Senate, and all they seem to be doing is digging themselves a deeper hole. The only way to appeal to those voters who sit on the fence every election year is to come toward the center more. Polarizing yourself accomplishes nothing more than to make you appear to be a crazy person. I mean, look at Michelle Bachmann, who now is publicly saying she will refuse to fill out the Census because she feels it’s too prying and gets too personal. You need to pick your battles people, not go up against everything that is Democratic backed, or even the things you think are backed by Liberals (since the US Census comes from the US Census Bureau). And the fear Republican Senators and Representatives have of the government is astounding. How can one be afraid of the body that they inhabit and have a part in directing. Libertarianism or just plain smaller government is one step away from anarchy. But I suppose that’s the way it goes. The Conservative/Liberal meter is not a straight line, its a circle, and while Centrism is one point where Liberal and Conservative meet, anarchy is the other.

What I’m really saying, however, is that unless there are more moderate Conservatives willing to come forward and make a name for themselves, the Republican party doesn’t stand a chance. I mean, go ahead and keep embracing the extremes of Conservativism, but don’t expect to get anywhere. This country doesn’t need two parties governing at the same time, like brothers arguing in the back seat. It needs a stable governing body that is willing to work together to accomplish its goals. But I’ll let you be as polarized as you want to be. That just means we’ll get more Democrats in office.

All about torture, or the lines we cross

This is one of the best and most interesting debates I’ve seen in a while.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic Crisis First 100 Days

But I do have just one question: So if what Cliff May is saying is that it’s ok to “torture” or have rules of torture, being that you can inflict so-called discomfort to someone as long as it will not result in death, why would terrorists give up the information interrogators want if they know that it (the torture) can not kill them?  Besides, these people want to be killed so that they are martyrs for their cause. I guess I just don’t see how the threat of supposed death, but they knowing they can’t be killed is any incentive to give up the information one is trying to get out of them.

And according to what he says, the Geneva Convention even states that you cannot inflict discomfort of any kind.  But as we all know, rules are just there to be broken anyway.

The Perpetual Whine

I’m getting sick of the whining. That background hissing that’s coming out of the throats of all Limbaugh following conservative sheep. Obama won the election and is now the president, but it seems these people are already trying to get him out of office, even before he’s done anything. And the constant talk of 2012 doesn’t help anything. Who cares who’s going to run, it wont even happen for another four years. I can understand a difference of opinion, but it feels like Republican congressionals  are doing nothing more than voting against everything the new administration is trying to pass. And the president is trying his best to appeal to both sides. That’s something that Bush never did in his eight years. That administration’s tenure was the most polarizing time in the history of the United States, next to the Civil War of course. We’re still trying to snap back from it.

And then there’s this. I’ll have you know, if you didn’t already, that I am an environmentalist. I have converstaions with people on a regular basis about the issues of climate change and the like. On day I was talking with my boss (a staunch Republican) about it and he disagreed with the possibility of climate change and he was firmly opposed to any action being taken. I asked him the question I always like to ask people who disagree: What if we’re right and climate change is happening? Shouldn’t we do something to stop it, and even if we were wrong, we’d probably make the world a better place to live in? He told me no, so I asked him about his kids, and if it mattered to him that the world that they would live in when they grew up would be potentially ruined. He said that he didn’t care because it didn’t involve him. He wouldn’t be around. Ive heard this sentiment again and again from conservitives: If it doesn’t concern me, why should I care?

But then the budget came out, the recovery plan from Geithner, all these expenditures, and now I hear consevatives across the board concerned about generational debt. Really? You mean you’re actually concerned about your kids now, and the deficit they’ll inherit? I doubt it. Mask those sentiments all you want but in truth all you’re concerned about is your own pocket book. You’re not fooling anyone, so just come out and say it already.

This obviously doesn’t correspond to all conservatives and Republicans out there, just a good majority. It just seems like we need to work harder to get back toward center in this country. And Obama isn’t the big bad Socialist that a lot of people think he is. In fact, Socialists agree that he isn’t.

Greg Pason, National Secretary of the Socialist Party USA: “Barack Obama’s programs are not socialist. The vast majority of his proposals are anti-worker (or he might say ‘pro-business’). His health care proposals are more to save the for-profit insurance industry and do not have the goal of ending for-profit insurance. He has refused to support a Senate version of HR676, which would create a single-payer program (not socialist but much better than we have, and [which has] the support of labor and community organizations across the US). Many of his other economic proposals are pro-corporate.

A socialist program (even a reformist one) would not be a program that props up capitalism when it fails, but one that transforms the economy. None of Senator Obama’s proposals do that. Senator Obama’s tax plan is regressive and even less ‘progressive’ than programs put forward under such conservative administrations like the one of Richard Nixon.”

From Human Events

In fact, Obama is closer to center than many people thought to begin with. He’s no crazy liberal. Just a Democrat. I think we need to stop the whining and move toward fixing the country. Negativity never helped anyone.

Preaching Inequality

On Thursday, a Minnesota House committee rejected a bill that would require voters to show a photo ID to get into their polling place. The bill was proposed by Represtentative Tom Emmer (R-Delano) and is similar to several conservative- backed proposed bills country-wide attempting to prevent voter fraud. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said that the law would likely disenfranchise voters as well as cost the state a good deal of money. In my eyes its as simple as this: this bill will likely affect the elderly and those with lower incomes and no ability or desire to acquire a driver’s license. These are the people more likely to vote Democratic (no matter how much the Republicans want to call themselves the party of the people) and therefore the loss of votes would actually improve Republican chances in the state.

As I’ve stated before, my coworkers like to listen to AM1500 during the day. I do my best to ignore it, but often I am flabbergasted at the things suggested by their radio personalities. The other day, Joe Soucheray was talking about voting in Minnesota having discussed the recount and the photo ID vote, and he said something that I believe says a lot about the channel and right-wingers. He suggested that as we continue to include more people in the vote (and in the context I can only assume this means immigrants and people of so called lower classes), the system is becoming cheapened. From my interpretation of Soucheray’s phrasing, it seems as if he feels voting should remain a relatively exclusive institution in this country. As if it should not be the right of every American to vote for the person they want to run their country. This is dangerous language, as is anything relating to taking rights away from people, and harkens back to the opinions of conservative white men when blacks and women were given the right to vote. But the difference is that the right is already there, the attempt is to snatch it away.

This sort of inequality seems to be a standard opinion across the board for right-wingers. There are movements now attempting to make English the official language of a handful of states, to make it genuinely harder for people who do not speak English to live in the United States. Is this a value this country was based upon? What ever happened to the term “melting pot?” The line is “liberty and justice for all,” not just for some. “That all men are created equal” does not only apply to rich, white men. We all come from different backgrounds here. Many of us caucasians have roots in Europe. We’re all immigrants, except for the Native Americans, who technically are the only people who belong here.

It frustrates me when people work so hard to take other people’s rights away. Especially when its just an attempt to recover a few more votes for the other side. This bill has absolutely nothing to do with voter fraud. Do not mistake that.

Palin and the Wolves

Canis lupus, the gray wolf, is the center of even more debate. In the late 1980’s and into the 90’s, the wolf population was restored in the Rocky Mountains in Yellowstone National Park through a controvesial process of live-trapping in Canada and relocating. This was highly debated and fought mostly by ranchers and farmers in the area who feared for the lives of their cattle. Now, in the year 2008, the population of wolves has gone up to over 1000 across three states from almost zero.

But the trouble now is in Alaska, where the population of wolves is relatively high, at 7,700-11,200. There is a wolf control program that exists in the state, allowing citizens to receive a license to hunt the animals. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Wolves and bears are very effective and efficient predators on caribou, moose, deer and other wildlife. In most of Alaska, humans also rely on the same species for food. In Alaska’s Interior, predators kill more than 80 percent of the moose and caribou that die during an average year, while humans kill less than 10 percent. In most of the state, predation holds prey populations at levels far below what could be supported by the habitat in the area. Predation is an important part of the ecosystem, and all ADF&G wolf management programs, including control programs, are designed to sustain wolf populations in the future.

The Alaska Board of Game approves wildlife regulations through a public participation process. When the Board determines that people need more moose and/or caribou in a particular area, and restrictions on hunting aren’t enough to allow prey populations to increase, predator control programs may be needed. Wolf hunting and trapping rarely reduces wolf numbers enough to increase prey numbers or harvests.

Currently, five wolf control programs are underway that comprises about 9.4% of Alaska’s land area. The programs use a closely controlled permit system allowing aerial or same day airborne methods to remove wolves in designated areas. In these areas, wolf numbers will be temporarily reduced, but wolves will not be permanently eliminated from any area. Successful programs allow humans to take more moose, and healthy populations of wolves to continue to thrive in Alaska.

Now a group called Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, with actor Ashley Judd as their figurehead, has launched a campaign including a television ad attacking Sarah Palin and her stance on the program.

According to the group, Palin is attempting to pass legislation in increase the program’s limits, allowing for more hunting of wolves and bears. Palin’s background on environmental and wildlife issues tends to paint a picture of a woman who has little care for the world around her. She was well known for her stance on drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge(ANWR) and also sued the US government to stop the listing of the polar bear on the endangered species list. Just recently, she suggested that she would sue the government yet again to remove the beluga whale from the endangered species list in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. It is not beyond resoning that she would be opposed to any action to save the gray wolf, but this is what she said in response to the ad:

It is reprehensible and hypocritical that the Defenders of Wildlife would use Alaska and my administration as a fundraising tool to deceive Americans into parting with their hard-earned money.”

The ad campaign by this extreme fringe group, as Alaskans have witnessed over the last several years, distorts the facts about Alaska’s wildlife management programs. Alaskans depend on wildlife for food and cultural practices which can’t be sustained when predators are allowed to decimate moose and caribou populations. Our predator control programs are scientific and successful at protecting vulnerable wildlife. These audacious fundraising attempts misrepresent what goes on in Alaska, and I encourage people to learn the facts about Alaska’s positive record of managing wildlife for abundance.”

Shame on the Defenders of Wildlife for twisting the truth in an effort to raise funds from innocent and hard-pressed Americans struggling with these rough economic times.”

From Reuters

Now that you have the background, here’s what I think. Being a biologist and having my background in environmental and ecological biology, I’ve done my fair share of study of gray wolves. The wolves act as an apex preditor, meaning that through their predations, all other organisms sharing the same environment are affected in some way. The wolves check the caribou and moose populations, slowing the browsing of new growth of plants, thus letting them grow larger and thicker. This in turn increases the numbers of birds in an area by providing more nesting and more food through insect increases. This sort of cascade happens all across the food web of which wolves sit in the center. I do believe that the ADFG is taking a scientific stance in its  wolf control program. Most likely if the wolf population stayed where it is, food could become limited and the wolves would die of starvation. Such is the way the biological world works.

That being said, the aerial hunting methods, the proposed bounty for the forelegs of the animals, and the idea of running a “propaganda campaign” to increase hunting seem vile to me. If one chooses to hunt a wolf, it should be performed just like deer hunting, with a gun and your own two legs. Wolves do not attack humans frequently, and in the last 40 years only 22 attacks have been recorded in North America (International Wolf Center), thus if the use of helicopters and low-flying planes is for safety, the claim is mostly groundless. The idea of a propaganda campaign and a bounty sounds a bit along the lines of the programs that led to the near extinction of the wolves in Yellowstone. Overall, I do not agree with the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund that any hunting of wolves is a terrible thing, but I also do not agree with Alaska’s methods of killing the animals. We mustn’t push science away, and I’m afraid that this is just what Sarah Palin would like to do. Anything done after an analytical review of the data available is better than running blindly into it.

The New Martyr

“The martyr sacrifices themselves entirely in vain. Or rather not in vain; for they make the selfish more selfish, the lazy more lazy, the narrow narrower.”
-Florence Nightingale

I’m starting to get annoyed with the whole “liberal media” thing. I really didn’t assume I would be commenting on something as inane as the little shibboleth that could, but after enough time hearing it nonstop, I really couldn’t help but make connections.

The Right seems to be playing the martyr these days. After John McCain birthed the concept of acting as if his campaign could be getting the low deal just because of media bias, the Conservatives ran with it. And they have yet to let it go. I hear it everywhere, on NPR, on local news broadcasts, and especially on the Right-leaning Minneapolis talk radio of AM1500.

Their new host, whose name I can’t even seem to remember (the replacement for the only good thing that came from AM1500, Mischke), is a bit of a zealot. He seems to bat for all the traditional Right-wing interests (pro-life, anti-immigration, pro-Christian), and thus seems to have a firm case of woe-is-meism.  The Franken/Coleman debacle thunders on with more twists and turns than ever, and now that Franken is up by 225 votes, the media is to blame for some of the troubles, according to said pundit. You see, no one around the country even knows what’s happening because the liberal media is suppressing the important facts: there was double counting of votes and no standard method for the counting of improperly rejected absentee votes. Warning, the entire last sentence was sarcasm.

There’s not a whole lot to say on the topic, I guess. But this martyrdom is a bit annoying. Seems to me that in the last eight years while George Bush was in office ruining the country, us liberals took our chance to point out the falsehoods, inaccuracies, and downright lies coming from the administration. We didn’t complain that the world was out to get us, we just fought back. If this is the kind of attitude the Right is going to take, they really do have no chance to win the next election. And that’s fine with me.