Saturday, June 22, 2013

Canadians Pay Taxes for Universal Health Care, and Now They're Richer Than Us

Excellent post at Truthout. Links at site.

Many conservatives still characterize Medicaid as “welfare,” and many think of it as such. Presumably other types of health care coverage have been “earned” (think veterans and the military, highly paid executives, union members and congressional staff). We resent our tax dollars going to “freeloaders.” Until the slicing and dicing is ended, the finger pointing, blame shifting and their attendant political wars will continue.

In sharp contrast, our Canadian neighbors feel much differently. Asked if they resent their tax dollars being spent to provide health care to those who can’t afford it on their own, they say they can’t think of a better way to spend them. “Isn’t that what democracy is all about?” I’ve heard Canadian physicians say, “Our universal health care is the highest expression of Canadians caring for each other.”
In the U.S., "taking care of each other" is referred to by the Neanderthal "christian" right as "communism".

In her excellent New Yorker essay called “Tax Time,” Jill LePore points out that taxes are what we pay for civilized society, for modernity and for prosperity. Taxes insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and take some of the edge off of extreme poverty. Taxes protect property and the environment, make business possible and pay for roads, schools, bridges, police, teachers, doctors, nursing homes and medicine.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.” The wealthy pay more because they have benefited more.

Canada’s tax-financed health care system covers everybody, gets better results, costs about two-thirds of what ours does and is far more popular than ours with both their public and their politicians. There is no opposition to it in the Canadian Parliament.

What’s not to like about that?

Oh yes, and the average Canadian is now wealthier than the average American. Their far more efficient and effective tax-based health care system is part of the reason.

The time came long ago to quit seeing health care as a for-profit industry and start seeing it as a public utility, like water or electricity. It will not happen until the "christians" become Christians, or until all the Neanderthals amongst us are dead.

For those of you who may not have seen it, I refer you to my most excellent post from years ago, Single Payer Is Like A Beer Run. Please read and enjoy a motorcyclist's perspective, but here's the crux of the biscuit:

Some folks won't have much money and some folks will have plenty. Everybody wants something different from the store, but that's just too damn bad. There will be beer and soda and ice, brand names be damned, whatever the store has. And one box of diapers or Depends (I never quite understood the 'Depends' part when I was younger. I do now!) The driver will get what he can get, which will be plenty even if not too much, and everybody will get something to slake their thirst and keep the party going. Some folks will get more than they paid for and some will get less than they paid for. Some folks will contribute money and not need or expect anything, and some won't kick in anything unless they are made to, but will expect a full share or more, and they will be the ones who bitch the loudest if they don't get exactly what they want. There are also people who brought more beer than they could possibly consume and won't share with others and will still want some of the proceeds of the beer run. Such is the nature of life and people.

The point of the beer run is to do the most good for the most people. There are always going to be folks on all the fringes and we have to take care of them, but the point of the exercise is directed squarely at the middle: you pay, you get.
Bada bing! What a concept!

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

From Prague concert

Thanks to 1000Magicians, UK.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Headline of the Day

Virginia Republican pleads guilty to dozens of counts of voter fraud
The corollary to "If ya can't beat 'em, cheat 'em" seems to be "Go directly to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200".

Ah, sweet schadenfreude!

Please proceed, Repugs

The Political Garbage Chute

An Open Letter To House Republicans — America’s Icons of National Embarrassment

Dear House Republicans,

You make America suck. Out loud. When people from other countries think of us — thanks to you, your complete ineptitude since the Clinton administration, and the idiocy of the previous administration — they think about you and laugh. You are our National Embarrassment. There’s Darrell Issa’s endless congressional witch hunts that never amount to anything and yet ironically steal away millions of taxpayer dollars in the process of proving absolutely positively fucking nothing. There’s your hapless “leader” — and has earned the quotation marks, believe me — who you know deep down hates the Tea Party but right now is so paralyzed in fear of them that he just rolls the fuck over for them. There’s Eric Cantor, who looks like Beaker the Muppet fucked Harry Potter and had a baby.

I’m writing this not to tell you something you don’t already know, but rather to try and pick off some among you who are smart enough to see it yourselves. The embrace of the right-wing fringe by the Republican Party has led to an embarrassing streak of social and economic policy abortions for the entire country. We live in a country where faceless mega-corporations’ campaign donations drown out the voice of the people. We live in a country where 90% of the people can desire new common sense legislation and Corporate America can team up with feckless politicians to ignore us all. We live in a country where a party is spending more time locking down women’s control over their own bodies than they are in locking down control of the out of control assholes on Wall Street who nearly took the country down permanently not more than half a decade ago. The truth is that the American public can and will only stomach this idiocy for so long.

This is why I’m praying to every deity I don’t believe in that you continue to ignore the sane and rational, moderate Americans. I pray with all my heart that you drag your party further and further right until the moderates and rational people have no choice but to kick you out of office. It seems like that’s how it has to work in America. We have to become so fed up with abysmal job performance that we have no other choice but to act. Ask Newt Gingrich if he thinks that 1998 was his best year ever. Ask John McCain and Mitt Romney what it’s like to run as Republican presidential nominees in the immediate wake of the worst presidential administration of all time. After eight years of Bush cowboyism and Cheney war mongering, we voted for a huge change (that we’ve yet to see, but that’s a rant for a different time), and even though the economy wasn’t fully recovered and we weren’t completely blown away by his first term, the thought of a Republican in the White House was so repulsive we put Obama back in for a second time.
All this being said, there’s nothing that’s better for the country in the long run than you guys crossing every single line every single chance you get. I propose you move the cut off on your abortion bill to the moment of conception. Sure you can’t really prove when that was, and you’d be telling every rape victim she better hope to God they don’t get pregnant because they’re having that rape baby no matter what, but hey, the worst that’ll happen is that all you disgusting extremists will be voted out. So I suppose that in the end the theme of this letter is “You are an embarrassment to yourselves, your party, your country, your species, your planet, your solar system, your galaxy and your universe; please don’t change a thing.”

Seriously. Please. Don’t change a thing.

That's exactly my desire too. There's ignorant and racist and anti-everybody-but-them garbage spews outta those Repug morons every single day. Every. Single. Day. We can't stop it with facts, reason, or logic, so why try? The best we can do is expose it to the light of day in the best way we can. I've evolved from outrage and anger at it all to calm, almost Zen-like acceptance and realize it's just a matter of time until even the morons who elected these morons will have had enough, or, failing at that, that more normal folks will come out and vote in off-year elections and throw da bums out. They better or we're sunk for good. I believe that even though the last thirty-three years have been a bad patch for America in many ways, we have lately seen some progress toward equality despite the throwbacks' best efforts. When it's finally over we'll be able to do even more towards the American ideal of liberty and justice for ALL.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why the GOP Can't Learn

Nothing new, but Bobby Reich tamps it into a nice, neat brick.

It's as if they didn't learn a thing from the 2012 elections. Republicans are on the same suicide mission as before - trying to block immigration reform (if they can't scuttle it in the Senate, they're ready to in the House), roll back the clock on abortion rights (they're pushing federal and state legislation to ban abortions in the first 22 weeks), and stop gay marriage wherever possible.

As almost everyone knows by now, this puts them the wrong side of history. America is becoming more ethnically diverse, women are gaining economic and political power, and young people are more socially libertarian than ever before.

Why can't Republicans learn?
My answer is that they believe their own bullshit in the face of overwhelming evidence, aka "facts", maybe even a little "truth", to the contrary and that everybody is out of step but them. Read on.

It's no answer to say their "base" — ever older, whiter, more rural and male — won't budge. The Democratic Party of the 1990s simply ignored its old base and became New Democrats, spearheading a North American Free Trade Act (to the chagrin of organized labor), performance standards in classrooms (resisted by teachers' unions) and welfare reform and crime control (upsetting traditional liberals).

The real answer is the Republican base is far more entrenched, institutionally, than was the old Democratic base. And its power is concentrated in certain states — most of the old Confederacy plus Arizona, Alaska, Indiana, and Wisconsin — which together exert more of a choke-hold on the Republican national party machinery than the old Democrats, spread widely but thinly over many states, exerted on the Democratic Party.

These Republican states are more homogenous and conspicuously less like the rest of America than the urbanized regions of the country that are growing more rapidly. Senators and representatives from these states naturally reflect the dominant views of their constituents — on immigration, abortion, and gay marriage, as well as guns, marijuana, race, and dozens of other salient issues. But these views are increasingly out of step with where most of the nation is heading.

This state-centered, relatively homogenous GOP structure effectively prevents the Party from changing its stripes. Despite all the post-election rhetoric about the necessity for change emanating from GOP leaders who aspire to the national stage, the national stage isn't really what the GOP is most interested in or attuned to. It's directed inward rather than outward, to its state constituents rather than to the nation.
They are taking control of red states one by one and so far it's working fairly well, vigorous opposition notwithstanding in many instances. God help you if you live in one of them. Repugs hate "big government" except when they own it.

This structure also blocks any would-be "New Republicans" such as Chris Christie from gaining the kind of power inside the party that a New Democrat like Bill Clinton received in 1992. The only way they'd be able to attract a following inside the Party would be to commit themselves to policies they'd have to abandon immediately upon getting nominated, as Mitt Romney did with disastrous results.
Thank you, Lord. And the majority of voters with a brain.

It's true that by 1992 Democrats were far more desperate to win the presidency — having been in the wilderness for twelve years — than today's GOP appears to be. Nonetheless it's doubtful the GOP will be willing to eschew its old base even if it loses the presidency again in 2016, because without its collection of relatively homogenous states, there just isn't much of a GOP.

The greater likelihood is a steady eclipse of the Republican Party at the national level, even as it becomes more entrenched in particular states. Those states can be expected to become regressive islands of backwardness within a nation growing steadily more progressive.
I guess we have to give up a few states to ensure freedom from Repug tyranny for the rest of us.

The GOP's national role will be primarily negative — seeking to block, delay, and filibuster measures that will eventually become the law of the land in any event, while simultaneously preaching "states' rights" and praying for conservative majorities on the Supreme Court.

In other words, more of the same.
Hopefully progressing to "less of the same" as folks catch on and/or die off.

I'm glad I'm in California.

The sheer terror of sitting still

If it's Wednesay it must be Morford on meditation and the killing pace of modern life.

Pause and you get eaten. Introspection is for hippies. Ruthlessly forward is the only perspective, the only direction, the only proper attitude.

Self reflection and mindful presence? Calm and OM and inner stillness? Sounds adorable, but holy hell have you seen the pace of the world today? Who has the time? Who has the energy? Who has the patience?

But come on. There’s so much to do! Money to make. Empires to build. Spines to slouch and hoodies to wear and souls to crush. This is America. Work is all there is. Well, work, and the Internet. And porn. And global warming. And artisan cocktails. Eat or get eaten, sucker.

“If every 8-year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world in one generation – Dalai Lama

Wait, what? Who let that guy in here? Doesn’t matter what he says; for most Americans, stillness is… how to put this honestly? Terrifying. Deep, even momentary quiet freaks people out. The hardest thing anyone can ever do in our culture is sit still for a moment. The demons! The memories! Voices! Kids! Video games! The guilt and the doubts and the FOMO, all hammering down on you like a cold rain made of fear and capitalism and shame. And it’s only been… 27 seconds. Meditation is hard.

The thing is, the scientific studies, the articles I read about meditation (and yoga, and the “simple” life) in mainstream media, they get it sort of wrong. Most scientists and western docs talk about it as though it were akin to working out, exercising your “concentration muscle” or maybe “mindfulness training,” as though the whole point is to help you be calm and sit still longer so you can better work your ass off at a job you hate for people who don’t deserve it in a world that doesn’t give a crap anyway. You get to keep on with your miserable, flabby, hardscrabble life – you just won’t mind as much.

What meditation et al really bring, if you go into them, is ultimate arrival to a place where you realize all that striving and goal-setting and money and racing around is sort of ridiculous, and fruitless, and will kill you, and is not the slightest bit necessary, and sure you can play with those energies all you like, but if you don’t see it for what it all is – a dance, a grand illusion, a hollow and misleading truth, signifying nothing – you will die numb and pale and miserable and never know why. And what sort of enlightenment is that?
I realized all that many years ago without ever actually "meditating". Hey, whatever works. Point is, live your life the way you want. Om out.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Voldemort Speaks

The Rude Pundit on Cheney's spew this past weekend.

1. So it was that former Vice President Dick Cheney slithered from the vat of feces and baby tears in which he is kept preserved to heave himself into the studios of Fox "news" yesterday and speak, sputum spouting from his mouth hole, to Mike Wallace's product of a broken condom, Chris. Cheney was in full snarl, rasping about the damage done to American security by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who, it seems, Cheney wishes to snatch with his claw-tipped tentacles and pull him into an embrace so that the acid slime that coats Cheney can dissolve Snowden into an easily digestible liquid he can absorb through his skin.

4. No? You don't get it? 9/11, motherfuckers: "We made the decision based on 9/11 that we no longer had a law enforcement problem, we are at war." And thus the worst decision in modern American foreign policy history since "Yeah, fuck those North Vietnamese" was made.

6. And on and on and on Cheney went, his vile new hog's heart was pumping away. Benghazi is a "cover-up." Obama blows turtles. The IRS thing is the worstest abuse of power ever. Wallace lapped it all up like cum gobbler in the center of a circle jerk. Fuck, Wallace even let Cheney get away with talking about weapons of mass destruction. How can you do that? How can you hear Dick Cheney use those words and not fall on the floor, pissing yourself from laughing so hard?

Cheney needs to realize two things - one, nobody gives a shit what he or any other neocon warmonger says any more, and two, there's no statute of limitations on war crimes and treason and it would be in his own best interests to keep his yap shut. Hell, even dumbass Dubya knows to do that after fuckin' the nation up so thoroughly.

Monday, June 17, 2013

With One Speech, Jeb Bush Just Destroyed Any Chance He Had at the GOP Nomination in 2016

There is a God! Manny Schewitz.

It’s quite obvious that the Bush penchant for gaffes isn’t confined to George W. Bush. In his remarks at the annual “Faith and Freedom” conference in Washington this past week, Jeb Bush stated that immigrants were “more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population” as part of his argument for immigration reform. It was a relatively humorous remark to refer to immigrants as “more fertile,” but I don’t believe his true intention was comedic relief.
The "Faith and Freedom" bunch is more commonly referred to as the "tinfoil hat hater brigade".

And while Jeb (who actually has the IQ that his brother missed out on) is correct in his overall message, he just killed any chance of winning any GOP primaries in 2016 if he were to actually run. You see, this is a common sense and moderate approach to solving both our financial and immigration issues — and having common sense and being moderate just doesn’t resonate with the hardcore GOP voters who turn out for primaries.

The primary voters in 2012 were an illustration of how rabidly intolerant and out of touch the current GOP base is. In the 2012 debates, they cheered at the hypothetical death of someone without health insurance, got positively giddy at the thought of a war with Iran and even booed a gay soldier. There’s just no way that Jeb can win when the base is chock full o’ nuts like this.

This is a dwindling, hateful base that will be almost completely gone in the next couple of decades, thanks to old age. Hispanics have a lot in common with moderate Republican policies, but in every single election since they’ve become a voting block to be reckoned with, they solidly side with Democrats. Governor Bush knows all of this and his message is an attempt to take the GOP appeal beyond the retirement communities and gun shows, and to the expanding demographic which will dominate. He’s a lot like Jon Huntsman in the sense that he’s got some common sense which he isn’t afraid to display on certain issues — and we all saw how that worked out for Huntsman in his quest for the GOP nomination.

Unlike his bumbling brother, Jeb knows how to actually run a state, and possibly all 50 of them as president. Do I want him to? No, not really — but he wouldn’t be the worst possible outcome if the GOP somehow did pull out a win in 2016 (perish the thought). I’m not a fan of Jeb Bush, but I will give credit where credit is due. He’s not a hateful xenophobe and he’s pragmatic enough to understand that immigrants have always been the lifeblood of this country — and that is why he’ll never get the GOP nomination.
The real reason he will never be POTUS is because Dim Son turned the Bush name to shit-filled pig-waller mud.

Besides, as Barbara Bush so eloquently put when discussing Jeb’s future, “There are other people out there that are very qualified, and we’ve had enough Bushes.”

I can’t say I disagree with that one bit.
Battleax Babs knows what Dubya did. So do they all. Good.

Republican Jesus™

A "recommended fun read" at Addicting Info.

Or “How I Learned to Stop Thinking for Myself and Just Trust Republican Jesus.”

Who the hell is Republican Jesus™?

Republican Jesus™ is very different than the Jesus you and I are familiar with. First off, he is White. Not just white, but White. Republican Jesus™ has a special place in his heart for America. Specifically, White America. Do you doubt this? Ask yourself why anyone who believes in a colorblind Jesus would even conceive of praying for the death of Obama? No, only those who follow Republican Jesus™ would even think that such a prayer could, or should, be answered. If you are currently thinking that racism has nothing to do with the unprecedented hatred of Obama, go away, I’m talking to the grownups.
Nope, no brownskinned liberal hippie desert Jew for them good Aryan types, nosiree!

Republican Jesus™, by the way, is a big supporter of the Confederacy. Why he let them lose the War of Northern Aggression is a mystery. But all “real” Americans know that the South will rise again and Republican Jesus™ will lead the way back to glory. Or something like that. How the Northern and Mid-western Red states fit into this Southern revival is also a mystery.
No mystery. The "New South" can be anywhere the cancer of ignorance and fear has spread.

Republican Jesus™ loves guns. Loves them! Never mind all that silly talk of beating swords into plowshares! Every good member of the church of Republican Jesus™ should have, at minimum, enough armament to hold off an invasion by those commie Nazi liberal hordes that are coming any day now. Or the ATF, whichever shows up first. Or maybe just enough to wipe out a schoolroom filled with kids when their excellent parenting skills manifest themselves in the next Columbine tragedy.

Republican Jesus™ hates the poor. This is the flip side of “prosperity theology”. If God rewards the faithful with riches, than the poor are obviously NOT of the faith and deserve what they get. This is, in part, why conservatives hate the social safety nets of welfare, food stamps and Medicaid. Those (and by “those” I mean those) people don’t worship Republican Jesus™ and are unworthy of being helped. Besides if you feed them, they’ll just breed!

Republican Jesus™ hates Muslims. Muslims are scary because some of them do bad things to innocent people. That makes them all evil terrorists. This is not to be confused with White Christian Militia types who blow up abortion clinics or plot political assassinations in Republican Jesus’™ name. Those people are martyrs and heroes. Or they were crazy lone wolves having nothing to do with Republican Jesus™. It depends on which channel you’re interviewing on, Fox or MSNBC.

Republican Jesus™ totally hates Liberals. Liberals are the pawns of Satan George Soros trying to destroy the greatest country ever made on this 6000 year old planet (conservative moderates are almost as bad and must be expunged!). Compromising with a Liberal is a terrible sin in the eyes of Republican Jesus™ and must not be tolerated.
Yeah, it's pretty hard to compromise with somebody who's laughing their ass off at you. Or maybe it's the tinfoil hat.

Also hard to compromise with somebody who thinks you're the ruination of civilization in the flesh. Either way.

Much more.

Oh. the irony...

Ironic Times

Many scheduled to have their hands chopped off due to traffic violations will now only lose three fingers.
Hey, they can still pick their nose!

“Tweet” Added to Oxford English Dictionary
Dropped: “wit”, “thoughtfulness”, “depth”, “understanding” and hundreds of other archaic words.

Eight 3,000-Year-Old Boats Discovered in England, One Still Floats
They've been sold to Carnival Cruise Line.

Majority Doesn't Mind Being Spied Upon
Or mentally undressed for that matter.
Hmmmm. That may explain all the folks retching at the supermarket when I stroll by...

Palin Returns to Fox News
Swallows return to Capistrano.
Eaves full of las golondrinas crapping all over everything from their little mud nests are infinitely preferable to Turdette Of The Tundra crapping all over everything every time she opens her mouth.