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Monthly Archives: September 2009

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The right wing cries wolf every time the public option is brought up. You don’t want a bureaucratic, option-limiting, send-you-home-to-die Canadian-ish  system, do you? Do you know that Canadians have to wait years to have a procedure until Big Brother says so? Blah. blah, blah. To put such fear mongering perspective, journalist Jonathan Rauch compares the current American health care system with making an airline reservation.

“Hello! Thank you for calling Air Health Care, the airline that works like the health care system. My name is Cynthia. How can I give you travel care today?”

“Hi. My name is Jonathan Rauch. I need to fly from Washington, D.C., to Eugene, Oregon, on October 23.”

“Yes, I’d be happy to assist you with that. It does look like we can get you on a flight on January 23 at 1 p.m. or February 8 at 3 p.m. Which would you prefer?”

“Neither. I need to be in Eugene on October 23. As in, the 23rd of October.”

“I’m sorry, we have nothing open on that date. You might try another carrier.”

“I suppose I’d better. Who has availability?”

“I’m afraid I have no way to know that. I have no way to look into their systems.”

“Who would know?”

“You can call them individually and ask. I’m sure you can find one.”

“Look, I don’t have time to call two dozen airlines. It’s important that I get to Eugene on the 23rd. There must be something you can do.”

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Social pyschologist Jonathan Haidt offers insight into the culture wars. He sees the religious right’s willingness to believe the most preposterous accusations against Obama and health care reform as tied to the soul-less, materialism of the left:

The materialism of the secular left opens it up to charges that it promotes a “culture of death.” Liberals are said to like to kill fetuses and the elderly; they don’t treat anything as sacred. This term has been bandied about on the right for many years, and while it is a gross exaggeration, it is based in a real truth, a real difference on the question of the sacredness of life. So when Palin threw out the term “death panels,” the term struck a chord that had been played many times in recent years. Liberals were flabbergasted, because it’s a blatant lie, but it’s false only in a logical sense, not an emotional one. And once again, logic has little to do with morality. If a pro-life social conservative asks himself whether Obama is secretly plotting to create death panels, he is not asking whether this is likely to be true, he is asking only “can I believe it,” and the answer is usually yes.

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It was his first speech before the UN assembly. He was received with more enthusiastic  applause than his predecessor. His speech was smooth, full of the same sort of rebukes of global apathy and calls to work together that you might find in any US presidential speech before these united nations. If Bush was seen as a global bully, Obama is seen as Mr. Nice Guy. And of course, right wing radio will argued that he just gave away the farm and emboldened our global enemies by being “too nice.” The second coming of Neville Chamberlain. At the end of the day, the UN will not be any the better for the Obama speech. Then came Omar Khadafi, or as he was introduced, “the King of Kings.” Wearing a robe that would make a 42nd Street pimp green with envy, he rambled on incoherently from a wad of misfiled scribblings. He received the sort of chilly applause you would expect for a global thug––a slightly better reception than he received in New Jersey. All in all, our Prince of Peace and Libya’s King of King were more eloquent than effectual. And isn’t that always the case? Which means the man who reigns from God’s throne is still the best bet for peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

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The film documentary Jesus Camp spends a week with a summer camp of Pentecostal kids. There, they get a version of Christianity that is wrapped in the American flag and double-dipped in a gooey adoration of policies of George W. Bush. This is a video of a group of kids from a large, conservative Dallas church. These kids put on a camp that reflects a different sort of Christianity. It is one where the cross is picked up, not pinned on. It is one where “values” aren’t simply slapped on T-shirts. They are lived out. Can I get an “Amen”?

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The first Great Awakening featured the Calvinistic preaching of men like George Whitefield. The result was a burgeoning young country falling to its knees to confess personal and corporate transgressions and embrace the crucified Christ. The second Great Awakening was of a different sort. It featured the man-centered, manipulative techniques of men like Charles Finney. The result were short-lived conversions, burned-overed districts and shallow, religious emotions. Now Republican congressman Mike Pence predicts a third Awakening. Apparently it will feature Bible-pounding Glenn Beck bigotry, a growing fear of goverment and a tea-party-caffinated resentment of taxation (it is, after all, the root of socialism). All which has this third Great Awakening shaping up in manner that would make Whitefield spin in his grave. A true, biblical Awakening will recognize that the evil in the world isn’t in rooted Hollywood or D.C., but in our own wicked hearts.

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If you think the placards are scary, wait until you talk to the people holding them.

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This is what middle-class black America love about Obama:

For black people, the clear benefit of Obama is that he is quietly exposing an ancient hatred that has simmered in this country for decades.  Rightly or wrongly, a lot of us grew tired of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, mostly because they presented easy foils for Limbaugh-land. Moreover, again rightly or wrongly, they were used to define all of us.

It’s intensely grating to live say, in Atlanta, and have some dude in Harlem crowned as your unelected leader. It’s even more grating if said dude’s agenda seems, in large measure, come down to standing in front of cameras and tweaking his opponents. It’s no mistake that O’Reilly and Sharpton would break bread together at Sylvia’s–they feed each other.

But Barack Obama, bourgeois in every way that bourgeois is right and just, will not dance.He tells kids to study–and they seethe. He accepts an apology for an immature act of rudeness–and they go hysterical. He takes his wife out for a date–and their veins bulge. His humanity, his ordinary blackness, is killing them. Dig the audio of his response to Kanye West–the way he says, “He’s a jackass.” He sounds like one of my brothers. And that’s the point, because that’s what he is. Barack Obama refuses to be their nigger. And it’s driving them crazy.

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Wow! And I thought I was hard on the Christian Right. Frank Schaeffer, son of evangelical apologist Francis Schaeffer, lashes out at the evangelical political block. Or as he likes to call them, “the fifth column of insanity.”

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Once Kanye hears Obama has called him a “jackass” it is going to get very ugly in the hood.

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At least one couple in America love each other so much that they are getting a divorce:

For Mary McCurnin and husband Ron Bednar, money trouble has followed health trouble. In 2003, the couple declared bankruptcy after their insurance covered only 10 percent of treatment costs for her breast cancer and his intestinal bleeding. In 2004, McCurnin’s breast cancer returned, and Bednar underwent open heart surgery.

Now, after repeatedly refinancing their house to pay medical bills and living expenses, they’re broke. To improve their chances of growing old together, they’ve filed for divorce.

“It occurred to me that I could get my first husband’s Social Security,” said McCurnin. Her first husband, to whom she’d been married 20 years, died in 1989. When she turns 60 in November, McCurnin said she will be eligible for $1,200 in monthly survivor’s benefits from the previous marriage. As the Social Security Administration told her, she can’t have the survivor benefit if she’s married to someone else

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You know how there is this crazy tidal wave of dissatisfaction with Obama? Well, according to a Washington Post poll, it is just not the case. Sure, the folks that were against him are still against him. The progressives who hope for Ralph Nader with a tan are dissappointed. But if anything, more people seem to think he is not the neophyte, train wreck of a president they had thought he would be. But it could change.

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George Will sees President Obama as a jumble of contradictions––a president who no longer believes what he says.

He deplores “scare tactics” but says that unless he gets his way, people will die. He praises temperate discourse but says many of his opponents are liars. He says Medicare is an exemplary program that validates government’s prowess at running health systems. But he also says Medicare is unsustainable and going broke, and that he will pay for much of his reforms by eliminating the hundreds of billions of dollars of waste and fraud in this paragon of a program, and in Medicaid. He says Congress will cut Medicare (it will not) by $500 billion—without affecting benefits.

However, could it be that saying people will die without accessible health care is not a scare tactic, it is a fact? That health care reform’s opponents have been lying and lying big. That Medicare is a program that seniors and doctors both believe which is only sustainable with adequate funding and better oversight.  Could it be that Obama is speaking the truth and truth, as usual is a complex animal which sometimes lacks the simplicity of a big, fat lie? Sure, it could. The question is, is whether the American people are ready for a President who speaks to them about complicated subjects. The truth rarely fits on rally placards.

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Matt Latimer‘s new book shares with the world what the former Fratboy-In-Chief had to say about other politicians. None of it very nice. For instance, Sarah Palin:

“I’m trying to remember if I’ve met her before. I’m sure I must have.” His eyes twinkled, then he asked, “What is she, the governor of Guam?” …
“This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for,” he said. “She hasn’t spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family. Let’s wait and see how she looks five days out.”

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70% of doctors surveyed are in favor of the public option. This is across blue states and red states. This is across the board with salaried doctors and doctors who own their own practices. If that number surprises you, remember that doctors who routinely deal with Medicare prefer that to the headaches that come with staffing their office with enough clerical help to deal with all the various forms and redtape tied to a wide variety of insurance plans and companies. Many advocate a single payer plan for the same reason.