Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I'm glad to hear that FEMA will be operated on a professional basis and that arcane federal turf wars are being brought under control. It's great to hear that eleven cabinet members have visited the Gulf Coast and that the president plans to himself. Still, these hardly address the issues of recovery or the lack of confidence people have in their own government. The president rightly raises the latter as a critical issue, but I wonder whether he makes the connection to that and the health care reform battle.
Pump Tha Party on Katrina Day!...
Bearing witness: Slidell, three weeks after...
It is the glory and greatness of our [the Democratic party's] tradition to speak for those who have no voice, to remember those who are forgotten, to respond to the frustrations and fulfill the aspirations of all Americans seeking a better life in a better land.Senator Ted Kennedy, Address to the Democratic National Convention, August 1980
Friday, August 28, 2009
- single-payer health care as in Canada
- government-supplied health care as in Great Britain
- a welfare program for those unable to afford private insurance
- (regrettably) "socialized" medicine in any way, shape, or form
The insurers are open to one kind of reform — universal coverage through mandates and subsidies, so as to give them more customers and more profits. But they don't want the reforms that will most help patients, such as a public insurance option, enforced competition and tighter regulation...
Thursday, August 27, 2009
(Thanks to Stone Soup Musings.)...
Somebody has to keep the insurance companies honest. They complain that they can't compete with the public option, sort of a strange response to be coming from the private sector. (Seattle Times, 8/27/09, B6)...
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
When Senator Kennedy died yesterday, it was as the champion of all Americans' right to decent, affordable health care. He left his mark on so many pieces of health legislation that it's easy to forget his lifelong commitments to civil rights, education, labor and fair wages, the alleviation of poverty, human rights, peace in Northern Ireland and, indeed, peace around the world. Kennedy opposed the war in Iraq, calling it "the best vote I cast in the United States Senate." In 1995, he outmaneuvered the Gingrich-Lott Republican leadership to secure a long overdue increase in the minimum wage. In 1994, he helped jump-start peace negotiations in Northern Ireland by urging President Clinton to issue a visa to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. A powerful voice opposing apartheid in South Africa, Kennedy's commitment to civil rights at home began as early as his support for Lyndon Johnson's Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Acting of 1965.
- Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Act of 1986
- Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
- Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act of 1990
- National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993
- Freedom of Access to Clinics Act of 1994
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
- Food and Drug Modernization Act of 1997
- Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) (1997)
- Children's Health Act of 2000
- Project BioShield Act of 2003
- Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2005
- FDA Amendments Act of 2007
- Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act of 2008
Sunday, August 23, 2009
As always, click to enlarge. For more Tom the Dancing Bug, Pat Oliphant, Calvin & Hobbes, Tony Auth, and Tom Toles, go here, here, here, here, and here...
Our challenge is less geographical than spiritual, less a question of the distance between Honolulu and New York than between you and the person right next to you. Such as when you look at a guy who thought it a good idea to bring a "gun" to a presidential speech and find yourself stunned by incomprehension. On paper, he is your fellow American, but you absolutely do not know him, recognize nothing of yourself in him. You keep asking yourself: Who "is" this guy?
The First Amendment ethos guarantees people — whatever their politics — a fundamental right to participate in their democracy without concern for physical retribution. It is the primary amendment because America was first and foremost created not as a gun-owners' haven, but as a place to shelter citizens from oppression.
Chocolate-praline cheesecake and zydeco dip...Before you dig in to that, you might want to try some Cajun shrimp jambalaya...
Friday, August 21, 2009
Every compromise President Obama offered in the name of bipartisanship was read as a sign of weakness. For Republicans, sticking it to the Democrats trumps doing what's good for the country. The heck with them.
Reforming health care should be both a liberal and conservative mission. Securing medical coverage for all Americans is the liberal part. The conservative part is containing the explosive rise in health-care spending, which fuels government deficits and hurts American business in the global marketplace.
Democrats will have to be both the liberals and the conservatives on health care...
E. J. Dionne writes that there's no place for guns at presidential appearances:
Friday's Choice: Simon & Garfunkel sing "Homeward Bound" in 1966:
Try a thought experiment: What would conservatives have said if a group of loud, scruffy leftists had brought guns to the public events of Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush?
How would our friends on the right have reacted to someone at a Reagan or a Bush speech carrying a sign that read: "It's time to water the tree of liberty"? That would be a reference to Thomas Jefferson's declaration that the tree "must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
Pardon me, but I don't think conservatives would have spoken out in defense of the right of every American Marxist to bear arms or to shed the blood of tyrants.
What a difference a year makes. From 1967:
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
- provide health care to illegal aliens (heaven forbid)
- lead to a government takeover of the health system
- spend taxpayer dollars on abortion (we wouldn't want health care reform to enable women full access to their constitutional rights)
Forty-five percent think the reform proposals would allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care for the elderly.
- coverage of preventive care such as mammograms and colonoscopies
- the end of denial of coverage because of pre-existing conditions or medical history
- the end to dropping or reducing coverage of an existing medical condition
- prevention of arbitrary caps to lifetime or annual coverage, essential to preventing health care-related bankruptcies
- an option to purchase health care from the government, to so-called public option essentially to controlling costs and ensuring that minimal standards are meant
- government negotiation of purchases from pharmaceutical companies, essential to controlling drug costs (You wouldn't believe how much cheaper even over-the-counter drugs are in Ireland, and this in a country that is an expensive place to live.)
This is not a game. I am increasingly distressed to see that, as far as I can tell, the Republicans in Congress are treating the issue of health care reform as an opportunity to score points against the Democrats in general and the president in particular. This issue is not a game between Republican and Democratic politicians. If it continues to be treated as a game, then no matter which party wins, the American people will lose.
I support health care reform that includes a public option. If you oppose a public option, please explain to me as my representative in the House why I should trust insurance companies more than the government in which you serve.
Recently, the brother of a friend was diagnosed with germ-cell cancer which is highly treatable 90% of the time. Unfortunately, my friend's brother belongs to the other 10%. He works for a successful telecommunications firm. He has "good" health insurance. His insurance company refused to cover the stage II trial drug protocol that is his only viable chance for a cure even though it costs no more than the conventional therapy they were willing to cover and even though the insurance company's doctor recommended they grant a waiver and cover his experimental treatment. Now, tell me why I should trust the insurance companies.
Please, sir, have the courage to do the right thing. The status quo in health care is unacceptable. The American people have been waiting for reform since Harry Truman was president. Please do not succumb to the partisan pressure to play politics with the very lives of the people you represent.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I'm writing from the Aran Islands (pictures later), the first time I've had internet service in nearly a week. We return to Seattle on Tuesday. In the meantime...
Clifton wishes he could take A Long Walk with Jill Scott...
Looks like all those letters and emails had an effect:
By Kenneth Hein
NEW YORK (Nielsen Business Media) - Some of the nation's biggest advertisers are distancing themselves from Fox News host Glenn Beck after he called President Obama a racist during a July 28 broadcast.
Geico has pulled its ads from Fox News Channel's "The Glenn Beck Program." Lawyers.com, which is owned by LexisNexis, also has vowed not to advertise during the program, according to Color of Change, an African-American online political organization that has been urging advertisers to stop supporting the show.
Additionally, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance and SC Johnson all said their ad placements during the broadcast were made in error and that they would correct the mistake.
The controversy stems from Beck's comment that President Obama is a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people."
Geico spent more than a half-billion dollars on ads last year, according to the Nielsen Co. It spent more than a quarter-billion dollars in the first half of 2009.
A Fox representative noted that Geico is dropping its ads from the show but was quick to note that it was shifting dollars to other programs. "The advertisers referenced have all moved their spots from Beck to other programs on the network, so there has been no revenue lost," the rep said.
Beck's show pulled in an average of slightly more than 2 million viewers for each of its 19 telecasts in July, according to Nielsen.
Progressive Insurance representative Cristy Cote said that there has been a lot of confusion surrounding the company's involvement with the program. "We had not bought advertising on the show in the first place," she said, "so when we learned that our advertising had appeared on the show by mistake, we contacted the network to correct the error."
She said Progressive tries to "avoid programing that we believe our customers and potential customers might find extremely offensive."
A Procter & Gamble representative echoed that sentiment: "At times our ads are run by mistake on shows that they were not meant to ... Any of our ads that ran did so by mistake, and we'll try to make sure that doesn't happen in the future."
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I Predict A Riot, Bateman (2007)
Hilarious black comedy set in post-Troubles Belfast somehow ties together food poisoning, high fashion, racketeering, murder, and the perils (and rewards) of on-line dating. Paced at breakneck speed, Riot combines the wit of Carl Hiaasen with the hyperactivity of a Preston Sturges screwball comedy into a eventfully convoluted narrative that will keep you up late turning page after page until it resolves itself. Highly recommended...
The Irish Game: A True Story of Crime and Art, Matthew Hart (2005)
The Irish Game: A True Story of Crime and Art, Matthew Hart (2005)
On the night of May 17, 1986, Dublin gangster Martin Cahill masterminded an art theft from a prominent Irish private collection. The theft included one of the world’s few Vermeers in private hands. It took until 1993 to recover the Vermeer and the other paintings, and in the end required the international cooperation of the police forces of four countries. The recovery of the Vermeer hastened Cahill’s downfall and occasioned a discovery that changed the art world’s perception of the great Dutch master’s work. Writing in terse, journalistic prose, Cahill examines other art thefts and shows how stolen has become collateral in the international drug trade. Recommended...
Heaven Lies About Us, Eugene McCabe (2006)
This uneven but rewarding collection is at its best in the two series of related stories that describe the Troubles from the Protestant perspective. McCabe unstintingly relates the bigotry at the core of anti-Catholicism while retaining sympathy for the apolitical people whose find their lives turned upside down. In spite of themselves, they find themselves looking at harmless Catholic neighbors through a prism of suspicion. Worse, they live in an environment that demands that they choose sides whether they want to or not. Recommended...
Redemption, Francis Stuart (1949)
Ezra Arrigho, a spiritually beaten man, returns to his native Ireland after sitting out World War II in Germany. As he begins to take part in the social life of a small town near Dublin, Ezra begins to articulate the forces that have robbed his life of meaning. Just when it seems that he has turned a corner, a brutal crime forces him to confront some his most deeply held convictions (which aren’t what you might think they’d be). As in the brilliant Black List, Section H, Stuart challenges us to reexamine our own closely held assumptions – this time regarding the nature of crime and punishment -- no matter how certain or banal they might seem. Difficult, demanding, and uncomfortable, Redemption represents the one-of-a-kind Stuart at his best. Highly recommended...
Dancing With Demons, Peter Tremayne (2007)
Tremayne’s series about a lawyer and religious called up to solve crimes in 7th C. Ireland has gained an international following. In this one, Sister Fidelma investigates the events leading up to an actual historic crime, the assassination of High King Sechnussach. As always, things aren’t what they seem and as always we get a history lesson on the doings of medieval Ireland, which Tremayne views as relatively advanced culture. The ending is a bit fussy with Agatha Christie-type doings, but fans of the genre will like this just fine. Recommended...
Overheard today: "If you've come to Ireland, it's for reasons other than the weather"...
There's one kind favor I'll ask of you: See that my grave is kept clean...
Premium T.'s summer reading list is here...
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
For anyone who can't watch the President summarize heath care reform, here's what the anger is supposedly all about:
Right now, we have a system that works well for the insurance industry, but that doesn’t always work well for you. What we need, and what we will have when we pass health insurance reform, are consumer protections to make sure that those who have insurance are treated fairly and that insurance companies are held accountable.
We will require insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms, colonoscopies, or eye and foot exams for diabetics, so we can avoid chronic illnesses that cost too many lives and too much money.
We will stop insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history. I will never forget watching my own mother, as she fought cancer in her final days, worrying about whether her insurer would claim her illness was a preexisting condition. I have met so many Americans who worry about the same thing. That’s why, under these reforms, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage because of a previous illness or injury. And insurance companies will no longer be allowed to drop or water down coverage for someone who has become seriously ill. Your health insurance ought to be there for you when it counts – and reform will make sure it is.
With reform, insurance companies will also have to limit how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses. And we will stop insurance companies from placing arbitrary caps on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime because no one in America should go broke because of illness.
There's so little for average person to oppose here that one must wonder, is this what the anger is all about? Or could it stem from the racial fears and prejudices of people who think that being on top depends on other people of a different color being on the bottom? Could it be a savage howl of rage at the thought of no longer being in power (not that they ever were)? Just wondering...
Although military and intelligence planners have been aware of the challenges posed by climate changes for some years, the Obama administration has made it a central policy focus...
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Michael Nugent parked us in yesterday.
We returned to our car after lunch to find it blocked by another car whose driver hadn’t bothered to pay his car park fee. An older gentleman informed us that he had told the driver that he hadn’t paid, whereupon the driver promised to be right back. Twenty minutes and one fruitless Gardai appeal later (“Sure, he’ll be back soon”), he still hadn’t kept his promise.
A father and son getting into a nearby car opined that we might be able to squeeze through the place they were leaving. We might have, too, but it would have been a near thing. I doubted that I could make the right turn necessary to free our car without scraping one, two, or possibly even three other innocently parked cars, all while the blue truck and trailer that barred our way got off scot-free.
We had just about decided to wait it out in a pub. I anticipated that the owner of the blue truck would return before we did, and that we would get ticketed for going over time. You know how it is. At that moment, the man driving the nearby car returned. It seems that he recognized the blue van as that of a local lawn cutter and knew in which pub said lawn cutter was likely to be found.
“Just go into S. Moran’s and ask for Michael Nugent. He’ll be there havin’ a drink.” (The “S” in S. Moran’s distinguishes that pub from just plain Moran’s, another Westport watering hole.)
So, we walked over to S. Moran’s and opened the door to a smoky bar filled with men. All conversation came to an abrupt halt.
“Is Michael Nugent here?”
Much hemming and hawing, one guess that he was off cutting grass, and an inquiry as to whether we owed him money followed.
“Because his truck has me blocked in.”
Much laughter. A man with guilt written all over his sheepish Irish mug raised a finger and mumbled that he’d go out the back door and meet us by the cars. He must have raced out there, because by the time we had gone out the front door and walked around to the park, he was well on his way.
Is this a great country or what?
See Premium T.'s version of the encounter here...
Friday, August 7, 2009
We know nothing about this place, despite scouring the internet for information. We came across this abandoned demesne after taking a number of random turns. It's vast (larger than most of the abbeys and castles I've seen here), appears to be Georgian, and parts of it remain in use as a horse corral. After the Irish Land Reform of the 1880's, Protestant landlords slowly but surely abandoned their Irish holdings over the course of about fifty years. It's likely that this is one of them, an estate gradually surrendered to its rightful owners until nothing remained of the original grant but the building and the land around it. The orignal grant may well have gone back to the days of Elizabeth I or Oliver Cromwell.
"...a paint stroke that describes a form also describes a gesture. That means it stands outside technological development and can never be subjected to mechanization or technology. It is always about renewing the primitive impulse to make the gesture. "Sean Scully, "High and Low or the Sublime and the Ordinary"
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Yesterday, we set out on a back roads tour of North Mayo. We stopped first at the Ballycroy National Park Visitor’s Center. Ballycroy is the newest of Ireland’s six national parks; primarily it preserves one of the largest blanket bogs in Europe as well as provides a home for the endangered red grouse. For some reason, years of traveling to Ireland have not taught me to bring a windbreaker with me no matter what the weather seems like, so the chill kept us from exploring and photographing the bog. We’ll be back.
From Ballycroy, we drove to Downpatrick Head, stopping along the way to take advantage of photo ops. The distinguishing feature of Downpatrick Head is the sea stack, a.k.a. Dun Briste (broken fort). Apparently, St Patrick won a dubious battle there with a pagan god named Crom Dubh (Doov). After failing to hurl St P into everlasting fire, Crom – who simply wanted his followers to be able to worship nature as they had since time immemorial – retreated to his fortress at the end of Downpatrick Head. In response, Patrick cleaved the land with his crozier, separating the fort from the mainland and leaving poor old Crom (and this much I can believe) to be eaten alive by a plague of midges.
After leaving the head, we worked our way through a labyrinth of roads and boreens (lanes), eventually coming across the ruins of an old demesne. More on this later. Meanwhile:
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Thank you for contacting the Chrysler Customer Assistance Center.
We appreciate the time and effort you have taken to express your concerns to us and we appreciate your feedback with regard to the Fox News program.
In response to your email, we would like to inform you that the advertising that appeared on Mr. Beck?s show was part of a media buy on national news programming that was purchased more than a week before it actually aired.
It is important to recognize there are multitudes of individuals that have different preferences in television programming. Like other companies and auto manufacturers, the brands of Chrysler Group advertise using a wide variety of programming as well as both print and web-based mediums. From trends in popular culture to feedback from both our customers and dealer network, we are constantly evaluating decisions and ideas as they may relate to where future advertising dollars will be committed. We take this approach to reach a diverse and broad audience with information about our products.
Considering these factors, we plan to continue our commitment to advertising on a diverse range of programming. We do this not with the intent to offend, but with an appreciation for diversity in consumer viewing preferences.
Chrysler Group has a long history of supporting America through the innovative products upon which so many people rely. Whether it's long-term product durability, design, utility, or the comfort, convenience and security that is synonymous with our minivans, we are proud of our heritage. As we look forward to the future, we know that
Americans will continue to look to us to provide them with both safe and reliable vehicles to meet their transportation needs.
Thanks again for your email. Your opinion is very important and your dissatisfaction has been noted.
As a former media buyer, I appreciate the necessity of being politically neutral when purchasing time spots. My quarrel is not with Chrysler purchasing time on Fox; indeed, I simply requested that you redirect future TV advertising slated for Mr. Beck's program to other Fox News programming. Fox has no shortage of conservative commentators who have not called President Obama a racist while they criticize his policies.
I continue to believe characterization of the president as a racist is over the line and should not be supported by Chrysler, a company that has in the past demonstrated social responsibility in many ways. That being said, I renew my request for Chrysler to redirect future advertising dollars away from Mr. Beck to other Fox News programming at least until such time as Mr. Beck offers a sincere apology for his remarks.
Thanks for your consideration,
I'm gonna live forever, I'm gonna cross that river, I'm gonna catch tomorrow now...