Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sunday Funnies and Arts

As always, click to enlarge.

Yeah, But How Tall Is the Tree? Rant To the male Husky fans who chose to use a cedar tree in the UW parking lot as their private urinal. Grow up and walk to the Porta-Potties! Those of us tailgating around the tree don't want to hear you urinating. And one guy's comment that he had been urinating at this tree for 20+ years was disgusting. What boorish, disrespectful behavior...

Of cabbages and gin...

Elizabeth Regina in a French Quarter garden...

Downrigging weekend, including an 1812 flag...

Halloween Hussy (1958)...

What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue...

Peter Tibbles on "Walk Away Renee"...

Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, and "This Old Guitar"...

Maze, at the "Golden Time of Day"...

This one goes out to Roy:

Here's a beautiful rendition by an unidentified young woman. She finds everything there is to find in "Lion's Heart":

You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do

This one doesn't even pass the laugh test:
U.S. Rep. Cynthia Loomis says some of her Wyoming constituents are so worried about the reinstatement of federal estate taxes that they plan to discontinue dialysis and other life-extending medical treatments so they can die before Dec. 31.
Brimming with compassion over the plight of her millionaire constituents, Loomis argues that
If you have spent your whole life building a ranch and you wanted to pass that along to your children, and you were 88 years old and on dialysis, and they only thing that was keeping you alive was that dialysis, you might [italics mine] make that same decision.
Loomis declined to name any of the people who might be considering this. Nor did she state with any certainty the number of 88-year Wyoming ranchers on dialysis with an estate eligible to be taxed.

The redoubtable defender of the privacy of millionaires stoutly opposes abortion rights, flatly stating that "abortion is a sin against God." Moreover, she opposes gay marriage on the perfectly sound basis that "God defined marriage as between one man and one woman." God must have told her so personally, because there's no Biblical paucity of insatiable phalluses connected to men with multiple wives. Or maybe it's in the Constitution.

When it comes to immigration, the epitome of compassionate conservatism explains how she would extend the same compassion she shows millionaires to migrant workers who pay taxes:
[I] will work to ensure that illegal aliens do not receive social security benefits, medicaid benefits, food stamps, drivers [sic] licenses, or other benefits.
Cynthia fails to mention that no one receives Social Security unless they pay into it (and if they do, why shouldn't they get it?) or that undocumented workers are ineligible for social services. So, she's not going to have to "work" too hard at that one. Certainly nowhere near as hard as a migrant worker at a Wyoming hog farm, the owners of which have about as much to fear from Cynthia's promise to force "employers [to] ensure that their workers are properly documented" as a Wall Street investment banker does from Mitch McConnell.

The sad part is, she's going to have a lot company in Congress come Wednesday. At least her election might prevent a few suicides...

Notice the much more polished direction (by Martin Scorcese) and editing on this abbreviated rendition:

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

(Thomas Eakins, The Gross Clinic, 1875)

A common objection to single-payer health care systems is the supposedly lengthy amount of time patients wait to get an appointment. Actually, this depends on the reason for the appointment.

Medical care divides into three tiers: primary, secondary, and tertiary. In America, primary care refers to the family doctor, pediatrician, or gynecologist who meet most medical needs. In most other wealthy countries, primary care begins and ends with the family doctor, and indeed some do not offer pediatric care as we understand it. Secondary care refers to hospitalization and outpatient services involving surgery or another significant intervention such as chemotherapy. Tertiary care involves a rare condition requiring a highly specialized intervention.

When a country makes a decision to offer universal access to health care to citizens, residents, and visitors regardless of their income, policy implementation inevitably focuses on the health of the overall population as opposed to marketing health care to individuals. Population-based health policy leads to an emphasis on preventive care both at the public health level and at the provider level. At the provider level, that means getting people into the system before problems develop, which in turn means emphasizing primary care over secondary and tertiary care. Primary care is also less expensive than secondary care, so the more that health needs can be met at that level, the lower the overall bill to taxpayers and the more affordable the system becomes.

In practice, then, countries that offer universal coverage -- i.e., all wealthy nations except for the United States -- have a high ratio of primary care physicians to secondary care doctors. And while this can result in a wait for treatment of nonacute conditions, well-off citizens in these countries can generally purchase supplemental insurance for reducing waits or buy into a national program. And note the distinction: Longer waits for nonacute secondary care are a function of policies that follow from universal coverage, not a supposed single-payer health care government bureaucracy or lack of supply created by a disincentive to become a physician. (Single-payer countries have no more or less doctors than any other developed nation.)

So, there is a tradeoff: In a universal health care system, individual patients with nonacute conditions either wait longer for treatment or purchase a place in line in exchange for universal coverage, cheaper health care, a longer life expectancy, and wide array of services for the population as a whole.

Is it a tradeoff worth making?...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Son Shoots Mom; Dad Kicks Self

Headline of the Week: Father 'Kicking Himself' After Son, 4, Shoots Mother. While police do not expect to arrest anyone, prosecutors could decide to file charges: "It would be something along the lines of negligence." Hey, give the guy a break and get the government off of his back.

According to the story, the father had given the lad a piece of live ammunition somewhere some time -- no one one seems to know when -- and "was unaware that the boy still had the cartridge." I know where he's coming from: As many times as I gave my boys a bullet with an unsecured gun lying around, I couldn't possibly have been expected to remember whether they had kept it or not.

Police explained that actually loading the gun had been a piece of cake so easy to eat that a 4-year old could do it: "He had probably seen his dad do it a hundred times." Police did not explain why the man felt it necessary to load his gun a hundred times in front of his toddler son.

Dave Workman of Gun World weighed in with a plea for gun safety:
It's cases like this that remind gun owners about...making sure their children never touch firearms without their parents' permission.
I don't know what's more alarming: The plural "cases," the fact anyone needs to be reminded, or that Dave doesn't seem to have a problem with leaving guns out where they can be touched...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

She Made Me Do It

She owes me an apology, the police are to blame, and it was no big deal anyway. Oh, and I have a bad back, so please feel sorry for me:

No further statements from the Paul campaign. Why isn't the MSM on this? For that matter, where is the left-wing media? This is who the country is about to vote into power, after all.


One of the many disconnects in the ongoing health care debate (which is by no means over) lies between the Republican mantra that Democrats are destroying the Best Health Care System in the World and the prevailing view of the medical community. This view holds that the BHCSITW, although capable of providing world-class care, has nonetheless devolved into a ramshackle Frankenstein cum Rube Goldberg machine in a state of near collapse. According to this view, the BHCSITW
  • relies on an insurance business that opens the system to the healthy and closes it to the sick, resulting in an ever increasing number of uninsured without access to care;
  • shifts the cost burden onto patients and providers;
  • rations care by denying coverage, limiting coverage, delaying payment, and establishing caps;
  • is inefficient and burdened with administrative costs;
  • shortsightedly discourages preventative care, creating long-term health problems and costs in interests of of short-term profit;
  • discourages competition;
  • prevents consumer knowledge and choice;
  • discourages the tracking, recording, and dissemination of information about outcomes;
  • impedes providers and patients from acting on such information in the few instances that it exists.
Now, I get that the Sarah Palins and Jim Demints and Cosgray families buy into the BHCSIW drivel. I even understand how a reactionary doctor like Tom Coburn could sincerely believe that it all comes down to physician compensation (even if he is being narrow, shortsighted, and inconsiderate of his patients). But intelligent politicians such as Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, and Olympia Snowe must know better.

One can only conclude that they are cynical, craven, and/or laboring under the illusion that the BHCSIW would be the BHCSIW if only they could Get Government Out of Health Care (GTGOOHC). But what does that mean? Literally, GTGOOHC means:
  • repealing the Affordable Care Act
  • privatizing Medicare/Medicaid
  • privatizing the Veterans Administration
  • ending the employer/employee tax exemption on health care expenses
  • defunding the Center for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
  • curtailing or ending clean air and water regulations
One could argue that GTGOOHC goes so far as eliminating the 55-mph speed limit, removing warning labels from cigarette packaging, and no longer requiring cars to have seat belts. It sounds extreme, but I'm describing a classic libertarian position, and at least one classic libertarian is favored to become the next U. S. Senator from Kentucky.

Given that list, GTGOOHC is about as likely to happen in this country as a single payer system: There are too many special interests invested in the status quo to permit such a radical change, nor would the electorate stand for it. Instead we'll lumber along with the Only Health Care That Can Be Squeezed Out Of Our Broken Political System After Seventy-five Years Of Straining & Groaning (OHCTCBOOOBPSASYS&G).

In any case, the when the rightist politicians talk loftily of GTGOOHC, it's just that: Cheap talk. They don't have the guts to explain what it really means, nor do they have the evidence to make a serious case for it. Unless you count sloganeering and quotes from Ayn Rand as evidence...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Will Rand Paul Man Up?

A Rand Paul supporter exhibits what the left has called "populist rage" by stepping on a woman's head:

Will Paul condemn the behavior? Will "moderate" teabaggers explain that this has nothing to do with their values and also condemn the behavior? Will Osama bin Laden convert to Judaism?

R.I.P., Cool Ruler

Gregory "Cool Ruler" Isaacs, the reggae giant who reputedly recorded over 500 albums, has died at the age of 59, reportedly of lung cancer. Night NurseIsaac's best known album, largely eschews the themes of rebellion and freedom that dominated the reggae of the '70s and '80s in favor of a set of lilting, approachable love songs.

Not that Isaacs wasn't capable of articulating the historic plight of Jamaica's slaves. Listen to "Slavemaster":

Isaac's classic "Night Nurse" expressed his Marvin Gaye-like conviction in the restorative powers of love and sex:
I don't wanna see no doc
I need attendance from my nurse around the clock
'Cause there's no prescription for me
She's the one, the only remedy

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Funnies and Arts

As always, click to enlarge...

Louisiana State Museum opens Katrina exhibit. If you're in New Orleans, you don't want to miss this one. The museum is in Jackson Square, so you won't have to go out of your way...

Have You Got Yourself An Occupation Dept: Children of the Maslakh refugee camp in Afghanistan...
NOLA street signs...

Joyce Requiem...
Premium T. visits a premium P. Patcb...
Peter Tibbles on the Kings of the blues...

Emmylou Harris nails "For No One"...

Judy, once more:

Friday, October 22, 2010

What We Learned In School

From Virginia's History,  a 1957 4th-grade textbook published by Scribner's:
Northern and Southern people did not think alike about slavery. The Northern people did not need much help to work their small farms. The planters in Virginia and in the South needed many men to work for them. They had slaves to do their work.
By this time many people knew that slavery was wrong. But the planters did not know how they could free their slaves and keep their plantations going. Some people in the North said that the Southern people had to free their slaves no matter what happened to their plantations. The South said that the North had no right to tell them what to do. They believed that each state had the right to decide how the people were to live in that state. So the North and the South quarreled about the rights that each state had.
People in the South grew more and more angry with the North. The people of all the states had certain rights under the United States Constitution, but the people in the South believed that their rights were being taken from them. South Carolina and some other states decided the only way to keep their rights was to leave the United States and start a new nation. This new nation was called the Confederate States of America.
Virginians loved the United States and did not want to leave it. But Virginians wanted people in every state to have their rights.
Some of the Negro servants left the plantations because they heard that President Lincoln was going to set them free. But most of the Negroes stayed on the plantations and went on with their work. Some of them risked their lives to protect the white people they loved.
In 2010, little has changed about the inherent dynamic: The rights and needs of property and property owners trump not only human rights, but simple human decency. Property rights were a defining factor of the American Revolution, and the debate between property rights has been the subject of constitutional debate in this country for more than 200 years. That this remains so is not exactly to our credit; it's not even a question in European democracies. They drew inspiration from the mighty cannonade of the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man; in comparison, the shot heard round the world was a popgun burst. (Even so, when it came to slavery and colonialism, France's record is no more a source of pride than it would be for any other western power.)

The above five paragraphs are fraught with the rhetorical contortions that worked their ways into the thought processes of southern white children: 
  • the elevation of property rights over human rights. (Most notably, "The planters in Virginia and in the South needed many men to work for them. They had slaves to do their work." One might add the words "for them" to the last sentence) 
  • the distinction made between "Southern people" and "slaves"
  • the elevation of the abstraction of states' right over the obscene reality of slavery
  • the position that rights were something for and to be determined by the white people of Virginia, with the no doubt differing views of the slaves not a legitimate part of the equation
  • the creation of a new sovereign "nation" on constitutional grounds, thus establishing the illusion that the Civil War was fought between two countries instead of within one
  • the transformation of "slaves" to "servants"
  • the steadfast refusal to acknowledge the "white people" in question as "white masters"
  • promulgation of the utter fantasy that "most Negroes" remained on plantations out of love for their masters -- which is like saying that most Cambodians went willingly to the Killing Fields out of love for the Khmer Rouge.
Think of this blather, along with an almost comically misplaced sense of victimization, being drilled into millions of little white heads as part of their way of life, and you can understand how today's southern reactionaries have become so skilled at deploying coded language to mask the vileness that underlies their definition of Americanism...

A lot of lies to pack into five paragraphs written for 9-year olds, but that didn't deter the authors of Virginia's History one bit. Nor, evidently, did the task daunt this "fairly respected writer," creator of such masterworks as Oh Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty and Oh Yikes! History's Grossest Moments...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Great Endings: Modern Times

Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard, going down the road feeling good:

Epic/Brutal Dept: The first two minutes and thirty seconds are the epitome of a tormented soul that wants to believe every word she sings and just can't. Unfortunately, the final minute is all cliched bombast. But judge for yourself:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

White Country, Indiana

The Cosgray family has had it, by God. Unlike the rest of of us, they raised their children right (and I do mean right), teaching them "values." (My kids apparently missed out on that.)  Moreover, the Cosgrays, residents of White Country -- excuse me, County -- Indiana, also taught Alex, Tyler, Rachel, and little Nichole that "you don't rely on the government." It's said with a combination of smugness and reproach, as if they know that there are irresponsible parents out there who knowingly expose their innocent children to the dastardly clutches of an intrusive government.

Laura Cosgray organizes for the Tea Party, dreams of a senatorial candidate to the right of Richard Lugar (the apostate with an American Conservative Union lifetime score of 77), bakes snickerdoodles, and waits for Sam Cosgray to come home from his job with Caterpillar. The Cosgrays then -- say what? Did someone say that Sam works for Caterpillar? The company that has raked in 1.7 billion in defense contracts since 2000? The company that would have laid off even more than the 20,000 workers it did lay off if not for the stimulus? The company that has a collaborative arrangement with Mitsubishi, which has no doubt benefited greatly from official Japanese industrial policy?

Sounds to me like Sammy couldn't get out of bed without the government. In fact, he needs two governments just to brush his teeth in the morning. Or maybe it's one to brush his teeth and the other to wipe his snickerdoodle. The Cosgrays, it turns out, are pious frauds.

Judging from the admiring portrait on, White Country -- County -- is lousy with frauds, pious and otherwise. Seattle may be on the sinful left coast, a too-close-for-comfort 800 miles from Sodom Francisco, but better that than the fate of Indianapolis: It's 74 miles from White Country...

The Guitar Song, Jamey Johnson. One of the more ambitious country albums of this or any other year. Johnson puts his considerable honky tonk chops on display immediately (Chris Whitley's "Lonely at the Top"), then begins a trek through the folk and blues roots of country music, with occasional detours into introspective guitar workouts and intriguing reworkings of old favorites like "Mental Revenge" and "Sunday Morning Coming Down." Throughout, Johnson adopts a convincing proletarian persona; the result is an album that is both authentic and original. Highly recommended.

This one goes out to the Cosgrays:

Waylon has something to say about the Cosgrays, too:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teabaggery in Action

The first Asian member of the Nevada state legislature:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Funnies and Arts

In 2000, then U.S. Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers opined that the keys to avoiding a financial crisis were
well-capitalized and supervised banks, effective corporate governance and bankruptcy codes, and credible means of contract enforcement.
He was right as far as it goes, but, as Paul Krugman writes, the United States had none of the above. In fact, the rule of law does not appear to apply to a finance sector that seizes homes not in arrears...

Lance Dickie argues that all the Republicans have to offer to return to the the policies that got us into this mess. It's a perfectly obvious and rational perspective offered to an increasingly irrational electorate obsessed with conspiracy theories...


Color block...

Ziegfeld doll Doris Eaton up close and personal...

Q for "quotation"...

Bus on Gray's Creek Road...

Three views of Morrison Street (Portland, OR)...

Roy's World is full of iron, stone, and wood...

Nirvana is All Apologies...

Emmylou, Dolly, and Linda sing "To Know Him Is To Love Him"...

Miles is unhappy that the band isn't ready, but it sounds pretty good to me. From 1964, with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams: