Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kate Michelman: Victory's Cost: Healthcare and Abortion Rights

A good column here UU Mom ought read. The issue for me is not so much Abortion, but the reality we've now empowered the Government to make decisions between patient and provider government ill-suited to make.

I respect the anti-abortion argument, put best here by Rep. Lipinski (getting his share of hate emails too, you can be sure),
Being a pro-life Democrat must be a lot like being a pro-life newspaper columnist. Sometimes you get awfully chilly.

"It's not just about being against something, it's believing that every individual deserves dignity and respect, whoever they are, at whatever stage of life they're in," Lipinski said. "That is something I hear my Democratic colleagues say. And I say that it's self-evident that the individual is there at conception."
Yet I'm still pro-Choice (although I'd sure restrict late term, partial birth abortions) because the government can't ask a mother to bear the risks of child birth. Abortion a clash of rights and that's when Government ought tread lightly.

Now we've got an Exec Order which may or may not dramatically limit access to abortions (read Michelman) but what's for sure is now we have the principle of a President's heavy hand coming between patient and provider. So who is to say this kind of moral rationing of care won't be applied to STDs, or Smoking related cancers? That's the path Obama's set us upon. A financially unsustainable system riff with authoritarianism.

Progressive maybe, but awfully illiberal.

Max Bacus on the income leveling effect of Obama Care

A slurring Sen Max Bacus on the income leveling effect of Obama Care. You gotta wonder if he was clear eyed enough to decide who won, who lost, as he leveled our incomes. If Democrats have a clue, or if Chicago style, the Where's Mine? was settled back room. H/T RBO


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Iraq: The Secularist Wins


It's not a real Democracy until powers changed hands a few times but Iraqis have sure dispelled the notion Democracy in a Shia land would lead to fundamentalist regime beholden to Iran. With Hakim and the Sadrist firmly in third place, it seems Iraqi's picking moderation. The picture of Allawi and VP Al Hashimi from Al Hashimi's facebook page. No word on Chicagoan Ahim Alsammare who was running on Allawi's list for the City of Sammara. Results via Iraq the Model,
Adding the 7 compensatory seats, the final picture looks like this:

Allawi: 89+2=91
Maliki: 87+2=89
Hakim+Sadr: 68+2=70
PUK+KDP: 42+1=43
Change (Goran): 8
Tawafok (Accord): 6
Iraq Unity (Bolani): 4
Islamic Union (Kurdish): 4
Islamic Group (Kurdish): 2
Minorities: 8
============
Total: 325

More for UU Mom: The ObamaCare Writedowns

My retired CWA-member neighbor was fuming today.... just what some Northern Illinois towns and counties with 20% plus unemployment need (Max Armstrong on the radio last night talking about Belvidere 25%, Montgomery 20%). Oh there's a lot wrong with this bill UU Mom. Via WSJ
....Henry Waxman and House Democrats announced yesterday that they will haul these companies in for an April 21 hearing because their judgment "appears to conflict with independent analyses, which show that the new law will expand coverage and bring down costs."

In other words, shoot the messenger. Black-letter financial accounting rules require that corporations immediately restate their earnings to reflect the present value of their long-term health liabilities, including a higher tax burden. Should these companies have played chicken with the Securities and Exchange Commission to avoid this politically inconvenient reality? Democrats don't like what their bill is doing in the real world, so they now want to intimidate CEOs into keeping quiet.

On top of AT&T's $1 billion, the writedown wave so far includes Deere & Co., $150 million; Caterpillar, $100 million; AK Steel, $31 million; 3M, $90 million; and Valero Energy, up to $20 million. Verizon has also warned its employees about its new higher health-care costs, and there will be many more in the coming days and weeks.

As Joe Biden might put it, this is a big, er, deal for shareholders and the economy. The consulting firm Towers Watson estimates that the total hit this year will reach nearly $14 billion, unless corporations cut retiree drug benefits when their labor contracts let them.

Violent Language: ACLU on Blowing Up the Military Commissions



Footnote: my back-and-forth a few years ago with Chicago area Progressives and their use of a picture of Samuel Fielding inciting the crowd while the bomb goes off at Chicago's Haymarket Square. They use a picture of flowers now instead.

ObamaCare and the Butterballs

UU Mom tells me ObamaCare won't bring the Government in between patient and provider yet the Prez's first act aftere singing was an Executive Order between Patient and Provider on abortion.

Oh yeah, these guys will weasel there way into the exam room. Through a terminal, with a protocol, evidenced-based for sure; but evidence driven by some social-engineer's agenda for sure. Girth become social parasitism. What a brave new world...

via Business & Media Institute,
While the White House is making its last pushes for health care reform to be passed in Congress – a campaign against the so-called obesity epidemic has been ramped up in political circles. The media have played along, of course. First Lady Michelle Obama recently made an unusual appearance on the Fox News Channel about this issue.

But in all the obesity hand wringing some bizarre remarks from an important person were overlooked. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a White House adviser and the older brother to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, told the New York Times “Freakonomics Radio” recently that this condition has a broader impact on our lives, specifically the economy. (h/t Stuart James)

“I mean, we’re all focused on health care, diabetes and heart disease,” Emanuel said on Feb. 25. “But, there’s all sorts of things like the simple that, you know – heavier people – transportation is more, so there’s more spent on gasoline, more on jet fuel.”

Emanuel, a bioethicist at the American National Institutes of Health, explained that it’s not just energy costs, but also infrastructure.

“People have had to change, ah you know, the size of doorways, the size of chairs on airplanes and at sports stadiums,” Emanuel said. “So there’s a lot of hidden costs as well to the increasing girth of Americans.

Sometimes things just work out

As an exurbanite who didn't go overboard with mortgages, this makes me happy. It'll be a good decade before I'm at risk for developers building houses-on-steroids beyond most buyers means. I'll still have my views of corn and soybeans. Via Crains Chicago Business,
Past American recessions call to mind images of poor farmers forced off their land by heartless bankers. But this time, instead of "Grapes of Wrath" migrations or Farm Aid concerts, farmers around Chicago are buying back the land — at rock-bottom prices — from shell-shocked banks.

Ask Don Werner. Late last year, he bought back his 106-acre family farm from Bank of America Corp. at a quarter of the price a developer paid him just two years earlier.

"It's all about timing," says Mr. Werner, 52, who grows corn and soybeans on his southern Will County farm. "It's not that we're smarter than anyone else. Sometimes things just work out."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

O'Bomba shirts and the purveyors of hate, fear mongers, etc....


A few pictures from Zombie's extensive collection from the San Francisco anti-war rally. So how do these folks excape the analysts couch as purveyors of hate, fear mongers, and so on smearing President Obama?

I'm sure there was more than one UU out with this crowd... would we be appalled if these folks balked at letting a President O'Bomba speak to our kids in their classrooms?

Dissent is dissent, and a clever, snarky sloagen just fine.

Quit smearing we UUs who find the Health Care takeover a very illiberal thing to do.. with little benefit to those in need, and a whole lot of benefit to those who will profit handsomely off it.... AARP peddling Medi-gap for starters...then Pharma, and the AMA who will soon come cap-in-hand on the Doc Fix for which they should be sent packing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Heritage health care implementation timeline

Handy sheet...it's a pdf file

So why to those two insurers in Nebraska and one in Michigan get exempted from the Annual Tax?

The devil (and deals) are in the details... maybe plan members in Nebraska and Michigan more deserving on a tax that will almost certainly hit others in their premiums.

Social Justice, or Chicago-Way where's mine? justice?

For all this talk of fear, why sign the Exec Order on Abortion in private?

So who's the Prez afraid of that he has to sign this order almost clandstinely?
Unlike yesterday's bill-signing celebrations in the East Room and the Department of the Interior, the president signed this executive action behind closed doors, with nary a camera present and no reporters allowed.

Obama pledged to sign it in exchange for the votes of anti-abortion Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who will be present at the signing today.
...that he foolishly wove the most divisive issue in America in a generation into his "reform" of health care? We'll face another generation of culture clash over this. Liberalism will not fair well either unless it can get itself right with HHH's old definition,
It was once said that the moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped," which is sometimes described as the "liberals' mantra."
Those expert panels ever get off the ground using their evidence-based clinical algorithims to deny care to the elderly in the name of effectiveness, and those gov clinics start offering abortions, we'll be in for a heck of a clash over care at the dawn and shadows of life.

A tough one to hide from... it will take a profile in courage, or the good sense to have crafted reform that doesn't get government entangled in these clinical decisions between patient and provider.

Execs of big-Gov or little prefer to hide if they can when it comes to moral stuff --with rare exceptions and Obama not one-- while the dialectic of ever improving Health Care technology will just hammer them harder regardless. Bioethical choices will only become harder and more complex

Unless the Panels and Commission succeed in strangling innovation too...

David Brooks starts the Value Added Tax talk and his Royal "We"

Brooks yesterday,
Nobody knows how this bill will work out. It is an undertaking exponentially more complex than the Iraq war, for example. But to me, it feels like the end of something, not the beginning of something. It feels like the noble completion of the great liberal project to build a comprehensive welfare system.

The task ahead is to save this country from stagnation and fiscal ruin. We know what it will take. We will have to raise a consumption tax. We will have to preserve benefits for the poor and cut them for the middle and upper classes. We will have to invest more in innovation and human capital.
Expect a whole lot more on the coming consumption tax to solve the fiscal problems and empower the "We" to make all those investment decisions from the proceeds to save the poor, and innovate. So who exactly is Brooks "We" and what wondrous algorithm will "We" use to allocate the billions?

Remember these guys are from Illinois and they tend to make decisions with things like Arne Duncan's lists.
When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan ran the Chicago Public Schools for the boss of Chicago, he kept a secret list of those who hoped to clout children into the city's top-tier public schools.

"We didn't want to advertise what we were doing because we didn't want a bunch of people calling," CPS official David Pickens admitted to Tribune reporters Azam Ahmed and Stephanie Banchero, who broke the story.

So the schools kept a clout list. But they didn't want nobody nobody sent hassling them with calls.

And once again, the bright road that is the Chicago Way is paved with shiny bricks for all to see.

Chicago Daily Observer: From the People Who Brought You Tony Rezko and Stuart Levine: 111 New Federal Boards and Commissions

Ya gotta be from Chicago to apprecicate how Fricking Golden Boards and Commissions can be for doling out patronage. CDO lists 'em all with ObamaCare... resumes ready? Start kicking points to the party heavy hitters first! Then get your shot at setting reimbursement policy.
1. Retiree Reserve Trust Fund (Section 111(d), p. 61)
2. Grant program for wellness programs to small employers (Section 112, p. 62)
3. Grant program for State health access programs (Section 114, p. 72)
4. Program of administrative simplification (Section 115, p. 76)
5. Health Benefits Advisory Committee (Section 223, p. 111)
6. Health Choices Administration (Section 241, p. 131)
7. Qualified Health Benefits Plan Ombudsman (Section 244, p. 138)
8. Health Insurance Exchange (Section 201, p. 155)
9. Technical assistance to employees of small businesses buying Exchange coverage (Section 305(h), p. 191)
10. Insurance risk pooling to be established by Health Choices Commissioner (Section 306(b), p. 194)
11. Health Insurance Exchange Trust Fund (Section 307, p. 195)
12. State-based Health Insurance Exchanges (Section 308, p. 197)
13. Grant program for health insurance cooperatives (Section 310, p. 206)
14. Public Health Insurance Option (Section 321, p. 211)
15. Ombudsman for Public Health Insurance Option (Section 321(d), p. 213)
16. Account for receipts and disbursements for Public Health Insurance Option (Section 322(b), p. 215)
17. Tele health Advisory Committee (Section 1191 (b), p. 589)
18. Demonstration program providing for culturally and linguistically appropriate services (Sec 1222, p. 617)
19. Demonstration program for shared decision making using patient decision aids (Section 1236, p. 648)
20. Accountable Care Organization pilot program under Medicare (Section 1301, p. 653)
21. Independent patient-centered medical home pilot program under Medicare (Section 1302, p. 672)
22. Community-based medical home pilot program under Medicare (Section 1302(d), p. 681)
23. Independence at home demonstration program (Section 1312, p. 718)
24. Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research (Section 1401(a), p. 734)
25. Comparative Effectiveness Research Commission (Section 1401(a), p. 738)
26. Patient ombudsman for comparative effectiveness research (Section 1401(a), p. 753)
27. Q/A and performance improvement program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 1412 (b)(1), p. 784)
28. Q/A and performance improvement program for nursing facilities (Section 1412 (b)(2), p. 786)
29. Special focus facility program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 1413(a)(3), p. 796)
30. Special focus facility program for nursing facilities (Section 1413(b)(3), p. 804)
31. Independent monitor pilot program for skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities (Section 1422, p. 859)
32. Demonstration program for approved teaching health centers for Medicare GME (Section 1502(d), p. 933)
33. Pilot program to develop anti-fraud compliance systems for Medicare providers (Section 1635, p. 978)
34. Special Inspector General for the Health Insurance Exchange (Section 1647, p. 1000)
35. Medical home pilot program under Medicaid (Section 1722, p. 1058)
36. Accountable Care Organization pilot program under Medicaid (Section 1730A, p. 1073)
37. Nursing facility supplemental payment program (Section 1745, p. 1106)
38. Demonstration program for Medicaid medical conditions for mental diseases (Sec 1787, p. 1149)
39. Comparative Effectiveness Research Trust Fund (Section 1802, p. 1162)
40. Identifiable office or program for coordination between Medicare and Medicaid (Section 1905, p. 1191)
41. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Section 1907, p. 1198)
42. Public Health Investment Fund (Section 2002, p. 1214)
43. Scholarships for service in health professional needs areas (Section 2211, p. 1224)
44. Program for training medical residents in community-based settings (Section 2214, p. 1236)
45. Grant program for training in dentistry programs (Section 2215, p. 1240)
46. Public Health Workforce Corps (Section 2231, p. 1253)
47. Public health workforce scholarship program (Section 2231, p. 1254)
48. Public health workforce loan forgiveness program (Section 2231, p. 1258)
49. Grant program for innovations in interdisciplinary care (Section 2252, p. 1272)
50. Advisory Committee on Health Workforce Evaluation and Assessment (Section 2261, p. 1275)
51. Prevention and Wellness Trust (Section 2301, p. 1286)
52. Clinical Prevention Stakeholders Board (Section 2301, p. 1295)
53. Community Prevention Stakeholders Board (Section 2301, p. 1301)
54. Grant program for community prevention and wellness research (Section 2301, p. 1305)
55. Grant program for research and demonstration projects for wellness incentives (Section 2301, p. 1305)
56. Grant program for community prevention and wellness services (Section 2301, p. 1308)
57. Grant program for public health infrastructure (Section 2301, p. 1313)
58. Center for Quality Improvement (Section 2401, p. 1322)
59. Assistant Secretary for Health Information (Section 2402, p. 1330)
60. Grant program to support the operation of school-based health clinics (Section 2511, p. 1352)
61. Grant program for nurse-managed health centers (Section 2512, p. 1361)
62. Grants for labor-management programs for nursing training (Section 2521, p. 1372)
63. Grant program for interdisciplinary mental and behavioral health training (Section 2522, p. 1382)
64. No Child Left Unimmunized Against Influenza demonstration grant program (Section 2524, p. 1391)
65. Healthy Teen Initiative grant program regarding teen pregnancy (Section 2526, p. 1398)
66. Grant program for interdisciplinary training, education, and services for autism (Section 2527(a), p. 1402)
67. University centers for excellence in developmental disabilities education (Section 2527(b), p. 1410)
68. Grant program to implement medication therapy management services (Section 2528, p. 1412)
69. Grant program to promote positive health behaviors in underserved communities (Section 2530, p. 1422)
70. Grant program for State alternative medical liability laws (Section 2531, p. 1431)
71. Grant program to develop infant mortality programs (Section 2532, p. 1433)
72. Grant program to prepare secondary school students for health care training (Section 2533, p. 1437)
73. Grant program for community-based collaborative care (Section 2534, p. 1440)
74. Grant program for community-based overweight and obesity prevention (Section 2535, p. 1457)
75. Grant program for reducing the student-to-school nurse ratio (Section 2536, p. 1462)
76. Demonstration project of grants to medical-legal partnerships (Section 2537, p. 1464)
77. Center for Emergency Care (Section 2552, p. 1478)
78. Council for Emergency Care (Section 2552, p 1479)
79. Grant program to support demonstration programs for regionalized emergency care (Section 2553, p. 1480)
80. Grant program to assist veterans who wish to become EMTs (Section 2554, p. 1487)
81. Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (Section 2562, p. 1494)
82. National Medical Device Registry (Section 2571, p. 1501)
83. CLASS Independence Fund (Section 2581, p. 1597)
84. CLASS Independence Fund Board of Trustees (Section 2581, p. 1598)
85. CLASS Independence Advisory Council (Section 2581, p. 1602)
86. Health and Human Services Coordinating Committee on Womens Health (Section 2588, p. 1610)
87. National Womens Health Information Center (Section 2588, p. 1611)
88. Centers for Disease Control Office of Womens Health (Section 2588, p. 1614)
89. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Office of Womens Health Research (Section 2588, p. 1617)
90. Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Womens Health (Section 2588, p. 1618)
91. Food and Drug Administration Office of Womens Health (Section 2588, p. 1621)
92. Personal Care Attendant Workforce Advisory Panel (Section 2589(a)(2), p. 1624)
93. Grant program for national health workforce online training (Section 2591, p. 1629)
94. Grant program to disseminate best practices on implementing health workforce (Section 2591, p. 1632)
95. Demonstration program for chronic shortages of health professionals (Section 3101, p. 1717)
96. Demonstration program for substance abuse counselor educational curricula (Section 3101, p. 1719)
97. Program of Indian community education on mental illness (Section 3101, p. 1722)
98. Intergovernmental Task Force on Indian environmental and nuclear hazards (Section 3101, p. 1754)
99. Office of Indian Mens Health (Section 3101, p. 1765)
100. Indian Health facilities appropriation advisory board (Section 3101, p. 1774)
101. Indian Health facilities needs assessment workgroup (Section 3101, p. 1775)
102. Indian Health Service tribal facilities joint venture demonstration projects (Section 3101, p. 1809)
103. Urban youth treatment center demonstration project (Section 3101, p. 1873)
104. Grants to Urban Indian Organizations for diabetes prevention (Section 3101, p. 1874)
105. Grants to Urban Indian Organizations for health IT adoption (Section 3101, p. 1877)
106. Mental health technician training program (Section 3101, p. 1898)
107. Indian youth telemental health demonstration project (Section 3101, p. 1909)
108. Program for treatment of child sexual abuse victims and perpetrators (Section 3101, p. 1925)
109. Program for treatment of domestic violence and sexual abuse (Section 3101, p. 1927)
110. Native American Health and Wellness Foundation (Section 3103, p. 1966)
111. Committee for the Native American Health and Wellness Foundation (Section 3103, p. 1968)

Yalla Peace: Act like citizens, not foreigners By Ray Hannania

I copied in full from Ray's facebook page. I'm sure he won't mind. Great column by a funny guy from Chicago.
Yalla Peace: Act like citizens, not foreigners
By RAY HANANIA
23/03/2010 22:28

Arab citizens of Israel are in a unique position to help their people by being advocates for change, in Israel and in the region.

Israelis always tell me that “all citizens of Israel” are treated equally. They insist that although Israel is a “Jewish state,” non-Jews are treated with respect and equality.

Of course, that isn’t true. But it sounds good on paper. When it comes to how Israel mistreats its non-Jewish citizens, most Jews have their heads buried in the sand, with a finger on the trigger.

The reality is that non-Jewish citizens are discriminated against routinely.

It bothers me that Israeli citizenship cards have special codes to separate Jews from non-Jews. That violates the whole principle of “citizenship,” although the reason is clear, to make it easier to discriminate.

The Mossawa Center, an Arab Israeli group that monitors Arab citizen rights (and whose Arabic name means “equality”), recently released another scathing report showing that non-Jews in Israel are discriminated against.

It cites the increase of racist bills introduced in the Knesset attacking “free speech,” mainly that of “Arab citizens.”

• If a citizen denies the existence of Israel, he can be imprisoned for one year.

• If a citizen violates “loyalty to Israel,” he can have his citizenship revoked. I guess in conjunction with the first bill, he would be imprisoned for a year and then kicked out of the country.

• Government money would be denied to citizen groups that act in a way that express views like the “Nakba,” the Arabic word for “catastrophe” that refers to 1948 when Israel was created and more than 400 Arab villages were erased.

With a few other examples that are purely included because of the conflict, the report makes things sound really bad.

A BIG part of the problem, though, is that Arabs and Jews are not really different. We often do not agree, but we’re in the middle of a conflict and tensions are a fact of life.

So how much responsibility do the Arab citizens of Israel share in letting this disparity in free speech and democracy take place?

A big part of the problem is the Arab citizens themselves. They don’t help matters much. Arabs claim to want to be citizens, but they act like foreigners.

More often than not, extremist Arab activists in the West and Arab world urge Arab citizens in Israel to boycott Israeli elections and not vote.

So who is to blame when extremist Jews take control? The Jewish extremists or the misguided Arab citizens who listen to the loser activists in the Arab world?

“Denial” is the reality of Palestinian life. If we just pretend something isn’t there, it might go away. What we want to go away is the fact that over the past century, Arab policy toward Palestine has been characterized by one word. Losers! Arab culture has embraced the phenomena of its own failure by blaming someone else. Being a louder victim is a better choice in these circumstances for Palestinians than to work harder to participate in Israeli society and bring about change.

The Arabs are not doing their best. They embrace stupid policies like “normalization” – a hateful code-word used by Palestinians to describe any Arab who dares treat an Israeli like a “normal person.” It’s racist, too, because it suggests that all Jews are bad.

Many Arabs criticize my moderate views, not by engaging in the facts and issues I raise, but by pointing to the fact that my wife and son are Jews.

Many Arab comedians won’t participate with me because I perform with Israelis, not just Jews. Many Arab activists exclude me because I advocate two states rather than one.

Oh. Did I forget to mention that I write for a “Zionist newspaper” like The Jerusalem Post?

I HAVE learned to ignore these moronic critics in the Palestinian and Arab world because although they dominate the “vocal landscape,” they are the demographic minority. The problem is that most Arabs fear challenging the extremist minority. It’s easier to be silent than to stand up for what is right.

What should Arabs in Israel do? Stop acting like the rest of the Arab world.

Stop listening to the failed Palestinian activists who live in Europe and the United States. Those activists live in luxury, yet are the first to tell Palestinian refugees it is better to live in squalor by rejecting compromise based on two states than to live in their own state where they can focus on improving their lives. If the conflict were ever resolved, most Palestinian rejectionists would be unemployed. So continuing the conflict is in their best interests.

If Arab citizens of Israel want their rights, they should recognize reality. Stop boycotting elections. Stop spreading hatred against Jews as an answer to Jewish discrimination against Arabs. Stop placing all the blame on a handful of Jewish racists in the Knesset. And stop exaggerating racism by including examples that are purely political, like Israelis declaring that Jerusalem is their eternal capital.

You can always find an example of hatred, if you ignore the more frequent examples of common sense.

Arab citizens of Israel are in a unique position to help their people, not by embracing the failed policies of the Arab world and the Palestinian rejectionists, but by being advocates for change, change in Israel and change in the Arab world.

Stand up and tell the activists you support compromise, two states and the sharing of Jerusalem.

The Palestinians under occupation are under siege, and not just by Israel’s military. The extremist Islamists like Hamas are growing in power. Their goal isn’t just to destroy Israel, but to also to destroy Palestinian and Arab secular life.

Start protesting on the streets, not just against the bigotry and racism that surrounds your lives in Israel. Oppose the extremism that dominates the Arab world and the fatalistic policies of the Palestinian rejectionists, who are doing everything they can to block peace.

If the Arabs of Israel stood up as one, engaged the system fully and started to think and speak for themselves, not only would they have more rights in Israel, we might also have peace.

Named Best Ethnic Columnist in America by New America Media, the writer is a Palestinian-American columnist and peace activist. He can be reached at www.YallaPeace.com

Paul Ryan on the steep climb to reclaim the American Idea

As the guy who used to audit the Medicaid budgets for Wisconsin and Michigan, I can confirm rights --like a right to Health Care paid by another-- granted by the Government aren't rights at all. What the Gov givith, the Gov's bean-counters can taketh, and much much of this law will be adjudicated by meek looking auditors; spreadsheets in hand.

Lemon Socialism: AIG Exec Salaries

Why in the world aren't we capping these guys at a the top of the Federal Executive scale: $180k or there abouts instead of $500k? Read AIG: Increases Pay for Most Top Managers Who Remained
Exceptions to the $500,000 cap were made for those deemed critical to AIG’s success, including Benmosche, whose compensation was unchanged from last year’s $7 million salary and $3.5 million in long-term incentives. Five other AIG executives had base cash salaries of $500,000 or more in 2010, according to the Treasury document. AIG is majority-owned by the U.S. after a rescue that has swelled to $182.3 billion.
And why aren't we distributing the Fed's share of AIG stock to every American's 401k plan? There was a bill in the house to do that last year I think.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hayder Al-Khoei: Just another day in Baghdad

Hayder Al-Khoek, the son of martyred Ayatollah Al-Khoei, is back blogging over at Eye Raki, and writes Now you see?
It is 9am on December 8th 1998 in the city of Nasiriya in Southern Iraq. An order is given to Fedayeen Saddam – ‘Saddam’s Men of Sacrifice’ - to behead Abdul-Hassan Misbah, Ehsan Hussain and Mohammed Subhi. Their hands are tied behind their backs, their feet tied together and they are blindfolded. They are carried to a concrete block with their heads hanging over the road like sheep to the slaughter.

Fedayeen, over a dozen of them all dressed in black with masks covering their faces, crowd the condemned. They hold them in place and shift their bodies accordingly to get the ideal position. Before the victims are executed a member of the Fedayeen uses a set of tools to pull out their tongues and then proceeds to cut them. The three men seem resigned to their fate and do not put up any resistance. They do not shake, jolt or even twitch. It is almost as if they died before they died. Whilst one is having his tongue cut off the other is already being hacked to death by a sword-wielding Fedaye who starts from behind the neck until the head is decapitated.

Once they conclude with the heads the Fedayeen hold onto them as trophies and start dancing around them with the enjoyment, excitement and amusement you would expect in a wedding. Their bodies were not even returned to their families. When the mother went to the Fedayeen centre asking for her son she was told he was a traitor to his country and that his body should not just have been thrown to the dogs, but also burnt. The mother finally found her son’s body after Saddam was toppled. Head buried beside body.

This was just another day in Nasiriya.
The video can be found on YouTube and Eye Raki has a few stills from it. It was shown at recent de-Baathification trials and proved too much for one of the defendants. Ahh so, Now you See... just another Day in Baghdad's trial.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Peace Making: AG Holder declares "take no prisoners".

Holder's pretty troubling guy.
Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress on Tuesday that Osama bin Laden will never face trial in the United States because he will not be captured alive.

In testy exchanges with House Republicans, the attorney general compared terrorists to mass murderer Charles Manson and predicted that events would ensure "we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden" not to the al-Qaida leader as a captive.
One way to avoid Gitmo issues. Just shoot the captives.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Caddell and Schoen: If Democrats ignore health-care polls, midterms will be costly

From their WaPo column,
As pollsters to the past two Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, respectively, we feel compelled to challenge the myths that seem to be prevailing in the political discourse and to once again urge a change in course before it is too late. At stake is the kind of mainstream, common-sense Democratic Party that we believe is crucial to the success of the American enterprise.

Bluntly put, this is the political reality:

First, the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate's reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.
...and the final para...
For Democrats to begin turning around their political fortunes there has to be a frank acknowledgement that the comprehensive health-care initiative is a failure, regardless of whether it passes. There are enough Republican and Democratic proposals -- such as purchasing insurance across state lines, malpractice reform, incrementally increasing coverage, initiatives to hold down costs, covering preexisting conditions and ensuring portability -- that can win bipartisan support. It is not a question of starting over but of taking the best of both parties and presenting that as representative of what we need to do to achieve meaningful reform. Such a proposal could even become a template for the central agenda items for the American people: jobs and economic development.

Unless the Democrats fundamentally change their approach, they will produce not just a march of folly but also run the risk of unmitigated disaster in November.
I'm betting on unmitigated disaster on a scale I haven't seen since 1974, and worse really because this will be a collapse of ideas; not Nixonian bungling. An intellectual tradition showing itself spent.

The disaster won't leave UUism untouched either.

Kucinich Resolution to withdraw forces from Afghanistan in 30 Days Fails, 365-65

Bill Foster Il-14 supported President Obama and voted against Kuccinich's resolution. via ABC,
ABC News' Kristina Wong reports: The House Wednesday overwhelmingly defeated a resolution to set a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

The resolution, authored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, called for the removal of all U.S. troops within 30 days of its adoption, but gave the president until Dec. 31, 2010 to pull out the military if the 30-day deadline was considered unsafe.
Only five GOPers voted against the resolution so America's United. Not quite the deep divisions some would have us believe. The Party stood squarely with President Obama and the Democrats. I count Ill Dems voting against as: Foster, Hare, Lipinski, Manzullo, Bean, and Halvorson.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rev Cyn on Catholic Communion

This,
Third: Communion. And, again, I wonder at those who choose to stay in a religion that has this attitude, but that aside... Now, I don't know the ins and outs of the Catholic's policies and procedures about giving communion. But I thought communion was open to anyone Catholic. If such, it should be open to gay people, as well. To deny it would be to violate the deepest understanding of the religion, I would think. But if the Catholic church says, well, you have to confess your sins first, and then you can have communion, well, then, if you're gay and you confess that, then you should have communion, if being gay is considered a sin. Either way, give gay people communion. You give communion to every other sinner, right? Some of them are still cheating on their spouses. Some of them are still stealing from their office. Yet they get communion. Period.
...a woefully misinformed rant on Catholicism and Communion.

My invalid Mother-in-law would not take communion if she had missed Mass. The Priest told her not too.

She didn't stay away from the Alter because of what she was: a housebound-invalid, but because she was not right with the Church at that moment.

She didn't see communion as a right. Priests don't give it to people either way.

I respect that. I don't think Rev Cyn quite gets that.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Jonathan M. Metzl: The Language of Addiction in the Bombast of the Right or Dismissed them on psychiatric grounds redux

Like potholes in springtime, the Democrat's agenda stalls and they lay Conservatives on a couch: Jonathan M. Metzl: The Language of Addiction in the Bombast of the Right. Recall my post Dismissed them on psychiatric grounds

Quoting E J Dionne,
The late Christopher Lasch, one of Hofstadter's students and an admiring critic, noted that by conducting "political criticism in psychiatric categories," Hofstadter and his intellectual allies excused themselves "from the difficult work of judgment and argumentation."

Lasch added archly: "Instead of arguing with opponents, they simply dismissed them on psychiatric grounds."
That's the great crack up many UU's headed for if they can't take on the task of judging and arguing what's worked, what hasn't during this past year. Can't fall back on Liberalism's old psuedo-psychiatric analysis of the right. That time is gone... Liberalism's gig's up. Obama's tried and the ACLU's morphing him as Bush. Time to figure out what Liberalism / Progressivism is all about today.

Forget Glenn Beck....

John Ruskin Clark, D.D. , What's Wrong with Marcuse's One Dimensional Man?

An interesting sermon on Marcuse (Marcuse's book published by Beacon Press too) delivered in Oct of 1968. Marcuse the father of the new left and 1968 the marker year (for me) when Liberalism fell apart, and all the New Left "isms" and "ologies" took over.

Clark refutes Marcuse but I think Clark lost the battle. An important discussion because the reality of governing under Obama's forcing today's left into a similar reality-check as the one Rev Clark confronted in San Diego in the fall of 68 in Marcuse.

No Frankfort School Prof with an army of kids behind him today shouting the alternative. Not sure how this confrontation with life will turn out for today's left, but a Church with members as heavily invested in Obama in for a real crack up.

I've heard the anguish but blaming Glenn Beck won't resolve it. It's contradiction internal to the ideology. History's harsh dialectic getting ready to sift and winnow for the truth. See if we're as fearless as the old Wisconsin Progressives.

Clark concluded,
The assumptions you and I make about the nature of man - whether he is autonomous or social; about society - whether it is dominating or a democracy of influences; about the validation of our choices - whether it is by our personal decision or by our capacity to survive; about the live-options for the future - whether they can entail freedom from the necessity for making a living for all of us or whether productive work will continue to be a condition of survival; and about the means for inducing social change - whether it should be by revolution or evolution: the assumptions we make in these matter s will make all the difference about what happens in history. And our assumptions had better be right, for upon them will depend what we leave our children.
Well, it's all in the hands of the Children now. We're asked the questions again; and as Clark told us, we had better be right.

Stopping Violence in Bosnia: 1995 Resolution of Immediate of Witness

Worth recalling,
WHEREAS the civil wars in the Balkans have created great atrocities against civilians and particularly women, we condemn these internationally unlawful acts and the warfare between peoples and support the World Court and the United Nations to act in the most effective way to restrain these acts and the war and to bring peace there.
We're a pragmatic faith. We call for the most effective way to restrain acts of war and bring peace.

Standing on the side of the Unemployed

As I prepare to make my pledge calls, it's curious UUA's saying little about unemployment. (Correct me if wrong but here's what's on the UUA Social Justice site.)

I have a feeling a high unemployment rate's going to be with us a long time, and that it takes a toll on Family Life, and weak families a source of violence and oppression.

So I hate to triage injustices deserving attention, but this seems a big one now.... to have so many Americans idle or more unproductive than they would like to be. With little daylight in sight.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Obama praises Iraq elections

via Aswat al-Iraq

Pipe Obama into every American elementary school classroom with this praise of courage.
BAGHDAD / Aswat al-Iraq: President Barack Obama paid tribute to the “courage” of Iraqis who “defied threats to advance their democracy” by voting Sunday in Iraq’s second general election since the 2003 invasion.

“I congratulate the people of Iraq for casting their ballots in this important parliamentary election,” Obama said in his first reaction to the crucial vote.

Iraqis defied waves of bomb, mortar and rocket attacks that killed 38 people to turn out in huge numbers to vote in elections seen as a test of the war-shattered state’s fragile democracy.

“I have great respect for the millions of Iraqis who refused to be deterred by acts of violence, and who exercised their right to vote today,” Obama added in a statement.

“Their participation demonstrates that the Iraqi people have chosen to shape their future through the political process.”

The president also commended the Iraqi government and security forces for providing security at tens of thousands of voting booths and polling stations across the war-torn nation.

“We mourn the tragic loss of life today, and honor the courage and resilience of the Iraqi people who once again defied threats to advance their democracy,” he said.
...and Iraq Pundit notes,
When I read WaPo, I have no idea what election they're covering because I'm certain it's not the Iraqi one. This is what startled me: "The early morning explosions thundered through the capital." Thundered? Come on, people! Didn't you hear the thunder last week? That was genuine thunder that acconpanied rain. That was loud. Today's were more like thuds. (unless you live in Ur, which I don't) They were designed to frighten people into staying away from the polls. And they obviously failed to intimidate voters. Why do reporters engage in this nonsense?
Well, brave none the less.

Peace Making: Iraq, Afghanistan, and a Softer Art of War

John Noonan Via Weekly Standard Blog on Adm Mullins in WaPo,
The U.S. military is posturing itself as the vanguard of American idealism -- it's less an aggressive fighting force than it is a guardian of individual liberties and inalienable rights. During the Cold War, the Armed Forces fulfilled a similar mission, defending free European nations against Soviet tyranny. That required a military which could shred Russian armored columns and mechanized infantry with frightening kinetic power. Today it's the same duty, only on the micro level. Gone are mass formations of M1 tanks and legions of fighter jets, replaced instead with riflemen standing posts in Middle Eastern marketplaces. Tyranny still threatens, but it is in the form of militant zealots even more culturally backwards than the Soviets.

Some have argued that this transformation is the most drastic and remarkable shift in U.S. military history. Perhaps, at least structurally. The core mission is unchanged, as our powerful fighting forces remain an arm of the U.S. constitution, and thus the sword and shield of free people everywhere.
I'd argue the core mission's alawys been the same: the sword and shield of free people everyowhere. We get tactics and strategies tangled some time but the core's remained the same since President Wilson.

Save the Filibuster!

UUA Advocacy News via First Parish Farmington. A google search prompted by CC's comment. Wonder when they'll tell us to flip to love's other side?
>3. SAVE THE FILIBUSTER! "Showdown" Expected Next Week!
>
>Tension is building here in Washington as Republican leadership has
>announced that a "showdown" on the so-called "nuclear option" could come as
>soon as next week (May 16-20). The nuclear option would eliminate the
>filibuster from Senate rules and allow the Senate to confirm judicial
>nominees with a one-vote majority.
>
>Opponents to the provision, including the UUA, are concerned over the
>erosion of civil and religious liberties that would occur if controversial
>nominees including Janice Rogers Brown and Pricilla Owen were confirmed by
>a 51-49 vote. The filibuster protects the right of the minority party to
>oppose judges as well as some controversial legislation, requiring a
>2/3-majority vote. The Senate is expected to debate this crucial rule next
>week. YOUR CALLS ARE NEEDED NOW!
>
>Visit for more
>information, a list of key senators, links to sign on letters and a sample
>letter you can send to your senator today.
>
>Even if you've called before, call your senator again, have your friends
>and neighbors do the same! Let's protect the rights of the minority and
>the voice of all citizens! Save the Filibuster! Visit
>www.saveourcourts.org to take action with ONE CLICK!
>
>**IN RHODE ISLAND OR MAINE??** IF YOU ARE A MINISTER OR LAY LEADER IN RI OR
>ME and interested in opposing the nuclear option, please contact
>mjoiner at uua.org or 202-360-7710 x12 for a state-specific sign on letter to
>your Senators. Please include "NUCLEAR OPTION" as the subject heading of
>your email and let me know a phone number where you can be reached.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Unitarian Universalists strengthing Family Life

It's curious the current draft of the UU Peace Making SOC says NOTHING about families. Afterall, it's within families that we all learn violent or non-violent behaviors. We start there.

Here's a description of the UU's Community Center at Chicago's Leclaire Courts Housing Project. The project closed last year and will be torn down (if not already). Here is a description of the Darrow Centers records over at the University of Illinois.
The Clarence Darrow Community Center (originally the Ryder Community Center) was established to serve the Garfield Ridge community in the city of Chicago. The center began in 1953 as a response to perceived needs of the residents of the Leclaire Courts public housing development. Leclaire Courts, low-rise housing for 616 primarily white families, was opened in 1950 in a relatively undeveloped area on the western edge of the city. The area had no established recreational and social service facilities but a Community Council coordinated the activities of several volunteer organizations, which sponsored clubs and activities for residents of Leclaire Courts. The experiences of the teen Swing-In Club, organized to hold weekly socials, convinced Community Council members of the need for a group work agency with trained social workers.

At the suggestion of Dr. Curtis Reese, Dean Emeritus of the Abraham Lincoln Center, the Community Council appealed to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee to establish a permanent community center. At their August 1953 meeting in Andover, Massachusetts, the Service Committee agreed to sponsor the project. Space was leased from the Chicago Housing Authority at 4410 S. LaPorte and the new center was incorporated in January 1954, and dedicated June 20, 1954. It included a kitchen, library and several multi-purpose rooms. The center was named for Dr. William H. Ryder, a well-respected Universalist minister who worked in Chicago prior to 1900. To ensure community involvement an autonomous, bi-racial, local Board of Directors was created. Board members served one-year terms and were responsible for policy, budget, personnel, and fundraising. Rev. David Cole, minister of the First Universalist Church was the first board president. The initial staff consisted of Rev. Donald Thompson, acting Executive Secretary, a Program Director, and several volunteers. Irene Smith, a trained social worker, became the first Director. Volunteers supplemented the center's small paid staff.

The Ryder Community Center was committed to providing meaningful social and educational activities for the neighborhood, fostering independence and self-reliance, strengthening family life and promoting physical and mental health. The center was non-sectarian and its services were rooted in the belief that social group-work enriched the life of the individual and created harmonious relations with others. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee saw the Center as a "pilot project" to prove the possibility of amicable relations among diverse national and racial groups.

Chaplin John Ruskin Clark: The Act & the Word

From Time Monday, Dec. 09, 1946,
The question popped up again & again: "Is it true that the Roman Catholic chaplains were better men and did a better job in the service than Protestants?" In last week's Christian Century, ex-Navy Chaplain John Ruskin Clark, who served with the Marines, gave an answer that underscored a long-term Protestant problem—for peace as well as war. Excerpts:

". . . The reason Protestant chaplains received less recognition is a clue to the reason Protestant churches as a whole make less impression on the channels of public persuasion. . . .

"It was not the quality of the men who wore the crosses, nor was it solely the amount of money spent in an organized publicity campaign. . . . The Protestant chaplain received less recognition than the Catholic because of the radically different resources with which he worked. The disparity was only more obvious in the service, where the contrasting disciplines were juxtaposed in trying conditions, than it is in civilian life, where we pursue our independent ways. . . .

"There are moments of anxiety when the act is more significant than the word in giving emotional assurance. In the early days of the Okinawa campaign, when our regiment was sweeping through enemy-infested territory, the Catholic chaplain and I visited one of our companies in biivouac. I roamed through the area, greeting and chatting with men.. . The priest, however, was soon surrounded in the conspicuous center of the encampment by kneeling men 'going to confession' and receiving the 'consolation of the holy sacrament.' Something was obviously going on which was meaningful to the Catholics, and impressive to the non-churched as well as to the Catholics."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,793267,00.html#ixzz0hP4KE8UM
...and Ruskin's conclusion,
For an unliturgical Unitarian, ex-Chaplain Clark's conclusion was notable: ". . . Although we cannot accept Catholic authoritarianism, we can and should have an adequate liturgy to minister to human needs, positive instruction, and greater identity of interest among Protestants."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,793267,00.html#ixzz0hP4gIS1V
Also, a wonderful sermon delivered in 1968 by Clark on Herbert Marcuse's One Dimensional Man. Reflects the divide in 1968 with Ruskin on the pre-68 side of things... Marcuse won the UU hearts (my opinion).

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Churches and the War: Dec. 22, 1941

More from Time:
Just 19 months after the Methodist Church, the largest U.S. Protestant denomination, had gone on record that it would never "officially support, endorse or participate in war." its bishops met in Georgia last week, declared: "There can be no peace in the world until totalitarian threat against the liberties of all freedom-loving people is thoroughly eradicated. Our duty, as American citizens, is clear....The Methodists of America will loyally support our President and our nation."

The Methodist shift was paralleled in other churches—and the declaration of war found the clergy even stronger in their support than they were in 1917. This united sentiment was attested by the official heads of each major Protestant denomination in replying unofficially to a questionnaire from TIME. Significantly, however, not one of them directly answered TIME'S question as to whether most ministers feel America is fighting for the cause of righteousness—i.e., whether they were likely to preach a holy war. Apparently the clergy have not forgotten how they got their fingers burned after World War I for preaching a crusade against the Kaiser.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,932019,00.html#ixzz0hD4oPN06

****

Unitarian. Dr. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt, Moderator: "The Unitarians have always admired the Samaritan who bound up the wounds of the stranger set upon by robbers, but today they work to rid the Jericho Road of thieves."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,932019,00.html#ixzz0hD4vW4d0
I'd say ridding the road of thieves righteous work. It's a long road. Many thieves.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

What Is This Neo-Orthodoxy?

Time Magazine May. 06, 1946 Religion: Mental Fight Eleven Unitarian Preachers slug it out with Niebuhr, Barth, and Fulton Sheen,
Betrayal & Defeat? "This (neo-orthodoxy] is a sad betrayal that can lead only to confusion. The forces of free religion must oppose this movement and check it. ... As we repudiate totalitarian politics we must also repudiate totalitarian religion."

'Futilitarian Christian gadflies like Professor Reinhold Niebuhr among the Protestants and Dr. Fulton J. Sheen among the Catholics are filling the air with their veiled terrestrial defeatism. No hope for mankind on earth but in heaven if you believe. . . . No, the leap into supernaturalism, which hungry hearts took two thousand years ago to compensate for their frustrations, is hardly proof to intelligent minds today of the existence of such a world."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,887015-2,00.html#ixzz0h4mKZ4B7
Tough-stuff optimism after a brutal World War. Time may have gotten it right when they concluded,
But none of these modern Unitarian strong-talkers thought of quoting the words of their own Servetus in his cogent challenge to Calvin:

"All that men do you say is done in sin and merits nothing but eternal death. But therein you blaspheme. Stripping us of all possible goodness, you do violence to the teaching of Christ, who ascribes the power of being perfect to us: 'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.' In the works of the saintly, there is nothing of the corruption you feign."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,887015-2,00.html#ixzz0h4mnxGea
I wonder how many of today's religion editors could quote back Servetus to American Preachers Unitarian or otherwise?

Rev. Jenkin Lloyd Jones investing in a Messiah

NYT April 27, 1916:
WORLD PEACE BOARD WON FOR HENRY FORD; Clergy Applaud the Rev. Mr. Jones When He Likens Manufacturer to Socrates.

GARDEN CITY, L.I., April 26. -Henry Ford, though not present in person, captured the American Council of the World Alliance of Clergymen to Promote International Friendship at the Garden City Hotel tonight. The Rev. Jenkin Lloyd Jones, who acquired considerable newspaper publicity while on the Ford peace ship, electrified the clergymen as the second day's sessions were about to close by likening the Detroit automobile manufacturer to Socrates and, in a humble way, to Christ.
The first example maybe of a Unitarian investing way to much hope and emotion in an all-to-human Messiah?