September 23, 2009 archive

Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports Leaders take small steps towards action on climate change.

    For a man known for his diplomatic reserve, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, was unusually upfront about his frustration with the pace of talks for a treaty to stop global warming yesterday. “The world’s glaciers are now melting faster than human progress to protect them – or us,” he said at the opening session of his climate change summit.

    While the NY Times reports Proposals lag behind promises on climate. “Domestic political battles still trump what United Nations officials had hoped would be a sense of global urgency” to address climate change.

    In speech after speech, presidents and prime ministers of countries large and small spoke with soaring promises about the importance of confronting the problem for future generations. But when it came down to the nuts-and-bolts promises of what they were prepared to do in the next decade, experts and analysts were disappointed that there were no bold new proposals, particularly from the United States.

  2. The CS Monitor has a round-up of the news of Australia’s worst dust storm in 70 years with a Dust storm covers Sydney in red. A massive dust storm turned Sydney an eerie red on Wednesday. “Such storms could grow bigger and more frequent with climate change.”

  3. The Guardian reports Thinning glaciers driving polar ice loss, satellite survey finds. “A comprehensive satellite survey of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets has revealed an extensive network of rapidly thinning glaciers that is driving ice loss in the regions.”

    “The survey, compiled from 50m satellite measurements taken between February 2003 and November 2007, shows glaciers thinning at all latitudes in Greenland and along key Antarctic coastlines. Thinning penetrated deep into the interior of the ice sheets and continues to spread as ice shelves melt into the sea.”

Four at Four continues with Max Bacu$ and Afghanistan.

Josh Marshall ALMOST Got It (update)

Among the several blogs I read, Talking Points Memo is one of them.  So, when I read the lede, “You can’t handle the truther!”, it caught my attention.

Of course, what really caught my attention was this:

There is after all a world of difference between saying that the Bush administration had enough information about a pending attack that they should have done something to stop it and saying that the Bush administration knew about the attacks and intentionally let them happen in order to get an excuse to go to war in Iraq.

But this latest poll finally gets the question tightly worded enough to get at just what people are saying. And the number of Dems who believe the latter is pretty high.

(original article emphasis)

I didn’t realize the logic was so hard to understand, so, let me explain it to Mr. Marshall…

Without a Public Option, Mandates = Winning Issue for Repubs

Laying the groundwork for the hoped for Republican Resurgence of 2010.

“This bill is a stunning assault on liberty,” said Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona.

The scary part is, he is right. Forcing Americans to buy a product ….without giving them an Option IS an assault on liberty, a stunning assault, and unprecedented assault. It is a totally new concept and one that marks a VERY disturbing crossing of the lines between government and the Corporations.

There has never before been a law that mandates that Americans have to buy a product from a Corporation.

Is there anyone who can look at this sentence:

You MUST buy this product, or the government will fine you.

And not be at least mildly alarmed?  

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

One of the seemingly few bright spots for the GOP in an otherwise dismal 2008 election cycle was the ascent of Virginia Representative Eric Cantor to the position of Minority Whip.  While many state voters cast their ballots for a Democratic Presidential nominee for the first time ever, several ballots included votes for both Barack Obama and Cantor.  What was on the minds of voters, as reported at the time, was that Cantor was something of a tolerable moderate.  Ever since then, however, Cantor has taken his position as the second ranking Republican House member and used it for predominately obstructionist ends.  As this article states, if anyone ought to claim the title of Dr. No, Cantor should.    

What has always concerned me about the supposedly cozy relationship that the United States has with Israel is how the right-wing deifies this most atypical of all Middle East nations.  According to conservative rhetoric, Israel can do no wrong and as such must be protected as some kind of sainted child from the scourge of terrorism and Arab aggression.  In their way of thinking, Israel is a buffer zone against hostile regimes and a virtuous champion of “our” values.  As such, it must always stay strong to contain and repulse potential threats.  Yet, it would go against logic and reason to assume that any country is perfect.  Each and every nation makes significant mistakes and lest someone with selective reading skills miss the point, my stating this does not make me somehow Anti-Israel, Pro-Terrorist, or Anti-Semitic.  

When you marry this fawning Pro-Israel talk with Evangelical Christianity, then the effect produced is truly frightening.  Most Evangelicals believe Israel to be the Holiest of Holy sites.  In their way of thinking, this tiny country is the precise location where the inevitable will come true and the long-promised war between God and Satan, Good and Evil will transpire.  Though much about the Christian Right frightens me, the power and potential exploitation of self-fulfilling prophecy fills me full of dread the most.  But even so, Evangelical Christianity and Judaism are a union of convenience, much like the one that exists between the United States and Israel, rather than a pairing based on shared purpose.  Many Evangelicals hold a particular reverence for Jews, but also believe it is their stated agenda to convert them to Christianity.  Though both religions utilize the same scriptural teachings, the interpretation and emphasis of the same words and concepts is vastly divergent.        

The latest Eric Cantor soundbyte, which must have been constructed with the clear design to inflame and to invoke response deserves a response.  Though I diligently try to ignore those clearly aiming to start a political controversy and/or a resulting war of words, I simply couldn’t stay silent on this matter.  Too much hypocrisy and irony exists within it to not raise my voice in protest.  Observe.    

…Cantor…express[ed] his opposition to Obama’s “disproportionate focus” on halting the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank instead of adopting a policy geared toward eliminating the “existential threat” posed to Israel by Iran’s nuclear program.

“If you look at the policy that this White House has followed, it certainly does not seem as if we are dealing with a true friend” of Israel, Cantor said.

What constitutes “a true friend of Israel” is a matter for debate and one, particularly in this context, notably not set by the Jewish nation itself.  Instead, it frequently finds use as a political talking point, designed to criticize and shame those possessed of a point of view in opposition to the whims of whomever is making it.  I would question whether, strictly speaking, Cantor is a “true friend of Israel”.  Few conservatives in this country are willing to note that if the label “socialist” could be pinned to any nation, Israel might well have a strong claim to the distinction.  State-owned businesses and industries have existed within the borders of the Jewish state ever since its founding in 1948.  While in times past many Israelis more heavily favored a socialistic system and many still do today, the nation is nonetheless highly dependent on U.S. assistance, whether it be in the form of military or economic aid.  This has created a conflict.  The unenviable position between playing by Washington’s rules or governing their country by the ways they themselves would prefer is not an easy one.  That, in and of itself is not a particularly uncommon response.  Since we have the biggest guns and, until recently, had the strongest economy, the countries we actively assisted always had to modify their own political leanings against Washington’s hard line and heavily conditional purse strings.

Furthermore, Israel’s system of government is based heavily on the European Parliamentary model, containing a wide variety of disparate political parties, instead of the predominant bicameral system we use.  It is, in effect, a European state transplanted to a region that has never known anything resembling Democracy, and the fact that tensions and aggressions would exist between it and its neighbors does not take a rocket scientist to explain, nor to understand.  Some assume that Arab states strongly dislike Israel for purely petty, superficial reasons, but the truth is that it is such an bizarre anomaly in comparison with the rest of the region, that a mutual degree of distrust and fear which exists ought to be obvious.  

Cantor has, true to party line, recently spoken out against health care reform.  If he were a true friend of Israel, as he implies that he is, he would take into account this reality.  

Simcha Shapiro calls Israel’s health care system “socialized medicine with a privatized option”.

Israel has maintained a system of socialized health care since its establishment in 1948,[citation needed] although the National Health Insurance law was passed only on January 1, 1995. The state is responsible for providing health services to all residents of the country, who can register with one of the four health service funds. To be eligible, a citizen must pay a health insurance tax. Coverage includes medical diagnosis and treatment, preventive medicine, hospitalization (general, maternity, psychiatric and chronic), surgery and transplants, preventive dental care for children, first aid and transportation to a hospital or clinic, medical services at the workplace, treatment for drug abuse and alcoholism, medical equipment and appliances, obstetrics and fertility treatment, medication, treatment of chronic diseases and paramedical services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy

To the Obama Administration’s credit, they have fired back with a response to Cantor’s charge.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to respond to Cantor’s comments but said that securing a lasting two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians was “how you can be a true friend to Israel.”

The lessons to be drawn from this are many.  As we have done many times before, this country likes to project its own agenda and its own internal political squabbles onto whichever country happens to be the current topic for debate.  The irony here, among many, is that other nations, believe it or not, have their own strong opinions, their own distinct political persuasions, and their own means of conducting business.  I suppose it would be inevitable that any country as large and influential as we are would project its own narcissism onto countries not nearly as fortunate and privileged as we are.  I have frequently made a point to ask people who live in other countries what honestly bothers them about the United States.  The number one gripe, regardless of national allegiance, is that it seems as though we really believe that the world revolves around America and, not only that, in so stating this we assume every other nation ought to acknowledge our importance and dominance, too.  It’s one thing to be a superpower and have that status influence the discourse of other countries.  It’s quite another thing altogether, however, when we assume if not altogether demand that other countries ought to make our concerns their concerns as well.  This situation proves to be another unfortunate example of a behavior we would do well to discard.      

Is Obama Stupid or the weakest President Ever?

Another stunning about face today from the NYT:

(after proclaiming ‘no more settlements)

Obama Pivots in His in Mideast Peace Bid


President Obama is largely setting aside his demand for a full freeze on settlements in the West Bank.

And yesterday another one :

(after already expanding the war, adding 17,000 troops)

Obama Considers Strategy Shift in Afghan War


Published: September 22, 2009

WASHINGTON – President Obama is exploring alternatives to a major troop increase in Afghanistan, including a plan advocated by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to scale back American forces and focus more on rooting out Al Qaeda there and in Pakistan, officials said Tuesday.

June 4th:

(after promising no mandates in the campaign)

Obama Open to a Mandate on Health Insurance


Published: June 3, 2009

WASHINGTON – President Obama said Wednesday that he was receptive to Congressional proposals that would require Americans to have health insurance and oblige employers to share in the cost. But he said there should be exemptions for people who cannot afford insurance and for small businesses in general.

Obama: ‘Nobody’ Considers Health Care Mandate a Tax Increase


Anti-War Activists Disappointed With Obama’s Iraq Withdrawal Plan

President Obama’s plan will take three months longer than he promised on the campaign trail and will leave a residual force of between 35,000 and 50,000 troops, which many Democrats say is too many.

I could go on and on.   The ‘exchange’ is actually the McCain ‘plan’ which he argued against.  

Crazy, delusional, Stupid?  

Cantor tells uninsured woman with growing tumors to Find Charity

Crossposted at Daily Kos

    The woman in the video below is Patricia Churchill, who tells the story of a member of her family who lost her job and insurance and has cancer that needs treating NOW.

    The full quote of what Rep. Cantor (Fink-VA) said was “there is probably 23, 24% of the uninsured that is already eligible for an existing government program […] Beyond that, I know that there are programs, there are charitable organizations. . .”

    Rep. Cantor went on to say “No one in this country, given who we are, should be sitting without an option to be addressed.”

    Yesterday, Eric Cantor called for “Scrapping” the Public Option.

     Transcript and more below the fold

All Politics Is Local

South Carolina GOP candidates for Governor had their first debate.  On the Democratic side, you have Dwight Drake, Robert Ford, and Mullins McLeod.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R) is in a battle for re-election with Rob Miller (D) for South Carolina’s District Two.

Rep. Henry Brown (R) is going to have a primary challenger from Carroll Campbell III, the son of former SC Governor Carroll Campbell.

This little snapshot of South Carolina politics shows that all politics are local.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

A Transition through Poetry XXI

Art Link

(This is larger than full size)

My Love

As I walk in the brisk autumn air

And the sun warms me but a bit

You are walking with me.

As I stop amongst the trees

And listen to the wind in the branches

I hear your voice.

As I bundle myself in my coat

And rearrange my hat and scarf

I feel your arms surround me.

As I walk through the garden

And see the last flowers of the year

I see your face.

You are forever with me

My Love

Eternally by my side

In my dreams

In my life.

To feel your touch,

To see your smile,

To hear you laugh,

I long for these.

One day, My Love,

We will be together

And the word Love

Will gain new meaning.

Soon, My Darling,

We will be together

As our spirits

Have always been.

We will meet

And the world

Will be our garden

Forever, My Love.

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–November, 1993

Late Night Karaoke

Open Thread

Some poems by Miep

I felt like posting something here, and no stories came to mind, so I’ll retrench into poetry. Why not?

back porch 1

Ron Wyden: Public Option Doesn’t Go FAR Enough

Wyden amendment gaining support

By Tony Romm, The Hill – 09/22/2009

An amendment to the Senate Finance Committee’s healthcare bill that would permit employees to shop around for health insurance policies is slowly gaining momentum on the Hill.

The idea, pitched by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) last week, would open the proposed “insurance exchange” — where consumers can compare and purchase insurance plans — to Americans who already receive coverage from their employers.

What has made Wyden’s proposal especially appealing today, however, is the Congressional Budget Office’s recent cost estimate. By their math, his amendment would reduce the bill’s impact on the deficit by about $1 billion over the next 10 years.…

Overnight Caption Contest

Load more