Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I read Americablog. I like Americablog, for the most part. John Aravosis is funny, and gay, and not afraid to really mess with people.

But I wonder sometimes where he stands on things that aren't explicitly part of the American political scene.

For example:

He lives in the 11th, on Rue St. Maur. It's a gentrifying, trendy neighborhood with lots of bars and restaurants, though Marcus' end of the hood is pretty much a working-class Arab and Asian neighborhood, which is kind of fascinating as you'll think you're in a non-French foreign country.

Um, dude? Maybe this is just some sloppy writing, but that's pretty inaccurate. France is changing, and has changed. That is the new France. A little more knowledge of what's going would be nice, because your comment makes you sound like a stereotypical French xenophobe.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I know what kind of ice cream I'm not buying anymore (I never got into Starbucks):

I’ve been digging to see when Starbucks might consider taking the pus out of it’s Coffee and various other beverages. They don’t seem to have a definite timeline. When they make timelines they don’t seem to follow them anyhow. I dug up a Starbuck’s .pdf file.


“We shared the results of our dairy survey and explained the lack of customer demand for the certified organic dairy products that are currently offered in our stores. Starbucks agreed to continue to raise the issue of genetic modification with our suppliers; update our website with more information about genetic modification; and contact two of the company’s joint venture partners, the Pepsi-Cola Company and Dreyers Grand Ice Cream, Inc., regarding usage of genetically modified ingredients.”

So. Incredibly. Gross.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Andrew Sullivan - who I do not understand at all - has a fantastic description of the Bush Legacy:

The man's legacy is a conservative movement largely discredited and disunited, a president with lower consistent approval ratings than any in modern history, a generational shift to the Democrats, a resurgent al Qaeda, an endless catastrophe in Iraq, a long hard struggle in Afghanistan, a fiscal legacy that means bankrupting America within a decade, and the poisoning of American religion with politics and vice-versa. For this, he got two terms of power - which the GOP used mainly to enrich themselves, their clients and to expand government's reach and and drain on the productive sector. In the re-election, the president with a relatively strong economy, and a war in progress, managed to eke out 51 percent.

And yet, for all that, there has been a tremendous amount of change in the United States in the last seven years, and much of it bad. People are suffering in ways they never had before as a result of the policies and practices of these people.


I really thought that Rove would stay with him until the end.

Karl Rove, George W Bush's most trusted and senior adviser, has paid tribute to the US president as he confirmed his intention to leave the White House.

Mr Rove, who will step down at the end of August, said he was "deeply proud" to have served Mr Bush and the US.

Good riddance.

UPDATE: There are thousands of people who could have told Kevin Drum this on September 12, 2001, for free. It's always going to be a mystery to me why people didn't adopt this position until it was acceptable:

Instant analysis: It doesn't really matter. History will judge Rove a colossal failure, a man who never understood how to govern and, for all his immense knowledge of polls and politics, never really understood the times he lived in. It was 9/11 that both made and broke the Bush presidency, not some kind of mystical McKinley-esque realignment. Rove was blind to that, and blind to the way Bush should have governed after 9/11. His one-track mind, in which every problem is solved by wielding the biggest, nastiest partisan club you can lift, just couldn't adapt. It's fitting that he insisted on making even his final act as calculatedly partisan as he could, announcing his resignation not through the White House press office, but in an interview with the editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Sic transit, Karl.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The U.S., Jose Padilla, and Torture

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Miami - Jose Padilla had no history of mental illness when President Bush ordered him detained in 2002 as a suspected Al Qaeda operative. But he does now.

The Muslim convert was subjected to prison conditions and interrogation techniques that took him past the breaking point, mental health experts say.

Two psychiatrists and a psychologist who conducted detailed personal examinations of Mr. Padilla on behalf of his defense lawyers say his extended detention and interrogation at the US Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, S.C., left him with severe mental disabilities. All three say he may never recover.


The judge in Padilla's criminal case has already ruled that Padilla is suffering from a mental disability, but she refused to allow defense lawyers to explore the issue of whether the disability was caused by Padilla's treatment in the brig.

It's a long story that I didn't totally finish, but I will say this: I would like to see an explanation as to why the judge in the case did not allow defense lawyers to explore the possibility that Padilla's condition was occurred while he was in the brig. As it stands, the ruling serves the function of helping cover up the fact that there has been lots of torture at the hands of the U.S. Government.

And then there is this non-denial:

Defense Department officials reject charges that Padilla was mistreated. "The government in the strongest terms denies Padilla's allegations of torture..." writes Navy Commander J.D. Gordon, a spokesman for the secretary of Defense, in an e-mail.

He adds, "There has never been a substantiated case of detainee abuse at Charleston Navy brig."

Funny thing, that. Padilla was held at Guantanamo Bay for a long time before being transferred to the Charleston Navy brig (I believe the transfer was the result of a court case that the Bush Administration lost). So that denial doesn't really mean shit.

Kucinich Once More

Hilarious. In a totally black-humor sort of way, of course:

If you know the Kucinich is the best candidate to represent your self interests, but you vote for another candidate the TV says is “electible” and then you hope that other candidate will adopt your issues once in office, you are exhibiting classic co-dependent behavior — acting against your own self interests in order to please someone in the hope they will change. It’s exactly the same as someone living with an alcoholic or an abusive partner.

From a comment over at The Republic of T. Check out the entire post, it's a pretty good argument for a) voting one's conscience and b) voting for Kucinich.

Totally Logical, But Still Incredibly Stupid

This is why people think that modifying one's assumptions about the world in response to evidence is a good thing. Not that I expect it to happen, especially any time soon.

Anyway, can you believe this shit? Someone has been smoking from the free market pipe a bit too much:

Brinkley said early economic planners had made the understandable mistake of assuming that a free market would rapidly emerge to replace what he described as Saddam's "kleptocracy", and create full employment.

Um, right. The most charitable thing I can say about that is this: It's only understandable if all you know about the world is what you learned at the feet of Thomas Friedman, or maybe from FOX news. A broader view - hell, any view - of history would have suggested that no, "free markets" do not just spring forth whole from armed conflict. That is a badly mistaken idea that neoliberals have convinced themselves of the truth of rather effectively in the last 20 years. The sad thing is that they show no signs of recognizing their ideological error, but seem to be desperately clinging to the idea that the implementation of Iraq was a mistaken, not the premise.

The least charitable thing I can says is that holy shit, those people are fucking idiots. No wonder things are such a clusterfuck.

Via Eschaton.

Queerness and Small Towns

From Little Light, over at Feministe, a great post on being queer and rural:

We’re another subspecies, us rural queers. See, our small towns are hard on us, yes, but so are our queer communities. The default culture is an urban one, and it’s assumed–well, why would you stay in a town or a church or a country that didn’t welcome you? Why wouldn’t you come to the city? Isn’t the city better? Better culture, better hangouts, better imagery, better people? We didn’t have our own subculture, back home, with its own parallel institutions. Small towns can make you ashamed and isolated for who you love and what you are; why should the places we run to sneer at our accents and our clothes and our food and our music, in turn? Yeah, if you have the resources to run to the city, you probably do–but some don’t, and others are attached to their roots, their families, their cultural trappings, the dirt and sky and rock of where they live. Sometimes a deep love of place comes first. But still, our mainstream queer organizations and publications and politics focus on city people and city concerns, and just assume that the countryside is going to be a conservative cesspit, nothing to be done about it. For some of us, the country is home, even though we’re refugees, and we would love for it to change so we could live there safely, but we’re just demographic anomalies, apparently.


This assumption that queer folk are city folk is just not working. It isolates and abandons those of us out in the sticks making lives work, and it isolates those of us in cities, with its implicit message that if you venture out past the metro area without a helmet, you’ll dissolve. It limits our causes to just working for those of us all clustered together while the rest of the state fears and misunderstands what we’re about. It just ratchets up our ability to sneer.

Go read. It's a great post, and it raises a good question for me. I've noticed the urban trend among my friends that are queer, and it's very pronounced.

Get Off My....Wait a Minute. You Can Stay, But Just For A Few Minutes

He finally (sort of) did it. Hasso Hering wrote something I don't entirely disagree with. I'm in a little bit of shock. So congrats, Hasso, for making an attempt to support kids, even if you did cloak it in some strange attacks on the state government.

Also, that doesn't mean I'm not going to pick it apart, because it's still got problems.

This particular editorial is on the topic of expanding health care, particularly for children. Hering is critical of a bill recently passed by the State Legislature:

The governor has signed Senate Bill 3, which he says “creates the Healthy Kids Plan.” It doesn’t yet, because it depends on voters this fall increasing a cigarette tax to pay for it. But even if the plan eventually is put into effect, it does nothing to cut the cost of medical care and falls far short of the kind of medical legislation that one wishes Oregon would someday adopt.


In short, the program is a bundle of red tape, though families would be shielded from complications by being able to submit a simple application. But while it throws more money into the pot, it does nothing to solve the issues facing medical care in Oregon.

Well, I thought Hering had a populist streak. If the Leg had directed this bill become law without voter approval, I could easily see him arguing that it should have been referred to voters, so I'm not sure what that's about. That and there's no reason for him to say "one wishes" when it's clearly Hering that wishes it. I know it's probably some sort of editorial etiquette, and I know he signs his name (unlike many editors), but still. That sort of posturing is best reserved for bad philosophers.

I'm also confused about how this bill "is a bundle of red tape" if families just have to "submit a simple application." Normally, the phrase red tape indicates a frustrating bureaucracy that the end user or consumer has to deal with, but Hering suggests otherwise in the same sentence.

He's really good at sticking to his guns.

So, on to the more important - and interesting - part of this editorial. Hering claims that the bill does not "cut the cost of medical care" and "falls short" of the legislation needed in this area because "it does nothing to solve the issues facing medical care in Oregon."

Those are pretty sketchy claims, since this bill was not designed to do solve any of the problems you just listed, but to insure more children. How f****** hard would it have been to be honest just this once, Hasso? Would it have killed you to be a straight shooter on this one?

Maybe, because Hering spends the rest of the editorial talking about something else entirely - Oregon's forthcoming doctor shortage. I give him major credit for this one; as a true libertarian, I would expect him not to care. Instead, he is actually calling for more government intervention in the form of incentives:

They might, for instance, propose and budget money to pay off the student loans of any newly licensed doctor who agrees to practice in Oregon for, say, 10 years. They would provide tax exemptions or other incentives for health-care providers who see a certain number of children without charging them or their parents.

They might also relax the licensing requirements for paramedical professionals, increasing their number so that more poor people, especially children, could get medical attention for all the common ailments that kids get.

The state might go so far as to provide immunity from malpractice suits to doctors who administer a certain percentage of care to the indigent, especially children. Or the state might offer to pay the malpractice premiums of those doctors who provide that service.

Sigh. I knew I wasn't getting out of it this that easy. The first suggestion - paying off the loans of medical students who practice in Oregon for 10 years - is a pretty good one as far as I can tell. There's not really a downside, though I think it should be paired with finding a way to provide more slots in M.D. programs now, since the shortage is partially due to too-small classes in med schools around the state.

The second and third suggestion, however, are not so good. I don't really think relaxing the licensing requirements of paramedical professionals is a good idea. Personally, I'd want - if I actually had access to health care - the medical professionals taking care of me to have more training, not less. This suggestion just makes no sense on its face, not even by Hering's normal standards, unless he actually believes they are overqualified, which is just silly. Why not create incentive programs for paramedicals like he's suggesting for doctors?

The last one - giving doctors immunity from malpractice and/or paying their malpractice premiums - is pure ideology. Two things have caused a measurable increase in malpractice suits and premiums: An increase in mistakes by doctors and hospitals, and the insurance industry. Personally, I'd go after #2 if I was the Leg, but Hering would rather exacerbate #1 by cutting licensing requirements for paramedical professionals. Doesn't seem smart to me. The whole "we're a nation that sues at the drop of a hat" is mostly a giant myth concocted by conservatives and their hatred of accountability. Well, that and their hatred of trial lawyers, since trial lawyers give their donations overwhelmingly to Democrats. Are the number of lawsuits up? Sure - but the cause is complex, and shielding doctors from malpractice is a stupid conservative trick to avoid taking responsibility for the possibility that doctors make mistakes.

So, Hering manages to make fun of an otherwise solid program - expanding insurance coverage to children - and suggest a few ideologically sound but otherwise crappy "fixes' to another problem entirely. A pretty mediocre editorial, if you ask, but that makes it better than most.

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