"So far the paybacks have been minimal."
--character Chase Hammond from the film "Drive Me Crazy"
If pressed to come up with the positive aspects of the Obama administration's foreign policy, we have little more than a Nobel prize to show thus far.
"So far the paybacks have been minimal."
--character Chase Hammond from the film "Drive Me Crazy"
Charlie Crist is becoming so desperate that his campaign has descended to farcical parodies of Nixonian tactics. The campaign has decided to attack itself and blame Marco Rubio. We know this because, when caught, their lame cover up proved they were behind everything.Just a reminder for Floridians, regardless of whether Red State has the goods on Crist: Vote Rubio.
(read more at Red State)
During this period demons are assigned against those who participate in the rituals and festivities. These demons are automatically drawn to the fetishes that open doors for them to come into the lives of human beings. For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.The link goes to Charisma magazine's Web site because CBN has (wisely) taken the article down (still available via Google cache if you hurry).
I do not buy candy during the Halloween season. Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store. The demons cannot tell the difference.
What nonsense! I would like to know how the writer knows that the witches pray over all the Halloween candy. Do they have the whole coven march from store to store en masse to gather around the candy aisle? If so, where do they get enough witches to deal with all the world's candy? How does she know what the Satanists do in their "meetings"? If she can give some more valid proof of research for all these things, she could be taken more seriously.Apparently there are a whole lot more witches than we thought. Or at least they're better represented in candy factories than we ever expected.
Farley's reporting here is accurate, but requires a bit of explanation.
Gibbs is referring here to a request for additional troops made by the previous top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, during President George W. Bush's final year in office.
McKiernan made his requests public in a press conference in September 2008 in Afghanistan, saying he needed at least three more combat brigades, in addition to the one Bush had promised in January. He said more soldiers and resources were needed to stabilize insurgencies in Afghanistan.
Even when Farley quotes essentially the same information from Obama, he can't seem to put the pieces together:
I couldn't reach Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, but I did talk to a senior defense official who serves with him. This person stressed that Gates has gone to great lengths to avoid being dragged into political fights between administrations. Nonetheless, he offered a strong rebuke to the present White House political team.
"There was no request on anyone's desk for eight months," said the defense official. "There was not a request that went to the White House because we didn't have forces to commit. So on the facts, they're wrong."
According to a story in the Baltimore Sun on Feb. 18, 2009, "The deployment is Obama's response to a long-standing request from commanders in Afghanistan for more troops. The commanders have sought four more combat brigades, aviation units and other support, representing an increase of more than 20,000 troops."
In a March speech outlining a new strategy for the war there, Obama said that "for six years, Afghanistan has been denied the resources that it demands because of the war in Iraq."
Obama then seemed to take a swipe at the Bush administration when he added that he ordered the additional troops to satisfy a request that came from Gen. McKiernan "for many months."
Shouldn't we expect a competent reporter to pick up on the notion that Afghanistan didn't get the full four brigades from Bush because of troop commitments in Iraq? At least if we give Obama the benefit of the doubt?
Whereas the misdirection by Gibbs ought to earn a "Pants on Fire!" rating for sheer chutzpah, Farley and PolitiFact rate the White House spokesperson with an unqualified "True":
The public doesn't have access to McKiernan's formal request for more troops. But we know that he was talking about it publicly in September 2008, at least 4 1/2 months before the end of Bush's term. And McKiernan told reporters his request went back nearly to the start of his taking over as the top U.S. commander four months before that. That would suggest Gibb's claim is correct that it had been sitting on desks in the White House for eight months. And so we rule his statement True.
Pathetic, as is often the case with PolitiFact.
The tag "journalists reporting badly" applies.
Robert Farley: F
Greg Joyce: F
John Holahan, the director of the Urban Institute Health Policy Research Center, said he has not seen anything in any of the plans that will result in explicit rationing, but "if you define rationing as 'people can't get everything they want,' it's true. But it's also true today.""People can't get everything they want" does represent the definition of "rationing" used in Farley's piece.
The same definition of "rationing" occurs in a New York Times story cited by Farley, "Health care rationing rhetoric overlooks reality," by David Leonhardt.
Even Obama acknowledged the reality of health care rationing in a town hall on health care on Aug. 16:
"When we talk about reform, you hear some opponents of reform saying that somehow we are trying to ration care, or restrict the doctors that you can see, or you name it," Obama said. "Well, that's what's going on right now. It's just that the decisions are being made by the insurance companies.
"Now, in fairness, we probably could not construct a system in which you could see any doctor anywhere in the world any time, regardless of expense. That would be a hard system to set up. So if you live in Maine, you know, we're going to fly you into California, put you up. I mean, you can see — and I'm not trying to make light of it — you can just see the difficulty.
"So any system we design, there are going to have to be some choices that have to be made in terms of where you go to see your doctor, what's going on, et cetera. That's being done currently in the private marketplace. All we're trying to do is to make sure that those decisions that are being made in the private marketplace aren't discriminating against people because they're already sick; that they are making sure that people get a good deal from the health care dollars that they are spending."
In other words, rationing is just a fact of life in a world with limited resources.
Rationing is the controlled distribution of resources and scarce goods or services: it restricts how much people are allowed to buy or consume. Rationing, for whatever reason, controls the size of the ration, one's allotted portion of the resources being distributed on a particular day or at a particular time.Farley erases the distinction that ought to be made between price rationing and other forms of rationing. As a result, his story manifests the fallacy of equivocation. In other words, "rationing" in usual parlance does not refer to price rationing. Farley followed the conventions of others in ignoring the customary usage in favor of one that included price rationing.
In economics, it is often common to use the word "rationing" to refer to one of the roles that prices play in markets, while rationing (as the word is usually used) is called "non-price rationing." Using prices to ration means that those with the most money (or other assets) and who want a product the most get the largest amount, whereas non-price rationing follows other principles of distribution. Below, we discuss only the latter, dropping the "non-price" qualifier, to refer only to marketing done by an authority of some sort (often the government).
(Holahan) said that Medicare is much less likely to deny a health service than a private insurer.According to this report published by the AMA, it seems that Holahan may be the one who has it backwards. Over about a year's time, Medicare denied 6.85 percent of "claim lines." The worst of the private insurers surveyed was slightly better than that, at 6.8 percent. Most of the rest surveyed were in the 2-3 percent range.
"That's the argument you hear people making (that the reform bills would lead to government rationing)," Holahan said. "But I think they have it backwards."
Ehrenreich's bout with breast cancer and the cloying "pink ribbon culture" that surrounds this dreaded disease (she is urged to see her cancer as a "gift") made her explore our cultural obsession with being happy.The cultural obsession appears to follow a biological drive, from what I can tell. At least in part. But let's allow Blumner to get on a roll before letting the air out of her tires.
The book's point is that realism is being elbowed out of the way by all the life coaches, self-help books and prosperity gospel preachers like Joel Osteen who tell us that a positive outlook will lead to success, riches and the fulfillment of all of life's desires.It seems to me there's a big difference between simply wanting to be happy and supposing that a positive mental attitude will itself result in prosperity.
These heaping helpings of sunny optimism are subtly diverting us from grappling with serious social and economic issues in ways that can truly bring about change.I doubt it. Prosperity messages like that preached by Osteen and others have a long history in the United States. Starting back in the 19th century. Most folks ignore them, and most likely many of those attracted to that message are not particularly happy. After all, if you're already happy then why long for more happiness?
The Secret became a runaway bestseller by telling readers that they could have anything they want just by imagining it. The book was obviously unadulterated bunk, but it sold madly as people grasped at any chance to better their lives. One has to wonder if such magical thinking would have been so popular if people felt they had temporal power to change the conditions of their work and prospects."The Secret" became a bestseller because Oprah Winfrey endorsed it.
The reason that so many Americans work at jobs that don't pay enough is not that they don't channel enough positive energy into getting a better salary, but that wages have been stagnant for 30 years. And the reason that wages have barely budged is that America's wealthiest households have kept slicing themselves a larger piece of the income pie.Blumner remains consistently ignorant about economics. First, she provides the reader a false dilemma. Let's say a lack of "positive energy" is not to blame for wage stagnation. But shouldn't we allow for a worker's lack of initiative to play some role in the failure to increase personal wages? And should we ignore major changes to society like the major influx of females into the workforce? Second, she treats income like a finite commodity. It isn't. Wages represent useful work, albeit the system can be fooled for a time. An increase in useful work allows increased wages and increased buying power. More work at the upper end of the spectrum steals nothing from the lower end of the spectrum. Suggesting otherwise is a lie, albeit most often a lie born out of ignorance.
Between 1979 and 2007, the top 1 percent of American households saw their share of all pretax income nearly double while the bottom 80 percent had their share fall by 7 percent. Ehrenreich quotes the New York Times saying, "It's as if every household in the bottom 80 percent is writing a check for $7,000 every year and sending it to the top 1 percent."Ehrenreich shares Blumner's ignorance of economics. Her conclusion follows if we accept the premise that workers in the lowest 80 percent of incomes have a right to a given share of pretax income. I'd like to see Blumner explain that to a worker in the Times' mail room. Put simply, it makes decent sense if you're a communist. Otherwise, it's just stupid.
Every working stiff in the bottom 80 percent should be outraged and politically motivated to force change. But if everyone is convinced of the convenient nostrum that our own attitude controls how much we are paid, then workers won't band together to demand a larger share of our national prosperity.Every working stiff, I suppose, should be just as ignorant of economics as is Blumner.
This positive thinking message is a kind of opiate that has been particularly effective on the white-collar corporate work force. Ehrenreich documents how corporations hire motivational speakers to convince laid-off workers that their job loss is "an opportunity for self-transformation." Somehow, she says, white-collar workers have accepted positive thinking as a "belief system" that says a person can be "infinitely powerful, if only they could master their own minds."As with happiness, shouldn't we separate mere positive mental attitude from a prosperity gospel? I think it grand that a company would think enough of its fired employees to hire a motivational counselor on their behalf. Looking for ways to maximize one's value as a worker sure beats plotting ways to pry cash out of the wealthy via the power of government. Unless maybe you're a communist.
On the surface, prosperity gospels and positive thinking companies appear harmless with their treacly "Successories products" of posters and coffee mugs, but they have subversively helped make each of us an island.Do tell, Ms. Blumner.
They have convinced Americans that each individual has control and power over the conditions of his or her life, when that is largely not the case. Access to decent health care at a reasonable price is not a matter of individual effort.Again, Blumner offers us a false dichotomy. Americans do have substantial control of the conditions of their lives, and much of this was brought about by the capitalist system that Blumner apparently loathes. Nobody has absolute control of their life. Doe a patient have more control of his life waiting months for a hip replacement in Canada or figuring out how to pay for one now in the United States?
Neither are securing decent wages, pensions, safe working conditions or job security.Again, those things are substantially under the control of Americans. Workers with fewer skills naturally have less control over them. If the bag boy at Publix can command a six-figure salary and comfortable pension for bagging groceries then you can bet that the price of groceries will be rising sharply. Blumner doesn't get it.
Workers demanded those rights through collective action in the 20th century and we are losing them now by taking an "every man for himself" approach to work.I cheerfully grant that the labor movement accomplished some good things, including breaking corporations of some self-stifling labor practices. Unfortunately, the labor movement has by now accomplished more bad than good. Blumner doesn't get it.
The ultimate irony is even with the booming positive thinking industry, Americans are not among the happiest people. International surveys put us behind places like Denmark and Switzerland where the social safety net is stronger. It seems that happy thoughts don't alter the reality of American life with all its attendant risks to middle class living standards. Behind the smiley face facade, we are privately worried, and we have reason to be.1) Number 16, contra Blumner, puts us among the happiest people, all the more based on our high population. The U.S. population is more than twice that of the happiest 15 nations combined. One of them is Puerto Rico (part of the U.S.), and Ireland is two of them (N. Ireland is counted separately).
Entries for journalism awards must be based on material coming from a text-based United States newspaper or news organization that publishes—in print or online—at least weekly during the calendar year; that is primarily dedicated to original news reporting and coverage of ongoing stories; and that adheres to the highest journalistic principles.That's included for the sake of completeness. Obviously it is still lacking in specifics at this stage.
Any significant challenge to the honesty, accuracy or fairness of an entry, such as published letters, corrections, retractions, as well as responses by the newspaper, should be included in the submission.The above strongly implies that dishonesty, inaccuracy or unfairness might disqualify an entry. But I find it interesting that only published letters are mentioned. It seems to give newspapers the option of covering up problems. Just don't print the letter of protest. Problem solved.
Maybe President Barack Obama should just call it a bribe. That is the best way to describe his plan to send recipients of Social Security $250 next year.Good work. It's nice to be able to say that for a change.
(Read it all)
Since the Sonia Sotomayor nomination we've been hearing about the GOP's Hispanic deficit. Only 26 percent of Latino registered voters now say they identify with or lean toward the Republican Party. But that's a full house compared with scientists. Only 12 percent of scientists in a poll issued last month by the Pew Research Center say they are Republican or lean toward the GOP, while fully 81 percent of scientists say they are Democrats or lean Democratic.Finally, Blumner produces at least some data we can look at, enabling us to assess some evidence. As for Latino voters, that seems to be nothing but digression. Latinos are largely Roman Catholic (traditionally Democratic based on social justice issues), and many in addition are from a Mexico with a government to the left of our own. It fails to count as a relevant comparison, in other words.
We shouldn't be surprised that people who are open to evidence-based thinking have abandoned the Republican Party. The GOP has proudly adopted the mantle of the "Terri Schiavo, global warming shwarming" party with the Bush administration helping cement the image by persistently subverting science to serve a religious agenda or corporate greed.Oh. So maybe many of these scientists were Republicans but switched based on the combination of ethical issues and the global warming dogma? I don't see that in the data, but it seems very fair of Blumner to allow that scientists may have only recently begun to favor the Democrats. Is this supposed to be her rationale for the trend among scientists?
But what worries me is not the shrunken relevancy of the GOP, a party in which 56 percent of its members oppose funding of embryonic stem cell research, 39 percent believe humans have always existed on Earth in their present form, and in which only 30 percent say human activity is warming the planet.I would think that Blumner would go all a-quiver at shrinking GOP relevancy. But where is she getting those statistics from? Her arse? I can't speak for all Republicans, but the objection is fairly stated in terms of opposing federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Blumner ought to be able to appreciate the conscience concerns involved after working with the ACLU in her former career as a lawyer.
It is that this nation's future depends upon people who don't think that way and the Republican Party is closing the door to them.That is Blumner's expression of hyper-partisanship. Serious measures aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions will cripple the U.S. economy. Let Blumner explain how we end up with a strong United States in the future with a ruined economy. Her fear is not for the United States as we know it, most likely. Blumner probably favors rule by the elites forced on the foolish masses. Your desire for cars and jobs is not conducive to human survival. So the government will run the economy instead of you. For the sake of your survival. Your freedom means little if the human race is otherwise doomed. Something along those lines, though Blumner herself may not even realize where her thinking leads.
The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Barack Obama on Friday reaffirms that the world still looks to America for leadership and has high hopes for its young president.Much of the world doesn't want American leadership. Rather, they want the United States to do the heavy lifting on policies they happen to favor, and for the United States to butt out on everything else. But the editorial pegs it with the "high hopes" part. President Obama looks like a pushover, and that suits all those who can get in on the pushing.
As the Nobel committee noted, in less than a year Obama has established a new tone in international politics that emphasizes engagement over isolation and consensus over ultimatums.Unfair slaps at Bush aside (Bush did, in fact, emphasize engagement over isolation), Obama has at least partially fulfilled his campaign promise to meet diplomatically with Iran minus preconditions. Not that we've gained anything politically from it aside from a Nobel Prize. On the other hand, Honduras may feel a tad isolated by Obama administration policies. But such a tiny country can hardly count against The One's record, can it?
In the long term, Obama will be judged by his accomplishments rather than his aspirations. But this unexpected recognition reflects the power of a compelling vision and America's singular role in defending peace, human rights and democracy.Compelling vision, eh?
Obama was as surprised as the world to be awakened with the news Friday, and he reacted with characteristic grace and humility.The characteristic humility that led him to address throngs in Europe well prior to his election as president, I suppose. I don't buy the "characteristic humility" part. But Obama's Nobel acceptance speech, at least, was appropriately humble.
After barely nine months in office, he has hardly amassed a long record of achievement on the international stage. While the war in Iraq is winding down, the fighting in Afghanistan is heating up.Actually, the war in Iraq is heating up a bit, also. Obama is simply ignoring that in favor of following through on his promise to end American participation in the war. The fighting in Afghanistan has heated up based on Obama's promise to focus on our true enemies in that region. And he has promised U.S. strikes in Pakistan at high-value targets regardless of Pakistani approval. Part of the new tone, I suppose.
The Palestinians and Israelis are as far apart as ever on a framework for peace.True, but President Obama has preferred the Palestinian side of the argument--at least publicly--to a far greater extent than did his predecessors in office. And the world likes that, even if it doesn't have much to do with peace.
Iran is still pursuing its nuclear ambitions, and the administration has not yet brought Russia or China around as constructive global partners. America has not broken significant new ground on immigration, energy or global warming.One wonders what represents the peaceful policy on each of those last three issues. As for Russia and China, if Obama had tried hard bargaining with either nation then it would be harder for him to look like he favored engagement over ultimatum. It's more peaceful, apparently, to weakly engage and accomplish nothing else.
But in announcing the award, the Nobel committee singled out Obama for his "extraordinary efforts" to strengthen diplomacy. The jab at his predecessor, George W. Bush, was unmistakable. By replacing confrontation with dialogue as the norm of foreign policy, Obama had "captured the world's attention" and made the United States "a more constructive" player in meeting global challenges, the committee said."Extraordinary efforts" like what? Giving speeches? The statement from the committee appears to entirely lack specifics.
Whether awarding Obama the Nobel so early in his presidency is foolishly premature or remarkably prescient will not be clear for years.Now that is funny. We can wait for years for any real evidence that Obama deserves the award before we can think it clearly premature. Let's say that Obama does something ... ten years from now that unquestionably deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. The Times would apparently ask us to think the prize committee prescient rather than premature. Why not both, eh?
Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without scientists? Ask the Republican Party. It lives in such a world.Uh, what? How will we develop advanced weapons systems with which to dominate the lower classes without scientists? Hopefully Blumner can do better than baseless and absurd assertions.
Republicans have been so successful in driving out of their party anyone who endeavors in scientific inquiry that pretty soon there won't be anyone left who can distinguish a periodic table from a kitchen table.I guess we have to clear the "clever writing" stage before we get beyond the fluff.
It is no wonder the Republican throngs showing up to disrupt town hall meetings on health care reform are so gullible, willing to believe absurd claims like the coming of "death panels." Their party is nearly devoid of neuroscientists, astrophysicists, marine biologists or any other scientific professional who would insist on intellectual rigor, objective evidence and sound reasoning as the basis for public policy development. The people left don't have that kind of discipline and don't expect it from their leaders. They are willing to believe anything some right-wing demagogue with a cable show or pulpit tells them, no matter how outlandish.This is just too rich. Absurd claims of "death panels"?
Robert Reich, former labor secretary under Bill Clinton, is a very smart man with a very good heart - my favorite combination. He's one of those people to whom I pay special attention, on a par with thinkers like Jared Bernstein at the Economic Policy Institute, David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown, and psychology professor Steven Pinker at Harvard.And Robert Reich has this to say, also not so long ago (2007):
Reich: Let me tell you a few things on health care. Look, we have the only health care system in the world that is designed to avoid sick people. And that's true, and what I'm going to do, is, I am going to try to reorganize it to make it more amenable to treating sick people, but that means you, particularly you young people--particularly you young healthy people--you're going to have to pay more.Reich was taking on the role of a presidential candidate telling the truth about what he would and should do, which accounts for his declarations that he would be doing these things personally. Now, obviously Reich was not talking specifically about the health care reform proposals that were developed since Barack Obama assumed the office of president. But his sense of the economics of health care is on target. And Sarah Palin's use of hyperbole to highlight the increased role of the government toward the type of arrangement that Reich envisions is both fair and on target.
(very light applause)
Thank you. And by the way, we're going to have to, if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too expensive. So we're going to let you die.
Uh, also, uh, I'm going to use the bargaining leverage of the federal government in terms of Medicare, Medicaid--we already have a lot of bargaining leverage--to force drug companies and insurance companies and medical suppliers to reduce their costs, but that means less innovation, and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market and that means that you are not going to live that much longer than your parents.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is so insensitive to the religious beliefs of others that during an oral argument on Wednesday he had the nerve to denounce the idea that Jewish veterans may not feel honored by a Latin cross war memorial that sits atop a rocky slope at California's Mojave National Preserve.1) This opening, as it stands, is an irrelevant ad hominem (personal attack on Scalia). Any degree of insensitivity on Scalia's part is irrelevant to the application of the law, minus additional considerations.
Eliasberg's answer to Scalia's question wasn't exactly direct, was it?
"What would you have them erect?" Scalia, a devout Catholic, scoffed. "Some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Muslim half moon and star?"
"I have been in Jewish cemeteries," responded ACLU attorney Peter Eliasberg, who represented Frank Buono, a former National Park Service official who objected to the cross. "There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew."
To that Scalia retorted with irritation: "I don't think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead that that cross honors are the Christian war dead. I think that's an outrageous conclusion."
Outrageous? Really? And if the only monument at an officially designated American war memorial was a large Muslim crescent and star, would Scalia feel included?Highly doubtful, since there is no parallel between using the cross as a grave marker and using the Muslim crescent and star as such. Blumner knows better, doesn't she?
The cross is so ubiquitous in graveyards that it has become a symbol for death, as shown in the advertising campaign to reduce driving speed.So Blumner's question is just another attempt to distract from the point.
It is telling that Congress has weighed in three times to try to keep the cross where it is. Such ridiculous lengths suggest what we all know: Without a constitutional brake, government will use its power to promote the majority's religious beliefs.The majority's belief that the cross has become a general symbol of death in addition to being an explicitly Christian symbol? Or some other majority belief? No doubt Blumner sees the cross only as an attempt to ram Christian belief down her avowedly secularist esophagus. Scalia argues for folks like Blumner to open their eyes to the broader meaning of the cross. But Blumner will have none of it.
Scalia, (wi)ll take any opportunity to water down church-state separation, even if he has to delude himself into thinking that a Christian cross honors people of other faiths.In other words, Blumner apparently denies that the Christian cross can separately have meaning as a symbol of death. Eyes, ears and any other relevant sense closed to Scalia's point.
MOSCOW — If Hillary Rodham Clinton was hoping to win Russian support for efforts to use a threat of sanctions to pressure Iran to come clean about its nuclear ambitions, her first trip to Moscow as secretary of state got off to a rocky start Tuesday.Maybe we need another "reset" button. Unless it really was an "overcharge" button all along, and the Russians are overcharging us despite Secretary of State Clinton's assurance that would not happen.
(St. Petersburg Times)
Lavrov's announcement (pulling the rug out from under a serious sanctions regime--ed.) came despite President Barack Obama's recent decision to scrap plans for a ballistic missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, a system the Kremlin had strenuously opposed. While both sides denied that the decision about the missile defense sites was linked to a deal with Russia about Iran, observers had suspected otherwise.So what did we get in return for ticking off our allies in Eastern Europe? Anything at all?