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Archive for June, 2009

Michael Jackson was Not POTUS

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I don’t have much to say – good or bad – about the late Micheal Jackson. I recognize his musical achievements, though his music never got into my soul the way other artists have. But Jiminy Cricket, why have all the cable news channels turned into all Micheal Jackson all the time? Even Olbermann, Mathews and Blitzer got shanghaied into covering this circus.

I’m not even saying the aftermath of Jackson’s death should not be covered, or that he should be ignored because most people still consider him to be an unconvicted pedophile.

I just think that between health care, cap and trade, the economy, Iran, North Korea and more – much more – there’s a lot of other news to cover.

Hey cable news: I’M NOT WATCHING!!!!!

Written by slothropia

June 26th, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Posted in Media

No to Conceal Carry for Illinois and Peoria

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Here is what I just wrote to the Peoria Journal Star:

Dear PJ Star,

I am writing in response to a Forum letter published on June 20 titled Concealed-carry could save lives in Peoria, submitted by Chuck Emig, responding to a earlier Forum letter from John Longmire. Mr. Emig advocates a concealed/carry law for Peoria and for Illinois. Fair enough, but I wonder on what evidence Mr. Emig bases his support for conceal carry. He says, “If Mr. Longmire would have done some research before writing his letter, he would have seen that crime is down where they have concealed-carry.”

Well, if Mr. Emig had done some research beyond NRA talking points he would known that like every story this one has at least two sides. I have done a little research and I found this conclusion in a study published in the Stanford Law Review titled: Shooting Down the “More Guns Less Crime” Hypothesis “No longer can any
plausible case be made on statistical grounds that shall-issue laws are likely to
reduce crime for all or even most states.”
In another article titled The Latest Misfires in Support of the “More Guns, Less Crime” Hypothesis

In our initial article “Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime”Hypothesis1” we reached two main conclusions: First, that there was no credible statistical evidence that the adoption of concealed-carry (or “shall issue”) laws reduced crime; and second, that the best, although admittedly quite imperfect, data suggested that the laws increased the costs of crime to the tune of $1 billion per year (which is a relatively small number given the total cost of FBI index crimes of roughly $114 billion per year).

Later, Ayres concludes, “We feel confident concluding that we have indeed shot down the more guns, less crime hypothesis.”

I am opposed to a conceal and carry law for Illinois (including Peoria) because more guns means more death, accidental and otherwise. More guns will not stop the drive by shootings and gas stations robberies. Many residents of the areas where these crime occurs want fewer guns on the street, not more.

I just wish that advocates for conceal carry laws would have the intellectual honesty to look at all the data, not just the studies that support their point of view. Maybe the media should look at some of this research as well, so that a reasonable and well informed debate on this issue could finally occur.

Comments welcome.

Written by slothropia

June 22nd, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Health Insurance Conflict of Interest

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Mahablog has an excellent post about the conflict of interest that drives health insurance companies to rescind benefits to their policy holders.

The must-read new story today is by Lisa Girion of the Los Angeles Times. In “Health insurers refuse to limit rescission of coverage,” we find the clearest case yet why the private health care industry will never, ever, not in a million years, come even close to solving the health care crisis.

In a nutshell — yesterday three big insurance company executives — WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc. — told the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations that their business models depended on being able to cancel the health insurance policies of customers who cost them too much money. An investigation by the Committee had found that over a five-year period, these companies had canceled the coverage of more than 20,000 people in order to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims.

Also see one of the comments to the Mahablog post from Bill H.

There was a thing on (I think) ABC News about a guy in Canada who had to wait a year to get a hip replacement. After that wait he got the hip replaced at no cost to him. He went on with his life with a new hip and no bills to pay.

In the US there would be two groups. One group would get the hip replaced without a wait. In this group there would be many who would wind up losing their home because the hospital would sue them for unpaid bills. Those people would be living (with their nice new hips) on the street. The second group would never get the hip replaced at all because they could not pay for it. People in that group would live the rest of their lives in the pain that the Canadian guy suffered for just one year.

Eggzackly to both the post and the comment. I reluctantly support the public option nly because the Democrats have blocked single payer for now. But the soner we get the health insurance companies out of health insurance, the better off we all will be.

Written by slothropia

June 20th, 2009 at 11:09 am

Right Wing Terrorism at D.C. Holocaust Museum

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There they go again.

An armed right wing extremist goes on a rampage and the authorities insist terrorism is not involved (that’s what I heard on MSNBC).

A couple of commenters on Eschaton made me smile grimly. One said “i wouldnt want to associate deranged anti semitism with the right wing, god knows.” Another wrote, “My bet is that it’s someone who can’t decide who’s smarter- Beck or Limbaugh.”

There’s plenty of coverage and comment on this so I won’t clog the tubes much more except to point out that this guy was not a product of Rush, Glenn or Sean. He is too old for that. He is (or was, depending on whether he is alive as I write this) however, part of the audience to which many right wing talk shows pander with dog whistles and coded language. They (including Sean, Glenn and Rush) should be shunned. The should be out of business as of now.

I am not holding my breath.

Written by slothropia

June 10th, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Nova Scotia Election: NDP Majority

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The pollsters got it right. They predicted The NDP would get 45% in today’s election and they did, earning a majority of 31 of the 52 seats in the N.S. legislature. The Liberals got 11 seats and will be Official Opposition. The Tories move from Government to Third Party, a just reward for the hysterically negative campaign they ran.

It appears that NDP Leader Darrell Dexter ran a cautious campaign and managed not to make too many promises that would be difficult to keep. Tonight, he promised to run a fiscally prudent government.

Dexter said he would use this mandate with both caution and enthusiasm. He promised to honour campaign commitments, such as keeping emergency rooms open, taking the HST off electricity costs and fixing rural roads.

“And we will live within our means,” he added.

“Where we stand at this moment is not where we stop,” Dexter said to applause. “It’s where we start.”

Dexter is perhaps fortunate in that his constituents know that there is a global recession going on for which he will not be blamed.

Historically, the Atlantic provinces have been difficult for the NDP, but over the past couple of decades they have built a solid and growing base there. Nova Scotia is of course where the New Dems have had the most success, but there is an small NDP base in both New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador (in PEI, the New Democrats are left wing Liberals). We’ll soon see whether or not Nova Scotia gives its Atlantic neighbors crazy ideas.

In recent months, the Canadian corporate media (which hates the NDP because it is not part of the Liberal/Conservative oligopoly) has waged a vicious jihad against Jack Layton and the federal party. The Liberals are supposed to take all the NDP seats in the next election which will be held ???? This latest success will not change the media dynamic, because the only legitimate parties are the Libs and Tories. Still the Nova Scotia victory helps the federal NDP in a number of ways and Layton has a little bit more wind in his sails than he did yesterday.

Written by slothropia

June 9th, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Nova Scotia Election: NDP Majority Predicted

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I have very little direct experience with politics in the Atlantic province, compared to my experiences in other parts of Canada. I have worked, in various capacities, on NDP federal or provincial campaigns in Yukon, B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. And Newfoundland.

For some reason, I was once asked to manage a byelection campaign in Newfoundland. To this day I still don’t know if it was a ghastly mistake or an act of utter desperation. In any case I was fortunate enough to spend three weeks in one of the most beautiful (if a little chilly) parts of North America, and to spend that time with a truly remarkable group of volunteers and politicians. The New Democrats I met in Newfoundland and Labrador (the official name of the province) were politically savvy and courageous. They knew the odds, in that campaign and in the longer run, were long. They knew the way forward was steep. They were realistic, but determined to make a difference.

I learned two things in that campaign. One is that voters lie to make canvassers feel good. That is true everywhere, but there was an epidemic of it in that byelection. The other thing is that the voters in that campaign wanted tangible benefits from whoever they voted for. It was a lean time on the east coast back then ( the early 90’s) and in many ways still is. This was during a time when there was a moratorium on cod fishing because there were so few of the fish left. That zapped a lot of jobs and left a lot of people struggling to survive.

This was in the early 90’s, and things have perhaps gotten a little easier for the NDP there, but it’s still going to be awhile before there is a New Democratic Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Nova Scotia, otoh, is a completely different kettle of fish. The NDP has been building there for decades, thanks in large part to the efforts of Alexa McDonough, who led the provincial party for many years before becoming federal leader in 1995.

The current leader is Darrel Dexter, who seems to be adored by the voters of Nova Scotia. Predictions are for a pretty solid NDP majority after the polls close tomorrow night.

Again, I don’t know enough about Nova Scotia politics to comment with much insight about the results, but I will report them here and maybe speculate wildly about regional and federal implications.

Written by slothropia

June 8th, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Globe and Mail Disables Margaret Wente/Dr. Tiller Comments

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This is weird.

I usually find Margaret Wente’s columns in the Globe and mail to be apologies for right wing stupidity. She has one today that is refreshingly reality based.

It is sympathetic to recently assassinated Dr. George Tiller and critical of the forced birth (aka pro life) movement. Here is how she concludes:

Despite the killing of Dr. Tiller, the influence of extremist Christianity in the United States is on the decline. This brutal act may only hasten that. But if other doctors are discouraged from doing this painful but necessary work, the killer will have won after all.

I read the whole thing and scrolled down, curious to see how Wente’s readers would respond to her column. Sadly, I found this statement where comments should have been:

Comments have been disabled
Editor’s Note: We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. We appreciate your understanding.

The Globe and Mail appears not to moderate comments to its articles, columns and editorials. Understandable, given how newspapers are bleeding red ink these days. But I am left free to speculate about what those legal reasons might be. Could it be that forced birth(aka pro life) movement activists submitted comments expressing glee over the assassination of Dr. Tiller? Did someone threaten Dr. Morgenthaler? Or did they express outrage and threats tow=ard Wente herself?

Credit where it is due to Wente, a conservative journalist, for writing about forced birth terrorism. It took courage.

Written by slothropia

June 6th, 2009 at 12:12 pm

E.J. Dionne Talks Corporate Media

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E.J. Dionne hit a a home run in his Wapo column today. He’s all about the rightward tilt in American media (details differ but the same principle applies for Canadian Corporate Media).

For starters he says:

A media environment that tilts to the right is obscuring what President Obama stands for and closing off political options that should be part of the public discussion.

And a little later:

While the right wing’s rants get wall-to-wall airtime, you almost never hear from the sort of progressive members of Congress who were on an America’s Future panel on Tuesday. Reps. Jared Polis of Colorado, Donna Edwards of Maryland and Raul Grijalva of Arizona all said warm things about the president — they are Democrats, after all — but also took issue with some of his policies.

All three, for example, are passionately opposed to his military approach to Afghanistan and want a serious debate over the implications of Obama’s strategy. “If we don’t ask these questions now,” said Edwards, “we’ll ask these questions 10 years from now — I guarantee it.”

And whatever happened to single payer as a policy option:

Polis, Edwards and Grijalva also noted that proposals for a Canadian-style single-payer health-care system, which they support, have fallen off the political radar. Polis urged his activist audience to accept that reality for now and focus its energy on making sure that a government insurance option, known in policy circles as the “public plan,” is part of the menu of choices offered by a reformed health-care system.

But Edwards noted that if the public plan, already a compromise from single-payer, is defined as the left’s position in the health-care debate, the entire discussion gets skewed to the right. This makes it far more likely that any public option included in a final bill will be a pale version of the original idea.

And finally:

…For all the talk of a media love affair with Obama, there is a deep and largely unconscious conservative bias in the media’s discussion of policy. The range of acceptable opinion runs from the moderate left to the far right and cuts off more vigorous progressive perspectives.

Dionne doesn’t ask the question but I will. Why does the media act as he describes?

I believe that to answer this question one needs to ask two others.

1. Who owns the media.
2. What is the function of the press in an open capitalistic society?

The answers to those questions lead me to the term, “Corporate Media”, not traditional media, and not mainstream media. In the United States and Canada, the press or the media is meant to promote and protect the interests of the corporations that run everything.

Don’t take my word for it. Just ask this guy.

Written by slothropia

June 4th, 2009 at 11:01 am

The Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies

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Here is one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums.

Written by slothropia

June 4th, 2009 at 10:42 am

Posted in Music

Tagged with ,

No Connection Between GOP Base and Dr. Tillers Assassin

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Hey, remember when this stuff was going on?

Ha, ha. Good times.

It would, of course, be wrong to suggest that whoever assassinated Dr. Tiller might have sympathizers among the people shown in the video above.

Thanks to Buffalo Pundit and Mike Finnigan at Crooks and Liars.

Written by slothropia

June 1st, 2009 at 10:55 am