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H&LA “True False/Fake Real”

June 25, 2009

Health care reform’s defenders

June 25, 2009

Here’s something to make you optimistic: The left is learning how to unite to have power in the House. The Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are uniting and saying they won’t vote for a plan that doesn’t have a strong public option:

“We cannot move forward without a strong public option,” stated Congressman Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-07), Co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “Health care costs are skyrocketing for everyone, and our health is worsening. It is time that we attain health care reform that prioritizes and alleviates the financial burden on families.”

“The benefits of a public health plan are clear. A public health plan will guarantee coverage regardless of pre-existing condition. A public health plan will give patients a choice of doctors and hospitals. And a public health plan will build in incentives for private insurers to lower costs to compete,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-09), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. “When it comes to the public plan, know that the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus speak with one voice.”

Tough love

June 25, 2009

If there’s one thing America likes, it’s being tough on criminals. We send more people to prison and hold them there longer for the same crimes as compared with any other country in the world. Even China’s got nothing on us when it comes to imprisoning people.

And when they’re there we’re more worried that they’ll think that it’s a country club than actually reforming criminals or helping them have other options when they get out of prison. Take this story, for example, which highlights America’s lack of give a fuck when it comes to prisoners:

The announced purpose of the PLRA was to curb the filing of frivolous prisoner litigation. In reality, the PLRA makes it almost impossible for most prisoners to file any civil rights claims regardless of the merits: Prisoners are forever barred from seeking redress of their most fundamental constitutional and human rights in federal court unless, within a very few days of the violation, they can successfully navigate a maze of arcane, arbitrary and intricate internal grievance rules set by prison officials — rules which civil rights lawyers themselves often find baffling.

The PLRA has an especially harsh impact on victims of prison rape, as the ACLU has discovered time and again in interviews of scores of rape victims in prisons and jails around the country. It was the stuff of nightmares to discover (especially in Texas, which at least until recently deserved the name of Prison Rape Capital of the nation) how many young men are forced into prostitution by violent prison gangs (PDF). It is even more chilling to find out that the common response of prison officials to the victims’ desperate pleas for protection is to tell them their only two options were to “fight or fuck.”

It is equally horrific to discover how commonplace it is for women and men — especially those who are young, gay, mentally ill or otherwise especially vulnerable — to be sexually abused, and sometimes brutally raped, by custodial staff who then warn them that if they report the assault they will be disbelieved, punished and set up on bogus charges that would lengthen their prison terms by years. It is nothing short of heartbreaking to have to tell these men, women and youth that they have no right to go to federal court because, while they were still reeling, trembling and bleeding from sexual assault, they did not manage to fill out the proper forms in the proper order.

It’s apparently too much to ask that prisoners not be treated this way in America. And I can’t imagine any problem with having a sector of the population who’s made some bad decisions physically and mentally traumatized….

Iconic photo

April 16, 2009

I wanted to pass along this image, which, for me, is representative of the entire “redirect populist anger” purpose of the protest:

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As BAGNewsNotes puts it:

What it captures for me, in this woman’s “crest fallen” version of an anti-tax/anti-Obama/anti-Government/anti-bailout/anti-(fill in the blank) Lady Liberty, is that Americans truly are hurting, angry and depressed … and thus ripe for such cheap exploitation.

The woman looks sad and ridiculous in the plastic cap, but there’s no doubt that she sincerely believes in what she’s protesting for.

But does she know about all the corporate money being poured into these protests to get anyone at all to show up? Where were these folks, with all their signs about the Constitution, when our rights were being picked apart by the Bush administration these last 8 years? Where were these folks, who are upset about spending, before the war or while Wall Street was destroying the global financial system?

The thing is, I can see how someone would end up at a protest like that. Liberals and other people who make sense don’t make enough of an effort to explain their politics to people who don’t agree with them, and there is a very noisy conservative machine that makes no sense if you think about it for longer than two seconds, but that many people don’t think too critically about.

Instead, a person who may actually be suffering from materially tough times, puts on a silly hat and drapes herself with American flags to attack the enemy du jour, this time increased taxes on the rich.

Her kind is in the minority now, but it wasn’t too long ago when they controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House.

DP’s expanded in Washington state

April 16, 2009

Washington state domestic partnerships are now completely equal, in rights, to marriage:

The Democratic-controlled House approved the Senate-passed measure on a mostly party-line 62-35 vote after nearly two hours of debate. It next goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who said she will sign it into law. 

“Our state is one that thrives on diversity,” Gregoire, a Democrat, said in a statement. “We have to respect and protect all of the families that make up our communities.”

The bill expands on previous domestic partnership laws by adding reference to partnerships alongside all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are mentioned. The statutes range from labor and employment rights to pensions and other public employee benefits.

The right is saying that this hurts marriage, of course.
What about creating a solution whereby there are both DP’s and marriage? There’s no reason not to, and it would protect a more diverse body of families than the current situation does.
The article goes on to discuss same-sex marriage and a bunch of facts that surround it, but why don’t we move on and start thinking of DP’s as something both valuable and separate from marriage?

Same-sex attraction in the military

April 16, 2009

There’s a particularly stupid column in today’s Washington Post from generals advocating against lifting DADT. Jonathan Capehart responds (online only). 

One thing that stands out from the column is this argument from the generals’ column as particularly inane:

“Zero tolerance” of dissent would become official intolerance of anyone who disagrees with this policy, forcing additional thousands to leave the service by denying them promotions or punishing them in other ways. Many more will be dissuaded from ever enlisting. 

Yes, because if there’s one thing the military is known for, it’s its tolerance of dissent from enlisted folk.

George Will’s anti-denim nanny state

April 16, 2009

If you’re reading this blog, then you probably already know that I just plain don’t like George Will. Today he hit a new low, devoting an entire vapid column to making fun of jeans.

He calls them adolescent. You know what’s also adolescent? Libertarianism. As a few people more intelligent than I am described, it’s the political philosophy of people who haven’t gotten over the stage in life where they’re rebelling against parental authority and trying to do whatever pleases them.

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