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America isn’t easy: balancing competing moral claims in advanced citizenship societies

down-the-drain-300x231

America isn’t easy

Building and sustaining a diverse community is not easy.

What should we celebrate?

Celebrate: to perform (a sacrament or ceremony) publicly and with appropriate rites; to honor by solemn ceremonies and refraining from ordinary business; to hold up or play for public notice.

What should we tolerate?

Tolerate: to endure or resist the action of without grave or lasting injury; to suffer to be or to be done without prohibition, hindrance, or contradiction.

What should we not tolerate?

Freedom of Speech: speech as a celebratory, tolerable, or non-tolerable moral action

The right to free speech celebrates the toleration of alternative views and the expression of those views.

“Monsieur l’abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write” – Voltaire (potential misattribution)

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Wōden’s Day Wake-up

odin

Wōden the Wanderer

Those of us who practice that “old-time religion” know that today was named for the Anglo-Saxon god Wōden. He is the pagan god of death, battle, wisdom, discoverer of the runes and leader the Wild Hunt.


Health Care Mandate Sparks Constitutional Debate
The requirement that everyone buy health insurance — a central element to President Obama’s health care plan — is flatly unconstitutional, legal experts argue.


It’s Crunch Time

The next couple of months will be crucial in determining the shape of the financial system for decades to come. And so far, the signs are not encouraging.

The Obama administration is trying to refocus our attention on regulation, beginning with the president’s speech in New York two weeks ago. The financial system, after all, brought us a near-catastrophic crisis that turned a mild recession into a painfully severe one. And Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, says that he still plans to pass a regulatory reform bill before the end of the year.

But in a clear indication of trouble ahead, Frank signaled his intention last week to scale back the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, one of the pillars of the administration’s reform proposals.


Crist stands by prediction Obama could face massive defeat

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is standing by his recent prediction that President Obama may be headed for a massive electoral defeat similar to that which President Carter faced in 1980.

[It] may happen again,” Crist told CNN’s John Roberts on American Morning Tuesday. “What I think has occurred is that in 1976 the people wanted a change…I think the same thing sort of happened last year in America.”


Oil, ideology keep China from joining Iran push
White House frustration grows as Beijing shows reluctance


American Samoa hit by tsunami after earthquake in Pacific

Tsunami sweeps into Pago Pago in American Samoa after an 8.3-magnitude earthquake shook the Pacific – dozens of people killed.



Sarah Palin finishes memoir ahead of schedule

The former Alaska Governor’s “Going Rogue” is due in stores 17 November.


Adolf Hitler suicide story questioned after tests reveal skull is a woman’s

Adolf Hitler’s suicide in his Berlin bunker has been called into question after American researchers claimed that a bullet-punctured skull fragment long believed to belong to the Nazi dictator is, in fact, that of an unknown woman.


FBI: Bloody Silhouette of Child Found in Casey Anthony’s Trunk

The 23-year-old Orlando woman is charged with killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, hiding the child’s remains and lying to investigators about a baby sitter kidnapping her.


Red Sox clinch playoff berth

The SF Giants had a good run but the fat lady is about to sing.


Remember:

Today is the last day of the ninth month.  Tomorrow is October 1st.  Time to start getting ready for All Hallows Eve.


addamsfamily02pm5-785776

"Silence is golden, but duct tape is silver."

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Vast right wing conspiracy

I just had a thought. Compare these two things:

When anyone named Clinton talks about a right wing conspiracy, they’re nuts.

But when Bush the Second talked about how we had to fight Them over there if we didn’t want to fight Them over here, he knew what he was talking about because he had access to secret information.

?

Just because you’re not paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you.

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What’s wrong with young people everybody now

I’ve been thinking about the failures of government recently (1, 2), and it turns out (h/t dakinikat) I’m in good company. Sachs points out that “Not only are Americans deeply divided on what to do about [everything], but government is also failing to execute settled policies effectively. Management systems linking government, business and civil society need urgent repair.”

He goes on to list examples. Failure to prevent 9/11, to prevent the human toll post-Katrina, to prevent or stop corruption in Iraq, in the US’ own military, the financial crisis, the dilapidated “health” care system, and the literally dilapidated infrastructure.

However, despite a clear view of the scope and details of the problem, he doesn’t make the obvious connections about its source. He identifies the factors as insufficiently regulated privatization, collapse of planning functions, underfunding, and the inability of separate agencies to fit their priorities into intelligent overall planning. These factors are all real and they’re all huge problems, but they don’t spring into being on their own.

The technical experts who electrified the rural US, ramped up a vast industrial juggernaut to help win the Second World War, built the interstate road system, got to the Moon, and invented Medicare did not belong to some strange species whose methods are inconceivable to us. They were, by and large (we’re talking about whole populations, so by and large is what matters) the same people as the ones now incapable of running a hamster in a cage without a kickback scheme to pay for its kibble.

So what is different?
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Your Breakfast Read, Sunday Edition

Health Care Clusterf*@k

Two things happened here: First, instead of standing up for the successful parts of Mass Health, Romney decided to denigrate anything that had to with MA, the State that made him a Governor, in order to suck up to the extreme Right-wing; Secondly, there is unbearable mendacity present throutout the ranks of those who don’t want any type of reform and who mainain “we have the best healthcare in the world”
Romney a victim in health care debate

Three years ago, Romney was heralded for his innovative effort to institute near-universal health care in his state. But now that the issue has emerged as a partisan fault line and the Massachusetts plan has provided some guidance for Democratic reform efforts, Romney finds himself bruised and on the defensive as the GOP rallies around opposition to President Barack Obama’s plans.

When Romney came to Washington last week to speak to social conservative activists at the annual Value Voters Summit, his potential 2012 GOP rivals chewed him up in front of the same audience over his Massachusetts legacy.

Jon Kyl says he doesn’t need all this “women stuff”, so why why not flush it all down the toilet in order to achieve a “bipartisan” health care reform?
Health reform: why stakes for women are especially high

[W]omen face steeper healthcare challenges than men. Women interact with the healthcare system more often, because of female-specific health needs, and so are more vulnerable to a system with soaring costs and with restrictions that hurt women specifically.

“The current market doesn’t work very well for women,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D) of Illinois, co-chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, speaking Friday at a breakfast with reporters.

Speaking of “best healtchare in the world”
How Does the Quality of U.S. Health Care Compare Internationally?

Authors Elizabeth Docteur and Robert Berenson find that international studies of health care quality do not in and of themselves provide a definitive answer to this question.

What they do show is that the evidence for American superiority in quality of care (or lack thereof) is a mixed bag, with the nation doing relatively well in some areas—such as cancer care—and less well in others—such as mortality from treatable and preventable conditions.

And while evidence base is incomplete and suffers from other limitations, it does not provide support for the oft-repeated claim that the “U.S. health care is the best in the world.” In fact, there is no hard evidence that identifies particular areas in which U.S. health care quality is truly exceptional.

Addressing the American public’s widespread concern about the potential negative impact of health reform on the quality of care they currently receive, the authors conclude that reform should in fact be seen as an opportunity to systematically improve quality of care, rather than a threat to the existing system. It provides an opportunity to build on strengths and correct weaknesses in U.S. health care, working towards aims for improvement that the care provided is safe, effective, patient centered, timely, efficient and equitable.


More from the new must-read book.
Family Ties: The Other Bill Clinton

In acclaimed historian Taylor Branch’s new book The Clinton Tapes — woven from Branch’s recorded conversations with the President from 1993 to 2001 — the portrait of the relationship between Bill Clinton, a man who never knew his own father, and his daughter reveals a side we rarely saw on the public stage. Bill Clinton, it turns out, raised a daughter and ran the free world, sometimes in that order.

If you don’t believe it, consider the fight Branch describes between Clinton and Al Gore in November 1995. Gore told Clinton the President needed to visit Japan to heal a rift caused when Clinton failed to attend an APEC economic summit. Looking over Clinton’s calendar, Gore noticed three light days in January. No, Clinton said, he needed to be home for Chelsea, who’d be taking her junior-year midterms. Gore was dumbstruck. “Al,” Clinton said, “I am not going to Japan and leave Chelsea by herself to take these exams.”

CA GOP Convention looks like fun.
Top Republican GOP candidates joust at convention

Steve Poizner points to Meg Whitman’s apparent failure to vote until she was 46 years old. Tom Campbell mocks his rivals’ budget plans.

“Is That Any Way to Treat a Brother?” Cont’d
House ally criticizes Obama over advice he gave governor

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, in an unusual public spat involving three of the nation’s most prominent black politicians, criticized President Barack Obama for reportedly pressuring New York Gov. David Paterson not to seek a full term.

In an interview for broadcast Sunday on “Washington Watch With Roland Martin,” a new talk show, Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress and a close Obama ally, reacted sharply to published reports that Obama emissaries had advised the unpopular incumbent against running next year.


Around The Nation

Can a “Father” get a table dance? Silly me! I thought he was just praying for her sins.
The priest, the stripper, and their baby

She was an exotic dancer at a Miami strip club called Porky’s. He showed up wearing a Hawaiian shirt, eager to share a night in the VIP lounge.

They began a torrid, on-and-off love affair that ended for good in January, after she gave birth to a daughter she says is his. Now, she wants child support and has filed a restraining order against him.

It might be a routine, if tawdry, court case if not for respondent David Dueppen’s job: Catholic priest with the Miami Archdiocese.

Group marches for ‘white civil rights’ in wake of bus beating

A group waving flags adorned with swastikas traded insults with and challenged a crowd of about 250 onlookers from behind yellow wooden barricades manned by police including SWAT members during a midday protest Saturday.

The making of a horror show.
Michelle Phillips and Friends Speak Out about Mackenzie’s Incest Allegations

I applaud Mackenzie Phillips’s crushingly difficult honesty. Even in our confessional culture, there are a few taboos that never stop shaming the confessor, and incest is one of those few. It is, simply put, a life-ruiner, and it’s amazing that Mackenzie, addictions notwithstanding, survived as productively as she has. But what do the people in her family, and the Mamas and Papas family, think of her revelations? I made some inquiries.


Economy Watch

6 to 1! Yaowza! Those among us with a job should hang on very tight, it’s rough out there.
U.S. Job Seekers Exceed Openings by Record Ratio

Despite signs that the economy has resumed growing, unemployed Americans now confront a job market that is bleaker than ever in the current recession, and employment prospects are still getting worse.

Job seekers now outnumber openings six to one, the worst ratio since the government began tracking open positions in 2000. According to the Labor Department’s latest numbers, from July, only 2.4 million full-time permanent jobs were open, with 14.5 million people officially unemployed.

I’ll believe it when I see it. Washington and London don’t seem to be as serious about these reforms as Paris and Berlin are.
World Leaders Commit to Rein in Financial Bonuses

The leaders of 20 of the world’s biggest economies committed to a laundry list of executive pay reforms for financial firms, including limiting bonuses to a portion of total net revenues and linking them tightly to share prices. But don’t count on sweeping mandates from regulators just yet.

Listen to this man. He’s very smart.
Clinton’s Cure For Capitalism

Former President Bill Clinton, in an exclusive interview with Forbes this week, stated adamantly that major multinational companies must put their customers’ and employees’ interests before those of shareholders in order to promote economic development and growth, especially in the emerging markets.

Clinton also adamantly criticized Wall Street’s use of exotic securities like derivative contracts and asset-backed securities. “We created all these new securities, which have no value and create no jobs,” Clinton charged in the interview. He strongly suggested that the markets would be more stable and benign if investors would return to the practice of long-term investing.

Our useless “Watchdog”
As Subprime Lending Crisis Unfolded, Watchdog Fed Didn’t Bother Barking

Between 2004 and 2007, bank affiliates made more than 1.1 million subprime loans, around 13 percent of the national total, federal data show. Thousands ended in foreclosure, helping to spark the crisis and leaving borrowers and investors to deal with the consequences.
[…]
The Federal Reserve is best known as an economic shepherd, responsible for adjusting interest rates to keep prices steady and unemployment low. But since its creation, the Fed has held a second job as a banking regulator, one of four federal agencies responsible for keeping banks healthy and protecting their customers. Congress also authorized the Fed to write consumer protection rules enforced by all the agencies.


Hot Spots

What to do with a war that’s becoming unpopular by the day?
Plan to Boost Afghan Forces Splits Obama Advisers

As President Obama weighs sending more troops to Afghanistan, one of the most consequential decisions of his presidency, he has discovered that the military is not monolithic in support of the plan and that some of the civilian advisers he respects most have deep reservations.

No Deadline Set for Decision on Troops

President Obama has not set a deadline for determining a new strategy or for committing more troops to the war in Afghanistan, despite an urgent request from his top commander, his national security adviser said Saturday.

In a lengthy telephone interview, retired Gen. James L. Jones outlined Obama’s plans for reassessing the war effort. Jones noted that although the administration has seen some progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it remains uncertain about the outcome of President Hamid Karzai’s contentious bid for reelection.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran thinks Obama should either go for it, or fold. No “bipartisan” solution is warranted.
In Afghanistan, Splitting the Difference May Be Obama’s Most Dangerous Choice

As Obama and senior members of his national security team plot the way forward in Afghanistan following Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s assessment, and in anticipation of the general’s expected request for as many as 40,000 additional troops for the war, the starkest choices may be the president’s best options. The most dangerous course, according to some military strategists and diplomats in Afghanistan, is what Obama often gravitates toward: the middle ground.

Meanwhile, on the Iran front…
U.S. to Demand Inspection of New Iran Plant ‘Within Weeks’

The Obama administration plans to tell Iran this week that it must open a newly revealed nuclear enrichment site to international inspectors “within weeks,” according to senior administration officials. The administration will also tell Tehran that inspectors must have full access to the key personnel who put together the clandestine plant and to the documents surrounding its construction

I think Iran has already responded.
Iran missile tests stoke tensions

Iran has tested two short-range missiles and announced plans for a controversial long-range missile test, state TV reports.

Just in case you forgot, there’s also Pakistan.
US threatens airstrikes in Pakistan

The United States is threatening to launch airstrikes on Mullah Omar and the Taliban leadership in the Pakistani city of Quetta as frustration mounts about the ease with which they find sanctuary across the border from Afghanistan.

The threat comes amid growing divisions in Washington about whether to deal with the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan by sending more troops or by reducing them and targeting the terrorists.

Frank Rich puts it all together. This is a very critical phase for the Obama presidency.
Obama at the Precipice

THE most intriguing, and possibly most fateful, news of last week could not be found in the health care horse-trading in Congress, or in the international zoo at the United Nations, or in the Iran slapdown in Pittsburgh. It was an item tucked into a blog at ABCNews.com. George Stephanopoulos reported that the new “must-read book” for President Obama’s war team is “Lessons in Disaster” by Gordon M. Goldstein, a foreign-policy scholar who had collaborated with McGeorge Bundy, the Kennedy-Johnson national security adviser, on writing a Robert McNamara-style mea culpa about his role as an architect of the Vietnam War.

Gelnn Greenwald has some questions.
Should any Iraq lessons be applied to Iran?


Around The World

Fidel Castro’s Cuba full of his offspring after years of womanising by El Commandante

When journalist Ann Louise Bardach asked Castro how many children he had during an interview with Vanity Fair in 1993, he smiled and answered “almost a tribe”.

During the research for Without Fidel, her new book chronicling the lives of Castro and his brother, Raul, to be published by Scribner, she discovered how true that observation was.

It’s election day today here in Germany. Angela Merkel’s party (CDU) will certainly keep the majority. The main opposition and coalition partner, the center-left SPD may be in for some shellacking, and I don’t understand why. The only thing interesting question is how many votes are the extreme left parties going to gather and how well is the liberal party FDP going to do (I don’t understand why anyone in his right mind would vote for those guys).
All thing considered, this has been the most boring election with the most boring personalities I’ve ever witnessed.
The Enemy Within: Angela Merkel’s Fight to Hold on to Power

German Chancellor Angela Merkel may look set for another term in office, but her political future hinges on the election result. If her CDU party ends up having to form another grand coalition with the center-left SPD, it will spell the beginning of the end of her political career.

Diverse Sources Fund Insurgency In Afghanistan Poses Challenge

The Taliban-led insurgency has built a fundraising juggernaut that generates cash from such an array of criminal rackets, donations, taxes, shakedowns and other schemes that U.S. and Afghan officials say it may be impossible to choke off the movement’s money supply.


Odds & Ends

Ever heard of resurrection?
“Dead” baby wakes up for his funeral wake

A baby boy born 16 weeks prematurely was declared dead by doctors at a hospital in Paraguay only to wake up in time for his funeral wake hours later.

How ’bout them bad girls?
The ten most notorious female criminals

[T]here is no shortage of women in history who have been anything but law-abiding. From ‘the Queen of London whoredom’ who charged £250,000 for a single night of her services, notorious drug baron ‘The Godmother’, or ‘Hell-Cat Maggie’ with her specially sharpened teeth, there’s a criminal here to satisfy every warped taste.


HAVE A NICE SUNDAY!!!

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Shitzengiggles Open Thread

celebrity-pictures-frankenstein-good-sht


I discovered a funny site called “Texts From Last Night.”  It consists of copies of text messages – some by themselves and some with responses – submitted by men and women, most of whom seem to be about college age.

I should warn you that some are disgusting, obscene and/or offensive, but many are hilarious.  Here’s a few reprintable samples:


(812): The sex was so good, I called my ex during the 2nd time just so he could hear. Is that mean?
****************************
(301): saw a man at the beach in a red speedo. when he rolled over he unintentionally displayed a HUGE skid mark.
****************************
(816): I accidentally asked my mom for a blowjob because ‘mom’ and ‘molly’ are next to each other in my address book.
****************************
(251): Why do you have Season One of Reba in your underwear drawer?
(1-251): Why are you in my underwear drawer?
****************************
(215): saw you walking with that piece of shit
(267): and that piece of shit just read that
****************************
(515): Well, I’m a guy so I don’t have one, but if its anything like the inside of my nose, yes, vodka would burn.
****************************
(915): so she asked me if I thought she was fat and naturally I said no….. but I think she might catch on
(1-915): who is she? I really hope you have an explanation cause either you think I’m fat or you’re cheating on me
****************************
(773): My landlord doesn’t knock anymore when he shows the apt… So i just had sex in front of a family.
(1-773): didn’t stop?
(773): naw, they were rude, not me.
****************************
(515): …there is blood under my fingernails.
(515): …I hope my roomates are okay.
****************************
(204): My cousin’s wedding had personal beer funnels for each table and a drinking game against the bride and groom. im sorry for ever calling you white trash
****************************
(267): Singing into hair straightener during spice girls….sooo dangerous
****************************
(905): My vagina is so ashamed right now. It won’t even look at me.
****************************
(780): Did we use protection last night?
(1-780): Um, no…keep in touch, okay?
****************************
(678): He wanted a quickie. I said, can I play doodle jump on my iPhone during? And that’s exactly how it went.
****************************
(702): He asked if it was my vagina. I told him it was my butt. Clearly I need to buy him a map of the female form.
****************************
(443): shhh. i hid the ranch dip behind the rooster. don’t tell anyone that way you can find it in the morning and it won’t be all eaten.
(610): wrong number but thanks


What’s made you laugh recently?

The Obama Delusion and Health Care Reform

Obama Transition

The Obama Delusion: The belief that although President Obama is a liberal and has liberal values and goals, he cleverly pretends not to be a liberal in order to to fool Republicans into supporting his agenda.

{{Sigh…}} Where to begin? While perusing Memeorandum this morning, I noticed Booman’s post from yesterday about “11-dimensional chess.” Frankly, the less said about Booman’s post, the better. It’s just embarrassingly silly and illogical. Besides, Big Tent Democrat, who coined the term “11-dimensional chess,” has already handily disposed of Booman’s arguments, such as they are.

Booman’s post was prompted by one at the Cheeto in which the author, Maimonides, makes the claim that Obama, along with his trusty enforcer Rahm Emanuel, are actually using not 11-dimensional chess, but “Sun Tzu’s the strategy of “formlessness,” outlined in this quote:

“Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”

Here is what Maimonides thinks Obama and his capo are up to:

For several months now I’ve been pushing the idea that President Obama is engaged in the Sun Tsu strategy of “formlessness.” This strategy is not the much-derided “11-D Chess” that so many choose to dismiss. This is the very simple and time-tested strategy of not taking a position that is easily defined by your opponents, of not giving them anything to attack. By doing so, one forces one’s opponents to take positions, giving you the advantage of adaptability and information, which they now lack.

Maimonides also claims to have some vital inside information, but, sadly, he/she cannot reveal the sources of that information.

You may not see reports of what Rahm Emanuel says to your Congressperson. You may not hear rumors of it. But it is going on all the time; what did you think he spent his time doing, checking in on Dkos diaries? Rahm is putting pressure where he is told to, floating trial balloons as directed, keeping all options on the table, and most of all keeping Obama’s strategy of formlessness alive. Until he’s directed otherwise.

Which brings us to now. Rumor in DC* is that Rahm has gotten exactly what he wanted: a “Big mess,” as Rahm reportedly described it. Formlessness has payed off. There are virtually no Congressional players left whose opinions we do not know, and every option has been talked to death. And now the Administration, rather than having its policies debated to death, has the ability to sweep in and choose among the options presented.

*Here I open myself to claims that I’m using unsourced “insider knowledge”, which is true, I am. You can take it or leave it, but I would hope that you would be open to the possibility that those of us working in the trenches may hear things that you do not.

Okay? See, Maimonides has inside sources, because he/she “works in the trenches.” But we just have to take that and the “rumors” Maimonides has heard on faith–just like we have to take on faith that Obama wants health care for all at a reasonable price.

Here’s the thing. In a sense I agree with Maimonides that Rahm and Barack have gotten exactly what they wanted–a “big mess.” And for all I know, Obama and Emanuel may both have read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and may be using it as a guide for their political strategy. But whether the “mess” is the result of a deliberate strategy or just one big clusterf*ck is irrelevant to the President’s actual goals for health care “reform.” Continue reading