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HOW TO ACCOMMODATE AN UNINFORMED ELECTORATE

HOW TO ACCOMMODATE AN UNINFORMED ELECTORATE....


If you're reading this blog, you're almost certainly well versed on the basics. You're well aware of the fact, for example, that Republicans have opposed health care reform en masse and that overcoming constant filibusters poses an almost insurmountable challenge.
But you're far more informed than the typical person. And there are consequences associated with an uninformed electorate.
The public has consistently expressed strong interest in the health care debate, but relatively few Americans can correctly answer two key questions related to the Senate's consideration of health care legislation.
In the latest installment of the Pew Research Center's News IQ Quiz, just 32% know that the Senate passed its version of the legislation without a single Republican vote. And, in what proved to be the most difficult question on the quiz, only about a quarter (26%) knows that it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster in the Senate and force a vote on a bill.
This obviously poses a serious political problem. Americans don't really know what's in the Democratic health care reform proposal, but just as important, the vast majority of Americans don't know what it takes to overcome a filibuster.
It creates a situation in which the public sees a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress, and doesn't understand why more isn't getting done.
Democratic strategists and officials occasionally think Republicans will be punished for their unprecedented, reflexive obstructionism. But it's worth remembering that most of the public doesn't really follow this stuff. They don't know about the constant filibusters -- they may not know what a filibuster even is -- and generally don't care about procedural matters.
In other words, Republicans have embraced one simple tactic -- the single most important weapon in the GOP arsenal -- and used it to prevent the governing party from functioning. And Americans aren't really aware of that.MORE



Obvs the media ain't doing the job of informing Americans. But what I want to know is, are we taught in school how congress works? Are kids taught why this is important? And this is creating serious black humor for me as well...


Why FL just got High Speed Rail


The American public unfortunately lacks patience for and understanding of civil works projects. Frustration with perceived high costs and delays dovetail into conservative anti-government and anti-labor memes.

The Florida high speed rail project is expected to take a mere 4 1/2 years. Even accounting for construction delays, should President Obama be reelected, he can indeed fulfill his promise and ride the first train while in office. We are looking at a project that can be completed possibly before the 2014 midterm elections, and hopefully with certainty before the 2016 general election.

Allowing for the low cost of the 84mi rail line is Florida's uniformly low grade and plentiful right of way, with an elevation change of less than 150ft along the route. Interstate 4, known for its traffic and congestion, currently permits about 90min of travel time between Tampa and Orlando. At 160mpg, the Florida High Speed rail link could make the trip in a mere 44min.

3. The Domino Effect:

By starting with the easiest effort first, that is most likely to succeed and produce a tangible (and hopefully attractive) result quickly, other regions of the community will hopefully demand equal federal investment in high speed rail travel for completion long after President Obama has left office. It's no longer a matter of pointing to Europe or Japan, but come 2014, pointing to Central Florida. If they can build a high speed rail line there, quickly and inexpensively, why can't they build one everywhere?

As progressives, it is so tempting to be impatient.

Why only $8.5 billion for high speed rail? Why not $85 billion in high speed rail, especially when compared to the Pentagon's budget or what Nations like China are investing?

But we must never forget that something so appealing to the sane is still a hard sell in a country populated by so much insanity. A case in point would be the "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Bullet Train" bumper stickers, combined with successful lobbying from Southwest Airlines, that doomed the Texas high speed rail plan.MORE




In the good news dept:In the meantime, Pres. Obama apparently beat the living HELL (rhetorically) out of the Republicans this morning at their GOP conference in Maryland. And FOX news decided to cut off the questions in the middle of the question time:




Transcript
Obama: Let me say this about health care and the health care debate, because I think it also bears on a whole lot of other issues. If you look at the health care package that we've presented ... But at its core, if you look at the basic proposal that we put forward, that has an exchange so that businesses and the self-employed can buy into a pool, and can get bargaining power the same way that big companies do, the insurance reforms that I've already discussed, making sure that there's choice in competition for those that don't have health insurance -- the component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard Baker, Bob Dole, and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this debate last year. Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker, and certainly you don't agree with Tom Daschle on much, but that's not a radical bunch.
But if you were to listen to the debate -- and frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you'd think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot! No, I mean, that's how you guys, that's how you guys presented it. And so I'm thinking to myself, 'Well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist' -- no, look, I'm just sayin', I know you guys disagree, but if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans -- it's similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.
So all I'm saying is, we've got to close the gap between the rhetoric and the reality. I'm not suggesting that we're going to agree on everything, whether it's on health care or energy or what have you. But if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me.
I mean, the fact of the matter is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your home base, in your own party. You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion, because what you've been telling your constituents is. 'This guy's doin' all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America!' MORE



And the Repubs themselves are regretting that they allowed him in with TV cameras.

grittv

Jan. 26th, 2010 03:33 pm
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Melissa Harris-Lacewell: Citizenship is a Long-Term Game



In the wake of what some called the worst week for democracy since Bush v. Gore, with the Democrats seeming to give up after losing one Senate seat and the Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate influence on elections, we turn to Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Princeton professor, Nation contributor, and author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought for some clarification–and consolation.
Harris-Lacewell offers some thoughts on why it’s lazy and dangerous to refer to political opponents as crazy, on the way the health care reform process has provided a valuable civics lesson, and how political campaigns are beholden to money.



Though as I listen I think it may be problematic in its use of the terms "crazy" and "mad". Am I right?





Raj Patel has spent a lot of time studying the way resources are distributed among people, and he’s watched spiraling inequality leave many people with nothing while concentrating wealth in the hands of the few. From the food system, which he studied in Stuffed and Starved, to the bank bonuses still being handed out, he argues that something has to change.
In his new book, The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy, Patel lays out some solutions. He joins Laura in studio to talk about consumerism, labor, violence against women, and the way we need to think about happiness.




ETA: Raj Patel's voice is hitting my British accent kink. And my intelligence kink. AHEM. Back to the point.
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I don't even KNOW right now. WHUT?
D.C.'s Murderous Prostitution Policy

This is the stupidest thing
I’ve heard so far this year.
 

Anti-prostitution policies in D.C. pose serious threats to health and safety of community members identified or otherwise targeted as sex workers. Two policies stand out in particular: first, “move along” polices geared at cleansing certain neighborhoods of sex workers; and second, the use of condoms and safe sex as evidence to arrest or prosecute someone for prosecution and the related practice of confiscating and destroying condoms and other safe sex materials.


...


I hardly know where to begin. For starters, as a former HIV/AIDS prevention educator, I think carrying condoms and having them on hand is a terrific idea for anyone who’s sexually active. Period. When my boys are old enough I plan to tell them “the facts of life,” right down to how to protect themselves and their partners from STD’s, unwanted pregnancies, etc.

Sure, as a parent, I’d prefer that they abstain from having having sex until they are old enough and mature enough to deal with all the potential consequences and outcomes. But at the same time, if they’re going to be sexually active, I’d want them to use condoms. I’d want them to have condoms with them. I’d make sure they know how to use them. I’d even go to the drug store and buy condoms, and give them to my boys myself, to make sure they have them.

(I’d do the exact same thing for a daughter, if I had one, because I’d want her to have her own on hand.)
Because I’m a parent, but I’m also a realist. I don’t imagine that not teaching them about condoms, and not they have them is somehow going to stop them from having sex. They’re people. People have sex. People have sex with or without condoms, birth control, etc. People have sex without regard for the consequences, sometimes. And I don’t think my kids should have their lives unalterably changed by an STD or unplanned pregnancies, just for having sex. I don’t think they should sacrifice their lives for having sex. I don’t think anyone should. People have sex. There’s little you can do to stop them.
FURTHERMORE




The Politics of Being Transgender (Seriously Mr. Letterman? Really?)



Barack Obama made the first transgender political appointments that we know of recently–Amanda Simpson, appointed last week as senior technical adviser in the Bureau of Industry and Security in the Commerce Department, and Dylan Orr, special assistant to Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathleen Martinez in the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor–but even David Letterman couldn’t resist making a crack at Simpson’s expense.

The “T” at the end of LGBT often seems like an afterthought, with transgender rights being excluded even when LGBT rights are approved. Today on GRITtv we talk to Julia Serano, author of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, Naomi Clark of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and blogger at Feministe, and filmmaker Jules Rosskam of Against a Trans Narrative, featured on GRITtv last summer, about being transgender in the U.S. and how far we still have to go.

 



The college admissions scam


Faith Leaders To Move Their Money Out Of Bank Of America Unless Demands Are Met HELLS YES. WOOT!!!
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New Yorker Review


These days, we can only dream about a federal program insuring that women with school-age children have affordable child care. If such a thing seems beyond the realm of possibility, though, that’s another sign of our false-memory syndrome. In the early seventies, we very nearly got it. In 1971, a bipartisan group of senators, led by Walter Mondale, came up with legislation that would have established both early-education programs and after-school care across the country. Tuition would be on a sliding scale based on a family’s income bracket, and the program would be available to everyone but participation was required of no one. Both houses of Congress passed the bill.

Nobody remembers this, because, later that year, President Nixon vetoed the Comprehensive Child Development Act, declaring that it “would commit the vast moral authority of the National Government to the side of communal approaches to child rearing” and undermine “the family-centered approach.” He meant “the traditional-family-centered approach,” which requires women to forsake every ambition apart from motherhood.

So close. And now so far. The amazing journey of American women is easier to take pride in if you banish thoughts about the roads not taken. When you consider all those women struggling to earn a paycheck while rearing their children, and start to imagine what might have been, it’s enough to make you want to burn something. 




*sigh* In view of our ridiculous healthcare debate, this bit of news infuriates me.

get When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present in combination with Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Clinton (This cover is fucking AWFUL)

and this too looks interesting: Separate Roads to Feminism: Black, chicana, and White Feminist Movements in America's Second Wave


and Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire



any more suggestions leave in comments.


and one day we will get a fully inclusive one stop shop history. Excerpt from When Everything Changed
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The Other Side of Choice: Giving Birth in America



The Bellevue Hospital Natural Birth center in Manhattan, one of the few centers that cater not to the wealthy but to poor women, closed this month amid controversy. With the ongoing debate about health care reform and costs, decisions about childbirth are getting lost in the shuffle.
We discuss the closing of the birth center and the medicalization of childbirth with Katherine Abelson, midwife at the Brooklyn Birthing Center, Elan McAllister, doula and president and founder of Choices in Childbirth, and Debra Pascali-Bonaro, doula and director and producer of Orgasmic Birth.


Repost:On Doulas

EDIT: One of the ladies says something rather disturbing, that someone she works with refuses to let a woman choose the medical method of delivering babies. Which is the same type of nonsense that they are complaining about the medical industry in the first place. Luckily everyone else affirms the fact that a woman can choose what she wants. Link to paper on water births
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How can health care reporting get worse? Add abortion to the mix

If you want an illustration of how conservative framing dominates media coverage of politics and policy, you need only watch Chris Matthews talk about abortion each night on Hardball. Since early summer, the Hardball host has been hyping anti-abortion complaints about proposed health care reform, even though the proposals would have done nothing to expand abortion rights. In doing so, he has trafficked in falsehoods, embraced flawed and illogical conservative talking points, and portrayed pro-choice advocates who have already compromised as rigid, unyielding ideologues.

The controversy stems from conservative claims that proposed health care reforms would undermine or circumvent the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits direct federal payments for abortion services (with exceptions for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest, and for those that are necessary to save a woman's life). Those claims are incorrect: The proposed legislation would have maintained the status quo.

It is important to keep in mind that the status quo -- the Hyde Amendment -- already constitutes a compromise by supporters of abortion rights. Abortion is a legal medical procedure; a ban on federal funding for it is a substantial concession by abortion-rights advocates. (You might be tempted to think of Hyde as a similarly substantial concession by abortion-rights opponents, as they want the procedure to be illegal. But it isn't really a legislative concession, as the preferred outcome of abortion-rights opponents -- an outright ban on abortion -- is unconstitutional, and thus off the table.)

So, that's the background: Proposed health care reform would maintain the status quo when it comes to federal payments for abortion services -- a status quo that already represents a significant concession by abortion-rights advocates.

But those basic facts haven't been reflected in Chris Matthews' coverage. (Matthews' comments about abortion and health care reform have by no means been unique; I focus on him here because he has addressed the subject regularly over the past several months, and because it serves as yet another reminder that, despite conventional wisdom, neither Matthews nor MSNBC is really "liberal.")MORE
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Going Dutch: How I learned to love the European Welfare State


I wonder if the Dutch would be so well knit as a country if they had a higher immigrant population?
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Grayson v. Broun on the Constitution



Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) humbles Hudson Institute dilettante over health care bankruptcies


Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) humbles Hudson Institute dilettante over health care bankruptcies
This during a senate Judiciary sub-committee hearing on bankruptcies driven by catastrophic medical expenses
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This morning I wake up to THIS: Rape is a preexisting condition


This after THESE:


Domestic violence is a preexisting condition


Baby too fat to get insurance


Baby too thin to get insurance


Genitial Reconstruction of women suffering from genital mutilation? Cosmetic surgery


You become seriously sick? They might just take your coverage



Or just don't pay


Real ‘Norma Rae’ dead of cancer after battle with health insurer

Free-Market Death Panels


Insurance Company Must Pay $10 Million For Revoking Policy Of Teen With HIV


The "death panels" are already here :Sorry, Sarah Palin -- rationing of care? Private companies are already doing it, with sometimes fatal results

A study by the American Medical Association found the biggest insurance companies in the country denied between 2 and 5 percent of claims put in by doctors last year (though the AMA noted that not all the denials were improper). There is no national database of insurance claim denials, though, because private insurance companies aren't required to disclose such stats. Meanwhile, a House Energy and Commerce Committee report in June found that just three insurance companies kicked at least 20,000 people off their rolls between 2003 and 2007 for such reasons as typos on their application paperwork, a preexisting condition or a family member's medical history. People who buy insurance under individual policies, about 6 percent of adults, may be especially vulnerable, but the 63 percent of adults covered by employer-provided insurance aren't immune to difficulty.
...

Here is a look at a handful of healthcare horror stories, brought to you by the current system. It took Salon staff less than an hour to round these up -- which might indicate how many other such stories are out there

-- In October 2008, Michael Napientak, a doorman from Clarendon Hills, Ill., went to the hospital for surgery to relieve agonizing back pain. His wife's employer's insurance provider, a subsidiary of UnitedHealthCare, had issued a pre-authorization for the operation. The operation went well. But in April, the insurer started sending notices that it wouldn't pay for the surgery, after all; the family, not the insurance provider, would be on the hook for the $148,000 the hospital charged for the procedure. Pre-authorization, the insurance company explained, didn't necessarily guarantee payment on a claim would be forthcoming. The company offered shifting explanations for why it wouldn't pay -- first, demanding proof that Napientak had tried less expensive measures to relieve his pain, and then, when he provided it, insisting that it lacked documentation for why the surgery was medically necessary. Napientak's wife, Sandie, asked her boss to help out, but with no luck. Fortunately for the Napientaks, they were able to attract the attention of a Chicago Tribune columnist before they had to figure out how to pay the six-figure bill -- once the newspaper started asking questions, the insurer suddenly decided, "based on additional information submitted," to cover the tab, after all..MORE


They make pretty good money


But you can never have too much money!

A subsidiary of Wellpoint has decided to sue Maine to guarantee its profit off your sickness


In short, You do not have health insurance

You do not have health insurance. Let me repeat that. You do not have health insurance. (Unless you are over 65, in which case you do have health insurance. I'll come back to that later.) The point of insurance is to protect you against unlikely but damaging events. You are generally happy to pay premiums in all the years that nothing goes wrong (your house doesn't burn down), because in exchange your insurer promises to be there in the one year that things do go wrong (your house burns down). That's why, when shopping for insurance, you are supposed to look for a company that is financially sound - so they will be there when you need them.
If, like most people, your health coverage is through your employer or your spouse's employer, that is not what you have. At some point in the future, you will get sick and need expensive health care. What are some of the things that could happen between now and then?
  • Your company could drop its health plan. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (see Table HIA-1), the percentage of the population covered by employer-based health insurance has fallen every year since 2000, from 64.2% to 59.3%. *
  • You could lose your job. I don't think I need to tell anyone what the unemployment rate is these days.**
  • You could voluntarily leave your job, for example because you have to move to take care of an elderly relative.
  • You could get divorced from the spouse you depend on for health coverage.
For all of these reasons, you can't count on your health insurer being there when you need it. That's not insurance; that's employer-subsidized health care for the duration of your employment.MORE




WHY IS IT THAT THIS PARASITICAL INDUSTRY IS ALLOWED TO PROFIT OFF OUR SICKNESS AND HEALTH? ARE WE THAT ENTHRALLED TO THE IDEA OF MAKING OTHER PEOPLE RICH, NO MATTER THE COST TO OURSELVES?


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A Fatal Cultural Gap: Depression Among Minorities

Editor’s Note: Trained mental health professionals find it difficult to diagnose depression in minorities, most of whom are already reluctant to seek psychiatric care, because the psychiatric framework for evaluating behavior is Euro-centric. National Depression Screening Day is October 8.



Major depressive disorder is a common disease, occurring in approximately three out of every 20 people in the United States.

However, members of minority communities, especially first-generation immigrants, often express their illness in a manner that is different from their white counterparts, which makes it more difficult to diagnose depression in them, said Dr. Russell Lim, who teaches cultural psychiatry at UC Davis School of Medicine.

“We (who are trained in Western medical schools) are defining depression though our cultural lenses,” said U.S.-born Lim. “A cultural psychiatrist, on the other hand, looks for less specific signs” than those outlined in medical textbooks.

For example, a “markedly diminished interest in pleasure” is one of the signs Western-trained psychiatrists are asked to look for in a patient.

“But if you’re a Buddhist, your belief is you don’t seek pleasure,” Lim said. “You don’t ask that patient what do you do for fun?”

Or, if you are an immigrant who has come to the U.S. from a refugee camp, like many Hmong and Vietnamese have, their concept of “the pursuit of happiness” would likely differ from their white counterparts, he said.

Lim pointed out that in some Asian languages, there is no word for depression. A Hmong patient, for instance, would come in and say, “‘I have a troubled liver.’ And the interpreter would tell me the patient is depressed.”

“I’ve never had an Asian immigrant patient tell me that he or she is depressed, unless they’re second or third generation Asian,” said Lim, who practices at the multi-lingual Sacramento-based Adult Psychiatric Support Services, where the patients are mostly indigent.MORE




My Dad was all about, i don't discuss my problems with other people. Mom was like, only Americans have time to get depressed. There is stuff that is unique to culture that white Americans are unlikely to understand, unless they have really done the cultural competency stuff. I had one lady who got me, cause she and I shared same culture. Its amazing how much more freer I felt with her than with the person that I have now.
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colorlines sez:"


Robert Reich Public Option Video


The Lessons from History on Health Care Reform

All the while, the ideal of universal care has revolved around two poles. In the 1930s, liberals imagined a universal right to health care tied to compulsory insurance, like Social Security. Johnson based Medicare on this idea, and it survives today as the “single-payer model” of universal health care, or “Medicare for all." The alternative proposal, starting with Eisenhower, was to create a market for health care based on private insurers and employers; he locked in the tax break for employee health benefits. Nixon came up with notions of prepaid, competing H.M.O.’s and urged a requirement that employers cover their employees. Everything since has been a variation on one or both of these competing visions. The plan now emerging from the White House and the Democratic Congress combines an aspect of the first (the public health care option) with several of the second (competing plans and an employer requirement to “pay or play”).

Devising a plan is easy compared with the politics of getting it enacted. Mere mention of national health insurance has always prompted a vigorous response from the ever-vigilant American Medical Association; in the 1930s, the editor of its journal equated national health care with “socialism, communism, inciting to revolution.” Bill Clinton’s plan was buried under an avalanche of hostility that included the now legendary ad featuring the couple Harry and Louise voicing their fears that the Clinton plan would substitute government for individual choice — “they choose, we lose.”
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Why We Need Government-Run Universal Socialized Health Insurance



I love this cartoon!
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Jane Hamsher on The Rachel Maddow Show - Progressives throw down for Public Option
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(D) Rep Barney Frank SLAMS Women Comparing Obama To Hitler At Town Hall


He does some fucked up shit, sometimes, but when he's on, he's ON!!!!!


EDIT: [personal profile] voz_latina brings me back to earth. He is quite a virulent trans hater.
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Fucking malicious poisonous ignoramus racist viper-in-human-form white woman tells Jewish man talking about universal healthcare in Israel "Heil Hitler!" Full incident from [livejournal.com profile] karnythia commenters




Here is the entire exchange between Pamela Pilger and Samuel Blum. Pilger shouted "Heil Hitler" while Blum was giving an interview to Eyewitness News. Blum is Jewish.




All ye minority people who are telling me that the Republicans are good for us? FU. I ain't going NOWHERE near a party that boasts these POS fuckers. The party is racistly rotten from top to bottom even if its policies weren't solely for the further enrichment of the rich. Also, you blasted narrowminded ignoramus, MY TAX DOLLARS, WHICH I WORKED MY ASS FOR, SHOULD DAMN WELL PAY FOR ABORTIONS.


Did she really think that after telling him Heil Hitler, she was gonna get ANYWHERE with the whole "obama hates Israel!!!!!" argument? Really????????
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The hypocrisy of healthcare protestors

Editor's note: Glenn Greenwald is on vacation this week. Darren Hutchinson of Dissenting Justice is guest-blogging today.



...Big government for me, but not for you!
Ironically, many of the people whom the article portrays as fuming over "socialized medicine" probably have state-sponsored health plans. Accordingly, if the protestors actually applied their anti-government rhetoric to their own lives, many of them would lose health insurance coverage or would have to spend a fortune to obtain it.

One protestor is a public school teacher, who undoubtedly has a public-sponsored health plan and pension (along with his salary). In other words, the individual is living on the taxation of others. Another person has a 74-year old husband, who is likely on Medicare -- the largest government-sponsored health plan. Even if these individuals have "private" plans provided by their employers, the public still pays for roughly 1/3 of the costs of these plans through favorable tax treatment (for further discussion, see here and here).

According to a recent Gallup report,
only 13.3 percent of Americans with health insurance purchase their policies on the open market. The remaining individuals are enrolled in either state-sponsored plans or in employer plans that are heavily subsidized by state and federal tax policy. The notion of a free market in health insurance is a myth for the vast majority of Americans.MORE



And I totally agree with this:

Best comment

myths and mistaken beliefs...too many Americans are content with the nonsense...

It is easy to see from past few days/weeks that there are many Americans who suffer from the American Myth Factory's output of How To View Your Country And The World.

Perhaps we Americans should spend a few less hundreds of billions $$ on the Pentagon and move those billions into extended citizenship,civics,what American government does--who it does it for and why.

How programs like Medicare or Social Security came into being,why they came to be and what the problems were/are these two pillars of American 20th century socialism were intended to and/or do address.

How Ronald Reagan was wrong about the role of government in America.
How Americans indeed do have several components we all share in for the commonweal of all Americans. Schools, police, fire, roads and highways, airports and control of the airways, parks and indeed a Pentagon that all Americans pay taxes towards that runs the American Army, Air Force and Navy.

This thicket of nonsense readily now being seen over concept of American Single Payer Plan flys so contrary to the success of Medicare,Social Security and the Veterans Administration in America.
It may not be hypocrisy so much as it is a very poor working knowledge of 20th century American social progress or a very free floating set of beliefs in American myths far too many Americans accept at face value.MORE


There was a series on Daily Kos about how various laws came about. I'll have to see if I can locate it, now.
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Let Talk about Tasers


...
Nowadays, the theme of civil liberties seem to be a sub-plot to a James Bond flick rather than "To Kill A Mockingbird." And yet, I think the two are intertwined much more closely that we think. In our apparent acceptance of torture as a legal method of interrogation, the bar of civilized official behavior has been lowered to the point where we are accepting torture in everyday life as if it's nothing. Indeed, we are using it as a form of entertainment. I'm speaking of the ever more common use of the Taser, an electrical device used by police and other authorities to drop its victims to the ground and coerce instant compliance. The videos of various incidents make the rounds on the internet and you can see by the comments at the YouTube site that a large number of Americans find tasering to be a sort of slapstick comedy, the equivalent of someone slipping on a banana peel, with a touch of that authoritarian cruelty that always seems to amuse a certain kind of person. "Don't tase me bro" is a national catch phrase.
Tasers aren't benign however. They kill people. Nobody knows exactly why some people die from being tasered, and they certainly don't know how to tell in advance which ones are at risk. But there have been hundreds of deaths similar to the one below, which nobody can adequately explain:

A Detroit teenager who police say fled a traffic stop Friday died after being subdued with a Taser. He is the second Michigan teen to die following a Taser stun in less than a month. Warren Police say they don't know why the 15-year-old bailed out of a Dodge Stratus he was riding in during the stop on Eight Mile near Schoenherr, leading officers on a half-block chase that ended in an abandoned house on Pelkey in Detroit. The car was stopped for having an expired license plate. In the scuffle, officers shocked the teen one time with a Taser, police said. Shortly after, he became unresponsive and died.
Taser International has successfully defended themselves in lawsuits by attributing the deaths to drug use and if that doesn't work do to the fact that drugs were not present in the victim, they rely on an unrecognized medical condition called "excited delirium", a disease that only afflicts people who die in police custody. Juries apparently find this convincing. Taser has only lost one case.MORE
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INDIA

Always Coca-Cola - India (VIDEO)
June 2006
As a principal sponsor of FIFA, Coca-Cola is keen to trade in on the World Cup's image of fair play and good sportsmanship. But many believe its business practices make a mockery of this reputation.

For thirsty fans at the World Cup, there's only one choice of soft drink available. Whether it's Coke, Sprite or Bonaqua, all the brands on sale belong to coca-cola. Many of theses drinks are produced in India, where Coca-Cola's business practices have elicited widespread condemnation. "The coca cola factory ruined my life," despairs one farmer. Producing 0.33L of coke requires 1L of water. In some villages near cola factories, water levels have dropped by 60m. Harvests have fallen by more than 40% because there is not enough water to irrigate fields. But Coca-Cola denies all responsibility. "We are not the problem", states spokesman Rajiv Singh. "There are simply too many people living here who are wasteful with water." Coca-cola also stands accused of pollution and union busting. Many workers in their factories receive around 50 cents for a 12 hour shift. They have no unions and sometimes receive no compensation for injuries sustained. As Bhagwab Das Yadav states: "All we want is for coca cola to respect India's labour laws


From India resource.org

Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable

Coca-Cola Crisis in India

Communities across India are under assault from Coca-Cola practices in the country. A pattern has emerged as a result of Coca-Cola's bottling operations in India.
  • Communities across India living around Coca-Cola's bottling plants are experiencing severe water shortages, directly as a result of Coca-Cola's massive extraction of water from the common groundwater resource. The wells have run dry and the hand water pumps do not work any more. Studies, including one by the Central Ground Water Board in India, have confirmed the significant depletion of the water table.
  • When the water is extracted from the common groundwater resource by digging deeper, the water smells and tastes strange. Coca-Cola has been indiscriminately discharging its waste water into the fields around its plant and sometimes into rivers, including the Ganges, in the area. The result has been that the groundwater has been polluted as well as the soil. Public health authorities have posted signs around wells and hand pumps advising the community that the water is unfit for human consumption.
  • In two communities, Plachimada and Mehdiganj, Coca-Cola was distributing its solid waste to farmers in the area as "fertilizer". Tests conducted by the BBC found cadmium and lead in the waste, effectively making the waste toxic waste. Coca-Cola stopped the practice of distributing its toxic waste only when ordered to do so by the state government.
  • Tests conducted by a variety of agencies, including the government of India, confirmed that Coca-Cola products contained high levels of pesticides, and as a result, the Parliament of India has banned the sale of Coca-Cola in its cafeteria. However, Coca-Cola not only continues to sell drinks laced with poisons in India (that could never be sold in the US and EU), it is also introducing new products in the Indian market. And as if selling drinks with DDT and other pesticides to Indians was not enough, one of Coca-Cola's latest bottling facilities to open in India, in Ballia, is located in an area with a severe contamination of arsenic in its groundwater.
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