do you think healthcare reform will be repealed? i honestly can't imagine that happening, which in turn infuriates me that the GOP would waste everyone's fucking time with the "symbolic gesture" of trying to repeal it.
i don’t honestly know what will happen. every time i try to make a prediction, the american government does something more horrible than i could have imagined.
what i CAN say is that if healthcare reform is repealed, a lot of people are going to be in really bad shape.
“Obama’s new policy restores the “people-to-people” contacts between the United States and Cuba that existed under Bill Clinton’s administration, restoring the embargo exemptions for Americans traveling for humanitarian, religious, and academic purposes that were disallowed under Bush. More direct flights to the island — albeit chartered ones — will be allowed, and Americans now can transfer remittances of up to $500 per quarter, as long as they aren’t going to the Cuban government or Communist Party.”—
Might as well throw some news into the mix since we are Newsweek. Today’s main event is another dissing of Obama’s health care plan. Things appear partisan, as always. The latest count: two judges appointed by Republican presidents have struck down the law or its main attribute, while two judges…
At this point, it might be productive to briefly discuss something called “forum shopping.” If you’re a clever Plaintiff’s attorney, you can find ways to get your cases in front of judges you think will be sympathetic to your cause. If you’re a group of attorneys general, for example, you might choose to file your suit in a state where there’s a better than even chance that you’ll get the desired judge. You might also choose an appellate district where you’ve got a decent chance of getting a good ruling—though there aren’t nearly as many of those, so it’s tricky. And, of course, there’s only one U.S. Supreme Court.
By pointing this out, I don’t in any way mean to imply that the more conservative judges didn’t give the law a fair hearing. Nor do I mean to imply that the system is broken or that the attorneys general did anything underhanded. Our legal system works well—and I would do the same thing in their position.. I simply want to point out that this is still very early game—and the first returns may not indicate any sort of reliable pattern.
“I never imagined that in the year 2011, I would see so many efforts to separate patients from doctors and deprive women of safe, legal health care.”—Wisconsin physician, Dr. Doug Laube, in “Abortion Providers Need Your Support.” (via mandington)
Jamie Radtke, the leader of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots who recently announced she will run for U.S. Senate in the state’s 2012 match-up, delivered a blow to the Republican party when she spoke at the first Senate Tea Party Caucus meeting, according to the National Journal.
“The Tea Party movement would not exist today if the Republicans had not failed under the Bush years,” she said, adding that if elected in the next election cycle she would join the political affinity group recently established by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
In an interview, Ms. Radtke said she decided to run after watching Congress pass legislation during this month’s lame duck session, including a package of tax cuts, that added to the national debt.
“It has become clear that many in Congress still don’t get it,” she said. “The tax bill did nothing to cut the huge debt burden on all of us.”
Also vying on the Republican side for the seat currently held by Democratic Senator Jim Webb, who has not yet confirmed he will seek reelection, is former U.S. Sen. George Allen. The AP recently reported:
The Republican former governor who lost his Senate seat in a 2006 campaign riddled with embarrassments said in an Associated Press interview he will run a more disciplined campaign focused on issues straight out of the tea party playbook.
Allen announced his candidacy earlier this month in a video e-mailed to supporters.
His 2-minute, 45-second video, sent to supporters and around noon Monday, champions sharp cuts in federal spending, an end to Democratic health reforms and a domestic energy policy more dependent on coal.
He also promised support for constitutional amendments that would allow states to veto federal laws, give the president line-item veto authority and require balanced federal budgets.
According to the National Journal, Radtke signaled that she believes she has the conservative cred to defeat Allen in Virginia’s GOP primary.
“I’m strongly pro-life and I’m strongly pro-family and pro-marriage and that will not change on the campaign [trail],” she explained. “George Allen has some explaining to do on his pro-life position.”
“On March 4 the government-funding resolution expires and it seems that a lot of Republicans in the House want to risk a shutdown of the government if they don’t absolutely get their way. That was a mistake when [former House Speaker] Newt Gingrich tried it in 1995. It would be a bigger mistake now. It is really playing with fire…. you can risk the credit markets really losing some confidence in the United States Treasury and that could create a deeper recession than we had over the last several years or, god forbid, even a depression.”—Chuck Schumer warned on Sunday that if House Republicans, in an effort to flex their fiscal conservative muscles, held up passage of a budget this coming March, it could send the United States into a deep recession and possibly a depression. (via corruptpolitics)
“If I was gay, there would be no closet, you would never see the closet I came out of. Why? I would have burned it for kindling by the time I was 12. Because I know with all certainty in my mind, there is nothing wrong with being gay, and you know it.”—
“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied…but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.”—John Berger (via rossencraft)
“All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit”—Thomas Paine (via ageofreason)
1 If Humans Came From Apes, Why Aren’t Apes Evolving Into Humans?
Humans, apes, and monkeys are only distant evolutionary “cousins.” We come not from apes but from a common ancestor that was neither ape nor human that lived millions of years in the past. In fact, during the last seven million years many human-like species have evolved; some examples include Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and Homo neanderthalensis. All of these went extinct at different times, leaving just us to share the planet with a handful of other primates.
2 There Are Too Many Gaps in the Fossil Record for Evolution to Be True
In fact, there are lots of intermediate fossils. Archaeopteryx, for example, is one of the earliest known fossil birds with a reptilian skeleton and feathers. There is now evidence that some dinosaurs had hair and feathers. Therapsids are the intermediates between reptiles and mammals, Tiktaalik is an extinct lobe-finned fish intermediate to amphibians, there are now at least six intermediate fossil stages in the evolution of whales, and in human evolution there are at least a dozen intermediate fossil stages since hominids branched off from the great apes six million years ago. Considering the exceptionally low probability that a dead plant or animal will fossilize it is remarkable we have as many fossils as we do. First the dead animal has to escape the jaws of scavengers. Then is has to be buried under the rare circumstances that will cause it to fossilize instead of decay. Then geological forces have to somehow bring the fossil back to the surface to be discovered millions of years later by the handful of paleontologists looking for them
3 If Evolution Happened Gradually Over Millions of Years Why Doesn’t the Fossil Record Show Gradual Change?
Sudden changes in the fossil record are not missing evidence of gradualism; they are extant evidence of punctuation. Species are stable over long periods of time and so they leave plenty of fossils in the strata while in their stable state. The change from one species to another, however, happens relatively quickly (on a geological time scale) in a process called punctuated equilibrium. One species can give rise to a new species when a small “founder” group breaks away and becomes isolated from the ancestral group. This new founder group, as long as it remains small and detached, may experience relatively rapid change (large populations are genetically stable). The speciational change happens so rapidly that few fossils are left to record it. But once changed into a new species, the individuals will retain their phenotype for a long time, leaving behind many well-preserved fossils. Millions of years later this process results in a fossil record that records mostly stability. The punctuation is there in between the equilibrium.
4 No One Has Ever Seen Evolution Happen
Evolution is a historical science confirmed by the fact that so many independent lines of evidence converge to this single conclusion. Independent sets of data from geology, paleontology, botany, zoology, biogeography, comparative anatomy and physiology, genetics, molecular biology, developmental biology, embryology, population genetics, genome sequencing, and many other sciences each point to the conclusion that life evolved. Creationists demand “just one fossil transitional form” that shows evolution. But evolution is not proved through a single fossil. It is proved through a convergence of fossils, along with a convergence of genetic comparisons between species, and a convergence of anatomical and physiological comparisons between species, and many other lines of inquiry. (In fact we can see evolution happen—especially among organisms with short reproductive cycles that are subject to extreme environmental pressures. Knowledge of the evolution of viruses and bacteria is vital to medical science.)
5 Science Claims That Evolution Happens by Random Chance
Natural selection is not “random” nor does it operate by “chance.” Natural selection preserves the gains and eradicates the mistakes. To illustrate this, imagine a monkey at a typewriter. In order for the monkey to type the first 13 letters of Hamlet’s soliloquy by chance, it would take 26 (to the 13th power) number of trials for success. This is 16 times as great as the total number of seconds that have elapsed in the lifetime of the solar system. But if each correct letter is preserved and each incorrect letter eradicated, the phrase “tobeornottobe” can be “selected for” in only 335 trials, or just seconds in a computer program. Richard Dawkins defines evolution as “random mutation plus nonrandom cumulative selection.” It is the cumulative selection that drives evolution. The eye evolved from a single, light sensitive spot in a cell into the complex eye of today not by chance, but through thousands of intermediate steps, each preserved because they made a better eye. any of these steps still exist in nature in simpler organisms.
6 Only an Intelligent Designer Could Have Made Something as Complex as an Eye
The anatomy of the human eye shows that it is anything but “intelligently designed.” It is built upside down and backwards, with photons of light having to travel through the cornea, lens, aqueous fluid, blood vessels, ganglion cells, amacrine cells, horizontal cells, and bipolar cells, before reaching the light sensitive rods and cones that convert the light signal into neural impulses, which are then sent to the visual cortex at the back of the brain for processing into meaningful patterns. For optimal vision, why would an intelligent designer have built an eye upside down and backwards? This “design” only makes sense if natural selection built eyes from available materials, and in the particular configuration of the ancestral organism’s pre-existing organic structures. The eye shows the pathways of evolutionary history, not intelligent design.
7 Evolution is Only A Theory
All branches of science are based on theories, which are grounded in testable hypothesis and explain a large and diverse body of facts about the world. A theory is considered robust if it consistently predicts new phenomena that are subsequently observed. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are explanatory ideas about those data. Constructs and other non-testable statements are not a part of science. The theory of evolution meets all the criteria of good science, as determined by Judge William Overton in the Arkansas creationism trial: • It is guided by natural law. • It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law. • It is testable against the empirical world. • Its conclusions are tentative. • It is testable and falsifiable. If you can find fossil mammals in the same geological strata as trilobites then evolution would be falsified. No one has ever found such contradictory data.
8 Evidence for Human Evolution Has Turned Out to Be Fake, Frauds, or Fanciful
Eager to discredit evolution, creationists ignore hominid fossil discoveries and cherry pick examples of hoaxes and mistakes in the belief that mistakes in science are a sign of weakness. This is a gross misunderstanding of the nature of science, which constantly advances by using both its mistakes and the successes. Its ability to build cumulatively on the past is how science progresses. The self-correcting feature of the scientific method is one of its most powerful assets. Hoaxes like Piltdown Man, and honest mistakes like Nebraska Man, Calaveras Man, and Hespero-pithecus, are, in time, corrected. In fact, it wasn’t creationists who exposed these errors, it was scientists who did so. Creationists simply read about the scientific exposé of these errors, and then duplicitously claimed them as their own.
9 The Second Law of Thermodynamics Proves That Evolution is Impossible
The Second Law of Thermodynamics applies to closed, isolated systems. Since the Earth receives a constant input of energy from the sun—it is an open-dissipative system—entropy may decrease and order increase (though the sun itself is running down in the process). Thus, the Earth is not strictly a closed system and life may evolve without violating natural law. As long as the sun is burning, life may continue thriving and evolving, just like automobiles may be prevented from rusting, burgers can be heated in ovens, and all manner of things in apparent violation of Second Law entropy may continue. But as soon as the sun burns out, entropy will take its course and life on Earth will cease.
10 Evolution Can’t Account For Morality
As a social primate species we evolved a deep sense of right and wrong in order to accentuate and reward reciprocity and cooperation, and to attenuate and punish excessive selfishness and free riding. As well, evolution created the moral emotions that tell us that lying, adultery, and stealing are wrong because they destroy trust in human relationships that depend on truth-telling, fidelity, and respect for property. It would not be possible for a social primate species to survive without some moral sense. On the constitution of human nature is built the constitutions of human societies.
Instead of engaging with points of view that are challenging to yours (or just even working from a very different perspective), instead of looking within yourself to see how you’re perpetuating and practicing discrimination and harm, all you have to do is pick out a word and go “Ableist! Classist! XYZist!” and dismiss the other person altogether, self-satisfied that we’re done our Good Activist Deed Of The Day and so no one can call us out on our rubbish.
Prettying up the surface instead of dealing with the darker depths. Talking the talk but not walking the walk. Not willing to take what you dish out. Nitpicking on the small stuff because it saves us from having to tackle the hairier things.
I feel like we’re in some sort of weird semi-academic-language bubble on Tumblr, patting ourselves on the back for not using ableist words or whatever, without actually thinking of how it works elsewhere in the world. Honestly, outside of Tumblr, who else is going to look at words like “homophobia” and go “oh no! that’s ableist towards people with phobias!”? Especially when the people who have a right to raise that concern haven’t brought it up in offline circles until now? Will anyone else be able to understand why certain words are X-ist if you explain - or will they come back and say that just because they use supposedly X terms doesn’t mean they are that discriminatory in their actions? It’s really easy (and common) for people to be really savvy in the language and yet have rotten attitudes and actions.
And speaking of savviness - I feel that language policing puts even more pressure on people whose language (mainly English) skills are already under scrutiny for not being perfect - people for whom English isn’t a first language, who learnt it in a non-English-centric country, who grew up trying to translate difficult nuances between languages and found ways that were “good enough” early on. There’s already enough prejudice being doled out for not speaking “proper English” (as if there’s such a thing) and for not typing full sentences or using your/you’re correctly as it is.
Do we really want to privilege conversations like these towards people who have really high English language skills, whatever their perspective? Do we really want to alienate people with important and useful perspectives because they’ve learnt to use the word “crazy” for things that don’t make sense, or can’t get people’s pronouns right because their native language only has one pronoun for any gender, or has found the term “homophobia” useful while still dealing with a debilitating phobia of spiders but doesn’t see one degrading the other?
As it is we can’t even seem to make up our minds between being descriptive and being prescriptive. “They” as a singular pronoun is OK, but you can’t use “-phobia” anymore? You shouldn’t look down at someone’s typing skills, but there’s a huge difference between “trans man” and “transman”?
I saw this happen with BFP - she writes something important about having to deal with paperwork and insurance and finding it difficult due to her various health conditions, and the first responses are “This term is ableist” - when it turns out that they actually are relevant to her position. How many of us are going to know the writer’s original life story enough to be able to make that call between “they’re ableist!” and “they lived this!”? Do we have the right to make that call? How much are we letting language policing distract us from getting to the core of the issues raised?
What’s important here - what they’re saying or how they’re saying it?
Why do libertarians associate themselves with the Tea Party?
Or, rather, why have we allowed the Tea Party to hijack the libertarian movement, using libertarian-sounding language to spread their ridiculous, incoherent, inconsistent, at times hawkish, anti-immigrant rubbish? I don’t think we’re doing ourselves any favors by aligning with these morons.
Let’s be clear: the Tea Party is not a libertarian movement. These are people who profess to hate big government, but love Social Security. These are people who hate Obamacare, but love Medicare. These are Sarah Palins’s Julian-Assange-is-a-terrorist-who-should-be-assassinated Groupies. To the extent that these people call for the protection of our 2nd Amendment rights, it’s so that they can stand on the border and shoot “dem illegal aliens.” These are people who more than likely support the war on drugs, and the federal government’s “heightened security” measures probably don’t concern them much, because after all, “if you’ve got nothing to hide, you should have nothing to fear.” For as much as they claim to hate the welfare state, they probably hate the welfare recipients even more (meanwhile, hypocritically, being content to receive welfare in the form of healthcare entitlements, public education, the GI Bill, etc.) and precisely because of their approach, we will not succeed in abolishing our enormous welfare state if our message is “get rid of welfare because these lazy fucks need to get a damn job!!!!”
I’m writing this because of my complete exasperation at the fact that almost every time I go to any libertarian forum online, there is always the inevitable far-right Republican who’s yapping about this or that, making absolutely no sense, having no understanding of libertarian philosophy, and then we’re supposed to embrace these people with open arms…for what? Because they’re single-issue voters and there’s a possibility that they may be inclined to vote for our candidate come 2012? No, I say fuck that. Just one example: today I came across a woman on Facebook writing on a some libertarian group’s wall, rambling on and on about something or the other, and this was her profile picture:
I proceeded to roll my eyes approximately 389 times. I mean honestly, is this really someone we should invite to join our ranks? Even if there is a legitimate libertarian position against illegal immigration (which, I would argue there isn’t), is that a pertinent issue right now? Aren’t there much more important issues that are much more dangerous to the well being of our nation? Are we not involved in two wars of aggression? I hardly think illegal immigration is really something that we should be devoting our attention to right now. And that’s Sarah Palin’s Tea Party.
This absurd populist movement is not what it used to be. It used to be a libertarian thing. Now, it’s nothing but a bunch of disaffected Republicans, with no clear and consistent philosophy on the proper role of government. They’re just pissed off, and they’ve hijacked our movement because it suits their purpose…for now. These are not serious people, and libertarians ought not associate with these idiots because all it accomplishes is to give the Left reason to conflate libertarianism with conservatism, and thus unite against both movements. The cause of liberty is not well served by the Tea Party.
i thought this was a pretty good read, in all honesty. even though people got mad at me a few weeks ago when i said on tumbr, libertarians and conservatives are the same thing, i think that ricardo here might agree with me. a lot of people are confused. and i get that. i have friends on facebook whose political views are listed as ‘barack obama.’ as if that’s a real political view. but they associate themselves with me. and my ideology. most of the people who call themselves libertarian, that i talk to at least, are pretty uneducated scumbags who just really like to hear themselves talk and don’t know their political views from a fucking hole in the ground.
A recent anon referred to the difference between private and public schools. Private schools (and also charter schools, I think) are successful as much, if not more, due to social factors and the self-selection of the student body than due to the lack of government control (which, I would argue, is plenty present in public schools due to the favorability of state-licensed teachers in hiring and due to the general use of state-approved curricula that tend to align, at the very least, to the admissions standards of state universities, if not to the state standards themselves).
Private schools have far more leverage over who they admit as students than do public schools. Obviously, to be able to attend a private school, one's parents must be able to afford to send one there (either that or they must find some sort of scholarship or have a rich uncle or something). So there is a direct financial incentive for parents to be invested in their child's education--"I paid good money to send you to this school, so you better not mess it up!" There is a process of self-selection that occurs in private school enrollment--parents who care deeply about their child's education, and who can afford it, will be more likely to send their child to private schools. Public schools, on the other hand, accept all comers, whether they come from educated families that invest deeply in their child's education or from abusive or neglectful families that take no interest whatsoever in the educational welfare of their children. I hate to say it, but much of the difference between public and private schools can be attributed to privilege.
Private schools also have more control over who they retain as students. Private schools can establish rules for dismissal from the school that are in many cases less involved than the process for expulsion from public schools. They can dismiss students whose grades are too low (which will tend to boost their students' “average performance” because the poor performers have been sent packing—back to the public schools!), and give students a relatively short leash on discipline compared to public schools. For public schools, dismissing a problem student can be an incredibly drawn-out and cumbersome process, where a student basically has to carry a weapon on campus in order to face expulsion, but only after a series of meetings, hearings, and other elements of “due process.” I'm not against due process, of course, but private schools seem to have to offer much less of it than do public schools (this may be the strongest argument against government control of schools, but only because of the layers of bureaucracy that it adds, and not due to any real inherent differences in quality).
Public schools also have burdens that are negligible or non-existent in private schools. Public schools must teach English learners, who score low on standardized tests almost by default because the tests are written in a language on which they have a limited grasp, where private schools will have few, if any, of these students. They also must provide special education services, which are generally not provided by private schools. In addition, public schools must span a wide variety of educational abilities, from remedial learners to the very gifted, and these students will all be in the same classroom. This makes teaching a daunting proposition, because a teacher must reach both of these groups, as well as those in the middle, without losing anyone and while maintaining discipline in the classroom.
I don't know of any direct comparative data measuring the performance of private schools versus public schools (since private schools are excused from standardized testing requirements, unlike public schools), but I suspect that if you were to put the two side-by-side, you wouldn't find too much difference between a private school and a public school in a middle- to upper-middle-class school district (unless you're looking at highly exclusive private schools--the boarding schools in New England or something like that).
tl;dr: Private schools have many advantages in how they function over public schools that speak not to any inherent superiority over public schools, but rather to inequities between how the two systems define themselves.
I'm a Libertarian, and I think that private health care is likely to do a better job than government-run health care - just look at our public vs. private education systems! So in an ideal world, almost everyone could have competitive, affordable private insurance, and the number of those who don't for whatever reason would be so tiny that individual hospitals could afford to provide pro bono care for them. Realistically, we need a safety net and the current health care reform bill is better than what we've got, so I'm grudgingly in favor of it. I think that's where a lot of Libertarians have a disconnect, though, is that while their policies would be wonderful in an ideal world where everyone acts out of human decency and the goodness of their hearts, we need some degree of regulation and government oversight to make up for the fact that this is not that kind of perfect world.
even a two-tiered system would be better than the one we have now. a lot of countries have adopted that system, and it does well. although in my ideal world, people with money do not get to jump ahead in line because they have money [which is exactly what happens when some people are being provided care by the government and others and throwing money down for their care], i think the death of the public option in america was a very poor decision.
the private insurers in other countries are putting ours to shame. no hidden costs, no dropped coverage, no co-pays or deductibles. this country can’t even get that right. every day, people die and go bankrupt because of our current system. and it’s a private, for-profit system. how much worse does it need to get before we can all just admit it and make it better?
A third of Americans said they believe the U.S. system “has so much wrong with it that we need to completely rebuild it,” while only 9% in the Netherlands hold such a sentiment about their health-care system. Twelve percent of Spaniards favored a complete overhaul, compared with 15% in France, 17% in New Zealand, 18% in Australia and 20% in Italy.