Obamacare. Say that word in certain circles and you’ll get a derisive laugh or worse. For some the idea that the government might enable people to have good medical care at an affordable cost is a sacrilege. Socialism! The fact that this country, richest on the planet, has worse medical care, dollar for dollar, than Ireland or Italy (we barely beat Cuba) is news for most Americans. But that is about to change. America is on the verge of a new health care era. Our grand kids will tell their children about it. Obamacare…
Timothy Egan | NYTimes | 15 Jun 13
A friend of mine has an adult child with cancer, a young man just old enough to be beyond the age of coverage under his parents’ health care plan. After nearly killing him, the dreaded Hodgkin’s lymphoma is in remission. But he’s still a pariah in the eyes of the insurance industry, which means they can deny him a policy that might save his life.
Not for long. In six months’ time, the heartless practice of refusing to let sick people buy affordable health insurance — private-sector death panels, the most odious kind of American exceptionalism — will be illegal from shore to shore.
“I can’t wait for Obamacare,” my friend gushed the other day. And she’s not alone. About one in 10 people with cancer in this country have been denied health coverage.
There has been a lot of talk in the last few days about spying and treason, focused on the young man who revealed what we all suspected — that the US government spies on us. Some say he has compromised America’s ability to prevent terrorist attacks. So far we have not seen any evidence of that beyond “take my word for it”. America’s answer to all perceived threats is always to “bomb them back to the stone age”, in the immortal words of Curtis Lemay. We tried that in Viet Nam and it didn’t work. We tried it in Iraq and Afghanistan and it didn’t work there either. So the response to the young man who pulled the curtain on the NSA wizard is to brand him a traitor, to “bomb him back to the stone age”. I don’t think it’s going to work here either. They may get rid of Mr Snowden but fortunately the genie he released is out of the bottle for good. Thank you, Mr Snowden…
The Other Side of the Story
Gail Collins | NYTimes | 15 Jun 13
The deck is always stacked when we debate keeping the nation safe.
Recently, we discovered that the National Security Agency is keeping an enormous file of our phone calls. In the N.S.A.’s defense, its chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, said “dozens” of potential terrorist attacks had been thwarted by that kind of effort. The director of the F.B.I., Robert Mueller, suggested it might prevent “the next Boston.”
How do you argue with that? True, the N.S.A. program had been up and running for years without being able to prevent the first Boston. And Alexander declined to identify the thwarted attacks, arguing that might aid potential terrorists.
But most Americans were sold. The words “terrorist attack” conjured up terrible, vivid pictures. On the other side was just a humongous computer bank full of numbers. If you didn’t do anything wrong, what was the problem?
Brandon Mayfield walks with his daughter, Sharia Mayfield, 12, left, and his son, Famir Mayfield, 10, outside the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., after he was released from custody. Mayfield, who had been arrested two weeks earlier in connection with the Madrid terror attacks, was released Thursday after Spanish officials said fingerprints found on a bag near the bombing site in Spain were that of an Algerian. U.S. authorities previously had said the prints were Mayfield’s.
While the fiercely argued debate over gun control rages on it is more important to be armed with facts than firearms. The article posted below addresses ten of the myths most often hurled by opponents of gun control in defense of their increasingly paranoid position on this touchy subject…
10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down
Fact checking some of the gun lobby’s favorite arguments shows they’re full of holes.
Dave Gilson | MotherJones.com | 31 Jan 13
By cutting off federal funding for research and stymieing data collection and sharing, the National Rifle Association has tried to do to the study of gun violence what climate deniers have done to the science of global warming. No wonder: When it comes to hard numbers, some of the gun lobby’s favorite arguments are full of holes.
Fact-check: People with more guns tend to kill more people—with guns. The states with the highest gun ownership rates have a gun murder rate 114% higher than those with the lowest gun ownership rates. Also, gun death rates tend to be higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership.
There are a lot of people speaking on the issue of gun control these days but you will never hear a more powerful or compelling voice on that subject than Gabby Giffords…
“We Must Do Something!”
Gabby Giffords | US Senate | 30 Jan 13
“You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”
________________________________________________________________________________ Gabrielle Giffords was a member of Congress until January 8th, 2011 when she was shot in the head by Jared Lee Loughner, a crazed assasin.
The debate over gun control in this country has been going on for many years. It appears that no amount of violence or busloads of slaughtered school kids is enough to stop it. The crazier this country gets the more people reach for their Glocks. Amidst all the violence I have not heard or read any authentic reports of how all this armament actually succeeded in protecting anyone. In fact one report quoted an onlooker to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting as saying he opted to not use the weapon he was carrying for fear he would be mistaken as a partner of the shooter. So what is this argument really all about? This writer has an interesting reply to that question…
Both Sides Have Something to Fear
David Ropeik | NYTimes | 7 Jan 12
Lots of statistics are being thrown around in the debate about whether guns make society safer or more dangerous. But the gun control argument is intensely emotional because it is about so much more than public safety. Guns have become symbols in our polarized society, figurative weapons in a war of conflicting cultural values that is compelled by deep and ancient instincts.
Humans are social animals. We have evolved to depend on our group, our tribe, for our health and safety. So we adopt views and positions that align with those of our group, in order to be accepted and supported — and protected — as a member in good standing. Agreeing with the group also helps protect us because social unity helps our tribe prevail in the competition with other tribes for control of society in general. So we see and interpret the facts about guns, or any issue, through these deep lenses.
The never ending debate about gun laws in this country centers around the myth perpetrated by the gun lobby that “guns don’t kill people…etc.” As this article points out, that argument doesn’t hold up when you compare the statistics on gun-related violence in the US versus the rest of the planet. Plainly stated, the reason so many guns kill so many people in America is because there are so many guns here…
Why does America have so many guns?
Harold Meyerson | Washington Post | 19 Dec 12
Compare the rate of murder by gun in the United States to the rate in any other advanced industrial nation, and you’re forced to draw one of two conclusions: Either there are far more homicidal people in this country than just about anyplace else on Earth, or far more guns. We must either be home to more people who succumb to murderous rage or who kill out of the coldest of calculations, or it’s easier to pick up a gun and start shooting here than in any comparable country.
And yet, I’ve never heard even the staunchest gun advocate make the case that Americans are inherently more homicidal than everyone else. They repeat ad nauseam that people, not guns, kill people; but they don’t argue that there’s something about Americans that make them kill more than their counterparts in other nations.
America’s “War on Drugs” is actually a war on blacks, hispanics and the poor using drugs to rationalise the systematic imprisonment and disenfranchisement of millions of people. Lumped into these statistics are those who have been arrested, tried and convicted of ingesting a substance that has been in use by humans since the dawn of history yet which the Federal government considers more dangerous than cocaine and methamphetamine but worthy of more research as a source of medicinal aid and comfort. It is time this insane policy is ended. To their great credit the citizens of Washington and Colorado agree…
Marijuana Prohibition Should End
Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch | Nation of Change.com | 12 Nov 12
In the coming days and weeks, critics will try to minimize what voters in the US states of Colorado and Washington accomplished by backing referenda permitting marijuana legalization and regulation. They will likely produce puns and editorial gags about a legislative coup for “hippies” hosting patchouli-scented victory celebrations. They will be tempted to reduce the story to witticisms about hedonism and decadence in America’s free-thinking mountain states. But such reactions will be wrong.
In fact, America’s disastrous preoccupation with marijuana prohibition is more than a story of a relatively harmless substance being sent into legislative exile. Rather, it is part of the larger story of the country’s misguided “war on drugs,” which has resulted in the incarceration of more than two million people at any given time. It is a story of lawmakers branding young people with criminal records for actions that they may well have taken in their own youth – but without getting caught.
In a provocative new book, “The New Jim Crow”, law professor Michelle Alexander points to the disparity of how this nation has waged it so-called ‘War on Drugs’ and the resulting imbalance in the racial makeup of America’s prison system as evidence of a de-facto ‘Jim Crow’ policy toward non-whites in this country. There is no conspiracy afoot, no midnight meetings of hooded zealots. But the net effect of America’s drug laws and their enforcement is the disenfranchisement of a significant percentage of the non-white population of this country. In age of a black President and seeming colorblindness in all other aspects of our society this idea may rankle some who thought we had buried that hatchet a long time ago. But then, they’re not sitting in jail or dealing the consequences of their non-status as a drug felon…
Drug Policy as Race Policy: Best Seller Galvanizes the Debate
Jennifer Schuessler | NYTimes | 6 Mar 12
Garry McCarthy, a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, did not expect to hear anything too startling when he appeared at a conference on drug policy organized last year by an African-American minister in Newark, where he was the police director.