the old parachute ride, complainer becomes an obamacare supporter

Coney Island (Parachute Jump)

Coney Island (Parachute Jump). Gelatin silver photograph, 1969.  By  Stephen Salmieri. Like some of the other steel structures that made their way to Coney Island, the Parachute Jump originated begin life as a ride at a fair, in this case, the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

Obamacare “victim” now says loss of previous health plan may be “a blessing in disguise”

Because her $54 per month plan was cancelled due to Obamacare’s new higher requirements — and because her insurance company’s recommended replacement would cost her nearly 10 times as much — Dianne Barrette became the face of Obamacare’s so-called victims.

But in a new report from the New Republic, Barrette, after factoring in her tax credits and going through her options with reporter Jonathan Cohn, is now singing Obamacare’s praises, even going so far as to say her previous plan’s cancellation was “maybe” a “blessing in disguise.”

Like many people M’s Barrette was living in an information bubble. A friend or some on TV or AM radio  told her that the changes in health care insurance were bad. She believed it without looking at the numbers. Like many people in the individual insurance market – those who buy their health insurance on their own instead of getting it through their employer, did not realize how awful her insurance was. She had a high up front deductible, and after the deductible she had to pay a high percentage of the costs and the total payout by her insurance company was capped at a certain amount. She, like many other would have been liable for everything over their cap – frequently $15k to $20k. In other words if she had a heart attack, she would have had some real financial hardship. Now, once she and similar policy holders have no cap and with many of them qualifying for tax credits, she will pay about the same for much better coverage. Insurance is not that complicated so I’m assuming that reading and making comparisons is like high school homework, these people just don’t want to do it. And since there is no parents or teachers to force them to do their homework now, they just go by bits of misinformation floating around the bubble.

The thirteenth labor of Hercules

The thirteenth labor of Hercules. Poster created 1914. Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915 : opens February 20, closes December 4.  The Exposition of 1915 was both a celebration of the completion of the Panama Canal and an opportunity for San Francisco to show it had recovered from the Great Earthquake of 1906. In the legend, Hercules had only 12 labours. Building the Canala was probably more difficult than Labour 9, to ‘Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons’.

the automat, obamacare versus the private sector

Automat, 977 Eighth Avenue, Manhattan, 1936. Gelatin silver print. Berenice Abbott  (American, Springfield, Ohio 1898–1991 Monson, Maine).

A nice history of the Automat from The Smithsonian here.

The Truth About the Obamacare Rollout The feds botched the website. But the states are doing much better. It has not been a smooth roll-out. Though it has not been a disaster either. Many of the problems is just less than great programming. On the people side, clearly people are interested. Jonathan Cohn is a great source for the facts about the ACA or Obamacare. So those interested in an unbiased account of how things are going might want to give it a read or pass it on to those who swear the ACA is a complete failure. One of the fundamentally dishonest criticisms is the lack of comparison to the real world. Anyone ever been cheated by a business, bought an inferior product or service that the business touted as great, ever received shoddy service from private business, ever been billed in error and it has been a headache to get someone to straighten out the error, ever been to a private web site that was dysfunctional? Of course. We all have. Private enterprise is run by humans, frequently not the brightest people around, who employ a lot of underpaid and overworked employees to sell products and take care of complaints.

Internationale Hygiene-Ausstellung Dresden (International Health Exposition, Dresden), 1911. Designed by Franz von Stuck.

 

the economic superiority complex, wealth is considerably more heritable than genes

Police Dogs Attack Demonstrators, Birmingham, Alabama Protests]

Police Dogs Attack Demonstrators, Birmingham, Alabama Protests, 1963. Charles Moore, photographer.

Nozick: Libertarians are “filled…with resentment at other freer ways of being”

The Reactionary Mind:

Neither is conservatism a makeshift fusion of capitalists, Christians, and warriors, for that fusion is impelled by a more elemental force—the opposition to the liberation of men and women from the fetters of their superiors, particularly in the private sphere. Such a view might seem miles away from the libertarian defense of the free market, with its celebration of the atomistic and autonomous individual. But it is not.

One of the most insightful and concise definitions I’ve read of of what conservatism and con-libertarians are about. Things like religion do play a role. Regardless of what else it says in the Christian Bible about business and taxes, certainly Jesus Sermon on the Mount would take precedence. So conservative leaders twist what is in the Bible and deflect form the issue by claiming to know that their invisible friend really likes that Wal-mart pays less than a living wage and it is his will that business be run this way. Those conservatives that see any for’ners as a threat, are always inventing new threats and making existing ones much larger than they are. The far Right interpretation of religion and the pandering to paranoid minds both coalesce under what they see as their rightful place as everyone’s superior. The far Right has had this tendency in culture and economics since before the Civil War – Slave Capitalism.

Bread line at kitchen

Bread line at kitchen, 4th and Jefferson [streets], Feb. 1934. And related – Low Wages Cost Taxpayers A Quarter-Trillion Dollars Every Year.

Over the last couple years research suggests that genes alone are not destiny. How one – thus their genes interacts with the environment tends to have a large role. So may be it should not be that be a surprise that one’s economic status has much more to do with how well one’s life goes than genes, Wealth is considerably more heritable than genes. Policymakers who misuse genetics to argue a child’s fate is preordained are deliberately ignoring the effects of inequality

In his latest book, The Serpent’s Promise, Jones examines how nurture and nature are inseparably intertwined. The human genome project was for a while the modern version of eugenics, but Jones says it has disappointed those who thought it would reveal the destiny of physical traits, let alone psychological ones. “The more we learn about genes, the more important the environment appears to be.” Plomin spent years scanning top children for success genes, but never found them, says Jones. In life, “success and failure depend far more on the economic than the genetic accidents of birth”. Wealth is considerably more heritable than genes. The most equal nations with the best Gini ratings score the highest average intelligence.

Milburn’s report will pull no punches about unequal Britain. With destiny all but set by five years old, he wants redoubled investment in early years, targeting extra money at low-earning families: 500 Sure Starts have closed, many more are hollowed out, and a third of nurseries in poor areas are low quality….

…Teacher quality and status matter: in Finland, the leader of international league tables, teaching is first choice for the top 10% of graduates. Our top 20% of pupils do well, but our bottom 20% drag down UK results, as the shocking OECD report on basic literacy and numeracy shows.

If someone is lucky enough to be born into an upper middle-class family, even if they have slight below medium level intelligence, there is a built in safety net that makes sure they do not fail  – or at least not pay the way others do for failing. I remember a lot of the discussion about George W. Bush’s record in 1999. His supporters claimed he was a successful businessman. Not true in the least. He lead three business ventures into the ground. His family and their connections rescued him every time. yet many of these lucky people believe they are entitled to what they have regardless of the great advantages they started with. That lack of humility might be one of the biggest personality factors in public policy right now certainly, but for the last fifty years.

april tulips wallpaper, nobel prize winner gets some vindication over iraq

april tulips wallpaper

april tulips wallpaper

Many of the details of events that lead us into the disastrous invasion of Iraq are fading, like too many other important details tend to do. One of the things the Bush administration did was to get rid of the director of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, José Bustani. Bustani got some justice when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, To Ousted Boss, Arms Watchdog Was Seen as an Obstacle in Iraq

But Mr. Bustani and some senior officials, both in Brazil and the United States, say Washington acted because it believed that the organization under Mr. Bustani threatened to become an obstacle to the administration’s plans to invade Iraq. As justification, Washington was claiming that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader, possessed chemical weapons, but Mr. Bustani said his own experts had told him that those weapons were destroyed in the 1990s, after the Persian Gulf war.

“Everybody knew there weren’t any,” he said. “An inspection would make it obvious there were no weapons to destroy. This would completely nullify the decision to invade.”

…..Getting Mr. Bustani fired took some doing. Washington failed to obtain a no-confidence motion from the chemical weapons watchdog’s executive council. Then the United States, which was responsible for 22 percent of the agency’s budget at the time, threatened to cut off its financing and warned that several other countries, including Japan, would follow suit, diplomats have said.

Former UN ambassador John Bolton ( and unbelievably also mentioned to be a possible presidential candidate in 2016) said that Bustani did not make the chemical weapons argument until after the invasion. Which is ridiculous considering the timeline, Bustani was working on getting Iraq to join the OPCW since the late 90s and was getting more and more cooperation. Bolton was and still is a very good neocon, he believes in the doctrine of the Big Lie, repeated loud and often, he is a master of bull. He probably suffers from something like O.J. syndrome, he has been BSing for so long he has begun to believe the twisted narrative in his head.

Grand Bal poster for a Swiss film festival, March 23, 1929. They’re difficult to see, but the Cubist-style jazz musicians are an especially nice touch.

alien world with possiblity of life, secede and show us mortals how it is done

Electrotower, Coney Island. c.1903.

Electrotower, Coney Island. c.1903.

An alien world dripping with water? Scientists see possibility of life

Scientists have found the shredded remains of a large, water-rich asteroid raining down on the embers of a dead star, 170 light-years from Earth.

It is the first time that scientists have found a mix of rock and water in a solar system that is not our own. The discovery also suggests that hundreds of millions of years ago, this distant solar system could have been conducive to life as we know it.

“What we know is that this system had the main ingredients to build planets like the Earth,” said Boris Gänsicke of the University of Warwick in England, who coauthored a paper about the discovery.

Finding life, especially something advanced as say a plant, would be a starling discovery just in terms of pure science. Though it would also create, not some theological and philosophical problems, but even more than we already have. While Wikipedia is not the last word on every detail of a subject, they do a fair job of introducing one into the shear number of creation myths that exists, without taking extraterrestrial life into account. Just a sample: Creation from chaos: Sumerian creation myth,  Greek cosmogonical myth; Emergence myths: Hopi creation myth; Ex nihilo (out of nothing):  Islamic creation myth, Genesis creation myth (Christianity and Judaism); World Parent: Heliopolis creation myth, Hiranyagarbha creation myth; Central Asian: Mongolian creation myth.

For Every Fighter a Woman Worker

For Every Fighter a Woman Worker/ United War Work Campaign/ Care for Her through the YWCA. Designed by Adolph Treidler, 1918.

Pat Buchanan: Is Red State America Seceding?

In the last decade of the 20th century, as the Soviet Empire disintegrated, so, too, did that prison house of nations, the USSR.

Out of the decomposing carcass came Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Moldova, all in Europe; Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus; and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

The spirit of secession, the desire of peoples to sever ties to nations to which they have belonged for generations, sometimes for centuries, and to seek out their own kind, is a spreading phenomenon.

What are the forces pulling nations apart? Ethnicity, culture, history and language – but now also economics. And separatist and secessionist movements are cropping up here in the United States.

Conservatives have been flirting with secession as far back as i can remember – certainly during the Clinton administration and have read stuff from the 1950s by the old John Birch Society conservatives advocating secession. While some libertarians have also joined in, they generally stick with some nebulous ideas about creating some utopian state of their own. There are many decent, moderate minded Americans living in every state where these secessionist’s yearnings are loudest ( Texas, Arizona, Alaska and North Carolina come to mind) so I’m not in favor of punishing those moderate Americans with the spiteful cravings of a vocal minority. Though I do wonder about what seems to be holding up the secessionist and the utopian crowd. Where are the candidates  running on a secession platform. Why haven’t the conservatives and libertarians who have all the answers and are more perfect than the rest of us used their fortunes and skills to create a new nation. They’d finally be able to have some solid proof, a living example of how anything and everything should be done in their pure societies. Back in middle-school we had a saying, put up or shut-up.

mountain dawn wallpaper, government shut down produces hardship and paranoid rants

mountain dawn wallpaper

mountain dawn wallpaper

James Woods claims Hollywood is against him after anti-Obama tweets. Actor and vocal Republican says he won’t ‘work again’ after repeatedly criticizing the president over government shutdown. Woods is not particularly important in the total scheme of things. Another multi-millionaire conservative complaining about how hard life is as he lounges by the pool at his literal mansion. He tweets his opinions, free of facts or logic and tells the maid to bring him another martini. Besides blaming president Obama for the shut-down, he also blames the president for the consequences of the shut-down like the WW II vets  having some of their benefits delayed. I have no inside information as to why Hollywood has some of the most misinformed conservatives in the conservative movement. Woods was just in the Showtime series Ray with comrade in ignorance Jon Voight. Both of them insipid aging actors that, despite their paranoid rants, keep getting work from those mean Hollywood liberals. Though Woods gives us a chance to unpack some basic truths. Who is responsible for the government shut-down. Woods blames Democrats. The lame stream media says there is blame on both sides. The truth is that conservative Republicans are not only to blame, they are seeing the results of their plans, A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning -

….a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.

Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed “blueprint to defunding Obamacare,” signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups.

It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.

And of course lots of money from radical conservative groups was involved, The Money Behind the Shutdown Crisis. Some conservatives, backed into a corner on these facts, of which Woods and other true believers are blissfully ignorant or lack the integrity to admit, will say they had no choice. They say the deficit is out of control and a shut-down will force the president to stop his alleged free spending. The problem with that is the deficit has declined steadily under the Obama presidency. Here’s a fact: The deficit is falling. Mr. Woods further claimed, “I don’t expect to work again. I l think Barack Obama is a threat to the integrity and future of the Republic. My country first.” Here is someone using highly inflammatory hyperbole to make brazenly ignorant claims about who is responsible for the shut-down and yet also claims to care about his country.  How can one be a good citizen, try to shift the direction of the nation, yet not know the course or the reasons behind it. Is that patriotism, the blind alliance to a set of weird lies and baseless paranoia. Ultra nationalist throughout history have relied on the ignorance, greed and lack of reflection of people like Woods and Voight. Together they have caused untold misery and death. That is the perverse kind of patriotism Mark Twain was taking about when he defined a patriot as ” the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.”

South Pasadena Recreation Center. Photographer, Doug White   (No date, probably late 1950s or early 1960s)

the philosophy of bull, burning down your house is not a reasonable demand

Man on Sidewalk in Front of Movie Poster

Man on Sidewalk in Front of Movie Poster, 1936. Walker Evans, photographer.

Bullshit, Politics, and the Democratic Power of Satire

Abstract:
In 2005, Harry Frankfurt wrote a monograph entitled On Bullshit and this work received a flurry of attention. At its core, Frankfurt argues that while lying is a misrepresentation of the truth, bullshit is a misrepresentation of the self, and an indifference to truth, which in his mind is worse than lying.

For all the attention it receives, outright lying is relatively rare in democratic politics. And when it does happen, politicians may pay heavy price. Bullshit, however, is all too common, produced not just by politicians, but pundits, and dare I say it, academics who study politics. And unlike lying, bullshitting is well rewarded.

The history of political thought presents us with possible parallels. In Gorgias, Plato warns us of the danger of rhetoric, and what he describes comes close, bullshit. On the other hand, he also argued that in certain respects lies could be noble. In a different context, George Orwell made important observations about the way abuse of language harms political discourse. The kind of abuses Orwell details fit nicely under the designation “bullshit”.

Plato and Orwell’s insights are especially relevant in democracy. Bullshit is more dangerous to democracy than lying. Unlike a lie, bullshit is destructive of even concern for the truth. Thus, in politics, it creates conditions where it is easier to present a lie as truth, and indifference to truth in public discourse renders public discourse impotent or worse. Even more destructively, it infects thinking. The corruption of language is bad enough, but even worse is the corruption of thinking. This is Plato’s insight into the problem with rhetoric, where the weaker argument can defeat the stronger.

Because of this, the exposure of bullshit is an important political duty. A most effective means for this is political humor, especially satire. Bullshit seems to be resistant to conventional modes of argumentation and dispute, but at its best, satire exposes the pretensions of the powerful.

The full paper is available as a PDF at the link. BS probably covers The Big Lie as well – Bush and the conservative echo chamber about WMD in Iraq and ties to al Qaeda. That Fannie May or Barney Frank caused the Wall Street collapse of 2007 would be another Big Lie and still part of the ongoing BS on some web sites. BS carries the same penalty as big lies. Once started the believer must continue in order to save face. To acknowledge a major falsehood requires both the moral courage to admit wrong and frequently the epiphany that one has invested a tremendous amount of ego, time and energy into something not morally defensible.

How conservatives think about compromise and the government shutdown

What conservatives want and how they think about compromise and the government shutdown.