Saturday, December 19, 2009

Like Harry Potter

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fela on Colbert

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Howard Dean: Health Care Bill 'Bigger Bailout for the Insurance Industry Than AIG'
Top Democrat Urges Lawmakers to Kill the Bill and Start Over
WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2009

President Obama said he likes the Senate health care compromise and wants it passed by Christmas, but he faces a revolt from some liberals who say the health care bill has been gutted to appease insurance companies.
Gov. Howard Dean responds to the latest push on the health care debate.

"This is a bigger bailout for the insurance industry than AIG," former Democratic National Committee chairman and medical doctor Howard Dean told "Good Morning America's" George Stephanopoulos today. "A very small number of people are going to get any insurance at all, until 2014, if the bill works.

"This is an insurance company's dream, this bill," Dean continued. "This is the Washington scramble, and I think it's ill-advised."

Dean sent shockwaves when he said Tuesday in an interview with Vermont Public Radio that the removal of the Medicare buy-in means Democrats should just kill the health care bill and start over.

"This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate," Dean said. "Honestly, the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill, go back to the House, start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler bill."
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The former Democratic presidential candidate argues that in the rush to pass a health care bill, lawmakers have essentially stripped it of true reforms -- mainly the choices it would give to people -- and given too much to special interest groups and insurance companies, the chief executives of which, Dean says, would get 27 percent of the money Americans contribute.

"We've gotten to this stage ... in Washington where passing any bill is a victory, and that's the problem," Dean said. "Decisions are being about the long-term future of this country for short-term political reasons, and that's never a good sign."

He said he also doesn't see cost-control measures but, rather "a whole bunch of bureaucracies and a lot of promises."

There are some good elements in the current health care bill, Dean said, but "at this point, the bill does more harm than good."

The former Vermont governor said he would suggest using money allocated for community health centers and wellness and prevention programs to help people buy insurance and that less power be transferred into the hands of the private insurance companies.

Dean, who said he believes the bill will pass the Senate, initially supported health care legislation.

"I've been involved in this all along. I put up with a lot of stuff I didn't like because I thought at the end of the day what was good about the bill outweighed what's bad about the bill," Dean said. "I don't believe that anymore."

Democratic leaders in the Senate argue that even without the option of expanding Medicare or providing government-run insurance to compete with the private sector, the bill will still cover millions of uninsured Americans and is worth passing.

"I disagree with Howard Dean," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Tuesday in an interview with ABC News. "Howard Dean is a medical doctor. He has to know what it will mean when 30 million Americans are finally going to have health insurance, that peace of mind and protection for the first time in their lives. For many of them, that is a dramatic step forward."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Hundred?!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rules: A Least Common Denominator for Morality.

Rules are like mini political talking points: they don't say much but give us a standard around which to form teams.

Rules, as it turns out, are best when they are (and in) black and white. This saves us from thinking to hard about the cloudy areas they overlook.

Rules give us simple answers to complex issues; they form meaning from the gray.

Best of all: they define boundaries over which we can wage our ethical wars.


Human beings are complex moral fruit flies, and unless you cut off our arms and legs we don't fit well into boxes.

When we don't have rules determining the rallying cries of our ethical discussions we must continually provide backup information to clarify what we are saying. Even with this information, we will check back regularly - "Do you see where I'm coming from?" - to make sure our fellow conversees are keeping up. When there is a rule attached to the discussion, we do a lot less checking-in. We use short definite phrases like: "It's against the law," "It's a woman's right," "I was first in line!" We don't feel the need to check-in because there is an understanding that whatever we're talking about has exactly two familiar sides. All we're doing then is verbalizing where we stand relative to the standard.

No matter how cumbersome and unrepresentative they may be, we evoke rules, laws and social codes to lend weight to the most basic of our opinions. Despite being a cheap substitute for thought, there is a more dangerous issue at play when you argue from these rigid, codified perspectives. The rules you cite are not specific to your situation and carry their own weight, prejudice and subtext with them wherever they go. Statutory rape, for instance, means something quite different when referring to an incestuous uncle than it does when you're talking about an 18 year old senior in high school dating a 17 year old senior in high school. Rules touch on the theme but in no way get to the heart of the issue.

Please, don't misunderstand me: I'm not a rebel who hates authority and thinks rules are made to be broken. On the contrary, they should be neither obeyed nor disobeyed.

Rules should be politely ignored and substituted with our own morality.

Only then will we be able to have honest discussions about real issues. Only then will see our own hypocrisy reflected in the judgment we have passed on others. Only then will we be forced to evaluate ethical decisions for ourselves instead of turning blind eyes to injustice while falling back on whatever scaffolding was there when we arrived.

It might keep us from confusing ethical laziness with moral virtue.

It might help us see the gray

for gray.