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Saturday, March 3rd, 2012
8:29 pm - What choice will Russians do?

hannarainolds

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Thursday, March 1st, 2012
11:51 pm - Putin is a devil candidate for presidency!

hannarainolds

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Sunday, January 29th, 2012
5:26 pm - 2 000 000 signatures in 20 days...is it possible?

hannarainolds

The forthcoming election of president in Russia scheduled for March 4, 2012 is already illegitimate. Why? Candidates from parliamentary parties and self-nominee candidates are set in unequal conditions in violation of Constitution. If you are a self-nominee you are to collect 2 million signatures of votes in you support, in......20 days! That is the price of registration you as a candidate. Sounds unrealistic, and it is actually so! That is how unwanted candidates are being sorted out from the election. Or maybe not all of them, if you are an oligarch, like Michael Prokhorov, and have enough money to fabricate those signatures, you are welcome to continue in the election race.

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Saturday, December 3rd, 2011
4:37 pm - TRUTH IS HERE

hannarainolds
Why do you think it is so hard to burst into to the ranks of elite? You may think they guard so hard the purity of their family bloodlines only out of the idea of preserving the status of their ancestors. It already became a tradition over the centuries. Does it mean people outside of their status are not considered worthy anymore? It all has much deeper reasons than you ever thought of.

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Monday, August 23rd, 2010
1:07 pm - America Goes Insane

blueduck37
I have put this blog on indefinite hiatus-- too busy, got a life, etc-- but have still been posting some of my political thoughts on Twitter (@blueduck37). Still, I left this blog with a note that if there was a topic anyone wanted me to write about, to just ask. That stands.

Ahab asked the following: "What are your thoughts on the controversy surrounding Cordoba House (which right-wingers have christened 'the Ground Zero Mosque') in New York City?"

An excellent question, and I am happy to answer. First, some disclaimers. I live in New York City (Queens). I was at the Trade Center on 9/11. I am an atheist. I am a liberal Democrat. I am an ACLU member. I like freedom.

The controversy over a planned cultural center-- the Park 51 project, aka Cordoba House-- run by Muslims in downtown Manhattan is one of the most disgusting displays of jingoism we have seen in America in some time. It involves several horrible themes... general mob mentality, the idea that the First Amendment applies less when its specific execution makes people uncomfortable ("Everybody knows America's built on the rights of free expression, the rights to practice your faith, but come on", states GOP House bigshot Eric Cantor), and, of course, post-9/11 Islamaphobia (fueled by the idea that all Muslims bear some connection to, or responsibility for, those attacks). Americans believed/hoped that such sentiments would wash away with the end of the Bush-era, and that an Obama presidency would automatically mean improved relations between us and the Middle East, and this controversy is a reminder that nothing comes easy, and that we still have a way to go.

As an aside, kudos to the Republicans who have stood up against this faux-outrage-- Joe Scarborough, a few former Bush staffers, etc-- and a big thumbs down to the top Democrats too cowardly in an election year to say or do the right thing.

To me, the key thing to this whole debate is how much of it is built on a series of lies and distortions. The so-called "Ground Zero" "mosque" is neither... merely a community center (with Jews and Christians on its board... how many Christian or Jewish groups can say similar?), several blocks away from the site, on the site of an old Burlington Coat Factory. It is no more a "mosque" than a YMCA would be a church if it had a prayer room. Not that it should matter if it were a mosque, of course. There is, of course, already a mosque within blocks of Ground Zero, which predates the World Trade Center-- as well as all of this, closer to the right-wing's favorite political prop 'hallowed ground'-- and one inside the Pentagon. And the Imam at the center of all this-- whom the right has tried to paint as a radical-- is an official ambassador in the effort to build better relations between the U.S. and the Middle East, and the effort to take on actual radicalism in those areas. But these facts don't fit the narrative, so away they go.

Moreover, there was no real, widespread controversy over the center until it was created in the same way that ACORN temporarily became America's greatest villain last year (and here's some facts on that). Last December, for instance, right-wing pundit Laura Ingraham-- no moderate-- interviewed the Imam's wife on Fox News. The two had a genuinely civil back and forth. "I can't find many people who really have a problem with it," Ingraham says of the Cordoba project, adding at the end of the interview, "I like what you're trying to do." That is, of course, until the crazies got their hand on the issue.

The credit for this whole hysteria largely can be traced back to one woman... Pam Geller. Who is Pam Geller? She is one of the right's biggest Islamaphobes and has been staging stunts like this for years. A conspiracy theorist and a racist (don't take my word on that... click the previous link, and make up your own mind), she sees creeping Sharia law in every shadow she comes across. She took her anger at the project and, over the course of 2010 turned it into a national issue, with help from outlets like the NY Post/Fox News and folks like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. Behold the birth of a scandal.

The right, of course, not only will not acknowledge that, but has tried to paint their opposition to the project as being merely rooted in respect for the memories of those killed at the Trade Center site on 9/11. It's not about Islam or mosques, they say, but merely about the location and its sacredness (how they get away even with that much without admitting that they equate all Muslims with 9/11 is beyond me). I came across an article by Pat Sajak (a far-right conservative in real life), for instance, defending the anti-Cordoba attacks, stating that he hasn't "heard any mainstream suggestions that mosques shouldn’t be allowed to be built. This... is a location-specific issue". That, of course, is total BS. A few outlets-- including NYC's own The Daily Show-- have compiled news reports from around the country, from Staten Island to Kentucky to California, of mosques being protested because of their... well, being mosques. This has nothing to do with location, other than the location here giving opposition to this particular building extra emotional punch to the protesters.

(Still think it's not about race/religion? Watch what happens a Puerto Rican, a worker at the Ground Zero site, gets mistaken for a Muslim at a protest this past weekend. Such odd behavior from a group of people supposedly concerned with sensitivity.)

This is not an abberation, of course. Even ignoring larger history, the GOP just in the recent past has a record of taking insane memes and going mainstream... freedom fries, Terri Schiavo, death panels, etc. American politics is often enslaved to whatever made-up emergency the right has zeroed in on.

The right, of course, will happily note that polls are on their side on this issue. That part, for the record, is true (ignoring, of course, the other polls showing people who actually live in Manhattan are overwhelmingly supportive of the project). But should that matter? Do we put freedom up to a vote in America? Anti-Prop 8 lawyer Ted Olson asked Fox News' Chris Wallace, who was citing the CA voters' opposition to gay marriage as being disrespected by that recent court ruling, "Would you like Fox’s right to free press put up to a vote and say well, if five states approved it, let’s wait till the other 45 states do?" No one at Fox, of course, would ever agree to that. These rights are called "inalienable" for a reason... no matter how angry or uncomfortable the execution of those rights make certain people (including, at times, myself).

So much of me wishes that I-- and everyone else-- could ignore this hysteria. After all, America right now faces real problems-- an economy ravaged by years of short-sighted activities, wars that don't want to end, climate change, outdated infrastructure, etc-- and it hurts all of us when our political system hits the pause button to debate a controversy that ultimately affects no one. But this issue is a test on freedom and tolerance in America in the 21st century, and that does matter. Right now, we are failing that test. And that's worth paying attention to, and worth standing up for.

current mood: working

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Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
5:22 pm - Ask Jeremy.

blueduck37
Hey, here's an idea to reinvigorate this ol' blog (and was sort of what I was fishing for in my recent post)... post a comment/ask me a question. And I will do my best to respond. My mind is always racing with political debates and it's nice to have an avenue for them.

Also, don't follow to follow my tweeties! It's very serious dialogue!

[PS- A starting point for questions on health-care: 5 Myths About Health Care Around the World]

current mood: working

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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
7:57 am - Camelot Ends With a Whimper, Not A Bang.

blueduck37
“This is the cause of my life. New hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American - north, south, east, west, young, old - will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.”
--Senator Ted Kennedy, exactly one year ago today. Rest in peace.

current mood: working

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Monday, August 24th, 2009
12:49 pm - With Friends Like These...

blueduck37
Earlier this month, President Obama called GOP Senator Charles Grassley one of his "Republican friends on Capitol Hill" who was "sincerely trying to figure out if they find a health care bill that works."

Sen. Grassley was so warmed by the President's kind words that he has since gone around stating things like how he won't allow a bill that will "pull the plug on grandma", praising Glenn Beck's new book, stating that Obama needs to be more bipartisan and focus on "getting 80 votes" (!!), and bragging to town hall attendees that his obstruction helped prevent the President from moving the bill forward earlier in the summer. Best friends forever!

The very same Sen. Grassley appeared on CBS' "Face The Nation" yesterday and was asked to explain, and defend, his grandma-killing fear tactics. Grassley explained, with no shame, that-
"I said that because — two reasons. Number one, I was responding to a question at my town meetings. I let my constituents set the agenda. A person that asked me that question was reading from language that they got off of the Internet. It scared my constituents. And the specific language I used was language that the President had used at Portsmouth(*), and I thought that it was — if he used the language , then if I responded exactly the same way, that I had an opposite concern about not using end-of-life counseling for saving money, then I was answering — [...]

...You would get into the issue of saving money, and put these three things together and you are scaring a lot of people when I know the Pelosi bill doesn’t intend to do that, but that’s where it leads people to."

So here you have Sen. Grassley admitting a) that this scary thing isn't actually in the bill, and b) that he lied to his constituents and acted like it was, because he lets them 'set the agenda' based on things they found on the internet. I don't know what is 'scarier' to me... that this man is a U.S. Senator or that the President considers him one of his "Republican friends on Capitol Hill".

[*Note: The President did say that... as an example of the lies poisoning this debate.]

It's my growing belief that Obama's achilles heel is his obsession with getting 'everyone at the table' and insisting that he can negotiate in good faith with Republicans. So many of his early missteps (the watered-down stimulus, failure to get most legislation and political appointees past the Senate, etc) can be traced back to his insistence on taking this path, regardless of the substantive legislative costs. Bipartisanship and compromise are two-way streets... but so far this year, they haven't been. I've read reports that Democrats are considering going it alone on health-care and looking for ways to pass this bill along party-line votes (we do have the majority, you know) so that we don't have to sacrifice any more substance at the alter of bipartisanship. We could only be so lucky.

My biggest fear now is that we will end up, once this process is over, with a bill that makes our health-care system worse... ie. a mandate for health insurance, but without a public option or any substantive consumer protections. And if that's the case, it will be a disaster for America in the important sense, and for the Democrats in the political sense. But hey, at least President Obama and Charles Grassley will still have their beautiful friendship. And that's what really matters, right?

current mood: working

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12:41 pm - President Bu...?? Can't Remember. Who Were We Talking About?

blueduck37
So I opened the free Metro newspaper this morning a full-page ad by the "U.S. Citizens Association", positioning themselves seemingly as a non-partisan watchdog group, explaining how Obama and the Democrats are socialists who have plotted for decades to destroy the economy and take all wealth for themselves while bankrupting 99% of America. Because when you think concentration of wealth and the destruction of the poor, you think... socialism.

It blames the collapse in our economy over the past several years on everyone from Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to other figures such as Janet Reno and Barney Frank. AND NO ONE ELSE! The ad can be read here. One could spend all day debunking every point and lie in this ad, but I shall refrain. However, by request (via comments or elsewhere), I will be happy to take on anything in this ad. I am already doing so in my head anyway.

Instead, as is my wont and obsession, I decided to research this organization (using "the googles") and discover exactly who was really behind this "Citizens" organization. My first guess? The Ron Paul loons. Apparently incorrect! Here's what I discovered: This organization-- a lobbying group-- used to call themselves the 'Better Government Association' but was sued by the real Better Government Association (a genuinely non-partisan government watchdog organization that has been around since 1923) and was forced by a court order to change their name. So now they are the "U.S. Citizens Association". The chairman of their board is a man named Ed Rollins, a Republican campaign consultant and advisor who was worked on numerous campaigns, including Reagan-Bush '84 and Huckabee '08 (but has worked with countless other far-right Republicans over the years, such as Newt Gingrich and others). It seems they also have an army of lawyers, who have refused to comment to any press inquiries thus far about the ads. So, you know, a real grassroots citizens group.

Oh, and PS... ACORN!

current mood: working

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Friday, August 21st, 2009
12:17 am - I Tweet, Therefore I Am.

blueduck37
Soliciting feedback on what topics to discuss here. Also, I tweet @blueduck37. If interested.

current mood: sleepy

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Thursday, August 20th, 2009
2:55 pm - PS.

blueduck37
One final addendum for the day on health-care...

I was watching this clip of Matt Taibbi being interviewed on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' about health-care (two plugs in one day, Matt, you owe me a kickback!) and some of the pundits objected to his criticism of the U.S. health-care system. The standard pushbacks were thrown against Taibbi... that most Americans like the health-care they get, that we have done great innovative work on this front, that many foreign people come here because our system is so awesome, and etc. I didn't think Taibbi did the best job responding to these specific points-- though they got there in the end-- so let me give my response, since they always come up.

I agree with those points in general... America does have amazing facilities and doctors (I'll leave the drugs out of this for now), and many Americans are satisfied with both. But... that's not the point and it's not the issue. The issue is that the greatness or horrors of a system is moot if you don't have access to it. And our current system of a profit-based, private insurance monopoly-- except for all those socialist old people and veterans who have a... wait for it... public option already-- is on the wrong side of that. Don't have, or can't afford, insurance? You're screwed. Have insurance? You're screwed anyway, because between denied claims and cancelled policies and increasing co-pays, countless Americans are being driven into poverty for the crime of having gotten sick. It's a corrupt system that is overly complicated and which puts profits ahead of health. Nearly a third of all premium dollars go toward administrative costs, not toward paying claims and actual care. That is the issue.

The idea that since the occasional foreign millionaire may come to the U.S. to see a particular specialist (unlike the majority of Americans, who could never afford that) all this is negated is laughable. But it's part of the narrative tide we are fighting against. For every such anecdote, I can find you (very easily) a hundred of these heart-breaking stories. I'm sure the latter is more tragically familiar to most Americans too.

This is not a good system. Period. There is a reason the World Health Organization ranks us #37 in this regard. And I'll note again, in conclusion, that the idea of replacing this system was taken off the table from the start... at best, all that is being proposed is an option for something better, with some regulations here and there to help the rest. If we're the greatest country in the world, we deserve at least that much.

current mood: working

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12:50 pm - Yes We Can't.

blueduck37
Yes, I'm still neglecting this blog like a bad parent, but I still like to peek my head in every so often and make sure it hasn't choked on any blocks. I guess, before I proceed, I'll ask for reader (??) feedback. Are there are any topics you would like to see me write about? I'm here to serve your politageek needs!

Anyway, the political debate this months leads us right back to where we were the last time I posted... health-care reform. The last time I blogged about this, my pessimism was showing, but my aura of hope remained. What have I missed since then? Of yes... America went completely insane. I'll get to that, fear not.

For me, I've been trying to stay as focused as possible on the substance of where this is all headed. This past month I thought, I can't be the only who noticed that the fight for 'universal healthcare' became 'health care reform' and now is simply 'health insurance reform'. And that's the bigger story. The Democrats-- elected to their most powerful majority in decades less than a year ago-- still endlessly bargaining away their own agenda. For all the oxygen being consumed by right-wing loons and cable news pundits and lobbyists, etc, a failure to get meaningful reform passed (if that's what ends up happening) will really be a story of a Democratic leadership that failed to actually lead, and also became a victim of the very special interests they set out to vanguish.

People like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin (and countless numbers of angry tea-baggers shaking their fists, and guns, from coast to coast) may be shameless and loud and good at what they do, but they don't hold any political office. They don't control the White House or congressional committees. But people like President Obama and Senator Baucus and Rahm Emmanuel and their colleagues do. These are supposed to be smartest guys in Washington and they are blaming their failures on a bunch of people who think that Obama forged a U.S. birth certificate so he can take over America and put us all in FEMA concentration camps and grind grandma up into soylent green. That is not acceptable when the stakes are this high.

The cynic in me wonders if, at this point, Congress wants to pass a reform bill (any reform bill) just to check it off the list, and move on. To what? That's unclear. The key question I'd ask if I were a White House reporter is this... is there any health-care bill that Congress could pass that'd be so watered-down and unacceptable to the President that he would veto it? That answer would clarify a lot.

Of course, the media has made matters worse by making the story not the issue itself, but the anger. When President Obama held a lengthy press conference on the issue, the story for the next week was about the Professor Gates controversy that he commented on in the final question of the hour. When Sarah Palin (Unemployed - Alaska) wrote a rant on Facebook about imaginary 'death panels', it immediately took over the entire debate. Etc. It's not hard to figure out why so many Americans remain uninformed about the substance.

And, finally, to the liberals who helped elect Obama... yes, we should draw a line in the sand... a public option is non-negotiable. I'm with Howard Dean on this. Without it, all you've got, after all this time and energy and political capital, is some mild insurance reforms that will likely have huge loopholes in them anyway. That's not reform, and it's worth the time and money that's being asked for it.

I still want to have great faith in President Obama's leadership. But we've got over three years left (with an option for four more), and if we can't accomplish this now, under these circumstances, what can we accomplish? The answer to that question would clarify even more.

current mood: working

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12:44 pm - Health-Care Links

blueduck37
Two good stories that play up the angles from which I'm following this...

NY Times: A Primer on the Details of Health Care Reform

AP: FACT CHECK: Health overhaul myths taking root

Business Week: The Health Insurers Have Already Won--
How UnitedHealth and rival carriers, maneuvering behind the scenes in Washington, shaped health-care reform for their own benefit


...and here is a must-watch segment from the most recent 'Real Time w/ Bill Maher' showing who's angry and who's not with all of this, and what that says about the state of U.S. health-care.

current mood: working

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12:01 pm - A Month Old Now...

blueduck37
...But still deserves to be posted. It's Matt Taibbi's story on Goldman Sachs-

The Great American Bubble Machine-
From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression - and they're about to do it again


To me, the big political story of 2009 so far (other than health-care, natch... more on that later) is how the economic collapse of 2007-2008, which was supposedly going to shake the American economic status quo to its core, has essentially changed nothing ... other than putting countless more Americans out of work, of course. The bailouts and back-room deals of 2008 coupled with the failures this year to get any meaningful Wall Street/banking reforms passed have ensured that the same system that nearly destroyed the entire global economy will remain untouched. Nobody likes learning lessons and it seems that we all collectively decided not to.

And what passes for economic reporting in this country isn't helping. We have publications like Newsweek insisting that the recession is over... while simultaneously acknowledging that conditions on the ground (jobs, foreclosures, etc) haven't improved yet. So why "over"? Because Wall Street had a few bubble-licious good weeks? I'm not seeing anyone on a large forum asking these questions.

And the President who hired Larry Summers-- yes, this Larry Summers-- as his top economic adviser is supposedly a socialist.

There's that old cliche that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and I think that's apt here. And when the next economic crisis hits us down the road, it will be very hard not to feel that we have no one to blame but ourselves.

current mood: working

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10:38 am - Tom Ridge confirms that the sky is blue!!

blueduck37
Tom Ridge, reasonably sane Republican and former head of the Department of Homeland Security has-- what else?-- a new (tell-all?) book coming out, called "The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege... and How We Can Be Safe Again". Reports indicate Ridge "wants to shake 'public complacency' over security" (complacency? I still have to go through airport security in my socks and surrender my toothpaste).

They also say Ridge indicates he "was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over." This is a shock to almost no one, except maybe Joe The Plumber and that blond woman from Fox and Friends. Of course, it wasn't just one incident. It was a recurring theme. Keith Olbermann took a break from yelling at stuff a couple of years ago to do a really good report on the many terror-alert 'coincidences' during the Bush years-





I am posting this because a) history shouldn't so easily forget this aspect of the immediate post-9/11 political environment, and b) it's some good perspective as conservatives (well, the extremes anyway) go nuts insisting that there is no bigger threat to freedom than an affordable public health-insurance alternative.

current mood: working

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Saturday, July 18th, 2009
7:30 am - Quote of the Year

blueduck37
"Rather than shaping public opinion, he is running scared of it. And so, even more, is Congress."
--The Economist, on the leadership of President Obama

current mood: awake

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Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
6:30 pm - One More Thought on Health-Care...

blueduck37
The real debate now is on whether a public option plan will be included in the health-care reform bill (and if it's not, I'm with Howard Dean... we should pass no bill at all, because it isn't worth it to throw a few billion dollar $$ at our current system). Conservatives say the idea of a public system peacefully coexisting with the existing private system sounds crazy to them and cannot work.

But we already have a such a public/private system in place on another level. Schools. Some Republican leaders may even have attended some.

The basic, default system we have for educating kids in America is a public school, funded by tax dollars and available to all children regardless of income or location. In most areas, this system works very well (I would know, I attended several in multiple states up until 7th grade). They are not mandatory, of course. Why? Because our country also has numerous private schools, and many parents choose to spend the extra $$$ to have their children educated there instead. Those parents, however, still pay taxes for public schools. There may be some quiet grumbling about that by some, but for the most part it's a non-issue.

But, as with my previous entry, for some reason we view health-care differently. And that's wrong.

[PS- And that's not even getting into the fact that the presence of a public option will force the private companies to behave like human beings to compete for customers. And that's good for everyone. Unless you like the idea of practices like this continuing forever without accountability or consequence.]

current mood: working

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6:28 pm - A Thought Exercise

blueduck37
So conservatives claim that they're ideologically opposed to government involvement in health-care because they exist solely as a party of contrarians now they don't believe it is the government's place to provide this service. Okay, fair enough, that's a question of differing political philosophies and I will take it at face value.

But it is an inconsistent philosophy and I will help the GOP out by using my imaginary executive powers to rectify that. In addition to the removal of other public services (libraries, parks, etc), I am hereby dissolving all police and fire departments across the nation, and passing the tax savings back to Americans so that they can go forth and be better consumers. The issue of solving crimes and putting out fires will now be a free-market issue.

Instead of one taxpayer-funded police force, there will now be numerous private security forces opening up in your areas. There will also be companies selling crime insurance, which you can buy (or may be provided, in part, by your employer). When a crime happens to you, you will contact one of these private security forces and they will come to your service. Pricing plans will differ by crime and by area... smaller amounts for minor crimes like a mugging, but a larger fee for big crimes like rape. Don't have insurance? It's okay; you can get security help, and you will simply be billed for it later. Say, around $1,500 for their work catching your car's thief (remember, refusing to pay this bill may damage your credit score). Do have insurance? Well, be careful, it may be difficult to get good coverage in areas with preexisting crime conditions. We also recommend reading the fine print ahead of time... your house may have been robbed, but your policy does not cover home invasion. You're paying for that police response out of pocket. Only $2,000 though! There is no cause for complaint, however, as our nation's security forces are the envy of the world!

Fire-based assistance will work much in a similar way. We recommend getting that insurance as well, as paying out of pocket to have a fire put out has been shown to lead to financial ruin in some extreme cases. Be preemptive by better fire-proofing your home and neighborhood. Put the personal in personal responsibility!

This is a great, socialism-free system that Americans will tolerate and love. You're welcome.

current mood: working

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3:45 pm - Stories I Wish I Had More Time To Blog About...

blueduck37
...President Obama's regulatory reform: real or paper tiger? How the fact that some top banks started offering to pay back some TARP money just as the government was gonna increase conditions for it on them proves what a scam this whole bailout was from the start. Why no one seems to care about job creation anymore. The populist uprising in Iran (the revolution will be Tweeted!). Why cable news thinks I'm supposed to still give a shit about Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. Etc.

Alas, I am a lazy lazy man.

current mood: working

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3:34 pm - President Obama Hates Gay People...

blueduck37
...true story.

current mood: working

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