14 July 2008

Obama's still just the lesser evil...

...so I'll vote for a third party candidate. Why Criticize Obama, on Digital Underground, gives some reasons.

The only good thing about the winner-take-all electoral college system is that I live in a fairly safe Democrat state. Hence I have the luxury of voting my conscience instead of being forced to vote strictly to repel the barbarians at the gates.

Would that everyone were so lucky.

Some may be missing the point

From Impeach Bush Now by Elizabeth Holtzman, in The Nation.
Impeachment is one of the few ways Congress can draw limits around presidential power and educate the country about those limits. And without the people's support for those limits, they will be breached again and again by future Presidents.
The important things about this question aren't punishment or politics, they are precedent and deterrence. We prosecute the accused to find the facts of the matter, to reduce future crime, and to help determine the kind of society we inhabit. Whether we acquit or convict, we don't turn a blind eye and tacitly condone, or we deserve what we get.

13 July 2008

A little light reading

The Green Light by Philippe Sands, In Vanity Fair.
Torture, war-crimes, and the neo-con cabal--I say Hang 'em. It'll teach 'em a lesson.
Believe Me, It's Torture by Christopher Hitchens, in Vanity Fair.
Hitchens waterboarded--I may think he's an ass, but at least he seems honest.
It Takes a School, Not Missiles by Nicholas D. Kristof, in the New York Times.
Decent people may yet prevail.
The Real-Life ‘24’ of Summer 2008 by Frank Rich, in the New York Times.
What we don't impeach, we condone.
Rangel Calls Rent Bargain Legal and Fair by David Kocieniewski, in the New York Times.
You don't have to be white to be a jerk.

25 June 2008

FISA bad, Feingold good

FISA, Feingold, and a Filibuster?:
"It doesn't simply have the impact of potentially allowing telephone companies to break the law," Feingold said. "It may well prevent us from getting to the core issue, that I've challenged since December 2005, which is the president ran an illegal program I think that was essentially an impeachable offense."
I think the big story is ultimately not going to be that the telephone companies got immunity... it's that our personal conversations are now in a giant database somewhere over which we have no control.

23 June 2008

MSM economic coverage

Big Bump in Post's Budget Reporting: It Doesn't Add Up

From Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in his Beat the Press blog on TAP.

A critique of a WaPo article concerning, in part, budget and deficit numbers, projected and past.

The numbers tend toward uselessness, he says.

As does the WaPo site mark-up, sez I, off-topically. And serendip coincident surprise, somebody agrees:

the Post's website could be better
How's that for context-free quotation?

13 May 2008


From a Politico interview:

For the first time, Bush revealed a personal way in which he has tried to acknowledge the sacrifice of soldiers and their families: He has given up golf.

I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf, he said. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.

Bush said he made that decision after the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. official in Iraq and the organization’s high commissioner for human rights.

I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life, he said. I was playing golf — I think I was in central Texas — and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, It's just not worth it anymore to do.

24 April 2008

Health, economics and public policy in Alameda County

Via Google News:

Comment by Tony Iton, M.D., J.D., MPH, Director, Alameda Co. Public Health Dept.

Life Expectancy Gap Is Not The Result Of Bad, Stupid, Or Lazy People

The news coverage of these provocative research findings has thus far focused on the "health behaviors" (i.e. smoking, diet and physical inactivity) of the populations in these communities as an explanation of the increasing life expectancy gap in the U.S. This logic seems to suggest that these unhealthy behaviors occur in a vacuum and are somehow regionally distributed. There is abundant research, including the recently released Alameda County Health Equity Report, that suggest that federal, state and local policies that shape the social consequences of being poor in America are as important if not more important than individual health behaviors, and may in fact, indirectly influence the prevalence of these unhealthy behaviors.

There are a constellation of social policies affecting the lives of people in low income communities that effectively conspire to deprive them of opportunities to achieve a healthy life. These include policies related to minimum and living wage, health insurance access, education funding, housing, land use, incarceration, transportation and others. Central among those policies, and certainly among the most pernicious, is the low quality of public education that results from underinvestment in public pre-school and K-12 education systems in many of these same counties that are demonstrating falling life expectancies. Education is supposed to be the ultimate equalizer that gives poor kids an opportunity to achieve the American Dream. It is ostensibly the ladder out of American poverty.

The effect of this systematic deprivation of important social resources and opportunity is a profound sense of despair and hopelessness that has become pervasive in these communities and contributes to a state of chronic stress among many individuals. Chronic stress has detrimental physiological consequences leading to higher rates of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and a cascade of related chronic diseases such as heart disease, kidney failure and stroke. This is not primarily the result of bad, stupid or lazy people; it is the failure to recognize how social policy and its consequences are inextricably bound to health consequences. Disease and death are not randomly distributed in populations, to a large extent, the distribution is socially patterned and consequently, predictable.

This study is a harbinger of things to come. It is foreseeable that life expectancy will continue to decline in these communities until a concerted effort is made to systematically identify and strengthen the core social determinants of health that plague these communities. We need not feel that these are insoluble problems. Focused efforts and policies directed to improving the social consequences of poverty will serve to decouple the tight linkage that presently exists in America between being poor and having poor health. We are smarter than this; we can do better as a Nation if well-intentioned people come together and work on constructive solutions.