Category Archives: News politics and issues

Occupy Washington Square

Hey all! I am in New York, with the Occupation, milling around in Washington Square.  I am tweeting somewhat, which you can see in that sidebar, over there.  My protest sign is getting a lot of attention.  I will post a pic of it when I get home. In the meantime have some phone pics.

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Quick Post

First, I want to thank everyone who helped replace my stolen computer by chipping in and/or spreading the word. You are all good friends, great people, and I am so glad you are in my life, no matter how distant you might be. I’m typing this post on my new computer, and I bought renter’s insurance, so I won’t ever have to beg for money on the internet again. As a bonus, when Apple heard my story, they took off 15% and threw in a three-year warranty program for free! It is quite awesome, and I have so much to be thankful for!

Secondly, I am planning a trip into New York City tomorrow. On my agenda is a visit to the World Trade Center Memorial and Occupy Wall Street. I am currently brainstorming poster slogans and/or pictures. Earlier today, I even drew a cartoon.  I rarely draw editorial cartoons, but this one came out well:

 

Tomorrow, I might live blog my trip to NYC and OccupyWallStreet, either here or on twitter.  Now, back to poster making!

The Duty to Care

Look down and see
The beggars at your feet.
Look down and show
Some mercy if you can.
Look down and see
The sweepings of the street.
Look down, look down
Upon your fellow man.
–A song from the show Les Miserables

Earlier this week, the inestimable junior senator from Kentucky, a Libertarian and Tea Party darling, and a self-certified ophthalmologist, equated the notion of a right to health care with that of enslavement of medical professionals.

“With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to health care, you have realize what that implies. It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. It means that you’re going to enslave not only me, but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses. … You have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you? That’s ultimately what the right to free health care would be,” – Senator Rand Paul.

(emphasis mine) Quote source: Andrew Sullivan

Here’s a video: Rand Paul Expresses an Opinion

I am shocked, nay—appalled that a physician trained at a reputable medical school (Duke University) would so cavalierly suggest that the Hippocratic Oath is mere fluff, that it is permissible for a medical person to pick and choose whom he (or she) will so deign to “take care of.”  Appalled that a physician would claim the right to deny care to anyone he deems unworthy of his vaunted expertise, for whatever reason he may contrive.  Appalled that he would suggest that being required to do his job is enslavement.

No, Rand Paul.  It is not enslavement to expect you to do the job to which you voluntarily signed up for when you became a physician.   It is not enslaving doctors when we expect them to take care of people that need to be taken care of.  It is not enslavement when we expect them to do their jobs, to be doctors.  It is certainly not enslavement to try and create a system that will increase access to doctors and nurses and medicines for everyone who needs it.

For you see, Rand Paul, every person in this society has a role to play—such as parent, teacher, plumber, homeowner, soldier, student, banker, factory worker, senator, and physician.  All these roles come with privileges and obligations.  Let’s call these privileges ‘rewards,’ and these obligations ‘duties.’  When you adopt a role, you assume the duties as well as the rewards of that role. Taking up duties, by definition, means you relinquish certain liberties you may once have enjoyed. This is true no matter what role you take, whether as parent, plumber, soldier, doctor, or as senator.  When you become a parent, you exchange the liberties of “me time” for the duties of raising a child.  When you become a homeowner, you exchange the liberties of financial freedom for the duty to pay down your mortgage. When you become a physician, you exchange the liberty of seeing only those you want to see for the duty to give care to all who come to you as patients.  When you became a senator you exchanged the liberty to speak for yourself for the duty to speak on behalf of all those people you represent—including those who disagree with you.

To say that you should not be forced to meet the obligations expected of your role because that infringes on your personal freedoms–that is tantamount to me telling my boss that I’m not going to do my paperwork because being required to so do so infringes on my liberty, my right to choose how I wish to do my job. Guess what, Rand Paul, if I ever dared say that I would rightly be fired, because we do not get to reap the rewards of duties not performed.

Perhaps you forgot the Hippocratic Oath?

  1. I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant
  2. I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
  3. I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
  4. I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.
  5. I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.
  6. I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
  7. I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
  8. I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
  9. I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
  10. If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

I wish to repeat #9 again, because it bears repeating, Mr. Rand Paul:

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

To be a doctor is to take on the duty to care, Rand Paul.  It is not enslavement. Do you even know what slavery is, Rand Paul?

Slavery is not just the absence of liberty.  Slavery is the commodification of a person’s body, of all his or her abilities as well as life.  Slavery is denying a person his or her personhood; denying a person the right to speak or vote; to literally sell a person’s body for money. Slavery is taking away all power a person has over his or her life.

When bodies are treated as commodities—that is slavery. When a body’s health becomes a source of revenue for others—that is when liberty is at risk; for it is when bodies become infirm that choices become restricted. When you deny a person access to health care, you deny them agency over their bodies and their health, and thus over their lives. You deny them the ability to make choices. That is more like slavery than requiring or even just expecting doctors to perform their Hippocratic duties ever will be.

Having a duty to others is not slavery, Rand Paul. When you conflate the two, you render the term and history of “Slavery” meaningless. You invalidate the entire notion of a social contract.Which I hasten to point out is the intellectual basis of our entire political society.  Our Founding Fathers—the very men you Tea Party ideologues so revere—built our Constitution on the concept of a social contract.  Which you now, with careless hyperbole and disregard for history, mock.

For shame, Rand Paul. Shame.

Eggs and the Homogenized Mass.

This morning, while eating my eggs, I had the distinct pleasure of watching John Boehner talk to George Stephanopolos about the looming government shutdown. It wasn’t long at all until my eggs lost all flavor.

Thanks for ruining my breakfast, John Boehner!

Dear Political Persons of Any Stripe, but particulary Speaker Boehner;

Please refrain from uttering the phrase “The American people want/do not want…” while rationalizing your political ideology. It is patently untrue; you do not speak for all Americans. We are not some homogenized mass which you can use to justify pushing your political agendas. When it comes down to it, only the President can really speak for all of us, but even the President would be remiss to do that, because Americans are, once again, not a homogenized mass.

Really, you can only claim to speak for your consistuents, the people whom you are elected to represent, but even then, like the President, you cannot really speak for all of them, for like the rest of the country, your consistuents are not a homogenized mass whose opinions perfectly sync up with yours.

For that matter, while I am on the subject, just because you were elected by a majority of the voters or electors in your district, does not mean that the people of your district, or even the people who voted for you, approve of every single thing in your agenda. It is quite possible, even likely, that any particular voter will agree with you on one thing but not on another.

See, people vote for you, not necessarily because they think you’re the bee’s knees, but perhaps because they think you are a better alternative than your opponent. Being the victor of a campaign does not constitute widespread approval of your platform. Winning an election does not and never shall constitute a mandate, no matter how wide the margins of your win. Being elected does not mean you no longer need to “listen”–if I may be so generous as to use that word–to what your people think.

Therefore, Mr.Boehner and other sundry political persons, you cannot, not ever shall claim the right to speak for everybody.

Most emphatically not yours,
Rachel

The Orange Colored Shroud

Have you seen that new commercial from AT&T, in which entire buildings, monuments, and cities are draped with rust-colored cloth?  When I first saw it a couple weeks ago, it made me think not of the art by Christo and Jean-Claude, but of the oil in the Gulf.  For don’t those orange curtains look like the orange muck spewing out of the blown-out well? And now that commercial makes me think that entire cities are being drowned in oil.  Sadly, as a metaphor, it is not far from the truth.

I don’t know how to begin expressing my thoughts on this matter.  I’ve been reading blogs and news reports several times a day for the past few weeks.   My heart weeps at what I read, and my mind cries out in anger for my impotence.

Last I heard, at least 400 birds are dead. Dolphins, fish, turtles, and jellyfish are washing up on shore, dead. There are wandering plumes of oil pockets and oil droplets under the surface, choking off dissolved oxygen in the water, oxygen that is the basis of all life in the oceanic food chain.   The hole is spewing 19,000 barrels (over 700,000 gallons) of crude per DAY. At that rate, if left alone, it would take 7 years for the reservoir of oil to empty into the sea.  That is definitely not something that can be countenanced, considering the scope of the disaster now, after only a month.  Multiply this by 84 months and you’ve got that AT&T commercial made manifest.

All the efforts by BP to control and cap the spill have failed.  Now, they are drilling two “relief wells” coming in at a diagonal intersect to siphon off oil and pressure from the main well so that it can theoretically be shut–a process that requires absolute precision to work. Its hard to have confidence in their chances and their abilities considering the monumental pile of FAIL that has preceded this. Even should they succeed,  these wells won’t be complete until August, so in the meantime, the crude will continue to flow, pollute, kill, and destroy.

All of that makes me feel sad and anxious, but what really angers me are the actions of the people involved in this disaster;  the oil barons, the government, and the politicians.  The oil barons (BP, Halliburton, and Transocean) have cut corners, by-passed numerous safety regulations, ignored advice from engineers, and outright lied about the magnitude of the spill itself.  The government has fostered in itself an environment toxic with conflicts of interest–regulators and resource managers with personal and financial ties to the oil barons among the least of the corruption.  And then there’s the politicians, from those like Rand Paul who dismiss the disaster as a mere “accident”  and call criticisms of the oil companies “unpatriotic”;  to those like Bobby Jindal who cry out for small government and deregulation and states rights and then demand the federal government save them from the effects of deregulation; to President Obama’s inability to do more to fix the problem.

Though, of course that begs the question of just what it is one can expect the President to do about this mess.  He’s done what he can without commandeering BP’s property, militarizing the situation, and outright nuking that well.  And should we even want him to do that?  Is it even legal?  We can be sure that those with a personal interest in keeping the well solvent are reluctant to do it. Whatever the case, there’s a big part of me that wants Obama to do it, and I’m frustrated that he’s not. And I want him to tell us why he won’t do it.  There’s a whole lot more at stake here than the financial investment of 5 billion barrels of oil, and I really hope that Obama believes that too.

Then of course, there’s the anger and guilt I feel towards this society, and myself as a member of it, for fostering the conditions of greed and consumption and insouciance that allowed the events that led up to this disaster.  We, with our addictions to cars, big houses, 72 degree Fahrenheit rooms, disposable oil-based luxuries such as polyester, plastic toys, computers, and smart phones, are complicit in this disaster as well.  This country has needed to look beyond oil for decades, since our production capacity peaked in 1970.  Our demand for instant gratification forced innovators to drill far and deep into dangerous waters instead of thinking outside the box for safer, newer technologies.  This disaster in the gulf now punctuates the undeniable reality that in this next century, all our lives must change.  I only hope we don’t smother the whole world with oil in the process.

Postscript

Dear Johnny:

What’s that you say?

Senator John McCain, the president’s Republican rival for the White House in 2008, said Monday that the anger was so intense over the parliamentary tactics on health care that Mr. Obama should not expect any help from Republicans. “There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year,” Mr. McCain told an Arizona radio station. “They have poisoned the well in what they’ve done and how they’ve done it.”

LOLWUT?

Exsqueeze me, but as I recall, you and your party of buffoons spent most of the past year and a half yelling “No!” to every Democratic proposal and every venture across the asile, and manipulating your base’s reactions with lies and misrepresentations. Goading them into vile hatefulness with your media’s reprehensible public puppetry.

As point of fact, there is nothing particulary amazing or subversive about the process of reconciliation: your own party has used it many times in its history when it was in the majority!

The intense anger you so hypocritically lament is of two types: that which your party has artifically constructed to fuel your political machinations, and that of those who find said machinations vile and repugnant.

To put it in small words so you may understand: it was YOU who “poisoned the well”, you bloviating asshat!

I bid you GOOD DAY, SIR!

Huffily,
Rachel

Missives from the Malcontent.

Dear Republicans:
You had over a YEAR to propose better alternatives to Democratic plans on Health Care Reform–not once did you ever say “Hey guys, I got a better idea! Instead of this, let’s do this;…” Instead you assholes spent a YEAR with your arms folded shouting “We demand compromises!” And when given compromises, shouted “NOnononoNO.”
Its pathetic how you collectively decided that political manuvering was more important than taking care of the needs of the American people.

Way to be the obfuscating, hyperventilating, obstructionist, self-serving assholes, G.O.P. “Party of No.”

Congratulatingly,
Rachel

*****

Dear Congress;
As much as I enjoy a good heckle (which is to say, not at all), especially of the kind seen in the British House of Commons, it is not the type of behavior that is acceptable for our legislators. I dunno about the rest of my fellow citizens, but I for one, expect mature, rational behavior from grown adults. Not disruptive shouting of the likes of Randy Neugebauer or Joe Wilson.

And while it has thus far been only childish Republicans engaging in this behavior, I ask you not to let it become just another way to play politics.

Once again, please kindly cease and desist.

Votingly,
Rachel

*****

Dear Tea Partiers:
Why don’t you do us all favor and repeat history by tossing yourselves into the Boston Harbor, you hateful bigots.

Disgustedly,
Rachel

*****

Dear Rushie-baby;
Put up or effin’ shut up.

Gloatingly,
Rachel

No one is suprised that Texas is stupid

This week really sucks. I won’t be able to get my car fixes until after Christmas. I will tell the long sordid story later. In the mean time I’m busy trying to moderate my stress levels with hot baths and valium. Especially after todays horendous snow storm and the mess it left behind. Again, another post. For now here’s a bit from an AIM convo today.

Me: Did you hear about the texas anti-gay marriage amendment fiasco?

Sis: heh, no what happened?

Me: its lulzy. (Hat-tip to Woozie for the link)

Sis: OMG, they are SO DUMB!

Me: Lol yeah Well they knew what they meant and that was good enough for them, but the law isn’t as discerning lol

Sis: seriously gah

Me: What were they thinking? Lol “shall not recognize anything identical to or similar to marriage” LMAO Stupid fucks

Sis: i’m reading some of the comments–funny. wow, they are really really dumb

Me: How’s that?

Sis: they totally outlawed marriage, gay or otherwise, in Texas “You do not have to have a fancy law degree to read this and understand what it plainly says,” yeah, it PLAINLY says that the state may not recognize marriage or anything that looks like it. gah!

Me: Not true, they argue! They define marriage in the first part as being between one man and one woman, but then follow up with banning “all legal unions identical or similar to marriage” the “TO” OBVIOUSLY diferentiating the “real marriage” previously defined is not included in the clause under question. LMAO

Sis: that’s why we have fancy lawyers. dumbasses

Me: I counter “any legal union identical to marriage” is a marriage. The key word being “LEGAL” Fucking dumbasses!

Sis: LOL srsly

Me: “Sir, madam, I’m afraid your union is identical to a marriage and is therefore illegal”

Okay, heres MY two cents.

In just a few short hours, President Obama will be addressing a special joint session of Congress on the matter of health reform. As much as I would like to see him take Congress to task for the rampant lying and demagoguery of recent months, for failing to put the needs of the American people before that of corporate interests, I don’t think that is likely to happen. What I think will happen is a careful attempt to get the democrats, including the Blue Dogs, behind him, so that the Republicans will be outvoted on the matter of the public option. We shall see.

I’ve been wanting to write something about the health care reform debate for a while now, but have been hesitant to do it. It’s an intimidating topic, for one thing, and something I feel strongly about, for another. I always find it hard to compose my thoughts in some coherent fashion when my feelings about it are impassioned. Make no mistake, my feelings in regards to health care reform are impassioned.

I strongly believe that public access to good health is, if not a right, then an obligation. A nation founded on the principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is remiss if it neglects to care for the health and wellbeing of the people of which it is composed. The fact is, illness and wellness is a social concern. The health of one person affects everyone that person is connected to, even if only by an instant. The spread of epidemics proves this. The health of populations affects the health of each individual. The eradication of smallpox proves this.

I’m really sick of health care opponents throwing the word “socialism!” around like it’s a bad thing. I’m also really sick of people cringing from that word in blind fear without at least understanding what that word really means. To put it in simplistic terms, socialism is public property or services paid for by taxes. The post office is socialist. The library is socialist. The police and fire departments are socialist, as are the water and sewage treatment plants. Social security, medicare, highways, prisons and the military, all are socialist. The public schools are socialist. The very foundations of our society, upon which we live and breathe and depend on every day, are socialist!

The bottom line here is that privatized health care simply doesn’t work. If it did work we wouldn’t be having this debate. If it worked, health care would be affordable, and insurance available to all instead of just the healthy, wealthy, or the employed. If it worked, illness would not drive families into debt and bankruptcy. If it worked, employers would not have to make health care decisions for their employees, and employees would not have to accept whatever package their employers deemed acceptable (read: cheap). If it worked, 42% of the American people wouldn’t be uninsured or underinsured. If it worked, people would not have to worry about being dropped from their plans for some technicality when they become ill. If it worked, poor and un/under-insured individuals would not have to wait until an expensive emergency arises to see a physician. If it worked, doctors would care more about accurate, quality care for their patients than about “defensive medicine” or how much money they can get by foisting as many unneeded services and tests on as many people they possibly can. If it worked, healthy people would be more important than the bottom line.

If private health insurance worked, Americans would be among the healthiest, happiest, and longest lived people in the world. But we aren’t. In too many studies America is consistently outranked by those who provide some variation of a public, socialized health system.

No system is perfect. There are instances when socialized medicine fails to be the best health care for some exceptional individuals. But those instances are rare outliers, and do not detract from this one simple, observable truth: public health care works better for more people than private health care. That is why we need health care reform. That’s why we need a public option; because what we have now just doesn’t work. It isn’t working. Period.

And we, the people, need to do something to change it. Now.