Read a funny thing today that I think says quite a bit about the state of our union, and really gives me pause about what the future may hold.
First a little history: In 199-3/4, the Clintons gave a substantive stab at a healthcare overhaul. The main focus of that bill was an employer mandate, which meant that employers would bear the brunt of the cost and give insurance to all employees (basically, anyway). Republicans of that time were opposed to this. Their argument was, in effect, that in employers had to give health coverage to their workers, what about all of those unemployed people out there? Wouldn’t they just get a free ride on taxpayer dollars if they were injured or sick? (Aside: God forbid that we pay for a poor person to continue living, I mean, they’re all just drunk lazy slobs right? ANYWHO.) So the Republicans came up with a solution, why not have mandate that all people have health coverage?
Now this is looking kind of familiar, isn’t it? I do believe that a lot of the hubbub on the Hill now is Republicans whining that the Obama plan is some kind of Socialist health agenda, and that it would be wrong to deprive Americans of their freedom by mandating anything. In fact, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who was a co-sponsor of the 1993 republican bill, said recently “Congress has never crossed the line between regulating what people choose to do and ordering them to do it…The difference between regulating and requiring is liberty.” Very poetic, but also an ironic complete turnaround from what he supported the last time this came up.
I find this revelation incredibly disparaging, as well as frustrating. Now republicans have gone so far as to start refuting almost everything Democrats put up, even when what they are complaining about WAS THEIR OWN IDEA. This is truly ridiculous. Republicans have retained their power over congress so long, they have completely forgotten what it means to be the minority, and actually have to discuss things with your peers instead of bulldozer through them just because you can. I think I have figured out why all the republicans have started calling the open-access healthcare summit Mr. Obama invited them to a “trap;” it is a trap because he would tear them to pieces with all of the fallacies, illogical arguments, and outright lies that the republicans have been spouting, of which the mandate nonsense is only one of MANY.
Heres a bit for the republicans and a plea from at least one citizen: the majority of the American people rejected your ideas in the last election, please stop impeding all progress on everything. We could be so much better than this, but at the moment, I wholeheartedly believe that a five year old could do a better job at being bipartisan. These childish antics have got to stop.
Heres a link to the relevant news story:
Found a good article about terrorist suspects and trials for terrorists. Basic summary: You know all of the hubbub about giving the ‘Christmas day bomber’ his Miranda rights and turning him over to the FBI? It’s actually all nonsense, and the decision is no different than anything we have done with any other terrorist that has been captured on US soil. The article also has a pretty good bit on the reasoning about trying terrorists in civilian courts, and just how insane and unreasonable some people who have gotten caught up in the hype are being. A good bit of reading, check it out here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/02/15/100215fa_fact_mayer
Now, each person will have there own reasons for eating what they eat, and some may disagree with mine, but thats ok. I get asked a lot “why are you vegetarian?” or “what made you vegetarian?” so I would like to answer some of those questions and perhaps save some fellow veggies the time spent answering them.
Initially, I became vegetarian because my girlfriend (now fiance) was, and I was attempting to not make her uncomfortable. As things progressed, and we spent more time with one another, I simply stopped eating meat very often. I know its not as sexy as “I did it because I love the animals!” but it is the truth. At this point I started thinking about the concept, and here is the train of thought I came up with:
Why do I eat meat? It be tasty and it gives me essential nutrients for living.
Is tastiness a reason to murder something? Not especially, no. I certainly wouldn’t want something to murder me because I’m tasty.
The it must be the nutrition part, do I need to eat it to live? Come to think of it, no, no I don’t. I don’t even need it to be healthy, there are plenty of subsitutes and supplements out there that give me as much or more than I need.
After this thought session, I have not eaten meat since, and I have come around slowly to the animal rights perspective, but i believe the above remains my strongest argument. Of course, there are many out there who would argue that you DO need the nutriment from meat to be healthy. They are wrong. I don’t really know how to argue with statements that have been proven false by study after study, except to state the obvious: those people are wrong. There are still many others who would say that tastiness is a reason to murder. This sentiment is more difficult still to answer because it represents a large gap in logical reasoning and an inability to feel empathy or compassion. These sociopaths need to learn those things before I can begin to make a case before them.
One of the funnier things I’ve noticed in the years that I have been a vegetarian is that every time I say “no, thank you, I’m vegetarian.” to a plate of carcass, people almost invariably go into their own vegetarian story. This usually comes out like this “I tried that once, its was WAY too hard for me” or “Yeah, I’ve thought about it a lot, and I only eat chicken and fish now, no red meat!” What I’ve noticed about people is that they ALWAYS, without fail, feel the need to justify themselves by saying how hard they have tried, or how they only eat certain kinds of meat, or how they only eat kosher things. Why do people feel this need? I suppose I can’t say, but I think its because it’s very obvious that you do not need to eat it, nor should you.
Whats more, is that if you get in an argument with a meat-eater over the merit of vegetarianism, one of three things will happen: They will get angry and leave, they will get angry and tell you they don’t want to hear where their food comes from, or they will get angry and call you a fag. Very few times have I been able to have a serious conversation with someone about the merit of meat, and I have yet to find someone who can offer a valid, well-reasoned argument (barring the two previosly stated, for the previously stated reasons). I believe that is because there is not a reasonable argument.
Now of course, people should come first. I don’t believe all species are equal. Stranded on an island, unless I could find some plentiful root that wouldn’t kill me, I would indeed slaughter many a beast to live, as well as to save another. However, if there is an another option, why not use it? Why cause needless suffering, damage property values (you try living next to a pig farm), hurt the land, and give people generally shitty jobs (you try stunning cows for a living and tell me it’s great), for something to which there is an obvious and reasonable alternative?
Sarah Palin’s remarks at the first Tea Party convention in Nashville this week was one of the primary reasons for starting this blog. Forgive me, but in this entry, though I will keep a level head, it truly boggles my mind that anyone would take this woman seriously. Mrs. Palin’s comments were some of the most derisive, divisive, and frankly intentionally misleading that I have heard in some years.
Some of the particularly obscene things she said were about national security. She said that Obama needed to be a “Commander-in-Chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern,” referring to the decision to treat the ’Christmas day bomber’ as a criminal with human rights, as opposed to a ‘enemy combatant,’ whose rights are subject to debate. She goes on to make snide remarks about giving this person what she called “Our U.S. Constitutional rights.” It seems to me that Mrs. Palin actually does need a professor of law as well as ethics to teach her the meaning and intention behind ’our constitutional rights’. I believe the fathers of our nation put it best in one of the other documents they wrote, I’ll summarize: All men are created equal, and have some unalienable rights. I would also like to quote a passage from the Constitution: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury.” I would like to point out, and I think any child could do the same, that nowhere in the Constitution or other documents does it state that these laws of our land apply exclusively to our own citizens. We are a nation of laws, and as we expect other nations to uphold our rights, we must be an example and do the same, no matter the circumstance.
Mrs. Palin also refers to some of the US veterans in the audience, thanking them for fighting for our freedoms. I say that those veterans did not fight for our laws and freedoms, but have fought to protect the ethic of fairness and freedom imbued within the U.S. and its people. In advocating that this man be stripped of his basic human rights, Palin is spitting in the eye of all of the veterans who have fought to preserve that ethic. Under a Palin America, we would quickly slip back into the days of torture and secrecy, all in the name of ‘protecting our freedoms and security.’ It may well be true that taking away the rights of suspected terrorists, the policy of special rendition, torture, and unending detainment will save some lives. HOWEVER; a few lives, even my own or my wife and childrens’, are not worth destroying this country’s basic principles. We must remain a paragon and stand up to our own standard of ethics and humane treatment. If something must be sacrificed, let it be our blood on the hands of our enemies, and not the blood of freedom and democracy on our own. Of course these people are criminals who have done or tried to do horrible things, and should be treated as such; however, we should gladly choose to bestow the rights that we give ourselves on those who would cause us harm because it is through these actions that we show that we are better than our enemies. To quote Alexis de Tocqueville, “America is great because it is good, If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
Palin also urged the President to “spend less time courting our adversaries, [and start] spending more more time working with our allies.” The clear and simple fact is that problems are not solved by only talking with your friends. Peaceful settlements can be made through negotiations with our neighbors with which we disagree. The policy of isolation that we have used for so long, generally only affects the people within those countries that are already hurting, and does not affect those who we would like to put pressure on (for example, the failed ‘Oil for Food’ program of 1995). Palin went on to say that America must stand with those who are fighting for democracy in other countries, refering mainly to the ongoing demonstrations in Iran, and Washington’s relative silence on the issue. My observation has been, and again I think any child could easily see it as well, that the reaction from the Iranian leadership to these demonstrations has been to say that the West has been organizing them, and that it is a plot by the great evil western powers to dethrone they, the ordained rulers. Considering this fact, the best way that we could help these demonstrators in their cause, is to remain silent and not delegitimize their cause to the rest of their country by being too proactive. It remains unclear to me if Palin is truly ignorant of this strategy, or is being deliberately obtuse and deceptive.
Of course, some of the issues of the day that are getting the most attention were addressed as well: the budget and healthcare. Palin lambasted the Obama about the bank bailout and the stimulus package, and accused Democrats of helping Wall Street while ignoring Main Street. It should be pointed out that the Bank Bailout was put into motion by a fellow Neoconservative, George Bush. It should also be mentioned that although this program was put into motion by a conservative, and continued by a liberal, it was the only reasonable option on the table at the time. Of course it is frustrating that many bankers got the huge bonuses, and that many are still employed today, but not putting strings on the bailout monies was a factor of cowardice in congress, and not the fault of any particular group. No, there is plenty of blame to go around, and it is intentionally misleading and false to say otherwise.
I would also like to point out that Mrs. Palin’s critique of the stimulus package is not only hypocritical, but that her alternative would leave the country in as bad of shape as it was one year ago. In 2001, Palin (or the rest of the Republican party, for that matter) did not balk at the price tag of the Iraq War. The party as a whole was all for that optional war, and gladly accepted and vouched for the shaky evidence and half-truths given to them by the previous administration. I would venture to guess that there would not be so much support for military action in places where war crimes are actively being committed, such as Darfur.
Palin offers that the kind of program that should be implemented to help the economy is one that is a “pro-market agenda that doesn’t pick winners and losers,” and one that “support[s] competition, support innovation, reward[s] hard work.” This is the same rhetoric that we have heard from the Republican party since the 1980s and we have tried it that way before, it is exactly how we got into this financial mess in the first place. A pro-market agenda that supports competition is one that is good for business and that maximizes profits for organizations that create good products. For the past 10 to 15 years when Republicans have been in control of the legislature and then the executive branches, we have been following this agenda and dismantling regulation. The fact is, we are seeing the result of these kind of policies, and we are paying for them now. The kind of policies that we need are those that balance the needs of market freedom to function with the need for regulation of the greed and lack of foresight that is inherent. Mrs. Palin’s simplistic view of this issue is easier to digest, however; it is not reality.
I only have a few things to say about healthcare. Palin said that we need to scrap the current healthcare “scheme,” and go back to “market-based reforms. ” As I said before, greed is inherent in the market. To speak plainly, the for-profit model of health insurance that many are advocating is insane. We pay doctors for the number of things they do, and insurance companies have a large incentive to deny a procedure or a medication. There is never a reason for a company to have an incentive to deny health care and cause harm and death simply because a person is poor. Never. No other 1st world country has a system like ours, do we really think we are so much more clever than the rest of them? Only extreme arrogance would have us believe so.
Sarah Palin has been nothing but a neoconservative speaker, constantly screeching extreme conservative bullet points. Her comments during the convention were more divisive than any argument on the hill has been in a long while. Some of them were misleading and untruthful, and I fail to see how so many could take such a person seriously.
Disagree? Think I’m full of it? I encourage anyone reading to comment and look forward to a spirited conversation.
(Full transcript of Sarah Palin’s speech: http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2446700/posts)
First Reason on my first blog post, exciting! I have started this blog to address some of the more pressing issues of the day (in my opinion, of course). I expect that this will mostly consist of politics, animal rights and vegetarianism, behavioral observations, the environment, and perhaps a short story or two. I hope that readers will find my observations to be passionate but analytical, opinionated but well-reasoned. I encourage discussion and argument on any topics I address, but I do ask that you think before you speak your mind, lest you be lambasted or eviscerated by my incredible prose (see 2/4/10′s Daily Show for reference). I hope to make more than one entry per week, preferably closer to one per day, but do forgive me if a longer post takes longer to research and write.