Monthly Archives: July 2009

The Business Model

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The health insurance companies are in the Health Care Industry, yet their business model is to spend as little money as possible on actually offering heath care. In other words, they make money by charging for coverage but denying health care.

Check out the last edition of the Bill Moyers Journal for three excellent pieces on Health Care:  “Wendell Potter on Profits before Patients“, “Money, Politics and Health” and “Health Care Reform on the Table.”

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Why is This News?

I just read that Liz Cheney “doesn’t believe her father did anything wrong in connection with a secret CIA operation.” Earlier today I wrote about the silliness in our political dialogue and this only furthers my point. So, really, why is what Liz Cheney thinks about her father newsworthy? I am sure the first person Dick-Just-Trust-Me-Cheney was going to confide in while hiding everything else from everyone else in the country was his daughter. “Daddie wouldn’t do that.”

Why is this news? Maybe we should hear what LaToya Jackson thinks.

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Let the Silliness Go On

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I should not be surprised by the total absence of seriousness in our political discourse. Between the Obama election and the economic crisis, the Republican insistence on “clinging to” outdated political and economic ideologies – i.e., cut taxes, cut spending, nothing more — has quickly moved from a lack of seriousness to pure silliness. To a certain extent this was expected after almost a decade of political hegemony in both the White House and Congress: the Republican political class was tired and out of ideas. Surely the same fate will befall the Democrats at the end of the Obama reign. In the meantime, we have to live through the rehashing of the Republican culture wars that have little to with reality and less to do with policy. Continue reading

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Quack 22

If it is better to resign from elected office than become a Lame Duck, doesn’t that create a Lame Duck Catch 22 because you can’t become a Lame Duck unless you become an elected official and all elected officials become Lame Ducks? Continue reading

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Death in the Morning

Pamplona, Spain. San Fermin. From July 7 -14, every morning at 8:00am, Spain’s national station RTVE, as well as other local ones, televise the encierros or “running of the bulls”. Viewers tune in for one morbid reason: to see if anyone gets killed. Later throughout the day, the coverage is focused on the morning’s statistics as if the numbers injured were part of an encierro scorecard.

Today for the first time in years a runner was killed. Tomorrow morning’s ratings will surely go up, giving RTVE a death to celebrate.

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Filed under Living la vida española

Above the Fray

In today’s Washington Post, the Mexican Army is accused of using “torture to battle drug traffickers.” The Mexican government itself has recognized the abuse, what the Post describes as “forced disappearances, acts of torture and illegal raids in pursuit of drug traffickers . . .” It is telling that the exact same behavior when perpetrated by the U.S. is not described by the Post or our government as a human rights abuse, torture, or in need of investigation.

The so-called liberal NPR has even admitted that when torture is perpetrated by foreign governments it is torture and when the U.S. government engages in the exact same behavior it is a valid information gathering technique. In a recent response to criticism by Glenn Greenwald for NPR’s official refusal to use the word “torture” with respect to American actions, NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard argued that the U.S. tactics are not torture because the tactics are used to “get information” whereas other countries torture because they use these same tactics as punishment.

Though I am not completely clear on how she would apply her “beating it out of him” is legit standard to the common criminals in Abu Ghraib who had nothing to do with the “War on Terror” and had no “beans to spill”. So, how would the NPR Ombudsman apply her standard to the Mexicans who have said that the entire purpose of the tactics was to get information. Would the Mexican activities therefore not amount to torture either?

So while the Mexican National Human Rights Commission is investigating these abuses as torture, our beloved President Obama, with the full support of the American Mullahs, is letting bygones be bygones and claiming all evidence of abuse is a state secret. The mainstream liberal press (the Post and NPR) is fully on board. Need I say more? It’s good to be above the fray.

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Filed under Essays, Obama 44

Tropic of Not Reading

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I am in a bit of a reading funk and have been stuck on Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer for over a month. Part of the problem is that I can only get myself to read the book when I travel. For practically a full month, it has been over 90F (+30C) in Madrid and I don’t have air conditioning. The last thing I need is to have the lights on at night to read, making the whole house even hotter.

The other problem is that, while the story is well written and interesting, once I put it down I am simply not motivated to pick it up again. Sure, part of me must have subconsciously (or consciously) bought the book because of the naked girl on the cover. But what made the story controversial, groundbreaking and exciting a few generations ago, now makes it feel vulgar and misogynistic. It is almost as if we’ve gone full circle: from shocking because it was vulgar to no longer shocking, making it just plain vulgar.

In any event, I think I have gotten to the point of the book where I’ve gotten the point of the book. Also, because the story really has no plot or suspense, I don’t feel compelled to learn how it ends. Add to the fact that I have a very interesting roster of books on deck, and things don’t look so good for the Tropics. Only the summer heat is keeping me from moving on. Well, that and maybe complaining about torture.

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Filed under Digressions, Literature

The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

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I often look at people of all ages and think about who they’ll become or who they were at previous times in their lives. And I think about the different stages and manifestations of beauty throughout the course of their lives. I wonder whether little kids will maintain, grow into or lose their beauty, and whether old age will reveal the beauty in their youth and vice versa. I wonder whether there is an eternal quality to beauty that continues to make us recognizable even when our earliest and most recent portraits bear almost no resemblance to each other.

Last night my wife (I am legally married, but that’s another story) showed me photos that I had never seen before of her as a child. I was left speechless. Of course, I see traces of her present posture, gestures, and features. But most of all, when I look at that little girl in the photographs, I can see clearly everything that is beautiful about the woman that is today my wife.

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Filed under Digressions, Friends / Family

Let the Show Trials Begin

Welcome to the Obama justice system where you can be found “not guilty” and still stay imprisoned for as long as the president wants. Now it’s hard for me to believe that Obama, with all of his legal training, does not understand the inherent dangers and inconsistencies in this position. But, like with the War in Afghanistan, Obama’s policy is completely based on political expediency — to prove he’s a tough guy and appease American blood lust and childish anxieties — and not on the validity of the policy.

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Filed under Essays, Obama 44

Costly Rivalry

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So it might not be the most civil of rivalries, but this sign at today’s Real Madrid/Cristiano Ronaldo presentation in front of some 85,000 people was pretty funny:

Benzema = 35m
Kaka = 65m
C. Ronaldo = 96m
Screwing Laport [president of FC Barcelona], priceless.
For everything else, Florentino [president of Real Madrid] !

Especially considering that Laporta has been complaining to the press about how much Real Madrid has spent, and even the Spanish President, Zapatero, has publicly criticized Florentino, it is all the more priceless. Real Madrid has indeed spent an offensive amount on these new players, and will most likely spend more, but still Zapatero, as an avid and vocal Barcelona supporter, has once again proven himself to be a total buffoon.

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Filed under Football/Soccer, Living la vida española