hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Sasha Said -Sick and Desperate in the USA
One of the things you worry about when you have neither money nor health insurance is what will happen to you in the event you become seriously ill. How are you going to pay for treatment? If you have an acute condition such as appendicitis, you can go to the ER and they have to take care of you. But what if it’s something like cancer or kidney disease? Something that requires prolonged, expensive treatment? All the hospital needs to do is stabilize you. Then you’re on your own. . .

. . .I remember what happened when a friend went to the local ER with heart problems. After determining that he wasn’t having a heart attack right then and there, they told him that they’d have to run a bunch of tests to figure out why he kept having these debilitating heart pains, but they weren’t going to do that unless he had insurance or could pay upfront. . .

In California and everywhere else I’ve ever lived, non-disabled low income adults are not eligible for Medicaid unless they have dependent children living with them. . .Poor parents are covered not because they have inherent value as human beings. . .but because a sick (or dead) parent would have negative repercussions for the innocent child. . .

. . .And yes, for all its considerable flaws, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) does change that by extending Medicaid to ALL individuals with incomes at or below 133% of the Federal Poverty Level. Unfortunately those changes don’t go into effect until 2014 . . .

. . .it’s possible that the free clinic situation is better in urban areas. I honestly don’t know. I was fortunate never to be seriously ill during all the years I lived in major cities. But for people in rural areas (many of whom moved out here to escape the high housing costs in the cities), there’s nothing. . .

. . .And of course my illness has made our financial situation even worse. Paying for a fresh foods diet and supplements for me and Balou (yes, our boy is still with us and continues to be happy and active) has been very difficult. We missed three weeks of work due to my illness and are nearly broke. There’s one client who owes us some money (check supposedly got lost in the mail), but we’re not sure when it will get here.

So I gotta ask for help. I hate having to do this again, but I don’t know how we’re going to get through this month without help from somewhere. My partner has been looking for a job because there currently isn’t enough freelance work for both of us, but he hasn’t had any luck yet. Given that unemployment around here is far higher than the national average, this could take a while.

If you have a little extra to spare, your donation would be extremely welcome. Also, and I realize this is a long shot, if anyone has a high-speed blender (e.g., Vitamix, BlendTec, Omega, L’Equip RPM, or other 1HP+ blender) they’re no longer using and would be willing to donate, I’d be forever grateful. A high-speed blender is a “must” for many recommended recipes in my nutrition plan, but these things are so expensive, I couldn’t justify the cost in our current situation even if we had the money. However, if someone has one that’s just collecting dust, I’ll gladly take it off your hands.

Other kitchen appliances I could really use but can’t afford include a Champion or GreenStar juicer (or other masticating/non-centrifugal juicer) and a food dehydrator with adjustable thermostat/temperature control (e.g., Excalibur, L’Equip, Good4U). Not really expecting anyone to let go of one of these babies, but thought I’d put it out there, just in case.

Anyway, whatever you can do to help, we’d really appreciate it.

Belle Waring (Crooked Timber) - What Sasha Said (2011)

Violet Socks - Spring Bleg
The day after Tax Day is possibly not the best time to pass the hat, but thanks to my health insurance company, I’m facing an unexpected shortfall by the end of this month. (Fun fact: insurance companies can raise your premiums by 20% with no more than a couple of weeks notice before you have to pull the money together to keep from being cancelled!)

So, here goes the hat. As ever, I am enormously grateful for any and all contributions. They’re what enable me to keep going and continue to offer this space as a progressive, radical feminist salon. I used up the last of my savings to pay for my surgery last year (and that was even with the wonderful generosity of contributors here, for which I am eternally grateful), so I’m very much on the edge. If your own situation is also precarious, then of course please ignore this. But if you can spare a few bucks and appreciate the blog, this would be a fantastic time to make a donation.

Violet Socks - In Defense of Hilary Rosen

(Via Amanda Terkel) David Wood (HuffPo) - Beyond The Battlefield (2011)
Beyond the Battlefield is a 10-part series The Huffington Post ran on consecutive weekdays starting Oct. 10, 2011. It is an exploration of the challenges, victories and problems that catastrophically wounded soldiers encounter after returning home from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The series, the result of several months of reporting and scores of interviews by veteran military correspondent David Wood, is a deeply felt and wide-ranging exploration of what it means for a soldier to suffer extraordinary, disabling wounds -- and how their friends, families and hometowns, as well as the military and medical communities, adjust and respond to the struggles these wounded warriors endure.

NPR STAFF - Late Photographer Tim Hetherington Saw The Inner Lives Of Soldiers

I'm grateful to MJ Rosenberg for fighting the good fight for a sane foreign policy, at a moment when, not for the first time, elite, polite, respectable opinion has lost its mind. If we're nitpicking, I think MJ Rosenberg's use of terms like "Israeli-Firsters" & "America-Seconders" is mildly offensive. But this is small potatoes compared with what Rosenberg is fighting, the lunatic scheme to have the state of Israel initiate a war of aggression against the state of Iran.

Another thing that should be said re: Rosenberg, is that the method used to discredit him was BS. For example, should every conservative who denounces "feminism, quotas. . .transforming the church, schools" be tarnished, for using rhetoric similar to Breivik?

VAIJU NARAVANE (Hindu) - Will start all over again: Norway killer

CBS News - Travyon Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton says she thinks his shooting was 'an accident'
. . .When asked what she would say if she could talk to Zimmerman face to face, Fulton said a person should apologize if they are remorseful. . .

Re: work, money & welfare, I do remember one point that Theresa Funiciello made in her book. If a mother leaves an abusive husband, or divorces a husband, she's treated one way by the law, and by society. However, if her husband dies, she's treated in a completely different way by the law, and society. Single mothers are treated not based on their objective circumstances, but based on the socially understood history of their relationship with a now-absent man.

Theresa Funiciello - Tyranny of Kindness: Dismantling the Welfare System to End Poverty in America (1994)
From Library Journal:

Funiciello writes with authority--she has been a welfare mother and has lived the horrors described in her book. . .She combines heart-wrenching anecdotes of suffering poor people with muckraking journalism that details fraud, waste, and abuse in administration. . .Her forceful recommendation to replace the existing system with a guaranteed income program (modeled on Milton Friedman's negative income tax) will generate a firestorm of protest from vested interests. Despite being overlong and poorly focused in places, the writing is snappy and grips the reader from start to finish. Similar to Charles Murray's Losing Ground ( LJ 10/1/84) and Ken Auletta's The Underclass ( LJ 5/1/82) in its disgust with the present welfare system, this author parts company in its prescription of income security. Strongly recommended for all libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/93.
- Grace Franklin, Columbus Metropolitan Lib.

Andrew Sabl - Affordable Care act (2010)

I am 58 years old and without insurance for three years when my cobra coverage ran out. I immediately applied for and was declined coverage by both Blue Cross and Kaiser due to pre-existing conditions. I have been un-insurable since high school but eventually everyone becomes un-insurable.

When I called Senator Boxer's office to find out how to apply for coverage under the guaranteed issue rules just passed I almost broke down and cried when I was told that I had to wait till 2014 to buy insurance. . .

Amanda Terkel (ThinkProgress) - Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe to vote for Senate Finance health bill: ‘When history calls, history calls.' (2009)

STEPHEN NESSEN (NPR) - Mohawk ironworkers

Kent Annan - After Shock: Searching for Honest Faith When Your World Is Shaken (2011)

Blame Canada (* A Project Gutenberg Canada Ebook *): Dorothy L Sayers - THE GREATEST DRAMA EVER STAGED (1938)

Swami Dayananda Saraswati - New Year's Message (2005)

Glenn Greenwald (Salon) - Personalizing civil liberties abuses
. . .One of the sponsors of that University of Chicago event was the school’s Muslim Students Association, and one of the undergraduate student leaders of the Student Forum on Political Thought, the umbrella group that organized the event, is Ali Al-Arian. Ali is the son of Dr. Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian whose ongoing persecution by the U.S. Government is one of the most repellent and unjust of any in the post-9/11 era. I can’t begin to convey all or even most of the extreme injustices that have been imposed on him.

In 2003, while working as an engineering professor at the University of South Florida, he was indicted by the Ashcroft DOJ on multiple counts of “material support for Terrorism.” Al-Arian was an outspoken advocate for Palestinians and a steadfast opponent of the Israeli occupation. The U.S. government had been monitoring all of his telephone communications for more than a full decade, yet obtained no evidence that he was involved in any way in plotting any sort of violence. . .

. . .When his trial finally took place in 2006, the government’s evidence against him consisted almost entirely of his speeches, the list of books he read, the websites he visited, the magazines he edited, the rallies he attended: in sum, the U.S. Government — as it so often does with Muslims — tried to prosecute him as a Terrorist by virtue of his political views and activities. Even with a judge extremely hostile to his defense, the Central Florida jury acquitted him on half of the counts, and deadlocked on the other half (10 out of 12 jurors wanted to acquit him on all charges). This was one of the very, very few times a Muslim in the U.S. has been acquitted when accused of Terrorism. . .

Susie Madrak - Why John Edwards is being prosecuted
. . .Rachel Maddow did an interesting piece Friday night that said something that needs to be said, over and over: John Edwards is being singled out for special treatment in his indictment. And unfortunately, people who might otherwise support him in fighting it have decided for their own reasons that he deserves to be punished because he cheated on his dying wife.

That’s just plain crazy. And it’s no basis for a criminal prosecution, as Maddow pointed out.

Nor is our personal affection for Elizabeth Edwards a good enough reason to look the other way while he’s railroaded. . .

The John Edwards case increases my suspicion of laws that criminalize non-violent activity. Civil penalties may be appropriate, but putting people in jail for non-violent offenses seems to me almost always a bad idea. Unfortunately, prosecutors & legislators seem to have gotten intoxicated and addicted to their power.

Matthew Yglesias (Slate) - Argentina Renationalizes Its Largest Oil Company
. . .Argentina's trajectory over the past couple of years tends to highlight what I think is some of the reasoning behind insistence on policy orthodoxy even in situations where it's counterproductive. The logic is basically that a country that uses currency devaluation and debt repudiation as a policy tool risks falling into a "once you pop, you can't stop" trap. . .

. . .As a counterpoint, I would say the lessons of Argentina aren't that you should stick with orthodoxy even when it's inappropriate. The lesson is that you should do the right thing all the time. It was addiction to hard money orthodoxy that killed Argentina's neoliberal era and now it's addiction to these expedients that will ultimately kill off its populist era. . .

Dean, Mark and the staff of CEPR - Pledge to Help Beat the Press

Kevin Drum (MoJo) - Fear Keeps the Filibuster Alive

I think the best argument for eliminating the filibuster is that it would allow voters to hold politicians accountable. They would no longer be able to plead helplessness, they would have to defend their policies, and the outcomes of those policies.

Hindu (editorial) - New Compact faces old problem (Kashmir)
Four months after a tear-gas shell killed a Srinagar teenager in June 2010 — sparking off street protests and firing by the security forces which were to claim over a hundred young lives — the government appointed a team of interlocutors to “suggest a way forward that truly reflects the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.” Last week, The Hindu published excerpts from Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M.M. Ansari's report, one that, in the six months since it was submitted, the Cabinet is yet to find time to discuss, let alone open up to serious political debate. . .

. . .There is no reason, though, to defer discussion on troop cuts, regional dialogue or constitutional change. The report's proposals may or may not address the issues that are driving political alienation in Jammu and Kashmir today. Not debating them, though, is certain to breed resentment and deepen scepticism about India's intentions. New Delhi, not for the first time, has responded to challenges by choosing to do nothing — a response that is outright dangerous.

I wonder what Stephen P. Cohen and the Brookings team think of the current situation in Kashmir?

Hindu (editorial) - Don't miss this opportunity (Free Khalil Chisty)

SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN (Hindu) - The only package Kashmir needs is justice (2010)


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala - “WE HAVE MADE HISTORY”

Art of the Title - The Impostors (1998)

next post: 6/8/2012

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