Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Audacity of Health

We have a lot of nerve, us progressives, to ask that our law makers intervene to make health insurers play fair and keep up their end of the deal when we (or someone we love) gets ill, wounded, hurt. Especially after we have paid premiums out the wazoo... I believe that is the lay-term for forced-rectal-intrusion-with-a-phallic-ish-object (sans lube).

The monopoly health insurance companies have on health is sickening. Literally.

As I understand it, from a fifth grade comprehension level, we have law makers who make laws (not business deals) to step-in on our behalf and regulate unfair business practices.

What part of the word "option" don't people understand?

I suppose if you aren't about choice, you really aren't about choice. How's that for *self* determination?


Monday, September 28, 2009

Get. The. Eff. Over. It.

Barack Obama is our president. Duly elected, stamped, sealed, and certified by our national congress and Supreme Court.

This fact seems lost on some people who want to get him out of office, regardless of legitimacy or reason. And by whatever means available.... including, apparently, murder.

Someone posted a poll on facebook asking "should Obama be killed?" (It has since been yanked but not before someone was able to take a screen shot of it.)

If you think it's a joke, you are seriously fucked up.

I'm not laughing and I don't think any conscious, educated, decent American (or human being for that matter) would be laughing about it either. And stop before you try the tu quoque argument... i.e., people did it against Bush therefore it's fine. Say it with me folks: "Logical fallacy."

According to Crooks and Liars, the rate of threats against the president was up 400% from the same time period in August 2008. For the full text click here.

Get. the. fuck. over. it.


Friday, September 25, 2009

The Conservamedia a Biased Group of Hypocritical Liars? NO. WAY!

As only Rachel Maddow could play it, the conservative media has once again been caught with its pajama pants around its ankles... someone, please get them a bedpan so they stop crapping all over our national discourse:

Also, check out the link to the study Rachel discusses with Professor Dreier.


Generational Shift

One of the most interesting things about one of my classes: My 18 year-olds are interested in so-called "liberal" agendas.

Yes, you read that right.

Eighteen year old college freshman have been suggesting writing projects that deal with poverty, health care, homelessness, education, ending war, educating people on climate change, gay marriage, etc. One student from a *very* conservative, rural area in my state is actually *reading* health care legislation... for himself. No spin. And weekly is talking to me about the disconnect he sees between the media coverage of this process and the documents he is reading. Nothing says critical thinking like self-education...

One of the things on which I pride myself most as a teacher is that my classes are about the students. I don't direct their thinking since I teach rhetoric and argument (and for all the whackadoos who have no idea that rhetoric, in a classical sense, is not empty mind control paired with bad manners: go read some Aristotle and then come talk to me about something in which I hold a Ph.D.).

We have had non-partisan class discussions on abortion and separation of church and state (these are *their* topics, not mine) and talk about these issues from a rhetorical perspective, without using pathos or theology as bases for argument.

I have had three students in the class who have told me that teachers in the past always gave them poor marks for their beliefs.

I tell them: "This isn't church. I teach students. Not faith."

I promised them pumpkin bars on the first chilly fall day. I have had one absence in five weeks; I teach at 3:30 and on Fridays when all of the fraternities and sororities are having cookouts, playing frisbee, and gearing up for tail-gating, my students are in my class. They deserve to be appreciated for all of their open-mindedness and respect they have shown each other... the Joe Wilsons and Glenn Becks and Rush Limpballs of the world could learn a thing or two from these amazing young people. They care about each other despite their differences. They care about making a difference... even tho' the naysayers call them apathetic and self-centered.

Boy, those folks couldn't be more wrong.

I get paid to watch these young people start to learn to think for themselves. Paid! Even better, I get to read their thoughts on paper, talk to them, and see how they see the world through unjaded eyes. They are so hopeful, so determined, so staid in their trust that things will work out. More importantly, they have shown me that they know *they* have something to do with it. It's not some external problem, in some BFE place, for some abstract group of strangers. The world is our world to them. It belongs to us all.

Indeed it does. Indeed it does.

Happy Friday everyone.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Hypocrites on Parade

For decades since the passage of Roe V. Wade, the conservative right in this country has been *all about* government telling women what they can and cannot do about the health and state of our own bodies. Some of these same loonies who are soooo pro-life even assassinate doctors at church to prove exactly how pious and life-y they are. Because as we all know, nothing says pro-life like first degree murder.

Fertility control is not covered by most insurance plans. It's not birth control if you have no egg to begin with: see this link to educate yourself on The Pill. (No ovulation, no egg.) Birth control is a Cesarean Section, Lamaze, huffing and puffing, pushing/not pushing when your ObGyn tells you, an epidural. Ask a mom. Yours if you have one. Or yourself, if you are one.

You want government to stay out of healthcare? Quit trying to put the government between me and my right to inhabit *my* body the way *I* choose and go eff yourself, you motherhumping hypocrites.

Thank whoever it is Friday.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An Open Invitiation To All Illiterati

Are you a proponent of critical-thinking yet inform yourself by consuming edukashun at the trough of the Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity/Redstate/Freeper Idiocracy? Please read on to see how one teeny group of the "educated elite" in this country are meeting to have [gasp] a conversation about communism in an academic context with other academics (not students, so you may not shout "programming!"). Because when people in academia have questions about something, just like normal people they ask it instead of shouting "Liar!" And when they need an answer they discover it for themselves... you know, by studying and reading and shit. Just like normal people.

Any trolls who want to go toe-to-toe with me on Hegel, Lacan or Žižek, read this post, its links and cited texts and bring it.

I just checked my university email account, and the following mass list-serv [sic] invitation was awaiting:


"There will be a meeting of the Marxist/Post-Marxist reading group on Wednesday, September 30 at 5:30pm. For the next couple of sessions we will be looking at the themes of alienation and commodities.

On the 30th, we'll be reading the first of the 1844 Manuscripts, excluding the section on rent. This can be found at

In order to set the groundwork for the following session, we will also discuss, somewhat separately from the issues in the Manuscript, Brian Donahue's essay 'Marxism, Postmodernism, Žižek.' This is available through Project Muse and in the journal Postmodern Culture.

Sometime in October, we'll discuss the first chapter of Capital in which Marx introduces commodities and commodity fetishism.

Either at this session or the next, we'll move on to cover Slavoj Žižek's Introduction and first chapter of the Sublime Object of Ideology, which uses a Lacanian framework to explicate some of Marx's ideas about commodification and alienation.

If you're not familiar with us, we are interested in exploring the possibilities and limitations of Marxist thought by examining different thinkers who are identified as either Marxist or post-Marxist. The goals of this reading group would be to question, discuss, and understand these possibilities and limitations throughout different fields. We are interested in how different thinkers have attempted to pose alternative models to key Marxist concepts. We welcome all perspectives and disciplinary orientations on these ideas."


This group espouses *no* ideology, only the *study* of Marxian paradigms. This is how it goes in academia. We have a civilized conversation on texts *everyone* has read first hand and on which not everyone agrees. Also, it is to start a conversation that has relevance to today's world... notions of production, manufacturing, jobs, workers, etc. Not to *worship* Marx, but to have a dialogue on what's right and wrong with his philosophies and other philosophers who either agree or disagree with him and to understand how his philosophies developed as a result of his own studies.

The following, written about Žižek, summarizes the thrust of his current scholarship: "Žižek has determined that late-modern capitalism has engendered a whole range of alternative seductions to keep the eye and brain off of the Real. The Real only exists as a fragment, fast receding on the horizon as fantasy and often phantasm intercede. These dreams and nightmares are systemic, structural neuroses, and they are part of the coordinates of the hegemonic." Žižek also critiques the capitalist notion of borrowing from the future to pay for the present (very watered down). Hmmm... a "lefty" who sounds just like the Teabaggers in this country?

This is a prime example of what the recently well-publicized mass of illiterati in this country are guilty. They have *no* idea what they are talking about when they blithely use terms like socialist and communist.

Now if only the rest of the country could follow suit on day-to-day common issues in general... Oh, yeah. That's right. Some people tried to have a civilized conversation at town hall meetings in August and to be part of the audience as the President addressed a joint session of Congress last week...


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Primum Non Nocere

"First, do no harm."

A professor of mine once said this in our empirical studies class. Since my dissertation involved human subjects, I took this ancient advice strongly to heart.

Many medical students take a more modernized version of the Hippocratic Oath upon their graduation from medical school (and yes, to all the smarty-pants out there-- I know the title of this post is not part of any version of the oath).

Most medical doctors are doctors because:
A) They are smart enough to handle the rigorous curricula of medical school.
B) They are disciplined enough to sacrifice many things to attain a goal few can.
C) They want to help people.

Cynics may say I am wrong. That doctors are in it for the money. Sure. Why not get paid well to do something that you are well-equipped to do? After all, I think perhaps we might agree that people's lives and health are rather important in the grander scheme of things.

Give a wealthy person the choice between saving her/his own life and saving her/his fortune and I think we can guess which one she/he might choose.

The members of our Congress take an oath, too.

The history of that oath is a compelling one. I highly recommend researching it for yourself.

In my *opinion* the latest version it is too watered down... members of Congress avow to protect the Constitution but not the American people.

In 1862, fearful of traitors on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, congressional members were asked to swear that they had not personally engaged in illegal or disloyal conduct. Perjury was punished and the member forever stripped of access to federal employment--- we'd lose practically our entire Congress if this were part of the oath today.

The lack of "spection" whether intro or outre, is crippling our country as much as our wars, our health care system, and our economy. I hope that soon we may all take a good look at what is inside us, why we look at the world the way we do, and how we can come together to make life better for everyone instead of focusing on hate, vitriol, spite and anger. It's all about perspective.

The "I'm right and you're wrong" mentality has gotten us nowhere. And for a nation that seems to have been wandering off course for a while now, it's time for us to get our bearings again.

"That which is to give light must endure burning" Victor Frankl

Light up the darkness...

Happy Tuesday, all.

PS: It's truly sad when Tea Partiers have to lie about the size of protests to bolster support. Seems as tho' the GOP is quickly becoming the Grand Old Prevaricators. Members are starting to look like Gullible Odd People.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Live from Jupiter, It's Tea Party LIVE!!!!!

No words.

Not one.

I lost count of the number of armed officers that had to protect this American from his fellow Americans...


Friday, September 11, 2009

Unfair and Imbalanced: Unconventional Media

At the end of his appearance on Hannity last PM, Joe Wilson was told by the Hannity himself that he has a "link on his blog for those that want to support [Wilson] on" The link is in the four-option flash box on the left side of the main body, first choice, caption "Support Joe Wilson". Anyone who wants to complain that the so-called MSM personalities do the same, my response is... the subtitle of *ties* it to the network with "The Sean Hannity Show". I've never seen any *program blogs* from CNN or MSNBC that do the same type of promotion for a candidate (unless it was PAID advertisement space).

I think the Unconventional-Media (UM) is in the bag for the conservatives (um... duh, I know).

In case you want to watch the strange, other-worldly, wildly entertaining video of the interview, here it is:

Off to apologize to my laptop again... sorry little laptop. Don't hate me.

Happy Friday all.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

No, YOU Lie.

Nothing says fund-raising for a political opponent like incorrectly yelling, "You lie" at the POTUS in front of millions of Americans and the entire Congress.

Section 242 of HR 3200 specifically states that in order for an individual to receive coverage: "For purposes of this division, the term 'affordable credit eligible individual' means, subject to subsection (b), an individual who is lawfully present in a State in the United States [...]" (Some people forget that the PDF is online and word-searchable).


SEC. 246. NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS (all caps in the original). Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

Joe Wilson has started a bit of a battle for his seat in 2010 with those two little words. His opponent, Rob Miller, has raised (at the time of this post) over $188,000 dollars since last PM. Check it out. (Update: as of 5PM EST, the donations top $450,000.)

President Obama must be doing a lot of things right to get such a strong (if not irrational) reaction from some people.

One last thing: an argument I keep hearing against this reform is that small businesses will have to pay an 8% penalty if they do not provide coverage for their employees.

Two problems with that:
A) That helps small businesses who have seen their premiums increase by 129% in the last eight years.
B) Don't we want to help small businesses with costs? Click here for a report straight from the House Ways and Means Committee on the benefits of reform to small businesses.

It's time to act. In the face of all of the evidence, at this point anyone who is against this reform is seriously underinformed, misinformed or illiterate. Read the bill. I think my August post was strangely prescient of Wilson's outburst last PM...

PS: What with all this bipartisanship nonsense? The citizenry sent a very clear message in this *Democracy*. (Princeton defines Democracy as "majority rule".) The majority of Americans voted for the Democrats... that's the team we want... not a mix of those who were in the minority. If we want bi-partisanship, we should do away with the system of representation in this country. Those who lost lost for a reason...


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pat Buchanan Can Suck It

Last night Buchanan was yammering on about the "Death Panels" that (will, in some as yet hypothetical future) convene when terminal patients are given "options." Every option *except* refusal of treatment, which he neglected to add.

I have lost many dear friends to cancer. The hardest was my friend Anne; she was 40 when she died in 1998 after her *third* bout with breast cancer. She knew the news was bad at the appointment when she received her third diagnosis and the doctor (who happened to be my oncologist also) recommended experimental treatments. She had had chemo, radiation, a stem-cell transplant (the first in Indiana) and numerous surgeries. The doctor recommended teflon injections. You know, the non-stick surface in cooking pans?

She told me in our frequent conversations about the terminal state of her illness: "I want to die and my doctor won't let me."

She spent the last four months on Earth falling down stairs, in agonizing pain from the cancer which had spread to every bone in her body, not eating, vomiting at all hours of the day, not sleeping (despite the pharmaceutical soup she was served three times daily), and just generally too aware of what was happening to her.

Those fuckers kept her alive because her health insurance would pay them to. She had a cadillac plan, but she was ready for the end. The end of seeing her husband, family, and friends suffer because she was *so* sick; the end of the unbearable pain; the end of feeling dizzy and scared but acutely aware of her suffering no matter how much morphine they gave her.

She wanted to die.

The last time I talked to her was two weeks before she passed.

The final thing she said as we hung up the phone was: "I don't understand why God won't let me die."

That was Anne. A deeply devout woman who lived a short, loved-filled life and was made to suffer unimaginable cruelty at the hands of people who were trying to *save* her.

What part of terminal didn't the doctor understand?

Right now, a very dear friend of my mom's is losing his battle with liver cancer. He was hospitalized over the weekend and wants to go home to die. He wants to take a jacuzzi, feed the birds, tend to his garden, have one last fire in the hearth that forms the center of his home.

His doctors won't let him leave. They'd rather let him die in a hospital bed surrounded by machines and caregivers who are strangers.

Indeed, there are death panels... doctors who collect from insurance companies on terminally ill patients... suck the well dry. But the patient? There is no end for them until they have been bled dry and can no longer recognize family and friends.

We are fortunate to have the option to end the suffering of our pets... why can't we let those who are terminally ill end the suffering of themselves and those they love?

There are death panels... but they are not the same for everyone. They aren't government bureaucrats with a checklist of costs. They are doctors and hospital administrators who check your insurance and if you are fortunate enough to have good coverage, they will give you the longest death you can afford... and charge your family and dear friends for a ring-side seat to watch.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Are You a Better Listener than a Fifth Grader?

Thanks to Seeing Eye Chick over at Apocalyptics Anonymous II for posting this (and sending me an email about it, too).

The video speaks for itself. Love the "whelp" and "woof" reference...


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fixed News

Apparently, we are going to witness a repeat of Fox Network's "Fair and Balanced" reporting with another refusal to cover the President's address to a joint session of Congress next week. Has any one network picked such a bone with a president before?

Their "commentators" air lies and vitriol against the president (see any of Glenn Beck, Hannity, or O'Reilly), but will not air the other side of the argument... coming from the President's own mouth (and yes, I know that Fox "News" is going to air the speech).

Health care reform + President Obama + speech to elected national officials= Less important than So You Think You Can Dance? and some new show titled Glee.

In the meantime, we are off to attend a benefit BBQ/concert for Ronald McDonald House at my brother's home in St. Louis. Good blues, good food, good time, good cause.

Happy Labor Day weekend, all.

Be safe. Have Fun. And hug a Republican. They need it.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Background Checking the President for a School Visit

The Right in this country has sunk to a low I could never imagine.

There are calls from parents and concerned citizens demanding that the President "let the school know" what he plans say to children in Virginia when he visits a school there next Tuesday.

Here's what is going to happen according to

So... he's basically going to tell kids to stay in school and be responsible for their own learning.

Now isn't that a shitty message to send our young people? Stay in school.

I wonder what Bush 43's people told the folks at Emma E. Booker Elementary School the days leading up to this school visit:

Here's Fox "News'" take on the more recent matter.



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