Monthly Archives: September 2009

Designing a camel. Pretending it's a horse

Is it horse?I doubt she’d testify, even if called, but as god is my witness, health care “reform” is looking more like a horse show with only camels as contestants. Senator Max DeBaucle (D, MT), on the senate compromise “horse,” walked the course and knockdown the top rails. His creature has so many humps, it’s doubtful it can be even saddled.

After months of Senate Finance Committee negotiation with Republicans, they have finally come to an agreement (click here to read the Baucus/Finance Committee plan): Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office stated, “The only thing bipartisan is the opposition.” Former DNC chair, Howard Dean, called it “the worst piece of health care legislation I’ve seen in 30 years.”

While the Baucus/Finance Committee entry meets some of the requirements and the cost is lower than its Democrat rivals, there’s no public option (sets up non-profit coops in every state – yeah, sure) and it is unaffordable for many those who don’t have insurance. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the bill also would, “give employers incentives to avoid hiring low-income parents and could lead to increase in child poverty, and would place burdens on employers.” Most observers believe President Obama would support it (or any bill, just something to sign and move on).

Health Care Bill Comparison Chart

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

 

There’s a reason this debate is so complicated: we (our governments) made it so. The rules for the thousands of health related programs have evolved over a half century and seldom reviewed. We provide more than $250 billion each year in federal health care subsidies for employed workers (yes, the biggest subsidy goes to employed workers through business tax deductions) to own insurance with the vast majority of it going to the richest 10%. We subsidize seniors through Medicare by paying almost double what is paid in. We subsidize private insurance companies through Medicare Advantage plans to a tune of $180 billion. We subsidize the poor through Medicaid at a cost of $200 billion or so and the states match it. We subsidize veteran health care with $40 billion or so. Low income children with about $33 billion, plus some state matching. We subsidize the uninsured at a cost of $30 billion or so, plus some state matching. We subsidize health care of the unemployed for about $100 billion. We subsidize the health costs of employees of US government, plus states have their own. And we subsidized much of the middle class through bankruptcy.

We subsidize research. We subsidize prescriptions. We subsidize equipment. We subsidize distribution. We subsidize health care education. We subsidize construction of medical buildings. We subsidize and regulate that subsidy at every level of the system, and at every level of the system, there is a special interest group with a lobbyist.

Yet, we have a private system. Most of us have coverage we pay for through our employers or directly with insurance companies. The private for-profit health insurance companies (in most states one or two companies control 70% or more of the policies) are regulated by each state and each with different rules. The laws on privacy means we don’t know what or who works and what or who doesn’t and the industry prefers it that way. The methods of reimbursements are so onerously complicated and antiquated, it is an industry in itself. As are the methods to investigate those who try and game the system.

The system is so broken we will never fix it using legislative triage. It is too big to fail and way too big to fix or dismantle in an election cycle.  When someone offers you a simple solution, don’t believe it. The best we can hope for is another bastard camel to win.

Suggested Reading:

Brave New Films

Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films are at the forefront of the fight to create a just America. Using new media and internet video campaigns, Brave New Films has created a quick-strike capability that informs the public, challenges corporate media with the truth, and motivates people to take action on social issues nationwide.

From Real McCain exposés to calling out FOX News for overt media bias, from social to economic justice, their groundbreaking online campaigns are revolutionizing traditional grassroots politics. Using YouTube, bloggers, networking sites, and strategic partnerships with both national networks and local activists, we are reaching millions and getting results.

From the full list on youtube, here are some examples:


The Health Insurance Racket


Rethink Afghanistan: Join the Movement to Stop this War


Equality for All Americans


Senator Sanders Unfiltered: Ripping Off America


How Dr. King and Rosa Parks Inspired Folk Legend Pete Seeger


Former Interrogator Rebukes Cheney for Torture Speech


Afghan Refugee Describes Horror of US Bombings


Brave Afghan Vet Demands Answers from Congress

 

Editorial Note: This is part of an on-going series of videos shared by LikeTheDew.com readers. If you would like to share a video, send links to: [email protected].

Even crime is down

crime_scene_mgmt1_2405-1Competing for attention with the hot videos, box office and iPhone app downloads, the latest crime stats are out. The FBI has just released the preliminary report of the latest numbers of crimes — break-ins, robberies, rape, murders, arsons, that sort of thing. If you have sophisticated data crunching skills and way too much time on your hands, here’s the full report (note: They offer breakdowns for crime where you live, just keep clicking the links).

Finally, something that is going down is good news: for the second year in row, crime has declined. According to the report, “Nationwide, violent crime fell 3.5 percent and property crime 2.5 percent during the first six months of the year…”

So, why? Some rational thinkers among us expected the stats to rise based on the economy (the greatest depression since the great depression except we have Prozac and a $9 trillion bailout).

Is it possible that the economy is so bad people can’t afford to drink as much and do really stupid things? Yes. Is it possible the findings are based on what is reported and with nationwide cutbacks there are fewer statisticians in the police ranks reporting? Sure. Is it possible everyone has an iPod and they are no longer worth stealing? Yes. Is it possible preliminary numbers are spun by political functionaries, like we do with employment numbers and they will be adjusted after the news cycle? Seems so. Is it possible things are so bad there are fewer things to steal? Nah. Is it possible there is just no good market for stolen goods? Yes. Is it possible all the people seeking free room, board and medical care are already in prison? Not likely. Is it possible we had fewer police on the streets who arrested a few percent less people? Could be on to something. Could it be we were so involved in hope, Palin’s wardrobe and the Bush-Cheney train finally leaving, that we forgot to rob, rape, murder and pillage? Maybe.

Oh, I know. Teacher, teacher, teacher, call on me. Wall Street ate all the money.

Please comment and weigh in.

War Made Easy

War Made EasyWar Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death is a documentary that reaches into the Orwellian memory hole to expose a 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq. Narrated by actor and activist Sean Penn, the film exhumes remarkable archival footage of official distortion and exaggeration from LBJ to George W. Bush, revealing in stunning detail how the American news media have uncritically disseminated the pro-war messages of successive presidential administrations.

War Made Easy gives special attention to parallels between the Vietnam war and the war in Iraq. Guided by media critic Norman Solomon’s meticulous research and tough-minded analysis, the film presents disturbing examples of propaganda and media complicity from the present alongside rare footage of political leaders and leading journalists from the past, including Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, dissident Senator Wayne Morse, and news correspondents Walter Cronkite and Morley Safer.

Norman Solomon’s work has been praised by the Los Angeles Times as “brutally persuasive” and essential “for those who would like greater context with their bitter morning coffee.” This film now offers a chance to see that context on the screen.

Approx. 72 minutes – the complete documentary can be viewed in the eight segments below. To purchase a DVD, click here. A full transcript is available for download by clicking here.


Trailer



One



Two



Three



Four



Five



Six



Seven



Eight (last)



Author Interview

 

Directed & Written by: Loretta Alper & Jeremy Earp
Produced by: Loretta Alper
Co-produced & Edited by: Andrew Killoy
Executive Producers: Jeremy Earp & Sut Jhally
Associate Producer: Jason Young
Sound: Peter Acker, Armadillo Media Group
Motion Graphics: Andrew Killoy & Sweet & Fizzy
Additional Music: John Van Eps & Leigh Philips
Narrated by: Sean Penn
Based on the book by Norman Solomon

Editorial Note: This is part of an on-going series of videos shared by LikeTheDew.com readers. If you would like to share a video, send links to: [email protected].

What's so great about being stupid?

The President of the United States of AmericaRemembering George H.W. Bush’s live speech on education to students in 1991, in which he asked a question still unanswered, “What’s so great about being stupid?”, school districts in Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota, are scrambling to protect our nation’s future. Fearing the children will learn Obama is: president, black, smart, reasonable and does not currently have horns or a tail; many districts have decided not to air the program. Others will require that parents sign permission slips before allowing the children to view the controversial program about the need to work hard and stay in school.

Following in the footsteps of Reagan and Bush One, Obama plans to speak directly to students. His address will be shown live on C-SPAN at noon EDT Tuesday and could have been seen by students unedited, uncensored and without benefit of Fox news providing speculation of what the President really was saying. Having grown tired of attending town hall meetings, totally bat-shit crazy parents all over the country are now demanding their school officials protect their innocent children from hearing such outlandish and unproven ideas involving hard work, goal setting and taking their school year seriously.

In Florida, GOP chairman Jim Greer released a statement that he was “absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology.”

“As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education–it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality,” said Oklahoma state Sen. Steve Russell. “This is something you’d expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.”

Arizona state schools superintendent Tom Horne, a Republican, said lesson plans for teachers created by Obama’s Education Department “call for a worshipful rather than critical approach.”

Seminole County parent Steffani Martino, whose daughter is a student at Lyman High in Longwood, FL, said she might have her teenager skip school Tuesday. “I don’t side with anything Obama agrees with,” Martino said.

One program note: The White House plans to release the speech several hours beforehand, online, so parents can read it.


Photo Credit: Carrie Devorah / WENN.com

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Creative Visions Foundation

Creative Visions FoundationCreative Visions Foundation (CVF) supports “Creative Activists” who use the power of media and the arts to create positive change in the world through fiscal sponsorship, mentorship and outreach programs.

CVF has three main programs: EDUCATION, PRODUCTION, SPONSORSHIP

EDUCATION: Through its educational outreach program CVF uses media and the arts to INFORM aspiring creative activists about how they can initiate and implement ideas that can positively impact their homes, schools, communities and the world. The program includes:

  • CVF is launching a creative activist website that will include “creative activist toolkits” to help anyone become a change-maker in his or her own community
  • CVF produces conferences, seminars & interactive media that feature the work of creative activists
  • CVF provides curricula and outreach programs to support documentaries, exhibits and other creative activist projects
  • CVF is supported by an international network of thought leaders, journalists, artists, and other creative activists
  • CVF supports daneldon.org, an inspiring website that features the life and legacy of Dan, and creativevisions.org, a vital network for creative activists and their projects
  • CVF links its outreach program to its high-profile network films, television series and specials

PRODUCTION: In association with our for-profit organization, Creative Visions Productions, CVF produces television series, specials and feature films to INSPIRE creative activists. CVP has produced a number of award-winning productions.

  • Dying to Tell the Story, Emmy-nominated TBS Special about journalists at risk
  • Soldiers of Peace, CNN documentary about the Children’s Peace Movement in Colombia
  • Global Tribe, a cutting-edge PBS series about grassroots social entrepreneurs
  • A series of interstitials profiling remarkable women for Lifetime
  • Five Days to Change the World, VH-1 series co-produced with the United Nations, featuring young celebrities
  • Moms on a Mission, a two-hour special hosted by Julia Roberts for the new Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)
  • Journey, a major feature film about Dan Eldon, co-produced with Julia Robert’s company, Red Om
  • Prized Women, a documentary about the seven living Nobel Women’s Peace Laureates, produced in association with the Nobel Women’s Initiative

SPONSORSHIP: CVF provides fiscal sponsorship, mentoring and grants to EMPOWER grassroots creative activists with innovative projects and productions that can positively impact our world.

  • CVF has helped more than 45 innovative projects and productions on four continents including award winning documentaries:
  • Genghis Blues, Oscar-nominated documentary
  • Born into Brothels, Oscar-winning documentary
  • Abduction, the Megumi Wakota Story, 2006 Sundance Audience Favorite documentary
  • Invisible Children, acclaimed documentary on Ugandan “night commuters”
  • Beyond our Differences, multi-award winning documentary on religious thought

Other projects originally launched through CVF:

  • Video Volunteers, organization that empowers under-served populations in India to tell their stories through video.
  • The Name Campaign, awareness building campaign about the plight of former child soldiers in Uganda that raised funds to rehabilitate 1000 children
  • One Global Tribe, offshoot of PBS series Global Tribe (produced by CVP) to teach students about global issues
  • CVF also sponsors art and photography exhibitions including JOURNEY: Images of War, Celebrations of Peace, an inspiring collection of Dan’s collages, artifacts and photographs that has traveled to six countries.

Here are some examples.


Creative Activists



Spare Some Change



Global Tribe



Dan Eldon’s Images of War/Celebrations of Peace



Shooting Beauty



The Greyhound Diaries



Culture Collective



Oprah

 

 

Editorial Note: This is part of an on-going series of videos shared by LikeTheDew.com readers. If you would like to share a video, send links to: [email protected].