Juan Williams Fired From NPR

I found it interesting that NPR felt the need to fire Juan Williams the other day for his comments on Faux News about being nervous when flying with devout Muslims. Wasn’t Williams simply expressing the feeling many xenophobes have been expressing for years? But what I find even more interesting is how many Conservatives are going ballistic over the firing with many even calling for the boycott of NPR.

Of course the interesting part isn’t the Conservative’s call for a boycott as one would have expected that, it is that they would think that folks at NPR would be worried about losing people that never listen to NPR to begin with…

UPDATE: Love it! NPR reps in Washington are reportedly getting numerous scripted calls stating that due to the Williams firing, they will never “watch” NPR again.

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Open Records Taken Too Far?

I will be the first one to agree that government employees must give up some of their privacy when they agree to be paid with taxpayer money, but how much loss of privacy is too much? The reason I ask is because of a story about a now former cop in my old home town that appeared in the local paper last week that documented line by line why the 18 year vet was fired including his trip to alcohol rehab.

To be fair I must state that I personally know the individual in question having gone to school with one of his sisters but how much personal information is too much? Does John Q Public need to know dates and times that a patrolman on the local police force was absent? Is it any of our business that the officer has been treated for any illness or addiction? The officer broke no laws and was fired for attendance issues. Should anything more than that be public information?

On one end you have South Dakota where you just about need to sign away your first born to get any information about what goes on in state and local government and apparently in Ohio everything seems to be fair game no matter what is does to the individual involved. Somewhere in between is where it should be.

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Just Wondering

So why are issues that were supposedly just peachy with Conservatives just a short nine months ago like non-Senate confirmed advisors (Czars) and government run healthcare (similar to Medicare) suddenly no longer Constitutional? I mean if you have no problem with our government torturing prisoners and performing wiretaps without warrants on US citizens on US soil, what could you possibly have against these issues?

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Senility, Stupidity, Or Just Covering Your Butt?

Oh how John McCain has fallen. He was the man I once thought was the future of the GOP who at one point had the earned reputation as a true maverick, a real moderate Republican that seemed destined to live in the White House. Then came his sucking up to Jerry Falwell and the religious right followed by his selection of the empty headed Sarah Palin as his VP, and now he continues his downward slide by pushing Palin’s “death panel” agenda.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  The president also says that the debate has been infected by falsehoods.  And probably the most notorious one is the one made by your former running mate, Sarah Palin, who said that his bill would encourage death panels that would encourage euthanasia.  He called that an extraordinary lie and he is right about that, isn’t he?

MCCAIN:  Well, I think that what we are talking about here is do – are we going to have groups that actually advise people as these decisions are made later in life and …

STEPHANOPOULOS:  That’s not in the bill.

MCCAIN:  But – it’s been taken out, but the way that it was written made it a little bit ambiguous.  And another thing …

STEPHANOPOULOS:  I don’t think that’s correct, Senator.  The bill, all it said was that, if a patient wanted to have a Medicare consultation about end-of-life issues, they could have it at their request and the doctor would get reimbursed for it, no panel …

MCCAIN:  There was a provision in the bill that talks about a board that would decide the most effective measures to provide health care for people, OK?  Now, we had amendments, we republican have said that in no way would that affect the decisions that the patients would make and their families.  That was rejected by the Democrats and the health committee.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  But that’s not a death panel.

MCCAIN:  So what does – what does that lead to?  Doesn’t that lead to a possibility, at least opens the door to a possibility of rationing and decisions made such are made in other countries?

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Well, every single independent group that looked at it said it just wasn’t true.

MCCAIN:  Well, then why did the Democrats turn down our amendments that clarified that none of the decisions that would be made by this board would in any way affect depriving of needed treatments for patients?  I don’t know why they did that then.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  So you think Sarah Palin was right?

MCCAIN:  Look, I don’t think they were called death panels, don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think – but on the best treatment procedures part of the bill, it does open it up to decisions being made as far – that should be left – those choices left to the patient and the individual.  That’s what I think is pretty clear, which was a different section of the bill.

John, we can only hope that you are regretting your choice of Palin as your running mate at least in private but that doesn’t mean that you have to further erode what is left of your credibility by continuing to defend her in public does it? Or do you really believe the snow job that Palin and the wacky right is trying to pass off as fact in order to undermine health care reform?

I do guess though that if you actually do believe that the Democrats want death panels, it is probably a good thing that you did pick Palin as your running mate. Picking someone with any political chops (or any intelligence at all) might have actually led to you winning the election…

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Healthcare Debate?

I am currently on the 3rd day of a 4 day trip to western South Dakota in between the minutia otherwise known as my paying job and a couple of thoughts on the so called debate on healthcare have come to mind while reading through my RSS feeds.

I have no idea on how the final version of the healthcare reform bill will look nor am I ready to say I am for the current legislation (it is over 1000 pages long afterall). What I can say at this point is that I have no doubt that there are some real serious issues that need to be discussed and worked out by both sides (Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin where are you?).

With that in mind I can also say that:

– If your reasoning for being against it revolves around something Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, WorldNetDaily, or Chuck Norris (come on you must be kidding, Chuck Norris?) is preaching, please go back to looking for Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate.

– If your doubts on the health care reform legislation has something to do with anything Sarah Palin has to say on her facebook page, i.e. “death squads”, maybe you should start listening to what Rush/Hannity/Beck have to say as it would be a step in the right direction.

Finally read the bill (pdf alert) or at least the sections that you think you have issues with, turn off the conspiracy theory mindset, and read. Once you are open to at least understanding what is really in the bill maybe you will then be able to see the ridiculousness of statements like this by someone who is so blinded by their disdain for government involvement that they can’t see the irony:

It involves the government telling free Americans how to live their lives, how to spend their money (as it takes their money to pay for this abomination), dictates what doctors they can see and what health care procedures they can have.

Hint: Substitute “insurance company” with “government” and read it again.

Issues as important as fixing our broken healthcare system need to be discussed and debated openly and honestly. It should  not be rushed through in a couple of months as the Obama administration had pushed for or thrown away completely because of misinformation brought forward by those whose motives are at best suspect.

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Irony When Atheists And Creationists Meet

By most accounts that I can find, the tour of Ken Ham’s creation museum yesterday by a group of Atheists went off without any serious problems. The only issue I have seen involved a student, Derek Rodgers, who was told to turn his t-shirt inside out or leave because it had “there’s probably no God, so get over it.” written on it.

That phrase is not what one would consider hate speech or particularly offensive I would think but reading a story on the event from ABC News, a couple visiting the museum apparently told Mr Rodgers something different about his t-shirt.

“One family of religious people told me that I had ruined their trip, and they drove all the way from Virginia,” said Rogers.

So they were offended by that were they? I wonder how they would feel if they were made to pledge allegiance to a god they didn’t believe in, or maybe swear an oath to said god when in court? How about seeing faux stone tablets with a moral code attributed to some make believe god placed in government buildings all through town and praises to an invisible deity plastered all over their currency?

Somehow I think a t-shirt with “there’s probably no God, so get over it.” is quite tame in comparison and think that maybe they should really get over it.

UPDATE: I’ve been told in the comments section that Derek Rodger’s t-shirt actually read “There’s probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy your life” which is as equally unoffensive if not even less controversial than the slogan reported by ABC.

Either way here is Derek Rodgers explaining the incident.

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Part Of The Problem Or Part Of The Solution?

All I have been hearing from Republicans (and certain Blue Dog Democrats) from the beginning of the health care debate is cries of socialism, whining over the perceived loss of health care choices that will supposedly occur (what choices will you have with no insurance?), and lately the outright ugly new tactic of the shouting down of elected officials during town hall meetings. What you rarely hear from them any of these detractors are their ideas for reform.

During the Clinton years, Bill and Hillary tried and failed miserably to get some kind of reform passed mainly due to Republican shenanigans and admittedly poor execution. After that, the GOP had the White House and both Houses of Congress for all but 2 of the next 8 years and we heard nary a whisper from them on health care.

Fast forward to now and we are again back trying to fix an obviously broken system that has gotten increasingly worse since the last reform attempt but instead of working on the problem we have idiots with a TV pulpit or a blog spewing often ridiculous talking points and lies (forced euthanasia? Are you really that dumb?). Then we have members of Congress like our own Senator John Thune, who is enjoying the benefits of government run health care at the same time he is railing against that very same system all while accepting big contributions from the health insurance industry. What’s wrong with that picture?

So with all that said, what exactly do all these detractors have for an alternative? What ideas can they present to help the millions that truly want health insurance but either can’t afford it or who can’t get it because of pre-existing conditions? What will the GOP say to those that need preventive health care because of a scary family health history but can’t afford it and can’t get insurance to cover it? Too bad about your luck? And finally what does Senator Thune and Mr Limbaugh suggest as a fix for the soaring costs of insurance for those that still can somewhat afford it but soon might not be able to because those costs are rising way faster than any increases in wages? (And please don’t try and suggest Thune’s new “Protect Healthcare Freedom” blog is any kind of an attempt to fix the problem)

You say you don’t like the current proposals floating around in Congress? Fine, I can understand that but if you actually want to be part of real health care reform versus just being some robot repeating Rush Limbaugh Hitler comparisons, what is your solution? As things stand now, anything other than the status quo, which is a miserable failure, is a move in the right direction.

UPDATE: I asked above if anyone was really dumb enough to believe the crap being bandied about by the far right and lo and behold their queen didn’t disappoint. From Sarah Palin’s Facebook page:

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

When it comes to finding ignorance in politics lately, Sarah Palin never disappoints.

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