Republicans now own health care

March 15, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Ross Douthat had an opinion piece in the New York Times this week titled “Why Republicans Can’t Do Health Care” in which he argues that the recent Ryancare proposal is disliked by everyone on the right because the right “as an organism does not know what it believes in anymore.”

It’s likely something different going on. Republicans know what they believe. They believe in power and rule by the wealthy. They’ve thrown every other past belief they’ve pretended to have overboard and there’s not much left beneath the surface (from “personal responsibility” to “family values” to “free trade” etc, etc). In order to rig the game for their powerful and wealthy donors though, they have to get elected. They have to pretend to believe in something.

Healthcare presents a dilemma: If they repeal it, they kick 20 million people off insurance. If they make changes to it, they own it. If they do nothing, as the party in control of all three branches of government, they own it. The real problem they’re facing right now is that none of the options the wealthy and corporate special interests want look very good—and they’re going to own them.

Why a terrorist attack is more likely with a weak president

February 27, 2017 at 8:41 am

Islamic terrorists want an Islamic holy war. They believe in a clash of civilizations and want to unite all Muslims in a war against the West.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who founded al-Qaeda in Iraq, said before he was killed:

The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify … until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.

Their propaganda recalls an old prophecy that Islamic armies will rise up to meet the forces of “Rome” (or the West) on the fields of Dabiq in Syria. Victory in Dabiq will signal the caliphate’s conquest of the West.

This all seems scary until you realize that the number of Islamic state terrorists is estimated at between 80,000 and 100,000. Recent estimates have put it at closer to between 15,000 and 20,000. If we take the highest estimate, that’s still at least 16,000 less than the current population of Peoria, Illinois.

In other words, they have a problem: there are not many of them. The final battle they want isn’t going to look very good if they can be defeated by the population of Peoria.

How are they trying to deal with this recruiting problem?

Pay more and get less: The Ryan plan to privatize Medicare

November 29, 2016 at 11:41 am
[caption id="attachment_2147" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Paul Ryan speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011 (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia) Paul Ryan speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011 (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia)[/caption]

One of the fights likely to come up early during the next administration is privatizing Medicare.

Tom Price, chairman of the House Budget Committee, has indicated Republicans will try to privatize Medicare in a budget reconciliation bill (a sneaky filibuster proof attack).

You’re going to hear a lot about “choice” and “efficiency” and the amazingness of markets, but Ryan’s plan basically comes down to two things: 1) you will pay more, and 2) you will get less.

7 questions for John Schaffer, autism advocacy film director

June 28, 2016 at 6:05 pm
[caption id="attachment_2106" align="aligncenter" width="650"]John Schaffer filming Laura Nadine for The Shadow Listener. John Schaffer filming Laura Nadine for The Shadow Listener.[/caption]

John Schaffer is a filmmaker who specializes in movies about people with autism. He is also one of my oldest friends. I’ve admired his work with the autistic for years and have had many late night conversations with him over a few beers. Movies he’s directed include Vectors of Autism: a documentary about Laura Nagle, My Hiccups are Gone,and premiering online on July 1st, The Shadow Listener: A Voice for Autism.

I thought his work in film making and autism advocacy might be interesting to folks here so I thought I’d ask him a few questions.

Seven things you can do to do fund change

May 27, 2016 at 8:29 am

This election season has been a great time to talk about change and how change happens. Most progressives will agree that we need professionals fighting for change. This means activists have to be able to make a living. When having conversations with people about spending money to influence change, the […]

6,000 interfaith congregations come together to help homeless families regain their independence

April 10, 2016 at 8:47 pm

One of the things that drives me is working together to solve problems that affect us all. In the wealthiest country in the world, we shouldn’t have homelessness. Yet this year 2.5 million children will experience homelessness.

Recently, a group I’m involved with, The Tri-State Freethinkers(TSF) connected with the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) of Cincinnati (known nationally as Family Promise) to help host homeless families. Family Promise is a national organization that works to help people gain “sustainable independence” including permanent housing. Various congregations in Cincinnati host families overnight with help from local volunteers who help prepare food and entertain. TSF hosted a group overnight at Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church.

[caption id="attachment_2037" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Family Promise volunteers strive to make parents and children feel at home. Family Promise volunteers strive to make parents and children feel at home.[/caption]

The importance of fighting with someone on something

February 8, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Students from Texas Tech University build a house for Habitat for Humanity in 2010. Students from Texas Tech University build a house for Habitat for Humanity in 2010. (

In 1954, social psychologist Muzafer Sherif ran an experiment that could not be repeated today. Sherif was investigating prejudice and contesting Freud’s model of prejudice as an acting out of unresolved childhood conflicts.

At the Robbers Cave Boy Scout camp, Sherif wanted to test whether he could take a group of people, without any inherently hostile attitudes towards each other, and create conflict by introducing competition.

What Sherif found was not only that he could, but that he could also resolve the conflict if he introduced a shared goal. As I talk to people about politics and work for change, I always try to remember the importance of fighting with someone on something.

“Sex is like pre-chewed chewing gum … Is that what you want to present to your husband?”

August 20, 2015 at 8:49 am

What does your kid’s sex education look like?

Choosing the Best is a company that claims to be the leader in abstinence-only sex education. Choosing the Best is based out of Atlanta, Georgia and run by Bruce and Donna Cook. CTB materials are used in 15 states and are part of the $1.5 billion in spending on abstinence training over the past 25 years.

Choosing the Best WAY is the curriculum designed for 6th graders to:

give students age-appropriate insight into what’s happening to their changing bodies and emotions, explores their new interest in the opposite sex, and teaches abstinence as the best WAY

choosing_the_best_way_curriculum_550

I was introduced to Choosing the Best WAY through a presentation by Jim Helton about its use in the school his kids attend in Northern Kentucky.

Most of the CTB curriculum is based on fear and shame and, according to studies, doesn’t increase rates of sexual abstinence, the entire purpose of the program.

Here’s what this program looks like from the Choosing the Best WAY Student Manual.

The simple morality of atheism

March 30, 2015 at 9:43 pm

This is a post to help people understand atheism. I write this because of how atheism is being portrayed in the media as a lack of morals.

The latest example comes from Phil Robertson at a Christian event in Florida:

[caption id="attachment_1873" align="alignright" width="247"]Phil Robertson by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 3.0) Phil Robertson by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 3.0)[/caption]

Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters,” Phil said at the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast, audio from which was obtained by Right Wing Watch. “Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot ‘em and they take his wife and decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?

Atheists are portrayed as having no morals, as not believing in any right or wrong.

This is ridiculous.

Atheists are actually extremely moral people because atheists own their actions. If we make a decision, we don’t have any god or gods to fall back on.

We don’t say things like: “Well, my God told me that these other people are evil so I’m going to have to fight against them.”

If we make a decision, we have to own it. We use the word “I”.

21 Ayn Rand Christmas Cards

December 23, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Did Ayn Rand send Christmas cards?

ayn_rand_ornament_final

According to Scott McConnell’s 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand she did indeed. Unfortunately, none are included in McConnell’s 656 page book.

Fortunately, with a little help from the Ayn Rand Archives*, we’re able to present to you this exclusive, never-before-seen collection of Ayn Rand favorites.