Sunday, December 14, 2014

Elizabeth Warren Note

Two excellent Facebook comments here noted for future reference.  Both are smart and I'm afraid prescient. We'll see...
They are responding to the nutty suggestion that Elizabeth Warren is the Democrat's version of Ted Cruz.
Deborah Megivern Foster
I read her book. She is actually sincere about working for middle class families. The rest of the Democrats who signed onto that CROMNIBUS bill gave a big middle finger to the middle class, because in less than five years time, we will be bailing out Wall Street again. Two of the smartest people I know about Wall Street, besides Elizabeth Warren, are Thom Hartmann and Matt Taibbi, and both of them predict a Wall Street crash with another bailout in a very short timeframe, because of what the Democrats helped the Republicans to do.

Michael Kempster 
The Republicans, when they lose, oft say it's because they're insufficiently pure of rightie conviction. The Democrats, when they lose, throw their liberal-left base--at one time, the center of their party, let us not forget--under the bus, in a vain attempt to appear more centered, while moving to the right.
  • First, there is no symmetry here. 
  • Second, given the Democrats' er, uh, lukewarm and only partially successful attempts to fire up their base, they might want to rethink that. 
  • And third, Warren has about seventeen times the intelligence, depth of conviction, command of political rhetoric and policy knowledge, and human decency as does Cruz, and speaks to a portion of the Democratic Party they'd be well advised not to alienate further
Here is the post and other comments...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Torture Report -- Dr. Gawande's Observations

These observations are curated this morning from Dr. Atul Gawande's Twitter messages. 
The Senate CIA Torture Report reveals savage, immoral, utterly despicable practices by our govt.  

But the worst for me is to see the details of how doctors, psychologists, and others sworn to aid human beings made the torture possible. 

The torture could not proceed w/o medical supervision. The medical profession was deeply embedded in this inhumanity.

It was doctors who devised the rectal infusions “as a means of behavior control.” (p100)

Doctors suggested the water temperature for waterboarding and use of saline instead of free water to avoid water intoxication. (p86, 419)

Doctors watched as stress positions inflicted pain, lacerations, and only stopped them when producing, e.g., shoulder dislocation (70)

Psychologists, who were supposed to stop damaging interrogation, actually served as interrogators. (72)

The Office of Medical Services provided consultation on when fractures and wounds were healed enough to resume torture. (p113)

The Office of Medical Services wrote guidelines approving up to 3 waterboard sessions in 24 hours per prisoner. (p8)

When torture caused Abu Zubaydah’s eyes to deteriorate, MDs only intervened to insure ability to see was saved to aid interrogation.(112)

Doctors found prisoners with broken feet and still approved putting them into standing positions for up to 52 hours (p112)

Doctors were long the medical conscience of the military. The worst occurred because gov't medical leaders abdicated that role. (p87)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Facebook Discussion of Eric Garner's Death

This Facebook exchange was triggered by Jon Stewart's response to yet another death by police.
Click on the comments icon to see who said what, but what follows is the part I want to keep.
BA This just looks awful. But it's the big picture of a growing underclass of all races that portends a nasty future here.

JB  And in this instance we can't blame firearms. It's abundantly clear to me that a dangerous and growing trend to embrace authoritarian control is strong and growing. It is a military-style, chain-of-command, patriarchal, class-oriented social trend that reminds me of accounts I have read leading up to some of the most despicable chapters of human history. 

People everywhere have always responded to promises of a more abundant life and have been willing to die pursuing it, even when they don't really need more. I think it has more to do with control than material needs. In this case, a guy was selling cigarettes which is against the law. But in the aftermath of his death, there is little mention of the bizarre fact that it triggered an altercation with the police that cost him his life. The argument is not about cigarettes or the law. It is about control -- who has it, who doesn't and how much control is appropriate.

BA  On a more prosaic level it's the accurate perception that only the rich are prospering, everyone else is losing with no end in sight. This will not end well if the wealth is not spread by a more egalitarian system.

JB  That was where I was headed. The illusion is that "poor" doesn't mean the same everywhere. It's hard to determine poverty, for example, when portable phones and even broken down pieces of junk cars are part of the baseline -- when such things would be considered luxuries in other places. Then there's the phenomenon of "food insecurity" whis means some children haven't enough food at home and their only meaningful food supply is through school food programs. 

When I was in Korea years ago being fat was a sign of prosperity, but now obesity has become a global problem thanks to global distribution of junk foods. It's such a mixed picture, this rich-poor divide. That's why it's so important to distinguish between income and wealth -- two very different variables commonly spoken of interchangeably.

BA  "We didn't know we were poor..."

JB  And that's true, you know. I recall old people who lived on farms telling stories of the depression. They saw plenty of poverty, but they themselves had enough to eat and even share with others, as well as shelter and the means to keep it weatherproof. Doing without new clothes or indoor plumbing is not nearly as tough as not having enough to eat or a place to sleep.

During the Great Depression trains stopped for water would often lose coal from the loads being carried. Sometimes people would even climb up and toss coal out where it could be collected by hand and used for heat and cooking where that might be their only source of fuel. I've heard that story more than once from old people.

That's not a lot different from selling cigarettes in Staten Island.

BA  I remember a story about a family man in Ga. who owned a hardware store, maybe in Atlanta, at the beginning of the Depression. He hung on as long as he could, giving out credit to his impoverished customers until it was obvious it wasn't working. He sold the store and bought a farm in the country. Later his grown kids said the quote I posted above. They had a house, a garden, the big outdoors and plenty of love.

AS  My father got shot in the leg when he was eight years old and picking up pieces of coal that had fallen off a railroad car. The man who shot him worked for Southern Railway. No charges were filed on either side, as it was considered normal.