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Archive for April, 2010

Last night, I went to the movies.

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I’ve been neglecting this space lately, because I’ve actually been relatively busy. Over at the CPPP, I’ve set to work putting together a report to our board of directors, which has entailed, among other things, learning to make sense of web stats (I know what a bounce rate is!) and using them to diagnose what our Web site is doing wrong.

Over at the Observer, in addition to redrafting the draft of my Davy Crockett book review, I’ve written a short piece about the Karl Rove speech at UT that I attended Monday night, and have been assigned to blog at least a couple of times about the Cine Las Americas film festival which will be happening here in Austin for the next week or so.

A few other Goodall Wooten folks and I have sparked a pretty fierce four square circuit that keeps me busy during the evenings, and friend and I have started taking leisurely bike rides (to the lake Sunday, to Mount Bonnell tonight), and last night’s culinary expedition into the world of steamed vegetables (cabbage, carrots, squash, cauliflower) was a big success (thanks, dad, for the tips).

So that’s what I’ve been up to. But this caught my eye this morning:

Sue Lowden (R), the leading Republican Senate candidate in Nevada, recently articulated her vision of how the American health care system should work. At a local candidate forum, Lowden, a former state senator and chair of the Nevada Republican Party, encouraged Nevadans to “go ahead and barter with your doctor.” It would, she insisted, “get get prices down in a hurry.”I assumed that Lowden misspoke, and meant to say “bargain,” not “barter,” though the notion of bargaining with medical professionals is itself foolish. But she couldn’t have meant “barter,” since that’s ridiculous.

Sue Lowden is the currently the favorite candidate to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. A recent Las Vegas Review-Journal poll of likely Nevada voters found Lowden leading Reid 47 percent to 37 percent. Although, with ideas like these, it’s hard to see why:

“I’m telling you that this works,” the Republican candidate explained. “You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say, ‘I’ll paint your house.’ I mean, that’s the old days of what people would do to get health care with your doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I’m not backing down from that system.”

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Hrrmmm …

Conservatives in at least one state inch just a little closer to pure, mid-19th-century madness.

Frustrated by recent political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.

Tea party movement leaders say they’ve discussed the idea with several supportive lawmakers and hope to get legislation next year to recognize a new volunteer force. They say the unit would not resemble militia groups that have been raided for allegedly plotting attacks on law enforcement officers.

“Is it scary? It sure is,” said tea party leader Al Gerhart of Oklahoma City, who heads an umbrella group of tea party factions called the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance. “But when do the states stop rolling over for the federal government?”

A constitutional law professor at the University of Oklahoma noted in response, “Have they heard of the Oklahoma City bombing?”

The discussions about this armed force that would apparently resist U.S. officials were described by the AP as “exploratory.” That’s the good news, I guess. The bad news is these discussions between right-wing extremists, including some in the state legislature, have actually happened.

Their vision, apparently, would be a privately-recruited militia, with the blessing of the state legislature, that would be armed and trained. Armed and trained by whom? The details are a little fuzzy.

Nevertheless, one of the Republicans’ gubernatorial candidates insisted that the 2nd Amendment authorizes states to create armed militias that would be available to confront the American government.

The mind reels.

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Where to start? Cline had been newly pregnant and living in a riverside house owned by her boyfriend in 2007, when the economy began to collapse in Michigan. She lost her job as a pharmacy technician in May of that year, on the same day her mother was laid off. Her boyfriend’s swimming-pool business collapsed. She racked up $50,000 in debt on four credit cards, and two companies sued her. She filed for bankruptcy. The government foreclosed on her boyfriend’s house. She moved in with her parents and then with a friend before finding the duplex, an affordable rental in a dodgy neighborhood, where Brenden’s elementary school was suddenly shuttered for budgetary reasons and the docile, elderly family dog walked around in a spike-studded collar meant to intimidate would-be intruders.

In the letter, Cline reduced all that to: “I lost my job, my health benefits and my self worth in a matter of 5 days.”

… The envelope from Monroe, Mich., arrived in Washington and was tested for chemicals and radioactive materials. Then it was packed into a 20-pound white box along with 1,000 other letters to Obama, carried into the lobby of an office building near the White House, scanned by a metal detector, eyed by a security guard and placed into an elevator destined for the ninth floor. Once there, it was stacked next to five similar boxes, all labeled “White House correspondence.”

Here is the filter between the public and its president: a sprawling floor in an ordinary office building, its location kept secret as a security precaution, where the cubicles remain spare and doughnuts and cookies sit on a counter in the break room. Want to call the president? The phone rings here. Want to e-mail him? The message arrives on one of these computers. Want to send him a gift? It might be stored temporarily in a closet next to the break room.

Rest of the story is here.

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