Whether it’s real or not

I know a lot of cynics will say it’s a political ploy, but this is a pretty powerful message: https://www.good.is/articles/lifelong-gop-likes-aca

Regardless of whether this guy is telling the truth, or if it’s a clever bit of political marketing, I know that the ACA helped a good friend of ours – perhaps even saved her life. Before, her pre-existing condition prevented her from getting insurance and the surgery she needed, and she was pretty much wasting away. It’s definitely not perfect, and our system’s still basically screwed up, but it’s a little less screwed up now that people who need help can get it.
What we need now is not a repeal, but a strengthening of the law, improvements in the ways insurance raise premiums, in the way data can and must be shared among providers, and in the way that states provide Medicaid expansion.



I always think that one of the purposes of this type of attack is to show – or to galvanize – the moral bankruptcy of the regime and the society. To show that when it is provoked it will lash out with cruel, disproportionate, insane violence; to show that it is not a legitimate or safe place for marginalized groups by provoking violence on the bodies of the marginalized. If we lived in a better world, or even in Norway, people would respond by refusing to lash out, by acting with magnanimity and greatness. But all that ever happens is that we see that both the terrorists and the regime are violent and morally bankrupt.

It’s an epistemological crime, it’s intended to produce despair. Mass killings like this are the non-stae mirror of the prison camp, because they’re intended to break down people’s ordinary humanity.


Political understanding

There is an interesting article over at NPR describing how when asked to explain their own strong opinions, confronted by their own ignorance of the issues, people generally end up moderating their own opinions:

Should the United States impose unilateral sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program? Should we raise the retirement age for Social Security? Should we institute a national flat tax? How about implementing merit-based pay for teachers? Or establishing a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions?

The striking implication, for which the researchers find support, is that getting people to appreciate their own ignorance can be enough to rein in strong opinions.

What’s funny to me is that so many people never get past the mental knee-jerk; I’ll call these people knee-jerks from now on. It’s like what someone famous once said: “I may not understand what you say, but I will defend to the death what you mean when you say it.”

I’m pretty sure that’s how the saying goes.


I came across these stunning WWII Kodachrome large format images via Metafilter. That’s some good-lookin’ propaganda, right there.




Join the party

This is what irresponsible (read: tea party) governing gets you:

Even with this knowledge, the state this year cut its contribution to the Volunteer Fire Department Assist­ance Program, a vital resource administered by the Texas Forest Service that provides volunteer firefighters with training and equipment. In 2009, lawmakers put $59.5 million into it. When budget time came again this year, every state agency knew they were facing cuts. However, the Texas Forest Service asked for an exemption “due to the agency’s critical role in public safety in the areas of wildfire and emergency response,” and asked that lawmakers only shave $2.5 million off the top.

Instead, legislators proposed a 39% cut in the Forest Service’s Wildfire and Emer­gency Services budget, and the bulk of that cut came out of the general revenue contribution to volunteer firefighters. That $59.5 million for 2010-2011 falls to $27 million for 2012-2013 – a 55% cut. On top of that, the Lege pulled 5% out of the Rural Volun­teer Fire Department Insurance Fund, cutting its already insignificant $2 million contribution by $100,000.

The Texas GOP-dominant Legislature does not just cut its own funding to first responders: It also restricts their ability to pay for themselves. Back in 2009, then-state Rep. Valinda Bolton, D-Austin, championed House Joint Resolution 112, giving Emer­gen­cy Service Districts the power to ask voters in unincorporated areas for construction bonds. As populations swell beyond city limits, ESDs struggle to build enough station houses and buy enough equipment, and their response times suffer as a result. But Bolton’s measure faced unexpected opposition, and the reasoning, she said at the time, was simple: “The caption on the bill actually has ad valorem in it,” and ad valorem tax bills die in the Texas Legislature.

Last year, while Gov. Rick Perry was receiving a re-election endorsement from the Texas State Associ­a­tion of Fire Fight­ers

Um, what?

Can’t say I disagree:

Perry’s right in arguing for expediting assistance in times of crisis. But I can’t be the only one to note the soot-black irony of Perry – whose surge in the GOP horse race is attributable to his states’-rights-asserting, safety-net-dismantling strand of corporatism disguised as bootstrapping populist hokum – calling on the feds for help after slashing state funding for volunteer fire departments.