As we and others already discussed this week, the wingnuts and the talking heads over at Faux “news” have worked themselves into a lather over their latest fake “controversy” which they have since dubbed the “latte salute” — which is actually just their latest excuse to completely disrespect President Obama.
Obamacare isn’t by any means a perfect law and not everything in it is going right. The law powers a different insurance market in every state (plus the District of Columbia), so it is perfectly possible for Obamacare to be a success in California even as there are troubles in Minnesota. And there continue to be operational issues: there have been troubling revelations about web site security, and problems verifying the incomes of some enrollees.
On the whole, though, costs are lower than expected, enrollment is higher than expected, the number of insurers participating in the exchanges is increasing, and more states are joining the Medicaid expansion. Millions of people have insurance who didn’t have it before. The law is working. But a lot of the people who are convinced Obamacare is a disaster will never know that, because the voices they trust will never tell them.
The conservative gospel of success rests on an unexamined paradox. The right’s last standard-bearer articulated it well—albeit inadvertently—in the last election.
At that infamous fundraiser in Palm Beach, the one that would eventually be seen by the world and derail his campaign, Mitt Romney actually said quite a few things before he got to the bit about the 47 percent. He recounted a visit years earlier to a factory in China when he was still at Bain. The pay for the workers was poor, the conditions at the plant deplorable. And yet, Romney said, the company had to fend off desperate job seekers lined up outside its gates. “And so, as we were experiencing this for the first time,” Romney told the audience, “for me to see a factory like this in China some years ago, the Bain partner I was with turned to me and said, ‘You know, 95 percent of life is settled if you’re born in America.’ ”
So it was that the Republican nominee betrayed recognition of a fundamental fact: that the accident of birth determines so much of an individual’s fate. And yet this was not the philosophical breakthrough it seemed. His story came at the tail end of a rumination about his background and inheritance: “I was born with a silver spoon,” he conceded. But it’s not the spoon you thought. He was born with “the greatest gift you could have, which is to get born in America.” What about that other great gift, the good fortune to be born into the American ruling class? “Both my dad and Ann’s dad did quite well in their life, but when they…passed along inheritances to Ann and to me, we both decided to give it all away,” he remarked. “So, I had inherited nothing. Everything that Ann and I have we earned the old-fashioned way, and that’s by hard work.”
The preposterousness of the statement has already been established in the court of public opinion. (Who could forget Ann Romney’s wistful story about the “not easy years” they endured, when they had to sell stock given to Mitt by his father to keep the couple afloat through school?) What we didn’t fixate on enough at the time was the defensiveness of a very rich man who insists that his success was purely self-made. It’s almost as if hard work and good fortune were mutually exclusive, and to admit to the latter is to negate the former.
That Romney could make these claims about luck and just deserts suggests a moral obliviousness. But it’s an obliviousness that isn’t his alone. The narrative of American prosperity, as filtered through the prism of post-Reagan conservatism, is animated by two ideas in tension. We Americans are so lucky, the right exclaims, to be in the greatest country on Earth. And yet conservatives chafe at any suggestion that luck and circumstance have anything to do with how we fare in life—that the individual is not the sole author of her destiny.
“If the latest polls are accurate, most voters believe that Republican politicians deserve greater trust on matters of national security. At a moment when Americans feel threatened by rising terrorist movements and authoritarian regimes, that finding is politically salient — and proves that amnesia is the most durable affliction of our democracy.”—
Today’s college men, as a group, are not doing so well — in comparison with today’s college women and with college men of the past. Many men are simply not attending college at all; and of those who matriculate, they are not graduating in large numbers, again, as compared to women and to previous generations of men. Coming out of high school, they are not as well prepared for college. They are reading less than girls and less than boys of older generations. In fact, if college admissions were gender-blind, the vast majority of students at our most selective colleges would be women. While at college, men are less engaged in their studies and in student life, and they receive lower grades and fewer honors. (Men in STEM courses, i.e., science, technology, engineering, and math, are the exception.) On campus, they exhibit higher rates of alcohol and substance abuse and commit more social conduct violations. College men use fewer student services and are more reluctant to seek help and attend support programs. In short, men are getting less out of their college experience, and they are not taking it upon themselves to do something about it.
seems like the inescapable conclusion is that men are just not suited for higher education or even higher level thought. it must be an evolution thing. since they are naturally less engaged and less social, we should encourage them to return to solitary caves and whack animals over the head with clubs for food. this isn’t a normative argument - it’s just biology!
“If you do not want disability used against your group, start thinking about what you’re doing to reinforce ableism in your own speech. If you do not want people of color to be called feeble-minded, or women to be called weak, or LGBT people to be called freaks, or fat people to be called diseased or working-class people to be called stupid — all of which are commonly used disability slurs — then the solution isn’t to try to distance yourself from us and say, No! We are not disabled like you! The solution is to make common cause with us and say, There is nothing wrong with being disabled, and we are proud to stand with you.”—Doing Social Justice: 10 Reasons to Give Up Ableist Language (via disabilityhistory)
Yet, according to a court document filed earlier this month by a leading religious conservative litigation shop, even this degree of accommodation is insufficient to satisfy the most vehement objectors to birth control. Indeed, if the courts ultimately accept the arguments presented by this court filing, that would leave the administration largely powerless to ensure that workers whose employers object to birth control still receive contraceptive coverage. The alleged rights of the employer would trump the rights of the employee.
What’s unusual about this motion, however, is that it specifically denies that the Obama Administration’s latest accommodation for religious objectors is sufficient. “Rather than simply requiring notice that Ave Maria is a religious nonprofit with a religious objection,” the motion complains, “the augmented rule would require Ave Marie [sic] to provide its insurance company’s name and contact information for the specific purpose of allowing HHS to issue a notice requiring the insurer to provide the exact same items through Ave Maria’s healthcare plan as if Ave Maria had given the insurer Form 700 directly.”
To translate this a bit, “Form 700″ is the form religious objectors were required to submit under a previous attempt to accommodate their sentiments regarding birth control. Under that regime, employers who object to birth control on religious grounds could exempt themselves from providing contraceptive coverage by filling out this short form, which required them to disclose the identity of their insurance administrator. Once the government has this form in hand, they would then contact this insurance company and arrange for it to provide contraceptive coverage to the religious objector’s employees without requiring the objector to provide this coverage itself. Notably, the Supreme Court’s opinion in Hobby Lobby strongly suggests that the just-fill-out-this-form accommodation is sufficient to overcome any legal objections to the overall regime for providing birth control to employees.
Nevertheless, several religious employers objected to the fill-out-the-form solution, so the Obama Administration granted them a further accommodation — permitting them to exempt themselves from the birth control rules without having to fill out any particular form at all, so long as the government learns who their insurance administrator is. Without this information, the government has no way of knowing which insurance company should provide contraceptive coverage to employees who are denied this coverage by their employer, and thus the entire system breaks down.
Ave Maria’s objection is not exactly surprising, as we explained shortly after the Obama Administration announced its latest accommodation, “employers who have raised the staunchest objections to birth control have often claimed that they cannot take any action that will set in motion a chain of events that leads to someone receiving contraception, as doing so would make them ‘complicit’ in the act of providing birth control,” but their objection is nonetheless significant because it reveals what the stakes actually are in the follow-up cases to Hobby Lobby. If the justices honor Ave Maria’s idiosyncratic objection, then it is unclear that the administration could design any accommodation that will survive contact with the Supreme Court.
A number of government and world history textbooks exaggerate Judeo-Christian influence on the nation’s founding and Western political tradition.
Two government textbooks include misleading information that undermines the Constitutional concept of the separation of church and state.
Several world history and world geography textbooks include biased statements that inappropriately portray Islam and Muslims negatively.
All of the world geography textbooks inaccurately downplay the role that conquest played in the spread of Christianity.
Several world geography and history textbooks suffer from an incomplete – and often inaccurate – account of religions other than Christianity.
Coverage of key Christian concepts and historical events are lacking in a few textbooks, often due to the assumption that all students are Christians and already familiar with Christian events and doctrine.
A few government and U.S. history textbooks suffer from an uncritical celebration of the free enterprise system, both by ignoring legitimate problems that exist in capitalism and failing to include coverage of government’s role in the U.S. economic system.
One government textbook flirts with contemporary Tea Party ideology, particularly regarding the inclusion of anti-taxation and anti-regulation arguments.
One world history textbook includes outdated – and possibly offensive – anthropological categories and racial terminology in describing African civilization.
A number of U.S. history textbooks evidence a general lack of attention to Native American peoples and culture and occasionally include biased or misleading information.
One government textbook … includes a biased – verging on offensive – treatment of affirmative action.
Most U.S. history textbooks do a poor job of covering the history of LGBT citizens in discussions of efforts to achieve civil rights in this country.
Elements of the Texas curriculum standards give undue legitimacy to neo-Confederate arguments about “states’ rights” and the legacy of slavery in the South. While most publishers avoid problems with these issues, passages in a few U.S. history and government textbooks give a nod to these misleading arguments.
“Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Lee’s story is how little credit she or her constituents receive for what they got right. Even though a majority now considers the war most understood the AUMF to authorize to be a mistake; even though it has been used to justify military interventions that no one conceived of on September 14, 2001; even though there’s no proof that any war-making of the last 13 years has have made us safer; even though many more Americans have died in wars of choice than have been killed in terrorist attacks; even though Lee and many of her constituents were amenable to capturing or killing the 9/11 perpetrators, not pacifists intent on ruling out any use of force; despite all of that, Representative Lee is still thought of as a fringe peacenik representing naive East Bay hippies who could never be trusted to guide U.S. foreign policy. And the people who utterly failed to anticipate the trajectory of the War on Terrorism? Even those who lair voted for a war in Iraq that turned out to be among the most catastrophic in U.S. history are considered sober, trustworthy experts.”—Angry Letters to the One Member of Congress Who Voted Against the War on Terror (via azspot)
“What is it about modern conservatism that demands there always be not just a threat, but an existential threat? It’s not enough that Saddam Hussein was a vicious dictator, he also had to be just years away from unleashing a “mushroom cloud” upon us all. It’s not just that there was a temporary rise in the number of undocumented minors crossing our borders, we had to have people like Rep. Louie Gohmert explain to us why this was going to somehow result in the end of American civilization. And those kids probably had Ebola. And they were probably Muslims. Reforming health care was going to lead to a dystopian future in which you would appear before a government panel that decided whether you lived or died. Putin is an evil mastermind who has his eyes not just on Crimea or even Ukraine, but on most of Europe if we do not send in our own tanks, or talk much more angrily, or do some other unspecified something. Everything is the immediate precursor to Armageddon, every day, all the time.”—The Great Orange Satan on Sen. Lindsey Graham, who says: ‘They will open the gates of hell’, ‘This is ISIL versus mankind’. (via wilwheaton)
The Cincinnati Bengals stepped up when a player distracted by his four-year-old daughter’s cancer battle was cut from the team.
The NFL has faced harsh criticism lately for the way it handled players who hit their wives and children. Buthere’s one NFL team that stepped up when a player and his family needed it most.
When Devon Sill learned last June that his four-year-old daughter Leah had cancer, being the defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals suddenly didn’t seem as important as it once was. The 25-year-old, who is a Penn-State star turned pro, wanted to be by his daughter’s bedside more than he wanted to insure that the Bengals would resign him. He told ESPN:
"Originally, when I found out, I was going to take the year off and just be there with my daughter, because doctors gave her a 50-50 chance of surviving. So, I wanted to be able to spend as much time with her as possible."
Devon missed off-season workouts. He shaved his head when Leah began chemo and he filled his Instagram with pictures of Leah and news about her medical condition. One post in August read:
"Normally today would be filled with excitement because it’s my first game back since my injury in December but because it is also the day my daughter starts her 3rd round of chemo and I can’t be there it feels different…usually on game day I pray for safety and a good game but today I’m just sending up one prayer so God knows how important it is to me and that is he stay by my daughters side and comfort her and protect her since I can’t be there….I’m going to handle my business on the field today and she’s going to handle hers in that hospital #PrayForLeah"
It was obvious to the Bengals his attention was elsewhere, so they cut Devon from the team. Business is business right?
Devon admitted in an interview withGood Morning America that he understood why the Bengals passed on resigning him. While Leah was sick, he couldn’t make football his priority. But being cut meant Devon would no longer have insurance to cover Leah’s treatment, which has been estimated might cost a million dollars.
Then, last week, the Bengals showed it isn’t all about the bottom line. They do have a heart. The Bengals signed Still to their practice squad, saving his health insurance. As a practice squad member he won’t have to travel, so he can spend more time with Leah while still playing football. It also means a $6,300 a month paycheck, and a chance to rejoin the team when Leah is well.
Devon was emotional as he expressed his gratitude to the Bengals management:
"They could have washed their hands with me and said that they don’t care about what I was going through off the field. It’s kinda like a blessing in disguise for me. Because they know of my situation, the work environment is easier for me, because I’m around players that I know, that I care about, who care about me, and I’m around a coaching staff who cares about me.""
Meanwhile, Leah is undergoing her fourth round of chemo.
there are millions of women world wide who are denied education and reproductive health care and legislative agency on the basis of their womanhood, and yet there are still white women with the audacity to say that feminism is unnecessary because ‘they have all the rights they need’
Despite these appearance, libraries — real ones concerned with guarding and curating knowledge — remain crucial to free and open societies, and not simply because their traditional services within academia, from curation to preservation to research, remain in high demand by scholars. More broadly, they crucially complement the Web in its highest aspirations: to provide unfettered access to knowledge, and to link authors and readers in new ways. Here’s why.
First, information may be easy to copy, but it’s also easy to poison and destroy. The Web is a distributed marvel: click on any link on a page and you’ll instantly be able to see to what it refers, whether it’s offered by the author of the page you’re already reading, or somewhere on the other side of the world, by a different person writing at a different time for a different purpose. That the act of citation and linkage could be made so easy to forge and to follow, and accessible to anyone with a Web browser rather than special patron privileges, is revolutionary.
But the very characteristics that make the distributed Net so powerful overall also make it dicey in any given use. Links rot; sources evaporate. The anarchic Web loses some luster every time that something an author meant to share turns out to be a 404-not-found error.