Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ouch. I needed surgery. All I got was Tylenol.

As an attorney, I understand initiative. My best opponents, including those who are fun to negotiate with, always plead aggressively. While they may ultimately be willing to compromise, those who take the initiative, sometimes well before I have even been retained, see to it that I work to win it back. Republicans use it and so should Democrats. The rationale for health care reform, as it was passed, makes perfect sense from a fairness point of view, but not from an initiative-posturing-for-strategic-measures perspective. While single payer health care was, and still is, the only way to fix the problems in our system, public option health care may have felt more fair to all the interests. The same goes for my president's judicial appointments. They have been slow, yes, but thoughtful and fair. As November, with its threat of resurgence, is fast approaching, the slow appointments and moderate health care reform have created just as much vulnerability as progress. Initiative is becoming even more crucial. Appointing in larger numbers, including even marginalized candidates, could have made Republicans work harder and possibly protected the moderates Dems wanted anyway. As for health care reform, an initiative strategy might have been to push single payer, make our opponents destroy it, then attack them for doing so. If that sounds destructive to the billions of Americans who were getting screened out for health insurance, an argument can be made that they are no better off, as long as health care maintains a financing system based on private insurance. This is what Nick Skala meant by "public option is like a doctor prescribing Tylenol, when what you really need is surgery." His point was that the Congressional Progressive Caucus, as well as the public, needs to hear a side by side comparison of public option and single payer health care. I know I need to hear the comparisons. In the distracted, only moderately informed, "I'm so busy" reality I inhabit, my understanding of all subjects is invariably truncated. I'm so hyper focussed on the things I need and want and already have, but need to replace, I'm high. High like some citizen of an Opium Regime occupied third world country, as far as my firm understanding of things like health care reform go. The corporations that provide it all to me, have me so addicted, I don't complain. And when I do complain, I still want my opium.

We can be roused from a narcotic state by anger initiative, because anger is hard wired. Anger initiative is harder for Democrats. It invariably gets monopolized by Republican rhetoric. Republicans, who get more mileage out of glittering generalities than Democrats, know how to work serious anger up to initiative. Democrats should utilize more anger framing, to assist with initiative. Unleashed Rahm Emanuel anger. It's hard to get worked up about things, if you're not angry. It's hard to be too upset with Tylenol, even when you need surgery, if your daddy, or your privatized-corporate-controlled-disabled government keeps you flush with the good stuff.

Here's an excellent 1 hour or less detox from beltway politics, which can lead to health care reform enlightenment (and anger) :
Watch Nick Skala's June 12, 2009 interview. "The Single Payer Action Interview"
Visit Single Payer Action's site.
Read "Health Care Reform For Beginners" by Ezra Klein, in the Washington Post.
Watch Single Payer Action interview with Stan Brock.

Monday, March 22, 2010

“Hey, pretty girl, time to wake up.” Mulholland Drive

I woke up this morning so …. Awake!

The American dream is opium-like. When I’m dreaming the American dream, I’m out. It’s intense. I am heady. I am thinking about my daughter’s shoes, my son’s birthday, my Spanish water doggie’s tricks, my clothes, my vacations, my furniture, my car and my tunes. God, I really love my tunes. I’m also thinking about social justice, abuse victims, my responsibilities, my commitments, my politics, my work, my morals and my principals while I’m dreaming the dream. These are lucid American dreams.

But today, Health Care Reform passed, and I'm awake. Climbing out of my coma-like limited comprehension of health care reform began many months ago and ended last night almost simultaneously with the vote. I recommend the following for a good strong happy HCR buzz.

See the video readily available on Paul Hipp's site home page. We're number 37 is short and witty. Hipp's parodies are clever. He draws inspiration from Johnny Cash and the Beatles. He can write some songs about politics, true dat.

Listen to Keith Olbermann's special comment on death panels. He’s pissed about his father’s illness, and you can identify with Olbermann on this issue. His delivery is poignant.

Read about health care reform as proposed by my president. It’s his proposal, and it is not unwise to read his explanation of his proposal. Don’t expect to feel yourself coming out of the dream state yet. We live with so many distractions and deep seated perceptions, we don’t rise above them into clairvoyance without some effort.

And see the film Sicko by Michael Moore. Straight up, I have to say I like his work. But I identify with those who hesitate. He can be hard to watch. He's like Quentin Tarantino that way. Always worth it. What's so excellent about Sicko, is that you don't even have to cover your eyes, like you do in some of Moore's (and Tarantino's) films, if you're a little sensitive. Sicko, you get to watch con los ojos abiertos.

Lastly, listen to Je t’aime moi non plus back to back with Street Fighting Man, or anything else off the Sicko soundtrack, and tell me you don’t feel like you've just had a double espresso!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gimme them greenbacks. I'm gonna buy back the fatback.

Fatback is the cut of pork that runs along the back, right? It's the fat. It's supposed to be the flavorful part of the pork. For Joe Luter, it's part of the pork that needs to go, as we are a nation that likes to purchase low fat products. In his Plea to the Poles, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. describes how Luter began the genetic engineering of our supermarket pork in order to produce a leaner pig. Turns out these pigs are high strung and nervous, a little like my dog. No. A lot like my dog, because piggies, I've learned, are as sentient as doggies. European pigs, raised on traditional old world farms I guess, are fatter and taste better than their genetically engineered homogenous American counterparts. Luter talks about this subject some in his interview with National Hog Farmer. He's referencing the economic value for him in genetically engineered pigs that all look alike when they get processed and placed in the super markets. There's no picking over to find the best cut if all the cuts look identical; as a result, all the packages get purchased. That's the value for Luter. But there ain't no value in it for us. The pigs don't taste so good when the flavorful fat is genetically engineered out. Even the injections to simulate the flavor of fat don't help. When we stop purchasing pork from Smithfield and its countless subsidiaries, the industry is swiftly and decidedly affected. Since Luter's corporation dominates the industry, the only way to be certain you aren't paying him when you purchase is, I think, to buy from small, local organic pig farmers. Get a flavorful and healthy cut and support a farming practice that lets pigs act like pigs. No warehousing, no freakish industrializing, and no need for all the icky medications. Want to see the fatback? Use your greenbacks.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

How this wildly distracted beauty addicted yoga loving poverty lawyer soccer mom figured out the pork industry (even a blind pig finds an acorn)

When my aunt asked me if I'd read any good books lately, I wondered... Hmmm. Nope. No books. None at all. Not in months. But for some reading at night to the kids, I haven't touched a book. Nor have I watched countless episodes of any particular series on DVD as I am prone to do. No The Wire, no Nip/Tuck, no Lost, no The Office. Nothing. Nor have I written anything outside of work. No blogging. No contact with many of my friends, now that I think of it. Everything has been briefly suspended. Curious?

In a nutshell, it is because it has required all of my mental energy and focus to reach a low level understanding of the pig industry in today's socio-economic framework. I basically decided to figure out one teensy part of the way our country works...and it took me roughly 3 months.

I flew out of Massachusetts right on the cusp of the swine flu epidemic scare. One of my closest friends was diagnosed with the virus, and I began to imagine my own symptoms at around the same time. I'd spent a weekend with Al Giordano at a journalism workshop, and as a result, I made new friends from Mexico City. There was an immediacy and personal relevance to the issue that provided just enough incentive to understand the virus. Also, I had read Jeff Tietz' Rolling Stone article, Boss Hog, several months before, and I already disliked Joe Luter. I remember thinking: if people die falling in these holding ponds filled with pig waste because they're so toxic, and now more are dying from an airborne virus linked to a Smithfield factory farm, why aren't we all pissed at Luter? I started reading publications, not books, (though I had recently begun The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank which examines the cynical conservative corporate connection) and researching the issues like a student.

What I found freaked me out, and I temporarily lost the ability to articulate. As I began to get my head around the vastness of the misconduct on behalf of Smithfield Foods, I couldn't share findings or facts because I didn't know where to begin. There was too much information. The contrast in the abundance of information and the absence of a cohesive presentation of information by the media was so perplexing, that I couldn't figure out how to approach it. Additionally, by the time I could distill the issues and organize the information, it was too late. The issue was behind the news cycle and no longer in the national dialog. This is an important characteristic of a consumer driven society.

I have now reached pig nirvana. I understand fully what industrialized farming is all about. I know how the pigs are raised, I know what's in the pigs, I know why they're genetically engineered, I know what Smithfield's environmental, labor, and political negotiation practices are, I know Joe Luter's relationship to Smithfield and its countless subsidiaries, I know how rich he is, I know he's retired now, I understand total vertical integration, I know how the contracts with his company and small farmers are drafted, I see NAFTA's role in the equation, and I even know why our collective understanding of this issue is fairly scrambled as it relates to our media as a commodity and how a collective understanding impacts the economy. So I don't buy pork from stores or restaurants anymore unless I know it came from a small, independent, (preferably local) pig farmer. Now, that's what I call bacon.

Want to obtain pig nirvana too? The list of links below will take you there.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Smoke This

If you read Al Giordano's March 12 post on The President and the Drug War in the Narco News Bulletin, you know that journalists in the world of participatory journalism are discussing drug policy in the new administration. If you're looking to gain speed on the issues, Giordano is where you start as he's been covering the War on Drugs from here and Latin America for roughly 10 years. His interview in the Boston Phoenix is richly informative. Watch this youtube vid of Allison Margolin, L.A.'s dopest attorney. She's out there in the midst of the drug war too. Issue still in your system? Then see what Nate Silver determines from polls on issues regarding Americans and our thoughts on legalization. Stephen Colbert's hope bong satire is high grade humor. More on drugs? HBO's series The Wire is cronic. I like how it goes for cop and suspect perspective. My instinct used to be to blame a cop or a soldier. Then I met a bunch of them and began to understand that culpability is often way way up at the top. With the ruling class for example. Everyone else is usually just trying to put food on the table.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Grass Roots Think Tank

Facts are essential for refutation, and refutation is the best course for debate. Debate is powerful when used to navigate any narrative directed by the Republican Noise Machine. While republicans send their spin down the talk radio pipelines and the spin gets planted in the narrative when it appears on network channels as news, democrats can address this narrative not just in dialogue but also debate. There are think tanks at work right now driving the GOP attack narrative while simultaneously brainstorming for definition and direction. It was a grass roots movement that brought about our most impressive moment in history. Collectively, we are a grass roots think tank. Building a broad fact basis takes time. I think a good place to start is with the following list. As an exercise in fact building, why not challenge ourselves to know everything we can on each person on this list. As a result, we will undoubtedly be ready to begin mastering refutation.

 people to know well - a primer for refutation

Barack Obama
Michelle Obama
Robert Gates 
Thomas Daschle 
Hillary Clinton
Shaun Donovan
Nancy Pelosi
Tom Vilsak
Judd Gregg
Arne Duncan
Stephen Chu
Ken Salazar
Eric Holder Jr.
Timothy Geithner
Ray Lahood
Eric Shinseki
James Carville
Susan Rice
Ray LaHood
Hilda Solis
Janet Napolitano
David Axelrod
Pete Rouse
Rahm Emanuel
Valerie Jarrett
Caroline Kennedy
Ted Kennedy
Dennis Kucinich
Al Giordano
John Roberts
Samuel Alito
Stephen Breyer
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Anthony Kennedy
Antonin Scalia
David Hackett Souter
John Paul Stevens
Clarence Thomas

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Understanding the Auto Bailout

To understand the Auto Bailout start first at the far right, then read from the middle, then read from the left. The mainstream media hugely influences our collective consciousness, and we feel fairly informed while the rest of the world tries to understand our apparent complacency.  There is an established relationship between the mainstream media and the conservative pipeline. I think the right wing pitch is easier to digest than union worker, Gregg Shotwell, or economist Max Keiser's explanations.  We are prevented from fully grasping the facts because they are so complex. What infiltrates instead are the easy bite size non-facts. Now is the time to try and understand the Auto Bailout. As Dennis Kucinich stated during the congressional hearings regarding the Wall Street Bailout...they should have occurred before rather than after.

Rush and Fox
Rush says Stand up on the Auto Bailout GOP! Fox News says: The Auto Bailout, Too Risky An Investment (These are the messages that get planted in our basic understanding. And this is about as informed as most of the middle class gets. But keep reading.)

New York Times and Max Keiser
In Playing Politics With the Auto Bailout Barry Moskowitz posits in a letter to the editor of the New York Times: "The Senate Republicans’ rejection of a bailout for America’s Big Three automakers confirms a suspicion that many working- and middle-class Americans already had — Republicans care little for the majority of citizens who suffer from economic crises." In program 1006 The Truth About Markets December 13 Max Keiser says: "auto represents workers and savers and the banks represent borrowers and speculators."

Michael Moore
In Senate to the Middle Class: Drop Dead Moore says: "Of course that is heresy to the 31 Republicans who decided to blame the poor, miserable autoworkers for this mess. And our wonderful media complied with their spin on the morning news shows: 'UAW Refuses to Give Concessions Killing Auto Bailout Bill.'"

In Democracy Now! Gregg Shotwell, union activist and writer who worked at GM for thirty years remarks "If they let these auto companies go bankrupt, it's going to turn this recession into a depression. I'm shocked that they're even contemplating this. There's no such thing as an orderly bankruptcy. You know, millions of people would be affected."

"At the beginning of any revolution is media reform" Max Keiser
"We the public are burdened with a poorly informing US media" Al Giordano