Entries Tagged as 'History'

May Day

May Day, or the 1st of May (not the call for help) is celebrated to mark several different events in many parts of the world.

In much of the world it is synonymous with International Workers’ Day or Labour Day, but the oldest references to May Day is related to the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night.

While the basis of the celebration might be pagan, the Christians usurped it (as they did with many others)  to be more in keeping with the teachings of their church.

Whether your interest is in International Workers’ Day or Labour Day or the Celtic festival of Beltane or the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night or pagan/neopagan festivals such as Samhain…

Take a moment and read up on the many facets of May Day… and take a moment to celebrate the day in any and every way you choose!

But for me, May Day marks the end of Winter and the start of Spring.

May Day on Wikipedia


May Day

Originally posted 2010-05-01 02:00:53.

When American big business is behind something…

I’ve been around the block a few times, and I tend to pay attention.

One thing that’s almost an invariant in the world is that if American big business is behind legislation it’s because it serves their own interest and greed — not the public interest.

The only thing American big business cares about the public for is finding new ways to milk money from them and insure that the public pay more than their share of taxes.

With very few exceptions American business (and the ultra-rich American’s that run those businesses) are self-serving, and only looking out for their interests and profits.  They are motivated by greed.

So when the pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, large hospitals, and health care industry get behind a plan that doesn’t seem to improve anything for the American public it should be clear to everyone who they’re looking to improve things for.

The real problem in America is that special interest groups run the country; and almost all politicians who’ve been in office more than two terms (and most presidents) cater to their interests and don’t want to really change the status quo.

Those who are elected to serve the public interest actually serve no interests but their own!

– Caveat civis –

Originally posted 2010-03-13 02:00:48.

Debunking Canadian health care myths

The following is an except from a Denver Post opinion article by Rhonda Hackett (a clinical psychologist born in Canada, living in the US)

Myth: Taxes in Canada are extremely high, mostly because of national health care.

In actuality, taxes are nearly equal on both sides of the border. Overall, Canada’s taxes are slightly higher than those in the U.S. However, Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars, even beyond health care (e.g., tax credits, family allowance, cheaper higher education), so the end result is a wash. At the end of the day, the average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay. In the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent.

Myth: Canada’s health care system is a cumbersome bureaucracy.

The U.S. has the most bureaucratic health care system in the world. More than 31 percent of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc. The provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with just a 1 percent overhead. Think about it. It is not necessary to spend a huge amount of money to decide who gets care and who doesn’t when everybody is covered.

Myth: The Canadian system is significantly more expensive than that of the U.S.Ten percent of Canada’s GDP is spent on health care for 100 percent of the population. The U.S. spends 17 percent of its GDP but 15 percent of its population has no coverage whatsoever and millions of others have inadequate coverage. In essence, the U.S. system is considerably more expensive than Canada’s. Part of the reason for this is uninsured and underinsured people in the U.S. still get sick and eventually seek care. People who cannot afford care wait until advanced stages of an illness to see a doctor and then do so through emergency rooms, which cost considerably more than primary care services.

What the American taxpayer may not realize is that such care costs about $45 billion per year, and someone has to pay it. This is why insurance premiums increase every year for insured patients while co-pays and deductibles also rise rapidly.

Myth: Canada’s government decides who gets health care and when they get it.While HMOs and other private medical insurers in the U.S. do indeed make such decisions, the only people in Canada to do so are physicians. In Canada, the government has absolutely no say in who gets care or how they get it. Medical decisions are left entirely up to doctors, as they should be.

There are no requirements for pre-authorization whatsoever. If your family doctor says you need an MRI, you get one. In the U.S., if an insurance administrator says you are not getting an MRI, you don’t get one no matter what your doctor thinks — unless, of course, you have the money to cover the cost.

Myth: There are long waits for care, which compromise access to care.There are no waits for urgent or primary care in Canada. There are reasonable waits for most specialists’ care, and much longer waits for elective surgery. Yes, there are those instances where a patient can wait up to a month for radiation therapy for breast cancer or prostate cancer, for example. However, the wait has nothing to do with money per se, but everything to do with the lack of radiation therapists. Despite such waits, however, it is noteworthy that Canada boasts lower incident and mortality rates than the U.S. for all cancers combined, according to the U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group and the Canadian Cancer Society. Moreover, fewer Canadians (11.3 percent) than Americans (14.4 percent) admit unmet health care needs.

Myth: Canadians are paying out of pocket to come to the U.S. for medical care.Most patients who come from Canada to the U.S. for health care are those whose costs are covered by the Canadian governments. If a Canadian goes outside of the country to get services that are deemed medically necessary, not experimental, and are not available at home for whatever reason (e.g., shortage or absence of high tech medical equipment; a longer wait for service than is medically prudent; or lack of physician expertise), the provincial government where you live fully funds your care. Those patients who do come to the U.S. for care and pay out of pocket are those who perceive their care to be more urgent than it likely is.

Myth: Canada is a socialized health care system in which the government runs hospitals and where doctors work for the government.Princeton University health economist Uwe Reinhardt says single-payer systems are not “socialized medicine” but “social insurance” systems because doctors work in the private sector while their pay comes from a public source. Most physicians in Canada are self-employed. They are not employees of the government nor are they accountable to the government. Doctors are accountable to their patients only. More than 90 percent of physicians in Canada are paid on a fee-for-service basis. Claims are submitted to a single provincial health care plan for reimbursement, whereas in the U.S., claims are submitted to a multitude of insurance providers. Moreover, Canadian hospitals are controlled by private boards and/or regional health authorities rather than being part of or run by the government.

Myth: There aren’t enough doctors in Canada.

From a purely statistical standpoint, there are enough physicians in Canada to meet the health care needs of its people. But most doctors practice in large urban areas, leaving rural areas with bona fide shortages. This situation is no different than that being experienced in the U.S. Simply training and employing more doctors is not likely to have any significant impact on this specific problem. Whatever issues there are with having an adequate number of doctors in any one geographical area, they have nothing to do with the single-payer system.

Originally posted 2010-03-10 02:00:43.

A Country Divided

On 12 April 1861 Confederate forces attached the US military garrison at Fort Sumter in South Carolina and set in motion the secession the American Civil War.

Seven Southern states had already seceded before this time; four more joined them once Lincoln called for an Army.

Some historians, though, believe that the attack on Fort Pickens in Florida deserve the moniker as the place where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

Which ever it is — the war was a long any bloody fight which reshaped American society.

Originally posted 2010-04-12 01:30:45.

Economic Recovery

The Fed is telling us that we’re on the road to recovery… that economic activity improved across all 12 regions tracked, and have reminded us that the last time all regions were in a growth mode was prior to December 2007.  Remember, though, the Fed told us all several months ago that economic activity improved in all regions except for St Louis (which was marginal).

The Fed chairman was upbeat in a report to congress that the economy is likely to expand, though slowly – and we needed to be weary of the European debt crisis (and slipped in warnings about high unemployment and a fragile housing market here at home).

But we’re also told by the Labor Department that job openings in April rose to the highest level in 16 month to 3.1 million (from 2.8 million in March).  Remember, these are openings advertised, not necessarily openings filled… and even with those statistics there are 5 unemployed people for each job opening.

I think it’s great to paint a positive picture — but I also think it’s important to keep people well grounded in the reality that the economic down turn is far from over; and while the Fed might like to encourage increased spending to speed a recovery — that’s more of a chicken-and-egg problem than they’re willing to admit… after all nearly 20% of this country is unemployed (though the government clever fuzzy math makes that number out to be much lower), and most of those people aren’t independently wealthy!

Originally posted 2010-06-23 02:00:48.

Bush v. Gore

At a law school Supreme Court conference that I attended last fall, there was a panel on “The Rehnquist Court.” No one mentioned Bush v. Gore, the most historic case of William Rehnquist’s time as chief justice, and during the Q. and A. no one asked about it. When I asked a prominent law professor about this strange omission, he told me he had been invited to participate in another Rehnquist retrospective, and was told in advance that Bush v. Gore would not be discussed.

The ruling that stopped the Florida recount and handed the presidency to George W. Bush is disappearing down the legal world’s version of the memory hole, the slot where, in George Orwell’s “1984,” government workers disposed of politically inconvenient records. The Supreme Court has not cited it once since it was decided, and when Justice Antonin Scalia, who loves to hold forth on court precedents, was asked about it at a forum earlier this year, he snapped, “Come on, get over it.”

There is a legal argument for pushing Bush v. Gore aside. The majority opinion announced that the ruling was “limited to the present circumstances” and could not be cited as precedent. But many legal scholars insisted at the time that this assertion was itself dictum — the part of a legal opinion that is nonbinding — and illegitimate, because under the doctrine of stare decisis, courts cannot make rulings whose reasoning applies only to a single case.

Bush v. Gore’s lasting significance is being fought over right now by the Ohio-based United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, whose judges disagree not only on what it stands for, but on whether it stands for anything at all. This debate, which has been quietly under way in the courts and academia since 2000, is important both because of what it says about the legitimacy of the courts and because of what Bush v. Gore could represent today. The majority reached its antidemocratic result by reading the equal protection clause in a very pro-democratic way. If Bush v. Gore’s equal protection analysis is integrated into constitutional law, it could make future elections considerably more fair.

The heart of Bush v. Gore’s analysis was its holding that the recount was unacceptable because the standards for vote counting varied from county to county. “Having once granted the right to vote on equal terms,” the court declared, “the state may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person’s vote over that of another.” If this equal protection principle is taken seriously, if it was not just a pretext to put a preferred candidate in the White House, it should mean that states cannot provide some voters better voting machines, shorter lines, or more lenient standards for when their provisional ballots get counted — precisely the system that exists across the country right now.

The first major judicial test of Bush v. Gore’s legacy came in California in 2003. The N.A.A.C.P., among others, argued that it violated equal protection to make nearly half the state’s voters use old punch-card machines, which, because of problems like dimpled chads, had a significantly higher error rate than more modern machines. A liberal three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed. But that decision was quickly reconsidered en banc —that is, reheard by a larger group of judges on the same court — and reversed. The new panel dispensed with Bush v. Gore in three unilluminating sentences of analysis, clearly finding the whole subject distasteful.

The dispute in the Sixth Circuit is even sharper. Ohio voters are also challenging a disparity in voting machines, arguing that it violates what the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Daniel Tokaji, an Ohio State University law professor, calls Bush v. Gore’s “broad principle of equal dignity for each voter.” Two of the three judges who heard the case ruled that Ohio’s election system was unconstitutional. But the dissenting judge protested that “we should heed the Supreme Court’s own warning and limit the reach of Bush v. Gore to the peculiar and extraordinary facts of that case.”

The state of Ohio asked for a rehearing en banc, arguing that Bush v. Gore cannot be used as precedent, and the full Sixth Circuit granted the rehearing. It is likely that the panel decision applying Bush v. Gore to elections will, like the first California decision, soon be undone.

There are several problems with trying to airbrush Bush v. Gore from the law. It undermines the courts’ legitimacy when they depart sharply from the rules of precedent, and it gives support to those who have said that Bush v. Gore was not a legal decision but a raw assertion of power.

The courts should also stand by Bush v. Gore’s equal protection analysis for the simple reason that it was right (even if the remedy of stopping the recount was not). Elections that systematically make it less likely that some voters will get to cast a vote that is counted are a denial of equal protection of the law. The conservative justices may have been able to see this unfairness only when they looked at the problem from Mr. Bush’s perspective, but it is just as true when the N.A.A.C.P. and groups like it raise the objection.

There is a final reason Bush v. Gore should survive. In deciding cases, courts should be attentive not only to the Constitution and other laws, but to whether they are acting in ways that promote an overall sense of justice. The Supreme Court’s highly partisan resolution of the 2000 election was a severe blow to American democracy, and to the court’s own standing. The courts could start to undo the damage by deciding that, rather than disappearing down the memory hole, Bush v. Gore will stand for the principle that elections need to be as fair as we can possibly make them.

Has Bush v. Gore Become the Case That Must Not Be Named?
By Adam Cohen
Published: August 15, 2006; The New York Times

Originally posted 2010-09-09 02:00:33.

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Friday Fourteen April Nineteen-hundred and Sixty-five (Good Friday) Confederate sympathizer (and possibly Confederate agent) John Wilkes Booth shot and fatally wounded President Abraham Lincoln as one part of a much larger conspiracy.

Assassination has a long history of being used to force political change; however, Abraham Lincoln was the first of four sitting American presidents to be assassinated (there have been many more attempts).

While it’s clear at this juncture there is a need for a radical change in our government, my hope is that it can be achieved through peaceful, constructive change.

Originally posted 2010-04-14 01:30:45.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day grew from a celebration of Mother’s Days.

In 1909 Sonora Smart Dodd (of Spokane Washington) felt that a day should be set aside for honoring fathers (her father was a Civil War veteran and had raised six children after the passing of his wife).

While a bill had been introduced in the US Congress as early as 1913, and President Woodrow Wilson spoke in Spokane at a local celebration in 1916, and President Calvin Coolidge encouraged a celebration in 1924 it would not be until President Richard Nixon issued a proclamation in 1972 declaring the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day that it became a national day of honoring not only our paternal father’s, but our fore father’s as well.

Originally posted 2010-06-20 02:00:59.

Radical Religions

The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL at the urging of it’s pastor Terry Jones plans to burn copies of the Quran today to mark the anniversary of the radical terrorists who hijacked airplanes and used them as weapons nearly a decade ago.

Terry Jones wrote a book entitled Islam is of the Devil.

On The Dove World Outreach Center’s web site is a statement that said it plans to burn Qurans “to warn about the teaching and ideology of Islam, which we do hate as it is hateful.”

What makes this entire episode totally ridiculous is that Terry Jones boasts that he has never read the Quran — so he has no idea what is in the book he intends to burn, and it’s likely he has absolutely no understanding of Islam.

Most of the world understands that radicals don’t represent the views of the main stream of any culture — and certainly we don’t hold all Christians accountable to the acts of the radicals who murder people or bomb buildings to save unborn fetuses… but somehow a back-woods, narrow-minded, ignorant, bigoted preacher in the deep South seems to think that he needs to publicly burn books held holy by another faith to make himself feel more secure in his ridiculous beliefs.

And we should set the records straight — more people have been killed by Christians than any other religion in the name of their god… so if we’re keeping tally for “radical” acts of hate, all Christian please move to the front of the line.

Originally posted 2010-09-11 02:00:24.

BP Profits

Byron Grove, BP’s chief financial officer said a week after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion that it was too early to talk about how much BP would be spending on the cleanup.

2010 First Quarter financial statements for BP show profits double the same period last year at $6.08 billion.

Over the past few years BP has been fined for workplace safety violations… but apparently the company hasn’t had a problem staying in business and making record amounts of money.

The oil spill cleanup is after all, just a cost of doing business for BP; and perhaps it’s time to crank up that cost with hefty fines for each and every day it continues.

The Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar has threatened BP with a government take over of the clean up… but last I check the government was already involved.  And US Coast Guard Admiral Thad W Allen has been clear that their is little more that they can do… mainly because there isn’t a contingency plan for this type of spill — by any government agency.

In 1989 Exxon was hit hard by a consumer boycott when they dragged their feet in the clean up of the Valdez spill; but so far there’s no sign that consumers are slowing their purchases at BP — the largest oil and gas producer in North American, and one of the largest in the United States (selling under the retail labels of BP and Arco).

Maybe when the news media starts providing images of animals and habitat that’s devastated by the oil spill consumers might wake up — but there are actually live feeds of the oil spewing from the damaged rig that show oil-soaked birds and now there’s plenty of footage of landfall of the spill in Louisiana… so maybe not.

The oil and gas industries are the 14th largest contributors to congress — almost $7 billion per year ( http://politics.usnews.com/congress/industries — don’t be shocked by how many times Harry Reid is the #1 recipient of that money — and by all means use this list to know who to vote out of office) — so it’s understandable why the federal government is slow is really punish BP; after all, we know that our elected official look out for their interests first (which involves looking out for the interests of those who give you money — over those who you consider sheep who’ll just continue to vote for you).

FINES FINES and MORE FINES — if BP is making money hand over foot, let’s make sure that they bare the full cost of this cleanup and the costs of un-doing the damage that they’ve caused…  I’m thinking $50 million per day would be just about right to force BP to take real action.

Originally posted 2010-05-28 02:00:19.