Saturday, August 22, 2015

Free The Nipple Comes to Hampton

Readers of this blog will know that Mad Dog is on the leading edge of news--"you heard it hear first" is our motto.

On May 22, Mad Dog posted about the depredation of the art work on Rte 27 near the Old Salt, which defaced a perfectly nice sculpture on the grounds  that exposed female breasts constitute a public indecency, a threat to town morals and would likely unhinge the children passing by it in school buses, who, up to that point had barely noticed the breasts, being otherwise occupied, texting their friends and playing games on their smart phones, as the buses whisked by the sand sculpture.

Now we have the "Free the Nipple" movement, coming to Hampton tomorrow, an effort to liberate female breasts and all minds with respect to the the idea that female breasts are inoffensive. 

To his great credit, the Hampton town manager, Fred Welch, has said the law is on the side of the women who wish to go topless on Hampton Beach. In this, Mr. Welch is far ahead of his less sophisticated brethren some 300 miles down the road in New York City, where Mayor Bill De Blasio has convened a commission which includes the Police Commissioner, the Manhattan District attorney's office, the City Planning Commission, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development, among many others, to deal with the problem of women in Times Square who have painted their breasts and then pose for photos with tourists, for pay.

As the New York Times points out, "The size and firepower of this task force are more appropriate for an Ebola outbreak."  The Times also notes the women posing for these photos are far tinier than the "towering images of near naked models preening and pouting on the digital billboards all around [them.]"

Two years ago the seacoast suffered through "Nipplegate" an episode at a local hospital  in which a confused post partum nurse on the maternity ward delivered the wrong baby to a mother for breast feeding. The mother, drowsy in her dark ward room, breast fed a neonate belonging to some other mother.  This was not a case of "switched at birth" in which the wrong baby was sent home with the wrong mother, but it did prompt some high tech solutions. Mad Dog cannot recall exactly how the high tech got done, but he does not recall chips being implanted under babies' skins (as they now do with dogs). It was something less aggressive, a chip in an ankle bracelet or a Fitbit or something. Breasts were involved in that story and it had the catchy "nipplegate" tag line, which is why Mad Dog thinks of it now.

But here in provincial New Hampshire, we are, most of us, apparently, unfazed by the prospect of actual, living women exposing their breasts on our most iconic beach. It's just the idea of a sand sculpture depiction of a languorous mermaid that disturbs us.

    •  14

  • Heidi Lilley, 54, of Gilford, and Kia Sinclair, 23, of Danbury, on Thursday visited Hampton Beach, where they plan to hold a topless sit-in for women on Aug. 23 in support of the Free the Nipple movement to fight oppression of women.|
    Heidi Lilley, 54, of Gilford, and Kia Sinclair, 23, of Danbury, on Thursday visited Hampton Beach, where they plan to hold a topless sit-in for women on Aug. 23 in support of the Free the Nipple movement to fight oppression of women. Photo by Rich Beauchesne/Seacoastonline.

    • By Max Sullivan
      Posted Jul. 30, 2015 at 4:19 PM
      Updated Jul 30, 2015 at 4:37 PM 

      HAMPTON — Female supporters of the Free the Nipple campaign are planning to sit topless on Hampton Beach next month in an effort to change public perception of women’s breasts. While police are saying it's perfectly legal, at least one Hampton Beach official strongly objects.
      Heidi Lilley, 54, of Gilford, and Kia Sinclair, 23, of Danbury, are using Facebook to mobilize women to gather at the beach for the topless sit-in on Aug. 23, they said.  Free the Nipple first gained traction in 2014 with the premier of a globally supported film with the same name. The campaign’s main Facebook page has more than 52,000 likes. It is billed as an equality movement to empower women and fight oppression.
      “Really it’s us exercising our right to go topless,” Sinclair said. “We want to encourage as many women (and men) to come and support us, whether that is in Hampton specifically or anywhere in New Hampshire.”
      John Kane, Hampton Beach Village District marketing director, said he is “absolutely against it.” He said the district has “spent generations and millions of dollars along with the state and the town” to make Hampton Beach a “family destination.” A Free the Nipple event will set those efforts back, he said.
      “Hampton Beach is a family resort, and we try our best to keep it that way,” Kane said. “I don’t want to have a mother having to block her 4-year-old son’s eyes from (topless Free the Nipple supporters) trying to make a point that doesn’t matter. There’s many beaches where, if they want to prove something, they can do so. Let them go there.”

    Braggadocio and Its Apppeal

    People Like A Strong Man

    Strong Men Make You Feel Secure

    "The trouble with life is: the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubts."
    --Bertrand Russell

    Last night I watched the West Wing Episode of "West Wing" in which the President's daughter has been kidnapped by men who demand the release of a slew of imprisoned terrorists in exchange for her release. President Bartlet invokes the 25th Amendment, by which he temporarily resigns the presidency and hands over the office to the Speaker of the House (the vice president having recently resigned), so he cannot accede to the kidnapper's demand, because he is no longer in power.  The Speaker, played by the inimitable John Goodman, is a blustery, straight talking oaf, who turns out to be just right for the moment.

    He is a Republican, and he stands in stark contrast to the cerebral Bartlet, who, the Speaker believes, overthinks everything, agonizes about killing "the bad guys."  The Speaker, as President, sends in the bombers and the Special Forces to destroy what are thought to be training bases in the home country of the terrorists. Of course, the home country is one of the last Arab countries to be at least nominally allied to the United States, and it is the country of the terrorist who President Bartlet killed because this particular terrorist was killing people and plotting to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge even as he was posing as the ambassador and exchanging gifts with the President in the Oval Office. Bartlet, after much soul searching, concludes the man is simply too dangerous to tolerate, and orders his murder/execution. Now, some of his countrymen, who may or may not have been motivated by that killing, have captured his daughter.

    The Speaker, in his new role as President decides to unleash the dogs of war and, as he says, who knows what will happen next? But it feels right.

    It is all so eerily close to President Bush's reaction to the 9/11 attack: Let's just go kill somebody; who cares if we got the right guys? We are pissed and somebody's gonna feel our wrath, and if it wasn't Iraq that did this, they probably know who did and maybe they'll get to those guys for us, just to take the heat off.

    When Barlet's crew watches the Speaker/President's press conference, they have to admit, they admire the way he's played it. They say he looks "Presidential."  What they really mean is he has said politically incorrect things which express what the public really believes. He dismisses objections that the United States has violated international law, saying there is no such thing unless everyone plays by the same rules and clearly terrorists do not, so they're not protected, which justifies our killing them without due process or anything other than a personal conviction these guys are the guilty ones.
    They Know How to Inspire

    It is the same simplicity of approach which Donald Trump follows:  Don't give me law and principle: I know what feels right and I'm gonna do it.  
    That sort of thinking, of course,  is what got us mired in the Iraq fiasco. 
    John Kerry pointed out that attacking Iraq after 9/11 would be like attacking Mexico after Pearl Harbor--attacking just anyone doesn't make sense. You really ought to go after the right someone. That argument never gained much traction among the public, spoiling for a fight. We wanted to find someone to charge up San Juan Hill and avenge an act of terrorism.
    A Good Glower Helps

    But what kept us in Afghanistan was something else, and a lot of that something else was legalistic thinking, worries about our "commitments" to some dummy government we helped set up and sustain.  When it comes to international relations, the idea that we are not all playing by the same rules,  and so we can make our own rules,  is a very appealing "truth."  It plays well on TV.

    It's played very well for Donald Trump, and not just for questions of international policy.  But it plays especially well there. When illegal Mexican immigrants become rapists and thugs, well, let's call them that and galvanize opinion around a strong leader. 

    REPORTER #1 [on TV]
    Doesn't the murder of a foreign official undercut our moral authority to
    condemn human rights violations in China and Africa?
    WALKEN [on TV]
    We live in the real world. Our moral values system only works if everybody
    plays by the same rules.
    REPORTER #2 [on TV]
    But didn't it violate the Neutrality Act protecting citizens of friendly
    nations from prosecution?
    Terrorists aren't nations,...
    Liz, Abbey, and Ellie are sitting on the couch watching the press conference.
    ...and the Neutrality Act doesn't give a free pass to people who support
    the murder of women and children.
    REPORTER #3 [on TV]
    ...violating international law?
    Abbey, deep in thought, gets up from the couch and leaves the room.
    WALKEN [on TV]
    International law has no prohibition against any government, superpower
    or otherwise, targeting terrorist command and control centers. And Abdul
    Shareef was a walking command and control center.
    Damn. Good answer.
    REPORTER #4 [on TV]
    You stated that as Speaker, you knew of and supported the assassination. Do
    you now regret that support?
    WALKEN [on TV]
    My only regret is that we only got to kill the bastard once.

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015

    Fred Rice: First for Trump, First in Hampton, First in the Hearts of his Countrymen


    Speaking about the Donald phenomenon on "The News Hour," David Brooks said that 10-15% of the Republican party believes President Obama was born in Kenya and educated in Manchuria to take over the United States government for the Chinese and Russians, so the fact that 20% of Republicans would be voting for Trump is no surprise; it's simply a reflection of the lunatic fringe which is no longer just a fringe in the GOP.  

    The Donald as Most Democrats see Him

    With that concept in mind, reading the seacoast online newspaper report of Fred Rice's new affection for Mr. Trump makes some sense:

    State Rep. Fred Rice, R-Hampton, said Trump impressed him Friday night. Rice has gone to see 11 of the 17 Republican presidential candidates this year, and Trump has gone from near the bottom of his list to the top.
    Rice said Trump is unfairly labeled as too brash and having poor character for a presidential candidate. He pointed out that the biggest roar from the crowd came when he told the auditorium, “You don’t want a politically correct president.”
    Rice said the fact that Trump is paying for his own campaign is evidence that he’s going to do exactly what he wants to do. Friday, Trump said other candidates are bound to the wishes of their campaign donors.
    “Nobody can buy him off,” Rice said. “He’s going to do the right thing, and he’s said that, and he’s going to do it the right way.”
    In regards to Trump’s transition from a more liberal past to his Republican candidacy, Rice said that’s nothing for voters to worry about. He noted that President Ronald Reagan was also a “card-carrying” Democrat years before he switched parties and became an icon for conservatism.
    “If (Reagan) hadn’t made that switch and people didn’t respect him, we would have missed out on one of the best presidents this country has ever known,” Rice said.

    Fred Rice represents Hampton, Heaven help us. What he especially  likes about Mr. Trump is he doesn't need money or help from anybody else. He can buy all the help he needs from his own coffers. So what is Mr. Rice actually saying? He is saying Mr. Trump does not need to listen to anyone else, doesn't need to do anything but what he wants to do. Now that is the heart of the Free Stater, right there. We don't need no frigging politician. We need a strong man who knows his own mind. We need a dictator.  

    As for Mr. Trump, if Brooks is correct, he will get his 20% of the Republican electorate, but he will not get any more than than in a national election when it's not just Republicans voting.
    Mr. Trump as most normal people see him

    Mr. Trump says he'll do better than any other Republican among Hispanics because he hires lots of Hispanics and they like him. He also says women like him and Joe Sixpack likes him, because someday Joe knows he'll be just like Donald, maybe not as rich, but almost.
    The Donald As Fred Sees Him

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015

    Female Army Rangers

    Love My Rifle More Than You

    I should start this by saying I have never served in the military, never had a shot fired at me in anger and only once or twice had armed men threaten me, and in those instances, they were trying to escape past me, not kill me. 

    Friday, the first two females to pass the grueling Army Ranger school will be anointed Rangers.

    They may never serve among Ranger combat soldiers in battle because at least some influential male officers oppose this.
    I have to hear the argument from male generals and grunts about not allowing women into the males-only combat teams and trying to understand the objections,  I have to extrapolate from my own experience, which may not actually be a reliable guide. 

    I can also draw from what little I know of history.
    She Beat Us

    I have listened to  North Vietnamese generals interviewed after the war,  and heard their analysis of the American soldier: Americans were not very good fighters, too slow, too weighed down by heavy equipment, too loud, too easy to see coming and too clumsy.  The 6 foot 220 pound American soldier was simply not as nimble as the 135 pound Vietcong soldier, who wore black pajamas, carried an AK47 and a pouch with a little rice and rat meat and could fire, fade back into the jungle and disappear.  

    I was reminded of that today, when I heard an American soldier, a woman,  who said she weighed 100 pounds at 5'1" and she said she had accompanied American Rangers and other Army regulars on patrols where she was supposed to be interviewing women in Afghan villages, but she carried a rifle and came under fire just like the big boys and she did well. 
    She said the major argument against undersized, under powered women was they cannot carry the same load of heavy equipment male soldiers can. She said there were male soldiers who were smaller than she was on patrol with her, and they could not carry much more load than she could, but nobody tried to exclude them.  She said wars are different now. Lugging a 50 caliber machine gun up a hill is not what you typically need to do now. You carry a light M16 and move fast.
    Could Kill Guys Who Could Carry More than She

    Fact is, our army of big, brutish Americans were beaten by an army of undersized Vietcong, both women and men, mostly under five feet tall and they fired their weapons, killed our much larger, more intimidating soldiers very efficiently, despite the size difference. 
    Not Big, Just Lethal

    I doubt the importance of being physically overpowering is all that important in most warfare,  as we are about to do it. Being smart and deceptive and being able to see the trap is probably more important.

    But saying the argument of the physical inferiority of female strength is not persuasive is not to say I'm sold on the idea of women in forward combat units. 

    I've seen what having women on the front lines in the hospital wards has meant. It's been a mixed blessing.  Women civilized the delivery of health care in important ways. They dissipated the locker room atmosphere in the on call rooms and on the wards and they faced down the naked misogyny I witnessed among the almost exclusively male hospital interns and residents. 
    But, in their insistence that the experience of the intern be made more humane, they also diluted the hard core ethic of the intern, who came to work no matter what and who stuck it out by the bedside of the patient no matter how bad a migraine he had, no matter how many times he vomited or shook with rigors.  

    Maybe, in the final analysis, a willingness to ask to be relieved from duty is good for patient care at the hospital.  Pediatric coverage in the hospital is actually designed for absences by pediatric residents, who get sick with such regularity, catching the viruses their sick little patients give them, they actually have "sick call" where a resident is scheduled to fill in for someone who feels too ill to go to work. We never had that in the Department of Medicine and the surgeons certainly did not.
    They Beat The Boys From Paris Island 

    I well recall the Emergency Room staff at Georgetown looking pretty pale and drawn and one of my favorite ER docs,  a wisp of a woman,  smiling wanly one dark hour in January saying, "We are sicker than 80% of the patients we are seeing here in the ER."  One of my colleagues had a child by C section on a Monday and was back on the wards in her spot in the rotation the following Sunday, which most people thought was crazy, but she was determined to show the flag and to pull her load.

    But now,  out in the "real world," (i.e. outside the university hospital) we see women physicians working 3 days a week, four or six hour days, retiring from practice at age fifty, with what adds up to years off,  for pregnancy and child rearing. 

     Women, with many exceptions, tend to be simply less committed, less dedicated to their patients and more likely to place their own children first and their patients second. They are more likely to say they cannot take the patient to the operating room because they are too tired, or have been up too long.  You don't see them come in as often at 3 AM, not as much as you see male doctors rallying to the flag at that hour.   

    I'm not sure if there's a correlate in the armed forces, but if something similar happens in the armed services, we should hear about that.  

    There was the story Kayla Williams told in "Love My Rifle More than You," about the sergeant driving the truck convoy in Iraq for 8 hours straight,  who refused to stop for two minutes so the female soldiers could pee.  The male soldiers, of course, could pee into plastic bottles while the trucks were moving but the female soldiers could not do that for anatomical reasons. There was no tactical reason the convoy could not stop for 2 minutes, but the sergeant wanted to drive home the point women do not belong out there with the men in combat zones. What he proved, to me at least, is he is a sadist and an idiot. You can bet those Vietcong soldiers accommodated their female comrades.  

    Sunday, August 16, 2015

    Show Me a Hero, and I'll Write You a Tragedy

    Mr. Simon
    "Show me a hero, and I'll write you a tragedy."
    --F. Scott Fitzgerald

    I was not at all interested in watching a TV series about a bunch of Black street thugs  selling drugs on the corners of Baltimore. My kids had to talk me into watching just two episodes. My older son had come home from New York for a visit, watched the first two episodes and refused to leave the TV room for the entire day, watching episode after episode and he made me watch "The Wire." 

    The thing about "The Wire" was that it was very dark--not really entertainment--but it was also darkly funny, the funniest show I've ever seen on TV. 

    So when I read about the new offering from the creator of "The Wire," David Simon, I knew I would have to see it, despite my misgivings. It's about Yonkers, New York, another place I have no interest in knowing about, and it's about the court ordered fight to build housing projects for the poor and affordable housing to which the white, middle class community objects.

    The white, mostly Catholic, middle class folks of Yonkers see this not as an effort to help a struggling Black underclass, but as an effort of liberal Jewish judges and "Jew lawyers" to place dangerous, drugged out poor Blacks among hard working, White, middle class people, while the Jew lawyers go home to Scarsdale and Westchester, protected by distance and money from the havoc and crime and danger which will acoompany  the desperate, poor Blacks in the projects.

    A city council member shows a poster at a meeting in which he points to images of drug sales in the projects and calls the whole notion of public housing for the poor a failed liberal idea, in which the burden of white guilt is forced upon the shoulders of White people of modest means, so the White people of substantial means can feel virtuous and safe.

    And he has a point.
    Hissoner, The Mayor

    But the transcendent point belongs to the mayor: the judge has ruled and Yonkers has to be governed by law.

    The judge is not the Pope, the defiant council member storms. We can fight this to the Supreme Court. But we've already spent $13 million dollars fighting it and even the Reagan appointed judges are telling us we will lose all the way to the Supreme Court, which is unlikely to even agree to hear such an open and shut case.

    So there you have it.  This show is not, if the first two episodes are any indication, David Simon at his best. But David Simon, even when he's only 80% is so much better than anyone else, he's by far the best on TV or anywhere.  

    Just another must see TV--add that to House of Cards, West Wing, Justify, Doc Martin, Call the Midwife and all the rest.  I'm not sure I'm going to have time for Downton Abbey, when it finally returns.  I'm not sure I'm going to have time to go to work, eat or brush my teeth.  What an age we live in.

    Saturday, August 8, 2015

    Candidates' Debate

    I admit, I did not watch the debate. I watched the highlight clips on the internet.

    I can only stand too much entertainment.  Had I a group of friends, enough alcohol, and time, I might have been up for it.  There will be opportunities yet, let us hope.

    What I saw of it, however was superlative. 

    There were surprises:  For one thing, I did not take Megyn Kelly seriously. I mean, how can you take anyone who spells Megan or Meghan as Megyn seriously?  And, here I know I will incur the wrath of Maud for running this picture. I know it's unfair. And I'm just only now recovering for running the busty photo of that Yale professor, but really, it's in the spirit of the night. Can I be forgiven?

    So here is a woman who presents herself in a certain way, a network which presents itself as a fun place, and yet the Donald and Chris Christie make her look, well, like the smartest person in the room.

    She asked Donald about his remarks about how ugly certain women are, how they ought not be taken seriously because they are too fat or too ugly and he replies he only said that about Rosie O'Donnell, and well, maybe a few others, but chiding him about regarding women as objects is just another effort at coercing him into political correctness which is what's wrong with this country. Well, that and the fact that we lose everything now. We don't beat up on anybody. We should beat up on Mexico because that's where the rapists come from. 

    Gotta like the Donald. He tells it like it is.
    And Chris Christie, too. Another straight talker, who ran into Rand Paul. Rand Paul chided him for giving President Obama a big hug (after hurricane Sandy) and that was a calculated, focused group moment and got a big rise out of the Fox audience, but Christie was ready for it, "The hugs I remember are the hugs I gave the families after 9/11."   Hey, the guy is ready to rumble, the big guy.

    Rand Paul knows American history. He knows about the Fourth Amendment, which hardly anyone ever talks about, because so few people know it, or if they've read it they go, "Huh?"

    "The right of the poeple to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized"

    So there it is.  Unreasonable search and seizure. Just try asking your neighbor what that's all about and why they made it #4 on the top 10 list in 1789?  What really amazes me is how those bewigged slave owners foresaw the NSA and mass data collection from cell phones and twitters and emails. Those guys were just awesome, dude. Like really. 

    What I really like about Rand Paul is his hair.  The Donald is so proud of his own hair, but Rand Paul's is just so... unruly. It's Libertarian hair. Like nothing is going to thwart the liberty of that hair. By comparison, Ted Cruz's head looks so plastered down in place--his hair is as up tight as his thinking. 

    Now I know what Ms. Maud will say: Focus on their ideas not their looks. Stop swinging below the belt. Don't descend to their level. But really, Ms. Maud, this is Fox News. These are Republicans.  Do they actually  have any real  ideas?  And they  are playing the looks and Frat Boy card relentlessly. Cut me some slack.
    Oh, and Ted. He got in there, saying all we need to strike fear into the heart of ISIS and to make those guys go away is a President who is not afraid to tell them if you sign on with ISIS, you are signing your own death warrant. Now there is a simple solution to the problem. Why didn't President Obama think of that? The other thing he says is wrong is Mr. Obama cannot bring himself to utter the phrase, "Radical Islamic terrorists."  If the President would just use the right words, all those nasty terrorists would just melt away, like cartoon characters in "Roger Rabbit" dunked into The Dip. And I use that analogy about cartoon characters advisedly.

    And, along the same line of thinking, Governor Scott Walker whose state does not (yet) have a major border problem (except with Michigan)  simplified the whole immigration issue with a simple solution of his own: Just secure the border (s.)  Another one of those, why-didn't-Obama-think-of-that moments. 

    Actually, there's only one border any of the Republicans seem to care about, that one in the Southwest,  with Mexico, you know, with the Rio Grande and the stretches of desert. Nobody is too worried about the West Coast, because that's all liberal land anyway (and nobody's going to get past the longshoremen's union along the California coast), or the Gulf of Mexico (New Orleans is scary enough no terrorist would risk that)  or the East Coast--who could even tell foreign terrorists from those East Coast liberals--or the northern border with Canada, the world's longest unfortified, undefended border.  Canadians, we just sort of ignore them and they never do you no harm no how, although some of them do speak French, which is sort of suspicious. (Just hope the NSA has some French speaking employees listening to them.)

    The thing is, the solutions to all the problems which we face are just so simple. Most of them can be summed up and solved in ten words each. You just wonder if Mr. Obama is watching and taking notes. He could leave his office to the next guy with a clean slate, problem free.

    I'm just saying. 

    Friday, August 7, 2015

    Free Staters and Freeloaders

    I missed it and I'm bummed. There was a presentation by Zandra Rice Hawkins of Granite State Progress about  the Free State Project at the Hampton Dems meeting, attended, I am told, by about a dozen regular Democrats and an equal or slightly higher number of Free Staters.  But I figured, this is the internet age: I can just go on line and read about the Free State thing and, sure enough, there is a Free State Project website. Problem is the website is all about how to join the FSP, how to move to New Hampshire, but I already live here. There is next to nothing on the website about what these people stand for (other than some vague notion of "Liberty in Our Lifetime") and not much about what they want to see changed.

    What I want to know is what, exactly, do the Free State folks believe? I'm less interested in their plans to get 20,000 people here, as a critical mass, so they can take over the state legislature (which has 490 Representatives) and create a new Promised Land of Liberty and bliss. What I wanted to know is: what do they think this paradise will look like and consist of?

    As I understand it from some who attended, the Free State brethren believe government is BAD.  Government should not do much of anything, including public schools, public roads, maintenance of infrastructure, police, public safety, fire fighting, public health, crime fighting, building bridges, inspecting food, protecting clean water, public libraries, maintaining the internet.  

    It does seem a bit mind boggling.  Government does so many things we take for granted, it's hard to imagine what life without it would look like. My mind drifts to apocalyptic fantasies, of men riding around with guns taking over supermarkets and food supplies, sort of like what they've got in Somalia now. Or maybe parts of Syria.

    I mean, this group may be taking anti social to an extreme, don't you think?

    Because I drive across the state line to Massachusetts to work every day, I can sort of understand the man looks with some approbation who at the Spanish speaking immigrant from the Dominican Republic, one of twelve children, whose parents could not support any of them, so he moved to the Commonwealth, where he gets free drugs and health care through Mass Health, where he does not work but gets unemployment and where he seems to live entirely dependent on the kindness of strangers, on the public teat. On the other, I do not resent this man, and certainly do not envy him. This is a life I'd not wish on anyone.

    But that is the other extreme. Most Granite Staters do not live on the government dole. Far from it.  But they do need their government.  They like driving on roads, having clean water, electricity, internet, public education, public beaches, some assurance our food is not contaminated and grocery stores.  

    As far as I can see, the Free Staters are an East Coast version of those little bands of families in the Badlands who try to live "off the grid."  

    There seems to be more pathology here than philosophy.  Is living with other people so very difficult you want absolutely nothing to do with them?

    Tuesday, August 4, 2015

    Shocking, just shocking! Planned Parenthood from Fox News

    Looking at youtube for the interview which shocked the Congress wherein a Planned Parenthood doctor and director of fetal tissue acquisition discusses the details about how to gather tissues from abortions for sale to medical research institutions, one sees immediately what a bonanza this photo-shopped, edit clip has been for anti abortion advocates and for all Republicans in Congress who want to establish their anti abortion, pro life, pro fetus bone fides.

    What is particularly galling to non medical folks who watch this video is the doctor who is talking about how best to approach the fetus to ensure no vital organs are damaged, so they can be useful to the researchers buying them is that the doctor is talking about all this between bitefuls of Asian food, picked up and popped into her mouth as she talks about body parts. Whenever you want to make a villain look really heinous in a movie, you show him talking about the gruesome crime while eating and enjoying a meal, because it shows how little regard he has, how completely separated he is from connection to mayhem. "So, Guido, you chop off his head? Or What?"  [Stuff spaghetti  in mouth]  "Yeah, those heads bleed a lot. You gotta let the blood drain from the neck. You know what I'm saying here?"  [Glug some wine.]

    Of course, doctors talk about things like this over dinner all the time. Around our table, where we have three doctors and a nurse, we often forget about the musician and the architect sitting there, who don't have our world view and we gross them out, until they object and we have to tone it down. Over time, actually, the architect and the musician have tuned out the talk and they continue eating without objection. I can only imagine a secretly recorded clip of our table conversation at home. 

    But listening to the doctor talk about how you can move the fetus around so the forceps used to grasp it does not injure the liver, which someone wants to buy is pretty startling to the average non medical listener. It's a little jarring even for a physician who is not an obstetrician. 

    And as the Judas goat interviewer prods the doctor about how bad it would look if it looked like Planned Parenthood were selling body parts and she agrees, casually, without adding, "Because we really are not interested in the money. We need those tissues if we are every going to wipe out type 1 diabetes, but we have to cover costs. It's a lot of work to harvest and preserve this stuff." It looks bad. In fact, if the New York Times is correct, she did say all that, but the operative who recorded her cut that out and she looks completely mercenary.  

    Actually, having heard really mercenary doctors talk, she sounds pretty mild to me.

    My own son used to talk about "harvesting" organs for the transplant service at the university hospital where he went to medical school, in New York City. They would page him out of class and he would get in the transplant van to Teterboro Airport and climb into a private Leer Jet and fly off to wherever--as far as Florida, get to the operating room where a young "donor" had just died of head wounds from a motorcycle accident or from an asthmatic attack, and they would remove his kidneys and pack them in ice and place all this in an Igloo ice chest or something like it and then go off to the airplane and fly back to the OR at the university hospital where another team put transplant it into a patient. If there was some delay at one end, they would go out to a restaurant on the transplant service's dime. He was delighted with that. Free food for a medical student cannot be beat. 

    Did they sit around somberly talking about how badly they felt for the "donor" for the poor kid's parents who had signed to donate the organs having just been told their son was brain dead? You can bet the transplant harvest team did not have that conversation. They did not want to think about that part.  It was bad enough seeing the donor splayed out on the OR table. They had to concentrate on the work entailed in removing the kidneys without damaging the blood vessels and preserving them so they would live again in another patient. But a video of these harvest people at a restaurant would have had Congressmen clamoring  for the microphones all around Capitol Hill. 
    "Oh, the horror! Oh, the callousness!"

    And now you can just see the gleam in the eye of every Republican in Congress, who wants to show what an upstanding, moral and righteous citizen he or she is by crying out in shock about this horrific, murderous, inhuman callousness.  

    "Oh, the shame! Oh, the horror!"

    We told you all along these abortionists were evil--now we see what really motivates them: It's all about the money. They want to kill these helpless infants because they are selling their body parts. They are making their boat payments on the hearts and lungs of these babies!

    Of course, nothing like that is happening.  And, if Planned Parenthood were smart, it would stop doing abortions and just do contraception, which the Republicans will never acknowledge is the best thing to prevent abortion--an ounce of prevention.  But Planned Parenthood will not back down. So PP will suffer and maybe be defunded, which would likely be the best thing for it. Don't take government dollars if you want to steer clear of the jackasses in Congress. It would work better for Planned Parenthood.

    The most powerful tool the right to lifers have ever had is the fetal sonogram. If you want to humanize a fetus, show the sonogram. People see clouds in the sky and they see horses, but they know those are not real horses. It's not so easy with a sonogram. The sonogram looks a lot more like a human being than the thing it is imaging actually looks like--your perceptual apparatus fills in the blanks. The real thing looks more like an earthworm, but you can't see that on the sonogram. 

    It's all about illusion and perception and the pro life (isn't that a great name--who is "against life"?) forces are masters at manipulating that. 

    Personally, I'm not voting for "abortion" over 21 weeks. Too close to actualization. But I've got no major problem with 9 weeks.  But that's an opinion which took several years of study to form. When you present it to the uncomprehending public and ask for a first blush opinion, what do you expect?

    Not so good, however, for the women who cannot afford care anywhere but Planned Parenthood, especially if Medicaid and Medicare and all government programs are out of the picture.  

    Saturday, August 1, 2015

    How Republicans Grew to Hate Business: The Ex-Im Bank Story

    How Often Republicans Used to Hate Business: Until Now 

    Today's New York Times carries a column by Joe Nocera about the efforts of conservative Republicans to kill an agency of the federal government called the Export-Import bank. Among the startling quotes, one came from the CEO of Boeing who said about the effort to kill the Ex-Im bank:  "I never thought I'd see the day that U.S> companies would, in effect, be penalized for not setting up shop overseas and, in the case of Boeing, expanding our domestic production and work force by billions of dollars and thousands of jobs." 

    What he is talking about is that if Boeing moves offshore, they have access to loans which would be denied in the U.S. if the Ex-Im bank is shut down.

    Now, I am the first to admit, I know nothing about banking and business, but it is a strange thing to see a CEO of a big American corporation complaining about Republicans in Congress. The Republicans were supposed to be the party of big business.  Caterpillar's CEO isn't any happier. Both companies export hugely to the rest of the world, and in dollars, Boeing is the top American exporter.  

    Small businesses are also helped by the Ex-Im bank when buyers in Afghanistan or India wants a loan to buy from an American company. And when all those little shops in Pennsylvania or New Hampshire which make parts for a GE and GE exports lag, the effect ripples downstream.

    Reading Hedi Heitcamp's (D-ND) say this is "Mind boggling idiotic" my own brain started to boil.
    Senator Heidi Heitkamp

    But I have learned something, over the years. One is that I tend to boil over and fulminate, when I should learn from Maud. Now, I ask myself, not "What would Jesus do?" but "What would Maud do?"  Would Ms. Maud explode in outrage over the mind boggling idiocy of these Congressional Republicans? Would she fulminate? Would she rage about a banking system she knew nothing about?  No, she would go to the internet and she would read and she would learn and only then would she explode. Or not, depending on what she found.

    So I went to the net and started reading about the Ex-Im bank and tried to read what its detractors say.  Aude alterum partum, Hear the other side.

    You know: you learn; you grow.

    So why does the new majority leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy, say this?
     “It’s something that the private sector can be able to do,” McCarthy said on Fox News Sunday. “One of the biggest problems with government is they go and take hard-earned money so others do things that the private sector can do...I think Ex-Im Bank is…something government does not have to be involved in. The private sector can do it."

    The more I read, the more it looks like this:  The new Republicans in Congress believe everything the government does could and should be done better by anyone but government, to wit, the vaunted (and sometimes imaginary) PRIVATE SECTOR. So if there were no Ex-Im bank, private banks would do the lending and better.

    But would the private sector pick up the slack if the Ex-Im bank went away? What people at Boeing and in the business community are saying is: Not likely. When the motive for the lender is maximizing profit, a lot of loans don't get made if the bottom line does not look attractive enough; but with a government, non profit agency, if the number of jobs created, the positive effects on the American economy are factored into the equation, the loan gets made and the production lines roll.

    We, of course, have seen the corrosive effects of the bottom line mentality in medicine for years where all considerations of patient convenience, patient safety, patient comfort have been shoved aside and quarterly profit statements substituted.  An obvious example is the two year shuffle: in corporate medicine doctors are given a two year contract and when their time comes to renew, their salaries are cut in half and so they leave.  So patients are faced with constant turnover in their doctors, with doctors who are re learning them.  Turnover is not a problem for the bottom line for the healthcare corporations, only for the customers, but since 90% of patients are seen by corporate doctors, the patients really don't have better choices elsewhere. The private sector in action.

    In the end, I'm convinced the Republicans in Congress who are set to kill the Ex-Im bank are, as the good Senator from North Dakota says, idiotic. They are idiotic because they cleave to the new mantra of the newly ultra right Republican party: The only good government is a dead government.