Tag Archives: op-ed

Noonan tsk-tsks Putin. Putin would now prefer to die.

Peggy Noonan reads some Vlad Putin and then concern trolls.

He twisted the knife and gloated, which was an odd and self-indulgent thing to do when he was winning.

Normally it’s the losers who are all “Look at me!” while stabbing you in the liver.

In any case, the steely-eyed geopolitical strategist has reminded us that he’s also the media-obsessed operator who plays to his base back home by tranquilizing bears, wrestling alligators and riding horses shirtless, like Yul Brynner in “Taras Bulba.”

I’d like to see Peggy riding a horse shirtless. With her hand under her chin and her head tilted in a thoughtful way, the thundering stallion in full gallop across the plains of Stolichnaya, with the sounds of drunken bongos…

Mr. Putin’s challenge to the idea to American exceptionalism was ignorant and tone-deaf. The president had thrown in a reference to it at the end of his speech. Mr. Putin, in his essay, responded: “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.” After all, he said, God made us all equal.

My goodness, that argument won’t get you very far in America…


…America is not exceptional because it has long attempted to be a force for good in the world, it attempts to be a force for good because it is exceptional.

There’s the epigram you’ll find calligraphy’d in pubescent sans on a slice of stationery in Peggy’s locket.


Richard Cohen walks around Occupy Wall Street, can’t see the anti-semitism

Richard Cohen fact-checks Jenifer Rubin. He’s a brave man for walking amongst our friends without an IDF attachment:

Where are the anti-Semites of Occupy Wall Street?
By Richard Cohen, Published: October 24

Reckless Jew that I am, I muscled my way into the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Lower Manhattan despite multiple reports of virulent and conceivably lethal anti-Semitism. Projecting an unvarnished Semitism, I circled the place, encountering nothing and no one to suggest bigotry — not a sign, not a book and not even the guy who some weeks ago held up a placard with the instruction to Google the phrase “Zionists control Wall St.” Google “nut case” instead.

Gee. Hard to believe.

This was my second visit to the Occupy Wall Street site and the second time my keen reporter’s eye has failed to detect even a hint of the anti-Semitism that had been trumpeted by certain right-wing Web sites and bloggers, most prominently Bill Kristol . .

Kristol’s cri de wolf (a French term of my own invention) was taken up by Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post’s conservative blogger, who noted the Kristol group’s “eye-popping ad.” Citing an article from Israel Today that linked a single statement by someone named Patricia McAllister in Los Angeles with some vitriol on the American Nazi Party’s Web site and a reference to the editor of Adbusters, she fashioned a veritable pogrom out of pretty close to thin air and demanded, “Where is the outrage?” I have a better question: Where are the anti-Semites?

How about: where are the Semites? Down at the protest. They’re just too young and too busy to bother with haggard Jennifer Rubin’s dogshit.


David Brooks asks you to please die

I suppose I could’ve come up with a better title, but David Brooks doesn’t earn anything more sophisticated. His New York Times op-ed on ‘end of life’ care and its costs to society is a dismal attempt at meaningful thoughts.

Rather than composing something insightful and provocative, seeing as we’re dealing with our deaths, in Death and Budgets he writes a cliche. It’s what you’d expect from a Conservative sharp enough to earn the routine praise of “He’s not that bad.”

It was a post from the wittier and far more engaging Dudley Clendinen that inspired Brooks to his latest humdrum. Dudley is dying from one of the most awful, most cruel afflictions, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Lou Gehrig’s disease. It will rob him of all his fundamental neurological functions: movement, speaking, eating, crapping and breathing. Dudley knows his future, and he’s made his plans:

When the music stops — when I can’t tie my bow tie, tell a funny story, walk my dog, talk with Whitney, kiss someone special, or tap out lines like this — I’ll know that Life is over.

It’s time to be gone.

That is awesome courage. It’s humbling to be aware of what he faces and how he’s chosen to die. Dudley will kill himself. I thank the stars for my having avoided challenges even half as terrifying, so far. I hope my luck continues.

Reflecting upon the life and approaching death of Dudley, David Brooks appreciated something else; he was struck by the appropriateness of it all. Why don’t more people do this? If only they knew.

Clendinen’s article is worth reading for the way he defines what life is. Life is not just breathing and existing as a self-enclosed skin bag. It’s doing the activities with others you were put on earth to do.

Ugh. I’d like to apologize for Brooks. I immediately recall the quadriplegics in the world who go on living difficult but meaningful lives, each an apparent “self-enclosed skin bag.” I think of the brilliant and productive Stephen Hawking, now 69. Brooks won’t sniff the edges of the boundless idea “What makes life worth living?” An over-simplification of Clendinen’s idea suffices totally for Brooks. Dreadfully lazy.

Lumbering forward, Brooks adds that our elder society aren’t really getting any better. They’re merely lingering in an enfeebled state.

Years ago, people hoped that science could delay the onset of morbidity. We would live longer, healthier lives and then die quickly. This is not happening. Most of us will still suffer from chronic diseases for years near the end of life, and then die slowly.

Huh? From where did Brooks conjure a “die quickly” objective? I don’t work in research any more, but I used to, in molecular biology. And in all my days, I never heard any rational person say that old people dying suddenly was either a likely or worthwhile development. It’s a senseless claim.

Brooks made this up, I think. If anything is the hallmark of poor medical care, it’s sudden death. This is what goes on in Third World countries, with their lacks of doctors and drugs and hospitals and research. Lingering death is what you get when you have good medical care, period. This is a good sign, David, and you should hail its arrival.

Knowing this, yes, it’s time to have some serious discussions. We are likely to end up in a chronic, debilitating condition. We should be thankful for the many years we had before we got there. But it is not incumbent upon us to bow out in a manner convenient to David Brooks . .

. . it is hard to see us reducing health care inflation seriously unless people and their families are willing to do what Clendinen is doing — confront death and their obligations to the living.

. . especially when you see what a dreadful animal of convenience he is. Clendinen, in choosing suicide, obliges no one but himself. He chooses to die, in the face of any and all of Brooks’ societal obligations, because that’s what’s best for him. Brooks comes close to lessening Clendinen’s wholly personal courage by tossing him into a utilitarian hopper. It’s clumsy and ugly, frankly.

And I can imagine someone else facing the same fate who’d write from the opposite perspective: that he or she would reject any other way out, that they would fight on, with all the indignities, to the bitter end. I promise you, I would be moved by that. And I don’t particularly care to think of what it means to society.

Accepting death in a manner appropriate to you is a daunting thing to ponder, awesome in its size and consequence. If we’re to take ‘end of life’ issues seriously, let’s avoid lazy parables. Let’s avoid lauding suicides as practical and good medical care as problematic.

Let’s also affirm that the growing tendency of the dying to be capable of hanging on is a positive development. This is a choice mankind never had before. Let’s agree lack of medical care prevented millions of people from getting the opportunity to say ‘yes’ to this particular fate. Let’s admit that David’s friends, the insurance companies, have been sentencing people to premature death for decades, and this is not a solution. It has been an anti-societal abomination. Let’s call out David’s buddies for their war on science and scientists in the form of Bible-based Creationism and head-banging Global Warming denials. When a medical ‘scientist’ tells you your condition will deteriorate and result in death, you’ve got to be able to accept his prognosis. Given the most important decision of your life, you’ve got to know he isn’t lying.

When everyone has the right to hang on long after perhaps we’d predict, then we can have a robust discussion about what’s best for all of society. After.


Notre Dame’s hilarious student cartoon: “What’s the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable? A baseball bat”

Soooo funny.

cartoon the observer

It was posted on the 13th.

PrideSource: The original version of the cartoon, which included the gay-bashing response of “AIDS,” was rejected by the paper. Both versions were posted on a blog presumably run by the cartoonist, but were taken down on Jan. 14.

The Observer is Notre Dame’s student-run daily.

After receiving so much negative attention, starting with the LGBT communities, The Observer apologized. They didn’t, however, do it by making any of the students who staff the paper or who made the crucial decisions say they were sorry, but by getting one of their Sociology Professors to post an Op-ed.

The two latest online responses:

Fri Jan 15 2010 18:04

Your school is an example of precisely what is wrong with the Catholic church. You have lost your way; instead of expressing compassion for the oppressed and the poor, you endorse gay bashing. Instead of building homeless shelters and hospitals, you blow the money on exotic cathedrals and the Vatican. Instead of working to end war, you work to obstruct civil rights.

If God is love, then your church has no God, because all you preach is Hate.

You are an offense to God.

Fri Jan 15 2010 13:56

It takes a GUEST op ed to get this one right?

Editors: Resign. That would have been the only plausible result if the cartoon had, for example, made a joke about lynching a racial minority. Why is a baseball bat to the head of a gay person less worthy of swift justice here?

Editors: Resign.


How to annoy your stupid Republican Facebook friends when debating healthcare (# 3): Whole Foods, John Mackey and the ‘public option’

Facebook guy:

Health Care Reform, And The Whole Foods Boycott
Monday, August 17, 2009 at 1:26pm

I haven’t been reading Sully as much as I did a few months ago, a practice partly started when he decided to take an August vacation. That doesn’t mean the quality of his blog has declined, but I suspect for me it was an indicator that I, too, should take a break. That’s too bad, because I almost missed the news that there’s a large movement to boycott Whole Foods as a consequence of co-founder and CEO John Mackey writing a shockingly commonsensical op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that, to his more liberal customers, amounted to a “turd in the punchbowl” as one of his less-broad-minded customers put it.

Cue the narrow-minded ‘customer’:

“Let’s not pretend Mackey’s op-ed was meant to inject new ideas into the health care reform effort. He wanted to squeeze a turd into the punchbowl. The changes he proposes would be a radical departure from the core tenets that (most) dems are trying to get through (employer mandates and the public option). So publishing his comments now, in the midst of a heated battle for hearts and minds, he is in effect trying to scuttle the current reform effort. The only thing “moronic” is thinking no one on the left would notice.

Christ, I love a good boycott, give me half a reason. Our money is the only thing we as citizens have any fucking control over anyway. You really think I shouldn’t “punish” a guy who tries to step on my political goals? I’m curious, would it play any role in your shopping habits to learn that the CEO of some company was actively working to curtail your gun rights? When is a boycott justified?”

Mmm, I feel ‘Turd’ guy wins. Facebook guy only triumphs in a contest where everybody pretends to be ‘reasonable’ and ‘rational’ without actually employing reason or rationale.

The fact that he (or possibly an editor) prefaced his piece with a Margaret Thatcher quote – “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” – undoubtedly provided a double helping of salt to that wound.

So what was his Dickensian, burn-the-orphans-for-firewood solution to health care? Here’s a bullet-point summary of his commentary, which you should really read in full:

Right then, here we go:

* Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

Hahaa! This tops your list? Name one person who wants a $5000 deductible health plan. Or an HSA. Name one person who currently gets decent healthcare by way of either one. I don’t know one. Seriously, Face, this is fucking stupid. And just how far will a savings account go towards healthcare for a person with one of those insurance-killing ‘pre-existing conditions’?

* Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. [This is the single biggest reason we have the current disaster of a system that we have.]

Holy crap, Face, double stupid. The biggest reason we’ve got a disaster is that the private-insurance-for-everybody concept is whacky: up-front money for no services. It’s un-capitalistic. It’s only a reasonable contract if the company is forced to provide services when the services are finally needed. The insurance companies have been cheating: they only take certain people, then they dump you when you request that they fulfill their part of the bargain. It’s no way to provide a national service.

So how do you force them to be honest? By having the government provide an ‘insurance’ option that can’t disappear. There is no healthcare reform without this, the public option. What you’re backing here, Face, is dumb and pathetic. Nothing but internet smoke and mirrors, web song and dance.

* Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.

* Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. [Or, why should I have chiropractic/holistic/etc. treatments covered when I will never use them because they are based on no science at all?]

* Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. (Although, as we have previously seen, Texas has very strict standards for malpractice suits and still has very high costs per patient.]

* Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. [Medical billing is sooo random. For instance, we just got a medical bill for $430 in copays for Helen's allergist. What? They couldn't have dunned her at the time she got the treatment? And of course there are the horror stories of $100 Tylenols in hospitals.]

* Enact Medicare reform.

* Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Ooooh, private donations, that will solve the problem. It’s too bad that people can’t currently donate money to…oh, WAIT–they can! And do!. Shockingly, the crisis survives: 47 million people have not been gifted comprehensive healthcare for the rest of their lives, just yet. Is this the perfect example of Mackey and Face’s impotent .22 caliber attack on the Nuclear War against Death and Illness, or what? They’d probably beg the government to put up billboards, too: “Health! You Can Do It!”

Now cue Mackey:

At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees express their benefit preferences very clearly-they want supplemental health-care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from their governments. Why would they want such additional health-care benefit dollars if they already have an “intrinsic right to health care”? The answer is clear-no such right truly exists in either Canada or the U.K.-or in any other country.

Thank you, John, for tossing up such a meaty fastball. I’d like to add that this is the stupidest thing I’ve read in a month.

Let’s see:

1.) I have the right to ‘free speech’. But if I speak a whole lot, it no longer exists? If I choose to speak more than John expects, it no longer exists? If I speak more than others, it no longer exists? If someone asks me ‘Would you like to speak some more?’, and I say ‘Yes’, it no longer exists? If I write a book, that would be ‘additional’ free speech, which indicates that it no longer exists?

2.) I have the right to own property. If I buy a second house, the right no longer exists? If John asks me ‘Would you like some more property?’, and I say ‘Yes’, the right no longer exists?

3.) I have the right to a court-appointed lawyer to defend myself. If John says ‘I can get you a great lawyer, for free’, and I say ‘Thanks’, the right no longer exists?

How did this Mackey get to be a CEO? I thought they were supposed to be smart.

More Face:

But because this doesn’t square with the political views of many of his customers, a lot of people went into full boycott mode. Radley Balko (who writes for Reason, as well as having a blog I’m sorry to say I don’t read nearly enough) recently posted a summary of why he’s doubling down on his purchases at Whole Foods after this fiasco got started. Snippy:

…The reason the boycott is moronic is that you’re punishing a company that does everything the left thinks a company should do in just about every other area (save for a few, noted below) solely because its CEO expressed opinions about health care that you don’t like. And I don’t mind that you disagree with Mackey’s opinions. But if they offend you, you’re way too damned sensitive. He didn’t say, “I think all Americans should have access to health care . . . except for black people.” That would be offensive. He put forth some proposals that he thinks would make the health care system more efficient. You can disagree with those proposals. But if you’re offended by them, you really have a low tolerance for offense.

Just what is this ridiculous reverence for the almighty corporation? Why can’t folks do as they please? People are in a difficult fight for a literally life-and-death issue, and this rich CEO writes an obnoxious, ill-informed missive that pisses off huge sections of his customers.

No, but don’t boycott his company, that would be stupid. Just because Whole Foods has benefited enormously from customers who are energetic and savvy about what decent businesses should get their dollars, what organizations reflect their values, that doesn’t mean anything now: they should all change their attitudes and habits entirely. Gee, maybe it’s the CEO who royally screwed this one up, and not the customers? Maybe?

…Just curious, if we get single payer, and the government does something you don’t like, where are you going to take your business?

I think the cool kids call this irony.

No, only the Annoying Dorks. We can boycott Whole Foods, but we can’t boycott the government. Okay, and…what? We shouldn’t want government healthcare? How about the FDA, EPA, the military–reject that stuff because it’s the un-boycottable government as well? Or we can accept government services, but only if we never boycott anything in the private sector, ever?

For the record, I think Mackey’s absolutely right.

Aw, Face, but you were wrong, and it’s on the record.

Previously: “How to annoy…#1.” “How to annoy…#2.”