Monday, September 29, 2014

Why the Moment of Truth is Coming for Red States that Rejected Obamacare

by Nomad

As more and more reports come in about the benefits of Obamacare, governors of Red States, some analysts predict, are soon going to feel the heat from the miffed voters.

Few could call Forbes a flagship of the liberal press so when it posts a negative article against conservative policy, it must send a few night-terrors into the sleep of Republicans.

Good News and Bad Tidings
Last week, for conservatives, Forbes was the bearer of bad tidings. Obamacare isn't so bad after all. and as the article says, for the governors of red states who had once been so quick to reject the Medicare expansion, things are going to get a little worrisome.
A new report showing the continued pileup of unpaid medical bills in states that didn’t expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is escalating criticism on these Republican-led areas of the country to expand the health insurance program for the poor.
True, the report did come from the Obama administration who- conservatives would say- would have every reason to paint a rosy picture. Yet, sooner or later, the facts will spill out one way or the other. And the Obama administration's figures were bound to come under close scrutiny. 

Moreover, the figures from other sources are all pointing in the same direction. In spite of its rocky kickoff, Obamacare hasn't been the predicted disaster. The fears of socialized medicine, promoted by the likes of Sarah Palin, Louie Gohmert, Michele Bachmann, Betsey McCaughey, and last and not least, Rush Limbaugh were unfounded, especially when compared to the benefits to Americans. (They are still peddling their malicious nonsense, unchallenged by the media.)
The fear-mongering of "death panels" was well-financed, well-promoted poppycock for the low-information, hate-driven voter or the perpetually gullible.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why the Turkish Lifting of Head Scarf Ban and New Student Dress Code Has Secularists Shuddering

by Nomad

Turkey's long-standing headscarf ban has been the bane of conservative religious groups for years. The ruling party has just issued a new dress code for public school students which will finally see the end of the ban.
Here's why a lot of people aren't very happy about the new dress policy. 

To understand the news about Turkey's headscarf controversy, it is helpful to realize how important symbolism can be. Especially the religious kind.

Back in the 1920s, when Mustafa Kemal established the modern Turkish Republic from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, he was determined to break with the theocratic tendencies of the past. 
The so-called "Father of the Turks" believed the excessive influence of religion in all aspects of life, but especially in politics and in state affairs had led only to backwardness. Secularism, Kemal believed, was the solution.

In his effort to set up a secular forward-thinking republic, he banned most of the articles of religious symbolism, like the wearing of the fez and beards for men and the Islam-mandated covering for the women. In all public buildings and government schools, fezzes and headscarves were formally banned. 
(If that sounds incredible or high-handed, remember this is a man who changed the Turkish alphabet from Arabic script to Latin letters practically overnight.) Until the religious-based AKP party took the reins of government, that ban had gone unchallenged.

The Headscarf Cultural War
Like all government workers, public school teachers and students were forbidden to wear headscarves in school. In the private sector had for the most part followed suit with its employees.

For religious conservatives this headscarf ban has long been a thorn in the side. They have successfully defeated the ban. And they couldn't have done it without the help of Europe.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Price of Apathy

by Nomad

The mid-term elections that put the Tea Party in Congress was real-life demonstration of Plato's observation. The question is whether American voters are still as apathetic as they were then. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Food Caravans: Why Birmingham Alabama is Putting Produce Markets on Wheels

by Nomad

The city of Birmingham, Alabama is trying out an urban project to bring healthy food to neighborhoods in need. 

In past blog posts we have taken a look at the problem of "food deserts." Where deserts are places with limited water or limited access to whatever water is there, food deserts are  areas where residents may not have access to affordable and healthy food options. 
That's particularly true when it comes to the healthy alternatives (fresh fruit and vegetables).   
According to a report prepared for Congress by the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, about 2.3 million people (or 2.2 percent of all US households) live more than one mile away from a supermarket and do not own a car.
There's no mistaking it. The problem cuts down racial and class lines. Food deserts can be most generally found in communities of color and low-income areas (where many people don't have cars). 

In contrast, wealthier parts of town, studies tell us, have three times as many supermarkets as poor areas. And white neighborhoods have on average up to four times as many supermarkets as black neighborhoods. To make matters worse, grocery stores in African-American communities are usually smaller with less selection. 
It's only a slight exaggeration to say that in some poorer sections of urban America,  it could be easier to buy illegal drugs than to find a healthy meal for a family.
So, that's the problem, but what are the solutions?  

Birmingham's Bright Idea
Well, the city of Birmingham, Alabama has approved of a innovative plan to bring the food to those who most need it. 
The board of supervisors for the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA) has approved of the city's plan to create so-called "mobile food markets." 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Donald Trump's Politics: Where Ignorance and Arrogance Collide

by Nomad

The other day, Donald Trump accidentally revealed his shocking ignorance of the US political system. It shouldn't have surprised anybody.

Despite all of Trump's self-aggrandizing boasts, the real question is why anybody in their right mind would take his advice about anything.

When mogul Donald Trump endorses his favorite politician it must be a very a mixed blessing and a dubious honor to be the object of his affection. If Mr.Trump loves anybody in this world (and that's iffy) it is only Donald Trump. A Trump endorsement serves only one purpose: to attract much more attention to Trump. 

In the case of Senator Mitch McConnell, Trump managed to turn the benefit of a high profile endorsement into just another case of Trump making a jackass of himself before the whole dang world. 

Trump's obvious attempt to slag McConnell's challenger, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, spectacularly backfired the other day. Trump tweeted:

Unfortunately for Trump (and the rest of the nation) McConnell is a Senator, not a Congressman as Trump seems to think. Somebody should have told Trump that Congress is composed of two houses of Congress and .. oh, never mind, Trump would have probably nodded his frizzy uncooperative head, blinked back and fired a unpaid intern.

The problem is that it's so much harder to blame your underlings when you have tweeted something awfully dumb like this. (Rick Perry just said his stupid tweet was "unauthorized" and left it to our imaginations.)

What kind of excuse can he make for his obvious ignorance about the fundamentals of US politics? On the other hand, Trump has never let stupid mistakes or dumb remarks (or bad hair days) stop him plowing on towards the next dumb thing.   

Trump loves to dole out sage advice. It makes him seem important. He thinks. Mr. Trump spends all day thinking up precious gems like this:
Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that's more productive.
In fact, this could be perfect advice to give Senator McConnell. 

Being a winner is something that Trump pretends to know all about but in fact, his record isn't particularly impressive.