Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday round up

  1. Someone the other day said that the Chinese lead in the Cold War era medal count chart is solely due to their dominance in the diving and weightlifting events. Well if you took out swimming and track and field, the US would also never have a chance of keeping pace with the Chinese. Each country is pursuing its strengths in a strategy designed to net the most medals...and in other news, the sky is blue.

  2. Utahns (and NBC) seem genuinely confused as to how to pronounce Beijing. This is the second such local story I have seen on the subject this week. So here goes: Běijīng. Mandarin is a tonal language: "Ma" in Mandarin has several different meanings (like Horse or Mother), but you pronounce them all differently via the length and infliction of the vowel (try it out for yourself here).
    [Prof. S. Robert] Ramsey said he believed Bay-zhing [the false pronunciation] came into usage because it sounded more foreign, more mysterious. Some in the West may subconsciously believe the harder-sounding "jing" sounds like a slur against the Chinese, he said.
    What strikes him odd is that the "zh" sound isn't used in the English language.
    "You have to work to get it wrong," he said.
    So now you know; no more excuses.

  3. I didn't know anyone in Bountiful had tatoos.
    City employees in Bountiful will need to make sure they cover their tattoos.
    City officials have banned employees from having tattoos in easily visible places in an effort to make sure employees put city government in a good light.
    The policy mirrors that of the Los Angeles Police Department, which bans tattoos on the face, neck, head and hands.
    City Manager Tom Hardy says male employees will also have to take their earrings out. The new policy includes a grandfather clause for existing employees who already have tattoos.
    This has raised a lot of stink for some reason. I hope Bountiful has an exception for truly culturally/religiously-based tattoos, like the Maori (some of whom are Mormon BTW) have. But otherwise, I don't get all the fuss. If anyone thinks that you can get a tattoo on your neck and still get an office job anywhere in the planet, they are sorely mistaken.

  4. I don't get platform fights. Does anyone outside of party loyalists/single-issue activists care about what is written in those things? Until the press/activists/the public actually start pressing a president who doesn't fulfill some plank, the platform documents are utterly worthless. A waste of paper. Don't make Al Gore cry.

  5. If you really are a patriot and a hero with lots of character, you don't go around telling people (even through your spokespeople or surrogates) that you are one or keep pointing to your act of heroism whenever you are criticized. Otherwise, you sort of look like you really aren't and that there might be something to the criticism.
Have a good weekend everyone and enjoy endless coverage of women's beach volleyball and more golds and world records for Michael Phelps, who has to be a robot or something.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

diversity, coming to a Utah near you

Interesting demographic projections:
[A] third of the state's growth since 2000 has come from minorities, according to Utah Population Estimates Committee data.
Utah is expected to be 20 percent minority by 2010 when the nation will be 36 percent minority, according to figures provided by University of Utah demographer Pam Perlich. Salt Lake County is expected to be 30 percent minority by 2010.
Two-thirds of Utah's minorities are Latinos, a group whose numbers swelled by 105,000 to reach 306,500 between 2000 and 2007, according to a Census Bureau report released last week.
Soon, being the anti-immigrant candidate is not going to be politicially tenable.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

our health insurance is insane

(image courtesty of Allstate Tax and Accounting Inc.)

My current health insurance is the best I have ever had--it gives my wife free pre-natal care (the vitamins, the checkups, the tests, you name it)--but it still attempts not to pay bills from my doctors and dentists occationally, although way less than my previous ones. And guess what, my insurance is run by the state government...if this is socialized medicine, count me in.

But still, I will lose this great insurance in a few months when my job ends. That last sentense makes perfect sense to Americans, but no sense to anyone else in rest of the developed world. Think about it, do you loose your car insurance or your homeowner's insurance or your life insurance if you change jobs or get divorced? But health care, for some reason, you do. What would you do to keep your good health care?
In a country where insurance is out of reach for many, it is not uncommon for couples to marry, or even to divorce, at least partly so one spouse can obtain or maintain health coverage.

There is no way to know how often it happens, but lawyers and patient advocacy groups say they see cases regularly.

In a poll conducted this spring by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy research group, 7 percent of adults said someone in their household had married in the past year to gain access to insurance. The foundation cautions that the number should not be taken literally, but rather as an intriguing indicator that some Americans “are making major life decisions on the basis of health care concerns.”
I was lucky that my wife's employer offered "domestic partnership" health insurance when we were engaged and I was still in law school. How many people do you know are stuck in a marriage or job they hate because of health insurance? Do you agree with me that it is crazy?

If you do, call Sen. Hatch (or your senators if you don't live in Utah) and tell him to support Sen. Bennett's (and Sen. Wyden's) Healthy Americans Act that would make health care fully portable from job to job and marriage to marriage. Among other things the next president needs to do, our health insurance system (and with it our health insurance) drastically needs to be reformed. Urge your Senators to support and pass this bipartisan method of radically changing the system and saving us all lots of money, time, and headaches.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

missing in action

I didn't want to talk about the Georgia-Russia mess for the last couple days because it was difficult to know which country started what, and why. But now that Russia finally decided it had proven its point and agreed to halt days after Georgia's unconditional cease fire, I think we should observe the following facts:

  • George W. Bush's National Security Advisor and, in his second term, his Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice, wrote her PhD dissertation entitled "The Politics of Client Command: Party-Military Relations in Czechoslovakia, 1948–1975." She was H.W.'s Soviet and East European Affairs Advisor during the key period after the Berlin Wall fell. She was supposed to be an expert on Russia and Eastern Europe/Central Asia.

  • June 16, 2001 Joint Press Conference with Presidents Bush and Putin:
    [Question:] And to President Bush. Did President Putin ease your concern at all about the spread of nuclear technologies by Russia, and is this a man that Americans can trust?
    PRESIDENT BUSH: I will answer the question. I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country. And I appreciated so very much the frank dialogue.

    There was no kind of diplomatic chit-chat, trying to throw each other off balance. There was a straightforward dialogue. And that's the beginning of a very constructive relationship. I wouldn't have invited him to my ranch if I didn't trust him. (Laughter.)

  • AFP wire report 19 hours ago:
    US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has also been noticeably absent on the diplomatic scene, having failed to interrupt her holidays to fly to Tbilisi in support of the Georgian government.

    Instead senior State Department official, Matthew Bryza, who oversees the Caucasus region was sent, two days later than planned, to join a joint EU-US mediation effort to win a ceasefire.

  • OK, so where was President Bush when the fighting broke out between Russia and Georgia?

  • August 30, 2005:

    And around that same time...
    After catching a Wednesday night performance of Spamalot (where she was booed when the lights came up), the Secretary of Insensitivity went shopping at Ferragamo on Fifth Avenue. While browsing thousands of dollars in new shoes (replacement dominatrix boots?), a horrified fellow shopper shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” For being so forward, Condi rewarded her by having her security toss the shopper from the store — and then decided to cut her stay short to, uh, do her job.

  • August 6, 2001:

    Why do we care about that document that Karen Hughes is handing President Bush...
    [9/11 Commissioner] BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 [2001] PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB [President's Daily Brief]?
    RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

    So what did the president do after he was briefed?
    Bush listened to the briefing, [Pultizer Prize Winning Author Ron] Suskind says, then told the CIA briefer: "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

Summer reruns, I guess.

Monday, August 11, 2008

when semantics matter

When is a junket not a junket? When you tote along a colleague from the other side of the aisle. While this article is over a year old, the same behavior keeps on happening.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) led a group of mostly freshman senators on a global warming trip to Greenland to see melting glaciers last week. But it really sounds as if Reps. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and David Obey (D-Wis.) may have gotten the best gig.

Murtha and Obey led a bipartisan trip to France for the ostensible purpose of visiting the new Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial -- for which they had secured federal funding. They also had a brief stopover in Paris for a ceremony at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial and briefings by embassy staff on the new French government.

The trip has caused something of a headache for Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) -- and not just from the wine. (Rehberg, some readers may recall, took a taxpayer-funded congressional delegation trip several years ago to Kazakhstan, where, after drinking several shots of vodka, he fell off a horse, got trampled by another, broke his ribs and allegedly called the locals "coneheads.") The Montana Democratic Party is attacking Rehberg for his participation in the week-long excursion to France and another trip this week to South America orchestrated by a group called the Montana World Trade Center (which also has hosted Democratic lawmakers in the past).
Thanks for journeying with me into the archives. Now resume your dog days of summer.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Still President Bush, portraying your dumb grumpy impatient jingoistic uncle.

(H/t DailyKos)
When my wife saw him during the opening ceremonies, she said that until you see him meeting with foreign leaders like Putin, you forget he is still president. His irrelevancy, still embarrassing Americans abroad.