Posts Tagged ‘newsweek


The American Fundamentalist – Tea Partyism

More reading material. I found the article by Andrew Romano in this week’s Newsweek, America’s Holy Writ, a nice summary of the Tea Party phenomenon. Follow the link for the story (Newsweek needs the support).

Exploring the Tea Party through the lens of fundamentalism is instructive. While many of the Tea Party group may be religious fundamentalist, that is not the point here. Their fundamentalism is based on the “scripture” of the constitution. It goes beyond strict constructionist thought or even the worship of the document. It is that there interpretation is correct and static. Or, as the article puts it: “Like other fundamentalists, they seek refuge from the complexity and confusion of modern life in the comforting embrace of an authoritarian scripture and the imagined past it supposedly represents. Like other fundamentalists, they see in their good book only what they want to see: confirmation of their preexisting beliefs. Like other fundamentalists, they don’t sweat the details, and they ignore all ambiguities. And like other fundamentalists, they make enemies or evildoers of those who disagree with their doctrine.”

That is the aha moment for me. It is like any religious fundamentalist. We know best. We have the answers. If you don’t understand, we will explain it to you. When you talk to a fundamentalist Christian, you are not going to change their mind, or even have a discussion on any issue. They have the answers right in the book in their hand. The earth is 6,000 years old. God just planted those dinosaur bones as a joke on scientist. They can tell you that their God is love while Allah is hate – while holding a book that expressly tells stories of their God telling his people to go and slaughter everyone in a city. They eat shrimp, they don’t own slaves nor do they stone anyone. But, they know that every word is the word of God. In the fundamentalist world, they don’t have to think about it anymore.

In this view, I can see the Tea Partiers as filled with fervor rather than just hate. It is no less alarming, though. They are a loud and offer something soothing: black and white answers, absolutism, a romanticized vision of the past. But, just as god, any god, would not create a human with a brain and then ask them not to use it, I don’t think the Founders thought they had created the end all, be all of a constitution. If they had, they wouldn’t have made room for amendments. Mr. Romano ends his article by quoting several lines from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to Samuel Kercheval in 1816. While in the confines of an article his clips serve, I think a fuller quote is even more interesting. (My emphasis added.)

“Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.
As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. It is this preposterous idea which has lately deluged Europe in blood.”



Don’t mess with my Newsweek!!!

I started to write a post about something I read in a magazine, when it struck me how few people are reading magazines laid out on their desk at lunch. There are still some of though who, as Newsweek editor Jon Meacham put it last night on the Daily Show, can hold a magazine without dropping it in their tapioca. I am a loyal and devoted Newsweek reader. I started subscribing in high school and haven’t quit – that’s over two decades.

During that time I have seen the magazine go through various overhauls, but the recent redo under Meacham’s reign has improved the magazine vastly. The focus has rightly shifted from trying to cover all the things that are being covered continually in the 24 hour news cycle to trying to shed perspective in longer, more in-depth coverage. I say, thank you!

So, I was obviously concerned with the announcement yesterday that Newsweek is for sale. Please!! Don’t mess up my Newsweek! I do believe that there is still a place for pint journalism – even if it is distributed on Kindles and iPads or phones. More than that, I think we all head a little bit closer to the cliff each time a serious journalistic source is eliminated. I am willing to pay for news, real news. I want journalist in the field. I want research. I want investigation. I will subscribe; I do. Come on, I know there are other people out there that read magazines besides me and my crazy friend who reads every magazine, but refused to use email. Which brings up the crux of the matter. My friend who doesn’t email, doesn’t even touch a computer is a very intelligent, well informed human. Yet, he will call me and say “did you hear…” about three days after I read it on Huffington Post. But, I’ve “heard about it”. I don’t usually “know” about it until I get my Newsweek or other news magazine. It is so easy to hear about things, honestly, you can’t help but do so. But to know requires time. To know requires sitting down (or propping the magazine across the screen of the treadmill) and reading. It requires thought and active participation.

My god, can you imagine a world without print journalism – regardless again of the medium in which it is delivered?

You can. Think Roger Ailes. Is this what we want? Entertainment based on current events and profit margins? That is not news. Without a reliable news source you do not have an informed electorate. Without an informed electorate there is no democracy.

We have got to solve this crisis in journalism. Jon Meacham may be heading in the right direction. PBS. (The only thing that mitigated my sorrow of my hero, Bill Moyers, retiring was the news that Jon Meacham would be co-hosting a new public affairs program in his stead.) We have Public Broadcasting and we have Public Radio. Why not Public Print? I’m willing to invest in that. Otherwise (shudder) we end up with cable news.


Psst! The Republicans are Hypocrites!

I just read this article in Newsweek  by Jacob Weisberg.  The fact that the GOP has been playing pure politics since Obama’s election is a surprise to no one, but Weisberg nicely details their hypocrisy regarding healthcare.

It makes me laugh when I hear someone take the administration to task for not being more bipartisan.  How can you be bipartisan when there is no one to work with?


Go Jump in a lake, Will!

I got the latest Newsweek a few days ago. As usual, I tried to make myself read George Will’s opinion piece. Normally, I get about halfway through before I can’t take any more of his pomposity and turn the page. Still, I try to get opposing opinions and generally he seems to be an intelligent man. This week, though, I made it all the way through and was stunned to discover he is a global-climate-change denier. Now every major scientist in the world agrees that the level of carbon in the air is reaching a critical point that will cause disastrous climate changes, yet Will’s opinion is that it is all hooey and he will look down his nose at anyone who dares disagree with him. Really, Will? Well, go jump in a lake. Better yet, jump in the ocean – and don’t worry, it is coming to you.

A new study is showing that glaciers don’t necessarily move at a glacial pace, the glaciers in Greenland are sliding twice as fast as normal, sliding ice sheets, lubricated by melt water, heading on toward the ocean. There is enough ice in Greenland to raise sea levels 17 feet.


Pyramid approach to Afghanistan

I have read/watched a few interesting things on Afghanistan in the last few days – Newsweek’s story on General McChrystal and the Taliban and a piece from Bill Moyer’s Journal. Links are below. They give two different views, but I end up with the same feelings. No matter what the choice is regarding our Afghan war, it is most certainly not going to be easy or pretty and we will probably have to redefine our definition of success. No one wants to be there. The public opinion is slipping. It is the “good war”, but it has gone on so long and has been handled so poorly that it is hard to stomach.

The Taliban in Their Own Words –

McChrystal’s War –

Rory Stewart on Bill Moyers’ Journal –

Seeing the war from the perspective of the Taliban was very interesting. They want the American occupiers out, yet they seem not to see the irony of being recruited, trained and commanded by “Arabs” (as they refer to the Al Qaeda operatives). It is not that they do not want occupiers so much as they only want Muslim occupiers. The article on McChrystal made me admire him and believe that he is correct to ask for more troops for a counter-insurgency. I would trust him to lead such a war. I’m just not sure that is the war that we are in. It seems that there would have to be a central government first. It was the piece with Rory Stewart that really congealed my thinking, though. We have to look at where we actually are. We are in a poor country without infrastructure. Our goals and models don’t make sense there.

What we need is Maslow’s Pyramid. We simply cannot address the other levels of the pyramid until the base is well established. Food, shelter and safety should be our first goals. Could this be done with fewer troops and more humanitarian services? Would the swing allegiance away from the Taliban and Al Qaeda? I think yes to both. Rory Stewarts idea of a decades long engagement is off putting, yet having a small presence with a realistic agenda is less alarming that hundreds of thousands of troops. Surely that could only lead to a Pyrrhic victory at best.



Read This!

I read the headline and got pissed off and then I read the commintary.  Everyone should read this – especially all those standing up and shouting that our healthcare system is the best in the world.

or here:   What’s Not to Like by Jonathan Alter


Health, Money & Healthcare

Everyone has an agenda. It makes it difficult to parse what is real, what is hyperbole and what is obfuscation. Or maybe I am just dense.

This hit me while reading a commentary in Newsweek on healthcare ( . If anyone cares to enlighten me about this item, please do so.

  • “The notion that the uninsured get little or no care is a myth: they now receive about 50 to 70 percent of the health care of the insured. If they become insured, their health spending would rise toward 100 percent; that would increase both government and private health costs, depending on how the insurance is provided”
    • My question is what 50-70% are they receiving. The uninsured are not receiving annual checkups and preventative care. They receive the high end costs of waiting until the last possible minute to receive care in an emergency room. This late stage care cost exponentially more. It would be much more cost effective to simply cover them upfront. Crestor – even without government negotiating prices with the drug company – is a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for care after cardiac arrest.

Much of what the article points out is true the plans being proposed don’t add up, yet none of them are set. Healthcare spending is out of control. It points out that it is a very hard sell and simply a difficult problem to solve. The article also lists a series of things that “might” happen if healthcare reform passes – all the fears. The fears play better than the possibilities. I actually favor a national system and it scares me too.

Still, as we talk about the costs of reform, we should also talk about the costs of no reform. How much does it costs businesses to provide healthcare? How much is it a drag on the business sector? How much do those late stage costs at the emergency room cost compared with the costs of preventative care?

Then you have the current system. You have those with no coverage, true, but you also have a very broad spectrum of coverages. How many of us covered are really covered effectively? Do insurance companies really look out for the insured’s interest? I don’t think so. A profit based platform designed to provide healthcare seems counterintuitive. On a small scale, take the insurance meeting at my husband’s office. They were told that their claims would always be denied the first time and they should just resubmit them. Are you serious? It seems it would be very easy to eliminate that kind of waste. On a more serious scale you have the case of the girl you died because her transplant was denied by her insurer. People took the streets to protest, they finally approved and she died shortly after. That is certainly a rare occurrence, but not an isolated case. The first order of business is to deny coverage of anything costly or find some way to deny or revoke coverage. A good business model, but it doesn’t serve the purpose of anyone’s health.

I don’t have the answers, but I am certain that we can do better than we are currently doing. Government healthcare has been demonized for so long that it is hard to embrace it. Still, it makes more sense than the patchwork, for-profit thing that we have now.