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From “Achievetrons,” by Lewis H. Lapham, in the March 2009 Harper’s
President Barack Obama’s Christmas shopping for cabinet officers in
December of last year prompted the national news media to rejoice in
the glad tiding that his campaign slogan, “Change you can believe in,”
was just and only that, a slogan. Instead of showing himself partial
to “closet radicals” who might pose some sort of deep downfield threat
to the status quo, Obama was choosing wisely from the high-end, happy
few, dispensing with “the romantic and failed notion” that individuals
never before seen on the White House lawn could provide the “maturity”
needed “in a time of war and economic crisis.” David Brooks assured
his readers in the New York Times that the incoming apparat, its
members “twice as smart as the poor reporters who have to cover them,”
embodied “the best of the Washington insiders.” “Achievetrons . . .
who got double 800s on their SATs,” said Brooks, taking pains to list
the schools from which they had received diplomas (Columbia, Harvard,
Wellesley, Harvard Law, Stanford, Yale Law, Princeton, etc.) attesting
to the worth of their wise counsel. Karl Rove, former advance man for
President George W. Bush, informed the Wall Street Journal that Tim
Geithner (Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins) as secretary of the Treasury and
Larry Summers (M.I.T., Harvard) as director of the National Economic
Council were “solid picks,” both investments rated “reassuring” and
“market-oriented.” Max Boot, contributor to Commentary and visiting
fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, advised the wandering
spirits in the blogosphere that “only churlish partisans of both the
left and the right” could quarrel with the naming of Hillary Clinton
(Wellesley, Yale Law) as secretary of state and Robert Gates
(Georgetown) as secretary of defense, appointments that “could just as
easily have come from a President McCain.”
So the banks were too big to fail and now, apparently, health care is too big to fix, at least the way a majority of people indicate they would like it to be fixed, with a single payer option. President Obama favors a public health plan competing with the medical cartel that he hopes will create a real market that would bring down costs. But single payer has vanished from his radar. Nor is single payer getting much coverage in the mainstream media. Barely a mention was given to the hundreds of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who came to Washington last week to protest the absence of official debate over single payer. — “Bill Moyers: How Can We Expect an Industry That Profits from Disease and Sickness to Police Itself?” by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, AlterNet.org
Harper’s Luke Mitchell on why America won’t get the health-care system it needs (on video); Paul Krugman: “You see, we actually have a real live case of impressive cost control in health care: the VA system”; the “Canadian rationing canard”
She came, she cut, she ate— and now, after gobbling seal heart raw, Governor General Michaelle Jean is tasting the inevitable wave of political indigestion. “Neanderthal” and “blood lust” were some of the phrases animal-rights campaigners used today to describe Jean’s cultural encounter in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, in which the Queen’s representative sliced off and sampled a piece of seal heart from the dripping carcass of a freshly slaughtered seal. “It amazes us that a Canadian official would indulge in such bloodlust,” said Dan Mathews, senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “It sounds like she’s trying to give Canadians an even more Neanderthal image around the world than they already have.” — “Row erupts over Governor General’s seal taste,” Mitch Potter, The Star
Dean Baker: “The economy is continuing to contract rapidly”; GE predicts $25 billion in green revenue in 2010, about 25 times what it spent from 1990 to 2007 “addressing PCB-related issues” in the Hudson River and elsewhere (see also)
The “Lawsuit Zeus,” also known as “Johnny Sue-nami,” filed a lawsuit this week in federal court seeking an injunction to stop the Guinness Book of World Records from naming him as the person who has filed the most lawsuits in the history of mankind. Jonathan Lee Riches, aka Irving Picard, filed his latest legal fight this week in the Richland office of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, although he is incarcerated in the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Ky. Riches alleges that Guinness is planning to print false information about the number of lawsuits he has filed, which he says is more than 4,000 worldwide. And he objects to the names Guinness intends to call him, including: “The litigator crusader,” the “duke of lawsuits,” “Johnny Sue-nami,” “Sue-per-man” and the “Patrick Ewing of suing.”
For the past three years my dosimeter had sat silently on a narrow shelf just inside the door of a house in Tokyo, upticking its final digit every twenty-four hours by one or two, the increase never failing — for radiation is the ruthless companion of time. Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly. During those three years, my American neighbors had lost sight of the accident at Fukushima. In March 2011, a tsunami had killed hundreds, or thousands; yes, they remembered that. Several also recollected the earthquake that caused it, but as for the hydrogen explosion and containment breach at Nuclear Plant No. 1, that must have been fixed by now — for its effluents no longer shone forth from our national news. Meanwhile, my dosimeter increased its figure, one or two digits per day, more or less as it would have in San Francisco — well, a trifle more, actually. And in Tokyo, as in San Francisco, people went about their business, except on Friday nights, when the stretch between the Kasumigaseki and Kokkai-Gijido-mae subway stations — half a dozen blocks of sidewalk, which commenced at an antinuclear tent that had already been on this spot for more than 900 days and ended at the prime minister’s lair — became a dim and feeble carnival of pamphleteers and Fukushima refugees peddling handicrafts.
One Friday evening, the refugees’ half of the sidewalk was demarcated by police barriers, and a line of officers slouched at ease in the street, some with yellow bullhorns hanging from their necks. At the very end of the street, where the National Diet glowed white and strange behind other buildings, a policeman set up a microphone, then deployed a small video camera in the direction of the muscular young people in drums against fascists jackets who now, at six-thirty sharp, began chanting: “We don’t need nuclear energy! Stop nuclear power plants! Stop them, stop them, stop them! No restart! No restart!” The police assumed a stiffer stance; the drumming and chanting were almost uncomfortably loud. Commuters hurried past along the open space between the police and the protesters, staring straight ahead, covering their ears. Finally, a fellow in a shabby sweater appeared, and murmured along with the chants as he rounded the corner. He was the only one who seemed to sympathize; few others reacted at all.
Number of U.S. congressional districts in which trade with China has produced more jobs than it has cost:
Young bilingual children who learned one language first are likelier than monolingual children and bilingual children who learned languages simultaneously to say that a dog adopted by owls will hoot.
An Oklahoma legislative committee voted to defund Advanced Placement U.S. History courses, accusing the curriculum of portraying the United States as “a nation of oppressors and exploiters.”
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“He could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein — literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.”