Even more precisely: Wouldn’t Hamas profit from another conservative Republican?

According to a recent interview, John McCain believes that Hamas wants Barack Obama to be president. Judging by past performance, wouldn’t Hamas profit from another conservative Republican?

Mark Kleiman, in an earlier entry, cites Andrew Sullivan’s suspicion that Hamas may be offering Obama a poisoned endorsement.

http://www.samefacts.com/archives/john_mccain_/2008/04/precisely.php

I have no idea if this is right. Judging by the record, however, I submit Hamas would benefit from the election of another conservative Republican? When George Bush took office, Hamas was a pariah–not only in the eyes of the U.S. government, but in the eyes of western Europeans, Arab governments, and many others who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Now the organization is an entrenched political force….

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harold-pollack/mccains-nonsense-about-ha_b_98786.html

Honor Malaria Day–Buy a $7 bednet to protect sleeping kids

Honor malaria day. Buy an African kid a cheap bednet.

This is a joint posting. I hope you will forgive me given the cause.

One of the few brights spots these days is that millions of Americans finally realize the importance of global health. Today is world Malaria Day. I was hoping to party with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to note the occasion. That probably won’t happen since my daughter has soccer. Instead I thought I would make the following offer to all scribners on the RBC. If you buy a mosquito bednet for a kid in sub-Saharan Africa, I will buy a copy of your book. I promise to pay full retail to honor the occasion and to email the receipt so you know I didn’t sleaze over to the remainder rack.

The charity link is

https://www.unfoundation.org/donate/donate.asp?program=malaria

This is one of my favorite charities. A bednet costs less than $10 and is among the most cost-effective things one can do to save lives.

A physicist’s casual aside reminds us that we have much to live up to this Passover 2008.

A physicist’s casual aside about elaborate calculations performed while in hiding from the Nazis reminds us that we have much to live up to this Passover 2008.

Passover is a time to celebrate with family, watch TV laughing and trembling with Yul Brenner and Charlton Heston as in his pre-NRA days. It is a time for remembrance and a challenge for us to address so many injustices that disfigure our world.

The power of this holiday hits home at odd moments. I was recently casually reading Abraham Pais’s Inward Bound, a magisterial history of particle physics. Pais was a distinguished theorist who helped understand the properties of strange particles and kaons. No, I don’t really know what these are, either. To the lay public, Pais is best known for the prize-winning biography: Subtle is the lord: The science and the life of Albert Einstein.

Reading through some fairly impenetrable material regarding 1940s quantum field theory, my heart jumped when Pais simply notes:

I gave an invited paper dealing with work done during the war, while I was living in hiding. I had often discussed my ideas with Kramers, the only physicist who knew where I was, and who would visit me from time to time, in my room in an attic in Amsterdam.

Without sensationalism or gratuitous personal detail, Pais described the various pertinent calculations conducted in that secret annex.

Talk about your greatest generation. (And talk about the worst possible dissertation advisor for the typical self-absorbed graduate student complaining about various barriers to getting his dissertation done.)

2008 is a pretty crummy year in terms of our nation’s predicaments at home and abroad. Our nation has much to worry about, and much to be contrite about, given our behavior on the world stage in the Bush years.

We can take comfort in the fact that we will have a new president soon. If President Obama, President Clinton, or President McCain is merely less disastrous than President Bush–Dayenu.

It seems hard to believe that our next president will be able to do much more than that in creating a safer and more humane world. Then again, our forebearers such as Abraham Pais accomplished great things under far more dire circumstances that we face in our little suburban sedar this year.

Obama unmasked as secret Marxist

As luck would have it, I myself took classes at Columbia University in 1981. My parents never knew that I spent most of that year hanging out in a now-defunct basement annex at City College of New York arguing the finer points of Marxism with a young Obama. We would spend hours arguing about how Karl Kautsky or Ira Magaziner would apply the insights of Leon Trotsky to health reform.
Friends would stop by. Sinbad would torment us with impossible trivia questions from Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program. Relations between Barack and Hillary were cordial. Yet even then, we could see the strain. Before launching a long spiel about improving Kibbutz crop yields, she would regale us with stories about storming the ramparts in Catalonia with Orwell and attending bullfights with a drunken Hemingway in Madrid. One day, James Carville stopped by. Emitting a gaseous belly laugh, he said, “Hill — that Lincoln Brigade tale is the biggest bunch of horsecrap since the cleanup after the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.” Barack flashed Carville a light-hearted smile. Tight-lipped, Hillary glared at both of them. “I’m not bitter,” she told me. “Anyway, he says I’m crazy.”

Before me is a New York Times essay, ominously titled “The mask slips,” in which William Kristol deconstructs Barack Obama’s garbled remarks at a California fundraiser. As Kristol describes Obama’s analysis of religion:

“It is the opium of the people.” Or more succinctly, and in the original German in which Marx somehow always sounds better, “Die Religion – ist das Opium des Volkes.”

Wow — that’s much more succinct.

Barack wanted to deliver the entire speech in German, to capture the nuance of the Hegelian dialectic. I objected. “Harold,” he replied, “I might as well give it in German. If I say it in English, some Republican will quote it in German anyway…”

Based on the reaction of conservative pundits, I’m bummed to have missed that California fundraiser. As luck would have it, I myself took classes at Columbia University in 1981. My parents never knew that I spent most of that year hanging out in a now-defunct basement annex at City College of New York arguing the finer points of Marxism with a young Obama. We would spend hours arguing about how Karl Kautsky or Ira Magaziner would apply the insights of Leon Trotsky to health reform.

Friends would stop by. Sinbad would torment us with impossible trivia questions from Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program. Relations between Barack and Hillary were cordial. Yet even then, we could see the strain. Before launching a long spiel about improving Kibbutz crop yields, she would regale us with stories about storming the ramparts in Catalonia with Orwell and attending bullfights with a drunken Hemingway in Madrid. One day, James Carville stopped by. Emitting a gaseous belly laugh, he said, “Hill — that Lincoln Brigade tale is the biggest bunch of horsecrap since the cleanup after the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.” Barack flashed Carville a light-hearted smile. Tight-lipped, Hillary glared at both of them. “I’m not bitter,” she told me. “Anyway, he says I’m crazy.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harold-pollack/kristol-lieberman-and-wil_b_97312.html

“There Is No Substitute for Victory” and Other Flights from Reality

Long ago, Douglas MacArthur proclaimed: “There is no substitute for victory.” John McCain has been repeating this bromide on the campaign trail. Maybe this is mere red meat intended for the Republican base. If not, McCain is on a dangerous flight from reality. These speeches make me wonder where he has been over the past five years, and whether he has any greater grasp of reality than MacArthur did in Korea…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harold-pollack/there-is-no-substitute-fo_b_96104.html

A small but important issue that involves no sex, evildoers, or conflict

In my short career as a health policy blogger, I have learned that any posting that screams “Screw the insurance companies!!” attracts many groupies who salute me with raised Zippo lighters outside the family home. Criticizing the purveyors of bogus links between vaccines and autism will also attract a crowd. These people deploy the same lighters to more hostile effect. Postings that address knotty problems that lack evildoers, hysteria, and conflict attract…well pretty much nobody. Consider S2743, the Financial Security Accounts for Individuals with Disabilities Act. Are you still reading? You may be the only one.

In my short career as a health policy blogger, I have learned that any posting that screams “Screw the insurance companies!!” attracts many groupies who salute me with raised Zippo lighters outside the family home. Criticizing the purveyors of bogus links between vaccines and autism will also attract a crowd. These people deploy the same lighters to more hostile effect. Postings that address knotty problems that lack evildoers, hysteria, and conflict attract…well pretty much nobody. Consider S2743, the Financial Security Accounts for Individuals with Disabilities Act.

Are you still reading? You may be the only one.

Continue reading “A small but important issue that involves no sex, evildoers, or conflict”

Why do we have a private health insurance industry again?

In my brief experience in the blogosphere, my first lesson has been that writing the words “insurance companies” reliably prompts the largest number of R-rated responses. This is not surprising, since people are so regularly provoked to the inhumanity and pervidity of our private insurance system. I and other not-especially radical folks increasingly scratch our heads to wonder: Why do we have this industry again?

Universal coverage, individual mandates, etc.

More than 80 clinicians and health policy experts have signed a statement noting the importance of health reform, noting the similarity across Democratic health reform plans, and noting the ways that one issue&#8212the individual mandate&#8212has taken on undue prominence in the presidential and health policy debate. Several of us associated with RBC are signatories.

Continue reading “Universal coverage, individual mandates, etc.”

The cultural production of ignorance.

This Thursday’s episode of an ABC court drama perpetuates the groundless and harmful myth that vaccines contribute to autism. Why are the penalties so low for spreading these falsehoods? Why does junk science (in its actual rather than its corporate bumper-sticker formulation) continue to attract such a following?

The presidential campaign can be depressing and dishonest. At least it beats prime-time TV.

This Thursday’s episode of the ABC series, “Eli Stone,” features a heroic, Grisham-style litigator who takes down a vaccine manufacturer for $5.2 million over “mercuritol,” a compound which the show coyly presents as a possible cause of autism. The whole thing is a thinly-veiled allusion to the thimerosal controversy. Despite all evidence, this faux debate persists because of the sincere but harmful actions of eccentric Congressman Dan Burton and a misguided segment of the autism advocacy community.

Continue reading “The cultural production of ignorance.”