Leaving for Gaza

Leaving for Gaza on Monday.. will be back on June 25th

Neal still waffling on health care

A hundred people showed up yesterday for a rally at Congressman Richard E. Neal's Springfield office on State St. We were there to see if we could win Neal's support for HR 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act.

Many groups have met with Cong. Neal to ask him to support HR676. He just keeps putting off a real answer. Yesterday he released the following statement:

“Since President Obama’s election, I have pledged to work with him to reform America’s health care system. I share his goals that comprehensive health care reform must be affordable, provide coverage options for every American and guarantee quality care. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, one of three committees in the U.S. House that has jurisdiction over health care, I am committed to passing real health care reform legislation this year. On numerous occasions, I have spoken with the White House and officials in the Obama administration about the importance of passing health care reform during the 111th session of Congress. I know they share my view that the American people cannot afford to wait any longer. As the debate in Congress resumes, I look forward to continuing my work with President Obama and the leadership in Congress to make health care affordable and accessible for every American.”

Well, blah, blah, blah.

Two days before the rally, a member of the Western Mass. Single Payer Network had a conversation with Neal's legislative aide Bill Powers about HR 676. The gist of it went like this:

  • Rep. Neal has already met with 2-3 groups regarding his stance on healthcare, and can't keep spending time meeting with groups over this single issue.
  • Neal's position on health care is not clearly articulated in any public place and cannot be articulated without a "longer conversation" but unfortunatelty Neal is not available to meet on this topic for at least a month-and-a-half or two months in the future.
  • When asked whether Neal supports HR 676 or not, Powers stated that Neal takes issue with how HR 676 is written, but does not necessarily object to HR676. Again, his position on HR676 requires a "more lengthy discussion".

Could Neal's lack of support for HR 676 be linked to the fact that his top contributer category is insurance companies? That's not the case for any of the other 13 U.S. Senators and Representatives in Massachusetts.

Unfortunately it seems as if President Obama has yet to come around to supporting a true single payer plan. His current proposal gives too much power to insurance companies. A good fact check on his plan can be found at PolitiFact. A real problem is that his plan mimics the Massachusetts model. Yesterday's Boston Globe sees the state's health care costs spiraling out of control, waits for doctors increasing, and costs keeping patients from accessing prescription drugs and doctors.

It's not too late to win HR676, but we have our work cut out for us.

Photos: President of Arise Don James, Shirley McCready and John Bennett from Mass. Senior Action, Liz Bewsee from Arise and Ashley from OutNow, Arky Markham from Western Mass. Single Payer Network, Sadie Centeno and Vanessa Rivera from Arise, State rep. Ben Swan, City Council candidate Norm Oliver.

That Smile.

The Smile.

(Hat tip, The Sartorialist)

Your life is never really the same after a vision like that.

Free Shop success

Kate and other members of the Glasgow Social centre set up a Free shop on Buchanan street last May Day Weekend. Giving away donated clothes to people with curious looks...
Kate Mackay: "we took to the streets with the free shop and it was an overwhelming success! had loads of really great chats with people and gave clothes to some folk that really needed them as well as getting the shoppers of Glasgow to think at least a wee bit, we got rid of over 95% of what we took out which is fab!"

Pubdate: Mon, 11 May 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

President Obama has called for repealing the ban on federal funding
for anti-AIDS programs that supply clean needles to drug users. His
drug policy director supported such a program when he was Seattle's
police chief. And last week, Obama's nominee to head the Food and
Drug Administration won praise in a Senate committee for her
leadership on needle exchange.

So advocates of the programs in the Bay Area and elsewhere were
surprised and dismayed when Obama's budget for 2009-10 proposed to
continue the funding prohibition that dates from the 1980s.

"We hoped that the president would seize the first opportunity for
lifting federal restrictions on this life-saving prevention
strategy," said Paola Barahona of Physicians for Human Rights.
"Denying people at risk for HIV a proven prevention intervention is
a denial of their basic human rights."

"Without the federal funding, we're missing people that we could
reach," said Laura Thomas, who heads the Drug Policy Alliance office
in San Francisco and volunteers at a local needle-exchange program.
"It's ridiculous that at this point in the epidemic, we're not
looking to science in determining what we're funding."

A similar view could be found on the White House Web site soon after
Obama took office in January: "The president also supports lifting
the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce
rates of infection among drug users."

That comment was erased from the site recently.


Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v09/n517/a02.html

An Open Letter to President Barak Obama

An Open Letter to President Barak Obama

April, 6, 2009

Dear President Obama,

In approaching the task of addressing you directly about a personal issue, I feel daunted by the abyss that separates the two of us in status and power. I am a retired public health physician, attempting to maintain a hold on his sanity and physical health by puttering around his garden in a Palestinian village in Galilee. You are the president of the nation most of humanity envies and desires to join, burdened with the task of saving the world from economic and political chaos and now from nuclear war.....


The link for this blog was sent by a friend. here is the link to the rest of the blog.

Christian love. (Charity)

Charity is a potency which in actualisation, perfects.

Use the Force, Luke.

Commentator Tom made the following comment in the previous blog entry:

If someone's love for you is truly unconditional and does not depend on what you are and what you do, what about you is truly being loved?

I've been mulling about this for a few days and for the few of those that are interested in my thoughts here they are.

When we think of love, we though our culture, are conditioned to think of it in a sentimental way. The feelings which are associated with love are pleasurable. The love we have towards our children, friends, partners and things is a positive experience, and we delight being in being in it's state. Couples who have drifted apart try to "rekindle" that feeling in order to draw themselves closer to each other. We associate love with a positive feeling which comes about as a result of existence of the beloved.

Considered that way, in the absence of a beloved , there can be no love. In fact conceptualised as such, love is a second order phenomena; there must be a beloved before there is love. This however makes love a response, a reaction to something, a responsive sentiment. The object which elicits this sentiment usually is in possession of some excellence or good which we recognise and respond positively to. We may love a woman because of her beauty or character, our country because of its particular features, our friends because of their good natures, the love is always a consequence of some excellence in the beloved. Our beloved generates feelings in us which continue to be sustained in the presence of the beloved and since the feelings are pleasurable, we seek to maintain them. Should we loose our beloved, the ensuing deprivation grieves us and we seek the beloved return.

It should also be apparent then devoid of excellences, a thing can be unlovable. A hideous man or woman elicits repulsion, a bad character, disgust and so on. Indeed our reactions to other things may be that of indiffernce or repulsion. We pass people on the street and think nothing of them, we read about awful criminals and are revolted by their behaviour, not seeing any goodness in either we a devoid of the loving sentiment toward them and hence don't mourn their loss.

Clearly then, love thus conceptualised, is a pleasureable sentiment elicited by the qualities in another. This type of love seeks is sustained by the pleasure elicited by another, it is sustained by hedonic satisfaction. Once the pleausure stops so does the love.

When a couple say they have fallen out of love, what they are saying that they are not getting any pleasure from the existence of the other. The husband, whom the wife would at one time love with all her heart, farts in her presence, ignores her reasonable demands, is a brutish and boring lover and has grown a beer gut. There is nothing attractive about him, his character qualities are overshadowed by his repulsive nature; she loves him no more. His presence does not elicit pleasurable sentiments and at best she becomes indifferent to him and at worse is repulse him.

Now this concept of love as a responsive sentiment is a natural and dare I say it Pagan one. It is how the pagans conceptualised love. Their love was hedonic in that it only existed as long as the beloved gave pleasure. Looking at love in this light, this passage from Luke 6:32 takes on a different meaning:

32"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
In all the instances cited above the lover is getting a benefit from the loved, and clearly Christ thinks that that form of love is nothing special. What precedes that bit of text and what follows is Christ's idea of Love.

‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.

35But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Now clearly in these two passages the type of love that Christ is taking about is a love that gets no pleasure from the object of its attentions. In fact that lover may be repulsed by the beloved but the lover still wishes good to the beloved. For years I interpreted this text as meaning one must do good and have pleasant sentiments towards the wicked, but I was wrong; my feelings while performing good works don't matter. The basis of Christian love is asentimental.

This has profound consequences for our understanding of Christian love. Unlike hedonic love which is a second order phenomena, Christian love is a first order effect, it exists prior to the existence of the beloved and independent of the nature of the beloved. Christian love is the intent of perfection manifest in self, others and the world. More importantly it can't be seen as a sentiment or a feeling, but rather a perfecting "force" present in Christian nature. When Christian love is actualised it is directed towards the perfection of its object regardless of how the actor feels about the object of his actions. Christian love is the force that can love what gives us no pleasure. So when Tom asks what is unconditional love? The Christian replies it is what I give to you(even under sufferance), not what you give to me. To the pagans this concept would have been ridiculous.