Rick Perry hates Texans.

(Austin is very nice though!)

Rick Perry doesn’t seem to like his fellow Texans (via Politico):

Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry accused President Barack Obama on Wednesday of “punishing” Texas and being “hell-bent” on turning the United States into a socialist country.

Speaking at a luncheon for a Midland County Republican Women’s group, Perry said that “this is an administration hell-bent toward taking American towards a socialist country. And we all don’t need to be afraid to say that because that’s what it is.”

Perry praised the tea party movement to the Republican activists in attendance, crediting the grassroots groups with discouraging some Democrats in Washington from pushing for a public option in the health care bill.

Under Gov. Perry’s wise leadership, Texas has consistently won the coveted title of “nation’s least-insured state.”  Texas leads the nation in uninsured adults and children; a staggering 25 percent of Texans – or 6 million people – live and work without health insurance, and that includes nearly 1.4 million children.  What’s more, Texas is ranked near the bottom when it comes to health care utilization, especially among children: overall, Texas is ranked 43 in terms of prevention and treatment, and among children Texas is ranked 40, with only 67.3 percent of Texas children receiving a preventative medical and dental visit in the past year.

Those of us without a sociopathic disregard for our fellow citizens recognizes that absent some serious intervention in the health care system, this trend is sure to continue, with more and more Texans losing their health insurance, and more and more Texans dying because of it.  I’d like to think that Gov. Perry knows this and is working diligently to find a solution to his state’s health care catastrophe.  But judging from his comments and his steadfast opposition to health care reform, I think it’s safe to say that Rick Perry is mostly unconcerned with the growing humanitarian crisis in his state.  Which makes sense.  The large majority of the uninsured are located in the South and the West, which also happen to be the last remaining Republican strongholds.  And as such, Rick Perry’s casual disregard for the uninsured puts him in close company with most of his ideological fellow-travelers.

To jump on Matt Yglesias’ point from this past weekend, if we operated with a slightly less absurd set of political institutions, a minority of legislators from sparsely populated states – or even larger states – wouldn’t be able to obstruct efforts to provide millions of people with potentially life-saving insurance.  Moreover, if we had a more responsible media, obstructionist legislators and leaders would be treated with disdain and opprobrium, not regularly trotted out as respectable members of the political elite.

Leftovers.

We’re tinkering with some stuff below PB’s  hood, which is why all of our links are so janky right now. Our bust.

Here’s some of what we missed:

  • Conor Fredersdorf defends the Stupak Amendment in the House health care  bill, which bars  public money from being spent on any healthcare plans that might cover abortion.”…I’d feel uncomfortable with the notion of my tax dollars being used to fund abortions — just as I am presently uncomfortable that my tax dollars are used to fund the death penalty — and wish that they weren’t, even as I strongly support all sorts of reproductive health care for women, including abortions in cases when the life of the mother is at risk.” Ann Friedman pushes back. “The thing about the Stupak Amendment is that it goes beyond the Hyde Amendment, which bars public funding for abortion under Medicaid. Stupak would actually prevent employer-based plans — ones that are not supported by your tax dollars — from covering abortion.”
  • Jill Lepore looks at the history of murder in America.
  • Do people on death row get to have anything they want for their last meal?
  • The American Medical Association changes its position on medicinal weed, and urges the federal government to do the same.
  • The Mormon Church (!) takes a teensy, but necessary step toward acknowledging the basic rights of gays.

Thoughtless and Racist.

I’m going to be vague on location here to avoid giving away too much, but I had a friend who just had to interview a group of homeowners in a portion of the northeast that’s very wealthy and smugly liberal. The group was concerned about a mixed-income housing unit going through the zoning approval process. These folks were going to get some new neighbors, and they didn’t like it. They actually feared it, and said so on the record.

Officially, the group was upset about increasing traffic, and that the plan called for some units’ backyards to face the street, forcing them to look at backyard things like playsets and grills. Zoning officials addressed those concerns, but residents were still not happy. When a group of a dozen neighbors called my friend over to their swanky townhouse complex, which is on the border between well-off and less well-off sections of the city, some unofficial objections leaked out through the aggressive use of pronouns.

I mean, why do they all have to live in this side of the city. Right?

Last week, this same town filled all three available board of education spots with candidates who came out against “heterogeneous classrooms,” which are experimental classes in some local middle schools that do away with the former method of grouping kids by ability. Ability is assessed at way too tender an age, and in suburban schools the achievement gap by and large splits black and Latino students from their white peers. The idea used to be that kids learned best in similarly abled groups, but it turns out that idea hurts lower-achieving students and does little if anything to help higher-achieving ones. This parental fear that lower-achieving kids are somehow going to infect the higher-scoring ones with their stupidity has no merit. I can’t say for certain that heterogeneous classrooms were the deciding factors in the elections, but it was a big issue during the campaign and those who supported them lost.

I don’t see the harm in calling “ability grouping” what it really is: segregation. And I see no harm in calling the condo-folks’ efforts what they really are: unofficial redlining. They believe lower-income residents, largely black and Latino, will lower their property values, blight their neighborhoods because they don’t make home improvements and use their pools without permission (kids knock on their doors in the summer to ask to use their pools, and are turned away.) But what really worries the residents is that people who don’t look like them will be so woven into their lives that they see their backyard playsets every day, that they can’t tell one yard from the next.

The people in the townhouses trying to guard their suburban idyll will tell you it has nothing to do with race, and I think they actually believe it. They were all white, young professionals who aren’t among the wealthiest in the city. This area went heavily for Obama last year, and in general aggressively pursues affordable housing projects like this one. It’s a city outwardly concerned with equality and opportunity for all but at the same time people gripe about the taxes and policies used to provide services for them.

Both these instances made me think about the controversy after a New Mexican hotel owner asked his workers to Anglicize their names. For some, it was a shock to call this racist. I learned about it when I saw a CNN banner that read “Racist, or Thoughtless?”

As if people can’t be thoughtlessly racist. In fact, people are more often thoughtlessly racist than they are aggressively so.

Which is why I was the only person on Jimmy Carter’s side when he called out the obvious racism against Obama. I know the argument against his having said it; that it’s not helpful, only puts people on the defensive and shuts down conversation. But I have a certain affinity for a fellow white Southerner who sees racism from a different angle, when it’s spoken in closed company by people who assume you agree with them. That’s what upset my friend the most; the homeowners spoke to her as if she knew what they were trying to say. They call it dog-whistling for a reason: It’s under the surface until you call it up and address it, and white Americans just don’t have these conversations that often, if ever.

Protecting American Values From Extremists.

(x-posted from U.S. of J.)

I agree with conservatives like David Horowitz and John Hinderacker; in light of the shooting at Ft. Hood, we need to reassert and protect our values. The question of course, is the who we’re protecting our values from. Hint: it’s not Muslims. But first, a few quick points about Muslim-American attitudes:

1. Muslim-American are overwhelmingly happy with their place in the United States:

 

Back in 2007, the Pew Research Center released the first comprehensive survey of Muslim-American attitudes. According to the survey, nearly eight out of ten Muslim-Americans say that they are happy with their lives in the United States. To break that down a bit, 24 percent of Muslim Americans would say that they are “very happy” with their lives, 54 percent would say that they are “pretty happy,” and only 18 percent would say “not too happy.” Among the general public, those numbers are 36 percent, 51 percent and 12 percent respectively. Which brings me to my next point…

2. Most Muslim-Americans see no conflict between religious commitment and living in a modern society:

63 percent of Muslim-Americans say that they see no conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society. What’s more, a strong plurality of Muslims (43 percent) say that Muslims coming to America today should adopt American customs. By contrast, only 26 percent say that they should remain distinct, and 16 percent say that they should try both. Indeed, reading through the report, the vast majority of data suggests that on the whole, Muslims are glad to be in the United States and happy with the opportunities the country provides them.

Unfortunately, a good majority of Muslims are also worried about various forms of discrimination, racism, prejudice and stereotyping. 19 percent of Muslims say that they are worried about discrimination/racism/prejudice, 15 percent are worried about being viewed as terrorists, 14 percent are worried about ignorance of Islam, and 12 percent are worried about stereotyping.

This is a really important point. Contra the Hinderaker’s and Horowitz’s, we have absolutely nothing to fear from the 2.5 million Muslims who call the United States home. It’s to our credit as Americans that we have built a society where people of different religious beliefs and cultural traditions can live and work in peace without fear of harassment. Insofar that we should worry about anything, it’s those who would ostracize Muslims and use the weight of the federal government to isolate them. Anger and hostility breed hatred and extremism, and if we want to remain a society committed to tolerance and mutual respect, then we should work our hardest to marginalize anti-Muslim voices.

Your Monday Random-Ass Roundup: Reviewing the Hyper Bowl

We should all be afraid. House minority leader John Boehner calls health care reform “the greatest threat to freedom I have seen in my 19 years in Washington.”

And Boehner would never lie, right?

Republicans Health Care

In the end, Democratic leadership threw a party. Republicans threw a fit. And women desiring the right to choose definitely lost.

Anyway, there’s a lot to cover today. So let’s just get into it, shall we? But not too deeply, because reading is hard:

1. Steve Benen offers a quick primer on what’s in the House Bill. “If you have insurance, you’ll have better, more stable coverage with consumer protections. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll get subsidies to help you purchase coverage from an exchange…The House bill is expensive, but it’s fully paid for, and would lower the federal budget deficit over the next couple of decades. It includes a public option for eligible consumers, an individual mandate, and an employer mandate. It would cover about 96% of the population, and does not raise taxes on the middle class.” (G.D.)

2. A TPM reader predicts that the 2012 elections, not next year’s, will prove to be the greatest vulnerability to health care reform. “The mandates that will drive up costs will take effect before then–young people will pay much more since premiums will be equalized for all age groups and private companies will have to cover even sick people. Since there will be no opt-out or no competition, they will be able to charge whatever they want.” (Quadmoniker)

3. In the midst of all the conversations about health insurance, there hasn’t been as much conversation about the rising cost of health care and what can possibly be done to stop it. Just to give an idea, at the current rate of growth, nine years from now the average American family is expected to pay $38,000 per year on health care – about half of their projected income. The team at This American Life in collaboration with NPR News have supplied not one, but two great podcasts for anyone who needs a primer on the issue. (Alisa)

4. William Saletan at Slate: “I’m not saying we shouldn’t socialize health insurance. I’m pretty comfortable with the House and Senate bills. But let’s give up the two lies we tell ourselves about such legislation. One is that it won’t cost us much money. The other is that it won’t cost us much choice. When you throw in your lot with other people and agree to play by the same rules, you surrender some of your freedom and risk losing some of your options. Sometimes it’s coverage of an MRI or a hip replacement. Sometimes it’s coverage of abortion. If that’s the price of health care reform, are you willing to pay it?” (Belleisa)

5. Some Democrats are already pushing back against an amendment in the bill that limits access to abortion. (G.D.)

6. Speaking of the Stupak amendment, Meredith Simmons explains why some women might have to choose between health care or an abortion. (Belleisa)

7. The Times profiles Joseph Cao, the lone Republican who voted for the House bill. Cao became the first Vietnamese American in Congress in 2008 when he upset Congressional Black Caucus mainstay (and now convicted felon) “Dollar” Bill Jefferson to win the seat for Louisana’s overwhelmingly black, Democratic 2nd district. His district’s makeup seemed to affect his thinking. “I had to make a decision of conscience based on the needs of the people of my district,” he told the Times. “A lot of my constituents are uninsured, a lot of them are poor.” (G.D.)

8. Also, Cao should probably check his seat before sitting down in the coming days: Cao, who said he was sitting next to Republican Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., during the historic vote Saturday night, was asked whether he felt courageous or lonely after the vote. “I feel both courageous and lonely,” he said. (Blackink)

9. And already, conservatives are pursuing a Cao cleansing. (Blackink)

10. Feministing on “some of the positive things included in the House health reform bill.” (Belleisa)

11. ABC  is reporting that intelligence agencies knew that Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman in the mass shooting at Fort Hood, had tried to contact al Qaeda. (G.D.)

12. For more background about Hasan, here’s a link from the NYT. For irresponsible speculation from Joe Lieberman, check out this link. (Blackink)

13. The Orlando man who shot and killed one person and injured five others has been portrayed as “a mentally ill man who fell victim to countless personal and financial problems.” (Blackink)

14. To honor the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, TNR assembles archived links from that period. Michael Tomasky links to a piece revisiting whom he credits for the end of the Cold War (hint, it’s not Reagan or Gorbachev). Anne Applebaum reflects upon how far Central Europe has come in the past two decades. And the Huff Post has some pictures. (Blackink)

15. Yglesias on the hidebound Senate: “It’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the fact that in a unicameral United States of America, we would now have passed both a comprehensive health care reform bill and also the most important piece of environmental legislation in the history of the world. Now that’s not the world we live in. Instead we live in a world where neither of those things have passed and where their prospects aren’t clear. But think back on this point the next time you hear someone say Obama is struggling with his agenda because he’s not centrist enough, or else that Obama is struggling with his agenda because he’s not left-wing enough.” (G.D.)

16. California may already be a failed state, says Robert Cruickshank of Calitics, but there’s still hope. (Blackink)

17. A group of progressives are organizing a donor boycott of the DNC, hoping to push President Obama to honor his campaign promises to the LGBT community. (Blackink)

18. It’s always good news for conservatives at The Weekly Standard. And, as John Cole notes, it’s also always contrarian good news. (Blackink)

19. Courtney Martin, one of the finalists in The Washington Post’s “Next Great Pundit” contest, ponders the male alternative to Tucker Max at the National Conference for Campus-Based Men’s Gender Equality and Anti-Violence Groups in Minnesota. (Blackink)

20. Precious’s Gabby Sidibe got jokes. (G.D.)

21. Wiley Pitts revisits the “fuckery” (a fantastic word) that is the story of Anthony Sowell. Everyone deserves a bit of fail here.  (Blackink)

22. In a recent study of D.C. high school students, surveyors found that parents or guardians, health workers, teachers, friends, and boyfriends or girlfriends were their most common sources of sexual information. Which means they probably weren’t learning much about sex at all. (Blackink)

23. Responding to Playboy cover girl Joana Krupa, Kate Harding answers the question, “why don’t feminists think porn empowers women?” (Belleisa)

24. Divining the difference between douchebags and bros. (Blackink)

25. From the Boston Review: “Wikipedians are 80 percent male, more than 65 percent single, more than 85 percent without children, and around 70 percent of them are under the age of 30.” (Belleisa)

26. Over at TheRoot.com, John McWhorter points out 10 books about race “that should be more widely read.” And Thomas Sowell is involved. (Belleisa)

27. Long story short: 50 Cent is ridiculous. (Blackink)

28. Jeremy Tyler, the first U.S. basketball player to skip his senior year of high school to play pro ball overseas, is off to a rough start in Israel. How rough? “As Tyler walked away, he bade farewell to a reporter leaving for the United States and said, ‘I wish I was going back with you.'” (Blackink)

29. If you have seen the latest pictures of former Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa, then you’ll understand why David Love at The Grio has some serious problems with the, um, ghostly images. (Blackink)

30. This horrifying moment, from Oregon State’s victory over Cal on Saturday, is a reminder of why all my football coaches told me to never leave my feet during a game. (Blackink)

I think you’ll all agree: this was a pretty random roundup, with some ass throw in for good measure. I’m talking specifically about Stupak and Lieberman.

Have a fantastic Monday!

Precious.

Since seeing Precious on Friday, I’ve been trying to recall another recent onscreen portrayal of evil anywhere as effective as the one offered up by Mo’Nique in the role of the title character’s mother. Javier Bardem’s unrelenting assassin in “No Country for Old Men” might qualify, but he was essentially a cartoon. Maybe Daniel Day-Lewis’s oil tycoon in “There Will Be Blood,” but even that sociopath seemed to have other drives (like towering greed) besides perpetuating human suffering. Not so Mo’Nique’s Mary, an absolute monster who is devoid of any redeeming qualities. She commits an atrocity in every scene she inhabits, and so the tiny, dim apartment she shares with Precious isn’t just suffocating, but terrifying. It’s the most powerful performance in a movie full of them.

But the movie’s uniformly excellent acting underscores the other problems with Lee Daniels’ direction. To be fair, it would be hard to pull off subtlety in a movie in which the morbidly obese, illiterate protagonist is routinely sexually and physically abused, impregnated by her father, and ignored by anyone else she comes across. But given all that, there’s certainly no need to pile on, which is what Daniels does, intersplicing bright, tonally dissonant fantasy sequences into the main character’s more traumatic moments. As her father rapes her, she transports into a  daydream in which she’s a beloved celebrity; when she’s attacked by some dudes on the street, she entertains thoughts of dancing flirtily with some guy on the set of a music video. We get it: she wants to be anywhere but where she is in those moments. But when we’re talking about a character for whom personal degradation is a daily occurrence, it seems like that sentiment wouldn’t need any additional highlighting. Like the scene where Precious is getting ready for school and sees a blonde white girl aping her movements in the mirror, these flourishes are way, way too on the nose.* More…

Mad Men, Season 3, Ep. 13: Shut the Door, Have a Seat.

The great strength of Mad Men‘s finales always seems to be their hotly anticipated one-on-one interactions between characters.

More…