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Republicans are making a “pretty strange argument…. Essentially, what they’re saying is, once this is fully implemented and millions of people who currently don’t have health care have health care at reasonable prices and protections are in place for consumers across the board, that it will be sufficiently successful and popular that people won’t want to repeal it.
“Well, that’s a strange argument. So the notion is, we’ve got to stop it before people like it too much. That’s not an argument that I think most people buy.”
Part of the argument being made is that people come to like things that the government can’t afford anymore. “This is the argument that was made with respect to Social Security. This is the argument that was made to Medicare. It turns out, actually, people liked it, and we could afford it. And unlike the prescription drug plan that was passed by Republicans, which now is very popular with seniors — although at the time that it was passed was actually less popular than the Affordable Care Act, according to the polls–we paid for the Affordable Care Act. It doesn’t add to the deficit. In fact, repealing it would increase the deficit.”
Though others seeking to advance a contradictory ideology want to argue different. All “the assumptions [we advanced] so far not only have held; they’ve actually exceeded expectations. Health care costs have gone up slower since we passed the Affordable Care Act. There were great predictions coming from the Republicans that health care costs would go up even faster; that hasn’t happened. There were predictions that the marketplaces that we’re setting up–essentially, the group plans where people buy health insurance — would not offer a good deal to consumers, and so far, the bids have come in from insurance companies, and lo and behold, they’ve actually come under the estimates that the government had so far.
Unlike the prescription drug plan that was passed by Republicans, which now is very popular with seniors — although at the time that it was passed was actually less popular than the Affordable Care Act, according to the polls–we paid for the Affordable Care Act.
So the truth is that every prediction about how bad the Affordable Care Act would be for individual consumers out there has not proven to be true, and so I understand why some Republicans who have made great political hay over the last two, three years about what a disaster this is going to be are worried about when it’s fully implemented and it turns out not to be a disaster–I get that. But that’s certainly not an argument for us to leave a whole bunch of people out there who don’t have health insurance to continue to suffer. We’re not going to do that.”
To hear more good sense, you can find the full interview between the President and NPR’s Steve Inskeep here.
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“I don’t try to think back to when I was one. I just try to live the life I have now.”
~Melvin IV, at 6-years-old
My son went to bed sad last night that he had run out of time to finish his pizza. We had a really late dinner and by 9:30 it was time to call it. He was really worried that I or his mother would eat this slice of cheesy deliciousness he had coveted with patience, “saving the best for last”–his words, not mine. Unfortunately, he just ran out of time.
I wouldn’t promise him anything, so my son woke up with pizza on the brain. Experiencing him trying to find a polite but decisive way to ask me about the food that remained was comical. I told him he reminded me of when I was six (man, I loved to eat). Melvin then remarked how hard it is to imagine me (and really, really old people) as a child. He then hit me with that statement about being fully present at six.
And I was glad that this morning when he came out his room and wanted to talk, I had completely stopped what I was doing on the computer to look, touch and listen to him.
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If you could never wrap your brain around the concept of systemic privilege, here’s one stark, uncoded and concrete example. In her interview with Anderson Cooper, Juror B37 from the George Zimmerman trial for the death of Trayvon Martin admits to ignoring the judge’s instructions to disregard the Sanford police detective’s testimony that he found Zimmerman credible when he interviewed him. She also volunteers that there was debate among the jury as to whether a conviction of manslaughter can be predicated on all actions leading up to the death of Trayvon or should it just consider what happened at that moment. Now the Florida Criminal Jury Instructions Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, Section 7.7, clearly states the prosecution must prove:
“(Defendent) intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of (victim).”
Oddly enough, it was never disputed that George Zimmerman randomly and falsely labeled Martin a criminal, branded him a threat to Zimmerman’s personal safety, hunted him down after expressing contempt for “assholes” who “always get away” and then used deadly force to make sure it didn’t happen this time. The only thing up for debate was who threw the first blow and, strangely, did Martin at some point gain the upper hand. Now it’s one kind of privilege that one can freely admit to doing multiple terrorizing things over the course of several minutes that provoke a fight–except possibly throw the first punch and/or win the entire time–and then kill the person they had spent minutes threatening, yet not be found guilty of inexcusable, unjustifiable “acts that caused the death of the victim.”
However, it’s a totally different privilege to be able to get on television after acquitting the killer and announce that, by the way, my decision was based on (1) disregarding the judge’s instructions that a detective’s assessment as to Zimmerman’s credibility was not admissible, (2) disregarding the judge’s ruling that the cries for help could not be definitively attributed to either Zimmerman or Martin (disregarding the only other witness to the start of the fight all together) and (3) disregarding jury instructions as written–and half the country won’t find that problematic at all! Now THAT’S some privilege!! And what makes it systemic is that somehow it doesn’t call into legal question the credibility of the entire judicial proceedings.
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On 13 July 2013 at 10p EST, George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen whom George fatally shot the previous year. He had been charged with Second Degree Murder. In the stated of Florida that means the prosecution had to prove 3 specific things beyond a reasonable doubt according to section 7.4 of the Florida Criminal Jury Instructions Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition:
- The victim is dead.
- The death was caused by the criminal act of the defendant (with “act” being further defined to include “a series of related actions… performed pursuant to a single… purpose” of creating the dangerous condition that led to a death).
- There was an unlawful killing of the victim by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life (with the underlined phrase being further defined as having 3 necessary components: foreseeable harm, “ill will” and “indifference”).
As you can see, it was a fairly simple matter; then again, it wasn’t. The legal definitions of things are always more involved than the public’s general notions of what particular words mean. Still juries are made up of the public (at least select portions of it), and some would say “second degree murders often are decided on the ‘common sense’ of the jury.” And one can understand that. As writer, professor and culture critic Jimi Izrael has said, the Zimmerman trial was basically He said/He said. The problem is that one party couldn’t be present (will never be present ever again), yet his involuntary absence was taken as commentary against him. Trayvon Martin was tried and convicted for his own murder, with the only witness being the man who pulled the trigger.
As for George Zimmerman, the trigger man, of course there was reasonable doubt as to his criminal involvement in Trayvon Martin’s death. Trayvon was “up to no good,” “on drugs or something” the night of his demise. How do we know? George told us. Not at trial, mind you, where his version of events could be cross examined directly, but rather on the night he chose to see Trayvon as a threat 6 minutes before ending Trayvon’s life. What was Trayvon doing that made him “a real suspicious guy”? “Walking around” while talking on the phone and “looking about.” How do we know? Again George told us! Well, admittedly, we know about the phone call from phone records. George doesn’t mention the call, presumably because he doesn’t recognize it’s taking place. Why would recognizing Trayvon was on a phone call have been material? Because as common as the notion may be, there is no such thing as multi-tasking, only trying to switch between multiple things quickly, and if Trayvon were actually engrossed in a conversation on the phone, that would explain aimless pacing, meandering about, talking to himself and exhibiting sporadic body movements like “something’s wrong with him”, “just staring” and “looking at all the houses” to get one’s bearing in an otherwise unfamiliar neighborhood. But none of that explains the behavior to which George openly attributed nefarious motive. How do we know? George says so. And his mere saying so while not under oath establishes reasonable doubt.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say it doesn’t. Even if he weren’t guilty of any of the ways in which George profiled him as worthy of suspicion and characterized him as on drugs to the emergency dispatcher, we still know Trayvon was “up to no good.” Why else would he turn toward George–who was only politely, non-aggressively, non-threateningly following Trayvon in his car? Why would Trayvon walk toward George with “his hand in his waist band” and end up with “something in his hands” as he moved “to check [George] out”? And we know he did. How do we know? George tells us, just 5 minutes before he shoots Trayvon. Never mind the fact that absolutely nothing comes of this convincingly hostile act. In fact, so little comes of it that George stops narrating Trayvon’s actions for nearly 40 seconds. George’s uncross-examined blow-by-blow account of Trayvon’s actions are the official record, however, as to exactly what happened that night. And even though he has insisted that the police hurry while on the phone with the dispatcher, punctuating the urgency of the situation with all manner of erroneous speculation regarding Trayvon, George clearly has no motive to insinuate Trayvon has armed himself and even less reason to brandish his own firearm in response. According to George’s lawyers, it is “irresponsible” for the prosecution to imagine what George did in response to what he says he perceived as first suspicious and then threatening behavior. We must have facts, and the only facts we have are George’s interpretation of them on this 9-1-1 recording as they are happening, which only reference Trayvon and George’s feelings about Trayvon. George doesn’t say what he himself is doing or how that might be interpreted by a 17-year-old walking alone at night in an unfamiliar neighborhood, so all that must be inconsequential. That’s reasonable doubt right there.
Trayvon must have been “up to no good.” Why else would he run… from a stranger who has a gun and has been following him slowly in a truck for at the very least a full 2 minutes? Rachel Jeantel says Trayvon was worried and expressed relief when he loses George for a while, but let’s ignore her. She could barely talk straight and lied about multiple things not related to her testimony, including why she didn’t want to attend Trayvon’s funeral, so what she has to say, however contradictory to George’s account, doesn’t count. She’s only saying anything to help Trayvon and out of loyalty to his parents. George, on the other hand, has no such personal stake in the outcome of the trial. He only personally and permanently eliminated the one witness of equal involvement. As long as George can suggest that Trayvon ran because he had been caught doing something wrong or in order to get the drop on him, that’s reasonable doubt that he, George, acted with singularity of purpose. Dismiss Rachel and there is no evidence that George’s account of what Trayvon was up to and how the fight started is wrong. Dismiss Rachel and everything but George’s account of what happened is conjecture or conflicting 3rd-party testimony.
Even if we recognize how much uncritical deference we are giving to George’s account of what is taking place prior to the confrontation that ended Trayvon’s life, we know Trayvon was “up to no good,” which therefore exonerates George of any ill will in profiling, mischaracterizing and stalking him. We know it because at some point Trayvon fights back. How could any reasonable person foresee this? And better yet, how dare he? Hasn’t he learned about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King? Fighting back immediately disqualifies Trayvon as a credible witness to his own death.
Now here’s the thing, according to George’s attorney’s, it is irresponsible for us to imagine that anything more or other than what George has reported to the emergency dispatcher occurred that fateful night, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with simply assuming that George has told the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth to the dispatcher, investigators, family, friends, attorneys and TV cameras leading up to the trial–even though every verifiable judgement George makes about Trayvon on the emergency dispatch recording turns out to be false. Sure George acted on these false judgements, but this isn’t indifference to human life. Indifference doesn’t start with profiling and end with death. No, George’s forthrightness with law enforcement and apparent regret for killing a “kid” he at first reported to be in his “late teens” but later at his arraignment said he mistook as being in his mid- to late-twenties are actions steeped in ethics and good intent. Even though George’s ethics and good intent didn’t stop him from profiling, mischaracterizing, stalking and articulating disdain that “they always get away”–clearly identifying Trayvon, a person George doesn’t know, as one of “they”–we should imagine that George’s ethics and good intent stopped him from continuing to act on all his presumptions the moment the emergency dispatcher says to. Just because George says so and Trayvon’s not alive to say otherwise, that’s reasonable doubt.
Mind you, the imagination George and his attorneys do ask us to exercise in favor of George seems to have to rule out all kinds of real life experience. You can’t remember being a kid, tripping or sliding on concrete and scraping up your leg, because that might account for why with two people wrestling on concrete, a head and a hand would get bumped and scraped. You also can’t have ever pounded anything repeatedly against concrete, because then you’d remember how hard things break and soft things dent, bruise and tear badly–not a little. You also can’t have ever punched anything very hard, because you’d know how easily knuckles bruise (unlike Trayvon’s). And you can’t have ever fought for dear life, because you’d know that scratching is just a part of it (though nothing was found under Trayvon’s nails). It’s okay to imagine in favor of George, you just have to imagine that most of what George and his attorneys describe about both the fight and George’s reasons for being suspicious of Trayvon in the first place happened in a different world. As long as you do, that’s reasonable doubt as to any ill will on George’s part.
This is why a jury of his peers acquitted George Zimmerman of not only 2nd Degree Murder, which requires a victim, the intentional endangerment of human life and discernible commitment to follow through, but also of every possible lesser charge, including Manslaughter, which only requires a victim whose slaying was unjustified. Since the fact that Trayvon was killed at the hands of George was not in dispute, in this instance, as George’s attorney’s point out, being found “not guilty” means George is innocent of any crime as far as the jury is concerned. Obviously, like George, George’s attorneys and the jury live in a world where randomly labeling a stranger a criminal, branding him a threat to your personal safety, hunting him down after expressing contempt for “assholes” who “always get away” and then using deadly force to make sure it didn’t happen this time isn’t evidence of ill will and indifference and no reasonable person could have foreseen that each act in that series would have led to the next. It was the common sense of George’s six peers that Trayvon’s death at the hands of George was justified. In other words, it’s Trayvon’s fault he’s dead. How do George’s peers know this? That’s what George through his lawyers told them. Trayvon, the only other witness to the entire series of acts that precipitated his death, wasn’t here to say otherwise–and that’s American justice for some.
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Okay, brother and sister English teachers still fighting the good fight. You now have your “in” with black kids, if you didn’t before. Rachel Jeantel is arguably the most important witness in the Trayvon Martin murder. People with a heart for justice, want to see her succeed in shining light on the fact that Zimmerman was the aggressor even in the moment of confrontation. However, Rachel lacks the requisite language skills to have presented her testimony as clearly, coherently and convincingly as even she would have liked.
Her being pitted in a courtroom against attorneys whose business is language and logic is tantamount to me suiting up as the fifth man for the Heat against the Spurs and thinking I’m going to contribute something.
What an awful situation to be in. To have something to say. To want to say it in such a way that others might listen and understand. To need to be able to speak up on behalf of someone or something you care about. Yet to be unable to do so ____________.
To hell with folks who want to make fun of her! How dare you? Do you not understand that to diminish someone else is to diminish yourself? And you somehow think she’s the only one worthy of ridicule? How can you not see yourself?
It’s senseless to see this as only an opportunity to mock another. This is an opportunity to rally our children–all children–to the value of finding one’s voice and learning how to use it well.
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“And I Said To My Soul, Be Loud”
Madden me back to an afternoon
I carry in me
not like a wound
but like a will against a wound
Give me again enough man
to be the child
choosing my own annihilations
To make of this severed limb
a wand to conjure
a weapon to shatter
dark matter of the dirt daubers’ nests
galaxies of glass
bash-dancing on the cellar’s fire
I am the sound the sun would make
if the sun could make a sound
and the gasp of rot
stabbed from the compost’s lumpen living death
O my life my war in a jar
I shake you and shake you
and may the best ant win
For I am come a whirlwind of wasted things
and I will ride this tantrum back to God
until my fixed self, my fluorescent self
my grief–nibbling, unbewildered, wall–to–wall self
withers in me like a salted slug
From the book Every Riven Thing by Christian Wiman. Copyright © 2010 by Christian Wiman. Emphasis added. Here the poem read by this author in his On Being interview with Krista Tippett
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So let me say this. Leslie’s a little tired of my so-called “friends” finding the worse possible picture of me online to use as head shots on flyers and websites. I tend to avoid pictures, so it’s not hard to understand why there aren’t a lot of great ones of me floating around, but one doesn’t have to settle for the gaping mouth buffoon shot or the creepy black man poking his head out the closet shot, when everyone else on the ad is smiling pleasantly and looking straight into the camera.
To help make this a non-issue going forward, Les has recently done 2 photo shoots with me. All I’m saying is that, if you ever want to share an unanxious meal with the Brays ever again, you will use one of these ;-).
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Over the pass year I been involved with multiple organizations trying to figure out its stance on this, that and the other thing. I want to put myself on record. What it comes down to for me is grace and graciousness. If you can walk in grace and graciousness toward others, then we can roll together. If you can’t, then we probably can’t walk together–at least not for long, because you’ll get tired of me inviting so many others to roll with us who think, feel, act, believe, care and are concerned differently from you.