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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Obamacare (cue the Halloween/scary music)

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare as Republicans call it.

They oppose the individual mandate by calling it socialism. The funny thing is that it was their idea in the '90s and it was all good- a way to protect small businesses--- then. What was that other thing they call socialist? Oh. Taxes. I'm sure there are more.

Making everyone opt in is not a new concept. Car insurance is the same. You are required to have this if you have a car. I realize this is regulated by the states and not federal, so this may make all the difference to a Republican, but it is the same concept to me. Everyone pays who may have to use it at some point to cover the costs of those that do. If you choose to go without and then have an accident, no one is required to cover your cost, unlike in a medical situation where doctors are required to treat you, so the need for the individual mandate seems to be greatest in this case. Why so little complaint about car insurance and so much about everyone being required to have health insurance, something that you'll probably use more than car insurance and for something you're guaranteed service for?

Republicans are against welfare and other social programs because it is a free ride. They have no problem with people who don't get insurance while they're healthy or apparently healthy, then go when the problems can't be ignored and have ballooned into something uncontrollable at everyone else's expense because- hey- I didn't see this coming- I'm healthy- I can't afford this- I need help. Is that not the point of insurance, to pay into it before you need it? Take for example life insurance or car insurance. (Yes, I realize life insurance is totally optional and car insurance is regulated by the state, but I'm talking about the allegedly strange new socialist concept of pooling resources.) I would think Republicans would be for something that prevents people from gaming the system and getting services they never intended to pay for (either because they couldn't or because they thought they didn't need it just yet).

Or maybe I have it wrong and Republicans would like to do away with the concept of doctors helping those who can't pay. I admit I don't know their position on that. I'd be curious to find that out.

Or I wonder if the individual mandate gets struck down if people who opt out could carry a card that says- I waive my right/wish to be treated- so the cost wouldn't be incurred. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't affect the doctors' responsibility to treat people, though. Besides it makes me feel kind of horrible just writing that. I definitely believe those who can't afford it should be subsidized and treated, but those who opt out because they're feeling fine now or oppose it ideologically or opt out for another reason than financial need...maybe I don't feel that bad writing it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Children's literature about Palestinians/ Arab culture

We had considered attending a Girl Scout event at school where admission was a new or gently used book to donate to the school district. Other things intervened, so we didn't go, but I thought about what I would have liked to donate and may yet still. 

Arabs are under represented in literature and human interest stories and over represented in coverage of terrorist acts and war, so this got me thinking and searching. I didn't come up with a ton, but I suppose I could still donate to the school district or public library. Or just get for my own kids for summer or supplementary reading...


One City, Two Brothers by Chris Smith......................ages 6 and up
The Butter Man by Elizabeth Alalou & Ali Alalou .....Kindergarten and up
Sitti's Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye .........................ages 5 and up
Snow in Jerusalem by Deborah DeCosta ...................ages 6-10
Mystery Bottle by Kristen Balouch ............................K - grade 3

Late Elementary- Middle School:

Figs and Fate (5 short stories) by Elsa Marston ......grades 4-8
A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird ....... grades 4 and up (ages 9 and up)
The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust ............................................................ grade 3 and up (age 8 and up)
Running on Eggs by Anna Levine .......................grades 5 and up (ages 10 and up)
Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye ...................................grades 5-9
A Bottle in the Gaza Sea by Valerie Zennatti ............grades 6-8
If You Could Be My Friend by Mervet A. Sha'ban.....grades 6-10
A Stone in My Hand by Cathryn Clinton ...........grades 6 and up (ages 11 and up)

Also interesting for a classroom, maybe...

I guess high school suggestions might be the same as adult suggestions? I have no idea.

Mornings In Jenin by Susan Abulhawa
Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak
maybe Miral... you could do a movie compare/contrast...
Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber (The Language of Baklava or Aarbian Jazz may also be good)
It's Easier to Reach Heaven Than the End of the Street: A Jerusalem Memoir by Emma Williams
The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

Edit 3/12/12: Some very good points recently were made with regard to the wrong and right way to do things of this nature. I agree completely. 

If I'm (or you're) going to donate, I will definitely have to go about it in the correct way so as not to just drop books in administrators' lap for them to possibly interpret as some sort of a sinister agenda. I don't know that I necessarily have the tools for this, so maybe I will just buy some for my own kids...

The donation(s) would, I suppose, need to be in the context of a dialogue about diversity (in a broader sense than maybe we tend to think about). We need to discuss and read about Arabs who aren't engaged in terrorism -get beyond the stereotype- since we have been engaged in the Middle East more prominently since ~2001. A general trend with various wars we have been engaged in  is that we tend to see more people from those regions in the US in later years. I think it would benefit everyone to get a complete picture of the people we generally see portrayed in only one way in this country.

I don't know that donating one book would have an ill effect- which was more in line with my original thought that kind of turned into... what if all these were available for kids and teachers... Oh well. I will keep brainstorming I guess- I can't stop thinking sometimes. They aren't all good ideas, but maybe I'll hit on something one day.

Obama Netanyahu meeting

So, these guys met again yesterday. Why do we agree to meet and grovel to a war criminal?? I don't know. That's American politics. I won't quote Churchill with the riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, but ...  :)

A link for the meeting...

I don't know if it was supposed to be a general meeting on all issues, but if it was, Netanyahu succeeded in steering the conversation away from Palestinians to focus on Iran. Very convenient, given how someone involved in ethnic cleansing may not be in a strong position to demand we make good on our pledge to always support Israel - they are on the verge of "annihilation". When is the existential threat lie going to go the way of the boy who cried wolf? How many times will it take? There has not been an existential threat against Jews since Hitler, yet Israel cries wolf all the time- Palestinians Iraq, Iran, etc. Very interesting it is that Israel always berates us for not being "Johnny on the spot" whenever it perceives an "existential threat" (we actually are, but since we aren't pre-emptively striking everyone who talks dirty and we occasionally express concern about illegal settlements, they perceive it differently) while being involved in Judaizing neighborhoods, fixing visa laws such that Palestinians can't come back home, refusing to allow refugees back since 1948, and built their state on ethnic cleansing campaigns that involved blowing up innocent peoples houses and killing women and children intentionally to scare others away.

Aside from ignoring Israel's war crimes and treating them like a nation that deserves normal relations and our blind and full support, Obama did a good job repeating his desire for diplomacy and establishing our position that the time for war has not yet come. Netanyahu was ready for war a long time ago. They are always ready for war. They are a military society. I don't even know if they have any diplomats or know what that is.

I think it was wrong not to talk about the Palestinians because the Iran "problem" ties into it. I mean, if Israel had let refugees back after 1948 and all of the conflicts and was a democracy for it's citizens and not just for Jews, Iran would feel less like attacking a state in which Arabs were participating. And perhaps the Arabs would help moderate Israel's rhetoric and positions and would be able to conduct diplomacy with Iran instead of just threatening war all the time. Israel as it is today is really no better or more rational than Iran. They kind of mirror each other in a kind of weird way. They both threaten war all the time and support terrorism in indirect ways and tolerate extremism in government. The only difference is we accept Israel as a normal, Western nation and see Iran for what it is.

Israel as a state for Jews rather than ALL of its citizens is kind of a common denominator for conflict in the Middle East. They are either fighting with another country, exchanging heated rhetoric, or selling arms and info to both sides to keep other parties fighting. It all boils down to "defending" (and I use the term very loosely as they do with demographics) a majority Jewish state in a predominantly Arab area on a land they ethnically cleansed to create. Israel uses the term defense interchangeably for life and the Jewish majority it works hard to keep by illegal and lethal means, which makes some of their cries of annihilation a bit ridiculous, sadly, because that kind of thing shouldn't be spoken of so lightly.

There has always been a discrepancy between the facts and what Israel tells the public to rile them up. Even before 1948, in public, leaders spoke of annihilation and death and destruction and second Holocaust; in private meetings and military planning, they knew they had the advantage militarily and politically. Things have not changed one bit. They are the world's 4th largest military power and yet continually say they are under an existential threat, people want to push them into the sea, and all manner of doomsday scenarios. Particularly disgusting, though, is not just that discrepancy in facts, but that they are actually at the same time engaged in threatening others' existence and expunging them from the history of the region

(For more on Israel's intent and plans in and around the 1900s, read Ilan Pappe, Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.)

While I know that Obama is obligated to state the obvious (we support Israel- if you write to Congress on any Middle East issue, you will clearly learn that, if nothing else) and grovel and reassure Israel that we have their back even amid accusations by the right, AIPAC, and Israel that America under Obama isn't supporting Israel the way they want. How they can make such demands coming from a state built on ethnic cleansing and still engaging in illegal and immoral acts absolutely defies logic. I realize presidents have to do that to get elected, but why don't politicians get together and stand up to Israel in a effort to do right by our own citizens? That way, no one would be standing out on a limb election-wise and the American people would get money for our health care and education rather than supporting ethnic cleansing and apartheid overseas. It's a win-win.

Other nations with human rights issues and UN violations, we maintain a workable but frosty relationship with. In the case of Israel, they accuse us of not supporting them, and we seemingly have no choice but to promise greater love and support despite illegal activity (both the acts we acknowledge and oppose and those we tend to ignore...). What is wrong with us? Why can't we see how backwards this is??

The ONLY thing under existential threat is possibly the myths that Israel was ever under existential threat of a second Holocaust, that it didn't actually make the desert bloom, that it didn't expel, kill and terrorize most Palestinians to seize a state for Jews only, that it didn't engage in ethnic cleansing or doesn't today, etc as people gradually wake up and read for themselves about history and the issue instead of trusting famous pastors and politicians to draw conclusions and think for them.