A few days before the DC Gay Pride Festival, gay community do-gooder and HIV awareness activist Dan O'Neill who had medical board exams scheduled in 13 days was asked if he would dance backup on stage with the original Dreamgirl, Jennifer Holliday, on the main stage along with some other DC Gay Men's Chorus Dancers, some of whom used to be part of the DC Cowboys.
I'm the least culturally literate person in Washington -- but the Dreamgirls and Jennifer Holliday are big touch points for me.
Holliday was magnificent on and off stage, so gracious to everyone after her high sizzle performance.
And Happy Pride to those on the edge of coming out and letting your identity rip. As Jennifer Holliday says, "Shout it out!"
-- Steve Clemons
That would be Britain's conservative prime minister. Funny, but I'm not hearing much "envy of the world" in his comments. LA Times:
Ask a Briton to describe ?American-style? healthcare, and you?ll hear a catalog of horrors that include grossly expensive and unnecessary medical procedures and a privatized system that favors the rich. For a people accustomed to free healthcare for all, regardless of income, the fact that millions of their cousins across the Atlantic have no insurance and can?t afford decent treatment is a farce as well as a tragedy.
So frightening is the Yankee example that any British politician who values his job has to explicitly disavow it as a possible outcome. Twice.Krugman links to an earlier Giuliani comment about how if Democrats won the 2008 presidential election, American health care might become like France!
?We will not be selling off the NHS, we will not be moving towards an insurance scheme, we will not introduce an American-style private system,? Prime Minister David Cameron emphatically told a group of healthcare workers in a nationally televised address last week.
In case they didn?t hear it the first time, Cameron repeated the dreaded ?A?-word in a list of five guarantees he offered the British people at the end of his speech.
Tom MacMaster, an American student at Scotland’s Edinburgh University who authored the fictional “Gay Girl In Damascus” blog, has been banned from using campus computers following the revelations that he falsely posed as a lesbian Syrian blogger. “People should stop focusing on the hoaxer and really be focusing on the most important people, the real people who are suffering in Syria,” MacMaster said.
A report released this week by the U.N. Agency for Palestine Refugees says unemployment in Gaza in the second half of 2010 reached 45.2 percent — one of the highest in the world. The private sector took an especially hard hit, shedding over 8,000 jobs in the second half of 2010. The Hamas-dominated public sector, meanwhile, saw a modest gain of 3 percent in the same period.
After nearly an entire month without any judicial confirmation votes whatsoever, the Senate finally voted to confirm two new federal judges. At this rate, the bench is currently emptying out due to retirements faster than new judges are being confirmed.
Erik Loomis castigates “the progressive blogosphere and young progressives in general” for a “lack of concern over labor” as evidenced by, for example, our lack of interest in the union-sponsored boycott of the Huffington Post over its use of a mix of paid and unpaid labor. So I’ll pay heed to the issue, though I won’t be boycotting anything. I’ll just start with the observation that there’s something ironic about a college professor writing a blog post for which he presumably wasn’t paid in order to castigate the practice of unpaid blogging.
Those of us who write or a living on the internet might well benefit from a rule banning amateur content creation online. No more professors giving opinions on political issues away for free! No more videos of cute cats on YouTube! Heck, no more Wikipedia! More traffic for me! What’s not to like? Obviously there are free speech problems with trying to legally ban amateur internet writing. But should we boycott all free internet writing? My view is that we shouldn’t, even if Wikipedia is reducing the demand for unionized teamsters to deliver physical encyclopedias.
But if we’re not going to object to free Internet writing in general, then what’s the problem with mixing free and paid writing on the same site? It seems to be the case that in the Huffington Post’s model, these things are complements. When Gary Hart has something he wants to say, he gains access to a large web audience by posting his thoughts on the Huffington Post rather than launching a Gary Hart Tumblr. But when you read Gary Hart’s item, you’re subjected to all the HuffPo navigational tools urging you to click onto other HuffPo stories. The item not only generates a modest amount of traffic on its own, it creates some “spillover” traffic to other Huffington Post items. The spillover traffic increases the value of the Huffington Post’s paid reporters and editors, and even the non-spillover traffic increases the value of the Huffington Post’s technical and business staffs.
The idea is perhaps that it’s wrong for some people (AOL shareholders) to be profiting from the unpaid work of Gary Hart. But there’s no way for Gary Hart to express his views on the Internet without someone profiting from it. All the blogging platforms are for-profit firms that want people to use them. And that’s to say nothing of the telecom firms and search engines who are all glad that the Web is full of all this free content that people want to read. Ultimately nothing is ever DIY enough to entire separate itself from the entire chain of capitalist production.
Citing the new law prohibiting state funds from going to organizations that perform abortions, Indiana has informed Planned Parenthood that it can no longer participate in a tax-credit program for donors, under which donors received “a tax credit worth half of their donation on their state income taxes.” “Without it, Planned Parenthood could lose about $9,000 from its fundraising efforts in the fiscal year that begins July 1.”
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) literally begged Congress to block grant Medicaid at yesterday’s town hall hosted by CBS. Haley argued that if the federal government allocated a pre-defined amount of dollars for Medicaid, rather than providing a matching fund that keeps up with health care costs, South Carolina would have greater flexibility to manage its program:
HALEY: We have to lead. And so, what I would beg of both the Congress and the Senate, which I think everybody should agree on, is give us flexibility. Quit mandating any spending down. Medicaid alone is a quarter of South Carolina’s budget. Give us the ability to decide what the health care needs are of our citizens…And block granting in Medicaid is huge for us.
Unless South Carolina has developed some new innovative ways of delivering health services at below cost, the “flexibility” Haley’s seeking is really permission to spend less on a safety net health care program. Under a block grant structure, South Carolina would receive an annual federal appropriation that would be less than current projected growth of the program and would have to to make up the difference by increasing spending or (more realistically) capping enrollment, cutting eligibility, limiting mandatory benefits and lowering provider reimbursements.
In fact, according to a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, South Carolina could cut its enrollment by up to 53 percent under the block grant initiative offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Jia Lynn Yang’s Washington Post article “Good for Obama?s jobs council, good for America?” has a great headline and theme, but it actually winds up taking a slightly odd direction. Her main point is that “decades of globalization have loosened the connection between the health of large U.S. firms and the economy” since you can both produce things abroad and sell them to foreigners.
That’s all true enough, but the problem is much more general. Job growth doesn’t generally come from the firms that are already big. It comes from the firms you haven’t heard of getting big. By the time a company gets big enough that its CEO can score meetings with the president of the United States, its fastest-growing days are likely to be in the past. Now my sense is that this whole council is a PR stunt that has no real relationship to policy, but even as PR, I think it sends a bad message about the relationship between business, government, and growth. If you’re already a successful company, what you primarily want out of public policy is protection from disruptive change, but that’s no way to create sustainable growth.
I’ve been feeling frustrated by both Questionable Content and Girls With Slingshots, long my two go-to webcomics, for a while, and thus slightly vexed with the genre. But Brian Wolly’s interview with Ryan North, the creator of the wonderful strip Dinosaur Comics both served as a useful reminder that just because I’m tired of unmotivated hipsters is no reason to give up on a genre, and contained this wonderful observation:
Being online works really well for any creative work, but especially comics. You have to recognize as a creative person that not everyone?s going to be into what you?re doing. Let?s say 1 in 10 people likes my comic: that means if it?s printed in a paper, 90 percent of the audience will say, ?What is this? The pictures don?t change. That?s terrible and now I am physically angry.? Anyone who publishes it is going to get letters about it. But online, that one in 10 can self-select, and when they find my site they say, ?Oh man, this is great, this is unlike anything I see in the paper. I?m gonna show this to my friend who shares my sense of humor.? I?d rather have that reader, who loves it, than ten times the number of readers who don?t like it, who read it just because it?s there.
I think there’s this tendency to assume that ties formed on the internet, particularly those around culture, are weaker because they’re not in-person. But anything that lets you find a more precise expression of what you like, a community of people who feel as passionate as you do, is probably going to produce stronger ties. People who like dinosaurs who talk about rap battles ? a category that wouldn’t have existed a decade ago ? are my kind of people.