Archive for January 9th, 2007|Daily archive page

Say Hi To Freckles

I’d like to introduce you to someone who commented on a couple of my posts. I asked her if she’d like me to do a profile of her so here goes.

Freckles is a 14 15 year old polit-blogger from Texas. She also has a lot of reasons for blogging; she is directly involved in almost every political controversy I can think of Iraq, economics, and I don’t know maybe even immigration. She is in Texas after all. What might surprise you is that she leans left and not right.

I had occasion today to spend some time arguing about the war with an air force captain today, and it was fascinating! At first he thought I was just a stupid kid, then I think he thought I was a stupid liberal. But by the end he said that about half my arguments were balanced, and that while he didn’t have time for left wing conspiracy theories, he would read material I sent him if it was from a real newspaper and not from a blog. A huge victory in my opinion.

I’ll start her story not with her, but with the war in Iraq. As the situation in Iraq started to go south, Bush needed more and more soldiers. Since not enough people were volunteering to go overseas and extend the interests of civilisation and Haliburton, the reserves were called up in increasing numbers.

Normally this probably wouldn’t be a major issue for a fourteen fifteen year old. Unfortunately Freckles mother has what is euphemistically called a ‘substance abuse problem;’ a problem Freckles names more directly – her mother is an addict. This landed Freckle’s mother in prison and Freckles in a rather untenable situation. Fortunately, in Texas, blood runs thicker than water and her older brother stepped in to support her, accepting legal guardianship. This had the advantage of keeping the family together and Freckles in her accustomed environment.

Oh, but remember that Bush thing and the reserves? Yeah, that part comes in here. Freckles brother is a corporal in the Army Reserves and was scheduled to be sent to Iraq. Despite her brother having legal guardianship, Freckles was once again looking at living in a foster home. And that’s were her political interests kicked in. As a long time listener of Air America, she called in a couple of times explaining the problem.

One thing led to another and she got some help from other listeners who, for example suggested she write to her congressional representative. (And no, that person wasn’t the dearly departed Vlad Shelly). Freckles wrote and her brother managed to get assigned not to Ramallah, but to a base in Texas. There is an old Arab proverb. Hell wasn’t bad enough so Allah made Mesopotamia and added flies. I don’t know if there is an Arab proverb about Texas. In this case it would have to be positive. I wonder if the reserves gives health care in a situation like this?

Her Air America connections also got her into blogging. She also started blogging. Not the usual MySpace or Blogspot teen angst blogs, she got recruited by the political blog Powers & Morrison. Now she does her own left of center blogging in an arena most people don’t manage after years of scribbling.

And the best part is that Freckles makes a real splash. She’s smart; writes well; she really tries to understand issues; and, I get the impression, would desperately like to learn to change the world. What can you say about a 14 15 year old who has Helen Thomas as her rolemodel? (Me, I’d probably pick Jon Steward and I have several decades on Freckles.)

If you’re interested, you can listen to Freckles tell some of her story during a radio call in last summer. Whether you listen to her or not, I would definitely recommend reading her blog, Political Teen Tidbits.

Sometimes you need to push the good. I hope Freckles has a long and illustrious career in blogging, journalism, politics or whatever she ends up doing. She certainly has an excellent start.

So why don’t you go over and say hi to Freckles personally.


One Quail Is Worth Two Bushes

Gee, this is potentially explosive. After the pre-Christmas graphic novel, one might have thought that the NRA had shot its load. Not quite. Land Lobsters

It seems the NRA members, those intrepid defenders of liberty and fighters of hairy-legged eco-terrorists, are pressuring for a little distance to the Bush administration. Blaine Harden (you can’t make these names up) of The Washington Post reported on Sunday,

After years of close association with the Republican Party and hard-nosed opposition to federal land-use regulation, the National Rifle Association is being pressured by its membership to distance itself from President Bush’s energy policies that have opened more public land for oil and gas drilling and limited access to hunters and anglers.

“The Bush administration has placed more emphasis on oil and gas than access rights for hunters,” said Ronald L. Schmeits, second vice president of the NRA, a member of its board of directors and a bank president in Raton, N.M.

The new emphasis on the issue of access to public lands, which Schmeits said is at the “discussion” level among the NRA’s directors, would represent a strategic shift for the NRA, whose leadership in Washington has long maintained that its 4 million members were not complaining or even asking questions about access to public lands.

The article goes on to mention that the NRA isn’t really doing all that well themselves. In what is apparently a mentally “politically challenging time” for the NRA, they are under (verbal) fire from the very base they claim to support, the hunters. The WP article continues,

“The core, the dream, the passion that drives gun ownership is hunting and getting out on the wide open spaces,” said a senior gun company executive who did not want to be quoted by name for fear of retribution from the NRA. “In the same way the Bush administration has overreached on Iraq, the NRA has overreached on gun rights. We are losing our grip on this green environmental thing.”

Careful readers of this blog will realise that the whole “green environmental” grip is totally in the claws of the dreaded jihadist land-lobsters and terrorist owls. But I do find it refreshing that it is a gun company executive giving the Post part of the back story. He did however have to remain nameless. Wouldn’t want to end up like a deer on Dick Cheneys front lawn, would he?

I admit, there were really only two reasons for this post. The first was to show the wonderfully neo-Nazi-classical image from the pre-Christmas NRA scare pamphlet and the second to give Moxiegrrl a huge hat tip for this tidbit.

But I still can’t help thinking. Is one bagged Quail worth more than a Bush in the White House? Maybe we should ask Dick Cheney… or Dan Q.

Total Recall Care

Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a new healthcare package for California. Both the LA Times and The New York Times headline the story.

While necessary, it also points to the rapidly regressing social structure in society today. The reforms that labor leaders fought and died for in the early part of the 20th-century are falling apart in the first decade of the 21st.

The scale of the problem is immense. This from the NY Times coverage,

A total of 6.5 million people, one-fifth of the state’s population, do not have health insurance, far more than in any other state. At least one million of the uninsured are illegal immigrants, state officials say.
The plan, which Mr. Schwarzenegger estimated would cost $12 billion, calls for many employers that do not offer health insurance to contribute to a fund that would help pay for coverage of the working uninsured. It would also require doctors to pay 2 percent and hospitals 4 percent of their revenues to help cover higher reimbursements for those who treat patients enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. [my emphasis]

Part of Schwarzeneggers motivation might come from his ‘old Europe’ heritage. Maybe he remembers his childhood in Austria where universal coverage is considered normal. I can’t think of any European country that doesn’t have universal healthcare systems. Not that many of those systems aren’t in financial trouble. In Germany, the debate isn’t about whether people should have healthcare or not but that the system slowly is devolving into two class system, healthcare for the rich and life support for the rest.

But from the looks of it, Schwarzenegger really does want the new system to work. He wants to try to attack the problem where it is worst and help those most in need. The LA Times points out

The governor also wants to ban insurers from refusing to offer coverage to some individuals because of their prior medical conditions. Insurers would also have to spend at least 85% of their premium revenues on patient care, a move that would limit the amount companies spend on administrative costs and profits.

In an effort to cover all Californian children, including ones in the state illegally, Schwarzenegger’s plan would expand the state’s Healthy Families program, providing insurance to children whose parents make less than three times the poverty level. That works out to about $60,000 for a family of four.

This will both make lots of people hopeful and probably piss off even more. Fortunately, Arnold has a plan. He has already figured out how to avoid being assassinated. Of course this picture from the New York Times does remind me of a movie…

Total Recall

Brave New World? No. 1984? No. Oh! I remember… Total Recall!

Update: For an excellent overview of the details of the program, you should head over to The Sentinel Effect where Richard Eskow has all the major points in one swell foop.