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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tempest in an overpriced organic tea pot

  I think I know what Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's actual, failed evil plan was for his recent, wacky editorial John Mackey: The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare - ( I'm surprised it didn't work, because it generally does.

If you are unaware, the CEO of Whole Foods has inspired boycotts and barrages of thoroughly entertaining counter-commentary by slamming not just Obama's health proposals, but the very idea than any living person should feel entitled to health care, food, or shelter in a classic conservative opinion piece that is even now, somewhere in this country, being used to deny orphans in some backwater child-warehouse a hot lunch.

He argues for some hilarious right-wing positions, such as that only charity should provide care for the uninsured (recently laid off executives and 40-years-of-service machinists, this means you!), and that what is covered by insurance should be based on what is profitable and popular. Popular likely is intended to mean profitable, as there is no mechanism for "popular choice" voting on your coverage when you are diabetic or have cancer.

I, personally, am convinced that Mr. Mackey thought no one would actually absorb the details of his position, that it would be impossible for anyone to take a stand against his positions, because he put in some information that is guaranteed to wipe the minds of all American readers. I'm going to quote him here, at risk of having you find yourself wandering aimlessly beside a freeway, unsure of how you arrived there. Here are his words:
Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.

Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.
We all know it: Americans ignore science-based diet and health advice of all kinds with amazing mental skill. You can literally watch people's eyes roll back into their heads as they experience a terrible, brief struggle to justify the chicken-fried steak with French fries in front of them, knowing that every major scientific institution has repeatedly announced that, moderation be damned, that crap will kill you. As a culture, Americans block this kind of data out so eagerly, so quickly, that they are temporarily disoriented and lose their place in conversation before realizing where they are, erasing all information recently absorbed, and dipping the next bite of fried batter into melted butter.

I believe this: Mr. Mackey was so convinced that our minds would be wiped clear by our panic to justify our alarming way of eating that the rest of his editorial would seem nearly sane. It failed, which shocks me: this may be a first in this country. A variety of incredibly powerful forces had to work in concert for this brain-wiping not to work. I'm currently crediting several things: the dissatisfaction of the lucky insured with their coverage (if this is the best we have to offer, we should reboot and try again); the masses of the newly uninsured who realize that they still have physical bodies, despite not having jobs; Obama's popularity; and the fact that Mackey didn't drop the mind-wipe-bomb until people were already feeling outraged.


The best part of the timing of this editorial: it is during the Obama Administration. If this we were still under the previous Administration, Mr. Mackey would be assigned to be the first responder to all flu pandemics, anthrax scares, and other health menaces. He would be the first to say that if the free market hadn't already developed a cure for pig/deer/cow/hamster flu, we aren't rich enough to deserve to survive it anyway. That would be awesome.


P.S. To Mackey: it's not "other people's money" we're going to spend on health care, it is MINE. I want my taxes spent on health care (among other things), like millions of other people. That's called popular choice, and you mention it often enough that you might know what it means.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)7:00 AM

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Republican Tactics to Block the Vote : Rolling Stone

  To make up for citing The New Yorker, I will now provide a link to a great political article in a very different publication: Block the Vote : Rolling Stone (, 10/30/08 edition). The article describes efforts to block voter registration drives, purge registration lists of democrats and minorities, and other dirty dealings that could help the Republicans take the presidency this fall without having to rely on an honest popular vote. Sample:
Under the Help America Vote Act, some states now reject first-time registrants whose data does not correspond to information in other government databases... Indeed, a recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that as many as 20 percent of discrepancies between voter records and driver's licenses in New York City are simply typing mistakes made by government clerks when they transcribe data. But under the new rules, those mistakes are costing citizens the right to vote. In California, a Republican secretary of state blocked 43 percent of all new voters in Los Angeles from registering in early 2006 — many because of the state's failure to produce a tight match. In Florida, GOP officials created "match" rules that rejected more than 15,000 new registrants in 2006 and 2007 — nearly three-fourths of them Hispanic and black voters. Given the big registration drives this year, the number could be five times higher by November.
If your party can't find a way to appeal to Hispanics or Blacks, disenfranchising those voters is a handy alternative, apparently.

Why are they using these tactics? They work. Remember 2000?
Prior to the 2000 election, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris and her predecessor, both Republicans, tried to purge 57,000 voters, most of them African-Americans, because their names resembled those of persons convicted of a crime. The state eventually acknowledged that the purges were improper — two years after the election.
This is a worthwhile article about the ongoing efforts to undermine democracy in America. Go read it.


posted by Arlene (Beth)8:18 PM

How on Earth Can Anyone Be Undecided (unless they have been trapped in a cave for the last decade without access to media)?

  I generally make it my policy not to cite the New Yorker. I am not a New Yorker; I no longer even subscribe to the New York Times, preferring the Washington Post consistently. I also fear that many people who go out of their way to say they saw something in the New Yorker are posers.

However, I love David Sedaris' writing (including his book Naked, which made me burst into hysterical tears several times), and so I was thrilled that a Facebook friend quoted from this article: Shouts & Murmurs: Undecided by David Sedaris: Humor: The New Yorker (

The part I could quote would just plain ruin it for you, so just go ahead and read it on your own.


posted by Arlene (Beth)8:01 PM

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