The picture on the left is a 3D ultrasound image of Grayson at 30 weeks gestation. The one on the right is him now, at 6 years old. If you are a pro-life Republican who is vocal about passing legislation that would protect the sanctity of life of the baby on the left, but are silent regarding legislation that will strip healthcare benefits for the child on the right, you are not pro-life.
If you are willing to accept a law that will make a C-section a pre-existing condition (and thus make future health care harder to get and more expensive), then morally demand that a woman carry a baby who is incompatible with life to term, you are not pro-life.
If you want a woman to be legally obligated to bring a baby into the world who is diagnosed in utero with profound medical needs, but then won't accept any responsibility as a member of society to care for those needs, you are not pro-life.
If you clutch your pearls at the mention of comprehensive sex education or get riled up about "paying for someone else's birth control" because your moral code is abstinence, you are part of the abortion problem. It has been shown over and over again that abstinence-only programs do not work in preventing unwanted pregnancies. Contraception works. You are not pro-life.
If you support the latest version of the AHCA, you are literally incentivizing abortion. There are women who will now abort for fear of themselves or their child being considered a "preexisting condition" and unable to get insurance. You can't have it both ways. You can't call yourself pro-life and stand by idly while millions of people are stripped of their healthcare benefits. If you think the right to be born is a basic human right, but access to healthcare is not, you are not pro-life.
If you are truly pro-life (womb to tomb), please call your senators today and demand that they vote NO on the ACHA. It takes just a few minutes. Please. There's too much at stake to be apathetic about this issue.
In this op-ed, writer Lincoln Blades explores why America needs to address the presence of white male extremists.
Since September 11, 2001, preventing terrorism in the United States has become one of the main concerns of citizens, policymakers, and law enforcement agencies. Leaders believe that battling "terror" isn't just done by waging war on jihadists themselves, but also on their ideology. When an attack whose perpetrator is affiliated with Islam occurs on American soil, the nation collectively recoils in horror at the audacious attack, mourns for those we've lost, and then subsequently doubles down on rooting out any semblance of pro-extremist thought in our society.
When the assailant is identified, intelligence agencies conduct a thorough investigation into the subject's known terror ties. These ties are provided to outlets that, in real time, condemn the violent extremism that animated the subject. When bad actors align themselves with extremist Islamic ideology, information about those who propagate this dangerous dogma is eagerly consumed because we deem it essential — not to just know what happened, but everything and every person that may have influenced what happened. Yet when it comes to domestic terrorism carried out by white men, such thorough accounting lacks.
Last week, America found itself in a terrifying and simultaneously familiar place: mourning the loss of life after a mass shooting. On Sunday, April 30, Monique Clark, a 35-year-old mother of three daughters, was killed after a gunman opened fire at guests at a poolside party inside an apartment complex. In addition to Clark, six other people — mostly black and Latinx — were injured in the shooting spree by a 49-year-old white male named Peter Selis. In the wake of the attack, witnesses and victims attested that race was a prominent factor in the shooting. Yet San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said just one day after the shooting that there was "zero information" that race contributed to the attack. (Navy Lt. j.g. Lauren Chapman, one of the attendees of the party, said she felt "heartbreak" at the police's dismissal of this motive, which witnesses say was a major factor.) The shooting received such little immediate coverage that people took to social media to blast major networks and politicians for their lack of reporting, and terror context.
America has been reticent to label white male mass shooters as domestic terrorists, and there's a hesitation from politicians, law enforcement agencies, and society as a whole, to investigate what animates the brutal actions of these attackers, who are mostly white and male, and whose actions are often rationalized. "There were over 300 mass shootings [in which four or more people were injured] in the United States in 2015, and less than 1 percent of them were committed by Muslims," Arsalan Iftikhar, a U.S. human rights lawyer and author, said in an interview last year. "But it was the one committed by Muslims in San Bernardino that was immediately labeled an act of terrorism,'" he said, referring to the December 2015 shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, wherein Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people and injured 22 others after declaring allegiance to the Islamic State.
After the San Bernardino shooting, Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio all jumped at the opportunity to declare that America was at "war." Then candidate, and current president, Donald Trump took the rhetoric a step further by calling for a broad-sweeping ban on Muslims entering the United States. But, five days earlier, a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs was targeted by a white male devout Christian, and there was no degree of rage expressed by those same Republican presidential candidates or the accompanying hyperbolic war proclamations. In fact, the shooter, Robert Dear, was referred to as a "gentle loner" by The New York Times.
Since 9/11, American citizens are seven times more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than a Muslim attacker. Yet, when we speak about the two in comparison, even elected officials refuse to relay that reality to the public.
In a nation where we strive to understand religious propaganda in order to prevent further indoctrination, it's crucial we take a more serious approach in identifying white nationalist, white supremacist, misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic agitprop. We can not and should not dismiss any prejudiced motive because, by fact, the most common and most lethal form of domestic terrorism isn't carried out by brown-skinned Islamic jihadists. And while the U.S. does not decrease its efforts to root out terrorism based on Muslim fundamentalism, the number one question that Americans of all backgrounds should be asking is: Who and what is radicalizing white male terrorists?
Who radicalized Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who in 2015 executed nine unarmed black churchgoers inside of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina? After he was arrested, it was discovered that he had published a website where he espoused racist ideology, regurgitating bigoted talking points on the false "epidemic" of "black-on-white" crime, espousing that black people are inherently "violent" and that white women need to be protected from black men. It's easy to say that his views were influenced by a small, fringe group of insane right-wing extremists, but it's seemingly far more difficult for us to collectively accept that these prejudiced talking points have been given life through mainstream media bias, and even by the president of the United States, who once tweeted a racist meme that incorrectly cited myths about "black-on-white" crime in America as fact.
What radicalized James Harris Jackson, the 28-year-old white man who allegedly traveled 200 miles on a bus from Baltimore to New York with the express intent of killing a black man in the media capital of the world, according to statements he gave to police? He allegedly stabbed 66-year-old Timothy Caughman to death with a 26-inch sword with an 18-inch blade. Like Roof, Jackson reportedly had a manifesto outlining his hatred for black people, which he wanted to give to The New York Times, the Times reported. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Jackson expressed that he wished he had killed a "successful older black man with blondes." The link between white men killing black men in the name of white women's virtue has a long and violent ideological place in American history — but lacks evaluation with the same fervor.
In America, where antiterrorist thought has ruled the century, a citizen's safety faces far greater risk due to texting while driving or tripping down the stairs than being killed by a foreign-born refugee jihadist. Women in America face more danger from their husbands than they do a Muslim terrorist. In America, where predominantly white and predominantly male antigovernment militias rank as law enforcement's most prevalent threat, according to a 2015 report, law enforcement agents face more significant danger from armed white men than Jihadists. Yet here we are, willfully aiming to dismantle any semblance of growing extremist thought, while ignoring the many different forms of radicalization that are resulting in a large swath of vicious behavior.
In America, citizens must grapple with reality. Not only is white male terrorism as dangerous as Islamic extremism, but our collective safety rests in rooting out the source of their radicalization.
Related: many of the violent crimes in the news are committed by someone with a history of domestic violence which was ignored by the police & others. We never seem to consider whether that could have been done better – in stark contrast to air travelers changing their wardrobe or bagged based after every failed attempt
A media theorist on how this 30-year-old book predicted todays’ politics.
Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Deathwas written in 1985, but it reads like prophecy today. On the first page, just a few paragraphs in, is the following passage:
What George Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Aldous Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture ... As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distraction.”
This 30-year-old book, written by a relatively unknown media critic who died in 2003, captures our cultural and political moment with terrifying precision, and helps explain how we ended up with a reality TV charlatan as president.
“We’re a culture whose information, ideas and epistemology,” Postman wrote, “are now given form by TV, not by the printed word.” All of reality is a show, in other words, and has to be seen and experienced as such. This is especially true of politics, which, in the age of TV, is almost entirely about optics and entertainment.
The questions Postman raises in Amusing Ourselves to Death are jarring. The Atlantic’s Megan Garber addresses some of them in a superb essay about the social and political costs we’ve paid for prizing entertainment above everything else. Our entire culture, she notes, is built on cosmetics and performance, as the internal logic of television demands.
Garber’s piece sums up Postman’s thesis quite well, but I wanted to dive a little deeper into the media theory behind it. How, exactly, has television transformed American life, and how has the shift from a print-based culture to an image-based culture changed the nature of our minds?
To get some answers to these and other questions, I reached out to Lance Strate, a professor of communications at Fordham University and perhaps the leading media ecologist in the country.
The author of Amazing Ourselves to Death: Neil Postman’s Brave New World, Strate has written extensively about Postman’s legacy, and about the cultural impact of television. He argues that our desire for entertainment has become “positively toxic” and in this new world defined by TV, the power of the image has overwhelmed our capacity to think and reason carefully.
In this interview, I ask Strate what Postman meant when he wrote that our culture had “descended into a vast triviality.” I also ask him if TV has trivialized our politics and made us all dumber as a result.
What did Postman mean by the phrase “amusing ourselves to death”?
He meant that we’re having a very good time, surrounded in every moment by distractions and entertainment, and that while that could normally be considered a good thing, something we’d like to have in our lives, we were starting to overdose on it. We had reached the point where the impulse for entertainment had become positively toxic.
What, exactly, was Postman’s argument? Why was the shift from a text-based culture to an image-based culture so consequential?
His argument rested on two main issues. One is image culture. Television, being image-based, is not conducive to rationality or really any kind of logical discourse. It's good for evoking emotional responses but not for deep thought and reflection.
One of the reasons people thought that digital media and computers were different was that so much of it was actually text-based. But what we see is that as the technology has evolved and progressed more and more, we have the graphical user interface, we have the use of icons, emojis, and of course a tremendous amount of video that now dominates the web. So all of that really indicates that contemporary technologies have amplified the image orientation that was present with television.
The other part of it was the immediacy. All forms of electronic communication move very quickly. We have instantaneous communication which gives us a kind of telegraphic discourse. And Twitter is just the latest form of this telegraphic discourse.
To the extent that we use language, we use it in this very abbreviated way, and that again is not conducive to logical or extended discourse. It's very good for slogans and jokes, and for trivial matters. But it feeds this tendency to turn things over quickly. We don’t stay on a subject for very long. Like, say, the news cycle itself, we just shift mindlessly from one story or subject to another.
Ultimately, we’ve overwhelmed with a flood of information and imagery. There is no time for reflection, for careful thought, for serious study.
Like Marshall McLuhan, Postman is convinced that the surest way to see to the core of a culture is to look at its tools of conversation. Why is this the defining feature of a culture?
What is a culture except for its conversation or its use of language? I mean, without that we're kind of on the level of primates, really. What sets us apart from any other species is our use of language and symbols. And what is it that sets us apart from the kind of tribal cultures that were the only form of culture for something on the order of 100,000 years or more? As compared to the civilizations that only started to pop up somewhere between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago.
And that's writing. That's what we see in Mesopotamia, in Egypt, later in India and China, and of course in Greece and ancient Israel. You know we see the writing systems pop up that make all of those extraordinary cultures that possible, that's the greatest revolution in human history, and as we progress forward what is it that put an end to the medieval world and brought us into the modern world? And, along the same lines, what is it that made the West preeminent because it wasn't preeminent in the middle ages? And that was the printing press.
But the age of the printing press is over now. This is the point that Postman drives home. Our communication is now electronic and image-based, and that has had profound consequences.
That’s right. This was Marshall McLuhan’s point as well. We’ve had what he called an alphabetic civilization for more than 2 millennia. Well over 2 millennia. And we've come to the end of that road. It's over. And it was over in his time, and he kind of sensed that. And that is the electronic media. And it's really with television that it fully came into its own as a dominant medium.
And then digital media, the internet and all of that, that's really further development, further progression. But all of the characteristics we associate with digital media were pretty much there in the 19th century with the telegraph and the telephone.
I’m trying to connect all of this to politics. The world that TV has built is precisely the world in which someone like Donald Trump can become president. When Postman writes, “We may have reached the point where cosmetics has replaced ideology as the field of expertise over which a politician must have competent control,” it’s hard not to see how depressingly accurate he was. Is there any doubt politics is now about the artifice of display and not the content of ideas?
Well, you can go back to Reagan, who was elected a few years before Postman wrote this book, and the shocking event of an actor being elected president. In that case, you can see that there was, like, one foot in the old world and one in the new world. Reagan at least had some prior political experience, but his acting experience is what got him elected.
Postman was trying to make sense of the fact that if you look at what was going on at that time, the early ’80s, all the opinion polls were showing that Reagan had enormous popular appeal. And yet when people were asked about the issues, their views on the issues, they were diametrically opposed to them. And yet they voted for him anyway.
And this is the major disconnect between political issues and ideology. And really even if you look at the word ideology, you'll see that it's a system of ideas, which is what party platforms argue about. That made a lot of sense when print was the dominant medium, but it means nothing today.
Today, it’s all about the power of the image, of entertainment, of spectacle.
Let’s talk about the medium of TV and why it matters so much. For Postman, there was a clear relationship between a medium and the level of ideas it can sustain or communicate. TV, by virtue of what it is, seems to reduce everything to entertainment.
Well, I think we can qualify that. I don't think you can say it can only be a form of entertainment. But in his time he wrote about PBS News Hour, which, compared to network news, was more in depth, spent more time on a story. And he actually said, the words were, "Their audience is minuscule."
So let's fast forward to today. And you can have CSPAN. And you can actually watch Congress at work. But how many people are watching?
Practically no one.
I think the word minuscule applies even more so in that instance. And why? If you think about television news, and really at the time that Postman wrote this, people were saying, "Well, we only have half an hour, and that's with commercials, to do the news. If we had more time we could go in-depth."
But now we've got three major cable news networks, and where's the depth? It's not there. Why? Because it doesn't look good on television. It doesn’t play well, it’s not entertaining. Television exists to show us compelling images in a dramatic format — that’s it. And this is what we all come to expect the more we watch it.
CNN has all this time on their hands. What do they do? They show us the music of the ’60s. And Anthony Bourdain eating in exotic places. TLC used to be the learning channel and now it’s the Honey Boo Boo channel. You see a similar trajectory with almost every network — it’s always from more to less depth.
This is what we mean when we talk about the bias of the medium. And we mean bias not in the sense of prejudice, but bias as in tendency. The tendency for things to roll down a hill rather than up a hill. And downhill on TV is toward exciting images, dramatic performance, compelling personalities, and triviality.
Has TV made us dumb? Has it permanently trivialized our politics?
Well, it short-circuits our ability to think clearly and in depth. It's a constant stream of distractions that interfere with any kind of rational response to the world. I've been thinking about this because Daniel Boorstin wrote a wonderful book called The Imagethat Amusing Ourselves to Death draws on along with Marshall McLuhan. And I've been thinking about this regarding Trump because Boorstin coined the term “pseudo-events."
He coined this term to describe how Joseph McCarthy was incredibly skillful at manipulating the press. For example, how he would call a press conference in the morning to announce that he would hold a press conference in the afternoon with new revelations about communists and government. And then whether he actually did call the press conference in the afternoon or not didn't matter. The aim was to dominate the newspapers, which, at that time, came out in multiple editions a day.
This was an early example of how the image-based media transformed our politics, and in almost universally unproductive ways.
One of the more interesting aspects of the book is about how TV has altered our epistemology, how we know things. We respond to images, not words, and that leaves us more open to manipulation.
Epistemology is how we know the world, how we learn about aspects of our environment. In large part, what we take in from our environment is mediated. I’ve never been Russia. I’ve never met Putin. I have to rely on information I get through the media that is available to me. But their biases also color the way I understand the world.
In an earlier age, someone like Putin would just be a name I read. Now there's a face and a voice and I make a judgment based on how that person looks and sounds. And this is true of nearly everything and everyone these days: We make judgments based on imagery, not the printed word.
I think this means we’re much more emotionally connected to the rest of the world. That can be good in times, but it also means that we’re much more open to being manipulated.
Can we draw a straight line between TV and post-factuality? Surely it’s no accident that facts have become less important as more and more of reality gets reduced to a TV show.
Facts are the magic matter of rational discourse. A fact is a statement, it's language. People use the word in different ways, but it really takes a statement to make a fact. And in technical terms, a fact is something that you can check out.
So if I tell you it's raining outside right now, then it's something that you can check out and determine whether it's true or false. And technically a statement of fact can be false. But the point is that you can see that it's false, you can check it out.
Reagan was famous for false facts. Many of them turned out to be things he saw in movies. But they were statements that could be checked out. Where we've gone beyond that is the fact that it doesn't seem to matter anymore when people point out that statements are false, or that whole thing of alternate facts and post-truth. It's like true and false really doesn't matter. And it's sort of interesting how they use the word “believe” now.
I hear people say, "Well, Trump believes this to be true." That belief is the source of truth does signal a reversal of a literate, typographic epistemology in which you make a clearly defined statement that we can go and test in the world, and that's the basis of science, as opposed to an older epistemology, like the oral tradition, where we believe to be true what we sing in our songs, what we've passed on from generations.
But now belief is about feeling, emotion — it’s about the person. It's no longer whether you believe that the world is round or flat, which is a belief that can be checked out. It's now: Do you believe in Trump? Or, do you believe in Hillary Clinton? Or, do you believe in whoever. But that's a different kind of belief. It's all about the person, and how we feel about the person is shaped by TV.
How do we course-correct? Because there is no going back. For better or worse, the written word will always be secondary. So is it a matter of media literacy or what?
Well, I think Postman held out great hope for education as a way of addressing these problems. Which also means really emphasizing the enlightenment tradition of rational discourse and just plain literacy and not giving in to the latest and trying to make a school compete with television or the internet. So that is certainly part of the solution.
I think we have to talk and to read. It may well be that the only way we ever get things done is locally, and through personal connections and trying to work that way. I just don't see any top down solution to this. But I think that we can certainly try to improve things. If everyone did that or if enough people did that on a personal level, that's one way that this could be countered.
The latest effort to replace Obamacare has serious consequences for millions of Americans who rely on government subsidized health care. But it has also cast uncertainty on hiring in the health care industry, which has been a driving force in the country’s economic recovery and growth.
Since the start of the recession, the health care industry has created 2.5 million new jobs in hospitals, nursing homes, and doctor’s offices. Aging baby boomers and the growing number of senior citizens who need health services has led to higher demand for health care workers. The passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, which required all Americans to purchase health insurance and expanded federal subsidies, also encouraged hiring.
The latest jobs report, released Friday, shows just how much the health care sector continues to fuel job growth. The US economy added 211,000 jobs in April, according to the estimates released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s more than double the number for March, which was unusually low. Aside from leisure and hospitality jobs, some of the largest job gains came from hiring in the health care sector, which added 20,000 jobs. Nurses, physicians, and home health aides were among the most in-demand positions.
While the number of new health care jobs continues to grow, hiring has slowed in recent months. In 2016, the industry creating an average of 32,000 new jobs each month. In 2017, that has dropped to about 19,000. The cause of the slowdown is unclear, though the uncertain future of Obamacare has put the health care industry on edge.
“It makes employers think twice about hiring,” says Vivian Ho, a health economist at Rice University. She believes the uncertainty is the biggest factor slowing down job growth in the industry, though rising out-of-pocket costs for workers with employer-sponsored health insurance could also play a role.
When patients can pay, hospitals can hire
For hospitals, the number one concern about the Republican health bill, known as the American Health Care Act, is that it will scale back expansion of Medicaid coverage. That’s a huge source of income for health care providers, says Beth Feldpush, senior vice president of policy and advocacy at America’s Essential Hospitals, which represents 300 hospitals across the country.
“Hospitals are very concerned that [the new health care bill] will have a huge financial impact,” says Feldpush, adding that it has led hospitals to put off hiring and expansion plans. “The largest cost for a hospital is employees and staff, so this is often where they start looking at ways to cut back.”
Obamacare subsidized insurance coverage for millions of Americans, turning many more uninsured patients into paying customers. This allowed hospitals to hire more nurses, doctors, and technicians. Uninsured patients had been costing hospitals a lot of money, as emergency rooms are not allowed, by law, to turn away people who can’t pay.
Research suggests the ACA led directly to 240,000 new health care jobs in 2014 and 2015, says Ani Turner, a health economist at the Altarum Institute, a nonprofit health systems research center based in Michigan. That was a third of the sector’s job growth during that time.
The recent industry hiring slowdown is probably a mix of two factors, Turner says: the Obamacare boom has petered out, and uncertainty has risen about the future of health care funding under Republican efforts to replace the law.
“Everyone is wondering if people are going to be covered, and what are the provisions for uncompensated care?” she says. “There is a lot at stake for them.”
The uneasiness has also extended to the health insurance industry, with companies announcing plansto pull out of insurance exchanges in certain states. They’ve complained that Obamacare has raised their costs too much by not letting them increase premiums on people with preexisting conditions, and that not enough young, healthy people are signing up to even out the burden.
It also didn’t help that the Trump administration has signaled that it will take a lax approach to enforcing the individual mandate.
Since April, three health insurers have announced plans to pull out of Iowa in 2018, which could leave more than 70,000 people in the state without coverage, according to USA Today.
The cost of the American Health Care Act is still unknown
The AHCA, which passed the House on the Thursday, would scale back many government subsidies for the poorest and sickest patients. House Republicans voted on it without waiting for an in-depth analysis of its most recent amendments by the Congressional Budget Office. However, a CBO analysis of an earlier version of the bill estimates that 14 million people could lose their health insurance by 2018 as a result.
It’s not easy to guess how many health care jobs would be lost under the bill. But health policy researchers at George Washington University believe 1.5 million jobs across the country could disappear just from ending the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, as the AHCA would eventually do. Researchers believe that most jobs would be in the health care industry, though not all.
Funding cuts would first affect organizations and their workers, but would then “ripple out” to other businesses and workers in several sectors. Health care providers will probably hire fewer workers, lower salaries, and reduce their purchases of goods and services. In turn, workers have less to spend on housing, food, and transportation, while downstream businesses are also forced to cut back. Researchers at George Washington University expect the law to have “widespread repercussions” on the US job market.
Unsurprisingly, states with a large health care workforce — like California and Florida — are at risk of losing the most jobs from the changes.