Thursday, July 24, 2014

The good news about Obamacare you might have missed (updated)

While almost everyone is focusing on the recent Halbig decision by a federal court, you might have missed some good news that was just announced about Obamacare. As background, I've been paying a lot of attention to what I think is one of the most important insurance reforms included in the legislation - the medical loss ratios. They require insurance companies to spend 85% (80% for those in the small group market) of premiums on healthcare. If they spend more than 15-20% on administration/profit, they are required to pay it back in a rebate to their customers.

The Department of Health and Human Services just announced that those rebate checks will be in the mail shortly.
U.S. health insurers will send out about $330 million in rebates to employers and individuals this summer under President Barack Obama's healthcare law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday...

The rebates will go to about 6.8 million people and have a value of about $80 per family. They are to be sent by Aug. 1 either directly to consumers or to the employer providing the health coverage, who is required to pass the savings onto employees, the agency said in a report.
But perhaps even more important is the impact this provision has had on premiums overall.
If insurance companies had maintained the 2011 ratio of premiums relative to the cost of medical care, consumers would have spent $3.8 billion more in additional premiums in 2013, the health agency said.
In other words, in 2013 Obamacare saved us all $3.8 billion in premiums via the medical loss ratios. That, my friends, is a BFD!!!

UPDATE: The White House just released this image showing the total savings from 2011-2013.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Some food for thought

In some ways, Rep. Steve King is right

Apparently Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) went on a racist tirade against President Obama recently.
“His vision of America isn’t like our vision of America. That we know,” King said about Obama at an immigration rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, according to Buzzfeed.
It was racist in that he went on to say that President Obama's experience was not "an American experience." But the truth is, he was right in saying that his own "vision of America" is different from Obama's.

As a white person, I can only speak for myself is saying that my experience of America never included:
  • having my qualifications for a job questioned until I proved my citizenship
  • being racially profiled
  • an assumption that I got into college only because of affirmative action
  • being called "gangsta" if I got angry
  • having to carry my papers with me in case of a traffic stop
  • regularly being followed by security in stores
  • threatened with my life if my music was too loud in my car
  • an assumption that I was a threat because I wore a hoodie
  • a demand that I prove I'm in my own home and subsequent arrest for disorderly conduct when I resisted
  • getting pulled over by police for "driving while black"
  • being stopped and frisked for no reason
I could go on. But perhaps you've gotten the point by now. Those are the kinds of things that are happening to brown/black people in this country. President Obama's vision of America is one where the idea that "all men (and women) are created equal" applies to everyone and those kinds of things don't happen anymore. In that way, his vision of America is very different that Rep. King's - who seems to have no problem with the status quo.

I say all this because it goes to the heart of the challenge we are facing as a country today...who's vision of America will prevail? Does our vision include the experiences of everyone - or only those of white people? The truth is - I don't know what its like to be a person of color in this country because I haven't experienced it. In order to craft a vision that includes everyone, I need to listen to those who have a different experience. That is the only way we'll ever "form a more perfect union."  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Four Simple Questions

In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions:
  1. When did you stop dancing?
  2. When did you stop singing?
  3. When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
  4. When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?
Let's see...it seems I've heard something similar from a great man. Where was that? Oh yeah, here:

"It is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world...and at peace with myself."
Nelson Mandela

The most unrecognized element of President Obama's legacy

When people consider President Obama's legacy, most often they'll talk about health care reform or saving us from another great depression. But rarely do people cite what BooMan talked about.
I have a theory that when the Republican Party finally collapses as a national party it will happen suddenly and without much warning. It could happen as early as this November, although I am not ready to make that prediction just yet...

But the game is nonetheless up. The best movement conservatism can hope for at this point is a flash in the pan confluence of bad news timed at just the right moment to give them the unlikeliest of national victories. This country has totally moved on from their ideology.
Actually, the country moved on from their economic and foreign policy ideology after the disaster of the Bush/Cheney administration. On cultural issues, it was just a matter of time.

But it didn't have to be this way. From the beginning, President Obama reached out to Republicans to work with him on developing bipartisan responses to the challenges we faced as a country. David Frum lamented the fact that Republicans could have taken another path on health care reform.
At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994...

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big...Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views?
As I've written so often, in response to this kind of obstruction, President Obama implemented conciliatory rhetoric as a ruthless strategy. In other words, his outstretched hand demonstrated the intransigence on the Republican side of the isle and left them with no choice but to embrace increasingly marginalized positions in order to justify their obstruction.

Just as Frum speculated on a different course for Republicans, imagine with me for a moment what would have transpired if President Obama had taken the advice of many on the left and decided to fight fire with fire. What if, for example, he had responded to their obstruction by insisting on single payer for health care reform or refused to include tax cuts in the stimulus bill? Don't even THINK about suggesting Republicans would have budged on either of those if he had insisted. Neither side would have prevailed and the resulting chaos would have been a Republican dream come true.

In the end, the Republicans chose their own path of obstruction and increasing marginalization. President Obama's response ensured that would mean their demise...not his. It might take years for us to see the full result of those decisions. But when it all unfolds, it will be one of the most important ingredients of this President's legacy.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Photo of the Day: What the world needs now...


Will Bunch writes that "What the world needs now is more like this guy...James Garner." He goes on to quote this from a 2011 interview with Garner.
Garner is what he calls a "bleeding-heart liberal," having participated in the 1963 civil rights March on Washington and later advocating for a number of progressive causes. He voted for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, he writes, but never cast a ballot for a Republican again. He voted for Adlai Stevenson in 1956, and calls him "the most intelligent presidential candidate we've ever had. I think Obama runs a close second."
And then Bunch adds his own commentary about current events.
Yes, the world needs some replacements for James Garner, and it also needs, in the words of the song, some love, sweet, love. One reason I posted this photo tonight is that it struck me as the antidote to the last week -- to the brute force and continuing stupidity in eastern Ukraine, to the non-stop killing in Gaza, to the haters blockading buses of refugee kids fleeing from violence, to the senseless police brutality that took place this week on a Staten Island street corner. It's hard to deal sometimes. For just a minute or two, I'd rather think of these two holding hands in the maelstrom, 51 years ago this summer.
Ditto a thousand times!!!!!

Hat tip to my friend Alan who somehow knew I needed this today.

I'm going to let the kids of PS22 finish things out for me.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Building a moral fusion movement

I know a lot of you will think that you don't have an hour to listen to Rev. William Barber's speech at Netroots Nation. The media ignored it because he's not likely to be a presidential candidate in 2016. But if you want to be inspired to build a fusion movement that takes our political discussion above the snake line to the moral high ground, I suggest you find the time. Lordy...this man is just what our spirits need these days!

How my grandmother learned to be racist

My maternal grandmother was raised in Kentucky. She was a church-going woman with basically a good heart. And yet as a child, I remember her saying things like, "When a chigger becomes a chigero, a n*gger will become a negro." How does one reconcile that?

Peter Smagorinsky provided some insight that helps answer that question. He recently ran across a 1906 elementary school textbook titled Frye's First Steps in Geography that contained things like a chapter explaining the world's five racial groups. Included was a picture of the "ideal head."

Smagornisky goes on to summarize:
According to this textbook, the white race is the most advanced in the world. Most other races, schoolchildren were taught, tended to have a “savage” character, living in remote areas without industry and Western-style education.
This is the kind of thing my "good-hearted" grandmother would have learned when she was in elementary school.

I grew up pretty blind to how all of this affected me until a few years ago when I watched the series Race: The Power of an Illusion. The film documents that, beginning during the years of slavery in this country, many of our most renowned scientists (i.e., Samuel Morton) devoted themselves to proving that dark-skinned people were inferior. It was a classic case of science being used to bolster ideology. When a country incorporates slavery based on race and its founding documents state categorically that "all men are created equal," it becomes necessary to find a scientific basis to exclude black (and brown) people from that "all."

And so for well over 100 years, children in this country were taught scientific racism. Its more recent manifestation can been seen in Charles Murray's The Bell Curve, which posits that African Americans have lower intelligence than white people.

Of course we now know that there is no science to the construct of race. That's why the documentary calls it an "illusion." But that doesn't change the fact that these notions have been embedded in both our institutions and our psyches. To finally rid ourselves of them requires introspection and examination. For people who haven't begun that journey, images like this one ignite all kinds of unconscious triggers that have been passed on for generations.


Friday, July 18, 2014

The real deal

I remember a scene on West Wing where Josh Lymon tracks down Sam Seaborn, who is working at a law practice, to discuss whether or not they want to get back into politics. Josh is thinking about going to work for Jed Bartlet's presidential campaign. He tells Sam that he's going to check Bartlet out and will get back to him. After doing so, Josh calls Sam to tell him this guy is "the real deal."

I've looked for a clip of that scene on youtube and can't find it. So I'm going from memory. But it stood out to me because that's how I feel like I've spent most of my time following politics...looking for the real deal. One of the reasons I've followed President Obama so closely is that I finally felt like I found just that.

The real deal doesn't come along very often in politics. But I had that same reaction today when I watched this video of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick talk about his plans to work with the federal government to provide shelter for the unaccompanied children who have come here from Central America. You can skip to about 4:45 on the video to see the pertinent portion.


Patrick offered two reasons for his decision. One is the U.S. tradition of helping children from other nations in need. The other, Patrick explained, is deeply personal.

"I believe that we will one day have to answer for our actions and our inactions. My faith teaches that 'if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him,' but rather 'love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt,'" Patrick said , quoting scripture, as he grew visibly emotional.
Yep, that's the real deal!

What Republicans need to learn from Putin

I have always maintained that Republicans faced a crossroads in 2008. Bush/Cheney policies - both foreign and domestic - had proven to be a disaster. Their choice was to either go back to the drawing board and think things through or double down and cling to a failed agenda.

Of course they chose the latter...with a twist. They decided to play the power game of obstruction to anything President Obama proposed. This meant that as he offered an outstretched hand to them, they painted themselves into an ever more extremist corner and fanned the flames of hysteria amongst their base. And so we found ourselves dealing with everything from birth certificates to death panels to accusations of his socialist agenda and - most recently - the idea that the president is a tyrant.

Occasionally this hysteria has bubbled into potentially explosive confrontations (i.e., Bundy ranch). But mostly its been limited to rhetoric - like the talk about "second amendment remedies." Nevertheless, by refusing to compromise and actually govern, the Republicans have been playing a dangerous game that feeds on fear and hate.

Today when I read David Remnick's take on what Putin has been doing in Russia and Ukraine, I couldn't help but notice the parallels.
What’s far more certain is that Vladimir Putin, acting out of resentment and fury toward the West and the leaders in Kiev, has fanned a kind of prolonged political frenzy, both in Russia and among his confederates in Ukraine, that serves his immediate political needs but that he can no longer easily calibrate and control. Putin’s defiant annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of eastern Ukraine inflated his popularity at home. Despite a flaccid economy, his approval rating approaches levels rarely seen beyond North Korea. But the tactically clever and deeply cynical maneuvers of propaganda and military improvisation that have taken him this far, one of his former advisers told me in Moscow earlier this month, are bound to risk unanticipated disasters...

Since returning to the Presidency, Pavlovsky said, Putin has “created an artificial situation in which a ‘pathological minority’—the protesters on Bolotnaya Square [two years ago], then Pussy Riot, then the liberal ‘pedophiles’—is held up in contrast to a ‘healthy majority.’ Every time this happens, his ratings go up.” The nightly television broadcasts from Ukraine, so full of wild exaggeration about Ukrainian “fascists” and mass carnage, are a Kremlin-produced “spectacle,” he said, expertly crafted by the heads of the main state networks.

“Now this has become a problem for Putin, because this system cannot be wholly managed,” Pavlovsky said. The news programs have “overheated” public opinion and the collective political imagination.
Remnick discusses the likelihood that it was "messianic nationalists" inflamed by this political frenzy who are responsible for shooting down the Malaysian passenger plane yesterday over Ukraine. I see that today Putin is trying to tamp things down by calling for a ceasefire and negotiations in Eastern Ukraine. I certainly hope he can put this genie back in the bottle. We'll see.

But Republicans could learn a lesson from all this. Their leaders need to stand up and calm down the escalating rhetoric they've been fueling before someone gets hurt.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What we've learned from the Snowden revelations: The difference between abuse and the potential for abuse

Much of the heat produced by the Snowden revelations has started to calm down. I thought it might be a good time to take a look at the big picture and see what we've learned.

We've learned a lot about the methods/programs NSA uses to collect information: metadata, PRISM, XKeyscore, etc. Its true that all of them provide fertile ground for the potential of abuse by the government. What we haven't learned about are any actual examples of abuse.

Its true that last August Bart Gellman reported that an internal NSA audit found that there were "thousands of 'incidents' or violations of the rules or court orders" under which the agency operates. But there is a significant difference between operator/typographical/computer errors and abuse. That report contained nothing to document the latter.

Recently Glenn Greenwald attempted to demonstrate abuse by reporting on five Muslim leaders the FBI and NSA spied on. But he failed to provide two pieces of important data that might have indicated there is an actual problem with abuse. First of all, he doesn't know whether or not the court approved warrants for this surveillance and if so, why.
Given that the government’s justifications for subjecting Gill and the other U.S. citizens to surveillance remain classified, it is impossible to know why their emails were monitored, or the extent of the surveillance. It is also unclear under what legal authority it was conducted, whether the men were formally targeted under FISA warrants, and what, if anything, authorities found that permitted them to continue spying on the men for prolonged periods of time.
I almost laughed out loud when I read that first sentence. Here is Greenwald reporting on millions (?) of documents Snowden stole that were formerly classified. And yet he claims that he can't report on the reasons these men were surveilled because that information is classified. IOW, Snowden didn't manage to steal any documents that would tell us why.

Secondly, the spreadsheet Greenwald uses to demonstrate this surveillance indicates that it was terminated for two of the individuals in 2008 and extended for 3 of them about the same time. After that...nothing. So the surveillance he reported on occurred prior to that time (under the Bush administration) and he provided zero evidence that it continued beyond that date. I'll simply note that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended by Congress in July 2008. Whether or not this is why the spreadsheet contains no further information, we don't know. What we can be sure of is that if Snowden's documents contained proof that this surveillance had continued into the Obama administration, Greenwald would certainly have reported that.

In the end I'd suggest that what hasn't been reported is probably more important than what has been. We've just witnessed the biggest breach of national security secrets in our country's history. And after over a year of reporting, we have not seen one case of abuse documented. That's a pretty BFD.

So it is appropriate to question whether or not we are comfortable with the potential for abuse that these NSA programs make possible for future administrations. But other than the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping that was reported by the NYT in 2005 (and ended in 2007), the Snowden documents have provided zero evidence of illegal surveillance or abuse.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pundits join Putin in 19th century thinking

An awful lot of pundits these days seem just as stuck in the 19th century as Vladimir Putin. For example, check out this jaw-dropping commentary on the Israel/Palestinian situation from Cokie Roberts on ABC's This Week:
It's a real absence of the American leadership in the region...We haven't made a strong enough presence in that region to have people be afraid of this country. So I think there's a sense that they can get away with anything they want to get away with. So much criticism of President Obama for not going in, conducting the air strikes against Syria.
Its almost hard to know where to begin. In the end, her point seems to be that if President Obama had bombed Syria he could have prevented the current escalation of the situation in Israel/Gaza. And that's - of course - because there aren't enough people in the Middle East who are afraid of us. So lets go bomb some more brown people over there because they're sure not going to get mad about that and fight back. What they'll do instead is be afraid and quit all that shooting/bombing each other.

You have to wonder if folks like Roberts actually think about stuff like this before they say it. But the patriarchal myth of dominance runs deep in folks like her. They seem quite capable of ignoring all of post-WWII history. After all, its not like military dominance was actually effective in Iran, or Korea, or Vietnam, or Chile, or Iraq. No matter how hard we've tried, it seems that we can't get the rest of the world to cower if fear and do what we want them to. They just keep fighting back. Imagine that.

If Ms. Roberts were to actually have studied recent history, she might have seen that our military adventurism in Iraq demonstrated the folly of her 19th century assumptions. Speaking of "the experiment in American unilateralism that has failed with the collapse of the adventurist campaign in Iraq," Michael Weinstein rather presciently wrote the following back in 2004:
Whoever occupies the Oval Office after the November 2004 election will have to try to recoup the power that the United States lost during its rendezvous with neo-conservative fantasy. That can only be done - if at all - through an attempt to reconstitute a multilateral consensus on globalization in which the United States is primus inter pares*, guaranteeing the security of world capitalism militarily, but not using its military power to impose its policies on its allies and independent limited collaborators without genuine negotiation and compromise...The Iraq adventure has demonstrated that unilateralism alienates allies and collaborators, resulting in the loss of American credibility and clout. Multilateralism [ie, partnership] remains the path that leads to the maximization of American power in the world.
* First among equals

Unfortunately it took us until 2008 to find a president who understands this. As he said in 2009:
For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes -- and, yes, religions -- subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared.
President Obama isn't interested in making the people of the Middle East fear us. Nor does he assume they need to do what we tell them to do. What he is interested in is protecting our own national security interests and holding other governments accountable to global norms/agreements/ideals. Beyond that, "our problems must be death with through partnership."

If Ms. Roberts is interested in seeing what real American leadership looks like, I suggest she read this story about how one phone call from President Obama followed up by staff on the ground calmed a potential civil war in Afghanistan last week. While she wants to rely on fear, the President promoted patience and calm. The result?
After weeks of intense bad feelings between their camps, Mr. Abdullah and Mr. Ghani embraced in the living room after striking the deal. They would do the same thing a short while later, at the end of news conference to announce their agreement to the Afghan people.
The presidential candidates, Abdullah Abdullah, right, and Ashraf Ghani, after a pact was announced, as John Kerry looked on.

More of this, please.

Just sayin'...


Monday, July 14, 2014

Its time to leave home

In 1981 Bernice Johnson Reagon gave a speech that I believe was prophetic titled: Coalition Politics: Turning the Century. She begins by summarizing the impact technology has had on our social constructs:
We’ve pretty much come to the end of a time when you can have a space that is “yours only”—just for the people you want to be there...To a large extent it’s because we have just finished with that kind of isolating. There is no hiding place. There is nowhere you can go and only be with people who are like you. It’s over. Give it up.
David Simon captured how the re-election of Barack Obama sealed this change when he talked about the death of normal.
America will soon belong to the men and women — white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight — who can walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions. The America in which it was otherwise is dying...
What makes Reagon's words so prophetic is that she talked about what our reaction would likely be to this reality. She warned that it would lead us to create spaces she called "home."
Now every once in awhile there is a need for people to try to clean out corners and bar the doors and check everybody who comes in the door, and check what they carry in and say, “Humph, inside this place the only thing we are going to deal with is X or Y or Z.” And so only the X’s or Y’s or Z’s get to come in...

But that space while it lasts should be a nurturing space where you sift out what people are saying about you and decide who you really are. And you take the time to try to construct within yourself and within your community who you would be if you were running society. In fact, in that little barred room where you check everybody at the door, you act out community. You pretend that your room is a world.
She said that there are dangers associated with pretending "that your room is a world."
I mean it’s nurturing, but it is also nationalism. At a certain stage nationalism is crucial to a people if you are going to ever impact as a group in your own interest. Nationalism at another point becomes reactionary because it is totally inadequate for surviving in the world with many peoples.
For Reagon, the alternative is coalitions.
Coalition work is not work done in your home. Coalition work has to be done in the streets. And it is some of the most dangerous work you can do. And you shouldn’t look for comfort. Some people will come to a coalition and they rate the success of the coalition on whether or not they feel good when they get there. They’re not looking for a coalition; they’re looking for a home! They’re looking for a bottle with some milk in it and a nipple, which does not happen in a coalition. You don’t get a lot of food in a coalition. You don’t get fed a lot in a coalition. In a coalition you have to give, and it is different from your home. You can’t stay there all the time. You go to the coalition for a few hours and then you go back and take your bottle wherever it is, and then you go back and coalesce some more.

It is very important not to confuse them—home and coalition.
She says that forming coalitions is a matter of life and death.
It must become necessary for all of us to feel that this is our world...And watch that “ours’ make it as big as you can—it ain’t got nothing to do with that barred room. The “our” must include everybody you have to include in order for you to survive. You must be sure you understand that you ain’t gonna be able to have an “our” that don’t include Bernice Johnson Reagon, cause I don’t plan to go nowhere! That’s why we have to have coalitions. Cause I ain’t gonna let you live unless you let me live. Now there’s danger in that, but there’s also the possibility that we can both live—if you can stand it.
The polarization we're currently seeing in our politics is a direct result of people looking for a home and being fearful of a coalition. Too many of us are simply seeking out the comfort of those who are like us and/or agree with us. As a weigh station to nurture ourselves, there is value in that. But in the end, we have to leave home and face the world as it really is.

I believe that this is why President Obama is a leader for our times. Remember what he wrote in The Audacity of Hope way back in 2006?
I am obligated to try to see the world through George Bush’s eyes, no matter how much I may disagree with him. That’s what empathy does—it calls us all to task, the conservative and the liberal … We are all shaken out of our complacency.
Wow! Its hard for us to imagine an "ours" that is big enough to include George Bush. But that's exactly why Reagon said this kind of work is dangerous and uncomfortable. It doesn't mean we have to agree with Bush, but it does mean that the "our" has to include his perspective.

This is exactly the message the President gave to the young graduates of Morehouse.
As Morehouse Men, many of you know what it’s like to be an outsider; know what it’s like to be marginalized; know what it’s like to feel the sting of discrimination. And that’s an experience that a lot of Americans share...

So it’s up to you to widen your circle of concern -- to care about justice for everybody, white, black and brown. Everybody. Not just in your own community, but also across this country and around the world. To make sure everyone has a voice, and everybody gets a seat at the table...
It's what he was talking about with Will and Jada Smith when he discussed what it means to expand our moral imagination. And its what he was talking about in Cairo back in 2009.
For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes -- and, yes, religions -- subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared.
President Obama's rhetoric about this is often uplifting and visionary. That is as it should be. But Reagon got down to the nitty gritty in her speech about what this actually means for all of us.
The reason we are stumbling is that we are at the point where in order to take the next step we’ve got to do it with some folk we don’t care too much about. And we got to vomit over that for a little while. We must just keep going.
In other words, its time to leave home, vomit for a little while about that, and get busy dealing with the world as it is rather than as we want it to be.  In the end, its about survival..."Cause I ain’t gonna let you live unless you let me live. Now there’s danger in that, but there’s also the possibility that we can both live—if you can stand it."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Photo of the Day: What's on this young man's mind?

Photo by Ayman Mohyeldin - July 12 | Beit Lahia, Gaza. A young Palestinian boy sits on a grave at the local cemetery staring at the skyline. Off in the distance is a plume of black smoke rising from an Israeli strike. On Saturday, in this one cemetery, local residents buried five bodies. All of those killed were from the same neighborhood killed in Israeli airstrikes overnight.

This photo has been on my mind since I saw it this morning. I just can't shake the feeling that whatever it is that this young man is thinking about what he's seeing/experiencing could be predictive of the future. Is he contemplating revenge? Is he thinking "this shit has GOT to stop!" 

Yesterday I heard a report on NPR that the median age in Gaza is 18 (compared to 37 for the US). The future of the Middle East will be decided by whatever it is young men like this decide to do about what is happening in their home.