More Insight

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The War On "The War On ..."

From The Beast:

The War on Poverty
Jesus said that the meek would inherit the earth and that the poor are blessed, but his contemporary followers are fairly convinced that he was bullshitting on that one, worn out from miracle-making and winding up for a good punchline which history failed to record. America’s preference has always been to pretend that there are no poor people, and if there are, it’s probably their fault anyway. But in the sixties, with the Great Depression still in living memory, and with a slowly awakening awareness that rural blacks and whites alike often lived in grinding poverty, it was briefly in vogue to “consider the neediest,” as the odd tag line inexplicably reads after certain articles in the New York Times. This was less out of a true sense of charity, one suspects, than it was out of the era’s misplaced competitiveness with the Soviet bogeyman, which was way ahead of America in its own efforts to combat poverty. The Soviets had simply renamed it the Proletariat, praised it to the sky, and increased its numbers. Lyndon Johnson called America to wage a War on Poverty, but poverty is a hard thing to get your arms around, and that war swiftly and inexorably changed into something more like a war on poor people. Johnsonian efforts at redistributionist economics matched early on with a generally strong economy, but as those fortunes went south, so too did the idea that anything could be done about the poor, who quickly went from noble, if hardscrabble, folk characters to dangerous black people lurking around every city corner. By the time Ronald Reagan first said the words “welfare queen,” the fix was in. The poor had transmogrified into a legion of flashy pimps. Bill Clinton ended “welfare as we know it,” and Democrats decided that it wasn’t the poor they wanted to help, but the “working class,” a transparent and hoary neologism designed solely to prevent White America from associating anti-poverty programs with crackheads and other mythical varieties of blacks.

Catching Up Part 2

The home loan fiasco is finally catching up. Consumers and banks borrow beyond their means guided by the benevolent hand of the market. Who will we turn to now to fix its disaster? Perhaps more unregulated market will work?

But at least the US government is frugal and doesn't spend money it doesn't have on wars it doesn't need, right?

John Edwards hates corporations, or haven't you heard?

A history lesson in why Ron Paul is so crazy.

America has Fabulous Health Care! At least compared to some other countries.
"How long until you’re part of the insured millions of families spending 25% of their income on health care?"

Red rover, red rover, shoot that liberal's bitch over and over!
Blackwater also billed the US government for the profit it made, then was rewarded with more contracts!

Apparently 62% of Americans consider themselves "highly religious"

I don't know of a religion I'd rather belong to:
The church members think the visions that peyote produces provide enlightenment and that the cactus has curative powers. They reverently call it "the medicine."

"When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can't see the truth”
I know, I'd sue him for saying that too.
At least the military is still an army of God.

Shall I compare thee to a necrophiliac? Let me hate the gays...
Perhaps it would influence his policy in Iraq, where, unlike its neighbor Iran, there are gays.
But hey, it's your "choice"


But are Huckabee and Romney really "Christian" or just bigoted?
I am referring here to the sentiments that lie behind the candidates’ attitudes toward gays, which may have found their most honest and open expression in Huckabee’s recently resurrected 1992 suggestion that AIDS patients should be forcibly isolated. I am thinking too of Christian conservative opposition to progressive taxation, public spending for the needy and government “meddling” in such matters as anti-discrimination policies. And, of course, of the willingness to sacrifice women by genuflecting before a segment of the population that is scared witless by modernity and sugar-coats its fear and hate in the name of the sacred. (As governor, Huckabee, according to veteran Arkansas political journalist Max Brantley, once “stood in the hospital door, at least figuratively, to prevent state funding” for a mentally handicapped teenage girl who’d been raped by her stepfather and needed to have an abortion.)

Liberal Hollywood, how low will you go?

International Scandal: Don Cheadle Planned Darfur Genocide To Create Film Role

Where was sex education when she needed it?
That's right, abstinence-only instead!



And in case you missed it, YOU'RE AN IDIOT

Catching Up

Some things we might have missed over the last couple weeks...


All is not lost, cuz there's a new breed of billionaires! But none of them are from the US, where:
On average, incomes for the top 1 percent of households rose by $465,700 each, or 42.6 percent after adjusting for inflation. The incomes of the poorest fifth rose by $200, or 1.3 percent, and the middle fifth increased by $2,400 or 4.3 percent.


Coke's always in style, even as the army's gateway drug:

In 2003, cannabis accounted for half of all positive drugs tests, with cocaine accounting for 22%. But by 2006, about 50% of all positive tests registered cocaine use, with cannabis found in about 30%, the research revealed.
Why the US government is afraid to actually charge enemy combatants: guilt needs to be proven, not merely assumed because some one was held in Guantanamo.

Of business, for business, and by business

We can't learn our kids enough Jesus.

It's a sin to discontinue abusing and paining the dying.

The gift that keeps on giving.

Some citizen's are taking war funding into their own hands - it's our tax money after all.

Corporations continue to absolve themselves of responsibility to pay pensions. Luckily, at least one government is stepping in to clean up the mess.

Punctuation is so key - Use it wisely; read it carefully.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Citizen's Movements

Individual and citizens rights are so underappreciated. For instance, the well-publicized presidential run by former chess all-star Gary Kasparov officially concluded recently with foreseen, yet utter disappointment. According to the New York Times:
From early on, his campaign encountered many problems. He was denied access to state news media; one of his political organizers was forcibly committed to an insane asylum; and Mr. Kasparov and dozens of his followers were arrested during street protests during the spring.

Mr. Kasparov spent five days in jail last month after trying to march on a Moscow street.

To formally register for the March 2 presidential vote, he would have been required to notify the Central Election Commission of his intention to hold a gathering with 500 citizens to endorse his candidacy. The deadline was Wednesday, but Other Russia was unable to rent a hall in Moscow to accommodate the gathering, according to Mr. Kasparov’s spokeswoman, Lyudmila V. Mamina.
Ms. Mamina continued, "It was clear that there had been an order from above to prohibit us from gathering anywhere."

In Russia, citizens' movements are effectively dampened, if not completely drowned by the state (Putin endorsed current deputy prime minister Medvedev who will likely turn around and name Putin prime minister).

In Italy, the story is quite different. The government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi has been attempting to cut the budget, against the will of its citizens. The truck drivers union - not usually on the top 10 list of most influential groups - went on strike this week, causing resounding effects. Stores are going unstocked, gas is very hard to find as stations dry up, trash piles up with no one to haul it away, and trucks literally stood still - blocking access to main transportation routes.

A spokesman for the union echoed the sentiments of many, "They didn’t think that we’d take such a tough position, and neither did the media until now,"a clear warning not to underestimate the power of any one segment of our population and how easily they can effect change the hard way.

Not to be outdone, the Greeks continued to set the standard:
A one-day strike by unions representing 2.5 million workers brought Athens to a standstill. Protesting planned government changes to the state-financed pension system, an estimated 80,000 people marched through central Athens. In Thessaloniki, 30,000 people rallied, the police said. The strike shut down hospitals, banks, schools, courts and all public services. Flights were canceled, and public transportation, including boats connecting the mainland with the islands, ground to a halt. More strikes are expected next week.

Why don't you see that kind of response when privatizing social security is seriously
considered, or when corporations drop their pension programs?

We can only hope that this becomes a trend as people stand up for their rights and the rights of others. Then perhaps there'd be more than 30 people standing up to the destruction of housing projects in post-Katrina New Orleans. Citizens movements and civil disobedience protesting injustice, even by our federal government are surely lacking. Perhaps the real showdown will occur this Saturday, when the ability "to take advantage of tax credits made available after the 2005 storm," expire, tax credits to the tune of $250 million.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday Shopping





Courtesy of the Guys from Area 51

Liability

What the fuck?

Medical liability is already one of the reasons healthcare costs are skyrocketing - as a doctor told me today, "We treat for only two reasons: to make our patients feel better, and to not get sued."

The ruling today will lead to even more gross overtreatment and I can only assume more malpractice cases as the victims of and dumbasses themselves get into motor vehicle accidents and want some one else to blame and get paid for blaming.

Now everyone - all six degrees of separation - are every doctor's responsibility.
This "introduces a new audience to which the physician must attend - everyone who might come in contact with the patient," wrote Justice Robert J. Cordy

And I was starting to think tort reform was going to play a major role in lowering healthcare expenditure in this country. Apparently we're even sicker than I thought.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Philosophy's New Frontier

The New York Times weighs in on Experimental Philosophy

Philosophers don’t observe; we don’t experiment; we don’t measure; and we don’t count. We reflect. We love nothing more than our “thought experiments,” but the key word there is thought.

And in the end, what is the greater role of the philosopher: one who performs thought experiments or one who goes out and gathers " information about what people actually think and say about our thought experiments"

How is it different than philosophy in praxis?

What's wrong with applying the scientific method to questions of philosophy in praxis? It is the act of giving evidence to the theorems and axioms of the various schools of thought - but are there any thought experiments that can't necessarily be tested experimentally?

They Have Tried and They Have Failed, Miserably


Should Animals Be Doing More For The Animal Rights Movement?

Friday, December 7, 2007

What would you do if you made $51,369 per hour, every hour of the day, every day of the year?
Would you be this greedy?



Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Amazing Human Potential

A Sacramento teen who lost his eyes to cancer uses echo location to "see"


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Denialists

What's with denialists these days? Skepticism is key to insight, but blatant disregard for evidence simply because it contradicts your ideology is a fool's journey. Examples seem to be popping up everywhere, so I'd thought I'd share a few.

The National Intelligence Estimate on Iran came out this week to the dismay of the Bush administration. They seemed to have no problem with the 2005 report, probably because it supported their ambitions of wiping Iran off the map in order to prevent World War III. It should be of no surprise then that the authors of that report were the same as those who wrote a similar excuse for war with Iraq in 2002, most of which has since proven entirely false and misleading.
So it should also be of no surprise that when the most recent NIE reports that Iran halted its weapon program 4 years ago and is about a decade away from nuclear weapon capabilities (if they were to resume now) that administration sees it as inconsequential at best, and a plot to politicize the intelligence community and a witch hunt to sabotage President Bush. It’s no wonder some members of the administration - when they don’t see answers they like - have either entirely ignored the intel, fought hard for months to keep this document from seeing the light of day at all or at least not until it reflected certain interests. Propaganda from war hawks won’t cease despite evidence that directly contradicts their baseless ideological claims.


When Al Gore recently won the Nobel Prize for his work on climate change, it revived the denial of global warming. Even John Coleman, the founder of The Weather Channel, came out to slander the scientific evidence of climate change. And he’s not alone. Some people will just never be convinced, crying “hyperbole,” or attacking Gore himself, even calling him Hitler, no matter how towering the mountain of evidence becomes.


This past Saturday marked another World AIDS Day, which many still see as a dedication to a myth. As far as deadly infectious diseases go, HIV/AIDS is still relatively young, only have been described about 25 years ago. But since the early 1980s the elucidation of the virus and the horrific illness it causes cannot be ignored. It’s frightening that many people out there still deny it’s a real problem and forgo treatment – even more frightening when it directly impacts the lives of others. With particularly devastating effects on minorities, recent discoveries are also used simply to justify deeply held racism.


As mentioned previously, genocide is still widely denied. There are still many people that deny the Holocausts – Jewish and Armenian – ever happened. The combination of denial and the rewriting of history is dangerous and needs to be confronted, even though it might look futile.


Denialists are a strange and difficult breed to deal with. For further insight and many more examples, check out the Denialism Blog, and remember: “don’t mistake denialism for debate!”

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Quotes of the Day 12/4/07

So is it possible to see the limitations of thought and give it its right place, and therefore giving the right place to thought brings about clarity - right? We mean by right place - the art of that intelligence which comes through investigation, through exploration, that art - the very meaning of that word is to put everything where it belongs, put everything in our life where it belongs, and to find out where it belongs you need tremendous intelligence.
- J. Krishnamurti

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
- MLK Jr

Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.
- Confucius

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
- Marie Curie

Monday, December 3, 2007

Why Haven't I Moved There Yet?

Scandinavia is the shit


video


It's only a matter of time...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Iraqis Showing Some Balls

No, it's not adult entertainment, but it's a hairy situation and will leave you wanting more.

Not only has Iraq's leadership decided to boycott the Middle East peace talks going on in Annapolis, but they have also walked out of parliament and protested their treatment in the Green Zone. A lot of issues on their plate indeed.

They're so cute when they grow up!

An Excerpt from The Shock Doctrine

An example of what I'm trying to wrap my head around...


(shhh, don't tell the publisher, just buy it instead)


At the end of June, only his second month in Iraq, [Paul] Bremer sent word that all local elections must stop immediately. The new plan was for Iraq's local leaders to be appointed by the occupation, just as the Governing Council had been. A defining showdown took place in Najaf, the holiest city for Iraq's Shia, the largest religious denomination in the country. Najaf was in the process of organizing citywide elections with the help of U.S. troops when, only one day before registration, the lieutenant colonel in charge got a call from Marine Major General Jim Mattis. "The election had to be canceled. Bremer was concerned that an unfriendly Islamic candidate would prevail....Bremer would not allow the wrong guy to win the election. The Marines were advised to select a group of Iraqis they thought were safe and have them pick a mayor. That was how the United States would control the process," wrote Michael Gordon and General Bernard Trainor, the authors of Cobra II, regarded as the definitive military history of the invasion. In the end, the U.S. military appointed a Saddam-era army colonel as Najaf's mayor, as they did in cities and towns across the country.
(This was one of the reasons why "de-Baathification" inspired such rage: while low-level soldiers had all lost their jobs, along with teachers and doctors who had been required to join the party in order to advance professionally, top-level Baathist military officials, well known for their human rights abuses, were being enlisted to bring order to the cities and towns.)


So much for bringing democracy to the Middle East...

Deal With It

Germany has accepted its horrific history in the 1930s and '40s and has dealt with it appropriately. Recently, some 50 million pages of war records have been released to the public. It's called full disclosure.

Turkey, however, is playing another ball game all together. It refuses to acknowledge the horror of the Armenian genocide of 1915-1918. Armenian descendants System of a Down have tried to bring the issue to the public with their film, Screamers.

Frontman Serj Tankian recently sat down with Mother Jones to talk about his nonprofit Axis of Justice with RATM's Tom Morello, and his efforts to bring genocide into the public's discourse as well as our own congress.

Keep yourself informed and stop genocide now!


Power to the People

Last night, CNN aired the second YouTube debate, where Republicans battled over conservative credentials and who hates immigrants and gays more.

Remarkably, in a debate designed to give the American public via YouTube style videos the chance to ask their own questions of candidates, we didn't hear too much from them. According to CNN almost 5,000 user videos were submitted, some more creative and entertaining than others (was that Cheney or Fred Thompson?).

However, of the 34 question segments selected by CNN to air in the debate, something seemed a little off. That's because Grover Norquist, president of the Americans for tax reform and uber-douchebag was given one of those spots to ask a question of candidates he already has access to. Maybe he was given priority because Americans are too stupid and can't be trusted to decide what questions to ask, let alone be trusted to popularly elect a president. Thank God for the Supreme Court!

Maybe it's time we gave the power back to the people


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quotes of the Day 11/15/07

A friend is a second self.
- Aristotle

Living should be perpetual and universal benediction
- Wei Wu Wei

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.
- Martin Luther King, Jr

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people are so full of doubt.
—Bertrand Russell

Learning without thought is labor lost.
- Confucius

As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.
- Albert Einstein

The whole town laughed at my great-grandfather, just because he worked hard and saved his money. True, working at the hardware store didn't pay much, but he felt it was better than what everybody else did, which was go up to the volcano and collect the gold nuggets it shot out every day. It turned out he was right. After forty years, the volcano petered out. Everybody left town, and the hardware store went broke. Finally he decided to collect gold nuggets too, but there weren't many left by then. Plus, he broke his leg and the doctor's bills were real high.
- Jack Handey

Damn doctor's bills

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Who Wants to Fellate a Dullard?

No, it's not the latest craze in reality tv (yet), but choose your words carefully

Monday, November 5, 2007

Yeast Infection

An interesting post on Atheist Revolution examines some of the disconnect between the word of God and the word of God's followers. For instance, under the "old" law, the law of Moses, God liked burnt offerings, the sacrifice of animals - by today's religious standard, satanism. Homosexuality is also forbidden and punishable under the old law, but no more emphasis is placed on this violation than any other.

So, wait...why aren't animal sacrifices, yeastless unleavened and other kosher laws followed by Christians today?
Oh ya! Christ! He's part of that whole "New Covenant" thing, like in Hebrews 9:15:
For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.


The Hebrews author continues in 10:9 - "He abolishes the first in order to establish the second."

Christ came to replace the old law so we wouldn't have to sacrifice animals, so we wouldn't have to stone people for minor offenses, or kill people for being gay. As far as my memory serves, Jesus didn't seem all that caught up with hatin' on gays; in fact, he seemed a little more concerned with the poor, disabled, children, widows, and sinners across the board. The closest thing to gay hate in the new testament are broad statements that include a list of several other kinds of sinners like thieves, the greedy and robbers.

Which begs the question: If Christ's new covenant of "love thy neighbor" replaced the old "kill the homo and every other sinner," why do Christians still have the opposite concerns and hold the opposite values as Christ himself?

Smell of Freedom

"Price is Right" host Drew Carey has come out as an advocate for medical marijuana.
I think it's clear by now that the federal government needs to reclassify marijuana...People who need it should be able to get it safely and easily.
It's only slightly more controversial than his predecessor's spay and neuter campaign.

Drug War

AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squib have been ordered by a U.S. District Court in Massachusetts court to pay $13.6 million for inflating the wholesale prices. Both companies will fight the case - which benefits Medicare, private insurers, and patients who were overcharged for 37 different drugs - alleging they are "not responsible for the average wholesale price reimbursement benchmark used by private insurers and Medicare and that its own pricing, sales and marketing practices were fair and reasonable" according to a BMS spokesman.

Well thanks for clarifying - I had no idea both companies billions in yearly profits were completely out of corporate hands. I blame the sick people: they've been known to overcharge themselves on life-saving interventions

Monday's Quotes

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds..."
Albert Einstein

"One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

New Rule - Don't Be Scared!

video




So now that we've prioritized, is it: 1) Global warming; 2) Mexicans; 3) Muslims;
or 1) Global warming; 2) Muslims; 3) Gay wizards?

Friday, October 26, 2007

News Roundup for 10/21-10/26 Part 1

World keeps on spinning


Governor Huckabee keeps an eye on babykillers, but can't condemn them all.

Holocaust of abortion aside, the Christian right is dissatisfied with the Republican candidates on sale at the Values Voters summit last weekend

Seventy percent of the American Public apparently highly boo-able


No end in sight as the military-industrial-Bush administration complex unveils more ambitious overstretching and overspending of your tax dollars

Freedom of the Press "threatens national security"

Naomi Klein should apologize
for her polarizing analysis of American corporatocracy and its genesis - as if that sort of thing could really happen! It could never be profitable, how could we afford it?

Is There Any Reason At All to be Frightened?



I doubt Osama talks about it this much

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Obstacle to Peace

Cheney, who some would label as such, today called Iran an obstacle to peace in the Middle East, supporting the rhetoric the president used earlier this week about WWIII.

If you apply all these measures it becomes immediately clear that the government of Iran falls far short and is a growing obstacle to peace in the Middle East

"The language on Iran is quite significant," said Dennis Ross, a peace mediator under former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton. "That's very strong words and it does have implications," referring to Cheney's warnings of serious consequences for Iran.


A clear message indeed

Quotes of the Day

War can only be understood and put an end to if you and all those who are concerned very deeply with the survival of man, feel that you are utterly responsible for killing others. What will make you change?
- J. Krishnamurti


The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.


Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.
- Confucius


The most important human endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life.
- Albert Einstein

Being Patriotic About Something Other Than War

Crazy Senator Mike Gravel has not been invited to participate in the next democratic presidential debate next week because he didn't have enough money. He may sound crazy, but his stance on the issues is not.

Dennis "Rumpelstiltskin" Kucinich has deeper pockets than Gravel, but is viewed as too left-wing to win the popular vote. It is quite unfortunate - because despite his seeming social awkwardness, he is the best candidate and would make the best president of all the runners in this race.

That leaves us with our best chance, Senator John Edwards (D-NC), a responsible citizen who actually believes what he says:




video

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Everyone Around You Wants to Get You

...help



In The Know: Is The Government Spying On Paranoid Schizophrenics Enough?

Which bus drivers hate you?

What Would Jesus Veto?

New Rule - Clarify "values" from "issues"


video



Jesus Christ: Wrong on gays; wrong on taxes; wrong on torture;
And Wrong for AMERICA!

Friday, October 19, 2007

End of Times

Deepak Chopra sums up nicely a fundamental conflict of religion, one which fuels conservative religions' influence and yearns for the anticipated end of the universe.

How Conservative are Thee?

Let me count the ways

Republicans competed for the crown of king of social conservative mountain, apparently leaving Giuliani stranded at base camp.

Romney's stool sample, however, floated to the top:
As he does often, he talks of "three legs of the Republican stool" -- a stronger military, a stronger economy, and stronger families -- that unite the three types of conservatives in the party, defense, economic and social.

Some Thoughts for the Day

I very recently started getting quotes of the day and such and found this coincidence amusing and worth dwelling on.

"When you give a shilling to a beggar - do you realize that you are giving it to yourself? When you help a lame dog over a stile - do you realize that you yourself are being helped? When you kick a man when he is down - do you realize that you are kicking yourself? Give him another kick - if you deserve it!" - Why Lazurus Laughed by Wei Wu Wei
From the Buddhist daily thought

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
John 13:34-35


The parallels are not direct, but the Buddhist is in a way justifying this golden rule. You help these others, you don't kick them, you love them because how you treat others is not only a reflection of who you are, but we're all in this together, all connected, and it's gonna come back to you somehow. So pay attention, be aware, be mindful of these instances in our daily lives, these passing moments - they are not just your moments, you're sharing them with others, so love them for it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Killing is My Business

And business is good.

At least, according to the UN it is

Once the guards are in areas of armed conflict, immunity granted under national laws to private security personnel can easily lead to uncontrolled behavior, the report said, with "these private soldiers appearing only to be accountable to the company which employs them."

Yeah for corporate responsibility!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Workers' Rights

The healthcare workforce in Boston is on the path to unionization, but as usual in these situations, executives are standing in the way.

Thank god for celebrity endorsements!

Actor/director Ben Affleck to the rescue! With the support of Mayor Menino, let's hope the workers get to exercise their right to decide themselves if unionization is in their best interest (my guess is...ya, it is)

If It Wasn't For the Media...

There'd be a lot less bullshit


Poll: Bullshit Is Most Important Issue For 2008 Voters


Not just talking the bullshit, but living it - presidential candidate style

What bullshit issue are you most concerned about?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dear Iran

In case of any and all things "strategic," here are some things to keep in mind:


Market Responds to Money, Not Hunger

Today we (theoretically) celebrate World Food Day and its theme, The Right to Food. Unfortunately, it passes without fanfare and with the same notice paid to the 854 million hungry for whom it was established. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed almost 60 years ago, and yet we still have so far to go to ensure people's basic rights and needs (like food and health).

So, how do we guarantee food and other basic rights for all? It's the market stupid!

But the magic benevolent hand of the market hasn't fulfilled this duty we assigned it. Some of us have a hunch as to why, though. The hungry, and more generally, "the poor can't exert 'market demand,'" because the market responds to money, not to hunger.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Reflection on Thankfulness

I find myself today in the midst of an epiphany of great humility. After a couple hours of rewarding discussion with a group of colleagues, I reflected back on what was said, what was implied, and my part in it all:

I'm a taker. I gain so much more than what I contribute in return. For instance, yesterday afternoon I donated red blood cells by plasmaphoresis (what a cool experience and so interesting to watch it all happen up close). I thought I was just going to donate the blood, because for one reason or another, I somehow believe that's the right thing to do. But without a second thought, I accepted in addition to the food, a brand new shirt, a new hat, free drinks at an improv, and two movie passes. All for 503ml of red cells. To me, that just no longer feels like donation.

Today a friend told a story about calling one of his elementary school teachers to thank him - that he was on his way to becoming an M.D./PhD spinal surgeon, and it was that teacher's guidance so long ago that allowed him to be where he is today.

I am ashamed that I am not as appreciative as this young man, as I should be. I had realized before, but it didn't shatter my world until today that I am in extreme debt to those around me my whole life. I too have had several teachers who have been so incredibly influential in my life, and hadn't really understood their full impact till recently. They've never been thanked like they deserve. Others just as much - I disagree with my parents on a lot of things, including those as basic as what's right and wrong, but they've allowed me to forge my own path, to develop better understanding, and have overseen my maturation as an individual in ways I've never let on to them.

I am only now starting to realize how important exchanging knowledge with peers is, and how dependent I am on them, and how grateful I am to them. I have so much to learn from them - a lifetime of experience and knowledge from each one! People have so much to offer each other in ways of which they are unaware. But for those of us with that awareness, we have an obligation to share that knowledge with others; if not for their sake, then for the knowledge and ideas and opinions and insight themselves! This is the whole premise of education - there is a set of knowable things out there that needs to be retained. So those with the power that the knowledge bestows upon them must therefore pass it on to others - disciples, students - so that knowledge may endure history.

I'm realizing that I have no profound original thought to exchange for the vast, towering mountains of what I learn from others. Perhaps I have nothing personal to offer, but I can at least share some Nietzsche, Farmer, Sachs, Tocqueville, Buddha, Petrella, Christ, Stolt or Gildenlow with them instead.

And my sincere humble gratitude because it's such a privilege to know.

Spiritual Misappropriation

So we can feel good about getting drunk and spending $2,000 for organic lube

The marvelous innovations of marketing...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Why Not Single Payer?

Or better yet, why it's good to avoid even talking about it anymore.

Happy Anniversary

Five years, seems like a lot longer. Let's hope we don't have to remember the date the Lieberman-Kyl act passed too.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The New American Lexicon

Have we as a nation figured out yet what we're actually being told in relation to what's being said?
Tom Gilroy breaks down some of the day's rhetoric and what to expect if nothing is done about it.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Can't We All Just Get Along (with Blackwater)?

At least that's what corporate democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton seems to be thinking.


All joking and campaign bashing aside, it's really important for voters to know exactly who they think they're electing, and who will actually be running the country under his/her administration's guise.
(think Rove's Bush/Cheney '00 and what America has since turned into thanks to corporate sponsorship and nepotism)

Just because "Clinton" is followed by "D-NY" doesn't automatically mean her policies will be democratic and uphold the Constitution and the foundations that made this country great. With Hillary receiving the most campaign contributions from insurance and pharmaceutical industries, how much change and reform do you really expect to see in your healthcare, and how much should you expect to end up right back in campaign donors' pockets?

The reality is that campaigners are beholden to their donors, especially big corporate donors, whether openly or behind closed doors like the Clinton-Penn-Blackwater relationship.
With a Hillary White House, how likely is it really that we'd never have any more drunken murderers of vice presidential guards getting right back in the game after only a two month time out and no penalty?

This is not a Bush/Cheney/Rove administration issue. So don't fool yourself into thinking a white woman's democrat administration will operate any differently. It may look like a new starting lineup, but the play-callers are all still the same.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Divine Intervention

The next time God talks to you and tells you to raise $8 million or you'll die, think hard about how that money is gonna be spent. Jets, Mercedes, Lexus, and tens of thousands in clothing purchases may fly in God's tax free house, but not in America. Some one is bound to find out when you spend donated money that way.

Especially when you subsequently fire them and they sue you.

Standard Shmandard




You'd have to be crazy to believe we have the best way of doing capitalism. See the Greenspan post for some of the reasons why the value of the dollar seems to be dropping. Perhaps the Dow reaching 14,000 really wasn't the triumph of our economy Americans thought it was.

Beware the Chronic Illness Fairy




I sure hope people never stop smoking, it could be disastrous for our health.

The Hitmen's Hitman

Michael McConnell, the director of the secretive National Intelligence, may have gained infamy for his repeated threat that any discussion or debate about the NSA's domestic surveillance program that spies on it's own citizens would kill Americans, "Americans are going to die,"
But it gets juicier...

He also happens to be one of the "principal architect[s] of the system that led to the Blackwater USA disaster"
He is the former senior vice president of a 10,000-strong private army, Booz Allen Hamilton. Then he chaired the private security industry's lobby group, the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. He argues for privatization: government should outsource soldiering to private firms in the same spirit as it outsources weapons development. Is it still any surprise why the US government signs these lucrative no-bid contracts with private firms at the expense of the American tax-payer?

The mercenary firm Blackwater has been getting its share of heat recently for taking advantage of their unchallenged license to kill. Or maybe it's because American tax-payers fully subsidize that license, first by training most of the contractors in the US military, then by paying their hefty salaries in the private market afterwards.

Even Defense Secretary Gates laments that "sometimes the salaries (private firms) are able to pay in fact lure some of our soldiers out of the service to go to work for them."
As journalist Frank Viviano notes,

Blackwater USA charges an astronomical $1,222 per day for each of the security workers it provides to the State Department. By contrast, the pay, housing and support costs of a veteran U.S. Army sergeant in Iraq is around $150 per day, according to the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.


It's about time Congress does more to prevent such egregious, costly atrocities that have been sanctioned at the highest levels to this point.

War Hawks

The war on drugs is failing America.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom advocated Thursday for ending the war on drugs. It costs too much financially and socially.
While it is debatable whether or not crime rates would decline 70%, Newsom demonstrates a keen understanding of the big picture ramifications that the injustice of this war entail.

SF County sheriff Mike Hennessey told local reporters that 60-75% of inmates are incarcerated for drug offenses or have underlying substance abuse problems. The repercussions for someone convicted for drug-related violations perpetuate the spiral into stigma, unemployment, crime, and poverty. In essence, the war on drugs makes the war on poverty nearly impossible to win.

But this argument is not about legalization of harmful substances; it's about finding a better way to handle the problem. It's no secret that drug-use, drug-related crimes, and poverty are no strangers to each other. Prevention is certainly a worth-while venture. Drug rehabilitation programs address the problem head-on: substance abuse treatment. Is the sending of these offenders into isolation from society with violent offenders and sociopaths the best way to re-acquaint addicts with normative, law-abiding, socially acceptable behavior? My guess, and the re-incarceration rate and rise in drug-related violence, lean towards "no."

Spring Cleaning

How much really can be accomplished by this "get the job done" President domestically and globally this upcoming year before he clocks out?
White House correspondent Jennifer Loven analyzes some of his To-Do List for the next 15 months

Freedom Rock

Freedom Rock

by Tree
from Plant A Tree Or Die


Love it or leave it - that's what they say
Love it or leave it the American way
I love this country, I love this land
but tolerance for liars I won't stand
Not a ring of truth in the political lies
The rich get richer while the innocent die
Love it or leave it - that's what they say
Change it! Believe it!
It could happen today

If our founding fathers were alive today,
They'd all be rounded up and be locked away
Stripped of all the rights that they created
and everything they own would be confiscated

Love it or leave it - that's what they say
Change it! Believe it!
It could happen today
FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, ALL OF US CREATED EQUAL
RISE!!

Question Abuse




What's it take to make you wake up and open your eyes?
How many beat on the street by the heat before you realize
that a violent crime at any time can never be endorsed?
What's the difference for a cop's excessive use of force?

Question abuse, question authority
Question abuse
Question abuse of authority and police's use of abuse

What you see on your TV is not your true reality
Conditioned by the system to brutality
Don't use your rights - you lose your rights and sell all self defenses
Now they have you where they want and are gonna beat you senseless

Force!
Coward!
You have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law,
but there's a flaw 'cause that long arm is armed with a claw
Force!
Coerced!
Force!
Coward!

Question!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fear or Love?





A short list of lovers:

Frank Zappa, T.S Elliot, Tarantino, Van Gough, William Burroughs, Peter Sellers, Ferndo Meirelles and Paulo Lins, De Niro, Rowan Atkinson, The Smiths, Roman Polanski, Rembrandt, Jerry Sadowitz, Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward, Harvey Pekar, Neichtze, Nick Cave, the guy who stood he's ground in Tiananam Square, Mozart, Hunter S Thompson, Martin Luther King, Andy Warhol, Shakespeare, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, Dom McCullin, Ian Curtis, Brian, Hogarth, Chris Gardner, George Orwell, Geoffrey Rush, George Elliot, Gary Larson, Graham Chapman, Richard Dawkins, Francis Dashwood, Robert Crumb, Coppola, Brian Jones, Winston Churchill, Richard Attenborough, Banksy, Joan Littlewood, PerryFarrell, Bill Hicks, Raymond Chandler, Aleister Crowley, Mr Benn



Do Unto Others

With irony of no surprise, Iran has now officially classified the CIA and the US Army as terrorist organizations.

It is a response to the US Senate's resolution on Wednesday labeling the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization in anticipation of a Showdown; Iran: The Ticking Bomb airs Saturday night @ 9pm on Fox News, naturally.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Health Care: Capitalist or Christian?

Michael Moore raises a fundamental challenge to Americans claiming to be Christians: are you a follower of Jesus Christ or do you just pretend to be?

The Judgment of the Gentiles

Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV)

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nation will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'
The the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?'

And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you,
just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for when I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'
Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."



Do you really believe God will bless America, who treats his Son, the least among us, his family [ Greek: these my brothers] in such a way, with such blatant disregard for his teachings? Irregardless of separation of church and state, for a nation whose majority claims to adhere to the teachings of Jesus Christ, it looks like we're all going to hell with the devil and his angels because of how poorly we've treated the least among us, because we haven't stood up and demanded from our government what Christ demands of us.



video

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Quasi-Permanent Occupier

Sigh...




That reminds me...



I hope I never lose my memory too

Hijacking Catastrophe (1 of 10)

Check it out, get outraged, G.A.S.!!:




More to follow...

The Shock Doctrine

Naomi Klein, author of the great No Logo, has done it again with her newest book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.





For an intro to the No Logo movement,



PLEASE do yourself a favor and check out her very informative interview with John Cusack, and get a better idea what she really means, click here

SCHIP On Our Shoulder

This story is becoming so outrageous, I don't even know where to begin. So I'll let my Senator do the talking.

Playing Chicken with Children's Health Care




No childrens left behind*

video

*except the sick, the poor, the hungry

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Don't Do Drugs

Effects of marijuana include inappropriate laughter

Perhaps she did inhale...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

You're Either a Rationalist, or You're Not

The world is not flat:

video

Article of Faith:
15-20% of US citizens are nonbelievers/Rationalists
"Twenty percent is hardly a majority, but it's a bigger minority than blacks, Jews, homosexuals, NRA members, teachers, or seniors. And it's certainly enough to stop being shy about expressing the opinion that we're not the crazy ones.
"Just because the vote is 4-1, it doesn't mean the minority is wrong. People who were against this war from the start were a minority. The majority used to believe the world was flat, but if you believe that today, you'd either be packed off to Bellevue, or asked to co-host the view."

History shows the dissenting voice is not the wrong voice
Wake up America, be rational

Getting out of Hand

From THINK PROGRESS:

$500,000:
Amount the war in Iraq costs per minute, according to a new analysis by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard’s Linda Bilmes, put out by the American Friends Service Committee. The study finds that this $720 million a day could buy homes for 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children.

Break the Silence




by Killswitch Engage

As I live and breathe
I am watching, watching a world die.
We greet this with apathy.
No longer!

Consumed by self,
We walk through each day
With no mind for deprivation
and moral decay.

We must destroy and rebuild
For the sake of all.
It starts with one.

If we can't break this silence, how can we survive?
Search inside yourself, know you're alive.
We must break the silence,
Now we are alive.
Silent no longer!

Make this world take notice
That change is in our hands.
The battle has just begun,
We are not defeated

With all that I am,
I will lift my voice
To start this revolution.
It starts today,
And it starts with me!
Silent no longer!

A Time to Break Silence




'A time comes when silence is betrayal. That time has come for us The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on...

We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak...
I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such...I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent... This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers...

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy -- and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us -- not their fellow Vietnamese --the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily women and children and the aged...


What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones? ...
We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators? Now there is little left to build on -- save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets...Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition...
We are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now... "The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisers" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."


Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies...The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death...

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous
civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.'


-Martin Luther King, Jr.
April 4, 1967

Full speech more than worth reading