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


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


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

It's only a matter of time...