Thursday, November 1, 2012
[For full effect, play both videos simultaneously, turn OFF the audio on the lower clip but play only the audio on the upper clip.]
Monday, October 1, 2012
Excerpts from his recent post: "The Coming Obama-Romney Economic Debate-Economic Program Similarities and Differences": (Hopefully Dr. Rasmus has no objections to my citing portions of his blog) You can read the entire article in detail here.
While there are several dramatic differences between the Obama and Romney economic programs, there are also several almost identical programs shared by both. Both favor major reductions in corporate taxes. Both advocate hundreds of billions in social spending cuts, including entitlement programs. Both are almost identical in their positions on Free Trade...
... both propose to extend much of the Bush tax cuts—Obama suspending the cuts for the top 3% and Romney eliminating tax credits for the working poor and lower middle class...
...Both appear quite willing to gut Medicaid spending, with Romney cutting other discretionary spending by additional trillions over the decade...
...These comparisons mean that, regardless who is elected president, an historic reduction in social program spending is on the agenda for the weeks immediately following the November 2012 elections....
...that has prompted this writer repeatedly to predict the likelihood of a double dip recession in 2013...
... if Obama is re-elected, the fiscal austerity coming in early 2013 may be delayed a year and effectively ‘back loaded’ to start taking its greatest effect a year later in 2014. But if Romney is elected and Republicans control either, or both, houses of Congress the more draconian austerity programs will take effect earlier in 2013. That alone will ensure a double dip recession...
Dr. Jack Rasmus is the author of the new book, “Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few”, April 2012, and host of the radio show, ALTERNATIVE VISIONS, on the Progressive Radio Network, PRN.FM, in New York, on Wednesdays at 2pm.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Friday, August 31, 2012
Though the clip is from Aaron Sorkin's fictional "News Room", everything spoken by the supposed fictional anchor is true - the stories, the politicians in their own words, the facts. Watch it; if you believe it speaks to the heart of the fate of this country, share it - put it on your FaceBook, your blog, whatever. It has over 1 million views already and it needs to be viewed by millions more.
How ironic that such clarity of truth should be spoken so eloquently from a "fiction" news media.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
… researchers’ estimate is based on the systematic collection of data directly from the industry and doctors during 2004, which shows the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spent 24.4% of the sales dollar on promotion, versus 13.4% for research and development, as a percentage of US domestic sales of US$235.4 billion. 
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Friday, June 29, 2012
Rather than completely republish the article, I will merely link to it below. It is presented in simple information points. I encourage you to browse the key points; whoever did prepared this did an excellent job.
The underlying opposition to the Affordable Care Act come primarily from those who claim they don't want government making medical decisions about their health care. But just under half our population is already currently receiving government managed health through Medicare and Medicaid with few complaints and at administrative costs far under that of private sector insurance companies which have a profit incentive to reduce costs. Employees of government medical insurance providers do not earn multi-million dollar bonuses and salaries.
It is an established fact that the USA has the highest medical costs with the lowest outcomes of any developed country. The facts speak for themselves. If you don't like the Affordable Care act, what is your alternative in a system where these costs increase far greater then inflation every year? Opponents, I'm listening.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
However I recently ran across this video; and not being the purist that many bloggers are in avoiding stooping to draw upon YouTube for content, I gladly offer this very uplifting clip to pass on. Matt has discovered the way the world is really supposed to work.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” - Carl Sagan
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The synopsis of The Plan: “American cities have gone through a massive wave of gentrification in the last few decades. To some people, it's not a natural ebb and flow of the real estate market, but a plot, by rich, mainly white people, to take over the neighborhoods of poor, mainly black people.”
Such movements are a prime example of emergent behavior: the behavior is not a property of any individual bird, but rather emerges as a property of the group itself. There is no leader, no overall control; instead the flock's movements are determined by the moment-by-moment decisions of individual birds, following simple rules in response to interactions with their neighbors in the flock. 
Friday, May 18, 2012
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Another disturbing trend is police officers and prosecutors using wiretapping statutes in certain states…to arrest and prosecute those who attempt to record police activities using video cameras that include audio. (Unlike photography and silent video, there is no general right to record audio; many state wiretap laws prohibit recording conversations if the parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy — which is never true for a police officer carrying out his or her duties in public.) 
Photography is Not a Crime, Carlos Miller, Pixiq.com
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Ingenious to be sure; but surely, what more could Corporate America possibly come up with that could top this nifty little rip-off on we unwary consumers?
Well I have apparently again underestimated the innovative thinking of American companies; Check out the following latest scam my consumer detective wife just uncovered:
Yes, now not only is the cardboard tube SHORTER in length, they have also now slightly INCREASED the DIAMETER of the tube! With a larger and shorter spool, they can sell us even that much LESS product for the same price!
No doubt that these little “tricks” fall under the radar when Washington is calculating the Consumer Price Index or Rate of Inflation. After all, the actual prices for consumer goods show no noticeable increase, we all simply get less product for the same dollar.
We may try to be savvy consumers, but really, at some point, who has the time to sort through a shopping cart full of products to determine the extent to which we are increasingly being scammed?
Sunday, April 29, 2012
I fully support the entrepreneurial spirit of this nation. However I note that many individuals who tout the values of “free markets” often forget that their success may not be entirely attributed to their ego-driven self-made assertions. The fact is much of the business success by smart, motivated, innovative people, was achieved by standing on the shoulders of others who laid the groundwork before them – this includes significant benefactions made possible through government investment.
It is a fact that many successful commercial enterprises would not exist today without the initial investment of government projects. Some undertakings were simply too large, excessively complex or otherwise beyond the scope, abilities or resources of the private sector. Government instigated projects have been essential in fostering many private commercial industries existing today. Let me offer a few examples:
The Railroad System
In 1862 President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Act (1) authorizing congress to issue to the privately held Southern Pacific and Central Pacific railroads, 6,400 acres of FREE land (later doubled to 12,800) and $48,000 in government bonds for every mile of track built. The railroads then sold portions of their land to arriving settlers at huge profits.
Today Congress still authorizes funds to support Amtrak passenger service, funding the upgrade of track and infrastructure to private railroad companies which also benefits the railroad’s primary source of income: freight revenues.
Interstate Highway System
The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways otherwise known as the Interstate Highway system, was authorized by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. The cost of construction has been estimated at $425 billion (in 2006 dollars), making it the largest public works project in history.(2) Interstate commerce, in the form of commercial trucking, depends almost entirely on the highway system.
Dams and Irrigation
The Federal Power Commission in 1920 enabled construction of federal dams on the Colorado and Columbia rivers, leading directly to public/private competition for production and sale of power.(3) The Columbia Basin Project of irrigation canals and aqueducts which directly supports commercial agriculture is estimated to have cost $1,687,000,000 alone.
Far too risky for most private companies to venture, the US Space program has resulted in monumental economic, scientific and technological returns, far exceeding the initial investment. The space program represents significant revenue for American corporations such as Honeywell, Northrup, Locheed, Douglass and a long list of other technical and engineering companies. It is estimated that for every dollar spent on the space program, the U.S. economy receives about $8 of economic benefit.(5)
The Internet we know today (not invented by Al Gore) started out as The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). The network was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the United States Department of Defense for use by its projects at universities and research laboratories in the US.(4) Today thousands of private companies, large and small, depend on the Internet for their existence.
Privately operated nuclear utility power plants would not have been able to develop the nuclear fuel in use today were it not for the Manhattan Project.
The list continues: the Panama Canal, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge as well as government agencies which directly support commerce such as the National Weather Service, the U. S. Postal Service and the Federal Aviation Administration.
So when we ask, what has the government ever done for us? Well, there's the aqueduct...
1. Wikipedia: Pacific Railroad Act
2. Wikipedia: Interstate Highway System
3. University of Washington Library: "Grand Coulee: Harnessing a Dream" (book excerpt)
4. Wikipedia: ARAPANET
5. Freakonomics.com: "Is space exploration worth the cost?"
Monday, April 23, 2012
My recommendation for addressing your own personal survival during the trying times ahead: buy stock in media corporations.
In the mean time -
I am reevaluating my commitment to the futility continuing this blog. Added to that, I logged in today only to discover the "new and improved" blogger interface. They were nice enough to include a little "Send Feedback" link in the lower right-hand corner. My feedback essentially said: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". I have little doubt, though, that Google/Blogger will afford me the same level of concern and responsiveness as does the Representative Republic in which I supposedly live.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Over the intervening years the specific order of genes (genome) for a huge number of species, including Homo sapiens, has been mapped. Even within our own species, we can delineate the relationship and ancestry of specific individuals beyond 99% reliability; certainly no surprise if you’ve ever had to prove paternity for child support.
DNA mapping has actually gone back and corrected errors made in the taxonomy of many plant and animal species previously classified through morphology. Beyond a doubt, DNA PROVES Biological Evolution!
Yet still today in backward countries such as Turkey, Afghanistan, Somalia and the United States of America, a large percentage of their populations still tenaciously cling to the creation stories of their assorted Holy Books; tales written back in eras when the causes of weather, disease and the movement of planets were woefully beyond the technology of humans to explain.
But it is incorrect to ascribe these archaic beliefs in a deistic cause for the origins of life to ignorance or illiteracy; some very smart and highly educated people continue to hold Creationist views, though their justifications tend to be more elaborate.
For example, Dr. Francis Collins, physician and geneticist, currently director of the National Institutes of Health and formerly head of the Human Genome Project, believes that DNA itself is proof of the existence of god. In his book, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief”, Collins asserts that the universe was created by god 14 million years ago specifically tuned to promote life on earth. Collins believes that the development of living organisms was part of god’s plan (through the divinely created mechanisms of DNA) and that humans are unique from all the other species in ways that defy evolutionary explanations.
I must give scholars such as Collins some credit for at least attempting to reconcile scientific evidence with their beliefs; most evangelical Christian, Jewish and Muslim believers are satisfied with merely dismissing DNA and Biological Evolution as a “lie”.
I spent some time a few years ago attempting to understand why some very smart and accomplished scientists hold biblical or deistic beliefs. My father-in-law, Melvin, for example, a highly published former university Horticulture professor, is among them. I have attended lectures, debates and read their works – but I find repeatedly that when I pare away the specific elements of their arguments, one underlying theme always seems to be revealed: these folks want very earnestly the reassurance and comfort one finds in belief.
Collins’ desire for there to be a god becomes quite evident in “The Language of God” and is typical of other scientists who I have heard or read. In his book Collins asserts that “God exists because we have an innate desire for him to exist". He goes on to explain: "A duck desires to swim, so water exists. A baby desires food so food exists".
The question comes to my mind: if I don’t have the desire for god, does he/she/it therefore not exist?
I began this post essentially acknowledging what a remarkable volume of human understanding about the workings of our world has accumulated during just my lifetime. In fact, far more knowledge has been discovered during my generation than in my father’s; exponentially even more his father’s. Within only the most recent decade we have acquired a tentative understanding of how this universe actually came to be and what was likely there before the Big Bang and it’s ultimate fate.
As a friend of mine once pointed out: Every day something new is added to the body of knowledge and our understanding of the workings and origins of our universe. Yet religion, for over two millennia, has added nothing.
“The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief”, Book review by Robert Neary
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
One symptom on which I base my pessimism about our future is that our nation’s self-vision of greatness appears to me mostly based on reminiscence. Our position in the global scheme as innovators and leaders in the advancement of humanity has been replaced by short term fixation on personal and individual material security. I fear this mindset will doom to failure our 200 year “experiment in democracy”.
I recently came across two videos; one an interview by Bill Moyers with author Isaac Asimov done in 1988. The other video; the testimony of scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson made before Senate Science Committee, March 7, 2012.
In the 1988 video interview with journalist, Bill Moyers, Asimov says:
"The decline in America's world power is, in part, brought about by our diminishing status as a world science leader.”In other words, even back in 1988 Asimov was warning that America’s decline in advancing science and technology was already noticeable. It was apparent, even back then, that we could not rely solely on our reputation in the past as innovators alone, to continue to carry us through to the future.
"Yes, we're still probably up there technologically... but what margins we do have are slimmer, narrower, and we're being overtaken."
"The most damaging statement the United States has ever been subjected to is the phrase 'Yankee Know-How". You get the feeling, somehow, that Americans, just by the fact they're Americans, are somehow more smarter and more ingenious than other people.
"… there is this feeling that somehow because we have a... decent economic system, freedom, free enterprise, which I am all in favor of, that alone will do it for us, and I admit that helps us out in some ways, [but] not if we're lazy about it. It’s not going to do it for us if we don't DO anything.”
This year Neil deGrasse Tyson published his new book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, in which he continues the point made by Asimov: that the engines that drive American innovation, and more importantly, stimulate and grow our ECONOMY, are founded in our ability to envision the future. Tyson points directly to the decline of the Space Program and diversion of funding from NASA and other scientific research.
In his testimony before the Senate committee, Tyson said:
“If all you do is coast, you slow down until others eventually catch up and pass you by. We have symptoms in society today; we’re going broke, we’re mired in debt, we don’t have as many scientists we want or need, and jobs are going overseas. I assert that these are not isolated problems; that they’re the collective consequence of the absence of ambition that consumes you when you stop having dreams."Tyson was trying to promote the idea that increased funding for NASA has proven far greater benefits by driving a culture of innovation that is responsible for overall economic growth "…. innovations take place, patents are granted, products are developed. Everyone feels like tomorrow they want to invent and bring into the present."
Americans have often held a slightly myopic view of the basis for our Yankee Know-how. The truth is that much of our past brain power has been actually imported:
“The atomic bomb was invtned and brought to fruition by a bunch of European refugees; you go down the list of names, that's the [supposedly] 'Yankee know-how" - AsimovChina, India and other countries which used to send almost all of their best students to the US for education are now building their own universities and research facilities at home.
“… most of the principle scientists behind the Manhattan project… were foreign nationals. All educated in European countries… Once we developed that infrastructure here… we became the target for people to become educated from all around the world. That became a boon to our country because we were getting the smartest people in the world. My great fear is that we now educate them and they go back their home countries and we would lose the contributions they would have made had they stayed.” - Tyson
Meanwhile in the US, the final Space Shuttle was hangared last year; there currently is no replacement program in place and we must now depend on our former enemy, Russia, for our meager manned program needs. The percentage of US citizens who believe in Biological Evolution show we are at the bottom of the list of developed countries, way down there with Turkey. The Tennessee legislature last month passed a law requiring that Creationism be taught in schools along with Evolution. We are in the process of selecting the leader of the Free World based on whether or not these men feel women should have access to birth control or not. These are not encouraging indicators of a strong nation retaining it's status on the globe as a champion of innovation, leadership and progress.
When asked what could be done to restore our nation’s national standing, Neil deGrasse Tyson suggested that merely increasing the money allocated to NASA by one-half-cent of the national budget would provide remarkable return on investment toward rebuilding our economy. Tyson went on to add:
“… without this we just move back to the caves because that is where we’re going to end up anyway as the rest of the world passes us by."I would urge you to invest the time to watch both videos linked below:
1. Bill Moyers interview with Isaac Asimov. Originally aired in 1988 (runtime 5:57)
2. Neil deGrasse Tyson Testifies Before Senate Science Committee, March 7, 2012 (runtime 25:49) (Listen particularly to the question and answer period following Tyson's official testimony.)
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Hang ‘Em High was a fictional story; however, in 1889 a young woman and her husband, were actually lynched for cattle rustling in Sweetwater River Wyoming by a posse of angry and powerful ranchers. One of the men involved in the crime which has gone down in history as “The Lynching of Cattle Kate”, was my great, great uncle John Henry Durbin.
My cousin Nancy just recently uncovered this skeleton in the family closet during a trip she and her husband made a few years ago attempting to find the old Durbin family ranch in Wyoming. Cousin Nancy’s interest in family genealogy piqued one day while digging through some family archives; she discovered a letter written by a Mrs. Ordway, the wife of the foreman of a Wyoming cattle ranch. In this letter a worried wife revealed fear and dread regarding the fate of her husband apparently implicated with John Henry Durbin and rumors of some horrendous unmentioned deed.
Cousin Nancy and husband set off for Wyoming last fall to try to locate the old ranch property. Their quest brought them to the archives of the Casper College Western History Center. It was here that my cousin discovered the family secret; and the explanation for the source of fears mentioned in Mrs. Ordway’s old letter – historical documents revealed that indeed, our great, great uncle Durbin had been implicated in the lynching of homesteaders Ellen Watson and James Averell.
There are a number of internet sites and a book written about “The Wyoming Lynching of Cattle Kate”. 
My great, great uncle, John Henry Durbin was a wealthy and influential Wyoming cattleman. In those days ranchers laid claim to anywhere their cattle grazed; paying little heed with regard for property lines and land ownership. Conflicts arose over grazing rights and access to water. To secure their own financial self interests, Durbin and other big ranches formed the Wyoming Stock Grower’s Association. The association wielded a powerful influence on the local business and political landscape.
Jim Averell and Ellen Watson homesteaded a plot of land in the Sweetwater River valley. The homestead had good grazing and access to water. However, prior to Jim and Ellen having homesteaded the land, another wealthy cattleman and member of the Stock Association, Albert Bothwell had used the property, considering it open range. Bothwell continued to run his cattle over Jim and Ellen’s homestead. When Jim and Ellen strung barbed wire to block Bothwell’s “free range” cattle, the enraged Bothwell took action.
Bothwell enlisted Durbin and four other cattlemen to confront the homesteaders, determined to intimidate them run them off the land. It didn’t’ go well: Bothwell and Durbin pulled guns on the pair of homesteaders. A scuffle ensued and Durbin ended up shot, wounded in the leg. The cattlemen tied up Ellen and Jim, throwing the two into the back of a wagon. Their courage bolstered by adequate amounts of alcohol, the cattlemen eventually threw a rope over a tree near the bank of the Sweetwater River where they hanged Jim Averell and Ellen Watson.
The bodies were discovered and cut down from the tree the following day. Word of the lynching quickly spread and the six cattlemen were soon arrested. However, being wealthy men, they were immediately released on bail. A month later a grand jury was convened, however, the indictment stalled as witnesses to the crime began to mysteriously disappear before they could testify. These suspicious events ,doubtlessly, was the probable source of the worries expressed by Mrs. Ordway in the letter discovered by my cousin.
No one was ever tried for the lynching of Averell and Watson. My great great uncle John Henry Durbin died a millionaire in 1907. His obituary reads: “Former cattle king and bonanza miner had [a] most romantic career”. His obituary makes no mention of his involvement in the Lynching of Cattle Kate.
Legends of America web site.
1. Amazon.com: “The Wyoming Lynching of Cattle Kate, 1889” by George W. Hufsmith.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Below I offer a 19-minute explanatory video from the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).
Synopsis:As a Skeptic, I find optimism (or pessimism, for that matter) equally disquieting, particularly if either position is based on incorrect or biased assumptions. For me, I would much rather deal with the facts of a situation; this gives me a more accurate basis on which to act or proceed and thereby expect a more optimal outcome. I have long felt that religious belief is popular because it affords people an optimistic viewpoint regardless of the realities of one’s situation.
Why are we so terrible at predicting what will make us happy? How do we maintain such stalwart optimism about our future in the face of so many modern threats?
Psychologists have long been aware that most people maintain an often irrationally positive outlook on life. Now it looks as though optimism may, in fact, be crucial to our existence. But does unrealistic optimism also threaten it as well?
Acclaimed neuroscientist Tali Sharot’s experiments and research at The Social Brain Project in cognitive science have shed new light on the biological basis of optimism, and she visits the RSA to take an in-depth look at how the brain generates hope and what happens when it fails.
But our media and culture are often bombarded with optimistically appearing messages. Over the last month, for example, media reports that the Consumer price index rose 0.2% or home sales rose 3% or unemployment dropped 2% leave the implication that these trends are linear and will continue their positive progression. In fact these figures rise and fall with regularity – precisely what statistics of these measures routinely do.
A reported drop in unemployment does not explain how many people have permanently given up looking for work, how many have returned to work at much lower wages. The underlying concept of "productivity" actually equates to more products or services using fewer people and/or at lower cost. Less people accomplishing more does not bode well for an increasing population all wishing to thrive and prosper.
Still I speak with friends who just assume that things will be getting better; housing will rebound, employment will rally. And in the short run, at least,they probably are correct.
Maybe it’s just me, but in the grand scope of things I don’t see things getting better. As I have often repeated in this blog, I believe my generation has seen the best times Man has, and ever will, on this planet. The truth is the middle class has shrunk, college graduates are increasingly finding it difficult to earn a decent living, and the tenor of political discourse makes me feel like there are those among eager to return society back to the 19ths century.
During a recent exchange with one of my commenters I came across this quotation: "You believe easily that which you hope for earnestly." – Terence 185–159 BC
I believe Terence's simple statement more than adequately sums up the conclusions drawn from Sharot's research at the Social Brain Project.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
No where do these perceptual differences appear so pronounced (or have such effect directly on our lives) than in the political arena. Here we have candidate Rick Santorum stating with absolute certainty that Global Climate Change is a “hoax” or that a college education essentially amounts to nothing more than Liberal indoctrination. The latter a remarkably absurd statement coming from a religious adherent … religion quite literally wrote the Book on indoctrination!
Liberals certainly are not immune to thinking errors or political gaffs, but why do we associate the prevalence of apparent rational-less ideology so strongly with Conservatives? It sometimes seems that Conservatives are almost living in their own separate reality.
Recent research, it turns out, is revealing that this may indeed be the case. A multitude of psychological studies reveal that Conservatives tends to hold more of a “defensively based” ideology; or more to the point, Conservatives view political issues on an emotional level within a context of threat.
I recently read a news article suggesting that the GOP party establishment is attempting to encourage their candidates to shift the campaign focus less on threatening and fear-inducing commentary and instead more toward what the party visions as their platform for the future. Indeed, the 20-some odd public debates seem to be all about demonizing Obama and each other rather than laying a foundation for sound governance. The GOP's menacing portrayals regarding social issues such as gay marriage, access to contraceptives and religion in politics, appear to be running headlong into a wall not shared by most Americans... even among many other Conservative voters.
The data in these studies show that Conservatives tend to have strong adverse reactions when presented with negative images. "The aversive in life is more physiologically and cognitively tangible to some people and they tend to gravitate to the political right."
Liberals, on the other hand, appeal more to an open, exploratory philosophy; trying things out and seeking multiple and contradictory information in comparison. Liberals feel less visceral responses to stimuli because they question whether it is true or if there may be another different or more complex explanation. This philosophic approach has the effect of dispelling fear by considering other possible information.
I notice this fear-based response to topical issues is common among strong religious adherents as well. Evangelicals, who tend to view issues in stark black-and-white terms generally tend to also be Conservative in their thinking. For these folks, belief in god is based on fear of reprisal (hell) for not following the rules, fear of death, even fear of being ostracised by one's peers, all of which plays into acceptance of dogma, or comfortable rationalism, to assuage the threatening consequences.
Back on the political spectrum, this is probably why unsubstantiated, not clearly defined and scary adages such as “redistribution of the wealth”, “Socialism”, “entitlement society”, and “Big Government” to name but a few, seem to resonate as somehow meaningful to Conservative minds.
The down side of acknowledging this theory, regarding the psychology of fear and belief, has the discouraging implication that it may be difficult or impossible break through to minds which appear to be "hard wired" to view the world through the context of fear or threat.
To these folks, as Stephen Colbert has suggested: "The truth has a Liberal bias".
1. "The Left and the Right: Physiology, Brain Structure and Function, and Attentional Differences", Chris Mooney, The Intersection (http://scienceprogressaction.org), Feb. 28, 2012
Monday, March 12, 2012
To further this objection, Iran is being presented as an irrational rogue state, crazed with idealism and poised to strike Israel before the paint is even dry the moment their new nukes roll off the assembly line. Whoa, now just hold on a moment says, Joint Chief of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey who recently came under fire from Congressman Tom Price (R- Georgia) when the general said “Iran is a rational actor… the alternative is that we attribute to them [that] their actions are so irrational they have no basis of planning. The key is to understand how they act and not trivialize their actions by attributing to them some irrationality, that’s a very dangerous thing for us to do.” In other words, the General was warning the Conservatives that Iran is not acting in a manner which indicates that they are completely oblivious to the consequences of their ambitions, policies and actions. The Conservatives, of course, are not happy the general is not doing a War Dance and want him fired. Video Here.
I recently listened again to a decade old broadcast of NPR’s This American Life, “Why We Fight”, specifically Act III of the broadcast titled "Realism 101" which was an analysis of the reasons behind our ramp-up to go to war against Iraq and take out Saddam Hussein. My friends, listening to this broadcast was “deja vous all over again” – originally broadcast back in December 2002, I was overwhelmed how closely history may be poised to repeat itself.
The main impetus for whipping up public frenzy for going to war against Iraq was we needed to stop Saddam Hussein BEFORE he got his hands on nuclear weapons. Sound familiar? The incessant drumbeat was that Hussein was an irrational unpredictable megalomaniac who would do anything without regard for the consequences. Actually Hussein cooperated with UN inspectors allowing them into his country and made any number of concessions apparently fully fearing he would be invaded by the US. Actually I think is cooperation pissed the Bush Administration off even more... the result, as we say, is history.
Interviewed in the This American Life segment, Kenneth Pollack, author of the book “The Threatening Storm: the Case for Invading Iraq” spells out in greater depth the (real) reasons for the Bush Administration's eagerness in invading Iraq, among them:
- Taking Iraq was doable, his army was no match for the might of the U.S. military.
- The belief that Arab cultures respect the show of force and doing so would change the political climate in the Middle East.
- Taking Iraq would allow the U.S. to establish bases in Iraq and thereby allowing us to close the Prince Sultan Air Base inside Saudi Arabia. (which did close in 2003).
- Establishing a friendly government in the region (Iraq) would then appear to promote other U.S. interests in the area including:
a.) Reduce the dependence on obtaining oil from Saudi Arabia and Iran.
b.) Imply tacit support to pro-Democracy movements in Iran, Egypt and cause the government of Syria to fall.
c.) Place additional pressure on Saudi Arabia and Egypt to crack down on Islamic extremism.
Fast-forward again to today where John McCain just recently grilled Defense Secretary Leon Panetta regarding the Administration’s reluctance to take an aggressive military position regarding the “threat” posed by Iran and involve ourselves in the conflict in Syria. McCain, in criticizing Panetta’s admonition that we proceed cautiously before committing American lives, said “... let me tell you what’s wrong with your statement... you don’t mention American leadership”.
Of ALL people, Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war McCain should know better. Idealistic posturing regarding idealism and our nation’s honor can, as it has in the past, been paid for with the lives, the limbs and the blood of real people.
As for the GOP candidate's disgusting posturing regarding this extremely serious topic, they can well afford their nonchalant rhetoric… none of those Bozos are the Commander In Chief – yet!
I highly recommend you listen to the short 19-minute segment of link posted here. I think you might agree that we are poised on the brink of having history repeat itself.Update:
This American Life, Why We Fight, Act III: Realism 101.
Runtime: 19 min
After composing this entry, Meir Dagan, former chief of Israel's Mossad, was interviewed on last night on CBS 60 Minutes. For the last 30 years Dagan has been specifically charged with counteracting Iran's nuclear weapon development. Dagan stated that Iran is capable of acting rationally and fully understands the consequences of any potential actions they may consider. Dagan emphasized in the strongest terms that military action against Iran is ill advised at this time. View the CBS interview here.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
During the course of the discussion, Third Guy dropped a few key phrases such as: “Socialism”, “redistribution of the wealth”, “entitlement reform” and finally how Obama’s policies were blatantly “anti-business”. Stereotypical (and mythical) opinions regarding Welfare, Unemployment and Food Stamps were also bandied about. Having personal career experience in administering those programs, I was quick to point out their thinking errors… though I had a sneaking suspicion my facts did little dislodge any already congealed ideas in their minds.
I’m not the best at thinking on my feet and, of course, one often thinks of more salient responses long after the fact. Recalling the previous night’s conversation, the nagging suggestion that Third Guy was a regular consumer of Conservative Talk Media came to mind. Given the opportunity to go back in time to the previous evening, I might have offered the following in reply:
As in publicly run institutions for the greater good such as public schools, municipal water supplies, air traffic control? Third Guy had already revealed he was waiting until he reached 65 to retire so he would not be without medical coverage… you know, in order to quality for that Socialist of all social programs – Medicare.
Redistribution of the wealth:
Is he talking about fearing what he thinks WILL happen; or is he completely ignorant that we have already seen the LARGEST REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH IN OUR NATION’S HISTORY? I am talking about the monumental transfer of ownership from the Middle Class to the upper few percent. There is no shortage of data to confirm this has happened already.
Obama is “anti-business”:
Really? I am curious if the employees of GM, from the highest compensated CEO down to the assembly line, think the government guaranteed LOAN he orchestrated to keep the auto maker from closing, is anti-business. (Conservatives dismiss this as him merely to pay tribute to Unions) The Obama administration even facilitated millions of taxpayer dollars investment in (non union) solar technology company Solyndra, only to have their corporate management squander Our investment and declare bankruptcy. Let’s make this abundantly clear: this private company dropped the ball, not the government.
I find it discouraging to attempt to have any sort of meaningful discussion with people who have surrendered their thinking for mindless parroting of simplistic, and often outright false, propaganda from Conservative handlers. When faced with such doltishness, facts unfortunately become completely irrelevant.
I'll leave you with this little gem I stumbled across on Reddit:
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Later over dinner with friends of ours who live on the Big Island we asked about the prevalence of solar panels. They revealed that their electric bills were extremely high; averaging around $600 per month. This last Christmas when he had holiday lights on their house, the electric bill rose to $800. Homes in Hawaii generally do not require heat or air conditioning, so we are talking about just powering lights, refrigeration and hot water.
Hawaiians who can afford it have been availing themselves of State and Federal energy programs to subsidize installation of solar panels and photovoltaic panels on their homes. Another person we were talking with revealed that his photovoltaic conversion cost $47,000 a third, of which, was his cost after government subsidies. At these electric rates, he expected his photovoltaic installation to pay for itself in reduced electric bills in roughly five years.
As chance would have it, the very day following our conversation, an article appeared in the West Hawaii Today newspaper detailing that, due to the increase in home photovoltaic panel installations, Hawaiian Electric Co. has lost significant revenue. As a result, the HEC would be raising it’s rates to make up for the loss in revenue. In other words, sell less electricity at higher cost. Renewable energy, it seems, is bad for business and the rate payer is expected to pick up the tab.
As I outlined in my two previous posts, the trend is clear: Corporate America will continue to find ways to suck more of our individual income and give us less in return.
“Hawaii solar savings spark higher electric bills”, West Hawaii Today, Feb.6, 2012.