Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The mad mind...

I've been reading some blog posts about the Norwegian murderer Anders Behring Breivik and his ties to Right-wing Christianity (as evidenced in his rambling manifesto). However, I caution folks not to draw causal conclusions from his own writings. From the little I've read it's apparent that the man is insane.

While I'm not fan of religion, I've read parts of his manifesto and it seems more like the ramblings of an insane mind than the coherent philosophy of a Fundamentalist: Christian or otherwise.

Don't misunderstand me: labels are useful and this guy was definitely a right-wing, nationalist nut-case. And although I believe him mentally ill (if killing children to further your nationalistic goals isn't evidence of mental illness, I don't know what is), labeling him a 'christian' because of his writings simply doesn't correlate.

Do we know anything more about him than what was published in his manifesto and has been recently reported? I haven't been following this in detail, but it appears that the level of christianity he 'practiced' was based on a standard, western understanding of the faith that almost all of us possess. My point being that I don't think he took much of these beliefs to 'heart. His knowledge and references to the faith fall in line with what most non-atheists (i.e. - the majority of folks in the US, however not the majority in Norway) would profess: i.e. - Jesus is god, he provides a path to forgiveness, etc. etc. (which, as my friends know, I believe to be utter nonsense). To say such beliefs are part of the 'cause' of this atrocity misses the bigger point:

1- Such beliefs have been around for many centuries,
2- they are held by millions (if not billions) of people
3- the vast majority who hold such beliefs (and even those considered devote), don't believe in the killing of innocents to further their ends

However, in this case we see a man who wantonly killing dozens of people to further his right-wing aims. The critical piece of information here isn't that he spouted Christian nonsense... But that such mundane beliefs were at work in a deranged mind.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he's "not guilty" and shouldn't be punished to the maximum extent of the law... Crazy or not he must be held accountable for his actions. But Christian ideas (and far worse - Islam anyone?) have been around for centuries... I'd caution everyone not to draw causal relationships when the more likely cause is a mal-functioning mind that latched onto a plethora of nonsense to justify  homicide.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The GOP sure knows how to breed d'em crazies...

Undercover video exposes Bachmann anti-gay therapy | Raw Replay

Why aren't these people laughed out of the public sqauare? I mean, come on! Besides being HARMFUL, trying to make gay people straight is as effective as praying for an amputee to regrow a limb: it ain't gonna happen.

Imagine if Bachmann's husband's "clinic" used witchcraft and spells to turn gays straight... They would be laughed out of existence... But because they mumble there incantations to Jesus -- to the SAME effect -- somehow its accepted.

I simply don't understand how the people of Minn could elect someone who is so out of touch with reality. Needless to say its frightening that such a person could seriously seek the highest office in the land. In any sane nation, the laughter would fill the airwaves.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Medicare - insurance SHOULD be non-profit and gov run

Medicare Saves Money -
The idea of Medicare as a money-saving program may seem hard to grasp. After all, hasn’t Medicare spending risen dramatically over time? Yes, it has: adjusting for overall inflation, Medicare spending per beneficiary rose more than 400 percent from 1969 to 2009.

But inflation-adjusted premiums on private health insurance rose more than 700 percent over the same period. So while it’s true that Medicare has done an inadequate job of controlling costs, the private sector has done much worse.

For-profit insurance is simply a wasteful model: it necessitates "more" spending on administrative overhead (to vet subscribers) -- and moreover defeats the entire purpose of insurance. Insurance is about shared risk. If you try to manage your risk pool such that you only have people in that pool who are the LEAST likely to use the benefit -- sure, you increase profits, but you leave those who NEED the insurance out of game: or at least make them pay a LOT more (which again, defeats the purpose of insurance as "shared risk".

By the way, we have direct evidence about the higher costs of private insurance via the Medicare Advantage program, which allows Medicare beneficiaries to get their coverage through the private sector. This was supposed to save money; in fact, the program costs taxpayers substantially more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why don't people see the value of government supported R&D and a job stimulus plan?

People are rightly concerned about unemployment. But those on the right -- and many in the main stream -- don't want government to do the one thing is really can to help the situation: use deficit spending to stimulate the economy and focus it on the technologies and areas that will be the future of the world's economy.

I'm tired of hearing the mantra: the government doesn't create jobs. BULL.  Everything from construction companies that build and maintain our highways -- to our national labs (which are underfunded today) that develop basic science into technologies that find their way into the commercial sector -- to direct support for car companies: all demonstrate that the government directly plays a role in stabilizing an economy.

I don't even have to mention the defense industry (which I just did!) -- how many 100's of thousands are employed by Lockheed, Boeing, Northrop, etc. ONLY because of government contracts?

But instead of using government funds to stimulate research & dev -- we are squandering it on tax cuts to the top 2-3% ... who DO NOT CREATE jobs: Median income has been stagnant since the 80's.

The country needs to develop the new technologies that will be in demand in the 21st century: clean energy, etc. ... But instead of leading the way, we will be BUYING this technology from the Chinese and Europeans who are investing in this research today.  If we allowed government to lead just a bit more we could drive innovation and create jobs (that the market will NOT right now since clean energy is not 'economically self-sustaining').  The US can once again generate the intellectual property that drives the economy (as we did in the 50's and 60's). But this is unlikely: the predominate view is that free markets are a panacea: a magic process that will solve ALL our problems. It's an infantile attitude and will inevitably lead to other nations and governments taking the technological lead in the 21st century... The century, that if we are LUCKY, we'll be playing catch up. If not, we'll simply continue to wither on the vine...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My two cents...

While I don't blame the Tucson shootings earlier this week on the rhetoric of the rabid right... I do think we need to be honest: such extreme and violent hyperbole certainly sets a tone where-by the crazies in our society can work themselves into a frenzy.

I have to say, the Pima county sherrif echo's some of my thoughts on the matter. From an interview on Fox News:
"I think it’s time as a country we need to do a little soul searching because I think that the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from the people in the radio business, and some people in the T.V. business, and what we see on T.V. and how are youngsters are being raised.  It may be free speech but it does not come without consequences.  Arizona has become the Mecca of prejudice and bigotry."
[Heraldo] Rivera then accused Democrats of taking of advantage of those comments, and asked Dupnik whether he regretted "speculating" on the motive.  Dupnik responds,
"Not in any way shape or form...It doesn't surprise me that people from the right would be upset that people like myself, and maybe people from the left, and a whole lot of other people in America feel as I do, that the anger that's purposefully generated by people who make a living off of it, serves one particular party better than the others.  And it wouldn't surprise me if it continues through at least 2012."
That's the problem: far too many pseudo-news folks -- almost exclusively on Fox -- make their living by spewing vitriol and fomenting hate. ... and that vitriol doesn't come from both sides of the isle. The usual strategy employed by the right's media outlet (FOX) is to repeat lies... or to exaggerate some kernal of truth to the point of absurdity.  Remember the recent poll? Fox News viewers where the most likely folks to be mis-informed about the FACTS associated with actual or proposed legislation. It's fair to say that Fox's stock-n-trade is whipping people into a frenzy over marginally true - at best - information. Most of the time it's just a re-write of history (e.g. - you can be sure almost anything 'historical' that comes out of Glenn Beck's mouth is either completely wrong or taken completely out of context... esp with reference to the founders of this nation).

Half of the problem is the American public. I don't know how many people swallow this non-sense without the slightest nod toward critical thinking. Take Sarah Palin's anti-socialism platform. Do ANY of her devotees stop to consider that she was governor (however briefly) of the most socialistic state in the union? Where else can you live, pay NO taxes -- while expected corporations who operate in your state to not only pay all the taxes for operating the state -- but also to pay every man, woman and child for living there? Sounds kinda socialistic to me (i.e. - the state's resources are for everyone - not just the oil companies that take the resources for profit).

Only when people start to ask questions... read history for themselves (Thomas Jefferson's letters and writings are a good place to start) will people be able to shake off the non-sense spewed by the ridiculous right. That should make making a living at Fox News a lot harder. ... and maybe cool the discourse so we can actually have a debate and not a shouting match; or worse.