Jul 20, 2006

A Veto Against Hope. Enough With Your Stupidity Already!

It’s time to get serious about putting the lunatic fringe in its place: the margins of our society where it belongs! I don’t expect any reasonable response to this from them—after all reason is not their strong suit—but the longer we remain silent the more confusion there is. Having close-minded conservatives spew their incoherencies doesn’t provide us with “another side” to an issue, just plenty of cacophony! So to all of you who have the brain of Ann Coulter and the character of Barbara Bush* (the elder) listen up:

Isn’t it nice to believe in something just because it makes you feel good regardless if it’s true? Or, that once you take a position you won’t change your views no matter what? How about when you don’t like somebody’s else’s argument/ideas/lifestyle but you can’t use any facts to shoot them down so instead you behave like a bully? You know exactly what I’m talking about but you won’t allow me to call your bluff, so, go ahead, attack me personally, not my arguments! After all, you are a conservative; one who confuses having the right to an opinion as making your own facts up! After all, you live in a static universe divinely ordained & revealed only to the “chosen ones”, anti-intellectual, superstitious, and close-minded.

Why am I saying all these things? Let me explain why I believe my statements aptly describe you. Your president used his first ever veto against Congress’s bill for stem cell research. This is the same man who promotes incorrect science (unfounded beliefs); the same person who believes Biblical creationism is a better “theory” to be taught in school than one of the strongest, most-tested scientific theories we have, that of Evolution! But, I doubt that he fully understands what science is. Bush said that human embryo equals human life, and to fund stem cell research would “violate the dignity of human life.” Curiously, his spokesman acknowledged that private funding and research can still go on! Did I miss the effort by the White House to stop this “genocide” from taking place? What happened to “murdering innocent babies”?!! Private murder is OK? What happened was simple: Bush’s act was a veto against hope!

Yes, the same people, who question global warming and evolution, want to tell us about the science of stem cell research! They tell us that a collection of cells smaller than the small dot at the end of this sentence is a human being. This mass of cells develops 5-14 days after the egg’s fertilization. Those blastocysts fail, naturally, at a rate of 40-80%. They have the potential to develop into a human being. Human ova and sperm are naturally wasted too. Is anyone seriously suggesting collecting and saving all of them because they’re human lives?

The stem cells have another potential, to grow into any specialized cell for a particular body organ, and hold the promise of unlocking the secrets to curing dreadful diseases. The “lines” available to the scientists today aren’t enough for research so they need more. If research stops, those stem cell lines that already exist will deteriorate shortly and will be discarded. Wait, is this murder?..

Aren't you the same people who want to ban the the morning-after pill as emergency contraception to prevent egg fertilization? So, is sperm now a human being? Gosh, all the humanity... Sure, why not admit that you don't like sex so much that you want to keep others in the dark and misinformed like you? I don't expect you to let the facts interfere with your story! Facts like rising unintended pregnacies, abortions, and sexually transmitted diseases because of the policies you advocate! No, not bad sex is bad, but sex altogether is bad, right? Why bother checking to see what ignorance and superstition has brought to those "red states" you have big influence in? If it sounds/feels good to you, it's OK. The hell with the facts and those godless hedonists!

Can anyone explain to me why those “pro-life” conservatives don’t care about human life when it really matters? Being pro-life means enhancing human life when it makes a difference. It also means providing health care and hope to the sick--so stem cell research is pro-life! It’s strange to me that you conservatives don’t want us to have reproductive choice, don’t want us even to have the proper education & available information about sex—a natural human activity—but once a baby is born you conservatives don’t want to provide a safety net to mother & child! Healthcare, daycare, education, equality of opportunity, etc, are all liberal/progressive values after all.

Giving life a chance is not what you conservatives have in mind. When your president was governor in Texas, he presided over a record-setting executions (150 or so), and refused to grant clemency and/or a stay of execution to mentally retarded persons and to those who wanted to use the newly available science of DNA to prove their innocence. But, if you believe God tell you things, or that you act on his behalf, you go to sleep at night with a clear conscience.

Sorry, I forgot to call you arrogant (in addition to being anti-intellectual, superstitious, and close-minded). You’re convinced that not only God is on your side but that you speak for him as well! You support & applaud bigots like Jerry Falwell & Pat Robertson and you elect to Congress Republicans like these—who while voting for the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage—also pompously declared:

Rep. John Carter (R-TX): “It’s part of God’s plan for the future of mankind.”
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN): “It wasn’t our idea, it was God’s.”
Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO): “We best not be messing with His plan.”
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA): “I think God has spoken very clearly on this issue.”

I can hardly find an atheist who can be more dangerous that any religious fanatic who not only believes God has told him the truth but it is also his duty to impose that "truth" on everybody else. [go ahead, click on the links to read what Falwell, Robertson, and Coulter have said.... and they are just a few of the wingnuts on the conservative side]

I know not all Conservatives are part of the lunatic fringe but the former have allowed the latter to highjack their party, trying to turn America back to the Dark Ages. There’s going to be a national debate, probably a serious struggle, soon. It’ll be between the forces of modernity/science/progress and the forces of conservatism/authoritarianism and apocalyptic religion. The other advanced countries have more or less settled on the side of modernity and the scientific method/inquiry, and they’ve been promoting a progressive social agenda. We—the true pro-lifers, the liberals—cannot let our country lose our traditional & progressive values. Those values that made America great; that made our cities vibrant cosmopolitan centers and our institutions beacons of hope and freedom!

*Former First Lady Barbara Bush said of the war in Iraq: "Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

Jul 15, 2006

Isn't it Time for Another Monkey Trial? And, Is Hot Air Good or Bad? What's Your Gut Reaction?

Will Global Warming Lead to Nakedness?

There is a lot of hot air around lately. Scientists tell us that 2006 (first half) has probably been the warmest ever for the US, and that global temps have been rising in the last decade; but what do they really know? The expression, boy it's hot as hell today, uttered by people a couple thousand years ago doesn't really tell us how hot it was or whether their definition of hell was the same as ours today! OK, maybe global temps were precipitously rising when Jesus was walking this Earth. Maybe that's why he talked about Rapture [that's the end of the world for those who don't know] occurring within the life time of his followers! If Jesus was wrong on this, the scientists can be wrong about everything! Our planet [or maybe it's not a planet after all but the center of the universe instead!] has gone through cycles before and all has pretty much adjusted fine.

Much of North America once was covered in miles-high ice sheets. Since the glaciers retreated, we've had more land to use and drill into for more oil! Thank goodness Gore didn't get elected so he could reverse global warming, because the glaciers might be attacking Detroit and upper Maine by now! Today, with some coordinated effort, we may cancel winter in the Northeast altogether! This will save us money in heating bills and the occasional trip to warmer states in the winter or for "spring break"!

Isn't science overrated? Look how many bad things it has brought us--like, weapons of mass destruction, dangerous & disturbing knowledge of all sorts, porn easily accessible via the internets, and has kept Jerry Fallwell alive. I say, let's knock some sense into the know-it-all smartasses and knock them down from their pedestal. While at it, we may want to knock down the Church of Scientology for good measure! What kind of self-respecting church can adopt science with the latter's emphasis on reason, inquiry, revision, and relativism? The so-called Christian Science Monitor recently put the hot air theory into perspective for us; to show us that ..girly men have found a way to appear tough, "Combating the climate gives nonhawks a chance to look tough. They can flex their muscle for Mother Nature, take a preemptive strike at an SUV. Forget the Patriot Act, it's Kyoto that'll save you." That's global warbling explained! Nice!

Americans seem to agree with me on how to treat science. Most don't accept the theory of evolution--allegedly one of the best tested and fact-supported scientific theories. Reason can get you only this far, but it also takes time and energy to think and ponder; in this hectic lifestyle imposed on us by modernity who's got the luxury to reflect? This July, 81 years ago, the "Monkey Trial" took place; but who remembers that some biology teacher attempted to illegally teach evolution in the classroom and the consequences of that trial? Perhaps it's time to have another debate/trial to refresh our collective memory and settle why the Intelligent Design Theory or Creationism should be taught in school as credible alternatives to evolution. This time, however, we should conduct this debate/trial in the court of public opinion, since it seems that the Scopes (1925,TN) and Dover (2005, PA) court room trials brought verdicts against the public sentiment! Horrors! Many Americans will not accept theories science wants to shove down their throats. No siree!

Thank God, President Bush will use his first-ever veto against a Congressional bill to fund and support stem cell research. Why can't we measure the greatness of our nation by the size of our gut? Specifically, I mean, what comes out of our gut, that is, our gut reaction! It has served us well in the past. Right? Dubya is an expert on leading the way with his gut: his sense of what's right & wrong! He makes public policy based on this gut feeling. He makes friends and nominates people to the Supreme Court only after he looks into their eyes and follows his heart! What else can you ask of him? As long as there are some people who don't believe human activities contribute to global warming, then there will always be two sides to the story! That's a fair & balanced approach!

Isn't about time we pull ourselves together and become one nation, indivisible under God. No more whining, no more silly divisions and unpatriotic arguments. We are very special people that's why others want to harm us and take what we have. Simply put, you're either with us or against us. Period! And, don't try to confuse us with "the facts"... Your theories are not better than ours! This museum promotes a theory that has gaps, or "missing links," whereas this museum gives the definitive answers many Americans need. Which one is better? What's your gut reaction? Heh?

Editor's note: This post has lots of links to keep you busy for a while. I'm enjoying this hot summer and posting less frequently. I found that my laptop doesn't like the sand, nor the rain, nor too much sun... On the other hand, the summer muses have been getting my attention; hard to resist them sirens...

Jul 6, 2006

The Mugging of the American Dream Continues...

Dumbing Down of America, or, Getting Ahead by Adding More People in the Rear?
We often refer to America as the land of opportunity. Talk to everyone who's made it and he'll tell you that it is so. No surprise there. Compared to other countries the US has indeed been the New World in more ways than a physical description. I don't know if it's easier to make it today than it was in the "good ol' days", but I do know one way to improve your lot is through education. Statistically--you know those numbers that reveal what happens to most people--more Americans are working longer hours, have less job security, are more likely to be uninsured, and they can earn 73% more money over a working lifetime if they have a higher education degree!

As of July 1st, the cost of attending college got more expensive. OK, everything gets more expensive over time, but the question is whether the new pricing system of and the access to higher ed will prevent people from earning a degree. I assume if the economic pressures on the individual and the family become greater this task would also become harder. Actual family income has fallen. Sure certain consumer items have become cheaper, but the cost of living as relating to the money people make has been rising faster than their earning power.

Here's a great article that explains a lot more about the burden a student faces in earning a college degree. I assume that most of us would agree that it'd be good to have an educated populate, more competitive and more wealth-producing. Obviously, how we allocate our resources is a matter of national priorities. I often tell my students, it's all about the ..pizza; how we share it, the compromises on the toppings, the size of the slices, and who gets access to the table!

Talking about making a better life for oneself, I found out that the best predictor of a person social & economic status is his ..parents! Very few people escape this reality. Of course, if you interview the NBA stars, they could tell you that invariably they came from very poor backgrounds, started learning the game on concrete with a worn out basketball hitting a "basket" with a crooked rim and no net. Millions of young kids in poor neighborhoods are still playing the same game and dream of someday becoming another Michael Jordan. Actually, they "know" that they will do so. Unfortunately, way less than 1% ever manage to get a chance to become an NBA player.

Americans want to give a tax benefit to the heirs of the super-rich

This leads me to the question, why so many poor & middle-class Americans consistently vote against their own economic interest. The answer is simple, but not simplistic: they vote their dreams not their economic realities! As for that "dream," it's worth reading Bill Moyers's speech last year at the Take Back America conference where he cites numbers, personal observations, and actual experiences of real people. Here's a short excerpt for you to ponder:

..And the outlook is for more of the same. On the eve of George W. Bush's second inauguration The Economist - not exactly a Marxist rag - produced a sobering analysis of what is happening to the old notion that any American can get to the top. With income inequality not seen since the first Gilded Age (and this is The Economist editors speaking, not me) - with "an education system increasingly stratified with fewer resources than those of their richer contemporaries" and great universities "increasingly reinforcing rather than reducing these educational inequalities" - with corporate employees finding it "harder...to start at the bottom and rise up the company hierarchy by dint of hard work and self-improvement" - "with the yawning gap between incomes at the top and bottom" - the editors of The Economist - all friends of business and advocates of capitalism and free markets -- concluded that "The United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society."

Puting higher education out of reach isn't a good thing for most Americans. It isn't a good thing for the long-term health of our country. I'd be the first one to admit that a higher ed degree should not be just a means to a better job, though economic success is a worthwhile goal. But I believe going through college should be an opportunity to further one's horizons, open his eyes to a greater world out there, acquire critical skills and a sharp inquisitive mind. This is progress! We should all be progressives, change things for the better--and, gosh, we need to improve a myriad of things to make a positive difference in the lives of our people. When it really matters, here & now.

PS1>Did I make this a political issue by referring to progressive values?
PS2>Fellow blogger Tuli has an interesting post which includes New York Times columnist Bob Herbert's essay, "Working for a Pittance". It's a great read.