Feb 29, 2012

Slavery By Another Name is Unknown History

People want to believe in something. What makes them feel better is preferred to that that makes them uncomfortable, so sometimes reality is not preferable. 

As Black History Month draws to a close, I wanted to help promote this program, aired on PBS recently. It's painful to think that these conditions existed in our country not so long ago, as recently as in 1950s, and it's a history that many Americans don't know or want to know about.

If one is to understand politics in the US since the colonial times, the issue of race and slavery is of fundamental importance. Even since WW2, elections, the law, and the trajectory of the political parties, all have been influenced by this reality. The Democratic Party used to be the party of slavery and segregation until the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s when it traded place with the Republican Party. The latter, through its Southern strategy made the South a fortress and a solid base for electoral victories. 

This, however, has been changing, as Obama proved that a Democrat who's not from the South can win. Furthermore, the Southern states aren't as "red" as they used to be, like North Carolina, northern Virginia, etc. With other western states turning into swingers, the road to the White House doesn't have to go via the South at all nowadays.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party is beholden to a shrinking base that is also out of the mainstream America. Add to this the activism of another extreme element--the Tea parties and even the libertarians--and you have a recipe for disaster. Did I mention immigration and how Hispanics have been trending Democratic?...

Again, the PBS program, Slavery By Another Name, is worth a watch. In the video above there's the promo of this program, plus earlier discussions with Bill Moyers and the author of the book upon which the PBS program was based. 

Feb 23, 2012

The Theater of the Absurd Keeps Performing, and Amazingly Attracting Audience!

The last GOP debate before "super Tuesday" took place yesterday with hyperbole and hubris at center stage.  I liked the audience booing too. This theater of the absurdity is beyond critical evaluation; it's entertainment of the lowest (and we know how low this is) common denominator in Republican politics today.

Here's a better, funnier, cleverer clip of Jon Stewart. Enjoy! Don't even think why so many Americans actually believe the crap the conservatives have been dishing out, because you'll probably weep.

Feb 12, 2012

Darwin's Day Means a Celebration of Science

Charles Darwin was born 203 years ago, on February 12th, and 50 years later he published the ground-breaking theory of evolution. [Here's a great BBC documentary on Darwin's Tree of Life with David Attenborough]

When I was little I couldn't understand the concept of billions of years. I looked at those over 30 and thought they were too old! It was the time I believed in Santa Claus and in superheroes with fantastical supernatural powers. Then I slowly began to learn all sorts of wonderful stuff about history, science, and critical thinking. Eventually I was exposed to the theory of evolution. Eventually this led  me to ask one of my teachers when the soul entered the human body in this long chain of changing forms--from the very primitive to modern humans--a question I've asked anyone who tries to reconcile evolution with creationism; I haven't gotten a satisfactory answer.

The teachings of religion used to be the source to explain everything. Science has replaced this, at least, for those who have answered the question, which knowledge is more reliable? There are gaps or unknowns, but a scientific method is the best tool we have to discover and understand the world around us. It's a matter of self-confidence to accept notions like, I don't know, and, it remains to be seen, rather than opting for a "sure thing" that's based on irrational conjecture at best.

It's amazing that it took so long for humans to come up with a rather obvious theory of adaptation, survival, and changing forms in response to environmental conditions. Since the domestication of animals and plants, our ancestors could see evolution taking place in their lifetimes, yet, they stuck with the religious notions that everything was designed in its present form! 

These remnants of thought-inhibitors are still erecting obstacles to progress today. How else can you explain the current debate about contraception? The bishops say contraception is bad, because they figured out that what the maker of the universe wants, so they're part of the debate and given political considerations! Oyvey.

I tip my proverbial hat to Charles Darwin for having the courage (to go against his family and the prevailing social views) and the intellectual fortitude to formulate such an important scientific theory--by observation, testing, factual investigation, reasoning--and advance important knowledge for humanity.

Science depends on people who understand its importance and on people who value it so they're willing to support such an endeavor. I'm saddened though that we have not succeeded in teaching the most important thing science is to every person in the US, and indeed the world: skepticism, rational thinking, and inquiry.

Feb 10, 2012

Controversy over contraception. There they go again: "Sex for Pleasure isn't Good". Surely they're fucking with us!

WARNING: If you're offended by sex, vulgarity, by a rational argument against nuttery, or, if you don't want to think about sex, sexual innuedo and sexual intercourse, and why people have sex for fun, (I know, it's too late now not to think about those things) DO NOT read the following post.... So, you are forewarned. And, by the way DO NOT look at the picture below).


An appropriate solution to those who oppose contraception?

Persons who have the least experience in (good, mature) sex tell us that sex isn't good for us!  Many of the strongest advocates of this nuttery are some clergy who looked the other way (or, shielded the many perverts who were raping children). Not to be remiss, a bunch of conservative religious pricks in the US stick their heads in our private affairs-- instead of sticking their heads in the usual place, you know,whether the sun doesn't shine.

No fucking for pleasure they argue, because, god-knows where this may lead.... Or, is it using contraception the main problem? Maybe that's why those rapists in the church overwhelmingly chose to molest--you know, orally and anally--children of the faithful. Ergo, no need for contraception there. Why not sex for pleasure, you ask? Because if it's for pleasure, then what happens to the religious view of the perverse human nature? And, bodily pleasures [this should include food, sports, movies, art, and all mental/emotional rewards] take away from worshiping our imaginary tormentor. This is the purpose in life, isn't it?...

Did you notice that God didn't do anything about it while this was taking place in his house of worship. Not one of those sodomites was struck dead. Maybe god is OK with it. Or, maybe he doesn't really care what the fuck we humans do down here. It's up to us to decide what's good or bad! It's up to us to think whether it makes sense to use contraceptives to plan family size and for women's health. It's up to us to rationally think and act without some false divine and private revelation, and without the perverse interpretation of some inane passage in the book god allegedly wrote.

It's, therefore, up to us to fuck however we want, among consenting adults, and have fun while doing it. Those who dislike sex do not have to have it. Or, they do not have to use contraceptives. But, most importantly, they should stay the fuck out of our way.

Poorly designed church mural
UPDATE: I'm not claiming popular wisdom as being always right, but when it comes to personal choices, and what the insurance companies, health providers should do, it's a clear majority of Americans who believe contraception/family planning should be provided to employees. Those organizations who extend their domain into health care, insurance, etc, should be required to provide for such services as deemed appropriate in a modern society.

It has nothing with religious freedom. They're free to worship and believe in any god and in Divine revelation. Can you imagine, say the Mormon Church, arguing that it would not have to pay for goods and services if such were rendered by a black person? Oh, it was the Mormon dogma (until 1979) that blacks were inferior. OK. That's what that church believed; it was its right not to admit blacks or other minority. That's freedom of religion.

  • 73 percent of Democrats agree that employers should be required to offer health plans that cover contraception at no cost.
  • 65 percent of millenials agree that employers should be required to offer health plans that cover contraception at no cost.
  • 62 percent of women agree that employers should be required to offer health plans that cover contraception at no cost.
  • 58 percent of Catholics agree that employers should be required to offer health plans that cover contraception at no cost.
  • 57 percent of all voters agree “that women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women.”
  • 55 percent of ALL Americans agree that employers should be required to offer health plans that cover contraception at no cost.
  • 53 percent of Catholic voters agree“that women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women.”
Those who want to deny health services on moral grounds should get out of that business. Imagine a doctor who has a religious belief that would prevent him from treating a particular injury when you're rushed to the ER?  Preposterous. I know. We have to let them  know too.
I'm not usually this vulgar as when I wrote this post, but I resent being told about morality from those who have no shame and have no hesitation in wanting to force others to follow their perverted ways!

Feb 5, 2012

Newt Gingrich is A Big Fat Idiot... and, a Socialist Revolutionary!

As of now, it seems that the Republicans are still not convinced about Romney, but they may prove me wrong and pick him as the eventual nominee. I had argued that the former Massachusetts governor would not appeal to the majority of the very conservative, religious activist base. Well, he still isn't all that popular, since the majority of primary/caucus participants have voted for someone else. If you remove his supposed "electability" then his core support falls below Ron Paul's! The latter is a marginal candidate who doesn't have any chance of success.

There's a scenario whereas Grinch further implodes and Santorum becomes the one to capture all the anti-Romney conservative votes. This scenario will be tested when the race moves to the Midwest. In 2008, the Dems went through a similar phase, pitting the favorite, Hilary Clinton, and the rest. Once Obama became the only one standing he became also stronger as he captured the anti-Clinton votes.  However, there's a huge difference between those contests in the Dem race and today in the GOP race. The Dems had proportional allocation of delegates, whereas the loser(s) still got something out of a state contest.

The winner-takes-all system, many state Republican parties have, gives a huge amount to the candidate who crosses the line first. There's no majority principle here, just a plurality one. Romney is polling ahead of Newt right now and that may just be enough.  I assumed that the GOP would come up with a strong traditional conservative in which case Mittens would lose despite his organization and tons of money. Well, we've seen that the party wanted this to happen. Any announced candidate, an "anti-Romney"  candidate who appeared remotely competitive had his/her poll numbers spike well above Romney's initially. Every single one of them--Bachmann, Santorum, Grinch, Caine, Perry, Paul--were beating Romney at some point before the process began and even afterward. This is significant, because Mittens was a well-known candidate as the second runner up 4 years ago. The GOP usually selects "the next in line" to hold its flag. Yearning for the anti-Romney may just remain an unfulfilled urge in conservative politics.

All the non-Romney candidates self-imploded for various reasons. This field is looney because the Republican base that's active in the selection process has lots of loons--people who are way out of the country's mainstream.

Newt Gingrich is a Big Fat Idiot

If he can slander others by misrepresenting the truth, promote ignorance, and employ the politics of fear, I think I can safely use the big fat idiot term to describe his "intellectual" abyss. Actually I had (I still do) endorsed Grinch for the GOP nomination!  Why, you ask?

It's time that this Republican party becomes a modern, rational, pragmatic party--as much a conservative party is able, and we all know the limitations of this. With Grinch as the one holding the party banner, the GOP would suffer major defeats. Through this experience, perhaps, some reasonable Republicans would try to wrest control from the loons and turn the party around from heading back to the Dark Ages. Maybe after serious defeats, the GOP would realize that what it represents today, what its leaders pronounce, what the stated policy is,  it has left mainstream America.

I have frequent discussions with Republicans and I ask them if they think whether the core principles beliefs and public policy of this GOP reflect the majority of Americans...  And, if not so, whether the country is moving toward or away from those... I think the answer is clear. Any reasonable Republican (endangered species) know it.

It's time we had this discussion. Let's hope that Obama can point out the gap between the GOP and the public. Leadership matters, especially when people take things on faith or they look to leadership for clues. Most of the public, especially the conservatives don't know what social democracy is, yet they hate anything about it because they're told so by their leaders. Who the hell knows or has heard the name Alinski ?! But, Grinch tells his followers to hate Alinski and his "radicalism."  They're supposed to love Ronnie, though if he was alive today and insisted upon some of his policies, he would find himself outside this GOP!

 The president has the loudest megaphone, so let's hope he uses it not only for re-election but also for destroys the politics of fear, prejudice, and ignorance.  You know, like FDR did. Is this too much to ask from the president nowadays?...