Aug 27, 2012

The Clash Between Science & Religion has Great Implications for the Quality of Our Lives

Humanity has been making technological, cultural and all sorts of other progress for millennia, but around the 18th century, with the culmination of the Englightenment and modern science leading the way, we've made huge leaps forward compared to the past.

In the last 100 years alone, we've doubled the average life expectancy. Our knowledge increased tremedously and with the improvement in the quality of life and education humanity changed the ways it organizes the society.  Progress, however, hasn't been linear, nor at steady pace, so the question is Why?

Good change, innovation, new ideas may occur whenever, as they were normally in the past, but the conditions/environment plays a great role. Who are more likely to produce technological advances? Who are more likely to be progressive or conservative? What are the obstacles to progress? Here are some:
  • ignorance (includes lack of education)
  • poverty
  • prejudice
  • religion

Why is it that a woman in an advanced liberal democracy fares so much better than the worst place in the world to be a woman, in Afghanistan? [beheadings for showing ..ancle]. Yes, the conditions are different, obviously, but the conditions within people's minds is what counts the most in the outcome!

Science versus religion

Where do the Taliban, the Ayatollahs, the suicide bombers, and the everywhere zealots who believe they must make all of us follow their lunacy get their ideas from? Do I need to give you the answer?... 

No, you can't say every group has its crazies. This may be true, but it's the doctrine of "we know the mind of god and you must oblige too under the penalty of death"... that is the root of evil. It's teaching the children and the gallible adults not to think, not to question, no to offer skepticism, not to know, because everything there's is to know is has been given to us by the Almighty.

In a safe, open & tolerant, and well-to-do society it's easier for people to be more relaxed, have the confidence, and the education to be able to evaluate and accept progressive change.

Why do people believe what they believe? Much is through repetition, culture, and religion. It would be much more ..natural to have the wrong ideas in an environment of ignorance where good information is hard to come by or is prohibited by the regime. But, why do people in the US reject evolution in favor of creation or so-called intelligent design? Why do they believe that a fertilized egg is a human being entitled to full rights as a born person? Why don't they know, for example, that most fertilized eggs don't make it to the uterus. Does this make couples who are trying to conceive ..serial killers?

Why do such people and their political leaderss have the regressive views of women and advocate policies that favor a xtian sharia law on American women? It's amazing that a major political party in the US spreads so much ignorance, superstition and fights against education, civil rights, egalitarian society, and the scientific method.

It's religious ideas that dictate people believe all sorts of stupid stuff. It's religion that makes a person believe and do anything! It's this virus of the mind that in transmitted openly, with the encouragement of the state, and it's considered a virtue to shun reason, empiricism, and skepticism. And, it has a "fail safe" mechanism: if challenged, it must be the devil who wants to destroy you!

Bill Nye (the science guy) has a good argument in that creationism is not good for children! I'd say infecting youngminds with a virus is a form of child abuse. At least, if an adult wants to be wilfully infected so be it.

Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon because of the scientific method and the the US's interest in beating the Soviets in the space, and weapons race. We have a strange situation here in the US regarding science. We have a long luminous history of research and scientific breakthroughs, and many brilliant minds emigrating to the US to pursue such, but at the same time we have an incredible high level of scientific illiteracy among our people. 

The space exploration, for example, was made possible because of public education, public funds for R & D, NASA, etc. This must continue. Military calculations, wars, and national security concerns made leaders spend on R&D,  but how do we convince the non-scientificly inclided public that science is the best tool we've got to materially improve our lives?  The Cold War is over, there are huge budget deficits while a presidential candidate and his party want to make our society poorer, brutish, fearful, and ignorant. 

We have to ask, who benefits from people being ignorant, fearful (real and imagined threats), and prejudiced?  In a democracy, the people vote and the public sentiment has to be taken into account. However, we seem to indulge ourselves more on trivia than substance, and superfluous impressions than understanding of the issues. 

I just saw a poll that shows too many voters are seriously considering Romney instead of sending him and the GOP into one of the worst defeats (in hopes of shedding the lunacy) ever. The people who smashed the car and are still advocating the same insane driving practice may be given the keys to the car again this November! Amazing! Actually, it's stupefying.

This blog has been criticizing this president for governing like a wuss but we can't expect him to deliver a spiffy, fast, unblemished, like-new vehicle in such a short time, especially when he has to get Congress to agree to buy the parts needed for repairs.

Other than that Mrs Lincoln how did you like the play?....

Aug 25, 2012

Robert Reich Explains the Bad Economics & Priorities of the Romney-Ryan Ticket

I received this video from with my favorite Robert Reich explaining the five reasons the Romney-Ryan plan would further damage the middle class and worsen the US economy. 

My response with five reasons:
  1. My friends believe they know everything so this video isn't necessary.
  2. You wrongly assume that most people are motivated by reason, inquiry, evidence, and are willing to change their minds. Most people seek to confirm their biases.
  3. Isn't Move On part of the liberal media? That fella seemed like he knew what he was talking about until the end.... if he works for Move On then he's biased. I want ..both sides. One the Earth is flat and the other it’s round. The truth maybe is in the middle…
  4. Conservatives won't vote for Romney because they care or know much about Ryan; they'll vote against the black Muslim Kenyan and the unpatriotic Dems. USA # 1
  5. The 5 ways R & R's plan would destroy the middle class can be interpreted that the people in the MC will move up to the rich class! We don't need a MC. I guess the poor will always be screwed, but we all know it's their fault

Seriously, there are very few people who will be moved by reason this election. Most of us already know how we'll vote. The people who will swing one way or another are either low-information voters or true independents. The latter, however, are likely to be leaners, that is, they hold specific and rather concrete views on many issues, thus it's a matter of a campaign making connections between the candidate and those voters. This, by the way, is one strategy of a campaign. Educating the voters means making those connections not changing minds--there's no time for that.

This is another reason why the extreme positions of this Republican party should be advertised as much as possible. It's not where most people are and not where they're headed. For example, Romney-Ryan view on birth control and abortion, tax policies, the environment, health care, etc. The Akin fiasco shows the true nature of the GOP. Once the real "mind" and will of the GOP is revealed people know it's crazy.

Take a look at the speakers appearing in the GOP national convention and what they've said and what they stand for. Appalling. From questioning Obama's birth certificate to conspiracy theories of the bizarre. 

Aug 14, 2012

The Romney-Ryan Party Needs to be Defeated for its Own Sake and for the US

It is said the the choice for VP is the first major decision impacting the administration-to-be a presidential candidate makes. Well, there are political calculations, like balancing the ticket, or getting extra votes in certain states, etc. Most times, it's do-no-harm. McCain's blunder was that he was old, had several bouts with cancer (couldn't change that obviously) but he chose a totally inadequate VP in Sarah Palin--who, by the way, was recently told to stay away from the GOP convention this summer. 

To pay for whatever we decide we need to, I'm happy to be taxed at a rate twice as high as Romney! It's fair, no?... Ryan thinks so!
Anyway, a tea party congressman from Wisconsin, Paul Ryan, was chosen by Romney. This made conservatives (not the moderate ones) happy; it also made Dems and progressives happier. What many conservatives don't see is that their core policy platforms are not popular, nor will they be.

Those who say Romney will be a centrist--as he probably is on social issues, but not economic ones--and therefore will be a consensus president are absolutely wrong. He can't and he won't because he needs the nuts that have control of the GOP, in and outside Congress. He chose an extremist for his VP. Why wouldn't he choose the same for the Supreme Court? No, the Dems may block one nominee, but the president can nominate another equally conservative and extremist. Scalia, Alito, and Thomas are already on the high court! The Supreme Court is always on the ballot during a presidential election. [I think it's been only J. Carter who didn't appoint a justice to SCOTUS.]

Romney demonstrates that he has to cater to the conservative base. He has already changed his moderate positions from when he was governor of MA. Now he says wants to overturn a health care law he signed in MA. His new positions are more in line with those of Ryan today. I doubt there will be another flip anytime soon after (if) he takes office. Besides, he will have to run 4 years later and he won't be able to go against a party emboldened by the 2012 victory. 

Fortunately, this won't happen. I think it'll be a blowout in the Electoral College, at least. If the GOP can't win at least one of Ohio, Penn, and Florida, it won't win the presidency. Yes, Obama's win will be smaller than in 2008, but he has plenty of room this year. For Romney-Ryan to win they have to have an unbelievably straight streak, winning all the toss-up states, and reverse the trends in the three mentioned above. 

Strangely, I believe another trouncing at the polls may be the best medicine for the GOP. The tea partiers, and the extremists need to be cut loose and lose big while they're controlling the agenda of the party. Yes, there are distinct visions for the future, policies, and approach to politics that have turned this GOP into a regressive party unfit for a modern country. Just look at the British or other modern conservative parties today. We progressives may not agree with them on many issues, but at least they are far more pragmatic! They accept science and the scientific way for goodness sake!

Aug 9, 2012

Summer Politics Worth of Staycation Laze [with an update!]

 Update, 8/11. What Delightful News!

Two days after I posted (below), Romney announced his VP pick, Paul Ryan! This is an unforced error by him. Perhaps it isn't in the order of Mac's Sarah Palin four years ago, but I think this will make it easier for the Dems to draw the distinction between sanity and the extremist elements in the GOP.

Ryan has drawn up a budget that gives tax breaks to the super-rich while cutting essential services to the poor & middle class. Every time the public is made aware of the Ryan plan's priorities it is greatly opposed, even by many Republicans! This is crucial, because he's a star in the GOP. He is of the ideological camp of the tea party conservatives that seem to control the party. This camp--with their ideas, policies, and personalities--is not popular on the national level. This is not where the country is nor where it's moving into!

The principle do-no-harm in picking a VP has been violated by Mitt. He will allow (hopefully) the Dems to draw a clear distinction and bring much national attention to the Congressional leadership of the conservatives. Ryan and other tea party leaders in Congress can do crazy stuff because they come from safe districts, but their nuttery is not good for national politics. Ryan, as R's # 2 heighten this contrast and brings forth what the Congressional Repubs actually want to do--which is not popular!

I do not think the wave of 2010--which was very bad for Dems--will occur again this year. Actually, I'm betting on the opposite, thinking that once the country will settle on re-electing Obama, that Romney's negative net [I don't remember if the GOP had a candidate whose negatives were higher than his positives, ever] will persist, and that turnout will be more suppressed on the Republican side, the Dems can hold the Senate and challenge the GOP for control of the House. Yes, I think now the House is in play.

No one can safely predict electoral outcomes, but I'm willing to say that this election will be a blowout, in the Electoral College at least!  I said the same thing earlier in the summer of 2008, and repeated it while the GOP and Sarah Palin were riding high around their convention time. I argued why the country was ready to move in a new direction and that McCain was the old guard, more of the same Bush-like crap.  As for Palin, I argued she'd be a dead weight and a negative the more the public got to actually know her. I'm repeating the same argument for Ryan now.

See you later; enjoy this fast-moving summer.


Let's talk politics before this summer is over and the dynamic changes after Labor Day and the two parties' nominating conventions. So, here are a few things: the nominating show, the economy, the problem with the base of the GOP, and looking into the magic bowl while chewing coca leaves... (or, something like that).

Invite or not Sarah Palin to speak at the GOP convention?
The Repubs are having their show in a couple weeks and Romney has vowed to pick his VP before then. The first rule is do-no-harm. The VP choice rarely adds anything to the ticket but it can be a drag as Sarah Palin demonstrated. At best, in an evenly matched prez field the VP can add a slight margin in his state (if it's competitive; Alaska wasn't in 2008, which was another mistake by McCain), and may add a very few more votes in a couple other states.

Here's the problem with Romney and the GOP: They are out of the mainstream. Most of their main policy proposals--as articulated on the state level, in Congress, and their affiliated tea parties--are not in line with the vast majority of Americans. Worse, if these policies and social issues stands are further explained to the public, their approval drops even lower. Worst, is that the country is moving away from them.

Romney was/is (?) a moderate, or someone who's a businessman and cares little about the social issues that don't affect his wealthy class. Yet, he wants to be president but unfortunately for him (and many other centrist Repubs) he has to go through a very conservative activist base. So, he flips-flops. He was for gun control, same-sex rights, choice, mandated health coverage, etc. He now had to denounce those views to be viable in today's GOP. 

The Chick-fil-A gay bashing issue is indicative of Romney's impossible conundrum. He avoided taking a position (as he has on many other social issues), because he can't have it both ways--he can't alienate the American public nor he can afford to turn away his activist but very conservative base. However, that inane leader of the Catholic League Donohue--who reflects the views of may social conservatives regardless of their particular denomination--has said that they're pondering sitting this election out, because they fear is confirmed they cannot trust Romney to be a social conservative!

Elections are decided on turnout to a great extend and it doesn't look good for Romney right now. Even as a known quality, even after having a Dem prez in office, Mittens was receiving fewer votes in the competitive primaries earlier this year than 4 years ago when he was losing to Mac! One might have expected a higher mobilization wave against the "Muslim Kenyan" in the Oval Office, but it's either because Anti-Christ's hold of the executive doesn't seem as too threatening or that Obama's centrist style is acceptable to most voters. Barry Hussein seems to have a much higher "likeability" index than Mittens!

As for the economy, people are pessimistic--they've been hurting since 2008--but not quite blaming Obama for the entirety of the misery. They don't see a good alternative in Mittens either. So, I suppose O's positives will hover around 50%, good enough for reelection, barring any major disaster before November.

It's often said that Americans don't really pay attention to politics in the summer. Maybe the don't follow the details {do they other times?} but impressions still are being formed about the major candidates. Two issues that aren't going away is how R made money at Bain Capital and his tax returns. The latter creates the impression that he's out of touch, that he's hiding something by not releasing older tax records. I think this is a case of double damnation--releasing the records or not.   

Even if Harry Reid--who claimed that a former Mitt associate said R didn't pay any taxes for 10 years--is wrong, I assume that most Americans wouldn't like it that a multi-millionaire pays half the rate most of us do. Yes, it's an issue with me as well. I'm in the so-called middle class and my tax rates are twice as Romney's 12.99% of his last tax return! I don't care how he gets his income. Well, actually I work hard while he collects dividends and interest from his vast fortunes. There's something seriously wrong with this picture.

And, the Repubs want to keep the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy, which is another point the Dems must keep reminding everyone. Even billionaire Warren Buffet [clearly a ..traitor to his class] said that the rich always ask for more money so they can spend more and thus create more jobs! Obviously a ridiculous claim but one adopted by the GOP that wants to convince us the trickle down effect is rain and not the wealthy pissing on us.