Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pomposity strikes a McCain supporter.

Tonight I had a wonderful experience with a woman from Arizona. We'll call her "Barb".

Barb represents John McCain's worst advertisement for his campaign.

Barb's opinions and behavior represented some of the worst pomposity I've ever witnessed.

Barb was one of those older ladies who married a well-to-do German husband. Barb doesn't work (except her mouth...). She devotes much of her energy to edifying everyone with what they need to do and how to live their lives. She interrupts when others speak to give her opinion.

When Barb doesn't tell everyone the way of the world, she notes how she visits Europe twice a year (on her husband's dime, of course). When not bragging about how good she has it, she talks about her son and how he spends a lot of time in Greece sailing with his wife. Blah, blah, blah.

Really, this woman was quite insufferable.

Normally, I keep quiet around this type of stuff. I think it best to allow people's pomposity to speak for itself.

I kept my mouth shut throughout dinner, that is, until Barb began telling me that I needed to have a 401k and that it was practically immoral for me to not have health insurance.

At that point, I felt it my duty to instruct Barb that she was in no position to spew platitudes at me when she apparently had no idea what she was talking about. I told her she was full of crap when she stated that the medical profession was be driven out of business by malpractice lawsuits (It's not. cf., a previous post).

Suffice it to say, I shut the table up when I chose to "school" Barb.

Instead of letting me have the last word, Barb thanked us young people for paying her social security. I was shocked that Barb, with all her wealth, has the gall to draw social security.

Barb is the kind of McCain supporter that gives weight to the old saying, "The worst advertisement for McCain is his supporters."

Science teacher scolded for pushing religion to the point of physcial punishment.

This is why we don't want "creation science" or creationism taught in science classrooms.

It not only confuses students, but it opens the door for religious whack jobs to impose their beliefs on students. That's wrong plain and simple.

I attended private school and my high school biology teacher was a staunch baptist. Not once during my high school education was evolution mentioned, except to deride it as morally wrong.

When I got to college, my high school science education served as a handicap. I struggled with reconciling what I learned in high school with what the world at large deemed scientific truth.

Finally, science won out and I went full bore into evolutionary studies.

So, the result of attempting to "hide the truth" from me had the opposite effect to what my biology teacher wanted. I left the church and became one of those damned "secular humanists."

The teacher in the CNN story is just my high school biology teacher all over again, except this time he'll probably get nailed for advocating a religion instead of actually teaching science like he was hired to do.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mugabe...probably in need of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

I've mentioned in a previous post that Mugabe was nothing less than an asshole.

RealClearPolitics has a story about his lack of class.

If there is anyone in the world that should give the United States the moral authority to kick his ass, it's Mugabe.

Why don't we hear the president talking about taking out Mugabe? Probably because there's no oil or anything of economic value.

Hold the phone! I thought human life was worth more than oil or things?

Well, that's the open little secret that undercuts any moral authority the president may have.

I, for one, am opposed to killing people, but I may be willing to make an exception for Mugabe. If anyone is in need of killing, Mugabe is on the short list.

Mugabe and his reign highlight the tragedy of despotism.

Veto threat shows White House disfavors strong families

This story angers me. The U.S. is one of the few industrialized nations that doesn't provide paid parental leave to its workers.

Now, the White House is threatening a veto to a bill that would provide four weeks of paid leave to federal workers.

The U.S. has financed its success over the last thirty or so years with losses in family time and quality vacation time. Such a situation is not conducive to strong families nor is it healthy for the individual worker.

How can the White House decry a bill that is designed to strengthen families and improve the quality of life of Americans?

I'll tell you: They are advocating on behalf of their corporate constituency who cannot compete without engaging in somewhat exploitative labor practices suborned by Dickensian labor laws.

It's time for the U.S. to treat its workers with some dignity and respect. Let's demand required vacation time and parental leave time. These things will strengthen our families and improve our lives beyond the bottom line of the corporate bottom line.

Cindy McCain is showing class--Tennessee GOP is not

Cindy McCain is showing class in this report by CNN.

I wholeheartedly agree that the family of a candidate is off limits in a campaign.

Candidates are fair game, but leave the family out of it.

Unfortunately, the Tennessee GOP has their collective heads up their asses. What do they expect to accomplish? All they've done is show how stupid they are, but then again we already knew that after their Martin Luther King fiasco awhile back.

This is politics people. It's not life and death. We can have a good campaign without feeling some sense of moral outrage that drives us to target everyone and anyone associated with a candidate.

Go Cindy.

Sarcasm linked to higher survival--Really?

Live Science reports on a study that links sarcasm to higher survival rates.

No shit?

Democrats still blink for Bush

I posted an entry yesterday about the spinelessness of our elected officials.

Well, here's a prime example of that cowardice.

I agree with Russell Feingold: This immunity bill is nothing but a capitulation.

How can Congress acquiesce to such a bill when there's a lame duck president that's one of the most unpopular in the history of our country?

All they had to do was refuse to budge for awhile.

The Democrats have one failing above all others--they blink.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cancer cure likely found, but is costly and Pharma doesn't profit.

A friend of mine sent me this article from Telegraph in Britain.

It's rather exciting news if it can be replicated. If it can be, then we may have a good cure for skin cancer.

Downside: There is no miracle drug involved, so how do we build in an economic incentive for this country's pharmaceutical industry?

If we don't let someone profit off it, then we obviously don't need or deserve a cure for cancer....right?

McCain looking hypocritical on the G.I. Bill. Someone please call him out.

I have been puzzled by John McCain's opposition to the new G.I. Bill.

John McCain postures himself a military man and a friend of soldiers everywhere. He did serve our country and no one will deny him the honors he deserves for that, but why is he opposed to Jim Webb's bill?

This is a little cynical, but I think McCain is being true to his conservative bosses. In fact, I came across an editorial from the Minneapolis Star Tribune that pretty much sums it up.

I think that deep down, those who gain the advantages of society fall into two camps: 1) Those that feel threatened when others try to reach for the same heights they've achieved. 2) Those that want to help others achieve the heights they've reached.

Which camp does McCain fall into? Like all conservatives, he falls into the former camp. He's afraid that improving the lives of our soldiers through educational benefits might actually harm his constituency. God forbid we have a level playing field.

I read the Bill and there is nothing unusual about it.

McCain's argument falls flat on its face when you look at its logic: Less benefits equals higher retention.


If I remember my high school economics, people gravitate to where the benefits are, not away from them.

Just my two cents.

Bush and his oil buddies need a new song.

The president and his cronies will use any excuse to help out their oil buddies.

They've been arguing that gas prices will be eased if we only allow the poor old oil companies to drill in ANWAR and to drill off the coast.

Time tells quite a different story. Apparently, this is a bunch of lies.

Why can't they (meaning the President and his gang) come up with something novel?

Drilling will NOT ease fuel prices for decades to come. Even then, unless they find significant oil reserves, it won't help. Experts think the oil available is not enough to stave off a shortage considering the rate of current and projected consumption.

We have to explore alternative technologies. We cannot sustain our present course.

Belief in autism-vaccine link hangs on because it fills an emotional need.

Live Science has a story about vaccine hysteria. Specifically, it speaks of the now refuted link between childhood vaccines and autism.

No one wants to tell a parent of an autistic child that the cause is unknown.

People, are always seeking certainty and in the absence of an explanation, they will find one and place all their faith in it being correct--regardless of whether its true of not.

This whole mess underscores for me the need to teach science. Real science advocates the provisionality of our knowledge. Science also teaches that we don't have all the answers.

Unfortunately, a parent with an autistic child doesn't want to hear that. They want an explanation. They also want an explanation that lets them off the hook somehow.

The vaccine-autism explanation does both, even though it's incorrect.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bush: Accountable only if Congress & Senate have the spines to do their freakin' jobs

Here's a lovely piece that says what I've been advocating for years now: Bush is ultimately responsible for the torture that occurred on his watch.

Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo were officially blamed on the lowest guys on the totem pole. Why? Because they are the least likely to put up a fight, or at minimum the least likely to fight back well. And, they have the least amount of information to mount a successful defense with, so it's easier to scape-goat them.

Congress and Senate showed their incomeptence right along with the Bush adminstration when both houses neglected their obligation of oversight and powers of impeachment.

Bush and Cheney were both guilty of impeachable offenses, but they got a pass because of the chicken shits in both houses.

No one can accuse our fine elected officials of having spines. I think that's part of the job description: "Check Spines upon election..." What a bunch of craven, ass-covering, jerk-wads!

No one can accuse Bush of being ignorant of the machinations. Even if he was ignorant, that's no excuse. The President is not above the law and as we, in the legal profession, are fond of saying: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. The law was broken and he's on the hook for it--plain and simple.

In this instance, ignorance of fact is no excuse because the buck stops at the president's desk. Until he's held accountable for the mess he's made, then the U.S. will not heal.

New theory on why homosexuality is reproductively the family

Live Science presents a study that purports to show why homosexuality has not gone extinct.

The theory is that the genes responsible for homosexuality in men are actually reproductively antagonistic. These same genes, in the female members of the family, increase fecundity.

I think this is a good start. How can a set of genes that discourage reproduction stick around? This theory explains it to a degree.

Coffee drinking linked to longevity

Coffee, it seems, is good for you. Although no causative effect is reported, a strong correlation between coffee consumption and longevity has been found.

Science Daily reports on the study.

Over the years, I've noticed that scientists seem to find results that support the continuation of life's certain little pleasures.

Chocolate is good for you now. Wine and beer are good for you in moderation. Coffee is good for you in moderation, etc.

Apparently, Aristotle was correct when he said: "Moderation is all things." You know the "golden mean"?

I say this as I drink my Starbucks French Roast coffee.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

George Will hedging his bets by criticizing McCain

George Will writes an auspicious article in the Washington Post about John McCain.

Will points out McCain's hyposrisy on the Gitmo stuff.

What makes this auspicious for me is that Will rarely, if ever, endorses a candidate. He does hammer less on those he is more aligned with.

The fact that he's coming out early in opposition (if it can be called that) to McCain, tells me that Will sees the writing on the wall, viz., Obama will win.

Will is one of those intellectuals who doesn't like to show his cards, even though everyone knows where he stands. It's a grand dance he performs.

He's only hedging his bets with this article to maintain some semblance of gravitas for the coming change.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pharmacists' dogma trumps doctors' medical training and patients' needs at certain pharmacies.

The Washington Post has a troubling story about some Drug Stores increasingly imposing their beliefs on women.

I will be the first to defend a person's right to believe what they wish. But, and this is a very big "but", I draw the line when those beliefs run up against another's rights.

I advocate the utilitarian argument for rights, specifically: "The right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins."

Don't know who said it, but I think it spot on in this instance.

Let me give you an example from the legal profession: If I happen to be in the court room when the judge decides to appoint me to represent a murderer, I can't just refuse to take the case because I'm morally opposed to murder. I took an oath to uphold the law and to do that requires I insure all accused receive a fair trial.

Similarly, pharmacists who substitute their "beliefs" for the medical decisions of a doctor are violating their lawful duty. Likewise, when a pharmacist imposes their "beliefs" on a woman in need of medical help, then the pharmacist has violated their duty.

I suppose my point is this: If someone doesn't want to dispense drugs that they believe could result in an abortion or prevent a pregnancy, then perhaps they shouldn't be in the profession that is legally charged with dispensing those items in the first place.

Welcome to the stupidity of right wing ideology folks.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Conservative justices are following ideology to the detriment of the U.S.

The Supreme Court's ruling on detainee habeas corpus rights highlights what I've suspected for a time.

The conservative justices, (Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts) are dangerously close to overturning Marbury v. Madison.

Their views, although stated as originalist, seem to strike at the heart of judicial review. Judicial review has been established law for almost 200 years.

When justices seek to subordinate judicial power to the other branches, they are abdicating the doctrines established by the founders. Specifically, they are undermining separation of powers.

We can call the conservative justices great jurists or brilliant legal minds, but to ignore the result of their ideology is to see the United States returning to a powerful Executive Branch and a strong but dispersed legislative power. All without some check on those branches.

What concerns me the most is that the Executive and Legislative branches are most susceptible to financial pressure from outside the government.