politics


If you don’t want to see changes to the healthcare system in this country, then there are two things that I can say with reasonable certainty:

1. You, your family, and those you care most about have good healthcare insurance

2. You don’t know (or simply don’t care) that millions of children don’t have healthcare insurance, thousands of Americans die every year due to a lack of healthcare insurance, the sickest often can’t get insurance due to pre-existing conditions (even after paying into the system for years), and that costs are skyrocketing.

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If you’re concerned about the dwindling populations of animals such as bears, rhinos, tigers, turtles, and sharks, consider the effects of using ‘Natural’ and ‘Alternative’ Medicines before you go spend your money on them.  Hundreds of species of plants are on the verge of extinction as well due to pre-scientific ideas about physiology, disease, and healing.

In many cases, the purported uses of the herbs and animal components have not been clinically verified.  In most cases, they have been shown ineffective or there is no plausibility of effectiveness.  When there has been a clinical effect, the active ingredient is typically isolated and synthesized.  Despite these facts, the consumption of natural resources for no reason continues, and does so at an alarming rate.

Got a few minutes?  Listen to Dr. Mark Crislip’s scathing review of the effects of TCM and other (S)CAM modalities on the environment: http://www.quackcast.com/spodcasts/files/archive-12-april-2009.html

Every year in America, the Holiday Season is fraught with Separation of Church and State battles across our great land as secular and civil rights groups challenge public displays of religion such as nativity scenes on government property.  This year, a different battle is being waged on the airwaves and in the press regarding a display at the Washington State Capitial.  The Freedom From Religion Foundation got permission to display a placard next to a nativity scene and holiday tree.  This blog post is not about that, per se, but rather about a statement made by everybody’s favorite right wing pronosticator, Bill O’Reilly.   One of his recent rants included a statement that our “country was founded on Judeo-Christian traditions”.

My first thought was: “Really Bill?  Really?  Judeo-Christian traditions like slavery?”  Both the Old and New Testaments sanction slavery and we all know that it was certainly a tradition supported by the Founding Fathers.

After that, I wondered just how many Judeo traditions the founding fathers practiced.  I don’t remember reading that Thomas Jefferson observed the Sabbath or that George Washington stopped campaigning in the war during Yom Kippur.  Christian traditions, sure, but not Judeo-Christian traditions.

So where did this concept of Judeo-Christian tradition come from?  According to Wikipedia, the term Judeo-Christian didn’t even exist in the language until the late 19th century.  In the 1920’s and 30’s, civil rights groups were using the term to battle antisemitism by people who believed that the US was a Protistant country.  It wasn’t until much later in the latter part of the 20th century that the term became widely used in the way that Billo is using it now.

As an aside, I find it interesting that as time went on, the hardline conservatives went from being antisemitic to eventually bringing the Jews into the fold, so to speak.  I guess in their eyes, they share a belief in the Old Testament despite centuries of hatred and persecution.  “Sure, they don’t believe in Jeeesus, but they like that Yahweh dude, so maybe they’ll come around.  At least they’re not tools of Satan, like atheists and homosexuals.” Is that how it works?

But back to the main point, Billo’s assertion that the country was founded on Judeo-Christian traditions is absolutely false.  An argument can be made that it followed Christian traditions, though most schollars agree that the founding fathers favored secular government.

So it would seem that in Billo’s world, it’s not politically correct to claim that the US is a Christian country founded on Christian traditions such as Christmas alone.  (We have to include our brother Jews now and accept their traditions, right Bill?)  But there is NO place for anyone else to sit at the holiday table.  Secularists and atheists are certainly not welcome.  He made a point of dissing Muslims.  (No surprise there.)  He didn’t mention Buddhists or Hindus, but I think it’s safe to say that unless they’re willing to say “Merry Christmas” and participate in grace, then they wouldn’t be welcome either.

Happy Holidays everyone and count me in on the feast, just don’t ask me to say grace…

Recently I was watching a clip from a McCain interview.  I’m not sure but it might have been from The View.  In any case, when asked about issues related to Separation of Church and State, he resorted to an old argument about how the founding fathers based the Constitution on Christian values, and specifically mentioned how “In God We Trust” (IGWT) is on the currency.

I’ll save the topic about the founding fathers motivations for another time.  There is good evidence to suggest that Jefferson in particular favored a secular state, but let’s just talk about the US Currency.

Many people cite the IGWT motto and attribute it to the founding fathers.  The FACTS are that the first instance of IGWT being on currency was in 1864 on a two cent coin.  According to the Wikipedia entry, this was in response to growing religious sentiment after the US Civil War.  IGWT first appeared on paper money in 1957.

In 1956, Congress adopted the phrase as the official motto of the United States as a Cold War measure: measure: “In these days when imperialistic and materialistic Communism seeks to attack and destroy freedom, it is proper” to “remind all of us of this self-evident truth” that “as long as this country trusts in God, it will prevail.” (see Wikipedia reference [7])

So next time you hear someone making the IGWT falicy, feel free to correct them.  It’s not a matter of opinion.  It’s simply a matter of historical facts.

McCain and Obama were at the Alfred E. Smith fundraiser last night and each took some good-natured shots at each other and them selves.  It’s nice to get some humor in this tough election and especially good to see that these guys really are human beings and are capable of laughing at themselves.

Of course, the intertube is filled today with people saying how ‘their guy’ was funnier than the other.  Can’t we just let up on the bashing for a few minutes and enjoy the fact that these guys are real people too?

Neurologist Robert Burton just released a book entitled On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not which promotes a neurological reason behind our stubbornness.  I haven’t read it but it sounds like a very interesting subject.  He discusses it in an interview at SciAm.com.

The interview discusses a bit of his take on why it happens and examples, specifically the bias towards political candidates.

Are you a rabid supporter of a candidate and believe everything he/she says?  Do you have a ‘gut feeling’ that one is telling the truth or a suspicion that one is lying?  Dr. Burton would say that those feelings are neurological and have evolved as part of the brain’s reward system and it’s ability to avoid ambiguity.  He hopes that by explaining how the brain works to people, it will help them to understand why feelings of certainty exist and how to look beyond them to the facts.

Personally, I think that most people don’t so much care about why they think the way they do.  Most aren’t in the least bit curious why they think ‘everyone else is wrong’.  In my opinion, most would reject these ideas just as they do any others that do not support their assumptions, beliefs, faith, politics, and other ideologies.  Am I certain about this?  I suppose that I am.

Not much to say.  Both candidates held their own and avoided the mistakes their supporters feared.  Alas, no train wreck, BUT

As is often case in debates, numerous statements are made that are incorrect.  Why let a few facts get in the way of good rhetoric, right?  If you’re interested in the mistakes, check to see how your pick did here: factcheck.org

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