I suppose it should come as no surprise to me that many people in this country continue to ignore the continental plate sized mounds of evidence for evolution when we still have this vocal minority who deny the facts of the Holocaust. After all, how hard can it be to ignore biology, geology and all those moldy old fossils when people can ignore the mounds of the dead whose stench still permeates the ground in Europe, having lived as contemporaries of many who yet live.

The latest bit of historical revisionism (the polite word for unconscionable denial) has erupted around the words of Bishop Richard Williamson, the excommunicated heretic who belongs to the Society of St. Pius X who has repeatedly denied the scope and intent of the Holocaust. I watched a tape of him talking about the 'fact' that only 200,000 - 300,000 Jews died in the camps, not through gassing or official policy of Hitler. Only 200,000-300,000... Reminded me bit of the Auschwitz commandant who allegedly who shot back at those who claimed he had overseen the murders of 5000 Jews per day. With sinister Teutonic efficiency he responded that such was pure fantasy - the rail system feeding the camps was unable to process more than a couple of thousand per day. As if that made a difference to his case.

Having visited Dachau (admitted not technically a death camp, though of little solace to the thousands who died there) and Birkenau, it's hard to believe that one could deny the Holocaust. If I live to be a thousand years old I will never forget the mounds of shoes and eye glasses. Each an echo of a victim long murdered. George Santayana's words are inscribed into a sculpture at Dachau - "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". And if we can barely remember events within our own lives, those of our parents, or those of our grandparents, what hope is there.


My Latest Scanner Moment

My head is in real danger of exploding this time. I found this little nugget on AOL this morning.

......A big share of the financial burden of raising Nadya Suleman's 14 children could fall on the shoulders of California's taxpayers, compounding the public furor in a state already billions of dollars in the red.

Meanwhile, a Nadya Suleman Family Web Site has been set up to collect donations for the children....

For anyone who has been in space being examined by aliens and somehow missed the story, this is the woman who wasn't satisfied with 6 kids so she had all of her 8 frozen embryos implanted and gave birth (of course) to 8 premature or at least extremely small infants for a grand total of 14 kids.

This case makes me wonder about a number of issues and I admit that I don't have all the facts so I'm asking.

One: Why and how did this woman get hooked up into the extremely expensive realm of fertility clinics? This stuff is extremely expensive and with 6 kids already I have to wonder about the motivation. Are these treatments covered in California? It's not usually considered basic healthcare, that's for sure. Nor should it be when we can't cover basic services such as vaccinations and basic prevention.

Two: Why did the clinic implant them? I know that this is being investigated but I can't for the life of me understand how a doc could do this. Yes I know Mengele was a doc, but I am still shocked when one of my own profession does something like this. Yes, I know that she wanted it done, but a doc is supposed to be the professional with more sense.

Three: Do people have any clue as to the dangers and long term consequences of premature births, which of course would be an expectation with a brood of this size.

Four: Why the rest of us continue to facilitate and pay for the extreme narcissism of others. I don't know what the alternative is but every day seems to bring a more outrageous example of someone else's march to a different drummer costing the rest of us a lot of cash we don't have.

Perhaps I am being too hard on the poor lady, though I have my doubts. If any of you can make sense of this I'd love to hear it. GUT save us all in the meantime.


AWK! Socialism sucks AWK!: The Parrots of the Neocon Movement are out in Force

This op-ed piece from the local paper greeted me this morning. Lowry is one of the parrots of the right who's never seemed to be burdened too much with factual concerns. Right now he's one of several of the Neocon mouth pieces out either fear mongering an impending terrorist attack, or bemoaning the rampant threat of socialism.
Last Gasp for Limited Government? Obama charts a socialized course.

By Rich Lowry Is American exceptionalism about to be bundled off on a long trip to the Continent, never to return? Socialism may happen here.
UHH, by exceptionalism do you mean personal responsibility for everyone but your wealthy cronies? The last 8 years the government of this country funneled national wealth into the insatiable gullets of people who took the notion that 'God helps those who help themselves' to mean helping themselves at the public till with both hands. All with the blessings of people such as yourself, Rich. I'm not sure we can afford any more of your exceptionalism - least wise for another 80 years or so.
"Republicans fought an inspired battle against the stimulus bill, holding all but three of their 219 senators and congressmen. And they still lost."
Too bad they weren't so inspired to prevent the deficits and deregulation that helped fuel this economic collapse in the first place. Just imagine if they'd have gotten their way and privatized Social Security. I'm not sure the bailouts are a good idea or not but the Republicans 'let them eat cake' approach to the poor (a voting body growing by leaps and bounds each day) surely isn't.
.....Randolph Bourne posited that war is the health of the state. True. But one wonders: What isn’t the health of the state? Republicans from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich intent on limiting government during the past 25 years have succeeded in a limited way: From 1983 to 2000, the size of the federal government relative to GDP declined from 23.5 percent to 18.4 percent. Federal spending didn’t shrink, but it grew at a slower rate than the economy, providing more breathing room for the private sector.
It had bounced back to 20.9 percent last year, and could conceivably go as high as 28 percent this year. According to Newsweek (latest cover: “We Are All Socialists Now”), in 2010 total U.S. government spending will be 39.9 percent of GDP, only about eight percentage points below the average in the socialistic eurozone countries.
I don't know Rich, maybe it has something to do with you guys cutting taxes below sustainable levels in the midst of a ruinous war, while simultaneously unregulated industry shipped jobs overseas followed by an economic collapse that decimated the tax rolls. Think that might have had at least something to do with it? Plus I do recall (something that no doubt separates me from your fan base) something about huge surpluses a few years back - during another Democratic era. Something you fiscally responsible champions of the working man put a stop to.
That’s the momentous question posed by Obama’s presidency. Those who favor socialism of the creeping variety are feasting on a collapse of Wall Street’s reputation as complete as that of the early 1930s, when it was said of disgraced banker Charles E. Mitchell: “If you steal $25, you’re a thief. If you steal $250,000, you’re an embezzler. If you steal $2,500,000, you’re a financier.” The lost moral authority of the financial sector—and the market generally—has accrued to government, now on the hook for $9.7 trillion worth of interventions in the economy. Whether this program is perceived to work, whether Obama further nationalizes heath care, and how much of our wealth is claimed by looming entitlements will determine the country’s future, and its nature. The backdrop to the debate over these questions is a roiling, up-for-grabs populism. The ascendant left-leaning populism feeds off anger at the new “malefactors of great wealth.” But a right-leaning populism is building. It takes the same anger but lumps government in with the malefactors, through its bailout of failed industries and its self-serving irresponsibility, symbolized by silly pet projects in the stimulus bill and burgeoning deficits (which Republicans are newly outraged about).
Too bad they weren't outraged enough to stop it in the first place. Sorry to disappoint ya Richy but people like me aren't outraged that people are wealthy. We are outraged that for the last 8 years the most extreme form of Reaganomics has been nurtured by an administration and its benefactors who probably can't even spell accountability any more. Yes the Democrats in Congress were a sorry lot but you guys pulled the strings. Is it any wonder that corporate fat cats took Bush's bailout (oh that's right - he passed out a bunch of money with no real conditions - the last chance for his cronies to stuff their pockets with our money) and used it to pay bonuses to people whose piss poor stewardship helped wreck the economy. I want a job like that!

As for socialism, are you incapable of engaging in an intelligent dialogue or is it pandering to some idiot class who can't fathom a decision making process more complicated than a coin toss? I don't know. I know some real conservatives who could handle the challenge.

Can you guys not approach a problem in any context other than 'fer us or agin us'? Socialism - reminds me of Indigo Montoya: "There's that word. I do no think it means what you think it means." Sorry, as usual I digress. No one - repeat NO ONE that I know is advocating socialism. But it is clear that some compromise other than 'screw the poor!' and unbridled capitalism is needed if we all don't want to go buy a loaf of bread with a wheelbarrow full of money.

And yes - you sold your souls and lost your moral authority by bankrupting the country.
Obama can’t get on the wrong side of this populist sentiment. It is why he did his rapid about-face on the nomination of Tom Daschle (a liberal swell enjoying a privileged Washington lifestyle, while neglecting his tax bills), and won’t yet ask for more spending as part of the latest financial bailout. Obama’s position gets more precarious if he ever imposes a broad-based tax increase to pay for an imminent deficit of nearly $2 trillion, larger than the entire federal government a mere eight years ago.
ARRRRGH! My head may yet explode. And where did that deficit come from? Who was in charge? Who spent all that money in the face of tax cuts? Yes, some of us knew that your tax cuts were just your draconian plan to run up the deficits so that you could feign despair for having to cut all those social programs (except more prisons)- you know - like the ones that actually feed, educate and care for all those babies who you defended as fetuses but despise as poor children.
If Obama manages to cement an aggrandized government, his domestic political accomplishment will equal Ronald Reagan’s—although, obviously, in reverse. The late sociologist Seymour Lipset wrote a brilliant book on why the U.S. didn’t embrace socialism, called It Didn’t Happen Here. In a few years, its conclusion might look premature.
An aggrandized government? I guess you mean one other than a government that suspends civil liberties and whose leaders thumb their noses at the commoners/ from some undisclosed location. Ah yes, St Ron. The patron saint of conservatism under who's watch government spending soared. I guess being a neocon is never having to say you are sorry and never having to abide by the truth of history. GUT save us all if they get back in power anytime soon...

Sorry for the rant but I am so sick and tired of these talking heads and the trash that they sling.


Ethical and Moral Consistency: 3.0

Why do Republicans hate children? Ok sorry, I apologize. I shouldn't start any posting the way Carl Rove or Rush would word it, but there are some questions which demand answers now that a new administration is in place. There is an opportunity to correct the myopic compartmentalization that has been allowed to flourish for far too long.

Back in 2006 President Bush exercised his first veto to block a bill that would have released some additional funds for stem cell research. Citing moral concerns about the plight of all those frozen clumps of proto-human tissue sitting in cold storage, he blocked the bill. I don't happen to agree with him on that but I could have respected his decision if he would have adhered to the principles of moral and ethical consistency.

The problem of course is that there are many examples that prove that he did not. One worrisome allegation is that in 2005 the FDA became aware that the suppliers of high fructose corn syrup were or had been using buffering solutions in its manufacture contaminated with mercury. Now, there are many controversies in healthcare but one which is not disputed by anyone is that mercury in food is bad. Many potentially harmful elements are found in trace quantities (selenium, zinc, etc.) in the human body and perform important biological functions. But with the possible exception of the Silver Surfer, mercury is not one of them.

So what is the problem? It is alleged that the FDA was instructed to bury the report. Since almost all processed food contains some HFC the average person consumes 8-12 teaspoons of the stuff per day. In the age of super size me, kids and adolescents consume even higher doses. Should we not actively address such charges?

Why is the political right, or what perversely passes for the voice of conservatism in this age, not outraged by these threats to clumps of tissue that actually walk around, play, laugh, interact with the world and often are named after characters in the Bible? What is it about tissue samples with the potential to become human that inspires such rabid protectionism that is sadly lacking for those who actually are human?

It's something to consider. It is certainly easier to pontificate on the fate of the contents of a test tube than to belly up to the bar and feed, educate, clothe or nurture an actual child. It's easier to ignore the limbo like state of frozen embryos than confront whether those with fundamental religious beliefs should forgo the kinds of fertility treatments that create them in the first place. Easier yes - morally or ethically consistent? No.