Saturday, 29 December 2012

NRA Stupidity

  Last week NRA Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, made a set of stupid and blatantly false statements in reaction to the Newtown shooting.
"How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?
The only way to answer that question is to face up to the truth. Politicians pass laws for Gun-Free School Zones. They issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them.
And in so doing, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk."
  This is false.  By in large the shooters target the places they do because they have some tie to that location.  In fact Columbine and Virginia Tech both had armed police officers at them.  Virginia Tech not only had armed police officers but a whole police station.  The other thing is schools all over the world don't allow guns in them but you don't see the number of shootings at schools that the USA has.

"The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn't planning his attack on a school he's already identified at this very moment?
How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame — from a national media machine that rewards them with the wall-to-wall attention and sense of identity that they crave — while provoking others to try to make their mark?
A dozen more killers? A hundred? More? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation's refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?"

  Did you know that 1 in 4 people require or receive treatment for mental health issues. Look at you and a handful of your friends and if you think they are all "completely sane" then it is probably you that has some mental health issues.  I myself have seen a few different psychologists over the years and have even scene both psychologists and psychiatrist while in the U.S.M.C. with a large number of other Marines.  

  The fact is that if you try to instate some national register then you have to think about who decides who goes on it and who doesn't?  Most military that encounter combat would fit the criteria for requiring mental health treatment in some form.  I'm not saying we are all nut jobs just stating the truth.  Our training involves very specific techniques to make us able to function properly in combat conditions.  Conditions which are horrific and most people that have ever been in them wouldn't wish them on anyone else ever.  Basically the human brain is designed to stop higher order brain functions, including memory retention, in times of high stress.  Through training members of the military and certain other professions, without even knowing it, become accustom to high stress situations allowing them to think, and unfortunately remember, in these situations.  This is why military, police, fire fighters, ambulance drivers, doctors and other similar professions have such a high rate of P.T.S.D.   Are you ready to label most military members coming back from the middle east as mentally ill?  Are you ready to label many police officers as being mentally ill because of the very trait that allows them to function while under stress? 

  Don't get me wrong.  Mental health is important to me.  I don't hold a stigma with mental illness any more then I hold one against someone that has cancer because so many people have these health issues and just because someone has had an issue in the past doesn't mean that they are changed for the worse for the rest of their life.  I think we as a society need to embrace those around us that need help not make them feel more ostracised.  But that is a whole other rant for me to go into in the future. 

  Basically if you think someone is struggling with emotions reach out to them and or someone that can help them.  The facts are clear too.  People with "mental health issues" are not statistically more likely to be the perpetrator of violent crimes on others.  But they are more likely to be injured or killed by fire arms.  The fact is depression actually inhibits people from violent acts because they lack the motivation and drive to carry out acts of self harm.  Sadly it is when they start to get better that they are more likely to take their own life.  You might say "but how can a sane person kill so many people?"  Stereotyping everyone with mental health issues as violent and dangerous is like saying all young men should be viewed as potential rapists because they are so interested in sex.  It is like saying "Every gun owner is a reckless homicidal maniac because they like guns!"  The statements are blatantly false.

"Add another hurricane, terrorist attack or some other natural or man-made disaster, and you've got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization."

  This is a deliberate ploy to conjure up images in the mind of some mad max society where only those with guns have power.  Guess what, all these dooms day prepers aren't doing any good.  They aren't going to save us in some post apocalyptic  society.  They aren't going to save you from the next Adam Lanza.  In fact Adam Lanza's mother was one of them.  So in one breath Mr. LaPierre screams that those with mental health issues, like those that believe the world should have ended on  the 21st of December, should be put on a list but then wants us all to be that type of person who prepares for the end of civilized society.

On to Mr. LaPierre's idiot notion that movies and video games are to blame.
"And here's another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.
Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here's one: it's called Kindergarten Killers. It's been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn't or didn't want anyone to know you had found it?
Then there's the blood-soaked slasher films like "American Psycho" and "Natural Born Killers" that are aired like propaganda loops on "Splatterdays" and every day, and a thousand music videos that portray life as a joke and murder as a way of life. And then they have the nerve to call it "entertainment.""

  I know many Americans have no real understanding of the rest of the world but guess what.  The rest of the world see's the same movies you do.  The rest of the world plays the same video games as you do.  Yet the rest of the world doesn't have the same level of problem.  So either people in America are more easily manipulated and twisted mentally by "entertainment" or that isn't a significant factor in these shootings.  Video games an movies don't make people into violent killers tho violent people may be drawn to those as a form of release.  

"A child growing up in America witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18.

  I question that stat.  That means from the day a person is born they would have to see 3 murders in entertainment a day, every day until they are 18.  I wonder if they count watching a video of Hiroshima being bombed as counting as multiple that case they are off by a factor of 10 or more.  

  In the NRA's mind playing a game with violence is worse then learning to use an item that sole purpose if for killing or maiming another person.  A .223 bush master is sole purpose is for killing multiple people quickly.  Not hunting.  Not home protection.  Killing people, at ranges where any normal person is absolutely no threat to you.

"The media call semi-automatic firearms "machine guns" — they claim these civilian semi-automatic firearms are used by the military, and they tell us that the .223 round is one of the most powerful rifle calibers ... when all of these claims are factually untrue. They don't know what they're talking about!"

  I think everyone knows that journalist aren't perfect but a .223 is very similar to the rounds I used while in the Marines with an M16A2 rifle.  The rounds are designed with the same purpose.  Not for taking down a rabbit like some will make you believe because the .223 isn't much bigger then a .22 which most people think of as small.  The issue isn't just the size of the projectile but the amount of power behind the round.  As you can see those 2 rounds can have the same amount of gun powder behind them.  Ask a normal person which they'd rather be shot by if they had to choose do you think that one of those would be picked a lot less then the other?  Ask a average person the difference between a M16A2 and a Bushmaster .223 do you think they would know?  Do you think there is enough of a difference to care when one is being pointed at you?

"As parents, we do everything we can to keep our children safe. It is now time for us to assume responsibility for their safety at school. The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away ... or a minute away?"

  Again Columbine High School had armed police officers in the school and it DIDN'T HELP!  Why because the cops are not equipped to go up against someone with assault rifles and have to deal with the fact that the people that go on these sprees with these weapons all to often don't care if they get killed.

  This next bit is rich.
"A gun in the hands of a Secret Service agent protecting the President isn't a bad word. A gun in the hands of a soldier protecting the United States isn't a bad word. And when you hear the glass breaking in your living room at 3 a.m. and call 911, you won't be able to pray hard enough for a gun in the hands of a good guy to get there fast enough to protect you."

  There is a HUGE difference between cops with guns and a neighbour like George Zimmerman that is a bit to trigger happy.  Part of what I want to see for better gun regulation is mandatory classes for gun owners.  Classes mostly in how to safely carry and more importantly store a fire arm.  Testing on the laws regarding their firearms wouldn't go astray either.  You'll also notice most police don't carry assault rifles and the ones that do have even more firearms training on the use of them.  They didn't just go down to the gun convention, when it rolled through town, and buy a AR-15 for their squad car.

"The budget of our local police departments are strained and resources are limited, but their dedication and courage are second to none and they can be deployed right now.
I call on Congress today to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school — and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January"

  Yea law enforcement budgets are strained because the GOP is happy to cut back on that "discretionary spending".  You know what else is also stretched to the limit...educational resources.  His plan would cost an estimated $5,000,000,000.00 a year.  Yes FIVE BILLION DOLLARS!  How about we raise that money on yearly licences fees on firearms.  The more dangerous the fire arm the more you pay per  year towards this safety fund. We do similar things with cars so why not firearms.  

  So  $5,000,000,000.00 to put an armed security guard in every school in the nation thinking that will solve the problem.  How did that work out for Columbine High School?  The whole statement is deflection from the real issue here and that is the U.S.A. needs to decide if it wants a safer society with sensible gun regulations or if it is happy letting almost any Tom, Dick and Harry buy assault rifle at the cost of these still of mass shootings.  The U.S.A. needs to decide if one child killed by guns every 3 hours of every day, of every week, of every month, of every year is worth more then making sure gun owners are qualified and responsible enough to own the firearms they wish to possess.  They have to decide if it is ok that a child under the age of 5 is killed every 4 days by firearms.  If a child killed every 2 days because of an "accident" by a fire arm is acceptable.  People keep telling me thinks like "cars cause more deaths then guns!".  Well guess what ... we've regulated the fuck out of motor vehicles and deaths from them have gone down.  That little thing called a seat belt...REGULATION.   That speed sign saying 55...REGULATION.  Making someone take a drivers test before driving...REGULATION.  Inspecting cars to make sure they are road worthy...REGULATION.

  Why should assault rifles, which unlike cars don't have a valid every day purpose, be exempt from better regulation?  Simple answer is they shouldn't be exempt.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Class Warfare?!?!?

  For the past few years you'll hear many on the right complain about the "Class Warfare" against the "rich","upper class","the job creators".  All because most middle and lower class people think that those that are in the top 2% of earners should pay more in taxes. Instead they often pay a lower effective rate then the average middle class family and sometimes do not even pay any taxes at all.  Some of them even get tax credits even after earning billions. Now don't get me wrong I don't think that just raising the tax rate on the wealthiest 2% is going to do much.  This is because you have so many in that bracket that use loop holes designed for the wealthy to lower their tax burden.  So raising their rates alone would do very little.  Tax rate changes would still need to be coupled with tax reforms that prevent the abusive tax loopholes while still allowing certain large tax exemptions through.

  What do I mean about that?  Well charitable deductions for one.  If we removed or even capped charitable deductions this would have a devastating flow on effect to many organisations like the Red Cross,  Salvation Army, Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, the Foundation Beyond Belief, Harvard University, your local community college and countless other religious and secular organisations established to better our society.  Changing the way the home mortgage deduction can help.  Change it so that it still helps a family buy that home they live in but isn't used by the mega rich to buy another mansion on credit and shift that burden on to middle class Americans. All while using that money they saved on over seas investments that are further shielded by bank accounts in the Cayman islands.

For example  George wants to buy this mansion in Woodstock Vermont for $10,000,000.00.
  George has a personal wealth of over $100,000,000.00 and could buy the property out right but if George mortgages the estate and only pays the interest then effectively he will pay $600,000 a year for that house.  But even then he doesn't pay for that house.  That $600,000 comes right off his taxes so the government pays that $600,000.  George gets to live in that $50,000 a month home for free, can sit on it a few years while property values go up then sell that house for a profit.  All for what?  Paying a little bit of money up front for the interest payment on the loan which he'll get back at the end of the year.  Net gain for George is a $10,000,000 house which if he works it right he might not even pay much in capital gains on and shifts $600,000 per year of tax burden back on to the economy.  He's free to use the $10,000,000 that he might have spent on that house to make other investments.  George isn't limited to doing this just once.  If he wants he can do a few properties like this as long as the banks are happy with his over all debt.  This is the type of thing that is meant when it is said that the tax code is written to help the rich get richer.  That $600,000 tax deduction has to be made up some where.  Either taxing someone else even more, which is what normally happens that the tax burden is shifted to middle income families that can't afford to benefit from these types of tax loop holes or expenditures have to be cut.  That means less police officers, firemen and teachers.  That means less money for libraries.  Less aid to help the poor survive from day to day.

  So if we cap mortgage home deductions at, lets say, $50,000 then that still allows the average family to get the benefit that is there to help people buy the home they live in and remove the loop hole that the mega rich use to shift tax burdens while still earning a nice profit at the end of the day.

  But this isn't the main point of my rant here.  My main point is were is the actual class warfare being waged?    The actual class warfare in America is being waged against the poor and minorities.  It really isn't only class warfare but race warfare.  Look at the drug laws.  If I was caught with 5 grams of crack and went to court I have a 16% better chance of getting off simply because I am white.  If I am convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison I've got almost 3-5 times greater chance of getting parole then a black man depending on where I'm in prison.  It gets worse too.  If I'm from a well to do family my chance of conviction drops dramatically and not just because mummy and daddy can buy the best lawyers in town for me.  The juries, even with public defenders, let rich kids get away with more then poor kids. Besides if I was rich I wouldn't be using that crack cocaine. I'd be using the old fashion powdered cocaine.  You might be thinking to yourself "So what?" well how much powdered cocaine do you think I could get caught with to earn the same 5 year sentence, if found guilty?  You might be wondering is powdered cocaine a lot less potent then crack per gram and the answer is no.  Chemically they are similar. The high from crack can kick start in a matter of seconds after smoking where powdered cocaine can take a few minutes tho injecting powdered cocaine produces a faster effect.  The highs are slightly different to.  Crack's "high" lasts for 5-10 minutes and  is more intense then powdered cocaine but powdered cocaine's "high" can last up to 60 minutes.   So there are differences there.  But back to the amount I'd have to get convicted with to earn that same 5 year sentence.  Is it 5 grams? Is it 10 grams? Is it 20 or even 40 grams?  To give you perspective 1 gram of cocaine can be cut up into 10 lines and gram of crack is about 3-4 bowls.  Do you give up? Do you know?  The answer is I can be caught with 500grams, 1/2kilogram, ~1 pound or in terms of lines 5,000 lines of powdered cocaine for the same sentence.  And because a rich white guy is more likely to use powdered cocaine combined with all the other factors the punishment for a black man is well over 100 times worse.  If that doesn't convince you the class warfare isn't really against the  poor lets look a other convictions.

  HSBC, Britain's largest bank, was found to be dealing with the top drug dealers in the world.  When say "dealing with" I'm not talking about the dealers having accounts with them and the bank having no knowledge of the clients but actual involvement in helping to launder billions of dollars.  Not only that but the bank new about and dealt with "known terrorists" such as al-Qaeda and helped them also shift and launder money.  The executives that had direct involvement, what happened to them?  Did they get long prison terms for aiding terrorists and drug cartels?  Nope.  The bank itself got a 1.9 billion dollar fine, which amounts to less then 1 months profit for the bank.  What happened to the executives directly involved?  Well they will defer part of their bonuses for the five year period   Wow.  What did they do to get off?  Well in a statement from the US Justice Department Announcement this was said "HSBC, Britain's biggest bank, said it was 'profoundly sorry' for what it called 'past mistakes' that allowed terrorists and narcotics traffickers to move billions around the financial system and circumvent US banking laws".  So in effect they said they were sorry and got off with a fine.

  Meanwhile Stephanie George was sentenced to life in prison 15 years ago for minor drug offences that the actual judge said this to Stephanie: 'Even though you have been involved in drugs and drug dealing,' Judge Vinson told Ms. George, 'your role has basically been as a girlfriend and bag holder and money holder but not actively involved in the drug dealing, so certainly in my judgment it does not warrant a life sentence.'  So she gets life in prison for being the girl friend of a low level drug dealer but the bank executives that directly knew and aided large drug cartels shift billions of dollars have to "defer part of their bonuses"

  Let me ask you now...who the fuck do you think is suffering from class warfare more?  I'll be a rich white guy any day over a poor black man.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

In the wake of tragedy...

  We need to talk!

  For everyone who feels sad about the tragedy do what you can to help calm the nerves of your friends and love ones.  Talk to them, hug them, cry with them and let us mourn as not only a country but a world.  These people were not just Americans but citizens of the world and people all over the world deserve respect and have their lives valued.  If you are religious pray to your god. Prey not only with those that share your faith but those that have different faiths too.  Know in your hearts that the people around you share your feelings of loss for people that most of us won't even have ever known regardless of what their god's name is or even if they believe in a god at all.

  But even more important then that is that you talk about this tragedy and many others like it with others and what can be done to lower the rates and chances of it happening.  Here I'll probably offend many but reality needs to hit home.  Wishing that Adam Lanza didn't kill all these people won't help.  Praying that it didn't happen or will never happen again will not help.  Being a good community can help.  Not making someone an outcast because they are "smarter" or "dumber" then you can help.  Not making someone feel bad because they are different then you can help.  If you know someone that is struggling with issues of anger reach out to them, reach out to those around them, reach out to those that can help them.  Turning a blind eye to those that are made or even let believe to feel they are unwanted is all to often the cause of violence.

  There is also another cause and one that one particular media organisation, Fox "news", will undoubtedly try to spin as not being relevant and that is guns.  The guns that Adam Lanza used.  The guns that were bought legally and while you may be for personal protection what good does it to to have so many guns in your house?  Lets look at the guns.

.223 Bushmaster

Sig Sauer
  Tell me since when does someone need that rifle in their home?  Since when should someone be able to walk down to their local Wallmart and buy a few hundred rounds for that rifle without restriction?  That is NOT for personal protection.  Personal protection isn't "Hey I should be able to head shot someone at the other end of a football field because I feel threatened by them. Personal protection doesn't require 40 round magazines.

  These weapons where legally purchased by Adam's mother who it seems Adam also killed.  How did any of these weapons protect her? They didn't!  It is simple as that.  So Adam apparently killed his mother and took her weapons to kill 26 more people not including himself with weapons that his mother probably didn't know or care to store properly.

Talk to your politicians about appropriate gun control.
   Don't let anyone fool you that more guns in the public realm = safer society.  The numbers say different.  America's homicide rate is more then 4 times that of Australia's rates. About 2 out of 3 (~66%) of people killed in America are killed by a firearm.  In Australia it is less then 1 in 5 (20%).   You can still have fire arms in Australia we just don't let anyone walk down to a local store and get one.  Getting a gun licence is more then just filling out paperwork.

  Why don't we see American style shootings in Australia?  Well we did before better gun regulations was put into effect.  Back in 1996 35 people were killed and another 23 wounded by Martin Bryant and from that we here in Australia got comprehensive gun regulations.  Since then there hasn't been any mass shooting and despite growing populations both the number and rate of homicides has been dropping.

  Not asking you to give up your gun if you have one.  I'm asking for you to give up your assault rifles and weapons designed for mass killings and for you to be required to store that gun properly so that someone else can't just take it and use it as their own.

  It is never to early to have this talk because to many of these events spark copy cats and the right time to talk about it is when the effects are fresh in our minds.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

GOP on women's health

Richard Mourdock, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Indiana, says that pregnacy resulting from rape is "Something God intended"

I wonder how he would feel if it was his wife or his daughter that was the one that was raped? Or like Scott DesJarlais, a Tennessee 'Pro-Life' congressman and doctor, that pressured his mistress into getting an abortion then thought it was a good idea to tape the conversation and have his wife listen to it as proof of his commitment to her.

Don't get me wrong.  There are women that love the children have resulted from acts of rape.  But no woman should be required to endure the mental anguish that could be associated with being forced to carry that pregnacy to term if they do not choose too.

Regardless of your belief or disbelief in a god or gods pregnancy is a biological function.  That the rape can result in a new person but the thought that a god wants the rape victim to get pregnant is an absurd thought.   If you think that then you have to ask what this god's intention where 1 in 4 women have at least 1 miscarriage in their life time.  You have to ask yourself "If God intended a woman to get pregnant and has direct responsibility for the pregnancy then why did this same God allow the violent act of rape on the woman to occur?".  You know who is responsible for that pregnancy?  The rapist!  Just like if they give the woman an STD or AIDS.  That isn't 'God' intending the women to get a STD or AIDS.  Just like if the rapist kills his victim.  That isn't 'God' intending the woman to get killed.

To his credit Richard Mourdock does accept that there are situations where the woman's life is in danger and that she should be allowed to have an abortion to save her life.

This is unlike Republican Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois who said this just last week that there is never a situation where a pregnancy has to be aborted to save the life of the mother.  Apparently Joe doesn't know what a ectopic pregnancy is and that almost 2% of all pregnacies are ectopic and that it is the leading cause of meternal morality within the first trimester and this is in the USA.

I get if you are pro-life but know the facts.  Know that if you say life starts at conception and that a ball of 16 cells = a person that you their for think that "the pill" is murder.  The pill has multiple levels of prevention.  First it attempts to prevent ovulation from actually occuring. But this, like all birth control, isn't 100% effective.  The pill also thickens the musus around the cervix making it more difficult for the sperm to get into the uterus.  But again this is also not 100% effective.  Finally the pill affects the lining of the uters making it difficult for an egg to attach to the wall.  This is subtle and some people don't get it. Some do but don't want you to get it because it may sway your feelings on the legislation they are trying to ram down your throat.  This last line of defence means that a fertilised egg will get flushed out with the woman's normal menstril cycle.  I.E. conception happened.  That ball of cells just has a much harder time becoming viable.

So when politicians try to say that abortion is never allowed and that life begins at conception that the most popular birth control method becomes illegal.  That means a larger number of women would be force with a life threatening condition when their ectopic pregnacy causes massive internal hemoraging and they where not allowed treatment that could save their life.

The half baked ideas from the GOP are crazy.  What is even more crazy is they expect us to believe their intentions and motivations.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Do you earn less then $200,000 a year? Sorry Mitt says you aren't making enough to be middle class!

Then you aren't even "middle class" according to Mitt Romney. Don't feel sad because 95% of American house holds don't make enough to be labeled as "middle class" according to Romney.

In a flash of honesty and for the first time Romney is putting some numbers to his economic plan.  He states that he considers the middle class to be 200k-250k per year.  We already know he wants big tax breaks for those that earn 250k+.  He want to keep middle income earners tax burden "low" and well he won't talk about poor people except to say "not concerned about the very poor" despite the fact that his economic policy would require most of the safety nets low income earners depend on to go away.

This is the world Mitt Romney lives in.   In an America where 83% of house holds earn under $100,000 a year.  Where 72% of house holds earn under $75,000 and still over 54% of house holds earn under $50,000 a year, Mitt Romney will look after the 1.37% of Americans that qualify as "middle class" by his definition by keeping their tax burden as low as he can.  He's got one interesting thing going for him.  There are less households that earn $200,000-$250,000 a year then there are that earn over $250,000.

Wait oh sorry...I've used figures from 2005.  The latest census data has that number of Mitt Romney's "middle class" has drop by over 15%.

Again the GOP show they don't understand basic maths.  Do you really want a Mitt Romney as President when he thinks that:

  1. 97% of American households are defined as "poor"
  2.  "not concerned about the very poor"
  3. Plans to increase the tax rate paid by the "poor" by about $1,600/year.
Watch Romney and Obama both describe who they think is "middle class"

My cousin say " If you live in California 250k is middle class and Obama is an idiot. He is a socialist and should move to Europe."

Lets look at the mean household income of California.  Seems people can be ignorant of what it is like in their own state.

Where will the GOP stop when it comes to lieing? Will they ever stop?

The GOP has been jumping on the Obama administration's foriegn policy.  Claiming them as a failure despite the fact.  They make completely baseless claims like
Liz Cheney "he’s abandoned some of our key allies, like Israel, Poland, Czechoslovakia"

First lets look at Israel.  This is what Defence Minister Ehud Barak said just over a month ago.

Ehud Barak "But I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past"

Kind of shows how much the GOP is prepared to lie and distort the truth.  Just because Obama and the Israel government admit there are differences of opinions on some matters doesn't mean that Obama has abandoned them.  Quite the opposite.  There is honesty there.

As far as abandoning Poland 48% of poles like the policy and only 31 don't with 21 undecided in one pole and another had a 56% approval rating with only 29% against the change.  But Slawomir Nowak, a senior advisor to the Polish Prime minister abck in 2009 said this "If this system becomes reality in the shape Washington is now suggesting, it would actually be better for us than the original missile shield programme...We were never really threatened by a long-range missile attack from Iran,"  The only ones that loose out here is the defence contractors that where slated to make tons of money for putting in a system that wasn't suited to the task.

The fact is the new plan cost less and is a better fit for the situation and risk.  Spending billions of dollars in a paranoid cold war mentality where we are worried about Russia starting a nuclear war is obsurd.

Finally lets get to the final country that Obama has "abandoned", Czechoslovakia.  First off Czechoslovakia hasn't been a country for almost 2 decades.   So do they mean the Czech Republic?  If so that is covered by the same system as Poland.

Note also that this "Missle sheild" isn't to defend these countries.  It is to "defend" the USA from Russia firing nuclear weapons at us.

The GOP constantly complains about Democrats spending to much but when you look at the facts it is very much the other way around.  The difference is that the Democrats spend more on the common person.  The republicans spend more on making the rich richer.

Lets look at the numbers

Reagan 1st term8.7%
Reagan 2nd term4.9%
Bush Snr 5.4%
Clinton 1st term3.2%
Clinton 2nd term3.9%
Bush Jr 1st term7.3%
Bush Jr 2nd term8.1%
Obama 1.4%

Democrats clearly raise spending more then republicans.

How about creating private sector jobs? Democrats average 150,000 jobs a month over the last 50 years.  Republicans only 71,000.  That means under democratic administrations PRIVATE sector jobs increase twice as fast.  Yes unemployment is still above 8%, 8.1 to be exact. But when Bush Jr left office the unemployment rate was rising into double digits.

The raw numbers

Reagan   ~168,000 new jobs per month
Bush Snr  ~54,000 new jobs per month
Clinton  ~270,000 new jobs per month
Bush Jr   ~11,000 new jobs per month
it took a year to halt the collapse Bush Jr caused.  Since then
Obama    ~107,000 new jobs per month

Sure Reagan did better but he didn't have to deal with a shit economy handed to him by the previous president.

Like Clinton said at the DNC.  Its simple maths.  And the GOPs math doesn't add up.

Just once I'd like to see the GOP attack Obama using truth rather then the lies they come up with.

That sharp increase while in 2009 is a result of a number of things like 
700 billion dollar bank bail out signed by bush 
5.8 percent cost of living increase before Obama got into raised social security payments and another 39 billion for medicare.
Obama did push through the stimulus bill to stop the rising unemployment rate and Bush's 2009 budget only covered defence spending for the full year.  Other government agencies where only funded through to March  meaning Obama's administration had to hustle to get funding for them. 

Here is an analysis by

Friday, 14 September 2012

Pat Robertson "jokes" about beating a non subservient wife.

This is ridiculous.  In today's age there are still people that think wives should be subservient to the husband in a house hold. Here Pat Robertson keep saying things like "He can't let her get away with this stuff", "I don't think we condone wife beating these days, but somethings got to be done to make her."

This is what the husband has wrote in

"My wife has become a real problem.  She has no respect for me as the head of the house.  She insults me and she even went as far as stretching her hand to beat me.  I've lost my self confidence. Her words hurt so much and she refuses to talk through our problems.  Please tell me what I can do. - Michael"

Now I don't condone abuse from either side.  The woman in question apparently is psychologically abusive to her husband.  But isn't her husband psychologically abusive to her if he demands respect as "the head of the house."?  Respect is earned not claimed and just because a bunch of stories, written and modified over a few hundred years and which are at least 2,000 years old, says shit like.
Ephesians 5:22 "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord."
Corinthians 7:4 "The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife."
Note that here it isn't strict submission but a partnership but both ways this is bad to think your partner can demand sex when ever they want regardless of your feelings.
One Timothy 2:12 "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."

Does not mean we should keep this 2,000+ year old "morality"

In an age where the GOP don't want women to have equal pay where all but 1 republican senators blocked the the bill from going forward and the one outlier didn't vote.  In an age where the GOP thinks that an employer should be able to deny a woman reproductive health care.  You can see how the GOP not only wants wives to be submissive to their husbands but they want women to be subservient to men.

The woman talking to Pat Robertson suggested counselling for the couple but he did little more then nod in agreement before going back to ranting how the woman must be mentally ill and suggesting that the husband move to Saudi Arabia.

There are plenty of good religious people but it is idiots like Pat Robertson and those that follow him blindly that make religious people look like cave men.  If you are religious get out from under a big tent if you are under it and voice your opinion.  Show that most religious people are not bigots and backwards.  Show that a husband and wife are an equal partnership not this crazy ass relationship that many vocal religious nut jobs want.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Pole shows 15% of 'Very Conservative' People think Romney is responsible for Bin Laden's Death

Now numbers can often be manipulated but this is from a pole performed by Public Policy Polling.  The pole is linked below for you to view.

When asked the question : Who is responsible for Osama Bin Laden's death? With the choices being : Barack Obama, Mitt Romney or Not sure.  15% of people that identified themselves as "Very Conservative" picked Mitt Romney.  A full 51% of that same demographic said "Not Sure" and 53% of people that self identify as "Somewhat Conservative" also said "Not Sure".  This means that well over half of people poled that identify as conservative don't know or won't admit to knowing that Barack Obama is more responsible for Bin Laden's death then Mitt Romney.

Now this isn't a question of "Should more credit be given to SEAL team 6?" "What about the intelligence community?" etc.  Barack Obama has repeatedly given credit to everyone involved.  This is simply people in Ohio being asked, of the 2 candidates, who is responsible for Bin Laden's Death.  I mean this isn't even a tough question like "Who is more responsible for Obama-Care?" where you can say "Well it is modelled after Romney's health care plan!" or anything like this.  

Now across the board you'll get people in every ideology that will be just plain stupid and answer wrong.  You'll get people that are nervous and afraid to be wrong and say 'Not Sure'.  But when you look at the numbers based on Ideology it swamps that.  I think it is more that the conservatives there don't want to admit Obama was responsible and that is why the numbers are the way they are.  

Either way a majority of the conservatives poled in Ohio are either plain stupid or wilfully denying the truth.

Here is the full chart from the pole found here

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Paul Ryan blames Obama for factory that closed before Obama even won.

So Paul Ryan has said this multiple time on the podium and just the other day at the Republican National Convention.

"Especially in Janesville where we were about to lose a major factory.  A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that G.M. plant.  Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said, 'I believe that if our government is there to support you, this plant will be here for another 100 years.'. That’s what he said in 2008.  Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year.  It is locked up and empty to this day"

Powerful stuff aye.  Obama tells a factory if the government is there for them that they should be there for another 100 year but that factory closes that same year.   WOW, did Obama let them down?  Well  Ryan would like you to believe that Obama didn't help that factory when they bailed out so many others.  This is true, Obama's administration didn't help that factory.  BUT it is hard to help a factory that shut down 6 months before you even took office.  Before you even get elected.  Before you are even nominated as your parties candidate.

Short and sweat here.  Ryan knows that Obama's administration doesn't have anything to do with the closing.  That Obama's administration could not do anything about it.  But Ryan does not care about the lies he shits out his mouth because he knows most people won't look into the facts.

Are you sitting here now justifying Ryan's lies or are you sick of being lied to?

Friday, 31 August 2012

What the GOP think about tax cuts for people that aren't rich.

Bill S 3412 Middle-class Tax Relief.

Not surprisingly the GOP stands firmly against tax cuts for people making less then $250,000/yr.  46 of 47 republican Senators voted against S3412 Middle-class tax relief.  The 1 republican that didn't vote no, Senator Mark Kirik, didn't actually vote.  It passed 51/48 with one abstaining.

Reason for this?  The republican's will not pass this bill, which benefits all American's by providing tax relief for the first $250,000.00 of income, because they want further tax cuts for people earning over $250,000.00/yr.

Do you find this right?  Should rich people get even more tax breaks then poor people?  Already our tax code allows the rich to pay significantly lower tax rates then low and middle income earners by providing many tax shields and incentives that are only accessible by the wealthy.  Tax breaks that Mitt Romney exploits to the fullest often moving income over seas to evade taxes here.

If you had an income of $100,000/yr do you think it would be nice if you could shield it from taxes by moving the income over seas?  Who would pay for our schools?  Who would pay for our roads?  Who would pay for our emergency services? Who would pay for our wars?

The GOP blame President Obama for the current rate of unemployment.  Saying "his [Obama] economic plan has failed".  Yet every time President Obama tries to implement any plan he is confronted with this partisan blockade.  Obama has made some hard compromises and brought spending increases to a low not seen since 1953.  Obama policies, many implemented by executive order because republican congressmen refuse to vote for any bill that might make make the President look good., stopped an unemployment rate that was rising into the double digits.

President Obama has said all along that the recovery is coming to slow.  That it isn't good enough.  That we still have a lot to do.  He's made hard compromises in hopes the republicans would also make similar compromises but at every opportunity republicans refuse.  Even to compromises they agreed to in the past.

They want to privatise education giving more support to rich families sending their children to private schools at the cost of low and middle income families, that can not afford high priced schools, to attend schools that get even less funding per student.  Choice is easy for those that can afford it.  I sent my son to a private school up until year 8.  That was my choice and that choice didn't rip funding away from public schools in the process.  How does the GOP expect a low income family that is struggling to put food on the table to be able to come up with more money to send their kids to a school that is properly funded?  A school which is probably further away then their local public school.  A school which may have many other hidden costs like uniforms and "building fees".  How do they expect struggling families to come up with thousands of dollars more a year for each one of their children when the GOP plan to take away safety nets like food stamps.  When the GOP plan to roll back the Affordable Health Care Act leaving the low income families with no affordable medical insurance and no guarantee that if they do keep their health insurance that the insurance company won't drop them as soon as someone in the family gets ill?

If you vote for the GOP this coming election be assured that the unemployment rate we saw at the end of the Bush administration will only be the start.  The GOP are great at saying democrats hate America but the GOP only like the rich and they'll lie to all the low and middle income Americans to get into power.

The phrase "I'm proud to be an American" will be a joke unless you are in the top 2%.

Who do you blame for the government spending to much? Democrats or Republicans?

Spending Increase Per Term
Obama's administration has the lowest increase of spending since President Eisenhower. That is over 50 years you have to go back.
How does Obama stack up to other presidents?

Regan's 1st term    - 8.7%
Regan's 2nd term    - 4.9%
Bush Snr            - 5.4%
Clinton's 1st term  - 3.2%
Clinton's 2nd term  - 3.9%
Bush Jr's 1st term  - 7.3%
Bush Jr's 2nd term  - 8.1%
Obama 1st term      - 1.4%

Do you really trust that The GOP will make the cuts needed?  Oh they'll make cuts.
They'll make cuts that will cost seniors $6,500 more a year in out of pocket expendatures do to allowing insurers to refuse coverage which increases the strain on Medicare forcing out many seniors from even recieving benefits.
They'll shift medicare onto the states that isn't designed to keep up with actual health care costs.
They'll repeal the Affordable Care Act and let the insurance companies go back to business as usual where they can deny you coverage when ever they want which would effect tens of millions of Americans not to meantion the more than 30,000,000 Americans who would loose their coverage right away.
They'll slash education.  Ryan and Romney won't tell you where exactly they'll make the cuts within education but the reduction is there...they just don't want to be pin down to so they can claim make claims like "Pell grants don't have to change". But the truth of the matter is that cuts would have to be made some where.
They'll slash programs for the very poor and disadvantage.  Programs like food stamps.  Programs that help poor children get the nutrician they need.

They'll also make the rich get richer.  3 Trillion dollars in tax cuts that will benifit only the top 2%.  Mitt Romney would end up paying less then 1% in taxes under the Romney-Ryan plan.  Ironically 1% might be more then Romney has paid in some years in the last decade.  But until he releases his tax returns we'll not know.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Romney continues to lie!

Romney claims that President Obama plans to take $716 billion dollars in benefits from Medicare and that he, Mitt Romney, would leave Medicare as is.
So what is the truth?  The $716 billion dollars isn't taken from benifits unless you consider things like duplicate payments to insurance companies "benifits".  So let get this clear the $716 billion dollars is from cost savings like slowing the inflation of medical costs, eliminating waste, fraud, abuse and stopping over payments to private insurance companies under the Medicare Advantage program.

Romney wants that $716 billion dollars to stay when in the end the only people they benifit is people, including corporations, defrauding the system.

Romney claims that President Obama is cutting the work requirement for welfare.  This is out right false and even after being shown it Romney and his campaign answer is to continue the lie with as much advertisement as possible.

Romney wants to put in over 5 trillion dollars to tax cuts for the rich.  Those tax cuts have to be paid for and they will be.  They will be paid by low and middle income earners paying higher payroll taxes. By teachers, fire fighters, policemen loosing their jobs.  By students paying higher costs for university.  By Seniors paying an average of $6,500 a year more, out of their own pocket, for medical care because Romney wants to go to a voucher system.

Note that the lies are not only being spread by ads endorced by Mitt Romney but by Mitt Romney when he stands on the podium when he gives speeches.  This isn't an add produced by someone else, not endorced by President Obama and run only once.

Back in 1949 Adlai Stevenson said this
If the Republicans will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.”
and it is more true today then ever.  The GOP thinks it is hateful for the democrats to point out their lies.  What do you think?  Mitt Romney's ads and speeches show they they either don't understand how Medicare works or are wilfully making shit up or even worse...both!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

I can't believe the $#I~ that come out of Mitt Romney's mouth

We all know Romney has a problem with connecting with the average American.  His awkward lines like
  • Talking to the members of the chambers of commerce - I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. - Jan 2012
  • Trying to pander to middle Americans - I'm not concerned about the very poor. - Jan 2012
  • Trying to pander to a group of unemployed in florida -I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed. -  June 2011
  • When asked about tying his dog to the roof of his car and not stopping to let the dog go to the toilet -PETA is not happy that my dog likes fresh air. -   2007
  • Trying to show how he's an average guy that likes motor sport - I have some great friends that are NASCAR team owners. - Feb 27, 2012
  • Talking to some supporters from a local bakery - I'm not sure about these cookies. They don't look like you made them. No, no. They came from the local 7/11 bakery, or whatever. - April 17, 2012
  • Talking to supporters in Michigan - I love this state. The trees are just the right height. -  Feb 2012
  • At a speech in Harrisburg - he [Obama] spent too much time at Harvard, perhaps, or maybe just not enough time actually working in the real world - April 2012 
note: that Romney was at Harvard longer and got 2 degrees while he was there, Obama paid his way through Harvard like most American's using student loans and worked as a community organiser for an organisation with a annual budget of $400,000 a year for 13 staff and the projects they ran.  

Now Mitt Romney comes out with this. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate!

Well who cares.  Obama was born in Hawaii.  Has legitimate short and long form birth certificate authenticated by officials in the state of Hawaii.  Just because nut bag conspiracy idiots within the GOP keep lying and claiming that Obama isn't a real citizen of the United States of American, even when shown the evidence to the contrary.  One would hope that Mitt Romney would try to distance himself from those nut jobs.  But instead he's kept those nut jobs close.  Accepting untold amounts of money from them and now he's jump squarely in bed with them spouting the same shit as they do.  

The hypocrisy here is amazing.  No one has asked Mitt for his birth certificate but will he release his tax returns for the last 10 years?  Nope!  Mind you this is a tradition his father started back in 1968.   The only 2 years of tax returns he did release showed that he paid taxes at rate of less then 15%.  That he used banks in the Cayman islands and Switzerland to shield income from taxes to not only the USA but other countries like Italy.  Don't get me wrong.  To date nothing he's done appears to be illegal.  He's just manipulated the system which is geared to making it easy for rich people to pay very little in taxes.

The official tax policy that the republicans want to push through is even worse.  Mitt Romney would end up paying less then 1% in taxes.  The GOP wants to push through 5 trillion dollars...that is $5,000,000,000,000.00 in tax cuts that are exclusively for the top 2% of American's.  The GOP currently won't extend tax cuts that would benefit all Americans until they get further tax cuts to those Americans that earn over $250,000.00 a year.  Get this straight.  ALL Americans would benefit by the tax cuts Obama wants to push through because it covers all income up to $250,000.00.  But this isn't good enough for the GOP.  They want more tax breaks that only benefit people that earn more then $250,000.00 a year.  

Where do you think the GOP's tax cuts for the top 2% would come from?  Who's going to pay for it?  This is something they don't like you to know.  It comes from killing Medicare.  Independent economists predict that Medicare collapse within 4 years if Romney was elected and implemented his tax plan.  Taxes to low and middle income Americans would got up.  Finally services like police, fire and education would be cut back so that the rich can get richer.

What the President really says from his own mouth.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Are you for all of America or just top 2%?

Congress has gone on  recess with the Senate not voting on the tax cut bill because republicans refuse to act on it unless the richest 2%, not only get the tax cut everyone gets for the first $250,000.00 of income but, get further cuts on any income above $250,000.00.

The republicans are the party who is putting forward a presidential candidate who refuses to release more then 2 years of his tax returns, in contradiction to the standard that his own father set back in 1968 and which every other candidate since then has followed.

Do you want a president that knows what it is like to be an average American who finally paid off his university bills just over a decade ago or do you want a president that has never known what it is like to struggle and for the last 2 years still paid a lower effective tax rate then you have and may not even have paid taxes at all, for some years, in the last decade?

Do you want a president that is for helping 98% of American's in need or do you want a president that is for helping 2% of American's and hoping that 2% lets some of that aid trickle down to the rest of us even though we've seen that policy fail miserably already.

Do you think a small business is a Mom & Pop shop, that hires a few local people to staff the store, needs some help with their taxes or do you think 2 Brothers that are hedge fund managers, making millions of dollars a year working on Wall street that employs 1 or 2 secretaries, needs help from the government more?

Do you think the government should help keep further education beyond high school affordable for all Americans or do you think that only the rich should get the chance for a proper education?

Do you think the government should aid low income earners get health insurance is the right thing to do or do you think it is "free stuff" and more important to keep the tax laws that let a multi-millionaire's wife have the government flip the bill for their horse to the tune of over $70,000 in just one year?

Do you believe that Americans deserve to know who is paying to get a candidate into the highest office of the nation or do you believe it is ok for millionaires and billionaires to secretly bank roll a candidate and produce false advertisements with out any accountability?

Do you believe that women have a right to proper preventative health care or do you think that an employer should be able to stop a woman from getting that health care?

Do you want a president that has been open about his economic plan or do you want a president that basically says that he'll implement tax cuts but never tells you how the country will pay for those tax cuts?

You decide. You can vote for someone that supports the average American or you can side with the party that acts like a rich spoiled little brat that isn't happy unless they can push their way through a line just because they are rich and think they are better then every body else.

Are you part of the 2% that thinks that 98% of people just shit out of luck?  Are you part of the 98% that wants to screw over the rest of the 98% in the vain hope that you will some day be part of the 2%?   Or are you that part of America, regardless of your income, that believes America was built on the ideal that all Americans deserve a country in which they can succeed!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

More stupidity from the GOP

More stupidity from Texas conservatives.  From page 12 of the Texas GOP's own platform document, section about eduction.

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behaviour modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

So basically the GOP oppose any education that might change what some ones parents want them to believe.
Stuff like :

  • Evolution If the parents don't believe it then the kids shouldn't be taught about, not only, the evidence that makes the modern theory of evolution a "scientific theory", but what makes evolution "a fact".   Further more don't teach the kids what those 2 terms actually mean and not what creationist try to distort those terms to mean. Because if they do get taught that then it will be harder for the parents to answer everything with "God did it!"
  • Climate change Controversial for many that think that releasing carbon, that was captured over billions of years, in less then 2 centuries is some how not a problem for the entire ecosystem of our Earth.  That's ok because many of those people don't believe the Earth has been around more then 6,000 years and some of those still deny the Earth orbits the sun and it isn't flat.
  • Interracial marriage. Still a hot button issue it seems.  46% of Mississippi Republicans think it should be illegal. This is pretty bad you might think but then say, with your critical thinking skills, that about 54% are in support of it.  But unless you want to stay ignorant you have to know that only 40% support it and that 14% are undecided or wouldn't respond.  Are you a racial bigot?  Do you think that if your kids see that a white can love and marry a non white and live very happy that the world will come to an end?
  • Equal rights Parents that don't like gay, lesbians, bisexual, or as Santorum labels them "pansexuals", and trans-gender? Don't let the kids discuss if and why they should have equal rights!  Hell, forget sexual preferences and identification.  What about just straight gender? The GOP think that new laws that stop employers  from paying women less then men for the same exact job shouldn't be passed.  Not only that, they are trying, and succeeding, in repealing existing legislation that guarantees equal pay.  Same goes for pay differences based on racial differences.
The GOP have already hit history books.  Removing the word "Slavery" and replacing it with "Atlantic triangular trade" because they believe it puts "America" in a bad light.  Some how they believe it is better to pretend that slavery was a bad thing.  Probably makes it easier for them to justify other bigoted views.

If you are a conservative fine...but if you think that keeping children ignorant of the truth to keep them in line is a good thing then your a fuck tart!.

I enjoy people that have different views then mine.  Tell me about your opinions and why you have them. But if you can't think for yourself then its a waste to even talk to you.  Again you can think what you like but you have to be able to justify why you think the way you do in the light of all the information not just a narrow band of cherry picked information by others that want you to remain ignorant. At the end of the day I might call you a bigot because you think "whites" are better then other races or women should know their place and not think for themselves but at least I won't call you a ignorant bigot.

Many years ago in a office conversation we where talking about religion.  At the time Josh, my son, was religious.  A few of the guys in the office couldn't understand how I could let him be like that if I wasn't religious myself.  My answer was simple.  "Josh isn't me, he doesn't have to believe what I believe.  He is his own person and he make his own decisions based on what he knows."  My job isn't to make Josh believe what I believe.  My job, as a father, is to expose Josh to as much of the world as I can and talk to him about things and let him make up his own mind.  Some times that involves pointing out faulty logic and sometimes he points out faulty logic of mine.  I'm proud that my son can have different views then me.  I'm even more proud that he can show me that what I believe is wrong and why.  Something he wouldn't be able to do if he didn't have critical thinking skills and something he wouldn't be able to do if I could never admit that my beliefs could be wrong.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

I hate my love life!

It's crazy I know what I want but can't seem to find it.  Looking for love some say is like a roller coaster.  Well if it is then for me its just been a long dive down a twisting and turning track.  I'm waiting for the up swing but it doesn't seem to be coming.  I never expected the journey to be easy but I wish it didn't have to be so tedious.  I'm not still single because I'm not putting myself out there.  I meet lots of women but finding one where there is a mutual interest is elusive.  It seems as I get older I'm getting more and more that isn't correct.  I'm finding it harder and harder to find women that I find both interesting and I feel a bit of chemistry with.

Ah, what is this chemistry I'm looking for?  I wish I could define it.  Part of it is just shallow physical attraction but it so much more then that.  I've got female friends I think are very attractive and I think are interesting yet no chemistry.  With other women even if I think there is chemistry on my side it doesn't mean that there is any chemistry on the woman's side.  I don't have a problem with that.  I don't expect most women out there to feel the chemistry with me just as I don't feel any romantic chemistry with most of the women out there.  I'm me and I'm comfortable with who I am.  Sometimes I think it would be easier if I wasn't but really...what does that even mean?

It would be pretty arrogant of me to think that I tick off all the check boxes women have simply because different women have different check boxes.  The issue to date is when there is mutual chemistry I find that my judgement has been flawed some how and I end up thinking "Who is this crazy woman?".  I like a little bit of crazy.  I'll admit that but I don't need to be putting myself into relationships where I'm thinking to myself "Should I start giving the individual personalities of this woman I'm seeing different names?".  So I watch myself more carefully when I say to myself "Hey, she's a bit alright!" and go through a check list to see if she is "crazy fun" or just "crazy crazy".

The next problem I see I'm having is my female friends.  No one will admit to agreeing with this yet but I think I have an issue where my closest friends are women and this isn't serving me well in finding a partner.  I'm not going to get rid of my female friends but I need to find a way to counter act some of the side effects.  You might be thinking "What the $&#^ is Wayne on about right now?!?!?"  So hear me out.

I've always have had a plethora of respect for women and I think most will agree this is a good thing.  I owe thanks for my female friends for this trait.  I constantly think about respect with women I meet.  I don't want them to be thinking "I'm not interested in this guy! Why is he coming on to me?" and that sounds reasonable at first.  But here is where it goes awry.  These days I'm more worried about not wanting to step beyond a boundary of a woman I'm interested in.  Instead of in times past testing the boundary I'm staying clear of the fence waiting for an explicit invitation before proceeding.  Now this is more of an issue at the start of something then it is when you've gotten past the barrier of "Is she interested in me?".  At that point I'm good.  I test the waters and respect the boundaries that get defined and for the most part this has worked fine in the past.  Good communications let you know when to proceed and when to slow down but it is always a bit of a march forward.  But before you know there is an interest this seems to be a problem.  Even if I tell a woman I'm interested, I mean actually saying "I find you very attractive." it seems to have a big difference from actually making physical advances.  Most women say they want a man who can communicate and they might think they want more words from men but in over 25 years of dating and relationships women don't want words about relationships.  I'm not talking about the woman you are in a relationship with.  I'm talking about a woman that you are wanting a relationship with.  You would think at first that exchanging words to confirm interest by both individuals would be a good thing but not true.  We seem, well most people seem, to like the anonymity that comes from not vocalising a desire and often vocalising a desire makes us weary of that desire.  Being the geek I am I now remember reading a psychology paper on this topic.  In new relationships some things are better left unsaid.  Even if you know I like you and I know you like me there seems to be a bonus freedom that comes from not vocalising this to early.  To me it is stupid in one way but I need to learn to accept the fact that I'm probably better off not telling a woman I'm interested in her and just making it clear with a proper kiss.  Historically speaking I can tell you that it is a much better tactic because, as of yet, telling a woman that I'm interested before making a physical like a proper "dating kiss" has not worked.  I can see in the looks I get back the interest they had seem to wash away.  It's like asking them to sign a contract for something much more then I'm asking for.

So what do you think?  Honestly what do you women think?  Would you rather a guy go for a proper kiss or have them say "I'm attracted to you. Are you interested in me?".  The studies say most women would rather the former rather then the latter.  It seems women want more communication but only with a partner they've been with for a while.  Talking seems to be a good way to kill any romantic interest that may be about to come a light.

So to this end ... from this day forward ... until I'm told otherwise I vow to revert to my youth.  To flirt and make the flirting count.  If a woman is not interested then her body language can speak to tell me to stop advancing my flirting.  As long as I'm not ignoring her reactions verbalisation of rejection will never be needed and the woman who is interested never needs to feel exposed by verbally expressing interest even though her physical actions say that she is interested.  Now I only have to hope I don't meet women that are confused about where their boundaries are and keep moving them back and forth like a 50 move stalemate in chess.  I don't mind boundaries.  I'd rather just stay outside until you are sure you want to invite me in but I've dated more then one woman that seems a bit bipolar about where her romantic boundaries are and that is not a head game I can deal with so I'm better off just walking away.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Religion and Atheism on ABC Q&A: Part 1

Dawkins & Pell on ABC's Q&A

Richard Dawkins vs
Cardinal George Pell 

ABC's Q&A : Religion and Atheism  

This will be a multi part blog as if I do all of it at once it will take days.

This was a very interesting talk found here.  I heard a talk between Dawkins and Krauss about this talk before I heard the Dawkins/Pell talk.  I have to say I think Dawkins and Krauss are overly critical of Cardinal Pell.  It is understandable as they are often faced with people who distort the facts or don't understand the science all the time but I think Cardinal Pell was much better then the average individuals that engage in these types of talks.  But then he should be.  He is a highly educated person.

Let me start off by saying I'm agnostic at best, from the view point of those that are religious, and atheistic in practice.  My beliefs are my own.  I have justifications for my beliefs but I do not care if others have differing views from mine as long as they don't feel the need to force their beliefs on others.  This doesn't mean I won't defend my beliefs if challenged but you should never hear me say someone is wrong for their spiritual beliefs unless those beliefs contradict reality.  But the existance of God is not contradictory to reality while something like the denile of evolution, no rainbows before 'Noah's Flood' or any global flood a few thousand years ago are contradictions of reality.

It isn't easy being an atheist.  A study preformed in Canada showed that religious believers distrusted atheist more then any other groups and on par with rapists.  This is a totally undeserved reaction by the many of various religious persuasion.   People have preconceptions about atheists that are often blatantly wrong like "atheist have no sense of morals" or "atheist hate Christians" or "atheist don't know anything about [insert religion here]".  While you'll be able to find individual atheists that one or more of those statements apply as as demographic those statements, and many more like them, are demonstrably false.  So keep in mind that while you may not have negative preconceptions about atheist, studies show that most people do and that can and does effect how many atheist may respond to certain situations.  The old verbiage 'If it walks like a duck..." may seem like an unreasonable prejudging of peoples motives but if you walk past 9 people and they all punch you is it really unreasonable to think that the 10th person is going to punch you too so it is ok to flinch even if offends that 10th person.

Back to the Dawkins/Pell talk.

Dawkins was on the defencive from the start.  He, wrongly, assumed the audience was very biased against him but watching the whole show it was clear that the mix of people there seemed very supportive of both views.  I think it was just the first few questions where targeted against Athiesm where many of the final questions where targeted or "loaded" questions against thiesm.

For those that don't know Dawkins he can come across very rough at times.  He's a hard core atheist but in this talk he was actually holding back a fair bit from his normal deminer. Over all, if you listen to the words and meanings, he is very clear about his beliefs and atheism in general.

I'll critique the questions and responses as I see them then put in my 2 cents worth.

Question #1: At Easter Australia's religious leaders invoke the name of God in order to preach peace, tolerance, political integrity, social and moral fortitude, all obviously positive and worthwhile values. My question is: in what way is the practice of these values dependent on an existing God? Is it possible for an atheist to be a peace loving socially responsible person?

Dawkins: He articulates the fact that you can, and most people do, have these values regardless of their beliefs and that it makes sense that Christianity would adopt the values and "they don't belong to Christianity".  But then he steps beyond the question and points out why defining the bible as your source of morality is a philosophically bad idea.

Cardinal Pell: Pell goes on the defensive right away and says this "First of all our tradition goes back about 4,000 years so whatever these values are that we’ve taken over, we’ve got to go back a little bit of a distance".  Seems a bit of a non argument if you are paying attention.  First Christianity is only half that age which shows that Dawkins statement is correct in that Christianity can't claim to be the source of these values.  To boot humans have been around for about 196,000 years longer then the people Cardinal Pell speaks of.   Pell then goes on to try to claim Christianity was responsible for women's rights, a bit ironic when you consider what is going on in the USA right now forget 2,000 years ago, and infanticide.  At this point he was pointed out that he wasn't answering the question asked.   Then quickly agrees that atheist can be good people but throws a spin that it helps to believe in God and it is to easy to be bad if you don't.

Me: These values are values of society and not the purview of any one group of people regardless of religious beliefs or lack their off.  They, values, evolve with society.  What people consider tolerant is based on the time.  Right now we are tackling the issue of tolerance toward the LGBT community.  We are still battling with tolerance toward various racial and (non)religious groups.  50 years ago interracial marriage was taboo and as  George Takei says "Growing up in California, it was illegal for Asians to marry whites. How times have changed. I married a white DUDE. And an adorable one, too!". Even so many in California would, and have, tried to not only deny him that right but actively seek to undo his marriage.  While I concede that the belief in god(s) doesn't necessarily itself hurt these values I point out that the doctrines and interpretations of many religions do.  Especially when it comes to tolerance of others.   To the second part it is out right a ridiculous question in one aspect and very sensible in another.  Since many people have a preconception that atheist can't be this I guess it needs to be answered.

Question #2: Religion is precisely often blamed for being the root of war and conflict but what about all the good it has done for society. God-centred religion has been the birth place of schools, universities, hospitals and countless developments in science. Richard, if you believe the human drive to seek the truth and to constantly improve ourselves is merely a mechanism for survival, then what’s the point and why should I bother?

Dawkins: He again puts it in great terms.  Pointing out that Cardinal Pell tries to claim things like women's rights as a result of Christianity in stalk contrast to the reality that women's writes were gained from society in general and with little help from Christianity.  Atheist are willing to stand up and face the issues of society head on and in reality are more altruistic because what they do will always have a more limited benefit for them then those that believe that they'll be rewarded in the afterlife for 'good' deeds.

Me: The question is a bit misinformed.  Public schools came from ancient Greece.  The were a result of part of society having enough resources where it could spare the time to educate some of the population.  This is generally true of all societies.  When societies thrive you see a blossoming of culture.  Ancient Egypt had public medicine.  For me religion is not the root of war.  Humans seeking more power is the root of war.  These people may try to justify their grabs for power in the name of religion.  Hitler and Luther try to use religion as a justification for hatred against the Jews but it is simply a power issue where they viewed a different group of people doing well and wanted what they had and thought they should just be able to take it from them. Note: if you think Hitler was an atheist then you really need to learn the history better.

Question #3:  Okay, my question for you today is: without religion, where is the basis of our values and in time, will we perhaps revert back to Darwin's idea of survival of the fittest?

Dawkins: Points out that values come from within ourselves and our interaction with our society.  That he hopes we don't fall into some social Darwinism because, while survival of the fittest is part of the explanation of evolution and for the diversity of life, it is a very bad social model.

Cardinal Pell: Tries to twist, knowingly or unknowingly, Dawkins words by using the various definitions of "Why" and never really answers the question.

Me: Science can answer "why" we are here in that the "why" is the processes and mechanisms that led us to where we are today both physically, biologically and psychologically.  Every day we learn more and more, through science, about the universe and objects within it, including ourselves.  We learn more and more about psychology, culture, emotions, and the development of these areas.  We can give people a scientific reason for near death experiences.  We can give people scientific reasons for the tendency for religious beliefs.  We can give people scientific reasons why humans and chimpanzees, or humans and mushrooms for that matter, share common ancestors.  The Cardinal tries to flip the meaning of "Why" to a purpose, I.E. The question 'Why am I here? How does evolution explain the progression of life one cell creatures over 3 billion years ago to every living creature we see today?' verse 'Why am I here? What is my purpose in life?'  The former question is scientific.  The latter is philosophical and by its nature outside of the realm of science.  In my view  using a bait and switch tactic like this is the same as trying to get those ignorant of the scientific definition of "theory: a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence"  to think scientists are using the layman's definition of "I've got this idea" that often doesn't have any evidence.  The Cardinal at one point says "science tells us nothing about why there was the big bang".  This was caught by Dawkins and is a bad "god of the gaps" approach.  First because it is a "god of the gaps" claim and even worse it really isn't a gap.  Science is making good progress on why there was a big bang and the Cardinal should know this because he read Krauss's new book which provides some explanations.  Now the science of why there was a big bang is a very different question then "what is the purpose of the universe".  Science doesn't need a purpose to the universe just like science doesn't need a philosophical reason for gravity.

To be continued...

Until then I encourage you to watch the entire show yourself.
  1. ABC Q&A : Religion and Atheism