Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tibetan Plateau Rainbow

Awe in Vulcanism

Eagle Nebula

X-chromosome Revealed

As a cheap tabloid might headline it, "X-chromosome Revealed," the University of California Berkley has done a study of the X-chromosome in a piece titled, The Story Of X: Evolution Of A Sex Chromosome. Scientist Doris Bachtrog says, "Contrary to the traditional view of being a passive player, the X chromosome has a very active role in the evolutionary process of sex chromosome differentiation."

"In our manuscript, we demonstrate for the first time the flip side of the sex chromosome evolution puzzle: The X chromosome undergoes periods of intense adaptation in the evolutionary process of creating new sections of the genome that govern sexual differentiation in many species, including our own," she said.

Wow. Imagine that. So I'm guessing that the Genesis story is, well, just a tale fabricated by people who hadn't a clue. "But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man."

Cute story. I wonder if Dr. Bachtrog and her associates at the integrative biology lab ever discuss that official version of the X-chromosome. Probably not.

Then there is that other possibility concerning that rib transplant- the one about adult stem cells and all.  Perhaps the LORD God was actually part of an advanced civilization that cooked up 'woman' from Adam's stem cells.

Lest we forget, there is that other creation story in the bible as well, the one about the mud and the nostrils.    Could this mud-stuff have referred to the primordial soup of eons ago from which the first animal arose?  Who knows?  Maybe humans were 'seeds' spread throughout space by another advanced civilization and our 'seed' took here on earth, in the muddy swamps.

Perhaps we are a Sci-Fi experiment....gone mad!

Eight Years of Torture

The Bush/Cheney years may be known as the Torture Administration in history books, just as Nixon is remembered for Watergate, Johnson for Vietnam. Three ugly episodes in our history.

Too bad the right-wing of the Republican Party is in such deep denial these days about the reality of those torture years. The dopey Sean Hannity even suggested that waterboarding wasn't so bad and that he'd do it for charity. I'd like to see that coward on the plank. Tough talk, as usual from these blokes. The other goof-balls, Beck and Limbaugh, who look like they ought to be floats in the Macy Parade, think torture is OK too.

Of course, the torture they joke about would work on those fluffs because they are all mouth, no guts. Ten seconds into waterboarding they would shit their pants and give up any information the torturers would want to know. The pantywaists!

I wonder if those millions of men who listen to these pansies each day ever stop to think about the characters behind the bravado. Sorry, I mindlessly used the word 'think'

Friday, April 24, 2009

Obama Crusing High in the Polls

The AP reports: For the first time in years, more Americans than not say the country is headed in the right direction, a sign that Barack Obama has used the first 100 days of his presidency to lift the public’s mood and inspire hopes for a brighter future.

Obama’s job approval stands at 63%, while 26% disapprove of the way he is handling his job as president. His approval rating is up slightly from March (59%). Opinions about Obama’s performance remain highly partisan. Fully 93% of Democrats approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, compared with just 30% of Republicans. Independents’ opinions fall in between, with 58% expressing positive views of his performance and 27% negative opinions.

Poor Republicans, they just can't stand the fact that President Obama is doing the right thing for America. Of course, one must remember who THEY supported for the past 8 years. That tells the story.

Right-wing Extremism in the US: Ressurgence, Radicalization and Recruitment

The Department of Homeland Security released a 10-page document on April 7, 2009 with a title nearly the same as that of this post.  The one startling difference is this addition: Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.  [ link]

At least the DHS is aware of these far-right-wing groups, well-armed and easily propagandized. My additional caveat is this: they often exhibit anti-social personality disorder.  Not only that, but, when in a group setting, ASPD feeds on and grows from an association with others who exhibit these traits.  It is a caustic mixture, to be sure, not unlike adolescent gang-think.

The document begins with this statement:

This product is one of a series of intelligence assessments published by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch to facilitate a greater understanding of the phenomenon of violent radicalization in the United States. The information is provided to federal, state, local, and tribal counterterrorism and law enforcement officials so they may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States. Federal efforts to influence domestic public opinion must be conducted in an overt and transparent clearly identifying United States Government sponsorship.

'To influence domestic public opinion...' That's what the DHS says.  Of course, that assumes that the 'public' even knows about this internal domestic threat.  I wonder how many Americans, even bloggers, knew of the release of this report?  If few of us even knew of this HSD investigation and report, then how could the Federal Government expect any kind of 'influence' on the citizenry?  Very disturbing indeed.

Here is what both the DHS and I worry about:

"Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first
African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new
members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal
through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning

Well, that last statement is reassuring if it can be believed. Yet I am not stupid enough to believe that the DHS has identified ALL right-wing, white-supremacist sleeper cells in America. Yet, the DHS may be stating this fact as part of a disinformation effort.

Here is another statement by the DHS:

"Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts. Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn—including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit—could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past."

Exactly the point I made in a comment earlier this morning before I became aware of this DHS document. We have the history of post WWI Germany as an excellent example of what can happen to a people whose economic future is in jeopardy.

Here is a third observation by the DHS:

"The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of
military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities
could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists
capable of carrying out violent attacks.

The pro-gun, Second Amendment lobby is in full gear [as the comments to this blog have shown] and its members are enthusiastically active in attempting to maintain the gun laws that the Bush-Cheney Administration rendered for the past 8 years. Any attempt to ban assault rifles, for example, is met with virulent resistance. One can imagine the 'chatter' that must ensue when right-wing extremists'discuss' this issue.

Here is the 4th observation by the DHS:

"Proposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons bans likely would attract new members into the ranks of rightwing extremist groups, as well as potentially spur some of them to begin planning and training for violence against the government. The high volume of purchases and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition by rightwing extremists in anticipation of restrictions and bans in some parts of the country continue to be a primary concern to law enforcement."

Exactly the point I have already made. This 'anticipated stockpiling of weapons and ammunition' ought to be taken very seriously by the public. It has become clear in the past month or so how much damage can be inflicted by one nut with an automatic weapon. it doesn't take too much imagination to anticipate the wholesale slaughter that can result from an extremist militia with a stockpile of these weapons. Not only that, but these militia members are highly experienced with such weapons, highly motivated, and often suffer from delusions brought about by their anti-social personality disorder.

The amount of damage, death, destruction and mayhem that a knot of right-wing extremist militia members can inflict on our American society is enormously frightening. One needs only to recall what one of them did to Oklahoma City all by himself.

Here is the 5th concern raised by the DHS:

"Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities."

This is serious stuff! These returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans no doubt already suffer PTSD; they have just left a war zone; they face a difficult re-entry into a society that is experiencing an economic recession. These factors alone ought to raise many red flags as they rejoin society. Yet, as the DHS warns, they can be easily propagandized by these right-wing extremists given their current 'readjustment' situation.

The irony of this 'returning veterans' scenario must not be overlooked. These men and women returning from duty in Iraq were led to believe, by the Bush-Cheney Administration, that they were on an important mission to save America from a possible WMD's assault by a dangerous dictator. They fought, bled and many of their comrades died for 'the cause.'

Now at home, they can easily find out that this WMD threat, the smoking gun-nuclear cloud scenario was a hoax perpetrated by a knot of neocon ideologues in the White House.

Imagine their anger. I cannot.

Their 'government' lied to them.

Their 'government' sent them on an unnecessary mission.

Their 'government' ruined their psyche, their limbs, their dreams.

Here is the most important question that must be asked about DHS point #5: will these returning veterans be able to separate the 'government' of Bush and Cheney from the 'government' of Obama and Biden? Or, will it all blur into one?

I don't know this answer and it frightens me all to hell!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Troubling Report

Recently, the Bill Moyers Journal did a report
on the economic crisis and the banks specifically.
The following is a synopsis of that report.

April 3, 2009

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the Journal.

For months now, revelations of the wholesale greed and blatant transgressions of Wall Street have reminded us that "The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One." In fact, the man you're about to meet wrote a book with just that title. It was based upon his experience as a tough regulator during one of the darkest chapters in our financial history: the savings and loan scandal in the late 1980s.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: These numbers as large as they are, vastly understate the problem of fraud.

BILL MOYERS: Bill Black was in New York this week....."How do they get away with it?" Well, no one has asked that question more often than Bill Black.

The former Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention now teaches Economics and Law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. During the savings and loan crisis, it was Black who accused then-house speaker Jim Wright and five US Senators, including John Glenn and John McCain, of doing favors for the S&L's in exchange for contributions and other perks. The senators got off with a slap on the wrist, but so enraged was one of those bankers, Charles Keating — after whom the senate's so-called "Keating Five" were named — he sent a memo that read, in part, "get Black — kill him dead." Metaphorically, of course. Of course.

Now Black is focused on an even greater scandal, and he spares no one — not even the President he worked hard to elect, Barack Obama. But his main targets are the Wall Street barons, heirs of an earlier generation whose scandalous rip-offs of wealth back in the 1930s earned them comparison to Al Capone and the mob, and the nickname "banksters."

BILL MOYERS: You talk about the Bush administration. Of course, there's that famous photograph of some of the regulators in 2003, who come to a press conference with a chainsaw suggesting that they're going to slash, cut business loose from regulation, right?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, they succeeded. And in that picture, by the way, the other — three of the other guys with pruning shears are the...

BILL MOYERS: That's right.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: They're the trade representatives. They're the lobbyists for the bankers. And everybody's grinning. The government's working together with the industry to destroy regulation. Well, we now know what happens when you destroy regulation. You get the biggest financial calamity of anybody under the age of 80.

BILL MOYERS: But I can point you to statements by Larry Summers, who was then Bill Clinton's Secretary of the Treasury, or the other Clinton Secretary of the Treasury, Rubin. I can point you to suspects in both parties, right?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: There were two really big things, under the Clinton administration. One, they got rid of the law that came out of the real-world disasters of the Great Depression. We learned a lot of things in the Great Depression. And one is we had to separate what's called commercial banking from investment banking. That's the Glass-Steagall law. But we thought we were much smarter, supposedly. So we got rid of that law, and that was bipartisan. And the other thing is we passed a law, because there was a very good regulator, Brooksley Born, that everybody should know about and probably doesn't. She tried to do the right thing to regulate one of these exotic derivatives that you're talking about. We call them C.D.F.S. And Summers, Rubin, and Phil Gramm came together to say not only will we block this particular regulation. We will pass a law that says you can't regulate. And it's this type of derivative that is most involved in the AIG scandal. AIG all by itself, cost the same as the entire Savings and Loan debacle.

BILL MOYERS: Why are they firing the president of G.M. and not firing the head of all these banks that are involved?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: There are two reasons. One, they're much closer to the bankers. These are people from the banking industry. And they have a lot more sympathy. In fact, they're outright hostile to autoworkers, as you can see. They want to bash all of their contracts. But when they get to banking, they say, ‘contracts, sacred.' But the other element of your question is we don't want to change the bankers, because if we do, if we put honest people in, who didn't cause the problem, their first job would be to find the scope of the problem. And that would destroy the cover up.

BILL MOYERS: The cover up?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Sure. The cover up.

BILL MOYERS: That's a serious charge.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Of course.

BILL MOYERS: Who's covering up?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Geithner is charging, is covering up. Just like Paulson did before him. Geithner is publicly saying that it's going to take $2 trillion — a trillion is a thousand billion — $2 trillion taxpayer dollars to deal with this problem. But they're allowing all the banks to report that they're not only solvent, but fully capitalized. Both statements can't be true. It can't be that they need $2 trillion, because they have masses losses, and that they're fine.

These are all people who have failed. Paulson failed, Geithner failed. They were all promoted because they failed, not because...

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, Geithner has, was one of our nation's top regulators, during the entire subprime scandal, that I just described. He took absolutely no effective action. He gave no warning. He did nothing in response to the FBI warning that there was an epidemic of fraud. All this pig in the poke stuff happened under him. So, in his phrase about legacy assets. Well he's a failed legacy regulator.

BILL MOYERS: But he denies that he was a regulator. Let me show you some of his testimony before Congress. Take a look at this.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER:I've never been a regulator, for better or worse. And I think you're right to say that we have to be very skeptical that regulation can solve all of these problems. We have parts of our system that are overwhelmed by regulation.

Overwhelmed by regulation! It wasn't the absence of regulation that was the problem, it was despite the presence of regulation you've got huge risks that build up.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, he may be right that he never regulated, but his job was to regulate. That was his mission statement.


WILLIAM K. BLACK: As president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which is responsible for regulating most of the largest bank holding companies in America. And he's completely wrong that we had too much regulation in some of these areas. I mean, he gives no details, obviously. But that's just plain wrong.

BILL MOYERS: How is this happening? I mean why is it happening?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Until you get the facts, it's harder to blow all this up. And, of course, the entire strategy is to keep people from getting the facts.

BILL MOYERS: What facts?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: The facts about how bad the condition of the banks is. So, as long as I keep the old CEO who caused the problems, is he going to go vigorously around finding the problems? Finding the frauds?


WILLIAM K. BLACK: Taking away people's bonuses?

BILL MOYERS: Yeah. Are you saying that Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, and others in the administration, with the banks, are engaged in a cover up to keep us from knowing what went wrong?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Absolutely.


WILLIAM K. BLACK: Absolutely, because they are scared to death. All right? They're scared to death of a collapse. They're afraid that if they admit the truth, that many of the large banks are insolvent. They think Americans are a bunch of cowards, and that we'll run screaming to the exits. And we won't rely on deposit insurance. And, by the way, you can rely on deposit insurance. And it's foolishness. All right? Now, it may be worse than that. You can impute more cynical motives. But I think they are sincerely just panicked about, "We just can't let the big banks fail." That's wrong.

BILL MOYERS: But what might happen, at this point, if in fact they keep from us the true health of the banks?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, then the banks will, as they did in Japan, either stay enormously weak, or Treasury will be forced to increasingly absurd giveaways of taxpayer money. We've seen how horrif

Cheney, Bush, Rice and Rumsfeld: Report To the Gallows

Those idiotic 4 [and a few more] thought that their personal political agenda was more important than the rule of law set forth in our Constitution. They were no different than a two-bit dictatorship- the one that they were so intent upon toppling in Iraq.

The memos from that time period continue to be released to the citizens of this great nation. And they are more ugly with each new document.

Perhaps the most egregious revelation of all was this: that neocon junta tortured people so that they would 'confess' a lie that Saddam Hussein had ties to al Queda when, clearly, he had none. Waterboarding, sleep-deprivation, slapping, temperature manipulations and other techniques were used over and over again so that one of the Iraqi prisoners would 'confess' that fact to get Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld 'off the hook' for the preemptive invasion. Sorry, but there were no WMD's.

They felt that it was necessary to trash the American image, the Constitution, and our traditions to cover for a terrible error: they concocted their phony pretense for invasion.

Disgusting. Shameful. Outrageous.

Yet, even today, there are some Americans still blinded to all of this, people who continue to mouth the propaganda- like programmed robots- that the Bush Administration fed the public back in 2002.

Nonetheless, a vast majority of Americans see much more clearly these days, now that the miasmic propaganda fog has lifted and the truth comes to light.

We ought to have a commission not only to examine this disgusting data, but another one to examine just how easy it was to fool the American citizens. This ought not to happen again to this nation. Never again.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

If Texas Seceeds Can the Rest of the South Go Too?

They're talking secession in Texas again and the governor is playing along. Glenn Beck got all gooey at the thought. Standing at the Alamo, Beck said, “This is the place – everybody's always heard, you know, 'Draw a line in the sand' – this is where it happened. They drew a line in the sand and said 'Enough is enough.'”

Ah, the wisdom of Glenn Beck! I wouldn't mind if Texas seceded and I would hope that Oklahoma would want to follow along. That would be 4 less GOP senators and a bushel of GOP representatives. A whole sweep of the South would be refreshing and might just move the other 40 states in a whole new, progressive direction.

Hat's off to the '09 secessionists!

When Should We Take Their Guns Away?

Those 'law-abiding citizens' who own guns here in the Land of the Free may be suffering from some form of mental disorder. Here are some statistics which my help define the problem of guns in the hands of mentally i ll citizens:

Personality disorders affect 10-15% of the adult US population. Individuals may have more than one personality disorder. The following are prevalences for specific personality disorders in the general population:*

Paranoid personality disorder - 0.5-2.5%
Schizotypal personality disorder - 3%
Antisocial personality disorder - 3% of men, 1% of women
Borderline personality disorder - 2%
Histrionic personality disorder - 2-3%
Narcissistic personality disorder - Less than 1%
Avoidant personality disorder - 0.5-1%
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder - 1%

* Widiger TA, Sanderson CJ. Personality disorders. In: Tasman A, Kay J, Lieberman JA, eds. Psychiatry. Philadelphia, Pa: Harcourt Brace & Co; 1997:1291-1317

That 'antisocial personality disorder' [ASPD] is quite troublesome and may be a key factor in the gun violence that is played out here in America. Schitotypical disorders add to this problem.

Men, it is to be noted, account for 3% of the ASPD. As America's population is 300,000,000- half men, that would be 3% of 150,000,000 or 450,000 American males. who could be suffering ASPD. When the Schitotypical numbers are added to that, it becomes statistically scary to note the number of mentally ill American men that are in our society.

Some of the common identifiable disorders are: posttraumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depression, psychotic disorder, delusional disorder and schizophreniform disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder impacts males 50-75% more than females. This 'me first' disorder accompanies the 'male privilege' syndrome as well as an exaggeration of their own talents or accomplishments, a sense of entitlement, the exploitation of others a lack of empathy and an arrogant, haughty attitude. These characteristics are found to varying degrees in adolescent males through adulthood. Testosterone, naturally, triggers such emotions and attitudes.

Imagine all of those 'personality' disorders in your neighborhood, down the street, at the mall, at the ball game, in your work place. Men, law-abiding citizens, who are one trigger away from some anti-social behavior. One dirty look, one comment, one gesture away from the tipping point of APSD.

Then there is the gun- the ultimate equalizer. If one of these APSD men finds himself in a situation that he cannot handle, that he cannot tolerate, that he thinks is emasculating, and he has a gun or two, he might find solace, comfort, security in getting his gun and 'solving' the problem.

How many law-abiding American men are one trigger pull away from snapping? Statistically, way-too many.

Those Law-Abiding Citizens

 Ah. that fuzzy 2nd Amendment. Where is the King's Army going to next attack?  To which militia do you belong? Interesting question that the pro-gun folks never answer. Rather, in Dramimine-like fashion, they rattle off something like 'law-abiding citizens' need to defend themselves. Naturally that is true. But just how many assault weapons must one possess in order to be confident that they could withstand a siege by the would-be assailants?

Yesterday one comment from one my regular pro-gun visitors denounced the one-gun per month idea floated by Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell. Apparently 12 guns/year would not adequately defend his castle upon the next siege of the bandits.

Those 'law-abiding citizens' is a cute phrase and oh-so American. As if everyone with a gun is 'law-abiding.' Who determines the law-abiding-status? Well, naturally, the gun owner is law-abiding until he wrongly shoots somebody then he is a murderer or a bank robber.

How about that handsome alleged 'Craigslist killer' who is recalled as a nice, smart boy? Neighbors in his hometown recalled Markoff as the well-behaved child of caring parents, a diligent student who excelled from elementary school through his days in the high school's National Honor Society.

Terry Law, a neighbor on Thurston Street, Markoff's boyhood street, taught Markoff in first grade and remembered, "He was smart, very smart. Good at math and science."

"They found a semiautomatic, they said on TV today," Law said, glumly. "Oh God, he was a skinny, little towhead blond boy in my class," she said.

That law-abiding citizen.

Even though Markoff doesn't seem to fit the profile of a typical killer -- he's a clean-cut medical student who was engaged to be married this summer -- looks can be deceiving.

New York forensic psychologist Michael Welner said that a good education has nothing to do with a person's character.

"So much of crime is about choices," he said. "This is a situation of someone who had everything to lose," and his choices imploded his life.

Welner said Markoff may very well have gotten in over his head during Brisman's alleged murder, "and I think more evidence going to shed light on that."

That law-abiding citizen no longer.

How many other Phillip Markoff's  are 'out there' ready to 'snap' given the right circumstances? As of now they all are law-abiding citizens- tomorrow they could be the next murderer.

Last week a law-abiding Toledo-area man barricaded himself in his home during a standoff with authorities that lasted three hours. Michael Swiergosz, 46, was indicted Tuesday by a Lucas County grand jury. He was charged with two counts of felonious assault, each with firearm specifications.

Authorities said the March 10 incident was sparked by financial concerns. Mr. Swiergosz's home was in foreclosure and had been set for sheriff's sale.  Sheriff's deputies went to the home, just south of Hill Avenue and east of North Centennial Road, on a call of domestic violence and shots fired. Authorities said Mr. Swiergosz fired two shots - one in the ground and one in the air - before deputies arrived. Mr. Swiergosz eventually surrendered to authorities.

Law-abiding citizen no longer.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Guns For Mexico

Gun ban won't stop Mexican drug wars

Sid Salter • • April 19
Congressional Democrats, Obama administration Cabinet members, the Mexican government and no small segment of the American media continue to argue in lamenting the ongoing Mexican drug cartel wars that 90 percent of the weapons used to commit crimes in Mexico come from the U.S.

That out-of-context contention has been debunked. In context, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told Congress that in 2007-2008, Mexico submitted 11,000 guns to the ATF for tracing. About 6,000 were successfully traced. Of the 6,000 guns traced, 5,114 or 90 percent were traced to the U.S.
Rest of the story

But the rest of the story is that the Mexican government has reported that a total of some 29,000 weapons have been actually been recovered at Mexican crime scenes over that same period. Including all those weapons - not just the ones traced by the ATF - 83 percent of the guns found at crime scenes in Mexico were not traced to the U.S.

That fact hasn't stopped the notion of an "iron river of guns" flowing from the U.S. south to Mexico becoming part of the national debate. Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder and a number of other prominent Democratic surrogates have revived talk of renewing the Clinton administration assault weapons ban.

In 1994, Congress approved a decade-long ban on the sale and possession of automatic and semi-automatic weapons, or so-called assault weapons. It expired in September 2004.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell was the latest to join the chorus calling to reimplement the assault weapons ban 11 days after three Pittsburgh police officers were killed by a man with an AK-47.
River of guns?

The notion that taking gun rights away from Americans will somehow stop drug violence in Mexico is absurd. Absurd, too, is the notion that either Mexican drug lords or the aberrant lone gunman in America will be deterred from buying automatic or semi-automatic weapons by a renewal of the Clinton-era gun ban is also absurd.

Under such a renewed ban, Mexican drug lords will simply continue to buy assault weapons on the black market or import them from Russia, China, Spain, South Korea, Guatemala or other willing sellers and go right on killing each other and innocents as well. More U.S. gun control isn't the answer to Mexico's drug violence problems.

Thought this was an interesting comment on gun control in the United States. This
should be good fodder for 'the boys.'

Bishop to Tiffin Franciscan Nuns: End Ministry to Gays and Lesbians

The Bishop of the Toledo Diocese has told the sisters of St. Frnacis, Tiffin, to stop ministering to gays and lesbians.  The religious order was to hold a retreat at their Tiffin convent for these men and women but, when Bishop Leonard Blair got wind of it, he demanded that the event be cancelled.

You may recall from an earlier post that this same conservative bishop has been put in charge of the Nuns' Inquisition.  No doubt, this ministy to the gay and lesbian community will be well noted in his report to the Vatican.  Aparentlly the Catholic Church wants nothing to do with the homosexual community- unless of course they repent of their abomination.

The community of sisters at Tiffin are very socially aware and active.  According to their 'corporate document:'

• the Sisters of St. Francis of Tiffin, Ohio, declare ourselves to be a public sanctuary for Central
American refugees.

• All corporate holdings of the Sisters of St. Francis are established as nuclear free.

• “The Sisters of St. Francis of Tiffin, Ohio, declare solidarity with our immigrant sisters and brothers, convinced that we are all equal in God’s eyes, and therefore, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. We oppose any legislation which denies benefits to documented immigrants or prevents undocumented immigrants from obtaining education, jobs, health care and access to social services.”

• “We, the Sisters of St. Francis of Tiffin, Ohio, will use both our energies and our resources to close the School of the Americas.

• “Because of our belief in the sanctity of life, and in support of life’s value from its beginning to its natural end, we, the Sisters and Associates of St. Francis of Tiffin, Ohio, join with the United Nations and international and national governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as churches of many faiths, to oppose the death penalty by supporting the Moratorium 2000.”

• We, the Sisters and Associates of St. Francis of Tiffin, Ohio in keeping with our position of
nonviolence and respecting the inherent dignity of each person, corporately stand in support of
human rights by explicitly opposing the trafficking of women and children for the purposes of
sexual exploitation and forced labor.

It is clear from these positions that the Sisters of St. Francis are a dangerous and divisive organization that must be closely monitored by the male clergy in the Vatican.

Dopey John Boehner- It's Not the Cow Farts!

The ever-dopey man-tanned House minority leader said Sunday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos that cow farts do not add that much CO2 to the atmosphere to raise temperatures in the global warming scenario.  He was ardently defending the dairy farmers of Preble County, Ohio, part of his 8th Ohio district. They, too, feel that their 'girls' have been badly maligned in this CO2 stink.

"George, the idea that carbon dioxide," said the well-tanned waxed figure, "is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment- it's almost comical. Every time we exhale we've got carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, that does what it does you got more carbon dioxide."

Boehner's logic is stunning and his scientific acumen is beyond reproach! Cows and humans have existed for thousands of years, they farting, we exhaling [yet not farting], but only recently have global temperatures risen. Therefore, cows and humans are not contributing to global warming.

...does it all have to do with his last name?

Rove: Constitution, Christianity “one generation from going away”

It was a scene reminiscent of a Marx Brothers film; only the faces were changed to protect the Marx family. There sat the ever-righteous Karl Rove next to the stoic, mustached neocon John Bolton as guests on Fox's Glenn Beck Show. The subject matter, of course, 'We're going to hell in a hand basket with Obama in the WH!'

[by the way, if you know of an ABD psychology student, suggest that he/she do a study of the 'typical' Fox viewer- great study in group lunacy, for sure.]

The very depressed and angry right-wing, much like alligators, need red meat from time to time in order to survive, and who better to feed the beasts than Karl himself? And so, there he was the other evening, helping with the feeding-frenzy. "All the important things are one generation  from going away. The Constitution is one generation away, Christianity is one generation away, the Constitution is one generation from going away." [note that the Constitution is twice as threatened as Christianity, according to Rove.]

So, there you have it- straight talk from the straight-talker himself. Within one generation, 25 years, America will be a pagan monarchy or dictatorship. I shutter at the thought. My youngest grandson will be only 30 when this cataclysmic event will occur! I't hard to imagine him living as a serf in a godless fiefdom.

Pray! We must pray to the Almighty that this Nostradamus-like foretelling by the soothsayer-in-chief will not occur. Click your ruby slippers! Burn incense! Sacrifice a fatted lamb! Vote Republican!

Former astronaut: "We're not alone in the universe!"

(CNN) -- Earth Day may fall later this week, but as far as former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell and other UFO enthusiasts are concerned, the real story is happening elsewhere.

Former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, shown in 1998, says "there really is no doubt we are being visited."

Former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, shown in 1998, says "there really is no doubt we are being visited."

Mitchell, who was part of the 1971 Apollo 14 moon mission, asserted Monday that extraterrestrial life exists, and that the truth is being concealed by the U.S. and other governments.

Mankind has long wondered if we're "alone in the universe. [But] only in our period do we really have evidence. No, we're not alone," Mitchell said.

"Our destiny, in my opinion, and we might as well get started with it, is [to] become a part of the planetary community. ... We should be ready to reach out beyond our planet and beyond our solar system to find out what is really going on out there."

Exactly!  But of course, Christians already believe that we have been visited by extra-terrestrials- angels, spirits and of course, Jesus. All very interesting and, well, spiritual.

Some Christians believe that the Great Big Space Ship will return 'any day now' and load up the 'good' people and whisk them off to never-never land.

How do I get a 'ticket' to that GBSS?  And, by the way, isn't it a bit late?  You know, if the GBSS were a commercial airlines, it would be out of business by now with that eternally late problem that it demonstrates.

Seems to me that the disciples of Jesus had their bags all packed and were waiting on the tarmak shortly after Jesus died.  I think that their suitcases are still there- albeit a bit dusty.

Beam me up, Scotty!

Yet Another Mass Shooting

Josh Sugarmann: Washington Post

Monday, April 20, 2009

Toledo Bishop to Head Nun Inquisition

Just when women might have begun to think that the Catholic Church may be on the right track regarding its historical misogynistic policies, that door of optimism slammed shut last week. The Blade reports: "The Vatican has picked Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo to lead a doctrinal investigation into the nation's largest organization of nuns."

Yes, another Inquisition here in the year 2009. When will the church ever learn? Apparently never. The long-standing tradition of a hierarchy of men is apparently too difficult to alter. The good-old boys' club reigns supreme in the halls of the Vatican.

Bishop Leonard Blair is a very conservative bishop who, in his first act as bishop,  removed every woman serving in high office in his diocese and replaced them with men. No doubt that is precisely why The Blade article states: "Some Vatican observers said the selection of the bishop, 60, shows he is highly regarded in Rome."  Additionally, the bishop has mandated uniform rituals throughout the diocese including the order that priests must wear their Roman collars when in public.

"In the eyes of many Vatican officials, he is a promising church leader who has demonstrated competence in other affairs," said Rick Gaillardetz, professor of Catholic studies at the University of Toledo.

Competence apparently equals tough rules and regulations and a hearkening back to the old ways, the pre-Vatican II era. One wonders if quite soon the Catholic nuns will be forced to get back into their medieval clothing.

Bishop Blair will lead a doctrinal investigation of the nuns: the inquiry will look at adherence to Catholic doctrine by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an organization of 1500 nuns across America. Doctrinal investigation. That is a code for witch hunt. The male hierarchy of the church want the nuns to be silent on the most troublesome areas of concern: promoting the ordination of women and "the problem of homosexuality."

That 'problem' of homosexuality' of course does not refer to the nuns but rather to the priests. It is curious that the bishop of the Toledo Diocese was selected as Toledo is/was a major epicenter for child abuse by priests. The film, Twist of Faith, detailed the sex abuse scandal of several Toledo priests in a Catholic high school in Toledo in the 1980's.

Most interesting is the fact that this new Inquisition of the nuns is actually an attempt to shut them up, to silence them from speaking out on the priest abuse scandals. What has irritated the Vatican and prompted this Inquisition is the fact that nuns have 'spoken out' about these problems during nun conferences. The Blade reports, "Some of the speakers may say things that the Vatican doesn't like. Now, every speaker is not going to have the endorsement or imprimatur of the LCWR. They are simply putting on a conference that has a lot of different people with a lot of different views making presentations. What it sounds like is that the Vatican wants these folks censored," Father Reese said.

Thomas Reese of the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University said the appointment "shows obviously that the Vatican has great confidence in him by putting him in charge of this very delicate investigation."

In other words, Fr. Reese knows that Bishop Blair will 'take care' of these nuns and the 'problem' that they have created for the all-male Catholic hierarchy. No doubt, Fr. Reese should be watching his back.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Are Most Right-wingers in the Asperger's Spectrum?

A pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger syndrome is distinguished by a pattern of symptoms rather than a single symptom. It is characterized by qualitative impairment in social interaction, by stereotyped and restricted patterns of behavior, activities and interests, and by no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or general delay in language. Intense preoccupation with a narrow subject, one-sided verbosity, restricted prosody, and physical clumsiness are typical of the condition, but are not required for diagnosis.

I am keenly interested in Asperger Syndrome [AS] and it dawned on me the other day that quite a few characteristics of the disorder seem to mimic the behavior of many on the right side of the political spectrum.

If you personally know a person who is a right-winger, think about the description of the disorder and that person. People with AS report a feeling of being unwillingly detached from the world around them and problems in social interaction with peers. This developmental problem in their abilities to successfully engage in interpersonal relationships has caught my attention. Is this why the right-winger displays signs of narcissism? Is this why they are more interested in their personal gain rather than society in general?

That narcissistic 'me, my mine' trait seems pervasive in those on the far right side of the political spectrum- as if the rest of society does not exist or is not worth caring about.

It's just a hypothesis on my part, but one that may have merit. Please note that I am not dissing those with Asperger's by comparing them to the adult right-wingers.

A Look at God and the Round Table

Here is a most clever round table 'discussion' between God and the angels regarding His 'visit' to earth and what He should do while there.

[thanks to PZ Meyers

Naltrexone for Addiction

Naltrexone (brand names: ReVia, Depade) is a medicine that reduces the desire for alcohol after a person stop drinking. Naltrexone may help a person stay sober for a long time. Although naltrexone may help stop drinking, this medicine is not a complete cure for alcoholism.

CNN has an article on naltrexone. "the credit goes to a prescription medication -- a pill called naltrexone. It's part of a new generation of anti-addiction drugs that may turn the world of rehab on its head.

Dr. Mark Willenbring, who oversees scientific research at the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, says alcoholism has reached a point similar to one depression reached 30 years ago -- when the development of Prozac and other antidepressants took mental health care out of the asylum and put it in homes and doctors' offices.

"There will be a 'Prozac moment,' " Willenbring says, "when primary care doctors start handling functional alcoholics."


It is fairly odd that America spends billions on its sham 'War on Drugs' but tolerates, even encourages alcohol consumption as a way of life. The holidays together with the customary sports rituals are little more than excuses for alcohol abuse.

That proverbial elephant in the living room waves an American flag in its trunk.

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