Tag Archives: politics

Notes from the Underground

Here’s a round up of links I wanted to do full posts on, but don’t have time.

1.) Neurogenesis: your body creates new brain cells. Aerobic exercise increases neurogenesis and helps fight mental illnesses (like depression), senility, and Alzheimer’s.

But something else happened as a result of all those workouts: blood flowed at a much higher volume to a part of the brain responsible for neurogenesis. Functional M.R.I.’s showed that a portion of each person’s hippocampus received almost twice the blood volume as it did before. Scientists suspect that the blood pumping into that part of the brain was helping to produce fresh neurons.

The hippocampus plays a large role in how mammals create and process memories; it also plays a role in cognition. If your hippocampus is damaged, you most likely have trouble learning facts and forming new memories. Age plays a factor, too. As you get older, your brain gets smaller, and one of the areas most prone to this shrinkage is the hippocampus. (This can start depressingly early, in your 30’s.) Many neurologists believe that the loss of neurons in the hippocampus may be a primary cause of the cognitive decay associated with aging. A number of studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia tend to have smaller-than-normal hippocampi. The Columbia study suggests that shrinkage to parts of the hippocampus can be slowed via exercise.

2.) I don’t agree with Obama regarding his new call to expand federal aid to faith-based programs, but at least read what he said and don’t rely on media reports:

Now, make no mistake, as someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe this partnership will endanger that idea – so long as we follow a few basic principles. First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we’ll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.

That doesn’t mean that the federal funds can’t be used to free up other money that will be used on discriminatory and proselytizing activities.

3.) Hitchens get’s waterboarded – Is this the Christian fundie wet dream, or are they dissapointed that Dawkins and Harris weren’t tortured as well? Hitchens has been unappolagetic pro-war and a proponent of waterboarding. Now he says, “believe me, it’s torture”.

4.) This MTV Choose or Loose election commercial is funny.

5.) A Christian “news” service changes Olympian Tyson Gay’s name to “Tyson Homosexual”. Ha! Fundies say the darndest things!

6.) Two years out and people still express “disgust” and “outrage” over New Orleans Katrina looters (see this famous pic). Why doesn’t anyone talk about the racist vigilantes? Watch this clip from the excellent Danish documentary Welcome to New Orleans. (Watch the complete film, a story of how self reliance and private citizen volunteerism filled a need medical care needs despite the government’s efforts to stop it, @ Google Vide0.)

Obama will lower your tax bill more than GOP rival McCain

I’m not trying to persuade my McCain supporting reader(s) to vote for Obama. And I know most of my Yahoo friends probably lean towards voting for Senator Obama already. My purpose here is to debunk the myth that Obama wants to tax and spend and McCain will give the average American all sorts of tax breaks. I don’t necessarily care why anyone supports McCain, as long as it’s for honest reasons – in other words, don’t tell me you’re voting against Obama because McCain supports Bush’s tax cuts, unless you’re wealthy.

CNN recently broke down the numbers of both candidates’ tax plans, and based on household income demographics, we glean the following:

  • 97% of taxpayers may see a reduction in income taxes under Obama’s plan; only the wealthiest 1% will see any significant increase in their tax bills.
  • 85% of taxpayers, meaning those earning under $112,000, could take home more under Obama’s plan then McCain’s.
  • 67% of taxpayers, those earning less than $66,000 could take home an average of $500-$700 more per year under Obama’s plan then McCain’s.

Continue reading

How is our government treating our troops?

What has Bush and the Republican administration done for the quality of life of our bravest in recent years?

  • They assured everyone the Iraq war would end in “weeks rather than months”.
  • VA staff ordered to avoid diagnosing returning heroes with PTSD in order to save money! [This is beyond the pale – I get a very visceral, disgusted reaction every time I think about this.]
  • 1,000 Iraq veterans attempt suicide each month. Or at least 1,000 attempts are reported – how many go unreported?
  • 18 military veterans succeed in killing themselves each day, 5 of whom are under the care of the VA.
  • Burdened troops with 3, 4, sometimes 5 deployments to combat.
  • Extended tours from 12 months to 15 months.
  • 60,000 troops who completed contractual obligations have been stop lossed, meaning forced back into involuntary service.
  • Soldiers and families have been forced to buy and ship to Iraq basic equipment like body armor and walkie-talkies because the government was too cheap to spend the money, even though they have no problem spending $800M per week on corrupt contractors.
  • Soldiers lost sign up bonuses because they weren’t valid if the soldier is injured in the first month.
  • Soldiers made responsible for paying for new helmets when old helmets were lost in battle.
  • One soldier who lost his helmet was sued for $12,000, even though he had massive brain damage.
  • Hired contractors like KBR who gouge the soldiers with $45 six-packs of Iraqi-produced coke while providing contaminated water.
  • The wholesale selling out and exploitation of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch with fabricated, pro-administration propaganda for political and recruiting gain.
  • Wounded soldiers being warehoused in the mold-infested crack den-like conditions of Walter Reed.
  • Crippling red tape for wounded soldiers needing medical benefits.
  • Parents draining life’s savings, 401(k)s going dead broke to pay for wounded soldier’s hospital care.
  • Previously healthy young men sent to their wedding severely burned and disfigured.
  • [Added 5/27] “Nearly a third of female veterans say they were sexually assaulted or raped while in the military, and 71 percent to 90 percent say they were sexually harassed by the men with whom they served.”
  • [Added 5/28 ] Service of LGBT folks worthless in the eyes of the Pentagon; two LGBT service members fired each day. But felons are serving in record numbers – who a soldier loves or sleeps with is more important to the brass than a soldier’s character.

What the hell are we asking of these people? Continue reading

Stimulus Check: So I can buy more gas. So I can get myself to work….

Anyone remember this 80s PSA about cocaine?

“I do coke. So I can work longer. So I can earn more. So I can…do more coke.” Ok, so substitute coke with gasoline: “I got my stimulus check. So I can finally afford gas. So I can get myeslef to work. So I can earn more. So I can buy more gas. So I can get myself to work…”

The folks in Washington are just common street pushers. But instead of coke, they push gas and they bribe us to buy it at $4.00 a gallon. Mission Accomplished. Thanks, W!

The Final MLK Post

I got sidetracked this week and I wanted to write a coda to my MLK series; instead, I’ll close in brief. There’s so much material out there, so it will leave me plenty of room for a part 2. Or parts 3, 4, 5, etc. I hope someone learned something and or I slightly changed someone’s view on Dr King.

A freind and I talked about this last week. It’s Robert Kennedy announcing to an Indiana crowd that King had been shot. I’m a little frustrated because I couldn’t find the exact footage I wanted on YouTube, but little is lost in the video below. The thing that sticks out in my mind are those blood-curdling screams of horror when King’s death is announced.

An excerpt:

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

One last thing. Most of you know U2 wrote “Pride (In the Name of Love)” about King – see John Legend’s take in this series’s first post – you may not know they ended the same album, The Unforgettable Fire, with the haunting “MLK”. Listen here.

“Why I’m Opposed to the War in [Insert Nation Here]”

For those of you who may not be familiar with MLK after “I Have a Dream”, it’s often surprising to know he held some radical views. This speech by King, delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967, is called Why I’m Opposed to the War in Vietnam.

King’s anti-Vietnam speeches caused him to be disinvited from the White House and disallowed from giving scheduled college lectures. The mainstream turned it’s back on King and Time magazine rebuked his words as “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi” .

This speech is worth a careful watch or close read; its contemporary relevance is arresting.

Some choice excerpts:

  • Now, I’ve chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal. Continue reading

Today is ther 40th anniversery of MLK’s execution

I want to blog about it, but I short on time right now. Watch this space for further developments.

In the meantime, enjoy this moving mashup of Dr. King and U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)”.Please take a moment to watch carefully and reflect.

UPDATE: OMFG! I just found this video of John Legend singing “Pride” to a civil rights montage promoting an upcoming History Channel special. God damn I love John Legend.