Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mine. You can't have any....

We've all suspected the results of this study. Everyone's been cut off by that $80,000 Audi or Mercedes. And, of course, if you've paid any attention at all to the culture and political cold war going on in our society, it's plain as the middle-to-lower class nose on your face: The rich are schmucks.

According to a study just released by Bloomberg:
Wealthy More Likely to Lie, Cheat 
“Are society’s most noble actors found within society’s nobility?” 
That question spurred Paul Piff, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at theUniversity of California, Berkeley, to explore whether higher social class is linked to higher ideals, he said in a telephone interview. 
The answer Piff found after conducting seven different experiments is: no. The pursuit of self-interest is a “fundamental motive among society’s elite, and the increased want associated with greater wealth and status can promote wrongdoing,” Piff and his colleagues wrote yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
The “upper class,” as defined by the study, were more likely to break the law while driving, take candy from children, lie in negotiation, cheat to increase their odds of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work, the research found. The solution, Piff said, is to find a way to increase empathy among wealthier people.
Let me repeat that: rich people are more likely to take candy from children. Or, metaphorically speaking, the wealthy right wingers (and many democrats) in Congress are only too happy to deny assistance to those in need. This, I believe, explains everything.
(sources: opensecrets.org and fanpop

More on the study's methods that revealed how the wealthy are challenged when it comes to ethics, but not so much when it comes to being selfish pricks:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Not So Fine Young Cannibals: The spin-free crazy of the Republican Party or How I learned to stop worrying and love the republican debates

Isn't it grand? The clowns have been sent in for our shock and amusement.
I was reading a great piece by Matt Taibbi this morning, and he voiced what I have been saying to friends lately, to wit: These debates are revealing just how clown-car crazy the republican party has become. It's all about fear-mongering and hate of some mythical "other" enemy (basically liberals and pretty much anyone who, in general are "not like us, the real Americans.") But the debates reveal more than that--it's a natural progression that's like one gigantic, national billboard for what the new, unstable, radical right  looks and sounds like. And, in a kind of  creepy way, it's fun to watch them engage in mindless cannibalism.

Here's Taibbi:
"Throughout this entire process, the spectacle of these clowns thrashing each other and continually seizing and then fumbling frontrunner status has left me with an oddly reassuring feeling, one that I haven't quite been able to put my finger on. In my younger days I would have just assumed it was regular old Schadenfreude at the sight of people like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich suffering, but this isn’t like that – it's something different than the pleasure of watching A-Rod strike out in the playoffs. 
No, it was while watching the debates last night that it finally hit me: This is justice. What we have here are chickens coming home to roost. It's as if all of the American public's bad habits and perverse obsessions are all coming back to haunt Republican voters in this race: The lack of attention span, the constant demand for instant gratification, the abject hunger for negativity, the utter lack of backbone or constancy (we change our loyalties at the drop of a hat, all it takes is a clever TV ad): these things are all major factors in the spiraling Republican disaster. 
Most importantly, though, the conservative passion for divisive, partisan, bomb-tossing politics is threatening to permanently cripple the Republican party. They long ago became more about pointing fingers than about ideology, and it's finally ruining them. 
Oh, sure, your average conservative will insist his belief system is based upon a passion for the free market and limited government, but that's mostly a cover story. Instead, the vast team-building exercise that has driven the broadcasts of people like Rush and Hannity and the talking heads on Fox for decades now has really been a kind of ongoing Quest for Orthodoxy, in which the team members congregate in front of the TV and the radio and share in the warm feeling of pointing the finger at people who aren't as American as they are, who lack their family values, who don’t share their All-American work ethic. (source: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/arizona-debate-conservative-chickens-come-home-to-roost-20120223#ixzz1nOoh9dgy)" 
Jon Stewart Has Fun with the Cannibalistic Right.
So wrong. Feels so right
This is your Republican Party. This is your Republican Party on presidential campaign drugs. What the republican debates are really doing is revealing the truth of just how completely radicalized the party has become. From people cheering because Ron Paul would let a man die who had no healthcare coverage to Newt "All your base are belong to us" Gingrich, the leaders of the neo-nutball party are showing the uncertain just how kookoo for krazy puffs the party has become. 

At first, I was kinda freaked out about the new TV series known as the republican debates ("It's just like one, long, non-stop commercial for their shameless, misleading soundbites! This is terrible!"). But then I realized something: There's no spin by Fox during the debate. No sugar-coated, pre-scripting to sum up complex policy issues into easy to digest pills of apocryphal nonsense. It's just plain ughly, bizarre, and unfiltered weirdness--kinda like what a pure free market might be--only in this case, it's the deregulated exchange of hard right crazy talk. No-holds barred, verbal cage fighting by people who probably shouldn't be in charge of a co-op board, let alone president. As a result, the moderate middle is increasingly appalled by the extremist right and the latest gaff or bafoonish quote, and the lazy left is increasingly energized by the litany of republican mad hatters and the anti-human rights policies they are trying to push forth. It's like a playground mud brawl...

Enjoying the Game.
...Meanwhile, Back in Washington, some remain abrove the fray. Obama says nothing; he doesn't get involved. He delivers the occasional speech and goes about the business of the executive office. All the while, letting the crazed, hyperactive children of the right make fools of themselves on a national scale. (The debate the other night was brilliantly sent up by the near perfect Daily Show evisceration "Three Men and and Man Baby"). 

And that's good news for Obama, who comes off increasingly the only normal adult in the room. And with headlines like "Dow at Highest Point Since 2008," and "GM Profits Soar to $3.2 Billion in First Quarter," and with unemployment continuing to inch downward and poll numbers showing he's well in the lead, Obama's gotta be liking his chances against a republican clown car careening down a highway of batshit crazy. If I'm Obama, I gotta be thinking, "Man, you just can't buy this kind of campaign advertising."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

At what point do we call Rick Santorum out of the closet?

Yesterday, Rick Santorum, in response to a gay republican man's inquiry about why he doesn't enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals who are allowed to marry said this:
SANTORUM: You’re not entitled “to special treatment under the law…[Marriage is] not a right, it’s something that has existed since the beginning of human history as an institution where men and women come together for the purposes of forming a natural relationship as God made it to be. And for the purposes of having children and continuing that civilization. It is an intrinsic good…And as a result of that, we extend a privilege. We extend certain privileges to people who do that because we want to encourage that behavior. [...] 
Two people who may like each other or may love each other who are same-sex, is that a special relationship? Yes it is, but it is not the same relationship that benefits society like a marriage between a man and a woman. (source: ThinkProgress)
Hey, I'm not gay. Definitely not gay.
I mean, do I look gay? See? SOOO not gay.
Repressed much? Repressed. Much.  Some argue that some or most people who are homophobic have repressed their own homosexuality. And it's pretty well known that some high-profile people who are vociferously anti-gay are, themselves, pretty freakin' gay--Senator Larry Craig. Evangelical Minister Ted Haggard come immediately to mind.  And don't get me started on the give and take of "sacraments" in the church. Of course, in our short-term memory culture, we um...crap. Where was I? Oh yeah, now I remember:

At what point do we call Rick Santorum out of the closet? 

Yeah, Rick Santorum has to be gay. Why? Well, he doesn't hate gay people as much as he probably hates himself for being gay. What's my evidence other than the fact that soooo many repressed gay men hate the fact that they're gay and then hate gay people because of it?

Gay much? Gay. Much. This is pretty basic stuff, as research conducted in 1996 confirms:

In 1996,  a controlled study of 64 heterosexual men (half said they were homophobic by experience, with self-reported orientation) at the University of Georgia found that men who were found to be homophobic (as measured by the Index of Homophobia) were considerably more likely to experience more erectile responses when exposed to homoerotic images than non-homophobic men.

Well, there's that, and the little known fact that Santorum's own former Chief of Staff is gayNot that there's' anything wrong with that. But why have a gay chief of staff when you hate the gay lifestyle and there are, presumably, plenty of non-gay chief of staff types available? Don't make no damn sense. Unless, you know, you're comfortable working many late nights with your right-hand man hovering over your shoulder working on speeches and, er, position papers and, um, stuff. For 10 years.

Yeah. It's time. Richard? Please, for the sake of everyone, please come clean. And if you can't do that, then please clean up the santorum after you're done, mmkay?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Susan G. Komen Ends Funding to Planned Parenthood due to Political Pressure from the Right

Planned Parenthood recevied $650,000 in 24 hours--almost as much as last year's Susan G. Komen funding.  (Source: WaPo)

Apparently Susan G. Komen has been planning this move for a while:
Sources with direct knowledge of the Koman decision-making process said recent policies were adopted specifically to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. (Source: The Atlantic)

The cold (hearted) war against women in this country continues

The latest salvo against women? Susan G. Komen, the largest breast cancer charity in the country, terminated its breast cancer screening grant assistance to Planned Parenthood. According to Think Progress:
Planned Parenthood Federation of America today expressed deep disappointment in response to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation’s decision to stop funding breast cancer prevention, screenings and education at Planned Parenthood health centersAnti-choice groups in America have repeatedly threatened the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation for partnering with Planned Parenthood to provide these lifesaving cancer screenings and news articles suggest that the Komen Foundation ultimately succumbed to these pressures
“We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure. Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
In the last few weeks, the Komen Foundation has begun notifying local Planned Parenthood programs that their breast cancer initiatives will not be eligible for new grants (beyond existing agreements or plans).
New Race for the Cure VP, Anti-Planned Parenthood Republican
What's interesting about this is that the woman who is now in charge of public policy, Karen Handel, is a former Secretary of State in Georgia who a) was accused of voter registration misconduct and b) had indicated that she was against funding Planned Parenthood. Again, Think Progress:
Komen’s new Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Karen Handel, not only has a long anti-choice history, but pledged to eliminate grants for Planned Parenthood to provide breast and cervical cancer screenings when she ran for governor of Georgia in 2010.
According to America Blog:
Handel Campaigned for Governor in 2010 on Anti-Choice and Anti-Planned Parenthood Platform. In a statement on her campaign website, Handel wrote, “I am staunchly and unequivocally pro-life. I believe in the sanctity and inherent dignity of human life, and I will be a pro-life governor who will work tirelessly to promote a culture of life in Georgia…. I believe that each and every unborn child has inherent dignity, that every abortion is a tragedy, and that government has a role, along with the faith community, in encouraging women to choose life in even the most difficult of circumstances…. since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.” [Karen Handel Campaign Blog, 7/15/10]
Did she help shape this new policy? Hard to know, but the evidence isn't good. It's also quite telling that, as Secretary of State, she was accused of fraudulent behavior by, among others, republicans. According to the democratic candidate for Georgia Secretary of State:

Former Sec. of State of GA
Never Liked Planned Parenthood (or democratic rights).
Ms. Handel’s mishandling of the Secretary of State’s office has gone way beyond incompetence. She crossed the misconduct line by inappropriately using this office to both foster her own political ambitions and to use her authority in the elections oversight process for her party’s political benefit. By stepping down, she not only provides herself with the much needed “flexibility” to continue raising campaign contributions for her gubernatorial campaign during the upcoming Legislative Session, but she also “ducks and dodges” any needs to be totally nonpartisan while conducting fair, objective and competent election oversight duties.
You want some objective analysis of her conduct of the functions of this office? 
• She was slapped down three times by the courts, including a unanimous
decision by the State Supreme Court, for wrongly attempting to remove a Democratic candidate from the 2008 ballot. 
• She was slammed by both the Bush and Obama Justice Departments for attempting to purge voters from being eligible to vote by using voter registration flagging tactics, which unfairly targeted “certain demographics”. 
• During the 2009 legislative session, she was even rebuked by a member of the State Election Board (who also happened to be the Republican Party legal counsel) for going too far in her support of S.B. 86, a bill designed to institute unfair “proof of citizenship” requirements and thereby thwart, yet again, the registration efforts of voters belonging to “certain demographics”. 
• And let’s not forget, she broke the central pledge of her 2006 campaign, to immediately install a verifiable paper trail for the electronic voting machines.
Goodbye Ms. Palin……ah Ms. Handel.
What, exactly, does Planned Parenthood Do? 
The thing is, Planned Parenthood provides the only choice of healthcare for many poor women who have no other access to healthcare. And, of course, it's a myth that they provide mainly abortion assistance--a myth propagated by the very people who apparently have quite a bit of influence on Susan G. Komen. As planned parenthood explains:
We are a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world. Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.
Facts about Planned Parenthood
Source: Planned Parenthood

Take action.

Donate Money. Planned Parenthood is trying to raise money to compensate for the grant assistance no longer being provided by the Susan G. Komen organization. Donate here. Read Planned Parenthood's plea for help here.

Sign the Petition. Credo action has a petition out to gather signatures of outrage. Sign it.

Send a Message Directly to SGK. Contact Planned Parenthood and let 'em know what you think. Click here for their Facebook page. Click here for their website. Oh, and here's their message board thread--go add your voice.