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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1365

PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:52 pm    Post subject: Change Reply with quote

The incoming Obama administration has this site:
http://www.change.gov/
One page in the site is for submitting suggestions:
http://www.change.gov/page/s/yourvision
This is what I just submitted:

I hope to see our country turn from unreason to reason, from ideology to reality.

The Elephant in the room

The Elephant in the room is, of course, the tanked economy created by Republican fantasies, but I know you are already doing everything you can to fix that.

Shine a Light

Establish a task force (committee, commission, working group, board, whatever) with as many people as needed to turn over every rock of unwarranted secrecy hiding malicious acts of the Bush regime. Do realistic evaluations of claims of national security and executive privilege and PUBLISH every discovery that the people of the country need to know about.
This includes secret orders, political overrides of scientific reports, political interventions in civil service (attorneys and more), the farcical "energy policy", changing the Enhance Pollution Agency back into the Environmental Protection Agency, and doubtless many more I've never heard about.
Pay special attention to announcements and news releases timed late in the week to draw the least public attention, which the Bush regime is known to use with especially noxious actions.
Both actions and inactions related to the Endangered Species Act need special review.
Selling out / selling off of America to oil companies (and giveaway leases with too low royalties) also needs special review, especially lands in and near national parks.
Every action that can be rolled back because of failure to follow rules and obey laws should be.
Where possible, use new executive orders to undo damage by executive order and use evidence of interference to undo regulatory messes. On science, try to find the original pre-tampering versions of reports and issue them as corrections.
Help Congress as needed to pass laws to prevent the kind of partisan abuses of the last 8 years. It may be impossible to completely eliminate them, but it should be possible to make such abuses more difficult.

Emphasize Ethics

Help restore the lost moral compass of America by serving as a good example. Encourage ALL segments of society (politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, business people, workers, media creators, etc.) to consider ethical issues: is a contemplated action good for people or not?

Handle the heat

Establish energy and climate policies that deal with the real threats of limited oil resources and human-caused global warming.

Untie the Gag

Restore science and reason to birth-control policies. Get rid of the global gag rules and the witless abstinence-only sex education policies. Establish policies that acknowledge real human nature (people WILL have sex no matter what you say). Point out that good access to birth control (condoms, pills, IUDs, etc.) is the best way in the world to reduce abortion rates.
Do everything possible to remove other barriers to women's rights to choose to control their own bodies. I can't understand anyone with daughters doing otherwise.

Culture Stem Cells

Remove the Bush barriers to stem cell research. In vitro fertilization techniques already discard or destroy thousands of embryos and nobody says anything about it. The Bush research ban is pure bullshit. All it does is hurt American progress in science and medicine.

Improve Infrastructure

Establish government jobs programs (a la F. D. Roosevelt) to start repairing and/or upgrading all the roads, railroads, bridges, dikes, levees, dams, canals, aqueducts, pipe networks, power networks, telecom networks, water supplies/systems, sewer systems, public buildings, courthouses, museums, libraries, schools, hospitals, national park facilities, airports, air traffic control networks, launch facilities, satellites (weather, Earth resources, communications, GPS, etc.) and any other infrastructure that has been degrading from years of neglect. Include all fleets of vehicles: military and civilian, on water, in air and on ground.

Abolish Prohibition

The current "war on drugs" is a horrific idiocy. Apparently nobody learned anything from the 20th Century alcohol Prohibition. Decriminalize all drugs. Establish REGULATIONS (consumer protection, quality control) and TAXES for all drugs so they become a source of jobs and government revenue instead of a source of crime and ever-growing prison populations that remove potential workers from the population and are a huge drain on state budgets. Eliminate the source of drug cartel money and you will also hugely benefit Mexico, which is being destroyed by drug money due to existing American policy stupidity. You might also remove a huge revenue source of the Taliban. This should appeal on public health, crime reduction, economic and national security grounds.

Speaking of Wars

Frankly, Bush & co. have gotten America into such a mess in Iraq & Afghanistan that I have no idea how you can fix anything quickly. I just wish you luck and hope you can find advisors who face facts instead of deciding based on ideology.

Value Veterans

The current treatment of veterans hurt by the actions of this administration is another disgrace. Fix the Veterans Administration and Veterans Hospitals to eliminate unconscionable delays and denials of treatment and benefits. Make sure MENTAL health treatment also gets fixed. Add civilian retraining to the standard procedures for ALL personnel leaving military service. Why should we expect people trained to deadly hyper-alertness to shed that training without counter-training?

Fix the Franchise

Encourage states that still deny the right to vote to ex-prisoners to fix their laws.

Expose Earmarks

Make stealth inserts into legislation like the Gramm deregulation that helped lead to the current market mess impossible. Require full disclosure of all earmarks and other inserts by individual legislators. Allow no changes to bills after they are reviewed & approved.

Heal Health care

Look at the real world examples of countries with national health systems and build from their experience. Eliminate the whole layer of private insurance that adds no value but adds a lot of costs and complexity. Establish a national health care system that is truly universal, leaving nobody out.

Really fix Social Security

Publish studies showing what nonsense the privatizers are promoting. Eliminate the income cap on Social Security deductions.

Aim Audits

Fix the staffing shortage of IRS auditors and aim audits at the big money. Audit all personal returns and all businesses with gross income over thresholds established by study. Establish a rule to ALWAYS audit any company that lobbies the government on the theory that if they look for special privileges they may feel entitled to cheat on taxes too.

Tackle Tax laws

Try to simplify the tax code from the current Byzantine labyrinthine complexity. A flat tax with no exemptions or exceptions or deductions may not be possible, but the current tax code is ridiculous.

Enforce Executive Compensation rules

Require that ANY company getting ANY government money from contracts, bailouts, special tax benefits, special laws, etc. have rules limiting executive pay to a small multiple of lower employee pay, with NO golden handshakes/parachutes/etc. If a COMPLETELY PRIVATE company wants to reward greed, fine, but NOT any company that gets ANY benefit from the government. Tax exempt status is also a benefit. If at all possible, apply the same requirement to ANY company that lobbies. If they feel they can tell the government what to do then they are not just a private company and can expect the government to tell them what to do.
If at all possible, enforce executive RESPONSIBILITY. Establish laws to recover assets from executives who can be proven responsible for losses at companies with government involvement, especially any getting bailouts.

Reinforce Regulators

Add the staff needed for regulators and inspectors to do their jobs and fix the culture at all regulatory agencies so they start doing their jobs rather than ignoring the rules they are supposed to be enforcing. Regulators need to oversee, not overlook.

Educate about the Environment

Too many people seem to ignore the importance of environmental thinking. Anyone with any decent expected lifespan or with any children needs to pay attention to what human actions are doing to the survivability of Earth. Everyone needs to understand the consequences of wasteful or careless choices (driving gas-guzzlers, wasting power, etc.).

GOOD trade

Make sure all trade agreements enforce worker, environment and consumer protection rules.

Respect Laws and Borders

Repudiate the Bush doctrines that have made American behavior an international disgrace. Respect the sovereign borders and laws of all countries. Respect international laws and treaties. Respect AMERICAN laws that have been trampled in recent years.

Terminate Torture

This is almost a subset of respecting laws, but deserves separate attention. Restore the morals and ethics of America as a country that does not practice torture (under any renaming). Not just by military and law enforcement, also by all secret agencies. Include a ban on the practice of dumping people on other regimes that practice torture (extraordinary rendition).

Liberate Civil Liberties

Undo the Bush regime erosion of American civil liberties. Stop all illegal and secret surveillance programs.

Banish Guantanamo Bay

Close the prison camp. That a prison camp exists under American control is an international disgrace. Didn't we learn anything in World War II?

Control Arms

See if the Bush push of highly questionable missile defense systems can be undone. See how many arms control treaties can be rescued from Bush regime scuttling. Start new rounds of arms control negotiations if needed.

Prevent Prejudice

Strengthen laws and regulations against prejudice. Maybe America has finally matured enough to pass an Equal Rights Amendment that forbids discrimination based on ANY inherent (or at least partly inherent) characteristic or involuntary personal history: race, gender, gender identity, gender preference, height, weight, hair color, eye color, handicaps, vision, hearing, national origin, previous conditions of servitude, victimization by crime (e.g., rape), etc. NO service may include discrimination not inseparable from the nature of the service. (E.g., obstetric/gynecological services are limited by nature to women, prostate exams to men.) NO employer may discriminate in hiring except when the criterion is inseparable from ability to perform the work. (E.g., fitness requirements for some police or firefighting jobs, reaction times for pilots or air traffic controllers.) The inseparability must be obvious and stand up to comparison to similar work at different employers. If a requirement is mental rather than physical, it must be measurable with a recognized achievement test that can be checked by third parties.
Like executive compensation, this needs to apply to ANY organization that gets ANY government benefit, including (especially?) tax-exempt status.

Improve Immigration

America is a nation of immigrants and needs to remember that and start valuing immigrants again. Fix the current messy immigration restrictions and quotas and special exceptions and appeals and denials and years-long snarls of red tape. This will probably take a task force to sort out, but we really need to completely rewrite immigration policies.

Control Guns

Restore national gun control laws that have been gutted in recent years. See the Brady Campaign site for lots of info. The U.S. gun death rate is a disgrace.

Really Protect Consumers

The Bush bunch blocked universal testing of all cows for mad cow disease on spurious grounds. Undo that and establish comprehensive testing so consumers who eat beef are really protected.
All food safety inspection in America is horribly understaffed. Bring staffing up to the levels needed for good inspections.
The FDA needs both more staff and a better separation from drug companies.
Many other consumer protection agencies are also badly understaffed and need to be built up to effective levels.

Educate

Fix the "No Child Left Behind" mess, which is currently rigged with many ways to fail and pushes teaching to tests instead of teaching clear or innovative thinking. We need flexible thinkers, not organic robots.

Bank Benefits?

Determine whether the postsecondary Federal financial aid system needs parallel loan systems. Is there any benefit to taxpayers or to students from the bank-based Family Federal Education Loan program compared to the Direct Loan program? Does FFEL add any value for anyone but banks?
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Sterling_95



Joined: 04 Oct 2008
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark, with all due respect, you've written up a list that looks great on paper, but is simply unworkable due to time/expense/complications, or all 3. The issues are not as simple as this plan would suggest, and the timing on some of these is questionable

Quote:
the tanked economy created by Republican fantasies


It would be nice if it were that easy. However, every financial report that I have read traces the beginning of this crisis to the Clinton era, and while Democratic insistence on subsidizing loans to people who cannot afford it may not have been the main precipitating factor, it certainly did not help. And let's face it - we are a nation that lives beyond its means sometimes. I worked in social work and there were families who supposedly could not fed their children, yet had flat screen TVs in the bedroom.

Your shine the light program have several difficulties.

1. Expense of establishing a non-partisan committee that would document, publish, research and trace every supposed malfeasance. Let's face it - the primary purpose of this committee would be to play the blame game and right now, we simply cannot afford it
2. This would cause ill will from the Republican party and possibly moderates. Obama ran on a campaign of hope and unification. McCain ran on division and distinguishing himself from the other candidate. Guess who won?
3. The security issues, cross party line issues (the PATRIOT act was voted for by a majority of senators, not only Republicans), ethical issues, shall I go on?
4. It is an almost unwritten rule of bosses that you do not start out your term by blaming everything on the man who just vacated office. That's usually a sign of someone who has a superiority complex and doesn't understand the concept of workplace loyalty

Quote:
Every action that can be rolled back because of failure to follow rules and obey laws should be.


Like the gay marriages that violated existing law at the time? There is, and will always be bending of rules and failure to obey laws in certain situations.

Quote:
Help Congress as needed to pass laws to prevent the kind of partisan abuses of the last 8 years. It may be impossible to completely eliminate them, but it should be possible to make such abuses more difficult.


Sorry, Mark, but when it benefits them, the party in power can and will take advantage of partisan laws. Look at campaign finance laws, which were meant to prevent bought elections. McCain abided by them, but Obama went outside them because it benefited him to do so. Politicians are essentially paid to know which way the wind is blowing so expecting integrity from them may be asking for too much.

Quote:
Help restore the lost moral compass of America by serving as a good example. Encourage ALL segments of society (politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, business people, workers, media creators, etc.) to consider ethical issues: is a contemplated action good for people or not?


How? And "good" in the short term, or in the long term? "Good" for our people, or for people overseas?

Quote:
Establish energy and climate policies that deal with the real threats of limited oil resources and human-caused global warming.


A recent publication by the University of Edinburgh suggests that global cooling may be the real issue and focus on human caused global warming may be a red herring, given the over-focus on greenhouse gases, which may be offsetting the cooling effect by helping to trap heat in the atmosphere.

Quote:
Point out that good access to birth control (condoms, pills, IUDs, etc.) is the best way in the world to reduce abortion rates.


Not necessarily. China and Canada both lack abstinence only programs and offer good family planning programs, yet both have fairly high abortion rates. It's 35 per 1000 in Canada and in Hong Kong - probably the most developed, Westernized area of China - the abortion rate is 29.4%, over 1/4 of the entire population.

The sad, but unavoidable fact is that people will often choose what is convenient and easy, and abortion is more often than not used as a form of back up birth control. Despite the generous welfare support system for teen mothers, and focus on sex ed, abortion rates fro the UK jumped 2.1% in recent years, while abortion rates for the US are supposedly at the lowest levels since Roe vs Wade.

Now, I'm from Hong Kong, and while I'd love to blame our abortion rates on poverty, ignorance, etc, a lot of it is women playing whack a mole with their progeny. When the first IV fertilization clinic opened, there was a mad rush from perfectly healthy women, who were fertilized repeatedly until they got the boy that they wanted. If the baby was a girl, they got an abortion. Still others got abortions because they didn't want to ruin their figures. An enormous number of women have C-sections despite the medical risks, because they want the birth scheduled and as easy as possible.

You say
Quote:
Do everything possible to remove other barriers to women's rights to choose to control their own bodies.


Which sounds nice, but at some point, we're talking about another life here, and it's about someone's else's body as well as theirs. Should women be able to abort right up to the day of delivery? In partial birth abortion, they're literally aborting at the time of delivery.

Improving infrastructure could be difficult because regulations and safety laws are tougher since the time of FDR and the New Deal. Nowadays, laborers need to be skilled and trained for specific areas, and have a good background in engineering, math, etc.

On Prohibition: Even Europe, which is much more lax than us, has not legalized all drugs. Amsterdam, the land of pot cafes, has fairly strict drug rules regarding all other illegal substances. There's reasons for this. Amsterdam is also discussing revising their cannabis laws, because a lot of countries are treating Amsterdam as their dumping grounds - they go there to get trashed, act crazy and then go home to behave like law abiding citizens

On health care - the biggest problem is going to be keeping this universal health care from turning into the HMO from hell. HMOs are run the way they are because they are cost efficient, and with universal health care, affordability and availability, not quality, will be the main concerns

Preventing prejudice - the idea of total objectivity is a myth. Asking someone to forbid discrimination based on any involuntary personal history is asking them to not be human. A law like this is asking for lawyers to line up, handing out cards that say "SUE". Heck, Jphn McCain could be the first to sue under such a law, given that age discrimination played a role, that Barack Obama benefited from his mixed race heritage, that he was discriminated against due to involuntary personal history (the knee jerk reactions of "not another Bush") and that he had a longer record of public service than Obama.

This is getting long, so I'll wrap up, but in short, Mark, I applaud your ideals, but be prepared for very few of them to actually work out[/quote]
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1365

PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did not submit my thoughts with any expectation that everything I mentioned will be addressed. In years of teaching and learning I have seen repeated confirmation that a person can hear a point or issue addressed many times without getting it until suddenly one particular presentation or phrasing works for them and they get the point. I wrote up each issue I thought about for several days after reading about the change.gov web site on the faint chance that my mention of even one of the issues might be the key trigger to start someone working on a solution. In all honesty I have no way of knowing whether anything I wrote will get beyond some first-level reader at the site, but even the chance that even one issue will be addressed sooner because I wrote makes it worth taking time to write. I encourage ANYONE who thinks anything in the country could be improved to take the time to submit suggestions, not just to complain later if nobody addresses that concern.
As for not addressing failures of predecessors, that sounds like a really stupid tradition. I recall more than one novel that emphasizes the importance of a new officer taking a full inventory and getting a full assessment of a new command so they don't get blamed and/or billed for problems created before they took command. I see no virtue in sweeping screw-ups under the rug or not showing who screwed up.
Deregulation as a virtue was the Republican fantasy I was referring to. And recall that the Congress was Republican-controlled for most of the Clinton administration.
I use "good" in the simple utilitarian sense of the greatest good for the greatest number, applying it to ALL life on Earth (hence my mention of environmental concerns).
As a man with no SO I don't really want to get into an extended argument about abortion, but please don't insult my intelligence with straw men. The use of abortion in countries outside the U.S.A. is affected by LARGE cultural differences that makes comparisons to the U.S.A. invalid and that description of so-called "partial birth" abortion (a label created by opponents) is, AFAIK, incorrect. In the U.S.A., making birth control more accessible helps.
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Sterling_95



Joined: 04 Oct 2008
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
As for not addressing failures of predecessors, that sounds like a really stupid tradition. I recall more than one novel that emphasizes the importance of a new officer taking a full inventory and getting a full assessment of a new command so they don't get blamed and/or billed for problems created before they took command. I see no virtue in sweeping screw-ups under the rug or not showing who screwed up.


Novels are novels i.e. fiction. Like it or not, when you invest a great deal of time in energy in inventorying the mistakes of others, you end up being a reactionary instead of a reformer. While I do believe that you should address the failures of your predecessor, do it through applying solutions, not through accusation and public flogging. Any person in charge of hiring will tell you that a job interviewee trashes their previous/current employer, they will not be hired because it shows that the person has no loyalty and will play the blame game rather than work with others

Quote:
I use "good" in the simple utilitarian sense of the greatest good for the greatest number, applying it to ALL life on Earth (hence my mention of environmental concerns).


If that's the case, then what's wrong with Guantanomo Bay? The rights of a few dozen people vs the safety of numerous people and countries. And even if they're innocent, more "good" is done if they are dead than if they are alive More resources for the rest of us, one less carbon footprint on this earth, fewer species to be killed, fertilization for the ground. And so forth. The problem with a "for the greater good" hypothesis is often the same as an "end justifies the means" hypothesis; you're relying on a speculation that can only be verified in the future

Quote:
please don't insult my intelligence with straw men. The use of abortion in countries outside the U.S.A. is affected by LARGE cultural differences that makes comparisons to the U.S.A. invalid


It annoys me that in bringing a non-American viewpoint into an argument, I am automatically accused of straw men and invalid comparisons. The implication here is: "You are a foreigner and you don't understand Americans, so go away." I have lived here for over 10 years, and I am quite aware that other countries are different from the US; I am addressing your point of better birth control lowering abortion rates. But if you insist on using on American-centric cases, I suggest that you look at studies such as Cahn and Carbone on teen pregnancy rates. While areas with access to better birth control are likely to have lower teen pregnancy rates, they have higher abortion rates, because in their families, extramarital sex is treated as normal, while out of wedlock pregnancy is seen as shameful and unacceptable.

As for partial birth abortion, according to Gonzales vs Carhart 2007, the procedure requires the doctor to pull one or both legs out of the birth canal, so for intents and purposes, there is at least a partial delivery. Here's the exact language from both the American Pregnancy Association and Dilation and Extraction for Late Second Trimester Abortion (Martin Haskell, MD)

With a lower extremity in the vagina, the surgeon uses his fingers to deliver the opposite lower extremity, then the torso, the shoulders and the upper extremities. (Haskell, September 13, 1992)

The fetus is rotated and forceps are used to grasp and pull the legs, shoulders and arms through the birth canal. A small incision is made at the base of the skull to allow a suction catheter inside. The catheter removes the cerebral material until the skull collapses. Then the fetus is completely removed. (http://americanpregnancy.org/unplannedpregnancy/surgicalabortions.html retrieved November 29, 2008)
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LisaW



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 173

PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of all things, expecting any real "change" of an administration that is filled with longtime US Senators and Clinton Retreads, advocating economic jobs policies that were "current" during the 1930's era, is an empty expectation.

The extent of the "change" you'll find is what is in your pockets. Don't expect for it to be added to any time soon. Mr Obama has already started campaigning for his next term by stating there isn't a quick fix, it won't be done in a year, probably not done in 4 years ....[/i]
_________________
"The White House isn't the place to learn how to deal with international crisis, the balance of power, war and peace, the economic future of the next generation." --- Joe Biden, 1988
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1365

PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm finally caught up enough from a work-related conference to take the time for a longer response.

People have both good & bad aspects to their natures. Human attitudes, attributes, thoughts, emotions and actions include activism, altruism, benevolence, bravery, brilliance, caring, celebration, charity, conservation, creativity, delight, dynamism, energy, excitement, faith, flexibility, foresight, freedom, friendliness, generosity, gentleness, giving, happiness, healing, health, heroism, honesty, hope, humanitarianism, impartiality, independence, innocence, inspiration, integrity, intelligence, joyfulness, justice, kindness, learning, logic, love, loyalty, maturity, moderation, modesty, nurture, objectivity, openness, optimism, peace, philanthropy, pluralism, probity, provident, prudence, public service, questioning, rationality, reason, responsibility, selflessness, self-mastery, tenacity, tenderness, thoughtfulness, tolerance, usefulness, vigor, wisdom, and zest. The human range of expression also includes abuse (child, sexual, spousal, elder), addiction, apathy, avarice, avidity, bias, blackmail, brutality, cheating, close-mindedness, compulsiveness, corruption, cowardice, criminality, cupidity, decrepitude, dependency, depression, despair, destructiveness, dishonesty, dogmatism, envy, ethnic cleansing, extortion, fatigue, fear, foolishness, fraud, genocide, gluttony, greed, guilt, hate, idiocy, illogic, immaturity, improvidence, injustice, irrationality, irresponsibility, jealousy, jingoism, kidnapping, knavery, malevolence, mental illness, miserliness, misery, murder, obsession, oppression, pessimism, prejudice, psychosis, quislings, rape, rationalizing, rigidity, scapegoating, self-centeredness, selfishness, sickness, slave-holding, slothfulness, sociopathy, stinginess, stupidity, thievery, thoughtlessness, torture, treachery, tyranny, unreason, uselessness, usury, vandalism, vanity, venality, villainy, violence, war, and wastefulness.

The art of good government is to supply services and try to find a balance between freedoms and restrictions. (One very simplified description: parametric free will, or "My right to swing my fist stops where your face starts.") Government regulation & oversight is an attempt to rein in some of the bad in people without blocking too much of the good. No system of oversight is foolproof. The phrase "quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" ("who will guard the guards themselves?" or "who will watch the watchmen?") shows that the problem has been known for a couple thousand years (and almost certainly much longer). Internal oversight and checks and balances within government are attempts to rein in the bad within government. Whether or not one believes that regulatory oversight is good depends, at least in part, on whether one believes that it is possible to have honest and unbiased and uncorrupted regulators or a system that approximates integrity.

One needs to know where one is now to plan to get somewhere, so a full assessment of anything a new executive takes charge of is very much in order. (In some of my more technical programming I work with a technique called numerical integration. It does great orbital calculations IF the starting values are correct. Bad starting values produce garbage.) It isn't as simple as placing blame--if you don't know what has been done it is much harder to fix things, and so much Bush regime action was cloaked in secrecy that the veil of secrecy must be torn away to find out where the country stands in many areas. See the current market mess with billions (or trillions) of dollars of uncertainty about the extent of bad assets. The whole financial bailout is a flailing-around mess because nobody even yet has a clear picture of how much red ink is hidden in the unregulated markets and the infamous instruments of financial destruction, plus who knows how much outright fraud like the recently revealed $50,000,000,000.00 Ponzi scheme. A full audit of the entire U.S. government and financial system and largest industries is an impossible ideal, and even audits can miss a lot of problems, but the closest manageable approximation to full knowledge that can be achieved is desirable.

Scientists are human, with all the good & bad attributes mentioned above. The scientific ideal is objective and self-correcting, but IRL there are some scientists with an agenda who deliberately slant results by choices of methodology and data. Any time one or a few scientists differ from the majority you have to ask whether the outliers are pioneers who will be vindicated after a new scientific revolution or old kings trying to hold back the tide. In addition to a few slanting scientists, there are a lot of other people who take scientific results out of context or flat-out distort them to further agendas.
I classify deniers of global warming in the same camp as deniers of evolution: letting belief override overwhelming evidence. This is the same #@#@ Bush used to delay action on climate for 8 years. In the century and a half (150th anniversary next year) since Charles Darwin published "On the Origin of Species", science has added Mendelian genetics and many refinements of genetic knowledge through the identification of DNA and RNA as molecules recording and transcribing genetic information and through current technology mapping many complete genomes. Despite the overwhelming evidence for evolution and natural selection, there are still large segments of modern society that refuse to accept it because it threatens their religion. Though developed over only decades rather than a century and a half, the evidence for anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change due to emissions of greenhouse gasses is approaching the same strength as the evidence for evolution, yet deniers still keep fighting it. The more action is delayed the worse the problem gets.
The Teaching Company offers courses on these topics. A couple good ones I have listened to are The Theory of Evolution: A History of Controversy by Larson and Earth's Changing Climate by Wolfson.
Most of the recent vaccine-phobic subculture also comes from poor science, though this area doesn't have as much evidence as evolution or climate change. The danger of vaccine avoidance is that it not only puts the unvaccinated children at risk, as the percentage of the population not vaccinated against any disease increases it puts the entire population at risk of new epidemics. The superstitions of a few endanger all.

On the abortion debate, my personal dividing line is late enough in development for a viable birth. Anything before that is a parasite that might develop into a person but isn't there yet.
The straw man I referred to was talking about late term abortions (which few people approve of except to save the life of the mother) as a stand-in for all abortions (as if late term were the only kind, when most abortions are early). My objection to cross-cultural abortion comparisons is that some cultures have such strong historical gender biases that they have even practiced infanticide, so I don't think comparing their attitudes to attitudes in the U.S.A. is valid.
I searched for Cahn and Carbone references. In the first several links I found nothing about abortion rates, just more confirmation of my point. An example quote: "The reality is that red states have higher teen pregnancy rates, more shotgun marriages and lower average ages of marriage and first births than blue states." I also did not find confirmation of the other abortion increase claims in several obvious searches, though I did find this interesting page (a study from about a decade ago):
http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/25s3099.html
<<
If effective contraceptive use is widespread, abortion rates can be very low even in countries where fertility is low and where the rate of sexual activity among unmarried women is high. The lowest documented abortion rates are in Belgium and the Netherlands, countries that rely on contraception to maintain low fertility. In both countries, abortion services are provided without charge to the woman, and abortion is legal under broad conditions.
One developing country, Tunisia, also has a low abortion rate even though abortion is legal under broad conditions during the first trimester and the TFR is low (2.9 lifetime births per woman). The example of Tunisia suggests that in developing as well as developed countries, good family planning services and a high level of contraceptive use can lead to low abortion incidence. Likewise, decreases in contraceptive use can result in higher abortion rates, as occurred in England and Wales and Norway after the negative publicity about third-generation pills in October 1995. Earlier pill scares in England and Wales and the Netherlands were also reflected in higher abortion rates.
>>
This is more confirmation for the premise the more or better contraception reduces abortion rates.
The quote below is from http://www.siecus.org/ > Research Reports > March 2008 > "National Data Shows Comprehensive Sex Education Better at Reducing Teen Pregnancy than Abstinence-Only Programs":
<<
In particular, the authors found that receiving information about birth control in formal sex education was associated with a 50% lower risk of teen pregnancy when compared to receiving information only on abstinence. It also confirmed that talking to young people about birth control does not lead to increased sexual activity or higher STD rates as many critics of comprehensive sexuality education continue to claim.
>>
Read the site for a more complete description of the limits of the study which suggest that the 50% lower figure is probably improved by good sex education.
Here is a different site with a similar conclusion:
http://www.apa.org/releases/sexeducation.html

Claiming McCain's electoral loss as resulting from prejudice misinterprets what I said. Party affiliation (and the resulting tarring with the Bush brush) is voluntary personal history, not involuntary personal history. Political party membership, like religious affiliation, is often inherited, but people can change it so it is not fully involuntary. Addictive behavior such as alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction, sex addiction, etc., is more iffy since control of many addictions is difficult if not impossible.

Murder, brutality and oppression dehumanize the oppressors at the same time as they harm the victims, so I don't agree with the "better killed" premise regarding Guantanamo inmates. (I would have no problem with a permanent end to the death penalty, but I also would approve of an end to all laws against suicide and assisted suicide. IOW, my position is that each competent person should control their own life. This is a broader version of letting women control their own bodies.) For me, "good" includes QUALITY of life (liberty, pursuit of happiness, clear conscience), not just QUANTITY. (In fact, too much population leads to many reductions in the quality of individual lives.) Abortion tied to genetic screening for inherited defects gets into this issue. I am tempted by the idea (which I don't expect to ever see implemented IRL) of requiring every opponent of birth control to put up the money to support for life every extra child born because of their opposition. I wonder how fast the opposition would vanish.
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CD



Joined: 15 Sep 2007
Posts: 665
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
I am tempted by the idea (which I don't expect to ever see implemented IRL) of requiring every opponent of birth control to put up the money to support for life every extra child born because of their opposition. I wonder how fast the opposition would vanish.


That is a great idea, Mark.

I can't really see how you could seriously argue one side and yet not argue the other: to say that having an abortion is an issue of public concern whereas the resulting child is not. It seems to my eyes that many of the same people who are anti-abortion tend to be those who are anti benefits/welfare, disapprove of pre-marital sex and those giving birth outside marriage, and pro-death penalty. And that's not just in America.

If you are anti-abortion, then to be consistent you need to put your money and attitudes where your mouth is and make sure there is a system of both financial/practical and emotional/societal support for the mothers and the resultant children being born. The lack of those types of support are the main reasons women have abortions. I can't think that many women do it for a lark or because pregnancy ruins their figures. In some countries such as China, women may do it in order to give birth to a son but again, that's due to the extreme societal pressures to bear a son coupled with China's "One child" policy. Banning abortion is not exactly going to address that issue.

And my pet peeve, if you're anti-abortion due to religious reasons and/or belief in the sanctity of life, then for God's sake (literally), you should also be against the dealth penalty. To be fair, most of the people I know personally who are anti-abortion do hold those views but I've met a fair few who have not.

I've had many many discussions with friends and colleagues on the rights/wrongs of abortion but my opinion is that whether or not you agree with it, in terms of practicality and public health banning abortion is simply not a serious option. I've seen the results in countries where abortions are either illegal or simply out of the reach of most women, and they're not pretty. When you've seen a woman beed to death after having tried through other means to induce a miscarriage because she and her husband knew they could barely feed the 6 children they already had, rights and wrongs of making abortion available is the last thing on your mind. Then you're talking about poverty and lack of available choices.

Sticking to developed/rich countries, Ireland is the only developed country I can think of where abortion is still illegal. They do, however, "allow" women to travel to the UK to have an abortion - a friend of mine did so and it was hellish for her not only going through the pain of having the abortion but also being treated like an immoral slut for doing so. And she was lucky as she was able to borrow the USD10k that it cost. An Irish midwife I know who is a stanch Catholic said that after seeing the results of so many home/backstreet abortions ending up in the emergency ward, she advocated for the legalisation of abortion despite her faith.

Yes, teach people to be more responsible with sex and contraception, teach them about the importance and sanctity of life, and the responsbilities of bringing another life into the world. But keep the right to choose.
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LisaW



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 173

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:

I classify deniers of global warming in the same camp as deniers of evolution: letting belief override overwhelming evidence.


Amazing how people who fall for the "man made global warming" crap all think they are absolutely correct ... with nothing real backing it up. A "concensus" ain't science.

And, if man is the cause of global warming what the H is causing Mars to warm??? Global warming may or may not be happening -- we've had warmer spells, we've had cooler spells. Man made isn't part of the problem. Who has the right / power to say getting warmer isn't what is supposed to happend? Our water and air is cleaner now (in the indusctrialized nations) than it was 100 years ago. Instead of buying the hype -- follow the money. Always the best way to spot a fraud.

http://news.bostonherald.com/news/national/general/view/2009_02_15_Former_astronaut_speaks_out_on_global_warming/srvc=home&position=recent

Quote:

SANTA FE, N.M. - Former astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who walked on the moon and once served New Mexico in the U.S. Senate, doesn’t believe that humans are causing global warming.

"I don’t think the human effect is significant compared to the natural effect," said Schmitt, who is among 70 skeptics scheduled to speak next month at the International Conference on Climate Change in New York.

Schmitt contends that scientists "are being intimidated" if they disagree with the idea that burning fossil fuels has increased carbon dioxide levels, temperatures and sea levels.

"They’ve seen too many of their colleagues lose grant funding when they haven’t gone along with the so-called political consensus that we’re in a human-caused global warming," Schmitt said.


When the money for research and your survival coming in depends on you going along with the party line ... it's hard to buck that line. Luckily enough were willing to and more are joining.


Mark wrote:

I am tempted by the idea (which I don't expect to ever see implemented IRL) of requiring every opponent of birth control to put up the money to support for life every extra child born because of their opposition. I wonder how fast the opposition would vanish.


Better yet -- why not just have everyone apply for a license before they have sex? Pay for the privilege. And then, if there are any conceived children (since, hopefully, with all that education going on, everyone now knows how babies "happen"), both parties, having duly registered and been licensed, put their lives on hold for the remaining 9 months, have the baby, their license fee will pay for the child birth. They can both work for the State will gestating. And, once they are gone from the baby farm, they can both support the child from then on so no one else in our society has to pay for their fun. Or, gosh, how about we actually teach some morals, teach responsibility, actually use education for something other than trying to make everyone just feel good and provide some real, purposeful education?
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LizE



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 253

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sterling_95 wrote:
While I do believe that you should address the failures of your predecessor, do it through applying solutions, not through accusation and public flogging. Any person in charge of hiring will tell you that a job interviewee trashes their previous/current employer, they will not be hired because it shows that the person has no loyalty and will play the blame game rather than work with others.


This might make sense when you're replacing an office manager who is suspected of making off with a dozen paper clips, not so much when it's an outgoing administration under investigation for criminal actions that have resulted in real damage to our country. That's not a waste of time and it's no more of a "blame game" than bringing any criminal to justice. Government officials are citizens of the US just like the rest of us, and like the rest of us, are subject to the law.
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LizE



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 253

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LisaW wrote:
Amazing how people who fall for the "man made global warming" crap all think they are absolutely correct ... with nothing real backing it up. A "concensus" ain't science.


Who said it was? There are plenty of reputable scientists who believe that carbon emissions are affecting our climate. Others call climate change part of the natural cycle. But none of them deny that there are changes in coral reefs and polar ice caps that are likely to have profound effects on human populations. This is called science. It is based on data. How that data should be interpreted (is man contributing? To what degree?) and what should be done about it is one thing, denying its existence is another. Unless, of course, you're Rush Limbaugh or one of his avid listeners (are they still called "dittoheads?") in which case denial of unpleasant facts and insulting those who disagree is the norm.
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LisaW



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 173

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LizE wrote:
in which case denial of unpleasant facts and insulting those who disagree is the norm.


And thus is the point made ... someone who disagrees that man is responsible for global warming is insulted by you. And "concensus" was never science.

But -- I'll ask the question again:


If man is the cause for Global Warming on Earth -- what is causing the Global Warming on Mars?

Or are we just supposed to ignore that big thermonuclear heat source?
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1365

PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harrison Schmitt's field of expertise is GEOLOGY, not atmospheric science or climate. Citing him on a question of anthropogenic climate change is like going to an epidemiologist when you need brain surgery. An opinion from someone outside the field under discussion is of NO value other than to state what that person's opinion is. Read my post about misuse of science.
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erhea13



Joined: 01 Nov 2008
Posts: 117
Location: So Cal

PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
That is a great idea, Mark.

I can't really see how you could seriously argue one side and yet not argue the other: to say that having an abortion is an issue of public concern whereas the resulting child is not. It seems to my eyes that many of the same people who are anti-abortion tend to be those who are anti benefits/welfare, disapprove of pre-marital sex and those giving birth outside marriage, and pro-death penalty. And that's not just in America.

If you are anti-abortion, then to be consistent you need to put your money and attitudes where your mouth is and make sure there is a system of both financial/practical and emotional/societal support for the mothers and the resultant children being born. The lack of those types of support are the main reasons women have abortions. I can't think that many women do it for a lark or because pregnancy ruins their figures. In some countries such as China, women may do it in order to give birth to a son but again, that's due to the extreme societal pressures to bear a son coupled with China's "One child" policy. Banning abortion is not exactly going to address that issue.

And my pet peeve, if you're anti-abortion due to religious reasons and/or belief in the sanctity of life, then for God's sake (literally), you should also be against the dealth penalty. To be fair, most of the people I know personally who are anti-abortion do hold those views but I've met a fair few who have not.


Yes, teach people to be more responsible with sex and contraception, teach them about the importance and sanctity of life, and the responsbilities of bringing another life into the world. But keep the right to choose

To address your peeve about religion, anti-abortionists feel it is their mandate to defend the innocent or face God's wrath - read about Operation Rescue. As for the death penalty, "an eye for an eye" is an explicit code in the Old Testament. This particular argument may seem self-serving and contradictory to other Biblical teachings, but what religioin hasn't been manipulated.

Now for your assertion that people should pay for the children born without the option of abortion. The bottom line is, we do pay. Everyone who pays taxes supports social services including wellfare and child services. I won't say they are great systems, but we do pay for them. Besides, at this point, birth control is so easy, it's asinine for the rate of unwanted pregnancies in this country. FYI, taxpayers also pay for those fabulous free abortion clinics. I am pro-choice, not because I am okay with abortion, but I recognize there are times it is necessary and it is a personal, moral decision that the federal government has no right to decide. However, I am not willing to support a free system that allows many irresponsible people to destroy fetuses as a form of birth control.

Now, on to what people should be taught. All of the above. However, as it is the only 100% effective form of birth control, abstinece should be stressed. Kids are stupid when hormones rage, but if you teach them all the options, they are more likely to make a responsible decision.
Quote:
Quote:
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erhea13



Joined: 01 Nov 2008
Posts: 117
Location: So Cal

PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:01 am    Post subject: Obama's Change Reply with quote

Mark Said : "I hope to see our country turn from unreason to reason, from ideology to reality"

As far as "change" is concerned, I am still waiting for someone in the Obama cabinet to be on the up and up.

As for his rhetoric on "bi-partisanship" look a how this bailout went through. It was a thourough Democrat push. They had the numbers and they used them (to be fair, Republicans would have dome the same thing). Yet, House Republicans claimed to have a bill that would have created twice the jobs at half the cost. I do not know if it would really work but it could have at least been looked into intead of a rushed vote on a 1000+ page bill that not one of our representatives could have read fully. It is so full of pork and pet projects that it should be oinking - that sounds like ideology to me. It also has very few provisions that actually "stimulate" anything.
This is all politics as usual and there is nothing "reasonable" about it.
Our grandchildren thank us for this massive debt we have laid at their feet.
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LisaW



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 173

PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
Harrison Schmitt's field of expertise is GEOLOGY, not atmospheric science or climate. Citing him on a question of anthropogenic climate change is like going to an epidemiologist when you need brain surgery. An opinion from someone outside the field under discussion is of NO value other than to state what that person's opinion is. Read my post about misuse of science.


i cited him on the idea of "follow the money" -- people are making money on anthropogenic climate change. But, okay. You don't like that. But, golly, gee -- why won't you address my other point?

If man has been the cause of global warming / climate change (like how the terminology has changed, since "warming" doesn't always fit, Laughing) -- but, back to -- if man is the cause What has man done on Mars to cause warming / climate change there?!?!? Of course ignoring that has to continue, because the only thing Earth and Mars has in common is (wait for it) -- The Sun!!
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