Archive for October 3rd, 2011

Ken Burns on Prohibition

| October 3, 2011 | 1 Reply
Ken Burns on Prohibition

Tonight I watched Part II of Ken Burns’ excellent new documentary, “Prohibition.” I highly recommend it (and you can watch Part I, “A Nation of Drunkards,” here). Here’s the bottom line of Prohibition:

Prohibition turned law-abiding citizens into criminals, made a mockery of the justice system, caused illicit drinking to seem glamorous and fun, encouraged neighborhood gangs to become national crime syndicates, permitted government officials to bend and sometimes even break the law, and fostered cynicism and hypocrisy that corroded the social contract all across the country.

If only Americans would open their eyes and acknowledge that our raging drug war is Prohibition redux, and that it is causing the same kinds of destructive problems as Prohibition.

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Ronald Reagan: Make millionaires pay their fair share

| October 3, 2011 | Reply
Ronald Reagan: Make millionaires pay their fair share

It turns out that Barack Obama was channeling Ronald Reagan:

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A Wall Street Occupier talks to FOX

| October 3, 2011 | 2 Replies
A Wall Street Occupier talks to FOX

FOX News decided to walk up an talk to the dumb hippy and this is what they got, in an interview they decided to not air.

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Religiosity and the “just world” hypothesis

| October 3, 2011 | Reply
Religiosity and the “just world” hypothesis

Over at Daylight Atheism, Ebonmuse discusses the “just world” hypothesis: [P]eople are uncomfortable believing that suffering is random, that sometimes bad things happen for no reason at all. Instead, we prefer to believe that people must have done something to deserve what they get. This is obviously a reassuring and comforting belief, which explains its […]

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Money talks

| October 3, 2011 | 2 Replies
Money talks

During a recent conversation with a friend, I found myself wondering whether I had sufficient evidence for my claim. My claim was that most corporate newspapers and electronic media are reluctant publish stories that make big corporations look bad, the motivation being that big corporations by expensive ads. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. My friend reminded me that her husband works for a newspaper and he’s never seen the “smoking gun memo” that substantiates the that corporations are telling the news media what stories to avoid covering. She says that the problem is that the media is understaffed and lazy, not that they are biased.

I responded that I don’t think that there actually NEEDS to be a memo. As long as the media picks on little targets and celebrity news, there isn’t much blow-back. But if they were to take on a big target in a big way, the reporters and editors already KNOW that the switchboard would light up and email will come pouring in from big shots affiliated with corporations, making them wish they they had just stuck with the tried and true (e.g., celebrity news, sports, shootings and accidents). There is a substitute for a smoking gun memo, and it’s the overall lack of reporting critical of corporations that is not simply reporting on an ongoing legal dispute or where one corporation criticizes another. Many people think that circumstantial cases are necessarily weak, but this is not true. Criminals are sent to prison based on circumstantial evidence.

I’ll be on the lookout for a good study that demonstrates the problem, and I’m certainly open to evidence to the contrary. In the meantime, I’ve just noticed two recent stories that exemplify the political power of money.

Example 1: The New Yorker has just published a detailed article explaining how concentrated money is buying elections in North Carolina.

Example 2: Contrary to strong studies to the contrary, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization is claiming that the common chemical bisphenol A (BPA) presents no risk of cancer. Here’s an excerpt from a recent Mother Jones article, “Is Susan G. Komen Denying the BPA-Breast Cancer Link?”:

In April 2010 Komen posted an online statement saying that BPA had been “deemed safe.” And a more recent statement on Komen’s website about BPA, from February 2011, begins, “Links between plastics and cancer are often reported by the media and in email hoaxes.” Komen acknowledges in its older statement that the Food and Drug Administration is doing more studies on BPA, but also says that there is currently “no evidence to suggest a link between BPA and risk of breast cancer.”

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