Archive for April, 2012
Barack Obama gets a free pass for his war mongering, even from the political left, as described by Glenn Greenwald:
Most Democrats are perfectly aware of Obama’s military aggression. They don’t support him despite that, but rather, that’s one of the things they love about him. After years of being mocked by the Right as Terrorist-coddling weaklings, Obama — strutting around touting his own strength — lets them feel strong and powerful in exactly the way that Bush and Cheney’s swaggering let conservatives prance around as tough-guy, play-acting warriors. Rather than ignore this aggression, Democratic think tanks point with beaming pride to the corpses piled up by the Democratic Commander-in-Chief to argue that he’s been such a resounding foreign policy “success,” while Democratic pundits celebrate and defend the political value of his majestic kills.
I believe that Jesus was a human being, not a God. Therefore, I don’t give him homage, but I do occasionally read his alleged teachings, which I evaluate one-by-one. Jesus allegedly said some things that make sense to me, but other things attributed to Jesus don’t make much sense to me. When I run into a teaching of Jesus that doesn’t make sense, I set it aside as something that doesn’t make sense. I’m free to do this, because I’m not a Christian. If I were a Christian, however, I would think that I should follow ALL of the teachings attributed to Jesus, because if I were a Christian, I would probably believe that Jesus is God, and who would I be to disagree with God?
One of the things Jesus seemed to teach quite clearly was that we should love our enemies. Robert Wright summarizes these teachings:
The “Love your enemy” injunction, as we’ve seen, appears in both Matthew and Luke. In the Matthew version, Jesus says, “I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” In the letter to the Romans, written more than a decade before Matthew or Luke was written, Paul says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” And if Paul doesn’t quite say to love your enemies, he does add “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink.” Paul also says, in that same passage, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil … never avenge yourselves.” Similarly, Jesus, just before advising people to love their enemies, says, “Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.”
I’ve been thinking about the Missouri “Don’t Say Gay” legislation (HB2051) since it hit public awareness. I’ve lived in Missouri most of my life, I am used to seeing legislative discussions that make my head hurt, but this one hit me harder than most.
I realize that this bill, like much legislation around the country, is a fearful reaction to the many advances that gay folk are making. It is more accepted to be gay now than 20 years ago. Gay people are often portrayed on TV shows, in books and movies and the storyline is no longer about being gay. The dramatic value of homosexuality has dipped in popularity. Being gay is less taboo, and for some people that is the last straw. This legislation feels like a last ditch effort from the folks petrified and disgusted by homosexuals to protect themselves through the guise of protecting the children. But from what?
At at website called Respectful Insolence, Orac takes on the misconceptions and lies regarding the PPACA (“Obamacare”), focusing on “death panels” and “rationing.” It’s a fact-filled article sprinkled with excellent links. This brand new article is called “No, Virginia, cancer care in Europe doesn’t suck, contrary to what a recent paper implies.” Here’s an excerpt:
Indeed, most of the resistance to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), otherwise known in popular parlance as “Obamacare,” has been fueled by two things: (1) resistance to the mandate that everyone has to buy health insurance, and (2) the parts of the law designed to control the rise in health care costs. This later aspect of the PPACA has inspired cries of “Rationing!” and “Death panels!” Whenever science-based recommendations are made that suggest ways to decrease costs by reevaluating screening tests or decreasing various tests and interventions in situations where their use is not supported by scientific and clinical evidence, whether by the government or professional societies, you can count on its not being long before these cries go up, sometimes eve from doctors themselves in the form of Ayn Rand-worshiping libertarian doctors who think that Medicare is unconstitutional, that doctors’ autonomy should be virtually unlimited, and that there should be in essence no constraints on them.
My perspective on this issue is that we already “ration” care. It’s just that government-controlled single payer plans and hybrid private-public universal health care plans use different criteria to ration care than our current system does. In the case of government-run health care systems, what will and will not be reimbursed is generally chosen based on evidence, politics, and cost, while in a system like the U.S. system what will and will not be reimbursed tends to be decided by insurance companies based on evidence leavened heavily with business considerations that involve appealing to the largest number of employers (who, let’s face it, are the primary customers of health insurance companies, not individuals insured by their health insurance plans). So what the debate is really about is, when boiled down to its essence, how to ration care and by how much, not whether care will be rationed. Ideally, how funding allocations are decided would be based on the best scientific and clinical evidence in a transparent fashion.
This article punctures the flawed methodology of another recent study that slams all government health care based on prostrate and breast cancer outcomes without taking into account the “lead-time bias.” Here’s the issue with LTB: “aggressive screening can lead to more patients having a diagnosis of cancer for a longer period of time even without any real improvement in survival [this leads to] more overdiagnosis, which will inflate the apparent survival time after a cancer diagnosis in the population.”
The article links to a stunning set of graphs At Incidental Economist showing that the U.S. isn’t getting anything for all of that early diagnosis and high tech cancer treatment. And this is the health care system that we tout as the world’s best. Another case where evidence is inconvenient. If you really want to get pissed off at the insanity of our lawmakers, check out this article at Incidental Economist(“Public health prevention fund: On the chopping block once again“), which points out that fact that our preventative health system is atrophying and the reasons for this horrific development.
Glenn Greenwald points out Barack Obama’s hypocrisy when he asserts that he cannot stop the federal government from prosecuting sick people with prescriptions. He said everything but this (with sums up his idiotic position): “Sorry, but I’m only the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the United States.” Here’s an excerpt from Greenwald’s insights on Obama’s crackdown on medical marijuana:
“As an emailer just put it to me: “Interesting how this principle holds for prosecuting [medical] marijuana producers in the war on drugs, but not for prosecuting US officials in the war on terror. Or telecommunications companies for illegal spying. Or Wall Street banks for mortgage fraud.”
That’s about as vivid an expression of the President’s agenda, and his sense of justice, and the state of the Rule of Law in America, as one can imagine. The same person who directed the DOJ to shield torturers and illegal government eavesdroppers from criminal investigation, and who voted to retroactively immunize the nation’s largest telecom giants when they got caught enabling criminal spying on Americans, and whose DOJ has failed to indict a single Wall Street executive in connection with the 2008 financial crisis or mortgage fraud scandal, suddenly discovers the imperatives of The Rule of Law when it comes to those, in accordance with state law, providing medical marijuana to sick people with a prescription.”
I voted for Barack Obama. I was convinced (and I still am convinced) that he was a much better candidate than John McCain. But I also recognize that Barack Obama is a President with massive flaws. See, for example, the many items on these lists. Not that I agree with everything on the the following lists. Not that these lists include every reason I am disappointed with Barack Obama.
What do IT professionals have to deal with? This post on Reddit illustrates the challenges well.