Archive for the 'General Politics' category

This is who will keep America great

Mar 11 2016 Published by under Academics, General Politics

The following is a a guest post by BrainProf


All the recent hateful rhetoric that is being thrown around during this election cycle is making me very anxious. All of a sudden everyone thinks that being openly racist is okay, a good thing, and that somehow this is going to make America great. This is not going to make America great. Let me tell you about a couple of people I know that WILL make America great, and represent why America IS great.

Over the last couple of years I've had the good fortune to work with two very talented undergraduate students in my lab. The first one, who is graduating this May with honors, has been working on a very technically challenging project trying to understand how the brain interprets and processes information. She has received numerous awards to perform her research over the summer and attend national meetings to present her work, and is basically working at the level of an advanced graduate student, and will be an author in a couple of peer-reviewed publications. She has done a ton of volunteer work in the local community and is a student leader in our local Latino student organization. After graduation she plans to finish her research project and apply to MD/PhD programs in order to go into a career where she can combine her passion for science with her interest in medicine. And here’s the catch. This student didn’t go to a fancy high school, or come from an academic family. In fact she’s the first in her family to attend college. And notably her parents are undocumented immigrants that brought her over from Mexico when she was one year old. Her parents, working landscaping and house cleaning jobs prioritized her education. She was finally able to come out of the shadows thanks to President Obama’s DREAM act, that allows individuals who’s parents brought them to the US as children to obtain temporary legal residence. This student’s family doesn’t sound like the “murderers and rapists” that some presidential candidates are describing and say we should keep out. And what’s even more concerning, is that ALL of the Republican candidates have agreed that they would not support this immigration measure, and if so people like my student would basically be out of luck.

Let me tell you about the other student. He graduated with honors last spring. In my lab he helped develop a model for neurodevelopmental disorders that will help us better understand the genetics of disorders such as autism and childhood epilepsy. He also presented his work in several scientific meetings, is already an author in one publication and has another on the way. He is currently studying neurological disorders in a different lab now and has already been accepted to medical school. During graduation he was given a University award for his leadership in community service. In his spare time he performed many, many hours of community service, running a clinic to help underserved populations navigate the medical system, helping them access health care, understanding medical diagnoses and learning to engage with their doctors. One time we were discussing his community service activities and he mentioned that he was moved to do them in a big part by his religion. This student is a devout Muslim, praying several times a day and attending religious services regularly. His parents are immigrants and along with his local immigrant community, they have always emphasized helping others less fortunate and always giving back not just to one’s own community but to others outside of it that may be in need. This doesn’t sound like the terrorists everyone seems to be afraid of. This doesn’t sound like someone I’d like to keep out of the country.

And these are only two examples that I happened to come across. Like them there are many others. This hateful rhetoric is poisoning our country, and will destroy the fabric of what makes it a great place to live.

43 responses so far

What a country

Feb 14 2016 Published by under General Politics

A Supreme Court Justice has passed away. The Pesident has promised to nominate a replacement, per his Constitutional obligation. The Republican controlled Senate is insisting it will not confirm any nominee he proposes, in violation of their Constitutional and traditional role (advise and consent, not "nominate who we want"). The Republicans are also in violation of their own protestations about the President getting his way with such matters and how at the very least an "up or down vote" is required, back when George W. Bush was the President.

What a country.

Obama will now proceed to nominate the most moderate candidate that he can live with so that Dems can bash Repubs for obstruction. Supreme Court politics will be used all up and down the ticket for November.

Repubs will say that this failure for a sitting President to nominate a Justice completely antithetical to the will of the people who voted for him twice is some sort of horrible crime.

What a country.

22 responses so far

Chris Christie, State's Rights and Marijuana

Sep 17 2015 Published by under General Politics

Governor Chris Christie thinks that being a hardliner about the states which have legalized marijuana for recreational use is a way to distinguish himself in the race for the Republican nomination for US President.

This is in an era in which the Republicans seem to be softening on their stance on marijuana, so this is a bit strange.

What was weirder is that at the debate last night Christie argued that he was in favor of medical marijuana decisions by States and indeed bragged that his State of NJ made medical use of marijuana legal on his watch as Governor.

Christie tried to soften his hardline stance by claiming "I'm not against medical marijuana."

Here's what I find strange.

Christie seems to be standing on the notion of "federal law", States' rights be damned.

“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie warned. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”

When you take an oath of office, Christie said, you’re agreeing to enforce the laws. President Barack Obama has ignored the law and looked the other way as states like Colorado and Washington have moved toward legalization, he said.

The DEA still lists marijuana on the Schedule I list. This is distinguished from Schedule II drugs not on a "high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence" (on which both Schedule I and Schedule II substances qualify) but on accepted medical use. The federal law does not recognize any medical use of marijuana at this time.

So Christie makes no sense. He has to be against both recreational and medical marijuana laws enacted by States if he is going to stand on Federal law as his reason.

2 responses so far

Keen Political Insight

10 responses so far

Can you imagine the police treating your 14 year old daughter like this?

Jun 08 2015 Published by under Anger, General Politics

If you can't, you should probably think about that.

(3:04 in case the time stamped link doesn't work for you)

For additional context

UPDATE:

25 responses so far

Medical Experiments on Slaves

An article by Dan Vergano at Buzzfeed alerts us:

Electric shocks, brain surgery, amputations — these are just some of the medical experiments widely performed on American slaves in the mid-1800s, according to a new survey of medical journals published before the Civil War.

Previous work by historians had uncovered a handful of rogue physicians conducting medical experiments on slaves. But the new report, published in the latest issue of the journal Endeavour, suggests that a widespread network of medical colleges and doctors across the American South carried out and published slave experiments, for decades.
...
Savitt first reported in the 1970s that medical schools in Virginia had trafficked in slaves prior to the Civil War. But historians had seen medical experiments on slaves as a practice isolated to a few physicians — until now.

to the following paper.

Kenny, S.C. Power, opportunism, racism: Human experiments under American slavery. Endeavour,
Volume 39, Issue 1, March 2015, Pages 10–20[Publisher Link]

Kenny writes:

Medical science played a key role in manufacturing and deepening societal myths of racial difference from the earli- est years of North American colonisation. Reflecting the practice of anatomists and natural historians throughout the Atlantic world, North American physicians framed andinscribed the bodies, minds and behaviours of black subjects with scientific and medical notions of fundamental and inherent racial difference. These medical ideas racialised skin, bones, blood, diseases, with some theories specifically designed to justify and defend the institution of racial slavery, but they also manifested materially as differential treatment – seen in medical education, practice and research.

I dunno. Have we changed all that much?

12 responses so far

Congress is dissatisfied with NIH's spending priorities!

This passage appeared in a highly prestigious journal of science.

"Important elements in both Senate and the House are showing increasing dissatisfaction over Congress's decade-long honeymoon with medical research....critics are dissatisfied...with the NIH's procedures for supervising the use of money by its research grantees....NIH officials..argued, rather, that the most productive method in financing research is to pick good people with good projects and let them carry out their work without encumbering them...its growth has been phenomenal....[NIH director}: nor do we believe that most scientific groups in the country have an asking and a selling price for their product which is research activity...we get a realistic appraisal of what they need to do the job..the supervisory function properly belongs to the universities and other institutions where the research takes place....closing remarks of the report are:...Congress has been overzealous in appropriating money for health research".

Continue Reading »

3 responses so far

On Compromising

Oct 03 2013 Published by under #FWDAOTI, Anger, General Politics

I thought a little graphic representation of the current Republican Congressional demands for Obama to "compromise" on his Affordable Care Act was in order.

compromising

[click to enlarge]

In 1993 the Clinton Administration tried mightily to provide universal health care coverage for all Americans. According to Wikipedia it:

required each US citizen and permanent resident alien to become enrolled in a qualified health plan and forbade their disenrollment until covered by another plan. It listed minimum coverages and maximum annual out-of-pocket expenses for each plan. It proposed the establishment of corporate "regional alliances" of health providers to be subject to a fee-for-service schedule. People below a certain set income level were to pay nothing. The act listed funding to be sent to the states for the administration of this plan, beginning at $13.5 billion in 1993 and reaching $38.3 billion in 2003.

The plan was not entirely lefty-liberal because it kept HMOs in business and in fact mandated employers to spend more money on them. Nevertheless, the plan failed and mightily.

The lefty-liberal position would be more akin to mandating everyone be covered but doing it through the single payer of the Federal government. Preferably with a lot of measures to cut out the profit margin and mandate a lot more efficiency. Remember that now. THAT is the starting point for the leftward position.

The right wing, you will recall, fought Medicare and Medicaid tooth and nail. The true right wing starting point* is that the Federal government should have no role in the health care of citizens whatever.

So even the Clinton attempt was a considerable compromise.

Along came Obama in 2008-2009 and he decided to take another run. Obviously, in the post-Clinton era, the landscape for what was possible to pass and how to pass it was not completely open. Since Obama came on board determined to change the politics of Washington and to seek consensus and compromise....his first offer was already compromised far to the rightward position.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act was introduced in Congress in October of 2009. It took until March 2010 for Obama to be able to sign the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) into law. In the mean time there was much jockeying, arguing and compromising in an attempt to get the right wing on board. It ended up with so many protections for the profit-based health care industry and so many potential uncrossable fee gaps for poor people that it is most assuredly a right-leaning compromise past the true middle of the full spectrum of the debate.

Now we come to the fall of 2013 and the Congressional Republicans temper tantrum over "compromise". The anti-government party has refused to pass any appropriations for the new Fiscal Year, thereby shutting down the government. Their supposed reason has been (over the past several years there have been 40+ futile attempts in the House to repeal the ACA) that they wish to "fix" Obamacare. Now they are making it clear that they have no intention of fixing it, they simply want to dismantle it entirely.

Their current talking point is that Obama refuses to "compromise".

Is it any wonder? They are not interested in "compromise" since we are already far past the middle point on this particular issue. The ACA is a step too far in their direction.

And now they have the chutzpah to demand further "compromise".

Please.
__
*Yes, I realize the true right wing starting point is that health care should only be for the very wealthiest people, full stop. And that nobody is responsible for health care beyond the individual person and whatever rapacious corporate entity sees fit to provide them with it. Lets toss them a bone for this discussion.

22 responses so far

Fifty Years On

Aug 28 2013 Published by under General Politics

7 responses so far

No Return

Jun 27 2013 Published by under General Politics

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama look out of a doorway that slaves departed from on Goree Island in Dakar, Senegal on June 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama look out of a doorway that slaves departed from on Goree Island in Dakar, Senegal on June 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

via Washington Post article by David Nakamura

One response so far

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