Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Unusual Facts about the Human Body

People will often say they know somethin­g "like the back of their hand" to indicate that they're familiar with it top to bottom. But, how much do you actually know about your own body?

·         The largest cell in the human body is the female egg and the smallest is the male sperm. While you can’t see skin cells or muscle cells, the ovum is typically large enough to be seen with the naked eye with a diameter of about a millimeter. The sperm cell, on the other hand, is tiny, consisting of little more than nucleus.

·         Nails and hair do not continue to grow after we die. They do appear longer when we die, however, as the skin dehydrates and pulls back from the nail beds and scalp.

·         It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown.

·         Similar to fingerprints, everyone also has a unique tongue print.

·         Nerve impulses to and from the brain travel as fast as 170 miles per hour. That is why people can react so fast to things around you or why when a person stubs a toe, it hurts right away.

·         Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour. That works out to about 1.5 pounds each year, so the average person will lose around 105 pounds of skin by age 70.

·         The human brain operates on the same amount of power as 10-watt light bulb even when a person is asleep.

·         Most men have erections every hour to hour and a half during sleep. The combination of blood circulation and testosterone production can cause erections during sleep and they’re often a normal and necessary part of REM sleep.

·         The hardest bone in the human body is the jawbone.

·         Women’s hearts beat faster than men’s. The main reason for this is that on average women tend to be smaller than men and have less mass to which to pump blood.

·         An adult has fewer bones than a baby. Humans start off life with 350 bones, but because bones fuse together during growth, they end up with only 206 as adults.

·         One human brain cell can hold 5 times as much information as the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. 

·         Everyone gets a new stomach lining every three to four days. If people did not, the strong acids your stomach uses to digest food would also digest the stomach.

·         The human nose is not as sensitive as a dog's, but it can remember 50,000 different scents.

·         The width of your arm-span stretched out is the length of your whole body.

·         Human hair is virtually indestructible. Aside from its flammability, human hair decays at such a slow rate that it is practically non-disintegrative. Human hair cannot be destroyed by cold, change of climate, water, or other natural forces and it is resistant to many kinds of acids and corrosive chemicals.

·         The small intestine is the largest internal organ in human beings. It  is about four times as long as the average adult is tall. If it weren't looped back and forth upon itself, its length of 18 to 23 feet wouldn't fit into the abdominal cavity, making things very messy.

·         Every square inc­h of skin on the human body has about 32 million bacteria on it, but fortunately, the vast majority of them are harmless.

·         Women blink twice as many times as men.

·         Th­e source of smelly feet, like smelly armpits, is ­sweat. And people sweat buckets from their feet. A pair of feet have 500,000 sweat glands and can produce more than a pint of sweat a day.

·         The air from a human sneeze can travel at speeds of 100 miles per hour or more which is another good reason to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze  or duck when you hear one coming your way.

·         The acid in a human stomach is strong enough to dissolve razor-blades.

·         Human blood travels a long distance in the human body. Laid end to end, there are about 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body. And, the hard-working heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood through those vessels every day.

·         During a lifetime, the average person produces about 25,000 quarts of saliva which is enough to fill two swimming pools.

·         By 60 years of age, 60-percent of men and 40-percent of women snore. But, the sound of a snore can seem deaf­ening. While snores average around 60 decibels, the noise level of normal speech, they can reach more than 80 decibels. Eighty decibels is as loud as the sound of a pneumatic drill breaking up concrete. Noise levels over 85 decibels are considered hazardous to the human ear.

·         Facial hair grows faster than any other hair on the human body.

·         Women burn fat more slowly than men, by a rate of about 50 calories a day.

·         The indentation in the middle of the area between the nose and the upper lip has a name. It is called the philtrum. Scientists have yet to figure out what purpose this indentation serves, though the ancient Greeks thought it to be one of the most erogenous places on the body.

·         If the average man never shaved his beard, it would grow to over 30 feet during his lifetime, longer than a killer whale

·         Blondes may or may not have more fun, but they definitely have more hair. Hair color helps determine how dense the hair on your head is, and blondes (only natural ones, of course), top the list. The average human head has 100,000 hair follicles, each of which is capable of producing 20 individual hairs during a person's lifetime. Blondes average 146,000 follicles. People with black hair tend to have about 110,000 follicles, while those with brown hair are right on target with 100,000 follicles. Redheads have the least dense hair, averaging about 86,000 follicles.

·         While the brain might be the pain center when you cut your finger or burn yourself, the brain itself does not have pain receptors and cannot feel pain. That doesn’t mean your head can’t hurt. The brain is surrounded by loads of tissues, nerves and blood vessels that are plenty receptive to pain and can give you a pounding headache.

·         If you're cli­pping your fingernails more often than your toenails, that's only natural. The nails that get the most exposure and are used most frequently grow the fastest. Fingernails grow fastest on the hand that you write with and on the longest fingers. On average, nails grow about one-tenth of an inch each month.
·         The colder the room you sleep in, the better the chances are that you’ll have a bad dream. It isn’t entirely clear to scientists why this is the case, but if you do not want to have nightmares, you might want to keep yourself warm at night.

·         The human head is one-quarter of our total length at birth but only one-eighth of our total length by the time we reach adulthood. That is the reason why babies have a hard time holding up their heads.

·         Your eyes are always the same size from birth but your nose and ears never stop growing.

·         The brain is much more active at night than during the day. Scientists do not why this is but you can thank the hard work of your brain while you sleep for all of your dreams.

·         You can go without eating for weeks without succumbing, but eleven days is human maximum for going without sleep. After eleven days, you will be asleep forever.

Friday, February 21, 2014

An Outrageous Idea

An Open Letter to Tom Perkins

by Huff Post contributor Danielle Tumminio,
Episcopal priest, life coach, and author of God and Harry Potter at Yale

Dear Mr. Perkins,
Recently, you told Adam Lashinsky at a speaking engagement that you had an idea that would change the world. You said that the government should enact the "Tom Perkins system" for voting rights whereby, "If you pay a million dollars in taxes, you should get a million votes."

Your remark seems to indicate that money is the ultimate thing of value, and so having to give it up makes it the ultimate sacrifice. And perhaps that isn't surprising coming from you, given your background as a venture capitalist and your recent comments that the ultra-rich in America are being persecuted like Jews in Nazi Germany.

But the thing is, for someone who has made his fortune by figuring out ways for money to make more money, you seem woefully ignorant about what the term "value" actually means. From your remarks, it seems that you believe that only money should be valued by this nation. After all, as you say, if you pay a million in taxes, you should get a million votes.
But is it possible that there are other things our country should value above money? Is it possible that there are other sacrifices that are worth just as much as monetary ones?
For instance, members of our military do not get paid nearly as much as you do; however, many of them put their lives in jeopardy every day for the safety of our nation. One could make the argument that the value of their sacrifices outweighs the value of the sacrifice you make when you pay your taxes. Perhaps, then, we should give more votes to those who have lost limbs in battle, to those who suffer post-traumatic stress, or to widows and widowers whose spouses have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Similarly, many parents chose to forego opportunities for financial prosperity for love of their children. The choice to stay at home is indeed one of sacrifice, preventing these adults from climbing the work ladder, from cultivating their own freedoms and interests. And yet, it's not the kind of sacrifice that gets monetarily reimbursed. Why don't we give these individuals more votes because of how strongly they value their families?
Or we could turn to teachers, who could have applied their incisive knack for learning to more lucrative careers such as your own. However, they chose to forego such opportunities in order to educate our country's next generation of leaders. All of us who have achieved success thanks to our ability to read owe that not to ourselves but to our first grade teachers. All who -- like yourself -- made their fortunes in financial fields can thank their math teachers from elementary school onwards because they taught them everything from basic arithmetic to advanced financial management. So perhaps your high school math teachers should get additional votes because they gave you the knowledge you needed to make your millions. What do you think?
And finally, there are people of faith. I attended seminary at Yale alongside hundreds of other students who could have had exceedingly lucrative careers in their field of choice. However, their faith taught them that love, generosity and character were far more valuable than money. Some of these individuals got ordained like myself; others went on to gain doctorates, to become school chaplains, or to found non-profits that provided a safe place for impoverished children after school. Driven by their beliefs, they worked to create a more just, loving America. So maybe we should give these individuals more votes because of their commitment to their God and to the change they created in this country as a result.
To say that those with money should get more votes in this country is tantamount to saying that the dollar is worth more than loyalty, love, intellect or faith. And yet, this country was founded on the principle that all people are created equal. That means that whatever we ultimately value -- be it country, family, learning, or God -- we all get a fair shot on American soil.
Given your commitment to the Tom Perkins system, I imagine that does not resonate. But it should. Because despite your millions, your comments disgrace this country's most fundamental currency: The value of every human being.
And that currency, as our country's founders so rightly noted, is worth far more than gold.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Honoring a Heritage of Hate

Officials in U.S. state of Georgia have once again approved a specialty license plate featuring the Confederate battle flag, infuriating civil rights advocates and renewing a debate among those who believe the symbol honors Confederate heritage and those who see it as racially charged. The Georgia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans requested the new plate design, and the Georgia Department of Revenue recently approved it. The group's old plate had a small Confederate battle flag. The new one features an additional, larger image in the background that covers the entire plate. Spokesman Ray McBerry said the group meant no offense and views the plates as a way for people to honor their heritage. We believe that everyone has the right to preserve their heritage, he said. Southerners have as much right to be proud of their heritage as anybody else.
Comment: Really? What heritage? The heritage of hate, bigotry and slavery disguised at "states rights" and backed up by Southern fundamentalist religion and palatation-owners who wanted cheap labor. Is it just a coincidence  that this move is while the US has an African-American as President and about 40% of Southerners believe he is the Anti-Christ, a communist and his birth certificate is a fraud.  And, it is certainly ironic that this occurred at the same time as the release of the film, 12 Years a Slave, which graphically shows slavery for what it really was, as opposed to what the bigots on the TV show, Duck Dynasty, say it was.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference spokesman Maynard Eaton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the state shouldn't have sanctioned the move. To display this is reprehensible, Eaton said. We don't have license plates saying 'Black Power'.
Republican Governor Nathan Deal said Tuesday that he was unaware of the plate. I hadn't heard that, so I don't know anything about it, Deal said. "I'll have to talk to them about it. I had no information in advance about it.
Comment: The Governor knew nothing about this? Just like Chris Christie knew nothing about the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge. Fat chance!
States that joined the Confederacy have taken different positions on the battle flag. North Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi have specialty license tags that include it, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Texas rejected an application to issue one on the grounds that it could offend some. The Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued board members of the Texas motor vehicle agency, and the case remains in court.
In Georgia, the Department of Revenue's motor vehicle division approves proposed designs for specialty plates. Agency spokesman Nick Genesi said the old design included the Confederate battle emblem and that organizations with existing plates were allowed to submit new designs since the state switched to a new type of flat, digitally-printed plate. Genesi said any submitted designs must not violate copyright laws.
The plates are available for an initial cost of $80, of which $10 is directed to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The group on its website says the funds will be used to promote Southern heritage through educational activities and preservation efforts around the state
Comment: Promote Southern heritage? What exactly is Southern heritage? Hate? Bigotry? Prejudice? Intolerance?  Lynchings? Segregation? Gone With the Wind? And, why do The Sons of Confederate Veterans need money? And, why is the state collecting money  for any group anyway? Would the State of Georgia sell a license plate has the word "Hate" and a picture of a slave hanging from a tree- and donate ten dollars for every plate sold to the NAACP? Of course not.
Just for once, let's face reality. The civil war was started by the South because the hated a President named Abraham Lincoln because he was an abolitionist. A Southerner also killed him.  Segregation lasted a hundred years after the South was defeated. There was nothing glorious about the south's fighting to maintain a way of life that involved slavery. And, the South today is still fight the War Between The States. At least Germany admitted its guilt and paid war reparations for its genocide. But, the South continues to glorify its genocide and celebrates it.
Imagine if Germany sold license plate with Swastikas on them and a portion of the charges were paid to the Sons of Nazi Veterans.  Most of the world would be appalled. But, would the South? Just asking?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Noah's Ark: The Devil is in the Details

The story of Noah and his Ark is a story in the Bible which is often told to children and often accompanied by cute pictures. God tells Noah to big boat because God is going to create a big flood. And two of every type animal happily  go up the gangplank into the big boat. (Can you see the elephant and the bunny rabbit, Johnny?)  Then it rains. (Look at all the people drowning. But God save the bunny rabbit.) At the end, Noah's family and all the animals leave the boat and a beautiful rainbow appears. Forget that this horrific flood never happened. Forget that this is wanton and pointless act by God for a creation made by God. Forget that the end of the story is not told in the children's books because it is full of bad behavior of the type that caused the flood in the first place and resulted in rationalizing hate, bigotry and racism we are confronted with to this very day.   
The tale of Noah and his Ark is the story the Old Testament, Hebrew Bible and the Quran. In the Bible, the story is in the book of Genesis, chapters 6 through 9. According to the story, the only righteous man in the world which was at that time believed to be flat, saves himself, his family, and two of each kind of the world's animals, birds and insects from the world-wide flood. In the story, God gives Noah detailed instructions for building the ark. The three deck vessel is to be of gopher wood, at one time or another believed to be cedar, cypress, pine, fir, teak, ebony, wicker, sandalwood, juniper, acacia, boxwood, resinous wood or slimmed bulrushes. The vessel was then smeared inside and out with pitch. According to God's instructions, the ark was to be 300 cubits long (137.16 m; 450 ft), 50 cubits wide (22.86 m; 75 ft), and 30 cubits high (13.716 m; 45 ft). And, it had to have a roof "finished to a cubit upward" and an entrance on the side. The story goes on to describe the great flood, the receding of the waters before it came to rest on Mount Ararat (now in Turkey) and some incidents involving Noah after the flood including one involving incest. Scholars maintain that the story is a myth and is not literally true. And, many expeditions on Mount Ararat have searched for the ark's remains but no evidence that anything like Noah's Ark was ever discovered.
There are many flood myths besides the story of Noah. A flood myth (aka: deluge myth) is a narrative in which a great flood is created by a deity or deities to destroy civilization in an act of divine retribution. In these stories, the floods are described as a method for the cleansing of humankind as a preparation for rebirth. It is also a show of divine power, a warning of divine displeasure with human behavior, and of the ability to destroy humanity anytime he wishes. Most flood myths also contain a culture hero, who creates rebirth. A flood story exists in many cultures, for example, in the Ancient Mesopotamian flood stories, in Greek mythology, and in the stories of the K'iche'and Maya peoples of Central America, the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa tribe of Native Americans in North America, and the Muisca people in South America. This leads many people to believe there actually was a world-wide flood in spite of the fact that there is no evidence for it.
According to some Talmudic writers, while Noah was building the ark, he attempted to warn his neighbors of the coming deluge, but they ignored and mocked him. They also said that in order to protect Noah and his family, God placed lions and other ferocious animals to guard them from the wicked who tried to stop them from entering the ark. According to one  sacred text, it was God or his angels who gathered the animals to the ark along with their food. Another text said  that the ark distinguished between the clean animal and unclean animals and admitted seven pairs each of each clean animal but only one pair each of the unclean. The chosen animals were the best of their species and so they behaved well and did not attack each other while on the ark. and, they abstained from procreating while on the ark so that the number of creatures that disembarked was equal to the number that boarded the vessel. According to one tradition, general waste was stored on the lowest of the ark's three decks, humans and clean beast's waste on the second level, and the unclean animal and bird waste on the top level. But, a different document said all of the refuse was stored on the top level from where it was shoveled into the sea through a trapdoor.
According  to Genesis 7:11;8:1-2  after Noah and the remnant of animals were secured, the fountains of the great deep and the floodgates or the windows of the heavens were opened. This caused rain to fall on the Earth for 40 days. The waters elevated, with the summits of the highest mountains under 15 cubits (22 feet 6 inches) of water, flooding the world for 150 days, and then receding for 220 days.
According to the end of the flood story in the Bible, after the ark landed on Mount Ararat and the release of the animals from the ark, Noah planted a vineyard, created the first wine and was the first person to get drunk.  Early classical commentaries tended to excused Noah’s excessive drinking because of his long ordeal on the ark, because he was considered to be the first wine drinker, and because he had no idea what effects of excessive drinking of wine might be. In some  Jewish traditions, rabbis blame Satan for saturating the vine with intoxicating properties from the blood of certain animals.
The Bible says that Noah begat Shem, Ham and Japheth when he was 500 years old and that Noah was 600 years old at the time of the flood. The most controversial part of the story of Noah is what occurred after Noah got drunk.  It is the story of Ham and it is told in Genesis 9:20-27. It reads:  And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. (The King James Bible)
The majority of both ancient and modern biblical authorities have felt that Ham's seeing his father naked was not a sufficiently serious reason to explain the punishment that follows. Nevertheless, Genesis 9:23, in which Shem and Japheth cover Noah with a cloak while averting their eyes, suggests that the words are to be taken literally because in 1st millennium Babylonia, looking at another person's genitals was regarded as a serious matter. But, others suggest that Ham was guilty of more than what the Bible says. Several ancient sources had Ham gossiping about his father's drunken disgrace "in the street" so that being held up to public mockery was what had really angered Noah. Who these other people in the streets who did the mocking is unclear because all of humanity was wiped out during the flood.
Ancient commentaries have also debated that "seeing" someone's nakedness meant to have sex with that person (e.g.: Leviticus 20:17). The same idea was raised by 3rd-Century rabbis who argue that Ham either castrated his father, or sodomized him. The same explanations are found in three Greek translations of the Bible, which replace the word "see" in verse 22 with another word denoting homosexual relations.  Finally, some modern scholars have suggested that to "uncover the nakedness" of a man means to have sex with that man's wife (e.g.:  Leviticus 20:11). If Ham had sex with his mother, and Canaan was the product of this forbidden union, it could explain why the curse falls on his son. After all, except through incest, how else could people replenish the earth after the flood?  
Whatever was the intended meaning of the myth-creators, it is important to understand the following:
·        The Genesis flood narrative is a myth. It is one of a number of similar flood myths, the earliest of these was the Sumerian flood myth found in the Epic of Ziusudra. Later and very similar Mesopotamian flood stories are found in the Epic of Atrahasis and Epic of Gilgamesh. Many scholars believe that Noah and the biblical flood story are derived from the Mesopotamian versions, predominantly because biblical mythology that is today found in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha'i Faith and Mandeanism share an overlapping consistency with far older written Mesopotamian stories of The Great Flood, and that the early Hebrews were known to have lived in Mesopotamia particularly during the Babylonian captivity.
·        There is no scientific evidence to support the idea of a world-wide flood. If there was such a global flood, there would be a global sedimentary level around the world and there is none.
·        Searches for Noah's Ark, sometimes mockingly referred to as "arkeology” have been made from at least the Third Century BCE to the present day. Despite many expeditions, no scientific evidence of the ark has been ever found. The practice of looking for Noah's Ark is widely regarded as "a fool's errand" and as pseudo-archaeology.
·        The story of Ham has led to religion-based and condoned bigotry. Africans were traditionally understood to be the sons of Ham, particularly his descendant Cush, as Cushites are referred to throughout scripture as being the inhabitants of East Africa, and they and the Yoruba still trace their ancestry through Ham today. This religion-based hate was often used to rationalize racial hatred, bigotry, slavery, and the South African Apartheid system.
Related Topic
A British scholar has found that a 4,000-year-old cuneiform tablet from what is now Iraq contains a story similar to the biblical account of Noah’s Ark.  It is the oldest known Mesopotamian version of the Great  Flood Story. The newly decoded cuneiform tells of a divinely sent flood and a sole survivor on an ark, who takes all the animals on board to preserve them. It even includes the famous phrase “two by two,” describing how the animals came onto the ark. But, there is one important  difference: The ark in this version is round.
We have known for well over a century that there are flood stories from the ancient Near East that long predate the biblical account. Even the most conservative biblical scholars wouldn’t date any earlier than the ninth century B.C. What’s really interesting is that scholars have changed  the description of the ark itself. The Bible says the ark was a standard boat shapelong and narrow. The length being six times the measure of the width, with three decks and an entrance on the side. The newly discovered Mesopotamian text describes a large round vessel, made of woven rope, and coated (like the biblical ark) in pitch to keep it waterproof. Archaeologists are planning to design a prototype of the ark, built to the specifications of this text, to see if it would actually float, especially given the estimated weight of the animals.
Why does this new discovery matter? It matters because it serves as a reminder that the story of the Great Flood Story had many versions and  was not set in stone from its earliest version all the way through to its latest. Every version reshapes the Great Flood Story and the ark itself according to the norms of their own time and place.
In ancient Mesopotamia, a round vessel would have been perfectly reasonable. In fact, it  is well known that this type of boat was in use, though perhaps not to such a gigantic scale, on the Mesopotamian rivers. The ancient Israelites, on the other hand, would naturally have pictured a boat like those they were familiar with: which is to say, the boats that navigated not the rivers of Mesopotamia but the Mediterranean Sea.
This detail of engineering can and should stand for a larger array of themes and features in the flood stories. The Mesopotamian versions feature many gods; the biblical account, of course, only one. The Mesopotamian versions tell us that the Flood came because humans were too noisy for the gods; the biblical account says it was because violence had spread over the Earth. Neither version is right or wrong; they are, rather, both appropriate to the culture that produced them. Neither is history; both are theology.
What, then, of the most striking parallel between this newly discovered text and Genesis: the phrase “two by two”? Here, it would seem, we have an identical conception of the animals entering the ark. Although most people steeped in Sunday School tradition will tell you without even thinking about it that the animals, they came on, they came on the ark two by two, that’s not exactly what the Bible says. More accurately, it’s one thing that the Bible says that Noah is instructed to bring not one pair of each species, but seven pairs of all the “clean” animals and the birds, and one pair of the “unclean” animals. This is important because at the end of the story, Noah offers animal  sacrifices which, if he only brought one pair of each animal, would mean that, after saving them all from the Flood, he then proceeded to relegate some of those species to extinction. This is not news. In the 17th century, some biblical scholars recognized that there must be two versions of the Flood intertwined in the canonical Bible.
There are  also plenty of significant differences between the two Flood stories in the Bible, which are easily spotted if you try to read the narrative as it stands. One version says the Flood lasted 40 days; the other says 150. One says the waters came from rain. Another says it came from the opening of primordial floodgates both above and below the Earth. One version says Noah sent out a dove, three times. The other says he sent out a raven, once.
Even if we acknowledge  that the biblical authors learned the Flood story from other sources,  it is important to understand that  the Bible gets its authority from us and not because it is either the first or the most reliable witness to history. There is no doubt that the discovery of this new ancient Mesopotamian text is important. But from a biblical perspective, its importance resides mostly in the way it serves to remind us that the Flood story is a malleable one. There are multiple different Mesopotamian versions, and there are multiple different biblical versions. They share a basic outline, and some central themes. But,they each relate the story in their own way.
As with much in the Bible, a person should not take the story as literally or as fact. The power of the Flood story as with much of the Bible is in what it tells us about humanity’s relationship with God. But as usual, the devil is in the details.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Poem: To Celia

To Celia
by Ben Jonson  (1573-1637)

Come, my Celia, let us prove,
While we can, the sports of love;
Time will not be ours forever;
He at length our good will sever.
Spend not then his gifts in vain.
Suns that set may rise again;
But if once we lose this light,
’Tis with us perpetual night.
Why should we defer our joys?
Fame and rumor are but toys.
Cannot we delude the eyes
Of a few poor household spies,
Or his easier ears beguile,
So remov├Ęd by our wile?
’Tis no sin love’s fruit to steal;
But the sweet thefts to reveal,
To be taken, to be seen,
These have crimes accounted been.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Obama vs. Reagan, A Comparison

The Anti-Christ vs. The Saint

 The Republican Party is constantly deifying Ronald Reagan and vilifying Barack Obama. They are constantly dripping with sentimentality but conveniently "forget" what Reagan actually did, what his legacy is still doing, and worst of all they would not have liked him if he were the President today.
Imagine a world that never knew Ronald Reagan:  No Scalia, No Rumsfeld, No Cheney.  No Bushes and all of their appointments and disasters.  No funding of dictators like Saddam Hussein (Reagan propped him up big time) or psychopaths like Osama Bin Laden .  
Instead, we would have an America far less dependent on oil. A superpower respected for skilled diplomacy in ending conflicts, instead of starting them. And a healthy economy with a strong middle class instead of a world where the labor movement has been viciously attacked, and the middle class is systematically being dismantled.  Under Reagan, corporations gained massive power to the point today where they have become "people".  Unions, the worker's last protection, were severely weakened, and the socioeconomic gap (the gap between the rich and poor) exploded.  He also bankrupted the US by pouring hundreds of billions into wasteful spending, like the failed and ridiculous Star Wars missile-defense system. All in just 8 short years.
Reagan created the modern plutocracy. He introduced us to the whole "take from the poor, give to the rich" supply-side economics that we still suffer today.  He turned compassion to the less fortunate to villainy, created the myth of the "welfare queen", mocked AIDS patients, and let his fellow "Christians" know it was okay to belittle the homeless.    

CEOs before Reagan made 78 times their minimum wage workers. Today, it is almost 3500 times more!  Without Reagan, America might have had the same income distribution we had in the 1970s, which would mean we would be averaging $120,000 annually- not $40,000.  
Reagan was the realization of Barry Goldwater's failed dream that put the GOP on the path of crazy-town where it is today.  He somehow managed to blend the selfish, the atheistic Ayn Rand economic philosophy with fundamental Christianity and wrap it all up into a cowboy, patriotic image that was as phony as his ranch.  

Bottom line: Ronald Reagan was a phony bastard. And the American people are still hurting because of him and his policies. No amount of pining for the good old days of America oldest and first senile President can change that fact.

Next time someone starts revising history or just starts a syrupy tribute, hit them with this. Comparing their Saint Reagan with the man who literally drives them insane, Barack Obama, relate to them the following information and then watch them squirm.
1. Remember when the GOP loved to say "cut and run" as an excuse to keep our troops in Iraq forever even after Bush said "Mission Accomplished"?  But who invented "cut and run"?
The Gipper. Reagan retreated from Lebanon immediately after the 1983 terror attack by Hezbollah that resulted in the murder of 243 Marines.  According to the 9/11 Commission Report (p. 68), Reagan's cut and run inspired Bin Laden, who viewed the United States as a “paper tiger” because of its rapid withdrawal after the attack. However, US troops were repeatedly attacked in Afghanistan, but when Obama
came into office, he did not cut and run. Instead, he increased troop strength by 68,000. And, his track record of killing terrorists far outweighs any of his predecessors.
Whereas Reagan gave terrorist weapons, Obama killed them. For seven years, President Bush was unable or unwilling to kill the man responsible for the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center. At one point, Bush said that he scarcely thought about the man. Instead, Bush plunged the US into a pointless and costly war of convenience in Iraq. But, Obama killed Osama bin Laden Obama and went against the advice of his own vice president and defense secretary.  To detract from that accomplishment, Republicans and their mouthpieces in the media belittle the event, some calling it no big deal. In addition, Obama gave the naval commander the go ahead to kill several pirates resulting in saving the life of Captain Richard Phillips  and he also ordered drone attacks against known terrorists in Middle-Eastern countries. Finally, Obama's military intervention through the building of a multi-state coalition resulted in the death of Muammar Gaddafi and ended his regime without the death of one American soldier. Reagan tried a unilateral action against Gaddafi and failed miserably.

Reagan actually appeased terrorists.  He ignored their atrocities and spent taxpayer dollars to train, arm, equip, fund and overall coddle Islamist mujahidin fighters in Afghanistan for his proxy war with the Soviets.
He is directly responsible for making a terrorist kingpin out of Osama Bin Laden.

But, Reagan went further. He secretly violated US law and traded arms for hostages in the Iran-Contra scandal- an impeachable offense. The Democrats controlled the Congress during the Reagan presidency and nothing was done about the flagrant and calculated illegal action. Can you just imagine the Republican explosion if Obama did that?


Illegal Immigration

2. Concerning amnesty for those illegally in the US, on October 28, 1984, Reagan said, I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and live here even though sometime back they may have entered illegally. But, in July of 2010, Obama said, No matter how decent they are, no matter their reasons, the eleven million who broke the law should be held accountable.


3. In short, Reagan raised income taxes 11 times, Obama has never raised taxes.  In fact, wound up being the largest tax-cutter in presidential history cutting $654 billion in 2011 and 2012 alone. He was in favor of letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the super wealthy (which is not the same as a tax hike no matter what the Republicans say), but even that didn't come to pass. In 2012, even Republican presidential  candidate Mitt Romney in 2012 even admitted Obama didn't raise taxes. Obama has consistently cut taxes, not raised them.  Reagan got Congress to pass a big tax cut once he took office. But to hear conservatives talk, that's where the story ends. They forget he raised income taxes in 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987.

Deficit Spending

4. Whether you are looking at the economic policies of Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, reining in the deficit was clearly of no concern. Reagan tripled the Gross Federal Debt, from $900 billion to $2.7 trillion. Ford and Carter in their combined terms could only double it. It took 31 years to accomplish the first postwar debt tripling, yet Reagan did it in eight. Under Reagan  spending soared. Clinton brought in back down a bit, but Bush got it way back up. No one in American history created deficit like W.  He spent the Clinton surplus like a drunken sailor. And by the way, Obama's spending initiatives were less than half of his predecessor.

Even though Obama inherited a huge debt from W. and focused on a stimulus that benefited the people instead of Bush's stimulus for Wall Street, he still has a much better record on spending than Reagan and hugely better than W.  Obama did not triple the gross federal debt like Reagan did.  Obama is following the Clinton model of spending up front and then focusing on deficit reduction.  At the end of Obama's term in 2016, the deficit will be cut drastically, but it can't be anywhere close to what Reagan had at the end of his two terms. Why?  Because the Republican Congress loves to throw money at their base in the form of tax cuts for Big Oil and the wealthiest amongst us (like they really need it, right?)  which add hundreds of billions to the national debt but in reality create nothing.


Obama believes abortion should be safe, legal and rare. And they are. Abortions under Obama are 
at their lowest rate since 1973.  Granted, it has more to do with advances in birth control than anything a politician does, but once again shows conservatives to be liars when they claimed abortions would skyrocket under Obama. And, the Republicans do not want birth control either.

As President, Reagan was staunchly anti abortion. Yet, the Republicans never talk about his policies as governor of California. Why? Could it be because  Reagan signed the
Therapeutic Abortion Act only six months after he became governor. There were 518 legal abortions in California in 1967 but the number of abortions soared to an annual average of 100,000 in the remaining years of Reagan’s two terms.  

Gun Control

Reagan was shot and nearly killed. Republicans conveintly forget that. They also conveniently  forget that he supported control after the attempt to assassinate him. He was a vocal supporter the Brady Bill.  Reagan even wrote an op-ed piece in favor of it in the New York Times.

One of the mantras of  the NRA and their lackeys in the Republican Party is that Obama is going to "take away your guns". The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave Obama a failing grade on every single gun control issue.  He has proposed nothing concerning federal gun control laws even when he had a Democratic super majority Congress. When he had that majority, in fact, federal gun rights  were expanded by allowing guns on trains and in our national parks. Yet the NRA still told their idiot members that Obama was coming to take their guns. The result was that gun sales skyrocketed.

Perhaps if some Republicans politicians were victims of gun violence as Reagan was, they would follow Reagan's lead and support con control.

So what's your verdict?  The conservative's love affair with Reagan and their hate affair with Obama seems to be both irrational and hypocritical. Could it be that the hate-everything-about Obama is just because he is an African-American?  You do understand this is black man in the White House, don't you?  And, he was not born in the US. And he is a Muslim. And the Anti-Christ. And a Communist. And a traitor. And an illegitimate President. And a socialist. And, the devil incarnate.
It was really Reagan and not Obama who was the illegal amnesty-supporting, gun control loving, deficit spending, tax raising, terrorist-coddling President.  As for support of religion and "traditional family values", Obama has a great relationship with his family. Reagan was this nation's first and only divorced President, was estranged from his children, often met with bigoted and anti-gay religious leaders and never went to church.
Challenge a conservative to disprove anything that was said here. I have supported it with the facts and no opinions and Fox propaganda. Just be prepared for a lot of name-calling, Fox (so-called) News lies, rhetoric, nonsense, evasiveness, and name-calling.