The Worship of Sports in America

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How The Middle-Class Got Screwed (Video)

A most simplistic explanation of how the economic problems of the middle-class has become an actual threat to their well-being.

Why I'm Not A Democrat...Or A Republican!

There is a whole lot not to like about either of the 2 major political parties.

Whatever Happened To Saturday Morning Cartoons?

Whatever happened to the Saturday morning cartoons we grew up with? A brief look into how they have become a thing of the past.

ADHD, ODD, And Other Assorted Bull****!

A look into the questionable way we as a nation over-diagnose behavioral "afflictions."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hope -- An Unreported Human Interest Story

Whenever I think about the state of the American people as I observe my surroundings and absorb daily media reports, I am reminded of the Old Testament story of God telling the prophet Jeremiah that He would hold back His wrath if Jeremiah could find “even one righteous person” in the ancient city of Jerusalem. Between my own personal experiences in dealing with downright dishonest, unscrupulous individuals and what I see in America, I can’t help but think of the myriad of issues and policies that affect Americans negatively. And when I think about the seemingly endless number of individuals, policymakers and organizations—both in the governmental and private sectors—who aren’t able (or willing) to think beyond the walls ideology in order to work toward substantive (and positive) change, I wonder could I myself find one good (or even worthy) person in America to give me pause to believe that there is simply no hope for America. Then, over the last 2 weeks, a couple of news items were brought to my attention which made me believe that there is hope for the people of America to take their individual (and collective) destinies into their own hands and effect positive change for the nation. The first one was more of a human interest story which reminded me how for some, the human spirit can rise above circumstances in order radiate an unlimited capacity for positive thinking…and even a capacity to thrive despite those circumstances. The focus is on Blair Griffith, the current Ms. Colorado who through a series of unfortunate circumstances found both herself and her mother evicted from their home last November—a month after winning the coveted crown—and have been homeless since (and still are as of this writing). To make matter worse for the reigning state beauty champion, the Saks Fifth Avenue store where she works is closing this month. During one recent interview, the young woman joked, saying how "It seems to happen once a month. Something new is being thrown at me." That type of gallows humor as it were seems to be part and parcel of this remarkable young lady’s remarkable optimism. Despite her current trials, she still finds the time to spend her days making appearances at schools and children’s hospitals, where she openly talks about being homeless to the younger audiences. She plans to enter the Miss USA Pageant in June of this year, where she is hoping to parlay her plight into a crusade to bring a face to the issue of the homelessness in America. The second story involves how an act of kindness can overcome both long-held symbols of hatred and acts of responsive brutality. Last week, and African-American reporter found himself in the middle of a story, partially of his own making. Shomari Stone, a news reporter for a Seattle-based television station was in a local park filming a report when he and his cameraman noticed a fight breaking out several feet away from their location. Ignoring his training to be objective to events, he rushed in to break up the fight between an imposing black male dressed in a hat and coat, who was beating away on an equally imposing white man with a shaved head and covered in tattoos. “I didn't want to jump in, but "when you see [the] suspect just pounding the victim while he's laying on the concrete, instinct just snapped in" Stone said of his decision. As Stone struggled to separate the two combatants, he was aided by one of the several bystanders who stood watching the events unfold. After the fight was broken up and police were called, it was discovered that the tattoos the white male was covered with were Nazi-related, and that he seemed to be a racist skinhead. Despite Stone’s skin color, the man thanked Stone, who it was reported responded by telling the victim, "Remember to judge a man by his character, not the color of his skin."
videoBoth of these examples display the idea that the human capacity for hope and compassion for our fellow man is well within our individual as well as collective grasps. And that we could, if we are willing to exercise the will, work together and make practical and substantive policies which could benefit all Americans—and not just a selective group—if we are able to overcome the imagined barriers, namely prejudicial personal beliefs, which often get in the way of doing what’s needed and what’s right. (http://clutchmagonline.com/newsgossipinfo/black-reporter-saves-white-supremacist-what-would-you-do/ or http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-03-02/news/28666806_1_white-supremacist-white-supremacist-victim)

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Real Health Insurance Industry -- An Insider Speaks

For anyone who has vehemently defended the status quo when it comes attempts to address the lack of universal affordable health care in coverage in America, BTPS invites you to listen to a podcast featuring former health insurance industry insider Wendell Potter.
Potter, who spent years as the head of corporate communications (Public Relations) for both Humana and CIGNA, left his successful career after witnessing first-hand how his former employers' unethical tactics worked against the interests of their policy holders...and by extension, potentially endangering policy holders' health. He subsequently turned his disenchantment into a public crusade against abuses within the insurance industry, even testifying before Congress.
According to Potter, "insurers have every incentive to deny coverage — every dollar they don't pay out to a claim is a dollar they can add to their profits, and Wall Street investors demand they pay out less every year."
I invite you to listen to listen to the words of this whistle blower and determine for yourself if the current system of health care coverage is worth defending.

http://wunc.org/tsot/archive/Deadly_Spin.mp3
(download the mp3 of this podcast here)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Opinion -- If I Were Conservative, Would I Be Right?

As I write and blog about important political and social issues, I suppose that it’s a matter of general principle that people will invariably rant and rage against whatever conclusions I arrive at (and yes, I know that sentence ends with a preposition). Despite the fact that my observations are based on—arguably so by some of you—what I consider reason (sans the passions, emotions, and political ideological dogma), there are those who still insist on making judgments based on their efforts to try to fit their perceptions of reality into rubrics which adhere to conservative ideology rather than what reality says about itself. Granted I have been accused by both liberals of not understanding the nature of a particular issue, and by conservatives of being a liberal in sheep’s clothing, I find conservative individuals’ lack of tolerance for any assessment of a particular social, economic, or political issue which isn’t routinely espoused by right-of-center ideologues to be particularly disturbing. While liberals can be as every bit as acerbic as conservatives when it comes to defending their beliefs, conservatives tend to resort more to vitriol and ad hominem attacks on given issues.
I cite as an example an instance where on another well-known site’s political section, one conservative commentator attacked my blog as “more liberal crap” simply because he took note of the last posting, which supports the idea of universally affordable health care/access in America. Obviously without even reading the article, the poster predictably went into reactionary mode and attacked the idea of universally affordable health care by stating his own esoteric “understanding” of how market realities in America should be (because of the conservative assertion that the idea of universal access to health care is a “socialist” concept, and an anathema the notion that Free Market-driven competition between providers is more than enough to provide universal access). My own support for this idea is not only borne out of personal experience, but the factual reality that the numbers simply support that the economic strain of the current system, which shortfalls some 30-50 million Americans without affordable health insurance, is not sustainable for the nation economically.
If the commenter had been more in control of their faculties, they would have been able to withhold such stinging criticisms of my post/blog until they had actually taken the time to read…and respond with informed persuasion rather than inflamed passions. If they had been more in control, they would have taken note that, for equally pragmatic reasons, I have assailed the policies of abortion (along with the capital punishment—murder is simply wrong), gun control (people have an inherent right to defend themselves and others—and no, that doesn’t include lunatics killing to “protect the rights of the unborn”), government interference in a parent’s right to use corporal punishment on unruly children, and unnecessary government spending (which I will address more in an upcoming posting). As an African-American, I find this notion of having one “liberal” idea making one a “Liberal” to be analogous to the traditional (and somewhat outdated racist) belief that having one drop of black blood makes one black; one idea does not what a Liberal (or Conservative) make. Both notions reflect a lack of tolerance for one doesn’t agree with.
I’m sure that blind adherents (as opposed to those who are open but adherent) to conservative beliefs will respond to this by claiming that “liberal ideas simply don’t work.” The truth of the matter is that both liberal and conservative policies and ideas have a mixed track record for being effective in remedying the nation’s social and economic ills. Fiscal restraint and controlled budget spending has been proven effective when it comes to economic policies; trickledown economics has not so. Cutting taxes (along with a commensurate level of spending cuts) is good for individuals and families and has tangible benefits; cutting taxes for those who already have the ability to shelter their abundant assets from taxes in order to spur the economy is only beneficial from an ideologically abstract perspective. And one can only imagine how much individual economic chaos was averted by opposition to former president George W. Bush's proposal privatize the Social Security and tie it to stock market.
What most conservatives don't see is that rabidly attacking someone who's ideological beliefs are to the left of Pat Buchanan doesn't help their own cause; they seem as every bit as "elitist" as they claim leftist ideologues are. And just as there is a tolerance for varying degrees of conservatism among conservatives themselves, the same level of tolerance should be extended to those outside and beyond that particular ideological block. Blinding one's self to another ideological perspective based simply on the fact that it goes against one's core beliefs is not an example of how beliefs and ideas are exchanged. Its how possible policy remedies are avoided on the strength of opposing stubbornness. Having an allegiance ideology rather than reality itself reveals more about an individual and their political affiliations than how "enlightened" they would like to think others to think they are.