Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Code of Honor is universal and timeless.

Frank Miniter’s analysis of ‘codes of honor’ over the ages is essentially accurate. From the Samurai and early Christian’s codes to the code of the Texas Rangers and the Marines “most of the rules [in these codes written over the ages] are the same.”
But Mr. Miniter’s “Call to Action for Men” (Father’s Day) had it backwards regarding his analysis of conservatives and liberals application of such codes. In today’s hyper globalized world it is conservatives who are “morally relative” and resist the universal enforcement of such codes. It is progressives who are more likely to have a “black and white set of concrete moralities” guiding their actions. Look no further than a lack of conservative support for the universal protection of basic human rights where protections are justified relative only to one’s nationality, religion, income level, skin color, or relative importance to the interests of the United States. That’s no code of honor.
Miniter is correct when he writes there are “fundamental absolute rights and wrongs” consistently “written by various cultures across several millenniums…often…established independently from each other.” And, I believe the latest of these universal code agreements was the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But it’s mostly conservatives who refuse to strengthen the United Nations ability to enforce those basic inalienable rights. The conservative’s code appears to hold national sovereignty supreme to such inalienable human rights. The rest of the world can go to hell. We just need to defend our Constitution. And, even our Bill of Rights is optional in war time.
Our nation’s founding Fathers wrote in our Declaration of Independence that human rights are universal and inalienable -- regardless of sex, age, religion, skin color or nationality.
Consider persistent conservative views and foreign policies regarding what is allowable treatment for suspected terrorists. Enhanced interrogation techniques, lifelong incarceration without trial, and death as collateral damage -- are all acceptable violations of human rights outside our borders. Equal justice isn’t needed if we are fighting Muslim extremists to protect our “freedoms” and our way of life. In their relatively moral world “innocent until proven guilty” and ‘law enforcement’ are reserved for U.S. citizens not suspected of Muslim extremist terrorism.
Such conservatives views are biased relative to their own nationality. Their belief in the exceptionalism of our nation and their worship a Constitution that was anything but moral regarding its original laws regarding slaves. They forget that it was actually the Amendments to the original Constitution that gave protection to human rights…and even those rights were limited to white males. Genocide of the American Indian was permissible because they were unChristian savages. Now bombing suspected Taliban leaders and ‘accidently’ killing innocent men women and children is ‘regrettable’ but allowed because we are an exceptional nation… and they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In this liberal’s view, the killing of innocent men, women and children is murder. Full well knowing that war results in collateral damage should mean that starting a war – is a war crime. And those who initiate it should be held accountable in a court of law. Conservatives believe such murder is OK because our President and our troops mean well. That is not a code to live by. It is a code for world chaos. Creating a world federation with the capacity to enforce the universal declaration of human rights is the code of conduct all the world needs now. Even conservatives.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Failing to End Hunger is Liberal's fault.

After nearly 30 years of working with tens of thousands of people and hundreds of organizations to end hunger, I must now admit publically, what we did, didn’t work that well. There was some progress. There used to be 42,000 children dying each day from easily preventable malnutrition and infectious diseases. Now there’s only 25,000 a day. Still about 7 times the daily death toll attributed to Nazi Germany’s death camps. But still not enough deaths. Enough to change the minds of those in power.
Who’s in power? Those who vote on appropriation and authorization bills, those who run organizations who try to influence those who vote, and finally, those who raise the children who often don’t have the income, literacy, health care, nutrition or legal status to raise health children the votes could help.
Humanitarian logic and compassion simply failed to achieve the achievable and affordable year 2000 goals set in at the 1990 at the World Summit for Children. And, now, the similar achievable and affordable Millennium Development Goals set in 2000 for 2015 are unlikely to be met.
Short of waiting for the second coming of Christ, I do believe there are two other means available for motivating those in power.
One is to make easily preventable human death and suffering against the law. Essentially, effectively protecting inalienable human rights. If the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were a globally enforceable document……massive child death and disability would be eliminated because those in power who allow it would be held accountable. And knowing they would be held accountable…they would do what is obviously urgently necessary to stop such deaths and human destruction.
But since so few hold world law dear enough to advocate for it… the more likely path to the end of hunger -- is for those in power (and those who influence those in power) to understand that there are serious threats to their own freedoms, security and prosperity if they fail to end persistent hunger and lethal poverty. If people were clear about the economic, security and liberty costs of failing to meet such basic and inalienable human needs, the paltry resources needed to provide them would be made immediately and those who oppose it would be made immediately embarrassed.
For less than 1/6 of what Americans spend gambling each year…world hunger could be eliminated, and half the world’s infectious diseases could be wiped out. The latter done with the simple provision of clean water and safe sanitation, costing about 1/100 of what our great nation spent ‘liberating’ Iraq.
Ending preventable childhood hunger, disease and disability really isn’t an issue of money. The amount needed is embarrassingly small compared to current ‘rescue’ packages. The proven solutions are cheap and available. All we lack is the political will to do the doable. And we lack it because progressives still believe their humanitarian instincts are adequate for mobilizing the political will.
There are now a billion hungry people in the world hoping something will change. They are not alone.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Net war in Iran = trend against national soveriegnty.


(thank you Jody Gatwood for inspiring this blog response!)

This "Iran Net wa" blog conforms with a key element of the new world we live in.

Exponential advances in the power, affordability, and ubiquity of dual-use technology (cyber, bio, chemical, nuclear, nano, and even conventional..) are making people more powerful than nations.

It used to be that only superpowers had such capacity. Now even Haitians have cell phones. Eventually, human rights everywhere will gain supremacy over national sovereignty (the right of any nation, to do whatever it wants, to whomever it wants, whenever it wants) anywhere.

In summary: We're mad as hell! And, we aren’t going to take it (lying down, repressed, ignored, abused, overwhelmed, outgunned, peacefully, impoverished, ill, illiterate...) any more!!!

In spite of aging...It's getting harder and harder to be cynical.

The current uprising in Iran suggests that Twitter and Facebook are vastly more effective than CNN at providing news updates. One blog poster says "one of the ways people have been trying to make it more difficult for the Iranian police to track down dissidents is by changing their twitter location and timezone to that of Tehran. Feel free to do that too." Now you too can frustrate the Iranian thought police. I never thought Twittering could be so subversive.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

WHO Pandemic call wrong? but important.

Dear Editor,

Henry Miller (A premature Pandemic call, Sunday, June 14) may be a smart man but he’s going to feel pretty stupid if H1N1 mutates this fall or winter into a far more lethal pandemic. Given the horrific death toll that could result from ignoring this possibility WHO’s decision to call it a ‘level 6’ was hardly “dubious”. Given, the almost non-existent global health infrastructure and our own competent yet insufficient domestic emergency medical capacity both we and the world will need as much time as possible to prepare. Any serious virologist knows will a killer pandemic will come and is in fact overdue. If H1N1 continues to be a dud…consider it excellent practice. The inevitable killer pandemic will come and ‘practice makes perfect’ and “be prepared” are not just cute phrases. When facing something as powerful as a natural mutating virus or even a human-made viral WMD that some whacko bioterrorist is inevitably working on, being too cautious is the same as being real dead.
Suggesting that WHO’s “policy role should be limited drastically’ is odd given that it already is. Each country is allowed to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, and to whomever it wants regarding infectious out breaks within its own borders. That’s a receipt for absolute chaos and catastrophically lethal and expensive consequences. If Dr. Miller doesn’t mind paying this catastrophic price for protecting our nation’s sovereignty –I would classify him as “scientifically challenged”. Nowhere in nature does ‘national sovereignty’ exist. It only resides in our minds and written on paper documents. And pathogens can’t read words on paper or our minds.
If we, WHO and the rest of the world remain woefully unprepared in the midst of the next serious pandemic Dr. Miller will be remembered as the “witless Monty Python character.”
We need far more global health policy procedures and funding. Enforceable policies and dependable funding. Currently we have none. And Dr. Miller wants less? Is it any wonder why conservatives lost the last election?

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

CEDAW ratification vital to U.S. national security

President Obama will likely sign the CEDAW treaty but we can't assume the Senate will ratify it. Our founding fathers designed our governing system so minorities can block progress. If the extremists in the U.S. Senate understand that our national security is best served by subordinating our national sovereignty to ensuring the human rights of women...we have a chance at improving our security.
Most murderous Islamic extremists come from nations where women's rights don't exist. Women's rights to an education, economic and political empowerment is the best means of reducing population growth and related environmental pressures of wasteful and destructive consumption patterns. Women's access to basic health services and health education to become community health workers, nurses and doctors is one of the best means of preventing and preparing for pandemics and other infectious threats. Empowering all the world's women to gain and hold bread winning jobs is an economic stimulus package that will rise all boats. And, finally, Winning the hearts and minds of women everywhere...and helping them save their children from early death, permanent disability or brain stunting malnutrition will give us the best intelligence we need to find males who are determined to mass murder those people in the civilized world -- who bring health, education, clean water, sanitation and nutrition to men, women and children that women love and care for on a daily basis.
Educating the radical men in the U.S. Senate to the needs of women world wide is the best shot we have of improving U.S. national security. 'National sovereignty' is a lethal concept in an irreversible hyper-interdependent world.