What does a hero look like?

This:

WSVN_police_officer_vicki_thomas_jt_131023_16x9_608

Before you read further I’ll warn you that this is a rant which has nothing to do with climate science.


From ABC news:


When Miami-Dade Police Officer Vicki Thomas, 55, was dispatched to look into a shoplifting case at a Publix grocery store, a store manager led her to Jessica Robles.

“She was crying. I said, ‘Okay, what did she take?’ And he pointed to a grocery cart that was full of groceries,” Thomas told ABCNews.com. “I’ve been on [the job] 23 years, and I went, wow.”

“She just filled up the grocery cart and she just walked out, which shocked me and I asked her, ‘Why?’” Thomas recalled. “She said, ‘My children were hungry.’ And that immediately impacted me.”

What did officer Thomas do? She bought the woman groceries.

Give that police officer a medal. I mean it.

There are two things that strike me about this story. The first is, that it takes enlightenment to know what’s the right thing to do, when it flies in the face of what the “rules” say you’re supposed to do. More than that, it takes courage to do it. Miami-Dade Police Officer Vicki Thomas has both. Give her a goddamn medal. I mean it.

The second is, that this story shows the moral bankruptcy of the republican party. That’s the party filled with, even dominated by, politicians who say people on food stamps are deadbeats who are too lazy to work so they’re just gaming the system to get a free ride.

The truth is that the vast majority of people on food stamps are struggling just to get by, unable to do so on a minimum-wage job, desperate to feed their kids.

Desperate. To feed their kids. While republican politicians worry their fat-cat heads about their tax burden. Fuck you.

I know a lot of republicans — not politicians, just ordinary people. They’re not like that. If they saw a neighbor whose kids were hungry, they would get some groceries. Feed the kids. But even though they’re not like that, they talk like that and they vote like that, because they’ve bought in to the propaganda about how deadbeats on food stamps are stealing their money. They got the idea from Faux “news” and they hear it from republican politicians. The truth is, it’s the corporate CEOs who have stolen their money, all the while convincing them that one of our finest government assistance programs — food stamps — is too expensive, but subsidies for oil companies are essential to protect “job creators.” I have a question for the “job creators”: where are the fucking jobs?

That’s why I’m registered as a democrat. I don’t particularly like the democratic party, they’ve got their share of corruption and more than their share of incompetence. But you don’t hear democrat politicians talk about cutting food stamp benefits. You hear that from republican politicians. Fuck them.

But I’m seriously considering registering as a republican. We need a choice when we go to the voting booth — a real choice — but right now we don’t have one. In most cases, the “choice” is between an incompetent democrat and an evil republican. And yes, you bet your sweet ass I really mean evil.

It’s time for people of good conscience to take back the republican party. To vote all those goddamn greedy corporate-welfare/human-misery politicians the hell out of a job. To tell the “tea party” to kiss our collective asses. Then maybe we can get a real choice in the voting booth. Because right now, the “choice” we get is no choice at all.

You know what’s most galling? That the republican assholes who are pissed off about spending tax dollars on food stamps have the goddamn gall to call themselves Christian. Fuck you.

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59 responses to “What does a hero look like?

  1. Did you catch this from Krugman looking at Paul Ryan’s take on poverty? Warning, will probably cause brains to squirt out of ears:

    “The left is making a big mistake. What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. People don’t just want a life of comfort. They want a life of dignity, they want a life of self determination.”

    `Let them eat dignity’ indeed. Relatedly, here’s Robert Reich: “The austerity narrative is nonsense – and its dangerous nonsense. It’s sort of the Vietnamisation of the economy – [that] you’re saving the economy by killing it.”

    The common thread: a narrative shaped by a far-distant elite that serves their interest at the expense of the rest of us.

    • A story too good to check: Paul Ryan and the tale of the brown paper bag
      Oh how could I possibly have known that one of the central metaphors of my speech is based on chinese whispers style distortions. It still feels so truthy! Somebody else is responsible for this!!

    • “Saving the economy by killing it”
      Indeed, the wealthiest are starving the golden goose – the middle class – by keeping all the rewards for themselves. They don’t have any place to invest all the riches they’re skimming off the top because the bottom 90% no longer have enough money to buy the products that new investments would produce. So they just keep piling that money into whatever paper investment is “hot” and inflating asset values. Prediction – stock market debacle – a la 1929 – in the next 10 years that will vaporize trillions of dollars of wealth. We haven’t completely dodged a depression yet!

  2. I agree with this rant–every sentence. Every word. Every syllable. The modern-day republican party–with its inbred, mutated bastard spawn “Tea Party” in tow–is the worst thing to ever happen to this country. To its elderly, its children, its women, its minorities, to democracy, to common sense, to science, to the environment, to education, to progress, to religion, to decency, to compassion, to everything good that is and ever was. There truly aren’t enough pejorative terms in the English language to adequately and accurately describe the current GOP.

    Well done, sir…

  3. Bern from Aus

    Hear! Hear!
    ( or in modern internet parlance: + eleventy billion!)

  4. isotopesforbreakfast

    Amen to that.

  5. We have similar in Australia who go to church every Sunday, absolve themselves of their sins, then go about acting like arseholes and complaining about the poor being lazy for the rest of the week. I like to ask them what they think Jesus would do?

  6. I remained independent for most of my life. You know when I registered as a Democrat? When I saw the disgusting, rampant bigotry spewed by the Republican party during the first Obama Presidential campaign.

  7. Tamino, I think you’ve nailed it! We should all register as Republicans and take back the party of Lincoln from the evil idiots who’ve hijacked it and convinced some pretty decent, but misguided people, to follow them while disparaging the “others”. Maybe that would shake up the pathetic, wimpy Democrats into actually doing something more like FDR did and not always caving in to the cynical pressure perpetrated by the fake Republican plutocrats. Just thought I’d vent along with you!

    Ed Hummel

  8. It’s the genius of the Republican party.

    Those that have everything convince those that have little that the real problem in this country is those that have nothing.

    [Response: Mitt Romney, union guy, and tea party guy are seated at a table when a waitress brings a plate with 12 cookies. Romney takes 11 of the cookies and puts them in his pocket. Then he turns to tea party guy and says, “Watch out: union guy wants a piece of your cookie.”]

  9. As much as I appreciate a great rant (and this one had every characteristic for which one could hope), nothing is ever this black and white.

    If you think we’re providing enough assistance to people in need in this country, you’re simply wrong. But if you think that no one is taking advantage of the assistance programs currently in place, you’re also wrong.

    I’ll be outing myself as an avid fan of NPR here, but this article provides a fascinating look at the complexities of one aspect of our assistance to those in need – disability. It’s not SNAP or general welfare, but as the article argues, they’re directly related.

    http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/

    I apologize if it’s a bit off-topic, but the charts may be interesting to the statisticians here. I can’t claim anywhere near the level of statistics knowledge of the host, but I’d be awfully surprised if the correlation between disability applications and the unemployment rate wasn’t statistically significant.

    • What if you think that some non-zero level of abuse of welfare programs is tolerable? Unlike “no one is taking advantage of the assistance programs currently in place”, it has the virtue of being something that actually existing people believe.

      • Jon,

        Poor word choice on my part. “..no one is..” should read “..only a few people are..” We’re never going to get all the fraud and abuse out of these programs, and to say we will do nothing until everything is fixed is as silly as arguing that we reduce undocumented immigration to zero at our southern border before fixing the issue we already have.

        My point is that there truly are a significant number of people taking advantage of these programs (nowhere near a majority, but a significant number nonetheless). That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have these programs (in many cases, I think we should expand them), but it doesn’t give one license to invalidate the other side of the argument.

        Tamino’s absolutely right that the American people are generous. We don’t like to see our fellow people in need. That being said, we also don’t like to be made the fool. In my mind, our elected leaders in Washington prey on both tendencies; the Democrats to the former, the Republicans to the latter.

        I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum in my family alone: some in desperate straits who can’t make ends meet and don’t qualify for assistance; others – literally millionaires – who continue to receive tens of thousands of dollars in direct benefits from the Government that they certainly don’t need. I’ve seen it enough times in my extremely limited family sample to know that both sides likely extrapolate to huge numbers of people across the US.

        The way I see it, if Republicans want to cut funding to these programs, they have an obligation to show the people that these cuts won’t hurt the neediest in our society. The other side of that argument applies to us: if we want to increase these benefits, we have to show that the programs do a good job allocating the money to those who need it most. Instead, we have a Republican party that refuses to acknowledge the great benefits these programs provide, and a Democratic party that refuses to do anything about their problems.

    • I know someone with a serious mental disability–a very good guy, but spends a lot of time and energy dealing with voices in his head, extreme mood swings, and the like. He wants to work, and has done in the past, but would be limited in his options because of said disability.

      He gets a monthly stipend from Social Security. It’s a tad over $400 monthly; he has a home because someone with a bigger heart than perhaps I have has given him a room, rent-free (though now he is asked to find someplace else within the next few months.) But more important is the Medicaid, which in this state is dependent upon SSI status (as I understand it, at least.) Lose that, and he loses any ability to pay for his meds, and therefore any ability to manage his condition.

      There are no social workers here, basically; he has no-one to help him navigate the system. SSI officials here are *not* helpful, and do not provide trustworthy information. (As I know from some unrelated experiences–eg., an SSI official refusing to accept a legal will on the grounds that it was ‘too old.’ Were we supposed to go back to the deceased for an update? Pretty sure that was complete nonsense legally, but there’s not much accountability for these folks, at least not without going to the legal mat to get it.)

      And guess what? His status is under medical review; has been for months. All spare energy goes toward trying to deal, practically and psychologically, with that review. Zero left for vocational searches or looking at training opportunities.

      And the ‘inquisitor’ seems bent on turfing him out of the system–or so he believes. And I’m far from sure that it’s just the paranoid component of his mental issues. Based upon the policy choices and rhetoric of some of the elected officials, it seems likely enough. The pittance he gets is apparently just too much for the public purse–though I suspect it’s far, far less than what the state will pay if he becomes homeless, unstable, and has to rely on already overstretched ERs for (no doubt frequent) medical care.

      Stupid AND evil.

    • Look, we have a social system that is being taken advantage of by some people, and they mainly aren’t the poor. But if we keep looking at the poor who do rort the system, while we ignore the far bigger problem of the wealthy ripping off and manipulating the system, then we are a bunch of mugs who deserve what we get.

  10. Horatio Algeranon

    I agree that the Republicans are egregious for all their criticism of food stamps, raising the minimum wage and the like (to say nothing of their science denial), but the central issue is how the US reached this point (over decades, with both Republicans and Democrats in power) where we, the richest nation on earth, have so many who are hungry and/or homeless or just squeaking by.

    That’s something for which both parties share blame and for which endless lip service by politicians (saying one thing and doing just the opposite) is cheap and quite frankly, revolting.

    Incidentally, does “Judith Curry Opens mouth, inserts foot” appear on “related topics” because she doesn’t have enough to eat?

    • …but the central issue is how the US reached this point (over decades, with both Republicans and Democrats in power) where we, the richest nation on earth, have so many who are hungry and/or homeless or just squeaking by[?]

      I’m loathe to point at the elephant in the room because I know what’s going to happen by way of peanut gallery responses, but one of the reasons is that there’s a fetish for continual reduction in taxes. Compare the US (and Australia too, for that matter, although we’re ‘in-between’) with Scandinavian countries. The Scandinavians are higher taxing, but they have top-class health, education, and other social outcomes.

      Yes, tax is anathema to freedom-loving libertarians, as is nanny-state care, but in an efficient governance context as is the case in some of the north-west Euro countries there is a huge pay-back for the up-front payment of taxes. At least, there is if your social conscience is so inclined…

      • I often argue that if, in fact, one’s values are free market libertarian, with a desire for little government interference in the marketplace, then: (a) ALL subsidies should be removed, especially those supporting fossil fuels. With the proviso to follow, it would be consistent to remove them from renewables, too. (b) Companies should EXPECT to pay full cost for doing business. Thus, for instance, municipalities should not need to use taxpayer funds to collect the waste from companies products, like discards of plastic containers or electronics or hazardous waste. Rather, these costs should be charged pack to their producers. A system of identifying products by their manufacturer should be established at the cost of manufacturers to realize this. Anything else amounts to government subsidy of these businesses. (c) Companies should pay full cost to society of their products. Thus, for instance, fossil fuel companies should reimburse countries for the cost of removing their implicit use of the atmosphere and the oceans as a sewer.

        Opponents often try to deflect these arguments by talking about transfers of wealth. So is a Carbon Tax, and if a “transfer of wealth” is okay for a company, so is taxing Carbon, or expecting people who live by the seashore to pay the full cost of doing that, including the taxpayer burden of keeping roads, utilities, and emergency going to their homes after big storms.

        As many here realize, “free market” and being a “liberarian” is in practice one-sided …. If it’s good for business, violations are fine. Otherwise, it’s not.

        Just askin’ for some consistency …

      • Getting rather far afield, but I’ll try at least to be succinct. IMO, libertarianism fails in the same way that so many intellectually seductive ‘isms’ fail (including the Stalinist ‘socialism’ that Ayn Rand was reacting against)–it mistakes healthy tension for existential conflict.

        Specifically, individualism is pitted against collectivism, and envisioned as an irreducible conflict. IMO, the (biologically irreducible) reality is that individuals exist as parts of communities. The part depends upon the whole, and the whole upon its parts. And each level has legitimate claims upon the other–citizens rely upon the protection of the law, but are in turn obliged to respect it, for example.

        And there is a tension there. It’s the subject of innumerable works of art, from Aristotle to George Lucas. It’s healthy, despite the fact that it can become extremely uncomfortable when circumstances are wrong (as when love conflicts with duty, to take one much-exercised example.)

        Try to dictate the primacy of individual over community, (or, as in Stalinism, community over individual), and you arrive at something ultimately incoherent and unworkable–or so I see it, anyway.

    • I think its the “American dream”. While people believe that rubbish, they’ll put up with being poor because they are just waiting for their big break.

      If they grow up and realise the big break will never come, then they might actually insist on a better deal. When you think about it, there is a resemblance with the corporate model of religion, where the general population are urged to forgo gratification in this life in return for paradise in the next.

  11. Yep. It’s the primary elections that make the most difference now, and if you’re in a gerrymandered-Republican district, registering as a Republican entitles you to help them choose the lesser evil. David Brin has been talking about this for a while: YOU can start a shift in U.S. politics

  12. Meanwhile, over the pond, the government simply denies there’s a problem:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/28/coalition-wont-face-fact-of-food-banks

    Lord Freud, the government’s adviser on welfare reform, had to explain away food banks by saying: “There is an almost infinite demand for a free good.”

  13. Unfortunately taking back the repuglican party is a fool’s errand, because the party of Lincoln has become the party of Jeff Davis.

    I grew up down there at the tail end of Jim Crow. So until the demographics of the bright red South change……

    BTW, your rant is right on.

    I decided in Jan 03 I would never ever vote for an R ever again – that’s when my son deployed on the first of his six tours in Iraq. I was working in CB defense and highly suspicious we were being lied to .

  14. I’m not affiliated with a party. Both main parties are sometimes very strongly against things that matter to me, and their joint control over the government is doing our country no favors. I really think the best thing to do with my vote from now on is to vote for alternate parties. Especially because I live in such a strongly blue state and my vote doesn’t matter anyway. The only meaning I can get out of my vote is if I put it toward getting a third party 5% of the popular vote so they get federal funding and a better shot in the future. I’m not really even particular about which party gets more power, whether it’s the Libertarian or the Green Party. Whichever one has the best shot at the time, I’ll vote for it. I just want to see American citizens with actual democratic power again.

    • “I’m not really even particular about which party gets more power, whether it’s the Libertarian or the Green Party.”

      You might want to be a bit more particular than that, E. A.

      • Why? My main objective is the disruption of the two-party system. And while I’m no Libertarian, I would rather see them in power than Republicans. At least the Libertarian party is based on a philosophy and isn’t just an amalgam of topical political stances designed merely to foster contention.

    • While I sympathize Nader-Gore is not yet ancient history, and the might-have-been a tragic footnote to our damaged future.

  15. Jonathan Stewart has had some beautiful takes on this subject lately:

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/jon-stewart-trashes-fox-and-eric-bolling-for-food-stamp-hypocrisy/

  16. Nice rant. Some things need to be said loud and clear.

    It floors me that, upon returning home to visit family in Republican Land, I’m constantly in the position of arguing for progressive tax policies with people who make 1/4 of what I do.

    It appears that relentless propaganda can achieve mind-blowing results. And that doesn’t bode well for the future of civilization…

  17. KeefeAndAmanda

    I think that the idea of having people register as Republicans presumably to vote in primaries to try to make the Republican Party less conservative and more progressive is a much less productive idea than to have people register as Democrats to vote in primaries for the most liberal Democrat to try to make the Democratic Party less conservative and more progressive.

    The Democratic Party has lost its way over the past few decades, allowing itself to be pulled further and further toward the more conservative parts of the political spectrum, so much so that the average Democrat now is essentially what a “Rockefeller Republican” used to be during the years of the great liberal presidents of the mid twentieth century. See

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockefeller_Republican

    as to what I mean. This claim about the average Democrat includes Obama, Biden, and both Clintons – Obama actually said that he considered himself not a liberal but a Blue Dog Democrat:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/01/us/politics/01bai.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&ref=politics&adxnnlx=1291302117-GtaA4nNpzlYdUq3CwkYdcA&

    Quote: “Privately, Mr. Obama has described himself, at times, as essentially a Blue Dog Democrat…”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Dog_Coalition

    I got pissed when I first suspected this in 2009-2010 and saw this suspicion confirmed by such reports as the above. I voted for him in the 2008 primaries because he presented himself as more progressive than Clinton. I feel conned.

    True progressives are becoming harder and harder to find. The great liberals of the past are rare. See

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Bill_of_Rights

    to see an example of the true progressivism that is now so rare among US politicians. (The film footage at this Wikipedia page is only two minutes long.) Please note the historical context in terms of the economic situation of that time and that it was during WWII: This exhortation to have a Second Bill of Rights was the last part of Roosevelt’s last State of the Union address in January 1944, delivered from the Oval Office because of health reasons, shortly before his death a few months later on April 12, well before D-Day on June 6. Michael Moore found this lost footage of Roosevelt during his research for his film on how unregulated big corporate capitalism in the US has in some ways become an obscenity.

    See

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=16518

    for the full transcript of this 1944 State of the Union address by this greatest President in US history.

    Bernie Sanders, in reply to whether he would run for President against Clinton in the primary season in 2016, did not say that he would not. I hope he does. I will vote for him. We need to “take back” the Democratic Party.

    Note: If one is registered as a Republican, then one (in most states) will not be able to vote for the most liberal Democrat in the Democratic primaries – to vote for Sanders in 2016 for example – to send a message to the Democratic Party to go back to its roots in progressivism.

    • Probably depends upon your resident state. Here, there’s no point in voting Democrat right now, except as a protest; the GOP typically polls about 60%. So Tamino’s proposal makes sense.

      In NYC, say, another answer would emerge.

    • Er, your timeline’s a bit off. D-day was indeed in June 1944, but Roosevelt died in April *1945*, just a few weeks before VE day.

  18. Over past decades, the right has convinced millions to vote against self-interest in the name of the Church of Free Market. This Church has far-reaching dogma that affects everything from human space flight to environmental protection to governmental intervention in very long recessions.
    On the other hand, it’s the Church that will take advantage of record-low interest rates to bond the public construction we so sorely need- new airports, transportation, and the rest. Right?

  19. The idea of Democrats registering and voting as Republicans in solidly Republican districts merits more attention, I think. If it turns out that indeed it’s now the primary battle that counts, Dems could tip the scale at the very least towards more moderate candidates. I personally don’t advocate dirtier tactics, like voting for the craziest candidate of the other party in the Primary to help the other party’s candidate in the General (i.e., don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you), but taking the fight where it’s actually taking place is fair by me. The party of Lincoln sure needs help.

  20. I have multiple disabilities, five in number, and the first three all have fatigue as a side effect (for the worst syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, fatigue is the major side effect). I fall asleep 1 to 3 times per day, even after a full night’s rest. I’ve lost two jobs that way. But I have tried for years, with no success, to get Social Security Disability. Republicans who think it’s easy to game SSD should try it some time.

    BTW, although there was a time when I would split my ticket, I will never vote Republican again. I will pull the Democratic lever every time. The GOP doesn’t need to be reformed, it needs to be destroyed. Yes, we need an opposition party, but not a purely destructive one. Let the Libertarians and the Greens and a dozen others compete against the Democrats, but the party of Lincoln is now the party of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

    • Off topic, but relevant:
      Hi Barton, did you see that there might be some advances on the horizon in treating Crohn’s disease

      http://finance.yahoo.com/news/genetic-microbiome-discoveries-point-way-140610243.html;_ylt=AwrBEiK6nitT3UAAjTnQtDMD

    • KeefeAndAmanda

      Too all who have or know someone who has Crohn’s Disease, to share a way to lessen the suffering:

      I weaned myself totally from the anti-inflammatory meds in the late 1990s as follows. Here’s how and why:

      Most omega-6 polyunsaturated fat – especially the main one, linoleic acid (LA) – are in the form of fatty acids that are precursors to pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. LA turns into arachidonic acid (AA), another omgega-6 fat which turns into these pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. That is, essentially, the more LA we eat, the more inflammatory activity in our bodies, and the less, the less, all other things being equal. One omega-6 that actually is a precursor to some anti-inflammatory prostaglandins is GLA, found in high amounts in the supplement borage oil. (I found that some borage oil and some fish-based omega-3 help a little, but higher intake of omega-6 totally overwhelms all omega-3 benefits, so the key is getting omega-6 intake way down. Note that fish fat has almost as much omega-6 as it does omega-3.)

      I analyzed my diet and found it to be high in LA. I got my intake of LA from well more than 10% of calories to less than 5% of calories. (Although it’s an essential fat, we need minimally only maybe a few percentage points of total calories each day.) After a few months, after whatever body stores of LA I had reduced sufficiently, I no linger needed to take the meds. I have been free of those things even since even though I still have to watch what I eat (no hot spicy foods, etc.).

      There is science to back this up. Example:

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261561403000839?cc=y

      “Conclusions: LA, but not OA, increased the production of IL-8 by HISM cells. These results suggest that replacement of LA by OA in the diet of Crohn’s patients and increased intake of a diet rich in antioxidants could be beneficial in decreasing inflammatory activity in Crohn’s disease.”

      (Note on above: OA is oleic acid, omega-9 monounsaturated fat, the main fatty acid in olive oil, essentially the only oil I can still eat in large amounts, usually in the so-called extra light form.)

      But this does take lots of discipline. One has to religiously read every label – and this includes the part that lists all the ingredients. One has to educate oneself as to the LA content of every type of fat and oil in every last food, prepared or otherwise, in terms of what percentage of it is LA. But it’s worth it.

      Note: Unfortunately, almost all plant-based oils and fats have percentages of LA that are high if one wants to get total LA to less than 5% of calories. (Safflower, sunflower, walnut, cottonseed, corn, and soybean oils all are at least roughly 50% LA, and almond, pecan, canola, and peanut oils roughly And some animal-based fats do, also – chicken fat, for example. I stay away from dark meat and the skin.)

      What do I eat lots of?

      My answer applies also to all diabetics and others who want to know about blood sugar: Rice, Korean, not American, preferably brown. I found that Korean rice, white or brown, has a much lower glycemic index (GI) than either white or brown American rice, the latter being worse than sugar in some instances. This is because the starches amylose and amylopectin are different in all the different rice out there, and the former starch has a much lower GI than the latter. Korean rice has much higher levels of amylose and much lower levels of amylopectin, the opposite being true in American rice. (Use more water than usual with the Korean rice because of this different type of starch.)

      Here is some science to back this up:

      http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/61/2/334.full.pdf

      Quote:

      “Chronic consumption of high-amylose foods normalized the insulin response….and showed a potential benefit for diabetic subjects.”

      • I have Crohn’s Disease. There is no known cure.

      • KeefeAndAmanda

        Barton Paul Levenson wrote:

        “I have Crohn’s Disease. There is no known cure.”

        To reply:

        So do I, and I apologize if what I wrote above caused you to think that I was claiming that I cured myself or that I am symptom-free, since I agree that there is no known cure.

        I was only sharing how and why it is that what we eat can have a massive effect on the severity of the symptoms of diseases, whether it is inflammation-based diseases like Crohn’s or arthritis or other kinds like type 2 diabetes (which is why I shared what I shared at the end of my last message about the effects of the different types of rice on blood sugar, by way of the fact that there are different types of starches in rice, amylose and amylopectin, that have very different effects on blood sugar).

        The America diet has way too much omega-6 fat in it – and American brown and white rice typically have a glycemic index that is way too high because of their much lower amylose content compared to Korean rice, and perhaps this relates to what C. Everett Coop said in the 1980s when he was Surgeon General, which is that two thirds of all disease is caused – yes, caused – by bad diet. At the very least, these facts on omega-6 fat and high-glycemic-index foods in the American diet makes the severity of symptoms of perhaps most diseases worse and even much worse than what would otherwise be the case.

        Quick side note: The reason I’m harping on glycemic index is because the higher the glcemic index of a food, the more that food produces inflammation in the body, and so those of us with inflammation-based diseases like Crohn’s or arthritis need to know and heed this.

        My brother (who is a medical doctor, a neurologist) also has Crohn’s. He also has benefitted from what I shared above.

        He was surprised that his mathematician brother had something to say about the disease process, since not only he but my father and two of my uncles are also medical doctors, and they thought that their training in medicine was all they needed to know with respect to the disease process. Some of them are now paying attention to the area of nutrition.

        The typical MD is not knowledgeable in the area of nutrition and its relation to the disease process – medical schools are still quite lacking in addressing that area. That means that we have to inform ourselves of what is known in that area if we are to learn what is there to learn in that area. (Perhaps some of the reason why we don’t here much from MDs about nutrition is their fear of being sued if things don’t work out. But still, they could refer people to dieticians or certified clinical nutritionists.)

        Some MDs are into the nutrition thing, though:

        http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02012/anti-inflammatory-diet

        Quote:

        “The majority of [consumed carbohydrates] should be in the form of less-refined, less-processed foods with a low glycemic load.”

        Some more science to back all this up:

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21139128

        Quote:

        “The emerging role of chronic inflammation in the major degenerative diseases of modern society has stimulated research into the influence of nutrition and dietary patterns on inflammatory indices…. Significant dietary influences have been established for glycemic index (GI) and load (GL), fiber, fatty acid composition, magnesium, carotenoids, and flavonoids. A traditional Mediterranean dietary pattern, which typically has a high ratio of monounsaturated (MUFA) to saturated (SFA) fats and omega-3 to omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFAs) and supplies an abundance of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains, has shown anti-inflammatory effects when compared with typical North American and Northern European dietary patterns in most observational and interventional studies and may become the diet of choice for diminishing chronic inflammation in clinical practice.”

  21. Congratulations on a righteous rant. I’m reminded of Tobis at his best, (hope you don’t mind) when he said with point and purpose:
    “the fucking heath of the fucking planet is at stake”

  22. In Pennsylvania the Republican legislature has gerrymandered many seats into secure Republican ones, making it a state that is securely red in the House but purple or even blue in the Senate and White House. They’ve done this by things like splitting the city of Erie in half (to water down urban Dems with rural Republicans), turning Allentown into a skinny T-shape that projects way into the countryside. My district had a small Republican section tacked on to it to swing it red. One of the state Republican leaders made a speech in a legislative session basically saying that voter ID laws that the stolen legislature voted in would guarantee the election of Mitt Romney to the White House.
    Fuck them INDEED! It seems now the only way they can win is to cheat.

  23. Horatio Algeranon

    Well, when the heath of the planet is at stake, who can quibble?

    Moor power to him.

  24. Wondering why there are no righties rebutting? Censored?

  25. Right on, brother.

    13 years ago I penned a short essay that is more true today than it was back then.

    There is no crime in being ignorant. We are all ignorant on different subjects. I am ignorant on most things Canadian. I don’t know how many provinces they have, couldn’t name all of them, haven’t a clue what the population of each is, etc., etc. You name it — if it’s Canadian — I probably don’t know it. It’s nothing to be proud of, but neither is it something of which to be terribly ashamed.
    But then, I’m American. They taught us mostly US history in school. If I were a Canadian and didn’t know those facts about Canada, I’d have to be pretty stupid. And there are stupid Canadians just as there are stupid Americans and stupid people of every nationality, race, creed, or population grouping of your choice.

    Ignorance and stupidity are generally identified by a lack of knowledge. Insanity is a little different. The insane know something is “true” despite overwhelming contrary evidence. It’s one thing to be wrong, it’s another thing to persist in being wrong when every fact is against you. Often these loonies have conversations inside their heads (delusions) that justify their beliefs. Just completely irrational.

    Evil. Knowing right and doing wrong — intentionally, with eyes wide open. Generally as a result of avarice or a lust for power — or for the sheer joy of corrupting something good. Evil knows.

    As I go through life I play a game. The rules are simple: Observe conservative right-wing zealots, and then identify them correctly as ignorant, stupid, insane or just plain evil.

    Each of them will fall into one of the four categories, but sometimes it can be difficult to decide which one. Now you can make it your game too.

    And it’s not just limited to politics – we can play the same game with climate:
    A. Watts?
    Pielke Jr?
    Issa?
    Imhoffe?
    Stephen McIntyre?
    Doug Cotton :)

  26. Pete Dunkelberg

    Right on!
    Except for hoping to reform the Repubs. I’d be glad to see that party go away (as it may on a presidential and senatorial level) and Americans reassemble different parties. To make room for a Progressive Party, the Repubs must wither. Perhaps it is best that their craziest candidates win their primaries. This would not be precedent setting.

  27. On this matter, I recommend the essay by Thomas Frank:
    What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2004)

  28. Ace rant!

    But I’m with those who disagree with trying to reform the Republicans/ Tories/ Liberals (for the USAnians, Brits, Aussies) from the inside out. The overriding issue is how far the Overton window has shifted to the right.

    The classic example in Australia was the now-defunct Australian Democrats. They started out as an offshoot, more or less, of the Liberals – who were much more in the traditional conservative mode until the time of the radical right of John Howard. Their prime political objective was stated as “keep the bastards honest”.

    A year or so before they finally went down the gurgler, I recall some Howard lackey castigating them as being “left-wing”. And I realised that many of their policy positions were, in fact, to the left of the Labour Party which had let itself be gradually, imperceptibly to some, dragged further and further away from their traditional politics and more to “the middle”. Unfortunately the middle had shifted in the meantime and kept on shifting. I suspect that that was a consequence of losing the real, hardcore left voices in the public debate – the communists and the self-proclaimed socialists might have had as many parties as members, but their voices and policies had previously made it clear what a full range of right to left policies and voices was like.

    What had happened to the Democrats was that they’d not changed their basic policy positions much at all while the whole political landscape had shifted around them so much they were stranded on the left. There were no public “hard left” voices remaining to show just how all the parties really lined up against their own policies of the past.

    If I were in the US, I’d be inclined to go with joining the Democrats and arguing for a more “traditional” Democrat parcel of policies. Start with the best of Johnson and go from there, add in some strong contributions from women, POC (all colours) and indigenous people and see what you get. Couldn’t possibly be worse than what we’ve got now.

  29. There was a telling remark about food stamps from John Boehner, that Charles Pierce picked up:

    Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is accusing several states of “cheating” by increasing their home heating aid to recipients of food stamps in a bid to circumvent cuts to federal funding.

    “I would hope that the House would act to try to stop this cheating and this fraud from continuing,” Boehner said. “I mean, listen. The American people work hard for their money, they send it here because we impose taxes on them, and they expect us to spend the money wisely. And, we just passed the farm bill, and then we find states finding ways around the law, and, frankly, perpetuating the fraud that we were trying to stop.”

    Even though he is even less coherent than usual, Boehner here in mid-shitfit seems to be implying that the entire LIHEAP/SNAP programs are the “fraud that we are trying to stop.” States are “finding ways around the laws”? Unpossible! Boehner’s complaint should be very amusing to those people in, say, the pro-choice movement.

  30. Tamino sounding practically European there. Well said sir. The plutocrats really do need reigning in, and someone has to work out what a sustainable economy looks like.

  31. Philippe CHantreau

    “someone has to work out what a sustainable economy looks like.”
    Good luck with that one. It includes the end of perpetual growth, but oscillations around a mean instead. That mean will be dictated by physical limitations, we don’t get to choose. That mean will also be adjusted according to the level of total world population, which is flirting closer and closer to the delirious with every passing day. Hopefully the oscillations can be somewhat predicted and their “slope” controlled. The natural world will be mostly a memory to be reminisced upon in old documentary footage. Any remaining “wild animal” big enough to be a factor for humans will sport ear tags and a GPS collar. In any case, those of us who live to see it will probably regret the times when everything was so easy. Of course, we can wonder what the alternatives are.
    Truth is, there is no good way to keep up billions and billions of superior mammals using very large amounts of resources and requiring very fast cycles of energy and matter.