Saturday, May 19, 2012

With Liberty Comes Responsibility: Make Smarter Soft Drink Decisions

Just how bad are soft drinks for you?  A new study indicates if you are drinking more than one soda a day, you are at an increased risk for stroke.  Dr. Melina Jampolis indicated,
The dangers of soda extend beyond the increase in calories, although this is likely an important contributor to weight gain and obesity. Calories consumed in liquid form do not satisfy hunger as effectively as calories consumed in solid food form, so people often consume more total calories, which can lead to weight gain.
In addition, consuming large amounts of rapidly digested sugar and high fructose corn syrup causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin, which can lead to inflammation and insulin resistance, both of which may increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
The large doses of fructose from both sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup may be particularly detrimental to your health as they can cause the accumulation of metabolically toxic belly fat, cholesterol abnormalities -- including high triglycerides and reduced levels of HDL (good cholesterol) -- and nonalcoholic associated fatty liver disease.
Soda is also associated with symptoms of gastro-esophageal reflux disease, when the contents of the stomach leak back up and cause a burning sensation in the esophagus. While drinking soda is not known to cause ulcers, it can cause symptoms to flare up.
The American Heart Association indicates we should have less than 3 regular soft drinks per week. I read this to family members, and they always say to me, "my diet pepsi has 0 calories though, so I am okay."

Studies are also starting to indicate significant harm from diet soft drinks too (meaning coke zero, diet pepsi, diet coke aren't going to save you with 0 calories).  The NY Times reported in 2012,
Some studies have suggested that consumption of diet soft drinks may be associated with Type 2 diabetes and development of the condition known as metabolic syndrome — high blood pressure, abdominal obesity and other risk factors. Now a 10-year epidemiological study has found a link between diet soft drinks and cardiovascular disease.
 So much for the conventional wisdom that diet soft drinks are not a problem.

If we want to solve obesity, we have to make smarter decisions.  Realizing diet soft drinks aren't going to save us from the problems that soft drinks cause is one starting point. 

I don't want government using costs of health care to infringe on our liberty, but if we want to stop that type of infringement, we have to start showing we can take personal responsibility instead of just shouting how it is about personal responsibility and creating higher costs by bad decision making just to be stubborn. 

With liberty comes responsibility.

Fiction over Reality: Rubio Ignores Reality to Call Obama Divisive

GOP "rising star" Marco Rubio called President Obama the most divisive and destructive President in history.  It is here that Rubio exposes both his lack of understanding of U.S. history and his hyperpartisanship.  It is clear he is seeking a VP nod and significance in the GOP before the spotlight passes him by. 

Historically speaking, elections surrounding the turn of the century have been as aggressive and divisive as it gets, leading to significant impacts on the U.S. each time.  And that doesn't even focus on George W. Bush and the GOP's hyperpartisanship and the damage done of two wars, doubling the national debt in eight years, having two recessions (including starting the recession that Obama has been dealing with his entire term), and far more. 

Looking at Obama's term specifically, the President has done things that are unprecedented including meeting with the entire GOP congressional contingent and going down to Capital Hill to do it.  He has made offer after offer of compromise, only to have the GOP say "sure, we will take the parts we like and scrap the rest."  They have held up nominations in ways that have never been done before, used the threat of filibuster to stifle legislation, and yet President Obama still tries to work with them. 

President Obama compromised on health care reform and sacrificed some components of his plan to adopt the Mitt Romney and Bob Dole market approach.  President Obama compromised on tax cuts when his base wanted taxation on the richest in America.  He gave the GOP their dream debt deal with an automatic 10% across the board cut if no deal was reached (who knows what incentive that gives the GOP to deal, especially the "tea party" GOPers).  He has focused on debt reduction to compromise with the GOP at a time when no objective economist would ever have supported austerity measures. 

Marco Rubio, remember, it takes someone willing to actually come to the negotiation table to negotiate with.  When not one but two American Enterprise Institute scholars have come out and said it is the GOP causing the problems in Washington, that says it all. 

SpaceX Launch Aborted: Why do we care?

SpaceX's first launch attempt to the space station flopped.  What does it mean and why should we care? 

It wasn't that long ago that President Obama was slammed for shifting NASA's attention on Mars, and cutting funding for the space shuttles.  It was proclaimed as a necessity in the budget by Republicans, as they showed their lack of faith in private enterprise when it comes to space.  They proclaimed it as the end of American adventurism by this President.

Yet, now, we are starting to see the results of previous programs coming to fruition.  SpaceX failed in its first attempt but several companies are already going to space in test aircraft and selling trips to the rich to go to space.  It is the beginning of space tourism that started with incentives for development over the last decade. 

With success or failure on this trial, it will bring more to the race to colonize space for space tourism.  It is bringing new ideas to bear about how to do it more efficiently, and how to do it so you and I can afford to go to space as if it was a trip to Disneyland (what an amazing experience that would be, DisneySpace).

However, the great benefits come from the research and development focusing on travel to Mars that NASA is focused on.  Tomorrow's computer, microwave, or other techologies may well come from the research done to figure out solutions on going to Mars.  Whether we get to Mars or not, these developments bode well for the next economic revolution in America from the technologies that will become pervasive 20 years from now.

Realize, space tourism is tomorrow is only possible from that crazy investment of trying to go to the moon.  And whether or not SpaceX succeeds in the coming years or fails, we will see the development of space in ways we cannot yet understand.  It will mean new understandings, new inventions, and new possibilities for us all.  Celebrate the attempt, for in the attempt is where Greatness comes from.

Domestic Abuse: Why does the GOP fight against ending it?

Republicans and Democrats are at odds over who should be covered in the Violence Against Women Act
The Senate approved its version last month with bipartisan support. The vote was 68 to 31 with every female Republican supporting the measure. That bill would expand coverage for illegal immigrants and Native Americans who are victims of domestic abuse. It also specifies the inclusion of gay, lesbian and transgender victims.

House Republicans oppose those changes and stripped them from the Republican-backed bill that passed this week 222 to 205, largely splitting along party lines.
Historically, the GOP has voted against and fought against the Violence Against Women Act for reasons that I have never understood.  I have never understood why violence against women would be acceptable to them.  We have long known that domestic violence is the hidden abuse because it is inside our homes, because the repercussions of reporting it are so great (loss of home, loss of family, loss of sense of belonging, loss of support in many cases, and feelings of guilt as if it was one's own fault), because it is long been thought that if it happens inside the home, it is off limits to public scrutiny (unless, of course, someone is gay).  But at some point, the political tides became too powerful to oppose for them.

Now, the GOP is opposing addressing domestic violence when it relates to illegal immigrants (as if the status justifies allowing them to be abused), Native Americans (as if they are not worthy of the protections of other Americans), and gays, lesbians, and transgender victims (this may be the crux of this whole thing).

Side note that will make sense in a second.  I just happened to watch Philadelphia (with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, if you haven't seen it, you should) today.  As Tom Hanks' character, an up and coming, highly skilled lawyer gets fired after his high powered law firm finds out he has AIDS, he sues for wrongful termination.  In the testimony and in conversation between the partners of the firm, it becomes clear that the termination is about their beliefs that it wasn't wrongful because his "immoral" acts justified any and all punishment that could be heaped upon him.  In the end, Hanks' character wins his case because it was clearly discriminatory, having nothing to do with the issue... was he competent in his job.  Their attitudes about gays and AIDS blurred their ability to see the issues.

This is a parallel track for most discrimination and is the case again.  Whether it is the "immorality" of being an "illegal alien" or being someone who is gay, lesbian, or transgender is true or not is irrelevant to the issue of domestic violence, but it is what they will let get in the way.  Their rationale will be that they don't deserve protections because of their "sins".  But no one deserves to be abused.  It is assault and battery no matter how you slice it.

It becomes even more obvious when one compares it to their support for child abuse laws.  Why would the GOP support protecting children but not women, illegal immigrants, or the gay/lesbian/transgender community?  Children are innocent, they are to be protected.  It is the honorable thing to do.  But that means that women were not innocent, nor are the rest.  That means they must have done something to deserve the abuse in their minds.  Yet, who deserves to be allowed to be abused?  Child molesters?  Murderers?  Yet, there is no crime that these people have committed worthy of abuse.  For those who are not illegal immigrants, there is no crime committed at all.

They are being condemned and left unprotected because they have exercised their liberty, their choice.  That is the thing the founders fought for with documents like the Declaration of Independence, and their blood on the battlefield.  They did not fight for a theocratic state, they fought for liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness.  Homosexuality is not a new 20th century creation.  It has been around for thousands of years, yet the founders did not ban it.  They did not say liberty, justice, and pursuit of happiness for all straight people.  It was for all.

The founders were not perfect by any means.  But they did set a framework in place that understood they were imperfect, but that certain values of liberty and justice should remain in place.  They created a process to address legal imperfections to uphold those values.  That is exactly where the Senate got this right, and the GOP led House has it wrong.

It is irrelevant whether homosexuality is genetic or choice, the founders envisioned a nation where people would have the liberty to do what they wanted so long as it did not infringe on the liberties of others.  There is no reason why the gay, lesbian, and transgender community should be punished for engaging in those very same beliefs... the liberty to do what they want so long as they do not infringe upon the liberties of others.

Some feel the need to proclaim us a "moral" society and admonish immoral acts.  In one sense, laws are just that.  However, our founders set the framework for that moral system by focusing it not on The Bible or religion, but rather on liberty and justice.  They could have determined this to be a theocratic republic (after all, most were religious on some level as most were at the time), yet they chose not to.

This is an issue where all who believe in those values of liberty and justice should support this cause for the simple reason that it puts in place support systems to help people escape situations where others have imposed their will to restrict the liberty of others through domestic violence.  Putting these protections in place is an important step in protecting people and their liberty from those who would use force to harm the liberty of others. 

To use the religion of Christianity or others to condemn those who seek to exercise liberty is both antithetical to those foundational values of America, and un-Christian (can you picture Jesus turning his back on a sinner who was being abused or beaten, say like a prostitute who would have been condemned as immoral at the time?  Me either).

So the question remains, why does the GOP oppose putting supports in place to help end domestic violence?  I still don't understand that reality.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

President Obama and Gay Marriage: Why not?

President Obama came out in personal support of gay marriage, while still leaving action to the states.  It is an important symbolic act but literally changes nothing legally.  It is a politically tough position for him to take in an election year, but something to give him credit for taking the tough position for.  Some pundits are out shouting political calculation on President Obama's part, and one even claiming a political payout, but in an election year where he will amass hundreds of millions again in campaign donations, this is more likely to get religious conservatives to flock out and anti-gay marriage democrats to stay home.  That makes it a courageous decision in an election year.  I have yet to hear a good explanation of how it will benefit him in an election year, but that won't stop people from asserting it.

Having said that, here is my simple stance on this:

My marriage is a covenant between me, my wife, and God. Your marriage, gay or straight, is also between you, your spouse, and God. It isn't my job, in a FREE COUNTRY to limit you, or impose my religious views on you. Some don't want freedom, they want theocracy. God gave me the choice of belief, not the order of obedience. I answer to him, not some religious right nut who may or may not have had relations with a same sex child, or in an airport bathroom with another man, or repeated affairs while spouting morality for everyone else!