Mar 20, 2007

Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior - New York Times

Here's a story that hit me like a gift from the intellectual gods! For some time now I have been making attacks on the right-wing as social deviants rather than the social Darwinists they so cynically claim as justification for wealth and class disparities, this despite the strong tendency of these same right-wingers to be anti-Darwinist. This is typical of what I have asserted is a species wide psychiatric disorder; one that was initiated by the vast change in environmental stimuli that has become mankind in only a few thousand short years, as compared to the millions over which morality developed among small groups of blood relatives, with the most distantly related faces being nonetheless so familiar as to be virtual relatives in any case. But the invention of agriculture unleashed massive wealth disparities for the first time ever. Agriculture led to writing and number systems needed to account for the excess in foodstuffs. This all coalesced into a division of the clan into labourers and craftsman, soldiers and smiths, all having special skills and crafts, some obviously being more useful than than others. But man, being thehighly adaptable species it is, naturally uses the proven strategy of variation in approaches to solving any particular dillemma faced by the tribe. In short, social tendencies, sexual attraction by certain members tocettain mebers was seized on by mankind as an adaptive advantage. This selection of varu\iation is so assertive in many animals that even sexual preference has come under the umbrella of social variation. It is obviously a very important tool in the adaption reportiore, as has been shown in "game theory" repeatedly. The more highly evolved primates would act on altruistic motivations rather than the old solitary predator "junk DNA"...genes that either stayed dormant for virtually all of his social evolution, or more likely were sent to the outer ring of the clan gathering place to act as warning to the others upon hearing their screams when attacked by wolves or other predators. But then came agriculture. Now man could express selfishness using hoarding abilities impossible before money and writing/accounting evolved out of neccesity to keep track of the excess. Now traits that brought banishment and death to a person so selfish as to actually let his fellow clan-member starve was suddenly being rewarded with wealth. This wealth triggered another cascade or runaway gene to express itself harmfully in mate-selection processes that were also unprepared for hoarding on such a scale. Here again, hoarding bought power, and power triggered genetic attraction traits previously meqnt to serve a related, but mre reasonable genetic trait looking to improve the likelihood of offspring survival. So where does that leave us? It may be that gene-therapy technology is the answer to the unequal pace between the evolution of social priorities and technology. Certainbly the antiquated "animal-like" predatory and selfish genotype we now call the right wing cannot be allowed to continue running amuk with their pre-socialized approach to the environment. Just the global warming issue alone should more than illustrate my assertion that the urge towards elitism and wealth disparity indicative of right-wing ideologues shows them to be incapable of a simple insight like war in a nuclear age is to be avoided at all costs....and yet their there are acting out animal drives by war-profiteering, territoriality as "nationalist zeal and patriotism" "my god can beat up your god" brinkmanship now being played out on a species-wide level. The resentment that history has repeatedly shown us to be greatly resented by modern socialized mankind. The thinking, non-militaristic, empathic man is obviously the way of species survivability. Just as ethics are not derived from religion, egalitarianism is not derived from Marx. Our natural inclination as a socialized species is the source of Marxism today, not the other way around. Sharing is a primary social attribute that is being abused by the right-wing, a group whose genetic impulse to gather and hunt has become unregulated by the natural environment that once governed it's excess; now the rational and empathic qualities that characterize left-wingers are going to have to assert themselves---perhaps, even probably violently if their is going to be a mankind to evolve back into a genetically synchronized internal/external whole. Finally, it stands as a simple testament to the advanced nature of the left-wing progressive tend to be intelligent, rational and wise, I submit having knowledge of the actual state of decay and now imminent doom resulting from the free-market capitalism the right advances as superior to whomever is gullible enough to listen to their self-serving rhetoric, which may ultimately serve as man's suicide note. Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior - New York Times: "Biologists are allowed an even smaller piece of the action by Jesse Prinz, a philosopher at the University of North Carolina. He believes morality developed after human evolution was finished and that moral sentiments are shaped by culture, not genetics. “It would be a fallacy to assume a single true morality could be identified by what we do instinctively, rather than by what we ought to do,” he said. “One of the principles that might guide a single true morality might be recognition of equal dignity for all human beings, and that seems to be unprecedented in the animal world.” Dr. de Waal does not accept the philosophers’ view that biologists cannot step from “is” to “ought.” “I’m not sure how realistic the distinction is,” he said. “Animals do have ‘oughts.’ If a juvenile is in a fight, the mother must get up and defend her. Or in food sharing, animals do put pressure on each other, which is the first kind of ‘ought’ situation.” Dr. de Waal’s definition of morality is more down to earth than Dr. Prinz’s. Morality, he writes, is “a sense of right and wrong that is born out of groupwide systems of conflict man"

David's Blog O'Lies

David's Blog - "The Chinese sage Confucius said that 'in order to restore justice to a country it is first necessary to call things by their right names.' I always try to follow this principle in using political labels. I don't claim to be infallible or never to make mistakes. But my intentions are clear and they have nothing to do with the smear agendas of the hard political left." Can you imagine the gall of a guy who calls Hitler a left-winger? Mentally ill or knowingly lying...there's no other possibility for this cretin.

Honest! Truth and the President

Transcript of House Floor Debate on Durbin Amendment for Integrity in the Vetting of Scientific Advisory Committees Departments Of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006 -- (Senate - October 26, 2005) Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, in the absence of any Senator seeking recognition, I suggest the absence of a quorum. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll. The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll. Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, we have a request from Senator DeMint for 15 minutes of morning business. This would be a good time to accommodate that request. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Mr. SPECTER. I suggest the absence of a quorum. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll. The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll. Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. AMENDMENT NO. 2228 Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up amendment No. 2228 already filed at the desk. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The clerk will report. The legislative clerk read as follows: The Senator from Illinois [Mr. DURBIN], for himself, Mr. Lautenberg, Mr. Feingold, Mr. Bingaman, and Mr. Kennedy, proposes an amendment numbered 2228. Mr. DURBIN. I ask unanimous consent that reading of the amendment be dispensed with. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The amendment is as follows: (Purpose: To ensure the scientific integrity of Federally-funded scientific advisory committees and their findings) At the appropriate place, insert the following: SEC. __. (a) None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to request that a candidate for appointment to a Federal scientific advisory committee disclose the political affiliation or voting history of the candidate or the position that the candidate holds with respect to political issues not directly related to and necessary for the work of the committee involved. (b) None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to disseminate scientific information that is deliberately false or misleading. Mr. DURBIN. I ask unanimous consent that Senators LAUTENBERG, FEINGOLD, BINGAMAN, and KENNEDY be added as cosponsors. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, all of us benefit from scientific information and advice provided by many Federal agencies. When we go to the Centers for Disease Control Web site to read about infectious disease threats or turn to the National Cancer Institute to learn about the latest in cancer treatment, we have confidence that we are being provided with honest, accurate, and objective information. We rely on scientists and medical experts serving the National Institutes of Health to make wise decisions based on real science, not politics, to ensure that our investments in medical research will improve the health of Americans for generations to come. The amendment I offer seeks to ensure that the American people will continue to benefit from the best possible scientific advice and information from the Government's scientific advisers and from the Federal agencies themselves. First, the amendment prohibits the use of Federal funds to ask candidates for appointment to scientific advisory committees to disclose their voting history, their political affiliation, or their opinions on unrelated political topics. When the Federal Government seeks expert medical and technical advice, it should look for the very best experts. It should not limit itself to only those experts who voted for a particular political candidate or who agree with any President's policies or who support the death penalty. That is not how we, in our personal lives, would go about choosing a doctor. It should not be the way our Government seeks out expert scientific advice. It appears this is exactly what has happened in a number of instances. In the year 2002, Dr. William Miller, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of New Mexico, was denied a position on the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse after he admitted that he had not voted for the President. Dr. Miller was also asked for his views on abortion rights and the death penalty. This was for an appointment to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse. In March 2004, the White House screened a nominee to the Arctic Research Commission, an advisory panel on issues that include Arctic drilling. According to the candidate, Dr. Sharon Smith, a professor of marine ecology at the University of Miami: The first and only question was, ``do you support the President?' Following incidents such as these, the National Academies of Science convened a committee to study how the Government should select its science advisers. Earlier this year it issued a report that said candidates for scientific advisory positions should find it inappropriate to be asked to provide nonrelevant information such as their voting record, political party affiliation, or their position on particular policies. The report goes on to compare these types of questions to asking candidates about their hair color or their height. My amendment would prohibit the use of Federal funds to ask these inappropriate political questions of medical and scientific experts. My amendment also prohibits the use of funds to disseminate scientific information that is false or misleading. This ensures that Americans can continue to have full confidence and trust that scientific information provided by the Federal Government is honest, accurate, and objective. There is reason to be concerned. In one notorious incident, the key findings section of a 2003 report on health care disparities was rewritten and edited to leave out conclusions about the seriousness and pervasiveness of racial and ethnic disparities in health care. In fact, the word ``disparity' itself was edited out. The word appears 30 times in the original draft, only twice in the edited version. Joseph Betancourt, a Harvard professor who served on two Institute of Medicine panels on inequity in health care, said: "I admire the Administration's ability to look at the positive, but it shouldn't come at the expense of the truth." Eventually, the Department of Health and Human Services admitted it made a mistake and agreed to release the original, more honest version. This kind of incident should not happen again. My amendment prohibits the use of funds to disseminate scientific information that is deliberately false or misleading. This amendment makes sure that all of us can continue to have full faith and confidence in the scientific information that is being provided by our Federal Government. I urge my colleagues to support scientific integrity in Federal agencies by voting for the amendment. I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

Mar 19, 2007

Did a Right-Wing PR Firm Bribe NYT, WSJ, MIT, and Others?

Did a Right-Wing PR Firm Bribe NYT, WSJ, MIT, and Others? as blogged at the Sunday 18 March 2007 Ed Leefeldt at the Washingtonpost and Clay Risen of TNR both separately wrote very interesting investigative reports that many or you may have missed. First Mr. Risen writes: On March 7, 2007, a "media and research" company called eSapience filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against C.V. Starr & Co., the California investment firm helmed by Maurice "Hank" Greenberg. What makes this suit so interesting is not C.V. Starr's alleged actions, but the services eSapience was hired to perform. That's because, far from being a typical p.r. firm, eSapience, run by a clique of conservative, free-market academics, is in the business of buying and manipulating influence at the very highest levels of academic and intellectual circles-a cynical strategy laid out in deep detail by the lawsuit. The suit, in fact, is a Rosetta Stone into the extremes to which a group of right-wingers have taken the phrase "marketplace of ideas"-and it has exposed the lengths to which some people will go to buy intellectual influence. As many have noted the Right-wing has a much stronger and more extensive network. They use this network to sell their ideas and push their public narratives. They do this it at several different levels, government, media, and academic. Very little information exists about eSapience outside the suit. Its website,, goes directly to something called the "eSapience Center for Competition Policy" (eCCP), a sort of virtual think tank that organizes conferences, promotes papers, and even publishes a journal, all of which have a decidedly conservative, free-market bent (the journal's editorial board, for example, features a bevy of University of Chicago legal scholars and economists, including Richard Posner and Frank Easterbrook). All of this seems dryly academic and above board-in fact, there is hardly any explanation of what eSapience itself actual is. This is typical of Right-wing think tanks. For all the glamor of the CATO and Hoover institutes, most of the real damage is done, by these faceless nameless institutes. There conservatives toil away in obscurity, underminig everything we love about this country. The lawsuit, though, shows otherwise. According to the suit, the firm, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a coterie of high-end academics-the chair is David Evans, a visiting professor at the University College London; a managing director is Richard Schmalensee, dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management; Richard Epstein, the highly regarded Chicago legal scholar, is an affiliate-who use their connections in academia, the media, and the business world to improve their clients' public image. (eSapience declined, through its lawyer, to comment for this article.) According to an accompanying confidential memo to C.V. Starr, obtained by THE NEW REPUBLIC, eSapience promises to "blunt and/or change the conversations that influential people, including public intellectuals, have about the set of issues we are asked. I hope you read that correctly. They exist in order to misdirect and/or change the very CONVERSATIONS that our leaders are having! WOW! ESapience planned and executed three such events, on September 12, 14, and 15, 2006. One of them, co-sponsored with the Federalist Society, took place in (where else?) Greenberg Lounge at New York University. Titled "Does Procedure Dominate Substance? Of Class Actions and Pretrial Motions," it appeared no different from the sort of stultifying but edifying conferences that happen several times a week on university campuses. The keynote speech was by the eminent lawyer David Boies; the participants were drawn from top-25 law schools. Two of the participants I contacted knew little beyond the fact that eSapience was a co-sponsor; they were certainly unaware that it had planned the event as part of a scheme to improve Greenberg's image. For them, it was just another academic klatch ("If Hank Greenberg thought this resuscitated his reputation, that is beyond my knowledge or understanding," says NYU Law Professor Samuel Issacharoff). Did the Federalist Society know of the eSapience-Greenberg connection? OK, so influencing the Federalist Society is one thing. They already are a well know Right-wing outfit. But the next part of this tale should give all of us pause. Beyond the September events, eSapience also promised to use its existing "channels"-presumably the eCCP and its journal - to further sway opinion, and to "secur[e] a New York Times journalist who might be inclined to write an article related to the lawsuit filed by the new York State Attorney General's Office against Greenberg." It also hired Dan Senor, famous as the Bush administration's spokesman in the early days of the Iraq war, and Mark Corallo, John Ashcroft's former public affairs director, to help in the effort, though the suit doesn't explain their roles further. All this, while billing C.V. Starr at rates between $400 and $1,000 an hour, per person. In about six months, it had run up some $2 million in charges. No wonder C.V. Starr balked at paying. Did you get that? to further sway opinion, and to "secur[e] a New York Times journalist who might be inclined to write an article related to the lawsuit filed by the new York State Attorney General's Office against Greenberg." They billed someone for "paying off" (or getting a favorable story from) a NYT reporter! For those who don't know, Hank Greenberg was the former CEO of AIG (one of the nations 10 largest insurance companies), who was ousted after Elliot Spitzer charged him with fraud. AIG and the State of NY settled out of court. Greenberg and the State of NY are still going to trial. I don't want to falsely accuse people, or commit libel. But I did my own search of NYT archives. I noticed there was a bunch of articles with titles like: Two Views of a Rising Star: Populist Warrior or Reckless Foe of Big Business? and also like: Spitzer Fights Criticism That He Is a Hothead. Was this just regular campaign reporting? Or was it something more? The problem with an issue like this is it's very hard to ever know. It's also why it's so evily effective. But It didn't stop there as the Washington Post reports. Greenberg had been rumored last November to be interested in buying New York Times Co. (NYT.N). Why just "secure" a reporter, when you can "secure" the whole outfit! Furthermore, Ed Leefeldt reports that: Additionally eSapience tried to engage a "best-selling author" to ghostwrite Greenberg's autobiography, the suit claims. ESapience said in the suit that its work for Greenberg from May through September was successful in getting Greenberg an article in the front section of The Wall Street Journal. ESapience said it was told to bill the costs of the campaign to C.V. Starr, a private company where Greenberg is the chairman and chief executive, according to the suit. C.V. Starr runs insurance brokerage operations. The Wall Street Journal SOLD (or was influenced into?) placing an article in its front section! To add credence to this tale, a real company was billed for this service! Why has the MSM ignored mostly ignored this? Are their more Judith Miller's out there at the NYT and WSJ? One more disturbing fact: Under the heading "Independent Channels" eSapience promises to "leverage our relationships with important and highly credible channels including AEI, AEI-Brookings, Hoover Institution, MIT, University of Chicago Law School and the Federalist Society, among others. These organizations will work with us to host conferences, Capitol Hill briefings (if appropriate), co-author papers, link to our Center web sites, and distribute our materials on their web sites, among other things." These organizations may or may not have known of eSapience's plans to abuse their intellectual standing. They clearly didn't get a cut of the profits. What exactly do Universities need to support a position? Are Professors being "paid off"? Is there a quid pro qou were large donations are being made to the schools? (at the University of Chicago for example, eSapience was a sponsor of the UCL Antitrust & Regulation Forum)I am only speculating, I really don't know???