Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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Busting the Reagan Myth

…history shows that Ronald Reagan reversed a long trend of reducing the national debt as a percentage of GDP, which had been lowered by every previous president (except Gerald Ford) since the end of World War II.
Ronald Reagan exploded the federal debt, eventually to over a trillion dollars, by cutting taxes while demanding that the nation fund a huge expansion of the military. Even the Wall Street Journal at the time was aware of the unsound nature of this Republican deficit-spending scheme. They and other newspapers warned of the “baleful effects of big [government] deficits.”

Continue reading on Examiner.com: <a href=”http://www.examiner.com/political-buzz-in-national/ronald-reagan-began-us-government-deficit-spending-addiction.


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Israeli document: Gaza blockade isn’t about security

McClatchey, via Al-Jazeera English, reports that documents obtained as the result of a lawsuit on behalf of the people living in Gaza contain an Isreali admission that the embargo is about economics, not weapons smuggling.

“A country has the right to decide that it chooses not to engage in economic relations or to give economic assistance to the other party to the conflict, or that it wishes to operate using ‘economic warfare,'” the government said.

McClatchy obtained the government’s written statement from Gisha, the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, which sued the government for information about the blockade. The Israeli high court upheld the suit, and the government delivered its statement earlier this year

Al-Jaz also makes an excellent argument for Israel being in violation of the Geneva Convention (not that anyone pays much attention to them any more, including US).

Israeli document: Gaza blockade isn’t about security | McClatchy


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Southern Baptist leader Richard Land backs citizenship for illegal immigrants

Baptist leader Richard Land backs citizenship for illegal immigrants | tennessean.com | The Tennessean

Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, admits it’s a message that will test some of the church’s mainstream membership, but it’s one that needs to be said.


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Should We Be Cheering Religion’s Demise?

AlterNet: Religious Institutions Are Ruled By the Morally Bankrupt — But Should We Be Cheering Religion’s Demise?

…while the Protestant church and reformed Judaism have not replicated the perfidiousness of the Catholic bishops, who protect child-molesting priests, they have little to say in an age when we desperately need moral guidance.

God may not be dead, but She’s probably got a terrible pain in the butt.

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China lifts travel ban for people living with HIV

China lifts travel ban for people living with HIV

UNAIDS applauds the decision by the Government of China to lift its national travel ban for people living with HIV. The news comes ahead of the opening of Shanghai Expo 2010, an international fair that is expected to attract millions of visitors over the next six months.

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Make Birth Control, Not War

Make Birth Control, Not War | Smart Journalism. Real Solutions. | Miller-McCune Online Magazine

Humans — human males, really — are not peaceful animals. They are in fact a spectacularly violent species, and very nearly uniquely so. Despite high-minded modern wishes and the received wisdom of three generations of anthropologists and sociologists, warfare is not an aberration in human development, nor is it a learned, culturally determined behavior. War and its ancillary behaviors — including racism, slavery, mass rape and the subjugation of women — are not cultural problems and thus do not have neat, sociological solutions. Along with terrorism, these most destructive of human behaviors derive clearly and directly from our biology, bequeathed to us by an evolutionary pathway that we share with just one other extant species, the chimpanzees.

War, simply put, is in our genes.

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The Tibet film China loves to hate

“The Sun Behind the Clouds”: The Tibet film China loves to hate – Andrew O’Hehir, Movie Critic – Salon.com

It isn’t literally true that there’s a new documentary about Tibet every six weeks, but it does kind of feel that way. What sets apart “The Sun Behind the Clouds,” made by the Tibetan-Indian filmmaking duo Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, is both context and content. The film includes extensive interviews with the Dalai Lama, who is less circumspect than usual about the political and moral challenges facing his “Middle Way” strategy of arguing for greater Tibetan autonomy under Chinese rule. Sarin and Sonam also lift the veil on potentially explosive divisions within the Tibetan exile community, which is torn between spiritual and cultural loyalty to the Dalai Lama and a widespread longing for true independence. (The filmmakers clearly belong to the pro-independence camp.)

This film also became the centerpiece of an altercation last year…

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Health vs. Pork: The Farm Bill

The Farm Bill, a massive piece of federal legislation making its way through Congress, governs what children are fed in schools and what food assistance programs can distribute to recipients. The bill provides billions of dollars in subsidies, much of which goes to huge agribusinesses producing feed crops, such as corn and soy, which are then fed to animals. By funding these crops, the government supports the production of meat and dairy products—the same products that contribute to our growing rates of obesity and chronic disease. Fruit and vegetable farmers, on the other hand, receive less than 1 percent of government subsidies.

The government also purchases surplus foods like cheese, milk, pork, and beef for distribution to food assistance programs—including school lunches. The government is not required to purchase nutritious foods.

This article was written in 2007, but nothing has changed yet.  Lots more, including diagrams showing how subsidies are spent…


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Food Stamps, School Lunches and Poor Nutrition

Food Stamps, School Lunches and Poor Nutrition | Smart Journalism. Real Solutions. | Miller-McCune Online Magazine

During the health care summit last week, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) suggested that America needs to restructure some of the systemic culture that leads to poor health in the first place, and not just invest in costly treatment of people once they’re sick. In particular, he mentioned a pair of intriguing culprits….


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I’ve Been Waiting A Long Time To Feel This Way

I’m truly proud to be an American these last few days.  It’s heartening to see my country finally stepping up and leading in an endeavor from which it can expect to gain nothing but the knowledge that it did the right thing — and the approval, at last, of the rest of the world.  It’s been far too long.

For nearly two centuries we have been the tough kid on the block. We were blessed by having managed to steal a land, rich in resources, from the previous tenants. We made rapid use of those resources and our relative isolation from the powers in Europe and Asia to build a worldwide economic power alongside which the 1st Century power of Rome pales in comparison. We have pretty much told the rest of the world how things were going to be, and made it stick through the power of our money and, too often, by force of arms.  Yes, yes, on a couple of occasions that was warranted by circumstances beyond our control, but even those wars were as much about economics as principle.

As Americans, we tend to forget that we are members of a global community, and that all we are depends on so many who preceded us.  We owe who and what we are to other cultures, those that went before and those that attempt to coexist with us today. The currently much-maligned Arabs invented the zero, without which modern mathematics would not exist. Africa gave us the rhythms that melded with European influences and became jazz. The Far East gave us philosophical insights; the Native Americans — the true owners of this land — an understanding of how we fit into the big picture along with all God’s other creations.

And so it goes. Every culture, every religion, every idea is built on those that have gone before. We Americans are the sum of all those parts: the Arabs, the Yoruba — stolen from their homes and forced to find another way to be themselves — the Hindu mystic, the Ojibway shaman, the Druid in his grove.

We need to think about this carefully. We need to understand that we are not isolated here in the US; that we are very much a part of the world, and it of us, and that we have the ability to decide the course of history. That course will be predicated, in turn, on our ability to discern our true place in the scheme of things: not whether we can kick the asses of those who disagree with our policies, but whether we can influence them to not want to kick ours.  The days of gunboat diplomacy are over.  They ended with the development of that most guided of missiles, the suicide bomber.

It is time to take our place as leaders in the quest for peace, not in the art and appliances of war.  When I see our powers diverted from that end to wage peace and compassion, as we are this week in Haiti, I have hope again.

If only we can remember that everyone hates a bully.


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Quote:

“It’s enormously significant to me that the only description in the Bible about salvation is tied to one’s willingness to act on behalf of one’s fellow human beings. The ones who will be deprived of salvation–the sinners–are those who’ve turned away from their fellow man. People responsive to the great human condition, and who’ve tried to alleviate its misery–these will be the ones who join Christ in Paradise.”

~ Sen. Edward Kennedy, True Compass: A Memoir