Blind Faith as Profit Engine: How Free Market Worshipers Use Christian Utopianism to Bilk the Middle Class

From Truth Out:

By Michael Meurer
Friday, 12 October 2012

The neoliberal utopianism that caused the financial crisis has been repackaged for the 2012 election, where it masks a giant swindle that transfers wealth from low- and middle-income citizens to bankers, defense contractors, real estate speculators and the wealthiest 1%.

In the endless swirl of headlines about the current global financial crisis, the dominant narrative, which is also driving the 2012 US presidential election, is that crippling amounts of public debt run up by profligate government spending have brought us to the brink of financial ruin and must be offset by deep cuts in social services and “entitlements.”

It is a false narrative that masks the largest ongoing financial swindle in human history, a swindle being carried out at public expense by a small class of elite financial speculators. This speculative class has been unleashed over the past three decades by a Utopian neoliberal political project now embodied in its most virulent form in the Republican presidential ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Let’s start with the depth and size of the underlying financial crisis, which is almost in the realm of hyper-reality. In 1997, for example, the total value of annual financial transactions worldwide was an already-staggering 15 times greater than global GDP. Today, it is 70 times greater. (1) In 1995, the six largest US banks controlled assets worth 17 percent of annual GDP. Today, the figure is 64 percent. (2) Again in 1995, the global total of outstanding derivative debt obligations was $17.7 trillion. By 2010, at nearly $470 trillion, outstanding derivatives were 741 percent of global GDP. (3)

This wholesale financialization of the US-led global economy has burdened the public sector with the task of propping up unregulated speculative debt in the private sector that is 7.4 times our annual productive capacity. Add US deficit spending for three wars since 9/11, and major cuts in the top tax rates, and the burden becomes unsustainable. The difference is being made up in the guise of austerity, as everything we own is liquidated, from personal and retirement savings, to homes and public-sector assets that have been built up over generations.

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Pick Your Battles Instead of Picking Fights: Transsexual and Transgender are Nouns as well as Adjectitives

The semantics fight over transsexual and transgender being adjectives instead of nouns is one of those dogmatic sorts of arguments that caused me to describe people caught up in that sort of dogma as being the Transgender Borg.

I’ve been in movements since 1962.

The first groups I encountered who fought over things like that were the Trotskyites.

I eventually saw these factions as the coffee house revolutionary theorists.

We are transsexuals and transgenders. Those are the respectful terms for people who are transsexual or transgender.  Just like gays and lesbians are the proper terms for people who happen to be gay or lesbian.

After all the effort to get a T stuck after the G and the L this semantic fight seems kind of ridiculous.

Save the energy to fight crap like “Shemale” and even “Trannie” or “Gender Variant” and the ilk.

Transsexual/Transgender is both an adjective and a noun through common usage if not through the politically correct language police.

There are far more important battles to fight.

This is an Ashley Love/Doña Quixote tilting at windmills word game; a waste of time and energy that will involve protesting allies as well as actual opponents.

Addendum: At some point or other people have to start agreeing on some sort of shared language.  All the post-modern games about identities, sub-texts and readings may be fine for some sort of post-grad gender studies program but how in fuck are you supposed to write something like a hate crimes law or an inclusive employment/accommodations law when you can’t get even a small group to more or less agree on some common terms to define the people you are trying to protect.

Contrary to post-modern thinking words have meaning and aren’t just a bunch of linguistic grunts open to interpretation with different meanings and readings for all.

That sort of thinking is a bog.

I describe myself as post-transsexual because SRS was a long time ago.  But based on my life history I’m a transsexual.  I was assigned male at birth, grew up a transkid and had a sex change operation, so by definition I am a transsexual.

GLAAD wants to call me transgender, but I don’t identify as transgender.  Now if I need legal representation and GLAAD, the organization that wants to call me transgender  is putting up the money and lawyers to advance my case based on laws they spent time and money getting enacted to protect me………

Well in that case my mother and nana taught me there is only one acceptable thing for me to say:  “Thank you so much, I couldn’t have done it with out you.”

TS-SI is Dead

Sharon Gaughan and Lisa Thompson have ceased publishing TS-SI.

TS-Si Ceases Publication

While their Blog wasn’t as offensive as the filth that passes for blogs owned by people like Jennifer Usher of Just Jennifer or Note from the T-side it permitted the trolls to run wild in its comments sections.

When I first started this Blog Andrea James gave me a big shout out and so did TS-SI.

I immediately attracted the haters and HBS Bullies who assumed that because Tina and I coined Women Born transsexual we were in sympathy with the HBS/Classic Transsexual point of view.

We actually might have been if those terms were just other terms, since we kind of support peoples right to use their own words to describe themselves.

But they aren’t, while WBT was a way of saying screw all the psychopathology BS, we were born this way just like cis-sex/gender people are born that way.

The trolls flocked here.  Cassandra, Aria Blue, Jennifer Usher, and a bunch of trolls we kicked of Women Born Transsexual: The Mailing List.

They immediately wound up on moderation because I took newspapers, both underground and alternative as a role model for this blog and said no to the trolls.

Sharon and Lisa started reposting some of my writings on TS-SI.

Trolls who weren’t allowed to spew filth at me on my blog went there to attack me.

I was called all sorts of names as well as red baited there.

It took time and effort to deal with the libels and slander that were filling the comments section of any of my posts which were reposted there.

So I asked Sharon and Lisa to request specific permission instead of automatically assuming permission to repost my writings.

They kind of ceased reposting my material which was fine with me.

I was tired of the World of Transwarcraft game anyway.

They continued to give a platform to various representatives of the True/Classic/HBS Transsexual faction and I pretty much ceased going there.

I didn’t buy their idea that the path to human rights and equality for people will come from scientific evidence that proves transsexualism is innate.  I sort of see that idea as an epic fail considering how most of the bigots think the planet is six thousand years old and don’t believe in evolution but do believe in ghosts and UFOs.

In a world where I have neo-Nazi Republicans and Christo-Fascist Bible thumpers trying to take away my hard won rights I couldn’t much be bothered with siding with people whose lives seem to be wrapped up in bullying and abusing transgender people and any transsexuals who have the decency to say that transgender people also deserve the same human rights and equality that transsexual people have.

I don’t think of Sharon and Lisa as bad people, certainly not in the same league as the trolls who thought they had found a home on TS-SI.

I realize they wanted something better for their blog.  Eight years is a long time, this blog is a little over three and a half years old.  They had a far more elaborate format and it must have been a lot of work to maintain it.

Lately I’ve seen a number of bloggers hang it up or incorporate their blogs under the aegis of a bigger blog.

Perhaps after eight years I’ll feel the same.

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Bullied Teen Commits Suicide, Leaves Behind Heartbreaking Video

From Truth Dig:

Tracy Bloom
Posted on Oct 12, 2012

A Canadian teen who posted a video to YouTube detailing her heart-wrenching story of being mercilessly bullied took her own life Wednesday night. Amanda Todd’s body was discovered in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, where she lived. She would have turned 16 next month.

Police are investigating the teen’s death.

Todd uploaded the nearly nine-minute video to YouTube last month. Using cue cards, she documented the torment and cruelty that followed her online and in school, despite moving and switching schools several times, and the anxiety and depression that resulted.

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Amanda Todd: Teen Ends Her Life After Relentless Battle with Bullying

Dr. Robyn Silverman:

by Dr Robyn
on October 12, 2012

Amanda Todd, a once, promising happy young Canadian girl committed bullycide on Wednesday after relentless, senseless attacks– physical, emotional and psychological– over several years followed her from town to town.

Her horrible story is hauntingly told in a youtube video with cue cards and shaking hands. What began in seventh grade when, she wrote, “I would go with friends on webcam [to] meet and talk to new people.” A stranger made her feel attractive and convinced her to flash the camera.  A mistake that would unravel into years of stalking, black-mailing and bullying, this girl was shamed and made to feel worthless.

Even when moving to place to place to get away from the abuse, the tormenters would find her and continue to cyberbully and physically bully this young woman who was trying her best to find someone who would love her as she is.  She spiraled into depression, complicated by intense and crippling anxiety, self hatred, self harm, and private self-bullying.

At one point, 50 kids bullied her at one time.  A boy had lead Amanda on, told her he liked her, and slept with her only to gang up on her later with his then girlfriend and friends.  “Just punch her!” they yelled.  The kids filmed it. Her father found her in a ditch later that day.  Even then, she didn’t want to press charges and get anyone else into trouble.  Her self worth was obliterated.  She went home and drank bleach– which landed her in the hospital– and urged on her tormenters to make fun of her that much more– and even urge her to kill herself.

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‘Slut’: Gender Policing As Bullying Ritual

From The Huffington Post:


We at QuERI often ask LGBTQ kids to list for us the “bad names” that they get called in school spaces, hear others called and see scrawled across bathroom walls and on lockers. Those derogatory terms are, by vast majority, terms that police gender: words like “fag,” but also words that mark the sex and sexuality of girls through slut shaming.

The variety of names for the high school “slut” is astonishing, and she is often painted as a larger-than-life character performing superhuman feats on the 50-yard line and sending nice girls to zealously guard their boyfriends with a watch that would keep the crown jewels safe. Most people can tell you who the “slut” in their high school was, regardless of how many decades might have passed since graduation. Stories of her wanton escapades spread like wildfire through the halls of high school, and students take pleasure in sharing their own richly fabricated details, making the story steamier with each telling. This is a bonding activity: Students create a sense of belonging and group membership through joining together to throw verbal stones.

Research suggests that for girls, “slut” and its derivatives are among the most common and most feared of possible pejoratives hurled in the high-school social arena, equivalent in regulatory power to the “fag” label for boys. Both “slut” and “fag” tell young people that they are doing their gender “wrong” and that they’d better get in line or suffer the consequences. The virulence of “slut,” and the reduction in a girl’s cultural capital that accompanies being called a “slut,” make clear to all that there is an association between a woman’s worth as a human being and her sexual behavior. Abusive naming practices reveal not only the in-group/out-group dynamics (who’s hot, who’s not) but the cultural value system that situates the named positions within the social hierarchy. In other words, calling a girl a “slut” not only marks her as “undesirable” but simultaneously restates that sexually active women are unwelcome pariahs. Our culture still marks a woman who is sexually active outside heterosexual marriage (or perceived to be) as a person of little value. Amazing, isn’t it?

As kids approach adolescence, increased value is placed on gender conformity and heterosexual desirability. Social stratification and popularity in schools become increasingly based on how well an individual’s gender matches up with peer ideals of masculinity and femininity. A significant portion of the expected gender conformity for girls includes managing relations to and with boys. Social worth for girls becomes less determined by their individual accomplishments in arts, academics or athletics, and increasingly they are evaluated by their success in attracting, maintaining and regulating the attentions of boys in “acceptable” ways. Girls straddle an often unclear line in appearing sexually attractive (desirable) and receptive (thus not “gay”) yet unavailable (not “sluts”). Girls who cross the line, appear to have crossed it or are rumored to have crossed it are marked as transgressing gender norms and disrupting moral order. The “slut” (and the “dyke” and the “fag”) are positioned as transgressors, failing to properly align their sexual desires and behaviors with normative gender prescriptions. Adolescent culture regulates gender and heterosexuality through active assault on those who break the gender rules, and through social exclusion and isolation — through bullying. Other (presumably “good”) girls justify openly hostile (mean/bullying) behavior toward their marked peers through moral judgments; breaking the rules of gender and sexuality makes a girl a “bad” person, and she therefore “deserves” the social harassment she receives (“She brought it on herself”).

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Pussy Riot member uses freedom to resume protests against Vladimir Putin

From The Guardian UK:

Yekaterina Samutsevich promises band mates, who remain in prison, she will continue struggle against president

in Moscow, Friday 12 October 2012

Yekaterina Samutsevich, the Pussy Riot member freed by a Moscow court this week, has promised to continue taking part in the band’s anti-Putin protests, saying she would be “more careful and more clever” to avoid another arrest.

On Friday, in her first newspaper interview, Samutsevich said her parting words to the two band members who remain in jail were that she would continue their struggle against the president. But she expects state pressure on her to grow despite her new-found freedom

“They didn’t overturn the verdict, they didn’t say I’m not guilty – they gave me a suspended sentence. If I do the slightest thing , even an administrative violation, they can send me back to jail,” she told the Guardian.

The three women were sentenced to two years in a prison colony on charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” following their anti-Putin “punk prayer” in a Moscow cathedral. Samutsevich was unexpectedly freed by an appeals court on Wednesday after successfully arguing that she didn’t fully take part in the performance.

“I didn’t expect it,” Samutsevich said, sitting in a central Moscow cafe wearing the same jeans and white sweater she wore to the appeal hearing. At her feet lay a canvas sack and large plastic bag filled with clothes, letters and books. She had just collected her belongings from the southern Moscow detention centre that still holds her bandmates, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

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Women Are The Key To The Presidential Debate And Election

From Alternet:

In round two, Biden did little to regain lost ground with respect to women voters.

By Ruth Rosen
October 12, 2012

Well before the vice-presidential debate began, even the president had agreed that he had failed to expose Mitt Romney’s lies and had allowed his opponent to present himself as a supporter of universal health insurance, Social Security and Medicare, none of which is true.

Equally important, in my view, is that Obama failed to mention some of his major accomplishments, many of which affected women. Obama began the first debate with an 18% lead among women voters. As Joe Biden steps into the ring, Obama has lost most of that advantage. The greatest shift occurred in the Pew’s national poll which now shows Romney and Obama polling equally among women. According to this respectable poll, Romney had moved from an 8-point deficit among all respondents to a 4-point lead.

Is this the result of forgetting to even mention women in the first debate?

In this second debate, Joe Biden needed to attack Romney and Ryan’s lies by forcefully demonstrating, in his avuncular jovial manner, how Medicare vouchers, cuts in Medicaid, and privatizing Social Security would hurt America’s women and their children. He needed to hold up Paul Ryan’s infamous budget and look directly into the camera and speak to the women Obama lost last week. Point by point, he needed to remind American women that Obama– not Romney–created Obamacare, supported the right of women to make their own reproductive choices, promoted and signed legislation that provides equality between men and women at the work place, supported the children of immigrants, and sought fairer loans to college students. Biden did a terrific job of pointing out how Romney’s policies would harm people, but not women and children.

Holding up Paul Ryan’s budget, Biden needed to say it loud and clear—that the Romney team will cuts benefits for the poor, even as they provide corporate welfare and cut the taxes of the wealthy. This he did, again and again.

This was the moment to call every misleading statement what it really is: a lie. Biden called it “malarkey” and made it clear that the Romney/Ryan campaign had rarely told the truth.

Ironically Congressman Paul Ryan had been dragging down the Republican candidacy precisely because he was viewed as too conservative. Presidential candidates usually choose someone who will, by virtue of geography, ethnicity, or popularity, ensure the campaign’s success. In 2008 and 2012, however, the Republican candidates, worried that the hard right-wing of the Tea Party and their followers would refuse to vote for a moderate Republican. So, they gave them Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan.

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Abortions and Contradictions

From Common Dreams:

by Christopher Brauchli
Published on Saturday, October 13, 2012 by Common Dreams

bq.If men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament.
— Gloria Steinem, The Verbal Karate of Florynce R. Kennedy, Esq.

Here’s how it works. People who do not oppose abortion are in favor of steps that can be taken to avoid unwanted pregnancies so that there will be fewer abortions. People who oppose abortions oppose the steps that can be taken to reduce unwanted pregnancies. Some people who oppose abortions think doctors perform abortions on women who aren’t pregnant. It is confusing but it is hoped that this column will help readers understand how it all works.

Contraception enables a woman who wants to have sex (as the vernacular has it), but not a baby, to do so. The Catholic Church and similar luddites think a woman should do nothing to avoid becoming pregnant except rely on her bodily cycles to decide when to enjoy sex. The Catholic Church makes its wishes known through men who can enjoy sex whenever they want, even with children, without fear of any consequences.

A study was recently concluded that demonstrates that if contraception is widely available there will be fewer unwanted pregnancies. The study was conducted from 2007 to 2011 and its results were published in Obstetrics and Gynecology. The participants were between the ages of 14 and 45. The researchers discovered that when cost was not a factor (since the various methods of contraception were provided to the study participants free of charge) the participants chose those methods that were most likely to be successful such as implants and IUDs. The study found there was a teen birth rate of 6.3 per thousand among participants in the study compared with a teen birth rate of 34.3 per thousand nationwide. Annual abortion rates ranged from 4.4 to 7.5 per thousand women in the study compared with 19.6 per thousand nationwide. Megan Kavanaugh, one of the researchers said: “These findings really show promise for what could happen on a national level” with a combination of free birth control and promotion of the most effective methods.”

On the date the regulations mandating insurance companies to cover, among other things, DEA-approved contraception, became effective, Jeff Fortenberry (R.NE) joined colleagues in a ceremony to mark what he called: “The day Religious Freedom Died. ” He could also have named it “The day the number of unwanted pregnancies (and resulting abortions) was reduced.” Explaining the reason for the demonstration he said (without using quite these words) that for the government to take away the right of men to decide what women may do with their bodies, including the right to not become pregnant but nonetheless enjoy the same right to enjoy sex that men have, “violates a deeply held traditional principle of the rights of conscience and liberty in our country.” He was probably thinking of the Puritans. Jeff was joining the Catholic Church and its allies who have filed lawsuits to ask the courts to invalidate those regulations that require them to offer such coverage to their employees. Opponents of reducing unwanted pregnancies have lots of tools in their arsenals. In addition to attacking the Health Care Act in court, legislators, cities, and states have found another line of attack. Tulsa, Oklahoma, is the most recent example.

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Birth Control Prevents Abortion: Should Be Obvious, But Sadly Disputed

From RH Reality Check:

by Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check
October 8, 2012

It’s one of those stories that should seem profoundly obvious, but in our culture where misogynist myths and right-wing propaganda so often trump common sense, it was actually something of a revelation: A long-term study in St. Louis that offers women the free birth control of their choice has revealed that, amongst other positive effects, the program lowered the abortion rate for the participants. In fact, the results were dramatic. There were 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the program, compared to a national average of almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women nationally.

That having access to free contraception would make women much better users of contraception shouldn’t be a surprise, and for feminist-minded folks, this study just reaffirmed what we already knew, which is most people will take a good deal when they get it. The problem is that in the past few years, a number of conservatives have taken to denying that there is a link between contraception and lowering the unintended pregnancy rate. Indeed, some anti-choicers have promoted a strange theory that contraception actually raises the abortion rate, because it encourages people to have sex and then to abort the pregnancies that result. Their term for it is the “contraceptive mentality”, and the theory has gained enough traction on the right that it’s being promoted by none other than Ross Douthat, a New York Times columnist and an embarrassment to that venerable institution.

The reason anti-choicers have taken to denying that contraception prevents unwanted pregnancy is complex. The argument really arose after pro-choicers began to realize that contraception was the Achilles heel of the anti-choice movement. Anti-choicers claim to oppose abortion because of “life,” but it’s quite obvious to pro-choicers that it’s actually because of a mix of sex negativity and a desire to return to pre-feminist restrictive gender roles, especially for women. Pointing out that anti-choicers fight at every term against improving access to contraception demonstrates how it’s about sex and not life; after all, if they really believed that abortion was about life, they’d be demanding free contraception for all to prevent as many abortions as possible. Realizing that their opposition to contraception was blowing their cover, many anti-choicers simply decided to start arguing that contraception doesn’t actually prevent abortion. That way, they could both keep their cover story about “life” and continue to fight against every technological innovation that allows people to have healthy sex lives and women to keep their fertility from interfering with their life goals.

The claim that access to contraception doesn’t reduce the need for abortion rests on an incredibly misogynist assumption, which is that women are, by nature, too stupid and irresponsible to keep up with a contraception regime, even if you make it easy for them. There’s no way around drawing this conclusion. If you deny outright that women struggle to afford contraception, the only possible reason left that women don’t stick to using it has to be that women themselves are failures. When Rich Lowry says, “by any reasonable standard, we are one of the most lavishly contracepted societies in the history of the planet,” and then concludes that this “lavish” access to contraception hasn’t done much, if anything, to prevent unintended pregnancy, the only implication possible is that he thinks women really are profoundly stupid people who can’t be expected to take even basic care of themselves.

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Vice President Joe Biden on Women’s Health

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Deepwater Horizon pipe ‘responsible for new oil slick in Gulf of Mexico’

From The Guardian UK:

BP and Transocean to submit clean-up operation, after scientists link three-mile oil slick to Deepwater Horizon disaster

US environment correspondent, Friday 12 October 2012

Government scientists have definitively linked a new oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico to the BP oil spill disaster of 2010.

A senior government scientist said the most likely source of the new oil is the mile-long length of pipe from the Deepwater Horizon rig, now lying in a crumpled loop on the ocean floor.

At worst, he said, the pipe was thought to contain some 1,800 barrels of oil – a minuscule amount compared with the 4.9m barrels that gushed into the ocean from BP‘s well during the 2010 oil disaster.

“When you look at all those pieces of information and put them together there is a high degree of confidence that the oil we are seeing and the sheening on the surface is coming from the riser, and that this is residual oil,” said Frank Csulak, who is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s scientific co-ordinator for the Deepwater Horizon disaster site.

BP said in a statement to reporters that its tests confirmed the oil was from the riser, and that samples contained compounds found in drilling mud.

BP spokesman Brett Clanton said: “The size of the sheen, its persistent point of origin and other factors indicate the most likely source is the bent riser pipe that once connected the rig to the well head, where a mix of oil, drilling mud and sea water were trapped after the top kill operation.

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Bill Moyers examines global warming’s effects with documentarian

From Raw Story:

By Arturo Garcia
Friday, October 12, 2012

Though a majority of Americans believe in global warming, Bill Moyers said — 74% percent, according to a new study by Yale University and George Mason University — the topic has been curiously absent from the U.S. presidential elections.

But on this week’s Moyers & Company, he discussed some of the long-term effects of the phenomenon with photographer turned documentarian James Balog, who documents the disappearance of the Earth’s glaciers in both a new book and film.

Using specially-designed cameras, Balog tracked what he called “glacial retreat,” including one glacier that had dropped 11 miles since 1984.

“It’s like air being let out of a balloon,” Balog said. “You can see what’s called the trim line; it’s the high water-mark of the glacier in 1984. That vertical change is the height of the Empire State Building.”

Though the planet has always gone through cycles of glaciers ebbing and flowing, Balog said, environmental changes over the past four decades have led to a level of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere unseen in tens of millions of years.

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Only Organics Can Feed the Hungry World: Here’s Why

From Truth Out

By Richard Schiffman
Saturday, 13 October 2012

A new approach to agriculture that combines the best in industrial production with organic and sustainable practices is the key to meeting the changing needs of a changing world, where resources are rapidly depleted by a growing population.

“Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?” is the title of a controversial report released last week by Stanford University’s Center For Health Policy. The study concludes that there is “little evidence of health benefit” from eating organic food.” The meta-analysis of more than 200 separate studies found that organic products were no more nutritious – based on vitamin and mineral content – than conventionally-grown meats and vegetables.

The press weighed in with a bewildering range of instant reactions. The New York Times published an op-ed disparaging the “fad” in buying organic, claiming that it offered “no obvious health benefits” over cheaper conventionally-produced foods and calling it an “elitist, pseudoscientific indulgence shot through with hype.”

The LA Times, on the other hand, pointed out in an editorial that the study largely ignored the ill effects of pesticide residues on conventionally-grown produce, and the hormones and antibiotic-resistant bacteria that taint factory-farmed meat and poultry. It also failed to look at processed foods, the health impact of the chemical food additives, dyes, preservatives and genetically modified foods which are allowed in conventional products, but not in those which are labeled “organic.”

But what most of the media responses to the Stanford analysis ignored is the most compelling argument of all for organic growing – which is the environmental impact of its opposite, the chemical-intensive agriculture that dominates the American landscape and much of the globe.

My own appreciation for organic agriculture dates to a conversation that I had years ago with a cotton grower from the Central Valley of California who told me about his switch from conventional to organic growing. We talked about the benefits to the water, soil and ecosystem of farming without toxic chemicals. But what struck me most was his sheer boyish enthusiasm for a line of work that in my urban arrogance I had envisioned as backbreaking, mindless and numbingly routine.

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