A lot of people will make the point today that we should leave Afghanistan as soon as possible now that our top goal of going over there has been accomplished. This comes, ironically, eight years to the day after President Bush declared Mission Accomplished in regard to Iraq — and can anyone remind me what that mission was?
We declared two wars to target Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. They were in Afghanistan and Iraq. We killed bin Laden in Pakistan.
The idea that Iraq had anything to do with Osama bin Laden and the attacks against this country was comical and tragic at the same time. Now that we have killed bin Laden in Pakistan, can we ask the incredibly wrong neo-cons what Iraq had to do with 9/11 again? And will they apologize for leading us into Iraq when it turns out we were right, the enemy was many countries away?
But that’s obvious, though it will not be mentioned enough today. So, let’s talk about Afghanistan. Yes, we did chase bin Laden from there initially — about ten years ago. But since then we have been fighting a senseless war with the Taliban and God knows who else, when we knew or suspected that bin Laden was in Pakistan. So, what did all of those nearly pointless campaigns in different parts of Afghanistan accomplish when Osama bin Laden was sitting in a house in the suburbs of Pakistan’s capital?
Bottom line — endless war didn’t work. In the end, we found the man who authorized the attacks on 9/11 through good intelligence work and killed him with a very small, targeted strike with our best trained forces. We didn’t use an army battalion or a surge or huge ground troops backed up by Abrams tanks. It was a surgical strike pulled off by a small unit. Imagine if we had invaded Pakistan instead to accomplish our objective (they were only nominally cooperating with us — he was sitting right outside their capital). How little sense would that have made? Just about as much sense as the other wars made — not much at all.
War is the wrong strategy when fighting terrorism. Whether it was our tactical strike against an Al Qaeda leader in Somalia or this tactical strike in Pakistan, it’s obvious what the much better strategy is compared to big, lumbering, incredibly costly and casualty heavy wars that we have started in the past. I hope we learn from our mistakes and our successes.
In 1915, Walter Bradford Cannon, M.D., discovered the stress response– changes in emotions are accompanied by predictable changes in heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and digestion– and thereby made a significant contribution to psychology and medicine. However, Cannon presumed that the brain was in control of the entire process.
In 1960s and 1970s John and Beatrice Lacey were some of the first modern psychophysiological researchers to examine information flow between the brain and the heart and observe that the heart communicates with the brain in ways that significantly affect human perception and reactions to the world. In 1974, French neurophysiologists Gahery and Vigier discovered a neural pathway and mechanism whereby input from the heart to the brain could "inhibit" or "facilitate" the brain’s electrical activity ("Inhibitory effects in the cuneate nucleus produced by vago-aortic afferent fibers." Brain Research. Volume 75, Issue 2, 26 July 1974, Pages 241-246. DOI:10.1016/0006-8993(74)90744-6.). Working with cats, Gahery and Vigier stimulated the vagus nerve and found that the brain’s electrical response was reduced to about half its normal rate. Therefore, the new evidence suggested that the heart and nervous system were not simply following the brain’s directions as previously assumed since Cannon.
In 1991, an early pioneer in neurocardiology, Dr. J. Andrew Armour, introduced the concept of a functional "heart brain." Armour found that:
The heart’s nervous system contains around 40,000 neurons, called sensory neurites, which detect circulating hormones and neurochemicals and sense heart rate and pressure information. Hormonal, chemical, rate and pressure information is translated into neurological impulses by the heart’s nervous system and sent from the heart to the brain through several afferent (flowing to the brain) pathways. It is also through these nerve pathways that pain signals and other feeling sensations are sent to the brain. These afferent nerve pathways enter the brain in an area called the medulla, located in the brain stem. The signals have a regulatory role over many of the autonomic nervous system signals that flow out of the brain to the heart, blood vessels and other glands and organs. However, they also cascade up into the higher centers of the brain, where they may influence perception, decision making and other cognitive processes.
The new research showed that the brain and nervous system was really a "distributed parallel processing system" composed of distinct but interplaying groups of neuronal processing centers disbursed throughout the body. Further, the heart had its own built-in nervous system that functions and processes information independently of the brain or the previously identified nervous system (e.g. why a heart transplant works; also see "The heart reinnervates after transplantation." Ann Thorac Surg 2000;69:1769-1781.).
a highly complex, self-organized information processing center with its own functional "brain" that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways. These influences profoundly affect brain function and most of the body’s major organs, and ultimately determine the quality of life.
[w]hile two-way communication between the cognitive and emotional systems is hard-wired into the brain, the actual number of neural connections going from the emotional centers to the cognitive centers is greater than the number going the other way. [This in part explains] the tremendous power of emotions, in contrast to thought alone. Once an emotion is experienced, it becomes a powerful motivator of future behaviors, affecting moment-to-moment actions, attitudes and long-term achievements. Emotions can easily bump mundane events out of awareness, but non-emotional forms of mental activity (like thoughts) do not so readily displace emotions from the mental landscape.
So, an even more sophisticated application of recent research beyond the aforementioned computer-aided cranial brain-centric biofeedback technique is the self-moderated biofeedback technique of "meditation" or "psychophysiological coherence":
[..] individuals can gain more conscious control over the process of creating increased coherence within and between the mental and emotional systems than might be commonly believed. This, in turn, can lead to greater physiological coherence, manifesting as more ordered and efficient function in the nervous, cardiovascular, hormonal and immune systems. We call the resulting state psychophysiological coherence, as it involves a high degree of balance, harmony and synchronization within and between cognitive, emotional and physiological processes. Research has shown that this state is associated with high performance, reduced stress, increased emotional stability and numerous health benefits.
By now most have seen, or at least heard about, the ad that Jack Conway (D-KY) is running to attack Rand Paul (R-KY) on religion. Conway took, what I consider to be, a cowardly last-ditch effort to discredit Rand Paul. In a race where Paul has been consistently leading Conway by 4-8 points (depending on the poll), Conway was clearly desperate to hit Paul and hit him hard.
For those who are not familiar with the ad, Conway attacks Rand Paul’s membership in a "secret society that mocked Christianity" and allegedly called the Holy Bible a "hoax." The ad also mentioned references to the now famous Aqua-Buddha supposed worship.
Make no mistake, this post is in now way an endorsement for Rand Paul. I find myself agreeing with Jack Conway on many more things than Paul, however this lowball attack ad campaign is ridiculous. Religion should be disregarded from political elections and a heavier focus should be placed on policy issues, and what candidates are going to bring to the office they are wishing to hold (however that would be in a perfect world).
This provides a perfect segue for the latest installment of religious-based smear tactics, courtesy of everyone’s favorite millionaire: John Raese.
Raese, who has already piled a wholesome $2.4 Million of his own money into his campaign, is starting to realize he’s in trouble. The polls show Manchin up anywhere between 2 and 5 points, and Raese has begun to panic. Where to turn from here? How does a plutocrat of questionable residency appeal to the West Virginia voter base?
With just ten days before the November mid-term elections, one of the closest and most important Senate races in the country has entered the realm of “silly.”
Republican U.S. Senate John Raese affirmed his support for Lance Schultz, president of the West Virginia Conservative Fund. Mr. Schultz criticized Mr. Manchin, saying the governor supports cap and trade legislation. He added that any candidate that supports such legislation “denies the existence of God, denies the truth of His work.”
“Well I tell you, you can’t have any better support than Lance Schultz,” Mr. Raese said following the event.
Granted Raese did not claim directly that Manchin denies the existence of God, he didn’t denounce it either. The most baffling part of this quote is that Joe Manchin is an outspoken critic of the Cap and Trade Legislation (he literally shoots a hole in the bill)
Hopefully, John Raese will take the higher road and not pursue the issue any further. Its a shame when candidates get so desperate that they have to question the opponent’s personal faith in God to score political points.
I had the distinct pleasure of joining a group of over a hundred members of the United Church of Gainesville (home of the “If they can burn it we can read it” campaign in response to the planned Quran burning) who donned blue shirts reading “Gay and Straight Together” to march down University Avenue to the Bo Diddley Community Plaza as part of Pride Parade 2010. It was a spectacular day and the turnout was tremendous.
Barnsdall Art Park is vital part of Los Angeles — and municipal art gallery and park that the LA City Council now wants to privatize, citing budget issues. To do so would limit citizens’ access to enjoy and create art and go against the goals of the land’s donor. Sadly, the privatization seems to be steamrolling ahead with minimal community outrage input as a way to keep Barnsdall open.
Predatory practices that used to be detrimental to third world countries have become standard to corporate welfare seekers from U.S. coffers. Tax shelters are their answer to the benefits, and concessions, they’ve been given by our government. Now it’s time to end that approach, and bring profits back where they belong. The taxpayer doesn’t have an obligation of charity toward the businesses made possible by hard work here at home.