I'm moving tomorrow - failed relationship - so I don't think I'll be able to post here for a few days until all the wreckage is cleared, etc. But I will definitely be back!
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Tuesday, December 08, 2015
Monday, December 07, 2015
"Prayer shaming" is the right wing totally ignoring the left's poignant criticism that meaningless prayer and bland platitudes are just about the only "solution" conservatives offer for the mass epidemic of gun violence this country has been experiencing for years. "Prayer shaming" is a sleazy rhetorical feint intended to discredit the left while allowing the blood to continue flowing with maximum efficiency.
It's a sick joke. There is no "prayer shaming." It's a total conservative fabrication. And it's fairly typical of conservatives. "No, WE'RE the victims." "No, YOU'RE the oppressor." "Look! Over there!"
Don't be fooled by this stupid bullshit. And screw any conservatives that push it. They're lying scum bags who like people dying.
Posted by Ron at 6:31 PM
Sunday, December 06, 2015
It's not even clear that opinions on guns and gun violence remain amenable to argument. Over the past few decades, gun ownership in the US has evolved from a practical issue for rural homeowners and hunters to a kind of gesture of tribal solidarity, an act of defiance toward Obama, the left, and all the changes they represent. The gun lobby has become more hardened and uncompromising, pushing guns into schools, churches, and universities.
This has taken place in the context of a broader and deeper polarization of the country, as Red America and Blue America have become more ideologically homogeneous and distant from one another. The two sides are now composed of people who quite literally think and feel differently — and are less and less able to communicate. The gun issue is a salient example, but far from the only one.
A friend of mine posted the above linked essay on my facebook page a couple of days ago. Here's the comment I made:
Okay, really good essay. A couple of thoughts.'Nuff said.
First, I think one can successfully argue with another identity. You just have to take a wildly different approach. You can't just say "here are the facts." You've got to appeal to other conservative ideas. You've got to use emotion. You've got to be nice and you've got to be mean. The point is that dealing with identity is just a totally different process, more propagandistic than argumentative.
And it takes a lot more patience, time, and understanding. That's the key. Understand who it is to whom you're talking.
Second, I think I might be, deep down, conservative myself. Not in terms of ideology, but in terms of personality. I've struggled with pretty intense anxiety for over a decade, and I think I might be genetically prone to it. But my intellect, honed around communists and artists in Austin years ago, won't let me take the right-wing bait. So I'm afraid, but I don't really know what I'm afraid of. Or rather, I see different monsters from the ones ideological conservatives see. Something like that.
I mean, I grew up in a conservative family in a conservative neighborhood, and went to a conservative church. In lots of ways, I'm comfortable around Texas conservatives, who still kind of feel like my people. All this goes back to my first point, that conservatives can in fact be persuaded. I feel like I'm evidence of that. But it's a totally different game than simply duking it out with facts.
Posted by Ron at 6:32 PM
Saturday, December 05, 2015
Friday, December 04, 2015
Thursday, December 03, 2015
From the New York Times:
Donald L. Blankenship, a titan of the nation’s coal industry whose approach to business was scrutinized and scorned after 29 workers were killed at the Upper Big Branch mine in 2010, was convicted Thursday of a federal charge of conspiring to violate mine safety standards, part of a case that emerged after the accident, the deadliest in mining in the United States in decades.
This guy is a real piece of capitalist pig shit.
While his miners were still trapped underground, suffocating to death, he got on television and insisted to the entire nation that the disaster was an earthquake, an act of God, having nothing to do with his penchant for violating safety regulations. That last bit is also very likely why he coupled his absurd earthquake statement with a massive rhetorical attack on the miners union, which had been asserting for years that Blankenship simply saw the fines for safety violations as a cost of doing business.
You could tell he was full of shit at the time. A fricking earthquake? Attacking the union? Even while his workers were dying? Man, the size of his balls are exceeded only by the size of his ego. And his evil.
I mean, fuck this guy. He killed twenty nine miners. Because, as a conservative, he doesn't believe in government regulating business. A year isn't enough, because he's a murderer, but it's something--usually these fat cat sociopaths never see any justice at all. But he really ought to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
He's the poster boy for everything that's wrong with this country. Go to hell, Blankenship. You make me want to vomit.
Posted by Ron at 6:09 PM
Wednesday, December 02, 2015
From the New York Times:
Hours after as many as three gunmen stormed a service center for people with disabilities here on Wednesday, killing at least 14 people and wounding at least 17 others, the police engaged in a shootout in nearby surburban neighborhood, that officials said left one suspect dead, one likely wounded in an S.U.V. and a third suspect on the run.
This is me biting my tongue until we learn more about the San Bernardino shooting. But I can safely say at the moment that this is yet another American gun horror, and that these events are now happening daily.
I mean, one happened in Georgia earlier today.
Posted by Ron at 6:25 PM
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
From Raw Story:
Dear was politically conservative, religious, owned guns and believed that abortion was wrong — but he was not obsessed with any of these issues, Ross said.
“It never, ever, ever, ever crossed my mind” that he would be capable of a mass shooting, Ross told The Times. “My heart just fell to my stomach.”
You know, it is personally insulting to me when conservatives push totally outlandish bullshit and expect me to take it seriously. I mean, if I were to take this transgender liberal activist crap seriously, it would be nothing short of humiliating. But that's how conservatives roll these days. They essentially dare us to call "bullshit" on their bullshit, and when we do, they freak out.
Bunch of whiny wussies.
Posted by Ron at 7:30 PM
Monday, November 30, 2015
As you know, Texas is one of the states who have barred Syrian refugees from settling within its borders. Regardless of how one feels about this, the people of Jesus have a different responsibility: we have the responsibility to help the sojourner among us. We welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and give food to the hungry– that’s an essential, core identity to being Christian. In fact, Jesus said it was a heaven or hell issue if you want to use some conservative lingo to make the point.
And here’s how the Texas decision has now turned into a real-deal case of anti-Christian persecution: instead of saying the state of Texas won’t accept refugees but allowing citizens of Texas to freely practice their religion in spite of the government decision, Governor Greg Abbott has ordered Christian ministries to immediately cease and desist giving aid to refugees.
As the conservatives like to say so often, "where's the outrage"? This really is anti-Christian persecution, no bullshit, no squirmy "logic," no misdirection. The governor has ordered Christian charities to stop aiding Syrian refugees. And to hell with their stupid "beliefs." I'm not offended as a liberal; I'm offended as an American.
I invite my conservative Christian friends to join me in condemning this unconstitutional atrocity. It's for real this time, everybody. And it needs to end immediately.
Posted by Ron at 5:57 PM
Sunday, November 29, 2015
From Occupy Democrats:
Before we had any information about the horrors that were transpiring in a Colorado Planned Parenthood, right-wing conservatives were chomping at the bit to frame this as anything but what it obviously was – a terrorist attack by a white Christian extremist. The false narrative that FOX News and the Republican echo chamber has gone with is that the attack was a “bank robbery” gone wrong, and conservative social media began lambasting the left for “assuming” that a man shooting up a Planned Parenthood was a domestic terrorist.
This reminds me of how conservatives were trying to spin the Charleston church shooting last summer as part of the "War on Christianity," instead of being the racist terrorist attack it actually was. Well, that collapsed pretty quickly. This will, too. A radical Christian terrorist attacked a Planned Parenthood location. That's what happened, and Fox will very likely stop their bullshit on this in the next twenty four hours or so.
They've gotten to be so predictable.
Posted by Ron at 6:13 PM
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Friday, November 27, 2015
Thursday, November 26, 2015
I'm thinking that the Russians are right. We need to back the Assad regime in Syria. I don't think it'll really solve the ISIS issue - only a dramatic shift in US foreign policy in the region, toward human rights and economic development, and away from oil-chess and Western dominance, will do that - but if we want to get a handle on the crisis in the short term, this is what we'll have to do. That, and talk to Turkey about shooting down Russian jets.
We're already neck deep as far as dealing with the devil over there goes. One more devil won't matter too much. Who knows? Maybe we can get Assad to agree to some concessions.
Posted by Ron at 11:58 PM
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
From the New York Times editorial section:
People may think it’s polite to avoid injecting politics into a holiday that should be focused on family, food and football. But with all the talk of “safe spaces” on college campuses, it may be a blessing that relatives can still argue about politics without feeling personally affronted.
One friend who is no stranger to Thanksgiving arguments pointed out that, in some ways, it can be exhilarating to confront a relative with opposing views. In our ultrapersonalized, curated online world, the Thanksgiving table is one of the last nonsafe spaces. On Facebook, you can easily unfriend someone with whom you disagree. It’s a lot harder when that person is sitting across the turkey from you.
I will NOT be discussing politics with my conservative family for Thanksgiving, a tradition I have maintained for over a decade now. While probably not quite as conservative as I am liberal - well, maybe my dad is - my brothers and father are definitely as passionate about their politics as I am about mine. And we all know it. There's just no need for me to make myself "right" about things that ultimately have nothing to do with our familial relationship.
I mean, we may inadvertently tread on some political territory, but typically when that happens, I'm, like, "here's what I think," instead of "you are WRONG!" This is how we have festive holidays in the Reeder family; we all play along. It's absolutely nothing like one of my facebook threads. Actually, my discussion threads are typically pretty civil, but you know what I mean. There's no need to tell anybody at Thanksgiving dinner that they have no idea what they're talking about, which I often do on facebook.
But I do really like that this NY Times editorial encourages families to talk politics when they're together. We should ALL talk more about politics, especially across the aisle if that's your situation. It's just that I don't think that would work for the Reeders.
We're very proud men, you know.
Posted by Ron at 7:06 PM
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
An exchange on facebook:
Toni: I've noticed a trend with these mass shootings where the shooter is typically portrayed as an outlier. Do you think then, in addition to reviewing gun laws, reporting laws, and the like, that we should also review what it was that made these people feel as though they needed to orchestrate such violence in order to compensate for their, IDK, ostracization? (sp?). I mean, is there a way that we can elevate philosophies of acceptance of these people instead of punishing them for being different? Or are we as a nation too divided on so many levels to even consider making this attempt?
Ron: At this moment in US history, I don't think so. We actually had a bit of a window of opportunity with this in the wake of Columbine. That was part of the conversation, about the harsh social circle realities of high school, how utterly alienating it is. But that was quickly squashed by public school security crackdowns which included making the informal ostracizing of weird kids dressed in black into official institutional rules. That is, we, as a society, decided to double down on alienating non-conformists and weirdos.
Exactly the opposite of what we should have done. I don't see us doing any better with that sort of thing today.
Toni: We're doomed
Ron: At the moment, it sure does seem like that. But it's always darkest before the dawn. On the other hand, I think things can get darker still.
Posted by Ron at 5:07 PM
Monday, November 23, 2015
From Americans Against the Tea Party:
The right-wing is quick to condemn all of Islam like it’s a singular entity, and hold every Muslim accountable for the actions of a handful bad apples. As I’ve often said, no one religion — not even Buddhism — has the “right” to claim they’re non-violent. Holy War is one of those things that cuts across all religions equally. And while you can point this out to right-wingers, they won’t listen: they’re quick to invoke Boko Haram, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Sheebab, or some other terrorist agency and pretend they’re the sum total of all Muslims.
Well, there are Christian terrorist agencies that are just as scary, and some of them just as bad if not worse, than ISIS. A few of these you may have heard of, but since our so-called “liberal media” gets cold feet at naming Christian Terrorism what it is, some of them slip under the radar or aren’t as associated with Christian terrorism as they should be in the popular imagination.
Trash the terrorists all you want. I do, too. But you're a malevolent fool to trash all of Islam because of Islamic extremists. Christians do this, too. Are you ready to condemn all of Christianity for the actions of a relative few? If you don't, you're a lying scum bag. And stupid.
Posted by Ron at 5:38 PM
Sunday, November 22, 2015
From the New York Times editorial board:
It is worth reading certain Islamist newspapers to see their reactions to the attacks in Paris. The West is cast as a land of 'infidels.' The attacks were the result of the onslaught against Islam. Muslims and Arabs have become the enemies of the secular and the Jews. The Palestinian question is invoked along with the rape of Iraq and the memory of colonial trauma, and packaged into a messianic discourse meant to seduce the masses. Such talk spreads in the social spaces below, while up above, political leaders send their condolences to France and denounce a crime against humanity. This totally schizophrenic situation parallels the West’s denial regarding Saudi Arabia.
All of which leaves one skeptical of Western democracies’ thunderous declarations regarding the necessity of fighting terrorism. Their war can only be myopic, for it targets the effect rather than the cause. Since ISIS is first and foremost a culture, not a militia, how do you prevent future generations from turning to jihadism when the influence of Fatwa Valley and its clerics and its culture and its immense editorial industry remains intact?
Let's face it. The only "military solution" to the IS problem is a brutal and permanent occupation with a million or more troops to keep "the peace." We would have to resort to Nazi German anti-insurgency tactics, torture, murder, wiping out entire villages for the crimes of a few. Police state terror. Forever. That's the only "military solution" to terrorism.
And, in the end, it would fail miserably. It would give EVERYBODY IN THE REGION damned good reasons to strap on bombs and blow themselves up among crowds of Westerners. So there is no "military solution." We would be sowing the seeds of our own defeat, and lose our souls in the process.
Yes, we should do something in the short term to make the world safer from terrorism, although I don't know what that would be. But I am certain that if we don't overhaul our entire diplomatic approach to the Middle East, abandoning the freakish, contradictory, bizarre, and irrational games of oil-chess and Western domination, including America's ongoing acceptance of Israel's crimes against the Palestinians and our dealing-with-the-devil alliance with the Saudis, and replace it all with a foreign policy of justice, human rights, and economic development, any short term effort will be both futile and counterproductive.
If we don't completely re-think this, we will fail.
Posted by Ron at 6:49 PM
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Friday, November 20, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
A buddy of mine posted the image below, which refers to Republican Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal dropping out of the the GOP primary race.
Immediately, he was hassled by a friend of his, a white guy, busting his chops for perceived racism. My friend observed that the tweet was made by a comedian who is an Indian American. My friend's friend countered with some sarcastic remark about how my friend was being racist anyway by highlighting Indian on Indian racism.
Enough is enough I thought. Here's what I posted:
I just heard an NPR story today asserting that Jindal is widely perceived by fellow Indian Americans as downplaying his ethnicity in a negative way.Playing the PC game can be frustrating and difficult, but not impossible. Especially when your tormentor is coming off like South Park's PC Principal.
I don't feel personally entitled to call, say, Clarence Thomas an "Uncle Tom," but if Chris Rock says it, in his typically intelligent and poignantly critical style, then, hell yeah, I'm going to share the tweet. It's a fair criticism to make, albeit one heavily charged with race, sidelining to an extent white men like me.
But I'm not going to just pretend it didn't happen out of some blind and misguided devotion to the notion of being politically correct.
Posted by Ron at 8:00 PM
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
From the Houston Chronicle:
The Texas State Board of Education on Wednesday narrowly voted down a proposal to have university professors fact check state-approved textbooks.
"While I am disappointed with the vote on my amendment, we did adopt other amendments that will strengthen our process," said Thomas Ratliff, the Mount Pleasant Republican behind the proposal. "It's a step in the right direction, just not as big a step as I had hoped for."
This comes from the same cultural strain that had Texans elect a self-hating lunatic immigrant and an alleged Klan member to the US Senate. It's the same wave of palpable in-your-face ignorance that has inspired the last two governors to discuss secession as a serious topic, in spite of the fact that the Civil War, in which Texas was on the losing side, made clear to everybody that American states don't secede. It's why the state has rejected the Medicare expansion, in spite of the fact that we have one of the largest uninsured populations in the nation. It's also what turned slaves into "workers" with the stroke of a pen. Just an over-the-top "we're f'ing stupid, and we're going to do whatever we want, no matter how stupid it is, and f you, too, while we're at it."
You know, arrogance and swag can work to some extent sometimes, but you've got to be able to back it up with...I don't know...superior ability or superior knowledge, that sort of thing. But Texas in the twenty first century has neither. The f-tards are totally in control.
Posted by Ron at 6:47 PM
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
A good buddy of mine posted this today on facebook:
Believe this: All the terrorists in the world couldn't overtake our nation on military strength alone. Ok? They aren't going to literally march in and conquer us. Their aim is to sow fear so that we will voluntarily trade our freedom for security. In other words, IT'S A BLUFF. Don't fold.Here's how I responded:
You all know the quote but have you ever thought about what he meant when FDR said this?
"The only thing we have to fear is... FEAR itself. "
I personally believe that the steady American diet of war movies, throughout our entire lifetimes, makes us very inclined to think that all foreign policy and national security issues are exactly like WWII and the Cold War. I mean, those are the stories that define what war means to us. And, like going to church every Sunday, we have those narratives continually reaffirmed.'Nuff said.
So people are just incapable of thinking clearly about all this. Every foreign threat is a nuclear one. Maybe they'll invade us and make us practice Sharia law. It's just nuts. It doesn't fit the facts. It's sheer misinformed paranoia.
I don't know what to do about it other than just trying to keep talking sense.
Posted by Ron at 5:35 PM
Monday, November 16, 2015
The point is not to minimize the horror. It is, instead, to emphasize that the biggest danger terrorism poses to our society comes not from the direct harm inflicted, but from the wrong-headed responses it can inspire. And it’s crucial to realize that there are multiple ways the response can go wrong.
I remember thinking at some point on September 11, 2001 that I wasn't afraid of any terrorists. Instead, I was afraid of Americans freaking out and making horrible decisions. It turned out that I had it exactly right. Terrorists have done nothing to me or the vast majority of Americans in the decade plus since then, but the massive freak out did, indeed, result in countless awful decisions, the results of which we are still trying to repair.
I was also afraid for myself personally. Bill Maher was fired from ABC for saying the wrong thing. Phil Donahue was fired from MSNBC for being anti-war. The Dixie Chicks were banned from Clear Channel radio stations and people burned their CDs. I was teaching at the time in a rather conservative and provincial district. Why not fire the liberal high school teacher for telling people they were wrong to scream for Muslim blood? I kept my mouth shut, but felt horrible about it. Indeed, that's why I started blogging back in 2002, so I could speak out, to someone, anyone, somewhere, anywhere--it's ultimately why I ended up treating my facebook posting as though it was blogging.
Over the years, I decided never to be afraid again, not of terrorists, not of my fellow Americans. I decided always to be the citizen that I am: when I see my country on the verge of insanity, I will speak out. Always. Whether you like it or not. I will allow neither terrorists nor fear-crazed Americans to change who I am, to make me less of an American. The terrorists might beat you, but they won't beat me.
Everyone who takes being an American seriously should make the same commitment. Or you're not much of an American.
Posted by Ron at 6:33 PM
Sunday, November 15, 2015
From Talking Points Memo:
Their disagreement centered on O’Reilly’s thesis that a 1981 assassination attempt traumatized former president Ronald Reagan, causing a mental decline that would eventually devolve into Alzheimer’s disease.
While O’Reilly insisted that Reagan administration staff memos validate his theory, Will dismissed it as false and damaging to the conservative icon’s memory. Both men accused each other of failing to carry out due diligence as reporters.
“You are not telling the truth. You are actively misleading the American people,” O’Reilly told Will.
More here, with video.
The GOP orgy of cannibalism continues. And this is really something. I strongly urge you to click through and watch the video. O'Reilly, in his self-righteous indignation, makes Will look downright reasonable. That, in itself, is pretty amazing.
Posted by Ron at 6:30 PM
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Friday, November 13, 2015
Thursday, November 12, 2015
From the Houston Press:
Jenni Rebecca Stephenson still had her job as the executive director of Fresh Arts on October 20 when she appeared on NPR’s Houston Matters and questioned statements by Museum of Fine Arts, Houston director Gary Tinterow. Hours after the program aired, Stephenson was replaced by Julie Farr, who’s also the interim executive director for the Houston Museum District Association, a powerful non-profit organization that’s chaired by Tinterow.
While Stephenson's firing or resignation remains in doubt, a member of Fresh Arts’ artist advisory board calls Farr's controversial appointment an “insane conflict of interest.”
Sleazy douchebaggery in the Houston arts scene. It appears that the big boys don't like being challenged by the little boys. And are willing to kick people's ass to make their point. I despair for this town's culture.
Posted by Ron at 6:36 PM
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
A conservative friend of mine from high school, a guy who routinely criticizes Black Lives Matter, posted on my facebook page yesterday a local television news editorial asking where the outrage is for a nine year old boy killed by gang members in Chicago. The idea is that the people criticizing the police really ought to give that up and protest "black on black" crime, instead.
Here's the comment I left:
Is it that you simply are incapable of understanding the difference between the government killing innocent people and criminals killing innocent people? Do you think it's some sort of rage competition, that people have to address only the issues you want addressed but not the ones they want?'Nuff said.
Everybody, all of society, already knows it's horrible for a gang banger to kill a nine year old. People hate it. And the left addresses this issue ALL THE TIME, in terms of changing the social circumstances that breed criminality. There is ONGOING outrage about not only the crime, but also the poverty, hunger, psychological pathology, severely limited economic opportunity, all these things associated with ghettos.
But conservatives won't have any of it. They're lazy criminals, you all say. They deserve nothing, you all say. You people use these crimes as an excuse to attack people protesting cops killing black people. Like I said, EVERYBODY already knows how horrible murders like this are. But you people fall over backwards to minimize the seriousness of the government murdering people.
You are a total hypocrite on this issue, and therefore have absolutely no moral credibility when you say such things.
Posted by Ron at 6:15 PM
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
From Daily Kos:
“Smart” is a multifaceted cognitive feature composed of excellent analytical skills, possession of an extensive knowledge base that is easily and frequently augmented, possession of a good memory, and being readily curious about the world and willing, even eager, to reject previously accepted notions in the face of new data. Being smart includes having the ability to analyze new data for validity and, thinking creatively, draw new insights from existing common knowledge.
As a neurologist in practice for 20 years and one who has worked closely with many neurosurgeons I can assure you, Dr. Ben Carson does not meet the above criteria. Not even close. He is a painfully ignorant person. This is an easy point to defend.
Actually, you can very easily extend this guy's analysis to all conservatives. By its very nature, modern American conservatism is NOT "curious about the world." It is NOT "eager to reject previously accepted notions in the face of new data." It is NOT willing to "draw new insights from existing common knowledge."
Instead, modern conservatism is about finding increasingly complicated rhetorical methods for denying, to self and others, any and all new information that threatens cherished notions about reality. It's about maintaining mental comfort and ease in the face of a continually changing world, in spite of the facts. It's about burying your head in the sand. It's about retreating into pleasant, self-affirming, and secure fantasy. No matter what the cost.
But if I were to say this about all conservatives, I'm likely to make a lot of people very angry. I'd better just keep this to Carson. For now.
Posted by Ron at 7:29 PM