Thursday, May 28, 2015

Al Sharpton: Callers believe Texas floods were God's punishment

From the Houston Chronicle:

On his syndicated radio show "Keepin' It Real," Sharpton said Tuesday that many of his callers interpreted the Texas downpours that swamped cities across the state this week, flooding homes and killing at least 13, as divine rebuke.

"Some people said that they felt that the world had lost its morals, that homosexuality and same-sex marriage, which I support, caused it," Sharpton said in an interview. "Many called and said they thought that was absurd, that it was science. My position is that science is right."


More here.

You know, Sharpton really hasn't been an idiot, at least not publicly, for an extremely long time, since the 90s, I think, when he supported the woman making that false rape allegation. I mean, he's not my favorite MSNBC personality, but he's a legitimate commentator these days, who often makes good observations and assertions. He's really succeeded with his self-reinvention over the years, and I, for one, take him very seriously.

But he also continues to be one of the right wing's favorite jokes. "Oh, Sharpton this, and Jackson that, yuk, yuk, yuk!" Whatever. He's not the guy he was a quarter century ago. And he's CERTAINLY not the guy who said this about 9/11:

"[T]he pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America...I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

No, that wasn't Sharpton. Rather, is was the late conservative Christian leader Jerry Falwell. And his remark was immediately seconded by conservative Christian leader Pat Robertson.

That is, when Sharpton was given a chance, thrown a slow moving baseball just hanging over the plate, really, to blame these floods in Texas on God's anger because of the state's cruel and barbaric right-wing attitudes, he didn't do it. Instead, he talked about science.

This really begs the question: which side of the aisle has the joke ministers? I think the answer to that's pretty obvious.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Southern Baptists Change Policy on Speaking in Tongues

From Charisma News:

After decade-long resistance, the Southern Baptist Convention will admit missionary candidates who speak in tongues, a practice associated with Pentecostal and charismatic churches.

The new policy, approved by the denomination's International Mission Board on Wednesday (May 13), reverses a policy that was put in place 10 years ago.

Speaking in tongues is an ancient Christian practice recorded in the New Testament in which people pray in a language they do not know, understand or control. The practice died out until Pentecostalism emerged around the turn of the 20th century. In Pentecostal churches it is considered one of many "gifts" of the Holy Spirit, including healing and the ability to prophesy.

Allowing Southern Baptist missionaries to speak in tongues, or have what some SBC leaders call a "private prayer language," speaks to the growing strength of Pentecostal churches in Africa, Asia and South America, where Southern Baptists are competing for converts and where energized new Christians are enthusiastically embracing the practice.

More here.

I haven't thought of myself as a Southern Baptist for over two decades. That's why it came as a complete surprise that I would be so disturbed by this. I mean, none of my business, really, but c'mon, you're speaking in tongues now? Are you even Baptists anymore?

And the shift has more to do with missionary work, trying to attract people to be Baptists in geographic locations where speaking in tongues is common. Needless to say, such a motivation has absolutely nothing to do with theology or spirituality. Seems pretty damned cynical to me.

But like I said, not really my business.  Still, the old Baptist in my is outraged.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

At least 2 dead as heavy rains flood freeways, close schools

From the Houston Chronicle:

As the flood waters recded Tuesday, HFD and HPD teams searched waterways to make sure other people are not in danger. The crews also searched abandoned vehicles to determine if anyone is inside them. 

Throughout the city motorists woke Tuesday morning to flooded freeways and streets, making the morning commute dangerous and even impossible for most.

The 610 Loop as well as Katy, North and South freeways were underwater in spots throughout the area. Other major roads blocked by high water include Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway near downtown.

Dozens of vehicles were stranded in high water throughout the city. In many cases, the water came up to to the driver's side windows of the abandoned cars, Other vehicles are almost submerged.

More here.

Fortunately, I was barely inconvenienced by this, mostly because I live in the aptly named Heights neighborhood.  I mean, for a while there it had me concerned.  The entire yard, street, and yard across the street became a flowing river for a while.  But once it stopped raining so heavily that all started to recede.  My drive to work was uneventful.  I had to go through an underpass that was covered by some eight feet of water ten hours earlier; by the time I was there, though, it was just muddy.

But really, I was lucky.  This Chronicle article says two dead, but New York Times coverage says five.  This was a significant weather event.  You know, the kind I had hoped I wouldn't be seeing so much since I left New Orleans.

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Black Man Vs. White Man Open Carrying AR-15 Legally

Here:



Not at all surprising in the abstract, but pretty shocking, anyway, to see it happening on video like this. This is what it's all about. This is the central point to the debate that's been raging in this country since George Zimmerman gunned down Trayvon Martin in cold blood: there is an assumption in law enforcement, and among much of the white community, and even among others who buy into the lies and myths perpetuated by white supremacy, that blacks are criminals and whites are law abiding citizens. And this video shows that assumption being played out in the real world.

For that matter, this video also touches on the elephant in the middle of the room among these "open carry" advocates. A lot of these people harbor fantasies that they're going to kill a "black criminal" some day, and that's the sole purpose for their packing heat. So "open carry" is for whites only. So they can kill black people. Thus, "open carry" for black people is an absurdity.

Sick, twisted stuff.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

THE DUGGARS

I posted the video below on facebook yesterday with this accompanying text:

This is what conservatives defending Josh Duggar look like.



In the comment thread, a friend suggested that the family deserves their privacy in this issue. Of course, I have problems with that. My response:

These people aren't simply public figures, though. They actively push harmful ideas to which, apparently, they do not adhere themselves. The Duggars are anti-gay--indeed, Josh's mother was only recently trashing transgendered people in Arkansas because they, she implied, molest children, and she said this fully aware of the fact that her son is a child molester. They're also "purity" people: if you have sex before marriage, you're "impure," like a bite of food passed from mouth to mouth, or some such, the kind of imagery "purity" people teach about sex.

Does this mean that Josh and his sisters are now filthy sluts because they gave it up before marriage? That's the kind of shit they push on the nation.

If they were private citizens, not leaders telling everybody how they ought to live their lives, yeah sure, I'd probably agree with you. But that's just not the case. When you put yourself out there as "people of God," you'd better damned well act like a person of God, or you're just a sleazy snake oil salesman, who needs to be tarred and feathered.

And speaking of Josh, you know that until this scandal broke, he was a really big deal in the Family Research Council, a major fundamentalist political organization, which is why there are so many pictures of him with GOP presidential hopefuls. But he's a child molester. One who was "punished" by the "lecture" of a convicted collector of child pornography. This is totally fucked up.

For that matter, have his sisters/victims even gotten any therapy? How are they doing? Are they cool with the whole thing? How the hell could they be cool with the whole thing? They were betrayed by their family in the most horrible way. And nobody seems to give a shit.
'Nuff said.

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.


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Friday, May 22, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING: YET ANOTHER CANINE EDITION!

Lola


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Obama’s Twitter Debut, @POTUS, Attracts Hate-Filled Posts

From the New York Times:

The @POTUS account — named for the in-house acronym derived from “President of the United States” — would “serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him,” a White House aide wrote that day.

But it took only a few minutes for Mr. Obama’s account to attract racist, hate-filled posts and replies. Posts addressed him with racial slurs, called him a monkey, and one had an image of the president’s neck in a noose.


More here.

Republicans, you have a racism problem. As always, I must point out that I am not saying Republicans are racist. But many individual Republicans ARE. This means your party has a problem with racism. A BIG ONE. And you desperately need to do something about it. But all you do is deny the obvious truth. Doing nothing under such circumstances is essentially the same thing as condoning it.

This racism problem you have will continue until you put an end to it, and purge these vile racists from your ranks. It's up to you. These are your people. Are you up to the task?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

BEING PRESSED ON MINIMUM WAGE DATA

So, of course, after crossposting yesterday's Real Art post on facebook, the conservatives swooped in to challenge my facts.  So I provided them:

Timothy, as you requested, some data.

First, an LA Times article, which is probably the most neutral of the sources I'm offering, simply because, as a newspaper, the must give, at least, lip service to objectivity. They looked at three studies. The local chamber of commerce study found, predictably, what they expected to find, the traditional conservative minimum wage boogy man.

But the other two studies the examined found the opposite.

The study sponsored by a local labor organization, and done by the non-profit Economic Roundtable organization found exactly what I'm saying, a net increase in jobs, and growth in the economy. But probably the most even handed source, the University of California, which did its own study, said it will be a wash, but with a slight net increase in jobs.

Personally, as a Keynesian, I'm predicting more hiring and an expanding LA economy. But, at worst, it will be a wash, with the more fruit of workers' labors going to the workers who grew the fruit, which is a good thing. Anyway, check it out:

http://www.latimes.com/local/cityhall/la-me-minimum-wage-studies-20150320-story.html

Department of Labor information on the minimum wage:

http://www.dol.gov/minwage/mythbuster.htm

A study of Seattle's minimum wage hikes over the last decade have found virtually no malevolent effect on the local economy:

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/studies-look-at-what-happened-when-cities-raised-minimum-wage/

A Center for Economic and Policy Research study just says straight up that minimum wage hikes do not lower employment.

http://www.cepr.net/publications/reports/why-does-the-minimum-wage-have-no-discernible-effect-on-employment

So, Timothy, the bottom line, for me, is that minimum wage increases have been studied out the wazoo, for many years, using real world situations where the minimum wage was actually raised.

I have never, ever, ever, EVER heard of a situation in our lifetimes when raising the minimum wage hurt the economy where it happened. I mean, sure, conservatives, business owners, capitalists, all of them insist that will happen, but I've never seen any evidence that it does. Just a lot of wishful thinking on the part of people who can't bear to pay a fair wage for fair work.

So it's all a myth. All lies. All for the express purpose of ripping off the working class.
Excelsior!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

From the New York Times:

The nation’s second-largest city voted on Tuesday to increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, in what is perhaps the most significant victory so far in the national push to raise the minimum wage.

The increase — which the Los Angeles City Council passed in a 14-1 vote — comes as workers across the country are rallying for higher wages, and several large companies, including Facebook and Walmart, have moved to raise their lowest wages. Several other cities, including San Francisco, Seattle and Oakland, Calif., have already approved increases, and dozens more are considering doing the same. In 2014, a number of Republican-leaning states like Alaska and South Dakota also raised their state-level minimum wage by referendum.
 
More here.
 
Now, if conservatives are right about economics, which they're not, Los Angeles' economy will soon collapse because of this, which it won't. In fact, I'd bet you credits to navy beans that LA's economy will actually expand because of this. Getting money into the hands of people who will spend it, you know, consumers, who also happen to be workers, means MORE economic activity, not less. So businesses will grow, hiring will increase, and more businesses will be created. Pretty simple old school demand side Keynesian economics. A shame we got away from that, really.
 
I await my opportunity to say "In yer face, conservatives!" Sometime next year, I'd imagine.
 
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Monday, May 18, 2015

YET ANOTHER RIGHT-WING DELUSION WORTH NOTING

From Business Week:

Community Reinvestment Act had nothing to do with subprime crisis 

Fresh off the false and politicized attack on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, today we’re hearing the know-nothings blame the subprime crisis on the Community Reinvestment Act — a 30-year-old law that was actually weakened by the Bush administration just as the worst lending wave began. This is even more ridiculous than blaming Freddie and Fannie.

More here.

After yesterday's post about right-wing delusions, I thought of another one worth mentioning: The Community Reinvestment Act, measured in tens of millions, couldn't POSSIBLY have caused a banking crisis measured in trillions. Indeed, it's just insulting to offer this really feeble explanation, one which is just awful on the math, but who cares when you're wallowing in self-delusion? Find something, anything, that lets your lips keep flapping so as to preserve your fantasy world.

These are conservatives today. They're fucking dangerous to us all, even themselves. This shit is bad.

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

RIGHT-WING DELUSIONS WILL DESTROY US

From the American Prospect:

The Myth of 'Faulty Intelligence'


The Iraq War, both how it began and how it proceeded, is now an active topic in the 2016 presidential campaign, which I think is a highly salutary development. But it does mean that we need to be on guard for the kind of distortions, misleading statements, and outright lies that characterized this debate from its very start in 2002. As you've heard by now, the Republican Party is currently divided over whether, knowing what we know now, we should ever have launched the war. Most of the Republican presidential candidates are (to my surprise, I'll admit), saying the answer is of course not, while Jeb Bush is saying that he really doesn't want to say, because doing so would be a "disservice" to the troops (which would only be true if he also thinks the answer is no).

One thing they all agree on, though, is that for better or worse the whole thing happened because of "faulty intelligence." If only America's intelligence agencies hadn't screwed up so badly, then everyone wouldn't have been convinced of what a terrifying threat Iraq was to America, and the whole thing would never have happened. Jeb Bush himself said that one of the most important lessons to take from the war is, "If you're going to go to war, make sure that you have the best intelligence possible and the intelligence broke down." But the intelligence didn't "break down."

You can't understand the decisions that led to the Iraq War without grasping just how incredibly politicized the intelligence process had become in the months before the war.


More here.

I've been, once again, debating climate change with an old pal from high school who, like many of my old pals, grew up to be a dogmatic conservative. As with most of his fellow Conservative Tribesmen, my old pal absolutely dismisses pretty much ALL the science on global warming, and instead offers opinions from the few remaining crackpot scientists, virtually all of them on the take with Big Oil by now, who continue to be skeptical on the issue.

Tell him that the Earth is warming up due to human activity and it will result in catastrophe for the human race and he tells me I'm wrong on the science. Point out that virtually all climatologists are saying so these days, and he gives me some essay from the National Review telling me that's not the case. Give him a list of all the respected scientific organizations around the globe making statements in support of the science on global warming, including our own NASA, including, even, the Pentagon, and he doesn't respond.

This is actually fairly typical of modern conservatives. Confronted with damning facts, they double down on their preferred, fact-free conservative reality. This is a massive psychological game they're playing, mostly with themselves, with their own minds, but it affects all of humanity in very likely disastrous ways.

That is, today's conservatives, when they lose utterly on the facts, have responded with self-imposed delusion for themselves, and then push that delusion on everybody else. But it's not just global warming where we see this dynamic in play. For the last fifteen years, at least, they've been doing this with any and all issues where they have lost on the facts. Case in point, the "faulty intelligence" on Iraq's WMD back in 2002 and 2003.

There was no "faulty intelligence." All our intelligence agencies KNEW Iraq had no WMD, knew they had no ties to Al-Qaeda, etc. But the Bush administration "knew" Iraq did. When successfully challenged on the facts, when these conservatives lost, on the facts, they doubled down on their fantasy version of reality, and demanded "intelligence" that would suit their needs.

And they got it.

I mean, not really, not real intelligence. But they did get some little tidbits, divorced from context, unfiltered by intelligence analysts, you know, so-called "raw intelligence," that allowed them to assemble a case for going to war. A bad case based on bullshit and manipulation of the facts they actually had, but a case which they could present to the nation and the world.

I like to call what they did the lawyer approach. That is, the Bush administration had a preordained conclusion they wanted to "prove," so they assembled some ideas and facts in order to "prove" it. Contrast this with the scientific approach, which starts without a conclusion at all, but ultimately comes up with one based on the actual facts observed.

Don't get me wrong. The lawyer approach is absolutely necessary in the courts. We need two sides duking it out like that if we're going to call it a fair process for the determination of guilt or innocence by a jury of people who weren't witnesses to the crime. But the nation is not a court. And going to war, or fighting global warming, all these things must absolutely be guided by facts because the consequences of allowing your fantasies to guide decisions about war or the environment can kill millions. That is, it's like driving with a blindfold.

But this is where we are right now as a nation. We have one of the two major parties trapped into horrid policy positions because they can't deal with losing. We have one of the two major parties wallowing in fantasy and calling it reality.

The Founding Fathers never envisioned this. They couldn't. This is something entirely new. This is something coming out of this current era of the dominant electronic image. And unless we can get a handle on it, unless we can purge this sick, fucked up blight on our public discourse, we're totally doomed.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.


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Friday, May 15, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Winkie


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sheldon Adelson faces new scrutiny as documents challenge his testimony

From the Guardian:

Sheldon Adelson, the multibillionaire casino magnate and key Republican party donor, spent four combative days in a Las Vegas court this week defending his gambling empire from accusations of bribery and ties to organised crime.

By the time the hearing was over, Adelson had argued with the judge, contradicted the evidence of his own executives and frustrated his lawyers by revealing more information than he was required to in response to simple yes or no questions. But most importantly, far from laying the allegations against his Las Vegas Sands conglomerate to rest, the billionaire’s answers threw up yet more questions which he is likely to have to return to court to answer.


More here.

Hey Republicans, it's looking more and more like your biggest donor is something of a mobster. Seriously. He's apparently connected, get this, to the Chinese Triad. Yeah, yeah, I know, he's a "legitimate businessman." They're all legitimate businessmen. Anyway, do y'all feel comfortable taking mob money?


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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Day the Middle Class Died

From Daily Kos:

On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who'd defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days.

It was a bold and brash move. No one had ever tried it. What made it even bolder was that PATCO was one of only three unions that had endorsed Reagan for president! It sent a shock wave through workers across the country. If he would do this to the people who were with him, what would he do to us?

Reagan had been backed by Wall Street in his run for the White House and they, along with right-wing Christians, wanted to restructure America and turn back the tide that President Franklin D. Roosevelt started -- a tide that was intended to make life better for the average working person. The rich hated paying better wages and providing benefits. They hated paying taxes even more. And they despised unions. The right-wing Christians hated anything that sounded like socialism or holding out a helping hand to minorities or women.

Reagan promised to end all that. So when the air traffic controllers went on strike, he seized the moment. In getting rid of every single last one of them and outlawing their union, he sent a clear and strong message: The days of everyone having a comfortable middle class life were over.

More here.

I think this shift was actually happening as far back as the late 60s--see Jefferson Cowie's amazing book "Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class" for the full story. But Michael Moore has it more or less right in the linked essay when he names Reagan's firing of PATCO strikers as the watershed event making it all official.

I think it also really warped a lot of minds from my generation who were coming of age and too young to know any better. Unions made the middle class in this country, but a seemingly huge percentage of my age group never got the chance to understand that, and, to this very day, express utterly irrational and bizarre ideas about labor unions. I mean, there's just no common sense discussion about this topic with Gen Xers. To them, unions are the devil. Because Reagan is God.

And now America sucks.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sea rise threatens Florida coast, but no statewide plan

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

St. Augustine is one of many chronically flooded communities along Florida's coast, and officials in these diverse places share a concern: They're afraid their buildings and economies will be further inundated by rising seas in just a couple of decades. The effects are a daily reality in much of Florida. Drinking water wells are fouled by seawater. Higher tides and storm surges make for more frequent road flooding from Jacksonville to Key West, and they're overburdening aging flood-control systems.

But the state has yet to offer a clear plan or coordination to address what local officials across Florida's coast see as a slow-moving emergency. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is skeptical of man-made climate change and has put aside the task of preparing for sea level rise, an Associated Press review of thousands of emails and documents pertaining to the state's preparations for rising seas found.


More here.

Damn straight there's no plan. After all, this is the state whose legislature has an informal but apparently binding rule making the phrase "climate change" forbidden on the legislature floor. In fact, one state agency worker who didn't realize this crazed rule exists accidentally violated it during a speech he gave, and was then suspended and ordered to get a mental health evaluation if he wanted to return to work. So maybe there is a plan: do nothing and harass as much as possible anybody observing that the Emperor's new clothes are actually his birthday suit.

We're coming closer and closer to the day when global warming deniers are going to drown in the rising waters, even while they continue to deny global warming. Seriously. I think these people are going to their graves insisting that the equivalent of a flat earth exists. I'd laugh if it wasn't all so horrible. I mean, they're all going to look really funny saying everything is fine while everything goes to shit. These fools have doomed us all.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Abbott signs bill letting students graduate without passing all STAAR tests

From the Montgomery County Courier:

Students who don’t pass all of their state standardized tests can now graduate anyway.

Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 149, filed by Amarillo Republican Kel Seliger, into law Monday morning, putting the law into effect immediately. The bill allows students to be forgiven for not passing up to two state tests, called STAAR End of Course exams (EOCs), and meeting certain criteria.


More here.

Okay, as many of you know, I trash Republicans and conservatives fairly consistently here on facebook, which is why I feel I should always be up front and honest whenever Republicans do something I really like. Today, my new governor, in association with the GOP dominated Ledge, did something I ABSOLUTELY like. They backed us away a bit from education's longstanding testing mania. And they even provided some really good multifaceted standards for graduating from high school without having passed all these tests, which is exactly the direction we need to be going.

It makes me feel good when I'm able to say truthfully, without irony or condescension, good work Republicans!

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program, Report Says

From the New York Times:

The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.

The report is the first to examine the association’s role in the interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed emails, that the group’s actions to keep psychologists involved in the interrogation program coincided closely with efforts by senior Bush administration officials to salvage the program after the public disclosure in 2004 of graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.


More here.

F you, APA. You've made an already chronically ethics-challenged field a whole hell of a lot sleazier. Are you even going to try to dig psychology out of the hole in which you've put it? Or are you above all that? I have nothing but contempt for you.

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Saturday, May 09, 2015

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.



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Friday, May 08, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Sammy


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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Thursday, May 07, 2015

Jeb Bush Openly Admits He’s A Fan Of White Supremacy

From Addicting Info:
 

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) declared himself to be a fan of controversial social scientist Charles Murray’s books at a forum Thursday in Washington.

Bush lauded Murray’s books on two separate occasions during an interview with National Review editor Rich Lowry, at a forum sponsored by the conservative magazine.

Lowry asked Bush, “… is there any policy or anything public officials can do to help turn back what has been a rising tide of family breakdown crossing decades now?”

“Absolutely, there is,” Bush, a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said. “It’s not exactly the core. My views on this were shaped a lot on this by Charles Murray’s book, except I was reading the book and I was waiting for the last chapter with the really cool solutions — didn’t quite get there.”

Later in the interview, Lowry asked Bush what he likes to read. Again, he cited Murray.

“I like Charles Murray books to be honest with you, which means I’m a total nerd I guess,” Bush said.


More here.

You know, Republicans just go ballistic when you say their party has a racism problem. Painting with too broad a brush stroke, using a few bad apples to judge too many people, whatever. They think it's in very bad taste to go there. But then they turn around and do this crap, again and again.

Charles Murray, Jeb Bush's professed intellectual guru, who asserted in his 1990s conservative classic "The Bell Curve" that IQ testing proves blacks are genetically inferior to whites, is a straight up racist. IQ tests tell us nothing about genetics, and are problematic, anyway, with doing what they're ostensibly supposed to do. Anybody who knows anything about cognitive psychology knows this. Murray, the "conservative intellectual," very likely knew he couldn't honestly come to such a conclusion when he made his racist assertion, so, in addition to being a racist, he's also a damned liar.

This is, apparently, a writer who has strongly influenced the Republican 2016 frontrunner's thinking about black people and public policy. And Jeb's proud of it.

This kind of thing is precisely why liberals can't resist talking about the GOP's racism problem. It's almost as though we're being dared.


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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Free Speech vs. Hate Speech

From the New York Times editorial board:

There is no question that images ridiculing religion, however offensive they may be to believers, qualify as protected free speech in the United States and most Western democracies. There is also no question that however offensive the images, they do not justify murder, and that it is incumbent on leaders of all religious faiths to make this clear to their followers.

But it is equally clear that the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Tex., was not really about free speech. It was an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom.


More here.

The shooting in Garland involves essentially the same issues as the Charlie Hebdo shooting. Killing is wrong. Freedom of speech is right. But one should not use one's freedom to be an asshole to an entire minority group. No need to rehash all that.

But a couple of things have occurred to me since then. First, this isn't really a free speech issue. Freedom of speech is about citizens' relationship with government. In contrast, when private individuals threaten violence, use intimidation, whatever, in order to stop somebody from saying something, it's called extortion, which is a criminal act, not a violation of someone's freedom of speech.

So we need to stop confusing the two. Islamic terrorists are criminals trying to extort people into doing their will. Meanwhile, everybody's freedom of speech, at least in the West, remains intact and unthreatened.

Second, Pamela Geller, one of the event's hosts, is a particularly sleazy and bigoted scumbag, and she succeeded in Garland beyond her wildest dreams. That is, Geller WANTED angry Muslims to shoot at her so as to "prove" her vile, prejudiced, and xenophobic beliefs. I have absolutely no doubt that her heart filled with joy the moment she heard that the event had come under fire.

She is an awful, horrible person.


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Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Obama mocks Michele Bachmann for blaming apocalypse on him — and conservatives are furious

From Raw Story:

Michele Bachmann and other conservative Christians were outraged after President Barack Obama mocked their predictions that he was hastening the end of the world.

Bachmann, a former Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, spoke at length about her apocalyptic concerns in a radio interview earlier this month with a Christian broadcaster.

The president joked about her comments Saturday during the White House Correspondents Dinner.


More here.

Oh, this is funny!

And, for the record, you can count me among the people who mock the End Timers. I mean, even if the Revelation is one hundred percent accurate, the pathetic and shoddy "scholarship" always attempting to establish the End Times as being RIGHT NOW, a pursuit which waxes and wanes, but seemingly goes back centuries, isn't much more than a wish-fulfillment fantasy.

And never mind the fact that this sham religious activity is almost the sole dominion of fundamentalists, who continually insist that there is no need for interpreting the Bible, and then turn around and - you guessed it - interpret the Bible. It's just a joke all the way around. We are not in the End Times. Also, Michelle Bachmann's head is made of wood.

Also Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, and many others have made a lot of money peddling the Apocalypse to suckers who love to empty their pockets for them.

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Monday, May 04, 2015

1 in 15 students have chlamydia at West Texas high school

From the Houston Chronicle:

Crane ISD Superintendent Jim T. Rumage cited abstinence as a useful methodology for keeping kids away from sexual activity in a phone interview Monday. 'If kids are not having any sexual activity, they can’t get this disease … That’s not a bad program,' Rumage said.

And

Crane County had 17 cases in 2013, with a rate of 256.2 cases per 100,000 people.

More here.

No, Mr. Rumage, a good program stops STD outbreaks at schools in the district you run. Clearly "abstinence based" sex ed is the failure it's been known to be from the get-go. Back in the 90s. Twenty years ago.

Just to give you an idea of the scale of the outbreak, the local infection rate is around .25%, a quarter of a hundredth of the population.  Compare that to six percent for this high school.  This is pretty massive.  And Superintendent Rumage thinks "abstinence based" is a good idea.

Why do we still do this shit?

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Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Asshole Factory

From Medium.com:

What is Mara’s job like? Her sales figures are monitored…by the microsecond. By hidden cameras and mics. They listen to her every word; they capture her every movement; that track and stalk her as if she were an animal; or a prisoner; or both. She’s jacked into a headset that literally barks algorithmic, programmed “orders” at her, parroting her own “performance” back to her, telling her how she compares with quotas calculated…down to the second…for all the hundreds of items in the store…which recites “influence and manipulation techniques” to her…to use on unsuspecting customers…that sound suspiciously like psychological warfare. It’s as if the NSA was following you around……and it was stuck in your head…telling you what an inadequate failure you were…psychologically waterboarding you…all day long…every day for the rest of your life.

More here.

A friend of mine posted this on my facebook timeline yesterday.  Here's how I responded.

1. Noam Chomsky has said repeatedly over his career as a dissident writer that all human beings are intellectually curious and naturally creative, and therefore need intellectually stimulating, creative work. I agree with him on this, across the board.

2. Karl Marx concedes that there are a lot of really shitty jobs in the overall economy that simply have to be done, which is why he asserted a four hour work day, which would, by his nineteenth century estimate, allow the economy to produce everything everybody needs, but also allowing everybody to have actual lives outside of work. I think that, today, we could probably drop down to two or three hours a day with similar results.

3. I remember attending an in service years ago with the entire faculty of the high school where I worked. They showed a ten minute clip from Dead Poets Society, all inspiring, all the right words about learning and living, and the clip was cheered by everybody. Nobody seemed to be in on the irony that what we were doing every day as teachers in our own school was exactly the opposite of what Robin Williams was doing in the movie.

4. Since I got out of grad school, I've been accused by more than one person of having no ambition because I was waiting tables and pursuing professional actor roles in New Orleans, essentially not worrying too much about it and enjoying my life. Little did they know that I'm trying as hard as I can to reject The Asshole Factory of life, which may very well appear to assholes as though I have no ambition.

I'm at the point in life such that all that shit we were taught we're supposed to be just doesn't seem to be worth it. So why bother? Why participate in an economy to my full "potential" when I don't think the economy is serving me to its full potential? I'd much rather do shows, write songs, and write essays on the internet. As far as I can tell, these things have at least as much value to my fellow man as, say, selling shit to people who don't really want or need it.
'Nuff said!

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Saturday, May 02, 2015

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.



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Friday, May 01, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Frankie


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Here's What Martin Luther King Jr. Really Thought About Urban Riots

From Mother Jones:

"They are mainly intended to shock the white community. They are a distorted form of social protest. The looting which is their principal feature serves many functions. It enables the most enraged and deprived Negro to take hold of consumer goods with the ease the white man does by using his purse. Often the Negro does not even want what he takes; he wants the experience of taking. But most of all, alienated from society and knowing that this society cherishes property above people, he is shocking it by abusing property rights. There are thus elements of emotional catharsis in the violent act."

More here.

Dear white conservatives, please stop invoking Martin Luther King, Jr. to condemn the response to cops killing unarmed black men. Because, you know, you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. 

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

TX Gov Orders State Guard to Monitor Possible Military Takeover of Texas

From Talking Points Memo:

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday asked the State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise dubbed "Jade Helm 15" amid Internet-fueled suspicions that the war simulation is really a hostile military takeover. 

The request comes a day after more than 200 people packed a meeting in rural Bastrop County and questioned a U.S. Army commander about whether the government was planning to confiscate guns or implement martial law. Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said "conspiracy theorists" and "fear mongers" had been in a frenzy.

More here.

I hope everybody knows how we get the phrase "tinfoil hat." Basically, it goes like this. A conspiracy theorist believes that the government, or aliens, whatever, is attempting to use a mind-control ray on him. Fortunately, for the conspiracy theorist, putting metal foil over his head blocks the mind-control rays, allowing him to retain his own individuality while he continues to track down the "evidence" that will make everybody see how screwed up things are. Or something to that effect.

Typically, we use "tinfoil hat" to describe only the weirdest and craziest of conspiracy theorists or theories. I mean, there's a difference between people who doubt some of the conclusions of the Warren report, and people who believe that reptilian aliens are clandestinely running the government. This crazed belief that army war games are a ruse for a federal takeover definitely goes into tinfoil hat territory.

I mean, think about it this way. Because Texas is part of the United States, the feds already have a great deal of jurisdiction. Why would they need to take over? For that matter, how does activating the national guard, which is ultimately a branch of the US military, and can be "federalized" at any moment, "protect" us from a federal takeover? It's totally insane. And pretty stupid, too.

But whatever. There are a lot of crazed Texans out there. But only one Texan is governor. And it appears that Abbott is taking this conspiracy theory seriously. So does that make him crazy? Maybe, and that's pretty frightening. It's also pretty frightening, however, to think that he might not believe this nutty conspiracy theory at all, but is totally willing to use the National Guard, spending millions of state and federal tax dollars in the process, simply to pander to the right-wing nuts he thinks are his base.

Crazy or evil. Which one is it? I mean, okay, it could be both, but I'm inclined to think he's simply being evil with this. Using the military and wasting tax dollars just for a political stunt.

Either way, though, this is pretty stunning.


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