GOING OUT OF TOWN AGAIN...
...for a couple of days, so no posting again until Tuesday night. See y'all then!
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Friday, June 28, 2013
From RT courtesy of a facebook friend:
California man faces 13 years in jail for scribbling anti-bank messages in chalk
Jeff Olson, the 40-year-old man who is being prosecuted for scrawling anti-megabank messages on sidewalks in water-soluble chalk last year now faces a 13-year jail sentence. A judge has barred his attorney from mentioning freedom of speech during trial.
According to the San Diego Reader, which reported on Tuesday that a judge had opted to prevent Olson’s attorney from "mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial,” Olson must now stand trial for on 13 counts of vandalism.
In addition to possibly spending years in jail, Olson will also be held liable for fines of up to $13,000 over the anti-big-bank slogans that were left using washable children's chalk on a sidewalk outside of three San Diego, California branches of Bank of America, the massive conglomerate that received $45 billion in interest-free loans from the US government in 2008-2009 in a bid to keep it solvent after bad bets went south.
And from Think Progress, courtesy of another facebook friend:
Man Chalks Pro-Health Care Message On Sidewalk,
Gets Arrested For Writing ‘Derogatory Remark’
A health care activist in Pennsylvania was arrested Wednesday night for writing a message in sidewalk chalk protesting the governor’s decision to block health care for 700,000 residents in the state.
At one point, health care activist AJ Marin was arrested for writing a message to Corbett in chalk on the sidewalk: “Governor Corbett has health insurance, we should too.” According to the citation, Marin was charged with disorderly conduct for writing a “derogatory remark about the governor on the sidewalk.”
To the best of my knowledge, it is not illegal to write in chalk on a sidewalk. Otherwise, we'd be booking kids who play hopscotch. I mean, I could be wrong about this, but thirteen years and a $13k fine for doing so? I think not. Clearly, this is, in both cases, about what was written in chalk, not the writing itself. That is, vandalism laws are being used to bust people for expressing what are apparently thought-crimes, criticizing massive banks and Republican governors.
Let there be no doubt that the judicial apparatus does not exist to do justice. Instead, it exists to do the will of powerful and privileged elites. The cops and courts only pretend to be on our side. But they're not. They never have been. And as the plutocrats who run everything squeeze more and more blood from the stone that is the United States, it will become ever more obvious.
This really is fucked up, but also not too terribly surprising.
Posted by Ron at 1:12 AM
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Supreme Court Reluctantly But Historically Elevates Same-Sex Marriage
The Court’s majority sent the message that same-sex marriages and individuals deserve equal treatment. In the first case, it threw out a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), saying it was unconstitutional on equal protection grounds for the law to say that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. But it did not declare a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
In a second and narrower decision, the Court held that a private group did not have legal standing to defend California’s Proposition 8, a same-sex marriage ban that was overturned by a lower court. Same-sex marriages can now resume in California, making it the 13th state to recognize these marriage. Supporters in the state say that they are likely to sponsor a new ballot measure, making same-sex marriage legal, to remove the prospect of further legal fights by gay marriage opponents.
While the rulings are an undeniable step forward for LGBT rights, the Court’s rulings were largely on procedural grounds, legal observors noted, which limits their scope.
“The Court’s promotion of same-sex marriage is like a shotgun wedding: done with reluctance, and without the loving embrace of someone fully committed to the sacred union,” wrote Adam Winkler, a UCLA Law School professor, who said the rulings “sound like procedure is more important than people” and were reminiscent of the decisions made by the Court before the heyday of the 1960s Civil Rights era.
Okay, so today it was good news. But man, what a week.
Anyway, fits and starts on this. Not a massive unleashing of civil rights, but then nobody, including myself really expected that, anyway. Actually, what I expected was that DOMA would be thrown out on state's rights grounds, which would have allowed California's anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 to stand. So I'm very pleased that we got both an end to the federal law, and an end to the California law. I mean, sure, these aren't ENORMOUS steps. But they are consequential, nonetheless, and the gay marriage snowball continues to pick up speed, ever so slowly.
And, historically speaking, this is still pretty fucking fast for an American civil rights movement. Like I said, good news.
Posted by Ron at 2:07 AM
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
REPUBLICANS TO AMERICA: FUCK YOU
From the Washington Post:
Supreme Court stops use of key part of Voting Rights Act
A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday invalidated a crucial component of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, ruling that Congress has not taken into account the nation’s racial progress when singling out certain states for federal oversight.
The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the other conservative members of the court in the majority.
The court did not strike down the law itself or the provision that calls for special scrutiny of states with a history of discrimination. But it said Congress must come up with a new formula based on current data to determine which states should be subject to the requirements.
And from the Houston Chronicle's Texas Politics Blog:
Democrats cry foul over abortion vote, changing record
Their outrage was heightened when the electronic record of the action changed the date of passage from Wednesday to Tuesday. Democrats had said the vote took place after midnight, when the session was due to end. But Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said the voting had started before midnight. The Senate still hasn’t adjourned.
“I guess when you’re determined to have a certain outcome, rules and procedures can just go by the wayside,” said Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, a San Antonio Democrat who came to the session after her father’s funeral.
Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, said he saw the Senate journal clerk starting the vote at 12:02 a.m.
“It’s handwritten and she has it down in her little notebook,” he said. “I’ve seen it.”
Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, distributed copies of the change, showing both dates. He called the vote “a sham.”
Some things I said on facebook about this shit:
This has been the worst day in American politics since the Supreme Court gave Bush the presidency back in 2000. While we're at it, why don't we just go back to when white male property owners were the only ones who could vote? That's what the Republicans really want, isn't it? Control the uterus and smack around black and brown people. That's what it's all about.It's been a shitty day. I don't have much else to say about it at the moment. I mean, other than "Fuck you, Republicans."
I'll describe it one sentence, Lynn: Republicans in Washington and Texas just took a shit in America's mouth.
(Regarding the SCOTUS ruling:) Congress can't even get routine legislation, like the farm bill, or the debt ceiling, passed. There's just no way they're going to fix this. An enormous win for the (white) Republican Party, and a massive loss for democracy.
Posted by Ron at 3:20 AM
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Or, at least, jobs suck, for most of us, as they are currently configured.
Courtesy of Eschaton, Balloon Juice quotes the New York Times:
But here’s the surprise: the main factor in workplace discontent is not wages, benefits or hours, but the boss… The survey said there was consistent anger at management types who failed to so much as ask employees about their opinion of the job….
Then she quotes a response to the Times article from a blog called Gin & Tacos:
Business schools have spent 30 years churning out people who believe in motivation by intimidation – work hard or else we will fire you, replace you, move to Mexico, and so on. And yes, an employer certainly has a right to expect employees to fulfill their obligations. This is where we see the large gap between fulfilling the requirements of a job – i.e., doing the bare minimum – and doing a good job. “Work hard and you will get promoted / get a raise” is the natural response, but in many of our workplaces I think we discover fairly quickly that the raises aren’t coming no matter how hard we work (or they come, but with a truckload of additional burdens that vastly outweigh them).
Click here for the rest.
This dynamic is TOTALLY in play for me with my job as a restaurant server. Indeed, when a manager is verbally abusive toward me, I generally slow down, pull back, and focus solely on my tables, and nothing else. My thinking is "why should I give a shit about anyone except the people who are actually paying me?" But then, this is within a context where management, as per the linked blog post, really does see their labor as totally replaceable. It doesn't matter how good I am. It doesn't matter that they get a college graduate, indeed, a worker with an advanced degree, for only $2.13 per hour. It doesn't matter that I could probably do their jobs better than they could. My opinion in the workplace is irrelevant to them.
And they could get so much more out of me, for free, if only they made an effort to make me feel like I'm an insider there! I mean, c'mon, after five years, day in and day out.
Of course, it's a bit more complicated than that. One of the three front-of-house managers with whom I deal I actually consider to be a good friend, and on the shifts when he's in charge, it's a totally different environment for me. I do, in fact, work harder, go the extra mile, take on tasks that I don't have to take on, just because this guy makes me feel like I'm a valued member of the team. The pay rate stays the same. But my psychology toward the work is wildly different.
It would be easy to dismiss this dynamic as being individual or personality driven, or perhaps even as a failure of management technique. And all that may very well be true. But it cannot be denied that a dehumanizing attitude toward workers is part and parcel of how capitalism functions in this country. We have the "labor market," where people are reduced to the status of capital asset. We have the "race to the bottom" in terms of wages, where workers are pitted in economic competition for jobs against Chinese slave labor and Bangladeshi boys who work for pennies an hour. I've been telling people for years, when the subject of "two weeks notice" comes up, that because we work in a "right to work" state, a sinister euphemism if ever I've heard one, which allows summary dismissal of any employee, at any time, for any reason, that workers don't owe "two weeks notice" to any employer at all. That is, if, as workers, we're supposed to be these little capitalistic entities instead of humans, we might as well play the part. Screw you, buttholes! I'm out the door!
But really, I'd much prefer to be true to my own values: go to work and be excellent on a regular basis. It's just that doing so makes me feel like such a stupid f'ng chump.
Posted by Ron at 1:24 AM
Monday, June 24, 2013
SELECT COMMENTS I'VE MADE ON FACEBOOK
ABOUT THE PAULA DEEN CONTROVERSY
You can probably figure out what the other commenters said from context:
Well, Deen's views are rooted in history revisionism, which glamorizes a particularly brutal and harsh institution, slavery, for the amusement of her white friends and followers. It's total Mammy and Sambo stuff, and there's no way to get around that. The real tragedy here is that I don't even think she understands why that pisses people off, or the problem it poses for the continuing issue of race relations in the US.
Oh, I agree. If you're of a particular age and white in the US, there's stuff programmed into your brain when you were a child, and you can't just erase it. You can, however, seek enlightenment, figure out the true racial dynamic. You know, acknowledge that the old South was a regime culturally, economically, and politically founded on the notion that the worst white man is better than the best black man, instead of getting all weepy-eyed Scarlett O'Hara about it. That's the problem with Deen. It's not that she's from an older generation. It's that she has allowed herself to hold onto notions about the world that simply aren't true, and that are damaging to the fabric of American society. Needless to say, Sambo parties are a manifestation of this.
The only way she can revive her career, now that her media persona is tied to Sambo parties, is to really get a handle on why her attitudes about the old South are so damaging. This requires letting go, no doubt, of some very cherished notions about her very sense of identity, which I could probably say about LOTS of white Southerners. But she needs to do this very publicly, and maybe even lead an education campaign about how black stereotypes have enabled racism for decades after the Civil Rights era. That's not going to happen, I'm sure. But, as a media brand, she's now the Sambo Woman. And that's a product that just won't sell well on national television.
Yeah, Steven, Deen's apology, for what it's worth, very strongly indicates that she has no idea why people are pissed off, only that she understands that people are pissed off, and that she'd better say some nice things or she's fucked.
That's why this is so interesting to me. Nostalgia for the old South, for Gone with the Wind South, is an incredibly strong cultural force among whites in the region. And that, in itself, is mondo bizarre. I mean, we're faced with the spectacle of all her supporters implicitly suggesting that Sambo parties are just fine, and because there can be no justification of such minstrelsy, emotion, bile, and gumption is all they've got. This whole controversy is exposing a particularly vile strain of American culture, which just also happens to be at the center of national politics in the form of Democrats versus Republicans on, well, everything.
That is, Deen's Sambo-waiters are cut from the same cloth as the Cadillac-driving welfare queens who are the "takers not makers" of GOP rhetoric these days. And so on.
That's a good question (about how to change attitudes). But before we can get an answer, I think we have to first admit the problem exists. For too long, people who know what's actually going on in this country have just shut up when white Southerners get their Confederacy on. I mean, I do it, too, for the most part, for the same reasons that exhausted you earlier today in your interactions with Deen supporters. We've got to start calling these Sambo-lovers out on their bullshit. No, the Civil War wasn't about "state's rights;" it was about slavery. No the Confederate flag isn't about "pride;" it's about celebrating a traitorous, racist regime. And so on.
It's not simply the n-word. Rather, it's the n-word in an overall context of neo-confederate attitudes - you know, hosting Sambo parties, and apologetics for slavery - as well as an apology indicating that she has no idea what all the hubbub is about. It's not a one-off as with Michael Richards: refusing to call her out on this is the same as refusing to condemn Jim Crow or the Confederacy, or everybody today who wears the battle flag as an extraordinarily misguided symbol of "pride." That is, her whole racist thing connects with a much bigger cultural virus we've been allowing to fester since 1865.
Well, I hear your point. But the deposition also comes courtesy of the media, and she's not causing controversy simply because of the deposition. For instance, the Huffington Post piece above is about an interview she did last year. But it includes video of her actually saying the things that are in the article. So that's something, too.
I mean, as the communist former Poet Laureate of the State of New Jersey, Amiri Baraka once said when pressed on his support of the Soviet Union, "Like you were there, man." That is, you have a good point: none of us know Paula Deen, and none of us can stare into her soul to see what she's about. All we have is her media persona that we can judge, some of which is carefully crafted by Deen herself, and some of which is crafted by reporters who offer accounts of what she and others have said about Deen the person. So none of us know the actual person.
But having said that, and it might be unfair for me to make this assumption, I simply figured that everybody gets that I'm only criticizing my understanding of her media persona, this entertainment product that looks and sounds just like the human being Paula Deen, but is, in fact, an important brand for the Food Network.
While nobody has died or been injured as a result of the controversy now surrounding this media product known as Paula Deen, the accusations raised against her are serious and consequential in that, as an apparent supporter of the historical revisionism that attempts to paint the brutal white supremacist regime known as the Confederacy in a much more sympathetic light, she lends institutional credibility, as well as the kind of credibility that goes with fame, to a point of view that really does damage American lives. That is, her Sambo style waiters are coming from the same evil place where we find the fictional Cadillac driving welfare queens which have been a major part of the political rhetoric over the years aimed at destroying important social programs for the poor. And this rhetoric has been very successful.
Now, I don't think she's doing this on purpose. I don't think she understands the ramifications of her statements and views. To her, it's all just like Gone with the Wind. But, of course, Gone with the Wind is a work of fiction - the old South was never like that at all - and it portrays the KKK as heroes who save white women from being raped by animalistic black men, when really it was black men who needed saving from the Klan and angry lynch mobs and vile segregationists.
So the overall point is that this isn't like one's slightly racist, but good-hearted, elderly aunt or grandmother. Deen, or, at least, her media persona, has what amounts to a megaphone. Her views, statements, and actions are all amplified by her status as media figure. So she has a lot more responsibility than just some older woman we might know. Clearly, she has failed this responsibility by, at the very least, not staying ahead of the changing narrative associated with her media persona. That is, she seems to be totally clueless that her apparent neo-confederate attitudes are socially damaging, offensive, and very unpopular outside the South. Hell, they're unpopular in the South if you're a white liberal or black.
But I do think this is far more complicated than simple gossip. There are some very serious issues involved here.$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Posted by Ron at 1:32 AM
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Paula Deen Defended Southern Attitude Towards Race In Fall 2012
From Huffington Post:
Though she ultimately says that the abolition of slavery was a "terrific change," she also takes some time to defend the practice. She says, back then, "black folk were such integral part of our lives, they were like our family," and, for that reason, "we didn't see ourselves as being prejudiced." (The first person plural here raises the question: did Paula Deen herself live in the Antebellum South? Is she a vampire?) It's also worth noting that she takes care not to refer to slaves as "slaves." She generally calls them "these people" or "workers."
And her defense of contemporary race relations is just as bizarre. She thinks the race relations in the South are "good... pretty good." OK. "It will take a long time for it to completely be gone. If it'll ever be gone." Fine. But here's where it starts to get weird. "We're all prejudiced against one thing or another," she continues. "I think black people feel the same prejudice that white people feel." Hmm...
What's really interesting to me is that this is no Michael Richards n-word incident. As best as I've ever been able to tell, Richards is intellectually anti-racist, but in a stupid and weak moment let loose with some social programming that was embedded in his brain's wiring when he was young. It was wrong, to be sure, and he seems to have been suitably horrified by his own behavior.
But Deen is different. Her racial language over the years seems to have been quite conscious, and part of an overall worldview which glamorizes the old South fictionally portrayed in Gone With the Wind and elsewhere. That is, she wants to host Sambo parties for the amusement of her white friends and followers because she has great nostalgia for Jim Crow and the antebellum South. You know, the cultural regime which had at its foundation the notion that the most despicable, pathetic, and rotten white man is always better than the most brilliant, selfless, and humane black man.
Clearly, she has no idea why these attitudes are as damaging to US society as it is to long for the era when a husband could not be criminally charged with raping his wife. For that matter, her supporters don't get it, either--a facbook fan page created specifically to show support in the wake of the racism allegations against her, has gotten nearly 200,000 "likes" in a twenty four hour period.
In short, this controversy points directly toward a particularly vile strain of American culture. Deen's Sambo-waiters are cut from the same cloth as the Cadillac-driving welfare queens who are the "takers not makers" which figure so prominently in GOP rhetoric these days. I'm sure she didn't mean to do it, but her unrepentant attitudes about the old South are effectively exposing the massive-but-ignored cultural rift in this country driving a great deal of our national politics. I guess we can be thankful for that, at least.
Posted by Ron at 11:39 PM
Friday, June 21, 2013
Russ Tice, Bush-Era Whistleblower, Claims NSA Ordered Wiretap Of Barack Obama In 2004
From the Huffington Post:
Speaking on "The Boiling Frogs Show," Tice claimed the intelligence community had ordered surveillance on a wide range of groups and individuals, including high-ranking military officials, lawmakers and diplomats.
"Here's the big one ... this was in summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator for Illinois," he said. "You wouldn't happen to know where that guy lives right now would you? It's a big white house in Washington, D.C. That's who they went after, and that's the president of the United States now."
The point is that, once you invest an agency with such power, it's going to use it, whether it's legal or not. The NSA is currently insisting to representatives in the House that they don't actually listen to phone calls, but FBI Director Mueller flatly rejects that, claiming that his agency has already gotten access to recorded conversations handed over by the NSA. And, for that matter, NSA Director Alexander isn't even doing that good of a job lying about it. It was pretty bad when the Patriot Act ostensibly authorized all this Orwellian shit, but that was years ago, and the surveillance state has had plenty of time to stretch out and do its thing.
That is, it all appears to be institutionally entrenched now, and both growing and deepening its roots as each day goes by. There's just not enough outrage, not in Washington, not on Main Street, to shut this all down. It's only going to get worse. Will there come a time when I have to think twice about what I say on the internet? If so, by then it will be too late to do anything about it.
Posted by Ron at 3:05 AM
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Gov. Bobby Jindal explains what 'the left wants'
Daily Kos excerpts an op-ed piece written by my governor:
"Because the left wants: The government to explode; to pay everyone; to hire everyone; they believe that money grows on trees; the earth is flat; the industrial age, factory-style government is a cool new thing; debts don’t have to be repaid; people of faith are ignorant and uneducated; unborn babies don’t matter; pornography is fine; traditional marriage is discriminatory; 32 oz. sodas are evil; red meat should be rationed; rich people are evil unless they are from Hollywood or are liberal Democrats; the Israelis are unreasonable; trans-fat must be stopped; kids trapped in failing schools should be patient; wild weather is a new thing; moral standards are passé; government run health care is high quality; the IRS should violate our constitutional rights; reporters should be spied on; Benghazi was handled well; the Second Amendment is outdated; and the First one has some problems too."
And, of course, the writers at Daily Kos then go on to excoriate Jindal's bullshit. But I figured I ought to try my hand at this, myself.
1. No, the left does not want the government to explode. This is, in fact, what conservatives ACTUALLY TRY TO DO, themselves, when they obstruct important business in Congress, like, you know, paying our debts.
2. No, the left does not want government to pay everyone. Nor does the left want the government to hire everyone. The left does, however, want everyone who wants a job to have one, and if the private sector is unwilling to provide those jobs, the public sector needs to pick up the slack. The left also understands that a just society ought not allow people to starve in the streets, which means that assistance to the victims of capitalism must be provided.
3. No, the left does not believe that money grows on trees.
4. No, the left does not believe that the Earth is flat.
5. No, the left does not think that "the industrial age, factory-style government is a cool new thing." I feel pretty sure about this because I'm a leftist, and I have no idea what the hell Jindal's talking about here.
6. The left does, in fact, believe that debts ought to be repaid.
7. No, the left does not believe that people of faith are ignorant and uneducated. Perhaps Jindal is confusing the left with atheists who are also assholes. Also, it is undeniable that some people of faith are ignorant and uneducated, just as some of the faithless are ignorant and uneducated. But all of them? Certainly not. Indeed, some of the most effective and accomplished leftists in history have been people of faith: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Daniel Berrigan, Oscar Romero, Jesus, and on and on.
8. Is an "unborn baby" supposed to be a fetus? Again, I'm pretty sure that this is a concept that the left thinks is VERY important. But really, it's the born babies that take priority with the left because, you know, they're living human beings who need devotion, nurturing, and care. If only conservatives cared about the born babies, too.
9. The left thinks only some pornography is fine. But the left also has big problems with porn that blatantly exploits and oppresses women. Indeed, free speech leftists have debated feminist leftists on the down low about this for years. And even the free speech leftists don't advocate porn per se, but rather advocate for first amendment freedom. Of course, as a leftist, I must admit that the porn I personally like is just fine. But not the porn I don't like.
10. The left does not think traditional marriage is discriminatory. Rather, the left thinks denying gays and lesbians the right to marry their own gender is discriminatory, which it is.
11. No, the left does not think 32 oz. sodas are evil. Rather, they think they're fattening. And really it's only Bloomberg, a conservative businessman, who's actually trying to do anything about it. I drink Coke all day long, myself, but I weigh twenty pounds less than I did in high school. Go figure.
12. No, the left does not think red meat should be rationed. What the hell is Jindal talking about here? Oh yeah, it's worth observing that I eat hamburgers, too.
13. No, the left does not think rich people are evil unless they're Hollywood liberals or rich Democrats. Actually, this is kind of nuanced. Some rich people are definitely not evil, but certainly benefit HEAVILY from an evil economic system. Other rich people are quite evil, though, and this includes rich Democrats. Also, Hollywood liberals aren't liberal. Neither are rich Democrats. It's just a role they play on television.
14. The left thinks that Israel, like all nation states, is both unreasonable and reasonable, depending on the issue.
15. No, the left does not think trans-fat should be stopped, although that's probably a good idea. I think Jindal is confusing the left with doctors on this issue.
16. No, the left does not believe that kids trapped in failing schools should be patient. Again, I have no idea what the hell Jindal is talking about here.
17. No, the left does not think that wild weather is a new thing. But the left does accept the very strong scientific consensus that global warming is man made and that it causes a lot of the wild weather we've been seeing in recent years, and that if we don't do something right now to reverse course there will be hell to pay for our children.
18. No, the left does not believe that "moral standards are passé." Indeed, morality is why we're leftists. It's just that the left prefers a moral code that uplifts humanity, instead of a moral code that justifies screwing humanity over for personal gain.
19. No, the left does not believe that "government run health care is high quality." The left, instead, believes that sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. The bottom line is that having health care is amazingly better for Americans than not having health care. The trick is to make sure that government provided health care, if we're ever fortunate enough to actually get it, is good stuff. You know, like in Canada. Or Cuba.
20. No, the left does not think that "the IRS should violate our constitutional rights." Okay, this is just getting progressively weirder. The left pretty much always believes that no government agency at all should violate our constitutional rights. And, again, what the hell is Jindal talking about? I thought violating constitutional rights is a right-wing thing. Could it possibly be that I'm the one who's confused and deluded? Naaaahhhhh!
21. I'm also pretty sure that the left doesn't believe that reporters should be spied on. This, too, is pretty damned weird: if the news media are liberal, which they aren't, but just bear with me on this, then why would liberals want the government to oppress the "liberal media"? Is it too soon to start making Orwellian references to Jindal's doublethink?
22. No, the left does not think Benghazi was handled well. It's just that the left tends to understand the difference between a big screw up and a scandal.
23. Okay, I'll grant this one and only this one: the left does, in fact, think that the second amendment is outdated. Because it is. Shay's Rebellion was a couple of centuries ago, after all.
24. Finally, the left, in fact, LOVES the first amendment. You know, freedom of the press for all that "liberal media" out there, freedom of assembly for Occupy Wall Street and anti-war demonstrations, the establishment clause for preventing religious indoctrination in the schools, and freedom of speech so we can tell such important truths such as Bobby Jindal is either a total f-tard or a pathological liar, or both, but if he's the great white hope for the GOP, then the left can rest easy.
You know, if conservatives actually think that this is what the left is all about, it explains a lot of the success I've had in my facebook discussions with conservative friends: they've never heard or considered most of the ideas that I bring up. Could it possibly be that all we have, when we get right down to it, is nothing but a communication problem? If that's the case, we're much closer to solving our nation's problems than seems apparent.
Posted by Ron at 2:18 AM
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
How The American University was Killed, in Five Easy Steps
From the Homeless Adjunct courtesy of Eschaton:
Under the guise of many “conflicts”, such as budget struggles, or quotas, de-funding was consistently the result. This funding argument also was used to re-shape the kind of course offerings and curriculum focus found on campuses. Victoria writes, “Attacks on humanities curriculums, political correctness, and affirmative action shifted the conversation on public universities to the right, creating a climate of skepticism around state funded schools. State budget debates became platforms for conservatives to argue why certain disciplines such as sociology, history, anthropology, minority studies, language, and gender studies should be de-funded…” on one hand, through the argument that they were not offering students the “practical” skills needed for the job market — which was a powerful way to increase emphasis on what now is seen as vocational focus rather than actual higher education, and to de-value those very courses that trained and expanded the mind, developed a more complete human being, a more actively intelligent person and involved citizen. Another argument used to attack the humanities was “…their so-called promotion of anti-establishment sentiment. Gradually, these arguments translated into real- and often deep- cuts into the budgets of state university systems,” especially in those most undesirable areas that the establishment found to run counter to their ability to control the population’s thoughts and behavior. The idea of “manufactured consent” should be talked about here – because if you remove the classes and the disciplines that are the strongest in their ability to develop higher level intellectual rigor, the result is a more easily manipulated citizenry, less capable of deep interrogation and investigation of the establishment “message”.
Probably the biggest impediment to explaining the decline of American civilization is that doing so involves discussing gigantic institutions and systems which are accompanied by assumptions, both true and false, that most of us take for granted. That is, most of these conversations about "what's wrong with America" are embedded with ideas that nobody really questions. So, for instance, we talk about how the government is "going broke," which necessitates "spending cuts" to important social programs, but observing that the vast amount of resources and wealth which continue to be under the nation's control might be harnessed to address this "fiscal crisis" is such an out-of-bounds idea that people just look at you funny when you make the assertion, and then go on with the discussion as though you had said nothing. Going off script to address the things that people don't usually address is an invitation to obscurity, whether you're right or wrong. Emperor's new clothes, and all.
This is exactly what's happening with what serves for public discourse on the state of university education in the US these days. When you say something, as the linked essay does, like this, "Within one generation, in five easy steps, not only have the scholars and intellectuals of the country been silenced and nearly wiped out, but the entire institution has been hijacked, and recreated as a machine through which future generations will ALL be impoverished, indebted and silenced," you will very likely be perceived, and immediately dismissed, as a tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy nut. There are just too many unquestioned assumptions that need to be addressed in order to take such an assertion seriously, and most people simply won't do the intellectual work of revisiting those things they think they already know.
All of this is, of course, extremely ironic because revisiting assumptions and questioning beliefs are some of the intellectual values absorbed and embraced by university educated Americans a generation ago. Not so much today. Which kind of proves the point.
Posted by Ron at 12:28 AM
Monday, June 17, 2013
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Study Finds Marriage Equality Doesn’t Affect Opposite-Sex Marriage Rates
From Think Progress:
The idea of marriage equality as an “attack on traditional marriage” is a favored talking point of opponents. In April, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said legalizing same-sex marriage would discourage marriage among heterosexual couples because the traditional understanding of marriage as a means of reproduction would erode. The Family Research Council has argued that “traditional” marriage keeps men from cheating on their wives once the women are no longer fertile. Two anti-marriage equality advocates from the Heritage Foundation said it would lead to the erosion of marital norms, even though opposite-sex couples already cheat, divorce, and decline to have children (or are unable to), even in states that still restrict marriage.
While there is no harm to opposite-sex couples, studies have shown that ballot initiatives banning same-sex marriage are actually psychologically harmful to the gay community.
Yeah. This was always pretty stupid, a testament to how irrational and emotion-driven the whole "debate" about gay marriage has been since the idea became commonplace enough to freak out people who don't like it. That is, it never really was a debate. It was just a whole bunch of goofy whining and squirrel arguments.
Gay marriage has NEVER been an "attack" on or a "threat" to straight marriage. And this is pretty easy to illustrate. How, exactly, is heterosexual marriage harmed by allowing gays and lesbians to get married? Anti-equality advocates have always been pretty vague on this one, scrambling to make the institution all about child rearing, or general fidelity within society overall, even though hetero counter-examples to these notions are so common as to render such "concerns" meaningless. It's always been desperate clutching at straws, and nothing else.
And it's no exaggeration to say "desperate." It changes the definition of marriage! Yeah, sure, ever so slightly, but so what? How does that affect you? Remember Rick Santorum's assertion that gay marriage would lead to "man on dog"? That's so incredibly laughable that it cheapens my intellect to even formulate a response. Anti-equality advocates have made total fools of themselves over the years trying to explain why gay marriage is something we don't want. What's amazing is that anybody at all has ever taken their demented pleading seriously.
Indeed, the study from the linked article now shows what all honest observers already knew to be true: in states where gay marriage has been legalized, straight marriage continues just as it always has. What on earth was everybody so paranoid about?
Posted by Ron at 12:08 AM
Friday, June 14, 2013
U.S., citing use of chemical weapons by Syria, to provide direct military support to rebels
From the Washington Post:
The United States has concluded that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in its fight against opposition forces, and President Obama has authorized direct U.S. military support to the rebels, the White House said Thursday.
“The president has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser. Rhodes said U.S. intelligence had determined with “high certainty” that Syrian government forces have “used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year.”
Well, I suppose that "chemical weapons" serves as a useful version of the sinking of the Maine, or the sinking of the Lusitania, or the Gulf of Tonkin incident, or Saddam's WMD, whatever. This is a really bad idea. The rebels seem to be just as brutal and bloodthirsty as Assad's regime, right down to using chemical weapons, too. Yes, lots of innocent people are being killed, but there is no good solution here, no way to force a situation such that people are not being killed. Involving ourselves in a civil war where both sides hate us is the height of stupidity. It will come back to haunt us. Definitely. We have absolutely nothing to gain from intervention, and a whole hell of a lot to lose.
Why the hell do our elites love going to war so much? They're sick, stupid people. And they run our nation.
Posted by Ron at 2:28 AM
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Posted by Ron at 2:38 AM
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The question libertarians just can’t answer
Why are there no libertarian countries? If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century is organized along libertarian lines?
It’s not as though there were a shortage of countries to experiment with libertarianism. There are 193 sovereign state members of the United Nations—195, if you count the Vatican and Palestine, which have been granted observer status by the world organization. If libertarianism was a good idea, wouldn’t at least one country have tried it? Wouldn’t there be at least one country, out of nearly two hundred, with minimal government, free trade, open borders, decriminalized drugs, no welfare state and no public education system?
Of course, the easy answer to this question is that there are no libertarian countries because libertarianism only works in one's imagination, and then only if one ignores a lot about how business functions. That is, libertarianism's fatal flaw has been ever thus: removing government from the economic equation must necessarily result in big business not only running the country, but also running roughshod over it. Indeed, removing government from the economic equation actually hurts the economy, a lot, because without an outside force controlling economic interactions, the strongest economic agents will assert such control themselves, which means one for you, nineteen for me. And slavery, why not?
The reality is that the rise of "Big Government" perfectly coincides with the rise of big business. "Big Government," in the end, exists because it has to exist. There is no way the modern economy, the modern nation state, could exist without "Big Government." We throw it away at profound risk. Actually, no nation will EVER embrace American style libertarianism. It's suicide. Even we won't embrace it. And everybody knows it. I mean, big business essentially runs the country, anyway, but continues to do it through the government, which it knows it needs in order to keep the whole house from caving in on itself.
So libertarianism is pure fantasy. A joke philosophy for know-it-all Peter Pan men to get a sense of superiority over you. It is not a serious point of view. That it has become such an important part of our public discourse is testament to the over-the-top insanity which has engulfed our nation.
Posted by Ron at 1:31 AM
Saturday, June 08, 2013
TAKING SATURDAY THROUGH MONDAY OFF!
Because my wonderful girlfriend is in town those nights, and I don't want to waste time here. See y'all Tuesday night.
Posted by Ron at 4:36 PM
Friday, June 07, 2013
Gulf oil wells have been leaking since 2004 hurricane
From Grist courtesy of a facebook friend:
Oil has been gushing from a group of wells south of New Orleans since a platform at the site was wiped out by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and it appears that nothing is being done to staunch or control the leaking.
Efforts to cap the ruptures appear to have been abandoned in 2011. Instead of working to clean up or stop the spill, driller Taylor Energy Company is now providing the government with daily updates about the resultant slick.
Even those updates appear to be half-baked. A long ribbon of oil can clearly be seen spilling out from the site, but Taylor Energy claims its much smaller than does NOAA.
Sigh. It's business as usual. Oil companies pollute and nobody gives a shit. Indeed, oil companies lie about the amount and impact of that pollution, and are then called on those lies by a federal agency, and nobody gives a shit. It's like BP all over again, but for years and years, instead of a few months. I'd say that at least the feds did something about the BP spill, which they did, and that's better than nothing, I guess, but, in the end, what the feds did was to simply enable what was a massive PR damage control scheme for both BP and the overall oil industry--most of that oil is still out there in the Gulf, broken up by toxic chemicals "just like the chemicals in your dish soap at home," doing god knows what to the environment. I wonder if BP oil has been merging Taylor oil.
This, like global warming, is the kind of thing I don't think about. It's too depressing. Nobody in power cares. Nothing's going to happen to make it better. It's all spin and damage control. I should just get drunk.
Posted by Ron at 1:53 AM
Thursday, June 06, 2013
The 4 Plagues: Getting a Handle on the Coming Apocalypse
Every day, thousands, probably millions of people ask their family, friends, neighbors and colleagues similar and increasingly familiar questions: What has happened to our country? How did we get here? Isn’t it scary? Can anything be done about it?
There is an abundance of evidence that there are forces tearing apart the U.S. economy and society, causing increasing levels of fear, anxiety and trauma for large numbers of people. Many people are mystified as to the specific causes of their fears, with a mass media system that constantly broadcasts propaganda about how great America is and a new digital media system that may be exacerbating the problems for a society under immense and unprecedented duress.
There is the added problem that the theories and the means of social change we are familiar with, and to which we still turn, are not remotely up to the task we face, and have mostly proven to be inadequate. Virtually every problem we face has gotten worse over the past 40 years, and heavily sped up since 9/11 and the economic crash of 2007.
In an environment of confusion and despair, it can be helpful to name the beast—essentially to understand the forces at play, how they operate, and why they feel both intractable and overwhelming. So, what follows is a kind of Users' Guide To What Is Freaking Us Out.”
It may very well be that the biggest problem facing us right now is that it is extraordinarily difficult to get a handle on the seeming INFINITUDE of problems facing us right now.
Politicians and the news media do a lousy job of connecting the dots, of creating an accurate narrative, or even a narrative at all. The old narrative, American dream, work hard and succeed, freedom, whatever, is obviously no longer operative, but that's only the case when you can step back and take a look at the big picture. Most people, however, either can't or won't see the big picture, which leaves them desperately clinging to the old mythology, wondering what they did wrong to keep them from living it out. When you try to explain to them the entirety of what we're facing as a nation, you begin to realize that the story just goes on and on and on. And who wants to hear a long and very depressing story?
I, for one, have given up on trying to explain everything. I've settled for simply trying to expose the cracks in the American Dream story, trying to make plain the absurdities embedded within it, and hoping against hope that I can get some people thinking about things in ways they haven't before. I can't change the whole country, but I can conceivably affect the people around me. Maybe, just maybe, lots of other people are doing the same thing, too. Maybe one day I'll look around and notice that everybody is doing the same thing. Then we'll be ready for some real change.
At any rate, if you do want to try to get a handle on what's going on, the article linked above is about as concise as you can get. Go check it out.
Posted by Ron at 3:04 AM
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
IF YOU THINK JESUS WASN'T POLITICAL, THEN YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BIBLE
I recycled my post about Republican Christians a couple of days ago on facebook and it spawned a very nice little discussion. Here's a bit of an exchange with an old school chum who is now a chaplain in the US Army:
Bill Bottom line, Jesus did NOT drag politics into His life and ministry. Try and keep that in mind during this discussion. Many of you can't stand it when politicians intertwine their political views and religion so I encourage you all to do the same. To call Jesus "progressive" is quite comical. He is God, plain and simple. He came to ultimately fulfill the Law...He did (without sin), and glorified Himself in the process. All authority is His, no one else's. Whether we like it or not, sometimes it's is quite okay and Christian to say "no" to someone or stand for the truth or what is right. Jesus did NOT heal everyone. He did NOT feed everyone. He did not eliminate all sickness. He came to provide eternal life, and not through a political platform. If He wanted to get all political, He would have hung out with the political leaders, the religious leaders, etc. He didn't...He showed His power through the weakest and most insignificant people...what an amazing God...the only true God...Jesus!!!My response:
Ron Ah, finally, something on which we must disagree!Actually, in reference to how I've titled this, Bill has definitely read the Bible. It's just that I think he's refusing to recognize as political stuff in the Bible that is not expressed in a way that many Americans would recognize today as being political, even though it is. That is, lots of the country doesn't recognize the concept of politics unless it expressly includes politicians, candidates, and political offices, you know, Sunday morning talk show stuff. So maybe it's that Bill doesn't understand politics, at least, in terms of political ideas that contemporary politicians don't talk about. Or something to that effect.
Jesus was EXTRAORDINARILY political. I mean, certainly not in the way that most Americans understand it. He didn't talk about "political issues" or support particular leaders. Indeed, he was downright what we would today call non-partisan--he didn't favor the Romans over the Jewish hierarchy and vice versa. But he was nonetheless downright politically subversive. Especially in a cultural context, Hellenistic Judea, where there was virtually no line between religion and politics. Consequently, to talk about religion, and especially to part radically from the conventional wisdom, was NECESSARILY political. And Jesus did, indeed, talk about religion, all the time, always.
You're telling me that "render unto Caesar" isn't political? That to portray a despised Samaritan as having superior morals and ethics isn't political? That to tell a rich man that the only way he could go to Heaven is to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor, and to follow Him isn't political? That saving the adulteress isn't political? I mean, all these ideas, anti-racism, the corrupting influence of wealth, tearing down patriarchal attitudes that are destructive to women, are DEFINITELY considered political in today's context. How could they not be political in the New Testament context?
Further, even though Jesus did not heal everyone, he did heal. He healed a lot, in fact, so much so that he was known as a healer. Followers of Jesus today who do not heal, or, at least, do what they can to see that people are healed, are NOT being Christlike. No, Jesus did not feed everyone, but he did feed people, and it's the same thing with this: His followers MUST see that people are fed, or they are choosing a path that is different from the example set by their Lord.
Jesus was, in fact, one of the most political figures in the history of humanity. He was a radical. He moved masses to value and prioritize ideas and actions that were not only ignored by the ruling establishment, but that also stood in the way of how the establishment wanted society run. This was why they killed him. He was a very real, and very earthly, threat to the ruling elite. I think that many Christians today have become so focused on the salvation concept that they forget what a profound difference Jesus made during his time as a man.
And that saddens me.
Posted by Ron at 1:51 AM
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
SOUTHERN BAPTISTS TO BOY SCOUTS: FUCK YOU
From CNN courtesy of a facebook friend:
The denomination will vote on nonbinding but influential resolutions during a convention June 11-12 in Houston.
“There’s a 100% chance that there will be a resolution about disaffiliation at the convention,” said Richard Land, the longtime head of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, “and a 100% chance that 99% of people will vote for it.”
“Southern Baptists are going to be leaving the Boy Scouts en masse,” Land continued.
The National Jewish Committee on Scouting, the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sponsors more Scout units than any other faith, all endorsed the change.
The National Catholic Committee on Scouting, which is run with oversight from a bishop, said Thursday that allowing gay youths in the Scouts does not conflict with church teaching. Each bishop will decide whether or not to allow churches in his diocese to charter Scout units, the committee added.
While not at all surprising, it is quite disappointing that my former denomination has chosen to further marginalize itself from mainstream American values. Quitting the Southern Baptists is one of the best moves I've ever made. They're already crazy, and they're on a one way road to open conflict with civilization, and they're cheering each other on while they do it. I mean, c'mon. Even the Mormons, the freaking Mormons, are cool with this. It's not as though you have to endorse homosexuality in order to continue supporting scouting. After all, this isn't really, and it never has been, about whether gay kids are in the BSA. As with the military, gay kids have always been in scouting. This is about whether those kids have to keep their personal natures secret. But the Southern Baptists don't give a shit. As somebody who grew up within their indoctrination system, I can safely and accurately say that much of what drives them is anger and resentment toward people who don't share their beliefs. This needless fuck-you to the Boy Scouts stands as a prime example.
Posted by Ron at 12:12 AM
Monday, June 03, 2013
It’s Time to Tell the Truth: Republicans Aren’t Christians
From Forward Progressive, courtesy of a facebook friend:
As I’ve said before, whether you believe in Jesus Christ or not is not the issue, what he symbolized and his story aren’t really debatable. He spent his life helping the poor, sick and needy. He never once spoke about homosexuality or abortion. He embraced those from the lowest runs from society by saying that those that much had been given much is expected. He taught love, hope, compassion and forgiveness. He warned against those who would manipulate the word of God for their own selfish ambitions. He opposed greed and encouraged giving.
You know, the exact oppose of what Republicans stand for.
But that doesn’t matter to these people because they oppose abortion and homosexuality—again, two things Jesus never spoke of.
Like I keep saying, one may interpret or understand the Bible however one damned well pleases, so I don't have much of a problem, really, with Old Testament obsessed fundamentalist weirdos ignoring virtually everything Jesus said and did while still calling themselves "Christians." If you want to heavily emphasize the genocidal, barbaric, adolescent aspect of old school God, while transmuting "love your enemies" into "bomb your enemies back to the stone age," go right ahead. The Bible is a big book with lots of stuff in it; you definitely have Scriptural support for condemning homosexuals and people who get tattoos.
Having said that, however, I have to admit that, even though I haven't affiliated with a church in nearly twenty years, I continue to be a pretty big fan of Jesus. I mean, you know, not everything. But I continue to look to the Gospels as a source of inspiration and morality. And, yeah, a great deal of what Republicans push directly contradicts the example and words of Jesus, if you're reading the Bible honestly. This is no overstatement. Republicans are not simply void of compassion toward the poor: rather, Republicans seemingly have CONTEMPT for the poor, anger, resentment, hatred even, finding ways to blame those in poverty for their own plight, even as they manufacture the circumstances which keep those people poor. And don't even get me started on love. I see no love coming from the GOP. None. It's all about what they hate, liberals, foreigners, immigrants, intellectuals, other religions. Of course, they do love guns, and war, and pissing off liberals, but I don't think of that kind of love as having anything to do with Jesus.
So, while Republicans have a perfect right to self-identify with whatever religion they want, it does disturb me, quite a bit, in fact, to hear them speaking so piously about their Lord while at the same time behaving like the people who crucified Him. Show me some love, some real love, not that "tough love" bullshit, and I might change my mind. But until that happens, when you put the word "Republican" together with the word "Christian," the only meaning that can result for me is "lying hypocrite."
Prove me wrong.
Posted by Ron at 1:55 AM
Saturday, June 01, 2013
Fox News Commentator: Breadwinning Women Are “Hurting our Children"
Conservative commentator Erick Erickson earned himself a lot of detractors Wednesday night when, responding to the news that a record number of families rely on women’s income, he argued on Fox News that it was “natural” for men to take the “dominant role” and that women being the primary breadwinner for families is “hurting our children, and it’s going to have impact for generations to come.”
But Erickson stood by his comments on Thursday, first tweeting, “Husbands and wives should play complimentary roles w/ dad as breadwinner,” and then penning a longer piece on the site he edits, Red State, making the case for why women shouldn’t be the primary earner in a household. In it, he said that single mothers currently are able to handle parenting on their own solely because society “will subsidize their doing it all”
Of course, I don't follow Fox News, so I don't really know this Erickson guy, but I'd bet a week's tips that he also champions Reaganomics, or neoliberalism, or supply side economics, whatever name it goes by these days, you know, conservative stuff, cut taxes for the rich, cut social services, cut regulations, let the rich and corporations go crazy, that kind of thing. And it would be no surprise if I won such a bet: tons of economic conservatives are also social conservatives who love to trash single mothers and, more generally, women who try to do anything outside of narrowly prescribed conservative notions of what women ought to be. So single mothers are awful because children need fathers; women working outside the home are awful because their place is in the kitchen, or something.
The great irony here, which, of course, will never be appreciated by the people who need to appreciate it because conservatives don't do irony, is that economic conservatism is exactly the reason our culture has seen such a massive rise in single mothers and two income families.
That is, when you live in poverty, and your baby's father has no job, can't have a job because none are available, he then becomes an economic liability. Being a single mother, under such circumstances, is exactly what a mother ought to do, for the economic welfare of her child. Likewise, if you're in the middle class, maintaining that position absolutely requires, for most Americans these days, two incomes. That is, having a stay-at-home parent is virtually impossible for most American families that aren't wealthy--a few try, and fewer succeed, but most just can't pull it off. It's been this way since conservative economics became the Washington consensus starting in the 1970s.
It just seems to me that somebody pushing the traditional family as a philosophical concept ought to also push a view of economics that makes it possible, instead of wagging a shaming finger, as if people actually had a choice in the matter.
Posted by Ron at 11:48 PM