Monday, March 31, 2014

Conservatives Don't Want to Admit That Economic Inequality Is Ruining Marriage

From AlterNet:

Everywhere else, though, marriageable women outnumber the men. As Douthat concedes, chronic unemployment and mass incarceration have made a high percentage of men unmarriageable. The economy further skews the way men and women match up, with more men than women among the winners at the top of the economic ladder and more men among those who have lost ground leaving more women in the middle. As a practical matter, this means that women outnumber men in the relationship markets everywhere outside the relatively elite. Sociologists find that when this happens, men become more likely to play the field, women give up on the men and relationship quality inside and outside of marriage suffers.

More here.

Conservatives, your precious winner-take-all capitalism is ruining your precious institution of marriage. You can't have it both ways. If you're serious about more people getting married, you have to abandon your love of exploitative mass commerce. If you're serious about exploitative mass commerce, you have to quit bitching about all the single parent families out there. The two ideas are mutually exclusive. You can't have both at the same time.

So figure it out. I'm tired of hearing all the wishy-washy whining about all this.



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Sunday, March 30, 2014

How the Self-Help Industry Hustles America

From AlterNet:

We’re a nation founded on the Protestant work ethic. Our forefathers came to America with the idea that diligent efforts and thrift demonstrated both godliness and virtue — and would result in worldly success.

The self-help industry is the modern secular version of our grounding myth. It’s a $10 billion annual business that sells its services by claiming there is almost no problem — from weight loss to financial struggles — that can’t be overcome with grit, determination and willpower. 

So if you fail in your goal or fall behind: It’s your own fault. 

Self-help now has international appeal. But it still holds greatest sway in the United States where, as Thomas Frank recently noted in Salon, positive thinking is “the great American tradition.”  Post 2008,   Time magazine dubbed CNBC personal finance guru Suze Orman the “Queen of the Crisis” and radio show moneyman Dave Ramsey achieved new heights of popularity by telling Americans they are “stupid” when it comes to handling their money.''

More here.

Probably the biggest capitalist propaganda victory over the decades has been to convince most Americans that it's every man for himself. If you succeed in business, it has nothing to do with the government providing infrastructure, a market, or police, courts, etc., nothing to do with the workers you hire who actually do the work, and on and on. It's all about you. You're the one, the only one. Damn straight "you built that!"

And if you fail, of course, it's all your fault. Bankers ruining the economy, fabulously wealthy campaign donors conscripting politicians from both parties who rig the economy against you, chronic systemic opportunity-destroying poverty into which you might have been born, none of that matters. All your fault. You just didn't work hard enough, didn't go to school, acted like an idiot, yadda yadda. You lazy bums get what you deserve.

You paragons of virtue, however, are rewarded by God with great riches.

Yes, rewarded by GOD: this false point of view is virtually religious in the amount of faith required to believe it. And if this bootstraps "philosophy" is a virtual religion, then its high priests are the wretched motivational speakers. These hucksters, who are worse than drug dealers in that drug dealers actually sell a real-life product, provide circular reasoning, wrapped in a veneer of folksy "wisdom," supported with excitement and good vibes, but not evidence, aimed at convincing hotel conference rooms full of people that they can all be Bill Gates. And then, when the seminar has ended, the audience/cattle pay up for huckster books, huckster CDs, and huckster DVDs. Total suckers, handing over both their money and their minds to con men scum bags.

If Hell exists, I'm certain there is a particularly awful place there for the entire "self-help" industry.


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Saturday, March 29, 2014

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.





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Friday, March 28, 2014

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Winkie





















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

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

REALLY DUMB POLITICAL ARGUMENTS

From the Raw Story:

Koch Bros. group leader: Extending Obamacare deadline takes health care from my children

MSNBC host Chris Hayes clashed with a state official for the Koch Brothers-funded group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) on Wednesday after she claimed that extending the deadline to sign up for the Affordable Care Act by two weeks would have a negative impact on her childrens’ health care.

“It continues to not allow people to go back and change this law,” AFP Pennsylvania State Director Jennifer Stefano told Hayes. “This law has made seven million people lose their insurance.”

As Reuters reported earlier in the day, the deadline to sign up for Obamacare, as the law is commonly known, was extended until April 15 for people who have already begun the subscription process through the healthcare.gov website. As of March 17, more than 5 million people had signed up for coverage.

More here, with video.

I should count myself among the very lucky.  The vast majority of political debates I get into with conservatives on facebook do NOT play out like this one.  Indeed, what's particularly great about my conservative commenters is that they make a clear effort to listen to and consider what I'm saying.  I mean, sure, they rarely agree with me, but because I make a similar effort to hear what they're saying I usually walk away from such discussions feeling like everybody's had a genuine exchange of ideas, and that we're all better off for it.

So I'm lucky.  I don't personally have to put up with much of this crap.  But it's really sad for our republic that so much public discourse has devolved to this level of reality television shout-fests.  I mean, of course, it works both ways; I'm not simply calling out conservatives here.  I've experienced angry liberals treating right-wingers, and sometimes me when I diverge from the popular liberal consensus, in the exact same manner--although, to be fair, and speaking of television, I have to say that you see a lot more of this on Fox, the total incoherency of argument, the shout-downs, the bullying, than you do with MSNBC, but in the real world it's Americans from all points on the political spectrum.

And that's disturbing.  

This fairly recent phenomenon, rhetorical bullying disguised as discussion, has served well to crowd out a lot of actual discussion.  Which means that whatever "marketplace of ideas" this country once had, without which there can be no democracy, may very well have become so diminished as to no longer be effective.  We really must figure out how to start talking to one another again.  The nation's fate really does hang in the balance.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

After the Midterms: Impeachment?

From the American Prospect:

On the right, impeachment has become the wildfire crucible, and the purest purity test yet for those sanctified few who have managed to pass the others; that Obama hasn’t actually done anything to warrant impeachment, or at least anything as egregious as misleading a public into war, couldn’t be more beside the point. He’s Obama; his very existence calls for nullification; the historic fact of his presidency is a transgression against the national image of those Americans who more and more come to the conclusion that things started going very wrong in this country sometime around 1861.

More here

If it's for drone assassinations, illegal surveillance of US citizens, and/or refusal to charge Bush and Cheney with crimes against humanity, I would TOTALLY support impeaching Obama--of course, I would also want this coupled with, you know, charging Bush and Cheney with crimes against humanity.  But, needless to say, there's no way in hell they would impeach Obama for any of that; after all, the entire establishment is just fine with assassinations, across-the-board violations of civil rights, and pretending we don't have blood stains all over our collective hands.  Instead, it would be Benghazi, or the IRS "scandal," or immigration, or "not being Constitutional," or being "born in Kenya" rather than in the USA, whatever pisses off the Tea Party base the most.  Of course, it would all be doomed to failure because there's no way Republicans will get enough votes in the Senate to convict.

So it would just be yet another nationally embarrassing circus-of-distraction perpetrated by Republicans for reasons only they fully comprehend.  As if the pointless Clinton impeachment didn't make us look bad enough, at least there was a blowjob for everybody to freak out on: impeaching Obama, with the media and Washington taking it all seriously, would make us appear to the world as total drooling inbred rednecks.  Rednecks with more guns than the rest of the world put together.  Actually, that's kind of what we are, anyway.  

I suppose impeaching Obama wouldn't make much of a difference one way or the other.  Go for it, morons.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

5 Awful Things Nobody Tells You About Being an Actor

From Cracked.com:

Now most of you probably don't believe me, and that's fine. You've heard that the odds of success are slim, but you're different from all those other people, you have been singled out by providence for this. Parents, teachers and community theater directors have told you your entire life that you are gifted -- that you are born to make emotions with your face under camera and stage lights, a face that was too optimistic or too young to devastate with brutal honesty. Well, I can't see your faces, and I have some bad news.

Here are five good reasons your career path will make you absolutely miserable.

More here.

I take issue with the opening point, #5, in that it has embedded in it several very debatable assumptions about what it means to have a good life, what is valuable in society, and personal identity itself. That is, acting, as an art form, does, indeed, have great social and personal value, even if such value cannot be quantified in dollar terms, especially within our sick culture where commerce is prized above all other things.

Otherwise, this is spot on: acting, as a profession aimed at making money, mostly in film and television, is so screwed up that whatever is appealing to you about acting in the first place is, by and large, swallowed whole by capitalist forces we barely understand.

It's nice that I'm returning to the theater after all these years.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Overwhelming Evidence that Half of America is In or Near Poverty

From AlterNet:

The costs of food and housing and education and health care and transportation and child care and taxes have been well-defined by organizations such as the  Economic Policy Institute, which calculated that a U.S. family of three would require an average of about $48,000 a year to meet basic needs; and by the  Working Poor Families Project, which estimates the income required for basic needs for a family of four at about $45,000. The  median household income is $51,000. 

More here.

Conservatives will never admit it, but, since the Reagan era, we've been managing the country, more or less, according to conservative economic principles.  I mean, it was something of a slow start, resisted by whatever remained of liberalism within the Democratic Party back in the day.  But by the time Clinton and the "New Democrats" were running the show in the 90s, it was ALL about tax cuts for the rich, deregulation, cutting social services, and on and on.  In short, the conservatives won, and they won big, and we've been dancing to their tune for three decades now.

I mean, sure, okay, we could go even further than this, which is what the Tea Partiers and their ilk want, cutting even more spending, throwing more money at the rich, increasing heartless cruelty toward the poor and all that, but, really, we've been moving in this direction for so long, most of my life, that we've long since essentially been there.  And, by now, if the conservatives are right, we ought to be living in something of an economic Nirvana.  We've gone a long way toward "getting the government off the people's backs."  We've allowed the rich to keep a lot more of their money, so as to invest it wisely, which, in theory, ought to have created more jobs.  Again and again.  And so on.

But, needless to say, we HAVEN'T achieved economic Nirvana.  Instead, by almost every indicator, the economic prospects for most Americans have gotten worse, not better.  Indeed, as the linked article observes, half the country is either in or near poverty.  Not only have conservative economic policies failed to achieve the promised economic prosperity, but they have also apparently obliterated whatever economic prosperity Americans had when I was a kid back in the 70s.

Call it whatever you want.  Reaganomics, neoliberalism, libertarianism, objectivism, all a total failure.  It's really quite remarkable that anybody at all continues to believe in this crap.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Creationists demand equal airtime on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘Cosmos’ to provide ‘balance’

From the Raw Story, courtesy of a facebook friend:

Creationists held a pity party for themselves Thursday because “Cosmos” isn’t being fair and balanced to their beliefs.

“Creationists aren’t even on the radar screen for them, they wouldn’t even consider us plausible at all,” said Danny Falkner, of Answers In Genesis, which has previously complained about the show.

Falkner appeared Thursday on “The Janet Mefford Show” to complain the Fox television series and its host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, had marginalized those with dissenting views on accepted scientific truths, reported Right Wing Watch.

More here.

This is FUNNY! Damned shame that conservatives did away with the Fairness Doctrine decades ago. Now they've got to lie in the bed they made. I love it when that happens. I also love it when science prevails.  At any rate, I haven't gotten to watch the new Cosmos yet, but I'm sure I will soon.  After all, it's Cosmos.  And it's Neil deGrasse Tyson.  I just don't see how it could possibly go wrong.  I mean, okay, it's on Fox, but so was the X Files.  Actually, that's another funny, that Fox is pissing off conservatives.  Gotta love that, too.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY. ON SATURDAY

On Facebook, I always post a pop song from the 70s on Mondays, and then a Frank Zappa song every Friday.  I think I'm going to start posting them both here on Saturdays.  Why not?





Excelsior!

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Friday, March 21, 2014

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Sammy





















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

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Measles Are Back! Vaccine Truthers Officially a Public Health Menace

From Salon via AlterNet:

It’s back. Three years after public health officials realized that they had been preemptive in declaring that measles was eliminated in the U.S., new outbreaks of the highly infectious disease are once again cropping up in cities across the country. And it wold be a mistake, epidemiologists warn, not to take this extremely seriously.

As expected, the outbreaks have caused plenty of outrage directed against Jenny McCarthy and the crowd of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. Writing in the Daily Beast, a pediatrician using the pseudonym Russell Saunders calls it “sheer lunacy”: “Just over a dozen years ago this illness was considered eliminated in our country,” he writes, “and this year people are being hospitalized for it. All due to the hysteria about a safe, effective vaccine. All based on nothing.”

More here.

Okay, as you may know, I'm very much into the idea of questioning the conventional wisdom on all kinds of topics, especially politics and economics.  I'm also in no way opposed to questioning something that I'm told is "science," but generally my line of questioning for that is limited to whether something is actually science or just being called science--after all, we live in an era when corporations commission "scientific" studies aimed at getting precisely the conclusion they want, an era when these same corporations use their economic might to gain influence within various governmental agencies dealing with science, such as the EPA or the FDA; prudent skepticism is necessarily a wise course of action.  

But there is no real doubt about the science on vaccines.  Vaccines, of course, have side effects.  But they also stop deadly diseases in their tracks.  And autism is NOT one of those side effects.

Why anyone, anyone at all, would take the word of a former Playboy Playmate over the word of the scientific and medical communities is beyond me, but then lots of human behavior is irrational.  I mean, people deny evolution and global warming, too, in spite of the science being totally solid.  The bottom line is that Jenny McCarthy's utterly misguided crusade against vaccines is persuading enough parents to refrain from vaccinating their children such that we are now having epidemics that we shouldn't be having.  Needless to say, that's REALLY BAD.

So if you ever encounter one of these weird and dangerous vaccine "truthers" spouting their vaccine bullshit, do me, yourself, and the human race a favor: tell these people they are literally endangering society, and tell everyone within earshot that if they believe this crap, too, and spread it to others, they're essentially killing people.  Beliefs really do matter.  And, in this case, the stakes are high, life and death.  This insane "movement" has to end right now.

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Why 'Paid-What-You're-Worth' Is a Toxic Myth

From AlterNet, an essay by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich:

Fifty years ago, when General Motors was the largest employer in America, the typical GM worker got paid $35 an hour in today’s dollars. Today, America’s largest employer is Walmart, and the typical Walmart workers earns $8.80 an hour. 

Does this mean the typical GM employee a half-century ago was worth four times what today’s typical Walmart employee is worth? Not at all. Yes, that GM worker helped produce cars rather than retail sales. But he wasn’t much better educated or even that much more productive. He often hadn’t graduated from high school. And he worked on a slow-moving assembly line. Today’s Walmart worker is surrounded by digital gadgets — mobile inventory controls, instant checkout devices, retail search engines — making him or her quite productive. 

The real difference is the GM worker a half-century ago had a strong union behind him that summoned the collective bargaining power of all autoworkers to get a substantial share of company revenues for its members. And because more than a third of workers across America belonged to a labor union, the bargains those unions struck with employers raised the wages and benefits of non-unionized workers as well. Non-union firms knew they’d be unionized if they didn’t come close to matching the union contracts.

Today’s Walmart workers don’t have a union to negotiate a better deal. They’re on their own. And because fewer than 7 percent of today’s private-sector workers are unionized, non-union employers across America don’t have to match union contracts. This puts unionized firms at a competitive disadvantage. The result has been a race to the bottom.


More here.

When you own a business, most of your costs are fixed.  The cost of rent, various bills, supplies, raw materials, etc., are non-negotiable, more or less.  Labor, however, in stark contrast, is NOT a fixed cost.  You can pay as low of a wage as you can get away with.  And that's a pretty big deal in terms of economic theory.  Indeed, Marxist economist Richard Wolff asserts that this key factor, the arbitrariness of labor costs, is essentially how the capitalist makes his money: by paying his worker less than the value he creates with his labor, the capitalist is able to pocket the difference as profit.  The bigger the difference between the wealth a worker creates and the amount he is paid, the more money the capitalist makes.

I mean, sure, there's this intellectual construct known as the "labor market," which philosophically reduces human beings to a function of supply and demand, as with, say, pork bellies or uranium, but because most capitalists in the pursuit of common interests have devoted collectively billions of dollars over the years, through various strategies such as manipulating government, moving production facilities across the country or abroad, and others, to RIGGING this "market" in their favor, it's all something of a sick joke.

That is, a worker's REAL value is only understood in terms of the wealth he creates, NOT in terms of supply and demand, which the bogus "labor market" doesn't even accurately calculate, anyway.  So that's the context in which all discussions of labor unions, the minimum wage, welfare, wealth inequality, taxation, etc., MUST be understood: capitalists make their money by paying workers less than the value they create, and those capitalists will do ANYTHING THEY CAN to squeeze their labor AS MUCH AS THEY CAN.

Kind of makes right-wing whining about "redistribution" problematic at best, and total bullshit at worst.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2003 Invasion of Iraq

From Wikipedia:

The 2003 invasion of Iraq lasted from 19 March 2003 to 1 May 2003 and signaled the start of the conflict that later came to be known as the Iraq War, which was dubbed Operation Iraqi Freedom by the United States (prior to 19 March, the mission in Iraq was called Operation Enduring Freedom, a carryover from the conflict in Afghanistan). The invasion consisted of 21 days of major combat operations, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland invaded Iraq and deposed the Ba'athist government of Saddam Hussein. The invasion phase consisted primarily of a conventionally-fought war which concluded with the capture of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad by American forces.

More here.

Tomorrow is the eleventh anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.  Here are some things I hope the American people have learned since then, even though they probably have not.

1.  The government can lie, and do so very convincingly.  Indeed, the government can lie, and, by playing on patriotic themes, get the public to enthusiastically endorse that lie, and even condemn and attack, sometimes physically, the relatively few Americans who don't believe the lie.

2.  Trusted and beloved leaders can be duped into helping the government lie very convincingly, as with Secretary of State Colin Powell.

3.  When the government lies, the truth is often freely available elsewhere to anyone who cares to do five minutes of research.  That is, even though the corporate press in the US pushed the government lies about WMD, the foreign press was all over the many inconsistencies and contradictions embedded in these assertions about both WMD and Iraq's willingness to hand them over to Al Qaeda.

4.  When Americans are united in a frenzy of self-righteousness, people die.  American soldiers die.  Foreign soldiers die.  Innocent babies die.  Etc.

5.  There are profound limits to what we can do with overwhelming military power.

6.  Democracy cannot be installed by force.

7.  According to the principles of Nuremberg, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are war criminals.

8.  We Americans can be as brutal and barbaric as the vilest and most despotic regimes in history, as with torture at Abu Ghraib and our use of chemical weapons during the siege of Fallujah.

9.  Indeed, America, as a nation, is no more or less moral than any other nation, anywhere, at any point in history.

10. We made many of the same mistakes with the Vietnam War, but we repeated them again with Iraq, which means we, as a people, are absolutely AWFUL with self-reflection.

Like I said, I hope we've learned at least some of these lessons.  The public's lack of willingness to enter the Syrian Civil War indicates that perhaps we have, but, on the other hand, after Vietnam, we were gun shy for a few years, too, and it didn't take long for us to return to our war-mongering ways.

I continue to fear for my country's recklessness and arrogance.

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That Old-Time Whistle

New Krugman: 

So it’s comical, in a way, to see Mr. Ryan trying to explain away some recent remarks in which he attributed persistent poverty to a “culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working.” He was, he says, simply being “inarticulate.” How could anyone suggest that it was a racial dog-whistle? Why, he even cited the work of serious scholars — people like Charles Murray, most famous for arguing that blacks are genetically inferior to whites. Oh, wait.


Just to be clear, there’s no evidence that Mr. Ryan is personally a racist, and his dog-whistle may not even have been deliberate. But it doesn’t matter. He said what he said because that’s the kind of thing conservatives say to each other all the time. And why do they say such things? Because American conservatism is still, after all these years, largely driven by claims that liberals are taking away your hard-earned money and giving it to Those People.

Indeed, race is the Rosetta Stone that makes sense of many otherwise incomprehensible aspects of U.S. politics.

More here.

Probably the WORST thing you can call a white American is "racist."  Or, at least, among the worst things.  I mean, I hate it, too.  It really pisses me off on those very rare occasions that someone has insinuated or said that I'm being racist in some way.  After all, racism is, virtually everyone agrees, totally awful.  No one, or mostly no one, wants to be thought of as a racist.

And that puts me into a bit of a dilemma when I try to talk about race, politics, and ideology.  I'll just cut to the chase here: modern American conservatism has multiple racist notions philosophically embedded deeply within it, almost across the board.  This is undeniable, although all conservatives deny it, anyway.  They HAVE to deny it.  Otherwise, it must necessarily mean they're racists, and nobody wants to be thought of as a racist--I mean, I don't think it necessarily makes you racist just because you're a conservative; it's just that so much conservative philosophy is tainted both by basing itself on racist foundational assumptions, and by arriving ultimately at racist conclusions, and you may very well be unaware of these origins and end-points in logic.  At any rate, it makes discussion about it all problematic, at the very least.

If the inherent nature of racism within conservatism is a new concept to you, or if you just don't see how it's possible, click through and read Krugman's essay.  Or look up "Southern Strategy" on Wikipedia.  Personally, I've grown tired of explaining what's fairly obvious, so I don't feel any need to "prove" here that which is as plain as the nose on your face.  But then, that's essentially the whole point.  I must "prove" something which needs no proof, and even when I do, such proof will never be accepted.  Instead, it just pisses conservatives off all the more.

In short, we can never publicly discuss how racism has driven conservatism for AT LEAST the last three decades.  It's kind of like that Monty Python sketch where the couple tries to buy a bed, but if they say the word "mattress," the bed salesman puts a bag over his head.  And he doesn't take it off until they stand in a box and sing the English hymn "Jerusalem."  Yes, that absurd.



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Monday, March 17, 2014

Why don't 'moderate' conservative Christians condemn religious extremists?

From examiner.com:

With these extreme groups and individuals making their opinions loud and clear, a certain question needs to be asked. Christians and other religious Americans who consider themselves "moderate," are often too quiet when these extreme groups make the headlines with hate and intolerance. While there are often a small group of religious Americans voicing their opposition, not enough do so to make enough noise to change the direction of the issues.

The Republican party and their conservative Christian base don't always speak as clearly as Pastor Harris and Worley, but their silence does just as much damage. It's possible to hold a certain position in your political and religious ideology without damaging the lives of others. If the United States is going to move forward in a direction that includes equality for all Americans, people of faith need to speak up when clear ignorance, intolerance and bigotry are being unleashed right in front of their eyes.

More here.

I've really started to believe in recent months that what we have thought of as "Christendom" for centuries doesn't really reflect reality.  Indeed, the United States has probably ended up becoming the ultimate fulfillment of the Protestant Reformation.  We've got a gazillion different denominations, a similar number of independent churches, countless Christians who are unaffiliated with a church at all, and all of them with differing beliefs and values, in spite of a common name, Christian, and common holy book, the Bible.  In short, there is no single cultural phenomenon called Christianity.  Rather, there are multiple Christianities, with various emphases and ideas, often reflecting various local ethnic and secular cultural norms.

That's how you can range from "God hates fags" all the way to churches holding wedding ceremonies for gays and lesbians, how we can have some churches supporting the invasion of Iraq with others condemning the military action as immoral, how some churches advocate universal health care, while others see it as a stepping stone toward communism and eventual state enforced atheism, how some churches reject evolution, the big bang, and set theory, while others embrace science as that which reveals the intricacies of God's divine plan.  And so on.  All of them arriving at wildly different conclusions about the nature of reality even though they use the same name, use the same holy text, and employ, more or less, the same symbols.

How can this all be simply one religion?  How can a single religion be so divided against itself?  Who are the real Christians?  Is there such a thing as a "real" Christian?  Or is anybody who self-identifies as a Christian automatically a Christian?  These are serious questions to which I would like answers.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Veteran CBS host laughs in Cruz’s face after he repeatedly denies shutting down government

From Raw Story:

CBS host Bob Schieffer’s was driven nearly to a fit of giggles on Sunday after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) repeatedly refused to take responsibility for last year’s government shutdown.

The veteran newsman led off his Sunday interview by simply asking if Cruz would be willing to once again hold the government hostage to try to get concessions from President Barack Obama.

“Well, Bob, with all due respect, I don’t agree with the premise of your question,” Cruz replied. “Throughout the government shutdown, I opposed a government shutdown. I said we shouldn’t shut the government down. I think it was a mistake that President Obama and the Democrats shut the government down this fall.”

More here, with video.

This is a very nice example of why the left just kind of rolls its eyes whenever conservatives go on and on about "the liberal media." When one of these Tea Party demagogue clowns lies directly to your face, and you KNOW he's lying, if you're an actual journalist you don't giggle, you don't give up. You call the guy a liar. You say, "Ted Cruz, you're a total liar." But, again and again, "the liberal media" allow these evil fools to get away with what amounts to a massive disinformation campaign.
 

Some "liberal media."

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Friday, March 14, 2014

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Winkie and Frankie





















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

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

THE GRAND LEFT-WING INTERNET WOODY ALLEN WITCH HUNT!

Okay, a little late here at Real Art, but back in early February, when the Dylan Farrow versus Woody Allen dueling New York Times editorial page wars were going on, I found it almost impossible to discuss the whole thing with lots of liberals online.  I mean, sure, some were cool and dignified about the discussion, but many were just being MAJOR dicks about my defending Woody Allen.  Indeed, you could see this attitude all over the left side of the blogosphere: if you support Woody Allen, you're supporting a pedophile.  Now, we can argue about whether he's guilty or not, but going after people, the people themselves, simply because you don't like their opinion, that's total bullshit.

So I wrote this, put it on facebook, and argued for days and days.  And yes, some of the dissenting commenters were total dicks, which makes me think I was totally right.  Check it out:

This is NOT about the recent reemergence of twenty year old allegations of child molestation against Woody Allen. Which means I'm going to do my best to avoid being pulled into debating that topic down in comments. Rather, I want to make a few observations about the discussion itself regarding this issue. Aspects of this discussion, both in my own experience, and what I've been reading around the internet, have been deeply disturbing to me.

Apparently, simply defending Woody Allen is in some way insensitive to his ostensible victim, as well as to all victims of sexual abuse. It is, of course, entirely possible that I've misunderstood what I've been reading. It's entirely possible that there is, in fact, something about offering a defense of Allen that is insensitive. But I'm still not sure exactly what that is, leaving me to assume that the actual problem is nothing more than defending someone who is perceived by many as a child molester. There seems to be an endless stream of essays online asserting that to defend Woody Allen against these allegations is tantamount to dismissing ALL allegations of sexual abuse.

For that matter, I get the sense that if I, in response, were to ask for sensitivity to the issue of false accusation, which is a real issue, and happens all the time, often resulting in unjust incarceration, that I would be ridiculed and lambasted, maybe even lectured at on topics about which I am already knowledgeable, such as how there is a massive and continuing history of sexual abuse victims not being taken seriously by the criminal justice system. But I haven't asked for counter-sensitivity, myself; people are entitled to their opinions, and I don't think they should be required to show their sensitivity by keeping quiet about what they believe. This doesn't appear to work in both directions, though. It seems that the only way to be sensitive to sexual abuse victims, in this current scandal re-visitation, is to keep your mouth shut about Woody Allen, unless, of course, you're going to condemn him.

I've also read in more than a few places that the only reason one would defend Allen is because one really likes his movies. It doesn't matter if one honestly believes Allen is innocent, and hates the injustice of running an innocent man's reputation through the mud in public discussion. It's because one is a Woody Allen fan. It also doesn't matter if one offers reasonable arguments and evidence. It's just because one likes his movies. Needless to say, well, needless to me, anyway, psychoanalyzing Allen's defenders in this way characterizes them, for all intents and purposes, as being mindless and without the ability as individual human beings to formulate informed opinions, which makes anything they say not worth hearing out. That is, the whole "you're only doing this because you're a fan" thing isn't an argument; rather, it's an attempt to silence dissent through a rhetorical process of dehumanizing minimization: you're not capable of commenting on this because you're a fanatic.

Put all this together and the inescapable conclusion is that none of this reborn brouhaha about Allen's alleged sex crimes has anything to do with actual discussion or discourse. Instead, it's a mob dynamic, driven by anger, aimed at finding surrogates, that is, Allen's defenders, as targets for rage-venting. I mean, okay, there is some good commentary, too. At the very least, the whole thing might be bringing some attention to the overall issue of sexual abuse, and that's a good thing. But I'm talking specifically about the blanket summary dismissal of any and all defenses offered on behalf of Woody Allen.

I've said this before, and it's definitely worth repeating now. There is, and always has been, a totalitarian strain on the left, one that is fueled by a sense of moral certainty and absolutism, one that instantly disregards all nuance, while also identifying enemies, and equating sympathizers with the perceived crimes of those enemies. I mean, I'm a little nervous about posting this, actually. Because that's how it works. You have to weigh expressing your opinion against possible massive backlash having nothing to do with exchanging ideas and everything to do with enforcement of orthodoxy. You'd think liberals would value discussion and free speech more than this, and often they do, but some issues are all emotion, bile, and vinegar.

It's no wonder so many conservatives hate our guts.
'Nuff said.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

WHEREIN I RETURN TO BLOGGING

Okay, gonna jump back into it starting tomorrow night.  For a week or so I'm just going to be re-posting the stuff I've been doing on facebook during my absence.  I mean, it's good stuff, I think, and want to preserve it on my own page, where I can dig it up later--ever try to find something you posted on facebook a month ago?  Not easy.  

Anyway, I think, for the first time in many years, I'm not going worry so much about posting daily.  I've kept it up for the most part for a decade, but I've got some other creative pursuits hanging in my face these days, and I don't want to let blogging get in the way.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm still planning to do at least four or five posts a week, sometimes more.  But I'm not going to stress about missing a day here or there.  So it's the same old Real Art, just not quite as much.

Dig?  See y'all tomorrow.

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