QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it’s from Neptune.”

-Noam Chomsky

The Conversation We Need on War

Refugees Fleeing ISIS Offensive Pour Into Kurdistan This is not a post I wish to write for a lot of reasons. Mostly it has to do with the fact that I recognize that my opinions here are not in line with the average American and that I have loved ones and friends who will and have disagreed with me in part or in whole. I don’t wish to insult, cause pain, or infuriate those I care about, but important issues do not benefit from pretending they don’t exist.

This all started, or should I say restarted for me with an editorial I read in the NYTimes yesterday which I urge you to read carefully here. It refers to the fact that some veterans really don’t appreciate being thanked for their service and that opens a whole can of worms for me.

Because this promises to be long, and you deserve to understand from whence my opinions germinated, let me go back to the beginning.

War is not something new of course but is as old as human relationships. As we gathered into groups, we inevitably? found war as the way to solve issues between groups. I question the word inevitable since the jury is still out as to whether we are innately prone to solve our problems this way or not. Suffice it to say, we’ve taken the easy way out, the simplistic approach since we began to record our lives as “civilized”.

I am of that generation whose grandfathers were eligible to fight in the “war to end all wars” and our fathers fought in the conflagration known as WWII. Those were both “righteous” wars by all accounts, fought from a necessity we all accepted. My father was a WWII vet and so was my closest uncle. I assumed, without actual knowledge that all of my friends fathers were veterans too. I to this day don’t know which were and which weren’t.

The generation of my father did not talk much of war, it was indeed their overarching psyche not to. My father did not belong to veterans groups for the most part. But the country did take its responsibility to take care of its vets very seriously. The GI Bill followed quickly at the end of the war, and that was accompanied by a social security law that ensured a decent old age. Unions rose dramatically in the years following and with them came salaries that paid a living wage, and pensions to bolster that social security. Veterans once in positions of power made sure their health care needs were met with Medicare in the sixties.

These efforts, directed at least in large part to show our thanks to veterans was shared by most people and embraced. Republicans lagged behind in these efforts, but even they soon were loath to not support them as well. Such happens as the result of righteous wars.

This is what it meant to “support our troops” back then.

I grew up watching war movies, at least until about the age of 15 or so. I had no particular feelings about war other than that they were sometimes necessary and that that men did some scary stuff that I was glad not to do.

Vietnam was “my” war in that I came to adulthood during it. Quickly we came to realize that it had none of the clean lines of demarcation. From the beginning it was mired in questions. It would take years if not decades before we saw it clearly. America had been on the wrong side. Ho Chi Minh was in fact the hero, and America had been propping up a corrupt puppet government that as usual was supported for “doing our bidding.”

We would go on to do similar if less costly (to us) interventions in South America.

I ended up by the time I was nineteen or so supporting draft dodgers and draft card burners and marching on an occasion or two to stop this war. I read books about war, Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead, and Aristophanes Lysistrata. Later I read Colonel David Hackworth’s About Face: The Odyssey of An American Warrior.

I was forever changed in my opinions regarding war. I see them today as but temporary fixes that contain the seeds of new wars, and that this posture is endless. I see them as the easy solution when we are not brave enough nor thoughtful enough to do better.

I don’t pretend to be a total pacifist for I recognize that unbridled naked aggression must be met with more than words. But at the same time I’m not sure what the standards should be for determining “just” war. I do believe it should be the last resort rather than the first. I recognize as well that no soldier can hide behind “orders” to justify his/her behavior in a war theatre and thus don’t buy the “war is hell, never question what they did.”

We live in a polarized time where some try to reserve patriotism to themselves. They do this by defining some rather strange things as patriotic. It ends up being words more than behavior in my opinion. Sarah Palin explained to us that people who don’t wear flag pins aren’t patriotic. That is surely an opinion I suppose, but hardly one I want to identify with.

Politicians all wear flag pins, and often spout the words “support our troops”. Plenty of people fly flags as if this is patriotism. If you know me you know I do not relate to any of this.

Borders seem artificial constructs of humans designed to preserve resources mostly. In my view, the future can only result in a remove of such artifices and the institution of policies that favor use of shrinking resources for the benefit of all humanity. World government must inevitably replace nation states.

Thus to me, reliance on archaic terms such as national pride and homeland and so forth serve only to point out our differences rather than seek our commonality. Supporting our troops, more the banner of the politician, ends up being nothing more than a call for a larger army with more armaments. I find it all decidedly unhelpful in a world that shrinks daily and becomes more intricate.

During my war crisis (Vietnam) we knew that most of the boys sent to fight the designated enemy were not there by choice. The draft is no more, at least not now, and so perforce I must admit that all soldiers are soldiers by choice today.  But they are far from being all the same.

Some are there through a genuine desire to “fight for our way of life and to avenge those who kill Americans.” I can appreciate their actual belief, however short-lived it may be, as heartfelt. One can, I suppose, thank them for their belief, however wrong it may be to some of us.

Some are there because life circumstances offers them little in terms of a future. Poor boys and girls find themselves with few options to a better life, and the service has always held out that carrot of education and training as a way out of poverty.

Some were raised in the tradition or not, but feel that all things being equal, this is a good career choice. And that of course is their right.

Others are there because the other option was jail.

I am told, but do not know, that in the midst of battle, soldiers fight not for country or “so that you don’t have to” but solely for each other, as the series Band of Brothers pointed out so well. Such emotions are no doubt noble and right to those who face death.

But since I am not of the persuasion that most wars are necessary, and certainly not these wars of late, I find myself in some quandary about what this thanks is for. Why should I thank the one who deliberately chose to do this thing that I do not agree with? For in the end, wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq arguably have made life here in the US more dangerous rather than less so. Simply the number who hate us has grown exponentially.

There is a movie I believe called What if They Gave a War and Nobody Came? It became a popular slogan during Vietnam. One must ask, what if? It might be that the government would re-institute the draft, but Vietnam proved how powerful a populace can be when it sets its mind against the will of a warmongering government. So is it not legitimate for me to argue that you have no right  to expect my thanks for doing what I deem ultimately doing more harm than good, both to my country and to untold other human beings?

Why should I thank you for doing what you chose to do for your own interests (which I may or may not sympathise with) and which harms what I perceive as legitimate goals of this country?

And who are you to complain of me? The ones who will most vociferously are those who wave flags, wear pins, and speak of supporting our troops. You are also the same ones who support your local congressperson in voting no for food stamps, improvements in the VA and veterans benefits and unemployment benefits. Yet, significant percentages of veterans need food stamps, and they comprise something like twenty-five percent of our homeless. The VA is unable to adequately care for the tens of thousands who return wounded or who like my husband retain injuries not obvious to the casual observer. Yet you do not “support” them in these tangible ways.

So please save your criticism and look in the mirror at your own failings. As the writer of the NYTimes editorial said, you can’t get off the hook for you utter lack of being involved in war by such a simple trite means. Face the fact that unless you or yours was an actual soldier, you haven’t suffered one second for all this killing, and you haven’t thought about it either, other than to issue forth your platitudes.

Some of us bewail this killing, and the victims are not only Americans but Afghanis and Iraqis just for starters. The list gets longer as we have to also bear some responsibility for the killing done by Middle Eastern peoples to each other because of our meddling throughout the region. And we sit in our homes and schools and places of work and dine on steak and watch football, and all the other niceties of life in America while millions suffer for what is being done in our name and in the name of those we support.

We have reaped the whirlwind and now face a group of men and women who have no fear of dying to bring about an ideology they believe in no matter how insane it actually is. And if we don’t come to some equally compelling ideology to counteract it, we will find ourselves ill-equipped to save humanity from itself.

It is clear what the war hawks are selling. It’s what they have sold since the days of Thermopylae.  The question is will we ever see beyond the spear, the catapult, the tank, the bomb and the sniper?

I’m not asking you to agree with me. I’m asking you to dialogue. This is the human conversation that needs to be  held. I am offering no solutions because I don’t have them. But I do believe that we owe it to our children and their children to make the attempt.

All I can do is promise a veteran this: I will honor every dead man and woman killed by war. I will vote for every improvement in VA services and benefits. I will do my best to find real solutions to hunger and housing, and will vote AND PAY TAXES to support public assistance to all in need. I will vote in elections to support peaceful solutions over war. And I honestly truly am deeply sad for your suffering whether it is apparent to all or hidden in the recesses of your mind. I will be a voice for the voiceless. I will seek to help make all boats rise.

We are better than this. We have to be.

 

 

 

 

Metaphors and Analogies Galore

love_my_country_500 My friend Mimi asked an important question that inevitably got me to thinkin’.

Rudy 9/11 Giuliani opens his gums and spouts off as to how this President, really doesn’t love America as we do. Rude then goes on to explain that Obama was raised “diff-rent” from you and me, and none of that stuff is racist cuz ya know he had a white mama.

Rather than pick apart the blatherings of a has-been irrelevant hack, let’s look at the whole concept of what it means to “love one’s country.”

I’m not sure exactly what it means myself. I have no idea what it means to love a thing like that. I mean the concept is quite foreign to me, and I suspect it is to most people of they were pushed to tell exactly what they meant by it. Most people work from metaphor, taking it to mean that they support what the country was framed to stand for, and they think voting is a requirement of good citizenship.

I am not a boundary person you see. I look at maps and say, “oh dear, that makes no sense. Why is that line there?” Most of that stuff arose from long ago times and most dealt with wars. A bit of it is due to natural features of the land. Most of the lines throughout the Middle East are arbitrary and stem from meddling from the West, and truth be told, it’s why things are in such turmoil there today.

I do love humanity, which I think is quite natural being a part of it. I figure I’m one of the lucky ones, and I figure I’m no more entitled than anybody else. The accident of birth landed me in a land that allows me to pretty much do as I wish and do it fairly pleasantly. Someone’s being born in Bangladesh should entitle them to no less. So I’m all for making things a lot more equal. I’ll happily give up some if I can improve the lives of people who have almost nothing.

I recognize everyone doesn’t believe like I do, because they have been raised by parents, governments, businesses, and media to “want it all” with fine phrases like “work ethic” and “bootstraps” and “survival of the fittest”, to name but a few. They deserve more because they work harder and they judge their value and others by what’s in the garage of life.

If ever a metaphor was made for the GOP it’s the black hole. The GOP is on the event horizon. That’s the spot on the edge of a black hole from which there is no return. Destruction is inevitable since the gravitational pull is stronger than any known counter force to pull out. Yet to the observer, the person or thing poised on the event horizon seems to remain there forever. It’s basic astrophysics.

Or one can use the analogy of catch 22. Either works fine.

You see the GOP is always damned either way at this point. It is all of their own making, so there is no desire to rescue them. They are caught in the black hole of the tea imbibing community of dunces. They must feed the tiger lest the tiger eat them alive which of course it inevitably will since one must go mad under that sort of pressure eventually, and thus falter and succumb to the fangs.

The GOP cannot get away from the tea crazies. So they invariably make remarks such as Rudy did. And the Walkers of the party will continue to be non-committal in rejecting such tripe. One cannot poke the tiger, after all. Meanwhile, they remain mired in place at the event horizon while in reality, bit by bit they are eaten alive.

There is no meaning to “loving my country” any more than there is to “supporting our troops”, wearing flag pins or saying loudly that America is Exceptional! Similarly, the idea that one must confess one’s Christianity in order to be viable is without merit. The latter particularly is egregious, since there is a no religious test clause in the very constitution that these flag wavers so profess to be willing to die for.

In reality, constitution protectors don’t really mean it at all. They mean the constitution as they interpret it, and with the parts left out that they don’t like.

Do you love your country or only the ideal of it? Do you love it in spite of its true history or do you doctor that up to meet some standard you have erected to satisfy your personal needs and wants? I read where one woman in talking to her right-wing relatives learned that they opposed the current state of teaching American history because it “just wasn’t necessary to rehash all that old stuff. Sure slavery was bad, but we ended it. We should concentrate on what makes America great.”

Does anybody have a clue where that sort of nonsense leads? Well, not to  go into that of course, but it does, you have to admit, lead to all sorts of entitlements based on “we’re just so damned superior” and “you can’t manage without our guidance.” Anyone smell the odor of Arian purity and world domination in there?

President Obama has less than two years left to serve, and the Republican day care school replacement brigade still can’t talk of much else. Meanwhile it would appear that Jebbie  hasn’t read a newspaper in six-plus years, since a big chunk of his foreign policy team is made up of his brother’s fine collection of idiots that led us into the morasses of both Afghanistan and Iraq.  He doesn’t know that Wolfowitz was one of the architects of the Iraq policy with his pre-emptive strike crap? He doesn’t know that along with Cheney and others, the Iraq foray was something these fools had wanted to do for a decade or so and found 9/11 a good excuse for? They are liars and arguably war criminals if we collectively had the stomach to clean up our own shit behind us.

Yet this is where we live today. In a world steeped it seems in a party which is caught between the tiger which is devouring it, and reality which it can only spit niceties  at as it throws yet another bone in the other direction.  Stop being the party of stupid, Bobby Jindal said, while being stupid. We welcome everyone, except not Log Cabin Republicans to CPAC. I’ll take a pass on that evolution question if you don’t mind, I’m not a scientist.

We live in a world where David and Charles Koch, family owners of Koch Industries, owners of subsidiary ALEC, writes the legislation word for word of the bill their CEO Scott Walker of their other subsidiary Wisconsin, signs into law regarding “right to work” (which is really nothing but right to work for next to nothing), causing  even old timer Republicans who still have some shred of decency left in them, to say, “this is just fucking wrong.”

Is this love of country? They would surely say yes, the country they want to have, wherein all decisions are filtered through the prism of “is this good for the bottom line?”

Love my country?

Only an insane person would love this. Place that constitution, the preamble will do, against the fabric of stupid today and see how well that fits. A person could stand on a stump and recite non-stop this bundle of crazy for weeks without end. Today, we will pass a law that says sex education must never allude to the possibility of enjoyment but only procreative elements that are of course abstained from by good little girls, and winked at by bad little boys. Today we will ban yoga pants, cuz damn I wanna do what’s right for Merika. Today I’ll suggest that good education money is wasted on them blacks who just collect welfare anyway. Today, I’ll work hard to make sure only “our sort of folk” can vote. Today, I’ll cash that check from Exxon-Mobile and vote to let them drill baby drill in your fucking front yard.

Love my country?

Are you serious?

 

 

 

 

Anti-Vaxxers and Their Troubled Logic

prodisease I’m not one to shrink from controversy and when I weighed in on this issue, I did it knowing full well that it would probably go exactly where it did.

Anti-vaxxers as they have become known introduce yet another instance of retrograde civilization at work. The group it hails from is a shocking one in some respects–the upper middle, and supposedly well-educated.

While those on the liberal left have a healthy dose of scepticism when it comes to big Pharma, the anti-vaxxers have as Keegan Michael Key would say, have “taken it to a whole ‘nuther level”.

I don’t intend to debate here. As the Chicago Tribune said yesterday “There is no other side to the vaccine debate.” It is like evolution and climate change. There is only one side, the plain truth.

Let me set the stage:

A person on Facebook posted something about her conclusion that vaccinations ought to be a matter of choice. I’d reproduce that statement accurately, but she’s taken down the entire thing as best I can tell, so I cannot. She expounded in at least one or two additional comments.

I suggested that if she had a right to choose then of course schools had the right to choose not to allow her kids in the building which would force her to homeschool. Additionally this could also lead to groups (I would suggest organized sports and artistic groups) to banning children who could not provide vaccination records as well. Other parents might well determine that their children were unsafe in her children’s company.

All told, I argued, that such restrictions as might reasonably be placed upon her children might so segregate her children from the rest of society that some people might suggest that that amounted to child abuse.

She responded by private message, telling me this:

I deleted your comment. Child abuse? My kids have had some vaccinations, but I’m done with the bs of infecting others and fear. It DOES need to remain a choice. If vaccines become forced, what’s next? I’ve worked with too many vaccine injured children/people to know otherwise. No human life is above another. I’m all for a good debate/conversation, but have no more patience for inflammatory responses.

I was not permitted to answer the message. I tried to go to her page and was advised “no such person can be found” the telltale sign of being “unfriended.”

I wrote this on my Facebook wall:

hahaha, unfriended by a woman who took offense that I indicated that her “choice” not to vaccinate her children impinged on the choice of other children who came in contact with hers. She sent me a message saying she deleted my comment as “inflammatory” and then of course unfriended me in revenge. As I expected she would…..How can some people be so incredibly selfish…She seemed offended that anyone might suggest that she would have to homeschool her kids and keep them from others to protect other children and that some people might call that child abuse…Beware of (name omitted)

I received the following messages from her during the evening:

Really?

Your post about me was both inaccurate and untrue. Sorry you feel that way.

Why would you post that? Most of it is not even true.

Expected no answer. . Meaningful discussion is too scary? You’d rather slam me on Facebook? Maturity? I considered responding, but why? I’m not angry.? I’m not against vaccines. I’m for choice. I’m not the one who is offended. What you choose is fine.

The last is rich indeed. Is it I too scared to confront? I did not delete your comment lady, nor block you from replying any way you wished.

But let’s get to the meat of your argument.

“I’m not against vaccines” Apparently you are, since you said “my kids have had some [emphasis added] vaccinations.

“I’m for choice.”

Have you even spent once single moment examining that? I mean, yes, choice just sounds right doesn’t it? Choice is always a better word than “required, compelled, ordered. So I do get it. A lazy mind would always prefer choice to any of those.

What does it mean in actuality?

It means you can make a meaningful decision that is rational and based on objective facts. You can evaluate all the information and come to a logic-based conclusion.

What does that mean here?

  1. There is an actual debate as to whether vaccines are safe and whether they should be given to all but a few situations which involve compromised health that are known. THERE IS NO SUCH DEBATE. Go to the CDC vaccine page and read all you want. The Mayo Clinic has a full discussion as well. Or go to Parents. The fact is that the Internet provides the ability of every crackpot in the world to set up a bunch of “sciency-sounded arguments” and claim that vaccines are both dangerous and unnecessary. The autism connection has been well proved to be a complete lie, and the doctor in question has been stripped of his license.
  2. You as the average parent have no expertise in this area and cannot begin to “evaluate” the evidence and the websites that try to tell you there is a debate out there. You must trust, as we all do, those who have expertise. Those are scientists around the world who are telling you that there is no responsible study that justifies your avoiding protecting your child from all these nearly eradicated diseases. Vaccines are the reason why we don’t have polio any more and children don’t live in iron lungs.
  3. There is no test that I am aware of to determine whether your child is that one in 50,000 or 1,000,000 who will have a seriously adverse effect from immunization. All states allow exemptions for children with known allergies or known medical conditions that would put them at risk. There is no “general” test to take. Therefore, there is no “choice” to make here.
  4. You do not therefore have the right to unilaterally decide that you are not going to take this small risk on behalf of your child. That is not the bargain you made.

Bargain?

What am I talking about?

Sister, you are not living in isolation, you live in community. Our country was founded in part upon the concept of social compact. We deliberately then, and by inference now, agree that in return for certain agreed upon protections, we give up certain individual rights.

One of them, it seems to me is this: we do not have the right to make a choice of personal freedom that involves not being immunized when to do so threatens the herd. Whether you accept it or not, your “choice” to selfishly go your own way does exactly that.

Society has an absolute right to deny you that right or to explain that you will have to segregate yourself from the benefits of society if you insist. You may be “done with the bs about infecting others” but that is neither an answer or true. It merely suggests that you no longer care since it impinges on some right to do as you please regardless of how it affects other.

The record of immunization is very long and very successful worldwide.

Frankly, I do not think that simply by being a biological component of another life you have the right to make decisions that can so deeply affect their health and well-being. That’s the subject of another post entirely.

Your “choice” is no choice at all. It is simple an  appearance of “taking charge” over an issue you are utterly ill-equipped to decide upon. It makes you feel like a “good” parent when in fact you are arguably the very opposite.

Is that confrontational enough for you?

idiotsall

 

 

 

Conservative Comedy Show: Is That Some Sort of Oxymoron?

Allahu-Akbar-Its-Friday It is said (or at least it should have been said) that the human brain is pretty much capable of coming up with anything. I mean we humans have invented the most amazing ways of torturing people and killing them off bit by bit.

Go into any supermarket and stroll down the soda pop aisle or cereal aisle and you can see that we can invent several dozen variations on a theme, making each appear fresh and new.

But I swear I cannot come up with a viable version of comedy that stresses conservative themes and is funny at the same time. It would be a bit like pushing matter and anti-matter too closely together. It just implodes.

What on earth is funny about all the things that the GOP is for? They are for cutting taxes for the rich. That’s gotten to the point that nowadays we are sending money to them since they “pay” taxes in the negative.

They are for trying to offset their growing state deficits by adding “luxury” taxes to food and other necessities, taxes that cruelly attach more to the poor than any other group.

They are for the life of the fetus, which is surely laudable if it were coexistent with care for pregnant mothers, babies, health care, and a host of services to support that fetus as it grows to old age. But they are not.

They are against government intervening in the lives of ordinary people unnecessarily. They call this regulation. But the forms they wish to dismiss are those that protect people from dirty water, dirty air, shoddy manufacturing practices, unfair labor practices that endanger and diminish people.  They figure kids, rather than get a free lunch should sweep the school for their dinner.

But when it comes to regulating behavior, they can’t get enough of regulations. They want to and do, try to regulate every aspect of women’s bodies when it comes to reproduction and girls bodies too. They seek to regulate what women wear. They seek to protect the rights of others to treat fellow human beings badly based upon personal ideologies that they call a “religion.”

They seek to express American exceptionalism by meddling around the world, upping the ante everywhere, bloating defense budgets to accommodate their need to puff out their chests and “prove” America is better. At the same time, they protect themselves and their offspring from standing on any battlefield they create.

They seek to pretend that race and ethnicity no longer are of any concern in their America. They turn the page by flipping the equation such that anyone who brings up the issue is dubbed a “racist”. They employ a few dark faces, who for the price of personal fame, are willing to nod genteelly in agreement. They twist and cherrypick the words of great civil rights leaders and try to claim them as their own.

They live every day using every convenience devised by modern technology. They tweet and fly, pick up their fancy lattes, take their youth-enhancing shots at spas, drive computer directed cars, yet when it comes to any science that impinges on their gravy train of K Street lobbyists and the free-flowing money that is funneled their way, science becomes pure bunk.

They prefer stupid, cute-talking bobble heads to thoughtful men and women.

They prefer “common-sense” to education, except when they visit the doctor or the dentist or the accountant or the lawyer, or the airport pilot. Education is for elitists, who are people who want to be better than the average person, meaning they get embarrassed when they haven’t a damn clue what is being said.

They are all for individuality, and they mean that they will say that everyone is equal, and you can just do the best you can. If it don’t work out, why that poor house thing back in the twenties wasn’t so bad, and we got a lot of free road work done. See don’t you feel better knowing you are paying for your own gruel?

They want to, therefore, end social security, cuz individuals properly prepare for their own old age. John-Boy is remembered fondly and surely was going to care for his ma and pa. You don’t need medicare either since health care is no right but a privilege reserved for those who have managed to acquire sufficient funds to pay for it.

There is no need either for unemployment benefits because it’s your job to foresee that free markets might end your job. Worse, if you are so down and out as that, you probably are not of sufficient moral character to withstand the urge to just sit on your ass and suck off the rest of us anyway, and we can’t have that.

Food stamps? Hunger builds character. See the above regarding unemployment benefits regarding your unfitness for food.

Housing? Ditches are quite comfortable in summer I hear.

And let’s not forget the churches. Our fine Christian houses of worships are dedicated to helping the “truly” poor, whatever the hell that means. Not so much non-Christian houses of worship which are really just oxymorons, cuz that’s what my Jezus said, after all, somewhere; at least he implied it.

I mean two thousand years of working on that issue, is a good start!

Immigrants were us two hundred or so years ago, and that was fine. Everyone knows white trash from Europe beats red skins any day. And immigrants are really good at cleaning houses and mowing lawns and picking fruit. They don’t want hardly anything for the privilege. But too many? Oh now, that makes you an ALIEN and an ILLEGAL.

Those words are words of fear, because damn, I’m following all the good rules set up by my betters, and fuck, life is still not any better, so somebody is to blame, and my betters say it’s THEM.

So, we can hate us some Mexicans and, hell all of South America pretty much just cuz. But we will not hate the Cubans, at least the rich ones who escaped Fidel. They are not aliens or illegals, but good people who lost their wealthy land holdings and much to be commiserated with.

We can hate us some Arabs, as many as we want and wherever we want, because we just want their oil, them that got it at least. The rest? Who cares?

We can ignore all our history and all of the worlds for that matter just because it interferes with the narrative we have to tell ourselves today to get to sleep. I mean the past is the past, why dwell on uncomfortable things like slavery and partitioning and supporting dictators and crummy stuff like that. It just makes me feel bad, and, after all, we have to deal with TODAY right?

Let’s make history a quest to make our kids good Americans! And we know what will do that. Put God back in school! In fact, let’s turn over education our youth to private enterprise, cuz they will do the job better and cheaper! And they will never have an ulterior motive to teach our kids anything that was wrong, or quietly made themselves look like the best thing since sliced bread, will they?

Let’s continue to push for not letting those who think against us vote. Let’s continue to make judges do what we want them too.

Let’s put a gun in every graduate’s hand. And I ain’t talkin’ about graduating from college, or even high school. Grade school is old enough to understand proper gun usage. Carry it proudly son. It’s what the Founding Fathers wanted for sure.

This is what the Grand Overly Dead Party thinks. Now, if you can come up with how to make this funny, do tell. I can’t come up with anything. Not a damn thing. A wake? I can come up with that, but not comedy.

glenn-beck-goes-crazy-in-radio-show-pin-head-funny-comedy

 

 

 

Obama is For Life-I’m for Death

groucho i'm against it So we can start off with the “this is much ado about nothing” which of course begs the question, “why bother?”

Cuz a girl’s gotta write since it’s my passion, and there is always the miniscule hope, (for we all know that it springs eternal) that some poor bastard out there who was “damn the President for dissin’ Christians” will awaken from the fog of dissonance and the clear bell of enlightenment will ring forth: “I was once stupid and now I am not.”

Such is at least my justification for this essay.

I just happened to be tuned in the other morning as the President gave the traditional speech at the National Prayer Meetin’ which is held annually in Washington where all the sinners come to pretend they are doin’ their very best to apply God’s law as they slip another check from Exxon-Mobile and JP Morgan, into their $3000 suits.

The President, as we all know, has pretty much given up on the idea that facts, and good logic will get him anywhere, and as of late has pursued a policy of “screw you, try to stop me” and a general “fuck you” to Congressional Republicans who are fresh off the latest round of “ain’t got no bootstraps with which to pay for healthcare? Well die, you dog, and make room for those who do.”

As every good American knows, there’s the guys in the black hats (bad) and the guys in the white hats (good) always near to the scene. America is built upon this scenario and we have all the cheesy old westerns to prove it. Let us introduce the latest and best entry into the black hats category. A group known as ISIS (not to be confused with an Egyptian god) or ISIL if you have a clue what Levant means.

ISIL is a slipshod group of thugs who claim a perverted understanding of Islam which they use to justify their attempts to take over the world. Since their threat is pretty much everywhere, that means just about everyone else gets to be the guys in the white hats, but Merika of course always has to lead, cuz we are the super, super white hats.

Anyway, if you hadn’t noticed, we have a fair share of Arab Muslims (and Arabs in general) who live in the US, and boy I sure wouldn’t want to be them, since Americans are flighty people who tend to assess blame against whole swaths of people since it’s just easier. We learned that from the movies too, where it’s often best to “shoot first and ask questions later.” Anyway, even the dumbest of President (that would be you Dubya) have realized that it’s really not a good idea to let the great stupid mobs of American whiteness carry on in this manner, and so they are always at pains of ‘splainin’ to the stupid white people that NOT ALL ARABS ARE MUSLIMS AND MORE IMPORTANT NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE KILLERS. In fact the huge majority are not, but are just peace-loving, family-seeking individuals like you and me.

Now Dubya can say nice things about Arab Muslims, and even hold hands with them, and nobody thinks a thing bad about it.  bush-holds-hands-11-9-10 He can even share a short peck and not even be thought particularly gay. Just good old American manners.

And he can say all kinds of nice things about Muslims to remind dumb American white people that it’s never a good idea to paint a brush too broad.

“Ambush-saudierica treasures the relationship we have with our many Muslim friends, and we respect the vibrant faith of Islam which inspires countless individuals to lead lives of honesty, integrity, and morality. This year, may Eid also be a time in which we recognize the values of progress, pluralism, and acceptance that bind us together as a Nation and a global community. By working together to advance mutual understanding, we point the way to a brighter future for all.” Presidential Message Eid al-Fitr December 5, 2002

But when President Obama reminds us that there are bad people in all religions historically who have done really bad things

Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history.  And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ. . .So this is not unique to one group or one religion.  There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.  In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try.

the hue and cry from the extreme right in this country rose like a phoenix, screaming that such utterly evil words had never been spoken in all of our democracy.  Former Governor of Virginia, Jim Gillmore was “outraged” having never heard a more terrible thing from the lips of a President. Santorum and Limbaugh chimed in with their mortification of Christianity today being compared to the unspeakable ISIS killers. And on it went, the rallying cry being “this is not a moral equivalency!!”

And it was not suggested as such either, if you read the text.

It was meant to remind everyone that while the killings by ISIS are horrific, we as humans have been doing horrific things to each other since the inception of so-called civilization, and a good deal of it has been veiled in perverted religious beliefs. People find it most convenient to put on the mask of religion to disguise their blatant lust for power and to express their hatred and fear. It has always been so. ISIS is no different in that respect than all the others. It is no more heinous, no more bloody certainly, and no more representative of the faith it espouses than any of the others were.

A few examples should suffice.

jesse-washington-lot13093-no.38 African-Americans in this country were often burned at the stake during slavery and Jim Crow. If you don’t think it was done in the name of Christianity, then read the words of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stevens:

[T]he first government ever instituted upon the principles in strict conformity to nature, and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society … With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material-the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so.

It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of His ordinances, or to question them. For His own purposes, He has made one race to differ from another, as He has made “one star to differ from another star in glory.” The great objects of humanity are best attained when there is conformity to His laws and decrees, in the formation of governments as well as in all things else. Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws.

The charred body of Jesse Washington pictured above was in 1905 in Waco. The deaths of countless other African-Americans during Jim Crow by lynching, by the KKK (which always has a “Christian” front), occured. George Wallace invoked the name of God dozens of times in his 1963 inaugural  address where he also famously uttered the words, “Segregation now. . .segregation tomorrow. . .segregation forever.” 

The extreme Right-Wingers will tell you that the Crusades were wars of defense. Yet the arguable owners of that land were Palestinians and Jews. Muslims lay claim based on Muhammad. Yet Christians have no real claim certainly any greater than Jews or Muslims. All claim the area as holy.  Yet when the first Crusade ended, the city of Jerusalem was cleared of all non-Christians, and by cleared I mean murdered. Jews who barricaded themselves in their synagogues were burned to death and survivors sold into slavery. All told the Crusades occurred over about 200 years, ending in 1291 or so.

When Saladin recaptured Jerusalem, only then were Jews allowed to return and live in relative freedom.  This was in 1187, nearly a hundred years later.

They claim that the Inquisition was “political” as if that means something.

In fact the Inquisition was instituted by Pope Innocent III and set up by Pope Gregory IX. Confessors to heresy were burned alive. In 1242 the Talmud was condemned and burnings of Jews began in France in 1288. The Inquisition was begun in Spain for fear of “secret Jews” and the Conversos (those that had converted at pain of death in the first place and were suspected of retaining their true Judaic beliefs). In Seville alone more than 700 Jews were burned to death. By the time it ended in 1808, nearly 32,000 died by fire.

And the Inquisition was not just in Spain and France. It spread to Portugal and then to New World colonies and throughout Asia as well. 

We need not but mention the Troubles in Ireland in which religion was the division between sides. Or that of India/Pakistan again, where religion affiliation defined the sides.

It is not that religion perverts human souls, but that some small sick group humans use religion to perpetrate their own evils upon the world.

President Obama, in the hopes of tamping down the ugly nativism that is so beginning to plague this nation with its ugly hate, attempted to remind us that we all have blood upon our hands. ISIS is but the latest in a long line of evil people doing evil things in the name of their perverted version of God.

** Let me recommend Jeff Sharlet’s book The Family which documents the shady and weird folks behind the National Prayer Breakfast.

**Also a great read is Karen Armstrong’s Fields of Blood which argues that religion has played  a lesser role in most violence historically, however much it may have been the cover story. I’ve not read this but I’ve read others of hers and she is a uniquely qualified religious scholar who is highly respected for her scholarship. She was once a nun herself.

 

 

 

An Open Letter to Stupid People (written in crayon for your comfort)

stupid3 Okay, I know this is hard. Life is hard. I’m trying to keep this humorous because a lot of smart people read this, and frankly, you stupid people bore them, hence the levity. But I am serious. You gotta stop being so stupid.

First let us define terms. For you stupid people, it’s what we smart people do when we want to discuss a subject. It keeps us all on the same page if you can catch that drift.

Stupid: having or showing a lack of ability to learn and understand things.

Here’s some synonyms (words that mean stupid)

airheaded birdbrained bonehead boneheaded brain-dead brainless bubbleheaded chuckleheaded dense dim dim-witted doltish dopey dopy dorky dull dumb dunderhead empty-headed fatuous gormless half-witted knuckleheaded lamebrain lamebrained oafish obtuse opaque pinheaded senseless simple slow slow-witted soft softheaded thick thickheaded thick-witted unintelligent unsmart vacuous weak-minded.

Stupid may be inherent (big word meaning you’re born with it) or simply the result of being either unexposed to information or pure laziness. If it’s the former, we commiserate and have one sentence for you to memorize: MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND STAY OUT OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS. If you are unexposed to information, tell us how to help you. If you are the latter–GET OFF YOUR ASS BEFORE WE GET REALLY MAD.

We smart people are well aware that progress in civilizing the world occurs if there are only 10% of us, since we find you stupid people everywhere. Since God would not make things this way (we surely trust), your very existence proves Darwin was right. I know, it’s too hard for you to understand, but trust me, it’s true.

We are prepared to shoulder our burden of running the world, but you guys, fueled by jealousy it seems, continue to meddle in things you can’t or won’t understand. It’s time to stop, since you are on the brink of catapulting us all over the precipice of no return.

Worse yet, there are a whole brand of mostly not so dumb people out there that prey upon your determination to not know as much as a rock. They are called all sorts of names, but politicians is one of them. Advertisers is another, shyster  is another.  There are many. They exist to get you to do stupid things by tickling your brain just enough make you think you are acting smart. You are not. You are either giving them your money or your precious “freedoms”.

For instance, they have convinced you that you don’t need to do any study, because common sense is good enough to decide most things. It is not. Common sense, is well, common. It’s what makes you pee in an appropriate facility rather than the potted plant in the living room. It can be used only for really basic things. It will not explain to you anything much about economics on the national scale or  the age of the earth.

They have told you that science is “suspicious”. It is not. It’s why a ton of you are alive today. Advances in medicine, metallurgy, chemistry, and so forth means that many of you are not dead from things that killed your caveman brothers a long time ago. They tell you that scientists don’t believe in God, which is not actually true, (many do), but also has no correlation to doing research accurately. (Correlation means that there is a relationship between two things, as in causation).

Tip: you cannot shortcut the discovery of truth by reading any ONE book. It requires the reading of many. Yes, bible readers, this means you. While the bible contains a good deal of useful information, it is not God’s manual. It was written by PEOPLE for more reasons that Carter has liver pills.

It is not our fault that you decided that college was “not fun” or “too hard” or “not the social party” you expected, and so quit for that little no-thought job you exist in today, or your small business making furnace filters. There is nothing wrong in doing the jobs you do, nothing at all, and if we are all going to be happy and comfortable somebody has to make coasters after all. But this doesn’t entitle you to sit at the big people’s table and tell us your views on the situation in Yemen. That requires that you actually know something.

You see, you are entitled to an opinion, and you can have it on just about anything you desire. But you see, having an opinion means little. My dog has an opinion on what he should eat and how much of it he should eat. I don’t often agree. And I am right and he is wrong, because he’s a dog. You are the dog here. Opinions have to be based on things called verifiable facts, logic and scary stuff like that. Otherwise they are a waste of everyone’s time.

The fact that some people encourage you and tell you you are right changes nothing. Refer back to the explanation of politicians and shysters.

stupid4 Part of your problem is that you are afraid that because you don’t understand something, people will take advantage of you. That’s why you express a distrust for smart people and call them “elite intellectuals”. While we sympathize with your fear, the answer to this problem is not turning to people who talk to you in simple words and tell you you are right. Again, refer to shyster.

The answer is two-fold. Either stay the fuck out of stuff you don’t understand, or actually learn something.

You may have missed it, but there are places called libraries in most every town and they are filled with books about all kinds of subjects. Try using one some time. It may surprise you.

The Internet is a fine place to learn, but when you are taking baby steps, it’s best to be careful. Not everything you read there is accurate, in fact most of it probably isn’t. Until you have developed a modicum of “critical reading and thinking skills” be wary of the Internet.

Some rules of the road:

  1. If it sounds like it’s something you would like, treat it with caution, look for the shyster!
  2. If it tells you that you are the real strength of America, look for the shyster.
  3. If it gives you simplistic answers that are painless to implement, look for the shyster.
  4. If it mentions the word “trickle down” run like hell.

SOME BASIC FACTS THAT YOU MUST LIVE WITH:

  1. The earth is round.
  2. The universe is really really old, like in billions.
  3. God did not make everything in six days.
  4. Darwin was essentially right, you were once pond scum.
  5. Vaccines do not cause autism and they are safe for the vast majority of people.
  6. Climate change is real and man-made and we have to fix it.
  7. There is a limit to fossil fuels. God won’t make any more for you.
  8. Whether God exists or not is a personal conclusion and it’s none of your business what others conclude.
  9. Nobody “chooses” their sexual orientation. It just is.
  10. When people live in communities, it means that not everybody gets to do what they want no matter how much they want to do it.
  11. EVERYONE is entitled to be fed, clothed, housed, educated, and maintained as a basic human right.

If you disagree with any of the above, you need to shut the fuck up, because YOU ARE STUPID.

In return for being good, we will make sure that you get the full benefits of #11.

Come join us! We want to welcome you to the ranks of the intelligent.

stupid6

Fundamentalism Gone Sideways

a-hyprocrite-religion-fundamentalist-demotivational-poster-1282266143 Anyone who knows me at all well, knows that I’m a bit of a crusader when it comes to fundamentalism. Since I fully admit that, I never ask people to accept my conclusions without good documentation.

I’ll try to be nice here, but please don’t hold me to it.

First of all, fundamentalist Christians refuse to accept that this description to the left is actually what is described in Genesis as the structure of the earth and universe. As you can see, it is not a globe at all, but rather a series of pillars, o’er covered with a “dome” with water above it, and of course below. The sun and visible planets and stars are inside the dome.

If you read the flood stories, you will note that this depiction allows for the waters to both arise from the earth and the sky. It also accounts for the oft-heard phrase, “four corners of the earth”. The “earth” was actually a flat disk. This is acknowledged by Jewish experts who ought to understand their own texts better than others, one would think.

Since even the most staunch Christian fundie accepts the spherical actuality of the globe, you can see why they can’t accept this actual description of Genesis but must fudge it to account for reality.

My point is simply that fundamentalism is based in large part on a fanatical belief in the truthiness of a book, and it is a self-serving literal-ness at best. In this they are no different from other fundamentalists in other religions. As any Muslim will tell you, fundamentalist jihadists misread and twist the Quran in a similar fashion in order to get it  to “say what they want it to say.”

Suggesting that all fundamentalists are cut from the same cloth,  sets the Christian right on edge. They deny it of course. Indeed if you look at the Wikipedia entry on fundamentalism, you discover that it is not limited to even religion at all but pertains to any ideology which is reduced to an irreducible set” of precepts which cannot be deviated from in any respect. A strict literalism is imposed as to the agreed upon rules.

Bob Altemeyer has done some exceptional work in this area, and makes his main research “The Authoritarians” avail as a PDF file here.  The Wikipedia entry, while certainly nothing  but a starting point, has a fine bibliography to get your started located here.  Psychology has done much work in the area and you might start with this Pathos article, which will lead you to books and studies. Another well-researched book might be The Fundamentalist Mind by Strozier, Termen, Jones, and Boyd. This should help get you started if you wish to learn more. Again, don’t accept my word for it, go to the actual sources.

My point is not to rehash what is common knowledge, among anyone who wants to understand why we are troubled in this country with a segment of society which continues to place it’s personal religious interests above the common good, and most would say common sense. It is rather to point out by the above, that these are not choices made by rational minds, but rather what certain brain configurations are prone to fall into. Since in most cases it is extremely hard to eradicate or upset these mindsets, the only solution is to be ever vigilant to keep them out of the decision-making arenas of our common lives.

This we have done a poor job of doing.

Since we believe that religion is a matter of personal preference, we are loath to interrupt those preferences by any sort of “test” to eliminate those belief systems that threaten us all. And I agree that we should continue to do so. But we must also recognize that there are those among us who want a world much different from the one we inhabit. It is their stated purpose and their heartfelt belief that we should all be forced if necessary to accept their world vision in the guise of a government reactive to their vision of God.

They believe in a nutshell that all laws must be referenced to a book, the Bible in this case, and that of course they will tell you what the Bible says should be the law.

You may or not be aware that James Inhofe, (R-Ok) is the new chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Inhofe has for years argued that climate change is a hoax. Inhofe has received, tens of thousands of dollars from fossil fuel interests to fund his campaigns. Of course he tells you that he is a true believer, and perhaps that is true. It is always hard to say. But in any case, the Senator is prepared to argue that 98% of the scientific community is wrong on the issue of man-made climate change, and that his fundamentalist-driven approach is true.

What Inhofe admits, is that it doesn’t matter if climate change is occurring. Man is arrogant to go against God in this matter. As his proof he raises Genesis 8:22 which is God’s promise:

As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

Of course they also interpret that “as long as the earth endures” involves a “self-correcting resilience” that they nowhere find in the bible, but assume.

What I am being asked to accept is that the US and by implication no one else, should do anything about the clear evidence of a catastrophe in the making because of what a few people who are in no way experts in either the bible or the science of climate have decided is best for us all. Are you willing to stake the lives of your children and grandchildren on their being right?

Is Inhofe any different from the thousands who have gone to stand upon hilltops on the appointed day and hour to await the second coming, always to return home at dawn, a home that often no longer is theirs since they have sold or given away everything to insure God knows them as the true believers they profess to be?

Are we to go instead to live in Chief Justice Roy Moore’s world in Alabama? Judge Moore tells the Governor in that state to ignore a legal judicial pronouncement from a federal court on the illegality of a  gay marriage ban because the judge has determined that the bible told him otherwise, and by fiat he proclaims the federal court decision as “unconstitutional.”

So much for the rule of law. While running for governor himself, Moore decried evolution teaching as “distorting our way of thinking”. Yet, the electorate in Alabama saw fit to elect him as Chief Judge of their Supreme Court, making him the greatest interpreter of the law in the state. This is sanity?

My point is that these people are dangerous to OUR life. We can laugh at them, we can face palm their stupidity and their childish emotional needs all we want, but they have carefully and for the most part quietly wormed their way into positions of power within our country. They have infiltrated school boards, city councils, state legislatures, and obviously on into our higher governmental positions where they, armed with pseudo-science and pseudo-theology, restructure our laws to fit their kingdom to come as they view it.

We ignore them at our peril. If we don’t stand against this sort of soft-headedness, we cannot expect an electorate who by and large is too busy to think these things through themselves to do it for us. We will find ourselves soon before the modern-day Inquisition defending truth against a country that is now governed by a rabble of no longer able or willing to discern truth from fantasy religious fanatics. They are NO DIFFERENT THAN JIHADISTS PEOPLE.

You have been warned.