I Think, Therefore I Am...Someone who Writes

I'm Dave, I'm 23, a college graduate who clearly does not have a job.  This blog contains my writing about the things I consider important in life, including but not necessarily limited to politics, philosophy, religion (from an academic perspective), science, economics, etc. Also, included are links to my views on each major political issue. I'm also going to be posting chapters of the book on climate change I wrote for myself, and some of the chapters I've been working on for a religion book I'm writing for myself. If you know me and were expecting a bunch of funny derp takes on life I'm sorry to disappoint but this is where I write very unintelligently about the serious topics running through my brain.

Bobby Jindal Wants GOP To Stop Being Stupid, Thinks It Is Much Better to Pretend to be Stupid to Maintain Power

       Remember when Bobby Jindal said Republicans had to “stop being the party of stupid?” Maybe he should take his own advice and stop pretending to be ignorant about climate change, creating stupid energy proposals to reflect such faked ignorance, all so he can retain political power in a state that is both conservative and a huge part of the oil industry, and pursue political power as a member of a party that panders to the reactionary views of the, well, ignorant and stupid. Yesterday Jindal called the Obama administration “science deniers.” The term “science denier” is a loaded one, because it implies that the accused are acting in manners inconsistent with what the evidence shows actions ought to be, essentially inferring that they are irrational and blind to discovered realities. One could certainly make the argument that the Obama adminstration’s actions as it pertains to oil and gas drilling, exports, and the lack of action on investments in renewable energy sources, or taxation of fossil fuel burning is inconsistent with the science of climatology they publicly claim to acknowledge and understand. However, that’s not at all what Jindal is referring to. Rather, he is pulling the latest conservative political trick, which is to call climate science accepting liberals “science deniers,” so a conservative constituent base that erroneously thinks scientists are divided on global warming, or are in on some huge global warming conspiracy, and that some sort of “true science” found by “silenced and censored” researchers exists, will believe he is referring to that “censored science” that doesn’t actually exist. To everyone else, he can say, oh, no, no, I’m not referring to some conspiracy of silenced anti-global warming science when I say Obama “denies science,” rather I am referring to his rejection of “the science of economics” and various studies that show if we ended all the environmental regulations tomorrow and did stuff like built the Keystone pipeline unemployment would go down X% and GDP would grow X%.  This strategy allows someone like Jindal to have his cake and eat it too. He gets the crazy conservative global warming conspiracy votes with what the statement appears to say on the surface while technically getting to cite some economic study showing that if oil drilling regulation X was eliminated it would create jobs, and so Obama is a “science denier” for not getting rid of it, or something to that affect.
        Of course, the problem is that if Jindal wants to be mainstream-acceptable he has to accept climate science and if you accept climate science you understand that there is more to consider when deciding if you should drill for more oil or something aside from “how many jobs will this add next quarter?” It becomes a complicated balance of managing a successful economy today, transitioning it to the energy sources of tomorrow, and doing it all in a quick enough way to not destroy the future of the world, but not so fast that you destroy the current economy. There are genuine debates to be had about how this should all be done, but those debates can only take place once you accept climate science as one of the facts around the topics you are discussing and debating. So, presumably Jindal would want to confirm his acceptance of climate science, right? But he doesn’t. When he’s asked whether he does, he pulls another one of the latest conservative climate tricks by saying that his position is, “the climate’s always changing.” It’s a technical truth, but really not one that relates to the question. Once again he gets to have his cake and eat it too. He gets to make his crazy constituent base think he’s saying man isn’t causing global warming, while at the same time having the out of telling the mainstream folks that he was just providing a scientific observation that lots of things are always changing the climate. Okay, Bobby, so with the climate always changing and all, in what manner do you think it’s changing right now and why? You’d think he’d be okay with saying it’s warming because of the human burning of fossil fuels, right? Well, he isn’t. Instead he says that he’ll “leave it to the scientists to determine how much (humans are causing global warming) and what that means.” Good for you, Bobby, I’m glad you leave it to them because they say the evidence shows we are damn sure humans are the cause and that results over this next century will be positively devastating to us. Given that you are leaving your opinion to be molded by them, rather than learning the evidence for yourself, you’d think you’d be quite concerned and wanting to move the world away from fossil fuels. Ahh, but you are Governor of Louisiana full of nutty Tea Party folks and lots of oil refineries, export docks, and offshore drilling capacity…whoops.
         So, if the “climate’s always changing,” and he’s going to “leave it to the scientists” to tell us how so, because of what, and what that means for our future, what exactly is Obama in “science denial” about? Jindal didn’t really explain that, but he did explain his “energy plan,” which is basically to drill for way more oil and gas, ending all kinds of environmental regulations, and building Keystone XL. Essentially, despite Obama being one of the biggest oil and gas enabling Presidents of all time, even bigger than his predecessor Bush, and in spite of America producing more fossil fuels than ever before, having higher carbon emissions than ever before, and exporting more fossil fuels than ever before, Jindal thinks the science shows that Obama needs to drill more, frack more, export more, and build more pipelines. But what about that whole climate change thing? Well, for that Jindal uses the latest conservative line about “wanting international cooperation,” (which is code for, we burn our fossil fuels to get richer and the rest of the world will somehow magically fix that climate thing, not a true call for any kind of global legislation….I mean can you imagine people like Jindal’s constiuents dealing with anything that deals with the UN?), and when pressed to publicly acknowledge that he accepts climate science he merely says his energy plan (you know the one about more oil, gas, and pipelines with fewer regulations and ignoring clean energy, leaving that to “the international community”) is not here to “litigate” whether manmade climate change is real or not. If one could sound any more like a pussy who understands the science and what must be done, but can’t actually acknowledge the science or take any steps to fix the problem because his power is dependent on the real science deniers voting for him, you’d have to show me, because I doubt a better example exists.
           Yet, what Jindal (or at least the caricature Jindal plays in political theater) and other conservatives really think is to be feared when it comes to climate change can be understood through another one of his comments during yesterday’s press conference. If you ever wanted to know why accepting climate science and taking steps to fight it is so hard for conservatives here is why, in the words of Jindal: He warns of it being a “Trojan horse” that the “left” is trying to use. He says, “It’s an excuse for the government to come in and tell us what kind of homes we live in, what kind of cars we drive, what kind of lifestyles we can enjoy. It’s an excuse for some who never liked free-market economies, who never liked rapid economic growth. And we need to guard against those who would hide behind climate change as an excuse to slow down our economy.” That right there is why climate change freaks out conservatives and leads them to evade science acceptance and political action. They fear that it’s a problem that is too good to be true for the anti-capitalist, anti-freedom boogeyman they fear so deep in their hearts. Because it’s a problem that unfettered capitalism and freedom have played a major role in creating and they love capitalism and freedom so much they are afraid that people will use fixing the climate problem as an excuse to attack and attempt to destroy capitalism and freedom.
         Of course, the climate change action movement merely wants to fix the climate problem. In fact, as is often pointed out the movement goes out of its way, bending over backwards for free markets, capitalism, freedom, and other associated words that make Ayn Rand lovers teary eyed. People just want to solve the problem, and if solving it means taking a very business-friendly approach to do so, to search high and low for the approach that does the smallest amount of harm to capitalism as is absolutely possible, then that’s what will be done. It’s why I’ve been a part of groups like CCL that advocate for “market based” solutions to the problem; proposals endorsed by the few Republicans that ever publicly took a stand of accepting and fighting climate change (and of course were promptly voted out of office in GOP primaries). Much like the healthcare debate where people were happy to go with the “market solution” of the 1990’s, rather than things like public option or single payer (which is now of course the vilified Obamacare, that evil communist law our Muslim Black Panther President signed that most center-left people like me hate for being too far right), people that care about the future of our world will advocate for less effective, but still substantive “market solutions” to climate. But the mere fact that it’s a problem perpetuated in large part by unregulated business freedom, with the quickest and most significant potential gains lying over on the collectivist end of the spectrum has conservatives shitting themselves, because unlike healthcare, it’s an issue that will affect everyone all the time, not just when they get sick.
         To be afraid to acknowledge climate science is sound and go after the best solutions (which aren’t what big business would be happiest with) because you are afraid people who hate capitalism and freedom are using it as an excuse to destroy them, would be analogous to saying the national debt isn’t a problem and the best solutions to it aren’t to be considered because people who hate government are just going to use the debt as an excuse to destroy and attack government. That would be silly. Bobby Jindal is more than silly, he’s more than stupid. What he is is something much worse: a man pretending to be stupid because he’s afraid acknowledging reality will destroy something he loves.

Beating Your Kid Is A Reflection of the Class, Race, and Degree of Religiosity To Which You Belong

     The Adrian Peterson situation is the result of the racial, religious, and class systems used in America. Think about it, in life we all have to take orders sometimes, but only a few of us end up in positions that encourage free-thinking, creativity, and individualism while most of us end up in positions that encourage following orders, blending in, and not asking questions. People raise their children based on the expectations they have for that child. If they expect that they will have an opportunity to be one of the people that gets to think for themselves (the CEO’s, scientists, professors, lawyers, doctors, judges, investment consultants, legislators, teachers, corporate vice presidents, nurses, and other such types of people in this world), they nurture them, and if they think the child will grow up to be a subservient laborer of some kind they will raise them authoritatively. Obviously, America has historically set up different expectations in different racial communities. Furthermore, America’s racial attitudes have produced different results for different races. Blacks disproportionately expect to be poor, so they raise their children authoritatively, and they also end up poor more often, which makes them more religious. It’s no secret that poor people are more religious, and while we tend to think of religion as a white, southern thing, blacks are also extremely religious, in large part because it was the only thing they could ever cling to for hope. Well, religion also teaches you to be more submissive and quite frankly more authoritatively violent within the “traditional” family unit. How fathers are supposed to treat their children and wives according to, say the Bible, is pretty much how authoritative parents raising their children with the expectation they will grow up to be submissive laborers do indeed raise their kids. Being black leads to low expectations, which leads to authoritative parenting, which leads to further poverty, which leads to religion, which leads to further encouragement of authoritative parenting, and the cycle repeats and repeats.
        The divide in the public response to Peterson having allegedly beaten two of his toddler aged children to the point of bruising and bleeding is drawn along class lines far more so than race, although certain races definitely belong more prominently to different classes (and also religious cultures). The people who grew up as the sons and daughters of the assembly line workers, the construction workers, the waiters, the cashiers, the miners, the drillers, the truck drivers, the janitors, the installation guy, the salesman, the logger, the cop, the military member, or any other form of labor probably grew up getting beatings like that to teach them that in life you shut up and do what the boss says, with the parents being the “practice bosses.” Those people are okay with Peterson’s actions. The people that grew up as the children of parents who worked in white collar, upper level, free thinking, order-giving, rather than taking type of professions were challenged as children to decide for themselves what was right and wrong, to defend their positions, to question authority, to question norms, to resist tradition, to think outside the box, and were showered with love, nurturing and freedom. Those people are not okay with Peterson’s actions.
       Adrian Peterson is now rich because we like to go into incredibly poor communities and have the children scrape and claw for the right to become one of our gladiators in athletic arenas. We know they will be the best because they will work the hardest to get there since they have no other option aside from going down to the coal mine, or to the street corner to sell drugs, or to the McDonald’s to ask if you want fries with that. They are desperate, they are hungry. We exploit that hunger that our inequality manufactured in the first place, and for the best of the best amongst the hungry we pay enormous amounts of money because lots of mostly white folks from that higher level, nurturing parent class, with enough money to buy crap the laborers of the world make for small salaries, will watch the athletic spectacles and buy those products advertised during timeouts.  The companies pay big money to TV stations to advertise during these athletic spectacles and the TV stations pay the leagues big money to put the games on their stations. A small part of this huge windfall profit that is still massive in and of itself goes to players like Adrian Peterson.
          So, he’s rich now, but he grew up in that authoritative culture of desperate low wage, submissive black laborers who went to authoritative black Protestant churches. He only knows how to get his children to respond to fear rather than love, because fear is all the impoverished and religious minorities of America have as a means of survival. This is all very fucking sad.

Greatest Show on Earth Review

    Last week I read “What’s the Matter With Kansas” and left my amazon review on here, and this week I leave you with my review of “The Greatest Show on Earth”

I felt as though this was an informative read, but not necessarily what it was advertised to be. I was hoping that Dawkins had simply laid out laymen’s explanations of the various forms of the strong evidence for evolution clean and crisp, but this was unfortunately a bit too filled with digressions. Throughout the book he’d go into long-winded explanations of various things you can study in zoology, chemistry, even physics, which are yes all well explained and good things to go learn, but not so much on point in a book that was supposed to be his one where he laid out the simplistic version of evolution evidence in boom-boom-boom fashion. Additionally, I felt he wasted time putting in whole chapters that didn’t need to be included, like his opening chapter dealing with the semantics of words like fact, theory, and hypothesis, or his closing chapter that served as more or less an apology for the implications of evolution being true (which, as he ironically earlier points out, is pointless because it’s about what the evidence shows not argumentum ad consequentiam). Furthermore, I felt like it was a mistake to dedicate whole chapters to things like the evidence for the age of the earth, or basics of how gene pools work. In my view the book ought to have had a brief intro, then the evidence from chapter 5 through chapter 12, as it went through watching real-time evolution in the lab (ch 5), to fossils (chs 6 and 7, and really there was no need to avoid conflating human evolution fossil evidence with the more general topic), embryology (ch 8), the geographical spread of species (ch 9), the molecular evidence (ch 10), the history of evolution written into current creatures bodies (ch 11), and the structure of ecosystems being non-centrally planned (ch 12). I would have reorganized each chapter into two sub-sections; evidence for evolution, and evidence against the existence of a purposeful central planner, talking about what we find in each of those areas of evidence that demonstrates that evolution happened and then a section in the chapter explaining what we’d find in the lab, the fossil record, embryology, geographical spread, molecular evidence, and the structure of creatures and ecosystems if there were a central planner, talking about how we don’t see each of those things.
         This doesn’t mean that the evidence he presented in the book was anything less than throughoughly spectacular. Rather, it’s just that his detours, unnecessary chapters, long-winded way of explaining things, and poor overall structure of the various needed chapters probably left people who weren’t already well-educated a bit confused and too tired to finish or understand all they’d taken in. If you already understand the basics of evolution, his detours are actually pretty interesting and you’d probably enjoy reading this, but if you are trying to say educate a young child or convince an evolution-denying friend to be exposed to some basic evidence this isn’t a great choice in my opinion. Finally, as much as it doesn’t bother me as an atheist, I really wish that he would have kept religion completely out of this book, because any mention, however small, and no matter how much he would say it wasn’t a book intending to slam religion, it hurts the cause of educating people in science to present their superstitious beliefs as a barrier to their enlightenment that you personally resent. Just show them the science and hopefully their worldviews will be molded around the evidence rather than the other way around.

1 Semantics of words like facts, theory, hypothesis, etc
2 Basics of genetics
3 Artificial vs. natural selection
4 Sets stage for how old world is
5 Watching bacteria evolve in the lab
6 Fossil evidence
7 Human fossils
8 Embryology evidence
9 Geographical and chronological spread evidence
10 Molecular evidence
11 The history of evolution in the creatures of today
12 World not efficient or favoring any group
13 This way of understanding life is cool

Communism Failed Because of Human Nature….And That Human Nature Comes From Evolution….Which Will Doom Us Like Any Other Animal….Unless We Accept That We Are Our Own Gods…..And Get To Work On Creating Collectivism and Sustainability

     Anyone who’s interested in reading about how the laws of nature inevitably lead individualistic, violent societies like ours to total ruin should read the unintended analogies in chapter 12 of Dawkins’ “Greatest Show on Earth” book about evolution. In short, in nature all natural selection cares about is how well equipped an individual is to beat out both rival species and rival members within its own species. So, those creatures that took on random mutations that diverted more of their energy to outcompeting intra and inter species rivals survive and reproduce. That’s good for the lucky individuals, but in the long run it would be better if there were an intelligent central planner who could create and enforce rules and regulations that forced the most powerful, say lions, to share with weaker members of their own species, not take up more finite or limited resources than they need, agree to mutual de-escalations of armament in the battles with the species they compete with etc. In other words if a central planner wanted lions and antelopes to be good at things aside from chasing down antelopes and running away from lions it could mutually stop both of their escalation of predator and evasive prey armament development, leaving them more evolutionary energy to get better at other things. As it is now, they keep getting better and better at hunting and avoiding getting caught, but since they are both improving they are using more and more energy to ultimately end up in the same “place” (i.e. same chance of lion catching antelope and antelope getting away stays the same despite both getting “better” at each task simultaneously). It would be better for them both if they could both stop the arms race, that ultimately leads to “running really fast to stay in the same place” while both getting better at things that have nothing to do with the prey-predator games they play with each other.
        This is analogous to the benefits of de-militarization on a collective global scale. Instead of enemies putting more and more of their money and resources into being prepared to fight each other at the cost of getting to put less and less money into other areas like education or healthcare, all so that they can stay in the same place, mutually agreed to dearmorment is best. Instead of saying, your army has gone from 2 to 3, so mine must now go from 2 to 3, and then the same plays out for 3 to 4 and 4 to 5 and 5 to 6, etc, etc, all the while there is a finite sum amount each society can spend, meaning as the armies grow things must be diverted from elsewhere, we should say, hey I’ll lower from 5 to 4 if you do, and then 4 to 3 and 3 to 2 and 2 to 1 and 1 to 0, so that we can divert more and more of previous violence expenditures towards things that actually better benefit our world. In the animal world since there is no god, nor animals that think with our level of intellect, and no such thing as random genetic mutations that have foresight, the natural process of those that get better and better at killing other species and outcompeting members of their own keep “winning” until those winners eventually create a mutually assured destruction outcome that has been the final result for most all things that have ever lived (most are now extinct, and most if not all that is alive today will someday be extinct). But since we are an intelligent species with foresight who have the capability of “playing intelligent designer” with our own species, we can indeed achieve for our species what would happen in the natural world for all species if there were a divine intelligent designer.
         Additionally, while lions cannot think on our intellectual level and create rules for their own species that would ensure more members of the species survived into the future, and that the way of life for the species remain sustainable into the far future, they are ultimately doomed to have the most powerful individuals amongst their selves live out an evolutionarily brief joyride before all the prey is used up, and their own numbers are astonishingly low, eventually dying themselves due to a lack of a sustainable lifestyle. This is true for all types of animals. However, we have the intellectual capacity to think with the foresight it takes to help our collective species do better in the long run, both from an inequality and sustainability standpoint. If we choose to let go of our evolutionarily programmed impulses and think collectively and futuristically rather than individually and narrowly we can be our own gods that favor ourselves and create a long-term, collective, sustainable success for our own kind.

It's Time To Acknowledge Obama Sucks

Me in italics

This is way too simplistic. Obama doesn’t suck. The system of power sucks. Obama is the executive branch of government. He’s one of three branches - The Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial. I’m plenty aware of how our government is structured. Liberals and Democrats are in charge of about half of the branches (the Executive and the Senate). Republicans and conservatives currently control the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court. I’m plenty aware of which political party has control of what areas of our government. Also, no political party “controls” the Supreme Court. Obviously you are referring to the balance of Democrat President appointed vs. Republican President appointed justices, but SCOTUS having an ideological bend is debatable at best….it’s merely for interpreting the laws ideologically bent legislators create; a job that is supposed to be objective. Certainly it doesn’t always work out that way, but with Kennedy being such a swing vote, and examples like Roberts being the surprising swing vote that tipped the 5-4 decision that upheld the ACA, it’s hard to compare SCOTUS to Congress or the Presidency. I mean Roberts and the ACA would be analogous to John Boehner being a swing vote in favor of a bill introduced by a Dem to pass by one vote…that would never happen, because legislation is written by partisans and in theory interpreted by objective minds. That means that anything he wants to do basically needs to have support from either the Supreme Court or the House - the House to actually pass it and the Supreme Court to uphold it. We all understand the obstructionism in the House, but Obama is well known to be aloof and feeling like he’s above the Tea Party. He is above them intellectually, but his unwillingness to work with cooks is hurting him. LBJ taking people like George Wallace or Strom Thurmond into the Oval Office, shooting the shit with them, and getting them to compromise on something made him great…Obama has LBJ’s agenda but he’s an intellectual elitist who can’t relate to the crazies he must work with to achieve that agenda. This is part of why he sucks. Currently he has very little support in either of the them and it’s forced him to abandon a lot of the policies he wanted to push through. Abandoning his principles is different than engaging and compromising. He sees a group that says it’s my way or the high way and he says, okay it’s your way. That’s weak and it shouldn’t be tolerated. He’s basically a quitter because he’s such an appeaser.

Healthcare: You mightn’t remember but when Obama and the Democrats controlled the Legislative and the Executive he first shopped around full universal healthcare. No I remember lol. Even most Democrats in the House wouldn’t bite because they were elected in already gerrymandered districts where they had little chance at reelection and they firmly said no. Again, it’s a matter of principle. A strong leader would have either been able to get a few rank and file to fall on their swords and rely heavily upon the votes of deep blue gerrymandered beneficiaries, later regaining control in the long run when the benefits were realized by the public, or he/she would have been able to construct a universal healthcare deal that was set up in such a way that the moderates could present it at home as a win for their constituents. His construction of the strategy and his unwillingness to persuade people to risk political careers for historical legacies is a major failure that ultimately will cost many their lives when they still lack access to care for the presumably decades to come before this issue is revisited. He made amendments to his proposals because he had to. Because he needed their votes in the House to actually push healthcare forward. If he was so concerned about his own political situation he wouldn’t have touched healthcare in the first place. He’s concerned mostly with his legacy not his day to day political standing. That’s the problem. His worry about his legacy generally makes him cautious to an extent that ironically will tarnish his legacy. He has no authority to force Democrats in the house to vote for his proposals, obviously. Instead he put forward an amended bill that included input from Democrats and eventually moderate Republicans. No Republicans voted for the ACA. I remember waiting up to watch the vote on the final bill and it was still razor thin. It passed but nobody was certain it would. You have to understand that ever since the New Deal Democrats have been trying to pass healthcare in America. I’m completely aware of all this Obama’s bill was the biggest push forward since that New Deal. The push for Medicare and Medicaid was far more substantive and historically important than this subsidy battle. Since then amendments have had to be made because the Supreme Court said so. There’s literally no other way to get around that apart from Obama personally killing one of the conservative justices, replacing him with a liberal and asking the court to revisit the question. That’s healthcare. 

You’re wrong about his initial political capital. Obama used his political capital, yes on healthcare but also on the stimulus bill. It doesn’t take political capital to go for something most voters wanted at the time. The economy tanked in October 2008 and there was a real fear of another great depression. A manufactured fear from the fiancers, bankers, investors, executives class of ruling capitalists that was intended to serve their interests not ours. He forced through an $800 billion stimulus package that Republicans hated and that’s what started the whole Tea Party thing. It also started the whole Occupy Wall St thing….the stimulus was hated by everyone in the proletariat class, whether their economic and social views typically leaned left or right. It was only because the bourgeois took over the right’s form of protest and astro-tufred it into a further shrill group for their causes that history has started to view opposition to the bailout as a “conservative thing.” It was a united thing that held the potential to really shake up the system and destroy the intra-99% artificial ideological divisions the 1% had long created and perpetuated….that’s precisely why it was so crucial for them to hijack the Tea Party and redivide us into this left vs. right thing instead of a plutocrats vs. masses thing.  You’re right that he actually ran out of political capital though. Saving the global economy requires that. The only thing he saved was the unsustainable series of bubbles and band-aids we’ll continue to go through. Our system as currently constructed is only going to lead to major environmental breakdowns, massive inequality, and super-expensive goods….every once and a while a bubble shows up, it pops, and we stick a band-aid on it and move forward, sort of analogous to environmental disasters and climate change events happening, we clean up, we put up some mitigation strategies, we move on….well eventually there will be an economic bubble that is too big, and when it bursts no band-aid will fix it…just like there are environmental tipping points….the longer we wait to let a popped bubble bleed out, the harder and longer the clean-up….we should have let our inevitably doomed system fail in 2008, instead of kicking the can once more down the road towards the bubbles we can’t fix.

LGBT: I’m gay. And Phyllis Schafely is a woman…your personal anecdote of being gay and being okay with waiting for politicians that would only stand up to gay oppression when it was politically convenient doesn’t make it any less immoral that a supposedly progressive leader wouldn’t stand up for what is right from the start. You probably aren’t in a position where not being able to get married is going to hurt you, but to the gay person whose spouse died in, say 2009 and couldn’t receive Social Security death benefits the problem of DOMA not being more or less repealed as it was in the summer of 2013 would have been more real to you. Or if you were a couple that wanted to adopt children in 2010 but you couldn’t because the federal government didn’t recognize you, it would have been more real, etc, etc. It’s like saying, oh, people with pre-existing conditions when Jimmy Carter was President should have “understood” that it would have hurt the long term path towards healthcare for all if he tried to pursue that for them back then.  I understand why Obama took that approach and I understood it then and I understand it now. He knew he wouldn’t get into power in 2008 if he spoke out for gay marriage. I think you overestimate how much gay marriage would matter to voters in states that went for Obama on 2008’s electoral map…virtually all of those states are not so bigoted that they would have suddenly voted for McCain just because Obama said he was cool with gay marriage, especially after 8 years of Bush. Could it have made him lose Indiana or something like that? Maybe. But it wasn’t like his big electoral pulls were going to go red for a wedge social issue. Polling on the issue was MUCH different in 2008 and If you can’t get elected then you can’t change things. So he stayed quiet on the issue until the tipping point happened and went full force behind it. Yes, America still isn’t a utopia for LGBT rights but it’s the best it’s ever been because of this approach - an approach Bill Clinton took also, btw. He signed DOMA, you should be outraged at him, even if you think he should have kept quiet on gay rights for some long term benefit, I’d love to hear why you think it was necessary for him to sign gay hating legislation for the “benefit” of gays. If the President speaks out on a contentious social issue too soon what happens is that it scares the moderates and it gives the extreme right ammo to paint the President as a radical. If you don’t time this well you’ll end up fucking up LGBT rights for decades. Obama knew this and so did the creators of the West Wing when they dealt with this exact issue in an episode in 2001. The whole not now, maybe later when “we are ready” argument simply delays process. It is those who grow the balls and ovaries to be radicals that ultimately change the system, and there should be no unwritten rule that they always have to be religious leaders and activists of various kinds…they could be Presidents and should be Presidents if our highest office is worth half the dignity we attribute to it. Lead, don’t follow.

Immigration: This is purely timing. He was ready to go ahead with Pathways to Citizenship when the Middle East and Russia blew up again. You said you understand political capital so you should understand why he had to use that capital on ISIS and Ukraine. We only care about those two situations because of resources. We don’t want Putin to expand his economic influence towards EU nations, and we really like oil. Putin is a bad man, ISIS is a bad group, but don’t kid yourself, we did nothing about Rhwuanda, our government never has or will care about humanitarian issues, we care about “American interests” which always have to do with making sure foreign resources aren’t controlled by terrorist groups or facist dictators that won’t let western companies have access. If you could choose fighting that fight or fighting for the dignity of immigrants a true, non-imperialistic, non-consumeristic President would choose the latter. He only has so much. If he can’t get Republicans on side for one of those issues neither of them are going to happen. He chose the more pressing issue, obviously. Probably safe in the knowledge the Hillary will probably be elected in 2016 to continue many of his programmes. Please also don’t forget that the midterms are like a month away so he probably even had Dem Senators on his back. Look, the House is structurally out of play until 2020, so the remainder of his term and the full first term of whoever follows him will go essentially the same way with or without the Senate and as it stands even with his pussying out on immigration they stand about a two thirds chance by most estimates of losing the Senate. He simply isn’t principled, but rather over-calculating and political.

Iraq: This point is just silly. Bush removed a secular leader from power in Iraq in 2003. Saddam was a Sunni, but I understand that you mean he was not a theocrat. He literally lead a government that was secular. That leader was a bad guy, sure, but Iraq was stable because of the power he was able to exert. You can’t have it both ways…you can’t be okay with Saddam gassing Kurds because it leads to “stability” but appalled by ISIS beheading Kurds and other minorities because it is “unstable.” “Stability” as you hear about it on the news is merely a reference to how much economic influence western industry is allowed by whatever bad guy or group is in charge at the time…that region is never peaceful or stable. What happened then was that extreme violence erupted in Iraq and the public lost its appetite for war. The Republicans pushed forward with a troop surge to sort out the violence and it worked but the loss of American prestige meant that Obama had a mandate to withdraw American troops from Iraq when he was elected. He did that. Then because of the political vacuum that the Republicans left open in Iraq ISIS took advantage of the fact that the Iraqi government was facing a constitutional crisis and seized land. Absolutely, Bush left them with a horrible power vacuum…that doesn’t mean that what filled it should be removed and then Obama leave the next President with another power vacuum…it’s cyclical, bad guys take over, we bomb/invade, we create “collateral damage,” the group that was taken out of power recruits frustrated people from that “collateral damage”  and creates a new bad guy group, which overthrows what we set up before we left, and then we are back to square one…at some point we have to just let them fight out their differences and stop pretending that anything beyond our continual intervention is making them hate us, or that their current hatred of us is some legitimate threat to our homeland. From day one when the west drew their borders after WWI we’ve been giving them every reason to hate us…every bit we get less involved we take away more and more of their anti-western hate fuel…but we lose our literal oil fuel in the process; that’s the story of the Middle East. Then they started ethnic cleansing, forced conversion and genocide. They were also discovered to be training their followers on how to commit terrorist attacks in the West. I hate to break it to you, but groups all over the world are doing that every day. You know some of the big names like Hezbollah, Al-Queda, this ISIS offshoot offal-Queda, the Muslim Brotherhood, the old PLO, Boko Haram etc, etc, but ideologies never die, and every day some losers with connections to money are trying to figure out how to blow up some train in London or NYC; it doesn’t mean we need perpetual war.   Obama decided to go with airstrikes and now he’s trying to extend that into Syria. You can call it war all you want but it’s necessary to stabilise that region. ISIS is horrendous and it’s America’s responsibility to clean up the mess it left in 2003 so that Iraq and pretty much the entire western world can be safe. No, it’s not America’s job to police or protect the world, or to try and put out fires it starts. We aren’t as important as we want ourselves to be…we often just make shit worse.

You make good points about what Obama has failed to do and you’re right, he’s a disappointment but so are the times we’re in. He’s dealing with Tea Party crazies in the House, Putin in Eastern Europe and ISIS and Assad in the Middle East. I’m not really sure how your logic works that Putin and Assad are two-thirds of the reason Obama has perpetuated the destruction of civil liberties, the war on drugs, shitty education policy, a lack of a climate change agenda, a punt on immigration, a backing down on gun control etc, etc. Foreign dictators didn’t stop him from making a brave push for things like legalized weed or gay marriage in all 50 states or  carbon tax…they just didn’t….and the Tea Party is something he refuses to try and swallow his pride and work with, while in 09-10 he knew they were taking over after 2010 either way, and he decided he was only going after a bailout of the ruling capitalists and a watered down healthcare bill…he should have gone for so much more. The truth is that no president has dealt with a world like this since Carter and it wasn’t even of his own making. You shouldn’t be so absolute in your views. I don’t think I am, if I were so absolutist I wouldn’t be criticizing the guy I voted for. The world and the systems of power are complicated. I know, I love complexity, and Obama has failed in a myriad of complex ways. Obama isn’t amazing but he doesn’t suck. He’s being forced to be the President he never wanted to be.  It’s hard to get excited about intervening in the world when you’re personally a pacifist. You’re not a pacifist if you decide to go all America fuck yea interventionist. It’s also hard to force others to bend to your will when you believe in compromise. He doesn’t have to make anyone bend to his will to achieve some victories, he just has to try and deal with the uncompromising nuts he’s been dealt.

(Source: dickeynation)

It’s Time To Acknowledge Obama Sucks

       Obama sucks. Seriously people, we aren’t conservatives, we have no loyalty complex; we base our views on what the evidence shows us. The evidence for Obama shows that he sucks. He ran on an anti-Iraq war, pro-civil liberties platform to beat Hilary in 2008, and then went on to expand the surveillance state, and the drone wars to levels Bush and Cheany could only dream of. He bombed Libya, wanted to go to war in Syria, and now is re-starting an Iraq war of all things, while refusing to call it a war, or the boots on the ground “troops” who are in “combat.”
        He ran on a domestic platform that promised to fix our horrible healthcare system, but instead of getting the single payer leverage that would drive down the actual costs of care, we simply got a Band-Aid for the problem; let the costs keep going up and just help the larger and larger group of people who can’t afford it get subsidies or shifted to Medicaid. That was the old Republican idea in the 90’s; our idea from the 90’s involved busting up the power the private hospitals, drug companies, and insurance companies had that was driving costs up, but that was too bold for Obama to pursue. Then he takes forever and a day to actually begin implementing most of this watered-down Band-Aid written by the drug companies, and refuses to force a lot of states to even comply with the law, allowing them to sabotage it.  He also told us that he was going to be the first President to do something about climate change, but he decided that he was going to use all his political capital and a Dem controlled Congress in 09-10 to get that watered down healthcare reform. Later, he’d become a shrill for the new fossil fuel, natural gas, which he now uses as a weapon to gain more negotiating power in his increasingly imperialistic foreign policy games. His very modest rule about new coal power plants having to have smaller emissions is a blip on the radar.
       On moral issues, he told us he was going to fix immigration and pursue a pathway to citizenship for all those people who’ve been living here so long, many since they were little kids, but instead he keeps punting for political reasons and deporting more people per year than Bush ever did. With drugs he tells us about how he used to get high, but then sends more people off to prison for soft drug crimes than any President before him and doesn’t seem to give a shit about intervening. On LGBT issues for selfish political reasons it took him until late in his first term to even “evolve and be cool with gay marriage, and he’s never pursued any kind of federal law, or constitutional amendment that would make it illegal for states to ban gay marriage or keep employment discrimination against gays legal. With education, he one upped George Bush by bringing in Common Core, probably an even worse idea than NCLB, while standing by idoly as the assault on teachers and the resources for underprivileged neighborhoods continues to hang over us. He talks tough about campaign finance reform and populism, but he took more Wall St. donations in 2012 than even Romney did and has presided over the slow rolling back of just about everything in the very modest Dodd-Frank. He also has failed to close a single tax loophole for the rich. After Newton he said he was going to do something about NRA gun nut stuff, and then he pussied out.
   Seriously, it doesn’t matter what the subject is….this is a guy who was in the right place at the right time to steal the anti-Clinton legacy vote in 2008, riding a populist, anti-interventionist platform to two terms in the White House. With those two terms he’s brought us nothing he promised and turned into a worse version of Bush on many important issues. Think about it…both had a healthcare bill written by drug companies (ACA and Medicare part D)….their two energy policies were drill baby drill and frack baby frack…..one had the Patriot Act, the other expanded it….both gave bailouts to Wall St…..both expanded the war on drugs….both deported a shittone of people…..both did virtually nothing to help LGBT people….both started shit with Iraq….both developed a horrible education reform idea….etc, etc. The difference is Bush ran on being Bush and people got what they voted for. Obama ran as something else, and delivered Bush on steroids.
      I believe that his views are truly what he ran on, but he’s more Nixon than Reagan; he’s a politician who will do whatever he thinks is the politically expedient thing, acting different than he talks and talking different to different people, rather than some sort of ideological purist like Reagan. Do not compare him to LBJ or Carter. LBJ got shit done for the progressive movement and just got sucked into a bad war….Obama is getting sucked into a bad war, while having gotten nothing done for progressives. He’s not Carter; Carter tried and simply failed, whereas Obama failed because he didn’t fucking try. And please, do not compare the man to JFK; he’s not transformational, he’s just half black, there’s nothing interesting about him…Kennedy wasn’t interesting because he was Catholic, articulate and energetic, he was interesting because of the ideals he fought for. Obama is no Kennedy…being a variety of minority who is very charismatic on the campaign trail is where the comparisons stop.

Did You Know?

     That in the Southern US, one of the most prevalent justifications for enslaving black people was the Biblical story of Shem, one of Noah’s three sons whom Genesis said saw his father naked and thus had his descendants cursed to be enslaved. Noah’s three sons were used as symbols to explain white, black, and yellow people, with Shem being the one who went south, i.e. to Africa, i.e. he is the “original black man.” Now sure, because they wanted free agricultural labor, they would have found plenty of other justifications for why people from Africa with dark skin could be treated as less human than others and thus enslaved, but still the Bible made it quite easy for them. It would have been much more challenging if they were dealing with an understanding that the Bible is a book of fables, parables, and dramatized accounts of ancient life, and an additional evolutionary understanding that we all originated in Arica and then spread out around the world, developing different skin colors along the way due to different UV exposure and nutritional habits. Just think, if the people of early America had evolution at their disposal, a greater percentage of them would have come to the conclusion they could find no justification for slavery, thus making the movement against it larger earlier on, and the horrors of it might have been ended sooner….but since people were so afraid of questioning religion someone like Darwin didn’t come along nearly as early as he would have if there was universal freedom of thought and permission to question. Religion, used as the justification for black slavery, also kept people from asking the questions that could have disproven the literal claims of an original black man, bringing a curse of slavery to his race. And, yes, we are all aware of how the abolitionists were so into religion, finding ways to interpret the Bible to be against slavery, but just think of what is easier; fighting emotional bullshit with emotional bullshit, or fighting emotional bullshit with enlightened fact-finding missions. Science gives us the fact that we are all Africans, and should convince anyone with a rational mind that slavery and racism are stupid. Science, knowledge, enlightenment, and freedom for the motherfucking win.

Really smart, talented people have a choice in life….work within the power structure and become a celebrated figure of history, one of life’s great “winners” or fight against the power structure on behalf of all the “losers” and have your name become a slur.


The “urban heat island” effect  (where urban areas are far hotter than their surroundings) probably affects the place you live, and is only going to get worse from climate change.

Climate Central has the facts on how the heat island affects the major cities in the U.S., like New York — 20 degrees hotter than its subarbs!

Read more

Ironically, this is another one of those things deniers actually exploit. While the urban heat island affect is getting exasserbated by overall global warming, people that want to deny the human cause of global warming will say, “oh the temps are just increasing because we built large cities in the 20th century that skew the overall global temp hotter.” A lack of understanding of the consequences of anthropogenic climate change are crucial to denier exploitation. Just look at how things that are made worse like the North American polar vortexes, or the co-exitsting floods and droughts get exploited. “How can global warming make my winter cold blast worse?” “How can the disastrous affects you claim be polar opposites like flood and droughts?” It gets maddening to deal with.

(via climate-changing)

Why is it that I can spout all kinds of irrational, emotionally laced criticisms of the Chicago Cubs and nobody doubts I love them, but if I offer rational, evidence-based critiques of America and its ways people scream that I’m an irrational supporter of evil and most likely a Marxist anti-Christ?

Let's Take Some Personal Responsibility For Creating ISIS and Stop Pretending We Can Stop Them Or That They Threaten Us



At this point three big questions have to be asked about the ISIS situation.
1.) What has caused them to come into existence?
2.) How do we take them out of existence?
3.) How do we avoid future groups like them to come into existence?
So, what caused ISIS to come into existence, or more…

The idea that the victims of 9/11 were “little Eichmanns” requires one to accept a far left ideology where the abolition of both the market economy and the state are necessary to end the “evil” inherent in Western society. But this view is wrong. The most successful societies have market economies and small to moderately sized states. There is no viable alternative. Thus the people working in the Twin Towers were ordinary and necessary parts of a successful civil society. Nothing more, nothing less. 9/11 was not an attack on a bad society, but a good one. As for what causes the suicidal murder and genocidal totalitarianism of these jihadist groups, you need to do a center of gravity analysis. You don’t kill Christians, Kurds, and Yazitis in droves because you’re angry with a country on the other side of the world. You don’t open up shop in India because you’re angry with the America. It is indeed a political and religious philosophy, one that goes back to Sayyid Qutb, who hated America for its liberal secularism, that must exist for these groups to exist. But either way, evil groups which may have legitimate past grievances are no less evil, and no less worthy of destruction. Choosing between genocidal totalitarianism and modern civil society is an easy choice to make for me.

Well, first I’d say “Western society,” is an incredibly broad term, and “evil” is an incredibly subjective term. In both cases I’m not really sure that either truly exist. I feel like most people tend to think of “western society” as meaning Christianity and capitalism, but of course we all know that there exists no “western nation” where it’s economics are pure unfettered capitalism or where it’s government or even the culture of its people is uniformly adherent to fundamentalist Christianity. The way I think of “Western society” is more any place anywhere in the world where people are generally free and enlightened, with common sense “shouting fire” style restrictions. In most such places most people end up freely choosing to go with democracy, Christianity, and capitalism, although there are exceptions (think the incredibly secular culture of Japan or the incredibly socialist style government in France, etc), and the degree to which they promote each of those three things differs (think for example of how Australia is so into democracy they force people to vote, or how much more religious a place like Turkey is than say Sweden).
        As far as “evilness” is concerned what actions an individual considers good or bad are determined by the impact those actions had on said individual. Think about how a mythological story of a man making a bunch of dead fish appear out of thin air for hungry people is considered a “good” miracle, but if there were a story about some god-like fish that made a bunch of human corpses appear for hungry fish we’d consider that fish-god character “evil.” Or if there are holy texts talking about how a group of people to which you belong were promised a piece of land and that god would kill and drive out all the natives of that land for your people you view that god as great, but as much as the Jews might think of the Jewish god as great, I’m sure the Cannonites and others that the Bible keeps promising to be killed would view that in a different light. In practical real-life terms we always take the bias of our own species, the nation to which we belong, the race, ethnicity, and religion to which we belong. We sit here thinking that if a US drone creates some human collateral damage while hunting people that mean Americans harm it’s morally fine, but if foreign terrorist groups had technology like drones and thought they were evaporating the dwelling of some army general they perceived as presenting a threat to the physical safety of “their people” and accidently killed a bunch of American children in the process we’d view them as the root of all evil.
         I feel like what happens is that people are both very tribal and very black and white when they hear “one of their own” offering criticisms of destructive forces “their kind” (be it a nation, a race, an ethnicity, or a religion) impose on others, they view it as a betrayal of classification in a zero-sum moral game. (i.e. the attitude of: “you’re an American aren’t you? Then shut up and support ‘our side’)It’s not a matter of this black and white good vs. evil Hollywood narrative we learn about from movies when we’re 8 years old. If capitalism, or America, or white people, or Christianity causes some kind of harm to other people, places, or institutions it doesn’t mean that capitalism, America, white people, or Christianity are the black of absolute evil and some other group or thing is the white of absolute goodness. It’s not a world of evil perpetrators and innocent victims. It’s a world with a lot of gray in it. Capitalism, socialism, communism have all created enormous amounts of both “bad” and “good” for different groups with different perspectives in different situations at different times. The same goes for America and all other nations that do, have, or will exist; the same goes for white, black, brown, and yellow people; the same goes for Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, any other religion, and every form of the absence of a religion.
        The thing about market economies is that they indeed work best under smaller governments. The problem is that this is not the world Adam Smith promoted capitalism for any more so than this is the America the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution for. Things change. In some small state on a short timescale it obviously creates immense prosperity and nearly no harm to anyone for people to own their private property and freely trade with one another. But on long timescales and within globalized environments what inevitably happens is that you start to see the development of massive monopolies that keep getting further and further ahead by investing the success of the past to further widen the gap over competitors in the future, and as you open up free trade on a global scale and eliminate barriers against money within free politics, the sort of things these monopolies invest in are exploited foreign labor (child labor, sub-living wage labor, unsafe working conditions labor, etc), foreign labor in lands that externalize the costs of bigger profits on their people (nations with no safety or environmental regulations), or the politically sanctioned abolishment of worker, consumer, investor, and civilian protections within their own more “advanced” nation, for the sake of more easily won larger windfall profits. If capitalism is to work in contemporary environments using contemporary people it cannot be seen to be a dogmatic way of economics, but rather one that can be properly adjusted and regulated in ways that make it work best for everyone, not just life’s big winners.
         And that’s really a big thing. It’s not that free markets don’t or can’t work, but rather that the proper rules need to be applied to allow them to work. Conservative people look at the world as one where their place in it is good and they fear change because maybe that change will make the whole of the world worse off, or even if the whole of the world breaks even or gets better, their individual place in it will be worsened. Thus, conservatives will say that what exists now is the closest we can get to unachievable perfection and thus we should stand pat, or in other instances they say we were closer to utopia prior to past progress being implemented so we should undo that progress, a sort of regressive mindset. But the thing is that what exists today is both not as close to perfection as those who benefit from it may like to perceive, and we can get better. Basically if the unachievable “perfect world” where everyone truly had a great lot in life were “100,” conservatives view pre-New Deal, pre-Great Society, pre-anti-trust America as “95” and we can’t ever get to “96” or above. Progressives see that world as far, far lower than “95,” and maybe say like “45” and they also say we have the ability to grow much closer to “100.” And really, while both perceptions are probably skewed in one direction or another, the bottom line is that what we have (or had) is/was not at all close to perfection, and there is/was much room to improve. It tends to be that only the more numerous “losers” of the world realize and acknowledge this, while the “winners” say oh no, don’t change anything.
          Within globalized capitalism all us Americans are more so “winners” than say the people of Iraq and Syria. All the things military imperialism and western-backed dictatorial resource exploitation did to them leaves them much bigger “losers” in the game, and thus they’d probably say the world needs to change, while Americans like you and I who spend our lives in much greater comfort and stability than they ever will say, whoa, whoa, don’t change this, we’re cool.
            What I think we all need to think about is whether our good lives are worth the suffering of others. Are all the cogs in the American economic wheel, including but not limited to people that happened to be working in the twin towers on 9/11, and the results it produces for all us in “developed nations” worth it if a requirement of our comfort existing is that people around the world have to live under brutal dictatorships the massive military American tax dollars pay for keeps in place? Are the bombs that create collateral human damage ruining and literally ending innocent lives when we need to forcibly remove an old government to install a new one that will again be friendly to the resource interests we have really worth it? The answer someone like you would propose is that of course it’s worth it because otherwise both us and them would all be living in poverty! To that someone like me would probably respond that a world where we all live in poverty is better than one where some of us live in relative riches made possible by the insurmountable suffering of others. Yet, I don’t think that question of global poverty vs. pockets of wealth upheld by induced suffering of the third world masses is  a legitimate one. I believe that global markets can work in a way that maintain the wealth of the world’s developed nations without the suffering of “undeveloped” populations being necessary.
          Of course, such a variety of market economy is one someone like you wouldn’t consider a true market, because you’re a black and white thinker. There is freedom and tyranny. Well, I say there is a lot of gray area in between, and that properly regulated global markets can continue to generate wealth without it having to be so clustered in certain privileged populations like ours while so many others suffer at the hands of our expensive militaries. I’d guess that in addition to not thinking such is possible, you’d also say that such is undesirable, because you seem to think far more individualistically than collectively. If your individual nation is rich, what is it to you if it becomes rich while others are made poor and oppressed by it? Do you think it’d be nice if that weren’t the case? Probably. But do you really care if it happens so long as your particular nation remains rich? I’d guess it’s not too terribly a big concern for you, and that’s fine, that’s really not a criticism, that’s just a different way of looking at the world. Part of understanding each other is understanding that I don’t view my life as more important than any other, or a life of an American as more important than any other, and thus the degree to which I see billions of truly poor people around the world (poor in global terms not “American poor,” which is really still “globally rich”) as bothersome is greater. I see it as a great enough problem that if fixing it involves criticizing America or threatening the degree of vast wealth America has is necessary to fix it, I’m willing to do so, while you wouldn’t be. That’s fine; it’s just a different perspective on things.
           Another thing to think about is that I’m not suggesting anyone on 9/11 deserved to die, or anything like that. Rather, what I’m saying is that as Americans we are all refusing to revolt against a system of global government, military, and economic interactions that create immense suffering to foreign populations, because our lives our comfortable. We are afraid of bucking the status quo because our standing is better than all those billions of third world people. Yes, we’ll send off our 50 cents a day to feed a starving child or run in some 5k to raise awareness for Malaria, but we won’t demand a change in our foreign policy, our economic structure, our global morals, because oh no, what if it backfires and we end up poor like those people we used to send 50 cents a day to? We can’t risk that! And that fear of change perpetuates the current system, which we should be open to more complexly understanding, even though that understanding will strip us of the comfort of getting to say, grr, those people that killed us on 9/11 or beheaded our journalists are just evil monsters…what we are really afraid of is understanding where their anger towards the world comes from, how they end up so easily drawn to extremist genocidal weirdo groups, and how our passive allowance of the status quo actually fuels the oppression and suffering that sets off the chain reaction that ends with some bitter, impoverished kid looking for meaning in life hijacking a plane and crashing it into a skyscraper at the urging of exploitative religious extremists.
       We’re all uncomfortable with discomforting discoveries, be it that driving your gas guzzler is going to make the world suck for your grandkids, or that when you die you probably become nothing, or that your wealthy nation sustains itself on the back of cheap resources from oppressed totalitarian regimes we support, and exploitative, abusive foreign labor we make our crap with.  Figuring out uncomfortable things about the world isn’t so we can all tear up at the national anthem, think the world is as awesome as it has been or ever will be, and sleep more peacefully at night; it’s so we can be informed enough to maybe someday have some small part in at least trying to fix things.