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

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These are the Moments that Make Me Cringe for Our Arrogant, Entitled Nation

So, right now there is a white, western, Christian doctor on TV going on and on about how he was cured of Ebola because millions of people prayed to the Judeo Christian god for him. Let’s take this opportunity to talk about the things the people of western Africa do not get when they get Ebola….
-The experimental drug that saved this doctor’s life
-A press conference full of gushing reports in the chance they survive
-Thankfully, their families also don’t have access to American TV to watch this d-bag talk about how prayers saved him, knowing full well that they prayed for their loved ones and yet they died….because superstition doesn’t kill viruses, drugs scientists create do.
But hey we wouldn’t be good Americans if we didn’t rationalize our good fortunes as evidence of favoritism from a divine source, now would we? But don’t worry, we don’t think some god hates all you sick people, poor people, third world countries, etc….no he just really likes us; somehow we are not making a commentary of his views of you. I can’t smack my head hard enough to make this seem okay right now.

Filed under Ebola religion viruses Kent Brantly

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Processing All That Is Happening in Ferguson

      The killing of Michael Brown is stirring up outrage and anger from very diverse people for very different reasons. Instances like this bring out the best and worst of our society, even if the surface emotion from either end is identical. On one hand we have the anger of the black community. Their anger comes from a place of frustration and resentment towards a society that brought them into the land of freedom under the pretense of slavery, kept them in the land of opportunity under the pretense of oppression, and toady looks down upon them for their predicaments and reactions to said predicaments, despite those circumstances still being largely created by less overt, but just as strong as ever, sentiments of hatred, fear, and dehumanization, that most explicitly become apparent above the surface for all to see in situations like that which Michael Brown succumbed to. They are frustrated and resentful towards a society that treats them as Michael Brown was ultimately treated, and then seems to not care about what happens to those like Brown, and furthermore will blame their people for the impossible situations their oppressors create. On the other hand we have the anger of the traditional white establishment. Their anger comes from a place of frustration and resentment as well, but their frustration and resentment is aimed at a minority community they recognize deep down are below their own communities to the degree they are because of how their predecessors treated their predecessors. In order to deal with the frustration and guilt this might otherwise make them feel, they attempt to rationalize their immorally won good fortunes by demonizing the victims, rather than help them up. They resent blacks for wanting to be given a fair shot to compete with whites, and they most especially resent them for pointing out just how much harder it is for them, both because of the lineage they come from, and because of how they are still treated in less overt ways to this day. Being too afraid to admit that their heritage created the inequality from which they benefit, and also being too afraid to denounce and give up their traditional statuses of privilege, traditional white America sees black America through the stereotypes and prejudices long ago established by their predecessors, because to do so is simply easier.
             Michael Brown was a large black person (you can decide for yourself whether you want to call an 18 year old a “kid” or a “man”) walking down the street with one of his friends, when, according to all eye witness accounts a cop began to demand they move onto the sidewalk, and when they didn’t, he got angry enough that he eventually took out his gun and shot Brown multiple times, as Brown, unarmed, had his hands in the air, and then shot him some more while standing over his possibly already dead body in the street. According to everyone who claims to have seen it all go down, there was no physical altercation of any kind. The cop is saying that Brown was fighting him and trying to reach for his gun, so he shot him in self-defense. I’m not saying that it’s impossible that happened….I’m just saying it’s pretty damn unlikely that an 18 year old recent high school graduate about to head off to college would decide, sober and in broad daylight as a black man in America to start wrestling with a cop who told him to move from the street to the sidewalk and attempt to steal his gun. It’s pretty damn unlikely that all these eye witnesses are just covering for some potential cop killer who really was trying to wrestle a gun out of the hands of an office simply because they hate white people so much that they would all create and maintain this elaborate lie. As for what was said, that’s a whole other story. It’s very possible that the teenage Brown and his friend might have been very disrespectful or flippant towards this cop telling them to get out of the street, and it’s very possible they were refusing to get up on the sidewalk. Yet, the problem for our officer in question is that you don’t then get to fill up someone’s body with bullets as they first have their hands in the air and then are lying on the ground because they gave you some lip about not wanting to get out of the middle of some street. It seems this cop felt the only way he could legally get away with doing such a thing is if he were in a physical altercation with Brown, and considering that it has since come out that Brown was unarmed, not just any physical altercation, but one in which he feared for his life, which would only seem reasonable if Brown was really trying to steal the cop’s gun in the middle of some wrestling match.
           What’s been particularly rough about this case is not just that an unarmed 18 year old was killed by a cop, when his hands were in the air, as retaliation for not following some dumb order about where to walk, but also that the Ferguson, MO police are refusing to publicly release the name of the cop who is alleged to have done this, in addition to refusing to as of yet have an interview with Brown’s friend who was obviously right there to watch it all unfold. Whether this was the intent or not, it looks very much like this was something Ferguson PD was hoping they could turn into a good old boys cover up where they just quietly refused to take any serious eye witness testimony, internally investigated the situation which would amount to a he (white cop) said, they (black community of eye witnesses) said situation where there would never be any charges filed, and it would be ruled a self-defense killing by a good cop. Unfortunately for Ferguson PD the people of Ferguson are a little angrier than the white establishment down there was expecting, and now due to protests, looting, and rioting the national media is paying attention, Eric Holder, Obama, Al Sharpton, they are all paying attention and asking questions, like why won’t you interview witnesses? why would this 18 year old violently attack a cop and try to take his gun for being told to move to the sidewalk?, and why won’t you release the name of the cop who did this? All of a sudden, their attempts at a quiet, local hush-hush cover-up are being ruined.
        Things aren’t just being ruined in any cover-up attempts they had for this Michael Brown case. Rather, the whole racist history of St. Louis County police departments are being revealed. It turns out just a year ago, there was a whistle blower who alleged that his lieutenant was instructing his officers to “arrest some black people today,” and “make the jail cells more colorful,” and things of that nature, while telling his three black cops (out of 53 in an area that is 60% black), “I don’t mean you guys, you are the good ones.” When they investigated, it turned out 9 other cops came forward and said, yea, this lieutenant was saying all that, so he they fired him. But thanks to a Missouri law passed back in 2000 which requires every law enforcement official to record the race of each person they stop, arrest, question, etc, we’re finding out that St. Louis County has a far more systemic race problem than one bad egg lieutenant. It turns out when you look at towns throughout the county black people make up a way larger proportion of stops, arrests, and convictions than their proportion of the population within socioeconomically equal communities full of blacks and whites. In Ferguson in particular when they look at things like disparities in everything as simple as traffic stops to arrests, black folks simply get stopped way more than their expected share based on population totals, while whites are way below their expected share based on population totals. Everyone knows this sort of racism still exists throughout America, but rarely is it so explicitly and publicly quantified as it is in Missouri as the result of that 2000 law. You’d either have to come to conclusions like, wow black people just really suck at driving and love to shoplift, while white people are awesome drivers and never shoplift, or you can come to the more reasonable conclusion that the local police departments are super ass racist. This doesn’t mean this one particular cop did or did not do to Michael Brown what all the eye witnesses say he did, but it does mean that yea, down in Ferguson Missouri there might be some pretty deep racial prejudices that make it seem a little more plausible that a racist cop shot up an unarmed black kid with his hands in the air who had done nothing legally wrong, let alone put the cop’s life in danger.
           As the days have unfolded and the media attention has mounted, we’ve begun to be challenged as a society to think about some uncomfortable questions; questions that get fed up blacks and angry traditional whites equally worked up. First, this incident, at least for me, has made me think of all the ways racism exists today. Yes, we are past the days when black people are slaves in the south, and also past the days when segregation could keep them from schools, hospitals, drinking fountains, or bus seats. We are past the days when most respectable white Americans recognize it is inappropriate to run around saying nigger this and nigger that, or throwing Molotov cocktails in the window when a black family moves in next door, but this idea that after Martin Luther King marched around giving speeches, the 13th-15th amendments were passed and signed by LBJ, some affirmative actions laws were passed, and a half black guy later got elected President racism died and became some footnote in history books is just silly. It was both exciting and sad to find that we can still produce some hard, empirical evidence of various forms of real-life bigotry within Missouri, at least as it pertains to traffic stops and arrest records. It’s exciting because it’s a good opportunity to show to angry white folks who want very much for contemporary racial discrimination to be a myth, that it is not. They want it very much to be a myth as that would allow them to let go of any guilt they feel, cling harder to irrational anger they feel towards minorities, and be able to justify their inferior predicaments of minorities as justifiable. Yet we have to be able to show them that there is a reason to feel guilt and a need to channel that guilt into productive causes, actions, and policies that would help minorities, rather than to channel it into hatred and irrational blaming the victim style justification. However, the data is also sad, because it demonstrates that despite whatever naïve optimism any of us might feel, the ramifications of racial prejudices are still making profound impacts on real communities full of real people.
       But as I said, the data is about more than the data. It’s a crack in the window that should make us think more deeply about all the other ways aside from traffic stops and arrests our society is holding down people of color from their full potential. I’ve been thinking about things like differences in outcomes in court (we know for example that the Florida stand your ground law is 250% more likely to be found as a cause for not guilty verdicts when it is a white “standing their ground” against a black than a white “standing their ground” against another white, or a black “standing their ground” against another black), or differences in the ways laws are applied (for example the crack cocaine vs. powder cocaine mandatory sentencing laws which specifically target crack cocaine since it is more popular in black communities), or differences in qualifying for a mortgage on a home (for example we remember how when the Donald Sterling thing came out we also heard about his past trying to keep housing he was developing away from blacks), or differences in qualifying for a car loan, differences in qualifying for a small business loan, or differences in getting into universities, or differences in the tax funding K-12 black schools and white schools get, or differences in hiring practices, firing practices, differences in how teachers view black and white students, encourage them discipline them, etc, or differences in what kind and how many businesses will invest in black communities vs white communities, or differences in how parents feel about their son or daughter dating a white or black boy/girl, marrying a black or white man/woman, differences in whether white or black kids get adopted more frequently, or differences in how books and movies depict black vs. white characters, or even just differences in how people look at black vs white people, and how often they do things like clutch their purse or lock their doors when they see one. These are just some of the “little ways” racial prejudice can and still does exist today, even though blacks can sit where they want on the bus and won’t have to hear white people call them niggers before they lynch them. Racism isn’t dead.
         The fact racism isn’t dead, or at least the accurate suggestion of such, is precisely what is angering the traditional white crowd so much right now. They specifically don’t want to accept that some white cop in Ferguson, MO, even if not an n-word dropping type racist, could easily have shot a completely innocent, harmless black person to death because of the subliminal racism that still exists within society. Look, maybe this cop shot up Michael Brown because he really just hates black people and some black person telling them they weren’t going to move from the street to the sidewalk was enough to set him off and make him murder Brown. However, I’d like to propose a more likely explanation, and one that traditional whites probably would much less prefer. This is that this cop was not racist per say, but living in a culture that still perpetuates the notion of animalistic black people.
        Obviously, historically blacks where first portrayed as sub human animals to help a largely religious society justify their enslavement. If they were just a sophisticated animal, a lesser type of human, you could own them like a dog and it would be okay in the eyes of your god, which was not necessarily their god. Over time, after slavery ended, whites had long convinced themselves that blacks where just a bunch of sexually crazed, violent, emotionally impulsive, morally inferior, intellectually incompetent beasts, so they kept on viewing them that way within free society. Furthermore, as time went further on and newer generations that had never lived during slavery saw blacks, they didn’t necessarily see an inferior sub-species of humans, but rather humans just as capable as themselves whom they feared having to compete with, and also feared having to beg forgiveness from. Since they were afraid of retaliation and competition they kept up the dumb, horny, violent, lazy stereotypes to justify oppressing them via the power of numbers. After the 1960’s when it became clear that blacks were no longer going to tolerate these traditions and fight back, perhaps even violently, for equal opportunity and social recognition whites recognized that giving lip service to equality and getting rid of the most overt forms of racism, while still oppressing blacks in less obvious, but equally effective ways was the best chance they had at being able to avoid competing with them on a truly level playing field. In order to justify the outcomes of that process, the old stereotypes about blacks being a bunch of big, dumb, lazy, violent people is kept up within the good old boys white culture. You see it perpetuated throughout all forms of media, entertainment, and such, and if you simply look out at the results of the world (black people living in inner city ghettos where nobody graduates high school and everyone is shooting each other up and having babies while collecting welfare) you can say, oh I guess all that stuff about them simply being violent (killing each other), lazy (no jobs), horny (having tons of babies), stupid (dropping out of school) people is true. It looks truer than ever before, because the surface perception is that racism is a thing of the past. Giving up on screaming the n-word, burning crosses, and water hosing people sitting at lunch counters while still oppressing blacks in all the important socioeconomic areas of life was the smartest move white racists ever made, because now mainstream society is led to believe old racist rants and stereotypes about blacks were actually true.
      So, our white cop probably wasn’t personally racist, but he probably was convinced both by movies, TV shows, the nightly news, plus whatever he knew about who lived in what kind of neighborhoods, that black people were probably more impulsive and violent amongst other things. Thus, it was much easier for him to get unnccessarily spooked when some 6’4 300lb black person like Michael Brown and his dreadlock wearing friend probably started cussing at him or something when he yelled at them to get on the sidewalk. Everything our culture tells this cop, and all the results of our society that this cop sees, suggested to him that in all likelihood the next thing this huge black guy was going to do was pull out a weapon and come charging at him screaming die motherfucker die. It doesn’t excuse his shooting Brown when Brown put his hands in the air, but the reality is that our society trains people, probably most especially white cops, to think that black people are the enemy always out to hurt you and for whatever irrational reason the dude spooked himself into thinking he needed to unload into Brown. What the cop did, assuming this isn’t all some huge community wide conspiracy lie, is indeed murder. However, what white establishment America would rather the case be, if it can’t be that Brown really was some violent thug killed in self-defense by the white cop, is for the white cop to have been some rare racist prick who just wanted to shoot a black guy. That is easier to explain away as “not emblematic” of society at large, than it is to explain away a not so racist person in day to day life thinking that any large black man giving him some verbal attitude is a threat to kill him like a wild beast. The latter scenario suggests that racism is not actually dead and that pisses white America off.
          Thus far, I’ve yet to talk about the black response to this situation, aside from saying they are quite, seemingly justifiably, angry. Yet, we have to talk about it in more detail. The peaceful protesting is obviously going to be accepted by all, even if what they are protesting about makes traditional white America uncomfortable enough that they respond with a defensive, snarky anger. The rioting and looting that took place is something else. All the prominent black leaders and major players in the case are saying the politically correct things. They are calling for peace. Yesterday, Al Sharpton said “you can’t be more angry than Michael Brown’s parents” to a crowd that probably wanted to go do some violent things after nightfall. Yet, I’ll say what I am sad to acknowledge black people and leaders cannot safely say within our current societal climate. That is, black people are justified in breaking some shit. The double standard in America that pisses me off most is how white people doing anything to blacks throughout history are, yes, eventually, very slowly finally told what they are doing is wrong and unacceptable, but all the victims of their unjust behavior are told that they have to turn the other cheek and just be happy that eventually the wrongs were acknowledged as wrongs. That’s such bullshit. I wish Jackie Robinson could have gone all Ron Artest on the fans screaming racial stuff at him, instead of him having to just be happy with the end result that decades later all the teams were accepting blacks and all the fans were cheering for black players. It’s like white people are made to be “doing something for black people,” when in fact all they are “doing” is finally deciding to be less of horrible oppressors of black people. Blacks are always told to smile as they are oppressed while saying yes sir and no m’am, and then told to be sufficiently grateful when a certain kind of oppression is lessened or stopped. They shouldn’t be thankful they can sit anywhere they want, they should be angry it took so damn long, and when they weren’t allowed to, anything they set on fire or broke in protest was a righteous expression of anger. Of course, our racist society loves it when black people get angry, because it helps perpetuate the stereotype of them as animalistic lesser humans. It’s really easy for white people to say they wouldn’t start busting up their neighborhood if blacks were in charge of the country and doing things to their young people the way whites are in charge and doing things to people like Michael Brown, because white people will never have to “prove” they would “show more moral restraint” (they wouldn’t by the way, nor should they if that were the case), as they will never be the oppressed race in this country no matter how much fear mongering talk radio blowhards try to say they one day will be.
                Perhaps what pisses me off most about the situation is the way white people in this country take instances of whites doing something horrible to blacks as an opportunity to get up and preach to black people in a condescending, paternalistic fashion. Two nights ago, the king of paternalistically talking down to black people, Bill O’Reilly took that opportunity. He had a segment on his show where he started lecturing the parents of Michael Brown of all people. He said that they were “speaking through an emotional prism” and “didn’t have all the facts,” while instructing them (as though they were watching) to “trust the police.” Bizarrely, O’Reilly also said he would be reacting the same way and saying the same things they are saying if it had been his son, but somehow he hinted that such was okay because, I don’t know, I guess white people think rationally, make sure they research all their facts, and have the proper trust in law enforcement when their child is murdered, whereas blacks are just a bunch of dumb, emotional, impulsive, distrusting people, basically too stupid and paranoid to figure out when it’s proper to complain about your son being gunned down.  It was really ugly.
       What was actually ugliest about it was the fact Ben Carson was there. Carson was on because within the traditional white media they always need to have a “good” black person on whenever a racial situation arises, so they can have that black person sit there and talk shit about black people, basically calling them lazy, violent, and somehow responsible for things like this happening, while avoiding having a white guy be so blunt about it. Unfortunately for O’Reilly Carson didn’t take the bait. Instead he started talking about how he “feels the pain” of the Brown family, and said he wanted to have the Ferguson police release the name of this officer and have him explain why he felt he needed to kill Brown. Obviously, O’Reilly quickly shut him and the segment down, but the point is that, even though Carson failed to take the bait in this particular instance, there exists a sort of pseudo-elite group of black Americans whom kinda, sorta racist white America (the kind watching Bill O’Reilly) use as a tool to justify their prejudices against blacks and the see the predicaments blacks are in as fair. Traditional America always has to have some black person at the table, like Carson, who they will prompt in situations like this to start rambling about how black people need to have more trust in white authority, gain some better moral discretion and stop angrily rioting, and while they’re at it stop caring so much about “isolated” incidents like this (remember, this to them needs to be some isolated racist prick or a lying guilty black community, not a white guy influenced by kinda, sorta racist culture to overreact and murder the black dude) and focus more on getting a job for your lazy ass, stop having so many babies, and stop shooting each other as you sell drugs. They love these non-white, white apologists who demonize the rest of his or her fellow blacks, because it serves their agenda of justifying prejudices whites hold and the life circumstances of blacks those prejudices in reality produce.
       The black people that will accept these roles are usually some average black person that ended up successful and mainstream enough to have finished high school, gone to college, got a middle class job, had a family, and obviously never sold drugs or joined a gang and killed people, thereby allowing them to be accepted by white culture. They basically want to be white and like looking down on black people who endured different, more common circumstances for blacks in America, and did not end up in the respectable mainstream culture. These people don’t all have to be as successful or famous as Ben Carson. Any regular black person in middle class America who is ashamed enough of being black and desperate enough to “be white” will take the “black people are violent, lazy, stupid, immoral thugs just like you white folks say” position. It helps them to feel “elite” even when they are just normal (an average person is just average, but if they are black and average it can become, oh look at how the rest of my people aren’t as good as me thing), and it helps them justify in their minds why they were one of the lucky black people not born into poverty created by whites, or one of the rare few who found a way, despite all the obstacles lined up against them, to make it out of that poverty, telling themselves any and all black people could have done the same if they were just harder working and more moral like themselves.
        Finally, our last but certainly not least thing that everyone is thinking about as this situation has unfolded is the militarization of our police force. As a society begins to crumble, as the middle class begins to disappear, people become increasingly more tribal. The fear of the instability such desperate tribalism might bring has prompted police departments around the country to start loading up for war against their own people. No longer are police here to serve and protect, but rather to intimidate and power their way to peace against unhappy, downtrodden, disenfranchised enemies, er I mean citizens. The situation is Ferguson is basically this: A defenseless, harmless black man is murdered by a white cop, and that cop’s name is not released and the internal investigations seem to want nothing to do with black witnesses, so the majority black community starts getting angry, protesting, and even destroying some stuff. In response the largely all white police force has decided to deck out their officers in militarized looking SWAT gear, roll around in what essentially amount to army tanks, with guys on top pointing loaded assault rifles at unarmed, peaceful protestors, all the while indiscriminately spraying rubber bullets and firing tear gas towards crowds. While we can know all this because we have a free press, it appears the Ferguson PD view that as yet another obstacle. They’ve already arrested two journalists for being journalists taking pictures and videos of cops, and they’ve roughed up other members of the media, and shot gas canisters at TV crews. All the while the police chief is going around telling people he’s so proud of his force for “showing so much restraint,” basically meaning, “boy, they really could do so much more harm to these black animals if they wanted, but they are above that.” A local white reporter who was on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show slipped up and said it was so important to secure the area because there are very nice middle class homes just a bit away from where all this is going down, which meant, “white people live close to here and the town is taking all extreme measures to make sure these black animals don’t spill over into that area, so this is all justifiable.” He quickly realized what he had just said, and backtracked stuttering about how it wouldn’t matter what kind of homes were near the protestors.
        So, lots of seemingly disconnected thoughts, but overall there is a lot we can think about as we process what has transpired in Ferguson.

Filed under Ferguson Michael Brown white anger black anger racial tensions white guilt police brutality contemporary racism predjudice dehumanization of blacks subliminal racist culture uncle tom black self hatred assimilation riots protests First Ammendment freedom of press police militarization freedom of speech Bill O'Reilly Ben Carson paternalism condecending politics current events

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Some Belated Reactions to Robin Williams’ Suicide and Negative Reactions

       In the wake of Robin Williams dying there have of course been endless droves of people, both famous and regular, offering tributes of various types. However, there will inevitably be the additional variety of post-mortem commentary that is critical. Whenever a public figure dies it is completely in bounds to reflect on both the positives and negatives of their life; such is entirely fair. What is not fair or respectable, however, is to criticize someone for the way they died, when conditions entirely out of their control led to it. What is amazing about society is that to this day if someone spends their life gorging on junk food and refusing to exercise and then dies of a massive stroke, heart attack, or type 2 diabetes we call it a tragedy, if someone spends their life using dip or cigarettes and gets oral or lung cancer we call it a tragedy, if someone’s liver fails because they drank themselves to it we call it a tragedy, but if someone kills themselves because their brain was diseased we call them selfish, cowardly, and stupid. We have such problems acknowledging the helplessness of mental illness because it is both outwardly abstract and emotional.
        Our processing of disease and our responses to it are generally really fucked up. In addition to feeling great sympathy for diseases that result from poor lifestyle choices that could have been avoided, we look at diseases that are said to “come out of nowhere,” like cancer, type 1 diabetes, or neurological disorders, and pretend that all we can do is react to them. We do this because it is far more comforting to tell someone that they are sick or dying because “this is part of a plan that only seems random” instead of telling them the truth: that their disease, suffering, and possibly impending death has been made exponentially more likely to have occurred because we refuse to regulate businesses to sufficiently maximize our health, and have only the courage to provide substandard funding and create beurocratic hurdles to fight them, as opposed to increasing NIH funding and eliminating FDA hurdles. This is not a “plan” from a higher power, anymore so than it was a “plan” for peasants to have suffered in squalor before the Enlightenment, capitalism, and democracy, no matter how forcefully and frequently the church told them this was so. We create our own outcomes, writing our own “plans.”
        What is the most fucked up of all, though, is how we deal with mental illness. Much as we like demonizing the behavior of the impoverished more than we like fighting the root societal causes of the poverty that leads to such behavior, we enjoy demonizing the end results of mental illness more than coming to acknowledge, understand, and fight its root physiological causes. There’s no blood test, MRI, X-ray, or clinical exam that can find mental illness. You can’t see it as a number on a lab report, a visual on some print out of a digital picture. It’s not some tumor, some clogged artery, or torn ligament. There is no visible, tangible damage. The chemical imbalances in the brain that cause people to become OCD, depressed, bi-polar, schizophrenic, or whatever else aren’t “visible,” and the only symptoms are the behavioral differences people with such imbalances demonstrate. Because the symptom is actually a behavior, far too many people erroneously feel that the behavior is some kind of choice people have made in some selfish quest for attention, sympathy, or escape from responsibility.
           What I will say, is that the mental illness symptom of suicide is not exclusive to mental illness. People without genuine mental illness can kill themselves for any number of selfish, cowardly reasons. After all, Hitler killed himself, and a great many people who have never had a suicidal thought in their lives will kill themselves because they are too weak to deal with something bad happening to them like the loss of a job, too selfish to accept responsibility for something horrible they’ve done, choosing death over the prospect of serving time, or too ashamed to live with the reality that they just did something like cheat on their spouse or gamble away their child’s college fund, etc. People who are not mentally ill may also kill themselves for entirely reasonable, acceptable reasons, such as a person who is told they are terminal and will endure great suffering over the next several months choosing to die with dignity, or someone throwing themselves in front of a car or train to save someone else, etc. Suicide is an end result, something that mentally ill and mentally healthy people may commit, as well as something that may be committed for noble reasons, rational reasons, irrational reasons, or selfish and cowardly reasons. Much as not all lung cancer is created equal, where one may get it for being a chain smoker, another from second hand smoke, another from a genetic predisposition, and another yet from working in a coal mine, or much as not all car accidents are created equal where one may be the result of drunk driving, another the result of icy roads, another the result of simple, sober human error in good driving conditions, not all suicide is created equal.
       In the specific instance of Robin Williams’ suicide, we are looking at a man who had it all; the highest degree of professional and financial success doing precisely what he loved and was best at, with three grown, healthy children in his life, and a new reportedly happy marriage. He clearly was not someone lacking in purpose, meaning, hope, family, finances, or anything else in life. He and his work was adored by millions and he was able to give back to so much of the world in need. When someone like that, who also has a very well-known, documented history battling mental illness kills themselves you know that this was not some cowardly, stupid, selfish person running away from some behavior of his own, life circumstance, difficult time, or whatever. This was someone who was tormented by thoughts of sadness and hopelessness which were caused by physical problems in his brain. It led to him killing himself. People who criticize him for doing so are either ignorant or malicious.
           When we look at why our society is so resistant to accepting the reality and nature of mental illness, we can, yes, look at how the only symptoms are behavior, coupled with no number or image from some medical test being able to quantify or de-conceptualize the disease leading to people having an intellectually difficult time comprehending it. Yet, we also have to look at why, beyond that, our society is particularly, almost willfully and deliberately resilient to grasping a better understanding and acceptance. Two tremendous reasons are religion and patriarchy. It’s no secret that America, compared with the rest of the developed world, is far more religious and masculine in its culture. A religious culture, at least a monotheistic western religious culture, will teach that suicide is interfering with a personal deity’s plan for your purposeful, meaningful physical life. It is seen as a defiance of a power above you within a cosmic hierarchy. While this culture will also teach that whatever is to come after life is far better than life itself, assuming you follow a higher power’s absolute orders, (which is a sort of forced nihilistic view of actual living that probably only further perpetuates the sadness and hopelessness of those with mental illness being brought up in such a culture) it teaches that if you are not naturally struck down by some disease or accident, you are “meant” to keep on living, and to defy that preordained meaningful purpose for your life is to disobey the higher power you need to obey to get into a much better afterlife paradise. This culture will also sadly teach that “god does not send you anything you cannot handle” leading people to believe that the depressed who killed themselves actually could have avoided that fate, because their depression wouldn’t be made intense enough to assuredly lead to suicide since that depression was placed there as a sort of cruel obstacle from a personal deity.  In other words, western, monotheistic religious traditions teach that everyone is given the strength to overcome any depression they feel, and that nobody is destined to kill themselves, and only those who choose to be selfish, insubordinate weaklings will do so and they will be punished by burning forever in some afterlife pit. Religion directly promotes the view that people with mental illness who killed themselves “made a choice,” “gave into temptation,” “will be punished,” “were weak and cowardly,” and “were selfish and insubordinate.” If it sounds similar to the way religion portrays people who happened to be born another way not accepted by religious tradition (being born gay), you’d be right on. The parallel of “you can be gay but just don’t act on it, that’s evil, cowardly, and selfish” is eerily similar to the mantra of “you can be depressed; just don’t act on it, that’s evil, cowardly, and selfish.”
              Beyond the religious aspect, there is also the masculine aspect. Our culture is one built by men for men, and it demonizes what have been stereotyped by ignorant men to be “feminine traits.” One such trait is compassion, while another is understanding. To have empathetic passion and a benevolent desire to understand is actually a quite helpful, rational skillset/mindset for anyone to have, regardless of whether a penis or a vagina is in between their legs. If a society is going tobe patriarchial or matriarchal rather than egalitarian it has to differentiate the two genders, for only with differentiation can hierarchies that conquer and oppress be created, enforced, and maintained. That’s why our patriarchial society is obsessed with gender roles. To have an identity that is in part based on being a member of a gender that is different from the other gender requires that there be certain “masculine things” and “feminine things.” Various traits, values, morals, responsibilities, attributes, detriments, etc must be specific to males and specific to females. Along the way it was decided that men would be more impulsive, aggressive, less understanding, and less kind, only to be balanced out or countered by women’s over-thinking, timid, kind and understanding nature. Men and women don’t actually have such inherent predispositions towards such stereotypes, but the culture teaches us that we do and it becomes a self-fullfilling prophecy. On the macro level the structure of our artificially gender differentiated society holds the goal of promoting males and the falsely created “male personality” above females and the falsely created “female personality.” Thus, it is seen as being lesser if one from either gender were to be compassionate and understanding towards something like the suicides mental illness produces, as opposed to the more glamorized harshness and lack of understanding the “superior people” are supposed to have.
           I feel as though everything I’ve talked about above can help to explain a great deal of why the criticisms of Robin Williams’ suicide as cowardly, selfish, or dumb are coming in from where they come in. Perhaps the greatest example of such thus far was Shepard Smith on Fox News calling Williams a coward on national TV. I found it especially despicable that he would be the person with the greatest public cruelty on display, considering that he’s a well-known closeted gay, refusing to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality out of a cowardly fear that it would hurt his career working for the right wing propaganda machine. If anyone is a coward it is Shep Smith. Furthermore, the fact that there have been many accounts of those who personally know Smith claiming that in reality he holds quite moderate to even liberal views on most issues, most especially social issues involving gays, women, and minorities, but continues to work at a career for Fox News is the epitome of selfishness. He thinks only of himself and is not true to himself, all so he can retain a certain public career and image that he desires out of pure cowardice and selfishness. He of all people has no right to call someone like Robin Williams a coward.
          I would also say that I’ve noticed another variety of criticism being leveled at Robin Williams in the wake of his death. This one is not nearly as cruel or ignorance based as the proclamations that his suicide was selfish and cowardly, but it’s still unfair nonetheless. The criticism to which I’m referring is the one that demonizes him for being a part of a “celebrity culture.” I’ve got to admit, I’ve been late to my understanding of why so many right-wingers loathe and demonize Hollywood so much. In the past I had simply assumed that they disliked the politics of most creative people, and with Hollywood being the most well-known and influential group of creative people, they saw an enemy no different than say teachers unions; one that could simply turn out liberal voters, or raise money for liberal candidates. Yet, I’ve come to understand that their disdain for Hollywood is much more philosophical than it is political. The differences they have politically with Hollywood are a mere byproduct of the root philosophical differences the people of the heartland have with the people in Hollywood. Pop culture, be it movie stars, musicians, or athletes provide the masses with people to look up to, respect, and attempt to emulate. That’s not a problem unless you are afraid of human beings and human ideas taking the place of religious deities and religious dogma. For the average heartland conservative the only higher power is Jesus, the only role model is Jesus, the only ideas to respect are those in the Bible. For people to decide, “hey I really like the work of so and so movie star or so and so singer or so and so baseball player, and I look up to what they say for moral guidance, they give me hope that I can do good things in the world, or provide me examples of behavior to emulate,” is a scary, scary thing to religious people.
        The only way to keep people religious is not to convince them not of the likelihood that there really is some god and there really is some book he inspired, because most will find that irrational. Rather, the way to keep people religious is to convince them that without religion, without belief in some deity and worship of some holy text there is no way to have morality, hope, community, a sense of purpose, a meaningful life, etc. If people begin to look at other collections of humans as being a collective power greater than their own individual power, and they can find within that collective humanity certain people and ideas that give them hope, purpose, guidance, etc, then what do you need to cling to irrational beliefs in mystical higher powers and dogma for? This is precisely why both any form of collectivism (finding a higher power than your individual self in a group of humans rather than an individual beyond-human god) and any collective culture, most especially one like Hollywood’s culture, that produces individual potential role models that can replace mythological characters as the heroes in people’s hearts is demonized by the religious right. There are people out there that just hate it that there are lots of people in this world like Robin Williams that some person might have seen and said, “hey I’m going to follow this piece of advice he had, and I’m going to have hope I can do X, Y, and Z because he accomplished so much, and I feel inspired to go do the following good works because I saw this, this, and that he did.” So, they attack the cultures public figures come from. Any chance they get to smear the people of Hollywood as being mortally flawed in some spectacular way they do, because they want to discredit the possibility that you can find things like guidance, inspiration, and hope from anywhere but their dogmatic religion.
           
              
         

Filed under Robin Williams suicide mental health mental illness disease religion patriarchy macho culture empathy compassion understanding Hollywood celebrity culture

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Selective Approval of Different Types of Violence and Mutual Blame in Single Perpetrator Situations…What Ferguson Reveals About America

When Israelis were “defending themselves” from missiles they were able to shoot down by killing thousands of civilians it was somehow not wrong because Israelis would warn a bunch of poor people in a densely populated area controlled by terrorists forcing them to be used as human shields to “run away” or something, and you know, the Jews have to live there so Jesus can come back or something. This is a case where “both sides were wrong.”

When black people are  protesting and damaging some property because a white cop murdered someone with their hands in the air, after which the police force tried to cover it up and tried to hide the name of the murderer, and this leads to a white police force of a black town to start turning it into an occupied war-zone with no civil liberties, this is a situation where standing up for yourself, and defending yourself with a little violence (which by the way didn’t kill anyone, let alone thousands, but did destroy a gas station) is actually warranted. This is not a case where “both sides are wrong.” Rodney King and the Watts riots were not “both sides are wrong.” Blacks standing up for themselves in the ways Israel Jews always like to falsely present their over-aggressive, anti-human rights behavior is not “both sides are wrong.” It’s just like slavery or Jim Crow….white people are wrong in Ferguson…get over it. It doesn’t have to be…oh okay black people we’ll say we are wrong when we are wrong only if you take mutual responsibility for the sins of white people for reacting to them as any reasonable humans would. If I can see this as a white male, everyone should see it. Fuck this shit.

Filed under Ferguson Israel America race religion violence self defense dignity human rights politics philosophy

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'Murica Logic

Rancher refusing to pay grazing fees for using public land that isn’t his? Get your guns, I want to have a shootout with the Bureau of Land Management this is what the Second Amendment is for!!!

Cops murder unarmed kid with his hands in the air who had done nothing wrong, try to cover it up with bs story, refuse to release name  allegedly murderous cop or interview eye witnesses that won’t corroborate  their lies, and then get rest of police force to roll around in tanks pointing rifles at protestors, indiscriminately spraying rubber bullets and tear gas, all while arresting and roughing up members of the press for taking pictures/video and writing about the situation? Get your gu…..oh shit, what? This is a black kid shot by a white cop in a mostly black neighborhood and the white police force is doing this to black protestors and any press reporting the situation? You didn’t tell me that….clearly the kid must have done something to provoke getting shot and these animalistic agitators must be controlled, they don’t want peace, they want a race war, so let those cops give them and the communist press hell!

Filed under Ferguson politics

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When Nobody Likes Your Economics Just Talk About How Brown People Hate Guns

       It’s no secret to anyone (aside from poor, rural/mountain whites, the most consistent voting bloc in America in terms of turnout and result, who fervently vote Republican and make sure to vote in every little election, from Presidential generals, all the way down to off-year local primaries) what far-right politicians do. They serve the interests of the mega-wealthy, ready to fight for the tax loopholes, union busting, regulation repealing/obstructing, social safety net slashing, globalized free trade exploiting policies that their most powerful donors want. They find gerrymandered state and federal level congressional seats, and look for deep red states for Senate. Then they rely on voter suppression laws, and the inherently stupid structure of our election system to get a low primary turnout, full of super emotionally charged supporters who have been inundated with all sorts of fear mongering ads paid for with the mega bucks of the wealthy they are actually going to represent. After they win that primary, they get to run in a general election within a deep red state for Senate or within a gerrymandered deep red congressional district against a Democrat in a place where a Democrat will never win, ensuring that even when the larger turnouts for the general election arrive, all the masses of more moderate conservatives have nobody but their extremist wacky self to vote for.
        Obviously, in those primaries they are targeting a small, passionate base of people who are as stated earlier, economically poor, rural or mountain white, deeply Christian folks. They aren’t going to be all excited hearing about how if elected candidate X will go to Washington to fight against closing tax loopholes for the rich, busting up unions, making sure rich guys can make your air and water dirtier, and fight to take apart the subsidizes, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc most of your community relies on. So, they don’t promote that message. Instead, they recognize that using a bunch of scare tactics involving things like race, guns, nationalism, and religion will bring all these people running to the polls. Most times it’s pretty shameless and completely irrational, but it seems to work. In this example, we have some circulating pamphlet ad for Alaska Tea Party Senate candidate Joe Mille, that I’m sure will soon be made into TV and radio format if it already hasn’t been. It shamelessly conflates race baiting, xenophobic fascism, and gun nuttiness into one mega emotional issue. The pamphlet shows four separate shots of brown skinned thuggish looking people, flashing gang signs, tattooed nearly head to toe. A line then says “Bageich (sitting Democratic Senator) wants them to vote.” Below that is a quote from Miller, “if 20 million illegals vote, you can kiss the 2nd amendment goodbye. I am the only candidate that favors voter ID.”
        Holy fuck, where to start? I don’t really know, because there is so much, it’s just overwhelming. First off, there are 11 million illegal immigrants in America, not 20 million. Of course, not all of them are from Mexico, or even Central and South America. Out of the 9 to 10 million that actually are, they’ve come here over the course of multiple decades, a majority of them crossing when they were still minors with their parents. On the macro level the vast preponderance of them were running away from violence, poverty, and drugs, rather than trying to bring violence, poverty, and drugs into the US. As for where the pictures of thuggish looking people with tattoos and gang signs came from, who the hell knows, and who the hell even knows if any of them are illegals in America or in America at all, or if they happen to be Latino or Mexican. Not that it matters, because Latino people in general, or more specifically Mexican people, and most specifically Mexican people who illegally crossed the US-Mexico border are no more likely to be inherently violent, scary people than people from any other corner of the world. As for the idea that somehow illegal immigrants being granted a path to become legal citizens instead of deporting them is going to lead to some kind of government gun grab, I just, I just don’t even know how to respond to that. I have no clue how the very diverse millions of people who at one point in their life ran over our border out of economic desperation feel about various types of gun legislation, but even in some crazy hypothetical world where all 11 million of them were the most extreme people that wanted to outlaw all guns, they wouldn’t make any kind of dent on a nation of 300 million plus of which very few feel that way. Even if 90% of Americans wanted to make all guns illegal, which is beyond a ridiculous thought because I’m very liberal and even I don’t want, that still wouldn’t happen, because the NRA owns Washington’s votes, and when more basic things like background checks get 90% support you still can’t pass it. It’s also kind of funny that all these very violent scary people who are supposedly going to come running over the US-Mexico border to presumably end up all the way in Alaska so they can violently hunt you and your white family down, are supposed to be anti-gun people. I’m sure the first thing gang member thugs want to see done in the world is an outlawing and destroying of the world’s guns; that makes so much sense. Finally, I don’t know what the fuck voter ID laws have to do with this, but I guess Miller figured, hey let me just throw that one in there, because I really need fewer regular people having an easy time voting for other sane candidates. Alaska, if you were wondering, has had 9 cases of voter fraud in the past 14 years. Meanwhile, if these 20 million illegal immigrants, 9 million of which are fictional, all came running up to Alaska tattoos, gang signs and all, and wanted to vote in a bunch of gun grabbing liberals when they weren’t busy terrorizing your church picnic, I’m not really sure how a voter ID law would stop now-legal citizens from voting, but presumably the message is “voter ID” is code for, “we’ll find a way to stop non-white people from voting, and make it really fucking hard for them to get all the proper ID we’ll require.”
             So, this is the shit that just absolutely pisses me off. Joe Miller, if he ends up in the United States Senate isn’t going to have some focus of stopping fictional gangbanger Mexicans who apparently hate guns from becoming legal citizens so they don’t somehow magically vote to take away all the rifles you have stockpiled in case Obama tries to invade Alaska. He’s going to spend most of his time in Washington, if elected, raising money from rich folks so he can keep getting reelected, and occasionally showing up to vote on a bunch of obscure, complicated pieces of legislation filled with all kinds of loopholes to get out of regulations and taxes that will help some rich industry give your job to some Chinese 12 year old, and then take away the food stamps you’ll need when that happens. But that doesn’t get votes. What gets votes in middle of nowhere Alaska (which is basically everywhere Alaska), not to mention all of the mountain west, the old deep south, and every rural district just about anywhere in the nation is, “holy shit, brown people are coming into America to be gangsters and they’ll vote to take away the guns you need to fight both minorities like them and the evil guberment.” And that’s what’s thrown out there with the backing of wealthy donations to help douches like Joe Miller end up leading our dying republic.
        

Filed under Alaska Joe Miller fear mongering race baiting gun nuts immigration illegal immigrants pathway to citizenship amnesty Dream Act 2nd Ammendment guns xenophobia facism what's the matter with Kansas syndrome politics

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ILLINOIS NEW CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT….the Doggie Annexed IL-18 TerritoryCandidate IntroductionsThe Challenger: Lilly (pictured left) Political affiliation: Liberal Age: 6 months…equivalent 7.5 doggie years via Pedigree calculatorBreed: Pit Bull/LabDominant Breed: Pit Bull —————————————————————The Incumbent: Cindy (pictured right)Political affiliation: Conservative Age:13.8 years…equivalent 84 doggie years via Pedigree calculatorBreed: Black Lab/Beagle/German Shepherd Dominant Breeds: Beagle/Black LabOn the Issues
Jobs: Lilly: My opponent will tell you that our economy is struggling, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Right now anyone who wants a cheeseburger can get a cheeseburger; all you have to do is ask the peoples. Instead of wasting time doing work, we should be enjoying life experiences like belly rubs and riding in the car.Cindy: Our doggie land needs to focus on revitalizing its communities by creating more jobs for our dogs. The best and quickest way to do that is to attract more humans to our communities. By cutting through needless safety gates, we can bring more people buddies back to our nation. Peoples are the best at finding things for us to do like getting the ball, giving paw, or getting off the couch.

ClimateLilly: Climate change scares me a lot. I’m very concerned about sink level rise, because that’s where the ice cubes come from. I’m also very concerned about more extreme droughts and floods in my doggie bowls. That’s why I support efforts to transition our world to one that runs on renewable chew toys for a more sustainable future, something an old doggie like my opponent wouldn’t care about.Cindy: My opponent will tout unproven people science, because she is an alarmist trying to scare our doggie world into a crazed communist frenzy. It’s easy for my opponent to look down upon those blasting air conditioning from her ivory pup-tent, especially considering that she has no fur. Regular dogs like us do have shaggy fur and do not want to sacrifice our quality of life based on science we can’t understand since dogs can’t read.EnvironmentLilly: The environment is very important to me. In my opponents’ world you’d have to wear a muzzle outside in order to breathe, just like down the block at the Asian doggie’s home. The environment gives me grass to roll around in, woodchips to chew on and much more. Just because my opponent is old and largely stationary doesn’t mean the rest of us should have to be inside doggies.Cindy: As a life-long inside dog, I understand the importance of a strong business economy. Every day for over 13 years my peoples have come back from the cheeseburger factory with more food for me. We can’t afford to see cheeseburger factories closing just because some bunny beurocrat wants to protect some flowers in the backyard that make me sneeze. Spending: Lilly: My opponent complains about spending, but she was one of the dogs that voted to put a war with birds and another with raccoons on a credit card, along with the prescription people food part of Dogcare. Operation Sparrow Freedom was an absolute failure, predicated on faulty intelligence and lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction found in the birdfeeders. Suddenly, she’s a debt hawk even though she racked up the bills.Cindy: We are in way too much doggie debt. Irresponsible, reckless printing of valueless beggin’ strips is brining doggie nation to its hind legs. Our currency isn’t even backed by anything. We’ve been off of the squeaky ball standard for decades of doggie years.HealthcareLilly: Getting a rabies shot in your booty should be a universal right, not a privilege. Lack of access to heartworm treatment is causing a crisis nearing epidemic proportions in underprivileged doggie communities. Pre-existing conditions like fleas should not bare you from gaining coverage, and things like preventative and prenatal care are crucial especially for the Dalmatians since I’ve heard they make 101 puppies at a time.  Cindy: My opponent blatantly lies when she says if you like your vet, you can keep your vet. A government take-over of doggie healthcare means we’d be forced to wait in long lines at Animal Welfare. Ask the dogs from the north side of the block how much they hate their government healthcare. ImmigrationLilly: This is a land of opportunity. Squirrels and bunnies are running away from deplorable conditions in their homeland behind the alley. We should be welcoming these furry creatures with open arms, most especially because they will play with me and old doggie will not. To send them back would break up bunny families, which is an animaltarian crisis.Cindy: While we all understand that our backyard nation is the best in the world, we simply cannot afford to continue to allow undocumented animals to come in and use our doggie doctors, and trainers, and take our doggie jobs and food. While my opponent managed to immigrate here recently the legal way, with papers from a shelter, in all my years of living here I have yet to see proof of citizenship from the squirrel, the bunny, or the birds. Securing our fences is crucial. Education: Lilly: Education is the key to the future of our doggie society. If all dogs are not given the tools to be good pets, we risk a future where today’s puppies become tomorrow’s abandoned strays, forced to sell kibble and bits on the street corner.  Cindy: We spend far too much time and money focusing on formal education based around standardized Petco testing. When I was a puppy we didn’t have any of that, and we turned out just fine. Having the personal responsibility to not pee in the house and the moral values to not kill defenseless squirrels should be taught in the home, not by trainers controlled by union bosses. Women’s RightsLilly: It is my generation’s responsibility to stand up for themselves. This is 2014; we should no longer accept it when female dogs are called bitches. Without access to crucial safe and legal health services at Animal Welfare I would have been in big trouble, but my opponent has consistently voted to defund Animal Welfare. These are the kind of things I just won’t tolerate.Cindy: There is no such thing as women’s rights, only doggie rights. Female dogs that want to be promiscuous should not depend on the doggie government to get them fixed. They should find people’s that will provide for them instead. Female dogs far too often accuse good male dogs of rape and sexual harassment. They also need to consider what kind of signals they were sending walking around in a dog park naked with shiny rabies tags on. A female dog’s natural role is inside taking care of her puppies, not outside digging holes for bones with her male counterparts.LGBT RightsLilly: When I was at the shelter I lived amongst a diverse group of doggies with all varieties of sexual orientation. Even though I’m not quite old enough to know what sex is and I’ve heard that my fun parts were taken out when they gave me that surgery, I believe that doggie kisses are doggie kisses no matter who you give them too. My opponent is clearly a homophobe who growls whenever I try to give her kisses.Cindy: Homosexuality is not found in the animal world. Animals that engage in homosexual activity are disobeying the orders of the original people master who told his male dogs that dry humping other male dogs is an abomination. We must obey powers higher than ourselves, and humans are a prime example of such a higher power.Foreign Policy:Lilly: While we should be prepared to defend ourselves, our military is way too bloated. Just because there is a video of a squirrel jet skiing does not mean third world animal nations have the technological capacity to bomb our pup-tents. Diplomacy is the answer. For example, I’ve supported efforts to reach a peace agreement based on us agreeing not to poop on top of designated nut-burial regions for squirrels.Cindy: We need a strong backyard defense. Hostile nations full of freedom hating rodents seek to do us harm, and we must be vigilant against their advances. God made this backyard in the place and way it is so that we may live here in our shining kennel on a hill. Death PenaltyLilly: While my geriatric opponent is hyping easily debunked hysteria about so-called bunny death panels, she ignores the very real threat of black doggies like her and pit bulls like me being disproportionately executed for non-violent violations such as chewing up a pillow, or stealing pop-tarts. There must be more accountability in our doggie justice system.Cindy: It is of great concern to me that our government is pushing for “death panels” where a review board of bunnies would decide if an old doggie is still healthy enough to not be put down. This is completely unacceptable. The only humane death for a dog is with their peoples at home.
Retirement:Lilly: My opponent seeks to lower spending by taking away from hard working dogs instead of going after Wall Street fat cats that aren’t even the same species or living on the same street as us. The same retirement guarantee that’s enabled her to sleep on her favorite blankets all day for the last 20 doggie years, is the same guarantee future generations deserve.
Cindy: Doggies work hard for their retirement, and for current old doggies I propose zero changes to our current system. However, for dogs aged less than 50 doggie years we need to modernize our retirement entitlements. By changing our Kainine Security into individual milk bone accounts, and Dogcare into a voucher system we can ensure that what you put in is what you take out, and that our promises are fully funded. 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 



 

ILLINOIS NEW CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT….the Doggie Annexed IL-18 Territory


Candidate Introductions
The Challenger: Lilly (pictured left)
Political affiliation: Liberal 
Age: 6 months…equivalent 7.5 doggie years via Pedigree calculator
Breed: Pit Bull/Lab
Dominant Breed: Pit Bull
—————————————————————
The Incumbent: Cindy (pictured right)
Political affiliation: Conservative 
Age:13.8 years…equivalent 84 doggie years via Pedigree calculator
Breed: Black Lab/Beagle/German Shepherd
Dominant Breeds: Beagle/Black Lab

On the Issues

Jobs:
Lilly: My opponent will tell you that our economy is struggling, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Right now anyone who wants a cheeseburger can get a cheeseburger; all you have to do is ask the peoples. Instead of wasting time doing work, we should be enjoying life experiences like belly rubs and riding in the car.

Cindy
: Our doggie land needs to focus on revitalizing its communities by creating more jobs for our dogs. The best and quickest way to do that is to attract more humans to our communities. By cutting through needless safety gates, we can bring more people buddies back to our nation. Peoples are the best at finding things for us to do like getting the ball, giving paw, or getting off the couch.

Climate
Lilly: Climate change scares me a lot. I’m very concerned about sink level rise, because that’s where the ice cubes come from. I’m also very concerned about more extreme droughts and floods in my doggie bowls. That’s why I support efforts to transition our world to one that runs on renewable chew toys for a more sustainable future, something an old doggie like my opponent wouldn’t care about.

Cindy
: My opponent will tout unproven people science, because she is an alarmist trying to scare our doggie world into a crazed communist frenzy. It’s easy for my opponent to look down upon those blasting air conditioning from her ivory pup-tent, especially considering that she has no fur. Regular dogs like us do have shaggy fur and do not want to sacrifice our quality of life based on science we can’t understand since dogs can’t read.

Environment
Lilly: The environment is very important to me. In my opponents’ world you’d have to wear a muzzle outside in order to breathe, just like down the block at the Asian doggie’s home. The environment gives me grass to roll around in, woodchips to chew on and much more. Just because my opponent is old and largely stationary doesn’t mean the rest of us should have to be inside doggies.

Cindy
: As a life-long inside dog, I understand the importance of a strong business economy. Every day for over 13 years my peoples have come back from the cheeseburger factory with more food for me. We can’t afford to see cheeseburger factories closing just because some bunny beurocrat wants to protect some flowers in the backyard that make me sneeze.

Spending:
Lilly: My opponent complains about spending, but she was one of the dogs that voted to put a war with birds and another with raccoons on a credit card, along with the prescription people food part of Dogcare. Operation Sparrow Freedom was an absolute failure, predicated on faulty intelligence and lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction found in the birdfeeders. Suddenly, she’s a debt hawk even though she racked up the bills.

Cindy
: We are in way too much doggie debt. Irresponsible, reckless printing of valueless beggin’ strips is brining doggie nation to its hind legs. Our currency isn’t even backed by anything. We’ve been off of the squeaky ball standard for decades of doggie years.

Healthcare
Lilly: Getting a rabies shot in your booty should be a universal right, not a privilege. Lack of access to heartworm treatment is causing a crisis nearing epidemic proportions in underprivileged doggie communities. Pre-existing conditions like fleas should not bare you from gaining coverage, and things like preventative and prenatal care are crucial especially for the Dalmatians since I’ve heard they make 101 puppies at a time. 

Cindy
: My opponent blatantly lies when she says if you like your vet, you can keep your vet. A government take-over of doggie healthcare means we’d be forced to wait in long lines at Animal Welfare. Ask the dogs from the north side of the block how much they hate their government healthcare.

Immigration
Lilly: This is a land of opportunity. Squirrels and bunnies are running away from deplorable conditions in their homeland behind the alley. We should be welcoming these furry creatures with open arms, most especially because they will play with me and old doggie will not. To send them back would break up bunny families, which is an animaltarian crisis.

Cindy
: While we all understand that our backyard nation is the best in the world, we simply cannot afford to continue to allow undocumented animals to come in and use our doggie doctors, and trainers, and take our doggie jobs and food. While my opponent managed to immigrate here recently the legal way, with papers from a shelter, in all my years of living here I have yet to see proof of citizenship from the squirrel, the bunny, or the birds. Securing our fences is crucial.

Education:
Lilly: Education is the key to the future of our doggie society. If all dogs are not given the tools to be good pets, we risk a future where today’s puppies become tomorrow’s abandoned strays, forced to sell kibble and bits on the street corner. 

Cindy
: We spend far too much time and money focusing on formal education based around standardized Petco testing. When I was a puppy we didn’t have any of that, and we turned out just fine. Having the personal responsibility to not pee in the house and the moral values to not kill defenseless squirrels should be taught in the home, not by trainers controlled by union bosses.

Women’s Rights
Lilly: It is my generation’s responsibility to stand up for themselves. This is 2014; we should no longer accept it when female dogs are called bitches. Without access to crucial safe and legal health services at Animal Welfare I would have been in big trouble, but my opponent has consistently voted to defund Animal Welfare. These are the kind of things I just won’t tolerate.

Cindy
: There is no such thing as women’s rights, only doggie rights. Female dogs that want to be promiscuous should not depend on the doggie government to get them fixed. They should find people’s that will provide for them instead. Female dogs far too often accuse good male dogs of rape and sexual harassment. They also need to consider what kind of signals they were sending walking around in a dog park naked with shiny rabies tags on. A female dog’s natural role is inside taking care of her puppies, not outside digging holes for bones with her male counterparts.

LGBT Rights
Lilly: When I was at the shelter I lived amongst a diverse group of doggies with all varieties of sexual orientation. Even though I’m not quite old enough to know what sex is and I’ve heard that my fun parts were taken out when they gave me that surgery, I believe that doggie kisses are doggie kisses no matter who you give them too. My opponent is clearly a homophobe who growls whenever I try to give her kisses.

Cindy:
Homosexuality is not found in the animal world. Animals that engage in homosexual activity are disobeying the orders of the original people master who told his male dogs that dry humping other male dogs is an abomination. We must obey powers higher than ourselves, and humans are a prime example of such a higher power.

Foreign Policy:
Lilly: While we should be prepared to defend ourselves, our military is way too bloated. Just because there is a video of a squirrel jet skiing does not mean third world animal nations have the technological capacity to bomb our pup-tents. Diplomacy is the answer. For example, I’ve supported efforts to reach a peace agreement based on us agreeing not to poop on top of designated nut-burial regions for squirrels.

Cindy
: We need a strong backyard defense. Hostile nations full of freedom hating rodents seek to do us harm, and we must be vigilant against their advances. God made this backyard in the place and way it is so that we may live here in our shining kennel on a hill.

Death Penalty
Lilly: While my geriatric opponent is hyping easily debunked hysteria about so-called bunny death panels, she ignores the very real threat of black doggies like her and pit bulls like me being disproportionately executed for non-violent violations such as chewing up a pillow, or stealing pop-tarts. There must be more accountability in our doggie justice system.

Cindy
: It is of great concern to me that our government is pushing for “death panels” where a review board of bunnies would decide if an old doggie is still healthy enough to not be put down. This is completely unacceptable. The only humane death for a dog is with their peoples at home.

Retirement:
Lilly: My opponent seeks to lower spending by taking away from hard working dogs instead of going after Wall Street fat cats that aren’t even the same species or living on the same street as us. The same retirement guarantee that’s enabled her to sleep on her favorite blankets all day for the last 20 doggie years, is the same guarantee future generations deserve.

Cindy: Doggies work hard for their retirement, and for current old doggies I propose zero changes to our current system. However, for dogs aged less than 50 doggie years we need to modernize our retirement entitlements. By changing our Kainine Security into individual milk bone accounts, and Dogcare into a voucher system we can ensure that what you put in is what you take out, and that our promises are fully funded.


 


 

 

 




 

 

 

 




Filed under dogs politics IL18 decision 2014 Lilly vs Cindy puppy this is fucking intense

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Where the Question, “Can Atheists Be Republicans?” Ended up Taking Me This Morning

      I recently saw a thread where the question, “can atheists be Republicans?” was posed. Throughout the thread a few other questions emerged, such as “why did totalitarian communist leaders prefer abolishing religion, rather than using it to oppress?” Additionally, some common subliminal sentiments were found in the writing such as “religion creates good,” “religion is freedom,” and “moral relativism scares me,” as well as some overt ones, such as “religious views do not shape political views.” Considering that I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the political and religious philosophies that drive the laws and social norms pertaining to every important aspect of civilization, it inspired me to write about some of these issues here.
            To begin, I’d need to address the difference between the modern definition of Republican and Democrat and its historical meaning. Historically, political parties were merely ways to provide collective monetary and non-monetary resources to candidates which like-minded people supported. Political parties were sort of the “unions” of politics. It used to be fairly common practice for someone to be a “card-carrying” member of some party, to which they would donate money, much as someone would pay union dues. This sort of crowd-funding is contrasted with today’s privatized, individualized, corporatized funding of candidates via “outside money.” Within the old political parties there were large “tents” where conservatives, moderates, and liberals existed. There was a time not so long ago when there were liberal Republicans and conservative Republicans, liberal Democrats, and conservative Democrats. Political parties were “teams” that needed all different “types” of players, just like a football team needs big huge fat guys, super-fast athletic guys, guys who can kick, guys who can catch, guys who can tackle, guys who can throw a ball really hard and far, etc. In order for any individual candidate to have a chance he needed the backing of a diverse centralized money pot, so you’d have racist Dixicrats running with New Deal Democrats, McCarthyite red scare Republicans running with Lincoln Republicans, etc.  It has only been in more recent times that ideologies have polarized and been reflected by party designation, which no longer serve as resource providers, but ideological identification. Today, conservative means Republican and liberal means Democrat.
         So, really, when one asks if an atheist can be a Republican in our modern times, with a modern understanding of the term, the question being posed is really whether atheists can be conservative. In order to answer that, you have to define what conservative means. Conservative, much like liberal, can mean a number of things, to a number of different people. For some, conservative has something to do with religious social values. To others it has something to do with hawkish foreign policy stances. To others it has something to do with promoting pro-employer, pro-business environments. To others it has something to do with a paranoid fear of change, a loss of order, and the end of hierarchies of diverse people “knowing their place.” There are many reasons one may be a conservative, for conservative has many types of draws, as does liberalism. When presented with the question of whether or not an atheist would be a conservative the answer is that an atheist could be anything they want to be, but more likely than not, when one is an atheist one is a free thinker, a libertarian of sorts, and it is incredibly unlikely that a liberated thinker would freely come to adopt various conservative stances. There is one exception, which is the pro-business, or economic libertarian, but as for social values, prejudices, hierarchies, fear of change, or paranoia, a free-thinker would likely not end up walking down the conservative road. In other words, if one is free enough to reject comforting superstition even in the face of familial and societal pressures, one is unlikely to be a homophobic, racist, hawkish, patriarchal, change resistant, fearful, gun stashing type, which means they will never adopt neocon, social conservative, law and order values and views.
             However, as I previously said in passing, economic conservatism is another story. In fact, ruthless individualism should, in theory, be a hallmark of atheism. People tend to forget that religions initially existed as collectivist, redistributive weapons of the masses. The idea of religious morality is for the masses to tell the powerful, “hey you must share with us or else some power higher than us will punish you,” and for the minorities to tell the majorities, “hey you must tolerate us or else some power higher than us will punish you.” Long before religion was a weapon of the traditionally rich or powerful, and tranquilizer of the oppressed, it was the tool the poor, weak, and outnumbered used as a weapon against giants. When you remove religion from the equation, and people come to realize there is no eternal afterlife with supreme judgment, and no book of absolute legislation written in favor of the weak, and no unifying communal force of religious communities, people become individuals, living in a Darwinistic world where the goal is to survive and reproduce, and only those that can help you achieve those goals are to be used in some way out of your own self-interest. All the while, as they recognize that their death is the absolute end of their existence, they seek to jam as much pleasure into their life as possible, and knowing there exists no judgment for the ways those pleasures are acquired, they are free to be absolutely ruthless individuals. Basically, when you let go of the dictated leftist morality of religious dogma, remove yourself from emotionally bonded religious communities, and recognize the finite nature of your own existence that holds no higher purpose or meaning, you are free to become the Ayn Rand you’d naturally want to be, but which religious dogma would otherwise prevent you from becoming.
        In other words, capitalism, materialism, individualism, social Darwinism, hedonism, and the ruthlessness that come with them are what, by human nature, flow naturally from most people when freed from superstitious indoctrination, meaning that, when asking whether atheists can be conservatives, at least on an economic front, they most certainly can, and it is surprising that more of them are not hardened individualist free-marketeers. But as to whether an atheist can be a Republican today, the answer is no, because Republican ideology combines so much else with ruthless economic individualism which runs contrary to the results of free thinking that human nature produces.
            Now, as to the question, “why do totalitarian leaders prefer to use communism to control and oppress?” the answer is, of course, that totalitarian leaders do not hold preferences as to how they control and oppress, but rather simply wish to control and oppress by any means possible. The above question is posed with a particular subliminal or perhaps consciously intended bias in mind. That self-serving bias is one of a religious person who shapes their identity, purpose, and meaning out of religion, and as such is pained to think of religion as a good tool for doing others harm. This type of person would prefer to think that when religion is in play people are better off, and when religion is removed they are worse off. They would want to believe that religion is an incompatible tool with oppression, while secularism is a natural fit. It allows them to formulate a black and white view of morality within which the irrational belief systems that stabilize their life are actually rational because they are inherently good, while the rational rejection of such irrational views are actually irrational because they are inherently bad.
         The very fact that the religious find it impossible to acknowledge how religion can, and ions of times over has, been used to oppress people, demonstrates one of the central differences between religion and secularism. The religious are religious because they want to be religious, for religion provides them something they cannot obtain without hanging on to certainty in such irrational beliefs. Meanwhile an atheist is an atheist not because they want to be, but rather because they are free enough, and either tough enough or not creative enough, to simply accept what is. A secular person sees what is because they have not been indoctrinated and then are simply either rugged enough to accept the world that would seem to be cold and harsh, or simply lacking in creativity to erroneously convince their otherwise scared and weak self that the cold, harsh world they see is a mere illusion (I happen to be a lacking in creativity type, for those wondering; I’m not at all tough). Found within such freedom paired with toughness and/or lack of creativity is the ability to acknowledge the ways in which acceptance of the rational need to reject comforting superstition can and has been used by dictatorial people to inflict great harm upon a great many others. In short, the fact religious people are unwilling to see how religion has hurt people, while atheists can clearly see how communism has hurt people demonstrates a core difference between believers and non-believers.      
            What tyrannical dictators would most desire is to be worshiped in addition to having absolute power they can use to oppress. Thus, they would much prefer to use communism to turn themselves into gods after creating a vacuum by destroying belief in unseen deities. The problem is that you cannot destroy that which is not tangible. You cannot destroy belief in unseen deities, because that belief exists in people’s hearts and minds. If the only thing standing in between a dictator and absolute worship and power were another human being, they could simply kill them, but you cannot kill god, for god is an idea. It is why no matter how many terrorists the west kills, you cannot end Islamic extremism terrorism, for it is the expression of an idea, rather than a person. It is for this reason that communist dictatorships fail far quicker and more spectacularly than theocratic dictatorships. When a tyrant legitimizes their power by anointing themselves a surrogate of a higher power they can retain power, as it is impossible for the people to kill their ultimate oppressor (the idea of the higher power that they are told gives authority to their tyrants). Additionally, the people can retain hope and will be slower to anger. They will have hope that whatever exists in the world beyond their physical suffering here is better, and their anger is placed more against an unseen deity they have been trained to believe is merely sending orders down to a human surrogate, meaning they will be less likely to unleash that fury on the human surrogate.
           Now, I’d like to examine the intertwined views amongst westerners, and particularly Americans, that religion equates goodness and freedom. In order to address this it’d be most appropriate for me to talk about something I read recently which examined why more Americans are not atheists. In short, the answer is because religion is very much tied to politics (which, of course, addresses another one of the sentiments I’m seeking to address in this writing, which is that of “religion is not all that tied to political views.”). The longer explanation is, that contrary to what most might think, and what people like me would hope, periods of religious decline are not correlated with increases in knowledge. What seems intuitive to people is that over time the “god of the gaps” is discarded and replaced with actual answers that science brings us, and as such actual answers begin to accumulate, belief in deities and dogma decreases in toe. However, that’s not what happens. When great scientific advancements are made, people become no less religious, because while religion may have first been created for the purpose of filling in gaps, it has come to provide things like hope, community, purpose, and meaning, which no scientific explanation of how the universe actually works can replace. Those sort of emotional needs are “gaps” that god can never be removed from in the hearts of most humans.
          What does, however, remove god from the hearts of humans is when god begins to work against people’s self-interest. The article examined the political and religious histories of Great Britain, France, and America. In France, the idea of god was used for so much bad that the people grew an appetite to kill him, even in spite of the other emotional gaps he might have been able to fill. In Great Britain, to a lesser extent they were ready to kill god, but it was not nearly as nasty or brutal. To this day, France is far more atheistic than Great Britain. Meanwhile, in America, it was ironically the removal of god from our original government that helped save him in this land. For, when god is not being used to oppress others, and you are free to believe or not believe, most will believe, because you can fill those emotional gaps (hope, community, purpose, meaning, etc) without enduring the harm of theocratic rule.
        Then, as American marched on into its most prosperous of times, other areas of the world were experimenting with forced, rather than chosen atheistic rule. While Western Europe was leery of the idea of god because of their past, Eastern Europe and much of Asia sought to forcibly destroy god. Americans saw the results of this and came to the conclusion that without god horrible things happen, so America began to use their freedom of religion to more tightly cling to religion. The fact that Americans remained free and prosperous led to its people taking a correlation (their using their freedom to cling tighter to god being correlated with their prosperity) as causation (clinging to god being the cause of their prosperity), as much as they saw the causation of forcing people to not believe in communist countries equaling lack of prosperity. What Americans saw was “religion=prosperity and freedom,” when in reality what was true was that “freedom=both prosperity and people freely choosing to be very religious.” This is ultimately how Americans came to see religion as being necessary for and synonymous with freedom and prosperity.
            The last idea I’d like to address is the fear of “moral relativism.” It is ironic that Americans are most fearful of moral freedom, when freedom, rather than religion, is actually the thing that keeps them so prosperous and happy. It would appear the reason people are so afraid of people being free to determine their own morals is that they simply do not trust others. Remember, that when people are free, they become more individualistic, and when people become more individualistic they become more self-centered, and that selfishness can be quite ruthless. People who are liberated from the indoctrination of religious morality (which is ultimately leftist morality) are free to pursue solely their own well-being. While that freedom is exciting, it is also scary, because one realizes that everyone else is also only out for themselves, viewing everyone else as mere pawns that can be used, exploited, or harmed for personal gain in a cold, Darwinistic world. For the immensely powerful, they may find no problem with such a social Darwinist world, but for everyone else, they would much prefer a world where people are forced to share, play nice, and selflessly come together for the sake of the greater good of greater amounts of people.
          What most people fail to realize is that this fear they feel is the same fear that was felt within any society prior to the creation of religious norms. Obviously, at some point, if you go far enough back, any group of people living together, be it in old hunter gatherer tribes, or the later, stationary agricultural groups had a point when they first came together where they were all individuals merely using each other for personal survival. They would have reached a point where most in the group began to feel afraid that the most powerful in the group were going to treat everyone else horribly simply because they could, so they started creating narratives, symbols, and traditions that said it was sacred to share and play nice so that everyone’s interests were sufficiently served. In other words, it is innate to all humans to form moral guides that help make sure everyone is treated well and taken care of. The problem is that most of us don’t take it that one step further and realize this. Most humans assume that if you don’t cite some unseen magical deity and declare the infallible holiness of peaceful, inclusionary morality that morality will go unfollowed and fall apart. That’s not true. Independent of belief in the superstitious we are a smart enough creature to recognize that life would be nasty, brutish, and short without a particular type of social contract. Recognizing that such a social contract was first created before the concept of religion existed, and then made into various religions, and that it can and will continue to be followed in the absence of religion, so long as freedom reigns, is what it takes to accept that moral freedom, otherwise demonized as the scary sounding “moral relativism,” is not at all scary.
          So, that’s my little writing for the day on the intersection of religion, politics, and morality.


Filed under atheism religion communism theocracy freedom prosperity morality moral freedom moral relativism Republican Democrat philosophy government free thinking social values economic values Darwin social darwinism Marxism Ayn Rand capitalism individualism collectivism materialism hedonism

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http://www.salon.com/2014/08/07/new_study_reveals_the_secret_to_winning_over_climate_deniers/
              I’ve often been known to promote the view that education does not make a difference in combating climate change denial. I’ve often felt that denial is more psychologically based than ignorance based. Much of my view on such was shaped by the Yale Leserowitz studies that found the more informed conservatives felt they were on the issue of climate the more certain they became that they were correct in denying its existence. However, it now appears that the methodology of that type of survey may be off. More recently a study out of Australia has found that when you determine the level of climate knowledge an individual possesses by quizzing them on basics, for one particular type of conservative, genuinely holding more knowledge vastly increases the amount of acceptance they have of the science. The particular type of conservative is the libertarian conservative. It would appear that when they actually prove they know things about climate change their acceptance of the science is far higher than when they truly do not know things about the subject. Conversely, the more authoritarian style conservatives are not persuaded by actual knowledge.          This is interesting both because it is now our job to figure out why libertarian conservatives are more receptive to climate science, and what their greater acceptance than authoritarian conservatives means in the battle to take action. As to why libertarians are more receptive it may simply boil down to the fact that they are less tribal, although more ideological. They worship the ideology of pure freedom, and as such are reflexively inclined to deny the science of climate change, as it appears to pose a threat to the altar of freedom, but they are also, well, more liberated, and in being such free thinkers they find it difficult to individually choose to deny simple facts and realities that make sense. Certainly, it leaves them in a conflicted position, because they want to be free to accept the facts, but also fear that accepting the facts (or at least acting upon them) would cripple future freedom. This might explain why climate-educated libertarian conservatives end up falling in between climate-educated liberals and climate-educated authoritarian conservatives in terms of their level of acceptance. As to what this means, it would appear that, quite surprisingly, it means that establishment or moderate Republicans will be later to full climate acceptance than Tea Party style Republicans. We all know how last summer a Tea Party group teamed up with environmentalists in Georgia to fight against Koch brother backed attempts to cripple the solar industry by created a legally sanctioned power monopoly in various regions, yet many, myself included, dismissed it as the Tea Party merely putting unfettered capitalism and economic competitiveness above their love of fossil fuels. Now, it would appear that there is actually far more potential from the far-right (at least the ideological and economic far right) to take the side of climate science and renewable energy in future situations.         The establishment conservatives are not as free. They are tribal, worshiping hierarchies (which is where the religious right and neocons come from), rather than freedom, and with such being the case if their tribal leaders, which just so happen to be big business, keep telling them to deny climate change, they will. But for those libertarian conservatives who happen to not subscribe to any worship of economic, religious, or racial hierarchies (it is indeed possible for some to consider themselves free thinkers and freely choose to worship such hierarchies), the potential to make them allies with free thinking science minded liberals on this most important of issues seems to be a great possibility.

http://www.salon.com/2014/08/07/new_study_reveals_the_secret_to_winning_over_climate_deniers/


   
          I’ve often been known to promote the view that education does not make a difference in combating climate change denial. I’ve often felt that denial is more psychologically based than ignorance based. Much of my view on such was shaped by the Yale Leserowitz studies that found the more informed conservatives felt they were on the issue of climate the more certain they became that they were correct in denying its existence. However, it now appears that the methodology of that type of survey may be off. More recently a study out of Australia has found that when you determine the level of climate knowledge an individual possesses by quizzing them on basics, for one particular type of conservative, genuinely holding more knowledge vastly increases the amount of acceptance they have of the science. The particular type of conservative is the libertarian conservative. It would appear that when they actually prove they know things about climate change their acceptance of the science is far higher than when they truly do not know things about the subject. Conversely, the more authoritarian style conservatives are not persuaded by actual knowledge.
         This is interesting both because it is now our job to figure out why libertarian conservatives are more receptive to climate science, and what their greater acceptance than authoritarian conservatives means in the battle to take action. As to why libertarians are more receptive it may simply boil down to the fact that they are less tribal, although more ideological. They worship the ideology of pure freedom, and as such are reflexively inclined to deny the science of climate change, as it appears to pose a threat to the altar of freedom, but they are also, well, more liberated, and in being such free thinkers they find it difficult to individually choose to deny simple facts and realities that make sense. Certainly, it leaves them in a conflicted position, because they want to be free to accept the facts, but also fear that accepting the facts (or at least acting upon them) would cripple future freedom. This might explain why climate-educated libertarian conservatives end up falling in between climate-educated liberals and climate-educated authoritarian conservatives in terms of their level of acceptance. As to what this means, it would appear that, quite surprisingly, it means that establishment or moderate Republicans will be later to full climate acceptance than Tea Party style Republicans. We all know how last summer a Tea Party group teamed up with environmentalists in Georgia to fight against Koch brother backed attempts to cripple the solar industry by created a legally sanctioned power monopoly in various regions, yet many, myself included, dismissed it as the Tea Party merely putting unfettered capitalism and economic competitiveness above their love of fossil fuels. Now, it would appear that there is actually far more potential from the far-right (at least the ideological and economic far right) to take the side of climate science and renewable energy in future situations.
        The establishment conservatives are not as free. They are tribal, worshiping hierarchies (which is where the religious right and neocons come from), rather than freedom, and with such being the case if their tribal leaders, which just so happen to be big business, keep telling them to deny climate change, they will. But for those libertarian conservatives who happen to not subscribe to any worship of economic, religious, or racial hierarchies (it is indeed possible for some to consider themselves free thinkers and freely choose to worship such hierarchies), the potential to make them allies with free thinking science minded liberals on this most important of issues seems to be a great possibility.

Filed under climate change global warming liberal conservative libertarian authoritarian education

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previewofthoughts:

specialagentofthelamb:

This woman deserves a round of applause and a throne of gold. This is the most realistic & amazing thing for someone to say for this generation of students. I wasn’t able to go to college this year because my parents can’t afford to send me and I had every scholarship, grant, loan known to man and it still wouldn’t work. Finally someone gets it!

no, she’s an idiot and the reason college prices are so high is because of government guaranteed grants and loans. It’s only going to get worse because the student loan industry was nationalized in 2010. She has no idea what she’s talking about and no one should praise her for this.

        The reason the cost of college is so high (which isn’t something that randomly started in 2010, it had been skyrocketing for a long time before that) is university greed and supply and demand. Universities are paying administration and professors obscene amounts, and building massive, useless showpiece additions. Meanwhile, more and more people need to pursue college to get a living wage job, because globalization and technology have taken away most of the living wage blue collar jobs you could get with a high school degree, which creates a domino effect throughout the economy.
         Warren’s argument is that the government is being immoral when they try to turn a profit off of college loans. The government is looking at college loans as an opportunity to generate revenue, where they give you X and then try to pull back X, plus a boatload of interest from you over the course of your lifetime. That’s wrong. Whether it’s the government trying to generate revenue or privatized groups trying to generate profits, there are certain things like life, like schools, hospitals, prisons, etc that shouldn’t be “for-profit” or “for revenue.” You would think that you’d actually like what she’s saying, because your worldview is the government is always wrong, incompetent, and evil, and in this particular instance she is agreeing with you. What you’re mad about is that government loans for college are guaranteed, because you hate it when people who aren’t financial elites get guaranteed things like the ability to get a K-12 education, a college education, a secure retirement, healthcare, etc. Your view has always been if you or your family can’t afford to send you to school, or get you medicine, or you didn’t have enough savings to retire out of poverty then you don’t deserve schooling, medicine, retirement, etc. It’s why you hate public schools, guaranteed college loans, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.
       At the end of the day you’re a social Darwinist who uses hatred of government as a cover for what you really hate which is society collectively agreeing that everyone deserves certain guarantees in life, one of which happens to be that if you proved you are smart and hard-working enough to get into college (with a college degree now being a near necessity to live a middle class life), there is a guarantee that you will get a loan to go to college if your parents can’t afford it. That kind of stuff really works you up. I can’t quite figure out if you truly erroneously believe that people can still do the Rudy thing and wait tables to put themselves through school and that anyone who is smart enough to get into college can make a living wage without a college degree anyways, or if you really just love the idea of traditional power structures where your fortunes and outcomes are basically tied to the kind of parents you were born to.
        Also, Warren is not stupid. You can call her ideas stupid if that’s your view, but this whole anyone who doesn’t agree with me is an idiot thing isn’t going to get you very far in politics, unless you want to go down the path of being one of those people that does things like shutdown the government because they are having a temper tantrum over not being able to get their way all the time. Warren is a genius just like Cruz is a genius. Differences in political policy emanate from differences in values, not intellect. She’s actually one of the few true populists out there, who criticizes both private industry and government for being immoral elitists whenever take advantage of regular people. She’s kind of like Bernie Sanders, and she’ll probably become an Independent like him over time. You have to decide whether you are really a populist who believes government is always getting in the way of what is best for everyone, or a defender of elites who simply hates government because he sees it as the enemy of the agenda of the elites, and the weapon of the masses. There are two kinds of Republicans, neither of which I agree with, but one of which I at least respect and think are just wrong, but well intentioned, and the other of which I simply think are slim. You can either be a Wall St. Republican who uses religion, racial prejudices, and fake populist rhetoric to get power on behalf of the elites, or you can be a Republican who really just happens to think government is bad for regular people.
        

 

(Source: futomato)

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Water Crisis In Toledo

       I’m a liberal for many reasons, but chief amongst them are that I prioritize the well-being of the masses above other considerations. In Toledo, Ohio this week, we’ve seen what happens when you prioritize other interests. In case you haven’t heard, for three days approximately 400,000 people in northeast Ohio who get their water from Lake Erie were told they could not use tap water. The state’s national guard had to bring in tons of water to people who still needed to, you know, drink water, shower, and do their laundry amongst other things. When liberals get their way, things like this don’t happen. So, what exactly did happen?
        Recently, a major blue green algae bloom caused excessive amounts of toxins to build up in Lake Erie’s drinking water. Despite the best efforts of water filtration plants, the toxin levels could not be reduced below the world health organization’s guidelines for maximum levels. If you want to build the perfect storm for this situation to have unfolded in the way it did you mix in some crumbling infrastructure, with some climate change denial, environmental ignorance, and lack of proper regulations on business. This all ultimately deals with phosphorous, which when built up in too high a quantity in a lake will help produce more and bigger algae blooms. The infrastructure that might filter out such phosphorous is old and obsolete, while larger and larger amounts are indeed heading through that infrastructure and to the Lake Erie mostly because Ohio is one of the few states around the Great Lakes (or that is filled with many smaller lakes) that refuses to enforce a ban on phosphorus nutrients in lawn fertilizer products (Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin have all banned banned phosphate nutrients in lawn fertilizers).
       You see, because we are incredibly dense, we’ve grown attached to this idea that all the residential, and even some of the commercial buildings in our world need to be surrounded by aesthetically pleasing green grass. Lawns, in addition to taking up vast quantities of water that will become increasingly sparse in a post-climate change world, also require that people use all kinds of sprays full of dangerous weed killing chemicals and fertilizers to help keep their grass green, free of flowers and weeds, and growing nice, fast, and full. In many fertilizers there is phosphorous. While agricultural fertilizers lead to phosphorous runoff into Lake Erie, residential phosphorous runoff is actually a much larger issue. That’s because of the phosphorous density of lawn fertilizers and the smooth surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and rooftops that wash that phosphorous down into drainage systems. On an acre per acre basis there is 4X’s the amount of phosphorous runoff from residential lawns as there is from fertilized crops and soils. And each pound of phosphorous that gets into the lake can provide the nutrients needed to produce 300-500 pounds of algae bloom.
        Before you even get into the health impacts of blue green algae blooms, the fact that they will soak up oxygen in the water when decomposing hurts fish, which in turn hurts the fishing economy. That, combined with the fact that these blooms cause temporary bans on swimming and boating, which in turn lead to lowered tourism profits and decreased property values near the shoreline, all amounts to an annual 82 million dollar loss to the US economy. That of course is the economic cost excluding all the healthcare costs that blue green algae brings on, which is why we do need to talk about what exactly blue green algae does to people.
      You can ingest blue green algae (cyanobacteria) directly by drinking the water, or coming into direct contact with it while swimming, or you might ingest it by eating fish that have been in the affected water, or you could even breathe it in if you live close enough to a lake or river going through a bloom, as evaporated water still contains the bacteria when in its gaseous water vapor form. The actual health impacts include short term annoyances like skin rashes, eye irritation, stomach problems, vomiting, or allergic reactions, but it’s the long term impacts that are truly scary. If over the long run you are drinking water, eating fish, or breathing air with cyanobacteria you will likely be ingesting small amounts of BMAA, which is an amino acid byproduct of cyanobacteria. BMAA is not one of the good amino acids that serve as the building blocks of proteins. Rather, they can trick the body into accepting them, after which they stick to other amino acids to form misshapen clumps, rather than properly formed proteins. These clumps can begin to build up in the brain and spinal cord and cause diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS. BMAA can also act as an excitotoxin on glutamine receptors which unnaturally overstimulates neurons, causing them to die, and ultimately causing one of the diseases listed above. 
          So, even when levels are at an “acceptable” level according to the WHO and EPA, if a lake is having periodic blue green algae blooms that are bigger, more frequent, and last longer, the water will contain more and more trace cyanobacteria, which will lead to more and more locals ingesting BMAA over long periods of time. Depending on one’s genetic makeup, the body might be able to straight up filter the BMAA out, but for others the BMAA either begins to overwork the liver, ultimately leading to liver disease or cancer, or else the liver stops trying to keep up with it and it begins to slowly accumulate in the brain and central nervous system, causing some horrific neurological disease. So, in the short term rashes, eye irritation, vomiting, and in the long run a percentage of the local population getting liver cancer, Alzheimer’s, ALS, and Parkinson’s they would have otherwise not gotten. The WHO recommendation of 1 microgram per liter of water won’t protect from those long term exposure effects, even if it’s enough to avoid the easily recognizable short term, high level exposure stuff like the rashes and vomiting.
       The answer to this problem would seem to be pretty simple: regulate the lawn fertilizer industry in Ohio and make investments in water infrastructure throughout the state to stop what phosphorous still runs into the lake from agricultural fertilizers. Yet, we know those two things won’t happen, because Ohio has John Kasich as Governor and he’s one of those “legitimate” 2016 nominees who needs to appeal to a base that believes telling an industry to stop putting something in their useless, wasteful product (helping suburban people make a really bright green lawn) that helps them make it cheaper and get more sales from having a higher quality, in order to protect the state’s water supply from being contaminated with disease causing algae, is a declaration of war on freedom and the wonderful rich businesses that allow us to live wonderful American lives with their trickle down benevolence. We also know that there won’t be any investment in infrastructure because that would mean spending predominately rich people’s money to build things like better water filtration systems that protect regular old folks from developing Parkinson’s disease, and who would want to do that, when those rich people could so much more wisely spend their money investing in each other’s multi-million dollar companies?
      Plus, the problem is worse than it would normally be because we have decided protecting natural ecosystems and our climate are not worthwhile endeavors. I suppose because our nation was built with a disregard for natives we take the same approach to animals. That’s why we do things like put invasive species in an ecosystem and then refuse to spend the money necessary to fix the problems it inevitably creates. In Lake Erie invasive zebra and quaga mussels eat natural competitors to blue-green algae, meaning when it does bloom it has more room to bloom and will bloom farther because things that would eat it aren’t there anymore. These mussels also happen to release phosphorous that would otherwise remain trapped in the bottom sediments of the lake.  On top of that, climate change is adding fuel to the fire. Since the 1950’s heavy rainfall events in the Midwest have increased 37%, which is massive in climatological terms. While the west burns up in record drought and fires, the eastern US is getting hammered with more and more flood like events. That’s significant here because heavy rainfall events wash away the most phosphorous, creating the largest sort of runoffs into the lake. Additionally, summers that start sooner, end later, and have higher average temperatures allow the algae to come earlier, stay later, and grow larger than would otherwise be the case.
        That’s especially bad news, because in addition to this unnecessary lawn fertilizer based phosphorous runoff going through outdated filtration systems into a lake that is full of foreign mussels that make it easier for the algae phosphorous feeds to grow, the agricultural practices of the region are also changing in ways that lead to greater phosphorous runoff. For one, the area has turned largely to soy bean farming, for which farmers us no tilling practices, meaning that in an attempt to reduce erosion they do not turn the soil over and concentrate phosphorous fertilizers on the top layer, which is most likely to wash off during those heavy rainfall events. Additionally, animal feeding operations are becoming bigger in northeast Ohio, meaning more animal manure, which is also a big source of phosphorous. Placing regulations on farmers that would call for them to stop spreading so much maneur from their animals could be taken to help this problem, but as we already established Ohio has one of those “freedom” governors who would much prefer you slowly drink up liver and neurotoxins in your water over several decades than infringe on the freedom of massive lawn fertilizer companies or big agribusiness. Oh, and then when you get sick they’ll expect that your faith in God, not affordable healthcare will get you through it. Seriously, fuck this shit.

Filed under water clean water Toledo Ohio John Kasich politics environment blue green algae neurotoxins liver toxins cyanobacteria BMAA infastructure water filtration water runoff phosphorous climate change invasive species lawn fertilizer agricultural fertilizer agricultural practices regulations business regulations farming regulations disease alzheimers ALS Parkinson's liver cancer liberal