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Bjorn Against

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Member since: Mon May 22, 2006, 07:07 PM
Number of posts: 10,350

Journal Archives

How pragmatic were the pragmatists when it came to the Iraq War and gay marriage?

We hear a lot from the "pragmatists" about the importance of accepting political reality, because the pragmatists like to talk about reality so much I think it is fair to take a look at whether or not they truly have a grasp on the reality they like to insist they are in touch with.

I remember the lead up to the Iraq War and I remember watching the pragmatists rallying behind Bush to show bi-partisan support for the war. Many of us in the progressive community loudly objected to the rush to war, but we were dismissed as the "far left" and our love for our country was called into question. Those of us who did not believe the administration's claims on WMD's were dismissed as conspiracy theorists, while the so-called pragmatists insisted that the Bush Administration's case for war was rock solid.

Well it turned out the pragmatists were not so pragmatic after all and they helped Bush in creating what may well be the worst foreign policy disaster in American history. Thousands of Americans dead, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, trillions of dollars in depleted treasury, and our nation's reputation in tatters. That is what the policy that the "pragmatists" told us we should support gave us.

Then there is the issue of marriage equality. Just a few short years ago the pragmatists called support for gay marriage a far-left extremist position, they insisted that advocating for such a thing would guarantee the Republicans election victories for years to come. Well it turned out that support for gay marriage was not as extreme a position as the pragmatists insisted it was and now gay marriage is legal in a number of states and it is looking more and more likely that it will be legal across the nation.

Then there is the issue of marijuana legalization, just a few years ago those of us who talked about this were often ridiculed by the pragmatists who insisted that promoting legalization would not only make us all look like pot heads but also create a society filled with mass drug addiction and higher crime rates. Well guess what? Two states have now legalized pot and the massive problems that were predicted never came to pass, now people across the nation are saying they want legalization in their states as well. Once again, the pragmatist policy proved to be not nearly as pragmatic as they thought it was.

There are a number of other "far left" positions that the so-called pragmatists tell us that are not realistic to push for. They tell us single payer health care is not realistic despite the fact that many other countries have adopted it and most Americans want it. They tell us that fighting back against the extremists in the NRA is not realistic because it will cost us votes despite the fact that in the last election candidates with F ratings from the NRA outperformed candidates with A ratings. They tell us that calling for an end to NSA spying is not realistic despite the fact that most Americans value their privacy. I call bullshit to all of it, the arrogance of the so-called "realists" in continuing to pretend they have a better grasp on reality than the rest of us despite the fact that they are wrong so often needs to be called out.

The pragmatists are not nearly as pragmatic nor as realistic as they claim to be, it is time to stand up for what is right and stop letting people who have been wrong so many times tell us what is and is not realistic.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Tue Apr 1, 2014, 08:30 PM (121 replies)

It is not about the swimsuit issue it is about basic respect for women

I am a man and I must admit that I really don't understand women very well. I hear a lot of men say they understand women, but the reality is that none of us really understand women because none of us have ever walked a day in their shoes.

When I first saw the swimsuit issue posted here I was not upset about it at all, in fact I fully admit I found the women on the cover attractive. I did not necessarily think it belonged in GD, but I was certainly not bothered by it. I looked at it found it attractive, but still had to shake my head a bit at the oogling over it downthread. I was not upset about about the image at all, these sorts of images are everywhere and I did not think much of it.

But then something happened; I saw women trying to express their views on the photo and I saw the way they were treated for expressing those views. I may not understand women, but I am not completely ignorant either, I know that this country does have an ugly history of misogyny and I saw far too many misogynistic comments posted in response to the swimsuit photo.

I may not understand women and it is difficult to put myself in their shoes. It is difficult for me to imagine that my Great Grandmother would not have even been legally able to vote when she turned of age. I can not imagine what it would be like to be a women with an unwanted pregnancy in the 1950's where the only option for an abortion was a guy with a coat hanger in a back alley. I can not imagine what it would be like to be a housewife living with an abusive husband who controlled her with violence. I can not understand any of this, all I can understand is what it is like to be a man.

As much as some people try to tell me that misandry is just as big of a problem as misogyny, I am looking over my entire life and I just can't think of a time that I faced any sort of oppression because I am male. I may have been called a gendered insult like "Dick" before, but I can't say it really damaged me in any way. I suspect the women who had "Bitch!!!" screamed at her right before she was beaten and raped suffered far worse than I did when I was called a dick.

My fellow men, we may not understand women but we need to try harder to do so. We need to understand that a number of the women objecting to these photos being posted are likely rape victims. I don't know which DUers are victims of rape, I don't know which ones have a mother or daughter who was raped, but I do know that they are here because the stats show us just how many women have been victims of sexual assault. Victims of sexual violence are a part of our community and we need to respect them.

We need to understand that someone who was the victim of a sexual assault may have a very different reaction to a sexualized photo than you or I, they may have been raped by someone who shoved pictures like that in their face. Now you may say that the picture did not cause the rape, and maybe you are right but that does not mean that the woman does not have a valid reason to be seriously bothered by the image.

You may try and dismiss this as a "personal issue", but the fact is when millions of rape victims across the nation have these "personal issues" it is not really a personal issue it is an issue with our society.

If you want to go look at the swimsuit issue go ahead, but when you do so do it in a way that is respectful to others. If others tell you they don't want to see it there is absolutely no reason to show it to them, be respectful of others and recognize that women may have valid reasons for being upset that us men are really unable to fully comprehend.

Do what you want in the privacy of your home, but let's have some basic respect for the women of this site.

I used to think people in this group exaggerated the level of misogyny on this site...

After what I have seen the last couple of weeks however I realize that you were all right, there really is an extreme level of disrespect towards women coming from a few people on this site and it sickens me that they are being allowed to get by with it.

I tried to stand up for you and was told I have "personal issues" because I viewed the swimsuit issue cover as a sexual image. I even made it clear that I do not have a problem with people viewing sexual images on their own time, but I do have a problem with pushing these images on people who do not want to see them. If I were to send such an image to a female co-worker I would be fired for sexual harrassment and rightfully so, if it is considered sexual harrassment outside of DU then I don't see why it should not be considered sexual harrassment here.

I used to think that some of the members of this group took things way too far, but now I understand that I was wrong. There really are blatant misogynists on this site who seem to take pleasure in pushing you around, sometimes they may push you over the line and you may react in a way I might find abrasive but I am sure I would act just as abrasive if they treated me the same way they treat you.

At first I thought the problem was coming from both sides, but now I realize that one side has been far worse than the other and we can not pretend that both sides are just as bad because they are clearly not. I should have seen it earlier because I do understand the history of patriarchy and the mistreatment of women in our nation's history, but I wanted to believe that DU was better than that. It turns out there are some on this site that truly are misogynist pigs however, and it is about time that the handful of people who are really pushing this crap are banned.

I am a man and as a man I may not always have a true understanding of the problems women in our society face, but I do make an effort to try to understand and to treat women with respect. We may not always agree on everything, but please know that you have my back on this. I am sick of watching the women on this site be disrespected, it is time to do something about the misogynists here.

I apologize for not recognizing this earlier, I should have listened better when you tried to bring it to my attention in the past. You were right then and you are right now, women are being horribly mistreated and it is time to shut down the Men's Group and make it clear the behavior we have seen from that group and their allies will no longer be tolerated. I may be a man myself, but the Men's Group is not inclusive of men like me or many of the other men on this site who believe women should be respected. If people can't handle treating women with respect then they do not belong on this site. Period.

Game of the Year nominated computer game surprises players with strong progressive message

The PC game "Gone Home" was released this past summer to rave reviews and as we reach the end of the year it is racking up award nominations from numerous gaming publications. While the game has received a great deal of critical acclaim, if you read most of the reviews you will probably never actually learn what the game is about. All the gaming publications have been very quiet about the actual theme of the game which means a lot of people who play it have no clue what they are getting when they start playing it, but what they will end up getting is a very powerful progressive message.

Most of the reviews that I have seen do not tell you what I am about to say so if you want to play the game and go in not knowing what they are getting they should stop reading right now and go download the game which is currently on sale here.

For those who are still reading I am still not going to give away too much because this is a game that is purposely shrouded in mystery and I don't want to spoil the experience. What I will tell you however is that gay rights play a very important part in the game, much of the plot focuses on the struggles faced by a lesbian character to find acceptance. While none of the critics are talking about the gay rights angle of the game, make no mistake about it that it is the gay rights theme and how that theme was presented artistically that earned this game so much acclaim.

There is no way a homophobe could possibly like this game because gay rights are such a key focus, but no doubt many homophobes will play it because so few people in the press are talking about what the game is about. In a sense I am glad they are not talking about it because there is way too much homophobia among certain segments of the gaming community who would never even consider playing a game like this if they knew what it was about. I am sure thousands of homophobes have played this game already expecting to get a creepy adventure/horror game and ended up experiencing a story of the struggles faced by those they have been discriminating against.

I struggled to decide whether or not to even post this because the gay themes of this game have been kept so secret and I did not want to feel like I was publishing a major spoiler, but don't fear because there are tons of details I have not told you so there are still plenty of surprises in the game for you. I felt that there are a lot of people who would benefit from knowing what this game was about however as I am sure there are many people who don't usually play games and would not otherwise think of checking something like this out for themselves if they did not know about the message the game contains. It is a short game that only takes about two hours to complete and is meant to be played in a single sitting. It does not require fast reflexes, there is no shooting guns or blowing things up or anything of that sort, it is entirely story based and can easily be played by anyone with even basic keyboard and mouse skills. Don't worry if you are not good at computer games because this is more a piece of art than it is a game and there is really no way you can lose as you can't die in the game.

I think it is great to see games being used as an artistic medium to make a progressive statement, hopefully the acclaim this game has received will inspire more like it.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Fri Dec 27, 2013, 09:28 PM (1 replies)

On this horrific anniversary let us speak out against the horrors the NRA agenda has brought us

It has been one year since Sandy Hook and a lot has happened in that year. Day after day, week after week we all read stories right here on DU about countless tragedies involving guns.

We read about the grave injustice that was commited against Trayvon Martin.

We read about children accidently shooting themselves with their father's gun.

We read about the gun nuts who open carried their weapons around our schools and terrified their communities.

We read about gun nuts threatening to take up arms against our nation because of their warped perception of "tyranny".

We read about the toxic influence the NRA has on our political system.

We learned a lot in the last year from many of the hundreds of posts that have been made on this site about the topic of guns, many of the things we learned are things that certain people would prefer that we did not know about because the facts don't reflect well on their position.

The reality is however that if we want to prevent more Newtowns from happening we need to be able to discuss the reality of guns in our society because this a real issue that effects a lot of people. Sometimes the discussions can get heated no doubt and sometimes people on both sides including myself could do a better job of keeping it civil, but healthy debate is needed if we are ever to move forward as a nation on this issue.

Thank you to everyone who is speaking out on this horrific anniversary, change is slow to come but if enough people speak out we can reduce the influence of the NRA Nutcases.

GOP Rep says shutdown no longer about Obamacare, it is now about Republican Pride

GOP Rep Says They Can't Back Down Because Now It's a Matter of Pride
by smoothnmellow

Oh my. This will be short. Florida GOP Congressman Dennis Ross says that it's not about Obamacare anymore:

“Republicans have to realize how many significant gains we’ve made over the last three years, and we have, not only in cutting spending but in really turning the tide on other things," Ross told The New York Times. "We can’t lose all that when there’s no connection now between the shutdown and the funding of Obamacare."

"I think now it’s a lot about pride," he added.


http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/05/1244489/-GOP-Rep-Says-They-Can-t-Back-Down-Because-Now-It-s-a-Matter-of-Pride

To the hundreds of thousands of people without a job because of the shutdown, the GOP has PRIDE in keeping you out of work.

To the parents whose children are missing their Head Start classes, the GOP has PRIDE in denying your kids an education.

To the cancer patients who can't get FDA approval for the life saving treatments they need immediately, the GOP has PRIDE in keeping those treatments away from you.

And yes, to all the WWII vets who can not access their memorial, the GOP is keeping your monument closed because it gives them PRIDE.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Sat Oct 5, 2013, 08:47 PM (2 replies)

Today we are are all united, let's stay united and stop the assholes trying to hijack our democracy

We have had our disagreements in the past, this site has seen thousands of heated battles in the past and we will see thousands more in the future. There are times however in which we need to put aside our differences and come together as a community to stand up for something we can all agree on.

Today our country is being held hostage by a group of extortionists who are threatening the very foundation of our democracy. Instead of passing legislation the way laws have been passed for the last two hundred years these treasonous assholes are trying to change the law making process into a system in which the most extremist voices in the government makes a demand and if we don't accept their demand they shutdown our government and throw hundreds of thousands of people out of work.

It does not matter what you think of Obamacare, I have mixed feelings on it myself, but whatever you think of the law it was passed legally and if the Republicans want to overturn it they need to get the votes in the Senate to overturn it and they need to convince the President to sign the repeal. If they can't do that as a result of the fact that the majority of the Americans rejected their candidates in the last election that is their problem, they have no right to put a gun to our heads and tell us to do what they want "or else". This is one of the most serious attacks on our democracy that I have seen in my lifetime, no matter what reservations any of us have had about Obama in the past we need to recognize that this is not just an attack on Obama this is an attack on the very fabric of our democracy.

There are no Obamabots on this site today nor are there any Obama Haters. There are no Emotarian lefties nor are there any authoritarian locksteppers. What we do have is a DU that is nearly entirely united and we can not allow ourselves to be divided by those who want to drive a wedge between us and undermine our unity.

This is a battle for our democracy, let us all put aside our differences and fight it together.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Wed Oct 2, 2013, 09:26 PM (18 replies)

An open letter to my far-right Republican misrepresentative in Congress John Kline

Dear Mr. Kline,

After last night's vote you can no longer call yourself a person who loves America, because last night you betrayed millions of Americans. Because of you and your fellow Republicans hundreds of thousands of people are now without work, vulnerable people are without assistance, and the economic uncertainty you have created will hurt the pocketbooks of millions of Americans.

You can try to act innocent, you can try to pretend that the mean old Democrats are refusing to compromise, but you know damn well that you never offered any compromise. When a two year old throws a temper tantrum because they can't get the biggest toy in the store that two year old does not suddenly become a person willing to compromise when they throw a new tantrum demanding a slightly smaller toy.

You have clearly shown that you care far more about the opinion of the extremists in your party than you care about the American people. You are a shame to this district and you and all the other extortionists in your party should resign from office immediately as you have no business continuing to pretend to represent the people of your district, because I can assure you that you sure as hell don't represent me. You are a douchebag and the only people you represent are your fellow douchebaggers, you can call me impolite and throw this message away because I called you a bad name but at the end of the day you will be the one who actually harmed the American people and I will merely be one of the many people who called you out on it.

You are a disgrace to your nation, please resign from office now and hang your head in disgrace. I know you won't take my advice, but you better believe that if you don't leave office on your own we will have plenty of people working to kick you out.

Sincerely,

One of the hundreds of millions of Americans who you have betrayed

Posted by Bjorn Against | Tue Oct 1, 2013, 09:05 PM (3 replies)

If the people who pushed war truly cared about human rights they would mourn civilian deaths

We are told that we need to go into Syria for humanitarian reasons, this is certainly not the first time that war has been sold to us on humanitarian grounds and in fact I can't remember the last war that was not sold to us on humanitarian grounds.

Before every war we always hear about how horrible the people have it in the country we are about to bomb. Most recent wars we have been involved in have been waged against countries with less than stellar human rights records so there is usually some truth to the stories about human rights atrocities that we hear before a war, but when people try to use these atrocities as an excuse for leading us into a war that will inevitably lead to even more atrocities then they need to be called out on their hypocrisy.

If the people selling war were truly concerned about the humanitarian condition of the country they were going to bomb then they would be concerned about all the people killed in their wars, not just the Americans but they would show deep concern for the lives of the people living in the countries that we were bombing as well.

Yet after every single war that is sold to us on humanitarian grounds the people who pushed war on the basis that they supposedly cared about the people of that country seem to go to great lengths to completely ignore the civilians who died in that war. The media will report Americans that are killed, but civilians are rarely even worthy of a mention. Anyone that truly cared about the people of a country would mourn their dead as well, when they turn their heads and look away from the deaths of civilians and the shattered lives of the survivors then it is extremely difficult to believe they were ever genuine when they advocated war on humanitarian grounds.

I hope that the people advocating war in Syria will prove me wrong, I hope that after the bombs start dropping they will be posting threads mourning the civilians killed by those bombs, but I am skeptical that we will see that. I am skeptical because I never hear advocates of war mourn the civilian casualties of the wars they support, maybe there are some rare exceptions to this rule out there but most of what I have seen is people who use the victims of human rights abuses to sell their war but then immediately forget those people the moment they are killed by an American bombs.

I don't often see war supporters advocate against using weapons such as Depleted Uranium or cluster bombs that can pose threats to civilians even long after war ends. If there was a genuine concern for the lives of the people we are supposedly going to war to support then it seems that they would avoid weapons with Depleted Uranium which are known to cause long term health problems especially among newborn babies and infants.

I am sick of the victims of human rights abuses being exploited as an excuse to go to war only to have backs turned on them the moment the war begins, I have seen human rights used as an excuse to go to war far too many times and I do not believe for one second that the people who insist this is about human rights are truly as concerned about human rights as they are concerned with flexing their military muscle.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Wed Sep 4, 2013, 08:56 PM (0 replies)

The Pentagon is totally out of control and it is time that something is finally done to rein it in

It does not matter who the President is, the Pentagon is totally out of control and has been out of control for decades. Every few years we get sucked into another one of their misadventures, thousands of people die, billions of dollars of treasury are depleted, and millions of families are broken.

And what do we get for it? A global community that thinks we are nuts? More jobs in the funeral industry? Crumbling infrastructure and cuts to our most vulnerable citizens? War profiteers like Halliburton and Lockheed Martin getting billions of our tax dollars funneled to their corporate suites?

Many will try to make this about Presidential politics, but this is not about the Presidency this is about a war economy that has spiraled out of control. Some will try to say that Obama is just like Bush and others will say that such a suggestion is totally absurd, but the reality is that both of those opinions hold a lot of truth despite seeming contradictory. As a person and as a leader Obama is far different than Bush, but the elephant in the room is the massive thing that they do have in common, they both worked or are working under the same exact system of government. You can sit and debate the personal failings of individual Presidents all you want, but when we focus on the individual failings we miss the much bigger picture. We need to realize that this is not about any individual President, this is about a Pentagon that has grown way too powerful and needs to reined in.

We invest hundreds of billions of dollars every year in propping up an organization that is directly responsible for millions of deaths, that is not hyperbole that is a fact that can not be disputed.

Do you think any President is going to be able to stand up to a Pentagon that has built itself to nearly invincible status with the trillions of dollars it has received over the years? No single person can stand up to a multi-trillion dollar institution even if they are the President, the Pentagon is arguably the single most powerful institution in the entire world and it is bigger than any President. The powers that be want us focusing on the President because they know damn well that no single person can take them down, if they can distract us by making us fight over that single person however then they can continue to operate in the background knowing that no matter who gets elected they will not be seriously challenged.

We could elect the most morally pure person in all of human history to be President and that President would still have to work under the system that was established long before they took office, when that system has become totally corrupt then even the most morally pure person will not be able to resist it because it is so much larger than any single human being.

If we really want to change the system we can not rely on the President, the people need to rise up and speak out collectively to say that we no longer support our money going to prop up this corrupt system. It will take grass roots activism, it will take protests, and it will take time, but we need to stand up and say that elections are not bringing about the change that is needed and we need citizen activism that will not merely replace faces but also bring about real and lasting change in the political system.

I have seen too many wars in my still young life, the system that has brought us all this death and destruction needs to finally be reined in.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Thu Aug 29, 2013, 09:38 PM (21 replies)
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