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DirkGently

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 10,511

Journal Archives

The Overton Window is so far right in this country

that anything mildly pro-worker or pro-equality is immediately labeled -- and not only by Republicans, we should note -- as "far left."

We had a local kerfuffle recently where a moderately progressive Democratic caucus took issue with a proposed Senate candidate whose signature initiative had been all about the need for "structural changes" to Social Security and Medicare, based on the usual complete lies Wall Street keeps pushing, which D.C. insiders have accepted as gospel. A "moderate" position, he said.

Maybe we should revive the real far left. Gin up some efforts to nationalize banks, cap private corporation's salaries, that sort of thing. Give the people in both parties a stalking horse so they can understand that things like a minimum wage and the most basic banking regulations aren't akin to "Marxism" and whatnot.

"Rare" was a mistaken concession we must retract.

In trying to triangulate a working compromise with people who have no interest in reasonable discussion, we were led to believe the "rare" language was to be about reducing teenage pregnancy with rational measures like intelligent sex education and access to birth control.

Instead, it was taken as a concession that abortion is evil, and the same factions Clinton was trying to appease promptly set about a regime of "abstinence only" education and conflating birth control with "abortifacients."

All along, we were dealing with people with zero concern for women's health or privacy, who at bottom just want to ensure sex = pregnancy = punishment for women.

We need to clarify forcefully and repeatedly:

"Safe, legal, and ON DEMAND"

Hurting people is not a religion.

"Conscience clauses" use the same sick inversion of logic -- to permit people to hurt those they irrationally hate -- over and again.

They need to go, as do the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" used to justify Hobby Lobby and every similar law.

Everyone's religious "freedom" ends at abusing or discriminating against others who don't share your views. The fact that a few demented people think their metaphysical belief system puts them in charge of everyone else's sex lives notwithstanding.

It's the same dishonest, malicious strategy.

Women have the right to abortion. There is no "20 week" exception. There is no, "Well, the idiots have now decided they 'don't buy' the science on fetal development, so they've decided to force women to undergo increased complication, expense and danger" exception.

It's just another attempt to imply that abortion is "baby killing," which it still is not, and to stop women from having abortions, which is still illegal to do.

The racist South did not want to accept that black people are human beings who can vote and go to school and eat in restaurants, and so raised all kinds of other "concerns" about whether people could pass poll tests, or pay a "fee," or, more recently, obtain enough proof of identification. The concerns are always lies, cutely tailored to imply that something is wrong with the target of the bigotry.

A poll test, to "make sure people are educated enough to vote." Which happens to impact the poor or the recently enslaved, who may not read as well, but whose rights are equal nevertheless.

A tax, which just happens to once again raise a barrier to the poor. The pretense is again that there is some other need or concern.

But the "concerns" are always lies and pretense. Racists and conservatives really just don't want non-whites or the poor to vote, so they devise barriers based on geography or the ability to drive somewhere or to be off of work in the middle of the week, or to put enough documents together to get the right form of ID. In each case, the "concern" being addressed is a facade.

And so now, with the misogynist anti-abortionists, we have so many new "concerns." It is illegal to impede the right to abortion, so we will add some thoughtful "licensing" requirements for clinics, to make them "safer." But that is a sneering pretense, like the poll tax or voter ID. The clinics get closed, the anti-abortionists get what they want, which is to find another way to deny another group of people their human rights.

And it's not as though this is some opinion of mine. Republicans cackle openly about their recent onslaught of "concerned" legislation effectively ending the right to abortion in state after state.

They're achieving illegal ends by (questionably) legal means, and they think it's just adorable, the way they can hurt people by subverting the law.

Before that, we had the "partial-birth abortion" canard, an invented procedure falsely implying babies about to be born were being "aborted." That was never really a thing, but the fake concern worked, restrictions were passed, and the camel's nose was under the tent.

Apparently this year's Jim Crow anti-abortion "concern" is the "20-week abortion?" As you note, there is no science or reasoning behind this new magic date that is supposed to again mean that nearly-born "babies" are being aborted, but as always, the ignorant, malicious bigot's "concern" is enough to accomplish the real goal of interfering with rights they wish to take from others.

This cutesy legislative concern trolling over abortion, which is not so cute really, because it will kill women who need a medical procedure to which they an absolute right, is the same trick, by many of the same people, and it's fooling no one, and it will end in shame on the trash heap of history with the rest of the bigotry and ignorance and hatred the world is slowly by surely tossing aside.



Authoritarianism vs. Empathy.

What's weird about Jesus' message (and he never told anyone they were going to hell for not believing in him, by the way; that was the Catholic Church much later) is that it is largely at odds with the attitudes of the Old Testament. Love, forgiveness, and his No. 1 hit, "Do unto others," which is essentially a call for empathy, were not at all in the Yahweh style.

If you look at what American Christian conservatives draw on for religious support of their typically harsh, cruel and intolerant views, they are Old Testament all the way. Creationism, subjugation of women, condemnation of homosexuality; "eye for an eye" vengeance. Yahweh was the embodiment of the views of a harsh, warlike tribe.

Jesus, whether a deity, a man, or a work of fiction, helped the poor, healed the sick, fed the hungry, and asked people who had been wronged to turn the other cheek. When MLK and other civil rights leaders spoke about non-violent resistance, they were drawing on Jesus' command to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you;" not the "Death to the first-born of your oppressors" god of the Old Testament. Racists and slavers argued from the Old Testament. Something about non-whites bearing the "mark of Cain." And Yahweh allowed selling your daughters into slavery of course.

These two paradigms are in direct opposition, and are embraced and interpreted in modern American politics. Christian conservatives worship an angry, vengeful Lord who demands intense cultural conformity. Liberals and more moderate Christians talk about tolerance and being their "brother's keeper."

Moreover, these two views are part of the cognitive dissonance of American Christian conservatives is that they claim to embrace the modernistic, tolerant views of Jesus, but in practice always return to angry Yahweh, who sent plagues to his people's enemies and demanded death for everyone from lazy churchgoers to unchaste women to unruly children.

American Christian conservatives would nail anyone talking about loving their neighbors or feeding the poor and healing the sick (for free!) to the nearest tree immediately.

Yes. People make and change laws every day.

Usually we do that because we see something that needs to change. Laws are things we make and change and unmake all the time.

Yes, we have a Constitution in this country, which outlines principles and rights and to some extent circumscribes what laws we can and cannot make. The Constitution is also a law made by people, and as such is constantly interpreted and re-interpreted. It can also be changed and has been several times.

A problem arises when people think something they hold dear is some kind of mandate from God. America is not a theocracy. We have laws -- including the Constitution -- based on what we all think is right. We have notions of individual rights, but we reconsider them constantly. We have changed and re-arranged those rights many times.

"We" once thought people could own other people. That women couldn't vote. That alcohol should be banned nationwide. All of these things were upheld as "legal" and Constitutional.

Now they aren't.

Food for thought?

That's more an argument for evil, isn't it?

I don't know if this was meant ironically? Sorry, the link is blocked for me, so I can't see where the rest of the essay goes.

You can't rise and sleep under the blanket of the very freedom they provide and then question the way they provide it, okay?


But that's not Orwell. It's a bit from Jack Nicholson's entitled, amoral, fascist tirade from a A Few Good Men, wherein he tried to justify having a recruit tortured to death for incompetence on the theory that no one can question anything done in the name of "guarding the walls."

This is the mistake Republicans and other zero-sum thinkers make routinely. It's why they want torture programs and spying on political enemies and journalists. It's why they make up false arguments for war, no matter what price the rest of us pay for it. It's why Cheney bragged about "going to the dark side."

The "dark side" doesn't actually work, in the long run. Sure, you can pull a few things off in the short run with brutality, ruthlessness, callousness, and cruelty. You can make a few people afraid for a while and get them to shut up or go away.

But then comes the backlash. The sons and daughters grow up thinking of nothing but revenge. No one trusts your word, because you have proven yourself cynical and ruthless. You can't build anything or cooperate with anyone. You can only dominate briefly through brute force before it all turns to shit because evil doesn't actually work.

We don't need the kind of would-be "protectors" who brag about the people they've killed and cultivate the identity of being a scary bad-ass.

When we fight, we do it without malice and without taking joy or pride in inflicting destruction. We do it because we must, only because we must, only as much as we must. People -- even those who have really 'been there' -- who think war or violence is a strutting game of counting coup aren't actually very good at defending anything. They only know how to destroy, because they don't understand what fighting is actually for.

So, yes, we judge, even when roughness and violence are involved. We call it honor or ethics or just plain intelligence. Those in a rush to justify dumping all of those things out of "necessity" don't really understand the world, and don't believe in the values they exhort us to jettison in the first place. They are embracing evil, and they will lose.

If we allow them to represent us, we will lose as well.

We keep ignoring the forest for the trees.


Increasingly, it seems like a part of the diametric division we have in our culture is deciding whether problems -- like "terrorism" -- are due to individual bad people or a situational dynamic. That dictates how we address the problem, and so far we're not doing well.

At heart, all of this "stuff" is just another resource / territory contest, isn't it? The West interferes with the Middle East for strategic reasons -- largely oil but also control of certain ports in that part of the world. The response in that part of the world has been the rise of radical Islam -- take away all the Western interference, and what support does it have?

But once things get nasty, everything gets characterized on the basis of whatever horrendous thing happened last. Sure, we annihilated hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq, but then those guys cut that man's head off, so let's go back and do it again. And again ...

What's more, all of this has become a business for the combatants on both sides. McCain / Cheney et al. apparently get paid by the bullet or by the American body bag, so they will beat the drums of war at every opportunity.

But Al Quaeda and Isis are in "business" too. They're the Coke and Pepsi of jihadism at this point. They recruit on the Internet; advertise on social media. Hold prisoners for large cash ransoms. We are being manipulated into a cycle of war because it's making people on all sides MONEY.

We have built this beast, and we're not going to take it down by whack-a-mole-ing every group that arises to take advantage of the cash and the chaos to be had.

We're certainly not going to stop the cycle with drone strikes or another war in the desert or with more rhetoric over whose version of a 2,000 year-old religion is better.


More empty Republican identity politics.


While living a certain way or being in a certain group may grant a useful perspective, Republicans / American conservatives try to substitute identity for ideas all the time.

It's what people do that matters, not who they are or where they come from. Being poor is no guarantee of understanding what needs to be done about poverty, just as being a woman has not helped Ernst understand what's wrong with the "personhood for zygotes" law she supports.

Rather than show sympathy for the poor, or for women, or for people of color, they simply find "one of them" and put them in front of a microphone, so long as they're willing to say that the status quo is fine, fine, fine.

Ernst didn't talk about helping the poor. She didn't talk about solving the issue. She didn't even express sympathy or empathy. She just claimed ownership of it, to lend credence to whatever nonsense she was spouting -- I really couldn't even tell what she was blathering about through her horrendous, staring, blank-eyed tour bus cadence.

This is a person who called Obama a dictator, and claimed that the U.N. has a secret plan to kick Iowans off of their farms. Her claimed qualification for office was some kind of creepy joke about castrating hogs (so she will be able to "cut pork?").

Republicans get creepier and creepier. This one is some kind of shiny sockpuppet with the same glittering sociopathy in her eyes Mitt Romney has.

She may have grown up poor (or not?) but she has a an entitled rich white man's grasp of the world.

"Black on black crime" is a racist red herring.

Most crimes occur within the same racial demographics. 90-something % of murders of black Americans are committed by other black Americans; 80-something % of murders of white Americans are committed by other white Americans.

What racists try to imply is that black Americans have no right to complain about a "few" wrongful killings by police until "they" clean up "their" crime problem.

There are so many racist assumptions and slanders bound up in that thinking that it's hard to untangle them all. One is that all black people everywhere are the same "group," so it is somehow the black people killing other black people who are also being killed by police, who are also the same people protesting.

Somehow, apparently, Tamir Rice should have been in the streets cleaning up crime in his community instead of, you know, being 12 and playing with a toy before being executed by twitchy police.

Hard to apply given none of the publicized killings involve anyone accused of murder, but racists aren't know for razor-sharp critical thinking. The other big one, of course, is just to imply that the imaginary one group of black people in the world are simply hyper-violent, and perhaps deserve to be profiled and treated as especially dangerous.

It's so stupid it would be funny, if it weren't so malicious and sick.
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