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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 04:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,036

Journal Archives

Feckless authoritarianism is feckless.

So, we're not going to do anything about dangerous people: Heavily armed, angry conservative men of one stripe or another, swimming in an ocean of paranoia and a belief system where a "good guy with a gun" is the solution to every conceivable problem. They can rant and rave, and make sidelong threats all day long, riiiiiiight up to the line of actually doing something horrendously violent, at which point someone will nicely ask them to leave the bird refuge.

But we're going to make damn sure a confused brain surgery patient COMPLIES RIGHT THE HELL NOW in the baggage line, because who knows what an ailing girl might be up to.

We've got shampoo-free airplanes, aspirin-free schools, but guns in national parks and college campuses.

We're nailing every non-issue right to the wall, while the blood pools at our feet.

It doesn't matter who's in power if they don't stand for anything.

Hard to understand how people become so partisan they literally think nothing but "winning" matters. What matters is getting the right things done. That's why we have these discussions about "platforms" and "integrity" and "principles."

Trump's a perfect example of this backward thinking. It's hard to tell what he really thinks, because he just plays to the crowd. Used to be a Democrat. Used to support a woman's right to choose. Sometimes wants to ban Muslims; sometimes isn't so sure.

If he were right, and could elected simply by making whatever noises people want to hear, we'd elect that kind of person every time. An indecipherable concoction of crowd-pleasing chants and slogans, with no predictable policy behind it. Policy would therefore be a random crapshoot of whatever the most successful strategist really thought, which no one would know beforehand because it would all be about, "winning."

It's not all about "winning." That kind of winning is for the Trumps and Charlie Sheens of the world.

Nobody thinks that.

We are supposed to be smarter.

Guns convey zero personal power.

... unless you find yourself needing to kill someone.

Or that zombie apocalypse finally arrives.

That's got to be very frustrating for people invested in the part of gun culture trading on the idea that guns make them "safe" from criminals, terrorism, and intrusive government. Or, as a T-shirt I saw on a skinny kid in the airport security line of all places claimed "a citizen, not a SUBJECT!"

What if you have all these guns and the government still doesn't do what you want? What if your gun doesn't confer respect or ensure you can be more belligerent in your daily life without fear of repercussion?

Wouldn't you end up looking for a way to somehow extract that personal power that was promised to you?

Isn't that exactly what is happening more and more?

I kind of love this question.

Non-believer here (okay atheist, but it's a stupidly loaded term at this point):

Faith, according to this piece (which says the Bible backs this up) is:

"Belief in something without evidence."

I've been interested for a while in the idea that faith (defined as above) is considered by many to be a virtue. In the harshest terms, in order to be a good idea, faith would have to somehow turn out to be well-founded and true. It's hard to find a way to think a false belief is a good idea after all. If there is no (fill in the god) aren't people at the least wasting a lot of energy, and at worst, making a lot of decisions and voicing a lot of opinions based on nonsense?

The only way I can make that work for me is to undermine the definition a little, and allow for faith to be either philosophy (for which I suppose there is theoretical rhetorical "evidence") e.g.,

"Forgiveness is better than vengeance," (because it ultimately works better) Can't be proven, but there is an internal logic in play, so it's not random, or just based on tradition or social conformity, or a desire to self-delude.

Or you could posit faith as a kind of semi-conscious metaphorical tool, like

"I choose to live as though we were all governed by a supernatural being who has given us guidance through ancient writings," etc. That gets a little trickier though, because unless there's some self-awareness mixed in, that's pretty close to embracing cognitive dissonance, and that doesn't seem like a good idea.

Sometimes faith gets mixed up with hope, which I think is a viable psychological tool for survival:

"There probably isn't an oasis over the next sand dune, but let's imagine it's possible and keep crawling." Nothing wrong with that. You're basically using imagination to get to the best possible state of mind. Sitting there dying of thirst because there's probably no point in going on is a bad use of empirical evidence.

I guess what I can't get behind is the idea of either

a) acculturating children to feel comfortable with religious belief (and uncomfortable without it) by sheer dint of repetition and family pressure, without any examination of why we should or shouldn't do that or

b) rational adults deliberately short-circuiting the thinking process they would apply to anything else in their lives, including the question of anyone else's religious beliefs, to hold on to something that, if examined honestly, doesn't really make any sense. I think there's a danger in leaping in and out of critical thinking that way.

It's not all quite that simple, but that's where I've come down after a number years thinking along these lines.

Economic problems foster xenophobia among conservatives.

It's the conservative reaction to problems to find a group to blame. Fascism was born of economic hardship the last time around, as we know.

And the Brexit folks sure did hit economic promises (false ones) hard:


So arguing about "polling" is a bit facile. The right-wing is always there, selling racism and fear. They get people to buy it when people are suffering.

Of course everyone knows they didn't really mean that.

A person could "bear" a Stinger missile, hand grenades, a suitcase nuke, nerve gas, etc. ad infinitum. No one thinks that all modern "bearable" weapons should be kept in the home or carried by civilians.

None of the modern argument from proponents of "The Second Amendment" has anything to do with Constitutional principles or democracy or anything else. The idea was that colonists could have law enforcement and militias in lieu of a standing army, not for civilian yahoos to nurture fantasies of fighting the government or preparing for the zombie apocalypse or whatever. Above all, bearing arms was to be "well-regulated."

The discussion today isn't even about "arms." It's about guns. Just guns. Only guns. Guns and guns and more guns.

What we have today is a deliberately warped, pseudo-religious philosophy developed for the sole purpose of selling expensive guns to a lot of hobbyists and a fair number of dangerous nuts. The magazines are full of ridiculous "tactical gear" catering to a fantasy that civilians can be "ready" for some unspecified future disaster for which all of it would be fully useless if it ever actually occurred.

The Founding Fathers would vomit at the thought of the modern NRA and its lunatic arguments that a crowded modern society should allow private ownership of massive firepower anywhere, by anyone.

Tend to agree. But there is more going on as well.

It sure looks like nationalism and xenophobia carried the day -- European NeoNazis and fascists seem thrilled. Doesn't mean there isn't a kernel of righteous fury at oligarchy in there as well though.

I think there's a danger whenever the population senses establishment forces have run amok that popular anger is directed not at the problems in the establishment itself, but at the usual bogeymen of the uninformed -- groups of people outside the traditional culture.

Putin is selling homophobia to distract from the kleptocracy he's running. Trump soothes the fearful by promising to build a wall.

Meanwhile, the TPP sails blithely forward, and U.S. banks look for the next speculative bubble they can use to transfer the remaining scraps of middle class wealth into their bulging pockets.

Everyone seems to recognize we need change; no one can agree on what that needs to look like.

There is a grotesque angle on race-baiting

building amongst the conservative wing of the Dems, along the lines that economic progressives are actually just poor, uneducated, racist white people, which is supposed to paper over the fact that comfortably ensconced elites who don't mind at least nominally supporting racial and gender equality are actually quite strongly opposed to any across-the-board measures to level the playing field.

They are terrified of ideas like universal college education or healthcare or a strong social safety net, because these things actually threaten their privilege.

It's not going to work, but it is kind of nauseating seeing it attempted with such arrogant glee, as though people will never catch on.

Entitlement. Over and over and over.

The culture of the Clinton campaign is entitlement. The career politicians will support her. The financial sector will support her. The "super delegates."

They will let everyone know precisely what their choices will be.

This is the attitude of people who have cultivated power under corrupt circumstances. They have made the required moral sacrifices. Bargained with the right devils.

So no one else should be heard or should be permitted to succeed in any other fashion. Not people with $27 to donate. Not people who hold principle over party affiliation. Not the young. Not the idealistic.

How DARE they?

Which, some might say, is precisely the attitude Democrats, at their best, oppose.

We shall see.

Good Christ. She didn't actually say this?

I have extended Ms. Clinton every benefit of the doubt I can think of. Her qualifications. Her resume. Her self-assuredness navigating the political system. And so forth.

But while she continues to hold a heavy advantage in the Dem primary race, it seems like the moment anything remotely dissatisfactory occurs, decency and good faith are tossed heartily out the nearest window, and we get this sneering, disingenuous flavor of personal attack.

I remember it well. Our household supported her in 2008 until she started her racist dog-whistling about owning the "hard working white people" vote and that fast one was she tried to pull in the Michigan and Florida primaries.

On March 13, 2008, NPR interviewed Clinton, reporting:

Hillary Clinton says the results should count, even if Barack Obama's name did not appear on the ballot. "That was his choice...There was no rule or requirement that he take his name off the ballot. His supporters ran a very aggressive campaign to try to get people to vote uncommitted."...Clinton that the Michigan and Florida pledged delegates should count because both are seen as key battleground states in the general election. But if the national party does not agree, she says, the states should re-do the primaries.

When pressed by NPR, Clinton said, "We all had a choice as to whether or not to participate in what was going to be a primary, and most people took their name off the ballot but I didn't." Critics have labeled Clinton's actions as dishonest, and charged her with trying retroactively to change the rules for her own benefit.


I'm trying not to fully reject the idea of her being the nominee, as that still seems likely. But boy, is she hard to like sometimes.
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