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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 13,865

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Can We Stop Saying "Pam Geller Has Free Speech?"

What she has, is Constitutionally protected speech.

Hate speech carries a heavy, terrible, sometimes generations-long, price tag.

It is not, and never has been "free."

Someone always pays for it.

Usually innocents.

Constitutionally-protected speech, used to urge the denial of life, rights, and equity to others, has nothing to do with "freedom," so it's not "free" that way, either.

I'm willing to concede hate speech its Constitutional protection.

I am not willing to miscall it "free" in any way.

That is all.


The Discrimination Too Big To Matter

Finding the right forum for this topic was a dilemma. I'm fairly sure some folks will feel it should have gone into one of the Gender & Orientation groups. And indeed, it would likely stay on page one there far longer than it will in GD, where I anticipate it dropping like a stone, with barely a ripple. Nevertheless, although it's about gender discrimination, it's fundamentally about all of humanity. So, here it is. I'll tie a bobber to it by adding it to my journal, what the heck.

Social animals tend to develop ways to organize their groups. Some of us (I'm looking at you, order cetacea... and you, species pan paniscus) are better at it than others (yes, that's our cue, homo sapiens.)

We smooth and clever apes seem to have, at some point in the last 10,000 years, invested heavily in hierarchy, probably when we began to tip the balance from hunt/gather to agriculture and extraction. And one of the byproducts of that investment is the tendency of those at the top of the hierarchy to devise ways to protect their status.

The most effective way for a small elite to protect their status is a twofold strategy of co-optation and subjugation. Co-optation is the sharing of minor benefits, with the implication (but rarely the reality) of upward mobility, to keep a barrier of supporters and protectors between the small elite and the disempowered majority. Subjugation is the fostering of fear and division among segments of the disempowered majority, and the creation of obvious disincentives for supporters/protectors of the elite to side with any part of the disempowered majority.

Which is how the patriarchy came into being-- the first, the oldest, the strongest, the most powerful and oppressive institution our species developed.

If you've read any of PG Wodehouse's delicious Jeeves and Wooster stories, you probably remember the Drones Club, Wodehouse's refined skewering of the quintessential symbol of an elite group-- the classic "Club" of well-to-do Anglo-Saxon society.

Maybe it will help to imagine the patriarchy as a species-wide meta-clubhouse.

Now, by definition, everyone with a Y chromosome starts out with basic provisional membership status. That's half the species, right there, co-opted.

The fact that the membership status starts out as provisional-- well that's a subjugation tactic. Someone with a Y chromosome who fails to measure up to the Club standards? They can be blackballed when it comes time to confirm their membership, and tossed out to outer darkness, where there are none of the comforts of the Club.

It's also possible, of course, to revoke the membership of anyone with a Y chromosome who egregiously and/or repeatedly breaks the Club rules.

The Club has more degrees of membership than the Masons-- and, like the Masons, they shroud the higher degrees in a certain level of mystery and ambiguity.

The lowest degrees of membership are reserved for people who have Y chromosomes but who are otherwise relegated to low-status segments of the disempowered majority--those whose skin color, religious affiliation, social background, etc., render them ineligible for higher levels of membership. They only get two real benefits from their Club membership-- first, admission to the Club itself, albeit only to the stuffier basement rooms with the cheap beer and battered darts boards and tacky pin-up calendars on the walls.

But they get to hang out with one another, and they ARE in the Club, after all, which brings us to the other benefit-- they are automatically entitled, by their status as Club members, to regard all non-members as their inferiors in every way, whose value is defined only by their service to the members.

These low-degree members are also subjugated by a shifting status "lowerarchy" subtly encouraged by the elite. Members from the room at one end of the hall are encouraged to regard the members from the room under the stairs as unworthy to advance to higher levels of membership at all, and vice versa. But there's always some small incentive allowed-- the hope that by rigid adherence to Club rules and extra-meritorious services, they might be inducted into a higher degree of membership.

Above the basement, but on the lower floors of the Clubhouse, are the many rooms designated for the various middle degree members-- more comfortable, better amenities. Then there's a couple of upper levels, with the deep pile carpets and the hushed waiters bringing expensive drinks, for higher-degree members, who consider themselves the elite-- although in fact, they aren't.

The real elite is the Club Board, who meet in the luxurious Boardroom, with all the windows and the scrolly gold leaf on the ceiling moldings, around a long and perfectly-polished table of rare wood. These are drawn from the members of the highest publicly-acknowledged degree. And everyone assumes that it's the Board who run the Club.

But once they're elected to the Board, they're initiated into another, not-so-public hierarchy of degrees. Here they can play vicious power games among themselves for prestigious committee appointments and chairmanships, and ultimately aspire to the very highest and least public degree of all-- the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee is well named-- among their responsibilities is deciding who gets executed, after all. They allow the Board to manage all the showy bits, like the Annual Club Gala and the Catering Committee, to make decisions about the color of the carpet for the redecoration of the library, whether to repair or replace the leaky hot water heater in the basement (it periodically floods the clubroom next to the storage cellar,) stuff like that.

But it's the Executive Committee who control the real power-- the Club bank accounts and books, the proposal of members for the higher degrees, and the nomination of Board members. They have no "official" meeting room, although if you know where to look you'll find the comfortable, well-upholstered lounge and the handball court and locker room reserved for their exclusive use.

At some point it became clear to the Club membership that the half of the species that was excluded from the Club could also be more effectively managed, manipulated, and controlled by the same combination of co-optation and subjugation applied to members.

Hence the institution of the Ladies' Rooms. Non-members who embrace the purpose of the Club (and/or who embrace Club members with sufficient clout) are admitted to the Ladies' Rooms, where they receive a variety of benefits. They're encouraged to form Committees and elect chairwomen, just like the members, providing them with an illusory power and influence. And of course, they're encouraged to maintain the submission of other non-members to the power of the Club. There's always the incentive that if one serves the right Club member diligently enough, she, too, might be admitted to a Ladies' Room and asked to serve on the Flower Arranging Committee.

For thousands of years, the Patriarchy Club has been the underlying foundation of almost every social and economic organizing system our species has devised. This system has allowed a small elite to invest half of the species in the system that sustains their power by disenfranchising and disempowering the other half of the species, obtaining their labor, their creativity, their reproductive services, etc., largely without any compensation beyond sustenance.

It has endured through the evolution of monarchies, oligarchies, dictatorships, and "representative" political systems, through the formation of dozens of religious institutions, and through the trial-and-error of various economic systems. It undergirds virtually every human culture and cultural institution of recorded history.

Lately, there's been a lot of unrest on the lower floors of the Clubhouse. The Board has even made the decision to allow members access to many of the main Club facilities, regardless of degree-- a historic victory for some members. Which is not to say that they're actually getting equal benefit from their titular access to the main facilities-- there's still plenty of resistance and dissension.

The Executive Committee is enjoying the show, as the Board struggles to keep the peace among the lower-degree members trying to restrict each others' access to particular dining rooms, committee meeting rooms, etc. In the long run, this, too, will serve their ends, shaking things up a little and keeping the members on their toes and wary of one another-- too busy to notice that the Executive Committee has once again cut the Catering Budget, so they can have a better grade of champagne in their own lounge.

And just recently-- and this is BIG, people. Make no mistake, it is important-- just recently, a group of blackballed candidates, members of the species ineligible for membership, and even a few ex-members have camped in front of the Clubhouse, and begun demanding that the Club give them access, too. Some have even suggested that the Board and Committees be elected by EVERYONE, not just a self-perpetuating oligarchy among the higher degree Club members. It's a Very Big Deal, indeed, and it has the Board and the Club membership in a real tizzy.

Of course, across the street from the Clubhouse, behind palings that keep the Clubhouse driveway clear and its nice landscaped grounds pretty, there's been a rabble of non-members gathered for the last couple of centuries or so, making foolish demands that they, too, be made full members of the Club-- in fact, that the Club itself be abolished, and the species start reorganizing along more functional, less lethal and oppressive lines.

Silly girls. Co-opt a few into the Ladies' Rooms with promises of a Serious Discussion of membership, send out some platters of goodies and bunches of flowers labeled "rights" to the ones loosely attached to moderate-status members, and send out a few parties from the basement to do some beating up and raping among the lowest-status ones to keep the rest in their places.

Because really, it's totally unrealistic to think that a 10,000-year-old fundamental organizing principle for the species can be overturned. It's too damn' big. Think of the chaos! Think of the risk! Why, some Committees might have to completely restructure! Board members might lose their seats! The squash court might have to be turned into a yoga studio, FFS!

No, sorry. This particular discrimination is too BIG to matter.


The Gift of Temporary Disability

Let me tell you about it, first.

To start with, you probably wouldn't notice it just looking at me. It'd take a pretty sharp observer to see the slightly different way my right arm hangs when at rest, the restricted swing to it (compared to the left one) as I walk. It looks normal, until I try to use it. Then you'll see the awkward way I swing my whole right side into a motion, because I can't lift the arm past a certain point. The strange angles of approach I take to everyday tasks like writing a note, combing my hair, putting on a jacket, etc., because of the severely restricted range of motion.

If you don't look away, you'll see the winces I try to control, as unexpected "radiating pain" hits various parts of my shoulder, back, neck, arm, wrist, hand, fingers, at various times and for no apparent reasons.

If you look very closely indeed, you'll see the traces of chronic pain in deepened lines on my face, and the shadows under my eyes from lack of sleep.

I'm trying very hard, though, to keep you from seeing the non-physical signs of my temporary disability: The irritability that goes with chronic pain and lack of sleep, the "mood trenches" that brim with pessimism and cynicism and self-pity and bitterness. The effort to keep that invisible means I don't chat much. I limit socializing.

And the one final, grinding "sign" of my temporary disability: The loss of energy that turns every day into an exercise in prioritization and calculation: What's most important, and once I've expended all the energy and resources that will take, what else, if anything, can I manage to get done? You won't see that. Or if you do, you're likely to interpret it as depression (which I also suffer from and can you say "heterodyne?" If not, Google it...) or inertia or even laziness.

Now, on to the "gift" part.

First, it's temporary. Prognosis says anywhere from nine months to three years. It's been five months already, which only feels like a millenium or so. But yes, it gets better. (It might come back, in the other shoulder, in this one, or even in both, but I try not to think about that.) So that's a gift. There's a horizon out there somewhere, beyond which I'll be able to sleep through a restful night, put on deodorant without whimpering, use the top closet shelf again, and a whole variety of other formerly-insufficiently-appreciated little things in life.

But there's more: I know what to appreciate:

  • The days when pain backs off, and I can be "almost normal" for a while, are positively exhilarating, making me giddy with enjoyment.
  • The ones who know about it, and pay attention, and adapt based on what they notice, without endlessly asking me how it is now, today, do I need anything, is there anything they can help with. Like my spouse who heard me wincing in the night, and got out of bed, and came around and picked up the body pillow that had fallen to the floor, and snugged it up against my front, and then leaned over to give me a kiss, and went back to the other side of the bed without a word, and turned over and went back to sleep.
  • The courage and determination of the others I see at physio, finding smiles and things to joke about (forget 'gallows humor,' there's nothing quite like 'weight bench humor') in spite of pain. So can I, then.
  • The "down times." Yes, even though I hate it that I have no energy many days, I'm learning to appreciate a slower, less ambitious pace. Just sitting and looking out the window with a cup of tea and no sense of pressure to get back to "The List."
  • Most of all, I'm appreciating my new understanding of what it is like to have a disability. It can't be described, really. It has to be experienced, I think. The dirty look from the woman behind me because I couldn't grab the door and hold it open for her after I went through it. The quizzical look from the stout youngster at the store I had to ask to reach a heavy can from a shelf for me. The kid who asked Mom why the funny lady put on her coat like that. And the disappointment, resentment, the careful patience, the artificially accommodating cheerfulness from people I have to say "no" to, because I just can't do the things I used to.

It's not a barrel of laughs to feel gratitude for these things, but I do feel it. I savor it-- not in a self-pitying way (mostly) but in a mindful way. Because these are important things to know and to experience, and I don't want to forget them even when I'm no longer disabled.

There is no single human quality more valuable to me (and, I firmly believe, to all of us, collectively-- because it allows us to evolve) than empathy. The ability to sense how others experience life and the feelings that come with those experiences.

And no matter how thoughtfully I tried to imagine what it must be like for a disabled person to experience the challenges of living in a world that assumes the absence of disability, I could never have reached this level of understanding without my own experience.

I wouldn't wish this on anyone else. Not the pain, not the sleeplessness, the anger, the lack of energy, the self-pity, the grinding effort. But if there were a "consciousness transfer ray" that would let you join me here in my body, in my brain, in my awareness, for just a little while, I'd welcome you.

I believe you'd hate the experience as much as I do, but then... you'd look in the rearview mirror, and see the difference between what you understood before, and what you understand now. And you'd say "thank you," too.


We Have Engineered the Rage of the Deluded

A lot of people are going to get a jizz of satisfied agreement from Chris Hedges' latest commentary.

Indeed, like many DUers, I felt a jolt of righteous anger myself. Because his core argument: That terrorism is a direct product of the catastrophic transformation of the world economy to oligarchy; I'm in total agreement with that.

Here's where we part ways, though.

Hedges believes that religion is the tool of the dispossessed, to lash out at the privileged.

I, on the other hand, believe that religion is the tool of the privileged, to put the dispossessed to work solidifying the oligarch's control by escalating fear and generating increased support for militarized policing and institutionalized repression of dissent.

Here's how I came to this conclusion:

Who dies in terror attacks? Whose property is destroyed? Who is vulnerable?

One thing is crystal clear: It's not the oligarchs or even the wealthy helots who serve them. It's the vast bourgeoisie, the bards, the satirists, institutions of learning, places where the remaining middle classes gather to enjoy what few privileges remain to them, and, of course, the dispossessed's own neighbors.

Riots never start at the gates of gated communities.

Martyrs never seem willing to die blowing up the limousines pulling up at the exclusive club galas.

When was the last time an offshore bank or a stock exchange was the target of a major terrorist attack?

No, religion is never used to gin up rage at the real authors of the world's misery.

It is used, as it always has been, as a tool to divide, control, oppress, and divert attention from the rapacious greed and thievery of our Beloved Oligarchs.

Sorry, Chris.

Making nice about these pathetic tools' "honor" or "righteous anger" or whatever isn't going to bring any enlightenment to this discussion.

Trying to respect the "religious sensibilities" of these shock troops will avail the rest of us no relief.

Pandering to the "sincere beliefs" of those whose misery and rage has blinded them to the extent of becoming proxies for the very forces oppressing them isn't going to bring about the fundamental changes needed to reverse the tide of inequality.

Religion is a potent, potent lever that the powerful have always used to disempower threats and keep the masses under control. When the "jam tomorrow, reward in the afterlife, divine purpose" bullshit loses its effectiveness, they turn seamlessly to the "holy war/victims of oppression" play. It's in the very same playbook.

And until the rage is focused exactly where it belongs, nothing will change.


Who LOVES Jihad, Holy War, Religious Terrorism, and Other Killing in the Name of God?

Well, this guy:

And these sweetie-pies:

Also this lovely bit of beefcake:

And this prince:

This guy you've probably never heard of:

What do they all have in common?

They all love having the media, governments, pundits, earnest analysts, statespersons, human rights advocates, bloggers, and random noisemakers focusing on big, splashy, bloody atrocities that kill half a dozen here, a couple of hundred there, a few more somewhere else, all in the luridly evil and indefensible cause of "God."

It's far better than those same folks focusing on the slow, wholesale confiscation, exploitation, and destruction of everything that everyone in the world (except them,) needs to stay alive.


Steve Scalise (R - Nazi Whisperer) had ONE job....

(with thanks to DUer MohRokTah for what we can only hope will become a Major Meme)]

So what does the job of "Majority Whip" involve?

Simple, really.

You're the one who assures the Majority Leader that the votes are there to pass whatever piece of legislation your party caucus is bringing to the floor.

And the GOP, as we all know, have a solid majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

So today, when they moved a GOP-supported bill to ease those bothersome Dodd-Frank restrictions on the high-level thievery of Wall Street to the floor for a vote, it should have sailed, right?


Republicans Fail to Quickly Pass House Bill Easing Dodd-Frank

You had ONE job, Steve.


WTG, dude. I'm sure your Vaterland is proud.


P.S. Why yes, yes I DID want "Steve Scalise (R - Nazi Whisperer)" in a thread title for SEO reasons. However did you guess?

A Pome: "Officer Friendly Killed My Brother"

My sister died because the medicine cost eighty-four thousand dollars
I can't breathe

My father was turned away at the voting place
I can't breathe

They took my aunt's house
I can't breathe

"A fund has been started to help the family pay medical expenses"
I can't breathe

My grandmother is still working--they privatised her pension
I can't breathe

My cousins got turned away from the public swimming pool
I can't breathe

My brother was beaten for holding hands with his husband
I can't breathe

My sister was killed for "looking like a ho"
I can't breathe

They put my neighbors in jail instead of treating their illness
I can't breathe

The sky is dark with soot and the land is slick and oily
I can't breathe

Officer Friendly killed my brother
I can't breathe

My voice is unheard
I can't breathe

Listen Up, You Oligarchs and Your Helots: It's a Stark Choice

It's also very simple.

We are reaching a tipping point. Enough "unimportant people" are finally pissed off to be demanding change in no uncertain terms. We believe:

  • Black lives matter
  • Our grandchildren should have a planet that supports human life
  • There really ARE alternatives to fossil fuels and they CAN make our lives better
  • Wall Street does nothing connected with us except steal from us
  • The terrorists who are hurting us most are already here in America-- and they wear suits
  • Who marries whom is a private affair between the parties concerned
  • Health insurance should not be another cover for stealing from us
  • Health care should focus on making us well, not keeping us sick for your profit
  • The outcome of our elections should be determined by our votes, not your money

We don't all believe all of these things with the same fervor or passion, but enough of us believe some or all of them with enough passion to demand change.

You have two options:

1. Stop the smash-and-grab raids, prepare to give up some of your ill-gotten gains, consolidate the rest and begin paying a share of the infrastructure and community expenses proportional to the gains you've wrested from it; or

2. Keep smashing and grabbing, clench tighter around control and try to keep change from happening.

Choose "1" and you'll get to keep some things you value, you'll still be more or less at the top of the food chain, and you'll live to steal again a couple of generations down the road.

Choose "2" and blood will flow. Some of it will be yours. No one will be able to predict the outcome, who will end up on top, who the new oppressors will be, how things will shake out. It's a risk.

That's the choice.

There is no option 3.

The time is growing short, and if you don't choose the choice will be made for you. Another risk.


FatalEncounters.org: Info Law Enforcement Doesn't Want You to Have

Journalists, protesters, activists and even historians attempting to summarize factual information on the number of people killed by law enforcement officers in the course of their duties have all encountered it: The brick wall of "No Information."

No one in America-- Not the FBI, not the Justice Department, not even (so far as we know) the NSA, the ultimate Agency that Sees All and Knows All, collects this data and/or is willing to share it.

When we ask "how bad is the problem?" we must accept the answer "we don't know."

Knowledge is of course power. And no law enforcement agency in America apparently wants the citizens it works for to have that power.

So we have to do it on our own.

And we ARE doing it on our own, via crowdsourcing, with FatalEncounters.org, a website created by D. Brian Burghart to compile this information from citizen sources.

Go look, it's worth seeing. Fifty-seven in New Mexico so far, the oldest going back to 2000.

It's even more worth donating.

Because who actually HAS this information? We do. We whose family members, neighbors, fellow-citizens have been killed, who read the newspapers, listen to the radio, monitor what's happening in our communities. We HAVE the information.

Let's put it together, so we can USE the information.

Thanks, Mr. Burghart. I WILL be donating.


Preventing Fergusons: A Modest Proposal

Dearly Beloved Oligarchs,

While I know you're not overly concerned about the rising tide of protest against police violence and racism (because, after all, you've made sure the heat have the very best military-grade hardware to deal with such obstreperous impertinence,) I imagine it's a bit annoying, and possibly even a setback to the Invisible Total Fascism (ITF) agenda. In order to continue pretending that they're doing their jobs, the media can't completely ignore what's going on, nor are their efforts to re-write the actual events and issues entirely successful.

It's definitely a setback.

Which is why I'm offering you this Modest Proposal, with the intent of avoiding future "Ferguson" powderkeg incidents. I figure you'll be able to implement it with a minimum of trouble, since your purchase of both houses of Congress has been completed. The solution is very simple:

Just bring back the death penalty for misdemeanors, and ensure it's applied to minors!

It's worked before... Heck, in 19th-Century Britain it took decades of coverage by the newly-established and inadequately controlled mass media to even gin up any outrage against it!

Now that you own the media, it should be a doddle.

Cops will no longer have to gun youngsters of "dark complexion" down in the streets where mobile phone cameras can capture images and use social media to provoke hysterical overreaction by unreasonable serfs who still believe in that silly "due process" fiction. They can just pop the little criminals into a Black Maria, hale them off to a star chamber, and shift them quickly to the gallows in a nice, private prison yard where no disruptive influences can witness "the drop."

Problem solved!

You're welcome, and I'm hoping you'll remember this favor when it comes time for dishing out the gruel. Seconds would be appreciated!


(P.S. For anyone who still can't figure it out: )
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