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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 2,606

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More things I say at <a href=\"http://vixenstrangelymakesuncommonsense.blogspot.com\"> Strangely Blogged</a>.

Journal Archives

More Like Death Panels For Small Websites

I dunno. Senator Ted Cruz says standard-issue stuff that right-wingers and telecom lobbyists have been saying for years like "Net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet", and somehow, it's like no one ever said that before. Oh, they have. But it's kind of a niche issue that pretty much tech-savvy people have followed, and Ted Cruz pretty much assumes that if you aren't in the know--he can go ahead and snow you with a line as absurd as:

'"Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government."

Ok. That's stupid. Net neutrality is basically what we mostly have now, and Obama wants to preserve that. It would be doing away with net neutrality that would result in crappy service and unfair policies like "throttling" that would slow down internet service to certain customers or certain websites based on whatever criteria the internet providers decide on. (Here's an excellent visual explainer from The Oatmeal.) Basically, how much do you love the fees and services you are getting from your cable company? Right. Your internet company is either a cable company or the next best thing, and that is what they will do to your service.

In fine--Ted Cruz does not know what the hell he is talking about, or is really, really dependent upon the idea that most people listening to him do not know what he is talking about. I don't care how cute "Obamacare for the Internet" sounds--it's actually really dumb. And instead of repeating ignorant bumpersticker schtick, it would be really great if we just called a big-bidness toady out for croaking the company line.

Ted Cruz? Ribbit ribbit, you are so toady. And we are not that stupid.

(X-posted at Strangely Blogged.)

The Knucklehead Constituency

You know, reading Charles Pierce is a pleasure for me--he has a wicked way with a phrase and I agree with him on a thing or two. So, I was interested in expanding upon a concern of his that touches on one of my own persistent puzzles--how it happens that people running for office are not called out when they seem to be dabbling--nay, professing, or at least out of one or more sides of their faces--in sheer and utter batshit. There are people who are by no means political neophytes who seem to have been delinquent on their reality bill--they are totally disconnected. I think it would be meaningful if objective reality could be entered into a political debate to actually determine who is more legitimately competent to deal with actual issues and not group hallucinations experienced by FOX News viewers and the WND readership, but I find myself altogether cynical about it.

I found myself not that long ago mourning the reality that there is no penalty for basically racist or conspiracy theorist views in some districts. (Hell, it seems to work, to some degree, to maneuver the "squeaky wheels" into higher profile positioning.) It bothers me to no end that theres a genuine likelihood that this mid-term election might even bring a bumper crop of "knuckleheads" into Congress that makes the 2010 freshmen look like fucking Solons.

But I get the reticence of Democratic challengers to call the whackadoodles out, I genuinely do. You take a contest like Tom Cotton vs incumbent AR Senator Pryor. Now, Cotton has a whole raft of signifying nonsense that has come out of him (blaming Obama for the Ukraine situation, carping on food stamps like they only started being part of farm bills since 2009--not since always), And he's down the line a social conservative--anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage. But he's kind of funky in that Rand Paul, not understanding social contracts kind of way. But you know why Pryor can't call him a whackadoodle, even if the name kind of fits?



In the Book of Matthew it is written--

Whatever you do for the least of these, my children, you do also for me.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. ”

Now, I'm an atheist, myself, but these, to me, are an expansion on the Golden Rule. If you can't easily understand how to treat others as you would want to be treated, then ask yourself, how would you want your mother to be treated, or your brother, or your wife, or your guru or your rabbi or whoever it is you love--how would you want them to be treated?

When these Pharisees, these holier-than-anyone types, see their God, how would they respond when He says to them: "When I was ostracized for who I loved, when I had to be silent to protect my loved one and myself, and yet you denied me my liberty--

"When I was bullied and was frightened, and yet you gave succor to my bully, and increased my pain--

"When I wanted to work, but I was denied employment, because you calumniated against me--

"When I was told my loved one was not my kin, and and was turned away from his hospital bed

"When my children where taken away from me, because they were of my spouse, but I enjoyed no physical part in them

"When I was told I was not well, but you would make me whole by abusing me

"When I was beaten, you ignored my pain but told me I asked for it,

"When I tried to enjoy my body according to my understanding, but you told me my understanding was corrupted, and I had no right to the only flesh and blood I would ever know

"When I wanted to raise the orphan, I was called a pervert, and when I wanted to raise the child of my flesh, I was called unfit, and when I wanted to marry and be a parent, all the while I was called a liar.

I would say no true Christian should treat gays as they have been treated by Christians in the past. Maybe I say that as a bisexual and an atheist, but I think that thought holds up.

"These assholes always get away."

Those words: "These assholes always get away," were spoken by George Zimmerman during the 911 call that he made as he stalked 17-year-old Trayvon Martin moments before killing him.

These assholes.

What assholes?

The ones who were always getting away. Zimmerman had made 46 calls to 911 regarding people whose behavior he did not approve of since 2001. It does not seem to have occurred to him that he was not the police, or that he was a nuisance. Or that maybe following people for no good reason was inherently threatening, or that he had no business minding everyone else's business, let alone trying to stop a 17-year old boy for reasons unknown....just because these assholes are always getting away.

What assholes?

If by "asshole", you mean someone doing something they have no business doing and making life generally worse for other people, well, it is a damn shame they so often get away. Isn't it? Aren't there a bunch of people out there with that very thought in mind? Don't you know someone yourself, who always seems to be thinking that very thing? These assholes always get away?

You know who is the asshole? George Zimmerman. People like him. People who can't mind their own business. People who think everyone is a suspect. People who can't empathize or use the damn brains in their heads to do anything but try to divide the world up into "good guys" and "bad guys". People who'd rather see someone dead on the ground before they would bother to see them as human beings.

Who is the asshole?

People who are the reason we can't have nice things. People who would cry up and down that some asshole, somewhere, is getting some shit for free they aren't even entitled to--like their right to walk on the same street in a gated community while black as other people, which is all I can think Zimmerman saw when he thought Martin looked suspicious and out of place. Maybe that wasn't it--but I do know one thing--he saw an "asshole". And that wasn't the only words he used.

These assholes always get away is like the shithead answer to everything. Someone, somewhere, is getting away with something, so let's kill what's good. God forbid anyone get away with anything. Someone might be voting fraudulently. Someone might be having non-procreative sex. Someone might even be enjoying themselves. Assholes. Someone on food stamps might have piece of steak. Someone, somewhere, has off-the-books income to stay afloat and they don't even report it. Some one, somewhere, is an asshole, and other, uptight assholes, the kind with guns or firebombs, just want to make sure no one gets away with anything.

There are assholes who would stick a probe up a woman's lady business and torture her for a couple of days before they'd let her get away with having sex, being a woman, or being fertile seeking the medical care she has determined is best for herself. There are assholes who would take away the right to vote for the old, the poor, and minorities because they don't want people to get away with those voting preferences they know they have.

These assholes always get away. With what? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

I'm feeling massively curmudgeonly right now. Fuck an asshole who would murder an innocent boy. Fuck a system that would let the murderer damn near get away with it. Fuck our human tendency to go looking for assholes, and to screw over every person in the world just because of a few possible, even imaginary, cheaters. It makes me more than mad, and a bit of an asshole, myself.

(Cross-posted at Strangely Blogged )

You Would Not Tell With Such High Zest--


It seems an interesting coincidence that the end of the Iraq War coincides with the death of one of its fiercest proponents. Of the various errata among Hitchens' works are evidences of sexism, religious bigotry (but of course!), elitism, but the unforgivable mistake (http://gawker.com/5868761/christopher-hitchens-unforgivable-mistake ) is clearly support of a war of choice engaged by the United States against Iraq, a nation unfortunately burdened with a dictator in the despicable person of Saddam Hussein--of whom nothing good I have to say, a complex history, and rich oil fields. Oh, and the Islamic religion--of which I have nothing to say in relation to the conflict in Iraq, because it should not have mattered.

But it did. In the aftermath of 9/11, not just the usual PNAC neocon folks were itching to invade Iraq (Because of: WMDs, or programs to develop WMDs, or ties between Saddam and al-Qaida, or because Saddam was a genocidal war criminal, or...oh take your pick!) A lot of the Villager/pundit/talking head class were for it. After all, Saddam Hussein was a really bad guy. Ask the Marsh Arabs, or the Kurds. And he really did have a sophisticated weapons program as of the first Gulf War.

Of course, UN inspectors weren't finding any evidence of weapons programs as of 2002-03. And the crimes of Saddam Hussein had passed without prosecution from the end of the Gulf War to....whenever it was that the Bush Administration decided that invading Iraq was a necessary thing. Which on reflection seems to have been always. But never mind that. A variety of forces conspired to make this war look like a Very Good Idea to a lot of the voices who mattered. Digby (http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/hitchens.html ) suggests that Hitchens was hoodwinked in part by the plausible-sounding con artistry of Ahmed Chalabi. That didn't hurt...but I also suggest that because of the chummy atmosphere between the pundits and the politicians, it was harder for anyone in that milieu to positively state that the war was going to be a great mistake, if not a criminal undertaking. It's one thing, after all, to indict a Henry Kissinger from afar, but a harder thing to suspect friends of great bastardy after being entertained under their roofs, drinking their booze, or meeting their as-yet uncorrupted family-members.

In the beginning, Hitchens' defense of the Iraq war effort strike me as being of a piece with the general pro-war tone of much of the media--he was only more bombastic about it, but then, his was a style a trifle given to excess. It was only that he didn't divert from it, or recant. He only defended it the more as it became more....contrarian.....to do so. Coates ( http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/hitchens-and-the-war/250177/ ) points to his piece, A War to be Proud Of ( http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/995phqjw.asp?page=3 ) as painful to read, and I agree, adding that his answer to the question "Why did we get it wrong?" in the five-year anniversary retrospective of "liberal-hawks'" in Slate was: "I didn't." ( http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/hitchens-and-the-war/250177/ )

So help me, if that piece did not strike me as saying "We have always been at war with Eastasia." But in there, I saw what he was saying. The history of the US with respects to Iraq had been one of meddling without accountability. Even in the instance of the first Gulf War, GHWB gave Hussein's subjects reason to think they might be supported if there were an uprising, but let them down. Maybe he thought, and maybe others thought, that the mistakes of the past might be expiated by one grand act of war. A neat, clean surgical affair. Like the first one, but for good and all.


The problem with that is history. The problem with that is that if one allows that a Nixon/Kissinger collusion prolonged Vietnam and complicated affairs for political purposes, or acknowledges that the Reagan Administration ran a black ops war in Central America whilst selling arms to and negotiating with a state sponsor of terror--one can't then also expect anything like a nice, clean, happy little war from the direct heirs of the Nixon and Reagan Administrations.

Hitchens allowed himself to be waterboarded and repudiated the practice. He should have known better, however....he shouldn't have needed water thrown in his face to be awake to the reality that those capable of torture are capable of anything. The mistake he made was a mistake possibly made for the right reasons--a belief that the people of Iraq would be better off without a dictator--that they deserved better; the twin grave errors were in thinking that the dictator alone was the problem, and that force was the sole solution. Or allow a third: that the Middle east needs western intervention because we are so super cool and enlightened. And while history will judge whether it was right to support the Iraq War, what it will not be judged by is what might have been if it had not happened.

Hitchens thought that the Frankensteins of war would not make a monster this time, as if something stitched together from corpses would be anything but.

I think history may still provide something positive for the Iraqi people, but it will be because they chose their path, and we can't really say what would have happened if the war had not happened. And that is why I am a little jarred when reading that Leon Panetta has looked upon the past nine years, and pronounced it "worth it."

I am not so sure. But I don't think anyone decides that--once the bargain is made, the price can't be unpaid. That should be the lesson learned, if any.
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