20score's Journal - Archives
The Occupy Movement is about fairness. Economics, justice, health care, wars, living standards, etc., and if I could throw in just one more thing into the pot, it would be to end the war on drugs.
The only people who should be unfamiliar with the arguments against prohibition are people who have been in a coma for the past forty years or so. And even that is a lame excuse for supporting the Drug War. They just haven’t given it the ten minutes of critical thought it deserved. No one has ever overdosed on marijuana; in a free country adults should be able to make their own choices. Prohibition doesn’t work, makes the country a one of hypocrites and causes far more damage than the substances being banned. Many of the people making and supporting laws that put people in jail and damage lives have at least tried marijuana. That is the type of hypocrisy that makes Larry Craig’s hypocrisy seem damned near wholesome. And the list goes on and on.
It’s far past the time to end this failed, morally bankrupt policy. It doesn’t matter what the substance is that is being prohibited, if people think they have a right to it, there will be a black-market and the prohibition will do more harm than good. We’ve put tens of thousands of people in jail who don’t belong there, ruined countless of families, made the country a more unsafe place to live, given up many of our rights and spent a trillion dollars doing it. Since this movement is about fairness, what say we demand an end to the drug war? Or is this asking too much?
Okay Mr. Eric Erickson, I’ll give you points for eschewing logic and being devoid of facts, and even give extra points for misrepresenting the other side - but that is not nearly enough in today’s wacky world. It’s fine to lie… no, it’s a requirement to lie in Teabag-land, but the types of lies matter. You can’t just cut and paste and mix and match, your lies should be so shockingly out of place with reality that people are knocked off balance. Now take Glenn Beck, that dude knows how to bring the crazy and really stand out.
I’m copying a few people who may not be familiar with the entire back-story, so please be patient while I let them in on my objections to your work. You and a couple of Teabagger friends, Josh Trevino and Mike Wilson, saw that people were standing up for fairness and social justice. They called themselves the Occupy Movement or the 99% and this made you naturally and righteously irate. Something had to be done and you were the men to do it! They weren’t taking orders from the Koch brothers and Fox News like all good grass-roots protests should - why these people standing up against your bosses. So, you formed a group called the 53% to counter them. Now, you started off right by attacking the 99%ers for something they never said – implying that they were asking for handouts and not wanting to work. Then you had people who were being screwed and were happy about it telling their stories. So far, so good. Then you got lazy and took photos off the internet and shopped them holding your message. That’s just lazy and easy to counter. Sure, you’re burying the bar, but not nearly deep enough.
I know how you feel and I sympathize. The golden age of Teabagging is gone and the teabags you see really are smaller than they appear in your rear-view mirror. It seems like only yesterday that screaming at a wheelchair-bound woman, or throwing change at a man on the ground with Parkinson’s was enough to make people take you seriously. Not anymore. You need to take Beck’s lead and go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and dig for days to bury that metaphoric bar. The crazier the better, Beck always says. (Rumor has it people are taking bets on the day he brings up aliens. Not the ones from Mexico or Central America, the ones from Alpha Centauri.)
Your “I love being screwed by the rich!” message may resonate with some, but if you want to stand out, you need to ‘Bend it like Beck’ so to speak. He’s already said that the Occupy Movement people were going to “come for you and drag you into the streets and kill you. They will do it. They’re not messing around.” He’s also claimed that this is just the first stage of a world-wide Marxist movement. Stage two will be led by Van Jones – for some reason. Sure, normal people will hear those comments and say, “What the… That’s nuts!” But it’s hard to argue with, and that’s the point. If someone says to another, “The tax structure is inherently unfair” and the answer is “Excuse me while I masturbate to this picture of hockey skates.” How do you counter that?
…and forget the personal attacks. At least be honest about it. What are you members of the right-wing attack machine really saying, anyway? That attacking Iraq for imaginary reasons was a good thing? Robbing the Treasury and adding trillions of debt was the patriotic thing to do? That the problem with Orwell’s 1984 is that it didn’t go far enough? That torture and imprisonment without trials rocks when we do it? As you swarm en masse like locusts on a fertile field – my apologies to swarming locusts – you once again only attack the messenger and leave the message unscathed.
One particularly noxious column by a twisted sister named Jennifer Rubin displays the lack of character so prominent in the attack machine’s members. Not one strike against the substance, but multiple assaults on Krugman’s person. She then uses her false outrage to berate the entire so-called, liberal media. Meaning of course any media that is not outright fascist. “One thing you can say for Krugman: The jewel of the liberal media is revealed to be an intellectual black hole and a spiritual wasteland. No wonder it is a dying enterprise. Its countrymen have better things to do than be insulted by the likes of Krugman.” Krugman didn’t insult his ‘countrymen,’ he insulted people like her, people like Bush, Limbaugh and Rumsfeld. Along with those in the media who, "should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?”
Two things among the very long list of incidents that we should be ashamed of and that we should correct as a nation are the following. The division purposely fostered for political gain when we naturally wanted to unite, and the attacks on any who dared to speak the obvious. The Dixie Chicks, Michael Moore, Richard Clark, Amy Goodman, Cindy Sheehan, Jimmy Carter, Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame… the list goes on and on and no further names should be allowed to be added to this list. It’s time to stop those who have shamed our country. You.
A statement like that covers a lot of moronic ground, so it’s not easy to out-dumb it. Have there been statements made that were more idiotic than this one, sometime in history? Most definitely. Even heard some myself -- just can’t think of any at the moment. It was made about a year ago by an acquaintance. It was in response to my answer, to his question, “So, what’s going on politically?” I checked to make sure he was serious and really wanted an answer. He assured me he did; he wanted to know. So I told him.
He believed all the economic problems of the nation had been solved and there was nothing left to worry about in that regard. He expected me to confirm his feelings. Instead I told him that although there have been minor improvements for the short term -this was a year ago, remember – in the long term, we were looking at more bad times to come. The Stimulus wasn’t big enough and the effect wouldn’t last. Derivatives were still basically unregulated and were bound to make any upcoming problems many times worse. Speculation on the futures market could and probably would, drive up prices on gas, food and other essentials. Nothing had happened in the tax code which will help the economy and we would most likely stay in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the will of the people. Our trade policy was still geared to help mostly large multi-national companies and harm the average worker. I also mentioned that nothing had been done to bring good paying jobs with benefits back to this country. My answer was given calmly with a tinge of resignation and a little bit hopelessness, because that’s the way I felt at the time. His reaction took me by surprise. He got angry and made the above statement.
Accusing someone of being arrogant is very big on the right whenever facts won’t serve their purpose in an argument. Whether the topic is Social Security, global warming or economics, accusing someone of being arrogant is adult peer pressure. It’s the grown-up equivalent of, “What are ya, chicken?” Most adults don’t like to be charged with arrogance, any more than a ten year old likes to be called 'chicken.’ For the base, greedy, douche-bags selling propaganda, this is just another weapon in their arsenal. Along with lying and dividing people into us-and-them camps. My former acquaintance wasn’t using the term to intimidate me into changing my mind, but he did want me to think twice before voicing anything that challenged his worldview. This particular person could deny reality with the best of them, especially when his company stood to make money if his beliefs held true.
All across the propagandistsphere, (TM, me - as far as I know) pundits have been calling those who believe in climate change, “arrogant.” Larry Elders, Beck, Limbaugh, even CNN’s Chad Meyers have said that those who believe humans could have an effect on the earth’s temperature, are “arrogant.” Facts and science should be thrown out, because it’s obvious we are too insignificant to have an effect. Why go any further than that? You really think you’re that important? Bill O’Donnell of the Rockford Register said what so many others in the media, and those who follow their nonsense say almost every time the subject comes up, “It is, I believe, arrogant of mankind to think it can cause climate change.”
When Palin, O’Reilly or anyone else who is claiming to be just, ‘one of the folks’ uses the word, “elite’ they do not mean it as a compliment, and they certainly don’t mean to call the elite in question, ‘the cream of the crop.’ They say the word with an inflection in their voice that means those people think they are better than you. They are arrogant. Whatever they say is suspect at best and should be ignored. Who do they think they are? To think they know better than us – it’s arrogant. When an economist like Paul Krugman states that tax cuts will not stimulate the economy anywhere as effectively as direct government spending, well, he can be ignored because he’s a liberal elite and he thinks he knows better than you do. And that is arrogant.
Social Security is attacked in much the same way. If the lies about SS being broke and being a Ponzi Scheme are put forth and still haven’t had the desired effect, the deal closer is often an attack on those who would keep SS in its current form as being, arrogant. Are they saying these people are too stupid to plan for their own retirement? That pretty arrogant, don’t you think? The truth is the arrogance is on the side of those who think every dime on the planet should be theirs for the taking… or at the very least they believe they should get a cut. It is also arrogant to believe a layman - who has never read a word about or given any real thought to economics - knows as much as a Nobel Laureate. And it is also arrogant to believe that thousands of scientists are lying to you so that they can make a buck.
Time to hold up a mirror.
Seemingly spontaneous protests against the media erupted today in front of CNN and other news outlets in both New York and Los Angeles stations. Celebrities whose private lives are falling apart insisted that the media refocus their attention on one person’s plight, alone. Nice looking people on trial for everything from grand larceny to murder joined the celebrities in solidarity.
A spokesperson for CAMWWU, (Celebrities and Missing White Women Unite) complained that the United States is not ready for serious news, even if that news is incomplete and misleading. “Every time someone wants to start a war or the economy takes a dive, it’s like we’re not even there,” said Mr. Sandbar. “And everyone knows you’ll come crawling back to us, because we have staying power!”
The Situation, a television reality star, was in New York to show support for the temporally ousted celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen. “Like, they’re talkin’ about this stuff no one understands or cares about, like double A and triple A… those are great grades, sure, but right now there’s a celebrity somewhere doing drugs that could be like, a yearlong story,” Mr. Situation said. “I mean, if someone snorts a line and there’s no cameras there to record it, did anyone really get high? At this rate we’ll never know.”
Wolf Blitzer from CNN says he can sympathize with the protesters, but remains adamant that the media’s hands are tied. “We try our best to keep the focus on what’s important,” Mr. Blitzer intoned. “Like who Jennifer Lopez is dating and who’s in jail, but sometimes we have to move to news. Like now… Wall Street’s economy is important, you know. Main Street’s economy been screwed for years and you didn’t see us cover that, did you? These people should be thanking us for that. All we can do now is promise to pretend everything is equal on both sides and never dig too deep… That’s our job.”
who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." The Peter Principle (1969)
The quote, which is sometimes misattributed to Mark Twain, is witty; and what can be inferred from it is true. Some of the people in charge are imbeciles, true believers in their cause, and some are smart people who knowingly lie for greed, ideology or whatever reasons they call their own. Not that all leaders are bad, of course. That should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. There are many who are truly great and unselfish people who should be lauded for their work. (Bernie Sanders comes to mind.) But for the others, whether they get important things wrong because they don’t understand, or whether they get things wrong because they don’t care, they and their supporters should be challenged at every turn.
For at least thirty years the Republicans have been moving the debates further and further to the right. And each time the Democrats move to the right- and then meet them half way. The result is that now in the twenty-first century, the entire debate takes place in what was not too long ago, considered lunatic-land. Where reality, democracy and facts hold no sway. Consider the two sides of the budget debate now being brokered. One is terrible, the other is disgusting. How much to take from the needy and the poor? That’s what’s being discussed. And with one side asking if we could not give quite so much to the richest corporations. All this is taking place as if they didn’t know that many of our most profitable and largest corporations paid nothing in taxes last year. Nothing. Exxon, GE, Bank of America, all paid less than a receptionist in any of those companies paid by his or herself. Making corporations and the extremely rich pay their fair share of taxes – not on the table. Ending the Bush tax cuts, which according to a new CBO report would solve the deficit problem in five years - not on the table. The one budget proposal that would actually solve most of the country’s fiscal problems is not being discussed and most people don’t even know of its existence. It’s smart, creates a budget surplus by 2021 and filled with very popular ideas. Like ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s call the People’s Budget and was introduced in April by 83 members of Congress, and then completely ignored by the corporate media. Whenever popular and common sense ideas are brought out that could actually solve problems, but yet hurt the profits of a powerful corporation, however slightly, the people bringing out those ideas are either ignored or talked about in a snide tone of voice that dismisses them as unworthy of consideration. Too bad.
The debate about climate change along with debate on whether or not to teach intelligent design as science are two obvious examples of the imbecile/smart leader divide. There is no real debate about climate change. Over one hundred and fifty years ago John Tyndall discovered that carbon dioxide was a greenhouse gas. No one disputes that. No one disputes that we spew billions of tons of this greenhouse gas that has been sequestered for millennia into the atmosphere. Years before, scientists predicted certain changes in climate due to our putting carbon into the atmosphere; we are seeing those changes now. Yet the media allows a false debate to take place by people who are lying, or who have no clue concerning the science they are there to speak about. The top executives in the news outlets must know there is no debate. And the newspapers, magazines and television programs that allow this should be inundated by people tired of having their intelligence insulted.
The same goes for the false equivalence in the ‘religion as a science’ debate. Recently there was a film clip of Miss America contestants answering the question, “Should evolution be taught in schools?” With far too many answering either, ‘No’ or ‘As long as they teach the other side.’ There is no ‘other side.’ Not with science. Science is not the equal of religion. Just like fact is not the equal of opinion. The other side of creationism or intelligent design is other creation myths. Not science. Creationism and ID are by definition religions and by the same definition cannot be science. Partly because of a lazy, cowed or bought off media this false equivalence has been allowed to grow without serious challenge for years, with a result of millions of people not knowing the deference between science and religion.
Unfortunately, this has terrible consequences, not only for the future of our country’s doctors, scientists, etc, but also for the ability of millions to think critically. More vocal challenging of the media and our leaders when they outright lie or make a mockery of logic may not solve everything right away, but it does go to the root of so many of our problems.
Next week, the TSA and spying.
Fifteen or twenty years ago I was friends with two men who were completely different on their outlooks and politics. But whether we were at work or drinking at a bar afterwards, we could talk about politics with no tension or strain on the friendships. One of those men was generally on the left whose main interests were legalizing marijuana and ending prejudice. The other man had interests more aligned with Moral Majority – although he did not cajole others and did not have hypocritical bone in his body – he wanted the white picket fence around his house, a large family that dedicated their lives to the church, and he wanted to stop abortion. One called himself a Libertarian, the other called himself a Christian - who was generally on the right. But he was not a member of what was called the Christian Right, at least not at that time. Then came the Bush years, the 9-11 Terrorist Attacks, Fox News and the Iraq War - and everything changed.
Neither of those people could have a calm discussion, never mind a debate, about politics at this time. Not with me, not with each other. Except in one area – economics. The Libertarian and the now full-fledged member of the Christian Right would agree on tax cuts, healthcare and deregulation. The fact that I cannot have a calm or logical discussion with either of these two men now, because we have different realities and form our opinions from two completely different sets of facts, is a shame but is also a different subject than the one at hand. Both men have become far more entrenched in their original set of beliefs and have diverged to the point of no common ground over the past decade and a half. The Christian Right member is strongly against gay marriage, wants prayer in school, and is for abstinence education. The Libertarian is vehemently opposed to those ideas, still wants marijuana legalized and would like to see prostitution and gambling available to all adults. Where their ideals have converged is in the belief that their ideologies are tied to corporate freedom. So what they have in common, these two very different men, is a love for privatization, a hatred for the EPA, a belief that corporations should pay little or no taxes and cognitive dissonance. How could so completely different ideologies be identical in areas that should not be an issue with either? That is actually against the interests of those who are socially on the left and those socially on the right?
Indoctrination. Anyone familiar with the methods Scientologists use would be familiar with the methods of right-wing churches and some Libertarians. One is welcomed into a group and presented with non-controversial ideas, at least to the person being approached. Then, little by little, ideas that would not have stood up to objective reasoning on their own are introduced in the context of other accepted ideas and the formula is used, “If this is true, it follows that this is also true.” Scientologists will tell their new inductees that if this last class made them feel better, then Scientology must be true. Even though this is specious reasoning, because people getting attention and friendship will naturally feel better, and it is not necessarily because of any classes they took. The same process is involved with Libertarians and those involved with Christian Right churches.
My left-wing friend would go down to Venice Beach during the nineties and started working with the Libertarians in their efforts to legalize marijuana. From there they convinced him that workers are only held down by unions. (In the beginning of this process he started to refer to his new heroine in discussions - Ann Rand. He has since learned her real name.) Then the Libertarians were able to convince him that if people were to be truly free, the same had to happen to corporations. It just naturally followed. Then, with constant repetition, my old friend was able to change his attitude and what he believed in, completely. He took a job that incorporated those beliefs and tied them to success. His transformation was absolute. The people he used to want to help, i.e. the homeless, etc., were now solely responsible for their own predicament. The list goes on. Where once he was an admirer of Gandhi and Malcolm X, now he is an admirer of Milton Friedman.
My other friend embraced an ideology that he had originally thought of as intolerant and at least slightly hypocritical. The church he joined tied being right with God with being for the Iraq War. The television channel he watched tied patriotism to free-trade and being against anything liberal. There was, in both the church he attended and the television channel he watched, a strong sense of being against a group, or groups, that were less than the one ‘they’ belonged to. These were the same tactics used by the Scientologists and Libertarians – “If this is true, then it follows…” a sense of belonging, a demarcation between us and them, and an inundation of this new set of ‘facts.’ Within a decade, this person who treated everyone kindly and wanted justice for people all over was pro-torture and needed only the flimsiest reason to bomb another country, but would be nearly apoplectic if someone suggested that our health care system is costing people their lives. Both men can now easily throw out facts that do not fit their world views, hold contradictory ideas simultaneously, think of others as less-than, embrace authoritarian ideals and believe wholeheartedly in ideologies that harm their families and themselves. In short, they belong to what could be classified as at least, quasi-cults.
What my two old friends and others like them have not caught on to is that they are being used. The moneyed and corporate interests have taken two distinct groups, from the left and the right, and falsely tied their interests to the corporation’s interests. Of the three groups involved here, the corporations, the social Libertarians and the Christian right, only one group continually gets what it wants while the other two groups are given small scraps and told to keep fighting. How long before the other two groups catch on and realize the interests of the group they have partnered with, are not their own?
A couple of things have happened this year in Oklahoma that should have every person of conscience more than a little perturbed. I’m not talking about the things the Christian Right is so proud of, like the ‘Ten Commandment Law’ or the ‘Ultrasound and Monitor Viewing Law’ or even the “Tenth Amendment Resolution.” Although those laws/resolution are to be lamented, particularly the law that makes a woman watch a monitor displaying her ultrasound, even in cases in rape or incest before she has an abortion - the injustices I’m talking about are more recent. One is the case of Patricia Spottedcrow, a twenty-five year old mother of four who sold $31 of marijuana to a police informant and has started a ten year sentence in February. The second is a bill just passed in Oklahoma that could put a person in jail for life for making hash. The bill passed 44-2 in the Senate and 75-18 in the House.
So, in Oklahoma a person could go to prison, for life, for making pot a little stronger. The same sentence one would expect for rape or murder. Injustices like this should not be tolerated by our society. But there are some things we can do.
The first is easy. Sign a petition to free Patricia Spottedcrow:
And if you feel like going the extra step, please call, write or fax Governor Fallin:
Oklahoma State Capitol
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 212
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
E-mail: email@example.com Local: (405) 521-2342 Fax: (405) 521-3353
The next request is directed to journalists and intrepid bloggers. Investigate and expose these Oklahoma State House members and find anyone who has smoked pot or done other drugs with any of these sadistic hypocrites:
HOUSE BILL 1798 Public health and safety; making certain acts
Tibbs unlawful; effective date.
THIRD READING PASSED
YEAS: 75 RCS# 358
NAYS: 18 3/17/2011
EXC : 8 4:13 PM
C/P : 0
Armes, Grau, McNiel, Roberts, S.,
Banz, Hall, Moore, Rousselot,
Billy, Hamilton, Morrissette, Russ,
Brown, Hardin, Mulready, Sanders,
Brumbaugh, Hickman, Murphey, Schwartz,
Cannaday, Hilliard, Nelson, Sears,
Casey, Hoskin, Newell, Sherrer,
Cockroft, Inman, Nollan, Shoemake,
Condit, Jackson, Ortega, Shumate,
Coody, Johnson, Ownbey, Sullivan,
Cooksey, Jordan, Peters, Terrill,
Denney, Kern, Peterson, Thomsen,
Derby, Kouplen, Proctor, Tibbs,
DeWitt, Liebmann, Pruett, Vaughan,
Dorman, Lockhart, Quinn, Walker,
Farley, Martin,Sc., Renegar, Wesselhoft,
Faught, Martin,St., Richardson, Wright,
Fourkiller, McCullough, Roan, Mr.Speaker,
Glenn, McDaniel, R., Roberts, D.,
Same for the sadistic hypocrites in the Oklahoma Senate:
YEAS: 44 RCS# 570
NAYS: 2 4/20/2011
EXC : 2 2:55 PM
N/V : 0
Adelson, Brown, Holt, Rice,
Aldridge, Burrage, Ivester, Russell,
Allen, Coates, Johnson, R., Schulz,
Anderson, Crain, Jolley, Shortey,
Ballenger, David, Justice, Simpson,
Barrington, Eason Mc, Laster, Sparks,
Bass, Ellis, Marlatt , Stanislawski,
Bingman, Fields, Myers, Sykes,
Branan, Ford, Newberry, Treat,
Brecheen, Garrison, Nichols, Wilson,
Brinkley, Halligan, Paddack, Wyrick,
I’ve never asked for any post or essay I’ve written to be passed around, but would love to see this get some exposure.
I have been a member of the professional left for most of my adult life. Well, as of today I am officially resigning my position and joining the corporate left. The pay was terrible and the hours were lousy. Most of the time I got paid in tofu and M&M’s. My soles are worn out from marching and the seats of my pants have holes from sit-ins. I have carried more signs – spelled correctly, thank you very much – than I have hairs on my head. This may come as a surprise to those of you who have been following my scribblings since my days with Jack Kerouac, but there has been a gradual slide to the right for the past two years. It just hasn’t been public.
A little over two years ago I was an idealistic youngster that wanted certain things for the country. Health care for all, a strong and vibrant middle-class, jobs, fair-trade, an end to illegal wars and torture. I wanted criminals, both political and financial, held to account. I believed that the spirit of the Constitution – the real one that was written on paper, not the one with Jesus in it – should be respected by all three branches of government. I was so naďve. But now I see the error of my ways and realize I can have the best of both worlds. The left and the right.
My conversion to what is now called the center began in 2009 when I and others like me were pushing for a public option with no mandate. I believed, like candidate Obama did, that some people were without insurance because they could not afford it, not because they were evil and greedy. I believed at the time that giving people a choice to opt out of for-profit health care was not only a good way to keep costs from skyrocketing, but that it wasn’t really all that Nazish in nature. That was before it was explained to me by Rahm Emanuel that I was a “fucking retard.” It had never been made clearer than that. We were wrong and he was right. Now I understand.
The same type of epiphany came to me when fretting about the fact that neither Bush nor anyone in his administration, or anyone who was responsible for trillions of dollars of theft, had been held to account. I had been making the mistake that was prevalent on the left at the time by conflating normal law, where things like present and past tense are taken for granted, with Pundit/President Law where things like what tense applies is more subjective. When Obama said that he had, “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” I realized then how foolish my beliefs were. Now that I understand that persons subject to Pundit/President Law were only accountable for future actions, I once again felt irrational and envied those on the television who saw this so clearly from the outset.
Being part of the “professional left” means living with blinders on. There are so many subtleties that escape attention. A big one is how to bargain from a position of strength. I used to believe, in my ignorance, that is was better for one to hold onto an “ace in the hole,” so to speak, and concede only when necessary, than to give everything up before the game actually starts. Wrong! If one gives up more than is being asked, then the element of surprise is on that person’s side. The Bush tax cut extension debate was the perfect example of this strategy. Even though the strategy was employed successfully during the health care and energy debates, no one expected this clever ruse. And it worked. After the other side was given more than they had asked for, they stopped whining for more… Okay, maybe not stopped, but there was a decrease, of sorts.
For me, and for many of my companions on the corporate left, leaving the professional left is a win-win-win situation. Money is all around for the taking, the right still hates us and we can hold on to our liberal guilt with no sense of irony. See, there is a huge canyon separating the corporate left from the corporate right. We hold many of the same beliefs, such as the most beneficial security methods for the country are the most expensive and the most intrusive, regardless of effectiveness. We believe that revenue, or lack thereof, has no effect on budget deficits, so the only way to balance a budget is cuts to the politically powerless. But here’s where the differences become apparent – the right feels good about those cuts, and the left feels remorse. No one could ever confuse the two.
My conversion to the corporate left comes with, not surprisingly, a plea for money. Now that my ideology centers on making the rich richer, I expect the money to come rolling in. I just need a few leads?
They get us into a lot of trouble. Not just the recent, obvious and crazy lies like the ones Glenn Beck tells, but the vast mosaic of lies and untrue ideas that have affected every culture throughout history to one degree or another. From the horrific, such as the myths that early Mesoamericans were told that made human sacrifice a part of their culture, or the lies told to Nazi Germany that produced the Holocaust, to the relatively mundane falsehoods told in ancient Greece that resulted in people praying to Eros to help them in matters of love. We still have numerous falsehoods circulating in our modern culture that produce negative side effects. But today more than any other time there is less of an excuse to believe the lies told that make many lives, that much worse.
People are responsible for the culture they live in. Not all people, obviously, and not all aspects of the culture. Some traditions and cultural idiosyncrasies come from external considerations, historical difficulties, knowledge base and local environment. But some group of people with power decided or acquiesced to certain conventions that were/are a detriment to the majority or at the very least, an undue hardship on a minority. Added to that, people then consented to live by these rules. But most people if asked would design the perfect place to live without many of the hardships their own culture imposes. If polled, most Afghanis – and this would have to include the women – would not what to live under the harsh and contemptible laws of the Taliban. Most Americans would want a cleaner, freer and less crowded country. The same could be said of the Chinese. But the only thing holding back Americans and the Chinese is political will. People are made to believe lies that tell them – “nothing can be done.” And people are told other lies that lull them into believing nothing should be done. Global warming isn’t real. You need to give up freedom in order to be safe. We need to lock up millions of drug users in order to be secure. Corporations should have the rights, but not the responsibilities of people. And how long could the Taliban survive if enough Afghanis stood up and refused to allow their women to be beaten and stoned for the most commonplace of actions?
Religion has been instrumental in a myriad of cultural deficiencies throughout time. It was used to justify slavery for centuries, and the number of wars using religion as a rationalization are too numerous to count. There were tens of thousands of people burned to death from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries because they were falsely accused of being witches. Countless millions of Hindus have lived and died in squalor because their religion and culture believe in a caste system that dictates a person will belong to the caste his or her parents belong to. The lucky ones are born into a higher varna, the very unlucky, the untouchables, are outside the varna castes completely. During the Victorian era, sexual hang-ups due to religion resulted in what would be considered now, torture of many minors. We cringe when reading or hearing about female circumcision and clitoridectomies done in parts of Africa, the Near East or Asia. But those same procedures were done in the United States in the late nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries to prevent onanism, or masturbation. And for males there were devises made to prevent erections, even one that went as far as administering electric shocks. All of these things went against common sense, compassion and the greater good of society. Yet they were permitted due to falsehoods believed because of religion.
If viewed through a lens that permitted pure objectivism, or as close as we could imagine, wouldn’t some of the tenets we live by seem arbitrary, and in many cases self defeating? People all over the world engage in customs that range from dangerous self-mutilation and unhealthful habits to being mildly uncomfortable in order to “look cool” or attract a mate. The Kayan Lahwi of Myanmar wear brass rings on their necks, women in China endured painful foot binding for a thousand years. People in western societies pierce their skin and tongues, smoke and women wear shoes they profess are uncomfortable. Yet if every woman wore comfortable shoes, men would still want to sleep with them. But those are minor practices that most people don’t give a second thought to. The dangerous, self-defeating delusions are the ones that should be obvious, given all that we know. The belief, mainly held on the right, that global warming is a hoax is causing damage to our economy, our health and environment, our trade deficit and our ability to think logically. The people who disbelieve are using the same specious reasoning used to throw out evolution. And that same specious reasoning is used on both the left and the right to discount the extremely clear danger of over-population. Which is far and away our most pressing and important concern - dwarfing even global warming.
It seems that in many places and times, the most greedy and sadistic people rule. That is not always the case and many times lives get better because people demand it. So, what can we do to address problems like climate change and over-population? Margret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” It may be as simple as a few more people employing a little more courage and imparting knowledge. It sometimes takes courage to speak up against widely held, untrue beliefs, but eventually the truth wins out. When enough people say, “This must change,” things will change.
On November 17th the Los Angeles Times published an editorial titled, Shut Up and Be Scanned. As is the case with many arguments that advocate for a wrongheaded solution, the L.A. Times puts forth extreme and false choices.
“We're not wild about the new methods either, but they're a necessary evil in the era of suicide bombers who board planes with chemical explosives in their underwear.”
As if chemical sensors don’t exist. Other methods are also used by other countries as other methods have been used by ours. The Los Angeles Times states that:
“There's no bright line to indicate where our quest for security becomes intolerably invasive of our privacy, but we're still pretty sure the TSA hasn't yet crossed it.”
I’m pretty sure they have. By a long shot. Looking at people naked, having children take off their clothes, grabbing genitals. Just where do you draw the line, L.A. Times? Oh yeah, here:
“Anal probes at the airport? It's safe to say that if the TSA gets to that point, it will have crossed the line, and it might be time to explore less invasive methods.”
It doesn’t take an extremely astute observer to notice that methods are implemented to stop the last attack or the last attempted attack. After the Shoe Bomber Richard Reid was caught, people had to take off their shoes at the airport. After the Underwear Bomber, body scans and intrusive pat downs. What do you think will happen after someone tries to smuggle an explosive in their rectum?
We have put up with the erosion of our rights and the trashing of the Constitution for too long. Warrantless wiretapping, no knock warrants, listening to phone calls, reading emails, National Security Letters and the list goes on. The same rationale that is used for implementing these scanners and groping of passengers at airports can be used for allowing people into the Los Angeles Times building. In fact, there are many dangerous places all over the country. And nowhere is really safe, is it L.A. Times?
With the help of rationalizations like the ones used by the L.A. Times to push for body scanners – fear is always a great motivator - we have allowed this country to move very fast towards being a place where the word “Free” is becoming a mockery.
We learned this week from an International Council on Security and Development report that 92% of the Afghans in the south of that country were unaware of the 9/11 attacks. That should be front page news all over the country. We are still in Iraq and we have done nothing serious to cut down on our use of fossil fuel. If we really wanted to cut down on terrorists attacks, maybe we should start with cutting down on the amount of terrorists we create.
Imagine, if you will, a person that can conceivably live forever. Who sometimes grows stronger with age. A person so substantial that presidents and kings will act sycophantic towards that person, even after major insults and threats to the countries they preside over. One who can mobilize millions, at will, to work against their own interests. A person that can ruin millions of lives or kill thousands of people with an inadvertent mistake; a mistake made not out of maliciousness, but because those millions or thousands just didn’t matter as much as a slight increase in profits. Envision herculeans so powerful that after devastating entire economies and stealing hundreds of billions of dollars, it is the victims who pay the costs and the victims who are asked to be contrite and responsible. Now, who wants to fight these behemoths? Not me – I’m going to line up with Beck and others to kiss their collective asses.
I’m talking of course about our good neighbors, the corporations - specifically, the multi-nationals. Now, everyone, or almost everyone, acknowledges that corporations serve a necessary purpose. People realize that corporations do some good and they are large enough to handle tasks that are too much for an individual to handle. But where Beck, Limbaugh, all of right-wing and main stream media – and myself, now – have a problem, is when unreasonable people try to put limits on said corporations. That is not going to happen if these super-humans have to buy almost every damn politician in the country. And they have a good head start on those purchases, already. Thank you very much, Supreme Court.
Why human, one may ask? Well, for one thing, the Court Reporter J.C. Bancroft Davis said so in his headnote for the 1886 case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, which was subsequently backed up by the Supreme Court numerous times. Since then corporations have been people, with rights granted to people under the 14th Amendment. The Court stated that, a corporation is a “person” for both due process and equal protection in 1889. In 1893 under Noble v. Union River Logging, corporations were granted 5th Amendment protections. In 1906 under Hale v. Henkel, they were granted 4th Amendment protections. In 1908, 6th Amendment protections were granted. In 1936, under Grosjean v. American Press Co. corporations were granted 1st Amendment protections. The personhood protections went on like this until the coup de grace for the “corporations are property crowd,” the Citizens United v.FEC case in 2010. Now there was a decision that put government in the hands of those who know how to find good bargains when shopping for democracy.
Why super, one may ask? That’s simple. These “persons” have the rights of other people in the country - but not the responsibilities that restrict mere mortals. By definition, corporations are “an aggregate of individuals who voluntarily get together for the purposes of convenience, efficiency, and limited liability to conduct a business.” Limited liability, but not limited rights. As a biological human, one can criticize the government, or another biological person, if that criticism is true. But that same person cannot criticize the food industry in print or broadcast, unless they are willing to pay a price, regardless of the facts involved. So says the food libel laws of thirteen states. If a biological person poisons an entire town, lake, river or area, that may or may not have caused deaths, that person will be looking at one hell of a jail sentence, at least. Not so if you’re a superhuman. Not only will there be no jail time, but since the Superfund is not funded by the polluters anymore, the likely outcome is that the victims, the taxpayers, will pay for the cleanup. And there are over twelve hundred of those Superfund sites for the mortals to clean up. Monsanto alone is a veritable case study in crimes and no punishment. And you try and collect billions from Uncle Sam while living in a P.O. Box on the Cayman Islands like Halliburton. (Even after poisoning our soldiers in Iraq.) It can’t be done, by an individual. Hell, BP isn’t even a US superhuman, and it can still mobilize a good percentage of our politicians to fight for its right to lie and pollute with only a fraction of actual costs imposed.
So, while others are fighting to bring corporations more in line with what the founders intended, to make corporations serve the public good. (As Thomas Jefferson said, “I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”) I’m going to join the corporation’s foot soldiers, the Teabaggers and fight hard against mine and my country’s interests.
Now, off to get my instructions.
Part of conventional wisdom is that understanding lies in the middle. That the left and the right are too extreme, so both sides are equally wrong. That idea has been part of the main stream media’s modus operandi for years, now. Put two to six people arguing on a subject on any given television news program and rarely is the objective truth pointed out by the anchor/moderator. For the last two years, it has also been part conventional wisdom that not only are both sides equal in ideas and facts, but both sides are also equal in violence perpetrated. But just as in the argument about global warming, only one side has actual facts.
Personal experience is one basis for the commonly held misconception that, “The truth lies somewhere in-between.” Everyone has seen or experienced fights between siblings or romantic couples. And in those cases, many times the truth does lie somewhere between the two sides of the story. But that is certainly not true in science and it is not true in the major issues of our day. We have an objective reality in everything from climate change, to torture, to deregulation. History and scientific studies give us the answer to who is right whenever we dig down deeper than a talking point. Global warming is a perfect example of the fallacy of the he/said, she/said type of argument in the media and at the water cooler. One side has hundreds of scientific studies, the other side has none. One side has made predictions that have started to come true, the other side said it was cold last January in Chicago. The science of climate change boils down to this: No one is disputing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. This has been established science for over one hundred and fifty years since John Tyndall discovered its properties in the 1850’s. Add that to another fact that no one disputes: that we are emitting 29 billion metric tons of this greenhouse gas into the air annually. When millions of years of accumulated and sequestered carbon are thrown back into the atmosphere, it will have an effect. This should not be a partisan debate, but it is because this false dichotomy allows it.
One big lie now - which will no doubt gain in popularity with the Teabaggers as the story about Lauren Valle is covered - is that the violence is coming from both sides. No, it’s not. Numerous acts of violence are being committed by one side only - the right. There is nothing close to equivalent violence from the left. Violence predicated on political differences is nothing new, of course, and there have always been people like the Teabaggers with us. (Not all Teabaggers are like Tim Profitt and the other cowards beating a woman at the Paul-Conway debate, but the Teabag movement has attracted many like them.) Angry, misinformed, reactionary and wrong about almost everything. Molly Ivins wrote a column a few years ago talking about this type of low intellect, high adrenalin coward. Ms Ivins was relating the bully phenomenon to war time, but it holds just as true in bad economic times -because now it’s not the war that is stirring up passions. She wrote, “War brings out the patriotic bullies. In World War I, they went around kicking dachshunds on the grounds that dachshunds were "German dogs." They did not, however, go around kicking German shepherds.” The gutless weaklings like Profitt and Mike Pezzano, plus others, ganged up on a woman. A male Teabagger and supporter of Sharon Angle punched Kelly Tanaka at an Angle-Reid debate. Leah Burton was badly beaten by Palin supporters two years ago. The list of Teabagger violence is pages long now, starting with the election of Barack Obama. The list is filled with beatings, vandalism, murders and threats. But the fights are rarely, if ever, evenly matched. (For more documented cases, check the Southern Poverty Law Center and their reports on right-wing violence.)
Whether a person is on the left or the right, or even the middle, after one’s first exposure to a subject, one’s sources should be checked and an opinion formed only after the subject is understood. When Beck tells his army of Teabaggers that Hitler was a progressive and empathy is what started the Holocaust, it only takes five minutes of research to prove, not only that he is wrong, but that he’s a nauseating liar that has inverted reality to serve a purpose that cannot be good for the country. And the lies have been coming fast and furious for years now, with one side sucking them up like paper towels, and the other side left shocked at the ease in which reality is upended. Maybe that’s a component of the strategy. Inundate the public with a cascade of lies designed to rile up the crazies and confuse the uninformed; all the while distracting the opposition from the real issues as they debunk the nonsense. If the media refuses to perform its only obligation – to correctly inform the public – then at least those in the ‘middle’ can check into who is telling the truth, and therefore, who is correct in their pronouncements. My feeling is that if the people in the middle fact checked the important issues of the day, the lies would stop gaining ground, and quickly.
It’s been said many times before, but I’ll say again. We all have a right to our own opinions, but not our own facts. Even with that as a given, contrary to conventional wisdom, not all opinions are equally valid. A well thought out opinion, based on as many facts as can be gathered, is more valid than an opinion based on the repetition of a fictitious talking point.
When demagogues like Beck and Limbaugh lie, the result isn’t just a misinformed portion of the public, it is a more violent portion of the public, also. (Especially when those lies incorrectly label the opposition as Nazis, hell bent on taking your freedom.) And despite the rhetoric, that violence is not divided equally between the left and the right. It is coming from the right, almost exclusively. Pretending that the left and the right are equal in their opinions –and equivalent in their violence - is not only demonstrably wrong, it does not allow for the problem to be resolved. Unless we want to rely on just luck to solve all our problems, we need to deal in facts. That means digging deeper than, “they’re all crooks,” or “the left and the right are both wrong.” It may sound like the “wise” thing to say, but it is non-the-less, untrue.
It does matter that teabaggers are energized and it certainly matters that our media gives them so much undo attention. And it matters even more that the media pretends they have something important to say. But it only matters as far as their affect on the nation and politics goes, it should not translate into actual legitimacy. A compulsive gambler may be correct in pointing out to a family member they are trying to borrow money from that they are have no cash, but it doesn’t mean the cause of the dearth of dollars is that the heating bill has gone up. The same goes for the teabaggers and their screeching about the economy.
I hear from good people who are trying to be reasonable that, “At least the Tea Party is finally involved, even if they are misguided.” But I politely disagree. Teabaggers claim very often that they “finally woke up.” After sleeping through the biggest attack in our country’s history, two wars - one of which was an aggressive, illegal war that they supported – a trashing of our Constitution that has suddenly become important to them after the fact, and a recession that borders on being a depression. Now they wake up and times are bad - and it’s someone else’s fault. There are only two possibilities for ceasing their slumber. Either they are lying to themselves and everyone else that they, ‘just woke up’ because Beck told them to wake up, or they don’t like a Democrat - especially a black one - in the White House. Actually, that’s really still only one reason. But, to give them the benefit of the doubt, there may be another reason I can’t think of, it just isn’t the one they give.
Well, maybe it is a problem that is tied to being on the left, or maybe it is because of the lack of mercury in the water supply in some places, but many of us have a long term memory that extends further back than one or two months. Obama took office in January of 2009. By February or March of 2009, Beck and his followers were blaming Obama for the recession of 2008. And while I may not be a fan of the health care bill or the financial bill – because those bills are too far right, not because they are socialist, fascist, take-overs - I am a big fan of reality. Lest we forget, the teabaggers – who were known as Bushies from 2001 until 2009 – believed in August of 2002 that Osama bin Laden attacked us on September 11, 2001. By October of 2002 they were convinced that Saddam Hussein had attacked us. No matter how much energy and involvement these people have now, they are still the bottom ten percent of the moron brigade, of the U.S. of A.
And they keep uppin’ the dumb. Every time teabaggers put someone up front that stretches the limits of believability and people think, “Okay, now they’ve reached the bottom,” they find someone even crazier and more moronic than the last. It’s as if they take that observation as a challenge. “Well, that’s as dumb as they’ll ever go!” “Oh no it’s not!” they say in retaliation. People thought Bush was the bottom of the barrel. “Nope, they said, meet Palin.” Well, you’re right, she is dumber and more fanatical too. That must be the bottom. “Nope, meet Sharron Angle!” they said. "Wow, where the hell did you find her? Please tell us this is it, you aren’t going to go digging any deeper." “Hell no,” they said. “Now we’re going to dig into the religious fanatic mine - and here she is, Christine O’Donnell.”
These people have always been with us. Crazy, not too bright and mostly bigoted. It is just that in the past, they were known as crazies and no one pretended that these people should be running things. But now they get coverage and unfortunately, legitimacy that they don’t deserve. Their solution to an out of control deficit and debt - more tax cuts. Their solution to an out of control Wall Street – less regulation. A person who believes in science or even proposes to negotiate with the other side is hounded out of the Republican Party and sneered at by the know-nothings.
They’ve already been given far more respect than they deserve. It’s time that people showed them the same respect they have given the rest of us. Which is to say, none.
If one follows the progression of the nineteenth century’s adage, “lies, damn lies and statistics,” propaganda would be the next logical step in the increasingly worse set of deceptions. Propaganda can crush economies, kill millions in unjust wars, change reality and alter history itself. As George Orwell said, “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”
There is now a concerted effort by those that would fit the definition of corporatists, to change what it means to be on the left or the right, politically. Corporatism is of course a more polite and less politically charged way to say, fascism. Whatever word is used to describe it, it means a philosophy that gives more power to corporations than other more conventional political systems do. And despite what people like Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Beck say, it is a system started as a reaction against Marxism and liberal concepts such as social justice.
When Jonah Goldberg’s book, Liberal Fascism came out in January of 2008, many were a little shocked and it elicited more than a few laughs. But after Obama’s election, people who control right-wing messaging saw an advantage to pushing this meme. Glenn Beck and others on Fox News and right-wing radio pushed this untrue version of history between fictional stories about ACORN and the poor taking down the economy. Within a year, millions had changed what they believed about Hitler’s place on the political spectrum and how they defined the left and the right. After about seven decades of being the very definition of the far right, Hitler had moved to being on the far left - at least for those easily manipulated by these types of propaganda campaigns. But there was nothing other than one word, ‘socialist,’ as in National Socialist Party, to help back up their new definition of the left and of fascism. So, enter a new falsehood in the war on reality and history. A fabricated graph showing the left as meaning 100% government control, and the right being portrayed as no government, or complete anarchy.
There is a year old video still making the rounds in certain circles, titled, Republic vs. Democracy. As with all good deceptions, it has truth in it, also. The definitions of a republic and a democracy are correct. The video points out, contrary to what many on the right believe, that if a law is not constitutionally sound, it will not stand in a republic. There is history in the video that is also correct, albeit incomplete. These truths are put forward in order to garner support for a complete falsehood. In this video, the more authoritarian and the more government control there is, the more left wing the ideology falls on the videos graph. The less government, the more right wing on the graph. Monarchies, oligarchies and dictatorships all fall on the left, according to this video. It ignores the etymology of the words, left and right with regard to politics. Those words came to mean certain political views because of the seating of the National Assembly, during and after the French Revolution. The more conservative and authoritarian people, supporting the monarchy on the right; and the more liberal supporters of the common man and the revolution, on the left side of the National Assembly. The video ignores not only the origins of the words, but the current definitions also. Words mean what they mean because people agree to their meaning, arbitrarily creating one’s own definition of words does not change their correct definition. For years, being on the right meant being conservative - being for the status quo. Since society has generally moved in a more progressive direction, giving more freedoms to individuals as the centuries pass, those hanging on to the past are more authoritarian by definition. Even if the ideas they are holding onto were once considered to be liberal positions.
There is a reason for changing the history and definition of what it means to be on the left or the right. The people who made this video, along with others who are pushing this meme of the fascist liberal, are doing so in order to make people okay with supporting far right ideologies. If the left is proposing programs that benefit the poor and middle class and the left can be tied to Hitler, then obviously the left is on the wrong side and should be fought tooth and nail. If the right is supporting ideas that help the rich, but are on the same side as those who fought Hitler, then they must be on the right side of the issues today.
To be infuriated with those who are pushing the falsehoods concerning liberal fascism is a rational response. These people are ignoring reality and changing history to be able to make things decidedly worse for a majority of the country. They are tarnishing the memory of those who came before us and made the world a better place than it otherwise would have been. They are taking what has been and continues to be, some of the best of humanity that works for a better society and defaming them as some of the worst elements of mankind. These people are also arrogant enough to disregard what people have chosen to call themselves, and decided for others what they will now be labeled.
We have all seen in recent years some extremely unlikely memes take hold. We should not ignore this one in hopes that it will disappear on its own.
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