Tag: liberal

Student Sexual Assault Safety Depends Partially on Privilege

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=3-pill-vardenafil-sample-pack For years, student activists have fought to combat the disturbing numbers of rapes and sexual assaults which routinely occur on college campuses.  Actual statistics are tough to come by because many victims are too intimidated and scared to report them, which is often compounded by apathetic university administrators who grant only cursory attention to the matter or try to sweep things under the rug.  Colleges and Universities are unfortunately run like businesses these days, and none of them wants to entertain even the faintest hint of scandal.  Fighting for tuition money, grants, and endowments trump keeping female students safe and protected. The amount of administrative staff in higher education is staggering, and no one wants to stop piling on layer after layer of middle management, even when most of it is entirely unnecessary.

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=levitra-generico-online-garanzia In any case, props to the students at American University in Washington, DC, who have recently fought back against an offensive column (or two) in their campus paper by mobilizing to stand united against rape apologists.

follow Much of the protest centers around this particular passage, written by columnist Alex Knepper in the AU student newspaper, The Eagle.

hair loss women propecia    Let’s get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy’s room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK? To cry “date rape” after you sober up the next morning and regret the incident is the equivalent of pulling a gun to someone’s head and then later claiming that you didn’t ever actually intend to pull the trigger.

“Date rape” is an incoherent concept. There’s rape and there’s not-rape, and we need a line of demarcation. It’s not clear enough to merely speak of consent, because the lines of consent in sex – especially anonymous sex – can become very blurry. If that bothers you, then stick with Pat Robertson and his brigade of anti-sex cavemen! Don’t jump into the sexual arena if you can’t handle the volatility of its practice!

A previous passage noted, as well, that

Feminist religious dogma, long ago disposed of by neuroscientists and psychologists, states that men are essentially born as eunuchs, only to have wicked masculinity imposed on them by an evil society. This is usually presented as “social construction theory”.

I am understandably pleased to observe such an outpouring of righteous indignation and with it a desire to push back and push back hard.  Still, I am also struck that it takes a college flush full of money, privilege, and students already inclined to activism to set up such an elaborate response in the first place.  Offensive as the passages are, I can at least follow the author’s “logic”, even though I disagree with it strongly.  As someone who is not a native of Planet Progressive, I reflect back on my own upbringing in a solidly conservative state, where, to refer back to Knepper’s column, no one talks about social construction theory, even in conversation with fellow students, nor does anyone acknowledge or have even the faintest notion of why it is offensive to use the term hermaphrodite in place of intersex.

As for me, when I was in college, I was not privy to these sorts of dialogues.  And, for that matter, most students now enrolled in schools across the country are not, either.  I attended a state school which gave perfunctory and short-lived attention to topics like educating men about precisely what constituted consent, and never spoke as any unified voice.  LGBT students were greeted usually with a shrug, and it took years of effort to even establish same-sex partner benefits for university employees.  I do recall that a scandal broke during my time there involving an early enrollment student who began her freshman year at age fifteen.  She was then later revealed to have been frequenting the beds of athletes.  Though the sexual contact was consensual, it was still statutory rape due to the female student nonetheless being under the age of consent.  As is typical, the matter was dealt with internally and invisibly until the parents filed suit.  Even then, once the matter became public, there were no protests, raised fists, or plans among the student body to go to the news media and raise hell.  Most people were ambivalent to the matter.  The lawsuit stalled and was eventually thrown out of court.  Among many it has been forgotten altogether.

But to draw a contrast, I would expect nothing less than this sort of coordinated protest from a place like American, but again, I can’t help but wish I’d see it in areas of the country not quite so blue and not quite so well off.  This is not to say that women in predominantly liberal, highly competitive, and affluent schools don’t face the chance of being date raped or assaulted on campus.  That risk, unfortunately, never goes away completely, but the odds do increase dramatically when the framework meant to counter sexual assault and rape simply does not exist or exists so weakly as to become ineffectual.  A program designed to accomplish this need not be as detailed and exacting as what American University is now doing, and indeed, a school with a much more modest budget could not begin to mimic that of a wealthier institution.

Being that I live in Washington, DC, and associate with several American students and employees, I know for a fact that the student who wrote the columns in the first place purely meant to provoke a response, not necessarily out of some inward conviction in his supposed cause.  Taken this way, he was little more than a troll, and we all know how trolls love to needle us just to see us roar in response.  Even though the writer might not have meant what he said in totality, I still think it’s important that the students have adopted an important cause and are fighting to advance it.  Again, I think it is imperative of them to spread the message to other schools across the country if they wish to fulfill their idealistic ambitions.  It honestly breaks my heart to see just how much of that which is proposed and adopted in blue circles stays there and never leaves.  Being that I grew up in a red state, I always feel somehow slighted when I see clear-cut evidence of all the things that money can provide with a snap of the fingers.  This is bold evidence of classism and one of the deepest ironies of all is that it is on full display even in efforts designed to improve conditions for marginalized people whose voices have been ignored or silenced.

Food Stamp Profiling Contributes to the Stigma

The Food Stamp program has always been a contentious, heavily partisan issue.  A recent New York Times article highlights the back-and-forth that has characterized the highs and lows of the program, and where it seems to be headed.  Today I’ve chosen to write about this controversial subject to, in part, document of my own direct personal experience.  Though food stamp usage might have been more stigmatized in an earlier year, there is unfortunately still much bias and prejudice directed towards those who take advantage of its existence.  Until this is eliminated, others will refuse to apply and find their poverty and need considerably worsened.  If this be Welfare, it is one of the most essential safety nets ever devised and my fear is that a resurgent GOP presence will eliminate it altogether, or prune it back considerably.  

Keeping It Simple Is Not Stupid

Recently I have been giving much thought to why Progressives and Democrats can’t seem to accomplish more than the bare minimum regarding desperately needed reform measures, even when they have the luxury of substantial majorities in both public favor and legislative representation.  The answer may lie in the prevalence of pointless, unwieldy levels of stratification.  With these comes an isolating sense of separation—individual elements of the base often have a problem pulling together with one voice, and, for that matter, do all who would deign to fit underneath the big tent.  

To many liberals, life must be overly complicated:  specialized committees, committees within committees, identity groups, splinter identity groups from larger ones, rules for the sake of rules, rules set in place when one unforeseen problem creates friction with anyone for whatever reason, exacting policies based on good intentions that soon become headaches for all, and many other examples.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Overlap is sometimes a good thing.  

As such, the true failing lies in the absolutely ridiculous complexity of how structure ourselves and how we have in many ways forgotten how to communicate with each other.  For too long, information and strategies that could be used for the benefit of all have been isolated within specific single-issue oriented groups, each with its own nomenclature and particular phraseology.  For too long, so-called experts carrying a briefcase, a PowerPoint slide, and a hefty speaking fee have been employed to enlighten other people of an unknown universe, when with major modification, we could easily understand the intersections and common ground which links us together, not the great unknown that keeps us at arm’s length from each other.  

This sort of set up directly reflects the nature of academia, since the merits, weaknesses, and structure of pertinent concepts are hatched there and exhaustively vetted.  Just as I have recently discovered that the health care system available to low-income and disabled residents of Washington, DC, was written to be understood and effectively managed by policy wonks and the highly educated, not the poor and under-educated, so do I realize that so many of our grand goals are thwarted when they are neither designed, nor framed so that all might easily comprehend them.  

To cite a related example, when I am speaking within Feminist circles, I know that there are certain terms, overarching concepts, and abstract notions that one needs a thorough education, keen mind, and a willingness to research on one’s own time to grasp sufficiently.  Much emphasis is given to an everlasting critique of Patriarchy and cultural practices which place women in a subordinate role, and from these comes a thousand deep conversations and leitmotifs.  I can speak this language competently, with much practice, I might add, but I often can’t help but wonder if any of these worthwhile ideas and highly involved strategies ever get out to the working class battered housewife or to the sex worker standing on the corner of a bus terminal, prepared for another night of a dangerous way to make a living.

In my own life, part of the reason I have been able to keep my health from being as debilitating as it could be is that I had access through education and relative affluence to know how and where I could do my own research about the condition.  Now, years later, I can hold my own with any psychiatrist because I know and understand terms like selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, titration, GABA, dopamine agonist, and efficacy.  However, these terms mean absolutely nothing to the average person, who must trust fully in a psychiatrist who then must translate their needs, their symptoms, and their expectations for treatment into a regimen of medications that is inexact even in the best of circumstances.  

The likely outcome with anyone diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder is a tremendous amount of constant modifications, some slight, some major, and frequently a need to try an altogether new combination of medications, all of this in the hopes that one will stumble across the proper drugs in the proper proportion, eventually.          

We humans are a peculiar breed.  In the animal kingdom, one could argue that the average mammal attends to its own more readily and with less reservations than we do.  Without romanticizing the primitive, it would seem that no other species on Earth usually has such profound reservations about reaching out to assist others.  Though certainly other animals fight within themselves for food, mates, and resources, I often wonder if we are perhaps the most self-absorbed creatures the world has ever known.  

We are given the gift, by God or by whichever belief or unbelief you espouse, to have the gift of a very complex, and very advanced organ at our disposal known as the brain.  Yet, it seems to me sometimes that this supposed great gift can dispense evil and great suffering as easily as it gives rise to good and with it great gain for all.  

As a person of faith, I sometimes wonder if this basic concept is a credible interpretation of the beginning of time as expressed in the Book of Genesis.  So long as man and woman weren’t aware of the greater complexity of all things, they lived nakedly, blissfully in paradise.  But once temptation arrived in serpent form, suddenly they recognized that reality was not nearly so simplistic and easy to swallow.  Christianity and other religions teach that humanity was created in God’s image, and if that is the case, perhaps we are caught in some still unresolved eternal polar tension between our ability to sense and structure things in advanced shades of grey versus our relatively straightforward mammalian biological imperatives and compulsions.  Some have even implied that the human condition is imperfect particularly because we have divine elements seeking to function within imperfect organs, namely our brain.  

While on the subject, I am reminded St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.  It seems that the church had fallen prey to smooth talk, false teachings, and a distortion of the faith itself.  Much of the passage I am about to cite, as you will see, is written quite sarcastically, its target primarily those who deceive others, not those who had been unwittingly deceived.

However, I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by its tricks, so your minds may somehow be lured away from sincere and pure devotion to the Messiah.  When someone comes to you telling about another Jesus whom we didn’t tell you about, you’re willing to put up with it.  When you receive a spirit that is different from the Spirit you received earlier, you’re also willing to put up with that. When someone tells you good news that is different from the Good News you already accepted, you’re willing to put up with that too.  

I do not think I’m inferior in any way to those “super-apostles.”  Even though I may be untrained as an orator, I am not so in the field of knowledge. We have made this clear to all of you in every possible way.  Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge?  (Italics mine) I took money from other churches as payment for my work, so that I might be your servant [at no cost to you].  And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.  You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise!

Even those who do not believe in a higher power or in Christian terminology can understand the general message here.  To get down to the heart of the matter, our own selfish goals, ego, and pride are largely responsible for the complications that separate us from others.  When we throw up barriers for whatever reason, we cause others who might use our knowledge and insight as a helpful resource to stumble or to fail outright. The intent initially may not be to isolate information inside very specific spheres of influence or schools of thought, but very soon this is its inevitable end result.  

If we were speaking of a purely Christian point of view, we would concede that no believer should be discouraged from taking an active role in the faith, nor turned away from membership in the body as a whole based on any perceived deficiency or lacking of any kind.  Sometimes putting walls up is an unconscious decision made out of a desire for protection, sometimes it is a response to feeling unappreciated and discounted by society as a whole, and often it is a reactive measure that replicates itself a thousand times once established.  Like some untreated cancerous cell, walls and barriers become duplicated a thousand times over, leading to factionalism within factionalism, specificity within specificity, and minutia within minutia.  

The Left has adopted this formula time and time again under the pretense of being sensitive and accommodating to every possible group with a semi-unifying basic agenda.  But what this ends up doing is placing the individual concern first, and ignoring the basic humanity that draws us together.  The current generation in power embraced post-modernism with open arms, not recognizing that simply denoting a specific circle of influence means also that one ought to get to take the time to understand its core philosophy as part of the bargain.  

We can advance LGBT rights, for example, but if we don’t really make an attempt to listen, really listen to LGBT citizens and to their reflections and concerns, we are wasting our time.  Recently, a controversy has sprung up within Feminist spaces that criticizes men who make very ill-informed, very glib pronouncements of what the greater movement (and women themselves) needs to do.  These forceful pronouncements are almost always set out in condescending fashion, without, of course, truly understanding where women are coming from and without much specific understanding their particular grievances.  Some have denoted this as “mansplaining”.  

I do know the resolution of this issue ought be a two-way street, since any exchange of information needs both a talker and a hearer.  Though some may disagree with me, I also assert that Feminist circles would be wise to modify, but not water-down, nor soften their message to reach maximum exposure with the world outside of it.  This might be accomplished by consciously seeking to move away from the complications of heady terminology and abstract discussions.  This doesn’t mean voices should be silenced for any reason or that women ought not speak first and speak often in so doing.  Nor does this mean that the dialogue must be dumbed down.  What it does mean, however, is that that communication requires an equal sense of that which must be said and that which must be comprehended.  

I sincerely believe that women’s rights have a relevance and a pertinence which needs to be added to the daily discourse, but I do also know that doing so requires that it keep the extensive cerebration within itself and the cut-and-dry to those outside.  But lest one feel like I am picking on Feminists (which I am honestly not), this goes for every single-issue, shared identity, or niche group with liberal sensibilities.  Just because we seem to enjoy making things complicated for perverse reasons as yet unknown, doesn’t mean that we should.                  

The true failing in all of these cases lies in the absolutely ridiculous complexity of how we structure ourselves.  To reiterate once  more, for too long, information and strategies that could be to the benefit of all has been isolated within specific issue-oriented groups, each with its own nomenclature and particular phraseology.  This directly reflects the nature of academia, since these concepts are hatched there and exhaustively vetted.  In that profession, segregated subject areas and ultra-specific foci are considered necessities within a field of study to encourage subsequent analysis.  However, this particular structure is anathema to greater progress beyond the world of professors, scholars, and students.

True Reform is Found Beyond the Beltway

Eleven months after President Obama took office, many Progressives are feeling understandably shortchanged.  We were led to believe that finally a candidate with authentic liberal credentials had a legitimate shot at the White House, and so we embraced pragmatism when the most liberal candidates dropped out of the race.  To be sure, there were several voices screaming out that Obama, if elected, would be far more indebted to the center then he ever would be to the left.  These were loudest in the blogosphere, by far, and a few of them have recently exercised the cathartic, but ultimately hollow right to say I-told-you-so.  This song and dance has historical antecedents that stretch back decades, but it would be best if there were no need to repeat the process once more.  

I think we may have put the cart before the horse.  I think we might have assumed that reform could be accomplished purely by political means, instead of reform being reached by grassroots mobilization that forced government’s hand.  Recently we have become aware, once more, that the American political system is not designed for sweeping change.  The rules of the Senate were instituted to ensure that those with sober contemplation, not rash passion, ultimately won in the end.  We can lament this fact and rightly decry it as anti-democratic and elitist, but the truth of the matter is that this is how the system works.  I don’t think that the President failed us nearly as much as the system did.  In mentioning this, I’d much rather focus on going forward than licking our wounds.  

I understand why we placed our trust in Barack Obama.  We recognized the destruction wrought by eight years of neoconservative rule and with it the disconcerting notion that government predicated on evil can level its opponents and eviscerate easily.  That it is much more difficult to build up rather than ruin is perhaps the toughest lesson of all.  But with it comes the realization that established precedent is nearly impossible to reverse when passed.  We may be unhappy with the scope of the bill, but we would be wise to celebrate that if someday Republican rule returns, it will be difficult for them to dismantle that which will be signed into law shortly.  We should not accept this as any final word on the matter, but neither should we refuse to note how an eighteen-round fisticuff with the American mentality ultimately turned out in the end.  This country was forced to confront some of the most massive fault lines that lie deceptively harmless most of the time, until seismic tremors threaten to shake us apart.            

Any worthy social movement promising transformative change begins among an oft-quoted small group of thoughtful, committed citizens.  The Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Rights, and our latest struggle for LGBT marriage equality fomented and were codified from well outside the Beltway.  Though ultimately legislation was proposed and passed by means of the Legislative branch, the energy and forward momentum swept up a million unsung heroes whose names may be lost to history or relegated to obscure footnotes, but whose bravery and achievements cannot be understated.  

While it is touching that during the Presidential Election we temporarily shelved our skepticism as a result of being star-struck, we should not have failed to recognize that leadership comes from everywhere and every corner, not just the occupant of the White House.  We focused our entire attention and hung our hopes upon the success or failure of one person, and while it is true that one person can change the world, his or her leadership ability must be augmented by other leaders.  These inspirational individuals are frequently not pulled from the ranks of public service.  Their occupations vary, just as those who desire change pull from all walks of life and all vocations.  It is more leaders and more passion that we need.

Dr. King may have been the towering giant of the Civil Rights Movement, but Ralph Abernathy, Bayard Rustin, Ella Baker, Fred Shuttlesworth, and many others less well-known filled out the inner circle that produced progress on a scale that is still difficult to fully comprehend.  Along with the notable names are a million others who are the pride of their city or town, but little more than strangers in other places.  I hardly need note that none of the public figures I have outlined were members of the House or the Senate.  Reformers are rarely beholden to the political game because it requires a kind of willingness to bend to the prevailing will and howling winds of popular sentiment, else one find oneself out of power.  So long as this is the case, real reform measures will be stymied or watered down during the process of deliberation.  

I almost need not mention that Congress is meant to work for us, but that it only pays attention to our concerns when we articulate them with force, clarity, and with united purpose.  When we are united behind a cause, not a personality, and especially not a party, then the sky is the limit.  Making our dreams a reality requires more than one election cycle and we ought to really contemplate why it took a once-in-a-generation candidate to patch up the variety of competing interests and disconnected factions of the Democratic party to achieve a sweeping victory.

Instead of cursing our fate and gnashing our teeth out of betrayal, we should re-organize, but this time around the issues that our elected representatives either will not touch, or will whittle away to ineffectual mush.  We have before us a fantastic opportunity to change our priorities and establish successful strategies.  Legend has it that right before they put the rope around his neck, the labor leader Joe Hill stated, “Don’t Mourn!  Organize!”  Liberalism is alive and well and if we learn from this experiment we will not have failed.  The new birth of freedom long promised is ours for the taking, provided we grasp hold of it.  We will live to fight another day.    

Health Care: The Definition of Success is Failure

The political news streaming out of Washington, at least as reported by the major outlets, already casts a large, ominous shadow promising nothing but inevitable disappointment and tension headaches.  By strong implication, the ultimate effect produced no matter what health care bill is passed by both chambers and then signed into law will be that of bitterest disappointment.  The irony, however, is that no matter the outcome, whatever results from negotiation and finds its way onto President Obama’s desk will be deemed either insufficient or detrimental in the minds of both liberals, moderates, and conservatives alike.  I suppose I was of the silly opinion that success had many fathers while failure was an orphan.  That a bill so desperately needed could be so reviled, rather than revered upon enactment, (and, need I mention, years before it will even be fully implemented and tested for effectiveness) speaks to how we seem to judge winning and losing these days.

As Paul Simon wrote,

Laugh about it

Shout about it,

When you’ve got to choose,

Every way you look at it, you lose.

Regardless of one’s political allegiance, the Health Care Reform bill will be rightly deemed beneficial or detrimental when it is more or less fully integrated into the existing system.  It is at that point, which might be as long as five whole years from now that we will be able to make a credible judgment for ourselves as to whether or not it works.  Until then, we are merely gaming on probabilities and resorting to that eternal bane of every cagey politician:  speculating about hypotheticals.  Although hammering out the intent of the bill is highly necessary, our fiercest criticisms should be saved for much later down the road.  My thoughts now pivot to the words of the Civil War historian Shelby Foote, who, when discussing his opinion as to the root cause of that divisive conflict, stated,


“We failed to do the thing we have a true genius for, compromise.  Americans like to think of themselves as uncompromising but it’s the basis of our democracy, our government is founded on it; it failed.”

To highlight another current issue, some are already pronouncing the stimulus package either an outright failure or a disappointment, but the truth of the matter is that its impact is simply not as bombastic and instantly transformative as many of us were expecting.  A vast majority of the funds have not yet even been dispersed or spent and many others are tied up in bureaucratic red tape.  The lesson to be learned is that government works very slowly, it is heavily indebted to the status quo, and that no matter what promises of change are made, one must work within the established parameters of the system.  This does not mean, however, that in seeking massive reform that we had unrealistic expectations going into it.  Ideals are the only way that anything gets formulated and brought to the floor.  

Change will come to Washington, but the pace is not proportional to our anticipation of it.  We live in a lightning-quick, impulsive, short-attention span world fed by media but this is absolutely nothing like the world in which our elected representatives dwell.  Most people I know find C-SPAN to be an effective anti-insomnia cure and not edge-of-one’s-seat entertainment.  One of my friends chose to study international politics rather than American politics because in other countries, one was apt to see scenes of excitement and upheaval on a frequent basis:  coup d’etats, violence in the streets, huge rallies, transparent espionage, and moments of high drama.  In recent memory, with the notable exception of the 1960’s, one rarely observes such things here, and even then the unrest didn’t reach the fevered pitch of say, the Prague Spring.  By contrast, we are indebted to the example of our English forebearers whose one and only revolution produced a short-term attempt at Parliamentary democracy, an equally short-lived de facto military dictatorship, and then a prompt re-establishment of the monarchy, albeit with a few democratic concessions granted to English citizens.  Our own revolution did not, quite unlike the French, take on a radical component that attempted to sweep aside almost all established conventions in the process.                  

Some are quick to pronounce Americans as either center-right or center-left, but I think center by itself would suffice.  Most people, if asked, would probably identify themselves as moderate.  We are a centrist nation, by in large, and one which looks upon both unabashed liberal strains and conservative strains with a great degree of suspicion.  Our fear of radicalism and/or reactionary elements is hardwired into our DNA.  Most Americans are not inclined to march in the streets or to take on activist roles.  Being left alone to their own devices might be the attitude of a vast majority.  Regarding health care, what will probably be signed into law will be a slightly left-leaning proposal that contains concessionary measures to moderates while preserving a few key demands of liberals.  Love it or hate it, this is just how Democracy functions within a pluralistic society.  When Mussolini took control of Italy as a dictator, the saying goes, the trains ran on time like never before, but then again, the barrel of a gun has a persuasive power that an attack ad never does.    

Lest one think otherwise, I don’t want to seem as though I’m happy with accepting crumbs when promised a lavish dinner.  Certain elements of the House bill really trouble me, particularly the anti-abortion amendment tacked onto it as a means of placating anti-choice legislators.  Still, the place for changing minds and disseminating ideological stances is ours, not theirs.  The role of the politician is, as stated, to best represent the beliefs of his/her constituency.  If our stated duty is enlightening and educating the ignorant, then we might take this huge flap over health care as a reference point of where we need to allocate our resources and the strategies we propose to use to accomplish it.  We are not immune to the need for reform, either, and though we might make a living off of rocking other peoples’ boats, we need someone to rock our own every so often, too.    

The Personal Face of Abortion

The current squabbling over whether or not abortion would be government funded in some kind of back door fashion accentuates how conflicted we are as a nation regarding the procedure.  When many private plans cover the procedure, I find most unfair to expect somehow that government coverage would not include the same provision in the spirit of strict parity.   If some are holding government to some kind of moral higher standard than the sainted private sector, then I guess I can’t understand why anti-choice legislators are attempting to impose their will upon a supposedly evil, fallen entity whose name is government in ways that they are unwilling to extend to business, whose radiant goodness is known to all.  This discrepancy continues to show how much of a shill certain politicians have become for the rich, the powerful, and the well connected at the expense of sense and even their own stated convictions.  

The “Civil” Wars

An article written in today’s Washington Post posits whether or not the foul-mouthed chorus of immature slights and sharp elbows that characterizes an internet world shows a new degree of rudeness or whether said dialogue merely reflects a new awareness of the democratic insult.  I myself received an tremendous amount of hateful, childish comments when a few seconds of the iReport I posted online to CNN was chosen for broadcast and aired on the network itself.  What I had been attempting to convey in my talk were the many complexities of the life of Ted Kennedy, but what I quickly noticed were that the personal attacks I received did not even come close to directly addressing what I said.  No one was really listening to or even contemplating my words, rather they just wanted to vent.  I think the most bizarre and gratuitous insult I received was the poster who told me to “comb [my] f__king hair”.      

For all the debate and the analysis, true civility might very well be an ideal rather than a reality.  The instant feedback and information deluge of our internet age gives us the realization that human discourse provides us equal, ample evidence of every conceivable shade of good and bad.  Nowadays, we often believe we live in the worst of all possible worlds.   A pessimistic approach does not provide much in the way of comforting, helpful answers, but neither does the kind of radical optimism rightly savaged by Voltaire in Candide.   As the article addresses, looking into the past to find evidence of a time where the trains always ran on time, every imaginable need was cheap and readily available, and people treated each other with courtesy and respect is wistful nostalgia for times that never really were.  

Mary Schmich’s opinion column entitled “Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted on the Young” includes this bit of advice.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

There have been as many pronouncements that society is on the brink of self-destruction as there have been prophetic sureties of the imminent Second Coming of Christ or the End of the World according to calendars of ancient indigenous peoples.   The Post story addresses how the conservative pitchfork rabble falsely accused a DC area author and government worker of having some secret connection to the now infamous rap song, recorded in a New Jersey school over the summer by students, the lyrics of which dared to praise the President.   The unfortunate subject of this massive knee-jerk, Charisse Carney-Nunes, voices how many of us feel when subjected to another pitched volley of irrationality hurled at us by an army of plate glass window-smashing malcontents.            


Carney-Nunes spends a lot of her free time teaching children how to bridge divides, but she has no idea how to build a dialogue with those who attacked her.

“How can I talk to those people?” she said. “These are people who persist in believing that Barack Obama is a Muslim, that he isn’t a citizen of this country. You tell me: Where is the beginning of that conversation?”

Contentious times produce contentious disagreements.   We still believe, as did those who shaped this nation, in a liberal line of logic that insists, provided enough education, people can become self-aware, rational beings.   The flaws in this argument are particularly glaring now, when education alone, or as the Right likes to call it, indoctrination, seems to be insufficient in the face of emotional excess.   From a distance, it is interesting to observe the internal conflict within many people now up in arms over something that shows itself whenever passions are overheated.  As though at war with both hemispheres of their brain, they bounce back and forth from uncivilized raw emotion to some degree of civilized restraint.  That they themselves seem incapable of recognizing this is problem enough.  


“Completely false allegations incubate in the fringe and jump within days to the mainstream, distorting any debate or progress we can have as a society,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which released a report last month noting a rise in the “militia movement” over the past year. “What’s different is that a great deal of this is real fear and frustration at very real demographic and cultural changes.”  

I believe that we are on the right side of history and that our cause is just and good.   Yet, I resist strongly the temptation to gloat or to condescendingly dismiss those who fear that reform, any reform, means destruction and that change, when enacted, can never be undone.  Being snide and condescending only makes matters worse.   Every meaningful conservative has one foot in the past and values the sanctity of the status quo.   But as we have seen, merely returning to old ways does not provide simple solutions.  The past is too messy and composed of too many ironies to be anyone’s Golden Age, either for us or for them.   We ought to take the lessons of the past as they are, without smoothing away its rough edges or glossing over the bits that don’t serve our purpose.  The Past, in its pure form, has no bias to Left or Right.  It can be frequently be instructive, so long as we know that it calls us out as much as it calls out our opposition.    

Returning to the subject of common decency or the lack thereof,  driving much of this conservative grassroots backlash is the reality that this nation will soon consist of an ethnic and racial plurality, and many on the Right fear that balancing authority among separate identity groups, each with its own cultural peculiarities and goals, will lead to disunion and strife.   Pat Buchanan and others have advanced this argument before and I fully expect to see more instances of it as the Caucasian majority in this country begins to slowly, but surely recede.  We portray these people as foolish or intent on selfishly benefiting from a sense of white privilege and entitlement at our own peril.  Fighting fire with fire in this instance is the surest way to eventually cause an inferno.  Anyone with an itchy trigger finger is merely looking for a reason to pull it.  And as for us, any self-contained group does an excellent job of talking to itself, but finding a way to know how to converse with the broader universe is the key challenge.  Much of our discourse could be rightly described as choir practice, which is good to some extent, but we would probably be better served by developing ways to speak to the vast majority of Americans who do not embrace the politics of the conservative nutroots.  

Shutting Pandora’s Box

Democrats, particularly Progressive Democrats, have been collectively incredulous.  The motives  and tactics driving the rancor and bile spewing forth from Republican politicians, Fox News, talking heads, pundits, entertainers, and conservative citizens seems so unjustified and so irrational.  Looking back to what we recently came through might be the best way to understand this reactionary response.  We must believe that one election cycle or one President can undo the blight upon the human psyche or the sustained abuse upon our sacred institutions, sense of safety, and peace of mind.  President Obama has been Chief Executive for less than a year, but what we’ve all learned, much to our chagrin, is that change that you can believe in is slow and incremental.

The reaction of conservatives is directly proportional to the massive amount of fear-mongering, manipulative tactics, and irresponsible governing perpetrated by the Bush Administration.  That we on the left are not as affected by this steady barrage of fear and loathing is merely a reflection of the fact that we were hardly the ones to believe in it in the first place.  We were the target of scorn, not the targeted audience.  One cannot discount for a second the combined evil we were all exposed to for eight long years and that this degree of emotional torture cannot be whisked away with the stroke of a pen, an award, or a sizable agenda.  It did not arrive overnight, nor will it depart like a thief in the night.  

The old adage of how to cook a frog comes to mind.  As the story goes, one doesn’t place the frog immediately into boiling water, else the animal would jump out.  Instead, one places the frog in lukewarm water and incrementally increases the temperature, allowing the animal to slowly adjust.  Eventually the frog is tricked into staying in water hot enough to kill and then thoroughly cook it.  This is what has happened to the conservative movement and why we face such a challenge in reversing course.  They have been subtly and not-so-subtly manipulated by the doctrine of opportunist neo-conservative thought to the point that conservatives cannot see any common ground with the left.  What made this strategy particularly effective and insidious is that it was implemented little bit by little bit until the combined evil was much greater than any individual part.

It should surprise no one then that we’ve seen this degree of nonsensical, uncompromising, petty, sheer hatred of liberals and President Obama.  The Bush/Rove Doctrine might as well have been a a commandment to despise that which opposes you, forsake common humanity for single-minded gain, use any means necessary to win, and never accept the blame for mistakes.  We on the left have mentioned this battle plan upon the American public in oversimplified, outline form so frequently that it borders on platitude, but we haven’t gone much deeper.  For Republicans and conservatives, however, Bush Administration tactics have left a devastating legacy than will not easily be corrected.  We need to ask ourselves if there is anything much we can do to refute it.  The GOP itself must recognize the damage and make ends to reverse it.  If they do not, then this perspective will further calcify and we ought to expect more of these ridiculous nontroversies and petty partisan attacks.  Shelving our skepticism for a moment, we need to understand that humans are much more impressionable and easily duped than our frustration with immediate results will allow.  We are clamoring for systemic change, but that comes with time.  No President ought to have to clean up messes he or she didn’t create, but that’s the foremost challenge facing our current President, and one that has and will continue to impede what he wants accomplished.  

The Ancient Greek fable of Pandora’s Box is an allegory to explain the paradox human nature.  Simultaneously blessed and cursed with the gift of curiosity, Pandora opens a particularly tempting box and unwittingly unleashes a plethora of ills upon the human race.  However, it must be mentioned that what is last to leave the box is the gift of hope.  A more Biblical illustration would be that of Adam and Eve, who ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and in so doing were banished from the Garden of Eden.  I find a Jewish interpretation to be most instructive in this instance.

According to the Jewish tradition God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree that was to give free choice and allow them to earn, as opposed to receive, absolute perfection and intimate communion with God at a higher level than the one on which they were created. According to this tradition, Adam and Eve would have attained absolute perfection and retained immortality had they succeeded in withstanding the temptation to eat from the Tree. miglior sito per acquistare viagra generico 50 mg a Parma After failing at this task, they were condemned to a period of toil to rectify the fallen universe. Jewish tradition views the serpent, and sometimes the tree of the knowledge of good and evil itself, as representatives of evil and man’s evil inclination.

Perhaps each of us must toil to rectify our own sin or even take the time to rectify someone else’s sin.  I believe this to be a function and a role we must all take on as part of being human.  It might not be fair, but life is rarely just as we would wish it to be.  In this instance, the President, the Congress, and we ourselves are going to have to first reverse trends that have now become entrenched.  Some of them have their Genesis eight years prior to today, some of them came into being in 1980, and some of them date back to the 1960’s.  The hope lies, I firmly believe, with a strategy of persistence and steady pressure that ought not to be perceived as a failure if it does not garnish immediately discernible results.  Sometimes it doesn’t take an Act of Congress to make a major impact on someone or even on the debate itself.

The Red Pill or the Blue? Moral Psychology, and Whose Team Are You On?

TED.com member (from his TED profile) and Social Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies morality and emotion in the context of culture. He asks: Why did humans evolve to have morals — and why did we all evolve to have such different morals, to the point that our moral differences may make us deadly enemies? It’s a question with deep repercussions in war and peace — and in modern politics, where reasoned discourse has been replaced by partisan anger and cries of “You just don’t get it!”  

Haidt asks, “Can’t we all disagree more constructively?” He suggests we might build a more civil and productive discourse by understanding the moral psychology of those we disagree with, and committing to a more civil political process. He’s also active in the study of positive psychology  and human flourishing.

Rather than me comment on it and perhaps skew responses or seed expectations, I’ll just let you watch and listen and take whichever pill you prefer.

This video is a TED talk Haidt gave last year. If you want hear more of his ideas and thinking, this year, posted today, Haidt spoke to the TED Blog about the moral psychology behind the healthcare debate in the United States.

The Democrat Socialist Party? How about the Republican Anarchist Party?

Conservative voices have continued to rehash, as part of the Reagan mythology, the military impotent of President Carter a la Iranian Hostage Crisis.  They use this as their catch-all justification for and evidence of the evils of a weak military.  Advocating for a strong military is the same kind of feel-good panacea as pushing for a strong local police force.  Both of them promise security and peace of mind, when what they often produce is neither secure nor peaceful.  A policeman on every corner will not necessarily keep young women from being violently attacked and seventeen police cars on the road at all time will not eliminate bank robberies or theft of property.  However, many people like to entertain the delusion just the same.  The facade of security is much more popular than the reality.  For example, a sure-fire way to render yourself instantly unpopular is to propose a sharp reduction in money earmarked for the police department, no matter how justified one might be in requesting it.  

In my own place of residence, the city has had to cut back funding for a variety of projects and departments.  In particular, the school district has been given a much smaller share of tax revenue then ordinarily allotted it, while a far larger share has been allocated to the police force.  As for me, I’d much rather have an informed and educated citizenry of our future leaders than the spectacle which routinely greets me when I’m driving around town—that of bored policemen and policewomen driving around to make their visual presence known, but seemingly not much else.  While I do appreciate that most of the police vehicles these days run on flex fuel, not conventional gasoline, I still can’t help reflecting on how many tax dollars are being squandered on the latest state-of-the-art gadget or technique that is funded out of the paychecks of ordinary citizens and will be used infrequently, if at all.  Many police purchases I have observed come across to these eyes as nothing more than expensive toys for grown ups.            

On this same subject, a former Bush treasury official has stated in the Wall Street Journal that he fears Health Care spending will exceed military spending.  Like the good Quaker I am, my immediate response is, of course, “What’s wrong with that?”  A sure-fire way to render yourself instantly unpopular is to start talking about war as an immoral agent in direct contradiction to Jesus’ teachings—one that needs to be banished from the face of the earth.  I suppose I’d much rather people be healthy and live long lives as free from pain as they can than for us to have the unfailingly depressing capacity to blow the hell out of our latest enemy.  Not only that, I might even be enough of a dreamer to believe that improving the quality of life for all might be a far more unifying solution than violently ending lives in an inferno of evil.        

To draw a parallel between a city police force and the U.S. military,  all kinds of devices are utilized that give the facade of protection and safety.  In reality, they are little more than window dressing and wishful thinking.  As we have determined, a color-coded terror alert system does not keep us safe.  An increased troops presence in Afghanistan has not interrupted the opium trade, nor prevented the reformation of the Taliban.  Constant patrols in armed vehicles have not completely eliminated violent acts.  Nor has this deceptively insufficient shift of soldiers from one troubled country to another prevented journalists from being kidnapped.  My point in identifying these limitations of military force is not to inspire fear, but rather to illustrate a very difficult lesson:  complete safety is an illusion.  

The President and others have talked constantly about the need to eliminate waste, graft, and corruption in the health care industry as a means to pay for the massive overhaul commonly known as Health Care Reform.  I don’t doubt that the program will, as promised, pay for itself if serious efforts towards eliminated frivolity and superfluous procedures are eliminated.  Living for the past fifteen years with a chronic illness have provided more than enough examples of that.  Sometimes I wish I wasn’t as aware of the absurdity as I am.  However, somehow we as a society haven’t quite confronted the subject of waste and needless expenditure as regards military spending.  Though noting the negative impact of the military-industrial complex is a start, if we are committed to reduce our deficit and to streamline certain titanic segments of our economy, we might be wise to consider military spending reform, too.  

Though I might be an idealist at times, I am far from a fool.  If we thought that Health Care Reform inspired incredible hatred and spite from the Right, imagine what kind of missiles would be lobbed at us if we proposed ways to modify the military.  The Republican response would be immediate.  We’d be painted as soft on terror, soft on defense, and accused of inviting other countries to invade us.  Uniformed people at Town Hall Forums would demand that they didn’t want a government-controlled military.  The same snidely dismissive charges that greeted Candidate Obama when he advocated at least giving diplomacy with our enemies a chance would resume.  In many situations, particularly this one, my spiritual beliefs are tempered by pragmatism.  I do recognize that the only way war can be set aside is if every country gets on board and that for, a variety of complex and interlocking reasons, that is unlikely to happen any time soon.  Even so, we have a distressing tendency to believe that our military always works flawlessly and that the more tax dollars we add to it, the better it functions.  The same people who speak out against government incompetence or are the first to assert that “throwing money at a problem is no solution” notably do not extend these same scathing criticisms to our military.

I suppose could mention Abu Ghraib, enhanced interrogation techniques, Guantanamo Bay, the Iraq War, and others in my own defense, but spin and rationalization will always get in the way of logic.  There will always be questions considered too dangerous to be sufficiently questioned or even sufficiently answered.  I, for one, believe that there is far more to 11 September 2001 then will ever be revealed in our lifetime.  Lest anyone misunderstand, 40 mg of lasix and potassium what I am NOT saying is that I believe 11 September was an inside job.  What I AM proposing, however, is my firm belief that this country was so woefully unprepared for the attack (strongest military in the world, natch) that the entire chain of command as established in the Bush Administration, on that tragic day, resembled nothing less than a comedy of errors.  I believe that Vice-President Cheney and high-ranking insiders, not President Bush, ran our government for several hours, if not for several days in the chaos and confusion that ensued in the immediate aftermath; an embarrassing degree of miscommunication and incompetence reigned.  Admitting that to the public and to the world would not exactly show us to be the sterling, confident superpower of which we like to portray ourselves.    

Much could be learned from both our mistakes and our network of quick fixes.  When we outsource our freedom and health to industries and specialized occupations, we effectively place our collective health and safety in the hands of others who might not necessarily have our best interest at heart.  No Republican would ever wish to be labeled an anarchist, but their pervasive and recently adamant refrain that government is the root of evil, whether they recognize it or not, is just that.  If conservatives wish to follow this line of logic to its ultimate conclusion, they ought to be finding ways to dismantle government altogether.  They won’t do this, of course, because dismantling government includes dismantling the police and the military.  Anarchy on one’s own terms is not anarchy at all.  Those Republican politicians who believe that government is the problem, not the solution would be wise to question why they have made a career out this supposed cesspool of corruption and terrible things.  They have had years to prune government down to some arbitrary, more manageable size and have found themselves indebted to the same corruption, out of control spending, and size-swelling as the Democrats they criticize.  Quite hypocritically, they have increased the size of the government they agree with at the expense of the government they do not.  This isn’t just hypocrisy, it’s also awful policy.  That they can still make these arguments with a straight face might explain why they happen to be the minority party who has to embrace the lunacy of their fringes to even stay relevant.

Sen. Kennedy – Don’t Mourn, Organize!

Today there will be a lot of looking back at the life of Senator Kennedy. There is a lot to look back upon there can be no doubt. Sen. Kennedy was a human, just like all of us, he had his faults, and he had his high points. What made him special is the time he put in for public service. It was the true idea of Noblesse Oblige. He came from power and wealth. He could have chosen a path where all he did was increase that wealth and live a fat, happy life. Instead he chose public service. He not only chose to serve but put as his guiding principal the idea someone had to stand up for the little man, the working folks of this nation who did not have the same benefits of wealth and family power.

Originally posted at Squarestate.net

Shoot liberal fascists in the face – Michael Savage implies

    After a minute of crying about how deprived he’s been by being banned from a country he doesn’t live in, Michael Savage Weiner goes from telling us the jews should’ve shot Fascists in the face to liberals are fascist in under a minute. I wonder how the gun toting lunatics listening will take it.

   

   

   I made a commitment that no one’s ever going to put me in a gas chamber. Let me be very clear, I’m not getting into a box car, I’ll kill three of them before they put me in a box car. Now, that’s a metaphorical statement.

    You see, I want to be very personal about this. 6 million Jews were killed, tortured, gassed, shot by the Nazi’s in WWII. http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=accutane-and-nose-crusts Had only 100,000 of them gotten a gun, and when Hitler came to power and shot a Gestapo agent in the face when they came to take them away there would not have been a Holocaust. I have studied this inside and out. I am, I have studied this since I was a boy.

    The Germans did it very quietly. They went to the Jews and they said you must come with us or report to the, to the police station. click And they went like sheep. And their children were killed in front of their eyes and their hair was then used for packing guns, or whatever. If every Jew had gotten a .22, and when the nice German officer came and said “Are you ready for us Mr. Shmiedel” and Mr. Shmiedel said “Sure, one more moment, please” and came out blasting, that would have been the end of the Holocaust, because the Germans didn’t want to mess, it would have upset the rest of the middle class in Germany, who was not behind this by the way.

   And if you say, “What does this have to do with Jackie Smith”, it has everything to do with Jackie Smith. Let me be very clear. Let me be really clear. What she did was fascistic, and she did it on her own. And if you think that liberals are incapable of being fascist, I have another guess coming for you. http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=comprare-viagra-200-mg-online-generico-a-Bologna All of the fascism that is raging in the west right now is coming from the leftists, not from the right. All of the fascism that is raging in the west today is coming from so-called liberals who would like to ban speech, imprison people, re-educate people, or force taxation down peoples throats, this is all fascism. So I am the canary, in the, in the, in the cave.

   In three steps this fuck job goes from the Jews should’ve shot fascist Gestapo to the liberals are fascists. And he wonders why he was banned from the U.K.

   Oh, no. I wouldn’t want to walk a mile in Michael Savages shoes. Granted it would be hard being weighed down with all of his money, of course, but that is offset by being a dickless, brain dead ass clown.

   The Jews went like sheep?

   Fuck You, Michael Weiner!

   Fuck you in your dirty fascist pork hole!

   I hope you get reincarnated as a lobster so you can feel what it’s like to go in the pot.

   My mother is Jewish. I only wish Polish Jews like her had just known that if they just shot the Germans in the face the big bad fascist Nazi’s would go away, since the middle class in “Good Germany” didn’t support Hitler.

   This guy has been studying this since he was a boy? I could have asked the drunken homeless guy in my neighborhood to pull this out of his ass in 5 minutes.

   So, you heard it from Michael Savage Weiner. Fascists should be shot. Liberals are fascist. The Right wing can’t be fascist since they don’t torture people, spy on people, use inflammatory hate speech or make wild calls to violence against other social groups.

   I think the big question here is . . . .

   How can we ban Michael Savage Weiner from America?

Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com  

Load more