Friday, October 30, 2009

Israel, Then and Now

When it comes to the Western world, there is no more influential issue of international concern than Israel. To understand the issue, one needs to understand where Israel came from.

The greatest fallacy concerning Israel is the belief that fighting in the region is perennial. Often one hears that they’ve “been going at it for 2000 years, they’re not going to quit now.”

This is a lie perpetuated by Israeli sympathizers. Palestinians would point out they were peaceful for centuries before the British gained control after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Those of the Judeo-Christian tradition are the only people who view the region as having been in turmoil for millennia. Palestine was a stable place under Muslim rule, which allowed Jews and Christians to live and visit on pilgrimage as early as the end of the last Crusades in the 13th century.

However, as with most places, the “outsiders” were viewed, and sometimes treated, with hostility. Jews were allowed to visit the Wailing Wall, but various ordinances at times forbade loud prayer or displaying holy books. Christians were allowed to visit various sites attributed to Jesus, but they faced similar restrictions.

By the 19th century, a movement calling itself Zionism arose in Europe. Its primary goal was to re-establish a Jewish nation, ostensibly in Israel (though other locations were discussed, including Madagascar).

The reason for Zionism was that there was rising hostility towards Jews not in Palestine, but in Europe. Jews were persecuted in all sorts of ways in every corner of Europe, from England to Austria. Hitler’s rise to power was not some fluke; it was the culmination of centuries worth of scapegoating.

The area of what is today Israel is about 10,000 square miles, about 12% larger than New Jersey. Control of Palestine (as it was then known) was given to Britain in a deal approved by the League of Nations. To my knowledge, no one consulted the people there, though to be fair it was thought of as a spoil of war from WWI.

After WWII, Zionism was no longer just an issue of Jewish interest. Europe quickly rallied around the cause. It’s not hard to see why: those who sympathize with the Jews saw no problem in forming a Jewish nation in their ancestral home… because they had no idea other people were already living there and there was no plan for them. People who hated Jews thought the idea was even better, because this might mean a Jew-free Europe.

Israel was a win-win for everyone… except Palestinians. Even after the bulk of the population was moved by force to designated areas outside the new borders, Israel fought wars of expansion. Most notably in 1967, Israel annexed the Sinai Pennisula, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the much disputed West Bank and Gaza Strip.

I wish I could say it would be best to get rid of Israel. I wish I could say that the people living there should have to find a new place, like their ancestors made the Palestinians do. But the truth is, Israel is sort of like a child of rape, and you can’t have the abortion in the 183rd trimester when the person is 61 years old.

Entire generations of blameless Israelis have been born in Israel, so it’s hard to justify their removal. However, continued policies of aggression make it easier. Israel repeatedly denies any wrong-doing during their disastrous wars. Israel is cutting off water to Palestinians and “settlers” are demolishing the homes of Palestinians in order to expand Israel’s borders.

The worst part is, if you’re an American, you’re paying for this. Israel gets billions per year in aid from the US, mostly to bolster the Israeli military and nuclear arsenal (shh, don’t tell anyone they have nukes, it’s a secret!).

Personally, I’m kind of rooting for the Palestinians. Why? I have no ulterior motive in all of this. The Palestinians have every right to bombard Israel with all the rockets they please; there’s no international laws against attacking your own land. The Israelis just keep getting in the way! Besides, I think what America did to the native tribes was atrocious, and this is no different. This is a chance for us to do the right thing... or not.

In all seriousness, one of the more pathetic reasons for the formation (and upkeep) of Israel is the strange phenomenon of Christian Zionism. To understand why Christians want Jews in control of Israel, you have to know your Bible.

Christians believe Jesus will not come until the Great Temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt. While this was not a major influence during the formation of Israel, it is a major factor in America’s continued involvement.

Likewise, Jews would like nothing more than to rebuild their most sacred temple. The problem is, the site for the temple is currently occupied by al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, both very holy sites to Muslims.

America’s unwavering support of Israel is the prime reason for hostility towards America in the Middle East. America’s support for Israel is the cause which rallies terrorists against us. We were targeted on 9/11, not because terrorists “hate our freedoms,” but because America funds Israel’s continued aggression.

There’s no easy solution. Israel could be dissolved, but it would mean a tragedy on a scale even greater than their initial intrusion. Where would they go? Will a nation, where every citizen is required to perform military service, simply walk out without a fight?

Then there are the two nation or joint nation propositions. The problem with the first option is that Israel encroached the sovereignty of other nations before, they continue to, and there’s no evidence they will stop. Forming the “Nation of Palestine” will just mean that tomorrow, Israel and Palestine will be formally at war as Israel continues expanding.

The joint nation option is the most intriguing to me. I think Palestinians and Israelis could live side by side peacefully, under one stipulation: they all become atheists. Yep, that would just about solve everything. Who knew it was so simple?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Gospel of Ginx

In the thirty-third of the Master’s life, during the third month of the third year of His ministry, the Master determined that His mission was a failure. The Apostles squabbled amongst themselves for His favor. His followers were prepared to do anything for Him, even things He told them they should not do. He was reinforcing everything He needed to destroy. He decided it had come time for Him to martyr Himself and reveal to His followers the truth: that He was not God’s son.

He made arrangements with Judas Iscariot to have Himself handed over for execution. The Master and His disciples would celebrate the Passover meal, and the following morning Judas would turn Him over to Roman soldiers. Judas was pulled aside from the other disciples and informed of the planned self-sacrifice.

Judas asked the Master: “How can I betray you, whom I love above all else?”

He replied: “Do it like you should do all things; with love,”

Judas asked: “How can I erase the Word that has become flesh?”

He replied: “I am indeed the Word, and the word I was to bring was ‘destruction.’ My teachings were to cause the walls of heaven to tumble. Instead, they will be bolstered, making them nigh impenetrable to mankind.”

After the Passover meal, Judas informed the Pharisees of His whereabouts. The Pharisees of Galilee, shouting for His death, exerted great political clout among the Romans. Rome had a proxy government in the area, set up mostly for tax-collection purposes.

The Pharisees paid Judas in silver. Judas took the thirty pieces with the intent of helping others with it. The only thing left for Judas would be to directly point Him out to the Roman sentries who would be dispatched in the morning to apprehend Him. Judas decided he would not point a finger at the Master. He would say good-bye with love. He kissed the Master on the cheek that morning.

The Master was crucified in a manner typical of an enemy of the state or blasphemer. As He hung nude on the cross, He cried out “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani. (My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?)”

He lamented not the pain in His body, but His failure to reach and help mankind. He was stabbed by a sentry in his side with a spear, but His legs were not broken. This caused Him to suffer, alive, for hours, as He could support His weight by standing. He muttered: “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.” He hoped His death would not be too late.

As the sun was setting on that Friday, Joseph of Arimethia arranged the removal of the Master from the cross. A sympathizer of the Master who had Roman connections, Joseph confronted Pontius Pilate with the claim that He was dead (though He was clearly not) and should be taken down before the Sabbath was to begin at sunset on Friday. Pilot, having felt pity for this victim of religious injustice, allowed His body to be taken down without proof of death.

The Master’s recovery took three days. He was nursed to health in a large tomb. Upon being able to move about on His own three days later, the Master sent His benefactors away and sought His Apostles.

Upon exitting the tomb, He spied Mary Magdelan approaching. He had not seen her during His recovery and did not want her to see Him in His current, broken state. Her shrieks at discovering an empty tomb forced Him to confront her. He did not explain what had happened, nor did He claim to have died and risen. She did not ask, she only embraced Him with a vigor He found painful. She led Him to where the Apostles were hiding.

He confronted the Apostles, who were all gathered in a small room, save for Judas and Thomas(who was out running errands).

Judas had been summoned to meet John and Peter the day after the execution. They led him to a small field where they said the Master was waiting, alive. There, they hung and flayed him. The Apostles told the Master Judas killed himself.

In the coming days, He would later appear to Thomas, as well as others. Many of Judas’ converts beheld His presence. The things He began preaching frightened the Apostles.

He said to His disciples: “Truly, I say unto you, the gravest mistake has occurred in my time on earth. None have listened to what I have said. You hear only the words you are listening for.”

Peter told the Master: “Now, more than ever, we must proclaim your wisdom.”

The Master said: “You believe me to be brave and that I am alive by miracle. Instead, I am alive by a bribe, making me a coward. Who do you say I am?”

All His followers, in turn, replied that they believed He was the Son of God.

He said: “Do not think that my coming will bring peace. No, my coming will bring not the olive branch, but the sword. My presence will turn a son against his father and a daughter against her mother. A man’s enemies will be those in his own family.”

Shortly after this final meeting of the Master with His Apostles, they poisoned Him in His sleep. They vowed to claim they witnessed His bodily form ascend to heaven. His remains were burnt in the desert. They dispersed thoughout Rome, the Middle East and northern Africa to spread their teachings, in His name.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

There Is No Nation of You

Independence is a largely overrated and even more commonly misunderstood concept. In America especially, we have an image of independence being synonymous with freedom and liberty. Indeed, becoming independent from tyranny did bring liberty. It is from this attitude, the founding spirit of America, that individuality has taken on cult status.

I support a modicum of individuality, but I think our culture takes it too far at times. It is almost as though we believe every person is a nation unto themselves, an entity apart from the whole which deserves sovereignty.

This is quite a romantic view. I agree it holds appeal, and it may hold even more appeal to those of us who see the corrupting nature of society. Government, religion, or even the very family structure itself can be seen as systems of coercion held together by nothing more than a threat of violence.

However, this is not an accurate assessment. Individual liberty is not a right; liberty is a gift. Liberty is not inherent within the natural order; liberty must be painstakingly built. None of what we have is possible through self interest alone.

We are not islands apart from each other. We are all connected. I hear you talking in the booth next to me about how you don’t want to pay for public schools because either you send your kids to private school or you don’t have kids… yet. Then, without even stopping to breathe, I’m sure you’ll launch into a tirade about how stupid service person are. Yeah, cut education… that will help.

Society operates and prospers because we cooperate, not because some jackasses think life is a competition to see who can accumulate the most stuff before they die.

I sometimes wonder how many Libertarians are parents. I am not a parent, but because I possess the emotion of empathy, I am also not a Libertarian. However, it is my understanding that something changes in people when they become a parent. The desire to support and nurture someone else supplants the drive for self-preservation.

This drive to help the weak, rather than prey on them, is the foundation of society. The more I read about Libertarianism and conservative economics, the more I see that it is anti-social garbage spewed by selfish bastards trying desperately to not only defend their intolerable misanthropy, but even to glorify it as a vaunted ideal.

People are not numbers. We cannot be computed. The tragic effects of conservative economics, the “self-corrections,” are not statistics. Millions are homeless and will be turning to crime as desperation mounts. There are real life consequences to the ridiculous nonsense not only spewed by these half-wit hoodwinks, but in the actions taken by those foregoing our future for short-term profit.

No one is born independent. When we enter this world, we are dependent. We rely upon the kindness and patience of others. We owe an incalculable debt to not only our family, but to society. Yet, society asks for very little in return… which is why it’s a pretty sweet deal.

Not many people are setting out into the wilderness to leave society behind. Nature is a cruel place. Nature doesn’t share. Nature shows no mercy. Society provides the comforts of living because people working together achieve more than people working alone, or even against each other.

Competition is another romantic idea; the notion that the best will come out on top. Of course, “best” is rarely qualified with any kind of definition. Perhaps by “best” they mean “best for profits,” because it’s certainly not “best for consumers.”

Last time I checked, plenty of financially successful companies are far from being the “best” in their industry: McDonald’s, Subway (yeah I said it, your sandwiches suck), Windows, Nike, Playboy, Starbucks.

Companies compete and some fail, but people do not dissolve into nothingness upon failure the way a company does. Society is not the marketplace for humanity. People cannot be made to sink or swim on their own ability like companies; it is the duty of swimmers to save those who are sinking, or risk getting dragged down with them.

BONUS: Song that inspired the post's title.

For some odd reason, comments may only be viewed for this piece if you click the post title.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Somalia: Libertarian Paradise

Somalia is the anarchy experiment. It has been in a loose state of Civil War since 1993. There is no government, there is no regulation. There are more guns per person in Somalia than in the US. If one aims for anarchy or believes we would be safer with more guns, look to Somalia.

The first thing I notice, because I always notice these things, is that religion is big in Somalia. I’m not talking about people ringing your doorbell at 10am on a Saturday to share their love of Jesus Christ, either. Religious extremism thrives in Somalia.

Something anarchists forget, especially anarcho-atheists, is that religion is almost indistinguishable from government. Religion is borderless nationhood. It is a tie that binds, it is a support during peril. Anarchy is a perilous time, and religion takes great pains to exploit this.
Islamic groups have gun give-aways and publicity executions. They even hand out anti-tank mines. If you support governmental anarchy, you are helping the cause of religious extremism.

The Libertarian system did indeed create a population that didn’t need domestic aid -- which is good, because they can’t afford any. Half of the population (3 million) relies on foreign aid hand outs, so those people don’t have to rely upon religious fanatics. There is no great increase in self-sufficiency under this system. Those who have anything must waste time fighting to keep it, and those with nothing stand more to gain by getting a gun and taking what they want.

There are thousands of organized Somali pirates. These aren’t your wise-cracking Disney pirates, nor are they teenage computer users downloading poor-quality mp3's. These are the hostage taking kind, the ones who make the news when no one famous does anything to distract us.

One thing Somalia is lacking? A free market. Sure, you can find gun bazaars all over the place, but what they really need are... let’s say “venture capitalists.”

So what are you waiting for? No taxes, no regulations, and everyone has a gun, so it must be the safest place on Earth!

(Don’t bother packing for more than three days, you probably won’t last that long.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Conditions are Right

The Right thrives on failure. When people are unemployed, they’re more likely to hate immigrants. When people are poor, they’re more likely to be religious. When people are uneducated, they’re more likely to be Republican.

Republicans have a vested interest in running America into the shitter. By deregulating markets and allowing wealth to pile up in the hands of a few, they grow their ranks. Economic hardship is the fertilizer for Right Wing ideology. The Right Wing wants America to be shit, because that’s the only thing in which they grow.

The Right Wing can convince itself anything is true. When they’re in the minority, everything of the nebulous “establishment” is on the left and wrong. Vaccines are being questioned as a leftist conspiracy. Frankly, I hope no Republican ever gets another vaccination. Enjoy your measles.

The Right Wing wants Social Darwinism (which is ironic from a group of evolution deniers). They want everyone to sink or swim on their own power. The base believes hard work will be enough to let them rise to wealth, while the true holders of clout sleep in gated communities, locked safely away from the ensuing chaos.

The times we live in are the conditions under which right-leaning politicians often rise. I am eternally thankful that Obama is president, because he is clearly too spineless to ever become a despot. Even though the conditions are perfect for a Hitler-esque leader to rise to power in America, none showed up.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Private Internet?

John McCain, who despite his verbal tic is no friend of mine or any American, introduced an odd bill. Like all Republicans, he dressed it up in Republican language: the Internet Freedom Act.

What does the Internet Freedom Act mean? Does it allow us to freely use the internet? Does it mean the internet won’t be censored? Does it mean Americans will start getting free broadband internet access? Of course not! It allows companies the freedom to treat us horribly, the true meaning of Right Wing freedom!

Do you use AT&T’s cable internet service? Well they don’t want you using VoIP to make telephone calls over the internet, so they tried to block people’s access to the service to increase their phone business revenues, but a pesky law about “net neutrality” prevents it.

Do you use Comcast and peer-to-peer file sharing? Well, the only reason you can is because net neutrality legislation prevents Comcast from shutting down the bandwidth of those who use such downloading services. Comcast wants to fight piracy on the internet because they are owned by Time Warner, a massive media conglomerate with everything to gain from shutting you out from free media.

John McCain barely knows how to use the computer. Why is this guy even allowed to talk about the internet on the Senate floor?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Meet the BNP

I have long felt that the Republican Party could never possibly exist outside the US. America has a very unique political climate because of the method of immigration that occurred: we got all of Europe’s nutballs, religious and otherwise. Once they got here, they wasted no time setting up shop and consolidating their power.

Because of this unique scenario, America has the least progressive government in the industrial world. Americans like to pretend Europe intolerantly expelled them, and that Americans came here for “religious freedom.” In reality, the fringe groups who settled in America just wanted more power than the reasonable people of their homelands would allow.

So, the “Pilgrims” came to America to burn witches. Once that was taken care of, they got sick of paying taxes. They started their own country, where taxes would be low and land was as cheap as the cost of the bullets required to drive the Indians off.

The British National Party is a small political party whose primary issue seems to be opposition not only to immigration, but also to the continued stay of those who are not “indigenous.” The party will literally only admit whites.

The BNP got some press recently, not because they have any clout, but because their leader, Nick Griffin, appeared on a BBC program’s panel discussion. Despite having a miniscule representation, the party’s presence on the show created quite a stir.

My question is: would a political party like this get so much bad press in America? I don’t think it would, and in fact it has so far thrived. Try looking at the BNP’s mission statement and finding one thing Republicans could object to… I found it impossible.

Is the BNP nothing but an attempt to harness the attitudes of the very same kinds of people who support the GOP in America? Are there not enough stupid people in Britain to allow the BNP to gain more than 1% of the population?

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Black Lab

I don’t know what motivates people. I can’t imagine it’s a simple matter of “self interest,” as Utilitarians believe. Sometimes, I think we just do what we feel moved to do.

While driving back from the dog park with Barkley, I saw a black dog wandering on the sidewalk without anyone nearby. I pulled over and walked up to him. He was shy at first, but soon he sat down and started leaning into my petting.

It was a large, black Labrador. He didn’t have a collar. The fur was worn off his knees. He smelled awful. The dog got up and began to wander, crossing the street. He was skinny, and walked like he was drunk, swaying a bit as he went.

My car was parked haphazardly, so I moved it to a more permanent spot and got Barkley’s leash. The dog walked into the courtyard of a Catholic grade school. Some nuns watched as I approached the dog.

“Is this your dog,” I felt obliged to call out, knowing the answer before they even shook their heads.

I rigged the leash into a loose collar to lead him back to my car. I lifted him up into the trunk of my hatchback, and we drove home with Barkley trying desperately to get some good sniffs in on the dog through the back seat.

My wife had just told me the day before that someone in the area had lost a black Lab, so I was excited to be reuniting this dog with its owner. When I got home, my wife informed me the missing dog was a recently neutered female, not the intact male I had found.

So, we called up the local SPCA, got the location of a drop-off center, and brought him in. While my wife was organizing this, I tried to feed him, and when he wouldn’t eat, I took him on a walk around outside in order to minimize the stress on our dog and three cats (not to mention lower the risk of transmitting anything the stray may have gotten).

We brought the dog to the drop-off, signed some papers, and out the door we went. On the way home, my wife and I talked about how long the dog may have been on the street. It must have either been neglected by its owner for a while then dumped, or it was dumped a long time ago. The dog was too skinny and beat up to have been recently abandoned.

Which got me thinking: how many people passed by that dog without doing anything? My wife made the comment that the nuns should have done something. Maybe…

But what motivated me to stop? I guess initially I felt it was the dog that my wife had mentioned. Maybe if I hadn’t heard about that dog, then saw a dog that matched the description, I would have just driven by. I can’t remember ever seeing a stray dog before, so I don’t know what I would have done in another situation. Perhaps I would have ignored it and forgotten about it completely because I was in such a hurry.

It makes me glad I have so much time on my hands. I have the luxury of being able to do good things I would have hoped most people were doing. I have a car that allowed me to drive this animal thirty minutes away to safety.

What if there’s not enough good in the world because people simply don’t have the time or means? I don’t think bringing a dog to a shelter should qualify as a good deed; it should be expected.

As for the dog, I have high hopes. He’s so gentle and friendly. I know he’ll be adopted as long as his health holds out. He’s even leash trained better than my own dog. I look forward to checking up on him in the next week or so and seeing how he’s doing.

Maybe I did gain something from doing this: a feeling of satisfaction. Did I do it out of self-interest after all? Only in the sense that it’s in my self-interest to live in a place where people do good things, and the only contribution towards that goal which I can make is to do good… but I certainly don’t expect the dog to return the favor.

If my dog was lost, I would hope someone would take the trouble to get him. I love him very much, and maybe what motivated me to rescue the black Lab was knowing that if it was my dog, I would have run into highway traffic to save him. I’m sure whoever adopts him will be glad I did what I did, even though they will probably never know what happened.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Initial Studies on Mises

I’ve been reading two works by Ludwig von Mises over the past few weeks, on the “recommendation” of more than one Libertarian (usually in the context: “Read Mises you fucking retard!”).

Excluding my rudimentary high school and college Economics textbooks, I’ve never read a book on economics.

However, I have read a couple works by Marx. I don’t consider Marx to be an economist; he was a sociologist. His doctoral dissertation was on “The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature.” Marx understood group behavior and human nature through his extensive studies of history, especially pertaining to religion. My own interests tend to coincide with his.

Mises, on the other hand, is an economist. I don’t know a decent definition of “economy” that applies to all its applications. However, I know with great certainty what an economist is: one who understands how markets and money are manipulated. An economist may or may not be in the business of making money. This is in contrast to a someone who is an Economics Major, which is usually someone who goes to college to be a white-collar criminal.

Before I read his works, I did a lot of research on Ludwig von Mises. I find it helps to have a picture of a person in your head before reading their work. The quote that most stood out in my mind came from his student, Friedrich Hayek:

“I came to know him mainly as a tremendously efficient executive, the kind of man who, as was said of John Stuart Mill, because he does a normal day's work in two hours always has a clear desk and time to talk about anything. I came to know him as one of the best educated and informed men I had ever known.”

I’ve also been reading John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty,” and I must say that I am not surprised. I suppose if you have nothing but free time from only allotting yourself two hours of work per day, I would imagine it’s quite easy to dream up methods of maintaining your cushy lifestyle on the sweaty backs of others. To me, the way a person lives is several orders of magnitude more important than the words they utter.

Mises takes laissez-faire capitalism to its extreme, claiming that no government intervention in the economy is good… while I would contend that no government intervention in an economy is impossible. [More about this in another post after I have finished reading Mises thoroughly.]

Libertarians hold lofty ideals that are incompatible with human nature and historical precedent. What’s more disturbing, they often imagine themselves to be something they aren’t: anarchistic. The term “anarchy” comes up in Mises from time to time, though I wouldn’t call him an anarchist. If anything, he is a market anarchist.

Of course, Mises has no problem with drafts/conscription, so clearly he’s pro-military, pro-war, and even pro-government. For all the talk of “negative liberty” that circulates in online Mises discussion circles, Mises himself only indicated the government should abstain from intervening in economics. He has yet to explain in anything I have read how one can maintain an Army without having an effect on the economy. He does discuss the losses in war (including “human capital”) as needing to be weighed economically against the “gains.” Advocacy for wars of acquisition? Who knows…

Before I end this pre-rant on Mises, I want to point out the major flaw in the reasoning [or in his words, praxeology] of Mises: he believes everyone is a utilitarian. Like Mill, Mises seems to assume that most people, or even all of us, are like himself. Even if one ignores the bottom 5% (which I assume includes most of the mentally challenged and socially deranged), there is still massive variation in what drives the functioning 95% of society.

I agree that many at the top will think and act much like Mill and Mises, by which I mean they will live privileged, sheltered lives without what they perceive to be excess. They will likely not associate with the wasteful, extravagant wealthy, or the bitterly hard-working middle class. They will work only towards their own selfish interests, like a good utilitarian.

Libertarianism is not a Bourgeois ideology. It comes from the Intelligentsia. In this respect, it has similar roots to Socialism. Indeed, Marx was largely underemployed his whole life, mostly associating with fellow Socialist thinkers and writers. Marx enjoyed a level of personal freedom similar to that of Mills and Mises.

In a way, Communism and the economics of Mises are very similar: they work beautifully on paper.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Religious Right Wrong

There’s not much talk anymore about the “Religious Right,” a galvanizing group of abortion-hating “family values” voters that got Reagan elected twice – against the better insterests of the US. It may seem as though they just faded into obscurity, but this isn’t the case. Instead, their demise is far more ironic and exciting: they fucked themselves out of office.

One needs merely to have been cognizant the last 10 years to know that Republicans are involved in more sex scandals than Democrats:

Newt Gingrich admited to having affairs during the 90’s. I guess he was so busy during the impeachment of Clinton that he didn’t have time to go home and see his wife. Perhaps just as bad, he left his first wife in the early 80’s and was conveniently remarried within six months of the divorce.
George W. Bush is accused of having had multiple affairs, including a claim that he encouraged one of the women to have an abortion.
Joe Scarborough, while a Representative from Florida, misplaces a dead intern in his office. Rumors circulate that he had been having an affair with her. He resigns to “spend more time with his family,” by which I assume he means MSNBC.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has countless allegations against him. It is not even worth mentioning all the women he sexually assaulted. Also: on video smoking marijuana in the film “Pumping Iron” and posed nude.
David Vittner frequented the infamous DC Madam. Married, four children.
Mark Sanford disappeared for a few days. Turns out he was visiting his Argentinian mistress, who he calls his “soul mate.” No word on how he feels about his American wife and four sons. [This has got to piss off buy-American Republicans; he outsourced his affair!]
John Ensign had an affair with his campaign staffer. Member of the Promise Keepers and outspoken critic of Clinton, he was apparently a possible 2012 presidential candidate... until he stuck it in the wrong place.

Frankly, it shouldn’t matter who a politician has sex with. However, Republicans claim to defend Christian morality in a sinful world. They demonize Democrats like Bill Clinton and John Edwards for doing things they do themselves on a fairly common basis.

Yes, cheating on your spouse is morally wrong [cheating implies a non-open relationship]. Does cheating on your spouse mean you are unfit to govern? I think not… unless of course you’re legislating from the standpoint of defending marriage.

The only lasting legacy of these sexually repressed Christians will be the delay on equal rights for homosexuals. Conservatives argue until they are blue in the face that marriage is “sacred.” Yet time and time again we find that men who voted against gay rights are cruising for men while married.

What can be learned from this? For one thing, those who oppose an activity with extreme vigor may be projecting their internal guilt. I wish American voters would learn to vote for politicians based on their history of supporting causes they personally support, not base it on what church the politician attends, or whether they are also grossed out by two men kissing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Own Private Hell

I like a story that most people ignore. These are usually the stories that are “boring” because they’re filled with all kinds of “depressing” things, like “facts.”

“But knowing who Lady Gaga is fucking is a fact!”

*sigh* Of course it is. Now go back to your pacifier, and please do us all a favor and stop breathing.

So while the world obsesses over the breeding habits of celebrities, Montana almost made incarceration a for-profit industry.

In case I haven’t driven off the “privatize everything” crowd from my blog yet, I’ll explain why private prisons being filled by a private police force is a bad thing:

Private organizations can do things like place security cameras, search without a warrant, detain without cause, and confiscate property without compensation. It won’t be long before every street and sidewalk is technically “private property” in which private security forces operate with complete impunity.

Once a private company has a big, empty prison, they’re going to set about filling it. They will literally scour the area, collecting people for the most pedestrian of offenses. Private prisons are paid by the government for each prisoner incarcerated, and any cost they can save by providing sup-bar conditions is pure profit. Plus, they’ll have a nice supply of forced-labor.

Welcome to Slavery 2.0!

This has already happened in my home state of Pennsylvania, original home of the prison. Most people don’t realize this, but Quakers invented the modern prison. They created it to be a place of rehabilitation, where people could be removed from the stimuli of their normal life and placed in a safe environment. There they can work towards bettering themselves through education while simultaneously being seperated from the problems outside the prison which caused them to need help.

Today, judges take bribes from private prisons to sentence people to longer and longer sentences. Thieves, drugs users, and even drunk drivers are forced to mingle with murderers and rapists.

We think “dropping the soap” is hilarious, even though the spread of AIDS in our prisons should wipe the smile off any face. Most people leave prison psychologically scarred and unable to find a decent job with a criminal record in their past. Prisons were supposed to be a second chance, but they have become the battlefront of class warfare, with all the profiteering of any military campaign.

The company that was slated to run the prison in Montana was also in the works to run prisons in New Mexico, as well. That is, until it was discovered that the people running these prisons were criminals...

Perhaps the most chilling thing about the whole fiasco is that nothing was learned.

“I can't say it was a mistake,” he said. “We make the best decision we can based on the information we have on hand. I don't think we did anything we couldn't or wouldn't do in the future.”
Look for private tyranny to appear in your local town soon.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Open Letter to God

Dear God,

I hope this letter finds you well. You never responded back before, but I assume you’re still interested because you keep sending your friends.

About that… maybe you should ease up a little on telling people to skulk around my neighborhood handing out “The Watchtower.” I’m sure you’re a great guy, but the whole hard-sell is really a big turn off.

In fact, I’m writing this mostly to say… I think we should see other deities. It’s not you, it’s me. I just think we’ve grown apart, me with my mortal life and you with your endless reign of terror over the whole universe.

I know you say you love me, but every time we disagree on something it’s your way or the highway to hell. To be honest, I never really loved you. I never thought of you as anything more than a fuck-buddy. I still scream your name out sometimes during sex, I must admit.

Seriously, God, think about it. It never would have worked out between us. You’re just too possessive. I can’t have any other gods, but you’re willing to take anyone who says “yes.” You’re kind of a slut, God. I’m not judging, I know how you hate that, I’m just saying… it was doomed from the start..

So that’s about it. Maybe we’ll see each other at the occasional wedding or funeral, but for the most part this is good-bye. Tell your creepy little hand-puppet Jesus, too.


Friday, October 9, 2009

A Shot of Reality

Philip K. Dick wrote my favorite line about reality: “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Murder suicides are all the rage these days, so to speak. The recession is cutting tempers short as money becomes even shorter. Fights escalate into violence, violence so regrettable that many perpetrators simply off themselves. Sort of shows how much of a “deterrent” the death penalty is... but that’s another post.

It’s no surprise to me that a gun advocate was found shot recently. Guns don’t make anyone safer, and frankly I believe owning one is dangerous to you and your loved ones. Obviously owning a gun did not help Meleanie Hain. Most gun violence occurs when normal arguments escalate. Not having a gun present in the first place is the surest way to prevent this type of escalation.

That being said, I find Meleanie Hain to be a perfect example with what’s wrong with America. For one thing, she seems to have seen herself as some kind of martyr for bringing a deadly weapon to a children’s sporting event. America is certainly full of these foolish, Don Quixote types who envision themselves as noble defenders of good.

Then, when her permit to carry a weapon was revoked and re-instated, it wasn’t good enough for her. She had to sue, to prove just how litigious American assholes are. She was asking for a million dollars, for things like “emotional distress.” Boo-fucking-hoo, lady.

Finally, this sudden chance at money was likely the final stress that broke her relationship with her husband. Even though we are all conditioned to believe becoming wealthy will make us happy, lottery winners prove otherwise.

I don’t know if it was her gun that did the deed, or just that she fell in love with a guy who also clearly liked guns, but there’s two less morons in the world today. Yet even though I think both she and her husband are stupid people who made stupid decisions, it’s a shame they’re gone and that their children have to grow up without parents just because their parents bought into an American myth.

Here’s a thought to consider: people buy guns to protect themselves from crime. About 90% of crime, from theft and fraud to rape and murder, is committed by acquaintances. If you buy a gun, you are really arming yourself against your friends and family, because it is they who will most likely victimize you. Perhaps if you feel you need a gun, you really need new friends.

Fact: In 2006, there were 30,896 gun deaths in the U.S:
16,883 suicides (55% of total deaths)
12,791 homicides (41% of total deaths)
642 unintentional shootings (2% of total deaths)
360 from legal intervention (1.2% of total deaths)
220 from undetermined intent (.8% of total deaths)

If you own a gun, what do you think it will be used for? Statistically... collecting dust.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Secret... Is Bullshit

Positive thinking… that is “The Secret,” according to a philosophical movement based on a book by Rhonda Byrne.

“The Secret” is touted by such miserable and fad-obsessed media-whores as the unmarried spinster Oprah Winfrey! Surely it’s working for her… since she was one of the richest self-made women before having even heard of it.

Before I go any further, the book is bullshit and the philosophy is nonsense, with absolutely no basis in fact. It literally posits the notion that positive thinking has a beneficial effect on exterior events. “The Secret” claims your positive thoughts actually radiate from you and affect things like your success and health. It’s the kind of crap “spiritual but not religious” people buy into.

That being said, there are still those who would say it is not about the supernatural statements, and that there are tangible benefits to positive thinking and goal setting. This is a more valid argument and one worth more than a paragraph of scorn.

Thinking positively can be very helpful at times. It is best to avoid being depressed, as this can actually worsen your health. It is best to act deliberately and with a plan under the assumption of success. However, if hard times come around or your plan is sidetracked, sometimes it is best not to think “positively,” as if “everything will just work out.”

Depression and unhappiness are not chemical imbalances. I know that when someone is unhappy, their biochemistry is different from that of an individual who is happy, but the unhappiness has a root cause beyond chemistry. Taking an anti-depressant can alter that chemistry, so that you don’t feel “depressed,” but it can’t actually fix anything in your life.

“The Secret” is essentially an anti-depressant. Like an anti-depressant, it only makes us feel better; it does not solve any problems that made us depressed in the first place.

If your job sucks, your spouse drives you nuts, your kids are bouncing off the walls … maybe instead of being depressed, taking an anti-depressant or just thinking positively… you should work on one of those things. Finding a new job, talking with your spouse, actually parenting your children… those are probably the real secrets to being happy.

Addressing the problems you face may be incompatible with your goals. Even more common, the goals we set are unrealistic and create a distraction from the challenges we must unwillingly face. For many people, it is a full-time job just staying afloat in this life, especially for single parents and the disabled.

Rich people like to say it’s all about effort. If success is solely a function of work ethic, then not only do the rich deserve what they have, but the poor can one day hope to attain wealth – or at least some decent standard of living. But in the end, this is merely a pleasant lie told to the masses, like using religion to explain the divine right of kings.

I wonder if people told Laci Peterson to just think positively and stick by her husband. I wonder if all the people who are getting laid off from their jobs were just Debbie Downers who deserve unemployment because of their cynicism. I wonder if it’s easier to sleep at night on a pile of dirty money believing you deserve to have more than you can ever use while fellow Americans declare bankruptcy at record rates. I wonder how long the cheap thrills and bullshit ideologies will distract us.

The growing ranks of the poor and homeless are filled with people who never gave up, just as the country clubs of the rich are filled with people who have never worked a hard day’s labor in their life. The Secret is that it’s all bullshit, and the rich are always ready to serve up seconds.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Religion in Recession

Money is tight for most people these days. We’re taking seconds jobs or struggling to even find one. One in ten people looking for work can’t find any, and another fifteen percent are underemployed. People have less cash to waste.

As a result, donations are down at most churches, and many are closing their doors. Enrollment is down at pricey religious schools as the middle class is bled dry by a well oiled, unregulated economy. It’s not just Americans who are feeling the crunch, the divine also seems to be in dire straits.

After 9/11, some people flocked to churches. I don’t understand why. We had just been attacked by a bunch of religious nuts, and for some reason that drove millions to attend church. I guess people were looking for that sense of “community” that can only come from a group of people who gather together to hate like-minded things.

But the honeymoon with religion is over, and the fact is that the Gods did nothing to save us from… well, quietly frankly, ourselves. As in all times when the gap between the rich and the poor increases, charity dries up in the heat of greed. The Gods have to go hungry, too.

The only problem is this: religion is like a societal cockroach. It has developed ways to survive. They are not taxed, so many churches and buildings owned by religious organizations are simply shuttered with the lights turned off, because the buildings can sit there unused and untaxed indefinitely. Of course, no one can buy and use that land to actually benefit the community, but at least religion has all its infrastructure when things pick up.

Just a thought: if we taxed the income and land of religious organizations, I believe we could not only pay for healthcare, but we could begin the steady march towards eliminating some of the pointless institutions of society. Let religions sink or swim on their own; no more handouts for the Gods.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Brave New Libertarian World

Share with me now, a bold[ly facetious] vision of the future:

In this Libertarian World, it is Year Zero. The Libertarians have gained overwhelming control of the government, and true to their word (and here is how you know it’s fiction), they begin dismantling the power structure of the federal government.

In this world, the only people who vote Republican anymore are racists. They still get 10% or so year after year.

In this world, millions of single mothers stop receiving government aid. But this is okay, because prostitution is legalized. Only the children of ugly women who won’t do anal have to prostitute themselves to eat.

In this world, about sixty percent of the female population leaves the US because nothing is more annoying to them than Libertarianism. Back in the states, things get so desperate that it ceases to be “gay” unless you push back.

In this world, fires burn poor and rural communities that lack adequately funded fire stations. Natural disaster after natural disaster shakes region after region of the country. The rich watch it all on TV while eating deep-fried-lobster-wrapped-in-bacon-on-a-stick, Now with Extra Trans Fat! [I’d try it]

In this world, pandas, condors, whales, snow owls, rhinos, elephants, lions, tigers, some bears (oh my?), sea turtles, and hippies all become extinct, and Rush Limbaugh personally ate most of them.

In this world, NASA is dismantled, but space travel thrives. The Bill Gates Space Program etches the Microsoft Logo onto the moon. A joint venture by GE and several power companies launch a satellite which blocks out the sun. Light bulb sales skyrocket, farmers must pay to receive sunlight, and Simpsons creator Matt Groening loses a lawsuit claiming the idea was originally his.

In this world, the air becomes so bad that oxygen is sold in canisters next to bottled water in grocery stores. Poop from stray dogs and cats slowly fill the sidewalks and gutters.

In this world, crime is almost non-existent. People don’t bother going out anymore because privately run security forces unburdened by the constitution comb the streets, arresting women and raping men.

In this world, jails are privately run slave farms and factories. Private police forces arrest more and more citizens to maintain ever increasing quotas. As a result of this enormous unpaid labor force, all non-skilled jobs disappear in the US and unemployment is pandemic.

In this world, everyone owns a gun. The average erect penis length inexplicably shrinks to a mere four inches (which makes the raping a little easier). Surprise parties at times become violent shoot outs.

In this world, communities build their own amenities. Areas become isolated as interstate highways crumble. Debt is wiped clean, but superiority is maintained by communities with the best schools and jobs. Ghettos are still ghettos, but you don’t have to go there to get drugs anymore.

In this world, all drugs are legalized. Tobacco rots on shelves, unsold. With access to cocaine and all manner of amphetamines, Wall Street remains operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The country is robbed four times faster.

In this world, we don’t have to tolerate it for long. China comes knocking at our door, asking about the trillions of dollars we owe them. They don’t buy the whole “We wiped debt clean” argument, and invade us. We are defended by a disorganized system of militias and private security contractors. After being promised land and non-American currency, these defenses quickly turn on their countrymen and proceed to slaughter the populace.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Jew Hear About Ahmadinejad?

Perhaps the world’s biggest Holocaust denying, Jew hating, Israel threatening douchebag has Jewish roots. No, not Mel Gibson, it’s Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

I don’t usually believe in Jewish conspiracies, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was indeed the work of Israeli propagandists. It’s so damn funny that Mel Brooks would be proud.

Now first off, I have some reservations with the claim that “Jewish” is an ethnicity. Hitler argued the same thing, and as we all know: anything Hitler did is wrong (stop breathing...). Even the Jewish community’s attempt to spread the idea that being Jewish is a cultural identity isn’t logical.

First off, Jewish people try to claim it’s about culture, not religion, but I posit that ethnicities are named after languages because language is the primary barrier which divides people sufficiently enough to allow racial insulation and therefore differentiation of culture and race. The French speak French, the Germans speak German (or those from Deutschland speak Deutsch), the Italians speak Italian, Greeks speak Greek, etc. The name of the language is also inevitably the name of their culture.

In this way, I would consider those of “Jewish heritage” Hebrew. I wouldn’t consider myself ethnically or even culturally Catholic, even though that was the religion of my family and upbringing. Although I do love fish on Fridays…

There is a complication in all of this, because even the distinction “Jewish” comes from the term “Judaism,” which is the name of the religion… which is named after the region of Judea. So really, the religion is named after the land where the people who practiced it were from. To complicate things even more, the people themselves have gone by many different names, including the people of Moses, the people of Jacob, the Children of Israel and God’s chosen people (none of which will ever catch on).

So what the hell does any of this have to do with our recently outed Jewish/Hebrew/athletically-challenged President of Iran?

I’m not sure if it’s possible, but I’m pretty sure Jews have a dominant self-loathing gene. Hitler definitely had it, and Ahmadinejad clearly has it. Considering how brutal lapsed Jews can be to practicing Jews, I can almost understand the aggressive measures taken to keep them in the fold.

Then again, it’s probably the case that Mahmoud is compensating for his Jewish roots by being especially harsh on Isael and Jews living in Iran. Scapegoating doesn’t work if the leader is discovered to be a scapegoat himself, so he throws off the scent by being overly critical of Jews. Think of wealthy Right Wing businessmen attempting to demonize Democrats as elitist, or Larry Craig and his crusade against gay people while he’s simultaneously cruising bathrooms across America.

Which got me thinking… didn’t Mahmoud also say during a speech at Columbia University in New York there are no gay people in Iran? Maybe that’s because the only one he knew about was out of the country at that moment...

The Curse of Insurance

Health insurance has been getting a lot of press lately. However, I just saw the new Michael Moore movie, and it’s got me thinking about some other types of insurance.

There is something called Corporate-owned Life Insurance. No, this isn’t insurance a CEO takes out in case his company dies. Instead, it is an insurance policy taken out by a company which covers a worker for that company, and which may or may not remain valid even after the employee no longer works for that company. This was primarily used to protect against the loss of key people high up in the company, but in the US it is common for even the janitors to be insured in this way.

Colloquially, this is called a “Dead Peasant” policy. It really hearkens back to the feudal days when a lord felt he had ownership of his workforce. If a noble or knight from another land killed one of his peasant serfs, the victim’s lord would be entitled to compensation for his loss.

This is nothing but motivation for companies to treat Americans like shit. They don’t want us to have health insurance, private or public, because we’re worth more dead than alive. This is nothing but a monetary incentive for the death of others.

So I have an idea. Why don’t average citizens take out insurance policies on the wealthy? I think a solid investment would be to take out life insurance policies on every CEO of a blue chip company. While we’re at it, let’s get fire insurance for their homes and businesses, too. Then maybe, just maybe, these fuckers will just “naturally” get what’s coming to them.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Why Bother?

Since I said something positive about Democrats, I have to continue my schizoid history of now bashing them. I figured, why wait a day? Let’s have a post about how Democrats are going to intrude on the lives of Americans right after I lauded one of them for putting on his big-boy pants all by himself.

This story put me on a philosophical rollercoaster. The title reads, “US Senators Vote to Encourage Healthy Behavior.” Right away I am suspicious, because this sounds like another attempt by Democrats to mess with people. Then I read the article’s first two paragraphs about a “measure aimed at rewarding healthy behavior” by “provid[ing] financial incentives.”

I really think the only way you can get people to do anything in America is through money, and maybe shame second. Providing people with a tax credit or making health purchases tax deductible or something would truly be a step towards getting people to choose to live healthier. What does not work is taking money for not doing something, or penalties.

The government is not providing incentives, it is imposing penalties; premiums will go up for those who don’t participate in wellness programs. This is a clause in the healthcare bill - which is forcing every American to get private health insurance while not even providing a public option. And once everyone is forced to be insured (or fined... another penalty), we’ll also be forced into fat-camp programs so that private insurance companies can bank on spending less money on our health problems.

Penalties have no opportunity to work if you are fining someone for not purshasing something expensive or difficult to attain, whether it be insurance or good health. No one likes when the government is that annoying girlfriend who wants you to quit all your unhealthy habits, buy some jogging shoes, eat vegan, or whatever the fuck else is the fad health craze of the moment - or else no nookie. I married a woman who isn’t like that for a reason: I find it really fucking annoying.

No one wants to be told what to do. Gay people don’t want to be told who to love, women don’t want to be told what career they can have, and fat people don’t want to be told what to eat. I wish this tolerance that Democrats always talked about would extend to every legal lifestyle (sorry NAMBLA).

Would this be as big of an issue if the government was paying for it? I don’t think so. The government is not really into micromanagement for the purpose of efficiency and profit; private enterprise does that. This is a healthcare bill written by the private healthcare industry for the private healthcare industry, with the only thing consumers getting is an empty promise that they won’t be dropped from coverage… as often.

Maybe if this was a bill providing a private option or universal coverage, you would see more freedom. The government defends freedom; private industry doesn’t care, they want profit. Freedom is nothing but a buzz word to a company, nonsense used to sell a product. Freedom to the government is having to abide by the constitution, or to rein itself in when it oversteps. Private enterprise lacks any such restraint, and cannot be voted out of office.

Call me crazy, but I would rather do nothing for a wound than pour poison on it for lack of medicine. I hope this bill doesn’t pass, but I know it will because the people selling the poison have already bought the government.

The Outrage!

I have repeatedly called for a verbal offensive against conservative ignorance. It looks like an elected Democrat may have finally put his game face on.

Freshman representative Alan Grayson said on the floor of the house that the Republican healthcare plan is for Americans to “not get sick, and if they do get sick, die quickly.”

I hope this guy Grayson doesn’t back down. The interview he did on CNN seems to indicate he is actually driven to do something by pointing out how full of shit Republicans are. He confronted Republicans without apologizing… which for a Democrat is damn near heroic at this point.

It’s quite adorable to watch the Republicans scurry around acting like they’re offended. It’s proof that if Democrats are willing to take the offensive, Republicans will be willing to oblige us by whining and crying. *Passes a box of tissues to the Right*

Also, Grayson is a freshman representative, just like Joe Wilson. Why is it that freshman politicians are the only ones who actually seem to represent their constituency? There’s no denying Wilson is wrong and a jackass, but that makes him the perfect representative for Republicans.

It’s like I’ve always said, you have look for the same thing in a politician as you do in a prostitute: willingness to please and a short employment history. I guess lobbyist money is kind of like herpes.
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