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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Obama speaks candidly on climate change

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Although he should have been talking about climate change five years ago, it’s good to see Obama siding with science and advocating for a price on carbon. Better late than never. Here’s a preview from Tom Friedman’s interview on Showtime:

I particularly liked Friedman’s example about climate change deniers in Congress consulting the 97 percent of doctors who may diagnose their children, but on climate change, they want to consult the other 3 percent minority. This, I have found also, applies to religion, but instead, the percentages are more like 99-to-1, as Christians and other believers, despite 99 percent of scientists being in agreement about evolution and the inadequacy of creationism to explain our world, they still trust the dissenting 1 percent, and without any evidence all the while.

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Written by Jeremy

June 9th, 2014 at 7:54 pm

The ‘non-offending’ pedophiles

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Andrew Sullivan from over at The Dish received an anonymous email from a self-proclaimed pedophile who said that while he has never acted on his attraction to children and is “committed to never doing so,” his sexual persuasion, like that of his “non-offending” pedophiles, is nonetheless innate.

Sullivan calls the following a “predicament” for these so-called Virtuous Pedophiles, which is a quote from the group’s website:

We do not choose to be attracted to children, and we cannot make that attraction go away. But we can resist the temptation to abuse children sexually, and many of us present no danger to children whatsoever. Yet we are despised for having a sexual attraction that we did not choose, cannot change, and successfully resist. This hatred has its consequences; many of us suffer from depression and sometimes even commit suicide. Paradoxically, the hatred actually increases the risk of child sexual abuse by making us afraid to admit our condition to others, thus discouraging us from seeking treatment. More of us could lead productive, happy, law-abiding lives if we could open up to people who would treat us not as monsters but as human beings with an unfortunate burden to bear.

Of course, we can all be glad that they don’t act on their attractions, but I see a couple things that are problematic.

First, we have fairly strong evidence to suggest that sexual orientation is genetic, and this makes sense since we see same-sex — well, sex — in other parts of the animal kingdom. Pedophilia, however, is classified as a psychosexual disorder that usually grows out of any number of types of abuse or neglect in a person’s past:

The underlying cause of pedophilia is unclear. Although biological abnormalities such as hormone imbalance may contribute to the disorder in some individuals, biological factors have not been proved as causes. In many cases pedophilic behaviour appears to be associated with sexual abuse or neglect experienced during childhood and with stunted emotional or psychological development. Research also has indicated that boys who were sexually abused are more likely to become pedophiles or sex offenders. − Encyclopaedia Britannica

Second, can a person really be described as “virtuous” for merely refusing to succumb to their desire to have sex with children? Modern humans are generally attracted to money, and from our youth we learn that if we have enough of it, we can buy things that can make us happy, even if its a shallow form of happiness. Do we call people who don’t rob banks or commit fraud virtuous? Every day, humans choose not to act on their desire to sleep with their friends’ wives. They have no control over who they are attracted to; yet would we call these people virtuous for not committing adultery when every fiber in their loins tells them otherwise? More than a few Catholic priests are apparently attracted to children. I realize some of them may have acted on it, but surely many closeted priestly pedophiles have successfully eschewed their longing for children. What about people who are into bestiality or forced sexual slavery? Are these folks just virtuous if they don’t act on their morally reprehensible inclinations?

I realize this group of pedophiles describes their plight as an “unfortunate burden to bear,” but people refuse to act on their desires every day for the betterment of society as a whole, and we don’t necessary applaud them for it or bestow them with anymore respect. It’s simply part of being a responsible adult. We all bear burdens.

It’s like the old schtick from Chris Rock about parenthood:

You know the worst thing about niggas? Niggas always want credit for some shit they supposed to do. A nigga will brag about some shit a normal man just does. A nigga will say some shit like, “I take care of my kids.” You’re supposed to, you dumb motherfucker! What kind of ignorant shit is that? “I ain’t never been to jail!” What do you want, a cookie?! You’re not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation-having motherfucker!

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Written by Jeremy

June 9th, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Fair and balanced

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FOX News wants to be taken as a legitimate news source − or at least dupe gullible viewers into believing that it is − yet it allows people in the video below to regurgitate bigoted, anti-intellectual rubbish:

One guest, Gavin McInnes said he “hates” Neil deGrasse Tyson, and I don’t doubt him since he has been a contributor to neoconservatives websites like VDARE and Taki’s Magazine and has been an open advocate for the white race, once telling the New York Press:

I love being white and I think it’s something to be very proud of … I don’t want our culture diluted (Italics mine. Sounds like the language of Joseph Goebbels). We need to close the borders now and let everyone assimilate to a Western, white, English-speaking way of life.

On FOX, McInnes then expanded on his dislike for Tyson:

White liberal nerds love this guy so much, he could defecate on them like Martin Bashir’s fantasies and they would dance in the streets. All he does is, he’s drunk with adulation. And he talks about things like “when I was young in New York I would get racially profiled when I’d go into stores.” Back then he looked like he was in The Warriors. He had a huge afro and a cutoff shirt and New York was a war zone. Sorry, you fit the profile.

“Fit the profile.” That tells you all you need to know.

More hate came from John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations no less, who said he “can’t stand liberal intellectuals:”

This idea that somehow they get to look down on the rest of the human race. It’s no wonder the extra-terrestrials don’t contact us. We don’t have any pride in ourselves.

At some point in the 20th century, perhaps around the advent of the Moral Majority, ignorance and faith became more virtuous than knowledge, and this is probably the greatest intellectual crisis facing the human race today. Bolton and McInnes are well within their rights to come on the circus that is FOX News and spout their disdain for people who are different than themselves, but we are well within our rights to push these people further to the sidelines in the public discourse. They are bit players in a nation full of enlightened people who have already moved way beyond their anachronistic worldview.

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Written by Jeremy

June 8th, 2014 at 5:33 pm

The Grand Old Tea Party

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Here is Grover Norquist speaking in a Los Angeles Times article about the Tea Party:

Once there were Republicans who voted for tax increases, but they aren’t here any more.… The Republican Party has largely absorbed the message of the Tea Party movement. 

So, essentially the same folks who once railed against the government and the establishment in 2008 in Washington are the establishment in Washington.

GOP puts its tea party ‘civil war’ behind it.

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Written by Jeremy

May 24th, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Sterling takes delusion to a whole new level

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Although Donald Sterling actually said the words that he was “so sorry” and “so apologetic” for offending millions of black people, including those on his own team, the rest of Anderson Cooper’s interview with the former Clippers owner sounded as bad or worse than the initial tape. Notice that he said he was “sorry that so many people are hurt,” not that he was sorry for making the remarks. He continued to slam Magic Johnson’s character, wrongly saying that he’s got AIDS, and adding that the former basketball star is not a good role model, although the Magic Johnson Foundation reaches thousands of people in the inner cities each year. He also called Anderson Cooper a racist and blamed the media for blowing the tapes out of proportion. Perhaps even most egregious was his apparent comparison to how Jewish communities help people in need versus black communities. Just stunning.

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Written by Jeremy

May 13th, 2014 at 9:15 pm

In God we don’t trust

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Funny how “small government” conservatives want to have their cake and eat it too by using the engines of government only when it serves their purposes, say, when local officials want to put “In God we trust” on public property:

‘In God We Trust’ signs in Roane sent to committee.

I think it violates the Constitution for the slogan to be national motto at all and for it to be printed on our currency, and indeed, before 1956, “e pluribus unum,” or “out of many, one” was unofficially the national motto. I think President Roosevelt posed a salient objection from a religious standpoint, noting that printing God’s name on money was sacrilegious. Likewise, from the Christian worldview, wouldn’t the act of plastering God’s name all over carnal places of businesses, schools and courthouses in some way diminish his holiness?

The debate about “In God we trust,” of course, ignores the rather obvious point: We don’t actually trust God as a nation and never have. If we did, we would leave all the heavy lifting to him, entrusting God to sort out financial crises, intervene in global affairs, fight terrorism and bring international criminals to justice. But no. The federal government handles all of these because we know — even if only a few of us will admit it — that if we had sat around trusting God to get stuff done and move history forward, the world would have imploded long ago.

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Sadly, they are completely serious

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Written by Jeremy

March 28th, 2014 at 12:02 am

Who’s going to neuter Arpaio?

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., remained defiant in the face of another court order this week that he will probably just ignore. As The New York Times reported it, judge G. Murray Snow of United States District Court “strongly rebuked” Arpaio for not following the court’s previous order and for mocking the judge:

Ten months ago, Judge Snow ruled that Mr. Arpaio and his deputies had systematically profiled Latinos, targeting them for arrest during raids at day-laborer gathering spots and detaining them longer than other drivers during traffic stops. The subsequent order from the judge, who found that the sheriff’s office had violated the constitutional rights of Latinos, came with several requirements, including the appointment of a monitor to field complaints and oversee compliance.

But at the hearing on Monday, Judge Snow said that Mr. Arpaio and the chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, had blatantly flouted his order, pointing as evidence to a video of a briefing that the two men held in October for a group of rank-and-file deputies who participated in a crime-suppression operation in southwest Phoenix. In the video, Mr. Sheridan called Judge Snow’s order “ludicrous” and “absurd,” and compared the restrictions the courts had placed on them to those imposed on the beleaguered New Orleans Police Department, whose officers, he said, “were murdering people.”

“That tells you how ludicrous this crap is,” Mr. Sheridan of the judge’s order, as a videocamera recorded his every word.

Mr. Arpaio spoke next, telling the deputies, “What the chief deputy said is what I’ve been saying,” adding, “We don’t racially profile, I don’t care what everybody says.”

Arpaio said nothing during the hearing, but told the press, “We’ll be appealing this case anyway. Stay tuned.” Rather than hitting Arpaio with a penalty at this hearing, Snow told the sheriff that if his department committed more violations, he would impose restrictions like forcing Arpaio to hire more monitors to ensure compliance. Snow already ordered that one monitor be brought in to serve as a check against discrimination.

To underscore his points, Judge Snow asked that the lawyers on both sides of the case prepare a summary of his order and that Mr. Arpaio and his deputies use it as a training tool, ideally to make sure none of it was misinterpreted. He also asked both sides to sign a letter attesting to the intentions of the order, which Mr. Arpaio’s lawyers said they would have to discuss before accepting.

So in essence, Arpaio is going to more or less continue his hack campaign against Hispanics in his own county, while his lawyers talk about whether to accept Snow’s order. How broken is our legal system when attorneys get to converse over an order before accepting it? What happened to a judge making a ruling as the final authority and forcing compliance, or else be held in contempt?  After learning that Arpaio and his deputies remain defiant and probably have no intention of carrying out his order, why was Snow so lenient? Why did Snow just “strongly rebuke” the sheriff and not hold him in contempt? Arpaio needs to be taught the  lesson that no one is above the law.

Andrew Cohen, with The Atlantic, made as strong a case as any for Arpaio to be held in content and fined until he complies:

If you or I behaved like this, if we violated a court order so defiantly after a case about willful disobedience of the Constitution, we would be held in contempt. And that’s what should have happened to Arpaio Monday. None of this patient deference to officials of another branch of government. None of this separation-of-powers politesse. The sheriff should have been held in contempt, and fined, until he was willing to publicly apologize (to the judge, at least) and also to convince Judge Snow that he understands at last that the Constitution belongs not to him but to all of the people he serves.

It’s not that he doesn’t get it. It’s that he gets it and still doesn’t care. The more the feds press him, the more the constitutional violations pile up, the more he’s able to lament to his supporters that he is the real victim here. This lawsuit, this court order,  surely will be a talking point when Arpaio finally runs for governor. The real victims, of course, are the citizens of color in Maricopa County who still suffer under his yoke. To them,  the contents of that ugly videotape aren’t a revelation. They’ve been living with that attitude for years. And if Arpaio wins his next race perhaps all of the citizens of Arizona will get to experience it, too.

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Written by Jeremy

March 27th, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Party devoid of substance

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The Iraq War could end up costing $6 trillion, at the expense of domestic programs, personal freedoms and a Jeffersonian-like expansion of federal power. One can pretty easily tell just how hypocritical and empty is the rhetoric of neocons and small-government conservatives. Not only has the GOP’s foreign policy platform been disingenuous and akin to saying one thing and doing another, Republicans in Washington have for the last six years essentially collected a check from American taxpayers for doing nothing, whether from cock blocking Obama at every turn, and in some cases, to the nation’s detriment, to wasting time passing nonbinding and symbolic repeals of the Affordable Care Act.

It really is shameless, as Jon Stewart duly notes here:

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Written by Jeremy

March 27th, 2014 at 7:51 pm

The failed Tea Party experiment

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I’ve been writing about the Tea Party’s lunacies on here since the spring of 2009 (Here is my first substantive post about it). As I’ve tracked the trajectory of this experiment in political unrest, I think it’s safe to say the party is all but toast at this point, and here’s why.

Tea Party members have essentially corroded the GOP from the inside out, and in a sign that more moderate, “establishment” Republicans are pulling back the reins on these folks, House Speaker John Boehner and GOP leaders announced recently that they were going to support a “clean,” no-attachments increase to the debt-ceiling, despite some leaders in the party insisting on a list of demands. Attaching demands to the legislation did not have enough support, it died and the actual “clean” bill passed the House on Tuesday.

The Atlantic’s Molly Ball has an excellent article up about the Tea Party’s evolution these last few years, and its eventual acceptance of typical machinations in Washington. As she traces the changes in the party, which as we know is the ultra-conservative, borderline libertarian fringe of the Republican Party, members swept into Washington riding Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber’s popularity and were ready to pounce on and destroy every single one of Barack Obama’s goals, with some conservatives talking heads even wishing that Obama fails at everything he tries to accomplish in the White House. In short, Ball said, the Tea Party came into Congress in 2011 on a “wave of denial and anger.”

teapartyflag

The nation came close to disaster in 2011 when Tea Partiers nearly destroyed the concessions Boehner was planning to make with Obama to keep the U.S. from defaulting on its loans. This would be one of the first in a series of numerous showdowns between more moderate House Republicans, like Boehner, who at their core understand that in some cases, compromise is a necessity and tough decisions have to be made for the betterment of the nation — even if they won’t say this publicly — and the lunatic wing of the GOP.

As Ball put it:

The 2011 showdown was revealing. Previously, the idea of default was so unthinkable that observers and markets didn’t consider it a possibility. But the confrontation showed how far the new House majority was willing to go. They weren’t looking for compromise; they wanted the whole loaf. They weren’t just mad. They were convinced—erroneously—that they had the power to undo Obama’s agenda entirely from their perch controlling one-half of one-third of the federal government. They were in denial.

And in late 2013, the conservative camp forced the nation into a government shutdown, causing undue hardship on the Americans they claimed to care about back in election season. They then proceeded to eat a shit sandwich by subsequently accepting a deal to reopen the government, as Ball points out, that was actually worse than the one they were going to get previously. Now, as the GOP bullheadedly forced the government’s hand, took a sizable ideological step against the grain and managed to somehow make the public even less trustworthy of government with their asinine denials of reality, the only thing left for the Tea Party is acceptance, and well, dissolution.

Ball concludes:

This is how Washington works: Certain things have to get done, and you try to get the best deal you can, and then move on to the next thing. This is basically what Boehner has been trying to tell his caucus for the last three years, but they had to figure it out for themselves. Now that they’ve achieved acceptance, will Boehner’s job get easier? Or will a new wave of mad-as-hell representatives rise up in protest?

If Tea Partiers would have had the brains to realize all this from the start, they could have saved us all, and the nation, a lot of heartburn. They played a dangerous game that took the nation to the brink, and now, with absolutely nothing to gain from it except more angry constituents and some dusty lapel pins, they will more than likely be forced henceforth to ride the bench.

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Written by Jeremy

February 12th, 2014 at 8:23 pm

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