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Member since: 2001
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No, Ben Carson ISN'T "stupid"... it's worse than that:

So the late-night comedians and the media are having all kinds of fun with Ben's shambling incoherency at the Congressional hearings the other day-- Responding "Amway?" when asked about the OMWI program, and "Oreo?" for REO.

The implication (and outright assumption) being, "What a dummy! Doesn't even know critical aspects of HIS OWN job! Stuff he's been asked about before, sent enquiries in writing, etc.! How stupid can you get!?"

He's not stupid.

He may not be the smartest brain surgeon on the planet but he did manage to qualify as one. I suspect his IQ is in the high normal range, at least.

The problem isn't stupidity.

It's that he honestly believes he doesn't HAVE to know about that stuff. That stuff is for underlings. How stupid are these Congresscritters to be asking him stuff that he very rightly (in his own mindset) leaves to "his people", who are supposed to take care of that kind of thing.

What do they think he is, some mid-level civil servant program manager? Idiots! THEY'RE the stupid ones.

Secretary Carson is a reflection of his boss's own philosophy of leadership:

You don't need to know anything about anything. You just have to have the authority to tell other people what to do.

This isn't just President Windrip's approach, by the way. It seems to have become the default for the entire GOP. NONE of them appear to believe they need to have any skills or knowledge to serve the public. Just authority, to tell other people to deliver on their campaign promises for them, whether the requirements of doing so are Constitutional or not.

It's why they get all self-righteous with fury when those underlings don't "do their jobs" and make the "leaders" look bad.

And here's what's even worse:

Their followers believe this, too. They're not upset that the ignorant, uncaring incompetents they've elected can't perform the functions of legislation or executive management. They're upset that the underlings aren't "making it so" and/or that pesky Constitution and those eeee-vile libruls are interfering with it being made so.

And all the while, we're thinking, "Finally, they'll see how incompetent these doofuses are, and come around to realize we need to elect people who understand the job and have the skills to do it."

We're the stupid ones.

And we are SO screwn...


A Modest Proposal: Can We Compromise With the Forced-Birthers?

Hear (well, read) me out, now... I know how dizzyingly rageful the latest round of forced-birth legislation has made everyone who mistakes women for human beings. And when the rage is that overwhelming, the very word "compromise" can be like a red flag before a bull. I get that.

But look at the playing field, particularly the Supreme Court. Not to mention all those other Federal Courts the forced-birthers are busily packing. We're in a real pickle, here.

Maybe it's time to negotiate.

I had an idea that will reduce the number of forced births women are subjected to by up to FIFTY PERCENT.

Yes, yes, I know... NO forced births is the morally, ethically, and humanly correct number, but we're a very long way from that now.

Fortunately, technology has stepped in with a potential partial solution (no, I didn't say "partial birth", put away that brick of C-4, dudes.)

See, now with modern medicine, we can tell the gender of a fetus at about nine to ten weeks with a simple NIPT screen. A few more weeks, and we can use ultrasound as well. This is critical, because it enables us to identify the VALUABLE fetuses. The ones who are fully human and can be accorded full rights as human when they're born.

Thus, we can also identify the second-class fetuses, the ones that are not quite fully human and thus can be legally treated like an advanced form of livestock.

So how about this: We allow the uterine hosts to abort ONLY THE LESS VALUABLE fetuses, and force them to carry only the valuable ones to term?

This will reduce the number of forced births by, well, maybe not a full fifty percent, since some uterine hosts may decide to go ahead and replicate another uterine host, but it will drastically cut down on the total number of forced births.

We only send them to jail for 99 years or whatever, if we find they've accidentally-or-on-purpose aborted one of those valuable, fully human fetuses.

We cool with this? I think it could work...


P.S. I suppose I should add the smiley here... there's always someone who needs it.

Quit calling it "Anti-abortion". Or "Pro-Life". It's the FORCED-BIRTH movement.

It's not about "saving babies" when you're talking about a fetus so impaired it will die within a few minutes of birth anyway-- AFTER killing the mother.

It's not about the "innocent unborn" when the conceptus was forced on a newly-fertile 11-year-old by an adult subhuman rapist.

It's not about "life" when you're requiring a human being to use their body as an unwilling receptacle for an unwanted pregnancy and all its metabolic, psychological, economic and social consequences.

It's about controlling women.

It's about denying them agency.

It's about "valuing" the potential life of a blastocyst above the humanity and self-determination of a living, breathing, feeling, thinking being-- because of her gender.

It's about FORCED BIRTH.

Which is what masters have always done to slaves. What owners do to livestock.

What Republicans want to do to women.


The Sick Romance of Homophobia and Misogyny

...and why if you slay the dragon of homophobia you ALSO strike a killing blow at misogyny. (Yes, I've turned my response from this thread into an OP at the suggestion of several responders.)

Start with this beautiful image, the cover of today's TIME Magazine:

Sure, homophobia is definitely its own thing, and the whole "ick factor" of straight insecure males being terrified that they're going to be hit on by other guys... or that their daughters are going to take to comfy shoes and shack up with another woman... is rooted in its own existential inadequacy.

But homophobia is ALSO rooted, very deeply, in patriarchy, which rigidly defines gender roles, assigning them based on the supposed 'superiority' of the male and the 'inferiority' of the female.

The whole "traditional marriage is one man and one woman" thing goes back to that patriarchal requirement, heavily bolstered by (in the Abrahamic religious traditions and particularly the Catholic and Orthodox Churches) the tangled legal and economic webs of property assignment and inheritance.

I remember my genuinely ignorant but truly well-intentioned grandmother asking my gay sister, after she came out, "but if you and another woman are together, which one of you is the man?"

Cue a whole range of half-scared, half-mocking comments and queries about "tops" and "bottoms" in gay and kink relationships and a whole range of misogynist and patriarchally-fixated assumptions about "pitchers" and "catchers" in gay male relationships.

The assumption that a patriarchal misogynist culture has attempted to hardwire into us is that in any relationship involving sex, there is one party who "does it to" the other party. And the implication there is that the "doing it to" party is "the man" in the relationship, and the "done to" party is "the woman" in the relationship.

Gay people- and kink people- know that's bullshit. And that's a huge part of the reason that such sexual relationships have been outlawed and regarded as transgressive. It squicks the hell out of people who think in the patriarchal misogynist mindset that any two people in a sexually intimate relationship might actually both "do it" to each other and have it "done to" them in equal measure as their fancy dictates at any given time. That there might be a regular exchange of roles, and that power as expressed in sexual giving and receiving, soliciting and responding, might not be dictated by gender AT ALL!


And that is an often-unspoken but deep-rooted part of the objection to gay marriage- it does, indeed, 'destroy' the "traditional marriage" model in which gender dictates who does what and why.

Every gay marriage is also a blow at misogyny. I'm delighted for us all.


If the forced-birth cult wins...

...they will not like what they win, ultimately.

The problem is, most of them are not old enough to remember what that form of slavery cost last time.

They were not young nurses working in hospitals watching other young women die.

They were not teachers finding the empty desks in their classrooms.

They were not grieving parents attending their daughters' funerals.

They did not see that quiet holocaust.

I'm old enough to remember.

And I remember the Litany of the Unnamed that I heard again and again, from other women. The haunted eyes while they told the stories in soft, anguished voices.

I remember finding out that my devout Catholic grandmother was not part of the cult. She had her own Litany of the Unnamed. There were parts of it she wouldn't tell me about.

Many years later, I recognized that same shut-down, refuse-to-talk-about it response from veterans who'd come back from a combat zone with PTSD.

Back then, there were far more levers of control to keep the conspiracy of silence and to keep the holocaust under wraps.

There were far more conscienceless cult members in positions of power who were willing to lie on death certificates and push alternative explanations for those deaths.

There was a robust infrastructure of institutions that absorbed despairing and vulnerable young women and coldly forced them to carry pregnancies to term while abusing them, shaming them, silencing them. And then taking their babies from them.

There was a mainstream media-wide collaboration with the silence and the shame and the coercion.

There were laws defining who had control over women, and it was not the women.

Banks did not allow women to open their own accounts or apply for credit. There were few avenues of escape or independence.

And a misogynist patriarchy on one hand treated their female chattels like disposable sex toys, and on the other, punished them brutally with forced birth when, with almost nonexistent access to birth control, the inevitable happened.

But that bottle has been shattered into millions of pieces and not even the most dedicated forced-birth cultists can stuff the genie back in.

Women will not stand for it.

If the holocaust starts up again, it will not be quiet this time.

They are sowing the wind.


Self-inflicted wounds add up- this one could be fatal

Here's what he ([Redacted], that is) said, at his Wisconsin pep rally last week:

“The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.”

This actually happened, Saturday night, April 27th.

I'm pretty sure that [Redacted]'s intention was just to toss a well-done chuck steak to the base in the form of the 'abortion doctors as murderers' meme that the forced-birth advocates are pushing.

There were plenty of ways he could have phrased it that would accomplish that purpose, but [Redacted]'s only talent is his rhetorical skill with flammable embroidery. That is, coming up with the words, the best words, the most incendiary words, the most emotionally-laden words, to push powerful buttons in his specific audience. Even when the actual words themselves are nothing but salad with zero factual or logical content.

He does it on the fly, instinctively, without planning or preparation, without consultation or testing. Without considering second- or third-order consequences. It is the dark gift of the demagogue, the con artist, the accomplished grifter.

So that was an "applause line" when he tossed it out to that audience of cult-addled worshippers.

Then it started getting reported, per usual, on the post-sploogefest list of "outrageous antifactual utterances from The Guy With The Nuclear Launch Codes". A long list, every time. The cumulative list would beat George RR Martin's page count. Or Gibbon's.

And therein lies the trap: Any one thing on those lists can (and often does) serve as outrage fuel for the already-outraged. But there's just so much, it dilutes the impact of any one thing. And the context of the list- "It was just pep-rally hyperbole"- provides a layer of insulation. Thus, he generally gets away with it.

This time, though, I'm not so sure.

Scroll up and read those words again.

The calculated inhuman murderous sadism he attributes to... mothers? Physicians? -is almost nauseating to contemplate. Sure, his pep-rally audience is on board with it.

And sure, the already-outraged are, predictably, outraged. By that among many other sources of horrific outrage.

But what about the people who haven't drunk his sploogefest koolaid and who haven't already spent countless hours on social media trying to gin up awareness of just how morally bankrupt he and his co-conspirators are?

The ordinary folks whose response to him, up to this point, have ranged from a mildly inattentive "He says some outrageous things but he also said some things I agree with, so BFD." to an avoidant and distasteful wish that he'd just STFU and quit tweeting, FFS. Those people.

They're reading those words. The words that explicitly state The Guy With The Nuclear Launch Codes thinks mothers and doctors calculate a kind of coldly sadistic infanticidal postpartum ritual on a regular basis.

And they're starting to respond.

And it's not good.

Anyone who's ever been touched by infant death (check the infant mortality statistics for the past fifteen years, and then think about the number of people touched by each of those deaths- parents, siblings, medical teams, counselors, and more) or who's experienced neonatal crisis and the kind of all-out mortal combat the nurses and doctors mobilize to save a child's life is seeing those words.

He thinks that about mothers (like the one(s) I know) and doctors (like the one(s) I know)?


What kind of SICK FUCK can even CONTEMPLATE that bullshit, much less say it, in public, from the bulliest pulpit our government provides?

And they're starting to realize that yes, The Guy With The Nuclear Launch Codes is THAT kind of sick fuck.

And they're not happy with the knowledge.

They're unlikely to actually do much with it, in terms of, say, demanding impeachment right this instant, or using some media/social media outlet to express their horror, or whatever. The vast majority of them will never be polled about it.

But they vote.

And I suspect the queasy, uncomfortable memory of just what kind of sick fuck is on the ballot WILL have an influence.


When I was a kid, we used to laugh at something called...

..."the National Legion of Decency".

That was okay, even in retrospect, because that organization was worthy of ridicule and laughter in its narrow-minded quest to keep "pure young minds" from being polluted by anything even vaguely suggestive of sex (and, with much less fervor, crime and violence) in movies.

That organization co-opted the term "decency" to redefine it in relation solely to anti-prurience and pro-prudery. They were the source of decades of married couples being portrayed as having "Hollywood beds" in their bedroom- matching twin beds, of course, because any suggestion- even a purely visual allusion to the possibility, of married people sharing a bed was anathema to the legion.

So for years "decency" was a term degraded and pretty much relegated to discussions of Church Lady types.

But "decency" has been making a comeback, in the last few decades. Slowly, mostly under the radar, it's been rehabilitated. It's poised on the brink of being the go-to term to describe people whose actions exemplify things like conscience, compassion, integrity, honesty, kindness, and commitment to the well-being of others, even strangers. Even people who are diverse in appearance, gender, religion, national origin, etc.

Now, like the term "wholesome", decency has taken on a whole new and even slightly subversive tone of "opposition to corrupt, debased, greedy, skeevy, hateful ideas that are trying to become cultural norms".

In other words, the anti-GOP, the alternative alt-right, the counter-sleazy.

And so, after last night's town halls, and after weeks of scrutiny of the field of Democratic Primary candidates, I should like to propose a new collective noun for that cadre:

The New Legion of Decency

By and large the women and men running for President as Democrats are as variable a bunch as you could assemble- diverse in race/ethnicity, in gender, religion, economic and social background, regional identification, etc.

But one of the things they seem to have in common is that they are almost all outstanding as decent human beings. Not just posturing baby-kissing and charity-supporting and 'take a note and get constituent support staff on that person's problem' looking good for the camera. But real, honest-to-goodness attention to the humanity of the people they run across, and commitment to helping in the simplest, most essentially human ways.

This is the most striking difference, today, between Democrats and GOPpies running for office.

When I was a lot younger you could find a good many decent human beings among GOPpies running for, and elected to, public offices. Their ideology and policies may have stunk but they were respectful of the humanity of everyone, even those who differed in opinion and party affiliation. The fixed and settled policy of the GOP was not "to dehumanize our opponents, break apart their families, crush their will to resist, and kick them to the gutter."

As it is now.

So, to oppose this, Democrats have assembled a New Legion of Decency, and I believe that decency WILL prevail.


And Again, Putin is Enjoying Himself

To Pootie-Poot, it doesn't actually matter if his stoogepoodle is getting kicked up one side and down the other by the Mueller report.

What matters to Pootie-Poot is what has always mattered to Pootie-Poot: Perdition, Distraction, Disinformation, and Division.

His goal has never really been to have any one particular stooge take power in America, or in Britain, or in the EU, or in any of the nations he regards as enemies.

He doesn't actually want any of them to collapse entirely OR to degenerate into an autocratic dictatorship. Russia isn't in a position to take advantage of any such outcomes.

He just wants to keep all of the nations he regards as enemies (and has regarded as enemies since back when he was liaising with the Stasi in East Germany and scheming his way up the ladder at the KGB) as weak, chaotic, and divided as possible.

His endgame isn't to eliminate democracy but to degrade democracy into a sham and a shadow. To discredit it slowly and manipulate it into poisoning itself from within.

His weapons aren't elaborate conspiracies and carefully-planned domino chains of specific subversions and events, but pervasive and subtle manipulation and propaganda. Social media was the ultimate gift for him to help his enemies damage themselves.

I don't believe there will EVER be a big "aha!" reveal of elaborate Russian operations and witting American stooges to subvert our government.

He is not that clumsy. He doesn't NEED to run hands-on operations that can be traced back as direct attacks.

He just needs to spread a lot of money around in iffy ways, through layers and layers of knowing and unknowing intermediaries, and keep running his social media provocation campaigns of the dumbest, greediest, meanest, most destructive human elements in each target nation, and let the results play out for themselves.

Ongoing pot-stirring from behind the veil of social media and fellow-travelling "news" and other media stooges is all that is required to keep the vicious cycle going.

And as long as we're fixated on "finding" or "exposing" a culprit or culprits to pin the blame on, in the hopeful but misguided belief that there are a few high-level, high-profile villains that can be caught and prosecuted and taken down and that will bring the trouble to an end, he keeps winning. Because while there are hundreds, even thousands, of his stooges at all levels of the GOP, they're not part of some intentional "conspiracy", they're just the dumbest, greediest, meanest elements acting on their natural impulses, enabled by a clever but formless propaganda operation and supported by the vast numbers of stooges and dupes of that same operation in the American electorate.

Until we focus, not on targeting and enacting retribution on some powerful and knowing villains within our own ranks, but on the overall strategy being applied, we'll keep falling into the same trap, and keep tearing ourselves apart.

The foofooraw about the Mueller Report is perfect for him. It's all about who did what to whom among America's Griftiest, not about how Putin played us, and is still playing us, on a grand scale, and how to stop that.


This Believer's Choice: Spiritual Discipline versus Doctrinal Orthodoxy

I believe there exists a power, spiritual in nature, greater than my sensorium enables me to fully comprehend or even describe, and this Power I choose to call Divine.

The most interesting, important, and fulfilling aspect of my life is exploring the nature of this Power through every means I can employ, and consciously making myself into the image and expression of this Power as my understanding evolves.

I think that's about the only thing I, as a believer, have in common with those who profess various religious faiths: We all desire to express That Which is Divine in how we live, how we act, and the choices we make.

The differences begin where doctrinal orthodoxy stands.

I cannot believe that the Divine Source, as I understand a Power invested in a creation vast and complex beyond the ability of human comprehension, gives a rat's ass what I wear.

Or what I eat.

Or what words I use in my attempts to connect with Divinity.

Or even what I call it- Divinity, Power Greater, Presence, etc.

Or who I marry.

One of the hardest challenges for me over the years, as I've sought to explore the nature of the Divine, has been finding ways to integrate understanding of the Infinite into a finite awareness. It's all very well to say that the Divine is All, and All is Divine, etc., but acknowledging the infinity of the divine landscape still leaves me, as an individual believer with the question of just how much, and in which directions, I can map that landscape.

For me, the response to that challenge has come in the form of spiritual disciplines- self-imposed requirements and boundaries that reveal smaller areas of the landscape in greater detail. And, incidentally, act a bit like physical disciplines in terms of building skills and strengths.

Some of these disciplines have been part of my life for decades. Others have been embraced for a period, then discarded. I try to find new and deeper ways to map the divine landscape and expand my understanding on a regular basis.

I am not describing any of them. They work for me, or not. It's an individual thing. A personal thing between me and the divine Source of my being. Some of them would look quite orthodox to a person who professes one or another religious doctrine.

But I don't practice those disciplines because of any doctrine, nor yet because I believe the Power Greater than my comprehension "wants" me to practice them.

I practice them because they increase my sense of connection with the Divine, and/or they help me express That Which is Divine in my own life. No other reason or purpose. And only I, and my awareness of, and love for, the Power Greater that moves me, can judge the success of my efforts.

This is frustrating. There is no human spiritual authority that can validate my efforts, and sometimes I wish there was.

Sometimes I wish the Divine came with an instruction manual, and all I need to do is follow it.

But my understanding is that there are as many instruction manuals as there are believers who share my striving towards Divine expression, and while some parts of every other instruction manual may illuminate my quest, none of them is "my" instruction manual. I, and my Divine Source, have the lifelong task of compiling my own, by every means we can.

Which means study of, and borrowings from, others' manuals, including testing of what does and doesn't work in each one examined, in the context of my understanding and my circumstances in connection with That Which is divine. And the embrace of various practices of spiritual discipline. And the constant review of what we've already compiled, with constant amendments, reworkings, and glosses.

It's not easy.

And I'm not very good at it.

In fact, I'm pretty lousy at it.

But that awareness helps me understand the choice of believers who embrace doctrinal orthodoxy. It's a bit like addiction treatment and successful recovery-- some things seem to work pretty well for many if not most of those who aspire thereto, and that may be enough.

Me, I keep trying.

In the faith that whether at some point the "I" who is me here and now ever gets to step back and see a bigger part of the Divine Landscape or not, it's still worth doing.

And in the certainty that I am not alone.


Dear Terrified White Dudes: Your Strategy Needs an Update

I know it's hard to climb out of that barge on the ol' Egyptian river, but seriously, denial ain't gonna help. Start with this: The demographic Point of No Return was passed many, many years ago.

No matter how hard you try to keep any NEW brown people from entering the country, at some point within the next couple of generations, there will be more brown people than white people here.

One more important thing to note: Trying to hang onto all the power, all the wealth, and all the control when you're a diminishing minority in the greater population hasn't worked out awfully well over the last few centuries. Starting with France in the 18th Century, and most recently in South Africa, one way or another the majority will tip the balance back, and you'll have to cope.

If you're lucky, the model will be much more like South Africa and much less like 18th-Century France.

So here's a suggestion for a new strategy:

When you're about to become a minority, maybe... just maybe... ensuring that the rights of minorities are vigorously protected in law and economic practice would be a hella smart strategy!

Think about it, white dudes.

Instead of trying to deny minorities the right to vote, you might want to ensure strong protections for everyone's access to the ballot, because one day, it might be YOUR neighborhoods that get left off the "where we put polling places" map.

Instead of trying to restrict access to the best educational opportunities, you might want to guarantee that the admissions process can't be gamed by privilege.

Instead of making it easy for economic predators to practice usury, extortion, and confiscation in minority communities, you might want to codify economic justice for all, now while you still can.

Instead of allowing industrial polluters a free pass to make places where minorities live as toxic and unlivable as possible, you might want to give the notion of environmental justice a little support.

You want to ensure a better future for your children and grandchildren when they are a minority in America? Then make America a place where minorities have the fullest possible equity.

I can think of no better, more effective, more powerful strategy to secure the existence of white people and a future for white children, than by securing the existence of ALL minorities and the future of ALL children.

Just sayin'...

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