Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I Believe In Politicizing Tragedy

As many of you know I'm a liberal. So one of my favorite things to do - when I'm not burning American flags and downvoting YouTube videos of Lee Greenwood - is politicize tragedy. I love exploiting horror and suffering for political gain. You show me some awful festival of death that just happened, and the first thing I want to do is hook this on the Republicans. It feels like discovering that the National has a new album coming out. Mwah. Perfect.

I used to feel guilty about my habit, but I don't anymore. I'm proud of politicizing tragedy, and I want to invite you to join me. Many tragedies should be politicized, because many tragedies could have been prevented with the right policies.

When someone walks into a school or a movie theater and murders a crowd with an assault rifle or a powerful handgun, it's time to remind the country that one party is trying to regulate gun sales, and the other is doing everything they can to sabotage action.

When an intense storm kills people and wrecks infrastructure, we should point out that one party accepts the scientific consensus about the dangers of global warming, and the other denies it because the oil lobby owns its politicians.

And whenever someone murders a person because of their race, their gender, or their sexual orientation, it's appropriate - no, it's a duty - to make sure everyone remembers that one party is full of people who have spent decades catering to bigots, opposing legislation that might provide justice and relief, and mocking those who are different from their idea of a citizen.

One side of the political fence believes that the government can make laws and regulations to bring greater safety and dignity to the lives of millions. One side of the political fence believes that this is actually why we have government in the first place. The other side wants to posture and rant and jam up the gears so nothing gets done, because they really do believe anything government does will be evil.

We're going to face mind-bending challenges in the next hundred years. We're going to need government to do things. And it's simply not an acceptable response to try to sabotage it at every decision point.

So you're goddamn right I'm going to politicize tragedy. It would be irresponsible not to.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Frankly Curious" Has Been Writing Some Great Posts About Global Warming

Awhile back I spotlighted the blog "Frankly Curious," whose writer is a climate change scientist. Frank Moraes has been busy on the subject of global warming lately, and you should check out the result.

His most recent post is about India's plan to cut its emissions:

First it was China. And this last week, India Unveils Climate Change Plan. So now the first and third biggest greenhouse gas polluters have come out with plans to cut their emissions. In case you were wondering, we are now number two. But when it comes to per capita greenhouse emissions, we are still number one!

As you can expect people in the GOP have been using pollution by India and China as an excuse to do nothing. But that excuse is thinning.

Moraes also wrote a post about how Exxon's own scientists uncovered evidence of climate change years ago, but the company has pushed back against this in a way that's reminiscent of the tobacco industry. He has a pile of great links in these pieces, and his personal experience with this stuff is disturbing and fascinating.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Kim Davis's Lawyers Started The "Death Panels" Myth... And Other Tales

The attorneys who represent Kim Davis - and made all those claims about her meeting with the pope - gave Sarah Palin her "death panel" talking points a few years ago, according to the Institute For Southern Studies. They're "part of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University empire," and they have a whole history of bending the truth to the breaking point.

Below is a roundup of quotes and links.

"[I]t seems that Davis’ lawyers attempt to paint Pope Francis as a Davis supporter has forced the Vatican to issue a statement claiming that the encounter between the pope and Davis has been greatly exaggerated, as she was one of dozens of people who met the pope only briefly at a stop in Washington, D.C." - Right Wing Watch

"On 25 September 2015, Mat Staver (Founder and Chair of Liberty Counsel, the legal organization representing Kim Davis) spoke at the 2015 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. In the course of his remarks, Staver described a purported groundswell of support for Davis both inside the United States and elsewhere. To bolster his claim, Staver pointed to an image displayed on large screens during his speech labeled 'Lima, Peru Prayer Meeting for Kim Davis'..." - Snopes

"The conservative, Christian law firm representing defiant Kentucky clerk Kim Davis admitted late Monday that a photo it circulated of a Peruvian prayer rally in solidarity with its client was actually a photo of another event entirely." - Talking Points Memo

"The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Liberty Counsel as an anti-gay hate groups for spreading false information." - ABC News

"Created in 1989, Liberty Counsel is affiliated with Liberty University Law School in Lynchburg, Va., a legacy of the late conservative icon Jerry Falwell. It was founded and is still chaired by Mathew (Mat) Staver, who also serves as director of the Liberty Center for Law and Policy at Liberty University, and provides legal assistance with regard to religious liberty, abortion and the family." -SPLC

"During the 2008 Wall Street meltdown, Staver said that the failure of two of the country’s biggest banks, Washington Mutual and Wachovia, was a price they had to pay for supporting gay marriage: 'Washington Mutual and Wachovia, both of which actively promoted the homosexual agenda, have come to realize that anti-family policies will bankrupt the bottom line.'” - Right Wing Watch

"Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver asked listeners to pray for his client Kim Davis because she is supposedly receiving vile death threats from the hosts of the television show 'The View'... UPDATE: Liberty Counsel has informed us that Staver was mistaken and has issued a correction." - Right Wing Watch

"[D]espite the fact that reparative therapy has been discredited by science, in 2006 the LC launched its 'Change is Possible' campaign, to educate youth that 'unwanted same-sex attractions can be overcome.' Railing against society-threatening values like diversity and tolerance, the LC encouraged students to start Gay to Straight Clubs on their campuses, and to ask faculty to include 'the ex-gay viewpoint' in all discussions of homosexuality." - The Daily Beast

"So we squared off Mat Staver, a creationist who heads the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel and a leading proponent of teaching intelligent design in public schools..." - Orlando Weekly


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Let's Make America Great Again

We have to close the borders, so we can be safe.
And we have to hunt down the illegals.
We need to ship them back to where they came from.
We can't take chances.
Send their kids back too.
I know their kids are citizens, but not really.
We'll never be able to trust them. Not really.
We don't know their loyalties.
We don't know anyone's loyalties.
And we need to watch people with those different religions, those weird religions.
We shouldn't vote for them.
We shouldn't let them just go where they want.
You'd like them to just go where they want?
You're not scared? Honestly?

We need to let police protect us.
I don't like people who criticize the cops.
I don't trust people who criticize the military.
They're going after the bad guys,
even if they have to break rules sometimes.
Even if they have to snoop a little,
because if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't worry about what they're doing.
If you've done nothing wrong, you're not going to get hurt.
(I just don't want to get hurt.)

So we need walls and locks and guns.
We need monitors,
tracking systems everywhere,
for people who aren't like us.
And overseas, aircraft, secret teams, missile strikes.
Sure, people might die, but
(Just don't tell us.)
we can't be nice.
(Don't tell us about it.)
We can't afford to be nice anymore.
And anyway, I don't know them.
(Don't tell us anything.)
And anyway, I don't want to get hurt.

How do you protect a country?
You make sure
everyone is watching everyone else.

That's how you make America great again.
That's how you defend
our freedom.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Note To All The Future Mass Killers

You're kind of blending in with each other.

It's a terrible statement about how screwed up our national culture is, of course. And it's a terrible statement about the lack of good gun control laws in our country. But it's also a statement about the nature of the fame you're going to achieve if you do this.

I can't really remember too many of the details about who you are. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I can call up the first and last names of the guys who perpetrated the Columbine massacre. I can call up the name of the person who killed the reporter and her cameraman - but that's because he's recent. I can picture the face of the guy who shot Gabby Giffords and also the face of the man who shot up that movie theater.

The others are a jumble of locations and trivia in my head. The shooter at Virginia Tech was obsessed with that movie. The kid who shot those sorority women made that pathetic video of himself. The guy who killed those children at the elementary school was mentally or emotionally impaired in some way. I don't remember exactly how - some people used the term "autism," but I don't think it was true.

I could look up all these people and all these facts, sure. But why? There are so many more of them coming. Too many more to count. You're going to be part of the great ugly blur. You'll be dead or locked away, and you won't be remembered. The TV people and the web people will put you through their little machine, turn the crank handle a few times, and then we're all going to move on to whatever stupid thing Congress is doing.

Killing people is wrong and killing people is mean and killing people is stupid. But killing people is also boring. We have an entire culture wrapped around the idea of ending the lives of others. It permeates our history, it's one of our largest industries, and it's in all the movies. You will be doing nothing noteworthy or original. You'll be a minor character in the latest season of a show that should have ended a long time ago. You'll be participating in the system you probably hate. It will be your way of giving up, and so you'll be forgotten.

Right now in America, acts of kindness and basic decency are the most radical things you could do. People who realize this are going to be remembered. Everyone else will get their spot on CNN and be gone by the end of the commercial break.

Friday, October 2, 2015

We Have Video Of The Meeting Between Kim Davis And Pope Francis!

Ms. Davis told the pontiff that she was a big supporter of his work.

 Later, they discussed her controversial situation...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Will The Russians Thwart The Unimaginable Clusterfuck We're Trying To Achieve In Syria?

The news that the Russian military is carrying out airstrikes in Syria disturbs me, and it should disturb any loyal citizen. These actions threaten to block the unimaginable clusterfuck we're trying to create there.

Now, no one is arguing that Syria isn't already a gruesome human rights disaster. Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering and dying. The flood of refugees is causing chaos all over the region. But our policy is to turn this grim situation into a uniquely American clusterfuck - and the Russians might prevent that.

Putin and his administration claim that they're only targeting terrorist groups, but we know better. They've clearly launched attacks at the shadowy operatives our CIA is arming and training. US policymakers need these groups to make our intelligence analysts look like idiots when they inevitably betray us and help destabilize the country for decades to come so that thousands of militants have a place to set up shop and begin planning to take down the next national landmark. Are we seriously going to let the Russians stop all this?

Of course there's still plenty we can do: We can help resettle refugees and use diplomatic pressure to curb atrocities. We can give increased aid to relief organizations and even join the International Criminal Court, so that it will have more power to threaten war criminals with prosecution. But none of that helps us get to our goal of toppling a brutal regime and aiding an assortment of combatants in the melee that follows to escalate the situation into a magnificently hideous clusterfuck that people will blame on the US forever.

We need to stand up to Putin and communicate loudly and clearly that inciting violence and smashing political institutions throughout the Middle East is our duty and our right. If anyone is going to send a bunch of their own kids to get shot to pieces over a conflict none of the policymakers understand, that's going to be us.

Don't let him take our clusterfuck away. The day he does that, he's welcome to all the other clusterfucks in the area - maybe even the world. And then where will we be?
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