Archive for March, 2014

Because Noah I Was Such a Success

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Quote of the Day

I assumed that after 70 people were shot in a movie theater and then just a few months later 20 first-graders were murdered with an assault rifle in an elementary school, that the absurd gun laws in this country would change, but nothing has happened.” […] “The gun lobby in America, led by the NRA, has bullied this nation’s politicians into cowardly silence. Even when 20 young children are blown away in their classrooms. […] More guns doesn’t mean less crime, as the NRA repeatedly tries to tell you. It means more gun violence, more death and more profits for the gun manufacturers.”

Piers Morgan, on his last day at CNN, where he was bullied and fired from his job thanks to the NRA and gun lobbyists who did not like the all too sane message about the terrible gun industry and gun culture that he was delivering.

Great America. Now go hire some conformist, gun aficionado in collaboration with the NRA so that we may have more Sandy Hooks and Aurora, Colorado mass shootings.  Twenty children were brutally massacred because guns have become ubiquitous symbols of our landscape but that was not enough of a wake-up call for our cowardly politicians and so-called leaders as clearly there are more children and innocent bystanders to be massacred so that some greedy jingoists with a nervous trigger-finger and paranoia about some government take-over and end-of-times scenario can distribute and carry more guns.

Women cannot get abortions because aborting a fetus is murder and life is scared blah blah blah but the same people who make the argument about valuing life have no problem seeing guns distributed to every man, woman and child so they may take lives at any time under the auspices of  “self defense” of course, while those who die innocently, such as the children in the Sandy Hook shooting are brushed off and pitied as unfortunate victims of everything, but guns.

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The Mechanisms of Gender Inequality in Health Care

Do you suffer from erectile dysfunction? Do you have a hard time getting hard and good? Do you need a penis pump, also known as a “vacuum erection device” because you cannot go the pill route? (something which can also, quite conveniently, serve as a masturbatory aide. *wink*). Do you maybe need a penile implant because pharmaceuticals and penis pumps cannot get you hard and good? Are you done with having kids or simply do not wish to go down that route and need a vasectomy?

Well, worry no more as all of these procedures are covered by health-insurance, no questions asked- in case you missed that in all the cacophony surrounding  the things that health insurance should not cover (or does not cover) for women, such as birth-control and abortions. Some of them, such as the penis pump, are even covered by your handy Medicare.

If, as a man, you did not know that these items, devices and procedures are covered by most private insurances (and Medicare) then, quite frankly, I don’t blame you. After all, what reason would you have to question a society that so perfectly suits your needs?

Where your mere sex does not render you a ‘liability”, a “pre-existing condition” as far as insurance and access to medical care is concerned?

A society where you get to make your own health care decisions (within the confines of privately-run health-care schemes) for yourself without entities such as employers, a dusty clergy and legislators constantly feeling like they are entitled to step in and make those decisions for you, thus taking away autonomy over your own body and, crucially, the freedom of choice with regard to what you want to do with that body.

You don’t have to worry about someone questioning or taking away your choices, treating you like some object for which and over which others can make decisions as opposed to treating you like an autonomous, rights-bearing human being deserving of full equality.

As a man, your autonomy, agency, and the ability to consent—as your  own best decision-maker, your own best advocate, and your own best protector – are respected and never questioned.  You are born into a world in which your humanity, agency, dignity and autonomy are not in question – both philosophically and legally.

You don’t navigate a world in which everyone believes that policing your body and reproduction is an acceptable recreation. You don’t have to navigate the institutional misogyny that underlies the anti-choice movement where everything about it serves the interests of those who want to limit choice, and those who want to marginalize women.

While religious employers are choking to death at the idea of having to “pay” for a female employee’s birth control pills or, flying spaghetti monsters forbid, abortion, arguing that doing so would somehow compromise their delicate morals and religious convictions, they have no problem shelling out money to make sure you get to have an erection and a penis pump and penile implants and so on so you can fuck a woman, get her pregnant and make her have all the babies she may or may not want. That is irrelevant.

Even the government, even Medicare, is more than willing to pay for penis pumps and no one ever questions why tax-payers have to pay thousands of dollars to make sure a man can have an erection.

Your employer, the government, the clergy, some suit sitting at a mahogany desk in Washington do not have a problem tasking insurance companies to pay for a vasectomy that results in all these babies they all love so much to not be born.

Of course not. Those things are not an issue. They have not been an issue in major court proceedings, at state legislatures, with employers, insurance companies or even in the media and the public. In fact, it is a non-issue. As women’s reproductive choices are being eroded one by one, step by step, the national debate centers about the same few garbage notions about the alleged “rights” of fetuses, morality and god.  Be it Republicans or Democrats, ultimately it is about making women bargain away autonomy over their bodies to whoever feels entitled to them – in some sort of a insincere, deceitful “both sides have a point” false equivalency argument. As if people with uteri somehow owed the world control over some significant function of their body

No one talks about the duplicity inherent in the national debate we have on women’s agency where one group is systematically robbed of personal autonomy because another believes that they can make, and are entitled to make, better decisions for you than you can for yourself.

As a man, you get to make decisions about your sexual and reproductive health for yourself without anyone questioning their necessity, cost, or even morality.

Your personhood is not subject to inescapable, incessant and insistent debate. You are not made to feel that you are nothing if you don’t use your body to have children, where you are merely seen as a uterus with some vague female parts attached in service to its reproductive capacity.

 Women, on the other hand, have to stand by and let everyone decide on those things for them, everyone but the woman herself.

It is terrible to have to navigate a world in which you, as a woman, are made to feel that you deserve less respect,  less dignity, less autonomy, less opportunity, less agency, less voice, less ownership of self and ultimately less of your humanity.

A world in which you have to negotiate away the concept of absolute autonomy over your body to accommodate, please or else appease some privileged class/entity – be it a man or a church or whatever other institutions out there that believe they are entitled to make decisions about your own life and your body, for you.

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Giants Unite To Shove Dangerous Pollutant Down Poor People’s Throats

In a massive whitewashing campaign of the most callous kind, Peabody Energy Corp., the world’s largest private-sector coal company, launched a public relations and advertising campaign last month extolling the virtues of coal energy for poor people.

A Peabody press release announcing the campaign, called Advanced Energy for Life, argues that lack of access to energy is “the world’s number one human and environmental crisis.”

Peabody’s proposal to solve this crisis? Asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop setting pollution limits on coal-fired power plants. Those pollution rules are meant to address climate change caused by greenhouse-gas emissions, a global problem that has the . Burning coal generates carbon emissions as well as hazardous pollutants such as mercury, lead, and benzene, .greatest effect on poor countries according to the American Lung Association

Burson-Marsteller, the world’s largest PR firm, and its subsidiary, Proof Integrated Communications, are working behind the scenes on Peabody’s PR effort. Burson-Marsteller spokesman Paul Cordasco confirmed to The Huffington Post that the company is working on behalf of Peabody. Peabody spokeswoman Beth Sutton said “Burson-Marsteller and several other firms are providing support for the campaign.”

Burson-Marsteller has a long history of working on PR campaigns that downplay or contradict established health concerns. The Guardian has described Burson-Marsteller as “the company that governments with poor human rights records and corporations in trouble with environmentalists have turned to when in crisis.”

The firm worked for Union Carbide after its poison gas disaster in Bhopal, India, killed 3,800 people in 1984. It has also worked on behalf of governments accused of human rights abuses, including Nigeria and Indonesia.

Environmental groups said Burson-Marsteller’s role in Peabody’s campaign isn’t surprising:

Burson-Marstellar has spent decades working for some of the world’s worst perpetrators of human rights and environmental abuses,” said Kert Davies, director of the Climate Investigations Center. “So Burson-Marsteller are well suited to help Peabody push dirty coal to the world’s poorest people, at a time when everyone from the World Bank to the U.N. are warning us climate change will hit the poor first, and hardest.”

But, let us keep voting against government regulation of such things because they are so bad and socialist and take away our god-given freedoms as Americans (to be exploited…) blah blah blah yawn.

Yes, the government giving money to people so they can eat is a hand-outs and a giant waste of taxpayer money. And the government enacting policies and regulations that protect the air you breathe, the water you ingest, and the food you eat is, at best, nothing of value—and, at worst, a job-killing regulation that impedes the success of people who want to get rich dumping toxic waste into the ground, in the air and soil, food and water where people getting hand-outs live. Let them eat toxic-waste laced bootstraps.

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Consequences of Apathy

The Huffington Post, every now and then as part of a PSA or something, dedicates a post to the “Faces of Drugs Arrests” – supported by Rehabs.com as a follow up to its anti-methamphetamine campaign “Horrors of Meth.”

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“Faces of Drug Arrests,” is a series of shocking images, depicting the decline of different “suspects” (suspects of what? drug abuse?)  physical appearance over the years via their mugshots. The individuals shown were all arrested for drug and drug-related offenses involving meth, heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs.

The ugliest thing about this post is not so much the ravaged faces of these drug addicts, but the comments section of the Huffington Post where people admonish these individuals as “disgusting” beings who hopefully never have kids.

One commentator, who neither knows any of these individuals or their stories and backgrounds and thus their experiences and how they came to be where they are, writes quite presumptuously that “they no longer care where they are or whether they’re about to die.

Others casually “other” the people depicted in the images, commenting on how “irresponsible” it is of them, especially when “these people” have children of their own.

One reader had the following to say “There’s NO REASON for anyone to continue to abuse themselves to this extent – help is readily available pretty much everywhere. These types of addicts just don’t want to take the effort necessary to clean themselves up. Yes, I know that’s not the case with some addicts, but in these cases…..?” 

“They are disgusting.”

“They are irresponsible.”

“They don’t care.”

“They don’t want to make the effort.”

Yes, because clearly mentally healthy, stable people enjoy becoming emotional and physical wrecks as a result of heavy drug use. Because, thank the spaghetti monsters that be, drug addiction is not a disease at all.

No one in these comments has even noted the fact that these are mug shots taken from arrests, as in these people whom everyone is summarily dismissing, judging and spitting on as disgusting, irresponsible, worthless wrecks have been criminally persecuted and incarcerated for their drug use.

And neither does anyone – neither the HP article nor the commentators – find it either problematic or acknowledge the fact that drug addiction is an illness that requires medical treatment of those who are using drugs, instead of criminal retribution.

No one is wondering, or is the least bit bothered, that instead of health and treatment these people are being treated to prison instead. “Hell [typo and I am keeping it there] Help is readily available” one commentator casually states. When in reality, no actually, help is not readily available.

The fact that these people have been booked and charged with a crime instead of being sent to rehabilitation to treat their illness should have given you a clue. That, and that in this country trying to get insurance companies to pay for meaningful drug rehabilitation programs is almost impossible, not to mention that government-run rehab programs, as far as they do exist, are terribly funded, ineffective and hard to get into.

So no, it is not “readily available.” Where have these people been? Canada? Germany?

Most importantly, there is a human being behind every mug shot depicted in this PSA; a human being with their own life’s stories, paths and trajectories. No one knows what has taken place in their lives leading them to resort to drug use and the addiction that comes from it. To judge them as if one did is mendacious.

Sending someone who suffers from the disease of addiction to jail is no different than incarcerating someone suffering from cancer or Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

Moreover, since low-income and/or racial minorities are disproportionately incarcerated for drug use, this undertaking has, essentially, become another way of criminalizing the poor for being poor.

Now what if all the taxpayer money that’s used arresting, processing, trying, probably public defending and jailing drug addicts  were instead used toward social programs that would support such people in the first place? What if instead of jail time, we offered help? How about trying to find out what those ills were that got them into heavy drug use in the first place, instead of making this ridiculous, callous assumption that they are there because they enjoy being there, because they made that choice and because they devalue their lives?

Although I do wonder how people who have been outcast and thrown away by society as disgusting, irresponsible worthless wrecks are going to “love themselves.”

People in this country tend to criticize “government hand-outs” and talk about the social safety net like it’s a giant waste of taxpayer money—a “wealth redistribution program” to steal rich folks’ money and give it to the poor. And they do not see the moral failing in such an argument because the same people that talk about social safety net programs as being a waste of money have no problem seeing that very money be used to send sick people to jail (or support defense contractors, oil companies, corporations, banks and the wealthy in the form of tax exemptions etc).

Unworthy of Help

The thinking that one needs additional negative consequences for harming one-self assumes that whatever situation one finds one-self in is not sufficient consequences. Even if someone is in an incredibly terrible situation of their “own making” (which is an extreme oversimplification as no one lives in a vacuum)  somehow that’s not enough punishment in and of itself.

The thing I truly abhor about this kind of rhetoric and way of thinking is that even if, given the same set of circumstances, I or Joe Green over there, would have emerged differently than someone else: So what? Different people are different.

And even in cases where someone is in a terrible situation because of their own making and bad choices: So what? Why is that justification to not help them?

I fully understand the value of consequences for harming others. I will, however, never understand the alleged value of consequences for harming oneself.

This calculated, cultivated lack of empathy in our society for anyone who isn’t successful, healthy, wealthy and “wise”, is very disconcerting and quite visible in the face of every person in these mug-shots.

Love, empathy and compassion are necessities if we are going to make it as a peoples and nation. They are not luxuries.

I wish people who just casually judged, blamed and dismissed a person in peril like that, praying self righteously to their “God” that the drug addicts in the mugshots may not have any children, would, instead, pray to their “God” that these people who are undoubtedly suffering, get the help they need – which would necessitate voting for programs that aide such people as opposed to voting for policies and politicians that do everything they can to dismantle the programs that aide these people.

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Things To Regulate

Nothing gets a Conservative’s juices flowing harder than government regulation and a social safety net. The anti-Christ himself could not have been a worse nemesis than regulation. Not being able to subjugate, abuse, pollute, steal or else abuse people and the environment at will cuts into profits, so naturally greedy, church-going, amoral Conservatives cannot have that.

But a woman’s uterus? Yes, that needs to be regulated. Regulate it long, regulate it hard, regulate it deep. In fact, for Conservatives, the words “regulate” and “women” go together like a wink and a smile. Or maybe like an ultrasound and a vagina?

Do you have binders full of women that need regulating? Then you will be hard pressed to not find a Conservative who is more than willing to step in and regulate them for you. Conservatives will not vote for such things as, oh I don’t know,  free daycare offered by the government so that mothers can work and pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but they will vote for the government forcing women to have as many children as possible.

They will not vote for stricter regulation of air and water pollutants but they will make sure that a lot of children are born to parents who live in areas with some of the nation;’s worst air and water pollution.

See how being pro-life works?

Yeah, duplicity is a highly traded Conservative value with institutions couched in colorful myths and ardent sentiment to conceal bigotry, intolerance, greed and misogyny.

things t oregulate

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Just Like Jesus Would Do

“I have been called names, threatened, hated on and all manner of ridiculed because of my atheist activism, but I think sitting in a bank and having another professional refuse to do business with me because I am an atheist was the worst slight I have ever received.”

Amanda Knief, Managing Director of –American Atheists, Inc. who was refused notary service at a TD bank in Cranford, NJ because of her atheist affiliation.

Yup, just like Jesus would do.

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