Tag Archives: progressive

Curry Fights Global Warming

Cow farts: I remember the lesson clearly. My high school chemistry teacher was explaining global warming and the hole in the ozone and blamed some of it on cow and termite farts. We all got a good laugh and couldn’t decide if he was serious or not. Apparently he was. According to the EPA, methane traps 20 times the heat that carbon dioxide does, which heats up the atmosphere. The farts of cows, swine, and yes, termites, are a major contributor to the world’s methane, this article puts it at 28%. That’s a lot of flatulence. I know, I know, one more thing to worry about – but wait, there’s hope on the horizon…it’s curry. Continue reading

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Life Begins When?

Abortion is such a polarizing issue and hard to talk about with those that disagree. Leave it to the funny people with John Stewart to add some levity while making a point. At issue is the recent bill in the Oklahoma state senate that passed declaring that life begins at conception. The implications of this bill obviously would relate to abortion and birth control laws. Most women don’t know the moment that they become pregnant, so this bill covers something happening inside of women’s bodies that a woman is likely still unaware of. Several female state lawmakers have proposed bills in response to this far reaching legislation and the imposition it means for women. In Oklahoma a bill was put forth that got some men a little miffed.

Check out the video: Bro-Choice.

Go ahead, I’ll wait (the video is not compatible with this format, so I couldn’t provide it here, but it’s really funny so take a few minutes to watch).

It is funny hearing a Republican representative making the argument for men that is made for women when talking about personal liberty and privacy. The “investigative” comedian is hilarious and gives us a chance to laugh at ourselves.

Truly the jesters are the only ones who can tell the truth, point out the obvious, and mock the stalwarts and get away with it.  One unspoken value of America is our comedy. We’ve got all varieties and a whole lot of it isn’t funny, but it takes all kinds. Laughing together, at ourselves is one link to our shared humanity. Thanks to the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, SNL, and lots of others for bringing us together for a giggle. Long live the jesters!

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Greed is not Good (or God)

Graphic of socialism's "takeover" of the market by The Atlantic.

In America, the cheerleaders of capitalism are happy with the socialist measures and regulations that protect them – like the police that protects their property, the legal system that supports their contracts, the infrastructure that educates their employees, the roads that allow their products to be shipped, the water quality they process with, the airwaves that deliver their commercials, the subsidization of business, the inspections that protect their goods from tainted goods, the military that (literally) fights for them, the public clean up of their pollution, the people dealing with health complications from their poisons, the fire departments that will assist them – then any measures that smack of socialism that do not further their money making or power status are demonized. “Socialist!”, is the current red scare tactic.

Mortgage companies, banks, retailers, service businesses, Wall Street, Ayn Rand, Republicans and conservatives all line up behind the same idea – the idea that the consumer will protect their own interest in financial matters. This principle is pretty much the only imposed moral in the capitalist system – that everyone looks out for themselves and it is a dog eat dog world. It follows a supposed economic law that matches the natural law “of the jungle” – which is kill or be killed (for a visual illustration you can see a video here in a post). If everyone started with the same opportunities, this principle would work better – and everyone will never have the same opportunities – but there is a more serious failure of logic in this basic principle. Gaining money is not the same as surviving, humanity does not figure into the capitalist equation.

In true natural law, some very basic animalistic impulses are in operation – fight or flight insticts, the need for food and water, the need to rear and protect our young, the need for shelter, and conserving energy to insure completion of all of the above before any other activities. Every mammal on the planet acts on these survival principles, humans included. While money may be one method to secure basic survival, it is not always the most efficient means. All of the above survival needs can be met in ways that do not involve money. As we are seeing in the recent upsurge of homesteading and wilderness survival skills popularity, food, shelter and water can be gained without monetary transactions taking place. Bartering can figure in to many goods and services. Co-operatives can be formed that may be comprised of many resources in which money is only one of them. Capitalists cheerleaders operate on the principle that our desire to accumulate money will provide all the regulation needed to keep our capitalist system honest. Obviously they are wrong.

The disasters that capitalism create, especially as legalese and complexities of format escalate, are massive. The mortgage crisis, the banking bailouts, the World Bank, the IMF, oil speculation, Wall Street bonuses rewarding failure, massive layoffs – these are all examples of how capitalism fails humanity (and the list could go on).

Exercise is needed for all of us to survive, if we don’t move around, we atropy and get sick (not to mention that we would then need help getting sustenance). Some of us humans are excellent at exercising: we may be natural athletes, choose to train, have an active lifestyle, or become fit as a by product of a life of survival. Some of us humans are very bad at getting exercise: we may have a sedentary lifestyle, have a poor diet which hinders energy/movement, hate exercise, or be injured/ill. Imagine for a moment if physical fitness was substituted for economic fitness, and Wall Street bonuses were distributed according to physical fitness tests, how unfair that might seem to those with extra poundage, or asthma, or disabilities. Ironically physical fitness is actually much more tied to our literal survival than accumulating numbers in an account.

Very few of us have trained to be elite economists or have the natural ability to be masterful with our finances. Most of us have only taken high school level consumer education (if that) and almost none of us are educated in the legal acrobatics involved in “creative” mortgages or finances. Like the exercise metaphor, most of us do the minimum amount of effort required to keep things running smoothly – that actually applies to pretty much everything that isn’t a personal passion. Only those with a passion for capitalism do well in a capitalist system.

Lots of folks would apparently rather gaze lovingly at a pile of cash than go to a little league game, they’d rather count their coins than help a friend in need, they don’t see the point of having a rich life when they could simply be rich – they’re the Hoarding Horde. For them, greed is good, greed is God. There is no calling in life above making money and they have no sympathy for those of us that have to prioritize things – like the survival of our family – to be more important than figuring out the latest tricks of the marketplace. They have convinced themselves and been supported with the likes of Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan, and the Republican leadership that holds up economic Darwinism as a model. If they can’t see or accept that a purely capitalist system is extremely cold hearted (foolish babies would rather eat a quarter than spend it), they might need to join the ranks of the other sociopaths that are screwing the world up for the rest of us (which I wrote about here).

America is already a mix of socialism and capitalism. It is American to regulate, it is American to tax, it is American to care about those around us, it is American to succeed through your own work – all of these ideas can live together in harmony. We can tolerate those bits that aren’t our favorites – like paying taxes or keeping social programs we don’t use – because they come in the parcel that is America and it means we have the freedom and liberty to do some other things we really like. When one idea gains too much power and acts as an authoritarian force, we stop acting like America. Right now the capitalist forces are in power – Republicans are proud of it, Dems try to hide their ties, but the capitalists are winning. Because capitalists are on top, they use their position to cry “socialist!” at the slightest suggestion of collective negotiating power.

It’s time to stop. Socialism is not a bad word, democratic socialism means putting policies in place due to the wishes of the people, not a dictator. As George W. Bush lamented several times, the Presidency is not a dictatorship, and even if the President wanted to command us to implement socialism, our political system does not work that way. Governing policies must make their way through Congress which implies a tacit approval from the people.

Some of us have better things to do than fuss over money; we just need to make sure the bills are paid so that we may continue with what really counts for us. A different economic class of people choose to manipulate other people’s money and the rules surrounding them so that they can rake in more for themselves. The people in group A don’t want to be like the people of group B and it is pretty callous to insist that they should rearrange their priorities in order to “make it”, that is in order to have a decent job, shelter, and a nurturant environment for our families.  That is why the concept of the living wage was developed, so we could have an understanding of what is decent in our capitalist society, because “the market” doesn’t care about hunger, shelter, sickness, or families. Money in the bank is not the same as a full, rich and virtuous life; choosing a life that does not focus on money does not make you unAmerican or immoral; it makes you human.

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Moral Order Frames (or How Conservatives Think)

We may identify with conservatives or liberals due to our identities – sometimes being labeled one or the other is more popular or convenient at any given moment – but we are not always aware of how we process information. Any self identified liberal (or conservative) might use a cognitive process that uses the conservative hierarchy or liberal principles of equal opportunity at any time – we all can be prompted to understand the other moral order, there is a logic to both ways. No self identified progressive or liberal uses the “liberal” moral order 100%. As mentioned yesterday, even Ayn Rand, a demi-god in the conservative movement, was an immigrant (some say illegal) that ended up using our  Medicare and Social Security that she so hated. Go figure.

Just because we hold an ideology in high regard does not mean our brains actually use that ideology to process information.

Adam Strange down at The Young Turks has created a video that illustrates the moral order cognitive processes of the two – very different – ideologies. The video promotes The Young Turks in a funny/sensational way toward the end, but most of it does try to explain the difference.  I understand that this video is made from the progressive/liberal perspective and so expect that those that identify as conservative might not be big fans. I want to know why though? What part of the moral order is incorrect because the news is the record of history and I see the moral orders lining up as is illustrated in the picture above.

With top down moral order, any corruption at a level above you and your order falls apart and likely turns into dysfunction and abuse. With an equality of opportunity model, more folks are empowered to be productive and support other folks in their tough times. Take a look (warning: a couple of mild curse words are used – but not directed at individuals, they are more describing actions).

How Conservatives Think by Adam Strange

Also, it has been asked in comments, “Why emphasize the two sides? Why not just stick to the issues?” I wish our American culture and media model did encourage independent thinking but it does not. Because it does not, we need to be prepared for the messages – overt and covert – that are sent to us thousands of times a day.

Would love to hear comments. Values are always the most important part of any argument. Do you agree with the way the moral orders are explained? Does this moral order make sense? Does this offend? If so, why?

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A New Era of Racism

Our lack of societal civilization once again rears its ugly head, this weekend we find out just how far you can go in the far Right literati while still being a blatant racist. A writer known for his contributions to The National Review, a publication that describes itself as, “America’s most widely read and influential magazine and web site for conservative news, commentary, and opinion”, has posted his educated and well written racist screed for all to review. Apparently this is the campaign season that the gloves are coming off.

Republicans don’t call it class warfare when they spurr on the fear, distrust, and distaste of those lower than them on the socio-economic scale, but that is what this is, a rally cry for class warfare. They neatly wrap up and deliver an “other” to the riled up townspeople.

Apparently those folks that love oppressing women, and those that have been biting their tongues when it comes to race have been released. They feel safe and supported enough in the mainstream media to show themselves. Thank goodness our society does have enough moral fabric integrity to push back at these social bullies, but severe damage has been done. Check out a smattering of the offensive quotes published recently from Taki Magazine, on “the Talk” that white parents should have with their kids:

(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.

(10b)Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.

(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).

(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.

(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.

(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.

(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.

(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.

(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.

(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low.

There are several item numbers reserved for the IWSB (intelligent, well-socialized blacks), calling them a “luxury good” that one should seek out and that one could earn an “amulet” against future charges of racism. I’m guessing Derbyshire’s amulet just vanished in the fires of supremicium deliboratus. He’s talking about black people like they are commodities.

This article is presented in earnest – not jest – by a regularly contributing author in a leading conservative thought magazine. Apparently it isn’t the first time he’s writen some eyebrow raising racial remarks The author in question is John Derbyshire, sensibly, he was let go at the National Review. The saddest part is what happens after a Limbaugh or Derbyshire screed – it brings all of the misogyny and racism out in their audience. If you read through any articles containing the words Limbaugh and Fluke, you are bound to find a string of commenters that cannot wait to pile on some name calling for their new favorite target, unfortunately you can find the same thing happening in the chatter following Trayvon articles (choosing sides based on race). Now with Derbyshire, we can get a really pure strain of commenters unconcerned with the content of a story and just find those that can hop aboard this racist train.

We’ve had Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, and Rush around for a quite a while now, I was hoping that we could just trot them out when we needed some racial tirades, we are accustomed to their ways – but this season, this election season for some reason is different. Maybe it’s the belief in end times – all of these subtle racist and sexist implications take too much time -or maybe it is just a power surge of frightened white men wishing for yesteryear when their control of everything was more secure. Perhaps America is reaping what it sowed half a century ago. We never really sold the idea of integration to the American people as a whole. The South never took integration to heart and the rest of the country just let it continue to be segregated. Other communities sprung up and letting things be was the easier path than trying to force a community where there was no want for one.

America – the collective body of people – didn’t get the message that we are all connected. We never got all of the hearts and minds behind the idea that we are all one human race and can work together.  If you read the comments following Derbyshire’s article, you will find a segment of Americans that find it acceptable to treat black Americans as one entity described as a nearly different species as the rest of us. It is dehumanizing language. The author isn’t the only one that finds it convenient to use acronyms when referring to black people either.

Here is the usual tact with the reader that supports the Derbyshires of the world:  they accuse liberals of acting morally superior and dishonest (as if they secretly agree with Derbyshire).

What Derbyshire was actually pointing out had little to do with the fact that a person with dark skin being more dangerous than anyone else (he certainly invoked a life or death situation multiple times). What he pointed out  to me is how poorly Derbyshire understands what it is like to be a person of color in this country and how someone like himself is completely ignorant and wreckless when interacting and communicating people outside of his socioeconomic background. He is going so far as to encourage teaching this fear and ignorance to the next generation.  This hype around danger and class segregation is a huge problem in this country that will only get worse as our economy continues to push our two classes – rich and poor – further and further apart.

I imagine Derbyshire in Africa, where there is nothing but a sea of brown and black skin and how childish his take would seem in the middle of a crowd there.  His rules are paranoid and presume that people with brown skin are inherently more dangerous. I would charge that his type of mentality is inherently more dangerous, he is setting up a frame of conflict.

There is a reason this is coming out when it is, a segment of Americans is afraid of black people. Young black men are especially frightening to them and there is no way to dress or groom a young black man that would make him less frightening.  The only way this fear could be dispelled is for someone to befriend a young black man (and not to gain an “amulet”) and get to know him. Attitudes like Derbyshire’s make that meeting less likely to happen, passing on those fears perpetuates and exaggerates the differences between the classes and races.

The values involved – as always – involve empathy on the progressive side and authority or tradition on the conservative side. Conservatives do not like threats to the traditional authority. Young black men have barely any role in any sort of authoritative position in American history. When you look at our “Founding Fathers”, women and people of color are conspicuously absent. The screed by Derbyshire today is not different from the mentality of yesteryear in that their suppositions of who is the proper authority are firmly based in fact. Conservatives with this racist bent see this “talk” as preserving the personal security and autonomy of their family, liberals see it as an affront to humanity and spreading it as equivalent to spreading hatred.

When this sort of “educated” racism comes up, we must say something. Every trait that Derbyshire attaches as a “black characteristic” could be tied to a circumstance where our governing of ourselves has failed. The underlying hostility he projects into an entire race may very well lie in the fact that hundreds of years of slavery wrong have never been reconciled. It’s hard to forget when your family was enslaved while being repeatedly raped, beaten, and murdered for generations upon generations.  Don’t let this “talk” pass in your circles, speak out against it. If crime prevention is important to you, get involved and find out what really happening in your neighborhood and maybe even some of the reasons why it is happening. Racism (like most isms) is regressive, don’t go there.

Update: The National Review fired another contributor this week due to racism. University of Illinois professor emeritus Robert Weissberg recently spoke at a conference describing “whitopias” and how to keep them white and keep the “undesirables” out. Kudos to the National Review for purging but it is hard to believe that these guys weren’t like this all along and they only just now really stuck their feet in their mouth. Maybe it’s just that the climate of race relations is so divided right now that the writers felt like their own insular bubble of whiteness was shared with anyone who might become their audience.

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