xenologer: (human monsters)
I stumbled across this interesting article that focuses on students firing on their own schools, but which might be generalizable to some extent to other instances of "suicide by mass murder." It's only fifteen pages long, but it's worth a read.

There is something wrong with our culture, and while the proliferation of guns determines the expression of it, the problem with our culture needs to be addressed for itself.

Suicide by mass murder: Masculinity, aggrieved entitlement, and rampage school shootings
In this theoretical essay, we examine school shootings that culminate in the suicide of the assailant(s). We do so to elucidate how the culture of hegemonic masculinity available to young American men encourages the use of violence to avenge a perceived challenge to their masculine identity. When these attacks to one’s masculine identity affect someone to the point of suicidal ideation, committing mass murder can be an instrumental way to achieve a sense of power; and framing one’s suicide with violence and aggression may serve to make it appear a more potent act.
xenologer: (human monsters)
Facebook is annoying me right now. Lots of sad people, doing a whole lot of nothing. In case you didn't hear about it, there was a brutal shooting in which a guy opened fire in an elementary school and killed 27 people. If I recall the breakdown properly, 20 were kids. 6 were adults. 1 was himself.

Here's a list of nonprofits that are involved in Newtown, supporting those affected by the shooting. If you can give to one of them, that's great, but if not please do pass this around so that the information will get to more people who can give. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/14/connecticut-elementary-school-shooting-how-to-help_n_2302760.html They're providing things like counseling, which you know that whole community's going to need.

Just to give you more options, since I know people like to do different stuff, here's another great project to support. http://www.nurserycrimes.org/

Nursery Crimes will be a film that examines the root cause of sociopathic and violent behavior in our society. We don't just go to the prisons or gun manufacturers, we go directly to the heart of the problem - the children who were trained to hate.

A PORTION OF NET PROFITS OF THIS FILM WILL BE DIVIDED AMONGST ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE ON THE FRONT LINES OF SOLVING THIS PROBLEM.

Hope something in here is useful. I wanted to make sure I got these options some visibility. So yeah this one goes out to all you sad people.

Do something. One thing you can do is share this breakdown of nonprofits that are working in Newtown to help those affected so that more people will see the list and hopefully some more support will go their way. Give if you can, and if you can't, you can still do something besides cry or complain about (insert political party you've never liked).

It is a raw spot for me when people make a big emotional fuss over something and then don't do jack shit. Without action, all this talk about how sad we are about Newtown, CT and how we hurt with the victims of this shooting? Self-indulgent melodramatic disaster porn.

Share the links. Be useful. If your excuse before was, "I don't know what I can do to help!" you just lost it. Now is the part where you contribute constructively. If you're not willing to help the people affected, stop pretending to anybody that it's about them. If it's really about them, do something for them. Now.

It doesn't have to be one of the things I have linked, but do something or quit the hired mourner act. Nobody's paying you to wail and rend your hair, because nobody actually benefits from you doing it.

Weepy inaction is still inaction.
xenologer: (human monsters)
Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America's Prisons: We throw thousands of men in the hole for the books they read, the company they keep, the beliefs they hold. Here's why. -By Shane Bauer

Solitary confinement is ruinous for human sanity, which makes it a crappy rehabilitation tool. Additionally, you can end up in solitary for pretty shady reasons.

As warden of San Quentin Prison in the 1980s, Daniel Vasquez oversaw what was then the country's largest SHU. He's now a corrections consultant and has testified on behalf of inmates seeking to reverse their validations. As we sat in his suburban Bay Area home, he told me it is "very common" for African American prisoners who display leadership qualities or radical political views to end up in the SHU. (...)

[A] judge ruled that "a prisoner has no constitutionally guaranteed immunity from being falsely or wrongfully accused of conduct which may result in the deprivation of a protected liberty interest." In other words, it is not illegal for prison authorities to lie in order to lock somebody away in solitary.


Read the whole article before you come say something in the comments. Yes, all four pages.
xenologer: (human monsters)
Wrote a lot of this a week or so ago, when I was still reeling from all that Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day horseshit.

Read more... )

Resources

If anybody else is still having these terrible terrible discussions, here are some resources that you might find helpful.

Specific and easily-linkable information on Chick-Fil-A's donation history.

Great rundown from ThinkProgress.org that I like because it addresses the problems with (and harm caused by) falsely casting this as a First Amendment issue.

Tired of having this cast as a dispute between two equally-unreasonable and extreme camps of zealots? Here, drop this link before you smash your head against that brick wall again.

JP Brammer's Final Rant on Chick-Fil-A, full of justified anger over very real harm.
It’s not about Dan Cathy’s opinion - which I do not give a flying fuck about - it’s about the fact that Chick-Fil-A donated over $5 million to anti-gay hate groups. Hate groups which have been listed next to the KKK, hate groups which try to cure gay people like it’s a disease, and hate groups that have disseminated information claiming that gay people are pedophiles. (...)

Let me tell you this. Agreeing to disagree is a luxury I can’t afford because that’s something you can only do with an equal. And, if you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of dealing with some major inequalities here. So when you tell me that I have to deal with the bullshit that society and religion sends my way on a daily basis, and that I have to do it with a smile on my face, then don’t be surprised when I tell you to kindly fuck off.

“But you’ll never get rights that way. You attract more flies with honey than-” oh shut the fuck up. Like you care about my rights.


Then, for a slightly different tactic, Aesop to the Right: Why I Believe Bristol Palin, one of those rare potentially bridge-building essays which does that difficult job without compromising on the values at stake here. This is a keeper any time someone says, "I don't have a problem with LGBT people. I just believe that they're definitionally excluded from certain rights because of the way I have chosen to define the group of people eligible for those rights. But I love my gay friends!"
Some people turn supremacy into an over-arching philosophy. For most, it’s just a habit of mind. As a habit of mind, supremacist ideas can spring up in anyone. Being liberal doesn’t make you immune. Being gay doesn’t make you immune. Being a minority doesn’t make you immune.

You don’t have to hate people to feel innately superior to them. After all, what kind of threat are your inferiors to you? You may be annoyed by them, from time to time, or you may even like them. You can even have so much affection for them that you might call that affection love.

Because they don’t have to be said in anger, supremacist statements aren’t only the purview of the “God Hates Fags” crowd. The dangerous thing about a supremacist point of view is that it can accompany even warm affection.

Now understand: I’m not saying you’re a supremacist, but your letter, polite as it is, does betray a somewhat a supremacist point of view.

Finally, Snopes.com on the Chick-Fil-A marriage equality issue.

Also! For those of you on LJ and DW who might want to link this, the entry on DoaW is here. Please feel free to leave links to more resources in the comments on DoaW so that anybody who needs them won't have to depend only on what I happened to have stashed in my browser history when I posted this.
xenologer: (objection!)
Okay, I have yet again had "this country was intended to function like X and we need to put it back like that" thrown at me, this time by a Ron Paul supporter but eh. It's too pervasive for me to just point at them and say it's their argument, though I'll get to him when I've picked apart that little highly-polished ball of shit.

Here's my feeling.

I am a lot less reverent of "the way things were intended to be" than I am "how things would need to be so that privileged and currently-marginalized people can have equality of opportunity."

The country we create means a lot more to me than the degree to which it matches someone else's idea of sufficient faithfulness to the ideological orthodoxy of a group of social contract theorists two centuries ago who had no more experience with the kind of culture I want to live in now than anybody else did at the time.

So rather than spending the rest of my life building a political theory around slavish obedience to the ideals of men who owned black people and mostly didn't think women were qualified to vote, I'm going to look at politics and government as a problem-solving exercise, not a test of my loyalty to "the founders."

Some of the same people who'd never argue that we should do whatever the Bible says (or seems to say) because it's a book written by people will nonetheless kill and die to demonstrate their unwillingness to depart from centuries-old ideas about what America should be like. I don't get it.

I don't think "the founders" were necessarily any wiser men than we have today. They had great ideas (though a lot of that was just them having the sense to identify ideas worth copying from other cultures), but they gave us a starting point. The Constitution they wrote is a great place to start, but it's not perfect enough as a place to finish.

That's why I can't join the libertarian party's devotional cult dedicated to "the founders" or their ideals. I am fairly familiar with what they wanted, where they differed with one another, and with whom I'd likely have agreed if I'd been around then.

Fact remains, though, that we're further along in this experiment than they were. We know things now that they didn't then, and if we're more concerned about orthodoxy than which policies will actually create a nation of equal opportunity... then I feel like that's way more of a betrayal of their legacy than anything I'm arguing for.

Read more... )
xenologer: (objection!)
There's something I understand better now than I used to back when I was self-identifying as a theist. I, too, was really upset that atheists were so prejudiced and bigoted and just pigeonholed any religious people they knew and assumed that if you aren't an atheist, you're an enemy. Or something.

I understand marginalization and privilege a little better now, though. Only some of it is from beginning to identify as an atheist. A lot of it's stuff I've heard from LGBT people and people of color and feminists and just... y'know, people who have experience with this stuff. Here's what I've learned about generalizing about the members (or affiliates) of organizations that hate me (or you, or someone else, or whoever).

It's hard sometimes, when someone walks up wearing the badge and uniform of one's oppressors, to assume that they don't want to be associated with the other people wearing it. It's hard for me (for example) to see someone who self-identifies as Catholic and not see an ally of the homophobia, misogyny, and just general callousness that characterizes that organization. They may not personally hate women or gays or child rape victims, but they're comfortable affiliating with an organization that plainly does, and I have to wonder at that rate whether they're true allies.

Sadly, that type of Christianity is still setting the tone in a lot of the country. While I'm supportive of the efforts of other Christians to clean up their image, I no longer feel like I should suffer at the hands of the Christian cultural system and simultaneously do their PR for them. When more Christians are like Quakers, I'll talk about them like more of them are Quakers.

I get that it's got to suck having people running around acting a fool who are using teachings from the same book as you are to do some terrible things to innocent people. It always sucks to feel like someone else has enough control over your reputation to screw with it by being bigots and just generally showing their whole ass to the world.

That's the thing, though, about continuing to wear the badge and uniform of a group that--for a lot of people--has done them nothing but personal and very tangible harm. Depending on how badly they've been hurt and for how long and how much hope they have left, they might just assume that you're an ally to the people who hurt them. They're not assuming this because they're bigoted, or bullies, or intolerant. They're assuming it because they're tired of giving chances to people who put on that uniform and then getting kicked in the face for it. So... they stop taking the risk.

I'm not quite there yet, but I've seen people get there, and it's hard for me to begrudge them. It's not hate. It's hurt, and it's weariness, and they're right. They should never have had to always be the one giving out chance after chance after chance to people who didn't take it. It's hard exhausting work, and the people I know who've given up on trying to find common ground with Christians? That's why.

So this is why I've stopped saying, "Not all straight/cis/white/etc. people are like that! Please only talk about your painful experiences in a way that protects my feelings!" and it's why I think it'd be great if Christians did, too.

edit: Originally posted at http://xenologer.dreamwidth.org/350821.html, where there is excellent discussion happening.
xenologer: (objection!)
There's something I understand better now than I used to back when I was self-identifying as a theist. I, too, was really upset that atheists were so prejudiced and bigoted and just pigeonholed any religious people they knew and assumed that if you aren't an atheist, you're an enemy. Or something.

I understand marginalization and privilege a little better now, though. Only some of it is from beginning to identify as an atheist. A lot of it's stuff I've heard from LGBT people and people of color and feminists and just... y'know, people who have experience with this stuff. Here's what I've learned about generalizing about the members (or affiliates) of organizations that hate me (or you, or someone else, or whoever).

It's hard sometimes, when someone walks up wearing the badge and uniform of one's oppressors, to assume that they don't want to be associated with the other people wearing it. It's hard for me (for example) to see someone who self-identifies as Catholic and not see an ally of the homophobia, misogyny, and just general callousness that characterizes that organization. They may not personally hate women or gays or child rape victims, but they're comfortable affiliating with an organization that plainly does, and I have to wonder at that rate whether they're true allies.

Sadly, that type of Christianity is still setting the tone in a lot of the country. While I'm supportive of the efforts of other Christians to clean up their image, I no longer feel like I should suffer at the hands of the Christian cultural system and simultaneously do their PR for them. When more Christians are like Quakers, I'll talk about them like more of them are Quakers.

I get that it's got to suck having people running around acting a fool who are using teachings from the same book as you are to do some terrible things to innocent people. It always sucks to feel like someone else has enough control over your reputation to screw with it by being bigots and just generally showing their whole ass to the world.

That's the thing, though, about continuing to wear the badge and uniform of a group that--for a lot of people--has done them nothing but personal and very tangible harm. Depending on how badly they've been hurt and for how long and how much hope they have left, they might just assume that you're an ally to the people who hurt them. They're not assuming this because they're bigoted, or bullies, or intolerant. They're assuming it because they're tired of giving chances to people who put on that uniform and then getting kicked in the face for it. So... they stop taking the risk.

I'm not quite there yet, but I've seen people get there, and it's hard for me to begrudge them. It's not hate. It's hurt, and it's weariness, and they're right. They should never have had to always be the one giving out chance after chance after chance to people who didn't take it. It's hard exhausting work, and the people I know who've given up on trying to find common ground with Christians? That's why.

So this is why I've stopped saying, "Not all straight/cis/white/etc. people are like that! Please only talk about your painful experiences in a way that protects my feelings!" and it's why I think it'd be great if Christians did, too.

edit: Originally posted at http://xenologer.dreamwidth.org/350821.html, where there is excellent discussion happening.
xenologer: (objection!)
There's something I understand better now than I used to back when I was self-identifying as a theist. I, too, was really upset that atheists were so prejudiced and bigoted and just pigeonholed any religious people they knew and assumed that if you aren't an atheist, you're an enemy. Or something.

I understand marginalization and privilege a little better now, though. Only some of it is from beginning to identify as an atheist. A lot of it's stuff I've heard from LGBT people and people of color and feminists and just... y'know, people who have experience with this stuff. Here's what I've learned about generalizing about the members (or affiliates) of organizations that hate me (or you, or someone else, or whoever).

It's hard sometimes, when someone walks up wearing the badge and uniform of one's oppressors, to assume that they don't want to be associated with the other people wearing it. It's hard for me (for example) to see someone who self-identifies as Catholic and not see an ally of the homophobia, misogyny, and just general callousness that characterizes that organization. They may not personally hate women or gays or child rape victims, but they're comfortable affiliating with an organization that plainly does, and I have to wonder at that rate whether they're true allies.

Sadly, that type of Christianity is still setting the tone in a lot of the country. While I'm supportive of the efforts of other Christians to clean up their image, I no longer feel like I should suffer at the hands of the Christian cultural system and simultaneously do their PR for them. When more Christians are like Quakers, I'll talk about them like more of them are Quakers.

I get that it's got to suck having people running around acting a fool who are using teachings from the same book as you are to do some terrible things to innocent people. It always sucks to feel like someone else has enough control over your reputation to screw with it by being bigots and just generally showing their whole ass to the world.

That's the thing, though, about continuing to wear the badge and uniform of a group that--for a lot of people--has done them nothing but personal and very tangible harm. Depending on how badly they've been hurt and for how long and how much hope they have left, they might just assume that you're an ally to the people who hurt them. They're not assuming this because they're bigoted, or bullies, or intolerant. They're assuming it because they're tired of giving chances to people who put on that uniform and then getting kicked in the face for it. So... they stop taking the risk.

I'm not quite there yet, but I've seen people get there, and it's hard for me to begrudge them. It's not hate. It's hurt, and it's weariness, and they're right. They should never have had to always be the one giving out chance after chance after chance to people who didn't take it. It's hard exhausting work, and the people I know who've given up on trying to find common ground with Christians? That's why.

So this is why I've stopped saying, "Not all straight/cis/white/etc. people are like that! Please only talk about your painful experiences in a way that protects my feelings!" and it's why I think it'd be great if Christians did, too.

edit: Originally posted at http://xenologer.dreamwidth.org/350821.html, where there is excellent discussion happening.
xenologer: (objection!)
There's something I understand better now than I used to back when I was self-identifying as a theist. I, too, was really upset that atheists were so prejudiced and bigoted and just pigeonholed any religious people they knew and assumed that if you aren't an atheist, you're an enemy. Or something.

I understand marginalization and privilege a little better now, though. Only some of it is from beginning to identify as an atheist. A lot of it's stuff I've heard from LGBT people and people of color and feminists and just... y'know, people who have experience with this stuff. Here's what I've learned about generalizing about the members (or affiliates) of organizations that hate me (or you, or someone else, or whoever).

It's hard sometimes, when someone walks up wearing the badge and uniform of one's oppressors, to assume that they don't want to be associated with the other people wearing it. It's hard for me (for example) to see someone who self-identifies as Catholic and not see an ally of the homophobia, misogyny, and just general callousness that characterizes that organization. They may not personally hate women or gays or child rape victims, but they're comfortable affiliating with an organization that plainly does, and I have to wonder at that rate whether they're true allies.

Sadly, that type of Christianity is still setting the tone in a lot of the country. While I'm supportive of the efforts of other Christians to clean up their image, I no longer feel like I should suffer at the hands of the Christian cultural system and simultaneously do their PR for them. When more Christians are like Quakers, I'll talk about them like more of them are Quakers.

I get that it's got to suck having people running around acting a fool who are using teachings from the same book as you are to do some terrible things to innocent people. It always sucks to feel like someone else has enough control over your reputation to screw with it by being bigots and just generally showing their whole ass to the world.

That's the thing, though, about continuing to wear the badge and uniform of a group that--for a lot of people--has done them nothing but personal and very tangible harm. Depending on how badly they've been hurt and for how long and how much hope they have left, they might just assume that you're an ally to the people who hurt them. They're not assuming this because they're bigoted, or bullies, or intolerant. They're assuming it because they're tired of giving chances to people who put on that uniform and then getting kicked in the face for it. So... they stop taking the risk.

I'm not quite there yet, but I've seen people get there, and it's hard for me to begrudge them. It's not hate. It's hurt, and it's weariness, and they're right. They should never have had to always be the one giving out chance after chance after chance to people who didn't take it. It's hard exhausting work, and the people I know who've given up on trying to find common ground with Christians? That's why.

So this is why I've stopped saying, "Not all straight/cis/white/etc. people are like that! Please only talk about your painful experiences in a way that protects my feelings!" and it's why I think it'd be great if Christians did, too.

Agora

Jul. 3rd, 2011 06:29 pm
xenologer: (Default)
Just watched Agora, a movie that I heard about from the entries about it at The Wild Hunt.

I can't speak too confidently about the historical Hypatia (nor do I particularly expect this movie to do so, because it probably doesn't). Near as I can tell from totally cursory Googling on the subject, not only was Hypatia's religious affiliation not relevant to the circumstances of her death, but she herself was barely relevant. She could have been anybody sufficiently important to Orestes. He had pissed off Cyril (who was kind of a big deal at the time) and Hypatia happened to be an appealing target for a revenge killing.

So... I wanted to say first off that I'm not really inclined to believe anybody who says, "Hypatia was killed by nasty misogynist anti-intellectual Christians because she was an educated and independent Pagan!" or anybody who says, "Hypatia was killed by nasty misogynist anti-intellectual Christians because she was an educated and independent atheist!" Near as I can tell, she was killed for being there.

There's my take on the historical Hypatia. People who have actually spent some study on her will know more about her than I do, though, so if they post in the comments and say I'm wrong, y'all should probably listen to them instead of me. I just wanted to touch on the actual real person we are talking about here so that I could talk separately about Hypatia The Character In The Movie Agora.

Cut for that. )

Firearms

May. 30th, 2010 12:34 am
xenologer: (heritage)
A lot of people I know hold the (in my opinion, rather unnecessarily extreme) position that nobody needs to own guns, and that things would be better if nobody did. These people are usually the sorts of well-meaning leftists that I agree with on damn near everything else.

However.

Here are the facts: I don't need some middle-class, white, nominally-Christian straight man telling me that I am safe without a gun. What does he know? Does he live with a target on his back because he's a woman? Because I do. Does he live with a target on his back because he's an ethnic or religious minority? No? Because I do, at least in the latter case. Does he live with a target on his back because there are seriously people in this country arguing we should burn fags not flags? Does he live with a target on his back because he's poor and nobody cares what happens to poor people?

Then why in the world should I let him look me in the eye and tell me that I'll be okay without a knife in my pocket? Without a gun in my bedside table? He lives in a completely different universe than I do, a universe in which nothing about him screams, "If you brutalize me, nobody will care."

I don't want to hear from that guy that I don't need a gun. Let him live in a world where a glance, a word, or a gesture can be a threat, and then he can tell me when I should feel safe, and what I should need to make that happen.

After all, what could possibly be scarier to the gay-hating misogynist theocrats who want people like me to disappear than the idea of gays with guns? It's been suggested that this is the real reason why people are afraid to have gays serve openly in the military: the potential horror of a half dozen men with M16s turning around and asking, "Who you callin' a faggot?"

Newsflash to the TEA Party: Middle-class straight Christian white people aren't the ones under siege. It's us.

Gun rights for everybody means for me, even if it means I'm protecting myself against the racist paranoid conspiracy theorists in the NRA who fought hardest for those rights in the first place. Thanks, guys. Now stay off my goddamn lawn.
xenologer: (cry yourself to sleep)
This is for folk like me who've maintained their sense of dark humor as the US tries to pick itself up during a huge economic downturn. The stimulus bill did pass, and it did so largely on the strength of one party's influence in Congress (both in the House and Senate). A few Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for it in the Senate, but mainly the minority party had no interest in the project because they wanted to concentrate solely and completely on tax cuts, viewing infrastructure projects, state aid, and health care investments to be a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the bill was seriously curtailed before passage as an effort to court Republican support that they declined to give even after having many of their demands met. For a good breakdown of the winners and losers in the final version of the bill, check here. For those folk out there who want to know what the stimulus actually does, I would check that link. It'll give you a good place to start to look up the worth of the individual projects.

The humorous part? Legislators voting against the stimulus and then immediately turning around and bragging to their constituents about all the money coming to their states to help them out.
The final vote on the $787 billion measure broke down exactly as expected.

What's more, it was legislation the minority party wanted nothing to do with. Three Senate Republicans broke ranks, while zero House Republicans backed the plan. That, in and of itself, isn't especially surprising -- there were philosophical differences, coupled with strategic considerations, alongside a desire to embarrass the president.

What is at least a little surprising, though, is seeing some of the same Republicans who rejected the package issue press releases touting the spending measures in their districts. (...)

In Mica's press release about the stimulus package, for example, he not only applauded the spending for his district, he neglected to mention altogether that he opposed the bill. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who also issued a press release claiming "victory" for an Alaskan contracting program in the bill, also failed to mention that he voted against the measure that he's so excited about.
They're not the only Republicans who are suddenly deeply interested in obligating the federal government to help keep their states afloat. Governors--both Republican and Democrat--had been pushing for the stimulus package to get passed. I know that the list in this article isn't comprehensive, because my own governor is not mentioned and--despite his apparent unwillingness to bail out anybody below him--seems positively thrilled to receive money coming down from the federal level.
In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington. (...)

The National Governors Association sent a bipartisan letter of support to Congressional leaders of both parties, signed by its Democratic chairman, Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Douglas, its Republican vice chairman. “The combination of funds for Medicaid, education and other essential services is critical for governors as they work to manage the downturn in their states and improve government for the long term,” it said.

Mr. Crist even campaigned last week with Mr. Obama in Florida for the recovery package.

“Whether it’s teachers or people on road crews helping our infrastructure, those in the health care arena as it might relate to Medicaid, all of these areas are important, all of them can produce jobs,” Mr. Crist said, adding, “Regardless of what your party is, Republican or Democrat, it really doesn’t matter. We have a duty and an obligation to the people who elected us, no matter what our position happens to be, to work together to get through this thing.”
Summary: Republicans in the legislature were under all kinds of pressure to ignore the needs of state and local governments, and even to ignore the requests (demands?) of governors from their own party. So they voted against the stimulus bill, but as a compromise they took good news back home that help was on the way (possibly in the hopes that their constituents won't notice their legislators were willing to let them hang for the sake of pleasing guys like this one, who evidently run the Republican Party now.

That's your update. I just have to laugh at this, because the alternative is to go right the hell out of my mind with indignation.
xenologer: (cry yourself to sleep)
This is for folk like me who've maintained their sense of dark humor as the US tries to pick itself up during a huge economic downturn. The stimulus bill did pass, and it did so largely on the strength of one party's influence in Congress (both in the House and Senate). A few Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for it in the Senate, but mainly the minority party had no interest in the project because they wanted to concentrate solely and completely on tax cuts, viewing infrastructure projects, state aid, and health care investments to be a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the bill was seriously curtailed before passage as an effort to court Republican support that they declined to give even after having many of their demands met. For a good breakdown of the winners and losers in the final version of the bill, check here. For those folk out there who want to know what the stimulus actually does, I would check that link. It'll give you a good place to start to look up the worth of the individual projects.

The humorous part? Legislators voting against the stimulus and then immediately turning around and bragging to their constituents about all the money coming to their states to help them out.
The final vote on the $787 billion measure broke down exactly as expected.

What's more, it was legislation the minority party wanted nothing to do with. Three Senate Republicans broke ranks, while zero House Republicans backed the plan. That, in and of itself, isn't especially surprising -- there were philosophical differences, coupled with strategic considerations, alongside a desire to embarrass the president.

What is at least a little surprising, though, is seeing some of the same Republicans who rejected the package issue press releases touting the spending measures in their districts. (...)

In Mica's press release about the stimulus package, for example, he not only applauded the spending for his district, he neglected to mention altogether that he opposed the bill. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who also issued a press release claiming "victory" for an Alaskan contracting program in the bill, also failed to mention that he voted against the measure that he's so excited about.
They're not the only Republicans who are suddenly deeply interested in obligating the federal government to help keep their states afloat. Governors--both Republican and Democrat--had been pushing for the stimulus package to get passed. I know that the list in this article isn't comprehensive, because my own governor is not mentioned and--despite his apparent unwillingness to bail out anybody below him--seems positively thrilled to receive money coming down from the federal level.
In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington. (...)

The National Governors Association sent a bipartisan letter of support to Congressional leaders of both parties, signed by its Democratic chairman, Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Douglas, its Republican vice chairman. “The combination of funds for Medicaid, education and other essential services is critical for governors as they work to manage the downturn in their states and improve government for the long term,” it said.

Mr. Crist even campaigned last week with Mr. Obama in Florida for the recovery package.

“Whether it’s teachers or people on road crews helping our infrastructure, those in the health care arena as it might relate to Medicaid, all of these areas are important, all of them can produce jobs,” Mr. Crist said, adding, “Regardless of what your party is, Republican or Democrat, it really doesn’t matter. We have a duty and an obligation to the people who elected us, no matter what our position happens to be, to work together to get through this thing.”
Summary: Republicans in the legislature were under all kinds of pressure to ignore the needs of state and local governments, and even to ignore the requests (demands?) of governors from their own party. So they voted against the stimulus bill, but as a compromise they took good news back home that help was on the way (possibly in the hopes that their constituents won't notice their legislators were willing to let them hang for the sake of pleasing guys like this one, who evidently run the Republican Party now.

That's your update. I just have to laugh at this, because the alternative is to go right the hell out of my mind with indignation.
xenologer: (cry yourself to sleep)
This is for folk like me who've maintained their sense of dark humor as the US tries to pick itself up during a huge economic downturn. The stimulus bill did pass, and it did so largely on the strength of one party's influence in Congress (both in the House and Senate). A few Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for it in the Senate, but mainly the minority party had no interest in the project because they wanted to concentrate solely and completely on tax cuts, viewing infrastructure projects, state aid, and health care investments to be a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the bill was seriously curtailed before passage as an effort to court Republican support that they declined to give even after having many of their demands met. For a good breakdown of the winners and losers in the final version of the bill, check here. For those folk out there who want to know what the stimulus actually does, I would check that link. It'll give you a good place to start to look up the worth of the individual projects.

The humorous part? Legislators voting against the stimulus and then immediately turning around and bragging to their constituents about all the money coming to their states to help them out.
The final vote on the $787 billion measure broke down exactly as expected.

What's more, it was legislation the minority party wanted nothing to do with. Three Senate Republicans broke ranks, while zero House Republicans backed the plan. That, in and of itself, isn't especially surprising -- there were philosophical differences, coupled with strategic considerations, alongside a desire to embarrass the president.

What is at least a little surprising, though, is seeing some of the same Republicans who rejected the package issue press releases touting the spending measures in their districts. (...)

In Mica's press release about the stimulus package, for example, he not only applauded the spending for his district, he neglected to mention altogether that he opposed the bill. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who also issued a press release claiming "victory" for an Alaskan contracting program in the bill, also failed to mention that he voted against the measure that he's so excited about.
They're not the only Republicans who are suddenly deeply interested in obligating the federal government to help keep their states afloat. Governors--both Republican and Democrat--had been pushing for the stimulus package to get passed. I know that the list in this article isn't comprehensive, because my own governor is not mentioned and--despite his apparent unwillingness to bail out anybody below him--seems positively thrilled to receive money coming down from the federal level.
In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington. (...)

The National Governors Association sent a bipartisan letter of support to Congressional leaders of both parties, signed by its Democratic chairman, Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Douglas, its Republican vice chairman. “The combination of funds for Medicaid, education and other essential services is critical for governors as they work to manage the downturn in their states and improve government for the long term,” it said.

Mr. Crist even campaigned last week with Mr. Obama in Florida for the recovery package.

“Whether it’s teachers or people on road crews helping our infrastructure, those in the health care arena as it might relate to Medicaid, all of these areas are important, all of them can produce jobs,” Mr. Crist said, adding, “Regardless of what your party is, Republican or Democrat, it really doesn’t matter. We have a duty and an obligation to the people who elected us, no matter what our position happens to be, to work together to get through this thing.”
Summary: Republicans in the legislature were under all kinds of pressure to ignore the needs of state and local governments, and even to ignore the requests (demands?) of governors from their own party. So they voted against the stimulus bill, but as a compromise they took good news back home that help was on the way (possibly in the hopes that their constituents won't notice their legislators were willing to let them hang for the sake of pleasing guys like this one, who evidently run the Republican Party now.

That's your update. I just have to laugh at this, because the alternative is to go right the hell out of my mind with indignation.
xenologer: (Speak)
The War Over Patriotism. Another rather old one, but still! I found this very thought-provoking. It talks about patriotism as defined and valued by Conservatives as opposed to Liberals (at least in general, broad strokes, since obviously the groups aren't homogeneous). Despite the fact that this came up during the summer election season, the analysis is still quite relevant.
Conservatives know America isn't perfect, of course. But they grade on a curve. Partly that's because they generally take a dimmer view of human nature than do their counterparts on the left. When evaluating America, they're more likely to remember that for most of human history, tyranny has been the norm. By that standard, America looks pretty good. Conservatives worry that if Americans don't appreciate--and celebrate--their nation's past accomplishments, they'll assume the country can be easily and dramatically improved. And they'll end up making things worse. But if conservatives believe that America is, comparatively, a great country, they also believe that comparing America with other countries is beside the point. It's like your family: it doesn't matter whether it's objectively better than someone else's. You love it because it is yours. (...)

If conservatives tend to see patriotism as an inheritance from a glorious past, liberals often see it as the promise of a future that redeems the past. Consider Obama's original answer about the flag pin: "I won't wear that pin on my chest," he said last fall. "Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism." Will make this country great? It wasn't great in the past? It's not great as it is?

The liberal answer is, Not great enough. For liberals, America is less a common culture than a set of ideals about democracy, equality and the rule of law. American history is a chronicle of the distance between those ideals and reality. And American patriotism is the struggle to narrow the gap. Thus, patriotism isn't about honoring and replicating the past; it's about surpassing it. (...)

Conservatives tend to be particularly moved by stories of Americans showing extraordinary devotion to our patriotic symbols. McCain tells an especially powerful one about a fellow prisoner in North Vietnam named Mike Christian, who stitched a U.S. flag on the inside of his shirt and was brutally beaten by his captors in response but immediately began stitching it again, even with his ribs broken and eyes swollen nearly shut. Of course, any sane liberal would find that story stirring as well. But liberals more often lionize people who display patriotism by calling America on the carpet for violating its highest ideals. For liberals more than for conservatives, there is something quintessentially patriotic about Frederick Douglass's famous 1852 oration, "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?," in which the great African-American abolitionist refused to celebrate the anniversary of America's founding, telling a Rochester, N.Y., crowd that "above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are today rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them." (...)

So is wearing the flag pin good or bad? It is both; it all depends on where and why. If you're going to a Young Americans for Freedom meeting, where people think patriotism means "my country right or wrong," leave it at home and tell them about Frederick Douglass, who wouldn't celebrate the Fourth of July while his fellow Americans were in bondage. And if you're going to a meeting of the cultural-studies department at Left-Wing U., where patriotism often means "my country wrong and wronger," slap it on, and tell them about Mike Christian, who lay half-dead in a North Vietnamese jail, stitching an American flag.

And if anyone gives you a hard time, tell him he doesn't know what true patriotism is.
Questions? Comments?
xenologer: (Speak)
The War Over Patriotism. Another rather old one, but still! I found this very thought-provoking. It talks about patriotism as defined and valued by Conservatives as opposed to Liberals (at least in general, broad strokes, since obviously the groups aren't homogeneous). Despite the fact that this came up during the summer election season, the analysis is still quite relevant.
Conservatives know America isn't perfect, of course. But they grade on a curve. Partly that's because they generally take a dimmer view of human nature than do their counterparts on the left. When evaluating America, they're more likely to remember that for most of human history, tyranny has been the norm. By that standard, America looks pretty good. Conservatives worry that if Americans don't appreciate--and celebrate--their nation's past accomplishments, they'll assume the country can be easily and dramatically improved. And they'll end up making things worse. But if conservatives believe that America is, comparatively, a great country, they also believe that comparing America with other countries is beside the point. It's like your family: it doesn't matter whether it's objectively better than someone else's. You love it because it is yours. (...)

If conservatives tend to see patriotism as an inheritance from a glorious past, liberals often see it as the promise of a future that redeems the past. Consider Obama's original answer about the flag pin: "I won't wear that pin on my chest," he said last fall. "Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism." Will make this country great? It wasn't great in the past? It's not great as it is?

The liberal answer is, Not great enough. For liberals, America is less a common culture than a set of ideals about democracy, equality and the rule of law. American history is a chronicle of the distance between those ideals and reality. And American patriotism is the struggle to narrow the gap. Thus, patriotism isn't about honoring and replicating the past; it's about surpassing it. (...)

Conservatives tend to be particularly moved by stories of Americans showing extraordinary devotion to our patriotic symbols. McCain tells an especially powerful one about a fellow prisoner in North Vietnam named Mike Christian, who stitched a U.S. flag on the inside of his shirt and was brutally beaten by his captors in response but immediately began stitching it again, even with his ribs broken and eyes swollen nearly shut. Of course, any sane liberal would find that story stirring as well. But liberals more often lionize people who display patriotism by calling America on the carpet for violating its highest ideals. For liberals more than for conservatives, there is something quintessentially patriotic about Frederick Douglass's famous 1852 oration, "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?," in which the great African-American abolitionist refused to celebrate the anniversary of America's founding, telling a Rochester, N.Y., crowd that "above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are today rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them." (...)

So is wearing the flag pin good or bad? It is both; it all depends on where and why. If you're going to a Young Americans for Freedom meeting, where people think patriotism means "my country right or wrong," leave it at home and tell them about Frederick Douglass, who wouldn't celebrate the Fourth of July while his fellow Americans were in bondage. And if you're going to a meeting of the cultural-studies department at Left-Wing U., where patriotism often means "my country wrong and wronger," slap it on, and tell them about Mike Christian, who lay half-dead in a North Vietnamese jail, stitching an American flag.

And if anyone gives you a hard time, tell him he doesn't know what true patriotism is.
Questions? Comments?
xenologer: (Speak)
The War Over Patriotism. Another rather old one, but still! I found this very thought-provoking. It talks about patriotism as defined and valued by Conservatives as opposed to Liberals (at least in general, broad strokes, since obviously the groups aren't homogeneous). Despite the fact that this came up during the summer election season, the analysis is still quite relevant.
Conservatives know America isn't perfect, of course. But they grade on a curve. Partly that's because they generally take a dimmer view of human nature than do their counterparts on the left. When evaluating America, they're more likely to remember that for most of human history, tyranny has been the norm. By that standard, America looks pretty good. Conservatives worry that if Americans don't appreciate--and celebrate--their nation's past accomplishments, they'll assume the country can be easily and dramatically improved. And they'll end up making things worse. But if conservatives believe that America is, comparatively, a great country, they also believe that comparing America with other countries is beside the point. It's like your family: it doesn't matter whether it's objectively better than someone else's. You love it because it is yours. (...)

If conservatives tend to see patriotism as an inheritance from a glorious past, liberals often see it as the promise of a future that redeems the past. Consider Obama's original answer about the flag pin: "I won't wear that pin on my chest," he said last fall. "Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism." Will make this country great? It wasn't great in the past? It's not great as it is?

The liberal answer is, Not great enough. For liberals, America is less a common culture than a set of ideals about democracy, equality and the rule of law. American history is a chronicle of the distance between those ideals and reality. And American patriotism is the struggle to narrow the gap. Thus, patriotism isn't about honoring and replicating the past; it's about surpassing it. (...)

Conservatives tend to be particularly moved by stories of Americans showing extraordinary devotion to our patriotic symbols. McCain tells an especially powerful one about a fellow prisoner in North Vietnam named Mike Christian, who stitched a U.S. flag on the inside of his shirt and was brutally beaten by his captors in response but immediately began stitching it again, even with his ribs broken and eyes swollen nearly shut. Of course, any sane liberal would find that story stirring as well. But liberals more often lionize people who display patriotism by calling America on the carpet for violating its highest ideals. For liberals more than for conservatives, there is something quintessentially patriotic about Frederick Douglass's famous 1852 oration, "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?," in which the great African-American abolitionist refused to celebrate the anniversary of America's founding, telling a Rochester, N.Y., crowd that "above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are today rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them." (...)

So is wearing the flag pin good or bad? It is both; it all depends on where and why. If you're going to a Young Americans for Freedom meeting, where people think patriotism means "my country right or wrong," leave it at home and tell them about Frederick Douglass, who wouldn't celebrate the Fourth of July while his fellow Americans were in bondage. And if you're going to a meeting of the cultural-studies department at Left-Wing U., where patriotism often means "my country wrong and wronger," slap it on, and tell them about Mike Christian, who lay half-dead in a North Vietnamese jail, stitching an American flag.

And if anyone gives you a hard time, tell him he doesn't know what true patriotism is.
Questions? Comments?
xenologer: (hope)
I always did like this passage. It's pretty unambiguous, which is not usual for this book.

"For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me."

Then they also will answer, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?"

Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me." - Matthew 25:42-45

I suppose this is one of the big differences between Jesus and Jeezus, the American folk hero. For some others, see here.

Funny how people are so often willing to "vote their consciences" when it's about denying women access to reproductive control, but they're not willing to do the same when it comes to poverty. Even if they say they believe it's virtuous to help the poor, they vote against such efforts at every turn because they don't want charity to be mandated.

Guess what, guys! If we vote for it, no one's shoving it on us. It is not a measure of your faith and virtue to vote against social services in the hopes that private charities will do the job instead. It's a measure of your unwillingness to do what works to accomplish a goal you claim is important to you.

But if that's cool by you, fine. You're the one who'll be answering for all those times you denied Jesus disability pay, or all those times that you voted to deny food stamps to his family, or all those times you scoffed at the needs of Jesus' children for affordable single-payer health care.

You may not have to answer for the unborn babies that you forced their mothers to bear, but you'd better start figuring out how you're going to talk your way around what happens to those children after they're born, at how little you did to ensure that resources were available for their wellbeing and education. Because "the least of me" doesn't just mean the unborn. There are people around now who need you, and what exactly do you think Jesus would do about it?

Cripes.
xenologer: (hope)
I always did like this passage. It's pretty unambiguous, which is not usual for this book.

"For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me."

Then they also will answer, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?"

Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me." - Matthew 25:42-45

I suppose this is one of the big differences between Jesus and Jeezus, the American folk hero. For some others, see here.

Funny how people are so often willing to "vote their consciences" when it's about denying women access to reproductive control, but they're not willing to do the same when it comes to poverty. Even if they say they believe it's virtuous to help the poor, they vote against such efforts at every turn because they don't want charity to be mandated.

Guess what, guys! If we vote for it, no one's shoving it on us. It is not a measure of your faith and virtue to vote against social services in the hopes that private charities will do the job instead. It's a measure of your unwillingness to do what works to accomplish a goal you claim is important to you.

But if that's cool by you, fine. You're the one who'll be answering for all those times you denied Jesus disability pay, or all those times that you voted to deny food stamps to his family, or all those times you scoffed at the needs of Jesus' children for affordable single-payer health care.

You may not have to answer for the unborn babies that you forced their mothers to bear, but you'd better start figuring out how you're going to talk your way around what happens to those children after they're born, at how little you did to ensure that resources were available for their wellbeing and education. Because "the least of me" doesn't just mean the unborn. There are people around now who need you, and what exactly do you think Jesus would do about it?

Cripes.
xenologer: (hope)
I always did like this passage. It's pretty unambiguous, which is not usual for this book.

"For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me."

Then they also will answer, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?"

Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me." - Matthew 25:42-45

I suppose this is one of the big differences between Jesus and Jeezus, the American folk hero. For some others, see here.

Funny how people are so often willing to "vote their consciences" when it's about denying women access to reproductive control, but they're not willing to do the same when it comes to poverty. Even if they say they believe it's virtuous to help the poor, they vote against such efforts at every turn because they don't want charity to be mandated.

Guess what, guys! If we vote for it, no one's shoving it on us. It is not a measure of your faith and virtue to vote against social services in the hopes that private charities will do the job instead. It's a measure of your unwillingness to do what works to accomplish a goal you claim is important to you.

But if that's cool by you, fine. You're the one who'll be answering for all those times you denied Jesus disability pay, or all those times that you voted to deny food stamps to his family, or all those times you scoffed at the needs of Jesus' children for affordable single-payer health care.

You may not have to answer for the unborn babies that you forced their mothers to bear, but you'd better start figuring out how you're going to talk your way around what happens to those children after they're born, at how little you did to ensure that resources were available for their wellbeing and education. Because "the least of me" doesn't just mean the unborn. There are people around now who need you, and what exactly do you think Jesus would do about it?

Cripes.

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