Sunday, December 19, 2010

DADT Goes Down For The Three-Count

So, Don't-Ask, Don't-Tell is officially dead. Gay/bisexual people already in the military and those looking to enlist in the future can now be honest about who they are and who they love and poor Dan Choi can re-enlist. And that's great. Really, it is. I can't see why anyone, gay or straight, would want to elist under current circumstances but that's besides the point. I can't help but be suspicious that real political effort to repeal DADT only came when the US was stuck in a seemingly intractable war and having trouble recruiting people like translators. "Enlist your gays for we need the cannon fodder"?

Still, a step forward for equality. And everyone who pushed for, proposed and agitated for this change deserves congratulation. Congrats guys, have a drink and take a short holiday.

There, did you enjoy it? I don't want to rain on anyone's parade but the fact is, getting gay people their right to risk life and limb for the Stars & Stripes was only part of the battle and, given the USA's near worship of the military, probably one of the easier parts. The Department of Defence (and really, what are they defending? The US has been on the offensive for years) wants warm bodies in uniform, and at a certain level, they're not overly picky about who they are. The military has accepted neo-Nazis, assorted racists and a slightly worrying amount of organised fundementalist Christians (small note: Christians in general, no problem. Christians who want to remake the military into a crusading force for Christendom, that's a problem) so why not gay people?

But don't think everything is wine and roses now. There are still going to be problems integrating the military in the same way as there were with racial integration and the larger war for full equality still goes on. Gay people still don't have equality in marriage rights, hospital visitation, taxation, employment and a bazillion other things I don't have space to list right now. This is a start, a step in the right direction.

That's not to take away from the importance of this step. The good guys won one for a change, enjoy that, revel in it for a little while. But only for a little while because we won a battle but the war goes on.

Monday, November 22, 2010

That's It, I Give Up On Humanity

I've been working on an article for a while now on how the BDFL (my fictional me-as-dictator flight of fancy) would handle the US's current state but what grabbed my attention today was this article from ( ). In case you're not aware, the UN has a list of things people should not be executed for, what it lists as "discriminatory reasons" for execution and for about a decade, sexual orientation has been included on that list. Makes sense, right? Well, a few days ago, the UN narrowly voted to REMOVE sexual orientation from that list. There are still 76 countries that criminalise homosexuality and five that treat it as a capitol offence (not counting Uganda's kill-the-gays bill which hasn't been ratified yet) and the world can't even agree that this is a moral outrage?

That's it. I give up on humanity. We officially lose any right to be the dominant species after this. Seventy-nine countries voted to remove the ban (actually a condemnation, since the UN has bugger all actual power). Seventeen abstained. Abstained? How the fuck do you abstain from that vote? Killing guys just because they like to suck cock (or girls who like to eat pussy) isn't something you can be undecided on. This isn't an issue where you can say "Hey, to each his own" because we are talking about fucking killing people for who they fall in love (or, at least, into bed) with. "Beef or chicken?" is something you get to not have an opinion on, killing gay folks isn't.

Now, I'm not opposed to the death penalty in principle (my views on it in practice are in flux right now) but when I think of people who deserve to be executed, I think of people like Richard Rameirez, Jeffrey Dahmer or Robin Gecht, not Freddie Mercury, Elton John and Graham fucking Norton (and I can't stand Graham Norton). The fact that there even needs to be a list in the first place is depressing enough but the fact that better than half the world's countries voted to remove homosexuality from it, to say killing people for being queer is acceptable? There's a bullet through the heart of any sense of pride in the human species. I mean, Jesus fucking Christ, if we can't at least agree that executing people for being gay is a moral outrage, what fucking hope is there for humanity?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Britain, sickness and evil bastards

Sparked by this:

"They have bombarded us with massive scary numbers and whispered not
so quietly about Greek-style riots if the international markets were to
lose confidence in the British economy and government.
Second, they have gone to enormous lengths to persuade everyone that the cuts
...will be fair - hitting everyone from the rich to the poor. "

They are, of course, lying through their teeth on both counts.

The "debt crisis" is illusory. Britain doesn't have a debt crisis. We have a significant downturn because our government, like many others, listened too much to Austrian magical thinking economics for the previous twenty years but we don't have a significant debt problem. Even if we did have a debt problem, austerity cuts are exactly the wrong way to address it. The "debt crisis" is a phantom, a spectre the Tories and their media buddies have summoned up to justify their real aims. That is, taking an axe to the welfare system.

The second part would be laughable if it wasn't so disgusting. Of course the cuts won't be fair. If you wanted them to be fair, you shouldn't have voted in Tories. Tories don't do "fair". They're big money bully boys, fascist financiers. Vote in Tories, you get government for teh sake of the rich. That's just how it is and always has been.

When the coalition were voted in five months ago, David Cameron said that, of course, the most vulnerable would be protected from the cuts. Was that a cold-blooded lie? Naturally. The most vulnerable are the people who will be targetted by these cuts. Again, that's what Tories do, it is their natural function in life. Tories stomp on those at the bottom for the sake of those at the top. This is as normal and predictable as the sun rising.

Want proof? Solid reports coming out of the coalition indicate that £2.5 billion is to be cut from ESA. ESA is what the government gives you if you're too sick to work. The system is already designed so that virtually no-one can claim it but still, they want more cuts. The state has been trying to get rid of sickness benefit entirely for years but, knowing that people wouldn't accept that, they've settled for making the box you have to fit in to claim it smaller and smaller. It's hardly a king's ransom. I get £125 a week and that's because my partner is listed as a dependent. And I'm on the "partly fit for work" section because ATOS (the private company who "administer" the tests, lie their asses off at every opportunity and are corrupt to teh core) don't think the "unfit for work" category exists. When ATOS were contracted to do the work, it was estimated that about 40-50% would be found unfit. Actual number was less than five percent and I'd be willing to wager that the majority of those got it on appeal. £125 a week comes to £6,500 a year and they want savings of £2.5 billion.

That's a whole lot of dead people. And that's the intention, to get people off teh rolls by any means necessary. If you can work, work. If you can't, die. Whole lot of dead people.

And I'll probably be one of them. Having Major Depression means struggling not to kill yourself all day, every day. And then there's the additional knowledge that, as an unemployed person, you're part of the single most despised group in the country (yes, more than child molesters, it's approaching societal pathology). And then there's the state trying to kill you as well. And it becomes ever more difficult to hold on or know why you should.

£2.5 billion. At £6,500 each. Lots of dead people to come. I'm tempted to leave early to avoid teh rush. The depths of this government's cold, unmitigated evil are only just starting to become obvious.

Now Here's Something I Can Really Get Behind

I think I have a problem with the campaign for same-sex marriage / marriage equality. No, not that it exists or is "going too far", that the movement is being far too civilised. Don't misunderstand, trying to get your human rights recognised through the courts and public opinion is very noble, very admirable. It speaks to the inherent civility of the movement that it is still being so restrained. But there's something about humanity that seems to only recognise a right when it's torn from the bloodied fist of the oppressor. Would Martin Luther King (whom I have the utmost respect for) have been so convincing if white society hadn't been so terrified of Malcolm X? I don't know. But I do know that when your other option is Magneto, kindly old Professor Xavier starts to look a lot more reasonable.

In other words, I think getting in people's faces can achieve a valuable goal. That's easy for me to say; I'm a big guy, trained to fight and confrontational by nature but let's be honest, a good firm smack in the mouth ends a lot of arguments. Occasionally, when discussing gay rights, I make the call to have some fucking riots. Usually, I'm not serious about that but I do think there's a lot to be said for standing and saying "this is who I am, this is what I do and fuck you if you can't take it". Why should gay guys be allowed to marry other guys? Because fuck you, that's why.

See, the public awareness campaign and the lawsuits, they do a nice job of reaching the undecided but some people, you're never going to reach. You're never going to be able to reason with them because they left reason behind years ago. And for people like that, something a little stronger is needed. Maybe I'm just not as nice a guy as some people think but my urge to yell "we're here, they're queer and if you got a problem with that, let's step outside" peaked a few years ago.

With that in mind:

Monday, October 11, 2010

About bullying, we need to talk

Advance notice: Forgive me if I get emotional here.

So, I've been away for a while. What's brought me back now has been the recent spate of kids killing themselves because they were being bullied. In discussing it with someone on another forum, I was asked if bullying was actually worse now than it was before and yo yo yo, let me speak on this 'cos I got something to say:

It's worse. Far worse. Partly, that's because there are so many more avenues for bullying now. When I was a kid, cellphones were the size of a house brick and only the wealthy or those with very demanding professions owned them; the internet didn't exist and DARPAnet (which would eventually evolve into the internet we have today) was only in it's formative stages. The only time you saw bullies was at school to a large extent. Today, pretty much everyone has a cellphone (which is not to argue that cellphones are a bad thing) and there's MySpace, Facebook, LiveJournal. There are so many more avenues of communication today. That has it's upside that I've talked about before at great (and probably boring) length but it also has a downside because there are so many more openings for bullies to get through now.

So it's worse now but it was always pretty bad. Remember that kid in school who didn't fit in? The one that most people pretty much isolated and ignored? I was that kid. I was slightly overweight, bookish, dyslexic (I know that seems a contradiction but dyslexia has many forms and mine only really affects my writing) and, hard as it may be to believe for those who know me now, rather timid. So I was bullied. I was beaten down pretty much every day between the ages of about seven and fourteen (when I suddenly gained fifty pounds and discovered wrestling). And there's the dehumanising taunts, name-calling that targetted my intelligence, my sexuality (years before I was even aware of it), my ethnicity, everything. Kat tells me that girls are just as bad, they just use taunts instead of beatdowns.

There's some stuff about bullying that adults believe that really needs to be debunked because I got told it as well. If you stand up to the bully, he doesn't back down, he hits you. If you hit him back, he goes and gets his mates and they all hit you. Bullies aren't necessarily stupid or insecure or underachievers. In my experiance, they're likely to be of normal intelligence and the exact opposite: So cocky, arrogant and overachieving that they believe they have the right to dominate others. The bully isn't socially isolated and without close friends. They're usually charismatic and collect friends eager to do their dirty work for them. And while I'm sure some of them are abused kids, many aren't. The bully doesn't pick on you because he's jealous of you or threatened by you or anything like that. A few individual cases might be all of those things but for the most part, the bully picks on you because he can.

A couple of years back, two girls here committed suicide due to bullying and teh press threw a fit. Stories about the "hidden cancer of bullying", big tearful headlines, the full works and I can remember feeling outraged. No, not because of them in particular. I'm sorry for them, of course but I've seen the story too often to be unusually moved by one or two cases. No, what outraged me (apart from the ever-present, maddening use of "cancer" as a metaphor. Guys, you're trained writers, FIND A NEW WORD!) was that it was only now that people noticed. It was only when the victims were photogenic little girls whose portraits could be splashed across front pages and you could concievably envision as reincarnations of the Christ child, only when there was actually blood on the classroom floor, only then did people actually pay any attention. Where the fuck were they for the previous thirty years? Were where they while hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of kids were having their lives destroyed? Where were they when those kids carried the damage that shit did to their minds into psychologist's offices around the world? Where were they when the victim wasn't some photogenic little angel, when the victim didn't have a straight A average and doting parents who thought the sun shone out of their blessed little behinds?

And, of course, I know where they were. I know exactly where the bleeding hearts and self-appointed moral guardians were. They were sat at the back of the class. Maybe they were laughing, maybe they were cheering the bully on, maybe they were hoping the bully didn't notice them but they didn't do a damn thing. And when some little angel (excuse me while I spit) tops themselves, they cry "oh, the humanity!" and rend their garments and tear at their hair and say how awful it is, someone should do something about it. And then tomorrow's paper rolls around and there's some new outrage and they go quietly back to sleep and forget about it because there's always a story important enough to go on the front page. And across the country, the kids that they just gave up on, the ones they think should brawl with the bully and his pack; those kids cry themselves to sleep every night if they can sleep at all or they sag off school or they cut themselves while their parents dismiss their emotions as teen angst, shoved their feelings in a little tickbox that they can safely ignore. And if the parents care at all, the advice they give is useless. My parents gave useless advice. It was Grimmer who bothered herself to go and raise hell about it.

Kids are animals, you see. Vicious little balls of spite and entitlement, all Ego and Id. It's the job of parents, of families and schools to train them to be something better. But, as Larkin said, "they fuck you up, your mum and dad". A lot of us aren't doing so well with raising kids these days and the old familial structures that meant kids were raised by an extended family, they're gone now. Thirty years of live to work and stagnant wages and shorter vacations and shrinking social safety nets, they've destroyed those family structures. And the schools, well, they're too busy pushing Little Johnny (who's a decent kid but a little slow) through this week's high-stakes test to get concerned about their student's life. The attitudes that allow bullying to happen, that cause it to happen, begin with families and you can't support lower wages, shorter vacations and a shrinking safety net and call yourself "pro-family". I was trying not to involve politics in this but fuck it, there it is.

Bullying is a weird thing. Everyone knows it happens but no-one's willing to acknowledge how much it happens or how deeply it affects people. Some people get over it, they go on to live perfectly normal lives. But a lot don't get over it, not entirely and not ever. I'm 34 now and I started cutting back when I was a teenager as a way of dealing with my emotions. I'm a bright guy, IQ somewhere between 152 and 165 depending on the test and with the mental clouding my meds cause and, when I let things get to me, I can still hear those voices calling me stupid because I could barely write (in fairness, dyslexia is much more recognised these days). I'm mentally ill, I know that and so, I'm maybe an extreme example. Most bullied kids probably won't become mentally ill or, if they do, it'll not have any connection (I'm very, very unclear on how much connection the two had in myself) but they'll carry the emotional scars of it. And still, no-one wants to expend time or money to tackle the issue. They want to teach kids how to cope with bullying instead of stopping the bullying itself. This is somewhat akin to shooting the looters in the aftermath of Katrina; it might help the immeadeate poblem but it doesn't exactly tackle the cause.

Anyway, that's me said my piece. Went on longer than I wanted, got more emotional than I intended and probably swore more than I should. But there it is, the die is cast.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Today Was A Good Day

So, did you hear? Prop 8 got overturned in California. Isn't that awesome? Equality and the rule of law win out over the momentary whim of the mob, fantastic stuff. Still, this would be a pretty dull entry if all I did was praise the ruling so instead, I thought I'd vivisect Michael "Savage" Weiner's article on the ruling (no link to hate sites, find it yourself). For context, Weiner is a notorious closet case who's semi-autobiography included his literary avatar being beaten for "acting like a sissy". This is pretty obviously what turned him into the self-loathing closet case we all know and, well, know. For several years now, my holiday wish for Mikey has been a course of extra-strength therapy to convince him that being gay really is ok and a subscription to Gay Times so he has something to do with his sexuality. Essentially, Weiner is about two steps from being an outright fascist and one of those steps is getting over his attraction to strong men in uniform. Oh, and he posted his tirade in full CAPS, sorry.


Instantly, the association with fascists. The fascists were on the political right but Weiner, like many ultraconservatives, maintains the sick lie that they were leftists.


First off, he didn't rule that at all. He ruled that no amount of votes can override the federal Constitution. Secondly, if he's "left-wing", why was he appointed by Bush Sr and nominated by Reagan?


That's a complete and utter lie which Weiner pulls straight from his ample backside.


Which it did, blatantly.


Which it does. Marriage is a "fundemental right" according to Loving.


Dude, what's with the "little Caesar" thing?


All of this was absolutely correct except in the upside-down, black-is-white world of Savage Weiner. And again, he didn't steal their votes at all, he ruled that those votes cannot overrule the federal Constitution.


Because it is utterly and entirely irrelevent. If Weiner is making the argument that a gay judge cannot be impartial in this case (which he is), then he is also arguing that black judges should be recused from cases involving black people and white judges should be recused from cases involving white people.


Who was nominated by Ronald Reagan, re-nominated and appointed by Bush Sr. But why bother with that, Weiner (like Bill Orally) declares everyone who disagrees with him a "radical leftist".


And he was right to do so because their religious rights hadn't been violated.


And since the city took issue with it, you know damn well there was more to the case that Weiner gives you here.


This is an entirely impartial judge who made a decision that closet case Weiner dislikes.


Mussolini, like all fascists, was a right-winger. And while the history lesson is welcome (if unnecessary), how is it relevent?


Weiner is obsessed with this idea. The judge, of course, did nothing of the sort. He just said that those votes could not overrule the federal Constitution. Interestingly though, Weiner had absolutely no problem when Bush's 2000 election team actually did steal loads of votes or when the SCOTUS installed Bush in the most activist decision in history.


Which is entirely irrelevent. Lots of states had anti-miscegeny laws too.


Also irrelevent.


1) Five percent is not "overwhelmingly" unless you consider Bush's two percent 2004 victory a "mandate". 2) Many of those Californians would now vote differently. 3) Still irrelevent because no amount of votes can overrule the federal Constitution.


He's obsessed with this "little Caesar" thing. And, yet again, Judge Walker has done nothing of the sort, he has, blah, blah, you know the rest by now.


1) Yes, that's how the law works. 2) He's at least seven million times as important as Michael Weiner.


Yes, entirely.


Actually, Michael "Savage" Weiner says "RARGH, dribble, dribble, LIBERALS, buro, PUDDING!" because he's absolutely out of his mind.

Here's the thing: It is not a judge's job to enforce the tyranny of the majority. The whim of the braying mob is utterly irrelevent to the law. All 300 million odd Americans could have voted for Prop 8 and it would still be irrelevent to the law. A judge's one and only duty is to interpret that law (and anyone about to say one word about "activist judges making law" can go fuck themselves, the principle of stare decisis means judge's can't avoid making law). Judge Walker observed the letter and spirit of every legal principle and procedure from beginning to end. His lengthy written decision is a textbook shinging example of judicial reasoning. See, what people like Weiner don't get is that judges do not just pull their opinions from somewhere under their robes (apart from Clarence Thomas, who does and Antonin Scalia, who has them dictated by the ghost of Adolf Hitler). Judicial reasoning is a very specific mode of logic; it has it's own rules, principles and assumptions and it takes law students months, if not years, to fully understand it. Judge Walker made no less than EIGHTY findings of fact in his decision. This decision will go down in history, not just for it's role in what will (hopefully) be the legalisation of same-sex marriage but as a teachable example of how to write a judicial ruling.

Contrary to Weiner's ranting, the US is not an Athenian democracy, you do not vote on every issue. Your Founders, who were actually rather wary of democracy, set up a very careful system to ensure that the whom of the mob could not take away the rights of the people. According to teh decision rendered in Loving, marriage is a "fundemental right" (and no, morons, there is nothing so special about same-sex marriage that the ruling has to say "this includes the queers too"). Article XIV of the Constitution says, in effect, that the rights of the people cannot be abridged by popular vote. If an Amendment to the federal Constitution was formulated, passed and ratified in the described manner, then that would be a different matter but thus far, it hasn't and the chances of that happening are fairly slim.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Meandering Rant About Sexuality

Today, I'd like to talk about sexuality a little.

I am a bisexual man. For those lacking a high-school education, that means that I am sexually and romantically attracted to both men and women. My current (and hopefully, last) partner is female. Unlike most bisexual people, I don't have a gender preference. Most bisexuals have a preference for one gender or the other so it's pretty common to see bisexual people describe themselves as a quarter hetero or seventy percent gay or whatever, that's very common. I'm slightly unusual in that I'm a pretty straight-up (forgive the pun) 50-50 who doesn't noticeably skew toward either gender. If I list the people I am sexually or romantically attracted to, it contains a roughly even number of men and women including a few (such as Clea Duvall) who are themselves gay.

Being bisexual is not the same as being gay. It's not the same as being straight either. I think a lot of people who are gay or straight forget that. It's not the same as being a gay man who occasionally likes pussy (forgive the vulgarity) or a straight man who sometimes like cock. I'm a part of both worlds but, like the half-native kid in the fable, not truly a part of either because our society places so much emphasis on who you sleep with that neither side entirely "gets" the bisexual person. And that causes all kinds of misunderstandings and preconceptions.

We are not just greedy. Yes, as Woodly Allen said, being bisexual automatically increases your chances of getting a date on Saturday night (although really, not even that since gay men are rarer than straight women). Yes, I have a lot more options for porn than most people but human desires are not controllable. I can choose whether I act on those desires but the actual desires themselves aren't somethign I can control. More to the point, nor can anyone else. In our society, it's still something of a stigma to be gay (although, granted, things have improved a lot in recent years). Up until a few years ago, it was still illegal in Texas to be gay. Since this didn't make any notable difference in the number of gay people from Texas, we have to assume that our desires are in-born and, to some extent which we don't entirely understand yet, inate. Looking at that world, why on earth would anyone choose to be gay or bisexual? They wouldn't. Unless that desire was something inate about them. And just like gay people, my attraction to both genders is inate.

However, that doesn't mean that I must have a mate of both genders to be satisfied, that really would be greedy. Straight men and gay women, I'm sure you see dozens of girls every day that you find sexually attractive; straight women and gay men, you must see dozens of shaggable guys every day, right? Well, it's the same for us. Yes, men and women feel different, having sex with each is a completely different experiance but newsflash, that's true of individuals as well. Thinking back on the women I've slept with, each of them felt completely different and utterly unique and the same is true of the men I've slept with. If you can manage to avoid sleeping with the unique and attractive girl at the office, why should it be any different for us? Being attracted to the guy in the bookstore doesn't mean I am any more inclined to cheat on my partner than anyone else (although Johnny Depp, if you're reading this, you're on my list so gimme a call). And while we're on the subject of different tactile sensations, there are these things called sex toys which people can buy and simulate a whole range of sexual experiances. It's not like the days where the only way to simulate gay sex was to buy your girlfriend a fake moustache, there's a cornucopia of dildos, vibrators and costumes in a rainbow of colours. Seriously. Some of them even ejaculate. And for the phonomenally paranoid: No, a liking for taking it up the ass, fabulous though it is, does not mean you're gay anymore than a liking for blowjobs does. If you like shagging people with tits, no matter how you like shagging or being shagged by them, you're either a straight man, bisexual or a gay woman and a quick look down in the shower should enable you to figure out which. Unless you're into tranny porn. In which case, hey, whatever floats your boat, no judgements here.

No, I'm not confused about my sexuality and I'm not going to quietly place myself in a checkbox as I get older. I used to be confused about my sexuality. When I was a small child, I was sexually molested by a male relative. No, that didn't cause me to be bisexual but it did make me very screwed up about my sexuality for years. Because I associated guy-guy sex with being molested, I buried that attraction for many years. It was only when I got to university in my mid-twenties that I felt able to start dealing with that. It took some years to sort the attraction that I felt toward guys from the rage and humiliation I felt as a result of the molestation but you didn't read this to plumb the depths of my psyche so all you need to know is that I eventually dealt with it. Now, doubtless there's someone reading this and asking themselves why I couldn't have stayed repressed about guylove all my life, why I had to sort out my attraction to guys. Because fuck you, that's why. Something anyone acquinted with me should know by now is that I think sexuality is incredibly overcomplicated by our culture and that I have a pretty combatative nature (I worship the original rebel, for goodness's sakes). I won't be repressed, not by faux-morality, not by self-appointed moral guardians and not by the infirmities of my psyche either. More to the point, love is a rare thing, transcendent and pure. Love is what makes us more than just a super-evolved ape. Every spiritual visionary worth his or her salt has said the same thing from the dawn of time. Ghandhi said it, Martin luther King said it, even Jesus said it. The same message every time: As John Lennon put it "Love is the answer and you know that for sure". Nothing dignifies humanity like love, nothing else makes the shit of this world, the war, death, hatred and pineapple on pizza, worthwhile like love does. And it is so rare, so vanishingly unusual, to find that one person. That person who can celebrate your triumphs and comfort your tragedies. I don't believe in "you complete me" because I don't believe that being alone necessarily makes you incomplete but it is so rare in this universe to find that one person who feels like home that if there was any chance of finding that person in your own gender (and I'm not talking about completely straight or gay people, they're incapable of being romantically interested in their own or the opposite gender, that's just understood), wouldn't your response to those saying you shouldn't even look be "fuck you" as well?

Personally, I think sexuality is mainly about what feels good anyway. That's not a value judgement, it's a suggestion that the human sex drive is inately hedonistic and that's not a bad thing. For some people, girls feel right and that's good. For others, guys hit their sweet spot and that's good too. Look, if you're a straight guy, you're not going to enjoy having sex with another guy. It's won't feel good to you, no matter how good he is at sucking cock because you're straight. Likewise, a straight woman is not going to enjoy having sex with another woman, no matter how firmly she straps her boobs down or how skilfully she pilots a strap-on. It's about what feels good and that's fine. The only rules worth any notice about sex are so obvious that rational people usually just take them as read (but, for the terminally dense: No kids, no animals, make sure everyone's consenting and if you're even slightly unsure of anyone's sexual history, use rubbers. Oh, and the host picks the music). Beyond those aforementioned guidelines that should be so obvious anyone of age automatically assumes them, it's not like there are rules. Somewhere in the myriad complexity of human chemistry, there's some kind of switch that says if you're gay, straight or somewhere in-between. Most people end up being straight because humanity needs them to be straight to ensure the continuation of the species (the evolutionary process is dumb and doesn't understand things like IVF), somewhere between eight and twelve percent of people turn out to be gay and an unknown percentage turn out to be bisexual and it's all ok. But most of our views of sexuality date from the Victorians and a time before we learned to control our fertility. We feel we have to justify our sexual choices constantly. An example is the debate about whether being gay is a choice. Now, all the research (which is not entirely conclusive yet but very nearly so) says it's not a choice but why should that fucking matter anyway? Yes, I know the idiots use it to beat you over the head with a stick of "choosing to be immoral" but the idea depends on the preconception that there is something less desireable about being gay than there is about being straight, it's a justification for something that doesn't need a justification.

Why some people are gay is a question of only academic interest. It's an interesting question for biologists, psychologists and geneticists but beyond the halls of academia, it doesn't matter, it's irrelevent. If you start from the viewpoint that being gay or being straight is as morally neutral as having green or blue or brown eyes, then who cares why some people are gay? Even if being gay is a choice (and, again, it's not), why should we discriminate against it? I'm not discriminated against because I choose to have a beard (with the exception of a very radical feminist I once knew who said I was "aggressively asserting" my masculinity and thereby reinforcing the patriarchy), my partner isn't discriminated against because she chooses to dye her hair so why the hell should we discriminate against someone because of why they like to have sex with even if it was a choice (yet again, it's not)? It's stupid, an irrelevent distinction that should only be of interest to the individual and the person they're sleeping with. Now, some idiot Crusader (and boy, are you on the wrong blog) could make some noise here about being gay damning you to stinky hellfire but that's a threat only convincing to people in the rowboat with you. My chosen holy book says that some will love the same sex and some will love the opposite sex and it's all good. You have to assume that being gay is immoral in order to make the case that being gay is immoral. That's called circular reasoning, buddy, and it's not welcome here (although Conservapedia will love you). No-one is offering to legislate the moral precepts of my faith, nor should they and I would fight them if they did. A few obsessed morons might say here that some people might choose to fuck kids and if I think all choices are acceptable, how can I discriminate against them? Well, firstly, look up the phrase "informed consent" and learn why children (and animals for that matter) are incapable of giving it and secondly, fuck off to another blog and be thankful we aren't having this discussion in person.

See, another area where we overcomplicate sex is when we talk about explaining it to teenagers. Conservatives love to play this card, "if you allow gay people, you'll have to explain sodomy to kiddiewinks". Talk about begging the question. Since you already explain to them that mummy and daddy love each other very much, where's the problem in telling them that some boys love other boys and some girls love other girls? And as for the ones who don't even want their kids to know gay people exist; well, firstly, they're going to find out eventually, no matter what you do. My mother owned lesbian cats, gay people are openly in media these days and if they've got an internet connection, five seconds is going to teach them way more than they were ever curious about. Secondly, fuck you, you shouldn't even be allowed to raise kids. No, I'm not being hyperbolic. You can raise your kids to have any kind of values you'd like but when you want to selectively edit reality because of it? Yeah, I think Child Services is justified in taking your kids away at that point because you're no different than the bigot who said they didn't want their kids to know black people existed (and if you're going to use the word "choice", see above and fuck you too). You get to have your own opinions and your own values but you don't get to have your own facts and the fact is, gay people exist, they are only different from you in irrelevent details and you don't get to make a shitstorm about that.

And while we're on the subject of the sacred little bastards (yeah, I don't like kids, does it show?), if your kids are even interested in sex at that age, they have bigger problems than the existance of gay people. Fact is, the reaction of small children to seeing naked people is much the same as their reaction to seeing a parrot for the first time: "Mummy, what's that?". Dirty jokes sail completely over their heads until they hit puberty so unless you set out to make it something shameful, your kid is not going to be damaged by knowing that Brian and Tom love one another. By the time they do hit puberty, Google and Playboy have already taught them the basics anyway. Parents tend to think that kids are way more innocent than they actually were anyway. They like to think their darling little bundle of joy convieniently discovers sex when they get to the age of consent and they don't even like to consider that their kid masturbates underage. They can't fool themselves completely with boys since the basket full of soiled Kleenex is a dead giveaway but, hey parents, little Fiona is probably rubbing one off right now, you better rush off and stop her! See, this is such a stupid waste of time and it's largely because we've internalised the idea that sex is something to be ashamed of. We try to train kids to think that giving themselves pleasure is a terrible thing. Hell, when I was at the age when I was discovering masturbation, my parents moved me into a room without a door. Seriously, normal room, open doorway with no door there. I'm not trying to turn this into a rant about the various ways my parents did their level best to mentally cripple me (and, in fairness, they were pretty screwed up themselves and didn't have a clue what they were doing) but the fact is, masturbation is normal, it's part of the pleasurecruise of self-discovery we all go on during our teens and it should be. Masturbation is sex without the dangers. You can't get pregnant, catch an STD or even get stood up by your hand at the prom. It's sexual pleasure with literally no drawbacks. Way I figure it, parents should be singing the praises of masturbation to their kids. OK, you're within the bounds of reason to ask Tommy to shut the door but at least he's not fucking in there. In fact, if you want to delay your teenagers first full coital bonk, you might want to extoll the virtues of mutual masturbation while you're at it. You'd be surprised what teenage boys will settle for. Your kid would literally sell his soul for a quick feel of boob through clothing and you think he's going to turn down a quick handjob? No, he's going to agree very enthuasiastically, enjoy it enormously and be exceedingly grateful. If he's got any brains, he'll also keep his mouth shut about it (teenage girls, the single best threat is "If you tell anyone, you'll never get another one"). Full blown sex can lead to pregnancy, STDs and complicated family gatherings, mutual masturbation just leads to Kleenex, snuggling and a desire to raid the fridge. There's a shitload of things people can do to get their rocks off without actual penetrative sex and I would suggest mentioning all of them. When you should start singing the virtues of handjobs and dryhumping is a question I'll leave to your discretion, you know your kids better than I do. Just make sure it's not too late and be sure to point out, repeatedly if necessary, that just because you can doesn't mean you have to. If you don't like them, don't want to go that far or even if you're just not in the mood, saying "no" is not only acceptable but required (and if you're an adult, "no" is your only acceptable response). Sex play, even the kind that stops short of penetration, is a game for two or more players and it's a lousy game unless everyone is enthuasiastic about playing. And if you find a copy of Hustler in your kid's room (either gender), just quietly put it under their pillow and forget about it.

A lot of conservatives like to imagine some golden age (almost always, the Fifties or earlier) where sexuality was something that seemingly didn't exist. If you're into that kind of thing, it might be a reassuring fantasy but it's a fantasy nonetheless. Fact is, our attitudes toward sexuality are actually pretty recent. And I don't mean "recent" as in the Sixties either. the sexual revolution of the Sixties was actually very dependent on class. If you were middle-class, not much changed for you. You still fucked at drive-ins but you were still quiet about it. In the counter-culture, we've actually gone backwards since then. According to the recollections of some of those who were around at the time, the liberalisation that the birth control pill allowed was such that for many women, it would be as simple as seeing someone they liked the look of and asking "Do you want to fuck?" (small note, I am applauding the women who were that up-front with their sexuality). Our attitudes toward teenage sexuality are no more than a century old and, in many cases, much younger. Shakespeare made Juliet all of thirteen years old (another note, that play is about the short-sightedness of young love, stop holding it up as a romance when it's a tragedy). The accounts of coppers from Victorian London are full of reports of having to move along children as young as elevn or twelve from copulating in gutters and yes, child molestation is as old as humanity as well. We are unique not because we are the first generation to have such things happen but because we are the first generation to be aware of it, we are the first generation to both know the extent of the problem and be in a position to do something about it and prevent it. Porn is as old as humanity too. In fact, our porn is relatively tame compared to that of ancient peoples which included incest (Egyptians), pederasty (Greeks), bondage (Romans) and bi or homosexuality (absolutely everyone). Again, it was really only in Victorian times that we even bothered trying to control porn. The sexually adventurous woman of the Sixties mentioned above wasn't really doing anything which men haven't done since the beginning of time (and the only reason women haven't done it just as long is because of the danger of pregnancy which the pill liberated them from). Hopefully, the generation of girls now being raised will understand that men love sexually direct women, it removes all the guesswork. The old system of putting out subtle signals if you were interested in screwing? Yeah, some men (including me) are absolutely hopeless at reading them. So we don't dare make a move, Either we are entirely oblivious to those subtle signals you put out or we don't trust ourselves not to be misinterpreting them. She just put her hand on my knee, is that a green light? No, maybe she's just being friendly. No, don't chance it. And we talk ourselves out of intimacy that way for years. So the advent of women who were clear and unambiguous that they liked sex and they would like to enjoy it with you, women like that were a miracle to me and men like me and not just for those reasons. The idea that someone would actually want to have sex with us, would find us sexually attractive and be prepared to say so, unambiguously, with no room for misinterpretation... The women who did so live forever in our memories, not just as masturbation material (although sometimes as that too) but because, when we have been rejected far more often than we have been accepted, punched far more often than we have been kissed, when the reaction of virtually everyone to you has been one of mockery or disgust, to be able to summon up a memory of someone in your head who clearly, vocally wanted you is something that lives forever in your mind.

We're going to back away from that subject now because I've realised that I'm revealing rather more about myself than I feel comfortable revealing or subjecting my readers to.

I'm not just looking to save sanity here but adjusting our attitude to sexuality to be less royally fucked up might literally save lives too. See, 99.9% of us have sexual desires (a miniscule number of people, for hormonal reasons, have no sexual desires at all) and every single last one of those people will find some way of releasing those desires. No exceptions, this is a biological impeartive engraved deep in our lizard brains. Some way, sometime, everyone will find a way to release those desires, even if they're celibate. Hell, especially if they're celibate. Even priests and nuns will masturbate and even if they've got Batman's willpower and don't, tough shit, your brain will give you sexy dreams and pretend to fuck while you're asleep anyway. Surpressing your sexuality your whole life is simply not an option and guess what happens when people try? Yeah, they get fucked up. Seriously fucked up. In my meatworld life, I'm partway through studying for a degree in Criminology. It's slow going and I have to do it by distance learning because of my mental problems but it's fascinating stuff in a horrifying way. Here's a little snippet: Did you know serial killers are subdivided by motivation? And did you know what the single largest subcategory of serial killers is? Yeah, it's sexual sadists. Now, we don't entirely understand the psychology of serial killers yet but there are certain things that sexual sadists have in common. They all exhibited the "unholy trinity" of bedwetting beyond the age where that's common, animal abuse and arson. Traumatic head injuries during chilhood or adolescence aren't present in every case but they crop up more often than coincidence would allow and there's one more thing which every last one of them has: Their sexuality was warped beyond recognition. Some were sexualised very early in life, some were raped by family members continually (Fred & Rose West, a highly unusual case of true folie a deux serial killers, both came from families where incest was common) and, in many cases, their sex drive was surpressed as it developed. I could go into why surpressing the sex drive would lead to sexual sadism (and I may do so in a future essay) but for simplicity, it's like trying to force a wedge into a rock; either the wedge gets warped or the rock breaks. If you don't let a sexuality develop on it's own and in it's own time, it will either warp the person's sexuality or it will break their mind altogether. Human sexuality is an incredibly powerful force and it is near-enough relentless. Sometimes it drives us to distraction, sometimes it drives us to crime (look up the psychology of arsonists sometime) but it cannot be denied.

And it doesn't need to be denied, not really. We've been doing this since before we were really humans, it's just sex, not launching a space shuttle.Sex isn't a matter of debate, it's not something you need an instruction manual for (although you might need an instruction manual for good sex). We needn't be ashamed of doing what makes us feel good (yes, annoying conservative, subject to the guidelines above obviously) and I think that's something an awful lot of people need to learn: Just because it feels good doesn't make it wrong.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Republican Lies, Part 12,397

Just three for today...

Claim: "The left compared Bush to Hitler too!"
Rebuttal: Some did, sure but not to anything like the same extent or with the same visibility. Yes, a few bloggers and some people at protests made the comparison but no-one with national exposure did. Keith Olbermann didn't, nor did Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz and that's pretty much it for openly liberal TV hosts because that's about all of the openly liberal TV hosts. Also, the accusation just plain doesn't make sense. Fascism is on the extreme right of the political spectrum so while comparisons with Bush were vastly overblown (and vastly overrepresented in right-wing recollections), at least they were on the same side of politics (and the comparison with the Joker was even sillier, the Joker was an anarchist). Now, you could claim that those protesters carrying Bush=Hitler signs prove the equivelence but if that were true, then we could indict the whole Tea Party movement of racism on the grounds of the racist signs carried at rallies. Speaking of which...

Claim: "The Tea Party is so not racist!"
Rebuttal: I'm actually kinder than many liberals, I tend to assume that most of the Teabaggers (they chose the name, they don't get to unchoose it just because it's embarrassing) aren't racist. I think the vast majority of them are extreme-right nutjobs but that doesn't necessarily make them racist. However, the Teabaggers have to deal with the fact that there is a racist element to their coalition. The witch doctor posters, "Lyin' African", the fact that so many are also Birthers (and that really is just racism), these point to a vocal racist element among the Teabaggers. Contrary to Teabagger claims, these didn't come from liberal provoceteurs, most of them came from before stuff like crashtheteaparty existed (and that pretty much fizzled out anyway). Blaming this on liberals is just blame shifting. Do these people represent the whole of the Teabaggers? Probably not but the failure to disavow them speaks volumes about their willingness to trade principles for power (and yes, the same criticism can be levelled at many lefties). A lot of this is based upon the Republican canard that more Democrats voted against the Civil Rights Act than Republicans. Which is true but wildly misleading. The fact is that prior to integration, the Republicans were the more liberal party and the champions of civil rights. As Republicans often point out, Martin Luther King Jr was a Republican during this period. However, what they leave out is that after Johnson forced integration, the majority of the racists left the Democratic party and moved first into George Wallace's segregationist American Independent party and, when that collapsed, into the Republican party.

Claim: "Fascism is on the left!"
Rebuttal: No, wrong, lie. This is a fantasy invented by Jonah Goldberg in his excremental book Liberal Fascism (which might as well be titled Everyone I Dislike Is Exactly The Same). That Goldberg had to rely on The Pink Swastika, a book no less revisionist than David Duke for his claim that Nazis had no problem with homosexuals says just about everything one needs to know about his scholarship. It's not difficult to confirm that the Nazis massacred gay people, they kept records. Sure, there were a few closeted gay people in the Nazi heirarchy but that's nothing unusual, there are plenty of closeted gays in the Republican heirarchy too. More to the point, Goldberg has to re-write the entire political spectrum to make his "argument" and confuse the aims of Communism with it's results. To start with, he pulls the assumption (seemingly straight from his ass) that moving to the left means more state control and moving to the right means less state control. This is flipping the entire political spectrum on it's head. The traditional spectrum assumes that the further you move to the left, the more you assume that people should be equal and the further you move to the right, the more you're ok with accepting inequalities. Now, we could have a reasonable discussion about how much state control should be involved in that but that's categorically not the same as "left=state power". In fact, that definition is unique to the USA. Further, Goldberg confuses the aims of Communism with it's results. Granted, the result of Communism in the USSR was state control of pretty much everything but the eventual aim of Communism was collectivist anarchy, the complete absence of a government. Again, this is not difficult to confirm, The Communist Manifesto outright says so. And while we're on the subject, Communism and socialism are not the same thing. Socialism is an economic theory about the distribution and ownership of the means of production. One can agree or disagree with that theory but it has bugger all to say about politics. Communism takes the economics of socialism and combines it with an anarchist political ideaology. No, the USSR didn't end up as a collectivist anarchy, nor did any other Communist state because Communism doesn't work. That doesn't change what they were aiming for. All Communists are also socialists but not all socialists are also Communists. Finally, on this subject, Goldberg makes a great fuss over praise for Mussolini and/or Hitler from a few (presumed) liberals such as Cole Porter. This is one of those cases where context is everything. Firstly, the reference to Mussolini in "You're The Tops" is actually from PG Wodehouse's revision, not from Porter's original. Secondly, and more importantly, in the early 1930s, there was a great fear that Communism would overtake Europe (much as the same was feared of Asia in the sixties). As the Fascists were explicitely and violently anti-Communist, some liberals looked upon them as a bulwark against Communism, a kind of "enemy of my enemy". While most didn't agree with the precepts of fascism, they viewed it as preferable to Communism and so, fascism became briefly fashionable among the educated class. Like virtually everyone else, they dropped any allegiance the second World War II broke out.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Tories Are Trying To Kill Me Again

Well, not me specifically (although never discount the possibility that one's paranoia is fully justified) but the sick and disabled generally.

Because of my wildly unstable mental condition, I am unable to hold a job. In the UK, that means I am eligible for two benefits specifically for the sick and disabled: ESA and DLA. DLA is the Disability Living Alliance and is only available to some of the disabled. ESA is the Employment & Support Allowance. In order to claim this, your doctor has to consider you unfit for work. Then, because the system assumes your doctor is a liar, you're examined by a notoriously corrupt company called ATOS. In theory, you can then be classified as "fit for work" (remember, you got ESA in the first place because your doctor considers you unfit), "partly fit for work" or put you in the "support group" (meaning utterly unfit for any kind of work). Except that as far as ATOS is concerned, the third category doesn't exist. ATOS considers me "partly fit for work". The rather more through DLA test considers me not just utterly unfit for work but an active danger to myself and others if I try.

When we had an election last month, the Tory party (which won by the skin of their teeth and was forced to form a coalition with the Liberals to take power) promised there wouldn't be a return to the tyrannical greed-is-good policies of Thatcher (think of her as Ronald Reagan in a dress and minus the charm). Having achieved power, they've interpreted it as a mandate to re-enact all of Thatcher's policies. The ones that have or will affect me are a re-examination of all ESA claimants (due to ATOS's "everyone can do something" attitude, we are already examined at least every six months), extending the same test to DLA claimants (test is notoriously bad at evaluating mental conditions and administered by a profoundly corrupt company). In future, all JSA (unemployment benefit) claimants will have their housing benefit cut by 10% after the first year. Seems that everyone knows we are in a recession and jobs are hard to come by until the subject of benefits comes up. Then everyone forgets we're in a recession and assumes jobs grow on trees.

This morning, the Tory Chancellor (finance minister), the frankly sociopathic George Osborne, announced that ESA will be cut. He claimed that he will protect those in genuine need but encourage those who can work into work. Remember, the whole reason you're on ESA in the first place is because your doctor says you're unfit for work. Under the current system, AFTER your own doctor considers you unfit for work, 68% are classified as completely fit for work and 23% are classified as partly fit for work. Only 9% are classified as unfit for work. As I said, ATOS think that category doesn't exist. Prior to the election, the Tories claimed that one in five ESA claimants were fit to work (again, and I'm repeating this to stress it, your own doctor has already certified you as unfit for work). According to those close to Osborne, he thinks many more are fit for work. I know what he's saying. He means every single one of them. As far as the Tories are concerned, there is not and never has been any such thing as someone incapable of work. If the horrendously biased test judges you fit for work (decision makers are supposed to take other evidence into account. They never, ever do), you're moved onto JSA, amounting to a massive cut in benefits which are already pitiful. After a year on JSA because, despite what the completely misleading and biased test says, you're unfit for work, your housing benefit is cut by 10%, presenting you with a choice between rent and food.

Osborne is simply lying. There will be no attempt to protect the most vulnerable. In fact, the vulnerability of the sick and disabled is exactly why they're being targetted for cuts. Based on a right-wing media campaign that there is masses of fraud in the benefits system (a complete lie), the public have now become vicious advocates of social darwinism and the Tories, who always were social darwinists, are more than happy to play along. Of course, libertarians and anarchists have a simple attitude to this which is "fuck you, it's your fault for being sick". Mental instability is already heavily stigmatised and being a benefit claimant has become the social equivelent of being a child molester thanks to the weekly two-minute hate of the tabloids. Now, it seems the already small amount of money we get is to be taken away as well. Of course, everyone (especially the Tories) can see what the result will be: Suicide and homelessness will skyrocket but then, that was their intention to begin with. My mental condition means that I am fighting every single day to fend off suicide. It seems that the Tories are determined to systematically encourage me to give in.

The Tories are also talking about offering the unemployed "incentives" to move to areas where employment is more plentiful. Of course, that's also going to lead to the further fracturing of an already shattered communal society (Thatcher, famously, didn't believe society existed) and the creation of ghettos and a class of job-seeking migrants criss-crossing the country. Which is entirely the Tories intention. Desperate people with no support structure are easy to abuse. I don't like to use Nazi comparisons much (primarily because I think they're overused and usually misused) but the creation of ghettos for the jobless? Yeah, I'm prepared to call that fascism.

Of course, I'm not ignoring the general publics viciousness here. For years now, the right-wing press (which is most of it, our media being largely owned by right-wing tycoons) media have been spinning the lie that all benefits claimants are workshy scroungers who live a life of luxury on the public tab. It's something similar to Reagan's welfare queen who drive a Caddy and just as fictional but the public, so spiteful, so stupid, have swallowed it whole. If you ever want to see the full outpouring of human bile, viciousness and hatred, start a discussion on the unemployed. It's truly amazing how everyone knows we are in a recession and jobs are hard to come by until teh subject of the unemployed and benefits comes up. Then everyone knows that jobs are ten-a-penny and you must be actively avoiding work to not have one. The general public believes that it's possible to get more money on benefits than from full-time work. Assuming a healthy single person with no dependents and on the average rent, benefits amount to just over seven grand a year. The passage of the minimum wage (which the Tories opposed and still do) means that it is factually illegal for a full-time job to pay less than that. Even if it were not, the general public thinks the solution is to cut the already pitiful benefits amount, not to actually raise wages to a decent level. You have the same phonomenon in the states, in the form of the working class people who constantly argue for cutting wages and eliminating minimum wage laws. In both our countries, the right has won the battle to recast unions (which exist in the first place to protect their members from abuse by business owners) as the enemy of the worker. In fact, the US and the Tories have succombed wholly to the psychopathic Randroid model that business is morally entitled to do whatever it likes and any form of protection for the worker is too much. I actually had some anonymous idiot on my blog yesterday make a comment that seemed to be arguing against the concept of worker's comp. Boy, is he in the wrong place (hey, braintrust, I think corporations are the outright enemy of the common people). As an unemployed, disabled person, I am a member of the most hated social group in Britain. Right now, I can be pretty sure that someone reading this is thinking "Well, you can type, why can't you work?" and the answer is because this is me on one of my better days. My better days are fairly rare and entirely unpredictable. I don't post on my worse days. Moreover, I have no control over when my mental state will suddenly do a nosedive. Even if, somehow, I could take a job where I could only work on my better days (and good luck finding one of those), how is my employer going to take it when my mind suddenly snaps and I start trying to hack my wrists open with a ballpoint pen? And no, that's not hyperbole, that has happened.

Moreover, when did society move from the dignity of human life to dignity of life only for the employed? There are people, lots of them, who wholeheartedly believe that if you can't work, you should be allowed to starve. They're called Social Darwinists or Libertarians and the Tory party is full of them. So is the Republican party. The BBC's "Have Your Say" message board is dominated by them, as are most open political boards. Their belief is fairly simple: If you can't contribute to society (by working, other forms of contribution are ignored), you deserve to die. While they usually won't outright state that or actually execute the unemployed, they will happily, gleefully push policies that will kill such people in droves. Our parents and grandparents worked hard for a living wage. We work like slaves for less (in most sectors) than they earned. We no longer work because we have to. Now, we work because we have been brainwashed into believing it is our duty to work for the good of our masters. We have been brainwashed into believing that our benefit as a society is the same as the benefit of the corporate class that rules over us. Right about now, some fuckwit is about to describe me as "anti-capitalist" or some synonym thereof like socialist or communist (or both since they rarely understand that the two are different things). I say, as I have said many times before, that I am not anti-capitalist. I am anti-corporatist. I am anti- the pervasive belief that capitalism should be treated as some sort of unassailable holy writ. I am anti- the belief that wealth should be valued more highly than labour. Most of all, I am anti- the belief that there is no inherant worth to a human life than their market value or how much they add to the bottom line.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Huckabee Is A Moran

OK, we already knew that. But in a recent interview with a College of New Jersey student publication called "the Perspective", he described same-sex marriage and civil unions as "not necessary". The full quote is even worse:
"You don't go ahead and accommodate every behavioral pattern that is against the ideal. That would be like saying, well, there are a lot of people who like to use drugs, so let's go ahead and accommodate those who want who use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, so we should accommodate them."

Now personally, I have no problem with polygamy but I can see practical reasons for banning it but more to the point, Huck is just jumping on the old slippery-slope fallacy here. Incest and polygamy have nothing to do with homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Incestuous relationships are (almost) always unequal, for a start. When idiots like Huck say "where does it end?", every nation that has legalised same-sex marriage or some comparable arrangement has said it ends at two consenting unrelated adults. This isn't rocket science. People like Huck like to that if you accept one thing, you must automatically accept everything which he says must come after (most of the right does this with socialism too) but reality and legislation don't work like that. It is perfectly possible to say "yes" to same-sex marriage and then, when the sister-fuckers turn up asking to legalise incest, tell them to go to hell.

His views on same-sex raising of children are scarcely more sensible: "Children are not puppies. This is not a time to see if we can experiment and find out, how does this work?". Oh, Mikey, the ship has long since sailed on this one. See, there's this miraculous resarch tool available called "Google" and if you used it, you would discover that there has already been an awful lot of research done into the effects on kids of being raised by same-gender parents. That research says that kids of same-sex couples grow up just as healthy and happy as kids of opposite-sex couples. Besides, if you were really concerned about kids, you would be doing more to promote the raising of children by extended families. Researchers have known for years that the single best arrangement for child-rearing, the one most likely to result in a happy, wall-adjusted child, is the extended family of parents, grantparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who all pitch in to help. There are a number of ways to encourage that. But I don't see Huck pushing them.

In the end, it's becoming increasingly obvious that one simply cannot be both Republican and pro-family. The stagnation (and in many sectors, actual lowering) of real wages has had a devastating effect on families, forcing both parents to work every hour available. I'm not a fifties-nostalgia guy, I don't think a woman's place is in the kitchen but I do think that it's pretty important to have a parent (or other member of the extended family above) at home with the kids. Exactly which parent or family member is for them to work out but yeah, I think it's important that when a kid comes home from school, there's actually someone there. A lot of conservatives claim to think the same thing but they seem incapable of taking the logical next step: That the reason both parents work these days isn't some metaphysical "career woman" demon, it's because the decent working/middle class wages of the fifties which allowed parents to stay home with their kids are a thing of the past. Since the Sixties, unions have been demonised and wages (in constant dollars) have, on average, dropped by around 13% (much more in some sectors) while prices have zoomed upward (utility bills, in constant dollars, verge on outright extortion). You think THAT might have something to do with the growing number of latchkey kids? Here, the state tried to handle that by instituting Child Tax Credit and naturally, the media have now invented the myth of women who make a career out of having babies.

Where was that concern for families during the Prop 8 campaign? Gay people married, formed families and the right campaigned to prevent more families being formed. Some even campaigned to forcibly divorce those who had already married (which would have been a legal nightmare if it had passed). Here where a bunch of morans trying to split families up in the name of being pro-family. And these morans accuse the left of being anti-family.

You cannot claim to be pro-family while also acting as a pawn of a corporate class which is raping the modern family. There exists this prevailing mythology that if you give the corporate class a tax break, they'll expand their business and hire more workers, thus aiding families. It's bollocks, a complete myth. The corporation employs the exact number of people it needs to do the work it needs, at the lowest wage it can get away with paying. If it chooses to expand, it will do so by using the existing business as security and leveraging assets and that's discounting the VAST sector of the economy that doesn't actually make anything physical in the first place. Tax breaks make no difference to what the corporation chooses to do with their business. They're nice, sure and the corporation would like to have as many as possible but they don't actually affect the way it does business. But I digress.

My point is that supporting the destruction of the working and middle class simply cannot be reconciled with a claim to being pro-family. Being pro-family means supporting a decent wage and healthcare. Corporations will not give those things if they can avoid it. They will not comply with the safety regulations which ensure the breadwinner's safety if they can avoid it (and they often can, as the disaster at Big Branch demonstrated).

Monday, March 15, 2010

For Gits And Shiggles...

I present to you, the one provable faith, the Church Of Google!

The Church Of Google homepage.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Psychopathology of Ayn Rand

You've probably heard of Ayn Rand. Most people have these days. She was the author of such inexplicably widely-read "novels" (really, barely-disguised political diatribes) as "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged". Her books are currently enjoying something of a boom among those who misguidedly believe they would be in the self-righteous community of "Atlases" at Galt's Gulch. The novels themselves are of only passing interest, being long, melodramatic and mediocrely written. Rather, it is the "philosophy" at the core of the novels which bears attention.

Hear ye, hear ye, I come to bury Rand, not to praise her. While numerous conservative thinkers (and, oddly, Neil Peart) have lauded Rand as a philosopher, few academic institutions include Rand or Objectivism as a philosophical discipline. Conservatives, such as Chris Sciabarra, tend to believe that the academic left decries Rand due to her anti-communist, pro-capitalist slant. Like much of the witterings of conservatives who presume to know what the left things, that presumes firstly, more power than the academic left has had in decades; secondly, assumes that the left was universally pro-communist and anti-capitalist, something which has never been true and thirdly, that Rand was saying anything worth studying. She wasn't. Rand's "philosophy" was the same defence of endless greed which mankind has been engaged in for eternity, the same attempt to place a moral cover on pure selfishness that has long been pursued by any number of exploiters down the centuries. Nietzche was, and is, pilloried for saying "God is dead", Rand is lauded for effectively saying "the self is God". There is nothing new here, save perhaps for the self-delusion that allows so many professed "Christians" to adhere to a philosophy that glorifies greed and athieism. There is also a cult-like deification of Rand by her followers and "swarming" of those who dare criticise her which reminds one very strongly of Scientology (and Glenn Beck followers but that's another matter).

There is another name for those who hold that the only proper moral consideration is the happiness of the self; for those who view empathy and compassion as weakness; who view selfishness as the only virtue: Psychopaths.

Contrary to popular belief, the psychopath is not automatically violent. Rather, the psychopath is defined by a near-complete lack of empathy. Robert Hare (who created the widely used "Hare Psychopathy Checklist") describes psychopaths as "instraspecies predators" who use a combination of charisma, manipulation, intimidation, sexuality and violence to satisfy their own desires. The more human qualities of conscience, empathy, remorse or guilt are either completely absent or extremely limited. It must be repeated that the psychopath is not necessarily violent. Indeed, many are not because their lives have never placed them in a position where violence was the only means to satisfy their desires. Many businessmen (and therefore, many politicians) profile as psychopaths because they exhibit the core characteristics or some section thereof. Ayn Rand should also be considered a psychopath.

Hare's checklist lists certain personality factors as indicative of psychopathy. The average person will perhaps exhibit one or, at most, two. The psychopath will exhibit all but on or two. In no particular order, these items are Glibness/superficial charm. After her writings became popular, Rand collected around herself a group of cultists who virtually worshipped her. However, shallow affect, the psychopath's charm is only ever superficial. As one comes to know and understand the psychopath more fully, the charm which initially attracted one to them is revealed as only skin-deep. In this, Rand was entirely textbook. She was described by most who knew her best as a bitter, friendless child who grew into an equally bitter and acidic woman. Grandiose sense of self-worth would certainly fit Rand. A woman who names her beliefs "Objectivism" out of a belief that any reasoning person who observes the objective truths of the world would necessarily come to full agreement with her would probably qualify. The fact that her little cult were required to memorise her works and discounted as "imbecilic" and "anti-life" if they asked questions simply seals the deal. Her sincere belief was that thinking freely would automatically lead to total agreement with her views. The ruthless policing of her cult would also qualify her under the Cunning/manipulative qualifier. Patholigical lying is one that Rand is probably innocent of. So far as we know, there is no reason to believe she was a pathological liar. Lack of remorse or guilt and Callous/lack of empathy could be described as "Ayn Rand syndrome". These two qualifiers are really the core of her books, philosophhy and worldview. In one of her books ([i]The Fountainhead[/i]), her "hero", Howard Roarke, blows up a housing project he designed when a minor alteration is made and then orders the jury to acquit him (the fact that, as an architect, Roarke was presumably contracted for his work and therefore, it wasn't "his" anymore piddles all over the supposed respect for property too). In Atlas Shrugged, her ode to the super-rich which imagines them going on strike against progressive taxation, Rand describes the rest of the world (without whom, let us not forget, the super-rich would be unable to make anything) is such niceties as "savages", "refuse" and "immitations of living beings". When one of the strikers engineers a train crash (because they don't just strike but commit acts of terrorism too), Rand makes it clear that she believes the murdered victims deserved their fate because they supported progressive taxation. A stewing hymn of Nietzchean will-to-power, misanthropy, failure to understand economics, feudalism and sexual politics verging on the obscene, Atlas Shrugged is full of this stuff. Her heroes spend their time both insisting that they are the heroic producers (and without labour, what are they producing exactly?) and bemoaning that others do not worship them as such. In her spare time, Rand was an admirer of serail killer William Hickman (I'll spare you the details of his crimes save to say that they were brutal even by serial killer standards), describing him as "a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy"; "other people do not exist for him and he does not see why they should" was her evaluation of his crimes and Rand considered this worthy of praise. Finally, on the personality factor, there is Failure to accept responsibility for one's actions. Since our record of Rand's life isn't fully detailed, it's difficult to say how much she satisfied this one. Certainly, when her lover Nathaniel Branden found another partner, she blamed him rather than herself or her increasingly poisonous views. We shouldn't sympathise with Rand as injured party too much here, she was herslelf married to someone entirely different and cruel enough to carry on the affair without regard to discretion. Indeed, if the only duty of the superman is to please himself, Brendan was acting according to Rand's ideals and she should have applauded him. She once said the the USA should be a "democracy of superiors only" with "superior" being defined as "rich". One scarcely needs to point out that such a system wouldn't be democracy at all but oligarchy and interestingly elitist for all her followers claim to despise elitism.

One doesn't need to work very hard to diagnose Rand. Her life and writings paint a vivid picture of psychopathy so clear and obvious that it is only surprising so many miss it. She was a phonomenally damaged woman for whom one can feel an element of pity (an emotion that disgusted her) even while aware of how terrifically dangerous she and her philosophy was and are. Rand herself died alone except for a hired nurse. Her deranged views had driven away anyone who might have been close to her. Like L. Ron Hubbard, however, her lunatic ideas have spawned a cult that would turn all of us into happy little psychopaths; a cult that includes many of the world's foremost economists, politicians and rabble-rousers (Beck again, although "intellectual terrorist" might be more appropriate). Like George Orwell, Rand imagined a dystopian world characterised by the powerful's exploitation of the powerless. Unlike Orwell, Rand wanted to live there.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Republican Reality Gap

Ann Coulter once said that liberals "take a perverse joy in lying", that liberals actively enjoy telling untruths. She was, of course, wrong about liberals (as she would have difficulty even understanding a thought process so different to her own) but I am increasingly of the opinion that her remarks were correct if applied to conservatives (projection, in other words). How else can one explain the warped version of reality which so many conservatives carry around in their heads? I'm not talking about subjects which reasonable people can disagree on, like the existence and disposition of god(s) or the merits of direct democracy. Those are issues without clear answer which reasonable people can have a discussion about. I'm talking about believing and not just believing but vehemently defending beliefs which are provably, factually wrong. Believing something which is untrue would be understandable if it were done out of ignorance but such people, when exposed to the facts, will vehemently attack or dismiss them and often the messenger as well. In an individual, this would be considered mental illness (and in the case of some, such as Glenn Beck, that would be an accurate description) but the mental health community is understandably reluctant to label whole swathes of the public as crazy. If someone believes they are being followed by a man-eating hedgehog, you can just give them a heavy stick and a chair to stand on and let them get on with it but when a whole section of the public is holding beliefs which are no less crazy, those beliefs somehow become an accepted part of the public dialogue. For example:

- Fascism is a left-wing ideaology
I think it was Goldberg who started this one. Since the end of WWII, fascism has been identified as a right-wing (right-fringe, really) ideaology. There has never been any significant doubt about that. It's only fairly recently that some conservatives have decided that everything unpleasent is teh fault of the left and so, fascism must be a left-wing ideaology. Partly, this is based on the mistaken belief that state control of everything was the aim of communism, rather than the result of communism being unworkable in the real world. It's the same mentality which claims that because I dislike legal abortion, child molestation and homosexuality, all those things must be caused by the teaching of evolution, which I also dislike. One can find the same mindset in those who tout that the Weather Underground proves that the left is more likely to be violent while forgetting, for example, Timothy McVeigh. It's rewriting history, stealing history really, for use as partisan political points. And while we're on the subject:

- Obama is a socialist/communist
This one is based on a misreading of history so obvious that it must have been deliberate. To claim that Obama, a wimpish moderate in any sane world, is socialist in any way is not just wrong but outright insane and yet, it persists. And it persists because most people don't actually know what "socialism" means. They don't understand that when socialism says "communal ownership of the means of production and distribution", it means ALL the means, not just an interest or equity in a few firms which would otherwise have collapsed. But the right-wing media machine doesn't like that reality and so, they endlessly promote the lie that any communal ownership of anything is automatically socialist. Part of me wonders if this societal case of the fallacy of the excluded middle is the result of decades of Cold War rhetoric or simply the decades of propoganda on behalf of capitalism or if there is even a difference between the two.

- Republicans have been better for minorities
There are two strands to this one. The first is based on a very selective misreading of history. There certainly was a time when Republicans were the better party for minorities, that's inarguable. The Democrats, pressured by a group of conservative Southern members known as "Dixiecrats" were rotten for minorities for some time. But this reading of history ignores everything that's happened since integration, when the Dixiecrats almost universally defected to the Republican party. Since then, the Democrats have (overall and in general) been better at minority rights. And minorities know it. There was a time when black people almost universally voted Republican, seeing it as the party of Lincoln. These days, better than 90% of black people vote Democrat. Which brings us onto the second strand of this argument. This strand holds that minorities typically vote for Democrats because Democrats give them more "government hand-outs". Now, firstly, let's remember that it was Bill Clinton who ended welfare as an entitlement program (for which, I don't think he's been criticised enough) but secondly, notice the inherent bias and racism in the allegation. It assumes that A) government can never do anything good and B) that black people will vote for Democrats because they're all lazy work-shys who depend on "government hand-outs". Sometimes, for those less overt with their racism, some vague theory about a "culture of dependence" will be added.

Those are just three examples of what could be dozens. Indeed, so devoted are conservatives to their alternate universe view of reality that I could write a book on the subject (and may yet do so). To be a conservative, it seems, is to be a conspiracist; to believe that there exists some secret cabal of leftie elites constantly rewriting the world in their favour (at which, the leftie responds "have you seen us? We can't even keep a radio station running"). This is what psychologists call "projection", the seeing of one's own faults in others and it is agravated by the conservative trend toward "purity" i.e. calling oneself a Republican means accepting all these points wholesale or we'll call you a RINO and make you a non-person in the party. A whole faction of the populace believes that Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and President Obama are left-fringe radicals (and "left-wing radical" now means anything to the left of Bush who really was a radical) and if you call these people crazy, which would seem the obvious reasponse, they start screaming about Stalin labelling people insane and protesting their patriotism (every kook, crank and domestic terrorist in American history has proclaimed their patriotism). You cannot reason with these people because they have left reason entirely behind. Rather, their allegiance to this talking point version of reality is closer to that of a religion or cult, their accusations of liberals worshipping Obama as a messiah just more of their endless projection (and nowehere is this more true than of Glenn Beck's acolytes who swarm liberal publications whenever an article is unflattering of Dear Leader). The conservative model is well established by this point: Lie about something until you convince a small portion of the populace, force publications to label well-established facts as controversial and then shout "teach the controversy!" and rely on social pressure to do the rest.

So, how can they be beaten? I'm honestly unsure. Education would be an obvious point but children spend far more time learning the talking point reality at home than they do learning the reality-based version at school and the textbooks of those schools are now largely drawn to Texas standards and already corrupted anyway. Conservative control of the media is now so pervasive and so entrenched that we should expect no help from that quarter either. I wish I had an answer but every future I envision ends up with the USA accepting a version of reality entirely at odds with the one the rest of the world accepts.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Just Occasionally, It's All Worthwhile...

So, I have this thing set up to email me when I get a comment. Mainly, I do this for spam-filtering services. You know the kind of thing; fake rolexes, boner pills, that kind of stuff. This morning, I'm sat here reading news and just pondering the idea of hitting the hay when an email drops into my inbox telling me that someone has commented on an old post (this one, if you're curious: ). "Odd", thinks I and open it. THIS is the message I find:

Man, you are a freaking monster!
If you want to see what happens to humans when they stray from God and indulge their perversions, look into the mirror.
There are not enough psycotrophic drugs in the world to quiet the monsters in your head.
Know this:
God does NOT hate because you are a sick perverse queer liberal, rather you ARE a sick perverse queer liberal BECAUSE God hates you.
Get help and not from those Tools Of Satan at the DUmp!

There is only one possible response to this: BWA-HA-HA!

This comes from "Anonymous" (because apparently, when you're an obnoxious Christian crusader, you don't have the guts to even use your handle)
who apparently thinks that a tirade of abuse from him would make a real impact on me (and no, Anon, reproducing your mail to mock you is not the same thing) and it has; it's massively brightened up my day. Not as amusing as the guy who sent me a formal anathema (I have that printed and pinned to my wall) but pretty good all the same.

See, I'm not usually someone who likes to divide the world into "types". I have a little more respect for the wonderous variety of humanity than that. But there is a certain type that I know well and loathe; self-righteous ultraconservative bigots and I figure that if they hate me, I must be doing something right. It's kind of like Hitler cussing you out (pardon my Godwins), you automatically know you're on the right side. Now, some Christians like to point to lines like that and sarcastically say "oh, how tolerant of you" but firstly, that's just playing word games and secondly, not to go all schoolyard on you, but he started it.

But, my dear Anon, you did get one thing right. I AM a tool of Satan. Matter of fact, I'm a worshipper of Satan, I willingly pledge my service to the lord of darkness and shadows and unlike your god, mine doesn't forbid sorcery. Are the shadows around you getting a little deeper, Anon, can you smell something odd? That's brimstone, my sweet little zealot. I should run to bed if I were you. Snuggle yourself up and pretend you don't feel anything unusual. Go on. We couldn't think any the less of you than we do already.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The United States Died Today

The ramifications of yesterday's Citizen's United decision are difficult to comprehend. In one fell swoop, in a decision which relied on no precedent or legal rule, the Supreme Court of Justice Roberts destroyed any and all limits on corporate financing of campaigns. No, it's too big. Let's walk back a little and take a brief look at how we got here.

In a decision in the nineteenth century, a no less misguided Supreme Court decided that corporations were, in certain important respects, persons and thus entitled to some of the protections laid out in the United States Constitution. Too much ancient history for you? OK, perhaps you'd feel better if we only went back about thirty years. It was about thirty years ago that the public began to be fed an endless diet of anti-union propoganda. Not coincidently, that coincided with the rise in Washington of a class of politicians who believed Ayn Rand was right; that corporations should be entirely unregulated. My opinions on Rand are fairly irrelevent here (although I believe she may be the most evil woman in history) but what that led to was a systematic dismantling of the limits on corporate activities that had been put in place after the Great Depression (also caused by corporations). Those politicians, in union with a media almost completely controlled by the right-wing, preached that the corporation was your friend and the public, so forgetful, so endlessly trusting, believed them.

Perhaps you would say that, since today's decision was made by judges, not politicians, that political movement is irrelevent. Sadly, that's untrue. Judges are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Congress. Because of that, the only judges considered for selection are those whose worldview matches that of their selector. President Reagan would not have even considered a judge who was pro-choice, for example. Confirmation is a little more complex but, given the Republican minority's effective current veto power (via their unprecedented lockstep filibuster on absolutely everything and no, wingers, the Democrats were nowhere near this bad to Bush) can be worked around. Bush just went with recess appointments (and it's unclear whether that was even meant to apply to judicial nominations). The lifetime appointments given the Supreme Court justices were originally meant to insulate judges from political pressures. In reality, they've done exactly the opposite and simply given a lifetime term to any justice's political biases.

Ah, now we can get to the ramifications of the decision. Keith Olbermann did a good job of scratching the surface in his special comment yesterday but, given the time limits of his medium, he could go only so far. Let's start with these: A lowering and eventual abolition of corporate taxes and, shortly thereafter, of taxes on the rich who run those corporations. How about the abolition of minimum wage laws? From now on, your salary will be whatever the corporation decides to pay you. Think you can go to another corporation and get paid better? Good luck. With corporations in control of Congress, expect ever more incentives to move jobs overseas. You're going to be competing for jobs with ever more people and if you won't take that job for fifty cents an hour, there's someone who will. Oh yeah, your taxes are going to go up as well. With the lowering and elimination of corporat tax and taxes on the wealthy, the money has to come from somewhere and it's going to come from you.

Oh, you think the politicians wouldn't go that far? Sorry, you will now choose your politicians from a pool of candidates funded (and therefore, vetted and approved) by the corporations. The corporations now control whether your politicians get elected and that means that politicians will do whatever the corporation demands. From now on, you don't have a senator from California, you have a senator from Aetna or Wellpoint or... Well, pick a corporation.

The dream of the corporations is and always has been to have a class of people rich enough to buy their crap and a much larger class poor enough and desperate enough to work for pennies to make their crap. So you can kiss any form of healthcare reform goodbye. If you get sick, tough luck, you're fired and out to starve in the gutter. Any and all forms of employee protection will go. You will now be employed for as long as the corporation wants you, at whatever wages they want to pay. Forget workplace safety laws, forget employer funded healthcare. Forget the enviroment too. The corporate sector has always resisted enviromental protections and now, they're in a position to do something about it. Forget same-sex marriage, some red meat thrown to the evangelicals while the corporations take over. Reproductive choice will go the same way and, since the corporation always wants to lower wages, ever more people competing for ever fewer jobs is always in their interests. Forget banking reform too, there are few corporations more powerful. Credit card reform is the same story. Oh, and forget consumer protections as well. So your drugs may or may not work anymore. Expect more wars, expect a draft or "national service" because the corporations that manufacture bullets and bombs and all that fancy equipment are still corporations, after all.

Think I'm being too alarmist? Perhaps. But look up the position of the average person during the Great Depression, or the Dark Ages or any age where those with the gold ruled openly. Your wages have already stagnated for years. Now, with nothing to stop them, they're going to start falling. Expect the few remaining rules on media ownership to be swept aside as well. The corporations need to control those to control you, to keep you distracted.

So who can you turn to to save you? Sorry, there's not much better news here. A Supreme Court decision, through the doctrine of stare decisis, establishes enforceable law for all courts within US jurisdiction. Through the principle of judicial review, any law passed by Congress will have to be compatible with this decision or it will simply be overturned, either by the Supreme Court or by a lower court with no choice but to follow this precedent. You could try for a Constitutional amendment, the Supreme Court can't overrule that but the chances of getting a Constitutional amendment through Congress with the current Republican veto are nil and if you think a lter Republican Congress will do so, you're dreaming. The Republican party has become the political arm of the business lobby and, through the right's control of the media, has managed to convince much of the populace that that's a good thing.

Enjoy your remaining time to complain about this on the internet as well. Because Net Neutrality will shortly become a thing of the past. And if you think "the people" are going to rise up and institute a revolution, forget it. History shows us that revolutions only happen when people's basic needs are threatened or removed and even then, it's only fifty-fifty. Bread and circuses. If the bellies of "the people" are full and they have, say, American Idol to distract them, they may grumble but, chances are, they won't do anything about it. They'll go to the polls every few years and cast their vote for the corporate-approved shill who sounds slightly better than the other corporate-approved shill. The people of Germany didn't rebel against Hitler, nor did the people of Rome rebel against Nero. Until the food stops coming, there will be no revolution and even if there was, who do you think makes your guns and bullets? I can make ammo, as can a lot of firearms hobbyists but the gun you need to fire them comes from those same corporations and, incidently, the chances are fairly good that you'd be too busy fending off the poor bastards now starving in the streets to take up arms against the corporations.

Amid all the accusations of socialism and communism the right has been throwing around lately, it seems that fascism has snuck in by the back door (shh, don't tell the wingers, they think fascism was a left-wing ideaology). Mussolini, the original fascist leader, once said that fascism should more properly be called corporatism as it represented the union of state and corporate power. "The people" or, as I like to call them, "the mob" may not know this because their education has been woefully limited and they have been lied to their whole lives but corporate control of the political sphere is the very definition of fascism. There might not be tanks in the streets (as people seem to believe fascism requires) but it's fascism all the same. You now live in a fascist country.

Let me put this in simple terms so that it cannot be misunderstood: The American experiment is over, it failed. Government of, by and for the people is done. Legislators are now for sale to the highest bidder. Government is now (as Olbermann brilliantly said) of the people, by the corporation, for the corporation. If you want to know what the future looks like, read some William Gibson or the rulebook for the roleplaying game Shadowrun (although, sadly, you won't get the magic). You have, generously, five years to destroy this monstrous decision, to save your country and the dream of America. If this decision is not overturned, cut down or otherwise circumvented, your entire way of life is over.

Get to work.

"Saint Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go / I owe my soul to the company store" ~ Johnny Cash