All Enemies, Foreign or Domestic

30 09 2009

For those of you who’ve just awakened from a coma, the US held a General Election last year in November. The new President was duly sworn in in January.  It is now the eve of October. In the seven months since the Irish kid became President, one would imagine that the divisive partisan discourse of the presidential campaign would have diminished in volume and level of vitriol, save for the utter loons at both extremes of what passes for the political spectrum.

Sadly, our imagination cannot match the weapons-grade wackiness of political reality in the US.

Unable to accept the sound thrashing they suffered in the polls, many people immediately began the stages of grief. Unfortunately, few of them have managed to move past the “Denial” phase. Rather than admit that their message (such as it was) and chosen standard-bearers were not acceptable to a majority of the electorate, the right fringes of the conservative side began denouncing the President for his alleged lack of Constitutional eligibility for the office. Despite proof provided by unbiased, trustworthy sources, these moonbats are still bitching and griping about Obama’s eligibility. I’m reasonably certain that the same people refusing to accept evidence which contradicts their delusions today are the same people who repeatedly urged the left fringe moonbats to accept the evidence of Dumbya’s 2000 election. If the plan was to expose their own hypocrisy, the right-wing nutjobs are doing a heckuva job.

Armed with a commanding majority in the Legislative branches and a Democratic President, the Left should have had a fairly easy time of things. This does not take into account the Democrats’ traditional aptitude at shooting themselves in the foot, however. When Democrats began trying to rush a whole raft of bills through Congress in support of their agenda, they managed to totally alienate many of their own party members and a large number of citizens. When those citizens started asking questions of their elected representatives (starting with, what’s the rush?), the Democratic response was stereotypically boorish. First came the haughty “Mother knows best, dear” replies, which alienated everyone even more. When public outcry became more organized, the Democratic leadership tried to marginalize their own constituents by claiming the opposing voices did not speak for a majority of Americans. As it became clearer that a significant percentage of citizens were not, in fact, supporting the Democratic agenda, the Democrats started copying the Republican playbook from the last 8 years. To the surprise of no one but the Congressional leaders, calling their constituents Nazis and similar epithets did not dampen the increasingly vocal opposition to the Democrats’ agenda.

This is mostly old hat to veteran watchers of the US political process. The more things change, the more they stay the same. After being on the outside for a decade or so, the Democrats immediately turned into their own worst enemies once they achieved power- just as the Republicans did starting in the mid-1990s.

What makes this tired cliche scary is that the frantic wingnuttery of the far right seems to have far too much control over the tattered remnants of the Republican party. Not content with the “birther” nonsense, some of the more vocal idiots on the red end of the spectrum are now publicly calling for the assassination of  President Obama and a military coup to overthrow the elected government of the United States.

When I took the Oath of Enlistment in the US Navy, I swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Even though I no longer wear my country’s uniform, I still consider myself bound by that oath. I refuse to allow a bunch of sore losers- from either party- bring down ruin upon my country. Those of us who are not rabid political ideologues must immediately, publicly, and loudly make it clear to the vermin calling for the death of the President or the military overthrow of our legally-elected government that such language will not be tolerated. Anyone who commits treason, as these right-wing ass-hats seem to be doing, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Immediately. These people are actually worse than the Islamic Fundamentalist lunatics we have been fighting for the last eight years. Their words and actions are creating a clear and present danger to the safety of the Republic.

Therefore, they are  the enemies of the United States of America, because they are striving to destroy the Constitution of the United States. They are my enemies.

Current status: Shaking with rage.

Current music: Cheyenne Anthem by Kansas

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Mortal Danger

17 09 2009

The pernicious god-botherers are at it again. In the apparently never-ending quest by the religiously stupid to destroy our civilization, a new voice has appeared in the wilderness. Judging by this moron’s screed against curiosity (reported in the New York Times Opinion pages), one may safely assume Duke University qualifies as a wilderness.

According to Paul Griffiths, professor of Divinity at Duke University, curiosity is a vice. One is tempted to inquire as to how someone without curiosity was able to earn a PHD, but that would probably be unkind and unfair. It is profoundly unfair to make fun of the senile and incontinent dotards among us, or so I am assured by my supervisor at work and the empty suits spewing garbage disguised as journalism on television.

So let us leave aside questions about the Professor’s mental capacity and degree of hypocrisy and concentrate upon his message: curiosity is a mortal sin. A quick perusal of search engine results for “mortal sins” brought me to a website about Thomas Aquinas. Oddly enough, curiosity wasn’t mentioned, although the various “sins” listed in the linked page could probably be forced to fit.

Therein lies the problem with the god-deluded pinheads among us: They are willing- nay, eager- to warp and twist their own “sacred” texts in order to force others to stop doing something which which the religiously indignant disagree. They never cry out against their own failings. Rather than following the teachings of their founders, those afflicted with the religion virus are determined to root out the motes in our eyes while ignoring the twenty-story cathedrals constructed from the beams in their own.

Ignorance is not bliss. The ignorant religious individual may in fact be blissful, but their contentment comes at the price of being raging dickheads to everyone not willing or able to violently campaign against the recognition of the real world about them. Some of Professor Griffith’s fellow religionists claim religious discrimination when they are prevented from discriminating against those with other religions (“We must punish the heretics for their blasphemy!” “Sorry, bub. Can’t let you do that.” “Why are you oppressing me?”). Their blissful ignorance is a plague upon our technological civilization. The religious are content to say, “I do not understand this, therefore it must be the work of God.” Fair enough. If you don’t want to learn more about our universe, that’s your privilege.

Unfortunately, this is not good enough for the god-botherers. Since they are too intellectually lazy to actually think, they demand that no one else be permitted to think, either. Given the power to do so, far too many supposedly god-fearing men and women would happily return all of humanity to the golden age of religious barbarism from millennium ago. “How dare you say that the Earth revolves around the sun?” “Sorry, bub. The evidence we’ve gathered shows pretty clearly …” “Blasphemy! Evidence means nothing when in conflict with the word of God! Burn the heretic!” When these dolts are regularly (and properly) ridiculed and derided because their anachronistic and autocratic demands bear no relation to consensus reality, they all too often set about trying to force reality into the grim little mold of their paranoid and archaic fantasies. In doing so, the religiously deluded manage to cause a great deal of harm to the society in which they reside. Sometimes they cause harm by destroying public discourse with their shrill refusal to accept anything less than total subjugation of the laws of physics to their nonsensical whims. Sometimes they do harm by infecting the political process of their home countries. Worst of all, some resort to violent action to destroy anyone who denies their faith.

I propose we wall off a portion of the planet- some relatively small, dismal, and unpleasant land which nobody really wants. Set armed guards about the place, to prevent the inmates from escaping. Any True believer who so desires may choose to enter this Reservation at any time after reaching voting age to practice his or her religion to their hearts’ content, but they will never be permitted to leave. Crusades, pogroms, jihads, infanticide, whatever they want to do to one another in the Reservation will be no concern to anyone on the outside. The rest of the planet can continue learning and growing, while the deity-diddlers can either shut up and go along for the ride or go to the Reservation for life.

Note that no one would be forced into Coventry for their beliefs. Anyone who wants to believe in a god or gods without trying to foist their delusions upon their neighbors will be permitted to join the rest of the world as we develop a better understanding of the universe. Any religious ass-hats who insist on trying to force others to believe as they do will be given the choice of shutting their yaps or getting sent to the Reservation.

This is not discrimination. This is self-defense. The religious pinheads are actively trying to destroy our civilization in favor of their theocratic despotism, and they aren’t even trying to conceal this. One of the candidates in the last US Presidential election publicly said he wanted his holy book to be the supreme law of the land, for just one example. These people have made no secret of the fact that they want to force everyone in this country to believe as they do- in every repellent aspect, and are therefore committing treason. They are the enemies of freedom, and the enemies of anyone who wants to think freely. I, for one, refuse to submit to the supposed mercies of religious zealots. Anyone who wishes to believe in a deity is free to do so until they try to force their beliefs on me. At that point, the religious dickheads have made themselves my enemy, to be dealt with as wolves are.

Here’s a little light reading on how ridiculous the god-botherers can get:

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said “Stop! don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” He said, “Like what?” I said, “Well…are you religious or atheist?” He said, “Religious.” I said, “Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?” He said, “Christian.” I said, “Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?” He said, “Baptist!” I said,”Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?” He said, “Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?” He said,”Reformed Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic scum“, and pushed him off.

To those words of wisdom from Emo Phillips I will add a few words on the subject from several more prominent personages:

The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history. –Robert Heinlein

At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols. -Aldous Huxley

When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow. -Anais Nin

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. -Blaise Pascal

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality. -George Bernard Shaw

We must respect the other fellow’s religion,but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. -H.L. Mencken

Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion– several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat, if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven. -Mark Twain

The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself. -Richard Francis Burton

All religions are the same:  religion is basically guilt, with different holidays. -Cathy Ladman

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.  -Seneca the Younger

I contend that we are both atheists.  I just believe in one fewer god than you do.  When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. -Stephen Roberts

It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics. -Robert Heinlein

As for me, I am a heretic. I am an infidel, a nonbeliever. I speak fluent blasphemy. But I make no attempt to force the rest of the world to believe as I do. This puts me in mortal danger from the followers of various deities.

Bring it on.


Current status: Enraged

Current music: Smaointe by Loreena McKennitt





Pseudo-poppycock

8 09 2009

As I write this, the nation is opening a new front in the (long-since lost) War on Drugs™. The Federal Gummint, along with a few local and state jurisdictions, have apparently decided that we (the People) cannot be trusted with pseudoephedrine.

For those of you not familiar with this over-the-counter drug, pseudoephedrine (brand name Sudafed) is a decongestant- a non-addictive chemical which dramatically helps with sinus congestion. It has been issued over the counter for decades because of its efficacy and lack of side effects. For millions of people with allergies, colds, flu, or chronic sinus problems, this inexpensive drug is a boon beyond price.

Unfortunately for those sufferers, the Gummint (in typical mama knows best dearie form) wants to make pseudoephedrine in all its guises available by prescription only. Not because of some recently-discovered side effect wherein the user is transformed into radioactive iguanas or might be prone to wandering bladder syndrome followed by catastrophic explosions. No, the Gummint (we only have your best interests at heart) is doing this (for your own good, of course) because some people might use it to make meth.

Never mind that ordinary citizens already have to show identification before purchasing this dangerous product. Never mind that such laws have had no measurable effect (in Oregon, for example, where this is already state law) on the production of meth anywhere. Never mind that pseudoephedrine is no longer strictly required to make meth anymore (there is a fast, cheap, and dirty method of making the vile stuff in a 2-liter soda bottle which does not require any pseudoephedrine-containing products). In a classic case of padlocking the barn door long after the horses have escaped, the Gummint is bound and determined to “do something” about the “meth epidemic”. In a typical Gummint frenzy to appear to be accomplishing something, this inexpensive drug may soon be only available with a doctor’s prescription. I assume the Gummint’s next smooth move will be to outlaw common household chemicals (such as baking soda) to combat meth, and perhaps potting soil to combat the “scourge” of marijuana.

Let’s take a look at the probable consequences of this action: A drug that anyone can now pick up at any grocery store or drug store for about six dollars will now only be available after paying a doctor upwards of fifty dollars for an office visit. Because the common, inexpensive drug must now be carried in the security of a drug store safe and only dispensed by licensed pharmacists, the cost per unit will have to be raised (to pay for the additional paperwork, among other things). Law-abiding citizens stricken with sinus headaches, allergies, or sinusitis will now have to wait until they can be seen by a doctor before getting any relief at all. The best part of the whole plan, of course, is that this will have almost no measurable effect on the production and sale of meth. The only possible real effect on meth production this might have would be to reduce production by local meth-heads and increase production by Mexican drug lords. By all means, let us create a new revenue stream for the narcolords south of the border. After all, those stalwart, law-abiding hombres would never dream of violating US laws.

This asinine drug war has to stop. We (the People) need to be smart enough to recognize a lost cause when we get beaten over the head with it day after day. Criminalizing common items in a demonstrably vain attempt to prevent people from getting high (or low) is having the effect of militarizing our police forces, creating a crippling number of overcrowded prisons, and fueling the drug violence in Mexico with billions of our dollars. We’ve gone this route before with Prohibition, and look how well that turned out. Seriously. Look at how Prohibition turned out. The parallels are staring us in our collective face, but we (the People) are seemingly unable to accept the stark reality of this War on Drugs™. Legislating puritanism does not work in a free society.

One of the people at the Centers for Disease Control was interviewed about the so-called “Crack Epidemic” of the 80’s by P.J. O’Rourke for his book, Parliament of Whores (published in 1991). This worthy forecast that the “crack epidemic” would be mostly over in about ten years because most of the crack addicts would be dead by then. This was entirely accurate, if politically incorrect.

Let us stop criminalizing so-called “dangerous drugs” and start criminalizing dangerous behavior. This is similar to what we are doing with alcohol in the wake of the failed experiment in national puritanism called Prohibition. We criminalized the behavior, not the substance. All we (the People) need to do is extrapolate existing laws to cover dangerous behaviors which are already illegal- such as driving under the influence. Drive while stoned or drunk, spend a  year in jail, mandatory. Cause damage to people or property while stoned or drunk, double that. Kill someone while stoned or drunk, life in prison without parole (or death, if your state allows this). Pretty soon, those without the self-discipline to enjoy their drug of choice at home will all be dead or in prison. This idea has the advantage of being far cheaper than the current War on Drugs™, but would also strangle the flow of cash to the drug lords in Mexico. Taxing the various recreational pharmaceuticals will be problematic for a considerable time, but the huge cost savings from not funding the attempts to win an unwinnable “War” should really be enough of an incentive to try this. Any tax revenue raised would be pure profit for the Gummint, compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars currently being poured down a rat-hole every year for no appreciable gain.  It also has the enormous advantage of being far more friendly to liberties of the individual citizen.

Any one of these advantages ought to be enough to convince people to end this wasteful War on Drugs™. Sadly, I fear far too many of my fellow Americans- on both sides of the political spectrum- are uninterested in rational decision making or logical choices. Those on the left might claim to be appalled at the callous disregard for the lives of the addicts, while those on the right might claim to be outraged at the idea that someone might be enjoying himself outside of their idea of “proper behavior”, but they’re both just trying to disguise their desire to control others.

Here’s a lovely quote from Heinlein which seems appropriate:

Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.

Current status: Surly, suspicious, and lacking in altruism

Current music: Uprising by Muse