Archives for category: fascism

I swear to you I will never go there, nor will I buy any products made there, nor will I be friends with anyone who lives there, until this law is overturned.

Think about this law when people tell you that on the whole, religion is a Good Thing. You have to have serious chutzpah to say that anymore. People are starting to wise up.

Well, maybe not in Oklahoma. But soon Oklahoma will be a smoldering wasteland, with no one left but religious zealots fighting over who loves Jesus more. Let’s make D.C. the 50th state and call Oklahoma the District of Not OK.

BoingBoing has a post called Are Muslim Women Oppressed? Ask One. In it, guest blogger Aman Ali quotes Mariam Sobh saying things like:

Oppression is such a loaded word and it conjures up all sorts of negative images

Both of these observations are beside the point. The point is that oppression is bad, and you are a victim of it.

I’m not harming anyone by wearing a piece of material on my head so what’s the big deal?

You are validating a system of oppression. It has not harmed you — yet — but it is harming millions of other women. How can you not understand that?

it’s something I believe is mandated in my religion. No one is forcing me

Listen to yourself! It’s mandated by your religion, but no one is forcing you?

It all comes down to personal interpretation and understanding

No, it comes down to grievous harms being perpetrated against millions of women in the name of religion.

It’s a testament to myself that I want to be a better person

Better in what way? — more compassionate, perhaps? Is that what you’re going for?

If people try to use Islam as a way to manipulate women then those individuals are sick and twisted.

Yes. So turn around and look at who is manipulating you. They are sick and twisted — and they must be so happy.

I’m thankful that I have the life I do, where I can practice what I believe and not worry about anyone forcing me to do something against my will.

Sooooo happy!

I submitted a comment for this post and it got disemvoweled, even though it was perfectly civilized. Here’s what it said:

“I do so because it’s something I believe is mandated in my religion. No one is forcing me”

You missed it. Listen to yourself. Your religion is forcing you.

Comments from Muslim women are not more valuable than comments from anyone else. This is because Muslims have been brainwashed. If you have not been brainwashed, you will not declare yourself to be Muslim. There is nothing in it for you. Nothing. Being Muslim is of no benefit to the believer. However, in strongly Islamic areas if you refuse to be Muslim they will kill you. Most Muslims accept their religion for exactly one reason: they have no choice.

So, BoingBoing published a hideously disingenuous article — and then trashed my dissenting comment, which contained not a single misstatement of fact (and no swear-words). I am therefore deleting BoingBoing from my reader list. I can no longer trust it not to be stupid, so I do not plan to read it ever again.

Dan Hind, author of the brilliant The Threat to Reason, has a new, short book on the recent economic crash and our government’s sickening attempts to rescue us from it by giving all our money to the guys who caused it.

This once broadly welcomed project, to put an end to financial turbulence and the miseries it brings with it, you know, unemployment, political extremism and global war, became increasingly controversial in intellectual circles in the decades that followed [the Bretton Woods conference]. Some felt that the maintenance of peace and prosperity came at too high a price in terms of freedom for capital. What good was peace and prosperity, if capitalists had to make do with less than a license to do what the fuck they wanted all the time, everywhere?

I’m not an expert on financial matters, but some of the aspects of our situation seem inarguable. It’s possible that the global financial markets performed valuable functions at one time, but they now appear to be deliberately contrived to siphon money from those who could have used it to those who already have too much. But it’s worse than this. They are set up to skim off so much money that the people who are forced to use them can go broke. That is, the markets can destroy people — except for the people who designed and maintain the markets. Somehow, the architects of the system continue to collect their staggering fees, no matter what. Why do we allow this?

This then was the accident waiting to happen — debt was deployed as the solution to flat buying power. Debt counteracted the effects of stagnant real wages for as long as it expanded. As a result economies could continue to grow even as they grew more unequal. Notional gains in asset wealth encouraged workers to borrow ever more money.

So there was only one problem with the organization of political economy in the period after 1970; it was always, eventually, going to end in disaster. Other than that it was a great idea.

Jump! You Fuckers! is available as a free download.

The constitution of Iraq was written by theocrats. Here is the result.

Article 1:

The Republic of Iraq is a single federal, independent and fully sovereign state in which the system of government is republican, representative, parliamentary, and democratic, and this Constitution is a guarantor of the unity of Iraq.

Article 2:

First: Islam is the official religion of the State and is a foundation source of legislation:

A. No law may be enacted that contradicts the established provisions of Islam.

B. No law may be enacted that contradicts the principles of democracy.

C. No law may be enacted that contradicts the rights and basic freedoms stipulated in this Constitution.

Points A and B are completely incompatible. Right here at the start, the constitution adopts a rule that cannot be followed, no matter how hard you try. This document is guaranteed to cause interminable problems for its country. That’s what you get when you let the imams call the shots – because they don’t actually mind if everything goes to hell around them, as long as they stay in charge.

Okay, good. Appreciate you all being here. And I just want to say hi to Alaska.

Sarah Palin says the weirdest things.

Well, people who know me know that besides faith and family, nothing is more important to me than our beloved Alaska. Serving her people is the greatest honor that I could imagine.

Is she goofy? Wacky? Not playing with a full deck?

Life is too short to compromise time and resources. And though it may be tempting and more comfortable to just kind of keep your head down and plod along and appease those who are demanding, hey, just sit down and shut up, but that’s a worthless, easy path. That’s a quitters way out.

I don’t know. There might be some sense in which finishing out your elected term would be like quitting. But I don’t see how it could be as much like quitting as quitting is.

A good point guard, here’s what she does. She drives through a full-court press, protecting the ball, keeping her head up because she needs to keep her eye on the basket. And she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can win. And that is what I’m doing — keeping our eye on the ball that represents sound priorities. … And I know when it’s time to pass the ball for victory.

I have a theory. When someone keeps saying things that make no sense; and you’re thinking, how can she say that, is she daft? — but she doesn’t seem debilitated; she can add and subtract and campaign for public office and so on; she’s not autistic or psychotic or senile — maybe she’s not crazy at all. Maybe she’s not unable to discuss reality but rather unwilling. Maybe her mangled sentences and tortured logic result from having to pick and choose which facts to hide and which to reveal. Maybe she’s not a lunatic but a liar.

Take the words of General MacArthur. He said, we are not retreating, we are advancing in another direction.

And if this is an interesting theory, it is applicable to many, many people out there besides the ex-Governor of Alaska.

bumper sticker

Interesting meme.

Do I owe my freedom to the mercenaries who are sent overseas by our government to kill people who have no opinion about my freedom one way or another?

Of course not.

Robert Wright: Why the “New Atheists” are Right-Wing on Foreign Policy

What the hell happened to Robert Wright? Nonzero was a really interesting book. Now he’s doing apologetics. His new piece in the Huffington Post is awful.

First of all, the title is simply a lie. P.Z. Myers responded very quickly: Uh, we aren’t.

Atheism has little intrinsic ideological bent. (Karl Marx. Ayn Rand. I rest my case.) But things change when you add the key ingredient of the new atheism: the idea that religion is not just mistaken, but evil — that it “poisons everything,” as Hitchens has put it with characteristic nuance.

Consider Dawkins’s assertion, in his book The God Delusion, that if there were no religion then there would be “no Israeli-Palestinian wars.”

For starters, this is just wrong. The initial resistance to the settlements, and to the establishment of Israel, wasn’t essentially religious, and neither was the original establishment of the settlements, or even of Israel.

The problem here is that two ethnic groups disagree about who deserves what land.

No, that is not the problem here. The Palestinians are an ethnic group. They are, by coincidence, from the area that has long been called Palestine. The Jews are not an ethnic group, they are a religious group. Their claim on the land is not historical but literary. Their excuse for living there is that G-d gave it to them. It is true that the dispute is not “essentially religious” — no argument is. Two tribes want the same thing, and they fight over it. One or both of them can give religious reasons for their position, but all religious reduce to “God is on our side”, which is false; therefore, there are no valid religious reasons. Logically speaking, there is no such thing as having a religious reason for your actions. You might believe, or say, that your motivations are religious, but this cannot actually be true. However, having said all that, the proximate reason for the establishment of Israel was that people wanted to do something for a class of people, the Jews, who used scriptural authority for the selection of their “homeland”. If there was not a religion called Judaism, there would not be a conflict over that land now called Israel. That is the notion behind Dawkins’s statement. It is just as simple and obvious as saying that in the absence of Islam no one would have destroyed the Twin Towers. Of course, there is always going to be conflict between human groups. But without religion, these specific conflicts — a “Jewish homeland”, an Islamic terror-cell — would not have occurred. I do not know why Wright wants to take issue with this trivial observation.

And of course Hitchens’s subtitle comes from the same place. This is one of the ways religion “poisons everything”: by motivating or rationalizing conflicts that might otherwise have been avoided. Wright rejects this, and adds a mean-spirited jab: “as Hitchens has put it with characteristic nuance.”

Of course, when religion is handy, special problems can arise. If there were no belief in paradise, there would be few suicide bombers. Then again, there might be less charity.

Oh, really? What an odd thing to say.

Whether belief in posthumous rewards has on balance done more harm than good is an empirical question whose subtlety Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens don’t exactly emphasize.

Another jab! Wright really doesn’t like these guys. Because they are too strongly against religion. What a bizarre development.

I think that this “empirical question” has been adequately tested. Like, for about 5,000 years. True, the experiment has not had a reliable control. But I see no reason to think that “belief in posthumous rewards” has done anyone any good, ever. The only people who think it might are the people who stand to benefit from it. And the only people who benefit from religion are the people who organize it: the imams, popes, and divinely-appointed kings. I think that’s what we’re really talking about here — isn’t it, Mr. Wright? You are an authoritarian. You like religion because it reinforces authority. Have you forgotten that it’s all lies, one hundred percent, from beginning to end? Is that really OK with you? Well, even if it is, please stop lying about us.

It was a blast to hear Conceptual Guerilla read my post On Conservative “Philosophy” out loud. He’s got a terrific voice. My words sounded mighty impressive in his mouth. The YASHWATA quote starts about 19 minutes into the podcast of 26 December 2008.

CG, a broadcaster and podcaster, is one of the very few liberal voices out there who gets loud and angry on the air. He calls liars liars and scumbags scumbags. He’s fun to listen to — more fun than any conservative ranter, because you don’t have to put up with the relentless, stomach-twisting mendacity of a Limbaugh or an O’Reilly.

After my four minutes of fame (near 23:00) he segues into a good point I have not heard before. He says it something like this (I’m going to edit my transcript a little, because reading so is different from listening):

Remember something that I’ve said about conservatives, and that YASHWATA backs up. Not only do they not want to solve certain problems, but they affirmatively want to not solve them. Conservatives want to not have universal health care. They want health care to not be universal. They want some people to do without it. They want there to be people who don’t have it. They want there to be people who live in poverty. When you say, “We want to do something about these problems” — conservatives want to not do something about these problems.

Which is where the lie comes in. They don’t want to admit that, because they would lose elections! So they lie about it.

Knowing that a few people read my post and understood it… I can hardly imagine a more pleasant feeling.

There is much debate in the press about what to do with the prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp. Most people seem to agree on one proposition: “We need to close it, but how?

Well, I’m not an expert in these matters, but one procedure does occur to me: Open the doors.

I mean, if the problem is that there are people in this prison, and they shouldn’t have been put in there, then one solution would be to open the fucking doors, so that anyone who has had enough American hospitality can leave.

“It’s complicated,” folks are saying. “These people are terrorists — we can’t just let them go.”

Oh, it’s complicated, all right — but not for that reason. One of the main reasons to close this “detention camp” (and every other prison run by military personnel) is that we don’t know if these people are terrorists.

I repeat: “these people are terrorists” is not the real problem, because we do not know that these people are terrorists. If we had real evidence against them, we could put them through a real trial and let a real jury decide. But our military has been keeping these people in this despicable place, under the most godawful conditions, without such evidence. For the military, the “problem” is that they “know” that the prisoners are terrorists, although they don’t have any court-admissible evidence. So they want to keep these guys locked up, on the basis of — I don’t know, their gut feelings or something.

But it’s not as if there’s court-admissible evidence, and then there’s another kind of evidence, not valid in a court of law but, for most rational beings, just as convincing. No. We have standards for evidential validity, and they don’t depend on whether a guy was picked up in Baghdad or Baltimore. If you can’t show me some really good reasons why you think this guy committed a crime, then he shouldn’t be in jail. You never should have “detained” him, and you need to let him out, now. You need to let him out now. Let him out now.

From the point of view of the U.S. legal system, if you don’t have some damned good evidence against this man, he is innocent. It’s that simple! So, in that case, he needs to be released now. Don’t you see? It’s immoral to keep him confined even one more minute! What part of LET THEM OUT don’t you understand?

Someone will say, “Well, that’s just silly. You open the doors, and they walk out, and they’re in Cuba. That’s not a good solution!”

How do you know? I bet most of them would rather be in Cuba than in a military prison, hooded and shackled and tortured every day. — Remember? Gitmo isn’t just a cage. It’s a torture chamber. We know that now. It was designed to be a torture chamber by the fascist administration we’ve just recently voted out of office, thank God. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld demanded that torture be conducted there. “It’s a no-brainer,” Cheney famously declared.

The number one reason that these men are in prison is that the prison helps make the Republicans’ “war on terror” seem more plausible. This exactly the same reason we have so much “security theater” at the airport. It serves to remind us that the “war on terror” is real, and that we’ll never be safe unless we let the Republicans take away all our civil rights, along with all our money. But the “war on terror” is not real. It never was real. It’s bullshit, and it was always bullshit, from beginning to end. Some terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers — yes. And ever since then, the U.S. government has used that attack as an excuse for their violent, deceitful, misanthropic, nihilistic policies. They have done almost nothing to prevent another similar attack. Instead, they have stoked the fires of hatred against this country and waited eagerly for another attack. But the armies of terror who might have come back at us with some new, staggering blow are not there. They don’t exist. The war in Iraq was not fought to bring those people down — that was an excuse, remember? It’s all been revealed, it’s common knowledge! The war was based on lies, we know that now!

The whole thing stinks. It has to end. There was never a good reason for any of these men to be put into a U.S. military prison in the first place. Why are they there? — mostly because the Bush administration declared war on Iraq. And the war was utterly unjustified and utterly immoral. It was rationalized with bewildering lies and prosecuted with bone-chilling fury. It should never have been started. And the people who are in this prison now were picked up as part of the prosecution of the war. If you wanted to set up a situation where perfectly innocent people would be picked up and thrown in jail and tortured, perhaps to the point of death, with no consel, no contact, no recourse, no hope of any kind — if you wanted that, you could not have orchestrated a more perfect setup.

Soldiers in a war they know in their guts is wrong, sent to round up “enemies” in the street. Who the fuck are they going to pick up? How do you find the enemies? You can’t, so you pick up whoever gets in your way or looks at you funny. And when you get them into their cells the shame picks at your nerves and the horror dusts your breath. Why not “soften him up” for interrogation, you’ll ask. None of this matters. We’re all going to Hell anyway, that’s for damn sure. This whole world is sick from top to bottom, left to right, inside to out. None of it matters anymore.

That’s Gitmo. It’s downtown Nihilon. And it was deliberately set up to be that way.

The people in there should not be there. They were captured for unknown but probably spurious reasons, during a war fought for the most evil of purposes. Let them go. Let them go now.

Someone might say, “Well, I kind of agree with you but I happen to know that some of these guys really are dangerous.” I suppose that’s conceivable but 1. I think it’s mighty unlikely, and 2. it’s a risk we’ll have to take. You see, the people who captured these poor sods were military men under the command of some of the most evil men the world has ever seen. The commanders responsible for ordering the roundups are now known to be liars of such passion and versatility that we would be morons if we ever believed anything they said ever again. So, I repeat: we do not know that anyone at Guantánamo has ever committed a crime. If you rounded up a thousand people in downtown Sacramento and put them all in prison, and I wanted you to met them go, you could say, “But there’s a good chance some of them are criminals!” And I would say: “As stated, that is indeed statistically plausible. But the bigger picture is that you just put a thousand people in prison without reasonable cause. That makes you a much, much worse criminal than any of them are likely to be. You are the danger and you are the flight risk, not them. You are the one against whom we have good evidence, not them. So we are going to let them go, every single one of them, no delays, no excuses, no “soul-searching” or “problem-solving” — we are going to let them go right now, and you are going to jail.”

It’s the people who put us into that war who should be in prison. We know what they did. They’ve told us. They are war criminals. The rest of our citizens deserve to be protected from them. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and the rest of them should be in jail. For the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, the men who were put into that prison in Cuba should be released immediately. They should not be considered criminals; rather, their confinement is a crime, one of thousands perpetrated by the last administration. It needs to end, not next year, not next month, but right now. No other course embodies the slightest justice.

“Is waterboarding torture?” I want everyone who considers this an interesting question to get the fuck out of my country. Go live in fucking Yemen or something. Here’s the rule: Don’t do evil things to people. If what you want to do is close enough to torture to prompt a national hairsplitting festival, then don’t fucking do it. Why do you even want to do things like that? What the fuck is wrong with you?

I’m sorry, Mr. Hitchens, you missed it. Is waterboarding torture? I don’t give a shit. Here’s a better question. Why are you asking this stupid, filthy, deeply twisted question? Here’s the rule we follow in my country, when it’s not run by a kakistocracy: Don’t do anything, to anyone, that’s even a little bit like torture, ever. Why didn’t you put that in your Vanity Fair piece? How much did they pay you to say something “interesting,” rather than that?