liveonearth: (Default)
I read this morning about a doctor who went mad and shot people in a hospital. As a doctor myself, I know that docs have terrible stresses trying to deal with a corrupt medical-industrial system that impairs our ability to help people regain their health. Then I went to look at the NY times article, here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/30/nyregion/bronx-hospital-shooting.html. He's richly melanated, that is to say, he has lived a life of fear because of his skin color. I infer from his violence that he may have been guilty of the accusation--sexual misconduct. He was a man, and he was angry enough to shoot others and hopeless enough to set himself on fire and shoot himself. He did not see any way out. He knew he would not receive compassion.

What people forget when they demonize any group of humans is that they are human. Dark skinned people. Doctors. Men. Gun owners. Murderers. Whatever group. All humans share the same basic needs. When those needs are not met, we have the same basic emotions. Driven hard enough, any of us could become dangerous. Hitler had reasons. The Arabs that flew airplanes into buildings had reasons. No one is pure evil, we are simply human and if tortured we can lash out, or become cunning.

My hope that that everyone who reads this will take a deep breath or three and think about the kind of pain that drives a person to such horrors. My hope is that compassion will rise in spite of the poisonous atmosphere of shame and blame that dominates our political world. We all deserve an opportunity to be free from fear, long enough to find our centers and our hearts and reach out into the world from that place. It will take a lot of us finding compassion to heal these wounds.
liveonearth: (Default)
Maher crossed a line with his joke, but that's what comedians do. It's the taboos that make jokes funny, the fact that they refer to something that is painful or secret. The US history of enslaving Africans is not secret, but it is painful. The pain is felt by many of us, perhaps not the same for those with other colors of skin, but there is no doubt that it has marred many generations of our society. When/how will we ever get past it? Can the descendants of slavery ever forgive?

My great grandmother lived in the piedmont of North Carolina and owned a slave. Am I guilty? Should I be punished for that? I have been punished, and I'm sure I will be punished more. Do I deserve this punishment? I go out of my way to protect and include black people. Does my calling them black people make me a racist? How about brown people, red people, white people? Does my effort to be inclusive make me an ass? Is there any way for a white person to broach this subject without it being negatively received? I know I am priviledged but I am not immune to the attitudes of people around me of every description.

Racial relations get worse when people are unfairly punished. I was born with no ill will toward any group. Painful experiences in my life have led me to be wary of certain groups of people. Usually it is the people who have historically been abused who later become agressive or condescending. Jewish people have treated me badly, moreso than Blacks but some of them too have assumed that I am a racist and helped to make me into one. It is understandable, but it does not result in the whirled peas that we seek.

Those who say Maher should be fired for racism, seriously now? He did not call anyone else a nigger, he was referring to himself. His joke was on TV and showed that he understood the class system that was applied to black slaves in our nation. Who else but a comedian can publicly break taboos and get people talking about it? If we are to heal these wounds, we need to talk about it. Keeping it secret and taboo does nothing to reduce the pain. Time passing, generations shifting, that reduces the pain... but I wish we could do it faster.

This brings me to the question about words. The word nigger is apparently 100% taboo, at least for a white person to say on TV. It appears to me that it is just a word. It is not the word that I am worried about, it is the attitude. Certainly words and attitudes are linked, but it is not a 100% correlation between saying the word nigger and being a racist or promoting racism. I do not believe that Maher is a racist. I think he is trying to defuse the tensions around our dark history and get us all to laugh, together, and let the pain slip away.

What other words are taboo? I can't think of any that the two white men I live with react to as strongly. Honky? LOL.

I wish "bitch" were less acceptable. The word has been applied to me many times in my life, usually because I refused to do what a white man wanted me to do, or because I got angry. The word bitch has been used to suppress the will of a huge class of people, and it is still in common usage and acceptable in rap music and other places. I am allowed to get angry and to assert myself without deserving denigration. But women have been put down for a long time and a large segment of our population would like to keep us down. If Maher had said "I'm a bitch", I would not have been offended. That is not the same as him calling someone else a bitch.

I would like to hear from the descendants of slaves in the US as to whether they think Maher should be fired. I bet they will say no. He is doing his job, making us laugh out things that hurt.
liveonearth: (Default)
The uglification of which I speak didn't exactly start with Ailes (Fox), but he certainly boosted it. One of the hats that I wear is at a natural products pharmacy; we dispense herbs and supplements and a few hormonal products. I spend some time sitting behind the counter simply helping the next person who comes to the window. Most people are decent, kind, and even patient. But lately I've noticed a trend. The proportion of cranky, mean and abusive people is increasing.

Today it was a lady by the name of Hammer. What's in a name, I ask? Did your name make you into a prosecutor in the pharmacy line? How many hammering questions does one have to tolerate before you are satisfied? Is there an inkling of generosity in you? A morsel of patience? An ounce of kindness? I saw none. I experienced questions hammering in faster than they could be answered, demands stacked up while I was trying to answer the questions, topped with an insult. Ms Hammer is just the most recent experience of this sort. There was one yesterday, and the day before more than one. Too bad it's nice people who get cancer and not the bitches.

This is Oregon. People in general are nice here. But not the raving maniac that stabbed two men to death the other day trying to get to some young women who were a different color than him. This disease of condemnation and hatred is seeping deeper and deeper into our culture, and leaking out in more settings all the time. I do not know how to fix it. I don't believe in phony niceness, but I also don't believe in punishing people just because you can. I am sensitive and not cut out to tolerate verbal abuse in the course of my work. I try to contain my anguish until I am in private. Then I weep. I try to be kind to the people that I meet. And I may have to find a way to not serve the public any more.

In Japan they have a name for it. Hikikomori. It's a sociological phenomenon in which people simply stop participating in society. If society is ugly, then decent people will not show up. If decent people do not show up, society will uglify even more. If we all retreat into our tiny little bubbles even more than we already have, the fractures in our supposed union of states and free people becomes null and void. This culture is headed for the bloodbath.
liveonearth: (Math: Be rational/get real)

A president intent on developing

a base of enthusiastic supporters

who believe bald-faced lies

poses a clear threat

to American democracy.

This is how tyranny begins.

--Robert Reich,

here: http://robertreich.org/post/154643782110

liveonearth: (Homer Simpson "D'oh!")

We are pending a bona fide axis II becoming president. Plus ADHD without question. I've taken my deep breaths, become solid, and am looking forward to messing with the Clown every chance I get. I will be ok for sure; I crossed that line I think. But you may not be ok, nor your beautiful child, nor mine. That's what I worry about. I spent 30 years dealing with criminals, but never a billionaire criminal... however, the tone is unmistakable... and it smacks of the most evil I've seen. This guy has more issues than any 100 random people put together. Exhaling now....
--this quote stolen without permission from facebook, this psychologist spends his days assessing delinquient children's mental health for the courts, he will not be named unless he wants to be named as of 2/6/16

**first use of tag: trump

liveonearth: (pentacle 2)
This is the after-elementary-school program being offered by an organization called The Satanic Temple.   It was news to me, but the Satanists I met tonight at the FFRF meeting consider themselves to be atheists.  They do not believe in a metaphysical God or Satan.  Satan instead is a symbol of individual liberty, of the ability we each have to say "I'm out" when someone offers us a load of dogma.  Lucifer, of course, is the fallen angel in Christian mythology who refused to tow the line.  "...Our metaphor of Satan is a literary construct inspired by authors such as Anatole France and Milton--a rebel angel defiant of autocratic structure and concerned with the material world. Satanism as a rejection of superstitious supernaturalism."

This take on Satan is all fine and good if you're inside that particular literary bubble.  If you, like me, grew up surrounded by Christian mythology, Satan is THE bad guy.  So I was a bit taken aback that they want to call their program this, and their club, and so on.  Why choose such a hot button for Christians?  Why not call it after school Humanism, or Atheism, or Evolution???  Well they do have a reason.  The concept is that Satanists can assert their rights as a religious organization and influence public affairs, reminding the dominant religious groups that in America such privileges are for all religions, not just the chosen ones.

I also learned that the legal definition of a religious organization is one that takes a stand about god.  Hence an atheist organization is a religious organization in the good old US of A.

The Oregon chapter of The Satanic Temple is brand new.  They've offered After School Satan Clubs at two elementary schools where Good News Clubs are already offered.  They plan to teach evolution, and how the world was formed.  The only problem is that when the local chaper offered an open house at a local school, the superintendent of the school (Karen Gray) let all the students and teachers go home an hour early, effectively eliminating the curious audience while also ticking off the parents who had to get out of work an hour early to pick up their babies.  Only two students signed up.  I wonder how many would have signed up if it was the After School Spaghettimonster Club?

The 2001 Supreme Court Decision called Good News Club vs Milford Central School resulted in a decision that the Milford school's restriction of the Good News Club violated the Club's free speech rights, and that no Establishment Clause concern justified that violation.  If you don't remember the Establishment Clause, it's the part of the First (free speech) Amendment that prohibits the establishment of religion by Congress.  So after school programs are allowed access to school premises regardless of content.  Free speech is allowed by religious groups as well as boy scouts, debate and chess club...and Corporations, but that's a separate ball of wax.

The Good News Club is a private Christian organization for children.  Their goal is to Christianize the next generation.  They teach elementary school kids that they are sinners and that they are going to hell if they don't repent and do right by this one particular version of God.  The Child Evangelism Fellowship creates the curriculum and trains instructors.  They have over 40,000 volunteers in the US and in 2011 there were 3560 clubs in public schools in the US and over 42,000 clubs worldwide.  THIS is how they get off calling it a Christian Nation.  And they are effectively brainwashing children before they've developed the powers of discimination to know they've been hoodwinked.    A 5th grader is unlikely to really comprehend that the teachings after school are of a different nature from the teachings in school.

Because of the 2001 SCOTUS decision, Satanists have the same rights of access to public schools as Christians, so After School Satan is one answer to the Christianization.  The name is intended to provoke Christians, and it does.  There have been ample protests.  The goal is simple: to get the Christians to remove their programs from public schools, so that then the Satanists will go back into private and stop enticing their children with cool programs and rebelliousness.

One of the coolest things I heard from tonight's programs was the 7 Tenets of The Satanic Temple.  They are beautifully enlightened so I will share:

I. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.


II. The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.


III. One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.


IV. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.


V. Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.


VI. People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.


VII. Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

Wouldn't it be nice if THESE were American Values?

liveonearth: (moon)
This documentary is well worth seeing.  It explains how the 13th Amendment did more than free the slaves, because it had an exception that said criminals could be imprisoned.  A massive cultural effort ensued to criminalize blacks, and our so-called "criminal justice" system was not sufficient to protect them from powerful white men determined to keep them down.

A Netflix documentary (called 13TH) shows us is just how easy it is to criminalize a previously enslaved population.  This history is ugly, and the present is not pretty either.  The percentage of our populace that is behind bars far exceeds that of any other nation, and the percentage of that imprisoned mass that is black or brown in skin color is also ridiculous.  There is definitely something wrong.

13TH was directed by Ana DuVernay who has quite a resume.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ava_DuVernay
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13TH_(film)
What I learned so far (we haven't finished watching the documentary) )
liveonearth: (Homer Simpson "D'oh!")
I keep reading in the media that the record Latino turnout at the polls is a new "firewall" or somesuch for Democrats.  Well that may apply in this election, but don't count on it in the future.  Latinos are independent and have been provoked to vote for their own interests.  Trump voters have provided a new impetus for the Republican party to stop shafting its lower income voters.  If the R party can respond in any effective way to this challenge it could result in a shift in the demographics of both parties.

*First use of new tag: hispanic.  This population now activated is likely to become a powerful force in US politics.  Too bad they're so Catholic.
liveonearth: (mushroom cloud)
The strongest bias in American politics is not a liberal bias or a conservative bias; it is a confirmation bias, or the urge to believe only things that confirm with what you already believe to be true.  Not only do we tend to seek out and remember information that reaffirms what we already believe, but there is also a "backfire effect", which sees people doubling down on their beliefs after being presented with evidence that contradicts them.  So, where do we go from here?  The only way people will start rejecting falsehoods being fed to them is by confronting uncomfortable truths.
--Emma Roller
in NYTimes.com

Note to self: This bias may not be uniquely American.  A 2016 study confirms that our political beliefs are the ones most resistant to change in spite of new information that refutes them.  It's called Neural Correlates of maintaining one's political beliefs in the face of couterevidence.

WHAT MAKES US RESISTANT TO NEW IDEAS 2016

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep39589

Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence

Jonas T. Kaplan, Sarah I. Gimbel & Sam Harris

Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 39589 (2016)

doi:10.1038/srep39589

23 December 2016

Abstract

People often discount evidence that contradicts their firmly held beliefs. However, little is known about the neural mechanisms that govern this behavior. We used neuroimaging to investigate the neural systems involved in maintaining belief in the face of counterevidence, presenting 40 liberals with arguments that contradicted their strongly held political and non-political views. Challenges to political beliefs produced increased activity in the default mode network—a set of interconnected structures associated with self-representation and disengagement from the external world. Trials with greater belief resistance showed increased response in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and decreased activity in the orbitofrontal cortex. We also found that participants who changed their minds more showed less BOLD signal in the insula and the amygdala when evaluating counterevidence. These results highlight the role of emotion in belief-change resistance and offer insight into the neural systems involved in belief maintenance, motivated reasoning, and related phenomena.

liveonearth: (fist)
Just as Obama's presidency has deeply offended white supremacists and caused a resurgence of lively xenophobia in America, Clinton's impending presidency is bringing out the long-quiet depressed white guy who just hates women.  Why?  They wouldn't sleep with him, left him, weren't good to him when he needed it?  His mother did him wrong?  These sentiments that have come into public life are troubling and far too private really to be on T-shirts and election posters.  The loss of civility, and respect for reason, are devastating losses.  How can we come together as a nation when people talk this way to each other?  Are we headed back toward the civil war, when the south refused to accept Abraham Lincoln as their president and seceeded?

I am flying to Tennessee on the day after the election.  The town where my parents live--Oak Ridge--is not your average southern town.  It has a national laboratory in it, full of elitists with education Pile High and Deep.  Oak Ridge has so many scientists that the general world view of assimilating new information and coming up with new, reason-based theories, is part of the town culture.  Tennessee itself is not really fully southern, having been split by the Mason-Dixon line and with families on both sides of the civil war divide.  Still, I am curious to see what I will find the day after the election.

Bitch.  I have been called this.  Always by men.  Always by men who wanted me to do something other than what I chose to do.  Always by men who were unable to control or manipulate me.  They hated that I had a mind of my own.  They wanted me to bow down to their will.   I am not bitchy; I do not strike out for vengance.  I want only the same freedoms that men themselves expect, without having to be called names.  Without being told "calm down honey".  Clinton is in for as many years of verbal abuse as she is in office, plus some.  I thank her in advance for her strength and restraint in the face of the onslaught.  I am grateful that Obama has modeled for all of us the finest in human decency.  You dudes out there who say he is divisive: you are projecting.

I am not for "trigger warnings" and the extremes of political correctness that some youngsters seem to be demanding in college.  Buck up I say, and realize that some people take for granted what is exceptional to you, and vice versa.  Learn to self-soothe, to calm yourself in the face of alarming or disturbing realities or even art.  If you must protect yourself from certain things, do it yourself, do not expect the rest of us to tiptoe around you forevermore.  Friends are kept away like slugs when you are surrounded by eggshells.  Life is rich and lucious and sometimes the spice burns.  Eat it anyway.  Feel the feelings and realize that feelings are not you, they are something temporary that passes through you.  This too shall pass.  Racists: our first black president is about to step down and thousands of us will miss him terribly.  Sexists: our first female president is about to win.  Get used to it.  Whatever the reason for your bias, it is not acceptable.  We're moving on.

These interesting times are about to get even more interesting.
liveonearth: (Oprah_shocked)

If the consequence
of standing against [Donald] Trump
and for principles
is indeed the election of
Hillary Clinton,
so be it.

--Glen Beck

liveonearth: (moon)
What Clinton's remark broadcasted is how little she thinks of conservatives in general. Her tone was so dismissive ("you name it") as to suggest that every xenophobe on the planet was unworthy of having skin. What she obviously doesn't understand is that we are all conservative at our roots, until these basic feelings are educated out of us, or overridden by culture.  Xenophobes are people too.

It has a lot to do with who we grow up with.  If we grow up in an educated multi-ethnic culture, then ethnicity no longer has such a charge.  But if we are acculturated in a homogenous group, we will feel more comfortable with people of our same kind.  This is the instinctive basis of xenophobia. It is reasonable to be cautious around people whose values are unknown to you, and whose behavior is not predictable.

Xenophobia can be trained in at any stage of life.  I have suffered the hate of the Navajo and Apache when living and traveling in Arizona.  I understand why they hate the white eyes, because I do too, but I personally do not deserve their bad treatment.  Still, I got the bad treatment, and now when I see a tribal member I am on guard.  The same thing has happened to me here in Portland.  I had always liked and respected every Jew I ever met. Then I was mistreated by an attending Jewish doctor who took offense at me saying the words "a Jew" because in her mind she inserted the word "dirty". That word was not in my mind until she explained to me how offensive it was for me to say "a Jew", and then threatened to flunk me, sanctioned me through the college and required that I take cultural competency training. Other Jews near to me have hurt my feelings since then, and I have developed a reaction to Jews that I did not have before, when I lived in Denver next door to the Ashkenazis and thought they were really decent folk.

In spite of all my education and knowing things, I have feelings that are influenced by what happens to me in my life. Does this make me deplorable?

Oh, and all you decent men out there who think that you are not sexist. If you were born and raised in the U.S. you are sexist. Ask any European, male or female. I am a woman. I have never made anywhere near as much money as my partner, in my opinion because he has a penis. Yesterday I drove a vehicle up to a boat inspection station on the highway and the man with the clipboard came up and started asking questions of a man who got out of the passenger door. At the gas station the attendant speaks to the men first. Men here invariably address men first when approaching a couple. This seems like a tiny offense, but compounded into the reality of daily life, a woman knows that this is still a man's world. Clinton knows it all too well. American men, including educated ones, are unconscious of this kind of sexism "lite".  There's no stoning here, but men are not aware of the degree to which they are programmed to be sexist, and should spend more time in introspection around this. I think part of the problem conservatives have with lesbians is the men have no one they can talk to.

I realize I'm making a bunch of generalizations, just like Clinton did. My point is that these base impulses are present in the vast majority of all humanity, and Americans are clearly not above it. Our culture seems to be regressing. In my lifetime I have watched our society and politics become obnoxious. Substantive debate is rare, name calling commonplace. If there is to be a conversation between opposing sides, there must first be respect. Respect is a Universal human need. People denied respect are hostile and possibly subversive.

Liberals in general need to stop denigrating conservatives and dig deep enough into themselves to understand the conservative position. Conservatives need to educate themselves to articulate their concerns and rationales clearly to others. Everyone needs to start with the assumption that the other guys are decent humans just trying to do the right thing, the best way they know how. Then the conversation can begin.
liveonearth: (moon)
Listening to the media reports about Trump and Clinton, I understand the frustration of the majority of voters.  Most of us know that the "establishment" politicians, like Clinton, are part and parcel with the corporatocracy that has made our two party system a joke.  The two parties are simply different faces of the same government which is beholden to big business and rich investors.  While the Democrats make more of an effort to care for the most impoverished, neither side is actually effective at reducing poverty.  The Republicans assert that the poor are not helped by a free ride, and this may be true.  It is true that during the Great Depression here in the US, people got healthier.

Trump, on the other hand, is not part of the "establishment" except in so far as he is rich, and he is stupid enough to become their tool, just as Shrub did.  His daily empty statements, like what I just heard that he "will win" 95% of the black American vote, are lunacy.  There is no way that he is getting 95% of any vote, except perhaps of those white male voters who are angry and desperate enough to commit suicide but would rather have someone else do it for them.  I understand the line of thought that says "crash this train", that is to say, destroying our corporatocracy is the first step toward building something new.  This is more the approach of libertarians who understand that big business will not be dethroned by small measures.  Electing Trump would be a drastic measure that could crash this train, except for the fact that the corporate Republican powers will feed his ego and narcissism and keep him busy and distracted by giving him televised glory while they run things.  In other words, it won't work.  Electing Trump will not derail the corporate train.

The Libertarian and Green candidates are relatively attractive in this election.  Unfortunately the Libertarians appear to be almost as "estalishment" as Clinton, see Gary Johnson's positions here.  Jill Stein of the Green party is a physician and one smart cookie, and she actually makes the most sense to me of any of the candidates.  She knows that our two-party system is broken, and she addresses that question and others with a raft of information instead of party lines or defund-it-all ideology.

I do not know what it would take to persuade a majority of voters to choose third-party candidates, but I pray that I live to see it.  At this moment it appears to me that Clinton will win because so many people are terrified of the specter of a Trump presidency.  His racism, bogus claims and impetuous thin-skinned personality are enough to disqualify him for all but the most blindered of voters.  It is true that if he were elected the Republican party would attempt to control him, but we all know that he would be more likely to push the nuclear button than any other president in living memory.  While it bears discussing why we refrain from using nukes, just as it bears discussing why we can't as a society afford freeloaders, we might want to discuss it very well before we hand any control to a tool such as Trump.

I am sure I've mentioned it before, but it is my belief that in order to build a majority that can beat both established parties, we need to build a bridge between the far right Libertarians and the far left Greens.  When this happens we might actually wrest our democracy back from its service to business.  It would be heralded as a great crisis, just like the Brexit vote, but don't believe everything you hear in the news.  A reduction in our GDP might be good for us.  More unemployment is not an entirely bad thing.  We Americans need to get back to the project of taking good care of ourselves and our dear ones, building community, and being real people face to face with other real people.  This wealthy life of internet and automobiles has created a Great Satan that is making us sad.

** first use of tag: green party
liveonearth: (Math: Be rational/get real)

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
—Isaac Asimov

liveonearth: (moon)
If you don't want the culture clock turned back to the 50's, you better muster the guts to get registered and turn out to cast your ballot.  Else the progress we've made in terms of tolerance and social justice will be undone, by Rump and his old white guy fans.  You may not like Hillary much better, but that doesn't matter.  Vote.  Vote for anybody.  Vote for a third party.  Vote for someone you actually agree with.  Vote for Hillary to be sure Rump doesn't get in.  Vote against destruction, because a Trump presidency will not only finish off the Republican party, but it will also devastate the American Dream.  Be a part of the process and keep the old white guys from making you irrelevant and thoughtlessly destroying any good relations we have with other nations.
liveonearth: (moon)
He spoke at O'Connor's on June 27 for the FFRF.  Overall what I learned from this retired polysci professor is that the framers of the US constitution intended to create a principle-based document that allows enough structure to prevent chaos, and enough freedom to allow evolution of our society and laws over time.  He never said anything like that, it is purely my restatement of what I walked away with.  Brudley is a good speaker and clearly has taught this subject matter in many different ways over the years.  When faced with a mature atheist audience in liberal Portland, he was able to skim over a lot of topis that he belabors for undergraduates.  One thing I liked about his speaking style (and will borrow): he said that questions for the purpose of clarification or elaboration are welcome during the presentation, all others had to wait until the end.  This prevents diversions from the topic and keeps it all moving along.

He started out saying that the independent judiciary is detailed in Article 1, and that it was clearly a priority for the framers of the constitution.  I also learned that Article 2 is the Executive article, and it is under this article that the constitution says that the president nominates supreme court justices and with the senates advice and consent these nominations can be confirmed.  The president is instructed to choose based on fitness and qualifications, and not on nepotism or cronyism.  The president is selected for this job because he is thought to be more insulated from the "passions and prejudices of the people".

Nowhere in the constitution does it say that the senate, or the people, should have any part in nominating judges.  The Federalist Papers have an article by Hamilton that specifically says there shall be "no exertion of choice on the part of the Senate".   Nowhere does it say that no SCOTUS judges may be nominated in the last year.  To his knowledge our current VP Biden was the first to say that a lame duck president should not nominate--which was an easy gotcha for the Republicans.  Brudney said that our system of checks and balances, and the separation of powers, is sometimes unproductive.  You could say that.  Stalemate potential is necessary in a principle-driven constitution that provides us with freedoms, and protects us from rash decisions by any branch of our government.
liveonearth: (moon)
I think this may be part of the reason that so many people have defaulted to supporting tRump.  At a gut level he gets it, that somehow the religion of Islam is motivating some people to kill bunches of hedonistic rich oblivious Americans.  We are The Great Satan, after all.  Our women roam around half naked.  We drink alcohol and eat so much that we can't get out of our chairs.  The Muslims who hate us find plenty to hate.  And the teachings of the religion are harsh.  Unforgiving.  Granted, most religions have some myths and stories that motivate hateful actions.  Most religions have a few fundamentalists whose simplistic interpretations lead them to extreme beliefs and behaviors.  Islam has a lot of people like that.  I am certain that the followers of ISIL think that American Muslims who don't help their cause are apostates, no better than the rest of us.  So given that there are quite a few Muslims who think we all deserve to die, and several at least who've been successful at violently killing Americans, being afraid of Muslims sounds kind of reasonable.  If the Dems don't admit to this, and begin teaching Americans about how they've been attempting to quell the fears of peaceable Muslims in order to prevent religious based warfare, they are missing the boat.  Blaming the Pulse shooting solely on easy access to guns is missing the very important point that currently there are a lot of people with this religious background who are motivated to kill.  We need to study them, to understand them.  They are not necessarily insane, they simply live in a different reality dictated by a different culture.  There are also a lot of Americans who are not Muslim who share their distaste for gays, their disrespect for loose women, and their instinctive hatred of other races.  Maybe you should be afraid.
liveonearth: (moon)

I saw
the best minds
of my generation
destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked . . .

–from Howl, by Allen Ginsberg

liveonearth: (Spidey: come into my parlour)

THE MISTRUST OF SCIENCE

By Atul Gawande , JUNE 10, 2016

The following was delivered as the commencement address at the California Institute of Technology, on Friday, June 10th.

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Atul Gawande, a surgeon and public-health researcher, became a New Yorker staff writer in 1998.

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