Archive for the ‘Propaganda’ Category
Tuesday Morning. Don’t really have time for a full review. Christians are fleeing to what is now effectively Kurdistan. The Kurds have announced they have no interest in helping the Maliki regime recapture Mosul. No kidding, they have their homeland and they are digging in, at some point soon I would expect them to declare independence. And fighting has gotten closer to Baghdad, the ISIS appear to have resumed their push south. The city of Baquba is being fought over, less than 40 miles from Baghdad. It’s an important city of 500,000, many whom are fleeing south. I think the image is Iraqi volunteers heading north out of Baghdad.
Tuesday Evening. The ISIS appears to be advancing on Baghdad. A few larger perspective points. Right now, the events of the past week appear to have been game changers. I don’t see how the clock can be turned back and the “status quo,” whatever that was, will be restored. I think that the Sykes–Picot Agreement, the unnatural borders imposed on the former Ottoman Empire by France and England after World War One, may finally be unravelling. A major war may be in the offing, no one knows how those ever turn out. The ISIS advance so far has been stunning and almost unprecedented. Certainly in recent history. Other points:
“It’s Obama’s Fault.” Sigh. Well, at least the GOP is consistent. Anything bad is Obama’s fault. On the first pass, Obama’s foreign policy was the same as Bush’s foreign policy in any significant regard, so, wtf? Secondly, Bush was the one that invaded Iraq on lies followed by an occupation based on wishful thinking. Bush couldn’t fix the mess he created in his six years, so it’s Obama’s fault he couldn’t fix it? I don’t think anyone expected the ISIS to explode, although I was raising alarms a few months back, but the GOP certainly wasn’t. In any event looking for blame in a situation like this is like blaming Pearl Harbor on Roosevelt. Which the GOP didn’t do. The rise of the ISIS is the worst crisis the US has faced since 9/11, partisan politics has no place here. At the very least they should tone it down and try to help.
As a codicil to this, the people who thought the invasion of Iraq was such a great idea in the first place are now doubling down. Excuse me, but could we just give Senator McCain and his ilk rifles and send them to Iraq? Misguided US military action is what created this mess, it’s clearly not the solution. As Obama recently said, paraphrasing here, “Just because you have the best hammer, doesn’t mean every problem is a nail.” Sure, the US military could likely recapture Mosul and the rest more or less with ease. Then what? The ISIS would just melt into the population and wait for us to leave. They aren’t from Mars for God’s sake, they live there.
Which is the last point, the Manichean heresy. In essence, the idea that there are good guys and bad guys. And by extension the idea that if the good guys just kill all the bad guys, everything will be just fine. (That’s been tried repeatedly, it never works.) Or as the Manichean heresy might be called today: the 12 year old boy’s comic book view of the world. The ugly truth is that people are people, they are all pretty much the same, and differences between them are due to circumstances and history, not inherent good/evilness. I’m not saying there aren’t just wars, and indeed people like Hitler do show up. My point is that when leaders say “They are the bad guys, we must wage war,” it’s not a logical argument. The first is simplistic at best, the later is a does not follow argument.
We’ll see what tomorrow brings. There are other points I should toss out for discussion. Like the fact that this could result in a huge loss of American influence in the world. Two Saudi Arabias, neither of which require the US as an Ally. Sleep tight.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit. It is arguably an historic image. I will gladly properly attribute it if I find out who to attribute it too. God save us all.)
A friend of a friend has been documenting the plight of Syrian refugees in Turkey, his blog about his experiences is a good read. In this day of embedded
journalists propaganda regurgitaters, and the corporate lamestream media, we need all the independent journalism we can get. Mr Ludowitz is trying to raise the money to get into Syria itself, and I urge my readers to visit this page and donate, or at least share the link. I may regret this, but I will write a blog post on the topic of their choice for anyone that donates $20 or more. There’s only a few days left, don’t delay. Thank you.
I will resume blogging this week. I’m going to be blogging on scientific mysteries, Japanese pop groups, and mountain climbing cats for awhile. Current events are just too upsetting right now. Have a great Memorial Day everyone. I urge everyone to honour the fallen by opposing efforts to send brave Americans abroad in yet more senseless wars that have nothing to do with defending our freedoms. God bless.
Doug Stych — May 26 2014
(The above image is being used with the permission of the person running the donations site. Credit and Copyright © Kyle Merrit Ludowitz 2014.)
The US Goverment Offers Crimea to Putin on a Silver Platter, Then Freaks Out When He Accepts Their Gift
Ukraine. Crimea. Putin. Russia. What a mess. If the gentle reader can’t find Crimea on a map, fair warning, this post might make them angry. That’s what the comment section is for. Here goes: By any definition, the Russian actions in Ukraine far more fit the definition of “humanitarian intervention” than say, the US invasion of Iraq. I think the death toll was, what, zero? And the majority of people in Crimea actually wanted to be part of Russia, not living in Ukraine … especially a Ukraine with a nationalistic government that clearly wanted to treat ethnic Russians as second class citizens. While Putin’s actions were clearly self-serving, Crimea is of paramount strategic importance to Russia, the idea that this is some sort of Hitleresque invasion is nonsense. US foreign policy has become so knee jerk and predictable that it’s easy for clever mofos like Putin to take advantage of them. And that’s exactly what happened, the US in it’s mindless zeal to expand NATO and the EU right up to the Kremlin’s doorstep essentially handed Crimea to Putin.
How’s that? How much the US influenced the ouster of the democratically elected government in Ukraine is debatable, but they certainly played a role, possibly a large role. And they got their wish, the government of Ukraine was overthrown and a government much more to their liking (profoundly anti-Russian) was installed. (This was not some sort of popular revolution against a dictatorship, it was mob rule at its ugliest.) A “government” who decided that their first order of business was to pass laws diminishing the status of Russian speakers in Ukraine. A government that the US immediately recognized as legitimate. And this is where the shortsightedness of America’s current policy becomes clear. What, exactly, did they think Putin was going to do? Did it even cross their minds that Putin might do exactly as he did some years earlier in Georgia, send in the troops to protect Russia’s interests? Apparently not, since their reaction to Putin’s move has been mindless hysterics. As is the case with so much of America’s modern foreign policy, there was no plan B.
Even the sanctions are looking to be a joke. The Europeans are in no mood for an actual economic war with Russia or something as mindless as a resumption of the “Cold War.” So the US is reduced to histrionics. I suspect that after all is said and done, Crimea will remain part of Russia, and the US will blame the “loss” of Crimea on its allies … and carry right on with further ill conceived foreign meddling. There will not be a resumption of the Cold War, there will not be World War Three, nor does this have any similarities to the rise of Hitler. The fact that the US media and most Americans can only think about foreign policy in terms of cartoonish similarities to past events is a wonderful example of how uneducated the public discourse has become in modern America. And sadly many of our leaders are just as uneducated and shallow in their world view. This is what happens when religion and ideology become the basis for getting into office, you get parrots spouting nonsense to their base instead of educated people trying to run the country effectively.
On the plus side, boy, Putin came out of this smelling like a rose, demonizations in the western press notwithstanding. In one fell swoop he humiliated the USA, reasserted Russia’s historic control of Crimea, brought large numbers of ethnic Russians back into Russia … and made himself one of the most popular leaders in recent Russian history. His approval ratings are the envy of Obama and Congress. The lesson here of course is that foreign policy needs to be based on a realistic assessment of the world. “Might makes right” does work sometimes, but it’s not a substitute for things like diplomacy and common sense. And instigating trouble in Ukraine made about as much sense as Russia trying to stir up trouble in Canada or Mexico. Even if they succeeded, and a pro-Russian government came to power in either, the chances the USA would sit back and do nothing would be zero. Yet that’s exactly what the US did in Ukraine, and then acted shocked and surprised when Putin did exactly what any sober assessment of the situation would have strongly suspected was a possible consequence.
Watching US foreign policy is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. It’s also a wonderful illustration of one of the definitions of insanity. Insanity is repeating the same actions, but expecting different results. The US will continue to meddle in “unfriendly” governments, and continue to achieve results that weren’t what it expected, or even the opposite of what was expected. It’s easy to destabilize a government and make a mess of things, it’s much harder to put together the pieces afterwards. Maybe someday Washington will learn that.
(The above image is Public Domain under US copyright law. It’s German soldiers retreating from Crimea during World War Two. Foreign armies have been fighting in Crimea for centuries, one can only hope we don’t backslide that far this time.)
I’m getting really tired of certain Christians claiming that their religious liberty is under attack in the USA. Or worse, that they are being prosecuted for their beliefs. Right. The above illustration is Christians being persecuted for their beliefs. When was the last time Christians were rounded up and killed in the USA? Their churches systematically destroyed? Their faith being illegal to practice? Never. And no one has proposed anything even remotely like that, at least outside the lunatic fringe. The chances that a nation that is overwhelmingly Christian would start persecuting Christians is essentially zero.
Yet that didn’t stop certain quarters from claiming that, for example, the veto of Arizona’s anti-gay law was the “new Jim Crow” and telling Christians to “move to the back of the bus.” Let me see if I get this straight, a law that would have allowed Christians to discriminate against anyone they perceived as gay was about religious liberty? If one’s religion says don’t be gay, then don’t be gay. It doesn’t give one the “right” to define how other people live their lives, nor does it give one the “right” to discriminate against them. One’s religion may give one the “right” to be a bigot, it doesn’t give one the “right” to practise that bigotry in public commerce or enshrine their bigotry in public law.
And we are talking about bigotry here. Gay people are just that, people. The scientific evidence is in, and its overwhelming. As anyone who ever actually got to know gay people would know. Whether it is a lifestyle choice or biology is irrelevant, there’s nothing inherently wrong or unhealthy about being gay. There have always been gay people, there always will. The only difference now is that our society is maturing (we don’t burn witches, keep slaves, or sell daughters into marriage anymore) and gay people and their allies think it’s past time that they came out of the closet and enjoyed the same rights and privileges as everyone else. Gay people are our friends, our family, our neighbours, our siblings, our co-workers. Over a third of them have children. That’s right, 37% of gay people have children. And they want those children to have married parents like everyone else.
Frankly Jesus said that the Old Testament no longer applies, and he said nothing about gay people. So people who are selectively hating on gays because “the Bible says” are simply using the Bible as cover for their bigotry. The Old Testament also says that adultery, lying about virginity, eating shellfish, and working on the Sabbath all merit the death penalty. Yet the Biblical gay bashers don’t get all hot and bothered about these or any of the other few dozen things prohibited by death in the Old Testament. And no, gay people are not out to “convert” anyone. In fact the only way a straight person could even think that was possible if they were gay themselves and in deep denial about it. Nothing could make me find men sexually attractive, I’m just not wired that way.
The so called Christians who are all about persecuting gay people and driving them back into the closet are on the wrong side of history. Gays want the same rights as everyone else, because they are everyone else. They are no more going to go back in the closet than blacks are going to agree to be slaves again. And this is a good thing. Sadly the Old Testament Christians don’t see it that way. They want to go back to an America where they got to define social institutions for everyone. In other words an America where Christians could freely persecute people they disproved of. That’s not Christian, that’s Satan doing his finest work in the name of Christianity. (It’s also an incredibly weak faith if the mere sight of people who don’t adhere to its Bronze Age proscriptions is a problem.)
And of course, what about God? Let’s see, Canada has effectively had gay marriage since 1999, and gay marriage in every respect since 2004. God has had over a decade to punish Canada for this terrible transgression against his purported wishes. Have plague, pestilence, and God’s wrath descended on Canada? Not that I’ve heard of. Have gays taken over, forced millions of Canadians to be gay, promoted paedophilia, or outlawed heterosexual marriage in Canada? Again, it doesn’t appear to be making the news. In fact the only thing that has happened is that they don’t call it gay marriage in Canada any more. They just call it marriage.
Frankly these Old Testament selective moralists give me the creeps. I don’t mind them having their Bronze Age prejudices, but I’m damn sick of them thinking they still get to define morality for everyone by their own outdated standards. Hopefully most of them will get over their umbrage as the calamities God is going to heap upon us for marriage equality don’t manifest. At the very least they hopefully will be consoled by the fact that they won’t be forced to be gay married, won’t be forced to attend gay weddings, and just in general if they want to close their eyes, they won’t see gay people at all. Hell, the Duggar daughters already signal their dad and brothers so they can avert their gaze in case a pretty woman is on the street, now they just have to come up with a “gay signal” so that their dad and brothers don’t see some gay person on the street. Problem solved.
Tomorrow, the insanity of redefining marriage.
(The above image dates from the nineteenth century and is public domain under US copyright law. It’s called “The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer” by Jean-Léon Gérôme 1824–1904. It’s a tradition that Christians were fed to the lions in the Colosseum, not historical fact. Some Christians have always been obsessed with martyrdom and persecution, I guess that natural for a faith that worships a dead guy nailed to a stick. Jesus wept.)
This is not a complicated situation. We have the ACA, aka Obamacare. It was passed by Congress, signed by the president, and survived a Supreme Court challenge. It’s the law of the land according to the US Constitution, and is being implemented as I type. The Tea Party refuses to pass a budget for government operations, insisting that the ACA be delayed a year before they will agree to do so. And now large parts of the government have shut down because Obama and the Democrats refuse to even consider such. Dafuq? This is indeed screwed up, and is easily the worst government crisis since the decades preceding the Civil War.
The merits and faults of the ACA aren’t relevant here. That many in the media are portraying this situation as a “standoff” or a “disagreement” doesn’t actually make it a disagreement. It is a faction of a minority party claiming it has veto power over any existing law. The Tea Party is basically refusing to accept that the ACA is law, and insisting that it’s “my way or the highway.” This is the antithesis of democracy or constitutional government. And the Democrats and Obama are correct in holding the line, allowing a party who controls one house of congress to effectively veto any existing law would be a disastrous precedent to set. This is extortion, not government.
For its part the media is all over the map reporting on the government shutdown, mostly regurgitating the talking points of their targeted markets. The Tea Party is counting on this, I know hard-core Republicans who are still claiming the shutdown is because Obama refuses to negotiate. And they have plenty of voices in the right wing media to back them up. Many of them actually seem to believe that the ACA is some horrific draconian law that is going to turn the USA into a dictatorship. Five years of the extreme right wing press claiming Obama is the anti-Christ, a secret Muslim, and unAmerican seems to have really affected some people, they are living in a fantasy bubble world. Maybe it’s not charitable, but I guess if one believes in talking snakes and zombie prophets, well, the sky’s the limit. In any event, my point here is that our mainstream media is almost as dysfunctional as our government, it’s not helping.
This whole mess highlights the dangers of dogmatic ideology. A party that can’t or won’t compromise is a terrible threat to anything resembling democratic government. And giving them any sort of concession will just make them make more demands. In normal situations a party like this would be dooming itself, but these aren’t normal times. Sometimes in history parties like the Tea Party have gotten into power. That was Hitler’s secret, no compromise. One powerful politician after another aligned themselves with Hitler’s nascent party to improve their political position, only to find out too late that Hitler wasn’t going to compromise on anything and that Hitler was using them, not vice versa. And when Hitler’s party got strong enough, he simply disposed of his former rivals. I’m not comparing the Tea party to the Nazis, yet, but the fact that they are willing to do anything to get their way should scare anyone.
In some very real ways the Tea Party is carrying on the legacy of the Confederacy and the KKK, these are people who have still not accepted that the South lost the Civil War. In recent decades people like this have been a fringe group, but not any more. I don’t know what the end result of the shutdown is going to be, but the last time a political minority refused to compromise no matter what, the results weren’t pretty.
Yes, I am using extreme examples, and I certainly don’t think, yet, that we will see anything like the Civil War or the rise of Hitler. I use extreme examples because what the Tea party is doing is extreme. It’s a minority party willing to hurt millions of Americans and gut constitutional government to get their way. I urge the Democrats, moderate Republicans, and Obama to hold the line. The ACA is not on the table. If the Tea Party gets their way, the Republic will pay a terrible price.
(The above image is Public Domain under US copyright law as it was painted around 1865. Credit: Watercolour. The Burning of Richmond, Alexandre Thomas Francia, Circa 1865. It’s the burning of Richmond at the end of the US Civil War. Another extreme example, but the Tea Party is an extremist party. One can only wonder what other countries think of this mess.)
Well, Washington and Obama are making noise about attacking Syria. Quelle surprise. Kerry was saying today that the evidence of a Syrian chemical attack was “undeniable.” Please, spare me. Washington has been lying about this sort of stuff since the Mexican War in 1848, and it’s hard to find a 20th century war they didn’t lie through their teeth about. Our economy and political system is based on war forever, Syria is just more of the same. The main reason we know this is a lie is simple. Obama stated that the use of chemical weapons would trigger US intervention. Why in the name of God would Syria do the exact thing that would trigger US attacks? They wouldn’t of course, no one is that stupid, especially considering that chemical weapons are essentially useless on the battlefield unless your enemies are using World War One style human wave attacks. So Syria has no conceivable reason to use chemical weapons, and excellent reason not to use them. Kerry’s claim should be taken for what it most likely is, a lie.
So if the Syrian government didn’t launch an attack, who might have? Well, let’s see, who has to gain from US intervention? Bingo in the Elf Lounge. The rebels. Yes, a chemical weapons attack was launched by the Syrian government conveniently near a UN inspection team even! How lucky was that? And snipers even tried to slow the team down as it approached the stage of the purported chemical weapons attack. Stage as in staged. It’s more than likely the rebels faked an attack of some sort, it wouldn’t take much. For all practical purposes Obama asked them to stage an attack, who can blame them? Even the public evidence is suspect. There are photographed bodies of claimed sarin gas victims. Assuming these are real pics (yes, the rebels have tried crude fakes before) it’s been pointed out that if these people really did die from sarin gas, the people wandering around the bodies without protective gear would also quickly be succumbing to the intensely lethal substance on the bodies. They aren’t.
Sadly the truth doesn’t really matter. The USA attacks whomever it pleases whenever it pleases, and manufactures whatever justification is needed. Most Americans don’t want another war, but their opinion hardly counts anymore. Even Congress isn’t even trying these days, this time they might not even bother to pass a resolution supporting the attack. What will be the results of the attack, aside from more profits for the military industrial complex? Who knows, it often takes years for the blow-back from this sort of nonsense to fully realize itself. It stands a good chance of bringing down the Assad regime, one of the only remaining secular regimes in the region, and replacing it with a Islamic fundamentalist government aligned with Al-Qaeda. How would that help the USA or Syria? Damned if I know.
What I do know is that there is nothing “humanitarian” about an American attack on Syria. Yes, that’s part and parcel of the endless propaganda flowing from Washington and the mainstream media, we’re all concerned about the plight of woman and minorities and democracy. Yes, unlike every other empire in history, the USA’s motives are pure! Spare me. Anyone who believes that may have pure motives themselves, God bless em, but the facts on the ground consistently belie the idea that we are trying to make the world a better place. US intervention almost invariably makes things worse for the people in a region, especially the ones we kill and maim with our “well intentioned” bombs and missiles. It does however prevent the rise of modern secular nation states, which would be far less pliable to American influence and meddling. They might even have radically dangerous ideas like those pursued by Saddam for example … he thought that the profits from the sale of Middle Eastern oil should be invested in the Middle East! One can see why he had to go.
So many lies, when it’s all just about western militarism and colonialism. European armies have been marching through the Middle East since Alexander the Great. The excuses change but the end result is the same. Death and destruction for the locals. That’s what wars do on the receiving end. Our current Alexander in Chief hasn’t shown any qualms about that before. And of course wealth and profits for the west. Follow the money as they say.
Lastly, a point about chemical weapons. They are not WMDs. They in fact aren’t anything special, just another one of the myriad evil ways humans have devised to kill each other. Like nuclear weapons, they have few real military applications and are more a political and propaganda weapon than anything else. And to make the hypocrisy complete, not only does the US cheer on such weapons when they approve of the regime using them, the USA has utterly no qualms about using them itself. So the idea that Syria has crossed some sort of moral boundary by using (purportedly) chemical weapons doesn’t pass the laugh test.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and its use here in no conceivable way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Its a photograph entitled “Viktor Bulla’s Pioneers in Defense Drill, Leningrad (1937)” It appears on page 79 of a book of photographs called “Propaganda and Dreams” by Leah Bendavid-Val. While a lovely ghoulish photo by modern standards, it was very much meant as a propaganda picture showing how prepared the Soviet Union was for self defence.)
Ah, the Obama rodeo clown controversy. At the Missouri State Fair a rodeo clown donned an Obama mask, helpfully imaged above, and mocked President Obama. The full video, such as it is, can be viewed here. Reaction was swift, the clown in question was banned for life from performing at the Missouri State Fair. It went downhill from there. Conservatives defended the clown’s shtick as freedom of speech and art. The NAACP called the clown’s antics a hate crime. Will it bring down the republic? Unlikely. Can we learn anything from it? Possibly. Can we be amused or at least face palmed about it? One can only hope.
OK, a few points here. Some people have claimed this was just satire and poking fun and it wasn’t racist. There’s a word for people like this. The word is racist. I know, difficult to understand, but one can be a racist and not think they are a racist. OK, it’s racist (and the whole crowd’s reaction was racist) for several reasons. First of all. look at the mask. the lips and teeth are wildly exaggerated. Does Obama have large lips and teeth? No. Why would the lips and teeth be exaggerated? Because those are nigger characteristics.
Moving right along, he made a joke where he didn’t out and out say that Obama was a nigger in the president’s clothes, but he implied it. And the crowd got the “joke.” (For my non racist readers, that’s a classic racists joke. “That’s not a cop, that’s a nigger in a cop suit.” etc.) He also made fun of Obama’s “nigger lips.” Of course Obama doesn’t have prominent lips, in any event nigger lip jokes are also a common trope among racists. The “clown” also references running trampling Obama with a bull, I’m not sure why that was funny, but the crowd laughed.
Lastly, satire is funny. poking fun at people is funny. There was nothing funny or humorous or good matured about the clown’s act, it was just some lowbrow and racist insults. There are plenty of ways the clown could have spoofed Obama and been good-natured about it, he chose the low road. And people complained, because a State Fair is a publicly funded celebration of America and American values, and they didn’t this it was an appropriate venue to crudely mock the president. And it wasn’t, there are plenty of times and places where insulting the president is acceptable, a publicly funded celebration of American values isn’t one of them.
Then there’s people screaming “freedom of speech” and “artistic impression.” I am really tired of those types of people because they invariably don’t have a clue what rights are. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can say whatever you please wherever you please without consequence. Try telling your boss he’s an asshat and see how well freedom of speech protects your job. The clown chose to publicly mock and insult the president while he was on the state’s payroll, if it didn’t occur to him that might not be wise, he’s an idiot. There are all sorts of things a rodeo clown could say that would get him or her fired, how could he not know that?
That all being said, yes, some of the reaction on the part of the State Fair officials and the left as well was over the top. I don’t think the guy should have been fired for one thing, that’s just stupid. A suspension and a warning would have been fine, no need to make a martyr out of the guy. And both clowns in the act should have been corrected, though the one that was fired was certainly the major protagonist. Some have even called for the Secret Service and the DOJ to investigate the act as a “hate crime.” Oh please, spare me. We already have a huge problem in this country with authorities insanely over-reacting to threats, people just make their own cause look silly when they over-react. Oh well, political theatre has always been a tradition in the country, it’s just moved into theatre of the absurd these days.
Lastly, and the only real point to this post, tens of millions of Americans don’t really understand what racism is. Worse, they hold racist attitudes but are in complete denial about them. Like the Americans who don’t think there was anything racist about this clown’s act. Or the tens of millions of Americans who think whites are now a discriminated against minority in the USA. Anyone who thinks that doesn’t even begin to understand the barriers faced by non-whites in this country. It’s as absurd as the “War on Christianity.” Right. In Egypt mobs are burning Christian churches and homes and businesses as I type, when was the last time a mob burned a church in the US? Fortunately at least the USA is doing something about the war on Christianity in Egypt. They are calling for the people waging this war to be put back in power! As my Egyptian friend puts it, now even the Christians in Egypt hate America.
That’s a topic for another post. I hope everyone had a great weekend.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. it’s not being used for profit and is arguably an historical image. I have no clue as to who the image copyright belongs to. And yes, sometimes now one of the links in my posts are fun weird links not really related to the post. Enjoy!)
Russia’s leader, Putin, has begun a major persecution of gays. While being gay in and of itself has not been re-criminalized, pretty much any mention of the topic in public is illegal. Basically any sort of LGTB activism is now illegal in Russia. And of course this rising tide of anti-gay sentiment has encouraged all sorts of people to persecute gays on their own initiative. It’s an ugly situation that has caused some to call for a boycott of the upcoming Russian Olympics, and generated criticism from many international quarters, including Obama himself. On the flip side, many of America’s religious leaders are praising and encouraging Putin’s anti-gay stance! Yes, Putin is now more popular than Obama in some US demographics, go figure.
So, what the hell is going on here? In no particular order, my snarky didactic take on the situation. For starters, I don’t think this is completely random, Putin is a clever man, and he must have decided this was a good time for this. And from a domestic sense, it can only solidify his position. It gets him more in bed with the Russian orthodox church, the military, and just conservative religious Russians in general. So he’s got a domestic win politically. Secondly, this is going to allow him to identify and persecute internal opposition to his rule. These laws will very much be a threat to political activists of all stripes. So just in general this will help keep the lid on secular democratic and human rights dissent. These are pretty big gains for the cost of forcing gays back into the closet.
Then there’s the 2014 Russian Winter Olympics coming up. If one is an authoritarian regime hosting an Olympic game, democratic dissent during the run up to such games is a threat. Pro-democracy advocates brought down the South Korean military dictatorship in 1988 by taking to the streets before the Olympics. Granted Putin doesn’t face the kind of general pro-democracy dissent that the South Korean generals faced, but he’s not a man to take chances when he can avoid them. Internationally it gets even more complicated. The whole issue of LBGT rights is really big in the west, especially the USA, right now. I don’t think this is a coincidence. Basically Putin is setting it up so that almost any sort of “problem” around the Olympics will strengthen his hand domestically.
So what’s the west to do? There has been a lot of talk, but nothing concrete. A few boycotts have been launched, but there doesn’t appear to be any chance now that the west will boycott the Olympics. Which puts a lot of western leaders, including Obama in a position where they have no really good realpolitik options. Actually boycotting the Olympics would get Obama a lot of cred in some quarters, but hurt his cred in others. Others with big money. Putin was likely betting that Obama and the west simply wouldn’t calculate that gay rights was an issue they wanted to get into a tiff with Russia about. It would be bad for business. So far Putin seems to have calculated correctly.
Domestically the US religious right is going nuts over this, falling all over themselves praising Putin’s “moral” stand. Granted they were already foaming at the mouth over Obama, but this just gives them more venom to stir up trouble with. Yes, by persecuting Russia’s gays Putin is encouraging even more divisive politics in the USA, and maybe even encouraging extremists to commit anti-gay terrorism. As a codicil to this, at the very least, Putin knows that American intelligence and security assets will be occupied dealing with the fallout from this. Anything that complicates and divides your enemies is a good thing.
Lastly, since resources will be devoted to this situation in the west, one has to wonder if Putin’s anti-gay crackdown is a distraction of some sort. Is Putin planning something he wants to divert attention away from? Many in the west have forgotten, but in 2008 Georgia tried to use the Olympics to cover up a fait accompli military re-annexation of a breakaway province. An ill advised action that resulted in a swift and brutal war with Russia and a confrontation between Russia and the USA. Putin hasn’t forgotten this by any means, and even if he’s not planning something, someone else might be. The world is not exactly a stable place right now.
(The above image is all over Facebook so I am claiming it as Fair Use under US copyright law. And it is the joke I usually hide in the copyright notice.)
Yes, a navy chaplain has come up with a list of seven ways that gay marriage has hurt his marriage. What can I say, the douchebaggery coming from people who hate gays is reaching new heights as the rest of the world grows up and moves out of the Middle Ages. This guy isn’t just grasping at straws, he’s making them up out of whole cloth. I will address each point in turn since some of them are just begging to be refuted. My comments are in italics. Just that he calls it the “homosexulization of marriage” shows that he is another anti-gay person with a bizarre fixation on how other people are having sex, but I digress. Here, in the chaplain’s own words:
“Here are 7 ways the homosexualization of “marriage” has de-valued the traditional marriages of all Christian families, including my own:
1. It has made our traditional marriage less valuable in the eyes of the state.
This one is a word salad, I’m not even sure what it is supposed to mean. First of all, “traditional marriage” is a meaningless phrase, marriage has changed throughout history and has evolved considerably just this century. And wtf are “the eyes of the state?” Basically it sounds like he is saying that the more people get married, the less his marriage is worth. There’s like only so much marriage value to go around and gays are spreading it thinner?
2. It has forced Christian couples to pay more taxes to make up for the homosexual “bonus pay” now issued by as tax-benefits given to gay “married” couples.
So? The amount of money we are talking about is trivial at best. And at worst, this is just another fucktard upset that some of his tax money goes to something he doesn’t approve of. Guess what, that has always been the case and always will be the case, so this is nothing new. If you don’t like it, don’t pay taxes. He’s also got it backwards, until now gays had to subsidize HIS marriage with their taxes, how come he doesn’t have a problem with that. Oh, right … only his medieval “Christian” values count.
3. It has de-valued by inflation our dollars in our family’s bank accounts by increasing the national debt to pay for more government benefits for gay “married” couples, for which the Fed must print new dollars to pay such debt.
This is basically a restatement of point number two. And the amount of inflation we are talking about here would require an electron microscope to see.
4. It has taken away the rights of Christian couples and Catholic charities to foster or adopt children in states like Massachusetts, as my friend Amy Contrada proves here.
First of all, there are no “rights” to adopt or foster children, so he’s either an idiot or deliberately using the word in a context where it does not apply. And yes, some states insist that foster and adoptive parents not be religious zealots who are going to indoctrinate their children with their extreme religious beliefs. So? Also, wtf does this even have to do with marriage equality? Nothing.
5. It has hurt our national security and therefore our family’s safety by de-funding benefits given to straight couples or weapon systems and re-distributing those Pentagon dollars to gay “married” couples.
Again, break out the electron microscope to see how much funding we are talking about here. And again, this is just a restatement of points number two and three. This is like reading a bad high school paper where the kid didn’t do any research and just kept repeating the same things in different ways to make the paper long enough. Pathetic.
6. It has hurt our ability to worship Almighty God in a Christian chapel building whose altar has been desecrated by homosexual “weddings” depriving us of a sacred worship space.
This is both a lie …. and really sick shit. First of all, no one has suggested forcing any church to perform a gay marriage, and there are no legal ways to do that. Secondly, he’s just saying he thinks gays are so icky they contaminate everything. That’s his problem, not society’s. Note he is also apparently claiming there is something magical about gay marriage since it bothers his magical sky buddy. It’s the 21st century, arguments based on magic belong in the Middle Ages.
7. It has threatened our family’s religious freedom in countless ways, as I explain here.
OK, I’m not going to listen to a 30 minute YouTube rant that will be entirely about distressed privilege. IE it will be an attempt to rebrand religious discrimination as religious freedom.
If I thought about it more, I’m sure I could develop a longer list. But the fact is, yes David, my own marriage has been adversely impacted (as I said twice on your show), and yet my love for my wife and my relationship with her remains faithful and unchanged.”
His last line pretty much destroys his own argument. As a lawyer will ask if you want to sue someone for ruining your life: They will ask if your wife still loves you and your kids still hug you when you come home? If the answer is yes to both, then your life isn’t ruined. Or your marriage in his case. His marriage is apparently just fine, so where is the harm to it from marriage equality? His whole rant is pretty much an illustration of what is so fucked up about ideological and religious thinking, they start with a conclusion and then search for evidence that supports their conclusion. So when the conclusion is nonsense, such as “Gay marriage will hurt my marriage,” the “evidence” is going to be nonsense as well. As the good chaplain has been so obliging to come up with and publish.
As I have said before and will no doubt say again, if you think about, let alone have concerns about what consenting adults are doing with their genitals, you are the pervert with issues.
(The above image is used entirely without permission and is even hard to come up with a good Fair Use rational. It’s not being used for profit though, and the Simpsons has been an outspoken advocate of marriage equality, so hopefully Matt Groening won’t object. Today for a change I’ll conclude with some visual humour:
Hope everyone is having a great weekend! Oh, and I didn’t even address the chaplains contention that gay marriage hurts national security, because, well, that’s so fuctarded stupid that it deserves no rebuttal.)
The Trayvon Martin shooting. And the George Zimmerman trial. I’m at an impasse on racism and oppression and injustice. Some people see it, some people don’t. Some people were outraged by this shooting, some by the verdict. It was a case that revealed where people stood on issues such as racism and class, a case that really highlighted how people perceive the world. Anyone who was using confirmation bias to reinforce their world view … had their world view reinforced by this case. That’s pretty much most of us. This is why is was such a media and cultural sensation, it spoke to everyone. It was a mirror. A mirror into our souls. Our dark souls.
It would be easy to write a post that spoke to those outraged by both the shooting and the verdict. So I won’t go there. I could try to reach those who are overtly prejudiced, and think of Zimmerman as a hero. No point, people have to find their own way out of that conundrum. If anything, I am speaking to those who call themselves progressive, and think that justice was done as it was a fair trial. The liberal sheep as I refer to them as. Privately of course, I wouldn’t want to offend anyone. To me this was one of the saddest aspects of this case, that a lot of people who think of themselves as just and progressive buy into the layers of PC crap that conceals the horrid racist nature of this case. With this in mind, and in no particular order, a few impressions.
Of course this is about race. That is one of the more absurd claims made about this case, that it’s not about race. Of course it’s about race, because it is about how blacks are perceived in public. Blacks already live in a world where the police are not their friends, things like stand your ground laws mean they also live in a world where any white man with a gun is a potential threat. (Don’t even try to tell me that Zimmerman wasn’t “white.” He was a rootin-tootin gun-toting self appointed armed vigilante “defending” a white community against black intruders. Hell, the NRA gave Zimmerman their endorsement, how white is that?) Or look at it this way, almost every black person in America knows a teenager who goes to the store and buys junk food. Even if it wasn’t about race, it was when the media got into it. People who think this wasn’t about race are probably the same people in the habit of saying “I’m not a racist, but … “
It was not about the trial. A lot of liberals are talking about how, well, they really didn’t prove their case. Well, duh. They weren’t trying to prove their case, they were putting on a show trial in the face of enormous public pressure. If the local authorities had had their way, Trayvon would just be another statistic. From the very beginning the local police and authorities didn’t pursue due diligence in this case, Zimmerman wasn’t even tested for drugs for god’s sake. When the defense and the prosecution want an acquittal, it isn’t a fair trial. White people regularly claim self-defense and get away with shooting someone, black people almost never do. The same fellow who prosecuted Zimmerman got a black woman 20 years for firing a warning shot at her husband.
We’re not living in a post racial society. More blacks are in prison now than were enslaved in 1850. And largely imprisoned by draconian drug laws that send people to prison for possession, laws carefully written to punish blacks far more harshly for the types of drugs they use than the punishments for whites using the same drug in a different form. And the Supreme Court dutifully ruled that such laws aren’t racist, because they don’t single out race on an individual level. Right. And stand your ground laws are far more likely to benefit a white shooter than a black one. Nope, no racism there. Trayvon was followed by a vigilante because he was a black male wearing a hoodie, if Zimmerman had followed and killed a white girl in the same circumstances, he’d be on Florida’s death row now.
If one understands that there are still oppressed peoples in the world, even in America, the Trayvon Martin case is an example of same. If for whatever reason someone doesn’t understand that, they’ve got the white thing down pat. White isn’t a race by the way, but that’s for another day. RIP Trayvon.
(The above image was used with permission of the author.)