Category Archives: Society

We’re All In This Together


Harris Rosen is a real person.  He really did give free daycare and college scholarships to all high school graduates in this very poor little neighborhood in Orlando, FL.  It is unclear for how long he did this or if he continues to do this now and the graduation rate statistic is suspect, but it’s still truly inspiring.  What is interesting is how different people find this inspiring.  A conservative friend is the one who posted this on Facebook (Yes this is another Facebook argument.  Yes something is wrong with me.).  My response was this:

Imagine all the money the government is going to save on welfare. Imagine all the extra money the government is going to make in taxes from the increase in income that comes from going to college. Imagine that instead of one neighborhood winning the rich-guy lottery, we all got together and pooled our resources to make this a reality for all. Imagine if everyone in the U.S. had free daycare and college scholarships. Imagine how much better the U.S. and the world would be as a result.

When talking to conservatives, use conservative talking points.  Don’t throw in inflammatory barbs like “Imagine if there were someone running for president right now that has promised to provide these things.  Feel the Bern!”  Though I was sorely tempted, that’s just poking the bear.  His response was:

I get it dude, but forced philanthropy breeds resentment and entitlement. There’s no substitute for a kind heart with a smiling face, proving to a neighborhood that they matter, are not forgotten, and have a gift that requires stewardship.

Which is really along the lines of “That’s all fine and dandy but if you force people to do the things that inspire them they’ll resent you and the people that benefit from it will feel all entitled and stuff.”  It’s such a low view of humanity.  It’s as if benefits don’t count unless you can put a face to the benefactor.  Which is absolutely hilarious when you realize that this seems to be a very popular view in certain Christian circles.  Maybe it has something to do with being told from birth that you’re a dirty sinner and undeserving of anything and thus must work hard from conception to get what you want.  Try to pinpoint exactly who would be resentful and who would feel entitled and you can’t (You know, people.  Not me.  Not my friends.  Those other people.), which was my next point:

 Resentment from whom? Entitlement from whom? Those who would resent this are already resentful. Those who would feel entitled already feel entitled. I think most would feel grateful. Most would feel empowered. Everybody would win; the resentful, the entitled, the rich, the poor. If you’re the one who would feel resentful, fine, conversation over, but if you wouldn’t feel resentful, you are much closer to those that are resentful than I. Change minds. Change spirits.

He “liked” this which is basically a polite way of ending the conversation, but then someone else posted something that I think gets to the heart of why conservatives don’t quite get what the stakes really are even though they should be blindingly obvious:

Let me empty your bank account to pay for my sister’s medical bills and we’ll see who’s resentful.

If you legislate charity, it becomes theft. If you force someone to’s not giving. And if you didn’t make the money, it’s not yours to give.
I’d like a great many things, doesn’t mean I should get them. And just because someone is in unfortunate circumstances, doesn’t mean they should have someone else solve their problems.

I wanted to concentrate on the first sentence only because the rest is just boilerplate libertarian nonsense that people reflexively repeat.  The last sentence is also worth commenting on briefly, though.  This person is obviously Christian and obviously cares about certain things.  These things even correlate very closely with the goal of providing basic childcare to all children.  But she wants to decide exactly whom to help.  She wants to be able to pick a winner and loser.  Take that agency away from her and you suddenly go from an obvious good to grounds for rebellion.  But back to the first sentence:

Um, I am a perfectly healthy male with insurance. I DO pay for your sister’s and hundreds of thousands of other people’s medical bills. Probably not your sister specifically since we are almost assuredly on different health plans, but you get the idea. Plus, we’re kind of switching subjects from education to healthcare, but the whole point of pooling resources is so that any individual DOESN’T get their bank accounts emptied. That was the biggest problem with insurance pre-Obamacare. Have a preexisting condition and you’re uninsurable and you either find a way to pay for your condition or find a magical benefactor or you die. I gladly pay property taxes for the education of children that I won’t have because a better education for all makes us all better. I would gladly pay more in taxes to provide daycare for all because well taken care of children make better prepared children makes us all better. I would gladly pay more in taxes to provide a college scholarship for those that graduate highschool because smarter people get higher paying jobs which allows them to buy more things and provide more things which makes us all better.

I don’t want to live in a world which depends on a magical benefactor who sweeps down on a vanishingly small subset of humanity to provide for a basic need like a child’s education. I want to live in a world where we all recognize that childcare and education are a fundamental necessity for children who had zero choice in to whom they were born and where they were raised. I want us to recognize that this benefits not just the children but all of us. I want to live in a world where the popular belief of “I suffered and so should you” is replaced with “we suffered now let’s try to make things a little better for you”. I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper. My brother is not just Tangelo Park. My sister is not just Orlando, FL. My brother, my sister is the United States of America. Harris Rosen has proven how beneficial childcare is to primary education on a small scale. Let’s make it nationwide and reap the whirlwind of benefits together. No child is not deserving.

It’s a little speechy (I sometimes get like that when I write), but I believe it hammers home my point.  We’re all in this together.  Not a single one of us has the wisdom to decide who is deserving and who is not.  This is true for every single human being, but especially true for children who should be considered deserving by default.  One person proving that providing basic childcare benefits those children immensely is absolutely inspiring.  Learning from that and pooling our resources to make it a reality across the entire United States would be awe inspiring.

We All Deserve Hell And Anything Better Warrants Profuse Gratitude

This is about the recent Baltimore riots and, more specifically, the reactions to it partly by people I know.  If you’re sick of hearing about this topic, be forewarned.  It is also likely to be long and meandering just like the conversation that sparked it.  I stayed out of the conversation because I did not want to interact with the kind of people which it attracted and I could not think of any constructive way to pithily say what needed to be said.  Plus, this is Facebook we’re talking about here.  Nuff said.

It all started with a friend posting a link to the Baltimore riots with the personal comment, “Looks like a great application for rubber bullets. There’s nothing that protects these people, as they are not “peacefully” protesting.”  Normally, I would let a tone-deaf and completely lacking of a shred of empathy comment go because, again, Facebook.  You have to pick your battles and the rest of the conversation got worse very quickly.  But since I’m here writing about it, rubber bullets kill people.  By making that comment, you’re basically condemning a certain amount of the rioters and likely some innocent bystanders to serious injury or death.  Not to mention, “these people”, seriously?  How you use words matter.  Using “these people”, “those people”, “you people” is using language couched in a very long history of racism.  You may not mean it as racist, but it sure makes you sound the part.  That a person would use language like that shows a profound lack of historical context at the very best.  How difficult would it to have come up with “these rioters”?

I continued to read the comments because I’m stupid.  What followed was, again, many comments that can, at the very best interpretation, be considered as showing a profound lack of historical context.  The one comment that really set my teeth on edge was from a person who apparently gets all her history lessons by reading Bill O’Reilly books because she said the following when commenting about how horrible these rioters are: “What did the black community in America do when Dr. King was shot? Murdered, some say, by the whites in power who didn’t want the blacks to be equal. What did they do? Burn down buildings? Throw bricks at cops? Etc? No. They MADE A DIFFERENT CHOICE.”  Holy fuck me with a sharp stick, Batman.  This comment shows just how completely Martin Luther King Jr.’s message has been usurped by the Right to attack any sort of violent actions by Blacks in America.  I felt sure that someone would have corrected that ahistorical drivel so I continued reading.  Not a single word.  For those of you that may be unaware, some of the worse rioting in American history happened after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.  Hundreds of people were killed.  Not to mention, marches by the good Doctor also sometimes turned violent after severe provocation by police.  Police often are the instigators of riots either on purpose, Birmingham for example, or accidentally as some evidence out of Baltimore is now showing where it appears they prevented school children from getting home in a timely manner by cancelling bus and train routes that they use, thus forcing large groups to congregate in small spaces and then came at them with full riot gear.

The same woman also had the nerve to suggest that people would just ignore her opinion because she was white: “I’m not wrong. I’m just white, so my opinion doesn’t count, right?”  Um, no.  You are wrong because your opinions are so obviously based on a severe lack of understanding of the issues at hand that you should be embarrassed to even state an opinion.  This is a fundamental problem with humanity that causes many wrongs.  People feel like they need to have an opinion.  You don’t.  It’s ok to say, “Race relations in America have a complex and vast history and my life is too busy for me to even try to get into it so I’m going to just sit back and soak up the conversation about this topic I know nothing about.”  I don’t exclude myself from that criticism as, I’m sure, I am at times guilty of it.  That’s again why I try to pick my battles on Facebook to topics I know a fair amount about.

The conversation then turned Religulous.  The true source of these riots is lack of morals and loss of faith.  That sort of nonsense.  Things are bad now because of lack of faith in God, but things are better than they were then because of God.  My view is that things are as they always have been and very little has changed.  (*sarcasm* But Obama!)  Again, I tend to ignore stuff like this unless I have something useful to say and I would have this time too except that the original poster then said what you see in the subject line.  Here’s the entire context: “Most Americans believe that the world owes them something. Regardless of race, college students indicate that they deserve a job, those without means believe that they’re entitled to welfare, those without health insurance believe they’re entitled to health care, etc. Wealthy people and those in power feel they deserve the lifestyle they want, even at the expense of others. Most young people believe they deserve 15 minutes of fame. The fact is, people aught to care for one another and one another’s needs, but in the grand scheme of things, we all deserve hell and anything better warrants profuse gratitude.”  I am not sure I have ever heard a sentence more filled with poison than that last sentence.  That it is also couched in the context of a religion of supposed peace makes it all the more vile.  Anything better than hell warrants profuse gratitude.  Profusely grateful to whom?  I am poor and have cancer and my governor refused Medicaid expansion which means there’s no money to pay for my treatment and I’m going to die, but thank you government!  Profusely!  I lost my job because of the at best immoral and at worse illegal actions of a few people and the government rewards those people by bailing them out and not prosecuting them, but at least I get food stamps so I don’t die of starvation for a limited time dictated by a group of people who can not even begin to imagine the situation I am in, but thank you government!  Profusely!

There is an idiotic attack against Atheists that asks, If Atheists don’t believe in God how can they believe in right and wrong?  It’s idiotic because there are plenty of examples of Atheists being just as moral and upstanding as any Theists.  Not high praise, I know, but the point is Atheists are subject to the same mutually agreed upon morality as the rest of the world but just disagree with the source of said morality.  If religion in America is going to continue on the “we all deserve hell and anything better warrants profuse gratitude” track that it seems to be on, Atheists are going to win this morality battle just as surely as same-sex marriage proponents will win theirs.

I should also mention that I don’t mean to sound like the entire conversation was horrible.  There are some very intelligent and well thought out responses to a lot of what was talked about.  There are people, both black and white, that seem to get it.  We’re still a long way from the end of this particular conversation, though.

How To Describe Gender

For someone who doesn’t have the vocabulary or knowledge to talk about gender clearly, this cool infographic is a great starting place.  I’m sure it’s not all-inclusive, but it’s certainly better and simpler than anything I’ve ever come across.  It does get across the point well that gender is far from a binary position.



No, You Are Certainly Not Charlie Hebdo

I only read David Brooks when his word salad op-eds go viral.  This is a good choice for both my health and my sanity.  David Brooks is the Kim Kardashian of the journalism world.  That he has a following at all is proof to me that kids these days are no more stupid than the adults that accuse them of such.  In his latest, he complains about the hurt fee fees of the left when people express vile opinions.  What follows is my first FJM treatment.  Brooks’ words are in bold, my responses are not.

I Am Not Charlie Hebdo

Are you sure?  Your writing is every bit as offensive as their cartoons.  Or at least it should be considered such.  Wait, no, you’re right.  They occasionally make a valid point, you do not.

The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression

Uh oh, I smell a false equivalence coming.

but let’s face it:

Can we not?  Please, please, just shut up now and save us all from your mindless drivel.

If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.

Wow, with the very first sentence he’s already comparing the massacre of civilians whose only crime was publishing offensive material to student protests and with the very next two he proves he has absolutely no idea what Freedom of Speech means.  I got news for you, Davey, Freedom of Speech does not mean Freedom From Consequences.  The groups that you are about to spend 800 words whining about are tackling offensive speech the way it should be tackled.

Public reaction to the attack in Paris has revealed that there are a lot of people who are quick to lionize those who offend the views of Islamist terrorists in France but who are a lot less tolerant toward those who offend their own views at home.

Because they’re dead, you moron!  No one would give a crap otherwise.  Hell, Charlie Hebdo was firebombed and no one gave a crap.  But yeah, when a couple of whack-a-loons decide to introduce the insides of peoples’ bodies to a few ounces of lead just because they are offensive, we’re going to take notice.

Just look at all the people who have overreacted to campus micro-aggressions.

Oh, crap, here it comes.

The University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality.

Yep, this is certainly as bad as 12 dead people.

The University of Kansas suspended a professor for writing a harsh tweet against the N.R.A.

You centrist you!

Vanderbilt University derecognized a Christian group that insisted that it be led by Christians.

I love the smell of Christian persecution in the morning time.  Oh, wait, no, the first was teaching something that has no place in a classroom, the second, I have no idea what you are talking about, but again, Speech has Consequences, and the third is a fairly common sense policy about inclusion.

Americans may laud Charlie Hebdo for being brave enough to publish cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, but, if Ayaan Hirsi Ali is invited to campus, there are often calls to deny her a podium.

Shoot me.  More lack of understanding about  Freedom of Speech.  Listen up, Bobo, the Charlie Hebdo people are dead.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali is alive.  Charlie Hebdo created its own platform for its speech, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not entitled to be given a platform wherever she shows up.  That’s not how it works.

 So this might be a teachable moment.

Hey something I agree with!  David Brooks is a hack who doesn’t understand a single thing about Freedom of Speech or anything else, for that matter.  Lesson learned.  The End.

As we are mortified by the slaughter of those writers and editors in Paris, it’s a good time to come up with a less hypocritical approach to our own controversial figures, provocateurs and satirists.

Dammit, he thinks there’s another lesson to be learned!  And that lesson is, apparently, to give our controversial figures carte blanche to say what they want where they want whenever they want.  Or something.

The first thing to say, I suppose, is that whatever you might have put on your Facebook page yesterday, it is inaccurate for most of us to claim, Je Suis Charlie Hebdo, or I Am Charlie Hebdo.

In which Brooks shows his complete ignorance of how the the English language works.  If I say “David Brooks is a douche”, I am not saying that he is the actual feminine product, I am saying that they are both items which, despite the incontrovertible proof that they do no actual good, continue to exist because of a combination of snappy packaging and shaming.

Most of us don’t actually engage in the sort of deliberately offensive humor that that newspaper specializes in.

Yes we do.  Every single one of us.  Without exception.  For instance, I’m about to tell a joke that even makes the infamous The Aristocrats joke to shame.  David Brooks.

 We might have started out that way.

Insert picture of David Brooks in a three-way with Jesus and Muhammad here.

When you are 13, it seems daring and provocative to “épater la bourgeoisie,” to stick a finger in the eye of authority, to ridicule other people’s religious beliefs.

Hurray for Google Translate!

But after a while that seems puerile.

And this is why you (and most of your profession) fail as a journalist.  It’s your freakin’ job to stick a finger in the eye of authority!

Most of us move toward more complicated views of reality and more forgiving views of others.

In which David Brooks proves he has never talked to another human being.  Ever.

(Ridicule becomes less fun as you become more aware of your own frequent ridiculousness.)

If Brooks were at all aware of his own constant ridiculousness, we wouldn’t have to read this article.

Most of us do try to show a modicum of respect for people of different creeds and faiths.

Um, what?  Don’t you cover politics?

We do try to open conversations with listening rather than insult.

In which David Brooks proves he doesn’t know how a conversation works.

Yet, at the same time, most of us know that provocateurs and other outlandish figures serve useful public roles. Satirists and ridiculers expose our weakness and vanity when we are feeling proud. They puncture the self-puffery of the successful. They level social inequality by bringing the mighty low. When they are effective they help us address our foibles communally, since laughter is one of the ultimate bonding experiences.

Moreover, provocateurs and ridiculers expose the stupidity of the fundamentalists. Fundamentalists are people who take everything literally. They are incapable of multiple viewpoints. They are incapable of seeing that while their religion may be worthy of the deepest reverence, it is also true that most religions are kind of weird. Satirists expose those who are incapable of laughing at themselves and teach the rest of us that we probably should.

This is how you fill column space, folks!  A few definitions, a few innocuous generalities and we’re good to print!

In short, in thinking about provocateurs and insulters, we want to maintain standards of civility and respect while at the same time allowing room for those creative and challenging folks who are uninhibited by good manners and taste.

Now he’s just repeating himself.

If you try to pull off this delicate balance with law, speech codes and banned speakers, you’ll end up with crude censorship and a strangled conversation. It’s almost always wrong to try to suppress speech, erect speech codes and disinvite speakers.

Come see the violence inherent in the system!  Help, help, I’m being repressed!  Oh, wait, no, no one is.  If you can carve a space for your speech, you are welcome to that space.  I am not required to provide that space for you.

Fortunately, social manners are more malleable and supple than laws and codes.

David Brooks should never, ever use the word “supple”.  Please, Anonymous, hack his computer and remove it from his dictionary.

Most societies have successfully maintained standards of civility and respect while keeping open avenues for those who are funny, uncivil and offensive.

Except for pretty much every society that has come before us, but who’s counting?

In most societies, there’s the adults’ table and there’s the kids’ table.

Guess which one Brooks thinks he sits at!

The people who read Le Monde or the establishment organs are at the adults’ table.

Pompous much?  You know damn well it took every fiber of his being not to use the New York Times as an example.  Establishment organs?

The jesters, the holy fools and people like Ann Coulter and Bill Maher are at the kids’ table. They’re not granted complete respectability, but they are heard because in their unguided missile manner, they sometimes say necessary things that no one else is saying.

Ah, the “both sides do it” argument rears its ugly head along with some great false equivalence.  Ann Coulter and Bill Maher are not at all the same.  One is a joke and the other is a comedian.  Also, the world is surprised to know that David Brooks thinks Ann Coulter has ever said a “necessary thing”.  Says a lot about you Dave.

Healthy societies, in other words, don’t suppress speech, but they do grant different standing to different sorts of people.

In which David Brooks makes the arguments for “separate but equal”.

Wise and considerate scholars are heard with high respect.

Tell that to climate scientists, Barack Obama, or anyone trying to make even the most reasoned response to the realities of our justice system.

Satirists are heard with bemused semirespect.

Way to throw pretty much the only group of journalists worth listening to a bone.

Racists and anti-Semites are heard through a filter of opprobrium and disrespect.

Explain the Republican party.

People who want to be heard attentively have to earn it through their conduct.

Again, explain the Republican party.

The massacre at Charlie Hebdo should be an occasion to end speech codes.

Nothing up my sleeve!  Presto!  I saw a bird get into an argument with a squirrel the other day.  This should be used as an occasion to end speech codes.  Plus, who is enforcing speech codes?  Oh, right, nobody.

And it should remind us to be legally tolerant toward offensive voices, even as we are socially discriminating.

Do you know who is legally tolerant toward offensive voices?  The entire freakin’ country!  Do you know who would benefit from reading this David Brooks article?  No one.

Charlie Hebdo Remembered

Terrorists attacked the Paris headquarters of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo earlier today.  12 people are known dead with a few more currently in critical condition.  While details are sketchy and the attackers are still on the loose, it seems certain that this was in retaliation for the paper mocking Islam and printing multiple Mohammad cartoons.  This is tragic and incredibly stupid.  How anyone thinks that someone putting pen and pencil to paper should be met with violence is beyond me.

How does one respond to such inanity?  To me, a perfect response would be for every newspaper in the free world to pick a day and, as a sign of unity, print one of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.  This one is my favorite:

“Love is stronger than hate”


Happy Privilege Day!

Ah, there’s nothing like the post-Christmas food coma day to talk about the dichotomy of our society here in the United States.  Everybody’s off of work, nursing their hangovers or returning the crappy presents that their Aunt Matilda got them.  Well, except the people in retail who have to put up with all your over-privileged complaints.  Or the people who clean your houses and offices.  Or the people who pick your food.  Or the people who deliver your packages.  You know, all the people who get paid crap and keep the economic engine that we all depend on functioning normally.  Be nice to them.  Their job sucks way worse than yours does.

It is amazing how different downtown Chicago is on the day after Christmas (and I’d assume the day after Thanksgiving).  It’s like a ghost town.  Well, most of it is.  Chicago is a fairly heavily segregated city.  Even in downtown, where there are no hard and fast racial borders, it is noticeable.  Today, especially so.  Millennium Station, which on a normal day I would guess serves 60-70% Black people is almost 100% Black today, except for the line at Starbucks.  And speaking of Starbucks, there are Starbucks stores that are closed today!  I didn’t think that was possible, but if you work in a skyscraper with its own economic ecosystem and that ecosystem includes a Starbucks, chances are it and most of the other stores and shops and restaurants are closed.

The finer restaurants will be open today and the early staff of mostly Hispanics are patiently waiting for their almost assuredly White manager, who is late, to arrive for the day to open up for them.  I’d imagine that if they were late, the consequences would be dire.  They will cook our food and serve it to us privileged as we all enjoy a welcome and deserved respite from the toils of everyday life, completely oblivious to those surrounding us that every bit deserves the respite we enjoy, but do not have the social standing to demand one.  So tip them well.

Privilege isn’t anything to feel guilty about.  In fact, you should enjoy it!  But you should also recognize it.  A little introspection can go a long way and if you believe you got to where you are by sheer force of will, you are either deceiving yourself or you’re a complete dick.  The latter can  likely not be corrected, when you’re a dick you’re a dick all the way from your first cigarette to your last dying day, but self-deception can be fought against and it is worth fighting to become a more socially conscious individual.

Ah, Texas, That Bastion Of Gay Rights

Wait, what did I just say?  I think I’m going to chalk this one under even a stopped clock is right twice a day, but it’s still pretty awesome.  And also VERY Texas.

A gay couple decides to have a baby together so they get a surrogate mother, one donates sperm and voila, a baby!  One of the men (the sperm donor) then decides that homosexuality is evil and breaks up with the other and marries a woman.  The newly god-fearing couple then sue for sole custody of the child while the other poor guy just wants joint custody.  This goes on for four years and goes to a jury trial which finally gives the still gay guy full custody of the child!

Texas is apparently the only state in the nation that settles child custody cases by a jury trial.  That’s weird.  Also, the judge had to kick five jurors off the case because they so strongly opposed homosexuality that they couldn’t make a judgement according to the rule of law and evidence.  But still, a Texas jury ruled against a married couple, one of whom is the biological father of the child, and gave sole custody of the child to the still gay father because the jury was convinced that the married couple would not be acceptable co-parents in a joint custody relationship.

See?  Texas got it right!

More Ideas In Radical Democracy

When last we left our hero, he was definitively solving the problem of elections in the United States.  You’re welcome.  Today, I’d like to talk about another serious threat to Democracy: Capitalism.

Now, before you get all bent out of shape about how Capitalism is awesome and is responsible for a lot of the inventions and progress we as humans have made so far, let me say that I agree with you.  Mostly.  There should be a very fine dividing line between Capitalism and Government if a Democracy is to thrive.  Capitalism has a way of perverting Government to the point where the wants of the few end up outweighing the promotion of the general Welfare our Constitution calls for.  Much of this perversion comes from the outlandish amounts of money corporations can throw at our politicians.  It is high time for a partial schism between Capitalism and Government.

Corporate taxes should be 0%:  Corporations should not pay taxes on income.  Other taxes would still apply.  This, like most other suggestions that will follow has to do with keeping corporations as far removed as possible from governmental activities.  It would also require a restructuring of the individual income tax system and would require all individual income to be taxed equally and would necessitate more high income tax brackets to make up for the loss in corporate taxes.

Corporations should pay for everything an employee needs:  Corporations will pay a salary of some sort.  They should also have to pay a stipend for any activity or expense an employee might run into during employment hours.  Dress code?  Corporations pay for it.  Lunch hour?  Corporations pay for it.  On the job injuries?  Corporations pay for it.

Corporations are not people:  Corporations should not be given personhood.  Given various Supreme Court rulings qualifying corporations as people, this will likely require a Constitutional Amendment.  And speaking of the Constitution, the Constitution should not apply to corporations.  They are simply a governmental creation which is entitled to the rights that the government allows them to have.  So there should also be a Corporate Bill of Rights.

Money is not speech:  This is probably one of the biggest ones.  Again, given various Supreme Court rulings, this will likely require a Constitutional Amendment to fix.  The government makes the money.  The government distributes the money.  The government can dictate where and how the money can flow if it so chooses.  Yes, this means that the government can force you to buy health care or broccoli.

Governmental regulations still apply:  Yeah, these aren’t going anywhere.  The government still has a huge part to play in keeping its citizenry safe and corporations are by far the largest malefactors in that.  Water, air, land, it’s all worth protecting and we can not rely on corporations to protect it.

Have we achieved nirvana yet?  I can’t solve all the world’s problems myself.  What are your ideas?

The Islamic State

Do yourself a favor and watch this VICE News video on ISIS.  Warning: there are some very graphic images at times.


What amazes me the most about the video is how perfectly normal and perfectly matter of fact most of the ISIS people seem.  Well, until they cut off your head or crucify you.  It’s almost surreal.  Their daily experience is so far removed from what we are used to and the veneer on the horrors that they are perpetrating only cracks every once in a while.  What especially got me was the policing of the Sharia Law stuff.  So polite, almost courteous.  So deadly.  It gives me chills.

VICE News is doing some amazing reporting around the world.  Their in-depth reporting is around the best I’ve seen.  It’s what real reporting should be.

This Is What Progress Looks Like


I learned an interesting fact.  Illinois was the first state to rescind it’s anti-sodomy law back in 1961.  From there we had a gradual decline until in 2003 where the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas ruled anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional.  Then, from that zero point, we quickly see growth in the legality of same-sex marriage and many anti-same-sex marriage laws being struck down by the courts.  I give it ten years tops before we see that graph hit 100%.