And The White Lion Roars

This WordPress.com site is for those who refuse to accept mythology as literal truth, and instead question everything!

Category: politics

An Asshole By Any Other Name Still Stinks

And the white lion roars!

On April 6th America was treated to a video of a thirty-nine year old employee of Starbucks screaming at Florida governor, Republican Rick Scott because of his refusal as governor to expand Medicaid, and his cutting of funding to female reproductive clinics. As a result of his actions, the barista, and many other low wage women in Florida are not able to purchase health care insurance through President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”

What struck me about this video more than anything else was how many times she called the governor an asshole. When and why did this become our favorite pejorative? I found the  wonderful list above just by looking at a thesaurus site and searching for asshole synonyms. If you ask me, she should have called him a pilgarlic¹. That would have shown him!!!

Of course, his response showed the depth and maturity of the statesman Governor truly is; he made a video attacking her. Keep it classy, Governor. (Sarcasm.)

After I looked at the synonyms for asshole (which I truly expected would bring up anatomical terms) I searched “anus,” for which there are apparently no synonyms other than ‘asshole.’ Then I did a search for lists of pejoratives. This is an adventure that I chose not to undertake since the first lists had over two-hundred pages each. With all these choices of mean things to call each other, can we not be a little more creative? Especially with all the studies that have come out the last two or three years saying that we salty tongued folks tend to be smarter than average…is this the best we can do.

While we are at it, why do we take words that really mean something good and make them mean something bad? Why is ‘tool’ now a bad thing? If homo-sapiens had not learned to use tools we never would have survived, or come to both dominate and destroy the earth. Dick? This nickname for a penis? This is a male body part that is not only useful and necessary for a man, but can also bring great pleasure to a woman. Why is it now a nasty name to call a guy? There are others, but I’ll let go of the use of curses in the U.S.

I don’t really like talking about the 2016 presidential election, it has already been the most disgusting display of idiocy on the republican side that I have ever seen. My problem is that I see so many pluses and minuses for the two remaining democratic candidates that I’m not sure which way to go between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. In the beginning it was a slam-dunk for me, Bernie Sanders. Secretary Clinton² has much baggage from a few decades in public service, she’s too hawkish and not near as progressive as I. Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist,” and is always at least a little, but sometimes a great lot, to the left of Secretary Clinton. But as a woman, and a feminist, her record of working to improve the lot of women and girls all over the world is stellar, as is her position on women’s reproductive rights, which is very important to me. But so is income inequality, which I am fairly sure that Bernie can be better trusted to address. I also have an impossible amount of student debt, which Bernie also promises to address. I don’t like Hillary’s hawkishness, but we do have a terrible threat, worldwide, from violent extremists, and her experience as Secretary of State may give her more insight how to deal with this threat.

So you see, this has to be the most consequential election of my lifetime. I never thought any election would matter as much as electing President Obama in 2008. But it isn’t just the presidential election that matters. If democrats don’t take back the senate and lots of state legislatures women will very soon, especially in the “Red” south, need to kiss reproductive choice, health and safety goodbye.

¹ “Pilgarlic” is an archaic word making fun of bald men.

² Hillary Clinton was President Obama’s Secretary of State during his first presidential term, 2009 to 2012,

 

 

 

 

This Winter I Am Discontent (But With Ragweed)

cropped-white-lion-profile-pic1.jpg

Ohhhhhhhh, so much to roar about, so little time! So today the White Lion will just dive right in. About three weeks ago I learned that a cousin I grew up with, almost a fourth sister, really, has multiple myeloma. Now, even though we have been very close all of our lives, we disagree vehemently on politics, and even more on religion. So, when she put it out on Facebook she asked for prayer. Dozens and dozens of her friends and other relatives posted that they were “raising her up in prayer.” At that point we only knew of a tumor in her leg, that was the week they went in to either fix it or decide what comes next. So it was two weeks ago when we learned the extent of the spread of the cancer, throughout the leg, pelvis, one shoulder and into the marrow. So another cousin posted on Facebook, “To all you prayer warriors out there…” This brought rushing back to me the same question I asked when my dad was told that his pain would be the rest of his life, he has dementia and COPD, and we can only manage his pain, not fix it. As his life spiraled downward hundreds of their friends and family promised to pray, but his quality of life has not improved at all. So, is the problem that not enough people have prayed? Or is it that the right person hasn’t “lifted them up.” (I, of course, had to tamp down the guilty question, “Is there a god, and is he waiting for me to pray?) Either way, for me it is one more validation that there is no loving magic man in the sky who cares about our individual daily lives, all the way down to who wins the ballgame, whether you can have a new bike, and whether or not yoga opens one up to demonic influence. But why do all those other true believers’ prayers not matter?

So, if I haven’t angered anyone yet (Biiiiiiiiiig Roar) I can’t not talk about the election. First I need to respond to a comment that Bill Maher. the comedian/host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, regularly makes, which I believe to only be partially true. The republican candidates for president also spout this nonsense every time they see a microphone as well; that political correctness is killing our country. (That the media NEVER asks the follow up question, “Can you tell us precisely how?” is another truth that makes me roar. Anyway, Bill Maher, whose show I watch every week, often says that Donald Trump is a ‘reaction to political correctness.” He is not. He is the end result of the “self esteem movement” gone too far. First of all, the self esteem movement got it wrong when it gave permission for children to grow up believing themselves to be better than other people rather than that they are as good as anyone else. All Trump’s bluster and bloviation about being that absolute greatest at everything, always a winner, greatest negotiator, blah, blah, blah, is self esteem movement blather all lathered up.

And all Trumps self aggrandizement leads me to one question, “…and republicans call President Obama arrogant?” Really?  It was enough for this White Lion to hear how arrogant he was in comparison to George W. Bush, who called himself “The Decider,” and bragged about ‘going with his gut’ instead of bothering to wait for facts. Our president is confident, I’ll give you that, and in a white man that would be considered a good thing. He’s not braggadocios, when he has accomplished something he says so, usually in a soft, gracious way, thanking those others on the team who made whatever it is possible. And only once in awhile, usually when responding to someone calling him weak or diffident, he can be cocky, but always is a charming and humorous way. None of this wild talk about wiping a whole group of people off the face of the earth and taking our allies down because they dare to criticize. It is clear to me after seven years that when Rep. Lynn Westmoreland and Rush Limbaugh  call the president “uppity” that they are speaking to this idea, he’s a black man who is in charge of things right now, and they don’t like it.

And I’m curious, speaking of political will, ‘back in the day,’ when the US was known for innovation and inventing things, what did the guys who eventually became oil barons do? The oil boom officially began in 1859, in a place called Titusville, PA, when a man named Col. Edwin L. Drake successfully drilled the first working oil well.  But what did those guys do before? The men we see before us today, The Koch Brothers, T.Boone Pickens, Exxon Mobile, BP, etc, are not unintelligent men. But they are frozen in time to an industry that is killing us, and they refuse to use that intelligence to innovate and find a way that is not so damaging. The sad part of them hanging on so steadfastly to an industry that is outdated, just because is made them richer than most of us can wrap our heads around, is that they wouldn’t lose more than an initial investment do put some of that money to good use for the purpose of moving away from fossil fuels. After that they would make their money all over again. It’s already been shown that there is money to be made in ‘green industry.’ Even to the point that some nefarious folks are making money off people by claiming that they are offering green alternatives when they are not. (Ethanol from corn being a prime example!) Main point, smart people can find a way to unbreak things if they are not so entrenched and afraid of change that they just try to rationalize and defend “the way it’s always been.”

Has anyone heard? There is a sweet new book out called “A Birthday Cake for the President.”  It is a book about a group of smiling, happy slaves getting ready to let the rich white people eat a nice cake they are making for President George Washington’s birthday. Needless to say, the book has stirred up quite a firestorm, and has now been pulled ‘off the shelves.’ But I think that the very notion this book was written at all is more proof of a deep, deep problem in the republican establishment. While this author, Ramin Ganeshram, is a journalist and chef, not a member of any political party that I could find, there are many on the right who have implied or said outright that black people were better off as slaves. These may be the ones who are fighting tooth and nail to keep the minimum wage unlivable. They are speaking for people without being asked to, but they are projecting the actual pleasure they feel when thinking of people who own businesses being allowed to do so with nearly no overhead, such as those pesky labor costs.

Also included in that group are all the legislators, state and federal, who keep trying to end the access of poor women to health care and reproductive services. Since federal dollars can’t be used for abortions, they are attacking women getting cancer screenings, medications, and many other health services that do not include abortions. They demonize and try to criminalize Planned Parenthood, and even after their lies with that aim are disproved, they keep repeating the same lies, almost as if their assertions will eventually become true (0r at least believed.) So let me boil this down, in my opinion, the people who are trying to take away a woman’s control over their own bodies, particularly if she is poor, really just want to kill poor women. They know that abortion won’t go away just because they may eventually succeed at making it illegal. Safe abortion will go away for people who don’t have the money to buy a private doctor’s discretion. So there will be abortion deaths. Screenings are known to catch some cancers early enough to be cured, so if fewer poor women get screenings, some of them will die of cancers that rich women never die from. Testing for diseases can also produce cures, but these, mostly men, but a few white, conservative women, would deny poor women these chances at a healthy, productive life. They still believe the often debunked and disproved idea that poor women are all on drugs and just keep “popping out babies so they can get a bigger welfare check.” Are there some people who abuse the system? Of course? Will that ever be stopped? No. There will always be people who can game any system. But does that mean that the truly needy should be denied services? I say no. But if they can kill a few poor women before women everywhere decide to be angry enough about it to act, that will mean a few less poor babies to feed.

Limbaugh Calls Obama "Uppity"

http://thehill.com/homenews/news/16173-westmoreland-calls-obama-uppity

http://www.salon.com/2012/10/12/ten_conservatives_who_have_praised_slavery/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defining Parameters

And the white lion roars!

When I read up on how to make a blog successful, the advice givers almost always say to post something every week. I clearly do not do that, though I do try. Sometimes it is because there is just so much going on that I am overwhelmed with how to digest it all into this space. Sometimes it is because of a lifelong fear of what other people think of me. Sometimes it is because I make comments in other places that some people that I love seem to take as a personal attack, which makes me reticent to express opinions. In particular I am told that when I make comments about religion, I think everyone who believes is stupid, or my comments are too general and not all religious people are “like that.” But here’s the thing; I was brought up in a very fundamentalist environment, and while I was always a secret skeptic, I tried extremely hard to believe what I was taught. The consequences of not believing were just too egregious to me. I remember in the mid-eighties having dinner at my youngest sister’s apartment, crying. This was the beginning of the time that I started to lose my fear of vocalizing my doubts, at least in certain company. I said to her, “If anything we were ever taught is true, I’m going to hell now.” Who wants to go to hell for eternity? Who wants to spend eternity separated from light and love? And so, somewhere deep inside of me is a longing for it still to be true, and maybe some envy of those who do plainly have experiences that support the spiritual and mystical. I would love to see a ghost. I would love to have an experience of God in some form. But it has not happened for me. Some say I need to have faith first. But some part of my “self” can’t do that. As one of my scientific heroes has said, I don’t want to live by faith, I want evidence. I am fascinated by stories of paranormal experience, and the religious mystics, but again, I am envious and skeptical of their experiences. I do not believe that religious people are unintelligent or foolish. I know many religious people who are definitely neither. I simply do not share their belief or experience, and thus I am interested in what they have to say, I want to know what it is like to experience these things. I also get that life can never be completely rational. There are some things that can’t be explained by science. But the big thing here for me is that science is okay with admitting that it can be wrong when new evidence is presented. Religion is an exercise in certainty, which can be dangerous. If one clings to answers that have been disproven, they become angrier and angrier when evidence that refutes that belief is shown. That kind of anger can lead to intifadeh. Or crusades. Or terrorism against the places that dispute whatever belief is being questioned.

That said, I do have some ongoing problems with the Judeo/Christian/Muslim teachings, and some of the current violence going on in the name of God. These actions are mostly being conducted by Muslims and Hindus, but Christians and Jews have done their share of violence, and continue to do so, but not at the same scale. When I criticize religion it is often Christianity that gets the nod, because that is what I am most familiar with, and in the United States it is currently the majority religion. If there is a news story about any religion except Islam, it is most often about something within the Christian spectrum. One of these in recent months has been the County Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, Kim Davis. Since SCOTUS legalized gay marriage on June 26, 2015, fundamentalist Christians have been up in arms about how it violates their religious freedom to be expected to provide any kind of service to gay people. Ms. Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses from her county and has even been jailed on contempt charges for this, and has become a cause celebre with fundamentalist candidates for president in 2016. After she created a huge storm over her refusal, she started going on the morning talk shows to defend herself and her beliefs. The press had uncovered that she has been married four times, plainly against biblical rules, and that she even became pregnant out of wedlock, and cheated on her last husband with her current one. When confronted with how unbiblical her lifestyle has been she retorted that those earlier ‘sins’ were forgiven because she was not saved then, but now she is forgiven. She is not the first Christian I’ve heard to use this argument. “Once a person is saved, all their sins are forgiven, past, present and future.” How convenient for them. The trouble I have with it is that there were many people involved in her past life. The husbands she cheated on, her children, etc. The people who preach this particular gospel do not feel any amends are necessary, nor is it necessary for them to try to live by biblical principles. Whatever they do, they are forgiven. Adultery, theft, gossip, alcoholism and drug addiction-with all the pain and destruction it causes; all forgiven. I once knew someone who had this belief, who was basically a terrible human being, and he treated his widowed mother horribly! I asked him about that, and he said it doesn’t matter, he’s forgiven. But I’m pretty sure it mattered to his mother, and to Kim Davis’ ex-husbands, and on and on. And to the family of a murder victim whose murderer found Jesus in prison. Here’ my idea, as someone who is fairly familiar with Twelve Step Programs, I believe that before these people get to use the “I’m saved and forgiven now,” they must make amends to the people they’ve hurt.

I have been involved in some conversations recently with some people I know who are supporters of the so called “Gospel of Prosperity,” which is SO popular with many upper middle class white people these days. The notion is that if you are obscenely, ostentatiously rich, it is proof that you are ‘good with god.’ It is a disgusting perversion of the New Testament, but it just keeps being started up again by preachers who hammer this message to their congregations Sunday after Sunday. I will never defend these predators, who are really the only ones prospering from this defamation of the bible they claim to believe literally as having been written directly from the hand of god. The thing I discovered though, when researching for this post, some, if not most,  of these preachers grew up poor. So at least we can get enough into their psyches to understand why bling and money and houses, etc, drive them so hard. They are still a blight on society, adding to the owning stuff = success, therefore, if I own lots of flashy cars, flashy clothes, private planes, etc,it only proves what a good person I am. If you don’t have all this, then get right with god and you can have it too. The thing is, though, that in said bible, Jesus had much to say about being good to the poor, and the orphan and widow. And yet the people who attend these ‘mega-churches’ buy in to the political rhetoric that says the poor are lazy do nothings who just want handouts. The poor are demonized, the rich are lionized, and our society gets further and further away from the Declaration of Independence’s claim that “all men are created equal.” There is no longer equality in this country, and the lies about why are being reinforced by the religious side and the political side. But it isn’t working for everyone, and someone needs to figure out why and how to fix it, instead of becoming so entrenched in the notion that “I have mine, fuck you.” This whole notion enforces the reasons why I disdain religion. I’m not angry at God, I don’t believe he exists; how can I be angry with him? But I do have many troubles with religion and its excuses for not following what it claims to believe.

Enough heaviness. I usually start with some questions about cultural things that make me wonder about stuff. One thing that I’ve been meaning to ask for some time has to do with the financial crisis in Greece. I’m curious what can be done about it. I’ve never been to Greece, but I’ve never seen a photo of Greece that didn’t take my breath away. So I’m left to ask the European Union (EU) what they would like Greece to do to start making more money. Should they build factories? Would their rocky shores and ancient building even permit such endeavors, or would they prevent construction and crumble to pieces from it? Would we want those coastlines and historic sites destroyed by buildings, people moving in to take jobs in a new construction industry, and the attendant pollution? There are so few beautiful places left; what should Greece do about this conflict between creating more revenue for the state and maintaining it’s beauty and history? I don’t have an answer, but I wish there was one.

Finally, I remember in 2012, immediately after President Obama’s reelection, I emailed several news stations and opinion sites suggesting a moratorium on discussing the 2016 race until now, November 2015. They ignored me (Whaaaaaat!) But now we are a couple of months away from primary season. I will admit openly to being a Bernie Sanders supporter. I have had a few people say to me that they are surprised I’m not a Hillary Clinton supporter, and instead of arguing it out I just tell them that if she gets the nomination, I will vote for her. The republican side, however, appears to be one giant embarrassment after another. In particular Jeb Bush, brother of President George W. Bush, son of President George H.W. Bush. I’ve been saying for weeks that I get the impression Jeb doesn’t really want to be there. There may be a few reasons why, but my theory is that his “people” told him he was inevitable, and now, with so many republican candidates, he is actually having to work for the nomination. He seems to believe that he shouldn’t have to convince anyone that he is the one for whom they should vote. And so he is surly and inarticulate, and seems to dig ever deeper holes every time he speaks. The other is Dr. Ben Carson, alleged retired neurosurgeon. I say alleged because this man seems frighteningly uninformed about anything remotely resembling life and reality. I know doctors. I work with doctors, and I  have some doctors in my social orbit. While they all have their own individual personalities, some quite quirky, some nerdy, some fairly “normal” seeming. But each of them can demonstrate that they were at least remotely qualified to enter medical school and achieve the hard requirements to become a medical doctor or surgeon. Some are down to earth and open to all kinds of other people, some believe themselves to be gods, superior over anyone with less education and expertise. But all of them can hold a reasonable conversation, except Dr. Ben Carson. They all seem to be proud of their accomplishments as is; they don’t have to make up all kinds of stories, as Dr. Ben Carson has done. I’ve heard it said the he has embellished his childhood thugishness in order to make his autobiography, Gifted Hands more of a redemption story. It reminds me of a guy I used to know who was a competitive body builder who went to youth groups and churches to share his story and demonstrate his strength. I challenged him about it when I learned that he used steroids; he made no bones about his reasons, “If I go into a school to tell the kids that my relationship with God made me successful at weight lifting, and I’m not built up enough, they won’t believe me.” He truly didn’t get that he was committing a terrible fraud. And so is Ben Carson, when he lies about being offered a full scholarship to West Point, or having stabbed people as a youth, or got into fights as a young man in school. And when he then complains that the media is being unfair by researching his past he is being disingenuous because he asked for this. He chose to run for president-he wasn’t drafted by the party on the twelfth ballot of the convention. He claims that lots of people told him he should run for president because they so admire him. But during the months before he announced, he should have had ‘his people’ or his exploratory committee look into what it would be like so that they could be sure he was ready for this. Who remembers Laura Bush saying that one of the things she dreaded about her husband running for president was the awful things people would say about him? Hell, all Carson had to do is read some conservative papers and websites and talking heads to see how viscerally and viciously President Obama has been attacked. If he were an honest man, he would admit that President Obama has had it worse than anyone-EVER! And a close second is Hillary Clinton whose every breath and fart are investigated as a potential crime or scandal. Every word out of either of their mouths is disseminated to hell and back to check its veracity, or to find evidence of plans for a Black Panther take over of the government and execute all white people. My conclusion is, that after listening to Ben Carson all these months, he is a fraud. This man who is being pushed out front of the republican party’s so-called “clown car” is not the man who was the first to separate conjoined twin who were connected at the brain. This man is not educated, and certainly couldn’t have made it through medical school. And while I realize that he is the less offensive black man that the conservatives can use as proof that they are not racist, he is not anything else that they are saying he is. I want someone to investigate what happened to the real Doctor Ben Carson. What did this man with the violent and fabricated past do with the body. Someone should look into this.

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