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The dirty game of politics played by gangsters with degrees cloaked in Brooks Brothers proper!

Clinton: I’m Badass As Any These Fools In Charge Today!

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Not the Lesser of Two Evils: Why Hillary Clinton Is Unfit for the Presidency

Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D.
TARPLEY.net

 

Hillary Clinton — The International Neocon Warmonger

As the National Journal reported in 2014, even the pathetically weak anti-war left is not ready to reconcile with Hillary given her warmongering as Secretary of State. And with good reason. Scratching just lightly beneath the surface of Hillary Clinton’s career reveals the empirical evidence of her historic support for aggressive interventions around the globe.

Beginning with Africa, Hillary defended the 1998 cruise missile strike on the El Shifa pharmaceutical plant in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, destroying the largest producer of cheap medications for treating malaria and tuberculosis and provided over 60% of available medicine in Sudan. In 2006 she supported sending United Nations troops to Darfur with logistical and technical support provided by NATO forces. Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi was outspoken in his condemnation of this intervention, claiming it was not committed out of concern for Sudanese people but “…for oil and for the return of colonialism to the African continent.”

This is the same leader who was murdered in the aftermath of the 2011 NATO bombing of Libya; an attack promoted and facilitated with the eager support of Mrs. Clinton. In an infamous CBS news interview, said regarding this international crime: “We came, we saw, he died.” As Time magazine pointed out in 2011, the administration understood removing Qaddafi from power would allow the terrorist cells active in Libya to run rampant in the vacuum left behind. Just last month the New York Times reported that Libya has indeed become a terrorist safe haven and failed state— conducive for exporting radicals through “ratlines” to the conflict against Assad in Syria.

Hillary made prompt use of the ratlines for conflicts in the Middle East. In the summer of 2012, Clinton privately worked with then CIA director and subversive bonapartist David Petraeus on a proposal for providing arms and training to death squads to be used to topple Syria just as in Libya. This proposal was ultimately struck down by Obama, reported the New York Times in 2013, but constituted one of the earliest attempts at open military support for the Syrian death squads.

Her voting record on intervening in Afghanistan and Iraq is well known and she also has consistently called for attacking Iran. She even told Fareed Zakaria the State Department was involved “behind the scenes” in Iran’s failed 2009 Green Revolution. More recently in Foreign Policy magazine David Rothkopf wrote on the subject of the Lausanne nuclear accord, predicting a “snap-back” in policy by the winner of the 2016 election to the foreign policy in place since the 1980s. The title of this article? “Hillary Clinton is the Real Iran Snap-Back.” This makes Hillary the prime suspect for a return to the madcap Iranian policies that routinely threaten the world with a World War 3 scenario.

Hillary Clinton is not only actively aggressing against Africa and the Middle East. She was one of the loudest proponents against her husband’s hesitancy over the bombing of Kosovo, telling Lucina Frank: “I urged him to bomb,” even if it was a unilateral action.

While no Clinton spokesperson responded to a request by the Washington Free Beacon regarding her stance on Ukraine, in paid speeches she mentioned “putting more financial support into the Ukrainian government”. When Crimea decided to choose the Russian Federation over Poroshenko’s proto-fascist rump state, Hillary anachronistically called President Putin’s actions like “what Hitler did in the ‘30s.” As a leader of the bumbled ”reset” policy towards Russia, Hillary undoubtedly harbors some animus against Putin and will continue the destabilization project ongoing in Ukraine.

Not content with engaging in debacles in Eastern Europe, she has vocally argued for a more aggressive response to what she called the “rollback of democratic development and economic openness in parts of Latin America.” This indicates her willingness to allow the continuation of CIA sponsored efforts at South American destabilization in the countries of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil.

It is one of the proud prerogatives of the Tax Wall Street Party to push out into the light the Wall Street and foundation-funded Democrats. The final blow to Hillary’s clumsy façade comes directly from arch-neocon Robert Kagan. Kagan worked as a foreign policy advisor to Hillary along with his wife, Ukraine madwoman Victoria Nuland, during Hillary’s term as Secretary of State. He claimed in the New York Times that his view of American foreign policy is best represented in the “mainstream” by the foreign policy of Hillary Clinton; a foreign policy he obviously manipulated or outright crafted. Kagan stated: “If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue…it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.” What further reason could any sane person need to refute Hillary? A vote for Hillary is a vote for the irrational return to war.

The “Giant Sucking Sound”: Clinton Gave US NAFTA and Other Free Trade Sellouts

“There is no success story for workers to be found in North America 20 years after NAFTA,” states AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. Unlike other failures of his Presidency, Bill Clinton can not run from NAFTA. It was Vice President Al Gore, not a veto-proof Republican congress, who lobbied to remove trade barriers with low-wage Mexico.

The record of free trade is clear. Multinational corporations and Wall Street speculators realize incredible profits, wages remain stagnant in the US, poverty persists in the developing world, and the remaining industrial corporations in America and Canada are increasingly owned by Chinese, Indian and other foreign interests.

America’s free trade policy is upside down. Besides Canada, Australia and Korea, most of our “free” trade partners are low-wage sweatshop paradises like Mexico, Chile, Panama, Guatemala, Bahrain and Oman. The US does in fact apply tariffs on most goods and on most nations of origin – rates are set by the US International Trade Commission (USTIC), a quasi-public federal agency: http://hts.usitc.gov/

Since a German- or Japanese-made automobile would under USITC’s schedule be taxed 10% upon importation, Volkswagen and Toyota can circumvent taxation by simply building their auto assembly plants for the US market in Mexico. In Detroit, an auto assembly worker is paid between $14 and $28/hour, ($29,120-$58,240/yr); hard work for modest pay. In Mexico, the rate varies from $2-5/hour.

In China, all automobile imports regardless of origin are tariffed as high as 25%. This allows the Chinese to attract joint ventures with Volkswagen and Toyota, and to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, “keep the jobs, the cars and the money.”

NAFTA-related job loss is not a question of productivity, currency manipulation, “fair trade,” environmental standards, etc. While these issues are not trivial, free trade – as Lincoln’s advisor Henry C. Carey proved – is a matter of simple accounting. Can an American family survive on $4,160/year ($2/hr)? If not, cars and their components will be built in Mexico. If we want cars built in the United States, the only solution is a general tariff (import tax) reflecting the difference between those wage standards, like the very tariffs repealed by Bill Clinton.

In the United States the “runaway shop” under NAFTA and CAFTA has sent trade deficits and unemployment soaring while wages drop relative to the cost of living. Yet Mexico and other “partners” receive no benefit either. Many manufacturing sectors in Mexico pay wages lower than the equivalent sector in China. Mexico is now the world leader in illegal narcotics exportation and weapons importation. The poverty level between 1994 and 2009 remained virtually identical. (52.4% – 52.3%). The shipping of raw materials to Mexico comprise the majority of so called American “exports”. The finished products from these exports are assembled and sold back to the United States at slave labor prices.

Don’t expect Hillary to behave differently with the coming “Trans-Pacific Partnership,” which seeks to replace an ascendant China with less-developed Vietnam and Malaysia. Vietnam would overtake India-allied Bangladesh in the global apparel trade, and Malaysia has a high-tech manufacturing sector poised to rival China’s. With America’s manufacturing economy in shambles, the Clinton machine can now be redirected to geopolitical maneuvers.

The Clintons Abolished Welfare c.1995. Their Record the Same

Thanks to Bill Clinton who abolished welfare in 1995, 50 million Americans were cast into the human outer darkness. In order to get himself re-elected Clinton “ended welfare as we know it”. Clinton destroyed Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC), which was one of the titles of the Social Security Act (SSA) of 1935 and replaced it with the shell of former self Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF. The 2016 GOP House Budget submission aims to finish off the project by ending TANF.

In September of 1995, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Chairman of the Senate Budget committee Pete Dominici of the Senate Budget Committee, and more than 154 Republican House member began to agitate for a Treasury default on the public debt of the United States. Such a default had never occurred in recorded history. Nevertheless, Gingrich and his fellow enthusiasts of the Conservative Revolution were threatening to use the need to raise the $4.9 billion on the public debt to force Clinton to accept a reconciliation bill that would include a capital gains tax plus savage cuts in Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and (in Title 4a, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, commonly known as welfare), farm support payments, student loans, and other entitlements.

As a result of this synthetic debt crisis described above, a draconian welfare reform bill was proposed by Representative Clay Shaw (R-Fla.), passed by Congress, and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. This reform came to be known as the Personal Responsibility and Opportunity Act and represented a direct frontal assault on the most vulnerable groups of the American population. But the secondary impact and medium-term potentials of this misbegotten law, also made it a sneak attack against the American middle class. In blunt terms, international finance capital appear to be preparing a reserve army of homeless, unemployed, destitute, with the intention of hurling them against the living standards of suburbia. Middle class voters who supported such a welfare reform because they had been blinded by their propaganda-stoked resentment against the inner-city and rural poor, might soon come to regret their own gullibility.

Peter Edelman was the former assistant secretary for planning evaluation at the US Department of Health and Human Services who resigned in protest in 1996 over what was then still the welfare bill. Edelman had been an advisor to Robert Kennedy in 1967, and was proud that he has spent 30 years trying to fight poverty in America, Edelman kept silent until after Clinton had been re-elected in 1996, but then spoke out in an article entitled “The Worst Thing Clinton Has Done,” which was published in the Atlantic Monthly. In the Edelman’s judgement, ‘the bill that President Clinton signed is not welfare reform. It does not promote work effectively, and it will hurt millions of poor children by the time it is fully implemented. What’s more, it bars hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants – including many who have worked in the United States for decades and paid a considerable amount in Social Security and income taxes – from receiving disability and old-age assistance and food stamps, and reduces food-stamp assistance for millions of children in working families.” The bill, he pointed out, was stigmatized by Senator Kennedy as “legislative child abuse.”

Edelman cited data from the Urban Institute showing that even under the unrealistically optimistic assumption that two thirds of long-term welfare recipients would find jobs, the current welfare law would move 2.6 million people, including 1.1 million children, into poverty. Further, the 1996 law reduced the incomes of 11 million low-income families, fully 10% of all the families in America. Of the families thus impacted, 8 million families with children would suffer losses of an average $1,300 per family as a result of food stamp cuts. Many working families slightly above the official federal poverty line of $12,158 for a family of three would lose income.
But these statistics turn out to understate this vast problem. The fact is that jobs were not available in sufficient numbers to accommodate the welfare recipients that were going to have their benefits terminated in 1999, when the welfare law’s draconian two-year limit on welfare payments to many current recipients would expire. This was the point stressed by the US Conference of Mayors in late November 1997, with a warning that unless there were increased investments in job-creation, transport, child care, and health coverage, huge numbers of Americans risked abject poverty in 1999. These were the conclusions of a 34-city survey commissioned by the mayors.

Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, the chairman of the mayors’ task force on the welfare-to-work issue, stated that “By the summer 1999, for the first time since the great depression, there will be large numbers of Americans in American cities without any subsidies at all, without any cash payments. We cannot let that happen,” Rendell pointed to a “serious mismatch” between the large numbers of welfare recipients seeking employment and jobs available to them. “Regardless of the training and child-care available, it is too much to expect that these numbers of welfare recipients are going to finds jobs in this market,” said Mayor Rendell. [Financial Times, November 22, 1997] One key problem was that inner city welfare victims had no cars and could not reach jobs at shopping malls and industrial parks in the suburbs given the lack of any serious urban mass transit system in many metropolitan areas where welfare was most common.

President Clinton failed the American people when he capitulated to the fascistic tendencies of Newt Gingrich and the profoundly reactionary proposals of the self styled conservative revolution. Clinton was a key part of the process of stripping away the economic rights of the American people. This was a direct assault on the New Deal and one of the most extreme assaults on the economic rights of the American people.

As Americans we each have the right to not to be destitute. A society of destitute people is on the way to a dictatorship. If Madame Clinton wants your vote she must be asked- What would you have done in order to stop ending welfare as we knew it? What advice did you give your husband in 1995 when he signed the Personal Responsibility and Opportunity Act?

1999: Bill Clinton Signed Abolition of Glass Steagall and Allowed Interstate Banking

Bill Clinton’s repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act—which dissolved the firewall between commercial and investment banks—clearly indicates that Hillary would only serve the interests of Wall Street if elected president. Glass-Steagall prohibited low-risk commercial banks that dealt in managing deposits and providing loans from engaging in predatory high-risk speculation. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, signed by Clinton in 1999, effectively nullified Glass-Steagall and opened up the savings and pensions of the working class for looting from parasitic bankers. Although this repeal was among a larger wave of Greenspan era deregulation that sowed the seeds for the 2008 crisis, it fundamentally altered the nature of banking by normalizing overly risky practices and therefore expanding the scope of the shadow banking cabal.

Moreover, it is near impossible to imagine Hillary reinstating Glass-Steagall considering that some of her biggest donors–most notably, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup–are the same financial madhouses that lobbied heavily in favor of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. In fact, according to the National Review, Hillary netted $400,000 from two speeches delivered at a conference hosted by Goldman Sachs in October of 2013. Hillary knows where her bread is buttered, which means there would no be no honest banking under another Clinton presidency. For the TWSP, the return of Glass-Steagall is only one of many regulations needed to tame the infinite greed of Wall Street vultures.

2000: Bill Clinton Legalized Derivatives

While the roots of our present crisis stretch back over many decades of free trade, privatization and shifts of power to the financial sector, no one act bears more blame for the 2008 financial panic and ongoing global turbulence than the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA) of 2000.

Following the repeal of Glass-Steagall and under continued pressure from Wall Street and reactionary senators like Phil Gramm, Clinton established the 1999 “President’s Working Group on Financial Markets,” chaired by Lawrence Summers, Alan Greenspan, Arthur Levitt and William Rainer. Summers’ and Greenspan’s reputations as Wall Street hatchet men precede them; Levitt went on to advise the Carlyle Group and Goldman Sachs; and Rainer – who replaced the courageous, ousted Commodity Futures Trading Corp. chair Brooksley Born – went on to found a derivatives exchange and several investment funds.

The CFMA proposed a series of “modernizations” (deregulations) of derivatives coinciding with the emergence of computerized “flash trading” capabilities that allowed Wall Street to steal untold billions from the productive sectors of the economy. Notoriously, it allowed for the creation and black-market trading of many synthetic derivatives, under the so-called “Enron Loophole.” Soon insurance companies, pension funds and other investors previously confined to stocks and bonds were involved in oil and food futures, credit default swaps, mortgage backed securities, and other forms of volatile speculation that wrecked many of these funds and led to the events of 2008.

In recent years, Bill Clinton has attempted to distance himself from the CFMA (“I think they were wrong and I was wrong”), claiming he and treasury secretary Larry Summers were misled by Alan Greenspan and that a veto-proof majority in Congress would have defeated his attempts at regulation anyway. Filmmaker Charles Ferguson, who interviewed Clinton for his film “Inside Job” chronicling deregulation and the 2008 crash, believes Clinton is simply lying.

Tellingly, Ferguson had to cancel a planned documentary on Hillary Clinton, presumably touching on similar themes, as he was unable to secure participation from neither Clinton’s friends nor enemies. “I also saw one reason why Hillary Clinton might not be thrilled about my movie,” Ferguson says. “In Arkansas, she joined the boards of Walmart and Tyson Foods. One of the largest donors to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation is the government of Saudi Arabia. The Clintons’ personal net worth now probably exceeds $200 million, and while earned legally, both the money’s sources and the Clintons’ public statements indicate a strong aversion to rocking boats or making powerful enemies.”

The Clinton Foundation receives millions from Wall Street banks, hedge funds, cartels and their related foundations. How can Hillary to have any independence on fighting Wall Street when her palms are greased by Barclays, Fidelity, Citibank, Duke Energy, ExxonMobil, George Soros’ Open Society Institute and countless other Wall Street tentacles? Even Chelsea Clinton’s own husband, Mark Mezvinsky, is a hedge fund operator currently trying to recoup millions in lost investments in Greece.

Simply put, whether Bill and Hillary Clinton have the intellectual power to have stopped derivatives, free trade, financial deregulation or any of a number of wars is immaterial. They have proved themselves to lack the moral courage required to bite the many hands that feed their political machine.

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© 2015, agentleman.

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A Gentleman’s View

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The Activist

 

It starts like an itch. Something happens in our lives that causes us to question what we know and our understanding of it. We open our eyes, our minds in order to seek the truth we can not see. The more we discover, the hungrier we are for a deeper reckoning. But the world isn’t perfect, humans less so, and there is a lot of pain, suffering and deception going on. We have the burning desire to do more to stop the pain. We read, a lot. We start protesting, questioning. Our families labels us as being too sensitive, too negative, our friends start to pull away, our families and spouses reject us and our way of thinking. We are labeled as hippies, anarchists, angry kids, conspiracy theorists and terrorists. We are beaten by the police and mocked for our caring by the media in the news. Yet we can’t help ourselves, we are the cursed liberals the world warns about, those town criers who have become obsessed with spreading the truth. It becomes a very solitary journey for many are not obligated to participate and you don’t get an invite to this way of life, you can’t train for it, you see wrong hurt and automatically step up as life calls upon you from somewhere within your soul and the rough ride stays with you until your last breath feeling that with all you gave it still wasn’t enough to stop the pain and wishing for one more moment to step and say; Hey, What The Fuck Are You Doing, Stop That! You can’t do that…

 

I’ve been homeless, I’ve had no money: everything. But I believe in magic, and having a vision. The tough times made me a warrior. I work hard to regard all our fellow humans as equal as part of my mission. It takes courage, strength and power to do that.

 
ASKING NOT WHAT OUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR US, BUT WHAT WE CAN DO FOR OUR COUNTRY!

AGENTLEMAN

 

We are not against Capitalism and profit, but against its potential for abuse.

We are not against any religion, but against its manipulative use as a political weapon.

We are not against democracy, but declarations of not being patriotic when we disagree.

We are not against the democratic process unless the corporate world uses it against us.

We are not against the American Dream, but tired of being excluded from it.

We are not against those who have obtained wealth, but against those who would keep us from joining them.

We are not against defending this most grand country of ours, but the use of our military for corporate interests and most assuredly, against private armies.

We are not against national defense, we’re against spending on weapons of destruction, when our children need education, our infrastructure is falling apart and the quality of life in America deteriorates.

We are not against our beautiful America, but against the lost of the American ideal and dream that other countries in existence much longer have yet to achieve.

We are not against a strong America, we don’t believe that it can exist without respect for all who are American.

We are not against anyone making profits, but against making profits at the expense of and the detriment to, the health and well-being of American families no matter the composition.

We are not weak. We are not traitors. We are not unpatriotic. We are not elitist.

We are Democrats by way of the political process by choice.

We are proudly Liberals because we were taught caring for each other is an American ideal.

We are fiercely Progressive not for those came before, but all of those in the future yet to come this way.

This is our America as well and we will fight just as fiercely because we love America too!

 

 

© 2014 – 2015, agentleman.

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Written by agentleman

June 13th, 2014 at 8:28 am

If children live, they learn

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Reposted From FaceBook post by Molly Swipas.

Teach them well and let them learn:

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

© 2010 – 2015, agentleman.

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September 18th, 2010 at 12:48 pm

2016: FEAR IS THE KEY TO THE FUTURE!

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Marco Rubio’s Deranged Religion, Ted Cruz’s Bizarre Faith: Our Would-Be Presidents Are God-Fearing Clowns

Rand Paul, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton all spout pious religious lies. We must grill them on what they really mean.
By Jeffrey Tayler

 

 

Aspirants to the White House, both Democratic and Republican, have, as we all know, begun “announcing,” thus initiating, from a rationalist’s point of view, a media carnival featuring, on both sides, an array of supposedly God-fearing clowns and faith-mongering nitwits groveling before Evangelicals and nattering on about their belief in the Almighty and their certainty that if we just looked, we could find answers to many of our ills in the Good Book.

The candidates will cloak their true agendas – serving the Lords of Wall Street far more zealously than Our Father who art (or really, art not) in heaven – in pious patter about “values,” about the need to “restore America” and return us to the state of divinely granted exceptionalism President Obama has so gravely squandered. This Season of Unreason will end with the elections of November 2016, but its consequences – validation of the idea that belief without evidence is a virtue, that religion, and especially Christianity, deserves a place in our politics, our Constitutionally enshrined secularism notwithstanding – will live on and damage the progressive cause.

But it does not have to be this way.

There will almost certainly be no (declared) atheist or even agnostic among the candidates. This is scandalous, given the electorate’s gradual, relentless ditching of religion. A survey just out shows that 7.5 million Americans have abandoned their faith since 2012, the year of the Pew Research Center poll that established that one out of five have no religious affiliation. Nonbelief is trending, and among a sizable, growing demographic.

Professing belief in a fictitious celestial deity says a lot about the content of a person’s character, and what sort of policies he or she would likely favor. So, we should take a look at those who have announced so far, and what sort of religious views they hold. Let’s start with the Republicans. Rand Paul, the eye-surgeon senator from Kentucky, is officially a “devout” Christian, but he has subtly hinted that he really does not believe. He finds it tough to see “God’s hand” in the suffering he encounters as a doctor, citing an example any New Atheist could have chosen to dispel the notion that a benevolent deity watches over humanity: “small children dying from brain tumors.” This gives Paul to wonder if one needs to be “saved more than once,” which implies his faith has failed him at times. Nevertheless, he says, he always does “come back” to Jesus. He closed his announcement speech asking for “God’s help” in getting elected. Whether he meant it, we don’t really know.

With the dapper Florida Sen. Marco Rubio we move into the more disturbing category of Republicans we might charitably diagnose as “faith-deranged” – in other words, as likely to do fine among the unwashed “crazies” in the red-state primaries, but whose religious beliefs would (or should) render them unfit for civilized company anywhere else.

Among the faith-deranged, Rubio stands out. He briefly dumped one magic book for another, converting from Roman Catholicism to Mormonism and then back again. (Reporters take note: This is faith-fueled flip-flopping, which surely indicates a damning character flaw to be investigated. Flip-flopping of a different sort helped sink John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid.) Yet even as a re-minted Catholic, Rubio cheats on the Pope with a megachurch in Miami called Christ Fellowship. As religion and politics blogger Bruce Wilson points out, Christ Fellowship is a hotbed of “demonology and exorcism, Young Earth creationism, and denial of evolution,” and is so intolerant it demands its prospective employees certify they are not “practicing homosexuals” and don’t cheat on their spouses. (Check out its manifesto under “About Us – What We Believe.”) As regards evolution, Rubio confesses that he’s “not a scientist” and so cannot presume to judge the fact of evolution on its merits, and holds that creationism should be taught in schools as just one of many “multiple theories” about our origins.

Though he magnanimously acknowledges that atheists “have a right to not believe in God,” Rubio has called the Almighty the “source of all we have,” and, worse, stated that “our national motto is ‘In God We Trust,’” which reminds us that “faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all.” According to this logic, atheists are not fully “American.” Rubio also believes “You cannot do anything without God,” which he terms “a profound and elemental truth.” Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist known for, among other things, his far more profound and elemental accomplishments in melding the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, and, most recently, for publicly declaring his atheism, would beg to differ. It’s a safe bet, in fact, that most scientists have a better grasp on the vital verities than anyone rummaging around in Rubio’s beloved “sacred” tome of far-fetched fiction and foolish figments.

Yet of the Republicans, the most flagrant irrationalist is clearly Texas junior Sen. Ted Cruz. For starters, Cruz pandered fulsomely to the faith-deranged by choosing to announce at Liberty University, that bastion of darkness located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Once administered by the late Jerry Falwell, Liberty promises a “World Class Christian education” and boasts that it has been “training champions for Christ since 1971” – grounds enough, in my view, to revoke the institution’s charter and subject it to immediate quarantine until sanity breaks out.

Allow me a brief yet significant digression. One wonders, in Cruz’s case, if the malady of faith isn’t acquired, but transmitted genetically. In 2013, his father, Rafael, an Evangelical pastor, spoke at a Second Amendment advocacy meeting in Oklahoma. He declared atheism amounts to a lack of moral absolutes. Hence, “If there’s no god,” then no moral absolutes can exist, “and you can change the rules.” This “leads us to sexual immorality, leads us to sexual abuse, leads us to perversion, and of course, no hope!” At least one of Ted Cruz’s own direr musings — that gays are waging a ”jihad . . . in Indiana and Arkansas, and going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman” — prompt the question: if Cruz is elected, will he classify homosexuality as terrorism and dispatch gay “jihadis” to Guantanamo?

During his 31-minute announcement address, Cruz recounts how his once-truant dad found Jesus and returned home. Otherwise, peppering his talk with references to God, Cruz informs us he will restore a United States brought low under Obama’s maleficent rein by uniting “millions of courageous conservatives” who will rise up “together to say in unison ‘we demand our liberty!’” From whom, exactly? He doesn’t say.

Cruz’s platform comes as no surprise. He wants to do many odious things, including protecting Hobby Lobby (the baneful Supreme Court decision that birthed a plethora of Religious Freedom Acts such as the one in Indiana and saving the (reactionary, contraceptive-denying) Little Sisters of the Poor. He also, of course, aims to “uphold the sacrament of marriage” (no parsing necessary). All this will come not from “Washington. It will come only from the men and women across this country . . . from people of faith, from lovers of liberty, from people who respect the Constitution” (except, of course, the parts of it that keep religion out of the affairs of state).
The sole Republican candidate unbound by religion’s “mind-forged manacles” appears to be the little-known Mark Everson, a native New Yorker who served as George W. Bush’s IRS commissioner. A dank, stygian gloom overhangs his campaign, however; he doesn’t even mention the Lord in his site’s “Letter to America.” He has thereby doomed himself among the faith-deranged. He gets next to no press.

And what of the (so far) sole Democratic contender for the White House? Hillary Clinton has announced, of course, by Twitter and a video, the first part of which was so bland I kept waiting for the tiny clickable SKIP THIS AD box to appear in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. The diversity of characters her clip features bodes well, though, for the faith-averse; she could not get away with ranting about the Bible unless she wanted to alienate such folk.

Yet Hillary does believe. Not only that, she claims to have grown up in a family elbow-to-elbow with none other than the Almighty: “We talked with God, ate, studied, and argued with God.”

Reporters, to verify her truthfulness, might ask her to be more specific: what type of cuisine did God prefer? Did God use Cliff Notes while hitting the books with you? How was God in a debate? Did he, being God, simply smite with thunderbolts those he disagreed with? If she replies that she didn’t mean to be taken so literally, then what exactly constituted evidence of the Almighty’s presence in her home? Did she actually hear a voice respond as she prayed? Did she have visions? If so, did she consult a psychiatrist? Which was more likely – that she was rooming with God or that she was suffering some sort of protracted, especially vivid mental disturbance? There are meds for that.

The virtual corollary to Hillary’s belief: her “Faith Voters for Hillary” website, which axiomatically tells us her “faith is deeply personal and real.” Sadly, we have no evidence to the contrary.

Hillary aside, with the ex-pastor Mike Huckabee and the Roman Catholic Jeb Bush (both inclined to wear their faith on their sleeve), rationalists can contemplate a depressing, even infuriating, 19-month run-up to the election. Reporters should do their job and not allow any of these potential commanders-in-chief to get away with God talk without making them answer for it, as impolite as that might be. Religious convictions deserve the same scrutiny any other convictions get, or more. After all, they are essentially wide-ranging assertions about the nature of reality and supernatural phenomena. As always, the burden of proof lies on the one making extraordinary claims. And if the man or woman carrying the nuclear briefcase happens to be eagerly desiring the End of Days, we need to know.

Here are some questions journalists might ask the candidates. They might begin with a preamble, though. As a Christian, you believe the Bible is, as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 proclaims, the word of God, “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” You accept the New Testament, of course, which includes Matthew 5:18’s pronouncement that every last bit of the Bible shall be implemented, including the Old Testament, which enjoins the death penalty for all manner of often minor infractions and approves of behavior that, to put it kindly, is no longer acceptable (at least outside ISIS-occupied territory).

So, if you accept the Bible in its totality, do you think sex workers should be burned alive (Leviticus 21:9) or that gays should be put to death (Leviticus 20:13)? Should women submit to their husbands, per Colossians 3:18? Should women also, as commands 1 Timothy 2:11, study “in silence with full submission?” Would you adhere to Deuteronomy 20:10-14 and ask Congress to pass a law punishing rapists by fining them 50 shekels and making them marry their victims and forbidding them to divorce forever? Given that the Bible ordains genocide (as in 1 Samuel 15:3:), will you work for the release of Athanase Seromba, the Catholic priest imprisoned for his role in the mass Rwandan slaughter of 1994? Will you call on Congress to repeal the Thirteenth Amendment and reinstate slavery, since the Bible, in 1 Peter 2:18, de facto sanctions the horrific practice and demands that slaves submit to their “masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel?” Please clarify.

Ted Cruz, will you denounce your father for calling atheists, groundlessly, sexual abusers and perverts?

Marco Rubio, please explain how your membership in the fanatical homophobic cult of Christ Fellowship has influenced you? How much demonology do you believe? Has the Fellowship conducted any exorcisms lately? If so, have you taken part? Has the “the power of Christ” ever “compelled you?” If yes, please elaborate.
If any of the candidates have boned up on their Reza Aslan and laugh off your questions, telling you they don’t take the Bible literally, you might ask what scriptural authority they can cite that permits them to disavow some parts of their holy book but accept others. Answer: there is none.

And you, Mark Everson, if you are indeed an atheist, will you come out of the closet about it? Will you utter that vilest of stock phrases “God bless America!” to close speeches, thereby lending undue credence to the nonsense notion that an invisible tyrant rules us from on high?

Atheists can dream. They can dream of a candidate (and future president) who will, one day, say “I do not believe in God. I do not believe in a hereafter. I believe we have one life on our precious planet, which floats amid a cosmic void of unfathomable dimensions governed by the unyielding laws of physics. I will follow reason and promote consensus-based policies that will do the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people. I will work to build up Jefferson’s wall of separation between church and state. Secularism and reason offer us the only way out of our dilemmas. We have to grow up and realize that, barring interference from forces of nature beyond our control, everything we humans achieve, or fail to achieve, depends on us. There is no hope, save in ourselves.”

We need a president who will acknowledge that. And we should settle for nothing less.

Jeffrey Tayler

 

 

 

© 2015, agentleman.

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April 26th, 2015 at 9:34 am

Genius

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30 Albert Einstein Quotes That Will Open Your Mind

BY STEVEN BANCARZ

 
This article was inspired by 2spare.com| Albert Einstein was a theoretical physicist who had a huge impact on science after developing his theory of general relativity and special relativity. After winning the Nobel Prize in 1921, Einstein solidified himself as one of the most influential figures in the history of science.
But just as much as he was known for his scientific accomplishments, he was also known for his wisdom, his wit, his insight, and his life philosophies. He well-rounded brilliance has left its mark on humanity, and to this day his quotes are some of the most inspiring, mind-opening, and encouraging of all time. Not to mention, he has a great sense of humour.
Here are 30 Albert Einstein quotes that will open your mind and make your day:

 

1. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
2. “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”
3. “I, at any rate, am convinced that He (God) does not throw dice.”
4. “The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
5. “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
6. “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
7. “Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do— but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it.”
8. “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
9. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
10. “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value”

11. “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”
12. “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.”
13. “Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.”
14. “Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.”
15. “Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But I do not doubt that the lion belongs to it even though he cannot at once reveal himself because of his enormous size.”
16. “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
17. “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
18. “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”
19. “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”
20. “I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”

21. “Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics, I can assure you that mine are all greater”
22. “In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep.”
23. “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.”
24. “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
25. “Truth is what stands the test of experience.”
26. “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”
27. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
28. “Human knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life. Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth.”
29. “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”
30. “Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down by the mind before you reach eighteen.”

 

There are many many other quotes that could have made this list. He is truly one of the most brilliant minds our world has seen.
We are currently working on a new social platform that is being built called ‘The Conscious Forum‘ to provide the best place online for open-minded people to discuss, engage, and connect with one another in a way never offered before. To learn more, click the photo below:

 

 

 

© 2015, agentleman.

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Written by agentleman

April 25th, 2015 at 8:24 am

They Were Just Black Women

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Documentary Blows Open Serial Killer’s 25-Year Spree of Killing Black Women and Shocking Lack of Interest in Catching Him

Filmmaker Nick Broomfield discusses ‘Tales of the Grim Sleeper’ and a society that treats poor black women as “disposable people.”
By Kali Holloway

 
By the mid-1980s, the Los Angeles Police Department knew there was a prolific serial killer operating in the South Central section of the city. His victims, like most of the residents of the area, were overwhelmingly African American and poor. All were women; many worked as prostitutes, often to fund drug addictions. In 1988, when the death toll was nearly 20 bodies deep, a single survivor lived to tell police key information indispensable to any murder investigation: the type of car the killer drove, the block he lived on, identifying features for an eyewitness sketch. A .25 caliber bullet was recovered from the victim’s chest, linking her attack to the murders of at least eight other women from the same area. But police, in a pattern that becomes maddeningly and infuriatingly familiar over the course of Nick Broomfield’s documentary Tales of the Grim Sleeper, chose to do nothing with that information. They failed to undertake even the most basic requirement for ensuring public safety: alerting residents of South Central Los Angeles that a serial murderer was killing, and very likely living, amongst them.

Broomfield’s documentary is filled with revelations such as these, insights that demonstrate how Los Angeles police’s indifference to—and barely concealed contempt for—its poorest, most marginalized citizens allowed Grim Sleeper killer suspect Lonnie Franklin Jr. to murder dozens of African-American women over 25 years. Nana Gyamfi, a lawyer involved with the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders, a grassroots South Central organization that sprang up in the ‘80s in the absence of political will to find the killer, compared the LAPD’s withholding of key evidence from the public to “allow[ing] black women to walk around…where someone is hunting them, not knowing they’re being hunted.” Pam Brooks, a former prostitute who, by default, becomes a key investigator in Broomfield’s fact-finding mission, speaks even more bluntly about how the case demonstrates the devaluation of poor black women’s lives. “The police don’t care because these are black women…I’m a black woman. Who gives a fuck about me?”

Tales of the Grim Sleeper is ostensibly a story about alleged serial killer Franklin, but at its heart, Broomfield’s latest effort is a damning indictment of a criminal justice system that rarely recognizes black lives matter. Lonnie Franklin Jr. was finally arrested on July 7, 2010, more than a quarter of a century after the killings began. He is charged with 10 counts of murder and one attempted murder, though the actual number of victims is suspected to run as high as 100. Franklin’s trial, at long last, is set to begin this summer.

I spoke recently to Nick Broomfield ahead of his timely and necessary documentary’s premiere on HBO on April 27. The director offered insights on making the movie, lessons learned, and how the film might play a role in helping our terribly broken system of criminal justice begin to mend.
Kali Holloway: I’ve seen a lot of your films and this one, in particular, was a real punch in the gut. It’s just an incredible piece.

Nick Broomfield: Thank you so much.

KH: I’m wondering, how did you first learn about the story, and what made you decide to look into it and dedicate a film to it?

NB: Well, I’ve lived in Los Angeles, one way or another, for a long time. It’s a very difficult city to get to know because it’s a subdivided city.

KH: You mean socioeconomically?

NB: Well, yeah. You just get the feeling you don’t go into much of the city and the bigger part of the city is almost [all] Latino and black. [White residents] actually just tread a very narrow path, which is pretty much the white areas of town.

The city is not at all recovered from those racial laws of the ‘50s and stuff. It’s pretty much still very segregated. It’s much more racially segregated, for example, than places in England. And I’ve always found it a real challenge to try and get to know L.A. and understand L.A.

And I obviously got to know it a bit when I was doing [the 2002 documentary] Biggie & Tupac. Because I tried understanding Compton. And I remember at the time thinking how incredibly hospitable the people were and actually how pleased they were that we were down there and we were interested in hearing their point of view. Plus, I actually really loved some of the food there.
But anyway – and then I came across this series of articles that a journalist called Christine Pelisek had written in the LA Weekly,as well as a very good Newsweek piece about the Lonnie Franklin murders. And it got me interested and I spent some time going [to South Central L.A.]. I met with Christine because I felt that the biggest story really is, obviously, this inherent racism that enabled this whole situation to happen.

KH: Absolutely.

NB: No real reporting of it in the newspapers. It wasn’t regarded as really properly newsworthy. No political pressure on the police to solve the murders because no one really cared.

I think it’s very easy to blame the police. But the police [are] representative of a bigger political system. They’re just doing what they’re told and what they feel they need to do. And what they feel they need to do is to protect the white areas of the city, and they don’t feel any great responsibility to places like South Central. And I think that’s coming from a political system. And until there’s legislation that goes through Congress that really changes—that’s very clear about what a police [force] is supposed to do, and there are repercussions for policemen who obviously don’t do what they’re supposed to do, nothing really is going to change. I think that’s what so clearly came out of the story for me.

So, I just felt that it was a story that dealt with the zeitgeist of the moment, which is that we are at such a crossroad in terms of trying to find some kind of real political program that moves something. It’s not just about replacing the business manager in Ferguson and chief of police and the judge. Because Ferguson is pretty much the same as Los Angeles, and Los Angeles is the same as South Carolina and all these other places. I hope the debate will be what kind of legislation do we need to pass on a federal level that will actually bring in a different system. This isn’t just the Lonnie Franklin story, or all the other stories that we see in the newspapers all the time. It’s representative of a much bigger political system. So I want that to be one of the debates that comes out of it.

KH: I was going to ask you if that was what you wanted the takeaway to be when you entered the process of making the film, and if you hoped that it would launch a bigger dialogue. Obviously, there’s a huge national conversation happening right now around policing in black communities. I’m not sure if that conversation was already in motion when you started shooting.

NB: No, I think this was pre-Ferguson, really. I was obviously really surprised at the extent of the racism, basically. And the lack of—I mean, I was completely shocked. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. So when I eventually went into the community and people said, oh, the police were involved. The police knew and they didn’t do anything. I was kind of, oh yeah, sure. But the longer I spent there, the more I saw. It was like, anytime you saw the police in South Central It was handing out speeding tickets or stopping people for having a faulty rear light and things and handing out tickets. Absolutely in the mold that you then heard about with Ferguson.

KH: Right.

NB: I didn’t know that when I was starting the film. But I realized that it’s just part of a national pattern. It’s not particular to the LAPD.

KH: Can we…talk about NHI and “No Human Involved”? Because it’s a policy that I only became familiar with really recently and people probably won’t know what it is. Can you discuss what it is and the implications of it?
NB: There is a police slang term that, when the police call in a homicide, for example, they would say “NHI,” [meaning] “no human involved.” Which [means] don’t really bother with proper forensics. He’s a John Doe or Jane Doe. It’s a homeless person, a drug addict, prostitute, gang member, we don’t really care. We probably don’t expect to find the person responsible. Just book it in. But don’t spend a lot of time on it.

That’s kind of what it means. It’s used for disposable people. People who aren’t worthy of a proper inquiry. And again, disposable people, people who obviously aren’t represented, aren’t considered part of the political process, have no employment. They don’t count.

KH: So it fits into this whole bigger picture of a marginalized community where people are completely disregarded and their lives devalued.

NB: I think it does happen in poor white communities, too. But it’s particularly bad in the black communities. Or it’s much more widespread.

KH: When you were talking before, and trying to put this into the bigger context of what’s problematic about the way the policing happens in… poor and black communities, you’d said it’s easy to blame the police. And obviously, this problem has much bigger political and sociopolitical implications. But in this case, it was astounding to me to watch, step by step, the kind of things that the police didn’t do. The kind of information that they didn’t release. At a certain point, the police almost seemed obstructionist in this case.

NB: I think when [Lonnie Franklin’s son] Christopher said that [his father] had a sort of fan base among cops—well, I think that’s kind of it it. Which is, “These people are disposable.” It’s like that NHI problem.

KH: This is something I wanted to ask you about—if you thought that what Christopher said was true. That that attitude on the part of the cops was part of the problem.

NB: They just feel these people are taking their time up. They’re constantly re-arresting the same people week in, week out. They’re in prison, they’re out of prison. They’re not contributing anything to the city. They’re a drain on resources. And they’re better out of the way. That’s the pretty common attitude. And I think it’s not a priority.

We’re talking about an area of the city which really has no political representative that’s of any clout. There’s [Representative] Maxine Waters who tries very hard. But most of the other political representatives are not funded by South Central. They might have come from South Central. People like Herb Wesson, president of the [Los Angeles City] Council. They come from South Central but they don’t seem to be in any way serving South Central.

They’re serving probably the police union—they’re probably getting more money from them. So it goes to the heart of a political system that simply does not work in terms of representing so many of these communities. Because politically, they are highly disorganized and ruptured. They don’t have a functioning political caucus that is representing their needs and their demands and their citizens. You realize that, yeah, okay, the police have done a shitty job and the police don’t care. And the police regard them as disposable people. And all of this is because they just don’t register in the political system. They don’t have the finances or the organization to have a voice.
And part of that disposableness is the community is essentially disposable. It doesn’t have any political weight. Even though there are not a lot of people there. No one really hears what they’ve got to say. No one’s there to get what they want. And I think that’s really how politics work, isn’t it? If you’ve got a powerful political base, you’ve got powerful people pushing for you. That’s when there’s some change. That’s how it operates.

KH: Sure.

NB: There’s still a crack problem in South Central which has never been treated in a proper [way]. Even though there’s overwhelming evidence that the crack came in with Oliver North during that whole Nicaraguan thing. It’s still treated as though that’s an individual problem. If you’re on crack in South Central, you failed in some way. It’s not regarded as, actually this is a community that has an enormous problem. There’s no responsibility taken for how it got there in the first place. And then because of the drug laws and so on, you don’t see many younger people because most of them are in prison for crack possession or whatever.

It’s just sort of a vicious circle from that point on. For me, this was a learning experience. I had no idea that there was this completely vicious system in effect that made it incredibly difficult for people to get on with their lives and have fulfilling lives and have fulfilling careers. Because everything is stacked against them in so many ways. I think those are some of the things I didn’t realize in such a clear way.

KH: You hear a lot of people in the movie say things like, “What if victim number three had been blonde-haired and blue-eyed?” Or, when you’re talking to the surviving victim, whose account was essentially ignored because she was called “unreliable,” she jokingly said, “Every black woman is a hooker. Didn’t you know that?” And then a British paper, the Daily Mail, in 2012 did this piece about the fact that there are 64,000 missing black women in America. And very, very few of those cases have gotten any national press attention. Few of them have even gotten attention in their local towns.

So, I just wonder how making this film, for you, informed your idea of how we as a country regard—or disregard—black women.

NB: Yeah. It really is a form of almost mini-genocide. And you would expect the justice system to operate in an impartial manner and to care. But I think this has just been gone on for so long. So long. That people are just not regarded as being politically weighty. Unrepresented. A police force that’s probably overworked. Sees themselves as serving other priorities. They make a choice as to what cases they’re going to follow on and what cases they feel they need to get results on. And these are simply not cases that anyone cares about.

So, yes. These are disposable human beings. These are NHI. But I do think it goes back to Congress really. And the major political parties. Because I think the lead has to come from them. And there needs to be legislation that will make it very clear that the police need to investigate these things. They need to be responsible for their actions in a way that they aren’t at the moment.

KH: And your hopefulness of seeing that happen?

NB: Well, I think there is a growing movement at the moment. And I think Ferguson has been incredibly useful in providing a touchstone for that. And I think more and more people are aware of the fact that this is a national problem. It’s not just a Ferguson problem. And it’s not really just a police problem. This is a political problem.

Obviously, a political problem that goes back probably to slavery and having legislation that reflects properly that there isn’t in fact slavery anymore and everybody has been given an equal chance, equal education. It really goes back to those things. In fact, Nana Gyamfi, the lawyer—

KH: Who’s one of my favorite people in the movie, by the way.

NB: Yeah.

KH: She says so many incredible things.

NB: I think she’s so incredible.

KH: Yeah, absolutely.

NB: She gives this amazing course at [the California Institute of Technology] which is basically about the judicial system and the way in which it, from the end of slavery, has just basically found ways of incarcerating black people. And marginalizing them politically. It’s an incredible course. And you realize obviously the drug laws are just part of that.

And you see the direct results of what she’s talking about in South Central. This is a marginalized community which is politically unrepresented. So many of the people there are disenfranchised. They can’t vote, even if they want to.

KH: Yeah, It’s interesting because you mention early on in the film that a third of the men in the community have felonious counts against them. Which obviously means that there’s a lot of opportunities that are closed to them. So, at the same time the community is under-policed in terms of the police not taking care of the people there, it’s hyper-policed in this other way.

NB: And they just think, we don’t have to take care. It enables the police to behave the way they’re behaving. I’m sure it’s, of course, exactly the same in Ferguson and all over the place.

KH: And then I wonder—and there’s no way you can really know this—but having spoken to many people who actually had relationships with Lonnie…do you think [he] saw himself as someone who was cleaning up the streets? Obviously, he is a complex personality.

NB: I do. I think in his own demented way [he did]. He saw himself as very much a pillar of the community. Somebody who gave people jobs, who was a generous person, who was well liked, who liked his neighbors, who was operating from the best possible position, I think. You know, he still has not admitted to the crimes.

There’s a psychologist who goes in and sees him every week; a couple of times a week. And he not only likes him very much but sees him as somebody who’s a caring citizen and who certainly saw himself as a pillar of that community. And cared very much for the community. And he’s very hurt and offended by what people have said about him.

KH: Wow. And are there any new updates since the film was made?

NB: Not really. I think there’s a day that’s been set for the end of June. I was surprised to hear that Lonnie is still denying everything and sees himself as being wrongly imprisoned and somebody who really believes he did a lot to the community. Just little things like that really.

KH: Obviously, we’re talking about this in the greater context of what’s happening right now and the dialogue around policing in black communities and that relationship and how fraught it is. And there’s the Black Lives Matter movement happening right now—and there is pushback on that movement. A lot of people are saying, let’s have a conversation about this, let’s try to move the needle on it, let’s try and create legislation that actually holds police accountable and that holds an entire political system accountable.

There’s also pushback from people who say this isn’t a racialized thing. Or when they see Black Lives Matter, their response is, it should actually be AllLives Matter.

I wonder if you could just speak to that and why something like the Black Lives Matter movement, and the encapsulation of the movement in those words, would be important. Just based on what you’ve seen in this case and the wider implications that it holds.

NB: Well, even today, talking to a couple of the journalists who are probably more informed than most people who live in Los Angeles, they say, “We were completely unaware of really what the conditions are like in South Central Los Angeles. We never, never go down there.”

There were a lot of revelations in the film for us that we were unaware of. We were unaware of this attitude of NHI on the part of the police. We were unaware of the deliberate withholding of information from the community that there [was] this mass killing going on. We were unaware of all that. We’re unaware of it because there’s very little communication between the white and black communities in this city. There is a complete division. And that’s why, I think, if most [white] people were really aware of what Black Lives Matter is about, it’s about a different world to the one they’d experienced. Most [white] people here have such a sheltered, separate existence that they just don’t know what, I think, black communities are up against. It’s a whole other world. And it’s a different police force than the one they encounter. With different opportunities. Not just on an economic level, but on a political level and a health level. I mean, the obesity rates. The terrible hospitals. The malnutrition. All those kinds of things that you get in [poor] communities. It’s like a different world which might be just 10 miles from where a white person lives. But it’s a whole different life expectation.

And that’s why I think you get those kinds of comments. “All Lives Matter”—well, of course all lives matter. But it’s because they don’t really understand the differences.

KH: It’s been great talking to you. I think Tales of the Grim Sleeper could be catalytic in some way. It’s definitely an amazing contribution to a conversation that’s ongoing.

NB: Well, I would like this film to get come kind of dialogue going between the people who run the city, like the mayor [Eric] Garcetti; Herb Wesson, president of the [City] Council; the police chief, Charlie Beck. I’ve pushed very hard to get that dialogue going. They’ve all been approached to do a screening. Initially, they all said they’d do it and yet again they’ve backed away from engaging in some kind of meaningful dialogue with the people of South Central. People like Black Coalition [Fighting Back Serial Murders] and so on.

And I’m very disappointed that they have been so unforthcoming so far. And I would like them to change their attitude and to find the time to actually engage in a meaningful dialogue with that community. And I think they owe it to them.

 

 

© 2015, agentleman.

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Written by agentleman

April 24th, 2015 at 6:21 am

God’s Minion’s As President

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Marco Rubio’s Deranged Religion, Ted Cruz’s Bizarre Faith: Our Would-Be Presidents Are God-Fearing Clowns

Rand Paul, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton all spout pious religious lies. We must grill them on what they really mean.
By Jeffrey Tayler

 

 

Aspirants to the White House, both Democratic and Republican, have, as we all know, begun “announcing,” thus initiating, from a rationalist’s point of view, a media carnival featuring, on both sides, an array of supposedly God-fearing clowns and faith-mongering nitwits groveling before Evangelicals and nattering on about their belief in the Almighty and their certainty that if we just looked, we could find answers to many of our ills in the Good Book.

The candidates will cloak their true agendas – serving the Lords of Wall Street far more zealously than Our Father who art (or really, art not) in heaven – in pious patter about “values,” about the need to “restore America” and return us to the state of divinely granted exceptionalism President Obama has so gravely squandered. This Season of Unreason will end with the elections of November 2016, but its consequences – validation of the idea that belief without evidence is a virtue, that religion, and especially Christianity, deserves a place in our politics, our Constitutionally enshrined secularism notwithstanding – will live on and damage the progressive cause.

But it does not have to be this way.

There will almost certainly be no (declared) atheist or even agnostic among the candidates. This is scandalous, given the electorate’s gradual, relentless ditching of religion. A survey just out shows that 7.5 million Americans have abandoned their faith since 2012, the year of the Pew Research Center poll that established that one out of five have no religious affiliation. Nonbelief is trending, and among a sizable, growing demographic.

Professing belief in a fictitious celestial deity says a lot about the content of a person’s character, and what sort of policies he or she would likely favor. So, we should take a look at those who have announced so far, and what sort of religious views they hold. Let’s start with the Republicans. Rand Paul, the eye-surgeon senator from Kentucky, is officially a “devout” Christian, but he has subtly hinted that he really does not believe. He finds it tough to see “God’s hand” in the suffering he encounters as a doctor, citing an example any New Atheist could have chosen to dispel the notion that a benevolent deity watches over humanity: “small children dying from brain tumors.” This gives Paul to wonder if one needs to be “saved more than once,” which implies his faith has failed him at times. Nevertheless, he says, he always does “come back” to Jesus. He closed his announcement speech asking for “God’s help” in getting elected. Whether he meant it, we don’t really know.

With the dapper Florida Sen. Marco Rubio we move into the more disturbing category of Republicans we might charitably diagnose as “faith-deranged” – in other words, as likely to do fine among the unwashed “crazies” in the red-state primaries, but whose religious beliefs would (or should) render them unfit for civilized company anywhere else.

Among the faith-deranged, Rubio stands out. He briefly dumped one magic book for another, converting from Roman Catholicism to Mormonism and then back again. (Reporters take note: This is faith-fueled flip-flopping, which surely indicates a damning character flaw to be investigated. Flip-flopping of a different sort helped sink John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid.) Yet even as a re-minted Catholic, Rubio cheats on the Pope with a megachurch in Miami called Christ Fellowship. As religion and politics blogger Bruce Wilson points out, Christ Fellowship is a hotbed of “demonology and exorcism, Young Earth creationism, and denial of evolution,” and is so intolerant it demands its prospective employees certify they are not “practicing homosexuals” and don’t cheat on their spouses. (Check out its manifesto under “About Us – What We Believe.”) As regards evolution, Rubio confesses that he’s “not a scientist” and so cannot presume to judge the fact of evolution on its merits, and holds that creationism should be taught in schools as just one of many “multiple theories” about our origins.

Though he magnanimously acknowledges that atheists “have a right to not believe in God,” Rubio has called the Almighty the “source of all we have,” and, worse, stated that “our national motto is ‘In God We Trust,’” which reminds us that “faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all.” According to this logic, atheists are not fully “American.” Rubio also believes “You cannot do anything without God,” which he terms “a profound and elemental truth.” Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist known for, among other things, his far more profound and elemental accomplishments in melding the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, and, most recently, for publicly declaring his atheism, would beg to differ. It’s a safe bet, in fact, that most scientists have a better grasp on the vital verities than anyone rummaging around in Rubio’s beloved “sacred” tome of far-fetched fiction and foolish figments.

Yet of the Republicans, the most flagrant irrationalist is clearly Texas junior Sen. Ted Cruz. For starters, Cruz pandered fulsomely to the faith-deranged by choosing to announce at Liberty University, that bastion of darkness located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Once administered by the late Jerry Falwell, Liberty promises a “World Class Christian education” and boasts that it has been “training champions for Christ since 1971” – grounds enough, in my view, to revoke the institution’s charter and subject it to immediate quarantine until sanity breaks out.

Allow me a brief yet significant digression. One wonders, in Cruz’s case, if the malady of faith isn’t acquired, but transmitted genetically. In 2013, his father, Rafael, an Evangelical pastor, spoke at a Second Amendment advocacy meeting in Oklahoma. He declared atheism amounts to a lack of moral absolutes. Hence, “If there’s no god,” then no moral absolutes can exist, “and you can change the rules.” This “leads us to sexual immorality, leads us to sexual abuse, leads us to perversion, and of course, no hope!” At least one of Ted Cruz’s own direr musings — that gays are waging a ”jihad . . . in Indiana and Arkansas, and going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman” — prompt the question: if Cruz is elected, will he classify homosexuality as terrorism and dispatch gay “jihadis” to Guantanamo?

During his 31-minute announcement address, Cruz recounts how his once-truant dad found Jesus and returned home. Otherwise, peppering his talk with references to God, Cruz informs us he will restore a United States brought low under Obama’s maleficent rein by uniting “millions of courageous conservatives” who will rise up “together to say in unison ‘we demand our liberty!’” From whom, exactly? He doesn’t say.

Cruz’s platform comes as no surprise. He wants to do many odious things, including protecting Hobby Lobby (the baneful Supreme Court decision that birthed a plethora of Religious Freedom Acts such as the one in Indiana and saving the (reactionary, contraceptive-denying) Little Sisters of the Poor. He also, of course, aims to “uphold the sacrament of marriage” (no parsing necessary). All this will come not from “Washington. It will come only from the men and women across this country . . . from people of faith, from lovers of liberty, from people who respect the Constitution” (except, of course, the parts of it that keep religion out of the affairs of state).
The sole Republican candidate unbound by religion’s “mind-forged manacles” appears to be the little-known Mark Everson, a native New Yorker who served as George W. Bush’s IRS commissioner. A dank, stygian gloom overhangs his campaign, however; he doesn’t even mention the Lord in his site’s “Letter to America.” He has thereby doomed himself among the faith-deranged. He gets next to no press.

And what of the (so far) sole Democratic contender for the White House? Hillary Clinton has announced, of course, by Twitter and a video, the first part of which was so bland I kept waiting for the tiny clickable SKIP THIS AD box to appear in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. The diversity of characters her clip features bodes well, though, for the faith-averse; she could not get away with ranting about the Bible unless she wanted to alienate such folk.

Yet Hillary does believe. Not only that, she claims to have grown up in a family elbow-to-elbow with none other than the Almighty: “We talked with God, ate, studied, and argued with God.”

Reporters, to verify her truthfulness, might ask her to be more specific: what type of cuisine did God prefer? Did God use Cliff Notes while hitting the books with you? How was God in a debate? Did he, being God, simply smite with thunderbolts those he disagreed with? If she replies that she didn’t mean to be taken so literally, then what exactly constituted evidence of the Almighty’s presence in her home? Did she actually hear a voice respond as she prayed? Did she have visions? If so, did she consult a psychiatrist? Which was more likely – that she was rooming with God or that she was suffering some sort of protracted, especially vivid mental disturbance? There are meds for that.

The virtual corollary to Hillary’s belief: her “Faith Voters for Hillary” website, which axiomatically tells us her “faith is deeply personal and real.” Sadly, we have no evidence to the contrary.

Hillary aside, with the ex-pastor Mike Huckabee and the Roman Catholic Jeb Bush (both inclined to wear their faith on their sleeve), rationalists can contemplate a depressing, even infuriating, 19-month run-up to the election. Reporters should do their job and not allow any of these potential commanders-in-chief to get away with God talk without making them answer for it, as impolite as that might be. Religious convictions deserve the same scrutiny any other convictions get, or more. After all, they are essentially wide-ranging assertions about the nature of reality and supernatural phenomena. As always, the burden of proof lies on the one making extraordinary claims. And if the man or woman carrying the nuclear briefcase happens to be eagerly desiring the End of Days, we need to know.

Here are some questions journalists might ask the candidates. They might begin with a preamble, though. As a Christian, you believe the Bible is, as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 proclaims, the word of God, “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” You accept the New Testament, of course, which includes Matthew 5:18’s pronouncement that every last bit of the Bible shall be implemented, including the Old Testament, which enjoins the death penalty for all manner of often minor infractions and approves of behavior that, to put it kindly, is no longer acceptable (at least outside ISIS-occupied territory).

So, if you accept the Bible in its totality, do you think sex workers should be burned alive (Leviticus 21:9) or that gays should be put to death (Leviticus 20:13)? Should women submit to their husbands, per Colossians 3:18? Should women also, as commands 1 Timothy 2:11, study “in silence with full submission?” Would you adhere to Deuteronomy 20:10-14 and ask Congress to pass a law punishing rapists by fining them 50 shekels and making them marry their victims and forbidding them to divorce forever? Given that the Bible ordains genocide (as in 1 Samuel 15:3:), will you work for the release of Athanase Seromba, the Catholic priest imprisoned for his role in the mass Rwandan slaughter of 1994? Will you call on Congress to repeal the Thirteenth Amendment and reinstate slavery, since the Bible, in 1 Peter 2:18, de facto sanctions the horrific practice and demands that slaves submit to their “masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel?” Please clarify.

Ted Cruz, will you denounce your father for calling atheists, groundlessly, sexual abusers and perverts?

Marco Rubio, please explain how your membership in the fanatical homophobic cult of Christ Fellowship has influenced you? How much demonology do you believe? Has the Fellowship conducted any exorcisms lately? If so, have you taken part? Has the “the power of Christ” ever “compelled you?” If yes, please elaborate.
If any of the candidates have boned up on their Reza Aslan and laugh off your questions, telling you they don’t take the Bible literally, you might ask what scriptural authority they can cite that permits them to disavow some parts of their holy book but accept others. Answer: there is none.

And you, Mark Everson, if you are indeed an atheist, will you come out of the closet about it? Will you utter that vilest of stock phrases “God bless America!” to close speeches, thereby lending undue credence to the nonsense notion that an invisible tyrant rules us from on high?

Atheists can dream. They can dream of a candidate (and future president) who will, one day, say “I do not believe in God. I do not believe in a hereafter. I believe we have one life on our precious planet, which floats amid a cosmic void of unfathomable dimensions governed by the unyielding laws of physics. I will follow reason and promote consensus-based policies that will do the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people. I will work to build up Jefferson’s wall of separation between church and state. Secularism and reason offer us the only way out of our dilemmas. We have to grow up and realize that, barring interference from forces of nature beyond our control, everything we humans achieve, or fail to achieve, depends on us. There is no hope, save in ourselves.”

We need a president who will acknowledge that. And we should settle for nothing less.

 

 

 

© 2015, agentleman.

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Written by agentleman

April 21st, 2015 at 6:22 am

Poverty Is Bad For Your Health

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Hundreds of mental health experts issue rallying call against austerity

400 counsellors, psychotherapists and others sign letter saying ‘society thrown completely off balance’ by ‘emotional toxicity of neoliberal thinking’
The letter to the Guardian calls for a broadly based campaign against austerity.

 
Austerity cuts are having a “profoundly disturbing” impact on people’s psychological wellbeing and the emotional state of the nation, hundreds of counsellors, psychotherapists and mental health experts have said in a letter to the Guardian.

Austerity and a malign benefits regime are profoundly damaging mental health. They said an “intimidatory disciplinary regime” facing benefits claimants would be made worse by further “unacceptable” proposals outlined in the budget.

These amounted to state “get to work” therapy and were both damaging and professionally unethical, they said.

Increasing inequality and poverty, families being moved out of their homes and new systems determining benefit levels were part of “a wider reality of a society thrown completely off balance by the emotional toxicity of neoliberal thinking”, according to more than 400 signatories to the letter. The consequences were “most visible in the therapist’s consulting room”.

The letter’s writers said it “sounds the starting bell for a broadly based campaign of organisations and professionals against the damage that neoliberalism is doing to the nation’s mental health”.

Labour first introduced work capability assessments but the coalition introduced a much more stringent regime.

The 2015 budget included plans to provide online cognitive behavioural therapy to 40,000 claimants and people on the Fit for Work programme, as well as putting therapists in more than 350 job centres.

The letter was being organised before the Conservative party manifesto was published earlier this week. This said that those with long-term but treatable conditions, including drug or alcohol addiction and obesity, might lose benefits if they refused recommended treatments.

The response from main political parties was muted, each stressing only their commitment to improving mental health rather than addressing the call for professionals to wake up to “malign developments” in social policy.

We certainly don’t want mental health treatments that violate all of our notions of … consent
Susie Orbach
The letter’s supporters included psychotherapist and writer Susie Orbach. She called “beyond shocking” the Conservative manifesto proposal.

“It undermines the fundamental principles of one’s right to physical and mental care – that you have to be able to consent and that the people you go to have to be highly trained and have your best interests and aren’t meeting targets.”

She added: “And we certainly don’t want claimants’ and job-seekers’ aspirations and paltry money dependent on whether they take up treatment options, which bounce them into mental health treatments which may not suit them, and which violate all of our notions of what constitutes a minimum standard for productive engagement in therapy: in short, consent.”

Andrew Samuels, an Essex University professor, and immediate past chair of the UK Council for Psychotherapy, insisted the letter was not pro-Labour but was aimed at getting a review of measures taken and proposed over the past five years

“If Labour decides afterwards all this is in order, it will go on. But I don’t think it will. I don’t see how it can,” he said.

Samuels believed there was “a bit of a public school ethos” behind the work-capability regime introduced under the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition and new Conservative plans.

Characterising the government attitude as “Pull yourself together man, for heaven’s sake,” Samuels added: “It is wholly inappropriate. It symbolises a society that has lost all moral compass.”

Richard House of the Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the letter’s main organiser, said there had been a mounting groundswell of concern. “When one hears story after story of dramatic negative health impacts, psychological and physical, after people are subjected to these back-to-work practices, the time has surely come for an ‘emotional audit’ of the impact of what, to many, appear to be heartless, un-thought-through policies that are merely penalising and punishing the already disadvantaged still further.”

A Conservative spokesman said: “Under this government inequality has fallen, child poverty is down and there are now 1.9 million more people in jobs than there were at the last election. We have legislated to ensure mental health is treated equally to physical health, and are introducing new waiting time standards.”

The party spokesman added: “Overall spending on mental health has increased, including over £400m to make a choice of psychological therapies available for everyone who needs them.

“We will continue to invest in mental health and are committed to spending an additional £1.25bn over the course of the next parliament. All of this is only possible because our plans are backed by a strong economy.”

Luciana Berger, Labour’s shadow health minister, said: “Mental health is the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age and it is essential that we give it the priority it deserves.

Labour would create a new right to talking therapies in the NHS constitution, working towards a standard of 28 days waiting time, said Berger.

“We will end the scandal of the neglect of child mental health, too, by increasing the proportion of the budget spent on these services.”

Norman Lamb, Lib Dem minister in the Department of Health, said: “The Liberal Democrats are on a mission to end the discrimination against mental health in our society. That’s why in government we introduced the first ever waiting time standards. It’s also why we are pledging at least £3.5bn extra funding over the next parliament to provide better mental healthcare.”

“The economic shock that this country faced five years ago has of course had an impact on mental health, and that’s why we were determined to build a stronger economy and why we fought to exempt disability benefits from cuts.

“We want to make sure people with mental health problems get the right help to stay in, or get into, work that can help their recovery. We will block the £12bn welfare cuts that the Tories propose.”

 

 

© 2015, agentleman.

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Written by agentleman

April 20th, 2015 at 6:23 am

Posted in Politics

Believe That!

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10 Myths Many Religious People Hold About Atheists, Debunked

Atheists are moral, loving and multicultural.
By Amanda Marcotte

 
In a regular poll conducted by political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell on American political attitudes, atheists recently lost their spot as as the most disliked group in America to the Tea Party. Still, number two is simply way too high in the unpopularity rankings for a group of people who just happen to spend Sunday mornings in bed instead of in church. Polling data shows that nearly half of Americans would disapprove if their child married an atheist and nearly 40 percent of Americans don’t see atheists as sharing their vision of American society, numbers that outstripped similar prejudices toward Muslims and African Americans.

Of course, the real reason atheists are so hated has little to do with jealousy for all their free time, but largely because most Americans are better acquainted with myths than with the realities of atheists’ lives. Unfortunately, atheists often have these myths tossed in their faces, usually by believers who would rather talk about what they heard atheists are like rather than uncomfortable subjects such as the lack of proof for any gods.

These myths do more than hurt atheists. They also harm the basic religious freedoms of all Americans, regardless of their beliefs. Religious freedom and tolerance don’t mean much if they can’t be expanded to include those without religion. With that in mind, here’s 10 of the ugliest myths about atheists, debunked:

1) There are no atheists in foxholes. There are many variations on this myth, but the basic idea behind it is that atheism is a luxury of the problem-free, and as soon as they feel fear or weakness, atheists will run straight into the arms of religion. This myth irritates atheists, because it tries to make a virtue out of preying on people’s weaknesses in order to sell them a lie. If you heard a marketer brag that he targets people who’ve been diagnosed with terminal illnesses because they’re easier targets, or a guy say he likes to cruise funerals because grieving women are easier to pick up, you’d think that person had no morals at all. But targeting people in moments of weakness to sell them religion is regarded as a normal and even virtuous strategy for proselytizing.

Beyond concerns about manipulation are the concerns about accuracy. Believers argue religion offers unique comforts to people in fear or pain, but what many atheists realize is that religion often provokes more anxiety and fear than it soothes. If we accept that God is all-powerful, as many religions claim, then it’s like being in an abusive relationship that can’t be escaped for eternity; a relationship with a God who will throw us into hell for not fearing him and who allows horrors like the Holocaust to happen. Many religious teachings aren’t actually thatsoothing at all if you take a step back and look at them clearly. For atheists, believing that evil is more an accident of nature than something imposed on us by an inscrutable supernatural being is the far greater comfort than any prayer could be.

2) Atheists are just angry with God. Atheists often point out the logical inconsistencies of many religious beliefs—such as the belief both that God is all-good and all-powerful, but he somehow also allows evil to exist—and believers use that to conclude that atheists are angry with God. We aren’t. You can’t be angry with a being that you don’t believe exists. I’m no angrier with God than I am angry with Zeus or the aliens that keep kidnapping drunks sleeping in their cars. Anger with religions for promoting false beliefs isn’t the same thing as being angry at the being that believers invented.

But I also have to quarrel with the very notion that a person’s arguments can be dismissed because of anger. Smugly accusing someone of anger doesn’t do anything to discount the content of the argument. I’d argue that people who see vile behavior in the name of religion and don’t get angry are the ones who have something wrong with them.

3) Atheists are aggressive and rude. This myth has been around in various forms for a long time, but it really took off after the rise of “New Atheism,” which focuses its energy on disproving religious claims instead of merely pleading for tolerance of atheists. This myth only persists because belief is unconsciously privileged over atheism, causing people to believe it’s somehow ruder for an atheist to say, “I don’t believe in God and here’s why” than for a believer to intrude in your personal space with pamphlets, attack people when they’re feeling low with religious claims, knock on your door to proselytize, or force your children to recite religious language in school. Objectively speaking, believers commit transgressions against good manners far more than atheists. But atheist arguments tend to disturb believers more than arguments for God disturb atheists, so atheists get an unfair reputation for being rude, even when they are merely outspoken or unapologetic.

4) Atheism is a white dude thing. It’s easy if atheism makes you uncomfortable to write off atheism as the hobbyhorse of a tiny minority of men with overly high opinions of their own intelligence. That men such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins get most of the media attention devoted to atheism only reinforces this myth. If you scratch the surface, however, you’ll see that the ranks of outspoken atheists have far more women that the media would let on. Atheist blogger Jen McCreight grew so tired of this myth that she compiled an extensive list of prominent female atheists such as Susan Jacoby, Rebecca Watson and Lori Lipman Brown. Greta Christina followed up with a list of prominent atheists of color, such as Debbie Goddard, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Hemant Mehta. Women are specially targeted for religious oppression around the world, so of course, many of us will be open to arguments against the legitimacy of religion.

5) Atheism is just a faith like any other. You occasionally see agnostics trot this one out, as well. The idea is that arguments for and against the existence of any gods have equal value, but it’s simply not true. The logical position toward an extraordinary, supernatural claim is skepticism until proof is offered, and so far none of the thousands of gods that have been claimed to exist throughout history have lifted a finger to prove themselves. In fact, most believers grasp this for themselves; they automatically disbelieve all religious claims except their own, barring actual proof that never produces itself. Atheists just do religious people one better, and make no exceptions for a religion because it happens to be the one we were raised in or convinced by friends to convert to.

I always flinch in embarrassment for the believer who trots out, “Atheism is just another kind of faith,” because it’s a tacit admission that taking claims on faith is a silly thing to do. When you’ve succumbed to arguing that the opposition is just as misguided as you are, it’s time to take a step back and rethink your attitudes.

6) Atheists don’t have a moral code. Atheist are routinely asked how people will know not to rape and murder without religion telling them not to do it, especially a religion that backs up the orders with threats of hell. Believers, listen to me carefully when I say this: When you use this argument, you terrify atheists. We hear you saying that the only thing standing between you and Ted Bundy is a flimsy belief in a supernatural being made up by pre-literate people trying to figure out where the rain came from. This is not very reassuring if you’re trying to argue from a position of moral superiority.

If anything, atheism correlates to better behavior on average. Atheists are under-represented in prison, for instance, and more religious nations have higher rates of violent crime,teen pregnancy, early adult mortality and even abortion. But setting the numbers aside, we can see that even religious people generally believe that morality exists outside of religion. After all, most religious people condemn people who commit acts of evil in the name of religion. If religiosity were the measure of morality, terrorists who murder in the name of God would be more moral than atheists who pay their taxes and give to charity. You’ll find few believers agreeing that a murderous terrorist for God is a better person than a nonviolent atheist, showing that believers grasp that morality doesn’t come from religion, but that we can measure religious claims against our pre-existing understanding of morality.
7) Atheist lives are bleak and lack meaning. Those in the atheist activist community find this one particularly insipid, because we so often deal with people who suffered religious abuse and were only able to find peace by abandoning religion. There’s really no reason to believe that happiness and fulfillment come from a supernatural place, or else believers would have no need for fulfilling work, loving families, friends, and hobbies, since their spiritual beliefs would suffice. Most atheists actually find our lack of belief in a supernatural being makes it easier to fill our lives with meaning and joy. Since we don’t believe in an afterlife, many of us find ourselves more motivated to make the most out of the time we do have instead of looking to the next life to make us happy.

8) Atheists are hedonists who don’t understand the true meaning of love. As an open reproductive rights supporter, I’ve certainly faced my share of believers accusing me of being an atheist so I can simply indulge my sexual appetites and avoid some abstract true meaning of love. It is true that one of the benefits of being an atheist is that you’re no longer crippled by religious phobias that assume that sexual fulfillment and real love are mutually exclusive, but that certainly doesn’t mean atheists don’t feel genuine love. I suspect some Christians enjoy making high-minded claims about feeling deeper love because they know there’s no way to measure their claims. But the higher divorce rates in more religious states don’t bode well for claims that sexual purity and Christianity make love deeper and truer.

9) Atheists have no way to cope after losing loved ones without the belief in an afterlife. The belief that religion has sole ownership over death is so ingrained that it often causes believers to behave in inappropriate ways toward grieving atheists, using the occasion of a loved one’s death to try to coax us into taking up religion. Some believers who do this are openly predatory, but some mean well, and simply can’t imagine how atheists cope without telling ourselves pretty stories about an afterlife. Atheists have every right to be skeptical of the argument that belief in the afterlife quiets the pain of grief. After all, many religions teach that the dead person could be burning forever in hell, which can cause far more anxiety than relief.

I imagine the nothingness of death is much like the nothingness that existed before birth. Believing in the afterlife seems to have more to do with the egos of the living than concerns about the dead, and by letting go of the need to make the end of someone else’s life about your own fears of death, many atheists can focus on working through the grief in a healthy way. So please, believers, don’t use the death of loved ones as an opportunity to proselytize.

10) Atheists are out to destroy Christmas. It’s September and so this myth is relatively quiet, but it tends to come out every year after Halloween, to accompany Christmas decorations going up. For Fox News, ratcheting fears about a “war on Christmas” has replaced caroling as the annual holiday ritual. It’s all very silly. Atheists don’t oppose ritual or holidays. Most atheists in America tend to see Christmas as a mostly secular holiday celebrating family that can be turned into a completely secular holiday with a few minor tweaks. Even the few atheists who don’t celebrate Christmas at all certainly have no plan to make war on the holiday, beyond simply requesting that the government obey the First Amendment by not promoting Christianity above other beliefs, no matter what time of year.

In my experience, non-believers have some of the best Christmas celebrations around. You can get a tree and decorate it in punk rock style, or put up a pro-atheist sign in your yard surrounded by festive Christmas decorations. My family tends to prefer all-night poker games for Christmas instead of going to Christmas mass–all the family togetherness, but with less boredom. Or you can choose to have “Christmas” in July and save yourself the expense and headaches of holiday travel.

Debunking these myths about atheists in print can only do so much to quell believer fears about the supposed atheist menace. Even better would be for believers to find themselves an atheist, and instead of simply attacking them with these myths in an effort to frustrate them into submission, instead get to know them better. You might find they’re basically like everyone else, except more rested on Sundays and less afraid that invisible beings are judging them for masturbating.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2011.

Amanda Marcotte co-writes the blog Pandagon. She is the author of “It’s a Jungle Out There:

© 2015, agentleman.

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  • 45
    The Republican Party's Contempt for Women Is Truly Breathtaking Conservatives act like women are not-very-bright children.   By Amanda Marcotte     "Are women adults" is a question that seems to have a simple answer (yes), but looking across the political landscape, it’s clear that a lot of conservatives don’t agree at all, instead seeing women…
    Tags: religion, abuse, hate
  • 45
    Here Are Five Surprising Ways Iran Is Better Than Israel  By Juan Cole     This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s Web page. I think I’m one of the few Americans who has been to both Iran and Israel. I like both countries and have a lot in common with thinkers in both. I…
    Tags: religion, abuse, hate
  • 41
    12 Worst Ideas Religion Has Unleashed on the World These dubious concepts advocate conflict, cruelty and suffering. By Valerie Tarico Some of humanity’s technological innovations are things we would have been better off without: the medieval rack, the atomic bomb and powdered lead potions come to mind. Religions tend to invent ideas or concepts rather than…
    Tags: people, religion, religious, don, believers, atheists, hate, abuse

Written by agentleman

April 18th, 2015 at 9:44 am

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