Just Another Afternoon on Twitter

There was a tweet that showed up on my timeline with two people discussing how atheism involves “lazy thinking” and “being vacuous.”

I suppose I should have minded my own damn business, but for those of you who know me… well, I have a bit of trouble with that.

So I tweeted back that, au contraire, being an atheist involves critical thinking, because basically, I’ve learned about other religions, examined the available (non-existent) evidence, and, based on those factors, I made the informed choice not to believe in god.

Predictably, the howling began. I was “angry” and “demanded that others bow to my beliefs.” I was “whining.” I was “trying to prove that (I) am superior to others.”

Um…whut?2007-06-05_atheists_dont_exist

So, I reminded the two Christians that they were beating me up for being a “lazy” and “vacuous” atheist and that they started it.

I was accused of claiming to “know everything.” Um…no. I didn’t claim that. I was told that I “shouldn’t be so angry.” Um… no, I wasn’t angry, merely pointing out that I didn’t care to be insulted simply for being an atheist. And again, I reminded them that they started it – and that they were now tossing out strawmen along with their insults and logic #FAILs.

Oh, boy. The howling became screeching and gnashing of teeth. I was told that I had “butted in to a private conversation” — a PRIVATE conversation? On freaking TWITTER?? Really?

<facepalm> I really should know better. But…. there’s something so very entertaining about poking holes in puffed-up fools who feel that they are entitled to freely impugn others without consequences.

Plan B

I like to listen to progressive talk radio. There’s a radio show on in the afternoon (while I’m spending quality time with all my freeway friends) hosted by David Cruz on our local prog talk station, KTLK. Normally, I don’t call talk shows for a variety of reasons – they keep you on hold for 20 or 30 or 40 minutes before you get your 30 seconds on the air before they cut you off in mid-word. That’s not my idea of a good time.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Cruz was going on about a court ruling by a judge who ruled that the Plan B pill should be available over the counter at pharmacies “without a prescription to all girls of reproductive age, including those younger than 17.” He was horrified by that idea, and used his 15 year old granddaughter as his reason why. He said that our daughters and granddaughters should be able to talk to their parents – rather than be able to simply go to the nearest CVS and buy Plan B. He also opined that parents should be notified.

I vehemently disagree with that opinion. So I called in to his show and tried to get my point across, i.e., that what we really need to do is make sure our teens are educated about sex AND have birth control freely available – because teens are going to have sex, just as the sun comes up every morning. Of course I was cut off in the middle of a sentence, and Mr. Cruz went on to call me a “fatalist” and a “cynic” and implied that I was saying that talking to parents was stupid and unnecessary and that all teens wanted to do was “screw, screw, screw.”

This was totally not what I said. I burned the rest of the way home, and when I flung myself into my chair in front of my computer, I sent Mr. Cruz the following email:

Hi, David – I’m Kate from Santa Monica; we spoke on the air this afternoon with regard to the availability of Plan B.
 
After our call, as I listened, I realized that you completely misrepresented my point. You called me a cynic and a fatalist – and neither are true. I am a realist. 
 
I completely agree with you that kids/teens should have loving parents who are involved in their lives. That is a precious gift that I never had. I was beaten and abused and molested by my stepfather. Neither of my parents gave a damn where I was. I had my first boyfriend at 16 – I believed that he was the first person in my life who truly loved me. Of course I had sex with him. Fortunately for me, even as a 16 year old, I was intelligent and well-read enough to protect myself. 16 going on 40, you know?
 
Girls who have loving, caring parents, David, are NOT the ones who need Plan B. They aren’t the ones who are most at risk of getting pregnant at 15 or 16 or 17. 
 
Girls who have abusive, alcoholic, uncaring, absent parents ARE the ones who need the protection of Plan B. 
 
Those girls are the ones who are most likely to look for love and take it wherever they find it, even if it means having sex at 16. If those girls get pregnant, where are they to go? To their abusive parents? All sorts of very bad things happen to those girls (I know – they happened to me); she could end up pregnant and alone on the street – easy prey for pimps and criminals. She could have a back alley abortion and die. She could drink Drano because someone told her that they read on the internet that it would end her pregnancy. Or she could end up as a prostitute, hooked on drugs and pregnant. She could go ahead and have that baby and perhaps it would end up brain damaged from drugs/alcohol or dead at the hands of the girl’s abusive boyfriend – because that kind of abuse perpetuates itself. 
 
Because abuse is all you know, that’s the kind of man you end up with. It happened to me. I married an abusive man who beat me and threatened to kill me on many occasions. 
 
These are the girls who need Plan B. They can go to the drugstore, buy the pill, take it and NOT get pregnant – and perhaps survive their miserable childhood – like I did – and go on to make something good out of their lives. 
 
All this does NOT make me a cynic or a fatalist. It does not mean that I don’t think parents are important – oh, god, they are so very important, and that is something I never had. What this makes me is a woman who is very, very fortunate to have survived my childhood and my marriage who doesn’t want any other teenaged girl to go through what I did. 
 
Sorry for the long email, but hearing you misrepresent what I said pissed me off. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Kate
That brings me to President Obama. I believe he’s completely wrong on this one, too. This excuse that we don’t know the effects of the morning-after pill on young girls is ridiculous – because we most certainly know the long term effects of pregnancy on young girls.
Women – of all ages – have the right to make their own choices. As it turns out, Mr. Cruz has a daughter who got pregnant at 17. Perhaps if she had had access to Plan B, her life might have gone a different direction. Having a child at 17 is almost guaranteed to destroy any opportunity a girl has to go to college and have a career. If it doesn’t completely destroy a young woman’s opportunities, it most certainly puts huge obstacles in her way.
teen-pregnancy
I am not a fatalist or a cynic. I am a realist – who lived through hell and was lucky to have survived my childhood. So, Mr. Cruz? Remember this: girls who have those wonderful loving parents don’t need Plan B. The girls who had ugly abusive parents like mine are the ones who do need Plan B.

Business is BOOMing in Texas

I posted this cartoon on my Facebook page – twice – last week:

 

 

Capture

 

I also posted the accompanying article from the San Francisco Chronicle detailing how Governor Perry is demanding an apology from the cartoonist, Jack Ohman, and the Sacramento Bee, the paper that ran the original cartoon, because he is “disgusted and disappointed” on behalf of the 15 people (mostly first responders and firefighters) who died in the explosion of the ammonium nitrate fertilizer factory in West, Texas. (The article linked here has an excellent run-down on the events at the West Chemical and Fertilizer Company – definitely worth a read.)

Now, I have someone on my Facebook page wagging her finger at me for posting the cartoon that’s upsetting Governor Goodhair. She’s a friend, but she’s lecturing me about how the cartoon is “in bad taste” and blah-blah-blah. I hate being lectured, and wagging your finger in my face is like that cliche about the red flag and the bull. Thus, this post. Perhaps, instead of being annoyed, I should thank my friend for her inspiration.

Is this cartoon in bad taste?

Sure. Of course it is. But, as far as I’m concerned, it’s in much worse taste to allow the owners of that factory to do whatever-the-hell they wanted and violate all kinds of safety regulations – which are in place – DUH – to keep people safe from rapacious and unscrupulous business owners who are willing to cut every corner and take every shortcut (even if it kills people – they can be replaced easily and cheaply, right?) to maximize their profits.

Political cartoons, satires, op-eds – anything that calls out hypocrisy, stupidity, dangerous behavior and/or a complete disregard for the safety of your fellow human beings is very often in bad taste. Those things, by their very nature, are in bad taste – and they need to be, in order to hammer home the point.

Governor Perry has repeatedly bragged about how great a place Texas is to do business; he’s even called it the “Texas Miracle.” “C’mon over to Texas, boys! We’ll keep the gubmint’s nose outcher bidness – you do whatever you want and make BIG profits! And – you can even squirrel your money away in your offshore accounts – we got low taxes here – if you’re rich, o’course!” Texas is one of only seven states in the US that does not have a state income tax on personal income – and don’t those big corporate guys love their accountants – who can magically make millions of dollars in profit vanish into thin air, courtesy of our federal tax code (which overwhelmingly favors the rich).

Yeah, it’s a miracle, all right. What Rick Perry’s “Texas Miracle” basically means is, that if you want to make bombs or ammunition or refine gasoline or make ammonium nitrate fertilizer, you don’t have to provide a safe workplace, follow safety procedures to handle dangerous materials, and you can zone a factory handling dangerous materials right smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood (keeps your workers conveniently close by, you know?). You can flip OSHA the bird – just like the owners of the West Chemical and Fertilizer Company did:  the last full safety inspection of that plant was conducted in 1985. Do the math. You can simply ignore the Department of Homeland Security’s rule that they must be notified if your business stores or uses more than a certain quantity of dangerous materials – the folks at West Chemical and Fertilizer Company did just that. And a $6000 fine? Eh. Just another cost of doing business – which can most likely be written off as some sort of business expense when April 15th rolls around.

In my opinion (which is what this blog is all about, right?) if Governor Rick Perry wants to brag about how Texas is the place with low taxes and few regulations, he needs to be called out.

Why? Because when you go up the chain of responsibility, ultimately, it’s his fault those people died.

And if now’s not the time to call him out on it…when IS the time?

Don’t think I’m not sorry for those poor people in West, TX. They have suffered and are suffering terribly, and my heart goes out to them.

…But how much do you want to bet that the vast majority of them voted for Rick Perry and Mitt Romney? It may sound heartless, but the people of West, Texas have learned, in the hardest way possible, that elections DO have consequences. “Small government” and “lower taxes” sounds really good on paper – but when you live next door to a fertilizer factory which is essentially a giant bomb?

Not so much.

Three Categories

My friends and I fall into three categories these days:  1) those who are pissed off at President Obama for offering up Social Security (via the chained CPI) to the hostage-taking terrorist lunatics with the teabags hanging from their hats that make up the GOP as a “pre-emptive compromise,” 2) those who are convinced that the president is playing a sly three-dimensional game of chess while the room-temperature-IQ Tea Partiers are fumbling around with their tiddlywinks, and 3) those who are dazed, worn-out and confused.

How do I categorize myself? For me, it’s “all of the above.”

 I’d (of course) have to turn in my lefty socialist union thug card if I wasn’t pissed at the president for offering up our Social Security as a “pre-emptive compromise.” Who the hell does that?! If I’m going to negotiate on the price of a must-have treasure I find at a flea market, I’m sure as hell not going to offer the seller a higher amount than what’s written on the price tag as a “pre-emptive compromise”! Hell, no. I’m going to start out with a lowball offer and work my way up to the highest price I’m willing to pay – if I wanted to pay full price, I would simply hand over my cash and walk away with my treasure clutched firmly in my hot little hands. And vice-versa, if I’m negotiating with my employer for a raise or with a new employer for my salary, I’m going to figure out what I want, keep that number in my head – and add a chunk to it so I can be bargained down to the number I want. And yes, there’s always the chance I might be offered the higher amount, and that’s all good. So yeah, I guess I belong in group 1, people who are pissed off at President Obama for offering up Social Security to the hostage-takers in the GOP.

But then again, over the last four years, I have also watched President Obama outmaneuver and literally run rings around those dumb dopes in the GOP – administering beating after beating and forcing the Republicans to do really stupid things – like demand that the rich get to keep their tax break for their private jets (really, Republicans?), attempt to tie food assistance for poor children to their grades in school, and all sorts of other shoot-yourself-in-the-foot kinds of things. So? That means I also fall into group 2, those who are convinced that the president is playing three-dimensional chess while the drooling gomers in the GOP are forming up the circular firing squad.Image

That leaves group 3:  the confused, the dazed and the exhausted. And yes, I fall squarely into this group as well. First of all, I’m on outrage overload; after more than a decade of appalling bigotry, idiocy, ignorance, the insulting invasions of my body the Republicans are trying to sign into law, their attempts to strip Americans of their rights – the right to vote, the right to form a union, etc., coupled with the war crimes of the Bush administration and the detestable antics of the most embarrassing Supreme Court in our history…? My circuits are fried, and my irony meter exploded a long time ago.

We progressives end up going through this same stress every time President Obama ladles out one of his generous dollops of booty in the form of offering cuts to Medicare, cuts to food assistance, cuts to …whatever…  in order to appease the GOP – you know, that “pre-emptive compromise” thing? I definitely give a damn, because of course, my reaction to every single one of the president’s “pre-emptive compromise” thingies is to be completely pissed off, and I invariably find myself nodding vigorously along with the always-predictable outrage of my heroes, folks like Bernie Sanders, Paul Krugman, Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow (even though she’s so very nice – even when she’s outraged).

Like Forrest Gump, I’m kinda tired. So, if the president is playing that very deep game of 3-dimensional chess, I wish he’d find a way to let us know – a secret password or maybe a Barack-signal.

Death in Big Bear

I’ve already pissed a lot of people off with my comments on this subject. I’ve been yelled at by people who tell me that DORNER WAS A MURDERER AND HE DESERVED TO DIE!!!!! etc.

But this is America, people. Timothy McVeigh killed a hell of a lot more people than Christopher Dorner did – and yet, we managed to give him a fair trial and convict him of his crime.

How is it that we’re now perfectly fine with what was essentially the summary execution of a suspect who hadn’t even been charged with a crime? Well, I’m not OK with it. I’m not defending what Chris Dorner did. Not at all. What he did was heinous and terrible. But what I am saying is that no matter how heinous and terrible his crime, he was still entitled to justice under our laws. Instead, it felt to me like a summary execution, carried out by the LAPD with no witnesses, and all we have to go on is a convenient, tidy story that ties up the loose ends of Christopher Dorner’s life by casting him as a monster, a dangerous psychopath from whom we have been heroically saved by the LAPD.

Well, I’m not buying it. And I’ll tell you why.

I live in Los Angeles, and I have been very uncomfortable with – and, frankly, unnerved by – the behavior of the LAPD throughout this entire hysterical week. The attorney for the two Hispanic women who were shot while delivering newspapers said that the police opened fire first, without any warning, peppering their blue pickup with bullet holes and shooting one of the women, a 71 year old, twice in the back, and wounding her daughter in the hand. Those two women were lucky to have survived – the back of their truck shows more than a dozen bullet holes. In the second incident, the LAPD opened fire on a (white) guy driving a dark pickup truck on the 405 freeway – and rammed him into the center median – again without warning. This man was white, and had absolutely no resemblence to Chris Dorner. He was lucky as well, to have survived with only scratches and bruises – and a totaled pickup truck.

The news has been full of stories about the police raiding this place or that place; storming a motel in Tijuana, holding hundreds of people hostage at a local mall for hours while they searched every single car on the basis of a single anonymous tip, or what could have even been a prank call.

Yesterday, when the police and the SWAT team had Dorner barricaded in the cabin at Big Bear, they imposed a TRF – Temporary Flight Restriction – on the entire area of Big Bear Lake, thus effectively barring the news media from the scene and creating a news blackout… which meant that there were no witnesses to the events that followed.

We got the LAPD’s version, that Dorner refused to surrender, and that more than likely, when SWAT started to tear the cabin down using heavy equipment, he himself set the cabin on fire and then committed suicide by shooting himself. The fire department didn’t approach the cabin “because it was too dangerous” and so they stood back and let it burn to the ground – conveniently destroying any evidence – well, except for Dorner’s driver’s license, which somehow miraculously survived the fire.

I believe that the LAPD was out to summarily execute Dorner – screw a trial. They have done exactly that on many occasions; shooting several homeless people they deemed “threatening,” even though none of them had a gun and then justifying it as self-defense. This heavy-handedness isn’t new to L.A. There have been multiple occurrences of police brutality, including the infamous beating of Rodney King, which was covered up by the LAPD and only brought to light by a video of the event taken by a civilian witness. The officers involved were not convicted of any crime by the criminal court with an all-white jury in Simi Valley, but were found liable in civil court.

So, police brutality and over-reaction in Los Angeles is nothing new. But in my opinion, the events of yesterday and this last week have got me concerned about the militarization of our police force, which I believe has reached an entirely new level of violence – and finality.

The police and SWAT team had the Big Bear cabin completely surrounded. According to the owner, there were no supplies or electricity in the cabin – they could have easily waited Dorner out. Several days without food or water could have ended this with Dorner surrendering peacefully….or if he was bound to commit suicide, he could have made that choice – without having to choose between the bullet and being burned alive.

Instead, they stormed the cabin, and now? We only have their version of the story, because the only other witness, Christopher Dorner, is dead.

There is video of the LAPD screaming that they should “burn it down!!” (the cabin) as well as a screen cap from Anderson Cooper’s show with a statement from a marshal that when the cabin caught fire, Dorner tried to exit – and was shoved back inside.

screen cap

I don’t know how accurate that is; I have been unable to find any other sources for that story.

However, I do think that in light of the LAPD’s behavior over the last week and their itchy trigger-fingers, there should be an investigation by an OUTSIDE neutral party into just what exactly happened yesterday in Big Bear.

Christopher Dorner was a murderer – but he deserved a fair trial, not a summary execution.

UPDATE:  This is from Alternet. A must-read:

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/how-law-enforcement-and-media-covered-plan-burn-christopher-dorner-alive?page=0%2C2

UPDATE 2:

The news tonight reported that there were over 100 bullet holes in the back of the pickup truck being driven by those 2 women. Over 100.

The Angry and Murderous Right

Neal Boortz, his death is on your head

byDante Atkins

(http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/03/1183731/-Neal-Boortz-his-death-is-on-your-head)

I read this article from the Daily Kos this morning. It included a long and angry tirade from Neal Boortz about the “urban thugs” (read that black people) who have overrun Atlanta and how good and decent (read that white) people should be ready to fill them full of lead to rescue Atlanta and make it livable again.

It made me want to puke.

Why is the right wing in this country so overflowing with hatred? Neal Boortz. Rush Limbaugh. Glenn Beck. Paul Ryan. Sean Hannity. Ann Coulter. Pamela Gellar. Michelle Malkin. Bill O’Reilly. Members of Congress are now openly racist – and we’re not even shocked anymore.

It’s a shamefully long list – and we have allowed these hatemongers an almost unimited venue in which to spew their venom into our lives: FOX “News.” AM talk radio. Even the internet is being used by the likes of Glenn Beck and Alex Jones to infect their audience with the hate virus.

They have their roots in the KKK and the John Birch Society – both blatantly racist organizations with blood on their hands. After 9/11, these same cynical haters have added Muslims to their ‘enemies list.’  And now?

The haters on the airwaves have recruited – and continue to recruit – an army of unhinged, angry racist white people, telling them that they are an endangered species, that they are being persecuted simply because they are white and Christian, and feeding them ever more hysterical and lurid stories of welfare queens squirting out armies of terror babies, of rapists and killers and takers and moochers who are lurking out there behind every bush – ready to break down their front doors, rape and kill their wimmenfolk and steal their flatscreen TVs.  They are being taught that every brown or black face, every person with a “funny” name, and millions of fiendish socialist commie baby-killing race-traitors (aka “liberals” and “progressives”) are the vanguard of Kenyan Muslim Manchurian Candidate Barack Hussein Obama’s crack shock troops – with a secret and sinister agenda to take their guns away and imprison them in FEMA concentration camps and to drown the real America in a sea of brown faces.

Now, after years of this ever-rising flood of hatred and hysteria, these angry, fearful and persecuted white people and Christian martyr-wannabes are quivering with desire to own their very own assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, so they can elist in the army of the righteous – and pull that trigger and bag themselves an “urban thug” or a “moocher.”

…Just as George Zimmerman did when he shot Trayvon Martin for the crime of Walking While Black and Phillip Sailors did on January 28, 2013 to an innocent young man for the crime of pulling into the wrong driveway. Both of these men claimed they were “in fear of their lives” – an excuse that has become as flimsy as wet toilet paper.

Because of people like Neal Boortz and others like him who preach to those armies of paranoid white people like Zimmerman and Sailors that they are entitled to grab their guns and pull the trigger any old time they want to… and no matter how innocent the victims, they are entitled to claim that they feared for their lives.

That’s pure racist bullshit – and it needs to stop. Zimmerman and Sailors should both receive the maximum sentence for first degree murder, as should every over-zealous shooter who kills someone simply because they feel threatened. That is not acceptable. If it were me? I’d like to prosecute every rightwing hatemonger for inciting murder, and for their sentence? Put them all on a deserted island with plenty of guns – and let them kill each other.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 9,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 16 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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