Month: April 2015

Right Wing Hate Speech

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“Let’s talk about poverty, for instance. The single best indicator of whether or not a child is going to be in poverty or not is whether or not they were raised by a two-parent household or a single parent household, so the breakdown of the family has contributed to poverty. Look at what is going on in Baltimore today, you see the issues that are raised there. Healthy marriages are the ones between a man and a woman because they can have a healthy family and they can raise children in a way that’s best for their future, not only socially but psychologically, economically, from a health perspective. There is nothing like traditional marriage that does that for a child. Each of us have a mother and a father and there is no way to get around that.” — GOP Rep Bill Flores

So I’m going to go ahead and call this out as right wing Republican hate speech and racism. I define hate speech is anything that removes the dignity and humanity of a class or group of individuals. First this ignores intense systemic long-standing problems imposed on minority groups. Secondly, this perpetuates a stereotype that poor and/or black family units are single parent units, which is blatantly untrue. three. It also perpetuates the myth that children need male/female pair bonds in their parents. They need love, attention and resources but the sex of their parents doesn’t matter at all. So not only is he factually incorrect, he’s is painting at least two entire group of people as immoral and unhealthy “socially psychologically, economically, and from from a health perspective”.  The idea that gay marriage is responsible for widespread racial unrest is so incredibly absurd, that he should be removed from his post on the basis of malicious malpractice and incompetence.  Unfortunately, that’s a matter for Texas voters, and they’ve indeed spoken.

If social media and typical media is any judge, the black protesters in Baltimore are “Thugs”, “Animals”, “Criminals,” so criminally deluded that they are burning down their own neighborhood.  That black people are so irrational that they would willingly seek to bring down a perfectly fair and legitimate functional system.  What is insane, is saying that people can not be part of our society simply because they’re black.  If you think that America has welcomed these people, you still aren’t listening.


Baltimore Riots #blacklivesmatter

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Mr. Centrist will not be writing a blog on the recent unrest.  It’s not that I have no opinion or no feeling on the matter.  It is not that I am not outraged over the things others, often white, have said to castigate and dehumanize because I am.  It is simply that I feel that as a white person of means and privilege this is not my story to tell.  If you care at all, if you have a thirst for knowledge and insight about this situation, there have been literally thousands of thoughtful people providing insight that I could never hope to measure up to.  It’s not my story, It’s not my stage.  I will silently stand by my brothers and sisters as they tell their story and I urge you to listen.

The morality of abortion

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There is something that many christian denominations believe.  It’s an internally consistent metanarrative that speaks to what they consider the duality of the universe.  It’s classic star wars just without the Ewoks and Jabba. There’s a purely good side full of supernatural entities fighting a dark side also full of supernatural entities who, like any good movie, are fated to lose in the end.  That struggle, many ways, is played out on earth.  It’s straight up bronze age mentality.  Hasn’t changed for 3000 years.  It’s called, fittingly, “The Culture of Death”.  If you’re not with us, you’re against us and going to burn in hell.  There’s no middle ground.  No grey area.  There’s certainly no clearly defined rights and responsibilities.  There’s no self-defined purpose for your life.  Those are all things meted out by god.  If you reject them, hell.  If you embrace them, hell on earth, but you go to heaven.  That’s why abortion is so frowned upon in conservative religious circles.  You’ve prevented a life from coming into being.  That’s dark, not light.  The consequences to the mother are not relevant.  No matter what happens to her on earth she’ll go to heaven.  Same for the child.  The costs are not relevant.  The ethics are not relevant.  That’s why birth control is frowned upon.  Same rational, you’ve prevented a life from coming into existence.  Life, everyone agrees on, is one of the most wonderful things to happen.  The “Culture of Death” is how Catholics and other religious conservatives justify their position.  But the entire premise is flawed.  Their stuck cherry picking a non-relevant book over translated, repeatedly copied, that last made sense when the Roman Empire was at it’s peak.

All of these debates we have between pro-abortionists and anti-abortionists are not relevant.  The “personhood” argument doesn’t matter to either conservatives or liberals but we debate it anyway.  To a conservative the entity, whatever you want to call it (medically it’s a zygote/fetus depending on it’s stage of development) it doesn’t matter because it’s potential will eventually mature into personhood no matter how long it takes or what it costs.  To a liberal it doesn’t matter because the argument is about personal autonomy.  Legally it doesn’t even matter because the case was decided on the principle of medical privacy.  The pragmatic argument that Liberals trot out all the time about the potentially negative consequences don’t matter.  A conservative won’t buy them because the most negative consequence possible is the death of the child.  They matter a little to Liberals because people matter to liberals, but it’s not the crux of their argument.  Almost no one will care about the utility of abortion.  There are no good statistics, but a significant source of clients in abortion clinics are pro-life believers.  “Most pro-life women oppose abortion with four exceptions: rape, incest, the life of the mother, and me.”

Surprisingly, the Supreme Court got this one right.  The issue is decided on medical privacy.  Conservatives are always a bit outraged on that one since under normal circumstances privacy would not normally apply.  My right to privacy would not trump my obligation through action or inaction prevent the death of another person.  (Though, oddly enough law enforcement is currently going down that path).  Same with “personal autonomy”.  I absolutely will lose my personal autonomy if my actions result in the harm to another.  That’s why they’re confused in this case.  Because when we talk about murder, or theft, we’re usually talking about two independent adults.  Who, for the most part, suffer and benefit from their actions (social/economic pressures a different topic for a different time).  When I pass a homeless person on the street I may choose to give him some money or some assistance.  I may also choose to donate to an organization with the resources to make a more substantial impact.  The person who has nothing, who will die if not aided, can demand nothing from me.  Not the least part.  I may not be a very good person to refuse, but he has no moral right to demand.  That much is theft.  He can not have my time, my resources, parts from my body (I do not have to fear from organ hunters).  There is nothing that he has a right to forcibly take from me.  It doesn’t matter how rich I am, or how desperate his condition.  Force is never justified no matter how well-meaning.  And yet, we have a good 40%, according to recent polls, that believe otherwise.  Pregnancy takes an enormous biological, emotional, physical, and economic toll on a woman.  In damn near kills her, and in some cases it does.  (That’s actually fairly unique to humans by the way).  No homeless person has the right to put me through hell for 9 months for his sole personal benefit.  Neither does a child.  I want there to be no more abortions in the same way I want there to be no more cancer treatments,  Ie by curing cancer.  We shall not tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.  Imagine the umbridge if a woman merely suggested as much.

This brings us to the ultimate point.  Having breached medical privacy, you fools have opened up the door for government agencies to tell doctors how to practice.  To make demands of women they do not want.  Anti-abortion activists have mandate cruel, invasive, unnecessary, and irrelevant procedures as a purely malicious and ineffective hurtle towards abortions. — good– you’re thinking — that was the point, we don’t want abortions– but the government can now, in theory make ANY medical decision for you on any moral basis that it wants.  It can tell you what meds you can have, what procedures can be done.  All on the basis of the current collective morality of the government.   For there to be effective healthcare in this country the barrier between government and health must be secured.  THAT is the moral imperative.

Why I’m supporting Hillary Clinton

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Hillary Clinton

The right will go through it’s hundred and one candidates in a an unending series of Reagan-fetishistic debates where candidates are eventually whittled down by their own incompetence. In fact, it’s already happening. Chris Christie is already out before he had a chance to run. On the left, you’ll have Hillary and a handful of straw candidates. (Or maybe not so straw depending on how seriously O’Malley is taking himself). Liberals are unenthused with Hillary. She comes with a lot of baggage. She’s a moderate democrat not a socialist or even a social democrat. She’s not even a progressive.

Be that as it may, she is not merely better than a republican. I know liberals are frustrated and so we’ll forgive them their self-sabotaging cannibalistic  insults and tendencies. For the record if Democrats screw this up, that will be how and why.

One of the reasons I love Hillary Clinton as a President is that she has absolutely zero principles. She is as far from a true believer as it’s possible to be. I know it sounds like a bad thing, but I’m not willing to martyr my cause for somewhat nebulous principles. I want someone who will get things done. I want someone who will fight for grand reforms and revolutions, but who at the end of the day will accept compromise rather than suffer total defeat if the political winds turn.  I want a politician who knows where to put their political capital to do the most good. That’s Hillary Clinton and no one else in the political landscape.

She will be effective in advancing some of the most important issues of our day. Immigration? She supports a path to citizenship. Where that’s not possible (for which we have only minorities to blame) she supports interim measures like drivers licenses. Abortion, birth control, LGBT rights, women’s rights, minorities, early education etc. she’s been an advocate for social policies her entire career, both in and out of public service.

One of her top priorities is income inequality, and we can be certain tax reform will be a major priority in the coming days. She’s also a strong environmentalist, supports cap-and trade, alternative energies and other regulations.

In short, she’s everything you’d expect from a left-of-center Democrat.  What she isn’t is a bomb-throwing radical who wants to tear down the system and build a new one. She’s not going to nationalize the banks or the energy companies, she isn’t going to nationalize healthcare, especially with the Obamacare framework put in  place. She’s not going to take away the guns. She’ll probably put in place a tougher Warren-esque regulatory environment in place. She probably won’t do Jack about guns until the political environment changes. Personally, there are far more important issues to deal with than tilting at that particular windmill.

Foreign affairs we can expect her to continue to support our allies while working for diplomatic and economic solutions. Drones? Yes. Expensive foreign occupations? No. America can not remain passive but neither can we intervene. Especially in places like the Middle East. It will take a delicate hand to thread that needle, but if anyone can, it’s her. No other politician, GOP or DEM, has that kind of experience.

Liberals, for the last 30 years this country has been slowly clawing our way back from a conservative paradigm. You will not find any sufficiently liberal politician that has a hope of winning the election and enacting their agenda. Trying for too much too fast will only hand an easy victory to conservatives. Hillary will probably win without the wellspring if support liberals can afford. In the election for president I can think of any politician that isn’t loathed by all except the base. But this isn’t about just the Presidency in tens of thousands of races are candidates that need that support. All those victories important to the liberal base at the national level can easily be undone at the state level. Millions of poor people have been denied access to healthcare because Republican governors have been sacrificing them in their puerile attempts at spiting Obamacare. Only a selfish whiny party would wallow in apathy because their candidates aren’t sufficiently liberal. Take a lesson from the last election when minorities and liberals stayed home. This country deserves the republican majorities it elected.

Christians who love gays

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Christians love all people. Allegedly. That’s the goal, anyway. When the Westboro Baptist Church says “God hates fags” this, according to them, is a message of love to the gay community. They don’t want gay people to go to hell.

We love gays, but if we would no more associate with members of the LGBT community than we would proud murders and rapists.

We love the gays but homosexuality will lead to other immoral behavior.

We love gays so long as they deny an essential part of their existence

We love gays but they’ll destroy civilization.

We love gays, but treating them well will infringe on my liberties in some nefarious fashion.

We love gays, but we won’t do business with them.

We love gays but we will deny them healthcare.

We love gays, but we will deny them housing.

We love gays but we will deny them employment.

We love LGBT folks, but we’ll kick our sons and daughters out of our homes if the person they love or wish to become does not meet with our approval.

We love sexual minorities, but we don’t want them to go to the bathroom in public.

We love gays, but they are immoral people.  The Bible says so.

Indeed it does.  There’s no denying that a strictly literal interpretation of the bible says that homosexuality is an abomination.  So… As good Christian men and women what are you going to do about it.  The bible is very specific about such things, you do not retain the option of being passive.

If you believe that homosexuals are immoral because of your interpretation of the bible, then tomorrow you must go and kill any and every gay couple you can find.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman both have committed an abomination, they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

It’s open season on the gay community.  In fact, according to Old Testament law a great many deserve to die for crimes ranging from sexual, to banal, to simply not being a Christian or Jew.  There are no exceptions, there aren’t provisions such as “4000 years from now when they invent separation of religion from law creation and enforcement then God will let you off the hook.” In fact Peter’s pretty explicit about obeying God’s laws rather than secular law.  And in addition to the number of capital offenses, let’s ignore all the other biblical laws that we’re currently ignoring. (I see you eating pork, shellfish, and playing football. tsk tsk you abomination).

If you can admit that you’re cherry picking texts from the Bible, you can admit that your hatred of others has nothing to do with Bible or religion at all.  The Bible is mere pretext and justification.

Every time you say or do something that strips away human dignity, worth, or value of a person because of their membership of a class of people, this is hate speech.  I’m confused as to why this would be a challenging concept for Christians.  After all, Christ gave many examples of what loving acceptable behavior, who could be included in generosity (Everyone) and who could be excluded (no one).  I guess we know which parts you’re cherry picking don’t we.

Post hoc morality and a gay cake

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I was the unfortunate witness to a discussion on social media regarding a letter a young woman had written to her conservative Christian church and it’s affiliated college about the struggles and pain she suffered because of her sexual orientation. The arguments against her further inclusion into the church are based around a narrow reading of scriptures and the conservative view of immorality.  They have a point, the church would not tolerate murderers and thieves and other “sinners” openly and notoriously practicing their immorality.  To anyone not lost in a well of bitterness and hatred the differences between a thief and a gay person should be abundantly clear.

I am perplexed at why liberal society must continually explain that sexual and gender orientation is not a choice.  Not only is it not a choice, but even if it was, the relationships people have is not deleterious to others.  Criminal behavior results in harm to others, that’s why it’s criminal.  Sexuality is not only not deleterious, but is exceedingly beneficial.  We want people to have healthy positive relationships.  Gay and Straight.

Let’s not kid ourselves that anti-gay bigotry is somehow intrinsic to our society or religion.  We don’t hate gay people because of some text in the bible.  We hate people because we’re small minded petty people who find hatred easier to inflict upon the world than love and acceptance.  We find justification for hatred purely after the fact.  And yes, that makes us bad people.

Now we’re going through the tale of the two gay cakes.  A gay couple wanted a cake to celebrate a wonderful event: their wedding.  They were denied.  In our system of law, you can not discriminate a class of individuals.  Not only is it morally wrong, but it creates a severe economic and social barrier to the class of individuals that impedes the order and good function of our society.  If you don’t want to celebrate a gay wedding no one is asking you to, but you do need to fulfill the social contract you’ve made with our society.

Part two of this drivel is a hate monger in the guise of a christian pastor asked a gay couple to make a cake that denigrates the gay community.  This is not the same as refusing to make a cake that celebrates something positive.  Not only that, subsequently the pastor targeted this couple and their business for continual malicious harassment that has, as of this writing, shut down the bakery.

How long are Christians going to listen to their inner demons?  How much longer are you going to harass, exclude, and vilify vulnerable members of our community. Do Christians seriously have no ability to comprehend the pain and suffering they are causing on a daily basis?  Does it not bother them?  It breaks my heart that we have so many people so steeped in rage and fear.  Whether it be homophobia, racism, or simpler secular politics, anger and fear are a disease destroying lives.

It’s time for change.  You will forever be an intellectually stunted individual until you can abandon old prejudices and xenophobia.  When you can live a life that uplifts the smallest and weakest individuals, then we can examine the intellectual underpinnings of your life.  There is no thought, no science, no philosophy beyond that which uplifts another person.

Why I supported the Iraq War decision / why I still support it

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At the risk of being called a neocon I maintain a rather flexible interventionalist strategy. I think the use of military force is appropriate sometimes, but not generally. I don’t have a clear list of doctrines governing when military intervention is appropriate. But I do think intervention in Iraq was the right thing to do both now and in the past, though for different reasons. 

At the time we were sure that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He had used them before often; there was every reason he would again. Even the most war adverse thought he had them, they just thought the matter should be resolved diplomatically or economically. In hindsite, the information was bad, and we dismissed any evidence for a counter narrative. That was unfortunate, but that doesn’t eliminate the necessity of ridding the world of the Saddam regime. He was a brutal sadistic dictator that slaughtered his people on a whim. That tolerated no descent. No freedom and threatened his neighbors on a daily basis. Before Iraq annexed Kuwait, (war was justified then, I suppose?) they had attacked Iran three times. Thank goodness their military was slightly more inept than Iran’s.  We put in place economic sanctions, we established a no-fly zone, and still Saddam committed atrocities and plundered the wealth of the Iraqi people. When Milosevic began a campaign of genocide we stepped in, was that wrong too? We’re the calls to get involved in Rwanda and Darfur similarly misguided. Saddam’s crimes are as long and unquestionable as any dictator we know. Killing him and establishing a new government was in my opinion completely justified and warranted. We can not and should not excise every evil in the world, but we were in a position to do something about it at the time. 

Of course, it didn’t work out like we’d hoped. Through incompetence on our part, and gross negligence, incompetence, corruption, childishness, and infighting in the Iraqi government doomed the Iraqi government and people to suffer subsequent events. There was always that possibility, but there was reason to hope that the Iraqi government could stabalized and prosper. Sadly religious and regional loyalties won out. At the beginning that outcome was by no means assured. Still isn’t actually. The current civil war may lead to a stronger more cohesive central state. Such things are not unheard of. Though, like the US, Reconstruction is surely going to be difficult. 

So after everything that’s happened… the Liberation turned into an occupation turned into a quagmire turned into civil war, the cost in lives and treasure, the damage done to our economy and national reputation why do I not recant? First because my initial reasons for intervention were valid. Even if it didn’t turn out well I still believe the decision to go was the right one. But having the benefit of hindsight also allows for additional reasons to go to war.  At some point Saddam’s regime would have fallen. There would have been a popular uprising, a coup, an assassination, an economic collapse or something. If nothing else Assad’s regime in Syria, and Quadaffi’s regime in Libya would has destabilized Saddam’s regime. One way or another your going to get an ISIS or something similar. With Saddam at the helm that fight gets tremendously bloody. If you think it’s bad now, think about Saddam fighting that war instead of the incompetent Maliki.  The only chance to have prevented that destabilization would have been to put an inclusive democratic government into office. It’s only a chance, but one worth taking. Unfortunately our partners are largely to blame for this. By persecuting, marginalizing, and seeking ever greater power over minorities, along with casual corruption and endemic incompetence they largely squandered that chance. But not having Saddam lead Iraq through this time of transition is a blessing that is vastly under appreciated. 

As for the Blood for Oil thing I don’t believe it. Oil is too plentiful and already too cheap to fight a big expensive war over. Your not going to get MORE oil for cheaper by destabilizing the worlds oil regions. That’s absurd. Anyone savvy enough to engineer a war would have found far more efficient solutions. Do I think Haliburton and other corporations tried to profit from it? Sure. Of course they did. But that’s different that starting the war in order to profit. Like I said, easier wars to do things. Dont get carried away by liberal conspiracies, just like you shouldn’t get carried away by conservative conspiracies. 

In short I think getting rid of Saddam Hussein’s regime was the least violent way to resolve to resolve long standing issues. I wish it could have been different, but I don’t see any other way to avoid mass casualties.