Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Matt Taibbi on the 'Occupy Wall Street' Protests


My Thoughts:

I became interested in the Occupy Wall Street movement ever since I first heard of it. It is a shame that so many are unaware of this because sponsored news organizations have no desire to cover this story due to political allegations. News is supposed to be unbiased. Not covering this shows EXACTLY how biased the mainstream news organizations are. It is obvious that they are merely trying to protect their own self-interests. There is a lot of money to be gained through public panic. Politicians can easily use them to make the public go in whichever direction they are aiming for through careful manipulation of media coverage. In this case, they do not want attention drawn to Wall Street because they want to protect their money. Although many news organizations thrive off of public outrage such as this, it is a definitely suspicious that no one would want to cover this. Usually this happens when people have committed crimes that they do not want exposed. (Hint hint.)

Second, it is interesting how brutal the police are in response to this movement. Of course police brutality is a serious issue in many cases, but here, they have an advantage that mainstream news organizations are not covering these occurrences. In their minds, bloggers and independent news sources are going to be seen as conspiracy theorists, showing just how stupid these Koch-sponsored government officials think our people are. Then, when their actions are caught on film, they claim that the videos were doctored. How arrogant are they to think they have more of a right to abuse people than we have to voice our opinions, peacefully?

Officer Bologna, in particular, has become a perfect example of everything that injustice stands for. Police officers are just as much a part of Wall Street crimes as the rest of the country (minus the 1% of billionaires for whom this country apparently must bend over backwards for.) To me, it is sad that they cannot see what these crimes will do to their OWN careers. Or perhaps these officers have already made a deal with the devil.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Comment From Matt Taibbi's Post


Shenhav and his colleagues investigated that question in a series of studies. In the first, 882 American adults answered online surveys about their belief in God. Next, the participants took a three-question math test with questions such as, "A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?"

The intuitive answer to that question is 10 cents, since most people's first impulse is to knock $1 off the total. But people who use "reflective" reasoning to question their first impulse are more likely to get the correct answer: 5 cents.

I'm not crazy, right? Someone actually said this, and even worse, people BELIEVE this crap? This is kindergarten math and Republicans seem like they are trying to justify that it's apparently wrong. You have got to be kidding. Sadly, this does not surprise me, but I am constantly saddened when instead of trying to better our country, politicians are tying up the political system with ridiculous dribble such as this. This is just pathetic and in no way beneficial to our society.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Krugman's Controversial Comments on 9/11

After some perusing through current event and political op-ed articles today, I discovered an unsettling statement made by Donald Rumsfeld, former White House chief of staff and four-time Congressman, that goes as follows:

After reading Krugman's repugnant piece on 9/11, I cancelled my subscription to the New York Times this AM.

This, of course, was in response to Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman's comments on 9/11 in a blog post entitled "The Years of Shame." I was trying to find out what exactly made his comments "un-American" and "hateful," as so vehemently accused by many right-wing pundits. I can obviously see how these people would misconstrue what he was trying to say, being the neocons that they are, but it does not take away from the fact that the pure hatred for this post is disturbing. If anything, I thought Paul Krugman was dead-on in his post.

Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

He ends his post saying that he will not be allowing comments for obvious reasons. How deeply disconcerting is this? Paul was not slandering victims of 9/11 or belittling the affects of the tragedy in any way. Of course, part of the problem lies with the fact that GOP does not want to believe that any non-Americans were just as much victims of this violence as our own American families. It is completely insane to believe that our government committed these atrocities for justice. Just because we don’t literally fly planes into buildings does not mean that we are not just as much terrorists as those who committed the atrocious crimes against our people. Your true character is how you act under pressure. You cannot preach about “loving your enemies” and then go blow them up.

For the sake of the GOP opinion on this matter, if we had focused these wars on going after Osama, the story would be different, but we didn’t. We invaded Iraq which had nothing to do with 9/11 at all. This was undoubtedly a diversion. You cannot think that people do not realize what you are doing just because you spew 9/11 propaganda at everyone. What happened to our people on 9/11 was utterly appalling, but using it as a propaganda tool for your own self-interests is just as awful, in my opinion.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Why Conservative Views on Sex Are Harmful

Besides the already necessary and controversial rights people have to their own bodies (regardless of issues of abortion, STD's, sex education, gay rights, contraceptives, and rape), there is one fundamental issue that needs to be addressed regarding Conservatism and sex. As I personally study Anthropology, I am aware that one of the most obvious anthropological markers regarding human sexuality involves fetishism. Note, when I say sexual fetishism, I do not condemn unique desires; I am using this as more of an anthropological term rather than the colloquial term. Fetishism is generally thought of with the idea of possessing and committing "weird" erotic acts and fantasies, S & M, and bondage, etc., but the term has many meanings. In this sense, this idea of fetishism in a world of sexual repression has to do with more harmfully deviating from normal boundaries and developing intense biological and psychological responses out of a sense of desperation and lack of identity. People must understand that sexual fetishism, sexual violence, and seemingly strange erotic behavior actually arise from sexually repressed societies. Many people (especially Conservatives) think that the more we recognize sex, the more crime, violence, pedophilia, and general disturbances will surface. We must understand that this is absolutely not the case.

When societies do not treat sex as a controversial subject, people are more apt to view it as a normal part of life. Repressed societies that regard coitus as sinful and not normal cause people to act out their already biologically-instilled desires, but in harmful ways. Now re-imagine those places again and evaluate their market for sex workers and sex slaves compared to the more sexually liberated countries. It is not a new idea that more repression leads to more violence. Our negative attitudes toward sex coupled with our biological desires to procreate can lead to very dangerous and confusing activity, thus we have created numerous subcultures of sexual fetishism. People regard sex as something non-important and unnecessary. Yet, think about how many have KILLED over sex from the issue of cheating spouses to domestic violence. I am not saying those repercussions are in any way, shape, or form right, I am merely pointing out that sex IS important and IS a major aspect of our lives whether we like it or not. Acting as if it is not and should not be significant is exceedingly detrimental to our society. Our bodies do not have an agenda.
And now, as I know this will come up, people may be inclined to say that sexual violence has risen in modern times compared to earlier times. Let this be clear: though the statistics may show that a larger number of people have reported sexual violence, think about a.) how much bigger the population is now, and b.) how likely it was for people to report sexual violence in earlier times. I understand many do not really understand this concept, but (since women are the largest group of sexual violence recipients) we must remember that women did not have rights like men did. Back in the “golden days” women had to prove that they were raped. Husbands were legally allowed to rape their wives, and the law had more concern over men who were not their husbands, specifically strangers (acquaintances did not matter very much either unless there was a great deal of physical damage) raping and beating women. If a woman was raped but did not have physical wounds, it did not matter. Therefore, it was very unlikely for women to report rape as, oftentimes, they were the ones viciously blamed for it. Not to mention also that at certain points in history, it was not necessarily considered rape to be with a child, and the likelihood of same sex couples or same sex abuse victims to report any kind of violence was slim due to our wonderful society’s oh-so-lovely “compassion” we have toward other beings.
So, basically, the answer is no, sexual crime has NOT increased with our increase in acceptance and education, and it is completely ignorant to think so.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Rules: You Shouldn't Be Allowed to Vote If...

1. If you pronounce "Constitution" with extra vowels while simultaneously looking like Ted Nugent.
2. If you have ever ridden a lawnmower to check your mail.
3. If you have ever, at one time in your life, eaten microwaved Walmart turkey during Thanksgiving while having a mullet.
4. If you think the National Anthem should be "Dueling Banjos."
5. If you think your God's cock is bigger than everyone else's.
6. If you have ever called someone "a Jihad."
7. If you fail to believe in adverbs.
8. If you call the word evolution "evilution."
9. If your idea of healthcare is to marry a Canadian.
10. If you call a non-white friend your [insert ethnicity/group here] friend.
11. If you think Jesus loves you while simultaneously sharing your hatred for homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.
12. If the only gay club you approve of is a baton.
13. If you have ever flogged hobos with a 2 x 4.
14. If you've ever complained about liberal bias in the obituaries section.
15. If you think smeared bagels are victims of the New York Times.
16. If you think "proletariat" is a type of cheese.
17. If you believe Huey Newton is a cookie.
18. If you have ever told a child that Oscar the Grouch lives in a trash can because he is lazy and doesn't contribute to society.
19. If you argue that you need 300 machine guns in case a bear attacks your home.
20. If you have ever spotted Jesus in a 3 week old container of yogurt.

*Note* - This post is purely for humor purposes. I do believe in equal expression of opinions, just in case that argument were to ever come up...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Politics, from an Anthropological Standpoint

Anthropologically speaking, politics was meant to be an altruistic system. It has strayed so far from that. People have been taught to be frightened of politics so that they have no impact and no voice, and thus the corrupt are easily able to use this to their advantage. It was not just Obama and the Democrats who were being extorted during this debt deal - everyone was (though we still have to be infuriated over the actions that have been taking place, but that is another story...), because those who claim to not have an opinion are the ones GOP relies on. Many think that fear is good for society...that people should fear God and know their place. But power based on fear is NOT a "blessing" for humanity and never will be. There is this odd (and false) version of Darwinian evolution that many capitalist Republicans incessantly regurgitate to the masses. They tell the public that we were created for greatness and power. The strong survive and the weak die. It's not their fault, that's just the way life is. That is the way it was intended and who are we to disrupt the system? This mindset is completely false and demeans the very idea of evolution. Humans came to be through altruism. Our intelligence was used for creating families and support systems. We were not meant to take over the world. We were meant to help others, yet Republicans find that so hard to believe. If this was not true, we would not be in such a financial, environmental, and ethical state of crisis right now. But of course GOP refuses to believe that as well. By not using our brains we are denying what it is to be human. We are essentially murdering our own kind. At least that's what we do when we disregard the human casualties of not only our actions, but our inactions.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Blast From The Past - Essay I Wrote on Iraq and the Privatization of War

If I could die for anything, I would die for the end of warfare. For the last half century, the U.S. government has directly, or through proxies, carried out campaigns of terror and repression on every continent. It was the U.S. government that armed and trained many different groups of people and countries, setting them on the path of terrorism. Pending the September 11 attacks, politicians, corporate leaders, and many others called for retaliation. They felt they needed to bomb someone in order to show that they were in control of the situation, which happens to be the same lashing out that motivated the morally indefensible attacks in the first place. All we are doing is feeding an unending cycle of destruction, death, and retaliation. This creates a pattern of violence including invasions, aerial bombardment, assassination, repression, oppression, sponsorship of bloody counterrevolutions and military coups, and dawdling starvation through economic attacks. Any decent human being would say that there are inevitable problems with sending a country's children to fight a cause that is unnecessarily and devastatingly unscrupulous. This must end before there is nothing left in this world.

The amount of money that goes to war alone is enough to cause outrage. This money could be used to better the country and the lives of its citizens, as well as fix our economic, political, and corrupt policies within our own nation. This does not mean that America should not help other countries, however, exploitation, invasion, oppression, depression, and repression are immensely decadent, intolerable actions that should never be used as a means for economic opportunity. This is what war has become: profit. In Francis Ferguson's article "The Privatization of War," he talks about military privatization for profit. "Since 2000, there has been a huge increase in private contracts let by the US government. Spending on private contractors has risen from $174.4 billion to $377.5 billion, an increase of 86%. Over this same period, private contractors' collections for the Department of Defense increased from $133 billion to $279 billion annually, an increase of 102.3%. These expenditures represent a unique new source of revenue and profit for American business, because much of what it being purchased are services which would previously have been done by military personnel."

Basically, by shifting to private contractors, workers can be hired in low wage nations and put to work doing menial labor. This is not cheap, however. Contractors such as Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) charge substantial sums of money for meals, laundry and other services provided, and still pay minimal wages for the workers in order to have an increase in financial gain. What was once a relatively minor expense to taxpayers has now become a major source of revenue for private companies. Ferguson also mentions that "in addition to new opportunities for profit in a war theater, there are new opportunities for corruption. Third World contract workers have reported their employers withholding their passports, effectively making them indentured servants. KBR and its subsidiaries have been discovered charging premium prices for meals they never served and with supplying contaminated drinking water to the troops. Government investigators report literally billions of dollars have gone missing with no accounting for who received them or what was done with the money."

When US troops provided their own logistics and support, prospects for economic gain arose largely through the provision of supplies. Many businesses supplied food, vehicles, weapons, airplanes, trucks, jeeps, tanks, ships and other necessary equipment. This ended up requiring military personnel to support other soldiers during warfare because none of these soldiers were (or are) paid very much. The cost of logistics, while significant, was a relative labor cost bargain. The military made no profit on the work performed by GIs, but this is no longer true.

By just looking at the amount of war spending in Iraq, there is an inevitable disconnect--a large sum of money that is not going to the causes that taxpayers pay for. As seen below, the amount of money spent on the war in Iraq is undoubtedly immense.

Spent & Approved War-Spending

About $900 billion of US taxpayers' funds spent or approved for spending through Sept 2010.

U.S. 2009 Monthly Spending in Iraq

$7.3 billion as of Oct 2009

U.S. 2008 Monthly Spending in Iraq

$12 billion

U.S. Spending per Second

$5,000 in 2008 (per Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on May 5, 2008)

Cost of deploying one U.S. soldier for one year in Iraq

$390,000 (Congressional Research Service)

Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq

$9 billion of US taxpayers' money and $549.7 million in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors. Also, per ABC News, 190,000 guns, including 110,000 AK-47 rifles.


$1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces. (Per CBS News on Dec 6, 2007.)

As the US began to get further into recession, economists wondered why the massive government spending on Afghanistan and Iraq did not provide much economic stimulus. Some may say that World War II brought an immediate end to the Great Depression, yet a current $600 billion dollar defense budget (not counting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) does little to stop the emerging recession. Part of this effect results from the fact that "we were already spending well over $300 billion on the military prior to 9/11, whereas the US defense budget was trivial prior to the beginning of World War II," according to Ferguson. The other reason for the minimal economic stimulus is a result of a large amount of the expenditure used to fund wages and corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, a very high probability of military spending is being used to buy imported consumer goods, which in turn, providing stimulus, to our economic allies such as China.

So why support all the privatization and imperialism? If there is one thing that I know, the death of thousands of people during combat is tragic enough to deride, despite the amount of military personnel, civilian lives, money, cities, countries, and continents that go unaccounted for in these "wars against terror," especially when the countries we are invading are the ones who oppose it the most. When looking at statistics about the occupation in Iraq, the percentage of Iraqis strongly opposed to presence of coalition troops is 82%, Iraqis who believe Coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security is less than 1%, Iraqis who feel less secure because of the occupation is 67%, and Iraqis who do not have confidence in multi-national forces is 72%. War is not necessary and it is in fact a menace to society. I would propose a war on war itself, but that would be contradictory to my actual objectives. If one individual does not have the right to kill, then what makes one billion individuals have the right? As Ernest Hemingway once said, "Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime."