Monday, September 19, 2011

Class Warfare?

It seems that Our Trophy President is making a big push for job creation, and is using tough language to get it through congress.  He's even used the v-word (gasp!), which he hasn't used in the three and a half years we've been watching him.  He says he'll veto any bill which balances the budgets solely on the backs of ordinary people, without ending the loopholes which allow the rich to be taxed at a much lower rate.

Bully for you, Barry.  We knew you had a bit of fighter in you there, somewhere.

John Boehner, in response, said that he didn't feel "class warfare" was showing good leadership.

And with that "class warfare" comment, both Fox News and MSNBC have proceeded to fall all over each other in a comical effort to see who can miss the point the most.  This is hardly unusual - we've come to expect this kind of partisan myopia from these sound-byte generators.  And seemingly as always, I appear to be the only one in the Dairy State cursed with realizing what's going on.

The heads on the Right are insisting it's class warfare, while those on the Left are assuring us that it's not class warfare at all.  Naturally, this is all an irrelevant tangent that both sides have gone off on.  Even if it is somehow "class warfare," it does not follow that it would automatically be bad legislation as a result.  Class warfare has often produced good legislation, such as the liberation of slaves, or the sufferage of women.  So class warfare, if it is such, is entirely moot.  The question we should be asking is whether or not it is fair legislation to ensure Warren Buffet's secretary gets taxed at the same percentage rate he does.  So far, the public agrees that when Buffet highlights the discrepancy in taxation rates between low income and high income people, he's got a valid point.

That having been said, I wish to do something very rare.  For once, I'm going to agree with John Boehner!  That's right, I agree with him!  This IS class warfare.  And the Left is absolutely wrong in denying that.  But it's not class warfare of the poor against the rich.

No, it's class warfare of the rich against the poor!

And those waging the war are the ones bent on denying anything remotely close to fair opportunity to the masses, and keeping the playing field as tilted as possible in favor of the super-rich at all costs.  (Three guesses who.)  In other words, it's not the poor waging class warfare against the rich, but rather it's the poor trying to get the rich to stop waging class warfare upon them!

And to those who insist "government spending has not created one job," I assign this homework assignment: Walk up to any police officer, fireman, teacher, highway-construction laborer or groundskeeper, and ask him/her if more government money has helped create his/her job.  Yes, private industry creates most jobs, but some jobs are, in fact, government-paid, and we'd be very foolish to deny that.

It seems Our Trophy President's opponents are bent on a two-part plan: First, to keep Obama from being effective, and second, to then attack him for his ineffectiveness. (Brilliant, that!) Oh, and hope that no one fingers them as the cause of the ineptitude!

Here's a thought: How about for once, instead of making everybody suffer just to deny Obama one little victory, we let the President win one, and put people to work for once?  We need jobs now! Not after 2012!  I don't know about you, but I'm sick and damned tired of the scorched-earth mentality which is willing to sacrifice us all to the false idol of talk radio.  Someone needs to come down from the mountain and put that particular golden calf out of its misery.

Come to think of it, I wonder if maybe the golden calf of the Biblical book of Exodus was not a cow's calf, but rather an elephant's calf?


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Laws Of Human Behavior

About four days ago, Penn Jillette was a guest on the Lawrence O'Donnell show.  After the two of them watched a video clip from Michelle Bachmann's pre-political Fundamentalist days, where she ridiculously preaches that "God wants you to be a fox" (meaning sexy, although she tried to spin it into a spiritual context), they both laughed, and Penn reacted by quoting Poe's Law.  Poe's Law (for those who don't know about it) was invented by the internet debater and blogger, Nathan Poe (no relation to Edgar Allen), and goes something like this:

"Unless it is blatantly labeled as humor, no one can create a parody of Fundamentalism without someone mistaking it for the real thing."

What a brilliant thought! It illustrates so economically how religion makes one so incredibly blind to the ridiculousness of itself.  At a stroke, it describes how wild-eyed religion is a joke that its followers don't get!

It is precisely Poe's Law which explains the success of shows like The Colbert Report.  Stephen Colbert simply acts like a Fundamentalist Conservative, and it's automatically a joke! It also explains the view that some conservatives have regarding the hyper-homophobic preacher, Fred Phelps, who is seen by them as being a "deep undercover" liberal, out to discredit the fight against homosexuality by parodying it.

This leads to my corollary of Poe's Law, which goes like this:  "Unless it is blatantly labeled the real thing, no one can display Fundamentalism without someone mistaking it for a joke."

Classic example of this: Bibleman! The battle-armor-wearing superhero, portrayed by actor Willie Ames (formerly of Eight is Enough and Charles in Charge), is so face-slappingly insulting to Christians that one can't help but wonder if it wasn't invented by a bunch of atheists who were simply trying to make fun of Evangelicals.

So here's where my pondering of Poe's Law has me at a loss: It seems that one can come to the realization that certain beliefs one was raised on are silly, but it's a difficult process. It requires effort, courage, and enough receptiveness to new ideas to be able to change. In other words, you might finally get the joke, but when you do, you won't be laughing! I, for one, broke free of Fundamentalism, even when being so firmly committed to it as to want to enter the ministry and "save the world for God." But I managed to wiggle out of it when it stopped making sense. I broke my chains.

Why do I seem to be the only one?

I suppose I could try to pat myself on the back, assert to everyone that I'm of exceptional intelligence, and take all the credit. But while it's true that I happen to be a Mensa member, and probably am a little bit above average in the I.Q. department as a result, I refuse to be so narcissistic as to pass off my own liberation as "being gifted." No, I'm not a Mensa member because I'm especially gifted. I'm a member of this elite class of smart-cookies only because I kept pounding on the door of educational establishments until they finally let me in. I never declared my education "done." (And I never will.) If intelligence were likened to speed, I'm not a hare, I'm a tortoise. But I won the race, only because I refused to give up!

But even with that firm commitment to self-improvement, I still could very easily have remained a Fundamentalist.  Suppose I'd married some nice, Christian girl, and become a father? I would have found myself in a situation where leaving the faith would have meant a messy divorce, or worse. And even if I'd done so, I would still have needed to put in extra work to pay for child support, and watch the kids on alternating weeks. It would have been so much easier for me to simply remain inside the faith, even if I felt it were stupid, just for the sake of the kids, and to avoid a bad situation.

The extra time I would have been able to devote to learning, would have been gone.

And here's where I sadly realize why I seem to be one of the lucky few to have escaped the confines of my childhood indoctrination: With no spousal ties to religion, I was free to explore, and to change my mind with few consequences. With no children, I was free to spend my free time furthering my education, both in college and in private study. I avoided the "two kids and a mortgage pitfall," and so was able to dig myself out of the hole that tradition and religious upbringing threw me down into at birth.

Okay, technically, I'm not the "only one." And there are plenty of people who, with kids and mortgage both, have freed themselves of their religious limitations to be able to think freely. To them, I'll grant the title of "gifted," for gifted they indeed are. But how insufficient their numbers are to make a difference! What a small percentage they make of the overall population! This leads me to another of my own new laws, somewhat a corollary of Poe's Law, but mutually exclusive of it.  I call it the law of general stupidity.  It goes like this:

"Humanity will always be doomed to general stupidity, because the most important years of cognitive exploration, one's 20's and 30's, are wasted on child-rearing."

By the time one has sufficient time to explore the complex issue of this world, one typically is in one's mid-40's or 50's, and by that time, the limitations of the human brain simply make it un-receptive to new ideas or radical changes in thinking.  Any cognitive talents such a person has would then be spent, not embracing new truths, but defending old falsehoods. What a sad state to be in with this modern world, so full of science, and yet so populated with people ignorant of science.  We are all trapped in a tomb of our own making, committed to populating a world already overpopulated, and consigning ourselves to ignorance as we do so.

It is a testament to the evolutionary power of the sex-drive.

To those reading this with kids and mortgage, let me not leave you depressed. My "law" is not necessarily a law at all. I strongly feel that by realizing this state more fully, we can likely circumvent it. The more we realize we are the prisoners of our own upbringing, the better prepared we are to break free.  Explore the issues freely with your children! You will set the example of free inquiry to those who need it most.  And when, in your 40's and 50's, you find yourself with free time to explore again, be willing to abandon your old ideas. Never mind about pissing off mom & dad, grandma or grandpa, your friends at work, at church, Father Mokehe, or whomever. Your mind is your own.

Commit yourself to truth, no matter what conclusions you must reach.