The Good Guys

hitlerPearl_HarborAmericans consider my grandfather’s to be our Greatest Generation. Those who fought in World War II against the most despicable human in recent history, in Hitler, and the Japanese who had brutally attacked Pearl Harbor and deployed kamikazes.

NagasakibombBut in doing so, we became the only humans to use an atomic bomb against civilians. And then another, proving that we could raze cities full of human beings with either plutonium or uranium. Japanese-Americans were demonized & fear-mongered to the point that we threw our own citizens into internment camps. We firebombed dozens of Japanese cities, Tokyo most devastatingly. As well as German cities, most infamously Dresden. We sent Jewish refugees back to Nazi Germany. Meanwhile back at home, a culture of perpetual terrorism against blacks.

What_to_do_for_Uncle_Sam;_a_first_book_of_citizenship_(1918)_(14761170606)So, if our greatest generation did some of the worst things Americans have ever done, when exactly did our actions match the rosy American Exceptionalism ideal that we’ve been conditioned to celebrate?

Columbus._Wellcome_M0007952Columbus wasn’t American, he never even set foot here – he was just lost. We credit him with discoveringHispaniola (current Haiti/Dominican Republic), even though there were as many as 3 million natives on the island. His diaries depict a brute. He notes how the generosity & kindness of the natives would render them an easy conquest. They were wiped out (killed/enslaved) within 50 years of Columbus’ arrival. And yet, we celebrate this savage every year (though more cities are instead celebrating Indigenous People’s Day).

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Andrew Jackson

john wayne The_searchers_Ford_Trailer_screenshot_(8)Speaking of natives, everyone knows that we stole the land while committing a nearly-complete genocide. We stash the few that remain on reservations, and let them sell casinos & fireworks. Especially odd is our thirst for victim-hood – portraying cowboys as prey of the natives. We nostalgize their savagery!

Our Thanksgiving myth is also an ahistorical white-washing. We were already about the genocide by the time of the first Thanksgiving, it was simply confined to a relatively small area.

Marshallplanmoonlanding_commemorative_stamp_10cThis is not an attack on tradition or patriotism. After all, we were the first officially secular nation. We (eventually) fought Hitler. The Marshall Plan rebuilt Europe following years of brutal war, turning enemies into allies, and winning the battle of morality, along with hearts & minds the world over. We won race to the moon. We’ve had great innovators and artists.

uncle samOur founders were great thinkers, as evidenced by the documents & achievements they produced. But sadly, they wrote 3/5ths, and many owned slaves themselves. The best of us, and the best of times, have consistently succumbed to moral short-comings.

Prayer_for_USATry as we might, we don’t get to simply proclaim that we are the proverbial shining city on the hill. This distinction is an ongoing struggle, and determined by our actions from moment to moment. It requires generosity & restraint. It requires that we not stoop to the level of people we call the bad guys. It requires that we not be arrogant & reflexive. It requires that we make wise & moral decisions – especially when doing so is the more difficult & nuanced alternative that doesn’t fit into easy-to-consume-and-regurgitate sound bites & talking points.

Gandhi_03Attaining, much less maintaining, such a level of thoughtfulness & maturity is difficult. But that is exactly what we demand of ourselves when we profess to be exceptional. And requires that we not be ignorant of our past mistakes, so that we begin to see beyond our biased, America-centric perspective.

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pvt manningFour hundred American journalists were coerced into pushing government-approved propaganda in the 1950s under Operation Mockingbird. Today, six corporations control roughly 90% of American media – from movies & television to books & magazines. Biased infotainment is packaged as news. Our government threatens actual journalists with charges of espionage, and tortures their sources/whistle-blowers. We have textbooks which refer to African slaves as migrant workers. We say the War of 1812, forgetting that (it was an off-shoot of the Napoleonic Wars, and that) we were even involved, let alone wanting to annex-us a little bit of Canada.

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Susan B. Anthony

Donald_Spitz_holds_anti-abortion_signWomen couldn’t vote until a hundred years ago, and we still haven’t elected a female leader. Despite Roe, women (especially poor women) only have a semblance of bodily autonomy in much of the country. They are slut-shamed. They are looked upon with skepticism (or outright blamed) when raped on college campuses and in the military. This while hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits gather dust. Women are paid less for the same work. Assertiveness is seen as bitchiness. Along with Papua New Guinea, we have no paid maternity leave. Yet, we have MRA alpha-males who think women are keeping them down.Reagan_Boraxo

BenPhelpsHarvey_Milk_in_former_Castro_CameraTransgender individuals are berated & attacked in the streets. Though the fight for marriage equality seemed to be won fairly swiftly, generations of our gay brothers & sisters have been tortured, both physically & emotionally. The Reagan administration slow-footed funding for research and saw AIDS as a punch-line – as a gay thing. Suicide & homelessness rates are still extraordinarily high. There still are no federal protections against housing or employment discrimination. And we still have presidential candidates whose political platforms openly embrace legalized discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

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President and Michelle Obama at the Door of No Return in Senegal

Jim Crow

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Dred Scott

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My ancestors kidnapped slaves from their homes, and brutalized them on slave-ships. We beat away their (names, heritage, and) religious customs, replacing them with one that instructs slaves to bow their heads and submit, because spiritual rewards would come in another lifetime. We built this country literally on the backs of slaves (even the White House). And not historically typical slaves, who would’ve had lost in battle, or been indebted or criminal. Ours were slaves for their pigment. Dehumanized. Easy to rape & torture. Easy to rip families apart & terrorize.

ferguson11occupy wake upEven in the text of our founding documents. Even after the country was split in two over slavery in civil war, even after Reconstruction – we had Dred Scott. Thousands of lynchings went unpunished, destruction of Black Wall Street, Jim Crow, Tuskeegee experiments, red-lining, urban flight followed by gentrification. Interracial marriage was illegal until around the time my dad was born. It took the assassination of both JFK & MLK just to get the Voting Rights Act – which is now being decimated by a supreme court which says both that racism has spread beyond the South, and is a thing of the past. We have the War on Drugs and minimum sentencing guidelines leading to mass incarceration like no other nation (5% of earth’s population, and 25% of earth’s prisoners), and which is disproportionately applied to blacks.

Black_Lives_Matter_Black_Friday_(15926683602)Black_Lives_Matter_Black_Friday_(15305650544)Despite persistent video evidence of unarmed black folks being murdered by law enforcement – who are rarely, if ever, punished. The suggestion that perhaps Black Lives Matter as well somehow demands rejoinder and derision by those who reply with All Lives Matter & Blue Lives Matter.

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James Comey

flag2To the point that 58% of the country believes, counter-intuitively and despite all evidence to the contrary, that there is a war on cops. During this – literally the safest – time to have a job in law enforcement in US history. FBI Director James Comey says (as do others) that violent crime is spiking (though it’s not) because cops are too afraid to do their jobs without carte blanche to violate (dark and/or poor) people’s rights with impunity.

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It’s always been this way. While blacks have been the perpetual American punching bags, we don’t discriminate in our discrimination – every single wave of immigrants & refugees are perceived as others. Ne’er-do-wells to be finger-pointed & fear-mongered, for at least a little while. ‘Murican hazing, as it were.

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Capone

The Irish were seen as drunken imbeciles & gang members when they came to Ellis Island, but they eventually just became white people (see, default American). Italians were particularly violent gang members, until they eventually too were allowed into the club. There’s always a number of anti-Semites (they’re not Christians, so…). Occasionally some mouth-breathing knuckle-dragger will attack a Jewish center and accidently murder some Christians (bigots generally aren’t too bright). But most Americans consider Jews to simply be white, as well.

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Fred Korematsu

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We used Chinese immigrants for the back-breaking work of laying our railways, while denying them basic rights, and enacting prohibition on their (real or perceived) vice. The internment of 110k Japanese-Americans (70% of whom were born here) during WWII was certainly unfortunate. The nukes & the fire-bombing during WWII were questionable, at best. While attempting to overthrow a communist North Vietnamese regime in the 1950’s, we propped up tyrants in the South. We lied about our destroyer being torpedoed in the Gulf of Tonkin as an excuse for war. We used chemical weapons on civilians (and our own) in our disastrous & despicable foray into Vietnam. Hundreds of civilians were slaughtered in the My Lai massacre. The CIA carried out numerous coups in Laos before sending in bombers, turning a quarter of Laotians into refugees. We buy iPads & dollar items from China, produced via child-labor & slave-like working conditions. And we say: Hey, tiger moms make for smart/hard-working Asian kids – at least the stereotype is positive for once, right?

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Papa Doc

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We stole Texas from Mexico, along with our entire Southwest. We supported Papa Doc (and Baby Doc) Duvalier in Haiti. In the Dominican Republic & Guatemala – we were involved in assassinations, coups & attempted coups, supporting a military junta even overtly with our military. Largely for US corporate interests. Hence, Banana Republic. Our CIA was involved in coups in Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, & Cambodia (leading to the Khmer Rouge regime). We supported dictators & tyrants in El Salvador & Nicaragua (Iran-Contra). We taught governments in Uruguay & Honduras to better & more often torture their people.

Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_4Ann_Coulter_2012_Shankbone_6Fascists such as Donald Trump & Ann Coulter are rewarded for their hate-speech against Mexicans (and xenophobia more broadly). ‘Muricans cry about illegals (humans aren’t aliens, btw) while demanding a higher and higher wall to keep those peopleout.
Even though net migration from Mexico has been less than zero since 2010, and walls don’t stop tunnels or airplanes. (Also, walls keep seasonal workers in, who permanently bring along their families.) Politicians are talking about revoking birthright citizenship as they shout about anchor babies (see, babies, aka American citizens), undoing one of our most basic values, and reverting to pre-Margna Carta level human rights. Presidential candidates have recommended armed drones patrolling the border, and rounding up 11 million people with deportation squads.

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Mosaddegh
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Rumsfeld & Hussein

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The most intense (post-9/11) hatred in America is reserved, without question, for Arabs. Muslims specifically, but Sikhs (non-Muslim, yet turban adorned) are occasionally caught in the cross-hairs (again, bigots aren’t too bright). Indonesia has more Muslims than any other country, and there are 3 million Muslim-Americans. But we when we say Muslim, we see Arab, though they are generally interchangeable (like Hispanic/Latino) when speaking American. Britain, France (& Russia) divvied up Middle East control with Sykes-Picot, resulting in nonsensical political boundaries sans ethnic/tribal/religious considerations. We (along with the UK) overthrew the democratically elected leader of Iran in order to prop up a monarchy. We overthrew the democratically elected leader of Indonesia with a military coup, leading to the murder of up to a million suspected communists, many of whom were identified by the US. We gave weapons to Saddam Hussein, until he started using them on ethnic Kurds in Iraq, and invaded Kuwait. So we went to war with our former ally. The post-9/11 Iraqi government banned Saddam’s Baathists from government and military positions, leading to the formation of Daesh(ISIS) We funded Osama Bin Ladin & the Mujahideen in the 1980s – propping up religious fundamentalists in order to aid the demise of the godless Soviet commies.

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Speaking of 9/11, we lied about WMDs in order to justify our illegal invasion of Iraq, one of numerous unprosecuted war crimes carried out in our name since the attacks. We lock people away without charge and torture them now. We kill civilians, seemingly indiscriminately & far from any battlefield, and we posthumously label them enemy combatants, or collateral damage, at best.

 

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Erdogan
Erdogan

We unquestionably support the Israeli government -Netanyahu’s Likud party specifically – while they continue to house Palestinians the worlds’ largest out-door prison. And continue to expand their occupation, while denying statehood to the Palestinian people. We give billions annually to Egypt, who execute protesters and political prisoners, in exchange for keeping Israel’s western border secure. We support (NATO member) Turkey, whose government is killing Kurds while claiming to attack Daesh, while allowing Daesh to cross the border and sell their oil on the black market. Since they sell cheap oil and keep embargos at bay, we support Saudi Wahhabis, who not only behead people regular basis, but who fund numerous terrorist organizations, including Daesh.

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Hobby Lobby Holly

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We recently bombed a Medecins Sans Frontieres (DwoB) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. We initially claimed that the bombing was an accident, since the Taliban were launching attacks near-by. Then it was an accident, because our Afghan allies called in the air strike, supposedly because they are upset that DwoB refuse to take sides in conflict, and roughly 20 Taliban were being treated at the time of the attack. Then it was an accident, but it was our special ops who called it in at behest of the Afghans, who haven’t the authority. Then it was on purpose, because the Taliban were attacking from inside the hospital (which DwoB denies), but correct procedure was not followed by special ops, who were suspended. But don’t worry, nothing to see here. It’s not a war crime, because we are the good guys, and we wouldn’t do that.

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Except for when we do – we bombed the Red Cross in Afghanistan in 2001. A pharmaceutical plant in Sudan in 1998. A formula plant (and an air-raid facility) in Iraq in 1991.

Ebola_virionsWe’re ruthless bastards. In response to Ebola, we wanted to ban travel to/from Africa altogether, even when experts claimed doing so would be counter-productive in containing Ebola. No matter. Trump said Ebola doctors must suffer the consequences. Chris Christie is being sued by a doctor who he had quarantined.

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In 1939, we refused the MS St. Louis, containing 900 Jewish refugees, and returned them to Germany, where a third of them were killed by Nazis. We protested bus-loads of refugees fleeing cartels in the south.

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Assad

Daash flagNow, we are again faced with refugees fleeing madmen in Syria (Assad) and Iraq. We call Daesh the most vicious murderers since the Nazis, and though they exist partly as result of our own doing, we are again proving heartless.
And stupid.

In response to the attacks in Paris, we are shutting out Syrian refugees via bureaucracy. Despite the fact that it’s much, much easier to get a Visa and a plane ticket than the 18-24 months already required to be approved for refugee status from Syria through the UN, and the US State Department, Dept of Homeland Security… And despite the fact that the Paris murderers were from France & Belgium, from whence even the Visa becomes unnecessary.

anti muslim Protest_(19255393196)Worse than the irrational stupidity & ignorance in policy-making, is the fear-mongering of Muslims. Mayors & state legislators have suggested internment camps. The blatant & worsening Islamophobia slithering its way throughout the country is extremely disturbing. Presidential candidates are talking about shuttering mosques & creating religious tests, registries, & special identification for Muslims. Trump insists thousands of Muslim-Americans in New Jersey celebrated on 9/11, and that we must bring back torture since that’s why we got Bin Ladin (also untrue). We have thought-leaders talking about nuclear first-strikes, and rabid bumpkins at town-meetings threatening Muslims & saying they’re all terrorists.

statue1This is our test. This is when our values & resolve are tested & refined. This is how we win the battle of morality & integrity in the eyes of the world. This is what it means to be free – what it means to be the best.

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Paris, and the Lessons of 9/11


As everyone is well aware, murderous mad men rampaged through Paris, killing and wounding hundreds of innocent people. While the attacks were horrific in both scope and savagery, we must ensure that our response is not to lash out in a haze of revenge, and do all the wrong things, as we did following 9/11.

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North_face_south_tower_after_plane_strike_9-11When nearly everyone is talking about a given subject, there are bound to be a wide range of perspectives, and people tend to fall back onto their previous biases. For instance, some are noting that while seemingly everyone has changed their facebook profile picture in support of Parisians, hardly anyone noticed the bombings in Beirut two days earlier, or the funeral bombing in Baghdad, or the Russian passenger plane. Others are responding to the #PrayforParis meme with disdain, believing that religion was the impetus for the heinous Paris attacks in the first place.

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Donald Trump is saying that we should shutter mosques and create special identification and a federal database for tracking Muslims. Newt_Gingrich_CaricatureNewt Gingrich is (along with Trump) blaming the victims for their national position on gun safety laws.
Marco Rubio is (along with Trump) calling for the shuttering of mosques (and diners). Ben Carson is comparing Syrian refugees with rabid dogs, and calling for a database tracking not only Muslims, but all “foreigners.” Mike Huckabee is comparing Syrian refugees to E. coli and tainted milk; and saying that we should seal our borders and renege on the Iran nuclear deal. Jeb Bush is saying that we should only allow Christian refugees into the country. Chris Christie is saying that we should not allow even orphaned toddler refugees from Syria. Ted Cruz is saying that we should be okay with bombing more innocent civilians. Lindsey Graham is banging the drums for more war in Syria.

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Schumer

Paul_Ryan,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressHouse Speaker Paul Ryan is saying that we should suspend taking in any Syrian refugees, and the GOP-controlled House passed a budget cutting off funding for bringing in refugees from Syria, forcing a possible government shutdown in a few weeks – and soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY, and yes, they’re related) is already talking about caving.

Sharia-law-BillboardDon't_hate,_communicate_-_Save_Auslan_TAFE_Diploma_course_protestdonotslamgateThis fear-mongering of Muslims, and of Syrian refugees specifically, is disgusting. As with the immigration debate, it simply makes no sense. The application process for refugee status takes 18-24 months. But all you need to come here is a passport and a plane ticket. And if you are from Western Europe, as the Paris attackers were (along with a few thousand other Daesh members), you don’t even need the passport. Yet no one is calling for travel bans from Europe – funny that. By shunning Muslim refugees, and with so many people saying in politics, at town hall meetings, in the media; that Muslims in general are evil and unwelcome – we are partnering with Daesh in forcing people to choose between their caliphate and apostasy. The argument to cruelly refuse Syrian refugees, in order to keep us safe from Daesh murderers, is not simply ugly, it’s just plain stupid, and it helps the bad guys.

StLouisHavanaAdolf_HitlerUnfortunately, people in fear are easily manipulated. In 1939, 60% of Americans wanted to keep out Jewish refugees from Germany. The MS St. Louis, holding roughly 900 Jewish refugees from Germany, was shunned from Florida. A third of them were killed by the Nazis. Now, France is taking in 30,000 Syrian refugees. Yet in the US, we are debating whether we should still allow a miniscule 10,000. Whether we should push women and children into the murderous clutches of mad men. We’re heartless. We have no sympathy, and we are allowing murderers to terrorize us into giving up on the very values and freedoms that they want us to abandon.bush defense

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Phil Donahue
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Dixie Chicks

There will be many proposed solutions in response to Paris, which will be supposed and portrayed as meant to keep us safe. It’s tried and true – this is exactly what followed 9/11. (Remember freedom fries? Ironic.) Both the 9/11 hijackers and funding were Saudi – but they sell cheap oil. People in power who already wanted to go to war in Iraq lied, to the point that 70% us agreed to go to war there instead. People opposed were called un-American. Journalists & artists were jettisoned & ostracized. The Authorization for Use of Military Force from 2002 is being used now to legally justify war in Syria (& Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan…). We are playing into the hands of Daesh by sending more of our young men and women to Syria where they can be killed. And we are playing into their religious nuttery (and helping recruitment) by acting out their Damascus doomsday scenario in real life.

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NSA fake logoWe passed the Patriot Act after 9/11, which has been used to basically maneuver around the Bill of Rights. The alphabet boys lap up all of our communications and store them in the NSA’s Utah Data Center for years, just in case. Now they are blaming Ed Snowden for Paris, and saying we need laws for back-doors to encryption. When they have so much data, they cannot possibly vet it with any semblance of efficacy. They have failed to provide a single instance of metadata surveillance foiling an actual plot (Boston should’ve been easy) – and the Paris murderers were previously known, had appeared in magazines, and used SMS – so metadata and encryption have nothing at all to do. Fourth Amendment protections against suspicionless search & seizure may as well no longer exist.

Lt. Cmdr. John McCain
Lt. Cmdr. John McCain

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Dzhokhar_TsarnaevWe paid a couple of asshats $85m to dig up old torture techniques used against American POWs in WWII, and we started using them ourselves on (Muslim) prisoners at Abu Ghraib. We water-boarded over 180 times, until he finally said that Sadaam Hussein had his people training alongside al-Qaeda, justifying the illegal invasion of Iraq. John McCain was tortured into saying that he hated America as a POW. Torture only works on . We still torture people at GITMO – rectal rehydration comes to mind. Obama promised to close GITMO, and most of the prisoners have been cleared for release, but every budget has included specific language banning funding for prison-transfer to the ADX supermax in Florence, Colorado where Tsarnaev is rotting, and we won’t allow them to return to their home countries. Guess we forgot about the 8th Amendment, and that whole cruel & unusual punishment thing.

Anwar_al-Awlaki_sitting_on_couch,_lightenedBarack_Obama_with_a_portrait_of_Robert_Gibbs_youngWe suspended habeas corpus after 9/11, 6th Amendment be damned. They can lock you up forever without charge now. No right to face your accuser. That’s pre-Magna Carta level civil liberties we’re talking about. When your accuser is a drone or a missile, there’s no way to turn yourself in. If the gov’t determines you to be either an ongoing or immediate threat, and capture would put US personnel at significant risk, you can be executed on the spot. Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki was a 16 year-old from Denver searching for his father in Yemen. He was killed at a café by drone strike. He didn’t know that his father (and bad guy) Anwar al-Awlaki, also an American citizen, was targeted and killed by drone strike two weeks prior. Our gov’t refuses to acknowledge whether teenage Abdul was indeed targeted, but then-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs infamously argued that he should have “had a more responsible father” as justification.

drone1We do signature strikes, where we don’t know even know who it is that we are killing. We use metadata, so we literally target a cell phone, and whoever has it at the time is killed. We’ve attacked wedding parties and funerals. Sometimes it’s collateral damage from a specific target. Sometimes it’s just suspicious behavior, such as a large gathering or a caravan. All males of military-age are labeled enemy combatants, unless they can posthumously prove to the US government otherwise.

airport scanThey either naked-scan us, or feel us up, and since someone put a bomb in their shoe, now we all take our shoes off at the airport. Pat downs at sporting events are now commonplace.

In October, we purposely bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan for an hour, despite repeated calls from the hospital for relief. Our government initially said that it was an accident, that the hospital wasn’t the target. Then they claimed that our Afghan allies called in the strike, before admitting finally that the hospital was indeed purposely targeted by US forces, but at behest of our Afghan allies, that it was simply a case of some lower-level mishandling, and not by any means a war crime.

flag2statue 6When we kill innocent people, especially when we then deny that they were innocents, we are not defeating our enemies, we are only causing them to multiply. When we lock people up and torture them for decades, they get to point and legitimately call us the bad guys. We cannot claim to wear the white hat when we stoop to the level of terrorists – when we act as though they are terrible for cutting people’s heads off, while we hug people to death with freedom missiles (and while our allies, the Saudi government, behead people practically daily.) When we surrender our freedoms and greatest values for the façade of security, we get neither, we are defeated, we are no longer America. We cannot give in to the feelings of fear and blind rage in reactionary flailing about following terrible events such as we saw in Paris.japanesepledge

The Oldest Profession

how1Prostitution is a crime punishable by death in Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Sudan. In Germany and India, prostitution is perfectly legal. Same with about half of Australia – and Spain, though there are related fines in Barcelona. Prostitution is legal in Japan, excluding vaginal sex (oddly enough). Then there’s Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, where it’s legal to be a sexual entrepreneur, but not to be the john/trick/consumer. Phone_box_prostitute_calling_cards_1

We have legalized prostitution in Las Vegas, and underground brothels in places like New York.  We must end the criminalization of prostitution in the United States, which is both immoral and impractical.

Ron_Jeremy,_dirtybob Jenna_Jameson,_Nikki_Tyler_2001Because freedom. Two (or more) consenting adults should have every right to express themselves sexually as they see fit. Key words being: consenting, and adults. If all parties involved are consenting adults, then introducing money into the equation simply makes it a business transaction. We already treat prostitution in this manner all throughout the country, so long as a camera is involved. We require that the actors prove their age, records of which the feds can inspect at any time. They are generally tested for STIs twice a month. They pay their taxes.

Stripper_em_preto_e_brancoStripper_with_garters_on_poleWe should treat sexual entrepreneurs in a similar manner. Require that they apply and qualify or a business licence. Require regular physicals. We shouldn’t revoke licences from those living with certain infections, because there would be clientele with the same. They should, however, be required to disclose any and all STIs to clientele. (Professionals may require that customers provide their test results prior to any consensual business transaction.)  We could restrict certain forms of advertising. Zoning with consideration for schools, as we do with strip clubs. (As an aside, it’s horrible how we allow employers to label dancers as independent contractors, robbing them of Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare…)Key_West_Mardi_Gras_Lounge

There are only puritanical excuses to ban prostitution (which boil down to the want of some to punish sexual activity out of wedlock, and to render women dependent upon men), there are not valid reasons.

Attributed_to_Kusakabe_Kimbei_(1841–1934),_Yoshiwara_Girls,_Japan,_1890s,_albumen_silver_print_with_hand_coloring,_HMA12743385_f260Most importantly, the lives of sex workers would be vastly improved. Criminalization pushes legitimate an otherwise legitimate practice onto the black market, and pushes vulnerable individuals into the arms (and backhands) of pimps.  Rather than physically abusive pimps, prostitutes should be dealing with landlords, accountants, bureaucrats, and physicians. Quality of life would increase tremendously, with vastly increased incomes, and decreased stigmatization. Sex workers would have much safer business locations. As it stands now, a john can stiff a prostitute, who cannot report the theft to police, and will likely be beaten by their pimp for losing the money, before being sent back out on the street.

The White Slave
The White Slave

Child_prostitute_in_1871The negative aspects of prostitution are because the practice has been criminalized, not because they are inherent. No one likes child-trafficking. If prostitution was legalized and regulated, qualified entrepreneurs would conduct business in the proverbial daylight and off of the streets. Child-victims would lack proper licencing, all the easier to capture and charge their abusers. If we ended the madness that is the prohibition on prostitution, the losers would be the pimps and the traffickers.

We should want to help victims of human trafficking and child rape. We should want to help sexual entrepreneurs and their customers. We should want to help the quadriplegic person who doesn’t feel as though they can find a sexual partner, and can’t even touch their own self. Everyone has needs – have a little compassion, people!

Running_of_the_Santas_with_Hooters_girlsNAMA_Courtisane_&_clientWe all accept sexual entrepreneurship as the oldest profession for good reason – there has always been and will always be a market for sex. We already have bikini baristas and breastaraunts. We have strippers and porn. We have sugar daddies, the back page, and the girlfriend experience. Prohibition only serves to push otherwise legitimate businesses and individuals onto the black market, bringing unnecessary violence and hardship, which is anything but moral. We should be practical, and understand that attempting to ban a consensual act that has been practiced since the dawn of civilization satisfies Einstein’s definition of insanity.

The Many Tall Tales of Ben Carson

bencarsongiftedBen Carson seems to have lost his mind. It’s no certainly no secret that the man speaks as though he were a lunatic, but the level of scrutiny applied to a leading presidential candidate seems to be breaking him.

bencarson6He has no voting record in any legislative body to study, and he has little-to-no policy positions or papers to parse. He does, however, have six books. Carson suspended his presidential campaign in favor of his book tour, again, and reporters followed. He was queried regarding numerous questionable tales peppered throughout his biography. As with debate moderators, the questions from campaign correspondents seemed too much for Carson to endure. His default docile demeanor was discarded. He raised his normally dulcet voice to the point of cracking. He interrupted. He pointed and flailed. He paced and nearly mounted his podium. Carson questioned again and again why he was receiving what he described as the most scrutiny of any candidate he had ever witnessed, yet the media cared not one little bit about President Obama’s sealed Columbia University records. Which, it should be noted for the record, are not sealed at all – yet another piece of evidence suggesting that the good doctor inhabits an alternate reality.

bencarson1Ben Carson doesn’t believe that the pharaohs of ancient Egypt had the pyramids built as tombs (despite all of the hieroglyphics scrawled upon the pyramids). Carson describes the biblical story of Joseph storing large amounts of grain – he sees the pyramids – and voila! He admits that his theory is considered crazy by anyone with any sort of knowledge on the subject, yet he maintains it nonetheless. Why would a man intelligent and driven enough to rise from inner-city poverty to the apex of his profession – and not just any profession, but friggin’ brain surgery – why would that guy spew such nonsensical drivel?

Ben_Carson_in_New_Hampshire_on_August_13th,_2015_1_by_Michael_Vadon_19For one thing, it’s working. He’s sold tons of books, Cuba Gooding, Jr. portrayed him in a film. And for the time being, at least, he is atop the republican polls. He’s the front-runner. So his schtick is definitively attractive to certain segments of American society.

gohmertpalinDespite significant evidence to the contrary, I refuse to believe that politicians are just plain stupid. Not even Louie Gohmert or Sarah Palin. They may spew ramblings which are utterly ridiculous and patently false, but there is always a ready audience in the conservative base for even the most outlandish. In that world, any push-back or correction is seen as yet another example of (imaginary) liberal media bias. Politicians use any and all criticism for fundraising emails, and no conservative has ever lost primary votes for going to war with the liberal media.

We already know that Carson thinks Obamacare is a form of slavery, and that the Holocaust happened because Hitler took the guns from the Jews. That he compares women who’ve had abortions to slave owners, and thinks gayness isn’t real because straight people decide to turn gay in prison. So what is he saying now, and why is it crazy enough to get me to write about this guy yet again? Because the nonsensical fables framing his biography speak more to whom exactly he is talking to in this country, than about the man personally.

Ben_Carson_at_the_Southern_Republican_Leadership_Conference,_Oklahoma_City,_OK_May_2015_by_Michael_Vadon_07Though none of his friends or relatives have thus far been willing to back up his statements or characterizations, Carson claims to have been a very violent and scary young black man. He tried to kill people. His own mother, even. Just ask him. Ben Carson claims to have attacked his mother with a hammer. Fortunately, his brother stopped him. Unfortunately, his mother has alzheimer’s and can’t be seen. Also, his brother can’t be bothered to comment, because Ben wouldn’t want the media jackals to have their way with him.

bencarson5His poor mother was not the only family member to feel the wrath of young, violent and scary Ben. Though he’s changed his story about which relative, the story remains the same; Ben was so enraged that he took up a knife and stabbed his fellow teenage relative in the abdomen. Miraculously, the amorphous relative was wearing a large metal belt-buckle, and since Ben had used such force in his thrusting of the knife, the blade broke clean off the handle and fell to the floor without harm. Ben then ran into the bathroom, where he found a bible. Where he found the Lord. Scary, black teenage Ben emerged from the bathroom a changed man. A docile and dulcet man. Because Jesus.
Ben_Carson_by_Gage_Skidmore_3Then there’s West Point. Carson was in the ROTC, and claims to have had dinner with General William Westmoreland following a parade in 1969, where he was offered a full-ride scholarship to West Point. Thing is, West Point doesn’t offer scholarships, tuition is free to those who are accepted, followed by military service. But Carson didn’t apply because he wasn’t interested. Also, General Westmoreland was likely not there at all when Carson says he was. Carson marched in the 1969 Memorial Day parade in Detroit, while records of Westmoreland’s schedule show that the general was in D.C. in the days both preceding and post-, with no mention of Detroit.

Mr. Carson was accepted into Yale. Says that during on-campus riots following the assassination of MLK, he sheltered poor white students from the violent and scary, black Yale students outside. Once again, no witnesses have been willing to back his claims.

Ben_Carson_by_Gage_Skidmore_4Also at Yale, Carson claims to have been given $10 for being “the most honest student” in Perceptions 301. Students had taken an exam, sections of which were lost in a subsequent fire, so they were to retake portions of the exam. When the 150 students arrived, the retake was twice as difficult as the original. One-by-one, student after student rose and exited without completing their exams. The professor finally returned with a photographer from the Yale Daily News, and a $10 reward. However, Perceptions 301 was not an actual class at Yale, so Carson’s account has severe flaws. Odd to have a professor of an imaginary class, who Carson would have known had he been in the class. Also, the Yale Daily News had no pictures at all of Carson, yet alone having to do with him being the most honest student in a nonexistent class. This story is not a complete fabrication, though. It was found the Yale Record, under the heading PARODY.

Ben_Carson_in_New_Hampshire_on_August_13th,_2015_by_Michael_Vadon_28Then there was the time that lazy and stupid young Ben was failing chemistry. Says that even if he had gotten an A on the final, he still would’ve failed the course. That he intended to learn the entire book the night before. Instead, he prayed. Implored for a miracle, lest he fail out of medical school and become a failure in life. An angel tutored him in his sleep, and when he went to class the next day, he recognized all of the questions on the final from his dream angel tutor. He miraculously “aced” the test and passed the class. Because Jesus!

Ben_Carson_by_Gage_Skidmore_5While blaming the shooting victims at Umpqua for their own untimely deaths, Carson described how he had reacted when a gun was pulled on him in the past. Though he was a vegetarian at the time, Carson claims that he went with friends for fries at a “Popeye’s organization” in Baltimore. While inside, a robber stuck his gun into the ribs of Carson, who calmly suggested that the man instead wanted the guy behind the counter working the register with the loot. Carson says that a police report was filed by the employee. This may have happened. That particular establishment, on 300 N Broadway, had numerous encounters during the time in question (’81-’83). It is odd, though, that a robber would pull his gun on a random student in line, instead of the guy with the cash. If Carson had said that the guy demanded his watch, or wallet, or something at all (along, perhaps, with those of other patrons of the Popeye’s?) then his story would make some semblance of sense. But then he would likely have stayed and filed a police report himself, which of course didn’t happen.

Ben_Carson_in_New_Hampshire_on_August_13th,_2015_1_by_Michael_Vadon_01Again, these stories are not random ramblings of a pathological liar, they fit a very specific narrative which feeds into the brand that Carson has been selling for decades. That white Christian conservatives have been right all along. That without Jesus, young blacks are violent and scary, reckless individuals – individuals, though, who could still achieve anything in this world, if they would simply calm down and bow their nappy heads.

Ben_Carson_in_New_Hampshire_on_August_13th,_2015_by_Michael_Vadon_43Especially informative are Gifted Hands‘ reflections on the biblical character of Joseph. Carson’s pyramid theory is utter madness, yet it works for him because it is based completely in faith, and any attack on his faith equals martyrdom, which he can use to rally Christian conservatives to his cause. Carson also describes the story of Joseph showing off his flashy tunic as a young man, how he was brash and boastful, and was sold into slavery out of jealousy. But, Carson recounts, Joseph determined that if he was going to be a slave, he would be the best slave of all. Joseph was indeed the best slave, and, in Carson’s words, wound up running the place.