Debating Radical Islam

I don’t agree with everything Sam Harris says these days, particularly on Trump, but between him & Maher – who I’m also a fan & who I also disagree with a lot lately – this is fucking gold right here:

This is, in many ways, a reality check for the Affleck’s of the world; if you’re interested in more, these are couple follow-ups worth checking out:

  • The Rubin Report – Harris Discusses His Ben Affleck Debate
    • The Last Word – Harris discusses debate w/ Affleck & his opinions on the subject of Islam.

When It Comes To The News…

Bias doesn’t bother me – that’s why I’ve come to prefer Fox over CNN, to give a nice high contrast example. Fox is biased as hell, but a huge swath of their anchors are upfront about their biases. Some of them won’t even call themselves journalists, like O’Reilly before he was forced out, or like Sean Hannity. A lot of their shows use the tagline “fair and balanced” and frankly, that doesn’t require a person to have no biases. It just requires that they be able to cover, listen to, and address other points of view, disputes in facts, and know what the fuck they’re talking about so they can stay on network television without looking like dumb asses.

Contrast that with CNN these days. They don’t even try to hide it anymore; they fucking hate Trump, and you know what? That’s fucking fine, they can hate him all they want. It doesn’t excuse the regularity of their “mistakes” in reporting, it doesn’t excuse spinning a story beyond the realm of what’s factually correct; you can spin something and not be lying; just because someone’s trying to sell you something doesn’t mean what they’re selling is snake oil. If I buy $40 in weed and the guy slinging to me tells me how great his shit is and it turns out to be low quality dog shit, that’s what CNN does right there. If, on the other hand, I drop $40 and I’m told it’s great, and it actually turns out to be phenomenal when I smoke it that’s what Fox does.

So does Breitbart for the most part.

And if you’re left leaning or – worse – if you’re actually insane enough to still support the democratic party and democratic politicians still in power, you’ll probably read that and assume I’m a right wing nut. And you know what, maybe I am these days, who knows. I don’t define myself in those terms though. You’d be right to lump me in with the “new right” of the Republican Party, and it’s a categorization that’ll fit for as long as Trump’s brand of politics defines their brand.

He’s the main reason I’m not registered as an independent. I am, simply an American, and I don’t like the party system or the Republicans in general, but their party platform has had more appeal than the DNC’s platform for a long, long while now. That Trump took their party by storm, emphasized the best of their policies, shrugged off any supposed obligations to over 90% of the shittier ones, made the GOP party the American party. Until the pieces of shit that previously controlled the party regain power and fuck up the already fucked up platform Trump is still in the process of rebuilding for them, I’m staying registered as a Republican.

If my brand of politics, which lines of beautifully with Trump’s brand, remains a force to be reckoned with within the GOP after Trump’s out, maybe I’ll retain the affiliation. We have enough traction now that I am part of what now defines the Republican Party, and here’s a taste of what that means, how much it grates against “traditional” GOP values: I believe in the right to choose (both ways, meaning that while I mostly disagree with pro lifers, I respect their pov); I’m a godless, blasphemous, heretical motherfucker with no real love for any of the world’s religions.

I have a mild (formerly deep) interest in them, but I don’t believe in any of them. I’ll be just as happy to talk shit about Christianity as Islam – you can no longer make this out to be a religious war between extreme Christian fundamentalists (who I oppose) and extreme Islamic terrorists. I am not a part of anyone’s holy war, I just recognize that Christianity, even when it was still more of a threat (in the modern era), was still not as brazenly violent as groups like ISIS.

You can go back in history to times when Christians were a force of violence to be reckoned with and feared, and it’s good that they’ve been neutered imo, but it’s long past time for Islam to be called on its bullshit. It’s not just the radicals, not in Islam and not in Christianity, but radicals are the most dangerous. So continuing to dismantly Christian ideology can fucking wait. They’ve had eight years of a taste of their own medicine anyways, they’re starting to get the picture that you can’t just impose your fucking beliefs on other people the way they like to do.

Can Muslims say the same? I don’t know, but I know I see a lot of attacks, a lot of bodies stacking up, and not much to compare it to when it comes to Christian extremism. And for all the talk about how there’s just shit tons of Muslims in the world and we all need to “respect” (read “bow down to and kiss the ass of and be careful not to offend or question the beliefs of”) their beliefs… with so many millions, how come I almost never hear or see any moderates speaking out?

Why is that always left to others? Is it so they can play the victim?

And look, as far as needing to respect their beliefs… no, I don’t. I don’t respect anyone’s beliefs “just because” and I’m not singling them out in that. I know some people will want to call me islamaphobic, but you can just as easily call me Christian phobic. Not as catchy though, is it. Islamic doctrine is just as stupid (if not more so) than Christian dogma. Fuck ’em both.

Getting back to the point though… you can write someone off for being biased if you want, but that’s not really what I go by. I try to be aware of biases with any given journalist or news source, but what I check on is the accuracy of information covered. The spin is easy enough to look past, even if it’s geared to suck someone exactly like me in, because I see it for what it is.

If the spin emphasizes certain facts but fails to distort the overall subject of coverage, it’s not fake news. It’s biased, but it’s not fake. If the spin emphasizes certain facts, or facts are fabricated for the sake of a narrative (as dozens and dozens of outlets have been doing increasingly for the last couple years), and that eclipses other facts or otherwise distorts the overall subject of coverage…

That’s fake news. Opinions are allowed (especially when you’re offering them as opinions, not trying to sell them as factual, indisputable information) but accuracy matters, is what determines how much worth those opinions have. Watch news on both sides of the partisan divides and you see opinions left and right; the difference is, some opinions are based on factual information and many, many others are built on lies. Lately, and seemingly for the foreseeable future…

Most of the lies are coming from left leaning news outlets.

I say this as an individualist though, and if you think my party affiliation matters that’s your own dumbassery. My individualism defines my party affiliations, and might yet break them again. In fact on a long enough time line that’s inevitable. The GOP without people like me or Trump in it… well, look at the kind of opposition people like Emimen and Marilyn Manson went up against in the 90’s. That used to be the GOP, the right wing of the country. Now I, a huge fan of both those fuckers, an independent minded atheist, and vicious advocate of free speech, am the GOP.

This is the new reality people; like it or hate it, but don’t bother trying to deny it.

Are We Being Watched?

The question is a nod to the practices (recently leaked) and ethics (still mostly unknown) of the federal government agencies and bureaucracies (e.g. CIA, NSA, etc.) throughout Obama’s administration. The question of whether they can watch us is already answered. Even before wikileaks dropped “Vault 7” a lot of people have assumed the government can get into our shit without us wanting them to, and in the Bush era with the Patriot Act government agencies demonstrated they’re all to willing to assume and exercise that kind of power.

This is part of what started the erosion of my support for Obama (or any of the political ideas and causes he’s gotten behind). When he was running, the senator promised a sharp decrease of federal overreach into peoples private lives, railed against the Patriot Act, and promised to give us a transparent government. It became increasingly clear throughout his two terms that whatever intentions he had to do these things (if he had any) they were abandoned early on. At this point, post presidency, the leaks prove he didn’t just fail to deliver, he didn’t just abandon a promise, he went and did the exact reverse of what he promised.

And people call his successor a liar? Please. This motherfucker also promised affordable health care; he went way farther down the path of socialism than what was healthy for our economy, and even in going to those extremes in setting up the legislation – the new revenue and distribution mechanisms and standards, designed to (subtly) redistribute chunks of wealth through the insurance market – it’s turned out to be not just unsustainable but disastrous. All those people Obama bragged about covering? They’re either poor and being paid for by other customers, or they are those other customers, stuck with insurance policies they can’t afford to use.

They’re subsidizing all the newly insured. ACA advocates say those being subsidized need the coverage, and never mind all the people pay for over-priced plans that (due to deductibles also being higher than ever) they can’t use, despite that they’re the ones putting money into the ACA system. Those who make the asinine law functional are the ones that get little to no benefits.

They make it all possible, and they get nothing out of it for themselves.

And you know what? None of that even touches on the larger issue: every time we’re talking about “healthcare reform” we’re really talking about “insurance reform”. That bugs the shit out of me, ’cause the two are not the same and if more attention were paid to the actual health care industry and the insane gouging that goes on via hospital and doctor bills, maybe we could start to bring some sanity to it. The insurance companies are just a fucking distraction from the pricks that make insurance companies “necessary” with their artificially hiked up prices. They’re arbitrary, unnecessary middle men. To my way of thinking, you ought to be able to afford going to a doctor without paying hundreds or thousands to an insurance company “just in case” you need a doctor.

The actual health care industry, not the insurance companies, is the reason you can’t.

I’m wandering though, and to get back to the point, a surveillance state is not something I’m a fan of. Even public cameras every in a given city (or country) tends to irk me a little; the Patriot Act – and the possibilities of where it could lead – irked me a lot more. They tie into a big part of why I would have voted for Obama the 1st time (under 18 at the time) and why I did vote for him the 2nd time: more transparent government, accountable to the people.

And yet the shit wikileaks leaked about the CIA is exactly the kind of thing people thought they were voting to sweep away when they voted for him.

We didn’t get transparency though. Throughout mostof Obama’s 2nd term evidence has gradually and continuously mounted indicating his ’08 campaign promises were just hot air. All said and done, either he ran an administration that condoned and coordinated efforts at unlawful espionage (e.g. tapping Merkel/Germany, surveilling other allies, journalists, etc.) or he ran an administration too incompetent to keep those kind of subversive tactics in check. Whichever happens to be the case, both possibilities signify that in fulfilling his promise of government transparency and accountability, he failed miserably, and a far more capable “big brother” developed under his watch than what formed under Bush. To me, that’s pretty unsettling.

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Every Day is a Good Day

Seems like every day of the Trump presidency brings us a step (or three) in the right direction. His original travel ban was constitutional, but it’s been interesting watching that play out. And really, that’s the only meaningful set back I’ve seen for the new administration. Political opponents, misinformed constituents, and the professional mockery class (the media and celebrities who feel entitled to doing our thinking for us) play up anything and everything they can, pretending (mostly to and for themselves) that every other step is a fumble. They’re wrong imo, and if you dare to get specific I can explain how point by point, but broadly speaking just look at their behavior.

Never mind that under the first full month of this administration, the job growth has already reached about 235,000 jobs added, a repeat of the previous month. And as for the first month itself, the guy was meeting up with company owners of all sorts, striking informal deals, attaining public commitments by these business owners to expand – and to do it in America – before he was even sworn in. If you ask me, that’s largely responsible for the solid job numbers of his very first month. He was setting the stage, and if you’ve got doubts on that point, take a look at how many jobs were added each month for the last six months. Seriously, compare the 6 months before the election with the 2 afterwards. Reflects very well on our new president.

The fact that he imposed a new rule on regulations (for every new 1, eliminate 2), has cut a number of them already in various industries, has mobilized and is working closely with all members of Congress who’re willing to work with him (i.e. who are willing to DO their fucking jobs), has stamped out the threat of a TPP trade deal, and has appointed such a fascinating array of cabinet members, this stuff all by itself is a shit ton of awesomeness.

His executive orders (and other actions taken) to restructure the entire executive branch are another good example; it’ll realign the whole branch to our “America First” agenda, making it a more efficient, effective body of government, and it’ll introduce a higher level of accountability of federal agencies all around. Efficiency was not a trademark of the Obama administration, nor was effectiveness. And beyond what we knew before Trump’s victory – which was quite a bit – it’s becoming more and more clear that accountability wasn’t part of the culture under Obama’s leadership. It’s great that that’s changing now. If you think the recent leaks have been bad…

They have been, but they also haven’t been. That newest batch of CIA leaks being released by wikileaks is on the intelligence community and the administration that allowed such lax security practices, and such massive potential (and likelihood) for violating the privacy rights of Americans.

You can thank Obama for the CIA being so souped up (not necessarily a bad thing except that it’s always in the dark, behind the scenes, with no accountability). You can thank him for the prodigious amount of leaks we’re now seeing from Obama loyalists still embedded in the intelligence community overall, along with the leaks put out there by Obama left-overs in our various other areas of the government (e.g. where’d they get Trump’s 2005 tax returns?).

So when I say it’s bad, but “not really”…

Yeah, it’s bad for the U.S. as a whole, it’s bad for us as a nation in an international context. It’s not really bad for Trump though. He didn’t create the circumstances that allowed for all of this to happen, his predecessor did. It’ll only hurt him if he allows it to continue unchecked. And as for the healthcare bill the other day, I seem to recall Trump saying, “sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make.” I would have gladly seen the Republicans pass that new bill, it’s a killshot and their 3 step plan would have yielded better results for people than Obamacare.

That said, I’m not too bothered by the vote being cancelled. Next up is tax reform, and with Trump driving the wheel it won’t be very long before they bounce back to healthcare. And next time, maybe the competing factions of the GOP will have come to some kind of agreement about how to move forward. All of them still need to relearn how to negotiate effectively with each other.

Which, incidentally, is what I believe we’ve been watching them do. The whole process they went through – the disagreements, the fighting, the different positions between the moderates, the cuckservatives, and the hard right conservatives – was good practice and round #2 is coming right up for them. Sooner or later they’re going to get their shit together. Either that or they’ll be looking for new jobs, but if that happens it’ll be their own damn fault. I’ll still vote for Trump in 2020.

The question is, how many of the current batch of Republicans will be around to see it?

Assuming the next item on their agenda goes the way of the healthcare bill, probably not that many. If they start shaping up and getting a handle on how to do their jobs though, maybe most of them will make it to the next presidential election. 2018’s not that far off, so I guess we’ll see.

In the meantime though, every day with Trump in office is a good day for America.

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