Thin Skinned America

I’m frequently reminded of how coddled the American public have become. Don’t relate? Click on your favorite news network’s site and tell me what this weeks “shaming” scandal is.

Fat shaming, Slut shaming – hell DOG shaming.

We’ve gotten to a point tha0-t criticism of any trait is no longer allowed and is lumped into some category of shaming. How dare you call out a personality flaw or acknowledge an eating disorder. You monster.

We have started to condition people to accept weakness rather than develop strengths. Society exists due a series of checks and balances. No one likes to be criticized, but it’s what keeps us on track. Dismissing opinions as “shaming” is unhealthy and suggests it’s better to retain those bad characteristics rather than address and change them. I would never argue that someone should be bullied due to being overweight, or promiscuous, but we should be mature enough by now to stand up and admit that’s rarely really what’s behind the shaming blame game. No, it’s usually small offenses of someone taking a cheap crack at someone’s weight and if we’re really being honest? It’s usually not a “normal person” but rather a celebrity.

We as Americans have learned to take such joy in righteous indignation. Our news cycle has conditioned us so. How better to improve your ratings than to pretend the viewer matters and to stoke umbrage in their hearts? The world continues to be a harder and harder place to live in so it’s only natural people like to be told that they are the esteemed victim.

We are constantly told we’re either oppressed, shamed, insulted or victimized.   Gullible as we are, we listen intently and beam with joy as someone understands our plight. We’re given a reason why we haven’t gotten ahead in life and that it’s not our fault. There’s nothing we could have done differently to improve our situation. While not true, this is the message we see every day from the news networks.

This absolution of guilt started innocently enough but has since molded our philosophy on the world. It’s led to a generation of soft skinned millennials who, rather than rally around a real cause, choose to hover on these small social insensitivities. Telling someone they’re “shaming you” every time you feel ashamed doesn’t fix problems.

You feel ashamed because you failed to correct a personal problem. Essentially, you can’t “be shamed” if you don’t agree with the criticism.


Sibling Rivalry: Which English colony fared better, the US or Australia?

The USA and Australia share one major point in history: they’re both nations of people formed by citizens the English kicked out. The major difference of course being why.

The colonists in America were kicked out of England for their religious views, which were considered quite radical.

Australia, of course was formed as the English continued to dump their criminals on the island as a prison complex.

So, which is the better foundation for a society? The answer might surprise you.

First let’s hit the brass tacks. The US is comprised of around 310-320 million people, depending on who’s statistics you read. Australia, a much smaller nation, clocks in around 23 million people. Many of the statistics presented in this article will be percentage, or proportion based to avoid any numbers bias.

Australia currently totes a 6th ranking in general healthcare with the United States trailing at 44th. What makes this number so interesting is that the United States spends more than double per capita than Australia on health care. In fact, the united states spends more than any other nation on the planet on health care. This indicates at least one of the following;

Either the United States is spending poorly and planning poorly, or simply more people need medical attention per year. I think there are few folks who would argue against the former, but what about the latter?

The United States obviously has a reputation for violence and specifically gun violence. This is rather well earned before, and certainly cemented after the uniquely American crisis of school shootings in the dozens per year. The Country has the highest gun violence and gun homicide rates of the world. It also boasts a staggeringly high gun suicide rate.

Just how much? The US reports 4.7 homicides per 100 people in the year 2012. This means there were roughly 9,960 gun homicides alone that year. If the same rate were applied this year it would move those numbers to 10,288. Sixty 67.5% of homicides in the US are by firearm. There is no country that reports anywhere near those rates of gun homicides.

Australia, to contrast, ranks 42nd compared to the United States 1st place ranking in gun violence. There are around 30 gun homicides per 100  people equating to roughly 3,050,000 gun homicides in 2012.

An interesting takeaway is that in Australia there are around .14 guns per 100,000 citizens where the US totes 88.89 guns per 100 citizen. This number doesn’t even include military firearms. There are around 270 million civilian firearms available in the USA. This means that every single adult in the country can own a gun, and more over.

A firearm costs anywhere between one hundred to several thousand dollars. You can purchase a healthy meal to cook at home for around five to ten dollars. How is there a food crisis in the United States?

The US also ranks first in percentage of the population in prison. There are around 2,217,000 inmates in the country, meaning almost 10 percent of the country’s population is behind bars. Australia pops up at 47th on this list, with  just .0015% of their population locked up ( around 35,804).

Americans hold one point of pride very close to heart: their freedom. So where do these two countries stack up? the United States tracks 44th in freedom of the press rankings. This trails behind Australia, who came in at 28. In addition, Fiscal freedom and corruption rankings don’t paint a much prettier picture with the US at 12th and Australia at 4th.

How did a prison colony manage to be more free than a land founded on the principle of freedom of (or from) religion?

The Takeaway:

Morality, government and growth are not determined by faith. In addition, perception is all in the presentation.


healthcare spending

Welcome to the Circus

A blustering man in a red and white pinstripe jacket walks up to the ring, cane in hand. His wispy comb over tucked neatly under a straw hat. His face blotchy from years of anger and drinking. He gestures toward the stage, shouting he can make America great again, if we just get rid of the people we don’t like.

How did we get here?

Anyone who has turned on the news in the last few months knows there’s a show even P.T. Barnum would marvel at playing out across America. It’s rife with drama and suspense. The clowns parade on stage, each making a more outlandish claim than the other. Their ringleader himself dawning a red nose, and perhaps by the end of the election – a white sheet.

There is no denying in recent months the election has been pushed and pulled into xenophobic and misogynistic directions. Boorish claims of Mexico deliberately sending criminals and rapists over our borders- and the assumption that a select few are “probably” good people. Carly’s blood coming from “where ever’.

The truth is, a billionaire being a bigot and misogynist is nothing new; what’s new is the fact that America isn’t just tolerating it- they’re embracing it. We’ve all heard the comments. “Laziness is a trait found in the blacks” or when he did his best Mickey Rooney and touted that the Chinese would walk into a board room and say “We want deal!”

These types of remarks would usually spell doom for a campaign but Trump has a wild card.

We’ve had a black president for two terms.

I know it’s easy to suggest the race card and it doesn’t take long to get the push back. Let’s face it. Americans have an underlying bias against blacks. It’s the reason your mother clutches her purse when a young black man walks by her in the parking garage. It’s not a conscious effort to be racist but It’s there. Trump plays to this, so much so that many Americans may not realize they’re being manipulated. Basically, the white collared American with underlying, subconscious racial bias is giving trump permission to raise up his cross and torch.

That’s where it gets hairy. First, we just had one want-to-be demagogue spitting vitriol on the street corners. Now they’re breeding. Trumps success in the polls has given permission for other candidates to come out saying the same nonsense. You have Ben Carson saying Muslims shouldn’t be considered for the Presidency. You have Jeb bush saying democrats are “luring blacks with free stuff”. Ted Cruz is making thinly veiled assassination threats against the Ayatollah of Iran. “We might have to help introduce him to the 72 virgins”.

Yes, we have a would-be POTUS making murder threats before an election.

Fathom the backlash a Democratic candidate would receive if they made such a damaging remark to foreign relations. Then, as if to say “I’m on the right, too” Carly decides to lambaste a Planned Parenthood video of doctors harvesting a fetus’ brain, as it wriggles on a table. Unfortunately, this video was a complete fabrication that never existed from the get go.

Does the voter base then condemn such a contemptuous lie?

Of course not. Naturally, they churn out video and audio from five locations spliced together to create some sort of smoking gun that was never fired.

America has moved into a political era of letting bad behaviors run rampant. The subconscious logic is as follows: watch your authority, parent, spouse etc bend the rules and by doing so, you get permission to act the same way. We are only as moral as our role models.

Americans crave this permission. They yearn to have the permission to act out on their own social, religious and racial biases. They want permission to push those who disagree with them into a faction. A faction they can declare vile and evil. They want the permission to do this without reprisal.

It’s hard to improve a society and it’s hard to eradicate prejudice. White Americans have been struggling, on some level, with the inherent bias their lineage has borne into them. This causes guilt, which ultimately let’s political practice play to that guilt as umbrage and righteous indignation. Everyone wants to be told they are right.

The effect has been more than a ripple. The Republican Party has moved so far right as to force out John Boehner. Anyone who has been in touch with Politics knows Boehner is far from a moderate. So, to see him pushed out as too liberal is a very interesting day for congress. Make no mistake, this is the return of the tea party. They may have dropped the banner, and their (misused) Gadsden flags, but the racism, misogyny and jingoism are still strong at their core.

The exit of Boehner shows there can be no compromise. The GOP will be forcing right leaning social issues, and it will do them at any time possible.

It’s very evident the Republican Party is not the same of old. The establishment has been gutted and in it has become a place of umbrage and ire. Conservative financial policy has been replaced by hot button issues, platitudes about faith, and the racial and gender ideas that held back the 1950s. It’s clear there is no more moderation, no more compromise and no more apologies.

This change in politics sounds dangerously familiar to the rise of a certain anti-immigrant part of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Fervor over “criminals” trespassing over borders, a call for deporting them to camps and a call to make Germany great again. Call it dramatic if you must, but this is the door way in which the holocaust happened.

No More

Prometheus I know your plight
when crows eat liver over flight
This recurring pain of kindness
doubled down by lovers blindness
and so your future cant continue
by false account by witness untrue
this vile world that lives for grief
as such the beams of hope are brief
and desolate in world of liars
make love, affection barbs of briars

On Escalated Police Violence

There’s not much doubt the image of the police now is in stark contrast to say, Barney Fife and Andy Griffith. That old apple pie and tip of the hat image has been replaced by one of brutality draped in fear. Our citizens are scared, especially our minorities. We’ve reached a point that citizens are posting about how they wouldn’t commit suicide if they were jailed for a small traffic offense.

They’re afraid of being killed in jail for a small traffic offense.

It seems a bit surreal. Almost as if we’re living in the stereotype we cast on less developed nations. How did we get here?

In the nineteen eighties the American Government launched a “war on drugs” which “rages” on today. Rage in this context of course meaning talk a lot and confiscated drug money into senators bank accounts and back into the prison industrial complex. The decision on how to deal with drug crime was decided one day: through fear. Make them afraid to deal the drugs. Make them afraid of the massive prison stays, the absurdly large fines and prison costs. Make them afraid of the police. Make them afraid of being raped in a cell while the guards turn the other way.

Make them afraid. You can’t spray pesticide without a crop duster, however so they turned to the twenty four hour news networks. The message of a violent depraved world marched on and before we knew it almost every story was about violent drug war, the dangers of drugs or police raids. There was a conscious effort to make the police as imposing as possible in an effort to scare criminals. Eventually though, as the crack epidemic became an idea of history and drug crime started to move into the digital age, all we were left was this terrifying presence armed and ready.

Once drug crime was no longer such a massive presence of violence our views on drugs softened and our views on the police didn’t. We’d look at minor pot offenses and see young people hauled off to jail for a decade. All by the ruthless, unreasonable arm of the law.

Police training never changed with the times. They’re still being conditioned for a harsh and unforgiving world, ready to stab, shoot or maim them over crime. In an age where people are the safest they’ve ever been be have police as dangerous as they have ever been.In addition, thanks to military surplus and production, our police are armed with equipment and weapons that are far beyond the need of day to day interaction. Give a boy a toy, and he’s going to want to play with it. Flak jackets, high powered assault weapons. Armored vehicles. Our police have been playing soldier for a while now.  The contrast alone is enough to incite fear.

This is much like the feeling any black male has felt at some point in his life- watching a young woman clutch her purse when he walks by but with one difference: he thinks the woman is just as dangerous. There is little wonder why such a conditioning has caused such unrest in recent years.

Mix in the inherit racism embedded in our society and one has little course to wonder why traffic stops end in “suicides”. When black men flee a minor offense and get shot in the back (or more recently the back of the head). It leads little to wonder how we’ve all watched a white officer strangle an unarmed, frightened black man to death and not face charges.

And we’re all to blame.

Sensationalist? Maybe, but who do you think gives this kind of press it’s ratings? Who turns it on every day with a gaping jaw. Fear sells, we’re buying. We’ll never stop the press from sensationalizing daily life, but we all do have the power to stop and interpret what they’re saying. We can stop viewing the world through their blood red filter and make some decisions and judge things for ourselves. We can educate ourselves before springing to snap judgement.

On Hulk Hogan, and why the WWE got it right.

They’re letting the Hulkster go after it’s come to light that he uttered some pretty unfathomably racist (and stupid) things In a resurfaced interview. During a “woe is me” moment, Hulk complained about an offer from a “black billionaire” guy to fund his daughters music. I wish I had his problems.

The quote as follows:

“I mean, I don’t have double standards. I mean, I am a racist, to a point, f*cking n*ggers. But then when it comes to nice people and sh*t, and whatever.”

Just let that sink in. He said something so deplorable that the WWE not only fired him, cancelled a deal and COMPLETELY removed any mention of him from their website. We all know the WWE is one of the primary sources of entertainment for…shall we say, less refined and culturally sophisticated folks. I would wager you would be hard pressed not to find a ratio of six or seven bigots for every ten fans. Perhaps the lack of culture is really why it appeals to them- pretending two greasy sweaty men are actually fighting in the most animated, campy and exaggerating fashion.

I digress. What I mean to say is the WWE are no fools and they’re certainly in touch with their fan base. They know that most people who watch wrestling wouldn’t bat an eye at that kind of language from a white man. They know that there may be a bit of backlash but ultimately they could just bunker down until it blew over.

This is one of the few times you will ever see a major, major corporation doing the right thing sheerly for the reason of doing the right thing. The WWE showed us that no matter how famous, liked, or wealthy you are racism will not be tolerated and you do not get a pass.

Yet, the fans just don’t seem to get it. Outrage is pouring out on online forums. They try and call hypocrisy because Brian McGhee is on trial for murder. It’s a strange comparison to make, don’t you think ? A man accused of a crime, and a man on tape declaring his racism.I have this very peculiar notion that we live in a nation where you are innocent until proven guilty.

Fire him after they find him guilty (obviously).

There are some major underlying issues at play here, however. The rush to defend this man online is showing a very concerning lack of priorities in our country. You value the fact that a man greased himself up, put on a schlock character display and pretended to beat people up over the fact that he is, and i’m not being to harsh here, a vile racism. It doesn’t matter if it was one comment, and he softened it with “a little” Racism in all it’s forms is vile and abhorrent.
How do we expunge this tolerance for racism from our culture is a much bigger question that comes out of all this talk. How do we instill the appropriate level of disgust into our children and make them understand the severity of what just happened. Had we figured it out by now I’m certain I’d be reading a lot less articles about unarmed black citizens being mowed down by the police.

On why America is such a confusing place

‘Murica. Has a nice ring, doesnt it?

America (much like many governments in the middle east) was founded by religious fundamentalists. The pilgrims that founded our country were kicked out of England for being to fanatical (yes, I know your teacher in elementary school sugar coated this fact and told you they left voluntarily to escape “persecution”).

Their brand of fundamentalism, in this case, was Christianity. A pacifist religion that preaches forgiveness for wrongdoing, peace, and lending one another a hand. It also distinctly forbids a lot of things including but not limited to violence, hate, usury (lending money at an interest rate).

So how the hell did we get here?

We live in a time that the United States has troops in nearly 150 countries, schools and movie theaters are being shot up by psychotic gunmen and our entire means of living is through loans from banks.

Can you name 150 countries? I certainly can’t without a map. That’s one hundred and fifty countries not INCLUDING the naval ships at sea. If you’d like to see where you tax dollars are going, CNN has a nifty link here.

It’s staggering to think of how large our military must be. Mind you, not all of these countries are actively invaded or occupied by the US (of course, through intimidation they might as well be). So, how does being the red right hand of the planet fit with peace, love and grace? How on earth do these American “christians” say things like, “for God and Country” (which, if you really feel like nitpicking is a first commandment breaker to begin with).

One hundred and fifty countries that we have sent armed men and women with guns- a tool whose sole purpose is to deliver harm upon another mammal. We live in a country that established the NRA- a frightening little organisation i’m sure you’ve heard of. I would task you with the charge of seeing how many of the NRA are not in the mindset of considering themselves “good christians”.

After all, i’m pretty sure John 3:17 through 3:18 reads “and Jesus did smite the faggot with his m-16, and it was good. There was much rejoicing”.

Automated assault weapons. I’m sure that’s what Jesus would support if he were real and on earth.

We also live in only country to have frequent school shootings. Furthermore, as evident by last nights theater shooting in Louisiana, we appear to have a theater shooting epidemic starting as well.

Some misguided Christians might tell you something like “let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one,” – Luke 22:36-38.
But a sword is not a gun. A sword can deflect blows without harming an opponent. A sword requires a wielder to feel the kill so to speak. It is decidedly less lethal. Furthermore, acts of cowardice are very difficult with a sword- it requires precision, and lacks range. One, for example, couldn’t kill and maim 70 people in a movie theater using a sword.

So how is it this organization relates almost solely to white gun toting self identifying “christians” ?

The mindset of these folks has become so warped that the second amendment has become an addiction. Like any strong addiction they’ll lie cheat and steal to keep getting their fix. Take Susan Shannon for example- a popular NRA Blogger who claims to have “seen the light” from being a liberal to switching to a full on Christian NRA Nut job. On her blog she calls out the government and suggests “…Adam Lanza NOT had access to those legal guns, he could never have killed those kids.  He was too mentally ill to have gotten those weapons himself.  He was diagnosed with Asperger’s  Syndrome and we now know that he had many, many interventions by school officials in the past.  I felt that the killing of little children would be the strongest argument yet that we should clamp down on gun ownership.  I just couldn’t believe the TIMING and circumstances of this event- a GIFT to the Progressives to disarm us.  Who can argue with this case?    I was ready for the inevitable.”

Yes. You read that right. She believes the government armed a psychopath for the sole purpose of killing it’s own citizens to fuel an argument on gun control. Paranoid, much?

So, naturally if our little American brains can come to that conclusion and sleep at night, warping christianity to fit guns in doesnt seem too difficult.

How about usury? The bible specifically rejects usury- originally defined as the lending of money at an interest rate (Funny enough our dictionaries have started adding the words “at an unreasonable interest rate”). Anyone who has read the bible (all twelve of you) know That the new testament constantly calls out bankers as sinners. Hell, being a tax collector was considered to be shameful work (and a lot of that money goes back to the public). So how is it American society is built entirely around debt?

You need a loan to drive a car to work, to get a home to live in, and probably a second loan/mortgage to keep said house and car. Then, you have to pay insurance on that car, and on that house and on your own body. Our system is designed to keep almost every American in some form of debt or recurring payment for the rest of their life. If that doesn’t sound like usury I don’t know what does. In the meanwhile the W.A.S.P.s bemoan their “plight” because the “jews run all the banks”.


In closing, it’s terribly hard to deny that fundamentalist Christianity did what any other fundamentalism does- it obliterated the ideas of which it was created for the benefit of power for the oh so mighty few.