April 2015 Archives

AlterNet suggests that Rand Paul is a faux Libertarian, because despite his "different kind of Republican" posturing, Rand Paul's "delicately crafted maverick image is far from the reality. Here are six things younger and more progressive voters need to know about Rand Paul:"

1. Rand Paul wants more military spending and more war in the Middle East.
Rand Paul introduced "a budget amendment calling for a whopping $190 billion increase to military spending."

2. Rand Paul would be even worse for students and the middle class than other Republicans. "Elementary students would lose school lunches, as well as children's health insurance programs and other food assistance:"

Rand Paul also supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, including its provision that allows Americans under 26 to remain on their parents' health plans.

And it's not just students and young adults who would suffer under Rand Paul. He would eliminate the Housing and Urban Development and Energy departments, crucial instruments for improving blighted neighborhoods, helping working Americans achieve middle-class stability, and moving the country toward a renewable energy future.

Last but not least, his budget also calls for privatizing Medicare and Social Security, slashing Medicaid, and dramatically cutting taxes on the obscenely wealthy during a period of record income and wealth inequality. He also wants to repeal even the modest constraints placed on Wall Street in the wake of the Great Recession. His flat tax plan would dramatically decrease taxes on the super-rich, and raise them on the poor and middle class.

3. Rand Paul voted against reforming the NSA.

4. Rand Paul opposes marriage quality and reproductive choice.

Despite styling himself as a libertarian who favors privacy rights, Rand Paul stridently opposes both abortion rights and gay marriage, sticking the government in your womb and in your bedroom. On abortion Rand Paul goes further than even many of his Republican colleagues, opposing abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

5. Rand Paul advocates for discriminatory laws. Paul "famously opposed the Civil Rights Act" [see here], a way to let local bigotry flourish:

If civil rights were left entirely up to states to decide, many states would still be stuck in the Jim Crow era. Which is precisely how conservative politicians like Rand Paul who advocate for "state's rights" in the realm of civil liberties want it.

6. Rand Paul does not support decriminalizing drugs.
"Democrats are leading the push for relaxation of drug laws over strident Republican opposition," and Paul is on the wrong side yet again.

TruthDig notes that, in general, GOP libertarians aren't all that Libertarian, and that "The whole notion of small government libertarianism has been hijacked by politicians who often represent the opposite:"

Also unmentioned in Cruz's announcement speech at Liberty University was data showing that the conservative school has received one of the largest amounts of government Pell Grant funding of any nonprofit university in America, according to the Huffington Post. That fact can be described with a lot of words, but "libertarian" probably isn't one of them.

Kentucky's Rand Paul is "the candidate who most openly embraces the libertarian brand," but his actions don't support his rhetoric--particularly his call for "a nearly $190 billion infusion to the defense budget over the next two years--a roughly 16 percent increase." Additionally, Paul is anti-choice on the abortion issue--another troubling sign:

While few believe across-the-board libertarianism is a pragmatic governing strategy, some of that ideology's core tenets--like respect for privacy and civil liberties--are valuable, constructive ideals. But when the most famous libertarian icons so often contradict themselves, those ideals are undermined. They end up seeming less like the building blocks of a principled belief system and more like talking points propping up a cheap brand--one designed to hide shopworn partisanship.

Other examples include Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, but the worst hypocrite at the moment seems to be Paul.

econo-stupidity

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A recent Bloomberg poll mentions that "Americans are becoming more optimistic about the country's economic prospects by several different measures:"

President Barack Obama's handling of the economy is being seen more positively than negatively for the first time in more than five years, 49 percent to 46 percent--his best number in this poll since September 2009. [...]

Asked about the nation's direction, 31 percent said things are moving in the right direction, up from 24 percent in December. Thirty-four percent said the national economy will become stronger over the next year, while just 21 percent said it will get worse and 44 percent predicted the status quo. That's up from last June, when 30 percent said things were getting better.

Americans were also more optimistic about the prospects for job growth, the housing market, America's standing in the world, and even health care costs than when asked the same questions last June.

Despite this progress, Politicus USA laments the pervasive perversity of stupid people in large groups, as only "49 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of President Obama's economic record:"

...overall the President's approval rating is positive in no small part due to a recovering economy that even Republicans cannot deny or take any credit for after spending six long years doing nothing. Those numbers are bad news for Republicans who continue claiming errantly that the economy is lagging regardless corporate profits are raging, unemployment is falling, GDP is up, the debt is falling, and the stock market continues setting new records.

Obviously the stupid 47 percent who want to solve the income gap issue by, as Republicans preach, "getting government out of the way" have spent an inordinate amount of time getting their economic policy solutions from Republicans and Fox News. They also apparently have a serious issue with reality because study after report after study after life experience has revealed that nationally and particularly in states where Republicans have "got government out of the way," economic growth is non-existent, job creation is lagging, people are getting poorer while the rich get richer, and deficits are exploding. Only a stupid person would think, even for a second, that adhering to Reagan-Republican policies founded on getting government out of the way that are proven to kill jobs, increase debt and deficits, and make the income gap wider is a valid solution for reducing the income gap that is destroying the middle class and sending more Americans into poverty.

In summary:

The only reason there is a destructive income gap in America is because for the past thirty years Republicans have been on a crusade to get government out of the way and it has created an environment that is conducive to corporate profits and increased wealth for the richest one percent at the expense of the rest of the population.

It's the kind of thinking that Paul Krugman slams as old-time economics, in which ideologues "reject those basic [economic] models in favor of alternative approaches that were innovative, exciting and completely wrong:"

They sought justifications for the harsh policies they were determined, for political and ideological reasons, to impose on debtor nations; they lionized economists, like Harvard's Alberto Alesina, Carmen Reinhart, and Kenneth Rogoff, who seemed to offer that justification. As it turned out, however, all that exciting new research was deeply flawed, one way or another. [...]

The point is that it's wrong to claim, as many do, that policy failed because economic theory didn't provide the guidance policy makers needed. In reality, theory provided excellent guidance, if only policy makers had been willing to listen. Unfortunately, they weren't.

jury duty

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Big Think wants us to stop whining about jury duty, because "Without jury duty, there is no right to a jury trial:"

And without jury trials, criminal defendants would be subject to the potentially dangerous whims of the government. To be sure, there are many reasons we should avoid hailing jury trials as ironclad venues of divine justice. Members of juries may be unprepared to weigh the complexities in cases requiring highly technical knowledge. Jurors, being human, are subject to bias, and racial bias is no small concern. Recent grand jury trials in racially charged cases cast doubt on jurors' ability to properly interpret evidence when it is presented by a prosecuting attorney with possible ulterior motives.

The piece also notes that "As long as jury trials remain a fundamental part of our system of justice, jury service is imperative. And there is no good reason to gripe about it:"

So the next time you are summoned for jury duty, look beyond the surly clerks, the long waits in uncomfortable chairs and the need to put your daily pursuits on hold for an afternoon or a few days. Your country doesn't ask for much. You can do your democracy this one favor. Even the Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, gamely showed up for jury duty last week. (Is your job more important than his?) And if you pay attention, and you're selected for a jury, the experience may be eye-opening in a host of ways. You'll learn something about the law and how the legal system operates, for better or for worse. You'll meet people you may not ordinarily come across in your daily life. And you'll lend your ear and reasoned judgment to a case involving the fate of a fellow citizen.

Rand Paul fails on marriage equality, with this CNN interview:

"I don't care who you are, what you do at home or who your friends are, where you hang out, what kind of music you listen to. What you do in your home is your own business. That's always been who I am. I am a leave-me-alone kind of guy."

"But not when it comes to marriage," Bash noted.

"Well, no, the states will end up making the decisions on these things," Paul replied. "I think there's a religious connotation to this. I also believe people ought to be treated fairly under the law. I see why if the marriage contract conveys certain things, that if you want to marry another woman, you can do that and have a contract.

He's sounding like a typical right-wing weasel, suggesting that same-sex couples should be satisfied with "contracts" instead of marriage certificates.

Does he really believe that marriage for some and contracts for others is an acceptable solution?

Should the officiant's announcement "I now pronounce you party one and party two" be the highlight of a same-sex ceremony?

The NYT editorial board identifies a new phase in anti-Obama attacks that "is growing louder, angrier and more destructive:"

Republican lawmakers in Washington and around the country have been focused on blocking Mr. Obama's agenda and denigrating him personally since the day he took office in 2009. But even against that backdrop, and even by the dismal standards of political discourse today, the tone of the current attacks is disturbing. So is their evident intent -- to undermine not just Mr. Obama's policies, but his very legitimacy as president.

"The current offensive is slightly more subtle [than Birtherism]," the editors write, "but it is impossible to dismiss the notion that race plays a role in it:"

Perhaps the most outrageous example of the attack on the president's legitimacy was a letter signed by 47 Republican senators to the leadership of Iran saying Mr. Obama had no authority to conclude negotiations over Iran's nuclear weapons program. Try to imagine the outrage from Republicans if a similar group of Democrats had written to the Kremlin in 1986 telling Mikhail Gorbachev that President Ronald Reagan did not have the authority to negotiate a nuclear arms deal at the Reykjavik summit meeting that winter.

There is no functional difference between that example and the Iran talks, except that the congressional Republican caucus does not like Mr. Obama and wants to deny him any policy victory. [...]

If this insurrection is driven by something other than a blend of ideological extremism and personal animosity, it is not clear what that might be. But it is ugly, it deepens mistrust of government and it harms the office of the president, not just Mr. Obama.

Reason's piece on what Libertarians get wrong about American history is, well, quite reasonable:

Libertarians naturally sense that their philosophy will be easier to sell to the public if they can root it in America's heritage. [...] The problem arises when libertarians cherry-pick confirming historical anecdotes while distorting or ignoring deeper disconfirming evidence.

The piece candidly asks, "Where are libertarians likely go wrong when it comes to history? And answers "By and large, it's in presenting American history as an essentially libertarian story." While their view "contains grains of truth," it continues, there's more to the story:

Advocates of a unified nation under a powerful central government [...] eventually arranged for the Federal Convention in Philadelphia, where the Constitution--the acknowledged purpose of which was to produce more, not less, government--was adopted. The libertarian Albert Jay Nock called the convention a coup d'etat because it was only supposed to amend the Articles. Instead, the men assembled tore up the Articles, crafted an entirely new plan that included the powers to tax and to regulate trade, and changed the ratification rules to permit merely nine states to carry the day, instead of the unanimous consent required for amendments to the Articles. [...]

One would expect a "government" that lacked the power to tax and regulate trade to be of more interest to libertarians. One would also expect libertarians to be suspicious of plan to address those alleged deficiencies. Instead, the Articles typically are shunted aside and the Constitution is lauded as a historic achievement in the struggle for liberty. That is odd indeed.

I think we can explain this lack of interest in the Articles by noting that it fits poorly into the mainstream libertarian narrative about America. After all, it would be hard to praise the Constitution as a reasonably good attempt to limit government while acknowledging that it replaced a political arrangement under which the government could neither tax nor regulate trade. In that context the Constitution looks like a step backward not forward.

He links militarism to mercantilism, and eventually makes a concession to realpolitick:

You cannot build a continental empire and a worldwide political and military presence without planting the seeds of powerful government at home, a national-security state, and all that they require, including income taxation, regulation, central banking, and a welfare state to ameliorate the worst hardships of the system's victims, if only to tamp down radical resistance.

Salon published an excerpt from Andrew Sayer's Why We Can't Afford the Rich that leads with the question, "So why hasn't the spectacular shift in income and financial wealth to the rich over the last four decades led to unprecedented jobs growth?"

First of all, we need to ask what the rich and super-rich do with their spare money. They generally use it to try to get even more, through either real investment or financial 'investment.' In the latter case, whether by betting on market movements or buying income-yielding assets, or the many other ways unearned income can be extracted, their actions are unlikely to result in net job creation. [...] But even if the rich do fund real investment in productive businesses - in equipment, training, new infrastructures or whatever - this may or may not result in job creation.

The improper use of entrepreneur is mentioned as "another case of how words can mislead:"

Rentiers don't call themselves rentiers, and not many capitalists call themselves capitalists, but many of each like to call themselves 'entrepreneurs.' Upbeat terms like 'entrepreneur' and 'enterprise' can be stretched to cover things that don't deserve them.

Therefore, "we should be sceptical about the idea that the rich are entrepreneurs and thereby deserve their wealth." As for the supposition that "They'll just go to another country and take their money with them if we tax them too much, or otherwise restrict their power:"

This point is frequently wheeled out, as if the rich were major wealth creators, possessing rare powers, and therefore people whom we must do all we can to attract.

Of course, "the threats to leave are exaggerated:"

If it were the case that higher taxes caused wealth to flee we would expect to see an exodus of the wealthier citizens of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and France - the countries with the highest tax rates. A glance at the latest Forbes billionaires list reveals that of four Norwegians on the list all live in Norway, the two Danes live in Denmark, five of the nine Swedes live in Sweden, and eight of the ten French live in France.

trolling Hugo

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Salon's Arthur Chu discusses how right-wing trolls can ruin anything:

One of the false promises we've been made that people keep buying into is that the Internet is a "democratizing" force, that the digital world gives us instant access to the real vox populi, that the simple fact that anyone can leave a comment, or answer a poll, or submit an entry to a contest means that everyone does, and therefore opinion of "the Internet" is everyone's opinion.

This is obviously false.

Worse, the more specialized and dedicated an Internet space is, the more "It tends to be a space dominated by privileged reactionary jerks:"

Today's longest-lasting, most determined trolls have a real ideology behind their trolling, and it usually takes the form of a feeling of betrayal and resentment of the world around them and a knee-jerk rage against the idea of progress.

The worst trolls are almost universally hard-right conservatives, in other words, and they generally care about their pet causes with a breathtaking fervor that their enemies can't possibly hope to match.

Apportioning public recognition in the guise of awards can be one of those areas, especially when it's seen as counterbalancing "liberal bias" or some other imagined ideological slight. Chu notes that "Recently we've seen the results of freeping in an area particularly vulnerable to it, the Hugo Awards:"

The Hugos aren't a private award given by a handpicked jury, nor are they a massively publicized vote where everyone who's in the know votes every year à la "American Idol" or a presidential election-the two cases that make a vote difficult to freep.

Instead, they're done by popular vote, but to vote you have to pay $40 for a "supporting membership" to Worldcon, the organization that sponsors the Hugos. [...]

To vote on the Hugos you have to either know and care a ton about science fiction-or you have to be convinced that science fiction is part of the vast liberal conspiracy arrayed against you and make a disingenuous post calling you and your friends "Sad Puppies" over said liberal conspiracy. $40 is a lot of money to pay to express your opinions, even strongly held ones, about fiction you love-but it's a cheap price to stick it to liberal pro-diversity elitists you hate.

This sort of heckler's veto is one price of democracy:

"Just let the public give their input" is a lazy, useless and above all dangerous way to make decisions. If you want democracy you have to put effort into designing a process that actually makes sure your voting population matches the relevant population and to keep the process from being captured by bad actors. If that's too hard for you, then accept that democracy is too hard for you and find some other way to claim legitimacy for the decision you end up making.

In explicating Facebook's power, Salon interviews Jacob (Terms of Service) Silverman. Aside from Facebook's psychological rewards, Silverman suggests that "the idea of constant connectivity" is desirable "because it means we are constantly generating more data, being more engaged, looking at more ads, and being a good user for them:"

On a socio-cultural level, what that means in practice is being visible. To be visible you have to be posting often. It helps to be personal and confessional, and to expose yourself.

The issue of Facebook's power is also addressed:

This might be a vague question, but what kind of power is this? I feel like we don't have any real-world analogue for the sort of power that these companies possess.

That's something we are all figuring out. Facebook's power is to sort what people see and to screen information. That's basically what Google does, too. They filter information for large amounts of people. [...] You see Facebook getting very deep into messaging and into Internet connectivity. And for a lot of people in the developing world now, Facebook is their experience of the Internet, because that is how they connect through these cheap phones, to this low-bandwidth version of Facebook. That really cuts down, potentially, on their possibility to experience an open, unfiltered Internet.

So is the issue of potential hypocrisy:

You have a smartphone, a Gmail address and a Twitter account. Like most critics of social media, you're enmeshed in the very system you're analyzing. How do you launch a critique from that position of entanglement?

Frankly, I think it's a very cheap irony to say, like, "Oh, you're complaining about Twitter, but you use it." That's like people who say, "If you don't like the U.S. government policies, why don't you move?"

We all are entangled within capitalism. We can still complain about it, even as we have to take part in certain aspects of it, or feel compelled [to do so]. I feel very conflicted about a lot of social media. I still use it, in part because I want to be a good critic of it. I want to know how it works. But there are also aspects of it that I do like. I think there's nothing wrong with saying, "Look, we're engaging with it on all these levels."

NY Daily News reports that FB can even be used to serve divorce papers:

[Ellanora] Baidoo, 26, "is granted permission serve defendant with the divorce summons using a private message through Facebook," with her lawyer messaging Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku through her account, Cooper wrote.[...] "I think it's new law, and it's necessary," said Baidoo's lawyer, Andrew Spinnell. [...]

The "post office has no forwarding address for him, there is no billing address linked to his prepaid cell phone, and the Department of Motor Vehicles has no record of him," the ruling says.

"We tried everything, including hiring a private detective -- and nothing," Spinnell said. The first Facebook message went out to the husband last week. "So far, he hasn't responded," Spinnell said.

Indiana

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As usual, current events (in this case, the Indiana "religious freedom" law) demonstrate a key difference between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives are worried about nonexistent problems (Rush Limbaugh brings up bestiality), whereas liberals want to prevent actual harm to people (see the bigot pizzeria that will deny service to LGBT customers).

Crystal O'Connor, who runs the business [Memories Pizzeria], told local news outlet ABC57, "If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no," because it was not reflective of their Christian values.

In doing so, O'Connor insisted such a move would not be an act of discrimination, as many critics of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act have argued. "I do not think it's targeting gays," she said. "I don't think it's discrimination. It's supposed to help people that have a religious belief."

Hillary Clinton tweeted about it:

"Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn't discriminate against ppl bc of who they love #LGBT

and Conor Friedersdorf went on to complain about the misdirected zeal gay-marriage converts:

The biggest affront to gay equality in America today is the fact that same sex couples in 13 states are still prevented from marrying. [...] So it is strange to see Indiana, where same sex couples can and do wed, emerge as the focus of national controversy on gay rights.

He notes that Indiana's "sad" position today is far more progressive than Clinton's own stance was just a few years ago.

As best I can remember, I have never opposed gay marriage. It's a policy that never even occurred to me until I came across an Andrew Sullivan piece on the subject. His eloquence sold me from the start. I began arguing in favor of gay marriage with my grandparents at dinner. I've kept arguing in favor of it for the entirety of my career as a professional journalist, even early on when I had editors and bosses who vehemently opposed it. Over the years, I've watched a lot of people shift from opposing to supporting gay marriage, as have we all.

His complaint that "Bill Clinton signed, and Hillary Clinton supported, federal laws that blatantly discriminated against gays" is an oversimplification: both DOMA and DADT were half-measures intended to prevent greater discrimination from being written into law.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence backtracked a bit on the pizzeria, saying "I believe in my heart of hearts that no one should be harassed or mistreated because of who they are, who they love, or what they believe. And I believe every Hoosier shares that conviction" but the O'Connor family comes in for heavy fire from Daily Kos:

You have done a great job showing exactly why this law is so awful, the kind of mean-spirited bigotry it was passed to enable, and the degree to which all of Pence's talk of the Golden Rule and how Hoosiers are too nice to discriminate has been a shameless lie. You are the perfect voice for this, which is to say you are abhorrent, un-Christian people.

Of course we know the likely next chapter of this story: the O'Connor family goes whining to the right-wing media about how mean people have been to them (on Yelp, for instance) since they bravely expressed their bigotry and announced their intention to discriminate. Cry me a damn river.

One can always count on Bryan Fischer's "big gay" nonentity:

Big Gay is not about "marriage equality" but "homosexual supremacy" https://t.co/vSbofmnc1O #Vimeo -- Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) March 31, 2015

Fox "News" complains about "these [gay] groups that are so outraged and indignant over a law that Bill Clinton supported in '93 and Barack Obama supported."

Meanwhile, CNN debunks the 'god-vs-gays' narrative by noting a Pew poll's finding that "57 percent of Catholics and 59 percent of black Protestants believe wedding-related businesses should be required to serve all customers."

Brittney Cooper decries the bigots' white-supremacist Jesus:

Just in time for Holy Week, the State of Indiana has passed a new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law explicitly permits for-profit corporations from practicing the "free exercise of religion" and it allows them to use the "exercise of religion" as a defense against any lawsuits whether from the government or from private entities.[...]

Any time right-wing conservatives declare that they are trying to restore or reclaim something, we should all be very afraid. Usually, this means the country or, in this case, the state of Indiana is about to be treated to another round of backward time travel, to the supposedly idyllic environs of the 1950s, wherein women, and gays, and blacks knew their respective places and stayed in them.

"As a practicing Christian," writes Cooper, "I am deeply incensed by these calls for restoration and reclamation in the name of religious freedom:"

Nothing about the cultural and moral regime of the religious right in this country signals any kind of freedom. In fact, this kind of legislation is rooted in a politics that gives white people the authority to police and terrorize people of color, queer people and poor women. That means these people don't represent any kind of Christianity that looks anything like the kind that I practice.

Cooper also notes that "This white, blond-haired, blue-eyed, gun-toting, Bible-quoting Jesus of the religious right is a god of their own making:"

This God isn't the God that I serve. There is nothing holy, loving, righteous, inclusive, liberatory or theologically sound about him. He might be "biblical" but he's also an asshole.

The Jesus I know, love, talk about and choose to retain was a radical, freedom-loving, justice-seeking, potentially queer (because he was either asexual or a priest married to a prostitute), feminist healer, unimpressed by scripture-quoters and religious law-keepers, seduced neither by power nor evil.

She concludes that "We need to reclaim the narrative of Jesus' life and death from the evangelical right. They have not been good stewards over the narrative." In the an-oldie-but-a-goodie department, let's recall how that "fool says in his heart" Bible verse is part of their 'asshole atheist' narrative:

Since the Christian hurling such a quote in your direction likely believes that his or her bible is worth at least some attention, I suggest that you offer a quote of your own. Specifically, I'd refer to Matthew 5:22, which says,
Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Interesting, isn't it? The Christian who squeals with delight while tossing Psalm 14:1-3 at you is risking the wrath of his or her imagined god by doing so. That being the case, I think it is probably safe to conclude that such a Christian is either ignorant of his or her bible or - and this is where it gets fun - doesn't give a damn because the transient pleasure of insulting you is worth the risk of eternal punishment.

Interestingly, I mentioned that verse-and-response pairing (two times) the previous year.

This Ted Rall cartoon is especially appropriate:

20150401-worstgodever.jpg

Does everyone remember that 26-year-old MIT graduate student Matthew Rognlie and his challenge to Piketty? Well, he's getting more press:

Rognlie's blockbuster rebuttal to Piketty is that "recent trends in both capital wealth and income are driven almost entirely by housing." Software, robots, and other modern investments all depreciate in price as fast as the iPod. Technology doesn't hold value like it used to, so it's misleading to believe that investments in capital now will give rich folks a long-term advantage.

Land/housing is really one of the only investments that give wealthy people a long-term leg up.

The piece concludes with a look toward housing rather than taxation:

If Rognlie is correct and we really care about inequality, it might be wiser to redirect anger towards those who get in the way of new housing, rather than rely on taxes to solve our problems.

Nautilus suggests that casual sex may be improving America's marriages:

For the past five years, my colleagues at Match.com and I have conducted an annual national study called Singles in America, and in each year, a majority of survey respondents have reported having a one-night stand. And 27 percent of our 2014 respondents reported having had a one-night stand turn into a long-term, committed partnership.

With data from the "Singles in America" survey, described as "an annual representative sample of over 5,000 Americans, based on the U.S. census," the piece notes that "these numbers have varied little over the past five years." The next question asked is, "Why do we hop into the sack with someone we hardly know?"

Perhaps because you learn a lot about a person between the sheets. You might even kick-start a real relationship: Any stimulation of the genitals promotes dopamine activity, which can potentially push you over the threshold into falling in love. At orgasm, oxytocin and vasopressin--neurochemicals linked with feelings of attachment--spike. With just one night of casual sex, risky as it is, you may win life's greatest prize: a devoted mating partner. [...]

Because feelings of attachment emerge with time, slow love is natural. In fact, rapidly committing to a new partner before the liquor of attachment has emerged may be more risky to long-term happiness than first getting to know a partner via casual sex, friends with benefits and living together. Sexual liberalism has aligned our courtship tactics with our primordial brain circuits for slow love.

Daniel Fincke explains how the film God's Not Dead actually denies the existence of atheists:

In the movie God's Not Dead the evangelical Christian filmmakers used atheist characters like puppets who would act out evangelical Christian stereotypes about atheists. Evangelical Christians frequently assume, unsympathetically, that were they atheists they would see no reason to be moral. So they have the atheist characters act unapologetically immorally over and over again. Evangelical Christians assume atheists would be more selfish and materialistic, so that's how the atheists in the movie act. They like to characterize atheists as basically rebellious children ignoring their loving Father who they deep down know exists but that were they to get in serious trouble they'd come running back home.

Part of the problem Fincke identifies is that "The filmmakers 'know' that atheism is not really a sincere conclusion of the head but an excuse for something going on in the heart:"

Not even someone who has a PhD and a professorship in philosophy is actually motivated intellectually to disbelieve in God. In fact, even this person whose job involves being an expert in arguments related to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of religion, etc. is only lying when he says he disbelieves in God at all! Because the Christian filmmakers "know" that atheists all know there is a God and are in denial, it turns out that Professor Radisson is lying to himself when saying he's an atheist and in fact he does believe in God and is simply angry at God for his mother's death from cancer when he was 12.

Fincke makes a personal effort to "help evangelical Christians understand what's so wrong with Christians refusing to acknowledge the actual existence of atheism:"

We former Christians have to deal with the equivalent kind of treatment all the time. We say "I don't believe in God anymore" and are told by Christians what is supposedly really the case about our own minds. We are told by other people than ourselves that we "hate God" or are "angry at God" or are "turning our backs on God". We are told this by total strangers who simply assume that they know all about atheists better than atheists do. [...]

Rather than remembering the facts about our spiritual commitments and listening to us and painstakingly trying to understand our perspective, these friends and family members are so palpably threatened by the prospect of entertaining our actual point of view that they would rather assume that we are liars in our claims to having been intellectually dissuaded and that we are immoral people who simply want to sin.

He makes a number of forceful suggestions, borne of frustration:

Some of us genuinely do not believe in God. Accept this fact. You do not need to share our disbelief to simply acknowledge its existence.

Some of us conclude there is no God and reject distinctive conservative Christian values as matters of our own sincere moral and intellectual consciences. Accept this fact. Talk to us in such a way that treats it as a bedrock premise about what is going on in our minds.

That doesn't mean you need to agree with our consciences. But it does mean you have to stop smugly acting like we are inherently more frivolous intellectually and reckless morally than you are. You reek of bigoted contempt for us when you act as though we don't come to our beliefs or values conscientiously and talk like it's some kind of obvious fact that our opinions come out of selfishness, thoughtlessness, childish rebelliousness, or moral laziness.

Atheists exist. They're not just rebellious, sinful, hateful, selfish, amoral god-haters in denial about how they really believe in Christianity.

If you don't respect this basic fact and let your acknowledgment of our existence and our moral equality filter naturally into the things you say to us, don't be surprised when you alienate us, make us angry, or even lose us from your lives.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

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