Archive | March, 2010

Right-wing hate groups on the rise in US

31 Mar

This past week right wing hate groups were brought to the forefront of media attention when 9 members of the christian militia, Hutaree, were arrested and indicted of plotting to kill a Michigan police officer, and then bomb the funeral procession in an attempt to kill as many police officers as possible.

To them the federal government is the embodiment of the anti-christ, any and all government officials the foot-soldiers of the new evil world order. These guys are grade A crazy, but unfortunately they are not alone.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of right-wing “patriot” groups have surged from 149 in 2008, to 512 in 2009, an increase of 244%. (A list of these groups can be found here)

The SPLC is careful to make this distinction about “patriot” groups:

“Patriot groups define themselves as opposed to the “New World Order,” engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing, or advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines. Listing here does not imply that the groups themselves advocate or engage in violence or other criminal activities, or are racist.”

I also want to make the distinction that these groups, these militias, are perfectly legal under the 2nd amendment to the constitution:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

So we have some data here. Right wing groups have grown drastically since 2008. The SPLC has also kept track of 73 instances of violent crimes, often including murder, committed by people connected to such right-wing groups since 1995 when Timothy McVeigh slaughtered 168 people in the Oklahoma City Federal building.

What could be the reason for the jump from 2008 to 2009? The SPLC believes that it might be linked to the election of a liberal black man. I’m inclined to agree since they point out that the number of active groups declined during the presidency of conservative George W. Bush; but this is not proof of cause and effect.

Secondly, why right wing hate groups? Where are the left wing hate groups? I did some looking around, and they are much harder to find than right wing hate groups. The nearest I could find was the Weather Underground, but they fell apart after 1973. Some might also claim that organizations like Greenpeace and PETA are left wing hate groups, but I would argue that they are not the same thing. Sure they have members that sometimes commit crimes like vandalism and destruction of property, but we don’t see Greenpeace or PETA creating organization wide plans to murder people that we find in right-wing groups.

I would think that the reason right-wing groups tend to be more violent is because they are often made up of angry white men with extreme religious and political views, whereas left wing groups are made up of angry tree-hugging hippies.

Atheism and Death

30 Mar

Recently a friend of mine’s grandfather died. She is religious and made some comment on facebook about how the whole thing got her thinking about heaven: Is there one? Is my grandfather there now?

Well I know tact and not wanting to be a jerk in her time of grieving, I merely said that my thoughts were with her. But this got me thinking about Atheism and death. How do you treat people who are grieving because of a death?

To answer her question “is there a heaven?”, no. There is no heaven, there is no hell. This is going to sound very painful and very blunt, but there is nothing after this life, the person is gone.

Yeah, I know, it hurts and it’s ugly. But here is what people don’t want to accept: what we want to be true, and what IS true are not the same thing.

The fact that when we die we are gone forever is such a painful and scary thought that people turn to religion for comfort. Even if it is a lie, believing in that lie is easier than facing the facts.

This fact amplifies everything. What I mean by that is it amplifies the grievousness of loss at the same time it amplifies the preciousness of life. A person and their life is all the more beautiful because they are only here once. Treasure it. At the same time, murder and war all the more heinous because they destroy something so immensely precious. The cold unyielding fact is that there is no justice beyond this life. As much as we will there to be, no amount of wishing will make it so. For this very reason it is so important to fight for justice here and now, that’s the only time you might get it. (But I digress)

So how do you comfort someone without turning to comforting delusions? Well, the main thing you can do is to help them cherish the memories they have. Grief is a cycle, and the best thing you can do is be there for someone.

Political violence in the US

29 Mar

Political violence in the US quickly escalating since the passage of health care reform. People have been shattering windows, ramming cars, sending powder laced letters to representatives, even cutting gas lines! Meanwhile, politicians offer half hearted, limp wristed calls to stop the violence.

(The above incidents were all targeted at democrats, but apparently some thought it would be a good idea to do the same thing against republicans in Albemarle County…..)

All this violence is really quite disgusting. People don’t get their way, and instead of working to change things in the next election, they take to sending representatives death threats and vandalizing property. People on both sides need to calm down; this is not some banana republic, it’s the United States. I’m afraid that if things keep going the way they are now, people are going to start shooting.

Terrorism: -noun the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious

View of Tea Party changing

28 Mar

Despite my usually hardline attitude on this blog, I’m not an unreasonable person. If someone calmly presents their case for an argument I’m willing to listen, and depending on their points, might even change my mind.

This has recently happened with my view of the Tea Party movement….sort of.

For the longest time I felt nothing but disdain for the group that I saw as silent during the Bush crimes and record deficits. I viewed them as completely created & led by Fox “news”; gullible angry people being manipulated by big business and special interest. I viewed them as the people who felt the republican party was not conservative enough. An angry mob that claims to love the constitution without ever having read it.

Well, my views have changed a bit.

As for the origins of the Tea Party movement, as it turns out, they did exist back during the Bush ear as the Pork Busters. Apparently they targeted the republican big spenders who were running the deeper and deeper into debt. This is a cause I can applaud. I hate earmarks on both sides of the aisle, and any attempt to cut the pork is good with me.

So what about my view of the tea partiers being silent during the Bush years? Well, if they were supportive of pork busters, then that’s obviously not true. Yet I still feel a bit the same way about the people who are only now just joining up with the tea party. Some attribute this to the economic collapse, but that still doesn’t address the issue of destroying the constitution.

I hear Tea Party protesters claim that Obama is destroying the constitution, and they are furious. (I have looked, and I can’t find any examples other than some people complaining about guns) But for the people who just recently joined up with the Tea Party movement after the republicans lost power, I’d like to ask “Why were you not  joining massive protests against the patriot act, or warrantless wiretaps, or indefinite detention, or the suspension of habeus corpus?” Those were far more drastic and real attacks on the constitution by Bush than anything Obama’s done. Or do you only care about the constitution if your wallet is being threatened?

As for my view that Fox “news” created and have been leading the Tea Party movement, that’s also changed. I accept that I was wrong about that, but it does look like Fox is trying its damnedest to capitalize on the Tea Party by portraying these protesters in a light drastically different from how they portrayed the massive anti-Bush agenda protesters. (But that is more of an attack on Fox than the protesters, for what “fair and balanced” news station would go to such lengths to promote one agenda over another?)

I can empathize with the anger of the Tea Party protesters. The rage they’re feeling now is something I grew up with. That type of anger, but directed at Bush, was constant. I can recognize that some of their aims are good. Smaller government, less waste, reducing the deficit, those are things I can get behind, yet it’s the side effects of the medicine that worry me.

While the Tea Party tends to avoid social issues, if they get power and the issues are laid at their feet, at the end of the day, a great deal of them are conservative. (Or I could be wrong, perhaps they are mainly true libertarians, socially liberal and economically conservative. But I get as riled up over social issues as they do over economic ones, if not more so.)

God is a volcano

26 Mar

So I found a really interesting video I thought I’d share with ya’ll.

Should I buy a gun?

25 Mar

So lately I’ve really been thinking if I should buy a gun. The political climate in this country is starting to worry me. With Tea baggers throwing bricks and cutting gas lines, conservative bloggers calling for the assassination of the president, and Fox “news” constantly inciting their viewers to violence, I’m afraid that the violence is only going to escalate. I’m even more worried that when the republicans take power in 2010, there is going to be a strong crackdown on human rights and other freedoms. Worse, if they do not take power in 2010, I’m pretty sure that will be the last straw. After being drunk with power for 8 years, they really can’t swallow the idea that the American people voted them out.

I’m really thinking of buy a gun to protect myself and my rights of freedom of speech and religion from right wing nuts who would take them away. Part of me on the other hand however doesn’t think that buying a gun is a good idea. Nothing good will come of it. The more the victims we are the better. When the crazy nut cases go over the brink and start wholesale shooting liberals, as I’m afraid some will do in the future, the rest of the sane world will see them for who they are; and then we win.

Healthcare is NOT a Gov. take over!

25 Mar

Everywhere you turn, you find frothing at the mouth morons screaming that this is a government take over of healthcare. Take your collective heads out of your asses and look around for once before you just guzzle down the shit Fox “News” feeds you.

So, what was in the health bill that Obama signed?

Prohibits excluding children with pre-existing conditions

Temporary High-risk pool for uninsured with pre-existing condition

Prohibits dropping people when they get sick

Lower senior citizen drug prices by closing donut hole

Allows children of dependents to stay on until age 26

No charge for preventative services to prevent you from getting sick in the first place

Real quick, here is the definition of socialism:

–noun

a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
Did the government take over the health insurance companies? No. They’re still there and they’re still going to try and shaft you on coverage to the best of their ability. So don’t worry, you’ll still be given the run around with your health in the name of profit. A government take over of healthcare was never really on the table. (But Fox “news” didn’t want you to know that because they like to keep their viewers scared shitless and ready to grab their guns) The closest thing to government take over would have been the public option, which most Americans really wanted. That would have created a government insurance company, separate from the private companies, which would then allow for more competition. The market would then drive prices down as the gov. would do things for less. People could still keep their private insurance and buy through those private companies if they wanted, but the rest of us would be able to buy the government insurance. Unfortunately, the private insurance companies didn’t like the idea of competition in their market and so they worked with their bought and paid for republican allies and killed that section of the bill.
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