My Plan to Disarm the American Citizenry

1) Line up some big donors to subsidize the NRA.

2) Employ the NRA in whipping up fears of firearms being taken away. This leads to intimidation tactics by the NRA fringe against liberals.

3) Order NRA to give the donors copies of membership rolls. Log web signatures of all firearm enthusiasts.

4) Build coalition with Christian Right so we can build false equivalency of patriotism, Christian belief, and firearm possession.

5) Capture political process through limiting voter access for those likely to vote against us.

6) Establish theo-fascist regime.

7) Use NRA rolls and surveillance logs (see 3) to “visit” gun owners, in force. Ignore fact that such an effort is entirely undoable. God is on our side; facts and practicality are irrelevant.

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Ducking a Dynasty

My brother in-law took exception to something I said on facebook.

Ducking a Dynasty

The Meme, linked above, which I shared for the purpose of making snark:

The Snark ™:

Which agency of the United States government is preventing you from speaking?

Oh, none. Is someone with a weapon or threatening you with violence telling you to be silent?

No?

Oh, you lost that lucrative TV show. Having a TV show is a right? Where’s my TV show?

Oh, I see, some people are rudely disagreeing with you. There is a word for that; it’s called “free speech”.

The rebuttal to the Snark ™, disassembled,quoted verbatim, with my responses interlined:

(1)No he had his show cancelled because the radical LGBT people used their influence to threaten the network, not because his audience did not like him.

It is the nature of a democratic society that a big enough group of people can make enough noise and get something changed. I do not see that as a bad thing; just sometimes damned inconvenient. What would the alternative be?

(2)His audience rallyed and used their greater power to economically counter threaten those who removed him.

Good for them, welcome to the same good thing as above.

(3)FYI free speech means everybodies speech. Not just the speech 6 people who own 95% of the mass media decide is right. and yes

But of course. He used his free speech to state his opinion. I used my free speech to state my opinion about his opinion. You just used your free speech to state your opinion about my opinion about his opinion. See, it still works!

(4)pastors and others who express traditional views on Homosexuality and marriage are being threatened with lawsuits and violence, and

*citation needed* Is the threat of violence any significant fraction of the violence to which LGBT people have endured for so long? The LGBT people I know have this funny quirk that they are quite respectful and decent to those pushed to the margins or trod upon, they save their harshest words for bullies – they are all quite familiar with how it feels to be on the receiving end of a society’s disapproval. If any of them feel or express anger, do you think they have no good reason?

(5)it you had your head out of your you know where you would know this. just saying Steve

Invective (paltry though it may be)? Clearly you are quite upset about this.

The implication of the meme, and to which I was responding, is that his right to state his opinion has been violated. As a private citizen, his right to speak is not less than yours or mine. He has enjoyed a privileged position on TV which, for a time, permitted him to speak more loudly than most of us. What I think stings for him is that he expected to be able to say what he liked and anyone who didn’t like it just had to be quiet. Enough people, who had too much of just “being quiet” decided to give him a piece of their mind. Rather surprised him, I expect.

It Is About Race

This comes to me by way of Facebook.

So, let’s do the math.

U.S. population identifying as white alone = (72.41%) 223,553,265.
U.S. population identifying as black alone = (12.61%) 38,929,319.

White population is 72.41 / 12.61 = 5.74 times greater than black population.
If black people were being killed by police at the same rate as white people the number of black people killed would be (233 / 5.74 = 40.59) 41. Looked at the other way, if white people were being killed by police at the same rate as black people the number of white people killed would be
(414 * 5.74 = 2376.36) 2376.

Major math and logic error above. Let me try this again.
Black people killed by police = 233. Rate is 233 / 38,929,319 = 0.00060% of population.
White people killed by police = 414. Rate is 414 / 223,553,265 = 0.00018% of population.
60 / 18 = 3.33.
At the same rate as for black people the police would have killed 414 x 3.33 = 1,378 white people.

 

A black person is 5.74 3.33 times more likely to be killed by a police officer that a white person.

It is about race.

Wikipedia: Demographics of the United States

Edited for math 4/30/2015

Am I a Racist?

I would hope not, but, sadly, I am. I feel anxiety when a black man looks at me. I have twinges of the feeling that Asians do not have standard human emotions. All of the various ways a human can see the person who is clearly different are in me.

“But, I have black friends, people I like very much….” I do, actually. Well, one.

Racism is not hatred of an ethnic group, or individuals. It is not even mild distaste. Racism is the belief that people who look different are fundamentally different. This can take two forms: the “subhuman” and the “supernatural”. Rebecca Watson gives a great rundown of the latter, ” ‘black people are magic…’ “. Both have the virtue of excusing one from facing reality; “black people (brown people, yellow people, red people) are not REALLY like me”. Racism is learned behavior from being embedded in a racist culture. It permeates the world we live in. I have little expectation of changing this part of myself completely. At most I hope to develop a few overrides that will help me not put my foot in my mouth too often.

For all the differences between human cultures, the constants of human nature are ubiquitous. We all want to be in charge of our own lives. We all want to do the things that interest us. We all want to feel like a part of our society (you “lone wolves” are no exception). We all want the future to be good. We all want to be treated fairly. We all feel pride, shame, serenity, anxiety, certainty, and confusion. We all want our children to do well for themselves. We all want to take pride in our work. We all have frustrations with taxes. We all find our approaching death disquieting.

We are not to blame for the circumstances of our birth, but, if we want a just and prosperous civilization, we need to recognize the truth and change our culture.

‘Should Sharia Law be banned in the USA? Click “Like” if you agree.’

One of the suggested pages on my Facebook news feed asks the question above. I have two reasons that is the wrong question.

1)  People who would be the least bit interested in living under Sharia Law are a very small minority in this country. Does anyone seriously think such few people, who are not billionaires, can have much influence on our laws?

2)  If anything resembling Sharia come into force here, it will be called “Christian Morality”, or something similar. All of the effort, of which I am aware, to weaken our constitutional protections against such a thing are coming from the Christian Right. If Sharia Law takes hold here it will be because of the groundwork done by Christians.

It is truly a silly question because that is not our danger. Such questions are asked to divert attention from the real dangers to American civil society: climate change, plutocracy, theocratic fascism (oh, look! I made a new term!). If you, yes, you, are afraid of the power of a despised minority then you have fallen for the con. The powerful minority sits in the penthouse suite pulling strings and getting things their way.

Love, and revolution,

Stephen

The Contra-Costa County State Senate Race (7th dist) is getting interesting.

Fascinating: a state senate candidate’s friends have insured that I will not vote for him.

An advert put out by JobsPAC, in support of Steven Glazer, complains that Susan Bonilla voted for AB1619, 2014. The ad carries the teaser, ‘ “Why does Susan Bonilla WANT US TO HAVE BAD TEACHERS” ‘ (sic). It claims “bad teachers are holding our kids back….” and that “Susan Bonilla voted for a bill (AB 1619, 2014) that would preserve the status quo – where firing bad teachers is nearly impossible, and moving up as a good teacher takes years.” They even referred to it as “EXTREME LEGISLATION” in all caps and a scary looking font.

Yes, the bill pretty much preserves the status quo, thank goodness. This is just more of the same “reform” aimed at crippling education. It is not “nearly impossible” to fire bad teachers – it is nearly impossible to fire teachers without due process. And “moving up as a good teacher takes years” is exactly how you create a good teacher.

Due process is that inconvenient little thing that means you can’t fire someone because you don’t like them. You have to do your homework and show that they 1) did what you say they did; 2) what they did was bad for the students; and 3) that it is part of a pattern of behavior that has persisted in spite of attempts at correction. The opposite condition leaves the door open to abuse by those in authority, such as firing (or threatening to fire) the teacher that caught you with your hand in the cookie jar or who wasn’t interested in that romantic evening you suggested. Due process is a check on power. You and I should be wary of permitting anyone to be without that protection – we might be next.

A teacher is not born, but built. There are people with the temperament to be good teachers, but they don’t start life with any skills. Building teaching skills is not complete with four years of undergrad work and two years of graduate work. Those are skills that grow over decades of experience by continuous training and mentoring. And, guess who turn out to be the best mentors? Teachers, of course.

The Chamber of Commerce, who created JobsPAC, are not educators. They are pretty good at helping their members retain more of their profit, but don’t count on them to understand diddly about how good education works.

Here is the state Campaign Finance Page, for further digging. I have not delved into it; I leave that as a project for the interested student.

Go visit Diane Ravitch’s Blog for more meat. I highly recommend her to you.

Things That Go “Bump” In The Night

Consider the frailty of our species.

We are bags of water, easily punctured. Dropped from any height over 20 feet we splat. Creatures too small to be seen can kill us. Our nervous system has a poor signal-to-noise ratio. We will perceive things that are not there. We will believe without any good reason to do so. We are driven by our emotions; reason is merely the servant to assist in obtaining our desires. We must be lucky, in the extreme.

We are the heirs of a long line of lucky beings. Our greatest mistake will, I believe, turn out to be thinking we have it made.