texshelters

Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

Beyond Evil

In Education, History, Philosophy on April 26, 2012 at 17:26

picasso Guernica from http://www.abcgallery.com

Evil, like race, is a social construct that does not exist in the natural world. Justice Potter Stewart of the Supreme Court said in 1964 about obscenity that he can’t define it, but he knows it when he sees it. That is true for many people when they are asked to define evil. They don’t know what it is exactly, but they know it when they see it.

Evil is a self-defining term, “The evil man inflicts injury on himself; he would not do so, however, if he knew that evil is evil.” from Beyond Good and Evil by Frederich Nietzsche (section 190).   Ah, the tautological pleasures of evil. Evil exists by the very existence of the word evil.

The term evil is used to bring down those that stand out from the herd, “The lofty independent spirituality, the will to stand alone, and even the cogent reason, are felt to be dangers, everything that elevates the individual above the herd, and is a source of fear to the neighbour, is henceforth called EVIL…” (Ibid: section 201).

During humanity’s history, those that stand apart, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, (the church hated astronomers), Darwin, Marx, union members, atheists, homosexuals and other outliers have been labeled “evil”. Being labeled evil can justify your murder. Thus, jihadists can kill Americans, for they are part of the “evil empire”, the U.S. can kill Muslims who belong to the “axis of evil”, people can kill doctors for they are evil, and so forth. Evil is a label preserved for those that disagree with convention, the powerful or are different. In modern times, evil is a term frequently exploited by dogmatists and ideologues.

“Against such a “possibility,” against such a “should be,” however, this morality defends itself with all its strength, it says obstinately and inexorably “I am morality itself and nothing else is morality!”” (Ibid: section 202)  Thus, we can see the use of the term evil as a way to validate a particular religion or morality. Evil is what one should not do, and thus those who act opposed to these evil actions are moral. So, if homosexuality is evil, those that are married to the opposite sex are moral.

As the web page for the Christian group New Advent states, “Thus evil, from the point of view of human welfare, is what ought not to exist.”  If they are evil, they shouldn’t exist, so we are justified in killing them. So people who think others are evil and “ought not to exist” can call for their murder, as Ted Nugent recently did when speaking about President Obama.

The subjective nature of the term evil makes it useless, a word with no concrete meaning. As the Christian Heretic site says, “The problem is, there is actually no such thing as evil because “evil” is really nothing more than an English word we use to label an action or experience which we perceive in a negative way.”  In fact, the belief in evil is a superstition akin to belief in God, astrology or the Loch Ness Monster.

Nietzsche turns this back on the accusers, “According to slave-morality, therefore, the “evil” man arouses fear; according to master-morality, it is precisely the “good” man who arouses fear and seeks to arouse it, while the bad man is regarded as the despicable being.” (Nietzsche: section 260) The supposed “good” and “moral” use fear of others to manipulate us.  By defining our morality for us, religious and political leaders control us through fear, and thus they continue to gain the most from the labor and resources of this nation. While we are out fighting the evil in each other, plutocrats are writing new legislation to take away our rights, jail us and further rig the economy for themselves at the expense of the people.

The Church and mid-evil theocracies used God and fear to control the masses, and the state learned this technique and uses it today. If the U.S. had been less “moral” and less religious, and instead been more rational and scientific, we wouldn’t have been so easily manipulated to go to war with Iraq after Bush’s “axis of evil” speech. If we understood that the term “evil” was being used to get us to attack unsuspecting humans thousands of miles away (who had nothing to do with 9/11) and that the term meant nothing, we may have thought twice about accepting the war with Iraq.

Thus, the “good” person harms society by labeling those he fears as “evil”, and in doing so, they promote the very thing they rail against: anger, hatred, judgement and violence.

If I ask you to show me evil, you can’t. You would show me a picture of Charles Manson, or Pol Pot, or some other person most people consider evil. But it is not that they are evil in and of themselves, they are only “evil” because of their actions. So why not just call them “mass murderers” or “genocidal maniacs” and leave it at that? Evil is an adjective that lacks meaning separate from actions. Evil is a shorthand for so many possible actions that it has no meaning.

That “Evil” can be used to describe something unpleasant is not evidence that evil exists as a universal constant, nor the base for an argument for moral absolutes.” Herodotus 

The term evil allows us to avoid disturbing questions regarding the development of men like Stalin and Hitler by stating, “They are just evil”. In the book, For Your Own Good, noted German psychiatrist and author Alice Miller argues that it was the strict child rearing practices in early 1900s Germany that produced not only a compliant populous ready to obey a dictator after WWI, but these practices also created tyrants like Hitler that would recreate the oppressive experiences of childhood for the Germans. If Hitler had been born elsewhere at a different time, he certainly would not have become evil.

“It is too simple to blame evil people for horrifying acts of terror,” says psychologist and science historian Michael Shermer. “In a scientific worldview, however, there is no such thing as good and evil as supernatural forces operating outside the realm of the known laws of nature and of human behaviour.”

Americans are particularly succeptable to the term evil and react to it without asking why something is evil or if it is evil at all. Evil is a catchall phrase and whenever someone calls a person, issue, policy, or anything evil, you should question this persons logic and argument. Better yet, turn the page and read something else.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Tex Shelters Endorses Money for President

In Current Events, Election Politics on April 22, 2012 at 20:27

fist full of hundreds from farm4.static.flickr.com

I am tired of losing elections by voting my conscience. Last time, I supported Huckabee for his moral fortitude standing up against gay sex by comparing it to pedophilia and bestiality. Standing up for God is why the liberal media hated him so much. During this campaign season, I supported Bachmann for being courageous enough to stand against her own raped gender on abortion issues. But no more. I am going to vote for the money.

About 90% of campaigns with the most money win congressional seats, so why not vote for the richest campaign? Also, the media will be reporting incessantly about campaign money, so why fight it? Who needs policy anyway, and who can trust what a politician says? Money doesn’t lie.

Money should be the determining factor in who runs this nation. First, Congress will have to know how to work with their masters: the Kochs, Big Pharma, Monsanto, GE and the war industry, among others, to keep this nation running smoothly for them. Moreover, by requiring candidates to have millions of dollars to get media attention for their campaigns, you can ensure that power will be held at the top of the economic rung and not trickle down to the people who don’t deserve nor know what to do with this power.

This paragraph from a New York Times article called “How Much Does It Cost to Run for President?” shows how money can determine how a campaign is perceived.

“The answer to that question is remarkably complicated. It depends in large part on how much a candidate is able to raise. And it can vary wildly, from the candidate who operates on a shoestring budget to the gold-plated, multistate operations of the most serious contenders.” (Observation: Journalists will often tell us that something is “remarkably complicated” when it’s not in order to justify their jobs).

Note the words, “gold-plated, multistate operations of the most serious contenders.” The implication is that if you don’t have lots of money for your campaign, you aren’t a serious contender. Thank you New York Times for helping winnow out those loser candidates with ideas but no money.

Money not only determines the coverage you can buy, but it in large part it determines the coverage you get. The candidates with the largest bank roll often get the most free media attention because money means you are more deserving. “In terms of visibility, however, they mean everything. In primary politics name recognition equals money, money equals coverage, coverage equals name recognition, and name recognition equals–you guessed it–more money.”  It’s the law of money conservation; money gets conserved in the campaign with the most money.  Romney was twice as visible as Santorum in February despite Santorum’s three consecutive wins.  So instead of trying to hide his money and his tax statements, Mitt Romney should wave a wad of hundreds in front of him at every campaign stop to get attention like a woman might push up her chest or a man might thrust his bulge forward for the world to see. It shows his worthiness.

One positive thing I can say about Santorum is that he had the billionaire Foster Friess to back up his campaign. I like Friess for being brave enough to say what many of Santorum’s patriotic backers were afraid to say in public, that he hopes Obama’s “‘Teleprompters Are Bulletproof.’”  Only great Americans, billionaires, can say whatever they want about the president without getting into a big hassle over free speech. And luckily, Friess has billions in free speech dollars. Let’s hope he starts spending them on Romney.

Newt Gingrich also has his great benefactor billionaire, the third richest man in the U.S., Sheldon Adelson. “Mr. Adelson, by some estimates worth as much as $22 billion, presides over a global empire of casinos, hotels and convention centers whose centerpiece is the Venetian in Las Vegas, an exuberant monument to excess…”  Excess is just not on display enough in political campaigns, so I am glad Adelson is putting his cash where his mouth, Newt Gingrich, is. However, one billionaire can’t beat all of Wall Street.

And that is when I, Tex Shelters, started supporting Romney. Romney’s campaign is back stopped with Wall Street money and has cruised to victory over Santorum and Gingrich. It had nothing to do with Santorum and Gingrich just being more nutty than Romney. It had to do with all of Romney’s deserved campaign cash. Frankly, we don’t care what Romney’s positions are on social issues like abortion as long as he can give Obama a run for his money.

But then I learned that Obama gets much of his campaign money from the same donors as Romney: Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, UBS AG, and others. While most of the individual donations to Obama come from people giving $200 or less, most of his money comes form large donors. So perhaps Obama is not such a bad guy or socialist after all if he accepts all those donations from billionaires and millionaires as well.

Sorry kids, Granddad lied to you; it’s not about who you are, what morals you have, it’s about getting money at whatever the cost.  And that is why I would support Mitt Romney. Except, Obama has more money, so I will have to vote for him.  And besides, the candidate with the most money wins 90% of presidential elections. As long as Obama doesn’t challenge the basic assumptions of our economy that allows billionaires to hoard money while poverty increases, we’re fine with that. Unless, of course, Romney catches and passes Obama in the donation department.  Whoever wins, it’s a win-win for the billionaire class.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

The U.S. should “Stand Their Ground” with Iran

In Current Events, Humor on April 12, 2012 at 22:07

Israel-Nuclear-arsenal-Cartoon from thesantosrepublic.com

The facts are in: Iran may have a nuclear weapon sometime, in the future possibly, and thus we should start bombing them before it happens, in case it does. The truth is that humans make nuclear weapons, and as long as humans live in Iran, they might make a nuclear missile. Also, wars are fought between nations that disagree. Iran disagrees with Israel and the United States on many things, thus, they might start a war with us. Until we stand our ground and bomb Iran, we will never be safe from their nuclear stockpile that they might develop.

The United States has nuclear weapons, and we used them. That means as soon as Iran gets them, they will use them too. Furthermore, we know how to handle our nuclear arsenal, and we have every right to tell others to stay out of our nuclear club!

We must insure that Iran cannot deter our free exercise of violence,  and thus, we must stop their nuclear weapons programs that they might have some time in the future. Iran is not yet firmly under U.S. control, and that is also why we must attack them.

Over the years, we have sermonized about the poor judgement and education levels of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries; therefore, there is no reason to listen to their people’s concerns about the Middle East anymore than the White House or Congress listens to the concerns of average Americans.

“In the MENA countries…on the eve of the Tahrir Square uprising, 80% felt that the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons.  The same polls found that only 10% regard Iran as a threat — unlike the ruling dictators, who have their own concerns” (bold and italics mine).  How stupid is that, right? Like I make clear, they’re Africans and Muslims, so why should we listen to those sons of Allah regarding security in their region or nation?

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) isn’t doing what we want either by creating the evidence of Iranian nuclear activity. If they can’t find the intelligence we want, it’s on us to make some up. The IAEA impudently responded to our state department’s evidence about nuclear weapons development in Iran by stating,  “They gave us a paper with a list of sites. [The inspectors] did some follow-up, they went to some military sites, but there was no sign of [banned nuclear] activities” in Iran. How dare they do their jobs!

Apparently, “U.S. intelligence agencies don’t believe Iran is actively trying to build an atomic bomb” either. Who told these intelligence agencies to think? It’s their job to find what the White House, Congress and Israel want them to find. Our leaders in Washington must take on the task of creating a nuclear threat out of Iran if the U.S. intelligence agencies won’t do it. It’s clear that they cannot be trusted with fact finding, or finding the facts we want them to find.

The U.S. has about 2000 active warheads and 8500 total and Israel has 80-200 total warheads. Thus, we have the right to defend ourselves and tell other nations that they can’t have nuclear weapons.

Besides, Iran is full of wimps and losers. We’ll pound those freaks if they don’t do what we want. Their President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is just a douche bag who needs to be taught a lesson. He listens to all that gay Iranian music and practices their dorky religion. He’s such a dweeb.

We have poked Iran in the chest long enough and now it’s time to slam them up against their locker.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Lies the Media Tells about Cuba

In Current Events, History on April 11, 2012 at 20:27

The mainstream media and right-wing commentators are skilled at taking one ignorant statement by one individual and using it to promote their political ideology ad nauseum. And the right doesn’t care if they have to mislead, lie, and rewrite history to do it. In this case it was the comments by Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Miami Marlins, who when asked in a Time Magazine interview what he thought of Fidel Castro said, “I love Fidel Castro” and “I respect him.”

While Mr. Guillen’s remarks are unfortunate and surprising, this article will focus on the lies about Cuba that followed the manager’s misguided choice of words.

The lies about Cuba and Castro range from the mild, “everyone in Miami hates Castro”, to the ridiculous, “Castro is Hitler”, a statement I heard on local radio show. Here is some other misinformation that the media often promotes when discussing Cuba and Castro:

1. Everyone in Miami hates Castro. Actually, many third generation Cubans just want the U.S. to have better relations with Cuba and end the U.S. embargo. They don’t care about Castro the way their parents do, for they are Americans now.

While support of the embargo is common among Cuban Americans in Florida, it is not universal. About forty-three percent of U.S. born cubans are against the Cuban embargo, and about 60% of those arriving between 1990-2000 from Cuba oppose it.

Perhaps the newer Cuban arrivals are against the embargo because they have seen the negative impact it has on the health and lives of the people of Cuba while the U.S. born and older Cubans did not live through the U.S. embargo and see its damaging effects.

2. Castro has hurt every Cuban, everywhere. In fact, under Castro, education levels went up in Cuba and they created one of the most cost efficient and in some ways effective health care systems in the world. Cuba has a near 100% literacy rate,   comparable with the United States. And while the U.S. ranks 37th on the WHO healh care rankings and Cuba ranks 39th, the U.S. spends about 2.5 times what Cuba spends per capita on health care and has a similar life expectancy.

“”Cuba’s achievements in social development are impressive given the size of its gross domestic product per capita. As the human development index of the United Nations makes clear year after year, Cuba should be the envy of many other nations, ostensibly far richer. [Cuba] demonstrates how much nations can do with the resources they have if they focus on the right priorities – health, education, and literacy.””
— Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, April 11, 2000

And no, that doesn’t excuse Fidel Castro of his human rights abuses against some, but the facts give a clearer picture of Cuba.

3. Castro and socialism ruined the Cuban economy. After 50 years of the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, it’s hard to lay the blame for Cuba’s poverty entirely on Castro’s economic policies. Moreover, “In her last report to the Human Rights Council, the Personal Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Cuba described the effects of the embargo on the economic, social and cultural rights of the Cuban people as “disastrous”.33

4. The Embargo will bring regime change in Cuba. Can we really believe this after 50 years?

“No one familiar with US practices in the region or elsewhere can possibly believe that the goal of intensive US terror operations against Cuba and harsh economic warfare was intended to “bring democracy to the Cuban people.” That is just propaganda, unusually vulgar in this case.”

5. Castro is Hitler. This was a ridiculous comment I heard on talk radio in Tucson. And yes, Castro has violated the rights of many of his people.  But there was only one Hitler, and this lazy hyperbole is used by those who lack the talent to be more nuanced.

6. Castro overthrew a democratic Cuban government. Actually, Castro overthrew the dictator Batista who five years earlier had overthrown the democratically elected Carlos Prio in a military coup.

“The Batista dictatorship was overthrown in January 1959 by Castro’s guerrilla forces. In March, the National Security Council (NSC) considered means to institute regime change. In May, the CIA began to arm guerrillas inside Cuba. “During the Winter of 1959-1960, there was a significant increase in CIA-supervised bombing and incendiary raids piloted by exiled Cubans” based in the US. We need not tarry on what the US or its clients would do under such circumstances. Cuba, however, did not respond with violent actions within the United States for revenge or deterrence.”

6. Things were better for Cubans before the revolution. Cubans lived under the oppressive dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista who imprisoned hundreds of dissidents and turned Cuba into a playground for mafia bosses and sugar companies that profited off of near slave Cuban labor.

Batista was a tool for the Cuban and U.S. bourgeoisie and increased the suffering of the poor under his brief dictatorship. Castro helped many poor at the beginning of his regime by nationalizing the property of the wealthy, land and American businesses, to fund his social programs. The wealthy classes in America didn’t like that and went after Castro.  We will never know if his economic socialization program would have succeeded; the U.S. embargo of food, tools, hardware, manufacturing equipment and other tools of industry made Cuban economic advancement impossible.

7. Cubans in Miami and Florida are a monolithic group that share the same ideology. They vary in opinion by age, gender and geography.

9. All Cuban refugees are political refugees. Nope, many have been economic refugees.

“Jorge Ferragut, a Cuban immigrant who founded Casa Cuba, an agency that assists Cuban immigrants arriving in Texas, said in a 2008 article that many Cuban immigrants of the first decade of the 21st century left due to economic instead of political issues.”

“In contrast with the Cuban exiles of the 1960s and the 1970s who left the island for political reasons, the last two waves left mostly for economic reasons.” So when you hear right-wing pundits screaming about all the bloody bodies in the water of those that suffered under the tyranny of Castro, remember that many of those bodies were economic refugees that may have stayed in Cuba were it not for the U.S. embargo. Also remember that many of the recent Cuban immigrants came to Miami and Florida on a plane.

10. All Cubans are conservative. Cubans, just like Mexicans, Chinese, Poles, Irish, Germans, African Americans, are not just one ideology or another. A 2006 Pew Research poll reports that 28% of Cuban considered themselves Republican, and 20% considered themselves Democratic. That’s hardly a monolithic right-wing block of Cuban voters we see in the mainstream media.

The main point is to educate yourself and not buy into the conservative, mainstream media misinformation about Cuba, Castro, and Miami. One should always question the media portrayal of issues, and Cuba is not an exception.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

The Mainstream Media Ignores Illegal Arrests of Tucson Occupiers

In Current Events, Occupy Movement on April 7, 2012 at 21:28

Arrests at Occupy Tucson from azstarnet.com

On Friday, March 23, Paul Gattone, the lawyer representing many of the Occupy Tucson arrestees, held a press conference to protest the Tucson Police Department’s recent actions against the occupiers at Vente de Agosto park downtown. Despite the fact that five occupiers had been arrested two nights before the press conference, and two the night before, no mainstream media turned up.

One might think that seven arrests resulting from the police going after political activists would seem to warrant some news coverage, but the decision makers at the mainstream news outlets in Tucson decided not to cover either the arrest of the occupiers or the press conference denouncing the police actions.

Some of the extra-legal actions and abuse of authority by the Tucson Police Department that were highlighted in Mr. Gattone’s press release include:

1. Camping gear is now illegal, according to the TPD. The TPD even stated that it was illegal for one of the Occupiers to have his truck parked alongside the park because it had camping gear in it. No ordinance was, however, cited by TPD regarding laws against having camping gear in the back of one’s vehicle.

2. The police have repeatedly ignored the city park curfew of 10:30 p.m. to illegally arrest people whose crime appears to be holding signs. On the evening of Friday, March 23, 2012 at around 9:30 p.m., three individuals were arrested while walking within the four feet easement mandated by the police the night before. The victims were protesting with signs; no blankets or any other personal possessions were present. One individual was reportedly knocked to the ground and injured as the TPD arrested the three.

3. Among the illegal and irresponsible police actions are constantly-changing definitions of park and sidewalk boundaries and the subsequent entrapping and arresting of protestors.

4. The TPD has exercised selective enforcement, violated their own policies with regard to handling evidence, and refused to return personal property of protestors in deliberate indifference to the law. Many occupiers had their possessions confiscated without property receipts given to them as is mandated by city law. Moreover, for many of the protestors, the jackets, clothes, shoes and other necessities taken by the TPD and never returned constitute all of their worldly possessions. Regardless of what you think of Occupy Tucson, the police actions constitute illegal seizure of property.

The unlawful actions and abuses of Occupy Tucson by the TPD warrants investigation and reporting. However, the mainstream media is only interested in scratching the surface of a story and not taking a longer view of a new movement.

Thus, even when the local media reports on Occupy Tucson, they report various allegations about there, e.g., “being a split” in the movement, or about drugs being used, or fights, or anything that will get attention and ratings so they can sell more car commercials on the page or at the next news break. These stories are part fabrication, part conflation and none of these stories are backed up by interviews with actual occupiers.

Instead, the media relies on “official sources” and, in our case, that means the police, Chief Villasenor, and the city council; the media seldom actually talks to the people in movement. It is true that the mainstream media did give some coverage to the Occupy movement in its early days last fall, but now that coverage has disappeared. We have to ask why is it that they no longer seem to have any interest in covering the occupy movement. Is it because Occupy is no longer the new and novel sensation that it was in October? Is the decision to ignore the movement intentional, and why is Occupy Tucson no longer news worthy? Are they saving an extra column of space or five extra minutes to cover, for example, the new Arizona football coach even though the economic and political inequality Occupy Tucson focuses on effects everyone?

Whatever the reason, this lack of media coverage presents a problem for Occupy Tucson and all social movements because in the modern world of politics it often seems that if you aren’t covered in the mass media, you don’t exist. Thus, members of Occupy Tucson, even though we undertake actions of creative disobedience that result in a whole string of arrests, are then asked by members of the public whether we even exist because “they don’t hear anything about the Occupy movement anymore.” On the positive side, the experience of being frozen out of the mainstream media has reminded all of us at Occupy Tucson why it is that alternative media is so important.

Peace,
Occupy Tucson
Co-authored by Greg Evans, Paul Gattone, and Tex Shelters of Occupy Tucson with help others in OT


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