BREAKING: Richard Dawkins, live organ donor!

I’ve got a new post up at Secular Woman: Loyal Readers™, please give Richard Dawkins a warm welcome to the Palace Abattoir!

RDvesuviusdonor

No doubt he will have much to discuss with his fellow involuntary donors-in-residence, as they pass the time waiting until someone has a life-threatening condition requiring one (or more) of their body parts. Just for starters, there are the 447 active and retired members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who I am told are most anxious to hear more of his insightful pontifications on the relatively minimal harms of “mild pedophilia.”

Happy Labor Day Weekend, USAians! Remember when the U.S. labor movement was really something to celebrate? Yeah, me neither.

Reality: It’s Not For Everyone.

[UPDATED: added new and/or improved links. Also, WordPress ate my post title. I found this entirely unacceptable, so I am putting it back. Take that, WordPress!]

People, I just don’t know why I bother to click on linkbait at mainstream American media outlets like the Washington Post. Today, I got suckered by We think our enemies are idiots, and that’s a problem: The psychological explanation for our partisan strife, by psychologist and assistant professor of management and organizations at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Adam Waytz. The piece is full of false equivalencies between conservatives and liberals, and finishes up with the usual pointless whinging:

“if we believe our political opponents are as rational, thoughtful and empathic as we are, then we are likely to pursue political compromise through rational debate, civil discussion and collaborative analysis of the facts.”

What bubble does Adam Waytz exist in, where American conservatives are rational, thoughtful and empathic? In this amazing Bizarro Bubble, the Republican party actually wants to pursue compromise, and Fox News thrives on rational debate, civil discussion and collaborative analysis of the facts.

FACTS?! Bwahahahaha!

If you truly believe that women cannot get pregnant from “legitmate rape,” you are definitely not rational or thoughtful. If you think uninsured people should be left to die, you have a cavernous empathy deficit. In either case, you should not be anywhere near a public office, because holding an “alternate view of reality” is not only about being flat-out wrong factually, it has demonstrably harmful and often deadly consequences. That makes it morally wrong, too.

Here is the gist of what apparently passes for insightful analysis at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and as publication-worthy by the esteemed editors at the Washington Post:

Another example is Thomas Piketty’s claims about income inequality to climate change. His champions who believe in rising income inequality and his detractors who see little cause for concern both say the other side is biased. Climate change believers and skeptics alike see their opponents as mistaken and lacking in basic analytical skills.

The arguments here, such as they are, rarely grapple with the interlocutor’s alternate view of reality, let alone the merits of the point. Rather, they center on the other side’s deficient mental capacity, and all the ways that “you” are less reflective, less rational, less empathic and more biased than “I” (or “we”). In other words, we see our opponents’ minds — their capacity for reason, emotion, thought and desire — as less sophisticated than our own minds, a phenomenon my colleagues and I have termed the lesser minds problem.

That’s pretty hilarious, because “the lesser minds problem” is a perfectly apt description of both the source of this crap and how it ends up in the Washington Post. You see, in the real world, income inequality is either rising, or it is not. (SPOILER: it is.) Man-made climate change is either happening, or it is not. (SPOILER: it is. Even the Department of Defense knows it, and is acting accordingly.) “Rational debate, civil discussion and collaborative analysis of the facts” will get you precisely nowhere with those whose minds are not remotely interested in actual, verifiable, demonstrable reality.

Remarkably, Waytz comes close to nailing the problem with this:

If I believe that I think more thoughtfully than you and feel more deeply than you, then it makes little sense for me to try to reason with you, much less listen to what you have to say.

Exactly correct. But he thinks the problem lies in merely believing that one’s political opponents are less thoughtful, rational and empathetic, not whether this is actually true and what to do about it. Worse, he appears to have no idea that conservatives are not only constitutionally resistant to facts, but that exposing them to more facts makes conservatives even more resistant. It does indeed make little sense to try to reason with conservatives, much less listen to what they say (except to mock it, of course).

Waytz really thinks he’s on to something when he scolds us:

This suggestion to disavow oneself from beliefs of mental superiority is preached often, but rarely practiced.

And thank the fuckin’ Lard it is rarely practiced. I hate to break it to Waytz, but conservatives in both parties (and Republicans especially) are openly waging war on Social Security. Unions. The environment. Education. Food and water. Immigrants. Cancer patients. Muslims. The poor. Gay and trans people. The oceans. Palestinians. The middle class. Black people. Brown people. The young. The elderly. The disabled. Science. The Earth. The godless. History. Women.

If conservatives were even remotely rational, thoughtful and/or empathic, would any of that be the case? Further, even if it were possible, when we are talking about life and death issues, why would anyone with any sense and empathy ever want to pursue “political compromise” on such matters, through “rational debate, civil discussion and collaborative analysis of the facts” or otherwise?

You know what? It doesn’t matter to me one whit if global warming deniers think I’m the one with a lesser mind. “Alternate interpretations of reality” are neither legitimate nor worthy of respect to the extent that those interpretations do not comport with, you know, actual reality. I am sick and tired of the Waytzes (and Linds, and Mooneys) not only ignoring reality themselves, but urging us all to respect and accommodate those who remain stubbornly, intractably untethered to it—and proud of it.

Lesser minds, indeed.

Ask Iris: Do you wish your mom erred on the side of abortion?

A stranger named GoodChoice wandered into the Palace last night, reeking of the distinct stench of an entirely unwarranted sense of superiority and smugness that has lately become all too familiar around here. Has Dunning-Kruger released a new fragrance or something? Anyway, GoodChoice spouted off in response to a comment by giliell, but it might just as well have been directed at practically anyone else participating in that thread. So please, giliell, if you would be so kind and allow me the honor of responding. 

Q. Do you wish your mom erred on the side of abortion?

A. Hahaha. HAHAHAHA! Did you really think this question was, I don’t know, some sort of gotcha? Is this the kind of thing you Forced Birthers sit around trying to come up with, then snicker at your own cleverness and slap yourselves on the back? I mean, this question is so utterly devoid of thought, so patently ridiculous, that you should probably stay far, far away from the internet so you do not continue to embarrass yourself.

NEWSFLASH: My mom had an abortion. If she had not, then it is probable that neither I nor my amazing sister would be alive today. Nor would my amazing nieces exist.

OMFG I AM SO HAPPY MY MOM HAD AN ABORTION!

You see, the way reality works is that that when a pregnant person chooses to abort, her life takes a different trajectory than if she instead carried the fetus to term. It’s true! And it is especially true for young women without committed partners or the support and resources required to raise a child. It is also true for women with existing children (the majority of abortion seekers, BTW), and for women who care for others already dependent upon them. All of those lives would be profoundly disrupted by the presence of an unwanted child, and sometimes even by the pregnancy itself. The number one reason women have for choosing an abortion is “concern for/responsibility to other individuals,” which certainly puts the lie to the Forced Birther claim that women who abort are “selfish.”*

Further, there are indeed many people who would answer this inane question with “I wish my mother had aborted me.” They have thought deeply about the implications. I will not speak for them here; I will only say that your ignorance of their very existence is inexcusable, and rather telling.

Here is some free advice, cupcake. Learn to think competently. It will make a positive difference in your life, the lives of those around you, and the world at large.

We hope this edition of Ask Iris has been helpful.

__________
*Actually, I would go even further in reply to the demonstrably false “selfish” claim: so the fuck what if she puts herself and her own happiness first? The cultural trope that the expected and proper role for all women at all times is that of self-sacrificing caregiver cannot die in a fire soon enough. She can have an abortion and finish high school or college. She can have an abortion and more easily get out of an abusive relationship. She can have an abortion and not interrupt her important research, or her promising career at a critical stage. My mother might not have had the extraordinary career she did. And that would have been a tragedy not just for her and her kid(s) after my father ditched her, but for all of the people whose lives she touched along the way—including, incidentally, the patients at a local abortion clinic.

Iris HEARTS Neil deGrasse Tyson.

neildegrasstysonNice interview at io9: Neil deGrasse Tyson explains why the new Cosmos matters so much.

Tyson: I want to clarify that the goal of this Cosmos is not to update the science. A lot of science has happened in the last 35 years. We’ve discovered a thousand exoplanets, for example. But that’s not the goal, because any time of day you can channel surf and find a documentary about black holes, colliding galaxies, the search for life, the Big Bang, dark matter, the Higgs-Boson, etc. There’s no end of documentaries that serve that goal.

Cosmos has, as its mission statement, the effort to convey to you why science matters. That is a different motivating factor than “Here’s all this science I want to teach you.” When you take ownership of why science matters, then you are self-motivated, driven. You take the responsibility yourself to continue to learn. It’s a new Cosmos not because there’s so much more universe to talk about, but because the country and the world needs to know more than ever why science matters.

The director of photography for the new series is Bill Pope—the director of photography for The Matrix trilogy. OMFG I am totally geeking out ovah heeyah.

The new Cosmos premieres this Sunday, March 9th on Fox.

Aww, you guys…and it’s not even my birthday!

Oh, you jokers! Okay, obviously one of my beloved Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ has an absolutely brilliant talent for satire and parody. A comment we received today (on a 3 year old postnice touch!) is way too hilariously, jaw-droppingly stupid to have emanated from an actual conservative. In fact it is so perfectly idiotic, it’s fucking genius. Behold “olliek”:

The characteristics attributed to the fictional CPD perfectly describes the modern statist liberal. I suggest a reading of “Liberty and Tyranny” by noted conservative Mark Levin just to test depth of your ignorance regarding the nature of conservatism. Indeed, it is liberalism that is a mental disorder as it rejects the lessons learned by humanity over the millenia in favor of a mythical utopia that will never be realized, but has been the reason that hundreds of millions of people have been executed or killed in the attempt at implementing such a twisted vision of human order. As Thomas Sowell has said: “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it”

Awesome, amirite? Nearly a dozen symptoms of Conservative Personality Disorder are on vivid display in just those four sentences. But the thing that really puts it over the top, and had me rolling on the floor with side-splitting laughter when I saw it, is the Gravatar image of “new” Palace commenter olliek:

olliekgravatarGravatar image of “new” Palace commenter olliek. Hahaha!

liberalfascism

Goldberg’s hilarious book with Hitler smiley face.

Geddit? It’s a smiley Obama, ‘shopped with a Hitler mustache and Hitler hair!  Wow, way to resurrect a classic old trope—why, it was all the way way back in 2007 that the irrepressibly flatulent Jonah Goldberg shat forth “Liberal Fascism,” a spectacular embarrassment even by conservative standards. And that is saying something, my friends.

Well, I don’t know what to say. I am so humbled and grateful to have a readership as sharp and witty as mine clearly is. This “comment” is one of the most touching and meaningful gifts anyone has ever given me, and I shall treasure it always. Drinks are on me at the Palace Bar! We will be serving Mustache Rides (equal parts butterscotch schapps, grain alcohol and milk—soy milk for vegans!— mixed with crushed ice and garnished with mint leaves).

*cheers!* Whoo-hoo! You guys are awesome!

What?

Okay fine, you all seriously want to pretend this is for real? All right, I’ll bite. It’s the least I can do for you comedians. Pencils ready, class?

__________

The characteristics attributed to the fictional CPD perfectly describes the modern statist liberal.

Projection: it’s not just for movies anymore!

The symptoms characteristic of CPD as delineated in my piece are not “attributed to” a “fictional CPD.” These are behaviors observed in self-proclaimed conservatives.

Before moving on, let us also take note of olliek’s use of the word “statist.” Although we sometimes see this word deployed as a slur by the leftist anarchist—with whom we share a good deal of common ideological ground, by the way—it is usually a dead giveaway that we are instead dealing with a particular subspecies of conservative, the Libertariansus wankerpus. When spotted in the wild, specimens can be easily identified: plumage is typically blindingly white, and males are frequently observed jerking off furiously to Ayn Rand’s terrible, terrible books.

I suggest a reading of “Liberty and Tyranny” by noted conservative Mark Levin just to test depth of your ignorance regarding the nature of conservatism.

Mansplainer is mansplainy: film at 11.

As Loyal Readers™ well know, I have spent much of my adult life to the study and careful analysis of conservatism (as well as much of my childhood surviving it). I have pored over endless tracts by William F. Buckley, Phyllis Schlafly, George Will, Milton Friedman and Ann Coulter; I have sought enlightenment in the work of Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and S.E. Cupp. I have listened to Rush Limbaugh and watched Fox News for hundreds of hours. I am a regular reader of The Wall Street Journal editorial page as well as various and sundry right-wing publications and blogs. Moreover, I have witnessed along with the rest of humanity the horrific destruction and devastation unleashed upon my country, people all over the world and the planet itself by the conservative policies of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and a long line of predecessors, both within government and without.

And yet! I am still directed to read this or that writing, by so-and-so Big Willie or such-and-such doucheweasel. Listen: I have satisfied myself beyond any reasonable doubt that there is nothing new in any of it. Not one single thing. All of it boils down to: an entirely unwarranted sense of self-regard and entitlement; desperate and fanciful rationalizations for one’s own unearned privilege, resulting in the characteristic detachment from reality, wild mischaracterizations of history, and rejection of hard-earned knowledge; and a blundering, comical narcissism. Or, in more colloquial terms: “I’ve got mine, jack! Fuck you! And especially fuck THEM!”

Indeed, it is liberalism that is a mental disorder as it rejects the lessons learned by humanity over the millenia in favor of a mythical utopia that will never be realized,

Wow, the dumbassitude is strong in this one.

First, we note that our new friend neglects to say exactly which “lessons learned by humanity over the millenia [sic]” liberals reject due to our unfortunate mental disorder. Here are some lessons that, broadly speaking, liberals have gleaned from history:

  • Religion is a blight on humanity and has absolutely no place in governance.
  • Humans are a social species, with all that entails. We are interdependent. Chew on your bootstraps while you think about the ramifications of that. Go ahead. We’ll wait.
  • Humans flourish far better with government structure and a meaningful social compact than without.
  • The rule of law is a necessary but not sufficient for justice.
  • Diversity is a strength.
  • Empathy is not a weakness.
  • Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
  • Social democracy is so far the best of all these terrible democratic systems.
  • Free markets aren’t free. We all pay the price—except for the richest of the rich, who just collect the spoils.
  • War is stupid, evil and expensive. It is rarely necessary, and justified only in self-defense. Defense contractors should all be non-profits, because war profiteering is a terrible idea.
  • Women are people.
  • Corporations are not people.
  • Conservatives are dangerous shitheads, and we should never let them anywhere near power. They have shown themselves to be enemies of democracy, opposed to equality in principle.

Meanwhile, all conservatives have apparently gleaned is the following:

“I’ve got mine, jack! Fuck you! And especially fuck THEM!”

Second, the myth of the “mythical utopia” is a favorite trope conservatives like to fling, right along with their poo, and yet no liberal worth her L has ever seriously advanced such a notion. No, I’m afraid that distinction belongs to kooky separatist conservatives, Christian dominionists, and delusional supernaturalists of many stripes who conveniently claim with certainty that utopia exists all right, but only after you die.

What’s really going on in olliek’s fevered mind is as simple as this: conservatives are pathologically terrified of change. They cling so desperately to entirely fictional notions of “order” and habitual routine that they will resist any change, no matter how minor or beneficial to themselves and everyone else. So when anyone comes along and says, “gee, maybe racially targeted mass incarceration and private prisons are terrible fucking ideas,” or “hey, let’s legalize pot and tax it to pay for education,” without fail the conservative subject will become noticeably animated and apoplectic, spewing forth bizarre non-sequiturs like “mythical utopia!” and “death panels!” and “global warming is a hoax!” (See also: “Benghazi!”)

The reality of course is that there is nothing remotely “mythical” about social democracies: they actually exist. They are by no means perfect, but they are demonstrably better by nearly every metric of human happiness and well-being than the dystopic shithole these depraved conservatives want to see the U.S. become.

but has been the reason that hundreds of millions of people have been executed or killed in the attempt at implementing such a twisted vision of human order.

You see, our friend here pretends to understand a correct and proper vision of “human order.” Ooh! Ooh! Lemme guess: it’s a “natural” hierarchy, which just so happens to have arrogant white male fuckwits prancing around on top of it.

Once more: social democratic welfare states actually exist. It’s true! And yet remarkably, instead of executing and killing them, these nefarious regimes actually provide their citizens with things like single payer healthcare, so that they live longer and happier lives than Americans do. (Christ what a dumbass.)

As Thomas Sowell has said: “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it”

In case it matters (it doesn’t), Thomas Sowell is a conservative liberturdian “free-market” proponent out of the Chicago School of Economics, à la Milton Friedman. That would be the very same “free market” that gave rise to the 2008 banking collapse, and to the unregulated chemical storage facility that leaked (again) in West Virginia. From his statement we can readily see that Mr. Sowell, like every fascist, is anti-liberal and anti-intellectual (despite having earned a Ph.D. himself). He has also apparently never heard of Sweden, Spain, Finland, Norway, The Netherlands, France or the U.K.

How…sad.

In short, it is well worth remembering exactly what it is that conservatives wish to conserve: a status quo that is racist, sexist, violent, amoral, ubercapitalist, hierarchical, heteronormative, patriarchal, and viciously social Darwinist—an imperialist oligarchy in a state of permanent war.

Thanks to “olliek” for the timely reminder.

You guys…!

Dear friend: Words have meanings.

[TRIGGER WARNING: images of embryos, f-bombs.]

In the space of less than five minutes, things turned very ugly. Maybe you won’t even read this, and that’s fine: you owe me absolutely nothing. Nor I you.

I am still angry and deeply hurt, but less so as the days pass. It’s good to know where I really stand with you: that my happiness and my life (to say nothing of the lives and happiness of billions of other people) mean less to you than this does:

week9humanembryo

FIG 1. Human embryo at 9 weeks clinical gestation. (Optical Topography)
Actual size = approx. 2.3 cm.
Three quarters of all U.S. abortions are performed by 9 weeks.
(9 weeks is also the cutoff for a medication abortion via mifepristone.)

Our mutual friend said that I took your words beyond their face value to mean something you never intended. Well, that is because your words have meanings. Those meanings have dire and direct consequences for real people. And those consequences include pain, suffering, misery, destitution and death for untold millions of actual people, right now, today.

Those consequences, as you know, also include my own death, should I get pregnant and not have access to a safe abortion. If you don’t know what your words mean, perhaps you shouldn’t say them. On the other hand, if you do know, and you say those words anyway, then I repeat: FUCK YOU.

When you express opposition to abortion on demand, your words mean that you view all of this as perfectly fine: My death. Their deaths. Their poverty. Their children’s poverty. You would condemn real people to death, to a life of misery and suffering. And for what? For this:

mouseembryoFIG 2. embryo.
(NOTE: NOT ACTUAL SIZE!)

OH WAIT, I’m sorry. I got mixed up. That’s ^ a mouse embryo up there, not a human embryo. Sure looks a lot like that human embryo, though. And yet, nothing like a mouse. Weird.

mousevsembryoFIG 3. Mouse vs. mouse embryo.
Can you tell which is which?

batembryo

FIG. 4. Embryo.
UM, NOT ACTUAL SIZE.

That you believe this —> is precious is demonstrably wrong. It isn’t. Half of all fertilized eggs spontaneously abort. And yet for some reason we’re not holding millions of funerals for them. Why is that? No, seriously: why is abortion only a grave moral tragedy when a woman chooses to end her pregnancy—something that happens half the time anyway? Nature doesn’t give a shit about human embryos. They’re not even worth a dime a dozen. But you? To you, a single embryo is worth more than my life, my freedom, my happiness, and my humanity, including my right to decide what goes on inside my own fucking body. Do you even understand how fucking devastating it is for me to know that you care more about this—> than about me? That a tiny, unconscious, unwanted creature is more worthy of your love and respect than I am is heartbreaking.

So since you don’t give a fuck about me, what about the people who do love me and stand to lose me forever if people who “think” like you do get their way? (And they are indeed getting their way, both here and abroad.) That you can look my friends and family right in their faces and hold the views you do absolutely terrifies me. It makes me question my own judgment about getting close to anyone ever again, even if a person seems as truly compassionate and thoughtful as you once did. I do not trust people easily, and for good reason. As you know, many people in my life have devalued, abused and objectified me. Used me for their own desires and purposes, without ever giving even the slightest shit about my own. I will not stand for it anymore. Not from you, not from anyone.

Whoops, that image up there^ is a bat embryo. My bad.

batvsbatembryoFIG. 5. True fact: one of these is a bat embryo, and the other is a sleeping baby bat.
???

humanblastocystday5

FIG. 5
human blastocyst
day 5

I pointed out the fact that my cat is more sentient than a blastocyst, and you asked me—repeatedly—”How do you know?” Three answers:  (1) the sciences of embryology and neurobiology which inform us when it’s even possible for a creature to be conscious and aware, (2) it doesn’t even fucking matter, because it’s grotesquely immoral to force me (or you or any other person) to be a slave to anyone else who needs to suck my blood in order to survive, whether that person is sentient or not, and (3) the exact same way you know. That’s right: you know the difference between sentient and non-sentient beings. And I’ll prove it to you, with an old thought experiment. It goes like this: you find yourself in a burning building and all exits are blocked except one, which happens to be in a fertility clinic you must pass through to escape. The flames and smoke are almost unbearable. As you make your way toward the exit, you see on one side of the room a small box marked “100 Live Embryos” (technically they’d be blastocysts at this point, but since we’re pretending we’ll pretend they’re actually embryos eight weeks older). On the other side of the room, you see a live human infant completely oblivious to the imminent danger. You will only have time to take one of these with you on your way out, before the room is completely engulfed in flames. It’s the baby or the box. Which will you take?

Here, look—I made a graphic to help you make up your mind:

babyvsembryosFIG 6. dozens of human embryos vs. one human infant.
Choose carefully!

Well?

If you chose to save those embryos, then let me just say on behalf of myself, the baby you would let burn to death, and the rest of humanity: FUCK YOU.

If you chose to save the actual baby, congratulations! You’re a decent, intelligent, compassionate human being who knows the difference between non-sentient embryos and a sentient baby—and you really should fucking stop saying words to the effect that you don’t.

Are there not enough unwanted children? Are the world’s orphanages empty? Are there not enough grindingly poor pregnant women in the world’s overpopulated slums and housing projects, starving themselves because they cannot even feed their existing children? Can the planet even sustain the billions more people that would result from your preferred policies? Women with unwanted pregnancies are so desperate not to give birth that they will knowingly seek unsafe abortions, or attempt dangerous terminations themselves with whatever is on hand. A knitting needle. A coat hanger. A twig or stick. They have done so for all of known history, when they were not otherwise busy dying in childbirth from their umpteenth pregnancy.

We know that outlawing abortions does not stop them, but it does fill hospital wards with women dying of sepsis infections and hemorrhaging. Well, at least those “lucky” ones that can make it to a decent hospital in time. We know that denying women abortion on demand kills, maims and impoverishes them and their families. It reduces their humanity to that of subhuman incubators, enslaved against their wills, to this:

catembryoFIG. 7. Adorable tiny baby embryo. Awww.
Actual size = less than 2 cm.

But you’re okay with all of that. This ^ thing is more important to you than women deciding whether, when and how often they wish to go through a nine month pregnancy followed by the violent expulsion that is giving birth, to become a mother with all of the responsibility that entails.

Did you know that a woman who carries a baby to term is 14 times more likely to die than she is from a legal abortion? And that’s to say nothing of birth complications including fractured pelvis, infection, hemorrhage, genitovaginal fistula, vaginal tearing, or the 15% of women who experience nerve damage leading to incontinence of stool or urine and sexual dysfunction. Childbearing is one of the most dangerous things a woman can do; it’s the sixth most common cause of death among women age 20 to 34 in the United States.

Now, given all of that, who should decide whether, when and how often someone goes through all of this? Why, other people. Of course.

My rage, sadness and contempt at this level of cruelty and disrespect knows no limits.

It’s physically revolting to me. Literally: I am barely holding down my breakfast as I write this.

OH SORRY! That’s ^ a cat embryo. I got confused for a minute because it’s so gosh darn cute. Maybe someday it will look like this:

kitty2FIG. 8. Mah kitteh.
She would probably miss me if I died for a fucking embryo. Okay, maybe not.

The moral ground here is not murky. This is not something on which reasonable, thoughtful and compassionate people can just agree to disagree.

This is an excised tubal pregnancy:

week6tubalFIG. 9. This little fucker would have soon killed its human host if allowed to remain.
Kill it! Kill it with fire!

Maybe for some reason you had just not thought through the consequences of your position on abortion until now. That really is the best possible interpretation I can think of for the things you said: that you were simply thoughtless. Then again, perhaps it’s not thoughtlessness but ignorance; that is, you honestly had no idea what your position actually leads to for me or other people. As you have long been a loyal reader of this blog and are a well-informed person generally, I would find that exceedingly difficult to believe, but I guess it’s possible.

A third possibility is misogyny: the deep, abiding hatred and distrust of women. Maybe I can do something to remediate the first two, but not this one. If you’re inclined to view women as less capable, less intelligent, less human than men, and less deserving of the basic human rights and bodily autonomy that you enjoy—and let’s be clear, forcing someone against her will to stay attached to a growing, blood-sucking fetus for nine months followed by the violent and dangerous expulsion that is giving birth, and to bring into the world a child she does not want is a particularly vile form of slavery—well, I don’t think I can help you with that.

Unfortunately statements like this one of yours make me lean toward the misogyny hypothesis:

“Since the man is on the hook for 18 years of child support, he should get a say.”

As if a mother is not also responsible for supporting her child. As if a mother’s support does not also go far beyond financial support, to a life-altering, all-encompassing, 24/7/365 commitment for at least 18 years that a father can walk away from if he chooses not to seek custody or visitation. Once there exists another person in the world, however, they are both responsible for the welfare of that person. As they damn well should be. Wanna pay less child support? Split custody.

I asked you what “a say” would look like. You know: in real, practical terms. Would the sperm donor get to make a speech about his opinions on abortion and childbirth to which the pregnant person would be forced to listen? No. Read something he wrote about it? An official filled-out form, maybe? No. Well what, then? I’m just saying, he should have a say. What does “a say” mean, exactly? Why wouldn’t you answer this question?

I strongly suspect it’s because “a say” means it should be his decision whether she will either abort, or be forced to have his child. And you just couldn’t come right out and say that to me.

Fucking patriarchy, how does it work?

That’s some fine company you’re in: the religious right and the Catholic church, patriarchal people and institutions whose contempt for the very notion that women are human beings entitled to the same human rights as anyone else knows no bounds. Wherever the Catholic church or the religious right has the political power to outlaw abortion, thousands of women are maimed from unsafe abortions, and they and their children are frequently condemned to lives of hunger and desperate poverty when they are forced to have children. This is what that looks like. This too. I am dumbfounded at people defending these policies when they have seen exactly where the ideology of prohibiting abortion leads. FACT: it leads to no fewer abortions, only to more dead and maimed women and orphaned children. This is what that looks like. [<—WARNING: extremely graphic image. NSFW]. This and this, too. Even the U.S. government does not view my sex as equally deserving of the basic rights all the Real Humans™ enjoy. This is the text of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

The amendment failed.

And thus women can be treated as incubators, valuable only for incubating a fetus: a woman jailed for murder because she attempted suicide while pregnant; a woman denied chemotherapy for leukemia because she was pregnant; a woman dead from a septicemia because she was denied an abortion;  a woman dead from a forced C-section she did not want. And on and on. Mandated 3 business day waiting periods. Parental consent laws. This is what it means to treat a pregnant woman as less human than the mere potential human she has growing inside her. There is no justification for it; it is only the logical outcome of your view and those who share it. I get it: a fucking fetus is worth more than an actual living woman to them, too. Well FUCK THEM, TOO.

I’ve had a few pregnancy scares, you know. Despite taking precautions. It is true that I am personally privileged enough to have the means to escape to a saner country (e.g. Canada) to have an abortion should that become necessary. But (1) I did not always have this economic privilege and may not always, and (2) this is not just about me, but about millions of other pregnant Americans who cannot get to the next county, much less to the only clinic remaining in their entire state, without putting their jobs, themselves, or their families at risk of social ostracism and poverty.

Forced pregnancy is slavery. No one would call it any differently if you were involuntarily tethered to another person and forced to sustain that life for nine months (followed by a violent expulsion from your body cavity that might very well result in the skin and muscle between your testes and your anus being torn open). No one would ever call you free.

I am no one’s slave. My humanity is not negotiable. It is not something upon which well-intentioned people can reasonably disagree. It is not something anyone who claims to love me can dismiss or deny, and then still expect me to keep them in my life. Disrespect me at the peril of our friendship. Because as long as you honestly believe people like me should be enslaved against our wills to keep some other person alive—baby or no—you are not now and never were my friend.

A long time ago you lost a loved and wanted infant, and for that I am truly sorry. Would that all children brought into the world were so loved and wanted. But the fact is they are not. And you would use your personal tragedy as an emotional weapon, as if it somehow supports the notion that all pregnant women should be forced to give birth to children they do not want?

How dare you.

Only one of these is a person:

irisvs7weekembryoFIG. 10. Iris’s ladies room selfie, Halloween 2013 & 7-week old human embryo.

The one you care more about says everything I need to know about you.

We’re all wrong. Some of us are less wrong.

Because he hates me and will go to any length to distract me from my Very Important Work here at the Palace, my Loyal Subject™ SJ sent me this image, noting that it’s a jpeg, not an animated gif:

illusion[IMAGE: A grayscale image of a square made of small cross-hatch marks surrounded by a square frame of the same cross-hatch marks. The square in the center appears to float above the image and move; the effect is more pronounced when scrolling.]

I was forced—forced, I tell you!—to copy/paste it from SJ’s email, print it to pdf and then view it just to assure myself that this is indeed a still image. (I have uploaded it here as a .png to avoid image degradation from .jpg compression.)

This is not the first time I’ve been amused by an optical illusion, of course. But it got me thinking about the ways in which our perceptual systems are wildly imperfect instruments. Our brains evolved for survival and successful reproduction, not for perfectly capturing and accurately interpreting phenomena we encounter in the real world. The very notion that the world we experience in our minds is an accurate reflection of reality is itself an illusion, and a very powerful one at that.

Nor is that illusion restricted to sensory systems, either: our cognitive processes, memory recall and moral intuitions are all subject to dozens of known distortions, biases and logical fallacies, and probably some unknown ones, too. It’s enough to make one wonder whether the profoundly flawed and fallible human brain is even capable of knowing enough about itself to ever overcome these obstacles to the point where we can actually know anything at all about ourselves or the world.

But of course we do know some things, and that’s because we have powerful tools to work with: evidence, sound reasoning, science. I am currently reading Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World, the subtitle of which is Science as a Candle in the Dark, and it very much speaks to this. See also: lesswrong.com, where one can learn to apply the scientific understandings we have about our biases to improve our thinking and decision-making.

But unfortunately, there is something else frequently found plaguing the human mind, something that has so far proven nearly impossible to overcome: I speak, of course, of Conservative Personality Disorder. As the planet’s foremost expert on this subject, I can say with some authority that those who suffer from its ravages (meaning: everyone else in the world) have a particular cognitive skill that the CPD case does not: the ability to change one’s mind when evidence disconfirms one’s belief, instead of—as lesswrong.com puts it—”being able to explain anything.”

It is no accident that conservatives want to destroy science education. You see, they “know,” despite mountains of evidence from multiple disciplines proving the opposite, that the fact of biological evolution is not true, and so they want 100% evidence-free creationism taught to the nation’s schoolchildren in science classes instead. These are the same kinds of people who wanted Galileo Galilei’s head on a spike for the capital crime of believing that, despite how it may look from our vantage point, the Earth in fact orbits the sun and not vice versa. Right-wing conservatives are all Flat Earthers of one stripe or another: the only difference is which phrase of scripture they point to when what they think they “know” is contradicted by actual knowledge about reality. Needless to say, this is not exactly sound reasoning, and it necessarily follows that all evidence that runs counter to their delusion(s) is summarily dismissed, no matter how compelling it is. You cannot reason with the unreasonable. Well okay, technically you can, but it will not get you anywhere, and may in fact have the opposite effect from what you intended.

In a recent piece for Alternet, Amanda Marcotte put it this way:

The Christian right has become the primary vehicle in American politics for minimizing the problems of the real world while inventing imaginary problems as distractions. Witness, for instance, the way that fundamentalist Christianity has been harnessed to promote the notion that climate change isn’t a real problem. Average global temperatures are creeping up, but the majority of Christian conservatives are too worried about the supposed existential threats of abortion and gay rights to care.

I mean, what can you say to someone who “reasons” like this:

Climate change is not really happening and even if it is happening it’s not humans’ fault and even if it is our fault it’s god’s will.

Nothing. That’s what. This is precisely why we here at the Palace recommend pointing and laughing. Because if there is one thing conservatives absolutely cannot stand for, even more than changing their minds based on reality, it is ridicule and mockery aimed in their direction. But lest we get too high on our horses, it is well worth reminding ourselves that while we may have tools to help us overcome the failings of human nature, we are all wrong about many, many things. For instance, that square up there sure as hell seems to be moving. But recall what I did to confirm whether or not this was truly the case: copy/pasted it from SJ’s email, printed it to a pdf file and viewed the result. This is how I can say, with virtual certainty, that it is indeed a still image. Similarly, it is how you can say, if I still cling to the belief that the square is moving, that I am wrong.

Here are a few more helpful and humbling reminders that we’re all wrong. I would be interested to know whether conservatives are less likely than others to believe that these are in fact illusions, rather than that their misperceptions are correct.

illusionmond-vergleitchEbbinghaus illusion: The two orange circles are exactly the same size.

illusionrevolvingcirclesRevolving circles: Look at the black dot in the center of the two circles, and move your head closer and farther away. The two circles seem to rotate.

illusionKanizsatriangleKanizsa triangle: there is no white triangle. Your brain put one there.

illusionjastrow1Jastrow illusion: Which is larger, A or B?

illusionjastrow2With their left sides aligned, the lower figure appears larger. A & B are exactly the same size.

illusionchecker1Checker shadow illusion: which square is darker, A or B?

illusionchecker2The colors of A and B are exactly the same.

Go forth, my beloved Loyal Readers™, and try to be less wrong.

Peter Singer needs his ivory tower windows cleaned.

petersinger

Peter Singer

Peter Singer is a world-renowned moral philosopher, beloved of liberals, humanists and secularists everywhere. For decades he has published and lectured profusely on ethics concerning a broad range of subjects, notably bioethics, animal rights, world poverty and hunger, euthanasia, abortion, and George W. Bush. Singer is currently a professor of bioethics at Princeton University, the venerable Ivy League institution 50 miles outside of New York City.

Project-Syndicate published today an essay by Singer, in which he shares with us his thoughts about NSA’s domestic spying programs recently revealed by Edward Snowden. And my Lard, it’s a whopper of a jawdropper. The stunning ignorance of facts and history on display here has us seriously musing over the possibility that the good professor has, by the sheer force of his esteemed intellect, somehow propelled himself into an alternate universe. How else to explain this?

I don’t feel outraged. Based on what I know so far, I don’t really care. No one is likely to be reading my emails or listening in on my Skype calls. The volume of digital information that the NSA gathers would make that an impossible task.

I don’t even know where to begin. How about here: if it’s true that no one is likely to be reading your email or listening to your calls, it’s only because you present no meaningful opposition whatsoever to the status quo — which, need I remind you, is a corrupt, de facto oligarchy that benefits from perpetual war. So… congratulations, I guess? Or perhaps it’s just because you are not a journalist. The Associated Press seems pretty outraged over having 20 of their phone lines tapped for two months (including reporters’ personal numbers). What are they so worked up about, anyway? It’s not like the Obama administration’s actions have brought investigative journalism to a standstill or anything, or that this president will surpass Nixon as the worst president ever on national security and press freedom.

Oh wait.

Instead, computer programs mine the data for patterns of suspicious activity that intelligence analysts hope will lead them to terrorists.

Peter Singer thinks the data is only mined by computers and only for terrorism. How adorable.

The process is not all that different from the data collection and analysis that many corporations use to target their ads at us more effectively, or that give us the online search results that we are most likely to want.

Yes, yes, I can see that: there is obviously no meaningful difference between data collection and analysis by companies that want to optimize my Google search results or sell me a new floor lamp versus by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The question is not what information a government, or business, gathers, but what they do with it.

No, the question is precisely “what information a government, or business, gathers.” For one thing, the near-total merging of government with business has rendered any practical distinction between the two non-existent. But more importantly, we know exactly what they will do with it. They will of course do what governments always do with such information: entrench their own power and suppress dissent. We know this from, you know, pretty much all of history — including the recent history of the United States.

I would be outraged if there were evidence that – for example – the US government was using the private information that it scoops up to blackmail foreign politicians into serving US interests, or if such information were leaked to newspapers in an effort to smear critics of US policies. That would be a real scandal.

Dear Dawg. The U.S. government has long been training tyrants and their military and police forces in torture and assassination to serve U.S. interests, engineering violent coups and murders to put and keep those who serve U.S. interests in power, deposing and otherwise interfering with democratically elected officials and others who have even the merest whiff of leftist tendencies, and backing brutal dictators around the world for the past century. But obviously, it is utterly preposterous to even suggest that the U.S. government would ever stoop so low to use NSA’s information to blackmail foreign politicians into serving U.S. interests. Perish the thought! And heaven forbid information were being leaked by the government to smear critics of U.S. policies: it’s not as if there is any precedent for that, or any reason whatsoever to suspect that it continues. Why, that would be a real scandal.

If, however, nothing of that sort has happened,

It almost certainly has.

and if there are effective safeguards in place to ensure that it does not happen,

There are not.

then the remaining question is whether this huge data-gathering effort really does protect us against terrorism,

It clearly does not.

and whether we are getting value for money from it.

To say nothing of the other costs we have paid to erect an enormous, unaccountable surveillance apparatus while militarizing the country’s police forces, or whether those astronomical sums would be better spent on, say, healthcare.

The NSA claims that communications surveillance has prevented more than 50 terrorist attacks since 2001. I don’t know how to evaluate that claim, or whether we could have prevented those attacks in other ways.

Well, I guess that’s that, then. Case closed!

The value-for-money question is even more difficult to assess. In 2010, the Washington Post produced a major report on “Top Secret America.” After a two-year investigation involving more than a dozen journalists, the Post concluded that no one knows how much US intelligence operations cost – or even how many people American intelligence agencies employ.

*shrug* Whatever.

At the time, the Post reported that 854,000 people held “top secret” security clearances. Now that figure is reported to be 1.4 million. (The sheer number of people does make one wonder whether misuse of personal data for blackmail or other private purposes is inevitable.)

Yeah, it’s a mystery whether that would ever happen.

But you know, I don’t feel outraged. Based on what I know so far, I don’t really care.

Orwell’s playbook.

George Orwell’s literary classics, the dystopian novel 1984 and the allegorical Animal Farm, are scathing, satirical critiques of authoritarian regimes. They stand to this day as dire warnings of what happens whenever and wherever such forces are unleashed. Orwell famously coined the name “Big Brother” for his fictional dictator who watches everyone in order to quash any dissent from the status quo. Since then, the term “Orwellian” came to mean a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and deliberate manipulation of facts about the past.

But for all intents and purposes, “Orwellian” has now become a useless adjective, at least since the Bush administration gave polluters the gift of the “Clear Skies Act” and the “Healthy Forests Initiative” that might as well have been titled “No Tree Left Behind.” The Bushies marched far, far beyond the realm of satire as they gleefully gutted the Earth, the Treasury and the U.S. Constitution for the material benefit of themselves and the rest of America’s Owners, all under the cover of euphemisms that would make poor George Orwell cringe. The Obama regime, of course, is a much slicker operator: it crafts messages that on the surface appeal to most Americans’ values, and then it goes and does the opposite, in secret, by spinning interpretations that suit its own ends. For the most part, those are exactly the same ends so well-served by BushCo.

Manipulation and distortion of the past is a full-time right-wing hobby; for example, the rewriting social science and history textbooks for public school children in order to “correct” actual history, in much the same way they worship an English-speaking, blond-haired, blue-eyed Jeezus who, in a happy coincidence, hates all of the same people they do. But the other aspects of authoritarianism Orwell warned of — control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation and denial of truth — are on vivid display in all of their grotesqueness on C-SPAN. Apparently, rather than read Orwell’s writings as a terrifying cautionary tale, America’s Owners and their government servants instead took his books to heart as instructional how-to manuals. Whether we like it or not, we too have moved beyond satire: only when we read Orwell literally does American political culture make perfect sense.

If you want a peek at the playbook, I recommend you read (or re-read) 1984 and Animal Farm. In the meantime, here are a few gems plucked from the novels and from the man himself to get you started.

From 1984:

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental , nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink. -source

Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me. -source

Big Brother is Watching You. -source

War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.
-source

“You are a slow learner, Winston.”
“How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”
“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”
-source

From Animal Farm:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which. -source

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. -source

“Ah, that is different!” said Boxer. “If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.” -source

Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer — except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs. -source

From the man himself:

The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human. -source

Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. -source

Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac. -source

Everyone believes in the atrocities of the enemy and disbelieves in those of his own side, without ever bothering to examine the evidence. -source

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. -source

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle. -source

Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. -source

There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when ‘our’ side commits it. -source

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever. -source

If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them. -source

Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations. -source

In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act. -source

One thing I’ll say for these authoritarian panty-sniffers, from the president on down, is that while I may never truly understand their pathological compulsion to spy on, dominate and control their fellow citizens, they fit the banal, utterly predictable archetype that Orwell described so astutely. They have probably been with us since we shook hands and parted ways from our common ancestor with the chimps, and will probably be with us until we do the Earth the solid favor of going extinct (or we find a cure for Conservative Personality Disorder). In the meantime, the only course of action that offers even a sliver of hope is for citizens who like to fancy themselves “free” to remain hyper-vigilant and do their utmost best to keep these @$$holes as far away as possible from government power, and indeed from positions of authority in every institution, including the nuclear family.

Oink, oink.

Goddess of the Market: A Most Unpleasant Person, In Life and Legacy.

This is a guest post by Palace alum SJ, who has been on hiatus from regularly contributing to this and other publications. We are thrilled to have him grace our esteemed halls once more. A cocktail reception in his honor will be held in the bar from now until… well, whenever.
-The Palace.

_________

On those rare occasions when I reluctantly get drawn into discussing Ayn Rand with some sloganeering libertarian wackjob – and they’re ubiquitous, I tell you! – I enjoy pointing out that I have actually read Rand’s flatulent, preposterous, egomaniacal, contrived, sophomoric, simpleminded, interminable comic books without drawings. I figure conveying that information might give me momentary standing in an insular, arrogant mind obsessed with deluded, self-righteous resentment over being required to pay taxes in support of the public welfare. I think they call taxation “thievery.” Assholes.

I do not always disclose that my brief exposure to Rand’s one-dimensional superheroes and arch-villains occurred more than 50 years ago, not long after she wrote that rubbish. Fortunately for me, that was in the midst of a two-year, late-teen reading mania when I was devouring mostly good literature, and so I quickly moved on to less tendentious, more nuanced, more human, material. But I never forgot that brutal assault on my youthful, impressionable mind – and I still suffer from remembering far too many details from The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I could sign up to be a subject in a selective-memory-erasing clinical trial to try to get rid of the disturbing imagery imprinted by her much-too-fictional characters caricatures. But even if I were accepted into a study, it would be just my luck to be assigned to the placebo group; so I guess I’ll have to deal with it on my own. Maybe this diatribe will prove therapeutic.

Anyway, my Randian superhero phase lasted two or three months, at worst. If I had come upon that grandiose drivel at a more mature stage of life, say, 24 or 25, I might have recognized it immediately for what it was and treated it with the mockery it deserves, perhaps something along the lines of this barb, attributed to Dorothy Parker:

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

(Irony alert: Parker supposedly wrote or said that about another novel, The Cardinal’s Mistress, written by another wannabe philosopher with grandiose plans for humanity – the swaggering Benito Mussolini.)

I could have phrased my mockery in the same spirit, directed to other young people who had swallowed Rand’s grotesque version of reality: “This is not a novel to be digested. It should be thrown up with great force.”

It may be of interest that youthful infatuation with Rand’s quasi-philosophy, followed by “outgrowing her ideas,” is a known phenomenon, according to the Wikipedia entry on the philosophy of Objectivism. The conclusion is worth noting:

Supporters of Rand’s work recognize the phenomenon, but attribute it to the loss of youthful idealism and inability to resist social pressures for intellectual conformity. In contrast, [Rand biographer] Jennifer Burns says some critics “dismiss Rand as a shallow thinker appealing only to adolescents,” although Burns thinks the critics “miss her significance” as a “gateway drug” to right-wing politics.

Libertarians’ virtual worship of Rand might therefore be said to betray their chronic immaturity, which would be consistent with my position. Like her, they seem to be living in a fictional world where they envisage themselves as superheroes (Howard Roark, John Galt, Dagny Taggart) fending off the sniveling masses (Romney’s 47 percent) and “collectivist” villains (liberals, moderates). What an irony that one of Goddess Rand’s prime principles – I think she thought she was channeling Aristotle – was, “Reality is real.” Too bad she hadn’t the slightest skill at creating any semblance of reality in her so- called novels. About the only response I can be bothered to make these days to the massive reality-distortion field she created is, “Give me a fucking break!” Objectivism, my ass – she should have been arrested for vandalizing the noble concept of objectivity.

So the only problem I have with this graphic that triggered my rant is that the word philosopher belongs in scare quotes.

AynRandPosterPhilosopher, my ass. If Ayn Rand is a philosopher, Michele Bachmann is a Constitutional scholar. Rand is the late-night infomercial of political philosophy. In a sane, educated society, she would be a standing joke, à la Bachmann.

As always, in an effort to remain fair and balanced – and if memory serves – I’ll sort of agree with The Goddess Rand on this one thing: she loathed Christianity, chiefly for its insistence on subservience and humility (not that we’re seeing much of the latter these days). That was a position she forcefully expressed in her fictional screeds. So why are her prominent right-wing disciples (Paul Ryan, Alan Greenspan, Clarence Thomas, Ron and son, Senator Rand Paul, et al.) so reluctant to acknowledge her militant atheism? Could it be because their overwhelmingly Christian-right supporters would be turned off??? (Insert a big, fucking DUH here to acknowledge the predictable political hypocrisy. And note that Christians similarly ignore all the nasty, embarrassing stuff in their “Good Book,” like how it supports slavery.)

In case you were skimming and missed the nuance, here are the cliff notes: Libertarians are immature, superficial, sloganeering ideologues. Or as the graphic says, “self-entitled pricks.” For all their intellectual pretensions, they are not serious thinkers and are not worthy of serious attention. Except for this: In the U.S. – and maybe only here, which, when you think about it, says a lot – they have become a political force to be reckoned with, along with their fundagelical™ Christian allies in the “Grand Old Tea Party” clown circus. Those unlikeliest of partners have joined forces to fight a war against democracy, social justice, and inclusiveness; they are poised to seize the opportunity to turn the country into a B-movie laboratory where they can actually run their half-baked, half-assed thought experiment.

Which almost guarantees that this weird marriage of cross-purposes – followers of the Goddess of Greed embracing the minions of Jezus – will appeal to a large percentage of low-information Americans.

How many Americans qualify for that label? I dunno; but as a North Carolinian still reeling from the November mugging, I’m certain it’s a large percentage.