Hitting them where it hurts.

On Freethought Blogs’ Freethought Resistance page, I posted a new petition (via CREDO Action*) to Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Chair Chris Van Hollen demanding he refuse to allocate campaign funds to any Democratic senator who votes or strikes a deal to advance the confirmation of right-wing extremist Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Directing your activism time, energy and resources toward Democrats, particularly with regard to primary campaigns, is vitally necessary. A primary challenger does not need to win in order to pressure the prevailing candidate to move left on issues that matter. There are far too many corporatist, corrupt conservatives in the party, particularly in leadership positions. If we want to put the pressure on where it counts, we need to take every opportunity to go after wayward conservative Democrats in every way possible. (Yeah I’m looking at you, Chuck Schumer.)

Read the background on the petition and then please sign if you are so inclined.

Because fuck these d00ds, that’s why.

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*CREDO is a lefty activist mobile company: every month it allocates a portion of its revenue to various activist non-profits, as voted and allocated by its customers. (CREDO is, for example, Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donor.) Consider switching to CREDO as your mobile carrier, and stop funding anti-democratic corporations that fund conservatives like AT&T. They offer pretty much all the same deals on phones, contract buyouts, incentives, fees, etc.

Attention fellow New Yorkers: please sign & share.

From our friends at Refuse Fascism and Stop Mass Incarceration Network [NOTE: I live in the 6th Precinct]. [NOTE: I live in the 6th Precinct.]

Iris —

#RiseUp!
eNewsletter of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network NYC * March 25, 2017

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Drop the Charges Against the Stonewall 4!

WE DEMAND – DROP THE CHARGES ON THE STONEWALL 4

Monday, March 27, the trial of the Stonewall 4 is scheduled to start.  The Stop Mass Incarceration Network is calling on everyone to stand up in support and demand that NYC drop all the unjust charges against them.

Who Are They?

The Stonewall 4 are members of the NYC Revolution Club who were part of a Refuse Fascism contingent at the February 4 Solidarity Rally at the Stonewall Inn, a beautiful outpouring of thousands who rallied to protest the Muslim Ban & come together in support of LGBTQ rights.

At the end of the rally and as the Revolution Club was packing to leave, they were confronted by NYPD officers for no apparent reason and 4 Revolution Club members were arrested.  They are charged with 7 misdemeanor crimes including Obstructing Governmental Administration and Resisting Arrest which carry a possible year’s sentence on Riker’s Island.  The charges are outrageous.  People of conscience must not stand aside while dissent is criminalized.

Take these actions in support:

SIGN the Petition!

Add your name to the Petition to NY District Attorney Cyrus Vance and Mayor DeBlasio: Stonewall 4 – DEMAND ALL CHARGES DROPPED!   Spread this widely on social media, to your friends, family and colleagues.

Court Support!

Monday, March 27, 8:30 a.m. – COME TO COURT!  Rally in front of 100 Centre Street, and come into the courtroom with the Stonewall 4.   We will show the Court that we have their backs and that there are people throughout the community who will not be silent in the face of this attack. Invite on facebook. Facebook Event

DONATE!

DONATE  for legal expenses. $3,000 is needed.  Your donation of $100, $50…even $10 will make a difference.


Sunday March 26 Potluck: Meet the Stonewall 4!

Please note time date and time change

6:30 – 8:30 pm Location: Asian American Writers Workshop, 112 West 27th Street 6th Floor, Manhattan (between 6th and 7th Avenues).  Trains: F/C/E to 23rd Street; #1/R to 28th Street

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Demand the NYPD Stop the surveillance and political suppression of Revolution Club and Refuse Fascism activists!

Demand the DA drop these outrageous charges immediately

Stonewall4@100Centre

Originally published from March 21, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

There is a pattern of NYPD stalking and surveilling political speech coming to light— from the moment Refuse Fascism first published a full page ad in the New York Times individuals have been targeted for political and legal persecution for spreading the urgently needed political message, “NO! In The Name Of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America!”

What you can do:

  • We need to raise $2,500-$3,000 to cover legal costs for a mainly volunteer legal team so please donate generously here: https://RefuseFascism.org/donate and indicate it is for legal expenses.

  • Sign and spread this petition and video on social media.

  • Next Monday, March 27, pack the courtroom.

  • Join a fund-raising potluck on Sunday, March 26.

On January 4, the day that Refuse Fascism printed a full-page ad in the New York Times, Refuse Fascism activists including several Revolution Club members went outside Fox News headquarters in New York City with a five-foot tall enlargement of the New York Times ad. As they were marching down the sidewalk towards the subway they were followed by NYPD vans, flashing their lights, and an entourage of around 8-12 NYPD officers. These stalkers followed them throughout the city, and all the way 35+ blocks downtown to a Refuse Fascism meeting happening in Greenwich Village, making sure to switch to cops from a different precinct as they got closer downtown and entered that precinct’s jurisdiction on the way to the meeting.

On January 12, New York police [from the 6th precinct] stalked, arrested, and brutalized a young person associated with Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club. She and a friend were walking through Greenwich Village, on their way to a publicly announced Refuse Fascism event. She was carrying Refuse Fascism posters tucked under her arm. When her friend went into a store to pick up some food, a woman walking behind her read her sign aloud: “Stop Trump/Pence.” Seconds later, this woman—an NYPD cop in plainclothes—and two other cops, also not in full police uniform, grabbed the young woman and began manhandling her. Several police cars arrived, and the assembled NYPD force pushed her up against a car, and shoved her face against the trunk. The police subjected this woman to hours of abuse—political, physical, sexual, and psychological. And in addition to this she has been charged with three misdemeanors facing up to a year in jail. To read the fuller account, go to revcom.us.

On February 4, 2017, as the “LGBT Solidarity Rally” at the historic Stonewall Inn was drawing to a close, four people, revolutionaries with the NYC Revolution Club, and volunteers with Refuse Fascism, were brutally attacked and arrested by the NYPD. They are being charged with seven misdemeanor crimes carrying up to a year’s sentence on Rikers Island.

In a statement Noche Diaz and the other defendants said, “We were at Stonewall to stand with people against the first iteration of the inhumane Muslim Ban. We challenged and connected people with the need to confront the fascist nature and direction of this regime, and that protest alone would not be enough; we need to build a movement and drive the regime from power, and do so not just for ourselves, but in the name of humanity. We were attacked for bringing out this message. We have previously been stalked and arrested by the authorities, followed, and harassed by police and Trump fanatics.”

The stakes of these cases are very high—a key part of fascism is the trampling on and tearing up of civil and legal rights, and there are moves across the country to further criminalize protest, to erode and eliminate the room to even oppose the moves by the regime against the people and the planet. [Read more]

Should the NYPD be able to get away with stalking, harassing and arresting those people who are putting before society the horrors facing humanity with the installation and consolidation of the fascist Trump/Pence regime? NO! THIS CANNOT STAND!

Should the message of Refuse Fascism—the necessity to drive out this fascist regime—be politically and legally suppressed? NO! THIS CANNOT STAND!

Should those people who recognize the horrific consequences for humanity and the planet and are acting to bring this to millions more be surveilled, targeted, brutalized and thrown into prison? NO! THIS CANNOT STAND!

Should the message of those revolutionaries who while doing this sharply put before people the real history of this country, the nature of the system and how things could be radically different, be silenced and suppressed? NO! THIS CANNOT STAND!

This struggle against repression is an important part of the overall struggle to drive out the Trump/Pence regime and YOU are needed.

We are calling on all people of conscience to express their outrage at the illegitimate suppression of political speech, to demand that these charges be dropped, and the surveillance, in particular by the 6th precinct, of Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club members be STOPPED. StopMassIncarceration.NYC http://www.stoppoliceterror.org/

Stop Mass Incarceration Network
Box 941 Knickerbocker Station
New York , NY 10002, United States

Jeezus: domestic abuser at high risk to commit homicide.

[CONTENT NOTE: intimate partner violence and murder, suicide, abuse, harassment, rape.]

As readers surely recall, I am exceedingly proud of my half-assed, poorly-executed, highly irregular attempts to extract $82 billion worth of amusement every year from the Religion-Industrial-Complex on behalf of atheist U.S. taxpayers, on account of our government’s unconscionable $82 billion in annual taxpayer subsidies to the R-I-C. I humbly perform this service by mocking a particular church sign in the small town in Northern Maryland where my mother lives. Which, admittedly, I was already going to do anyway for my own amusement. It seems I can’t help myself.

Unfortunately this week’s sign offers scant opportunity for amusement: it simply informs us (yet again) that this Jeezus character is a creepy motherfucker who no decent person should ever wish to emulate. So instead of a good old-fashioned mocking, consider this installment an important public service announcement. Continue reading

Thoughts on yesterday.

[CONTENT NOTE: homelessness, including image of a homeless person.]

It’s a dreary, snowy day in NYC. Not the fun kind of snow that hushes the city in a thick blanket of otherworldly white (and, ideally, melts overnight without a trace). This is a dismal snow, dark flurries of tiny wet flakes that liquefy upon reaching the ground.

But! Yesterday was glorious. It’s days like these that seem to electrify the city (or maybe the city-dwellers?), demanding to be witnessed in all of their vivid splendor and grotesquery. I had appointments and errands on my morning schedule, followed by a late lunch with a dear friend visiting from out of town. This is what I saw. Continue reading

Happy birthday PZ!

pz2016It is once again the time to mark the joyous occasion of The Great Tentacled One’s completion of another orbit around our sun. Longtime readers of mine may recall that in February of 2011, PZ Myers published my little screed In Defense of Mockery on Pharyngula. At the time I was a fledgling blogger, and hardly knew whether I might be any good at this writing stuff. That boost of confidence—and the readers I gained that day—meant the world to me then, and now. By 2013 when PZ posted Casualties of War, I had come a long way in a short time, thanks in no small part to his generosity and encouragement. But this past year? He brought some serious next-level shit, man: he invited me to write for Freethought Blogs (!!!). For all of this and more, PZ has my undying affection and appreciation.

Today I will be celebrating the good professor by imbibing squid ink cocktails and copious amounts of calamari.

Happy birthday, my friend.

Long may we mock.

squidinkcocktailBarchetta’s Spezia cocktail.
vodka, caper brine and squid ink, whole caperberry garnish

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Now normally on these sacred occasions, I’d post some of PZ’s more trenchant blurbs, culled from his writings over the previous year. Just a sentence or two that strike me, like this one (perhaps my all time favorite):

[I]magine the culture we would live in now if, instead of a dead corpse on an instrument of torture, our signifier was a child staring in wonder at the stars. –PZ Myers

But in the past year the world has changed. For example, US government policy is now orchestrated by a madman via 140 character tweets in the middle of the night (Eastern Standard Time). So in keeping with the zeitgeist, please enjoy these pithy bon mots from the master:

Fuck you, Grandma. –PZ Myers

I could be quite happy with an octopus arm transplant. –PZ Myers

Stop me before I #ChristianMingle. –PZ Myers

So fuck the police. –PZ Myers

I’ll smack hope a few more times with a ball peen hammer and see if I can’t get it under control. –PZ Myers

OK, motherfucker, then do it. –PZ Myers

Stoned fish are so much more cooperative. –PZ Myers

I’ve made it on to the list! I feel so appreciated. –PZ Myers

Hate is a strong word, but not strong enough for my feelings.-PZ Myers

Go fuck yourself. –PZ Myers

Hear, hear.

Iris the smurf.

Some alt-right tool showed up in my pingbacks, having described Yours Truly with this truly awesome quip:

“[T]his bobo New Yorker is so blue pilled she may as well be a smurf. “

I know, right? I LOOOOOOVE SMURFS!!! And I can totally rock that look:

smurfiris

YES!

I shall treasure this quote always! *sniff*

Wait a minute, what’s a bobo? Continue reading

A Prediction about a Tax Increase That Will Be Supported by Trump, Buffett and the Vast Majority Of Americans

Introduction

I predict that In order to reduce the Federal deficit, pay for extraordinary government spending on defense and infrastructure, protect the viability of Social Security, fund a substantial tax cut for low and middle class citizens and diminish the growing wealth gap between the vast majority of Americans and the 1 percent, a one-time tax on estate values over 15 million dollars will be introduced by the Trump Administration the end of the year.

The wealth tax will be applied to personal assets, including owner-occupied housing; cash, bank deposits, money market funds, savings in insurance and pension plans, investment in real estate and unincorporated businesses and corporate stock, financial securities and personal trusts. However, liabilities (primarily mortgages and other loans) will be deducted from wealth accountability. For this reason, the one time levy might more accurately be termed a net wealth tax.

I hope Trump and his minions will expand the basic idea to a variable one-time wealth tax. While it should begin with a 15% tax on net wealth of 15 million dollars, it should increase as follows:

  • 25% over 20 million.
  • 30% over 30 “
  • 35% over 40 “
  • 40% over 50 “
  • 45% over 60 “
  • 50% over 70 “
  • 60% over 80 “
  • 70% over 90 “
  • 75% over 100 “
  • 80% over 500 “
  • 50% over 1 billion dollars

I’m not sure it would be a good idea to go further than this. The super 1 percenters might Swift Boat me and the merits of the net wealth tax prognostication if extended beyond a billion dollars. Besides, I don’t want to be the Eugene Debs or Upton Sinclair of wellness, though of course I admire both immensely.

There are vastly more taxpayers whose net wealth is far below even the lowest net tax rate foreseen in the expected Trum proposal. Once this plan gains escape velocity, that is, gets the kind of attention a single Trump tweet attracts on Twitter, there will be no stopping it. Any legislator opposing it will be defeated; Fox News commentators and other critics will lose caste.

You may be surprised to learn that Donald Trump himself proposed a one-off 14.25% wealth tax on the net worth of individuals and trusts worth $10 million or more in 1999. Trump claimed that his proposal would generate $5.7 trillion in new taxes, which could be used to eliminate the national debt.

Comments

From Robert Miles, Tampa, FL – Warren Buffett is likely to favor the realization of the Ardell prognostication and the Ardell Rules re tax rates for the very wealthy. Warren Buffett put forward a not too dissimilar idea as part of a tax plan proposed by President Barack Obama in 2011. The plan would have applied a minimum
tax rate of 30 percent on individuals making more than one million dollars a year. According to a White House official, the new tax rate would have directly affected 0.3 percent of taxpayers.

Buffett Rule: Raise $20 billion from ultra rich (50,000 earning $1,000,000 +) by requiring 30% tax rate (same as middle class). Buffett Rule net effect: Lower 20 million struggling families tax burden by $1,000 each.

As an aside, Buffett solves the budget deficit in 5 minutes (actually in a 43 second video):

From Bruce Midgett, Missoula, MT – Hi Don – I’m completely in for taxing legacy wealth – more than you’re presenting and beginning at a more modest wealth level.
Not everyone will be enthusiastic. George Will, for example, recently lamented the kind of society being bandied about in current (and past) futuristic novels. He observed that they foresee a government system of transfer of income from those who do things to those who don’t. That, he says, suggests that one half of the country would support the other half.

Right in theory, wrong in the numbers. It’s more like ten percent of the country would support the other ninety percent – as they damn well should be expected to do. Their wealth was not accumulated in a vacuum.

However, others see little choice – it will follow logically. The late Harold Tascher as early as the mid-50’s suggested that, with continued rapid technology advances and business growth, the labor force needed to sustain a healthy and growing national economy cannot reach full employment. This will require some restructuring in ways wealth is acquired and disposed of to ensure dignity for all citizens. Tascher believed the combined wealth of the country could easily provide for this contingency without placing hardships on anyone.

Another, Warren Buffett, noted that we will need fewer and fewer people in our labor force to produce the products and services for our economic needs in the future. Buffett went on to suggest that the only solution to that situation was a progressive system of taxation that recognized the fact that some people will wish to be in the labor force and others will rather go fishing. He also concluded that the nation had more than enough combined wealth to undertake such a conversion to accommodate such an eventuality.

None of these propositions, including yours, strips anyone of the possibility of earning obscene amounts of income or legacy wealth. We know the problem; we have the need. We have the wealth to solve the problem and address the need. And please, labels be damned. Call it what you will, but assess it for what it is – consideration for the value of every individual and an effort to up that value to its fullest potential for both that individuals and society.

From Grant Donovan, Perth, Australia – A very interesting prognostication Don but the wealthy don’t give up their money that easy. All natural born killers.

Godwinning for the good.

In case you missed it: a few weeks ago revolutionary badass Sunsara Taylor of RefuseFascism.org, with whom PZ and I are acquainted, appeared on the odious Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox. Because Carlson is an ass-cactus of the first order, he constantly interrupted her, spoke over her and eventually cut her feed. Nevertheless, when the smarmy blowhard shut his lie-hole for a moment and she managed to get a few words in, she stated the rather obvious fact that the fascist Trump/Pence regime is more dangerous than Hitler’s. On account of, you know, having nuclear weapons and an apparent enthusiasm for using them (among other things).

According to Taylor: Continue reading

Why Religion, Like Smoking, Lack of Exercise and a High Fat Diet, Inhibits a REAL Wellness Lifestyle

Introduction
 
At a time when Donald Trump and Mike Pence head the Executive Branch of our government with a cabinet of religious fundamentalists, when both houses of Congress are controlled by Republicans and when the Supreme Court will soon have a religious dogma-focused majority, looking on the bright side seems more challenging than ever.


What’s a freethinker who loves reason, exuberant living and liberty to do? Besides, that is, continuing to pursue a healthy and fun lifestyle, support secular causes and maintain activities that enable a positive outlook and a sensible perspective – irrespective of a hostile government?


I suggest making time each day to consider one particular element in Robert Green Ingersoll’s personal creed addressed to becoming a better person.

That would be to cultivate the mind and be familiar with the mighty thoughts that genius has expressed, the noble deeds of all the world.  


To get you started, here are a few mind-cultivating remarks taken from a random selection of freethinkers living and dead.


To Cultivate the Mind
  • Edward Abbey on the difference between the Lone Ranger and God – There really is a Lone Ranger.
  • Charles Darwin, Descent of Man (1871) – For my part I would as soon be descended from [a] baboon . . . as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies . . . treats his wives like slaves … and is haunted by the grossest superstitions.
  • Lydia Maria Child, The Progress of Religious Ideas Through Successive Ages (1855) – It is impossible to exaggerate the evil work theology has done in the world.
  • Florence Kennedy, Color Me Flo – My Hard Life and Good Times (1976) – If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.
  • Jacques Monod, Chance & Necessity (1971) – Mine is an entirely non-providential view of the biological world as the mere product of chance and necessity…the natural sciences reveal a purposeless world which entirely undercuts the tradition claims of religions…Man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty.
  • Alice Walker, The Only Reason You Want to Go to Heaven Is That You Have Been Driven Out of Your Mind (1995) – What a burden to think one is conceived in sin rather than in pleasure; that one is born into evil rather than into joy. . . It is chilling to think that the same people who persecuted the wise women and men of Europe, its midwives and healers, then crossed the oceans to Africa and the Americas and tortured and enslaved, raped, impoverished and eradicated the peaceful, Christ-like people they found. And that the blueprint from which they worked, and still work, was the Bible.
  • Susan B. Anthony, The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony (1908) – I think women have just as much a right to interpret and twist the Bible to their own advantage as men always have interpreted and twisted it to theirs … But while I do not consider it my duty to tear to tatters the lingering skeletons of the old superstitions and bigotries, yet I rejoice to see them crumbling on every side.”
  • Jeremy Bentham, Constitutional Code (1843) – In no instance has a system in regard to religion been ever established, but for the purpose, as well as with the effect, of its being made an instrument of intimidation, corruption, and delusion, for the support of depredation and oppression in the hands of governments.
  • Galileo Galilei, Recantation (1633) – I have been . . . suspected of heresy, that is, of having held and believed that the Sun is the center of the universe and immovable, and that the earth is not the center of the same, and that it does move . . . I abjure with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith, I curse and detest the said errors and heresies, and generally all and every error and sect contrary to the Holy Catholic church.
  • Niall Shanks, God, the Devil and Darwin (2004) – The intelligent design movement . . . has little to do with science but a lot to do with politics and power-in particular, the imposition of discriminatory, conservative Christian values on our educational, legal, social and political institutions… While we in the West readily point a finger at Islamic fundamentalism, we all too readily downplay the Christian fundamentalism in our own midst. The social and political consequences of religious fundamentalism can be enormous.
  • A.A. Milne, Cited in 2,000 Years of Disbelief by James A. Haught (1996) – The Old Testament is responsible for more atheism, agnosticism, disbelief-call it what you will-than any book ever written; it has emptied more churches than all the counter-attractions of cinema, motor bicycle and golf course.
  • Andy Rooney, Sincerely, Andy Rooney (1999) – We all ought to understand we’re on our own. Believing in Santa Claus doesn’t do kids any harm for a few years but it isn’t smart for them to continue waiting all their lives for him to come down the chimney with something wonderful. Santa Claus and God are cousins. Christians talk as though goodness was their idea but good behavior doesn’t have any religious origin. Our prisons are filled with the devout. I’d be more willing to accept religion, even if I didn’t believe it, if I thought it made people nicer to each other but I don’t think it does.
Summary
Well, I hope this helps with your quest for the bright side. Throughout history, there have been many men and women who loved reason, exuberant living and liberty, despite a total absence of books, conferences or newsletters about why or how to pursue optimal status given their varied circumstances. All managed as best they could under conditions at least as trying as our own today, and found ample ways to pursue healthy, fun lifestyles, to protect positive outlooks and to maintain sensible perspectives. In short, they found time to cultivate their minds and became familiar with the mighty thoughts that genius expressed, the noble deeds of all the world.
We will do well to follow their lead, current obstacles not withstanding.

Iris: MIA.

Hello, beloved readers. You may have discerned my absence from this space for a little while now, which is not typical for me. Seems that perhaps some sort of explanation is in order.

I’ve been going through some difficult personal shit. Without getting into specifics, processing trauma and abuse—even many years later—is not exactly easy or fun, but it becomes absolutely critical when the unfortunate manifestations blindside you (again), seemingly out of nowhere. Suffice it to say that I have an amazingly supportive partner, a tight circle of friends (i.e. “chosen family”), and a skilled therapist* to guide me. In the meantime however, I am finding it very difficult to focus, concentrate and opine for your infotainment upon the vital and timely topics of fascist doucheweasels, patriarchal shitheads, racist conservatives, treasonous theocrats, native-born white d00ds in local bars suggesting an upside to the day’s news out of DC, terrorist squirrels and other assorted menaces.

Then again, I only have one rule—and one rule only—for posting: whatever I want, whenever I want.** So here, have some of that. Continue reading