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Extinct, Extincter, Extinctest

2015 February 21

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From Dmitry Orlov. Published February 17, 2015.

This blog is dedicated to the idea of presenting the big picture—the biggest possible—of what is going on in the world. The abiding areas of interest that make up the big picture have included the following:

1. The terminal decay and eventual collapse of industrial civilization as the fossil fuels that power it become more and more expensive to produce in the needed quantities, of lower and lower resource quality and net energy and, eventually, in ever-shorter supply.

The first guess by Hubbert that the all-time peak of oil production in the US would be back in the 1970s was accurate, but later prediction of a global peak, followed by a swift collapse, around the year 2000 was rather off, because here we are 15 years later and global oil production has never been higher. Oil prices, which were high for a time, have temporarily moderated. However, zooming in on the oil picture just a little bit, we see that conventional oil production peaked in 2005—just 5 years late—and has been declining ever since, and the shortfall has been made up by oil that is difficult and expensive to get at (deep offshore, fracking) and by things that aren’t exactly oil (tar sands).

The current low prices are not high enough to sustain this new, expensive production for much longer, and the current glut is starting to look like a feast to be followed by famine. The direct cause of this famine will not be energy but debt, but it can still be traced back to energy: a successful, growing industrial economy requires cheap energy; expensive energy causes it to stop growing and to become mired in debt that can never be repaid. Once the debt bubble pops, there isn’t enough capital to invest in another round of expensive energy production, and terminal decay sets in.

2. The very interesting process of the USA becoming its own nemesis: the USSR 2.0, or, as some are calling, the USSA.

The USA is best characterized as a decomposing corpse of a nation lorded over by a tiny clique of oligarchs who control the herd by wielding Orwellian methods of mind control. So far gone is the populace that most of them think that things are just peachy—there is an economic recovery, don’t you know—but a few of them do realize that they all have lots of personal issues with things like violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and gluttony. But don’t call them a nation of violent, drug-abusing gluttons, because that would be insulting. In any case, you can’t call them anything, because they aren’t listening, for they are too busy fiddling with their electronic life support units to which they have become addicted. Thanks to Facebook and the like they are now so far inside Plato’s cave that even the shadows they see aren’t real: they are computer simulations of shadows of other computer simulations.

The signs of this advanced state of decomposition are now unmistakable everywhere you look, be it education, medicine, culture or the general state of American society, where now fully half the working-age men is impaired in their ability to earn a decent living. But it is now particularly obvious in the endless compounding of errors that is the essence of American foreign policy. Some have started calling it “the empire of chaos,” neglecting to mention the fact that an empire of chaos is by definition ungovernable.

A particularly compelling example of failure is the Islamic Caliphate, which now rules large parts of Syria and Iraq. It was initially organized with American help to topple the Syrian government, but now threatens the stability of Saudi Arabia instead. This problem was made much worse by alienating Russia, which, with its long Central Asian border, is the one major nation that is interested in fighting Islamic extremism. The best the Americans have been able to do against the Caliphate is an expensive and ineffectual bombing campaign. Previous ineffectual and expensive bombing campaigns, such as the one in Cambodia, have produced unintended consequences such as the genocidal regime of Pol Pot, but why bother learning from mistakes when you can endlessly compound them?

Another example is the militarized mayhem and full-blown economic collapse that has engulfed the Ukraine in the wake of American-organized violent overthrow of its last-ever constitutional government a year ago. The destruction of the Ukraine was motivated by Zbigniew Brzezinski’s simplistic calculus that turning the Ukraine into an anti-Russian NATO-occupied zone would effectively thwart Russian imperial ambitions. A major problem with this calculus is that Russia has no imperial ambitions: Russia has all the territory it could ever want, but to develop it it needs peace and free trade. Another slight problem with Zbiggy’s “chessboard” is that Russia does have an overriding concern with protecting the interests of Russians wherever they may live and, for internal political reasons, will always act to protect them, even if such actions are illegal and carry the risk of a larger military conflict. Thus, the American destabilization of the Ukraine has accomplished nothing positive, but did increase the odds of nuclear self-annihilation. But if the USA manages to disappear from the world’s political map without triggering a nuclear holocaust, we will still have a problem, which is that…

3. The climate of Earth, our home planet, is, to put it as politely as possible, completely fucked. Now, there are quite a few people who think that radically altering the planet’s atmospheric and ocean chemistry and physics by burning just over half the fossilized hydrocarbons that could possibly be dug up using industrial methods means nothing, and that what we are observing is just natural climate variability. These people are morons. I will delete every single one of the comments they submit in response to this post, but in spite of my promise to do so, I assure you that they will still submit them… because they are morons. [Update: Yes indeed they have, QED.]

What we are looking at is a human-triggered extinction episode that will certainly be beyond anything in human experience, and which may rival the great Permian-Triassic extinction event of 252 million years ago. There is even the possibility of Earth becoming completely sterilized, with an atmosphere as overheated and toxic as that of Venus. That these changes are happening does not require prediction, just observation. The only parameters that remain to be determined are these:

1. How far will this process run?

Will there still be a habitat where humans can survive? Humans cannot survive without plenty of fresh water and sources of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, all of which require functioning ecosystems. Humans can survive on almost any kind of diet—even tree bark and insects—but if all vegetation is dead, then so are we. Also, we cannot survive in an environment where the wet bulb temperature (which takes into account our ability to cool ourselves by sweating) exceeds our body temperature: whenever that happens, we die of heat stroke. Lastly, we need air that we can actually breathe: if the atmosphere becomes too low in oxygen (because the vegetation has died out) and too high in carbon dioxide and methane (because the dead vegetation has burned off, the permafrost has melted, and the methane currently trapped in oceanic clathrates has been released) then we all die.

We already know that the increase in average global temperature has exceeded 1C since pre-industrial times, and, based on the altered atmospheric chemistry, is predicted to eventually exceed 2C. We also know that industrial activity, thanks to the aerosols it puts into the atmosphere, produces an effect known as global dimming. Once it’s gone, the average temperature will jump by at least another 1.1C. This would put us within striking range of 3.5C, and no humans have ever been alive with Earth more than 3.5C above baseline. But, you know, there is a first time for everything. Maybe we can invent some gizmo… Maybe if we all put on air-conditioned sombreros or something… (Design contest, anyone?)

2. How fast will this process happen?

The thermal mass of the planet is such that there is a 40-year lag between when atmospheric chemistry is changed and its effects on average temperature are felt. So far we have been shielded from some of the effects by two things: the melting of Arctic and Antarctic ice and permafrost, and the ocean’s ability to absorb heat. Your iced drink remains pleasant until the last ice cube is gone, but then it becomes tepid and distasteful rather quickly. Some scientists say that, on the outside, it will take 5000 years for us to run out of ice cubes, causing the party to end, but then the dynamics of the huge glaciers that supply the ice cubes are not understood all that well, and there have been constant surprises in terms of how quickly they can slough off icebergs, which then drift into warmer waters and melt quickly.

But the biggest surprise of the last few years has been the rate of arctic methane release. Perhaps you haven’t, but I’ve found it impossible to ignore all the scientists who have been ringing alarm bells on Arctic methane release. What they are calling the clathrate gun—which can release some 50 gigatons of methane in as little as a couple of decades—appears to have been fired in 2007 and now, just a few years later, the trend line in Arctic methane concentrations has become alarming. But we will need to wait for at least another two years to get an authoritative answer. Overall, the methane held in the clathrates is enough to exceed the global warming potential of all fossil fuels burned to date by a factor of between 4 and 40. The upper end of that range does seem to put us quite far towards a Venus-type atmosphere, and the surviving species may be limited to exotic thermophilic bacteria, if that, and certainly will not include any of the species we like to eat, nor any of us.

Looking at such numbers has caused quite a few researchers to propose the possibility of near-term human extinction. Estimates vary, but, in general, if the clathrate gun has indeed gone off, then most of us shouldn’t be planning to be around beyond mid-century. But the funny thing is (humor is never in poor taste, no matter how dire the situation) that most of us shouldn’t be planning on sticking around beyond mid-century in any case. The current oversized human population is a product of fossil fuel-burning, and once that’s over, human population will crash. This is called a die-off, and it’s something that happens all the time: a population (say, of yeast in a vat of sugary liquid) consumes its food, and then dies off. A few hardy individuals linger on, and if you throw in a lump of sugar, they spring to life, start reproducing and the process takes off again.

Another funny aspect of near-term human extinction is that it can never be observable, because no scientist will ever be around to observe it, and therefore it is a non-scientific concept. Since it cannot be used to do science, the scientists who throw it around must be aiming for an emotional effect. This is quite uncharacteristic of scientists, who generally pride themselves on being cool-headed and prefer to deal in the observable and the measurable. So, why would scientists go for emotional effect? Clearly, it is because they feel that something must be done. And to feel that something must be done, they must also feel that something can be done. But, if so, what is it?

Always first on the list is the effort to lobby governments to limit carbon emissions. This has not been a success; as to one of the many reasons why, consider point 2 above: the USA is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to carbon emissions, but the rotting corpse of America’s political system is incapable of any constructive action. It is too busy destroying countries: Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine…

Second on the list is something called geoengineering. If you don’t know what it is, don’t worry; it’s largely a synonym for mental masturbation. The idea is that you fix things you don’t understand by using technologies that don’t exist. But given many humans’ irrational belief that every problem must have a technological solution, there is always some fool willing to throw money at it. Previous efforts along these lines involved the idea of seeding the oceans with iron to promote plankton growth, or putting bits of tin foil in orbit to reflect some of the sunlight, or painting the Sahara white. These are all fun projects to think about. How about using nuclear weapons to put dust into the atmosphere, to block out some of the sunlight? Or how about nuking a few big volcanos, for the same effect? If that’s politically difficult, how about something politically easy: a limited nuclear exchange? That will darken the skies, bringing on a mini nuclar winter, and also reduce the population, which will cut down on industrial activity. There are enough nuclear weapons to keep the planet cool for as long as it takes us all to die of radiation poisoning. This geoengineering solution, along with all the others, is in line with the popular dictum “If you can’t solve a problem, enlarge it.”

And so it seems to me that all the talk about near-term human extinction is just so much emotional hand-flapping designed to motivate people to try things that won’t work. Still, I believe the topic is worth pondering, for a simple reason: what if you don’t want to go extinct? We’ve already established that human extinction (whenever it might be said to occur) will never be observable, because no human will be around to observe it. We also know that population die-offs happen all the time, but they don’t always result in extinction. So, who will be most likely to die, and who might actually make it?

First on the list are the invisible victims of war. By now lots of people have seen photographs of piles of dead Ukrainian soldiers left to rot after another failed attack, or videos of residents of Donetsk expiring on the sidewalk after being hit by a government-lobbed artillery shell or mortar. But we don’t know how many children and women are dying in childbirth because the government has bombed maternity clinics and hospitals: such casualties of war are invisible. Nor will we be shown footage of all of the Ukrainian retirees expiring prematurely because they can no longer afford food, medicine or heat, but we can be sure that many of them won’t be around a year hence. When it comes to war, there are just two viable survival strategies: refuse to take part; and flee. Indeed, the million or so Ukrainians that are now in Russia, or the million or so Syrians who are no longer in Syria, are the smart ones. The Ukrainians who are volunteering to fight are the idiots; the ones who are fleeing to Russia to sit out the war are the smart ones. (However, the Russians, who are volunteering to protect their land and their families from what amounts to an American invasion, are clearly not idiots. They are also winning.) In this sense, war is a Darwinian process, delivering extinction to the foolish.

Next on the list of extinction episodes to avoid happens in major cities during a heat wave. It’s happened across Europe in 2003, and resulted in 70,000 casualties. In 2010, a heat wave in the Moscow region (which is quite far north) resulted in over 14,000 deaths in Moscow alone. The urban heat island effect, which is caused by sunlight soaked up by pavement and buildings, produces much higher local temperatures, driving them over the threshold for heat stroke. While the fossil fuel economy continues to operate, cities remain survivable because of the availability of air conditioning; once it shuts down, urban heat wave extinction episodes will become widespread. Since 50% of the population lives in cities, half of the human population is at risk of extinction from heat stroke. Therefore, if you don’t want to go extinct, don’t spend your summers in a city.

The list of places you don’t want to be if you wish to avoid extinction gets rather long. You wouldn’t want to live in California, for example, or in the arid southwestern states, because there won’t be any water there. You wouldn’t want to live along the coasts, because they are likely to be flooded by the rising oceans (they will eventually rise over 100 meters, putting all coastal cities underwater). You wouldn’t want to live in the eastern half of North America, because, paradoxically, a dramatically warmer Arctic region causes the jet stream to meander, producing increasingly fierce winters, which, minus fossil fuels, will cause widespread deaths from exposure. Even now, a bit of extra snow, which is likely to become the new normal, has caused the entire transportation infrastructure of New England (where, luckily, I am not) to roll over and play dead. Nor would you want to live in any of the places where the water source comes from glacial melt, because the glaciers will soon be gone. This includes much of Pakistan, large parts of India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam and so on. The list of places where you wouldn’t want to be if you don’t want to go extinct for this or that reason gets to be rather long.

But the entire northern half of Eurasia looks quite nice for the foreseeable future, so if you don’t want to go extinct, you better start teaching your kids Russian.

 

Posted by Gypsy Chief


Anti-Fracking March Brings 8,000 Activists

2015 February 9
by chief

From Daily Kos.

So a bunch of concerned citizens of all stripes came out to Oakland yesterday to talk some fracking sense.

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More specifically, according to 350.org‘s count, over 8,000 of us marched…

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and gathered to call for a ban on fracking in California. To me, it seemed like a sea of people.

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The message was, specifically, for Governor Jerry Brown to put the kibosh on fracking…

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but more broadly, to use his smarts when it comes to California’s energy policy.

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The good thing is that we know Governor Brown is a smart and caring guy who just called for expansive new environmental regulations and ambitious cuts to carbon emissions in his recent inaugural speech. We also know that Jerry knows something about We the People.

The problem is that in the frack-of-war between The Oil Barons and The People, Jerry is currently being pulled dangerously close to the barrel.

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photo by kimoconnor

The oil industry seems to have planted enough $eed$ in Governor Brown’s head to make him believe in the fairy tale that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is a climate-friendly alternative to coal and oil. However, when you pull the curtain on all the flowery clean-gas talk and do an honest accounting, you quickly realize that the combined effects of toxicity and greenhouse gas emissions from fracking are no better if not worse than coal and oil.

The People have done the math and spelled out the simple equation for the Governor.

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An equation whose effects rings way beyond California…

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and whose messengers are intimately familiar with how this planet works…

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It’s time for Governor Brown to use his noggin and start whacking the oil demon…

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put together the pieces of the puzzle…

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so we can roll up our sleeves…

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and get serious about real solutions.

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Since I’ve organized a couple of bicycle actions before, I seem to be the go-to guy when it comes to gathering cyclists for these events. This one was pretty casual, as the idea was for cyclists to just show up, pick a sign, and ride along the march rather than scout out our own route.

The REAL work had already taken place last week at an Art Build organized by creative rebel rouser extraordinaire, David Solnit, who had gotten a bunch of folks together to screen print all the banners, signs, and flags.

Art Build for March for real Climate Leadership
All I had to do was create an events page, invite a bunch of bike people in the Bay Area, and bring some zip ties and duct tape to the party. When I got to Oscar Grant Plaza at 10am, I picked up ten flags from David and headed over to the old oak tree, where the cyclists where supposed to meet. It was a pretty musical tree, serenaded by protest songs.

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As people weren’t really supposed to show up till 11, I walked around to get a feel for the early birds. Or should I say bees?

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I took in the last rehearsal for the climate butterfly parachute…

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and David’s oily rendition of the California flag…

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when I heard beautiful voices sounding from 15th Street. The Pacific Islander contingent was practicing the songs they would sing throughout the march, with goose bump-inducing harmonies.

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Nearby, Penny Opal Plant and the Idle No More tribe were getting ready to lead the march.

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Pretty soon, some cyclists were showing up, and my buddy John and I were getting them equipped with flags.

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Hey look! Someone else showed up! Kossacks kimoconnor, dsb, remembrance, and TheLittleOne, who took cover behind her mom as soon as I slung my camera…

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That meant that Glen The Plumber couldn’t be far, but of course he was off checking out the onesies…

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Then the march got going, up Broadway.

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past the Paramount…

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and onto 23rd Street…

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The cool thing about being on a bike was that we were able to cruise up and down the march, taking in the different perspectives and adding another moving part to the scene…

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Speaking of moving parts, when we got to the Northern end of Lake Merritt, the flotilla was in full swing…

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As I was waiting for the march to turn onto Harrison, I caught some good glimpses of the heart and soul of this procession.

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On and on it went…

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At the Southern end of the lake, things got so tight…

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that we had to walk our bikes…

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photo: kimoconnor

As if on cue, the moment we arrived at our final destination, it started to rain. Seeing that we didn’t have a drop of rain the entire month of January, there were lots of smiles emanating from under the umbrellas. Certainly not without symbolism, considering the effects of fracking on water

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The sky was quite beautiful…

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as a backdrop to a number of passionate pleas to the Governor to get with it, and more amazing art works that seemed to be popping up everywhere.

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Down at the stage, pedalers were powering the Rock the Bike stage, once again showing that biking isn’t just a transport solution.

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As we left the festivities on our way over to BART, we ran into this guy, whose sign pretty much summarizes the larger choice that not only Governor Brown but all of us, as citizens, communities, and nations, are needing to make.

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Are we going to stay on the highway to fossil-spewing climate disaster, or are we getting off at the very next exit?

 

Posted by Gypsy Chief


The population prophet we all love to hate

2015 February 5
by chief

population-explosion

Published January 15, 2015 in Transition Voice. Written by Richard Reese.

A note from Gypsy Chief
This article is published today to highlight
an important issue.The School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SOGES) at Colorado State is sponsoring a community discussion on Population and bio-diversity loss on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at Avo’s from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm.

In 1968, biologist Paul Ehrlich achieved infamy by publishing The Population Bomb: Population Control or Race to Oblivion?, one of the most controversial eco-books ever printed. Ehrlich has been condemned to spend eternity with Thomas Malthus, in a dungeon reserved for doom perverts. To this day, professors still use the two lads as great reasons to never take seriously anyone who asserts that there are limits to growth. We all know, of course, that humankind has no limits. We have technology!

Population Bomb

The Population Bomb: Population Control or Race to Oblivion? by Paul Ehrlich, Ballantine, New York, 1968.

Actually, Malthus never predicted catastrophic famine. He simply stated the obvious — when population reaches overshoot, the death rate will automatically rise to restore balance, one way or another (starvation, disease, conflict). A thousand people cannot prosper if forced to share ten cheeseburgers a day. The overshoot ceiling rises when food is abundant, and falls when food is scarce. Malthus was not a doomer. His cardinal sin was declaring the obvious — that there are limits to growth.

Ehrlich, on the other hand, actually did predict catastrophic famine, and soon. The first lines in his book are, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” Millions indeed starved, but not hundreds of millions. Everyone agrees that this prediction was inaccurate or premature.

Looming famine, then techno-fix

When Ehrlich was writing, India was sliding toward catastrophic famine. Only ten nations produced more food than they consumed in 1966. In America, the postwar baby boom led to a freakish population spike of 55 million in 20 years. The streets of 1968 were jammed with scruffy rebels protesting the Vietnam War, and our totally unhip way of life. It was hip to be loud, brash, and vigorously opposed to the status quo.

At the same time, the Green Revolution was just getting rolling, and no one could foresee how well it would succeed at temporarily boosting grain production. Norman Borlaug was the wizard of the Green Revolution, and his holy mission was to reduce world hunger. He hoped that the new technology would give us 10 or 20 years to resolve our population issues. We didn’t even try. Those who recommend strict population control measures are called callous. But the leaders who irresponsibly blew off an amazing opportunity were also callous.

Naturally, much more food led to many more people. In 1968, there were 3.5 billion people. By late this morning there were 7.2 billion. World hunger sharply increased, and many other problems worsened. The Green Revolution had wonderful intentions, but its unintended consequences far exceeded its benefits, because we refused to seize the opportunity to confront and subdue the 800-pound gorilla.

The Bet

The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon and Our Gamble Over Earth’s Future by Paul Sabin, Yale Univ. Press, 320 pp, $18.

The bottom line here is that Ehrlich’s predictions of catastrophe within a specific timeframe were wrong. But he succeeded in bringing a lot of attention to real and growing problems — population, pollution, and environmental destruction. At the same time, he succeeded at pissing off almost everyone.

Denounced by liberals and conservatives alike

Liberals hated him because he wanted to set population goals for poor nations, and withhold food aid for those who did not meet their goals. He contemplated the notion of withholding food aid to nations that had zero chance of becoming self-sufficient. He did not endorse the “right” of families to breed as they pleased — a right that was not handcuffed to responsibilities.

Religious people hated him because he believed that contraception and abortion should be legal everywhere, and that all children should receive rigorous training in sex education and family planning. They hated him because he believed that fetuses were nothing more than potential humans.

Environmentalists hated him, because he was a lightning rod for criticism. They believe that his fondness for bold statements made it hard for folks to trust anything that greens said. He was a popular scapegoat to blame their failures on. If Ehrlich had never been born, would we be living in a sustainable utopia today?

Conservatives hated him because he wanted to regulate pollution and pesticide use. He advocated compulsory population control, because voluntary family planning has never been successful at stabilizing or reducing population. Ehrlich detested their insane obsession with perpetual economic growth, which thrived on population growth, and disregarded ecocide. But they loved him for being so loud and so bizarre. He made it easy for them to label all greens as hysterical nutjobs.

Why Ehrlich matters

Modern society is suffocating in information. Everyone in a hunter-gatherer clan knew the entire collection of their cultural information. Today, we don’t know a millionth of our cultural information, because knowing it all is impossible. So, climatologists are freaked out about rising temperatures, while the masses are blissfully ignorant. Petroleum geologists are freaked out about the looming specter of Peak Energy, while the masses are not.

Within the realm of his specialty, Ehrlich could perceive enormous threats that society was unaware of, and this freaked him out. He was compelled to rattle cages. If he had written a dry, mature, scholarly discourse on population, with 300 footnotes, it would not have reached a general audience and provoked lively and widespread discussion. In modern society, suffocating in information, you get attention by flaming and screaming, like the election ads for candidates. Whether or not it is honorable, it works. In my opinion, Ehrlich’s opinions were sincere, and a bit inflamed, but not devious fabrications.

Ehrlich’s book was read by many, and it drew needed attention to a crucial issue. A taboo subject was let out of the closet, for a while. Others were inspired to write books. Green organizations boldly called for action, but many checkbook activists promptly revolted by putting away their checkbooks. So, the issue of overpopulation was handed over to Big Mama Nature to resolve, and she will.

While his ideas continue to outrage many, they do have a basis in cold, hard reason. We could reward couples who don’t marry until 25, and those who space their children at least five years apart. Childless people could be eligible to win lottery prizes. “There has been little effective criticism of the medical profession or the government for their preoccupation with death control … death control in the absence of birth control is self-defeating.”

It would have been cool if humans were purely rational, realized their mistake, and took bold action to divert disaster. Ehrlich sighed. “By now you are probably fed up with this discussion. Americans will do none of these things, you say. Well, I’m inclined to agree.” He wrote because there was a wee chance for success.

Don’t read this book to learn about overpopulation and its side effects. Hundreds of newer books are far more up to date, including Ehrlichs own 1990 book written with his wife Anne, The Population Explosion. Instead, read this book to contemplate morals, ethics, taboos, ideologies, and communication. Contemplate his critics, and why they are so determined to
banish discussion on an issue that is a major threat to humankind and the planet (see the reader comments on Amazon.com). The anger and pain that continues to swirl around this book provides a fascinating study in human nature — long-term survival vs. a mentally unstable culture.

Ehrlich is an intelligent and charismatic fellow. In 2008, on the fortieth anniversary of The Population Bomb, he reread his book and blushed a bit. He had learned a few new things in the preceding forty years, but his overall impression was that in 1968 he had been far too optimistic. He presented his current perspective in a lecture at Stanford, From the Population Bomb to the Dominant Animal (54 min.).

 

Posted by Gypsy Chief


Activist Publishes Book of Hate Mail from Bible Believing Christians, Bible Believers Respond By – You Guessed It

2015 February 5

hate-mail

When devout fundamentalist Christians find their evangelism thwarted, all hell can break loose—along with some surprisingly nasty language.

Article by Valerie Tarico. Published February 3, 2015 on her blog.

Bonnie Weinstein is married to Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), which brings a special set of challenges to their relationship. The mission of MRFF is “to ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.” Some people don’t like that.

They don’t like it because ensuring religious freedom in the military means among other things that:

  • No religion or religious philosophy may be advanced by the United States Armed Forces over any other religion or religious philosophy.
  • No member of the United States Armed Forces may be compelled in any way to conform to a particular religion or religious philosophy.
  • No member of the military may be compelled to endure unwanted religious proselytization, evangelization or persuasion of any sort in a military setting and/or by a military superior or civilian employee of the military.
  • The full exercise of religious freedom includes the right not to subscribe to any particular religion or religious philosophy. The so-called “unchurched” cede no Constitutional rights by want of their separation from organized faith.

Why MRFF is Needed

 

Mikey Weinstein founded MRFF in response to rampant violations of these principles by Evangelicals and other “Great Commission” Christians at the United States Air Force Academy, where their two sons (both Jewish) and future daughter-in-law and son-in law (both Christians) were cadets and, like Mikey, later graduates.

Great Commission Christians are those who think it is their responsibility to save souls by converting others to their form of belief. They typically are biblical literalists who believe the Bible is the perfect and complete word of God. Their behavior often stands in contrast to Great Commandment Christians—those who think that the prime directive of the New Testament is not evangelism and right belief, but love. Many of these Christians perceive the Bible as a human document, an imperfect record of God’s relationship to humanity and the ministry of Jesus. Because of U.S. demographics, the vast majority of MRFF’s clients are Christians of this latter type, followed by religious minorities including Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Native American spiritualists, atheists, agnostics and Wiccans. MRFF also represents 861 LGBT armed forces clients.

For years, Great Commission believers have been engaged in more and more bold attempts to convert the U.S. military into an army of Christian soldiers — pressuring subordinates to attend Bible studies; promoting Christian-themed media like Mel Gibson’s torture porn, “The Passion of the Christ;” and converting the chaplaincy into a cadre of missionaries on the public dime. And they had been getting away with it. After Weinstein–a former Air Force JAG officer and member of the Reagan administration–started making waves and then launched MRFF, many were, not surprisingly, displeased.

Unhappy Believers

 

From the beginning, the Weinsteins and MRFF staff have received a barrage of hate mail filled with curses, imprecatory prayers, graphic descriptions of bodily harm, death threats, gloating promises of eternal torture and more — all in the name of Jesus and often accompanied by Bible quotations, chapter and verse. Some of the ugliest messages hone in on the fact that Bonnie and Mikey are Jewish, stating, for example that the Holocaust didn’t go far enough; that their children should be turned into skin lamps; that “their kind” are not Americans and can’t be; and that Hell will be worse than the gas chambers.

At the suggestion of appalled supporters, Bonnie Weinstein finally compiled a selection of choice missives into a book, To the Far Right Christian Hater: You can be a good speller or a hater, but you can’t be both. I was a conservative Evangelical for many years. Over that time, I imagined saying nasty things to people, and sometimes did. I imagined swearing, and sometimes did. But it never crossed my mind that a believer might combine swearing and denigration with the name of Christ. The kaleidoscope of variations found in Weinstein’s book would have been unfathomable. Even today, if I hadn’t read them myself, I wouldn’t believe it still.

“Christian Built This Country”

 

One might think that seeing their words in print would shame self-proclaimed guardians of God into silence. Or they might consider that such words make a mockery of their claim to moral and spiritual superiority. Or, if nothing else, they might realize that spewing hate is a poor way to win converts as directed in the Great Commission. But apparently not. Because offended believers responded by sending contents for Volume 2.

One took the time to explain why the work of MRFF is so wrongheaded as to merit the barrage: [Note: I have left all spelling and grammar as received.]

It was Christians on the wagons west and Christians who built this country of and for the Glory of Christ. Christians saved the American indians from going to hell and Christian stopped the nazis and commies from taking over the world. Christians liberated negroes from slavery and gave the jews Israel and are the only ones protecting the unborn and trying to keep marriage pure. It was even Christians whom put men on the moon. And now its Christians who die to stop the moslems from beheading us all. The common theme for you Bonnie is Christians. And do not believe that lie about ‘separation of church and state’. Not even in the constitution. Nowhere there. In America noone have to be Christian but they do have to hear and consider His Word.

What is “His Word?” For those who take the Bible as a literally perfect revelation from God, as do most of MRFF’s detractors, God’s Word is the Good Book, and that’s where things get complicated. The texts assembled in the Bible promote love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance and faith—qualities that one New Testament writer calls the fruit of the spirit. By their fruits you shall know them, says another. Christians are exhorted to be a light shining on a hill, without which the world would fall into (moral) darkness. Regrettably, the Bible also endorses holy war, death to blasphemers and infidels, vengeance, and torture. With these mixed messages bound together as a package, the net effect of thinking that the Bible is God’s perfect Word can be hard to predict.

Piling It On

 

Here are some excerpts from recent messages to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation from those who see themselves as defenders of God and goodness. The letters arrive with different fonts and tones, and from different email addresses, but the themes are painfully consistent:

  • Mr. M Weinstein I am a spirit-filled ordained pastor of The Gospel from the great state of Nebraska. Stop your attack on God Almighty and His only Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Stop your attack on His holy Christian wariors in our armed military forces! My congregation includes many military from the nearby air force base. We pray as one for you to die tonight in your sleep leaving a bloody mess for your family to find at daybreak.
  • To the enimy of Jesus The Christ – Let’s all watch how Jesus makes you pay for taking Him out of the Army. Your hellbound ‘religious freedom FROM religion” followers too. You all try to fool everybody and hide behind the contitution. Your afraid of the Gospel. Why is it you give a jew a chance to recrusify our Savior and he’ll do it ever time. And your the worse of jews in the world. Blood thrifty for inocent Christians bringing The Word to the Army. damn you and die. And burn for youre sins against Christ Jesus. For all time.
  • For god and country and in god we trust. Maybe if the Jews fought in the revolution and wrote the constitution he would have a right too speak. Other wise shut the f up.
  • When We see a jew like mikey wienstien we know that Hitler was right. Leave US soldiers alone mickey. Get you a nosejob hebe. And why not swindle someone in business? While eating a bagle and showing off your jew diamonds.
  • This country was founded on the belief of God, if you and your people do not believe in the Christian God maybe you should move to Iran or Syria where your shallow thoughts will last but minutes since you will be but an infidel, soon to be stoned for your beliefs.
  • Athiest jews are servents of satan. They do not deserve America. Mikey weinsteen does not deserve life any place but espcialy in the USA. He is THE leader of all which is wrong in America and all who fight Jesus Christ which is the only true God in the universe. Weinsteen will destroy our military and the whole country if he is not deported. Send him to Cuba which niger Obummer loves so much. Or send him and all the other athiests to North Korea to rot and starve.
  • Eat shit and don’t die. Just keep eating shit Michael Loser Weinstein. Fun to watch you eat shit. For all time. Since you and your little family of mfrr shit eaters are nothing but shit anyway. Your only hope is to surrender to Jesus Christ. Your a stiff necked jew so you will not (Exodus 32 and verse 9). Thus you have no hope. Keep your shitty self out of Christ’s military and Christ’s nation you dirty shit bag.
  • Fuck your crybaby slut ass wife and fuck your crybaby spoiled children. Who got their fancy air force academy educations all paid for by the GRACE of Amercan CHRISTIAN taxpayers. And just look what we got for our tax money. The family Whiningsteen jew traitors from HELL. Cry cry cry cause you have it so bad in a CHRISTIAN made country. You know what you all happier in North koria or back in Jewsrael. get OUT of our country! Here Jesus is KING and if you dont like it than fuck you.
  • Your day will come when you have to face Our God Almighty and would not want to be in your shoes. You and your ilk think you are so intelligent and stand above the rest but you are sickening and nothing but a joke and a huge one at that. By the way, where is your stand against the muslims? you either are one like your golden idol charlatan closet muslim obama or you are afraid of them.
  • Thankfully, judgment is a certainty and Mr. Weinstein’s future — and the rest of your staff — is secure. And eternity is forever.
  • Our Spirit-Filled Church prays to Christ Jesus thru Psalm 109 for His Hand to curse Judas Weinstein (Matthew 27: 3-5) down as per Scripture in 2015 for sins against His Church and His armed forces and His America: We Pray Thee Lord Jesus To Lay Thy Avenging Hands (Revelation 19:11-16) on unbaptized (Mark 16:16) Michael Weinstein his evil wife and evil children (john 8:44) and all of the evil doers who work at MFRR (Revelation 21:8);
  • Christ will slay Mikey Weinstein with The Sword of Righteousness. Your serpant husband will be cut down by Jesus and mutilated for his evil doings. Then him and they all will be cast wiggling and screaming into the Lake of Fire to burn for all time. See John 3:36 and Revelations 20:14. You still have time Bonnie and so do your kids. This is ‘Truth’ mail from those Christians who love you so much and your kids and grandkids too.

The writer of this last missive wanted to make sure that nobody misunderstand his intent. “This is not ‘hate mail’ Bonnie Weinstein. Do not dare to call it that! This is LOVE mail. We are showing truest Christian love.”

Hate is love. War is peace. Ignorance is strength. The outpourings from self-described Christians sound Orwellian because they are, literally. In his book, 1984, George Orwell coined the term doublethink, which has been defined as not just the ability to say that black is white, but “also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink. Doublethink is basically the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

The people who wrote these letters honestly believe that they serve the God of Love and Truth. I know, because I once shared that belief as an Evangelical biblical literalist. Such belief can be all-consuming.

Religion that is based on authoritarian hierarchies and sacred texts has tremendous power to produce doublethink, to translate love into hate and to redirect the human moral impulse into words and actions that are patently evil. Parents who kick out their queer children think they are doing a good thing. Jihadis who murder cartoonists do so convinced that their actions are righteous, as do ordinary fundamentalist Muslims who throw acid on women, as do ordinary fundamentalist Christians who pray for the death and dismemberment of their enemies.

The Power of Belief

 

Beliefs are powerful, and the power of absolute belief is absolute.

Far too many well-meaning lovers of peace fail to understand this. In their desire to promote tolerance they insist that harm done in the names of gods isn’t really motivated by religion, that it is motivated by tyranny or desperation or a host of other socio-political factors. Most certainly the relationship between religion and violence is complex.

But consider, if you will, the fact that the writers of these letters are not oppressed minorities, nor the victims of colonialism, nor destitute and hopeless. And consider that the only harm they experience from the work of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is harm not to persons but to religion itself — the kind of religion that mandates evangelism and dominion.

Religion is powerful in part because it takes command of moral emotions, including moral disgust and outrage. These emotions can get activated in the service of justice, or compassion, or fairness, or ahimsa, or love. But they also can get attached to matters that serve no moral purpose save that of protecting the religion itself — questions of ritual purity, of blasphemy or right belief, of god – ordained gender hierarchy and rules about sex — or an army captain’s obligation to preach the gospel to his underlings.

Obligations like these can feel as morally compelling as a father’s responsibility to protect his children, and when they are obstructed, true believers can feel equally crazed. Hundreds of thousands of Chechens took to the streets last month to protest blasphemy against their Prophet, which many perceive as a crime greater than mass murder.

Paths Forward

 

Such passion can be met only by confronting the beliefs that drive the behavior. Organizations that work to constrain specific harmful actions, like MRFF, play a critical role in maintaining secular pluralism and rule of law. But make no mistake — as devout believers seek to follow perceived moral mandates they will push to the limits, and sometimes beyond, while simultaneously working to change whatever rules or laws constrain them. That is the nature of moral certitude.

In the long run, the only solution lies in replacing harmful beliefs with those that actually serve peace and wellbeing. Secularists like me see the path forward as one that increasingly relies on science to help us understand and advance human flourishing within a complex web of life. Progressive people of faith, some of them clients or supporters of Mikey Weinstein, embrace the fabric of wisdom in ancient traditions like Christianity and Islam and believe that the best path forward is reformation from within. Either way, the inbox of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation stands as a stark reminder that this work could not be more urgent.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org. Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel. Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.

 

Posted by Gypsy Chief


Does Religion Cause More Harm than Good? Brits Say Yes. Here’s Why They May be Right

2015 January 29
by chief

sad_girl_148170801

Posted November 17, 2014 by Valerie Tarico on her blog.

Most British people think religion causes more harm than good according to a survey commissioned by the Huffington Post. Surprisingly, even among those who describe themselves as “very religious” 20 percent say that religion is harmful to society. For that we can probably thank the internet, which broadcasts everything from Isis beheadings, to stories about Catholic hospitals denying care to miscarrying women, to lists of wild and weird religious beliefs, to articles about psychological harms from Bible-believing Christianity.

In 2010, sociologist Phil Zuckerman published Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment. Zuckerman lined up evidence that the least religious societies also tend to be the most peaceful, prosperous and equitable, with public policies that help people to flourish while decreasing both desperation and economic gluttony.

We can debate whether prosperity and peace lead people to be less religious or vice versa. Indeed evidence supports the view that religion thrives on existential anxiety. But even if this is the case, there’s good reason to suspect that the connection between religion and malfunctioning societies goes both ways. It may be hard to measure whether net-net religion does more harm than good, but here are six ways we know that religions make peaceful prosperity harder to achieve.

  1. Religion promotes tribalism. Infidel, heathen, heretic. Religion divides insiders from outsiders, as illustrated by the familiar Emo Phillips joke about one believer pushing another from a bridge because of obscure doctrinal differences. Jokes aside, adherents often are taught to treat outsiders with suspicion. “Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers,” says the Christian Bible. “They wish that you disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them,” says the Koran (Sura 4:91). At best, teachings like these discourage or even forbid the kinds of friendship and intermarriage that help clans and tribes become part of a larger whole. At worst, rules about fairness, honesty or compassion apply only to fellow believers. Outsiders are seen as enemies of God and goodness, potential agents of Satan, lacking in morality and not to be trusted. Believers huddle together, anticipating martyrdom, and when simmering tensions erupt, societies fracture along sectarian fault lines.
  2. Religion anchors believers to the Iron Age. Concubines, magical incantations, chosen people, stonings … The “Axial Age,” when the world’s largest religions got their start, was a time of rampant superstition, ignorance, inequality, racism, misogyny, and violence. Slavery had God’s sanction. Women and children were literally possessions of men. Warlords practiced scorched earth warfare. Desperate people sacrificed animals, children, agricultural products, and enemy soldiers as burnt offerings intended to appease dangerous gods. Sacred texts including the Bible, Torah and Koran all preserve and protect fragments of Iron Age culture, putting a god’s name and endorsement on some of the very worst human impulses. Any believer looking to excuse his own temper, sense of superiority, warmongering, bigotry, or planetary destruction can find validation in writings that claim to be authored by God. Today, humanity’s moral consciousness is evolving, grounded in an ever deeper and broader understanding of the Golden Rule. But conservative believers can’t move forward. They are anchored to the Iron Age. This pits them against change in a never-ending battle that consumes public energy and slows creative problem solving.
  3. Religion makes a virtue out of faith. Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus. So sing children in Sunday schools across America. The Lord works in mysterious ways, pastors tell believers who have been shaken by horrors like brain cancer or a tsunami. Faith is a virtue. As science eats away at territory once held by religion, traditional religious beliefs require greater and greater mental defenses against threatening information. To stay strong, religion trains believers to practice self-deception, shut out contradictory evidence, and trust authorities rather than their own capacity to think. This approach seeps into other parts of life. Government, in particular, becomes a fight between competing ideologies rather than a quest to figure out practical, evidence-based solutions that promote wellbeing.
  4. Religions diverts generous impulses and good intentions. Feeling sad about Haiti? Give to our mega-church. Crass financial appeals during times of crisis thankfully are not the norm, but religion does routinely redirect generosity in order to perpetuate religion itself. Generous people are encouraged to give till it hurts to promote the church itself rather than the general welfare. Each year, thousands of missionaries throw themselves into the hard work of saving souls rather than saving lives or saving our planetary life support system. Their work, tax free, gobbles up financial and human capital. Besides exploiting positive moral energy like kindness or generosity that could be put to better use, religion redirects moral disgust and indignation, often attaching these emotions to arbitrary religious rules rather than questions of real harm. Orthodox Jews spend money on wigs for women and double dishwashers. Evangelical parents, forced to choose between righteousness and love, kick queer teens out onto the street. Catholic bishops impose theological rules on operating rooms. The combination drains good energy out of society like intestinal parasites suck nutrients out of the human body.
  5. Religion teaches helplessness. Que sera, sera—what will be will be. Let go and let God. We’ve all heard these phrases, but sometimes we don’t recognize the deep relationship between religiosity and resignation. In the most conservative sects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, women are seen as more virtuous if they let God manage their family planning. Droughts, poverty and cancer get attributed to the will of God rather than bad decisions or bad systems. Believers wait for God to solve problems they could solve themselves. This attitude harms society at large as well as individuals. When today’s largest religions came into existence, ordinary people had little power to change social structures either through technological innovation or advocacy. Living well and doing good were largely personal matters. When this mentality persists, religion inspires personal piety without social responsibility. Structural problems can be ignored as long as the believer is kind to friends and family and generous to the tribal community of believers.
  6. Religions seek power. Think corporate personhood. Religions are man-made institutions, just like for-profit corporations are. Like any corporation, to survive and grow a religion must find a way to build power and wealth and compete for market share. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity … any large enduring religious institution is as expert at this as Coca-cola or Chevron. And just like for-profit behemoths, they are willing to wield their power and wealth in the service of self-perpetuation, even it harms society at large. In fact, unbeknown to religious practitioners, harming society may actually be part of religion’s survival strategy. In the words of sociologist Phil Zuckerman and researcher Gregory Paul, “Not a single advanced democracy that enjoys benign, progressive socio-economic conditions retains a high level of popular religiosity.” When members of a society feel prosperous and secure the hold of religion weakens.

Until recently, most people have believed that religion does more good than harm. Even many who personally identified as not-very-religious thought of “faith” as benign—an inspiration for social service, a source of good moral values, a comfort. And indeed, religion can be all of these. But 911 changed the landscape permanently. Our childlike and unquestioning faith in faith was shattered. The ever ugly presence of the Christian Right and militant Islam have further wedged open a Pandora’s box of questions that religious authorities may have trouble closing down, though most certainly they will try.

 

Posted by Gypsy Chief


How Religion Can Let Loose Humanity’s Most Violent Impulses

2015 January 20
by chief

Published January 16, 2015 by Valerie Tarico on her blog.

violence-religion-as-drug

Religion is just one part of the lethal cocktail, but it is a powerful intoxicant.

The year 2015 has opened to slaughter in the name of gods. In Paris, two Islamist brothers executed Charlie Hebdo cartoonists “in defense of the Prophet,” while an associate killed shoppers in a kosher grocery. In Nigeria, Islamist members of Boko Haram massacred a town to cries of Allahu Akbar — Allah is the greatest! Simultaneously, the United Nations released a report detailing the “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims in the Central African Republic by Christian militias, sometimes reciting Bible verses. On a more civilized note, Saudi Arabia began inflicting 1000 lashes on a jailed blasphemous blogger – to be doled out over 20 weeks so that he may survive to the end.

In media outlets around the world, fierce debate has erupted over who or what is responsible. Is monotheism inherently violent? Is religion an excuse or cover for other kinds of conflict? Are Western colonialism and warmongering in the root of the problem? Do blasphemers make themselves targets? Is the very concept of blasphemy a form of coercion or violence that demands resistance? Is killing in the name of gods a distortion of religion? Alternately, is it the real thing?

Each of these questions is best answered “yes, and” rather than “yes/no.”

With the possible exception of Buddhism, the world’s most powerful religions give wildly contradictory messages about violence. The Christian Bible is full of exhortations to kindness, compassion, humility, mercy and justice. It is also full of exhortations to stoning, burning, slavery, torture, and slaughter. If the Bible were law, most people you know would qualify for the death penalty. The same can be said of the Quran. The same can be said of the Torah. Believers who claim that Islam or Christianity or Judaism is a religion of peace are speaking a half-truth—and a naive falsehood.

The human inclination toward peacemaking or violence exists on a continuum. Happy, healthy people who are inherently inclined toward peacemaking focus on sacred texts and spiritual practices that encourage peace. Those who are bitter, angry, fearful or prone to self-righteousness are attracted to texts that sanction violence and teachers who encourage the same. People along the middle of this continuum can be drawn in either direction by charismatic religious leaders who selectively focus on one or the other.

Each person’s individual violence risk is shaped by a host of factors: genetics, early learning, health, culture, social networks, life circumstances, and acute triggers. To blame any act of violence on religion alone is as silly as blaming an act of violence on guns or alcohol. But to deny that religion plays a role is as silly as denying that alcohol and guns play a role. It is to pretend that religions are inert, that our deepest values and beliefs about reality and morality have no impact on our behavior.

From a psychological standpoint, religions often put a god’s name on impulses that have subconscious, pre-verbal roots. They elicit peak experiences like mystic euphoria, dominance, submission, love and joy. They claim credit for the moral emotions (e.g. shame, guilt, disgust and empathy) that incline us toward fair play and altruism, and they direct these emotions toward specific persons or activities. In a similar way, religions elicit and channel protective reactions like anger and fear, the emotions most likely to underlie violence.

A case from my own field, mental health, tells the story. On November 5, 2009, Muslim US army psychiatrist, Nidal Malik Hasan, shot and killed thirteen of his fellow soldiers on the Fort Hood military base, injuring another thirty. His case shows how religion can combine with other ingredients to produce a lethal brew. From the swirl of conjecture and hype emerged the image of a man who was lonely, who couldn’t quite seem to win at love, and who was profoundly troubled by the horror stories brought home by his soldier clients. Do therapists experience vicarious trauma? Absolutely. Does this trauma put their own mental health at risk? Absolutely. Many of them deal with this risk by seeking professional consultation, asking for support from loving family and friends, and limiting the number of post-traumatic clients that they see.

It appears that Hasan made at least tentative attempts in several of these directions. But primarily he turned to forms of Islam that only deepened his sense of alienation and anger. In what must have been an anguishing conflict of loyalties, piety helped him to resolve the conflict in favor of co-religionists over compatriots. Ultimately, rage won out — righteous, sanctified rage — which came to matter more than any value he as a healer placed on his own life or the lives of his colleagues and clients.

The perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo massacre grew up in an immigrant ghetto outside of Paris, a place steeped in patriarchy, bravado, and resentment—a place more prone to foster bitterness than hope. Any path to assimilation was obstructed by both the racism of outsiders and their own sense of cultural and religious superiority, and they instead spent time in Yemen where they absorbed the jihadist aspirations of Al Qaeda. Islam, in other words, probably contributed to their inability to merge into French culture and then sanctified and channeled their anger. But there were many reasons that the jihadi mentality found fertile ground.

I would argue that, like alcohol, religion disinhibits violence rather than causing it, and that it does so only when other factors have created conditions favorable toward aggression. I might also argue that under better circumstances religion disinhibits generosity and compassion, increasing giving and helping behaviors. Religion often is centered around authority and text worship (aka “bibliolatry”). Because of this, it has the power to lower the threshold on any behavior sanctioned by either a sacred text or a trusted religious leader and is at its most powerful when one is echoed by the other.

Despite the fact that violence is repeatedly endorsed in sacred texts, most Christians, Muslims and Jews never commit acts of violence in the service of their religion. Similarly, millions of people consume alcohol without insulting, hitting, kicking, stabbing or shooting anyone. Most of us are peaceful drinkers and peaceful believers. Yet, statistically we know that without alcohol assaults would be less common. So too, we all know that when suicide bombings happen, or blasphemers and apostates are condemned to die, or a rape victim is stoned to death, Islam is likely to be involved. And when we hear that an obstetrics doctor has been shot or a gay teen beaten and left for dead, or a U.S. president has announced a “crusade”, we know that Christianity was likely a part of the mix.

In general, as the gospel writer said, it is far easier to see the mote in our brother’s eye than the log in our own. American culture is bathed in Christianity, and even for most secular Americans, is easy to see Islam’s role in violence while missing the times when Christianity plays the same role. But the rest of the world doesn’t see us through our own rose colored glasses, and under a bare light bulb, American Christianity retains shadows of the inquisitor’s hood and implements of torture.

In recent years, the European and Australian press repeatedly have called attention to horrors being perpetrated in Africa thanks to American missionary dollars, a story that has been slow to get mainstream American press coverage. As Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity spread across Nigeria and Congo, thousands of children are being beaten or burned or disfigured with acid after being condemned by Christian ministers as “witches.” After all, the American missionaries teach that the Bible is the literally perfect word of God, and the Bible says, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18). When children are condemned by pastors and priests, exposed in the name of Jesus by the Holy Spirit himself, parents abandon them and their villages drive them out. The lucky ones find refuge in shelters. (For photos click here.)

Meanwhile in Uganda, American Evangelicals have helped to advance prison terms and death penalties for African gays. The Family, an American Christian organization with members in congress helped to convert Uganda’s president to their form of politicized Christianity. American activists attended a conference in Uganda aimed at “wiping out” homosexuality. Within months, a bill had been introduced that would allow the death penalty for gays with AIDS and institute jail time for parents who fail to turn in their homosexual teens. Unrelated? No. But horrors such as these don’t seem to have abated the flow of salvific dollars, Bibles, and earnest missionaries eager for converts any more than suicide bombings have dried up support for madrassas.

Were the Fort Hood and Charlie Hebdo murder sprees or Boko Haram massacres caused by Islam? Are the Central African murder sprees caused by Christianity? A yes answer is far too simple. But violence, tribalism, and mutually exclusive truth claims are built into in our sacred texts and traditions. As a consequence, religion around the world continues to disinhibit lethal violence at a horrendous rate. For us to vilify Muslims or Christians or any group of believers collectively is to engage in the familiar act of cowardice we call scapegoating. It means, ever and always, that we end up sacrificing innocents to appease our own fear, anger and thirst for vengeance. But for us to ignore the complicated role of religion in violence is a different kind of cowardice, one that has been indulged by peace-lovers among the faithful for far too long.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org. Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel. Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.

 

Posted by Gypsy Chief


ALEC Sharpens Attack on Environmental Safeguards

2015 January 18
by chief

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Published December 29, 2014 by Committee For Media and Democracy. This was published as a CMD guest post. Article by Elliot Negan, Senior Writer, Union of Concerned Scientists.

After being accused of “literally lying” about climate change by one of its own high-profile business members, excoriated for being a “corporate bill mill,” and losing nearly 100 company sponsors, you might expect the rabidly anti-environmental American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to tone it down a little.

Not a chance.

Emboldened by the November elections, which resulted in Republicans now controlling 31 governorships and more than two-thirds of state legislative chambers, the secretive corporate lobby group seems even more committed to its wrecking-ball agenda.

We are rapidly approaching a dangerous precipice — a precipice defined by an insatiable desire by far too many policymakers to regulate the use of fossil fuels. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.
~Craig Idso
Chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change

At the group’s most recent conference, held earlier this month in Washington, D.C., more than 400 predominantly Republican state lawmakers and industry reps formulated sample legislation that will serve as templates for statehouses across the country. During the three-day event, they put the finishing touches on bills and resolutions that would, among other things, weaken the Endangered Species Act, thwart implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed standard for existing power plant carbon emissions, and block the EPA’s new proposed standard for ground-level ozone.

If that weren’t enough, they also considered a resolution urging Congress to abolish the EPA as we know it. Corporate lobbyists reportedly shot down the idea as too extreme even for ALEC, but the group can still do plenty to stymie government efforts to protect public health and the environment.

… the [renewable energy]standards have already delivered benefits. For example, according to Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, a trade group, in just four years the energy efficiency standard saved Ohio consumers more than $1 billion. Meanwhile, filings by Ohio utilities, including American Electric Power, Duke Energy and FirstEnergy, show that the standard has saved consumers two dollars for every dollar invested.

ALEC Serves Its Legislators Corporate Spin

Per usual, ALEC’s dog and pony show also included one-sided policy tutorials by industry mouthpieces.

In one closed-door session, according to the Washington Post, an American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Association official told ALEC lawmakers that the EPA’s new ozone standard would harm states’ economies and do little to protect residents’ health. Never mind the fact that ground-level ozone — the most pervasive pollutant nationwide — is linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death, and the EPA estimates the proposed standard’s public health benefits would be two to three times greater than the cost to industry.

Another session featured Jack Hubbard, vice president of the consulting firm Berman and Company, pitching his firm’s campaign to undermine the credibility of leading environmental groups and celebrity activists. Called “Big Green Radicals,” the campaign is similar to Berman and Company’s attacks on labor unions, animal rights organizations and public health advocates on behalf of its anonymous corporate clients. This time around, the firm is targeting Food and Water Watch, Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, and earlier this year it placed billboard ads along the Pennsylvania Turnpike ridiculing Lady Gaga, Yoko Ono and Robert Redford for opposing hydraulic fracturing.

Finally, an ALEC conference wouldn’t be complete without a climate science denier or two. At the organization’s annual conference last July, Joe Bast, president of the fossil fuel industry-funded Heartland Institute, argued that the benefits of carbon emissions far outweigh their costs, while the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow denied that carbon dioxide is a primary cause of global warming in the first place.

The D.C. conference showcased two speakers who made similarly indefensible claims. Craig Idso, chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change, and Richard Bezdek, president of the research firm Management Information Services, were the featured speakers at a session titled “The Greening of Planet Earth.”

Idso, a Heartland Institute grantee and former environmental science director at Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal company, told the gathering, according to Al Jazeera: “We are rapidly approaching a dangerous precipice — a precipice defined by an insatiable desire by far too many policymakers to regulate the use of fossil fuels. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.”

Bezdek, meanwhile, likened climate science advocates to Nazis.

“Virtually everything that climate activists say is demonstrably false, whether it’s wildfires, whether it’s ocean climate, or whether it’s hurricanes. … That’s why it’s frustrating,” said Bezdek, who claims the benefits of carbon dioxide exceed its costs by a 50 to 1 ratio. “It’s the old Nazi theory, that if you repeat a big lie loud enough and long enough, people believe it. That’s unfortunately what’s happened. It’s very difficult to counter with a silly thing like facts.”

Psychologists would call that “projection.”

ALEC ‘Wields Considerable Influence’

ALEC boasts that its 1,800 legislator members introduce nearly 1,000 ALEC-inspired bills annually and that 20 percent of them, on average, become law. A 2013 report by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) indicates that ALEC’s numbers are pretty much on the mark.

The CMD study identified 466 ALEC bills introduced in the 2013 legislative session across the country on topics ranging from voter identification and “stand your ground” rights to energy and the environment. Eighty-four of the 466 bills passed and became law — an 18-percent success rate. That’s a stunning accomplishment, considering that the U.S. Congress passed less than 2 percent of the bills introduced in 2012.

Molly Jackman, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University, agrees that the group’s track record is impressive. “The American Legislative Exchange Council wields considerable influence in state legislatures,” Jackman concluded in her 2013 analysis of 132 ALEC-sponsored bills she conducted as a fellow at the Brookings Institution. “The bills that it writes find their way into the majority of state legislatures. Moreover, the percentage of those bills that pass is strikingly high compared to the dismal rate at which all other bills are enacted into law.”

State Legislators Vulnerable to ALEC’s Wiles

So why does ALEC have such a good track record?

State lawmakers have limited time, limited salaries and, perhaps most important, limited resources. “States are prime targets for corporations because it’s easier to get things out of state legislatures than Congress,” explained political scientist Darrell West, the Brookings Institution’s director of governance studies. “The biggest problem is state legislators are understaffed.”

Stella Rouse, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, seconded that assessment. “The legislative staff issue is huge,” she said. “They are vital. Legislators want to introduce bills, but when they don’t have a staff or it is very limited, ALEC provides them with a shortcut by providing a ready-made bill. ALEC provides the expertise that legislatures lack.”

The fact that most state legislatures are part-time and consequently don’t pay full-time salaries also strengthens the hand of groups like ALEC, added West, the author of Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust, which analyzes the growing political activism of the uber rich. “Many legislators have to have jobs on the side, so they don’t have a lot of time to put into legislating. That makes them dependent on outside sources.”

The numbers tell the story. Only 10 states have what could be considered a full-time, or nearly full-time, legislature: California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Lawmakers in those states work at least 80 percent of a full-time job on legislative work, which includes time in session, constituent services, committee work and electioneering. They currently make an average of $81,000 a year and, based on 2009 data, average nine staff members each, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan, professional-development organization that does not accept corporate money or produce sample legislation.

Lawmakers in another 24 states devote about 70 percent of a full-time job to legislative duties. On average, they make $43,000 annually and average three staff members each. Lawmakers in the remaining 16 states, meanwhile, work only 54 percent of a full-time job and make an average of only $19,000. They average one staff member each, and a number of legislators have no personal staff at all.

That’s a void ALEC is only too eager to fill.

Taking Care of ALEC Legislators at Election Time

ALEC corporate sector members do much more than feed lawmakers sample legislation and break bread with them at ALEC conferences. Most of ALEC’s funding comes from the more than 200 corporations, trade groups, corporate law firms and industry-funded think tanks that pay annual dues of $7,000 to $25,000, plus $25,000 to $40,000 to sponsor an ALEC conference session. And many of those corporations and trade groups ply ALEC lawmakers with generous campaign contributions.

An analysis of the campaign contributions ALEC energy sector members made to the organization’s board of directors, for example, found that all but one of the 21 board members received funding over the last decade from at least one ALEC energy company, utility or trade association. In most cases, they received multiple donations, which collectively amounted to more than $290,000. Top ALEC energy sector contributors included BP North America, which donated to eight board members; Conoco Phillips, Duke Energy, ExxonMobil and Koch Industries, which each funded seven board members; American Electric Power, which backed six; and Chevron, which financed five.

All that support builds loyalty. Ohio state Sen. Bill Seitz, an ALEC board member, is a case in point. A Republican lawyer from Cincinnati, Seitz received more than $70,000 from coal, oil and gas, and utility companies in the 2008 and 2012 election cycles. Half of that money came from two Ohio-based utilities that rely heavily on coal: American Electric Power, an ALEC member headquartered in Columbus, gave him $21,500, and the Akron-based FirstEnergy contributed $15,000. Ashland Oil, BP North America, Dominion, Duke Energy, Marathon Oil and Spectra Energy — all ALEC members — also donated to his campaigns.

Chairman of the Senate Public Utilities Committee, Seitz has been leading the effort to gut Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, which, compared to those in other states, are relatively modest. The Ohio efficiency standard set a target of reducing energy use by 22.5 percent by 2025, while the renewable standard requires Ohio utilities to generate 12.5 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by the same year.

Modest or not, the standards have already delivered benefits. For example, according to Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, a trade group, in just four years the energy efficiency standard saved Ohio consumers more than $1 billion. Meanwhile, filings by Ohio utilities, including American Electric Power, Duke Energy and FirstEnergy, show that the standard has saved consumers two dollars for every dollar invested.

Regardless, ALEC has set its sights squarely on killing these standards across the country. In this case, Seitz failed to get ALEC-sponsored bills passed that would have repealed the standards, but he was able to push through a bill last summer that stopped the mandated annual increases in their targets for two years to allow a committee to study their impact.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former ALEC member who received more than $200,000 in campaign contributions from utility, coal, and oil and gas companies over the last two election cycles, signed the bill into law in June.

State Innovation Exchange Enters the Fray

A day before ALEC convened its Washington, D.C., conference, more than 100 national, state and grassroots organizations issued a joint letter urging ALEC state lawmakers to reject the group’s anti-environmental agenda, cancel their memberships, and encourage their colleagues to do so as well. Signatories included African American Ministers in Action, Environment America, Healthcare Without Harm, Interfaith Power and Light, the League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“ALEC is pushing to weaken or repeal state renewable energy and efficiency standards, to reduce financial incentives to adopt rooftop solar, and to undermine EPA’s efforts to limit carbon pollution from power plants,” the letter stated. “ALEC does not support any policies that would move toward solving the climate crisis.”

Meanwhile, a week after the ALEC conference, more than 200 state lawmakers, consultants, donors and public interest advocates gathered in the nation’s capital to mount their own challenge.

It was the first national meeting of the newly minted State Innovation Exchange (SIX), whose mission is to support progressive state lawmakers by providing training and technical support, as well as sample bills to protect voting rights, raise the minimum wage, and strengthen public health and environmental safeguards. The group hopes to raise $3 million to $5 million for SIX’s first year and eventually establish a $10-million annual budget funded by individual donors, unions, foundations and corporations.

“Progressives are looking around to figure out where to push back, and there has not been a vehicle to do that at the state level,” SIX Executive Director Nick Rathod, the White House liaison to the states during President Obama’s first term, told Politico. “It’s the biggest missing piece in the progressive infrastructure.”

SIX has a formidable task ahead, but Rathod is banking on what it lacks in funding and experience will be made up by what he sees as a distinct advantage. As Rathod puts it, SIX — unlike ALEC — is promoting a “people’s agenda,” not a corporate one.

“It’s stupid to create an organization that is mimicking something else,” Rathod said during the SIX conference’s opening session. “We’re going to be better than that. We’re different from them because we’re going to be transparent. We won’t go behind closed doors and vote with corporate America.”


Related: Our stories on Climate Deniers.

Related: The Heat Is on:NOAA, NASA Say 2014 Warmest Year On Record.

Related: Living In Denial: Big Oil and the Religious Right’s Alliance Against Our Environment.

 

Posted by Gypsy Chief


House Dems Who Should Know Better Vote Yes on GOP Proposals

2015 January 12

KeystoneDoddFrank

Story here.

 

Posted by Gypsy Chief


10 Rush Limbaugh Sponsors To Boycott | Daily Kos

2015 January 10
by chief

rush-limbaugh_540

Published December 28, 2014 in Daily Kos. Written by Leslie Salzillo.

Many of us want to do something that makes a difference, but funds are tight. One thing that is free and easy to do, is avoid buying from companies that support the hate monger, Rush Limbaugh. The vile Conservative radio talk show host who calls women ‘femi-nazis’ and ‘semen receptacles,’ is mostly known for spreading hate and outright lies, while promoting/inciting racism, lgbt hatred, bigotry, and misogyny. And for 25 years he has gotten away with it. But for the last two years, the general public has become more and more proactive against his type of commentary. Concerned consumers have contacted and petitioned Rush Limbaugh sponsors, and asked them to pull their advertising from his show. For those companies who opt to ignore consumers, they are not only boycotted by hundreds of thousands, they are permanently associating their company’s name/brand, in the minds of many, with a hate monger. Seems a pretty foolish business move, when you think about it.

Here is a list of 10 very loyal Rush Limbaugh sponsors. To support the boycott, one only needs to avoid buying from these companies, and spread the sponsor information. Even if you haven’t heard of these sponsors and/or don’t do business with them, by circulating their names to friends, family, and on social media, you will have an impact. Together, the public is sending a message to businesses and the media, that we do not support companies that support hate speech. Rush Limbaugh has lost thousands of sponsors due to this national boycott, which means he has lost millions in ad revenue.

Lifelock

Enthusiastically endorsed by former not-so-popular NY Mayor Giuliani, this so-called ‘identity theft protection’ company uses scare tactics to sell their services, and they continue to get horrid reviews, some of which are posted on the Consumer Affairs website . LifeLock blitzes free digital TV with ads that play heavily on the fears and distrust of vulnerable consumers.

Twitter URL: @LifeLock
Facebook URL: http://www.facebook.com/…
Phone: 1-800-440-4833

iHeart Radio

IHeart radio, has been on the sidelines supporting the Rush Limbaugh show as a ‘sister’ company owned by Clear Channel. This past year the CEO of Clear Channel, Bob Pittman, decided to rebrand the failing Clear Channel name to iHeart Media, (lipstick on a pig or something like that) so we can now attribute the airing of the Rush Limbaugh Show on approximately 600 stations nationwide – to iHeart. (A few alternatives to the iHeart music app include Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes/iTunes Radio)

Twitter URL: @iheartradio
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/…
Street Address: 32 Avenue of the Americas
City: New York
State: NY
Zip Code: 10013
Web Contact Form: http://help.iheartradio.com/…
Email1: vanessa@iheartradio.com

1800flowers

1800Flowers has been buying ads from Rush Limbaugh, pretty much nonstop, for years. Consumer Affairs just posted their TOP 800 Complaints And Reviews About 1800Flowers on December 23, 2014. One moral to this story: Whenever possible, buy from locally-owned, independent ‘mom & pop’ florists/nurseries.

Twitter URL: @1800flowers @jim1800flowers
Facebook URL: http://www.facebook.com/…
Phone: 1-800-716-4851
Web Contact Form: http://ww11.1800flowers.com/…
Email1: mediainquiries@1800flowers.com
Email2: invest@1800flowers.com

Stamps.com

Also listed on the Consumer Affairs site, Stamps.com has numerous complaints. Here’s the first one I read: “The same as everyone else, I’m finding it nearly impossible to keep charges away from my credit card account even past cancellation. Once they have your credit card info, it is off to the races to see how many times they can charge your account. When confronted, they act stupid as to why you’re being charged and refuse to erase your personal info from their system. I would advise against using Stamps.com as there are other services that offer the same shipping solutions for FREE.”

Gotta love the internet when it slaps back that free speech for which Limbaugh’s fans desperate fight.

Twitter URL: @stampscom
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/…
Status: Active
Phone: 310-482-5942
Web Contact Form: http://www.stamps.com/…
Email1: enash@stamps.com
Email2: social@stamps.com

Visiting Angels

The highly criticized ‘Elderly Care’ company, Visiting Angels, joined the Rush Limbaugh Show last year and has opted to stay, blatantly ignoring consumer pleas to leave. Looking at recent reviews, it seems Visiting Angels is getting desperate and scraping the bottom for help. This could be why they chose advertise on Rush Limbaugh’s show.

Twitter URL: @1visitingangels
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/…
Street Address: 28 W Eagle RD Suite 201
City: Havertown
State: PA
Zip Code: 19083
Phone: 800-365-4189
Web Contact Form: http://www.visitingangels.com/…
Email1: SocialMedia@VisitingAngels.com

ProFlowers

Another consumer complaint and review site lists 821 complaints/reviews about ProFlowers. At 16, my daughter planned to surprise me on Mother’s Day with a bouquet of flowers via ProFlowers ( a sizable expense for any teen). No delivery was made on Mother’s Day. She kept calling me to see if ‘my surprise’ had arrived, and by the end of the day she was in tears. The most she could get from ProFlowers was a stock apology and promise to send the same flowers the next day. After speaking with four reps, I finally got my daughter a full refund. This was my second bad experience with ProFlowers. Mistakes are made, and how a company handles them tells a lot. Whether they advertise on with Rush Limbaugh tells even more.

Twitter URL: @proflowers
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/…
Phone: 800.580.2913
Email1: dchaplin@providecommerce.com

Hillsdale College

Hillsdale College loves Rush Limbaugh and Rush Limbaugh loves Hillsdale – so much so that he personal endorses the Right-Wing college. In 2013, the college made headlines when the president referred to black students as ‘the dark ones’. I imagine it was then the stars aligned and a match between Hillsdale and Limbaugh was made, in hell.

Twitter URL: @Hillsdale
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/…
City: Hillsdale
State: MI
Zip Code: 49242
Phone: 517-437-7341, 517-439-8504
Fax: 517-437-3923
Web Contact Form: http://www.hillsdale.edu/…
Email1: wgray@hillsdale.edu

Lear Capital

In reading complaints about gold investment company, Lear Capitol,, one consumer says, “From beginning to the end, it was the biggest nightmare of my life.” Okay, then. Between that comment and others that followed, this company is easy to boycott.

Twitter URL: @learcapital
Facebook URL: http://www.facebook.com/…
Street Address: 1990 S. Bundy Dr.; Ste 600
City: Los Angeles
State: CA
Zip Code: 90025
Phone: 1-800-957-GOLD
Fax: 310-571-0194

PajamaGram

PajamaGram is a seasonal advertiser of the Rush Limbaugh Show. They get in during Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and quickly jump out after – figuring no one would notice. Well, consumers and activists do notice, and it shows a strong lack of integrity.

Twitter URL: @PajamaGram
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/…
Zip Code: 05482
Phone: 800-448-3757
Web Contact Form: http://www.pajamagram.com/…
Email1: customerservice@vtbear.com

IDrive

The biggest complaints found for IDrive is the ‘painfully slow’ back-up process. That said, StopRush has reported IDrive ads on the Limbaugh show over 500 times in the last two years, and the company continues to advertise almost daily. IDrive is one of Rush Limbaugh’s most loyal sponsors and for that reason alone, protestors will continue to boycott this company.

Twitter URL: @IDriveBackup
Street Address: 26115 Mureau Road, Suite A
City: Calabasas
State: California
Zip Code: 91302
Phone: (818) 878-9202 ; (866) 748-0555
Email1: publicrelations@idrive.com

Rush Limbaugh Contact Information Courtesy Of StopRush.Net

Honorable Mention:

Highly criticized Angie’s List has more than their share of bad reviews. They pulled their ads last year, but left a bad taste in the mouths of many consumers. The extreme Right-Wing company was one of the first Rush Limbaugh sponsors to return to his show, and stay there, after Limbaugh’s 3-day Sandra Fluke verbal attack (video), calling her a ‘slut’ and ‘prostitute’ while she was advocating for medicinal birth control in front of Congress. When Limbaugh attacked Fluke, she was an unknown student. That’s how he rolls. He’s a bully. Again, I need to stress Angie’s List finally pulled their ads (moving some to Sean Hannity), but they are worthy of a mention. The weakening company has also had a large share of customer complaints, as well as some bad press by Forbes.com.

For those who’d like to do more than boycott, you can sign this petition. Over 94,000 concerned consumers have signed their names. What makes this petition unique and effective, is that it is sent to the 40 sponsors listed within – with every new 500 signatures. When sponsors see that 94k people are associating their company name with Rush Limbaugh – or when they hear from consumers, it shakes many of them up, and some have pulled their adverting because of the petition as well as other organizations protesting Limbaugh. Once a company discontinues their ads on Limbaugh’s show, they are eventually removed from the petition (and the StopRush Database). Thousands of companies have left Rush Limbaugh’s show due to the public’s outrage and the hard work of StopRush, FlushRush, Boycott Rush, numerous Women’s Rights organizations, Liberal groups/sites, and petitions like the aforementioned.

Rush Limbaugh is losing on the left and right, (literally). He is also losing radio stations. Much of his downfall has to do with a national protest. And much has to do with his desperate and pathetic shock tactics that no longer work and his aging out white, male, Conservative fans who call themselves ‘Dittoheads.’ (Can’t make stuff like that up). The protestors want his disgusting, demeaning, and derogatory commentary – off public radio, and here are some easy ways to support the protest during its final stretch.

Ways You May Help

Tweet/ReTweet #StopRush and #FlushRush

Special thanks to the folks at StopRush for their continuous hard work with documenting and maintaining the Rush Limbaugh sponsor list.

Note: On again – off again Rush Limbaugh sponsor, AutoZone, has been replaced on the top ten list by IDrive, a company much more deserving of the ‘honor.’

 

Posted by Gypsy Chief


Ted Cruz Face-Palms on Net Neutrality

2015 January 2
by chief

Own supporters among the most critical

CruzNetNuetrality_tweetThu Nov 13, 2014 at 01:05 PM PST

After nonsensical comments on Net Neutrality, conservatives rage against Ted Cruz

by Jen Hayden

A clueless Ted Cruz rages against Net Neutrality
After Ted Cruz sent out the tweet above, he got some surprisingly vicious comments–from conservatives. A sample of the feedback left on his Facebook page from self-identifying Republicans.

Ed Piper: As a Republican who works in the tech industry I can say that this statement shows you either have no idea what you are talking about or you are bought and paid for by the American Cable monopoly. This is amazingly an stupid statement and is disheartening.

Keith French: Ted, I am as conservative as they come…. I want government out of just about everything… and I hate to say it, really hate to say it, but Obama is right on this one. I do not want my access and internet speed controlled by my ISP. It will be. The internet has been an open forum with little to no restrictions, that will change and not for the better. Bottom line, do not go against freedom of the net just because Obama is for it. Even an old blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile.

Joey Camp: As a Republican whom also works in IT like Ed… You have no clue what you are talking about or you are company bought and paid for.

A Jinnie McManus: Goddammit, stop making my party look like morons and look up net neutrality. It doesn’t mean what you and your speechwriters think it means.

James Nelson: Have to disagree with the Senator on this one. AT&T and big cable have proven they can’t be trusted and net neutrality is necessary to keep fair competition. These big monopolies own their own competing streaming services and want nothing more than to be able to relegate competitors to an internet slow lane.

Marvin England: Ted Cruz, as a tech and fiscal conservative in Texas who generally votes Republican, I am incredibly disappointed by your completely inaccurate statement. Please read up on what Net Neutrality actually is and fire any staff you have who are advising you on technical matters.

Sam Adams: Senator Cruz, you are wrong on this one. As a conservative voter and IT professional, I can assure you that Net Neutrality is a GOOD THING. Internet providers (who are also content owners) can’t be trusted (as has already been proven) to allow consumers equal access to content from their competitors. This is why the government needs to ensure Net Neutrality as it protects the consumer from the bias of their Internet provider. This is especially true since we don’t have real competition in this space.

Adam Huzzey: Go find whatever rock you crawled out from under Ted and stay under it! Proud republican here, but not so proud to be blind like the good senator. Look how “great” our free market Internet is!!! I pay $100 a month for 15mbs / 100gb p/m capped Internet. Yep, those “free” markets really make it better lmao

David Vogelpohl: Texas employer here… This is really the wrong issue for you. Drop this quickly and move on to something else before it’s too late. You’re starting to look like a Tea Party whacko growling for his corporate masters. Move on before you embarrass the Republicans out of the next presidency. Net neutrality is about ensuring a free market. America loves a free market. But hey, be against free markets and America. It’s cool. I’m sure no one will think of you when their Netflix slows down who wouldn’t have before

Jimmy Lee: Wow. I am embarassed that I supported you Ted. Face palm. I think it’s time that I “unlike” your FB page.

Those are just a very small sample of the more than nearly 3,000 comments on his Facebook page. Of course, low information voters pepper the comments with support of the would-be presidential contender’s page. While he’s doing a great job of locking up their support, he seems to have lost the more sane part of the party. If he wanted to kick-off his bid for the White House with a bang—mission accomplished!

Originally posted to Scout Finch on Thu Nov 13, 2014 at 01:05 PM PST.

Also republished by Post HuffPost: Connection-Conversation-Community and Daily Kos.


Related: from Ted Cruz to Tim Wu.

 

Posted by Gypsy Chief