Maybe some of my male readers can explain the dynamics that drive this kind of extreme bullying. Did you see this when you were a kid? Take part in it? Stand up against it? Get the hell away and hoped no one would pick on you?
He was a teenager who didn’t quite fit in. His classmates said Billy Lucas was bullied for being different. The 15-year-old never told anyone he was gay but students at Greensburg High School thought he was and so they picked on him. “People would call him ‘fag’ and stuff like that, just make fun of him because he’s different basically,” said student Dillen Swango. Students told Fox59 News it was common knowledge that children bullied Billy and from what they said, it was getting worse. Last Thursday, Billy’s mother found him dead inside their barn. He had hung himself. Students said on that same day, some students told Billy to kill himself. “They said stuff like ‘you’re like a piece of crap’ and ‘you don’t deserve to live.’ Different things like that. Talked about how he was gay or whatever,” said Swango.
School administrators claim to have had no knowledge of the bullying, despite many students saying that they were aware of Billy’s torment. A memorial Facebook page for Billy can be found here. Indiana does not include gay youth in its anti-bullying laws, no doubt thanks to repulsive Christianist groups like Focus On The Family.
Oil from the BP spill has not been completely cleared, but miles of it is sitting at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a study currently under way.
Professor Samantha Joye of the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia, who is conducting a study on a research vessel just two miles from the spill zone, said the oil has not disappeared, but is on the sea floor in a layer of scum.
“We’re finding it everywhere that we’ve looked. The oil is not gone,” Joye said. “It’s in places where nobody has looked for it.”
By now, most of us are familiar with the explanations for the soaring cesarean section rate — namely, it’s more convenient for doctors and, until a recent policy change, it was a way for hospitals to guard against legal liability. But a new investigation implies another more sinister motivation: money. California Watch, a non-profit journalistic venture,reports:
A database compiled from state birthing records revealed that women were at least 17 percent more likely to have a cesarean section at a for-profit hospital than at a nonprofit or public hospital from 2005 to 2007. A surgical birth can bring in twice the revenue of a vaginal delivery.
In fact, California hospitals “can increase their revenues by 82 percent on average by performing a C-section instead of a vaginal birth.” The average profit from an uncomplicated C-section: $2,240. The revenue from an uncomplicated vaginal birth: $1,230. The cost of valuing hospitals’ bottom lines over women’s health and personal choice: incalculable.
My friend is sending me a new microwave as an early birthday present. You know, you don’t really realize how dependent you are on gadgets until you don’t have them anymore — it’s not as if you can simply heat up a Lean Cuisine in the regular oven.
Yes, they could blow up some airplanes and buildings, maybe killing a few thousand people. But toppling the government? Installing sharia law? Converting us to Islam? Even bin Laden would roll his eyes and say “You must be high” to any such suggestions.
Of course that was not their goal. Unlike Americans, Islamic terrorists do not relate everything back to World War II. They see themselves not as an opposing army but as the Joker to our rule-based Batman. They are interested mostly in causing chaos, in destabilizing tenuously stable economies and societies through fear, panic, and a small number of well-timed and -executed actions. They thought we needed a better class of criminal than the Soviet boogeyman that was so hard to sell after 1991. And they gave it to us. [/Batman analogies]
In that context, why talk, or even joke, about the terrorists winning? It is abundantly clear that they have already won. Charles Johnson, current right-wing apostate and creator of Little Green Footballs, was once described by a mutual acquaintance as a nice, normal individual driven completely and overwhelmingly insane by 9/11. His mind became a disorganized morass of fear, poorly conceived ideas for violent revenge, and cultural/ethnic hatred toward Muslims. Mr. Johnson does not deserve singling out, though, because that description applies to America as a whole for the last nine years.
They won. Nineteen people plus a loose network of associates who helped them execute their stunningly simple plan at a total cost of about $400,000 (per the 9-11 Commission) gave up their lives to kill a few thousand innocent civilians and in the process drove an entire nation insane. How can we look at America circa 9/11/2010 and attempt to argue that they did not accomplish their goal? America is a neurotic basketcase dog-paddling in its own toxic vomit of xenophobia, proto-fascist politics, and an alarmingly large social divide. We pursued an utterly pointless war at the cost of over a trillion dollars, thus bankrupting (not to mention demoralizing) the nation and setting us at one another’s throats even more violently as we fight over the scraps of a once-mighty economy in the shadow of an external threat that is, for the most part, in our heads.
That is the lesson to learn from 9/11. We are particularly bad at learning lessons from tragedies and bad decisions, which is why so many of us believe we lost the Vietnam War because we didn’t stay the course. Today the lesson we seem to have learned from 9/11 is that Muslims are bad or that to fight this threat we have to wipe our ass with the Constitution and start operating by Jack Bauer rules. The lesson we do not learn is that “terrorism” is about instilling terror, as the name implies, leading to social, economic, and political disorder in the target nation. As we stand today with a wrecked economy, an intensely divided society, and a political system that has nearly ceased to function altogether there can be no doubt that the terrorists won. They won because we let them win. They wanted us to go completely fucking insane and we were more than happy to oblige.
The menace we face does not come from the insane wing of the Republican Party, which may make huge inroads in the coming elections, but the institutions tasked with protecting democratic participation. Do not fear Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. Do not fear the tea party movement, the birthers, the legions of conspiracy theorists or the militias. Fear the underlying corporate power structure, which no one, from Barack Obama to the right-wing nut cases who pollute the airwaves, can alter. If the hegemony of the corporate state is not soon broken we will descend into a technologically enhanced age of barbarism.
Investing emotional and intellectual energy in electoral politics is a waste of time. Resistance means a radical break with the formal structures of American society. We must cut as many ties with consumer society and corporations as possible. We must build a new political and economic consciousness centered on the tangible issues of sustainable agriculture, self-sufficiency and radical environmental reform. The democratic system, and the liberal institutions that once made piecemeal reform possible, is dead. It exists only in name. It is no longer a viable mechanism for change. And the longer we play our scripted and absurd role in this charade the worse it will get. Do not pity Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. They will get what they deserve. They sold the citizens out for cash and power. They lied. They manipulated and deceived the public, from the bailouts to the abandonment of universal health care, to serve corporate interests. They refused to halt the wanton corporate destruction of the ecosystem on which all life depends. They betrayed the most basic ideals of democracy. And they, as much as the Republicans, are the problem.
“It is like being in a pit,” Ralph Nader told me when we spoke on Saturday. “If you are four feet in the pit you have a chance to grab the top and hoist yourself up. If you are 30 feet in the pit you have to start on a different scale.”
All resistance will take place outside the arena of electoral politics. The more we expand community credit unions, community health clinics and food cooperatives and build alternative energy systems, the more empowered we will become.
“To the extent that these organizations expand and get into communities where they do not exist, we will weaken the multinational goliath, from the banks to the agribusinesses to the HMO giants and hospital chains,” Nader said.
It’s terrible, isn’t it? I has a major sad, just thinking about the specter of poor rich Republicans who might even have to start clipping coupons or confine their vacations to the continental USA. It’s just not right.
I wonder if they’ll have gourmet food at the food banks?
Several top Republicans have said recently that President Obama’s plan to allow the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans is “class warfare.”
“Instead of resorting to tired old class warfare rhetoric, pitting one working American against another, the president and the Democratic leadership should start working with us this week to ensure a fair and open debate to pass legislation to cut spending and freeze tax rates without any further delay,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner on Sunday.
And Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) reportedly also used the term during a Tea Party rally in Washington Sunday: “We will not compromise our economy to accommodate the class warfare rhetoric of this administration.”
On Monday, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate elaborated: “I don’t think Americans should be pitting Americans against each other,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) on the Senate floor. “Americans agree with President Kennedy’s formulation that a rising tide lifts all boats. And Americans believe — it’s our basic idea of a country — that we want everyone here to succeed, to do well and not to pit one group of us against another group.
“We all aspire to be in the very top groups of whatever we’re talking about. And because of the kind of country we have, we have that opportunity and people do move from one income tax bracket up to the next one for example, as we increase our incomes,” Kyl continued. “So we don’t want to punish anyone for being successful. That class warfare went out of style when the Cold War ended.”