Does Joan Rivers ‘deserve to die’?

The media was in an uproar Thursday over the medical complications of 81-year-old E! host, Joan Rivers. She stopped breathing, they said. She was in critical condition, they reported dutifully. Poor Joan, a beacon of light and grandeur–or so read the carefully selected tweets featured in the article about it on E!’s website.QVC 5th Annual Red Carpet Style Event

Aside from the ridiculous tendency of Americans and other citizens of the world to follow celebrity news and drama with baited breath, and Joan Rivers’ clear lack of A-list standing in Hollywood, the woman deserves no sympathy.

I don’t care how many people watch her show or how high her ratings may be. Rivers has built the second coming of her career by eviscerating and when deemed appropriate, flattering people for their looks. “Oh, but it doesn’t matter! They’re celebrities! They knew what they were getting into when they chased the fame.”

They might have known, and perhaps that’s what they get. But that doesn’t change the fact that commentary like Joan Rivers’ on her egregious show, Fashion Police, reaches the impressionable minds of young girls and women watching her and her gossipy clique, learning that even perfected celebrities cannot always meet the very standards they help set for society. Women learn the importance of appearance and material, and the criticism they deserve if they don’t live up to it (while it is ultimately up to every individual to find self-acceptance and determine their own values, growing up surrounded with this incessant blare of the media doesn’t help). Some may argue this type of mockery is for laughs, but what does it say about American society–or at least the segment that values this type of humor–that it takes mean-spirited, superficial insults to be amused?

But that’s the least of Rivers’ problems. During the most recent conflict between Israel and Gaza, she angrily, emotionally, and irrationally screamed into a camera that Palestinians deserved to die. She repeated tired talking   points that it was their own fault and she owed them no sympathy. She called them “idiots” for not being able to make it out of their homes before the IDF bombed them. Evidently, she considers the fact that Israel makes claims that they “warn” civilians that they’re going to decimate their homes as a sign of humanitarian tendency. In the same rant, Rivers celebrated that at least the Palestinians with the lowest IQs were dead because they were too stupid to escape the bombs. She slammed singer Selena Gomez for expressing public support for Gaza and indicted the idea that she should have sympathy for those non-Israelis who died.

joanriversJoan Rivers is a talking head on the most popular entertainment news station in America. Her influence is palpable and her hate is inexcusable. To be able to condone and celebrate the destruction of innocent life so callously and so viciously speaks volumes about her character, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the way she approaches elite celebrities.

That Joan Rivers brand is so dependent on criticizing and dragging others down with judgments on superficial appearances makes it unsurprising that she could so easily collectivize an entire group of people in the Middle East based on biases, unchecked facts, and gross assumptions.

But what’s worse is that what she says sells. People watch her commentary and bask in it, loving the hate she spews toward the celebrities they resent for possessing the superficial values they have been taught to covet. What’s worse is that people cheered her on for declaring that innocent civilians deserve to be dead, and that while she received  backlash for it, many people reposted that scathing rant as evidence of reason and rationality. It spoke for them.

I would never wish death on anyone, nor poor health or suffering, and I even feel sorry for Rivers’ family and those who care about her. I don’t think she ‘deserves to die,’ but I hope her near-death experience is a reality check enough for her to stop wishing it upon others. If there is someone who doesn’t deserve anyone’s sympathy, it’s the violent, hateful personality that is Joan Rivers, and the people who have made her fame and recognition possible.

Sad but true, your government loves your country more than you

All over the world, individuals love to love their countries. Last month’s fervor over the World Cup is evidence of this, as is the slew of global revolutions where protesters proudly disobey police and government in the name of the freedom of their nation. brazil

Loving one’s country is a human habit formed from a desire to identify with where we came from and with a group. The nation is not a vague, intangible object but an active, dynamic identity that encompasses language, culture, and shared history. It is why the French are so… “French,” and Americans so proud of their 1776 revolution and individualistic history. A nation is separate from its government. Government and nation can often overlap, but neither needs the other to survive. Palestinians have a nation without a state and the Soviets had an all-powerful state with an effective ban on the Russian  national identity.

Often, when a national movement overcomes an oppressive state, there is cause for celebration. Yet all too commonly, the state uses national identity to manipulate and violate rights and promote selfish action in the name of government.

Love of country has been instrumental for centuries when it comes to sparking revolution and battling tyranny. Nationalism in India accelerated as a response to brutal British imperialism (with nationalism championed by Gandhi), as did many sects of nationalism in Asia. Both Palestinians and Jews under British rule strengthened their national identity.  Following the French Revolution, insurrections and protests broke out across Eastern Europe that challenged oppressive autocrats. People from Hungary to Romania, fueled by their sense of nationality and pride, refused to be commanded by both foreign and domestic governments, asserting their right to freedom (see below for citation). Many of the nations Napoleon conquered resisted with a fierce uptick in their national pride.

Today, from Turkey to Egypt to Ukraine to Brazil, passionate protesters face hand-to-hand combat with riot police and military in the name of defending their nations from dictatorial states. They bear their nation’s flag as battle regalia. Turkey-Protest-flag-6-3

Nationalism has, in many ways, driven the world forward. Unfortunately, as empowering as pride in one’s nation can be when it comes to standing up to government, governments make use of this love to diminish freedom at a far quicker rate than popular nationalism can promote it. For one, in spite of the extraordinary passion and commitment that goes into “revolutions,” those who come to power next often cite the good of the country and the well-being of their national citizens to gain support. Yet once that government settles into its comfortable power structure, it continues to exploit the “nation” while perpetuating corrupt, destructive policies. This happened recently in Ukraine where oligarchs replaced dictators, continually trumpeting the glory of Ukraine as it took loans from the IMF and the West, cementing its “nation’s” bondage to parasitic, foreign powers.

“Nationalism” in its current form is a relatively modern trend, and one that in many cases, was cultivated by government to justify imperial policy. The British government urged their British subjects that military imperialism was necessary not only for the British empire and identity, but to help civilize savages who needed the aid of the almighty Englishman. Napoleon cited French national identity as an impetus to violently expand his empire across Europe. Nationalism provided a basis for the Nazis in Germany not only to annex Austria and Poland, which contained German speakers–but to invade and conquer sovereign territories all over Europe and North Africa.  NazisIt was for the good of the German nation, so they said. As much as nationalism can be used for freedom, it is all too often manipulated by governments.

One of the best examples of this blatant manipulation is the US government’s response to 9/11 and the subsequent thirteen years since. Using the sense of unity and trauma that many Americans felt, the government capitalized on this vulnerability to orchestrate the most foolish war in the history of the country. By touting the power of the American military and the strength and resolve of the American people, George Bush and his cohorts were able to convince an entire nation (notwithstanding at least some dissent), that a ground invasion in Iraq was necessary. Without any concrete evidence to support the reasons for war (and with a media all too willing to perpetuate the lie), the American government used nationalism not only to destroy and exploit an entire nation  (while instituting its own puppet government), but to swindle the American tax-payer into funding the profits of the military-industrial complex. military+coffins+Even today, the NSA, Congress, and the White House continue to use the safety of America as a justification for unconstitutional, gross violations of privacy and human rights and life.

 While nationalism is an understandable sentiment for individuals to harbor, the negative consequences have wreaked far more havoc on the world than the benefits have moved it forward. Because of the intense emotional attachments people feel to their countries, their rational faculties are more easily manipulated when nationalism is promoted by the state and its public policy marketers.

For years, governments have not only promoted nationalism to support their policy agendas, but have used the nationalities of “enemies” to rouse war-sentiment among their own populations. World Wars I & II saw demonizing propaganda from all sides in attempts to mobilize citizenries toward war. Such polarizing nationalism and the subsequent divides have resulted in the deaths of all humans, no matter what borders they were born within. By exploiting fear and the intimate link between the individual and their connection to their origins, governments are able to dig deep into the “collective” ego to convince individuals that their very survival and well-being depends on this conflation of their nation and state. They are convinced others who are not like them are less valuable, more dangerous, and if the propagandizing state wishes, that they must be destroyed because they are synonymous with their government that performs alleged misdeeds.

Though there is nothing inherently wrong with loving one’s country, the potential damage, propaganda, hatred, and criminal behavior caused by governments with sinister agendas is undeniable. No matter how much the people may love their “country,” their governments love it more because nationalism presents an emotional, egoic underpinning for states to launch their violent, vicious assaults on humans, liberties, and minds.

Note: Reference to Eastern European nationalism after the French Revolution is from History Derailed by Ivan T. Berend, pp.41-88, 2005 (University of California Press).

Capitalism Cures Sexism in the Media?!

Wait, what?! It’s capitalism’s fault women are sexualized in the media. It’s capitalism’s fault that populations of women obsess over clothing, makeup, fashion, and the insecurity that drives them to buy these things in the first place. CAPITALISM has driven women to the depths of self-loathing and despair with its powerful media messages.

Feminists, parents, and psychologists alike blame the evil forces of capitalism that seem to strip women of their dignity as an attempt to fool them into buying products. It’s true that by portraying products alongside unachievable standards of beauty, a deep-rooted desire to appear that way (and settle for having the product, instead) is planted.

However, this psychological attachment to material possessions is not a product of capitalism, but of consumerism. This rampant, emotional need to own products is a consequence of a 20th century that saw war propagandists and bankers establishing (at least in America) a society built on superficial values and material possession. Consumerism may occur in a capitalistic society, but the two cannot be confused.

Capitalism is different and not limited to the “consumer” realm . This is not to say that the basic principles of capitalism are not at work in the female world of pop culture. Women want to know what Miley Cyrus’ ate for breakfast and want to know what the celebrities wear so they can copy their style–that is why magazines, television shows and websites.Image

While that demand may have been deceptively encouraged in the 1920s when master PR agents were first hiring stars to sell products, the products sold because people responded to the marketing technique. As long as there is demand for information like this and people do not see through the manipulation, it will be supplied.

In spite of its bad reputation, capitalism is also what brought the world technology, smart phones, and transportation. It is what allowed the demand for cars to be satisfied, as well as hybrid vehicles and research into alternative energy. Capitalism underpins all free interaction as it is simply the voluntary interaction and association of free individuals. It is the reason the “organic” food market has grown so substantially in the past years–so much so that small farms are slowly making a comeback in the face of pervasive factory farms who have dominated markets with government subsidies.

The free market is what finally convinced Subway to remove yoga mat rubber from their sandwich bread while Mrs. Obama was signing the company up as poster child for “eating healthy.” The White House and FDA had no problem with rubber in bread and the approval of this chemical for use in hundreds of other processed foods–it was outrage from the people and the Internet that pushed Subway to fix the problem.

But what do successes of the free market have to do with sexism in the media? While the demand for pictures of pretty, famous people and lists of must-have fashion remains high, and therefore is still satisfied, the free market is responsible for an evolving presentation of femininity in the media. Since the early to mid 2000s, the peak of anorexic models in the mainstream has dwindled. Women’s preferences have changed and the market has had to respond. Abercrombie and Fitch suffered a massive blow to its reputation after its CEO derailed fat people last year and is now developing a plus size line to accommodate those it previously shunned.

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Fuller figured celebrities, such as Adele and Cristina Hendricks, are praised for their beauty in the celebrity culture sphere because women respond positively to their presence. Recent years have seen an increase in “non-airbrushed” ads, such as American Eagle’s lingerie line, which caters to the idea of all bodies being beautiful. While this may clearly a marketing ploy, it is a healthier one than depicting women so thin they are likely infertile.

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Regardless, all of these examples show a shift in what depictions of females women are willing to accept, and their tolerance for unrealistic standards of attractiveness is gradually decreasing.

But the market is at work in forces larger than consumer products. The free market is the foundation for more intelligent, independent media for women. Mad Men, arguably one of the best shows in the history of television, successfully portrays the lives and struggles of both men and women in the 1960s. The characters are multi-dimensional and the show attracts viewers of both genders. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the writers for the show do not suffer a gender disparity: they are both men and women and what they produce appeals to all. The market responded to a show that dared to take this route, the show’s massive success providing incentive for other productions to balance male perspectives with female ones.

The Netflix original series Orange is the New Black is a similar example of this free market shift in our culture’s view of women. Most shows for women are centered around a romantic relationship (whether reality TV, drama, or even celebrity news shows) or fierce, contentious competition between women. While these topics are arguably evolutionary (the female prerogative in nature is to secure a long-term man and ward off other competition), the extent to which they have been repeated and obsessed over in the media is comical.

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But Orange is the New Black, about a waspy woman who goes to prison, offers a female perspective increasingly seen in mass media. While the show certainly incorporates drama over men and competition between females, none of these plot lines (typical in reality TV) is the main one. They are peripheral to the main character’s own internal struggle and journey.

The same can be seen in the wildly successful book series-turned film franchise, The Hunger Games. While the story’s excessive violence (and its symbolism of strength for the main character) is a conversation for a different day, this book and movie series strays dramatically from the common female narrative. Again, while romance is an important part of the story, it is not the main attraction: the individual struggle of Katniss, the protagonist, against the evils of her oppressive government is the main issue. These films are some of the top grossing of all time, influencing other film producers in Hollywood to pursue similarly themed stories that dwell not on the typical female stories but on those that depict individuality and strength.

Side note: both Orange and Hunger Games appeal to women and men, demonstrating an “equality” of the sexes that no government law or feminist dictate can force.

The successes of these stories are all examples of the free market at work. Lionsgate would never have produced the Hunger Games if the market were not there for it, nor would Mad Men be in its seventh season. When consumers demand a shift in the presentation of women, the shift occurs.

Of course, society is a long way from eliminating the plague of reality shows, celebrity worship and music videos of half-naked pop stars that supply young girls with ideas of sexuality. On one hand, the attraction of girls and women to makeup, fashion and sexual celebrities is a consequence of evolution: we are programmed to make ourselves appealing for the sake of reproduction (women have been wearing makeup for thousands of years, long before conglomerations started selling it). However, the extremity and exaggeration of these qualities in the media has come at the sacrifice of self-empowerment and actualization and a strongly-rooted, internal sense of identity.

The only way an evolution away from these values will take hold is if the people who consume the product stop demanding it–if they become smart consumers, as many already have. As much as it is easy to point fingers to the media and corporations for constructing an unattainable, male-centric version of what it means to be a woman, the media cannot be blamed for continuing to sell what people keep buying.

The change in representations of women in the media will occur when parents actively, rationally teach their daughters why the circus they are exposed to is undesirable. Better yet, “sexism in culture” (as well as mindless consumerism) will stop when parents stop exposing their children to television as a crutch for raising their offspring. Before misrepresentations of women cease, women must decide that they don’t need conglomerated media corporations telling them how to live their lives and how to love themselves. The must grow tired of consuming information that has no relevant impact on their lives and as a result, grow tired of watching it. As soon as people stop consuming the trash presented to them, the producers will quickly change what they are selling.

It may seem hopeless and distant, but it is a long-term trend that has already begun. The more products and entertainment that reflect changing desires and personalities of women, the more like-minded ones will continue to emerge–it is a feedback loop. It may be impossible to force others to drop superficiality, insecurity, or addiction to television or celebrity gossip, but it is possible to support a revolution of thought in the power of the media and the ability of people to shape their environments, identities and values.

The Logic of Dianne Feinstein’s Authoritarianism

Dianne Feinstein is one of the most reviled senators in the United States, and for good reason. Most who loathe her decry her hypocrisy when it comes to everything from banning guns (she held a concealed carry permit for years) to domestic spying (she pushes the policy, unless it turns out the CIA is spying on her) to the use of domestic drones (they’re just fine until someone flies a drone outside her window–then it’s time for regulation). Feinstein is characterized by her “do as I say, not as I do” style of rule.

But as infuriating as the senator’s condescending approach to “representation” may be, even more troubling is the reasoning behind many of her “decisions” as a member of Congress. Even as Congress has the lowest approval point in history, Americans still perpetuate a layer of respect for elected officials, assuming they are knowledgeable and educated.

This is why Feinstein is able to routinely commit a particular type of slaughter upon reason: the anecdotal fallacy, where the perpetrator uses personal experience or an isolated incident to justify their positions. Her choices and political impulses are based in pure irrationality and the strength of her own ego.

In the case of guns, Feinstein has openly explained the origin of her crusade against them: she witnessed the assassination of two political figures, San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk and mayor George Moscone in 1978. She has publicly stated: “ ‘I was the one that found Supervisor Milk’s body, and I was the one to put a finger in a bullet hole, trying to get a pulse…Once you have been through one of these episodes, once you see what the crime scene is like, it isn’t like the movies — it changes your view of weapons.’ ” She went on to say, ” ‘I know from first-hand experience what damage … weapons can do to bodies…I have a deep belief that these weapons are antithetical to our values.’ “

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Never mind the blatant hypocrisy that she and her husband are war profiteers and she supported all funding for the Iraq War and current wars, which undeniably goes (at least in part) to the weapons she finds so sickening. Her single personal experience of witnessing a murder happened over thirty years ago, but Feinstein still uses it. She cited it while attempting to build support for her 2012 assault weapons ban (spurred by–yet again–the anecdotal event of Sandy Hook, exploited by politicians to ban guns).

 

In another isolated incident, after a bomb was planted at her house by the New World Liberation Front in the 1970s but failed to explode, her second home was shot up by the same terrorists. She also uses this experience to justify her need for guns (though, as mentioned above, she was quick to obtain a concealed carry permit to defend herself–she just believes no one else should have the right to do so).

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But it isn’t just her pet hatred for guns where Feinstein affronts rationality. She is fiercely opposed to the legalization of marijuana. The senator is a proponent of the Drug War in spite of decades of evidence proving it has not only exacerbated the black market for drugs, but disadvantaged the poor and minorities she claims to care for as a Democrat. Why is she so opposed to legalizing marijuana? As the Huffington Post reported, “[Feinstein] said serving on the California Women’s Board of Terms and Parole during the 1960s allowed her to see how marijuana, in her view, led to bigger problems for many female inmates. ‘I saw a lot of where people began with marijuana and went on to hard drugs,’ Feinstein said.”

In spite of countless scientific studies proving this statement is incorrect, Feinstein pushes her view based on anecdotal events that in this case, happened over forty years ago. Because of her observations, she dictates that a drug she doesn’t like (even though it is proven to have medicinal qualities) should not be legal. She also claims marijuana increases the risk of car accidents, explaining that this, too, is why weed cannot be legal (even though again, studies prove her wrong).

While Feinstein’s claims about car accidents may not be anecdotal, they are flat out false, and still based on cherry-picked instances of accidents that fall into this category. Yet regardless of her espousal of false claims and her presumptuous perception that she may decide what individuals put in their body, she once again exemplifies her political acumen’s reliance on her own “experiences” to justify policy decisions.

The same pattern appears in her stance on domestic spying. While she did not justify spying based on a personal experience, nor has she made any attempt to curb the unpopular practice, her recent and highly publicized crusade to stop CIA spying is dependent on her own encounters. Feinstein was content to have the American people’s privacy violated, but only when she experienced the same fate did she bother to take action or stand for a policy change and “justice.” Only when something affected her in a way she didn’t like did she care.

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She has acted in the same way with regards to domestic drone usage. Feinstein has embraced the use of drones in the United States (as well as to kill children abroad, lying about how many civilians it has killed and complaining only of the CIA’s secrecy around the program, not the program itself) to surveil citizens. That is, of course, until she noticed a drone flying outside her window during a protest against government surveillance (it was a toy plane, but Feinstein ran with the political ploy anyway). Once she felt the violation of her own privacy, she was spurred to advocate for regulations on these drones, pretending it was for the well-being of the American people.

Feinstein may be known for her reptilian appearance, her old age, her unsurpassed hypocrisy and her political opportunism. However, her pattern of using logical fallacies to support and argue for such a wide array of destructive policies is particularly concerning. It is bad enough that she or any other lawmaker presumes to tell others how they may or may not live. It is terrible enough that she has exploited the two party system and used it to her financial and megalomaniacal benefit. But is it really so much to ask that she make an argument that at least attempts to be rational and forthcoming? It really should not be so outrageous to expect that a senator offer more than just her personal experiences to justify violative policies.

Unfortunately, Feinstein’s tendency to exercise her ego in advocating for policy is not just present in Congress: it is the mentality of most government agents with a penchant for controlling others. It is the same psychological mechanism underlying the average citizen who goes to the voting booth convinced they know the answers for a just society and their “democratic system” will follow through.

 

How Obama Gets Away with Terrorizing the Middle East

With figures like John Boehner, Lindsey Graham and former president George Bush as opposition, President Barack Obama often appears to be a tolerant, peaceful figure. In the face of delusional Republicans calling to ban gays and Muslims, the president and his liberal rhetoric paint the picture that he is a peaceful, accepting humanitarian–even if sometimes he “has to” get his hands dirty.

In 2011, while America was beating its beloved war drums at the assassination of bin Laden, the Obama administration was praising its own respect for Islam. While the key talking point of bin Laden’s death was that Obama succeeded in executing the most propagandized-redeeming man hunt in US history, there was more to the story.Obama is considered by many Americans and global citizens to be “tolerant”: his mixed race represents the unity of different races and his “fights” for women prove his thirst for equality, even if he has been caught bending wage statistics for political opportunism. Even the rumors that he is Muslim–no matter how vehemently he denies them and how much of the country thinks he’s the Anti-Christ–denote the myth of multiculturalism that surrounds him. No president before him could remotely be believed to be Muslim. Nevertheless, the president and his government use this facet of his persona to justify torture and war-mongering while exploiting the MIddle East and infiltrating new regions.

They could not produce evidence that Osama had been killed, they said, out of respect for the Muslim world. The media ate it up. According to Islamic custom, the terrorist’s remains were thrown into the ocean. Further, photographic evidence could not be released for the risk that it might outrage Muslims across the globe. Also because, as the president said at the time, “that’s not who [Americans] are. We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies.” America not only took out the most dangerous man in the world–it did it with class under the guidance of the kindly president.

The current administration shows disregard for people in this region of the world in its general conduct: the president smugly refuses to talk about the children he’s killed and the “suspected” terrorists he orders assassinated–and it is because of his image as a peace-leaning president that he is able to get away with it. Americans have come to accept war–especially liberals who may not unflinchingly defend, but always rationalize Obama’s actions.

He “endedthe Iraq War and uses strategically targeted missiles to take out terrorists, expertly avoiding ground invasions. He need not answer that 49 out of 50 people killed by “humanitarian” drone bombs are civilians. Obama hasn’t started any “real” wars so any collateral damage is dismissed.

Maybe that’s why he isn’t afraid to directly tie his perceived “tolerance” to his blatant world policing. In his “Happy New Years” Nowruz address to Iranians at the start of Spring, Obama wasted no time playing politics. While Nowruz is not a religious holiday, it is a deeply ingrained cultural one with strong relevance to the Iranian people. After offering a short paragraph of well wishes and happy dinners, the president immediately got to business.

He praised Iranians for electing a less radical leader than Ahmedenijad and politicked that he was the first U.S. president to meet directly with an Iranian leader since the 1970s. He benevolently promised that if Iran stays on track, they will be able to take their “rightful place” on the world scene again…but only when Obama (and Israel) says so. The president matter-of-factly explained that the people voted for economic advancement, which stalled because of the Iranian government. He conveniently left out the logical deduction from this thought that it was his sanctions that hampered the country’s economy.

While no one thought Iran’s last president was reasonable, on principle it is grotesque that the United States, with arsenals of nuclear weapons–and a history of meddling excessively in Iran’s affairs, which led to the 1979 revolution–would presume such a patronizing stance. Happy Nowruz, Iran (read skillfully from a tele-prompter)!

Meanwhile, the military under Commander-in-Chief Obama has significantly extended the United States’ tentacles to Africa. The 2012 viral sensation of Kony helped grow American support to send troops to Uganda to search for him. Obama ordered still more troops to the hunt (despite the fact that Kony is not in Uganda) this March. The military is currently building the “infrastructure” for a long-term military presence in the entire African region. It reguarly flies drones overhead, carries out more than a mission a day with African militaries, and hunts terrorists. As Antiwar.com reports:

“Washington has been increasing its support for African regimes, many with records of human rights violations, and boosting efforts to train African militaries to keep them dependent on the Pentagon. The U.S. is training and equipping militaries in countries including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia – not to mention operations in Libya, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti, et al.”

While Obama parrots “humanitarian efforts” in Africa and apathetic liberals still accept it-because Africa–he is lining these nations with the violent infrastructure of the US military, ultimately disadvantaging the people of African by keeping warlords in power using military force. Paralleling the United States’ long history of military intervention, “helping others” and saving democracy is the fraudulent selling point.

Though the Obama administration on the surface adheres to a policy of respect and tolerance for all walks of life, the reality of its foreign policy could not be further from the truth. No matter how many times the administration claims to observe respect for Islam and the Muslim world, his actions prove otherwise. When drones are bombing funerals and weddings in multiple countries, the Pentagon continues to use violence to colonize foreign countries, and the president offers zero accountability for it, there is no tolerance.  This (and nearly all his other policies, abroad and at home) makes it difficult to believe that the Obama administration does anything out of respect.

Wait, I went viral?!?

Hi all! So it’s been a couple of weeks since my video of me burning Obama’s face on a shirt got far, far, FAR more views than I ever expected! (here, if you missed it!). Technically, viral is over a million views in a week, so I’ll call it mini-viral until it hits 1,000,000. Regardless, It has been an interesting experience to say the least. Not only does the all-knowing internet have me pegged for everything from a leftist anarchist to a tea party conservative (hint: I’m neither), it has also extended overwhelming support to me! It is so exciting and encouraging to have now experienced first-hand how disappointed, disgusted, and frustrated so many people are with the current president, as well as to see how many people have disengaged from the fantasy of the two-party system serving anyone but the people in power. I’ve also been able to do some fun interviews this past week. Check them out! Here are  links to the recorded versions. These are full episodes of these great shows, so you may need to listen to what else they have to say before you find my segment :) : Pete Santilli The Big Plantation Ed & Ethan The Rundown Due to the fun frenzy surrounding this video, as well as interviews and a nasty cold I’ve been fighting this week, I haven’t had a chance to upload new videos. But fear not! I have been working and am so eager to share new content with you next week! Look out for some analysis and debunking of universal government trickery, some laying down the facts about the U.S. government’s historical motivation for gun control, and some fun conversations with frustrated tax cows at their local extortion mill (traffic court!). I also have a few exciting, more long-term projects in the works that I will be sharing with you shortly. Thank you SO MUCH to all of my past and new supporters. I can’t wait to hear what you think of my new videos and to hear what you would like to see more of. Lots of love, Carey [your favorite presidential blowtorcher ;)]

“I don’t mind NSA spying, I have nothing to hide!”

The common reaction to NSA spying, even if Americans are uncomfortable with it is: “Oh well, I’m not doing anything wrong. I have nothing to hide. I’m not a terrorist!” If this is how you feel, there are a few things you should know.

First, the NSA has been proven ineffective at fighting terrorism, so any illusion that this is what the NSA is doing must be shattered. Not a single terrorist has been found thanks to mass surveillance. The NSA ties the TSA.

Second, however, your definition of “doing anything wrong” is probably different from the NSA’s.

Do you like weed? Do you like molly, ecstacy, coke, lsd, or ‘shrooms,? The government believes this is “doing something wrong” and the NSA routinely shares information with the “Special Operations Division” of the DEA to help prosecute Americans for ordinary drug “crimes.” Then using “parallel construction,” they cover their tracks with the NSA to conceal the violation of your rights that landed you in court or jail, anyway. They also pass findings to the local police, teaching them, too to hide their spying. It’s infiltrated at all levels of government and covered up the same way. Just like the Patriot Act, the NSA is used to prosecute more drug “crimes” than terrorist crimes.

Do you or have you ever worked a job under the table? Has the current, government-induced economic situation motivated you to keep some of your earnings private from the government? That same S.O.D. of the DEA shares its data with the IRS so they can seek out tax frauds, and like the DEA and local police, they hide the fact that they caught you by spying. This recurring process is called “parallel construction.” You should google it.

But let me ask you this: Have you ever sent your boobs or dick to someone who wanted to see it? Because the NSA was just recently revealed to be assisting the British intelligence agency, GCHQ, in spying on webcam footage of average citizens. Millions of them, through Yahoo. The help from the NSA was integral to the success of the program, and British spy agents found an “undesirable” frequency of nudity. The spy agencies do not approve of your sexual habits.

I’m not saying that just because you’ve sent a naked picture that the NSA is looking. But you are in those databases, and NSA employees get bored at their 9-5 jobs just like everyone else… They also must get deathly sick of searching for imaginary terrorists. You decide if you’re comfortable with that.

Two of these things are obscene because they are using your tax dollars to spy on you to violate your rights: demanding money through both taxation and to lock people in cages for non-violent “crimes.” This is how the government spends your money. They also use it terrorizing innocent people and children all over the world. Maybe it’s time to focus on what your government has to hide.

LADIES, Know Your Attacker

When women think of sexual assault or rape, their minds turn to dark alleys or wasted college girls with predatory frat boys. It’s unlikely that their thoughts default to some of the most insidious perpetrators of sexual violence of all. This is because they have shiny badges signifying they are there to help. While countless sects of government, from the TSA and prison guards to the military and even politicians are known to inflict sexual assault, no one does so more than police forces. The members of society most associated with “serving” and “protecting” are the ones who feel most entitled to take advantage.

Many cops have demonstrated their indifference to the crime of rape: they have been found to ignore and bury reports and to fail to complete police work to solve this type of crime. Perhaps as commonly, cops themselves are guilty of violating women almost every day. A female protestor at Occupy Wall Street had her breast squeezed so hard by a cop that it left a black and blue hand print. She is now being charged with assault against the officer. Chattanooga police deputy Willie Marshay Greer offered to let a woman leave a traffic stop after finding an open warrant on her record–but only if she gave him a blow job. Two LAPD officers may be relieved of duty for committing rape on the job and in the same city, another woman fell out of a moving squad car trying to escape an officer attempting to assault her. A Texas cop faces felony charges after raping a woman at a traffic stop. A Kentucky state trooper who raped a woman is now asking for his job back, citing a “moral mistake.”

These forceful, sexual impositions by police officers are not just isolated incidents. In 2010, 10% of all police misconduct was classified as sexual. It was second only to police assault, which comprised  25% of all complaints. When compared to the general population, the rate of police sexual assault surpasses that of average individuals with male cops 1.5 times more likely than other men. When it comes to sex, police are exponentially more aggressive. Of these sexual assaults, over half  were committed against minors, further demonstrating the perverted tentacles of sexual entitlement many government agents exercise.

It is relevant to bear in mind, as well,  that up to 60% of all cases of sexual assault committed by the general population go unreported out of shame and fear. This leaves statistics much lower than reality. It stands to reason, then, that the number of assaults by cops, is much higher than statistics suggest. Why would a victim report a crime to the agency responsible for committing it when the level of shame and fear is already inherently high? Why would anyone attempt to gain redress, especially when it is common practice for cops to receive temporary (tax-payer funded!) leave from work when found guilty of these crimes? When these cases go to court, cops often win and are given back their jobs. Police commit assaults knowing they are shielded by the authority of their employer.

Sexual power and control transcend gender lines. An Ohio state trooper recently escaped punishment for masturbating to porn with a young boy because his department found there was no breach of protocol. One man in New Mexico was forced to endure an invasive anal cavity search under the pretense of “drug possession” that featured extensive penetration and discomfort. No drugs were found and the warrant was “invalid.”  Another man alleges to have been raped with a gun by a gang of Chicago cops. A man in California was recently tasered so excessively on his genitals that he could “smell his flesh burn.” Though these instances may not represent “traditional” rape, they constitute sexual abuse as they inflicted sexual and psychological discomfort and injury.

No matter the victim, police often demonstrate sexually violent and oppressive tendencies in their personal lives.  A Baltimore cop was recently found to be pimping out his teen wife. A Prince George police officer and his wife were recently charged with 16 counts of rape and sexual assault against a minor, who was a relative of the  officer’s wife. A Dateline undercover video staged two actors in a bar: one playing an extremely intoxicated girl and the other a predatory, sober male. The point was to see if bystanders would step in to assist the near-unconscious girl.

The result? Most people attempted to stop the male from taking the female “back to his hotel room.” The one who encouraged the male to have as much sex as possible with the inebriated woman (and chuckled at the thought of her waking up confused with her underwear around her ankles) was an off-duty cop. Unfounded, unlimited power attracts the type of personality that seeks to exercise it.

Based on this reality of government, it should not be difficult to understand why so much sexual harassment, abuse, and assault occurs at the hands of state agents. To be an employee of the state,  in this case, the police force, is to enjoy an exclusive right to exercise your will and the will of the institution upon others. As increasingly common-knowledge teaches, rape and sexual abuse are not acts of sexual desire but of power. To force a woman or anyone to be harassed or to have sex is an act of aggression and demonstrates the need of the perpetrator to feel more powerful than their victim.

This psychological disease extends far beyond sexual harassment. It is founded simply on violence. It is the mechanism behind all types of police brutality, whether the murder of a schizophrenic homeless man, the tasering of a man trying to save his child from a burning home, or the violent rape of  a woman at a traffic stop. This use of force and runaway power is a symptom of the institution of government, which is founded on force, coercion, and arbitrary authority. When power derives from force, force will run rampant.

But the police know they are being watched. They may have the system on their side for now, but they are increasingly aware that their actions are often recorded and that people are increasingly learning their rights. For every Kelly Thomas acquittal, thousands of people recognize the illegitimacy of police power. Often, this surge in awareness paradoxically causes cops to act impulsively and violently out of a desire to assert their authority. Such a strong desire to exercise power is a demonstration of fear and insecurity and an understanding that people will not tolerate such cruelty forever.

Be aware of the tendencies of power-hungry cops. Document them when you can and refuse to submit to intimidation. Though sexual assault and general brutality is often clearly unavoidable when dealing with police, exercising educated vigilance and sharing it with others can effectively force cops to stop their violence without the use of force. Know your attacker and expose the injustice to protect yourself and your fellow humans.

Queen Beyonce, it’s time to exterminate the hive

Your Highness Bey,

I know this may ruffle your divine stinger, but it’s time to exterminate your “hive,” as you call the covenant of your diehard fans. This obviously isn’t to say that you, the queen bee, should literally kill them. It isn’t to argue that you don’t deserve your admirers or that they don’t authentically adore you.  Though I may disagree, the beliefs of many that you are a strong, empowered woman are arguably valid. You own your sexuality, you have a powerful stage presence and a talented voice (even if you lip synced at the president’s inauguration!), and you make a concerted effort to give back to humanity through philanthropy.

Your music is innovative, and though you may not write it all (or most of it), your ability to inspire not only your fans but your musical peers is worthy of respect. You are a loving mother with a full, curvaceous body and non-white skin that teaches women about beauty outside of the Kate Moss archetype. You are a force that I am somewhat afraid to reckon with, and one more genuine than many in your genre.

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But in spite of your abundant skills and positive traits, it is disconcerting that you are considered a role model and feminist by millions of girls and women– even with your Michelle Obama stamp of approval. This is not  for any of the typical criticisms often hurled your way. It’s not particularly because you grind your hips like a hardcore stripper while on stage, sending the message to millions of young girls that a sexual performance is the best way to channel strength and confidence. There are singers raunchier than thou, and sexual expression is not sin nor carte blanche demeaning.

Your poor qualifications to be a role model are also not because now that you’re married, much of your public persona is rooted in your relationship with your husband, driving home the age-old point to women that to be complete, women must attach their identities to a man. After all, you were independent before you met Jay, and those qualities remain a part of your image. Besides, powerful, true love is nothing to discount or downplay.

You’re not even necessarily a bad role model because your personal, multi-million dollar brand is built largely on the superficial values that are often decried by critics of womens’ popular culture. Sure, you may hawk perfumes, cosmetics, clothing and items that implicitly signal to girls that their natural selves are not enough and that they need material enhancement to be accepted. But I’m sure you’ve got plenty of inner beauty and genuinely believe that your fans and all women are beautiful… regardless of the millions of dollars you make selling products that countless studies of girls and media indicate contribute to self-loathing.

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Your sale of these products categorizes you as a successful “business woman” and therefore a symbol of modern femininity. Yet it’s not your fault that a culture of vapid superficiality dominates the minds of culturally-oriented young women. You didn’t create these values, nor can you single-handedly stop them. You’re simply a part of the machine and I don’t blame you for capitalizing on your status, nor for reveling in it.

The real reason the idea of you as a role model is an abomination is none of these things. It’s your Beyhive and the much deeper messages it sends about human value. After all, you are a feminist who wants to see the value of women equal to that of men. Feminists, as I was raised to believe, are essentially humanists who seek equal value to men. No more, no less, and they are most certainly not insects whose purpose in life is to slave away for an omnipotent queen bee.

But in your branding brilliance, you have misled a generation of your followers from understanding the values of true empowerment. Sure, you teach them sexual empowerment, relationship empowerment, and most certainly, career empowerment, though a precious few will achieve the goals you implicitly set for them: namely to be famous, adored, flawless and flawlessly dressed (that you recently used an outdated, misleading statistic about the ratio of female to male pay in a widely-acclaimed feminist essay is a separate concern).

Even if you inspire your fans in all of these ways, the point is lost because of the spirit of your hive. Your diehards refer to you as “Queen” or “King” Bey, a throwback to an era when both men and women were ruled by tyrants that claimed divine right to control others. Whatever inspirational lyrics and interviews you perpetuate about the true power of women and how they “run the world,” it is lost when you encourage them to defer to you.

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There is a significant population of women that identify with your larger-than-life persona, and instead of having the self-confidence and inner fortitutude to build one themselves, find it in you. While this may not be your fault, this centrality of your brand is at the very least complicit. When women are inspired to bow to a beautiful, rich, famous woman they will never meet, they practice the opposite of empowerment. It isn’t about male or female. It’s about the individual.

The individuals that learn to worship you go on to spread hate and anger to others who they perceive to have slandered your name. In the court of Queen Bey, sedition is scorned. This may not be your single-handed fault, as Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and other pop stars have branded fan bases as vehement and reactionary as yours. This speaks mostly to the hateful state of insecure, modern femininity in that girls are so quick to lash out at other girls and female public figures when they feel threatened.

But your designation of yourself as a king and queen for marketing and egoic purposes is certainly distinct. It transcends previous stars who absorbed nicknames that denoted royalty: Jackson, the King of Pop, or Madonna, its Queen. While these titles are often acquired, you built the mentality of your divine rite. That it was an act of “feminism” in that you cast off the female version of the term is irrelevant. Despotism does not know gender lines. In spite of your packaged efforts, you have dragged your fans back to the Dark Ages and failed to teach them to worship themselves as beautiful, independent human beings.  You’ve taught them to worship you, further perpetuating a society already obsessed with celebrity and using it for your own personal gain.

Now, B, I doubt you’re going to change your ways. You have a billion dollar brand and are beloved by millions of people. Of course, you could explain to your fans why fervent idol worship is in direct contrast to self-empowerment, no matter what sex organs that idol possesses. You could tell them to stop having manic emotional conniptions when another celebrity criticizes you. You could explain to them that there is more to self-actualization than beauty, money, and someone else’s achievements. But you’re oh  so empowered that your brand relies on that worship and without it, you would fall from rank.

So please, your majesty, sic the hive if you must.

Love,

A peasant who used to blast Destiny’s Child with her girlfriends