Children, Coaches, Priests and Sex

Sex is an undeniably strong factor in the lives of most people, for obvious reasons:  The sexual reproductive system evolved to ensure survival of the species by making sex feel physically pleasurable (as in really GOOD) among animals with higher intelligence and lesser instinctive preconditioning.  So it’s fair to say that humans have a certain amount of control over when they have sex that lower, instinct-driven animals do not have.

Over the course of human history, that control has lent itself to two very tragic realities.  The first is that certain societies, religions and cultures used human control over sexual urges to suppress and repress all manner of sexual activity among non-sanctioned consenting adults.  The other was that, partly because of this organized repression, the strong increasingly preyed sexually upon the weak and innocent.   While this sexual predation, assault and rape occurred against innocent victims of all ages, the absolute worst crimes were committed against children.  And despite increased public awareness of these crimes, it still happens today.

The recent Penn State University football sex abuse scandal involving assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who is accused of sexually assaulting at least eight minor-aged boys over 15 years is a example of this abhorrent sexual behavior, as is the Syracuse University sex abuse scandal involving assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine who stands accused of sexually abusing at least three minor boys several years ago.  And, of course everyone has heard or read of the long-running child sex abuse scandals by clergy of the Roman Catholic Church.

In all of these cases, unsuspecting young children were sexually abused by adults to whom they admired, respected and often idolized, sometimes seeing them as god-like or even extensions on Earth of  a deity.  The systemic reason why this is even possible is present on our cultural programming.  It teaches children from infancy to trust adults, authority, religious representatives, sports heroes, etc as perfect.  In other words, these very young children are indoctrinated by their parents, their religious institutions and others to believe in the unbelievable, to not question authority, to believe that adults always tell the truth, and that authority figures are trustworthy and special.

Thus, if one of these authority figures calls upon a child to do “something” that, so the child is told, will make them very special, some of these children will believe it.  They are ill-prepared to be skeptical and to demand proof because their own parents may have taught them that priests, coaches, boy scout leaders and the like are adults to be trusted, with special powers and/or authority over a wide range of enviable things and events.  And if the “grooming” these children have been subjected to is strong enough, they will agree to submit to the wishes of the adult authority figure, even though these children might be uncomfortable or even traumatized by the actions of the adults and/or their participation in those acts.

Obviously, not every child will allow this to happen, even if the child was raising in a way that might enable such victimization.  People have different genetic predispositions, and even in the same environments, children will experience different developmental stimuli.  But the fact that it does happen to as many children as it does (and those we hear about are only the tip of the iceberg) indicates a systemic problem that facilitates child acquiescence to such activities by sexual predators, especially in those cases in which the abuse occurs repeatedly over time.

Obviously, no caring parents and no moral adult authority figure would knowingly set a child up for such an action.  But the operative word is “knowingly” .  In case after case of child sexual abuse it has been established that the parents and non-involved authority figures had no idea the abuse was happening or even how or why the child agreed to participate, albeit reluctantly.  And yet, in case after case the victims reveal that they knew the abuser, often for years, before the abuse started.  They will also reveal that they implicitly trusted the abuser, and that they had been encouraged by the trusted adults in their lives to do so.  Because of that encouragement, the victims believed the abusers’ rationalization for the abuse, such as “this is God’s plan”, or some similar statement about how special and righteous it is.

If there is one thing that parents, teachers, clergy and other moral and caring adults should do, it is to teach children from infancy to think for themselves and question authority, as Dr. Timothy Leary used to say (albeit not the for exact same reasons). They should be taught reality, and some basic codes of conduct that all people should follow, such as to reject inappropriate touching by any adult, as well as the need to be respectful, but vigilant.

Because if people keep teaching children in the same old way, children will continue to be victimized in the same old way.

Fixing the USA: Can an Election Do it?

To almost no one’s surprise, the congressional “super-committee” refused to bite the bullet of shared deficit-reduction solutions,  and instead declared failure this week.  They had until last Monday to formulate and submit a bipartisan alternative to the US$1.2 trillion in automatic cuts that are scheduled to take effect in January 2013.  Assuming that they has succeeded, today would have been the day that they would have presented their plan to congress for straight up or down votes in December.

The main sticking point, more than any other by far, was a democrat-proposed tax increase on millionaires.  But the republicans have signed a pledge to Grover Norquist to never, ever raise taxes.  The democrats were actually willing to agree to cuts to entitlement programs such as social security and medicare if the GOP would just agree to even the most rudimentary tax increase for the nation’s millionaires, even though addressing/reducing entitlements is very painful for democrats.  But the dems were not willing to agree to entitlement cuts, which benefit the poor and the middle class, without a sharing of the burden among the richest people in the USA.  The republicans said simply said no.

Since the 2010 congressional elections, the GOP has controlled the US House of Representatives.  They swept into office as a result of what many people saw as a failure of the then-20-month-old Obama administration to reverse the economic disaster cause by eight years of the GW Bush administration’s outrageous spending coupled with reduced incoming revenue due to massive tax breaks for the richest Americans.  They were also mad that the Obama administration had not fixed the housing and foreclosure debacle in the USA, which was also caused by Bush policies.

It is certainly true that there are things that the Obama administration could have done better while it still had a democratic majority in the House of Representatives.  Even though they did not have filibuster-proof majority in the senate, they probably should have at least put on the show, for all the people to see, that it was the republicans, not the democrats, that were preventing job creation, assistance to homeowners, and any other program that could benefit the middle class and rescue the economy, bill after bill after bill.

On the other hand, the moment the republicans lost the 2008 general election, the remaining GOP survivors in congress adapted a strategy of unified obstructionism and unified non-cooperation with the democrats.   .  Their single most important priority and motivation was now doing whatever was necessary to make Obama fail and thus subsequently lose the next election, even over helping the USA recover from the GOP-caused recession, mortgage fiasco and other excesses and failed GW Bush administration policies.  They did this at the expense of doing the work of the American people.

It’s been like that ever since, except now it’s far worse, because of GOP control of the house.  With very few exceptions, the GOP house will not agree to any legislation passed by the democrat-controlled senate, and vice versa.  Last summer’s debt-limit debate fiasco was an example of just how far these folks will go to make the Obama administration look like bad.  And there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to hope that somehow this scenario will change….With one possible (and feasible) exception:

The 2012 election.   The scenarios look like this:

1.  If either political party wins control of both houses of congress in 2012 but not the presidency, there is at least a chance that congress will produce bills that both houses can pass and send to the president.  Then the president can either sign or veto the bill.  If he/she vetoes it, there is still a chance that congress could overturn the veto.  So there is at least a path out of gridlock.

2.  If either party wins both houses of congress as well as the presidency, it is likely that much more will get done, also defusing  gridlock.  And if the winning party can achieve a 60-plus seat majority inthe senate, then that makes it even easier for the majority party to achieve its agenda goals.

3.  If, on the other hand, congressional control continues to be split between the major parties (regardless of which party wins the presidency), the USA could be in for acute long-term paralysis.  This would be incredibly dangerous, since the politicians have already demonstrated that they care more about party than about the country and its people.  The USA would lose whatever credibility it still has in the world, but the worse part of this is yet to be encountered.  It could get to the point where public safety is threatened.

4.  One other possible solution would be term limits for members of congress.  But they would have to pass a bill that limits their ability to run for a third term of office.  That’s akin to them firing themselves from a job that pays well, strokes their egos, and provides lots of power, perks and “special” opportunities.

What do you think the chances of THAT happening are?  🙁

Millionaires to GOP: We SHOULD Pay MORE Taxes, You Morons!

The republicans really need to consider changing their party’s name from Grand Old Party (GOP) to Greedy One Percent.

The GOP, which has been vehemently opposed to any tax hikes for the very rich, claims that those tax hikes would paralyze job creation by these millionaires whom the GOP calls “job creators”.  Of course, they ignore the fact that under the massive Bush tax cuts for the rich, the USA lost 4.4 million jobs in 2008 alone (by the end of the Bush administration in January 2009,with another 4 million lost by January 2010 because of the recession that began in December 2007, while the USA added 22.4 million jobs under the increased taxes environment of the Clinton administration

So much for how protecting tax breaks for those “job creating” millionaires causes job creation…

The Occupy Wall Street movement is changing the political landscape by diverting new and increased media attention to itself and away from the Tea party Movement‘s agenda.  Despite accusations from some of more ignorant republicans and conservatives who claim that the Occupiers are merely lazy young people who don’t want to work and ex-1960’s anti-war protesters looking for relevance and attention, the facts are that Bank of America felt their influence when it recently reversed its proposed $5 per month ATM usage fee which was set to start in January 2012.  Additionally, the Occupiers have actually been instrumental (according to the richest man on the planet Warren Buffet’s son, Howard), in getting two dozen of the USA’s millionaires to visit the US congress yesterday demanding a tax increase on themselves and their brethren.

It seems these folks actually got to talk to the congressional “super-committee” of six democrats and six republicans who are tasked with finding at least US$1.2 trillion in budget savings over the next 10 years by November 23rd.  If this super-committee can’t agreed to a plan or the full congress doesn’t pass the plan in December, automatic (and somewhat draconian) budget cuts to both defense and non-defense spending will kick in starting in 2013.  Not one of the super-committee members wants that to happen, but with less than a week left, they still seem far apart.  Yet the GOP members have been absolutely unyielding when it comes to tax increases on anyone, especially millionaires, even as those same millionaires are advocating the reverse.   Meanwhile, the republicans continue to demand unilateral entitlement cuts from the democrats (which the democrats are will to provide, by the way, in a deal that shares the burden evenly).

Thus it must have been somewhat embarrassing for the congressional republicans when these two dozen millionaires showed up to demand that income taxes on the very rich be raised.  If these millionaire folks, who logically are more knowledgeable about job creation and the economic impact of paying more taxes than the GOP congressionals, are openly advocating for higher taxes for themselves and other millionaires, then what, exactly, are the republicans really trying to defend by refusing to do so?

The answer to that question is multifaceted and not so simple.  For three decades republicans were against raising taxes, notably represented by then-presidential candidate George H. W. Bush said in 1988 “Read my lips:  no new taxes!”, which followed then-President Ronald Reagan’s declaration that he would veto any tax-increasing bill to reach his desk by stating “Go ahead;  make my day!” in 1985.  Yet, both of these republican presidents realized that sometimes taxes must be raised for the good of the nation;  Reagan raised taxes 19 times as president, and Bush did so as well in 1990.

Recently, however, three newer factors came into play:

First, GW Bush gave the very rich not just one, but two massive taxes cuts while fighting two unfunded wars and increasing a policy of deregulation of the financial industry which ultimately ushered in the sub-prime mortgage debacle and subsequent great recession.

Second, the tea party movement rose in strength and media attention, and repeatedly screamed that the big problem in America is that the US government is too big (real message:  we don’t want to pay taxes).

Third, a comedian-turned-self-appointed-economic-know-it-all ultra-conservative named Grover Norquist somehow managed to scare the hell out of almost every republican in congress and get each of them to sign a “no new taxes” pledge.

These factors are hugely responsible for the vast majority of economic problems the nation is facing today.  And what’s absolutely unacceptable is that the party that helped cause the the economic fiasco we’re in now refuses to bite the bullet to necessarily raise tax revenue to help pay the bill, in conjunction with the democrats’ willingness to help reduce government spending by seriously addressing entitlements.

So if the GOP ignores the millionaires’ plea to help save America and instead keeps its pledge to Norquist the Fearful ex-comedian, will the American people blame the republicans or the democrats when the automatic cuts take effect in 2013?

The smart money says they’ll blame everyone but the guilty.




A REALLY Bad Week For Tea-baggers :)

Rarely but very so often the stars align, the rogue gravity waves cancel each other out, and the ducks all line up in a row.  When these things all occur (or so it seems), special things can happen .

Such a rare and special moment occurred yesterday,Tuesday, November 8, 2011, the day of some special state and local elections in the USA).

First and perhaps most significant was the Tea Party’s and ultra-extremist-religious-right-fundamentalists effort to amend the state constitution of Mississippi (the poorest state in the USA) to bestow full citizenship rights on a fertilized human egg (a zygote) from the moment of fertilization.  It FAILED by a 60-40 margin!  Had it passed, it would have, among other horrors, set up the opportunity to overturn the landmark 1973 supreme court decision in the Roe vs. Wade case which legalized abortion in the USA.

Second was a Ohio state referendum to accept or reject a law passed by the GOP-controlled Ohio legislature and signed into law by republican governor John Kasich, which severely limited state employees’ rights to collective bargaining and negotiations.  The referendum FAILED by a similar 60-40 margin.  Evidently voters weren’t willing to throw middle-class public employees under the bus the way the ultra-conservatives would have liked to.

Third was the recall vote of Arizona conservative republican state senator Russell Pearce, the author of Arizona’s first-in-the-nation discriminatory, profiling, anti-minority show-me-your-papers anti-immigration law, which had already gone into effect but has been ruled illegal by the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals.  Pearce only managed to win 45.3% for the vote against 53.4% for his opponent.  Another tea-bagger bites the dust!

And finally, the frosty-white icing on this wonderful gift-cake was ultra-conservative, Tea-Party-favored, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain. Last week he was dogged by unspecified allegations of sexual harassment of two unidentified women.  Seemingly as innocent as the driven snow, Cain blamed everyone but himself.

But THIS week, no less than four women made allegations of sexual harassment against him, with two of them identified and one of them (so far) graphically explicit and detailed about the event that impacted her.  The other identified woman, who has not yet released details, has stated that the harassment occurred on several occasions.

Ol’ Herman himself, after first accusing the Rick Perry campaign of a smear effort, then the the mainstream media for the problem, told the mainstream media this past weekend that he was done with the issue.

But yesterday he held a press conference on national television to declare how innocent and lilly-white-squeeky-clean he is in all of this.  He again blamed the mainstream media, but also accused the “democratic machine” (whatever THAT is) for his troubles.  He did the true tea-bagger thing – blame the victim – when he called the woman who provided the detailed account a “troubled”.

Even republican pundits who heard his press statement and answers to questions by the press couldn’t easily defend him.

Cain’s statements during his press conference were reminiscent of the story of the man standing against a street lamp-post, a knife in his hand and a dead body with seventeen knife wounds at his feet, telling the police that he had just been leaning up against the lamp-post minding his own business when this man came out of nowhere and accidentally ran into his knife….seventeen times.

All of this seem to indicate that at least some of the American electorate is finally waking up to the bullshit snake oil that the conservative tea-baggers and even mainstream GOP presidential candidates have been trying to sell since the GOP took over the US House of Representatives in the 2010 elections.  The conservatives settled into doing what they have consistently done since GW Bush stole the 2000 election from Al Gore – they over-stepped their new-found political power and grossly and arrogantly overplayed their hand.  And they’ve once again managed to piss off John and Jane Q. Public, if yesterday’s voting results are any indicator.

It seems clear that the issues the conservatives have been pushing, including protecting the super-wealthy at the expense of the middle class while doing nothing to help create jobs for that same middle class, are opening the eyes of the public for the first time in months and months.

The Occupy Wall Street efforts have clearly had their effect on John and Jane Q. Public as well.  Even the all-powerful Bank of America has been forced to wake up, smell the acid in the coffee..and reluctantly cancel their previously-scheduled monthly $5 ATM usage fee.

This is the pattern the GOP fell into during the GW Bush era that got them UN-elected in 2006 and 2008.  They forgot (as did the democrats approaching 2010) that if they piss off the voters, the voters will fire them.

Voters only remember two years into the past…a lesson that politicians should never forget.  For now, though…

ENJOY!!!   🙂

Put a Fork in Cain; He’s Done

The mainstream republican party leadership (if there is even such a thing still in existence) must be thanking their lucky stars that Herman Cain is mishandling the sexual harassment charges against himself so poorly.  Surely, they must have been extremely apprehensive over the possibly that Herman Cain could possibly win the GOP nomination for president.

They realized that such an eventually would have absolutely guaranteed that Barack Obama would win re-election in a cake walk.  And before anyone assumes that this is sort of racist, know that it is entirely about race.

The reasons and methodology for this are crystal clear.  Barack Obama is considered by most people to be an African American, just as Herman Cain is, even though Obama is biologically half African-American (black)and half Caucasian (white), while Cain seems to be fully African-American.  And based upon the 2008 election results, it is fair to conclude that most democrats and perhaps most independents are “color-blind” when it come to politics and elections (and good for them for being so).

However, the same cannot with any credibility or reality be presumed regarding republicans, who run the entire gamut from moderate or perhaps somewhat fiscally and/or socially and/or liberterianistically conservative, to lunatic-fringe ultra-extreme-religious-right fascist-oriented-white-supremacists-gay& lesbian & non-White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant (WASP) hating bizarros.

There is no known reliable survey of the number or proportion of republicans who would not vote for a black person for president, but via anecdotal data observed at tea party rallies as well as comments recorded after the election of Barack Obama in 2008, it is clear that racism in the USA is still alive, albeit not as overt as it was 40 years ago.  However, since a significant part of the GOP identifies itself as evangelical Christians (many of whom are also fundamentalists), and since it is clear that it has been the democrats, not the republicans, who have supported and passed affirmative action legislation and other pro-minority programs over the years, one can conclude that there is far more racism on the right than on the left.

What it all means is this:

Given the choice between a black republican and a black democrat, most democrats would vote for the black democrat.  But a significant number of republicans would simply stay home, unable to support Herman Cain because of his race.  Of course, they will also NEVER vote for Obama who is both black AND a democrat/socialist/communist/Kenyan.  Despite Cain’s recent rise in the polls, the enthusiasm of rank and file republicans probably would have been flaccid at best on election day had he faced Obama.  More than likely, the extreme right of the party would have stayed home, diluting the republican vote to the point that even right-leaning independent voters wouldn’t have been enough to rescue the election for the GOP.  Obama would win his second term (which he probably will anyway, considering the probable GOP nominee), but it would have been significantly more lop-sided than it probably will.

In the meantime, Mitt Romney, who at this juncture appears to be the favorite to be nominated, must be thanking his lucky stars for this diversion from his image as the ultimate flip-flopper.  And Rich Perry must be looking at this and thinking that he just might still be in the race.

The rest of the GOP field, while clearly (albeit quietly) happy that one of their competitors is about to be eaten alive by cannibals, has been strangely silent since this story broke all over the press like a pregnant whale about to calf.  In fact, one of their members, Michele Bachmann, has been uncharacteristically invisible for the past week or so.  It’s almost as though she withdrew from the race.

And that’s a shame.  Because if there is one GOP candidate that is worth his or her weight in comical relief, it’s Michele.  No other GOP candidate gets facts more mixed up than Michele, and no other candidate is more fun to fact-check at politifact. or fact-check.  But she’s been incognito, evidently content to allow Herman Cain to bask in the heat of public scrutiny over his behavior with women co-workers in the 1990’s.

You really can’t blame Michele for enjoying the criticism-free break.  After all, it’s never happened before.

And you really can’t blame Herman Cain for his neophyte and cavalier attitude toward the press as he refused to answer their questions today, asking them “What part of no do you not understand?” in response to their requests for answers to their questions about the sexual harassment allegations.

After all, who knew that he would be up so high in the polls of republican candidates (at least before the sexual harassment story plays out)?

Certainly not Herman Cain.  Or the mainstream GOP leadership.

New Proposed GOP election Motto:  “A vote for us is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get!”  (with apologies to Forrest Gump 🙂  )