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    • The Beginning of an End of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance
      Ian described the proposed EU sanctions on Russia as “not shabby”, but while they are somewhat more serious sanctions than heretofore it’s only somewhat. The most serious ones are the ones on Russia’s financial institutions. Yes it’ll raise costs but will hurt London and Frankfurt including reputationally. It will also have the effect of encouraging [...] […]
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Religious Narcissists and Ruth Bader-Ginsburg’s 8 best lines in her dissent

The religious narcissists think they have won this round but I guarantee you that this is only temporary.  Supreme Court justices die eventually.

When I talk about religious narcissists, I am referring to people who derive their self-worth and sense of superiority from their faith.  In this country, we have official separation of church and state but we worship those who worship.  Because we have a habit of deferring to the faithful, respectfully allowing them to propound on morality without interruption, religion has become another refuge for scoundrels.  Before you faithful go off on a hissy fit, allow me to clarify.  The Hobby Lobby case that was decided today does not reflect the views of all people of faith.  It reflects the views of a very narrow set of fundamentalist religious adherents whose voices have been magnified.

Let me explain why people who score high on the narcissism scale use religion to hide and how even more powerful narcissists use them to advance their goals.  To recap the characteristics of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, here they are:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance (may be shown as an exaggeration of abilities and talents, expectation that he or she will be seen as superior to all others).
  • Is obsessed with him- or herself.
  • Goals are almost always selfish and self-motivated.
  • Has troubles with healthy, normal relationships.
  • Becomes furious if criticized.
  • Has fantasies of unbound success, power, intelligence, love, and beauty.
  • Believes that he or she is unique and special, and therefore should only hang out with other special, high-status people.
  • Requires extreme admiration for everything.
  • Feels entitled – has unreasonable expectations of special treatment.
  • Takes advantage of others to further his or her own needs.
  • Has zero empathy – cannot (or will not) recognize the feelings of others.
  • May be envious of others or believe that others are envious of him or her.
  • Behaves arrogantly, haughtily.

- See more at: http://www.bandbacktogether.com/adult-children-of-Narcissistic-parents-resources/#sthash.HtiA1zJT.xqpRZ0p8.dpuf

If you can’t see how certain fundamentalist religions give the religious narcissist status, you haven’t been paying attention to Anita Bryant, Jerry Falwell, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Pat Robertson and the plethora of mega church pastors and their fan base over the past several decades.

We can argue about what triggered the events that lead to so many people to join fundamentalist religions in the 70’s and 80’s.  I think Reagan had a lot to do with it.  There was a whole swath of people in the late 70’s who were left out of the social revolutions of the mid-20th century.  They just missed the cutoff to join modernity.  There are a lot of Betty Drapers out there who were conditioned to accept the limited roles for women that the 50’s relegated them to and a lot of men who started to feel economic pressure and competition from younger women and african americans entering the workforce.  Conservatives tapped into that confusion and anger by aligning themselves with the religious right.

I went to an open house type of event sponsored by my brother’s church once and I was at once struck by the amplified emotions.  There was a band where the participants became instant rock stars, lots of heart wrenching images flashed on huge projector screens and little children were being led to small above ground pools where they were baptized.  It was unnerving.  There was too much noise, too much music in just the right major chord progressions, too much stimulation, too much MUCH.  The whole effect was like highjacking the sympathetic nervous system, to make the heart beat in time and stimulate the lacrymal ducts.  I couldn’t take it.  I felt coerced.

But that’s just me.

I walk around with type 4 deflector shields deployed because I know that a religious narcissist does not respect boundaries.  It’s part of what makes them so successful.  They feel entitled to intrude on your privacy, your morality, your belief system.  In our culture, we Americans give the religious permission to do this because we do not feel it is polite to tell them to stop.  If you do tell them to stop, you must be persistent and forceful.  You must be so persistent and forceful that they take offense. And since they call foul so often and our culture reinforces their superior moral status, they usually get away with what they’re up to.  In this manner, the plutocracy is able to use them as an engine to promote their economic agenda by coupling it with social conservatism.  I’m sure I am not revealing anything new to readers here.

The introduction of faith based initiatives has exacerbated the problem.  Now, the executive branch has the ability to give money without accountability to churches who have the power to shape their congregations’ political views.  The Republicans made the churches flush in the Bush administration but, curiously, the Obama administration has done little to dismantle the program.

So, now we have religious institutions crowded with people who do not respect boundaries and feeling their cheerios and unwittingly serving Mammon.

Today, the religious narcissists got another shot of narcissistic supply.  They are sitting high and straight and “puffed up”.  This won’t be the last time they get their hit as long as this Supreme Court is composed by these members.  Note that the three women justices are all on the losing end of each ruling.  It should be clear now that the government is being conscripted to dismantle any autonomy that women have.  If they can be forced to pay additionally for their reproductive protection, there’s really no limit what can be forced on women in the name of religion.  Why are they working outside the home at all?  Do they really need as much money as a man?  Men support families.  Women also support families but only bad women support families on their own.  Men have authority, therefore, they should be bosses.  Women aren’t supposed to speak in congregation according to Paul.  If my corporation is “closely held” and religious, isn’t that like a congregation?  Can’t this congregation make rules to suit it without the interference of the government?

It’s coming.

But, like I said earlier, it’s not all religions that behave this way.  The mainstream protestant churches, especially those who ordain women, don’t seem to behave this way.  I hope we hear from them soon. It’s only the fundamentalist sects and fringe elements that attract a disproportionate number of narcissists that we need to worry about.  Nevertheless, it’s time we start to take on the religion industry in this country and one of the first places to start is by making a big stink over the faith based initiatives.  There’s no reason we need to give the religious narcissists more power with tax payer money.  I don’t care who is in the White House.  Find another, more ethical way to win elections.

We, on the other hand, must learn to identify the narcissist in religious clothing and make them feel unwanted and unpopular even at the risk of incurring their wrath.  And, yes, they will get very, very angry.  But better an angry genie in a bottle than a content one on the loose wrecking havoc.

Deploy your shields.

In the meantime, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg writes that the court has “ventured into a minefield” with this ruling.  Among her best lines from her dissent are:

“Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”

and

“It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”

Read the rest here.

The Chicken or the Ovary

Take a look at this startling graphic from a recent article at the NYTimes on the brick wall that equality for women has hit in the US.  This graphic represents official policies around the world for paid maternity leave:

I can’t believe this is accurate.  In my mind, there is absolutely no way in Hell we could lag behind Afghanistan.  It makes me want to move to Canada.

But even if Afghanistan is not as progressive as this graphic purports, it is absolutely true that we lag behind the most developed countries of the world and those which have the highest standard of living.  There have been other studies that show that the greater the number of female elected representatives in a country, the higher standard of living.

What Stephanie Coontz, the author of the article, does not explain is how things got to be so bad here in the US.  Why did the progress towards gender equality stall here in the US as this graphic shows?  What factors caused it to hit a brick wall in the US but not in Britain or France or Canada?  If I reach back into my memory banks to when progress stalled, I think the problem started right around the time I was in college in the 1980s.  Those were the Reagan years.  That’s when Anita Bryant was touting the virtues of orange juice and the vices of homosexuality and Phyllis Schlafly hit her stride.  It was also a period of intensification of the Cold War and the rise of the religious right.

I think there is something else going on here that has allowed the forces of reactionary conservatism dig its talons into American society to the point of imperiling it permanently.  I think it is the mythology that we grew up with that we’re number one.  That attitude that we’re free and have liberty in greater degree than other countries might just be an artifact of the case that we have enough power in our nuclear arsenal to blow the rest of the world to smithereens.  We’re “free” because no one dares mess with us.  Of course, that is only one possible interpretation of the word “freedom”.

But if our concept of freedom derives from our military strength, then is it any surprise that the genders are unequal in this society?  And now that women are allowed in combat, will gender equality improve?  After all, up until this year, women were precluded from being equal participants *officially* in activities that have been highly prized in our country since the cold war.  If we are a military society, is full participation the only route to equality in the US until it is achieved?

And what about the role of international billionaires, the James Bond villains that have now taken over the world? Do they see gender inequality as a means to breaking labor protections and bringing workers to their knees?  Will we see an uptick in gender related issues in places like Spain, Ireland and Greece or were the seeds of their current economic problems already present because of endemic gender inequality compared to their neighbors?

Just curious.  Other perspectives welcome.

One other thing that this graphic says to me is that as far as the US workforce is concerned, we are already at the bottom of the pile when it comes to labor protections.  There really isn’t any barrier to employers ripping the economic floor out from under us and they’ve done just that in the past decade or so.  That’s because women now make up a good proportion of the workforce and our wages are lower, our employment protections are there in theory but not in practice and paid maternity leave is just an illusion.  If you’ve got it from your employer, know that it’s a gift to you, not your right.  It’s probably calculated based on how much vacation and sick time you have, if you get any at all.  You come back to work exhausted and impoverished from spending your money on daycare.  And in this employment climate, you may not come back to a job at all.  What were you thinking by getting pregnant when there is so much to do and a zillion people waiting for your job?  If you can afford a kid, you can afford to stay home and give some other breadwinner your job.  Right?

The only solace there is to this workplace environment is the knowledge that it can’t last.  The MBAs and business majors are evolving the workplace so rapidly to optimize as much efficiency out of each worker that it’s getting to be impossible to get any work done at all.  We see this in the banking industry and the pharma industry most significantly.  Change for change sake is not necessarily a good way to do business.  There are limits and we are reaching ours.

The 30 Percent Solution: Why Democratic Women Are Voting for McCain/Palin

You Said It, Sister!
You Said It, Sister!

When I read Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s book, “Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated,” I felt as if I had been sleep-walking through the past twenty years of my life. (I hope that soon I will have the long-promised interview with the Congresswoman for your reading pleasure, but she is obviously quite busy on her book tour!) Through a devastating, methodical collection of facts and figures, the Congresswoman builds an airtight case for her premise: American women have NOT come a long way, baby.

Sexual harrassment suits are still routinely filed at places that are designated by female-led organizations as woman-friendly. Women still make 77% less money than men for doing the same job. Although many other countries, including the not-so-forward-thinking Pakistan and India, have had female heads of state, we Americans are still not quite able to bring ourselves to elect a female president, although many qualified women have tried and failed. Our business community has little to no support for women who want to participate in the workforce; no places for breastfeeding, no help for those who need daycare, and maternity leave for most is a thing of the past, having been replaced by “disability pay” – as if having a child were a disability! And as for a woman’s right to control her own body, although 6 years of Republican control over Congress, the Executive Branch and the Supreme Court has not led to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, certain factions within the Republican Party never seem to stop trying to chip away at reproductive choice. Just recently, HHS Secretary Leavitt put forth a proposal erroneously declaring some forms of birth control as abortifacients, thus opening the door to more “conscientious refusals” by anti-choice health professionals to prescribe them. Finally, the ERA has been dead in the water since it failed to pass in the 1970’s, the last time that a demonstrated, concentrated push for womens’ rights occurred.

Maloney’s excellent book offers practical, real-world solutions for many of these problems; among them, lobbying for specific legislation and networking with women in business to get more females into the top slots in Fortune 500 companies. But when all is said and done, the overwhelming thing we all must do is to elect more women to local, state and federal government. Why? Because of the 30% Solution.

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