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    • Rationality Is A Process, Not A Conclusion (Nuclear Weapons Edition)
      A lot of mistakes come from assuming rationality means “thinks the same way I do” rather than “reasons from premises I might not share.” Left than 1/1000 economists predicted the financial collapse, because they reasoned from assumptions like “the market is self-correcting” or “housing prices never go down.” (Sometimes both at the same time, which is rarely […]
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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.

Random things that concern me greatly

I think I made a mistake with the paint I picked for my bedroom.  The color is Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams.  It’s a light gray-green-blue.  I bought a quart to test and loved the way it looked on the white background but now that is is enveloping me (the ceiling wraps around the room in that way only 1950’s style houses can do) it feels too dark.  I’d say the color in this room gives it the style called Early Depression without the glam of Rogers and Astaire. The thought of getting the paint store to remix and then to repaint does not make me happy.

Another thing that does not make me happy: The president spending valuable time on a concussion summit or something that really should be delegated to his Surgeon General.  There are long term unemployed people out here who can’t get full time jobs.  Helllllooooo??  I’m glad I’m not watching TV news because the thought of seeing the most powerful person on earth distracted by concussions instead of exploring why many of us can’t get through HR filters would make my blood boil.

And then there is the faith based initiative thing that Bush II started but which Obama has failed to end.  It takes an atheist* to figure out why the White House has failed to eliminate this office.  But the rest of us can figure out what kind of long time repercussions society will experience when the seeds of bronze age mentality are generously fertilized with taxpayer money.   Here’s a video of Amanda Knief, legal counsel for American Atheists, spelling out why the Faith Based Initiative needs to be eradicated.  (Hint: it has very little to do with religion)

 

 

If only there was a way to more generously fund the VA without having to generate new revenue.  If only there was a pool of money that was not properly accounted for that could be put to use for the VA hospitals…

Finally, Brook is graduating!  OMG, I can barely believe it.  The last 18 months have been a Herculean struggle.  I didn’t think I was going to make it.  Commencement is next week and in spite of the health problems and time out of class, the kid managed to score some serious honor cords and medals for accomplishments in language.  She’s taking a gap year.  Well, we all deserve a gap year at this point.

 

*I’m not an atheist.  I just don’t believe in supernatural beings.  Er, or something.

 

 

 

Health Care Reform: Women Will Walk

I’ve been trying to keep a low profile on the health care reform bill.  For the record, I am not in the “kill the bill” camp.  I’m in the “fix it now, not later” camp.  I follow my old inorganic chemistry prof’s admonition, “If you don’t have the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?”  Make no mistake, if the bill that gets voted on today isn’t the right one, it will not be changed for a very long time – if ever.  And what we have right now is a bill that locks the vast majority of us into contracts with  insurance companies that are hoping to add a lot of new hostages customers to its profit making business.

As a woman of Obama’s age cohort, divorced, with a respectable but unremarkable income, and with a teenage girl as a dependent who isn’t covered by any other health insurance policy other than the one I receive from my employer, I am particularly ticked at this bill in its presently unfixed state.  I’ll only qualify for an exemption from the excise tax if I’m a family of four and my health care policy is $23000.  Along with feathering my 401K so that the predators of Wall Street can fritter it away in emerging markets, paying for my mortgage and ridiculously high property taxes AND paying the single rate on my income taxes, when exactly am I supposed to save for college for the adolescent?  Would it be OK for the idiots in Congress if I kept some of the money they are planning to charge me for my health insurance coverage so that she doesn’t get saddled with a lifetime of student loan debt?

I’m actually for the mandate, believe it or not.  I think everyone *should* be required to carry health insurance.  But I have caveats.  The insurance has to be affordable, it should be subject to free market forces that encourage competition, like choice and antitrust regulations, and anyone not satisfied with their current carrier should be able to shop around.  If that was what we were getting, I’d gladly pay the tax.  But that’s not what we’re getting.

But the thing that really ticks me off is that American women are about to lose their freedom to worship (or not) as they choose.  To me, one of the most egregious things in this bill is the way that women are treated.  When we are considered at all, our reproductive health seems to be in a special category, one where a bunch of old guys in red beanies and pointy hats, have the final say as to what is or isn’t acceptable.  If the Senate bill passes, it will perfectly acceptable to force women to identify themselves as considering abortion as a healthcare option when they sign up for insurance.  It’s to shame them.  No, no, don’t try to sugar coat this.  That is the intention.  To keep abortion as a shameful procedure.

I can just hear the anti-choice crowd now.  “Why should we pay for something that’s going to offend our consciences?”  Jeez, I dunno.  Why do I have to pay for faith based initiatives?  How about we pass a separate bill that requires all of the religious people out there to write separate checks to cover church based charities that discriminate against the gay community or actively practice discrimination in their church hierarchy?  That kind of crap really frosts my crockies and offends my conscience down to the quick but I still have to pay for it.  There is no little box on the tax return form that says, “Would you like to make a donation to faith based initiatives?  Or war in Iraq?  Or TARP?” No, all of the stupid laws and bills and war resolutions that have passed in the past decade because it was possible to fool enough of the people most of the time have cost me and my cohort and we have had very little choice in the matter.  A Republican dictator president wielded his veto pen like it was a baton and threatened to use it with relish. We just had to go along with it.

But not anymore.

This is a Congress that we elected and it is a president that the deluded foisted upon the rest of us.  We expected them to be different from their immediate predecessors.  Well, we expected some congress members to be different.  The Confluence never expected anything different from Obama but we thought he could be prevailed upon to not veto what Congress passed.  And this Congress is overwhelmingly Democratic.  These are the very same Democrats who scared the deluded into voting for Obama in 2008 because they convinced young women of child bearing age that only he and they could protect the reproductive rights of women.

They made that promise and we will hold them to it.

That is not to say that protecting reproductive rights is anything like guaranteeing equality under the law.  No.  It is not the same.  Young women should not kid themselves into thinking that Roe v. Wade means you’re equal.  Gender equity was not something Democrats promised in 2008.  But they did promise to protect reproductive rights on nearly every blog the Obama trolls invaded.  Isn’t that what the Democrats promised?  Or is it what we *thought* they promised?  What if they didn’t promise anything?  What if all they really did was turn up to 11 the fear of Sarah Palin and her anti-choice crusaders?  What if they had no intention of protecting your rights?

People will say and do anything when they want power.  Power, in my humble opinion, is more important than money.  People accumulate money so they can buy power.  Democrats want power.  They have no idea how to use it when they get it but that’s what they want.  Voters also have power.  Women voters have a lot of power.  And it doesn’t take many of us to throw some cowardly Democrats out of power.  With so many voters hypnotized by Glenn Beck and Fox News, this is not a good time to be pissing off women.

Maybe they didn’t promise us gender equity, but they made enough noise about reproductive rights that women who voted for Democratic Congress members will be righteously indignant if those rights are not preserved and reproductive choice and care is not covered fully in the health care reform bill at a price that does not discriminate against women.  A Congress person who holds firm in their unwavering support for women will get our unwavering support in return.  But the Democratic party as a whole should tread very carefully in this area because if they don’t do health care reform right the first time, women will walk. The Democrats premised their whole party identity on protecting the rights of women.  If they don’t do that, they have no credibilty.  If they don’t stick up for women and working class people in general, their identity as a party is meaningless.

We will turn our backs on the Democrats and walk away.  And as for your power?

Pffftt!