Why are the poor blamed and shamed for their deaths?

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/mar/31/why-poor-blamed-shamed-their-deaths-barbara-ehrenreich

When someone dies, she often suffers a brutal moral autopsy, says Barbara Ehrenreich. Did she smoke? Drink excessively? Eat too much fat


Sat 31 Mar 2018

I watched in dismay as most of my educated, middle-class friends began, at the onset of middle age, to obsess about their health and likely longevity. Even those who were at one point determined to change the world refocused on changing their bodies. They undertook exercise or yoga regimens; they filled their calendars with medical tests and exams; they boasted about their “good” and “bad” cholesterol counts, their heart rates and blood pressure.

Mostly they understood the task of ageing to be self-denial, especially in the realm of diet, where one medical fad, one study or another, condemned fat and meat, carbs, gluten, dairy or all animal-derived products. In the health-conscious mindset that has prevailed among the world’s affluent people for about four decades now, health is indistinguishable from virtue, tasty foods are “sinfully delicious”, while healthful foods may taste good enough to be advertised as “guilt-free”. Those seeking to compensate for a lapse undertake punitive measures such as hours-long cardio sessions, fasts, purges or diets composed of different juices carefully sequenced throughout the day.

Of course I want to be healthy, too; I just don’t want to make the pursuit of health into a major life project. I eat well, meaning I choose foods that taste good and will stave off hunger for as long as possible, such as protein, fibre and fats. But I refuse to overthink the potential hazards of blue cheese on my salad or pepperoni on my pizza. I also exercise – not because it will make me live longer but because it feels good when I do. As for medical care, I will seek help for an urgent problem, but I am no longer interested in undergoing tests to uncover problems that remain undetectable to me. When friends berate me for my laxity, my heavy use of butter or habit of puffing (but not inhaling) on cigarettes, I gently remind them that I am, in most cases, older than they are.

So it was with a measure of schadenfreude that I began to record the cases of individuals whose healthy lifestyles failed to produce lasting health. It turns out that many of the people who got caught up in the health “craze” of the last few decades – people who exercised, watched what they ate, abstained from smoking and heavy drinking – have nevertheless died. Lucille Roberts, owner of a chain of women’s gyms, died incongruously from lung cancer at the age of 59, although she was a “self-described exercise nut” who, the New York Times reported, “wouldn’t touch a French fry, much less smoke a cigarette”. Jerry Rubin, who devoted his later years to trying every supposedly health-promoting diet fad, therapy and meditation system he could find, jaywalked into Wilshire Boulevard at the age of 56 and died of his injuries two weeks later.

Some of these deaths were genuinely shocking. Jim Fixx, author of the bestselling The Complete Book Of Running, believed he could outwit the cardiac problems that had carried his father off to an early death by running at least 10 miles a day and restricting himself to a diet of pasta, salads and fruit. But he was found dead on the side of a Vermont road in 1984, aged only 52.

Even more disturbing was the untimely demise of John H Knowles, director of the Rockefeller Foundation and promulgator of the “doctrine of personal responsibility” for one’s health. Most illnesses are self-inflicted, he argued – the result of “gluttony, alcoholic intemperance, reckless driving, sexual frenzy, smoking” and other bad choices. The “idea of a ‘right’ to health,” he wrote, “should be replaced by the idea of an individual moral obligation to preserve one’s own health.” But he died of pancreatic cancer at 52, prompting one physician commentator to observe, “Clearly we can’t all be held responsible for our health.”

Still, we persist in subjecting anyone who dies at a seemingly untimely age to a kind of bio-moral autopsy: did she smoke? Drink excessively? Eat too much fat and not enough fibre? Can she, in other words, be blamed for her own death? When David Bowie and Alan Rickman both died in early 2016 of what major US newspapers described only as “cancer”, some readers complained that it is the responsibility of obituaries to reveal what kind of cancer. Ostensibly, this information would help promote “awareness” of the particular cancers involved, as Betty Ford’s openness about her breast cancer diagnosis helped to destigmatise that disease. It would also, of course, prompt judgments about the victim’s “lifestyle”. Would Bowie have died – at the quite respectable age of 69 – if he hadn’t been a smoker?

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ 2011 death from pancreatic cancer continues to spark debate. He was a food faddist, eating only raw vegan foods, especially fruit, and refusing to deviate from that plan even when doctors recommended a high protein and fat diet to help compensate for his failing pancreas. His office refrigerator was filled with Odwalla juices; he antagonised non-vegan associates by attempting to proselytise among them, as biographer Walter Isaacson has reported: at a meal with Mitch Kapor, the chairman of Lotus software, Jobs was horrified to see Kapor slathering butter on his bread, and asked, “Have you ever heard of serum cholesterol?” Kapor responded, “I’ll make you a deal. You stay away from commenting on my dietary habits, and I will stay away from the subject of your personality.”

Defenders of veganism argue that his cancer could be attributed to his occasional forays into protein-eating (a meal of eel sushi has been reported) or to exposure to toxic metals as a young man tinkering with computers. But a case could be made that it was the fruitarian diet that killed him: metabolically, a diet of fruit is equivalent to a diet of candy, only with fructose instead of glucose, with the effect that the pancreas is strained to constantly produce more insulin. As for the personality issues – the almost manic-depressive mood swings – they could be traced to frequent bouts of hypoglycemia. Incidentally, 67-year-old Mitch Kapor is alive and well at the time of this writing.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/mar/31/why-poor-blamed-shamed-their-deaths-barbara-ehrenreich

‘Feminists’ Who Exclude Trans Women Aren’t Feminists At All

From Huffington Post:  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-tannehill-terfs-right-wing_us_5b44eeeae4b0c523e2637878

By Brynn Tannehill
07/10/2018

London Pride, like Pride celebrations all over the world, is supposed to be about the LGBTQ community coming together to celebrate the ability to be themselves and to openly proclaim who they love. But this weekend the message ended up hijacked by a small group of self-proclaimed lesbian “feminists” who jumped out in front of the parade displaying anti-transgender banners and posters and handing out fliers with transphobic propaganda.

They were booed by the crowd. But because they were in front of the official start of the parade, police did nothing and the group was allowed to walk the entire route. Afterward, London Pride condemned them and their message, saying: “The protest group showed a level of bigotry, ignorance and hate that is unacceptable. We reject what this group stands for. They do not share our values, which are about inclusion and respect and support for the most marginalised parts of our community.”

The people responsible come from a movement whose members sometimes call themselves gender critical feminists, or radical feminists. Most people know them as trans-exclusionary radical feminists, or TERFs, a name they originally created for themselves but now reject.

The problem with having the word “feminist” in any of these descriptors is that these individuals and groups are not feminist by any normal definition. Even if you leave aside their positions on transgender people and look at their positions on women’s issues in general, they are extremely retrograde. And while TERFs might have started out as a tiny group of fading second-wave feminists who never quite got over the fact that women can be both heterosexual and feminist, the movement is now essentially a bought-and-paid-for tool of ultra-conservative religious groups in the U.S. opposed to everything that feminism normally stands for.

TERF thought leaders who are widely accepted as representatives of their movement have taken horrifying positions on issues such as rape and bodily autonomy. Germaine Greer, author of The Female Eunuch, was recently brought on a much-publicized panel debate on TV in the U.K. as an opponent of transgender rights. She has also made chilling statements about rape.

Greer has said that rape isn’t that bad, describing it as “something that leaves no sign, no injury, nothing.” In the same interview, she said the penalty for rape should be reduced to “200 hours of community service.” Greer pooh-poohed the Me Too movement, saying, “If you spread your legs because he said ‘Be nice to me and I’ll give you a job in a movie,’ then I’m afraid that’s tantamount to consent, and it’s too late now to start whingeing about that.”

Similarly, Venice Allan, aka @DrRadFem on Twitter, has railed against abortion and birth control being available to women, proclaiming, “Ah… a man arrives to tell us that the only decent feminism we should campaign about is to make careless sex easier for him.” Allan was previously part of the Labour Party’s Women’s Network. After confronting a trans woman at an event by the organization, she was unrepentant for her actions, and subsequently posted anti-transgender memes. As a result, her membership in the Labour Party was suspended.

This sentiment that birth control is just a way of enabling consequence-free sex echoes the position of U.S. conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who popularized the term “feminazi” to describe feminists. In 2012 Limbaugh infamously took the position that women who use birth control are “sluts.”

If it seems like these individuals are drawing from the right-wing playbook and its messaging, it is because they are. There is in fact a very good reason why the anti-transgender messaging in the pamphlets being handed out by the protesters at London Pride was virtually indistinguishable from the anti-transgender messaging in right-wing publications like The Federalist.

There is a deliberate strategy to co-opt or displace mainstream feminists in order to divide, conquer and destroy the LGBTQ community. Meg Kilgannon described it at the Family Research Council’s Values Voters summit in 2017:

For all of its recent success, the LGBT alliance is actually fragile, and the trans activists need the gay rights movement to help legitimize them. Gender identity on its own is just a bridge too far. If you separate the T from the alphabet soup, we’ll have more success.

Her solution: Wrap transphobic rhetoric in the language of secular feminism, claiming that gender identity is a concept offensive to women.

This isn’t an idle threat. There is ample evidence that it is being put into action. The Heritage Foundation hosted a panel last year consisting of a mix of “old-school” TERFs and new, religiously motivated ones (such as Kaley Triller Haver) who downplayed the role of religion in their hostility toward trans people.

Continue reading at:   https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-tannehill-terfs-right-wing_us_5b44eeeae4b0c523e2637878

Trump Is a Child Molester and the People Working For Him Should Be Tried For Crimes against Humanity

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“I’m Putting together a special team”

My parents generation knew how to treat Nazi Scum.

My name is Lt. Aldo Raine and I’m putting together a special team, and I need me eight soldiers. Eight Jewish-American soldiers. Now, y’all might’ve heard rumors about the armada happening soon. Well, we’ll be leaving a little earlier. We’re gonna be dropped into France, dressed as civilians. And once we’re in enemy territory, as a bushwhackin’ guerrilla army, we’re gonna be doin’ one thing and one thing only… killin’ Nazis. Now, I don’t know about y’all, but I sure as hell didn’t come down from the goddamn Smoky Mountains, cross five thousand miles of water, fight my way through half of Sicily and jump out of a fuckin’ air-o-plane to teach the Nazis lessons in humanity. Nazi ain’t got no humanity. They’re the foot soldiers of a Jew-hatin’, mass murderin’ maniac and they need to be dee-stroyed. That’s why any and every son of a bitch we find wearin’ a Nazi uniform, they’re gonna die. Now, I’m the direct descendant of the mountain man Jim Bridger. That means I got a little Injun in me. And our battle plan will be that of an Apache resistance. We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. And they will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us. And the German won’t not be able to help themselves but to imagine the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, and our boot heels, and the edge of our knives. And the German will be sickened by us, and the German will talk about us, and the German will fear us. And when the German closes their eyes at night and they’re tortured by their subconscious for the evil they have done, it will be with thoughts of us they are tortured with. Sound good?

YES, SIR!

That’s what I like to hear. But I got a word of warning for all you would-be warriors. When you join my command, you take on debit. A debit you owe me personally. Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps. And all y’all will git me one hundred Nazi scalps, taken from the heads of one hundred dead Nazis. Or you will die tryin’.

Where are the Lyudmila Pavlichenkos of the world?  I never thought I would see the day when Nazism would once again rear its ugly evil head.  It needs to be dealt with the same way we did last time.  By crushing it and removing those who dream of resurrecting it.

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Pride Season

Long ago, a half century and more ago I learned I had to be true to myself.

I wasn’t always right in my actions, sometimes took the wrong paths, let myself be led astray and be persuaded by leaders I should have questioned.  Made some stupid mistakes, got knocked down but picked myself up and went on.

I’ve always between a reader and a student attending a university without wall, with teachers whose works live on pages bound up into books.

Today Amazon delivered me a self bought birthday present of a song book by Alan Lomax, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, Hard Hitting Songs for Hard Hit People.  A decade before people call the folks of the bohemian, alternative culture hippies, a San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Herb Caen dubbed people of the alternative culture, beatniks.

Well in 1957 I was bookworm beatnik wannabee. Then came the great folk music scare of the late 1950s and early 1960s. I discovered a magical place called Greenwich Village. Aha, a place for me. Because, you see, I have always been an outlaw.

Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs were beacons of clarity during the turbulent 1960s. I marched for civil rights for all, to end the war in Vietnam, to protect the environment.  I marched for freedom, for women’s rights and the rights of LGBT people.  I didn’t need to out source the seeds of my radicalism and look to Mao, Lenin, Marx or Che.  I’m yankee born and raised.  I had the Sons of Liberty, Sam Adams, Ethan Allen, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson too.  I had John Brown and the Abolitionists. Susan B. Anthony and the Suffragists.  I had the mine worker’s union organizer Mother Jones, Big Bill Haywood and the women textile workers.

All American Radicalism…  Sometimes seems like we all went astray.  Particularly when we looked for radicalism that wasn’t All-American, at radicalism that divided us up into identity groups.

Recently I saw a Rainbow flag that was some sort of weird mutation of the Rainbow flag. Funny thing is I felt included back when it was “Gay Liberation”.

But I was a hippie and felt more a part of that and that “Gay Liberation” was just another battle to be fought.

Now I’m old and never ever dreamed things would get as bad as they are today.  We have a bunch of full blown Nazis in power while the left is all divided up into various identity groups and the words of Rev. Martin Niemöller seem truer today than ever.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Over the years it seems like so many of the leaders from the 1960s died questionable deaths or were out right assassinated. Worst mistake we ever made was driving out LBJ and refusing to support Humphrey.  Started us down the road to today.  Trump is a million times worse than Nixon and we thought Nixon was the worst.  But the Republi-Nazi pukes keep on moving the worst possible goal line and now we have this useless pile of Nazi shit.

Pride…

I still feel pride when I listen to Pete Seeger sing “Which Side are You On” and “Solidarity Forever”.  But Pete and Woody and all the rest of the Almanac Singers are dead and seems like those of us who were inspired by them mostly have one foot in the grave as well.

Pride… It is hard not to feel ground down by events, hard to overcome all that divides us, hard to pull together and fight the good fight.

Pride… Mostly pride means keeping on, keeping on and not getting demoralized.

Come November go to the polls and vote the straight Democratic Party Ticket.  It may be the last chance we get before things deteriorate to camps and guns and a civil war.

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Tom Russell-Who’s Gonna Build Your Wall

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‘INFEST’ — The Ugly Nazi History of Trump’s Chosen Verb About Immigrants

From The Forward:  https://forward.com/culture/403526/infest-the-ugly-nazi-history-of-trumps-chosen-verb-about-immigrants/

Aviya Kushner
June 19, 2018

When President Trump characterized immigrants as “animals,” some people waved it away, claiming he was only referring to gang members. But today’s use of “infest” in connection to human beings is impossible to ignore. The President’s tweet that immigrants will “infest our Country” includes an alarming verb choice for anyone with knowledge of history.

Characterizing people as vermin has historically been a precursor to murder and genocide. The Nazis built on centuries-old hatred of Jews as carriers of disease in a film titled “Der Ewige Jude,” or “The Eternal Jew.” As the U.S. Holocaust Museum notes on its website, in a section helpfully titled “Defining the Enemy”:

One of the film’s most notorious sequences compares Jews to rats that carry contagion, flood the continent, and devour precious resources.

What is happening now is “defining the enemy. Substitute “continent” for “Country,” capitalized, and you get the picture. The roots of the particular word “infest” are also telling. The English word comes from the French infester or Latin infestare ‘assail’, from infestus ‘hostile’. So yes, it’s a word rooted in hostility.

“Infest” also appears in Late Middle English, meaning “torment, harass.”

Many dictionaries confirm what we all know: that infest is used to indicate in contemporary American conversation to mean insects or animals taking over a space.

The use of the word “infest” by an American President was immediately noticed by reporters.

The Washington Post’s White House correspondent, Seung Min Kim, was quick to point out “infest” in a tweet. Maggie Haberman, the White House correspondent for The New York Times, tweeted some additional context:

“Also — insects infest. This public language about immigrants from a US president after, say, 1970, is remarkable.”

For anyone familiar with Nazi history — the exhibit of “Degenerate Art,” the film “The Eternal Jew” and the persistent campaign to paint Jews as vermin or animals, and certainly not human—the word “infest” is not only remarkable, but terrifying.

Scholars of Jewish literature and history have been sounding alarms over what is happening at the border and the language surrounding immigration. Ilan Stavans, the linguist, translator, Amherst College professor, and publisher of Restless Books, was born into a Jewish family in Mexico, and is the author of “Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language as well as Resurrecting Hebrew.” Earlier this week, Stavans tweeted:

The Trump Administration’s policy of separating children of their asylum-seeking Hispanic parents is spiteful. It is reminiscent of the Nazi strategy to divide Jewish families. Racism at its clearest. For how long will we remain silent? Are some families more sacred than others?

The last two questions posed by Stavans are especially important now; the verb “infest” is, indeed, to borrow a bit from Stavans, language at its clearest.

https://forward.com/culture/403526/infest-the-ugly-nazi-history-of-trumps-chosen-verb-about-immigrants/

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