Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dispatch from Santorum Country


Today’s opening sally: morally and politically, Oklahoma, the state where I currently dangle my fedora, it a fucking train wreck. And nowhere is this lamentable fact more apparent than when viewed through the lens of Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign.

Back on March 6th, Santorum won the Oklahoma State Republican primary, crushing both Gingrich and Romney under the boots of the state’s large and vocal born-again Christian population. Post-primary polls conducted by ABC News indicated that 8 out of 10 voters who rolled Santorum’s way did so because they wanted a “true conservative” who shared their “religious values” and who had a “strong moral character.”

By casting their lots for Santorum, Oklahoma wing-nuts were obviously telling the other candidates that they were not “true” conservatives. But come on. Romney and Gingrich were doomed long before they ever landed in Okie World. Born-again types think Mormonism is a cult, and so they distrust the magic underwear crowd, and Gingrich is a fatuous, opportunistic twat, who’s not just a political insider, he’s up inside Washington all the way to his shriveled nutsack.

No, watching the interviews the night Little Ricky won, the name most often invoked in comparison was Ronald Reagan’s. What’s interesting is how unlikely a Reagan victory would be if he were active in politics today. Just to pick one example at random, Saint Ronald raised taxes nine times over the course of his presidency (effectively eviscerating the American middle class in the process) and that detail alone would be enough to ruin him in the eyes of today’s Tea-Party troglodytes and other gasbag neo-cons. Ronald Reagan, too liberal? It might just be the case. Weird, huh?

But let’s face it, Oklahoma was already a prime location for a Santorum candidacy to fester. It is, after all, the state than spawned Ralph Shortey and James Inhofe.

Shortey, a freshman state senator from Oklahoma City, is the braindead fucktard who introduced a bill banning human fetuses in food. The bill, SB 1418, reads in part: “No person or entity shall manufacture or knowingly sell food or any other product intended for human consumption which contains aborted human fetuses in the ingredients or which used aborted human fetuses in the research or development of any of the ingredients.” When the hate-mail and holy-shit-you’re-a-dumbass-mail started cannonading off his head, Shortey sharpened his message by telling us that PepsiCo, in league with the biotech firm Senomyx, was using aborted fetuses to create and test artificial food flavorings. Both companies stoutly denied Shortey’s allegations, but he remains steadfast in defense of his “facts”…because he read them on the internet.

It’s this sort of intellectual meticulousness that throws wide its arms for a great big Santorum bear hug.

And then there’s Senator James Inhofe. His new book, The Greatest Hoax, is the senator’s latest assault on the “global warming conspiracy.” While not as batshit crazy as Shortey, Inhofe still has a lot to answer for. First of all, there’s his recent statement that there are more scientists who do not accept climate change than scientists who do. This immediately called to mind Inhofe’s list from a few years back, a list of 100 scientists who deny climate change. A cursory glance at the list showed that many of his “scientists” were, in fact, TV weathermen. TV weathermen. On the scale of rigorous scientific education, the weatherman ranks somewhere between cosmetologist and dog groomer.

But where Inhofe really goes striding forth into Numbnuts Land is when he (by “he” I mean, of course, his ghostwriters, cuz if Inhofe wrote a single syllable of this blather I’ll eat a baby harp seal) trots out what is really lurking behind the global warming “conspiracy.” First, is the baffling claim that those who support the science behind climate change, from politicians, to environmental activists to assenting scientists, are motivated by money. “Just look,” the senator recently opined in a radio interview, “how much Al Gore has made off this stuff.” I don’t even want to get into how bizarre it is for an arch-conservative like Inhofe to whine about someone making a little jingle. But Inhofe is just getting warmed up.

The real culprit, according to Jimmy the Jerk, in the “conspiracy” is…wait for it…the United Nations. It seems that the UN is intent upon taking over America and making all of us live and act according to their heinous, perhaps even—gasp!—socialist, dictates. The UN has either bribed or brainwashed the vast number of scientists (90% and climbing) who support the idea of climate change into selling this pernicious hoax to the American public.

But the main reason we needn’t worry about climate change is this: god won’t allow it to happen. In an interview broadcast on a Christian radio program Inhofe offered this devastating assessment of the situation:

“Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in [the book] is that ‘as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.’ My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”

And then, I’m told, a flock of winged pigs flew out of the senator’s butt.

To call Inhofe simply another cracker with god-poisoning is perhaps unfair. Because, see, what Japing Jim routinely fails to mention in his public appearances is the fact that he has received over $1 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, including over $90,000 alone from those charming and rational Koch Brothers (owners of the Keystone Pipeline).

There is no proof in any way shape or form that the assenting scientists are the cash-besotted fear-mongers Inhofe paints them, but there is plenty enough to demonstrate that James Inhofe is a money-gluttonous whore of the first magnitude.

James Inhofe is just the sort of fluffy-headed doofus Rick Santorum needs on his team.

And, lastly, we come to the children. Pundits from both sides of the aisle bemoan the lack of political engagement on the part of today’s youth. Well, two sisters from Oklahoma have arrived on the scene to assuage such concerns, at least among conservatives.

Known professionally as First Love, Camille Harris (20) and her sister Haley (18), penned and recorded a campaign song for Rick Santorum called “Game On.” In an interview with today.com, Camille explained how they wrote their catchy little ditty: “We just prayed and asked God to give us the words.”

And what words they are! Wow!

There will be justice for the unborn
Factories back on our shores
Where the Constitution rules our land
Yes, I believe Rick Santorum is our man.

Now, I have to ask… You prayed to god for the words—an all-seeing, all-knowing, eternal god—and that’s the best he could come up with? I’d ask for my money back.

But anyway…

Hit the link below to watch the “Game On” video. The girls are so agonizingly wholesome you can hear their hymens squeak.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7pv7sO5Gng
 
So, yeah, Rick Santorum has all the qualities that Okies told ABC they desired in a candidate. He is a “true conservative” who shares their “religious values” and he has a “strong moral character.” And despite these qualities, or, in fact, due entirely to them, he is also a total asshole.

Conservatives gibber constantly about some alleged war on religion being perpetrated by liberals. There is no war on religion, of course, but I tell you this: elect Rick Santorum and there will be. How do I know?

Because I will do my level best to start one.

Cheers.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Waste, Slaughter & Chinese "Medicine"

Today’s sermon is on Superstition. There are two kinds: the cute, endearing kind, like when a football player grows a “playoff” beard, or how a kid might avoid sidewalk cracks to save Mom a visit to the chiropractor, and then there is the revolting, ruinous kind, of which you are about to get an earful.

Superstitious hogwash has its greasy tentacles poked up every orifice of our lives. Just turn on the TV. Political candidates gibber about how they think their make-believe god wants people to behave. Animal Planet’s breakout hit is about Bigfoot. The History Channel—the History Channel—splatters its programming hours with little green men from Uranus and ghost-hunters. And ignorant peabrains the world over, but especially in Asian countries, are decimating animal populations to make aphrodisiacs, virility pills, and soup.

So who am I going to bitch about today? The animal killers. We’ll get to the inbred, endomorphic “‘squatch” hunters and the Radio Shack-equipped ghostbusters at some later date. Maybe. They’re so damn fucking foolish it almost makes me feel bad to pick on them. No, not really. They’re idiots.

Anyway, what’s going on over there Asia-way? Looks like, if it’s an exotic, endangered animal, some sexually dysfunctional ass-wipe wants it hunted down, killed, rendered into pill form, and put to work giving him s stiffie the likes of which he hasn’t enjoyed since he was nineteen. And since they’ve killed off all the charismatic mammals in their own countries, they are now enlisting renegade poachers in India and Africa to obtain the necessaries for their anti-flaccidity remedies and other completely bogus “cures.”

Rhinoceros

Among the most endangered charismatic mammals in Africa and Asia, the five species of rhinoceros are hunted solely to “harvest” (what a revolting use of that word) their horns. They are shot, their horns are sawed off, and, if out of the range of a needy village, their carcasses are left to rot in the sun. 100 years ago, rhinos were slaughtered, not only for their horns, but for their feet, which were turned into planters, trash cans and ashtrays. Today, the killing is carried out only to support practitioners of Chinese “medicine.”




Rhino horns are composed of keratin, and it is this substance that, according to several thousand years of Chinese “medical” practice, can, in various forms, “cure” or alleviate the following: bewitching nightmares, typhoid, headache, colds, carbuncles, boils, dysentery, arthritis and—oh thank goodness—demonic possession. (And people say there’s no superstition in Chinese medicine…) Regular doses of rhino horn supposedly makes one feel robust, can remove fear and anxiety, and can improve one’s vision. Among the Nepalese and Tibetans, drinking Rhino urine is thought to remedy stomach disorders and asthma.

All of this is, of course, complete and total bullshit.

In 1983, researchers at the Swiss firm Hoffmann-LaRoche carried out research into the medical efficacy of rhino horn. 25 years later similar studies were undertaken by the Zoological Society of London. Both studies arrived at the same conclusion: Rhino horn contains no medical properties. As one researcher so succinctly put it: “Rhino horn is of no use to anyone except the original owner.”




Because of all this crap, the price of rhino horn is approximately $65,000 per kilogram, and the world population of rhinos has dropped by 90%—ninety-fucking-percent—in the last 40 years. Most of the evil-doers—by whom I mean the purveyors of this snake-oil, not hapless rubes and desperate people with terminal illnesses—are at large today all over Asia, but mostly in China and Vietnam.

Tigers

Feeling run down? Lackluster? Just try some Tiger Bone Wine! It’ll put the whack back in your tallywhacker!

Yep, the most popular reason for slaughtering one of the world’s true mammalian treasures, is to make sure a few rich Asian motherfuckers can continue bothering young women. Various parts of dead tigers (bones, eyes, teeth, whiskers etc.) are used to “treat” various other ailments, both real and imagined, but a tiger’s penis is the ne plus ultra of Chinese “medicine.”

In addition to allegedly giving the consumer a boner that’ll poke through a cinderblock, essence of tiger can also perform these astounding feats: act as a sedative against insomnia (claws), treat a fever or bacterial infection (claws and teeth), treat scabs (the tiger’s nose skin); cure leprosy, dysentery, headaches and arthritis (bones); alleviate toothache (whiskers); treat epilepsy and cure malaria (eyeballs), rid the face of pimples (brain), treat hemorrhoids and cure alcoholism (feces) and work as a defense against dark magic (various).

The most popular ways of dosing oneself with tiger “medicine” are tiger-bone pills, tiger-bone wine, and the ever-popular tiger-penis soup, that can run over $400 a bowl at your more fashionable eateries.


"Tiger King" Sex Pills


Needless to say, there isn’t a single ounce of truth to any of these claims. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either deluding himself or engaged in a brand of deception that is utterly unconscionable.

Poachers use a variety of methods to kill the big cats, shooting them being the least brutal of the bunch. But see, they don’t like to shoot them, because a quality tiger skin fetches $10,000-$30,000 on the black market and bullets make all those annoying holes. So, to avoid ruining the tiger’s valuable hide, poachers turn to such charming methods as wire snares and poison, both of which allow the animal to enjoy a painful and protracted death over several fun-filled days.




Just when you think humans can’t get any stupider or more gullible. This is superstition at its most insanely destructive.



Bears

The only important thing about a bear, to a practitioner of Chinese “medicine,” is not its hide, claws or teeth, but its bile. The stuff is credited with curing nearly any ailment the human body might find itself afflicted with, and is becoming increasingly popular here in the States as a method of controlling cholesterol, never mind the fact that studies have proven wildly inconclusive. Credulous lackwits are drawn to bear bile in droves, though, operating under the delusion that, since bear bile is a naturally occurring substance, it must be better for you than something kludged together in a laboratory. Here’s a news flash for you, dummy: just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it does you any good and it sure as shit doesn’t automatically make it more ethical.

Most bear bile on the market today comes from the Chinese black bear, though pretty much any member of the genus ursus will do in a pinch. The Chinese black, also called the moon bear or the white-chested bear, is smallish, as bears go. Mature males weigh in at around 250 lbs. They are native to China, Korea (where they are all but extinct), Japan and eastern Russia.

Back in the day, the bears where shot to obtain the scant few fluid ounces of bile in their stomachs, but hunting them quickly became too tedious and too time-consuming to meet the demand for bile. But, like good charlatans the world over, the bear-bile pushers quickly found a more economical means of gathering their product.

Welcome to the Bear Farm.


Bear farms are mass-production facilities for gathering bear bile, and they are nightmarishly cruel. The bears are captured in the wild and sedated. While they are under, they are brought to one of these “farming” facilities, usually a warehouse, and deposited in cages, cages that are usually so small the animal’s paws are forced to dangle through the bars. A catheter is inserted into the bear’s stomach, creating what amounts to a constant drip-feed of bile into a containment vessel. The animals are not provided with any form of anesthetic prior to the insertion “procedure,” and the insertion areas are prone to all manner of infection.

All things being equal, I’d rather these cruel assholes go back to shooting bears. This farming business is monstrous.




Sharks

There are over 350 species of sharks in our oceans, and in many ways they are among the most perfect creatures ever to have evolved on this planet. Few things are as beautiful as a shark gliding effortlessly through the blue.

The Chinese government slaughters over 100,000 of these splendid animals every year. Why? First, to satisfy yet another example of pseudo-medical nonsense, and second, to make fucking soup.

In the mid-1990s, stories about sharks circulated the globe. According to the rumor, a rumor promulgated in the main by the usual band of medical holists, other New Agey dingbats, and their abettors in the media, sharks are immune to cancer. Cancer stricken people everywhere, sadly rendered na├»ve by their illnesses, began to demand access to this “miracle cure.” So, flying willfully in the face of all serious scientific knowledge and research, the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese quickly leapt aboard the gravy train, and began supplying shark cartilage to the world in about every form in which it could be packaged.

Then, in the early 2000s, the first legitimate research findings appeared, showing that, like all other living, multi-celled creatures, sharks are regularly stricken with cancer. One variety of the disease they are susceptible to is—yep—cancer of the cartilage. But did this information bring anyone to his senses? Of course not. The demand for shark cartilage is today just as high as ever.

If there is one thing to be said in favor of hunting sharks for their cartilaginous skeletons, it is this: at least the whole shark is consumed in the process. The same thing cannot be said, however, of shark fin soup.




As its name implies, all you need for a bowl of yummy shark fin soup is shark fins. Well, shark fins and about $200. That’s $200 per bowl. And how are these fins obtained? Oh my golly, it’s simplicity itself. First you set several miles of long-line with a baited hook dangling from it about every six to eight feet. The you come back the next day and haul those lines in, along with, you hope, a fine healthy shark firmly affixed to each hook. And, one by one, you haul the fish aboard, remove the hook, stretch it out on the deck, slice off its fins and tail, and toss the bleeding, still living animal back in the water, where it sinks to the bottom and dies, usually not from having been mutilated, but, since it can no longer swim, it dies of suffocation. This vile practice goes by the name “finning.”




Shark fin soup is considered a delicacy and is eaten all over the world. At its most basic, it’s supposed to give the eater a vibrant glow and make him feel invincible. Far more disturbingly, though, it is said to cure cancer (why, duh…) and to act as an aphrodisiac. It does none of these things.

This is waste on a scale that surpasses what befell the American bison in the 1800s.

Right Now

Oh, but Rich, you are saying. All of this goes on in other countries. Americans don’t do this sort of thing. Not anymore.

Wrong.

Just last week, ex-rodeo cowboy Wade Steffen was one of seven people arrested in a four-state crackdown on the illegal trafficking of rhinoceros horns. Steffen, who no longer competes as a steer wrestler after—get this—being attacked and savaged by a camel, was busted at the Long Beach (Ca) airport after authorities, acting on a tip from an undercover Fish & Wildlife agent, found $337,000 in his carry-on bag. All in all, federal agents seized 37 rhino horns (with a total black-market value estimated at close to $10 million), over $1 million in cash and $1 million in gold ingots. Steffen and his co-conspirators face, if convicted, which they had better be, penalties of up to five years in prison and $250,000 fines for conspiracy; five years in prison and $250,000 fines for Lacey Act violations; and up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for violations of the Endangered Species Act.

If only camels had claws.

Apologists

Apologists whine persistently, like the five-year-olds they long to be, that scientific findings which contradict traditional Chinese “medicine” are not to be trusted, because Western science and medicine is “reductionary” and “invasive” while Eastern medicine is “holistic,” a word for which, in this context, no one has offered a worthwhile definition. Well, us “reductionary” Westerners have some things on our side that the holists do not. Things like logic, the scientific method, and duplicateable, peer-reviewed research. What the holists have is a sackful of myth, hearsay and apocrypha.

Other apologists, the postmodernists and cultural relativists, blather on about how all points of view, all claims to the truth, are equally valid. Accordingly, tiger penis soup won’t effect me the way it will someone for whom the dish is culturally entrenched. Or, apparently (and illogically), the soup will have the desired effect on the other guy and not on me simply because the other guy decided it will and I decided it won’t. On the rare occasion I encounter an actual relativist (they’re hard to find; society having had some success at keeping them confined to college humanities departments) I like to ask them to let me know the next time they fly on a “relative” airplane. Pretentious douchebags.




And then there’s the myth that says poaching in Africa and India is carried out by poverty- stricken villagers, desperate to feed their families, and who are we to stand in their way. Adherents to this point of view might have a point if the poaching in question was in fact being carried out by poverty-stricken villages, desperate to feed their families. But it isn’t. Large- animal poachers in Africa resemble para-military squads, and they are just as well-armed and organized. Some even have access to spotter planes and helicopters. As mentioned above, the only time hungry villagers benefit from a dead rhinoceros is if it happens to meet its end near them, so they can avail themselves of its meat before spoilage sets in. The rural poor of Africa and India are far better served by the presence of eco-tourists, who shoot animals with Nikons instead of .50 caliber machine guns.
And, finally, we come to perhaps the biggest culprit of all: Western—specifically American—apathy. Too many people in this country fail to grasp the importance of the superstitious killing of animals. It’s happening thousands of miles away, after all, right? What does it matter?

We can trace this apathy right back to the Book of Genesis, wherein, says the myth, god gave man dominion over the animals. (For a being that is supposed to be omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient, the god of the Old Testament sure is a short-sighted, vindictive old fuck. It’s like an artist saying, “Here, I’ve made a lovely sculpture. Now, would you spray-paint it for me?”) I’ve actually had Christian whack-a-doos trot out selections from Genesis and fling them at me to excuse the inhumane treatment of animals. And what’s really messed up is that they actually believe what they are saying.

Final Thoughts

If I haven’t already offended you, I’m about to.

It is vital for the health of our planet’s ecosystem that we have an abundance of animals, large and small, running around doing nothing but leading their simple, beautiful animal lives. If you have to kill them because you feel run down, or you can’t get a hard-on, or your desk lacks for an ashtray, or your god gave you the go-ahead…then fuck you. Your pitiful superstitions aren’t worth the cost.

The last time I checked there were plenty of humans loose on the globe, and more coming by the second. The most recent survey of the southern white rhino came up with a grand total of eight. Eight. Not to put to fine a point on it, but what's a few people, more or less.

So fuck you. Fuck your traditions, fuck your culture, fuck your superstitions, and fuck your fucked-up, low-rent god. Fuck ‘em in the cunt.

Cheers.

Some Resources

Books:

Tiger Bone & Rhino Horn by Richard Ellis
No Safe Refuge by Terry Grosz
The Besieged Desert by Mitch Reardon
The Plunderers by Jan Breytenbach

Websites:

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
www.seashepherd.org

Save the Rhino
www.savetherhino.org

The International Anti-Poaching Federation
www.iapf.org 

Save Tigers Now!
World Wildlife Federation

Stop Shark Finning Now
www.stopsharkfinning.net