The Biskeptical Podcast #42: More Guns, Less Care

Today on the show, we take a look at the Trump administration’s proposed budget (spoiler alert, we’re fucked), as well their new plan to cut the food stamp program and a bill that will roll back disability rights. Plus, we talk about the recent shooting in Florida, and why it represents all that is bad about America.

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Dodge Ram’s Super Bowl Fail

Another Super Bowl has come and gone. Another over-hyped football game, another excuse for Americans to pig out, another bubble gum pop halftime show full of cheap thrills, and another parade of commercials promoting the American Dream through gross commercialism. Now it’s time for everyone to gather around the water cooler to talk about this year’s celebration of American capitalism.

This year’s Super Bowl commercials were the usual collection of hits (Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman rapping, David Harbour’s Tide ads) and misses (Bud Light continuing to try to make “Dilly dilly” a thing). One commercial that got people talking was Dodge Ram using an old Martin Luther King Jr. sermon to sell trucks. On the surface, everything looks good: a montage of teachers, soldiers, barbers, and first responders serving their respective community while Dr. King says, “You don’t have to know the theory of relativity to serve.” However, given the context of Dr. King’s legacy, the commercial is an ultimate failure.

Americans like to remember King as a neo-liberal hippie-dippie “Let’s love everyone” kind of person. He may have preached nonviolent resistance and dreamed of a world where his children would be judged by their character instead of their skin color. However, history has watered down Dr. King’s radicalism in order to make him more palatable to the general public, ultimately molding him as the Respectable Negro prototype.

For example, during the Baltimore Uprising of 2015, many white commentators rung their hands and said, “Martin Luther King wouldn’t have wanted this.” It’s true that King didn’t condone the race riots of the 1960s, but he stated publicly he could not condemn them either because “a riot is the language of the unheard.” In his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” he condemned white moderates for constantly telling him, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action” (even though now white moderates use King’s nonviolent resistance example to perpetuate respectability politics). And in his 1967 speech “The Three Evils of Society,” King reminded listeners that “capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor – both black and white, both here and abroad.”

Interestingly enough, the sermon that Dodge Ram used for their ad, “The Drum Major Instinct,” has something to say about advertising:

Now the presence of this instinct [to join the crowd] explains why we are so often taken by advertisers. You know, those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion. And they have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey. In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of car. In order to be lovely to love you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume. And you know, before you know it, you’re just buying that stuff. That’s the way the advertisers do it.

Of course this is nothing new. Capitalism has a history of using yesterday’s revolutionaries as today’s marketing gimmicks (Che Guevara shirts, anyone?). Hell, as we’ve seen with Kylie Jenner’s tone deaf Pepsi ad, marketers can even use today’s fight for liberation to sell products! If the French Revolution occurred today, I have no doubt Coca-Cola would put guillotines on their cans in order to make a profit.

I can only imagine what next year’s Super Bowl ads have in store. Malcolm X selling shampoo? A Taco Bell commercial starring a hologram of Sylvia Rivera? Angela Davis driving a Ford? The possibilities are endless at this point, and that’s what scares me.

The Biskeptical Podcast #41: Fact Checking the SOTU

Keeping with our mission to promote skepticism and critical thinking in the news, today we see what the fact-checkers have to say about President Trump’s first State of the Union address. Later this hour, we discuss whether or not the Nunes memo is anything to worry about, and what happened when Gwyneth Paltrow’s arch nemesis went to the GOOP Health event.

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A State of Contradictions — My Latest for Splice Today

In front of the Talbot County courthouse in Easton, MD are two monuments. The first is a statue of Frederick Douglass, the great civil rights leader born right here. The second is a memorial of the Talbot Boys, members of the community who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. These are monuments commemorating the legacy of a man born into bondage, who was viciously beaten for learning how to read, who eventually escaped from his shackles, and who dedicated the rest of his life to liberty and human rights, and another dedicated to the memory of those who fought to keep men like Douglass in shackles. To know Maryland is to understand the symbolism of these two monuments standing side by side.

Read the rest here.

The Biskeptical Podcast #40: Shithole Skeptics

Today we do another news round-up episode, with the majority focused on Trump proving once again he’s a racist scumbag. We also talk about the “Fire and Fury” book, Oprah and Goop peddling more pseudoscientific woo, and why the ever living fuck skeptics are now rushing to Jerry Sandusky’s defense.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #132: The Iranian Protests with Kaveh Mousavi

Returning to the show today is Iranian atheist blogger Kaveh Mousavi to talk about last week’s Iranian protests. As you’ll hear in this interview, Mousavi is a bit more skeptical of the effectiveness of the protests than Armin Navabi was last week on The Thinking Atheist. Consider my conversation with Mousavi as a companion piece to Seth Andrews’ conversation with Navabi. Hopefully between these two interviews, listeners will have a better understanding of the political situation in Iran.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #38: Festivus Airing of Grievances 2017

Today’s episode is our annual Festivus Airing of Grievances episode. We start by airing our own grievances, and then we read grievances submitted by our listeners. Get ready because we got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re gonna hear about it!

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Bi Any Means Podcast #128: How to Win an Election with Andrea Jenkins

My guest for today is Andrea Jenkins. According to Wikipedia, “Andrea Jenkins is an American policy aide, writer, performance artist, poet, and transgender activist. She is known for being the first African American openly trans woman to be elected to office in the United States. Jenkins moved to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota in 1979 and was hired by the Hennepin County government, where she worked for a decade. Jenkins worked as a staff member on the Minneapolis City Council for 12 years before beginning work as curator of the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota’s Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies. Starting in 2018, Jenkins will represent Ward 8 on the Minneapolis City Council.” And today I have the privilege of interviewing her.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #127: Youth Activism with Madison Kimrey

My guest for today is sixteen-year-old activist Madison Kimrey. According to Wikipedia, “Madison Kimrey is a political activist from Burlington, North Carolina. Her focuses include youth involvement in politics, the humane treatment of animals, and women’s rights. She has also been involved with petitions, including a petition to meet with North Carolina governor Pat McCrory. She spoke at a Moral Mondays event in North Carolina, and at the ‘We are Woman’ rally in Washington DC. Kimrey’s first encounter with activism was in Jacksonville, when a same-sex couple had to pay extra for a family membership at the ‘Hands-On Children’s Museum’ because the museum argued they weren’t ‘really a family.’ After she returned to North Carolina, Kimrey started to notice Pat McCrory and started going to “Moral Monday” protests. Kimrey is also the author of the blog ‘Functional Human Being,’ which contains a collection of political writings, opinions, personal insights and occasional accompanying music video.” And today I’ve got her on the show to talk about her activism.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #37: #NoMoore

Since our recent #MeToo episode, there have been a lot more famous men outed for sexual misconduct, including Al Franken, Matt Lauer, and Garrison Keillor. Today, however, we focus on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore because holy shit, there’s so much to unpack with this one! Who’s still supporting him, who’s calling for his resignation, and is this the end of his political career?

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