Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Someone ought to set up a benefit concert for the absorbed zygotes

Big day today for the reproductive rights battle in Mississippi (and possibly the country):

Mississippi voters are casting ballots Tuesday on an amendment to the state constitution that would define life as beginning at the moment of conception.

Initiative 26 would define personhood as "every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof."

Though the text of the amendment is simple, the implications if it passes couldn't be more complex. If approved by voters, it would make it impossible to get an abortion in the state and hamper the ability to get some forms of birth control.

If the amendment passes, it will end up in front of the Supreme Court as a direct challenge to Roe v Wade. Naturally, this can put reproductive rights supporters on edge, but it's inevitable this would happen. Anyone that has followed this debate closely knew that it wasn't ever a question of "if", instead one of "when". If Mississippi doesn't pass this amendment (the last poll I checked this morning had it fairly tight), another amendment will come along, and another, and another. The goal among some of the factions of the anti-choice movement, no longer content with just bullying women by passing legislation that treats them like idiots (waiting periods), makes reproductive health a luxury of the rich (Hyde) or forces unwanted medical procedures on them (mandatory ultrasounds), is the quest to up the ante by taking on Roe itself. I'd argue they always have wanted this, but the tight structure of the establishment GOP prevented them from gaining too much ground. When a party uses these issues as nothing more then political fodder, the worst thing in the world would be to get what they claim to want. However, with the rise of movement conservatism and a bizarre sense among the right that nothing could possible be too fringe to pursue, anti-choicers are starting to eye the ultimate trophy to their own self-righteous grandstanding. And Roe is, overall, a pretty weak ruling.*

What they are missing is that there's a reason the more institutionalized, old guard misogynists are staying far away from personhood amendments such as the one coming out of Mississippi - this could end up spectacularly backfiring on the anti-choice movement, who has seen some great gains within the last decade when it comes to oppressing women. It's not that the ultimate goal is to overturn Roe, it is, but if the court is presented with the question of whether or not a zygote is a legal person, and as such, a protected entity, it's not going to be able to make exemptions here and there based on the whimsy of anti-choicers on a state level. This could be a major setback. The more activist wing of the anti-choice movement are prematurely banking on SCOTUS agreeing that zygotes are persons; but the truth is that bestowing personhood on nothing more then the requirement of something being a fertilized human egg leads to so many legal quagmires that SCOTUS would have a hard time handing the anti-choice crowd a victory. This would hold true even if we had reached a point where the courts stacked with right-wing ideologues in order to favor these sorts of rulings (which we haven't yet, although we are moving in that direction quickly, because Republicans, unlike Democrats, understand the importance of the court system while liberals stupidly vote for Nadar or don't vote at all so they can pat themselves on the back and feel all awesome and non-conformist and shit).

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour amusingly points out some of the legal problems with Initiative 26 (while naively chalking them up to a problem with word usage):

“Some concerns that I had were about out of what I call ectopic pregnancies where the fertilized egg lodges outside the womb, say the fallopian tubes,” he said. “But there’s no question that the wording down here is what concerned people, not the idea that life begins at conception, but that the wording of it is.”

It's not a problem with the wording, Governor. It's a problem with the idea that you can establish legal personhood with something that is so fickle. Yes, if we legally define "person" with the fertilization of an egg, ectopic pregnancies are indeed legal persons. As are Hydatidiform moles. There is no way around that. And let's not even get started on the legal issues that will arise when we consider twinning (one fertilized egg dividing and developing into two separate entities long after personhood is granted) and chimeras (one fertilized egg absorbing the other, can we charge zygotes with murder yet? Probably not, but I bet we can charge the mother with creating a "hostile womb environment" that led to the death of that legalized and now absorbed dead person or something).

That's probably why it's a really fucking bad idea to classify "person" in this manner. And unfortunately for the anti-choice crowd, as it stands now, SCOTUS is probably going to agree.

I also feel that once we start taking it to the federal level it will start getting the attention that has been long lacking in recent years. My mother and I were discussing the Mississippi amendment this past weekend, she expressed frustration over the success of the GOP War on Women and the seemingly lack of care that these issues are getting - "I don't think women today realize how hard we fought for those things" is what she tells me. I realize some will think that statement is ridiculous, as we are seemingly embroiled in never-ending culture wars and abortion is just one of those topics where everyone needs to put in their two cents while at the same time really wishing you'd just shut up about it already. But it did stall for a while. I liked to joke after Obama was elected that hey, at least we might have a few years of peace where I don't have to talk about Hydatidiform moles again. And we did get that, if only briefly.

But a false sense of security or complacency often leads to apathy. Although the anti-choice movement is flawed in many ways, their ability to organize is not one of them, they never tire out. Which is why, as 2010 saw a massive wave of social conservatives flooding back into public office, we saw an increase of legal barriers to reproductive rights targeted at women even when it seemed absurd to do at a time when the concerns about the economy seemed to transcend the culture wars. In fact, the timing seemed so absurd that pro-choicers didn't really do anything to prevent it. 2010 was an election that was touted as being about the poor economy and job market, yet I think we saw more legislation passed regarding reproductive issues then we did any other issue. And the reason this happened was because while pro-choicers were trying to be the responsible ones, focusing on the things that matter instead of this culture war bullshit - the right wing was still doing the culture war bullshit. The fact that we set it aside because we were just too serious to deal with it right now just made it all the easier for them to be successful.

I feel this pattern has been consistent since the days after Roe. I mean, technically women have the right to an abortion, so we can relax now, correct? Like with most issues in this country, progressives have this stubborn idea that if we won it in the past, it can't be taken away. We won, fair and square. So we stop arguing, we stop fighting, we start to make a base camp at the bottom of whatever the next uphill battle will be and let the fire at the old camp burn out. The losers of history, however, have no need to do this. In fact, being the underdog is an amazing motivator. So while the slogans and campaigns and soundbites and protests for reproductive rights fade from the public eye and disappear from pop culture, the slogans and campaigns and soundbites and protests of the fight against reproductive rights have saturated it. And this is why you have so many well-meaning, starry-eyed teenagers of the newer generations waxing poetic about saving babies and posting this on The Facebook:

While having no clue what this sign means:

We are so accustomed to living in a society where we can take our reproductive rights for granted that it is hard for us to go back and remember what it was actually like without them. We can take to heart the pleas for "compromise" with anti-choicers because we have easily been able to ignore what the darker consequences of their movement really means for the rights of women, and what that says about their actual motivations. And we can cringe slightly while reproductive rights are chipped away at but be okay because after all, Roe is settled law, is it not?

Not really. For now, it's fine, but eventually, we cannot depend that it will just always exist to protect us. We need a wake up call. So perhaps the time is perfect for the anti-choice zealots to jog our memories about what sort of society they really want us to live in. So all I can actually say in regards to to Mississippi's Initiative 26 is this: Bring it.

*I'd rather pass the ERA. I feel women's protections in regards to reproductive health are due to their equal rights as citizens rather then an interest in protecting their privacy. Which is why, when discussions of personhood became repetitive and less of a challenge for me, I started arguing from the standpoint of zygotes being people - because hey, why not? - and found that it's not that clear-cut, you still have to argue successfully why special laws are necessary that ensure that pregnant women, and only pregnant women, are required to waive their rights away in order to sustain the rights of another. We see this demand for sacrifice in no other area of law. I think Ruth Ginsberg is attempting to create a safety net for women using this same sort of logic in case we do eventually lose Roe, her dissent in Gonzales v Carhart leans strongly towards the angle that this is overall an issue of equality.

Friday, November 4, 2011

30 Day Music Challenge: 01

I'm not sure where the idea originated, but I'm stealing it from Stereophone, which I should point out will probably feature better music choices and better writing than this little blog will, so perhaps if anything you can use these music posts you'll encounter for the next 30 days as a reminder to go read Stereophone. I won't mind, as I'm really just doing this as a distraction while I give up some of my vices this month and I feel this will be better for my overall mental health than screaming at someone about how I will totally find out a way to reach through my monitor and rip their fucking eyes out if they use the words "job creators" one more goddamned time (although that will be quite necessary at times as well).

But ahem, I am reaching to transcend the anger and cynical nature and run-on sentences that have consumed my life up until this point, so for now, it's thirty days of tunes. Thirty days of meditation and healing, thirty days on a deep and spiritual journey full of love for the self and for others, and thirty days of introspection and self-examination eventually leading up to fulfillment and inner peace. And so we dig in and start our travels off with:

Day One: Your Favorite Song.


No seriously, did I just go back to 7th grade? Oh, I'm going to go buy posters and hang them on my wall because this song is like my favorite song ever and then I'm going to make a mix-tape with just this song on it because if my heart could write lyrics they would sound like whatever is at the number three spot on the billboard top ten list for this week and fucking seriously. Who the hell actually has a favorite song? How do you even define "favorite song" for something like this? I mean, I have a favorite song on a daily, weekly, or sometimes hourly basis, but there's never really "one" song to rule them all for ever and ever. I would actually go so far to suggest that if you have a favorite song, you just have it to tell people that it's your favorite song in hopes they'll be impressed by it. I don't feel a need to impress any of you fuckers.

Look, I have songs that I love because they remind me of my favorite places, or my favorite people, or my favorite seasons, or years, I have songs that I love for the melody or instruments used and songs that I love the for they lyrics or even songs that I love for those brief four measures where everything jives just so perfectly before going back to being utterly forgettable, I have songs that I love when sitting in Irish bars and songs I love when driving my car at night and songs that I love when dancing around my house and songs that I love to sing to the dog and songs that I love to daydream to and songs that I use to unwind.

But no, I don't have a favorite song. I'm honestly at a loss for what to put here. I guess I'll just go with this one because (a) it's Greg Dulli (b) there's a wicked piano in the background (c) it's naughty (d) so it's fun as hell to sing along with and (d) I just heard it while driving today.

More deep thoughts and self-discovery tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The lost art of civility

There's an interesting article up in the Times today regarding the decline of "Southern Manners". Interesting due to where it starts off:

One August night, two men walked into a popular restaurant attached to this city’s fanciest shopping mall. They sat at the bar, ordered drinks and pondered the menu. Two women stood behind them.

A bartender asked if they would mind offering their seats to the ladies. Yes, they would mind. Very much.

Angry words came next, then a federal court date and a claim for more than $3 million in damages.

The men, a former professional basketball player and a lawyer, also happen to be black. The women are white. The men’s lawyers argued that the Tavern at Phipps used a policy wrapped in chivalry as a cloak for discriminatory racial practices.

And where it ends:

“I will not give up,” she said, firm in her belief that Southerners still want to raise children who are kind and well-mannered.

“They must,” she said, “or my classes wouldn’t be full.”

I'm not sure how you start off with the use of civility/chivalry for racist means and then end in a wistful tone about how the South is fighting to keep this culture alive. Anyway, Amanda Marcotte tears down this bullshit quite well, so I've really nothing to add to that aspect of it.

But I have encountered the "civility" argument time and time again, and after being accused countless times of being uncivil myself (I'm pretty blunt. I swear. All of which, I'm informed, is quite unladylike), all I really have to say to that is, you know what? Fuck Civility.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about this in the sense of just being decent to your fellow human beings (this is a good thing). Not in the sense that we should just be inconsiderate as hell to everyone (although this seems to be the trend). Just that civility, as we commonly define it, is quite meaningless. I find that overall, it's not about being a decent person, it's about appearing to be a decent person while being kind of a scumbag.

Once upon a time at a site I wrote at I decided to run what I thought was a clever experiment. This was back when the John Edwards affair scandal broke, and as usual, Republican pundits had some very trenchant analysis of the situation. Rush Limbaugh, for example, speculated that perhaps if Elizabeth Edwards used her mouth for other things other than talking, poor Johnny wouldn't have had to bang the assistant, or babysitter, or whomever he was banging at the time, I forget.

This is what we would call an offensive statement. Now, I don't care much about Rush Limbaugh, he does what he does. Nor am I an advocate for censorship (I prefer to let things like this stand as starting off points for discussion). But keep in mind that during this time on the site, we were lucky to have the "conservative coalition outrage patrol", who felt their main purpose was to find offense at swear words on the site written by liberals and would shriek and scream about them until the article was changed or pulled down.

So I thought I'd do a little light trolling with this one. As someone that is aware of all internet traditions, I pulled a shorter, and although I went into detail in the article as to why Rush Limbaugh's statement was offensive, my title was fairly direct:

"Rush Limbaugh to the Ladies: Less talking, more dick sucking".

Oh god, the outrage. You'd be amazed as to what a title like that can do for your page views. Naturally, many folks came on to tell me that wasn't what Rush Limbaugh was saying at all, that I was putting words in his mouth to make him look worse then he was, that the title was vulgar, that it needed to be changed. It was actually one of the few articles that the site pulled from me (although it was reinstated). And for every complaint, I just asked the same question - is it the words that you find offensive or the idea behind them? Is your beef actually with me, or with Rush Limbaugh? Because let's face it, "Less talking, more dick sucking" and "Perhaps you would keep your man if you used your mouth for other things besides talking" are very similar statements - so much so that they are actually the same statement.

So I asked the outrage police - if I change the title to reflect Limbaugh's actual quote, can we then talk about why what he said was offensive? I was assured that we could. If I just took "dick sucking" out of there, we could have a nice, "civil" conversation about it. So I changed the title. As predicted, once that happened, no one came back. Tumbleweeds. The offensiveness of the statement that women need to shut up and sexually pleasure their men because that's all men really want from them anyway was magically eradicated with the removal of the words "dick sucking".

Anyway, I just bring it up because when it comes to civility, this seems to be the pattern time and time again. This is not to say that there aren't things that people say that are offensive. Just that I find what they are actually saying is to be more offensive then how they say it. I can't even begin to tell you how many "civil" debates I've sat through with some folks pontificating the inferiority of certain biological traits that some other folks have. And I guarantee you, even if there's not a racial slur or blatantly misogynist statement or any disagreeable language to be found anywhere, they are some of the most vile discussions I've ever sat through. They are usually worse for the fact that the folks discussing them assume somewhat of a intellectual superiority over everyone else merely for their ability to not swear, they'll gather in a circle jerk, grab out their thesaurus and discuss why members of group X are weak, or morons, or illogical, or violent, or whatever other negative trait you can muster up in such an educated and civil tone, and then it's back pats all around because of how civil and rational and totally objective the discussion is and aren't they all just awesome for being so intelligent and discussing these sorts of "touchy subjects" so civilly?

At which point the observer is pretty much tearing their hair out and wondering, in all caps, WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED THERE? There really is no other response to this situation then to tell these folks to fuck off. But that's the other nifty thing about pretending to adhere to a standard of "civility" - Would you like to take a guess as to what you are called when you go that route? Yep, that's correct. If you dare to actually take on a certain "tone" when responding to people that have just talked about how your biological traits automatically make you inferior to them, well, then you are just being totally uncivil and are not worth listening to. Perhaps you should choose your words more wisely next time if you want to be taken seriously, thanks for proving my point about how I'm totally better then you (snicker snicker nudge nudge).

And this really hits to the heart of why I find the whole civility debate tiresome. It's never about civility. Instead, it's about shutting down conversation. It's about getting away with being a douchebag while still coming off as a good person. It's a way of dismissing someone without ever actually addressing what they are saying. It's about what benefits you, and only you, not about what is beneficial to others.

Which I don't find civil at all, really. Good riddance.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The 53% is part of the 99%, whether they acknowledge it or not

Oh hey, I have a blog! I probably should use it again at some point.

So, as we've learned from the great "I'm sorry"/"I'm not sorry" debate of 2004, Republicans tend to get real pissy when a bunch of liberals start a Tumblr blog. And, because pretty much 95% of Republican attacks narrow down to just stealing talking points from liberals and throwing them right back at them in an amusing display of psychological projection, the response is a typical "Oh yeah? Well I'll just start a Tumblr too! Suck on that, LIEbrals!".

As such, we now get the "We are the 53%" Tumblr, in response to the "We are the 99%" Tumblr that has had a nasty habit of tugging on some heartstrings and making folks sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street protests. Obviously, once people actually start having feelings like empathy for their fellow Americans, it needs to be shut down at all costs, and drinking champagne from a balcony overlooking the protests just wasn't cutting it. So, the 53%. This is a reference to the percentage of the population that pays income tax. It's a totally awesome burn, because it's really not fair that people that are too poor to pay income taxes don't have to pay income taxes and instead just pay things like sales taxes or payroll taxes, or something like that. Either way, it's a percentage! That we can use to title our Tumblr blog! Roll with it.

So in the spirit of fairness, and by that I mean, in the spirit of sarcastic mockery that serves no purpose other then my own amusement, I took a look at what the "We are the 53%" are saying.

Here is every conservative's wet dream. 22 years old and a business owner! Pays all of his taxes, and doesn't play bongos. He never gets any time off, nor does he have health insurance, but that's okay, because he doesn't blame Wall Street, just elitist career politicans. Who aren't funded in any way by Wall Street lobbyists.

And here's a guy who works three jobs, can't sell his house, and whose insurance costs are outrageous. And might be Erick Erickson, who has never been handed a cushy job on CNN that he really didn't deserve but only received for the sole reason that he's a blogger that really fucking hates liberals and we need "balance" in our media.

Here is a former Marine that works 2 jobs, and has no health insurance, and is bragging about not having more then four days off in a row for over four years. So, you know, ha ha, guy that works two jobs with no health insurance... ha ha... you know what, guys? I don't think I can do this.

Here we have a guy that makes his way through life without "luxuries". He has a low-paying job, a truck with 200,000 miles on it, no health insurance, and can barely afford his rent, who is pretty much one unfortunate random incident away from catastrophe.

I'm going to go cry now.

I mean, is this some sort of parody? Is this actually a Tumblr blog in support of the 99%? Because the only difference I see between this guy and this guy is a medical condition. All of these people I've linked to above, all of the people that have thus far shown up on the "We are the 53%" Tumblr blog, are all very hardworking, self-driven, inspirational people. And are all one small financial catastrophe away from ruin.

And that is exactly what the problem is.

For what it's worth, I don't feel bad for the person that is $100,000 dollars in debt for her M.A. in Art either. The idea passed down to my generation that to succeed, you only need to spend a ton on a degree is something that needs to be re-evaluated. But that isn't what these protests are solely about. What I'm actually seeing here is a need to paint the Occupy Wall Street protesters as entitled little brats, and not real, hardworking people, so that at night, we can tell ourselves that they are not us. That it won't happen to us. That in the end, the "American Dream" will work out for us if we just try hard enough. To make it through the day, we need to believe that. But I don't think the American Dream is working three jobs just to keep your head above water. I don't think it is doing everything "right" and "responsible" to ensure your stability in this society, yet still ending up in financial desperation because of things that are out of your control. I think the American Dream, as we romanticize it, is dead.

Look through both of those blogs. When you look at their paths, and their concerns, they are essentially the same. Some are just not so "lucky".

If you can even call the posters on the "We are the 53%" blog "lucky". From what I've read, blindly prideful, yes. "Lucky", no. Not really.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's now 9/12, can I go back to being an asshole?

Hey, at least I waited a day.

So another 9/11 has come and gone, and we say goodbye to yet another day of watching chaos and horror and destruction on a 90 minute loop so that we "never forget", although what we aren't supposed to ever forget by being shown this footage I'm not quite sure of. I'd think that those that choose to honor instead of forget the dead do so by celebrating their life rather than their untimely demise, but that never really seems to be the theme with the media, does it? So the only thing I can really come up with is this idea that America is not secure and we should be afraid, very afraid, or that sick motherfuckers exist, which is something I don't think we really would ever forget even if we tried.

So again we are subjected to lectures from very serious right-leaning pundits about the proper way of conducting yourself on this day, which apparently involves eagle gifs and flags and tales about how they learned on 9/11 that voting Republican is the only way to go to keep us safe because after the attacks Bush had a bullhorn and that was really inspiring and all. And all of this they figured out as they were watching it unfold on their televisions that were hundreds to thousands of miles away from Ground Zero, which is why they can tell people like 9/11 widows and first responders when they are being totally out of line and doing things other than shutting the hell up and posing for patriotic photo ops - that sort of distance they were lucky enough to have gives one perspective on the real way to grieve, you see.

But even with eagle gifs, wingnuts can't completely feel in touch with this holiday without finding some sort of faux-outrage to scream about how liberals hate America, as it's tradition. And normally this would be targeted at the head liberal usurper in chief, because really, is there anything you can't blame on Obama these days? But sadly, if you mention Obama and 9/11 in the same sentence now, it might just bring up the fact that it was Obama, not Dick Cheney, not Erick Erickson, not John McCain, and not George W Bush that actually got America's Public Enemy #1, instead it was the America-Hater himself, and that shit is just awkward.

Luckily for them, Paul Krugman stepped up to the plate, and will now be your representative as to what is really wrong with America this year (psst! Spoiler Alert: It's liberals again!). Let's see what radical, extremist, America-hating tripe KThug managed to bust out to make American Baby Jesus cry this time:

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity

And now there must be screaming and shouting and moral grandstanding up to volume 11 because it's just not right if there's a liberal out there somewhere with a column that we haven't completely made into a pariah for daring to suggest that perhaps some people might of had the wrong reaction after the attacks, because as we all know, if you say love America enough, you can't possibly ever be wrong. Even if you were horribly, disastrously, and completely wrong. But fuck you, it's 9/11, and you are not allowed to point that sort of thing out. Feelings, and all.

So let's look at some of the reactions of some of those directly affected by those attacks that were hurt by Paul Krugman's heartless comments. And by that I don't mean victims or families of victims or the thousands of New Yorkers or folks in DC that were smack in the middle of what when down that day. Instead, I mean right-wing bloggers.

Erick Erickson:

If he speaks for liberals, liberals are truly disgusting. I assume and believe that most liberals reject this and hope many of them will be vocal about the disagreement. And the New York Times might want to rethink using Krugman’s conscience as that of a typical liberal.

Flopping Aces:

“Years of Shame”? Mr. Krugman has exhibited an unconscionable moment of shame for which he should forever be embarrassed. As you can see, he is as cowardly as the terrorists themselves… a hateful hit and run on a day of remembrance and mourning, demonstrating that he, himself, is guilty the accusations he levels at others.

And I just have to link this one because I absolutely love that someone has the gall to lecture Paul Krugman about his "partisanship" on this holiest of holy days and then two posts later comment on the very serious event that was cheering George W Bush and not Barack Obama (because everyone hates Obama, amirite?), which isn't partisan or petty at all guys, really.

Your more nuanced, "serious" conservative is merely clucking their tongue and talking about how Paul Krugman totally shouldn't do things like point out that for all the chest-beating idealism about "freedom" that came from the 101st Fighting Keyboarders, we sure did fuck that up quite a bit and put the country on a road for the worst. But it's okay because they are sure that other, more rational liberals would never reflect on 9/11 through this sort of prism that accurately reflects the reality of the situation (so don't even think about talking about it, liberals. You don't want to be an asshole like Paul Krugman, do you?).

(Side note: At first I thought it was kind of strange that they decided to go with "Sounds of Silence" for the tribute song this year. I mean, I know that interpretations differ, but the song seems to be making a pretty strong point in regards to living in ignorance or "silence" while the truth is right there staring at us in the face, and warns against society turning away from it and towards comforting falsities for guidance instead. But seeing the reaction to Krugman's column, and considering how critics of the handling of the aftermath of 9/11 were treated as if they were borderline treasonous, makes me think that the choice was perhaps quite apt. Sorry, just something I was thinking about today)

I feel if anything, I've earned the right to be cynical while watching what has unfolded during the past ten years. And I feel no need to keep quiet about it, because the effects of these mistakes are still with us to this very day. Find me one thing in Krugman's post that is not true. Tell me one mistake Washington or the DC media reflected upon and learned from. People did behave badly post-9/11, and often for selfish reasons. We did take a moment of national unity and turn it into one of the most decisive partisan issues of the past decade. And yes, some of them know damn well that is what happened, and they really don't like it when you make it a salient point in their minds. I have a hunch these are the same people that are shrieking the loudest about what Krugman said. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.

I'm obviously not going to take the high road here. I'm not going to reminisce without partisanship, or without politics, because the fact is that what happened cannot be divorced from these things. I'm not going to fake my way through that, or forget anything that has happened since for the sake of protecting the feelings of those that were wrong, tragically wrong, about the path this country should take at that point. And those who are still taken as credible to this day, as if their full truckload of fail from that time never existed.

Perhaps for a while, the politics and the bickering could have been separate from the memorial. I know that in the aftermath, we did have this euphoric sense of national unity. I know that some of this is an attempt to find that unity again.

But I also know that it was squandered for political reasons then, and I know that it's often squandered for political reasons now.

And I know exactly who I hold accountable for that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How to survive a bear attack

I have a great love for camping. There's always something about setting up a tent, throwing on a hoodie and laying on the ground to view all the stars in the night sky that has a calming and peaceful effect on me. But as anyone in Bear Country knows, one must take a cautionary approach when camping. So a few weeks back, in preparation for a camping outing with the husband, I brushed up on my bear knowledge. Not that I haven't read these things a thousand times or more, but it's almost enjoyable to look into all the ways you can meet your end on a dewy morning (I've always had an absurd fascination with things that can kill me). So given what I've gone through the past week, in the spirit of being helpful, I've decided to share some of these tips with you.

Now, first, just relax. You don't really need to go out of your way to avoid a bear, even if you've had negative interactions with them in the past. Bears aren't really built for drama and try to avoid it. Instead, they'd just like to amble along their way, eating berries and generally just being lazy in the summer months. Odds are, you won't even encounter a bear, not only is the bear usually two steps ahead of you anyway, there's also the fact that you just don't do many things that are interesting enough to catch the bear's attention. But make no mistake that this sort of aloofness is somehow an indicator of weakness. If the bear feels a need to, they will attack.

And bears hit very hard.

If you shock or surprise a bear in its own territory, it will respond to let you know who is really the boss. Do not get between a bear and something that the bear holds dear to them. Do not randomly jump out of nowhere and piss off the bear, because when bears are just looking for something like berries or a warm sunny spot to lay in and they are subjected to bullshit, they find that sort of thing to be kind of annoying. But this is not the usual scenario with bear encounters.

Keep in mind that most of the time, the bear is just curious. Bears are well aware of everything that goes on in their surroundings, and learn quickly (you may think you are offering up some new sort of contraption, but trust me, the bear has probably seen it used already). Bears are remarkable in that they learn the habits of humans and pick up on their patterns. Do you think that unopened can of beer is safe to leave on your table? Think again. The bear, through its interactions with humans, understands what certain things signify, even if there isn't an obvious giveaway (like scent) to tip it off. And man, you do not want to mess with a bear that's had a few. In short, the bears have been doing this for a long time, and they learn. So they understand these things, they've seen the patterns time and time again, they can often anticipate your steps before you even are aware of them, and it's probably not a good idea to underestimate them. Do not assume you are clever enough to pull one over on the bear.

So when encountering what is most likely a curious bear, do not lose your shit. No panic is necessary, simply talk to the bear in a rational tone and do not escalate the situation. Let the bear know you are there, that you are human, but do not draw too much attention to yourself in order to avoid becoming the bear's main focal point. The solution here is not to freak out and scream "AHHH A BEAR IT WILL EAT MEEEE" and run away. Do not try to do something as silly as bullshitting the bear that you're totally not camping, and instead just doing a study on bears when the bear fucking knows better, because it will not end well for you. Seriously, the bear has no patience for that sort of shit. Keep calm, stay honest, and eventually the bear, after knocking over your cooler and taking a nap on your tent in order to get its point across, will tire of you and leave.

But let's say you've ignored all the other advice and decided to piss off the bear.

And now you imagine that you have a tonnage of fury directed your way, and are fully aware that you haven't any tools to deflect it. So you pretty much have no choice but to use what is the only thing you have left - unhinged, angry emotional outbursts. Flail. Scream. But stand your ground. Bears will often do what is known as a fake charge in order to intimidate the intruder, as a means of testing their resolve. Any sign of weakness on your part could cause the bear to react, because at this point, the bear is sick of your ass. But rejoice! At some point, the bear will more then likely decide that you just aren't worth it, as it wasn't looking to be bogged down in camper drama. Camper drama is the worst. I mean, perhaps the bear really likes where it is and doesn't want to be forcefully removed by the authorities that run its nature reserve. Perhaps the bear is worried that it might get that sort of "bad bear" reputation among the campers and has to spend each day knowing that it will eventually be shot by the forest ranger. Or perhaps the bear just doesn't feel like dealing with your scared and defensive ass when there are lots of other tents to sleep on that aren't inhabited by people that will flip out and misjudge the bears actual intentions (wasn't that an unopened beer just sittin' out on your cooler? Just askin').

But even if you discount all the above advice, know this. Once you cause the bear to lose interest in you, or once that bear has decided that the potential harm from the situation maybe isn't worth mauling your ass, just let the bear go.

For real. There's really no reason to hide behind a tree and throw rocks at the bear while it is *awesomely* sauntering away.

If you got through an encounter with a bear without too much permanent damage, congratulations! Not too many people do, so perhaps the bear was feeling generous that day. But even so, you don't really want to rely on that and continue to poke the bear.

The second attack is usually more gruesome then the first.

*It's an analogy, bitchez.

**Although all of the above facts that aren't based in anthropomorphic assumptions are for the most part true, I'd rather you not use me as the bear expert. I mean, I pretty much wrote this because it amused the hell out of me to write it and if you decided to go strolling through the woods because of your new found bear knowledge and get dead, I'd feel pretty fucking bad about that.

***No bears were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"And we’re going to hurt some people"

Movie quotes that apparently motivate GOP huggy times:

"House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the party's vote counter, began his talk by showing a clip from the movie, "The Town", trying to forge a sense of unity among the independent-minded caucus.

One character asks his friend: "I need your help. I can't tell you what it is. You can never ask me about it later."

"Whose car are we gonna take," the character says.

After showing the clip, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), one of the most outspoken critics of leadership among the 87 freshmen, stood up to speak, according to GOP aides."I'm ready to drive the car," West replied, surprising many Republicans by giving his full-throated support for the plan."

One of the things that always struck me about how the GOP presents their policies is the frequency in which they rely on the idea that the ends always outweigh the means (the most glaring example of this, in my opinion, is the propaganda leading up to the Iraq War, in which the 9/11 heartstrings that were tugged and the misinformation regarding the threat that Saddam Hussein posed was all really in the name of regime change rather then making the US "safer"). Now, for the most part, this is intentional: The Iraq War was hard enough to sell to the public as it was, and the idea that we needed to go bomb a country that had nothing to do with our current state of affairs probably wouldn't fly except among the most tribal of the GOP's party. If your ends and your means are both useless and damaging, you probably aren't going to get a ton of takes. So "trust me" becomes the only option.

But even if you assume it's a genuine sentiment, that sometimes you just have to shut up, not ask questions, and just go along with the scheme because in the end it will pay off, it still doesn't really follow when you look at the GOP's own dogma. Essentially the GOP is asking their members to pipe down and go along with it because the GOP establishment knows what's best for them, and assumes everyone else is too stupid to understand the complicated means that take us to a desirable end, so just trust that your betters have your best interest in mind and will take care of you.

Which, as astute observers of political rhetoric know, may be fine if it's Republicans, but could you even imagine the screeching that would take place if this sort of "Trust us, we are doing what is best for you" rhetoric was manifesting on the left? All our favorite talking points about liberal elitists would be rampaging across the internet and various opinion columns of Very Serious newspapers.* We've heard that type of accusation before, in fact, it's a major staple in the rhetoric that paints the GOP as the defenders of the little guy, the people, against Washington busy-bodies (and conveniently masks that they are really the party of the aristocracy). So I can't help but be a bit amused by a party that constantly accuses Democrats of being composed of elitists that yearn for a nanny state to control the masses and thumb their noses at those stupid American folks because they are just too simple-minded to understand what's at stake here, then turns around and actually supports just such an effort, and probably for dishonest means and ends to boot. Once again, the GOP shows itself to be a master at psychological projection tactics**.

And all this is just an observation assuming the movie quote from the WaPo is correct. It gets worse, because the WaPo actually misprinted the quote (and if this was done intentionally, we are actually starting to get all inception-like up in this shit here, aren't we?). Here is how Ben Afflick's line actually reads:

I need your help. I can't tell you what it is. You can never ask me about it later. And we're going to hurt some people.

There really isn't much to add to that. No wonder the Republicans are all fired up about it. We are ruled by grifters and sociopaths.

(via MNPublius)

*And should I get started on the Hollywood aspect of this? Funny how liberals and Hollywood are always sittin' in a tree, and warpin' the minds of the folks, yet it seems to only be the GOP that seriously uses movies as political arguments (they did this with the whole "We must torture, because it worked for Jack Bauer" talking point as well). I could seriously do this all day.

**I really need to start a series on this. You can take pretty much any talking point Republicans use to slam Democrats and discover that it's actually something they are already doing themselves, or really want to start doing. It's so predictable at this point that it would almost be comical, if it weren't so damn effective.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stabbing the baby before throwing it out with the bathwater seems to be the current strategy

Gilda: Would it interest you to know how much I hate you, Johnny?
Johnny Farrell: Very much.
Gilda: I hate you so much that I would destroy myself to take you down with me.

My emotions the past several days have been volleying between blinding rage and cautious optimism what with the shutdown here in Minnesota and the debt ceiling talks in Washington. The rage stems from what I already knew - we are dealing with a Grand Old Party of grifters and sociopaths, who have managed to wrap themselves so tightly in their own ideology that they are suffocating themselves. They really have very few choices now aside from sinking the country or losing their precious little jobs (and obviously, they chose their own jobs, because they know damn well how badly they've been fucking the unemployed and wisely want no part of that).

It never should have gotten to this point. The tongue-bath the media has been giving the Tea Party the past few years has been an utter and complete joke on the country, and I'm sure Tim Russert's great grandson will tell us as much in about 70 years while assuring us that all the Very Serious people in Real America agree with cyborg-McCain's plan to blow up the moon to defeat the terrorist alien babies.

At the same time, I'm a bit optimistic. David Brooks of all people came down hard on the Republicans this week:

But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.

Richard Cohen in the Washington Post simply sums it up by observing that the modern GOP has become nothing more then a cult. Are these opinion columns all that significant in and of themselves? Not really. It's nice that they've finally caught onto what some of us have been pointing out for over a decade now, but these guys have always been weak idiots that illustrate perfectly why old media is dying. What I think it does illustrate, however, is that the latest antics from the GOP is beginning to cause concern for what is normally their largest group of apologists, the Very Serious Elite Pseudo-Moderate DC pundits.

The GOP is getting so outrageous, in other words, that the pundits can't find any comparable Democratic proposal to misinterpret in order to play the false equivalency game to show how "fair" they are. And once you start to worry a media that is pretty much primed to constantly allow you to run your crazy-train uncontested less they be accused of "liberal bias", it shows just how far off the tracks the modern GOP has gone. I've had a hunch in the past that the Republicans are falling victim to their own livelihood, that they can't survive without pandering to the extremists that both turn out strongly in election years yet alienate everyone else, much like what happened with the Democrats in the 70s. In time, even the most ardent supporters that still have a few brain cells circling somewhere in their cranium can't just grimace and pull the lever anymore. In time, the party they opposed in the past starts to look like the lesser of the two evils.

The party that could never die is, in my opinion, dying. If history is any indication, even if the GOP manages to survive, they will have crippled themselves for decades (we still use 60s/70s-era talking points against the Democrats; all the Hippy Punching/angry liberals/anti-government leftists/hey doesn't Carter totally suck came from somewhere). And I think the old guard knows this, which is why you have two types of old-school Republicans in congress these days, the types that are retiring to get the fuck out of dodge before they are chased out and the ones that have embraced the Tea Party Patriots wholeheartedly even though they know damn well their politics and rigid ideology is toxic, not only to them, but to the country. Somewhere down the line, "America First" ceased to matter, and zealotry took over.

I think in the end, the massive restructuring and/or demise of the modern GOP will be a good thing for the country. But in the meantime, it's going to be an absolute disaster. If they are going to go down, they are going to do everything in their power to drag the rest of us down with them. The Republican Party used to stand for something (and could again, in the future). But today, they stand for nothing more then the fact that they hate you, they will not compromise with you, and as such, if you are not part of their tribe you must be eradicated at any cost. Although this is damaging to their party, it does not bode well for the country as a whole. But what else can be done at this point? You cannot compromise with people like this, even if they would let you. Which they won't.

And I know, I know, it's really fucked up to look at the current political climate and find optimism in respect to the policies that will probably be enacted. That there are actually people being affected, that these aren't mere numbers and statistics. I'm fully aware of my own privilege in these matters, that the loss of government services are really nothing more then an annoyance for me so far.

But I'm not going off of an idea of "Fuck you, I win! Bwa-ha-ha-ha!". It's not a game. It is just getting harder to deny that the current Republican Party just cannot exist inside the frame of what we know as a Democracy. The GOP has given no indication that they will tone it down anytime soon (like I said, I don't think they can at this point, movement conservatism has spiraled out of their own control). And as much as I will continue to disagree with true conservative principles, even I can realize that it does me no favors to have an opposition party that is insane and unwilling to compromise.

Of course, in the end, my optimism could be misplaced. We do get the government we deserve, and sometimes I fear that. And perhaps that's more where the rage comes from.

(Opening quote from Gilda, 1946.)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fun Stuff is Offically Closed

You know what Kurt Zellers? Fuck you. Fuck you and fuck Amy Koch and fuck all you other stupid ideological motherfuckers that decided to waste the entire fucking year on culture war bullshit (and actually had the nerve to go on MPR a while back and giggle about "The budget deal? But where did all the time go? Tee hee!") and then act shocked, shocked(!) when the governor of the state doesn't accept your "Fuck education who needs it when we have rich people that can't be taxed?" bullshit "deal" after fucking campaigning and winning on that very fucking same issue.

This is a gigantic fucking waste of money for the state. Pat yourself on the fucking back. Or maybe hire one of the state employees that is now out of fucking work to do it for you.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nothing to say, just messing with Google+

For testing purposes, y'all. Here's some Fisherman's Blues:

Squee! And I was going to be all productive this weekend (in a non-internets way), too.

Circle me!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Please stop making me defend these assholes

I'm starting to get that sickening feeling with Michele Bachmann that I did with Sarah Palin in years past, that feeling that no matter how much you despise them, you are going to end up sticking up for them more then you would normally care to. A prime example would be the "are you a flake" controversy over at Fox News this past weekend.

It's pretty disappointing, and here's why.
  1. It's gendered.

  2. I know, I know, that's playing right into Bachmann's hands so she can screech about sexism while at the same time fucking over her fellow women for political gain, something which always benefited Palin handsomely. And I'm well aware that like most things of this nature, I can't "prove" that it was thrown at her because of her gender. But I'd just point out that leading GOP candidate Mitt Romney is a well known "flip-flopper" on issues, and hypocrisy is pretty much the Republican norm at this point, yet I can't say I've ever seen anyone else addressed in this sort of manner, and so bluntly.

  3. A constructive answer to that question does not exist.

  4. I know pundits like their "gotcha!" questions because it makes them seem so bad-ass and all, but really, what sort of answer can one expect to a question like that? That Bachmann will break down weeping and say "It is true! It is true! Tis a silly flake am I! Oh how you've destroyed me, Chris Wallace!"? Probably not. It only offers the opportunity to express offense (which will play solidly into Bachmann's overall underdog campaign) or to create an clean little list of all the 'awesome' things Bachmann has done in her life which shows how Bachmann is totally a serious candidate. Which is a shame because...

  5. The overall point Wallace was getting at was an important one, and now we are just talking about how he insulted the candidate.

  6. For state's rights yet supportive of a federal ban on gay marriage? Against government spending unless it's something that benefits her own district? Decrying cuts to Medicare from "Obamacare" yet supporting the Ryan plan that does away with it completely? Bachmann is playing into conservative myths like most of her ideological peers, and it's about damn time someone pointed it out. And he blows it. Big time. There were so many more pointed questions Wallace could have busted out at that point.

Bachmann is a moron and a hypocrite, but what people tend to miss is that she's been in the political game for a long time, and she's proven that she knows how to survive. She knows how to work these sorts of things to her advantage. The best thing to do with candidates like her is give her enough rope, because it's guaranteed that she will eventually hang herself. Think of what worked with Palin - The narrative works best as "candidate x said something stupid, and is now whining about it", not as "candidate x was called stupid, and is now upset about it". Bachmann would be terrible for this country, and if allow her message to be heard loud and clear, I think the country will eventually pick up on that.

Instead, Bachmann came out of this looking like (a) the "underdog" victim of a cruel media (WHICH IS THE POINT PEOPLE) and (b) professional and serious because of how well she handled the attack (I would not have responded any other way. Unless I punched the fucker). This sort of thing is not helping.

Not that I expected Fox News to help.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

U Mad, officer?

I found it interesting that the LulzSec leak of documents from the Arizona Police Department coincided with the FBI's decision to drop the case against Minnesota's most notorious gang, The Metro Gang Strike Force, investigating their 2005-2008 asset forfeiture free-for-all. Not that the two are related in any way, just that despite the negative press online anarchist groups such as LulzSec garner, there seems to be an increasing need for their actions.

The public would like to believe that citizen abuse in law enforcement is minimal, or that the actions of one good cop can take down even the most embedded hierarchy of corruption. We like to believe that in the end, the bad guys will lose, and the good guys will prevail. But as we saw with the Metro Gang Strike Force, which was brought to an end by a "good cop", this isn't necessarily the case. Sure, the Task Force was disbanded after the destruction of public's trust in them made doing their job impossible. But as for the consequences for the members of the Task Force that preyed on the public for years, there are none to be found. The abandonment of the case comes on the heals of the US Justice Department's announcement that no more charges will be filed against the members due to the lack of evidence against them. This would be the same evidence that was destroyed, in the middle of the night at their New Brighton office that just so happened to have it's security surveillance system disabled while the mass shredding of documents took place. All of the officers are presumably free to keep their jobs within law enforcement. Meanwhile, the public has coughed up a cool 3 million so far to pay off the civil lawsuit against the task force for harassment and theft.

Is it any wonder that the citizens are starting to become upset about this sort of thing, or are taking matters into their own hands? As technology allows citizens to document police abuses in real-time, the myth that the benefit of the doubt should always fall on the side of the boys in blue is slowly fading away in the eyes of an increasingly cynical public. Demigod Officer Friendly has been exposed as nothing more then a mere human, prone to the same flaws the rest of the populace is prone to, yet held to a noticeably much lower standard then civilians are for their mistakes and misdeeds.

But he's fighting back.

The Rochester story (in which a woman was charged with "Obstructing Governmental Administration" for standing in her own yard and filming what she believed to be a questionable traffic stop) just took a juvenile turn:

Basking in the viral glory bestowed upon one of its officers this week, the Rochester Police Department resorted to petty retaliatory and intimidation tactics against citizens attending a community meeting Thursday afternoon.

The citizens were attending a meeting to discuss the arrest of Emily Good, the 28-year-old woman who was jailed for videotaping cops from her front yard, when they realized cops were outside issuing tickets for having parked more than 12 inches from the curb.

Know your place, citizen. Or we will give you really silly parking tickets.

I think my favorite part of this story is the police officer claiming that her recording is a "threat" to his safety because even though we never hear it on the audio, he claims she was making "anti-police" comments. Because making "anti-police" comments is all it takes to waive your rights away. I do really like that her neighbors stuck up for her (one called 911 when they perceived she was being harassed, because if for nothing else, there at least would be a record of the incident). I don't know if you would of seen the same citizen camaraderie 10 years ago.

At least she got some footage (and was able to pass her phone off to a neighbor), which is more then I can say for the Jim Tucker from The Fight Back, the reporter who last week produced the largest threat America has ever seen by trying to take a single cell phone photograph while covering a public meeting regarding the DC Taxi Commission. Reason Blogger Jim Epstein, who was also arrested when he filmed the harassment and arrest of Tucker, talks about the arrests:

About 30 minutes into the meeting, I witnessed journalist Pete Tucker snap a still photo of the proceedings on his camera phone. A few minutes later, two police officers arrested Tucker. I filmed Tucker's arrest and the audience's subsequent outrage using my cell phone.

A few minutes later, as I was attempting to leave the building, I overheard the female officer who had arrested Tucker promise a woman, who I presumed to be an employee of the Taxi Commission, that she would confiscate my phone. Reason intern Kyle Blaine, overheard her say, "Do you want his phone? I can get his phone."

But at the very least, the two reporters (I'm assuming) received their phones back in one piece. Narces Benoit's cell phone was smashed to bits after he recorded a Miami Police shootout earlier this month, which you never would have known about if he didn't act quickly to hide his SD card inside his mouth.

I could play this game all day (hey, at least Benoit wasn't charged under wiretapping laws that would throw him in prison for 16 years!). Law Enforcement really, really doesn't like it when you film them. Recording the police is now basically illegal in three states (Illinois, Massachusetts, and of course, Maryland), loosely based in wiretapping and eavesdropping laws that require two-party consent for filming. If the law isn't on their side, or if they are ignorant of the laws that are in place, officers are often able to threaten or detain citizens and confiscate their equipment with little to no recourse for violating citizen's rights - in fact, as we've seen in the past (and will more then likely see in the Rochester case) the burden is often on the citizen who, if they cannot be charged with filming the officers, will be charged under various other bullshit charges instead, which will more then likely be dropped or cost the department money when a civil case is eventually filed. But instead of training officers on conflict resolution and the legal rights of citizens in regards to record police, it appears they'd rather train officers on the dangers of OpenWatch instead. And if an increasingly skeptical public cannot obtain justice using those routes, is it any wonder that eventually, they would turn to vigilantism instead?

In reality, the attempt by law enforcement to prevent any sort of civilian documentation of their interactions of the public makes them look fairly suspect on it's own (it's almost as if they know the job tends to attract a certain type of personality that could cause problems down the road). I've often thought that all interactions between police and the public should be documented on film, as it not only protects the public from the police, but also the police against the public (dash cams in patrol cars exist for this very reason). And if there is still a segment of the population that honestly believes that the bad guys always have it coming, with or without due process, at the very least they should support these sorts of safeguards if for nothing more then the fact that corrupt law enforcement is costing the taxpayers millions in civil litigation payouts. If an officer conducts themselves with full accordance to the law (and many do), I see no reason why they wouldn't want the extra protection of filmed interactions, as a quick and false claim of assault has the potential to destroy that officer's career and rob him or her of their pension. This is an easy way to keep both the public and the police safe without violating anyone's civil rights, without any sort of vigilante actions that have the potential to expose classified information, without draining away city budgets through lawsuits. So what's the holdup at this point?

Friday, June 24, 2011

This post is 100% accurate because I say so

Is there anything more gratifying then watching a woman smack Scott Adams around? No. No there is not.

A little back story - Sock Puppet master and Dilbert creator Scott Adams, he of "arguing with women is just like arguing with four year olds and mentally handicapped folks" (because when he writes bullshit, women have the audacity to call him out on it) fame decided to pontificate of the sad sate of American males, and how they want to be all rapey and shit because that's their natural instinct but they can't because society set up the rules to favor women's natural instincts, which I guess comes down to not being rapey because he never really describes what he means by that, which means "society has evolved to keep males in a state of continuous unfulfilled urges, more commonly known as unhappiness", because they can't rape people or cheat on their wives, which is totally the same thing.

Basically what I'm taking from this post is that we should probably just chemically castrate males (his suggestion) because Scott Adams has urges to rape people. I mean, you really have to wonder about folks that argue these things as "natural instincts". To me, it's just screams "Hey, I want to do shitty things, so I'm going to assume everyone else does too BECAUSE OF TEH BIOLOGY so I can convince myself I'm not a shitty person". And no, Scott Adams, we aren't going to castrate every male just because you want to rape people. The men in my life are fine. Leave them alone and get help dude. Seriously.

Now, like pretty much all his femimist-trolling posts, the standard response here is that this is not what Scott Adams meant at all, and if your little ladybrainz would just understand Teh Logic, you would realize that he is telling it like it is, sorry about your hurt feelings and all. Yet note that he never really provides any evidence to his claim that men are all rapists, his argument is instead that rape is merely a product of horniness, men are horny, therefore they all must want to rape, they can't, so they are sad. Leaving aside obvious examples such as the use of rape as a war crime or the use of prison rape as dominance and just looking at the horniness factor - rape is not a product of "I am horny, I want this, I rape". It has an extra step - I am horny, I want this, it is for some reason denied to me, but I am for (insert reason here) entitled to this, I rape". To conflate the two (horniness/desire to rape) is just creepy, full stop. As is his notion that sex (and all gender issues) are zero sum and about "winning" and "losing", that just screams "sex is a way to dominate" to me. I'll take a detour into jackass speculation land and venture a guess that Adams probably really sucks in bed. Unless she's into it, I suppose.

But I'm not going to go too deep into his failed arguments, because Mary Elizabeth Williams covered them quite well, and pretty much the only thing he's arguing here is "But hey, wouldn't these goal posts look so much better if I moved them over here by a few hundred feet? Also too people at the HuffPo agree with me so there and women that disagree with me are crazy". It's an amusing read. It's quite amazing how quickly these fuckers fall apart and cling to their logical fallacies. Scott Adams is under the impression that those less then him can't see this. Scott Adams is wrong. I mean, the strawman is pretty much the most well-known fallacy there is, and he humps it as if his life depended on it - his latest post whining about how mean women are (no, I'm not linking to it, google it) presents a "reading comprehension test" which contains gems like this:

If I say Dutch men are the tallest in the world, which of the following facts have I implied?
  1. I'm a racist.
  2. Every Dutch man is taller than every other man.
  3. I have a low opinion of women because I didn't even mention them.
  4. None of the above

Because empirically observable traits such as height and jackass musings about the hard-wiring of men's brains being all rapey from the guy that created Dilbert are equally on par in terms of scientific validity. Yeah. So now you know what we're dealing with.

Adams is one of those guys that builds himself a shield of logic and then cowers behind it. And by that, I don't mean that he uses arguments based in logic, just that he claims his arguments are based in logic, because he's just one of those logical guys, he's a certified genius, so the only way you could possibly disagree with him is if you lack basic common sense. He's already stated that he's logical, you dig? So if you disagree, you are not. QED.

I used to see these guys quite a bit back in my Duty Calls days, they usually take the handle of "Common Sense Mike" or "Rational Thinker" or some other such nonsense*, and they are always amusing as hell because they are usually the one person on the thread that lacks those traits. And I think that's the point. There's really no reason to put that sort of label on yourself, because the quality of your argument is going to be judge based on just that - your argument. Not how awesome, realistic, or intelligent you claim you are. If you make poor arguments, sure, perhaps you do have to attempt to paint yourself as some sort of unbiased observer that's just going off of the hard cold facts. But the same people you are trying to appeal to with that sort of self-labeling are the same people that are actually going to judge you based on the content you provide. If you are awesome, realistic, intelligent, a rational thinker, or someone chock full o'common sense, well, that's going to come out based in the arguments that you make, isn't it? And if not, that label isn't going to convince anyone otherwise.

I actually take these sorts of labels as a warning sign at this point.

*I feel the same way about people that claim political labels such as "Independent" (sorry mom), "Moderate" or "Centrist". A buddy of mine still has my favorite political label on the Facebook - it simple says "Partisan". And I'll trust his viewpoint over most "independents" any day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

They also replaced your coffee with Folgers


U.S. Sen. John McCain is blaming illegal immigrants for starting some of the wildfires that have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres in Arizona.

"There is substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally," McCain, R-Arizona, said Saturday at a press conference. "The answer to that part of the problem is to get a secure border."The Arizona senator, however, did not say what the evidence is, prompting a swift rebuke from Latino civil rights advocates.

Illegals! Is there anything they can't do?

McCain said that illegal immigrants set such fires either to send signals,

Because when you are sneaking into a country, the best thing to do is use a bonfire to signal to other folks that you are sneaking into a country.

keep warm

Because Arizona is freezing in June, y'all. Freezing.

or distract law enforcement agents.

You'd think this conflicts with the above charge that the fires are being used to signal others, but it doesn't. See, when they are signaling others, the smoke is in Spanish. English is used to distract. Ha ha, stupid gringos.

This dude really needs to retire.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Unicorns gather in Minneapolis to move forward with "Operation Annoy Obama" plan

So, Netroots Nation 2011 in Minneapolis this past weekend, and I had that 4th of July feeling when you don't go see the fireworks because it's just silly and not worth the hassle but then come ten o'clock you hear them going off and you feel kind of sad in a way even though you know it's silly and kind of a hassle but you still get that urge to run out and maybe you can just see a few but you know you won't make it in time anyway so you just get drunk and eat macaroni instead and the feeling eventually passes.

It's not like I really missed anything other then the opportunity to throw shit at Andy Breitbart ("Right Online 2011" was also in Minneapolis at the same time), because the videos are starting to come out, and from the few I've watched, can I just say I wasn't very impressed with (Angry Mouse) Kaili Joy Gray's interview with White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer like everyone else seems to be?

Not that there weren't good parts, or that I could do any better (I'd be hiding under the table passing him notes, because that's how I roll) but I sensed a chance to really set the whole DFH bashing straight and I feel like it was missed. Like I've said in the past, I feel one of the major problems between this White House and the Netroots is that the actual arguments aren't really being taken seriously and instead subject to strawman arguments - it's "the Left", and we know how they are.

For example, when Gray touches on the tenancy for Democrats to cave on liberal values in response to Republican obstructionism, she brings up the Hyde Amendment in regards to Health Care reform. At which Pfeiffer goes into lecture mode and says simply - it wouldn't pass. Bipartisanship, bitches. It's all about compromise, don't you silly little kids know that? You can't always get what you want.

Well, for one, what's not touched on here is that the major stumbling block was a Democrat in the Senate - Ben Nelson. You know, one of those guys that we had to bite our tongues and support back in the aughts because Howard Dean's liberal utopia is so close, guys, and if you ladyfolks would just shut the fuck up about your rights and shit, everything would just be peachy? That worked out really well for us.

This does highlight a problem within the Democratic Party. You know why Republicans tend to vote in lockstep with each other? Because if they don't, their asses are in trouble, and they know it. And although they do it to excess, which I'm not advocating, I do believe there are certain issues that the party should be united on. And Health Care is a major one, it seems like a no-brainer to me. Instead, Democrats have become the party of "Not Republicans", which allows every single drama queen in congress to steal the spotlight and obstruct their own party's legislation. This is a problem. Any "Democrat" that honestly tried to derail Health Care reform should seriously have their committee memberships reviewed.

But rambling on that aside, the I probably wouldn't of brought up Hyde. What I would bring up is the Public Option. Because that, my friends, is where Democrats really screwed the pooch. And it is a solid example of where the White House is, deliberately or not, strawmanning the arguments surrounding it, and offering up this idiotic "bipartisan" lecture as an excuse. Oh, those whiny leftists, they won't take anything but a plan with a public option in it, they will end up tanking the whole project, they are so unreasonable.

Except that's not really why people are upset about it. I'd argue that although it was a desired outcome in many circles, most liberals never really believed we would have a single-payer system in health care after this legislation was passed. Instead, it's because it was never considered. Never on the table. Didn't exist. And for those of us that are understanding of the need to compromise, this never made sense. The White House gave away what was probably the best bargaining chip we had in the Health Care debate, for nothing.

Perhaps they have good reasons. I suppose, if the Public Option was seriously considered in the Health Care debate, it would have caused the Republicans to don funny hats and run around that summer screaming about socialism.

Oh wait.

And I think that's what the Dirty Fucking Hippies are really upset about. It's not a matter of them stomping their feet and holding their breath until they get what they want. It's that what they want doesn't currently even exist in the debate. They don't currently exist in the debate. And they should - starting negotiations absent solidly liberal input is a bad idea for a number of reasons, the whole "deficit" fetish when the middle class is desperately gasping to stay afloat should provide a solid example as to why.

"The Left" exists for a reason, and Democrats would do well to pay them a bit more heed; they present a starting point for compromise. Real compromise covers everyone, it starts with extremes and settles in the middle. As it stands now, the only debate we have in this country is between the center left and the extreme right.

Want to take a guess as to where the "compromise" is always going to land within this nice little frame we've created?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I know I shouldn't go for the low-hanging fruit like this...

But it's just too easy.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

That is all.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Jesus and John Galt fistfight in Hell

The religious right is starting to catch onto fact that they are being suckered for political gain, and the ensuing slap fight is amusing:

GOP leaders and conservative pundits have brought upon themselves a crisis of values. Many who for years have been the loudest voices invoking the language of faith and moral values are now praising the atheist philosopher Ayn Rand whose teachings stand in direct contradiction to the Bible. Rand advocates a law of selfishness over love and commands her followers to think only of themselves, not others. She said her followers had to choose between Jesus and her teachings.

GOP leaders want to argue that they are defending Christian principles. But, at the same time, Rep. Paul Ryan (author of the GOP budget) is posting facebook videos praising Rand's morality and saying hers is the "kind of thinking that is sorely needed right now." Simply put, Paul Ryan can't have it both ways, and neither can Christians. As conservative evangelical icon Chuck Colson recently stated, Christians can not support Rand's philosophy and Christ's teachings. The choice is simple: Ayn Rand or Jesus Christ. We must choose one and forsake the other.

I was wondering when Rand's militant atheism would become a public relations problem with the social conservatives. Not that this whole "Jesus is love" vs "Fuck you, I got mine" divide wasn't glaringly obvious to anyone that wasn't a hardcore tribal partisan to begin with, but this recent group humping of Ayn Rand's dead corpse is really exaggerating it lately.

Of course, the boilerplate response to this by right wingers is that it's unfair to point out that their purported moral values and their ideology completely contradict each other, because while Jesus was totally about the whole caring for the less fortunate thing and not so much on the protecting massive amounts of wealth that is being hoarded by the few thing, he would never advocate for "forced charity" via taxation for things like social safety nets. We know this because he dined with tax collectors and prostitutes, and while one would assume that he was doing so to save them, he was really only interested in saving the prostitutes and just like to hang out and talk commodity futures with the tax collecters, because shut up, that's why. Bottom line - Jesus never attempted to coerce or force people to be charitable like the government does.

Aside from that whole "accept my teachings or burn in eternal hellfire" thing, I suppose.

Personally, I think being presented with the threat of never-ending fiery-pitchfork torture could coerce a motherfucker into coughing up some quarters for the needy once in a while - for the true believers, it really comes down to a question of eternal hellfire or being "forced" to pay for food for poor kids, right? I mean, sure, you can whine about societal leeches or theft by government, but when compared to damnation? God isn't fucking around, and I just feel like getting on his bad side would pretty much trump any other concerns one would have.

Unless of course, you don't actually believe in that nonsense and are merely using it keep the rubes at the polls to vote you into office, so you can continue giving out handsome payouts to your wealthy business buddies at the expense of everyone else.

In that case, yes, the IRS is probably worse.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Bachmann: 1 Pawlenty: 0 Minnesota: Zzzzzzz...

Hold on to your hats kiddos, because it is so fucking on
On Tuesday, ThinkProgress Health reported on Tim Pawlenty's past flirtation with enacting universal coverage by mandating insurance, expanding Medicaid and reforming the health care system. During a November 11, 2006 health care forum, Pawlenty — fresh off a close election victory for his second term — said his administration has been "studying very diligently the Massachusetts model about how that would apply to Minnesota" and pledged to "move in stages" toward "universal coverage." "Everyone should be in a health plan of some sort…but I think as a goal we should start with covering all kids," he said.
Yesterday, the other potential presidential candidate from Minnesota — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) — criticized Pawlenty for his 2006 remarks:
"I think it will concern the voters," she told conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham….Bachmann said that it's important to have candidates who have been consistent on issues like healthcare reform, saying she has been consistent in opposing President Obama's healthcare law.
A fine example of the climatic Minnesota bitch-slap. Bachmann isn't a hater; she's just concerned about the voters, you see.  
It's going to be so awesome watching these two concern-troll each other to death over the summer. No one does passive-aggressiveness better then Minnesotans. No one.   

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fight the real enemy

I have to admit to watching John King's interview with Michele Bachmann on CNN a few nights ago. I was just flipping through channels, and had to stop because I noticed Bachmann didn't look as insane as she normally does (which kind of worried me, I'd like to keep my Bachmann appearing crazy as hell), but Mr. Stacy assures me that it's only because she wasn't smiling as much.

But Bachmann's mental health is not the point of this post. Naturally, since the most astute commentators on the Israel/Palestine situation are always pious christian right-wing republicans, the topic came up. And Bachmann, well versed in her culture war talking points, had plenty to say about Obama's statements on Israel last week:

BACHMANN: We are looking at unprecedented unrest in the Middle East. I completely stand in opposition to what President Obama's remarks were last week regarding Israel, saying that Israel must shrink borders to 1967 borders and to allow a passageway for Palestine -- that would be the wrong thing to do. It would bring greater hostility to the Middle East.

KING: That's not exactly what he said. He did say with mutually agreed to -- mutually negotiated land swaps. Now, it is very rare for any president of the United States, of course, to use the term 1967 borders. However, he did say and clarified it in the AIPAC speech that just as they had a plan in the table late in the Clinton administration, you essentially go back to 1967, but then you negotiate land swaps. Israel says --

BACHMANN: John, you can defend, you can stand here and defend the president's remarks. I will not defend the president's remarks.

KING: I'm not defending. I'm not explaining*.

So now apparently pointing out what a Democratic politician actually said on the record instead of just letting your right-wing guest straight-up lie about it is "defending" his or her remarks, and if you dare question that, you are not to be trusted.(CNN transcript via RealClearPolitics, but I'm pretty sure King said "I'm not defending, I'm explaining". Could be wrong on that though)

Meanwhile, Republicans are still getting the vapors over the fact that Democrats, the "liberal media", and basically pretty much everyone else in the country are interpreting Paul Ryan's budget plan as a plan that does away with Medicare completely in order to give the wealthy more tax breaks, which is totally unfair because all his plan really does is do away with Medicare completely in order to give the wealthy tax breaks, and hey, he's calling those vouchers that won't come close to covering the health care costs for the elderly "Medicare", so obviously, this is a partisan attack. Stop being so mean, liberals.

So now apparently pointing out what an unpopular Republican-proposed policy actually does instead of just letting right-wingers just piss on your leg and call it rain is the worst partisan attack ever.

And of course the cruelest people of all are gay people that go around being all gay and shit, instead of being properly shamed into never showing their faces anywhere but gay clubs (which should be underground and unnoticed, thankyouverymuch).

So now apparently choosing to exist despite strict authoritan rules that Republicans have so nicely laid out for society in order to protect the feelings of bigots is the worst partisan attack ever.

And then there's Caribou Barbie, who still has a major bug up her ass about how the media was so mean to ask her questions and all, enough so that she has to plan a secret bus tour as a big "FUCK YOU" to the press because this one time? Katie Couric asked her what newspapers she reads?

So now apparently asking softball questions that your conservative demigod is too stupid to answer is the worst partisan attack ever.

For a group of folks who are constantly screaming about "PC Culture" and "censorship" because they can't use racial slurs anymore, they sure get some major butthurt over some silly (perceived) slights, don't they?

Too bad for us the media is completely willing to run with it. "A Republican was outraged over some clouds in the sky! More at 11".