Thursday, April 28, 2011

Damn you and your awesomeness, Rick Perlstein.

So I've been puttering around with a blog post this week regarding the alternate reality that the Republicans seem to live in these days. Felt this one was important, did a shit-ton of research on it, was preparing to publish it to all five of my readers this weekend. Even thought about throwing it up on Newsvine, just for funsies (and because lately, I just feel like a fight).

Basically my main point was regarding the failure of our current news outlets to keep the public informed on relevant issues, which I chalk up to this bizarre obsession with being "objective", which inevitably leads to a failure to report facts, as they increasingly have a liberal bias and the potential to hurt feelings. Ever since Richard Nixon decided that the media was (a) liberal and (b) elitist, there's been a strong pattern of media-folks choosing to run from the truth if it benefits a liberal mindset. And from this we get this idea that "both" sides need to be presented, even it one side is working off of nothing but fumes.

It is under this sort of media climate that moronic conspiracies are allowed to flourish, every crank has some sort of legitimacy now, in the name of fairness, and America has become stupider for it (and sweet flying spaghetti monster, given the signs we already have, is this summer of stupid going to be painful to watch or what?). Although people may argue otherwise, partisanship in of itself isn't the problem (partisan publications have always thrived here in America, and I'd argue the phenomenon was worse in the past). No, the problem began when we decided that partisanship and "bias" was polluting our media, and that an effort must be made to counteract it. Not that it isn't a noble goal - just that, and this is an echo here; the ideal of it cannot possibly exist (even choosing what stories to run with will show bias). We cannot possibly hope to fully eradicate this from our reporting, so why not be honest about it?

But instead, we have partisanship masking itself as objectivity, facts are not facts anymore, we exist in a realm where the only thing that matters is how convincing the opinion you present is. And all opinions, no matter what, need to be given the same gravitas. Which is why we now have "debates" on global warming pitting a climate scientist against the local leader of the Tea Party with little to no fact-checking involved - we "report", you decide.

People, it was going to be awesome. And seriously, the thing was pretty much a novel at this point (I was in the final stages of narrowing the typical rambling down). But guess what? Rick Perlstein, whose works I relied on heavily for my research, decided to beat me to it. So DAMN YOU RICK PERLSTEIN GET OUT OF MY HEAD

I kid, I kid. He's a hell of a lot smarter and well-researched in this area then I could ever hope to be. So seriously, go. Read. Like all things Perlstein, it's a little long, but well worth it.

I would have liked a bit more discussion on how the internet plays into the phenomenon today (these days any crank can raise an army of followers, and the way the media plays it now, the amount of truth in a statement is based in the amount of people that believe it). But Perlstein has always had a gift for looking at the past for answers, this insane idea that history is relevant in how we understand our society today, and he lays out a strong case for how things got to be as bad as they are.

Everything in our current political discourse traces back to Nixon. Did you know that?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Think you got away with something boy well, see his hand and feel his staff

In honor of Zombie Jesus Day, I give you the most bad-ass Christians ever.

I think I can say with confidence that is was this band that made me realize that the genre of "country" doesn't actually have to suck.

And also - not that it matters to me (because it's just the music that matters, man!), but there actually is good "Christian" music to be found, so long as you aren't looking under the cheap marketing label of "Christian Music".

16 Horsepower
Secret South

Friday, April 22, 2011

I guess the only logical conclusion is that I'm a dude

Doop-de-doo, surfin' the internets. Wonder what magical things I'll find on the inter...OH MY GOD WHAT SORT OF PAGE-VIEW WHORING FUCKERY IS THIS

I'd rather my man paid for sex than had an affair... a deeply provocative but thought-provoking confession

Thank god she tells us that it's gonna be deeply provocative but thought-provoking right off the bat. I mean, at first, I was like, dude, this doesn't seem very provocative or provoking at all (good lord, does the daily mail not have editors?) but then I scrolled back up, and I was all, Oh! My bad, it's totally provocative and provoking. Know how I know? Says so in the title.

I’m not here to debate whether or not the rich and famous should be able to keep some vestiges of their lives private. But I am here to say something quite controversial.

Yeah, I got that from the disclaimer in your title. Let's just get to it, lady. I don't have all day. What scandalous, internets-shaking revelation do you have for us? I'm quaking with anticipation.

I believe that sex with a prostitute doesn’t really, in the greater scheme of things, matter one jot.

Oh. Well... I mean, oh.

Yes, of course it’s seedy, it’s exploitative, demeaning and risky healthwise, but as far as damage to a relationship goes, I believe an affair is so much worse than your husband sleeping with a prostitute.

Because really, what's worse then finding out that not only does your husband see women as disposable cum-dumpsters to be purchased for his sexual enjoyment, but you also have herpes because he straight up lied about that whole "we don't need protection if we're monogamous, baby!"?

I'll tell you. It's that he might actually see women as people he could form an actual relationship with.

An affair means he loves someone else more than he loves you. An affair means a man is intimate with another woman — and by this I don’t mean sex. They read together in bed, they share poetry, they giggle and they talk. They share memories.

I mean, it's not the sex, or the deceit, it's that he might actually like and respect the person he's fucking. THE HORROR

I am now going to write something that will enrage feminists the world over, and provoke an outraged backlash in the columns of online feminist website Jezebel

Ha ha feminists, she's totally tied your hands here. It's kind of like when I was talking to my buddy the other day, and I told him that I was about to punch him in the face and it would totally piss him off, and so I punched him in the face, and he was like, totally pissed off, but I was all "Ha! You have fallen into my trap. I already said you'd get pissed off if I punched you in the face, and you did. Therefore, your point about how shitty it was for me to hit you is irrelevant".

It's the best logic ever.

(which already has an entire section that monitors me, entitled Keeping Up With Jones).

So I figured, shit, I need some page views. Why don't I post a bunch of nonsense since I know I'm guaranteed to be linked to by Jezebel? Dolla dolla bills y'all.

What I have to say makes a mockery of all those glossy magazine features telling us how to ‘get that multiple orgasm’.

I'd say most people over the age of say, 15 are in agreement that those magazines already make a pretty good mockery of themselves, but okay.

I don’t believe women are like characters in Sex And The City.

Yeah! Take that, feminists! In your face! In your face!

We don’t shout and writhe and pursue sex as heartily and relentlessly as men do. It does not occupy our every waking moment.

She may have a point here. I honestly don't know any women whose mad writhing skills gets them laid on a regular basis.

The truth is: we don’t really enjoy sex that much.

Wait, what?

And we definitely don’t want sex as often as men do. That is a cold, hard fact.

I see what you did there.

And women most definitely, incontrovertibly, do not want sex once they have children

Which is why everyone only has one kid.

or so my friends who have children confess to me.

My friends agree with me. QED, motherfuckers.

Particularly once their stomachs develop a texture akin to cold porridge.

So in other words, women's body issues, which could be argued are brought about by statements on Daily Mail articles (and, you know, pretty much the whole of entertainment media) about how hideous they are after they give birth, may just interfere with their sex drive because they are too self-conscious about what a hideous cow they apparently are to be comfortable enough in their own skin to just enjoy the experience. Perhaps if we didn't promote such strict beauty standards for women, this would help with the problem.

Naw, how silly. Let's just assume that all women just don't like sex, instead.

The only reason we do have sex is to get a man, keep a man, steal his sperm and flatter ourselves that we are attractive.

Holy shit.

Once we have a man, his children, his name on a piece of paper, his youth and his house, we no longer want to indulge in that ridiculous, time-consuming, horizontal dance.

Also, the only reason there's a successful market for vibrators is because women often mistake them for bowling trophies and/or dog toys.

the millions of dishonest features in magazines like Cosmopolitan, have misled us.

Oh. My. God. Are you telling me, actually telling me, that it's not all about the taint? My life has been a lie.

We are not equal to men when it comes to libido. We grow up.

Unlike men, who apparently stay as idiot children.

I really can't understand why this woman's marriage fell through.

We have other priorities.

Like trolling Jezebel.

Sex slips onto a backburner, sliding to the bottom of an almost endless list of things to do that day.

Which might indicate that lower sex drives among women may be due to social conditions such as the lack of shared labor in things like child-rearing or homemaking which can tire a person out after also working a 40 hour week, as opposed to something innate in the female gender that dislikes sexual activity. But you know, let's not even consider that. It's not like there's a shit ton or research out there showing that yes, that's exactly the problem or anything.

It would be easy to write here that what women want, and enjoy, is the relationship — the love, companionship and closeness.

But I choose instead to take the more difficult road, like re-hashing tired themes about how women are frigid and men are animals, which just so happen to be common entertainment-fodder in sitcoms and link-baiting "articles".

Most of my friends find the men in their lives a mere annoyance to be hovered over, bossed, and moved around as we Hoover under their giant feet.

Well, I'm glad we are using them as a representative sample to prove the theory that women don't like sex, then.

When I used to creep upstairs to surprise my then-husband in his office, just so I could catch him watching porn and tell him off

Yeah. Really can't figure out what went wrong in this relationship here. I'm almost starting to feel bad for the guy.

he explained his compulsion thus: ‘Sex to men is like going to the lavatory. We have to do it.’

Okay, maybe not.

Well, charming. And not very romantic. But true.

Well then. I didn't realize that was so convincing, but if it is I'm totally using that logic when I inevitably get interventioned. "Drinking whiskey to me is like going to the lavatory. I have to do it. BECAUSE OF THE BIOLOGY."

I’d got married thinking this was it. It was going to be perfect: it was real love.

Real love = I slept with you before we got married in order to dupe you into marrying me. Now move your goddamned giant feet so I can Hoover around them, my darling yet incredibly infantile and stupid husband. Then read some poetry with me so I know you don't think I'm a hooker.

I would never dream of cheating on a man, not even with an indiscreet text message, a thought or a daydream.

Really? Yeah, got to call bullshit on that one. If thoughts and daydreams are cheating, I'm the whore of Babylon. Just sayin'.

I considered men who did so to be disgusting, weak, disloyal, dirty and disease- ridden. The truth is, they are just being men.

And I'm sure your outright hatred of men has nothing to do with your lack of desire to fuck them.

My husband admitted openly — in fact, wrote about it in his novel — that he had slept with a prostitute before we met. I found his candour refreshing, and I have to say that I found his high sex drive a turn-on, at first. Later, after a 12-hour day in the office, I found it annoying; yet another chore to be ticked off along with emptying the dishwasher.

Jesus woman. The correct answer is staring at you right. in. the. face.

He wrote to her in the exact same way he used to write to me, with lots of lower case kisses. Going through his wallet (I became crazy once I suspected he was fond of this one), I came across her passport photo. He stuck up for her, when he should have been sticking up for me.

And I was all, god damn you, I totally used to sleep with you, so now I own you for purposes of stealing your sperm and making me feel pretty. How dare you act like you still have some sort of free will that can reject the fulfillment I bring to your life?

I became obsessed with her. I went to her place of work in Manhattan, wanting to confront her (luckily, she was on holiday).

I would have confronted him, since he was the one that was, you know, lying and cheating on me, but hey - idiot child, remember? Poor thing can't help himself. And obviously, since women don't like sex all that much, this woman's goal was only to fuck me over. She must be destroyed.

I followed her on Facebook.

Facebook! For all your stalking needs.

I have a friend who works in book publishing. After the birth of her first child, the depression she had suffered on and off, since a teenager, returned with a vengeance. She kept on top of work, but she failed to keep on top of her husband — a nerdy chap who is a teacher in a tough, inner-city school.

I realize that their careers are not at all relevant to my point, but I had a word quota I needed to reach.

I decided to do some more research into the subject of men who stray. I asked seven of my girlfriends all of whom are either married or living with a man, when was the last time they had had sex.

Wow, seven of them this time?


One , a mum-of-four in her mid-40s, said she hadn’t had sex since her last child, who is now three, was born. She told me, laughing, that her husband had asked if they could go on a tantric sex weekend, and she had responded with a tart ‘**** off’.

I'd probably respond the same way. But that's more because of the "tantric" then the "sex" part that would do it. Because we can't all be Sting.

Another said she couldn’t remember when she had last done it with her husband.

Stop drinking?

Another said that she and her boyfriend had stopped having sex years ago, and it was only when, in tears, he threatened to leave her, that they broached the subject. He told her he felt ‘like we are best friends, or brother and sister, rather than lovers’.

Who... who does this? I'm not going to say I've never been in a rut, everyone has, but years? And you didn't talk about it at all? For years?

She told him she felt too overweight and unattractive to do it, and found, to her surprise, that he didn’t really care how she looked: he wanted, needed, to do it anyway. Once again, here was a woman who had bought into the fiction that we have to look perfect to be attractive to a man in bed.

Gosh, maybe that has something to do with the lack of sex rather then some mysterious gender-linked trait inherent in all women.

Each woman I spoke to said they put their children before their husband. Only one told me she tried to be as nice to her husband as she is to her female friends. So, what is a man to do?

Run far, far away from this woman and her friends.

Maybe, just maybe, they don’t want another relationship, to fall in love, because they don’t want to lose us, or their children, or their home.

Aw, poor things. Better to just stay together and cheat on your partner because dieing alone is scary.

(They probably don’t want another relationship where they are monitored within an inch of their lives, either.)

Gee, do you think that's why your own relationship... you know what? I can't do it anymore, guys, I just can't.

Yet I know women who don’t even want their men to fantasise, inside their own heads, about anyone other than them. It’s ridiculous.

But when I claim with a straight face that women like me don't fantasize because we are not "disgusting, weak, disloyal, dirty" beings like men, that's completely reasonable.

It’s a lie; our own perfect domestic fantasy that doesn’t exist except in books and movies.

And I'm just going to stop there, because the last few paragraphs are just about how she found out her dad watched a porn but her parent's marriage lasted 60 years anyhow because her mom was fine with it and she feels that was too forgiving even though she's pretty much spent the entire article making excuses as to why you should let your SO use alternative sexual outlets because men are uncontrollable animals and women should just get over that because they don't like sex anyway and to sum up, I really have no idea what point she's trying to make, perhaps it's "My marriage ended and I'm miserable here's some advice to sink your marriage too so I can pretend that this isn't somehow the fault of me or my ex but something that was out of my control plus I need more "friends" that are all bitter and hate men and sex for my "research" for my articles in the Daily Mail so I can write more "provocative" articles and troll Jezebel for page views".

I'd actually feel kind of bad for her if she wasn't trying to push her own relationship problems on the entire female gender instead of accepting who she is as an individual. What's odd is that she actually does stumble on some good points when it comes to why relationships fail - a lack of an equal division of labor, body issues, a naive notion of what love and attraction actually is, and ironically enough, the damage done by the idea that you can wholly possess a person, to the point where you police even their inner thoughts and desires.

And I have to wonder if that's not what's really freaking her out when it comes to the prostitute/willing affair aspect of this. If sex is nothing more then a commodity, to be purchased with money or the promise of marital commitment, then it is subject to control. But no matter what you do, not matter what factors you control for, you can never force someone to love you the most. Buying your partner some prostitutes isn't going to change that.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Your yearly reminder: Easter and Bunnies do not mix

As most of us know, Easter is this weekend. A time of Easter egg hunts, ham, little chocolate smeared little white dresses, awkward family dinners with your devoutly Christian in-laws, and a growing stockpile of those Jellybeans that no one likes. But there is a darker side of this celebration, one that is rarely mentioned in the mix of all the merry-making and doesn't manifest itself until quite a few months after that joyous day. I am referring to the tradition of the thousands of bunnies that will be purchased for this day and then forgotten soon after.

Sure, they are quite the gift on an Easter morning. The squeals of the kids while surrounding a tiny little fluffball of fur with only two large ears and two beady eyes sticking out makes it a memorable day. And baby bunnies can't help but make great photo ops with your young ones while wearing their Easter best. But what happens after Easter? When the novelty wears off, and the kids are more interested in the latest game for their Wii than with their Easter present? What happens when the care becomes a hassle, or when the fluffy coat of youth fades and that tiny ball of fluff and cuteness is suddenly a five pound gnawing machine that refuses to sleep through the night, and feels that you have no right to sleep either? Will your bunny then meet the fate that so many other Easter bunnies have met before? Will he end up sitting in rabbit hutch in the garage, or in a shelter or rescue home, unloved, bored and forgotten by his former family? Will you set him "free", not realizing that a domesticated rabbit doesn't stand a chance against the elements?

Many people purchase rabbits without realizing the responsibility that comes with them. Being that rabbits are usually seen as hutch animals, we tend to feel their responsibility is equal to that of purchasing pets from the rodent family. However, while many rodents can be perfectly happy never leaving the confines of their cages or interacting with people and other pets, a rabbit never will be. Rabbits are intelligent and inquisitive animals that require physical activity to stretch their legs as often as possible. To keep them in a hutch for the majority of the day, let alone their life is close to animal abuse. Not only is a dull and joyless existence, it can create health problems for the rabbits as well. A rabbit hutch should be utilized much in the same manner as a dog kennel would be, the more time spent outside of it and interacting with a larger environment, the better it is for bunny.

Rabbits are not the type of animal where you can just fill up a food dish every couple of days and forget about it. The digestive system of rabbits is very delicate, and a healthy diet is necessary. This means fresh fruit and veggies along with the normal rabbit pellets and what is probably the most important staple of the bunny diet – hay. Hay needs to be provided at all times for rabbits to munch on throughout the day, otherwise their digestive systems will break down. This means hay in the cage, hay in the litter box, hay scattered about the play area, lots and lots of hay. Seriously, you've never seen so much hay.

Having second thoughts yet? Sounding like a bit more work then you expected? Well, that's only part of it. So before you daydream about how cute little Sally or Billy will be while holding that baby bunny on Easter morning, consider what you are actually getting into. From my own experience, I can tell you that:

Your house will never be clean again. Yes, you can train rabbits to use a litter box, but rabbits also use droppings to mark territory, and you will be greeted to a stray pile of rabbit pellets on a daily basis. Hay will be everywhere, because rabbits have a knack for interior design and love to throw hay around almost as much as they enjoy nibbling on it.

An unprepared owner can kiss their baseboards, windowsills, and another woodwork they have in thier home goodbye. It only takes a second to rip a nice chunk of wood out from the wall in an area that has not been "bunny-proofed". Not to say that this is a good reason to never let your bunny out of it's cage, it's really not the fault of the rabbit if you designate it's home to be right next to Grandma's old china hutch.

Your friends will not borrow you books. Staring at a bookcase contained with books with corners gnawed off, missing pages and covers, and shredded paper tucked in the corners sends up a red flag for any book lover, and if you think for a second they are going to put their first edition Great Gatsby in jeopardy, think again.

Carpet? Not anymore! Not only do rabbits love to dig up carpet, they eat it as well, which has a nasty habit of making them very ill, to the point where it can kill them. And while you're at it, take care to cover all those electrical cords with tubing, otherwise you'll have nothing to watch in your living room but an electrocuted bunny. And I doubt he's going to do much.

Now, don't get me wrong, although a good buddy of mine calls them "the most evil animal ever to exist on this earth", rabbits are actually awesome animals that can make great companions. I never regretted owning mine and would like to own one again someday. You'd be amazed at how quickly these guys just hop into your life and your heart. If you have the time, space, and love for a rabbit they will never stop making you laugh with their antics, from playing "I stole your underwear, catch me!" in front of guests, to dancing like no one is watching by jumping five feet up in the air and flailing every available limb, to lovingly grooming you while you read the newspaper (after deciding that the editorials are much better eaten than read). Every rabbit is different, some love to play constantly, some love to cuddle and get pets, some love to attack my dad's feet, and some like to make sweet, sweet love to the cat. They all have their own unique quirks. If you are up to the task, you will not be disappointed, and will probably be surprised by the bond you can have with these often-underestimated animals.

But it is important to stress around Easter time that rabbits are not an easy pet, a hassle free pet, a cage bound pet, nor are they a great first pet that can be discarded in a few years. Think less "hamster" and more "puppy". Many people underestimate the lifespan of a rabbit, in reality; you are looking at a 10 year commitment. Rabbits also need more social interaction with their humans than most cage-bound rodents, they need love, attention, and lots of playtime with their human friends to keep them happy and healthy.

So if this scare tactic has worked, and you are now wondering if this might not be the right time for a bunny in your life, then make the compromise that works out the best for your family – bring home a chocolate bunny instead. These bunnies require much less work, no ten year commitment, and are still adorable next to your tot on Easter morning.

More: House Rabbit Society

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

MN Republicans hard at work to increase rate of overdoses, abortions for teens

More anti-choice bills this week coming from the Minnesota State Legislature. That's 12 and counting, necessary because you know, jobs. None will pass, of course (I actually wonder if most of them would come up at all if the state didn't have a veto-ready democratic governor at their disposal). But you really have to question the sanity of people that support things like this:

A GOP proposal in Minnesota would require parental consent before minors could seek treatment for pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases or drug and alcohol abuse, undoing a 40-year-old law that lets minors see doctors without a parent's knowledge.

Such a change would set Minnesota apart from most other states, according to one group that tracks sexual and reproductive health issues. And opponents warn the measure could prevent some young people from seeking care because they're embarrassed or afraid to talk to their parents about their situation.

Naturally, they have an "exception" for cases of abuse so long as it gets the okay of a judge, because what you really want to do when you are a teenager being sexually abused by a family member on a regular basis is go through a bunch of legal bullshit so they can judge you to figure out if you are being honest or are just a lying whore. But perhaps I'm just being over-dramatic, I'm sure those kids will be just fine in the magical fairy land that Republicans inhabit where bad things only happen to bad people therefore real victims would never fall through the cracks and be fucked over by the legal system.

Even setting aside sexual abuse, this is just a bad idea, straight up. There are kids that will do anything to keep things from their parents. I remember once back when I was a young'un, and a couple of my girlfriends attended a concert downtown (I was not allowed to go). Long story short, they missed their ride home, and ended up stranded downtown. They were young, they were from the suburbs, and it was way, way past their bedtime at this point. They were essentially an assault/robbery/kidnapping report just waiting to be written. The first girl called her mom for a ride, who told her it was basically her problem. So no help there. She then begged the second girl to call her mother for a ride. The girl refused. Would not do it (apparently had told her mother she was sleeping over at a friends house, not at a concert downtown). Would rather spend the night wandering around or sleeping in a part of the city that neither was familiar with or felt safe in. There was nothing the first girl could do to convince her otherwise.*

And, although this seemed like a really big deal at the time, it is really nothing compared to issues like reproductive health or substance abuse. Point being, if your kid doesn't want to share these things with you, there is no power on earth that will make them. And the point they will go to to avoid that, to the point of putting themselves in danger, cannot be ignored. So when it comes to issues that can cause real danger to them, it's time to drop the PollyAnna act and deal with the reality, because I promise you, no matter how horrible it is to have your ideal world-view shattered, it is nothing compared to having real harm befall your child.

If your kid isn't telling you about the need for reproductive or mental health services, there is probably a reason why. And it probably has nothing to do with your kid, or evil liberals, or over-reaching government or any other boogeyman you can conjure up to absolve your own complicity in the manner. No, if your kid is too scared to come to you with these sorts of things, there is only one person to point the finger at, and that person is you.

Made the mistake of reading some of the comments on that pioneer press article, and it really only confirmed my suspicions. A lot of pseudo-righteous grandstanding from the usual suspects, talking about how parents have to "put the fear of god" in their kids and they will magically stop "having sex like rabbits" or that anyone that doesn't support these sorts of parental consent laws have "failed as a parent" and that maybe these "punishments" of disease or suicide will "scare" the kids straight. The sad irony is that the kids of the folks like this, the people that honestly feel like they own their kids as if they were fucking property (the rights of teenagers really are the last civil rights battle, aren't they? Yet no one touches it) and rule their families with a draconian fist, are the kids that will be hurt the most by laws like this. In short, people don't support these laws because they are bad parents and feel their kids might need to go under their parental radar. The concern is that *you* are a bad parent, and *your* kid will probably need to go under the parental radar, because you are an idiot that would disown or abuse your own kids because they've sufficiently failed at absorbing the "fear of god" in your rose-color-glasses-wearing eyes.

And your kids know it. And that is why these things are necessary, because we care little about you and your precious, unattainable ideals - we care about your kids, and who they can turn to when your sanctimony, and your cluelessness and your apparently eager desire to trade your kid's life away in order to preserve your precious, self-righteous posturing starts to have serious consequences in their lives.

I'm sure you don't see it that way. But that's the reality, folks.

*You know what they did? They ended up calling my mom. Who went and picked them up, because of course she went and picked them up. Because unlike some of these other fools, my mom is awesome, and has enough wisdom to know that sometimes kids fuck up, and sometimes they need outside help. Didn't stop her from basically calling them stupid on the ride home though.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Motherfucking Libertarians on a Motherfucking Train

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." (via)
I honestly meant to have this up on Friday so that it would coincide with the release of the Atlas Shrugged movie and I could be all "Go me I'm so relevant and timely" but whenever I spend time and think about all things regarding libertarianism my eyes start to glaze over and I either start drinking or go take a nap, so there's that.

Anyway, the long awaited release of "Atlas Shugged: You've read the book, now let me bore the hell out of you by making you watch actors struggle with my incredibly bad dialogue that makes it appear I've never had an actual conversation with a fellow human being" was today Friday. Actually, just the first part of what is supposed to be a trilogy. Based on initial reviews, we may never see the completion of that trilogy, which is a shame, because I was really looking forward to "John Galt's speech, the musical!" in the upcoming years.

They probably would of been better off just remaking "The Fountainhead". Atlas was basically written because Ayn Rand honestly believed that everyone but her is a moron, and thus had to drag out The Fountainhead's message and repeat it over and over and over and over again. And over again. And shame on the director, because really guys, the first part of that book should be easy. It's just trains and fucking and thumbing noses at evil politicians, and really, who doesn't like trains and fucking and thumbing noses at evil politicians? But it sounds like they even managed to mess that up.

But I can't honestly say I'm too upset with the massive fail this movie is drowning itself in, because could you imagine if it was a hit? Since ACORN elected that socialist Kenyan dictator into office and the Tea Party Patriots bravely donned funny hats to save America, John Galt is all the rage. I honestly don't think I could take any more Very Serious discussions about how we have to bravely drop Grandma from Medicare in order to give the wealthy larger tax cuts in the name of patriotism anymore. For a lack of a better political philosophy to leech off of, Randians decided to latch itself onto the Libertarian Party, and "Fuck you, I got mine" is very popular these days, so libertarianism is in, folks, and once you add a dash of social conservatism (which, it should be pointed out, Rand would of despised) it's just plain sexy to all the Serious Pundits in our media.

Poor libertarians. To be fair, I owe libertarianism debt of gratitude. I find it a useful lens in which to observe policy, because at its best, it's devoid of any moral-based motives. I'm told often that socially, I am a libertarian (they like to recruit). But I feel that is really only because liberalism has violated its own social contract in that regard, it's funny how we can scream about government overreach unless we feel that we know (better then you, obviously) that this policy X will be "good" in some moral sense for everyone so just ignore this little intrusion into your personal decisions. It would be nice if liberals would pause and consider that morals are subjective, and that attempts to insert them into government policy can only lead to disaster in the end, even if the immediate results are pleasing to them (mention religion, and they seem to get that shit right away. Why wouldn't the same logic apply to trans-fats or the free speech rights of Fred Phelps as well?). Libertarians can be very convincing when talking about their ideology by just focusing on these things.

But then, there's the economic side. And this is where they get tricky. They will often pit the ideal form of libertarianism against the applied (and as such, flawed) form of other ideologies. Isn't the tax code confusing? Do you know how much potential for fraud social safety nets have? Do you really trust career politicians with your tax dollars? But they never really talk about the flaws of their own philosophy if applied (the running joke is that libertarianism is awesome, so long as you don't take into account people or the entire scope of history). They often cite and ridicule a naive and total trust in the government, which in fairness, is an apt critique. But they fail to miss the other half of that equation, that a naive and total trust in capitalism is just as easily ridiculed. If anything, the legacy of "the biggest asshole in the universe", former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, should show that libertarianism indeed has some major flaws. Even Greenspan himself appeared bewildered at the recent economic meltdown, admitting in a rare moment of honesty that he was perhaps wrong about that whole "profit-motivation is all the regulation we need" outlook:

The 82-year-old Mr. Greenspan said he made "a mistake" in his hands-off regulatory philosophy, which many now blame in part for sparking the global economic troubles. He quoted something he had written in March: "Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder's equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief."

He conceded that he has "found a flaw" in his ideology and said he was "distressed by that." Yet Mr. Greenspan maintained that no regulator was smart enough to foresee the "once-in-a-century credit tsunami."

Naturally, he got over it, and is now back to work making sure our economic policies continue to lead to disaster, while the pundits block out that massive failure of judgment and fawn all over him.

The main problem I have with the economic model of libertarianism (Aside from it being naive, the idea we can fund the country on nothing more than a sales tax or "fair" tax is ludicrous) is that, unlike its social stance, it appears to have a pretty strong moral value undercurrent running through it. Mainly, that the value of a person is dependent on their wealth, in the sense of how much influence that person is able to have on society. This isn't explicitly stated for the most part. But in a philosophy that assumes that greed, and not regulation, will produce the best outcome for society cannot be based in anything but the assumption that those with wealth are the best citizens for determining the path of the country. The voice of the people does not exist, merely the use of their dollars. The more wealth you have, the larger influence you will be able to have.

As someone that is invested heavily in social and economic justice, is there really any confusion as to why I can't buy into this model? I can only assume that the logical outcome of this is not a democracy, but an aristocracy or oligarchy.

I should probably go into that at some point on here, but I'm done for now, promise.

(Title shamelessly stolen from here, and that shit better become a meme or I quit the internets.)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Real Americans don't have foreskins

This is just bizarre:

Apparently, requiring presidential candidates to provide a long-form birth certificate before allowing their names on the ballot in Arizona -- despite it already being a federal requirement to run for president -- was a bit too much for a few GOP lawmakers. So they made some amendments: if you can't find your birth certificate, and you have a penis, a document describing your lack of foreskin will suffice.

Oh, Arizona. Perhaps it's time to wall you off from the rest of the country.

Aside from the glaring fact that allowing circumcision records would, you know, favor men, it's also jarring that people of (some) faiths will have more options to get on the ballot as well (you can also provide your baptism certificate).

But silly me, being that this would only put up barriers to females and atheists/non-preferred people of faith being allowed on the ballot, I suppose it doesn't matter.

It actually seems to make the desired goal weaker. You already have to be a US citizen to run for President. The overkill on this, which led to things like circumcision records, baptismal records, census records, and the like to be included appears to have made it more open to fraud, which one would think would be concerning if that was what people were really worried about.

Ha! It's not. I'm just being silly again.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Magical Minnesota Pony-Fairy strikes again to provide public transit to Republicans

Again, why I just can't take Republicans seriously anymore:

​Something caught our eye below the headline yesterday that Tim Pawlenty's soon-to-be campaign staff had leased 5,000 square feet of office space in a swank downtown Minneapolis office building.

They liked the site because of the Hiawatha Line light rail link to Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.

I used to joke quote a bit in the past about the magical Minnesota pony that farts up public services free of charge, because of the mentality of some folks that live here because Minnesota is (or was) such a nice place to live due to things like quality education and community programs and parks and such. So they move up here to take advantage of all these things, and then scream about all the taxes they pay, because apparently they are not able to form a connection between good public services and adequate taxation.

I can't really joke about it anymore, because it's become so irritating (and on a national level, as well). I realize that some folks are not the brightest and honestly believe that things like welfare or NPR suck up all the money while rail lines are somehow free. I realize that some folks cannot understand the idea of community unless that community stops whining about things they want and only pays for the services that personally benefit the folks (or just don't care unless it only benefits them). But politicians I can't really give a pass to, because they know better. They are merely using this to win elections, because at this point, that seems to be the only thing they have any interest in, country be damned. So they talk about the things that the public reacts favorably on - cutting taxes, and providing services. That these things are completely incompatible with each other is not a pressing concern, because it's about the marketing, not the reality. And yes, it sells. Damn well.

And I can't give a pass to the idiots that keep voting in "fiscal conservatives" time and time again, because no really, this time they are totally going to give you all the public services you rely on while cutting taxes and spending for other, mysteriously unnamed things, and if/when they don't, well then they weren't a real fiscal conservative anyway - but hey look at this guy, he is totally going to give you all the public services you rely on while cutting taxes and spending for other, mysteriously unnamed things, and I bet this time he's totally for real. Rinse and repeat.

The idea of Lucy and the football is often used to describe liberals that naively believe the promises of Democrats only to be suckered in the end (and we are. Constantly). But it appears conservatives have their own football as well, and that football is the fiscal responsibility myth.

It's just a damn shame that their football will end up taking down the damn country. We cannot keep up this farce of being able to spend without raising revenue to do so.

(via Norwegianity)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Please let me have my Surly Brewery of Awesome. Please?

Surly is currently presenting it's case in front of the Senate Commerce Committee (right at this very moment) for the ability to serve beer at the restaurant in their proposed Brewery of Awesome . Representatives of Surly Brewing, LiftBridge Beer Company, Fulton Beer, Vine Park and Four Firkins Liquor have all showed up to challenge the law (the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association is opposed to any change in the law, natch).

If we lose this, we lose Surly (and the jobs they will provide) to Wisconsin (and create an unfavorable environment for future start-ups). Any politician that is serious about getting Minnesotans back to work will support this bill. Cross your fingers.

I'll like to do more thorough write-up on this later (if I did, it would replace this post). But in the meantime, if you are interested (and you should be), follow @ScottPampuch on Twitter, because he's live-tweeting the whole debacle.

Update: Yay! One hurdle cleared! The MLBA scaled back their opposition based on a few reasonable requirements. So long as they are sincere in this compromise I see no reason why this bill won't sail easily through Congress. I actually wonder if they folded on this one in order to come out stronger in regards to the bill currently going through congress that would allow liquor sales on Sundays. Two downers in such a short period of time would make the MLBA look overly-fussy, and the Surly Bill had such strong public support (not to mention, was proposed when the country is obsessed with job creation, something Surly has promised will happen) that they would look pretty bad if they fought this one tooth and nail. I have a feeling that they made the decision to put all their efforts against the Sunday sale bill instead, as they claim this would result in a loss of revenue for them (the same argument cannot really be made about allowing companies like Surly to serve their own beer at the Brewery of Awesome).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

You don't know what the sound is, darling

Too nice outside today to do any real blogging. So here's Gayngs, with an awesome cover song and a chance to test your hipster cred - how many of these underground local celebrities do you recognize? I see you, POS! I see you, Dessa! I see you, Scott Seekins! I see you, Maggie Morrison!

So essentially Gayngs is a collaboration mostly local (but also some west coast) musicians here in the Twin Cities (and some past folks as well, it was nice of them to let Har Mar Superstar play too) and their album is well worth checking out if you are into our music scene here.

I thought that it was a neat project.

Gayngs - Relayted