Category Archives: Politics

“Common Sense” about North Carolina HB2

Last week, I caught part of an interview with a defender of North Carolina’s House Bill 2 on NPR. This is, just to recap in case you are from Mars or something, the infamous “Bathroom Bill”, which, in addition to forbidding cities from passing local laws protecting the rights of the LBGT Community, specifies that a person’s gender assigned at birth, as evidenced by their birth certificate, shall be the sole arbiter of which public rest rooms they’re allowed to use. In response to the passage of the law, businesses such as PayPal have cancelled plans to expand into the state, New York, California, Washington and other locations have forbidden non-essential travel to the state for government employees, and Bruce Springsteen has cancelled a concert there. Defenders have for the most part backpedaled from saying outright that this bill is about them seriously just wanting trans people to just cease to exist and insist that it’s really about sex offenders who would be “emboldened” to “pretend” to be trans in order to sneak into the ladies room and commit sexual assault, since, apparently, someone who wants to commit sexual assault is liable to say, “Gee, I’d really like to go in there and break the laws against sexual assault, but breaking the law against going into a ladies’ rest room is just beyond the pale.”

Anyway, I just want to vent a little bit here about the arguments being made in defense of this nonsense.

  1. On the boycotts: funny, isn’t it, how the same people who claim we should “vote with our wallets” cry foul when our wallets decide we want nothing to do with a bunch of bigots.
  2. On The Boss Specifically: How exactly does someone get into the mindset, “I really liked Springsteen until I found out that he strongly supports equal rights and opposes oppression, which is something about him I had hitherto never suspected because I have not actually ever listened to any of his songs.”
  3. Sayeth the defender, “Well those companies that are pulling out of North Carolina have no problem outsourcing American jobs to third world countries with far worse human rights violations!” Um. You know that’s not exactly flattering, right? New state motto: “North Carolina: We’re technically better than a third world police state.”
  4. Sayeth the defender, “Just ask any five year old whether a man should be allowed in the women’s rest room!” Leaving aside for the moment that a transwoman is not a man, are you entirely sure that the musings of a five year old should be the basis for public policy? Admittedly, my son is only four, but we’re still struggling to break him of the belief that a woman shouldn’t be allowed to wear the color blue, because blue is a “boy color”.
  5. Also, however he feels about bathrooms, my four-year-old has absolutely no problem walking around in mixed company naked from the waist down, so maybe you should actually ASK a five-year-old how bothered they are by this
  6. Also, my son uses the women’s restroom pretty much every single time he goes anywhere with his mother, and once she’s old enough, I’m quite sure there will be times when I’ll be taking my daughter to the men’s room, so I challenge this whole “Any five year old knows that men shouldn’t be in the ladies’ room” thing.
  7. Also, it’s only been like three years since people were making the, “If you ask any five-year-old, they’ll tell you that marriage is between one man and one woman,” argument.
  8. Actually, let’s go back and stop leaving aside the whole “a transwoman is not a man” thing. You show your hypothetical five-year-old a picture of Caitlyn Jenner and ask which restroom she should be allowed to use. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that your hypothetical five-year-old isn’t going to ask to see a birth certificate.
  9. While we’re at it, can we dispense (or “dispel” as former presidential candidate Marco Rubio would put it) with the repeated claims that these bathroom bans are “common sense”. Here’s a nice “common sense” adage for you: “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, and flaps like a duck, it’s probably a duck.” If someone tells you they’re a woman, dresses like a woman, and wants to use the women’s rest room, it’s not “common sense” to demand to see a birth certificate before you let her take a leak.
  10. If anyone really thinks that a law requiring one to use the rest room matching the sex on one’s birth certificate is the only thing stopping sex offenders, perhaps we could just replace the Triangle-Stick-Person symbol with the bat-symbol, because criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot, and won’t go into a bathroom if they think Batman is there.

And I’m All Out of Gum

via TPM Livewire:

Heidi Cruz: Ted Shows America ‘The Face Of The God That We Serve’

“We are at a cultural crossroads in our country, and if we can be in this race to show this country the face of the God that we serve—this Christian God that we serve is the foundation of our country,” she said. “Our country was built on Judeo-Christian values. We are a nation of freedom of religion, but the God of Christianity is the God of freedom, of individual liberty, of choice and of consequence.”

They Live "This is your God"

Personally, I think I’m being generous.

(If you have the chance, check out my essay on They Live)

Because otherwise the wrong lizard might win

I don’t know about you, but I thought the most impressive moment of Saturday’s debate was when the republican presidential candidates all agreed to remove their human masks and reveal their true faces underneath.

It all started when Marco Rubio suffered from a system glitch that caused him to just repeat the same sentence over and over. By way of explanation, he unexpectedly peeled off his skin to reveal himself as a robot, to the surprise of absolutely no one.

Not to be outdone, Ted Cruz immediately removed his own face, showing the audience that he was, in fact, a lizard person. Experts believe this bold move may help him in the New Hampshire primary, as the revelation was met with optimism from the crowd. Said one audience member, “He always seemed like such an asshole when I thought he was human. But as lizards go, he’s actually kind of warm and personable, relatively speaking.”

Less-well received was Governor Jeb Bush’s desperate attempt to claim some of the spotlight by shedding his skin. The move backfired when the audience discovered Bush to be literally empty inside, his thin, pinkish outer layer concealing only a void. Dr. Ben Carson was the next to doff his human disguise, shocking the audience, who had not anticipated that he would turn out to be a tall stack of cats wearing a suit. After the debate, a Carson campaign staffer commented, “We’re as surprised as everyone. I think we’d all assumed that Dr. Carson’s true form would be a man-shaped Jello mold. But it kinda makes sense when you really think about it.”

It had been widely speculated before the debate that should Donald Trump ever remove his human facade, he would be revealed as an eldritch horror, more hair than man, and that the very sight of his true form would drive all who gazed upon it irretrievably mad. His comments in the debate advocating torture did little to quiet these suspicions. Everyone was greatly relieved, therefore, when he removed his own face, revealing only another, slightly smaller Donald Trump underneath.

The most surprising move of the evening, however, came from Governor Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor removed his mask and fat-suit, showing his true form to be Old Man Withers, owner of the haunted Atlantic City amusement park, who had engineered the entire presidential campaign as a distraction to a complicated insurance scam in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. The Christie campaign released a statement post-debate explaining that Governor Christie, “Would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those snooping kids.”

Governor John Kasich of Ohio was reportedly “disappointed” that no one noticed his own revelation. Cameras did not catch Kasich’s unmasking, on account of none of them were pointed at him.

Political commentators are eagerly awaiting this Thursday’s Democratic debate, to see if the candidates will attempt to match their GOP rivals. There is widespread speculation that Hillary Clinton will reveal herself to be some sort of amorphous darkness. Experts are divided over whether Senator Sanders will turn out to be the anthropomorphic embodiment of the denied and deferred hopes and dreams of the younger generation, or just Justin Bieber in old-age makeup, shamelessly trying to illegally seize the presidency for Canada.

A brief observation on gender

Note: Numbers exclude performers in adult media.

  • Number of people whose gender I have determined by observation of their genitals: 1
  • Number of people whose gender I have determined by their chromosomes: 0
  • Number of people whose gender I have determined by assuming their self-reporting (Or that of their representative) to be correct: All the rest of them

 

#LoveWins

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

576 U. S. ____ (2015)

Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito all wrote dissenting opinions, which I find very strange because they all said basically the same thing, repeating the kind of douchey old argument that the decision should be settled by the legislature, because spirited debates about the rights of a minority are more valuable to society than actually granting rights to a minority. Roberts put it in a very respectable classically conservative, “This is the sort of thing the people should work out together rather than the nine of us deciding by fiat,” way. Scalia and Alito instead offered vague threats about the horrors that will ensue if the Supreme Court’s power goes unchecked.

Also, Thomas has a beef with the whole concept of substantive Due Process and at one point seems like he’s edging right up to saying “Slavery wasn’t so bad.” (“Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved,” he writes, disputing the notion that same-sex marriage bans are an affront to the dignity of same-sex couples)

I feel kind of bad for Roberts, who’s clearly trying to be a voice for moderation and slowing down and thinking things through and mostly just reminding us what we’re giving up (Albeit in a way that ignores both the track record for the majority deciding to grant rights to the minority just out of the goodness of their harts, and the fact that real harm is being done to real people while the American People struggle to make up their mind), saddled with the Three Stooges.

On the news that Trevor Noah will be taking over The Daily Show

Yay.

That is all¹


1. Okay, in addition to “Yay”, I will add that as soon as I heard that Jon was leaving, my first thought was “I kinda hope they let Trevor Noah replace him, even though he’s such an unknown and doesn’t have the amount of experience I bet they’d want for a high-profile position like that.” So yay².

2. Okay, technically he’s my second choice*, right after “Army of Jon Stewart Clones.”³

3. Come to think of it, if we had an army of Jon Stewart Clones, go ahead and give The Daily Show to Trevor Noah, and have the Jon Clones take over all of the hosting spots on all of the 24 hour news channels instead†.

* Not that Jessica Williams wouldn’t have done a fine job too. But she didn’t wow me the way Trevor Noah did, and also I think her style of humor wouldn’t work as well in the host spot. She really deserves her own show tailored to her particular strengths.

† Upon reflection, if the army of Jon clones took over cable news, that would seriously cut into the material available for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to cover. Eh. He’s good, he’ll come up with something.

Some Thoughts on The Election

Well, the race is over, and now that the blinding terror that the possibility of a Romney-Ryan administration induced in me has passed, I thought I’d wrap up with a few thoughts on the whole thing.
1. As an upper-middle-class white heterosexual man, this election was, for me, an opportunity to choose sides based on whether I like liberal or conservative social and economic polcies better*(That said, even though I do prefer liberal social and economic policies, the reason I side with the liberals is because, regardless of whether or not their policies will be better for me personally, I feel a certain empathy for some of the groups I mention below and wouldn’t feel right kicking them to the curb.).
This just isn’t true for a lot of people, in both directions. If you’re a woman, then it doesn’t really matter if you think that conservative economic policies are good for the economy, because a vote for Romney is also a vote against fair pay for women and a vote against your right to make your own reproductive health decisions. If you’re a minority, it doesn’t matter if you think that a strong conservative stance on defence is good for the country, because a vote for Romney is also a vote for people who have been consistent in their use of race-baiting and racist dog whistles. If you’re gay, it doesn’t matter if you consider yourself in the line of Eisenhower and Reagan; a vote for Romney is a vote for you to never have the rights afforded you that are granted to the rest of humanity.
Contrariwise, if you’re a racist, it hardly matters if you think that the economic crisis was the result of underregulation; you’re voting for Romney anyway. And if you’re convinced that the life of a fetus trumps the rights of an adult woman, you have to hold your nose even if you think Mitt Romney is a psychopath. And if you’re a devout Catholic who feels the need to vote in a way consistent withthe teachings of the Church, well, it doesn’t really matter if you think Mitt Romney’s saber-rattling will bring about world war 3; the other guy wants to let two dudes get married.
2. President Obama won the election with only 39% of the vote among white men. Now, there are lots of reasons for that. White men, see 1, includes the group who got to choose their position based purely on whether they sided with liberal or conservative politics. And one thing that seems clear from trends is that the country is roughly evenly split between those positions, with perhaps a mild lean toward the conservative side. So the difference between the 50% we’d expect to find all things being equal and the 39% actual, and you get 11%. That’s the percentage of people who would have voted democrat, but were turned off by something. I’m not going to say what.
But it’s pretty much some combination of racism, sexism, homophobia, and the fear of losing their hegemon.
3. Also, President Obama won the election despite only having carried 39% of white men. For the first time in the history of the US, the decision as to who will lead this country for the next four years was made not by white men, but in spite of them. Hegemony’s over, guys. Relax. It’ll be great.
4. That Mitt Romney the Candidate was defeated is less important to me than that The Mitt Romney Campaign Strategy was defeated.
All politicians exaggerate, misrepresent, overpromise, mislead. This is a fact of life and part of the American political discourse ever since George Washington told the electorate that he could not tell a lie, and demonstrated this trait by making up a bullshit story about a cherry tree out of whole cloth.
But Mitt Romney’s political campaign displayed something I haven’t seen before. Mitt Romney has been accused of holding contempt for the truth. But that’s not it; the Mitt Romney campaign has displayed not contempt for the truth but rather an utter disinterest in the truth. Mitt Romney did not merely twist the truth or present misleading facts; he told bald-faced lies about things which were matters of public record, and when called on it, he showed no shame but rather was sort of insulted you’d dare accuse him of lying just because he knowingly told an untruth. This was a man who would literally say anything if he thought it would get him elected, not caring if it were true, false, or the exact opposite of the thing he’d said in his previous sentence.
And the electorate decided that wasn’t going to fly. Which is good, because if that strategy had proven a winning strategy, it would be impossible for anyone to ever win an election by caring about the truth. If it really is just as simple as “You can tell any lie you want,” there’s no winning strategy for telling the truth.
5. Lest anyone think I’m uncritical: In a sane world, Barack Obama would be the Republican candidate. Obama is not a socialist, he’s not even a liberal. President Obama is a reasonable, pragmatic, Eisenhower Republican. A proper liberal president would have stopped drone attacks, closed gitmo, given us single payer, and actually done something about the fact that our gun control laws were written by the gun manufacturer’s lobby. Such a candidate would probably lose to Barack Obama, but frankly, I’d rather have a chance to vote for a proper liberal who loses to a proper conservative, over voting for a faux-liberal who beats one of the sociopaths who took over the former party of responsibility. We used to have one party that dreamt big and one party that kept both hands on the wheel. Now we’ve got one party that keeps one hand on the wheel, and another that is intent on setting the car on fire.
6. By the way, an openly gay woman got elected to the United States Senate. Awesome.
7. Also, the people of three states voted in favor of same-sex marriage. So y’know what, fuck you, NOM.
8. Puerto Rico voted in favor of becoming the 51st state. Prompting me to discover that statehood was on the ballot in Puerto Rico.
Y’know, that seems like the sort of thing that the news might want to cover.
9. Good grief. Donald Trump has lost the rest of his mind.
10. So, the sun didn’t come up today. Crap. Chuck Norris was right.

Random Thoughts

The author would like to apologize for the fact that this article was not posted a month ago when he wrote it. I don’t actually want to care all that much about gay marriage, but the whole idea that it is 2009 and a big percentage of the population zealously wants to class an entire segment of the population as subhuman and undeserving of the same rights as the rest of us creeps me the hell out. I’m getting married in a few months, and it really bugs me that there’s a huge movement that wants to cheapen *my* marriage by turning into an instrument with which to spread hate and oppression.

  • During some bitching about the President, the conservative “expert” on The Situation Room today said that he was very disappointed in President Obama’s “stimulus pakistan”. At least, that’s what the closed captions said. Methinks the captioner needs a fresh pot of coffee.
  • After a week of teabagging, the moral right went on to produce an advertisement through an organization called “NOM” denouncing gay marriage and claiming that they wanted to form a “rainbow coalition” to protect their “freedoms”. NOM’s other big project is called “2M4M”. “Teabagging”. “NOM”, “Rainbow coalition”, “2M4M”. Has the right just decided to stop trying and write The Daily Show‘s material for them?
  • One of the fine folks who comments on Slacktivist hit the nail on the head about how gay marriage hurts the “freedoms” of heterosexuals: If you’re a homophobe, and homosexuality stops being socially stigmatized, suddenly you are no longer “normal” — you’re the weirdo who’s got an irrational beef with gay people. You’re the slightly shameful elderly relative no one likes to be seen with in public because she might forget that it’s no longer 1950 and she isn’t allowed to make a darker-skinned person give up their seat for her. The “threat” to their way of life is that their bigotry will suddenly make them what they most fear to be: atypical.
  • And speaking of that NOM commercial, in it a doctor actress playing a doctor claims that if gay people can marry, she’ll be forced to choose between her profession and her religion, because the state will force her to (vague). Leaving aside for the moment that I can’t even imagine how her religious freedom could conflict with her duties as a doctor in regards to gay marriage (I mean, there is exactly one big obvious thing that a doctor’s religious conviction might stand in the way of them doing that comes up on a regular basis, and I suspect that married homosexuals have a remarkably low demand for abortions and contraceptives), I just want to point out: if your religious convictions are so strong as to prevent you from doing your job, perhaps you should have considered a profession which you do not enter by swearing an oath to Apollo!

Live Free or Cheap

One of the little corner-of-the-screen tags on CNN yesterday informed me that “The average American spends more on taxes than on food, shelter, and clothing combined!” And I’m outraged by this.
No, I’m not outraged that our taxes are so high, especially because they’re not; taxes in the US are lower than pretty much anywhere resemblign civilization, and if you want to know how great it is to live in a tax-free society, ask a Somalian.
I’m outraged at CNN for repeating someone else’s lie. This particular lie comes from The Tax Foundation, an organization whose raison d’etre is to announce that everything you earned between January 1, 2009 and April 13, 2009 was stolen by the government, and only now are you earning money for yourself instead of being a slave.
I suggest that we immediatelyt let anyone who wants it be declared exempt from all taxes. And then, at the end of the year, send them a bill for their usage of the roads, all public services, their share of national defense, police service, the fire department, and a hefty bill for the education of their children. After all, they’ll all be so much richer from having that extra 28% of their income that they surely won’t mind paying a fair market rate for all the tax-supported services they normally enjoy. Of course, that fair market rate would have to be two or three times as much as they’d pay in taxes, since they wouldn’t be able to leverage the same sort of government protections that tax-supported services do, but, hey, it’s their money.
(I’m declaring 2 PM “Boss Freedom Hour”, when I celebrate the fact that up until that point in the afternoon, the money made by my labor goes to my employer, not to me. But I actually totally made up the calculation since I have no idea how much my employer actually makes from my labor)
Anyway, about that outrage. I make a good living. I make a very good living. I’m not rich, even by the standards of pundits who claim that anything under $250k is “poor”. And my housing costs are ridiculously low. I bought my house shortly before the whole housing insanity that drove us into this recession. So I’m making a very good living, better than most. And I’m paying less than most for housing. (As a data point, Leah, until she moved in with me, rented. My monthly mortgage payment is less than half her monthly rent). A quick, back-of-the-envelope calculation tells me that I spend 15% of my income on housing. If, as the Tax Foundation claims, the average American pays April 13 — sorry, 28% of his income in taxes, and that’s more than he spends on food, clothing, and shelter, then that means I must spend less than 13% of my income on food and clothing…
Now, I was taught in school that you spend 1/3 of your income on food no matter what. I thought this was impossible then, and I think it’s impossible now (It turns out that the 1/3 number came about because back in the 50s, the US government hired a Czechoslovakian immigrant to work out the poverty level, and she did, based on the fact that in Czechoslovakia, housing was incredibly cheap, and food was incredibly expensive), but if it were, that would mean that 33% + 15% + x% < 28% where x% is the amount the average American spends on clothing. So, the average American spends -20% of their income on clothing. I go down to the store, and I buy a new shirt, and the store pays me fifty dollars. But let's just assume for the moment that the Tax Foundation is right, and that the average American loses 28% of their income to Uncle Sam, and they lose a further something-less-than 28% on food, clothing, and shelter. That still leaves 44% of the average American's income unaccounted for. So, 44% of the average American's income, according to the Tax Foundation, is disposable, not used for anything necessary (Yeah, yeah, health care, but real men don't need health care. God gave you two kidneys for a reason). Almost half the money you make, you can use for anything you like. Which makes July 25 "Necessity Freedom Day", the day after which any money you earn is not used for food, clothing, or shelter, and you can just blow it on, I dunno, booze and hookers if that's where your heart lies. Call the office, I'm taking off the rest of the year.

Read This.

This Is What the Class War Looks Like (via)
This is his argument? This is his argument? “I didn’t need the money, I didn’t want the money. I did it JUST TO HURT THE POOR BECAUSE I CAN MUAH HA HA.”
I have a vague theoretical notion that there was a time when you could be a conservative on the basis of sound economic and social principals, and not because you were a cartoon supervillain.
Purely theorhetical.