Category Archives: Politics

Civil war and other links

President Whiny continues crying that he’s being persecuted as no one ever has been. Right-wing militia are ready to fight if impeachment moves ahead. However it’s unlikely we’ll see civil war because most of those calling for it are as big a chickenhawk as Trump. John Fea points out the evangelicals enthusiastic for war are still benefitting from the aftermath of the last Civil War. And Paul Krugman calls out the “radical centrists” who insist Republicans just can’t be that much worse than Democrats.

Speaking of impeachment, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio goes with ROFL, Trump was just “needling the press” as an explanation of Trump calling for foreign governments to investigate the Bidens. At the NYT, Jamelle Boulle says this is less about fear of the base and more that Republican politicians support Trump on most issues. And both Jewish and Christian conservatives continue to argue that opposing Trump is opposing God.

Oh, and Trump mouthpiece attorney general William Barr says Trump doesn’t have to cooperate with impeachment because Watergate-related court decisions were wrong. Now, in other news:

David Brooks recently wrote a fantasy of what it’s like in the mind of an extremist. To follow that up, he has a fantasy conversation between an urban liberal and simple, plainspoken Midwesterner who has no interest in all the controversy (“There’s always some fight between Trump and the East Coast media. I guess I just try to stay focused on the big picture.”). Roy Edroso argues this kind of fantasy conversation is legitimate as a writing tool, but very badly done. LGM notes one of Brooks’ odder claims (which I’ve heard elsewhere) that liberal elites are big on marriage while telling other people to live in sin.

I’ve heard right-wingers freaking out about soy before, but now white supremacists are kicking it up a notch: veggie burgers are part of a Jewish conspiracy to destroy our standard of living. I can’t help suspecting the real issue (using the word “real” loosely) is the identification of eating meat with Real Manliness, so not eating it by definition means America is getting castrated.

An Alabama female inmate needed emergency medical treatment. The jail decided to check whether she had insurance to cover it. She died.

I doubt Trump reads comic books (they’re way beyond his comprehension) but that seems to be the source of his ideas for safeguarding the border.

A federal judge has ruled that Harvard using race as an element in weighing admissions does not discriminate against Asian-Americans.

McKrae Game spent decades running an “ex-gay” ministry. He’s now come out and admitted he never stopped being gay. At the link, Fred Clark looks at the failure of Game and similar anti-gay activists to prove gays can change their orientation.

Bill Maher thinks standing up to political correctness is the hill Democrats should die on.

Amber Guyger claimed she shot a black neighbor by accident thinking she’d walked into her apartment, not his. The court found her guilty. The most hair-raising part besides the tragic murder of her neighbor is the possibility that simply by thinking she was in her own apartment, the killing could be justified.

Fred Clark shows how the Southern strategy — shift from screaming racism to saying the out loud parts quietly — shapes conservative politics, but many believers don’t realize it. I think he has a point. When Jerry Falwell founded the religious right in the 1980s, opposing abortion made a better rallying cry than his pet issue, segregation. But certainly a lot of people now believe in forced birth as an end in itself.

Right-to-lifer James Patrick Johnston believes based on no evidence that ectopic pregnancies can be reimplanted so they shouldn’t be aborted (he also believes it’s better for the mother to die than abort any fetus). At the link, a look at how his bullshit is spreading.

Greta Thunberg is seriously triggering to right-wingers.

 

 

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More on impeachment

David Frum looks back at Bill Clinton’s impeachment and how he kept working as president during the fight. Trump is doing the opposite.

Given Trump’s declarations of Civil War, even if he goes down, or he loses in 2020, will he leave quietly? I suspect, he might, actually: he’d have more fun playing the martyred president to his adoring fans or maybe running for 2024 than actually being president. However some far right groups are eager for a shooting war. No More Mr. Nice Blog looks at the right’s long history of accusing the left of wanting to murder them all. While cries that the left is about to get violent and “target all Christians in America” may just be a propaganda tool, I also wonder if it doesn’t reflect what the speakers would do if they had the power. So it seems natural to them that if the left had power, they’d do the same.

Right wing crackpot Lance Wallnau says impeaching Trump would defy the will of the 600 million Americans who voted for him … ignoring that most Americans voted Clinton, and there aren’t 600 million Americans in any case. Josh Bernstein says Democrats should be tortured and their party designated a terrorist group for bringing up impeachment. Similarly other right-wingers are freaking out from fear their chance to dominate America is slipping away.  It’s an interesting contrast to when Bill Clinton was impeached and the religious right shrieked that this immoral man had to be cast out.

Oh, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has decided the House actually subpoenaing State Department officials is just too intimidating so he’s refusing to let them testify. And Barr similarly seems to behave like he’s Trump’s legal mouthpiece, not someone with a duty to America.

I don’t really buy the civil war projections. We’ll certainly see more violence, random shootings and terrorism, but we’ll see them if Trump wins and the right decides the country now definitely absolutely positively belongs to them, not us. But the number of people who’d actually want to be on the front lines in any way, rather than shrieking at Fox News, is (I hope) too small for war. I half wonder if Trump wouldn’t sooner be out of office, playing the martyr to his adoring fans or talking about 2024 than stay in office.

But if civil war is a possibility, so be it Because the Shit-Gibbon needs to be removed from office (impeachment or electoral defeat, either way works) as soon as possible.

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Undead sexist cliches: “Women never do anything for political reasons”

If I remember correctly, I ran across that phrase in Marjorie Rosen’s Popcorn Venus. Rosen’s point (or whoever, if I’m misremembering) was that in movies, men fight for ideal (or power), women fight for men, or for ideals if men share them.

In Adventures of Robin Hood, for example, Errol Flynn’s Robin opens Maid Marian’s (Olivia de Haviland) eyes to the injustice King John and Guy of Gisborne are wreaking on the Saxons. She’s inspired, but it’s in large part by her love for Robin. In Casablanca, Victor Lazlo’s the idealist, Rick’s an idealist who needs to regain his ideals, Ilsa takes her cue from the men. She goes off to support Victor’s fight against the Axis because Rick told her it was the right thing to do.

In more recent times we have the Helen Slater Supergirl film, wherein her clash with Faye Dunaway comes off less about Faye Dunaway’s plans for world conquest and more about which of them gets to cuddle with hunky Hart Bochner. Or Paycheck, in which Ben Affleck is out to stop Aaron Eckhart’s evil plans, Uma Thurman is out to love Affleck. She’s willing to fight, but only because she’s supporting her man.

Heather Greene’s Bell, Book and Camera makes the same point about witches. Male film witches are out for power (e.g., Julian Sands in Warlock); female witches’ endgame is love (Bell, Book and Candle or I Married a Witch for example).

And as writer Shannon Thompson says, female villains are often defined by wanting the same guy as the protagonist: “When girls get antagonistic roles at all, it is usually as the dreaded other woman. She’s the soulless, vicious, popular harpy you love to hate, prepackaged in the designer clothes you’ve always wanted (but you’d never admit it), and she is on her way to steal your man.”  Of course, a lot of villains are out to get the girl, but it’s never just about the girl. Conrad Veidt in Thief of Baghdad is in love with the same princess as the hero, but he’s about getting power, too. Ditto Guy of Gisborne in the Flynn Robin Hood.

Or consider DC in the Silver Age, when Supergirl and Wonder Woman got saddles with lots of romance-comics tropes in the hopes of bringing in more female readers. Sure, Supergirl saves the world but what good is that if you don’t have a date?

I do think things have improved since Popcorn Venus came out 50 years or so ago. We have more women soldiers, more women PIs and cops, more female superheroes, and I see more of them whose motives do not revolve around the man in their lives, if there even is one. Even back in the 1940s, we had Wonder Woman, and C.L. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry. The CW’s Supergirl fights for truth, justice and the American way, not for a boyfriend, even though romance plays a role in the series.

This is a good thing.

#SFWApro. Supergirl cover by Bob Oksner, rights to all images remain with current holders.

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Impeachment and other political links

Judging by the people opposed to it, impeachment must be the right path:

Court evangelical Tony Perkins was keen on impeaching the Christian, church-going Obama. But now that he has an ally in the White House? Impeachment would damage our system. More accurately, it might remove a president who’s willing to go along with the religious right’s concept of religious freedom. I’m quite sure if faith-based refugee groups objected to Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, Perkins wouldn’t be on their side.

David Brooks is very, very worried impeachment will empower Trump and enrage his base. As noted at the link, Trump’s base is in a constant state of rage — if impeachment makes them angrier, that doesn’t translate into more votes for Trump.

Frank Bruni worries impeachment will divide the country. Because we’re so unified now.

And John Yoo, the Bush-era White House attorney who claimed the president can violate any laws he wants (except when he’s a Democrat) unsurprisingly thinks impeaching Trump is bad.

But even if the Senate voted to impeach Trump, that wouldn’t solve the white supremacist problem.

Right-wing wackaloon Rod Dreher explains the coming election is like when David Duke ran for Louisiana governor: voting for Trump is like voting against Duke, even though Duke is a Trump backer.

Sanders vs. Warren is more complicated than the very left wing portrays it. And so is the debate over Universal Basic Income, which Jacobin compares to husbands giving housewives an allowance back in the 1950s.

Inaccurate credit reports. Reluctance to fix problems. Insecure privacy. No wonder Bernie Sanders wants to nationalize credit reporting.

The right wing is much better than the left at political propaganda.

Dallas police officer Amber Guyger walked into a black man’s apartment and shot him dead, which she claims was because she thought he was a burglar in her own apartment. The trial is in progress.

Tony Perkins, a virulently anti-gay bigot, is probably also happy a judge in Michigan says religious groups that work for the state as adoption agencies can discriminate against gays.

I knew specfic author Dan Simmons was virulently anti-Muslim, but he’s also a climate-change denier (and jerk).

Confederate monuments are not about preserving history, they’re about manipulating it.

Tennessee Republican Kerry Roberts suggests the best way to get rid of liberalism is to get rid of college.

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Links to things that do not make me happy

Well white supremacist Jared Taylor looks back at the aftermath to 9/11 and wishes Americans had been more bigoted towards Muslims.

Education secretary Betsy DeVos is very, very concerned that free speech is being silenced on American campuses. Unless of course it’s speech she doesn’t like.

Petty Republican con man Jacob Wohl explains that purging the locked briefcase from society was a feminist plot — it’s harder for men to hide evidence of their affairs now!

Politico looks at evidence Jerry Falwell Jr’s management of his father’s Liberty University may be as crooked as a corkscrew. Fred Clark explains why Falwell is particularly upset about the most innocuous of the charges — he goes out to nightclubs.

Then there’s the Ukrainian mess.

For the USDA’s top scientist job, Trump picks someone who’s not a scientist.

E.W. Jackson demands we deport all illegal Hispanic immigrants or they’ll take over the culture.

Paul Krugman looks at why conservatives freak out at any regulation, good or bad. I’ve heard lots of right-wingers say they don’t like government tell them what to do, but they’re perfectly fine with government telling other people what to do (no to gay marriage, no to using birth control, etc.).

In the past 20 years, the loser of the popular vote became president. It won’t be the last time.

Malcolm Gladwell claims quite inaccurately that Joe Paterno and the Penn State leadership acted perfectly appropriately in the abuse scandal.

Just how bad is Trump for American security? And again.

Israel becoming an ally of the hard right around the world isn’t good for us, or Jews outside Israel, or even Israel. It seems even Israeli voters weren’t fans of Netanhayu’s government either.

Creationists getting weirder: a school board chair says we shouldn’t teach evolution because it’s a 19th century theory and therefore, outdated.

Robert Bork was voted down by the Senate as a Supreme Court judge, which is well within their powers (having read his first book, I think they made the right call). But conservatives still claim that was unprecedented hardball politics that totally justified denying Obama even a vote on an empty court seat.

White people are keen on merit-based college admissions — unless it works against them. It must make them happy that in a lot of cases, money trumps ability.

The Supreme Court delivers a blow to antitrust law.

To end on an upbeat note, a federal court says it’s not libel to call an anti-gay group a hate group.

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A cautionary tale and other writing links

“If just one person had sat me down when I signed my first book contract and explained how publishing works, how nothing is guaranteed, and how it often feels like playing Russian Roulette with words, I would have made much sounder financial and creative decisions,” author Heather Demetrius says, recounting how she squandered the big advances on her early novels in the assumption they’d always be that big. They weren’t.

I have a lot of sympathy for Demetrios, as I was a pretty ghastly money-manager in my early adulting (and I understand very well about not making headway as a writer — though she’s certainly gone way further than me). If I’d gotten a large advance, I probably wouldn’t have spent it well either. And while I was careful about counting on freelance income, my first attempt at full-time freelancing, back in the 1990s, did assume my stringer gig for a local paper would be steady income, as it had been for the previous three years. Oops; recession hit, cutbacks ensued.

That said, I agree with author KJ Charles on Twitter that “Did anyone in the publishing house take me under their wing and explain to me how the company made decisions about future book deals? No. Did the publisher tap a more seasoned author on their list to mentor me, as many major corporations encourage within their companies? No.” is not a complaint to sympathize with. We’re freelancers; it’s our responsibility to be aware how the system works (or doesn’t). There’s no shortage of writing magazines, writing websites and finance/budget books and websites that can explain this stuff for anyone who wants to find out. And mentors at major corporations are on staff, so they get paid while they educate. Not so for novelists.

In other links:

KJ Charles vents on unreasonably critical editors.

Amazon is tweaking its search feature to prioritize results that make money for Amazon.

Golden Age mystery fiction is enjoying a renaissance.

Mike Pesca argues at Slate that we have more comedy and better than 40 or 50 years ago, but a lot more of it tends to play it safe. I’m not sure I’d agree with Pesca’s thoughts (or that I wouldn’t) but it’s worth perusing.

An Advocate General for the European Court of Justice says unlike physical books, there’s no right of resale for e-copies we buy. Will the court agree? Will US courts decide the same in similar cases?

#SFWApro

 

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Spin doctors of doom

When the DEA saw the pharmaceutical industry catering to the opioid epidemic (one pharmacy was ordering more than it could physically store), they cracked down hard. A big PR and lobbying campaign by big pharma defanged the watchdogs.

Hungarian leader Viktor Orban is a right-wing authoritarian whose party leaders say “When our girls give birth to our grandchildren, we want them to regard it as the defining moment of their self-realization,” and whose political campaigns began the demonization of George Soros. Nevertheless, American right-winger Rod Dreher says he’s “energetic, fiercely intelligent, funny, self-deprecating, realistic, and at times almost pugilistic in talking about defending Hungary and her interests.” Because as long as you’re entertaining to talk to and a really nice guy, you can’t be that bad, right? Yes, actually. But I’m sure if you’re as right-wing and anti-gay, anti-Muslim and anti-woman as Dreher, Orban’s just what the world needs.

Similarly, the White House pretends anti-gay Mike Pence can’t be anti-gay because he meets with gay politicians. Meetings with anti-gay activists as well? Uh, look, a chicken!

The MIT Media Lab was quite happy to let Jeffrey Epstein improve his image by giving them money.

Lisa Bloom, I gather, has worked as an attorney for women victims in many sexual harassment cases. So she told Harvey Weinstein she knew how to destroy Rose McGowan in the media along with other women accusing him.

Sean Hannity flaks for a doctor who claims he can give you the miracle cancer cure Democrats are keeping from us.

““Now if ‘university’ means by definition you grant degrees and you are accredited by whoever accredits universities to be a degree-granting place, then we’re not a university,” conservative Dennis Prager said before going on to explain that he considers Prager University a university anyway.

So Ohio gave a very generous bailout to its power companies, paid for by surcharges on customers’ bills. One political group is trying to gather enough signatures to put a repeal of the bailout on the 2020 ballot so bailout supporters are painting it as a Chinese conspiracy to steal personal information and take over Ohio’s power grid.

I’ve seen liberals (certainly not all) criticizing discriminatory policies against Muslims since the second Bush administration. Nevertheless, Bari Weiss insists that we don’t care about Muslims unless we can use them to attack Israel.

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Politics: quotes with links again

“He discloses American intelligence to deflect attention from unflattering stories, suck up to people he wants to impress, or simply on a whim. He treats it, as he treats everything else in American government, as a private tool of self-gratification.” — Michelle Goldberg on Trump’s wrecking our intelligence assets.

“He should go back to China because they are for that and if he loves socialism, then why not go to the country that he came from and push socialism with the people that like socialism?” — right-wing bigot Jesse Lee Peterson on Andrew Yang, who was born in New York state. Oh Peterson also thinks Yang’s a “beta male” which is his default insult.

“at a solemn ceremony marking the collapse of the South Tower, a man paused from reading the names of victims, one of whom was his mother, to launch an attack on Rep. Ilhan Omar and Democrats, calling out “the squad” for their apparent failure to recognize that 9/11 was an assault on “our Judeo-Christian values.””

“While many of their Democratic counterparts were attending a 9/11 memorial event, Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representatives took the opportunity Wednesday to override the governor’s veto of the state budget”

“We are in a very extreme period in U.S. political history because of the radicalization of the GOP and the apparent willingness of virtually all of its officeholders, candidates, and big donors to go along with authoritarian and anti-democratic measures of many kinds, not just presidential power grabs but legislative and judicial steps to curtail voting and organizational rights of opponents, in essence rigging future electoral contests in a very minority rule direction.”

“Contemporary appeals to land and indigeneity have provided fertile ground for a return to racist lifeboat ethics. Anders Behring Breivik, who murdered 77 people around Oslo in 2011, insisted that the rhetoric of indigenous rights was ‘an untapped goldmine’ for white nationalists”

” Ultimately, I blame Republican voters, because nothing of this nature ever stabs at their conscience.”

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David Brooks and other odious people

David Brooks has written about how he believes the old WASP elite ran the country better than today’s meritocracy because they imposed social structure and forced everyone beneath them to cling to common standards and rules. So there’s more than a little projection when he believes one of the driving forces of extremism is “I yearn for order. Blunt simplicities.” Because that’s his own approach.

Also, because Brooks can’t actually come out and say how bad the right is (they are, after all, the extremists doing almost all the killing), he has to explain this is the mind of extremists on both sides. And by implication that anyone who blames anyone specific is an extremist and potentially dangerous because smart people like Brooks know things are really, really complicated. And “Did you really think you could raise me on gourmet coffee and yoga pants and I wouldn’t find a way to rebel against your relativism and materialism? Didn’t you observe the eternal pattern — that if you try to flatten a man to the bourgeois he will rebel by becoming a fanatic?” is some really, really bad writing.

In other matters:

Trump’s campaign manager predicts Donald Jr. will follow his dad and form a political dynasty. As No More Mr. Nice Blog notes, not a chance.

A court decrees that it’s morally wrong cops can steal $200,000 in the course of its search, but even so, “the law was not clearly established” that this crosses a legal line.

The political hacks running NOAA warned its staff not to publicly question Trump’s “Dorian threatens Alabama” claim.

A Brazilian mayor tried to block the sale of Marvel comics featuring a gay male kiss on panel.

The movie Satan’s School for Girls? According to crackpot preacher Jesse Lee Peterson, it’s a documentary — educated women serve Satan! The sexist turd also believes Brett Kavanaugh isn’t a real man because he has daughters.

Speaking of Kavanaugh and sexist turds, right-wing misogynist Josh Bernstein says obviously Christine Blasey Ford was a slut who came on to Kavanaugh and when he turned her down, she decided to wait 20 years to get revenge! Yeah, that’s really plausible (it’s even dumber and nastier in detail).

Following Brett Stephens’ freakout over being insulted on Twitter, Slate looks at the history of Stephens and other NYT columnists being special snowflakes.

“Tour was all about how hard it was for the slaves,” according to one review of a plantation tour that discusses the realities of slavery.

Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw says universal background checks would be bad because he couldn’t lend guns to friends who couldn’t pass. He is, very, very upset that anyone should think this means his friends shouldn’t have guns. Because nobody ever uses a borrowed gun to — oh, wait. And wait again.

Alaska’s attorney general is working hard to destroy public sector unions.

The pastor of a Tennessee Catholic school has banned Harry Potter from the library because the spells are real (spoiler: no, they’re not!).

To end on an upbeat note as I like to do, North Carolina Republicans’ racist gerrymandering has been thrown out by a state court (based on the state constitution so it doesn’t clash with the Supreme Court’s federal ruling). Republicans have thrown in the towel, though I won’t be surprised if they have more tricks up their sleeves.

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Unpleasant people: some links

Right-wingers are setting out to smear journalists who criticize our glorious supreme leader.

The latest anti-immigration steps from President Fistula.

Tucker Carlson, enabler of Nazis and white supremacists.

I can understand Republicans being upset that Rep. Sean Duffy is retiring — his wife’s pregnant, the baby has health issues — because this makes it that much harder for their party to hang on to power in Congress. But insulting him as a “beta male” for taking that step is bullshit. Just because she doesn’t suit right-wing hack Jesse Lee Peterson’s male-supremacist idea of female behavior doesn’t make what she’s doing wrong. It does make Peterson a horse’s ass, but he was that already.

I’ve previously heard the argument stated here about who’s drawn to the Republican Party but they phrase it well.

According to administration officials, Trump has told them to break the law if necessary to get the border wall built by election day — and he’ll pardon them for whatever they do.

A college professor referred to Bret Stephens of the NYT as a bedbug in a tweet. Stephens found this comparable to Nazis criticizing Jews. Not only did this give the original tweet way more publicity than intended, a lot of people have pointed out Stephens routinely writes columns about how college students are too sensitive to criticism. As others have pointed out, Stephens’ suffering at being called a name is a relative cakewalk compared to serious online harassment.

A columnist says conservatives who call for a reasonable debate sound a lot like Southerners who wanted to discuss the pros and cons of slavery rationally. And in both cases, they’re lying.

The “Pence rule” about never being alone with a woman is a serious handicap to women at work. Case in point, a deputy who refused to train a woman officer, got fired and now claims firing him violated his religious rights. Some men in business similarly say they’re reluctant to hire women if they’d have to work alone with them.

Racist Amy Wax insists she’s not a racist, that women are less intelligent than men, and that President Trump is a flag-bearer for our true values (sure, he cheats on his wives, but he stays married!). A good interview; I suspect Wax doesn’t realize how badly she comes off.

Online misogynists loudly object to judging sexual assault in social media — oh, wait, they changed their minds.

General James Mattis’ relationship to the Theranos company and its phony medical tech.

Unsurprisingly Breitbart commenters figure all these mass shootings are a Democratic/commie/white-hating plot (why else would all the shooters be white men?).

Sell a dime bag on a street corner and you do hard time. Hook thousands of people on OxyContin and you walk away rich.

 

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