Category Archives: Politics

Republican hate for America

Republicans love to talk about how much they love America and how much liberals hate it. They’re lying. Just like they claim to honor the military until the military doesn’t support white supremacy. Just like they chant Blue Lives Matter but kill cops who get in their way. They love democracy but they love fascism more.

Similarly, when they “love” America it’s the fantasy USA in their head canon, where white men run everything, women stay home and take care of the kids, gays are in the closet and black people are in solidly subordinate roles. The real America? That they hate. Their worldview is “a hyper-patriotism gone sour: a belief in a fictional ideal of a perfect right-wing America that’s constantly betrayed by reality, leading to disillusionment and even disgust with the country as it actually exists.” Or as South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem says, “I look at Joe Biden’s America, and I don’t recognize the country that I grew up in,” echoing Laura Ingraham’s claim that conservatives are justified in resenting legal immigration.

This is, of course, true of most generations over the past century or so. The 20th century was a time of change: the 1970s weren’t the country of legal Jim Crow and “segregation now, segregation forever!” A country where women have access to reliable contraception and equal rights at work isn’t the same as the 1950s (Wall Street Journal‘s misogynist in residence James Taranto thinks both changes were mistakes). Home computers and the Internet have changed things in many ways, good and bad.

Conversely, the country I spent my teen years in was lurching towards greater equality for gays, people of color and women. Nixon was a treacherous bastard but the Republicans still supported democracy. Now I live in a country where Republicans have made open white supremacy, anti-semitism and misogyny acceptable again, and where they’re doing everything they can to rig elections so they never lose again. Nixon was an outcast within the party after Watergate; they dropped George W. Bush like a stone after his two terms were up; but Trump has the support of the base so the cowards in office will never desert him. Ron DeSantis clearly thinks making the pandemic worse in Florida is a plus for his future career, and he might be right.  Ross Douthat wrote a few years ago that conservatives need to be even more reactionary; I think he’s getting his wish.

And I live in a country with Fox News. That’s definitely a change for the worse.

And because The Former Guy made preventing a pandemic into another part of the culture wars (something Fred Clark discusses here), we’re fighting against people who insist that any restrictions to protect human life are a violation of their freedom (something the Seventh Court of Appeals recently scoffed at). Which reinforces the crackpots who oppose modern medicine itself: “In a video on her channel, Pope said she wants to promote health the way her generation’s grandparents experienced it. “When they got sick, they didn’t need the crutch of pharmaceuticals or antibiotics to get better,” she said in the video. “They just got sick and they got well.”” Except a lot of them didn’t: they died. In other words, as LGM says, the problem isn’t that vaccines don’t work but that they do.

As the Vox article linked to above says, it’s not just that conservatives don’t like the country’s direction, they don’t see a way to change it through legitimate means. They live in a world where reality itself has rejected them. Evolution works, creationism doesn’t. A black man has been elected president twice and a woman won the popular vote. Gay people aren’t all pedophiles, gay marriage hasn’t caused the collapse of straight marriage, atheists can be perfectly moral people, families with a working mom can be perfectly healthy. The United States wasn’t founded on Christianity or as a Christian nation. Global warming is real.

That’s reality, but they don’t want to accept it. So they hate and resent the proof that everything they believe is wrong, and they hate and resent those of us who accept the reality. And The Former Guy legitimized that: “he made it okay to say openly that you just hated the other side and didn’t want to share the country with them anymore.”

This will continue to be a problem going forward. I wish there was an easy solution.

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Undead Sexual Harassment: No means yes

As I mentioned in my review of The Myth of Male Power, Warren Farrell claims that when women say “no,” there’s a good chance they mean yes. If she’s French-kissing while telling you she doesn’t want sex, maybe she really wants you to ignore her no and keep going. If a woman tells you to stop sexually harassing her, she’s testing you to see if you’ll fight to win love (evolution has hardwired her to want a fighter!). If she mentions liking Fifty Shades of Grey, which is all about a woman being dominated, that’s code for wanting the guy to dominate her. After all, Gone With the Wind has a big marital rape scene, and generations of women think it’s sexy that Rhett Butler didn’t want for informed consent.

Farrell’s not alone in claiming “no means yes.” Limbaugh, for instance, once told listeners “no means yes if you know how to spot it. Seduction used to be an art, now of course it’s ‘brutish’ and ‘predatory.’” Lots of dating-advice books express the same view: guys are hunters so they’ll be more excited if the woman plays hard to get. Women should say no to encourage pursuit; if a guy doesn’t pursue, he’s a wimp. The same applies to sex: guys won’t buy the cow if they get the milk free.

The long and the short of it is that we live in a culture which encourages guys to disregard a woman’s no and shames a woman if she says yes too soon (“If a lady says no, she means maybe. If she says maybe, she means yes. if she says yes, she’s no lady.” according to one old phrase). This does not lead to good sexual communication. One survey of college women found 39 percent had said no at least once to sex when they meant yes. This does not validate Farrell/Limbaugh, though. It still adds up to a majority of nos that actually mean no; a guy who assume he knows “how to spot it” can easily get it wrong, especially if he relies in these guys’ advice (I’ve French kissed women who did not want sex; I’m not alone). Despite Farrell’s claims about 50 Shades and Gone With the Wind, you are not what you read. Enjoying a book about a man who won’t take no for an answer does not mean you want that in real life.

And a lot of people really do have trouble spotting it. In one 1985 case, a foster parent threatened to return his fourteen-year-old charge to the detention home unless she slept with him. She refused, but eventually submitted. The appeals court in Commonwealth v. Mlinarich thought they could spot that her no meant yes: he hadn’t used force, so clearly he’d seduced her, not raped her. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen described director Roman Polanski’s rape of a thirteen-year old by saying “he seduced [her] with all the power and authority of a 44-year-old movie director who could make her famous.” That’s a bizarre interpretation of Polanski giving a tween drugs and alcohol, then penetrating her even after she said no to sex.

“Seduction” is doing a lot of work here. I think of seduction as murmuring sweet nothings in my date’s ear as we sip wine by candlelight (yes, I’m old). Contrary to Limbaugh, I’ve never heard that sort of thing described as brutish; I suspect he was thinking of something more aggressive. He’s never thought consent mattered, complaining that liberals favor calling in the rape police when there’s no consent. Guess what? If there’s no consent, it is indeed rape.

It’s true if a guy holds back when the woman’s “no” isn’t sincere, he’s passing up a chance to get laid. But that’s preferable to becoming a rapist. At least, it is for a decent human being; many rapists aren’t. They’re not trying to spot the woman’s secret desires; they don’t care about them. That doesn’t mean this talk of seduction and no means yes isn’t harmful; just look at the judges in Mlinarich, or Farrell’s argument that even a sexual harassment lawsuit shouldn’t discourage a man from pursuing his coworker (she wants you to fight for her, remember?).

In other contexts, we know “no means yes” is bullshit. If a panhandler asks me for five bucks and I say no, nobody assumes I mean yes. If they pursue me and keep asking, maybe I eventually give them money; that doesn’t mean my no wasn’t sincere. In business or sales negotiations, No is often a bargaining strategy; it’s still wrong to force someone to buy a product (“I know you want to close this deal so give me the money.”) and we know it.

When the context is sex, that logic disappears. In 2003, for instance, pundit Gregg Easterbrook said that because no often means yes, saying no to a man doesn’t make it rape. Only saying flat out that “if you don’t stop, it’s rape,” is good enough. But if no means yes, why can’t “this is rape!” mean yes? In one 2014 Swedish case, the victim shrieked no until her voice was hoarse. The judge dismissed the case on the grounds the attacker thought she liked it rough. Would screaming “this is rape!” have changed anything or would the judge have decided that was more of her kink?

Even if the attacker genuinely thought the woman was playing hard to get, having sex after she says no is still rape. Just like a drunk driver who didn’t realize they were over the legal limit, rape is a crime regardless of the attacker’s intentions.

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Total depravity in the United States

Not what it sounds like. Slacktivist, some years ago, explained that in Calvinist thought, total depravity means everything is corrupted by original sin. This is different from utter depravity, the belief that we are rotten all the way through. We’re not; there’s good in us everywhere along with our dark side. But the dark side is there, much as some people want to deny it.

For example, Traverse City in Michigan. The Washington Post reports kids in school toss around the n-word as an insult and recently held a mock online slave auction. Nevertheless, many of the white adults are adamant there’s no racism in their town.

Since 2015, nooses have shown up at multiple construction projects throughout the U.S.

There’s now a shadow industry devoted to spreading disinformation online.

“We are not the only democracy to have had a corrupt, would-be authoritarian in high office. But we have had a hard time holding that person minimally accountable, much less keeping him out of contention for future office”

QAnon convinced the father of a Parkland shooting survivor that Parkland was a false flag.

“I promised myself to never love a job again. Not in the way I loved Google.” — a software engineer who filed a harassment complaint and discovered Google didn’t return her love like she thought.

Nashville pastor Greg Locke claims the Trump Virus is a hoax and bears false witness against his neighbor.

“I believe had they done so or had they accomplished that, they would have trampled us to death,” — one officer’s testimony about the Jan. 6 anti-American mob. But the new talking point on the right is, the terrorists couldn’t have succeeded in overturning the election, so no big, right?

Toyota has a vested interest in supporting supporters of the Jan. 6 attempted coup — their bottom line.

Even back in the 1950, there were some Republicans who thought the Democratic plan to provide polio vaccine for free was socialism.

Colleges’ core revenue increased from $280 billion to $511 billion between 2009 and 2019, according to LGM. By a strange coincidence, college presidents and administrators have seen a big increase in pay while faculty get next to nothing.

Taking wolves of the endangered species list wasn’t the worst thing Donald Trump did. But given the irrational hatred many rural folk harbor for wolves (check out the book Wolf Wars for details), the opportunity to butcher them is proving irresistible.

During the Clinton impeachment trial, I read and believed articles that said Ken Starr’s pursuit of Clinton was partly because he was an old-fashioned moralist, shocked at Clinton’s adultery. His record says otherwise.

Right-wing pundit Michael Medved wants us to know that even though many of the Founding Fathers owned slaves, they were totally opposed to slavery.

Mario Batali, super-star chef and restaurateur, built a company rife with sexual harassment.

If the FBI did in fact entrap the defendants in the Governor Whitmer kidnapping case, that would be extremely unjust. At this point I have no opinion on who’s in the right.

Journalist David Neiwert has argued that Rush Limbaugh pumped far-right rhetoric into the mainstream by toning down the worst parts (e.g., far-right attacks on the government rather than the “Zionist-occupied” government). It’s still a popular right-wing tactic online.

The United States treats rebels and revolutionaries differently depending whether they challenge or support the existing social hierarchies.

I am not at all shocked that the Arizona “audit” of the votes was not only full of shit, it was full of sexual harassment.

I am not at all shocked that right-wingers are declaring Simone Biles is weak, but I am disgusted.

Even when the government makes aid available it’s damn hard to get it, except for rich people.

The prison system has allowed Larry Nassar to spend thousands of dollars on himself while he sends a pittance to his victims.

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The Republicans have an edge in branding

I’ve often thought Republicans have an advantage in the media because their brand is known to be “shitty, bigoted authoritarians.” Democrats, by contrast, are supposed to be decent people. When Republicans act like scum, there’s a sense of shrug; when Democrats do it, there’s a sense of shock. We’re supposed to govern well, and clean up the mess Republicans make when they have power.

Republicans want to discriminate against gay? Well, of course. But stories about Trump supporter Alan Dershowitz not getting invited to parties or liberals saying they won’t date conservatives? Then suddenly intolerance is a big issue. If anyone on a Biden task force had suggested letting the Trump virus flourish in red states for political gain, it would be front page news. That someone on Jared’s task force proposed it? Hey, they’re Republicans, what do you expect?

Columbia Journalism Review makes the same point discussing coverage of the Jan. 6 commission. Republicans refused to cooperate unless coup-supporters such as Jim Jordan and Jim Banks were on it. Pelosi wisely shut that down, which the media portrayed as a Dem failure: Pelosi has doomed the chance the commission will accomplish anything (as if having two anti-American extremists on the commission would fix that). The article concludes that “‘Republican bad faith… is just a feature of the landscape,’ whereas a given Democrat is ‘an actor with agency, and subject to scrutiny.'” Republicans gonna Republican, that’s just the way it is.

Likewise the right-wing would pillory any Democrat who didn’t Rah Team for our Olympic competitors. We won’t see the same outrage against the Newsmax host who’s happy America’s losing. No surprise: I remember during football season last year, a bunch of FB posts said we should tune out football so we didn’t have to see players supporting Black Lives Matter.

That said, let’s look at what the American Hating Party has been up to:

Pro-coup Sen. Josh Hawley, meanwhile, has introduced a bill that bans federal funding for schools that teach the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were “the product of white supremacy and racism.” Just because the Constitution said Congress couldn’t ban the slave trade until 1808 and introduced the three-fifths clause to preserve the slave power I can’t see any reason to think slavery played a role in our founding. Comrade Hawley, as I’ve said before, would have fit well in the old USSR.

Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers wants us to know that “I like Indians and I like Redskins. I like Aunt Jemima and I like Uncle Ben. I like Robert E Lee and I like Stonewall Jackson. I don’t like traitors who hate America. Stand up for our culture!” Nothing says hating traitors like supporting the Confederacy — and she’s also a big supporter of stealing the White House from Biden.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is suing Pelosi because mask mandates are segregation. By amazing coincidence, the website her tweet links to is a fund-raiser for her. It’s part of the proud right-wing tradition of grift.

Rep. Elise Stefanik isn’t as batshit as Greene. But these days even mainstream Republicans blame Pelosi for Jan. 6.

And these days, Candace Owens is in the Republican mainstream by suing because Facebook fact-checked her Covid posts and said they were wrong.

If colleges provide medication abortions (which is currently legal), a Republican bill would strip their federal funding.

Trump wishes he’d lowered the flag for Ashli Babbitt, dead anti-American militant. Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde says the Jan. 6 mob were just tourists. And Tucker Carlson, of course, thinks cops traumatized by the attack are just big babies.

Matt Gaetz’s fiancee’s sister says he’s creepy as hell.

 

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I got your doom-scrolling right here: links

Some people refused to believe in the Trump Virus even as they died from it. Now we have towns burning from climate change but the residents blame environmentalists. Meanwhile, in Miami, poor black and Haitian neighborhoods on high ground are facing gentrification due to rising sea levels. Much like Covid, the right will proclaim climate change something we just have to live with. Republican state governments are already limiting the power of health officials to impose quarantines and other health measures in the next catastrophe.

Similarly, this country will do anything to stop school shootings except practice gun control — for example, moving a cemetery.

Speaking of the Trump Virus, here’s lying racist Laura Ingraham claiming that criticizing red states for being anti-vaxx is an elitist attack on “the trucks they drive, they don’t like how many kids they have. So it’s not just vaccine hesitancy they’re sneering at. It’s their entire being. I want people to understand that.” As if spreading lies about the vaccine to viewers who trust you didn’t demonstrate contempt. Fox liar Brian Kilmeade has suddenly discovers that presidents shouldn’t have opinions about dealing with the pandemic. The Former Guy’s White House liar Sarah Huckabee Sanders says if she’s elected governor of Arkansas she’s follow DeSantis style and impose no restrictions.

Israel’s NSO cyber-tech company has sold Pegasus spyware around the world. It hacks into your phone, sometimes without the target having to click on anything (the name comes because it’s a Trojan horse that flies onto your phone). There’s evidence governments have used it to spy on activists and journalists; NSO denies allowing that, but as it doesn’t monitor usage, it has no way to know. Here’s one alleged case of abuse. And possibly India is spying on the Dalai Lama. Technical stuff about Pegasus in this piece. NSO has ties to the Israeli government and insists they’re about stopping the bad guys.

The solution to employees not wanting to come back to work? Prison labor.

The FBI heard warnings about pedophile doctor Larry Nassar for years and did nothing. Nor with accused attempted rapist Brett Kavanaugh.

The right-wing may disagree about a lot, but they’re united that teaching kids about racism is bad. And that government helping people is bad too.

Anti-semite Rick Wiles calls for civil war to stop the Biden agenda. Prior to Jan. 6, I’d have thought that was a very long shot, but now I’m not so sure. We’ll definitely see more terrorist plots like this.

The Texas house has approved a bill punishing cities that reduce their police budget.

Right-wingers are increasingly delivering threats to TV newspeople.

Yet another example (from some years back) of right-wingers making money by being shitty people. Here’s another right-wing scam, the Freedom Phone. And the digital currency Magacoin. And osteopath anti-vaxxer Joseph Mercola.

The Catholic Church first heard warnings that Gabriele Martinelli was a molester more than a decade ago. They made him a priest anyway.

Libraries have books about gays and about racism, so right-wingers want to take libraries over.

Some police are all too willing to taser senior citizens.

In some black counties in the South up to 25 percent of requests for FEMA disaster aid get rejected.

While seeing the QAnon cultists and others turn on their own is amusing, Slacktivist points out it also enforces rigid party discipline: deviate from the party line and be accused of being one of the pedophile cultists.

“Donald Trump incited a violent mob to attempt to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, and, since Donald Trump remains the unchallenged leader of the Republican party, that means Republicans have to either enthusiastically support what Trump did, or, in the alternative, try to gaslight everyone with the claim that what happened didn’t happen. ”  — which is why Republicans oppose the Jan. 6 commission.

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So the Trump Virus is still with us …

But first, a reminder. When 3,000 people died on 9/11, we created a new security agency that can stop us from flying on planes. We got a no-fly list that takes away the right to fly completely. The government locked up José Padilla, an American citizen who’d committed no crime, for four years without trial because he’d allegedly bragged about working on an Al Qaeda terrorist plot. Plus all the enemy combatants locked up without trial, even though most of them were innocent.

As noted in the comments on this post, for right-wingers all of that is good government. Requiring citizens to wear masks — even if it’s private business doing it — encouraging them to get vaccinated, that’s a loss of our freedoms! If TSA agents request you wear a mask, now it’s okay to harass them.

Not that this is new. When I wrote columns pointing out that more U.S. soldiers had died in Iraq than Americans died on 9/11, someone would invariably respond that the military deaths were less than traffic accident fatalities every year.  Which was true of 9/11 too, but they didn’t admit it. So it’s no surprise that Republicans are doing their best to get the people who listen to them killed.

As noted at the link, Tucker Carlson, asked if he’s been vaccinated, claims that’s a vulgar question, just like asking “what’s your favorite sexual position?” Which I take to mean that the lying shit has indeed been vaccinated but he wants to keep drawing anti-vaxxer eyeballs. Carlson’s brand is whining about oppression of white Americans so I imagine whining about vaccines is just one more card to play. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s sincerely racist and misogynist, but he can also be a grifter.

Of course he’s not alone. Tennessee fired its top vaccination official, along with its push to reduce vaccination in schools. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis bragged about how he kept Trump virus cases down with minimal pandemic restrictions; now Florida cases are rocketing up.

And let’s not forget, it was The Former Guy who got the ball rolling. He insisted the virus was going away. Thought it would mostly affect blue states, so no problem (which shows the advantage Republicans have in the media. If Biden had made a similar decision about conservative areas, it would be front-page news). Scoffed at masking, refused to take precautions, allegedly thought of sending Americans returning home with COVID to Guantanamo Bay. And after becoming seriously ill with the Trump Virus, surviving thanks to the best medical care — he took that as a sign it was no big deal. Because he’s the right wing’s divinely anointed god-king of America, that made it a culture war issue.

Nevertheless, National Review wants to blame liberals for the right-wing reluctance to vaccinate — as always, we’re just too mean to the other side. Not because Republicans are propagandizing against it.

As a friend of mine said, we’ll end up with the virus as just another “unavoidable” cause of death, to be lived with like gun fatalities.

Damn them.

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Lack of empathy, lack of logic: Warren Farrell’s “The Myth of Male Power”

The cover of Warren Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power (uncredited art, as far as I could see) sums up his belief men are powerless in the face of a “genetic celebrity,” AKA an attractive woman. He’s wrong about that, as he is about much else.

The book isn’t all bad. As I said last week, unlike many critiques of feminism Farrell doesn’t assume old gender roles are the goal, or that they’re fixed and unchanging. He doesn’t think men are made for violence, and he believes they can be good caregivers and stay-at-home dads. He realizes shattering gender stereotypes is good for both sexes. And that prison rape is not a funny thing or a form of justice.

All of which makes me appreciate why it’s so tempting to just hate your enemies as monsters: it’s much simpler. It’s like seeing Mona Charen, who’s big on the buyer’s remorse rape-apologist bullshit, condemning Republicans for supporting Donald Trump and Roy Moore. It’s unsettling to realize someone I despise isn’t all bad.

That said, this book gives me plenty to despise. Farrell starts from illogical premises and then builds badly (not to mention including bad statistics and untrue statements). For example, he claims men are genetically hardwired to be women’s protectors, and women to crave protectors for mates). This is a paleofantasy, an assumption that as society is this way, it must be in our genes. Like most such assumptions, there’s no science to back it up. As philosopher Daniel Dennett once said, our ancestors often chose to live in caves but we don’t have a cave-dwelling gene.

Nevertheless, Farrell explains all kinds of things based on his assumption. Boys bully each other to test their fitness as protectors. Polygamy exists to protect women from winding up monogamously married to a poor man. Workplace gender discrimination protects married women by ensuring their husbands have fewer competitors at work. Men die in war to protect women. In Farrell’s eyes, society doesn’t oppress women, it cherishes them.

Farrell also believes our biological imperative is for man to aggressively pursue women while women keep saying no; eventually the man overwhelms her resistance and she surrenders happily, knowing she has a strong mate who’ll fight for her. In other words, no means yes. Farrell doesn’t literally say every no means yes but he comes close. He claims, for example, that sexual harassment suits mean “yes” — the woman doesn’t want him to give up pursuing her, she’s still just testing him. Besides, if women look attractive at work, obviously they’re open to hooking up (and marrying and quitting, so the boss is totally justified in firing good-looking women).

This leads into another flaw, Farrell’s complete lack of empathy for women. In writing about dating and relationships, he thinks both men and women should be willing to ask the other out, pay for dinner if they ask, etc., which is reasonable enough. But he focuses almost entirely on the male side, the pain and discomfort of being rejected by a genetic celebrity. He ignores that most women aren’t sexy, any more than men, and that the mating dance is just as agonizing for women, if not more so. As Laurie Penny says, “I was taught to fear being a whore or a loser if I answered, never mind asked myself. Sex isn’t an achievement for a young girl. It’s something we’re supposed to embody so other people can consume us, and if we fail at that, what are we even for?” Farrell seems to think the problem is women enjoying their power and making men come to them, not that society — and a fair number of men — often treat them like shit for not doing womanhood right.

And that leads into his utterly loathsome views of rape and harassment. For Farrell it’s men who suffer: men have to take the initiative in sex and relationships but if they’re not a good lover or they “initiate at the wrong time,” suddenly it’s rape! They have to ask the woman out but if she’s a coworker and she isn’t interested, bam, he’s a harasser (asking a colleague out once, assuming you’re not in authority over her, is not usually enough to cause harassment). Feminists have “taught” women to sue for date rape but nobody’s taught men to sue if women say yes, then change their mind which is just as traumatic (no, it isn’t).

Stranger rape, that’s bad, but date rapists are just dudes who “initiated badly” or weren’t good lovers. And yet as soon as they make their innocent mistake, blammo, a woman can ruin them. She feels buyer’s remorse, or she just lies — Farrell’s convinced there are huge numbers of false rape charges out there. The FBI doesn’t think so, but federal statistics are unreliable: as far as the FBI knows, we could have no false charges, or we could have 100 percent (the FBI can state as a fact we do not have 100 percent fake rape charges).

 

 

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Weaselly liars and Republicans, but I repeat myself

Sean Turnbull is a conspiracy theorist who makes a good living out of it (see this post for more examples): he warns his fans to BUY GOLD, and takes ads from companies that let people invest in gold. And he has no qualms about using anti-Semitic bullshit about a “Zionist banker international cabal” run by the Rockefellers and Rothschilds. Turnbull says he’s “hopeful” QAnon is true, which is kind of hair-raising — as Fred Clark of Slacktivist puts it, nobody should be hopeful there’s a network of Satanic pedophiles running part of the government.

Here we have a Fox News weasel argument, regarding right-wing lies that the U.S. Women’s Soccer team turned their backs on a man playing the Star Spangled Banner. It isn’t true but Fox talking heads claim people’s willingness to believe it is “a sign of where we are.” This is bullshit a former friend of mine played during Obama’s presidence: confronted with evidence of right-wing paranoia, he argued, quite smugly, that the real issue is what Obama did to make people distrust him so much.

Texas Republicans can’t stand the idea that the Texan war of independence was about slavery (see here). Heck Kayleigh McEnany, who recently explains she’s too good a Christian to lie, lies and claims the Founding Fathers all opposed slavery.

Most Ivy League college women say they wouldn’t date a Trump supporter. According to National Review, that’s yet more proof how conservatives are oppressed.

Someone once said the one good thing about Trump is that he’ll always backstab his inner circle. Case in point, he’s now refusing to pay Giuliani’s legal bills.

Speaking of legal, Trump’s filed a class-action suit against social media for censoring him (a topic I’ve covered here). In the same spirit as Steve Turnbull, the ex-president is raising funds for the lawsuit that will be channeled to other projects. Trump and Republicans have a history of scamming voters into recurring donations and Republican fund-raisers are shocked and appalled Democratic attorney generals are now investigating.

More legal: A judge rips into The Kraken and Trump’s other lawyers for filing bullshit lawsuits (”

The judge noted that one observer stated in an affidavit that she believed she saw election workers switching votes from Trump to Biden. Parker asked whether any of the lawyers had spoken to the witness and inquired what exactly she saw that led her to believe that votes had been switched. She was greeted with silence.”).

Taylor Swift called out Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn on her politics back in 2018 and said she was voting for the Democratic candidate. Blackburn’s response: Marxists won’t allow women to sing in public so Swift better vote Republican! In the same spirit Colorado Republican Ken Buck claims Google stole 15 million Trump votes by “flipping the algorithm … it absolutely happened!”

The Former Guy hid in his bunker and threatened death for any protesters who got past the White House security. But he’s shocked that Ashli Babbitt, Jan. 6 insurrectionist, died attacking this country. Right-wingers, some of whom celebrated when unidentified cops kidnapped people on Portland (“Don’t let the left dox them!”) are outraged the cop who shot her hasn’t been identified. Of course Trump continues lying that the Sedition Day crowd was peaceful and loving.

Having deleted his old anti-Trump tweets, J.D. “Hillbilly Elegy” Vance is running for office in Ohio. Some reporters are thrilled, possibly because they want a classier Trump.

Marko Kepi, a Trump-supporting NYC city council member, has been accused of forging ballots to win his seat (though he’s only under investigation at this point — it’s fully possible he’s innocent).

It’s a law in Texas that schools teach “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong.” Republicans object. As Rick Perlstein says, the spirit of the far right is never far from mainstream Republican thought.

And remember despite all the arguments of “well Dems do it too,” Democrats are not as enthused about inflicting pain on their enemies as Republicans.

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Undead Sexist Cliche: Let’s kill women to compensate for the male war dead!

As I said last week, I really hated buying Warren Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power because it put money in his pocket, but it has proven a wise decision. While he’s got one or two good things to say — unlike a lot of people I cover in Undead Sexist Cliches, he doesn’t believe men are innately violent or that we can’t be nurturing — his efforts to both-sides feminism (men and women are both oppressed! Women hurt men as badly as men hurt women!) are a mess of bullshit.

I’ll get into that when I’ve finished the whole book, but today I want to focus on one particular point. In discussing how men and only men have to register for the draft, Farrell asks how we’d feel if the president suddenly announced “Since 1.2 million American men have been killed in war, as part of my new program for equality, we will draft only women until 1.2 million American women have been killed in war.”

No, he’s not making a serious proposal, he’s just using this to dramatize how men, in his view, are oppressed and feminists don’t care. He complains, for example, that feminists offered women greater freedom without calling for greater responsibilities — notice how NOW didn’t call for 18-year-old girls to be drafted like men? Feminists think women are oppressed but it’s only men who die in wars or fighting to create empires.

Even given that Farrell’s not serious, his proposal creeps me out. It’s the equivalent of BLM saying they’ll stop protesting when they see one white cop shot for every innocent black person killed by a cop. Even if BLM were just doing it to dramatize injustice, it would feel very wrong. So does Farrell.

That aside, his fixation on the draft is a good example of how tottyheaded his thinking is. I’m in complete agreement that both men and women (and the nonbinary) should register as long as selective service exists. However registration hasn’t turned into a draft in the past forty years, not even when our military was straining to cope with the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations. Farrellis correct that the government could order all registered men report for induction, but it doesn’t seem likely. Nor does his link between a men-only draft and prison rape make a lick of sense.

He complains that Margaret Thatcher was exempt from the UK draft but didn’t get judged for it the way Bill Clinton and Dan Quayle did. It’s hard to see Thatcher not being eligible is equivalent to consciously avoiding the draft; if Clinton had been pilloried just for not enlisting, the argument would make more sense (Obama didn’t serve and didn’t get much crap about it). Then again, W avoided the draft and was largely held up as a fighter pilot war hero manly man while decorated veteran John Kerry was branded a weasel who faked his own injuries. Farrell couldn’t have known that in 1993 when his book came out, but he could have acknowledged it in the updated introduction.

Farrell’s point isn’t just the draft/registration, it’s the general principle that fighting and dying in a war shouldn’t be a measure of manhood. No argument here (though from reading a lot of military history, I think there’s a lot more to war and being a soldier). But Farrell twists the argument to the breaking point to fit his theme, that society oppresses men to protect women. Men die in wars so that women can be safe. Men die in colonial wars so that their country’s economy will grow and families can afford to raise children. Men — not women!

Farrell had no way of knowing that women in 2021 would be able to join the military and serve in combat roles (something some women have done throughout history). Even in 1993, though, his argument is bullshit (as We Hunted the Mammoth has pointed out discussing male body counts). Our military casualties in Vietnam were overwhelmingly (not entirely) male but thousands of Vietnamese women died along with their men. Women died in the Rape of Nanking. They died in the London Blitz. They died in empire building: the warriors in America’s Indian Wars may have been male but Native American women died in the millions along with their men.

And how is this feminism’s fault? The American males-only draft was the work of a government dominated by men (and no, the primary motive was not to protect America’s women). The same government excluded women from serving in combat — it wasn’t until the Spanish-American War that women had any role in the U.S. military. Feminists didn’t push for women to be drafted; they did, however support the Equal Rights Amendment which would have mandated a gender-neutral draft (antifeminist women hated the idea). Feminists  have a long history of opposing the draft for men and supporting the rights of women to serve in combat roles (though some feminists saw this as caving into the military-industrial complex or worried about military service putting women under the control of men).

Betty Friedan saw the potential for what Farrell claims feminists neglected, the chance to redefine masculinity: if both genders are fighters, violence no longer defines manhood. TYG’s comment when I mentioned Farrell’s idea was that she’d be delighted with a women-only draft. A generation or two where women got heavily trained in how to fight and use weapons and men didn’t? Works for her.

I suspect both these thoughts are among the reasons right-wingers hate women in the military, like Ted Cruz freaking out that women soldiers can’t win against Russia’s manly essence. The last thing he wants in the world is women who are tougher and stronger than he’ll ever be.

Like I said, I’ll be back with more on the book in a later post.

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Undead Sexist Cliches: I’m using logic, therefore feminists are wrong

Some years back, I remember one right-winger arguing that liberals who refuse to accept evolutionary psychology’s proof about gender differences are as anti-science as creationists. Science says women have evolved to stay home with babies; you may not like this, but you can’t argue with it and pretend to believe in science.

As I say at the link, believing in science doesn’t obligate me to believe in every scientific theory, or even every evolutionary theory: Lamarck, Lysenko  and countless others believed their theories were sound science, but they were wrong. Nevertheless, lots of sexists and racists take this tack: it’s not that they’re bigoted, it’s just that the evidence — science, statistics — is so damn conclusive. They hate saying it, but it’s true, men (or white people) are just superior.

Some of them, I’m sure, don’t believe their own words, they just figure it’s a trap for us: you libs value logic? You think science is the guide to truth? Well, then here’s some damn science and logic in your face! You’ve been owned (See this Sartre quote).

Some people find the lure of believing logic is on their side irresistible. This excellent article, for example, points out that guys who’ve been “redpilled” — their eyes have been opened to all the ways women oppress men in the modern world — are convinced their positions are irrefutably logical. The author, Aisling McCrea, makes the same point about some atheists: they see logic not as a system of thought you can use to find truth but a kind of instant cosmic awareness: I’m using logic, I must be right!

Not that I’m arguing against logic: it’s a good tool and often a valuable one. In some circumstances, a gut reaction or a wild-ass guess may be better. As Gavid deBecker says in The Gift of Fear, if you get a gut-reaction that you shouldn’t trust this nice person offering to carry your groceries and that you, are, in fact, creeped out, there’s probably a good reason. Play it safe and trust your gut.

As McCrea details, though, screaming that you’re using logic doesn’t mean that you are, in fact, logical (the same is true of people who insist something is Just Common Sense. Sometimes it isn’t). It doesn’t mean the person you’re arguing with isn’t also being logical. Two people can reach different logical reasons for multiple reasons. For example, if you start from the premise that women don’t like sex or that date rape is just buyers’ remorse, you’re going to reach different conclusions than someone who knows both those statements are untrue. If you “know” all women want kids, ditto.

Or as Cathy O’Neil says, if someone looked at the post-college life of graduates back in 1960, it might seem obvious that men put their degrees to good use, women just stay home with the kids — maybe there’s no point in letting women attend school, right? If they don’t see the problem lies in discrimination against working women rather than women’s desires, they’ll reach the wrong conclusion.

We may be completely unaware of our own bias. Cordelia Fine says our performance on gender-linked skill tests can vary depending whether the skill is presented as male or female. And most of us (myself included) are inclined to believe science that supports our side over studies that don’t

We may be choose to cling to “logic” and “facts” even when we don’t have them because we want to believe, as Fred Clark discusses about one old urban legend.

I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t use logic or that we sit around unsure about everything we believe. But the more extreme our conclusions — anything that says violence is the only option or that other people shouldn’t have rights — the more careful about acting on “logic” we should be. As the writer G.K. Chesteron says, life is a trap for logicians: it looks more logical than it really is.

 

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