Day: 2014.11.11

The Burning Question

"And, er, they are tight.  I mean tight all the way down to the ankles.  And that is not modest, brothers.  No.  It's not appropriate.  It's not sound of mind.  And I was proud of the circuit overseer, who told me this past summer at one of the international conventions—'cause he brought it up—one of these fellas shows up for his circuit overseer visit, and he wants to go out in the ministry, work with him door to door, and he's wearing tight pants." (Anthony Morris III/Kingdom Hall)

One of the challenges facing the blogosphere is its localization. While the democratizing of the internet does mean that any idiot anywhere with an internet conection can now have a soapboxα, there is also the possibility that nobody who happens to live anywhere else has a clue what you mean. Who else is going to understand the Mudhoney bit with socks and toasters, or why the Soundgarden video with the spoons is so damn hilarious?

Okay, plenty, I suppose. It just requires careful watching. Of music videos.

Okay, better example: Who the hell else understands David Schmader?β

I ain't gay no more! I'm delivered!To the other, it is not so cryptic to wonder at the sight of that guy wearing that jacket with that shirt, and that tie and silk square announcing, “I’m not gay no more. I am delivered!”

Which, you know … right. Good for you, dude. Go into business. Jesus the Carpenter would make a killing on closet doors.

Oh, right. Sorry, wrong theology. I’m thinking of Prosperity Gospel, not the Good News of Self-Hatred.

Actually … er .. right. Never mind.

But what, you might ask yourself, is the purpose of such a ranting blog post? Well, to the one, in Slog terms, it’s an entertainment thing. The Stranger and its readers seem to enjoy morbid comedy, and, well, inasmuch as queerness just radiates from the clip, even down to the preacher’s attempt to stir revivalist flames while maintaining a dignified, wooden appearance, ranges between queer and downright f’d up. That is, there comes a point where you look at the little pink glans ring on the microphone as the young man comes in(to) the closet ....

Oh, Jesus. Lord help us.

Look, Freudian fallacies (and phalluses) pass for comedy vérité of the highest order around here.γ But it is true; there are fewer places in human society that understand The Stranger in general, or David Schmader in particular, than, say, Calvinism.

But this is where the fun really begins, because after the chuckle comes the scary part.

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The Shadow Over Kansas

The Capitol of Kansas, in Topeka.

Kansas will face a $279 million budget shortfall by July, far worse than state officials had thought before a new revenue forecast Monday that will force Gov. Sam Brownback and legislators to consider spending cuts.

Associated Press

The news only gets worse from there, you know.

Look, we are an American community.

Quick, someone tell the folks in Kansas. Wait, what’s that? They don’t care?

I realize Brownback has an “R” after his name, but the fact that Kansans actually re-elected this guy, despite the option of a credible and experienced challenger, and despite the disaster of his signature issue, is kind of amazing.

Of course, let’s not forget Art Laffer, the Republican economist who helped shape Brownback’s plan, who’s perhaps best known for his “Laffer Curve” which says tax cuts can pay for themselves. He, of course, feels vindicated, not because the Kansas plan is failing, but because Brownback won re-election regardless of his performance.

(Benen)

In this photo taken Sept. 6, 2014, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback speaks in Hutchinson, Kansas. The writing is on the wall for gay marriage bans in Kansas, Montana and South Carolina after federal appeals courts that oversee those states have made clear that keeping gay and lesbian couples from marrying is unconstitutional. But officials in the three states are refusing to allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses without a court order directing them to do so. It could be another month or more before the matter is settled. In a political campaign debate Monday, Brownback vowed to defend his state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. A federal court hearing is scheduled for Friday.(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)As tempting as it might seem to rub our hands in curious satisfaction and chuckle deep in our throats like supervillains about to watch mindless, ant-like humanity destroy itself, the simple fact is that we’re Americans, not supervillains. And what Kansans are doing to themselves ought to be their own business, except, like masturbation, it becomes a problem when you visit your kinks on other people who don’t want anything to do with the mess you’re making.

And that’s the thing. Not every Kansan stays in Kansas, and the longer this goes on the more and more noticeable it will be when the young generation shows up in other states, with less education, and suffers in the job market. That is to say, even if we find some justification to say we’re just fine with the Sunflower State willfully squandering the futures of its youngest generation, everybody else is going to have to take up the slack.

We can’t just build a border fence and pen them in. That’s just not what Americans do.

But at the same time, these are the United States of America, after all. If general decency is insufficient, then think of the inconvenience this sort of thing might cause you in a future not so distant.

____________________

Associated Press. “Kansas faces $279 million budget shortfall by summer”. KSN. 10 November 2014.

Benen, Steve. “Brownback’s economic failures start to look even worse”. msnbc. 11 November 2014.

A Cheeky Chickie Champloo

Detail of 'Ampersand', by Barry Deutsch, 9 October 2014.  (Remix November, 2014.)The thing about “prevention” advocacy is that it can actually empower what it seeks to “prevent”. Consider all the things we deign to inform women about rape; there comes a point when telling women what they should and shouldn’t do becomes a quality of life issue. To wit, what about your clothes? When you go out on the town, wear clothes and shoes suitable for running, and you know, get a better haircut. At some point it sounds like this infintite prevention advocacy comes down to: “Plan your life around being sexually assaulted.” This would seem to invoke some sort of quality of life issue. Human rights. Who the hell other than women do we expect to live in perpetual fear?

No, really. Think about it. A year and a half ago, amid a string of sexual assaults and attempted abductions, Anna Minard of The Stranger (Seattle’s Only Newspaper) threw down the obvious gauntlet:

So, to review: Seattleites—and let’s be honest, we’re talking mostly to women here—as you go about your business, constantly scan your surroundings, memorizing detailed physical descriptions of people you encounter. Always know, down to the exact block, where you are and where the nearest security guard is and the hours of nearby businesses. Wear running shoes and loose, appropriate clothing—aka clothing appropriate for running away in. Bring your cell phone, but don’t use it to listen to music or text. And as you walk through the city like a human danger-scanner, walk confidently and keep your face neutral. You’re “in charge”!The Stranger

WHAT THE FUCK?

I’m sure the police department is working to solve these crimes. I’m sure they just want to remind people that we live in a city and crime is real and it can happen to you. But this is exactly the kind of shit that we are talking about when we talk about women being raised in a culture of fear and conditioned to certain behaviors and expectations—like the expectation that we’re the ducks in a giant game of Duck Hunt™ ....

.... Here, as a refresher, are the best rape prevention tips I’ve ever read:

8. Use the Buddy System! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from raping women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you at all times.

That is the conversation I would like to see happening at the Seattle Police Department, and not just among women on women’s blogs. Not a convoluted and ever-growing list of how to prevent your own rape by wearing the right non-rapey hairstyle or crossing the street in the most anti-rape fashion or sleeping in past the raping hour.

That is not helping women and, obviously, it is not ending rape.

We might mention this particular iteration for any number of reasons, suffice to say that there do exist in this world social circles where the 2013 events in Seattle triggered a long-running dispute between associates, a microcosmic reiteration of a genuinely ridiculous debate.

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Not What We Would Call Comforting

So here’s the score.

There is always a ripple of gratification when it emerges that one is not alone in noticing something. That is to say, as something obvious occurs and nobody else seems to notice, or else they simply do not care, there will always be a sensation of encouragement in recognizing that other people both notice and care.Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, 11 November 2014.  (via Daily Kos Comics)

To wit, cartoonist Jen Sorensen.

So, yes, it is nice to know that we at This Is are not alone in the Universe; other people notice the functional contradiction. To the other, it is also a price of political liberalism: More often than not, when you’re right, there is no cause for celebration.

What They Voted For

TedCruz-bw-banner

One of the hammers that has yet to drop after the 2014 GOP midterm victory is the obvious question:

Top Republicans want Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be attorney general delayed until they are in charge of the Senate — and they are insisting she divulge whether she supports the president’s plan to act without Congress on a major immigration amnesty.

Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky issued a Friday statement saying her nomination should be considered “in the new Congress,” and on Saturday, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah also pushed for a delay.

Cruz and Lee issued a joint statement highlighting their demand Lynch divulge her thoughts on whether an executive amnesty would be constitutional.

“President [Barack] Obama’s Attorney General nominee deserves fair and full consideration of the United States Senate, which is precisely why she should not be confirmed in the lame duck session of Congress by senators who just lost their seats and are no longer accountable to the voters. The Attorney General is the President’s chief law enforcement officer. As such, the nominee must demonstrate full and complete commitment to the law. Loretta Lynch deserves the opportunity to demonstrate those qualities, beginning with a statement whether or not she believes the President’s executive amnesty plans are constitutional and legal.”

(Dennis)

It is not as if we should be surprised; they told us before the election. Even the Speaker of the House is on board with the suggestion that a lame-duck congress should walk away from its duties, even with a war on the line.

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