Day: 2014.11.24

A Glimpse Ahead to Yesterday

Detail of 'This Modern World' by Tom Tomorrow, 24 November 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.Every once in a while, it occurs to me to wonder about what seems a recurring fault in futurist speculation, and that is the tendency to translate what other people might think or feel in terms of what we see. It works the same way when looking at history; we can rest assured the Founding Fathers were not consciously calculating just how evil they could be while taking the piss in the form of a Three-Fifths “compromise”.

And then I remind myself that, in the end, the consideration is of setups and punch lines in comic strips, which takes some of the sting out of it.

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 24 November 2014.But then one might point out that it is the twenty-first century, and our social mores often seem tethered to the 1950s. You know, in the glorious world of the future, will there really be a journalistic cottage industry dedicated to exposing the sex lives of celebrities? Of course there will.

And so on.

It is easy enough to talk oneself out of hope.

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Tomorrow, Tom. This Modern World. Daily Kos Comics. 24 November 2014.

Weiner, Zach. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 24 November 2014.

A Lion Flipping Off a Turtle

Detail of 'Animal Nuz #2261 by Eric Lewis, 22 November 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.Because how can we resist?

(Detail of Animal Nuz #226 by Eric Lewis, 22 November 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.)

The End of a Short Chapter

Detail of the Seal of the State of Nevada.

And then it was over.

After facing a firestorm of criticism for racist comments he made publicly, incoming Assembly Speaker Ira Hansen announced that he would not lead the chamber during the upcoming legislative session.

After announcing to his legislative colleagues that he was stepping down, Hansen issued a news release today saying the controversy surrounding him had been an “orchestrated attack.”

“The deliberate character assassination and the politics of personal destruction have totally distorted my views and record,” he said in the release. “Ultimately, this whole attack has very little to do with my views. The powers that be are planning a massive, more than $1 billion, tax increase and I stood in the way as speaker. I have already served two terms as an assemblyman without any of these vicious attacks. It was only when I had risen to leadership that this smear campaign occurred. That is the real reason for this and it is vital the public understands that.”

(Roerink)

Sort of.

Start imagining how to posture this episode for conservative-cause fundraising.

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Roerink, Kyle. “Nevada Assembly’s speaker-elect steps down amid racism controversy”. Las Vegas Sun. 23 November 2014.

The Logic of Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL05)

Chris Hayes discusses immigration reform with Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL05), who cannot explain why he thinks President Obama, out of several presidents who undertook the issue within executive purview, is the only one who ever broke the law in doing so.  On Hayes' msnbc show, "All In" (21 Nov. 2014), the Alabama congressman was incapable of even recognizing that President Ronald Reagan had granted amnesty to undocumented immigrants.

Any number of questions come to mind. There are the humorous musings about whether we might include political conservatism under the spectrum of disorders and disabilities requiring reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. And, yes, that sounds cruel for any number of reasons; first, let us clear up that yes, one of the problems with such a joke is that it trivializes much more established and objective disabilities; but then we might also point out that we are already bending over backwards to accommodate delusional behavior from many Republicans, and yes, there are mental health issues that land squarely within the ADA.

Denial can be a powerful emotional response, can’t it? If the right believes President Obama’s economic policies have failed, and they’re confronted with evidence of a falling unemployment rate, then there must be a conspiracy involving the jobless numbers. If the right believes Benghazi conspiracies are real, and they’re confronted with proof to the contrary, then the proof must be rejected.

But on Friday’s “All in with Chris Hayes,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) took this to a whole new level.

Brooks, you’ll recall, believes President Obama’s executive actions on immigration may be criminal acts that could land the president in prison. With this in mind, Chris asked a good question: “When President Reagan granted deferred action from 200,000 people from El Salvador who come here illegally, was he breaking the law in the same way?” It led to this exchange:

BROOKS: I have not examined what Bill Clinton did. This is a very serious manner. The Constitution imposes a heavy burden on us–

HAYES: No, no, no, I’m sorry. President Ronald Reagan. President Ronald Reagan, sir?

BROOKS: I think the individual facts are important, the mental intent of the actor. That case, Bill Clinton, now Barack Obama, those factors are important.

It really is a smooth evasion. He does not even try to deflect the point, just moves past it as if it doesn’t exist. One wonders how much calculation and practice goes into that maneuver, or if it is just pathological.

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Benen, Steve. “Mo Brooks and the power of denial”. msnbc. 24 November 2014.

Hayes, Chris. “Rep. Mo Brooks: Obama encouraging illegal immigration”. All In with Chris Hayes. msnbc. 21 November 2014.

¡Benghazi! (Walk and Chew Tinfoil Mix)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) thinks his fellow Republicans are full of crap because they couldn't find a way to support his pet tinfoil conspiracy theory.

Sometimes we need a specific setup to make the punch ilne; this isn’t high comedy theory, or anything, but part of the latest episode in the Benghazi debacle only stands out in relationship unto itself, that this is the House Intelligence Committee report:

A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

(Dilanian)

So let that be a lesson; yes, when it comes down to the proverbial brass tacks, Congress can occasionally be expected to do its job. There are, of course, any number of explanations for the GOP’s partisan pandering over the interim, and a lot of it just comes down to fundraising to the one and the difference between acknowledging or exploiting human frailty to the other. The tinfoil scheme was largely a fundraising gig, you know? Intended to fleece willing sheep. Right?

“I think the report is full of crap,” [Sen. Lindsey] Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union” ....

.... CNN host Gloria Borger then told Graham that the House report concludes that the administration received bad information at first and did not lie.

“That’s a bunch of garbage,” Graham shot back. “That’s a complete bunch of garbage.”

(MacNeal)

Oh.

I guess tinfoil is as tinfoil does.

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Dilanian, Ken. “House intel panel debunks many Benghazi theories”. The Big Story. 21 November 2014.

MacNeal, Caitlin. “Lindsey Graham Won’t Accept New Benghazi Report: It’s ‘Full Of Crap'”. Talking Points Memo Livewire. 23 November 2014.

A Note About Rape Culture

Bill Cosby performing in Melbourne, Fla., on Friday, 21 November 2014. (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Marc Lamont Hill offers a useful primer on the idea of rape culture:

Over the past few weeks, new attention has been paid to longstanding allegations that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted multiple women over the course of his career. As new information and accusers are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.

By “rape culture,” I refer to the ways that our society and its institutions normalize, promote, excuse, and enable sexual violence against men and women. While I cannot definitively say that Cosby is guilty of the crimes of which he is accused, the conversation about him epitomizes some of the most pernicious aspects of rape culture.

There are reasons assertions of rape culture are controversial, and it is important to recognize the two primary drivers of objections to the concept of rape culture are pride and, well, it would sound weird to say “capitalism”, and that isn’t quite right, but it has to do with opportunity and reward.

In the first place, rape culture isn’t something to be proud of; our contributions to such outcomes are often conditioned behavior, and in the end, even if we carry conscious misogyny, it is not like we would admit we have wrong ideas. Nobody enjoys self-indictment.

The second is the idea of a marketplace hungry for comfort. And this downright sounds silly until one pauses to consider the idea of men’s rights advocacy, and the basic controversy about what that phrase actually means. Paul Constant of The Stranger reminded earlier this year that there are fewer of these types than we tend to imagine, but “those few activists are exactly as terrible as you think”.

He referred to an event in Michigan earlier this year, the first “International Conference on Men’s Issues”, and for those hoping that such a gathering might produce something more than the usual misogyny we hear from this manner of asserting men’s rights, well, more fool you. Or, perhaps, in the context of a marketplace hungry for comfort:

The crowd broke out in laughter when one speaker suggested most alleged rapes on college campuses are fabricated.

“The vast majority of female students allegedly raped on campus are actually voicing buyer’s remorse from alcohol-fueled promiscuous behavior involving murky lines of consent on both sides,” said Barbara Kay, a columnist for Canada’s National Post. “It’s true. It’s their get-out-of-guilt-free card, you know like Monopoly.”

† † †

Janet Bloomfield, an anti-feminist blogger and spokeswoman for the conference, has suggested in the past that the age of consent be reduced to 13 because of a “mistake of age” can get unwitting men in trouble.

“The point being that it can be incredibly difficult to know, just by looking at someone, how old they are,” Bloomfield wrote, calling some teenage girls “fame whores.” Bloomfield also called protesters of the event, “Wayne State cunts.”

In a marketplace society, you can always find someone willing to sell what other people want. One of the foremost purveyors of what this market wants to hear is Wendy McElroy who wrote earlier this year:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and it will be used to promote a big lie — namely, that we live in a “rape culture.”

Such an approach is not helpful, especially when it relies entirely on fallacy:

The idea that America is a rape culture is a particularly vicious big lie, because it brands all men as rapists or rape facilitators. This lie has been successful despite reality.

And there you have it. To the one, no national culture is monolithic; to the other, the only person asserting that “America is a rape culture” would be Ms. McElroy, in the course of building a windmill to tilt.

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