Month: March 2015

A Conservative Outlook on Parenting, or, Why Your Daughter Is Weak

Actor Gavin McInnes and director Chad Harbold attend [the] Shorts Program II during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival at Racquet Club Theatre on January 16, 2009, in Park City, Utah.  (Photo by Kristin Murphy/WireImage)

“Right, so drill that into your daughter and say ‘You’re weak. You’re vulnerable. You’re not a superhero. You’re in danger.”

Gavin McInnes

They are certainly getting louder, and shouting more clearly. To the other, it is hard to see how this is helpful.

Apparently, though, this is Gavin McInness explaining to FOX News how to be a good parent.

McInnes argued that liberals who promote gender equality have made women who choose to go on spring break “more vulnerable.”

“I think this is a perfect example of liberals’ cognitive dissonance where they say ‘Everything’s cool. Hey, it’s spring break. People party. Women are the same as men,'” McInnes said. “When you have that stupid lie in your mind you end up making women more vulnerable. These women are not as strong as men.”

“When you let them go down there, you’re a terrible parent,” he added. “If you let your son go down there, you’re a fairly bad parent. But sons are different than daughters.”

Hannity later asked McInnes whether that was a double standard.

“Of course it is,” he responded. “We’re different. Sorry. Equality is a myth.”

We should also note, as Catherine Thompson pointed out in her report for Talking Points Memo, that this might become an annual FOX News event:

Clearly little progress has been made since last year’s “Hannity” spring break investigation, when McInnes and Earhardt got into the exact same argument.

Real quick, please, a show of hands: Is anybody actually surprised?

No, seriously, rape culture advocacy and FOX News? Does the day end in —y?

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Image note: Actor Gavin McInnes and director Chad Harbold attend [the] Shorts Program II during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival at Racquet Club Theatre on January 16, 2009, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Kristin Murphy/WireImage)

Thompson, Catherine. “Fox Guest: Liberal Myths Are Making Spring Break Dangerous For Women”. Talking Points Memo. 25 March 2015.

The Unbearble Burden of Wealth

Detail of 'Ampersand' by Barry Deutsch, 9 October 2011, via LeftyCartoons.com

“What about when I get to the convention? Last time, I was sitting in a box. This time, I may not even get a ticket!”

Anonymous Bush Donor

Among theses you just don’t hear much about was one that arrived in a college catalog some years ago, showing off the work of their graduates. A Master’s degree was awarded for a paper connecting the French Revolution to fashion styles demanding distressed clothing. Think professionally-ripped, stone-washed skinny jeans circa the hair-glam years. And, to be certain, it makes sense. Tattered, battle-weary revolutionaries stumbling home victorious; ’tis a romantic image, we might suppose, if the horrors of war count for romance.

The late Benjamin DeMott called the modern phenomenon Omni Syndrome, in which the object is to conform to the styles and standards of the largest demographic classifications within a society. Thus the dictator plays up his revolutionary history; politicians argue about log cabins and bread bags; the rich and famous want to be seen as just like everybody else, but only as long as it advances their careers.

There was a time when being a millionaire meant something in these United States. Omni Syndrome is so easily twisted that a presidential candidate can argue that a multimillionaire is “middle class”. And now these middle-class millionaires hope to complain that their extraordinary influence is waning.

“Staffers”? Politically engaged millionaires have been reduced to hearing from aides rather than the candidates themselves? The horror.

Evidently, in this new environment, with a proliferation of hyper-wealthy donors, mere millionaires don’t receive the consideration and responsiveness to which they’ve grown accustomed. Neese told the Post that the major Republican presidential hopefuls are “only going to people who are multi-multi-millionaires and billionaires.”

One former Bush Ranger complained, “What about when I get to the convention? Last time, I was sitting in a box. This time, I may not even get a ticket!” ....

.... The piece added that there’s “palpable angst” among donors who used to receive VIP treatment, but whose phones no longer ring: “One longtime bundler recently fielded a call from a dispirited executive on his yacht, who complained, ‘We just don’t count anymore.'”

(Benen)

(more…)

A Note on Fact Checking, Equivocation, and the American Press

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

“Sometimes a lawmaker will wander on the floor of the House or Senate and begin speaking without any notes. That’s a big mistake, especially for someone like Sessions — who is chairman of the House Rules Committee and was speaking about the federal budget.”

Glenn Kessler

The American political discourse is a strange brew of curious and even counterintuitive histories. There are the politicians, as a general classification, and if everything that can be said about them has been, it still isn’t enough. Voters are viciously demanding, and often contradictory unto themselves, both generally as a classification and particularly as individuals. The press is a business proposition―not the Fourth Estate―that has discovered better profits pretending that all things are equal.

Perhaps we might recall John Kerry’s run for president in 2004. The former U.S. Senator and current Secretary of State encountered a familiar problem along the way, a group of right-wing scandalmongers that had dogged him with their complaints for decades. He did what he always did, what people in Massachusetts were accustomed to, which was try to ignore them.

In the end, that didn’t work, because the press didn’t just treat the Swiftboat controversy as a shiny object, but as a shiny new thing. The American mainstream press is a business proposition, not the Fourth Estate. Due diligence in American journalism is simply enough explained: If somebody says something about somebody else, ask that other person. If there is a history defining the original claim as false, that is not of any useful concern to the press.

For Kerry, the fix was essentially in. Addressing the fake scandal was to stoop; ignoring the fake scandal was bad politics. That these people were lying and always had been was not of any useful concern to the press, despite the dishonesty being apparent from the outset.

In the end, Kerry was vindicated when a Newsweek reporter tracked down the third person who received medals for his actions on the day in question, and even the official paperwork showed Larry Thurlow to be a liar. The press’ response? To complain about John Kerry.

Voters? Hell, most can’t even be bothered to read the state voters’ guides. They need the press to tell them what’s in it, except most years the press doesn’t bother, either.

The response over the years has become a specialized cottage industry within journalism: fact checking. And it needs to be a specialty, because, well, you know, even by allegedly respectable standards, facts have nothing to do with being a reporter.α

In the 2012 cycle, reporter Matt Appuzzo deliberately tanked a fact check, an act of journalistic activism the Associated Press defended as appropriate. And in a certain sense, one can argue it really was: The fact check would have been unkind to one candidate, which is a problem for a press in which equivocation is a professional standard, so poor Matt Apuzzo had no choice but to invoke irrelevant history in order to throw Romney a bone.

All of which leads us up to a consideration of “why lawmakers should not speak without notes”:

A 'pinnocchio', as awarded by Glenn Kessler, fact-checker for The Washington Post.Sometimes a lawmaker will wander on the floor of the House or Senate and begin speaking without any notes. That’s a big mistake, especially for someone like Sessions — who is chairman of the House Rules Committee and was speaking about the federal budget.

Kessler and the WaPo team awarded “four pinnocchios”, and advised that, “Senior lawmakers should not be uttering nonsense math on the House floor”. But this analysis falsely adheres to the notion of “all things being equal”, when in fact they are not.

(more…)

The Oral Argument

Appetizer: Electric Kamon, with Haruko, just before dinner.  (Detail of frame from FLCL episode 4, 'Full Swing')

Okay, see if you can follow along, because, well, I’m writing it and it still seems a bit tough. So …

• … apparently someone named Alison Stevenson wrote an article for Vice explaining why she doesn’t perform oral sex on men―and apparently upset some people in the process, although not for detailing anything about her sex life but, rather, for not giving blowjobs―which, in turn …

• … moved Dan Savage to recall an occasion he upset some people for suggesting oral sex is a natural and seemingly inherent part of a sexual relationship, and then explains why he isn’t upset with Stevenson despite her apparent hypocrisy, and …

• … in a consideration seemingly unrelated yet also coincidentally appropriate, Christopher Frizzelle slogs philosophical about the nature of clickbait.

There was a point, I promise, sometime before I started typing, when this seemed like it made sense.

To the other, I freely admit that at no point did it actually seem important.

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Image note: Electric Kamon with Haruko, just before dinner. (Detail of frame from FLCL episode 4, “Full Swing”)

Stevenson, Alison. “Why I Don’t Give Blowjobs”. Vice. 23 March 2015.

Savage, Dan. “Alison Stevenson Won’t Suck Your Dick”. Slog. 24 March 2015.

Frizzelle, Christopher. “What Is ‘Clickbait’?” Slog. 23 March 2015.

Bloodlust, in Jesus’ Name

Detail of 'Corpus Hypercubus', by Salvador Dali, 1954.

Because cruelty and stupidity are American virtues:

It doesn’t matter that a California lawyer’s outrageous Sodomite Suppression Act ballot initiative proposes executing gays with “bullets to the head,” or that it’s unconstitutional and could never become law. California Attorney General Kamala Harris is forced to allow the measure to circulate for signatures, legal experts said.

The initiative, which mandates 10 years in prison and permanent expulsion from California for anyone who advocates gay rights to minors, stands no chance of collecting 365,000 valid signatures it needs to appear on next year’s ballot. But because its backer, Matt McLaughlin, paid the $200 filing fee by the February deadline, Harris is bound by law to prepare a title and summary of the initiative by May so that its sponsor can begin collecting signatures, legal experts told the San Francisco Chronicle.

(O’Connor)

And remember, this is all in Jesus’ name

Okay, I suppose that part isn’t surprising.

But if you want to know why so many of our neighbors are ending in self-destruction, well, I guess we can call it God’s love.

The only real question, I suppose, is what sort of person would be willing to stand with such a brutal, vicious farce.

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O’Connor, Lydia. “California Forced To Allow Signatures For Appalling ‘Shoot The Gays’ Ballot Initiative”. The Huffington Post. 23 March 2015.

Another Reason to Fight; Every Reason to Win

Transgender pioneer Blake Brockington died 23 March 2015, at age 18, by his own hand.

“Swaying hills of green, rolling sea of blue; if you say life is beautiful I guess it must be true. In a grave beneath the grass, remember how I used to be―made peace with all the things I used to hate, except for me. And so my kingdom comes, my will is done; this thing I know.”

Floater

Blake Brockington is dead. Reports from North Carolina tell us the transgender pioneer, who last year won the title of Homecoming King at East Meck High School, took his own life.

“I honestly feel like this is something I have to do,” Brockington said last year, noting few other transgender male students have had the opportunity.

Brockington said at the time that winning will mean the most for several younger transgender students he had mentored, including a nine-year-old boy.

“He really looks up to me. That’s my heart,” Brockington said of his mentee. “He has support now and he will be able to avoid just about everything I’m going through and I don’t want him to ever have to be scared. I feel like if I do this, that’s one red flag for everybody to say, ‘Nobody should be scared to be themselves and everybody should have an equal opportunity to have an enjoyable high school experience.'”

But the homecoming win came with a price, Brockington told The Charlotte Observer earlier this year.

“That was single-handedly the hardest part of my trans journey,” Brockington told the daily newspaper. “Really hateful things were said on the Internet. It was hard. I saw how narrow-minded the world really is.”

He had a strong message for the public — “we are still human.”

“I’m still a person,” Brockington said. “And trans people are still people. Our bodies just don’t match what’s up (in our heads). We need support, not people looking down at us or degrading us or overlooking us. We are still human.”

(Comer)

Good night, Brock. And thank you. I’m so sorry we couldn’t do better.

And for the living, the question looms: How is this worth it? How is the hatred and cruelty worth it, in Jesus’ name, amen? How can you do this to your neighbors? To you children?

Transgender signBecause there are those of us who know why it’s worth it; our job is to fight the hatred, stop the madness, and keep each other standing, day by day, step by step, because damn it, we’re almost there.

Stand. Speak. Love. Live. Fight. Win.

There is so much more at stake than just our own selves.

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Comer, Matt. “Young transgender activist Blake Brockington mourned”. qNotes. 24 March 2015.

What Republicans Call Personal Accountability

"US Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham speaks during a US Senate Armed Services Committee on global challenges and US national security strategy on Capitol Hill in Washington." (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty)

Why is it that in the Party of Personal Accountability, it’s always someone else’s fault? Or, in this case, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is exploring a potential presidential bid, trying to explain his take on the politics of climate change:

You know, when it comes to climate change being real, people of my party are all over the board. There was several resolutions ....

.... I did the trifecta. I said that it’s real, that man has contributed to it in a substantial way. But the problem is Al Gore’s turned this thing into religion. You know, climate change is not a religious problem for me, it’s an economic, it is an environmental problem.

So I think the Republican Party has to do some soul-searching. Before we can be bipartisan, we’ve got to figure out where we are as a party. What is the environmental platform of the Republican Party? I don’t know, either.

So I’d like to come up with one. I’d like to have a debate within the party. Can you say that climate change is a scientifically sound phenomenon? But can you reject the idea you have to destroy the economy to solve the problem, is sort of where I’ll be taking this debate.

You know how it goes. Sure, Republicans threw in with the wrong people, and determinedly promoted false assertions of fact, engaged in character assassination, and generally threw a temper tantrum. But, you know, it’s all Al Gore’s fault.

Because, you know, no Republican is ever responsible for his or her own actions; suggesting that members of the Party of Personal Accountability should, in fact, be held accountable for their words and actions is unfair and prejudiced and why do you hate America so much?

No, really, just blame Al Gore. Had he said nothing, Republicans would not have been tempted to disagree, and thus never would have made such fools of themselves. Indeed, this is the heart of Republican “personal accountability”, to blame everyone else.

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Davidson, Amy. “A Conversation with Lindsey Graham”. Council on Foreign Relations. 23 March 2015.

The Ted Cruz Show (Twitmix)

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, speaks at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013.  Cruz was scheduled to speak on the scope of treaty power in the U.S. Constitution.  Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Cruelty is an American virtue, and nowhere is it more exhaustively celebrated than in our political discourse; which, in turn, kind of makes sense and explains why we not only tolerate such vice but encourage and even demand it. Oh, hell, let’s just run with the explanation from DeadState:

Just before Ted Cruz’s announcement today that he’s running for president, he sent out a cryptic message on Twitter that seemed to forebode the event.

Almost immediately, the folks on Twitter cobbled together the hashtag #TedCruzCampaignSlogans, and it was all downhill from there. Mocking Cruz with everything from suggested campaign slogans to referencing his birthplace in Canada, the onslaught was relentless.

And, of course, the thrashing ranged from policy to stupidity and even on to aesthetics:

“The wisdom of Bush, the fearmongering of Cheney, the ideology of Rand Paul, and the face of the drama mask.”

“Like Sarah Palin’s annoying younger brother.”

“An ocean in every house and a probe in every woman.”

“Just in case Rand Paul wasn’t crazy enough for you.”

“Because Joseph McCarthy deserves a second chance.”

Right. Pick your favorites. Grimace at the tasteless ones. Let it be.

That is to say, yeah, sure, it’s kind of fun to make these jokes, but there is no alternate campaign slogan we might invent that will surpass the sublimely vicious humor inherent in the idea that Ted Cruz thinks he can be president.

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(h/t to D.P.)

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, speaks at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. Cruz was scheduled to speak on the scope of treaty power in the U.S. Constitution. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Palma, Sky. “Ted Cruz jumps in for 2016, Twitter destroys him accordingly with #TedCruzCampaignSlogans”. DeadState.org. 23 March 2015.

A Presidential Retort

Barack Obama

Last week, President Obama addressed the City Club of Cleveland; he also spoke his mind about a few things having to do with the way of things in Washington:

It’s important to note that at every step that we’ve taken over the past six years we were told our goals were misguided; they were too ambitious; that my administration’s policies would crush jobs and explode deficits, and destroy the economy forever. Remember that? Because sometimes we don’t do the instant replay, we don’t run the tape back, and then we end up having the same argument going forward.

One Republican in Congress warned our policies would diminish employment and diminish stock prices. Diminish stock prices. (Laughter.) The stock market has doubled since I came into office. Corporate profits are―corporate balance sheets are stronger than they have ever been―because of my terrible business policies. (Laughter.)

One Republican senator claimed we faced trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. Another predicted my reelection would spike gas prices to $6.60 a gallon. (Laughter.) I don’t know how he came up with that figure―$6.60. (Laughter.) My opponent in that last election pledged that he could bring down the unemployment rate to 6 percent by 2016―next year―at the end of next year. It’s 5.5 now. (Applause.)

And right here in Cleveland, the leader of the House Republicans―a good friend of mine―(laughter)―he captured his party’s economic theories by critiquing mine with a very simple question: Where are the jobs, he said. Where are the jobs? I’m sure there was a headline in The Plain Dealer or one of the papers―Where Are the Jobs?

Well, after 12 million new jobs, a stock market that has more than doubled, deficits that have been cut by two-thirds, health care inflation at the lowest rate in nearly 50 years, manufacturing coming back, auto industry coming back, clean energy doubled―I’ve come not only to answer that question, but I want to return to the debate that is central to this country, and the alternative economic theory that’s presented by the other side.

Because their theory does not change. It really doesn’t. It’s a theory that says, if we do little more than just cut taxes for those at the very top, if we strip out regulations and let special interests write their own rules, prosperity trickles down to the rest of us. And I take the opposite view. And I take it not for ideological reasons, but for historic reasons, because of the evidence.

Imagine that. Evidence.

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Obama, Barack. “Remarks by the President to the City Club of Cleveland”. The White House. 18 March 2015.