Month: June 2015

A Note to the GdC

Detail of cover art for 'Introducing Happiness' by Rheostatics (Sire Records, 1994).

It is my deepest honor, my lady. My greatest privilege. My ineffable pleasure. Thank you.

You are a treasure, you’ll never be found; gathering coral in a galleon. Seeding anemones, feeding the reef in some lagoon in Barbados. And I must retrieve you, for I will get paid and build a big house in Vancouver town. Living in castles a bit at a time. Walking the borders of countries. You be in these shoes, and I’ll be in those―do you see dots when I’m talking to you? One lemon, two lemons, one rosy peach; six lonely souls and a moron. My mind is a porpoise alone on a beach, counting the waves as he’s dying.

Rheostatics, “You Are a Treasure” (1994)

The Rick Perry Show (Bedknobs and Bailouts)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)

So here’s a conundrum; Mark Hensch is a talented enough writer to land a job at The Hill, yet his article this morning, under the headline, “Perry: Americans want ‘fairness’ for Wall Street”, makes exactly no sense. Perhaps Mr. Hensch … er … um … right. You know―

Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) said on Sunday that Americans are hungry for a government that treats them the same as big Wall Street firms.

“Americans want to see fairness in that,” Perry told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”

“What is wrong is Washington bailing out companies that make bad decisions,” he added, citing the federal bailout of firms during the 2008 financial crisis.

“In today’s world, a lot of Americans are out there saying, ‘What are these people on Wall Street getting rich for?’” Perry, a GOP presidential candidate, asked.

Perry cited his rural upbringing and humble background as proof he is relatable to the citizens he meets on the campaign trail.

“Americans are ready for a great success story,” he said. “We have a social compact with one generation to the next.”

―this is Rick Perry, after all.

To wit, is the Republican presidential candidate actually suggesting a (cough!) “government takeover” of personal debt?

Sure, we can go with, “Probably not”, but still, just what in the world is going on? And, you know, we can always blame Mr. Hensch, because in reviewing headline and content we find that cuffs and collar don’t match. But still, I’m not certain that’s the problem.

Because, in the end, this is still Rick Perry we’re talking about.

____________________

Hensch, Mark. “Perry: Americans want ‘fairness’ for Wall Street”. The Hill. 21 June 2015.

Awesome Reading (Master Mudede’s Ruby Rhod Remix)

Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod in 'The Fifth Element', directed by Luc Besson (1997).

Charles Mudede begins―

We must begin this brief line of thought on Chris Tucker’s electric performance in Luc Besson’s 1997 The Fifth Element with a little background on what I call the black elegance movement in black popular music.

―and only gets more awesome from there.

____________________

Mudede, Charles. “Prince in Space”. The Stranger. 17 June 2015.

Required Reading: Equal Protection Edition

Contemplation of Justice

This is pretty much required reading. William N. Eskridge Jr., of Yale Law School, offers an opinion in favor of Amendment XIV recognition of same-sex marriage in Ohio. The middle of the article stands out:

Justice Anthony Kennedy said: “This definition has been with us for millennia. It’s very difficult for the court to say, oh well, we know better.” Justice Samuel Alito asked: “How do you account for the fact that, as far as I’m aware, until the end of the 20th century, there never was a nation or a culture that recognized marriage between two people of the same sex?”

All of the justices and counsel addressing this point accepted the premise that no culture had ever recognized same-sex marriage. That premise is incorrect.

First- and second-century historians Suetonius and Tacitus (disapprovingly) documented official same-sex marriages in imperial Rome. Some modern historians have found plausible evidence of such marriages among Egyptians, Canaanites and Hittites and on islands in ancient Greece. So it is not right to say that the Western tradition had never entertained marriages between people of the same sex until the 20th century.

The evidence is overwhelming for non-Western cultures. In their 1951 book “Patterns of Sexual Behavior,” anthropologists Clellan Ford and Frank Beach surveyed 191 world cultures and found many examples of same-sex intimacy occurring “within the framework of courtship and marriage.” They were mainly referring to “berdache” marriages, in which a man would marry another man who performed domestic duties or a woman would marry a woman who worked outside the home. Researchers have demonstrated that a majority of Native American tribes (as well as many tribal people elsewhere in the world) have recognized such marriages at points in their histories.

Anthropologists have also documented the phenomena of “woman marriage” in African societies, in which a wealthy woman marries another woman and then secures her impregnation, thereby generating heirs. Anthropologist Denise O’Brien reports that such marriages have been recognized in more than 30 African cultures.

There are other examples (some more equivocal), but these show that there has been no universal definition of marriage that excludes same-sex couples.

To the one, it should be noted that Prof. Eskridge also authored an amicus brief in support of the Obergefell petitioners on the question of the Fourteenth. And while the interest of amici might be a bit thin, the brief still makes for excellent reading.

To the other, we should remember what is at stake: Ohio is trying to unmarry a dead man.

____________________

Eskridge Jr., William N. “The 14th Amendment should cover same-sex marriage in Ohio”. The Washington Post. 19 June 2015.

Eskridge Jr., William N. and Ilya Shapiro. “Brief of Amici Curiae CATO Institute, William N. Eskridge Jr., and Steven Calabresi in Support of Petitioners”. Supreme Court of the United States. 6 March 2015.

Almost Funny

Round Two: Detail from FLCL episode 1, 'Fooly Cooly'.

No, really, this is very nearly funny:

Last month, Nick Jensen wrote an op-ed for the Canberra CityNews in which he claimed that he and his wife Sarah would “as a matter of conscience, refuse to recognize the government’s regulation of marriage if its definition includes the solemnization of same-sex couples.” Jensen went on to attribute his beliefs to the definition of marriage as a “union of a man and a woman before a community in the sight of God.”

In response to these claims, Jesse Mount, also an Australian citizen, created a Facebook group for people who will celebrate the Jensen’s divorce by having a massive party once marriage equality comes to the country as a whole. The group currently has over 175,000 members who have RSVP-ed for the party.

(Nichols)

In the end, though, it’s just sad. You know, though, that couple probably shouldn’t be married, anyway. If the fact of gay people having human rights is enough to compel them to get divorced, it occurs to wonder why the hell they ever got hitched in the first place. Seriously, this is enough to wreck the marriage? What the hell kind of marriage is that?

Very nearly funny. In the end, though, this is just sad.

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Nichols, JamesMichael. “175,000 Pledge To Party If Anti-Gay Australia Couple Divorces Over Same-Sex Marriage”. The Huffington Post. 19 June 2015.

Spiritual Warfare, Among Other Things

Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd speaks to the faithful in Columbus, Ohio, June 16, 2015. Floyd exhorted members to stand united against same-sex marriage and vows that he will never officiate a same-sex union. (Eric Albrecht/Columbus Dispatch via AP)

We may or may not have mentioned before something about bigots, victimhood, and insurrection.α

If I told you we could add the Southern Baptist Convention to the list, would you really be surprised?

Or, as Craig Schneider of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains:

Declaring “spiritual warfare” on gay marriage, thousands gathered here Tuesday for the annual Southern Baptist Convention and vowed that, no matter what the Supreme Court rules this month, they will never yield on the issue.

The Baptists acknowledged that the court seems likely to legalize same-sex marriage when it rules in the next two weeks, but leaders urged the faithful to stand fast and, indeed, lead the nation in opposition.

“We are in spiritual warfare,” said convention president Rev. Ronnie Floyd. “This is not a time for Southern Baptists to stand back.”

Floyd echoed a generally defiant tone among attendees, many of them pastors, who have faced increasing criticism for their belief that the Bible declares homosexuality a sin and limits marriage to a man and a woman. At a time when society is increasingly tolerant of same-sex unions, he said, Southern Baptists must stand by their views.

“This is not the time to retreat,” said Floyd, who leads Cross Church in Arkansas. “The alarm clock is going off around the world. Now is not the time to hit the snooze button.”

And it goes on. Fuel to the “wildfire of sexual revolution” that would “move it beyond all control”. At least Dr. Floyd is honest about the connection between sexuality and control. But this is also an attempt by Southern Baptists to paint themselves as victims of gross injustice:

Many of their congregants, sensing the shifting cultural climate on gay marriage, feel defensive and afraid to publicly state their views, wary of being cast as bigots or hate-mongers.

“We understand how fully unpopular our view is, and where the culture is on this issue,” said the Rev. Bryant Wright of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in East Cobb and a former convention president. “But we must stay true to God’s word.”

Wright acknowledged the difficulty of communicating that church members are not hateful or discriminatory against gays and lesbians, though Baptists do believe they are sinners. He noted that he preaches to teens who have sex outside of marriage, people who divorce, and those who commit adultery. He loves them and hopes they find their way, he said.

Let us be clear: When you are calling for warfare of any kind, spiritual or otherwise, in response to the fact that other people have human rights, there is not really any useful way to slip the question of bigotry; nor do people believe the claim that you are not hateful or discriminatory.

Really, that part seems pretty self-evident.

(more…)

The Messenger

Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall, in undated photo from Bloomberg News.

This is not surprising:

The economist that Republicans handpicked to run the Congressional Budget Office just told Republicans that one of their favorite arguments about Obamacare is wrong.

According to a report the CBO released Friday, repealing the Affordable Care Act wouldn’t reduce the deficit, as Republicans have long claimed. It would increase the deficit, by at least $137 billion over 10 years and maybe a lot more than that — with the effects getting bigger over time.

Of course, that’s in addition to the effect repeal would have on the number of Americans without health insurance. The CBO says the ranks of the uninsured would increase by 19 million people next year.

(Cohn)

While it doesn’t necessarily count as a surprise, there is still one mystery here: How does this keep happening?

After all, conservatives have a rough tradition of aiming to subordinate reality to politics in public service, with inconsistent results because enough of these appointed servants still remember what they’re on about. And once again, there is simply no way to twist reality to suit Republican fancy; after all their effort to find a CBO director who would say all the things they want, Keith Hall just couldn’t do it.

We might, then, wonder why they bother trying this sleight in the first place.

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Image note: Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall, in undated photo from Bloomberg News.

Cohn, Jonathan. “Obamacare Repeal Would Swell The Deficit Even Using GOP’s New Math, Budget Office Says”. The Huffington Post. 19 June 2015.

The Jeb Bush Show (Fancy & Shame)

Republican U.S. presidential hopeful and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush waves after he spoke during the 'Road to Majority' conference June 19, 2015, in Washington, DC. Conservatives gathered at the annual event held by the Faith & Freedom Coalition and Concerned Women for America. (Detail of photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It would seem we were not the only ones who noticed.

Matthew Yglesias looked into the Jeb Bush’s suggestion of four percent GDP growth:

But 4 percent is not really a round number. The US economy grew faster than 2 percent in 2014, 2013, and 2012 and is projected by most economists to grow faster than 2 percent in 2015. Economists surveyed by the Associated Press, Politico, and the New York Times all doubted that 4 percent growth was achievable.

Wednesday, speaking in Iowa, Jeb defended the 4 percent target on the grounds that “aspirational goals” are important in politics.

According to James Glassman, Bush originally selected this goal at random, backed by zero substantive analysis of any kind:

That ambitious goal was first raised as Bush and other advisers to the George W. Bush Institute discussed a distinctive economic program the organization could promote, recalled James Glassman, then the institute’s executive director.

“Even if we don’t make 4 percent it would be nice to grow at 3 or 3.5,” said Glassman, now a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In that conference call, “we were looking for a niche and Jeb in that very laconic way said, ‘four percent growth.’ It was obvious to everybody that this was a very good idea.”

No, really, is there any telling that doesn’t make the story sound incredibly stupid? As Howard Schneider and Steve Holland explained for Reuters, “Asked by Reuters during a campaign-style stop in New Hampshire on Thursday how he had arrived at the figure, Bush said: ‘It’s a nice round number. It’s double the growth that we are growing at. It’s not just an aspiration. It’s doable.'”

(more…)

The Rick Perry Show (Useless Coward)

'This is the M.O. of this administration, any time there is an accident like this―the president is clear, he doesn't like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every oportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message.' (Rick Perry, on mass murder at Mother Emanuel)

To: Rick Perry

re: Mother Emanuel

Mass murder is not an “accident”, sir.

“This is the MO of this administration, any time there is an accident like this―the president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message.”

(qtd. in Tashman)

Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

Tywanza Sanders.

Cynthia Hurd.

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton.

Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor.

Ethel Lance.

Susie Jackson.

Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr.

Myra Thompson.

They have names, Mr. Perry.

This was not an accident.

____________________

Tashman, Brian. “Rick Perry: Charleston Shooting An ‘Accident’ Due To Drug Use, Manipulated By Obama To Ban Guns”. Right Wing Watch. 19 June 2015.

Saliba, Emmanuelle, Erik Ortiz, and M. Alex Johnson. “Charleston Church Shooting: Tributes Paid to ‘Kind-Hearted’ Victims”. NBC News. 19 June 2015.

The Bobby Jindal Show (Fake Super Funtime Sneak Pak Preview Peek Pass)

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) speaks at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, 6 October 2014. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

This takes a bit of work. Just a little, but, you know, still. Sorry. The hard part is trying to wrap your head around the idea that this is somehow real. Let us then start earlier this week. Jordan Weissmann of Slate picks up the tale:

While Kansas has become a strictly tragic cautionary tale about what happens when a politician actually tries to govern in line with radical conservative tax dogma, Louisiana is turning into more of a dark comedy. Coming into this year, the state was facing a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. Unfortunately, Gov. Bobby Jindal—America’s spirit of hopeless presidential ambition incarnate—had signed Grover Norquist’s pledge not to raise any taxes. This left lawmakers in a bit of a bind, since cutting their way to fiscal health would have meant decimating public health or higher education funding.

Last week, however, legislators ultimately passed a budget that raised hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue, sparing hospitals and colleges. Better yet, Jindal says he’ll sign it. So, how’d they square this circle?

With a mind-numbing budget gimmick, of course ....

.... Jindal created a fake fee for students, and a fake tax credit to balance it out, which ultimately leads to no money changing hands, but apparently satisfies whatever agreement Jindal struck with Norquist to preserve the illusion that he didn’t raise taxes. “It’s an embarrassing bill to vote for,” one Republican state representative told the New York Times, demonstrating the sort of candor that only becomes possible once your own party’s governor has alienated the vast majority of his state and abandoned all pretense of rational policymaking in pursuit of an inevitable also-ran performance in the GOP primary.

It really is futility. The Hopeless Clown has yet to officially jump into the race, but it has been clear to many that his mind isn’t on his work as Pelican State executive. When last we checked behind the scenes of the Bobby Jindal Show, the governor was posing for the national stage, hoping to enact a high profile bill by executive order after the legislature said no.

But wait … there’s more!

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