Month: February 2016

What It Comes To (Par Excrement)

Commander Amaro suffers a bout of masculine insecurity. (Detail of FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet')

So ....

If it seemed strange enough that Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump should hit Marco Rubio for sweat, and Mitt Romney for bowel control, and that Sen. Rubio should respond by mocking Donald Trump’s sweat and bladder control, then I have no idea what to tell you about what comes next.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), part of the U.S. Senate's 'Gang of Eight', speaks during a news briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., 18 April 2013. (Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed)Marco Rubio again unleashed an array of sharp attacks on Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, jabbing at his “small hands” and “spray tan.”

In response to the property mogul calling him “little Rubio,” Rubio conceded that Trump was taller than him. However, the Florida senator suggested Trump had small hands for his height.

“And you know what they say about guys with small hands,” Rubio said with a smile, prompting stunned laughter from the crowd.

The report from Alex Jaffe of NBC News is not exactly encouraging insofar as anyone might care about pretenses of dignity. This is your Republican Party.

It is one thing to wonder how low this can go. It is another to grab the popcorn and enjoy the spectacle. But while this is reality, it is not reality television proper.

Here is a question: How low do we have to search in order to find an upside? Because it only gets worse.

(more…)

A Clown Car Catastrophe

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015.

To the one, the heart of winter can be rough. To the other, as Seasonal Affective Disorder, a term I generally loathe, turns out to not be what we thought it was, anyway, that doesn’t really explain it.

Which implies it really is true: The GOP nomination contest spectacle debacle has become so depressing even I can’t cope with it.

No, really, if there is a time for whipping out posts as fast as one might, it should be now, as the Clown Car ejector seat puts on a show.

So let’s try, oh, I don’t know, let’s try Donald Trump joking about Marco Rubio’s sweat and Mitt Romney’s bowel control, and then the Florida junior’s retort about Donald Trump’s sweat and bladder control.

That was Friday. I’m pretty sure something important happened over the weekend, but … er … yeah, couldn’t tell you.

(sigh)

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Image note: Detail of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015

Benen, Steve. “Rubio follows Trump down an undignified road”. msnbce. 26 February 2016.

Garofalo, Michael. “‘He was so scared, like a little frightened puppy’: The 10 most bizarre moments from Trump’s Fort Worth rally”. Salon. 26 February 2016.

Jarrett, Christian. “Why Your Brain Actually Works Better in Winter”. Science of Us. 14 February 2016.

The Conservative Conundrum, and Other Notes

Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC, December 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Paul Krugman offers a curious observation:

As many have noted, it’s remarkable how shocked — shocked! — that establishment has been at the success of Donald Trump’s racist, xenophobic campaign. Who knew that this kind of thing would appeal to the party’s base? Isn’t the G.O.P. the party of Ronald Reagan, who sold conservatism with high-minded philosophical messages, like talking about a “strapping young buck” using food stamps to buy T-bone steaks?

Seriously, Republican political strategy has been exploiting racial antagonism, getting working-class whites to despise government because it dares to help Those People, for almost half a century. So it’s amazing to see the party’s elite utterly astonished by the success of a candidate who is just saying outright what they have consistently tried to convey with dog whistles.

We might call it curious not for being obscure, but, rather, for being obvious.

That is to say, despite the blunt force with which reality asserts itself, we are somehow expected to ignore it. The Republican Party, of course, seems very good at ignoring it. Even establishment tools like RedState managing editor Leon H. Wolf are getting in on the act:

Sadly, 35% of our party has decided to abdicate their responsibility as adults to take their civic voting duty seriously, and so the poisonous threat of Trump has completely altered my own personal voting calculus.

And we, too, might try the word, sadly.

Because, sadly, we find ourselves up against a baseline standard that can only break when conservatives need it to; blaming voters, even on those occasions when circumstance otherwise describes it as wholly appropriate, is problematic in the marketplace.

(more…)

An Obvious Question (Illinois Ignominy)

D City Rock: Detail of frame from "Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt", 'Help! We Are Angels', by TeddyLoin featuring Debra Zeer.

This is … what, traditional family values?

According to a proposed bill filed last week by two Republican Illinois state lawmakers, if a father is not listed on a newborn’s birth certificate, the birth certificate will not be issued and any future financial assistance will be denied.

The proposed bill HB6064 by Representative John Cavaletto and Representative Keith Wheeler would amend the Illinois Vital Records Act to require that unwed mothers either name a father on the birth certificate or within 30 days go to court and have another family member sign the birth certificate and agree to accept financial responsibility for the child ....

.... If a single mother fails to name the father or identify another guardian, the child will not be issued a birth certificate and the family will be permanently banned from public assistance. The bill makes no exception for rape or incest victims. Under current law, an unmarried father is not named on the birth certificate unless he signs a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.

(Tesfaye)

You know, something useful is supposed to go here, but in truth I am uncertain what that is. More specifically, I’m still stuck on the obvious question.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

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Tesfaye, Sophia. “Illinois Republicans target single mothers and their babies: GOP bill would ban birth certificates, financial aid if father is not named”. Salon. 25 February 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Denial)

Donald Trump speaks at the John Wayne Museum, in Winterset, Iowa, 19 January 2016. (Detail of undated photo by Tannen Maury/epa/Corbis.)

A note from last month:

Last week, presidential candidate Donald Trump caused a minor stir by retweeting someone with the Twitter handle @whitegenocideTM, which some saw as making explicit the connection between Trump and American white supremacists. But that’s just one data point, right? A one-off thing that could have been an intern’s mistake? Unfortunately, no: the data shows that 62 percent of the accounts Trump has retweeted recently have white-supremacist connections.

Marshall Kirkpatrick, of social-media analytics company Little Bird, took a look at the 21 people the Donald has blessed with his fantastic, luxurious retweets this week, and discovered that six of them follow major white-nationalist accounts, and 13 of them follow multiple accounts that have used the #whitegenocide hashtag.

Conclusion? “It turns out that Donald Trump mostly retweets white supremacists saying nice things about him.”

(Hathaway)

This is not surprising.

Unfortunately, that point comes with something of a sickening explanation.

(more…)

The Ben Carson Show (Still Going)

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a campaign event at the Noah's Event Venue, Saturday, 30 January 2016, in West Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

“There is something fundamentally odd about Carson’s assertion that Obama was raised white, because it contains within it the insinuation that there is only one way to be black or experience blackness. There is only one way to be raised black.”

Janell Ross

Something about themes goes here, but that has to do with something else. Meanwhile, yes, Dr. Ben Carson is still going through at least some of the motions of running for president. That is to say, he has not yet actually suspended his campaign.

Maybe something about a whine cellar goes here. Oh, come on; you know there’s a … not a pun, but, you know, one of those Wheel of Fortune puzzle solutions; three words, two compound words, that sort of thing? Anybody?

Hello?

Oh, right. Steve Benen reflects on dullness:

I can appreciate why Carson’s odd beliefs don’t warrant much scrutiny anymore. He’s technically still a candidate, but after last-place finishes in South Carolina and Nevada, there is no credible scenario in which the retired neurosurgeon wins the GOP nomination. It’s not a question of whether his campaign will end in failure, but rather, when.

That said, Carson’s “raised white” nonsense deserves a rebuke independent of the status of his candidacy ....

.... For what it’s worth, Carson appeared on CNN late in the day, saying in reference to the president, “I wasn’t criticizing him. Excuse me, but that’s you guys in the news media who are trying to make it into a fight. I’m just stating the obvious facts.”

“Obvious facts” such as the notion that Obama was “raised white”? Please.

(more…)

Another American Tragedy

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet'.

This is an American tragedy:

A 6-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his father Sunday night in Bartholomew County.

Investigators believe [James E.] Lonaker’s son picked up a 38-caliber revolver and fired a shot. Lonaker was apparently sitting on his desk and didn’t see his son pick up the gun.

And thus we reiterate the WRTV report:

Gun Safety - Indiana State Police [via WRTV]Indiana State Police have the following suggestions when it comes to gun safety:

• When not in use, firearm should be stored unloaded in a gun safe, lock box or other secure location, separate from the ammunition

• Make sure children and unauthorized users do not have access to your firearm or ammunition

• Before storing the firearm, ensure it is unloaded

• Always handle the firearm as if it were loaded

• Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot

• Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction

Our condolences and grief, of course, to the Lonaker family and Hartsville community. Be well. I mean, you know. As much as possible on days like these.

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McKinney, Matt and Katie Heinz. “6 year old accidentally shoots, kills father in Bartholomew County”. WRTV. 22 February 2016.

LePage on Obama on Scalia

Gov. Paul LePage speaks at the maine GOP convention, Sunday, 6 May 2012. (Detail of photo by Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo)

All things considered, this is actually not unexpected. Well, you know.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday added his voice to the ongoing debate regarding the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created with the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia last Saturday.

LePage sided with former governor and U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, saying President Barack Obama should nominate a replacement for Scalia.

“I’m a big constitutionalist,” LePage said. “If it’s in the Constitution, I think it means something.”

(Thistle)

That is to say, Governor LePage managed to get one rightα. Then again, this one is pretty easy.

(more…)

Buglife

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 22 February 2016.To the one, jokes about the ravages of age, generally speaking, and the horror of middle age more particularly, are proverbial low-hanging fruit, and, sure you’re welcome to do a testicle joke, here.

Oh, right. Low-hanging fruit. Adam Huber. But, you know, no testicle joke.

Just, you know, a bug swallowing an ice tray.

Oh, wait. That’s not right. Besides, does anybody under forty know what an ice tray is?

Never mind. Something about a bag of party ice would be pushing it. But, yeah, there is this weird time in memory, between ice trays and ice makers, when everyone seemed to have a bag of ice in their freezer. Oh, right. And sixteen random cooler packs, none of which matched the cooler they actually hauled out when occasion demanded.

Because the one reliable thing about middle age is that it leaves you feeling like a ranting old fart.

Goddamn cooler pack landfill nightmares.

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Image note: Lordy, Lordy ― Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 22 February 2016.

Accommodation

Detail of 'Lucifer', by Franz von Stuck, 1890.

There is some murmur and buzz going ’round this week because a professional boxer said something mean about homosexuals:

Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao is backtracking after claiming that “it’s just common sense” that homosexuality is a sin against nature, after having earlier asked whether anyone has ever “seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations?”

He initially claimed that animals were superior to people — or members of the LGBTQ community, at least — because “if you have male-to-male or female-to-female [relations] then [you] are worse than animals.”

(Kaufman)

To the one, it is, indeed, discouraging to find ourselves this far into the Gay Fray only to be reminded just how badly we’ve retarded the societal discourse in order to accommodate conservatives who really, really need some kind of warm fuzzy by feeling smarter than they are.

To the other, Manny Pacquiao gets punched in the head for a living.

Thus, we would beg mercy for the professional brute as a disability accommodation; it is unfair to expect Manny Pacquiao to be intelligent.

On the upside, it does set a standard. The professional fighter might be thrashed to stupidity, but that speaks nothing of other bigots. So, yeah, you know, when you hear someone talking like this, feel free to ask them about their disability, that you might, in the American spirit, seek to provide some reasonable accommodation.

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Kaufman, Scott Eric. “Manny Pacquiao, boxing legend and Phillipine Senate candidate, denounces gay people for being ‘worse than animals'”. Salon. 16 February 2016.