Libertarian

One of Those Questions That Might Be Worth Asking

'Why are you unvaccinated?' (Matt Bors, 11 February 2015, via Daily Kos Comics)

Matt Bors asks the Obvious Question.

Or, you know, never mind. With rumors of measles parties not yet fulfilled, there’s still time to pretend there’s nothing going on, here.

More on King v. Burwell

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

A thematic question: At this point, how is it still a question?

There is a bit somewhere in a book about the Universe asserting what seems nearly circular, that we know what we know is right because it is what we know. That is, of course, an insufficient paraphrase, a memory of how the point felt, but it is also true that if what we think we know is that wrong, there would be no satellite communications. Try a simpler version. If you know a football coach, test a proposition; there is only so long one can hear people say a professional athlete “sucks”. Not a good day, maybe in a larger slump, but you don’t distill in the process and elevate to that valence if you suck. One might think similar things of, say top-tier electoral politics, but no, it doesn’t work that way. It is supposed to, or so we might imagine, except Sarah Palin was nominated to run for vice-president once upon a time, and we all watched Mitt Romney’s disastrously ill-executed campaign for the presidency in two years ago.α

Certes, such comparisons are notoriously vague, but here is the theme: At some point, we cannot maintain confidence if certain properties remain variable and unresolved; if questions of a particular nature and context remain in effect, how is the larger paradigm expected to function at a given valence?

Or perhaps we should simply start with standing. A juristic context. We considered the issue briefly, yesterday, but something about awestruck disbelief seems to have gotten the better of us.

Point being that one might wonder how standing could remain a potentially affecting question when a case reaches the Supreme Court.

Just sayin’.

However, Louise Radnofsky and Brent Kendall bring the question back to focus for The Wall Street Journal:

One of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case against the Affordable Care Act listed a short-term-stay motel as her address when she joined the lawsuit, potentially calling into question her basis for suing.

Rose Luck is among four plaintiffs suing the Obama administration to eliminate tax credits under the law that make health insurance cheaper for millions of Americans. They say the wording of the 2010 law allows consumers to tap the credits only in states that run their own insurance exchanges, and not their home state of Virginia, which is one of as many as 37 states that use the federal enrollment system.

And at this point it’s easy enough to make a point about how this sort of technicality shouldn’t matter; after all, the case has survived, anyway, and has achieved SCOTUS valence.

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Not Exactly the Moral of the Story

"U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks in Washington on Dec. 2, 2014." (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Compartmentalization. Equivocation. Misdirection.

Watch the birdie.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has once again dug himself a hole, and yes, he’s annoyed that anyone noticed:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday continued to walk back his comments that parents should be allowed to choose whether to vaccinate their children, saying he holds the same position as President Barack Obama on the matter.

“I got annoyed that people were trying to depict me as someone who doesn’t think vaccines were a good idea,” Paul told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday, noting that he had been vaccinated before a recent trip to Guatemala and had vaccinated his children.

“I’m not sure I’m different from the president or anyone else on the position,” Paul said. “We have rules to encourage people to have vaccines in the country, but I don’t think anybody’s recommending that we hold them down.”

(Levine)

Did you catch that?

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Not A Joke: So the Devil and a Republican Walk Into a Bar ….

Tinfoil

A basic historical pattern, overlain with a veneer of myth: The Devil is found first in what oppresses, then what competes, then what shares.

An example of how this works in history: Once upon a time, a new sect emerged within a religious and cultural archetype; they found the Devil in the Roman government that oppressed them and their Jewish brethren who collaborated with the authorities. Over time, the new group developed its own distinct identity and began competing for new converts, investing the Devil in the pagan gods and goddesses; once this sect had its own power, though, the Christians they became turned on one another, finding the Devil within its own ranks and struggling internally for political power.

It is not just Jews and Christians; the process holds generally.

Which suggests one might wonder how that applies to other movements. The Tea Party arose, finding its Devil in liberalism; they competed against a form of authoritarianism, appealing to libertarians left and right with issues like drug reform—because you wanna get high, right?—and other such superficial appeals to freedom. But they also chose to compete within Republican ranks, which means much of that second stage involves peeling off votes from partisan allies. As a result, it might seem hard to distinguish at what point the Tea Party movement considers itself in charge and rolls against its own ranks.

Steve Benen’s blog post headline pretty much makes the point: “Republicans turn on each other over Benghazi conspiracy theories”. The punch line is nearly predictable:

That’s right, it’s come to this: Republicans have uncovered a conspiracy so vast, it involves Republicans who went looking for evidence of a conspiracy.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Republican Party, 2014 Midterm Edition.

The problem with humor is that it makes no difference if it does not relate to any identifiable stake; that is, in and of its own, this conduct would be kind of funny the way we all have to deal with the question about when it is appropriate to laugh at people who cannot help themselves. But the question of the stakes really sucks even the cruelest, pettiest humor away.

When I was a kid, we would say this sort of thing is “retarded”. And the word works well enough; much like flame-retardant pajamas, Republicans are truth-retardant politicians. Logic itself is retarded, distorted to the point of inhibition, by this tragic conservative perspective. But, you know, it’s a two-party system, so that means sometimes we have to throw them some bones. You know, wreck the hell out of some other people’s quality of life so that we don’t accidentally oppress Republicans by demanding they start dealing with reality.

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Benen, Steve. “Republicans turn on each other over Benghazi conspiracy theories”. msnbc. 5 December 2014.

Dangerous Cartooning

Detail of 'xkcd' (#1449) by Randall Munroe, 18 November 2014.

Jokes can be dangerous.

No, really, think of it this way: Sure, you just started with a harmless joke about the Slide Mountain Ocean, and a fine joke it is. But how long before they work intercontinental Red Rover into the Kansas high school science curriculum?

What? Six thousand years is a helluvalot less than four and a half billion.

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Detail of xkcd #1449, by Randall Monroe, 18 November 2014.

A Shot in the Somethin’

Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, 12 May 2014.

“I think it’s partly [suspicion of authority], but I also think it exposes something about liberal politics. It exposes the libertarian vein that can run through liberal politics. This is an issue where you see people who call themselves liberal and say that they’re concerned with social justice joining the same movement as people who are actually libertarians and more on the far right side of things or part of the Christian right.

“I think it has less to do with the suspicion of experts than it has to do with this thing that we treasure and nurture in America, individualism, which can actually be quite damaging if it’s taken to political extremes. And we can see it both on the right and the left.”

Eula Bliss

Here is a hint to any parent who might well be caught up in the process of trying to convince a coparent that skipping vaccinations is a bad idea: If you’re the parent who takes the kids to the doctor, just get them the freakin’ vaccinations.

The RumpusThat’s what we did. And, sure, there was some back and forth in there about who ever objected—as if I, for some reason, would—but surely enough it came up again from familiar quarters, this time repeating the vapid Michele Bachmann line—you know, the one about cognitive disabilities so ridiculous that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement to make the point?

Right. So, yeah. If the coparent wants to show up and pitch a fit in front of the doctor, she is welcome to do so. Other than that, it’s pretty straightforward. To the other, I doubt she would actually go so far as to show up at the doctor’s office and pitch a fit. After all, nobody likes being laughed out of the room. And, besides, it would require actually showing up at the doctor’s office.

Not everyone is gifted with such disposable tinfoil, but there are likely more than we might otherwise guess.

And for those, yes, subterfuge by omission is completely acceptable, because when it comes to harming your children, the fact that the other parent is a parent only matters so much.

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Koven, Suzanne. “The Big Idea #10: Eula Bliss”. The Rumpus. 17 November 2014.

Drobnic Holan, Angie and Louis Jacobson. “Michele Bachmann says HPV vaccine can cause mental retardation”. PolitiFact. 16 September 2011.

Burton, O. Marion. “American Academy of Pediatrics Statement on HPV Vaccine”. American Academy of Pediatrics. 13 September 2014.

Sisyphus Weiner Galt

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal', by Zach Weiner, 18 November 2014.

Dystopia is burning, which ought to be a good thing except it is burning with the passions of the stage and just wants to dance! Which, of course, ought to be about as inspiring as Rush Limbaugh in a thong leotard.

Then again, one would think that at some point, prostitution would be the sort of thing only humans could do for each other, but I think society has yet to get through polygamy, incest, and bestiality before moving onto giant robot anime porn. Oh, wait. Rule Thirty-Four. Serves me right for trying to steal a line.

I don’t know, something about mechaphilia or mechasexual goes here. Still, in the Weiner dystopia at least the labor conditions for human prostitutes has improved. To the other, though, it would seem there is not so much difference between the Luddite punch line and a PG-rated future, which on this occasion means post-Galtian.

In the end, perhaps that is the point; people are what the really pointless labor exists for. Maybe that is why we must presume Sisyphus happy. Fruitless labor? Hey, it’s job security.

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Weiner, Zach. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 18 November 2014.

A String of Obvious Questions

Detail of framegrab from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

File under Stupid:

Green River Community College went into lockdown Monday morning after a threat was made against the school, Auburn police said.

Cmdr. Steve Stocker of the Auburn police said an unknown person made the threat to a faculty member at about 10:15 a.m., saying something to the effect that there was going to be a shooting.

(KOMO News)

Perhaps a number of factors are coincidental. We do, in our society, have a problem with misogyny that reached a dramatic height at GeekGirlCon earlier this month, when someone issued a bomb threat against the convention; apparently the mixing of females and technology is a mortal offense? And the deadly violence at Marysville-Pilchuck High School seems, ostensibly, to have been about a girl.

But we don’t really know what pushed the GRCC terror threat, and that is important to note.

Yes, we need to address misogyny, but there are also a number of other factors to consider.

The thing is that each part of the issue has a way of spilling over its banks and soaking the others. This sort of overlap causes confusion for many people; indeed, we at This Is have a good friend who is bright and rational and all of those nice things we appreciate about people, but he is by nature incapable of comprehending what guns have to do with anything.

Not that we need to campaign against guns, specifically, but it does make some sort of point to acknowledge that there are people in this world who wonder what guns have to do with mass murder by firearm. It happens. To wit, he says, “Don’t make new laws, enforce the ones we have!” But there are some laws he believes exist everywhere despite observable reality.

And, you know, it might be kind of a low blow, but he also wonders why anyone would ever prosecute someone who negligently shot his own son to death with a handgun he was prohibited by law from carrying. And while that tragedy out of Pennsylvania has seemingly little to do with what has been going on around the Seattle area of late, there is also more there than it seems.

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How It Goes: Recognition Edition

Last month, Emma Margolin undertook an effort to list the reasons why the Supreme Court was expected to take up marriage equality in the new term that began today. And, of course, something about today, because the msnbc reporter brings the news that we should add five states to the officially official marriage equality roster:

Marriage equality is coming to five more states – with six more on the way.

Practically, today SCOTUS recognized a right to SSM. Implausible that later it will undo marriages, absent a big change in Ct’s membership. (SCOTUSblog via Twitter)The Supreme Court on Monday rejected appeals to hear same-sex marriage cases out of Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin – all of which saw their bans fall in both federal district and appeals courts. The move immediately legalizes marriage equality in those five states, and will soon topple bans in six other states that make up the 4th, 7th, and 10th circuits. Those states include Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming, bringing the total number of states where gay and lesbian couples can wed from 19 plus the District of Columbia to 30 – more than half the nation.

With a ruling expected sometime this fall, all eyes turn to the Sixth Circuit, where it is hard to imagine the court rejecting Full Faith and Credit.

SCOTUSblog checked in with the summary reflecting the sentiments coloring the headlines:

Practically, today SCOTUS recognized a right to SSM. Implausible that later it will undo marriages, absent a big change in Ct’s membership.

And so it goes. For now.

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Margolin, Emma. “Five signs the Supreme Court will take up gay marriage”. msnbc. 29 September 2014.

—————. “Marriage equality comes to five more states”. msnbc. 6 October 2014.

SCOTUSblog. “Practically, today SCOTUS recognized a right to SSM”. Twitter. 6 October 2014.

Stupid: The Kentucky Come-Hither

Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell, left, and Rand Paul address the media during a press conference following McConnell's victory in the republican primary Friday, May 23, 2014, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

As photographs go, this otherwise unremarkable example from Timothy D. Easley offers two brief amusements. To the first—

Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell, left, and Rand Paul address the media during a press conference, May 23, 2014, in Louisville, Ky. (Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo)

—someone botched the caption; that is, of course, Sen. McConnell on the right, although one might understand how, compared to his junior colleague from Kentucky, the Senate Minority Leader might be seen as being to the left.

To the second, though, is a simple evaluation of the aesthetics. Sens. Paul and McConnell are wearing those weird matching expressions, like a May-September couple that simultaneously spied a dashing young potential third for the evening’s enjoyment.

Seriously: Kentucky come-hither.

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