North Carolina

The Child Marriage Update (New York Edition)

Mao (left), and Suou react to July (not pictured) in Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 9, 'They Met One Day Unexpectedly ...'.

This is a real lede from Associated Press:

The New York Legislature has overturned a state law that allows 14-year-olds to legally wed.

The headline kind of makes the point: “New York child marriage ban heads to Cuomo’s desk”. The rarity of such progress is a reasonable point for reflection; to the one, there is not much left on this particular count, while, to the other, there are still Alaska and North Carolina to account for. Governor Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law as soon as reasonably possible.

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Associated Press. “New York child marriage ban heads to Cuomo’s desk”. 8 June 2017.

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#DimensionSteve (Just Another Day)

#wellduh | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 1, 'FLCL'.

From the mixed up files of Steve Benen:

#somethingterrific: “They’re ready, and arguably eager, to break their commitments, but they’re reluctant to talk about it.”

#artofthedeal: “It’s apparently Team Trump’s way of effectively saying, ‘Remember, we can re-take this hostage again at some point.'”

#ruleoflaw: “When a president with autocratic tendencies goes after courts for upholding the law, repeatedly questioning the legitimacy of decisions that go against him, it should make Americans a little nervous.”

#wellduh: “Never mind the incompetent failures, marvel at the ‘robust agenda of activity.'”

#wellduh: “Apparently, however, some took Team Trump’s rhetoric quite literally and reportedly started calling the hotline to report crimes committed by aliens—as in, extra-terrestrials.”

#wellduh: “What he refuses to appreciate is the fact that an American president says something, the world notices.”

#wellduh: “A woman in North Carolina illegally voted for Trump last year, casting a ballot in her dead mother’s name. A local Republican prosecutor has decided not to bring charges.”

#compromise: “But what’s striking to me is how much the larger conversation has changed since Obama left office.”

#wellduh: “We’re occasionally reminded that Sean Spicer isn’t great at his job”.

(more…)

Glenn Beck on Fatherhood

Glenn Beck, circa 2016, via Twitter.

And then there is this:

… a teary-eyed Glenn Beck and his studio audience engaged in something of a therapy session as they struggled to come to grips with the fact that God’s chosen candidate, Ted Cruz, has withdrawn from the Republican presidential race.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)The rejection of Cruz by Republican voters was “the last reckoning for us,” Beck declared, warning that God will now allow this nation to suffer the consequences of our decisions. America, Beck said, has become “a petulant child” that God has warned and scolded and disciplined over and over again “but the behavior is getting worse” and so punishment must follow.

God cannot allow this nation to escape the punishment that is due, he said, because “that would be a bad dad. That would be a very bad dad and the one thing I know about God, He ain’t a bad dad.”

(Mantyla)

Three brief notes:

(1) Remember, the difference between the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and other religious condemnations of America is that he sounded like he was suggesting God should damn America, while Sarah Palin’s preacher, or Pastor John Hagee, or … I don’t know, how many along the way? At any rate, they simply said God would. And Glenn Beck? He just says God cannot not. You know. Because something about a “petulant child” and how God “ain’t a bad dad”. Because, you know, it’s not the bad dads that nail Florida and Louisiana with hurricanes. And what the hell did Canada do to deserve all that? I mean, come on, sure, we know the whole tar sands thing is a bad idea, but really?

(2) Preachers and media celebrities can say what they want about God’s will, but if California needs to answer the Lord for something, so do New Jersey, Florida, and North Carolina. Donald Trump, Chris Christie, Rick Scott, and, well, Pat McCrory. Alabama must be terrified.

(3) Or perhaps we ought to try something a bit more rational? Because, you know, it would be best to pay no mind to raving, bigoted stupidity, but when it’s actually functionally dangerous, we would be remiss to ignore it.

So, Glenn: What are you going to say when you wake up in Hell? Are you going to say, “Thanks, Dad, I know I deserved that!”

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Image note: Top ― Glenn Beck, circa 2016, via Twitter. Right Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). (Photo by Daniel Sangjib Min/Times-Dispatch.)

Mantyla, Kyle. “Glenn Beck Says God Must Punish America For Rejecting Ted Cruz Because ‘He Ain’t A Bad Dad'”. Right Wing Watch. 6 May 2016.

The Pervert from Ward Four

City Council member John La Tour, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, in detail undated, uncredited image via Planet Transgender.

At some point the question arises why it is that the outburst of perversity we’ve seen in recent years, resulting as such from the advancement of gay rights, actually comes in the form of the conservative, family-values crowd (ahem!) letting it all hang out?

Fayetteville Councilman John La Tour, a tea party member and recipient of Josh Duggars campaign funding, is being accused of threatening to expose himself to a female employee of a city restaurant. People who witnessed the incident say he approached the woman assuming she was transgender and told her that he was man and that could prove it by dropping his pants

(Busey)

Naturally, it’s everyone else’s fault; the Planet Transgender report notes he was in a restaurant where, “The music was overly loud despite his request to lower the volume, so he responded by dancing along with it, he said”. And why does it always start with some version of, “There I was, minding my own business, being oppressed for no reason, so I decided to just go along with it, and hey …”?

No, really.

La Tour said the incident began during his regular Friday morning stop at Arsaga’s to meet a group of acquaintances. The music was overly loud despite his request to lower the volume, so he responded by dancing along with it, he said. He intended to ask the employee to dance with him but wanted to confirm she was a woman first, La Tour said, citing the ordinance.

“You can declare you’re a man or you’re a woman, whatever you want to,” La Tour said. “I’m not going to ask a man to dance with me.”

(more…)

The Subcommittee (Lipstick and Laughs)

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Something about famous last words might go here, but that still doesn’t sound right. Infamous openings? Let us check in with Emma Dumain of Roll Call:

House Republicans insist their new committee to investigate Planned Parenthood won’t be political.

And if it sounds like a setup, well―

But lawmakers and aides on both sides of the aisle are raising eyebrows at the optics of GOP leaders soliciting buy-in from outside groups as they make decisions about which members will sit on the special committee.

The original plan was to convene a subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee to investigate the women’s health organization and abortion provider, which is under fire after secret film footage seemed to implicate Planned Parenthood officials with illegally selling fetal tissues, a charge the group denied.

Under that initial framework, the select committee would have drawn from in-house resources, including mostly staff. And while membership on both sides of the aisle would still be subject to appointment by their respective party leaders, the pool would be restricted to those members already sitting on Energy and Commerce.

Outside advocates and leaders in the anti-abortion community urged Republican leaders to expand the committee to lawmakers outside Energy and Commerce to include more stalwarts of their movement. GOP leadership agreed and has also listened to outside advice on exactly whom to appoint.

―yeah, this is the House of Representatives, and, yes, Speaker Boehner is, technically, still as in charge as he ever was.

(more…)

Overdue

Detail of frame from Serial Experiments Lain, Layer 02, 'Girls'.

One note about the passing of time is that the ravages of age compel me to recall―

It’s one thing to have swallowed “the red pill” in a small town in which your pick-up artist (PUA) exploits are likely to become general knowledge, but it’s another thing entirely to be an “alpha” on the prowl who also writes a blog and does a podcast about his conquests — especially after they become general knowledge.

Protesters gather outside Waking Life Espresso in Asheville, North Carolina, in September 2015, denouncing misogyny and the sexually harassing, predatory assertion of the pickup artist after the coffee shop's owners, Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, were revealed by a local blogger as PUAs who advocate and blog their ideas and behavior.  (Uncredited photo via Salon.com)That is precisely the situation that two PUAs — Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens — find themselves in after Ashevilleblog published an article (based on information gleaned from an anonymous blog) about the owners of Waking Life Espresso and the online accounts of their exploits at Holistic Game and a Twitter account by the same name.

It’s not surprising that the West Asheville community is protesting and boycotting the coffee shop — especially the female members of it, who learned on Twitter that they’re not human beings so much as “an endless supply of hot young pussy,” or that “there are no ‘special’ girls,” merely “cool ones and lame ones.” The lames ones, according to the Holistic Game blog, “could help themselves immensely by reading a few classic novels and working out a little [but] they get attention regardless, so the motivation to better themselves isn’t present.”

(Kaufman)

―that not so long ago the idea of a pickup artist was regarded somewhere between being hapless, charming, and forgivable to the one, and admirable to the other.

This is, in its turn, worth mentioning because in the twenty-first century American society seems especially prone to forgetfulness about matters historical. It is one thing to point out the obvious but esoteric Schwarzkopf cycleα, for instance; but quite another to see a decade like the eighties so forgotten―fashion is one thing, but it’s not just Republicans who forget Ronald Reagan’s presidency, or the fights over abortion or condoms or even marital rape.

The idea of the pickup artist is particularly reviled right now, and for reasons we might consider exceptionally obvious. But it seems strange, in the age of #NotAllMen and #JustNotMe, how many of my peers seem a bit cloudy on the issue of how important it was for guys to get laid―by a girl!―when we were younger. And it’s one thing to invoke ego defense, but, really, what drives such suppression? Can self-indictment really be so powerful? Because, I swear, they’re not all running from memories of evils committed. And just how many self-inflicted wounds, such as it is, could they possibly visit upon themselves? Deutsch-20141009-detailOr is it possible that we really have been wandering so catastrophically astray for so long without even knowing it? The proposition seems unrealistic for both magnitude and necessary complexity. Yet one point at least remains occulted: How can we possibly forget?

Still, though, the question of the pickup artist has to do with refinement and ritualization of so much masculine privilege and subordinate expectation breathing life into one of the darkest and most persistent corrosions of our human clay. And as purity cult roars its disdainful lament, we ought not wonder why this most superficial art of charlatanry also finds itself bearing the sort of scrutiny it simply cannot withstand. The pickup artist is a distillation of what hashtags of wounded masculine pride would hope to ward off.

This is an unfortunate truth: The days of the pickup artist will never be over. But this is a time in which the mythopoeic station of this lonely, notorious art can be uprooted and redefined according to what it actually is and does.

And, you know, it really is about time.

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Image notes: Top ― Detail of frame from Serial Experiments Lain, Layer 02, “Girls”. Middle ― Protesters gather outside Waking Life Espresso in Asheville, North Carolina, in September 2015, denouncing misogyny and the sexually harassing, predatory assertion of the pickup artist after the coffee shop’s owners, Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, were revealed by a local blogger as PUAs who advocate and promote their ideas and behavior via social media. (Photo via Salon.com) Bottom ― Detail of cartoon by Barry Deutsch, 9 October 2014.

α The Schwarzkopf cycle is a superficial frame for viewing history, starting with the period between 1953-91. At the front end is Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., who helped overthrow Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq; the latter is when his son, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., led American forces in Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, whose influence and respectability depended in large part on the American response to the Iranian reaction to Shah Reza Palavi. Explicitly: From father to son, it was still the same mission. And we are, of course, still working to clean up that mess, today.

Kaufman, Scott Eric. “North Carolina coffee shop on the rocks after misogynistic owners outed as podcasting, blogging red-pill enthusiasts”. Salon. 22 September 2015.

The Conscience of North Carolina

Kamon Dreams and Stranger Things: Detail of frame from 'FLCL' episode 5, "Brittle Bullet".

In addition to the obvious, that we are talking about North Carolina, here, there is another aspect we might pause to consider:

After a third-grader tearfully recounted how another boy had called him “gay” during gym class, teacher Omar Currie chose to raise the issue during story time by reading his students a fable about a prince who falls in love with another prince, ending with a happily-ever-after royal wedding.

That decision in April ignited a public outcry from some parents in the rural hamlet of Efland, North Carolina, resulting in Currie’s resignation this week from a job he loved. The assistant principal who loaned Currie her copy of “King & King” has also resigned, and outraged parents are pressuring administrators at the Orange County Schools to ban the book.

“When I read the story, the reaction of parents didn’t come into my mind,” Currie, 25, said Tuesday. “In that moment, it just seemed natural to me to read the book and have a conversation about treating people with respect. My focus then was on the child, and helping the child.”

Currie knows firsthand what it is like to be bullied. Growing up gay and black in a small town in the eastern part of the state, his memories of middle school are of being a frequent target for teasing and slurs.

(Biesecker)

Right. Welcome to North Carolina. To the one, we shouldn’t be surprised.

To the other, please consider a cetain symbolic value. Twenty-three years ago, Oregonians went to the ballot box and rejected Measure 9, a vicious anti-gay initiative. That year, voters in Colorado passed a similar measure. Amendment 2, as the Colorado version was known, died in federal court, and conservatives still complain about the judicial activism of saying a popular vote in a state cannot overturn the U.S. Constitution. In Oregon, though? The fight in Oregon orbited a library book. To be specific, if Lesléa Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies was not censored, then a Christian’s equal rights were under siege.

So for all we might recall and raise a glass to the efforts of zealots whose animus has driven gay rights all the way to the marriage equality threshold, it is also important to remember that the running electoral firefight leading from local supremacist ordinances all the way up to questions of constitutional amendments and open insurrection two decades later all started with a book that bigoted parents didn’t like.

There is, then, some symbolic value in this latest tale whispering up out of Efland, North Carolina.

‘Round and ’round, back to where we started.

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Biesecker, Michael. “Teacher resigns after reading students book about gay couple “. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 16 June 2015.

The Republican (ahem!) “Quandary”

Loretta Lynch, President Obama's nominee to be the next attorney general, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-VT, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Toss a coin; is the problem the political reporting or the politics? Consider a lede from Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer for the New York Times:

Senate Republicans bolted for a two-week spring recess with the confirmation of Loretta E. Lynch as attorney general in jeopardy, and themselves in a quandary: Accept a qualified nominee they oppose because she backs President Obama’s policies or reject her and live with an attorney general they despise, Eric H. Holder Jr.

See, that’s pabulum. But, to the other, whence comes it? After all, U.S Attorney Loretta Lynch has seen her nomination to succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General languish, though Senate Republicans are hard pressed to come up with a reason.

But, still, really? This is like a children’s book―And then the poor Senator had to choose …―except, come on, it wouldn’t make any sense even to children.

(more…)

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.

A Long Note on Political Tradition in These United States

President Barack Obama, delivers his State of the Union speech at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 12, 2013 in Washington, DC.  (Charles Dharapak/AP)

By now of course we have become accustomed to the proposition that Republicans, once elected, would rather sit around. To some it actually seems a very sick idea; not only did the Speaker of the House demonstrate that Republicans conisder their job description to include going on vacation instead of actually working because, well, the most important part of the job is election and re-election, but in recent months the GOP has shown more and more willingness to simply admit that the inherent failure of government is more of a conservative goal than anything else.

Boehner and the band skipped out on gigs that might need Congressional attention, such as the Daa’ish question, the Ebola question, and the Immigration Reform question; despite their howls of rage regarding the latter, the fact of executive action occasionally arises when Congress refuses to pass a bill and the Speaker of the House calls on the President to use his executive authority. They could have skipped screeching themselves hoarse by simply sticking around and doing their jobs. Then again, the prior statement is controversial if only because it would appear that Congressional Republicans appear to believe their first, last, and only job is to win votes. Given their reluctance to undertake day-to-day Constitutional functions of Congress, such as advising and consenting to presidential appointments—or, as such, formally refusing the nomination—we ought not be surprised that the latest duty Republicans wish to shirk is sitting through an annual speech.

Nearly 16 years later, another Democratic president, also hated by his Republican attackers, is poised to deliver his penultimate State of the Union address. And like Pat Robertson, the idea of denying the president a SOTU invitation is once again on the right’s mind.

“Yes, there’s a risk to overreacting, but there’s a risk to underreacting as well,” said Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review. “And I fear that’s the way the congressional leadership is leaning.”

Mr. Lowry suggested one way Congress could react. “If I were John Boehner,” he said, referring to the House speaker, “I’d say to the president: ‘Send us your State of the Union in writing. You’re not welcome in our chamber.'”

Lowry may not dictate GOP decision making the way Limbaugh and Fox News do, but it’s important to note that he isn’t the only one publicly pushing the idea.

Politico reported yesterday that congressional Republicans are weighing a variety of tactics to “address” their disgust over Obama’s immigration policy, and “GOP aides and lawmakers” are considering the idea of “refusing to invite the president to give his State of the Union address.”

Late last week, Breitbart News also ran a piece of its own on the subject: “Congress should indicate to President Obama that his presence is not welcome on Capitol Hill as long as his ‘executive amnesty’ remains in place. The gesture would, no doubt, be perceived as rude, but it is appropriate.”

(Benen)

Wait, wait, wait—sixteen years ago?

Yes. Like impeachment chatter and stonewalling, Republicans want to make refusing to hear the State of the Union Address part of their standard response to any Democratic president.

(more…)