United States

What They Voted For: Princess Envy

#AmericanRoyalty | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Schooley (@Rschooley): "I'm constantly amazed at how Ivanka comports herself like she's the spunky princess of a beloved royal family."  [via Twitter, 25 February 2018]

These days, everybody loves Schooley, or something:

I’m constantly amazed at how Ivanka comports herself like she’s the spunky princess of a beloved royal family.

Ouch.

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An American Snapshot (Heritage: Hatred)

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)

“Yes, a majority of Americans said they were against such measures, but let’s not brush past the obvious point: a third of the country is an alarming number of people.”

Steve Benen

The problem with making a point like Steve Benen’s is not that it is somehow wrong or grotesquely exaggerated. Rather, the problem is that such straightforward, dramatic statements find themselves anywhere near the realm of American reality.

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A Real-Time Note in Which Confusion Rises, Then Gives Way to Mild Embarrassment

Lebanon cooks for Suou and July at Noah's Ark in Sapporo.  (Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 5, 'Gunsmoke Blows, Life Flows ...".)

I think we’re all aware that (ahem!) This Is a Small and Insignificant Corner of the Internet. That does not trouble me; it’s a free-hosted blog written by a middle-aged nobody with too much time on his hands. And some days the numbers are puzzling, like when they actually climb. There was the time This Is saw thrice its usual attendance simply because of a post about a crazy elected official in Missouri calling for a coup against President Obama, for instance.

Then again, sometimes they’re puzzling in other ways, and it takes a moment to settle the thought: Ah, I’m getting hits from Bahrain because I use the word Daa’ish. Well, that or someone is interested in the fútbol match ‘twixt England and Germany. You know, weird things like that. Or the time WordPress lost track of the United Kingdom, which was just plain funny.Daily statistics for This Is, 7 April 2015.

You know what would get really good ratings? A fútbol match between this year’s World Cup winner and whatever team Daa’ish can field.

Seriously, that would end the war. The ladies would strip off and oil up, and win the game, anyway, leaving Daa’ish broken and humiliated, and probably cut to pieces by their superiors, who would in turn be broken and humiliated, and then we’d get a year off from the war because they were trying to field a new team, with hostilities only resuming after Daa’ish returns to the pitch and finds themselves devastated by the winner of the Gay Olympics.

Ratings would be down for that one. But they’d be up again for the bombing campaign that would start the next week.

Oh, right. Our ratings. This Is occasionally gets German readership, and it’s not impossible when bagging on Daa’ish to draw a hit from Syria. But six countries in addition to my own U.S.? Nine hits from Lebanon? Four hits from Iceland?

Now I find myself wondering what the hell I did. The diverse range was already established before I made the joke about Doctor Who mashups, so that can’t be it.

Seriously, I spent all day whining about homophobes and Republicans, even when those two terms weren’t redundant.

Oh … that’s right.

Damn, and here I was getting on with some serious self-gratifying humor. Then I had to go and ruin it by remembering the answer to the question.

Okay, okay. Look, to my neighbors in Liban, I really didn’t mean to bait you. It’s true I named my cat Liban, but that’s short for Libane, which in turn is the name of a fish spirit from Irish folklore. But that’s beside the point; in this case, Lebanon refers to a Japanese cartoon transvestite.

And, yeah, it’s true, I did actually get one of those self-gratifying grins from breaking the news. To the other, you already knew about the cartoon transvestite, since you clicked, and saw, and … right.

But thank you for stopping by. All of you. Lebanon, Iceland, France, Syria, Germany, Japan. And, of course, my American neighbors. It is one thing to say it’s not about the raw numbers; I’m certain I would feel differently if the blog drew five hundred hits a day or something. But I only rant like this because I cannot stop, and it is very kind of you to waste a few minutes out of your day discovering that fact for yourself.

Be well, and stop by whenever. We’re always happy to see you. Or not, you know, actually see you, I guess, since this is a virtual sort of thing, but, damn it, you know what I mean.

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Image note: Top―Lebanon cooks for Suou and July at Noah’s Ark in Sapporo. (Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 5, “Gunsmoke Blows, Life Flows …”.) Right―Daily statistics for This Is, 7 April 2015.

Unsolicited Advice on Preaching to the Choir

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — MARCH 16: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) speaks at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) March 16, 2013, in National Harbor, Maryland.  The American Conservative Union held its annual conference in the suburb of Washington, DC to rally conservatives and generate ideas.  (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

“If the Commandments are supposed to be the foundation for our laws, it would appear our lawmakers lost their copy of the Commandments when creating our legal system.”

Steve Benen

You know, I sympathize. I really do. This really is an annoying habit, since most of the people who insist that the U.S. is based on the Ten Commandments, or founded as a Christian nation, are usually doing so in advocacy of some sort of supremacism because they want the government to punish other people that they don’t like. And we hear it all the time. And it’s always stale, and it’s always wrong.

But come on. This is Michele Bachmann we’re talking about.

Let her say these dumb things on the Congressional record. Let her say them to her heart’s content. In fact, the more stupid things she says, the better.

Because then the next time you hear someone making that point, you can ask them why they want to sound as ignorant as Michele Bachmann.

And, you know, if they want to insist that she’s some sort of genius, fine. Pick your battles. At least now, with someone sitting across the table, you have a reason to waste your time explaining that the problem with Michele Bachmann is that nobody can figure out what the hell her unholy freakin’ problem actually is.

Seriously, let her say all the idiotic things she wants to get off her chest before she leaves Congress. It’ll be a great archive, and then she will go back to her moonbatted belfry and leave the rest of us alone. Or maybe join FOX News, like so many of her Republican colleagues. Or maybe Lady Lightbulb will follow the Gingrich arc, and spend the rest of her life trying to swindle her supporters.

But you’ll always have that to pull out when circumstance demands: “What? I didn’t know you were on the Bachmann bandwagon!”

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Benen, Steve. “Bachmann connects Ten Commandments, U.S. prosperity”. msnbc. 11 December 2014.

Puti-Toots on a Roll

Vladimir Putin's closet eyes.

The New York Times characterized this as a “rare diplomatic defeat” for Putin, though I’m not sure why. Indeed, diplomatic defeats appear to be the only thing the Russian president has accomplished lately.

Steve Benen

Sometimes I think the problem is that news organizations have stripped down the news so much that reporters are often left not calculating which words they can strike in order to fit within the column allocation without wrecking the writing, but, rather, how to fill electronic column space with words that nobody pays that much attention to.

The thing is that generations of writers are now raised to believe that every sentence must be vivid and dynamic and active. Then again, the thing would also seem to be some sort of disconnection between words and their meanings. We might borrow from Lemony Snicket and, saying nothing of watermelons, suggest that “The New York Times called the defeat ‘rare’, a word which here means ‘frequently occurring’.” Or maybe we should just run with Andrew Roth of the New York Times:

President Vladimir V. Putin said Monday that he would scrap Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline, a grandiose project that was once intended to establish the country’s dominance in southeastern Europe but instead fell victim to Russia’s increasingly toxic relationship with the West.

It was a rare diplomatic defeat for Mr. Putin, who said Russia would redirect the pipeline to Turkey. He painted the failure to build the pipeline as a loss for Europe and blamed Brussels for its intransigence.

The decision also seemed to be a rare victory for the European Union and the Obama administration, which have appeared largely impotent this year as Mr. Putin annexed Crimea and stirred rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

Russia had long presented the $22 billion South Stream project as a sound business move. But Washington and Brussels had dismissed it as a thinly veiled attempt by the Kremlin to cement its position as the dominant supplier in Europe while sidestepping Ukraine, where price disputes with Moscow twice interrupted supplies in recent years.

There was a time, not so long ago, when American conservatives fell in love with Puti-Toots. This was not so hard to understand, given their memory problems. (No, seriously, have you checked in on the Republicans who wax macho about how President Bush wouldn’t have taken shit from Putin, but also forget how the Administration stood by and allowed Russia to invade Georgia?) After all, here we have a closet homosexual running a pogrom against gays in Russia, clodhopping his way through the Ukraine, and absolutely burying the state he leads under its own economic detritus while chasing down the Manichaean hole of glory days gone by when the KGB had free rein in a useless dualistic struggle.

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The Curse of “Good” News

This is not the Playboy list of best schools to major in rape.

On a depressing note, Nick Anderson of The Washington Post pauses to consider sexual violence at American colleges and universities:

The number of federal investigations into how colleges handle sexual violence reports has jumped 50 percent in the past six months, reflecting a surge of recent discrimination claims and the difficulty of resolving high-profile cases that often drag on for years.

On May 1, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights released the first public list of colleges and universities under scrutiny for possible violations of federal law in their responses to sexual violence allegations.

This is overdue. Not a matter of perhaps or slightly or whatever. It’s flat overdue. To the other, just how good is good news, really, if its context is established by atrocity? Because, really, all it means is that maybe some substantial aspect of sexual violence in our society will change for the better.

It’s a big maybe.

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Anderson, Nick. “Tally of federal probes of colleges on sexual violence grows 50 percent since May”. The Washington Post. 19 October 2014.

Tragic Humor

Detail: This Modern World, 15 September 2014Don’t blame the cartoonist; sometimes the stranger-than factor comes into play, and there really is no punch line that isn’t depressing.

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Tomorrow, Tom. “The existential threat”. This Modern World. 15 September 2014.

Your Daily Reading Assignment

Don’t get me wrong; the United States has not gone nearly as batshit in the last week as we did after 9/11 on the torture-and-stripping-civil-liberties front (and we haven’t declared war on the Tsarnaevs’ native Chechnya — or, worse, mistakenly declared war on the Czech Republic — which, after the Bush Administration, feels like a laudable bit of restraint on our part). But maybe we haven’t gone as crazy as before because, after Bush-era wiretapping laws and Guantanamo and too many other terrible policies that President Obama has failed to defuse, we just don’t have that many rights left to chuck into the fire.

Paul Constant

Really, it’s worth your time, whether a fellow American or international neighbor, to read through Paul Constant’s open letter to Canadians for Prairie Dog, a Saskatchewan alternative newspaper, about life in these United States:

Weird America (detail)You guys, it’s getting weird down here.

Don’t get me wrong. Life in the United States is often weird, because we’re petrified of being bored. There’s always some actor who says something outrageous for us to swoon and bleat over, or some bored office worker who scrabbles together a perfect stop-motion Lego copy of the original Star Wars trailer. None of it is particularly meaningful, but there’s always more of it, at least; there’s always something new to gawp at. We’ve always been relentlessly weird.

The Boston bombing, ricin-laced mail, rights versus security, Alex Jones, and even Michael Jackson. How does all that tie together? Well, take a few minutes and find out.