Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why--I am certainly shocked!

You know, it just bowls me over that someone who does not respect the authority of the federal government and makes states' rights arguments over property that he isn't entitled to also has opinions like this:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do. 

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
I simply do not know how these militia folks ever found themselves in support of a racist. My stars...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

You know, I have My Eye On Rand Paul. As a Snark-blogger, you see.

I am torn on how I want to be about Rand Paul. Now, if you asked me in 2010 how I felt about Rand Paul, I'd have told you right out he's an idiot and his dad's a freaking crank-ass idiot. The pair of them are all flirty with neo-Confederates and full of anecdotal non sequitur bullshit aimed at knocking the fearsome power of government over the rights of citizens and all that. And of course there's the whole libertarian-by-day, social conservative by night conundrum: by what standard would somebody regulate women's bodies if they think it's hands-off for coal companies where government is concerned? Is a d&c comparatively that much more negatively socially impactful than pneumoconiosis at large in any coal community? I don't have stats for that--I just want my readers to think on that a bit. At any rate, a number of blokes were never pinned down and likely to die over any collapse in a vagina. Just saying.

And I've even considered whether he might be an OK VP pick for Romney in 2012, so I don't even know even know what to say to a suddenly just like a neo-con who for no good reason likes Rand Paul  like Ramesh Ponurru. Huh?

But you know--the Rand Paul revealed quite recently in a handful of vids tastefully slipped on the side to Mother Jones kind of has me in his corner a little. So--he called Dick Cheney a war criminal, basically, and this I liked very much. But also he said maybe Ronaldus Maximus of the House of Reagan wasn't such a hot budgeter. Whocouldhavethunk? 

I want to see this guy go far. I think he could spread some dangerous memes. He's a mental vandal with his reality turned to "spray all the things". I think it would be keen to see Son of Ron Paul kick the slats of the GOP in.

But lord no--I do not think he'd be any kind of president or vice president. That's too silly.

So...Let Me Get This Straight

All these folks have rushed to defend the "little guy being picked on by big government" but the basis of his claims to the land might not actually be true?

This makes me skeptical about other things. I don't think this is about cattle or turtles. It's about whether laws mean anything. I keep hearing "sovereign citizen" language that implies that maybe this is a nation of men, not laws. And I keep hearing this promoted by Sean Hannity who I suspect of being a shit-stirrer. And other people notice, too.

It genuinely does remind me of the kind of rhetoric from twenty years ago from ol' G. Gordon Liddy:

  • August 26, 1994: Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they're going to be wearing bulletproof vests." … "They've got a big target on there, ATF. Don't shoot at that, because they've got a vest on underneath that. Head shots, head shots.... Kill the sons of bitches.[1}

There are some people who seem to want to root for a bad outcome. And I don't think they care what starts it all, so long as it starts.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Did Anyone Catch that Last Episode of Cosmos?

If there was one thing that I could say I definitely love about this show, it's that Neil DeGrasse Tyson's explainers put the scientific understanding into historical perspective. He makes it abundantly clear that scientific advancement of knowledge is cumulative--that concepts don't appear out of a clear blue sky, but rather come from ideas developed previously. This past episode was no different--it introduced us to a scientist who calculated the age of the earth--but also took on the petroleum industry against leaded gas because of the information he had learned.

This was a great introduction to the ways in which industries can promote the ideas of scientists whose views are complicit with their own, and threaten to defund those whose (still nonetheless accurate) data might prove harmful to their profitability.

I genuinely think this should plant a seed about the same dynamic taking place with respects to climate change--but even if it doesn't, I kind of trust Tyson to get there, eventually. This has really been a compelling, and entertaining show about science. Genuinely well-done.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Problem is Probably "Meet the Press" Itself


Above you see an example of the level of the discussion on Meet the Press. The goofballery of David Brooks has been amply covered, from my colleague at Rumproast, Bette Noir, to Charles P. Pierce at Esquire, to the premier internet Brooks scholar, Driftglass. But much as it bears repeating that Brooks is a man of dubious authority to speak in love with his own voice, a man whose discussion of the Obama Administration's "manhood" with respects to foreign policy is redolent of personal hang-ups not the least of which is a definition of masculinity dependent upon aggression (a bluntness, you'll note, he preemptively apologized for--nota bene, Maureen Dowd would never apologize for the same) but whose remarks also occur when, in the War on Terror which still ongoing, another handful of people, this time in Yemen, were smoked by drones because, apparently, that's the not-aggressive way we're doing things, now--did ya notice this is a discussion on Meet the Press?

Meeting the press via Meet the Press is kind of awful. Not to fully exculpate the blandness of David Gregory's helming of the Sunday staple, but if NBC wants to get to the bottom of the low ratings for this show--uh, have they tried watching it? Because they might find a little more to worry about than whether Gregory is...psychologically in the game? (Seriously, is this a thing?) Hm:

Last year, the network undertook an unusual assessment of the 43-year-old journalist, commissioning a psychological consultant to interview his friends and even his wife. The idea, according to a network spokeswoman, Meghan Pianta, was “to get perspective and insight from people who know him best.” But the research project struck some at NBC as odd, given that Gregory has been employed there for nearly 20 years.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Meditation Against Theocracy

I have blogged a fair amount regarding my opposition to laws that permit religious concepts to trump secular views, especially with respects to reproductive health and marriage equality, for pretty much my blog's lifespan. I've decried the chilling aspect that theocratic leanings have had on education and dissemination of knowledge.

This is why I see the idea of religious freedom laws trying to skate into legitimacy, as a form of nullification by other means. To my mind, when I see people trying to override anti-discrimination laws that might require a business to serve LGBT customers, or claim anti-religious discrimination to allow them to not hire, or to fire, or to disregard the marriages of LGBT people--what I think I'm looking at is a nullification argument, where the individual has some kind of right to just say "Well--my religion!" and then anything goes. So why stop at gay or trans discrimination for employment or denial of birth control to employees?

Why not just go ahead and reach back to when people used the Bible to discriminate against their fellow man and even sanction slavery?

Well, that's just it--religion can make an argument for slavery. Religion can, and has, been used to excuse or explain abuse and neglect against children. It can be used to excuse or explain abuse against our environment.  It can be the basis of hate crimes or wars. It seems like an all-purpose claim to deny government authority--and that just doesn't make for a civil society. I don't think the ideals of a government with laws against "cruel and unusual punishment" are compatible with the ideals that would lead to public stonings. 

So, while I hear religious freedom arguments as a desire for people of faith to be "left alone" by their meddlesome government--I see this tactic as an end-run around secular authority to practice localized theocracy. It isn't just about laws impacting the rights of individuals (or "corporate persons" who have neither souls to damn nor noses to punch) but whole communities.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hillary Clinton: The Mee-Maw Sanction

It seems really weird to me that I've just earlier this week discussed one HRC conspiracy theory regarding the somewhat uncivil disobedience of someone who does not seem to have been in her right mind toward the former Secretary of State, US Senator, and First Lady, Hillary Clinton, but with the happy news that her only child is expecting, lo and behold! A new conspiracy theory presents itself!

Behold, The Mee-Maw Sanction:

If you thought the Hillary Clinton “shoe truthers”were bad, wait until you meet the “baby truthers.” So far, conservative host Steve Malzberg is leading the charge with this video suggestingChelsea Clinton’pregnancy is being effectively “staged” to help her mother win the 2016 presidential election. 
And excited Malzberg announced the 34-year-old Clinton’s pregnancy, saying, “Lo and behold, Hillary was by her side” when she made the announcement. “Hillary Clinton is going to be a grandmother when she runs for president!” he exclaimed. 
“Now, pardon the skeptic in me,” Malzberg continued, before predicting the oncoming criticism from Media Matters and other watchdog website. “Malzberg said this was a staged, planned pregnancy?” he imagined they would ask.

This is the kind of dopey thing that really makes me leery of so much political reporting. Who else has been grandparents in the White House or running for it? Uh? Does it matter? Does it somehow matter more when it's a woman candidate? Seriously, if she was sometimes demonized in the media despite being a mother, being a grandmother shouldn't do anything special for her, should it? Is she suddenly going to be more of a domestically-inclined baker, knitter, and all-around Angel of the House?

Is that a yardstick we have ever judged potential C-in-C's before? How weird! And thinking it might matter is only the "tip of the iceberg" weird. How does this make sense as a kind of political" strategery"?  If Chelsea is announcing now, nine months from now means she gives birth in Dec 14/Jan 2015? So Hills won't even be that new a Grammy when she's running from, let's say August 2015 on. That hardly gives her the optimal staging. I'm inclined to think Chelsea just kind of did this the old-fashioned way. And I don't think it makes sense to suppose otherwise unless you are really way too interested making out dynasties from our political superstars. To paraphrase Freud--sometimes a kid is just a kid.