Another linkpost, just ’cause I’m lazy.
•A company fails to deliver a mail-order product. When the customers complain, it slaps them with a $3,500 fine which goes on their credit history as an unpaid debt. The rationale? The contract says you can’t badmouth them (Consumerist at the link doubts this will hold up).
•Religious conservatives David Barton and Kenneth Copeland tell soldiers with PTSD to stop taking drugs and seeing counselors because the Bible says God is all they need. I think the term for these gentlemen is “douchebag.” Well in Barton’s case liar works well too.
•Boeing CEO Jim McNerny says we need to raise the retirement age for Social Security because retirement leaves too few people in the workforce. I presume what he means is that having the option to retire makes it easier to pass up shit wages and that’s all American business wants to pay them.
•An Iowa imam has been charged with sexual assault for feeling up a teenager he was counseling. He claims it was a religious service so First Amendment! end of story.
•Republicans won’t let Obama appoint any judges if they can help it.
•Here’s to companies that don’t require workers to show up on Thanksgiving.
•Digby links to and discusses a piece by Rick Perlstein arguing that the Tea Party isn’t that different from the right-wings of the past. LGM weighs in too.
•The Atlanta Braves are getting a new (heavily taxpayer supported stadium) in Cobb County. But Cobb County is very, very, very concerned that it might bring people to Cobb County from Atlanta. But I’m sure they don’t mean “black people” because we’re a post-racial society now. A local reporter suggests this is why Atlanta doesn’t have more regional mass transit.
•Earlier this week, I mentioned Richard Cohen’s column where he says that gagging at the sight of interracial couples is a conventional reaction. One Slate columnist argues Cohen is trying to distinguish the tea party from the real racists, but as LGM points out, saying “they’re not racist, they’re just disgusted by interracial marriage” isn’t really an improvement. Salon guts Cohen’s defense (he’s really, really hurt by being called a racist!).
•Now for something cheerful: Congressional democrats have proposed a bill that would pre-empt state restrictions on abortion. Not much chance of passage, but it’s good to see them stand up for this.
Category Archives: Politics
Another linkpost, just ’cause I’m lazy.
First off, we have Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, who writes in a column that conservative Iowa Republicans guarantee the primary there will go to someone far to the right of NJ Governor Chris Christie. And that while these Repubs are totally not racists, they’re very upset about the “the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children.”
I’m not sure if Cohen genuinely thinks being disgusted by interracial marriage is indeed a normal reaction or if he’s trying to avoid accusing Republican conservatives of racism. Given his views on black shoplifters and cops stopping black men based purely on their race, I’m probably being overly charitable (and did I mention he was recently stunned to realize slavery was cruel?). Oh, as noted at the initial link, he’s also wrong about most Americans being horrified by the mingling of the races.
•The defeat of Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s anti-sodomy, anti-abortion candidate for governor has freaked out a lot of conservatives. Rush Limbaugh’s explanation: that old undead sexist cliché, women want government to take care of them! Oh, and also the Dem candidate appealed to people who desire “all the sex without consequences they wanted.”
The interesting thing is, Limbaugh says it as if sex without consequences is a bad thing. Is it simply a code phrase for “they want insurance to pay for birth control” or is he, as they say, just venting what people are thinking. Because a lot of conservatives do think sex “without consequences” is a baaad thing.
•Lori Gottlieb, a West Coast author, learned from her insurer that she’d have to pay $5,400 more under Obamacare than her old plan, which would certainly be bad. But as noted at LGM, she says nothing about actually checking the California exchange to see if that’s true. And makes several odd statements, such as complaining that if she came down with cancer, she’d be covered despite pre-existing conditions. This is a bad thing? Oh, and while she bitches about paying for other people’s insurance, she was fine getting maternity benefits as long as she needed them and then dropping them (apparently under the illusion none of her insurance premiums would go to anyone else’s maternity care). And according to the LGM comments, she’s much more wealthy than the struggling single Mom she presents herself as (although that said, I don’t blame her for being pissed if she does, in fact, end up paying more).
•Alicublog catches James Taranto complaining that Democrats are equally bigoted whether they support white people or black people. Another conservative (author Andrew Klavan) objects that by not throwing around names like “slut” or “retard” the way conservatives do, liberals actually prove themselves the more eeevil group.
•So eeevil that asking questions about NFL players and the risk of concussions is just part of the evil scheme to castrate American manhood and make us soft!
•Tony Perkins forgets that the Pilgrims were not the same people as the Founding Fathers. And in fact they took a dim view of other peoples’ religious liberties (but then, so does Perkins).
•Texas law makes it harder for women to vote because they change their name after marriage. Which is good for conservatives.
•A Senator declares that gay rights violates the most fundamental beliefs of Christian employers. As Slacktivist says, “Forget the Bible. Forget the creeds. Forget loving God and your neighbor. Screw that Jesus guy. The “very most deeply held” belief, according to Dan Coats, is being anti-gay.” Another example of religion being reduced to pure tribalism.
•Right-wing think-tanker Frank Gaffney claims that registering the poor is “creeping socialism” and “the end of America as we know it” because they’re all moochers. Um, you mean like the Atlanta Braves?
Definitely feeling better than yesterday. I even got to walk outside, or as TYG put it once when sick “I get to go out in the big blue room!”
Still draggy, but at least I didn’t fritter my time away. When I worked, I worked. When I didn’t work, I either relaxed or slept. None of the frustrating in-betweenness.
But rather than do anything thoughtful, it’s time for a linkpost:
•Bill de Blasio won the New York mayorship despite opposing the city’s stop-and-frisk program and calling for higher taxes on the rich. Right-wingers proclaim that he’s a dyed-in-the-wool Communist and that without cops hassling every black man who walks the streets, New York will slide into chaos! He won’t keep us safe like Giulani (ignoring that having Rudy G. for mayor on 9/11 didn’t actually stop 9/11).
•Over in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli lost the race for governor. While white married women voted for him, he lost pretty much all other women over his opposition to abortion and no-fault divorce. I’m sure his support for criminalizing sodomy didn’t help. More here.
On divorce, I’m wondering now if that isn’t a reflection of the right-wing love of gender hierarchy. After all, if women can’t get out of a marriage easily, they’re that much easier to control once they tie the knot.
•Contrary to some media accounts, the Tea Party did not originate with Republican outrage over George W. Bush policy,it began when Obama took the White House.
•Businesses marketing online courses apparently think teaching is so easy, they can just hire actors to read the lectures.
•Some judges side with businesses that claim a right not to cover contraceptives in insurance. As LGM says, judicial appointments matter.
•Letting the NSA collect your e-data protects your privacy! Because if corporate America keeps it, who knows what they might do with it, but you can trust the NSA, right?
•Doctors anally rape a man to check whether he has drugs stuffed up his butt. No. Not kidding.
•Tom Tomorrow on the free market in health care.
•The Catholic Church insists it opposes unfair discrimination against gays. But you know, firing them for being gay is totally not unfair.
•Slacktivist rips into the idea that libertarians, unlike social conservatives, are not moralistic and judgmental.
You may have heard there are calls to boycott Ender’s Game over Orson Scott Card’s politics. John Scalzi concludes (admittedly speculating) that Card’s almost certainly set for life, regardless of whether people see the film or not (I agree with Scalzi, whether they should is a separate question).
•The U.S. State Department said recently that letting embassy workers unionize is a security threat. It’s softened that position since.
•Digby looks at proposals from a recent speech by Tea Party Senator Mike Lee: Get rid of federal transportation funding (states and local governments will do it better!) and allow workers to take flex time or comp time instead of overtime when they work 40 hours a week. Based on personal experience I agree with Digby that the latter will work much better for employers than employees. You’ll take overtime when the bosses want you to and get comp time only when it’s convenient for them (probably never).
•And here’s an overview of state-level legal assaults on worker rights.
•Seattle’s mayor wants the city to have a new, faster fiber-optic network. Comcast is donating to his opponent.
•A feminist talks back to the people who call her slut, bitch and the c-word.
•The third verse of the Star-Spangled Banner deals with the British decision to free slaves and recruit them.
•A look at the scope of NSA spying and how willing the agency is to sniff out every little crumb of data. Michael Hayden argues we need the NSA on that wall, whether we’re looking for terrorist threats or just economic intel (“how far are the Germans going to go with the Greeks in preserving the Eurozone?”)
•Texas voter-ID laws have disqualified Jim Wright, former Speaker of the US House, from voting. He was able to get it fixed, but will ordinary seniors have the same options?
A woman posts a video to FB showing her water coming out of the tap yellow. The water company sues for defamation. Suing to shut up critics was something companies did a lot in the 1990s (SLAPP—Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation),so I’m not surprised they’re still trying it.
•A profile of an 86-year-old who works to find money for women who can’t afford an abortion. If that cheers you up too much, here’s a look at a pregnant former drug addict forced into a treatment program despite not using drugs during pregnancy. The fetus got a lawyer. She didn’t (not unusual). And this Oklahoma woman had to spend $3,000 traveling out of state to get an abortion for a fetus afflicted with holoprosencephaly (might be born alive, definitely won’t live out the first year).
•Obama nominates judges to vacant judgeships. Unsurprisingly the GOP cries oppression. Topping that we have a right-wing blogger accusing civil-rights activist John Lewis of being Bull Conner and unleashing police dogs and firehouses on freedom-loving Americans. Because Lewis supports Obamacare and that’s Just Like Slavery.
•The Wall Street Journal explains the problem with the economy is that we don’t have enough males working. If more of them don’t find jobs soon, unemployment will stay high!
•One company is arguing corporations should be able to take defective-product cases to court in secret. Which company? We don’t know. It’s secret.
•Another right-wing white terrorist.
•Here’s a lovely fellow: the head of an Oxford rugby club says that for an upcoming dinner event, club members should bring a woman and a bottle of wine “to be tampered with.” Even if this was some kind of joke it’s not even remotely funny.
•Phil Kline, a rabidly anti-abortion Kansas attorney general, has been suspended from practicing law for three years, due to some of his anti-abortion investigations. Unfortunately a Kansas doctor who provided a required second opinion in some abortion cases has lost hers. One of the cases involved a 10-year-old girl who’d been raped by a family member.
•An overview of the religious-liberty argument for corporations to not cover birth control in their insurance.
•Newest loss-of-privacy news: NSA was tapping private data centers run by Google and Yahoo.
•A Christian blogger points out there’s no Biblical injunction against baking wedding cakes or providing other services to gay couples.
A post by Letha Dawson Scanzoni on Christian Feminism today discusses the religious right’s love of hierarchy.
The author’s examples include an old British hymn that talks about how poor and rich are all set in place by God, and similar sentiments about segregation in the South. Plus a lot on Christians who argue this applies especially to the importance of women submitting to men. I can think of others, such as right-winger Ralph Reed saying Biblical injunctions on slavery apply to the conduct of employees (” Christians have a responsibility to submit to the authority of their employers, since they are designated as part of God’s plan for the exercise of authority on the earth by man.”).
Scanzoni says many Christians embrace this hierarchical view because they believe it’s God’s will (she disagrees), and that some Christians are terrified that without a clear set of Godly rules, they won’t know what to do. I agree, but I think for some people, the fear is much wider in scope.
In The Authoritarians Robert Altemeyer says “authoritarian followers”—people who want strong, powerful leaders—see society as a house of cards in a strong breeze. Remove one card and everything topples. Black is black, white is white and if people cross into black,suggest there’s also grey or question where the line is drawn, the leaders must smack them down. They don’t just fear their actions, they fear everyone’s: if marriage (for example) isn’t one man/one woman, then some people really can’t see any way to ban pedophilia or man-on-dog.
Mary Douglas, in Purity and Danger, makes the same point more generally: societies, particularly religious-dominated ones, want nice sharp boundaries between clean and unclean. Fish that don’t have fins or scales, for example? In the Old Testament they’re unclean because, Douglas argues, they breach the boundaries, both fish and not-fish. As I noted last year, past eras have shown the same fixation on class. Under sumptuary laws, the poor can’t dress like the rich and the nouveau rich can’t dress like aristocrats, so that you can tell at a glance who’s who and aristocrats have visual proof of their own superiority.
Another factor, I suspect, is that for many people change to the hierarchy means losing status. The book Hellfire Nation quotes slavery advocates in the 19th century saying slavery stabilizes society: even the poorest white guy can look at a rich white guy and think of them as brothers in non-blackness. Likewise, in the 20th century, being a white Christian male didn’t guarantee you’d be at the front of the line, but you’d never be at the back of it. Slacktivist quotes several writers arguing this was a big factor in the shutdown. Conservative WASP Republican voters who know they’re transitioning from majority status to one of many minorities see their status (and possibly their actual power) disappearing and they’re terrified.
It’s particularly acute with gender issues because those affect individual men so personally. If a man defines himself by patriarchal authority over his family, a world where women are free not to submit to him takes away his power. That stretches way beyond Christianity (though having religious approval for the view doesn’t hurt). One of the reasons a Forbes columnist once warned against marrying professional women, for instance, was that if she’s unhappy with the marriage, she can afford to walk out. The same applies, in different ways, to men who define themselves as guys because they’re doing Stuff Women Don’t Do.
As the blogger Jeanne d’Arc once said, the belief “that certain groups of people have a ‘place’ in society that exists outside of the context of what they are best at and how much potential they have to contribute to society – and regardless of how awkwardly they fit into that ‘place’” is never anything a destructive one.
This stock super-villain line from the Silver Age (used any time some criminal rips off a charity event) came to mind reading this story about fraudulent charities and the complete ineffectiveness of regulations against them. Shut down a charity in one state, it starts up in another, or the brains behind it sets up a new boiler-room operation.
•A woman looks back at a Satanic sex abuse case in Britain. Unsurprisingly, there were no Satanists.
•If you’re still in doubt, here are multiple intelligence professionals saying torture doesn’t work.
•A few hundred dollars in back property taxes let tax-lien investors in Washington DC foreclose on properties worth much more. By adding legal fees and expenses to the bill, they could either collect a nice paycheck or make it impossible for homeowners to save their houses. Meanwhile, Illinois sues a company that changes locks or bashes in doors on vacant properties pre-foreclosure. Only there’s no foreclosure and they’re not vacant.
•I’ve complained in past posts (don’t have links handy) about companies that stiff their workers on promised pensions. Governments can be just as bad.
•Jellyfish are becoming more powerful, more invincible than ever before.
•I’m familiar with the idea embraced by some religious conservatives that dating is bad, and that a carefully-controlled (by family and church) courtship process is better for finding true love. Here’s one blogger’s story.
•When right-wingers discuss Benghazi, feel free to mention multiple terrorist attacks under W.
•An electric company wants to charge customers with bad credit scores higher rates. Slacktivist looks at the insane conviction credit scores are a metric for everything.
•An amateur marathoner grumbles that kids in marathons today aren’t competitive enough. Why? Communism subverting our competitive spirit! No, I’m not making that up.
As several people point out in the comments (it’s not a direct link), Communist nations are often viciously competitive at sports, as much as any town with a high-school football team. And that anyone who finishes a marathon and tries again is hardly lacking in drive. And that a lot of this is just statistical white noise (with more people running, it’s not surprising a smaller percentage is hard-core) and economics—the cost of shoes and other running equipment is more than it was a few decades back.
•Changing the shape of chocolate can change the melt rate which can change the taste.
•The Archdiocese covering the US military chaplain corps has forbidden Catholic chaplains from presiding over funerals if the soldier was gay and married. They have also been told not to counsel soldiers in same-sex relationships.
You know how anti-gay activists like to whine about how unfair it is to criticize them as bigots? Sorry, Archdiocesians, in this case it’s totally fair.
•In 1969, President Nixon came up with a plan to end the Vietnam War: convince the USSR he was so crazy, he might launches a nuclear attack at any second.
•Bills to fight revenge porn. And here’s a profile of one sleazeball who makes money off revenge porn. More here. I’m particularly appalled by the psychiatrist in the last link who dismisses the issue as the equivalent of legislating against heartbreak (that’s like arguing banning stalking is like banning crushes). But some people love nuances like that.
•Ralph Nader and Washington DC’s libraries. Apparently his library group is fighting multiple library projects despite the support they have from people who would be using them.
•Do black parents really give their kids weird names? Weirder than, say, Tagg Romney?
•The problem of non-existent controversies.
Some of these are older, but it never hurts to remind people.
This report from August lists some of the then-current NSA issues. Included: the court that oversees surveillance has to depend on the information the NSA gives it, and the NSA has repeatedly broken the fairly loose laws binding it, multiple times. As in 2,000-plus times in one year, including some actions violating a court order. And it lies about what it’s done, of course. And about how many terror plots NSA surveillance has foiled.
•The NSA works on encryption standards and encryption products to make them easy to violate. More here.
•New York uses electronic toll passes to track drivers. Though apparently just as a traffic control method (and without telling the drivers)
•Glenn Greenwald looks at international NSA coverage. Here we learn Brazil would like the Internet out from under US influence.
•An NSA official avoids a question about whether the NSA has ever tracked Americans through cellphones.
•I hadn’t heard about Tor, a technology for protecting online anonymity. The NSA has and they want to crack it.
My title is not to deny that feminists get angry. Sometimes very angry. I count myself as one and I get pretty pissed when I look at the bilge put out by men’s rights activists, and realize I live in a country where a woman deciding whether she should get pregnant or not isn’t a right, it’s controversial.
The cliche, however, is that women are angry for some totally irrational reason. Just like they’re humorless. They’re irrational.
The classic argument is that feminists were pissed off because they were ugly. Or at least unfeminine. So that meant they couldn’t get a man, and without a man, naturally they turned bitter at what was otherwise a wonderful patriarchal system where women who could get men really had all the power.
Mark Judge of Daily Caller has a new take: women are angry because of their daddy issues: “America is a very angry country because of missing, absent, and lousy fathers. The social science is clear and unambiguous about the devastation the loss of fathers causes in terms of drug abuse, promiscuity and loss of self-esteem among young people. The psychological and emotional wounds go very deep.”
Evidence? As in, you know, a correlation (“60 percent of the National Organization of Women and 90 percent of bloggers on Feministing all express bitterness over being raised by single mothers.”)? None. Judge’s logic is simple: women are really, really angry and it can’t be explained by logic. Therefore it must be based on some inner agony. And therefore there’s no reason to compromise because politics can’t fix their problems. They’re angry at Rush Limbaugh, at Republicans, at antichoice activists, that can’t possibly be explained rationally! Obviously they can’t be satisfied by anything but a “matriarchal utopia.” As a result, “feminists are so angry that debate with them is no longer possible.”
Of course it’s perfectly possible. It’s not really practical for conservatives because so many of them have committed to oppose birth control, dismiss sexual harassment and oppose women being able to sue for equal pay (my apology to all conservatives who don’t fit this bill). Some right-wingers object to women having the vote. Where Georgia considered a bill in 2012 that would deny an abortion even if the baby’s guaranteed to be born dead (cows give birth to dead calves all the time. Yes that was an argument).
If you stand by those positions, no, debate really isn’t possible.
But I don’t think it’s feminism’s fault.
And I don’t think women’s issues with their fathers are the problem either.
The Daily Beast looks at the Men’s Rights Movement, which it describes as a loose alliance of multiple causes: activists who want to change child-support laws, rape apologists (“If I encounter a rape in progress, what am I going to do, stop it? No, I’m going to walk around it.”), activists who want more shelters for abused men, all of them united by a life feminism is tyranny, oppression, and bad, bad, bad.Men are the oppressed!
Not surprising. The conviction men are the oppressed ones ranks up with the belief it’s anti-gay activists and white people who are oppressed. But it’s still bullshit.
That’s not to say men don’t have it bad, or that they don’t get screwed over. However, the guiding drive for Men’s Rights activists is that they’re screwed over by women. Feminists won’t let heroic men appear on television. When mass shootings happen, it’s because women take men’s jobs. When a Canadian group runs ads telling men not to be a rapist, some MRAs (men’s rights activists) complain (in the Daily Beast article) that it’s sexist. Others run a parody ad telling women not to cry rape just because they wish they hadn’t had sex (false accusations, for some MRAs, are a much more serious issue than rape. Even though there’s no evidence false charges of rape are more frequent than any other crime).
We have right-wing pundits and preachers declaring women shouldn’t be allowed to vote, or that women shouldn’t have rights, period. Women get targeted with death threats and rape threats for what they say online. Or being told sexual harassment is a myth.
And it’s easy to find articles like this one (not a direct link) in which blogger Matt Forney reveals women’s self confidence is bad (self-confident women make his dick go limp, he says), undeserved (women accomplish nothing) and that the best thing we can do for America is destroy women’s self-confidence.
I don’t see men suffering anything comparable. In reality, as John Scalzi says, if life were a videogame, straight white men would have the lowest level of difficulty. Not that they’re guaranteed a win, but it’s easier than any other character class.
And when it’s not, women are probably not the cause. Consider one of the classic stats MRAs love to throw around, that the most dangerous jobs in America are overwhelmingly male, which is why women don’t get paid as much. In the first place, that makes no sense: If it were a factor in people’s pay, miners would be millionaires, stockbrokers would work for minimum wage.
In the second place, I’ve never seen an MRA who jumps from this to “Therefore, our top priority should be improving safety conditions for miners and steeplejacks” (in fairness, I don’t browse men’s-rights websites much, so maybe they do discuss it a lot). Instead, the conclusion is “therefore women who say they aren’t paid enough because of sexism are wrong!”
It’s true men can face discrimination too. But I’ve read plenty of feminist articles in support of men who want to be the primary child-care giver or work in female professions. Getting past “you are your gender” views of what you can do benefits both sexes.
I suspect a lot of MRAs don’t think so.