Category Archives: Politics

Other people’s shoes

“No arguments can force you into other people’s shoes. Either you decide that it’s right to consider the world from somewhere other than the accidental point at which you stand in it—or you don’t.” — Susan Neiman

I think one reason Republican governance is such a nightmare is that large numbers of Republicans have decided they shouldn’t look at the world from anywhere but their own privileged position. The elected official position (rich straight WASP men) and the Republican voter position (straight WASP men, not always rich). The further from that accidental point you fall — a woman, a Muslim, non-white, non-rich — the less they give a damn. As Lance Manion says, the fundamental belief is “we get to have it, you don’t.”

Trump voters grumble a lot about welfare queens and shiftless black folks, but they’re very keen to have their own social safety net increased. They need it. They’re not loafers, it’s just life gave them some hard knocks. Just like their abortion is necessary, not like the ones slutty girls get.

Of course, as Lawyers Guns and Money points out, welfare cuts and abortion restrictions don’t work like that, neither does discrimination against pre-existing conditions. Alabama Repub Mo Brooks argued that Trumpcare shouldn’t allow people who didn’t take care of themselves to get a pass on their pre-existing problems; in reality, the insurers will never distinguish between the Bad People who brought it on themselves and the Good People who take care of themselves. If either has a pre-existing condition, the reaction will be the same. Just as restrictions on abortion clinics affect everyone who wants an abortion, regardless of the reason. Ditto the attacks on Planned Parenthood as a source of affordable contraception. They won’t just affect the nymphomaniac sluts of right-wing fever dreams. But large numbers of Republicans (admittedly this is not unique to them) still refuse to see that The Other needs help as much as they do.

And at the level of the wealthy and powerful in national government, the lack of sympathy is worse. After all, they’re rich, so why should they do anything for people who need help? So we get a budget that guts services for the needy. And bullshit projections of super economic growth so revenue will look rosy even after tax cuts. Or claims that just because the Trumpcare plan cuts $880 billion from Medicaid, that doesn’t mean services will be cut.

Or student loans. The Trump administration is looking to end a student-loan forgiveness program. But I’m sure Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ latest plan — to have a single company service all loans — will work out wonderfully (sarcasm).

Or Trump’s lack of enthusiasm for even basic regulation, such as requiring investment advisers put your interests ahead of their own.

In other news:

•New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu gives a powerful speech about why it’s right to take down the monuments of Confederate officers as both traitors and white supremacists. Breitbart proclaims that criticizing the Confederacy is (surprise!) political correctness (and a Mississippi lawmaker says people taking down Confederate monuments should be lynched.). Similarly, after a Washington DC bar pulled the Pill Cosby drink from its menu oh-so-edgy libertarian Nick Gillespie declared this was PC Oppression (rather than say, the business responding to negative public feedback).

•Government is not a business and Trump is not America’s CEO.

•Slacktivist on fantasies of heroism.

•Stripping naked at the airport during a dispute with TSA staffers is not First Amendment-protected.

•Now, some good news: House Republicans rushed through the last Trumpcare vote so fast, they may have to redo it. LGM meanwhile shows how the Heritage Plan (a right-wing proposal for healthcare) falls far short of Obamacare. More on that.


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Elliott Rodger, mass murderer and role model?

Echidne of the Snakes posted a link this morning to her three-year-old piece on mass murderer Elliot Rodger. Yesterday anniversary of the day Rodger declared his intention to break into a sorority and gun down the filthy cows for refusing to sleep with him (he hadn’t been rejected, but he had some emotional issues and never even asked a woman out). He tried to carry out his plan, couldn’t get in the sorority, killed three girls standing outside and then went off to kill more people. Several injuries followed, plus one death, and Rodger’s own suicide.

Echidne said the date was worth remembering because the attitudes that fueled Rodger haven’t gone away. And sure enough, other “incels” (involuntary celibates) gathered online to celebrate the day Rodger lashed back at the women oppressors. He’s a hero for our times!

Rodger was, I gather, mentally ill, but that doesn’t change the way misogynist, anti-woman, anti-feminism thinking seems to have fueled him. Rodgers himself credited misogynist websites with confirming his views that women were filthy sluts who should never be allowed to choose who they sleep with because they’ll only reject perfect alpha male types like himself for some inferior specimen. As several people put it, if a guy says he hates and loathes women, plans to kill a sorority house full of them and then attempts to do so, it’s not unreasonable to credit him with the motives he claims.

Women issues seem to be a recurrent problem with shooters. They’re almost always men. In several cases they’re domestic abusers. Or men who just feel frustrated, pissed and angry because women don’t put out for them. But the conclusion far too many people draw is that therefore it’s the woman’s fault. If only women would just be nice to their husbands, hubby wouldn’t have to beat them — no, wait, it’s that if women would only put men on a pedestal, worship and admire them, men wouldn’t have to shoot them. Why did I get those two confused?

It’s why I’ve always thought it a shame that Wonder Woman’s old foe Dr. Psycho lost the misogynist mission to keep all women in chains he had in the Golden Age. He could be a perfect caricature of the nastiest men’s rights activists, theocratic woman-haters and sexist propagandists like Limbaugh or Coulter. Not to mention, of course, President Shit-Gibbon.

All rights to image remain with current holder. Art by H.G. Peters

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Undead sexist cliche: good women are nice

So far this year I’ve talked about nice people with ugly beliefs and nice people in fiction. Now for a discussion of the pressure on women to be nice, to be decorous — in short to shut the hell up and not question the menfolk.

For example, when Sen. Elizabeth Warren started questioning Jeff Sessions’ fitness for attorney general, Mitch McConnell invoked a procedural rule to prevent Warren speaking ill of another Senator.

Or we have Michigan State Rep. Lisa Brown who during an abortion debate referenced her vagina. For actually using the word, the majority leader (Republican) declared Brown had violated the “decorum” of the State House (another Republican declared the word was hideously offensive — nothing that should ever be said in mixed company).. The leader barred Brown from speaking on a subsequent, unrelated bill and did the same to Barb Bynum for suggesting the state ban vasectomies unless needed to save a life.

And now we have Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s response to a Native American woman who confronted him in a recent dispute: he wagged his finger and told her to be nice.

In my piece on niceness in fiction, I pointed out that writing a nice character doesn’t mean writing them as a doormat. The guys in these accounts confuse the two (probably intentionally). The nice, polite, unfeminine behavior they’re demanding is behavior that doesn’t challenge them or threaten their goals in the slightest. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that while pols may bristle about how unfair male critics are, their response is rarely “be nice.”

Likewise, antifeminist snowflake Suzanne Venker has a new article on the Fox News website about how what men want most in a woman is niceness. A woman who’s soft, gentle and nice. A beta female. They don’t want someone who’s going to fight them. Whereas women don’t want nice, they’re attracted to a guy who’ll take charge. Venker says that Of Course she’s not telling women to be a doormat but yeah, she is. Nice = submissive. Which is her usual take.

There are times it’s good to be nice. Times it’s good to appear nice. And times to drop any pretense of niceness and stick in the shiv. I’m sure Zinke and Venker know that, they’re just not going to admit it.

In other sexist news:

•A neo-Nazi rant declares that casual dating is cheating, proving that what we need is white sharia.

•Alaska state Rep. David Eastman is convinced women are getting abortions because it’s an opportunity to travel.

•The Oklahoma legislature has passed a resolution calling abortion murder.

ªLots of women live in states with anti-science forced-birth laws (abortion causes depression! Breast cancer! Etc.)

•Then there’s the right-wing enthusiasm for women getting married and popping out babies. Which prompts one writer at the Federalist to declare people who have pets instead of babies are insane. Literally. Don’t we realize dogs are actually savage predators at heart? Yeah, like human beings aren’t?

•Fox News bigshot and alleged sexual harasser Roger Ailes is dead. I’m not crying. I’m crying even less because if he’d died just a year ago, Fox would have saved the $45 million it’s paid in the past nine months to settle harassment lawsuits against him.

•In more good news, the New Hampshire politician who founded the Red Pill misogynist Reddit sub-site has resigned from politics.

•Frontier flight attendants say the airline won’t let them pump breast milk at work.

•Apparently the military community has a new female target for its wrath: dependas, women who supposedly marry military guys for the wrong reasons.

•A man hits on a woman working retail, then waits in his truck to talk to her again when she gets off work. He’s stunned people thought the waiting outside was suspicious.

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More politics, starting with the good news.

The fascist alt.right candidate lost in France! And the American alt.right is sooooo miserable.

•Georgia’s restrictions on voting registration have been struck down. Though as noted at the link, the Supreme Court may undo that.

•The Washington Post says it would be next to impossible for insurers to use the aftermath of rape or sexual assault (STDs, PTSD) to charge survivors higher insurance premiums for pre-existing conditions. I hope they’re right.

•Congress tried to remove legal protections for users of prepaid debit cards. The effort failed.

•DNC head Tom Perez blasts Trump’s proposal for a new voter suppression commission: “Donald Trump shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the word integrity.” And more from there.

•Trump lies so badly, his supporters can’t keep up.

Now the bad/annoying:

•So Jimmy Kimmel talked about the importance of affordable healthcare and brings up his son’s health issues. The ever-vapid Jonah Goldberg concludes this is just the tactic Hitler would have used.

•Rightbloggers struggle to explain how awesome Trumpcare is. Unsurprisingly, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he’s ready to let insurers in his state raise premiums for pre-existing conditions. And Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho reassures us that nobody dies because they can’t get health care.

•A US attack on a Syrian mosque may have been a war crime. And Syria is using nerve gas, which is a crime against humanity.

•Russia has banned Jehovah’s Witnesses from practicing their faith.

•It’s cultural anxiety (which seems to include all the racial/religious aspects of culture), not the economy that fuels Trump voters.

•An Australian politician complaining about immigrants says they don’t support Australian values like free speech — for example Jews object to Holocaust deniers.

•Republican voter suppression works.

•Yet another pundit explains that Trump’s incoherent, false statements are more authentic than Clinton’s truthful ones.

•Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department has a new argument in favor of Trump’s travel ban — based on a case involving segregated swimming pools. Unsurprisingly, it’s the anti-integration argument Justice claims as precedent.

•A Tennessee law restricts all words in state laws to their natural and ordinary meaning. Which could mean that if two lesbians have a kid, only the one who gives birth is a legal parent.

•Firing FBI Director Comey for violating FBI policy (in announcing his investigation into Clinton’s emails) is kind of ironic: Comey’s guilty, but that’s obviously not what Trump cares about. The prevailing theory is that Trump’s trying to stop an investigation; an alternative suggestion is that Comey’s not happy he helped Trump win and Trump’s pissed about that. Unfortunately it’s unlikely any Repubs will raise a stink in contrast to Watergate, when people really did put principle ahead of party and career. Several Nixon officials actually resigned rather than go along with the cover-up. More thoughts along those lines from Echidne.

•A Democrat holds a town hall meeting … in a neighboring Republican district.

•Trump thinks health insurance should cost about $15 a month.

•Republicans keep supporting Trump because Republican voters support Trump.

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Assorted political venting, starting with Trump’s dictatorial fantasies.

Trump speaks the truth! The reason he hasn’t accomplished more is at least partly the Constitution and its checks and balances — the judicial power to block his deportations, the need for Congress to roll back Obamacare and to vote on a budget, etc. The trouble is, President Shit-Gibbon thinks that’s a bad thing, “It’s an archaic system … It’s really a bad thing for the country.”  No, it’s not. It’s what keeps the president — not just Trump, not just white supremacists, but any president — from riding roughshod over the rest of us.

And as I’ve discussed before, a lot of Republican voters are right there with Trump. They’d love a dictator as long as he had an R by his name; back during the W years, one of the things that drove Republicans to outrage was that liberals questioned Bush! Disagreed with him! Refused to support his policies! Which is exactly the same as wanting terrorist to rape American children! (I’m sure they’re fine with a woman who laughed at Jeff Sessions getting prosecuted for it And convicted).

Of course the same people turned around and spent the Obama years refusing to support his policies, cheering on Republicans whose over-riding goal (by their own words) was to make him a one-term president, celebrating Limbaugh for saying “I hope he fails.” And they apparently don’t see any contrast. After all, they still tell themselves they have the moral high ground.

And sexism invariably goes hand-in-hand with authoritarian conservatism. As witness Trump appointing a lying forced-birther to manage the DOH population-planning grants (and here’s another forced-birther appointment). Or a post by a neo-Nazi on publicly shaming women (who are too fat, dating across the color line, etc.) — which he assures readers will turn them on and make them beg to carry your children.

•Speaking of sex discrimination, a Texas court has ruled that even though a new mother’s employer harassed her about breastfeeding, that’s not sex discrimination because men can lactate.

•Chechen police are threatening parents with gay kids: kill your children or we’ll kill them for you.

•Ivanka Trump wants you to know she feels really, really bad about Trump’s “pussy-grabbing” speech. As noted at the link, it doesn’t seem to inspire her to do anything about Daddy’s loathsome ways.

•A new bill would not only end net neutrality, it would ban the FCC from ever doing it again.

•To end on an up note: we can still fight and win (Democrats scored several victories in the recent budget negotiations. No wonder Trump wants to be a dictator).

•Students at a college run by Laureate Education claim the company stripped the school’s assets, ensuring it’s closure, but kept enrolling students.

•Yes, the forced-birth movement does intend to prosecute women who get abortions. They’re already doing it. More here.

•Vox explains why hiring climate-change denialist Bret Stephens for the NYT editorial page gives added status to someone whose views don’t deserve it. And who conveniently fudges them to fit his new gig (instead of Climate Change is Bull it’s now Sure, It’s Probably Real, But Not Definitely) LGM explains why the NYT can’t claim free speech as a defense.

•Speaking of lying, Consumerist shreds Verizon’s arguments for why net neutrality is bad.

•Wells Fargo shareholders says the bank went and collected day laborers from convenience stores to pressure them into signing up for accounts — then adding more unwanted accounts without the workers’ consent.

•Remember how Flint pumped lead-tainted water to its citizens? Residents are being billed for it, even though they can’t drink it.

•Digby looks at how bad the health-care bill is (particularly for women). But the right-wing media is doing its best to keep Republicans thinking it’s awesome. And Health Secretary Tom Price’s strategy is similarly to lie like hell.

•Trump’s right that a good deal could have stopped the Civil War — but only by preserving slavery. I’m sure he’d have been down with that.

•Here’s a shocker, no outrage from the religious right at Bill O’Reilly’s alleged sexual harassment. Funny, when conservatives complain Christians are too wimpy to stand up for what’s right, they don’t mean standing against abuse.

•White paranoia about genocide.

•Monsanto may have ghost written a report finding its pesticide was safe.

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Never underestimate Republican determination to make people suffer. Or be shitbags

The House has passed a resolution replacing Obamacare with a worse program.

Among the lovely features are that insurers can charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions. There’s a pool of money set aside to help, but not enough. Oh, and large employers can choose which state’s rules for coverage (does employee insurance have to cover maternity benefits?) they follow, so if one state sets a really, really low bar, that could allow employers everywhere to adopt that standard. NC Rep. Robert Pittenger babbled about state’s rights before the vote (and if you don’t like the standards your state has, move!) but I’ll bet he ain’t complaining that the rule nullifies state’s rights (a state can set any requirements it wants. They won’t matter). And yet he’s a cut above Alabama Rep Mo Brooks, who says pre-existing conditions are people’s own fault, so why should healthy people subsidize them?

(Horrible sidepoint: women who suffer PTSD or STDs from rape sometimes lost their coverage because those things were pre-existing conditions. It could happen again.

And let’s not forget, Republicans had no intention of letting rules like higher prices for pre-existing conditions affect them — they had an exemption. Until they backed off after it was publicized and denied it ever happened. And as noted here, even Republicans who vote no are not off the hook for this.

More analysis and criticism of this moral disgrace.

The Republicans rushed this through so fast they don’t even have hard facts and figures. Which Sean Spicer has explained is because it’s just impossible to figure out what the effect will be until it passes. Um, no. Analysts did fine for the first version of the bill. Though I’m sure it’s way too hard for Spicer or President Shit-Gibbon to figure out.

I’m writing my senators and praying hard.

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But sometimes we get nice things anyway.

When Trump ran, he promised he’d overturn the ACA rules that made birth-control coverage mandatory and required religious employers either provide coverage or cooperate with a workaround (cooperate meaning they had to sign a form saying they wouldn’t cover it, so bring on the workaround). But surprisingly his administration is still defending the rule against lawsuits.

•Trump’s push to cut off funds to sanctuary cities (that refuse to participate in busting illegal immigrants who aren’t committing other crimes) gets blocked by a federal judge. Ironically using the same rationale that made the Medicaid expansion in the ACA non-mandatory (some details on the legal reasoning here).

•Another court says it’s time for Big Tobacco to stop fighting against stronger warning labels.

•A court says a restaurant shouldn’t have fired an employee for using his FB page for venting about his boss (including the MF bomb)

•As antibiotic resistance in bacteria grows more common, science is working on another kind of work-around — for example, using a DNA-destroying attack against various types of bacteria. Encouraging, but far from a done deal yet.

•And how about plastic-eating worms? Can they clean up the environment?

•Far-right French politican Marine Le Pen did not sweep the latest election.

•You may have heard a controversy over a Muslim comic-book artist referencing a Koran verse in his work that supposedly says don’t be friends with non-Muslims. At the link, G. Willow Wilson (of Ms. Marvel) rips that interpretation to pieces (and points out it’s usually treated as a guideline, not a mandate). And she links to a more detailed exegesis from an Islamic scholar.

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