Category Archives: Politics

A thought for 2017

Once again, from a blog comment on this Slacktivist post:  “2016 sucked. The question is, ‘what are we going to do about it?’ Do we give in to despair, or do we act to make 2017 better? As a neo-Pagan who’s religious practice sometimes involves magic I suggest that everyone who has a paper 2016 calendar to burn it just before midnight. Then set off fireworks (if legal in your area) , bang on pots and pans, ring bells and do everything you can to *banish* this sick, horrible, pathetic fuck of a year. Then, work on making 2017 awesome. Make it a year of action and intent. Love yourself and the people around you. Take care of your body, cook and/or eat food that is good for you. Do things that feed your soul, whether that is crafts or gardening or books or video games or hiking. Love your self and the people around you. Give to charities, support the Patreons of the artists who’s work you love, give a handful of change to the homeless person on the street corner who might be Hermes or an angel or Lord Shiva in disguise, and is certainly a fellow human being. Love yourself and the people around you. Write or call your members of Congress. vote in every election, because it matters who is on the city council and the school board. Be patient in the check-out line. Be polite to the servers at restaurants, the baristas at your coffee shop, the clerks at the store. Shop local, and if you can’t shop local, try to spend your money in a local brick and mortar store. Love yourself and the people around you. Love fiercely and fearlessly and completely. Love like a lion protecting her cubs, love like a butch lesbian, circa 1956, walking down the street, arm in arm with her femme girlfriend, love like a femme lesbian, circa 2016, holding the hand of her butch wife as she lays dying in a hospital room, love like two friends arguing about which is the cooler droid: BB8 vs. K-2SO, love like a toddler tasting ice cream for the first time. Love yourself and the people around you. Mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

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Filed under Politics

Radicalizing white guys online (and other links)

We hear a lot about how Muslims are radicalized online, but a Vox article says the same is true of “alt right” radicalizing white guys for the white supremacist movement: lonely guys looking for bonding and support (e.g., “incels” or “involuntary celibates”) are introduced first to online misogyny, then into white supremacy. Though even if they stop at misogyny, that’s horrifying enough: just check out We Hunted the Mammoth, with its ongoing chronicle of rants from the online misogynist world, for example fantasies that when the economy collapses under Trump, it will be great for men, as it will restore patriarchy and force women back into their 1950s roles. A post from Atomic Junk Shop discusses some of the underlying frustrations that can push men that way.

•Trump’s election is radicalizing men in a different way: he’s proof they can get away with it. Check out the douchebag quoted in this Echidne post, who brags that after Trump’s election, he knows he can rape a woman and get away with it. You can find more examples in this list of harassment incidents (race, religion, gender, orientation) from the first ten days after the election. Trump, of course, assures us he’s completely shocked and has no idea why so many harassers are invoking his name.

•Amanda Robb argues that Robert Dear, the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter, was radicalized by the right, but because he’s white and Christian we don’t see it.

•Roy Edroso looks at the general idiocy of the right-wing post-election, including the ongoing claims that Trump won the popular vote. Oh, and there’s a batshit claim that the Central Park Five —whom Trump insists are guilty, despite DNA evidence — haven’t really been exonerated just because the system dropped the charges, vacated the sentences and set them free.

•Susan Faludi looks at how the racist far-right has presented itself in Hungary.

•So the mother of white supremacist Richard Spencer claims her real-estate business has tanked due to backlash over her son’s policies. One neo-Nazi website’s solution: take action against the Jews! Which is the sort of thing that encourages Jews in America to join forces with Muslims.

•The LA Times apologizes for printing letters defending the Japanese internment. (if you want some research on that topic, check here).

•In the US we face a fight over putting any women on our money. In Canada, the issue is not having more than one.

•Late astronaut and senator John Glenn was ahead of the curve in another way, supporting women of color at NASA.

•With no other way to reach her husband, a woman tries serving divorce papers on Facebook.

•Fake news sites make money through ads. Unfortunately it’s not so easy to shut down the money spigot.

•Human Rights Watch calls on Trump to show his claimed respect for women by supporting women’s rights.

•A driver in Arizona pulls over when his friend in another car is stopped by cops. Cops arrest the driver (who wasn’t stopped) for not showing them his license when asked. A court rules the driver was right, but an appeals court found for the cops, on the grounds they could reasonably assume they were entitled to see the license. Fortunately there’s no way any cop could abuse that kind of legal principle …

•Trump attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions is virulently anti-marijuana. Nevertheless, the legal pot industry is hoping he won’t bother them if they don’t annoy him.

•Echidne on why Trump ignoring the norms of politics is a bad thing.

•Joy. Continuing Trump’s preference for clueless inexperienced people, he’s picked Larry Kudlow as chief economic adviser. As Jonathan Chait details, Kudlow is a fanatical believer in tax cuts for the rich, whose predictions on the economy (Clinton’s tax hikes will ruin us! Bush’s tax cuts will boost the economy! The housing bubble is a myth!) are invariably wrong.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Insults in the real world (not exactly a guest-blog post, but …)

So recently right-wing hack Milo Yiannopoulos (of the doom of the sexbots theory) had a speaking engagement at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which included singling out a trans student by name and belittling her for not trying hard enough to pass. This generated some comments in a recent post on the Slacktivist (I don’t remember the specific post) which I thought were worth reprinting. Names removed, as I don’t know if they want to be quoted.

“I’ve been thinking about this since seeing and reading about Milo’s attack on the transgender student t’other day. He asked during his talk if they couldn’t cope with his insults how would they cope in the real world? And this kind of gives the game away about the objectives of the “alt-right”. For all its talk and self-praise about being dynamic and young and fresh and new, the core concept is not merely conservatism, which allows for change albeit very, very slowly, it is regression. This isn’t “the real world”- in the real world if you deliberately and repeatedly insult someone they will probably respond with insults or go somewhere that you’re not. They will not stay and allow you to subject them to those insults without at least trying to get you to stop.

What the “alt-right” is asking for, essentially, is for society to regress to a point where it was possible to pick out and pick on weaker members and bully and harass them as much as you liked with no consequences. They want to be able to turn the world into a school playground where the teacher is distracted, so they can pick on the weak without fear of consequences. He explained that what he was saying was “just a joke”, as always, and mocked the idea of “harmful words”. This is disingenuous. The man knows what an insult is, he writes them for a living. He is aware that insults exist. If there is no harm in them, then there should equally be no problem in ceasing to use them- they have become useless for the purpose they were created if they are incapable of wounding someone, so their requests that he stop saying them should be no more harmful than his saying them in the first place. Instead that’s an attack on his freedom of speech, a brutal attempt to suppress him, all the tyranny of all the world’s powers are turned against him when Twitter bans him etc.

If the insults are meant as insults, which they are, then he has to be aware that words are capable of harming people, because that’s the very purpose of an insult. This “it’s just a joke” argument is bullshit as a deflection, and the claim that you need to learn to deal with it because that’s “the real world” or “real life” is equally bullshit- it is not how the real world works, and even if it was surely the left is acknowledging that by trying to change it?”

“This is not how the real world operates. If anything, the real world is way, way, way, way the opposite. Try saying something even mildly offensive to a co-worker (let alone a superior or customer) and you will see how quickly you have a meeting with HR. They claim to be against safe spaces and for freedom of speech, but the reality is that the working world consists of nothing but safe spaces and the most anti-free speech areas.”

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Another new and column—

Equality is Awesome is live on And Magazine. I look at how desirable equality is, and why it’s actually a centrist, mainstream, moderate position. And why, even given that, some people can’t stand it.

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Filed under Politics

Stupid arguments I see on FB

And sometimes in the media:

1)It doesn’t matter that Russia may have hacked our election! We’ve interfered in lots of countries’ elections!

By that logic, if we were nuked it wouldn’t matter because after all, we’ve nuked other nations. Yes, it’s true we’ve put up authoritarian puppet governments and rigged elections in other countries, and that isn’t good—but the ideal should be “we don’t mess with theirs, they don’t mess with ours,” not a universal era of tampering.

2)Any variation of a geographic defense for Trump’s win: He won more counties than Clinton, which proves he really won the popular vote. Clinton wouldn’t have even won the popular vote without California so it doesn’t really count. The places where Real Americans live picked Trump.

I heard the same thing after Bush lost the popular vote in 2000. He won more of the country so that proves he appeals to more diverse people. Al Gore only won in big cities which are teaming with liberals and immigrants and not real Americans who are simple, plain-spoken folk living out in rural areas. But guess what, “popular vote” is not measured by geography, it’s measured by the number of voters. And the fact a lot of Clinton’s (or Gore’s) support came from a smaller geographical area doesn’t prove she’s less popular or that Trump’s support is more diverse. All it proves that relatively sparsely populated areas have outsized clout in the electoral college. Which, of course, Republicans are delighted with; it’s just that they still object that big cities and big states have outsized clout in the popular vote. In particular they object to the simple, obvious fact that the Republican candidate is massively unpopular, lost the popular vote and had a miserable electoral college showing.

Which is one reason to keep reminding them that it is so. Reality, as they say, has a liberal bias.

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Filed under Politics

Identity politics, retraining and more: political links

Blaming “identity politics” for Trump’s success is bullshit, FAIR says. Okay, white male identity politics was very important in Trump’s rise, but the critids are talking about everything else — it’s Democrats championing blacks, women, Latinos, Muslims that cost them the election, and not because the other side were bigots, it’s because identity politics is bad. Except the white kind; to paraphrase Ta-Nehisi Coates, white identity politics is always assumed to be justified.

A piece at the Guardian sums it up well (I may have linked to it before): blaming “political correctness” for Trump is like blaming Jim Crow on the civil rights movement. Identity politics and “PC” are about fighting back against people who deny those identities equal rights. Take wedding vendors (bakers, photographers) who don’t want to cater gay weddings, which the right wing holds up as the symbol of oppression in our times. Possibly some people are outraged by that who were fine with gay marriage and gay rights in general, but an awful lot of the anger comes from people (Ted Cruz, for instance) who didn’t think gay rights were acceptable to start with. As the FAIR piece points out, there’s no point in compromising because the goalposts are constantly moving. As blogger Roy Edroso once put it, gay-haters used to blame their attitudes on how offended they were by the leather boys and kinksters flocking to gay pride marches. But it turns out when two gays want to put on matching tuxedos or wedding dresses and pledge undying love, the gay haters don’t stop hating.

And the Niskanen Center says (long but worth the read) you can’t fight for liberty without identity politics. And The Guardian on the myth of Political Correctness as defined by the right.

•Right-wing Republican theocrat Franklin Graham (who thinks Target not separating toys by sex is terribly wrong) thinks people working in manufacturing and construction are right to resist retraining to become, say, computer programmers — there’s no pride in being a computer programmer. So it’s not surprising they appreciate Trump fighting for their jobs (okay, saying he’s fighting for their jobs). So as someone quipped, when minorities turn down jobs it’s because they’re lazy; when white people do it, it’s because they have pride, dammit!

That said, computer programming isn’t for everyone. As one blogger (I forget whom, alas) put it some years ago, if the only way for anyone to get a job was to retrain so that we could work in construction, that would be bad, even if retraining was free. Some people wouldn’t be physically up for it. Some people would hate it. Some just don’t have the right mix of skills or traits (trust me, any job that involves working off the ground would leave me too terrified to move). Same thing. Not everyone’s going to fit into computer programming. And besides, those are jobs that can be outsourced, or that companies can hire capable immigrant programmers for. So I don’t think it’s a cure. But arguing that there’s something sub-par about the jobs and that they’re just not as manly as Real Work? Give me a break, Mr. Graham).

•Several courts have ruled that police can’t force you to give them your phone passcode—but now one court has said, yes, they can.

•Trump wants to know the names of everyone in the Department of Energy working on climate change. The DoE declined.

•For years, Republicans freaked out about Obama being a secret Muslim and a foreigner despite a complete lack of evidence. Now that we have tentative evidence Russia tried to swing the election for Trump —hey, they don’t care! Some of them are, however, outraged that Kellogg’s is no longer advertising with Breitbart.com.

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Filed under economics, Politics

Newsflash: America is not the white homeland (new And column)

That’s the gist of my new column, about the white nationalist conviction that the United States belongs to white men more than any other group, and that the election was a mandate endorsing them.

While I didn’t get into it in the column, it’s worth noting that no matter how much Trump’s team lies and insists this was one of the greatest electoral victories ever, Trump lost by close to three million votes. His electoral college win was sixth largest of the last eight. He’s wildly unpopular. Doesn’t make him any less president, but we should remind him and his racist, sexist supporters at every opportunity that they do not have the will of the people. They want to believe they do, or they want us to believe they do. Don’t let them.

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Filed under Politics, Uncategorized