Category Archives: Politics

Still a wretched hive of scum and villainy

By letting Medicaid cost increases rise slower than the rate of medical inflation, the Senate version of Trumpcare/Ryancare/McConnellcare will eventually destroy Medicaid. But hey, that will set the stage for massive tax cuts on millionaires; as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are both millionaires (along with their cohort), we shouldn’t be surprised. Oh, and saying that the Republican bill will get people killed for lack of treatment is now hate speech — the kind that got Steve Scalise shot! Presumably totally different from when Republicans screeched about Obamacare death panels, just like the Obama-as-Julius Caesar production was totally different from the Trump Caesar.

•You probably know AG Jeff Sessions wants to go after marijuana, even in states where it’s legal. Turns out he also wants to prosecute medical marijuana because, drugs! We could face a massive increase in crime at some indeterminate time in the future! International drug rings! Plus he saw Reefer Madness once and it really scared him! Okay, I made up that last part, but seriously, what’s his glitch?

•And yet Frank Bruni is worried that Sessions reputation is being unfairly tarnished.

•Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants to delay rules on for-profit colleges that would make it harder to scam students: taking tuition (heavily backed by federal aid) and not giving them useful skills or education. Some state governments are doing their best to compensate for the lack of federal protection. Oh, DeVos also wants to put the head of a company that originates and refinances student loans in charge of the student aid office.

•Republicans in Congress are doing their best to weaken lots of other protections for consumers.

•As Lance Mannion points out, Republican moderates aren’t what most people consider moderates.

•General Robert E. Lee is held up as the face of the moderate, non-racist part of the Lost Cause. It’s not true.

•The Far Right in Europe is raising funds to interfere with rescue missions saving refugees from drowning on the trip to Europe.

•Trump’s lawyer is claiming that James Comey talking about his conversation with Trump violates executive privilege. It doesn’t.

•DC and Maryland are suing Trump for violating the anti-emoluments clause of the Constitution.

•Sam Brownback, Kansas governor and theocrat who thinks rape is God’s way to give women a baby, has run the state’s economy into the ground. They’ve finally had enough.

•The Russian hacks of our electoral system are looking much more horrifying.

•Speaking of hacks, President Shit Gibbon scoffed during the campaign that it was only the Democratic National Committee that got hacked because he was computer-savvy and told the RNC to prevent that. Apparently they didn’t listen.

•When modifying mortgages, Wells Fargo allegedly added years to the length of the mortgage without telling the homeowner. That led to lots more interest and fees for the bank.

•More right-wing freaking out about the Julius Caesar production that made Caesar look like Trump. Meanwhile, conservatives prove once again how they’re opposed to political violence. Case in point, Trump administration member William Bradford, who thinks legal scholars who aren’t anti-Islam enough are legitimate military targets.

•To end on a cheerful note, here’s New Zealander Taiki Waititi on how to help racism — you don’t have to be openly, horribly racist, just smile at other people’s racism and they’ll know you have their back! (yes, it’s satire. Good satire)

•David Brooks looks back at when Whitewater, rather than email servers, was the issue thrown at the Clintons. He gets the facts wrong (of course he does, he’s Brooks) so he can pretend it was much, much worse than the current Russia revelations.

•A Southern Baptist minister presents a proclamation calling on the Southern Baptist Convention to denounce racism and the alt-right. It ran into trouble.

*Are you a woman? Have you had more than one partner? Online incels (involuntary celibates) say you shouldn’t go to college.

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Suddenly Republicans are shocked about hateful speech

As you have doubtless heard James Hodgkinson made a terrorist attack on Republican House Whip Steven Scalise (though as Hodgkinson is a white man, nobody’s calling it terrorism). Which is horrible, wrong, and unacceptable.

Unfortunately it’s also leading to the inevitable “liberals must stop hatemongering” complaints from Republicans. Which pisses me off because they’ve been hatemongering since the Clinton years. And when they talk about political rhetoric getting overheated, they don’t mean themselves. A pastor who declared Obama to be acting like the Antichrist now thinks we need to tone down political demonization. Oh wait, he meant the mainstream media, universities and Hollywood should tone it down — he doesn’t say anything about hatemongers like himself or anyone else on the right (the three entities he cites are all “left” in the eyes of right wingers). Likewise a guy who criticized Kathy Griffin’s stunt with Donald Trump’s head has no problem saying we should put the head of London’s Muslim mayor on a pike.

Roy Edroso offers more examples and points out things like Trumpcare will get more people killed than any lone gunman (even though they’re lying through their teeth about it). Right-wing rocker Ted Nugent insists he’s cleaned up his rhetoric, but No More Mr. Nice Blog cries bullshit.

It’s fair to say people on the left should condemn Hodgkinson. But it’s important to remember the right wing doesn’t condemn violent rhetoric or talk of war against their political enemies. The only thing they condemn is when it’s directed at themselves. When they give forth with the same kind of talk, criticizing them is criticizing free speech! Just like long-time IRA supporter Rep. Peter King can turn around and condemn Muslim terrorists without any sense of hypocrisy. Likewise they’re outraged at businesses violating free-speech rights by firing people for stuff they say — provided they said something conservative.

Under George W. Bush, Republicans didn’t just shriek about violent rhetoric, they insisted that any rhetoric besides their own, any questioning of our Glorious Supreme Leader in a time of war was treason. It would embolden the enemy. The only duty of Americans was to obey! Liberals were a fifth column. Liberals wanted the terrorists to win. Liberals were objectively pro-terror. (Never mind that Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Anne Graham (Billy’s daughter) and Sen. James Inhofe all said America deserved 9/11 for being godless. Or that one Repub Party official thought another terrorist attack would be a good thing as we’d rally behind Republicans)

Then came Obama and everything Republicans insisted was Americans duty to sit down and obey suddenly changed. Calls for Revolution, hanging Obama in effigy, accusing him of leading a race war. Obama was divisive when he brought up race; Trump, by contrast? Not divisive at all, it seems. Just as they dumped on Obama for being inexperienced and therefore unfit to be president, but Trump’s lack of experience means we should cut him slack.

Oh, and it’s not alt.right fascists that leads to fascism, it’s liberal support for gay rights.

And have they forgotten the Pizzagate incident? Right wing conspiracy nuts claim there’s a child-abuse ring tied to Hilary Clinton, operating out of a pizza joint in DC. Someone shows up with a gun to investigate. I’m sure we’ll hear them denouncing that soon … any day …

Nevertheless, as Katha Pollitt points out, liberals are supposed to have empathy for struggling conservatives — nobody’s saying they should empathize with us too.

Hodgkinson was a murderer and arguably a terrorist. But Republicans who say they have a problem with violent terrorist rhetoric are lying through their teeth.

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Let’s link to sexism (and the fight against it)

LGM points out that some people support restricting abortion because they don’t like some of the reasons for getting one. But the trouble is, the regulations the forced-birthers promote affect all women, regardless of their motive. Case in point, Texas is poised to ban second-trimester abortions. And Trump’s judicial picks think abortion is like slavery.

•In the age of Trump, not insulting women = political correctness. And is therefore objectionable.

•”A competent woman losing a job to an incompetent man is not an anomalous Election Day surprise; it is Tuesday in America.” And the sexism continues with the declarations failed presidential candidates must disappear from public life.

•Classic comics covers redone with Wonder Woman. And the Mary Sue applauds the movie for its handling of Steve/Diana.

•Misogynists insist men shouldn’t like women because women are all ugly. And there only value is as vessels for men’s seed.

•Some students accepted to Harvard who posted inappropriate memes (sexual assault, yay! hanging Mexicans, cool!) to Facebook have had their acceptance letters revoked.

•Samantha Field attests that The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t a straw man — it’s what some conservatives want.

•One columnist argues that Bill Cosby is just a whipping boy for women who’ve been treated badly by men. And Cosby can’t possibly be a bad person because he was so nice on The Cosby ShowShe’s not the only one still defending Cosby.

•After a passenger accused an Uber driver of rape, a company executive got her medical records and showed them to colleagues.

•”Female is not a design flaw.” JK Rowling rips into a liberal man for calling UK leader Teresa May a whore. I’m in total agreement.

•Echidne of the Snakes looks at Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte’s fondness for rape jokes.

•Black Girl Nerds argues the point of Wonder Woman sparing Dr. Poison in Wonder Woman is that white women get a free pass.

•In the misogynist world, fat women have it so much easier than fat guys. But the good news is that with women’s rights having gone to such an extreme, the pendulum will soon swing back to raping women with impunity.

•Sen. Kamala Harris questioned Jeff Sessions during a Congressional hearing. According to Trump ex-lackey Jason Miller, Harris’ questioning was clearly hysterical.

•A TV televangelist (Jan Crouch) has been found guilty of covering up her granddaughter’s rape.

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Superheroes did not create Trump (#SFWApro)

So Bill Maher has a theory: superheroes created the Trump Presidency. ““Superhero movies imprint the mindset that we are not masters of our own destiny, and the best we can do is sit around and wait for Star-Lord and F*cking Raccoon to sweep in and save our sorry asses.” He continues on, “Forget hard work, government institutions, diplomacy, investment, we just need a hero to rise. And so, we put out the bat signal, for one man who could solve all of our problems, very quickly. And that’s how we got our latest superhero, Orange Sphincter.”

Which is not a new theory, except for the Trump parts. The idea that superhero movies inspire us to stand around waiting passively for rescue goes back at least 20 years. But it was bullshit then, it’s bullshit now.

No question, on 9/11 I fantasized about what it would be like if the JLA existed: Superman and Flash speeding people out of the Twin Towers, Martian Manhunter tracking other terrorists, Green Lantern supporting the towers until everyone was clear. But it was quite obvious in that situation there was nothing I could do.

But in general? I don’t fantasize about being saved by superheroes, I fantasize about being the superhero. That’s the appeal of the genre. They don’t teach us to sit passively, they inspire us to be better. It’s part of why I’ve written about politics since getting out of college — to try to make some small, positive impact on the world. To use my abilities, such as they are, for the greater good.

Or as my friend Jon Maki puts it in reference to Wonder Woman: “The “No Man’s Land” sequence was possibly the single greatest moment of super-heroism ever committed to film*. It was exactly what being a super-hero is about. Not just swooping in and saving the day single-handedly, but taking that first step that only a super-hero can and inspiring others to follow. It so perfectly encapsulates the allure of super-heroes, and their very reason for existing. No, in real life we don’t have super-powered badasses who can deflect bullets and blaze a trail for us, but the fictional and, admittedly, often ridiculous adventures of gaudily-dressed people with silly nicknames speak to that part of us that wants to do the right thing and they can inspire us to find a way to take that first perilous step.
They do the impossible to free us up to do what’s possible, and remind us that maybe, just maybe, those impossible things aren’t so impossible after all.”

*Spidey stopping the train – and the immediate aftermath of doing so – in “Spider-Man 2” ranks up there as well.

So there, Mr. Maher.

All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Trump isn’t a hatemonger, everyone else is a hatemonger!

So conservatives freaked out over Kathy Griffin’s comedy photo in which she’s holding Trump’s severed head. OMG, the left say they oppose violence, but they’re encouraging it!

Then a theater company does Julius Caesar with a very Trumplike Caesar, and we get another freakout: OMG, Caesar is stabbed, they’re advocating violence against the president! At the link some rightbloggers fantasize about how if it happens, finally nobody can complain about us taking out liberals in revenge.

And Eric Trump whines that he’s never in his life seen such hatred. He doesn’t think liberals are even people, they’re so evil.

First off, I agree Griffin crossed a line. Although trying to hold her up as proof of “the left” as if we’re all answerable — you know, the same way all Muslims have to apologize for whatever any Muslim extremist does — is ridiculous.

That said, the right wing is full of shit on this. As The Hill points out, burning and hanging Obama in effigy was standard during his term in office. Ted Nugent called for his death, and Hilary Clinton’s. Sarah Palin had a shitfit because people suggested including Gabby Giffords in her rifle-sight ad might have sparked the guy who shot her. When they call for violence or death, it’s free speech (like the Portland slasher). When anyone else does it, it’s an insurrection against our government! This is not a matter of free speech for them, it’s a matter of STFU and don’t criticize us! It’s the victim card with them. Always.

And not only was Obama subjected to way more hostility than Trump, but it was based on nothing (well besides his being black and a Democrat and having the temerity to win the White House when Republicans didn’t want him in it). That he wasn’t born in the US. That he was the secret stalking horse for the UN cabal. Or ISIS. Or George Soros, the International Jewish Banker. Or that he was raising a black army to terrorize white America.

Trump? The hostility he gets is based on things he and his party are doing. Like trying to take away health care from millions of Americans. To deny nursing home patients the opportunity to sue over mistreatment. Or turning Eric Trump’s charity for children’s cancer research into a cash cow for The Donald. Whether Russia attempted to tamper with election machines. That intelligence officials in his administration simply refuse to answer questions from Congress. Lies about the coal industry. Or his education department not acting on loan forgiveness for students ripped off by some for-profit colleges.

Because while he’s completely incompetent as an autocrat, Trump has shown everyone how easily a determined person can break the system. Though of course, the willingness of right-wingers and many politicians on both sides to turn a blind eye to W’s use of torture, arbitrary detention and bad arguments for war already demonstrated that. Much as Republicans have long been the party of scaring us.

But other than all that yes, Trump has been more persecuted and suffered more than any human being since Jesus.

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To piss off liberals

So during one argument on FB not long after the election, one of the Trump voters involved informed me with glee that he voted for Trump just because Trump winning would piss off liberals. And Trump won so Mission Accomplished!

Even before Trump’s election, I was aware of this strain of right-wing thought. But following Trump yanking the US out of the Paris Accord on climate change, several bloggers and pundits have pointed out how even more deep-rooted it’s become on the right — and that it’s almost their primary policy goal. Will the policy piss off liberals? Then it’s good! Will it undo something the evil Kenyan usurper accomplished? Ditto!

Paul Krugman, for example, says opposition to climate change is driven by sheer spite: “Don’t tell me that it’s about coal miners. Anyone who really cared about those miners would be crusading to protect their health, disability and pension benefits, and trying to provide alternative employment opportunities — not pretending that environmental irresponsibility will somehow bring back jobs lost to strip mining and mountaintop removal.”

In fairness, other policy motivators include a passion for an oligarchy where corporations are free of any restraint or regulation, can pollute wherever they will and rich people are free of all those onerous taxes while still getting government services. And Trump’s policy motivations include being a shit-gibbon who sees even terrorist attacks as proof of his own awesomeness.

In other news:

•Slacktivist mocks the idea that we shouldn’t worry about climate change because the end times will happen soon. Because it’s not like the people who claim this are ignoring the future in other aspects of life — not contributing to their 401k, telling their kids not to bother with school. It’s just on this issue.

•Given how bad the Trump administration continues to be, it’s not surprising the media get some flak for focusing on Clinton’s emails rather than Trump’s well, everything. So the response from reporter Chris Cillizza is that Russian interference and Comey’s warnings about Clinton investigations are just standard shit that happens. If Clinton had been a better candidate, she’d have gotten past them. Scott Lemieux’s response is that the media needs more flak, not less.

•On the plus side, some right-wing pundits are floundering as they try to figure out where to stand in the era of President Shit-Gibbon. And Breitbart’s page views and traffic have taken a hit, as it’s concentrating a lot of energy on defending Trump rather than lashing out at the opposition.

New Republic argues that Ivanka Trump’s pretense she’s a moderating voice in Trump’s world have collapsed.

•Remember the guys in Portland who got stabbed trying to protect a couple of Muslim women from harassment? A men’s rights activist draws what he thinks is the obvious conclusion: chivalry oppresses men. An Oregon Republican says the real threat is attacks on conservatives and he wants far-right groups to provide Republicans with security.

•Another white supremacist killing of a person of color. And here’s another right-wing plot.

•Kevin Williamson of National Review devoted a post-election column to explaining that poor people should just suck it up if life doesn’t turn out like you expect. He has a different standard for disappointed rich people.

•So last year a retired cop shot and killed a man in a movie theater, allegedly for texting. The cop’s defense: he was in fear for his life.

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Like sands through the hourglass … (#SFWApro)

I only rarely feel that “How did it get to be May already?” sense that a lot of people (TYG, for instance) express. Maybe because my writing keeps me mentally busy and includes lots of deadlines? It is a little remarkable to realize we’re almost halfway through the year, but it’s not like I don’t know where the time went.

Time on the weekend went to a fair amount of fun stuff including a time-intensive lasagna recipe (well worth it) and a trip to the North Carolina Museum of Art.

This is one of my favorite paintings there, though I don’t remember the name of the artist. All rights to image remain with current holder.

We’d hope to catch the Museum’s Ansel Adams exhibit, but we were a couple of weeks late. Still, I think I had more fun with the collection of Venetian paintings that’s there now as a special exhibit. Some striking stuff including a couple of Titian paintings — I hadn’t even realized he was Venetian.

And we got in an hour bike ride, which wasn’t as long as I wanted, but if not for the three-day weekend we wouldn’t have managed that much.

The work week went pretty well. Despite the four day week I got 6,000 words done on Southern Discomfort and I haven’t run into any fatal plot problems yet (as I worried last week). I submitted a new Screen Rant (17 Most WTF Alternate Versions of Wonder Woman) and proofed Atlas Shagged.

I finished the first draft of Undead Sexist Cliches — The Book, and gave it a quick reread, mostly to note any major points I’d missed or any places where I’d repeated myself (there were several). It’s only around 30,000 words — not a fatal problem if I self-publish, but I would like a little more material.

I’m also entertaining the possibility of writing another film reference book. I did a little research on the topic this week (I’ll detail it when things get further along) though not as much as I’d hoped. Due to a couple of early risings and the dogs only wanting short lunchtime walks, I wound up, despite taking Monday off, only about 1.5 hours short of my regular week’s hours.

I attended my writing group Tuesday, but despite plans did not go out with everyone afterwards. We switched from a place that was relatively close to the meeting, but had execrable service, to a better one that’s farther away. Which has been a problem for me because I’m so not a night owl, and the drive cuts into the amount of time I can spend. So if I’m feeling a little out of it for any reason it’s easy to say, naaah, not worth it. However I’m tired of that attitude, so I’m going. It’s in the goal list for June.

And here’s a Monet painting to wrap up with.

 

 

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