Friday, August 31, 2012

Clue phone for Mitt Romney

"Many of you felt that way on Election Day four years ago. Hope and Change had a powerful appeal. But tonight I'd ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn't you feel that way now that he's President Obama? You know there's something wrong with the kind of job he's done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him."Mitt Romney

I can't speak for everyone who voted for Barack Obama in 2008. But when I did so, it wasn't to satisfy some leadership-transference fetish (which, really, a vote for John McCain would have also sated). I wanted change in the White House because of the dangerous and foolish direction in which George W. Bush and his lapdogs had taken us, not because Obama's PR team made "CHANGE" their buzzword. Now that things have changed, and mostly for the better, I have no reason to change again for its own sake. Especially since Romney's "change" would bring us right back to the failure that necessitated said change in the first place.

The GOP seems to have assumed three things since 2008:

1) Change appeals to people because it's a shiny, magic word;

2) Hillary Clinton voters will totally go for Sarah Palin because hey, she's a woman too;

3) Americans can't resist blackness at the polls.

You know what, Mitt? You can have every voter who went blue in 2008 because of dazzling words, biology and/or skin color. And here's a bouquet of flowers to hold in your other hand.

Most of us realized in 2008 that Obama wasn't going to fix everything overnight, or even in his first term. We knew he wouldn't be, as I so often put it, Dennis Kucinich in a vacuum. Obama electrified us, but it wasn't shock and awe that ruled our intellect in the end. Beneath the oratory and hope and change was an intelligent and pragmatic man, and ultimately that's what we voted for. And got.

By and large, we still like him a lot. At worst, we like him better than we like the GOP slate. Obama gives us someone to vote for, not something. And, Mitt, that's the point you and your party miss entirely.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Own it, Mitt...it's what you do best

Sometimes it’s obvious when someone writes something with a raging erection.

Kevin D. Williamson over at National Review has a new article, “Like A Boss,” in which he implores Mitt Romney to own his reputation as a rich man.

You want off-the-charts status? Check out the curriculum vitae of one Willard M. Romney: $200 million in the bank (and a hell of a lot more if he didn’t give so much away), apex alpha executive, CEO, chairman of the board, governor, bishop, boss of everything he’s ever touched.

It’s a ridiculous premise — after all, how is doubling down on one of Mitt’s most alienating qualities supposed to win over voters? Doesn’t he know the country is in a deep recession (if not depression) and that flaunting wealth hasn’t been cool for at least a decade? What on God’s ever-melting Earth should anyone in the bottom 99th percentile ever hope to see as presidential in Mitt Romney?

It’s when Williamson tries to answer that question that this article becomes a thing of unintentionally satiric beauty. See, Williamson doesn’t think with his head; he makes like Colbert and goes with his gut — or, more precisely, his other head.

It is a curious scientific fact (explained in evolutionary biology by the Trivers-Willard hypothesis — Willard, notice) that high-status animals tend to have more male offspring than female offspring, which holds true across many species, from red deer to mink to Homo sap. The offspring of rich families are statistically biased in favor of sons — the children of the general population are 51 percent male and 49 percent female, but the children of the Forbes billionaire list are 60 percent male. Have a gander at that Romney family picture: five sons, zero daughters. Romney has 18 grandchildren, and they exceed a 2:1 ratio of grandsons to granddaughters (13:5). When they go to church at their summer-vacation home, the Romney clan makes up a third of the congregation. He is basically a tribal chieftain.

Romney has five sons. And real men beget real men! RAWRRRR! Not like that queer Obama and his mere two children, who barely count anyway because they’re girls! Ha ha! What an impotent non-man! But surely Williamson wouldn’t say that out loud, would he?

Professor Obama? Two daughters. May as well give the guy a cardigan. And fallopian tubes.

I stand corrected.

The article really gets good when Williamson appeals to women’s needs and intellect and — oh hell, there’s no way I can possibly set this up:

From an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote. All of it. He should get Michelle Obama’s vote. You can insert your own Mormon polygamy joke here, but the ladies do tend to flock to successful executives and entrepreneurs.

By that logic, women should crumble into sulfur when I’m around. But they don’t. In fact, the only women I never get along with are the high-maintenance gold-diggers with zero personality who think a Bentley really can make an ugly man sexy. And I don’t think they’re as huge a voting bloc as Williamson presumes. Or a big part of the dating pool, fortunately. 

Saleh al-Rajhi, billionaire banker, left behind 61 children when he cashed out last year. We don’t do harems here, of course, but Romney is exactly the kind of guy who in another time and place would have the option of maintaining one. He’s a boss.

That Osama bin Laden was quite a boss himself, I hear.

Given that we are no longer roaming the veldt for the most part, money is a reasonable stand-in for social status.

If you’re a dick.

Romney’s net worth is more than that of the last eight U.S. presidents combined. He set up a trust for his grandkids and kicked in about seven times Barack Obama’s net worth, which at $11.8 million is not inconsiderable but probably less than Romney’s tax bill in a good year. If he hadn’t given away so much money to his church, charities, and grandkids, Mitt Romney would have more money than Jay-Z.

It is time for Mitt Romney to get in touch with his inner rich guy.

Yes, that’s his problem. If only he’d act like the wealthy scion he is, maybe then he wouldn’t be so out of touch with American humans. He wouldn’t have to shoehorn in references to “average” citizens that come off as awkward as right-wing writers’ references to black rappers who ironically support Barack Obama.

Some Occupy Wall Street types, believing it to be the height of wit, have begun to spell Romney’s name “Rmoney.”


But Romney can do better than that — put it in all caps: R-MONEY. Jay-Z can keep his puny little lowercase letters and the Maybach: R-MONEY doesn’t own a flashy car with rims, R-MONEY does billion-dollar deals with Keystone Automotive and Delphi. You want to make it rain? R-MONEY is going to make it storm, like biblical. Rappers boast about their fat stacks: R-MONEY’s fat stacks live in a beachfront house of their own in the Hamptons, and the bricks in that house are made from tightly bound hundred-dollar bills. You have a ton of money? R-MONEY has 200 metric tons of money if he decides to keep it in cash.

I see why Romney is the choice of people who judge the ability of someone to lead the free world by the physical prowess of their possessions. Bank accounts are for sissies — get a nine-car garage for those stacks! What good is money if the weight of it can’t literally crush someone to death?

Now Romney should quit pretending that he’s an ordinary schmo with ordinary schmo problems and start living a little larger. He should not be ashamed of being loaded; instead, he should have some fun with it. He will discover something that the Obama campaign has not quite figured out yet: Americans do not hate rich people. Americans love rich people. Americans will sit on their couches and watch billionaire Donald Trump fire people on television — for fun. Nobody hates Jay Leno for owning seven Aston Martins and 17 Lamborghinis ...

Yes, we have no problem with rich people ... who entertain us, or otherwise don’t aspire to elected office with the intent of enriching the richest at the considerable expense of everyone else, all the while projecting such detached airs that it isn’t clear that they’ve ever looked up the word “hardship,” much less experienced it. We like Donald Trump because he fires people on TV, where it’s safe; a President Trump would be a different matter entirely. President Obama is rich — though not by Williamson’s terms — and we like him. Probably because he cares about the middle class. Romney’s probably never heard the term.

Romney should try to find out whatever the hell happened to fellow gazillionaire William Weld, last seen nodding off in the lunchroom at McDermott Will & Emery, though by no means should he let it be known that he is seeking the advice of another moderate Republican ex-governor of Massachusetts. Weld has occasionally disastrous political judgment (he endorsed Romney in the 2008 primary but endorsed Barack Obama in the general) but he carried off the rich-guy thing with real panache. When it was suggested that his aristocratic background would prevent his understanding the problems of the common man, Weld retorted that his family “arrived in 1630 with only the shirts on their back . . . and 2,000 pounds of gold.” Romney, the millionaire executive/governor/presidential-candidate son of a millionaire executive/governor/presidential candidate, would be blessed to be as comfortable in his own pampered skin as Weld was.

Oh, that unforgettable William Weld. Wasn’t he a great president?

George Romney made his money by being a boss — a leader. Mitt Romney has been the same thing. When things went wrong, people put Romney in charge of them — at Bain, at the Olympics, at a hundred companies he helped turn around or restructure. Bain is a financial firm, but Romney wasn’t some Wall Street bank-monkey with a pitch book. He was the guy who fired you. He was a boss, like his dad, and like his sons probably will be.

And who’s more beloved than a boss? One whose father was a boss! And whose kids are riding his coattails to future bossdom themselves! Ask any worker on camera.

Obama made his money in part through political connections — no, I don’t think Michelle Obama was worth nearly 400 grand a year — and by authoring two celebrity memoirs, his sole innovation in life having been to write the memoir first and become a celebrity second. Can you imagine Barack Obama trying to pull off a hostile takeover without Rahm Emanuel holding his diapers up for him? Impossible.

Can’t you just smell the old-money contempt here? To hear Williamson tell it, not only is Romney’s vulture capitalism the only legitimate way to make money, but it’s also the best practice for running a country. And we peons should desire a president who would make us grovel. Why are we too stupid to see that? No wonder we're not rich!

Elections are not about public policy. They aren’t even about the economy. Elections are tribal, and tribes are — Occupy types, cover your delicate ears — ruthlessly hierarchical. Somebody has to be the top dog. ... Reassuring arch-patriarch — maybe one with enough sons and grandsons to form a pillaging band of marauders? Hillary Rodham Clinton told us that it takes a village, and Mitt Romney showed us how to populate a village with thriving offspring.

I’m thinking that maybe Republicans should run for president of the jungle, where their animalistic (and ironically Darwinist) tendencies would thrive. Leave civilization to the civilized.

Vote this lovely pillaging band of marauders for presidents!
Look at his fat stacks. Look at that mess of sons and grandchildren. Look at a picture of Ann Romney on her wedding day and that cocky smirk on his face. What exactly has Mitt Romney got to be insecure about? That he’s not as prodigious a patriarch as Ramses II or as rich as Lakshmi Mittal? I bet he sleeps at night and never worries about that. He has done everything right in life, and he should own it. And by own it, I mean put it on the black card and stow it in the G6 — or at least in first class, for Pete’s sake.

I suspect the only reason Williamson ended the article here was because he finally climaxed. Nevertheless, he’s given us all a succinct primer into exactly why no decent, compassionate human being should ever vote Mitt Romney for president.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dear Rep. Jeff Landry,

I’ve been following with great interest your correspondence with UL Lafayette President E. Joseph Savoie, urging him to rescind the university’s new LGBT studies minor.

It’s my hope that Savoie will heed your wise advice and avoid “placating to political pressures.” Not listening to you would be a good start.

For one thing, one does not placate to political pressures; one placates political pressures. Placating is a thing someone does, not something they do to someone else. Perhaps Savoie could bow to or even kowtow to political pressure, but that would just make you sound vicious.

Forgive the vocabulary lesson, but I couldn’t let it slide. Like you, I’m a graduate of UL, having received my communications degree there in 2002 and a master’s degree in English in 2005. I attended at the tail end of the Ray Authement eon, when the school enjoyed major physical and academic upgrades. Savoie is continuing that process and I applaud him for it. Whatever his personal feelings on the LGBT issue, he has decided that our school will keep pace with social progress. It’s a terrific step in a state not exactly known for its progressiveness — and rapidly gaining a national reputation for its hostility to public education.

You surely know all about that hostility, given that your remarks to Savoie exude it. You seem to think that the LGBT minor is something assembled at gunpoint for the express purpose of winning some political pissing match. You imply that “the future of our students and their economic prospects” is somehow threatened by the option (!) of taking courses that highlight the trials our LGBT friends face.

But the lesson that college most impressed on me was that exposure to a variety of viewpoints is absolutely essential to critical thinking. LGBT-centered classes aren’t going to turn students into gay welfare cases any more than listening to conservative poli-sci professors turned me into a Republican, or taking feminist courses made me a woman.

If only university courses had so much power! Imagine if all it took to eradicate bigotry, discrimination and parochial narrow-mindedness was a college minor. Man! Though opposing forces would just as quickly concoct programs to brainwash students right back, so it’s probably for the best. Still, I’ll invest in the value of education any day. It might not automatically change anyone’s beliefs, but it can teach them that love, understanding and friendship aren’t confined to one group, race or sexual orientation.

The weirdest part about your resistance is that the courses comprising the LGBT minor already exist within the UL curriculum; they’re simply being compiled for the sake of the minor. Theoretically, you could leaf through the UL course listings and tie together your own minor if you like — though good luck finding a series of courses that would compose an intolerance curriculum. You might have to dig into the state’s more extremist, voucher-vacuuming private schools for that.

While you’re searching for those courses, Rep. Landry, you also might want to audit one on irony. See, your anti-government and anti-education rhetoric might kill at a tea party rally, but you’re The Man now — an elected official in the U.S. House of Representatives, which is about as Big Government as big government gets. So don’t be surprised if Savoie resists your campaign of pressure; he’ll only be heeding your advice.

Geaux Cajuns!

Sincerely, Ian McGibboney
UL alum

(Cross-posted at Daily Kingfish)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A source of forced laughter

A bunch of my favorite pundits are laughing at the term "forcible rape," because Paul Ryan once used that term in a piece of legislation. The implication, of course, is that there is some type of rape that isn't by definition forcible — which is the indefensible position Republican leaders have been taking lately.

But the laughing seems disingenuous. Forcible rape is a real term. Redundant? Yes. But it's often used to differentiate it from statutory rape, which involves underage sex. Statutory rape can be forcible, of course, but in many cases the lack of consent derives from the inability of someone under 18 (or whatever age) to legally do so. In other words, sometimes the rape is an attack and sometimes a mutual coupling is just wrong. Does that excuse an illegal relationship? No, and fie on any adult who tries it — any act of sex with a consent deficit is rape. But it also allows the law to treat each offense differently. It's a technical legal thing, one that I first read about when I was 10 years old. 

Again, rape is rape; the GOP is stupid to insist that some rape cases aren't legitimate. But the liberal laughter over the term forcible rape also makes me cringe. The term exists, and did long before Paul Ryan ever uttered it. Perhaps it should be retired ... along with the undeserved partisan glee.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Spam de spam, wonderful spam...

Why yes, random spammer with a foreign celebrity's name, I am very interested in reading your comment written in the kind of broken English that I visualize in my head during REM sleep! I love reading extended treatises with no rhyme or reason randomly infused with keywords and links to global shop solutions, online gaming and other things that would sound douchey even if I was in the same universe as looking for those things. I work very hard writing my entries just so I can live for the thrill of having these nonsensical sex toy East Asian celebrity poll C!al!s comments show up 19 times in 20 minutes across three blogs that apparently satisfied whatever search criteria your dead, soulless fingers typed out in some futile pursuit that you call an occupation.

Fortunately, Blogger at least now has a central page where I can enjoy the pleasure of marking all of these comments as spam in real time as they trickle in like that thick spit you expectorate before a particularly forceful projectile vomit. There's no way for me to nip all of your comments in the bud, but that's a small consolation at least.

Oh, look, you're back! Looks like I'll have to go back to blocking your spam until Google gets off its ass and acts on the report request I sent to Google+. Since I started this paragraph, you've spammed me twice. You keep hitting the same three blogs with various text. But hey, karma's a bitch. Even if nothing else happens to you, you're still the kind of person (or bot programmer) who makes a living spamming obscure bloggers on old blogs in a vain attempt to get idiots to see whatever Z-grade site for which you're a shill.

Three more spams. That's 22 now in the last 41 minutes. This is turning into a live blog. 

OK, gotta go. I can't think of any snarky send-off that wouldn't generate erectile-dysfunction-related keywords for you. But you know what's in my heart.

I DON'T LIKE SPAM!!

Let's talk about rape some more


Here in God's country, the following conversation often happens:

"Want a Coke?"

"Sure."

"What kind?"

So I guess it makes sense that, as goes soda, so goes rape:

"What happened to you?"

"I just got raped!"

"What kind?"

"The kind where a man forced himself upon me against my will for sex."

"Oh, legit rape?"

"Yes!"

"Are you sure? You can't know yet if you're not pregnant."

"A man violated me. I'm traumatized and bleeding."

"Let's not jump to conclusions."

"Please take me to the hospital."

"Do you have insurance?"

"No. Can't afford it."

"Eh, it probably wouldn't cover this kind of rape anyway."

"Please!"

"OK, OK, get in the car."

"Hopefully we can get some DNA and lock up this asshole."

"You didn't have it coming, did you?"

"What?!! Of course not! Why would you even suggest that?"

"Look, I'm all for prosecuting legitimate rape, except in cases of rape or incest."

"Aren't you thinking of abortion?"

"Abortion is murder. There can be no exceptions to it."

"But rape has exceptions?"

"If you get pregnant as a result, then yes. Babies are a blessing."

"But I don't want a child! I'm not ready for the responsibility, nor am I psyched about staring at my rapist's genetics every day."

"I hope that was going through your mind during the rape so that your natural birth control kicked in. Because contraception would be immoral at this point."

"I'm not sure why I got in the car with you, Todd."

"Come on now. Think of all the Earth-changing people who were products of rape."

"Think of all the wingnut misogynists who should have been products of abortion."

"Take a chill pill. But not the Pill. How about a Coke?"

"Make my Coke a Dr. Pepper. He's a more qualified health expert than you."

"Don't make me turn this car around." 

"You've been driving in reverse the whole time."

"Sorry. Habit."

"Finally, we're here. Goodbye."

"Vote for me!"

"You had me at 'what kind.'"

Monday, August 20, 2012

The only thing more offensive than rape

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” 

— Todd Akin (R-MO), newly crowned campaign manager for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

Since yesterday, everyone's been piling on Akin for this statement. But come on; it's not as if something like this has never been said before. In 1988, Indiana head basketball coach Bobby Knight told Connie Chung, "I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it." But he was talking about a basketball game, you see. Knight was never one to say stupid things.

I also recall reading a few years ago about a TV meteorologist saying something to the same effect while making transition talk from a rape segment to the weather. It made Esquire's Dubious List that year. (Figures I'd pack that issue in a box the day before I needed it ... great timing, Akin!) Still others have argued that the juices don't flow during rape, a form of natural birth control I'll bet some church somewhere is looking into condoning.

For me, the worst thing about Akin's statement is that it reflects the ignorance of science and low regard toward women that currently define the Republican Party. Because first off, you CAN get pregnant from rape — more than 30,000 women do every year. Given how aggressively the GOP is pursuing voter fraud over a microscopic stat, you'd think they'd be requiring both photo IDs and references for every act of sex. But like with everything else that doesn't jibe with their alternate reality, this small city's worth of women just gets written off. Not just with questions over whether or not a woman was actually, forcibly raped —

(Side rant: I suspect that by saying "legitimate rape," Akin is referring to the old canard that militant feminists call any heterosexual sex rape, as a reserve weapon in their war on men. Which is as stupid as Whoopi Goldberg coining the term "rape rape." I realize that women have occasionally faked rape allegations (like the Duke lacrosse case), but it still seems awful to not give victims the benefit of the doubt.)

— But with a complete dismissal of biology and fact. Akin's is a viewpoint that could arise only from a fanatical anti-abortion — and anti-woman — stance, where no amount of verbal absurdity or corner-painting is off-limits.

To further drive home this point (as if he needed to), Akin followed up his now-infamous comment with this pearl of wisdom:

“But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Saddling a rape victim with the unwanted child of her rapist's stock? That'll show the rapist! 

She's culpable too, you know. She shouldn't have been asking for it with whatever she was wearing, or doing, or with her natural gift of beauty, or with whatever else she possessed that led a man to lose control and control her. I thought the GOP was all about victims' rights? Oh, that's for guns and revenge. My bad.

Ladies and gentlemen of Missouri, your choice this fall. 

Actually, Akin's not a choice. He's a child.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

When bureaucracy benefits Republicans

Tennessee's voter ID law is working exactly as planned:


At age 96, Dorothy Cooper is the new poster child for what's wrong with the state's photo ID voter law. A retired domestic worker living in Chattanooga, she never had any trouble voting even in the Jim Crow era and missed only one election in her entire adult life. But when she went for one of the state's new free photo IDs last month so she could keep voting, they turned her away. Why? Her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander, is on her birth certificate, and she didn't have her marriage license.

She's lucky to even have a birth certificate; many people that age don't. The photo-ID phenomenon is relatively recent in America, never mind the Real ID era. We aren't yet at a point when everyone has photo IDs, and probably won't be for a couple of generations, if ever.

This incident shows just how impossibly difficult an ID law will be to enforce properly. I'm not against concrete qualifications for an ID, but it shouldn't throw up multiple barriers to voting. As I've said before, if we aren't going to bring ID booths to people's houses (or at least blocks) and give them free IDs and document assistance, then we are disenfranchising voters. One is too many.

It's beginning to dawn on some Republicans that they might have overreached just a tad bit with this photo ID law. Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, is one of the main proponents, and even he is backpedaling. Yesterday, as liberal groups launched a petition drive against the law and the Senate held hearings into whether it's disenfranchising voters, Ketron introduced a bill to let anyone over the age of 60 vote by absentee ballot without a photo ID.

Good for Ketron, but this exception isn't enough; many younger people could still get denied. Anyway, isn't making exceptions undermining the stated point of the law, which is curbing poll fraud? Are older people immune to its temptation?

Ketron said he doesn't understand why anyone wouldn't want a photo ID. "They make you proud," he said.

You know what else makes people proud? EXERCISING THEIR RIGHTS. It's interesting to me how the same people who insist that Big Government is meddling with their right to bear arms are just fine with tying up voting rights in legalese. The mark of the beast they so vehemently decry when it comes to guns, money and other potential liabilities is just fine when it comes to voting. After all, they're just poor people, minorities, seniors, students and those who just happened to lose or be robbed of their wallet that day. In other words, probably Democrats. Who cares, right? If they were smart, they'd suck it up and get the ID. Except when they try and still can't get it.

Democracy in action, friends.

When journalism fails

So someone I know shared this masterpiece on Facebook:


News just released, a Marine Veteran, Brandon Raub who served in Iraq and Afghanistan was arrested by FBI and Secret Service agents around 7 p.m. on August 15, 2012 for what was considered by some, including his mother, patriotic Facebook postings.

According to his mother on a radio talk show hosted by Josh Tolley, she said, “He was handcuffed, was not read his rights … I want that to be heard very clear. He was not read his rights … he was handcuffed, put in the back seat in Chesterfield County, Virginia police department vehicle. And um, he was taken to ... directly to John Randall Psychiatric Hospital in Hopewell, Virginia and that is where he is right now.”

The article continues to focus on the arrest and what the Marine's mom says happened to him, stammers helpfully included. It concludes with this solid piece of reporting:

The nature of Brandon Raub being arrested has come to no surprise to many since President Obama took office. In 2009, Homeland Security Department intelligence assessment released a report on American terrorism and unfairly characterized military veterans as right-wing extremists and other groups that they view could be domestic terrorists.

The interview appears to be a transcript from a video included with the article, which features audio from the Josh Tolley Show. Tolley, by the way, describes himself on his website as both "truly independent" and "the lead in show for programs such as Michael Savage." The article was written by conservative writer Christopher Collins for the Examiner, a news site I frequently see recruiting just about anyone to write for it. 

So I'm not surprised that at no point during this exercise in outrage does anyone actually cite what Brandon Raub wrote on Facebook. Collins' article makes no citation (offering up an easily overlooked link instead), and while Tolley does ask Brandon's mom what he wrote, they run out of time before she can read any posts — and he ultimately takes her side anyway.

There's simply no excuse for not sharing what Raub wrote within the article. After all, the point these people are making is that he's been unfairly detained for exercising his freedom of speech. How dare this free country arrest a Marine for saying "patriotic" things?!! Proof positive that he's right about changes needing to occur!

Oh, right. See, we do know that Raub is seriously pissed at the government. His Facebook wall clearly shows that. For all we know thanks to incomplete reporting, some posts have since been excised. But even what's there as I type this makes me understand why he's a person of interest. Check out these screen captures:



Yeah, I think that might be construed as incendiary speech (and there's so much more of it). Anyone seeking examples of government oppression should probably look to someone who isn't specifically threatening the authorities and the government.

And non-professional journalists should remember to cite important facts, regardless of how it diminishes their predetermined ideological outrage.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Interactive teevee — Saints edition

They said my name wrong, and paraphrased my question, but they answered it. If only I caught what they said; I was too busy scrambling to take the picture.

She nearly won an unfair fight

Today, Brandon Scott Lavergne pleaded guilty to the murder of Mickey Shunick and Lisa Pate, thus ensuring a life sentence. Documents released today outline what transpired when Shunick died on May 19. According to KATC:

Those statements say Lavergne followed Shunick down St. Landry Street in his truck. He intentionally hit her bike and persuaded her into his vehicle. She was able to mace him, grab his knife, and stab him several times, giving him what were described as "life-threatening cuts." He grabbed the knife back and stabbed Shunick four times until she fell over. At this point, Lavergne thought she was dead. However, when Lavergne brought Shunick to a secluded cane field in Acadia Parish, she jumped up and regained control of knife. Shunick stabbed him in the chest. That's when Lavergne grabbed a semi-automatic handgun and shot Shunick in the head, killing her instantly.

Much respect to Mickey for putting up an admirable resistance, especially considering she'd been stabbed four times! She was a fighter. I'm convinced she would have survived if Lavergne hadn't pulled out his deadly deus ex machina. 

After the Aurora shooting, many people made the point that semiautomatic weapons bring a deadly force not present if knives, bats or similar weapons had been involved. This incident proves that too. 

Not everyone who carries a handgun is a killer. Not everyone who carries a handgun is a coward. 

But a semiautomatic handgun is a coward's weapon.

What an inexcusable abuse of the Second Amendment. What a tragic waste of a wonderful life.

Non-voting: A non-statement

John Cheese, one of Cracked’s pillars of comedy, has written a somewhat serious piece on why he won’t vote this time around. Turns out, all the collective catfighting on the InterFace has turned him off to politics. It’s all our fault.

Aw, isn’t that sad.

Cheese immediately makes his climb uphill by saying his interest in politics is just developing, and that he gets much of his knowledge from “various social networking sites and message boards.” That’s like trying to shop for fresh produce at Hardee’s. No wonder he’s jaded.

He claims the juvenile tone of Facebook discussions has resulted in a simplification of politics. As if every newspaper, TV network, campaign, think tank, watchdog group, etc. suddenly shut down and your only source for political news now comprises crudely constructed image macros that are slightly more intelligent versions of LOLcats.

The information people really need to know is out there. Campaigns disseminate it. News outlets break it down. Reasonable debates abound. And yes, people should eat their meat and potatoes; it’s true that most don’t get enough in their political diets. But Cheese is staring at the soft-serve machine wondering why everyone’s eating only ice cream. Turn around, man, and check out that bustling salad bar.

The Internet didn’t give birth to cartoons and satirical images. It didn’t make American campaigns akin to sporting events — Americans made campaigns akin to sporting events. Whether or not that’s a positive development is up for debate, but at least it gets people interested.

I have no problem with political images and memes. You may have noticed that I’ve made a few myself. The best ones are on par with political cartoons and can have the same effect. And throughout American history, some have been epic. Think Ben Franklin’s famously unjoined snake. Or the Boss Tweed cartoon depicting his head as a bag of money. (As the legend goes, Tweed said of that cartoon, “My constituents can’t read, but dammit, they can see pictures!”) Yes, the advent of the Internet has supersaturated us with way too many macros of varying quality and honesty — but it’s also likely spurred interest that wasn’t there before. That can’t be bad.

Same goes with political arguments. Yes, people can be ignorant on both sides. Yes, they can be pointlessly standoffish. Yes, they invite Jesus and Hitler to the party far too often. Yes, they vote against people as often as they vote for them. Yes, they ignore subtleties. But not voting won’t make that better. Anyone (like Cheese) who says this is trivializing the debate. Which, ironically, is they very thing they claim the others are doing.

There are two kinds of people who don’t vote: those who stay home out of ignorance or apathy, and those who see it as a bold and defiant statement. The first kind needs education and awareness. The second kind needs a reality check.

Think of it this way: if you’re not voting because you think you’ve figured it all out, aren’t you just guaranteeing one less informed vote? Since you’re so high on your horse, shouldn’t you want your voice counted as much as those you so adamantly decry?

George Carlin once said that he disagreed that “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” because if he didn’t vote, he had total license to complain about that which he didn’t encourage. Carlin was a professional gadfly (and one of my favorites, this aside), so it made sense for him. I suspect that many conscious non-voters also like to complain, but don’t want to feel responsible for fixing our problems. They want to be above it all — in other words, feel smart without actually having to move a muscle.

In reality, voting is the least a citizen can do to make their community better. “Oh, but voting doesn’t do anything. It’s a rigged game.” Oh yeah? Even with all the deep pockets, stacked decks and suppression efforts out there, it’s still a system of one man, one vote. Apathy isn’t the answer. You think the alleged riggers suffer from apathy? To quote Carlin again, “these are highly motivated people!” But they’re only as effective as we let them be.

They want people to feel powerless and hopeless. They want us complaining about the Internet, on the Internet. If we’re there, we’re not in the voting booth, mattering.

Don’t fall for it. Stand up and be counted.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The game of telephone

My friend Ginger alerted me to this great article I could have written myself:


I haven't been a fan of the phone since my teen years, when I gabbed away like a girl to teenage girls. Back then, though, that was the only form of telecommunication. Since the Internet and texting (and easy access to transportation for me) became things, however, I've found the telephone to be my least-favorite way to have extended conversations. I don't mind it at all for quick, informative conversations or as a way to converse with those in faraway places. But I've always been a complete single-tasker on the phone, which has actually gotten worse as I've gotten older — though nowadays I can pace energetically while on the horn as opposed to lying supine like a corpse on a slab. Progress!

Anyway, the article is a short and terrific read that I hope everyone who has ever called me because they're bored and/or immediately launched into an extended monologue before so much as identifying themselves or asking if I can talk will give a glance. And understand.

I'll hold.

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Rules

Rule #216-A: No man is a Cayman Island


If you’re unwilling to acknowledge the role of government in your life or business, DO NOT VOTE.

I seriously hate to say that; I’m in favor of as many people voting as possible. But I also think voters should feel some stake in the success of our government. They shouldn’t want to vote in anti-government zealots whose sole aim is to be incompetent officials and/or cede the public sector to the private.

Many businesses have recently put out defiant signs in the wake of President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” misunderstanding-slash-distortion. Such stunts not only ignore the context of Obama’s remark, but also display a staggering ignorance of the multiple perks these businesses enjoy that government makes possible. What a joke.

But as long as they’re going to cling to their own little mental island, then they should consider themselves within that jurisdiction. You know, since none of it matters. Let the rest of us be sheep over here.

Rule #216-B: Suppress the self-interest

Tax votes are for everybody. I’ve recently heard several conservatives say only property owners should vote on property taxes. Gee, I wonder how that would turn out? Tell you what: I’ll agree to that if only gays can vote on gay issues, environmentalists can vote on environmental issues and teachers can vote on education issues. What? Too selfish?

OK, then. Forget all that. Just let me know what you consider “property” once your group (of course it’ll be your people) decides on it. And then explain why property possession as a voting requirement will work this time around.

Rule #217: No tombstones at Papa John’s

I will GLADLY pay 10 cents more per pizza if it means employees get health benefits. Hell, I’ll pay more than that. For any item at all. Sounds like a bargain to me!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Interesting choice of pic there, Patriots

For...the...last...time...


This is A LIE. And an unbelievably brazen one at that.

Here's what happened: Ohio precincts allow both civilians and military voters a certain amount of time to vote early in person. The timetable varied by precinct, but most allowed both groups to vote all through the weekend and up until Monday before the election. When the state standardized the days, military members could continue to vote all the way through Monday, while civilians had only until Friday.

In other words, military members had three more days (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) to vote than civilians.

The Obama for America lawsuit seeks to restore the extra three days for civilians. It does not ask for any change for military voters. Somehow, though, this has become "OMG OBAMA HATEZ TEH TROOPS!"

If anyone deserves scorn over this, it's Ohio's Republican Gov. John Kasich, who reduced the number of days civilians could vote. Reducing citizens' ability to vote is what we're mad about, right?

**Crickets**

Fortunately, the group behind this image has been absolutely bombarded by Facebookers setting the record straight. Karma makes me smile sometimes.

Everyone deserves to party

I just published my first post at The Daily Kingfish. I hope it's all right.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

No empty pockets at the polls

In a climactic scene in Robocop 2, there's a tense exchange between the mayor of Detroit and the CEO of the corporation trying to take the city private. It goes something like this:

Mayor Kuzak: "What about democracy? No one elected you."
The Old Man: "Anyone can buy OCP stock and own a part of our city. What could be more democratic than that?" 
Mayor Kuzak: "Well, there's a lot of people who can't afford to buy your stock! And they won't let you get away with this!"
The Old Man: "You haven't been following the polls. Sit down."


Also, this happens.

The Old Man portrays the issue as one of choice and ownership in the face of a failing public system. He exudes confidence and has the media and public on his side. On the surface, his proposal sounds wonderful — but actually, it's terrible.

Rights should never be tied to money. But tell that to anyone who insists campaign donations are free speech. Or anyone who argues that voters must have government-issued, photo ID. It's no surprise that deep-pocketed Republicans advocate both positions; it's in their best interest to make sure the poorest Americans aren't enfranchised to oppose them. What good is being a Koch brother if some brother from the street can cancel out his vote? (That's a polite version of how they probably phrase that question.)

The thing is, that's what America is supposed to be about — one man, one vote. The right to vote is ingrained in the Constitution and related legislation. Granted, that right can be revoked — from felons.

Last I checked, not having a picture ID is not a felony. Give it a few years.

Believe it or not, plenty of people don't have valid picture IDs. I realize that seems crazy in this day and age, when you need one even to open a bank account. But — sit down, suburbanites — not everyone has a bank account (or opened one after 2001), just like not everyone owns a car or boards an airplane. This country has a significant underclass of people who ride the bus to work to earn a check they have to cash.

You know, poor people. The ones who allegedly live high sucking on the hog teat.

And let's not forget elderly people, many of whom are long past their driving days if they ever drove at all — and many of whom lack the proper documents to get a new ID now.

Most of these people probably have photo IDs. But not all of them. Does that make it harder for them to access some services? Yes. But as I've said before, that doesn't make them lesser citizens.

In most states, an ID card costs money. Even where it’s free, it requires a trip that itself costs money. DMV offices are nowhere near as ubiquitous as polling stations, and that presents a problem for many people. In my hometown, the closest DMV station is on a frontage road off the interstate (on the northern edge of the city), which is hard to find even in a car (and is a treacherous trek on foot). Unless we’re willing to put a free ID station on every block and go door-to-door taking IDs for people (many of whom may be too old to have all the required documents), then this amounts to a poll tax. A poll tax, you recall, was one of the main methods used to keep blacks from voting in the 20th century and is now illegal everywhere. 

The ID law is heavily pushed by Republicans, who would benefit from the drop in poor and minority voters. (Curiously, they resist requiring IDs to purchase firearms and otherwise object to government interference, at least when it doesn't suit their desires.) The GOP has also historically pushed for electronic voting, which are provided by GOP-leaning corporations and which critics say can and have been hacked.

So I remain convinced that the voter-ID push is a GOP attempt to disenfranchise Democrat-leaning voters by de facto poll taxes. Tying rights to money.

It doesn't matter if the disaffected bloc is a tiny sliver of people. If requiring ID to vote disenfranchises even one legitimate voter, then it violates the spirit of democracy.

Those pushing such measures are the ones who should pay the political price.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Loose lips sink libs

At this point, I’ve criticized Chick-fil-A and its apologists enough. But the idea of a “kiss-in” at the restaurant isn’t much better.

The way I see it, kiss-ins are pointless at best, damaging at worst.

Why? Because it gives the haters ammo without much of an upshot for gay activists. Anti-gay forces thrive on the falsehood that homosexuals are aggressive predators intent on shoving their preferences in everyone’s faces. That’s ridiculous, of course, but locking lips at a fast-food counter only reinforces that stereotype.

When blacks sat at segregated lunch counters in the 1960s, their message was, “we deserve equal service.” White people could freely dine at these places, but blacks couldn’t. Those sit-ins ultimately succeeded because they directly addressed the problem in a way no one could ignore.

Kissing at the counter, on the other hand, is a mere shock tactic. Advocates of kiss-ins claim that they should be able to show affection without shame. I agree. But it isn’t as if heterosexuals are making out with abandon in front of Chick-fil-A cashiers, and gays are fighting for that same right. Public displays of affection tend to be obnoxious anywhere, regardless of who’s doing it. (I’ve been obnoxious in enough public places to know this as well as anyone.) That obnoxiousness gains a whole extra layer of juvenility when said kissing is done specifically to annoy someone else.

If you disagree with me on this, at least make sure the intended target is the right person. Kiss in front of Dan Cathy if you must. (Though even that would be dumb, because all you’d be proving is that this issue is about sex, shock and sacrilege, which is what he thinks already.) For all you know, the flustered clerk in front of you agrees with your viewpoint. They might even be gay themselves. In any case, they’re likely just trying to do their job. It does no good to the cause to disrupt that.

Gay rights are supposed to be about love, acceptance and equality, not about adopting the worst dramatic tactics of teenagers. Lasting change won’t happen without changing minds, and minds won’t change if we don’t grow up.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Glenn Beck: America's living alarm clock

So apparently the "Third Great Awakening" happened the other day. I must have slept through it.

Watch it below. It's the best Great Awakening since the first, and makes up for the plot holes and diminishing returns of the sequel.



According to whoever writes Glenn Beck's press releases (and if it isn't Beck himself, someone has attachment issues), "It was something he had never done before, and something that most were probably not expecting." Yeah, awakenings tend to be like that.

"He brought out historical documents and artifacts, including an exact replica of the Liberty Bell from Philadelphia and the color study of Arnold Friberg’s 'Prayer at Valley Forge'.  And while it would be hard to top some of the amazing history that Glenn showcased during the event"

STOP. Just stop. Please, Glenn. Your shtick of climaxing American history with yourself as the Second Coming was only funny the first time. I know you're a history buff, so certainly you must realize that historical figures didn't go around bleating, "I'm George Washington and I'm the Father of This Country! I'm great and awesome!" and, "I'm Martin Luther King Jr. and I'm a totally historic guy who will join the ranks of the great peacemakers." No, they went out and did their thing, and let others decide their place in history. Also, they made the nation a better place. You're just an overly emotive and arrogant windbag who even Fox News thought was off his rocker. Fox News!! That's historic. Work with it.

I can't fault you for trying hard, Glenn. The tear-jerking music playing DURING YOUR SPEECH is an innovation that Dane Cook will no doubt steal from you as retribution for copying his entire act.

"If you want to raise money … with a bake sale, the government will stop you. 'Junk food!' 'Trans fats!' They’ll say. No bake sales! If you want to give food to soup kitchens … Don’t try to give them doughnuts … or salty snacks. You’ll be turned away. 'Unhealthy'… 'Not nutritious.'" Yes, in a free, Republican America, charities can offer all of the unnecessarily unhealthy food they want. Larded up with cholesterol-jacking trans fats, just like Jesus and Rush intended. Oh man, do Republicans ever love trans fats! No wonder you hate health care. (Incidentally, Glenn, your pronunciation of "trans fats" is one for the ages. It's the No. 1 reason I embedded your video.)

“This whole event is about you. We did this for you. It’s about what you watch on TV it’s about your music, movies and school. It’s about your America, the America we are building for you. Right now." — Glenn Beck, humblebrag servant to the dumb masses.

“The America we have today is what someone else created for us. We inherited America – this America – from our parents and grandparents. What we have, they built,” he said. Yeah, you didn't build that! Now you're trying to ride Obama's coattails too?!! What a switch-hitting fame whore.

"There are millions of you. Millions just like you." "But there's only one of me, Glenn Beck. I'm a historical icon like MLK and Honus Wagner! And let me finish this ode to selfless service by quoting a giant chunk of the Gettysburg Address. I want you all to remember the time, I, Glenn Beck, spoke these hallowed words! Can a historical figure get an amen?"

You can read the whole speech here, if you like pompous pseudo-poetry.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Chick-Fil-Bee

So today was the big Chick-Fil-A Civil Culture War. I wasn't on the front lines, but I provided armchair commentary on the onlines.

Living as I do in Louisiana, the arteries of my Facebook feed were predictably clogged with pictures of sweet, pickleicious chicken swag. After all, lots of people like Chick-Fil-A, and still more like to buy it as a spiteful gesture against the liberal elite. Others like to say how evil the company is, and even more are vociferous about how they don't care (oddly showing the most emotion in the process).

I couldn't wait for today, because I was curious to see how apologists for the chain would express themselves. Like with so many conservative issues today, this one's pretty hard to defend. After all, COO Dan Cathy explicitly expressed his resistance to civil rights for gays. And this is a company that puts its money where its mouth is — at least $5 million to groups that, among other things, call for gays to be deported. How would anyone make a show of support there today without coming off as a spiteful, hateful demagogue?

I shouldn't have worried. They found a way.


I found this image after some friends and cousins of mine each (and independently) made an admittedly good argument. They claimed that they were outraged over the fact that several U.S. cities were trying to ban the franchise over Cathy's words. I agreed that cities should allow a business as long as it meets zoning requirements and doesn't discriminate or otherwise operate unethically. Basing that decision on one statement from one person would set a dangerous precedent.

But I disagreed that this was a "free speech" issue as they claimed — after all, no one's right to speech has been suppressed, and no one is immune to consequences thereof. (Placement of businesses isn't exactly First Amendment stuff anyway.) I also had a hard time imagining that all those long lines of defiant diners got amped up over zoning issues thousands of miles away. 

More likely, it was defiance of what they saw as religious oppression. Given Christian conservatives' track record for crying persecution while persecuting, I'll go with that. 

I don't know if my friends cribbed the commerce argument from Mike Huckabee, but kudos to him for offering up a somewhat reasonable talking point. Even if it contradicts the Christian principles he cited when declaring Appreciation Day.

Appealing to both church and state? This Huckabee fella might have a future in politics!

Snap out of it, Ian

I blog a lot. Not as much as your top aggregators, but more than most bloggers. Ever since switching over to this template in October 2010 (where I can see the amount of posts for each month and year), I’ve made it a goal to knock out at least 20 posts per month. Not only have I met that goal every month since November 2010, it’s rarely even close. I hardly think about the number anymore, because I know I’ll have enough to say and the inclination to say it.

Another factor drives this as well: unemployment. I’ve worked only part-time since February, when I quit my full-time job. It was a foolish decision in many ways, but despite everything I still think it was the right choice; I was past the breaking point emotionally and even physically. I could have handled the past few months better, perhaps, but what’s done is done. I’ve gotten by.

This situation is not new to me by any stretch, unfortunately. Since obtaining my master’s degree in 2005, I’ve been unemployed three times. I can’t say it’s been because of bad luck — I quit my last two jobs without having anything else lined up. I regret one of those. But again, what’s done is done.

I try to stay busy, and feel like I do. I write and blog (not always related). I stay in touch with lots of people. I visit family and friends. I find movie gigs when I can. I’m far from a hermit or a bum.

But still, I’ve had this nagging guilt for months, as I always do in these situations. Nothing makes me happier in life than independence, the sense that I’m taking care of myself and carving out a slice of life that’s my very own. When I don’t have that, I feel like less of a person. And with my credentials, people are far less sympathetic (I agree, but that still doesn’t make my bills pay for themselves).

There are times, like now, when it really comes to a head. When every single dollar (and then some) is spoken for and the refrigerator is nearly empty. When there’s no compelling reason to get out of bed, except to grab my laptop so I can scoff at my Facebook and Twitter friends’ “problems.” When traveling anywhere is out of the question because I need to conserve every drop of gas I have. I could go swimming at my complex’s pool, but that just gives me time to think. I could take my bike around the neighborhood, but I’m honestly sick of this place. It’s not near anything exciting, and I’ve mainly traversed it only when I couldn’t go farther away — it’s become a symbol of struggle. Anyway, exercise is a bad idea because it’ll just make me hungrier; energy debt is an even bigger bitch than financial debt.

Job hunting doesn’t help. Seeing what’s out there diminishes the hope I have when I don’t do it. When I’m not scrolling career sites packed with clerical, temp and oil jobs, I can pretend the job picture is rosier than that. I tend to be overqualified for most of what’s available, even when I’d be happy to do it. Also not helping: people who straddle the line between well-intentioned advice and blithe criticism.

In times like this, I’ll lie in bed and feel like Chuck Noland in Cast Away on that raft — sunburnt, hungry, exhausted and out of ideas.

The walls — walls I doubt I’ll have much longer — are closing in. And there’s little I can presently do about it. And it’s pretty much entirely my fault. Yay.

I’ll probably regret posting this, but I’ve always been straight-up about how I feel. And I don’t turn that off just because I’ve had a rough couple of days. It’ll pass, as it always has. I just hope that anyone who has gone through this can identify with the feelings. And that those lucky enough to never experience this can sort of understand.

There, I feel better. Onward!