It’s the ignorance, Kenneth.

::sigh::

This graphic has been floating around the FaceTubes for a couple of weeks:

Can you not feel the panic rising? Is your amygdala not entertained? Dogs and cats living together, etc etc. I for one am the outrage.

Here are the lies and the complete miscomprehension of basic truths.  Pass it on.

(1) DEAR RIGHTWING AMYGDALA-BASED LIFEFORM: WE CAPITALIZE CONGRESS AND CONSTITUTION. We generally spell out numbers lower than twenty, too. Thank you.

(2) That’s right. They were VOTED INTO CONGRESS. By voters. That’s how it works.

(3) It always comes as shocking news to the amygdala-based lifeforms [ABL], but the Bible is a holy text for Muslims too. Just as Christians revere the Old Testament but consider it to have been “superseded” by the New Testament, Muslims consider both Testaments to have been “corrected” and “superseded” by the Q’uran.  In other words, just as an ABL would just as soon not swear on a Torah, Muslims would rather use their own holy text.

(4) As usual, the ABLs have constructed a fictitious universe in which THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH can only be TT,TWT,ANBTT if the swearer puts his LEFT HAND ON THE BIBLE. Anything else completely invalidates the oath, right? Sadly, no: several Christian sects will not swear oaths (mainly because Jesus tells you not to), and even if you look at Presidential inaugurations, Theodore Roosevelt did not use a Bible when taking the oath in 1901. Both John Quincy Adams and Franklin Pierce swore on a book of law, standing in for the Constitution. Lyndon B. Johnson used a Roman Catholic missal. No branch of government requires that anyone swear an oath on the Christian Bible, not even your podunk county courthouse. (The last few times I was on a jury, a Bible was not even offered to witnesses — they just raised their hand and swore — and that was some years ago here in Coweta County, GA.)

(5) Funny thing about “upholding our constitution [sic]”: Article 6, Clause 3 says, and I quote (in its entirety):

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Let’s repeat that last part for the hard-of-thinking: no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

That’s right, Kenneth, not only is swearing on a Bible not required, such a requirement is prohibited by the Constitution. Which all duly elected members of Congress — Muslims or not — swear to uphold.

(6) Oh, ABLs. Your palpable fear is ridiculous. I will refrain from commenting on the obvious, and that is if we’re being destroyed within our own country, it’s by the rampant corruption, cruelty, and fecklessness of the current administration and those whose amygdalas salivate like so many Pavlov’s dogs at the sound of Dear Leader’s voice.

(7) I’m not sure how much of a Trojan horse two members of Congress constitute. I mean, what are they going to do, charge the chair and just take over Congress? Start issuing fatwas from the well? Whip out their scimitars and force the other 536 congresscritters to convert to Islam on the spot (which, by the way, the Q’uran explicitly forbids, no matter what its practitioners have done in history and don’t even get me started about imperialistic Christian missionaries over the last 500 years).

The whole tsimiss reminds me of those who are shocked by people who wear shorts to church, or who put sugar on their rice, or who don’t put a salad fork on the table: they somehow think that the world they’ve always felt safe in is actually objective reality. No, sweetie, it’s just the way you’ve done it. Dragging religion into it just elevates the stakes, and Jonathan Swift blew that whole idiotic mindset out of the water in Gulliver’s Travels with his spiteful, petty Lilliput, where the two kingdoms go to war over which end of a boiled egg to crack open. He was referring to the religious wars of the 17th century between Protestants and Catholics, but he would smirkingly recognize the ignorant amgydala-based lifeform who created this graphic as a dyed-in-the-wool Lilliputian.

Christians, a word, if you don’t mind…

Disclaimer right up front: #NotAllChristiansBlahBlahBlah and #ButButButShariaLawBlahBlahBlah and #DontWantToHearIt

In I, Claudius, the emperor Caligula survives a near-death illness. Afterwards, some toady senator is sucking up to him and avers passionately that he had prayed to the gods to take his life instead of Caligula’s — and Caligula levelly says, “Well, why are you still here then? I’m alive, and it seems wrong to me that both of us should be.” The senator is forced to commit suicide.

Caligula takes a statement at face value and pursues it to its excruciatingly logical conclusion. Albert Camus wrote an entire play about Caligula around this very concept.

Idea  — > Action

So, this happened.

Here’s the deal: I’m sure you’re horrified (as you should be) and condemnatory (as you should be) of what this young man did. I’m sure you’re grateful he didn’t get to go through with it.

But are you horrified and condemnatory of why he did it?

Of course he’s mentally ill. But is the basis for his actions unfamiliar to you? Were you surprised to find that he thinks that gay people and non-Christian people are “other”?  What does your religious environment teach you about those people?

I mean, if he had planned to bomb his school because he thought people who liked broccoli deserved to die, you would have shaken your head and thought, perhaps, “That’s just weird.”  But gay people and non-Christians — let’s face it, his position on those people is not something you’ve never heard before, is it? I know you condemn his actions, but do you agree with his premises? Is it OK for him to think like that, just not follow through? Is that what your church professes?

Before you reach into your pocket for your “Hate the sin, love the sinner” shibboleth, don’t. You’re still drawing a circle around “those people,” and I’m pretty sure — having survived a Baptist upbringing — that you’ve been given explicit instructions about that.

Idea  — > Action

It’s as simple as that.

Thanks. Glad we could chat.

A modest proposal

Voter turnout in the world’s greatest democracy[1] is, for some reason, an issue.

I have a solution.

No,  we can’t pass a law making voting mandatory because no one does that.[2]

Instead, let’s work with what we have: overwhelming campaign ads/begs/emails/commercials. Rather than trying to get money out of our elections,[3] let’s leverage the disgust and frustration most of us feel every time a new email pings our box.

Here’s how: We establish — by law — a national database. When you vote, you’re given a unique code. Using the code, you log into the database and confirm your info: any and all email accounts,  phone numbers, cable tv service, anything we can think of where we don’t want to hear from politicians. You click the box, and presto! the politicians are instructed to block their campaigns from contacting you.

Think about it. If you vote early, then you get to opt out for the rest of the campaign.

Turn, turn, kick, turn — yes, IT WILL WORK!

edited to add: I’m thinking the politicians will actually be in favor of this; once we’re off the table they can focus their limited resources on the people who haven’t voted yet.  It’s a perfect feedback loop: we get left alone, while the politicians will ratchet up their pressure on the nonvoters to go vote. The more people who vote, the more pressure on the remaining nonvoters. TTKT—YIWW!

edited to add also too: The law should also state that voting begins as soon as the campaign does.

—  —  —  —  —

[1] The United States, in case you were wondering.

[2] Lots of people do that.

[3]  Lots of people do that, too.

They’re lying, of course

The Republican party has been hard at work for years protecting the sanctity of your right to vote. At least that’s what they claim with straight faces in front of the camera.

Here’s how you know they’re lying.

Republicans want you to believe that your vote is under attack from fraudulent voters, hundreds, thousands, nay millions! of them. They want you to believe that not only do people vote who have no right to do so,[1] but that the Democrats are deliberately letting those people[1] into the country to tip the electoral scales in their favor.

This is a lie, of course. There is not any evidence of voting fraud in any state in the U.S. that has affected any election. Here’s a round-up of voter fraud studies from the Brennan Center for Justice, none of which I expect you to go read. Here’s the pertinent quote:

The report reviewed elections that had been meticulously studied for voter fraud, and found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent. [Ed: That’s between 3 to 25 votes out of 10,000.] Given this tiny incident rate for voter impersonation fraud, it is more likely, the report noted, that an American “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.”

And if the data from multiple studies are not convincing, go look at the Heritage Foundation’s page on voter fraud. The Heritage Foundation is the conservative think tank that is source of much mischief in today’s politics, and — in an ironic twist, the source of key provisions in ObamaCare.[2]

See the number of PROVEN INSTANCES OF VOTER FRAUD, KENNETH? 1,165!!!!!1!! One thousand, one hundred and sixty-five FRAUDULENT VOTES! PROVEN!!!! Are you not concerned?

No, because you are a sane human being and recognize immediately that the number 1,165 is unaccompanied by any context. Is this in one election? Or is it across the country over a period of years out of hundreds of millions of votes? You can’t tell from their page, nor can you tell if you click on your state: all you get is a list of offenders without which elections they occurred in, nor what years. If you actually download the “report,” you get nothing more than a list of those 1,165 instances, separated out by state. There is no compilation or analysis of data, only dire warnings that this list is a “sampling” of the “many ways” voter fraud occurs.

In other words, complete and utter fuppery.

But let’s back up and pretend that the Republicans are genuinely concerned about voter fraud. Given that the amygdala-based lifeforms that make up the Republican Party need fear and anger to feed their brains, this is not an unreasonable assumption. However, this is not the case.  They’re lying.

Here’s how you know:

Example 1: Here in Georgia, leaving aside Sec. of State Kemp’s documented attempts to purge voters from the roles, we have the example of Randolph County, majority black population. A consultant hired by the county advised them to close seven out of nine[3] polling places in the county, based on the facts that some of them were underused and others were not ADA compliant.

Example 2: In North Dakota, the (Republican-controlled) legislature passed a “voter-identification law” that “requires that… IDs have street addresses printed on them and specifically bans using a P.O. Box.” And wouldn’t you know it, many Native Americans living on reservations do not have street addresses; they live so far out in the boonies that they have P.O. boxes instead. And in what is an amazing coincidence, Native Americans tend to vote Democratic.

Here’s a photo from our cross-country trip in 2013, taken in Monument Valley, which is not a national park but Navajo tribal land:

See those little white dots in the lower left? Those are trailers. Do they look as if they have street addresses?

So here’s the deal. Sometimes it occurs that after legislation is passed, the Law of Unintended Consequences kicks in and problems that the lawmakers didn’t foresee crawl to the surface. You would hope that we elected smarter people to handle this, but here we are.

If the Republicans’[4] true concern was legitimate voting, if they had passed that law in good faith, they would react with dismay at the unintended consequences and would quickly and publicly fix the problem. “Oh no, let’s hurry up and get those voting places up to ADA code,” or “Goodness, how could we have missed that? Let’s amend the law to exclude the street address requirement from Native American reservations!”

But they don’t. Indeed, they fight tooth and nail to preserve those unintended consequences.

Because — and follow this closely — these are not unintended consequences. The Republicans pass these laws specifically to exclude certain voters[5] from voting.

They’re lying if they say otherwise.

Go vote.

—  —  —  —  —

[1] BROWN PEOPLE, KENNETH!

[2] The individual mandate was the Heritage Foundation’s response to Hillary Clinton’s healthcare proposal back in the 90s. They weren’t about to let all those poor people get free healthcare, so they put in the individual mandate so that everyone would have “skin in the game” (and still allow the insurance companies to feed off our healthcare). After Mittens Romney instituted the plan in Massachusetts and it worked, Barack Obama adapted it for the Affordable Care Act. Suddenly the idea was anathema to the weasels at Heritage because freedumz. Odd, that.

[3] Seven of Nine? Really, Republicans?

[4] It. Is. Always. Republicans.

[5] BROWN PEOPLE, KENNETH!

A simple proposal

I voted yesterday. Normally I don’t do early voting, but this year’s election has driven saner men than I to desperation.

In all the contested races I voted for the Democrat because oh my god have you seen those other guys? But what to do when an incumbent Republican is running unopposed?

Here’s what I did: I clicked on WRITE-IN and wrote in NONE OF THE ABOVE.[1]  Easy.

Does it count? No. But imagine if everyone who didn’t want the unopposed candidate wrote in NONE OF THE ABOVE — how wondrous would it be if an unopposed candidate got fewer votes than NONE OF THE ABOVE?

It might even make the Democratic Party decide they could run on progressive issues and take seats from these fuppers.

—  —  —  —  —

[1] Full disclosure: there were several unopposed Republican incumbents for whom I voted because I know they are not crazy right-wingers. But I still wish I had had a progressive candidate to vote for.[2]

[2] And no, it’s not going to be me, so don’t ask.

Colonies — what are they good for?

This popped up on Twitter this morning:

Dinesh D’Souza is of course the right-wing commentator (also convicted felon) who gets his ass handed to him regularly on Twitter by People Who Actually Know Things, but this tweet of his just kind of jumped out at me. (Ocasio-Cortez is the far left congressional candidate in New York, and she’s awfully good at smacking down idiots.)

Ocasio-Cortez’s second comment kind of sums up my reaction to D’Souza, but there’s more to it, I think. His entire attitude — and not just in this tweet — is Ayn Randian to the max: there are weak and there are strong, and the strong are good, vital, and important. The weak are there only to serve the strong.

Look at his language: ‘colony,’ ‘provide resources,’ ‘rule.’  Holy crap, people, it’s unvarnished colonialism, and he means it as a good thing. Remember the TV series V? D’Souza would have sided with the aliens.

That is not a strained metaphor. He is stating pointblank that if our “colony”[1] has nothing more to provide us — and that is clearly his rhetorical presumption — we should abandon them to their fate now that we’ve stripped them of what we needed. They are of no benefit to us; therefore let them die and decrease the surplus population.

This is a worldview that I cannot understand.  This is a worldview that I cannot “reach out to” or “have a meaningful discussion with.”

This is a worldview that I want to see exterminated.

—  —  —  —  —

[1] They are not our colony and never were. They were Spain’s colony; they are our territory, and that quasi-legal status is a whole other issue.

A disgusting embarrassment

Holy crap.

There is so much wrong with this that I don’t quite know where to start.

1. Why would you give a “crazed, crying lowlife” a job at the White House? Especially one that you gave open access to the Oval Office? And paid more than anyone else (citation needed)?

2. You “guess it just didn’t work out”?? What kind of lame-ass statement is that? Is that how you hire everyone in the Current GOP Administration — just roll the dice and hope it “works out”?[1] Is this your vaunted “business experience”?[2]

3. Did you really mean “dog,” or did you not have enough tweet characters to type “bitch”? I can’t imagine it was reticence that stopped you.

4. That first sentence is a right mess. “When you…, …. I…” is just disordered, and I use the word deliberately.

5. And above all, this is the President of the United States issuing this statement. The person who stands for our country, whom we would like to imagine personifies the qualities of our nation that we value. This would be embarrassing enough if he were still a private business failure, but he is the President. Of. The. United. States.

What is to be done?

—  —  —  —  —

[1] viz., Anthony Scaramucci, Steve Bannon, Tom Price, Seb Gorka, Scott Pruitt, et al.

[2] Yes.

Dear Amygdala-Based Lifeforms…

So yesterday afternoon, the Current Disgrace tweeted this:

I am not going to get into all the LAW, ORDER [,] and JUSTICE that the Republican Administration is doing all over the place at the moment.[1] Rather, allow me to address the premise of the direct intravenous shot of fear and anger he’s giving his amygdala-based followers.

Seriously, if you are one of the amygdala-based lifeforms who follow this man, I need you to stop and think about this. This man is telling you that one of the two major political parties in this country has as their policy goals “anarchy, amnesty [,] and chaos.”  He wants you to believe that one of the two major political parties wants gang warfare,[2] and drug epidemics as their party platform.

And taking “jobs and benefits away from hardworking Americans”? What the hell is he talking about?[3]

Does any of that make any sense at all, if you stop to think about it? We will all pause to allow you to stop and think about it.

NO, IT DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL. Whatever the Democratic Party’s political goals are, they do not include destroying this country. THINK ABOUT IT.

Having given it some thought, the amgydala-based lifeform’s brain, in fear of being cut off from its oh-so-intoxicating hit of fear and anger, does a record scratch: “But… OKAY THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE BUT IT’S STILL TRUE!! MAGA!!!!!”

::sigh::

—  —  —  —  —

[1] But I will mention that a man who doesn’t use the Oxford comma is a moral monster who should be shunned in any case.

[2] Like in Honduras or El Salvador, which REFUGEES ARE FLEEING FROM TO OUR BORDERS, KENNETH? But let that pass.

[3] I have to assume that he is not talking about his own trade wars — soon to bring job losses near you — or his own party’s budget — which, since it’s ballooned the deficit to trillions, now needs to be “balanced” by cutting your Social Security benefits.

Happy Independence Day

(Originally published 7/4/14; republishing because it’s still true)

On this lovely July 4 morning, I know before I even go on Facebook that statuses will have appeared overnight like toadstools encouraging us all to be grateful to our armed forces.  I would like to respectfully decline.

It’s not that I’m not grateful for the men and women who—these days—volunteer for this most awful of jobs, but gratitude is not what the people who post these things are generally and actually suggesting.  They want us to worship our military strength.  I actually had someone tell me recently that I should “know my place” in regards to those (including him) who “fought and bled” for my freedoms. (Being the gentle soul that I am, I did not respond that my “place” was, as a civilian, the boss of him.)

So I would like to remind everyone that what we celebrate today is not our military victory that made this nation de facto independent. What we celebrate today is the IDEAS that made us the nation that we became.  We celebrate John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and Button Gwinnett, whose erudition and interest in political philosophy drew from sources both ancient and contemporary to formulate something the world had never seen before: a nation of principles.

Did we have to shed blood to attain and confirm those principles?  Indeed—we were fighting even as the document was drafted, edited, and ratified.  But we were not founded as a nation of war; the Constitution actually forbids a standing army.  We were founded as a nation of theory by men of thought.  And that is what I celebrate today.

What Ben Hill shows us

I don’t know if you’ve ever been on the internet, but if you have and you follow politics at all, then you have probably run into the bad faith argument which argues that nuh-uh Democrats are the real racists because Lincoln freed the slaves and the Democrats founded the KKK so there. I have blogged about it here.

One evening recently, having driven home around I-285, I found myself wondering exactly why we have a road in Atlanta and a county down south named “Ben Hill.”  Why the two names? For a millisecond I thought it was some weird fluke in history that we were honoring a Jewish or Arabic Georgian, but that thought dissolved immediately in derision. I was back to wondering who “Ben Hill” was.

Short answer: U.S. and C.S.A. senator, Benjamin Harvey Hill. Complicated fellow, but apparently well respected enough to have a county named after him 25 years after he died. (Still no answer as to why we use his whole name.  What’s wrong with plain old Hill County?  But I digress.)

Here’s the eye-opener, though: in the Wikipedia article on the county itself, there’s a chart of presidential elections and how the county voted.  Go have a look.

From 1912–1960, solid Democrat. Then, suddenly, in 1964, Republican. And in 1968, Independentand except for a couple of aberrations for Southern candidates, it’s been solid red ever since.

Is there any doubt about what happened? You might think that suddenly the population of Ben Hill County became concerned about their stock market investments and other typical Republican issues, but you might be A Idiot. (Have you ever been to Fitzgerald? I have; my mother was born there.) You could try to resist linking the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 to the switch, but 1968 gives it away: they voted for George Wallace, people.  Hmm.

So yes, once again, the Democratic Party was formerly the party of racist voters. A century ago. But Ben Hill County puts it right out there: those voters have switched their party allegiance, and it ain’t because they’re concerned about their stock portfolios.