1/28/2015

Gov. Bobby Jindal Is Going to Destroy Louisiana's Higher Education System Rather Than Raise Taxes

Noted Muslim hater and a man whose Adam's apple looks like a ferret is trying to escape his neck, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, is an ambitious politician. It's likely he is going to run for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party, a position whose reward will be to lose to Hillary Clinton in the general election. Because he is so ambitious, like an enthusiastic bichon frise attempting to fuck a Great Dane, he doesn't want to do anything to piss off Republican primary voters. Unfortunately for his state, that means not actually doing things that might make Louisiana less an exotic shithole only good for oil and the occasional New Orleans convention, like, say, by raising income taxes on the wealthy in order to prevent huge cuts to the state's colleges and universities, as well as its health care.

Yeah, you see, the state that lives by the price of a barrel of oil dies by the price of a barrel of oil. Says the state legislature's chief economist, "For every dollar the price of oil per barrel drops, Louisiana loses about $11 million in state revenue." So while the rest of us are giddy about paying below $2.00 for a gallon of gas and dicking over the climate some more, Louisiana is suffering mightily, with budget shortfall after budget shortfall. That means that higher education, already gutted since 2008 with over $600 million in cuts when the state was flush with oil cash, faces at least another $300 million in cuts in a single year, although it will probably be a great deal more. This will include one of the Jindal's own initiatives, the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund, which directed funding to schools in areas where there was a demand for workers.

In other words, Louisiana's colleges and universities are fucked. Hard. How hard? Foam finger? Rubber dildo? Try cold and spiky steel, motherfuckers. There's gonna be at least a $1.4 billion hole in the budget. For schools, that means "massive layoffs," according to Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy (wait, really? ok...). The cuts would "gut our universities and community colleges like a fish," he continued, colorfully.

The president of one University of Louisiana campus said, "Some institutions would have a hard time surviving; others would survive, but be greatly diminished." Republican State Senator Conrad Appel, who chairs the Education Committe, said that he is hopeful the cuts won't be that bad, but "It's probably impossible to think we could sustain education as we know it today." Louisiana State University's president said that "many of Louisiana’s colleges would be forced to declare 'financial exigency,' the equivalent of campus bankruptcy." At LSU's main campus, the cuts would mean the school "would have to stop the hiring of more than 100 new faculty members and lay off another 200." And the ripple effects on the economy of Baton Rouge and the state would make that unlubed steel spike seem like a pleasant nooner in comparison to what comes next.

This is not to mention the cuts to the Department of Health and Hospitals: "Health care services had been told they would have to absorb a $250 million hit, which could balloon to more than twice that size because Louisiana would no longer be able to put up the dollars required to attract certain types of federal funding." Yeah, that actually translates to around $700 million, and the people that will be hit hardest will, of course, be people on Medicaid.

Some legislators have proposed rolling back tax breaks for businesses. Of course, Jindal has said that no way, no how will he do anything that even has a whiff of eau de tax hike. Currently, Louisiana has one of the lower tax burdens on income and businesses. It does, however, have one of the highest sales tax rates in the nation, so it's totally cool to bleed the poors, the ones whose health care is about to be cut. But ask anyone else to step up? Oh, fuck that.

What is it with these governors who are breaking their states having such high profiles in the nation? Why would anyone vote for Chris Christie or Bobby Jindal when they have recklessly managed their own homes? If you were hiring someone at Burger King and you knew an applicant had burned down a McDonald's and given all the customers food poisoning, would you just say, "Oh, fuck it. I like his personality"? The only time we should be hearing about Jindal is how he's shut the fuck up about his principles and saved his state.

Fuckin' Jindal, though, is off giving speeches. He's in London, lecturing Muslims on how to act towards other Muslims and fantasizing about "no-go zones" in different cities. He's at a prayer rally, blathering about the need for a "spiritual revival" and how he became Christian because he saw a movie where Jesus was crucified (fuck that fucking book, man). After once saying that the Republicans shouldn't be "the stupid party," Jindal is counting on everyone else being completely dumb. And if they aren't already, he'll do what he can to make sure they are.

1/27/2015

Political Correctness Is Not What You Think It Is

The Rude Pundit is going to talk about Jonathan Chait's article on political correctness and speech in New York magazine. It is an alternately fascinating and frustrating piece, but you should totally read it before reading commentary on it because that's what you fucking do if you don't wanna seem dumb when talking about something. So go do that...Done? Yeah, it's kind of long and makes the same point repeatedly, but pretty interesting. No? Well, maybe this will be.

Let's get a couple of things out of the way here: The Rude Pundit believes that you are not allowed to go through this life without being offended, probably on a daily basis. Of course, this comes from a white male; of course, this is a type of mansplaining (a term that Chait finds useless, but that the Rude Pundit thinks is hilariously accurate). So what? Read the white guy if you want, even at risk of being offended. Or click over to something else. That's how much power we both have right now in this discursive space.

The Rude Pundit thinks the notion of microaggressions is bullshit. Most are either blatantly offensive, which means "micro" diminishes them and how seriously they need to be dealt with, or they are meaningless. (Yeah, yeah, whitesplaining/mansplaining.) He thinks speech codes are oppressive and that it is almost always wrong to fire someone for what they write or what they speak because the rules are so arbitrary and change from place to place. He thinks that the way to assure that hate continues is to attempt to silence hatred and drive it underground. He wants it out in the open, where everyone can confront it and deal with it.

It's how you deal with offense on a personal basis that counts. The Rude Pundit despises Rush Limbaugh and finds much of what the anthropomorphic white balloon says offensive, so he has never bought a Snapple product because Limbaugh was key to making the brand popular when it first started. He had beer bottles thrown at him by dudes yelling, "Faggot" in the parking lot of the gay bar in Louisiana where he'd go dancing. He walked past the assholes and had a great time because fuck those repressed shitheels. And, when someone he despised came to speak at his campus, he always went to listen rather than protest because he wanted to see the other side for himself. (Of course, not being a woman or non-white, the Rude Pundit doesn't want to presume how he would handle the accretion of slights, insults, and bullshit. But he's also talking about something bigger than individual reactions.)

However, here's what the Rude Pundit puts on every syllabus for every class he teaches: "As we will be dealing with contemporary literature and subject matter, some of the text selections will contain potentially offensive and disturbing language, imagery, and subjects. Additionally, class discussions will involve controversial topics, including religion and politics. Should you have a problem with this sort of material, you should find another class." He was doing this long, long before "trigger warnings" became a thing because, frankly, it was just easier to be up front than deal with an upset student later in the semester. Honestly, though, college is a place where you should be offended, where your beliefs should be challenged, where you should have to defend and strengthen your viewpoint or abandon it. But you should also be dealt with fairly by others, especially professors.

Chait locates much of the debate over political correctness on college campuses (although we don't really use the term "politically correct" much anymore). And while the Rude Pundit agrees that many of the examples he cites are frustrating and, perhaps, oppressive, often the whole story has a great deal more to it. For instance, Chait cites one case: "UCLA students staged a sit-in to protest microaggressions such as when a professor corrected a student’s decision to spell the word indigenous with an uppercase I — one example of many 'perceived grammatical choices that in actuality reflect ideologies.'" The problem there is that the 2013 protest was over more than just grammar. Rather, the grammar incident (on its own, sorry, bullshit) was a camel back-breaker for graduate students.

Chait also leaves out that much of the debate over political correctness comes straight out of the war over multiculturalism in college curricula, especially in the general education courses that all students take. The opening up of education to include learning about many, many more people of color and women seems today a no-brainer. But in the late 1980s, it was explosive. Here, the Rude Pundit was clearly and always on the side of the multiculturalists - and he's been in the thick of the debate. He remembers looking an elderly Shakespeare scholar in the eyes during a discussion over changing course requirements and saying, "No, students don't need to take a Shakespeare course" as the old professor's face turned several shades of frightening red. The notion that there was one and only one Eurocentric way to become an educated person is now seen as ridiculous and outdated by most in academia, and, indeed, by most people outside who think about this stuff (yes, of course, there is a conservative guard that keeps a flame lit to the Dead White Male canon).

Inside and outside the college campus, one reason why people dig in and call out every instance of potential offense is that it's a way to have some power in a time when power is being consolidated by fewer and fewer members of society. You might not be able to vote some sexist asshole out of office because you can't afford a Super PAC, but if, say, Todd Akin says something about "legitimate rape," you can make his life a living hell, for good reason. Speech in this way is an equalizer. Hashtag advocacy may seem facile, but its potency cannot be denied. And if you have carved out a space where your voice matters, like the classroom or a Facebook group (one of which Chait describes), then you are going to defend that, sometimes even to excess. The solution would be more power in general going to a more diverse and larger group of people, in our politics, our business, our lives.

And you cannot leave out that much of what Chait sees as the upsurge in political correctness policing on the left has been instigated by the overwhelming tide of blatant, horrific, and threatening misogyny, racism, and homophobia on the internet. If you are a woman online who routinely is told how she is going to be raped and gutted because she dared to say she didn't like a video game, then you might be a little more attuned to where such sentiments spring from in your daily life. You might retrench as a reaction to the attacks and call out the hatred, and sometimes that will tilt to excess by its very nature.

Speech is a tricky damn thing. It's a dangerous thing, too, as the Charlie Hebdo staff learned. What offends you may be perfectly innocuous to someone else. Who gets to win that? The Rude Pundit thinks word-policing is offensive. You might think certain words are offensive. If you think it's okay to ban a play on campus because it might offend, say, Native Americans (as in one case Chait cites), are you cool with banning a movie because it offends Christians (which is something the Rude Pundit was involved in fighting)? If you think someone should get away with ripping up a graphic anti-abortion sign she took out of the hands of a protester because it triggered something in her, then are you cool with someone tearing down your pro-choice sign because that person was triggered by past events? Chait limits the circular firing squad of speech to the left, but it goes across all lines. And it gets back to the Rude Pundit's first point: You cannot go through this life without being offended. He'll add: And through being offended, we often learn.

The point is that both get to keep speaking. It's when silencing happens that everyone loses. How do you know who the real assholes are if they just keep it to themselves?

(Note: There's a lot of shit the Rude Pundit didn't cover in here. There will probably be updates. The best outright rejoinder to Chait comes from Angus Johnson.)

1/26/2015

Blizzard Blogging: Sarah Palin Had to Be Totally High

As the Rude Pundit awaits the Snowpocalyptic Blizzkrieg (aka "Weather Channel Orgasm"), he figures this is the best time to approach some low-hanging fruit and just slap it right off the tree. Thankfully, such an easy target appeared like a bottle-brunette beacon when Sarah Palin spoke this past weekend at stupidly-named Iowa Freedom Summit. That sounds like an event where you get liberated from wheat or something, but it's actually a day of speeches by conservatives who want to suckle some teabags and get a blessing from nutzoid immigrant hater Rep. Steve King. Every 2016 loser from Donald Trump to Chris Christie gave a speech to the slavering white hordes who beg to be told their hatred and ignorance are virtues.

So, of course, the event climaxed with a speech from former Vice Presidential candidate and one-time demi-governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. And it was a beautiful thing because, while the speech was a barely coherent blurble of half-assed aphorisms and self-aggrandizement early on, it became something akin to a Klonopin-induced stream of consciousness ramble once her teleprompter stopped working. It was postmodern poetry at its most experimental, and, frankly, it wouldn't have been surprising if Palin had just stood there and cawed like a crow for ten minutes.

Check out some of this:

About posting a photo of her son, Trig, standing on their family dog: "These pictures, it was just scandalous that I would show our big, strapping Lab letting my little boy use her as a stepping stool to get to reach the kitchen sink. I took a picture and said, 'This is what turning a stumbling block into a stepping stone is about.' Who would have thought it would have become a scandal? They just went loco. They went absolutely crazy. This rest of the tinderbox of the world, everything that is going on in it, this was the most outrageous thing that had happened. Barking their tired old death threats against us. Get in line, weasels."

She went on (no, really, and at this point, Palin has gotten more mileage out of exploiting the photo than PETA, the Humane Society, and dog fetishists combined), "Yeah, they are howling to the press, 'Cruelty to animals, Sarah Palin.' Which surprised me, considering what it does, what Joni Ernst does to the those hogs. Not to mention what the President admitted doing to those innocent puppies...The media crucified us." She's like Jesus, that Sarah.

The speech was filled with self-pitying fuckery. Palin gets her picture taken at a gun show with a sign that says, "Fuck Michael Moore," but "we have taken a lot of heat over the last two days" for the image. Look, if you're gonna be a media whore, it shouldn't be surprising when someone says you'd suck Hannity's cock dry if it meant five more minutes of airtime.

But that was actually in the realm of understandable. Then shit got weird. Talking about the 2016 campaign, Palin babbled, "It is war. It is war for the future of our country, for the sovereignty and solvency of the United States of America. The other side, the far left, they see a need for change. It is by offering real change, again. Coronation, rinse, replay. Clinton, rinse, repeat. These leftists promoting these 'Ready for' campaigns. Ready for Hillary. Well, these hopey-changey DC businesses disguised as grassroots, don't you wonder what the White House thinks of them out there, prancing around, squealing they are ready for someone else? They have to admit it even."

You think that was nonsense? You think that was incomprehensible? Oh, wait. As the gears in her tiny, fucked-up mind started to break down, Palin's synapses misfired and she lost the ability to complete a thought. On the national debt (maybe? who can tell?), she rambled on, "From debt, when you are in a hole, you don't want to be in the first thing they stop digging. I don't know what is wrong with the leaders in this country who understand we are in a hole we don't want to be in and they keep digging. From debt to energy, proving the inherent links between American-made energy and prosperity, and energy insecurity to solutions like the tax that we need, to stop this unhealthy obsession that we are hearing about, even on our side of the aisle, the subjective income gap we are supposed to be obsessed with. We don't have to be obsessed with it." Seriously, was Palin high? 'Cause if she wasn't totally high and fucked up, then she has brain damage or her mind has been pickled by too much beer and bear meat.

The most hilarious part of this is that conservatives are saying that the speech wasn't "serious" and that watching it was "painful." Joe Scarborough called it a "tragedy" that she had fallen so far, apparently not understanding the difference between tragedy and comedy.

Really, motherfuckers? This was the speech that made you decide Palin was not going to be president one day? 'Cause, see, the rest of us knew she was a fraud and a puffed-up idiot, a wannabe player, and a power-mad gorgon from the start. We didn't need this babbling cartoon character, this monster with a gaping maw, gorging on fame and attention like a snake on a rat, to blither through one more parade of faux folksiness, like Hee-Haw was her Critique of Pure Reason.

If this is truly the nadir of her bottomed out career, the point where even the rubes turn on her (and don't be so sure, rubes being rubes), then her political tombstone should be filled with all the times she mocked President Obama for his use of a teleprompter, like he wasn't capable of off-the-cuff speaking. You could say she should apologize, but that presumes she feels shame.

1/23/2015

"I don't give a fuck it's your house": American Sniper's Failure

The Rude Pundit pushed aside as many preconceived notions as he could when he watched American Sniper, the Clint Eastwood-directed, Oscar-nominated film about Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL who  chalked up the most kills of any sniper in the military during the Iraq war. As you may know, the film has become a political battlefield between some on the left who see it as glorifying the Iraq engagement and those on the right who see it as a celebration of the innate good of the American soldier.

And even while viewing it, the Rude Pundit thought the film had been treated unfairly by many of its critics. Sure, it offers few sympathetic Iraqis, but no one faulted Saving Private Ryan for not spending time with the nice Germans. As for the racist remarks by Bradley Cooper's Kyle and the other soldiers, well, sorry, if you want polite talk about the ostensible enemy, you probably shouldn't watch a war film. Also, Eastwood and writer Jason Hall weren't really under an obligation to hew closely to Kyle's story. It ain't a documentary.

So, really, truly, the Rude Pundit is coming at this from as open-minded a position as possible. (Does he have to list all his family members who are or were in the military?) And he thinks this:

American Sniper is a film about stupid people who were brainwashed into doing something stupid and it justifies their stupidity so that the stupid people watching can feel good about themselves. See, the one thing you can't separate out from the film is history. It tries to elide over history, but just because it isn't mentioned doesn't mean it isn't there. Because of that, the overwhelming feeling the Rude Pundit had was pity, not pride.

After a set-up where Kyle is about to shoot a child in Iraq, we get what can best be described as a psycho killer origin story. Kyle learns to hunt at an early age, something his father tells him he's good at. The father fills his sons with nonsense about their place in the pecking order of the universe. This hypermasculine bullshit plays out, as it does in Texas, with Kyle becoming a rodeo rider who joins the Navy to become a SEAL after he sees the U.S. embassy attacks in 1998. That leads to his brainwashing during his training (apparently, SEALs have to constantly be wet). In short order, he meets a woman, Taya, the World Trade Center attack happens, he gets married, and then he's sent to Iraq. We get no sense that the invasion of Iraq happened 18 months after 9/11. Then, boom, we're in Iraq and the tedious pattern of the film is set: shooting people in Iraq, coming home to weepy, concerned wife, rinse, repeat for four tours.

Ultimately, the film fails not because it doesn't present the Iraqis in a more complex way, but because it banks on our credulity. It treats us like we're fucking idiots who are willing to forget anything about the truth behind the invasion of Iraq. It counts on our fucking idiocy in order to convey its simplistic message that American soldiers are awesome and everyone else needs to shut the fuck up.

So we get scenes of Americans going house to house to find insurgents. They break down doors and rush in, grabbing anyone they can. When one Iraqi man protests that they are in his house, Kyle says, "I don't give a fuck it's your house." Then they berate and threaten the man until he gives up the name of a specific enemy torturer, "the Butcher." (Seriously, names in this film are dunderheaded. One soldier is, swear to Christ, "Biggles," like a fuckin' cat.) That family, the only "good" Iraqis we see, ends up having the father and a son brutally murdered. In another scene, the soldiers barge into an apartment and, more or less, take a family hostage so they can use the apartment for surveillance on some "Hajis." Of course, it turns out the father is hiding weapons. Of course, he ends up dead.

Through it all, all the people he shoots (and, truly, Bradley Cooper seems like he's acting in a different, much deeper film), all the scenes of him watching fellows soldiers get killed and wounded, all the psychological damage he does to his poor wife when he calls her during firefights, Kyle maintains a pathetic belief in the good of his mission and in the protection of his "brothers." It has an effect on him - he suffers from PTSD - but the film wants us to believe that it was necessary. So, in the end, American Sniper is the story of a dumb man who wrecked himself for a worthless cause and about all the young men (and it is all, mostly white, men in it) who were sacrificed for nothing.

It's not the film that tells us it's nothing. We know it was for nothing. We know that one of the great crimes of the new century is the invasion of Iraq for absolutely no rational, demonstrable reason. We know that all those "savages," as Kyle calls the Iraqis, that we killed were for nothing. We know that all those Americans who died lost their lives for nothing. Our military was protecting us from nothing. Our freedoms weren't at risk from Iraq.

And the lie many soldiers from Iraq cling to and the lie we tell ourselves, and the lie that so many have worked so hard to maintain, is that as long as we don't discuss that it was for nothing, as long as we pretend that the fact that soldiers fought when they were told to fight and, mostly, did so nobly, we don't have to face the truly gut-wrenching reality of our national complicity in the crime.

American Sniper
exists, then, to play to that lie, to silence anyone who would point it out. Shit, once Kyle goes to war, the movie is so devoid of any rationale for being in Iraq that no one mentions Saddam Hussein or weapons of mass destruction. Even George W. Bush isn't mentioned. The film fails, too, because all it's really saying is that, if you put some soldiers somewhere and tell them to do something, they will defend each other and do the job. The fact that the leaders of their country betrayed them in the most elemental way possible never enters the equation. So all we're left with is killing Iraqis because Iraqis are trying to kill us, fuck if we care whose house it is.

At some points, the Rude Pundit wondered if Eastwood was trying to frame it this way, but, when the credits roll, after Kyle's murder at the hands of a disturbed vet, we are treated to scenes of the motorcade heading to his funeral, the streets lined with people with signs and American flags.  No, then. We're supposed to feel proud that men like Kyle defend us.  We should instead feel intensely angry that they died in vain.

1/22/2015

Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Down a Fistful of Ketamine with a Six-Pack of Flying Fish


Those arms sticking out of that car belong to Leroy Tutt, who had been pulled over on December 30, 2014, for a traffic stop by two police officers in Bridgeton, New Jersey. That's Officer Roger Worley whose gun seems to be going off.

He wasn't shooting at Tutt, though. He was shooting at Jerame Reid, a passenger in the car who, at that moment, was being shot by Officer Braheme Days. It's hard to see, but Reid had just told Days, who kept screaming at him to not reach for anything, not even a phone, or he'll be "fucking dead," that he was "getting out and getting on the ground."


Again, it's a bit blurry, but Reid was unarmed and was putting his hands up as Days opened fire, followed by Worley shooting, too. They killed Reid. Days had previously arrested Reid for drug possession last year, and Reid served a 13-year sentence for shooting at a state trooper when he was a teenager. So Days was more than likely keyed up and ready for a violent confrontation. Days does say that he found a gun in the glove compartment.

The lawyer for Reid's family has requested that the Cumberland County prosecutor's office recuse itself from the investigation and to give it over to the state attorney general's office or another entity. Considering the outcomes of probes in Ferguson and Staten Island, it's a logical request. Of course, that doesn't guarantee that anything will happen.

Meanwhile, the Bridgeton Police Department is upset that the dashboard cam tape has been released. It released a statement calling it, in an unintentionally ironic way, "unprofessional and uncompassionate" to the family.

On its own, you could make a case that Reid shouldn't have gotten out of the car - although what he could have done to calm down Days, who was kind of hysterical the entire time, is questionable. But in the context of the last year or so of high-profile shootings of unarmed black men, it's finally just more of a disgusting pattern of police paranoia combined with a disregard for certain human, yes, lives.

1/21/2015

The State of the Union Is "Shove Your Midterm Victory"

Prior to the release of the speech, you know that most Republicans were fantasizing about President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. They wanted him to hungrily gobble their cocks. They wanted that Negro on his knees, eagerly sucking off all the Republicans to show that he knows his place after the 2014 midterm elections. "He can even spit on my dick, if he wants," Lindsey Graham thought. How could Obama not acknowledge his masters after Democratic losses that wrested control of the Senate away from them? Unless he's the most arrogant, uppity sumbitch ever, it was obvious, they believed, that deep-throated hummers were required. Obama needed to ask them what they wanted. He needed to say that he'd do anything to please and pleasure them. Their flies were unzipped, pricks of many shapes and sizes, half-tumescent, ready for purchase in the President's mouth.

And then Obama sauntered out, slapped all the dicks like Moe with a bunch of Curlies, and told them to shove their fellatio dreams up their pathetic asses.

Look, almost nothing Obama proposed in his ambitious agenda is going to pass a Congress filled with more scoundrels, criminals, perverts, and rats than a pirate ship named "The Thieving Buggerer." Taxes aren't going to rise for the wealthy, even if it's through loophole-closing. Child care won't get funded. The minimum wage won't go up. And climate change? No. And Gitmo? Just forget it. For that matter, it doesn't matter that Obama didn't mention poverty, except in the most general sense. Because no matter what he proposed to help people in poverty, the Republican-controlled Congress was going to laugh in his face. And, let's be honest, a good many Democrats would be giggling, too. So the substance of the speech was fine, great, aspirational, and pretty damn safe.

What mattered was that Inspirational Barack made his triumphant reappearance, riding high on solid economic news and a health insurance program that is, so far, working as designed. This was exactly the opposite of the speech Republicans thought they deserved. They needed him chastened, ready to give in. Instead, they got the Obama who, in one of the great "No, you can blow me" moments in modern politics, after saying, "I have no more campaigns to run" to Republican cheers, could go off script to add, "I know because I won both of them." In that one moment, Obama told the truly arrogant motherfuckers, the Republicans who saunter around talking about their "mandate" when they ignored his, that he not only matters, but he wants to get shit done. Of course, they were upset because what else are they capable of doing?

And if the GOP won't do good, he will sure as shit stop them from doing bad. He threatened to veto bills twice: if there are Iran sanctions and if Congress tries to undo any of the accomplishments or executive orders he's made. "We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or re-fighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got to fix a broken system. And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, I will veto it." Obviously, Republicans spun this as Obama only wanting to veto everything.

Honestly, the most astonishing parts of the evening (other than babbling head of hair Joni Ernst oddly talking about how poor her family was because of Ronald Reagan) were the times when Republicans chose to sit on their hands and not join the cheering. Obama said, "[T]his Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work." Crickets chirped from the right because, what? They don't think women should get paid the same as men? And, most infuriating was the Republican quiet when he said, "Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year [as the Keystone XL pipeline], and make this country stronger for decades to come." During his next campaign, someone should run an ad with John Boehner sitting there still and silent when, in the district next to his in Ohio, a highway exit bridge collapsed just the day before. It's like Boehner is mired in the pile of shit that is conservative ideology, and it's hardened to where he couldn't move.

In the end, Obama was teeing things up for 2016. "Here's all this great shit we did," he proclaimed. "Now don't fuck it all up." He said that the nation has reached a baseline from which it can actually build and not just recover. Now, if, in 2016, Democrats run on the actual accomplishments and not the Republican fever fantasies of them, they can win. But Obama has to be careful. As the New York Times advised, "Resist his instinct to follow the false promise of compromise. Give-and-take is part of the legislative process, but trade-offs amounting to Republican legislative triumphs are unacceptable. Gridlock seems almost foreordained over the next two years. Mr. Obama should do nothing to confuse the voters as to where the responsibility lies." Maybe, just maybe, one or two GOP members thought about working with the President. And you can bet they were immediately threatened with a primary opponent.

Yes, Republicans were not happy that Obama didn't acknowledge their magnificent victory in 2014. Why should he? To be gracious? To be kind? Put it this way: Every time Obama has said he would work with Republicans, they have whined that he didn't work with them simply because he didn't adopt their position. You can't be gracious to motherfuckers. What you can do is what Obama did: Hold out your hand, but lead with your middle finger.

(Note: In the first paragraph, feel free to substitute "lollipop their clits" to include Republican women.)
(Note 2: Normal Obama caveats apply - drone murder is bad, unchecked surveillance is bad, etc.)

1/20/2015

People Need to Stand Up to the Extremists Within and Without

We all know that the problem is the radicals, the extremists, and that most of the faithful do not have those kinds of ideas, do not want confrontation, just simply want to live their lives peacefully. But it's the fundamentalists who screw things up for everyone else, especially those who are willing to use violent rhetoric, if not actual violence, to defend what they think are attacks on their beliefs. It doesn't matter how wrong the extremists are in their interpretation of those beliefs; that's the nature of the delusions and blindness of fanaticism.

The radicals refuse to even entertain the idea that there is a moderate path. They shun and condemn those who would oppose their extreme vision of their ideology. The fanatics seek to convert or purge anyone who strays from the strictures of their militancy. We see this happen time and again, on small scale and large. And, obviously, the extremists are manipulated by more powerful people who benefit from the chaos and fear the extremists spread.

Sure, sure, most of the faithful prefer to play a part in society at large. They want to be part of the mainstream, and they are willing to compromise aspects of their beliefs in order to assimilate. We who stand outside, who do not believe, know the solution to the extremism. It must come from within as well as from us. That majority must speak up and stand up to members who want to pervert the true meaning of their beliefs.

Until then, though, the National Rifle Association will continue to bully and threaten anyone who would challenge its absolutist dogma on gun laws.

For instance, how shocking was it that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would have allowed people with restraining orders on them the ability to buy guns. The NRA, of course, of course, supported the bill, saying that some people under restraining orders might not be involved in anything violent, like domestic abuse, and we wouldn't want to deny them the sweet, sweet protection of guns.

The gun "rights" extremists have so successfully transformed the identity of "gun owner" that, frankly, you can't talk to anyone who owns any kind of firearm without wondering if they're some kind of Second Amendment freak who thinks any minor regulations are just an attempt to strip them of the means of "defending" themselves. The truth of the matter, as we know, is that, by a wide majority, gun owners support simple restrictions, like universal background checks. Most gun owners just want to be left alone to do whatever kind of shooting they want or to have the fake comfort of a gun in the home. They don't want to march while carrying rifles, they don't want to confront politicians, and they're perfectly fine with gun control laws.

But the NRA, as a front for the gun industry (who really benefits from loose gun laws), will not have it. So the organization's leadership behaves as if any attempt to restrict must be destroyed and anyone who dares to criticize the sanctity of guns must be called out as a heretic or threat.

Perhaps Gov. Snyder's veto is the first step in some growing strength on the right to do what the majority of the nation wants. Snyder was actually endorsed by the NRA. See? Someone from the inside made an entirely rational move that is easily supported. Let's see how the NRA attempts to treat him as an apostate and cast him out.

This post began with a rather obvious analogy, between the way we talk about Islam and the way we talk about the NRA. You might say, "Well, isn't the goal to get rid of all guns?" Sure, and good luck with that. It ain't gonna happen. When someone says that "Islam is the problem," it solves exactly nothing. You're not gonna get rid of Islam or religion in general. Your argument is useless. Let's frame the discussion in useful ways.

That will take another post later this week.