Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yes, I'm for Dem Senators, but Joni Ernst, Seriously?


Needs a gun because government? Where have we heard that before?












Okay. Joni Ernst has a slim lead in the Iowa senator race to replace Democrat Tom Harkin. Maybe we should emphasize "slim." That's the only thing that can explain her recent actions.

First, let's take a trip to crazytown for just a minute. Here's Joni back in 2012:
Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa, said during an NRA event in 2012 that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government.

“I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,” Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa. “But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family – whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”
Of course, your next, first step is to get elected senator so you can, you know, join that government.

We remember Sharon Angle's "Second Amendment remedies," a comment that Ms. Angle rode from a lead against Harry Reid to oblivion in 2010. Maybe that's Joni's angle here.

That would be stupid, one would think, but I suspect the calculation -- most likely in parallel with Sharon Angle's -- is fire up the base! Consider them fired up.

But that doesn't explain why Joni is dodging the media, most especially the print press:
The cancelation was made public by The Des Moines Register's Rekha Basu, a columnist for the paper in a Facebook post [...]
Meeting with editorial boards of the newspapers most likely to endorse you (or not) has been de rigueur for quite a while now, so one has to wonder what she's dodging. People think they know:
Earlier in the week, the Des Moines Register, arguably Iowa's most prominent newspaper, called Ernst out on her support of a Personhood measure in a blistering editorial on Tuesday.
Specifically, the editorial criticizes Ernst for saying during the last U.S. Senate debate between her and Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), that a Personhood amendment to the state Constitution that she supported "is simply a statement that I support life."
"Ernst's assertion that a personhood amendment is "simply a statement that I support is naive," the editorial said. "Amending the Iowa Constitution is a big deal. And it's a rare event, having been done fewer than 50 times since the constitution was adopted. A proposed amendment needs to be approved by both the Iowa House and Senate in two consecutive general assemblies and then approved by voters in the next general election."
When asked about it, Ernst spokesperson, Gretchen Hamel, dealt directly with the issue by pointing over there and saying, "Oh! Look! A pony!"

Stay classy, Ms. Ernst. Go back to castrating hogs.


Who's squealing now, Joni?

Please Explain Again Why the GOP Doesn't Want You to Vote


The Overpass Light Brigade of Milwaukee goes right at the heart of it.

Daily Kos flags the new election strategy of the GOP (well, not so new): Don't let 'em vote, they're too stupid!

As usual, though, Media Matters does a good job of covering the myriad conservative attacks on voting. Not surprisingly, Fox News is leading the way with the "women are too dumb to vote" movement.

National Reviews' Kevin Williamson goes all in with his "Five Reasons You're Too Dumb to Vote" column, saying "Voting is the most shallow gesture of citizenship there is."

I didn't know that! Jeez, I could have avoided voting all these years if...

Bottom line about this is that it's only the Republicans and their Fox News shock troops pressing this attack on voting. It's as if first we try different tacks to keep you from voting and then tell you, hell, voting is not all it's cracked up to be, so if you're too dumb to vote, well, that's OK!

And this is the party of Our Founding Fathers, the Constitution rocks!, and, uh, Patriotism, and "They hate us for our freedom!"

Except, uh, don't vote. You're too stupid.

Oh, yeah, I forgot. The Constitution originally only gave the vote to white, male landowners. I see where this is going. The white males of the moneyed class want their jobs back.

Hey, Lena, you and your kind can go ahead and have sex if you want. Just don't vote.

And these people think there's no war on women (and the young, and blacks, and Hispanics)?



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Noah Smith Risks the Wrath of #GamerGate So I Don't Have To


Dudes, if you're looking for the ladies, you might not find them here...

I've always admired Noah Smith, up-and-coming econ blogger, who's worth taking seriously, even when he's not being serious.

In the post herein linked, he might be more serious than at first blush. He's on to something when he analyzes Omega, Beta, and Alpha males and the relative proclivity toward violence and aggression in general. Read his piece. It's somewhat important. Here's a taste:
It seems to me that a big problem in the world consists of angry young men doing aggressive things. One example of this is terrorism. Another is online intimidation and harassment of women, like we've seen with #GamerGate. Another is random outbursts of violent crime. I don't know why young men are so much more prone to aggression than other groups - most people just wave their hands and say "testosterone", while I tend to just shrug and say "whatever". But anyway, it's a fact, and pretty much everyone knows it.

One thing I have sort of noticed, however - and here we leave the realm of well-established fact and enter the realm of Noah Talking Out of His Digestive Tract - is that when young men feel like they can't get sex, they tend to feel angry and resentful toward the world. Actually, I've noticed that women, when they feel like they can't get sex, also seem to feel unhappy and grumpy. But since young men tend to be more aggressive than their female counterparts (see previous paragraph), the frustration that comes from feeling like one isn't able to get sex seems often to translate into aggression in men, but far more rarely in women.
Now, just to offer a little insight into what he has to say, let me say I've watched the mechanics of this for a good portion of my life. I've known some Alpha males, and I'm not one of them. In my active days as a musician, I was (mostly) a bass player. Bass players are usually Beta males, if only because lead guitars and lead singers hog all the Alpha space. But for me that was okay.

I quickly realized that Beta was just fine. I didn't even have to try. I had all the Beta females to work with because what choice did they have? (Me, and my Beta bandmates.) All the Alpha females were busy pursuing the Alpha males, which was okay by me.

We tend to think the Alphas are the best, but I never bought that, just like I never bought that being rich was all that big of a deal. Out in the working world, where you had to earn your happiness in the rough-and-tumble, now there's a life full of richness and rigor. I'd rather drink in a working class bar that the Top of the Mark.

While the Alphas were doing the Big Alpha Mating Dance, I was finding all the cool, relaxed ladies, and they were a blast. No drama, no problem. My Alpha friends had a corner on Drama, boy did they. If they didn't have any Drama, they whipped it up but quick, because, hey, they were Alphas. Sparks had to fly!

As for the problem with Omegas -- those for whom none of this feels natural -- I agree with Noah. Chill, stop thinking there's no one or nothing out there for you. Life is everywhere. Omegas are just Betas with a fear factor, or something.

And, like Noah, I'm no expert. But that's how it went for me, most of my life, and I've been happy, whatever that is. No, I know what that is. It's feeling alive, and knowing it, and accepting it. Opportunity is everywhere! (Please don't mistake my statement to be tacit approval of conservatives' notion that there's an equality of opportunity. There isn't, but I'm not talking economic cul-de-sacs here.)

That's what's missing in many Muslim countries, and it leads to angry young men. Let the ladies out, dudes! Let them be equal, and they'll hang with you but quick. Yes, that's an over-simplification, but apt, nonetheless. Not knocking Islam, but... Okay, I'm knocking Islam. It's got a big problem with the Love Thing. And that's just not okay, and where does it get you?

The other side of the Omega conundrum: Would Arab men be so angry if they
could score girl friends? Probably not... (Where are the women in this picture?)

Note. Reading the comments on Noah's post, it occurs to me that there isn't an easy consensus on this topic, you know, who has sex and why. For us to say, hey, relax, there's someone out there for everyone, well, just because we believe it may not make it so. The stars of Sleepless in Seattle were Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, for chrissake.

No, it's possible that a certain number of Omega men are going to be unsuccessful and hecka pissed. Maybe they'll be trouble all our days. Wish it weren't so. Of course, are the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries cool because more people are getting laid? Maybe. Hmm...

Chris Christie Gives Up the Game on Voter ID


Chris Christie: We tried lying, let's try telling the truth. If no one carps, it's all good.

Ed Kilgore of Political Animal tags NJ Gov. Chris Christie and his tongue slip. Or was it one? You judge:
When I said yesterday that the right to vote was increasingly being treated as a partisan political game, I had no way to know that a very prominent Republican politician would supply an instant illustration, per a report from the Bergen Record:
Governor Christie pushed further into the contentious debate over voting rights than ever before, saying Tuesday that Republicans need to win gubernatorial races this year so that they’re the ones controlling “voting mechanisms” going into the next presidential election….
Read the rest for true cringe inducement. We're getting into I-didn't-think-I'd-live-this-long-to-see-this territory. Yuk.

...adding that I grew up in an era when I thought Richard Nixon was a creep and Lyndon Johnson was a great man. Neither was categorically true. I'd take either of them now, for Pete's sake.

How to Support Multiculturalism in Developing Countries

The answer, apparently, is you don't, or can't.

Dudes in Pakistan: Our allies in the war on terrorism? Maybe not these guys.

Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast gets the right message from the Ben Affleck-Bill Maher face-off on Real Time. Can we in the developed world, where there is an infrastructure for multicultural acceptance and tolerance, support the view that other cultures have a right to their particular cultural views? Theoretically, but, er...

Affleck might think that we need to respect Islam as a world religion in order to be "liberal," but when Islam is used to suppress freedoms the West takes for granted, how "liberal" is he being? Whose human rights are we furthering when we grant developing nations the right to be seriously fucked up in the name of multiculturalism?

Interesting stuff. Foundational, even.

Note. Humanists like me have serious trouble with Christians who distort Christ's message. Sure, in Christ's day, women had extremely limited rights, but a reading of the Sermon on the Mount, for example, as well as other passages in the New Testament make it clear Christ was departing from the views of the Palestine in which he was formed. Now, American Christians hold "Christian" views that suppress women, oppress them, actually. How are these Christians superior to Muslims in much of the developing world?

Supporting multiculturalism doesn't excuse oppressive Christians in the West, nor does it offer shelter for Muslims whose treatment of women should be roundly condemned.

In other words, saying respect for diversity means they get to treat their women badly. No, it doesn't!

Note 2. My first note should not be construed to mean I focus on fundamentalist religionists' treatment of women. It's only an example. There is much to condemn whenever and wherever violence and repression exist in the world. Religions, however, do cause much of the world's problems. Then, of course, there's wealth and money.

The Republicans Love the Poor

Republican lawmakers at the state level help the loan sharks in our market economy. How? By raising the interest rates and fees the poor and ignorant pay for quick-fix loans. How is this not the Republican Party helping the rich steal from the poor?

Read the comments on the above linked article. Nobody thinks this is good for the country. Why anyone would support today's Republican Party amazes me. And yet...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hillsong Church Finds Earliest Pope That Had Sex with Fish

Wait, I might have mixed up three articles in that headline. It's confusing on Monday mornings.

Ancient fish having sex. No pope. My bad.

This scientific article is the only one that makes any actual sense. We've found fossils of the oldest creatures who had sex. Of course, certain Christians might have a problem with this news. First, SEX! And, second, FOSSILS! Certain Christians don't believe in sex or fossils, well, certainly fossils.

Another article talks about how the American bishops put the kibosh on Pope Francis making nice with the gays. It seems he's "tearing up the rule book." There's apparently a rule that you don't make nice with the gays or something. Tell that to the world of people under thirty, you white-haired geezers in red and purple beanies.

Apparently the Hillsong Church, an inclusive Christian megachurch has found a way past the dilemma:
"Jesus was in the thick of an era where homosexuality, just like it is today, was widely prevalent," [New York Hillsong pastor] Lentz told CNN. "And I'm still waiting for someone to show me the quote where Jesus addressed it on the record in front of people.  You won't find it, because He never did."
Lentz's wife, Laura, chimed in: "It's not our place to tell anyone how they should live. That's their journey."
To which the head of the Southern Baptists retorted something like "Jesus didn't have to say it to let us know He hated on the gays." Okay, the head of the Southern Baptists didn't exactly say that. The head of the Hillsong Church told the New York pastor to knock it off because Paul...

To recap, there were three articles in which some Christians somewhere were unhappy about something because the Earth is about 4000 years old and St. Paul wasn't down with teh gay, so shut up, Pope.

Progress!

I've got a feeling the American bishops haven't heard the last from Pope Francis.