Sunday, March 31, 2013

This year Easter is on...Roll 1d4?

I have been tempted to talk about the, what to my surprise exists, War of Easter. But it is too silly (You can see it tore apart here and here.).

And I have talked about the similarly ridiculous War on Christmas here already. Just switch over to magic rabbits, baskets of eggs, chocolate, pastel colors, and baked ham. If your argument is that your religious celebration of Easter is in peril...
YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID. 
Okay? It is all silly.

And to emphasize that, you can see that Google has a picture of Cesar Chavez up on it's main page.


Google often changes it's main page to acknowledge various people and events (from Star Trek to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to Christmas to famous artist). It's a fun little thing. Today is Cesar Chavez birthday. It's also Easter (this year -- What is with the rolling holiday? Was Jesus hedging his bets on how long he'd take to get out hell?). So Christians, again, are pissed about not getting special coverage...on a little picture on the front page of Google. I'm guessing these people missed church and didn't know their was a big deal there today.

Honestly! Their are devout Christians spending Easter online writing and complaining about people not celebrating Easter. Welcome to Conservative Christiandom.

So silly. As Jim Gaffigan has told us...


For his full bit on holidays:


I think I'll just have some turkey and MST3K. It is feeling like a Turkey Day.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Anniversaries in Women's Health

Thought it would be useful to remember the anniversaries we have this year, in regard to some areas of women's health.


Roe vs Wade, making abortion a legal option for women, has been the law of the land for 40 years now.

Eisenstadt vs Baird, making it legal for a unmarried person to buy birth control for 41 years now.

Birth control pills were officially approved for sale in the United States 53 years ago. It was expected they would quickly become a nonprescription item.


50 some years of birth control pills. 40 years of legal access to abortion. And conservatives have continued a hostile fight to push us back into a fantasy version of the 1950's. Access to both has been pushed back. Have been going into place for decades now to keep women from their rightful access to abortion. Further attempts are being made to ensure it is not easy to get to birth control. And in the last several years it seems they have become only more determined to end women's right to make decisions on their reproductive cycles.

50 years on. Why are conservatives allowed to continue to dictate this fight? It is time things changed. I am tired of their garbage and need to control women. It needs to stop. We all need to be heard.

To appreciate what society has gained, and what we have to protect (and in some areas of the country gain back), some Loretta Lynn:



The trouble with religious medicine.

Writing that title for this post, I wish I was going to just be talking about new age medicine, or faith healing. But no, I am writing about medical facilities set up and run by religious institutions. Erin Matson wrote on this, and I wanted to focus in and expand a little on her piece.


A desire to aid and heal people is a fine agenda to have. The trouble arises when it's mixed with caveats for just how and if someone is going to receive medical services. At Catholic hospitals their is some question as to what reproductive medicine you can have access to. And this has an impact on people's lives.

If you end up at a Catholic hospital following being raped, what treatment will you get? What help will you receive? If you want to receive something to prevent a pregnancy, you may be out of luck, and they may work to prevent you from getting the treatment you want. And if you are pregnant and need lifesaving treatment that could the pregnancy...it can end horribly for you.

When it comes to abortion, Catholic doctrine is clear and cruel. In Ireland last year, under Catholic doctrine, a life saving abortion was delayed until the fetus was shown to have died, leaving it too late to save the woman. The disease progressed to far and she died. Fetus and mother dead. In 2010, following an abortion to end a pregnancy that likely would have killed the mother, the nun who made the executive decision was excommunicated. A warning to hospital executives everywhere. And in 2009, their was furor in the Church when a 9 year-old, raped by her stepfather, was given an abortion in Brazil. It was legal, under the circumstances. But the doctors and family were all excommunicated from the church, as a punishment and a threat to other Catholics, particularly doctors (Don't recall the step dad getting much grief for what he did.).

Where they can make it law, the church stops abortion services. Where it can't make it illegal, they make it inaccessible, or hard to get agreement to it.

But that is just Catholic hospitals. So no big deal. I wish that were so. As much as I would like to think that this issue is one we can handle, I have concerns.

First. Do you know how the hospital nearest to you is run? Is it religious based? In fact, what is the nearest hospital to you that isn't? Do you know? I have for awhile looked at the city I live in, and I've realized that there are two major hospitals, and they are both Catholic hospitals. So, if I was a women, what would my options be? As well, consider how clinics and other outpatient venues for medical support are setup. Many in this region have funding from the these two hospitals. How does that affect service? I am unsure how far, or where I would have to go to get medical aid unaffected by Catholic teachings on reproductive medicine. That troubles me.

This leads to my second concern  the move to "religious freedom". In many states they are trying to establish rules of Religious Freedom. It's meant to be a way to circumvent the law and use religious doctrine in it's place. It's a way to deny services to gay people, or anyone you don't like, and it is also a way to justify all sorts of medical providers don't have to accommodate patients. It's, apparently, the religious way.

Now, it is interesting to see very religious people eager to show that they mean intolerant and exclusionary when they call themselves religious. But this isn't helping women.

And women in many places in this country are expected to leap through a series of flaming hoops to even get in sight of an abortion provider. Abortion is a simple basic medical service that is legal in the United States. When you look at how it is treated by most states, you would think it is a dirty secret, or used an amazing amount. But that isn't reality. Just the fiction that some choose to believe. And through those lies, women who need medical aid are made to suffer and endure, to fulfill the religious demands of some. How can any of us see this as acceptable?


I don't care if a religious institution wants to open a hospital to help the sick and be of service to the community. But they should not be picking and choosing the basic medical assistance they will bestow. That is not how one ministers, in the medical sense. If you pick and choose like that, based on personal biases, you are not being a serious provider. And you DEFINITELY should not be receiving tax dollars for your work.

This is why we need national secular medical providers. People will provide the full range of medical services. People who are actually serious about medicine.


I also wanted to include a link from the original piece linked at the top, looking at the trouble happening as Catholic hospitals are merging with other hospitals, bringing over their antiquated rules on women's health. It's good to be informed.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Walmart? Stop being evil! ...Or at least be less creepy. *UPDATED*

The executive board of Walmart...What?
Should I be subtle? They aren't.
Hopefully by now we have all heard about how nastily Walmart is run.

If not, here's a fact sheet, including:

  • Work at Walmart, live in poverty.
  • Destroys higher paying jobs in communities.

Walmart drives down wages, and not to stay in business, it's already immensely profitable. And that isn't a bad thing. Businesses making profits is fine. But the focus on immediate profits, instead of investing in workers, only negatively impacts future viability. Common sense should tells us usually that theirs more to running a business then immediate profitability. (Sadly too many business thinkers today think only in the short term.) Investing in the community and workforce is what a responsible and sound business does.

What Walmart does is squeeze out every last bit of profitability, which it shunts right to the Walton family and the executives. That's just damn miserly.

Add to this the troubling impact of their pull on groceries and the food supply chain.

But now they are looking at another idea. I'd call it an amazing idea, or a shocking one, but this is Walmart. How can they shock us at this point?

Walmart now think it's time for Walmart customers to work for Walmart as it's personal delivery system.


Imagine it. You can be a delivery boy for WALMART. How awesome!


Yup. You can sign up, give them your home address, and then get discounts up to the cost of gas mileage. How awesome! Right?

Sign me up!


And I appreciate Daily Kos's list of how this plan could end horrifically for someone. Free labor for Walmart. And, a chance to serve a company that is eager to help...drive out it's competition in town.

They make stunning profits. They pay their workers a pittance. And, now you can work for them, for no money.

Walmart? Way to be a Walmart.

__________
UPDATED:

Wanted to add some graphics that remind just how backwards Walmart, and a lot business is today. To do that, look at some businesses that are trying to do things right.

Source

Source

Source


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

If I have to choose, I say dump religion and embrace gay people.

Source
As questions on some rights of the gay community come before the Supreme Court, it is apt to consider this. 

Conservatives seem to ever be concerned with gay people. Obsessed even. 

They are constantly afraid some gay people might be around them. Afraid they might have a good job. Afraid they might find love. Afraid they might have a voice in society, and be treated like normal folk.

It seems to all scare them. 

So they try and legislate to, as with some many things in the scary modern world, to ostracize them.

Many ANTI-GAY groups (and never forget that that is what they are) are lamenting the state of this country. They live in a sad place. A place where it's inconvenient to be a bigot. It's a place where it's actually kind of cool, and normal, to be tolerant and accepting of other people. It's a place where they have the antiquated ideas. And they think that is wholly unfair. 
... 
“These Republicans who are jumping ship are doing so because we have no way of messaging,” said Ashley Pratte, 23, the executive director of Cornerstone Policy Research and Cornerstone Action, a New Hampshire group that focuses on social issues. “Do you want to tell your friends when you’re out with them on a Friday night that they can’t get married? No, you don’t want to have that discussion, but you want to have a healthy discussion.” 
...
In the piece they use a lot of words to try and hide their only real argument against gays and gay marriage. That they and it are yucky. And, you know, the quote seems to suggest that these conservatives have a lot of gay friends they hang out with (and that a lot of gay people are out in the open and unafraid to be themselves -- which doesn't thrill conservatives). So when they are out with them, shoot, they feel awkward telling these gay friends that they are wicked sinners, destined for hell, that are destroying the fabric of society. Gosh, I really feel for these conservatives.

And if you do want to be depressed about this:
... 
Opponents of same-sex marriage say they realize they may lose the current fight, but they optimistically take the long view, pointing to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. At the time, they say, opponents of abortion were told their cause was lost, but the fight continues 40 years later. 
...
They've fought for 40 years to limit women's rights. And they have drug this out and limited abortion access across the country. They are hoping and praying to do the same on gay rights.


And let's see one place they are making their dream of religious bigotry against the gay community come true. KENTUCKY

Religious freedom. Sounds nice enough. You have your beliefs, I have mine. Or, as the Kentucky legislature sees it, you have your beliefs, and that overrides state law. That's their definition of Religious Freedom. (It's similar to their definition of Academic Freedom. -- Conservatives have really begun abusing the word Freedom quite heartily these days. But I'll get more into that as we approach Easter.)

I wish I could lay this all on the GOP. But the Kentucky Democratic Party has made that impossible. A Democratic sponsored the bill in the state house. The House is controlled by Democrats, who largely supported and voted for the bill (7 voted against. Thanks for trying.). It is depressing. I don't know why they've done this. If it's fear of losing power, or if most of them are just that socially conservative (backwards).

But, you might get excited to hear that this week the governor vetoed this law (after it passed the Republican state senate). But the house Democrats tonight overrode that veto. They did it behind closed doors, just Democrats alone, personally override it. And the Republicans in the state senate said they would move fast once the house voted.

We will see if it goes to court. As it is, it will quickly move to law now allows now makes it legal to discriminate against gay, lesbian, and transgendered people in Kentucky...as along as you have a religious reason. (wink) 

Doesn't Kentucky feel freer already?

The argument is that religious freedom is in peril. You know, doctors have to treat patients, even if they don't like the treatment being sent. Businesses have to pay for health care support they don't like for workers. And landlords have to let people rent from them, even when they're of the wrong race, religion, or sexual orientation or presentation. How tyrannical is all of that?


Religion is making a useful justification for using the law to deny rights. And it's called Freedom. Frank Luntz must have a tear of pride trailing down from his eye tonight. 


Monday, March 25, 2013

Triangle Fire anniversary. Let's not forget.

Image of the front of the Triangle Waist Company building.
Triangle Wait Company Building
Front
Almost slipped passed me, but it's the anniversary of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which killed 146 workers, 129 of them women. It was the second largest fatality in a disaster at the time.

It came about due to, first, a fire. The factory was placed on the top 3 floors of the building. On March 25th, a fire broke out in a linen bin on the bottom most of these floors. When people realized what was happening, the top floor was contacted, but they couldn't call the middle floor. So word to the middle floor came slowly. People that were warned began descending open stairways. But these quickly became inaccessible. More exits were available, but kept locked to control worker movement and prevent theft. And the people with keys fled early, leaving those left trapped.

Then when the fire service arrived, they could not stop the fire. And they had no ladders that could reach up to those trapped.

The factory employed 500, so nearly one third of the workforce was killed in this fire. The owners escaped criminal responsibility, but were made to pay in civil action. But they showed no sign of learning from this.

Still many horrible lessons were taught that day. It rallied many workers to stand together, and demand better treatment by business. Unions already existed, but this reinforced their need for many. New interest in oversight of factories pushed government to investigate what was actually happening in New York factories. They discovered many reason to doubt the safety of workers. And this lead to new labor law and building codes. It was a horrible moment that stayed with people and tilted interest to those poor people treated too much like chattel, and not human beings.

The deaths of that day cannot be forgotten now, more than one hundred years on. Some like to talk down workers coordinating for their wages, benefits, and safety. They attack regulations, which are key to enforcing safety. They see the profits of the managers and owners as the paramount concern. And they have power in many states, diminish rights and security.

So let's be sure to not forget those that died.




MLK and the danger of normalcy.

It's the anniversary of Martin Luther King's speech at the end of the Selma to Montgomery march.

It's worth a read.

I liked this reminder that still stays as relevant today. On normalcy:
... 
But I have a message that I would like to leave with Alabama this evening. (Tell it) That is exactly what we don’t want, and we will not allow it to happen, (Yes, sir) for we know that it was normalcy in Marion (Yes, sir) that led to the brutal murder of Jimmy Lee Jackson. (Speak) It was normalcy in Birmingham (Yes) that led to the murder on Sunday morning of four beautiful, unoffending, innocent girls. It was normalcy on Highway 80 (Yes, sir) that led state troopers to use tear gas and horses and billy clubs against unarmed human beings who were simply marching for justice. (Speak, sir) It was normalcy by a cafe in Selma, Alabama, that led to the brutal beating of Reverend James Reeb. 
It is normalcy all over our country (Yes, sir) which leaves the Negro perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of vast ocean of material prosperity. It is normalcy all over Alabama (Yeah) that prevents the Negro from becoming a registered voter. (Yes) No, we will not allow Alabama (Go ahead) to return to normalcy. [Applause] 
The only normalcy that we will settle for (Yes, sir) is the normalcy that recognizes the dignity and worth of all of God’s children. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that allows judgment to run down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. (Yes, sir) The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy of brotherhood, the normalcy of true peace, the normalcy of justice. 
...
Normalcy. Conservatives continue the fight to maintain their vision of the normal. Their normal is gay people hidden away, or driven away. Their normal is women quieted, shamed, and shunned for their choices, and denied many of them. Their normal is all so white and all so old. And their normal is the wealth always rising up to those that already have so much.

Brotherhood. Peace. Justice. These are things we still need to strive for.

We have progressed a lot. The world, and this country, have changed. But the work goes on. We have the first black president. But we also have active movements to strip away the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act. Many fields are open now to those that aren't white men. But wealth inequality grows, and the black community is still so often the target of law enforcement.

Yes. Theirs still a distance to go.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

And now, a dog losing a fight with a door stop.

To break up serious topics, something from YouTube.

A dog that is being bested by a door stop. Enjoy.


What's next? Emergency managers appointed for every pregnancy? *UPDATED 2*

I am creating this post so as to not keep updating the older post on how Republicans continue to cut away at women's access to abortion.

The GOP is eager to fill the map below. And even then this has quickly become outdated.

Source

North Dakota has passed an Personhood Amendment through it's legislature. So it now moves to the ballot in 2014, for people to vote on. So it isn't enforceable yet, but we will see how voters in the state go to the polls. (And, it's another reminder of how much we need people to actually get out and vote next year. This type of law is on ballots all over the country.) Granted, this and North Dakota's other draconian law on fetal heartbeats should never pass judicial muster. But they still pass these laws. Tennessee is also pushing an amendment in 2014. They push and push at the perimeters of people's rights. They see how far they can go and not get push back. Then try and set a standard from which they can push further. 2nd Trimester. 28 Weeks. 12 Weeks. 6 Weeks. Conception. Pushing and pushing the rights of women back.

They have to be made to see the country does not want this dreck. We need to respect the needs of women when they make decisions about their own bodies. To do this we need people in office who will defend rights. And we need to go to the ballots (every time they open) and vote to defend our rights.

Because the GOP is fighting hard to on this. Let's hearken back to Kansas with it's recent additional moves to go after access to abortion. We know the GOP's newest bill is pretty severe. They want to give rights to fertilized eggs. They want to be sure women get no aid. They want doctors to tell women lies about abortion. They are trying to create such hardship.

So, to soften the blow of this bill, Democrats tried to offer up amendments. Amendments like giving some consideration to rape survivors, to be sure they get the services they need and want. But, no. Republicans, almost unanimously, voted to block any compassion in their rather cruel bill.

Kansas, you may also remember, is also one of the states where Republicans pushed in conscious clauses to let pharmacist choose to not sell women birth control. Even birth control is a controversy with Republicans. This is what the GOP wants. This what they want for you. To cut women off from basic medical services and medicines they don't like. And we've been dealing with this for half a century.

But, I also want to acknowledge the Republicans (the few Republicans) who have stood up to these moves. Like the governor of Arkansas before them, they point to the pointless expense of defending these doomed laws. But I am starting to think that's just the excuse and cover they're choosing to make the moral and right decisions. Pity they aren't representing folks who'd respect that stand.

_____________
ADDENDUM:

Kansas ain't done yet!

They are now trying to rush through ANOTHER anti-abortion bill, right as the session is getting ready to close. Like North Dakota, they are racing to pass a fetal heartbeat law, to further limit access to abortion (How many lawsuits do Republicans want to put their states through anyway?). They are giving people  24 hours notice on the public hearing on the bill. They waited and want to race this through, so they can get into line for getting sued. All so, they hope so badly, they can deny women access to a legitimate medical procedure.

This is the stuff the GOP focuses on. This is their priority.


AND MORE:

Washington Post has a nice graphic to show how across the country access to abortion gets denied, by weeks.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Media does us no favors in their coverage of Steubenville. *UPDATED*

So you know and are warned, I will be using the term rape a lot in this piece. It's to emphasize a point that the term and the fact it occurred in the Steubenville case is getting glossed over, ignored, or treated as irrelevant. If it is an issue for you/causes you trouble/triggers, apologizes. But that's why I wanted to begin with a warning.


This weekend we finally had a conclusion to the much discussed trial in Steubenville, Ohio.

So, now, I debate what I can add to this result. What has to be said?

I could let the verdict stand as a final statement. But, from news to twitter trolls, people have rushed to say everything that didn't need saying, on the topic of rape to the victim herself. So many people raced to seemingly show us rape culture is alive and well in this country.

Online, many have been eager to denounce the girl raped for drinking, for being in the wrong company, for talking up. Cruelty has come quick and fast. And the point for some people is that she is in the wrong. Or, that her choices make her the one that is guilty. Or, that the true victims are the boys that assaulted and raped this girl.

CNN surprised us all by leading the way on this. As the trial results were announced and as they were being digested, CNN got to the heart of the matter.


It is just galling. There has been a bizarre obsession with these boys, who raped a girl repeatedly, carried her around, showed her off, took photos of their acts, and sent messages around bragging...But yeah, this is really rough them.

It is an amazing bit of journalism. (Particularly Crowley, who says they were found guilty of "rape essentially". What is that? Real rape? Rape rape? Legitimate rape?) But the weird disconnect is troubling. How do they see the events of the night of the crime? How about the lead up to trial? Or the trial itself? Was it all about these boys being put through an ordeal? What is it they think happen to this girl that was attacked? Who has had to relive the attack at trial? And, now is under continuing risk and threat by the city around her, even her former friends.

But, yeah, these rapist had the raw deal. Football stars, with hopes of college success, now quashed...How does this become your takeaway? Is it because they're young? Boys? Successful?

Is it that they were boys being boys? That they were celebrating? That they were having fun? That it just went a bit far? And, if only?

I am at a loss. They made a choice. And over the course of hours they made choice after choice to continue and compound their crimes. But so many media folk just wept for these boys.

And that has an effect. That effect is that it says it's too bad they had to be put on trial for what happen. It's too bad they have to pay for what happen. It's too bad they are being given a hard time for what happen. And it takes us away from what happen. They raped someone.

But for some people, that isn't what happen. And as you watch people on the news avoid using the word rape, as you see people online call this girl a liar, you see the culture that birthed the mind of Todd Akin. It's a culture that embraces ignorance, fears and is suspicious of women, and sees women that survive rape as contemptible.

Rape is a serious and severe issue. But the media and public is uncomfortable with it. How bothered are we all about the frequency of rape in the military? Are we still laughing at the lazy punchline of a man being raped in prison? Do communities angrily rally around sports teams, coaches, and stars when their are accusations of rape?
Source

And the media is not helping. It makes the token effort, but then falls down on the job in fighting the rape culture narrative. Look at the media giants you can list beside CNN that have looked at this story as a matter of the victim causing trouble or being to blame. ABC, NBC, Yahoo, AP, and USA Today. She's tearing her town apart. She was drunk. Social media is such a problem. No. Rape is a problem, a crime even. If they hadn't made the decision to rape they would be looking to college now. But, no. They chose to rape. They chose to assault and abuse a girl and then show no remorse, but brag about it.



Along with this, since the trial, CNN, MSNBC, and FOX have all now played statements from the guilty in which they use the name of the victim of their crimes. This is an underage girl who, until now, had had her name withheld by the media to protect her privacy, and keep her safe from those that are threatening her. So the 3 premier cable news networks have all outed this girl to additional scrutiny and danger. Brilliant work, asses. It's just more callousness from the media on this case.

The media has let us down quite a bit on this case. We expect more. We need better.


_____________
ADDENDUM:

I appreciated this piece looking at what we've seen of a CNN reaction to the reaction to the Steubenville coverage. CNN's reaction has been to just shrug. Apparently Harlow is shocked that people read her coverage as being one-sided. And, as a woman, she doesn't know why someone would think she would slant her coverage.

But that is what comes from being inside the bubble. It's like what happens in Washington or when reporters get embedded with the military. The lot of the media became entrenched in the attitude of Steubenville, which is pretty toxic.

As well:

... 
I don’t particularly care that Poppy Harlow and Candy Crowley are women. Gender is not an excuse and it’s disgusting to use it to dismiss valid criticisms. Women contribute to victim blaming and rape culture too but they reallyshould know better. Harlow and Crowley made a very big mistake by airing that segment. 
I’m sure they didn’t intend to come off the way they did but their intentions don’t particularly matter. What they did was contribute to rape culture.Period. The reason both need to apologize, however, is because they aren’t even aware of this. They can’t see how their segment was harmful and disrespectful. That’s a problem. With this case in Steubenville, many people have finally discovered that we don’t know that much about rape culture, victim blaming, or even rape itself. If we want to start combating sexual violence in a meaningful way, then we need to hold people accountable and completely stomp out rape culture and victim blaming. No one gets a pass because of their gender or anything else. 
...

That is the thing about rape culture. It isn't just men raping, or men dismissing rape. Women make up more than half of the human population, so if they weren't taking part in rape culture, it really would be a different problem.

So, yeah, women do take part. Some judge others, and condemn them, for not living the right way or for "letting themselves" be attacked. Some embrace cultural narratives, that put lower priority on the experience of women in the some occurrences of rape (A "drunk girl" has ruined the lives of two boys.). And when women do these things it's just as unacceptable as when men do this.

Maybe Harlow, and Crowley, are oblivious to how they came off to their audience. But that doesn't mediate the effect they have. They helped enforce this toxic culture. And that's why I am happy that people are being pissed off at it, and being sure to be heard. The comments made last week by the media cannot be allowed to be the final word.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Rob Portman, CPAC, and the GOP Mind

Conservatism is suffering many internal problems these days. But I think it all comes down to a problem changing. They are behind the times on issues like gay rights and abortion. I

True, conservatism is supposed to be drawn to maintaining old ways. But it is supposed to change some, hence conservatives embracing things like clothes wearing and fire. Change comes to all. But the "modern" conservative movement in the United States seems to have chosen to take a stand against this. Instead of advancing and changing with the times, they seem to have decided to become more entrenched and vitriolic.

But in this day, sometimes, we see a little change. We see some eye opening and self-reflection. This last week offered up Republican Senator Rob Portman as an example of this. Having learned that his son is gay, he's' been moved to reexamine policy he's pushed and attitudes he's held.

Source

And I'm willing to take him at his word on this. Trying to complain about why he changed how he feels immaterial. If he changes his voting pattern and his advocacy now, it's hard not to be happy.

He's come in contact with and been affected by a part of the world he was oblivious to. Great. For that matter, I am pleased if wants to join the fight to guarantee rights.

It doesn't undo the suffering he's helped cause, co-sponsored DOMA, defended Don't Ask Don't Tell, supported constitutional bans on gay marriage. But if he wants to change now, and take heat from Conservatism for it, good for him.

Okay?

For most of us, empathy and contact help shape our worldviews. We meet and talk with people different then us and it helps shape how we think. Or, we like to learn, and that leads us to an awareness of other groups and cultures, and their histories and issues. And through these venues, we grow and change ourselves, and we are concerned about how we impact them ( By what we say, what we do, what laws we endorse and vote for.).

Portman has opened himself up to ONE group now. Will he do it for others? Does he consider how his votes affect his daughters health? Does he have family who've been financially wiped out by an illness that he considers as he  is drafting bills?

This the problem of the GOP mind. It's closed off from to looking too far passed itself. When the GOP pushes anti-gay law, they don't think too hard about how it will affect gay people. Or, how anti-women law will affect women (Though you may have noticed the number of times some, if not all, the Republican women have broken ranks in the passed few years on women's issues.). When they cut aid to the poor, it's something cut from a group that is just a caricature and stereotype. Their laws and impact are not fully measured, beyond how they advance ideology and agenda.

And they continue down this destructive track, except in those rare cases where it personally affects them. Look at Chris Christie and Peter King. They took very quick turns to supporting some federal government spending and presidential action, once their states were hit with calamity. They got a heaping dose of personal effect dumped right on. Still, passed that event, they both struggle to comprehend the needs of other Americans. The sneer at government aid still resides on their faces, once the matters where they are personally affected pass.

The GOP just struggles with empathy.  It's what we see with recent talk on immigration reform. They keep talking about how it will win them Hispanic support. They don't talk near enough about it being the right thing to do, it's just a vote winner. And that is just sad.

And you see the sensibilities they now cling to played out in a cartoonish manner at this week's CPAC event. It wasn't well attended, from what I saw, but it reflects how Conservatism is thinking, voting, legislating, and impacting the United States.

People who need financial help are lazy and looking for handouts. Women who want an abortion are bad people. Gays are choosing to be shunned. Blacks and Hispanics are...You know how they talk.

Getting angry at people for being different sells at this event. The poor are to be derided. Foreigners are to be sneered at. And government aid is to be stopped. It's the same angry rhetoric they drag around to every event, every year. The times, the places, the experiences of people in nearby communities, all irrelevant. The anger is what matters. They live in a sick cycle.

And cycle is what it is. They try to ensure from the earliest age possible to keep kids limited to acceptable knowledge sources. Then as they grow up, keep them limited to resources for information, and get them to shun and hold other sources in contempt. And, if they succeed, they have someone who goes to Liberty U, listens to Rush Limbaugh, watches FOX News, and chuckles when someone calls the rest of the media, the lame stream. The bubble is complete, on to the next generation.

But then, every once in a while, something hits them in their own lives. They open their eyes just a bit and notice the world around that they impact. And, maybe, they decide to care and be more aware. They decide to help and grow as a person. And, sometimes, they recoil and get angrier and seek places to toss blame, retreating further into the bubble.

So, I am happy Portman has gotten some sense, on one issue. The rest of the country awaits his awakening on their concerns as well. And the whole of the country awaits the GOP and Conservatism awakening to the reality and needs of this nation.

The GOP chairman was eager to call CPAC a great representation of what the Republicans, and conservatism, is now. This is an event that had people talking about how good slavery was for black people. Unbelievable.

WAKE UP! CPAC is over, and it's time to get up and open your eyes to this concerns and needs of the country.



Don't hit snooze again. Time to face the reality outside your bubbles, and in reality.




Thursday, March 14, 2013

Saint Patrick's Day: Let's Get This Céilidh Started!

March 17th is almost upon us. You know what that means...

A McDonald's Shamrock shake.
It's the shamrockiest!
Sniff my butt, I'm Irish.
...Oh... And it's Saint Patrick's Day season.

So get yourselves up and get to work aping Irish culture. You know, wearing green, wearing funny hats, talking in a funny accents, and... getting plastered on watery American beer?

And that's the feast day of St. Patrick!

Okay, okay. I know I have been one to point out that holidays grow and change, and break out of cultures or religions. And St. Patrick's has done that to an extent. But it is also odd to me that it's a national holiday as well. So people act out certain stereotypes  And I'm not fond of perpetuating stereotypes. Of course, it's also become a day that the Irish like to promote cultural awareness, if you keep an eye out for events. As well, like Mardi Gras and Christmas, this day is also just an excuse to have a party, do some dancing, and, maybe, wear some green. ...And I do love green.


So let's get back to it's origins. (Now YOU Must Learn. HAHAHAHAHA!)


March 17th is deemed to be the date of St. Patrick of Ireland's death. It's said he was then buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, Down County. Common for the day, St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, was never officially canonized by a pope and church. It was more a regional decision. But from that start his sainthood has been embraced by the Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal  and Orthodox churches. It took time for him to gain acceptance, but more and more he was acknowledged in the church. So, he got a feast day, and became a rallying point in Irish culture. But that's the end of the his tale.

Looking at the start is a little trickier. He is considered to be a Romano-Brit, of noble birth. His family had been in the religion business at that point for generations. Early in his life he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave. He later was able to return to Britain. He entered the Church then, and after rising to bishop was sent back to Ireland to convert the island to Catholicism (and fight crime as a proto-Zorro -- But that may just be my own head canon. Or I may be confusing the Green Bishop with the Green Hornet.). And with that he descends into legend.

The trouble with stories and writing of Patrick's time in Ireland is that it is not necessarily clear what is him and what is others that were evangelizing before and after him in Ireland. As often happens when cobbling together history, legends, or parables, the names may be changed and events altered to protect the innocent...or just make a better/easier to understand story.

Before Patrick was sent to Ireland, Palladius was sent to Ireland on the same mission, becoming the first bishop in Ireland. So some of his writings, words, and actions likely were blended in to the activities of Patrick.

But Patrick is remember for the overall effort to bring Christianity to dominance in Ireland. Which did occur. (And once the Magdalene Asylums were set up, it was smooth sailing for Ireland. We will be taking no questions.) That is where the imagery of St. Patrick driving the snakes out comes from, the conversion of people from Druidic faith to his own (We'll hope it was just converting.). It may be similar to the story of St. George and his "dragon".

It's like the story of his walking stick which would become a tree. The story goes he would plant it in the ground and preach. Then when he found it had taken root in the place, he would move on. Get it! It's alluding to something. It's cute...kinda.

Then their is the embrace of the shamrock, three-leafed clover. It is said that Patrick used it to describe the concept of a Holy Trinity (Insert your own sex act joke here. Whoa hey!), and then carried and wore them as a symbol to people. They say that.

Trouble is, can you actually tie the shamrock to any of his direct teachings. Because it seems to only arise as tied to him more than 1,000 years after his death. So, like with so many tales and legends, St. Patrick may have been rebooted and upgraded. Perhaps shamrocks had started to be used as a symbol of trinity or the crucifix, perhaps it had become more significant to people, and it was decided to go back and tie it to this significant religious figure.

Going back long before Patrick, the shamrock was a revered image in Ireland. It was green, which was an important symbol to them. And it represented the number three, also significant to the early peoples of Ireland. So it is not hard to imagine, like in other lands and times, Christian proselytizers taking advantage of the symbol and it's parallels to further sell the faith. It's just a question of if it was a practice predating Patrick, of his making (but no records survived), or just adopted later on. I could not say. Still, no one cares, and here we are, with a shamrock. And people seem to love them.

But what about the vaunted four-leaf clover then? If the three-leafer represents the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, what's the fourth one for then? This...

Finally! A positive image of Ireland.
Yes, yes, their is a corny explanation:
"The first is for faith, the second is for hope, the third is for love, and the fourth is for luck."
But, come on! Leprechauns. Leprechauns! That's where it's at. It's always the answer.

At least it's better than faith, hope, love, and luck...Yeesch.


So, a millennia later all the pieces were falling in place for St. Patrick's Day.

  • We have the snakes. 

Though I think most of us forget about them. They aren't dragons.

  • We have our shamrocks.

Good for shakes, pendents, and easily recognizable Irish logos.

  • We also have parades.

...Which aren't an Irish or Patricky idea at all... It's an American thing. But the Irish have taken to it...after 200 years. I'll be honest, and say I'm not big on parades. But if you like them, it's your lucky day.

  • And theirs the beer.

Beer. As I noted in looking at Mardi Gras, we are in Lent now. So I wondered how a St. Patrick feast day would work. And even in Ireland their are times during which bars were required to be closed on the 17th. Apparently, most Catholic churches give dispensation for people to eat and drink on the 17th. A loophole to fasting in the in the Catholic Church, I don't believe it! Still, any out on fasting is a good one. So enjoy!


And in ending, I wanted to be sure you knew that, yes, their are people being huge pills about the fun side of St. Patrick's:
Christian leaders in Ireland have expressed concern about the secularisation of St Patrick's Day. In The Word magazine's March 2007 issue, Fr.Vincent Twomey wrote, "It is time to reclaim St Patrick's Day as a church festival." He questioned the need for "mindless alcohol-fuelled revelry" and concluded that "it is time to bring the piety and the fun together.
Trying to ruin a good time. It's just for Christmas anymore. Has someone seen if Sarah Palin wants to write  a book on this?


It's Pi Day. Get your compass. Get your fork.

It's Pi Day!



Yes. It's that time every year where all of us math nerds can get giddy at the date, March 14th. As in 3/14. (Yeah, in Europe it's 14/3. Don't point that out to us. It's magic!)

3/14. Or, 3.14. Pi! Woo!!! ...I. Said. Woo!!!


Let's hear it for the circumference of a circle divided by it's diameter! Oh yeah!




Still...It's only semi-amazing. Wait until 2015. 3/14/15?

Mathematicians will be going mental.



New Pope, Old Problems

New Pope! New Pope! New Pope!
Pope Francis I: Lovechild of Alec Guinness and Jonathan Pryce.
Really, doesn't he look like George Smiley undercover?
It's a Francis! The first one. He's also the first Jesuit. He's also the first pope coming from the Americas (though an Italian family), Argentina to be precise.

And everyone went mental at the news. He's so nice, so friendly, such a shunner of wealth and privilege. Great. What will change now? What can kind of person...pope is he?

So the good:
  • Long standing concern with poverty and inequality. 
"We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least. The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers."
This is nice. A stand on poverty and how it impacts people is good. And if the pope is speaking out on economic inequity, that will be grand. Maybe some of the conservatives in the US will listen and learn. (No. I know they won't listen or learn.)

  • He's been refusing a many of the trappings of his post as cardinal up to now. He takes the bus. He lives in smaller rooms in Buenos Aires.
How will this translate? He has to live in the palace. He has to be driven in the popemobile. So will his philosophy carry over? And how? ...And was he still using his summer home?

  • Spoke out against priest that won't baptize children born out of wedlock.
  • Has shown sympathy for those suffering from AIDS.
It's nice. But if he wasn't sympathetic, he's be a horrible person. Still, the are positives.


In Between:
It is an interesting thing. One of the outgrowth of Liberation Theology is the idea that their is inequity that leaves some poor and put upon. Yet Francis opposes LT. It seems, while he supports it's economic message, it's social and political messages do not meet with his approval.

The church has been hostile to it's advocates for some time now. And it's criticism of church hierarchy and authoritarianism may not be things the pope agrees with. Nor may he care for the view of Jesus as a revolutionary looking to bring upheaval and change to society. Nor it's ties to Marxism.

It is really no surprise to see a pope selected that opposes this view. At least the economic message will be addressed, we hope.


The problems:
  • Opposes gay marriage.
He's called gay marriage a plot again God, and openly opposed gay marriage law in Argentina.
“Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

  • Opposes gay people adopting children.
He's said it's a form of abuse to allow gay people to adopt.

  • Opposes abortion access.
  • Opposes birth control.
He has talked, in relation to abortion and contraception, of "the culture of death".

All of the above is par for the course within the Catholic Church hierarchy  Still, it shouldn't be forgotten that these are stands in the church. They are stands having negative impacts in the United States, and around the world.

  • There are questions on whether he collaborated with the military dictatorship of Argentina in the 1970's in actions that lead to numerous deaths, including priests.
What seems clear is that there was complicity between the Catholic Church in Argentina and the military. Now, the question is who in the church, and what? I have not heard any evidence supporting that the pope is tied to deaths, though it has been alleged. The question is, how did he handled being a religious leader during this time of military rule and abuse.

Remembering those
that disappeared.
It was a complex thing in those years. Religious groups were drawn in, obliged, threatened, and/or in league with oppressive rulers. Some priest were present at torture sessions. Some shared information with the military. Some argued against people's treatment. Some were brutally murdered. All of this is part of the reason Liberation Theology arose.

One journalist has written a book that says the pope, while in Argentina, hide away political prisoners of the military. He was hiding them for the military. He placed these prisoners at his holiday home on the island El Silencio, while human rights delegates were in the country. This would mean he worked with the military to hide prisoners so they would not be seen or talked to by outsiders. This is all claimed by the book.

I have not heard this story verified, or if there is another side to the story. He has said that he spoke up for some priest that were arrested to get them freed, and helped some escape the government. This is his position, and what he's been willing to talk about. There is obviously more to the events of this period in Argentinian history.

Sadly, I have not seen any news people here in the US look into it.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It's almost St. Patrick's Day...So let's talk Christmas!

Or, Christ's Mass with the Palins.

Pay attention to me!
Sarah Palin is trying to get into the limelight again, following her fall from the heights of punditry. And, one could go into her, her family, and the sad pursuit of fame. So many posts, pieces, and tweets cover it. Still, her ridiculous schemes for validity offers a chance to talk on some of the tired fears and claims that Conservative Christians like to trot out annually.

This morning I went on twitter and was presented with the suggestion that Sarah Palin (late of FOX News, later of governing, even later of failed campaigning, and never of relevance) would be writing a new book. This time it would be on the great and dire War of Christmas.

Hey! A Christmas tree!
Just in time for...
World Kidney Day.
Oh, Christmas. Forever the pawn of villainous secular progressives, out to destroy you.

It is a favorite refrain for conservatives. It implies liberals are all godless (or non-Christian, which is the same thing) and trying to take away presents from kids. It's kind of like the way they say the president wants to take away people's health care, money, and then place them education camps. Both statements have no real bearing on reality.

So let's considered how Christmas is being bombarded by secularism. As people like Palin suggest, it's being homogenized, it's being commercialized  and it's marginalized or ignored. Hmm? Interesting points. They are bull pucky, but scary to some people.

Christmas, as a religious event...is a religious event. That should be self-evident. If you are a church goer, you know how yours treats the day and the season. You have hymns, passages, and rituals you turn to, year after year. In the home's of the most pious, things no doubt run just as when dad and granddad ran things. So what is the wartime attrition being dealt with? It seems churches and homes seem to be able to operate, in their space, as always. Christians remember the day and tale well enough.

No. What is obviously meant is the public space, and business space. Once Christians could be assured that they were exclusively catered to, and now they have competition for attention. Sometimes people will put up menorahs (They don't understand them, but they want to be friendly.), or snowmen and Santa, to be inviting to all. But being inviting to all isn't what Conservative Christians want from Christmas. It is all supposed to be about them.

Christians are not getting the preferential treatment they are used to. Suddenly it's harder for them to see and receive to their preferential seating in the great banquet of society. (Though don't worry. Many places still give Christianity special dispensation in the community.) Suddenly, city halls, city parks, and town squares are not automatically handed over to church interests for the month to use as they have in the past. Instead, these spaces are seen as the property of all Americans. So, in some cases, anyone can put up messages or imagery on public property, to celebrate their tradition. In other cases, it is left neutral to the season. And in other cases, it is left open and unused.

Mangers/creches aren't being guaranteed funding or center stage status in towns. And for some this is a great crime against religion. It's an affront to the faithful (Christians). And, yes, that is silly. It's ridiculous to hear. In my city, in a very red state, I saw no manger scenes at city hall or in the major park that had Christmas lights up. But mangers were EVERYWHERE, on front lawns, at churches, etc. , it's just not being sponsored by government. (Side note: I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that none of the lights at the park were set up to reflect any religious scene, just reindeer, snowflakes, etc. And they blasted Christmas music through the park, and I noticed it was all nonreligious. It was way too much country music, but it was about the winter and the secular holiday stuff. Because that is what it is all about these days. And I also noticed how everyone would pass through the park and enjoy it. And they could do this before or after going to church, if they wanted. But I saw a place where people of all cultures and traditions were welcomed. And, to some, that is a bad thing.)

Christians are not getting the same level of priority and deference. And this, to Conservative Christians, is victimization. Instead, other faiths are also acknowledged, or just seasonal frivolity is enjoyed. And, to Conservative Christians, this is victimization.

Society has changed. We no longer just tolerate Others in our communities. We celebrate them, just as we celebrate ourselves (Whoever "them" are, or "ourselves" are.). Things are not centered just on the white christian male perspective (THIS REALITY IS STILL BUFFERING.).

And, is "it" commercialized? Yeah. Welcome to how every holiday and event is treated. And, welcome to Capitalism. You don't like? Ha ha ha ha ha! But, really, how many of the people complaining also sell Christmas items to make a buck? ...Like a book on the War on Christmas?

It is all silly. But it is also a go to paranoid money maker. From Palin to Bill O'Reilly to Bryan Fischer. It's all about a silenced voice. The excising of Jesus from society, the evil plot of it all. And when you're raised to not be aware of the world outside your home, home school, or church/megachurch, it can be damn scary to hear.

But I have to break this to you, societies change. American society, and even Christian societies, change and shift over time. Religion often desperately works to keep things frozen in place and time, but it's inevitable

Do you know why more and more people say "Happy Holidays" now? Looking passed fear of "PCness", other religions, and evil liberal agendas, we've simply changed as a people. That's it. Some people found it annoying to say "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Years". Then some people found it awkward to wish Jewish people a "Merry Christmas", and Jewish people no doubt didn't care that much for it. And then the holiday expanded to swallow the month, and...for a lot of people it just became natural to say. Society shifted. And I know people, from Sarah Palin to Richard Dawkins, are pissy about the change in greetings. Sorry, old timers, the world's moved on. And soon enough it will move on in someway, leaving me behind. As it is, I noticed that I still use terms like Christmas tree, Christmas lights, etc. Many don't say that now, but they are terms I've used since childhood. My vernacular may prove to be anachronistic before long. And I am fine with that. That is life. Sadly for Conservative Christians, it's war.

This change does anger some faithful. Faithful who want communities to honor their faith before all, who want a one day holiday honored in daily greetings for a whole flipping month, and who want to kill Santa (Yeah. It can go both ways.).

Oh, yeah. This is way better than
being part of a moving and
changing modern world.
But, you know, that is fine. If you don't like all the fancy and alien affectations glomming onto your special day, you can celebrate it how you like, in church and at home. And many groups do that, sticking to their ways and shunning the modern and impure. But, Sarah Palin, and others like her, don't want that. They want the world to revolve around them. They don't want to do without TV, cars, reality shows...buttons. The only people that actually find really standing heading off are nutty as Glenn Beck.

The reality is that they don't care that much.They don't care about Santa Claus, or Easter Bunnies. All the new bits and pieces that have been added over centuries are fine to them. The Christmas tree is a weird little tradition from Germany, that came over to England with Prince Albert, and became trendy. So it has no ties to Christ, at all. But the Palins put one up every year. Santa? A European tradition. But even O'Reilly will defend the idea (Though their are stories to the contrary, where he'll fight Claus.). And gift giving? Yet, everyone is up for some presents. Today most of us, Christians and non-Christian, like the secular side, the side that has grown and evolved. But it wasn't always so.

Back in the day, when the Puritans landed in America, they took Christmas serious. How serious? They banned it. That's how a serious Christians handles that. No drinking. No parties. No gifts. Nothing...Except church and prayer. Want to know what folk are actually supposed to call for, when they say they want to put the "Christ in Christmas"? That's what they are supposed to mean. On Christmas, you go to Church and pray. Otherwise you work, sleep, and pray.

But nobody wants that. It's part of the reason no one cared to have them in England in the first place (Their was also the whole civil war, killing the king. etc.). People want to have a party. And people, before and after Christians, will want to celebrate the end of the year and the midpoint of Winter. It is a happy holiday. And that's why, despite the complaints of commercialism and "add ons", most Conservative Christians take full advantage of the holiday season. But they aren't satisfied.

They just want you to treat them as the superior. Teach their religious views in school. Place their commandments in the courts and town squares. Write law by their vision of their holy book. And, fucking, say "Merry Christmas" to them, and smile while you're doing it. Okay? Thanks.

Now that that is finished. Let's get back to some proper religious celebration. It's almost St. Patrick's Day. Where's the green dye and the massive keg of beer?! Let's party like Christians! Woo!!!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

What's still wrong with Kansas? Conservatives inflicting themselves on the rest of the state. Spoiler.


Kansas. I hate to pick on it. It has it's good qualities.


But it also sometimes makes itself home to some ridiculous politicians, like Governor Brownback. And conservatives like to view it as a testbed for many of their balmy ideas.

One gambit conservatives have been playing across the country has been the childhood classic/irritant "I'm Not Touching You". And the conservative's favorite playmate/victim of this is women and their access to abortion.

So many days of waiting before getting seen. But we aren't touching you! 
Denying access after 30 weeks. But we aren't touching! 
Denying access after 20 weeks. But we aren't touching! 
Denying access after 12 weeks. But we aren't touching! 
Mandatory transvaginal ultrasound probing But they aren't touching! 
...Wait...They're changing the rules. Cheaters!

While conservatives are kept by Roe vs Wade from banning abortion outright. They can throw up hurdles. They can also harass and work to demonize.

Now, they have a new bill working it's way through.

... 
A Kansas House committee passed HB 2253 on Wednesday along party lines, with Republicans pushing the bill through while Democrats opposed it. The bill is a broad spectrum of anti-abortion laws sponsored by GOP state Rep. Lance Kinzer, who is the poster boy for many of the outrageous abortion bills introduced and passed in Kansas these days. Included in the bill are measures declaring that life begins at conception, measures that keep women from deducting the cost of abortion procedures on their tax forms, and measures that affect “information the Kansas Department of Health and Environment distributes on abortion and fetal development,” according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. 
...

So they want to keep abortion support from getting the tax breaks all other health care gets, and women as well.

It has a further affect.
... 
Much of the debate centered on a portion of the bill that bars anyone associated with an abortion provider from working in a public school. It is meant to prevent districts from contracting with groups like Planned Parenthood to provide sexual education materials, but Rep. Emily Perry, D-Mission, said the bill as written was overly broad.  
"I read this section to prohibit parents from going in and volunteering at their child’s school if they work at a place that provides abortion services,” Perry said. 
Committee Chairman Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, confirmed with a staff attorney that the bill would, for example, prohibit an abortion clinic secretary from "bringing cupcakes" to school for his or her child's birthday party. 
...
This is the after effect when you rush through law to get extreme results. The Republicans are so eager to bar Planned Parenthood and other honest sources of information and support. They want to isolate.

Though to be fair, Democrats complained, offered an amendment to prevent at least this result, and this led to some republicans agreement. Though it was tweaked by Republicans. It looks like it will allow abortion providers to volunteer at schools. But it also seems to say school workers cannot volunteer at abortion providers. We can't have that, can we, GOP?

And while some Republicans don't want to go the whole hog (leaving some hoof), others are eager to be extreme, laying out the basic trajectory that the party is following.
... 
There was still opposition to the amendment from Rep. Allan Rothlisberg, R-Grandview Plaza, who said he didn't want anyone involved in "killing children or babies" volunteering in public schools in any capacity. 
“If they want to (volunteer) they can find another job that will allow them to do so," Rothlisberg said. "We should have people of integrity and morality teaching our children.” 
...
Alienation. Ostracism. The favorite toys of the conservatism.

And the GOP of Kansas are now looking at the 12 week bans, and getting very excited. Oh, Kansas.


But that's not all Kansas Republicans are eyeing. They have some great ideas of education and taxes. You see, Republicans have eagerly been cutting the income tax down to nothing. But that means the budget is too big, and something needs to be cut! (How exciting for Republicans!) So, they are going after funds meant to help poorer families send their kids to state schools. Some are saying that they wonder if getting poorer kids and education is a job for government. Shifting from income taxes to sales taxes is important, but education, not so much. But it's not like the Republicans ever show contempt for education, academia, or educated voters.

When they needed a program to go after, it wasn't one that inconvenienced richer Kansas citizens or out-of-staters. They went to the poorest in the state, trying to better themselves. And, sadly, that is what the GOP does. Where do you cut to balance your budget? For Republicans, you slash into education, you slash into hospital funding, you slash into mental health support. And hasn't that benefited us all?

Let me remind Kansas of something. 2014. Over a year until you get your say about these politicians. And you better be sure you're heard at the polls.

And, to remind us all, not that long about the governor of the state was a Democrat. So it shouldn't be an insurmountable effort. Kansas can change it's politics.


Republicans pretending to support women. How cowardly is that? *UPDATED*

FINALLY. The Violence Against Women Act was allowed to be renewed and updated to further protect women in the United States. It took long enough!

Republicans and conservative interest groups worked hard to stymie renewal. After years of renewals, suddenly, the conservatives decided it was time to stop these protections. As with many topics, they decided this was a brilliant area to attack and disrupt government.

And, as they attempted to kill the act, they also tried to prevent further protections from being enacted, if the act survived. The House Republicans worked hard to prevent protections for LGBT from going forward, they fought against improved protection of women on tribal lands, and they didn't want immigrants to feel secure receiving help following assaults. They were clear on opposing these things.

But, the act finally did pass through Congress, and has now been signed by the president. ...FINALLY!

Yet, it doesn't stop there. Now many Republicans are heading home and pretending that they actually did support the VAWA. That takes so gall. And they don't deserve to be allowed to get away with it.

  • Tim Griffin (AR)
  • Vicky Hatzler (MO)
  • Bill Johnson (OH)
  • Steve King (IA)
  • Tim Murphy (PA)
  • Robert Pittenger (NC)
  • Keith Rothfys (PA)
  • Tim Walberg (MI)

Apparently the trick these Republicans are pulling is that they supported a conservative version of VAWA. The one that would not have helped many women, leaving them vulnerable. Then some are bragging about voting yes on the procedural vote to allow a vote on the final version of VAWA. But they are relying on journalist asking them any awkward questions, or noting the difference.

Don't let them off the hook.

_____________
ADDENDUM:

Maddow Show points to another Republican that tries to pretend he's supportive, while voting against the act. John Cornyn. He supported a different bill, that ended up being incorporated into VAWA, which he opposed.


Friday, March 08, 2013

Jokes, cinema, and guys not getting stuff.

Well, it's been awhile since Oscar Night '13, and I could have just not said anything and not completed that old saying about the fool successfully confirming the standing hypothesis...but what's the point of being a fool then?

Yes. Comedy! I've been meaning to say something on it for awhile now. It is hard to talk about. So I've avoided and procrastinated writing. Still, it is worthwhile to discuss.

Comedy can be many things, and be legit. It can be tame. It can be kind. It can be kid friendly. It can be edgy. It can be dark. It can be cruel. It can be horrible. It can true. It can be lies. It can be uncomfortable.

And as I see controversy arise from comedic events, comic sets, and jokes not well received, I keep seeing comics exasperatedly shrug (Not all, but many comics.). The comics see upset people and get upset back. They don't care the least for people not being able to "take a joke". And I can sympathize some. They are in a profession where they put themselves out, rely on being allowed to try out ideas, and challenge convention. So when they see alum getting booed or jeered for what they say, they can get uncomfortable.

And I do feel unsure when people say, "You can't joke about..." Because, I don't think so. You can joke about pretty much anything. You can do it badly, fail at it, turn an audience against you, but it's done. Worse, you can go into nasty areas that will sell. And there are many profitable areas that comics rely on that are just garbage. The go into generic mocking of women, gays, people of other races and ethnicity, etc. There is a treasure trove of crap that many subpar comedians rely on. So many club are full of this crap, and it males audience laughs... It's garbage, but it sells. And that does make me sad. Because it is shit, that helps support and affirm the worst slurs and views of whole groups. It's weak humor. Anemic.

Decent comedians should be embarrassed protecting this crude. And, frankly, if you want to do comedy that causes offense, or is controversial...You don't get to complain when people take offense or it's seen as controversial.

As well, if you want to say things that are controversial, don't be shit at it. People like George Carlin and Louis C.K. have gone to those places, and shown that they've thought about it, have something to say, and then share ideas. If you are not going to be putting that effort in, you're just going to point and mock. You are just going to be an ass.

And speaking of asses, let's suddenly pivot to the Oscars. WOOOOOOO!!!


Oh, god. I couldn't watch the whole show (How many hours are required?), but, from the half I saw and the clips later, that was horrible.

So what did Seth MacFarlane go with?

  • A song that broke down the careers of several respected actresses to their breast. (This included examples of rape scenes and one that comes from private photos being stolen and spread around.)
  • The idea that women who come to these events may throw up and do other unhealthy things to "look good" is a joke to throw out.
  • Using a 9 year old girl to make a weak joke about George Clooney's sex life. (And then he apologized...to Clooney.)
  • Broke down the concept of Zero Dark Thirty to the story of a nagging woman.
  • Breaking down Django Unchained to a Chris Brown/Rhianna joke.
  • Saying women like Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz are around to look beautful. (Cause you can't understand them with their weird foreign accents. Don't worry, he also mocked Javier Bardem for his accent to.)
  • Saying that Jennifer Aniston was once a stripper, mocking her and women who strip. And, just a random mean joke...

...But really they all were. It's the weak random crap we get in the Family Guys these days...Or maybe it's always been like this. But it was just shit.

Now, some have tried to say that this was all subversion. He just said nasty thing about women, and others, to make a point about...stuff. Yeah. He talks about women baring their bodies in movies, women vomiting to look thin, because he care. And then went on to judge all the women their based on their looks and sexual value to him and other men. Remember what I said above? Theirs smart and then theirs being an ass. He wasn't saying nasty things about groups because he has something to say about misogyny or racism, but because, with his main audience, it gets a laugh. He's a real Jeff Dunham.

But that was the point. The point of all of this was to make the Oscars a Guys Event. Why? ...I don't know. Why are they doing a Wizard of Oz movie about one of the nonheroes of the books? Cause guys are more important than women...As MacFarlane tried to explain with his hosting duties.

And as we all know, media and society is so unfair and leveled against us guys. Am I right?