It’s no wonder Republicans can’t manage a big tent. They can’t even handle an umbrella.
I believe in the Second Amendment, and it is long past time we set up that “well-regulated militia.” Here is my proposal:
If you want a gun, you become a citizen soldier. You undergo a full background check to enlist and a gun training course before getting your weapon. You are required to report on one day every three months for target practice and gun safety refreshers. Your weapon is kept, by law, under lock and key in a proper container, and all ammo is allotted and accounted for. Any misuse of your weapon, or lack of care in securing it, will be grounds for suspension from duty and confiscation of all weapons.
Possession of an unlicensed firearm is a crime with a mandatory one year sentence in prison, with escalating higher sentences for military grade weaponry. Convicted criminals in general receive an additional ten years in prison, on top of their sentence, if firearms are involved in their crimes.
For your service, you are authorized one sidearm and/or one single action rifle, which you will buy with your own funds. Further weapon authorizations may be allowed for sporting or collecting purposes, though responsibility for gun and ammo security and accountability will be the same as for your primary weapons, and further training may be required. You are required to keep an established minimum amount of ammunition in your possession for preparedness purposes, with a maximum amount of ammunition allowed. You are responsible for providing your own ammunition, both for training and purposes of readiness.
In the event your service is needed for public safety, law enforcement backup, or domestic military purposes, you can be called up at any time by your militia superiors. Employers are required to honor your militia commitment just as they would were you serving in the National Guard. During training, and when called up, you will be paid a stipend based on the current minimum wage, with additional bonuses for hazardous duty.
The militia, being constitutionally mandated, will be a federal organization.
A couple of days ago, Barack Obama won his second term as President of the United States, bringing a welcome end to an interminable campaign season, allowing those of us who supported him to relax and breathe easy for a while.
I’m happy things turned out as they did, because overall Obama has been a good president. He might already be a great one had he not been constantly, stupidly obstructed by the most disloyal opposition in American history, had he aimed higher on the things he did manage like healthcare reform, and had he the spine and integrity to actually disavow the more fascistic tendencies of the Bush administration rather than embracing and exceeding them.
I hope now, with the need to worry about the next election out of the way, President Obama will step us his game and act boldly and decisively to make the changes we need as a country. I don’t doubt his ability to do so, only his resolve. He has greatness in him, now he must cultivate it.
After winning like this, it’s easy to gloat. Schadenfreude is a wickedly tasty treat, especially when the other side has relentlessly attacked your freedoms, your patriotism, even your value as a human being. I have literally seen some folks turn on a dime, going from “You are a stupid, ungodly, un-American, traitorous abomination” to “It’s not classy to gloat like that.” So if my relief at winning over people like that is a bit high-handed at times, I can forgive myself.
But my thoughts turn to my many friends, and even my enemies, on the right. I’m glad they lost, certainly, but it’s not entirely for my own benefit. I’m glad they lost for their benefit as well, though they won’t agree, and many of them won’t even be able to see through their grotty filters well enough to understand that I wish them well and hope for the best for all of us. I care about them. I respect them, or at least those who haven’t thrown away any right to respect (like any of them who calls Barack Obama a nigger, for example). And I, and most of us progressives, actually want to work with them towards the common good. Obama wants to, and last time they turned his sincere desire to reach across the aisle into a tactical failing. I hope, after the message they were just sent by the American people, the conservatives in congress accept a working relationship with the president this time instead of holding their breath until, as it turns out, the country turns blue.
So, Casey, could you please play “Land of Hope and Dreams” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for my friends on the right? I hope they’ll leave behind their sorrows, let this day be the last, tomorrow there’ll be sunshine, and all this darkness past…big wheels roll through fields, where sunlight streams, and we can all meet in a land of hope and dreams…
Tim in Decatur
Tim, here’s your song. I hope your friends take this opportunity to reevaluate things, and that for the next four years and beyond, all of us can start actually working together toward solutions that help us all. And remember, we all need to keep our feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars…
Don’t you wish you knew this woman personally?
She’s upset that people don’t share her videos, so here you go. Depending on how you voted, you may enjoy this as schadenfreude (I certainly do) or you may find it cathartic. Or appalling.
UPDATE: Apparently, the crazy harpy is Shelly Dankert of Nebraska. Read more here, I highly recommend it. She spends a great deal of time on the internet railing against socialist Obama, but also has financial problems and begs for donations “to buy food” on her blog. As commenter “pdxwhy” on Gawker put it:
What really gets me is that she says she got a computer only 4 years ago, and it took her a while to use it. So she put all her considerable energy into developing blog sites and videos…against President Obama. Not starting her business, not making money (like many of bootstrapping conservatives that I happen to know) not doing anything particularly constructive for the conservative movement, like networking with other conservative women and helping her community. How sad is she. Sad.
The embedding is disabled, so to watch it you’ll need to click through and watch it on YouTube.
There’s a sickness creeping up on us. Grab your brain, your heart, your soul, and help us beat it back.
Vote Obama. Vote Democrat. Give in to your higher angels, not your petty demons.
I don’t want to be a member of a political party.
I don’t like political parties. I don’t like group think. I don’t like homogenization of the idea pool. I don’t like the us vs. them mentality.
If we must have parties, I’d like more of them, so more views can be represented. The either/or dynamics of American politics are a travesty and a crime against our country and its people.
This doesn’t mean, however, that I think there is no meaningful difference between the parties. On the contrary, there are huge fucking differences between them, staggering differences, life and death differences.
There are foundational things that are similar between the parties, of course. Both are beholden to big monied interests, because we have allowed the system to mutate into a black hole of cash, and to attain and hold power in the current political ecosystem, you need a hell of a lot of money. The Democrats, at least, try to wean us from the teat. The Republicans insist that money should flow freely in all directions, that money is speech and corporations are people, that even foreign cash from anonymous donors should be allowed into our elections. If it pulls in money for them or their masters, the GOP doesn’t care what the source is.
In my younger days, I used to nobly proclaim that I would always disregard party politics and vote for the “best man.” But you just can’t do that. It’s not that there are no best men or women, it’s that they are still so much a part of the current ecosystem that even they are ultimately soldiers for their parties. You cannot disregard the fact that every member of a party who holds office boosts the power of the party as an organism. Your congressperson may be Thomas Jefferson by way of Clark Kent, but if his winning his seat helps put a maleficent party in control of Congress, he should not win.
The sad truth of the moment is that in any race I can vote on, I will vote for the Democrat. This is not because I consider myself a Democrat, though my personal values don’t diverge hugely from the general Democratic views. It is because I am most devotedly not a Republican. That party has become such a corruption of everything our country is supposed to stand for that I have to vote for whatever stands in its way most effectively. In our binary party system, that means voting Democrat.
I generally like Barack Obama. I have huge issues with him on some things, and even in areas I agree with him, like healthcare, I’m disappointed in the way he has often started the fight by jettisoning options before they can be debated, thus giving in to resistance from the right before it even manifests. But, still, I think he’s a good man, a well-meaning man, and in this instance indisputably the “best” man of the two with a shot at the title.
I see nothing to admire or like about Mitt Romney. He is as politically craven as any politician I have ever seen, standing for nothing but whatever makes him look good to whoever is standing right in front of him right this second. He has no actual ideas, no solutions. He makes promises, then refuses to even make an effort to at least look like he has any specific ideas about how to fulfill them. This is the guy who has actually said “ask me how I’ll do it after the election.” And his running mate has explained that their plan would take too much time to explain. How anyone can see leadership in this protean, compassionless, power-hungry android is beyond me.
Last week, I shared a series of excerpts from an exceptional blog post by “David,” no last name offered, a political historian. It’s called “Why I Will Not Be Voting Republican For The Foreseeable Future,” and David writes intelligently, at length, offering point after point of solid reasons for not supporting any GOP candidate, for any office, in the current political ecosystem. I agree with pretty much everything he says, and when I posted the bits I posted, I got absolutely no feedback from my Republican friends (and I have many, who are not slow to pick at my political posts). I think that’s because David presents his argument so well that they had nothing to offer against it. So they retreated into the cognitive dissonance which allows them to continue supporting this festering infection of a party and let my posts sit unassailed.
And I do think that it’s cognitive dissonance, because many of these people are quite intelligent and thoughtful. I think they just have their issues, economic or social, and they have traditionally supported the GOP, and still see it as their team, even though it really does not actually stand for the things it claims, and which they still value. Of course, that may be my particular cognitive dissonance, that I give them credit enough that I think they’re deluding themselves. Maybe they really recognize what their party is now, and they support it. I don’t like that thought, because I don’t like what it makes me think of them.
I highly recommend reading David’s post, whether you are on the left or the right. And I welcome any dissenting commentary, because I’m interested in seeing if any of you on the right can actually offer a good rebuttal to the things he has to say.
As we enter the final lap of the presidential race, my mind is even more on matters political than usual.
That’s saying something, because I think about politics year round, every year. It’s not that I enjoy politics, because I really don’t. It’s just that they’re important, especially when we have only two parties, with power fairly evenly split between them, and one of those parties is on a fairly constant warpath to ruin everything we’ve accomplished in the past couple of centuries. That party, if you are dense, corrupt, and/or uninformed, is the Republican party.
On the other hand, the Republican party has almost simplified the job of being an informed citizen in America. Once upon a time, issues had to be parsed carefully, and details debated, and the calculus of conscience exercised. But in the past couple of decades, the GOP has arguably made that sort of effort pointless. Now, you can plot a pretty accurate course by just looking at a candidate or an issue and asking “Are the Republicans for him/her/it?” If the answer is “Yes,” odds are you need to be against him/her/it. Unless, of course, you’re filthy rich and don’t care what happens to other people, or you’re a religious nut who cares way too much what other people are doing and thinking.
This isn’t to say the Democrats are anything near what they should be, but if voting for a Democrat is like inviting a friend into your house who doesn’t like your dog, voting for a Republican is like inviting a crazy hobo with a machete in who promises to kill it and steal all your stuff.
If you argue that both parties are the same, you’re either what they call a low-information voter, too lazy or apathetic to actually pay attention to anything beyond the most superficial available information (Romney was more talkative than Obama in that debate, that must mean he’s a better candidate!), or you’re so naive and/or cynical that you’ve removed yourself to the wilderness of inaction or protest voting. When I see someone cockily post that, in their most wise opinion, it won’t matter who wins, I’m not impressed by their lack of awareness or their world-weary individualism; it’s kind of like watching someone try to eat soup with their fingers.
There is no perfect candidate. There are astronomically different levels of imperfect candidates, though.
Anyway, I come not to praise Democrats, nor to bury Republicans. Rather, in my next post, I want to offer up some ideas I think would greatly improve how our esteemed republic functions, and possibly save it from itself.
Or, rather, from us.
UPDATE: Bit off more than I can chew at the moment, so I guess saving America will have to wait. Maybe after November, when I know whether we’re still moving at least somewhat forward with Obama, or just saying “Fuck it” with a Romney presidency…
I’m usually annoyed when someone pulls out the “male gaze” concept in a discussion of art and culture. While the idea has undeniable merit, it is often wielded as a bludgeon of ABSOLUTE TRUTH. In other words, men like looking at sexy women and it ruins the world, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.
I happen to think that much of this sort of thing has its roots in the innate differences in men’s and women’s cognitive wiring. That doesn’t mean we should just accept the baseline set by our neurology as the sole standard to consider, but it does mean that there’s probably nothing wrong with men liking to look at sexy women, or vice versa, or even having art that caters to such desire.
Still, just as we aspire to more than simple orgasm in our relationships, we should aspire to higher levels of cultural relationship as well. At the very least, we should think about these things, and consider how the ways that we think and create impact the way we relate to each other.
Author Kate Elliott has written a very balanced, thoughtful post considering the male gaze (and other gazes) in fiction, and I recommend it for everyone, but particularly for writers. She avoids the fanatic’s tendency to use the concept as a blanket condemnation of men and their wicked staring eyes, which I appreciate as a man with a finely tuned male gaze of my own, and shares some insights I’ve never considered. I’m a better person, and likely a better writer, for having read it.
You can read it here.
So, this happened in my Facebook feed this morning.
Sabrina was classy enough to delete the comment, no doubt not wanting her wall polluted with such hateful filth. But I like casting bright light at roaches like these when they scurry out of the shadows.
Meanwhile, when a friend from high school posted a link yesterday to some “satire” about the Democratic National Convention which was low on wit and high on racist commentary, I commented saying exactly that. Now that “friend” has vanished from my friends list and even blocked me entirely. I guess I struck a nerve.
It’s all about the cookies this week…
First, this isn’t a song, but it is the funniest damn thing I’ve seen in a couple or three weeks on the internet. I’ve probably watched it twenty or more times and I always laugh:
Our actual song this week I offer in honor of the Republican National Convention currently infesting Tampa, “God’s Away On Business” by Tom Waits, karaoked by Cookie Monster…
I’d sell your heart to the junkman baby
For a buck, for a buck…
If you’re looking for someone to pull you out of that ditch
You’re out of luck, you’re out of luck…
If you refuse to vote because “both parties are the same” and “it makes no difference who you vote for” all you’re really saying is you’re just going to bitch until society crumbles and rebuilds in a more perfect form.
Good luck with that. I’d rather claw forward and embrace any progress we can make. Better to be a warrior for change than a sour scold watching things crumble and offering only bile.
Also, if you think both parties are the same, you’re sort of an idiot. Both parties have fundamental problems in common, but their agendas in a lot of vital areas are very different. While in many ways it’s true that they are just two sides of the same coin…
The coin is Harvey Dent’s.
Harvey Dent is the government. He started out as an idealist, but was deeply damaged and corrupted, though his more noble nature still exists in him, at war with his darker, more violent side. How he acts, good or bad, is decided by the toss of a coin, a force outside of himself, our elections.
The coin has two faces, the two parties, and Dent will choose to be “good” or “bad” according to which comes up on the toss. Now, for the most part, “good” is less a matter of taking beneficial action than it is of not taking maleficent action, though that’s not an absolute; sometimes Dent will go out of his way to do good things if the coin toss dictates he do so.
He will never do good things if the bad side of the coin comes up. For the record, in this analogy, the bad side is the Republican party. Perhaps at one time their face was noble, but they have scribbled and scratched so maniacally at it over the years that almost nothing of their original nobility remains. (And through unethical and undemocratic actions like vote suppression, they’re busily trying to scratch up the other side of the coin, too, so they’ll always win the toss).
Would it be better to not have Harvey Dent as our government? In realistic terms, with power and greed and human nature being what they are, in a representational system is it possible to not have Harvey Dent as our government?
It would be better to have someone incorruptible, someone who does not do bad things to advance his own desires, someone who will always look out for his fellow man. But I don’t see that guy anywhere, and don’t expect to. Maybe he’s still on Krypton.
We have Harvey. And the coin. And the way it falls may not make the world perfect or imperfect, but it can make the difference between whether Dent shoots us in the head or not.
Dear CIA and Fearstream Media,
I am a wacko and an idiot and I have a lot of weapons training. You should be relieved that I am no longer in a position of influence within the military, but you should probably start watching me very closely anyway because I might snap at any moment and guns and other murderous equipment are very easy to get in our wonderful country.
Crazy Eye Dude
So I lost another friend on Facebook.
He’s a writer, and a fellow pulp fan, and I’d enjoyed knowing and occasionally interacting with him. I liked seeing what he had to say, and what he had going on.
I knew he was a conservative, while I am not. The fact that he holds to certain ideas didn’t make me think less of him as a person, it just made me wonder how he could reconcile those ideas with observable reality. But we all have our filters and our failings and our blindnesses, and I hoped that he, and the many other right-wing friends I have, wouldn’t allow disagreement with ideas to lead to discord between us as people. That has happened, of course, and people have fled my friends list over such issues, and even issues more trivial. The game writer S. John Ross unfriended me and actually blocked me on Facebook for a single polite comment disagreeing with his opinion of Johnny Cash. Talk about the courage of your convictions.
My attitude is usually that a friend lost in this way is no friend worth having, and I tend to operate on the principle of “If I offend you, that probably just makes us even.”
But anyway, I hadn’t seen anything from this friend for a while, and I grew concerned that maybe he was having health problems or something. So I visited his page, where I found that we were no longer friends. I naturally suspected the reasons for this, but I sent him a message and asked why he’d unfriended me, telling him that if I had offended him it hadn’t been because I intended to.
This was his response: Continue reading
I just read “The problem with slut-bashing (or: I was a teenage dinner whore. kidding.),” a wonderful blog post by Justine Musk on sexual politics and language. You should check it out.
Here’s a piece:
In her book THE ART OF WAR FOR WOMEN, Chin-ning Chu writes:
“Women seem to have fallen prey to something I call the crabs-in-the-pot syndrome. When you cook crabs, you don’t have to place the lid on the boiling pot because the crabs keep one another from getting out. As one crab gets near the top and attempts to climb over the edge, another crab will naturally put it down in its own attempt to escape. As a result, all the crabs go to their collective doom.”
This is the problem whenever a woman defends herself by saying “I am not a slut.”
By declaring that you are not a slut, you are saying that some women are sluts; you are drawing a line between yourself and them. Except it’s a line that can’t actually exist, because all it does is reinforce the very idea that you’re trying to fight.
As soon as you buy into a reality that brands any woman a ‘slut’, you buy into a belief system that attacks femalehood itself. This includes you. You sacrifice someone else in your effort to escape the boiling water, but you can’t get out of the pot.
See that picture up there? That’s representative of the good that the organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) does in the world. When it comes to providing cleverly staged fap-material of celebrities, they’re very good.
Know what they’re also good at? Picking ridiculous battles, like trumpeting that Fishkill, New York should change the name of its town because the name was mean to fish. They are extremists, raging at humans for killing animals, eating animals, using animal products, training animals, exhibiting animals, even keeping animals for pets. They make a hell of a lot of money from people who contribute to their coffers because they simply equate PETA with, well, ethical treatment of animals. You know, kindness. Saving animal lives. That sort of thing.
But PETA are huge fucking hypocrites.
And they’re responsible for the cold-blooded slaughter of thousands of animals entrusted to them by people who don’t know any better.
A few weeks ago, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom reported that PETA slaughtered 96% of the stray dogs and cats it, ahem, rescued last year. Since 2005, PETA has killed over 90% of the animals delivered into its care. Since 1998, PETA has killed nearly 28,000 animals. As reported in the New York Post:
In 2010, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services discovered that fully 84 percent of the strays taken in by PETA were killed within 24 hours.
No wonder: The report concluded that PETA’s headquarters “does not contain sufficient animal enclosures to routinely house the number of animals annually reported as taken into custody.”
So, off they go to the gas chamber.
See? PETA sucks. Don’t give them any money. You can get a lot more info at the website www.petakillsanimals.com.
A great bit of political reportage from novelist Lucius Shepard:
Watching the GOP debate yesterday I had the idea that I was watching a Nostradamus prophecy coming true, these four evil fucks blithely discussing the ripping away of entitlements, like the four heads of some Hydra-esque creature, the subject of a quatrain that begins, When the four-headed beast rises in the west, pus will burst from the eyes of the populace. It was an amazing scene. John King lobbing questions like gobbets of fat and these monstrosities lazily plucking them out of the air and swallowing them, then regurgitating a processed answer…all except the dimwitted Ron Paul, who seemed constantly on the verge of cackling and bursting into flames, an itchy little demon whose mouth outsped his brain. And the audience…tanned, corpulent lesser imps and imp-ettes. Jesus. Like a scene from the Middle Ages.
If you have any interest in politics, religion, and how they mix, you should read this very thoughtful, well-researched column by my friend Kallan Kennedy:
Chuck Norris is a dingleberry on the ass of cinema and a toxic boil of a man.
I’ve blogged about this before, in which I grumped about the Chuck Norris jokes that are so widespread, aggrandizing a man who in no way deserves it, and I offered up my own Chuck Norris jokes to replace them.
I just updated that post with new jokes. You can read ‘em all here.
Newt. Fucking. Gingrich.
This is how bad things have gotten.
I think it’s time to revisit a post I did a while back. It’s primarily about lies in politics, but has a good amount of information about Gingrich specifically that most people aren’t aware of. I’m pretty proud of this piece: