Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hey you, shithead "pro-life" hypocrite!

You'll pardon my language for being a bit blue in light of this stunning news:

"Long a focus of national anti-abortion groups, including a summer-long protest in 1991, Tiller was shot in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church. Tiller's attorney, Dan Monnat, said Tiller's wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time.

The slaying of the 67-year-old doctor is 'an unspeakable tragedy,' his widow, four children and 10 grandchildren said in statement. 'This is particularly heart-wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace.'"

What. The. Fuck. Emphasis mine. In church. I have no doubt that God is thrilled with this news.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

NPR reminds us of the cost of not getting hitched

Impressively related to this earlier finger-wag at Michael Steele, and totally not in line with this blog's general ineptitude at tracking pop culture's zeitgeist, NPR has a classic reminder of the cost of not getting married, cf. Steele who claims gays getting married will cost small businesses, and that's why you should vote Republican (again, seriously??).

The cost of love isn't an abstract concept in my household: It's precisely $1,820 per year. That's the "gay tax" we shell out for me to be on my wife's health insurance plan, because her company must treat that benefit as additional taxable income.


Consider the cost to Randy Lewis-Kendall, who lost his husband, Rob, to colon cancer in 2007, their 30th year together. He is about to be denied the $1,161 per month he would have collected in Social Security survivor benefits had his marriage been federally recognized.


If you're in a same-sex marriage and your spouse leaves her estate to you — for example, the house you shared — you'll be forced to pony up as much as 50 percent of her estate's value in taxes. Price tag for federally recognized married couples? Zero.

So again, remind me how the cost of same-sex marriage is assessed to society? And, please, fill me in again on how not-marriage is equal to marriage and should be viewed as anything other than a shameful slap in the face like Plessy? Go on, Michael Steele. As a black man I'm sure you have some insight on that point.

I'm listening.

Republicans find drowning man, proclaim him savior, give him water (just in case he's thirsty)

Michael Steele probably shouldn't be leading the Republican Party:

"Republicans can reach a broader base by recasting gay marriage as an issue that could dent pocketbooks as small businesses spend more on health care and other benefits, GOP Chairman Michael Steele said Saturday.

Steele said that was just an example of how the party can retool its message to appeal to young voters and minorities without sacrificing core conservative principles. Steele said he used the argument weeks ago while chatting on a flight with a college student who described herself as fiscally conservative but socially liberal on issues like gay marriage.

'Now all of a sudden I've got someone who wasn't a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for,' Steele told Republicans at the state convention in traditionally conservative Georgia. 'So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money.'"

One, seriously?

Two, if the younger generations are largely supportive of gay couples and marrying them, then your political solution is to stop demonizing them, Michael Steele. Your progressive Republican values are simply trying to find a new way to hate on them and make-slash-keep gay 'unions' or WTF-ever separate and unequal. *bzzzt!* The correct 'new Republican' way to deal with gays, at least on a federal level, is to give up and leave the issue to the states. No "fag blood" / "AIDS blood" / put-your-favorite-offensive-saying here on your hands that way, and you can leave it to the state-level folk to explain why they love the 'mos :) You've simply gotta give up on the idea that the gays are your whipping boy. What vision. Talk about leading the Republican Party into the future!

Three, you all seriously have to give up on the Grover Norquist version of "fiscal conservativism". That has about zero traction right now and is just the most awesomest way to make it clear to the world you have no intention of being a team player; you all just want to be naysayers. The lady said she was fiscally conservative but that does not, implicitly or explicitly, mean that she is against any and all spending. And moreover, if she's not already against gay marriage, you've just alienated her by trying to reinforce discriminatory, artificial subclassing of people who are probably her friends. Also, excellent vision.

Y'all need to work on A) coming up with new ideas that invigorate voters, and B) not alienate the new voters who are ripe for the picking. When the economy's in the crapper, people seriously couldn't care less about your quickly-becoming-antiquated social values. They care about having a job, putting food on the table, and whether or not they can pay the doctor's bill. Trying to squish the gays in there as a legacy plank in the platform is silly, unnecessary, and insulting (I would think both to homos and to hicks), so seriously, get over it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A little partisanship cures all your budget woes...

To be fair, it's not like I expected anything different. But it's so disheartening to have elected officials who refuse to handle the fiduciary matters we hired them to do, instead deflecting the question back to the utterly uninformed masses, and the best the political establishment can come up with to help us sort this out is transparent, unabashed partisanship.

Direct democracy, which is what Props 1A-1F are, doesn't offend me prima facie. The success of direct democracy, however, hinges (almost) entirely on a well-informed, participatory electorate. I vote every chance I get and I love reading ballot propositions and discussing the pros and cons with my fellow citizens, and I tell you what -- even I can't find a damn bit of good, straightforward information on what's going on with these proposals. As best I can tell, the "public information" campaigns are essentially presenting the same information ("we're fucked") while coming to precisely opposite conclusions ("so vote (yes | no) on election day").

Naturally, one place one might turn to look, in ceding a bit of electoral independence, is to some sort of prominent proxy institution like the political parties. But literally all you get there are arguments of definition by opposition:

"Republicans have been pushing for state spending caps around the country, and it made no sense for us to welcome one here when Democrats have been fighting them everywhere else."

Get that? Republicans like this, and we're not Republicans, so we don't like this. How nuanced.

"Whatever way the vote goes on the propositions, we can't let it break up our solidarity of the Democratic Party," he said in a speech before the voting.

Party first, comrades.

"Prop. 1A was the ransom (Democratic legislative leaders) were forced to pay to the Republican minority," said Taiz. "Prop. 1A flies in the face of core Democratic values and forces us to live the Republican dream."

My team good. Your team bad. There's no information here; just saying "it's a Republican idea therefore it's bad" is about the worst kind of information out there; if anything it's making the public less well-informed because they think they know which team they're playing for, but they still have no idea what they're voting on. Even the Chron's synopsis of the measures is horrid:

Prop. 1A: Caps future state spending, increases the state's rainy day fund and triggers $16 billion in tax extensions.

Prop. 1B: Provides $9.3 billion in new school funding, but only if Prop. 1A also passes.

Prop. 1C: Modernizes the state lottery and allows the state to borrow up to $5 billion against future lottery revenues.

Prop. 1D: Moves $600 million in 1998's Prop. 10 tobacco tax money to the general fund to help balance the budget.

Prop. 1E: Moves $450 million over two years from 2004's Prop. 63 mental health money to the state's general fund.

Prop. 1F: Bars raises for government officials in deficit years.

What does all this mean?! Help!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Baby snail

Found him on my rosemary bush this morning!

UPDATE: According to this, snails hate highly aromatic herbs. Which explains why I found this guy on my rosemary bush, right next to my explosively-growing lavender... Hmf.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bringing American freedom to Iraq

I guess the Bush administration can count this among their successes of bringing the American way of life to Iraq:

A shadowy group has posted signs around the Iraqi capital's main Shiite working-class district of Sadr City naming alleged homosexuals on a list and threatening to kill them.

"We will punish you, perverts," the posters say.

And I know, I know, it's not fair to a lot of people to say that America is that harsh on gays, but in so many ways, it is. There are extreme examples and less extreme examples, but ultimately I don't see how close you have to get to the issue before it looks like there's not a fundamental underpinning of "we don't like you and you're not welcome here" to the whole thing.

Also, "puppies" (first link above) is about the coolest slang term for 'you homos' in history. American gays might get some traction with a little Lakovian reframing, eschewing "queers" or "fags" for "puppies". Who doesn't like puppies?!

Credit: Pirate Scott, Creative Commons (Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Conservatives love teabagging

UPDATE: I was gonna stay away from the obvious, sophomoric teabag humor, but when I saw that, indeed, they teabagged the Wabash, I'm sorry, but you freakin' asked for it.

No doubt -- I'm away from the TV but I have no doubt -- there's much excitement in the conservative punditsphere over the apparent populist uprising taking place against taxes, which the conservative punditsphere doesn't bother to differentiate from "big" (i.e., wasteful) government. I'm with MSNBC on this little family dispute:

[CNBC's tantrum-throwing NYSE floor reporter Rick Santelli] also said despite the claims from others in the media, including people at CNBC’s sister network MSNBC, calling the movement “Astroturf,” Santelli declared it a grassroots movement.

“I think from a grassroots standpoint, I’m sure some of the media out there is not going to peg it that way, but isn’t it about as American as it gets – for people to roll their strollers and make their signs and go voice their opinion about the direction of the country?” Santelli said. “Good, bad or indifferent – that’s a great thing. There’s not a lot of countries, of course, that afford their people that, that type of right. It’s a great thing.”

Yes, why on earth would 'some media out there' not call this 'grassroots' effort grassroots? Because, quite simply, 'Astroturf' is what this is:

The tea parties were promoted by FreedomWorks, a conservative nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington and led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, a lobbyist whose corporate clients including Verizon, Raytheon, liquor maker Diageo, CarMax and drug company Sanofi Pasteur.

That, people, is not a grassroots, populist uprising. That is an uprising brought to you and underwritten by big business and big government. That is not the peasants sharpening their pitchforks, it's pawns being played in the game. It's simulacrum. Well, and to be fair, it's very effective politics. The slick political insiders convinced the peasants to do the insiders' bidding while convincing the peasants that it was their own idea; and that it is for their own good. Deceptive, but incredibly effective. Or in other words, the usual old-guard Republican game.