In case you don’t get “privilege”…

…this short cartoon should clear it up for ya:

“On a Plate” from The Pencilsword by Toby Morris

Go ahead and read that and let me know if you have any questions.

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Ok The Onion, it’s your move now

There’s a spectacular bit on 30 Rock where Jenna gets upset that Weird Al parodies one of her songs. In an effort to prevent him from doing it again, she writes and performs a song so ridiculous, it can’t possibly be parodied:

Weird Al being Weird Al, he one-ups her and releases this gem:

Which is a long way of getting to the point: Can you believe this “Jade Helm 15″ nonsense? Jade Helm 15 is a military training operation in the southwestern part of the U.S. Some of the more…reality-challenged…folks have decided that this exercise is a precursor to a federal (or, somehow, Chinese) invasion of Texas.

No, really.

Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, has state militiamen keeping a watchful eye on the exercises because…well, damned if I know, but he seems really concerned about it. Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who thinks he’s the next Reagan*, has had his people asking questions at the Pentagon. Even Chuck Norris is warning people not to believe the military about these exercises. The rumors have gotten so out there that Walmart, that bastion of socialist anti-Americanism, has released a statement that there is no truth to the rumors that five recently closed stores have a network of tunnels under them and after that…who knows?

I’m a huge fan of “making fun of idiots”, but how can one adequately mock something like this? At this point, we’ve gone so far beyond parody that I wonder if even The Onion, in all of its satirical splendor, is up to the task of mocking these folks. Isn’t their best play to “Normal Al” these folks and release a credible, sensible story with no weird twists or jokes whatsoever?

* I suppose this means that he plans to raise taxes, give amnesty to illegal aliens, negotiate with terrorists, and actively arm Iran. You know, like Reagan did.

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What’s the conservative version of “mansplaining?”

In the battle to explain the riots over the indiscriminate killing of black people in terms which will appeal to conservatives, we have a new winner! Paul Ryan, step right up and show us what you got!

Because what you do when you stack up all these poverty programs on top of each other, we have this thing called the poverty trap, where we’re actually disincentivizing a person from getting on with their life and going to work. It pays not to take a risk to take a job to go out an prove your life because of the benefits your lose.

Yep, welfare is just. that. awesome. Or, I suppose you could put it another way: “Until employers pay a real living wage, people are actually better off on government assistance than working for said employers.” Gee, if you put it that way, it makes those God-like “job creators” look like assholes, doesn’t it?

I wouldn’t put it that other way, though, because “poverty” isn’t the problem: It’s police killing black people and getting away with it which suggests that non-black society is ok with this state of affairs. Talking about “poverty” may score points with Ryan’s owners, but it doesn’t come close to addressing the issue.

Ryan goes on to wax false-nostalgic about The American Dream:

“The American idea is that the condition of your birth doesn’t determine the outcome of your life. Anybody in this country can overcome their current circumstances and make a better life for themselves and their kids. We were taught believing that, [Republicans] believe that. There are a lot of people who don’t believe that.”

It’s not technically a lie, I suppose, but it’s misleading as all get-out. The condition of your birth doesn’t determine your outcome, but it can and usually does have a great deal to do with it. Anybody in the U.S. can overcome current circumstances, but it usually takes a great deal of good fortune; hard work alone ain’t nearly enough. Republicans are taught this because it makes the privileged people feel good about themselves. It makes them feel as though their privilege was something they earned, and, conversely, it lets them take a dump on people who weren’t fortunate enough to be born into privilege or didn’t hit the lottery by combining hard work and good fortune to better themselves.

The TL;DR? If you really believe that welfare is just too lucrative, then you probably ought to take a few moments to reconsider pretty much everything in your life.

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3 May is World Freedom of the Press Day

Thanks to there being a free press in the United States, no one can spin the events in Baltimore as being due to “the lack of fathers” or “the lack of a moral code.”  Well, some folks try, but the images and eyewitness accounts make them look foolish and racist.

My last post was a poorly-written mess, but the key point was that when someone tells you not to talk about something, they’re trying to control you and you should speak up. A free press is an expression of that same idea at a societal level. There are people and institutions who want people to believe that Baltimore is about something, anything other than a society that has, for decades, has tacitly accepted that law enforcement can kill black people with impunity. The fact that there’s a free press that won’t demure and shut up, that won’t politely say and do what they’re told, is vital to the truth getting out.

So, happy World Free Press Day everyone. Be grateful if you have a free press where you live, and if you don’t, fight for it.

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Realizing that my eyes have been shut and my mouth has been silent

I

When people tell you that it’s “not polite” to discuss something, or that you shouldn’t talk about “X”, they’re trying to control you. It took me a long time to recognize this, but once you see it, you can’t un-see it. Why is it impolite to talk about your salary? Because the people paying your salary don’t want their workers to discuss pay*. You’re not supposed to talk about politics or religion, not so much because they’re controversial, but because silence is a tacit acceptance of the status quo. For goodness’ sake, don’t ever talk about female sexuality because not because it’s rude, but because it’s a way of keeping women under control.

II

Here’s what I’ve been struggling with: It has recently become impossible to deny that, in the United States, the police can and do kill black people without any good reason to do so and those same police are extremely unlikely to be punished for doing so. I’m not going to list out all of the cases which have been captured on video and aired on television, but there are too many of them for me to pretend there isn’t a pattern.

That’s not what makes me sick, though. The thing that makes me sick is that we’re only seeing these things because of the fact that the means for recording these incidents have only recently become ubiquitous. So, I’m forced to ask myself: “Are these incidents a new thing which have only begun to happen at a time that coincides with the technology to record them, or have police always been killing black people and getting away with it because there is no recording of their actions?” It seems exceedingly unlikely to me that this sort of thing has only just started at the same time that people started recording police confrontations. It seems far, far more likely that all of the stories we have been hearing but unable to actally see were correct and that police have been killing black people in the United States with impunity.

It sickens me that I had to see it to “get” it. It sickens me to think that this has been going on for a long time and I never really considered how grave the situation was. It especially sickens me to hear people act as apologists for the police and try to tell people who are saying something about these killings that they are the ones who should shut up.

III

And then there’s good ol’ Rand Paul. The same guy who is concerned that the feds are planning to invade Texas (so, you know, he’s an authority on stuff) doesn’t think we should be discussing the causes of the rioting in Baltimore at this time:

“I think there’s a time and a place for talking about root causes, and I think in the middle of a riot, you’ve got to have safety and security and really that needs to be all that’s discussed in the interim.”

Of course, this didn’t stop Rand Paul from talking about what he felt are the root causes:

“Really, there are so many things we can talk about, not in the immediate aftermath but over time. The breakdown of the family structure, lack of fathers, lack of sort of a moral code in our society.”

Right. He can talk about root causes because he’s placing the blame squarely on the victims, but YOU can’t, because you might say something like “wait, isn’t the root cause something more like ‘police are killing black people and there are no repercussions?'”

As patronizing as Paul is, he really can’t hold a candle to Ted Cruz. Here’s President Obama’s statement:

“We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions. This has been a slow-rolling crisis. This has been going on for a long time. This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.”

The President’s statement strikes me as reasonable, measured, and not-especially-controversial. In short, it is true. Cruz’s response was to say that Obama shouldn’t criticize the police (warning-this is a Newsmax link, which seems appropriate for Cruz but it’s odious nonetheless):

“It is not beneficial to minority communities to vilify and target law enforcement.”

Of course not. How could it be possibly be a good thing for the victims of unwarranted killings to make the murderers out to be villains? Oh wait, no. That totally makes sense. Cruz is somehow making even less sense than when he said “Net Neutrality is Obamacare for the internet,” and that, my friends, is saying something.

IV

This is all a very long way of saying that ignoring the fact that police in the U.S. can and do kill black people with frightening regularity is not an option. And, when a couple of real assholes try to tell us not to talk about it and just accept whatever they tell us to accept, we need to keep talking and, if have to, shout, because these dudes are trying to shut us down for a reason.
P.S. It is very, very illegal in the U.S. for employers to try to prevent their employees from discussing their wages. Just sayin’…

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Burying the lede, South Dakota style!

You can die on Mars. Or, you can live in South Dakota.

The linked article discusses South Dakota’s public perception problem when it comes to attracting people and businesses to move to the state. The headline refers to the tag line they’ve come up with for their marketing campaign. It’s different, and I can see it being effective at getting folks’ attention. But, the most important part of the story appears almost three-quarters of the way in to the piece:

“One of our mantras for business is no state income tax,” Costello said. “That didn’t resonate with individuals. Individuals viewed that as maybe the state doesn’t have good education or fire protection or crime might be high or the park system not adequate. That was almost a quality of life deterrent.”

“No state income tax” wasn’t viewed as a positive and might have even been a negative. Let that one sink in. It’s certainly something I believe, but I’m surprised that “no state income tax” didn’t resonate with the population-at-large, a group who are almost certainly more conservative than I am. It almost brings a tear to my eye.

I submit that this is Very Bad News for the Grover Norquists of the world. If people recognize that taxes equal desirable services and infrastructure, then Norquist’s “drown the government in the bathtub” message is going to fall on deaf ears. This strikes me as a good thing.

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Rush-Rolling

You’re familiar with the Gish Gallop, right? In short, it’s a debate technique of burying your opponent in so many statements that they have no time to debunk each of them. It’s a pretty juvenile technique, but you see it pretty frequently when one party or the other has no legs on which to stand. Lists like the old,ridiculous “Bill Clinton death list” are printed examples of the same idea.

I’d like to submit a new name for a subset of the Gish Gallop, the Rush Roll. This technique, perfected by Mr. Limbaugh, is similar to a Gish Gallop but follows a very specific format:

1) Invent a “fact” out of thin air.

2) Draw a conclusion from the aforementioned fact that doesn’t follow.

3) Draw a parallel between that conclusion and something completely different.

4) Make a friendly aside to suggest that this is obvious and common sense to anyone hearing/reading this piece.

5) Make a batshit insane final conclusion which Godwins the entire thread.

If you’ve listened to Limbaugh for more than, say, five minutes, you’re familiar with his style. There’s a reason he doesn’t do debate or work with guests: His style only works if there’s a single, uninterrupted voice. Challenging him destroys him.

Today’s example of the “Rush Roll” comes courtesy of The Place Where Decency Went To Die, freerepublic.com.

Here, in all its glory, is a beautiful example of the Rush Roll:

Iran ALREADY has a Nuke ? America RETREATS in FEAR from Iran — Obama’s IMPEACHMENT if Revealed ?
Patton@Bastogne ^ | 2015-05-21 | Patton@Bastogne 

Posted on 4/21/2015, 7:22:58 PM by Patton@Bastogne

. 

In 2008 candidate “Barrack Hussein Obama” promised United States citizens that he would do anything possible to prevent the “clinically insane” Iranian Islamic State from obtaining a Nuclear Weapon.

================================ 

Would Obama finally “cross the red line” (Impeachment) with the America public … 

if Americans KNEW that Iran had successfully designed and tested (in North Korea) a nuclear device suitable for a missile launch ? 

AND a treasonous President Obama (and Iranian Islamic sympathizer vis-a-via Obama’s Iranian Chief of Staff Vallerie Jarret) … 

had BETRAYED and LIED to the American body politic ? 

================================ 

Is this the “clandestine military intelligence” that Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu shared with GOP Senate and House “leaders” Mitch McConnell and John Boehner prior to Netanyahu’s historic address to the U.S. Congress ? 

Why … exactly why … is the U.S. Military dancing in FEAR around Iran’s incredible military aggression in the Greater Middle East ? 

Was the U.S. Pentagon “compelled” to ALLOW Iranian forces into the very heart of Iraq, where 10,000 Americans soldiers bled and died ? 

Was President Obama’s “inept negotiation” of a “Joint Forces Agreement” for U.S. troops and airbases to stay in Iraq … 

a DIRECT RESULT of an Iranian threat to a launch nuclear strike against Baghdad ? 

Is this why Gen. Petraus was clearly “blackmailed” into resignation by the corrupt Obama administration ? 

================================ 

Gentle readers … WHY have ALL of America and our European allies have played a clearly foolish Dance of Appeasement with Iran over the last few years ? 

================================ 

History students of World War II have often speculated what would have happened if Nazi Germany had successfully developed (say in 1943) both a nuclear weapon and a mid-range V-Series ICBM. 

Then, instead of a messy Polish invasion in 1939, Nazi Germany could have started the war with a VICTORIUS nuclear attack against England (Manchester), France (Verdun), Russia (Leningrad) and Turkey (Ankara) … 

all launched on the same day. 

Nazi Germany would have NOT asked for these nations’ “Unconditional Surrender”. 

Instead … Hitler and Ribbentrop would have simply demanded ALL of North Africa, Jerusalem, the Suez Canal, all French colonies, and all of Poland, and of course, Soviet Russia’s Ukraine. 

================================ 

Americans, isn’t that EXACTLY what the West is doing with Iran RIGHT NOW ? 

Iran demands and annexes the Gaza Strip … 

Iran demands and annexes Iraq and Baghdad … 

Iran demands and annexes Syria … 

Iran demands and annexes Yemen … 

Meanwhile, America and the West argue loudly in public … but dance in abject surrender because the … 

United States fears Chicago being destroyed … 

Great Britain fears Manchester being destroyed … 

France fears Boudreaux being destroyed … 

Israel fears Tel Aviv being destroyed … 

Egypt fears Luxor being destroyed … 

================================ 

Have Iran’s “insane” Islamic Terrorist Mullahs LEARNED the LESSONS of NAZI GERMANY’s military defeat ? 

Are those miliraty lessons NOW being successfully used to bully the West in accepting Iranian rulership over the Greater Middle East ?

Patton gets bonus points for the gratuitous Cavuotos (asking a question instead of making a statement so he can have plausible deniability when called on his nonsense). It’s pretty impressive. The proposition, as I follow it is:

1. Iran already has nuclear bombs (not remotely true)

2. Therefore, Obama should be impeached (doesn’t follow from premise)

3. Iran is the same as Nazi Germany (huh?)

4. The Nazis would have won WW2 if they’d had nuclear weapons they never could have had and they would demanded other nations surrender their most valuable lands.

5. Therefore, that is what Iran is doing RIGHT NOW!

If I didn’t know better, I’d think ol’ Patton was trolling the Freepers. This post is so dumb, so poorly written, so ill-considered that it doesn’t border on self-parody; it violates those borders like….nope, not going to say it.

Anyway, I had to read this dumb thing, so I’m inflicting it on you now. This is “fun” for me. I’m probably a bad person, huh?

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Texas doesn’t seem to get that April fools jokes are supposed to be fictional

Our friends in the Lone Star State pride themselves on being small-government conservatives, so, naturally, they’re all for increasing the funding for a program which doesn’t work. They’re killing their HIV Prevention program (which is a good program) in order to free up more money for abstinence-only education. I’m not going to say that this is essentially a religious program. I’ll let Texas Representative Stuart Spitzer (R-Kaufman) say it for me:

“(My) goal is for everybody to be abstinent until they’re married.”

or, more succinctly:

“What’s good for me is good for a lot of people.”

So that’s really, the standard: ‘People should be like me’ and spending tax dollars to enforce this is a-o-k with Spitzer and his conservative brethren. Abstinence-only education doesn’t work (it also doesn’t increase negative results, so that’s good), but hey, who cares? Wasting state money is fine when we’re shoveling the money to The Right Sort Of People, if you know what I mean…

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Well, at least Obama gets points for answering the WaPo’s question promptly…

Yesterday, the Washington Post posed the question: Has Obama delivered the most transparent administration in history?  That’s a reasonable question given that the President promised to meet this mark when he was sworn in and this promise is prominently displayed on the White House web site. The Post does a nice job examining the evidence and, after some mealy-mouthed qualifications, determines that the answer is “No, but they’ve been better than most.”

Apparently, the President read this article and decided to forcefully respond only hours later….by summarily rejecting all FOIA requests of the executive branch and deleting them. Now, the President may well be acting within the bounds of the law on this, but if memory serves, he made kind of a big deal out of saying that there should be a presumption of openness with regards to all requests. In fact, I don’t have to rely on memory: Here’s the “Presidential Document.”

The WaPo gives him a bit of a pass, noting that the government is big and the bureaucracy is tough to wrangle, but you know what? President Obama knew that when he made the promise. And besides, if there’s any branch he can wrangle, it’s the executive. While I’m pleased to see him respond to the charges so quickly, I rather wish he hadn’t responded with two middle fingers extended.

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Today’s Double-Feature: Privilged Jerks and Redneck Pandering

Phew.

Reading the news does not put one in a good mood, does it? Today’s post is going to be all about racism and won’t have anything to do with the deeply disturbing about institutional racism in police forces. Ta da?

Instead, today I’m writing about how racism truly knows no bounds. You can be an atheist or a Christian, a liberal or a conservative, a celebrity or a, well, non-celebrity, and in this, the land of the free, you can create a stir by being a racist asshole.

We’ll start with Sean Penn. I know the Oscars were a few weeks ago, but he recently went on Bill Maher’s show to, well, basically to talk shit about anyone who said his joke was racist. Of course, his joke was racist: When the joke is about a person’s race (or nationality or religion or whatever) and not about the person, it’s a racist joke.

What really made my day was the way Bill Maher made Penn (and himself) out to be The Real Victim ™:

“I just feel we’re living in this country now where no one can make a joke. No one can have any nuance to what they say. We are just constantly hounded by the politically correct a*sholes out there who want to turn this country into a place that I don’t want to live in…”

Yeah, no…it’s not that “no one can make a joke;” it’s that, when you make a racist joke, people are going to react to it. You used to be able to get away with it, but that like sliver of privilege is slipping away. This is one of those asinine first amendment arguments where the guy wants his free speech and wants to silence the people who criticize his speech.

Speaking of people who can’t keep their arguments straight, have you heard about Arkansas internet country music sensation Jamie Jones? He recorded a song called “Pissed Off Rednecks” which is basically a laundry list of Tea Party gripes set to a country blues melody.

I’m not going to go too deeply into the lyrics. This isn’t a polemic designed to sway opinions or even a heartfelt declaration of beliefs; it’s an angry, incoherent, ditty designed to get clicks for a largely-unknown artist by pandering to a demographic that eats this stuff up. He wants his kids to be able to pray however they want, but if you’re a Muslim, you can just go home. He has the authority to say this because he’s a “real American.” He makes it clear that he doesn’t consider anyone who thinks differently him a member of that club.

On the off chance you want to see it for yourself, here ya go: Pissed Of Rednecks, the video!

Have you ever noticed how many people who call themselves “real Americans” really, really love America but can’t stand Americans?

 

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