WTF, UK, WTF?

A fellow ‘celebrated’ Remembrance Day (aka Armistice Day aka as the end of WWI) by burning a poppy, the symbol of the day, and posting a photo to facebook. This seems to be a free speech issue to me; aren’t we supposed to be allowed to harmlessly criticize practices and ideas? And being allowed to destroy a symbol that you own seems an entirely reasonable freedom. The UK police don’t think that way: the man has been arrested for making a “malicious communication”, whatever that is.

You know what this means? We’re all going to have to post that trivial photo of a burning poppy everywhere.

That’s at the very least. If you’ve got a box full of fake paper flowers and a flamethrower, you know what to do.

As long as you aren’t harming anyone, committing harassment, or otherwise forcing people to pay attention to your sacrilegious activities, you should be free to speak out and demonstrate against anything you object to. Dropping by the VFW and setting fire to their stock of poppies? No, arrest people who do that. Buying a poppy from the VFW, taking it home, and destroying it? You should have every right to do that.

I’m just curious — aren’t the British police going to be really busy this week, checking out everyone’s trash cans and arresting all the people who threw out the poppies they bought to celebrate Remembrance Day? Apparently, you’re supposed to preserve those things forever, and with great reverence.

Voting while brown

Ah, those Republican poll watchers: here’s one phoning in his report on the election.

People were orderly and polite, they were helpful to one another but not to the point of electioneering, but uh-oh, there sure were a lot of non-white people exercising their rights. Just the existence of brown people voting was grounds for suspicion.

It never seems to have crossed his mind that maybe at an open civic function in which all people have an interest, he might see a different group of people than he’d find on the golf course at his country club.

Tin soldier

The recent Petraeus scandal has me divided: I think it’s absurd that we and the press are so sensitive to sex scandals, scandals that are really only the concern of the people and families involved in them, and except where they are hurting other people or perpetuating inequities, I really don’t give a damn where some politician or celebrity is putting their penis. So I’m a bit appalled at the sleazy gawking at some guy’s train wreck of a personal life.

But on the other hand, the press given to Petraeus has been embarrassingly fawning — they’ve treated him like Apollo brought crashing to earth, and as if they just want to put the hero back on his pedestal. There is far too much soldier-worship in this country: I can respect the work and sacrifice of soldiers defending our country, but it does not make them greater than the teachers who educate our children or the firefighters who protect our homes or any other occupation that requires hard work and dedication to accomplish well. And as we know from recent experience, military training does not necessarily make one wiser and a better advisor on how to apply military force.

So I was very happy to see Glenn Greenwald summarize the real story here so well.

it is truly remarkable what ends people’s careers in Washington – and what does not end them. As Hastings detailed in that interview, Petraeus has left a string of failures and even scandals behind him: a disastrous Iraqi training program, a worsening of the war in Afghanistan since he ran it, the attempt to convert the CIA into principally a para-military force, the series of misleading statements about the Benghazi attack and the revealed large CIA presence in Libya. To that one could add the constant killing of innocent people in the Muslim world without a whiff of due process, transparency or oversight.

Oh, for a media that actually questioned the powerful and how they exercise that power.

They just weren’t misogynist enough or racist enough to win

I’m feeling so frustrated: I’m buried in work right now (and hey, Skepticon this weekend!), but after the election, it’s a target rich environment for whiny far right conservatives making excuses for their defeat. And I don’t have time to look at them all, let alone savor the schadenfreude. But here’s one that’s got all the sexist and racist tropes Republicans love, and it was on Christian Men’s Defense Network, a blog that is now playing turtle as people point and laugh at it, so you might also try this link if the cached version is gone.

we should have known how the leftists in the media and the Obama campaign (redundant, I know) intended to define the campaign. Because on radio ads, on TV, and on the web, the Democrats tried to make this election about a single issue:

The right to slut.

Or more precisely, the right to slut without the responsibility of consequences. The famous “gender gap” isn’t really a gap based on gender. The right overwhelmingly wins older and married women. The “gender gap” should more accurately be called the slut vote.

I think he just called all the women who voted for Obama “sluts”. Note also how he casually slid in another excuse: the media is all synonymous with the Obama campaign, never mind that Fox News…screw it, we can just end the sentence like that, FOX NEWS, period. Argument refuted. I could also make the case that none of the other networks are exactly liberal.

But wait, this guy isn’t done. It’s not enough to just blame the election on slutty women, he’s also got to make the racist argument.

Contrary to common belief, the primary reason the Democrats own the black vote has nothing to do with civil rights. The Democrats were only partially supportive of civil rights in the 60′s (with southern Democrats advocating “segregation forever”). Lincoln was a Republican, and Republicans in the House and Senate voted for civil rights legislation in the 60s.

Rather, Democrats have won the black vote because the black community is dominated by illegitimacy, and the Democrats are willing to subsidize and support that illegitimacy (as well as provide access to cheap abortions) so as to take away from sluts the consequences of their actions. Consequently, young black people grow up on the dole and not only never realize there might be something wrong with that, but eventually come to believe that’s the way it should be. The Democrats have won the black vote by first “empowering” single black mothers.

Raise your hands if you think the Republicans will learn from their loss and realize that this is an attitude that needs to be repudiated. I predict that in 2016 these losers will be the core of the Republican base, still, and they’ll do little more than try to cloak the more overt expressions of sexism and racism in yet more dog whistles.

Oh, that wasn’t enough demented thuggery for you? Here’s a bracing and NSFW video if you’ve got 20 minutes to spare.


Want more amusement? See Conor Friedersdorf tear into conservative illusions, all promoted by their favorite pundits…who all led their party into the wilderness with bad information.

In conservative fantasy-land, Richard Nixon was a champion of ideological conservatism, tax cuts are the only way to raise revenue, adding neoconservatives to a foreign-policy team reassures American voters, Benghazi was a winning campaign issue, Clint Eastwood’s convention speech was a brilliant triumph, and Obama’s America is a place where black kids can beat up white kids with impunity. Most conservative pundits know better than this nonsense — not that they speak up against it. They see criticizing their own side as a sign of disloyalty. I see a coalition that has lost all perspective, partly because there’s no cost to broadcasting or publishing inane bullshit. In fact, it’s often very profitable. A lot of cynical people have gotten rich broadcasting and publishing red meat for movement conservative consumption.

On the biggest political story of the year, the conservative media just
got its ass handed to it by the mainstream media. And movement conservatives, who believe the MSM is more biased and less rigorous than their alternatives, have no way to explain how their trusted outlets got it wrong, while the New York Times got it right. Hint: The Times hired the most rigorous forecaster it could find.

It ought to be an eye-opening moment.

But I expect that it’ll be quickly forgotten…

This might just be my favorite result from yesterday

There’s so much opportunity for sweet, sweet schadenfreude coming out of yesterday’s electoral results, from the Big News about Romney losing to local things like Sonny Bono’s widow getting edged out by a progressive Latino physician, thus flipping the Coachella Valley House seat to a non-Republican for the first time since the Reagan Administration. But this one’s my favorite:

California Democrats appear to have picked up a supermajority in both houses of the state Legislature Tuesday night, a surprise outcome that gives the party the ability to unilaterally raise taxes and leaves Republicans essentially irrelevant in Sacramento.

I first moved to California in 1982, just four years into the Great Reign of Stupidity launched when the state’s voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978. Prop 13 was (and is) politically popular due to its strictly limiting property tax increases on residential properties. Since 1978 any criticism of the measure is taken as demanding old people be taxed out of their homes, and thus it’s become a third rail in California politics.

But the measure also did two other things:

  1. It likewise capped property taxes on corporate properties;
  2. It enacted a two-thirds supermajority requirement for any tax increase passed in the state legislature.

Since then, especially as the electorate in California gets younger and browner and more liberal, the whole purpose of the California Republican Party has been to obstruct the state government’s authority to raise and spend money doing frivolous socialist market-meddling things like paving roads, or fixing broken windows in schools, or buying textbooks that were published sometime after the Apollo Program ended. And a fair number of otherwise non-braindead Californians went along for the ride, because who likes taxes?

It was a pretty foolproof business plan on the Republicans’ part:

  1. Slash government income with Proposition 13.
  2. Cut funding to public education, creating two generations of mathematically illiterate Californians
  3. Advocate a series of mathematically unsound economic policies to those Californians
  4. PROFIT!!1!

There have been other horrible effects of Prop 13 besides the obvious cuts in education infrastructure and social services kind. For instance, the cap on property tax assessments provided a serious incentive for municipalities and counties to approve sprawling development so that they could generate revenue by taxing the new properties. Local governments have had little incentive to promote things like infill development, which would add new properties to the tax rolls by destroying existing properties.

And if you’ve paid attention to the Left Coast at all in the last few months, you know the end result of all this: a state teetering on the edge of an insolvency that would make New York City’s crisis in the 1970s look like running out of lunch money — all due to the Republican Party’s stranglehold on the legislative process.

Yesterday the voters of California approved not one but two tax increases — one more a loophole closing on out-of-state businesses — and, it seems, whittled the Republican presence in the Assembly and Senate down just below 1/3. There are still Republicans in Sacramento, and they still serve important functions. For instance, in the case of Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, America’s Stupidest Legislator, he often provides much-needed comic relief.

But now it seems that they may not have much to say about actual adult pursuits like paying for services and raising revenue, because the Dems may well have that supermajority. The Democrats are not in any way immune from the temptation to grandstand or engage in chicanery, but I still allow myself the hopeful sense that maybe, for the first time since I landed here, the grownups will be in charge for a while.

And the 2016 presidential campaign begins…NOW

The Republicans are always better organized than the Democrats, and they have already identified a clear front runner.

We will now spend four years moaning about the extra-special awfulness of the Republican candidate, pretending that a horrible half of the electorate doesn’t exist, and finally nominating someone notable mainly for their bureaucratic ability to blend in with the Washington beltway crowd. The Republican will still get a substantial percentage of the electorate and come close to winning (if not winning altogether), and then we’ll all wonder about those strange people who weren’t inspired by our lackluster candidate, and voted for the stupid party instead.

Minnesota election news

Suspend your ebullience over Obama’s election last night, and consider instead the more depressing summary of the Minnesota state election results. It’s not all bad; we have a little bit of good news.

  • Our Democratic-Farmer-Labor party senator, Amy Klobuchar, won re-election handily.

  • The DFL retook the state house.

  • The DFL retook the state senate. We now have a DFL governor and legislature.

  • The constitutional amendment that would have required voters to show a photo ID failed. One more Republican attempt to restrict voter rights has been defeated.

  • The constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman only was defeated. Minnesota has no gay marriage ban.

  • Oh, yeah, Minnesota’s 8 electoral votes are all going to Obama.

But there was tragic news, as well.

  • Minnesota’s 6th district (not mine!) re-elected Michele Bachmann to congress.

Dammit.

Oh, well, it was a very close race. She’s showing signs of weakness, and we’ll give her the boot next time.

What happened?

I’ve been drinking Ardbeg and working on a talk while studiously avoiding all the news (my wife is watching it, but I’ve got headphones on to block the idiot chatter)…but twitter just exploded and I looked up to see CNN showing a mob of black children dancing, so I guess the election agony is finally over. Yay, Obama.

You’ve got 4 more years to secure a place in history as something other than a backpedaling compromiser. Push. Do something. Something other than killing foreigners, please.