What part of “promote the general Welfare” do they fail to understand?

A woman attended a Democratic rally, was appalled, and wrote about how awful it was. I’m thinking we ought to pay her to attend more rallies and publish her reactions, because dang, this is great stuff.

But then Ocasio-Cortez spoke, followed by Bush, and I saw something truly terrifying. I saw just how easy it would be, were I less involved and less certain of our nation’s founding and its history, to fall for the populist lines they were shouting from that stage.

  • I saw how easy it would be, as a parent, to accept the idea that my children deserve healthcare and education.

  • I saw how easy it would be, as someone who has struggled to make ends meet, to accept the idea that a “living wage” was a human right.

    Above all, I saw how easy it would be to accept the notion that it was the government’s job to make sure that those things were provided.

If you’re like me, your first thought was that this has to be satire. No one could be this oblivious. But no, this isn’t someone mocking the right-wing’s inability to grasp elementary civics, this woman is an associate editor at the Daily Caller, and went on Fox & Friends to repeat her gasp of horror.

I was listening to them talk – to Ocasio-Cortez and also to Cori Bush, who she was stumping for in St. Louis – and they say things, they talk about things that everybody wants, especially if you’re a parent, the writer said. They talk about education for your kids. They talk about health care for you kids. The things that you want. If you’re not really paying attention to how they’re going to pay for it or the rest of that, it’s easy to fall into that trap and to say, ‘My kids deserve this,’ and, ‘Maybe the government should be responsible for helping me with that.’

It’s revealing. The mole people have so thoroughly absorbed the ideas that government is bad and the ethos of libertarianism that they’ve lost the ability to recognize that government is a social structure specifically intended to provide for the well-being of its citizens. It’s right there in the preamble to the US Constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Providing for the health and education of our children is what government is for, among other things…but I suspect this person is one of the fearful ones who only sees “for the common defense”, and imagines that justice, peace, and the general welfare are things that detract from the military.

Another uninteresting nerd gets punctured

For a while, YouTube kept throwing these videos from someone called “Diversity & Comics” at me, until I managed to train it to realize that I despise this guy. He’s one of those white nerds — a regular snowflake — who gets irate at characters in comics who are not white men, or white women with large breasts. And now, of course, he’s outraged at the silly She-Ra controversy, where a reboot of a comic character is now drawn with less flamboyant boobs.

He got interviewed by Jim Jefferies at Comic Con. His views were treated with more respect than they deserved, but it’s still an effective skewering.

This looks like a gimmick for a Disney movie

“The Bemidji Merganser and her 76 Ducklings”.

There’s a reason this duck has adopted 76 babies — because all Mergansers look alike, I guess.

The merganser in this picture probably picked up several dozen ducklings that got separated from their mothers. Adult ducks can’t tell which birds are theirs, and lost young birds that have already imprinted on their own mothers will instinctively start following another Common Merganser because she looks like mom.

Roger Waters on the atrocity that Israel has become

This is an excerpt from a longer conversation about Israel and Palestine.

Waters is one of those too rare rock musicians I can respect for openly expressing humanist ideals (another is Peter Gabriel). He claims there is a growing movement to end our unquestioning support for Israel in the US; I don’t know, the right-wing propaganda seems to silence everything.

You can find details about the incident of Palestinian footballers being shot online. Expect the usual noise: “Do you have any sources that are not Palestinian?”

Too true

Michelle Goldberg elegantly slams the pundits.

In November, several outright Nazis and white supremacists will appear on Republican ballot lines. Arthur Jones, a founder of a neo-Nazi group called the America First Committee, managed to become the Republican nominee for Congress in the heavily Democratic Third District in Illinois. The Republican candidate in California’s 11th District, John Fitzgerald, is running on a platform of Holocaust denial. Russell Walker, a Republican statehouse candidate in North Carolina, has said that Jews descend from Satan and that God is a “white supremacist.”

Corey Stewart, Virginia’s Republican Senate nominee, is a neo-Confederate who pals around with racists, including one of the organizers of the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last year. The longtime Iowa Republican representative Steve King has moved from standard-issue nativist crank to full-on white nationalist; he recently retweeted a neo-Nazi and then refused to delete the tweet, saying, “It’s the message, not the messenger.”

Clearly, the time has come for a serious national conversation. And so political insiders across the land are asking: Has the Democratic Party become too extreme?

We do not have a liberal party in this country. We have a conservative party, the Democrats, and a far-right looney-tunes fascist party, the Republicans. I am not going to pay any attention to the nattering nitwits who want to play Liebermanesque games and express shock that people don’t want the Democratic party to drift farther to the right, to cater to the assholes.

It’s time to swing back to reason.

40% of Americans don’t believe Native people exist?!?

That’s one of the results of a report on American perspectives on native peoples. You know, if we’re going to be upset that some people don’t understand that the earth is older than 6000 years, we ought to be even more outraged at this level of ignorance — an ignorance that dehumanizes.

The study found that largest barrier to public sympathy for Native rights was “the invisibility and erasure of Native Americans in all aspects of modern U.S. society.” Representation of contemporary Native Americans was found to be almost completely absent from K-12 education, pop culture, news media, and politics. Two-thirds of respondents said they don’t know a single Native person. Only 13 percent of state history curriculum standards about Native Americans cover events after the year 1900. For the average U.S. citizen, the main exposure to contemporary Native Americans is through media and pop culture. Unfortunately, contemporary Native Americans are almost completely absent from mainstream news media and pop culture, and “where narratives about Native Americans do exist, they are primarily deficit based and guided by misperceptions, assumptions and stereotypes,” says the report.

Crystal Echo Hawk (Pawnee), co-project leader of Reclaiming Native Truth, said that in the focus groups, “the only references [to Native Americans] that we continuously heard as people were struggling to make a connection were Dances with Wolves and Parks and Recreation. So these stereotypes and caricatures are really forming perceptions of Native people.”

The sheer invisibility of Native people leads to some very warped perspectives about contemporary Native life. Forty percent of respondents did not think that Native people still exist. While 59 percent agree that “the United States is guilty of committing genocide against Native Americans,” only 36 percent agree that Native Americans experience significant discrimination today — meaning nearly two-thirds of the public perceive Native Americans as experiencing little to no oppression or structural racism.

I guess that might go a ways to explaining another phenomenon, that so many Indian women disappear, presumed murdered, every year, and the data is ignored and neglected.

Spend time in Indian Country and you’ll hear this story over and over: A niece, a daughter or a cousin who was taken quickly and violently from this world.

As many as 300 indigenous women go missing or are killed under suspicious circumstances every year in Canada and the U.S., but the exact number is unknown because the Federal Bureau of Investigation isn’t really tracking the numbers.

If they didn’t exist in the first place, they can’t disappear, right?

Do I really want to know “Who Is America?

I watched two episodes of Sacha Baron Cohen’s show, Who is America? the other day. It made me feel icky and uncomfortable, and I don’t know if I’ll watch it anymore.

The problem for me is that he’s really good at making people expose who they really are, and when the wrong kinds of people drop their masks, you discover how ugly human beings can actually be. It’s distressing. It’s like being Roddy Piper in They Live, discovering the glasses that allow you to see the horrible reality behind the illusion. It’s also interesting because you discover that some people are actually who they present themselves to be, or at least, are much better at keeping the mask on (Congressman Matt Gaetz, for instance, is a gun nut, but he managed to sidestep saying anything that made him look stupid. We should worry about him — he might be a bit smarter than your average Republican).

The Baron Cohen ploy didn’t work on two relatively intelligent, liberal people he tried to trick: Bernie Sanders and Ted Koppel. Sanders just looked exasperated and impatient (but that’s how he always looks), and Koppel tried to pay respectful attention before giving up and ending the interview. You can’t con someone into being someone he’s not, I guess, and a man playing a lunatic right-winger isn’t going to tempt them. One wonders if there is a role outside of Baron Cohen’s range that could trip them up.

But the real horrors are the people who cheerfully and willingly go along with his schtick, especially since blithe brutal strongman Erran Morad seems to be most effective. Trent Lott, Larry Pratt, Dana Rohrabacher, Joe Wilson, Joe Walsh, and Dick Cheney were obliging, and seemed to have no hesitation about endorsing torture or arming toddlers. That’s who they are. It took little prompting to trigger them to sign on to an evil agenda.

Worst was Georgia state representative Jason Spencer, who was eager to bare his buttocks and run around screaming racist and homophobic epithets with only a little direction. He has now resigned. His excuse was revealing.

“Sacha Baron Cohen and his associates took advantage of my paralyzing fear that my family would be attacked,” Spencer said, adding that the techniques he demonstrated were meant to deter “what I believed was an inevitable attack.”

A Republican motivated by baseless, foolish fears. Who would have thought it? It’s not just fear, it’s ignorance, because he was willing to believe that an Islamic terrorist with a gun would be so terrified of being turned “homo” if he was touched by Spencer’s butt that he’d throw his gun away and flee. That excuse is a non-excuse. It’s an admission that bigotry is built into his core assumptions about the world. It’s further reason that he shouldn’t have run for office in the first place.

Of course, he got elected, which tells you much about the electorate that I didn’t want to know. That’s also exposed in the segment where Baron Cohen visits Kingman, Arizona. He plays a rather clueless, wimpy, liberal developer who wants to build a $385 million mosque in the town, at a kind of town hall meeting (I do wonder how he recruited attendees, though — they don’t seem entirely representative. Or if they are, I’m even more horrified.) This leads to all kinds of angry words and bigoted rhetoric — not only do they hate Muslims, who are all terrorists, but they’re afraid it will attract black people, who aren’t welcome there. The townsfolk are quite willing to shout all kinds of racist things when angry.

Which is why I’m not exactly a fan of the show. Maybe it’s an education we need, to learn how many of our fellow Americans are both dumb as a stick and full of hate, but I don’t have to like it. Aren’t I cynical enough yet? This show keeps telling me no, that I have to dive deeper into the bleak darkness.

What’s in the box, Gwyneth?

It’s a mysterious cylinder with a USB port and a bluetooth transmitter. Guess what it is!

It’s the Elvie Trainer from Goop! You’re supposed to slide it up your hoo-hah and do your kegels while an app on your phone reports on your strength and frequency. It costs $200.

You know, it’s not a terrible idea, unlike most of what sloshes around on Goop. It says it’s made of “100% waterproof medical grade silicone”, so it’s probably safe, if you keep it clean. Strengthening your pelvic floor is probably a good idea, and having an overpriced widget that gives you feedback might be useful.

I am entertained by the idea of broadcasting from your vagina, though. It’s too bad there isn’t an equivalent for vagina-less people, though, because kegels are a good exercise for men, too. Wait, now I’ve got an idea for a perineal clamp with a force sensor that records the tension in your taint, and works for all sexes. Call me, Gwyneth, I wanna get rich.

We need a paleotheology department to research this

I hate to admit it, but this theory actually makes a kind of sense to me.

Challenging long-held views on the origins of divinity, biologists at the University of California, Berkeley, presented findings Thursday that confirm God, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, evolved from an ancient chimpanzee deity.

The recently discovered sacred ancestor, a divine chimp species scientists have named Pan sanctorum, reportedly gave rise over millions of years to the Lord Our God, Maker of Heaven and Earth.

“Although perhaps not obvious at first glance, there are actually overwhelming similarities between the Supreme Being of today and this early primate deity who preceded Him,” said Dr. Richard Kamen, a leading biologist who also heads Berkeley’s paleotheology department. “The holy chimp moved around on all fours, but its descendants eventually began walking upright to expend less energy while foraging across the infinite reaches of the universe. This of course led to the bipedalism of modern-day God.”