Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Happy Hour For Birds?


My neighbor has a tall cherry tree near the fence separating our lots.  I have never seen it bear berries before, but this fall the tall canopy of the tree has been full of giant red shiny globes, delicious even from a distance.  It still is fairly full of those berries, and thereby hangs a tale.

Very early one morning I woke up to a tremendous cacophony of sounds, birds speaking to each other in full voice in a hundred different languages, at different frequencies and levels of loudness.  Beautiful it was not, a nature's symphony it was not.

I looked out from a second floor window and saw birds everywhere.  About forty starlings pecking at the so-called driveway (which is not abnormal), three or four blue jays leaning weirdly on top of the roof, a couple of morning doves playing bomber planes at the ground and at each other, and ten or so robins lying in the grass.  And when I say "lying in the grass," I mean it.  When I made a fearsome noise, a couple of the robins managed to fly away, the others turned glazed eyes at me and that was it.

I opened the window and stuck my head out and got bombarded by a pair of small birds.  They flew so close to my face that I felt the air their wings moved in my hair.

All this was a little troubling.   Suddenly I heard a noise from another second floor window, one which has a narrow screen for ventilation at the bottom.  A blue jay was busily trying to tear that screen into small pieces.  As I approached the window, from inside the house, the jay looked at me, scornfully, and resumed its wrecking work.

After an hour or so the happy time was over and things returned to normal (well, normal for the Snakepit Inc.).  But the same show was repeated at slightly lower attendance rates for about a week.

What's going on here?  Are the berries in the cherry tree fermented, thus offering migrating (and non-migrating) birds a nice alcoholic bar?  A birds' happy hour?

I don't think any birds were harmed in making this spectacle. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Too Obvious, Too Weird, Too Republican


I know I'm preaching (in a sonorous voice) to the choir when I point out that we have that US budget deficit problem because Mitch McConnell and his boyz decided to give the rich a humongous tax cut.  And then, a few minutes after that:




This combination is naturally Republican politics as usual, because the goal is to drown the government in a bathtub (except for the military to protect the money of the rich and the legal system for the same protection).  But it's seldom happening so very quickly.  First Mitch tries to put all the dollars in the wallets of the billionaires, then he takes one breath and follows that with the worry that the budget won't balance so let's put the old and the poor on cat food diets.

All that is obvious.  But it's worth wondering what kind of a society Mitch&Friends want to build.  Somalia?  Something from ancient history?  There are some really good reasons for taxes*:  That's how we pay for a somewhat safer, fairer and more affluent society.

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* In the sense that everyone should pay their fair taxes, to cover our common expenses.  This doesn't mean not keeping an eye on government spending and its efficiency.  But there's something a little bit wrong if Echidne pays more federal income tax than Jared Kushner.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Proud Boys' Founder, Gavin McInnes, Visits The Republican Club In New York City, And A Brawl Follows


It's all hilarious*.  If you don't know what the Proud Boys stand for, do read my earlier blog post and then this one and then this one**.  And then note that it was a former Proud Boy who planned the fatal white supremacist march in Charlottesville in 2017.

Proud Boys are into violence, Western nationalism,  and, most centrally, misogyny.  Last May Tucker Carlson posed with a few Proud Boys for a picture, though it's unclear if he knew what they stand for (which is a slightly dirtier version of what Tucker himself stands for).

It's unclear what the brawl was all about or who started it.  The New York Times chose to give the story one of those passive headlines (like a woman gets raped):

Fight Breaks Out Near Republican Club After Visit by Gavin McInnes, Police Say
The Daily Beast used a more active voice:

Far-Right 'Proud Boys' Kick, Punch People in New York Following Speech From Leader
To top all this, the Republican club was vandalized the night before Gavin McInnes' speech there, probably to protest the fact that New York City Republicans want to listen to a fascist-cum-racist-cum-misogynist***.  I thought those people were heard in the 1930s and responded to in the 1940s in a rather decisive manner.

But nope.  The Republican club advertised McInnes as follows:

Banned from Twitter - this Godfather of the Hipster Movement has taken on and exposed the Deep State Socialists and stood up for Western Values. Join us for an unforgettable evening with one of Liberty’s Loudest Voices!

One of "Liberty's Loudest Voices?"  If you read my earlier blog posts on McInnes and Proud Boys, you know that the last thing he is about is liberty for women and/or minorities.  And Twitter banned the Proud Boys for being a violent extremist group.

In any case, McInnes' misogynistic views would fit right into the rules of ISIS, so there's nothing Western about them.

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*  It's not hilarious in the ordinary sense of the word, of course.  It's dismal and frightening and very wrong that fascism is once again rearing its ugly head.  But the whole mess has a moonless night bitter humor about it.  The Proud Boys preach violence and male-and-white superiority, and the opposition responds with violence.

**  Another juicy quote about feminism from one of Liberty's Loudest Voices:

“I think a lot of us sort of tried it, too. When we were in college we go, ‘Oh, ok— you take the reigns,’” he said, noting that he dabbled in actual feminism (he still insists that he’s a feminist). “And then realizing that not only is it not correct that men suck, but I don’t think that the people saying it really even believe it themselves. I think they want to be dominated. I think that’s why Game of Thrones is so popular, because deep down they love ‘Winter is Coming’ and men with giant swords.” (In 2013, McInnes wrote about his own sexual reeducation: “I learned they want to be downright abused. When I stopped playing nice and began totally defiling the women I slept with, the number of them willing to sleep with me went through the roof.”)
***  It's worth noting that Proud Boys accept — and have — men of color as members but they do not accept women.   I still think they are racists, too.



Thursday, October 11, 2018

How I Miss the Era of Hypocrisy!



I have come to miss the era when Western politicians gave lip service to  human rights concerns.  Trump believes that human rights apply to him alone, and the rest of the world is rapidly finding the same rising tide of all sorts of bigotries: nationalist, sexist, racist and religionist.

Democracy, my dears, is in deep peril*.  It never was that perfect, what with power and money being the most addicting (il)legal drugs of all,  but at least in some countries the use of that greedy power was disguised to appeal to certain fairly commonly accepted social norms.  This is less common today.

Thus, we see tweets like this one, about the murder of a Saudi journalist (who had permanent residency rights in the US) inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey:






It's as if Jeffrey Dahmer was appointed to the team investigating his horrible crimes!  But only wet-paperbag idealists see anything wrong with that.   And, as Trump has explicitly noted, the Saudis are too important trading partners for the US to punish in any way.

But then the Saudis are our Best Friends Forever**, despite the powerful Saudi clerics' views on women's rights (nonexistent, pretty much), and the way petro-dollars are disseminating those views in many other countries.

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*  Both because in the US (and certainly also elsewhere) voting  is suppressed, certain groups are disenfranchised on purpose and the voting results are often impossible to properly verify, but also because far too many voters are uninformed and tend to "vote the bums out" or want change for the sake of change, even when the new rulers will be every bit as corrupt and greedy.

**  This is not about the Saudi people.  The ones I have met have all been wonderful warm people with good values.  It's about the Saudi state and the form of extreme religion they uphold.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Lock Her Up!



A chant frequently heard at Trump's never-ending campaign-cum-victory rallies.  Initially the "she" to be locked up was Hillary Clinton*.  Clinton is still a popular target for the chant, but recently it was also applied to Senator Dianne Feinstein and might have been applied to Christine Blasey Ford who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

So many crooked women who need locking up...

It has even spread to Canada, where the supporters of the right-wing populist, Doug Ford, for the premiership of Ontario, used "lock her up" about his female rival.

I Googled "lock him up," and found only the predicted response to the above chant against Hillary Clinton, where the resistance demands that Trump be locked up.  Thus, it doesn't seem to be the case that male politicians are routinely greeted with a chant of this type.

This makes me wonder if it's being an uppity female which needs stern punishment in the conservative minds.

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* Note that she has not been charged for any crime. 


Monday, October 08, 2018

Too Extreme And Too Dangerous To Govern



 The blood in my veins ran ice-cold when I read about the campaign rally our sitting (yes, sitting!) president gave the other night.  He is always campaigning, sigh.

And that is NOT what presidents are supposed to do.  Still, he cannot survive without adulation or worshipers, and that's what those campaign rallies are.  Organized ass-licking in both senses of the word.

But they are also rallies in hate speech.  It's not too strong a term to use when the president of this country no longer even pretends to be the president of all Americans, but just a war-leader or cheerleader for the Republican Party and, in particular, its Alt Right segment.

David Neiwert makes the point which troubles me greatly.  I recommend his whole Twitter thread, but especially these two tweets:








THIS IS NOT NORMAL.  WE MUST NOT NORMALIZE IT.

It's not normal to have a president who is incompetent, ignorant, rude and outright sadistic.  It's not normal to have a president who spends a quarter of his time in office on golf courses and much of the rest of it either doing campaign rallies  (rah, rah!  Lock her up*!)  or scribbling vicious tweets to all and sundry, including to fairly ordinary and powerless people who happen to have angered him.  It's not normal to have a president who  takes advice from Fox News.  It's not normal to have a president who lies All.The.Time.

And it's not normal for the media to judge some Trump event a success if he didn't drop his pants to moon the audience.

I shouted the above two lines about what is not normal and what must not be normalized, because I am frustrated by our (and my own) inability not to start accepting the current state of affairs as the new-normal, where normal means that all conventions have been turned upside down, where normal means that a stubborn and selfish  (mental) child president just decides which rules and laws he will follow and which he will ignore,  and nobody can do anything about it, and where normal also means that behind the curtain the Republicans are rapidly dismantling the welfare state, democracy and most of the government (with the exception of the military). 

This should be particularly abnormal and acceptable, given that the current administration didn't win most of the votes, but acts as if it has complete justification to do what the fuck it wants.  And often it wants to stick it to the majority that didn't vote for Trump.  Indeed, the Trump acolytes love that sadism and appear to want to see Democrats suffer, even if they themselves end up suffering more.

That is not healthy for the country.  It's an illness which incubated in the right-wing political radio shows and then showed its first symptoms when Fox News was created.  It's now a raging fever made hotter and hotter by Breitbart.com and other Alt Right organizations, and among its major symptoms is the belief that Democrats and the left are the true enemy of America, a far bigger and more dangerous enemy than any outside threat.  Note how this (and Trump's statement above) means that around half of the citizens of this country are not regarded as true Americans.

There is no cure in immediate sight.  If anything, the same illness, causing the objectification and hatred of "the other side" is showing symptoms on the left, too**.

But there are things we can do.  The most obvious one is to vote in November, and the next most obvious one is to be politically engaged in other useful ways. If you feel up to it, it might include trying to reach out to those conservatives who are not motivated by pure hatred and, perhaps, trying to find some common ground with them outside politics.***  




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*  It's unclear if the acolytes still want to see Hillary Clinton (and probably all uppity women) in prison or if the latest round of yelling was about Christine Blasey Ford.

**  By saying that I am not engaging in some both-sides-do-it argument, common in the mainstream media.  No, the American right started the process, and when the nonstop conservative hate speech worked in both radio and television, the average Republicans' views began to creep rightward.  Indeed, the National Review, a very conservative political journal is now seen by many Republicans as not sufficiently conservative!

But after a few decades of the hateful propaganda, the responses from our side of the political aisle began taking similar shapes.  It's hard to see what other form those responses can now take, true, given that no compromises are acceptable to the kinds of Republicans the hate propaganda has created.

Still, the situation is truly lamentable, like an unhappily married couple kicking, punching, clawing, biting and hating each other while chained together somewhere where divorce does not exist.

As an aside, this is one of the reasons for the convention of comity in politics.  Yes, it can be idiotic pretense politeness, but its real intention was to force politicians to remember that when they interact with their political opponents they are dealing with human beings whom they disagree with and who might seem to them to be very flawed, but they are not dealing with vicious monsters from the deepest hell.

***  As one silly example, I noticed that several avid Trump acolytes on Facebook also spend time rescuing dogs and cats and so on.  So we might share some values.

And yes, I know that this suggestion will not get a lot of positive feedback.  I don't expect anyone to try to befriend the Stephen Millers of this world or the fascists, racists or sexists among the conservatives, just some more ordinary conservatives.

The alternatives to finding some common ground are not palatable in the longer run (secession?  political violence?).   But I admit that the chances of success in trying to find the humanity in each other across the aisle could be slim, and the thanks for that go to Alex Jones, Breitbart.com, Rush Limbaugh and other insistent purveyors of objectifying hate speech.

  
 


Saturday, October 06, 2018

A Rant On Kavanaugh And Other Pertinent Issues


(This post is a rant.  If you come here for careful analysis (my usual metier), it can be safely skipped.)

Mr. Shouty McShoutyface (Brett Kavanaugh) is now going to be a (Republican accessory) Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States, helping to put the bitches back in the kitchen, the gays back in the closet,  and the money back into the pockets of capitalists.

Aren't you relieved that we narrowly avoided the horrible catastrophe of having that  Crooked Woman™ with her email scandals run this country?  With her paid speeches to Wall Street billionaires, too!  And she acted so entitled!  Not like our Brett at all.

Thank God for Donald Trump, the second coming of Christ (or so it seems, based on some things I have read on the Christianist sites).  He expressed the proper manly concern about how horribly Kavanaugh has been treated.





Is that clear to you now?  It's our Dear Leader speaking, and he, if anybody, knows all about sexual assault accusations.  All the ones against him are false (1), naturally, and fake news.  Because when you are a star they let you do anything to them, grab them by the pussy and more.

But yes, it is a scary time for all those young men who now have to worry about what might happen when they go out with a woman.  Does that sound eerily familiar to any of you, my smart and erudite readers?

And another interesting message from our Dear Leader:




Would it then follow, I wonder, that "a tremendous number of men in this country are extremely sad?  Because they are thinking of their daughters, they're thinking of their wives and their sisters, their aunts, and others?"

Nah.  He means that the sluts lied about Kavanaugh and cannot be trusted anyway.

 *

The Republicans now control all the previously (2) separate three branches of the federal government (first spelled that coverment, as in "cover for getting all the money"), so they and Trump will get their way on everything, at least until the midterms.  

Speaking of Republicans, I adored the statement Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) made about the reasons for the dearth of Republican women in the Committee:




Chuckie is sooo smart!  Of course all us girls want to lie back on velvet cushions, eat bonbons all day and then go out to the mall with hubby's credit card.  Of course!

That's, by the way, one of the recurring themes on meninist sites: Either women are fat, lazy bitches staying at home while spending the hard-working man's money OR they are out there, in the labor force, even though they are incompetent, stealing the jobs rightfully belonging to the MRA guys.

But no, Grassley didn't mean that.  He's probably too old to spend time on those hate sites (3).  He just has never had to bother his pretty (?) head about the reasons why there are so few female Republican politicians in power.  So he blurted out the first excuse he could think of:  The little ladies don't want to get their hands dirty or their nail varnish chipped.

Then he walked it all back, of course, what with the need to have at least a few white women still voting for his party.  You gotta respect women, even if you don't think they are quite as good as men.




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(1)  I am not making fun of those who have been falsely accused of some sexual crime.  That is a horrible and devastating event.  Probably almost as devastating as having been, say, raped, going to the police,  and then finding out that many people don't  believe the rape happened, and that some of those disbelievers will harass the victim, call her a slut or a whore, accuse her of ruining the life of some upstanding man, and try to chase her out of the town.

In other words, it's important to keep in mind that false accusations of rape, say, while quite devastating, are rare while sexual violence is not that rare.  Times have always been scary for those who are most likely to become its victims, but Trump is not concerned about that.


(2)  Because the judicial branch is now part of the legislative branch.  Activist judges are the new black, because they are now Republicans, and it's OKIYAR.



(3)  And not only the weird manosphere sites.  If you look up the definitions of feminism or feminist in Urban Dictionary, you will find that every single one of them has been written by a misogynist.  Here, for example, is the definition of a male feminists.  It comes directly from the meninist doctrine (do read the example conversation!):

Most often, the males who vociferously support feminism fall under the beta positive or beta negative category within the male social hierarchy. They usually patronize the feminist ideology simply to elevate their status in women's eyes, even though stridently feminist men are almost always found explicitly on the internet (similar to the "white knight"). Regardless of the numerous hypocrisies and double-standards endorsed by most sources of feminism, the male feminist will leap to his armchair, a dedicated keyboard warrior, to defend women against the horrible "profanations" and "vulgarities" people make towards the delicate and faint-hearted damsel in distress.
Person: "Women are clearly less intelligent than men."
Male feminist: "Bro, you're just a sexist douchebag. Lmao, like, go back to the 17th century."
Person: "But under today's equal opportunity, men still dominate every scientific and political field in the entire world."
Male Feminist: "HAHA wow - hey women, not all guys are like this. I'm a man, and I can assure you that not all men are sexist. P-please validate my pathetic existence.