Monday, May 22, 2017

Short Posts 5/22/17: On Conservative Ethics, Gerrymandering and Cats


1.  Donald Trump's budget proposal is the sadists' wish-list.  It won't pass, but as this Slate piece states, that shouldn't make us less frightened:

It is essentially a stack of papers telling Republicans that they are free to go wild butchering essential pieces of the safety net in order to fund extraordinary tax cuts for the wealthy and increased defense spending. Food stamps? In Trump’s proposal, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program gets $193 billion in cuts over 10 years, and would allow states to stiffen work requirements for the program. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, aka welfare as we now know it? Its already anemic funding gets slashed by $21 billion. The administration is already trying to spin this kind of hatchet work as “welfare reform”—but it's mostly just a signal to conservatives that they can get their cleavers out, should they feel compelled. The same goes for the $800 billion in Medicaid cuts, which mirror the reductions in the House health care bill, and the reported reductions to Social Security Disability Insurance.

A harsher, more cruel country is in the making.  But at least the market for yachts will boom.


Facebook: Moderating Violence





The UK Guardian writes about Facebook and moderation.  The article makes for interesting reading.  The following table gives examples about violent comments which are acceptable (the green check mark) and those which are not (the red x):

Put your thinking caps on and figure out why someone cannot say "stab and become the fear of the Zionists," but can say "kick a person with red hair."  Or why it's perfectly fine to teach someone how to kill "a bitch."

I understand why the advocating of violence against a named person is not allowed.  But the Zionists are a group of unnamed individuals, and so are people with red hair or fat people.  And women certainly are a demographic group.  Yet only the hate message to Zionists would cause it to be deleted.

Facebook:  Where millions of people exchange funny cat videos, cute baby pictures and advice on how to snap the neck of a bitch...






Friday, May 19, 2017

Figuring Out What Is Happening In The Russian Investigations


Figuring out what is happening in the Russian investigations is almost impossibly hard, for several reasons. 

First, the media industry is in dire straits, given that it can no longer reliably use advertising revenue to fund the news production and given that it has not been able to find an alternative viable funding plan*.  This means, among other things, that every journalist must write click-bait articles, to get as many eyeballs as possible to look at a particular piece of writing, and even if there's nothing worthy of so many eyes in the article itself. 

Thus,  I have recently read "new revelations" which came out months ago, or "revelations" which are speculations.  Real revelations can drown in that sea of noise.

Second, the conservative media tries its utmost to toss out alternative stories, different click-bait, to stir the pot and to confuse the audience.  Instead of some type of public debate or conversation, we have a war of words.

Third, the journalists who write boring, carefully sourced and thrice checked articles are the journalists without an audience. 

That is very sad.  It's partly the consequence of the trend Roger Ailes began where loud arguments and opinion pieces replaced news at Fox News and later, by osmosis, influenced the way news is covered in other media outlets, too.   But it's partly also this new era where everyone can be a citizen journalist, where nobody needs to learn how one verifies something and where a lie indeed has orbited the world many times before truth has its hobnailed boots laced up.

And, finally, its partly because too many Americans follow politics as consumers rather than as citizens, and because that following then depends on how entertaining it is.

-------

*  When I talk about that online the usual answer is that people would be willing to pay for news if they only were better quality news.  The problem with that answer is that it's not true, given the public goods nature of information.  As long as we can get the information without paying for it, that is what we will do.

Sadly, that response is rational in the short-run, but in the long-run it means the end of news production as a properly vetted process.  (I'm preparing you all for my blog funding week which begins this coming Monday!  Give often!) 

Quotes To Think About, Friday, May 19, 2017


These short quotes are nuggets of pure gold.

- An obituary of Roger Ailes (of Fox News fame) states:

Kaplan said Ailes was also a brilliant TV producer who was keenly aware that even with talking heads, he was working in a visual medium. Fox News always had state-of-the-art graphics and animation. His penchant for putting attractive women on the air, with legs displayed on the set, was well known.
“Roger has a very visually pleasing network in terms of look and color and form,” Kaplan said. “Roger cared about what it looked like.”
I love the idea of women as part of the great visual experience Ailes created.

- Brooke Gladstone asks why Trump lies:

By far the greatest source of anxiety for those watching the edifice of reality collapse is the ceaseless cascade of lies. But it is not the lies that pose the existential danger to democracy. It’s the lying, the kind of thoroughgoing lying that gives rise to a whole new reality or, better still, to no reality at all.
Journalist Masha Gessen resists equating Trump with Putin, as American media are prone to do, but says they are kin in the use of the lie: “It’s not just that both Putin and Trump lie, it is that they lie in the same way and for the same purpose—blatantly, to assert power over truth itself.”
The sheer abundance of lies demonstrates, again and again, that facts are disposable, confusing devices that do not serve you, that do not matter.

Bolds are mine.

- A USAToday opinion piece asks us to consider an alternative presidency:

Imagine what would have happened had a President Hillary Clinton abruptly fired the man overseeing an investigation of her campaign’s ties to a hostile foreign government.
We know what would have happened.  The yells of "Lock Her Up" would never have quieted down (not that they are completely silent even now). 

The presidential campaigns told us enough about the alternative rules.  Imagine if a woman had run for the president of the United States after having had children with three separate men...

-  An interesting lefty take on a few questions affecting women:

In a speech at Planned Parenthood’s annual gala last week, Clinton took the opportunity to talk about . . . memes. Referencing a photo of a uniformly white and male House Freedom Caucus discussing health care cuts, Clinton asked, “Could you believe those photos of men around that conference table, deciding how to strip away coverage for pregnancy and maternity care?” before adding: “I gotta say, my favorite Internet meme about this were the dogs sitting around the table discussing ‘feline care.’ I found that so on point.”
The next day, while being fĂȘted as a Gloria Awards’ Women of Vision honoree, Clinton descended even deeper into social media myopia. Speaking to the crowd, she said, “I just want all these Twitter trolls out there to know that maybe if you had left us alone, we might have gone out longer in the woods for our walks, but every time you hit those 140 characters demeaning women’s voices and rights, we’re comin’ back at you.”









Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Has Trump Really Been Treated Soooo Unfairly by the Media?



There are times when I simply must write an obvious post, and this is one of those times.

Our Dear Leader gave a commencement speech at the Coast Guard Academy in which he
 proclaimed that "no politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly" by the media.
Is this really the case?  Let's see:  Suppose that I'm one of your two neighbors.  The other neighbor, the one that is not a nasty snake goddess with venom, knocks on your door to give you flowers or freshly-baked bread or bottles of bubbling wine on your birthday.  I, on the other hand, put dead snails through your mailbox, cut out nasty pictures from magazines and glue them on your front door and aim at you with a peashooter when you leave for work in the morning.

You might then badmouth me and praise your other neighbor, sure.  But would that be unfair treatment?

In other words, we can't compare the media's treatment of various politicians without holding constant that most important of all its determinants:  How that politician has acted.

Trump acts like a pampered two-year old in a temper tantrum.

On the other hand, I would argue that the way Hillary Clinton has been treated has a strong failure of having been caused by "politicking while female."  It doesn't matter that she is flawed or the ways in which she is flawed.  If her name had been Harry Clinton she wouldn't have been put through the mangle so very many times.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What Conservative Outlets Spoke about Today


While this side of the aisle lives and breathes Trump's incompetence and the risk that poses on not only to the United States but to the world, the other side of the aisle, in that other reality, has totally different news and people are worried about something quite different:

The murder of Seth Rich.

I had to Google the name to learn about Seth Rich*.  He was brutally killed in Washington, DC, on July 10, 2016.  At the time of his death he was a Voter Expansion Data Director at the DNC.  The police interpreted his death as robbery gone wrong:

Rich was shot about a block from his home in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C.[9][10][11][12] Police were alerted to gunfire at 4:20 am by an automated gunfire locator called ShotSpotter.[12][13] Rich was found conscious but later died in the hospital.[10] Newsweek reported that police said he may have been killed in an attempted robbery and that the neighborhood had recently been plagued by robberies. Although Rich's watch strap was torn, nothing had apparently been taken from him.[9]

The conservatives, or some cells inside that wide organism, believe that the DNC or some Democratic politician killed Rich.  Why?

Because the conservatives believe (or want others to believe) that Rich was the source which provided Wikileaks with thousands of DNC emails.

Why write about this now?  Because a private investigator working for Rich's family had stated that he had found evidence of contact between Rich and Wikileaks.

Thus we get today's headlines in many right-wing newspapers and Internet sites:

"NOT RUSSIA, BUT AN INSIDE JOB?" asked Breitbart, the far-right website previously led by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, which said that "if proven, the report has the potential to be one of the biggest cover-ups in American political history, dispelling the widespread claim that the Russians were behind hacks on the DNC."
"DEAD DNC STAFFER 'HAD CONTACT' WITH WIKILEAKS," declared the headline of the Drudge Report, the highly-trafficked conservative news destination.
Fox News on Tuesday morning joined in the chorus, publishing a lead story on its website about the "DC MURDER MYSTERY." The story said Wheeler had made the claim Wikileaks had been in contact with Rich. It added that a federal investigator, who it said had spoken on the condition of anonymity, corroborated it.

Here's the next twist.  The private investigator later stated that he had found no such evidence.  Instead, he had heard about the evidence from the reporter he spoke to for that Fox News story in the above link.

That sounds a little circular, don't you think?

Anyway.  If you live in the conservative bubble, you will believe that the Washington Post and other liberal media are making such a hullabaloo about Trump's innocent slips and slides only to cover up these new findings which probably show that Hillary was out there last summer, killing people.  Or if not the bitch herself, then one of her henchmen or henchwomen.**

The impact of our news bubbles can be fatal for democracy.  If one half of Americans believe that the main event in recent domestic politics has been Trump's leaky mouth and the other half believes that it would have been the cover-up of the source of Wikileaks or even the cover-up of a murder by the DNC, well, we might as well not vote in the same reality, never mind the same country.

Something must be done about this new fashion where we don't only have our own opinions, but where facts are whatever you prefer them to be, without evidence needed.

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*  I feel awful about the heartless way I discuss the tragic death of a young man who had his whole life ahead of him.  His family must be greatly hurt by the politicization of his death.  My sincere apologies for any extra pain I am causing.

**  I got those ideas from various conservative comments threads where people believe that an evil deep state is going to take the brave and innocent champion of small people, Donald J. Trump, down.  Just because it is evil.










 



More Popcorn, Please



And here we go:

President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.
“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

But this is perfectly normal!  So say the Trumpeteers.  Doesn't the president have the right to express an opinion???

Popcorn time, in other words.  The alternative is to unscrew our heads and store them in some place where future archeologists can find it when they try to figure out what took place at the onset of the new Dark Age.

The Tragi-Comedies of the Trump Reich


This is wonderfully, excruciatingly funny:

Trump blurts out highly classified information to Russians, at a meeting where only Russian journalists are allowed to record what is happening.

His (nominally not Russian) aides go into overdrive and start bandaging the cuts with every possible band-aid/plaster they can find.  National security adviser H.R. McMaster goes from one alibi to the next one at a good clip:

“The story that came out tonight as reported is false.”
...

“What I’m saying is really the premise of that article is false, that in any way the president had a conversation that was inappropriate or that resulted in any kind of lapse in national security.” 

....

“In the context of that discussion, what the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate to that conversation and is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leaders with whom he’s engaged.”

...

“I was in the room, the secretary of state was in the room, as you know, the deputy adviser for national security, Dina Powell, for strategy was in the room. And none of us felt in any way that that conversation was inappropriate.”

...

“The president wasn’t even aware, you know, where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either.”

Mmm.  And Trump seems to have decided to blurt out all that secret information which possibly puts a valuable "asset" at risk of -- oh, let's say liquidation -- because, why?



Why did he want to do that?

The Washington Post suggests one reason:

Trump did this on the spur of the moment

That is probably the kindest possible motive we could attribute to Trump:  his never-ceasing narcissism.

And now he's meeting another wannabe patriarchal dictator, Turkey's Erdogan.  Wonder what he will blurt out to Erdogan?

Then he will many more opportunities to blurt out classified material to impress other guys, while traipsing around the world meeting various adherents to the three Abrahamic Guy Religions, meeting head guys of those religions, such as the Pope Guy and later some Saudi Guys.

At least they all have one thing in common...
   


Monday, May 15, 2017

Sharing Classified Information...



News like this one is why I hold those who voted for an ignorant narcissist responsible.  Trump may not know any better, but voters presumably have a sufficient number of sane people.

And, incidentally, here is Donald Trump happily tweeting before he became our dictator:




 But at least we didn't get a president careless with her emails!


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Thanks to noblejoanie in Eschaton comments for that Twitter-link.

How Liberals And Progressives Should Talk To Trump-Voters


I've always been intrigued by the odd blind spots in political arguments, the kinds which hardly anybody points out, because they have been invisible for so long that now they are just background, part of the drapes and wallpaper in the public living-room where we have our fierce political debates.

Examples are how premarital sex and unplanned pregnancies are so often covered:  It is the women alone who are sluts, as if premarital sex is some type of third-dimensional masturbation,  and it is the women who get pregnant without anyone else being involved at all.

I have read umpteen zillion right-wing articles about the need to teach young women not to go out late at night, not to get drunk when there are young men in the same room, not to have sex before marriage lest that turn them into licked ice-cream cones or some other moral equivalent of soiled goods.

But these stories never, and I mean never, give any such advice to young men.  The accepted blind spot in that debate is that boys will be boys and that it's natural for a young virile man to try to have sex with anything that moves.  It's as if we tell the prey to go home and hide, but we give hunting licenses to any hunter who wants one.*

Those blind spots often tell me something about the hidden societal power structure.  In the above case it might be that the hunting is accepted as a right, so all the prey can do is try not to get caught.

Today's example asks when someone in politics should try to understand the opposition's point of view.  I'm sure you have read some of the many articles,  published after the 2016 elections, which argue that progressives and liberals should listen to the Trump voters, should try to understand them, should perhaps even move to the reddest areas where even the goats vote for Republicans and where the poorest of all the poor still proudly pressed the button for the man who is now taking away all the welfare benefits they need to survive.

The blind spot in that example is this one:  I don't recall ever reading a single article which would have urged that conservatives listen to the left or try to understand the lefty opinions.  Republicans don't have to do that, whether they are in power (as now) or not.  Only Democrats are required to understand the opposition, perhaps to empathize with them.

I am strongly for listening to one's political opposition, of course, and even for understanding such enemies as ISIS.  I believe in proper dialogue.**

But that's not what those articles urge.  Rather, they take it for granted that the progressives and liberals are arrogant elitist ass-hats, with all their book learning and atheism and snootiness, and that the Trump voters really are the salt of the earth.

Let's reverse that plea and ask Trump voters to listen to, say, women of African descent, the base of the Democratic Party, to try to truly understand their needs and pains and struggles. 

That does not happen, because who it is we should listen to is determined by that invisible background power structure.  Even whose caricatures are accepted in a matter of fact way (elitist latte-sipping liberals) is determined by that power structure.  It's good to remember here that the poor were more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and the rich for Donald Trump.

I didn't invent this particular argument about the new view of Trump voters as the unexplored wilderness of Real America, by the way.  Frank Rich made the same argument in his interesting take on the elections.  Still, the people who voted for Donald Trump were mostly the same people who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012:  Republicans.

***

The seeds for this post were sown by something that happened to me over the weekend: 

I was at the local pharmacy, waiting to pay for my chocolate (yes, chocolate), and suddenly the older white man working as the cashier for my line of customers went on a tirade about the elections and his reasons for choosing Trump.

I have no idea what specifically caused his tirade.  I felt very awkward listening to it, for several reasons:  He might get fired for spouting politics at work, he left no openings for anyone to respond to his claims, and people in the line became restless.  Ultimately I left without paying for my chocolate (I put it back!).

But before that I listened.  I learned that the Obama Crime Family had emptied the government's coffers and no way would this man want to elect the Clinton Crime Family back into the White House.  I also learned that one Muslim entering the country with a nuclear weapon in his or her suitcase could kill everyone dead, so Trump had to put a stop to them coming in.  He also said something negative about a young  female Democratic politician who had recently been canvassing in the store.

This experience is not meant to be a representative one, and I don't present it in that light.  Still, I'm pretty sure that I could have spent a year talking with him and we still wouldn't have gotten much closer, because we clearly have different ideas about what the facts might be.

But I must admit that I felt some empathy for the pain or discomfort that must have caused his rantings in a context where he put his fairly low income at risk, just for the chance to finally say what was on his mind in front of customers.  The Democrats must indeed do better for those who earn less.  At the same time, the Democrats must NOT accept sexism and racism as just your Real America features.



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* I don't think of most men in those terms, but the writers of the "she-is-a-slut" articles do seem to.

** And this should certainly include discussions about the morbidity and mortality rates of middle-aged white women and men, and the increasing income inequality in the US.  The Democratic Party should go back to the job of caring about the working class individuals, though not only the white ones, while not dropping the ball on fairness and justice for all.







  

Friday, May 12, 2017

My Friday Short Posts, 5/12/17: A Health Care Lament, the Process of Hillarization and Trump's Interview



1.  If you haven't seen this video about a "man losing his temper" at a meeting with Rep. Tom MacArthur,  you should spend the eleven minutes of your life it takes on it.

MacArthur is one of the evil architects of the Republicans'  House health insurance plan, and the man in the audience gives us an extremely eloquent and well-informed speech on what is inherently and morally wrong about the Republican attitude toward health care, pre-existing conditions and the facile assumption that well-informed and careful consumers would somehow fix the high costs of health care.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Trump, Comey and Loyalty to Our Dear Leader


This NYT article about an alleged January dinner appointment between James Comey and Trump is a nuanced and elegant example of the horror that the Trump administration is.  Examples:

As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.
Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge. Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not “reliable” in the conventional political sense.

And

By Mr. Comey’s account, his answer to Mr. Trump’s initial question apparently did not satisfy the president, the associates said. Later in the dinner, Mr. Trump again said to Mr. Comey that he needed his loyalty.

And

As described by the two people, the dinner offers a window into Mr. Trump’s approach to the presidency, through Mr. Comey’s eyes. A businessman and reality television star who never served in public office, Mr. Trump may not have understood that by tradition, F.B.I. directors are not supposed to be political loyalists, which is why Congress in the 1970s passed a law giving them 10-year terms to make them independent of the president.

Read it and weep.  Then get up to go back to the most important work of resisting the attempts to kill any democracy dead* in this country.  This example shows what game Trump plays.

But that term "by tradition" in the last quote caught me  like a dart, because Trump doesn't care about any governmental traditions.  Just as he doesn't understand how the government works, neither does he understand what the unwritten rules, norms and behavioral rules of democracy are.  He grew up in his gilded cage, believing himself to be the largest of all silver-back gorillas in the jungles, and that is how he operates:  As the supposed Lord of the Jungle.

The situation is only partly Trump's fault.  He bears the responsibility for his giant ego and his miniscule competence, but it is those who voted for Trump, for a giant ego and for a miniscule competence,  who really should be held responsible for the crisis this country finds itself in.

-----------
 *  My previous post talks about the Republican plans to strangle democracy by taking away people's ability to vote.
  

President Trump and The Republicans: A Variety Show Look At Their Recent Doings.

How do you write snark about this president?  I can't exaggerate his narcissism or his ignorance.  Every time I try, I end up simply reporting what he actually says, which is that he is the smartest and greatest ever, in all great categories, and anyone who disagrees is evil and crooked and corrupt.

American politics today is a variety show where an evil chorus with skull faces sings menacing songs in the background while a clown capers all across the stage.  The audience must keep an eye on both the clown's random leaps and jumps and what the chorus is up to.

Well, the chorus (the Republicans in the Congress) is up to its usual stuff, and sometimes the clown (Trump) agrees to sing in tune with them.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

On Writing, part 63049762


What does writing require?  A famous quote by the American sports writer Red Smith tells us:
In April 1949, columnist Walter Winchell wrote, "Red Smith was asked if turning out a daily column wasn't quite a chore. ... 'Why, no', dead-panned Red. 'You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.
I have not found that to be necessary. 

All you need to do is to use a chain saw to open your skull and an oyster or pickle fork to pick out the bits which satisfy your present editor's demands, while carefully avoiding spilling anything pink and slimy on the keyboard (it gives you multiple fffff, uuuuu, ccccc, and  kkkkk streams if you do). 

The only complication is in making the writing seem effortless, funny, truthful and -- did I already mention it -- effortless.  Nobody wants to read laboring prose, and nobody wants to read a piece about the Comey hearings once the president suddenly fires Comey, thus killing the whole topic dead.

But if some imaginary writer had just spent most of the previous night (to 4am) writing 1300 erudite and long words on a very tricky topic past its due date, well, that imaginary writer might just patch the shocking firing of one FBI director into a post about something quite different.

Because fatigue is a shortcut to a fantastic high where words roar past us like sports cars, where sentences arrange themselves into arabesques and turn pirouettes on that full stop supposed to be their end, and the story simply refuses not to be written.

The comforting thing about owning a blog is that no eagle-eyed editor can intervene with that imperfect process.



 

Diversity, New York Times Style


The New York Times usually puts the part of diversity having to do with women's rights in the style section, the section that used to be the women's pages in olden days and the section which even today has lots of fashion articles.  That way serious people know to avoid those articles.

But the august newspaper also has its own particular style about general diversity among its writers, best exemplified by the hiring of Bret Stephens and the ensuing brouhaha, and the interesting question when it's acceptable for opinion columnists to have their own data, not checked for accuracy, rather than just their own opinions about data most people accept as valid and accurate.

At this point it might be beneficial to have a look at the stable of op-ed columnists at the Times.  I count many more stallions than mares among those who have a permanent oatbag to munch from, and out of the two regular female op-ed columnists I could find, Maureen Dowd and Gail Collins, only one (Collins) is somewhat feminist, whereas the other (Dowd) has rarely met a powerful woman she didn't hate (unless it was in her mirror).

The next stalls are homes for Ross Douthat and David Brooks, both conservative writers whose views on women are either literally antediluvian (Douthat) or based on the fascinating speculations of the more misogynist types of evolutionary psychologists (Brooks).  And for many years the Times gave op-ed stable space for John Tierney whose major shtick is the inferiority of the female sex.

Yet the Times appears to be comfortable with that stall allocation, though, clearly a climate skeptic is urgently required to make certain that diversity is properly represented.

 

So Why Isn't Anything A Big Deal Anymore?


So asks the great bard Charlie Pierce in his latest column about  Comey and Flynn.  Read the column.  I did and then shed bitter tears of venom for not having Pierce's gift of the gab.

Never mind.  Charlie correctly frames* that uncomfortable whole-body itch I've had ever since the horrible elections of 2016:

Publicly expressed "values" are upside down, with greed now dressed as prudence and lies as alternative truth.  The powerful on their sky-high gilded balconies pee on us and we call it rain, carefully analyzing which of us truly voted for a rain of urine (but only if it falls on the Others) or a rain of green Pepe frogs, and which  among us foolishly voted for the status quo in this era when any change is better than none, even change from chronic acne to metastatic malignant melanoma.

Thus we get the Flynn farce and the Comey comedy, the latter with its last or latest act only played today. 

You don't have to be a goddess to see that Comey's decision to publish largely fake facts about Hillary Clinton's emails just a few days before the presidential election was aimed at getting Trump elected, and you would not be normal if you didn't feel that this decision was especially disgusting in the light of what we now know about the simultaneously ongoing  investigations into Trump's possible Russian connections.

And whoever you are it's impossible not to ask why Trump decided to fire Comey today, in a letter which stated:

“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,”

It's the timing of the firing which is suspicious, given that Trump has been aware of all pertinent Comey-facts for a long time and, indeed, had praised Comey for having the "guts" to reopen the Clinton investigation right before the elections.

So what could possibly have changed?  And is the answer to that question a big deal or not?  Does Trump protest too much in the above quote?  Was Comey shown the door because he is investigating Trump?  Will we now ever know?

And is that a big deal or not?


Sigh, almost nothing is a big deal anymore**.  It's not a big deal that Trump's administration still includes Sebastian Gorka, a man with pretty clear fascist tendencies.  It's not a big deal that Mike Cernovich -- who once wrote about how truly manly dominant men should go around choking women -- now has a White House press pass.  It's not a big deal that the Rasputin behind Trump's throne, Stephen Bannon, wants to demolish the administrative state.

It's not a big deal that we have a president who loves women the way I love spaghetti with pesto and who changes his wives the way some of us change our cars or our fashion wear, and it's not a big deal that white fundamentalist Evangelicals voted for that very un-Christian president in overwhelming numbers, because the real Christian values for them are not in charity or good deeds but in the control over women.

It's not a big deal that the Russians in 2016 hacked into the voter rolls in several American states.  It's not a big deal that the president of the United States refuses to show us his tax returns or an accurate picture of his health, and it's not a big deal that the Trump corporations are fairly openly trying to benefit from the official position of our Dear Leader.

And it's not a big deal that the countrywide Republican attempts to suppress  voting by people of color and other groups likely to vote for Democrats have been shown to be successful.

Finally, it wasn't anything to get upset about that president Obama's Supreme Court nominee could not get a hearing, for reasons that had nothing to do with the old-fashioned rules of democracy, and it was perfectly ordinary to suddenly find that thousands of our fellow-Americans sincerely believed that a Washington, DC, pizzeria was the den of pederasts, led by Hillary Clinton or at least by someone on her staff.



------

* The over-extension of Pierce's  explanation to my own itches should not be attributed to him.

** With two possible exceptions:  Trump's attempts to ban Muslims from entering the United States which has been seen as a big deal by both the courts and by large numbers of protesters, and the killing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), to be replaced by tax cuts for the rich and higher death rates of the poor.









Saturday, May 06, 2017

Is Ivanka The New Hillary?


Nina Burleigh argues so in a recent Newsweek article:  Both Ivanka and Hillary grabbed power in the White House that was not theirs, both protected sexist male relatives, both got to power via nepotism,  both solicited foreign donations to their foundations (evil!), both want poor women to make baskets (start firms), both are cyphers, and both are ethically challenged.

It's not exactly a fun read, that piece, but it's a great example to take apart for the purposes of feminist analysis.

To begin with, the author does not mention the role that Jared Kushner,  Ivanka's husband,  plays in the Trump administration or the role her brothers may play in letting Donald still have his business ventures.  The difference, of course, is that Hillary and Ivanka bear the stain of Eve.


Today's Deep Thought: Class Warfare.



We don't call it a class war when the rich are winning, and that is what's happening right now.

Our Dear Leader and his administration have been busy moving money upward in the income distribution, both with explicit tax cuts tailored to benefit the top one percent the most,  and by the killing of the Affordable Care Act which was funded by an extra tax on the top earning classes.  That tax money now returns to its rightful home pockets.

Keep an eye on what the Republicans in the Congress prioritize, too.  You are going to find that almost everything, with the exception of gifts given to the fundamentalist patriarchs in exchange for their votes, is about moving money up the distribution, either directly or through the killing of those regulations which make such shifts harder in the marketplace.

The Republicans always move money up the distribution, true.  But the current income inequality levels in the United States are already deemed unacceptably high by most Americans.  Yet the progress toward a Banana Republic continues...

Friday, May 05, 2017

The New Republican Health Plan and Pre-Existing Medical Conditions


Does the House Republicans' health insurance plan let people with pre-existing conditions buy health insurance that they can afford AND that covers their actual medical needs, without forcing those individuals to choose between medicines and food?  That's what our dear Leader has promised us.

The answer to that question is most likely NO.  All the noise around it is created to hide that very fact.

To see why, note, first that under this new plan states can ask for three different types of waivers from the ACA regulations, if they can prove that

doing so will reduce average premiums, increase enrollment, stabilize the health insurance coverage market or increase the choice of health plans in the state. One of those waivers applies to pre-existing conditions, allowing insurers to use "health status" -- that is, current health, health history and other risk factors -- to set insurance premiums.
Note how easy it would be to argue for such a waiver!  If you get rid of those people who cost more, of course the average premia of those who remain will go down!  And see how easy it is then for insurers to set premia according to one's existing state of health, a.k.a. based on pre-existing health conditions.

This could result in extreme charges for a very basic health insurance policy, perhaps as much as 

$71,880 extra for a patient with lung cancer, and $17,060 extra for a pregnant woman, forcing many to be priced out of coverage and wind up uninsured. 
The plan proposes that states then create pools for those unfortunate high-risk cases.  Such pools have fared poorly in the past, offering limited coverage at exorbitant prices, and it's unlikely they would fare any better now:

In addition to its poor design, the funding for the invisible risk pool is a drop in the bucket compared to the massive increase in enrollee health care costs as a result of the ACHA. Spread over nine years and across millions of enrollees, we estimate that the $15 billion fund could lower annual premiums by about 1 to 2 percent each year, or roughly $100 per enrollee annually. Because the AHCA substantially reduces subsidies and shifts costs onto consumers, even without stripping protections for pre-existing conditions the average enrollee would still see their total costs rise by more than $3,000 by 2020.

To return to the first sentence in this post:  It doesn't matter that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage, if they can be charged almost anything for that coverage and/or if what coverage they can buy does not apply to their actual medical needs.

It's unlikely that the Republican House bill ends up used as the real blueprint, but if that happens the most likely outcome would be that many individuals with pre-existing conditions would be priced out of the insurance markets altogether, and a certain number of them would die earlier than would have been the case under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  Those early deaths are a bizarre way of saving money, and so is a plan aiming at insuring only the healthy against the expenses of illness.










Pre-Existing Moral Conditions. My Political Lament.


Moe Brooks, representing Alabama's fifth Congressional district, is a man with firm moral principles.  Those principles keep him cozy, the way the shell of an escargot does.  A mobile little home of moral self-administration, that's what our Moe carries with him:

In a CNN interview, Representative Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, makes the case for Trumpcare in much starker terms: It will free healthy people from having to pay the cost of the sick. “It will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool that helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy,” explained Brooks.
An example of someone who has failed to lead a good life, someone who has failed to do the things that keep bodies healthy might be the newborn son of Jimmy Kimmel:

Kimmel noted that before the ACA, also known as Obamacare, was introduced, “if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition. You were born with a pre-existing condition and if your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition. If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make.”

Other people have clearly not led good lives because they have aged, and so deserve to pay for their own health care expenses.  Why should young people have to subsidize such recklessness as aging?

Joe Walsh, the politician who cannot even be bothered to financially care for his own children had this to say about Kimmel's son:

As Joe Walsh, a former congressman, tweeted on Tuesday afternoon: “Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn’t obligate me or anybody else to pay for somebody else’s health care.” Walsh, by the way, doesn’t even want to pay for his own kids’ healthcare – at one point, he owed $117,000 in child support. Now there’s a guy who truly understands the American values of individual freedom and choice.
Messrs Brooks and Walsh express common conservative values in this context: individuals have the power and the duty to lead "moral" lives and  individuals have the right not to care about or for others in the same society.

To have those values is a pre-existing condition, one which interprets the very concept of "morals" narrowly and selfishly and with a focus on individual rights and responsibilities, one which from the outside looks like an escargot shell or the shield of a turtle:  Something to keep the world out.


Thursday, May 04, 2017

How Big Should the Democratic Party Tent Be?




Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi have both suggested that it's not absolutely imperative for Democratic politicians to support reproductive choice, that others should come in from the rain, that the tent of the Democrats is big enough to allow different opinions, including forced-birth ones.

Sanders noted that he is willing to fight for the pro-choice agenda but thinks that when it comes to politicians, "... you can't just exclude people who disagree with us on one issue," and Pelosi said,  while speaking about her own roots, “Most of those people—my family, extended family—are not pro-choice. You think I’m kicking them out of the Democratic Party?”

What a messy paragraph I created there!  That is because the topic is a messy one.
 
For instance, do you see how the question Sanders answers is about Democratic politicians, but Pelosi talks about the ordinary members of the party?  Those are two different issues. 

Or does the paragraph make you wonder if  disagreeing with the Democratic Party's platform on one issue would still be perfectly fine if that issue was rejecting any kind of legally mandated minimum wage?*

And note how  unclear the meaning of a forced-birth Democratic politician remains:  Would that person vote with the fundamentalists on most women's reproductive rights or would that person just express personal forced-birth views while voting for reproductive choice?

Then there are at least two important underpinnings to that whole debate:

First, if the Democratic Party decides to decrease its focus on reproductive choice, in order to attract various groups of possibly mythical unicorn voters**, it will have to come to grips with the essential truth that reproductive rights and full economic participation are linked for women in ways that they are not linked for men, that economic policies might not benefit women to the same extent as they might benefit men if women are not allowed to have control over their own fertility.***

Second, a policy change that might attract new voters to the party might also make other members of the party decide to leave it behind.  I'm not sure if anyone inside the Democratic Party has made any calculations on this fascinating (to me) topic!  It just could be that there would be a Women's March out of the party if anti-women views are welcomed.



----------

*  Katha Pollitt asks that very question on her careful analysis of the big tent question.  She concludes by asking if pro-choice women, the base of the party as it currently stands, are expected to stand outside the tent, in the rain.

**  They are unicorn voters, because the fundamentalists don't just want a ban on abortions and in some cases even on birth control, but also Biblical laws and almost absolute power to their religions, and the Democratic Party will always offer less than the rabid extremists who now rule the Republican Party.  The racists and sexists won't be satisfied with such stale crumbs, either, because they get press passes to the White House from this Republican administration.

***  To plan one's education and work career requires the ability to control one's fertility.  If women cannot have that control, those in fertile age groups will be the last ones hired or promoted and will be less likely to be given on-the-job training.  That is because under such conditions women, on average,  are statistically less likely to stay employed as long as otherwise equally qualified men, and women, on average, are also more likely to take repeated maternity leaves which are costly to the firms, especially given the traditional norms concerning who it is that is viewed responsible for children.

Children are expensive. Being forced to have many more children than a couple ideally would like will drive poor families into even greater poverty.  That is both because of the expenses of feeding, housing and educating the children, but also because large families cannot as easily afford daycare.  The solution is often for the woman to drop out of the labor force to care for the children.  Ultimately this will affect her retirement income and her lifetime earnings.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Why I Critique the Weirder Kind of Evolutionary Psychology



(This post is about misogyny, contempt toward women. sexual violence and Evolutionary Psychology.  It may not be what you need to read today.)


If you have read this blog for some time you know that I often write about the pseudoscience of the weirder type of evolutionary psychology, the kind I mark with capital letters EP, the kind which is personified by one Satoshi Kanazawa* and his sexist brethren and a few sistren.

There are times when I ask myself if I'm spending too much time wading in those marshes.

But today is not one of those times, because I recently found two references to the kind of EP stuff I so often critique, and both of them came from pretty nasty people.

The first example is Mike Cernovich who has recently been given a White House press pass:

Mike Cernovich is an internet troll, conspiracy theorist, and leading figure in the “alt-right’s” assemblage of modern-day white nationalists and misogynists who has drawn praise and support from President Donald Trump’s closest confidantes. Today, he used a White House press pass to berate reporters at the daily briefing for not sufficiently covering “the violence against Trump supporters.”
Cernovich used to write a sex blog which gave advice to would-be alpha males.  One post advocates choking women, in the bedroom and outside it,  because women really really want to be choked**, and this is because women really really want to be raped, but not just by any guy:

Of course no girl wants to be wolf packed on the D.C. Metro or beaten up. Yet nearly ever romance novels consider healthy dose of a woman being taken against her will. The key is that she is taken against her will by a high value, dominant man who could satisfy her genetic desire for healthy and fit offspring.

Bolds are mine.  Typos are his.

Can you see the slimy footprints of EP in Cernovich's tiny brain?  I can.

The second example concerns a white supremacist who wants white men to harass and ridicule white women in public.  When someone in the comments to the original filth asked if showering ridicule and contempt on women would make it harder for a man to get a girlfriend or wife, the white supremacists stated:

Men who engage in the type of behavior I have outlined here are the kind of men that women desire more than anything. In fact, they are the only type of men they desire. This is evolutionary biology, it is a scientific fact …
Women have exactly zero desire to be “respected” by men who view them as “equals” – women desire to be dominated by men who view them as property.


Bolds are mine.

These examples are vile, but the point they make is important:

If you Google any recently popularized EP article on the perfidy of women or similar topics, the first two pages Google gives you are full of links to misogynistic sites.  EP feeds misogyny, in other words.

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*  I have written so much on Kanazawa that it's not possible to link to everything in this footnote.  You might begin with this summary post.   Or this one.  Or the most recent impact Kanazawa has had on making wife beating acceptable in Russia.

** Yes, this is the man who now has a White House press pass. 

As an aside, see more about erotic asphyxiation, an extremely dangerous practice:

Various methods are used to achieve the level of oxygen depletion needed, such as a hanging, suffocation with a plastic bag over the head, self-strangulation such as with a ligature, gas or volatile solvents, chest compression, or some combination of these.[6] Sometimes, complicated devices are used to produce the desired effects.[7] The practice can be dangerous even if performed with care and has resulted in a significant number of accidental deaths. Uva (1995) writes “Estimates of the mortality rate of autoerotic asphyxia range from 250 to 1000 deaths per year in the United States.”[8] Cases have also been reported in Scandinavia[9] and Germany.[10][11] Autoerotic asphyxiation may often be mistaken for suicide, which is a major cause of death in teenagers.[12] 

And, if anything, it appears to be more common among men than women:

The great majority of known erotic asphyxial deaths are male; among all known cases in Ontario and Alberta from 1974 to 1987, only one out of 117 cases was female.[6] Some individual cases of women with erotic asphyxia have been reported.[16][17][18][19] The main age of accidental death is mid-20s,[6][20] but deaths have been reported in adolescents[21][22][23] and in men in their 70s.[10][20]
 










Monday, May 01, 2017

Even More Trump Pressies to Women: Teresa Manning


Meet Teresa Manning, the new deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services:

Donald Trump has reportedly appointed to a position overseeing the US’s family planning safety net a law professor who once stated that “contraception doesn’t work” and “family planning is something that occurs between a husband and a wife and God, and it doesn’t really involve the federal government.”

This is a gift to the fundamentalists who voted for a serial adulterer who talks about pussy-grabbing, not exactly the kind of man who follows in Jesus's foot steps, right?  And not much of a Christian, altogether.

But the fundamentalists want to control women, and Trump is willing to let Pence's little Christianist sheep have at it.  The way to get women under control is to deprive them of any real chance of controlling their own fertility.

But from another angle Manning's appointment is nothing new:  The tradition, at least since Ronald Reagan, is to set the foxes to guard the hen houses by appointing those who detest the job of some department to run it. 

Hence Manning, someone who doesn't believe in family planning, doesn't believe that contraceptives work and doesn't believe that the federal government should have any function in influencing the number of unplanned pregnancies.

Manning doesn't mention which god she wants to be present at our bedrooms.  If Zeus turned up to advise me on sex I'd tear him to pieces and feed the pieces to swans and cows. 

And Trump's Gifts to the Girls Of The World Keep Piling Up


Added later:  Shortly after I published this post, CNN reported that the program will not be killed, after all.  Probably the power of my critical post?  Nah.

 Original post begins here:


Our Dear Leader in his great wisdom is canceling the program Michelle Obama championed: "Let Girls Learn," aimed at facilitating the education and empowerment of adolescent girls in the poorest countries.  Though some aspects of that program might continue (not betting on that happening), the program itself is now dead.

To cancel all those programs which I see as absolutely necessary for future peace, economic sufficiency in the poorer countries, the prevention of vast migrant floods into the wealthier countries and the reduction of future terrorism* is so short-sighted as to make us blind.

But that's what Trump's white supremacist base desires, I guess.

---------

* The norms about marriage in some countries where extreme Islamic terrorism finds fertile ground stipulate that a man must earn enough to marry, because a woman should stay at home and should not be educated.  When you combine that with a very real lack of any well-paying jobs for young men, well, they are expected not to have a love partner for sex until they are ancient old men, and alternatives such as terrorism will begin to look more alluring, especially with terrorist organizations such as ISIS who promise those young men as much sex as raping the women of the vanquished or buying sex slaves can give them.

I grant you that this is not the major way in which terrorism is created, but surely women's empowerment and equal partnership in those countries will both reduce the pressures for terrorism and increase economic well-being.

Yet the Trump administration seems adamant to contribute to a situation most likely to result in wars.

Unequal Pay for Equal Work: When Is It Legal To Pay Women Less Than Men For Doing The Same Job?


This is what the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th circuit has recently addressed, in a case about possible sex discrimination in how earnings are set: 

Fresno County, California, schools used a policy of paying its new employees what they were paid in their previous (education?) jobs plus five percent.  That five percent was intended to make changing jobs worthwhile.  One employee, Aileen Rizo, learned in 2012 that she was paid less than her male colleagues doing the same work, and she sued the school district for sex discrimination, based on the Equal Pay Act of 1963.  A lower court ruled for her, but the Court of Appeals overturned that ruling.

And this is where things get interesting:  Can a school district base its salaries on the workers' past salary history?  What does that past history reflect?  And why would the district use that history as almost the only determinant of how much to pay someone?


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Trump's Tax Reform Proposal: A Gift Not To His Voters But To Himself And His Rich Friends


Have now been made available in the sense of a page or two of scribbles, without any impact calculations.  The shortness of those pages makes it fast work to conclude that the proposed tax reforms will shift even more money into the well-filled pockets of the top one percent of US earners.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Trump's Gift to the Women of the World: More War, Fewer Rights


Our Dear Leader began his reign by returning the global gag rule, expanded to many more fields.  That will teach those sluts not to avoid their proper roles which is to have as many children as their lords and masters decree, even if that kills them. 

But our Dear Leader is generous, so the women of the poorer countries get a second present:

...Foreign Policy revealed plans by the president to strip all funding from a State Department bureau dedicated to promoting women’s advancement in developing countries. According to documents released to Foreign Policy, Trump’s proposed budget plan would eliminate funding for the Office of Global Women’s Issues by 2018. In order to make room for more military spending, the plan would also eliminate USAID’s budget for working with blind children and 95 percent of funds allotted to the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

This is utterly stupid, even if one is a determined misogynist like Donald Trump.  Too fast population growth rates in poor countries contribute to the migrant floods into Europe, too fast population growth rates in poor countries contribute to periodic episodes of starvation and to local unrest and violence, because the limited land resources cannot adequately support the rising populations, and that causes increased competition for resources.

And not supporting women's education and greater independence exacerbates all the problems that the US has struggled with, including radical Islamism.

As one of those interviewed in the quoted article states:

“It’s clear that women’s empowerment and gender equality are on the chopping block in this budget”
And yet many Republican women voted for him.

-------

Added later:  Ivanka's projects are intended to be the front which covers what is happening behind the stage where the fundie patriarchs are decimating women's rights.  Ivanka is not wrong, but what she is doing is a bit like dressing a starving and very sick woman in a designer dress while not treating her illness or giving her food.






Thursday, April 27, 2017

Meet Rep. Robert Fisher, a New Hampshire Misogynist



1.  Did you know that I have a lackluster and boring personality and a sub-par intelligence? (1)

I didn't know that, either, until I was told so by Robert Fisher, a Republican state representative in New Hampshire who has now been outed as one of the creators of the woman-hating (and popular!) Reddit.com message board The Red Pill.

The Red Pill teaches men to be pickup artists by training them in the skills needed for the Hunting of The Reluctant Pussy and in how to deal with the woman the pussy is unfortunately attached to.  Usually she should treated like an enemy in a war or the way a predator would handle its prey (2).

These dating strategies are truly weird, sadistic, even, but in that alternative Red Pill reality they are necessary because of the terrible feminist-created oppression of pussy-hunters these days:

Feminists have destroyed all good things in life, including the respect for traditional masculinity and for the good old-time marriage arrangements where men could buy lifelong access to pussy (and to housekeeping services), sometimes for as little as bed and board for the hussy.

But what is a man to do now, huh?  Women are no longer desperate enough to marry men like Rep. Fisher just for a pittance, because feminism allowed them to have paid jobs. So the only remedy for Rep. Fisher is to make certain-sure that all women everywhere suffer.

And why should all those billions of women have to suffer?  Ah!  The reason is that Rep. Fisher had a very painful personal experience with a conniving slut, and the pain he felt just had to be turned into generalized misogyny, the hatred of all women everywhere. 
 
I learned all this via The Daily Beast which was able to establish that Rep. Fisher indeed is one of the founding fathers of the Red Pill.  Imagine that!  We have our very own now outed woman-hating politician.

And Rep. Fished does hate women.  Not only do we have sub-par brains and boring personalities, but when he was an eighteen-year old Immanuel Kant wannabe he couldn't find absolutely gorgeous and sexy girls of the same age who would also want to talk about free will and how time travel made it impossible and so on.

This made it clear to Rep. Fisher that women are intellectually inferior, poor things.

With the exception of his mother and his sisters, by the way.  But all other women are vacuous empty-headed wannabe gold-diggers, climbing up one hairy man-thigh after another, in search for the richest man possible.  Rep. Fisher's thighs were not the richest or perhaps even the hairiest, and thus his heart was broken.

He managed to cope with his pain by reading on evolutionary psychology of the most woman-hating kind (3).  That taught him that women are biologically wired to be hypergamous, always seeking a yet richer man (4).  Poor things, we women.  We cannot help our faulty wiring.  After all, we don't even know how to change a flat tire, let alone wiring, but must depend on men for help with that, though men, of course,  never need help with making sandwiches or meals or getting their laundry done or anything else whatsoever.

Rep. Fisher also tells us that modern women are totally free, unlike modern men, because men have to learn the consequences of their actions but women don't have to, given that pregnancy, for instance, has not been shown to be the consequence of having sex without contraception. 

That's what feminism has done to women:  Women take all the good bits and refuse to drop the pussy off the pedestal (2), which is very unfair for those waiting under the pedestal.  At least in the good old days women were oppressed in exchange for chivalry towards the pussy, but modern sluts want that chivalry without paying for it by subjugation.

Only men need to develop their skills and knowledge, according to Rep. Fisher, because women totally know that the optimal waist-to-hip ratio and nubile breasts are sufficient by themselves, and an empty head is the best setting for a nice hairdo.

It's all very sad, of course, but at least those men who agree with Rep. Fisher's intricate philosophical argument can find support at the Red Pill.

Perhaps they talk about the awful risks of false rape accusations (5), the possibility that any avid pussy-hunter with many successful hunts might one day wake up to being accused of some underhand moves, even though those are necessary in the War of the Sexes or the Hunting of the Reluctant Pussy and are never real rape but just the sluts' regrets about having been shown to be sluts.

And in any case, the dark cloud of rape has its golden lining:  The rapist probably had a good time (6).  Just like a sadistic murderer while dismembering his victim, I might add, if pleasure is somehow a sign of things not being that horrible.

But it's the fear of false rape accusations that keeps Rep. Fisher awake at night. The fear isn't strong enough to frighten him off pussy-hunting.  Still, he hates this feminist-governed world where almost any man can find his life ruined by some slut's say-so (7).

2.  The reason I began this post with false statements about my scintillating personality and about my extraordinary brightness, despite the fact that Rep. Fisher failed to mention me,  is to point out one of the very common logical flaws the misogynistic Manosphere uses:

False generalizations.  We are told that "women," as in the "class of all women" are a certain way: stupid, gold-digging, vacuous.  Because I belong to that class it then follows that I share the attributes Rep. Fisher insists on assigning to the group.

In Rep. Fisher's case one or a few women hurt him badly.  Therefore, all women are monsters.  Anecdotal (and unverifiable) evidence is turned into a statement about billions of people.  The arrogance of someone who copes with his own traumas like that!  I used therapy and lots of hard work, but then I'm an inferior creature.

False generalizations are the bread and butter of the misogynists, so I expected no better from Rep. Fisher.  But he also commits several other logical errors, including comparing his own "super-smart" eighteen-year old self to some fuzzy larger number of boring and lackluster young girls without telling us how he picked them.  If it was by their looks alone, well, those don't necessarily correlate with an avid interest in all things scientific.

That would create bias in his sample, but he makes things worse by committing what I call the Hitler vs. Mother Theresa error, though in reverse (it usually is in reverse), where one compares an individual from the top of one distribution to an individual from the bottom of another distribution and then treats the two individuals as if they were representative of their whole distributions.

That's how we get the argument that women are only interested in gossiping and other trivialities, whereas men stare thoughtfully into their beer mugs while contemplating the Big Bang Theory.

Rep. Fisher is also comfortable with picking his evidence on the basis of what he wishes to prove.  Thus, it's men throughout the history, on the Fisher Planet,  who held traditional marriages together and hardly ever strayed or abandoned their children or anything of that sort.  Granted, women had few rights and might have been unhappy, but at least they were barred from hypergamy.

The Manosphere in general loves to employ evidence of that kind, by ignoring all data that works against whatever they wish to prove, or in some cases by just ignoring all data, full stop.  That's one way to create an alternative reality where the Red Pill site now has almost 200,000 subscribers.

Finally, all the anecdotal evidence Rep. Fisher shares with us (or, rather with his fellow-misogynists) is unavoidably colored because we don't know how Rep. Fisher acts with women. 

If his misogyny has hung around for a while he may be extremely unpleasant to meet, and that would make pussy-hunting tougher, even for someone who regards himself an obvious alpha male, entitled to most pussies, and states that he has advertised himself as an alpha, but alas and alack, women didn't like that (8)!

O,  evolutionary psychology, what have you wrought here.  This poor politician has apparently gone around advertising his alpha male status to all those little gold-diggers who, based on his theory, should have been most eager to open their legs for him.

3.  What's going to happen to Rep. Robert Fisher of New Hampshire now?

Who knows.  Who even knows how many worse misogynist we might have straddling various high ladders of power in this Trump Reich?  And who can tell how common Rep. Fisher's declaration of war against women might be?  But Governor Sununu has asked for his resignation.

So far Rep. Fisher has refused.  He tells us that he will not leave his post but will continue working for men's rights.

So it goes.

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(1) The reference to me is a stylistic one, to point out that when Rep. Fisher hates on "women," with the exception of his mother and his sisters, he then by definition hates on me.

(2) The Daily Beast:

The Red Pill borrows its name from a scene in “The Matrix” in which Morpheus offers Neo a choice between two realities: “You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill… and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
In manosphere-speak, the rabbit hole is feminism, which the red pill reveals to be a War on Men. In this reality, the “feminine imperative” reigns; masculinity is its victim. As a result of this power struggle, old gender dynamics formerly seen as mutually beneficial, such as marriage, have all but disappeared, but female expectations of a pedestalled life unfairly remain. A common refrain among men’s rights activists is “take the pussy off the pedestal.”
The Red Pill guides men as they become accustomed to this new “reality.” It advocates self-improvement: the importance of diet, exercise, and constant learning. But this community also subscribes to the beliefs that women lack both intelligence and substance, are programed to cheat on their partners, and expire after the age of 30. Its darkest sections are heavy with rape denial and apologia.

(3)  Here's one example of Rep. Fisher's use of evolutionary psychology:

Fisher was asked if he thought it was creepy for a 40-year-old man check-out a 15-year-old’s breast. He responded by saying:
“In my opinion, no. It’s evolutionarily advantageous and perfectly natural.”
(4)  There is no actual proof of any kind of wiring of that sort, of course, and evolutionary psychologists using the argument ignore the very real obstacles that historically made it almost impossible for women to gain resources through any other means but marriage.  Guild laws were against them, most institutions of higher learning didn't admit them, inheritance and other family laws discriminated against them.  No special wiring is needed, in my opinion, to explain why marrying upward would have been a common strategy for women to gain wealth.  What other options did they have, after all?

(5)   It is generally agreed that false rape accusations, including accusations which were not intended to be false, but were deemed to be so, are less than ten percent of all rapes that come to the attention of the police.  But also note that rapists are pretty unlikely to be sentenced to jail in the first place:

According to an analysis of Justice Department data by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 46 out of 100 rapes are reported to police, nine are prosecuted, and three of those accused serve jail time.

(6)  The Daily Beast:

In 2008, writing under the username FredFredrickson, Fisher posited that the notion that “rape is bad” was not an absolute truth. He wrote, “I’m going to say it—Rape isn’t an absolute bad, because the rapist I think probably likes it a lot. I think he’d say it’s quite good, really.”

(7)  To inject a little bit of evidence from the other side, I draw your attention to the three articles below.  Before you click on any links you should know that the articles are gruesome and describe extreme types of violence. 

This long-form piece describes a case which at first glance looks like a false rape accusation, until the videos taken by a serial rapist prove that he raped the woman who was not believed.

This UK case is an extremely disturbing one, showing that many among the police also believe that women quite often make false claims about harassment or violence.

This case does not prove that a rape took place, but it seems extremely likely, given the other crimes the man described in it had committed.

The point of this footnote is to remind that real rape or real harassment interpreted as false claims can have truly devastating consequences which should not be ignored, either.


(8)  The Daily Beast:

Elsewhere, he wondered why listing his accomplishments on dates, including his status as a candidate and “high level exec,” was apparently a turnoff to women, despite it being characteristically alpha.







 




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bryce Covert On Reproductive Rights As An Economic Issue


Bryce Covert writes about the false distinctions between "social" or "cultural" and " economic" when political ideas are put into different boxes.  Her context is the recent renewed debate about whether the Democratic Party should support forced birth candidates if otherwise those candidates promote all sorts of yummy dishes on the lefty political menu.

Her point is an important one:  The so-called "cultural" or "social" issues are intertwined with economic issues for all those of us who draw the short stick in the worldview of "social conservatives." 

For instance, if employers or landlords/ladies are allowed to discriminate against LGBT people, well, that has a direct financial impact on that group.  If the forced-birth movement succeeds in making abortion and most woman-controlled forms of contraception illegal, well, that has a direct financial impact on women's ability to control their fertility, to plan their education or their working lives.*

I have always been exasperated by that distinction between "cultural" and "economic" issues in politics, because the former are not about the cuisines, music, art or literature of various cultural groups but partly about which people are allowed to compete in the economic sphere on equal grounds.  To not see that might mean that you didn't draw that short stick in the games the social conservatives play. 

For two extreme examples of the economic impact of cultural or religious rules,  consider societies such as the apartheid era South Africa or today's Saudi Arabia:  The segregation of races or sexes** directly handicaps the less powerful segregated group, because they will be isolated from the ruling powers, the best jobs and the ability to influence societal decision-making.

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*  And also because sex discrimination would become more rampant.  Few employer would be willing to promote or train workers who might have to drop out without any notice because of unplanned pregnancies.  This type of statistical discrimination against fertile-age women as a group is already happening, but it would be far stronger in the forced-birth dystopian world.

**  The latter is a clearer example of cultural or social issues than the former.  You might want to think why that is the case.  I suspect it's because sexism is still a fairly acceptable global value with long and deep roots in religions and essentialist thinking.