July 8, 2018

Pruitt the Faithful

A few days ago, Scott Pruitt resigned as head of the EPA, the latest departure in this revolving-door-like administration. In doing so, he penned a letter to the Orange Thing. Let’s have a look…

Mr. President, it has been an honor to serve you in the Cabinet as Administrator of the EPA.

And you use the term “honor” very loosely.

Truly, your confidence in me has blessed me personally

I wasn’t aware Orange Thing was capable of blessing people. Or of having confidence in them for that matter.

and enabled me to advance your agenda beyond what anyone anticipated at the beginning of your Administration.

Be it through catastrophic environmental damage or nuclear war, his agenda of turning our planet into a smoking husk will be realized much sooner than anyone would have thought, yes.

Your courage, steadfastness and resolute commitment to get results for the American people, both with regard to improved environmental outcomes as well as historical regulatory reform, is in fact occurring at an unprecedented pace and I thank you for the opportunity to serve you and the American people in helping achieve those ends.

In other words, we’re way ahead of schedule on that 2°C rise.

That is why it is hard for me to advise you I am stepping down as Administrator of the EPA effective as of July 6.

Now that wasn’t that hard, was it? Take note, Sessions! And Sanders. And Nielsen. And the rest.

It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity,

Someone has a cruuuuush…

but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring.

Look at those ice caps melt!

However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.

Yeah, really, all the horrific accusations about you having a private e-mail server and running a child trafficking operation at a pizza restaurant- Oh, wait, that wasn’t you…

I believe these are yours.

My desire in service to you has always been to bless you as you make important decisions for the American people.

You talk to and about the Orange Thing as if his occupation of the White House is ordained by God or something-

I believe you are serving as President today because of God’s providence.

I believe that same providence brought me into your service.

Actually, Orange Thing appointed you- Oh, that’s what you mean. Weird.

I pray as I have served you that I have blessed you and enabled you to effectively lead the American people.

No entity real or imagined anywhere ever has enough power to make the Orange Thing an effective leader. All you’re doing is feeding his already dangerously high narcissism by speaking to and about him like some god-king, for reasons I’m not really sure I want to know.

Thank you again Mr. President for the honor of serving you

You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

and I wish you Godspeed in all that you put your hand to.

Because when you’re famous they let you do it.

Your Faithful Friend, Scott Pruitt

This has been Day 46 of the 100 Days of Summer, Round 18.

July 4, 2018

This Is Not Who We Are

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,Assorted Politics,Think About It! — Katrina @ 10:03 pm

On July 22, 2016, around the time of the Republican National Convention, I posted this to Facebook:

I spent my 4th of July evening on a plane flying home from across the country. When the sun was out, I saw craggy desert that gave way to the Rocky Mountains that became flat farmlands. When it got dark, far below me, blinking on and off all over like lots of multicolored fireflies, were the fireworks shows. From above, on its special night, I watched my country sparkle. And under the sparkling were the people, in all the various terrains within our borders, from all walks of life, enjoying a cozy summer evening and watching bright flashy colors across the sky, saying “ooh” and “ahh” and “oh, look, a plane”. Diverse yet with a common bond. That’s who we are. That’s what it means to be American.

Yet, we have a presidential candidate and the major political party behind him peddling paranoia, xenophobia, bigotry, greed, and violence. Worse still, these things are being touted as “American”, that these things are not only desirable but are part of our national identity, that they are what makes us “great”. And the thing is, as the primaries have shown us, this is resonating. Maybe it’s because so many, of any political persuasion, whether in support or against, really are buying the idea that this is what it means to be American.

So let’s maybe drop that idea already. It is a dangerous lie. Don’t lend it any credence. We’re a diverse land and people who value freedom and human rights and other nice stuff like that. And when some ultra-narcissistic loudmouth seeks the highest office in the land by supposedly speaking for us all when he promotes fear and hate and the ugly manifestations thereof, we have to say NO! SHUT THE FUCK UP AND SIT DOWN! THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE!

The Orange Thing’s campaign seemed like a bad parody of white conservative American intolerance, from the longing for some imagined “great” past to the hostility toward Hispanic and Muslim immigrants, with the explicit notion that those white conservatives who have these beliefs are the only “real” Americans, that the rest of us either don’t exist or aren’t important or don’t belong in our own country. The rest of us make up the vast majority of the country, and surely, I and so many others thought, what he’s saying is so blatantly toxic and against everything we’re about.

But then, on the night of November 8, 2016, I reshared that post with the added comment:

THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE!

*looks at electoral map*

…right?

The following January, a few hours after Orange Thing made it official in front of probably anyone, at a resistance event at WES, I read the above post in the open mic portion. In person, through a microphone, with my actual voice, to a room full of people, I recited: “…And when some ultra-narcissistic loudmouth seeks the highest office in the land by supposedly speaking for us all when he promotes fear and hate and the ugly manifestations thereof, we have to say NO! SHUT THE FUCK UP AND SIT DOWN! THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE!” Followed by a round of applause.

It’s a year and a half later, and so so so much has happened, much of which I don’t even remember because it’s been one thing after another with this administration. There isn’t exactly anything great going on, that’s for sure.
(more…)

June 30, 2018

Immigrants Aren’t the Problem

Now for a migratory, border wall busting edition of…

SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!

This one is for just about anyone blaming immigrants for, well, anything.

We’ve all heard it. “They’re taking our jobs! They’re committing crimes! They’re costing tax money! They won’t even learn English or assimilate!” And so on.

Just stop. It’s been the same complaints over and over, ever since those horrible immigrants were Irish and even in other places. And it’s not clear why some of these complaints are specific to immigrants, as native born citizens are guilty of whatever the complaints are as well.

Oh, “they took our jerbs?” So are you saying that if you lost your job to a non-immigrant citizen it’d be fine? Wouldn’t you be just as without a job?

“They’re bringing drugs and gangs!” Right, because there aren’t any homegrown gangs? Trust me, even if all traffic in and out the country stopped, these things would continue.

“But it’s illegal immigrants that are the problem! They’re illegal!” So let’s make the path to legal citizenship easier then- Oh, you’re grumbling at that now? Okay, so somehow I don’t think the legality is what you’re so worried about. But I already knew that given all the jaywalking and neglecting to use turn signals that you do.

“But they don’t understand or care about American values!” Do you?

There’s no real backing to any of these usual anti-immigrant complaints, yet people are screaming bloody murder about them coming here as if this is life or death. No, you imbecile, it’s life or death for those who are coming here. They’re not leaving their home countries for shits and giggles. They are leaving because the situation at home has gotten extremely dangerous, such that their lives are on the line if they stick around.

So they come here to the US. And we should be PROUD of this! That when other countries unfortunately have problems and their people need someplace to go for safety, they see us and think “hey, that place looks great!” And they come here and become part of us and flourish. Isn’t that what we’re all about?

At least they would, except right now we’ve got dickheads in charge who recently decided it’d be a good idea to break up the families of those trying to seek asylum here. As in snatching small children from their parents and locking them away in their own camp, without any real means of being able to reunite them, all because these people had the gall to -gasp!- try to come into this country and HOLY SHIT this is a real thing that is happening in my country and how the fuck is anybody okay with this?!

Except for Jeff Sessions, who gleefully declares it a means of deterring these desperate people from trying to come here, because, well, it’s already obvious he has no soul, but I think his presence also saps the life force of anyone in his general vicinity. This is just plain raw evil right before our eyes, as this country’s Attorney General, and he does this believing there is a base to appeal to with this behavior. That the people who share in this evil, who are all for it and genuinely believe it’s good for the country, are the only people in this big diverse country worth appealing to.

And, you know, even if all the above paranoia about immigrants were true, and even exclusively so for immigrants, how is this sadistic backlash justified? How is ripping a terrified toddler from his mother’s arms and locking him up hundreds of miles away without any means in place of returning him no matter what happens with the rest of the family even remotely an appropriate response? Or, since that practice was finally ordered to halt a few days ago, locking them all up indefinitely? Why is there such a deep-seated fear of immigrants, be they Latin Americans or Syrians or whoever else, that anyone could believe them so deserving of the most horrific treatment for simply trying to come here? That this attempt to migrate here is deserving of swift and terrible retribution? What the fuck kind of country are we to behave this way, and what the fuck kind of people do we have here who look unflinchingly at this and think “this is fine”?

I don’t have an answer for that. Other than that it may be apathy or simply not knowing what to do or what can be done. Or in the case that they do truly believe all this is fine and good, and there is a fair share of them, they’ve been lied to for a long time. Because it’s not like such people feel this way due to specific incidents with immigrants. Even if they lost their jobs or were victims of some crimes due to illegal immigrants, somehow they had to be convinced it was the illegal immigration aspect to blame rather than anything else. Somehow they’ve been convinced not to look at the hiring practices and motivations behind those who might take an illegal immigrant employee over a citizen, that they might perhaps see an excuse to pay this person less and threaten them with deportation if they complain about treatment. It’s like, why blame those in power who create the problem when you can blame the powerless desperate migrant who has so much more to lose?

And that’s the core of it all here. Those screaming against immigrants are doing it because someone wants them to and is happily stoking the paranoia. Someone pointed to the immigrants, said they were the reason for the economic hardships of much of our population, and that population swallowed this right up and watches the indefinite migrant detentions with glee. Without a care for the long-term effects, be they personal for those migrants or for all of us for being citizens of the country responsible for it.

Immigrants aren’t the problem. Whoever is trying so hard to make you believe they are is the actual problem.

This has been Day 38 of the 100 Days of Summer, Round 18.

April 7, 2018

If They Could

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Going Places,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:26 am

So I was at the March for Our Lives in DC two weeks ago, joining in with WES, who I somehow managed to find in the crowd.

Check out my sign!

Yup. I figured everyone else would have the basic gun control angle well covered, so I went the voting age route, if with a well-deserved jab at the NRA to play to the audience.

And if this whole thing isn’t a major reason for lowering the voting age, I don’t know what is. But more on that in a moment.

The speakers were mostly Parkland students, as well as survivors and friends and family of victims from that and other shootings, all demanding an end to gun violence, all urging our leaders to take action. All calling for sensible gun control.

Not that that’s a simple solution. Gun control has its own complexities and can very easily be racist, ableist, and numerous other inequalities (which, not being Kathleen, I’m not going to sit here and spend ten paragraphs naming!). Certainly not even those at the march would be in agreement as to what that would look like, as some just want guns to be more difficult to get, requiring background checks and perhaps licensing, while others straight up want the Second Amendment repealed.

But all that aside, gun control as a response to school shootings would be significant in a way I hadn’t really even realized before. Until one of the speakers straight up said they do not want zero tolerance policies.

That’s right. Zero tolerance policies and other academic security theater, making the schools become somehow even more like prisons, are often the go-to response from policymakers when these atrocities happen. We’re seeing calls for harsher school environments. The idea being that if students are super restricted they won’t shoot or be shot.

In other words, instead of going with gun control, which would directly affect and restrict adults and acknowledge that adults must accept responsibility and make sacrifices, whatever they may specifically be, they go for zero tolerance policies and tougher schools, all of which pin all the restriction and blame on the young students they’re supposedly protecting.

They also say that #WalkUpNotOut bullshit, telling students not to walk out and demand change but to just “walk up” to some lonely classmate and befriend him so that he doesn’t flip out and shoot everyone. Which, while certainly befriending people is good, is just more of adults shirking responsibility and blaming the problem on young people and bullying, with a side of “therefore, sit down and shut up because it makes me uncomfortable when you challenge authority or think critically except where doing so is convenient for me”.

To these adults, it’s all a young people problem, young people need to be made to behave and kept on a short leash, and if adults are responsible for anything it’s that they’re not being tough enough with those horrible young people.

And, of course, gun control would affect voters. The students being heavily restricted and nonetheless still shot at aren’t old enough to vote.

That’s also why I’m so dismayed at the push to raise the firearm purchase age to 21. As I said before, it doesn’t actually accomplish anything or force our society to tackle the hard questions around guns. It just, like with the zero tolerance policies, pins the blame on young people and calls that a victory. They rightly see zero tolerance as the pathetic cop out that it is, yet somehow raising the purchase age is any better? Vast majority of these mass shooters were well over 21, and the deaths of their victims weren’t any less tragic and horrifying. Nikolas Cruz is only 19, sure, but I doubt an age restriction would have stopped him here, or that in two years he’d be over whatever made him do this and that he’d be all sunshine and roses. Not that I think he should have been able to get an AR-15 however he did, but that should be a question of the general population’s ability to get one rather than picking on and thus blaming young people.

After all, blaming young people is just going to make this worse. Not only are policymakers choosing to place restrictions that apply only to young people and not anyone or very many old enough to vote while ignoring gun control policies which would apply outside of schools and affect adult voters and actually be effective (or at least much moreso than zero tolerance policies and increased age restrictions), but in showing little willingness to consider more effective options, they’re making clear that, despite the thoughts and prayers, they don’t really care that much that these kids are dying. After all, they are teenagers, a group thoroughly villified at all corners of society. Teenagers are nothing but trouble, something their voters must put up with. The voting parents are devastated, absolutely, and that’s where there’s some lip service to these voters having lost cherished property but not much more. Even after Sandy Hook and the victims being much younger, nothing was done. Kids might make adults as a whole feel sentimental, but it doesn’t mean they value their lives enough to make widespread societal change for them. Except where they can make themselves look like they care to score points with other adults.

Hence my sign.

The march included frequent reminders to vote in November, against those who just do and say whatever the NRA tells them. Those who would rather make schools more restrictive and punitive than even think that an adult might not need to be able to get a semiautomatic weapon that easily. Because, as the march concluded, we must remember the children at the ballot box.

And I was standing there with gritted teeth, thinking “there’s an obvious change to call for here… politically active teens needing to beg adult voters to vote a certain way… we’re just a few miles from three towns that did it… come on…”

Because, seriously, would this be an issue if these teens could vote? I mean, yeah, probably, but all this highlights what a gross injustice it is that they can’t. They want safer schools and for these mass shootings to stop, but because they don’t have the franchise, elected officials aren’t under all that much obligation to listen or care except where those of voting age show solidarity. Because the group that is endangered in these shootings, the students, isn’t considered a group worth having a voice except by way of parents and teachers, which is of course not good enough. Lower the voting age to 16, and make the high school students a voting bloc who can tip the election results one way or another, and suddenly the candidates can’t afford not to listen to their demands or at least stop scapegoating them.

This isn’t just wishful thinking on my part. Lowering the voting age has very much been part of the conversation here, with a slew of articles and whatnot coming out around this issue here and here and here and here and here and here and here. The Parkland students’ activism, while not about this specifically, absolutely demands it. Without the youth vote, adults can much more easily simply choose not to listen.

Without the youth vote, adults can much more easily not care when young people die.

March 21, 2018

Nothing but a Number and a Distraction

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Decrees!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:36 pm

I hereby decree…

Age restrictions aren’t solutions to serious social problems.

For one, they are in and of themselves a serious social problem. But even if you don’t care about that, there is still a lot to be concerned about with a reliance on age restrictions when faced with a public health challenge.

With still more horrifying mass shootings in recent weeks, talk of gun control vs gun rights has surged as expected. It’s a messy issue that I mostly stay out of as I really have no strong feelings or a lot of direct knowledge about it. But there’s still plenty of terrible ideas floating around, especially the suggestion to arm teachers, which is without a doubt just about the worst idea in the history of the universe.

Of course, there’s also calls for raising gun purchase ages to 21.

Which, aside from age restrictions being harmful discrimination against young people that exacerbates their already severe marginalization, is completely beside the point.

Raising the gun age does nothing about all the politicians who are in the NRA’s pocket. It does nothing about navigating the balance between good faith self defense measures and enabling someone who wants a lot of people dead. It does nothing about reconciling gun restrictions with those who feel this would be an attack on their culture. It does nothing about making sure any gun control measures or enforcement aren’t racist or ableist or otherwise target or scapegoat vulnerable populations. It does nothing about the conditions of certain institutions of our society that might drive someone to want to commit some atrocity in the first place. It does nothing about all the guns adults can still purchase and thus are still being put out into the world (something the retailers raising their gun sale ages don’t seem to mind continuing to profit from). These are the complicated issues, among many others, that need to be addressed to do the issue of guns any justice. At best, acting like an age restriction solves anything is a waste of energy, but worse it distracts from the real issue in all its complexity, making the age of a shooter at all important, making fixing that a goal, such that when it’s done someone can claim a victory without having really done anything. And given that, while this complicated issue is being negotiated, people are dying, distracting it with unrelated tangential non-issues is downright irresponsible. Focus on the matter at hand and leave age (and mental health, by the way) out of it.

And it happens in other areas.

States have been raising their age to purchase cigarettes from 18 to 21, just to say, hey, look at us championing public health. Even though most smokers are much older than that. They say the age restriction is because it’s easier to get addicted when you start young, but this then really just takes responsibility off older smokers to quit. When raising the age is touted as some big solution rather than a pathetic grasping for straws, then the issue of smoking is made to be a young people problem, that the problem isn’t that the tobacco industry is making bank putting out a deadly product but that those who use it are the wrong age.

And let’s not forget alcohol and the questionable logic allowing one to sincerely believe you stop drunk drivers by raising the drinking age to 21, rather than, say, doing something about actual drunk drivers. Or, like with cigarettes and guns, questioning the industry and culture that promotes and clings to alcohol so hard despite all the harm it does.

Seriously, with these and more, look for an age restriction someone wants to raise or enforce more strictly, and I’ll show you an actual serious social issue that’s being avoided. If young people are being restricted like this because of some personal or social hazard, maybe we should be looking at that hazard and its place in our culture.

Okay, so I’m not saying the age restriction is always at the expense of actual concrete solutions. But it does present itself as a bandage, as a comparatively simple fix to rally around just to be able to notch a victory. It makes one look like they’re taking action, doing something they think is at worst harmless and perhaps common sense anyway (which, of course, isn’t even close to true, but that’s what they believe), and patting themselves on the back for being on the right side of progress. And advocates need to wise up and stop falling for it.

In truth, age restrictions are far less about safety than about adult policy makers making themselves look good and responsible to one another while simultaneously shifting blame off themselves. And it’s so easy to do, because we’ve been conditioned from a young age to equate an adult restricting a young person with responsibility, without questioning the efficacy or morality of the restriction, without wondering that the adult has their own difficult questions to answer and changes to make on the issue.

Believe it or not, young people having even the slightest bit of freedom and autonomy isn’t the cause of all or even any of the world’s problems. If we truly want to solve anything, if we truly want to see meaningful change and save lives, stop acting like it is!

January 31, 2018

False Alarm

Filed under: Assorted Politics,WTF Did I Just Write? — Katrina @ 5:58 pm

Hawaii: Everybody okay? No threat. Let’s just breathe. It’s okay. It’s okay-

FCC: WTF Hawaii? You really fucked this up big time. Fix your shit.

Hawaii: …

Hawaii: …..

Hawaii: ALRIGHT, THAT DOES IT! I have put up with this bullshit for too fucking long!

Other 49 states: !!!!!

Hawaii: You know what? I was happy as an independent country. Fuck you guys. I’m seceding.

South Carolina: Been there. Done it.

Hawaii: And what has being a part of the United States gotten us? Our native people and culture attacked and nearly decimated.

Oklahoma: Actually that makes you very much part of us.

Hawaii: And, you know, forgive me for thinking an Asian country that doesn’t like the US very much might be wanting to bomb me because it’s not like it’s happened- Oh wait, it’s happened before, December 7, 19-fucking-41, the day that lives in infamy! You all got through World War II mostly unscathed, but look at the bullshit I went through.

California: Oh, I had some bad things going on over here I’d like to forget.
(more…)

November 30, 2017

The First Thanksgiving

Isn’t there anyone who knows what Thanksgiving is all about?!

Sure, I can tell you what Thanksgiving is all about. Lights, please?

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

This is Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863, officially declaring Thanksgiving a holiday, continuing to this day, changed only when FDR made it the fourth November Thursday rather than last, so we celebrated a week ago rather than today.

There were earlier proclamations of specific thanksgiving days with very similar text by earlier presidents here and there, but Lincoln’s is about where it was mostly set as an annual thing where it still is now.

What I don’t see is anything about the pilgrims at Plymouth. About two and a half centuries earlier. It’s mentioned at the above link, but also mentioned is there were numerous such feasts through the then colonies around the time.
(more…)

September 30, 2017

All Politicians Are Adults

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Decrees!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:50 pm

I hereby decree…

Stop saying badly behaving politicians are “acting like children”.

Or any derivative thereof. Including referring to a lone sensible one as the “adult in the room”. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but all politicians are adults. All mayors. All governors. All of the House. All of the Senate. All White House staff. Even the President.

Yes, even that Orange Thing currently occupying the White House.

Think of all the horrible shit Orange Thing has done. Or, no, don’t do that. It’s depressing. Think then that it’s too depressing to think about all the horrible shit Orange Thing has done and continues to do. In any case, there are a number of words to throw at him. Racist. White supremacist. Sexist. Bigot. Loudmouth. Xenophobe. Narcissist. Sociopath. Evil. And countless others.

So why then, given all that, would you pick “child”? What about calling NFL player protesters “sons of bitches” while saying neo-Nazis are “fine people” makes you think “innocent little kid new to the world and figuring things out”? What about trashing the mayor of a hurricane-ravaged city asking for help makes you think “likes to drink from juice boxes while learning about shapes and watching Doc McStuffins”?

Yet, whether the images around inauguration time showing a leather desk chair being wheeled out of the Oval Office and a high chair being carried in, whether the sign I saw at the Women’s March that said “Maybe he’s teething”, whether countless others calling him a toddler throwing a tantrum, “child” seems to be a popular go-to “insult” to hurl at him.

In response to this, a week before the inauguration, I posted this to I Support Youth Rights:

Donald Trump is a racist, misogynist bully who supports torture, advocates war crimes, mocks the disabled, threatens those who oppose him, and brags about sexual harassment, among many many many other things that add up to him being absolutely abhorrent.

But you know what he isn’t? A child. He is in fact doing all of the above as an adult. Everyone who voted for him is also an adult. His various questionable appointees are all adults. Children are completely innocent here.

So those of you who think you’re insulting Trump by calling him a child, really? All of the above and more said, and what offends you about him is that he reminds you of someone who was born only a few years ago? Do you actually think all of the above is typical childhood behavior? In any case, when in light of all this behavior you call him a child, the only ones you’re insulting are children, who are, again, completely innocent in all this and yet still are in danger of the damage the incoming administration is poised to do to healthcare, the environment, civil rights, and so much more.

So cut it the hell out.

This was posted in January, before so many things happened. Sigh.

But of course it stands. If the Orange Thing actually were a child, that would be an immense improvement. But he’s a 71-year-old man. A vile 71-year-old man. I mean, any damage a small child might do would be by accident. The Orange Thing knows exactly what he’s doing. Or he at least decidedly doesn’t care.

August 15, 2017

A Gross Misuse of Tiki Torches

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,Assorted Politics,In the News — Katrina @ 10:49 pm

So… stuff happened in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend.

A bunch of white supremacists heard the town was moving a Robert E Lee statue, so they flipped out and marched on the park, with their torches… Wait a minute!

Are those… those backyard barbecue mosquito repellent torches you can get at Target? What’s wrong, guys, not ruggedly manly enough to get a big stick out of the woods and ignite it? Seriously, look at these stupid assholes. I feel like this isn’t so much a mob of white supremacists as a boggart that initially appeared as a mob of white supremacists but you’ve already said “Riddikulus!” Are we supposed to be afraid of these fuckbags? 😆

Well, not afraid, but definitely not unconcerned. One of them did run his car over a crowd of the counterprotesters, killing one and injuring a whole lot of others. These public manifestations of theirs do embolden their supporters, validating their spurious white superiority beliefs and putting others in danger. Doesn’t help (if not the least bit surprising) that the Orange Thing currently occupying the White House took two whole days to even kind of sort of say anything close to “racism is bad, mmmkay” in response to this. And today pretty much walked it back and blamed leftists because of course he did.

And we of course have not seen the last of this. Not at all.
(more…)

May 26, 2017

WTF Montana?

So you may have noticed there seems to be more bad behavior than usual in US politics. I mean, this was painfully realized last November, confirmed in January, and has been a not-sure-whether-to-laugh-or-cry spectacle ever since. The Orange Thing that’s been occupying the White House the past few months has bragged about sexual assault, mocked a disabled person, advocated war crimes, and, dear God, I’d be here for the rest of the decade if I were to even attempt a comprehensive list. But his party and supporters still stick by him. They still excuse this behavior.

But I didn’t mean to talk so much about him. Montana just elected a congressman who literally physically attacked a reporter who was merely asking him questions.

That’s right, elected. This incident happened on Wednesday night, the night before Special Election Day. In any decent or just universe, this would have been the end of him. But sure enough, despite there being some question as the race has been kind of close, Montana voted him right in.

While some have chalked it up to early voting, that many or most Montana voters had already cast their ballots before this happened, surveys taken at polling places yesterday are less than encouraging. People who knew full well that this man, Greg Gianforte, physically assaulted an innocent journalist, Ben Jacobs, still happily voted for him.

Because they believed the liberal journalist deserved it.

You know, yeah, we all know politicians have always been kind of terrible, to varying degrees anyway. You sort of have to be kind of terrible to succeed in it, sadly. But for the most part, they tend to at least pretend they are not terrible. They at least acknowledge there are certain behaviors that are unacceptable, even if so many get caught in their share of scandals. Even when caught, they and those around them might not try to act like it was all cool. They might still support them otherwise, but they acknowledge some wrong was done. That’s how it’s supposed to work anyway.

But whether the Orange Thing or Gianforte or whoever else (including those who aren’t Republicans, not pretending Democrats or others are at all innocent), it’s like some sort of party unity comes before everything else.

It’s like…
“Did you know Candidate hasn’t paid taxes in two decades, is cheating on his wife, and likes to kick puppies?”
“Yeah, but Other Candidate is Other Party and therefore evil. Also, her e-mails.”

Again, this is nothing new. It just seems to be getting a lot more blatant. A lot more shameless.

That there is the problem. Where is the line? The Orange Thing seems to be going out of his way to cross it, and why the hell hasn’t he yet for so many? And Gianforte and who knows how many others seeking elected office are getting the clear message that they can behave badly all they want, that being violent and out of control is the path to success.

We need to hold our leaders and ourselves a LOT more accountable than this. We need to fully understand that, no, the journalist did not deserve to be straight up body slammed just because of his political affiliation and because he was asking a tough question which, you know, any elected official had damn well better have thick enough skin to handle if they expect to get anywhere. We can’t have so many people in this country not understanding that.

The survival of our country depends on us all getting this. Violence like this out of someone wanting to be a congressman, and violence against a member of the press no less, which undermines the First Amendment, is the kind of thing that, if it becomes more commonplace, we can say goodbye to considering ourselves anything close to a free society. As it is, we have a police brutality problem, and there are too many people defending that for sure. How much worse can we let this get? How much more is going to be excused because of authoritarian beliefs or partisan rage?

Because this shit is not even close to okay!

This has been Day 3 of the 100 Days of Summer, Round 17.

August 28, 2016

Atlanta 2016, Part 2: Civil Rights & Coke

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,Assorted Politics,Foodz,Going Places — Katrina @ 5:53 pm

Part 1 – Part 2

I got up a little after 8am, packed my little bag, and headed on down to check out of the hotel, as I wouldn’t be able to come by again later.

I wandered down Peachtree Street some ways to the stop, and soon enough here came the Atlanta streetcar. I had my MARTA card ready to pay, but there did not seem to be anything to tap nor did anyone ask. I got to my destination, for which I decided against walking as even at now around 9am it was already like 95 degrees, after what ended up being a free ride. Hmm.

Anyway…

Respect. *salute*

In front of which is some kind of sacred gas leak.

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December 15, 2015

Environmental Progress

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Christmas Time!,Science,What the hell? — Katrina @ 11:42 pm

Where does anyone get this ridiculous idea that being more environmentally friendly means impeding human progress? As if it’s one or the other. As if wanting to reduce pollution is against technology or something.

I’ve seen some of my friends make this sort of claim, particularly libertarians. And it’s pure political posturing, and as with most or all political posturing, it makes no sense.

Here’s a thought. Maybe a new technology that is more environmentally friendly than its predecessor is in itself a form of human progress. What an idea!

Instead of this whole “you want to reverse climate change? how dare you disparage the invention of the telephone!”, or, more to the point of what people who say this are really thinking, “how dare you impede a business’s right to destroy the planet!”, how about “hey, climate change is a problem, we need renewable energy, let’s embark on finding ways to solve these problems via, you guessed it, new science and technology!”?

This is obvious if you think about it for five seconds. Though if you’re just trying to make some political point, thought has nothing to do with anything.

December 14, 2015

Unchecked Power

Ever notice how our world seems to give unchecked power so much benefit of the doubt? Or, well, I suppose that’s true by definition as, if it weren’t given benefit of the doubt, then it wouldn’t be unchecked.

Look at some of the reactions in cases of police brutality. “Oh, well, he must have done something wrong for the police to have gone after him in the first place. They wouldn’t beat him up or shoot him for no reason.” You know, because apparently if a police officer so much as looks at you, it just makes sense to these people that you might as well kiss your ass goodbye, rather than, you know, saying “hey, this is wrong!” like any decent person would.

There’s also child abuse. Parents have near limitless power over their children, which very much allows for abuse, and abuse is very much rampant, but when it happens, you get reactions like “oh, well, the kids are probably exaggerating or outright lying, just ungrateful brats who probably deserved it, all parents love their children!” Ignoring that, for one, no they fucking don’t, and that they have no actual reason to believe the kids are lying, or to know for sure either way for that matter. But what is known is that parents who want to commit unspeakable crimes against their children could do so very easily, and pretending they just don’t or wouldn’t is very dangerous.

Then there’s war crimes. A hospital or school or the like gets bombed, killing a bunch of innocent civilians. And what’s the response? “Oh, well, that’s war for you. Sometimes civilians get killed. In fact, they probably weren’t so innocent and were likely hiding the bad guys so they probably deserved it.” Based on absolutely nothing. Just more of avoiding the necessary task of calling out what’s horribly wrong and instead trying to justify it.

Know what else? God! If an omnipotent God allows all of the above and more and worse to happen, who’s telling him to knock that shit off? It’s always “God works in mysterious ways! Everything happens for a reason! God loves us!” Yeah, meanwhile, somewhere in the world, a four-year-old girl just died of an infection caused by a ritual genital mutilation, but sure, yeah, loving omnipotent God we should continue worshiping.

True, a lot of this comes from feeling helpless, seeing many of these forces not as always right but as all-powerful and therefore there’s no choice but to assume rightness. And just plain not knowing how to change anything and finding it easier to tell the victims that they were the ones who were wrong, to give the illusion that we have more control over our fates than we actually do. But we can understand that tendency and still acknowledge it’s wrong. I mean, you don’t need to know exactly how to make a certain change in order to speak up about what’s wrong. Shit, if you had to, about 90% of those protesting or raising awareness about just about anything would be out of work! But there’s bad things happening. Acknowledge that they are bad and quit making excuses for them.

December 2, 2015

Triggering

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Christmas Time!,Shut the Hell Up! — Katrina @ 11:49 pm

Now for a traumatic, censoring edition of…

SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!

I want everyone to just stop talking about trigger warnings. Particularly the idea that they’re ruining colleges or something. For one, I think basically nobody talking about them, whether for or against, even knows what the hell they are for.

If you’re going to be discussing in detail something like rape or other sexual assault, child abuse, medical abuse, or other such topics that you can reasonably figure would be disturbing, yeah, it makes sense to give a little heads up ahead of time. Doesn’t it? Of course it does.

Oh, hey, guess what. That’s exactly what a trigger warning is!

It’s called that because these topics in depth could “trigger” one’s post traumatic stress disorder. Can’t have much of an educational environment if someone is shaking and reliving a horrific attack.

I especially don’t get how a trigger warning constitutes censorship as some are claiming. Nobody is being censored. It’s providing some content info up front so that someone who can’t cope with the material can opt out. It’s allowing people to make an informed choice. What in the mother of hell is so offensive about this?

Now, to be clear, plenty of those demanding such warnings and “safe spaces” are being unreasonable as well. I’ve seen “trigger warnings” for some incredibly stupid things. Some of my favorites on that front include “swearing” and “mention of Christianity”. I also don’t think they should be required of college professors or others, though they should at least be courteous of their own volition about topics that actually could fuck someone up psychologically rather than taking a decidedly cold “just suck it up” approach.

But then again, none of this matters. Who cares about nuance and facts and compassion when there are fruitless political battles to be fought, when there are millennials to belittle, when there are the unthinking masses to drum up into a frenzy? Let’s not forget what’s really behind all this. :irked:

December 27, 2014

Reproachable Rights

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Christmas Time!,What the hell? — Katrina @ 11:43 pm

(I wanted to call this “Right Doesn’t Make Right” but I already used that title for another post eight years ago. Oh, well!)

I’ve mentioned before that merely having the right to say something doesn’t mean you can’t be criticized for saying said thing. Yet so often when someone says something completely abhorrent or just stupid, and they get called on it, they come back with “Hey, free speech! I have a right to say it!”

No shit, you have a right to say it, dumbass! Nobody is saying otherwise. It’s not an attempt at censorship. It’s a reply. Replying is – gasp! – also free speech!

Seriously, a friend of mine shared a screen cap on Facebook recently of a conversation with an acquaintance, in which said acquaintance posted some racist article, and my friend asked why they’d post such an article, and the person literally came back with simply “Free speech.” My friend asked again, and the person gave no other answer.

As it often does, xkcd covered this one nicely.

This goes beyond speech, though. Sometimes those defending the right to something seem to act like any and all use of said right is okay or even heroic.

You see this with gun rights, where there’s a nasty shooting, and the problem is not that the shooter had a gun, but that everyone else didn’t. 🙄

You see it with abortion rights, too. Pretending every woman who has an abortion is a hero. Barely a word against those who abort because of the baby’s sex or (compatible with life) disability. Yes, you can support abortion rights and still say sex-selective or disability abortions are really shitty. Even in general, you can support abortion rights without necessarily even believing abortion is a good thing.

It’s an important distinction to make. Believing something to be wrong and believing something should be illegal are and should be very different things. It’s the difference between believing someone shouldn’t do something and believing said someone should be arrested/imprisoned/have their life ruined over it.

Imagine how much better the world would be if this distinction were more widely recognized!

December 20, 2014

Lack of Remorse

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Christmas Time!,What the hell? — Katrina @ 3:44 pm

You know what (among a lot of things) has been irritating me about the recent racially-based police violence, with Michael Brown and Eric Garner and others? How politicized it has gotten in ways that it has no business being politicized.

It should be a no-brainer that a police officer shooting an unarmed person is not okay. Even if you could say said officer, at that moment, had reasonable cause to shoot, you’d think there would at least be a little bit of remorse and regret about the incident. That there would be some genuine interest on the part of the police force and other related entities in preventing anything like it from happening again. Even if Michael Brown and Eric Garner were armed and ready to shoot the cops, there should still be at least some degree of regret about the deaths.

But there’s so much digging in of heels about it that everyone forgets to be compassionate humans. And worse it is for some reason divided along party lines. That the left wingers are calling for change in the racially-targeted police violence, while the right wingers fight tooth and nail to insist it’s either justified or not real. And the police forces, rather than apologizing for the incidents and pledging to prevent it in the future with any sincerity, stick by what happened unashamedly, blaming the victims for trying (without a shred of evidence) to take the officer’s gun or for being overweight.

Not to mention the “Support Darren Wilson” assholes. I really don’t know how they sleep at night.

December 19, 2014

Collateral Damage

There’s a lot of collateral damage in activism. When making points for change, you need to be careful. Who is getting thrown under the bus in your talking points?

In youth rights, we sometimes make the case, when someone goes on about how “undeveloped” teens’ brains are, that studies have shown that, despite this, teens’ brains function better than those of people over age 60. Which on its face is a good point, showing that we’re not so fussy about this same metric in another context. But I’m generally uncomfortable with it, because a “solution” to the double standard might be then to restrict the rights of the elderly. Though the intention is to expand the rights of young people, the flip side is the point throws the elderly under the bus.

A couple months ago, I saw at an event about climate change a print-out from some old article on Mother Jones. I don’t feel like looking for it, because fuck that article, but basically it was demonstrating how people in wealthier countries use up more resources than those in poorer countries (which is a major “no shit, Sherlock!”). And a lot of its points were basically about keeping the population low, so there’d be fewer people to use up resources and generate greenhouse gases. Points included: praising China’s one-child policy (you know, the one with the forced and sex-selective abortions and infanticide that resulted in a severely skewed gender ratio), implying that countries with the most unrest are in turmoil because such a huge portion of their population are young adults (you know, because young people just do nothing but start wars, right?), and even some completely ridiculous points about how apparently TV families are getting larger (their entire basis was the existence of the Duggars), and a few more that were just rotting my brain cells with each letter.

You know, no matter how much I might support a cause, I just can’t get behind the ridiculous hyperbole and fearmongering and outright lies that a lot of them resort to. Especially when, as said, some of this causes damage to other causes for human rights and whatnot.

And ultimately it’s self-defeating. It’s hard to defend your position on an issue when most of the points and info you’ve been given to use are full of shit. You have to spend so much time weeding out the bullshit to find the one tidbit that’s actually valid. And if most of what there is to defend the cause is so exaggerated, it discredits what’s real.

All of it is to make a serious problem look worse than it actually is. So the organizations and other entities working on it can get more support and funding. Like I mentioned before about how groups talking about child marriage in certain parts of the world are using a rather loose definition of “child marriage” in order to inflate the number of “victims” to make the problem look even worse than it already is.

The groups who do this know they’re doing this and are often proud of it. There’s usually the “yeah, that video is fake and the facts are pulled out of our ass, but it truly really is a serious problem and needs your attention!” They don’t seem to care that all they did was expose themselves as shameless liars.

For God’s sake, these causes and movements are only necessary to fix a problem. They are a huge waste of time in the long run. But these people turn it into a morbid self-promotional tool in and of itself. Where doing good for people comes second to making damn sure you look like you’re doing good for people. 🙄

December 12, 2014

The Right to Privacy

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Christmas Time!,Teh Interwebs,Think About It! — Katrina @ 11:24 pm

How can people honestly worry about their right to privacy in this age of social media? People tweet constantly. People share their meals on Facebook all day long. They share their exact locations whenever they migrate to a different location. How, oh, how can people do all this while worrying about the government or police or whoever spying on them and knowing where they are and what they’re doing at all times when they share all this info freely anyway?

Easily.

Because the important difference with all the social media sharing is that it is freely chosen. Not everyone shares all these details or is interested in having a wide audience for these things. Some people do. And those people retain the right at any time to no longer share these details.

With other entities spying, it is outside of one’s control. It is invasion and coercion at that point. It is the removal of one’s autonomy.

Autonomy is so undervalued. :pissed:

December 3, 2014

The Rest of Life

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Christmas Time!,Science,Think About It! — Katrina @ 11:28 pm

There’s a quote by Neil deGrasse Tyson floating around, from an appearance with Bill Maher a few years ago, where he recalls noticing that the backgrounds of many Congressmen and Senators is law. And that he wondered “where are the scientists? where are the engineers? where is the rest of life represented?”

I’ll admit when I started writing this, already intending to speak on this quote, I hadn’t heard/seen the quote in context. When searching for the exact text, I instead found the above-linked video and heard his whole spiel. He precedes the above discussing that, with all these politicians having a law background, being trained specifically to argue, they are trained to basically argue their side and never come to an agreement. Okay, I may or may not be summarizing it well. Just watch the video and let him speak for himself!

The context doesn’t change what I intended to say, though. In fact, it just confirms it. He asks where the scientists and engineers are. I’ll tell you where they are… being awesome scientists and engineers and not wasting their time with political bullshit!

You know what’s extremely expensive? Scientific research. Even the smallest simplest research is really damn expensive, let alone the dizzying costs of medical research or the astronomical costs of, well, space exploration. But it’s all worth it, even the research that turns out to be a dead end, because it’s the noblest cause of all. It’s gaining information and developing things with that information to make our lives better, to advance, to reach untold unimagined heights. There is no greater investment in humanity and in, well, all of life and the universe.

By contrast, you know what else is really expensive? Political campaigns. Politicians are always raising money to beat the crap out of their opponent. We’ve got people dying from cancer, Ebola, AIDS, and countless other maladies and afflictions, which many millions spent in research can do something about. What do politicians spend millions on? Running mind-numbing advertisements calling their opponents douchebags.

So I’d say we’re better off with the scientists and engineers continuing to be scientists and engineers!

Of course, before I heard the rest of Tyson’s speech, my point was going to pretty much end there. He’s right, though. It makes sense. Politicians are trained to argue incessantly, so that’s exactly what they are doing, with their campaign funds, with their House and Senate votes. They don’t want to make the world better. They just want to pretend they do in order to get money and votes, in order to beat the Other Guy, to defeat the Other Party.

He’s implying that, if more politicians had backgrounds in science and other fields, we may have politicians who don’t have that urge, who are more interested in facts and solutions and improvement than in demolishing one another. It’s certainly plausible, right?

Then I remember Ben Carson, former neurosurgeon now vocal Tea Partier who may or may not try to run for President in 2016, who equated ObamaCare with slavery.

Yeah, never mind. :irked:

July 4, 2014

7 Incredibly Stupid Criticisms of the United States

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,Assorted Politics,What the hell? — Katrina @ 2:13 pm

The USA has a lot of problems. Dear sweet God, are there a lot of problems! And that’s just what we know about. There’s also problems and major flaws we don’t even know about, and others we just don’t know the extent. So many many flaws this country of ours has!

These are not among them…

“When are you going to switch to the metric system like the rest of the world?”

We’ll switch to the metric system (which we learned in school alongside imperial measurements, by the way) when the UK, Ireland, Japan, India, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand start driving on the correct side of the road “like the rest of the world”.

“The national anthem mentions war and bombs! It’s the only one in the world that does!”

First of all, do you think Canada is the only other country in the world with a national anthem? Because it’s not, and plenty of national anthems are pretty bloody and belligerent. Also, have you actually listened to the Star Spangled Banner? It’s about our flag not getting torn to shreds in a battle. It’s about surviving being attacked, not us doing the attacking.
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