Politicians have always sought the power to control the meaning of language. But now this open warfare has raced past reprehensible to dangerous for democracy.
In the vicious descent to American unexceptionalism that politicians and their rich supporters are hellbent on winning (common folk and consequences be damned), the election has become a continuing chase for the authority to control language.
That’s what modern power has become: the ability to define a word, and to prevent others from doing so. Politicians rarely make coherent arguments any more; they instead try to co-opt the meanings of words. That’s why debates have been nonsensical: Candidates may utter the same words, but the meanings they assign to those words are vastly different.
Yesterday, Big Think posted an interesting collection of Gallup Poll results, along with some commentary: Obama Actually Made America Great Again. Here’s the Data. To hear the rabidly irrational Obama opposition on today, of all days, I can only say that these are funny numbers to describe how Obama has ruined America in eight years.
What’s truly deplorable is that, of all the ways Bush (with a boost from Dems) ruined America Continue reading →
Schlafly’s personal formula was to marry rich, employ a housekeeper while proudly touting her housewife credentials, follow her bliss (into enterprises for which she did not require a living wage), and then work to deny equality for all women.
We knew you too well and for too long, hypocrite extraordinaire.
She was a conservative who was against the New Deal, feminism (“Men should stop treating feminists like ladies, and instead treat them like the men they say they want to be.”), an equal rights amendment to the Constitution (“I simply didn’t believe we needed a constitutional amendment to protect women’s rights.”), legalized abortion, laws against the harassment of women in the workplace (“Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women.”), sex education for children in public schools (“Sex-education classes are like in-home sales parties for abortions.”), and the Supreme Court’s ban on teacher-led prayer in public schools (mind you, she only wanted Christian prayer in all children’s schools, of course). Continue reading →
This just gets touchier and more complex as the hours roll by. I feel like I’m watching a tennis match. I’m seriously gonna get a crick in my neck at this rate.
Martial law, simplified: when the government suspends ordinary law for the sake of keeping things orderly and peaceful during the kinds of extreme circumstances the government claims warrant their entirely reasonable reaction.
Horse race reportage, part umpteen. Special Edition: Not Election Coverage
I first spotted this tragic news at BBC, when there wasn’t yet anything world newsworthy about it, even from their own coverage perspective. One might notice the author was in such a rush to post they didn’t even bother to finish writing it first. The telltale error of haste that reveals the race to the bottom should embarrass an author not yet qualified to have their own byline.
Rule 1 of race to the bottom reporting: Be sure to include factoids that do not advance the non-story even a little, and don’t bother to edit it when done. Continue reading →
White man ISO white people to explain something to me
I have yet to take a strong stand on this whole #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter and #enoughwiththehashtagsmatter issue, and I’m fairly certain it’s a privilege thing that I, as a cisgendered white hetero man in farm country, have this luxury. I can’t help that. Continue reading →
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
A few weeks ago in a random historic-site parking lot in far-flung western Colorado I met a 60-something woman from Atlanta.
“You’re traveling alone? Well good for you. I always wanted to do that but I just don’t have the courage. Some day I will. You’ve never had any problems?”
This is a common question when people see me alone. A few variables in wording, some more direct language about scary people and places to avoid, but the sentiment is the same.
I’ve worked alone in many remote places over the years. I have occasionally stepped out of sight when I felt unsure about what was coming my way. I’m more often worried about destroying an axle on my pickup, not finding my way out of a random maze of canyons, or falling off a cliff than about other people.
I just had a chance to read this op/ed from last year’s NYT: What makes a woman? The subject is still timely, especially thanks to hijinks like those coming out of North Carolina’s statehouse. And I’ve riffed on it before, if with more vitriol. I was a meaner person back then. Now I can just rest on the laurels of my cis-gendered white male privilege, look at this modern debate and all those hoity-toity post-modern nonsensilists and be snide. It’s an important debate, exactly because it’s in the courts and involves human safety, but dammit people, bring your A-game. Continue reading →
America is famed – especially in our own collective mind – for being the greatest democracy in history.
This is a fun and noble self-image. But “democracy” is a word with a meaning, and have we ever, even for a second, fit the definition?
For the first several decades of our existence as a nation a significant proportion of the population wasn’t allowed to vote. In fact, as of 1860, nearly 4 million Americans – around 13% – were property. For fun, every time you hear the term “founding father” or “framers of the Constitution,” substitute a phrase like “wealthy slaveowner” or “legislative tool of the human chattel lobby” and see if it alters the tone of the discussion.
For the first 140 years, give or take, over half of the adults in the country – specifically the female half – weren’t allowed to vote.
I’m against tyranny. This is a popular political position. Americans pride ourselves on defending liberty from the machinations of malevolent power all over the world. It is our heritage, beginning with the Boston Tea Party, to demand that government be held accountable to the governed. Our ancestors answered the call of resolute and courageous leaders to fight the tyranny of their own government, and won. There were many, especially among the ruling class, who sided with the tyrant, did his bidding, and betrayed their fellow human beings for personal gain. Ultimately, they lost, despite all their money, connections, and cunning deceptions. This demonstrated one of the axioms on which America is founded, that the right of self-governance is a fundamental and inalterable component of human existence.
We have accepted more than 100,000 Somali refugees since 1991. In the last 25 years, 50 of them have become terrorists. That’s 0.05%, which is good, but not good enough for us. We want zero terrorists, including those who go back to Africa to kill people. We don’t want African people to die either. That is our strength, no quarter, no shadowy corner where the darkness can hide from the light. Continue reading →
I have been asked many times in my life whether I “believe that Jesus died for your sins?” Well, yes I do.
But I also believe that Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. died for our sins. Hey, I’m a Unitarian-Universalist.
And I believe that people continue to die every day for our sins. For the sins of greed, and
Cleveland’s homicide rate just topped 100 for the year. Up 80% from 2011—although the numbers have been rising every year.
In the past month that number includes 5 year-old Ramon Burnett, 3 year-old Major Howard, and 5 month-old Aaivelle Wakefield who was shot while strapped into her car seat. Five. Month. Old. Continue reading →