Friday, March 04, 2016

Trumpeting One's Own Horn. Where Echidne Explains US Republican Politics to An Alien.

As I mentioned below, it is tough to write about the US politics with sarcasm and irony, when politicians themselves go on dick measuring competitions in public debates.  After all, exaggeration is one of the tricks in the sarcasm-and-irony bag, and Donald Trump stole my thunder the other night when he assured the Murkan Peeple that he, indeed, is humongously endowed down there.

Imagine trying to explain what happened in that debate to an alien from outer space, one with great intelligence and understanding of interplanetary ethics differences, but who doesn't have much knowledge about our earthly cultures and customs.

It would go something like this.  Echidne The Professor in the process of explaining:

"Here is one representation of a male human naked.  What Trump talks about is the vertical tube between the legs of the statue, the bit that floats on top of the two spherical objects:

Mr. Trump wants to reassure his voters that his vertical tube is longer (and/or wider?) than some of his critics have argued*.  This makes him well qualified as a world leader."

The alien will then ask what the functions of that tube are:  "Is it used to think deep thoughts?  Can it toss out radiation or shoot nuclear bombs?  Can it smite the enemies?"

I answer:  "No.  It is used by male humans to release liquid waste matter from the body after the liquids have gone through the digestive process which extracts what the body needs from them. The tube is also used as an insemination device in two-sex reproduction.  The male seed comes out of that tube and enters the female human's reproductive channel."

The alien will turn thoughtful, think for several minutes, sigh deeply (I assume oxygen-use by this alien).  Then it will ask: " Is the amount of liquid waste matter proportional to the size of the tube?  Is it a flammable, acid or otherwise noxious substance which can be sprayed on potential foes?  Of military use in that sense?"

My answer:  "As far as I know, the size of the tube has no correlation with the functions it has.  Small tubes and large tubes work with the same efficacy.  Possessors of large tubes do not produce more liquid waste matter or more semen."

The alien throws up what goes for its arms and shakes what can be assumed to be its head.  It asks why the size of the tube would matter at all, given that it doesn't appear to be functionally related to the job of running a powerful country.

Here Echidne gives a longer speech which is deleted here.  But the gist of it is that the length and/or girth comparisons of the tubes among male humans are linked to their competitive drive**, and that the tube, in its more stiffened form when ready for insemination,  is a synecdoche for the whole man.  The bigger the tube, the bigger the man.

But, the alien notes:  "Isn't there a female human running for the leadership of your country?  She lacks a tube.  How will she compete?"

And there you have it.

*  I'm told by reputable sources that he uses a wheelbarrow to trundle it around.  Were he to win the presidency, the wheelbarrow would have this insignia on it:

**  An example from another large country and its gung-ho leader.  Note the Moby Dick part:

How Do You Write Political Sarcasm When Reality Is Like This?

CNN, about Thursday's Republican presidential primary debate:

Donald Trump assured American voters Thursday night that despite what Marco Rubio had suggested, there was "no problem" with the size of his hands -- or anything else.
"Look at those hands, are they small hands?" the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination said, raising them for viewers to see. "And, he referred to my hands -- 'if they're small, something else must be small.' I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee."
If you are as innocent as I sometimes am, Trump is referring to a hypothetical correlation between the size of a man's hands and his penis.

Yes, he went there.

The Republican primary debate is now about the size of the candidates' penes (most likely the correct plural, not that any one candidate would have more than one of those).

What am I to write about this?  That should there be another debate all the candidates should whip theirs out because the voters need to know?

Thursday, March 03, 2016

This Is Beautiful, Just Beautiful. On The Women Of The Supreme Court And Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt

The US Supreme Court is currently hearing oral arguments about Whole Woman's Health v Hellerstedt, a Texas abortion case.  Dahlia Lithwick at Slate has written an excellent piece about those arguments and, in particular, the role of the three female Justices in interrogating the arguments.

This is a case where gender matters, where life experiences matter, where the personal indeed IS political and also vice versa.*

The Texas abortion case is actually two cases:

The case involves a crucial constitutional challenge to two provisions in Texas’ HB 2, the state’s omnibus abortion bill from 2013. The first requires doctors to obtain admitting privileges from a hospital 30 miles from the clinic where they perform abortions; the second requires abortion clinics to be elaborately retrofitted to comply with building regulations that would make them “ambulatory surgical centers.” If these provisions go into full effect, Texas would see a 75 percent reduction in the number of clinics serving 5.4 million women of childbearing age.

Lithwick's Slate article revels in the questions of Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan, questions which really are about the medical risks of abortion, as compared to other medical treatments.  Do read the whole piece.  To whet your appetite, notice how the following exchange nails the party-political nature of these types of cases:

Then it’s Kagan who moves in. Calmly, poker-faced, she asks Keller: “You said that as the law is now … Texas is allowed to set much, much higher medical standards, whether it has to do with the personnel or procedures or the facilities themselves, higher medical standards … for abortion facilities than for facilities that do any other kind of medical work, even much more risky medical work? Am I right?” 
Keller agrees. Then Kagan asks: “And I guess I just want to know, why would Texas do that?” The room erupts. Keller says complications. Kagan says that liposuction actually has greater complications. Keller says Kermit Gosnell. Kagan says nothing that happened in the Gosnell case could have occurred under Texas’ pre-existing regulations. Sotomayor says colonoscopies have more complications. Finally, Keller says, “But legislatures react to topics that are of public concern.” And that is what matters. Not women’s health. Politics.

Bolds are mine.

The bolded concluding sentences may be obvious in this context.  But I've met similar political motivations in my extensive reading of women's health studies, parenting studies and evolutionary psychology explorations into gender and sexuality.  What gets studied, by whom, and what gets popularized, and by whom:  all those aspects appear strongly motivated by traditional gender views and gender politics.

*  "Political is personal" follows if the Texas regulations remain in place.  The resulting unavailability of abortions in many parts of the state will directly impinge on the lives of poor women with unintended pregnancies.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Meet Robert Morrow, the Newly Elected Chair of Travis County GOP

The newly elected chair of Travis County Republican Party in Texas tweets:

Robert Morrow has written a book about Hillary Clinton with Roger Stone.  The book is called The Clintons' War on Women, but based on those tweets it's probably an investigation into the weird pornographic dreams of two weird Republican extremists. 

Morrow's twitter page tells us that he likes very large artificial breasts on women, one of his tweets tells us that he confuses himself with a male horse (a stallion):

I was absolutely certain that this was a hoax, but if it is, then wiser minds have been taken by it.  It's real!  Can we be so lucky?  Take out the popcorn and the nectar, put your feet up and prepare to watch the spectacle:  Trump has already had some political coattails!

What on earth is happening to the Republican Party?* 

Maybe it is like the story about  the man who somehow ended up riding a tiger, wondering how to get off its back before the tiger got hungry.  After many fruitless attempts to solve that dilemma the man finally fell off and -- lo and behold! -- the tiger indeed was a bit peckish by then.

A translation:  A party with the real platform of cutting the taxes of the wealthy and of loosening the regulations for large firms doesn't have a very vast voter base, because most people are not wealthy or the owners of large firms.  Rather, most people are going to be fleeced by those age-old Republican goals.  So how can such a party get enough votes to rule?

The answer:  Saddle a tiger!  That tiger is the rest of the Republican platform:  The appeal to fundamentalist theocracy-lovers, racists, sexists, xenophobes, homophobes and war-lovers.  Or, to put more politely, the support of traditional social hierarchies both at home and abroad.

And that tiger, when expertly ridden by the Republican establishment, indeed brought the necessary votes for several decades, even though the Republicans never quite fed the tiger with the bloody meat it desired. 

It was fed sparsely,  to keep the votes coming in the next election and the one after it (abortion is always almost illegal), while the true goals of the Republican Party were mostly achieved.  Hence the increasing incomes of the wealthiest,  the loss of jobs to outsourcing, the collapse of the housing markets and the financial markets, the loosening of environmental and occupational safety regulations and the minimal taxes on non-labor sources of income.

Well, the tiger has managed to scrape off its rider, and the tiger is hunnnngggry for something, anything, to eat. 

The Tea Party phenomenon should have told us that Feeding The Tiger had begun, the support of Donald Trump tells us that we are past the First Course.  What will the Main Course be?  It could even be some of those policies which favor the rich and well-heeled! 

What a wild ride.  A fierce battle for the heart-and-soul of the Republican Party must be taking place, but I can't predict its likely outcome, though I seriously doubt that we will see any moderation in the social conservatism of that party.

One Robert Morrow doesn't make a new morning in America (couldn't resist).  He is a blip in the screen and most likely gone soon.  But the Trump phenomenon will make bigger waves in both domestic and international politics.  And even if I might feel some Schadenfreude while watching the Republican establishment get their comeuppance, the resulting politicaq chaos isn't healthy for anyone.

*  And to the Texas Republican Party, in particular.


Monday, February 29, 2016

An Armed Society is a Polite Society

Like this:

A Prince William County police officer was shot and killed Saturday evening on her first day on the street when she responded to a call about a possible domestic matter, authorities said.
Two other officers were shot and wounded.
The slain officer was identified by police as Ashley Guindon

And like this:

The standoff began after David Wayne Campbell called a sheriff's office supervisor Friday morning to say he had done something bad and was suicidal. After hours of negotiations, police tried to flush Campbell out using tear gas. They say that's when he stepped outside and killed himself.
Reed was a neighbor of Campbell. Also killed in the standoff were Campbell's wife of six years, 49-year-old Lana J. Carlson, and her two teenage sons, Quinn and Tory Carlson. Authorities said Monday she adopted the boys from Kazakhstan before she met Campbell.
Campbell had an extensive criminal history, including felony charges.

And like this:

A gunman killed three people in a workplace shooting in Hesston, Kansas on Thursday afternoon, before being shot dead by an officer at the factory where the shooter worked.
The shooter also injured 14 people, 10 critically, until his rampage across several locations ended at Excel Industries, a manufacturer of turf-care products in Harvey County, 35 miles north of Wichita, Sheriff T Walton told reporters at news conferences on Thursday and Friday.
Walton said the shooter was an employee of Excel but declined to identify him or say how long he had worked for the company. The suspect was served with a protection of abuse order about 90 minutes before the attack, Walton said, adding that he believed the order was the trigger for the shooter to attack 90 minutes later.

And like this:

A 14-year-old boy pulled out a gun in a school cafeteria Monday and opened fire, hitting two students, and then ran from the school, threw the weapon down and was apprehended nearby with the help of a police dog, authorities said.