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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
Mary Arline's LiveJournal:
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|Monday, July 24th, 2017|
|Cruel twist of fate
I lost my job a month and a half ago. Today I got it back.
And while I'm grateful, I can't help thinking why--of all the people who have been let go from jobs that they loved in the last two months, or six months, or nine months or twelve months--did I get to be the one to get mine back?
If someone was going to get their job back, it should have been Steve Whitmire. Because his is not just a job, it's a vocation.
Why me and not him?
I mean, I know the real answer. It's because I was let go when the clinic I work(ed) for implemented a new records system, and they didn't think that they'd need transcription services anymore. But some of the doctors apparently aren't adapting to the new system very well and are still dictating, so it turns out they need someone to type that dictation. In my case, the people in charge didn't have a personal vendetta against me, so when they saw there was still a need, they brought me back.
Knowing that doesn't help, however. Yesterday I was worried about how I was going to pay my mortgage and bills this month. Now I'm thinking that, worst case scenario, I could just go home and live with my parents.
If I could get Steve his job back by giving up mine, I would do it in a heartbeat. But I can't. And I know that starving myself or wrecking my credit with a foreclosure isn't going to help anyone, least of all Steve.
But still. Fate is a fickle mistress. Current Mood: indescribable
|Monday, July 17th, 2017|
|Broader historical context
(This is overflow from a previous post
that I couldn't fit into an in-line footnote.)
At what point does "for the good of the country, let's put aside our differences and support President Bush," become "if you criticize the president, the terrorists win"?
And finally, at what point does "sure, Donald Trump is a loose cannon, but I'm sure he'll calm down eventually" become "although I find Trump's words and actions disgusting, I continue to support him because this election is about issues
." That last example courtesy of Representative Kristi Noem, whose sanctimony is outstripped only by her hypocrisy, circa October 2016, in response to the Access Hollywood bus tape. I should mention that I haven't been able to find the exact quote, so the above is a paraphrase, but the phrase "this election is about issues" is 100% pure, uncut Noem.
|Sunday, July 16th, 2017|
|Je réponds aux collaborateurs.
I've been frustrated by the response of Muppet fansites, particularly The Muppet Mindset
, in the aftermath of the Disney-Whitmire schism, so much so that I've been tempted to go all Keith Olbermann on their collective asses
. Which I wouldn't do, because then Keith Olbermann would go all Keith Olbermann on ME, saying that, with our democracy imperiled, now seems like a bad time to worry about the integrity of a bunch of puppets. And, microcosmic parallels aside, he would have a fair point.
I was going to go through each of the articles that rubbed me the wrong way and respond to each contentious point individually, but then I realized, I really only have a few issues to contend with, that I can address in a more general, global manner. So here goes:
The fansites have been rightfully criticizing the more hysterical, paranoid, rude, inappropriate, hurtful comments that small-minded trolls have been slinging about the Internet since the news broke. I join my voice with theirs in condemning the histrionic hate-spewing. And yet, I feel kind of condescended to with the tone of general chastisement and tut-tutting that Fairclough and especially Hennes have adopted with regards to the inappropriate behavior, the attitude of "Shame on us! Muppet fans should be better than this!" When, in reality, 95% of the negative noise is coming from probably less than 5% of the fandom, I don't appreciate being lumped in with a few loudmouth jerks, or being shamed for someone else's bad behavior.[*](I had 4+ years of that working at Relay, and that was quite enough, thank you very much.)
I think it's quite possible to speak critically of the decision while still taking the high road and not resorting to tasteless insults; that is what I have endeavored to do, and I will not apologize for it.
But what really rubs me the wrong way are the calls for conciliation with Disney, the basic theme being, "Come on, guys; let's give Disney the benefit of the doubt." To which I respond with only one word:
Why should we give Disney the benefit of the doubt? What have they done to deserve it? What have they done to earn our trust? ( How Disney has squandered their credibilityCollapse )
This is a pattern of behavior, of ruthless, greedy, shortsighted, self-serving, hypocritical behavior that I don't anticipate Disney changing anytime soon because it's been so profitable for them--financially speaking, although it has left them completely bankrupt when it comes to credibility. So when Steve Whitmire, whom I've never known to be anything but honest and trustworthy, essentially says that he was fired from Disney on a false pretext, and that Disney declined to negotiate with him or even meet with him face-to-face, I'm inclined to believe him, even though I don't know both sides of the story, because it's consistent with what I know of Disney and how I've known them to do business in the past.
Which is not to say that I wouldn't be receptive to hearing Disney's side of the story if they were inclined to give it. On the contrary, if they honestly believe that they have a good reason for firing Whitmire, I would be delighted to hear it. I'm more than willing to entertain an opposing point of view; I can respect a valid viewpoint, even if I disagree with it. But the fact that Disney hasn't said anything to refute Whitmire's side of the story makes me feel all the more justified in taking it at face value.
For me, it boils down to this: at what point does conciliation become appeasement? At what point does "let's be calm and rational and not jump to conclusions," become "don't say anything critical about Disney or they'll never release The Muppet Show
seasons 4 and 5 on DVD"? At what point does "give Disney the benefit of the doubt" become "for God's sake, don't do anything to anger the evil overlords, like calling them evil, because they hate that"? (For more examples in a broader historical context, click here
I don't know the answer to those questions, but I think it's telling when Jarrod Fairclough of The Muppet Mindset says, "I don’t know who to defend in this situation. If I defend Disney, I upset Steve [Whitmire]. If I defend Steve, I upset Disney
." Which, to me, is something akin to trying to justify not standing up to a bully by saying, "If I defend someone from a bully, then the bully might get mad and turn on me." Is that the way Jim Henson would want us to respond? Is that the way Kermit would want us to respond
It all reminds me of what Jon Stewart said on his final Daily Show
hosting appearance: "Bullshit is everywhere...the best defense against bullshit is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something
." Therefore I am obliged to say, with all due respect, that this whole Disney personnel decision stinks to HIGH HEAVEN
. Current Mood: defiant
|Thursday, July 13th, 2017|
|Seismic shift in the Muppet world
A couple years ago, I stopped my compulsive reading of Muppet fansites and Muppet news and such because it was getting to be a strain on, and a distraction from, my real life. I decided to temper my Muppet-related consumption and bring things back into balance. However, there has been a recent development in the Muppet universe that I must address because it is as significant as it is shocking.
The facts, as they were initially reported, are as follows: Steve Whitmire is no longer working with the Muppets, and Matt Vogel will be taking over performing Kermit the Frog. The lack of details regarding the reasons behind the upheaval (who cut ties with whom, and why) is as ominous as it is perplexing.
What is most upsetting to me is that, with all the other bizarrely ominous things going on in the country and the world, particularly with regard to a certain reality TV star and his sham presidency, I had to learn out about it through this disturbing and ill-conceived bit on the Stephen Colbert show
. Moreover, initial reports implied that Whitmire was leaving of his own volition, which was ominous in itself, because I know that he would never choose to leave the Muppets unless he had some sort of personal problem or issue that would prevent him from performing.Methinks that something is rotten in the state of Muppetdom
Fortunately, Steve Whitmire himself started a blog in order to set the record straight
. Probably. Here's the thing: we don't really have anything but the word of the blog author to confirm that he is in fact Steve Whitmire, and the sad truth is that we live in a world in which any random Internet weirdo can start a blog in which he claims to be Steve Whitmire, so we do have to take it with at least a small grain of salt. However, as of now there is no reason to believe that he is not the author either; the author is well-versed in Muppet lore, and the voice, tone, style, etc. is consistent with Whitmire's. Therefore, I will take the blog at face value unless I have a very good reason not to.
Whitmire goes into a bit more detail about his premature departure from the Muppets. He asserts that Disney cut ties with him rather than the other way around, informing him via phone as early as October 2016 that his services would no longer be required. He is still rather vague on the reasons for the dismissal, however; he makes reference to "their two stated issues which had never been mentioned to me prior to that phone call," but he doesn't get any more specific than that.
Every Muppet fan is going to have their thoughts and feelings, opinions and theories about what happened; what follows are mine. ( Read more...Collapse )
I know that what happens in the real world is more important than what happens in the Muppet world, but what is happening in the Muppet world is, I believe, sort of a microcosmic parallel to what is happening in the nation and the world at large. I mean, the date that Disney allegedly gave Whitmire his walking-papers phone call: October 2016. Just before the election. October 2016
. How odd that the Second Muppet Era was coming to an end at almost the same moment that our nation began facing the greatest threat to our democracy since the Alien and Sedition Acts.[*](I feel like I should cite something more recent than the Alien and Sedition Acts, but when I think of the greatest threats to our democracy, that's one that immediately comes to mind. Moreover, the Alien and Sedition Acts have a lot of parallels to the current situation, because they made it illegal to criticize the government and also made it legal to deport immigrants for essentially no reason...sound familiar? Also, that happened fairly soon after America's founding--during John Adams' administration--so I kind of like to remind people that that almost ended our democracy before it even really got started, and yet we survived it, so we ought to be able to survive what we're going through now.)
Is that how they're going to frame it in history books? "In October 2016, Kermit the Frog secretly died,[*](but only in a metaphorical, phoenix-y sense)
and a month later, in November, vulgarian TV star Donald Trump, who stood in direct opposition to everything that Kermit represents, became president. Coincidence? Break into small groups and discuss."
To be clear, I am NOT saying that the Disney-Whitmire schism is directly related to the vagaries being committed by the Trump administration, nor am I suggesting that it is a crisis on par with the constitutional crisis that this so-called administration has forced us into. However, I do
believe that the ruthless, greedy, unwarranted, shortsighted, self-serving stupidity that caused Disney to cut ties with Whitmire is related to the ruthless, greedy, shortsighted, and clumsily self-serving stupidity that prompted Trump père
to fire James Comey and that prompted Trump fils
to meet with the lawyer from the Kremlin. Perhaps that kind of ruthless, greedy, shortsighted, self-serving stupidity has always been endemic in our culture, but it seems like it is becoming increasingly virulent with every passing year, and it's heartbreaking to see it tainting Jim Henson's creations, and it's frightening to see these two worlds bleed into one another when they should be entirely separate. Current Mood: infuriated
|Thursday, June 8th, 2017|
You know...let me just play devil's advocate for a minute--literally.[*](Just kidding. I don't actually think Donald Trump is the devil. I think the devil is probably a whole lot smarter than he is. But I do think that Trump is the devil's pawn.)
Given the fact that James Comey provided the final straw that tipped the election in Trump's favor and essentially handed him the presidency, I can understand why Trump would deduce from that that Comey was on his side. I can understand why he would think that Comey would be receptive to a demand for loyalty from him. It makes sense when you look at it from Trump's point of view, because that's the way things work in Trump's world.
I didn't watch all of the testimony today, just a bit at the end, but I sure as hell hope that at least one of those senators asked Comey where the hell his loyalties actually lie. I can see that it's in Comey's interest, as a former spy, to play his loyalties and motivations close to the vest, but the way he kept moving the goalposts around with regard to when to discuss or not discuss an ongoing investigation was positively infuriating.
It's interesting to see how Comey gets colored in the press as this whole drama unfolds. Immediately after the election, he was the fascist stooge and traitor to democracy. Then, once he got fired, suddenly he's the patriotic martyr and savior of democracy. As for me, I will never forget Comey's past sins, but if his testimony serves to bring Trump down, I might be able to forgive them. It would be an ironic yet fitting turn of events if the man who elevated Trump to the presidency is ultimately the same man to depose him.
You know what? I think that I just figured out to whom or what Comey is actually
loyal: the FBI. I just realized that every time he's been asked to account for why he did or didn't comment on an investigation, his answer always has something to do with how it would reflect on the Bureau.
So that's something, I guess. He is loyal to something. I just wish I had confidence that he is also loyal to our country.
***( Harry Potter stuff that is only tangentially relatedCollapse )
|Tuesday, May 9th, 2017|
|Comey fired as FBI director
"The last act is the greatest treason. To do the right deed for the wrong reason."
So, my first thought on hearing James Comey was fired was, "Deserved and long overdue." He was a lousy FBI director with rotten judgment. He is nauseous, and he makes me feel nauseated.[*](It's a linguistic pet peeve of mine when people confuse the words "nauseous" and "nauseated", although even doctors get it wrong. "Nauseous" describes something so horrible and disgusting that observing it makes one feel sick to one's stomach. "Nauseated" refers to the condition of being sick to one's stomach, i.e. having nausea. To illustrate with a sample sentence, it would be correct to say, "The nauseous sight of his hand after it was mangled in the industrial accident made me feel nauseated.")
But my second thought was, "Why?" Then they tried to feed us the line that it was because of the Hillary e-mail investiscandal thingie, and I immediately became skeptical.
In the first place, why would Trump fire the person whose fatal step ultimately led to his "victory"? And in the second place, even if Trump did want to punish him for such a thing (which would be completely out of character) why would he wait nearly four months after taking office to do it? That literally makes no sense whatsoever.
Whereas Trump firing Comey for not playing the company way on Russia--i.e., for investigating the Russian connection to the election, campaign, etc.--would be completely in character and would make perfect sense according to Trumpian logic.
The only thing I'm not sure about is if this would represent the greatest
treason. I suspect this may just be the tip of the treason iceberg.
|Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017|
No, not that one. The San Francisco-South Dakota travel ban
First of all, I am 100% opposed to the South Dakota law in question that allows faith-based adoption agencies to deny adoptions on "religious freedoms" grounds. Part of freedom of religion is that one religious group doesn't get to use their beliefs as an excuse to bully or discriminate against people who have different beliefs, and organizations[*](including, sadly, my own church; an issue that I have taken up in writing with the Bishop, who did not respond)
that seek to weaponize "religious freedoms" as a tool of discrimination are undermining the very fabric of the Constitution and sullying the reputation of all of us who truly believe in the rights and protections guaranteed by the First Amendment, to say nothing of those of us who truly believe in Christ's teachings of understanding and acceptance of the disenfranchised.
Furthermore, for any political party that claims to care so much about the inalienable rights of unborn children, and which constantly advances adoption as an alternative to abortion, to enact a measure that would prevent loving, qualified parents from adopting a child--thereby saving the child from abortion--on a mere technicality is rank hypocrisy. All of us who oppose abortion--and I count myself as one of them--should be fighting as hard as we can for the rights of same-sex couples to adopt, because if there aren't enough adoptive parents, what do you think the expectant mothers on the horns of the abortion dilemma are going to do?
They are going to take the easy way out because the alternatives are intractable.
I regret the word "easy"; that was inconsiderate and insensitive of me. Let me put it this way, as I have put it to my congresspeople when trying to persuade them not to repeal the ACA: When faced with the cost of prenatal care--which Republicans apparently do not believe should be covered by health insurance at baseline--plus the cost of raising a child for eighteen years--including, but not limited to, medical care, food, clothing, shelter, child care, school supplies, etc.--versus the one-time cost of an abortion procedure, there's a certain terrible logic in choosing to incur the one-time cost of an abortion, especially for women--whether married or not--already in straitened financial circumstances, and most especially for women--whether married or not--who already have children for whose health and well-being she is responsible, and for whose neglect she will be punished. It's a cruel choice, and one that no parent should ever have to make, but there is a certain terrible logic to it.
Let's be completely honest with ourselves: does anyone really believe that being raised by gay parents is a fate worse than death? Really?
Because if the rationale for opposing abortion is that death in the womb is the worst fate that could possibly befall any human being, that nothing that happens after birth could possibly be as bad as not being born at all, then that logic does not compute
With that said, I do think that the San Francisco blanket ban on doing business in South Dakota may be taking things a little too far. Don't get me wrong; I don't do business with companies that are known to have anti-gay policies, nor do I give money to organizations that promote anti-gay rhetoric.[*](again, including my own church)
But to deny business to companies that may not have anti-gay policies--which may, as part of their corporate culture, actually accept and defend the rights of GLBT people, and which may even have actively opposed the anti-gay adoption law--on the basis of location, when they were located here long before the law went into effect, that doesn't seem entirely fair either. Refrain from doing business with the South Dakota state government, by all means, and don't do business with companies that have anti-gay policies regardless of location, but to make a generalization of all companies operating within a certain vicinity, without taking the individiual companies' practices and policies into consideration--isn't that something akin to discrimination in itself?
I mean, the rationale for this ban is that being located within a particular state automatically implies that you agree with any and all laws passed in that state; however, seeing that San Francisco is located in California--which, nine years ago, infamously passed Proposition 8--the San Francisco lawmakers really ought to know better. In fact, Prop 8 was enacted not by the legislature, as was the South Dakota anti-gay adoption law, but by the electorate, the citizens; i.e., representative democracy versus direct democracy. Furthermore, it wasn't repealed via democratic process, by the will of the people, but overturned by the Supreme Court. If the constitutional and completely legitimate legal proceedings of the U.S. Supreme Court had not forced the state of California to take Prop 8 off the books, would it still be law there today? Would it have occurred to them to try to repeal it on their own and, if so, would it have been successful? My point in all this is merely to observe that if San Francisco doesn't like doing business in states that pass anti-gay laws, maybe they should start by refusing to do business with the rest of California.
Does South Dakota have reason for shame? Absolutely. But there's a strong case to be made that San Francisco does as well.
On a related note, I'm annoyed and frustrated by the superior attitude of the San Franciscans interviewed for the story, the attitude of, "Oh, who would want to do business in South Dakota in the first place?" The assumption that we don't have anything worthwhile to offer, so the ban doesn't even matter. And there is some truth to that; we don't have much in the way of manufacturing, technology, etc. But we do have commerce and banking, and I wonder how many of those people they talked to have credit cards or checking accounts. More to the point, we have agriculture; I wonder how many of those San Franciscans interviewed for the story eat corn or wheat or soy or sunflower seeds.
|Monday, May 1st, 2017|
|Stick in the mud
Okay...I do get the joke. It's not funny, but I get it. And not to be a humorless fuddy-duddy, but the given rampant ignorance regarding South Dakota recently on shocking display, I feel it is my duty as a South Dakotan to explain something:
The reason that the faces are grouped like that on Mount Rushmore is that that's the only way they could make them all fit. After they had to move Jefferson to Washington's left because of unsuitable rock on his right, they had to redesign the whole monument so that all four faces would fit and that they would be visible and so that they could avoid any naturally occurring cracks in the rock as much as possible, because the cracks could undermine the structural integrity of the sculpture. So if there appears to be a space, it's because that space could not be used in the sculpture. It's essentially dead space.
Also, there's a large crevice just behind the faces of Mount Rushmore. Most people don't know about it because it's not very visible from the road(s). But when they were carving Roosevelt, for example, there was a danger of blasting too much or drilling too deep and punching through the backside of the mountain. I forget exactly how close it came, but I believe it's within several hundred yards.
To reiterate, there is no more room for any more carving on Mount Rushmore!!!
I know that the Trump administration is not fond of facts, but this is one that is LITERALLY set in stone
As for the comedians, wait until they find out that when it rains at Mount Rushmore, it makes quasi-tear streaks on the presidents' faces.
|Hey guys, don't give him any ideas!
and Stephen Colbert
have each made a joke about a relatively minor fear I've had since the election; the fear that Trump might get it into his head to try to add his own face to Mount Rushmore. Now, such a thing is impossible; he could sign executive orders until he's blue in the face, and Congress could pass as many bills as they want, but the fact of the matter is that there is not enough unflawed rock on the mountain to carve any more faces. True story: originally Thomas Jefferson was supposed to be on Washington's right--rather than on his left where he is now--and they had actually started carving Jefferson on that side, but because the rock was so unstable, they literally had to blast off the first attempt at Jefferson's head and start all over on the other side.
So my fear is not that Trump will succeed in putting his own face on Mount Rushmore; it's that he and Congress may be foolish enough to try, and irreparably ruin the monument in the process.[*](Along with South Dakota's economy, sense of identity, and raison d'etre, incidentally)
On a tangentially related note, there was a thing--what we in my family call a "blurpee"--on the local news tonight: one of their reporters was in San Franscisco and asked some idiot who lived there[*](to be absolutely clear: I do NOT mean to imply that she is an idiot BECAUSE she lives in San Francisco, merely that she is an idiot who happens to live in San Francisco, with no cause-and-effect relationship suggested whatsoever. I know that San Francisco--like South Dakota and every other habitable location on the planet--is populated by both smart people and idiots)
what the biggest attraction in South Dakota is. Now, that should be easy: Mount Rushmore. It's a gimme; if you don't know anything else about South Dakota, you should at least know that Mount Rushmore is here. But the stupid woman said, "Sarah Palin?"
And at first I was offended, but then I realized that that woman was just revealing her own stupidity. If city folk[*](And I use that term with the knowledge that, because I live in Sioux Falls, I could conceivably be lumped in with "city folk" by other South Dakotans)
are ignorant about South Dakota, that's their shame, not ours.
Of course, we do have plenty to be ashamed of ourselves, which is why they had a reporter in San Francisco in the first place. But that's a topic for another day.
|Monday, April 3rd, 2017|
|Some thoughts on the Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
I don't have real strong feelings on the subject either way, but these are just some thoughts that occurred to me that nobody else seems to have expressed yet.
First of all, let's look at the big picture for a second and ask ourselves: what happens if Gorsuch's nomination is defeated? The answer is, of course, that Trump will just nominate someone else, and given his abysmal track record for nominating qualified people for a given office, the next guy is likely to be even worse than Gorsuch. Say what you want about Gorsuch--and I'm no big fan of his myself--but by any objective measure he is knowledgable and competent, which is more than one can say about most, if not all, other Trump appointees.
Second of all, the sad fact of the matter is that if we're ever going to successfully impeach Trump and remove him from office, we need Congressional Republicans to get on board. And I could be wrong--this is just my largely uneducated, inexpert, layperson's opinion--but I don't think Congressional Republicans are going to take any such drastic step until this matter of the Supreme Court is settled. So the question we need to be asking ourselves is this: is it worthwhile to block Gorsuch and defeat his nomination if it means delaying impeachment proceedings against Trump indefinitely? Or are we setting ourselves up for a Pyrrhic victory, in which we win the Supreme Court/Gorsuch battle but lose the war on Trump?
As a political moderate, one thing that I can say with absolute certainty is that lowering the number of votes required to approve a Supreme Court justice seems like a really, REALLY bad idea. And Republicans really need to look at the big picture here and realize that they aren't going to be in power forever. If any of them really believe that, especially considering what a clusterf*ck their big electoral victory has turned out to be, then they're even more delusional and out-of-touch than I thought. So if they wouldn't want this rule to changed when Democrats are in power, they shouldn't change it now.
On the other hand, people always get so worked up because the Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment. What people seem to forget is that Supreme Court justices are impeachable, just like presidents and vice presidents and all other "civil officers." Now, you can't just impeach Supreme Court justices because you don't like the decisions they make; they have to engage in conduct unbecoming, and there has to be a trial and due process and all that stuff. But it is possible; they are answerable to the law. So "lifetime appointment" comes with an asterisk and some fine print.
Notice I'm not offering answers, because I don't have any. These are just some thoughts that I've had. Current Mood: analytical
|Friday, March 10th, 2017|
If Trevor Noah is correct and Paul Ryan has nightmares about repealing and replacing Obamacare, then he and I have something in common, because I have nightmares about that too. Of course, the difference is that in Ryan's nightmares he fails to do so, and in my nightmares he succeeds.
Then I wake up with heart palpitations, and I have to think, "Okay, are these just normal post-nightmare palpitations, or has my family's cardiac history finally caught up with me?"
Then I think, "Thank goodness I have health insurance."
Then I think, "Yes, but for how much longer?"
Which does not help the heart palpitations.
|Saturday, February 11th, 2017|
|Thursday, February 9th, 2017|
|Throwback Thursday: Healthcare reform
A while ago I was looking for something in the Daily Show
archives--I don't remember what, specifically--when I came across this interview
with conservative pundit Bill Kristol from 2009, before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, and healthcare reform was the main topic of conversation.
There are two things about this video that particularly stuck out at me. One is that Kristol's main argument seems to be, "Why revamp the entire healthcare system? Why not just make a few changes?" Oh, what a difference seven and a half years makes! Now they're saying, "BURN IT! BURN IT TO THE GROUND! BURN IT DOWN and then rebuild it from the ground up...(eventually)
." But I think that if it was a valid argument seven and a half years ago, it's an equally valid argument now. Why keep reinventing the wheel?
The other feature of interest is that Kristol keeps saying that soldiers/veterans deserve better healthcare than the rest of us because they are (or were) out there risking their lives, while the rest of us ungrateful, lazy slobs are just sitting at home on our asses, apparently contributing nothing to society.
Okay well, you know, there is some
validity to his point. My favorite Bible verse is John 15:13: "No greater love is there than this, to lay down one's life for a friend," and I guess that's basically what soldiers do. I mean, most people probably don't get involved in the military because they are eager to go out and kill people to satisfy a blood lust; most of them, when asked why they joined up, express a desire to defend country, home, loved ones, etc. All right; for the sake of argument, let's say that people who risk their lives for the sake of others deserve the best healthcare. But are military personnel the only ones doing that?
What about volunteer firefighters? They risk their lives to save the lives of others all the time. Moreover, they are strictly about saving lives, never about taking them. They never resort to violence and never raise a hand against another human being. But because they're on a volunteer basis, they might not receive compensation or benefits the way a career firefighter would (although some do). So, according to Kristol's criteria, aren't they the most deserving of the absolute best healthcare available?
Then Kristol says that "the military need different kinds of healthcare than the rest of us." Well, there's something to that as well. For example, military personnel are probably more likely to need limb amputations than most of us. And yet, there are civilians who need limbs amputated for various reasons. Take, for example, a little kid who has bone cancer in her leg and needs to have her leg amputated on account of that. Is Kristol saying that the little kid with bone cancer doesn't deserve as high quality of healthcare as the wounded soldier?
Basically, yes. Jon Stewart asked him twice if he believed that the military deserved better healthcare than the rest of us ordinary, freeloading citizens, and he said "yes...absolutely" because soldiers risk their lives. And presumably the little kid with bone cancer isn't out risking her life for others, so therefore she doesn't deserve the same quality healthcare as soldiers. So said Bill Kristol, conservative Republican pundit, in 2009.
God bless America.
|Wednesday, February 8th, 2017|
|The inherent bias of the electoral college
I have a whole case to make against the continued existence of the electoral college, but I don't have time right now. But first, I would like to point out this shocking but true fact that supports my larger case:
In the history of the United States, there have been four elections wherein the winner of the electoral college lost the popular vote. In each case, the candidate who lost the popular vote but won the electoral college and therefore the presidency, was from the Republican Party.[*](There was also the case of the election of 1824--30 years before the Republican Party was founded--wherein there was a plurality in both the electoral college and the popular vote in favor of Andrew Jackson. Because Jackson did not gain enough electoral votes to win the presidency, the vote was deferred to the House of Representatives, per the Constitution's provisions in case of a tie, which decided in favor of John Quincy Adams. So technically, John Quincy Adams won neither the popular vote nor the electoral college.)
Coincidence? NO! Evidence
that the electoral college system is inherently biased
More evidence, and a fully formed argument, to come later. Current Mood: disgusted
|Tuesday, February 7th, 2017|
|Belated NSFW warning:
Some of the songs in Hamilton
have explicit lyrics and are therefore not safe for work. Click wisely.
|Monday, February 6th, 2017|
|Got Burr? (or has Burr got you?)
Per my Hamilton
wall calendar, I found out that today is Aaron Burr's birthday.
If I have one criticism to make about the musical Hamilton
, it is that it makes Aaron Burr far too sympathetic.( Read more...Collapse )
What's so interesting is that, on a textual level, Miranda is telling us--with both words and music
--"Look, Aaron Burr is a complicated guy; he's not a two-dimensional villain, and he's not as bad as you think he is"; and yet, on a subtextual level, the voice of the historical Burr comes to us down through the centuries and says, "You know what? Even if I am complicated, I really am
as bad as you think I am." Then, if you read anything nonfictional about Aaron Burr, you find out that not only is he as bad as you think he is, he's actually a lot worse. Certainly not someone who deserves the biggest power ballad in the musical.[*](Although Leslie Odom Jr's performance thereof is simply magnificent.)
The only question is, would he have been a better or worse president that Donald Trump? Thanks to Alexander Hamilton, we'll never know, and our country is the better for it. If only Hamilton was alive today to save us from ourselves once again. But he's not, so we'll just have to save ourselves, using Hamilton's writings--and history--as a guide.
|Thursday, February 2nd, 2017|
I apologize for posting something that really doesn't matter in the slightest when there's so much more important stuff going on, but sometimes I just get extraneous thoughts stuck in my head and this is the only way to get them out, so please bear with me.( Stupid and inconsequentialCollapse )
In seriousness, I don't think the devil would waste time trying to convince people that God doesn't exist. I think the devil would be--and probably is--out committing evil acts in God's name so as to discredit Him. [She says in parentheses...](See what I did up there, in my cut title? hanh hanh!) Current Mood: distracted
|Wednesday, February 1st, 2017|
|Unperplexed, then reperplexed
Today I was still trying to figure out the differences between Kristi Noem and our two senators, that she would be targeted by pro-refugee protestors and the other two wouldn't. Is it only the obvious differences they are seeing, or are there more subtle differences that go beneath the surface?
I was thinking about it today, and I realized that one difference between Noem and the senators[*](which, by the way, would be a great name for a band; so would the variation "Kristi and the Senators")
is that any time you send anything written to Noem's office--whether it be an e-mail or an actual, physical letter--you get an annoying generic e-mail--a form letter, only electronic--on the topic later. The ones I've gotten always say basically the same thing: thank you for sharing your concerns with me, but I'm going to go ahead and do whatever I want to--which is to say, whatever my party and my campaign contributors want me to--anyway
. I suppose, however, if you send her a letter supporting whatever she supports, she probably sends a form letter/e-mail that says yay, I'm so glad that we totally agree on this, and you're totally my best friend now! So give me money. Thenks![*](To be completely fair, I can't really complain that I don't get to discuss my concerns with her directly because when I set up my advance call screening to prevent robocalls from getting through, it also blocked her statewide conference calls that she has periodically.)
Anyway, I thought that yesterday's protests might have been, in part, reacting against her stupid generic e-mails. But that doesn't follow either, because Thune's office also sends form e-mails (although not as quickly), and even with Noem's office, the turnaround time isn't quick enough that they would have received responses already.
And yet, even as I say that, I remember that when you send an e-mail, at least (I don't remember if they do this for letters) there's another form e-mail that goes out within 24 hours saying we received your message but we need some time to figure out which pre-scripted response to send you, so that will take a few more days but be patient, we'll get your rejection out to you soon enough
. (I paraphrase.) So maybe it was a reaction to that. It's certainly possible; without more information, I can't rule it out. Current Mood: still perplexed
|Tuesday, January 31st, 2017|
Yesterday, the reptilian Representative Noem expressed support for President von Clownstick's Muslim ban. Today there were protests outside her Sioux Falls office in response.
They were peaceful protests, so I have no objection. But I am perplexed because she is not, in fact, the only South Dakotan in Congress to express support for the ban; Sen. Mike Rounds did so too. Yet there were no protests outside his office. I know this because I was there this afternoon, and there were no protestors.[*](Unless--and this is possible because they're only a few blocks away from each other--the protestors started at Rounds' office in the morning and walked over to Noem's in the afternoon. But I don't have enough data to either confirm or disprove that.)
So why target Noem and not Rounds? Is it because she's our state's only Representative in the House thereof? Is it because she's a woman? Is it because her office is more visible? Is it because that creepy, blank-eyed, vacuous stare of hers is just so darned off-putting? Is it because Rounds takes less extreme views on other issues, such as public broadcasting, so that Noem seems less reasonable overall, even though they are both being equally unreasonable on this particular issue?
Or maybe they're planning protests outside only one building a day? Having focused on Noem today, maybe they'll get to Rounds tomorrow. Maybe they're going in alphabetical order.
So, you may be wondering, what of Thune? He gave a characteristically calculated and predictably poltical answer, to the effect that he was in favor of vetting but opposed an all-out ban. Typical Thune: sit back and wait to see which way the wind is blowing. Still, he is
the only South Dakotan in Congress who said anything remotely negative about the ban, and at least that's something. When I sent him my Neimoller homage today, I wrote a handwritten note at the bottom saying I appreciated that.
But, of course, he said that yesterday; maybe he's changed his mind by now. Current Mood: perplexed
|My favorite story about Alexander Hamilton
It didn't make it into the musical--or, if it did, it didn't get a song--but it's awesome, and there's a lesson in it for us now:
When the American Revolution was getting going in 1775, Alexander Hamilton was a student at what is now known as Columbia University but was known at the time as King's College--which, as implied by the name, had the British Crown as a patron. The head of King's College was a man named Myles Cooper who, understandably, favored the loyalist cause and wasn't shy about saying so.
It happened one night that a bunch of revolutionaries got together for a rally and they were drinking and talking about the cause and complaining about loyalists they didn't like--which was all of them--and somehow or other they got a bee in their collective bonnet about Myles Cooper over at King's College. Being thoroughly sloshed at this point, they decided that they were going to shut Cooper up for good by using one of those imaginatively humiliating ways of executing people that were so popular during the eighteenth century, such as tar and feathers.
Well, someone on the King's College campus noticed the angry mob approaching and raced to warn Cooper, and since Alexander Hamilton's dorm room[*](I don't know if they called them "dorm rooms" back then, however)
was nearby, he was also awakened and informed in case they needed him to help fight off the mob.
Now, keep in mind that Alexander Hamilton was HIMSELF a revolutionary
. He was an enthusiastic and active participant in the revolution from day one, writing lengthy pamphlets in favor of the cause on top of his schoolwork. On the other hand, he didn't like unruly mobs; he hated and feared anarchy as much as he did tyranny and believed both should be guarded against at all costs. So as the mob arrived to charge down Cooper's door, Alexander Hamilton stood up between them and the door and made an impassioned speech, apparently completely off the cuff. Unfortunately, because it was completely impromptu, we don't have the text of it, but he said something along the lines of they weren't helping the revolutionary cause by getting drunk and attacking the defenseless, that there was a right way and a wrong way to run a revolution, and they were going about it the wrong way. Well, he didn't stop the mob, but he did slow them down enough that by the time they got to Cooper's sleeping quarters, Cooper had escaped out the back way. As the next morning dawned, he was on a boat to move back to England and apparently never thanked Hamilton for saving his life.
In that moment when the crowd was advancing, Hamilton had several choices: he could have run away; he could have locked his dorm room door and hid under the covers; he could have joined forces with the angry mob, which was--after all--made up of his fellow revolutionaries; or he could have grabbed a gun and shot anybody who approached the door. But he didn't do any of those things. Instead, he took a defensive stand, not with a gun or a sword, but armed only with his quick wits and his silver tongue. And he not only succeeded in beating back the mob, using only words as weapons, but did so with such eloquence and patriotic fervor that he emerged with his revolutionary ethos still intact.