Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Veto: It's latin for 'screw that'

Unfamiliar like Twitter, low-riding
dungarees and all that swearing on TV.
Hey, lookit, Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia is going to veto that anti-gay horseshit, House Bill 757. Good for him, and-huh? No, you're thinking of House Bill 2 in North Carolina, and we'll talk about that malarkey some other time. Georgia's HB 757 was a totally different-well not totally different, I mean they're both crazy knee-jerk responses by white conservatives afraid of the unfamiliar, but it was more about religious liberty than people's bathroom assignments.

The law would have given faith-based organizations legal cover to refuse service to LGBT people. You know, on the count of Jesus and all that stuff he said about the gays (source: nowhere in the Bible, like at all, so shut up).
"And yea, thou shalt not do any gay stuff, unless it's just a
 couple of bros helping each other out. Then it's cool."

Why can't politicians be more like
corporations and-oh, wait... 
Anyway, in an outwardly progressive move, Governor Deal announced that he intends to veto the bill. Cool, right? Yes and the move almost certainly has nothing to do with the massive outcry from both the public and corporations. Disney, Apple, the NFL and a bunch of others came out against the bill and some even suggested that they might take business out of the state should the bill pass. You know, because corporations make business decisions based on altruism and not because siding with the red state shit-merchants behind this bill would piss off their key 18-35 year old demographic.

So just another politician bowing to corporate interests...or is it? No. Here comes the dramatic twist: in his remarks, Governor Deal says that while both proponents and opponents of the bill put pressure on him, he made the decision to veto the bill because the Government should back off when it comes to religion. 

Above: a unicorn?
"In light of our history, I find it ironic that today some in the religious community feel it necessary to ask the government to confer upon them certain rights and protections. If indeed our religious liberty is conferred by God and not by man-made government, we should heed the "hands-off" admonition of the First Amendment to our Constitution. When legislative bodies attempt to do otherwise, the inclusions and omissions in their statutes can lead to discrimination, even though it may be unintentional. That is too great a risk to take."

and yes, he really is a Republican, but 
we're still waiting on the Cylon test

Wai-what? A Republican using the separation of Church and State argument to stick up for the LGBT community? Hey, how come if they have this guy they're running Donald Trump and Ted Cruz? Ok, don't get too excited, he did sign a crazy gun law and tried to ban Syrian refugees from Georgia, but at least the GOP has a few members left who can spot a shitty law for what it is. Unless this really was all about Disney shooting Avengers 3 somewhere else.
"Huh? No, no, no, this is about doing the right thing, swear to God. Incidentally, if Marvel 
is looking for someone to play Thanos...what? Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura did it..."

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The moral of the story is guns!

NRA Family:
'...we'll fucking end you.'
(actual slogan)*
Hey, if someone re-wrote Little Red Riding Hood so that the little girl has a rifle and grandma's a shotgun-toting badass, you'd think it was kind of messed up, right? Like, it's the kind of thing you'd read to your child if you want them to grow up to be a serial killer. The NRA however, disagrees. Probably with almost everything you believe in, but specifically on the family-friendliness of awkwardly rewriting fairytales to teach kids important lessons about gun-ownership and publishing them on their website, NRAFamily.

"Ok Gretel, remember, if she gives us
any trouble, we smoke the bitch."
So far they've adapted Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel. Now, instead of being helpless children who get kidnapped by a cannibalistic symbol for medieval European anxieties about starvation and non-Christians, Hansel and Gretel are hunters who come across a house in the woods. Weirdly, for an NRA thing anyway, the two kids stage an armed home invasion and free some other random children the witch was saving for lunch. They then call the cops and have the witch arrested which is less violent than way the original story ends, but I think the moral here is that the witch should have had a gun too.

The Growing Patriots® series,
"Putting white males front and center..."
(another actual slogan)†
According to Amelia Hamilton, the conservative children's author who wrote the gun-ier versions:

"The stories are also really for adults to. And it's all about safety and it's for parents to start those conversations..."

-Amelia Hamilton, author of Growing Patriots 
a series of propa-uh, children's stories

Safety? Ok, Hansel and Gretel's parents did hand their children rifles and send them out into a witch-infested forest to hunt for food so call maybe CPS?

For once I think we can actually
be grateful for Disney-fication...
In the same interview, Hamilton also expressed surprise that many of her critics hadn't actually read the stories, which, I'm not sure is true, at least, how would she know? Anyway, I did, and yeah they totally read like transparent NRA propaganda about how much safer we'd all be if we all had guns. I guess her point is that the stories are much less violent than the way the traditional version ends, but that's kind of a low bar. I mean there's Gretel burning the witch alive, the wolf eats Riding Hood's Grandma and holy shit, the Little Mermaid sells her tongue to a witch who slices her fish-tail in half. 

Above: Gretel shoving an elderly
woman into an oven where she
dies screaming. Sleep tight kids.
Ok, fine, menacing fairy tale villains with guns is somewhat softer than the whimsical tales of immolation and murder we're used to. Great. But are the only options here unrelenting horror or pro-gun indoctrination? I guess my issue with these, apart from the terrible writing and ham-fisted message, is the suggestion that we can only tell violent stories. Sure, in Hamilton's story Hansel and Gretel save two children and the witch is brought to justice-which in 19th century Bavaria is probably still hanging-but the lesson is that these kids were safe because they had guns, which is demonstrably untrue

I'm not sure kids, or a lot of the NRA's membership, get that the threats can be themselves a form of violence. Not to get all bumpersticker on you here, but I don't think it's such a long walk between waving a gun and using one. 
"What? I'm just standing here, pointing a gun in your general direction
and if you happen to place your wallet in my outstretched hand, I might
not shoot you. How is that violent? If anything, you should thank me."

*ok, no it's not.
†yeah, I made that one up too, but c'mon, it's not exactly subtle. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

First in flight, last in everything else...

Republicans (because of course they are) in North Carolina's State Assembly held a special session today in which they voted on a new bill which supersedes all locally passed anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people and replaces them with the State's own anti-discrimination which completely forgets that there are LGBT people, especially T, but we'll get to that.
Above: Lawmakers in North Carolina making the
 rest of us regret letting them back into the Union.
Pictured: the entire North Carolina
State Legislature earlier today.
Why would they do such a thing? Probably because they weren't hugged enough as children but the stated reason is that this is in response to an ordinance passed in Charlotte which among all kinds of important protections for LGBT North Carolinians, including the right of transgender people to use the restroom appropriate to their gender. People lost their fucking minds, some of them wrote awkward raps, others threatened of legislative action. Here's what Governor Pat McCrory said to the Charlotte City Council:

I'm sorry, shouldn't his beef be with
the creepers looking over the stalls?
"This shift in policy could also create major public safety issues by putting citizens in possible danger from deviant actions by individuals taking improper advantage of a bad policy. Also, this action of allowing a person with male anatomy, for example, to use a female restroom or locker room will most likely cause immediate State legislative intervention which I would support as governor."

-Governor McCrory, probably shaking his fist 
menacingly while typing with the other hand

"You see, I think about these things.
That's why they made me the Governor."

-Governor McCrory 
To be clear, the Governor advised against an ordinance that prevents business from discriminating against gay people because imaginary male perverts could hypothetically pretend to be transgender so they can sneak into the ladies' room. If that sounds irrational and draconian to you, that's just because it is both irrational and draconian. It's like coming up with a bunch of discriminatory voter ID laws because there might have been like a tiny handful of suspected cases of voter fraud which, yeah, ok they totally did already.

Then how about this one: it's like banning left-handed scissors because a right handed person might use them to cut out a ransom note.
...but then it's a shitty bill passed by homophobes who do more to
reenforce negative southern stereotypes than anyone on People of Walmart.
This distinction between restroom usage
is apparently the only thing between
North Carolina and total societal collapse
So yeah, Charlotte passed their ordinance and true to the Governor's word, his redstate-shitmerchant word, the Assembly and State Senate passed House Bill 2 in a special emergency session. Yes, over who gets to use which bathroom. You know this is why nobody likes the GOP. Sure, a lot of people are members but I don't think anybody actually likes the party, or themselves for voting for them. How could they? They define themselves by entirely by what and whom they're against. Don't like immigrants? Don't like Planned Parenthood?  Don't like gay people walking into your bakery and buying a wedding cake? Well then the party of Lincoln is the one for you, although weirdly it's probably not the party for Lincoln.

Hey, speaking of guns (too soon?), what I don't get is how come there isn't wider support for tighter gun control in North Carolina. I mean, Governor McCrory should be all over new gun legislation. Like, don't guns create major public safety issues by putting citizens in possible danger from deviant actions by individuals taking improper advantage of bad policy? Sure, but I guess the North Carolina legislature has more important issues to deal with.
A person with male anatomy and a gun presenting less of a threat than
transgender people using the correct bathrooms. (source: North Carolina law)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sound tax advice from the abyss

In other news, Mondays. Am I right?
Ok, everyone gets it, paying taxes isn't fun. They're a big huge pain in the ass to file, the forms are confusing, and the IRS's website is an unhelpful byzantine mess and yeah, nobody likes to hand over their money. But can we all please shut about it now? It's seriously played out, and I think it's time we all let it go. Like, I'm not trying to be a jerk about it, but there is only so much hilarity we can possibly milk from jokes about the IRS and procrastination. Taxes being up there with death on the list of life's inevitabilities was witty when Ben Franklin said it but that was two hundred years ago and wasn't he like riddled with STD's?

No, there's no connection there, I just wanted to remind everyone that everyone's favorite american aphorism machine was a tremendous whore.
Benjamin Franklin: 18th century America's elderly, gout-sticken ƒexmachine.
"...and then my tax guy was like 'sorry,
close enough isn't going to cut it.'"
A financial website called WalletHub.com took a survey recently which, to exactly no one's surprise, indicated that people would rather not pay their taxes thank you very much. In fact, through their insightful questioning, they also discovered that 11% would rather clean Chipotle's toilets (because topical) and that 37% of respondents would rather get an 'IRS tattoo' than pay taxes ever again. Wai-wha? Yeah, since I'm pretty sure Wallet
Hub's survey experts know that tattoos don't pay for roads or schools, this was really more about click bate than gathering useful statistics.

Really? Murder. You know if it's that big a
deal just take it to H&R Block or something...
Other things people would be willing to do to opt out of taxes included naming their first born child IRS and killing someone (as long as they would get away with it. Yes, six percent responded that they would be willing to murder someone to get out of paying taxes which, holyshit Wallet Hub, seriously? I'm not sure who to be more disturbed by, the people who clicked 'murder' or the website that put that up there as an option. Sure, the survey is meant as a light-hearted way for respondents to vent their frustration, but Je-sus.

Something tells me that of the 6% who would rather kill someone than pay taxes, at least half are probably not entirely kidding. What is wrong with us? As a people I mean? Well, lots obviously, but I think the people at Wallet Hub have it worse than most of us because mixed in with their otherwise innocuous survey about paying taxes are weird questions about assaulting public figures.
If you stare into the abyss long enough, the abyss offers helpful investing tips.

Sorry. Alleged?
Yeah, another question on the survey asked which presidential candidate would people most like to punch (and yes, of course it's Trump) and then another asks which celebrity we like more than the IRS, which I think is kind of a broken question. I guess what they're asking is which polarizing notable person is more popular than paying taxes, but it's a weird mix. Donald Trump was an option and so was Hillary Clinton, which, ok, politics, but Bill Cosby was on there as well. Is Wallet Hub asking people to choose between a serial rapist and the IRS?

So in many ways Wallet Hub isn't just a leading online source for financial news and advice, but also a weird, unsettling journey through the darkest regions of the human soul. Like I said, having to pay taxes isn't awesome, but since nobody in the history of everything has come up with a better way to pay for our highways and fire departments, my advice is that we just suck it up.
"Don't worry. The free market will put this out any minute."
-Some idiot

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Today in old stories...

Above: a campaign made entirely of
vitriol, punching and mean Tweets.
You know how they say history repeats itself? Huh? Who says that? I don't know, people? Battlestar Galactica? It doesn't matter, just stick with me. The history that's repeating itself here is anti-immigration hysteria like the kind that's gripping western Europe what with the Syrian refugee crisis as well as the slow, racist burn of of our own, home-grown anti-immigrant sentiment. The very same sentiment that Republicans are now building their bids for the nomination on.

At 350 years, Thomas More narrowly
edged out Fury Road for 'longest time
spent in development hell.'
But whatever, we're going to talk about William Shakespeare. The British Library is scanning 300 documents from the 16th and early 17th centuries for an online exhibit about Shakespeare's life as part of the 400th anniversary of his death. Among these are a draft of a speech he wrote for a play called The Book of Sir Thomas More. Never heard of it? Yeah, me neither. Shakespeare collaborated on it with a few other writers, but it wasn't ever actually finished or even produced until 1964 starring Sir Ian MagGandolf.

The speech is in written in 'hand D,' which most scholars agree is Shakespeare's. This is based on the few surviving documents that actually have the writer's signature on them and are mostly things like business deals and lawsuits, because holy shit did people liked to sue each other back then. Usually while cross-dressing.
"Your honor I object...I mean, does no one else here
see that that's just Portia in disguise? Seriously?"

Because opinions that can't be expressed
with horn toots are too complex for some.
But what's cool about this speech for people who don't give a shit about Shakespeare's handwriting is that in the scene Thomas Moore is trying to quell an unruly mob who are flipping out because of, wait for it, immigrants. In this case Huguenots, who according to my extensive wiki-research were French Protestants who faced persecution at home and fled to England looking for a better, less murdery life only to be met by insecure asshats who want to blame them for all their problems.

Sound familiar? Yup, even back in the primitive sixteenth century when people thought that leeches were medical equipment and that there was a decent chance that any ocean voyage might end in sea monster attack, everyone knew that anti-immigration protestors were ignorant, xenophobic dicks.
"It's ok everybody, let him go. He's not a sea monster, just an immigrant.
Sorry friend, our mistake. You just can't be too careful these days..."

-16th century Londoners being more
reasonable than like half of electorate 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Does he not know he's on camera?

She played Signorina Lola Lasagne
because the writers loved drugs.  
Did you see this thing about the Texas cop pepper spraying passing motorcyclists? No really, and yes, it's as dangerous as it sounds. And I can't even say 'because Texas' and write it off as 'from the people who brought you Rick Perry,' because this is just that far off the map. It's like Batman villain crazy. Not like A-list Rogue's Gallery villains like the Joker or the Penguin but maybe somewhere between the Riddler and whoever Ethel Merman was supposed to be. So like evil, but unfocused, with no particular goals in mind.

It's ok, Texans love living up
to their own stereotypes. 
It started when Fort Worth police officer W. Figueroa pulled over a pickup truck and cited the driver not having a license and for passengers standing in the bed while the vehicle was in motion because, well, because Texas (there it is). The pickup truck was being driven by members of East Texas Heat (again, because Texas), a motorcycle club that was out for a ride on Sunday. When the bikers began to pass, the cop pulled out his mace and went to town spraying them in the face with a debilitating, eye-searing aerosol while they're traveling at speed down a busy highway.

Now if you're thinking to yourself holy shit he could have killed somebody, you're not alone because holy shit, he could have killed somebody.
The cop then started quacking maniacally and threatening to
pluck that meddling caped crusader once and for all.
Granted, the East Texas Heat kind of look
like idiots, but that's no reason to mace them.
But surely officer Figueroa must have had a good reason to endanger both the motorcyclists and everyone else on the road. According to the police department, they'd received several calls about the motorcyclists driving erratically and even stopping traffic with their pickup so the people in the truck could video how cool everyone looks doing sweet motorcycle tricks and wearing matching East Texas Heat t-shirts or whatever. 

Sure, these were just unsubstantiated complaints and East Texas Heat (kind of want to mace them for the name though) weren't actually breaking any laws when Figueroa decided to go all Judge Dredd on them, but had he waited for evidence of wrongdoing, several more motorists could have been allegedly annoyed. 
Um, he knows that Judge Dredd was a meant as a nightmarish criticism of authority
run amok and not like a guide to sound law enforcement practices, right?
Cameras like the ones on the motorcyclist's
helmets, the one on his cruiser's dash and
 the one he was wearing. Because he's a genius.
Officer Figueroa acted in the only way he could: with reckless disregard for safety and the law. In many ways he's a goddamn hero. But in many more ways he broke all kinds of laws and is a danger to the community and that's why he was taken off duty while the police department conducts an investigation into any "potential misconduct"-by which I assume they mean all the blatant misconduct that Figueroa committed while being recorded by several cameras because we live in the future. I know that the department needs to be careful and thorough here, but he's totally guilty.

Look, I get that that motorcyclists are batshit crazy and often weave in-between lanes because traffic laws laws for other, less cool people and that's fine. But I don't care where you are, it's actually not ok to try and murder people on motorcycles. Not even in Texas and especially if you're a cop. 
It is however, open season on segways.
I mean, look at'em. Mace away.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Today in disappointing former superpowers...

Above: An unrelated photo of a shirtless
Vladimir Putin feeding his horse. 
Russia really bums me out. Ok, obviously it's a grey, depressing wasteland run by an doughy ex-KGB thug, but look at this shit. Yeah, ok, I know you're not going to click, so I'll explain why you should join me in judging the world's largest country by area. Russian authorities, whom I think we all picture as be-joweled, humorless men with comb-overs and bushy mustaches, have been getting complaints about a Calvin Klein ad being too gay, begging the question what's too gay for Russia?

 Чао. It's Russian for 'ciao.' Yes,
even their alphabet is lame.
Any gay people at all. The ad's sort of a montage of young, attractive couples doing young, attractive montage-y things like frolicking and hanging out around a bonfire and riding around shirtless on mopeds. And sure, some of the couples are same-sex couples because you know, there are gay people in Russia too. And besides, Calvin Klein doesn't see things like labels and barriers. They love everyone in their key demo. But according to Russian law, the ad might qualify as gay propaganda. Wait, how's that?

They were even decades ahead of us in
the race to maroon a dog in space.
Yeah, back in 2012, Russia, once the core of the mighty Soviet Empire that kicked the shit out of the Nazi's, sent the first humans to space and nearly started a war with us that would have wiped out all life on Earth, passed a law banning gay propaganda. What the shit is gay propaganda? I suppose it's whatever the aforementioned authorities decide it is. Milk cartons, Pussy Riot, wearing your dungarees too low. Remember a couple years ago right before the Olympics when the mayor of Sochi compared gay people to child molesters? And just this last January, the Russian Parliament stopped short of passing a bill that would have fined gay people for kissing or holding hands in public.

Goddamnit, I thought I'd make it
through this one without bringing
up the mighty misogy-goon.
I mean, what happened? They used to be our rivals. Klingons to our Federation, Montagues to our Capulets and now they're spiraling back into the bullshit of the past. Dredging up old bigotries and looking backwards rather than forwards while we, their former adversaries have become a shining progressive utopia where everyone is equal and valued regardless of race, religion or sexual orien-ok, sorry, I can't even make it through that. Holy shit we're one bad chad count away from electing an orange leathery gameshow host to the highest office in the land.

Look, I don't want to tell Vladimir Putin how to run the rusted-out husk of our former Cold War nemesis. I mean, I get we're kind of a mess to, but you can get gay married in Arkansas. Yeah, Arkansas is more progressive than Russia. Enjoy.
Pictured: The lesbian couple in the perfume ad currently shaking
traditional Russian culture to its very foundation. Brava ladies, brava.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Let's pick on Mamie Eisenhower!

Maybe we don't remember it because
it happened in the alternate time-
line where Biff was like, super rich?
Look, people misspeak. It's no big deal and it happens to everybody. You, me, and today it happened to Hillary Clinton while she was speaking to NBC News outside Nancy Reagan's funeral:

"It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980's. And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan, in particular Mrs. Reagan we started a national conversation..."

-Hillary Clinton,
stepping in it

"Drugs? Check. Soviets? Check. AIDS?
I say fuck it. What do you think mummy?"
-President Reagan (actual quote)*
Yeah, no she didn't. In fact, the Reagan's approach to the AIDS crisis can best be summed up as something between willful ignorance and aggressive apathy. Obviously people jumped on Clinton's remarks pretty hard, which I suppose I get. It wasn't so much that Nancy Reagan didn't acknowledge the AIDS crisis, it's that she and her husband didn't acknowledge the AIDS crisis at a time when doing so could have made a huge difference. The confusing thing is where Clinton even got the idea that Nancy Reagan ever started a national conversation about AIDS.

Was she given bad information by a staffer? Was she thinking of somebody else? Somebody else who didn't ignore a major epidemic because she thought it was 'too gay' to even talk about? Or maybe she just got swept away.
"I am however sure your viewers will remember the time Nancy Reagan covered
Nine Inch Nail's Closer with Tony Bennett. Now that was a touching moment."
-Secretary Clinton, on a role
That's right, I said it. Mamie
Eisenhower did jack shit.
And that's reasonable, it was probably an emotional day. I mean, she and Reagan did have first lady thing in common and that's actually what the interview was mostly about. How Nancy Reagan helped pave the way for more active and visible first ladies. Sure she did it by spearheading the War on Drugs and all that amounted to was a guest appearance on the Diff'rent Strokes and decades of throwing high school kids in jail for selling weed, but still, it's more than Mamie Eisenhower ever did.

Anyway, in situations like this, the classy thing to do is apologize and move on, and she did, Tweeting that she misspoke and that she's sorry. Cool. No worries. It's not like she said anything truly stupid like vaccines cause autism, or that she could shoot someone and not take a hit in the polls. I mean, that would be a career ending gaffe, right?
What? When he stops being simultaneously hilarious
and blood-freezingly terrifying, I'll stop talking about him. 

*no it's not an actual quote but seriously.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Today in important legal distinctions...

Do you know what's never a good idea? Threatening public figures. Even if that public figure is a leathery racist asshat currently trying to ride the blind, ignorant rage of disaffected white conservatives into the White House.
"We're not racists, we're just sick of elected officials not
doing enough to keep brown people out of America."

-Trump Supporters
I mean, just look at him...at the very
least you kinda want to punch him, right?
You know how I know it's not a good idea? Well, yes, common sense, but also because this guy tried it. Didn't click? Fine, I'll explain. Emadeldin Elsayed is a 23-year old student pilot from Egypt who posted on Facebook that he'd be willing to serve a life sentence for killing Donald Trump and that the world would thank him. Yikes, right? Ok, he insists that he didn't mean it and his lawyer says that it was not a serious comment, pointing out that lots of people would like to murder Trump and that Elsayed is in jail "...primarily because he's a Muslim and a Middle Easterner."

"We take all threats seriously, be they
 from Muslims, Mexicans or Democrats."
-Some Secret Service guy
Which, yeah, sounds like something we'd do, but the L.A. Times talked to a retired Homeland Security agent who said that all threats are taken "...seriously regardless of a person's nationality or religious background." Elsayed, as a foreign student, violated the terms of his student visa and that's why it was revoked, not because he's a Muslim who threatened Trump. Yeah, of course you can't go around threatening people, but this was a kid who made a stupid mistake and is now being asked to leave the country because of it. That in mind, he was threatening Donald Trump.

Again, not condoning threats here, but he is running for President on a platform of Islamo-phobia and anti-immigrant crazy-rage. Also, he likes to make funny, funny jokes about how he could murder random people on the street and his idiot supporters would still love him. So how come 's not getting investigated or being deported? Oh, right, the vast wealth and power. Sorry, I answered my own question there.
"Sir, for the record, I'm not assaulting you because you're Mexican,
I'm assaulting you because you're protesting Mr. Trump's politics.
This is not a hate crime, just the disturbing early signs of fascist rule."

-Trump's security guy drawing 
an important legal distinction