Friday, March 19, 2021

Nice For a Change

It is nice to have a competent government again. You see the media complaining about things like, President Biden has not held a press conference, and it's ... kinda cute. Migrants at the border? Sure -- it's a hundred times better than it was last year, but yes the problem needs some good, rational attention and is finally getting it. Did you see, he wears a Rolex! Woo, those are some scandals. It's nice, isn't it? We have regular problems again, and they are being solved in a professional way. We now have a leader who can speak in sentences, has plans and executes them, a press secretary who explains decisions, policies, issues. Competent Cabinet Secretaries getting sworn in. Fact-checkers twiddling their thumbs.

In the meantime the Republicans are off in "Cancel Culture" land, talking themselves into a tizzy about whatever that is supposed to be, as if anybody 1.believed them, or 2.cared. President Biden is ignoring their silliness; if they want to be part of modern American politics then they are going to have to come up with some promise of competent leadership, and they are nowhere close to that.

Here's the kind of thing they're into. In the past year Republicans introduced more than twenty state bills about transgender athletes. They insist it's not fair for transgender athletes to compete in sports. Is it fair for poor people to pay more taxes than billionaires? Is it fair for Montgomery County police to pull over Black drivers at twice the rate of white ones? Is it fair for women to be paid less than what men make for the same job? Oh, I see, fairness is not really the issue. The Republicans are working themselves up over an issue-that-is-not-an-issue. There is a certain small percentage of the population which they call "their base," who might vote on the basis of something like Doctor Seuss or transgender athletes, and that's who they perform for now. It has become clear that the base is unreachable, they're gonna be what they're gonna be. "Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate" (Swift, 2014).

Transgender athletes do not seem to have any systematic advantage, there are some who win and some who lose. Like everybody else, some are better and some worse in their events. There are many kinds of variations between people, and no reason in the world to make this particular quality the focus of any controversy unless, as the front page of The Post print edition said yesterday, the question of gender identity is being made into a "political flash point." There are so many ways that Republicans could make athletic competition more equitable (**cough** Colin Kaepernick **cough**), but they don't care about that. They only care about humiliating and punishing those people who have the courage to live as God made them.

So while the Democrats are leading a recovery after the Trump years, the Republicans are concerned with things like making it harder to vote, reading "Green Eggs and Ham" on the Internet, and trying to keep transgender athletes out of sports.

Some small percentage of the US population is just going to be obsessed with these things. Those people can be noisy, they can be violent, they have their own TV networks and nutty people in public offices. They turn up in the news disproportionately. But at this point it just seems kind of sad. Conservatives don't have anything to offer other than bizarre conspiracy theories, white supremacist beliefs, and weird obsessions with kids' books and cartoons and people who are different from themselves. There is one competent political party, and they are in the Presidency and both houses of Congress. It's nice, things will be going well for a while.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Cancellation Nation

It's fascinating when conservatives get their jaws around something and won't let go. This week it's "cancel culture." Every time you look up you see some nut talking about this thing.

So, listen, did cancel culture just start -- is this something new? I don't see anything different but ... maybe I missed it.

It looks to me like cancel culture means that if you screw up at your job you get fired. Producers drop bad products. Bad ideas are shot down. So, okay?

Apparently this is a liberal thing. Conservatives accuse liberals of wanting consequences when somebody does something bad. So, say, Donald Trump was accused of raping a thirteen-year-old girl, then threatening her and her family with physical harm if she told anyone. It was headed for court years later but her lawyer said she had received threats and was afraid to appear.

See, liberals would want to know what happened there, and if an adult man had in fact raped a child they would want to see some accountability. Liberals would expect a child-rapist to withdraw his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States, at least. But that's cancel culture. Conservatives would say he raped the little girl a long time ago, he was young and sowing his wild oats. She came on to him first. Maybe they would point to the girl and say look how cute she was. And why weren't her parents keeping an eye on her? Give the guy a break, he was just joking, this is political correctness run amok. Obviously conservatives would not cancel their golden idol, Donald Trump, over something like raping a child.

Liberals don't seem to mind the accountability thing. The bitter example is Al Franken. He once posed for a photograph with his hands hovering over a woman's breasts, and was forced out of the US Senate. Liberals thought the photo was in bad taste, sexist, undignified. This week Andrew Cuomo might get run out of town for harassing women. He is not meeting the standard we set for Democratic leaders and will be held accountable, one way or the other. He didn't rape a child, but he was disrespectful to some women. Republicans famously don't care about those things.

Conservatives have had hysterical fits over a different "cancel culture" example nearly every day this week. Yesterday it was Doctor Seuss. Nobody is canceling The Cat in the Hat. His publisher decided to stop publishing some of the older books that did not seem appropriate now. Seems to me they run their own business and if they don't want something on the market that's up to them. Loudoun County decided not to include Doctor Seuss in their list for Read Across America Day, they looked over his stuff and decided not to point kids to that content. When President Biden read his reading-day statement he didn't mention Doctor Seuss, one way or the other. Nothing was canceled. There are lots of great authors for kids, and Doctor Seuss is still out there.

Ted Cruz posted an image online of a bunch of Doctor Seuss books that are still in print, and said, "Who knew Joe Biden was such a great book seller." Actually, Joe Biden literally did and said nothing. Literally. But as a liberal he is personally responsible for Dr. Seuss Enterprises' decision to let some books go out of print.

Oh and the Toy Formerly Known As Mister Potatohead -- this one set them off! The company that makes the toy decided to take the "Mister" out of its name. I am pretty sure kids are not going to care. The company reevaluated their marketing strategy and conservatives are going crazy over it. Glenn Beck literally called this "The end of freedom in America."

Again: "The end of freedom in America."

I'm so old I remember when you used a real potato and stuck some eyes and stuff on it. Now America is collapsing because the plastic potato isn't a man any more.

Recently the company that makes Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup decided to change the name and picture and rightwingers went berserk. I don't know why they decided to change it, but Aunt Jemima was surely a stereotype that we don't see any more in the real world, the Black "mammy" who cooked for the (white) family, raised the kids and took care of the house. I'm not saying that Venus and Serena would sell more pancake syrup, but the company has the right to change the name and picture if they want. Actually, Venus and Serena, not a bad idea... I'd buy that.

The Conservative Political Action Conference this year called their event "America Uncanceled." Republicans in Congress want to have official government hearings on "cancel culture." They are sure this is a way to humiliate liberals but it seems to me they are just making themselves look dumber than usual.

Here's the thing: most liberals don't care. Oh, you won't see me sleeping on a My Pillow pillow, and there are no Goya beans in our pantry, but you know, aligning with Trump was just bad advertising. Their marketing lost me as a customer, pure and simple. Sucking up to Trump is about like putting Charles Manson on the can, or a color photograph of vomit; it does not appeal to me. But you can sleep on whatever pillow you want, and eat whatever beans you like, I don't care. I look forward to a world without prejudicial cues everywhere, but I don't work for the companies that make pillows, beans, pancake batter, toys, or books, and I don't make their decisions. That's just the free market working. When bigotry and stereotypes sold products, the companies were on board, and now they're not. A lot of Americans are not into that stuff these days, and it hurts the bottom line.

BREAKING: Jeep might change the name of the Cherokee. You know what that means.

It's quaint how conservatives will find one little thing and try to smear all liberals with it. Recently a hockey team decided not to play the national anthem before their games, and for a long time nobody even noticed. Then somebody wrote an article and conservatives went wild with it. It was not a liberal decision or "cancel culture," the company just figured they could sell beer or whatever instead of having people stand for the anthem. Conservatives love to take something like that and pretend that that is what liberalism is about. But liberals didn't notice the absence of the national anthem any more than they did.

All levity aside, it comes down to this. It wasn't liberals who tried to overthrow the government and kill our elected leaders a couple of months ago, so just STFU. Go home and change your panties and come back with a better attitude.

Coming next -- "Virtue signaling:" how conservatives define good behavior as a bad thing.