Monday, July 27, 2015

Conservatives Believe That Life Begins At $12,000 A Year

Underneath the Planned Parenthood controversy is the great and savage fight in this country over the morality of abortion itself. And we're not going to settle this easily - if we can settle it at all - because it's rooted in our most deeply-held beliefs about what makes a person and when human life begins.

Liberals like myself tend to believe personhood comes from consciousness. Until the human brain develops, which is late in the pregnancy, the thoughts that make one a human are impossible, and therefore the woman's rights over her body take precedence. We also believe people living below the poverty line exist.

Conservatives approach this differently. They believe - often for religious reasons - that human life begins at the moment of conception and after that point the woman's rights must make way for the equally valid rights of her unborn. They believe just as strongly that someone making below $12,000 a year ($11,770 to be exact, or $24,250 for a family of four) is not really a person even in the theoretical sense.

Anti-abortion activists have claimed the recent videos of Planned Parenthood officials prove they are illegally selling fetal organs and tissues for profit. The evidence is deeply suspect - taken by an extremist group that may have itself violated the law by posing as a biomedical company, the footage shows two representatives who repeatedly say the organization makes no profit on the procedure, merely recoups costs. Liberals say we'll need to know more about this situation before we cut hundreds of millions of dollars from a group that provides the poor with tests for STDs, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases, as well as helping them get access to birth control and other healthcare services. Conservatives don't think cutting this out of the budget is a problem, because it simply doesn't hurt people. Not real people anyway, because to conservatives real people are in the middle or upper class, and they don't live in dirty places where they have to go to the whore-clinic.

A liberal sees a person with a pregnancy she didn't anticipate as someone whose life might well be ruined. She might lack the resources to care for a baby and forcing her to carry her child to term will be cruel to both of them. You want to be careful about denying personhood to a being who can think, but you have to weigh this concern against the very real harm that unintended pregnancy causes to people living in poverty, and that's before we even discuss issues like rape, incest, or the health risks causes by complications. A conservative, on the other hand, believes that the issue of personhood is clear. The moment a child is conceived it is a real human being with full rights. And it keeps those rights until nine months later when it's born into a home in which no one has a decent job, and it'll be beaten up or left in a dumpster or whatever, but by that point it won't matter, because there will be little chance it will grow up to work in an office and vote Republican.

The irony is that both liberals and conservatives agree on a key issue: A low-income pregnant woman represents one human being and one human being only. They just disagree on exactly which one that is. But that kind of person is going to get someone elected. Someone who counts.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"Captain Jack Sparrow" And "George Pataki" Are Running For President

I've been wading through all the crazy presidential candidates no one knows about. Yesterday, I found that person named Sara Paylin and posted about it. But I have two more for you.

One is "Jack Sparrow," an independent candidate from Lincoln City, OR. The other is "George Pataki," a Republican from New York, NY. I don't know if Jack Sparrow is the guy's real name, or what his platform is. His email titles him "Captain Jack Sparrow," but that can't be right. As for "George Pataki," that is his real name, and evidently - I've looked this up - he used to be governor of New York.

Who knows why these oddballs decide to run for president? I'm sure it started as a goof and just got out of hand. With "Jack Sparrow," probably it was his drinking buddy who told him to adopt the persona of a movie pirate and see how far that could go. With Pataki, it may have been an overzealous pollster.

On one hand you think these people are kind of cluttering up the process. I mean, having a pretend-pirate or George Pataki in the presidential race kind of kills the seriousness of the whole thing. But they keep things light and interesting, I guess.

Good luck to both of them! They'll need it.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

"Sara Paylin" Is Running For President

Someone from Charlotte, NC named "Sara Paylin" from the "Jewish/Christian National Party" filed with the FEC declaring her candidacy for president. The address of record she listed is an engineering firm in that city.

Seems legit to me.

Here is the link.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Which 2016 Candidates Are The Biggest Liars According to Politifact?

Politifact from the Tampa Bay Times checks statements of candidates, politicians and advocacy groups for accuracy. It keeps a running breakdown of the results, which gives you a good, rough indicator of how often a person or group is lying to you.

I've listed the top presidential candidates in the polls in order of how often their statements are rated "Mostly False," "False," or "Pants on Fire!" In parenthesis I gave you the "Pants on Fire!" rating, which describes a particularly ridiculous claim, along with the total number of statements Politifact checked. Smart stats people are going to realize immediately that the way Politifact picks the claims is going to be subjective, and that can skew the results. So this blog post won't get me my doctorate. Still, some of these candidates clearly have a problem with honesty.

Ben Carson - Lying Frequency 100% (Pants on Fire 0%; 3 statements)
Donald Trump - Lying Frequency 83% (Pants on Fire 21%; 29 statements)
Ted Cruz - Lying Frequency 70% (Pants on Fire 8%; 49 statements)
Mike Huckabee - Lying Frequency 50% (Pants on Fire 12%; 34 statements)
Scott Walker - Lying Frequency 49% (Pants on Fire 7%; 146 statements)
Marco Rubio - Lying Frequency 39% (Pants on Fire 2%; 95 statements)
Rand Paul - Lying Frequency 35% (Pants on Fire 5%; 40 statements)
Jeb Bush - Lying Frequency 32% (Pants on Fire 2%; 46 statements)
Hillary Clinton - Lying Frequency 29% (Pants on Fire 2%; 114 statements)
Bernie Sanders - Lying Frequency 26% (Pants on Fire 0%; 23 statements)

It's obvious that Carson's high rating is a product of the low number of times Politifact has checked him. Still, he made the claim that "a lot of people who go into prison straight, and when they come out they’re gay." A researcher called it "insane."

Also, note that Hillary Clinton and Scott Walker have been checked out more than anyone. She's got a comparatively low rating, which is surprising when you think of how many people believe she's the actual Antichrist. And Walker's reputation as a straight-shooter ought to take a hit, considering he lies almost half of the time.

Ted Cruz is a solid liar with a great work ethic. He will mislead you with energy and reliability. Lying is clearly a craft to him, and he takes it seriously.

But the big, important news is simple: Donald Trump not only has the second highest rate of statements that are untrue, he has the highest - by far - rate of statements that are ridiculously, disturbingly false. Even accounting for the limits of this kind of comparison, Donald Trump is clearly a guy who will tell you things no reasonable person could believe. Which is why he's doing so well. And why, as a nation, we're ready to sell everything and close up shop.

One other thing: Do you notice the partisan breakdown here? How the top liars seem to be all from one party, and the other party seems to be clustered at the bottom?

Huh. That's funny.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Friday, July 24, 2015

"A Fever Dream Of A Novel"

I received a warm review on Goodreads and thought I'd share. The book is a complicated and difficult piece - it's nice when someone gets it. The reviewer has two versions (here and here).

She calls it "a fever dream of a novel," describes how the "narrative shifts in and out of different people's heads and through time" and says that it's about "the tales we tell ourselves to stay sane."

This is what I was going for.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mass Shooters Will Be The Key GOP Demographic In 2016

It's not even the end of the primary but Republicans have already agreed on their party's core policy issues: refighting the Civil War, hunting Mexicans, escalating the conflict with Iran so the Rapture can come, and monitoring every uterus in America. Stylistically, they favor conspiracy theories, white men, people who defer to white men, and waving guns around in public places.

Sure, the party's going to have difficulties reaching out to women, Latinos, and suburban college graduates with this kind of approach. But there is nothing stopping them from appealing to mass shooters. And this is at a time when there are more of this demographic than ever before. Mass shooters are going to be next year's NASCAR Dads. Many of them might literally be NASCAR dads. That seems probable, and it would be a double victory for the party of Lincoln.

Sure, there are challenges. Some of these mass shooters, for example, are extremist Muslims who may be turned off by the GOP's "incinerate all Muslims" platform. But it's not an insurmountable difference. The kind of person who wants to enter a park or school and start blasting because of ideas he heard in an internet chatroom is just going to get the Republican Party and the conservative movement generally. It's a way of thinking that they both have. The fact that Republicans respond to these shootings by encouraging people to buy more guns is a powerful sign of their common values - and mass shooters will respond to that. The love of walking around with powerful weapons and a crippling sense of grievance that warps how you see every fact of history and culture is a quality the GOP can use to reach out to an impressive number of Americans. An impressive number indeed.

Remember: John Hinckley, Jr. was the original Reagan Democrat. But that was 35 years ago, and today there are plenty more of that guy. Republicans know this, and they're going to act accordingly.

2016 should be interesting.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Did GOP Congressmen Know Activists May Have Been Secretly Videoing Abortion Patients?

We know three things about the Planned Parenthood scandal:

1. The group behind the sting videos was dishonest and secretive, and there's disturbing evidence they were willing to commit fraud and harassment to get what they wanted.

2. Planned Parenthood accuses the group of secretly filming inside clinics and violating the "privacy and dignity" of its patients.

3. Roll Call reported that GOP lawmakers from the Pro-Life Caucus like Rep. Trent Franks and Rep. Tim Murphy knew what this group was doing weeks before it went public and did not reveal it.

So the real question is, what are the details that the GOP Congressmen knew? Did they know - did they see - any evidence this group was invading the privacy of people visiting abortion clinics? A rep from the group bragged he has thousands of hours of footage.

Conservatives say they want to get to the truth. So should you.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.
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