the right to pick up sticks

For all the folks who keep insisting that the Lord Our God decreed that marriage was reserved for one man and one woman, it’s important to remember that the Lord Our God also decreed folks who picked up sticks on the Sabbath had to be stoned to death.

And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.

And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.

And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.

And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.

And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.

We’re not talking about some uneducated local magistrate making a bad judicial decision here; we’re talking about Moses. This is the guy they call the Law-Giver. This is a guy who has a burning bush for an iPhone. Moses is one of the Big Hats.

Moses was a serious guy.

Moses was a serious guy.

So when Moses checks in with the Lord Our God and says, “Lord, we got this guy picking up sticks on the Sabbath, what’ll we do?” he knows the Lord Our God is going to give him an answer. And that’s exactly what he got. The Lord Our God says, “What? Picking up sticks? On the Sabbath? We’re not having any of that. Kill that guy. Haul his ass out of camp and kill him. Kill him with rocks.”

Moses not having any of that picking up sticks bullshit.

Moses not having any of that picking up sticks bullshit.

And this is why we don’t base modern American civil law on Biblical law. This is why Americans can feel safe picking up sticks any day of the week. And it’s also why gay folks can now get married if they want.

You don’t have to pick up sticks on the Sabbath if you don’t want to, or if your religion forbids it. You don’t have to like folks who do pick up sticks. But here’s the thing: you can’t prevent them from picking up sticks on the Sabbath, and no matter what you believe the Lord Our God wants, you can’t kill them. With rocks or anything else.

 

horseshit hypocrisy

I declare, fucking Republicans…no respect for the law.

Remember back in 1976 when the Supreme Court of These United States ruled that money (in the form of campaign contributions) was political speech and  that the “quantity of expression” (the amounts of money) can’t be limited? Were Democrats angry about that decision? Hell, yes. But SCOTUS had made a decision, so it was the law. And Democrats followed the law.

And remember back in 2000 when SCOTUS, at the request of George W. Bush, stopped the recount of the Florida vote? And then, three days later, ruled that there wasn’t enough time to complete a fair recount — even though the recount would probably have been completed if they hadn’t stopped it — so the last recount would stand as official, thereby giving the election to Bush? Were Democrats pissed off by that decision? Damn right, they were. But SCOTUS had ruled, so that was the law — and Democrats followed the law and George W. Bush was given the chance to become the worst president in history..

And remember back in 2010 when SCOTUS ruled that corporations were people and therefore entitled to the same free speech rights (money, in other words) as individuals? Were Democrats furious over that decision? Totally fucking furious. But SCOTUS had issued a ruling and that ruling was law — so Democrats obeyed the law.

And do you remember back in 2013 when SCOTUS decided to gut the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protected minorities from state laws that suppressed their ability to vote? Were Democrats pissed off about that? Yeah, they were totally pissed off. But hey, SCOTUS had spoken and even though Republican-controlled states immediately began passing laws that made it more difficult for minorities to vote, Democrats accepted it as standing law.

And now SCOTUS has said that prohibiting same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. And are Republicans angry about that? Fucking right, they are. But SCOTUS has spoken, so Republicans are…wait. When Democrats disagreed with the Supreme Court, they obeyed the law and tried to find legal ways to change it. But fucking Republicans? Not so much. They’re basically telling their people to ignore the law.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton -- Republican (not yet indicted).

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — Republican (not yet indicted).

The Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, issued a statement saying SCOTUS…

…ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist. In so doing, the Court weakened itself and weakened the rule of law, but did nothing to weaken our resolve to protect religious liberty and return to democratic self-government in the face of judicial activists attempting to tell us how to live.

This guy is the state’s chief law enforcement official, yet he doesn’t seem to understand that the Supreme Court’s actual job is to determine the meaning of the Constitution. He doesn’t seem to understand that the same Constitution includes a clause that says the following:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

Supreme law of the motherfucking land. Ain’t no getting around that. If there was, then President Gore would have kept us from stupidly invading Iraq. And even though it clearly says ‘every state shall be bound thereby‘ Attorney General Paxton told his county clerks of court they should feel free to refuse to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples. He also included this warning:

It is important to note that any clerk who wishes to defend their religious objections and who chooses not to issue licenses may well face litigation and/or a fine. But, numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs, in many cases on a pro-bono basis, and I will do everything I can from this office to be a public voice for those standing in defense of their rights.

“Go ahead, piss on the law,” he said, “I’ve got your back.” We sort of expect this sort of bullshit from Texas, and considering that AG Paxton is probably going to be indicted for securities fraud in the near future, it’s no surprise that he has no respect for the law. But we’re also seeing this same crap from Republicans in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, and North Dakota,

corporate same sex marriage

These fuckwits have the absolute right to disagree with the Supreme Court. They have the absolute right — and maybe even a moral duty — to work within the law to change it. They have the right to speak out against it. But damn it, they DO NOT have the right to flout the law by refusing to obey it. They DO NOT have the right to ignore the law or defy it, simply because they disagree with it.

This horseshit hypocrisy pisses me off.

 

somewhat true detective

“Yo, Greg, you should watch True Detective.” That’s what everybody kept telling me. “Great acting,” they said. “Lyrical cinematography, complex characters, clever plot,” they said, “all wrapped up in a realistic crime drama that takes place in the South. You’ll love it.”

So I watched it. The entire first season — eight hour-long episodes — over the last four weeks. And hey, they were mostly right. I did love it. The acting was terrific, just like folks told me (I swear, Matthew McConaughey never blinked once during the entire season), and the cinematography was artful. I suppose the characters could be seen as complex, but they’re pretty much right off the Stock Character–Complex Model shelf. We’ve all seen the Marty Hart character before, the hard-working detective who drinks too much and thinks too little. And the Rust Cohle character is basically Serpico, the Cerebral Cop, quoting big chunks of Thomas Ligotti, who is the High Lord of Anhedonia. It’s the quality of the acting that makes these characters interesting, not the characters themselves.

true detective tree2

The plot? Well, it was fairly predictable. Let’s face it, there’s nothing original about two detectives solving a nasty crime committed by powerful people who use their influence to hinder the investigation. That said, the plot was elevated by being beautifully structured and through the mostly masterful pacing. I say ‘mostly’ masterful pacing because there were a few scenes that were stretched out because apparently HBO requires a certain number of minutes devoted to young women showing their tits and ass. (Disclaimer: I’m not opposed to tits or ass so long as they’re organic to the story and don’t disrupt the pacing; but c’mon, the only reason they included some of the sex scenes — including the pointless image in the opening sequence where we see a woman’s naked ass above a pair of spiked stiletto heels — is to attract a young male audience.)

But a realistic crime drama? Well, no — but nobody really expects this sort of show to be realistic. Real life investigation can be pretty dull, after all. However, I did appreciate how the writer, Nic Pizzolatto, demonstrated that good detective work often involves a buttload of time sitting alone in a room sifting through old files and public records. That facet of investigation almost never makes it to the screen. It doesn’t quite make up for Pizzolatto’s wholesale lifting of dialog from Ligotti, but you have to give the guy props when he deserves them.

So yeah, True Detective was excellent television and I’m really glad folks recommended it to me. But nobody — not one person — told me that True Detective was a classic Southern Gothic story. And lawdy, that’s the heart of the whole goddamn thing.

true detective house

Some of you are probably saying “Southern Gothic? I have never heard of this Southern Gothic. Qu’est-ce que c’est Southern Gothic?” Allow me to ‘splain.

Southern Gothic is a highly atmospheric literary genre grounded in the decay — both physical and moral — of the Old South aristocracy. Southern Gothic (and I’m just going to start calling it SG on account of I’m lazy) stories usually involve the decline of Southern gentility into perversion, grotesquerie, and madness. The descendants of antebellum families that once owned plantations and slaves have been reduced to living in house trailers parked out in the country, and they’re working odd jobs. The slaves are gone, the plantations either sold to Yankees or fallen into dilapidation (or worse, turned into tourist venues). The cotton fields have been plowed under, replaced by strip malls and big box stores.

The characters in SG stories struggle to understand the world around them and find some way to fit their lives into modern society. Drug addition, alcoholism, confused sexuality, sexual paraphilia, mental and physical deformities, religious depravity or fanaticism, poverty, alienation, violence, the supernatural, illegitimacy — tie all that up with a bow of futile and pointless family pride and you’ve got yourself a classic SG story.

true-detective-episode-2

That sort of moral and spiritual degradation isn’t unique to the Southern Gothic genre; literature and film are full of examples of the moral corruption of European aristocrats. We’re talking everything from Count Dracula to the Marquis de Sade to Charles II of England. It’s not just power that corrupts — it’s also unquestioned privilege. Privilege allowed folks to whip and/or rape the young village boys and girls without any fear of consequence. Society can take that privilege away, but the desire to continue whipping and raping doesn’t necessarily go with it. That means the unwholesome behavior has to become more secretive. That’s been universally true. What makes the corruption of SG stories unique, I think, is its relationship to heat and defeat.

Heat is debilitating. It reveals itself through sweat, and sweat lubricates Southern Gothic stories. Sweat, not perspiration. In SG literature, sweat suggests either labor or animal lust. It suggests either being out in the field doing a job — which indicates a lower social status — or you’re driven by a sexual desire so strong that you ignore the fact that it’s just too damned hot to fuck. Either way, sweat suggests you’re not the master of your own behavior. All the decent, privileged people, after all, are sitting on the porch, sipping something cool and fanning themselves. They may perspire, but they do not sweat.

true detective detectives

In True Detective, we see all the main characters sweating — all but the Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle, who is never seen outside an air-conditioned building. He’s metaphorically still sitting on the porch, watching the lower classes laboring away. Except, of course, when he puts on a Mardi Gras masque and works up a sweat doing something really horrific to young girls. (We never actually see what he does; all we know is that it makes hardened law enforcement types scream when they see it.)

But more than the Southern heat, it’s Southern defeat that really counts. Yeah, we’re talking about the American Civil War again. We’re talking about the cultural resentment at the loss of status, property, income, and privilege. Loss — that’s really the wrong term. In SG stories characters don’t feel they lost their former status; they feel it was taken from them — stolen from them — and that sparks a deep, underlying current of bitterness.

In True Detective we see echoes of that bitterness mostly in the character of Errol Childress — the chubby, scarred, perpetually sweaty pervert who is descended from an illegitimate branch of the Tuttle family tree. He’s not only been deprived of the privilege his ancestors enjoyed, he’s even deprived of their name. At one point, the two detectives who are investigating Cohle happen across Childress and ask directions. They drive off while he’s still speaking — an insult he’s able to shrug off because, as he says, “My family’s been here a long time.”

true detective childress

There’s another thing we see a lot in Southern Gothic stories: symbolism. At the beginning of the series and very near the end (and periodically throughout), we see an old, gnarled tree standing alone in a corn field. The tree looks ancient, like it’s been there forever; its roots are deep in the land. The field, on the other hand, is relatively new and the crops are planted around the tree. The depravity of the Tuttle/Childress clan has been around a long time; it’s anchored to the land and it’s still here despite recent changes of society. Society, in fact, has shaped itself around the Tuttles, and left them largely undisturbed (while the Childress family has been left in a sort of socio-cultural backwater). The Tuttle/Childress family tree has many branches, and branches show up all over the show as bizarre clues and as set decorations. The symbolism is obvious, but not overwhelming.

There are lots of flaws and problems with True Detective. For example, it never bothers to explain the references to The King in Yellow or Carcosa (both of which come from classic gothic horror stories) or their significance in the murders committed by Childress. And then there’s this: what’s the story purpose of Cohle having visual hallucinations? They’re almost completely ignored except in the first and last episodes, and I can’t see how they contribute in any material way to either the plot or the character development.

true detective tree

But the flaws and problems are, I think, minor when compared to the overall success of the show (and I’m talking about artistic success, not commercial success). True Detective was an absolute pleasure to watch. But dammit, it’s not really a detective story. It’s Southern Gothic, baby, right down to its depraved heart.

i don’t know maybe who can say?

It only took Jeb! Bush three tries to get it right. Well, almost right. I’m talking about the mass murder at Mother Emanuel church in Charleston. First he said this:

“I don’t know what was on the mind or the heart of the man who committed these atrocious crimes.”

And okay, yeah, nobody can ever really say they know what another person is thinking or feeling and all that. But Dylann Roof wasn’t being terribly subtle about his reasoning. That Confederate flag, the two racist African flags, the open admission that he wanted to start a race war — those are pretty reliable indications of what he had in mind. And that was before the discovery of his racist manifesto.

A day later, Jeb! got a tad more specific. When asked if the murders were racially motivated, he said this:

“I don’t know! Looks like to me it was, but we’ll find out all the information. It’s clear it was an act of raw hatred, for sure. Nine people lost their lives, and they were African-American. You can judge what it is.”

A real tower of Jello, Jeb! Bush. He’s not going to rush to judgment. Raw hate? Check. Nine dead black folks? Check. Racially motivated hate crime? Well, it sorta kinda looks that way to me, but who can say? While he wasn’t quite able to commit to having a clue about Dylann Roof’s motives, Jeb! was totally mostly almost solid in his stance on South Carolina’s Confederate flag.

“My position on how to address the Confederate flag is clear. In Florida, we acted, moving the flag from the state grounds to a museum where it belonged… Following a period of mourning, there will rightly be a discussion among leaders in the state about how South Carolina should move forward, and I’m confident they will do the right thing.”

He did, in fact, order the Confederate flag flown over the Florida state house removed, and that was the right thing to do. But is it the right thing for South Carolina? I don’t know, maybe, who can say? Whatever the right thing is, Jeb! is pretty much sure South Carolina will do it. Probably.

What? How should I know? -- Jeb!

What? How should I know? — Jeb!

The various 2016 Republican candidates for presidency have staked out a fairly narrow range of positions on social issues. They fall somewhere along a graduated scale from wildly and loudly wrong (the Ted Cruz approach) to tentative ignorance and uncertainty (the Jeb! approach). Despite the fact that he’s been considered presidential material since even before his dull-witted brother befouled the White House, Jeb! has managed to maintain a near-perfect level of thick-headedness.

His position on climate change?

“I think global warming may be real. It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade.”

“I’m a skeptic. I’m not a scientist.”

He’s not a scientist. But why doesn’t he believe the folks are actually are scientists? Because he’s a skeptic, and hey there are literally dozens of scientists who aren’t convinced, so there. Jeb! kinda maybe thinks he might believe those scientists. The other ones? Perhaps, maybe, who knows?

Does Jeb! have a position on all those so-called ‘religious freedom’ laws Republican legislatures keep passing to protect the rights of pastry cooks to resist gay tyranny? Of course, he does. Almost.

“I don’t know about the law, but religious freedom is a serious issue, and it’s increasingly so, and I think people that act on their conscience shouldn’t be discriminated against, for sure.”

For sure. Asking people to obey the law even if they disagree with it, that’s totally for sure discrimination. If they’re, you know, Christian and all. Otherwise, well, it’s hard to say. Possibly. It depends. But hey, what about marijuana laws? What if your state legalizes the medical use of marijuana — or even recreational use — but the federal government still says possession and sale are crimes? What if you disagree with that law? What to do, Jeb!? What to do?

“I don’t know. I’d have to sort that out.”

But sorting stuff out is such hard work. It took him three tries to sort out whether or not he’d have invaded Iraq like his feeble-minded brother. Would he have ordered the invasion ‘knowing what we know now’? Let’s see his answers:

“Yes. And by the way, Hillary Clinton would have too.”

“I misunderstood. And no, I won’t say what I would have done in hindsight.”

“Knowing what we know now, I would not invade.”

My favorite of those three responses is the second one — that pouty ‘I don’t have to answer, you can’t make me, you’re not my mom’ response. I understand it wouldn’t be easy to admit on national television that your brother is a reckless fuckwit, but I’m not sure the best strategy to deal with that problem is to suggest you’re only marginally less stupid. Tell us Jeb!, will your brother be allowed to campaign for you?

“I don’t know, I don’t know yet, we just started.”

Oh, Jeb!, you’ve been preparing for this campaign for months, if not years, and you don’t know? By refusing to acknowledge the role his gormless brother would have in a Jeb! administration, he leaves us with the image of George W. lurking in the shadows of the White House like Boo Radley. And that ain’t pretty.

W? Brother of Jeb!

W? Brother of and adviser to Jeb!

Poor Jeb! Bush — he wasn’t even able to say whether or not he’d be a good candidate in a presidential election.

“I don’t know if I’d be a good candidate or a bad one. But I kinda know how a Republican can win, whether it’s me or somebody else.”

He kinda knows how a Republican can win. After dangling that impotent answer, Jeb! had a couple of weeks to think about it before being asked the very same question.

“I have no clue if I’d be a good candidate, I hope I would be. I think I could serve well as president, to be honest with you. But I don’t know that either. I think you learn these things as you go along.”

No clue. He’s clueless. He is without clue. Sans la moindre idée. Here’s a hint, Jeb! So far, not so much.

And yet, remarkably, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Jeb! has taken the lead in the primary race. A full 22% of likely Republican primary voters say Jeb! is their first choice. Their first choice. It says something about the GOP 2016 candidate roster that the front-runner is a guy who spends part of every interview furrowing his brow and saying ‘I don’t know, maybe, who can say?’

I dunno, maybe? Who can say? -- Jeb!

I dunno, maybe? Who can say? — Jeb!

Jeb! Bush — he’s the smart one in the family. His feckless brother spent his recreational time clearing scrub brush on his Texas ranch. Jeb! probably spent his spare time planting the scrub brush.

my people disappoint me

Okay, first a disclaimer. Or maybe a list of disclaimers. I am a white guy. I’m also a liberal (I used to be a radical, but I’ve grown more conservative over time). Although I was born in the Midwest, my momma is from South Carolina and I’ve lived a big chunk of my life in the Deep South, so I tend to identify as a Southern boy. I have one more disclaimer, but I’m going to hold off on it for a bit.

I’m disclaiming away on account of I’m going to be talking about the Confederate flag. All flags are magical pieces of cloth that automatically confers a +10 bonus modifier to the Ability to Drive People Mad power. The Confederate flag adds a supplementary +5 bonus modifier to Hatred. That modifier applies equally to all classes.

That last bit is important. Common Knowledge suggests that the Confederate flag primarily drives Southern folks mad, but Common Knowledge is sometimes Full of Shit. Which is the case here. Yankees, Southerners, Liberals, Conservatives — doesn’t matter. Very few people manage a saving throw against the Confederate flag.

South carolina state house

We’re talking about flags, of course, on account of Dylann Storm Roof, who murdered nine people in Mother Emanuel church. (Roof’s eminently joke-worthy name, by the way, is countered by the joke-inappropriate circumstance.) Roof utilized flags as tribal fetishes. He had the Confederate flag on the front of his car, and on his jacket he wore the apartheid era flag of South Africa and the flag of Rhodesia. The one thing all those flags have in common is the ideology of white supremacy.

roof car

But the specific flag at issue now is the Confederate Secession flag that flies on the grounds of the South Carolina state house. Many people want to see that flag removed. A minority want it to remain. There are two easily understandable responses to the debate. Here, I’ll shorthand the responses for you.

Response 1: What? That flag? No, that flag didn’t cause Dylann Roof to kill those people.

Response 2: Yeah, that flag. That flag is symbolic of a culture that fosters white supremacy, which fosters fear and hatred of black folks, which is why he killed those people.

There. Now, it’s completely obvious that both responses are true. The Confederate flag didn’t cause this young man — and lawdy, he IS young; he’s only just turned 21 — to shoot and kill nine people he’d been sharing Bible study with. But there’s absolutely no doubt that this young man’s racist ideology is deeply entwined with his apparent fondness for the Confederate flag and his other race-based flags.

roof flags

The conservative defense of the Confederate flag relies heavily on the ‘heritage, not hate’ argument. There’s some foundation for that, but mostly the argument is bullshit. The foundation part lies in the pride of ancestors who fought bravely against a larger, better equipped army and frequently defeated them. The bullshit part is those ancestors were essentially fighting to support a white supremacist government.

Fighting bravely for a wicked cause doesn’t negate the bravery nor mitigate the cause. The problem is that most people tend to conflate the fighting with the cause. But as the character Sportin’ Life sings in Porgy and Bess (which coincidentally is set a few blocks away from where Dylann Roof murdered those nine people), it ain’t necessarily so.

Very few soldiers join the military because of political ideologies. The troops fighting in Afghanistan now don’t necessarily support the policies that dictate their deployment. The troops who fought in Vietnam didn’t necessarily feel communism in Southeast Asia was a threat to the United States. And the soldiers who fought for the Confederacy weren’t necessarily fighting for the right to own slaves. Neither were the soldiers fighting for the Union Army necessarily fighting to free the slaves.

I confess, I expect a lot of conservatives to make a hateful defense of the Confederate flag. What I didn’t expect in the debate was the level of widespread collective vitriol from liberals. I didn’t expect to see comments like these — aimed at all Southern folk — from sites like Daily Kos:

Southern people have blood on their hands from the 1960s from two fucking days ago! They do absolutely nothing about gun violence – FUCK THEM. I HOPE THEY ARE SCARED, THEY CAN GO TO FUCKING HELL FOR ALL I CARE – THEY ENABLE TERRORISTS, MURDERS MASS SHOOTERS, THEY TAKE AWAY RIGHTS FROM WOMEN, THEY CODDLE CHILD MOLESTERS, FUCK THEM – THEY ARE THE AMERICAN TALIBAN AND I COULD GIVE A SHIT HOW THEY FEEL ABOUT THAT. IN FACT, I WANT THEM TO SECEDE – GET LOST, CREATE YOUR OWN COUNTRY SO WE CAN CUT YOU OFF FROM AMERICA – YOU AREN’T A PART OF THE UNITED STATES, YOU NEVER ACCEPTED DEFEAT AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, THEY TERRORIZED BLACKS IN FORCE THROUGH THE 1960S, THE ARE TRYING TO GUT THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT … THIS ISN’T ABOUT 150 YEARS AGO, IT’S ABOUT RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. FUCK THEM.

And this:

I haven’t forgotten Lincoln said he would have allowed slavery to continue to save the Union. Or the moral absurdity that was the Emancipation Proclamation. But since he managed in the end to free the slaves and save the Union, while sending 260,000+ southern traitors to hell, I cut him a little slack.

And this:

The civil war was not complex in any way whatsoever. One side wanted to perpetuate and expand human chattel slavery. All other issues were peripheral and subordinate. Anyone who claims differently is either disingenuous, ignorant or an imbecile. End of discussion.

I did not expect to see liberals express that sort of collective hatred directed at an entire group of people based on the actions of a few. I’m talking both about the collective hatred of Southern folks and the collective assumption that soldiers in the Confederate Army shared the ideology of the politicians who sent them to war.

flags and racists

I will not and cannot defend the Confederate flag. But I wasn’t always that way. This is the disclaimer I avoided at the beginning of this post. In the 1990s I had a small Confederate flag that I used to keep in pencil holder on my desk. To me, that flag wasn’t about the Civil War, or about the defense of slavery, or about white supremacy. It was simply a shorthand way of saying I Love the South. Which I do.

But somewhere around that same time I discovered the origins of the Swastika in ancient Hindu cultures. I learned that the term came from the Sanskrit svastika, which referred to a lucky or auspicious object or person. And I came to understand that the meaning of a symbol is contextual — that it doesn’t matter what the symbol originally meant, or what the symbol means to any specific individual. A symbol means what it means to the majority of people now. So I removed the Confederate flag from my desk. That was also a way of saying I Love the South. Which I do.

So yeah, the Confederate flag has no place in any government facility other than a museum. Its defenders need to understand that they can remain proud of how their ancestors acquitted themselves in the Civil War, but they also need to understand that the Confederate flag stands for white supremacy. The liberal detractors of the Confederate flag need to understand that racism isn’t the sole province of Southern white folks, and that prejudice against Southern folks is no more warranted than prejudice against black folks.

I’m rarely disappointed by right-wing conservatives, because I expect so little of them. But I’m very disappointed by those left-wing liberals who’ve recently proved themselves to be just as irrationally hateful as their conservative counterparts.

Liberals, you are my people. But you embarrass me. Your saving throw against Flag Ability to Drive People Mad has failed. Roll 3d12 for Fuckwit Damage.

jeb! and the little sisters

You know, in yesterday’s excitement apathy over Jeb! Bush’s announcement (Oh, did you miss it? Jeb! announced he was really seriously actually going to campaign to become the Republican Party’s failed nominee for President of These United States, plus he surgically attached an exclamation point to his name in the vain hope that somebody, somewhere in a non-vegetative state would show some enthusiasm for him) I missed something. Jeb! actually said something interesting in his speech.

Jeb!

Jeb!

I don’t think he meant to. Or I don’t think he — or anybody in his audience — would find it interesting in the same way I do. But it’s there and since I find it interesting I’m going to inflict it on you. Here’s what Jeb! said:

“[T\he shabby treatment of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Christian charity that dared to voice objections of conscience to Obamacare. The next president needs to make it clear that great charities like the Little Sisters of the Poor need no federal instruction in doing the right thing.

It comes down to a choice between the Little Sisters and Big Brother, and I’m going with the Sisters.”

Like a lot of folks, you probably responded to this comment with a resounding “Huh? Who are these Little Sisters and what have they got against Obamacare?” Allow me to ‘splain.

The Little Sisters of the Poor is a religious order founded in 1839 by St. Jeanne Jugan. They’re devoted primarily to the care of elderly women who haven’t any other means of support. You have to love and respect them for that. It’s a big group, with more than two hundred institutions in over thirty countries. They’re pretty devout, obviously. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Little Sisters sued the Obama administration, saying the requirement to provide contraceptives and other pregnancy-related services to their female employees violated their religious beliefs.

Jeanne!

Jeanne!

Okay, nothing new there, right? The Bamz went along with them, and his administration basically told religious institutions “You have a problem with providing contraception to your female employees? Fine, sign this form and you won’t have to. If your female employees want those services, we’ll find some other way to make that happen. But you’ll be off the hook.”

Problem solved! Right?

Wrong. The Little Sisters said even signing the form would violate their religious beliefs on account of it just shifted the sin from them to somebody else. In effect, the Little Sisters are saying that by signing the form they’re merely authorizing somebody else to commit the sin in their place — which doesn’t really absolve them of the sin at all.

There’s undeniable logic there, which we can apply to other situations. Let’s say, for example, a Commander-in-Chief signs a document that authorizes forms of interrogation that most of the world define as torture. That CiC doesn’t actually conduct the torture any more than the Little Sisters actually hand out contraceptives. But by the Little Sisters standard, that doesn’t absolve him of the sin.

W!

W! Torture! Sin! Jeb!

That sort of puts a whole ‘nother spin on

“It comes down to a choice between the Little Sisters and Big Brother, and I’m going with the Sisters.”

I wonder if the news media will ask Jeb! about this.

jeb!

Our country is on a very bad course. And the question is: What are we going to do about it? The question for me is: What am I going to do about it? And I have decided.

I am a candidate for President of the United States.

Well, there it is. It’s official. Jeb! Bush has decided to seek the office of President of the United States.

What? You thought he was already running? You thought just because he’s been visiting all the early primary states and meeting with local GOP officials and giving speeches and attending political events that he was already campaigning? You thought he was already a candidate just because he’s been accepting tens of millions of dollars in donations and contributions? You thought just because he’s established a Super PAC and hired campaign staff and event coordinators and political consultants and strategists and pollsters that Jeb! Bush was officially in the race?

Pffft. Silly rabbit. Not at all. Jeb! Bush was simply exploring the idea of running for office.

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You see, it’s against the law for an actual candidate to directly accept corporate campaign contributions. It’s also against the law for an official candidate to accept foreign contributions, or individual cash contributions in amounts over one hundred dollars, or contributions from government contractors. And hey, it’s also illegal to accept individual non-cash contributions of more than $2,700 per election. Those laws were established to prevent corruption in the electoral process.

If Jeb! Bush had actually been a candidate, he’d have been legally required to report the amounts of money he’d raised, and who he accepted the money from, and how that money was spent. He’d have been prohibited by law from coordinating any official campaign strategies with the Super PAC that supports him.

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But hey, Jeb! Bush hadn’t actually said he was a candidate. He hadn’t actually filed a Statement of Candidacy with the Federal Election Committee. And in his speeches to date he’d been careful to insert the phrase ‘if I decide to run.’ So he wasn’t actually a candidate. Which means Jeb! Bush wasn’t really precisely truly properly undeniably breaking the law.

Not at all. No, Jeb! Bush was merely standing off to one side and pissing on the law.

I will campaign as I would serve, going everywhere, speaking to everyone, keeping my word, facing the issues without flinching, and staying true to what I believe.

I think he’s telling the truth. I think he will campaign exactly as he would serve. I think he’ll stay true to what he believes. I think he believes the law doesn’t really apply to people like him.

He’s Jeb! Bush.