Politics

Friday Linkfest: This, That, and T’other

It’s not the post that Friday needs, but the post the Friday deserves:

Peace out, cub scouts. Have a great weekend.

The Secretary of State Ain’t What it Used to Be…

There was a time when being picked as Secretary of State was tantamount to being flagged as the frontrunner for the next Presidential election. Six Secretaries of State have gone on to become President. However, the last such was James Buchanan in 1856. Since then, we see far more failed Presidential Candidates (William Jennings Bryan, Charles Evan Hughes, Edmund Muskie, John Kerry) than Presidents in that slot.

I suspect that Hillary Clinton viewed the position as one of sufficient prestige to make her the Designated Successor after a successful eight-year Obama Presidency. If she can pull it off, being the first Secretary of State to be elected President since the collapse of the Whig Party will be almost as impressive as being our first female President.

However, that might not work out so well:

Only 43 percent of U.S. voters hold a favorable opinion of the former secretary of state, while 41 percent of voters have a negative view, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Tuesday. That’s a significant shift from the same poll taken in Jan. 2013, just before she left her post with the Obama administration. Back then, 56 percent had favorable views compared with just 25 percent who had negative views. A Feb. 2009 poll showed Clinton’s approval rating topping out at 59 percent.

Maybe Buchanan just left a curse on the job, but I suspect that foreign affairs are a lot more fraught with controversy today than in our splendid isolation before the First World War. When American foreign policy could be summed up as Monroe Doctrine + Manifest Destiny, the job was easy. Today, it’s very much something you can screw up, and I feel as though Clinton’s numbers would be better if Obama’s foreign policy was less in tatters.

homer-doh

The Shaky Evidence of Gender Theory

Stacy McCain could be a accused of being a “feminism bore”, as often he seems to write about little else. But feminism, especially of the radical variety, merits the response. Today McCain takes a long look at Kate Millet, author of the 1970 radfem tome Sexual Politics. His main point, about Millet’s mental health and unhappiness, is of a piece with things he’s written before, but I’m more interested in the bad evidence for Gender Theory that Millet used.

The crux of gender feminism  is that there are no men and women, only “men” and “women” – social constructs that can and should be done away with in the interests of true equality. But upon what evidence does that claim rest? According to McCain, precious little, at least insofar as Sexual Politics is concerned:

Scientific advances have been quite unfortunate for Millett’s claim that “there is no differentiation between the sexes at birth,” in part because her citation for that claim is dependent on one of the greatest frauds in scientific history. On pages 30-31, she excerpts a quotation from a 1965 article “Psychosexual Differentation,” from a book entitled Sex Research, New Developments; in her bibliography, Millett references a 1957 book, The Psychologic Study of Man. The author of both of these works? Johns Hopkins University psychologist Dr. John Money, whose botched attempt to turn a boy into a girl (the notorious “John/Joan” experiment) failed spectacularly, ultimately resulting in the suicide of Dr. Money’s pathetic human guinea pig, David Reimer.

Dr. Money’s unethical (and perhaps criminal) methods of attempting to psychologically “condition” Reimer to be a girl were never successful; “Brenda” Reimer aggressively rejected the female identity that Dr. Money tried to impose. Yet Dr. Money, having trumpeted the “John/Joan” case as proof of his theories in the 1970s, misrepresented the case in his academic publications and in popular media. It took many years before another scientist, curious to know how Dr. Money’s patient had adjusted to adult womanhood, discovered the shocking truth behind Dr. Money’s fraudulent “research.” As a teenager, “Brenda” Reimer had decisively rejected “her” female identity, and sought treatment to become the man “she” had been born to be. David Reimer married a woman and, despite the loss of functional genitalia — castrated in infancy as part of Dr. Money’s “treatment” — he was by the 1990s an otherwise normal (that is, masculine) young man, albeit suffering from depression that finally resulted in his 2004 suicide.

This is startling, and not just because you find yourself wondering “Who the hell authorized the castration of an infant boy?” But because you would like to assume that basic ethics would prevented someone from making use of such experiments. But apparently one would be wrong.

Concurrently, Millet dismisses contrary evidence without having done the reading:

Millett, whose claim to expertise was . . . well, what? She got her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Minnesota and got a postgraduate degree in literature at Oxford University, then went to Japan where she taught English and married an avant-garde sculptor.
Here she was in 1970, however, presuming to accuse Dr. Lionel Tiger, a professor of anthropology, of misrepresenting the research of zoologist Konrad Lorenz, who won the Nobel Prize in 1973. If Tiger was guilty of misrepresenting Lorenz’s work, you might think that Lorenz himself would have made the accusation, which he never did. Anyone interested in the subject may consult Konrad Lorenz’s 1966 book On Aggression and Lionel Tiger’s 1968 book Men in Groups and decide for themselves whether the two authors were in accord.

Of course the answer to this is that science is a patriarchal construct. Which is a rhetorically effective device, as all the devices employed by conspiracy theorists and totalitarians tend to be.

Now, I’m betting that evidence for gender-theory – the nurture side of the equation, as it were – is more pronounced today than it was in 1970. But so is the counter-evidence. There’s more than enough scientific data on how boys and girls behave differently from birth to at least seriously question the notion that gender is a social construct. That there are divergences in gender behavior among men and women, no one denies. That there are social aspects to gender, no one denies. But the assumption that the cart is pushing the horse has never made sense to me.

Everything is Rape Culture

Roofies are rape culture, obviously.

Nail polish that detects roofies? Also Rape Culture. Because women shouldn’t have to “prevent rape”. Men should just not rape.

Because rape denies women agency over their own bodies, anything which gives women a means of protecting or ensuring that agency is also part of rape culture. Like, duh.

Also rape culture: women carrying weapons, mace, or rape whistles to protect themselves from assault. I mean, they’re even called “rape whistles.” How Rape-Culture can you get?

Also rape culture: women fighting back from being raped at all. She should not have to do that. Do you get it, male pigs of the Patriarchy? SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DO THAT. Better to close her eyes, think of England, and then call the cops.

Except she shouldn’t call the cops, because cops are totally Rape Culture. Cops arrest men for rape, which is too damn late. The rape has already happened. MEN SHOULD JUST NOT RAPE.

Rape is very bad and should not happen. Until all men know not to rape, all men are guilty of rape. That’s completely logical and not at all reminiscent of the reasoning of racists, right?

It is not the job of women to prevent rape. It is the job of men. The job of women is to talk about rape and demand that men do something about it. Women must forego their patriarchally-imbued sense of self-preservation and responsibility for their own lives and depend upon men to make things safe for them.

Because Feminism.

A Few Modest Suggestions For the #NewRedskinsName

As it turns out, the Patent Office refusing to register the trademarks for the Washington Redskins means less than you might think. Largely it means that the federal government will no longer actively protect the trademark. It doesn’t mean the team can’t use the name or sue to keep its use in its own hands. Read here for how all that’s broken down. (h/t: Ace) So the lively twitter hashtag #NewRedskinsName will probably amount to naught.

But, there may yet come a point when the team’s owner tires of these shenanigans (especially if he reflects on how his stated intent of the use of the name will never be afforded the same courtesy as the stated intent of Liberals in Good Standing like Stephen Colbert), and decides that he wants news reports on his team to concern themselves with their most recent playoff failure instead of the racism-dissociation kabuki de jeur. To that end, I offer these suggestions for a new team name, depending on how Mr. Snyder wants to put an end to the matter:

1. If Mr. Snyder wants to change as little as possible, while flying under the PC radar:

redskinsThe Washington Potomacs.

Advantages: You can probably keep the same logo and mascot (after all, who is to say that the stately Native American bust on the helmets isn’t a Potomac?). If the University of Florida is allowed to call itself the Seminoles, this should fly. You might get the leadership of the 500 current members of the Patawomeck tribe to sign off on it, just to seal the deal.

 

If he want to be obnoxious about it: change the team logo to resemble one of the warrior indians from this picture:

WWscalping3

Edit the white woman out, of course, just make the guy look as badass as all football mascots are supposed to be. I’d go with the one on the right.

2. If Snyder Wants to Illustrate What it Would Actually Look Like if Football Team Names Were Intended to Disparage Their Subjects:

libThe Washington Liberals

Advantages: This could be a fun exercise in protest theater. The mascot could be someone dressed up as the College Liberal meme to the left, who could march up and down the field holding “Down With This Sort of Thing”-type signs. The coach should throw out his red flag -regardless of whether he’s used up his challenges – every time he deems the other team has played “insensitively”. Instead of Cheerleaders, they could have Discourse Providers, who would spend halftime lecturing the fans about how horrible they all are, before ritually flagellating themselves for whatever white or cisgendered privilege they happens to be holding onto (differently-gendered Discourse Providers of Color would naturally be excused from this).

If he wants to be obnoxious about it: whenever they make it to the Super Bowl, forfeit “in apology for America.” For bonus points, wait until after the coin toss to do it.

 

3. If Snyder Wants to Go Full Meta:

262112-Gray-Football-Helmet-largeThe Washington Football Players.

Advantages: Impossible to be officially offensive, yet contains as much gleeful obnoxiousness as the others put together. Grey helmets with no logo. Grey jerseys with darker-grey numbers and names on them. No mascots, no cheerleaders, no fight songs, no team spirit, and the offense should call the same play (up-the-middle play-action pass) every down.

If he wants to be obnoxious about it: Do it for one season, then go back to being the Redskins.

In Austin, Apparently Things Aren’t Supposed to Cost Money.

Parks and light rail are made with hope and dreams and the fierce urgency of change, you see.

“I’m at the breaking point,” said Gretchin Gardner, an Austin artist who bought a 1930s bungalow in the Bouldin neighborhood just south of downtown in 1991 and has watched her property tax bill soar to $8500 this year.

“It’s not because I don’t like paying taxes,” said Gardner, who attended both meetings [of "irate homeowners"]. “I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here anymore.”

Um…

Homer-BlankStare-1

 

Okay, so…is this how things are supposed to work in your world?

  1. Vote for All the Neat Things
  2. Government builds All the Neat Things, Because it has All the Money
  3. ???????????
  4. TAXES STAY THE SAME!

Perhaps I’m being unfair. The person did say that she doesn’t mind paying taxes, so there’s obviously some awareness of the connection between public projects and the public purse. But the idea that public projects should keep pace with the tax base seems never to have occurred to her.

I should be sympathetic. I really should. This is exactly the result that people on my side of the aisle predict from the Progressive insistence on Having All the Things Now. But I’m not. Because when people on my side of the aisle make that prediction, people in Austin tell us we’re just a bunch of racist patriarchal bitterclinging ungoodthinkers, and that they, the Right Kind of People, know better.

So this silly bint can choke on her property tax bill until she figures out that when she approves a public project, she’s sending a bill to herself.

youdensemotherfucker