Jebipus Rex

June 1, 2012

I think there’s something deliciously ironic about the predicament Florida is in over their voter purges.

Florida Governor Rick Scott is in trouble for ordering a voter purge of so-called “non-citizens,” which is looking more and more obvious that what he’s really doing is targeting Hispanics in general. Which is in direct violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

What I love about this is that Florida has purged their voter rolls before… in 2000, Jeb Bush issued a purge list under the auspice of purging so-called “criminals.” As with the recent case, there were more people on the rolls guilty of being black than there were guilty of actual felonies. If he had not done that purge, Gore would have likely won Florida, and with it the Presidency.

But his brother Bush got the Presidency instead, who, despite being… well, Bush, was pretty sympathetic toward the Hispanic folk. That’s probably some small part of why he signed an extension of the Voting Rights Act in 2006 with much pomp and circumstance. Now, it would have passed no matter who was President at the time, I’m not suggesting that Florida sealed its own fate, but I enjoy the poetic justice that their first unjustifiable purge put the pen in the hand of the man who ensured that the second purge was just as illegal as the first.


On Fair Pay

May 2, 2012

I truly believe that Republicans and Democrats are accidentally working together towards a common goal, contrary to what you hear on the news. They actually allude to it on occasion, when they insist that they’re not just a bunch of hotheaded douchebags, and they actually hang out with each other all the time and talk shop over caviar hoagies (obvious exception being Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, whose hatred of everything is not only her job but her life’s passion). Their common goal is simple: stay in power, which they do though the time-honored tradition of wasting our motherfucking time. They are able to do this by setting us against each other so we bite at each other instead of going after the people who are actually ruining us, as New York does with their black and Asian populations.

The current example is this ridiculous controversy over fair pay for women. At that moment, 26% of you just decided beyond all doubt that I’m a chauvinist asshole who hates women, which is exactly what They want you to think. Hear me out on this. Let’s start with the current situation and go back in time. It is a fact that women make less for the same work than men. The Democrats would have you believe that President Obama fixed all that with the Ledbetter Act in 2009, and now they’re saying that if Republicans have their way, they’ll repeal the Ledbetter Act and put women back in the sweatshops defeathering chickens for two dollars an hour, which is offensively absurd because they would make at least minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour, at least until Congress gets around to abolishing that as well.

The reality is that nobody in their right mind wants to actively repeal the Ledbetter Act except for Gov. Scott Walker, who already repealed it last month so fuck him. But if the act were to suddenly disappear, the gender gap would not suddenly increase. Why not? Because it didn’t suddenly decrease when Obama signed the Ledbetter Act. All the Ledbetter Act says is that if a woman finds out that she is paid unfairly, she can sue, so long as the pay discrepancy had occurred at least in part within the last 6 months. Now, she was already able to sue, because it’s been illegal to underpay women since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Obama doesn’t get credit for legislation that was passed when he was three.

So why bother with the Ledbetter Act? Because before that, women had to sue within six months of when the transgression first started, not just when it occurred, and if they don’t sue within 180 days, they can never sue. Which is, of course, retarded for a number of reasons, but 3 1/2 of them are: 1. pay inequality happens gradually over time. Lilly Ledbetter herself was paid equally at time of hire, but pay raises were tied to employee evaluations. Thus, when her male colleagues’ reports all said they were doing a great job they were given merit increases accordingly, whereas Ledbetter’s reports, though she was objectively doing an equally good job, saw themselves as having done autonomously well despite having a lady boss; nobody thought it was because their lady boss was a good leader and therefore she didn’t get any raises. The first time there was inequality would have been when some dude got a 20 cent raise and Ledbetter didn’t. 1 1/2. So by logical conclusion, the only way any pay inequality would ever go punished would be if every woman with a decent job constantly demanded that she look at all her coworker’s paychecks every month and threaten to sue every time her pay raise wasn’t the best in the company, effectively forcing women to be uppity bitches. Way to solve the gender wars.

2. Most employers don’t even realize that they’re paying women unfairly. They’re culturally inclined to give men more credit for their work, but it would never occur to them that they’re doing anything illegal, so no legal threat would deter them from doing so. Employers who are doing it on purpose are going to be even more inclined to make the pay difference look defensible, which means doing more egregious (but more legally gray) offenses like writing women up any time they do any little thing wrong, unfairly expecting more of them, or purposefully hiring them at a lower level so they can’t catch up to their male counterparts. At best, increasing a woman’s litigation rights incrementally won’t actually have any effect in pay equality because no company would be deterred, and at worst it would actually make things more difficult for women because (surprise surprise) assholes are assholes. If anything, writing rules that call them out tends to make them even worse out of defiance.

But most importantly: 4. Where the hell did this rule come from in the first place, that women have to sue within six months of when the prejudice starts? Shouldn’t common sense dictate that you sue when someone has wronged you? What, is it “fool me once shame on you, fool me for more than six months, shame on me”? Well, according to our increasingly activist Supreme Court, that’s exactly the case. Before it was Ledbetter Act it was Ledbetter v. Goodyear, when she sued for the situation above, and the Supreme Court’s decision was that you could sue for a single act of discrimination, like being fired or sexually harassed, but if you’re continuously shit on for 20 years, well, that’s really your fault, isn’t it?

But here’s the most important point: Goodyear shit on Ledbetter for twenty years despite the fact that it was illegal (even the Supreme Court agreed with that). Whether or not they were punished, the law did not in any way deter them from paying her unfairly, particularly since they didn’t think they were – from their point of view, their only crime was telling Ledbetter “your pay is forever tied to what your subordinates think about having to take orders from a woman. Oh, and you live in Alabama. Have a nice career.”

Back to the Democrats. So The Dems passed the Ledbetter Act and Obama signed it, which was a no-brainer as it closed an obvious loophole that shouldn’t have existed and didn’t exist until the Supreme Court created it, which only existed for two years, and so far as anybody can tell only affected one person ever, Lilly Ledbetter. Now the Democrats are marching through the country telling everyone how they single-handedly rescued the vagina.

Which brings me back to the original point. As we approach the November election, the most prominent issue in the news is the Democrats asking the Republicans how awesome Democrats are fora bill they passed in response to what the Republican court decided two years ago about a woman in Alabama who was making $21.50 an hour instead of the $27.50 an hour she deserved, which, yes, is a crime, but a woman getting $45K salary in Alabama is waaaaaay down on the list of shitty things that Alabamans do to women, and more importantly, the Ledbetter Act is a legislative response to a problem that WE THOUGHT WE TOOK CARE OF 45 YEARS AGO. So if the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the most significant pieces of legislation in American history, didn’t magically solve Lilly Ledbetter’s problems, what the hell do today’s Democrats have any right to take credit for!?

Obviously, the right-wing Supreme Court did not make their decision in Ledbetter as a favor to Democrats so they’d have something to overturn. There’s not a conspiracy, they’re not in collusion, and the Supreme Court doesn’t care about getting Republicans re-elected (actually, Scalia and Thomas probably do but they’re not swing votes so they don’t really count). Nevertheless, the facts are there: for all the bellyaching about women’s fair pay and all the bills flying this way and that, nothing productive has really been done about it since 1991 when G. H. W. Bush was in office. This isn’t an active political plank or some orchestrated business plan – it’s Republicans and Democrats painting two sides of a single picture, with each individual stroke appearing deliberate and inspired, and not until you back up enough to see the whole picture do you see the horrific portrait they’ve painted. It’s not political science, it’s an art form.

The GOP Debates continue…

November 15, 2011

So many great quotes from the South Carolina debate.

Gingrich: “the point of this is not to attack each other, the point of this is that every single one of us is better than President Obama.” No, Newt, the EXACT AND ONLY point to a primary debate is to determine which candidate is the best candidate out of the Republican Party, and has nothing to do with Obama. The general election is where you show that you’re better than Obama. That seems like about as basic as civics gets.

Santorum, on when he would overrule his advisors: “I’ll go into the office with a clear agenda, and I’ll surround myself with people who share my point of view. I have a history of civil service in a not-particularly-conservative state, and I surrounded myself with people who would do what I told them to do.” I’m amazed at how forthright he always is that he’ll ensure that anyone who even moderately disagrees with him on anything will have absolutely no say whatsoever in anything, and that he will turn the United States into an outright fascism.

My favorite quote from Cain he actually said several times. It was “period, however…” For example “I don’t believe in torture, period. However, I believe that waterboarding is an enhanced interrogation technique that can be very useful.” That’s exactly the opposite of what ‘period’ means, unless he’s saying that “I don’t believe in torture (that wasn’t used in the medieval) period.” He’s as bad as Biden is with the word “literally.”

The most interesting part with Romney was when he said that Obama did the right thing by having an American-born terrorist killed, which was really a very right-wing thing to do, and several people in the audience loudly booed him, thus proving that they like Muslim terrorists more than they like Obama. How surprised were they when every other person on stage explicitly agreed with Romney, including the moderators? And they got REEEEEEALLY confused when Bachmann sided with the President!

Stating (what should be) the obvious

October 19, 2011

See, this is why I (and thousands of other people my age) want to get into the political discourse, because the media are so jaded and they’re under such pressure to sound a certain way that they don’t bring up the obvious issues. I was just listening to pundits arguing over the jobs bill, which was not even brought up for debate, let alone voted upon. The Senate voted 50-47 to bring the bill to the floor, and now that it’s just a given that Republicans will filibuster anything, the majority who voted in favor of it abandoned it even though it won.

The liberal on the panel argued how outrageous that was, that our government is so dysfunctional that they can’t even bring something with majority support to the floor. (The 3 non-votes would not have been enough but were in favor of it.) Conservatives said that the Democrats should be happy it didn’t get onto the floor, because it didn’t have enough votes to pass—about 5 Democrats said they would vote against it, and it would have failed 47-53. So the fact that it didn’t go to the floor was a good thing, because it didn’t show the dissent within the Democratic Party.

Now, at this point I think to myself, how is that not absolute, irrefutable proof that the entire system is completely fucked up? Remember, it never even got to be debated on the floor, and they’re establishing as fact two things: 1) if 90% of Democrats favor a bill, it’s an embarrassment to the party because they lack cohesion; 2) they knew the exact vote count BEFORE IT WAS EVEN DEBATED.

So what that means is that there is absolutely zip, zero, NO interest on the part of government to even talk about politics anymore. They had no interest whatsoever in listening to anything anyone had to say. The whole “debate” part, the thing that Congress was specifically designed to do, is a complete sham so that politicians can have video of them saying something on C-SPAN. If you ever actually watch C-SPAN, you’ll see this confirmed by the fact that during “debate” the entire Senate chambers are completely empty. The only people who even bother to show up for work anymore are whoever is in front of the camera. The entire U.S. Congress is a publicity stunt.

Beyond that, it has become a given that nobody is expected to think for themselves. The fact that only 90% of Democrats agree on the jobs bill suggests that, according to the beltway media, “many” Democrats are against the bill. In other words, SO MANY Democrats are against the bill, that four of them are actually going to express their opinion.

So, again with the obvious, but shouldn’t ALL of our elected representatives be expressing their opinion? Is that why the Republican Party is so much more powerful, just because they’re so much better at getting their delegation to blindly agree with everything? Is that why the Constitution specifically built a body of 535 Congressmen from across the country, so that all of the power is given solely to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi on one side and Eric Cantor and John Boehner on the other? Four people who, if they ever agreed on anything, would be more powerful than the President, Supreme Court, and all 50 states combined?

Maybe it’s a good thing, then, that they’re completely unwilling to talk about anything. Maybe it’s a nationwide conspiracy that, rather than taking that 1% risk that our country becomes a Communist State or Theocracy (depending on who wins), we’ll just have no government at all and just sit and watch as America bleeds to death.

The Congress that Never Sleeps

August 24, 2011

In the coverage of the earthquake near Washington, D.C. I heard an interesting little detail in the personal accounts—the quake prompted Congress members to leave the Capitol Building and conduct business out of the Postmaster’s office. Seems they’re burying the lede here… isn’t Congress in recess? Why are there still Congressmen in the Capitol building?

You may be able to come up with the answer yourself. Ask the question: what might be going on during a recess that they would be willing to work through to avoid? As it turns out, they’ve been working not only through recesses, but through holidays and weekends as well. And you probably won’t be surprised to hear that it’s not because of their unerring work ethic or their desire to serve the American people.

See, when they’re in session, Congress has the power to block any hiring (“appointment”) decisions the President makes. However, since Congress is in recess half the year to go back to their home states and talk to their constituents, any temporary hires the President makes during that recess is automatically approved, so the country isn’t shut down for half the year. These are called “recess appointments,” they’re a power explicitly granted in the Constitution, and they are very common, since the U.S. Government has just as much turnover as any other organization. On average, presidents make about 150-200 recess appointments, mostly just to fill vacant positions. Positions are very, very rarely vacant for more than a couple months.

Congress has blocked 223 appointments by Obama (20% of the positions he is authorized to fill). Many of those appointments have been vacant since he took office, including judicial posts, major cabinet positions, and the “jobs czar,” whose role is to address unemployment problems in the United States. Even though Obama has only been able to make 28 recess appointments in three years, Republicans have started leaving a handful of Congressmen in the Capitol for every break, including weekends, federal holidays, and currently when the President himself is on vacation. They leave just enough people there so than any effort Obama makes to fill an open position is blocked. That is why there were several Republicans working during the earthquake– their entire purpose for being there was to block any of Obama’s appointments. This is the only time in the history of the United States this has been done.

Incidentally, the government does not save any money by doing this. The money that an appointment would otherwise be paid in income is countered by the various fines and penalties that the government must pay as a result—for instance, criminals who would otherwise be required to pay fines for breaking the law are instead released without punishment because the government is unable to provide a fair and speedy trial without judges to try them. Of course, blocking appointments isn’t the only way Congress can lose money during recesses. Another example not related specifically to appointments was Congress blocking funds to the FAA, requiring it to be shut down, which meant that the airline companies who pay for the FAA instead kept those fees as additional profit.

The Two Evils (Part One)

August 18, 2011

It seems that every Presidential election has been chalked up by many as “choosing the lesser of two evils.” Why is that, really? It’s too easy to blame it on the nature of politics or corruption by the media or corporate interests. It’s impossible to have a candidate that a majority of Americans would consider the ideal candidate—our country is far too diverse. But it seems that we can’t even find a candidate who the majority of people would agree is “good enough.”

There’s always the fringes to blame. Certainly the current litter of Republican candidates for 2012 shows the fringe’s influence. As last week’s debate in Iowa showed, every single participating candidate claims they would sooner watch our entire infrastructure collapse before they allowed a single tax to go up a dime. Nearly all of them believe that their personal religious values should become federal law, and many of them support permanently amending the Constitution to conform to their short-term political agendas. They are candidates who are promising to hand the entire country over to their constituency of just 26% of the population.

On the Democratic side, liberals complain of the opposite problem—tradition assures that President Obama will seek a second term without a primary battle, and even if he did have to survive a primary, there is no reason to believe that the competition would be any different than it was in 2008, when the Democratic candidate pool was so homogenous it came down to little more than whoever had the most celebrity status. While Republicans are being forced to choose between bible-thumping social engineers and neo-anarchist tax hawks, liberals who want to vote for gay marriage, expanded welfare, or corporate regulation are given no choice at all.

What happened? How did our only choices become ideologues and bureaucrats?

Read part two here

Did 9/11 cause the economic crisis?

August 11, 2011

There have been plenty of arguments that 9/11 led to the wars, or that our fear of terrorists led to us to vote opportunist politicians into office, but I get tired of people blaming the government for all our problems.

Wars and politics aside, I wonder if we allowed subprime mortgages, Bernie Madoff, predatory lending, and corrupt banks to survive because of 9/11.

The terrorist attacks were a tragedy, to be sure, but a tragedy which ushered back to life an era of fear and suspense, the greatest sales tools known to man. It was a sales opportunity like no other, in that nobody knew what they were afraid of. It was Muslims who carried out the attacks, but there are too many Muslims within our ranks to turn them into enemies. What’s worse, it was too difficult to convince Muslims to disavow their faith. It was easy to fear communists—if one did know of a communist, if you could convince them to wave an American flag and vote in November you’d have a moral victory giving you a sense of safety for a while. We tried to get the Muslims to disavow themselves, but got a resounding “fuck you, we didn’t do it.” Then it was us waspy Americans who were left with a decision—profess our hatred for all Muslims, or decide they weren’t the enemy. Some chose the former, but for the most part, too many Americans had a friend named Ahmed for the culture war to really develop teeth.

So instead, we blamed a lack of privacy. It wasn’t a rational decision, and we didn’t come to that decision ourselves—we were given it, by people who knew how to make privacy profitable. The enemy became anyone and everyone who wanted our information. We guarded our credit cards, stopped answering our phones, and refused to give anyone our social security numbers. We paid for people to purge our names from the internet. We protested social websites who posted our information every time we clicked ‘post.’ We blocked advertising companies and market researchers from finding out where we shopped and what we bought.

For many industries, it was a dream come true. If they could dangle a carrot in front of us just long enough to let them into our lives, they could eat us away from the inside, and nobody would ever find out because we wouldn’t let anyone else in to see what they were doing. Credit card companies started charging enormous rates and fees. Mortgage lenders sold us houses we couldn’t afford. Stock brokers put our money into fake assets, and nobody saw any of it happening because we wouldn’t allow anyone to check them out. The giant corporations actually got us to fight on their behalf, getting us to revolt against any effort to investigate their records, lest some unknown enemy get a hold of the bank account number they set up for you and use it to fly a plane into a building.

That’s my theory, anyway.