Testing Political Ideology

Select SmartI came upon an interesting website, Select Smart. Basically, it has just about every kind of quiz you could imagine. For example, it has the Spiritual Belief System Selector. In twenty questions, it rates you on 27 philosophies and religions. I scored very high in secular humanism, unitary universalism, liberal Quaker, Taoism, and New Age. I scored zero on Eastern Orthodox, Orthodox Judaism, and Roman Catholic. But I managed to get 12% on Islam. I question how accurate it is, but it definitely nailed me on what I matched best.

Select SmartThe reason I found the site was that I was looking for a test for paleoconservatism. The site has a whole bunch of political tests and they all have the same 24 questions. In addition to this test, you can check nine others: paleo-libertarian, conservative, libertarian, neoconservative, centrist, Third Way, liberal, left-libertarian, and radical. On the three libertarian categories, I scored just as I expected: paleo, 33%; normal, 45%; and left, 54%. I got my highest scores on liberal and radical, where I got 79%. (There is a confusing question about a no-fly zone in Iraq that if eliminated would make me score higher on radical and lower on liberal.)

Select SmartWhat’s interesting is not so much the results, but what the writers thought defined the different political ideologies. For example, only the left of the libertarians believed that abortion should be legal at the state level. That isn’t even Roe v Wade territory. And as a former libertarian, it pains me to say, but that’s correct. In general, libertarians — despite all their rhetoric about personal choice and freedom — are anti-choice. Similarly, only the left-libertarians think that the religious right is a threat to civil rights. I suspect that is because most libertarians in the United States are, in fact, conservative Christians.

Select SmartThe most striking thing on the test is the question, “If your state flag included design elements from the Confederate flag, would you prefer to remove those elements?” This is given a negative for paleoconservatism, paleo-libertarianism, and conservatism. I assume this goes along with quite a lot of research. For example, the neoconservative answer is true. In fact, I score higher on neoconservatism than I do on straight conservatism. Neoconservatives are nutty (and ignorant and stupid) when it comes to foreign policy, but they aren’t as crazy when it comes to ordinary domestic policy. I think what has gone on over the last fifty years or so is that the conservative movement has become far more neo-Confederate. It’s a very disturbing development.

Select SmartWhat’s perhaps most interesting in the tests is how centrist and Third Way stack up. They aren’t as close as you would think. And the main way that they are different is that Third Way is much more socially liberal. The centrists are actually closest to the neoconservatives. That means that the Third Way folk are just what I’ve been complaining about for years: economically conservative and socially liberal. They are, in other words, the anti-populists. That’s what makes their claims to be speaking for middle-America so funny. Third Way is the most elitist political movement in the nation. And the best part of that elitism is their absolute conviction that they speak for “the middle.”

Select SmartAnyway, if you aren’t doing anything, you might click over to Select Smart. You can find out your religion, political ideology, personality type — you name it. It’s all nonsense. But it’s fun!

Elizabeth Lauten Forgives Herself — Again

Elizabeth LautenYou’ve probably heard about Elizabeth Lauten, the communications director of Republican Representative Stephen Fincher, who complained that Malia and Sasha Obama weren’t showing “class” while their father presided over the somber tradition of pardoning a turkey for Thanksgiving. After thousands of people on Facebook and Twitter accused her of bullying the First Children, Lauten realized she was wrong. She didn’t put it that way, of course; she said, “After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents and re-reading my words online, I can see more clearly how hurtful my words were.” Does anyone really believe that? I’m sure after the criticisms started coming fast and hard, she spent some time praying. Her Twitter description reads, “Loves GOD, cats & all things pink, green and pearls!” (See the photo!) It is amazing how enlightened all that God-love makes a person.

But I don’t really care. Lauten is yet another in a long line of conservatives who hate all things liberal. Remember when Rush Limbaugh complained about Chelsea Clinton being ugly? Of course, Limbaugh isn’t much of a Christian — if he is one at all. But Ms Lauten is ostentatiously Christian. And yet it didn’t stop her from dumping all over a couple of children just because she doesn’t like the political party of their parents. As I argue around here a lot: American Christianity doesn’t mean much; it’s just tribalism; it is very hard to find any actual theology in it.

What most struck me in Lauten’s little rant is something she has made no further mention of, “Then again your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter…” You’ve got to love this kind of facile disregard of the President and First Lady. How exactly is it that they don’t respect their positions? And the idea that they don’t respect the country is really too vile. Lauten is, after all, a member of the conservative political party. That’s the party of, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” This is the party of, “Love it or leave it!” This is the party of, “Better dead than red!” It reminds me of this David Cross routine:

That’s the thing, right? I discussed it recently, Conservatives Love “America,” Hate America. The conservative love for our country is totally contingent upon the country being a certain way. And this is why they claim that it was totally unacceptable to criticize President Bush even while they claim that Obama is some foreign “other” who hates the country and probably doesn’t even have a Constitutional right to be president. Really, it is all just the fact that conservatives have wrapped themselves in the flag for so long that the rest of us mistake that for patriotism. But the truth is that they love the flag and hate the country. And you can see this in the fact that they are more and more blunt in their love for the Confederacy.

Elizabeth Lauten, of course, is a good Christian who prays and asks her parents for guidance on what she should do when she publicly shames teenage girls for the sin of not being born to Republican parents. But that doesn’t make her different from any other Republican. That just shows that the the whole Christian “family values” routine is just as much of an act as we always thought. But don’t worry about Lauten! Conservative Christians are extremely good at forgiving themselves. For example, Lauten seems to have forgiving herself for the time when she was arrested for shoplifting when she was 17 years old. And she’ll forgive herself for this. What’s more, the Republican Party will forgive her. I’m sure she’ll soon have a good paying job in some other paleoconservative’s office.

Government Savage to Weak and Meek to Powerful

Poor RetireeAs you may have noticed, I’ve been gone all day today. I had to help my father. Last week, his bank told him that the State of California served a tax levy to his bank for almost $3,000 in back taxes for 2010 and 2011. The problem is that my father is on Social Security and doesn’t work. So it seemed unlikely that he could owe any money. After various attempts to use the phone to contact the state, we went to one of their regional offices in Oakland. I figured the problem was that there was something that went on because of the death of his girlfriend at that time or that they got him mixed up with me, because we have the same name.

It turned out that it was much more vague than that. The state seems to have looked at him and decided that he had too high a standard of living for his declared income. And given that my father has a contractor’s license, they figured he must be working under the table. They asked us questions such as, “What is your mortgage?” Well, my father has no mortgage; his house has been paid for for a long time. And they wanted to know how he supported himself. Given that my father is 82-years-old, one would think the answer would be obvious. Anyway, they sent us off the Social Security office to get proof that they really are supporting him. So I’m supposed to put that information together with a cover letter and send it off to them. And then, if we are good little boys, the money they just summarily removed from his account will be returned to him.

California Franchise Tax BoardAll the people that we dealt with today were friendly and efficient. And the whole system was efficient — very much like the DMV were you take a number and wait. It’s amazing, therefore, that a government that could do such a good job of dealing with the needs of its citizens would be so callous as to just take money away from an eighty-something without any due process or even warning. The bank informed my father just two days before the transfer was to be take place (even though it had received the levy 13 days earlier). And the State of California didn’t even send notice of the tax bill until the day before the money was taken; the notice wasn’t received until two days after.

Now it looks like the money will be refunded (although we have no idea how long it will take). But we don’t know why the state decided to take the money out for these two years. My father has been retired for fifteen years. What’s more, we don’t know where they came up with the tax liability. And why didn’t they know that my father was on Social Security? It’s all just terrible. And I wonder what would have happened if my father hadn’t had me to help him navigate this whole thing. It is only when dealing with things like this that I am reminded just how old he is. His level of frustration and confusion is high and quite understandable. In this case, the state seems to be taking the position of, “Woops!” But that doesn’t fly when they are so abusing the old and weak.

The State of California is known for its hardball tactics when dealing with taxes. I understand the situation — the government needs money to do the things that the people demand. But this kind of behavior is a direct result of our governmental system that is so skewed toward the interests of the rich. We can never tax the rich more, because they will use their money to destroy any politicians who counter them. So the state is put in a situation where it is more savage in its attacks on the weakest members of society. We’ve seen the same thing in Ferguson where the poor are being economically bled to provide low taxes for the “job creators.” And there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it.

Penises: Too Small, Too Big, and Just Right

Armored TankI feel the same way about a nine-inch penis that I do an armored tank: They’re nice to look at, but if a guy thinks he’s parking it in my garage, he’s utterly insane. Just because you have the equipment doesn’t mean you necessarily know to operate the machinery, and there’s simply no correlation between a guy’s dick size and performance in bed. A guy with a big penis may be more confident in his sexuality, after a lifetime of having his body affirmed by sexual partners, but that can go one of two ways. Confidence can lead to incredibly sexy sex, but it also could mean that he’s the type of guy who is so “sure what he’s doing” that he ignores communication and physical cues. Guys who haven’t been gifted with a battering ram tend to be more willing to listen and to give—and everyone loves a giver.

In addition, research has shown that while size matters to the receptive partner, it doesn’t necessarily correlate to being more satisfied either in the bedroom or in a relationship. A survey from Kenya showed that women whose partners had large penises were actually more likely to cheat, and a large penis takes so much effort that there are actual guides on how to date a guy who is “too well-endowed.” If “dating is just one big game of penis roulette,” big penises are a special kind of bullet, one that you don’t necessarily want to have to deal with all the time. Frankly, large members entail a kind of preparation and diligence that one simply doesn’t want to give all the time. That’s why instead of a military-grade member, I personally prefer “boyfriend penis,” the kind that’s just right.

Summing up “bigger is better” debate, former Men’s Health Columnist Nicole Beland put it best: “Yes, we care about the size of a man’s penis. But when it comes to sexual satisfaction, it’s pretty far down on our list of priorities.”

—Nico Lang
Seven Biggest Myths About Big Penises

Sarah Silverman

Sarah SilvermanSarah Silverman is 44 years old today. She’s very strange, but I really like that kind of postmodern comedy. But I’ll admit, there are times when her work is more anxiety producing than laughter producing. But I’d rather have that than something boring. Most comedians are boring. The strange thing is that at this point, I know Silverman more from her political videos than I do from her actual stand-up act or her show.

But two years ago, TED Talks decided to book her. Apparently, they did not feel as though their message of pseudo-innovation that absolutely positively cannot offend the power elite was strong enough. So after she performed, doing exactly the sort of thing she’s always done, the group freaked out and for a while didn’t allow the video to be released. Because you know: they needed to drive home their brand as purveyors of pseudo-innovation that absolutely positively cannot offend the power elite. Silverman’s act was, of course, funny as hell:

Happy birthday Sarah Silverman!