GOP Continues to Play Games With Debt Ceiling

John BoehnerIn the Talking Heads song Once in a Lifetime, David Byrne repeats the line, “Same as it ever was.” That’s what I think of the upcoming debt ceiling showdown. I can’t find it, but there is a quote from some Republican in the House saying that he was going to use the debt ceiling to get what he wants because (this is a paraphrase), “You aren’t certain if I’m crazy enough to do it, but I know you aren’t.” It was clearly said with that typical, friendly unhinged tone that the true believers use thinking they are charming. All it really shows is that they don’t take their jobs seriously and think it is all a game.

Over the weekend, I learned from Jim Newell that the debt ceiling will not be reached on 3 November. What’s more, according to John Boehner and Paul Ryan, there are not enough votes in the House to pass a clean debt ceiling increase. In order to pass such a bill, the House would need 218 votes (assuming everyone voted). There are 188 Democrats in the house. Thus, there would need to be 30 Republicans voting for it — just 12% of their caucus. If we are to believe this, 90% of the House Republicans think that destroying the world economy is perfectly fine.

Supposedly, a deal will be announced tonight that will set the budget and raise the ceiling until the next president is in office.

Of course, it is not true that there are fewer than 30 House Republicans who will vote to raise the debt ceiling. Boehner is using an invalid calculus. He takes the number of Republicans who voted for the last increase — there were 28 — and removes the third who are no longer in office. The truth is that the number of people who voted for it last time was the number of people who needed to vote for it. The rest of them just did what comes naturally: grandstand. It is certain that the vast majority of the House Republicans will take this vote if it is absolutely necessary.

And sure enough, The Hill reported this morning, White House, GOP Near Two-Year Budget Deal. Supposedly, a deal will be announced tonight that will set the budget and raise the ceiling until the next president is in office. The budget is supposed to roll back some of the sequester, so that’s a good thing. In fact, it is such a good thing that I find it hard to believe. But it is indicative of the fact that the House Republicans can do anything it wants to. There may be roughly 50 crazies in their caucus, but the power is still with the Republicans who are awful but not crazy.

What the whole “We don’t have the votes!” shows is that the Republican establishment is still committed to hostage taking. I suppose we can take some solace from the fact that they are not crazy. But they still wish to play dangerous games. And that might be okay if they were smart. But the fact remains that crazy or not, the House Republicans have not shown themselves to be competent at their jobs — much less clever — not to mention brilliant. If there is a deal in the works, it is a very good sign. But we can’t depend upon anything until Obama signs it into law. And then we have to wait for the next time the Republicans play this game.

The Sad World of Men’s Rights

The Red PillI found a really disturbing article by David Futrelle at We Hunt the Mammoth, “Women Don’t Need Good Chord Progressions,” and Other Ways the Ladies Are Destroying Culture by Being Ladies. But it is only disturbing because I’ve been largely unaware of things like Men’s Rights and so on. The article itself is funny as hell. You should read it.

It is based on a post in The Red Pill subreddit. It’s description is, “Discussion of sexual strategy in a culture increasingly lacking a positive identity for men.” I have a problem with “sexual strategy,” of course. I don’t know what’s wrong with these guys. Getting a girlfriend is not hard. Here is the proven two step process: (1) don’t be a jerk; (2) repeat until successful. I know a lot “sensitive” guys think it is their very niceness that stops them from getting a girlfriend. Generally, I’ve found that the sensitive set is often as bad as the cavemen. Romance is a negotiation. Guys who complain about the lack of a girlfriend are impatient.

“Discussion of sexual strategy in a culture increasingly lacking a positive identity for men.” —The Red Pill

To give you some idea of what “sexual strategy” means in practice, the top article right now is, “HumanSockPuppet’s Guide to Managing Your Bitches.” That may well be meant as a joke, but I doubt it. Certainly the commenters on the post don’t think it is a joke. It has such great advice as the necessity of being comfortable bossing your “girl” around. I’ve noticed that the word “comfortable” comes up a lot in other articles. It seems to be a kind of dog whistle. It means roughly not caring what others think of you. This is shockingly like libertarian thinking, where our genuine selves can be found in the distant past before it got spoiled by all this civilization nonsense.

The second part of that description of The Red Pill I have no problem with. Men in our society do suffer from a lack of a positive identity. But their idea is that men should turn into some kind of tired cliche: Don Juan but without the requisite love of women. Again: we get to this fantasy past that is devoid of any nuance, and is ahistorical if you take the broad view. Regardless, the way these guys want to treat women would seem to eliminate the possibility of having the kinds of relationships that they claim to want. The process seems to be: (1) “Girls don’t like me because I’m too nice”; (2) “I’ll be a jerk and then girls will like me.” And all they have to do is be “comfortable” being a jerk!

The article that Futrelle highlights is by a user named TheeRyanGrey, “The Men of Reddit(And America) are terrified to admit women have ruined their favorite activities.” His concern is that women have ruined things men like by dumbing them down. You see girls like to be entertained and men like… Actually, I don’t know. He doesn’t like romantic subplots in films. He doesn’t like “up close and personal” segments in his sports. I suspect that he has really bad taste in everything, but what do I know? I’m one of those weak men who manage to attract women without ever needing a guide on how to manage my bitches.

The funniest part of the whole thing came when TheeRyanGrey talked about music. On his profile, he claims to be a rapper, but he complained that music has become too repetitive. But here’s the best part of Futrelle’s take-down:

And it gets worse:

Women don’t need good chord progression, lyrics that exalt a virtue or dig deep into the cultural zeitgiest, they just want a fun beat that makes them feel good.

Screw you ladies, and your terrible chord progressions! I mean, I’ve seen it a million times. Some dude comes up and he’s all

E – B – C#m – A

And the lady is all, nuh-uh!

C – B – F

And you’re like, what the hell is this bullshit!

TheeRyanGrey then goes on to make a racist statement, “I know an Asian that’s tall and has a big dick, are we gonna just assume that’s the average? Grow up.” It’s funny that he would use “Asian” and not “Oriental.” But whatever. I doubt that many people on The Red Pill know too much about history and words and things. I mean, managing your bitches is a very time consuming activity!

Humans are at their worst when they fence themselves off in a world of their own bigotry. As bad as TheeRyanGrey is, the comments are worse. They show an even more primitive understanding of humanity. Women are supposed to be “helpers” and “supporters.” The whole thing should be called, “Atlas Won’t Shrug.” And it turns out that the whole Men’s Rights movement is big on rape apologetics. Ayn Rand would have loved this stuff! Normal women, not really.

Morning Music: Mariem Hassan

Shouka - Mariem HassanSince I wrote my last post, my boss has flooded me with more music. She moved out of Africa and into Asia. But we are going to stay in Africa for now. (She also said that I make her sound much more interesting than she is. But then, she would, wouldn’t she?)

Today we have Mariem Hassan. She was born in what was then Spanish Sahara — part of Morocco now. She just died a couple months ago. She had bone cancer. It’s very sad. She was only 57. Regardless, her music is very beautiful. In addition to being a singer, she was a lyricist. And she was also quite political and wrote a lot about female empowerment. Or so I’m told. She generally sang in Arabic, and when she didn’t, she was singing in another language I don’t know.

The following is “Haiyu” off her 2010 album, Shouka. It is gourgeous and upbeat — I’ve been led to believe that the lyrics are similarly sunny. I believe it is an old folk song that she updated.

Anniversary Post: Gunfight at the OK Corral

Tombstone 1891On this day in 1881, the Gunfight at the OK Corral occurred. It’s famous because it has been mythologized. It didn’t become a thing until Stuart Lake’s 1931 fictional biography, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal. This led directly to a number of films, ultimately, Gunfight at the OK Corral, which solidified the name, even though it didn’t take place at the OK Corral.

It’s also famous because things like that didn’t much happen: a group of guys facing off against each other and just firing. The whole thing took 30 second during which time about 30 shots were fired. I assume it had more to do with panic than anything else. The same thing happens to nervous police officers all the time.

Basically, the whole thing was just a conflict between rival gangs. The Earps might have had the cover of law. But when Morgan Earp was killed, Wyatt took out a personal vendetta when the legal system didn’t provide him with the justice that he considered his. I don’t bring it up because I think that Wyatt Earp was an especially horrible man. It’s just that, as usual, history is written by the winners.