In God’s Country

In God’s Country March 21, 2012

“Former Rep. Mark Neumann, R-Wis., has learned the hard way not to bring a pig to a news conference.”

“If God made humans from dust, then why is there still dust?

“And I was still the same person,” Les says. “More so. More like the fun person I remembered from 30-odd years ago,” Scott says.

I hope that by meeting our kids you can understand the pain and anguish you help to cause.”

“The point being, the lesson of the positive skew, is that the distance between being middle class and being poor is very, very small.”

“Where they come from, Romney’s wealth doesn’t need justification. It is the justification.”

“‘These are all men of good repute, with a legacy of service,’ according to Cavendish, the Romneys’ Head of Household Staff.”

“How very kind: To protect poor Americans from being demeaned, Ryan is cutting their anti-poverty programs and using the proceeds to give the wealthiest Americans a six-figure tax cut.”

If they were all part of a religious group that demanded the adorning of the self with orange on the fifth day, they could not have been fired, according to Florida law.”

‘Person.’ ‘Person.’ ‘Corporate Asset.’

“Based on that fog-headed explanation, which not even Cheech could explain to Chong, Smith’s urine should be the first to get screened.”

“It seems almost silly to think that anyone would want to scale back the amount of regulatory control on the safety of medical devices, and a new poll shows that an overwhelming number of Americans believe in strong oversight of these products.”

“It is our responsibility, as always, to protect our patients from things that would harm them. Therefore, as physicians, it is our duty to refuse to perform a medical procedure that is not medically indicated.” (via Geds)

“Most people, faithful or not, do not accept the theology that a woman can have an abortion before she is pregnant.”

“But again, he cited nothing more than his own considerable moral certitude as evidence.”

“If Lawrence O’Donnell Jr. is on this case, then it’s because he’s lived it once before, even though this one is immeasurably worse.”

I hope Fox News is proud of their business model.”

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  • That story about the people who were fired for wearing orange shirts gets incredibly ignorant at the end.

    No, working for a company that does bad things does not make someone an asshole. Not in this work environment. Are you gonna call everyone who works for J.P. Morgan Chase or Bank of America an “asshole”? The tellers, the secretaries, the people who deliver packages? The people who need their jobs to pay the rent and put food on the table and have health insurance? 

    I have to wonder what kind of life someone who does that has lived. How do you go through life in the U.S. without ever working for a company that does things you don’t like? 

  • Yep, people need to eat, and they certainly need to make sure their kids can eat. I’m privileged as shit and even I don’t have the luxury of turning down (or quitting) a job because I don’t like the employer.

    There was a time (I even remember it in my short lifetime!) when I could walk into a fast food restaurant and get hired on the spot. And in that kind of economic situation, maybe you can blame people for working for asshole corporations. (Good luck finding a corporation to work for that’s not in any way an asshole, though.)

  • I think, even in that kind of environment, you couldn’t blame a single mother of four for wanting to keep her job with the assholes. Well, without coming off as an overprivileged douchenozzle. We’d have to guarantee acceptable housing, medical care, schooling through college, and plentiful, nutritious food for everyone before we could even start to go there.

  • Cradicus

    Have these roundup posts always been named after U2 songs? Or is that new?

  • Becca Stareyes

     That story about the people who were fired for wearing orange shirts gets incredibly ignorant at the end.

    I could see it as trying to cut off the ‘just-world’ justification: these people were fired unfairly not because the system is broken, but because they work for an asshole employer.  (Whereas, even if I’m under the same laws, my company is better than that so it would never happen to me.)   Things like that aren’t helpful for actually fixing the system: it shouldn’t matter if you work for ‘Suing Widows and Disabled Vets Ltd.’ or a family-run small business that sells locally-grown organic food in compostable containers — getting fired because you wore an orange shirt isn’t fair, and it isn’t right. 

  • Anonymous

    I posted this on James McGrath’s blog, but there’s enough comments there to bury it, and you guys may as well take advantage of my wisdom (well, Goodin, Healy, Muffles and Dirven’s wisdom really):

     In the little book ‘The Real Worlds of Welfare Capitalism’, which
    studies how people fare through longitudinal data over the decade
    1985-1994 in the USA, the Netherlands and Germany, one of the things
    they look at is the chances of a person from a ‘privileged’ social class
    (white males in the USA) who is well-off at the beginning of the decade
    of being poor by the end of it.

    I don’t remember quite how they defined ‘well-off’, but I believe it was
    around $50k, so about your ‘solidly middle class’ person.  Poverty was
    defined at half the median income, which was about $20k again.(*)

    There was a surprisingly large chance of impoverishment in the USA. I
    think it was around 10%.  That’s a lot higher than things we’d usually
    take care to insure against, like house fires.

    They noted that a common cause for impoverishment was medical costs.

    (For women, the most common cause was divorce)

     (*) prices were adjusted for inflation – not that it’d make that much
    difference, because the median income in the USA hasn’t changed much in
    the last 30 years. 

  • rizzo

    “It was found to be unconstitutional to drug-test elected officials
    because it prevents us, as citizens, from having that First Amendment

    Now, I consider myself a pretty good reader.  Been doing it for like 30 years now pretty much every day.  I have no idea how to parse that sentence though…it’s like someone put a real sentence into Bablefish and changed it to Chinese and then back.  It’s the ‘Jimmy James Superhuman Donkey Puncher’ of political statements. 

  • Guest

    “Therefore, as physicians, it is our duty to refuse to perform a medical procedure that is not medically indicated.”

    So they will stop doing infant genital mutilations then?

  • rizzo

     Fair question indeed.

  • Anonymous

    Or plastic surgery!

    I’m not sure if you’re trying to be cute or not, but I’m not sure how a culturally significant elective cosmetic procedure that any physician can refuse to preform is related to a medically unnecessary, mean-spirited and state-mandated one.

  • JessicaR

    That Ga state rep is why I firmly subscribe to the “Sometimes a raging doucebag is just a raging douchebag” theory. He is not a lost lamb in need of better information and salvation he’s just an asshole who hates women. Gah, this country. I like to travel but I still want to live in the states, it’s just going to get harder to bear as apparently the GOP has declared open season on women.

  • hapax

    getting fired because you wore an orange shirt isn’t fair, and it isn’t right. 

    In this here “land of the free and home of the brave”, children are indoctrinated into accepting that the authorities have the right to dictate what they where, how they speak, how they hold their hands, and similar arbitrary private decisions from an early age.

     Where I live, students are constantly being suspended from the public schools for wearing certain colors, styles, even brands of clothing — because these are “gang symbols”, doncha know.  We gotta protect the chilllld-runn from those EEbul {brown-skinned} gangbangers.

    (There has been exactly one documented case of “gang”-associated violence in the tri-county area in the last ten years.)

    Well, the students DON’T know, because there isn’t a list of prohibited clothing anywhere that I can find.  Such rules are entirely arbitrary, and completely at the discretion of school administrators.

    If government institutions can do it, why are we surprised that private employers do it as well?

  • Male circumcision isn’t merely “cosmetic.” It changes the structure of the penis, removing its protective sheath and lubrication. Fwiw, I’m against it. (And more and more parents are choosing not to do it, thankfully.)

    But I don’t appreciate Guest pulling a “won’t someone think of the menz!” in a discussion of state-mandated rape of women.

  • Emcee, cubed

     Arg arg arg. Stuff to say, but I really don’t want to derail a thread on women’s issues into a topic that only affects men. (Though the OP has a lot of different topics. But still, I agree with Lliira. This isn’t the place.)

  • Anonymous

    Ok, we’ll leave the circumcision thing alone for now then.

  • Kirala

    That Fox News link almost made me sick. How can people be so hateful, vicious, and un-American? (Guilty until proven innocent!)

  •  But I don’t appreciate Guest pulling a “won’t someone think of the menz!” in a discussion of state-mandated rape of women.

    I hate that derail.  As a circumcised male I genuinely do not give a shit about the issue of male infant circumcision.  It hasn’t changed my life in any quantifiable way.  It hasn’t changed any male’s life in any quantifiable way (save the rare case where it leads to an actual mutilation, obviously).

    So anyone who says, “Well what about teh menz?” and bring that up while we’re talking about laws that intentionally take bodily autonomy from women who pretty much are guaranteed to know exactly what they’re doing and why and how it will change their lives in drastic ways if it’s taken away is an overprivileged dingbat engaging in special pleading.  That’s all there is to it.

  • Brandi

    But I don’t appreciate Guest pulling a “won’t someone think of the menz!” in a discussion of state-mandated rape of women.

    Then flag the post and don’t perpetrate the hijack by discussing it.

  • Anonymous

    I think I’m in favour of a universal allowance – a certain amount paid to each individual (no matter what their income and no questions asked) every week or whatever that’s enough to cover modest rent, a reasonable diet, and maybe some pocket-money.

    This would be costly, sure, but there’d be several benefits.  It would reduce inequality (which has many flow-on benefits), substantially reduce poverty (also has many flow-on benefits), and you could take an axe to the welfare administration because it’d become vastly simpler.

    One nice thing about this is that it would actually bring reality closer to the theory stated by free market types when employers coerce their employees into accepting conditions which they shouldn’t have to accept.  Staying at your job really would be closer to a free choice, as no-one nor their families will starve or end up on the streets as a result of this choice.

    Maybe I’m being overly optimistic here, but it could bring about the fantasy promoted by libertarians – firms would actually have to offer decent conditions and fair remuneration, as otherwise they’d go under for lack of employees.

    Don’t bore me too much with the details about how it couldn’t work, because it’ll never happen under anything like the conditions that prevail in most countries today – those in charge will never do anything to shift the balance of power in favour of workers over employers, except maybe in the most minor of ways. (and workers themselves generally seem more upset at the notion that someone might be getting some kind of a break than being dictated to by their bosses)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    You mean cosmetic surgery. Plastic surgery often is medically indicated.

  • If Rep. Neumann wanted to draw attention to pork, perhaps he should have simply displayed a graph of how much pork he voted for.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I really like Richard Beck’s writing, but that particular article bugged me–as do all arguments about income inequality that try to make it about the middle class. Yeah, the middle class are one disaster away from being screwed; that’s pretty tough. But the poor are already currently screwed, you know? Do we have to look at poverty through a middle class lens?

    Disclaimer: I grew up poor, and most of my family that haven’t already died in poverty are still living in it. The wider cultural context we’re in is extremely middle class, so the middle class concerns that we’d love to swap for dominate every political discussion around here at the expense of the concerns of the already poor. I have somewhat of a chip on my shoulder about it (but I guess at least I know it’s there!)

  • Emcee, cubed

    Then flag the post and don’t perpetrate the hijack by discussing it.

    Okay, this is a derail I have no qualms about. In Barrowman’s name, for what possible reason would anyone have to flag the post that started this? It wasn’t evil, it isn’t spam in any sense of the word, it makes a valid point, even if it does move it from a women’s issue to a men’s issue, which, not cool. But as the person hasn’t come back pushed the conversation, they aren’t even a troll. Flagging seems to be your answer to every problematic post, along with the “everyone who makes a post I don’t like is a bot” thing. Stop it. It’s annoying.

  • Eminnith

    In fairness to “Guest,” there are other forms of infant genital mutilation which are performed even in the US – physically intersex children have too often gotten surgery without any of the adults in their lives taking any other options into account.

  • I’m not gonna flag everyone who posts something that bothers me. Flagging is for people who are trolling or abusive, not just for stuff like this. And when I see someone post something that is simply not true about an important issue, yes, I do have the impulse to rebut them, and I’m not going to apologize for that.

  • Male circumcision changes the way the penis functions. In a rather big way. Not on the same level at all as state-mandated, medically unnecessary intrusions into people’s bodies, but then I can’t think of anything else that’s on that level right now. 

  • Anonymous

     Name another body part, where you remove half the skin, and it doesn’t make any difference.
    It has changed your life in very quantifiable ways.  It has made sexual entry more difficult, caused dryness during sex, and left a scar.  For many men, it has led to scarring of the pee hole (meatal stenosis) often requiring surgery, or hidden penis, or skin so tight it tears during erection.
    You can’t do it to a cat, dog, or girl.  Why a boy?  If having a foreskin is so bad or difficult, why do we hear no one complaining about it in Europe, South America, Asia, Australia, and the rest?  They all think Americans are nuts for doing it.  As far as Americans doing it, only 20% of boy babies in Nevada are being circumcised.
    Just because it is functional, doesn’t mean it is optimal.  There is nothing better than the way nature made it. 

  • Anonymous

    Tom, while I agree with you, you are trying to make the conversation all about men. Stop it.

  • Anonymous

    The wider cultural context we’re in is extremely middle class, so the middle class concerns that we’d love to swap for dominate every political discussion around here at the expense of the concerns of the already poor.

    I’m not entirely sold on the distinction between “middle class” and “already poor,” myself. Something like 90% of people in the US consider themselves to be “middle class” — which, IMHO, makes middle class less of an actual economic category and more of a social identity.

    Given that distinction — given that very few people *in* poverty are willing to categorize themselves as poor — I don’t think that it’s politically possible to exclusively address poverty as such, at least through government intervention. Reframing the situation so that ‘middle class’ individuals, particularly lower-middle class individuals, identify with the problems of poverty, is far is more likely to result in success.

  • Hopeless Savage

    I agree, I think that’s what was going on here, perhaps along the lines of “ACLU defending free speech rights of the KKK.” It is also too easy to dismiss this incident by labeling the fired employees as “assholes” because of where they worked. If you want to fight this sort of thing, you have to fight it wherever it happens, not just when the victims are people you like. Mind you, the reverse is also true: even if ‘Rescuing Adorable Kittens* & Finding Homes for Sick Orphans, LLC’ pulled crap like this, we are ethically obliged to call them out on said crap.

    The fact that people have so little choice in where they work nowadays does add an additional layer of urgency to this issue. FWIW, I suspect that point is not lost on the Rude Pundit, even if it did not come up in this post.

    *Though they decided to retain their original name for continuity reasons, RAK&FHSO long ago expanded their business to rescuing felines regardless of age, and stands firm in their belief that “Adorable” is not an exclusionary modifier, but rather a proper descriptor for all cats.

  • Anonymous

    You mean cosmetic surgery. Plastic surgery often is medically indicated

    You’re right, I do mean that.  Thanks for the correction.

  • Eminnith

    If you want to flag a comment, check out the Trayvon Martin thread. Unless the comment gets deleted before you see this, you’ll know which one needs to be flagged before you read past the user’s “name.”

  • Anonymous-Sam

    arcseconds: Have you, by chance, read Robert Heinland’s For Us, the Living? He described an economic system much like that, where every citizen receives what is called an “inheritance check” or some such, covering all their basic needs. This removes the necessity to work to live, turning employment into something you pursue to keep busy or when you want extra spending money. Thus, employers are no longer able to subject people to degrading conditions and must always ensure that there are incentives to enter the workplace. Most people work from home, pursuing some variant of the arts in a system of broadcasts much like podcasts today.

    He never really got into how this would affect the global economy, though, which I don’t think he was counting on in the 1930’s when it was written. Now that nigh-every major corporation straddles the Pacific ocean and the words “American corporation” are a bit of an oxymoron (Yeah, they’re American-based in that our robot arms put the assembled product shipped here from Turkey into a box and we have 35 employees who work around the clock to keep the robots from breaking down) and most of our economy appears to be driven by the fascinating model of negative income (wherein somehow our chief form of income appears to be spending money on foreign commodities), any change to America’s economy is going to have repercussions around the world.

  • Anonymous-Sam

    I think the comment is relevant enough to bear commenting on. It’s one more potentially dangerous, needlessly destructive, undisputably archaic relic of religion that we should get rid of. We’d refined better ways of performing circumcisions as our understanding of surgical operations has become more refined, but that doesn’t change the fact that every year, over a million genital mutilations are performed in the name of what nomadic animal herders were doing 3000 years ago.

    It’s not “all about men.” It’s just that men can be victims too. Chalk it up to one more atrocity religion still visits upon us today — no one, male or female, should have eighty year old virgins critically deciding what should be going on in their pants. “Nothing below the belt” isn’t just a rule of thumb for boxing.

  • Tricksterson

    Not sure but sounds like it might have been based on Milton Friedman’s idea of the Negative Income Tax.

  • Tricksterson

    To wit, in case anyone’s still following this thread and cares about my reply to Anonymous Sam

  • I still find it a little unreal that it was Milton Friedman endorsing that thing, considering his later association with Pinochet’s regime in Chile.