Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

Scandals, Ethics, and Congresscritters: Why aren't we just impeaching everyone already?

I happened to catch CNN today just as David Nunes was refusing to recuse himself from the Russia probe.

Three things occurred to me.

1. The business ethics "training" I've had at my day job isn't all that great. But hot damn, it makes pretty clear what a conflict of interest is, and also makes it absolutely clear that a perceived conflict of interest can be as bad or worse than an actual one.  One would hope that a Congressperson leading a committee looking into wrongdoing would have better training in business ethics than me.

2. In eight years, Obama had relatively few scandals - and the ones there were (such as the "Fast & Furious" and "IRS targeting" scandals) were not ethics ones involving the actual administration. 1  While Brietbart claims that there were 18 scandals, they're including stimulus spending as a scandal as a "waste of taxpayer money". At this point, I'm hard pressed to think of a member of Trump's cabinet or inner circle that doesn't have some kind of scandal - or sheer incompetence - attached to them.  And if you're going by Brietbart's standard of "waste of taxpayer money" being a scandal, Trump's weekly golfing trips to his own resort are each and every one a scandal.

3. How long are we going to wait before calling for impeachment? How much evidence do we really need of Trump's collusion with Putin?  How many times are we really going to sit there and be outright lied to when there's literally video evidence of the lies?

Look, I know how it feels when the person you supported doesn't live up to your expectations. As much as I approved of Obama as a president, there were a good number of times that he did things I highly disapproved of.  (Drone strikes, anyone?) The temptation to circle the wagons is high. 
Maybe it's because I grew up at the end of the Cold War, but I'm really having a hard time with understanding how conservatives are okay with these ties to a foreign government - and especially when it's Russia.

It's only been a few months, and every time you turn around there's another person associated with Trump who has connections (and has lied about them - Sen. Sessions, I'm looking at you) with Russia.

Impeach the motherfucker already.

1If you're going to say "Benghazi" at me, there was no evidence of Clinton being culpable or did anything wrong. Others did, but not people in the Cabinet.

Right-wingers want to share their views - but not be associated with those who have the same views

The right-wing attempts to suppress views they don't like isn't just being done by shutting down talk show hosts

It's also being done on college campuses in a stunningly hypocritical fashion.

You've probably heard rumblings about this, but it's hard to actually see examples of how the right-wing wants to control speech.  But this exchange happened online, showing exactly how hypocritical the arguments are, and how they're clumsily trying to use the same tools we've used to protect minorities.

Here's what happened first:  A college student said she's afraid of being stereotyped because she's a Republican in college.

...which already should have you scratching your head. "I'm afraid of being labeled as or associated with other people who have the same views I do when I speak about my views" is a tortured bit of logic.

My pal Patrick Tomlinson pointed out that our LGBT friends are genuinely afraid of being murdered.

And another student (at least, she is according to the "Daily Caller") says that fearing being murdered is a "personal problem".

My Patrick Tomlinson ripped into them at that point

It's arguable that Patrick was rude to these two self-labeled conservatives.

But we're seeing a huge metric ass-ton of hypocrisy here, and in an attempt to make it so these conservatives don't feel judged for... well, doing things like calling fearing murder a "personal problem".

Oh, and to just answer their later claim that one shouldn't feel "threatened by an opposing viewpoint", it's not the viewpoint that's threatening, it's the real-world violence that's on the rise.

Here's a quick factchecking note: Hate crimes are up by a 20% - 50% in the United States.  Source, source, source, source.  You can find more - this was just what was on the front page when I did a web search.

Oh, and then there's also this kind of relevant article:

L.G.B.T. People Are More Likely to Be Targets of Hate Crimes Than Any Other Minority Group 

This would have disappeared into the wilds of Twitter except that the Daily Caller decided to make a stink about it. (If you're not familiar with this "news" site, Ann Coulter is a columnist for them, which probably tells you all you need to know.)

This whole exchange is important, because it shows the kind of argument that conservatives are using to silence others by misusing the protections designed for minority groups.  Luckily, the "logic" here falls apart pretty quickly if you restate it clearly.

So let's summarize this again.

When told that people are genuinely (and legitimately) afraid of being murdered because of certain views, these two self-described conservatives say it's a "personal problem".

And then the students, the Daily Caller, and a bunch of commenters proceed to be super upset that a guy on Twitter called them names.

The hypocrisy is not just that they're ignoring the hate crimes and real world violence to LGBT people (and all sorts of minorities).

They're also ignoring the Bill of Rights.  It guarantees you the right to free speech. You do not have a guarantee that nobody will be upset by what you say.

Perhaps those students - along with the Daily Caller - should go back to their high school civics class.

Should I Tell A Woman To Smile? #WhyIsThisStillBeingDone

I'm surprised this still needs to be explained, but judging from certain events and some of the comments on the Facebook post, it does.

Are you thinking of telling a woman to smile, or that she's prettier when she smiles? I've saved this Google search for your reference.

I mean, literally the entire first page of results for that question is "DON'T DO THAT."

Telling a woman to smile - especially if you tell her to smile because it makes her prettier - is a good way to tell everyone around you that you're a sexist asshat.

You're not a sexist asshat?  


The thing here is where you're dictating to someone else how they're supposed to present for your pleasure. 

If you're actually concerned about their well being, you'd ask if anything was wrong and if they wanted to talk about it.

If you like the women around you being happy, then do some shit that makes them happy and treat them like real people instead of objects.

Yes, I realize that people with good intentions have done this without realizing how much they seemed like a sexist jackass.  Here's what those people should do:



And the winner for actually being special snowflakes goes to....

By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Psychological projection is a psychological theory where people defend against their own impulses or qualities by denying that they have them while saying - usually quite loudly - that other people have those impulses or qualities. 

For decades now, the political right has tried to sell us the idea that being polite (you know, "political correctness") is the same as intolerance. They've tried to peddle the craptastic idea that you have to agree with someone in order to be respectful to them. They've claimed that if you don't spout the SJW line, you'll be pilloried.  (Though that didn't happen to me...)

And now we've had some pretty clear evidence that those claims are little more than psychological projection and what the far-right wing has wanted to do all along.

Take Tomi Lahren.  If you're not a right-wing watcher, you might still remember her from being on the Daily Show back in November

She's back in the news.  Tomi Lahren, when on the View, said:
I'm someone that is for limited government, so I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government, but I think that the government should decide what women do with their bodies.  Stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well.
This is important, because Ms. Lahren's point is completely internally consistent.  She's a small-government conservative (and one I disagree with on a lot of issues), who is following her libertarian ideals.  You'd think this would play well with the "small government" crowd that runs the Blaze network and currently holds political power.

But that's not the case.  Because consistently saying that government shouldn't interfere in aspects of a citizen's life means that other people might choose an abortion. And therefore, even though she didn't actually say "I think abortions are swell", she's being treated as though she has.

Look, the lack of consistency is disappointing, though predictable. I could have told her that "small government" didn't mean "reproductive freedom", just like "small government" has never meant "small military" or "small police" or "small anything that the GOP wants". 

The myth of "small government" is a lie the far right wing has been selling.

More important, though, is the message here for other conservatives and libertarians.  Not just from Beck (so much for finding commonalities, huh?), but from other "conservative" powerhouses.

Because for the longest time, we've been told that the GOP and the right-wing is a "big tent" and welcomes those who want liberty (and specifically, libertarians).  The right has tried to tell you that everyone else can't handle freedom and differences in views and opinions.

But their actions tell us a new message.

The message is this:

There is no more big tent.  There is no more commonality.  The only - only - thing that is acceptable any more is toeing the party line.  On every single point.  Parrot the party line or be silenced.

You tell me - does that sound like America?

Brain Weasels: Jargon That Does Double Duty

There's a lot of jargon out there in relationship-land, but my absolute favorite has to be brain weasels.

The term itself is needed. It describes a specific group of feelings or reactions that aren't always grouped together. By grouping them together in this particular way, it's easier to identify the root causes of the reaction or feeling and address it directly.

Second:  It serves as a kind of safeword.

A safeword is "a word serving as a prearranged and unambiguous signal to end an activity".  The activity here are the negative feelings and reactions.  And by being a prearranged label, it can cut through whatever drama is going on in the moment and invoke that calmer time. It's a way of bringing someone out of their emotional fugue and back to clarity for a moment.

And it does all that without (linguistically) laying blame.  

Brain weasels, linguistically, are their own entities.  By naming them as something other than your sweetie, you've managed to address the problematic behavior without actually blaming the person. This allows the person doing the behavior to address the behavior themselves without having to worry about defending their ego.