Forgiveness

Forgiveness

When do sins ‘fall off’? This has become a topic of discussion in American politics, with the revelation that the Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, appears in either blackface or KKK robes in his college yearbook; the Lt. Governor, Justin Fairfax, stands accused of the nebulous term ‘sexual assault’ (the one account made fully public sounds a lot like rape, but that’s not the term used anymore, I guess), and Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar continues to support and express antisemitism.

With the exception of Ilhan Omar, who basically continues her antisemitism, can the elected leaders of Virginia be forgiven? Should they?

Let’s do the easy one first, Lt. Gov. Fairfax. He is accused of not only criminal action, but the kind of criminal action we don’t take seriously enough. He continues to deny it, but is being treated as if he is guilty – his firm removed him, and there are calls from his party to step down or face impeachment and removal. Of course, this is being handled far, far differently than the accusations against Justice Kavanaugh, which were far less serious, less provable, and not from his own team.

Almost like the Democratic Party didn’t care at all about the accusations, only the politics of preventing a Trump SCOTUS appointment. But that was obvious at the time.

So, Justin Fairfax should probably resign, and defend the accusations. If they have merit, then he should face consequences for them, if not, the accuser can face their own consequences.

As an aside, those who level false accusations of serious crimes should face the penalty for the crime they faked – their selfish actions only make it harder on the next real victim. And yes, if that penalty is life in prison, then so be it. We would see far fewer fake rapes and hate crimes if you faced actual prison for the accusation.

Anyway, Lt. Governor Fairfax is in a bad spot, and is going to pay a hefty price. But not for his sins – remember, these were reported before he was elected, and they were ignored. So if they are true, his (D) shielded him from the consequences, and the media provided the usual level of cover to keep the story from being spread.

No, in a horribly ironic twist of fate, Justin Fairfax is going to be Ralph Northam’s whipping boy.

So, Governor Northam’s yearbook. Some facts to ponder – that has been ‘out there’ since it happened, and ignored. Of course. See (D) shield above. But when Northam spoke in support of a bill that legalized infanticide, he crossed the line, and the page was leaked to the media. Conservative media. Who spread the hell out of it, and forced the mainstream media to notice.

I won’t say he is racist or segregationist. I don’t know his history. For all I know, this was a theme party, and he was as uncomfortable as the picture makes people today. Who knows. What is known is that he thought it was a good idea to dress in either blackface or a KKK uniform for a party. That is not great judgement.

But it is college, and bad judgement is part and parcel. Should he be run out of public life on a rail because of one event?

Personally, I say no, of course not. That is absurd.

But that isn’t the system we have, is it? In the system we have, which is intended to be used only against certain people of course, that one error should be his end, he should never again be allowed to associate with anyone. His career over, unemployable, and driven from the public square – that is the price demanded by the media and progressives.

Or would be if he was a Republican. Can you imaging the hue and cry if instead of Ralph Northam, it was Mike Pence? Or even Bruce Rauner (former R-ish governor of Illinois)? Of course you can. But that isn’t what Northam is getting, is it?

Or would be if he was a Republican. Can you imaging the hue and cry if instead of Ralph Northam, it was Mike Pence? Or even Bruce Rauner (former R-ish governor of Illinois)? Of course you can. But that isn’t what Northam is getting, is it?

One rule for everyone – this shouldn’t be a far-right paleo-conservative position.

But that doesn’t answer the question, does it? Can there, should there, be forgiveness for past sins.

And yes, the answer is yes. Without the potential for some form of forgiveness or remission of sins, no one is made better – or made whole. Religion knows this, and always has. You have to have a means to repair your transgressions against the God, or why would you not continue to harm the group by sinning? And so it is that you confess, pray, sacrifice, or whatever to regain approval.

In the new religion of Politics, there is no such mechanism, and we are beginning to see the problems that causes.

With his, correct, assumption that there will be no forgiveness for his actions, Northam has taken the only course possible – no retreat, no surrender. And to the people who are offended or hurt by the photo, too bad (I would argue that unless there is personal connection to being harmed by the Klan or similar, your offense shouldn’t matter to anyone else, but that isn’t how this works). It is the right call in this climate. If he resigned, he would face a rough future, and his family might be punished too. In all, sticking it out is his only play.

If we had a forgiveness and redemption mechanism, the answer would be different. Look, he did something offensive and stupid, and had to know it was both offensive and stupid, and he should face some consequences. Should have then too, by the way. There needs to be a way to get past it though – and reading ‘Roots’ isn’t the answer.

I may not know the answer. I think it involves actual work to repair any harm done, and some time out of the spotlight to make the repair work personal, not a show. Then, once there is personal forgiveness (those he wronged forgive him), the society should too – and then he can begin working back to where he was. We shouldn’t brand people to keep their sins always front and center.

Not holding my breath, really.

The Jussie Smollett Saga

The Jussie Smollett Saga

2AM January 29th. Chicago, IL. It is about 6 degrees out. Possibly cooler based on location (the official readings are taken about 15 miles NW of where this story begins).

According to Jussie Smollett, who is on the show ‘Empire’ on Fox (which I have never watched nor been interested in watching, so I had never heard of this guy before this event), he was on the phone with his manager and walking back from Subway when two people accosted him, shouted various racist and anti-homosexual slurs at him, beat him, poured a chemical (often reported as bleach) over him, and tied a noose about his neck, then fled.

This is the kind of horrible crime against someone for unimportant differences that we need to stamp out. This is, and must be, unacceptable in a civilized society.

But did it happen?

(more…)
The Erasure of Monica Rambeau

The Erasure of Monica Rambeau

Who?

Monica Rambeau, the second Captain Marvel, after the death of the Kree Captain Mar-Vell in 1982. Monica took on the name from 1982 to 1996. After her came Genis-Vell (original’s son), Phyla-Vell (daughter), Khn’nr (Skrull), Noh-Varr (for like one storyline), then Carol Danvers in 2012.

2012.

But, I hear you saying, they also erased all the Kree Captains Marvel too! Yes, and when the Kree arrive to complain, it will be interesting times indeed.

The difference between Carol Danvers and Monica Rambeau is pretty black and white really. As in, Danvers is white, Monica Rambeau is black. Which makes for an interesting moment in the culture wars. Since the upcoming movie is getting the same treatment as Black Panther did – the ‘suck it white males, deal with an unapologetically non-white(or non-male in this case) hero!’ Except here, Marvel/Disney decided to wipe out the non-white Monica Rambeau in favor of a white Carol Danvers. Oh, she is apparently given a token cameo moment in the movie (as a child, no less), but this could have been her movie, just as easily as it is Danvers’.

And the backstory works better too:

Monica Rambeau was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to Frank and Maria Rambeau. She was a lieutenant in the New Orleans harbor patrol, and operated as a cargo ship captain. Trying to prevent the creation of a dangerous weapon, Rambeau was exposed to extra-dimensional energy. As a result, she was thereafter able to convert her body to energy. After this event, the media dubbed her “Captain Marvel”. She decided to use her powers to fight crime under that name, but was later told by Ben Grimm that the name had originally been used by the late Kree hero Mar-Vell. Grimm assured her that “Marv wouldn’t mind. I probably ain’t the only ‘Thing’ in the world either.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_Rambeau#Origin

Hell, she even led the Avengers (which, I know, wouldn’t exist in the MCU at that time), something no other Captain Marvel has managed to do. And Disney reduced her to a child.

So, I guess, under the current rules, that means supporting the Captain Marvel movie means supporting the erasure by whitewash of Monica Rambeau, a black woman who was Captain Marvel for 14 years. Longer than anyone else, including the original.

At least they didn’t release it during Black History Month…


And when I went to verify the release date, I was stunned to find Google doing this to Samuel L Jackson…wow. It must have come from their Virginia servers…

 02/07/19 at 11:05 AM CST of the Google information about Captain Marvel, showing them truncating Samuel L Jackson's name to 'Sam'
Rushing To Condemn

Rushing To Condemn

I stayed off Twitter on Sunday. Less as an intentional action, and more as I just didn’t check it because I didn’t think about it.

So this morning, when I saw the counter of unread posts, I knew one of two things had happened – either William Shatner (@williamshatner) had been really bored, or an outrage mob had formed, and I missed the endless ‘wait for all the facts’ posts. And the self-congratulatory ‘I waited’ posts.

It was the latter.

Honestly, the original story no longer matters. We had the usual arc – thing happens; is wildly misreported (usually that means ‘the opposite of the truth is reported’); people overreact (including calls for violence against the assumed perpetrators); so-called calmer heads call for not violence, but public shaming and endless apology-making with a side of ‘ruin their lives/fire them/expel them’; real story comes out; the rabid hate contingent vanishes; the rest try to pretend they didn’t call for a life to be destroyed; the media pretends they will do better next time.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

With the media firmly on one side of the political spectrum, we can imagine who the players are, and how Twitter didn’t respond. It is a bit sickening, frankly.

I won’t bother adding the ‘gee, this is why you never trust Twitter / media reports for at least 24 hours’ bit – it’s obvious and overdone. I do wish we would learn from that at some point though.

What makes this worse is that the same people being wrong on events a staggering amount of the time insist that any call for them to actually get facts before abandoning the principles of journalism is going to destroy the nation. Amazingly, it won’t. Their insistence on putting their personal partisan political agenda in front of the facts just might.

It’s Not Fandom That’s Toxic

It’s Not Fandom That’s Toxic

There has been a lot of pixels spent explaining to all and sundry that geek culture, such as it is, is ‘toxic’. Or that elements of it are. And this is often accompanied with a certain level of finger pointing, self-flagellation, and promises to be better. I even wrote about it in the wake of Kelly Marie Tran’s leaving of Instagram over this toxic culture.

But it hit me last night that it isn’t geek culture that’s toxic. Or, that isn’t a feature exclusive to geek culture.

It’s all of it. The whole damn culture is toxic. There isn’t one area that we can avoid the contamination, not one safe space in the culture as a whole. I look around, and I see the commercials with lines like ‘get the rewards you deserve’, and it all becomes clear.

We, as a whole, got used to the idea that we exist to be pandered to. From credit cards telling us to ‘get the rewards we deserve’ to mortgage providers selling instant approval (or declination, but let’s not mention that) to apps that forward portions of your check so you don’t have to learn to budget. All of these are symptoms of a culture that is poised to devour itself.

I look at these things, and all I see is a desire to be rewarded for doing things that are not reward-worthy, and a deeper desire for immediate gratification regardless of cost. We are told we ‘deserve’ a reward for using this or that credit card. The reward is they let you buy something you actually can’t afford, and you pay them for the privilege. You don’t deserve rewards for that. We are constantly bombarded with the word ‘deserve’. We deserve service, cash back, to be first, to be exclusive, to be young, to have all the things. We don’t, actually. We deserve to be allowed to live our lives as we see fit without being forced to comply with someone else’s beliefs. We deserve the right to pursue happiness, so long as that pursuit doesn’t infringe upon another’s pursuit of the same. We deserve the right to life. We deserve equality of opportunity (equality of outcome is amongst the vilest of evils, and we never deserve that). We deserve only what can be said to be deserved by all, at birth, regardless of station. Double cash back isn’t on that list.

Shutdown Theater

Shutdown Theater

Without going into causes, the government shutdown has been a fascinating example of why we need to reform the system, possibly by firing with prejudice everyone in the current system.

First, if the essential functions of government can continue with around 380,000 workers (out of about 2.1 million total federal employees) laid off, then are those jobs really needed? It would seem that is a legitimate question, and one that supervisors and agency heads should be asking. As we increase automation, and see more and more jobs at risk because a machine can do it faster, longer, and more accurately, there is no reason to assume federal workers are somehow supposed to be exempt from that risk. I understand that new craft beer labels need approving, I just wonder at the necessity of all 380,000 furloughed positions.

Second, when it comes to the 400,000 or so workers who are not being paid, that needs to be fixed. Yes, keep the non-essential workers on furlough (and again, review their actual necessity), but pay the workers who are on the job. To do otherwise is un-American. To compound the issue, we are paying Congress, who is not addressing the issues at the root of the shutdown. If we can’t pay the workforce, we shouldn’t pay the people responsible for the problem either (President Trump doesn’t, by his own choice, draw a federal paycheck). Out of 20 Illinois Congressional members (18 in the House, 2 in the Senate), only one is refusing to be paid during the shutdown; Brad Schneider (D) of the 10th District. One. To be fair, of the 535 members of Congress, about 70 are refusing or donating their checks to charity. Pay the people working. Seriously.

But back to the first point. Do we really need these people? Does the IRS really need 36,000 people to handle refunds? Especially as more are filed electronically each year? Last year, according to eFile.com, 135,883,000 returns were processed, 126,040,000 of those electronically. That is 92% of all returns! People don’t need to handle those – they can be processed completely electronically. Yes, if a flag is triggered, then a human needs to review it, and yes, that leaves 15,491,000 returns to process by hand (while 135.8M were processed in 2018, 141.5M were sent in). I suspect there are scanners available to speed that up.

Of course, it is the government, and efficiency is not prized.

But it needs to be. The bloating of the bureaucracy continues to be an issue, and we, the people who have to deal with this bloat in so very many ways, need to rise up and say ‘enough’. If a functioning government exists without 380,000 employees present, then those 380,000 employees are probably not needed. At all. They should have their positions reviewed, and if they are not necessary (and we should be very narrow in what is ‘necessary’), then they should be let go. Full stop. With a reported average salary in 2014 of $84,153 (before benefits are applied), cutting loose those 380,000 would save the taxpayers $31,978,140,000 per year ($45,574,920,000 with benefits). How much more could $45 billion do injected into the US economy?

So, Congress, pay the people working, look seriously into firing the ones not, and stop paying yourselves first. You are supposed to be servants, not self-aggrandizing masters. Get it right for a change.