Fuck Mel Hall, Chapter 4: Never Mind, Fuck Everybody

There was another anti-Jackie Walorski flyer, paid for by the Indiana Democratic Party, in my mailbox when I got home this afternoon. Once again, the flyer makes no mention of who the flyer-ers think you should vote for, only that you should not vote for Jackie Walorski.  Now, the last time this happened, I was kind of wondering just how much Hall’s people had had to do with it, since he was never mentioned.  Well, his radio ads are all about “Washington Walorski,” so even in his own stuff for his campaign he can’t avoid using Republican frames.  I’m not going to bother talking about the entire flyer.  Let’s just talk about this part of it:

 

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This is a photoshopped image.  It was photoshopped by an asshole at the behest of another asshole.

The general theme of the ad is that Walorski voted for the tax bill without knowing what was in it, so she’s “voting blindly.”  Get it?  She’s covering her face?  Or at least someone’s manly hands have been photoshopped over her face?  It’s the exact same hand in a different image on the other side, so this isn’t even a good photoshop, and don’t think that I haven’t noticed that it appears to be a man’s hand they used– rumors about Walorski’s sexuality (she’s married, to a man) have been floating around for literally as long as she’s been in office.

And then there’s that fucking gesture again.

Let me be one hundred percent clear:  that image is photoshopped.  It is not real.  Even if it is an actual image of her using that gesture and only the right arm is added on, it’s still a photoshopped image and therefore by definition the entire thing is suspect.  Which means one of two things:

  • That somebody affiliated with the Indiana Democratic Party deliberately decided to use an image of Jackie Walorski making a white power gesture in an ad and then not call attention to it, basically just doing it as a dogwhistle to both white supremacists and antiracist leftists; or
  • That they were unaware of what they were doing.  In September of 2018, just a couple of weeks (how the fucking hell has it only been a couple of weeks??) after Brett Kavanaugh’s asshole assistant caused a rather substantial brouhaha by making the same gesture behind him at his confirmation hearing.

One of these possibilities is disgustingly cynical at best and actively slanderous at worst.  The other possibility is proof of utter fucking incompetence.  And neither of them are fucking okay.  I hate these people.  I hate this fucking election, and I hate the fact that I’ve now had to spend two fucking posts defending Jackie Fucking Walorski, who is also an asshole, but who still doesn’t deserve this shit.

A pox on the lot of these fuckers.

 

Fuck Mel Hall, part 3 of an endless series

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You may recall parts one and two of a series that wasn’t originally called “Fuck Mel Hall,” but to hell with it, this is my blog and I get to rename stuff if I want to, plus: fuck Mel Hall.  Mel, if you’re not aware, is one of two Republicans who is running for my district’s House seat, IN-02.  The incumbent, Jackie Walorski, is a Republican who says she is a Republican.  Mr. Hall, who received barely 40% of the vote in the primary, somehow is the Democratic nominee, but is not a Democrat.  He has made it repeatedly clear that he has no interest whatsoever in advancing the goals of the Democratic party and has never identified himself as a member of the party in any advertisement– radio, TV or print– that I have ever seen.

I will not be voting for him.  I think he’s a prick.  I vote for Democrats; he isn’t one.  If I’m going to be represented by a Republican I want to be represented by one who is honest about it.

Now, an interesting fact about Ms. Walorski:  she only got about 3/4 of the vote in her primary, and the person she was running against literally had no campaign at all.  Not a website, did no campaigning, nothing.  But he was a dude, so 25% of the Republican primary voters voted for someone who they literally knew nothing at all about other than that he had a penis and their current representative didn’t.  Mel Hall supposedly got 40% of the vote in the Democratic primary; the other two candidates running were significantly more progressive than he was and he has continued to run as a Republican anyway.  I pay attention; there was no enthusiasm for this man anywhere during the primary and the lack of enthusiasm remains today.  He will lose and lose badly.

Anyway, take a look at that flyer up there.  My wife got one; I didn’t.  That’s unusual– neither of us ever miss an election, so generally whenever we get any election-related flyers, we get two of them.

Take a close look and see if you can figure out what’s going on here.

Also: be aware that an election cycle or two ago, faced with no significant races in the Democratic primary, my wife cast a vote for the least objectionable candidate in the Republican primary.  All you have to do in Indiana is ask for a ballot and they give you one.

This flyer, paid for by the Indiana Democratic party, appears to be trying to peel Republican voters away from Jackie Walorski, but never once mentions who they ought to vote for instead.  The entire damn flyer is Republican-framed: Democrats tend to believe government is actually good for something, so the bullshit “Washington Walorski” nonsense isn’t really going to get any traction with us.  I want my representatives to be experienced and good at their jobs, goddammit, and Walorski has been in office for six years, not thirty.  I don’t even like her and I recognize a bullshit attack when I see it.  Another tell?  Every person in the ad is white.  Democrats don’t send out ads like that.  Republicans, who know good and fucking well that their base mostly doesn’t see people of color as human beings, do.  And apparently we’re not above buying into their racist asshole framing if we think it’ll get, well, somebody some votes.

Fuck every single thing about this flyer, in case that isn’t clear.  Fuck the cynicism embedded in it, fuck the racism, fuck the sexism, fuck the candidate that it doesn’t bother to mention, fuck the bullshit nickname, which comes from the same asshole impulses that led the Republicans to call Joe Donnelly “Mexico Joe” in some of their bullshit ads, fuck every single thing about it.

I need better fucking representation around here, across the goddamned board.

In which I give this more attention than it deserves

DmR4hllU8AIQdfa.jpg-large.jpegLet’s talk about this asshole for a second, and the shape her hand’s making.  Would I rather be talking about something else?  Yeah, probably.  Should this be a series of Twitter posts and not a blog post?  Well, maybe.  Am I still sick, and is this what I’ve come up with for tonight?  Yeah.  It’s my blog, so if I wanna waste time on nonsense I can.

The following things can all be true at the same time, and the majority of them are undeniable fact:

  • The woman making the gesture in the picture is of Mexican and Jewish heritage, which would make one think she, generally speaking, is rather unlikely to be a white supremacist;
  • but she still works for Brett Kavanaugh, so in this particular case “she can’t possibly think that because of her racial background” is, shall we say, somewhat less sound reasoning than it might otherwise be;
  • One can be Latinx and white at the same time!  The identities can overlap!  You can absolutely be Mexican, white, and a white supremacist at the same time.
  • You can also be Jewish and a white supremacist!  Ever heard of Jared Kushner, son in law to the person in the White House?  Hitler his fucking self was a quarter Jewish, for God’s sake.
  • I know how photographs work, and I know that sitting in one seat for hours with cameras trained in your general vicinity can lead to all sorts of ridiculousness.  It is entirely possible that she’s popping a zit in this picture.
  • 4chan originated the idea that this gesture meant “white power” as a troll move a couple of years ago;
  • but since then it has started to be used by actual, non-ironic white supremacists;
  • and part of the point is that it, as a fairly common gesture, will always be deniable.  That you will always be able to find pictures of, oh, Barack Obama making the same hand gesture and point at it and go “See!” and you can always make anyone making an issue of the white supremacist flashing white supremacist hand signs look foolish, by laying out the precise chain of reasoning I’ve set out above.  That’s.  The.  Fucking.  Point.  

So: Do I think that Brett Kavanaugh has white supremacists working for him, and do I believe that Kavanaugh himself may be one?  Absolutely.  100%.

Do I believe that this woman is, herself, a white supremacist?  Except insofar as it would not surprise me for any member of Kavanaugh’s staff to be one, I had never heard of this lady yesterday and will have forgotten about her tomorrow.  So maybe!  Maybe not!  I dunno.

Did this woman deliberately decide to take the time out of the however-long-she-had-to-sit-there to randomly and quietly flash a white supremacist hand sign at the cameras?  Ehh.  Try as hard as I might, I can’t figure out what the point might have been of doing something like that, and, importantly: it doesn’t really fucking matter, because they’re about to steal another fucking Supreme Court seat.  

The end.  I’m going to bed.

#REVIEW: THE POPPY WAR, by R.F. Kuang

The-Poppy-WarI will say this about R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War, and that will probably be enough to make it clear how much I enjoyed it without the distraction of the rest of this post: I lost quite a bit of sleep over this book.  I read it in a couple of big gulps over a few days, and both nights I was reading it I was up much later than I wanted to be because I couldn’t put the damn book down.  I was even carrying it around with me in the house and reading the occasional chapter or few pages whenever I had a chance to during the day.  A huge percentage of my book-reading is done in bed nowadays, so if I’m setting aside time I could be spending doing something else during my limited free daylight time it’s a really impressive sign.

Early on while reading it I described it to my wife as “Harry Potter, only in sort-of-China, and the main character is Hermione instead of Harry.”  It does start off very much in that vein, almost a YA-ish format, right down to the character’s Big Bully Enemy being identified right away.  That’s only about the first 20-30% of the book, though, at which point the nation goes to war (the school the main character, Rin, attends is a military academy) and all fucking hell breaks loose.  This book lulls you in, see, and makes you think you’re in a comfortable, recognizable sort of narrative only with some East Asian cultural influences thrown in instead of Hogwarts’ staid Britishness and some occasional swearing, but once it goes off the track it goes off the track hard, and once it starts surprising you it never really stops.

Hermione was super-dedicated to her schooling, right?  Did she take medicine to burn out her own uterus so that she wouldn’t have menstruation distracting her from her studies, thus rendering her permanently infertile?  Hermione ain’t shit, then.  And once their country is invaded, genocide becomes a major theme of the book.  I don’t remember anything about genocide in the Harry Potter books.

I’m going to spare you much of a plot summary, because you deserve to see the twists and turns as the story unfolds, but be warned that R.F. Kuang does not hold back.  Once the war starts there are some scenes in this book that would have made Genghis Khan himself think man, they’re going a bit too far with this.  Oh, and drug abuse.  Lots of drug abuse.

Seriously: this is not a book for the faint-hearted, but if you aren’t too bothered by profanity and hyperviolence and drugs in what, again, starts out feeling like a slightly more grown-up version of a kids’ series, you’re going to love it.  This is definitely the first book of a series, at least a duology– and I can’t wait for the next book in the series.


That said.

(Some spoilers after this part, but I think you want to read it anyway.)

I did the thing I usually do when I really like or really hate a book and went to read a bunch of Goodreads reviews once I was finished with it.  I generally start with the bad ones; they’re more fun.  The Poppy War does not have a lot of bad reviews, but one of the one-star reviews described the book as “super-duper racist,” or something along those lines.  I blinked a couple of times at that, utterly unable to figure out what the person was talking about, and looked around some more.

So here’s the thing: this book is set in a fictional China analogue.  And the event that kicks off the last 2/3 of the book is the mainland country being invaded by the natives of the small, “moon-shaped” island not far off the coast.  In other words– and I needed this pointed out to me; I didn’t pick up on it on my own– Japan.

I do not know a lot about Chinese and Japanese history, but I know that historically Japan has not been nice to China.  And this book’s Federation of Mugen has occupied Nikara (pseudo-China) in the past, and … well, they’re not very nice either.  Now, the interesting thing is that over the course of the book Rin develops some rather major shamanic powers, to the point where by the end of the book she basically calls down the literal wrath of God on an entire island full of these people and razes it to the ground.  Now, it’s an island where the Mugen have been doing experiments on people from her ethnic group, so it’s not as if it’s unjustified, but most of her compatriots react with horror at what she’s done, and it’s set up that Rin is becoming just as bad as the Mugen were by forgetting that they’re people.  There is lots of innocent blood shed here, on both sides, and plenty of it by our protagonist.

I simply don’t know enough about the history here to be able to confidently state whether Mugen is a clear Japan analogue– I mean, there are definitely parallels, but it’s not like Kuang (who was born in Guangzhou in mainland China) dwells on racial differences between the Nikara and the Mugen very much, and this is a book where Rin’s dark skin causes a lot of friction at her exclusive military academy, so it’s not like race is something Kuang ignores.  It may be that my own ignorance is keeping me from seeing how bad this is.  So, while I absolutely enjoyed the hell out of the book, and everything I said before the line is still true, it might be that there are things about it that make it problematic that I haven’t fully explored.  Be aware of that, I guess.  I would be interested to know if someone from Japan was bothered by this; I don’t know enough to say.

Oh so that’s what’s bugging me

xhss9So I’m reading this book right now.  It’s the third book in a series that I think is going to be seven or ten books long, it’s 1200 fucking pages long, and the two books before it were both also over a thousand pages long.  I started it right around the first of the year and I’m barely a quarter of the way through the thing.  I feel like I sailed through the first two, and I really enjoyed reading them.  That said, it’s been a while, and I read so much that my recall is not always great.  At first, I thought that was the reason that this book felt like a slog– that I just didn’t remember the story well enough from the previous books and it was holding me back.

There really shoulda been a goddamn recap chapter in the front.  I mean, shit, your book is already twelve hundred pages long, maybe you give me another 15 to recap the previous 2200 pages in the other two books?  It’d be nice.

Something hit me about this book last night.  The big conflict in this one (so far) appears to be that the race (fantasy book, remember, so literal non-human race) that humans have basically been using as slaves since time immemorial have, for lack of a better word, woken up.  They were basically big strong mute servants until recently and now they’ve got their minds back.  And they are, rather understandably, somewhat pissed about the whole centuries of slavery thing, and so there’s a bit of Kill!  All!  Humans! going on out there.

The book expects me to be on the side of the humans in this conflict.  All of the main characters are human.  There’s been at least one, maybe two POV characters from the other side in previous books but he’s either dead or just hasn’t shown up; I literally don’t remember.

I am not on the side of the humans in this conflict.

There are hints that one character is going to take the side of the newly-awakened slave race, but those same hints imply that he is going to lead them, and I kinda don’t feel like a white savior narrative is going to improve this book any.

Oh, and the series has always explicitly associated blue eyes with social status, which I was willing to ignore the implications of previously but now is kinda looking upsetting given recent developments.  Like, characters’ eyes literally change color to blue if they achieve certain abilities.

So right now I’m at war, with my 2500-page investment along with a healthy dose of “give the rest of the book a chance; this may not work out the way it seems like it’s going to” on the one hand, and literally ten other books that I’d like to start reading and nine hundred more pages of this one to slog through on the other.

Feel free to provide advice if you’d like.

(Also: I’m not a hundred percent sure why I’m effectively subtweeting the actual book here; my Goodreads feed isn’t exactly a hidden thing.  But that’s how the post came out.  I dunno.)