Friday links! A powerful misanthropy edition

"The Misanthrope" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1568

“The Misanthrope” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1568

A powerful misanthropy came over me last week, and I wanted to do justice. It came over me in the street. I was walking up Higgins Avenue toward the Pie Hole, where I might nervously eat pizza before the comedy show. A drunk man leaned in the doorway of an empty storefront. I passed him at the same time a woman in business casual negotiated the space between us.

“Hey,” he said to her, “can I ask you a question?”

“Nope,” she said and kept walking.

“Well I already did, so ha ha, bitch!” he shouted after her.

I turned and told him not to fuck with women on the street. I did so loudly, in the voice I use to command strange dogs. I walked toward him in a game fashion. As soon as he started to speak, I repeated myself.

“Don’t fuck with women on the street,” I said. We were close now. He stepped back and said all right, all right. I turned and walked away, feeling tall and jumpy.

“Jesus,” he said, “call the cops or something.”

I turned and walked back to him, swiftly. He put his palms up and shrank into the doorway.

“Don’t hit me,” he said.

Reader, I realized what a heel I am. I had been feeling pretty good to that point, expressing my values through bystander intervention and all. I had never thought to hit him. I only thought, I realized, to correct him publicly, before my god and that woman. I wanted to be good: the kind of good that bosses up on a drunk. Today is Friday, and it’s a fine line between bullying and justice done. Won’t you stand athwart it with me?

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Maybe it matters how we talk about abortion

Mike Huckabee called the shootings "domestic terrorism" and abortion "dismembering of human babies."

Mike Huckabee called the shootings “domestic terrorism” and abortion “dismembering of human babies.”

On Friday, an evidently deranged man in Colorado Springs killed three people and injured nine others in an armed standoff with police at Planned Parenthood. “No more baby parts,” a senior law enforcement official reported him as saying. It appeared to be a reference to a series of undercover videos shot by an anti-abortion activist in which Planned Parenthood administrators discussed fees associated with the donation of fetal tissue for research. Or, as Carly Fiorina described it in a nationally televised Republican presidential debate:

“Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says ‘we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.'”

That video doesn’t exist, you can’t abort a “fully formed” fetus, and no one ever said that about harvesting a brain. But she was just describing something she felt strongly about, in terms that, if they were true, would probably justify armed intervention.

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Dept. of Irony: Shutdown masked real failure of

Go ahead and dress up your dorky son as an Indian. You probably won't run into any.

Go ahead and dress up your dorky son as an Indian. You probably won’t run into any.

In the aftermath of this month’s federal government shutdown, a Washington Post-ABC poll has found that approval ratings of the Republican Party have fallen to an all-time low. Sixty-two percent of Americans say they hold an unfavorable view of the GOP, with 40% describing their views as “strongly unfavorable.” Eight in ten disapprove of the shutdown. Tea Party-identified voters overwhelmingly blame Obama for the shutdown, but mainline Republicans blame their own party almost as often as they blame the president. It’s starting to look like the promise of future budget negotiations wasn’t worth it.

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Do we have a deal?

Senator Ted Cruz (R–TX), who has quietly stopped being the biggest dick in the world, for now

Senator Ted Cruz (R–TX) has quietly stopped being the biggest dick in the world, for now.

Earlier this morning, Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate struck a deal to fund the government through January 15 and extend the debt ceiling to February 7. The Senate will essentially dictate the bill to the House, which will hopefully pass it and send it back to the Senate before we run out of borrowing authority tomorrow. Or Ted Cruz will scotch the whole thing. Or fractious House Republicans will refuse to pass anything, and the United States will resume its proud, constitutionally mandated position as a second-rate power. But for now, it looks like we have a deal.

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Friday links! So close edition

so close

For a second there, it looked like the we were out of the woods on this whole shut-down-the-government-and-cause-a-world-economic-crisis thing. The president has rejected House Republicans’ proposal to raise the debt ceiling for six weeks, which would have demanded minimal concessions from Democrats but also would not have ended the shutdown. The government is still closed, and our statutory borrowing authority has a little less than a week. But there is reason for hope: the GOP’s proposal made no mention of Obamacare, and enough GOP moderates are breaking ranks with the ideologically pure that a clean continuing resolution is possible. Today is Friday, and we are so close to having a functional government. Won’t you pine with me?

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