Why You Can’t Have “Family Values” Without Valuing Fathers:

When my wife was pregnant and I realized I would need to be home, I discovered that Time Warner had this strange policy under which anyone could get ten paid weeks, unless you were a man who impregnated the mother of a child. I went, in private, straight to [the Time Warner] benefits [department] and said, “I’m sure this is an oversight and you didn’t mean to exclude dads.” They wouldn’t give me an answer for months. Then my daughter was born in an emergency delivery, and eleven days later I’m home holding my four-pound preemie, messaging benefits, saying “Hey, I need an answer.” That’s when they wrote back to say that they would be unable to give me paid leave benefits. I decided to file a suit with the EEOC for gender discrimination.

Paid leave is not a law requiring businesses to pay you when you’re out. Paid family leave is an insurance system that would tax 20 cents for every $100 you make. Studies show that when people find out what paid leave is, they support it.

Dark Buddhism, one man’s attempt to fuse Buddhism with Randian Objectivism. To his credit, he’s quite clear on the flaws in the Cult of Ayn Rand, but it’s still strange to care so much about Rand’s bogus philosophy that you want to rescue it by stitching it up: building a hybrid of selflessness and selfishness is a contradiction sure to spawn deepities.

(via Becoming one with John Galt)

Reading this I have to remind myself that it only counts as comedy when you are funny on purpose.

Maher did it again:

Bill Maher has been raked over the coals on his irrational, anti-scientific attitude towards vaccines; his own guests have scorned his views on his own show; he’s been confronted repeatedly with the evidence and the rebuttals. He’s got to know by now that there is no rational justification for claiming that vaccines or thimerosal cause autism, or that the drug companies are profiting hugely by including poisons in their vaccines (which makes no sense, even if you do believe in greedy pharmaceutical mega-corporations).

So what does he do? He invites anti-vax crank extraordinaire, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to sit around and commiserate with one another about how they’re called cranks and liars for merely denying the scientific consensus.

Maher wants it both ways. He want to be just an comedian and also a serious public intellectual. The last one to pull that off was Mark Twain and he is no Samuel Clemens.

Wingnut welfare is an important, underrated feature of the modern U.S. political scene. I don’t know who came up with the term, but anyone who follows right-wing careers knows whereof I speak: the lavishly-funded ecosystem of billionaire-financed think tanks, media outlets, and so on provides a comfortable cushion for politicians and pundits who tell such people what they want to hear. Lose an election, make economic forecasts that turn out laughably wrong, whatever — no matter, there’s always a fallback job available.

Obviously this reality has important incentive effects. It encourages conservatives to espouse ever-cruder positions, because they don’t need to be taken seriously outside their closed universe.

- Wingnut Welfare and Work Incentives - NYTimes.com

The joke was that Obama wasn’t joking:

There are no jokes there. There’s just Obama saying what he has to say and Luther saying what Obama actually believes.

And what Obama believes is that the press is often sensational, trivial, and fearmongering. He thinks they hype negative stories for weeks on end and then refuse to admit their mistake when the horror fizzles. He thinks he gets the blame for catastrophes but little credit for solutions. He thinks the media has a deep bias toward negative stories (which, of course, we do).

Rand Paul goes full Strangelove: The “anti-drone” candidate is okay with droning American citizens:

Greenwald also questions Paul’s larger strategy here of trying to tie up loose, dovish ends on foreign policy: “I don’t get his strategy: he’s never going to attract GOP hawks, so why dilute what makes him interesting/unique?” That’s the big strategic oddity hanging over all of Paul’s shifts to the right on foreign policy. There are now several politicians considering presidential runs and 501©(4)s being set up solely for the purpose of combating Rand Paul’s allegedly “isolationist” views, even as Paul has fallen in line behind the GOP’s more traditional, hawkish foreign policy. Why is Paul shedding what makes him unique and interesting on foreign policy, when the party’s hawks aren’t buying it anyway?

One posibility is that he, like his father before him; is a complete fraud and cares little to nothing about his rehtoric about freedom and liberty.

We’re Checking the Wrong “Privilege”:

Cultural capital—what “privilege” often, but not always, refers to these days—is a seductive concept. It tells us that the rich stay rich through the discreet perpetuation of cultural preferences. Privilege isn’t just money or luxury goods; it’s also about the foods you eat, the shows you watch. When you first learn about it, likely in Sociology 101, cultural capital can seem like a way to explain everything. The problem, however, is that landlords, health providers, and universities don’t accept cultural capital in lieu of monetary payment.

Privilege is a bad argument. Whenever I’ve asked how “checking privilege” somehow leads to individual or collective action that affects positive change, the answer is always hand waving and platitudes.