YOUR DAILY WEEKLY READER: On abortion, political boredom, Islamophobes and the death of irony



SPEAK THE TRUTH, MR. RUTH. YOU’RE GREAT IN THE OVEN, BUT ON YOUR OWN AS A SANDWICH: “How inspiring and uplifting it is to know that those stout-hearted members of the Florida House treasure children, who represent our future and most certainly our yada, yada, yada and, of course, our blah, blah, blah. Touching, is what it is. Last week the Florida House voted to make it more difficult for women to get an abortion, voting 70-45 to pass a measure banning doctors from performing the procedure if the fetus might be viable outside the womb. A companion measure that would impose penalties on anyone convicted of a crime that harms a fetus also passed, 74-42. That's the beauty of the abortion debate. It affords all manner of pols the chance to embrace motherhood and apple pie and pass themselves off as vanguards of the antiabortion community. There's plenty of votes to be found in candlelight vigils. And that was especially true of state Rep. Marlene O'Toole, R-June Cleaver, one of the many co-sponsors. Taking to the House floor, O'Toole argued: ‘Every developing life deserves this, but certainly we can agree as a civilized society that a viable life deserves a chance. We owe our children better.’ There is no doubt the abortion issue remains highly divisive. But it is also axiomatic that while all these liberty- and freedom-loving Republican antiabortion elected officials will raise holy Cain over blocking a woman's right to determine for herself what she wants to do with her own body — once that fetus is born, the kiddo is pretty much on his or her own.” (via Tampa Bay Times)



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STILL, REPUBLICANS ARE TAKING IT MOSTLY DOWN THE BORING MIDDLE BECAUSE, UH, ELECTIONS. JEB!: “Tax breaks are in. Gambling? No dice. Lower tuition is OK, but alimony is a no-no. Blame the GOP-dominated Legislature’s attempt to give Gov. Rick Scott a helping hand for what people are calling one of the most boring sessions in recent history. But, while they are doing all they can to keep the governor in office, Republicans also have their eyes on a bigger prize — the presidential race two years from now. ‘Absolutely it’s important. We want the governor re-elected but it’s clearly important for 2016. No question,’ said Sen. John Thrasher, a St. Augustine Republican and former head of the Republican Party of Florida who is also chairman of Scott’s re-election effort.  Lawmakers recently put the kibosh on gambling legislation that was sure to split the Republican faithful. And, after Scott vetoed a similar effort last year, they opted to not even consider a prickly overhaul of the alimony system, putting the issue on hold for at least another year. But they are angling to land on the incumbent Republican’s desk a cornucopia of items that appeal to Hispanics, gun owners, drivers, families footing the bill for university educations and anyone disgusted by revelations that sexual offenders let loose by the state preyed again on children.” (via Tampa Tribune)


LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MEET THE STATE’S WORST LEGISLATOR (FOR TODAY): “Could a seemingly innocent education bill championed by Republicans actually be a way for them to censor school textbooks and prevent students from learning about certain cultures and religions?  In the words of Sarah Palin: ‘You betcha.’ On Friday, the Florida State Senate passed a bill drafted by Republican Senator Alan Hays that would change the way textbooks are chosen in the Sunshine State. This measure, which was opposed by every Democratic Senator, would alter a process that had been created to “avoid religious and political bias” and empower the local school districts to choose their own textbooks without the approval of the Florida Department of Education.  But there’s more to this legislation than just education, after all it’s opposed by the Florida Parent Teacher Association and the Florida School Board Association. Add to that, this proposal was not requested by any local school boards. In fact, some boards have voiced concerns that they lack the funds and resources to review textbooks. So why this law? Well, two reasons. It’s part of the Republicans backlash to the Common Core academic standards that they incorrectly dub a federal program. (It’s not, it’s a bipartisan State initiative started by Governors.)  But the bigger reason Senator Hays is pushing for this law is because of Islam. No, he isn’t a Muslim. (Thankfully.)” (via the Daily Beast) 

DAVID FOSTER WALLACE ISN’T LAUGHING IN HIS GRAVE. ALSO, IRONY IS DEAD: “Percy Shelley famously wrote that ‘poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.’ For Shelley, great art had the potential to make a new world through the depth of its vision and the properties of its creation. Today, Shelley would be laughed out of the room. Lazy cynicism has replaced thoughtful conviction as the mark of an educated worldview. Indeed, cynicism saturates popular culture, and it has afflicted contemporary art by way of postmodernism and irony. Perhaps no recent figure dealt with this problem more explicitly than David Foster Wallace. One of his central artistic projects remains a vital question for artists today: How does art progress from irony and cynicism to something sincere and redeeming? Twenty years ago, Wallace wrote about the impact of television on U.S. fiction. He focused on the effects of irony as it transferred from one medium to the other. In the 1960s, writers like Thomas Pynchon had successfully used irony and pop reference to reveal the dark side of war and American culture. Irony laid waste to corruption and hypocrisy. In the aftermath of the ’60s, as Wallace saw it, television adopted a self-deprecating, ironic attitude to make viewers feel smarter than the naïve public, and to flatter them into continued watching. Fiction responded by simply absorbing pop culture to ‘help create a mood of irony and irreverence, to make us uneasy and so ‘comment’ on the vapidity of U.S. culture, and most important, these days, to be just plain realistic.’ But what if irony leads to a sinkhole of relativism and disavowal? For Wallace, regurgitating ironic pop culture is a dead end.” (via Salon)



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