TAG TEAM

Posted in Quick Hits on September 16th, 2009 by Ed

I have to be somewhat brief today.

1. Be sure to read E.J. Dionne's piece on Joe Wilson in the WaPo. It touches on yesterday's theme (the lack of civility) and questions what the hooray-for-Joe-Wilson reaction among half of the population says about us as a society. When did we become such assholes? It's a complex issue, in my opinion. Our society was more polite and we conducted ourselves with far more decorum 100 years ago. But 100 years ago society also thought burning black men at the stake was a suitable weekend recreational activity. Not to mention that whole separate-but-equal thing. Perhaps not so civil after all.

2. If you are even moderately interested in gender or sports, I highly recommend this piece on South African sprinter Caster Semanaya from the blog The Science of Sport by a pair of Ph.D.s from South Africa. It describes in great detail the complexity of the question of sex; not gender, mind you, which involves questions of psychological and social identities, but of "simple" biological sex. It's easy, right? Just drop trou and look at everyone's plumbing, right? Well, not really. Not at all. Semanaya is a perfect example of what athletic bodies have to deal with when they cannot produce an answer to that apparently simple question. The really interesting part is that this is not rare; genetic testing at the Olympics between 1972 and 1996 revealed that 0.3% of female competitors (28 out of 8600) failed the genetic test. That is, they had a "Y" chromosome. In every case the competitors were allowed to compete after additional examination. This isn't that uncommon, in other words. Perhaps not every case is as puzzling as Semanaya (who has male but not female sex organs, yet a "female" genetic makeup which leaves her body largely unaffected by the hormones her testes produce) but she is far from the first female athlete to produce a collective WTF from the IOC and IAAF.

I recognize the organizations' need to do some sort of verification to prevent men from simply disguising themselves as women to compete (and yes, it has happened). But once the question moves beyond blatant frauds of that variety and into these complicated questions of intersexuality – XXY people or athletes with "ambiguous" sexual organs/characteristics – the waters get very muddy indeed. On a positive note, I was pleasantly surprised to find that all of the female athletes who failed the IOC test were allowed to compete once it was determined that they were not simply men masquerading as women. It's good to know that they understand the substantial ambiguity that exists with this subject.

THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION

Posted in Rants on September 15th, 2009 by Ed

After five years of searching using every available piece of technology from Deep Blue to the Hubble Telescope to the Large Hadron Collider, scientists have discovered something worse than YouTube comments. And by that I mean I called them and said "Hey, turn all that shit off. I found it." Ladies and gentlemen, having already outed myself at Super Bowl time as a football fan, it is my sad responsibility to report that NFL.com has added a comment section to game pages.

• CUTLER WHO PIC GUY KINDA LIKE FAVRE HUH?LOL SUCKER
greenbay111 | 4 minutes ago

• the funny thing is no bear fans are in here, haha where are all those guys that were talking about cutler, the pro bowl QB we've always needed, BEARS SUPERBOWL haha
thehorseshoe20 | 4 minutes ago

• 4 picks for jay cutler hay all packer fans didnt all the bears fans say they were gunna kill us
packfann2 | 5 minutes ago

• STEELCITY WE WON HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH NOW SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE
ozzz | 5 minutes ago

• 87 yard td vs 4 picks n 1 td hmmmm….i guess GO ORTON. LOL
imanyeaman57 | 4 minutes ago

• CUTLER SUCKED 2 NITE.HE LOOKED LIKE KYLE ORTEN OUT THEIR. BRIAN URLACKER GONE WOOP HIS A S S FO F U C K I N UP
bigdawg420 | 4 minutes ago

• I refuse to make excuses, a win is a win and a lost is a lost.
deucewyld | 5 minutes ago

• There ya go sparky is already making the excuses for Cutler Hasnt anyone told you excuses are like Butt holes everyone has one
wildman2017 | 5 minutes ago

Is this it? I mean, is this it for us as a species? Are we about five to ten years away from jettisoning language altogether in favor of grunting and banging on rocks? Granted, this is not a good sample, as the average hardcore football fan is A) fat, B) an idiot, C) drunk, and D) a fat drunken idiot. But every once in a while I have a moment at which I'm forced to step back and stare in abject horror at the way we communicate with one another.

The key to enjoying a hot dog is active denial. You know you're eating ground assholes. If you want to enjoy your hot dog, don't think about it. Internet comments outside of the self-selected community of political blogs I enjoy are the hot dog ingredients to me. I know how stupid most of this country is. I know. I realize that the guy next to me on the bus probably can't string a sentence together; that there are college students who can't spell or understand subject-verb agreement; that the vast majority of Americans' preferred form of addressing one another involves taunting, shouting, and words like "bitch" or "dawg"; that one in five of my fellow voting-aged citizens cannot read this paragraph.

I go to great lengths to enjoy portions of my day by putting all of this out of my mind. Generally I succeed; even Glenn Reynolds' and Michelle Malkin's shit is in sentences and is comprehensible. But websites that draw in a broader cross-section of society burst my bubble. It scares me. And while we are wise to remain wary about idealizing the past, I steadfastly refuse to believe that, regardless of changes in medium, people communicated with one another like this fifty years ago. I don't think we can maintain this rate of decline for another fifty years.

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

Posted in Rants on September 14th, 2009 by Ed

Colorado is not the most conservative state. Nor is it the most liberal. It's one of the few states in which elections are consistently competitive in recent years. But it has some pretty substantial social conservative cred within its borders. While Denver and Boulder might be oases of liberal godlessness, Colorado Springs and…well, everywhere else in the state is virtually synonymous with the Christian right. It was unsurprising, then, that it was the first state to put a version of the Federal "Human Life Amendment" – outlawing all abortion, defining conception as the beginning of life, conferring personhood on fetuses, and banning some forms of birth control – to vote as a ballot measure in 2008. What was surprising is how thoroughly the amendment was defeated at the ballot box. I am not a betting man, but I would not have put money on the No vote winning nearly 3 to 1 in James Dobson's backyard.

Encouraged by this remarkable success, I guess, a similar measure is being put to a vote in Florida next year (assuming the backers can round up the necessary signatures). Since state law requires a 60% vote to pass an amendment via referendum, the odds of success where Colorado's evangelical all-stars failed are diminutive. The inability to pass these measures is illogical given the fact that we are supposed to be a nation bitterly divided, 50-50, on legal abortion. Right?

Polling shows that Americans appear to consider themselves Pro Life and Pro Choice in roughly equal numbers, with a tilt toward the latter. Human Life Amendments, however, are not 50-50 affairs. Gallup's polling provides some insight by asking people if they support legal abortion in any circumstances, in no circumstances, or in some cases but not others. Here we see a split of about 1 in 5 Americans taking each of the absolutist positions – always legal, always illegal – and a whopping 60% picking the least helpful answer. What does "In some circumstances" mean?

It could mean one favors exceptions only for rape, incest, or imminent death of the mother. It could mean one favors first trimester availability but nothing after. It could mean one supports abortion for adults but with restrictions for women under 18. Or it could mean that one wants to leave the door open – moral indignation aside – just in case. Going to a private Catholic high school taught me a very important lesson: public schools have teenage mothers and Catholic schools have girls whose parents get them hushed-up abortions. Since I was old enough to form an opinion on the issue, I have always believed that the vast majority of Americans are publicly Pro Life and privately quite amenable to the Pro Choice viewpoint "in certain circumstances." Namely their own. Mom and Dad may cover the Camry with Pro Life bumper stickers and maintain a high profile at their church, but when Mary gets knocked up the summer before leaving for college they take a more open-minded view of the question.

So I read "in certain circumstances" as "In case I/my wife/my daughter needs one." Or, as a great article stated many years ago, "The only moral abortion is my abortion." Perhaps I read too much into it. Maybe the Human Life Amendment failed, and will fail again, because it takes the extra step of banning oral contraception, a step that some legit Pro Lifers might consider too extreme. But I have never been able to shake the feeling that the answer lies in our remarkable propensity for A) saying one thing and doing another and B) making exceptions for ourselves when speaking in moral absolutes. It would not be difficult to outlaw abortion, and when the GOP had control of every branch of government they didn't do it. Politically, they find it more valuable as a carrot to fire up rural America than as a serious issue on their legislative agenda. Practically, maybe they and their Pro Life base subconsciously want to keep the option around. You know, just in case.

AMERICA'S WORST IDEA

Posted in No Politics Friday on September 11th, 2009 by Ed

At some point in the last six months virtually every person who knows me even half-decently has mentioned that I'd be interested to know that Ken Burns' new documentary series is about the National Park Service. Indeed I am quite excited to see The National Parks: America's Best Idea. Having visited over 150 units of the National Park system (and with ready access to all things southern, I plan to work on that in the near future) I can guarantee that I'll watch every minute of the series. I am not alone in my enthusiasm – the critical anticipation and initial reviews border on fawning. Let's briefly overlook the fact that for every hit like The Civil War or Mark Twain Burns has pinched off at least as many turds (Baseball, Jazz, Lewis & Clark). This is no time to get cynical. I choose to think good thoughts about it.

That said, I'm worried. The normal person buried inside of me thinks, "Wow, this speaks directly to my interests!" The rest of me thinks, "Great, how many more assholes in SUVs is this going to bring?"

It's not a secret among people who enjoy the outdoors that several of the most well-known natural attractions in this country are very difficult to visit. Yellowstone is essentially unvisitable during warm weather. Visitors to Great Smoky Mountains or Shenandoah in any season except winter end up sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for a couple hours. Yosemite is grossly overdeveloped, with Bay Area day-trippers apparently requiring a full-sized supermarket in the valley to meet their needs. Mesa Verde and the Grand Canyon are excellent places to meet every Japanese tourist or rented RV full of unhappily vacationing Midwestern families on the planet. Glacier, despite its size and remote location, is always packed. These places attract large numbers of visitors because they are spectacular, but the throngs of suburbanites who want to experience Nature through the window of their Ford Excursion are overwhelming to people who actually want to escape.

The secret, of course, is that there are secrets. Few people know of or visit Guadalupe Mountains, Pinnacles, Chiricahua, Walnut Canyon, Bent's Old Fort, Theodore Roosevelt (North Unit, thank you very much), or Craters of the Moon. Yet these are just a handful of places that are as amazing as the big names – and better, because there's no one there most of the time. We devoted fans trade tips about lesser-known places and take pains to ensure that we do it quietly. The last thing we want, of course, is for something like a popular TV series to blab all of the system's secrets. A few Ken Burns segments about Chaco Culture or Capulin Volcano will be enough to blow their cover.

I will continue looking forward to this series, but I hope it sticks to the attractions that are already badly overcrowded and most recognizable to a typical TV viewer. Like one might bake a separate birthday cake for the kids to ruin in order to protect the real one, I get the impression that the NPS has written off the Yellowstones, Yosemites, and Smokies of the system and is looking to save the rest. The big name parks are revenue makers and attention getters. They're for the casual fan, the dilettante. They are to the outdoors what Fela Kuti is to world music. While it's not my place to judge how other people prefer to enjoy a public good, I'd be more than happy to keep the RV and diesel generator crowd focused on Yellowstone and ignorant of our hidden gems.

MARYBETH HICKS TEACHES HER KIDS ABOUT THE FJM TREATMENT

Posted in Rants on September 10th, 2009 by Ed

You know what the how-dare-Obama-speak-to-our-creationist-children movement needs? It needs a leader. A mouthpiece. A manifesto. A defense of its core principles so spectacularly inept that researchers who uncover it thousands of years from now will consider it the archetype of pre-Ice Age 2100 satire. "My," they will say in their hover-palaces while poring over the fossilized remains of Ed Asner, "those early 21st Century Americans could spin a yarn!" I'm not sure why they'll be using 19th Century slang, but I am sure that they'll be at a loss for alternative explanations of Marybeth Hicks' "America's Uber-Parent? I think not." They will read it and reach the only possible conclusion: Hicks was the spokeswoman of a movement of spectacular vision and intelligence, delivering a message so brilliant that mere logic and reading comprehension are powerless against it.

Every year, on the night before school starts, I announce that it’s time to take a walk.

Leading with a personal anecdote is a common enough tactic, but it takes a Master Writer to lead with one this goddamn interesting.

All six of us fan out throughout the house to find our flip flops, someone gets a leash for Scotty the dog, and we set out in a disorganized band up our street. But it’s not just a walk. It’s a ritual.

This is fascinating. Tune in next week for Marybeth Hicks' riveting tale of the time she folded the laundry.

Quite the creative name for the dog, by the way.

This year was no exception.

Having already said "Every year" and describing it as a "ritual," I'm not sure this was necessary, MBH.

On the evening before we took our second daughter off to college, my husband, our four children and I took turns confiding our goals for the coming school year.

I'm guessing Second Daughter's goal had something to do with making the smallest possible number of visits home.

It's an annual rite

WE GET IT. YOU DO IT EVERY YEAR. ANNUALLY. PER ANNUM. EVERY TWELVE MONTHS.

The message we deliver to our children as they reveal their fondest hopes for themselves is not unlike the message President Obama attempted to deliver in his address to school children yesterday.

I sure would be furious if anyone other than me attempted to deliver my own message to my children.

Make goals for yourself and announce them to others so you’ll be accountable. Work hard. Take responsibility for your success. Get help when you need it.

I'm seething in anger just thinking about that darkie I didn't vote for the President delivering such partisan nonsense to our young people.

Since the President’s message was so similar to the advice we give our own children every year, why am I so bugged by the fact that he took to the airwaves and the Internet to deliver this speech to America’s public school students?

I took the liberty of preparing a list of potential responses, each equally valid.

1. You are a complete partisan hack.
2. You are not real bright.
3. You are a knee-jerk reactionary.
4. You are a partisan knee-jerk reactionary who is not real bright.

Why does it seem so creepy to me?

We're a tad repetitive, aren't we? It creeps you out because the President is black and far smarter than you is clearly stepping over a line.

I’ve wrestled with this question since last week when it was revealed that the speech would take place.

This might be the single most useless sentence in the history of English. You just asked the question. TWICE. You follow by telling us that you are asking yourself the question, an action prompted by the realization that the event existed.

Marybeth, I'm thinking about taking a dump. I've been debating the issue since I realized I had to take a dump. I'm glad we had this talk.

I certainly don’t object to presidential addresses being aired in schools in the event of a national emergency such as 9/11, or during an historic occasion such as an inauguration.

So, just to get this straight, she wouldn't have complained if Obama's inauguration was covered live nationwide in our schools. OK. Also, it was acceptable to expose children to Bush's absolutist, opportunistic neoconservative monologues – how else will our children learn who is With Us as opposed to With the Terrorists, who is and is not Evil? – but not Obama's suggestion that they have goals.

So I asked myself, am I cynical about the overly political nature of this speech simply because I disagree with the President’s politics?

Wait.

MBH, I'm confused. You clearly wrote this before the speech aired, first of all. But more importantly, like THIRTY GODDAMN SECONDS AGO you described the substance of the President's speech as "Make goals for yourself and announce them to others so you’ll be accountable. Work hard. Take responsibility for your success. Get help when you need it." Moreover, you noted that this is exactly the same message you communicate to your spawn annually. Every year. Añualménte. And now it's "overly political?"

Those who favor the president’s speech to school children point to previous addresses by George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan as proof that a precedent has already been set for such an address.

This is a dubious point, of course, because Bush and Reagan are not Negro liberals avoided the overly political nature of Obama's Indoctrination Address which was administered to schoolchildren with the Ludovico Technique.

I’m loath to be labeled a hypocrite, so I went back and read those speeches. Now I know why President Obama’s talk bothers me.

Yes, MBH and hypocrisy are oil and water. Please tell us, Objective Observer, what egregious errors exist in the secret Muslim brown guy's President Obama's speech but not in the others.

George H.W. Bush talked to schoolchildren via closed circuit TV to encourage greater interest in science and math. He used the occasion of a space launch to focus on the sciences at a time when it had been well established that US students paled in comparison to others around in the world in this essential discipline.

I remember that. I was in 5th grade. Very appropriate. You might even say Bush was encouraging us to have goals, try hard, and pay attention in math and science classes.

Even still, then-Speaker of the House Richard Gephardt said, “The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students.”

Well his criticism was ignored, and if you read it (that's the crucial part, MBH) you'll note that it deals with the role of the Dept. of Education and the use of its resources.

Ronald Reagan’s speech was something else entirely.

I will say this only once, MBH: we are in absofuckinglute agreement here.

Was it political? Absolutely.

Yes, and therefore inappropriate by the standards described above.

It was a primer on American political theory. Reagan didn’t insert himself into the personal lives of his audience, but instead asked school children to insert themselves into the public life of our nation. His speech didn’t focus on personal goals but on the sacrifices of our founders to establish the freedom to make such goals.

True, true. It contained non-partisan history lessons like "We also find that more countries than ever before are following America's revolutionary economic message of free enterprise, low taxes, and open world trade. These days, whenever I see foreign leaders, they tell me about their plans for reducing taxes and other economic reforms that they're using, copying what we have done here in our country. I wonder if they realize that this vision of economic freedom — the freedom to work, to create and produce, to own and use property without the interference of the state — was central to the American Revolution when the American colonists rebelled against a whole web of economic restrictions, taxes, and barriers to free trade. The message at the Boston Tea Party — have you studied yet in history about the Boston Tea Party, where, because of a tax, they went down and dumped the tea in the harbor? Well, that was America's original tax revolt. And it was the fruits of our labor — belonged to us, and not to the state."

Right wingers do not even understand that their ideology is an ideology. They think it is simply fact.

That’s the crucial difference, and the reason Mr. Obama’s message bothers me.

In the battle between the imagined version of Reagan's speech in MBH's head and the imagined version of Obama's speech in MBH's head, there can be only one victor.

The President of the United States is not the “First Father.” His role is not to be an uber-parent, offering sage advice on personal behavior for school kids via televised lectures.

Like…telling kids they should be interested in math and science? Or perhaps Father Reagan's History Lessons like "And I definitely believe it is because one of the principal reasons that we were able to get the economy back on track and create those new jobs and all was we cut the taxes. We reduced them because, you see, the taxes can be such a penalty on people that there's no incentive for them to prosper and earn more and so forth because they have to give so much to the Government."

Non-partisan, that.

If we accept this display of “non-partisan parenting,” we’re tacitly acknowledging that the government of the United States of America has an appropriate role to play in raising our children. I don’t think it does.

You know what? Fuck it. I'm just going to keep quoting Reagan's address at this point. "There was talk about having a gun ban in California. I got a letter from a man in San Quentin prison…He was a burglar. And he said, 'I just want you to know that if that law goes through, here in San Quentin there will be celebrating throughout the day and night by all the burglars who are in prison because…the only question we can never answer is: Does the man in that house have a gun in the drawer by his bed?…If you tell us in advance they won't have a gun in that drawer by their bed, the burglars in here will be celebrating evermore."'

Even if the message is a positive one, the very fact that it has been delivered is intrusive and assumptive and just plain creepy.

Wait, so, I'm confused again. Were Bush's and Reagan's messages, positive and "non-partisan" as they were, intrusive and assumptive and just plain creepy? Does "Study math and science rather than making your own educational choices" count as intrusive or assumptive?

Then again, my kids didn’t see the speech. They went for a walk with their parents instead.

You took your kids for a walk between 12:00 and 12:45 Eastern on Tuesday? You sound like mother of the year.

Congratulations on your hard-fought victory over the Straw Man Obama who suggested – or even implied – that the President's role should supersede that of parents. Congratulations on somehow turning this into a False Dilemma in which your children must either go for a walk with their mother or listen to Obama, but not both. Congratulations on putting together a document of such historical significance, one which we can point at for the next few decades and exclaim "See? This is what we had to deal with."

Tags:

TAUTOLOGY

Posted in Ed vs. Logical Fallacies on September 9th, 2009 by Ed

The next phase in the coordinated campaign of anti-reform rhetoric in the health care debate apparently is to dip back into the Bush 2004 playbook and trot out the Red Herrings. I draw your attention to a recent editorial entitled "Fix the costs first." To wit:

The need for health reform is as plain as the headline on the front page of Tuesday's editions of The Buffalo News: "Salaried employees suffer loss of health care, reduced pensions due to Delphi bankruptcy." The system is falling apart. The wailing from the political right notwithstanding, without reform, we will have rationing.

But those on the left who continue to deny that controlling costs must be the first order of business need to read the same story. Today it's Delphi Corp. in Lockport, a company that is under severe economic strain. But as the costs of health care continue to soar — reaching 20 percent of gross domestic product by 2017 — more companies will find themselves under severe economic strain. Employer-based health care will become increasingly less available.

It's only a matter of time until we are besieged with warnings about capping malpractice claims.

Costs are not causing the problem, they are the end result of it. Drawing upon my experience in the world of medical collections – briefly, lest I start having flashbacks – the average hospital writes off tens of millions of dollars in services annually. That is to say lots of people are receiving services for which they don't pay. We know that emergency rooms are required by Federal law to treat any patient who presents himself regardless of ability to pay. For people without health insurance and with meager incomes, this becomes the sole source of medical care. Hospitals attempt to compensate for services they essentially provide for free by breaking it off in the ass of every patient with half-decent insurance. So the next guy through the door with a Blue Cross PPO gets charged $75 for an ibuprofen in an effort to make up the difference. Hospitals then pay insurers a discounted bulk rate for claims – thousands at a time – according an arcane formula that ends up being slightly more complicated than a group of astronauts doing their taxes in Latin. In short, they charge you $75 to get a negotiated payment of $60 from your insurance to start compensating for the fact that they just did a $15,000 operation to pull the steering column of a 1994 Toyota Tercel out of the sternum of an uninsured teenager.

The costs can't be controlled prior to extending coverage to everyone. The presence of 50 million uninsured people is in fact contributing mightily to the disconnect between the costs of medical care and reality. Bask in the rich irony as the Glenn Beck fan in the next cubicle wails loudly about how he isn't going to pay for anyone else's health insurance. We already pay for the uninsured. It's just a big, disorganized trainwreck, clearly superior to a government-administered program which would achieve the exact same end result.

SHAME

Posted in Rants on September 8th, 2009 by Ed

As we hear wingnuts on the fringes of sanity explode in a predictable pant-shitting rage over the President's address to American school children today, I am filled with two emotions: pity and shame. I feel pity for children who are being raised by these parents, as they have almost no hope of growing up to be useful members of our society, and I feel shame for the parents because they are so clearly incapable of feeling ashamed of themselves.

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There was a time in our nation's history at which adults were ashamed of being ignorant or uneducated. Not universally, of course – there is and always has been a devoted following for the No Fancy Book Learnin' ideology. But social mores are funny things. While fifty years ago one might have beaten one's children in public without a second thought or smacked the wife around the house without so much as a disapproving look from the neighbors, making a complete idiot out of oneself in a public forum was a major social faux pas. Standing up at church or at a town hall meeting and saying something ridiculous made one look like an ass. Today it's both expected and condoned, encouraged by call-in radio and anonymous internet soapboxes. In America v.2009 we (almost) universally condemn spousal or child abuse, but the right to be an uneducated embarrassment to society is inviolate. There was a time at which "Stay in school so you don't end up a goddamn retard making minimum wage to clean out grease traps" might have been an uncontroversial or perhaps even welcome message from an elected official. Today is not that time.

I don't mean to idealize the past, but why aren't people ashamed of being uneducated or flat-out stupid anymore? Why did we spend two centuries begging, cajoling, and threatening parents into sending their children to school only to turn around and glorify a "movement" advocating the legalized child abuse under the guise of homeschooling? Why do we applaud people for having the courage to stand up at town hall meetings and yell histrionic nonsense at the top of their lungs? Why do people so confidently interject in discussions of issues about which they know nothing? Why aren't we humiliated to have the neighbors think we are completely ignorant of facts and unable to piece together a coherent argument in the same way we're humiliated to have them think we're poor?

As usual I return to my Brave New World argument; the problem is too much information. Too much information produces idiots. When reality and the truth are buried in a daily tsunami of bullshit, informing oneself becomes a crapshoot. We have news networks reporting news that isn't true or is horribly distorted. We have unlimited access to primary source information, but that is counterproductive as often as not, giving us gullible loners who think watching YouTube videos of 9/11 makes them experts who have done a lot of "research" and vapid celebrities who read Wikipedia or quack websites to become authorities on autism. In other words, people aren't ashamed of being idiots because they don't think they are. They consider themselves terribly well informed, and they are. They are chock full of facts that aren't true, biased interpretations of reality, and information they are unable to understand correctly or put in context.

We think we are getting smarter as we're getting dumber. We're so dumb as a nation that stupid people don't even stand out anymore, and stupidity is so widespread that we don't even remember what it sounds like to hear something intelligent. Like the protagonist in a moralistic fable, we've become too stupid to realize how stupid we are.

SOCIALISM MY ASS

Posted in No Politics Friday, Quick Hits on September 4th, 2009 by Ed

Apparently there is no free internet at hotels and convention centersres in Toronto. In fact my hotel doesn't even offer cash internet. WTF, Canada?

On the bright side, Toronto is pretty awesome. It's like Chicago except the streets aren't covered in human urine.

Also, Mission One has been accomplished: Tim Horton's. It has been like three years, Timmy. And it's nice to have you inside of me again.

THE CREEPS

Posted in Quick Hits on September 3rd, 2009 by Ed

1. I am sitting in a chair in the sky and I am blogging. Technology is officially starting to creep me out.

2. Sorry Atlanta people, I still think Hartsfield sucks. It isn't getting better with experience.

3. If I ever happen to be on a plane which must be evacuated in an emergency situation, I feel really bad for everyone sitting between me and the exit.

WINNING 'EM BACK, ONE VOTER AT A TIME

Posted in Rants on September 3rd, 2009 by Ed

Two videos, which I will summarize for those of you who can't hear the audio. The first is via Crooks and Liars and the second from Instaputz, although both have appeared elsewhere.

In the first video, Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Republican from Kansas, fields a question from a single mother. The question is fairly straightforward. "I’m a 27 year-old single mother. I work full-time. I do not have health insurance. My employer does not provide health insurance to me and I cannot afford it privately. Why shouldn’t my government guarantee all of its citizens health care?" Jenkins responds by laughing at her for a minute before telling her to "go be a grown-up."

In the second video, Michael Steele is speaking at Howard University, an event which was billed as "a dialogue" but was a canned speech by the Chairman. Note that he also bussed in 24 white College Republicans from another school and reserved the front row for them, presumably to give Uncle Mike some moral support. A student stood to interject in the middle of his hour-long speech: ""My mother died of cancer 6 months ago because she could only afford three of her six prescription chemotherapy medications. There are 50 million people in this country who could end up like my mom, suffering or dying because they do not have adequate health care." Steele turned away, shook his finger in her general direction, and said "People are coming to these town meetings and they're like (her)," apparently conflating the student with the foaming-at-the-mouth lunatics (conservatives, one and all) screaming at Congressmen at town hall events coast to coast.

I have a hard time watching these videos and coming to any conclusion other than that the GOP is the single most brilliant group of politicians in the history of mankind. Can you imagine the skill necessary to tell voters who come to you with problems to fuck off when you can't manage to avoid them altogether and still win 45% of the vote in Presidential elections? To be threatening to take back seats in Congress? To have legions of morbidly obese, uninsured, diabetic hillbillies ready to take to the streets with guns to prevent health care reform? This party operates out of a playbook that appears to have been written by Skeletor and they win elections.

Think about these videos. I mean, really think about what is going on here. People attend a public forum and ask reasonable questions – as opposed to, you know, "WHY CAN'T BARACK OBAMA PROVE THAT HE ISN'T A KENYAN MUSLIM??????" – and the elected officials or higher-ups of the second largest political party in the country laugh at them and mock them. And we're sitting here stroking our beards and pondering how many seats they're going to win back in 2010. What kind of masochist is inspired by people who explicitly do not give the slightest shit about the problems of non-plutocrats?

It's clear that the party is stuck in the Rove-ian "Permanent Majority" mindset, abandoning even the pretense of winning over voters outside of their narrow base of support. I'm not sure why they believe that their motley stew of the heavily armed, the home-schooled, and functionally illiterate fundamentalists is a majority of the country. That strategy served them well in 2006 and 2008; it will be interesting to see if it is just as successful in 2010.