NPF: THE (OPEN) COVER LETTER

Posted in No Politics Friday on October 29th, 2010 by Ed

Any job applicant, especially in academia, has been drilled at great length about the importance of the almighty Cover Letter. A good one moves an application out of the pile and a bad one moves a file to the trash. A masterful Cover Letter truly is a thing to behold – that is, if you are lucky enough to see such an elusive creature in your fleeting years on this planet. They are reputed to cure cancer with a mere touch of their cotton-bonded stock.

After many attempts at securing employment in academia, I have decided to discard my highly professional, edited, and thoroughly serious Cover Letter. I have been reassured that it is appropriate, but it is failing to deliver the desired results. In its place I have decided to go with a letter that actually sounds like me. Those who know me will doubtlessly label this a poor strategy. However, with the sheer volume of applicants on the market (200+ for American Politics positions) I might as well throw the Hail Mary and see if brutal honesty can help me stand out.

For my fellow academics, rest assured that I am about 63% serious about sending this out with my applications from now on. I mean, there has to be at least one person somewhere in this profession with a personality and a sense of humor who will appreciate this. Someone destined to end up in the middle of every 200-deep pile of applications might as well take some risks, no?

October 30, 2010

Prof. Joseph M. Blow
Chair, American Politics Search
Department of Political Science
University of Anywhere
Pigsknuckle, IA 75018

Members of the Search Committee:

I am writing to apply for the American Politics position at University of Anywhere. I am currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Giant Southeastern Public University and I received my Ph.D. from Giant Midwestern State University in 2009. At this point I am supposed to indicate what specific attributes of your University make it a place at which I want to work. I would rather not patronize you. Let us be frank: I am applying because you have a job opening and I need a job. I have no reason to think that your department is anything but a fine place to work, but I would apply for a tenure-track job on a burning oil rig at this point.

In fairness, the search committee, if using standard search committee logic, has no reason to hire me. With the sheer number of un- and under-employed people in our profession, your pile of 150-some applications has numerous candidates who are superior to me. If you decide based on pedigree, you have plenty of Harvard and Stanford people to choose from. If you are simply counting publications, there are applicants with more than me. If superstar letters of recommendation are your thing, there are applicants who can beat me on that count as well. In fact, everything about me as an academic is average. Decent track record, decent Ph.D.-granting institution, decent recommendations, decent research agenda, decent teaching…well, honestly I'm pretty well above average at the last one but let us not pretend that teaching is a factor in hiring decisions at research universities. I would emphasize my teaching experience but I'd gain as much from telling search committees that I have an impressive stamp collection. Let us just say that if you need it taught, I can teach it and do a pretty good job of it. The 15% of your undergraduate student body that actually pays some attention to academics will like me.

Attached is a description of my research agenda, my teaching philosophy (including evaluations, which I did not cherry-pick to remove the venomous comments), and samples of my work, both published and in progress. You will not read any of this stuff because no rational person is going to read 60-plus pages from hundreds of applications. Frankly I am surprised you've read this far rather than glancing at the University logo in the letterhead and moving to the next file.

I could waste everyone's time talking about projects, publications, teaching awards, and all that stuff we are supposed to brag about in a Cover Letter. But there are now dozens and dozens of people on the market who have those things so it makes more sense for someone like me to take a different approach. So, here's the deal. I work hard, I care about students, I'm devoted to turning out publishable research, I won't be looking to leave for a "better" department as soon as I arrive, and I am not psychotic or interested in departmental politicking. I actually have a personality, albeit one that may not be to everyone's liking, and thus I am neither painfully socially awkward nor a venom-spewing asshole. I mention this only because these characteristics describe such a vast portion of academia. If I get a chance to speak with you about this position you'll find my work pretty interesting and my interest in teaching sincere. Best of all you won't walk away feeling like you had to spend an hour with Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man or a sociopath who erred in choosing Political Science over the joint MBA-JD program. As an added bonus, if you interview me you'll be interviewing at least one person who isn't using your institution as leverage to get a better offer elsewhere.

It would be great to hear from you, but as with any application there is a 99% chance I won't. In that case I wish you luck with whoever you decide to hire. There are all kinds of supporting materials attached on the off chance that you care to read them. I wouldn't recommend it, as doing so will kill your chances of plowing through 150 applications in the 30 minutes before your next class and that three hour late afternoon faculty meeting. I would offer more sympathy for the fact that search committee work has been added to your many other responsibilities but, hey, you're the one with a job. And I'm crazy enough to want to join you.

Regards,
Edward _______, Ph.D. 2009

This is clearly a good idea.

Tags:

MINOR DELAY

Posted in Quick Hits on October 29th, 2010 by Ed

As I sat down to craft NPF late Thursday evening, a journal rejection popped up in my email and I was too bummed out to do anything except watch 15 minutes of Iron Chef and fall asleep. Since I had a good topic worked out, I'll do it sometime today and post it for Saturday. I'd call it "NPS" but for fear of being sued by the National Park Service. Which, by the way, just added its 393rd unit in a rare example of preserving the history of the almost entirely forgotten War of 1812.

ARKANSAS LEARNIN'

Posted in Rants on October 28th, 2010 by Ed

Clint McCance, an elected board member of the Midland School District in the Arkansas Ozarks, does not like the gays. Thanks to some timely screen caps forwarded to The Advocate, the whole world is now aware of his colorful opinions on the subject. I'll quote him at length in just a moment.

I am but one of hundreds of bloggers who will express outrage at his opinions, although I will say little in terms of his "argument" because it is so self-evidently stupid. You do not need me or anyone else to tell you that this guy is a bigot and a dickhead.

What is not likely to be discussed, and what bothers me almost as much as his anti-gay ranting, is the fact that someone who is on a school board (and thus making decisions relevant to the education of our next generation of adults) writes at something approximating a 6th grade level. Here, Clint, let me grade this for you:

Seriously (sic; missing comma) they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves. The only way im wearin (sic) it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant (sic) believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves (sic) because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE. (…)

No because being a fag doesn't give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives (sic). If you get easily offended by being called a fag then dont (sic) tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself. I dont (sic) care how people decide to live their lives. They dont (sic) bother me if they keep it to thereselves (sic). It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags cant (sic) procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids (sic) and die. If you arent (sic) against it, you might as well be for it. (…)

I would disown my kids they were gay (sic). They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian (sic) beliefs. See it (sic) infects everyone. (???)

Yep.

When did it become acceptable for adults to communicate with one another like this? I don't suppose we should be surprised that someone with attitudes like this would turn out to be…well, not that bright, but no matter the content of one's message it continues to shock me how much difficulty we have making ourselves understood in some approximation of English these days. I realize that the average Northern Arkansan is unlikely to take great offense to McCance's remarks – hell, the majority probably agree with him but are smart enough to keep it off the internet. Nonetheless, I think we can raise the bar just a little and find someone who can construct a profane, ignorant rant that does not read like a 14 year old's YouTube comment.

(Again, not to downplay the offensiveness of his opinions. I just can't believe how stupid we sound irrespective of the substance and content.)

WASTING CAPITAL

Posted in Rants on October 27th, 2010 by Ed

Not known for its hard-hitting reporting these days, 60 Minutes actually has quite a heartbreaking piece up about people who have been on unemployment for 99 weeks with benefits set to expire soon (aka "99ers"). It introduces us to the usual cast of Great Recession characters – the former six-figure management type reduced to trips to the soup kitchen, the comfortable middle class people foreclosed and living in cars, etc. – but takes the extra step of pointing out the amount of education and supposedly relevant skills possessed by some of these long-term unemployed. People who have Ph.Ds or Master's Degrees in high-tech fields are exactly the kind of people who aren't supposed to be unemployed. In fact, the less educated unemployed are lectured at length about how they would not be unemployed if only they had acquired in-demand skills in high-tech fields. Yet they're standing next to one another in the same unemployment line.

The jarring part about their shared story is the long, painful process of adjusting their expectations downward. People who are gainfully employed and/or highly educated, when laid off, are likely to feel as the interviewees do: "Six months, tops, and I'll have a new job." The idea that 99 weeks – two years – and five hundred applications could pass without a job offer is difficult for people to grasp when they have done All the Right Things for their entire professional life. They've worked hard, they've been flexible, they've continued to acquire training and education, and they've been some approximation of responsible with their financial decisions. Surely, given 99 weeks, something will come up.

Well, no. Something won't. More accurately, when something does come up there will be 500 applicants for every open position, causing the odds of even the highly qualified to approach zero. I empathize with their plight, although I am terribly fortunate to have gainful employment (temporarily) while I search for a job relevant to my education. If I could go back three years and tell myself I would be on the job market for three years – and hey, let's just assume there will be a fourth – without a job offer I wouldn't believe it. Not that I think I'm hot shit (on the contrary, I understand that I am ordinary, unheated shit) but the odds that something wouldn't come up in three years? Implausible. Yet here we are. Like the 99ers, I am faced with the mathematical reality that every position for which I apply is getting 200-300 other applicants, all reasonably to supremely qualified. At absolute random my odds would be about 0.3%, and given the fact that the process is not truly random – surely the Harvard and Stanford folks have better odds – my chances aren't even that good. What can one do in this situation except continue to apply and get used to the reality that we'll soon be working service industry jobs that barely require a GED? My "99" will be up soon enough when my current position expires next year. I'd like to think I won't be picking up groceries from a food bank or cleaning the bathroom at Target, but I bet the college graduates doing that all over the country these days felt the same way right up to the moment when reality won out.

I understand the urge to blame the unemployed for unemployment. It's easy, and in some cases it even makes a sliver of sense. What I don't understand is how we can continue limping along in a system that turns employment into a PowerBall-like crapshoot irrespective of how many whiz-bangs and postgraduate degrees our demoralized workforce manages to acquire. The longstanding goal of conservative politics and economics is to create an America in which the top 5% of the population has phenomenal wealth while everyone else makes $9/hr with no benefits. They've been waiting patiently for their utopia since the 1970s, so I don't suppose that making them wait an extra 99 weeks is a big deal.

TOSS IT ON THE BONFIRE

Posted in Rants on October 26th, 2010 by Ed

Like many people of my ideological persuasion I have been quite critical of the Citizens United decision that allows essentially unlimited electioneering – namely spending on advertising – by non-campaign or -candidate groups. It has unarguably turned campaign finance, which was approaching Thunderdome before Citizens, into something at or perhaps even beyond Thunderdome. No one to the left of Mitch McConnell thinks this is a good development and we'll no doubt be seeing a $10 billion plus presidential election in 2012.

That said, I have been increasingly interested (in the context of my day job) in the question of what all of this money buys in elections. And the more I reflect upon and study the issue, the more convinced I become that the money would be just as productively used by throwing it on a raging bonfire.

I will not subject you to an extended review of the political science literature on the role of money in elections. Suffice it to say for these purposes that money is a necessary component of winning elections. Yet research also argues quite persuasively that money can't buy an election. So basically candidates need some non-zero amount of money but there is a threshold beyond which additional money accomplishes little to nothing.

Money buys useful things in elections. Any candidate for a statewide office (Senate, Governor, etc.) or legislative seat needs a certain amount of money to have a realistic shot at winning. That amount varies by the size and importance of the race, but the basic necessities vary little among offices: competent professional staff (campaign manager, volunteer coordinator, etc.), administrative and logistical costs, advertising, dealing with the media, and so on. These are the basics for any remotely Serious Congressional campaign or whatever. Beyond the nuts and bolts of office space, yard signs, staffers, mailers & phone banks, and the other basic costs of maintaining a campaign organization, the vast majority of additional money is spent on advertising. For non-campaign groups – the kind of independent organizations affected by Citizens United – the only relevant costs are advertising and some mobilization (GOTV) stuff.

Accordingly, asking whether money matters is essentially asking if advertising matters. Much like money, advertising has a threshold beyond which its marginal effects are indistinguishable from zero. There are different schools of thought on this issue, but my personal bias favors the argument that the threshold is very, very low. Advertising is good for name recognition and not much else. As you sit through the barrage of TV commercials for this year's candidates, ask yourself who is actually persuaded by any of this crap. Individuals' own preferences and partisan predispositions are an effective screen; in other words, any message from the opposite party is heavily discounted if not ignored altogether. If you're a Republican, you're going to tell yourself that anything in the Democrats' commercials is untrue and untrustworthy anyway.

But true independent/undecided voters could be persuaded, you say. Even if we accept the shaky premise that they will be persuaded by something as clearly lacking in credibility as a TV commercial, what does seeing the commercial 500 times accomplish that seeing it 10 times would not? I can accept that some voters – some – might legitimately be influenced by advertising no matter how ridiculous the commercials appear to the rest of us. But it is not at all clear that the ads are effective enough (or sufficiently effective with a sufficiently large portion of the electorate) to make any real difference.

Money matters. If nothing else it is a sign of legitimacy that scares away potential challengers and ensures that a candidate can do the bare minimum required to mount a campaign that could be considered serious. But it becomes difficult to get worked up about obscene levels of spending in our elections so much of it is spent on advertising, the marginal effects of which are extremely small beyond creating name recognition. In short, I am not convinced that George Soros or Tea Party USA spending half a billion dollars on commercials really has any impact on elections. Most of us don't pay any attention to them. For those who do, does seeing the same ad a few hundred additional times really matter?

The issue of campaign spending in a post-Citizens United world isn't really one of "buying" elections but of spending unfathomably large sums of money on the very slim odds that the very small group of voters who are persuaded by seeing a commercial a thousand times will be the deciding factor in a given race. I struggle to think of a less useful way to spend so much money.

Tags:

AND THEN…

Posted in Rants on October 25th, 2010 by Ed

Mike has a great piece up on the fallacy of austerity of a means of spurring economic growth. I encourage you to read it. Playing off of last week's discussion of the Magic Black Box theory offered by Carly Fiorina and Ron Johnson, let's do a quick thought experiment on this topic.

It's the morning after the election. Teabagger America has delivered. The GOP has won not only the seats predicted before the election but dozens and dozens more. Almost every Democrat in America has lost. When the new Congress is sworn in on January 3rd it will have 75 Republicans in the Senate and 380 in the House.

Immediately the new GOP Supermajority goes to work on the Federal budget, just as they promised. Through a series of cuts ranging from the draconian to the merely brutal they manage to debride the budget of over $1.3 trillion in just a few short weeks. Although it seems unthinkable now, the budget is successfully brought into balance. Huzzahs abound.

So, great. Now what? (Cue the Dude, Where's My Car "And then…" skit.)

What changes? What gets better? No one has been willing or able to explain what the benefits of "lower spending" will be, either in the real-world or abstract economics textbook sense. The Ron Johnsons of the world can't explain how their magical remedy will reduce unemployment. I mean, are there businesses in the U.S. right now that aren't able to hire because the Federal government spends too much money, especially bearing in mind that a vast portion of the private sector depends on government contracts? How will the balanced budget make up for, let alone stimulate, the drop in consumer demand that will result from kicking millions of people off of their current benefits (which would presumably be necessary) such as unemployment compensation, Social Security, and so on?

This dilemma speaks directly to a fundamental misunderstanding – or should I say misrepresentation – of the core economic issues in the current crisis. Unemployment is not high because of the deficit. Interest rates aren't high because of the deficit. In fact, they aren't high at all. They're mind-numbingly low, with 30-year fixed rates available at just over 3% and the Federal funds rate still pegged at zero. Property values have not plummeted because Congress spends too much. The only relationship between the Federal budget and any of these problems is that they would be worse if Washington and our various state capitols were not propping up a sizable portion of our economy.

The problem, the one whose name we dare not speak, is that 30 years of stagnant wages (except for the top 10%, they're doing great!) have killed demand. The void was filled with cheap, easy credit concurrent to political and technological changes that persuaded growing industries to expand in China or India rather than in the United States. And that's why this whole argument is so very, very stupid independently of the absurd notion that Republicans are going to do anything but nibble at our budgetary issues. Congress spending less doesn't solve any of these problems. Cutting taxes? Yes, that might provide a cheap, transient bump in demand, which will certainly be a boon to the Chinese factories churning out all of our consumer products. And then?

NPF: CLASSICS

Posted in No Politics Friday, Quick Hits on October 22nd, 2010 by Ed

I am having a really difficult time thinking of non-depressing things to talk about on Fridays. That's probably not a good sign, but three years and 100-something applications into my search for a real academic job – now with the added bonus of living 500 miles away from anyone I know – I think I'm down to being happy or some faint approximation thereof for about 20 minutes per week. If that doesn't happen to fall on a Thursday evening…well, NPF turns into an uphill climb.

So, yeah. Here's something I wrote last summer. It has lots of poop jokes and it's pretty funny. Enjoy that. I have to devote some quality time to mulling over my numerous attractive career options.

CARLY'S MAGIC BOX

Posted in Rants on October 21st, 2010 by Ed

A tale of two Teabaggers explaining their detailed platform for governing while on the campaign trail. First, Carly Fiorina (via TBogg) with Chris Wallace of noted liberal network Fox News:

WALLACE: But forgive me, Miss Fiorina, where are you going to cut entitlements? What benefits are you going to cut? What eligibility are you doing..

FIORINA: Chris, I have to say, with all due respect, you’re asking a typical political question.[...]

WALLACE: It may be a typical political question but that’s where the money is. The money is in Medicare and Social Security. We have baby-boomers coming. There will be a huge explosion of entitlement explosion and you call it a political question when I ask you to name one single entitlement you are willing to cut.

FIORINA: Chris, I believe to deal with entitlement reform, which we must deal with, we ought to put every possible solution on the table, except we should be very clear we are not going to cut benefits to those nearing retirement or those nearing retirement or those in retirement.[...]

WALLACE: I’m going to try one last time, and if you don’t want to answer it, Miss Fiorina, you don’t have to.

FIORINA: It’s not a question of not wanting to answer it!

Next, see Ron Johnson in a rare media interview (Mitch McConnell and the NRSC have done an excellent job of keeping him hidden so no one hears him talk) with a Green Bay newspaper that has endorsed Russ Feingold's opponent in 3 consecutive elections. No transcript, but the short 65 second video is subtitled if you don't have sound. Via my friend DJ:

Note the endearing shrug when they ask him "What about the middle class?"

So, let's review the Fiorina/Johnson plan for solving our most pressing political and economic issues. First, Fiorina on entitlement spending:

1. Promise not to touch benefits for the current elderly that the GOP so badly needs to appease, not to mention keep angry at the colored guy with the taxes and whatnot
2. Put "all options on the table"
3. *SOMETHING MAGICAL AND MYSTERIOUS HAPPENS*
4. The entitlement spending problem is solved!!!!

I see. Now, Ron Johnson on creating jobs:

1. Cut "spending." Of some sort.
2. *PUT EVERYTHING INTO THE BLACK BOX OF SECRETS*
3. Unemployment over!

This is the basic GOP/Teabagger/Wingnut Blogger strategy for the last several years – offer some vague policy prescription, vehemently refuse to provide any specifics or acknowledge the numbers/facts of the situation, put everything into a magic box in which something happens, and PROBLEM SOLVED! They know that the Federal budget can't be balanced with spending cuts unless they're going to eliminate, say, the military AND Medicare. And I mean completely eliminate them. Zero. They know that all they're going to do is nibble at the edges, making a few cuts that will make absolutely no difference whatsoever – and then negating them with an equal or greater increase in spending on their precious, precious military.

What happens in Carly's Magic Box is anyone's guess, but in a movement in which the means (cutting taxes, deregulation, etc.) have become the ends, I'd sure like to get a peek inside to see how these "solutions" they propose transmogrify into the outcomes they promise.

CAREY ROBERTS GETS AN FJM TREATMENT, A PAUL HARVEY ANTHOLOGY, AND A NICE GLASS OF PRUNE JUICE

Posted in Rants on October 20th, 2010 by Ed

I try to resist the temptation to go slogging around through the sewers of the internet looking for things to dissect, and in fact it is rarely necessary. The mainstream cadre of wingnut bloggers and columnists are so tenuously tethered to reality that they provide all the stupid I could ever hope to FJM in a lifetime. But beyond "respectable" wingnuts like Malkin, Coulter, Beck, etc. – the kind who are clearly insane yet still regularly invited onto news shows – there is another layer of crazy, a wingnuttosphere so wacky that even most Republicans dare not make eye contact with it.

In the brown, sticky layer of detritus on the bottom of the internet barrel there are sites like Renew America to bring us the thoughts of people who might have politely been asked to leave a John Birch Society meeting for being too crazy. Long story short, I was weak and I succumbed to the temptation to go on a canned hunt. I bring you Renew America's Carey Roberts ("Carey Roberts is an analyst and commentator on political correctness. His best-known work was an expose on Marxism and radical feminism.") in his revelatory new piece "2010 Will Be the Year of the Man." Isn't it about time men had a year?

Before we proceed, please be aware that this is Carey Roberts:

Oh hell yeah. It's about to get all crazy up in hee-are.

"Granddad, why are all those football players wearing pink shoes?" That was the topic of conversation this past Monday evening as my 13-year-old grandson and I watched the star-crossed Minnesota Vikings take on the New York Jets.

"Because they're a bunch of homos, Billy. Back in my day, gridiron warriors didn't need all these helmets and pads…in any color! Bronko Nagurski! Now that was a football player. This Favre fellow looks like a poof. Look! Look right there! He's a-tryin' to give the center a reacharound!"

"I think he's just lining up to take the snap, Granddad."

"Horsefeathers! Can't you tell a homo when you see one? Why they're practically humping right there on the field!"

I sagely explained that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. His logical mind now ratcheting into overdrive, he tried to pin me down: "So when do the players wear blue shoes for prostate cancer awareness?"

I don't think he knows what "sagely" means.

Carey, I don't know you. And I'm not going to call you a liar. Wait, yes I am. There is no way in hell that this was your 13 year old grandson's response. None. It's going to turn out that you don't even have a grandson and this whole conversation took place in your head, isn't it? You know, like Fight Club. I'm sure you've read Fight Club.

That proved to be a harder question.

A) Because the season is 4 months long and they can't devote a month to every possible disease that needs curing
B) The Komen Foundation is incredibly well-organized and media savvy

The most time consuming part of coming to this conclusion was typing it. All told I'd say it took 10 to 12 seconds from question to typed answer.

In 1992, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Patty Murray, and Carol Moseley Braun swept into the Senate in dramatic fashion, instantly inspiring the catch-phrase, "Year of the Woman." After the 1992 influx, female legislators continued to score steady gains, and now represent 17% of lawmakers, by interesting coincidence in both the Senate and the House.

Yes, it certainly was dramatic, the fashion in which these women swept into the Senate. Murray arrived in a burning, crash landing 737 from which she parachuted into the Capitol moments before it exploded. Moseley Braun leaped the Potomac on a dirt bike before barrel-rolling into the White House and crushing two Mountain Dew cans on her forehead. Feinstein was held hostage by the Shining Path. Boxer walked into the Senate calmly defusing a bomb.

(By the way, "interesting coincidence" is wingnut speak for "insidious conspiracy.")

But this coming November 2, the number of women in Congress is predicted to decline, the first time that's happened since 1978. David Wasserman, analyst at the non-partisan Cook Political Report, is now forecasting the number of females in the House will drop by 5-10 persons. In the Senate, the current count of 17 female lawmakers will be lucky to hold its own. Although the Chicken-Littles are already yelping about the impending social calamity, the reasons for this sudden reversal of political fortune deserve scrutiny.

Has anyone – ANYONE – thought about this for one second over the past year? Has anyone written or even thought about this election in terms of the gender balance in Congress?

Carey, I'd say your guess about why this is happening is as good as mine. I would say that, but unless your guess is "Female Democrats happen to be running in states in which things look good for Republicans," your guess is nowhere near as good as mine.

First and foremost, women are more likely than men to be of the liberal persuasion.

Really? After all the GOP has done to reach out to women? Apparently the ladies of this great nation haven't been paying enough attention to incontinent old men who write exposes of radical Marxist-feminism!

As columnist Allison Brown once put it, "Most women are natural socialists."

*spit take*

Well, the word of columnist Allison Brown is all the evidence I will ever need. Where is she a columnist, you ask? Why, LewRockwell.com, of course! The refuge of people who get kicked out of the Ron Paul movement for being bonkers. One step up from writing op-eds in the Michigan Militia's monthly newsletter. Yes, that LewRockwell.com. Members who sign up today receive a free 30-round magazine (5.56 NATO) and an email telling them when and where they are to report for their mandatory blowjob of a transvestite prostitute made up to look like Murray Rothbard.

That fact doesn't sit very well with a disaffected electorate that has been moving steadily to embrace the tenets of conservative philosophy.

'Bout time we give conservatism a try in this country!

It wasn't too many years ago, of course, that female candidates openly voiced the view that female lawmakers are more trust-worthy and less corrupt than their greedy male counterparts. Remember Hillary Clinton's chestnut that "Research shows the presence of women raises the standards of ethical behavior"? Hillary's declamation was instantly self-refuting, of course, in light her notorious Travelgate incident, cattle futures scam, and other ethical escapades.

Travelgate? Travelgate?!?!?! Jesus Christ, Carey. I realize that your cultural reference points are all from the Harding years, but bringing up the B-list Clinton era scandals, the ones no one cared about when they happened…which was twenty years ago??

And remember Nancy Pelosi's vow to run the "most ethical and honest Congress in history"? Then came the steady drumbeat of Democratic congressmen and women who were discovered to be delinquent on their taxes, forgetful with asset disclosure forms, or deceitful in funneling scholarship monies to family members.

Conservatives really believe strongly in paying their taxes. Really, ask Joe Miller, he'll tell you all about it. They are also above nepotism. Ask Bill Kristol. And they would never "forget" several million dollars in assets on disclosure forms. Ask Nathan Deal.

It's a political truism that fiscal conservativism appeals primarily to men. According to an April 18 Pew poll, 52% of men, compared to only 42% of women, favor cutting back government programs.

I like political truisms, like the one that statistics like this are only used to justify arguments by lazy hacks who don't understand how little numbers like these actually mean. But congrats on being able to use Google to sift through old surveys until finding one that says what you want it to say, Carey! That's more computer-savvy than I expected from you.

For the millions of men who gave the nod to Barack Obama two years ago, the turning point was the news that Obama had jiggered the stimulus package to favor school teachers, social workers, and other female-dominated government jobs, leaving millions of unemployed male factory hands and construction-workers holding the bag. Shuttling millions of formerly well-paid men onto the welfare rolls — that's what progressives call "social justice." And that's what Barack Obama meant when he told Joe the Plumber, "when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

Is this a joke? Does Carey Roberts exist or is he the creation of some smart-assed journalism grad students in Brooklyn? Obama's plan was…to screw over men? To…favor women? By "jiggering" the stimulus package (from Congress) to favor "female-dominated government jobs"?

As a result, the perennial gender gap has tacked strongly in favor of men. "Men make up a larger share of the likely voter pool," according to Quinnipiac pollster Doug Schwartz. This year is "among the bigger gender gaps we've seen," reveals Democratic pollster Celina Lake. And a Marist poll conducted last month found 48% of Republican men were "very enthusiastic" about voting, while only 28% of Democratic women rated themselves in like manner.

In January, we saw the gender gap bare its hairy chest in Massachusetts race. While 52% of the female electorate pulled the lever for Democrat Martha Coakley, 60% of the smaller but more unified male vote swung sharply in favor of Republican Scott Brown, handing the political unknown a stunning upset victory.

According to a statistic I just made up for this post, 64% of gay Hindus preferred the Delta Airlines in-flight meal over any of its competitors. However, follow-up studies show that they were less satisfied with their flight experience if the in-flight movie featured Mary Steenburgen.

But hey, this guy really knows how to selectively use poll data. That's not something you're born knowing how to do. It's a skill, and it can only be acquired through a diligent regimen of practice and barium enemas.

Commenting on recent presidential races, former Brandeis University professor Linda Hirshman explains, "With the possible exception of 1996, women have never voted a candidate into the White House when men thought the other guy should win."

Meaning…what?

Now back to the pink football cleats, pink gloves, pink chin straps, pink wrist and biceps bands, pink-crested baseball caps, pink towels, pink lapel ribbons, and of course the pink-themed Half-Time Show.

THANK GOD! I NEED CLOSURE ON THIS ANECDOTE! But seriously, check out these Pro Writing chops. Start the column with an anecdote, and then…wait for it…conclude by returning to it! Begin and end with the same pointless, made-up anecdote involving an utterly implausible conversation between Carey Roberts and his imaginary grandson named, for the sake of argument, Gulliver.

Seriously, why isn't the National Football League giving equal play to prostate cancer? After all, funding for prostate cancer has long lagged behind research for breast cancer. "Answer that question," I counseled my droopy-eyed grandson, "And you'll understand why 2010 is destined to be the Year of the Man."

Yes, that makes perfect sense. Yes, yes, of course. Tell me more.

*slowly lures Roberts toward a waiting van*

I know, I hear the voices too. Yes, I see that Gulliver's eyes are droopy. No, I don't know why. Why do you think they're droopy, Carey?

*prepares to drop giant net on the disoriented man shambling across his lawn*

Yes, I promise we'll take you to a male doctor. He's so male, it hurts. His name is Sergeant Ian Bonesteel and he doesn't cure diseases, he punches them. No, there won't be any women in the hospital. I know, I know, they're all Bitches, Granddad. You've warned me many times. Yes, we've heard all about the prostitute who gave you the Drip on that island after the Battle of Corregidor. Yes, we know you don't believe in insurance; Dr. Bonesteel accepts payment in buried yard gold. Just relax, Granddad. Relax. Here, have another prune. That's the best cure for what has you so cranky.

Tags:

UNEXPECTED REACTIONS

Posted in Rants on October 19th, 2010 by Ed

By now I'm sure you've heard this story about private security working for Teabagger Senate candidate Joe Miller (R-AK) handcuffing and detaining a credentialed reporter for attempting to ask the candidate a question. The reporter was not injured and, I shit you not, he was freed by the police when they arrived to politely inform Joe Miller's private security that they can't handcuff and detain reporters. The incident has predictably brought Miller negative attention.

The most shocking thing is that the right-wing media have harshly condemned the behavior of Miller and his staff. The Weekly Standard referred to the security personnel as "assailants." Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller called them "thugs" who "roughed up" the reporter. Sean Hannity, of all people, noted, "By the way, I want to just – this is the part where you're holding up your credentials. He's obviously getting in your face. He's being overly aggressive. And then, you know, you obviously have the right to walk on a street, don't you?"

Wait.

Wait one second. I'm getting confused in my old age. Those comments are actually from January 13, 2009 when Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack tripped over himself after Martha Coakley staffer Michael Meehan got in his face.

While it was clearly over the line to get in McCormack's face, the wingnuttosphere quickly turned the incident into the My Lai Massacre. The Weekly Standard called Meehan an "assailant" while going with a misleading photo rather than the video, which shows…well, nothing, really. Daily Caller tried to bolster its daily readership of 13 people by going for over-the-top sensationalism, calling Meehan a "thug" who "roughed up" McCormack even though the reporter claimed nothing of the sort. Hannity suddenly discovered the concept of constitutional rights, patronizingly reminding us that McCormack has a 1st Amendment right to ask questions and wander down a public street.

Oddly enough, none of them have come to the defense of Alaska Dispatch reporter Tony Hopfinger. They are strangely silent on Hopfinger's right to attend an event at a public grade school and ask questions and quite eager, parroting the official line from the Miller campaign, to depict Hopfinger as some sort of deranged maniac in thrall of his own bloodlust and looking for the most efficient way to behead Miller and consume his spleen. Check out this incoherent and customarily grammatically flawed response from K-Lo, who also violated basic journalistic ethics by declining to disclose that she has accepted gifts from the Miller campaign (namely a 6-gallon tub of expired neopolitan ice cream)

It is life and death for some entrenched powers in Alaska and the incident involving Joe Miller’s security and a website editor is probably making their day. Reading some of the accounts of it, I truly don’t envy Miller.

Joe Miller is in many ways the epitome of the tea party this year. He’s taken on the establishment in Lisa Murkowski. The establishment has said “how dare you!” not just to Miller, but Republican primary voters. Joe Miller desperately wants to talk about policy issues and what he would do in the Senate because he believes America’s future depends on decisions being made in Washington. He sees a lot of injustice around him, in politics, in coverage, in resources, and he’s trying to get a handle on it all, having to do so under many hostile, watchful eyes.

I think the former Army officer would make an excellent senator, and I talk a bit about his recent drop-by NR-DC in my syndicated columnist this week. I hope enough Alaskans get to hear from him and his appreciation of the stakes in this election before they vote.

*slurpslurpslurp*

She came up for air a few hours later to post yet another uncritical regurgitation of Miller's curious version of the events.

So very strange that a Constitutional Conservative like Miller – not to mention his media cheerleaders – have suddenly forgotten their deeply-held convictions about how the media should be treated.