Hi, everyone!

I had such a damn good post planned for today. Long story short, after a few days of neither eating nor sleeping I couldn't muster the energy. Oh, don't worry. I didn't sleep instead of writing. I just stayed up preparing for (another godforsaken) conference and trying mightily to decide two key questions:

1. Should my conference presentation be given in the voice of a 1930s newsreel narrator (fast talkin', high trousers) or a Victorian era carny barker?

2. Is there any conceivable reason for me to continue getting out of bed in the morning?

(Trick question. I'm rarely in a bed.)

Anyway, I'll try to get this oversold post written at some point today, hot and ready to underwhelm your elevated expectations.


Since the posts from Monday and Tuesday are traveling well and I am on my way out of town for a(nother godforsaken) conference, I'll be brief today.

One of my new favorite hobbies is reading the comment sections of news stories on local newspapers' websites. In particular I am infatuated with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel comment sections, as I have been reading their site regularly for Walker-related updates. Generally speaking, though, I've found that the comments get more amazing in inverse proportion to the size of the newspaper. Sheboygan Daily Haystack > Journal-Sentinel > Wall Street Journal.

We all know that internet comment sections tend to be a crapshoot, from excellent on low-volume blogs to soul-crushing on megasites like YouTube, Yahoo News, and so on. I continue to maintain that YouTube comments are where hope for humanity goes to die. At least we can reassure ourselves that many YouTubers are children; on AOL/Yahoo type news items they are adults, legally if not mentally.

As I read through Journal-Sentinel comments – consider this excellent thread on the Walker-fake Koch prank call story – I am preoccupied with the same question: Who are these people? I mean, what is the profile of a person who sits around all day posting comments on the poorly trafficked website of a local newspaper?

In my mind I break this demographic down into three categories:

1. The elderly. Having finally figured out how to work the internets but not how to make their children call them to listen to inane ranting, they direct said ranting at what they imagine to be a large audience that treats their words with the reverence due true wisdom.

2. Shut-ins. I picture a 475 pound laid-off welder at a screen door factory in Menominee, WI running the electricity in his double-wide off a hotwired pile of stolen truck batteries, furiously pounding away at the keyboard on his 2002-vintage Gateway Internet PC. Mountains of anger, rage, and misspelling incarnate.

3. Fat-assed suburban right wingers posting from their cubicles at Midstate Office Supply about how lazy union workers are. The irony of being on the clock at work while wasting hours on end on the internet – stealing, in essence – does not occur to them. Many of them are fundamentalists and not terribly bright, and fundamentalism + stupidity = complete inability to appreciate irony.

I feel like there is something I'm missing. But seriously, this is worth repeating: Who are these people???


This new breed of Teabagger governors is really something special. We are fortunate to live in an era in which the political class is so committed to radical change. It's exciting. Fresh. Exhilarating. Behold one of the greatest visionaries, Florida's Governor Rick Scott. The ex-hospital executive and lipless chemotherapy patient faces an uphill battle against recalcitrant, entrenched public sector unions who stand in the way of Progress. I think he's up for the challenge. Don't you?

One of Scott's campaign promises was rapidly fulfilled on Monday when Florida's legislature passed a bill tying teacher salaries to student performance – particularly student performance on standardized tests. Teachers, regardless of seniority, may also be fired if their students' three-year average standardized test scores are judged unsatisfactory . Scott hailed the law as a way to reward the best educators in the state and to create incentives to excel in the classroom. It's a great idea. What's more, its passage bodes well for a number of nearly identical measures soon to be considered in the Florida legislature:

1. A pending bill proposes a performance-based pay system for police officers throughout the Sunshine State. If the crime rate fails to improve based on rolling three-year averages, officers can be fired. They'll all be working on year-to-year contracts without seniority benefits. Bonuses will be paid to officers who make the most arrests. Legislators believe that the new merit-based rules will encourage officers to follow the law scrupulously and suppress the crime rate for which police are responsible.

2. A proposed Senate bill will create an incentive-based salary structure for trash collectors. Since landfill space is an unwelcome expense (and rapidly diminishing resource) for municipal governments, the new rules will reward garbage men for completing their routes while using the least possible landfill volume. State Republicans believe that the law will encourage waste disposal workers to innovate and develop new means of reducing the volume of trash generated by Floridians.

3. Two radical new laws are experimenting with ways of altering the compensation structure of state firefighters. One plan, soon to be implemented in a pilot program in Bradenton, will pay firefighters for each fire they extinguish. Logically, rewarding firefighters for each fire they put out will ensure diligent work with no conceivable negative impact on the number of fires that occur. A separate program (currently testing in Opa-Locka) takes a different approach, terminating the contracts of firefighters who allow buildings to burn down or for fatalities to occur in fires. This makes sense, as firefighters are ultimately the people who control outcomes in this area.

4. House Bill 415 creates a pay-for-performance system for the Governor, State Supreme Court, and legislature. Governors will receive no salary if the state unemployment rate increases on their watch, which is fair inasmuch as Governors are tasked with determining unemployment rates. The court will pay judges by the case and terminate lower-level judges whose cases are overturned on appeal more often than average. Legislators will be paid on a similar per-bill system, with penalties for failing to meet a 500 bill per session quota.

5. Florida Gators football coach Will Muschamp, the highest paid state employee in Florida at $2,500,000 annually, will have his contract restructured to a complicated formula based on wins, time of possession, and successfully executed fake punts. Broadly speaking, Muschamp will earn roughly $100,000 per Gators victory, potentially saving the cash-strapped state over $1,000,000 annually.

6. In the event of a failed citrus crop, Florida Agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam will receive no salary for that calendar year. A successful citrus crop is the responsibility of Commissioner Putnam and his office.

7. The Florida Department of Children and Families will face budgetary cuts for each fiscal year in which the percentage of abused children in the state rises above the national average at the state level. The Cato Institute described this incentive-based scheme as the best way to guarantee a safe childhood and home environment to as many young Floridians as possible, as the FDCF will have the strongest incentives to get out there and combat child abuse.

Gov. Scott has barely scratched the surface. If the potential of pay-for-performance government is Mount Everest, the recent restructuring of teacher compensation and tenure is just a few pebbles in your driveway! By understanding all of the relevant mechanisms of causality and assigning responsibility to the appropriate actors, government can not only operate more efficiently and save money but also provide the very best services to its constituents – without exception or compromise.


Many years ago I was dating someone with whom I did not see eye to eye on the topic of movies. Her taste in that area, to be blunt, was very bad. She favored the chick flick romantic comedy aimed primarily at a female audience. After about a dozen terrible movies over the course of a year I was fairly upset. I felt like the choice of movies in relationships is a joint responsibility and the opposing party was letting down its end of the bargain. I decided it was time to send a message. "Look," I said, "I think it's only fair that I get to pick a movie for once."

With all the subtlety of an Oliver Stone film, I decided to make my point by picking the worst, most obviously ridiculous movie in theaters at the time. Which explains why I found myself in a theater watching Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor. The point was made but I was not happy.

The problem was twofold. First, in my spiteful effort to make a point I gave Michael Bay $20 and indirectly encouraged him to continue making movies. I am not proud of that. Second, and more importantly, it's not as though I administered this punishment from a safe distance. I had to sit in that theater too. About 90 seconds into the movie my mood shifted rapidly from "Ha ha! Revenge is mine!" to "OK, now I have to sit through Pearl Harbor." It's like four fucking hours long.

Revenge is never as rewarding as we expect it to be. We do something out of anger and more often than not we end up punishing ourselves in the long run. This anecdote has been stuck in my head for the past few months as the results of the anger-driven 2010 elections have played out.

I understand exactly why voters would vote for people like Paul LePage, John Kasich, Scott Walker, and so on to run their states. I understand why they would send Mark Kirk and Ron Johnson to the Senate. It makes a very clear statement: "Screw you, Democrats. We're mad at you and we'll vote for just about anyone else to send a message." There is little doubt that this strategy works – losing 55 House seats, several Governors' mansions, and six Senators is enough to make any political party snap to attention.

The problem is, it took about 30 seconds to make the point. And now they have to live with these ass clowns for four more years.

Scott Walker might not last much longer than a year. Paul "What Maine really needs is lax child labor laws, or perhaps none" LePage. Ohioans, who spent the 00s wildly swinging back and forth between the GOP and Democrats, have enjoyed just three months into Kasichnomics yet it feels like three years. In LePage's defense, though, he has created employment opportunities for unskilled workers. By hiring his daughter as a $41,000 clerical worker.

I don't live in a state with tendencies toward either liberalism or introspection, but I have to imagine that there are some Wisconsinites, Ohioans, Mainers, and so on who are feeling a bit of buyer's remorse at the moment. Of course there are thousands of voters who are perfectly happy with the decision they made and the way their new elected officials have performed. At the same time, I imagine there are quite a few who voted angry and are just now figuring out what they've gotten themselves into. Too bad they're stuck in the theater for a couple more years.


Thanks to an appearance on Boing Boing, this odd piece from an 1870 London Daily News report has been making the rounds on the interwebs. It appears that the British journalist Henry Labouchere was in Paris during the siege that eventually brought the Franco-Prussian War to conclusion. Fortunately this war resolved tensions between France and Germany once and for all.

Parisians, like many peoples subjected to wartime siege tactics, discovered that food runs out alarmingly quickly. During the Civil War residents of Vicksburg were reduced to eating wallpaper paste by the Union siege. In Paris they may not have been eating mucilage but by no means were they eating the usual delicacies of French cooking. The menu shifted from pork, veal, fish, and fowl to…more exotic fare. Labouchere offered a culinary review of the bill of fare:

* Horse: “eaten in the place of beef … a little sweeter … but in other respects much like it”
* Cat: “something between rabbit and squirrel, with a flavor all its own”
* Donkey: “delicious — in color like mutton, firm and savory”
* Kittens: “either smothered in onions or in a ragout they are excellent”
* Rat: “excellent — something between frog and rabbit”
* Spaniel: “something like lamb, but I felt like a cannibal”

I can see why this gained traction around the internet as a news-of-the-weird item, but let's up the ante a bit. I am reminded of another journalist, William Seabrook, who had traveled extensively among the less developed areas of the world in the early 20th Century. Along the way he encountered many indigenous peoples who practiced cannibalism and he developed something of a morbid (*rimshot*) curiosity. He asked a friend at a medical school in Paris (side note: What the fuck, Paris?) to provide him with a piece of a recently deceased man who died in an accident (side side note: If you are a medical student and someone asks this of you, do not say yes). After consuming the meat in a variety of preparations, he reported:

It was like good, fully developed veal, not young, but not yet beef. It was very definitely like that, and it was not like any other meat I had ever tasted. It was so nearly like good, fully developed veal that I think no person with a palate of ordinary, normal sensitiveness could distinguish it from veal. It was mild, good meat with no other sharply defined or highly characteristic taste such as for instance, goat, high game, and pork have. The steak was slightly tougher than prime veal, a little stringy, but not too tough or stringy to be agreeably edible. The roast, from which I cut and ate a central slice, was tender, and in color, texture, smell as well as taste, strengthened my certainty that of all the meats we habitually know, veal is the one meat to which this meat is accurately comparable.

So, yeah. Keep that in mind the next time the Channel 58 Local News does an exposé on designer shampoos.


I am not exactly a grizzled veteran as a teacher, but I do have a few years under my belt at this point. While I am not yet as good at it as I need to be, I'm beyond the point of having trainwreck moments in the classroom. It's rare that I am at a loss for words or without a clear plan of what to cover that day. Today that happened, although the story isn't as entertaining as you might hope.

In my campaigns class we are talking about positioning the candidate – creating a brand and carving out a niche relative to the other candidates. We discussed this using the 2012 GOP field as examples. You know, Mitt Romney is the successful businessman with enough leadership skills to win elections in Massachusetts. Tim Pawlenty is a non-Mormon, less blow dried Romney. Huckabee is the flag-bearer for evangelical Christians. Haley Barbour is the good ol' boy party insider. Ron Paul is the libertarian. You get the idea.

Then we got to Sarah Palin.

No one was sure what to say about which issue Palin "owns" or the niche she carved out. Someone half-jokingly said "woman." When no one put forward a serious answer it fell to me to make the point. And suddenly I realized that I have absolutely no idea how to explain what Sarah Palin stands for…at least not in a classroom setting. What issue does she have any mastery over? What issue does she even talk about consistently, even if not well? Where is she located in ideological space? How can we even vaguely describe what she stands for?

This stuck with me for some time after class. Is it the social issues? Lots of Republican politicians have identical positions or stronger. She certainly has next to no grasp of foreign or economic policy. Yet we have to admit that she has a loyal following even if the mainstream GOP is waking up to the reality that she's poison. What are Palin and the Palin Crowd really about? We all intuitively understand it, but it's pretty difficult to put into words.

I came up with two answers, neither entirely satisfactory.

First, if Barack Obama says the sky is blue, she says it's green. Palin is about complete and consistent opposition to all things Obama. She loudly leads the charge against the dark-skinned secret Muslim usurper and underminer of the Constitution. She represents Real 'Mericans who know what a Real 'Merican looks like, and Barry Obama ain't it.

Second, and tied to the first point, Palin is essentially the American equivalent of European and Asian ultra-nationalist movements. Palin is about the politics of blood, of national identity. Sarah Palin isn't about a policy or an ideology; she is about American exceptionalism and restoring Real America to its rightful place in the world (and Real Americans to their rightful place in America, of course). To support Palin is to demand that the American social order of the 1950s (or earlier) be restored, that white folk with no fancy book-learnin' be placed once again on the altar and worshipped for their salt-of-the-Earthiness. A vote for Palin is a vote to return to the Disneyland, Leave It to Beaver fantasy of an idealized white Christian America of years past – mowed lawns, picket fences, two Ford freedom, and so on. This is to be Ours, as We are Americans and You are not.

Now if I can only think of a neutral classroom-appropriate way of describing Palinism as an American spin on the platform of your average Central Asian nationalist party. But honestly, what else is it but an affirmation that We are the chosen people and all would be righted if only our society was structured around that fact?


Sometimes I am reminded that I've been doing this for a long, long time. Like when I remember an old post on an obscure subject, search it out, and discover that it's from 2005.

Yes, many years ago I wrote about why I was not impressed by the dire predictions from right-wing thinkers about the military growth of China. That old post was mostly an excuse to show a funny video of a shitty Chinese SUV being crash tested and crumpling like a Dixie cup in a 40 mph collision. While no one can question the manufacturing capacity of China, the nation's business and economic culture has yet to show that it can innovate or build things that aren't disposable.

While we don't hear much these days about the Chinese military taking over the world (with knockoffs of 1980s Soviet designs) we do spend quite a bit of time worrying that they will conquer America and the rest of the Western world economically. We constantly fear that they will take not only manual labor but white collar jobs as more Chinese students receive educations identical to their American, Japanese, and European counterparts. Alarmingly, Chinese industry is starting to make inroads into high-tech areas of manufacturing – aerospace, precision electronics, etc. – previously thought to be off limits. Most recently, the media has run a number of alarming "Oh no, the Chinamen are a-comin'!" stories about Chinese automaker BYD, which is set to become the first Chinese car company to go on sale in the U.S. next year with its rumored low cost, long range (~150 miles) electric car.

Here's the problem. Even when they wade into high-end manufacturing, Chinese business culture seems to be built on three basic principles:

1. Steal old designs from Western manufacturers
2. Reverse engineer it down to the last screw, and make a cheap, cut-rate version of every component
3. Assemble a final product without the slightest regard for safety and durability

What comes next is the real golden rule of Chinese business strategy: It doesn't matter how much it sucks because someone will buy it. Someone will always buy it if it's cheap enough. Is that someone the American or European consumer? That's pretty doubtful. It turns out (thanks again, Wikileaks!) that the Warren Buffett-backed BYD isn't much different from other Chinese automakers without American capitalist patrons. The EV design complies with "Chinese intellectual property law" – which, if you know anything about Chinese industry, is about the funniest phrase imaginable. Can it beat a lawsuit in a U.S. courtroom? Oh, and apparently the doors fall off if you slam them too hard.

European buyers have already had a brief experience with Chinese automaker Brilliance Automotive, whose death traps were sold between 2008 and 2010 on the continent. Western consumers will buy a Chinese t-shirt, Chinese plastic crap from Wal-Mart, and even Chinese consumer electronics…because all of those products, even a relatively expensive TV, are considered essentially disposable in our society. If a TV works for 3 years and then craps out, we just buy another one. A car is a major purchase for the non-wealthy (and the wealthy sure as hell aren't going to buy a Chinese compact car) and it's hard to see the market, even if prices are ridiculously low, for cars that work for a year and then give up the ghost.

Then again, that worked for GM, Ford, and Chrysler for 40 years. *rimshot*

Rather than end on that hugely hilarious joke, lest we get carried away mocking the limits of China's ability to conquer the U.S. economically we should note well what the Koreans have done in a very short timeframe. Ten years ago Korean cars – Hyundai, Kia, Daewoo, etc. – were the crap stuck to the bottom of the shoe of the auto industry. In a very, very short amount of time those manufacturers have figured out how to make great products and first Ford/GM and now Toyota & Honda are scared shitless of Hyundai and its avalanche of cheap, high quality products. China could figure things out someday and make a similar turnaround. But until we see some sign of that happening, it's probably safe to scale back the "China's taking over the world!" hysteria.


So help me Jeebus, I was going to try to FJM this but…I just…can't. Hopefully by the time you get to the end you will understand why.

First, nothing that greets the reader with this is going to be good. I dare you to click to enlarge it.

Yes, apparently World Nut Daily now brings us the unfiltered, unedited thoughts of former bad comedienne and current bloated corpse Victoria Jackson. Ordinarily I'd go with excerpts but I wouldn't want you to miss any of the good parts.

Frankly, I'm afraid to say anything about Muslims. Why? Because they kill people.

Maybe that's why the liberals kiss up to them – fear. I can't wait to see Katie Couric do a story on the new Muslim women's magazine al-Qaida just put out!

Katie: Why, look at this! "Al Shamikha." It means "The Majestic Woman"! What a lovely magazine!

Veiled Woman (only eyes showing): Yes, this is our new magazine.

Katie: It's so beautiful! And glossy! And the articles are so relevant! Here's a beauty tip! Stay indoors and veiled at all times. Your skin will look like baby skin! Oh! I should try that! I have all these freckles!

Veiled Woman: Yes. Our ways should be everyone's ways.

Katie: Oh! And, look! How to raise a suicide bomber! I could use that! I've never thought of … well, too bad my girls are already grown! Maybe I can use this on my grandchildren! Thank you so much! You are so beautiful!

Veiled Woman: Allahu Akbar!

Katie: I've heard that before! Wasn't it Fort Hood?! Oh, we must go to a commercial! Be right back after this word from Coppertone Sunscreen, the skin care for pre-Muslims!

Why do liberals embrace Shariah law even though "beheading your wife" seems to go against the feminist movement's mantra? Why do liberals embrace Islam knowing it frowns on homosexuality?

Because they have the same goals. Progressives, communists, liberals, globalists and Muslims want to destroy America. When that goal is reached, they will fight for top billing. It will be bloody.

A jaw-dropping expose on the six-month undercover operation that revealed the true terror-supporting nature of CAIR: "Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America."

The whole Middle East conflict began back in the Old Testament. Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. They are still fighting over who gets the "birthright." Genesis 16:12 says Ishmael will be a "wild man." I try to stay away from violence, and I wouldn't even be thinking about Islam except that they keep jumping in front of my face. No one talked about Islam when I grew up. How did they all suddenly appear in America?

My friend was a flight attendant in the Middle East in the '80s. Isn't that when we started giving them a lot of money for oil? She told me that the Arabs on her flights were suddenly covered with money and didn't know what to do with it; they gave the flight attendants Rolexes for tips; they were doing cocaine in the back with hookers. I guess they were "backslidden" Muslims. That's a Baptist word for someone temporarily not obeying the rules of their faith. And speaking of Baptists … why can't the "good, peaceful Muslims" denounce the actions of the "bad, violent" Muslims? I'm Baptist, and I denounce the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church. They are not living the way Jesus taught – but the opposite. Maybe, just maybe the "good" Muslims approve of what the "bad" Muslims are doing! Maybe they are celebrating it, funding it and cheering them on.

After the murder of a Jewish settler, his wife and his children in their Itamar home, Palestinians all over Gaza and the West Bank celebrated with street parties, passing out candy and sweets. It's not just "terrorists" who celebrate the bloody death of Jews.

A congressional committee met last week to discuss the radicalization of Muslims. My friend Jim says, "What's responsible for radicalizing the Muslims?! The Quran!"

This website says that whole "kill the infidel" thing, Sura 9:5, is misquoted, taken out of context. Really? Then why do the Muslim murderers shout "Allahu Akbar!" before they kill people? Go here to see what the Quran really says.

This whole thing is ridiculous. The liberal media praises Imam Rauf, who has terrorist ties, while it attacks patriot Pamela Geller for standing up and saying, "Don't build a victory mosque on the very spot Muslims killed 3,000 innocent Americans!" You must see her movie, "The Ground Zero Mosque: The Second Wave of 911 Attacks."

The Muslims want to tear down the Statue of Liberty! It's an "idol."

The Muslims don't want their "hijab" searched at the TSA. They are "modest." They've been advised to refuse the "pat down" and the "naked scan" and pat themselves down! Napolitano hasn't yet decided what to do. Heaven forbid they be treated like the rest of us! This is ridiculous! How many bombs do you think you can hide under one of those big, black sheets?

The Muslims are exempt from Obamacare because of dhimmitude. Muslims consider insurance "gambling."

This new al-Qaida magazine for women has beauty tips and suicide-bomber tips! Gimme a break! That is as ridiculous as two men kissing on the mouth! And I don't care what is politically correct. Everyone knows that two men on a wedding cake is a comedy skit, not an "alternate lifestyle"! There I said it! Ridiculous!

Did you see "Glee" this week? Sickening! And, besides shoving the gay thing down our throats, they made a mockery of Christians – again! I wonder what their agenda is? Hey, producers of "Glee" – what's your agenda? One-way tolerance?

Truth has no agenda. – Glenn Beck

Reading the news (the facts, not the liberal media lies) online these days is like watching a comedy horror film. Oh, and speaking of cartoons, my hand keeps trying to draw one, but I keep slapping it! I am afraid of those people!

And, one more thing, how come it's OK for everyone to take my God's name in vain and use it as a curse word, but you can't say a word about their guy?! Not fair! It's our country – live by our rules! Ridiculous!

Lastly, Adul Gheit said he had a one-on-one meeting with Obama, where the U.S. president told him that he was still a Muslim, the son of a Muslim father, the stepson of Muslim stepfather, that his half brothers in Kenya are Muslims, and that he was sympathetic toward the Muslim agenda.

Now, whether or not that is true doesn't matter. Though "O" says "57 states" and bows to Arabs, and prays with them (to Allah) while nixing our National Day of Prayer (to God), and though "O" leaves out the words "by our Creator," etc., I personally think he's a secular humanist … with a Muslim background.

But, that doesn't matter. The fact is we are in a war with no name, fighting an enemy that lives on our soil now, next door to us. Not only are they plotting our demise, but laughing at our stupidity, mocking our open arms and freedom, demanding rights above our own and soon the transformation of our churches and synagogues into mosques. President Obama is not helping us. He's helping them.

The American Center for Law and Justice is on our side. This week they delivered oral arguments in the New York State Supreme Court to stop the building of the Ground Zero Victory Mosque. Help the ACLJ help us.

Is your liquefied brain running out of your ears yet? It's cute that she explicitly stated "Now, whether or not that is true doesn't matter." at one point, as that idea is implicit in everything Victoria Jackson has ever said, written, or thought.