It has been a while since I've done the FJM Treatment because it is a very time-consuming format. It also requires responding to writing that is so bad it barely merits a response. Something special took place this weekend, though, when resident NY Times Conservative Intellectual Ross Douthat penned a missive about the necessity of bringing xenophobic populism and scientific racism "to the table" when crafting immigration policy. Because how can you make immigration policy if you're not accounting for the preferences of the large part of the population that, like, hates foreigners?

Seriously. That is his argument Get ready for a fantastic voyage into the world in which that not only makes sense but passes for an argument worthy of inclusion in the Newspaper of Record for the Western world. Ladies and gentlemen, "The Necessity of Stephen Miller" by Ross Douthat, deemed worthy of inclusion in the New York Goddamn Times.

Hint: Stephen Miller is not necessary, for this or anything other than an exhaustive list of every man who owns a sex robot he named "Bitch."

After 12 years of failed attempts at immigration reform, the current round of negotiations are turning on a strangely personalized question: When a deal is being made, should Stephen Miller be at the table?

No. Are we done here?

Miller is the White House’s point man for immigration policy (and for strange and strident encounters with the press). He is also an immigration restrictionist: He wants a policy that favors skills-based recruitment over extended families, and he wants a lower immigration rate overall. He says he’s concerned about assimilation and crime and native wages; his critics say he just wants to keep America as white as possible, and that by even bringing him to meetings Trump is making a deal impossible to reach.

Yeah he's also, like, super 1910s-era xenophobic racist "restrictionist" with a lengthy history of having, to put it charitably, some problems dealing with people who are not exactly like him. Every word out of his mouth about immigration is shades of Madison Grant, the eugenics movement, Lothrop Stoddard, and the Immigration Restriction League of the WWI era. "Nordic Stock" has been replaced by "skills based," since we can safely assume that if those skills belong to Indian and Chinese people they will be deemed less relevant than the skills of (wink!) Norwegians.

The critics are right about this much: Having someone like Miller involved is a change from the way prior immigration negotiations have proceeded.

Yeah the government has either been composed of flaming racists or have, for brief intervals, recognized the general lack of usefulness of bringing flaming racists to the table.

As Jim Antle points out in a column for The Week, those negotiations have been consistently bipartisan, bringing together John McCain and Ted Kennedy, Marco Rubio and Chuck Schumer, now Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin — but “they have mostly taken place between people who are fundamentally in agreement on immigration,” who favor both amnesty for illegal immigrants and reforms that would probably increase immigration rates.

What a diverse group of old white guys and Marco Rubio.

The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t represent the actual divisions in the country.

This statement is true, except for his baffling decision to describe this as a "problem."

Can we really set policy without bringing the anti-Semites and racists to the table? Yes Ross. Yes we can.

Americans have become more pro-immigration since the 1990s, but there is still a consistent pattern when you ask about immigration rates: About a third of Americans favor the current trend, slightly fewer want higher rates, and about a third, like Miller, want immigration reduced.

One third, huh? Funny how when large majorities favor some liberal policy it's mob rule, but with right-wing knuckle dragging positions a decent sized minority is more than enough reason to grab the erasers and start making changes.

And there are various reasonable grounds on which one might favor a reduction.


*makes j/o motion*

The foreign-born share of the U.S. population is near a record high, and increased diversity and the distrust it sows have clearly put stresses on our politics.

The distrust it sows when non-white people join the population? Is "distrust" the right word here?

To reiterate, the entire thrust of this Intellectual argument is that immigration makes racist white people uncomfortable and that viewpoint should be treated as legitimate. This is where the bar is for getting in the New York Times on the right these days.

There are questions about how fast the recent wave of low-skilled immigrants is assimilating, evidence that constant new immigration makes it harder for earlier arrivals to advance, and reasons to think that a native working class gripped by social crisis might benefit from a little less wage competition for a while. California, the model for a high-immigration future, is prosperous and dynamic — but also increasingly stratified by race, with the same inequality-measuring Gini coefficient as Honduras.

Ahh, the low skills argument. As someone who has studied and read quite a bit on the restriction / eugenics / scientific racism movements of the late Industrial Revolution and early part of the 20th Century, this language is essentially verbatim from that era. Maybe they didn't name-drop the Gini Coefficient, but the "unskilled, unwashed hordes" stuff is boilerplate.

With that said, illegal immigration has slowed over the last decade, and immigration’s potential economic and humanitarian benefits are still considerable. And it’s also clear that many immigration restrictionists are influenced by simple bigotry — with the president’s recent excrement-related remarks a noteworthy illustration.

OK both of these sentences are very true, and since they are true and the author seems to recognize their fundamental truth I don't really understand what we're talking about here.

This bigotry, from the point of view of many immigration advocates, justifies excluding real restrictionists from the negotiating table.

Uh oh. Here's comes a "but."



The limits of this strategy are evident in the repeated failure of “comprehensive” immigration reform over the last decade and more, doomed each time by the gulf between the plans of Republican negotiators and the actual preferences of their voters.

In other words, illegal immigration is falling (see: two sentences ago) and the aging American population really needs more younger workers and the titans of capitalism all but demand cheap foreign manual and skilled (H1-B type) labor, but…somehow immigration policy has "failed" because what we haven't tried is letting some backwoods foreigner-hatin' degenerates take a crack at buildin' them a real big fence and keepin' out the people who talk funny and look different.


The present view of many liberals seems to be that restrictionists can eventually be steamrolled — that the same ethnic transformations that have made white anxiety acute will eventually bury white-identity politics with sheer multiethnic numbers. But liberals have been waiting 12 years for that “eventually” to arrive, and instead Trump is president and the illegal immigrants they want to protect are still in limbo. So maybe it would be worth trying to actually negotiate with Stephen Miller, rather than telling Trump that he needs to lock his adviser in a filing cabinet, slap on a “beware of leopard” sign, and hustle out to the Rose Garden to sign whatever Durbin and Graham have hashed out.

Thanks for the confirmation. We need to stop trying to think about the role immigration plays in our society and economy and instead give a louder voice to people who just don't like it and have no defensible reason for not liking it other than a distaste for the many-tongued hordes of the lesser races.

Especially since last week, Trump and Miller actually made an interesting offer: an amnesty and even a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other Dreamers, more generous than what many restrictionists favor and with no promise of the new E-Verify enforcements conservatives often seek, in return for a shift (over many years) to a skills-based policy and a somewhat lower immigration rate.

So what was proposed would give people who recognize the role of immigration nothing (a phase-out, essentially) and give Stephen Miller and his Cletus Caucus everything they want (racist immigration policy). Wow, quite a deal.

If you’re committed to the view that restrictionists can and must be steamrolled, you’ll respond to this offer the way many Democrats have — call it a “white supremacist ransom note,” punt on policy, and use the issue to rally your base in 2018.

To my knowledge, conservatives have never used immigration crudely to rally their base of provincial, angry, not terribly bright rural white people who are repeatedly told explicitly and implicitly that they are the only Americans who count and they are the modern version of God's Chosen People.

But if you think that lasting deals are forged when all sides are represented, you might consider making a counteroffer: for instance, the same rough blueprint but with more green cards for skilled immigrants, so that Miller gets his cuts to low-skilled immigration but the overall rate stays closer to the status quo.

"Skills" is such a totally disingenuous canard in this argument that I can't imagine anyone, especially anyone on the right, fails to see it for the obvious dog whistle it is.

And no, Ross Douthat of the New York Times, "all sides" being represented is not a precondition of creating effective laws, policies, or anything else. We leave out the shitty sides. Including the shitty sides doesn't make the final product better. It makes it shittier, because it will be informed at least slightly by people and ideas that are shit. Look at how much it has helped to include science denialists in the creation of public health and science policy! And of adherents to totally discredited economic theories with zero evidence to support their validity in the formation of tax policy! Yes, we have ample evidence that when you include voices that are dishonest about their motivations and intentions, factually incorrect, and relentlessly dedicated to an ideology around which every aspect of reality must bend, the end result is better, stronger policy. I mean, how could a nation make energy policy without bringing some Alchemists to the table to represent the 25% of the population that believes the Earth produces oil in its core?

You can't, dummy. Get smart like Ross Douthat, stupid.


As the writers at Lawyers, Guns, and Money already noted, only the fact that the following opinion piece ran in the Washington Post (which presumably checks on such things) stands between us and the conclusion that it is a parody and its author is not a real person. "Jim Ruth" is taglined as a "retired financial adviser," which if true suggests that pretty much anyone can write a featured editorial in WaPo these days. Maybe if you send in 100 cereal box tops they give you 500 words. That explanation for how this happened is as plausible as any other.

If you're ready to read some Grade A, Hope Diamond level bullshit passive-aggressive rationalizations for voting for Donald Trump despite the fact that he is an idiot-child sociopath beloved by white supremacists and every American who has lost a toe on a carnival ride, read on. To reiterate one final time: this is real. You may need to come back to that sentence to ground yourself; it will be your Inception totem in the dreamlike netherworld of white Boomer fantasies in which you are about to be cast three levels deep. It is entitled – You ready? Have a sip of your drink. Dim the lights. – "I Hate Donald Trump. But He Might Get My Vote."

There is no god.

No Trump campaign buttons or bumper stickers for me.

That sounds like something a human adult who can read would say. That's great, but forgive me if we don't burst into applause for it. It's like declaring, "I have no plans at present to burn down a mosque." It's a declaration that raises questions about why you would even have considered it in the first place.

I’m part of the new silent majority: those who don’t like Donald Trump but might vote for him anyway.

Oh, you mean white people over 50. Yeah, no, that's not a majority. In fact you're all dying much more quickly than you're being replaced with new Old White People. Also I'm not entirely sure Jim Ruth knows what "silent" means. These people are the literal antithesis of silent. They bleat like goats being castrated without anesthetic. The average Trump supporter shouts more than any human being who is not employed as a gym teacher at a bad middle school. A roomful of Trump supporters sounds like a demented chorus of whistling teakettles backed by the undulating beat of an air raid siren.

For many of us, Trump has only one redeeming quality: He isn’t Hillary Clinton. He doesn’t want to turn the United States into a politically correct, free-milk-and-cookies, European-style social democracy where every kid (and adult, too) gets a trophy just for showing up.

If every email forward sent from a Hotmail or AOL account in the past eight years could be condensed into a single, insipid statement, this is it. If you didn't read that card catalog of right wing talking points in the voice of your uncle who claims he can't work because he's "disabled" but sure does ride his ATV and complain about lazy black people a lot, then you did it wrong.

Have you noticed that these people REALLY don't like "political correctness"? As best I can tell, what they mean is that they can no longer call that woman at work with short hair a dyke without getting in trouble. It's their god-given right, dammit.

Members of this new silent majority, many of us front-wave baby boomers, value hard work and love the United States the way it was.

Hoo-boy. I got some work to do here. OK. Members of (this new silent majority,)* (many of us)** front-wave baby boomers, value hard work and love the United States (the way it was)***

**All of us
***Back when being white and male was 95% of the battle, and the other 5% was pretty much "not being Jewish or gay"

We long for a bygone era when you didn’t need “safe spaces” on college campuses to shelter students from the atrocity of dissenting opinions, lest their sensibilities be offended. We have the reckless notion that college is the one place where sensibilities are supposed to be challenged and debated. Silly us.

This is the Rainbow Parties of the 2010s. Honest to god, I have taught at three different universities of substantial enrollment and literally have not once ever encountered anything like this. This is what people who have never been on a college campus think a college campus is like. To the extent that students exist who feel this way, they are very few in number and probably no different a proportion of the student body today than such Overly Sensitive Strawmen have ever been in the past. Yeah, some people cry when they receive criticism for the first time. That isn't new. The other 99.9% of college students are interested in, in descending order, boning each other, getting drunk, and looking at their phones.

And please don’t try to stereotype us. We’re not uneducated, uninformed, unemployed or low-income zealots. We’re affluent, well-educated, gainfully employed and successfully retired. Some of us even own our own business, or did before we retired, creating not only our own job but also employment for others. While we’re fiscally conservative, we’re not tea partyers. And on certain social issues, many of us even have some leftward leanings. Shhhh . . .

OK so you're a "majority" but you're affluent, well-educated, and gainfully employed or retired? Yeah the majority of Americans are affluent. This guy knows what's up.

Bonus lolz: "Don't stereotype us! We're not like those Skoal-chomping fucktards who vote for the same people as us and believe all the same things we do! We're different."

The only pleasure the new silent majority has taken throughout this primary season has been watching progressives marinate in their own righteous indignation. They were giddy, like spoiled children opening Christmas presents, as they watched 17 Republican combatants call in airstrikes on one another. But eventually the tables turned as the Hillary-Bernie slugfest got ugly, and we took particular delight in the sourpuss expression on the faces of the lefties we know when they realized that the Republicans, left for dead, suddenly had new life and a chance to win the presidency.

It's hard to sum up six months of the nomination process involving 20-some candidates in a short paragraph, but…really? This is what Jim Ruth ("Jim Ruth") took away from that? Because it sounds an awful lot like the summary of a sporting event one would hear from someone who did not actually watch that sporting event but overheard some people who did watch it but aren't real bright summarize it.

We are under no illusions about Trump.

To read Jim Ruth say a bunch of things that contradict this statement directly, press 1
To read Jim Ruth tell some bumper sticker jokes about Hillary Clinton, press 2
To read Jim Ruth make a logically consistent argument suggesting underlying integrity, press 3

Hey, this phone doesn't have a 3!

We know that this Man Who Would Be King is a classic bully and a world-class demagogue in his personal, professional and political lives. He will continue to demonize his perceived enemies and take the low road at every opportunity.

Well those sound like some pretty goddamn convincing reasons not to vote for the man who gets to decide when nuclear weapons are used. I'd say that person would be quite dangerous with power.

And we know that if Trump makes it all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the view after that is murky at best.


We’re confident that he will surround himself with smart and capable people from the business world, as well as some Capitol Hill veterans. But here’s the rub: Past business associates describe him as a micromanager who likes yes men at his side. How long this new Washington brain trust will last in a Trump administration is anybody’s guess.

Yeah I'm also confident that the man who wants the GOP convention speakers to be a bunch of sports celebrities because he's "sick of politicians" is definitely going to surround himself with a real mix of talent and experience.

I read the work of college undergraduates for a living and this is the actual dumbest argument I've ever read.

Who’s to blame for the Trump phenomenon? There’s culpability on both sides of the aisle for the absence of bipartisanship that fueled his rise. The left blames the policies of a fragmented, delusional, right-wing GOP. But the left bears responsibility, too.

Who here is surprised that it's "the left's" fault? In fact, it wouldn't be entirely surprising if it was you know who's fault…

Turns out that the obstructers in Congress weren’t just the Republicans, as Bob Woodward reported in his book “The Price of Politics.” President Obama kept “moving the goal posts” in the 2011 sequester negotiations with Republicans. And who can forget the way Republicans were bullied over health care? They were left with no choice but to use every procedural maneuver in their arsenal to block, delay or postpone the liberal legislative agenda.

Ahh that's the stuff. OK seriously, which one of you wrote this? This section doesn't even make sense. And how could anyone not respect the intellectual integrity of an author who falls back on "We would totally be reasonable if the other side just wasn't so darn awful and dangerous" argument. Because that's what Republicans are: people who would work with Democrats if only they would believe all the same things as Republicans do.

So why then would rational, affluent, informed citizens consider voting for The Donald? Short of not voting at all — still an option some of us are considering — he’s the only one who appears to want to preserve the American way of life as we know it. For the new silent majority, the alternative to Trump is bleak: a wealthy, entitled progressive with a national security scandal in her hip pocket. In our view, the thought of four to eight more years of a progressive agenda polluting the American Dream is even more dangerous to the survival of this country than Trump is.

Finally, some honesty. What he means is, "We're scared." The world is different than it was fifty years ago – and somehow this surprises us, probably because we are unbelievably narcissistic and stupid – and we can't handle it. We want the demagogue who promises us that we can go back to women knowing their place and the homos staying in the closet and the blacks using the other door. That's what "American Dream" means to people like this guy – not the dream of freedom and prosperity, because as the author states he already has that. What it means, then, is the dream of a nation in which they (white men) hold a dominant position in the social, economic, and political hierarchy. He just claimed a few paragraphs ago that he and this "Silent Majority" have done extremely well. So if this isn't a social hierarchy thing, what exactly is it?

I'll wait.

So come Nov. 8, you’ll find many of us sheepishly sneaking into voting booths across the United States. Even after warily pulling the curtain closed behind us, we’ll still be looking over our shoulders to make sure the deed is shielded from view. Then, fighting a gag reflex, we’ll pull the lever. We hate Donald Trump. But he just might get our vote.

The funniest thing about this is the way he mocks Safe Spaces College Kids when in fact this entire column is a classic example of one of the most legitimately annoying thing The Kids These Days do: Wasting mental energy trying to explain how they have noble motives for making selfish choices. Look, Jim, you are going to vote for Donald Trump because he stands for everything you do. You just said as much in the preceding lines. All you're doing here is intellectualizing (or trying to, badly) your reactionary politics to make yourself look like a smart person making a sound, reasoned choice for which valid arguments can be made. I hope it made you feel better, Jim, because those of us who had to read it certainly don't. As the Kids say, tl;dr – Old racist white guy tries, fails to argue that he is not old racist white guy for voting for old racist white guy.


Rarely am I moved to revive the FJM Treatment these days, as it tends to be very labor-intensive to write and it's not often that I have the time. But when Mike Konczal – Those of you who have been around forever remember him, and those who haven't probably know his current work – shared this article with the baiting tagline, "Algebra II Has To Go", I felt the urge stirring inside me. Understand two things: One is that I realize I am falling for Outrage Bait here; sites like Slate push this stuff purporting to be "edgy" mostly in the hopes of getting people to share it socially and vent about how dumb it is. The second is that Mike approached this from the perspective of someone who has taken a lot of very high level math in his academic life and no doubt accurately points out that much of it has never been useful beyond college.

The problem is that this article isn't about high level math. It's about algebra, and its author Dana Goldstein has fallen hook, line, and sinker for the arguments of one person with an agenda to sell books about "curriculum reform" that only excite administrators looking to boost retention by identifying and then justifying the elimination of whatever courses are too difficult for students to pass. As a faculty member, I see this very differently because the motives are very transparent to me. I read a noble proposition like "What's wrong with improving the curriculum to include more useful math?" as a stalking horse that quickly ends up pressed into service of the least noble motives. Are you ready? It has been a while, but hopefully you'll agree that it's time. Some of this is excised for length and irrelevance.

In his new book The Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions, political scientist Andrew Hacker proposes replacing algebra II and calculus in the high school and college curriculum with a practical course in statistics for citizenship (more on that later). Only mathematicians and some engineers actually use advanced math in their day-to-day work, Hacker argues — even the doctors, accountants, and coders of the future shouldn’t have to master abstract math that they’ll never need.


Algebra II is "advanced math"? Nobody needs to know Algebra unless they're designing a rocket engine or mapping the human genome? Isn't a sequence in Algebra, like, a rather basic component of math education? Gee I'd hate to think the authors are using an argument – a valid argument – against taking advanced calculus as a red herring here.

I showed the book to my husband, Andrei, a computer programmer who loved math in school. He scrunched up his face. “People don’t use Shakespeare in their jobs, but it’s still important for them to read it,” he said.

I like Andrei. Andrei seems to understand the educational system and its purpose.

“It’s not the same,” I told him. “Reading fiction builds empathy.”

“Math helps us understand the world around us!” Andrei replied. “Like how derivatives demonstrate change over time.” He smiled, and I could tell that for him, it was all clear and beautiful.

But I had no idea what he was talking about. In high school, I found math so indecipherable that I would sometimes cry over my homework. I don’t think I ever understood what a derivative signified 15 years ago, when I was struggling my way to a low B in calculus—a class I was convinced I had to take to pad my college applications.

Oh good. I'm glad we're establishing from the outset that the basis of this article is "I don't get it, so it's not necessary."


So Hacker’s book is deeply comforting. I’m not alone, it tells me—lots of smart people hate math. The reason I hated math, was mediocre at it, and still managed to earn a bachelor’s degree was because I had upper-middle-class parents who paid for tutoring and eventually enrolled me in a college that doesn’t require math credits in order to graduate.

This is impressive self-awareness. The author recognizes that she finds this argument appealing not because it has merit but because she hates math and thought math was hard. Glad we're all on the same page now.

For low-income students, math is often an impenetrable barrier to academic success. Algebra II, which includes polynomials and logarithms, and is required by the new Common Core curriculum standards used by 47 states and territories, drives dropouts at both the high school and college levels. The situation is most dire at public colleges, which are the most likely to require abstract algebra as a precondition for a degree in every field, including art and theater.


How many colleges require anything beyond the most basic type of two-course math sequence, one or both of which can be satisfied by having taken "college level" math courses of dubious rigidity in high school? I guess Slate doesn't make its writers look up numbers on these things. My experience has been that what college level math is required is often required with some kind of massive loophole such as the ability to fulfill the obligation with specially created, easy to pass "Math for Poets" type classes designed to keep the tuition dollars students enrolled.

“We are really destroying a tremendous amount of talent—people who could be talented in sports writing or being an emergency medical technician, but can’t even get a community college degree,” Hacker told me in an interview. “I regard this math requirement as highly irrational.”

Community college math classes are too difficult? Hmm. That would point to getting very little math in high school, not too much, Mr. Iconoclast. This literally differs not one bit from arguing that someone would make a great EMT if only they didn't have to take some stupid class they can't pass about Shakespeare or psychology or hey this is fun you could put the name of any course in here and the appropriately-surnamed Hacker's argument works!

Unlike most professors who publicly opine about the education system, Hacker, though an eminent scholar, teaches at a low-prestige institution, Queens College, part of the City University of New York system. Most CUNY students come from low-income families, and a 2009 faculty report found that 57 percent fail the system’s required algebra course. A subsequent study showed that when students were allowed to take a statistics class instead, only 44 percent failed.

"When these students had to take a basic math course, slightly over half failed. When we let them take another course that for all anyone knows was designed to be easier to pass so we could keep our retention rates up…slightly under half failed." Sounds like Hacker is an "eminent scholar" in some field that isn't statistics. Oh wait, he's a political scientist. So he should be well aware of how stupid this argument is. And he has taught at the university level for quite some time, so he also knows how deceptive it is. And that he's basically just arguing "We should let them take statistics because apparently it's easier for them to pass," which is the worst possible argument for why they should take statistics instead of math.

Math in this case, just to remind you, is algebra.

Such findings inspired Hacker, in 2013, to create a curriculum to test the ideas he presents in The Math Myth. For two years, he taught what is essentially a course in civic numeracy. Hacker asked students to investigate the gerrymandering of Pennsylvania congressional districts by calculating the number of actual votes Democrats and Republicans received in 2012. The students discovered that it took an average of 181,474 votes to win a Republican seat, but 271,970 votes to win a Democratic seat. In another lesson, Hacker distributed two Schedule C forms, which businesses use to declare their tax-deductible expenses, and asked students to figure out which form was fabricated. Then he introduced Benford’s Law, which holds that in any set of real-world numbers, ones, twos, and threes are more frequent initial digits than fours, fives, sixes, sevens, eights, and nines. By applying this rule, the students could identify the fake Schedule C. (The IRS uses the same technique.)

In his 19-person numeracy seminar, the lowest grade was a C, Hacker says.

Wow. Where to start. OK, so this "civic numeracy" course, designed by Hacker himself and which based on the examples he chose to give involves nothing beyond addition, subtraction, division, and the ability to read English and numbers, produced 19 passing grades when Andrew Hacker taught said class (and awarded the grades, so you know it was super objective because he certainly had no motivation to prove his point, right?). Does anyone know if 19 is a sufficient sample size? I guess they didn't cover "sample size" in "civic numeracy."

Look, I'll be the first one to agree that a class where students learn how to read and interpret statistics is valuable. I teach this very material in a Political Science Research Methods course. It's important. And it is in no way an argument against the value of taking actual math. The sole motivation behind requiring it instead of math is that too many students now are failing math.

Or are they? Who knows, neither the author of this article nor apparently the shittiest social scientist on Earth bothered telling us if students are failing math more regularly today than in the past. That would be important to establish, right? Or else he/she have no argument, right?

Hacker’s previous book, Higher Education? How Universities Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids, took a dim view of the tenured professoriate, and he extends that perspective in The Math Myth. Math professors, consumed by their esoteric, super-specialized research, simply don’t care very much about the typical undergraduate, Hacker contends.

Ahh, OK. Finally we've established that Hacker makes his living publishing (presumably not without compensation) books pissing on academia. I know this type well. Bet he's real popular with his colleagues between his open minded approach to curriculum and his outstanding argumentation skills.

Math professors, consumed by their esoteric, super-specialized research, simply don’t care very much about the typical undergraduate, Hacker contends. At universities with graduate programs, tenure-track faculty members teach only 10 percent of introductory math classes. At undergraduate colleges, tenure-track professors handle 42 percent of introductory classes. Graduate students and adjuncts shoulder the vast majority of the load, and they aren’t inspiring many students to continue their math education. In 2013, only 1 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded were in math.

None of this is remotely relevant to the value of making students take basic algebra. Not even a little. These numbers are here to distract you. I thought we were making a "should" argument about the value of stats-as-math-alternative? Now we've progressed to simply grousing about academia.

“In a way, math departments throughout the country don’t worry,” Hacker says. “They have big budgets because their classes are required, so they keep on going.”

This is the least true thing anyone has written today, and today was the day after Donald Trump all but secured the GOP nomination. What's actually happening, not that Hacker would bother to do any research here, is that math departments are piling more courses on tenured or tenure track faculty (not necessarily introductory courses – note the key adjective he uses) to save money, and also hiring more adjuncts to teach the less demanding courses to save money.

What an excellent example of how to deceive with numbers. Is this in the "civic numeracy" book?

After Hacker previewed the ideas in The Math Myth in a 2012 New York Times op-ed, the Internet lit up with responses accusing him of anti-intellectualism. At book length, it’s harder to dismiss his ideas.

I'm dubious.

He has a deep respect for what he calls the “truth and beauty” of math; his discussion of the discovery and immutability of pi taught me more about the meaning of 3.14 than any class I’ve ever taken.

I bet he does, and I'm sure it did. That's not saying much, per the author's opening comments.

As a longtime education reporter, I know that American teachers, especially those in the elementary grades, have taken few math courses themselves, and often actively dislike the subject. Maybe I would have found abstract math more enjoyable if my teachers had been able to explain it better, perhaps by connecting it somehow to the real world. And if that happened in every school, maybe lots more American kids, even low-income ones, would be able to make the leap from arithmetic to the conceptual mathematics of algebra II and beyond.

Well, a decent social scientist could tell you that since K-12 teachers are so regularly and viciously shit on, not to mention underpaid and regularly threatened by state legislatures with further reductions in benefits and pay, nobody really wants to major in Education. So Education gets the students – Sorry, but if we're going to generalize here, this is accurate… – who can't succeed in any other major. And it gives them a 4.0 in courses specifically designed to be passed by students who are not very academically capable.

Search your heart. You know it to be true.

Of course, if math teachers are to help students understand how abstract concepts (EDIT: Examples omitted) function in the real world, they will have to understand those abstractions themselves. So it’s not reassuring that American teachers are a product of the same sub-par math education system they work in, or that we hire 100,000 to 200,000 new teachers each year at a time when less than 20,000 people are majoring in math annually.

OK so, to recap: Math is too hard because most K-12 students get a bad math education because teachers don't take much math in college, so let's require even less math in college.

Goddamn brilliance.

Could better teachers help more students pass algebra II? Given high student debt, low teacher pay, and the historically low status of the American teaching profession, it would be a tough road. In the meantime, it’s probably a good idea to give students multiple math pathways toward high school and college graduation—some less challenging than others. If we don’t, we’ll be punishing kids for the failures of an entire system.

Wait, what? So this isn't about offering a better alternative at all, then. It's explicitly about offering something easier. Easier and Better are very different, just FYI. "Poor kids have a disadvantage, so let's teach them less and lower the bar for them because the system failed them." Because the system failed them, obviously the system must fail for them. Makes sense.

Make no mistake about this whole trainwreck of an argument, folks: This is about retention rates and tuition dollars. The vast majority of postsecondary institutions in this country are under enrollment and financial stress right now and they are desperate to both attract and retain students. The internal pressure to lower subtly and sometimes not-so-subtly the bar to keep another paying customer in the fold is consistent and nearly universal outside of the top 0.01% of elite institutions. We need bodies and we need revenue. That fact doesn't make higher education Evil. The bad part would be pretending we're changing the curriculum for the students' benefit when in reality we are doing it to extract more revenue out of them. This is nothing but marketing speak for lowering the standards while pretending that we're not doing exactly that.


Did you guys know that Allen West is still alive? True story, he is. He has the world's worst website and he has just used it to share with the world one of the most amazing things you'll ever see. It bears the title, just in case you're afraid that the preceding description isn't going to deliver, "More Ominous Signs of Christian Persecution." I considered giving this an FJM but after about the first three paragraphs it turns into such a cornucopia of non sequiturs that I couldn't even make anything coherent out of it (see for yourself and count the number of random right wing talking point Obama-related issues he throws in by the end). So here is the only relevant or salvageable part, the titular OMINOUS SIGN.

Aubrey, a very organized young lady, began the initial arranging of her room. And then came the request — “Dad, I know you haven’t been eating well here, so we need to go grocery shopping.” Dang it! This is what happens when your daughter is pursuing a Masters in Molecular/Cellular Biology. So we were off to the local Walmart Superstore just up the road. We gathered up her desired foodstuffs and headed to the checkout — and then this happened.

There was a young man doing the checkout and another Walmart employee came over and put up a sign, “No alcohol products in this lane.” So being the inquisitive fella I am, I used my additional set of eyes — glasses — to see the young checkout man’s name. Let me just say it was NOT “Steve.”

I pointed the sign out to Aubrey and her response was a simple question, how is it that this Muslim employee could refuse service to customers based on his religious beliefs, but Christians are being forced to participate in specific events contrary to their religious beliefs?

Boy howdy, that is one astute young lady.

Imagine that, this employee at Walmart refused to just scan a bottle or container of an alcoholic beverage — and that is acceptable.

A Christian business owner declines to participate or provide service to a specific event — a gay wedding — which contradicts their faith, and the State crushes them.

Jeez, that IS pretty alarming. There are some rather clear parallels between a Muslim employee refusing to handle alcohol and a Christian employee who, for example, didn't want to handle birth control. For the first time, Allen West seems to have a point. This is a double standard.

EDITOR’S UPDATE: We spoke to the Walmart store, and apparently employees under 21 years old are prohibited from selling cigarettes and alcohol.
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Oh. OH. Oh you mean that like literally every other business on the planet, Walmart does not allow minor employees to handle alcohol? You mean "No Alcohol" wasn't really a sign of impending Sharia Law?

The best part is not that Allen West is a very stupid person who jumps to insane conclusions based on his paranoid fantasies. We already knew that. The best part is that Allen West doubles down and just keeps plowing along as if nothing changed. The basis of his piece having been made irrelevant is not nearly enough to stop Allen West from making a point. He does offer up this weak tea in an effort to save some face:

However, that isn’t to say Walmart isn’t selectively caving to Muslim demands, such as this case regarding Halal meat in Ohio.

Ah, the classic Megan McArdle "I may be wrong but I'm still right."

Hey Allen, do any major grocery store chains already sell food designed for a specific religious market? Oh that's right, literally every single place that sells food in this country has kosher stuff. But other than that, it's an excellent grasping-at-straws example here. Grocery stores in places where there are a lot of Muslims deciding to sell Halal meat is creeping Sharia Law. What other explanation could there be?

And then he plows on for more than 500 additional idiotic words as if nothing happened.
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Since the last 75% of the column had so little to do with his supposed topic anyway, it almost works.

Sort of like how the Hindenburg almost made it.


It was only a matter of time.

You knew that if you were patient, some op-ed hack would describe the media's treatment of Bill Cosby as "rape." They might even, if they are particularly sophomoric and unoriginal, entitle a defense of The Cos "The Rape of Bill Cosby." It is the kind of thing so predictable that we would only be shocked if it didn't happen. The winner of the race to banal inevitability was some guy I've never heard of (Richard Stellar, or perhaps I should say "Richard Stellar") writing for some website I've never heard of. Due to reader outrage, the piece has now been renamed "In Defense of Bill Cosby" by the editors, garishly marked GUEST OPINION BLOG, and preceded by an apology/preamble in a rather heavy-handed attempt at damage control. Steel yourself for the eye-watering shit stench as we plow through this journalistic tour de force on America's most lovable pudding shill and perhaps serial rapist. I will say "alleged" only inasmuch as none of the allegations have yet been conclusively proven, but that is where any semblance of benefit of the doubt for the actor ends.

Bill Cosby raped me.

I bet he didn't, Richard. But if you said this in earnest, I bet it would feel pretty shitty if nobody took you seriously and you were accused by no-name fratboy raconteurs on the internet of being a publicity-seeking liar.

Now that I have your attention, consider this: the allegations of sexual misadventure and impropriety that have pummeled the Cos over the last few weeks is not the issue. The issue is the scurrilous environment where media outlets and journalists lie in wait, like aging corpulent prostitutes, their hair dyed flame red and their nails like elongated daggers — waiting to blow any John who dares to topple those who may be kings. It's once again an example of the TMZ-isation of journalism.

We learn a few things here, namely that Richard Stellar's image of a prostitute has not been updated since the early 70s. We also learn…well, I'm not quite sure. It appears to be the classic "Let's focus on the way This is being covered to deflect attention from It" concern trolling tactic. Is anybody arguing that the media don't relish celebrity scandals? Is anyone surprised that they like stories that drive ratings in a ratings-driven business?

The prized real estate that is the first screen view of news websites, or the much vied for leading news story content on the evening news has been hijacked for reports of the latest Cosby detractor, while issues like Ferguson, IS, immigration reform, and 46 abducted students in Mexico receive a momentary lapse of attention. Our focus shifts when a celebrity falls, and like extras in “Walking Dead,” our direction sharply turns, and our attention shifts to the exposed flesh of the fallen, and we grunt and drool, waiting to feast.

OK, this paragraph is hard to nitpick.
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Good job, Mr. Stellar (!!!) Certainly celebrity news, even if it involves a celebrity committing violent crimes, should not displace important news from the headlines. Even though we know in practice that it does. All the time.

The concept of justice is disregarded.

Oh, shit. You were doing so well.

The statute of limitations is ignored.

There's a statute of limitations on news? If I discovered tomorrow that Calvin Coolidge once beheaded a drifter as a party trick, I'm not allowed to write about it? When we learn new information about things that may have happened they are not newsworthy if they're in the past? None of this makes any sense. But it's the kind of argument you get when an author switches from one topic to another abruptly in the middle of a piece.
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This is a very old tactic. Start with something uncontroversial to suck in the reader ("It's annoying how often airlines cancel flights, amirite?") then switch to the ax-grinding nonsense ("Speaking of, why don't we ban Muslims from flying?") He begins with something about the media that basically nobody disagrees with and now suddenly we're not talking about the media anymore. We're talking specifically about The Cos, the allegations, and the accusers.

Tricksy Hobbitses.

The recollections of events that happened as long as fifty years ago are dredged up

I bet if you got raped you would remember the events with an abundance of clarity, not a lack thereof. And it is pretty common in cases like this – sexual assault, sexual harassment, child abuse, etc. – for people to decline to come forward because they assume (for some wacky reason) that they will not be believed.
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Then when they realize that they are only one of many people who were victims, they come out and say, "Yes, me too."

by aging actresses who have one eye on the CNN camera, and the other on a book or reality show deal.

Ah, yes. The classic and rock solid "Fabricating allegations to enjoy all of the many benefits of being a woman who accuses a famous, rich, and powerful man or sex crimes" argument. Since rape victims / accusers are treated so well – personally vindicated, showered with material rewards, etc. – we can see why everyone would want to jump on that bandwagon. I often look at the way accusers are treated by the media and general public and think, "Wow, I'm jealous!"

If the statute of limitations was as long as the 15 minutes of fame that these lost souls are trying to recapture, then our prisons would be as vacant as the Holiday Inn in Acapulco (you probably have no idea what that means because you're not used to real news).

So…if the statute of limitations was as long as the 15 minutes of fame, the statute of limitations would be 15 minutes. And if the statute of limitations was 15 minutes, our prisons would be vacant.

His logic checks out, guys. He's right.

Thankfully, the statute of limitations was written to avoid exactly what this blog is about.

According to the opening paragraphs, it is about salacious media coverage. Now we're talking about rape allegations.

Also, while it is not an imminent threat to "Freedom of speech!" in the #1 slot, "statute of limitations" must be a solid #2 on the list of legal concepts lots of people appear to believe they understand but do not. At all.

There is no legitimacy to justice if there is no real evidence, and evidence has a way of vanishing as memories dim with the marching of time.

OK it's worth pointing out again at this juncture that this is not a trial and therefore the rules of evidence don't apply, but regardless: If these women are telling similar stories then one of three things must be true.

1. There is a tightly-knit conspiracy against Bill Cosby perpetrated by women with no apparent connection to one another
2. These women are chasing the fame, glory, and respect that come with accusing someone of rape in America – a beloved and famous man, no less
3. The allegations have some merit


A DNA swab on most of Cosby's detractors if done today would most likely come up exceedingly dry.

Ha ha ha you get it guys because they're old.

I'm not saying that what these woman claim happened, didn't happen.

"I'm a good guy! I'm not saying that this didn't happen. I'm just saying that the accusers are fabricating their stories for attention and that their memories of long ago events are unreliable.
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I get it

This may be the most blatantly false statement Richard Stellar could write.

Cos was the campfire that parents would sit at with their children, and chuckle at his homespun humor and life lessons. When we all retreated back to our tents with our tummys full of S'mores and toasted marshmallows, Cos was back in his tent, banging the camp counselor after doping her with quaaludes. Yes, that could well have happened, and once those women realized the violation that they endured at the hands of Cosby, then they should have reported it then — not a generation later.

"should have" is the rhetorical crutch of the reactionary asshole – I swear I would totally believe and support you if only you had done X instead of Y, but since you didn't follow proper procedure we must reject your claim. This too is a common tactic, defending the accused by insisting we are not defending the accused but we are outraged that the accusers did not follow The Rules. It's a neat way to defend The Cos without defending The Cos. "I'm not saying he's a good guy, I'm saying his accusers are lying bitches" with a dose of "Ladies I swear I would have believed you if you had said this a few years ago." I have seen infomercials more credible than that last statement.

I wrote a blog recently taking Woody Allen down for his alleged abuse that was detailed in Dylan Farrow's op-ed in The New York Times. You might find it hypocritical that I suggested that we shun Woody Allen based on years-old testimony, and I'm giving the Cos a pass for his alleged abuse of women years ago.

I might find that.

There's a huge difference. Dylan Farrow had credibility.

Ah, right. Credibility is very easy for third parties like us to assess from a distance, in no way reflecting our own biases.

Child abuse in my estimation is on an equal par to murder. The uncomfortable truth that Dylan Farrow courageously revealed, to me, was undeniable — and that abuse had been reported to both social workers and to the courts. Not so with Bill Cosby.


His detractors and accusers smack of something else than truth — they carry the faint aroma of deceit, selective memory, and blind ambition.

What happened to, "I'm not saying that what these woman claim happened, didn't happen"? It sounds very much like you are saying that.

This is what happens when people think they know everything, that they can Figure People Out just by glancing at them. The allegations if true would be horrible, but Richard Stellar can tell that the accusers are deceitful and attention-seeking. He can just tell, OK? It's amazing how often arguments from talking heads – usually but not exclusively old white male egotists in the O'Reilly / Hannity mold – boil down to this. We have conflicting information but I can tell which parts of it are true and which are false because reasons. Because I'm brilliant and never wrong. Because my shit doesn't stink. The rationalizations don't have to make any sense because they inevitably boil down to "I know a _______ when I see one."

If we're being honest, though, I do admit to claiming to know an asshole when I see one – or in this case, when I read his columns.


Most of my friends live in cities. Real cities. Places where people read books and have hopes and dreams. Little bubbles that seal out most of the things urbanites know to be true about Real America, things from which they want to hide. I am intensely jealous of all of these people, because it has been my experience that most of the things people assume about the Bush Voter parts of America are true. I live among people who wear American flag hats and "These Colors Don't Run" t-shirts unironically. In 2014.

If you ever want to lose your will to live completely, go to the opinion section of the last remaining newspaper in some cow town that has been in decline since the Eisenhower years. The kind of place where the remaining population consists of anyone too old or too poor to leave. Then read the letters to the editor. You may want to have a few drinks first. You sure as hell will by the time you're done.

While FJM Treatment is usually reserved for professional writers – or at least people who have been paid to write things when "professional" seems like a stretch – but I found a fantastic specimen of what life is like out here in the provinces and I want those of you who live in not-horrible places to experience it with me. This is what it's like. This is why we're fucked.

The column is called "A thanks for subsidizing local government we don’t use?" which seems grammatically askew no matter how many times I read it. My first inclination was to file this under Too Stupid to Merit a Response, but I want you all to share my pain. This is what passes for thinking out here.

I recently paid my property tax for this year.

Nothing foreshadows a journey into Glenn Beck's fever dreams like an opening line about property taxes. And there's very little that benefits the public discourse more than white people pissing and moaning about them.

We knew when we moved from California to Illinois that politically, we would be just exchanging one bad state for another.

Leaving only the question of why you would move here, then. Why not move to some kind of low-tax paradise like Mississippi? Brownbackistan? Somalia? From what I hear Somalia has no property taxes at all. Largely on account of Somalis having no property. And the absence of functioning government.

We had been warned about the oppressive tax system in Illinois. It took my breath away as I wrote out that check, but it also got me to thinking about where our hard-earned money was going.

Well since you identified yourself as a "stay-home mom" in the tagline, technically you didn't earn any money. You know. If we're splitting hairs. Also, guys…I can't emphasize enough how pitiful the property taxes are in this burnt out husk of a city. It's the absolute middle of nowhere, every part of the local government is essentially broke, and the school districts are straight out of an NPR story about poverty.

This is what I found.

Under threat of losing our home and property, we were forced to give a ridiculous amount of money to the local government school system that we do not participate in.

Once again: Somalia! No threat of losing your home or property! No taxes! Paradise!

And this is the exciting part. Which way are we going to "do not participate in" – old person with no children or homeschool fanatic? Let this picture of the author guide you as you try to predict the next twist.



Yeah. I think you see where we're going here.

I would like a hearty thank you from those families that contribute little to the education of their own children. Your children are getting a sub-par education on the backs of the elderly and families who privately or home educate their children.

I love this shit. Love it. These doorknobs choose to brainwash their children at home rather than sending them to school and they expect the law to contort itself around their choice. Because that's what it is: a choice. You could send your kids to the schools your taxes pay for, or you can keep them home and teach them that the Earth is 4000 years old and a bunch of other made up crap. Wingnuts love to ask why they should have to pay for everyone else's choices. Well, why does the state have to change the law because of yours?

Oh, right. Because Jesus and freedom and you are an intensely stupid person.
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I also found that I am paying a nice sum to the local junior college. Really? No one in our home is currently attending Illinois Central College.


*picks corn from own feces*

We home educate our children and do not expect nor want the government to pay for our children’s education. It is my responsibility, not the community’s. Again, a thank you would be appreciated. Or better yet, how about some personal responsibility? Give me back my money!

Thank you for choosing to make sure your kids turn out just as stupid as you. They can do things like write idiotic letters to the editor and think they're making good arguments when suggesting that taxes should essentially be voluntary. Let me tell you, that's genius.

For the taxes we pay to keep the library open, I would like smiles on the faces of the librarians. I now feel obligated to go to the library since I’m paying so much to keep it open.

Not to rub it in, but once again, the author's annual income is $0. "You're" not paying jack to keep it open. And this statement might be the most explicit and best example of the incredibly inflated sense of self-importance of the teabagging crowd. They're like adult-sized infants. Me, me, me. My wants are the most important. My contributions to society are so important that people should literally kiss my ass in gratitude when I pass.

Hope the library has picture books.
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Pleasure Driveway PKD? I had to look it up. Not only do I have to pay taxes to this fund, but I still have to pay to get into the zoo or the RiverPlex. I appreciate a good park, but it’s absurd to pay this amount. Maybe a plaque should be hung at each park stating that this is funded by taxpayers who pay at least one paycheck per year to keep this open.
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The RiverPlex is free and I'm pretty goddamn sure that most sentient human adults do not need a plaque to tell them that public facilities are paid for by tax dollars.

Can't help but love the "I'm not unreasonable, I object to the absurdity of the size of the tax burden" statements. First, there is no level of taxes above zero that this dingbat would not spend the vast majority of her life bitching about. Second, what is a reasonable amount to pay in taxes? We should probably just send everyone a blank form and have them write in an amount they have determined to be appropriate based on the voices in their head and how much they hate black people.

I should get bus passes for the amount we are paying to mass transit.

The bus costs a fucking dollar. One dollar, with free transfers. Also if this garbage bag of meat has ever been on public transit in her life I'll donate $1000 to her favorite charity, which is probably something that provides legal defense to abortion clinic bombers.

I am sure that many homeowners never see their property tax bill, but I think that it would behoove them to take a moment and see where that large chunk of money is actually going.

What? They mail it to you. You don't have to answer three riddles to get it. It's not balanced atop a greased flagpole. It's not written in a dead language. It comes in the mail and you open it and there's words and numbers.

Peoria residents may have voted in some of these taxes, but did they understand that if they didn’t pay them, they could lose the very house that they have worked years to buy?

No, they voted for these taxes assuming that they would never have to pay them or they could pay however much they want, and that there would be no consequences to deciding not to follow the law. The author apparently does not understand what a law is and projects that assumption onto everyone else. This is classic right wing vitriol – "Everything I say suggests that I haven't the slightest goddamn idea how government works or what it does, but I know it's terrible and everything it does is wrong."

Heather Olsson is a stay-at-home mother of seven.

Congratulations, you can have unprotected sex.
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You might find that money is a little less tight if you don't reproduce like a cockroach. Then again we've already established that the rest of society is supposed to accommodate your choices, right?

If this is the real America then America is an embarrassment. As someone who teaches college undergraduates I thought I was immune to being shocked by how wildly full of themselves some people can be despite having no skills, motivation, or accomplishments whatsoever. I was wrong.


You're just going to have to trust me on this one because I have no way of proving it, but before I read this post on Donald Sterling from Tea Party icon / ex-Congressman Allen West (who managed the amazing feat of being too insane for Florida voters) I bet myself $5 that he would mention Benghazi. It was too easy to predict that this would end up being about Obama. Fish in a barrel. But I had faith that at his Allen West Best – smearing shit on himself while he swings from chandeliers at the John Birch Society headquarters – he could make this about Benghazi. Because if we know anything about the Tea Party, Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Card Check Fast and Furious Solyndra Benghazi.

I'm sick and cranky and I can't believe adult Americans elected this person to Congress. Let's just do this. Let's enjoy the perspective of someone who Tea Pertiers love because he's as insane as all the other halfwits they put on pedestals with the added benefit of making them feel not-racist because, hey, they like one black person now.

“Upon further review, the ruling on the field (court)…” These are the words stated by referees after they’ve gone to the reply booth (monitor) in order to clarify a controversial call. Often, the reason for the review is because of a coach’s challenge. Therefore, in the same light, let us review the case of LA Clippers owner, Donald Sterling.

Yes, let's take this to the "reply booth." It's clearly the kind of thing that will look different if we change our perspective. There's a ton of subtlety here and once we look at this in a more nuanced way we'll come to see that Donald Sterling had some interesting things to say about the kind of black people who smell.

There can be no debate that the words of Mr. Sterling were reprehensible and disgusting. But how and why did these words come to light now, when his points of view were apparently well-known for many years?

Pretty basic example of the R. Kelly Theorem. You can get away with a lot if you avoid cameras and microphones. Allen West knows this problem all too well, as his primary shortcoming as a politician was that cameras and microphones recorded his words. Eventually this allowed people to determine that he is insane. I can see why he feels empathy for Sterling.

It seems his “girlfriend,” Ms. Stiviano, decided to tape a private conversation between the two. Apparently, Ms. Stiviano had recently been sued by the estranged wife of Mr. Sterling, so there is some potential nefarious motive involved.

Sounds like a stand-up guy already. Sell it.

Furthermore, the taping of a conversation without consent of the other party is illegal under California statute. There is some question as to whether he knew he was being recorded. Let’s assume for the moment he didn’t.

Sterling should sue her in a California court for secretly recording him. I'm serious.

That should reverse all of the damage done. Really set things right. Now I'm not being serious.

The national outrage against Mr. Sterling has come from an act that could be illegal and inadmissible in a court of law. Nevertheless, the court of public opinion has tried and convicted Mr. Sterling of being a jerk.

Well, our court system does not currently adjudicate questions of whether someone is a jagoff. Maybe someday. It would require a constitutional amendment or at least a law against jagoffery. But Allen, are you arguing that we shouldn't pass judgment on someone unless it comes from legally admissible evidence? Cool! That's an interesting new standard. Let ACORN know.

But have we come to a point in America where being a jerk is grounds for confiscation of a private property? It was Englishman John Locke who first proposed that individual rights as granted under natural law were life, liberty, and property. It was Thomas Jefferson who in the American Declaration of Independence used that paradigm to propose our unalienable rights from our Creator being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sterling’s comments were repulsive, but they were stated in the privacy of his own home — at least he thought it was private.

OK this is an important point – it's not "property." It's not "his" team. It's a franchise. Do you know what a franchise is? Let's use a McDonald's franchise as an analogy. If you violate your franchise agreement – say, you decide not to clean your restrooms and you take the Big Mac off the menu in favor of McMuskrat Strips – the corporation takes away your franchise. You're operating it as though you own it, but your "ownership" is subject to the agreed upon conditions. Franchise agreements exist because the behavior of one franchisee affects all others. If someone patronizes your shitty restaurant and swears off McDonald's forever, that makes it harder for every other franchisee to make money not to mention the corporate office.

So if one NBA owner makes it harder for every other franchise to make money – say, by causing people to boycott games and generally diminishing the image of a league with a large black fan base – the NBA will protect its interests.

So where do we go from here?

You go to the library to learn what "franchise" means.

Have we come to the point that private conversations can be taped and released in the public domain in order to ruin the livelihood –pursuit of happiness — of private citizens?

Is this a serious question? OK let me ask one too: "Have we come to the point that a picture of a private citizen at a Klan rally can be released into the public domain to ruin someone's pursuit of happiness?"

Ms. Stiviano, or whomever, knew exactly what they wanted the end result to be as they released this tape to TMZ.

I bet she also knew exactly what she wanted the result to be when she added water to oatmeal and put it in the microwave. I am so bored with whatever "argument" West is making here that I am daydreaming a "House" script where it is actually lupus. They solve the case in like five minutes and the rest of the episode is just Cameron and 13 making out in the shower. I see some potential here.

Is this the “new normal?”

Yes. Everyone is carrying a recording device everywhere.

Is this a violation of our privacy rights?

No. You're very stupid.

Ok, so what types of conversations occur in the privacy of the NBA locker rooms, or the homes of the players? Yes, this is indeed a slippery slope as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban asserted.

To paraphrase the right wing argument about Bush-era wiretapping, as long as you're not going on racist rants you shouldn't have anything to worry about!

Fox News host and commentator Greg Gutfeld applauded this moment because of the consensus outrage being displayed. But I believe this outrage misplaced, or more accurately, mis-prioritized. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Sterling’s behavior was “dangerous to the NBA.”

But it isn't, right Allen?

Where is the cultural, public outrage over a behind closed door comment such as referring to the State of Israel as an “apartheid state?” Probably most of America doesn’t know who said it or even what “aparteid” means.

First of all, when a word has the red squiggle under it that means you misspelled it. Second, there is no outrage because this statement is A) true and B) absolutely not even a little bit slightly analogous to what Sterling said. I mean, I guess if you want to twist it and argue that they are similar you're doing the rest of us a favor by admitting that you have so little rhetorical ground on which to stand that you have to stoop to this ridiculous level to make your "just as bad" argument.

Or how about the outrage that should have come when our own president leaned over to then-Russian President Medvedev sayng, “Tell Putin that after my reelection I will have more flexibility” and of course Medvedev said, “I will tell Vladimir.” And now we know what that “flexibility” has allowed.

Aren’t those “private” chats reflective of behavior that is dangerous for the United States?

Yeah I can see how we got here from Donald Sterling.

Or how about the lies and deceit of President Obama on healthcare and of course Benghazi, which we now know a video had nothing to do with.


"And of course Benghazi." This is like satire, only better. Now do one about the cost of real estate in San Francisco and connect it to Benghazi. Difficulty Level 9. You can do it.

Has our culture devolved to the point that the private statements of an NBA owner draws more outrage than the lies and deceit of the President of the United States?

Well plenty of You People have been extremely outraged over that for years now. It's deceptive and inaccurate to pretend that no one cares. But it's correct to say that most of us don't care. The reason we don't care is that it's a big cauldron of horseshit that anyone with even the most basic understanding of the facts – that excludes the Teabaggers, so you're in the clear Allen! – realizes is a wingnut conspiracy theory that falls apart under the barest scrutiny.

Donald Sterling’s behavior is despicable, but so is that of President Barack Hussein Obama — and whose abhorrent behavior has more impact on our country?

One of those is objectively true. The other is Allen West's opinion. Being a very stupid and demonstrably unhinged person, Allen West's opinion carries as much weight as a dormouse.

The difference is that the media lead us along like sheep to the slaughter, turning us into reactionary, shallow thinking, low information voters along the way.

We know more about Sterling than Benghazi — or the IRS scandal.

YEAH THERE'S THAT "IRS SCANDAL" THAT WAS COMPLETELY DEBUNKED LIKE A YEAR AGO. The media did drop the ball – by reporting on it as a "scandal" in the first place without doing any research just to appeal to old hysterical white people, the cornerstone of the cable news audience.

Sterling is a jerk, an unlikeable fella, but is he guilty of a crime that demands his property be confiscated? Uh, no.

Are you on any meds, Allen? You can't seriously be this stupid. I am starting to feel racist trying to quantify just how unintelligent you are. This sounds like it was written by a middle school student, and not a particularly bright one. The "slow" kid who sits in the back, has a rat tail, and teaches the other nine year-olds how to swear.

We’re told however that Obama is a likable fella –regardless of the incessant lies, deceit and abject failures. What is happening to American culture and values?

I don’t like jerks, but I really don’t like jerks who are liars, do you?

Jerks and liars are pretty bad, but I prefer either to drooling morons.

You know what's odd about death? When you die, you don't realize you're dead so it can't upset you. It's everyone around you who has to struggle to deal with it.
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In that sense death and stupidity are very similar, Allen.


It's hard being the New York Times. The modern media paradigm necessitates Fairness to Both Sides and the inclusion of Conservative Voices. The Times' target audience, though, will not tolerate the level of stupidity and factual inaccuracy (remember the brief NYT-Bill Kristol marriage?) from the average right wing columnist. The paper is forced to find someone with that magical Will / Brooks / Buckley skill set that solders a layer of expensive boarding school erudition over the same old lowest common denominator conservative arguments. They need a conservative who looks and sounds like the readers expect, like someone who might be an associate professor at an expensive liberal arts college and not the usual Limbaugh-esque gas bag. They need Ross Douthat.

Ross's leather blazer and manicured facial hair ensure that he looks the part, but it's the Brooksian intellectual dishonesty inherent in trying to make right wing arguments sound palatable to smart people that make him a star. He showcases all of his skills in "Terms of Our Surrender," a rambling, mealy-mouthed defense of homophobia. Don't worry, he doesn't call it "homophobia." That would be off-putting to Times readers. Hmm, what would be a better name?

That's what we call a teaser. Buckle up!

It now seems certain that before too many years elapse, the Supreme Court will be forced to acknowledge the logic of its own jurisprudence on same-sex marriage and redefine marriage to include gay couples in all 50 states.

Here Ross uses the time-honored tactic of approaching the reader hat-in-hand, head hung low, inviting your pity from the word go. Look, he's already beaten! Shouldn't you take it easy on him? Cut him a little slack, intellectually speaking? Of course, unless you're history's greatest monster.

Once this happens, the national debate essentially will be finished, but the country will remain divided, with a substantial minority of Americans, most of them religious, still committed to the older view of marriage.

If people can get used to lady police officers and male flight attendants, we can accept anything!

So what then? One possibility is that this division will recede into the cultural background, with marriage joining the long list of topics on which Americans disagree without making a political issue out of it.

Sounds good. This has been a Ross Douthat Column. Good night and god bless. We'll see you next week with some foreign policy concern trolling about Russia!

In this scenario, religious conservatives would essentially be left to promote their view of wedlock within their own institutions, as a kind of dissenting subculture emphasizing gender differences and procreation, while the wider culture declares that love and commitment are enough to make a marriage. And where conflicts arise – in a case where, say, a Mormon caterer or a Catholic photographer objected to working at a same-sex wedding –

Find me a pair of gay dudes or lesbians anywhere – ANYWHERE – who would hire a Mormon caterer for their wedding. Unless he happens to have the only artisanal craft lilac cocktails in the city, something tells me that isn't happening. And if he does, then he's probably down with the gays.

And that Catholic photographer, does he pass moral judgment on every potential client or just the gay ones? If he's anything like most professional photographers he's probably on his knees thanking a sampling of deities every time a client makes the phone ring, signifying one more week before the photography "business" dream dies and he heads back to working the night maintenance shift at PetSmart.

gay rights supporters would heed the advice of gay marriage's intellectual progenitor, Andrew Sullivan, and let the dissenters opt out "in the name of their freedom — and ours."

Gay marriage: invented by Andrew Sullivan. Funny, I thought the Spartans invented it.

But there’s another possibility, in which the oft-invoked analogy between opposition to gay marriage and support for segregation in the 1960s South is pushed to its logical public-policy conclusion. In this scenario, the unwilling photographer or caterer would be treated like the proprietor of a segregated lunch counter, and face fines or lose his business — which is the intent of recent legal actions against a wedding photographer in New Mexico, a florist in Washington State, and a baker in Colorado.

Florists, bakers, wedding photographers – you know, gay shit.

Perhaps the reason people keep using that analogy is that it's a pretty good analogy, like how people use the term "racist" to describe people who say, believe, and do racist things.

Meanwhile, pressure would be brought to bear wherever the religious subculture brushed up against state power.

Ahh, the re-branding begins. It's not homophobia or discrimination, it's "dissent". It's not a bunch of assholes hung up on The Gays, it's a "subculture."

Until someone can show me the part of the Bible that says you don't have to serve someone in a restaurant or other place of business if you think they are a sinner, it's not a subculture. True, Jesus did say, "If someone sins, fuck 'em" but I think religious scholars have found some ambiguity over time.

These people don't need a law to protect them, they need a therapist. They need to find out exactly what it is about someone else having the gay sexes that drives them so insane.

Religious-affiliated adoption agencies would be closed if they declined to place children with same-sex couples. (This has happened in Massachusetts and Illinois.) Organizations and businesses that promoted the older definition of marriage would face constant procedural harassment, along the lines suggested by the mayors who battled with Chick-fil-A.

Well, when a company's attitudes are out of line with the beliefs of their customer base, that tends to happen. Maybe the better solution would be to avoid mixing the sale of greasy chicken sandwiches with morally indignant politicking. The president of Chipotle might be a Level IX Klansman for all I know, but he doesn't tell me about it while I'm in the middle of the only six-to-eight enjoyable minutes in my life in any given week with one of his burritos.

And, eventually, religious schools and colleges would receive the same treatment as racist holdouts like Bob Jones University, losing access to public funds and seeing their tax-exempt status revoked.

This sounds awesome! Wait, is he trying to sell this or turn us against it?

In the past, this constant-pressure scenario has seemed the less-likely one, since Americans are better at agreeing to disagree than the culture war would suggest. But it feels a little bit more likely after last week’s "debate" in Arizona, over a bill that was designed to clarify whether existing religious freedom protections can be invoked by defendants like the florist or the photographer.

Hmm. Is that what it was?

If you don’t recognize my description of the bill, then you probably followed the press coverage, which was mendacious and hysterical – evincing no familiarity with the legal issues, and endlessly parroting the line that the bill would institute “Jim Crow” for gays. (Never mind that in Arizona it’s currently legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation — and mass discrimination isn't exactly breaking out.)

So why did they need another law? And, absent either law, the status quo in Arizona is that "mass discrimination isn't exactly breaking out"? Well, it sounds like our society is about as perfect as it can be. As long as "mass discrimination" is not taking place in the streets of Arizona, we're good. Ross Douthat, you understand the concept of laws and rights.

Allegedly sensible centrists compared the bill’s supporters to segregationist politicians, liberals invoked the Bob Jones precedent to dismiss religious-liberty concerns, and Republican politicians behaved as though the law had been written by David Duke.

Hmm, when all three of those groups are opposed to a bill, is it likely that they are all wrong or that maybe the bill isn't exactly the Sistine Chapel of abortive legislation?

What makes this response particularly instructive is that such bills have been seen, in the past, as a way for religious conservatives to negotiate surrender — to accept same-sex marriage’s inevitability while carving out protections for dissent. But now, apparently, the official line is that you bigots don’t get to negotiate anymore.

No, legislating permission to discriminate (er, "dissent" – see, doesn't it sound like a noble act of disobedience? Instead of what it is, which is some gay-bashing shitwad trying to throw someone out of his restaurant?) is neither negotiating nor carving out protections. Again, show me the part of any Christian doctrine that suggests that a Christian is morally incapable of providing a professional service for someone who exhibits what he or she considers Un-Christian behavior.

I'll wait.

See, you don't have to paint yourself up in rainbow colors and deep throat a 9-incher in the alley behind a bar called "Rumors," you just have to serve them food. You don't have to follow them home and spot them in the bedroom, you just have to hand them a cake. You don't have to play tambourine in their band, "Ophelia: A Loving Tribute to the Indigo Girls", you just have to take their money in exchange for goods or services. You don't have to condone, endorse, love, or like anything. You are not Supporting Gayness by serving them any more than you are Supporting Eating In Bed and Masturbating by serving single men in their thirties.

If you're interested in passing moral judgment on everyone who walks through the door, maybe the restaurant industry isn't for you. Maybe that man and his wholesome looking wife are on their way to a slavery-themed BDSM orgy at the Airport Radisson. Maybe that couple with the adorable kids is raising them to be atheists. Maybe my friends and I just came from a strip club and are on our way to another, raunchier strip club that won't necessarily throw us out if we try to tip with a money order. The point is, you don't know and it doesn't matter because your opinion of the decisions made by your customers is not relevant.


Which has a certain bracing logic. If your only goal is ensuring that support for traditional marriage diminishes as rapidly as possible, applying constant pressure to religious individuals and institutions will probably do the job. Already, my fellow Christians are divided over these issues, and we’ll be more divided the more pressure we face. The conjugal, male-female view of marriage is too theologically rooted to disappear, but its remaining adherents can be marginalized, set against one other, and encouraged to conform.

Ah, the Christians-as-oppressed-minority canard. Even if that were realistic – which, it is worth noting, it isn't – I guess that would be an admission that being marginalized and encouraged to conform (at "Project Exodus: Summer Camp for Troubled Christian Youth") is not pleasant.

I am being descriptive here, rather than self-pitying.

I've seen crying freshmen girls who need a C or else Dad will kill them who are less self-pitying than you were in this essay, Ross. Try reading the opening paragraph again.

Christians had plenty of opportunities – thousands of years' worth – to treat gay people with real charity, and far too often chose intolerance. (And still do, in many instances and places.) So being marginalized, being sued, losing tax-exempt status – this will be uncomfortable, but we should keep perspective and remember our sins, and nobody should call it persecution.

Just strongly imply it! Wink! Or, like most non-New York Times Christians, just go ahead and complain about it explicitly and often.

But it's still important for the winning side to recognize its power. We are not really having an argument about same-sex marriage anymore, and on the evidence of Arizona, we’re not having a negotiation. Instead, all that's left is the timing of the final victory – and for the defeated to find out what settlement the victors will impose.

Subarus for everyone! Miniature versions of everything! All formal events of state will now be in drag! Everyone apply to Wellesley but also Mount Holyoke or Agnes Scott as safety schools! Ours will be a terrible victory!

Nice try, Ross Douthat. Prettier words, same lame-ass argument.


Is this strictly "No Politics" for NPF?

No. But since it is ostensibly about football and you were deprived of a real post on Thursday I feel it is appropriate to bring you the great philosopher of race Thomas Sowell, currently serving a lifetime appointment as the Token Black Guy of the C- and D-list right-wing columnists who populate Intellectual Chernobyl, as he takes on the hubbub over the name "Washington Redskins." Remember the key right wing rule: If we pay a black person to say it, it can't be racist! Without further delay…here we go.

Bob Costas is one of the premier sportscasters and a very smart guy, so it was somewhat surprising to see him join the chorus of those decrying the fact that the owner of the Washington Redskins is resisting the pressures to change the name of his football team.

If he is a very smart guy then it is the opposite of surprising that he would conclude that the name "Redskins" – you know, an actual explicit reference to labeling a group of people by skin color – is offensive. It fits in well with some of the other major sports franchises like the Arizona Wetbacks, New York Heebs, Chicago Darkies, and Boston Impotent Drunks, except that none of those are real and Washington Redskins is.

The argument is that American Indians are offended by the name, though there is no compelling evidence that most American Indians are worked up about it.

Nor is there any evidence that anyone intended the name to be insulting, either by this team or any number of other sports teams that have called themselves some variation of the name "Indians."

You guys know Thomas Sowell, right? The coon who writes for Town Hall?

Oh come on, I had no intention of insulting anyone there. I was just using a neutral, descriptive adjective. There's no evidence that this was offensive.

After all, neither individuals nor teams give themselves names that they consider insulting, whether they are calling themselves Indians, Vikings or The Fighting Irish.

Well, Notre Dame was a bunch of Irish priests deciding to call themselves the Fighting Irish. "Vikings" is the actual name of a group of people. So as long as there is an Indian tribe called "Redskins" or the team is owned by Indians, this analogy makes sense.


Nevertheless, Dartmouth, Stanford and other colleges that once called their teams Indians succumbed to the politically correct pressures and changed their names. But that is no reason why the Washington Redskins should succumb to those pressures.

Well colleges are a bit different, as many are full of people who like to think about things.

Among the reasons why they should not is the fact that being offended is one of the tactics of a race hustling industry that is doing more harm to Indians and other minorities than any name is likely to do. Some people are in the business of being offended, just as Campbell is in the business of making soup.

That kind of analogy is what separates the real Pro Writers from the rank amateurs. I will overlook the grammatical error and bask in the delicious irony of someone who makes a living writing right-wing opinion columns accusing someone else of making a career out of being offended. This is on Town Hall for chrissakes, the website that raised phony histrionics to an art form. Is there an example of any of these hack ass-clowns doing anything other than working themselves into a disingenuous lather over something that isn't even true?

No. No there is not. That's why Town Hall uses the overly-literal motto, "Hack Ass-Clowns Working Ourselves into a Lather Over Shit We Fabricate." Clunky, but it gets the point across.

Shelby Steele's best-selling book "White Guilt" provides sharp insights into the many counterproductive consequences of white guilt that can be exploited by race hustlers, to the detriment of blacks and whites alike. The sports team gambit is just one of many.

So…someone who writes a book called "White Guilt" and sells a million copies to angry white people is…not?…a "race hustler"?

So long as the race industry — the Al Sharptons, Jesse Jacksons, and their counterparts in various minorities — can get political or financial mileage out of being offended, they are going to be offended.

Don't forget the Shelby Steeles and Thomas Sowells! Unless I'm misunderstanding the definition of "race hustler", which would seem to encompass someone who writes a book for right-wing America about how "various minorities" are engaged in a devious plot to manufacture racism.

The only thing that will put a stop to this racket is refusing to be taken in by it or intimidated by it.

How brave! How noble!

I've got an idea, Thomas. Go up to an Indian and say "Hey, redskin!" To his face. Try it with several different people, or maybe even shout it at a group of people. Report back.

Looked at in isolation, Bob Costas' opinion about the names of sports teams is one that reasonable people might agree or disagree with.

And as soon as we can find some "reasonable people" in the Right Wing Media Daisy Chain for Satantm I bet we'll have one hell of a productive conversation. Until then it's just more THE COLORED PEOPLE ARE TAKING OVER AND THE WORLD YOU'VE KNOWN FOR 75 YEARS IS CHANGING!!!111!! nonsense. Same flimsy product, same audience.

But, unfortunately, this issue is not something that exists in isolation.

No, Thomas, it sure doesn't. Taken in isolation, this single sentence could be interpreted as evidence that you understand things. But let's take that sliver of hope out behind the barn and put a bullet in its brain, shall we?

It is part of a whole grievance-generating campaign that poisons race relations. That campaign is conducted not only by the race industry but also by all too many in the media and in the education system, from elementary schools to the universities.

Minorities poison race relations, not the Town Hall audience. Not Michelle Malkin. Not Trent Lott. Not Rush Limbaugh.

Got it. Makes perfect sense. Let's applaud the group of people who are upset that they can't paint their faces and dress like "indians" or shout "fag" in public anymore without getting dirty looks. They're the reasonable people here. Not those nasty minorities.

Young blacks are especially susceptible to the message that all their problems are caused by white people — and that white society is never going to give them a chance. In short, they are primed to resent and hate individuals they have never seen before and who have never done a thing to them.

Well let's go ahead and redact this since it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at all.

Thomas Sowell, professional journalist.

Social dynamite can accumulate among whites as well as among blacks. White extremist hate groups already exist, though they are a fringe, as the Nazis were once a disdained fringe in Germany. It was the people's loss of confidence in the respectable institutions of society that gave the Nazis their chance for power.

We're back. He's about to compare "political correctness" to Nazism. As all good writers know, nothing shouts CREDIBLE quite like comparing people to the Nazis.

Especially when comparing racial minorities to Nazis.

The blind and dishonest political correctness of our media and educational institutions on racial issues today can eventually forfeit the confidence of Americans and give similar extremist groups their chance to ignite a race war in the United States. And once a race war starts, it can be virtually impossible to stop.

Shorter Thomas Sowell: If we change the name of the Washington Redskins, it will start a race war. Because there's this race hustler industry of minorities so I guess they would be the ones starting it? Not the spitting-mad, elderly white shut-ins that form the Other Side of this issue?

Well, I sure don't like race wars, so…we'd better continue to allow white football fans and NFL owners to call themselves "Redskins." The logic is pretty flawless. Will that be enough to avert the race war, or do I also have to lobby Liberal Academia to let students go on White Power rants in class and claim academic freedom?

I wish there were an easier way. But so be it, Thomas. So be it.


Full disclosure: I'm doing sloppy seconds on John Stossel's stupidity. Jim Wright has already taken a whack at this column (structured around a reference to my favorite book to boot) but he made what I believe is the fatal mistake of attempting to take it seriously. Mr. Wright appears to be what is known as a "mature adult" who addressed the fundamental flaws with Stossel's woefully inaccurate rant. As I am not similarly encumbered, let's man the Pants Shitting Joke cannon and fire at will!

There's not much I need to say to introduce John Stossel. He is a stupid person who writes stupid things for a stupid audience that pays well to be told the stupid things it wants to hear. He also has a stupid mustache. He looks an awful lot like Geraldo, but wingers seem to like him a bit more because he isn't Messican. He also went to Princeton. Keep that in mind when you're reading his take on Roman history. He has written a book with the hi-larious title, No We Can't and recently wrote this piece "Are We Rome Yet?" The council of 12 year old boys that workshops titles for him might be in line for a raise!

Unfortunately, the fall of Rome is a pattern repeated by empires throughout history … including ours?

Oh, hello! I didn't expect to see you there.

That's John Stossel beginning his piece, seemingly in the middle of a thought. I'm just going to get all the Serious Things out of the way up front, if that's alright.

The Roman Republic and the Roman Empire are two very different historical entities that failed for very different reasons. Further, the Empire was divided into halves that were essentially autonomous by 100 AD. I'm no expert on ancient Rome so I'll leave deeper criticisms of this point to more capable hands, but I did want to acknowledge the bleedingly obvious: that John Stossel, Princetonian and journalist regularly featured in major media outlets, obliterates all of these distinctions.

A group of libertarians gathered in Las Vegas recently for an event called "FreedomFest." We debated whether America will soon fall, as Rome did.

In other news, NORML met to discuss whether America needs stricter laws against marijuana.

I wonder if Nevada's prostitutes get hazard pay for working during "FreedomFest." The mind reels at what they must get asked to do once the donors from FreedomWorks and Glenn Reynolds' comment section get shitty drunk on Crème de Menthe and hit the Strip on their travel expense accounts.

For any of Stossel's readers, I recommend the Cat House in Ely, NV. They're realty accommodating, so they'll write up a receipt for your four-way Albuquerque Wagon Wheel in the Latex Room as a deluxe breakfast buffet. The accounting department will never know your secret!

Historian Carl Richard said that today's America resembles Rome.

Someone found similarities between two governments? How hard is it to cherry-pick some things that make any two societies or states "resemble" one another?

But I don't know Dr. Richard, and I'll assume that his analysis goes deep enough to make some valid points. I'm certain you'll treat his academic argument with all the complexity and nuance that the subject deserves, John.
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The Roman Republic had a constitution, but Roman leaders often ignored it. "Marius was elected consul six years in a row, even though under the constitution (he) was term-limited to one year."

False. The Roman Senate voided that law because the city was in imminent danger of being sacked by loosely organized tribes of vandals. John Stossel, you are a very stupid person. And can we get a fucking Pulitzer for his editors on this one, too? There's more than enough glory in this sentence for everyone to share!

Sounds like New York City's Mayor Bloomberg.

No. It does not sound like that at all, not even a tiny little bit. The only similarity is that Stossel is wrong about both of them being re-elected "illegally". Marius was a quasi-dictator, a Missing Link that connected the Republic to the Empire that it would become. Michael Bloomberg is a mayor. A mayor of a city that isn't even the capital of its state. New York City is an exceptionally important city, sure. But Michael Bloomberg has about as much political power, in the grand scheme, as Eric Garcetti. That's the mayor of LA. You have never heard of him because the mayor of some big city in which you do not live is not politically relevant.

"We have presidents of both parties legislating by executive order, saying I'm not going to enforce certain laws because I don't like them. … That open flouting of the law is dangerous because law ceases to have meaning. … I see that today. … Congress passes huge laws they haven't even read (as well as) overspending, overtaxing and devaluing the currency."

Hmm. I wonder how Dr. Richard and his quote-sampler felt back in 2002 when Congress was passing laws it didn't read.
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This is one of those hare-brained conservative talking points (for their harelipped voting base, appropriately enough) that turns something that has been political reality forever (i.e., teleprompters, presidents going on vacation) into a partisan crisis. Congress doesn't read the 10,000-page bills it passes? I wonder when that began? Must have been 2009, right?

The Romans were worse. I object to President Obama's $100 million dollar trip, but Nero traveled with 1,000 carriages.

It's non-sequitur time!!!!!one!!!!11!!!

I remember when George Bush made foreign visits. He went without the Secret Service on an old steamship – the SS Torpedo Magnet – because he was too austere to fly Air Force One. In fact he sold the plane and replaced it with a DC-3. He also acted as his own secretary and conserved water by never changing or washing his clothes. He shit nickels into a special cleaning tank at the U.S. Mint but truth be told, they came out so clean that you could pretty much put a warm, fresh one right in your mouth without suffering any ill effects.

Those were the days. Then this uppity negro came along and started flying everywhere First Class and probably bringing along a whole team of chefs so he could have fried chicken in every country.

Tiberius established an "office of imperial pleasures," which gathered "beautiful boys and girls from all corners of the world" so, as Tacitus put it, the emperor "could defile them."

Oh, I see where he's gonna go with this. He's going to compare this to the huge harem of kids that Obama keeps in the Rose Garden for raping. And he'll probably bring up Michelle Obama's "Open Wide, Kids!" initiative, to limber the kids up for all the raping. You know, Stossel might be right. I really see the parallels here.

Emperor Commodus held a show in the Colosseum at which he personally killed five hippos, two elephants, a rhinoceros and a giraffe.

You guys remember when Obama appeared at the Super Bowl to toss the coin and to kill five hippos, two elephants, a rhinoceros, and a giraffe? I was like, come on. Even by American standards this is a bit much.

We're so much like Rome, it's eerie.

To pay for their excesses, emperors devalued the currency. (Doesn't our Fed do that by buying $2 trillion of government debt?)


Nero reduced the silver content of coins to 95 percent. Then Trajan reduced it to 85 percent and so on. By the year 300, wheat that once cost eight Roman dollars cost 120,000 Roman dollars.

The Stossel Proof of Inflation, ladies and gentlemen. Years from now you will remember where you are and what you were wearing when John Stossel proved that inflation is a thing.

Side note: Isn't it great to watch libertarians struggle to write anything without it turning into some sort of rant about fiat currency? Enough about the president I was talking about in the last sentence, kids. Let's get to my pet obsession.

The president of the Foundation for Economic Education, Lawrence Reed, warned that Rome, like America, had an expanding welfare state. It started with "subsidized grain. The government gave it away at half price. But the problem was that they couldn't stop there … a man named Claudius ran for Tribune on a platform of free wheat for the masses. And won. It was downhill from there."

First of all, yes. Please tell us what a hack from an obscure right-wing think tank has to say about this.

Second, this is so ahistorical that I can barely wrap my mind around how fucking stupid it is. Let's include the next part before I elaborate…

Soon, to appease angry voters, emperors gave away or subsidized olive oil, salt and pork. People lined up to get free stuff.
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The Roman government was giving this stuff away because the city and the society were on the brink of complete collapse. The supply chain through which people would ordinarily get these things – presumably in exchange for money, which is worth something before societies are beseiged by barbarian tribes and nearly destroyed – ceased to exist.

This is like complaining that the government gave free food to people in Oklahoma City after tornadoes destroyed their community, or to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Rome was an extremely advanced society for its time, but it was not exactly a modern industrial one. If the harvest failed, everyone fucking starved. If invading tribes burned the crops, ditto.
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It's not like Romans had the option of going to Costco and were simply too lazy to do it.

Oh why in the hell am I wasting my time trying to explain this to John Stossel. Look, this entire comparison is ludicrous. Just ludicrous. Trying to compare two governments that existed 1800 years apart, and a modern and pre-modern society, is the kind of thing that only very stupid people do to try to prove some tired, hacky ideological point.

Sure, John. Rome fell because of the nanny state creating dependency and entitlement. Maybe it was the Moors, amirite? *WINK*

As inflation increased, Rome, much like the U.S. under President Nixon, imposed wage and price controls. When people objected, Emperor Diocletian denounced their "greed," saying, "Shared humanity urges us to set a limit."

Just randomly leaping from point to point here, aren't we.

So, to be clear, he doesn't want the government to give them food. He also doesn't want the government to cap prices on food so that PEOPLE CAN BUY IT THEMSELVES. He wants a pure, libertarian market to exist. 1700 years ago. While an ancient civilization is disintegrating. Clearly that dominated the thoughts of political leaders like Diocletian. "Yes, but what about markets?"

Doesn't that sound like today's anti-capitalist politicians?

No. Not in the least little bit. Name one of Today's Policians who has proposed price controls. Name one who has proposed giving away free food to whoever gets in line for it. Name one thing Congress or this president have done that even remotely resembles or approaches either of these things.

Diocletian was worse than Nixon. Rome enforced controls with the death penalty – and forbid people to change professions. Emperor Constantine decreed that those who broke such rules "be bound with chains and reduced to servile condition."

*presses palms to mouth*


Eventually, Rome's empire was so large – and people so resentful of centralized control – that generals in outlying regions began declaring independence from Rome.

We see what you did here, John. Just don't you dare try to leave without taking Mississippi and South Carolina. That aside, don't let the door hit you in the ass. Build a great big fence on the border. We don't want your kind coming up here to go to hospitals.

At FreedomFest, Matt Kibbe, president of the tea party group FreedomWorks, also argued that America could soon collapse like Rome did.

Yes, let's hear from the president of the fucking Tea Party.

Why are we even paying attention to the Tea Party anymore? How have they been relevant in the last three years? Covering the Tea Party is like covering Tiger Woods at this point – there's no longer any reason to do it and no one in the media is entirely sure why they do it, but it's a habit at this point so they just go with it. The Tea Party's greatest contribution to American politics has been to cost the Republicans a number of winnable Senate seats. Keep up the good work, assrockets.

"The parallels are quite ominous — the debt, the expansionist foreign policy, the arrogance of executive power taking over our country," says Kibbe. "But I do think we have a chance to stop it."


Also, please visit and have your credit card ready to donate. The Tea Party has a plan to stop this, but they need your help! The first 500 donors will receive a tote bag with the FreedomWorks logo (two elderly people beating a Hispanic man with walkers).

That's a big difference between today's America and yesterday's Rome. We have movements like the tea party and libertarianism and events like FreedomFest that alert people to the danger in imperial Washington and try to fight it. If they can wake the public, we have hope.

Yeah, the Tea Party and this circular pud-pull of libertarian bag men in Las Vegas is a real honest-to-god freedom fighters' movement. What bold, heroic souls. The history books will tell tales of how Francis Marion crawled through the swamp on his belly to thwart the hated British Army during the American Revolution, and how John Stossel and a bunch of interns from FreedomWorks got the special Convention Rate at Circus Circus – they just love the retirment home-meets-FEMA Camp atmosphere – and watched the D-List stars of the right wing media give canned lectures to a room full of like-minded white guys.

The triumph of liberty is not inevitable, though. And empires do crumble.

And rain does make things wet. And eating too much cake gives you a stomach ache. And cutting your hair makes it shorter. And reading what John Stossel writes when he's 20 minutes out from his deadline and he clearly doesn't give a shit anymore because he knows his editor won't care and that his audience will pretty much lap up anything and applaud him by slapping their diabetic, Twizzler-sticky hands together and shouting "YOU TELL'UM, JAWN!" makes you dumber.

Rome's lasted the longest. The Ottoman Empire lasted 623 years. China's Song, Qing and Ming dynasties each lasted about 300 years. We've lasted just 237 years so far — sometimes behaving like a republic and sometimes an empire. In that time, we've accomplished amazing things, but we shouldn't take our continued success for granted.

If the Tea Party is our only hope to keep the republic together, then fuck the republic. Grab a sledgehammer and follow me to the dam. It's time to wash this all away. A republic that could only be saved by reverting to theocracy, oligarchy, and militarism is not worth saving. Sane people look at the medicine these people want to administer and think, "I'll take my chances with the disease."

Freedom and prosperity are not natural. In human history, they're rare.

Thinking of an ending is hard, isn't it, John?

Just the other day, I had a really nice apple.