SUSAN BROWN GETS THE FJM TREATMENT

Posted in Rants on January 18th, 2012 by Ed

I've been at this for almost a decade, and over that time my Spider Sense for terrible editorializing has gotten pretty good. It's impossible to explain, but sometimes you look at a headline and author and you just know. So when I saw "Over-Regulation is Choking the Life Out of Business" by someone named Susan Brown ("op-ed columnist, motivational speaker, military family advocate and grief counselor") I had a powerful revelation. The Giant from Twin Peaks appeared to me in a vision and said "Ed, this is going to be based on an anecdote about her own failed business or that of an immediate family member." And when he talks, you listen.

So I honestly began this column by betting myself that I was about to read about Susan Brown's failed business (or that of a close relative) or I'd donate $5 to Santorum 2012. I don't want to give away too much, but suffice it to say that no financial transactions between Ed and Rick have occurred. Alright kids, I hope you're all ready to watch a no-name advice columnist fist logic. Let's roll!

I guess we were supposed to be encouraged last week when the regulator-in-chief pulled out his plastic preschool scissors while promising to cut the government down to size. "The government we have is not the government we need," Obama announced to a group of business owners at the White House on January 13, 2011. Obama promised he'd snip off a scant $3 billion over the next ten years — in exchange for just a little more power.

Meh. This generic tripe portends little more than Norquist-style "drown it in the bathtub" prattle about Big Government. I feel like this story needs some color, a personal touch to offset what I'm sure will be a vast amount of supporting data and research.

Given the increase in the size of government since Obama took office, he'll need an earth mover to make any real difference.

Well, it's no SDI or Medicare Part D, but I guess he did what he could. Lay off the guy for trying.

Next week he'll be selling snake oil in the Rose Garden to reduce the deficit.

Boy, Susan's writing skills are certainly leaping off the page, aren't they? Motivational, but also hilarious.

There are many areas in government to cut, chief among them are excessive regulations,

"Excessive regulations" isn't really a thing. When one talks about the size of government the reader naturally thinks about offices, agencies, departments, branches, or expenditures that might be proposed for elimination. What Susan has done instead is to leap from the size of government to a function of government. That's a poor idea in general, but certainly not aided by the total absence of specifics or examples.

Wait.

Well this is embarrassing. I just googled it and it turns out that the Department of Excessive Regulations is a real thing. This is its main office building, located in Reston, VA:

regulations, which are choking the life out of small businesses in this country.

Uh, is it possible that small businesses could fail in this alternate reality for any reason other than Big Gub'mint? According to the Small Business Administration, more than 50% of small business startups fail in their first five years. Presumably for many reasons, the foremost of which is not Excessive Regulations.

Awhile back, my brother Pete decided to chase his version of the American dream.

*Runs victory lap*

God this is gonna be good.

He did his homework; purchased quality used equipment via the internet, and signed a lease – in hopes of opening a small mom and pop style yogurt shop near Charleston, SC. He's a smart businessman, who tries to calculate his decisions carefully.

Well, there you have it: according to this objective analysis, the author's brother is a business wizard. He is a Warren Buffet clone. If his brilliant idea – hopping on the trendy Frozen Yogurt shop fad – fails, it certainly could not be his fault. No mention of his previous business experience, which I'm sure is ample and littered with successes.

Nonetheless, it wasn't long before he found himself tangled in a web of regulatory red tape.

Then I guess he didn't do his homework, did he? For opening a small business, such homework would include things like figuring out what local regulations would have to be followed, what equipment/infrastructure would be required, and what licenses and permits are necessary. That's, like, the first thing you would do. If you weren't an idiot.

He was told he needed to purchase environmentally friendly grease trap equipment, although no frying is involved in serving non-fat yogurt.

Does this requirement by any chance apply to, uh, every single food service establishment in Charleston? I'm not familiar with the travails of the FroYo racket in Charleston, but I find it hard to believe that any of this was a surprise revealed only after he opened the business. Good research, bro!

It didn't stop there. Additional environmental requirements like the installation of specialized wastewater drains, and tens of thousands of dollars for more unessential equipment left him watching his hopes of the American dream go down the drain, along with any hopes of hiring new people should his business succeed.

OK. Couple things here. First, let's note that there are currently four dedicated frozen yogurt establishments in Charleston: FreshBerry, YoBe, Yogurt Mountain (!!!) and TCBY in addition to dozens of ice cream parlors that also serve frozen yogurt. This suggests that either the market is completely saturated or somehow these other restaurants manage to survive under the oppressive regulatory reign of terror. Maybe it's easier to succeed when the owner isn't a moron who doesn't figure out the overhead and startup costs in advance.

Upon further research, it doesn't look like the playing field is entirely fair. The author's brother was required to install "specialized wastewater drains" not required of any other business in Charleston. FreshBerry has no drains at all, YoBe funnels its liquid waste into a giant roof cistern clogged with dead pigeons, and Yogurt Mountain simply heaves its wastewater on the street one bucket at a time. My, he should sue.

My brother is not alone;

Time to generalize the living shit out of that ridiculous, unrepresentative anecdote! The plural of "anecdote" is "data" in the conservative mind. Although in fairness we don't even have multiple anecdotes here. Throw me a bone, Brownie.

his experience has become all too common in the Obama administration's new regulatory normal.

So the requirements of operating a restaurant in a given location are set…by…the…White House? Based on my limited contact with the bar and restaurant industry, the regulations are almost entirely city and county. Occasionally state.

South Carolina's Nikki Haley said it best when she recently told Fox News' Sean Hannity, "I need a partner in the White House." Haley claimed the hardest thing about her job had been the federal government intrusion into South Carolina's business. Though she was a Tea Party favorite, Haley endorsed presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

Well this sure is irrelevant. Also, Haley is campaigning for the VP slot. That might be worth noting.

She said Romney promised to keep the federal government out of South Carolina's way, so it can create jobs.

You know that acquaintance who is a complete loser and blames all of his failures in life on "affirmative action", like he'd be a runaway success except that only women and minorities can succeed in this country? That's South Carolina. "We'd have super-low unemployment if only The Gub'mint would get out of our way!" Sure you would, Cletus. Sure you would. First in secession, last in everything else. Must be DC's fault.

My brother's experience, along with the Department of Labor's January 7, 2012 unemployment report showing an increase in unemployment by 24,000 over the last week makes it quite clear increased regulation is making matters worse.

An anecdote and a single week's unemployment numbers "makes it quite clear" that…there are too many regulations? I see better logic from freshmen. Not much better, granted, but better than this.

Over-regulation has turned the country once hailed as the Land of Opportunity into a place where opportunity only happens in your dreams.

Conclusion well justified by evidence presented. A+++

According to a July 25, 2011 Heritage Foundation article titled "Red Tape Rising: A 2011 Mid-Year Report," the Obama administration has enacted "75 new major regulations from January 2009 to mid-FY 2011, with annual costs of $38 billion." Between October 1, 2010 and March 21, 2011, the administration completed 1827 "rulemaking proceedings," environmental and otherwise, some of which will directly affect private sector start-ups.

The Heritage report found that Obama has outdone his predecessors in that "no other president has burdened businesses and individuals with a higher number and larger cost of regulations in a comparable time period."

A few examples wouldn't hurt, or we could just take the Heritage Foundation's word for it. I mean, they're at LEAST as credible as the tale of Goober Brown's failed FroYo stand. I don't know why I assumed that her brother's name is Goober, but run with it.

And the worst is yet to come when you look at the job-killing, business-quelling regulations under Obamacare's 159 new government offices and programs, the EPA's seven new environmental regulations that will cost businesses $38 billion annually,

1. "Business-quelling"? Is "quelling" the word we want here, guys? This makes sense? OK, according to the editors of TownHall – a 19 year old summer intern from Patrick Henry University and one of Bill Kristol's unemployable kids – this great writing.

2. That same $38 billion figure appears in consecutive harangues. That's one hell of a coincidence, no?

3. Ooooh, scary numbers! Big Gub'mint! These are certainly hard times for the would-be owner of a novelty food service establishment. Hopefully Mitt can lead us back to the frozen yogurt boom years.

in addition to compliance costs of $100 billion, and the 2400-page Dodd-Frank bill the Harvard Business Law Review cites as "the most significant regulatory overhaul since the New Deal."

Yeah, I think the banking and financial industries have suffered from over-regulation for too long.

The cost of overregulation is compounding exponentially, and in the process, is destroying the Land of Opportunity, dream by dream.

Your brother has stupid dreams. Maybe he should be less of a retard and do some research next time he decides that his dream in life is to run a faddish, not to mention seasonal, business.

But don't just take my word for it, ask my brother.

His singular experience recounted in a burst of AM talk show quality anti-government invective would surely persuade all doubters. He sounds like a smart, reasonable person who could objectively evaluate his experience and come to a measured understanding of what went wrong.

This is my all time favorite right-wing logic. If your business fails, it's because there were too many regulations. If you can't afford the lifestyle to which you feel entitled, it's because your taxes are too high. It's never, ever your fault. Party of Personal Responsibility!tm Except when you fail; then it's not merely someone else's fault, but inevitably the government's fault.

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TWO WELL PAID HOOKERS GET THE FJM TREATMENT

Posted in Rants on September 6th, 2011 by Ed

In the age of media saturation and shorter-than-ever attention spans, ideas are marketed no differently than products. And much like the release of a new product is carefully timed to coincide with the circadian rhythms of its particular market niche, ideas must be proposed only when they have the best chance to succeed. For example, an idea for a new banking regulation would best be proposed in the wake of a bank failure or market meltdown. Another example of impeccable timing would be proposing the abolition of the National Weather Service immediately in the wake of a major hurricane.

Is "impeccable" the word I want there?

Ranting about abolishing the Departments of Energy and Education is so 1998. I don't think it's too much to ask of our free market worshiping think tank hacks to come up with a new department to abolish every now and again. Get creative! Iain Murray and David Bier certainly did with "Do We Really Need a National Weather Service?" If you ever find yourself looking at a weather forecast and thinking "Gee, I wish there was someone I could pay for this information," keep reading. Santa has the perfect gift for you. Murray and Bier work under the label of something called the Competitive Enterprise Institute – best known for their climate change "skepticism" and a website called, I shit you not, enjoybottledwater.org. By now it should be clear that you are about to hear some serious weapons-grade free market masturbation here. Ready?

As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast, news stations bombard our televisions with constant updates from the National Hurricane Center.

Boy I can't wait to hear why this is a bad thing. It's clearly bad, right?

While Americans ought to prepare for the coming storm, federal dollars need not subsidize their preparations. Although it might sound outrageous, the truth is that the National Hurricane Center and its parent agency, the National Weather Service, are relics from America’s past that have actually outlived their usefulness.

I…I've got nothing. I'm speechless.

It certainly has outlived its usefulness to the for-profit weather industry and companies like Accu Weather! But more on that in a moment.

The National Weather Service (NWS) was founded in 1870. Originally, the NWS was not a public information agency. It was a national security agency and placed under the Department of War.

Cool story, brah!

The Service’s national security function has long since disappeared, but as agencies often do, however, it stuck around and managed to increase its budget.

Yes, at some point the government got the bright idea that it might be economically and socially useful for people to, I don't know, have some information about the weather.

Today the NWS justifies itself on public interest grounds. It issues severe weather advisories and hijacks local radio and television stations to get the message out.

"Hijacks." It "hijacks" local radio and TV stations to spread "its message," which in this case is…a severe weather advisory.

It presumes that citizens do not pay attention to the weather and so it must force important, perhaps lifesaving, information upon them. A few seconds’ thought reveals how silly this is. The weather might be the subject people care most about on a daily basis.

If anyone can figure out what these sentences mean, please submit your answer in writing along with two color photographs of a shirtless Murray Rothbard to:

Competitive Enterprise Institute
Wacky Word Puzzle Contest
c/o Koch Industries
Abandoned Utility Shed 2-C
Wichita, KS 67202

There is a very successful private TV channel dedicated to it, 24 hours a day, as well as any number of phone and PC apps.

And they get 99% of their data from…wait for it…The National Something Something. Help me out here.

Americans need not be forced to turn over part of their earnings to support weather reporting.

Right. Let's chop the NWS and get all of our info from the Weather Channel, which will get its information from…

The NWS claims that it supports industries like aviation and shipping, but if they provide a valuable contribution to business, it stands to reason business would willingly support their services.

Logic (~1000 BC – Sept. 1, 2011)
It Died of a Broken Heart

If that is the case, the Service is just corporate welfare. If they would not, it is just a waste.

Note how they throw in a pejorative like "corporate welfare" to emphasize that these Koch-chugging corporate whores are actually On Your Side. Fighting for the little guy. Just lookin' out for you.

As for hurricanes, the insurance industry has a compelling interest in understanding them. In a world without a National Weather Service, the insurance industry would probably have sponsored something very like the National Hurricane Center at one or more universities.

"would probably have sponsored something very like the National Hurricane Center". Well, that's good enough for me.

Those replacements would also not be exploited for political purposes.

Sometimes movies remove scenes without realizing that other scenes make reference to the deleted material – like when Han Solo glances at the door of the room where the Wampas are detained in Echo Base as everyone evacuates, knowing that Stormtroopers will eventually blunder into it and be torn apart. Everyone remembers that, right? This is totally like that. I have no f-ing idea what this sentence is supposed to refer to. None.

As it stands today, the public is forced to pay more than $1 billion per year for the NWS. With the federal deficit exceeding a trillion dollars, the NWS is easily overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. It may actually be dangerous.

Oh my god, $1 billion? The amount we spend in Iraq and Afghanistan every 3 days? UNCONSCIONABLE.

Note the ominous teaser…let's learn how the NWS can actually murder you in your sleep.

Relying on inaccurate government reports can endanger lives. Last year the Service failed to predict major flooding in Nashville because it miscalculated the rate at which water was releasing from dams there. The NWS continued to rely on bad information, even after forecasters knew the data were inaccurate. The flooding resulted in 22 deaths.

1. Oh my god…someone got a forecast wrong? A weather forecast?
2. But why did all those people die? Accu Weather, the sponsor of this column, surely issued the correct forecast. Oh wait…

Private weather services do exist, and unsurprisingly, they are better than the NWS.

I'll tell you what IS surprising though – that CEI hacks getting underwritten by the Private Weather Services would come to such a conclusion. As surprising as when Rick Santorum took big campaign donations from the founder of Accu Weather in 2005 and then introduced a bill (which failed to attract a single co-sponsor) to prevent the NWS from issuing any weather forecasts. Coincidence is the lifeblood of free market worship.

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the National Weather Service was twelve hours behind AccuWeather in predicting that New Orleans would be affected. Unlike the NWS, AccuWeather provides precise hour-by-hour storm predictions, one of the reasons private industry supports them.

Come on, guys. This is just ad copy from Accu Weather's PR department. I expect better of you.

It is not just random mistakes in crises either. Forecast Watch has found that

We can't trust big government bureaucrats, but I know who we can trust: objective sources of information like a website run by the lobbying arm of the for-profit weather industry.

Forecast Watch has found that the National Weather Service predictions of snow and rain have an error rate 20 percent higher than their private alternatives. “All private forecasting companies did much better than the National Weather Service,” their report concludes. In 2008, they found that the NWS’s temperature predictions were worse than every private-sector competitor including the Weather Channel, Intellicast, and Weather Underground.

This is the most shocking report I have read since the Corn Refiners Association concluded that corn-based sweeteners are nutritious, delicious, and have the ability to cure cancer.

NWS claims to spread information, but when the topic of budget cuts came up earlier this year, all they spread was fear. “There is a very heightened risk for loss of life if these cuts go through,” NWS forecasters said, “The inability for warnings to be disseminated to the public, whether due to staffing inadequacies, radar maintenance problems or weather radio transmitter difficulties, would be disastrous.” Disastrous? The $126 million in cuts would still have left the Service with a larger budget than it had a decade ago.

A federal agency's budget grew? Stunning. It's pretty stunning that the NWS budget has grown $125 million in that time, compared to the $400 billion growth in defense spending in that same timespan.

The massive bloat in government should not get a pass just because it’s wrapped in good-of-the-community clothing.

*slurp slurp slurp*

How does it taste, guys? Remember to breathe through your nose. Wouldn't want you to choke. And for christ's sake, give your jaw a rest now and then.

NWS services can and are better provided by the private sector. Americans will invest in weather forecasting because if there is one thing we can be certain of, people will want to protect their property and their lives.

I've been trying to clean up the language around here, but I must paraphrase a line from one of my favorite films: WE DO INVEST IN WEATHER FORECASTING, YOU FUCKING FUCK-WIT. WE ALL CONTRIBUTE A TINY PITTANCE ANNUALLY TO SOMETHING CALLED THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, WHICH PROVIDES US WITH WEATHER FORECASTS. YOUR ONLY OBJECTION TO THIS PRACTICE IS THAT THE WEATHER INFORMATION IS NOT HIDDEN BEHIND A PAYWALL WHERE YOUR UNDERWRITERS WILL RE-PACKAGE N.W.S. DATA AND PROFIT FROM IT.

I'm sorry, I don't know what happened there. The key must have gotten stuck.

Reading this gives our pampered, first-world butts a small taste of what it must be like to read North Korean newspapers and history books. Not being quite so used to it, reading this much propaganda gives me a headache.

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BILL BENNETT ROLLS THE DICE, WINS AN FJM TREATMENT

Posted in Rants on July 5th, 2011 by Ed

It seemed like a good idea to get the requisite Bill Bennett Gambling Addiction joke out of the way up front.

Imagine the year is 1840 and you are the world's foremost expert on phrenology. You have devoted your entire life to its study and promotion. You have defended it well against its many critics. In just a few years it will be rejected once and for all by the medical and scientific establishment, exposing it as the quackery it is. What do you do? You've spent half a century on something that turned out to be meaningless, ineffectual pseudoscience. So you do the only thing anyone can do in this situation: you double down and continue to defend it with a dated laundry list of ludicrous, discredited arguments. Might as well go down swinging. Admitting that phrenology isn't real is to admit that your entire life has been a complete waste of time. And who wants to do that?

So on a completely unrelated note, here's former 1980s Drug Czar and legendary War on Drugs evangelist Bill Bennett on the Frank-Paul federal marijuana legalization legislation! More specifically, "Why Barney Frank and Ron Paul Are Wrong on Drug Legalization." Call the babysitter and get out the camera, because you are about to see some really good arguments. Ready?

From certain precincts on the left, notably Barney Frank, to certain precincts on the right, notably the editorial page of National Review, we are witnessing a new push to end the so-called war on drugs and legalize drug use, starting with marijuana.

Well we almost made it one sentence without factual misstatements. The proposed legislation eliminates federal penalties for marijuana use, meaning that states would have discretion over whether marijuana would be legal within its borders. This is similar to other issues like gambling (to pick a random example) that are legal or illegal on a state-by-state basis.

Indeed, Ron Paul, Barney Frank's co-sponsor in the latest legislative effort, said recently he would go so far as to legalize heroin.

That's libertarian ideologues for you. That's also called a red herring, as Rep. Paul's opinion on heroin is irrelevant to this legislation.

It's a bad idea. My friends at National Review begin their case by stating the illegalization of drugs has "curtailed personal freedom, created a violent black market and filled our prisons."

My God, that's the most intelligent thing I've seen in the National Review since I cut a bunch of articles out of The Baffler and pasted them in a dog-eared copy of the National Review.

But the legalization of drugs, including marijuana, would exacerbate each of these problems.

Let's read this literally. I can't wait to learn how legalizing marijuana will create a bigger black market (Guh?) and put even more people in prison (Buh?)

Starting with the basics, keeping drugs illegal is one of the best ways to keep drugs out of the hands — and brains — of children.

Oh good, the Appeal to The Children fallacy.

Obscenity, another vice that has inspired jihads from many deeply closeted moral guardians, used to be judged by the legal standard of its potential to "deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences and into whose hands a publication of this sort may fall" i.e., children. This derives from Regina v. Hicklin (1868) in British common law and was adapted by the US Supreme Court, until that body rejected it as an unreasonable standard in Roth v. US (1957). That was 54 years ago, Bill. The Supreme Court said, 54 years ago, that "It might hurt children" is a stupid and overly broad argument.

We know three things here: First, children who don't use drugs continually tell us one of the reasons they don't is precisely because they are illegal. For example, since at least 1975, report after report has found that "perceptions of the risk and social disapproval of drug use correlate very closely with drug taking behavior." When those in the drug prevention community ask teens who don't use drugs why they don't, time and again, the answer comes back "because it's illegal."

In what world does "Kids don't use it because it's illegal" a supporting argument for keeping it illegal? Lots of people would stop using anything if it was criminalized. If there is a good argument to be made here, this ain't it.

This, of course, explains why a greater percentage of teens abuse legal substances like tobacco and alcohol over illegal drugs such as marijuana — even when they say marijuana is easily accessible.

Bill, it's a phenomenally bad idea for anyone spouting Nancy Reagan Just Say No arguments about weed to mention alcohol in the same article…especially to point out that while the War on Drugs continues apace, kids are getting shitcanned on Four Loko and smoking themselves to a lung cancer death at 51. Do I need to explain why you don't want to bring this up when preaching the evils of Reefer Madness?

Second, keeping drugs out of the hands of children is the best way to prevent drug addiction generally, as study after study has confirmed that if we keep a child drug free until age 21, the chances of use in adulthood are next to zero.

McGruff the Crime Dog is apparently under the impression that – ignoring self-selection and selection bias – if we could prevent everyone from using drugs before 21 then no one would ever use drugs. Bill, sit down for a moment: the evidence you cite does not mean that. It does not mean that at all.

Third, we don't need to guess at hypothetical legalization schemes. Our experience with legally prescribed narcotics has already proven it, and we now have an epidemic. This, despite doing everything the theorists have asked, from oversight to regulation to prescription requirements.

Wow, who would have thought that opiates would be addictive, especially if doctors prescribe them like lollipops.

Normalizing, de-stigmatizing, and legalizing illegal drugs lowers their price and increases their use. As a recent RAND study on California found, legalization of marijuana there would cut the price by as much as 80% and increase use from as little as 50% to as much as 100%. Just what California, just what our society, needs.

The RAND study in question states that, "researchers cannot rule out consumption increases of 50 percent to 100 percent." I question Bill's interpretation of that, especially given that the study also states that, "there is considerable uncertainty about the impact of legalizing marijuana in California on public budgets and consumption, with even minor changes in assumptions leading to major differences in outcomes." In other words, you can essentially produce whatever estimates you want by playing the Assumptions Game.

As for the current drug policies curtailing personal freedom, the question is: "Whose freedom?" The drug dealers', sure — the drug consumers, no.

It's going to be cool to see how he makes legalization a negative influence on individual freedom…

As any parent with a child addicted to drugs will explain, as any visit to a drug rehab center will convey, those caught in the web of addiction are anything but free.

Oh for fuck's sake.

I'm not going to deal with the substance of this Appeal to Emotion. Instead I want to talk about one of the most wonderful, happiest places on Earth: the alcohol rehab center! Everyone there is truly free. They are happy as pigs in slop. There are ponies. The ponies fart glitter.

And it is not because of their incarceration or rehabilitation, it is because of the vicious cycle of dependency, waste and brain damage addiction and abuse cause.

Still waiting to hear why this is different than alcohol. Come to think of it, how is it different to ANYTHING addictive? Bill, I'm huffing Scotchgard as we speak and let me tell you, I am in a vicious cycle of dependency and brain damage. The cause of said damage, be it the Scotchgard or your column, is unclear.

Let us make no mistake about this, either: Marijuana is much more potent and causes much more damage than we used to know. Today's marijuana tests on average at more than 10% THC (the psychoactive ingredient). We are even seeing samples of more than 30% THC. This is compared to the relatively lower levels of THC most legalizing proponents were more familiar with in generations past (under 4% in the early 1980s, even lower in the 1960s).

OK. I don't even smoke weed and I know that this is beyond wrong. It makes no sense whatsoever. The argument is that marijuana is like alcohol and THC is like "proof", i.e., 80 proof is twice as strong as 40 proof. But 10% THC is not "twice as strong" as 5%. It might get you high faster (as stronger alcohol in equal amounts would) but it can't get you higher. Past a certain level of THC in the body, additional THC will have no effect. Besides, if people knew what they were smoking (Say, because it has a label on it measuring potency) they might adjust their behavior accordingly.

As for the high incarceration rates for simple marijuana use and possession, it is a myth. As government documentation actually shows, over 97% of sentencing on federal marijuana-related charges is for trafficking, less than 2% is for simple possession. Indeed, the only National Review authority with federal prosecutorial experience that I know of backs this point up: "Actual enforcement is targeted at big distributors. People who merely possess drugs for personal use well know they are substantially safe no matter what the statutes say."

Oh good. As long as the people we're stuffing prisons with are dealers rather than users, then it's all good. If only there was some way to eliminate black market dealers of marijuana other than incarcerating them at ass-breaking expense.

We have had a fair amount of experience with legalization and decriminalization schemes.

Don't forget prohibition schemes! We tried the hell out of that. It worked, right?

Oh.

Citizens are trying to put the genie back in the bottle, from Northern California (where residents have complained that medical marijuana has "spawned crime, drug cartels and teenage pot use")

This is a quote from a single individual with no data provided to support it. Most of the linked article is devoted to people speaking in favor of continued legalization.

to the Netherlands (where drug tourism, use by minors, and border trafficking has increased)

Oh no, not tourism! By the way, which country has a higher rate of recreational drug use and drug-related crimes, Bill?

to England (where apologies have been made for endorsing decriminalization in light of the subsequent growth of teen drug treatment needs)

That's what a conservative takeover will net you. Why not mention Portugal, Spain, Sweden, or any one of a dozen other countries where partial legalization schemes (especially for weed) have been a rousing success?

to Colorado (where easy access has increased demand, "made a mockery" of the legal system, and is increasingly endangering public safety)

In the linked article, the person who gave the "made a mockery" quote is a physician, and the full story says: "She said she would probably favor true legalization but in the meantime is pushing to oust existing pot shops because they're making a mockery of the legal system." Way to misrepresent, Bill. Here's a good knee-slapper from that article, btdubs: "Local law-enforcement authorities are also pushing for a ban, warning that increased marijuana use endangers public safety. Steamboat Springs police arrested 17 drivers suspected of being high on cannabis last year, up from 9 in 2009." Wow, 17! And how many alcohol DUIs? Those local law-enforcement authorities are definitely to whom we should be turning for objective analysis. I mean, what do they have to lose if the War on Drugs disappears?

We have an illegal drug abuse epidemic in this country and it has not been given enough attention. But the cultural messages, as much as the law, matter. When we unified on this, as we once did, drug use went down. When we let up, as we now have, use increases.

Nothing decreased. Not according to the CDC. This is just stupid.

The libertarian experiment promoted as a novel theory by some will only make things worse. More legalization equals more damage, waste, crime and abuse. Not less. That is why it is no time to surrender.

Bill, everyone else surrendered twenty years ago. Reaganite tossers embedded in positions of influence are the only ones yet to get the message.

Let's mention a few things Bill omits in terms of effects of legalization:

1. The lawless narco-state that is Mexico would immediately become 80% less of a war zone, as the bulk of cartel activity centers around that most popular of drugs in the U.S. But, you know, think of the children, man!

2. Legalization would make drug use safer in the U.S. through regulation of its contents, the elimination of violence during the purchase, and the absence of the threat of arrest.

3. Biggest cash crop on the planet short of heroin or the elusive Moon Rock Tree of Mongolia.

4. Apply the Bill Hicks test to the horrors of marijuana usage: if you're at a (concert, ballgame, bar, club, festival) and some bozo is loud, violent, aggressive, and an irritant or even a threat to the people around him, is he A) drunk or B) high on marijuana?

Thanks for playing, Bill. Looks like you're having a great time there in 1986.

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JOHN RANSOM IS TELE-FAXED AN FJM TREATMENT

Posted in Rants on June 2nd, 2011 by Ed

Before being inducted into the sacred order of syndicated right wing columnists, aspirants must endure a grueling 12-week course during which he or she must prove to a panel of elders that they do not know any cultural references beyond 1990. Successful applicants will punctuate their logically fallacious, cliched work with phrases like "Where's the beef?" and "dy-no-MITE!" The general rule of thumb is, "If the crowd at a Yakov Smirnoff show won't get it, don't use it." John Ransom, heavyweight public intellectual and Finance Editor of TownHall Finance, finished the course in a mere 9 weeks. They quickly realized that this guy swings the goddamn Wonderbat of dated pop culture references and there was nothing more that the seasoned veterans of TownHall World Headquarters (pictured here) could teach him. That is how he is so seamlessly able to churn out masterwerks like "Obama Goes D'oh!-for-97, 98, 99, 100!" Pro Writer tip: if it's worth saying, you'd best believe it's worth following with an exclamation point. Let's go! (See?)

Mr. Irrelevant, the man formerly known as president,

The reigning Mr. Irrelevant is Rice University's Cheta Ozougwu. TownHall.com regrets the error. It is a lone mark on Mr. Ransom's otherwise ironclad reputation for journalistic excellence.

was in France when news came that the Senate unanimously rejected the Jerry Lewis gag budget that the administration submitted to Congress in February.

Jerry Lewis last had a leading role in a U.S. theatrical release in 1970.

The vote was 0-97 against, with three Senators voting “not present.” Can you blame them? If John Kerry’s misshapen theme was “Reporting for Duty,” Obama’s is: “I’m AWOL: Ha. Ha. Ha. You can’t catch me.”

Yes, "AWOL" on an official state visit to France. Can you believe that? A president. Visiting a foreign country. Get your ass back here, Johnny SkyMiles.

Wait, why does it matter if he's irrelevant? I'm confused, John.

If Kerry’s presidency was still-born, Obama’s died of crib-death.

First of all, nothin' like a good baby death analogy to get the ball rolling. But are you sure it was "crib-death", John? Maybe the vapors? The fan-tods? Bilious colic? Catarrh? Consumption?

Hey, wait. Didn't he accomplish some stuff in the two years before this budget vote? Eh, why let the facts get in the way of a good SIDS joke. The funny part was when the baby died!

Can you imagine any other president in history being satisfied with sending up a budget that couldn’t muster even one vote from his own party?

Jackson. Jackson wouldn't have given two flinty, cashew-laden shits.

It’s fitting that Obama got the news of the vote while in France, a country also well known for giving up without a fight.

Boy, nothing screams "I am a hack right-wing columnist" like immediate recourse to France Surrender Joke. But it's funny, right, because they always surrender without a fight!

Except in WWI, when four percent of France's entire fucking population died fending off a German invasion. That's 1,700,000 people. Maybe crack a history book sometime or google a thing called "Verdun". Or plan a nice family vacation to Douaumont, where they had to shovel 300,000 bodies worth of bones into a giant pit because the corpses were in too many pieces to allow identification. Yes, yes, I know, WWII was not France's finest hour. They took a mere 560,000 deaths in that conflict. You know, about 30% more than the U.S.

Incidentally, John, your biography doesn't list your dates of military service. Please update it. We're curious.

On the budget, the administration was hors de combat, to borrow the French term for being irrelevant, after being outflanked on the budget by the GOP and the mood of the people.

Where to begin. First of all, hors de combat means "out of the fight", like a wounded person or a downed pilot would be. So no, you nitwit, it doesn't mean "irrelevant". Second, you're not too up to date on the "mood of the people" if you think Paul Ryan's "Hey America, Fuck You!" budget constitutes a successful flanking maneuver. Gee, quite a bit of military jargon in here. I can only imagine the amount of Military Channel programming your pasty, chickenhawk ass has watched.

On the Right, the budget was panned for adding over a trillion-and-a-half to the deficit just next year; on the Left, the budget was ripped for reducing spending on community organizing.

Yeah, we're up in arms about Community Organizing. And ACORN, and the New Black Panthers, and Card Check, and every other right wing buzzword of the day for red-faced ranting idiots to post repeatedly in internet forums because they heard it on Glenn Beck.

"Less than two months after signing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans into law," reported the Huffington Post in February, "President Barack Obama proposed a spending plan to Congress that cuts funding to programs that assist the working poor, help the needy heat their homes, and expand access to graduate-level education, undermining the kind of community-based organizations that helped Obama launch his political career in Chicago."

One can almost feel filmmaker, author and all-around socialist, Michael Moo- re, adding exclamation points to the HuffPost’s story!!!

Michael Moo-re? Get it? HE'S FAT!!!!!111!!!on!e

God, it was already funny, but the exclamation points sold it. Hey, if you have a minute, can anyone tell me what in the name of christ this column is about? I think John Ransom's weekly feature should be entitled "Whiskey Screams from a Guy With No Short-Term Memory" because this reads like little more than random, free-associative bitching without the stabilizing benefit of being able to remember what he said twenty words ago.

During Mr. Irrelevant’s European tour,

With Odd Future opening! That tour is gonna be cray-cray.

three others added their vote of no confidence to Obama’s absentee, slum-lord presidency.

I'm baffled by these allusions to him being an "absentee" president…because he went on a foreign visit. I mean, he hasn't gone on half as many "vacations" as W, George I, or Reagan. Aim higher, BO! (see? That really sells it.)

The Queen, who knows something about dealing with celebrity, finally got some payback on Obama after a series of very public snubs of the UK- our mightiest, best ally- during Mr. Irrelevant’s term of office.

The Queen voted “not present” by having her band play God Save the Queen over Obama’s toast to her, which the Washington Post reported under the headline Burnt Toast. No one knows how to do an understated snub as well as the Royal Family.

Wingnuts have been banging this "OMG he hates Britain!" thing since quite literally the first week of his presidency. First of all, yeah, they clearly hate him. Second, only a person who stopped time in 1980 thinks the UK is our mightiest, best ally. Seriously, in what Anglo-centric fantasy universe is that close to true? If we had to choose one and only one country to be allied with in Europe, which would it be? Germany. Without a second though every single person in the Pentagon, State Dept., and Treasury would say Germany. Worldwide? Japan. Maybe Korea. Maybe Saudi Arabia. Maybe Israel. Maybe India. Maybe Mexico. I think the UK's only real strength as an ally at this point is its blind willingness to play "Blow Up the Brown People" whenever a Republican president gets bored.

Jesus. How much longer is this piece of…oh, come on.

Even ABC News called the moment "awkward."

It took a little gloss off another sequel to National Lampoon’s Obama Vacation, just like that "awkward" Japanese tsunami did when he traveled to Brazil.

National Lampoon's Vacation was released in 1983. And can you believe this guy doesn't even control the weather? Amirite people?

Out-going defense secretary Robert Gates then took his turn, warning that Obama’s budget would cut the military to levels that could encourage more violence against the US.

Yes, let's hear what Bush appointee Robert Gates has to say about defense spending. The Defense Department is a good, objective analyst of defense spending needs, today and in the future. Right? In other news, I've empaneled a team of meth addicts to recommend a safe level of meth consumption and to give Americans advice on what we should do with our old car batteries and half-empty cans of paint thinner.

"But make no mistake,” Gates said at Notre Dame, according to the Wall Street Journal, “the ultimate guarantee against the success of aggressors, dictators and terrorists in the 21st century, as in the 20th, is hard power—the size, strength and global reach of the United States military."

"If you cut the defense budget by 10%, which would be catastrophic in terms of force structure, that's $55 billion out of a $1.4 trillion deficit," Gates told the Journal last year. "We are not the problem," he concluded about America’s budget problems, in direct contradiction to the commander-in-chief.

No, the problem is that the Pentagon budget, with constant supplementals for George and Dick's Middle East Adventures (see? I found a movie from, like, 1990!), is over three quarters of a trillion dollars. Or, you know, half of the goddamn deficit. Plus $250,000,000,000 annually for defense-related interest on the debt. Plus nuclear, which is booked under the Department of Energy. Plus Veterans Affairs. Plus Homeland Security. Plus defense-related NASA projects. When we add it up, the 2012 budget includes more than a trillion dollars for defense, the majority of all global defense spending.

Gates, who has presided over defense reductions already, is speaking out about further budget cuts while engaged in his farewell tour as secretary of defense.

How can we ask them to cut anything when the budget has grown by a mere 150% since 2001?

Then the guy who is still the de facto Democrat President of the United States, Bill Clinton, did the job Obama is supposed to be doing. Obama thus far has outsourced budget negotiations to his rent collector and vice president, Joe Biden.

Yes, Bill Clinton is still secretly behind everything. Whitewater! Vince Foster! Travelgate! Filegate! Gennifer Flowers! It's 1995, right guys? Whoomp, there it is!

Also, can you believe Obama delegated to Joe Biden? Let me check if Bush ever delegated to Dick Chene…oh. Oh I see. Oh dear. Well.

So Clinton spoke up forcefully last week for a compromise on Social Security and Medicare reform, warning that Democrats should resist the urge to gain short term points with seniors by using scare tactics. Instead, Clinton took a novel approach, suggesting that Democrats stop playing politics and get those two entitlements under control.

Yes, how I miss the "novel" Bill Clinton approach, suggesting that the Democrats do exactly what the Republicans want and spend time "working the message" to make it sound like they didn't turn around in front of Eric Cantor, grab their ankles, and yell "Just leave us enough blood to get home!" Ah, where's that New Democrat magic when we need it?

At a forum on the national debt, Clinton even told House GOP Budget Chair Paul Ryan to give him a call if he wanted talk about fixing Medicare. Mr. Irrelevant has become so irrelevant that he doesn’t even seem to know that he’s being disrespected.

Does John realize that this is not pro wrestling? That Obama doesn't particularly care if the Queen or Bill Clinton or the Pope or Big John Studd and Hacksaw Jim Duggan have "dissed" him? That his response is not to film a promo next to Mr. Fuji and Miss Elizabeth wherein he wildly gestures at the camera and promises to get revenge this year at SummerSlam? Other than the Democratic donor pool, who really cares what Bill Clinton says or does at some piss-ant academic cluster wank conference on "bipartisan deficit reduction"? He collects his speaking fee and goes home. Big deal.

While Obama toured Europe, stumping for the electoral votes of Irish counties Cork and Offaly, along with the all-important endorsement from the head of the IMF, there’s been a quiet bipartisan effort to make the presidency relevant again.

Shush, though.

Let’s no one tell him until after Hillary’s in the race.

I still can't believe a U.S. President went to Europe. None of the Founding Fatherstm ever went to fruity Europe!

Also, John Ransom is a genius. Clearly Hillary Clinton is going to quit her job, throw together a campaign in a month (I hope it's as well-organized and effective as her 2008 team!!!!exclama!!!tion!) and challenge the sitting president in a primary. Is this the depth of implausibility to which conservatives are sinking to create a positive scenario for whatever stiff they nominate in 2012?

Counting the headline ("d'oh!" being a vintage Simpsons reference originally dating back to 1989) I'd say John did a solid job of limiting his cultural references – and his understanding of history, politics, and world affairs for that matter – to those that would be meaningful and relevant to the average long-term nursing home resident. You do your Order proud, Lion Hearted one.

!

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TERRY PAULSON GETS A FAIR AND EQUITABLE FJM TREATMENT

Posted in Rants on March 1st, 2011 by Ed

Hey everyone, grab your flannels and Doc Martens because it's (apparently) 1994 again! Perhaps you should rock the hell out to "Mr. Wendal" or some Candlebox in order to fully appreciate the time-altering experience that is Terry Paulson's masterpiece, "Time for CA Flat Tax." The flat tax? Hey Terry, Steve Forbes called and wants his dad's collection of antique gay porn stale-ass idea back. Anyone want to come over later to watch Melrose Place? OK, I've had my fun with the early 90s jokes. But seriously, the party that hasn't had a new idea since the Taft years has no use for concepts like time. Conservatism is the Rock of Gibraltar of ideologies, changing at a glacial pace, one grain of sand at a time, over centuries. Its ideas are simultaneously old and new, outdated and cutting edge. So why not drag the flat tax out of its stable for one last romp around the track before it takes its final trot down to the glue factory.

Ready? Let's do this.

CA Governor Jerry Brown is pushing for serious budget cuts and a tax extension plan, but Republicans are blocking his efforts to bring his tax plan to a June vote.

Well since they did only get half of what they wanted as the minority party – substantial budget cuts – I can see why they would push back.

They’ve seen what happens to Republican politicians who vote to raise taxes!

Ha ha! Isn't it funny how the party now consists entirely of rabid, teabagging idiots unwilling to listen to anything resembling a reasonable argument and bloated plutocrats playing them like the morons they are? It's like watching Andrew Carnegie and a couple of hobos in a Rolls-Royce on the way to a fried mayonnaise eating contest featuring the works of Vivaldi performed by Insane Clown Posse.

Without such a vote, more cuts will be needed. Instead of trying to get Californians to vote for another "temporary" tax extension, why not try an innovative proposal he once believed in. To be specific, if Gov. Brown wants to get Republicans to sign on to giving Californians a choice that will help balance the budget, let him propose a flat-tax like he did in his 1992 Democratic presidential campaign.

"Innovative" does not mean what you think it means, Terry. But as a shipping magnate and oil baron, I'm intrigued by the idea that a 50% tax cut for high earners could be the answer. Tell me more.

Steve Forbes, author of "How Capitalism Will Save Us: Why Free People and Free Markets are the Best Answer in Today's Economy," was a Republican presidential hopeful in the same year.

Boy was he. How did that work out?

Since then, both men have discussed the flat-tax concept and how it could work in the country and in California. Forbes said, "If done right, it would profoundly and positively change the economy in California. A low single-digit rate would unleash creativity," and boost the beleaguered state economy.

And now we're apparently taking advice from Steve Forbes. What, was Bob Dornan busy? Pete Wilson got deleted from your speed dial? Grover Norquist's mouth was too full?

But why should all Californians vote for such a plan?

This is an infomercial quality setup. Only worse. Terry Paulson is the guy who asks the host "But how can the Magic Knife cut paper-thin slices of this soft tomato right after bisecting a human femur lengthwise?" and looking on in mock amazement as the host explains the revolutionary engineering technology that makes Magic Knife so amazingly sharp, cut after cut.

1. As FDR said, “Taxes…are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.” It’s time for a truly “fair tax” that lets all pay the same “dues” rate!

He was actually paraphrasing Oliver Wendell Holmes, but more to the point what in the hell does that quote have to do with the subsequent statement? And do Real Professional Columnists use exclamation points? Here, let me take a crack at my own Terry Paulson column:

1. As the Marquis de Condorcet said, 'Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.' It's about time we coated our naked bodies in creamy alfredo sauce and played jai alai!

I'm a natural.

With a uniform sales tax, when you buy more, you pay more. With a flat tax, the more you make, the more you pay, but all pay the same percentage!

"Two Magic Knives PLUS the genuine mahogany storage case for just $19.95? Who authorized this???"

Seriously, I'm warning you about the "!" usage. Serious writers do not use those embarrassing Fail Marks to convey enthusiasm. If you need to end it with "!" to get the point across, re-write it.

2. A flat tax replaces itemized deductions with one standard deduction (based on dependents) that is large enough to allow the poorest to pay no taxes and the rest to pay the same percentage on all earned income above that deduction. Although the popular deductions for mortgages or contributions would end, the lower tax rate would leave more for taxpayers to spend and donate.

A plan that allows "the poorest" to pay no taxes…sort of like our current tax scheme? Ah, but the Flat Tax alone has the added bonus of giving everyone in the top brackets a massive tax cut an opportunity to "spend and donate" so much more. Now I see the benefits.

3. Max Baucus said, "Tax complexity itself is a kind of tax." With the hours and dollars invested in figuring out taxes and finding tax-evasive strategies, imagine the joy of filling out your state taxes on a postcard. Simplicity is in! Let’s make taxes simple and lead the way for a national flat-tax.

This argument baffles me. Utter and complete bafflement results.

First, I am a reasonably intelligent non-expert in tax related matters. I fill out a full 1040. It takes me an hour, tops. My wife, prior to marriage, was filling out a 1040EZ. It took five minutes. Unless you are A) functionally illiterate or B) an American partner in a limited liability corporation based in Botswana, this just isn't that hard. FREE computer programs do it for you. If you get anything wrong, the IRS corrects it for you. We are not asked to split the atom here.

Second, how does flat tax = simplicity? We will need the exact same bureaucracy to administer it, unless of course we're going to go on the Honor System for people to report all of their income and assets.

4. Tired of watching special interest lobbyists vying for exceptions and special breaks? Taking away tax complexity makes their involvement unnecessary. Former press secretary and columnist Tony Snow said in a USA Today column, "A 'pure' flat tax–no deduction beyond the standard exemption–would…turn the Washington establishment on its ear. It would guarantee fairness and neutrality by demanding that everybody above a certain income level pay the same tax rate on each new dollar earned. Economists call this the marginal tax rate. It would starve the lobbying community by eliminating its reason for being." This would turn Sacramento on its ear!

I swear to god, one more exclamation point…even the warming presence of former Bush Press Secretary Tony Snow won't be enough to save you, TP.

The goal of taxation is not "fairness" or "neutrality." The goal of taxation is to fund the activities of government. And "fairness", when applied to the idea of treating the poor, working, middle, and upper classes the same, is called SOCIALISM, isn't it?

5. With everyone paying the same flat-tax rate, more voters would be cautious about electing politicians who waste taxpayer money on inessentials. When it’s your money they’re playing with, you pay attention.

I promised my dad I would stop swearing so much on here, but this makes absofuckinglutely no sense whatsoever. None. Are tax dollars currently collected from…someone else?

When it’s your neighbor’s money, why not elect big-spenders!

Again, no sense. Not one lick. Even by Townhall standards this is nonsensical. The logic at work here is the kind I would expect to find upon emerging from the other side of a wormhole, or the kind that would make sense to me if I cleaned my ears with a power drill.

6. If you want private sector growth, vote for a flat tax!

GODDAMN YOU TERRY PAULSON, IF YOU TOUCH "SHIFT" AND THE "1" KEY ONE MORE TIME I AM GOING TO KICK YOU IN THE ASS SO HARD THAT TWENTY YEARS FROM NOW THE GUY WHO DOES YOUR AUTOPSY IS GOING TO BE FINDING REMNANTS OF A SIZE 11.5 MERRELL HIKING BOOT IN YOUR COLON. DO YOU HEAR ME? BEFORE YOU TOUCH THOSE KEYS AGAIN ASK YOURSELF THIS QUESTION: "DO I WANT TO SHIT SHOE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE?" CHOOSE YOUR ANSWER CAREFULLY.

Currently, the more productive people are, the more they’re taxed.

Yep, nothing says "productive" quite like being Sam Walton's kid. Nothing contributes to society quite like trading mortgage-backed derivatives. Wealth and productivity: they go together like peanut butter and Robitussin.

A flat tax removes the penalties for success and encourages everyone to be as productive as they can be. That means new small business growth and more jobs!

I appear to have underestimated Terry Paulson's zeal for using exclamation points.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: if the prospect of the marginal tax on your next dollar of income rising from 30% to 35% "discourages" you from "being as productive as you can be", maybe it's time to stop re-reading Atlas Shrugged and, I don't know, go camping or get laid or something.

Now that getting federal legislators from 49 other cash-strapped states to provide a Washington bailout for California’s fiscal mess is becoming less and less likely, it’s time for bold leadership!

Wow. I guess you still aren't deterred. I'll go home and put on a wing tip. We'll see how exclamatory you feel after that. Also, it's nice to see someone like T-Paul admit that "Washington bailout" is clearly the preferred option.

Proposing a CA flat tax just might unleash bipartisan support in a state known for a never-ending partisan budget impasse. It’s time to let the California Dream soar again on the wings of a flat-tax plan!

Oh yeah. I can just feel the wave of bipartisan support for this thing. It is massive and powerful, like an enraged shark.

This is one of the strangest things I have ever read. It starts from the flawed premise that this is a novel idea and then proceeds to make innumerable ridiculous, unsupported claims using the writing style that seems like a hybrid of the erotic writings of Ludwig von Mises and a Cathy comic strip. I can only compare this experience to the first time I saw Waking Life or listened to hippie jam band music: I have no idea what this was supposed to be, but irrespective of intent it's pretty clear that I am looking at a steaming pile of crap.

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DOUG GILES HITS THE FJM TRIFECTA

Posted in Rants on December 20th, 2010 by Ed

No cute intro. Doug Giles responds to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell as only Doug Giles can. Doug, for the record, joins David Brooks in the thrice-FJMed club. Congratulations, Doug. You are not only a very stupid person but also one who thinks he is much funnier than he is. Which is to say, Doug thinks he is funny. You can be the judge of whether he is correct. So get ready…you have all won free first class accommodations on the HMS Retard of the Seas, and your Captain is Doug Giles. If you think the title is nonsensical ("Why Gays Should Dial Down with 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'") wait'll you get a load of the words that follow it.

I can understand why homosexual men would want to join the military.

This is like Choose Your Own Adventure. Turn to page 32 if DG is about to make a joke about "shower time." Turn to the next page if you want to see something about "guns going off." Turn to page 69 if you just want to hear some uninspired crap about the parade of hard, hetero male bodies that is the United States Military.

Number one: It’s Dude Central.

Formerly Dudelandtm, a subsidiary of Dude Solutions, Inc., now a part of Worldwide Dude Holdings, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Advanced Telemetry and Hot Cock division.

Number two: The military lends itself to the gays’ fastidiousness over everything being orderly

Yep, they're pretty much all the same. Every one of them. And conveniently enough, they are exactly like TV sitcom stereotypes about Teh Gays, so DG can write with authority about What Homos Are Like without ever having met one. Oh, who am I kidding. He meets tons of them at TownHall World Headquarters. He just doesn't realize it.

because everyone, from top to bottom,

HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!1!!!! DO YOU SEE WHAT HE DID THERE?? Thank god this sofa is covered in a fabric that resists staining and odor absorption, because I just blasted an involuntary deuce from all of this convulsive laughter.

is required to keep their clothes, boots, room and gear nice, neat and shiny.

And don't forget their Streisand albums! And their pink tutus! And their antique collections! And everything else an imaginary Doug Giles TV Gay has.

But, the third—and probably most important reason why I’m guessing that homosexuals would want to join our armed forces—is that they get to kill al-Qaeda and their murderous Muslim ilk.

Well, this took a sharp left turn on What the Fuck Boulevard.

I get that. And I appreciate it because if Muslims had it their way you cats would be extinct. As in the first to go. As in Sharia don’t like you.

While this is an accurate statement, I can't help but notice the implication that there is a serious threat – or even a remotely plausible scenario – of al-Qaeda somehow "winning" and subjecting the U.S. to Sharia law. And for the record, Doug, the Army does a pretty good job of weeding out the psychopaths who join explicitly to get to kill people. Really.

Geez Louise, you think Christians are a problem? Heck, we’re plain peachy compared to Achmed and his mob.

Achmed the TV Muslim Terrorist, meet Phineas J. Minceypants, the TV Gay Guy. I'll give you two some time to get acquainted here in Doug Giles' imagination.

If you think I’m wrong, please note that Adam Lambert’s GlamNation Tour didn’t have any stops in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia or Yemen. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

This is what happens when Doug Giles tries to be funny. I mean, just look at this trainwreck. Doug, the fact that those countries are Muslim is like 15th on the list of reasons this makes no sense. Lack of functioning electricity and concert venues seems like a more realistic problem. This is just so stupid. Think about this, Doug. In what world would anyone schedule any kind of international tour that would include a stop in the Sudan? Jokes need to be remotely plausible, or at least invoke the willing suspension of disbelief. This merely invokes the urge to kick you in the nads.

In regard to why lesbians join the military, this is also an easy one: no heels, no makeup, no chatty chicks on cell phones, you can cart a few extra pounds without being shamed into looking like Lindsay Lohan by Michelle Obama, and … you get to blow crap up and wear camo. I can empathize.

Yeah, Army women are usually pretty chubby! Lots of extra pounds on active-duty military people, what with all the sitting around eating fuckin' Funyuns that they do over in Afghanistan. OMG I almost forgot to notice how funny this is though! Hahaha! Lesbians all look like auto mechanics and they hate makeup and they pee standing up.

No doubt patriotism is a major reason why some homosexuals would want to serve because they’re shrewd and they get that America, with all its foibles, is still the place to be.

None of the explanations for why Teh Gays would join the military is the slightest bit different than why Teh Heteros would: patriotism, poverty, mild sociopathy, idealism, or the judge told them to sign up or go to prison. The idea that there is some kind of secret Gay Covenant to join the Army and protect Gayness from Islam is one of the many bizarre figments of Doug's imagination. I'd wager they're a lot more worried about A) being outed and either dishonorably discharged or shunned, and B) the Christian right in the good ol' U.S. of A.

Yes, you don’t hear much about the Mexican Dream, or the French Dream, or the Slovakian Dream, but we still hear the American Dream touted,

Yes, we still hear about the American Dream…because every day more people are talking about how it no longer exists. We hear about it in the same way that we hear about the Titanic or the Dodo.

and I’m sure that protecting this status is the reason why most gays want to .50cal the idiots who hate us all to an early hell.

"I'm sure of it, based on my fertile imagination, this 1947 psychology book entitled Healing Homosexuality, and the zero gay people I have spoken to in my life."

But here’s my beef with homosexuals

Oh, good.

Do you really have to be flamboyant about your gayness every place you go? Can’t there be one sector of our society where you dial down with your sexual bent, say, for the greater good?

Oh, I agree, I agree. I mean, with DADT repealed the military is going to explode into one giant, messy gay sex riot. You'll hardly be able to walk around the barracks with all the empty poppers and tubes of AstroGlide. Teh Gays will be walking around in Speedos, fornicating like bunnies while bombs are going off all around them. The Straights will hardly be able to aim a weapon without their vision being blocked by a bunch of gay dudes 69ing each other and doing Village People dance routines.

Also, dialing down one's sex drive is a key prerequisite to being in the military, where 97% of the conversations among straight male enlisted men are certainly not about pussy and the acquisition thereof.

FYI to the G-A-Ys, the vast majority of men and women in our sacred military, however, are not gay, and they’ve got a deadly serious mission to carry out that doesn’t need the added distraction of your desire to strut that you’re gay.

If you need any additional evidence that Doug formed these ideas based on a late night viewing of The Birdcage (or perhaps Boat Trip) and some faded memories of early 1990s news footage of gay pride parades, here it is.

Isn't it possible that this repeal is more about gays not having to, you know, live in fear that their "secret" will be found out? Anyone who can rub two functioning neurons together can see that this is less about "strutting" and more about being left the hell alone. Which seems more plausible: that newly-protected (in the legal sense) gay servicemen are going to run around like coked-up Project Runway contestants painting rainbows on everything and organizing Judy Tenuta nights, or that they're going to breathe a little sigh of relief and carry on as usual?

Matter of fact, I’m a guessin’ that if you don’t chill out on this issue there will be a mass exodus of straight troops from our armed forces.

Regardless of what exactly he means by "chill out on this issue", I am confident that this is the dumbest prediction in the history of the internet. And that's saying something, DG.

Yep, if I were gay and in the service, I wouldn’t be distracting the multitudinous heterosexual troops who are kicking ass abroad or at home because, as stated, with this perennial enemy named Islam, you guys will be the first to be purged from the earth if they ever have it Mohamed’s way.

And that's exactly what they're doing, Doug – thinking of ways to distract The Heteros. Gays are uncontrollable sex fiends whose sole joy in life is to join the Army and whip their cocks out for straight guys. When the Taliban is attacking, 9 guys out of 10 will fight back while the last one dons assless chaps and tries to distract his comrades by offering them reacharounds.

You know what's going to happen now that DADT is repealed, Doug? Nothing. Nothing is going to happen. Nothing is going to change. That is why despite the best efforts "social conservatives" to stem the tide, the gay rights movement is making such rapid progress. For all the stories of child molestation and orgies and homosexual recruitment drives and all of the other Boogeyman stories that Jerry Falwell's kind have been telling for decades, every time gay people are formally "allowed" in some new arena of society nothing happens. Everything goes on exactly as it did before. And eventually sane people realize, "Hey wait a second…nothing happened. Gay teachers are not raping our kids. Gay NFL players are not trying to sodomize their teammates in the showers. Gay cops are not 'distracting' straight cops from doing their jobs. Gay politicians have voting records indistinguishable from their non-gay colleagues."

The world will go on exactly as it did before and some day we will look back with a mixture of bemusement and shame that anyone ever believed all of the shit the Moral Majority claimed that the Homosexual Agenda would do to our country. We will wonder how anyone considered such ridiculous predictions to be plausible, and those of us who lived through it will be at a loss for words.

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BACK TO THE ROOTS OF FJM

Posted in No Politics Friday, Skip this if you hate sports on November 19th, 2010 by Ed

FJM is derived from the now-dormant website FireJoeMorgan.com, the focus of which was baseball, not politics. If you think regular journalism is bad, you ought to see the cabbages that make a living writing about sports. Since the original authors of Fire Joe Morgan covered baseball so thoroughly, I borrowed their concept and applied it to opinion writing outside of the world of sports. I've never actually applied the technique to baseball as the original website did so well. Today that changes. It changes because I have seen something so stupid that I can't help myself. It changes because someone gave this asshead a column in which to regularly share the fruits of his intellect with the world:

His name is Tom Jones. I will strain mightily to avoid making any "What's New, Pussycat?" type jokes, but no promises. Folks, what you are about to see Mr. Jones drool onto his keyboard is so stupid that you will not even need a passing interest in baseball to appreciate it. In short, he is incredulous that Felix Hernandez of the Mariners was awarded the Cy Young Award on Thursday, the award given annually to the league's best pitcher as voted by sportswriters. Real ones, not Tom. Don't get me wrong, most of them are morons too. But after you read the following, Woody Paige will seem like Wordsworth in comparison. Are you read to learn why "Cy Young voters got it wrong"? Let me put it this way: if this guy is qualified to write about baseball, there's a rugby commentator job out there waiting for me.

FJM, this is for you.

Sorry, but I don't see how a pitcher who goes 13-12 can win the Cy Young Award as Seattle's Felix Hernandez did Thursday.

Here is a quick primer on how to tell if someone's opinions about baseball (and presumably anything else they'd want to talk about) are worth listening to: if they think Wins and Losses are the way to identify good pitchers, they are operating on about a 3rd grade level. If you show them two cars, they will insist that whichever one is larger or shinier is better.

Wins, to be blunt, are for stupids. To be credited with a win, a pitcher must throw at least five innings and leave the game with a lead. Great pitchers on horrible teams don't win many games. Bad pitchers on great teams often win a lot. Rick Fucking Helling won 20 games. So did Matt Morris. And Russ Ortiz. And Esteban Loaiza. Jose Lima. Bill Gullickson. Jamie Moyer (twice!). Winning 20 games means a guy can stay healthy enough to make every start, pitch league-average, and play on a team that scores a lot of runs. Some pitchers who win 20 are great, but they are not great because they win 20.

Tom Jones, you are a stupid person.

It means, essentially, that win-loss record is no factor.

That is exactly what it means, because Wins are for stupid people who don't understand how baseball works.

A 13-12 record is so mediocre that it could not have been considered at all by those who chose Fernandez. So does that mean he still would have won the award if his record was 12-13 and all of his other numbers were the same? The answer would have to be yes. What if he went 9-15?

Well the 13-12 record clearly wasn't "considered" by the voters, at least not in any manner that Tom Jones would like, but if King Felix managed to go 9-15 with the kind of stats he put up this year…yes, he'd probably get the award anyway.

Again, it would have to be yes because 13-12 was apparently eliminated from consideration.

What?

It's true that Hernanez is a heck of a pitcher. It's also true he pitched on a lousy team that lost 101 games. He shouldn't be penalized for that.

Well, it's "Hernandez". And that's mighty big of you to point out that this guy's team went 61-101. And Hernandez won 13 of those 61 games, which someone who thinks Wins matter should probably note.

But he can't be rewarded for it either.

It's not a "reward" to note that FIVE of his 12 losses were in starts in which he gave up two or fewer earned runs. Like when he pitched 8 innings on Sept. 23, surrendered one run, and lost 1-0 because Seattle couldn't score one goddamn run on Toronto.

No one can think or assume he would have posted a better record on a good team. You can't speculate or estimate that he would have gone, say, 20-10 if he had played for the Yankees or Rays or Rangers.

Can we assume that he might have gone 20-10 if he played on any team other than the one that scored ONE HUNDRED FEWER GODDAMN RUNS THAN ANY OTHER TEAM IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE. 513 runs in 162 games, and the next worst offense scored 613. The Yankees (more on them in a minute) scored 859. The Mariners were dead last in the AL in hits, runs, home runs, on-base, and every other statistic you could possibly use to prove offensive ineptitude.

And I still contend that it's much easier to pitch when your team is 25 games out first place in September with no hope of a playoff spot than it is when you're pitching must-win games in the heat of the pennant race. You could argue that after the first few weeks of the season, Hernandez didn't pitch in a game that truly meant anything. Meantime, Tampa Bay's David Price and the Yankees' CC Sabathia pitched in critically meaningful games all season long.

Ah, yes, King Felix wasn't Gritty and Grindy and Clutchy enough because his team sucked. He must have been too busy trying to scratch out a few wins with THE WORST RUN SUPPORT OF ANY PITCHER IN BASEBALL. In Felix's 34 starts, the Mariners deigned to score a mighty 3.75 runs per game, absolute dead last in all of the majors. That he managed to win 13 is like the miracle of loaves and fishes.

It's one thing if there were no viable candidates besides Hernandez (13-12, 2.27 ERA), but certainly Price (19-6, 2.72) and Sabathia (21-7, 3.18) had worthy Cy Young numbers.

Ah, yes. Sabathia (Look at his magical 20+ wins), for whom the Yankees scored a ridiculous 7.31 runs per start. Almost exactly TWICE Hernandez's run support. Boy, I bet it's easier to win games when your teammates are swinging Wonderbat to the tune of almost 7.5 runs every time you take the mound. Price: 7.03 runs per start. Both pitchers run support was in the top 20 of all starters in baseball. Which is considerably higher than Hernandez, who was DEAD LAST.

What this proves is that the stat geeks — those who consider Moneyball to be the bible of baseball and sabermetics to be their gospel — have taken over the baseball world.

No, this proves that Tom Jones is a mouthbreathing jackass who has absolutely no concept of how dumb Wins are as a measure of a pitcher's ability. It proves that some sportswriters, neanderthals as they are, are slowly starting to realize that Wins are a measure of how many runs one's team scores.

It's all about WHIP and OPS and a bunch of other abbreviations that no one knows how to figure out.

If you can't "figure those out", you probably need help dressing yourself. Anyone beyond the most casual fan can explain basic statistics like this. WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched) is a measure of baserunners allowed. OPS is On-Base plus Slugging. It means you add the two fucking numbers together. Tom, did you not feel somewhat like an asshole typing out this sentence? "Guhhhh. Snort. What the hell does "RBI" stand for? You eggheads and your statistical mumbo-jumbo."

It's not about baseball, where games and awards are won on the field with bats and gloves. It's about fantasy baseball, where games and awards are won on paper with a calculator and slide rule.

No, it's about the fact that Hernandez was a better pitcher and the games are won on the field with bats and gloves, and it is not Felix Hernandez's fault that the Mariners can't field or score any goddamn runs. Is it Hernandez's fault that Chone Figgins toed the Mendoza Line for 4 months? That Russell Branyan couldn't hit an off-speed pitch if he was given 15 strikes to work with per at-bat? That the Mariners routinely started lineups in which 7 of 9 players hit below .240? That Jose Lopez last took a walk in 1962?

Sabathia and Price, on the other hand, had to shield their eyes from the horror of their teammates beating the hell out of the opposing pitcher to the tune of SEVEN RUNS per start.

Things such as ERA and opponent's batting average and strikeouts and walks per nine innings, of course, should be considered when picking a Cy Young, but shouldn't a pitcher’s record count, too?

Yes, it should count. So let's total up the stats in which each pitcher prevailed:

Hernandez: strikeouts, walks, WHIP, innings pitched, opponent batting average, opponent OBP, opponent slugging pct., K/9 IP, BB/9 IP, K/BB, hits/9 IP, ERA, IP per start, average Game Score, P/PA, P/IP, Tough Losses (8), Cheap Wins (0), Quality Starts, Complete Games, Shutouts

Sabathia: Wins, body fat

Well, I'm sold.

In fact, shouldn't victories count as much or more than most numbers?

Sure, let's count it equally. To any of the 20 other stats in which Hernandez was far and away the better pitcher.

The issue I have is victories apparently were not counted at all.

No, you blathering jackass. The issue you have is a lack of basic reading comprehension skills and knowledge of baseball. Are wins supposed to be more important than every other stat, all of which prove that Felix was by far the best pitcher in the AL this year?

How else can you explain a starting pitcher with the fewest victories in a full season and a pitcher who was one game over .500 winning the Cy Young Award?

JESUS TAP-DANCING CHRIST, TOM. HOW SONOFABITCHING HARD IS THIS TO UNDERSTAND? IT IS EXPLAINED BY THE FACT THAT WINS ARE ONE STAT – AND A CRAPPY STAT, BUT WE'LL IGNORE THAT FOR A SECOND – COMPARED TO THE MOUNTAIN OF STATISTICAL EVIDENCE SHOWING HERNANDEZ TO BE THE SUPERIOR PITCHER. I FEEL LIKE I AM HAVING THIS CONVERSATION WITH A GARAGE DOOR.

It's a new day in baseball. A sad day.

I am sad about how stupid you are, and I can see why the original FJM guys got sick of dealing with this nonsense after three years.

Tom, please, I mean this sincerely: you need to find a new line of work. This is the dumbest argument I have ever seen, and I grade the work of 18 year old Georgia public high school graduates for a living.

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BARRY RUBIN GETS THE FJM TREATMENT

Posted in Rants on November 12th, 2010 by Ed

Barry Rubin – who very, very clearly wrote his own Wikipedia page – decided it would be a good idea to use the journalistic stage to play one of modern society's most sympathetic characters: the loud-mouthed, egotistical suburbanite pissing and moaning about his kid's soccer coach. Then he ups the ante by turning the whole thing into a lesson about how liberals made his kid a pussy. Since his intended audience is the regular readers, if any, of Pajamas Media, there's a good chance that he expected his rant to draw plenty of nodding heads and comments of sympathetic agreement. Outside of that bubble of sadness and Joe the Plumber fans, however, "It’s How You Play the Game: The Fate of Western Civilization and Grade-School Soccer" does not fare quite as well.

Or does it?

No, I was right the first time. It doesn't.

It‘s something of a stretch to compare a soccer game among eleven-year-old boys with the fate of the democratic world, but I’ve always managed to see big issues in small things.

i.e., "This is retarded, but I am going to do it anyway. Inexplicably I will soon ask you to take me seriously."

Really, Barry? This is "something of a stretch" like Mitch McConnell is something of a sour, hatchet-faced prick. Like the Hindenburg had something of an accident. Like Pajamas Media is something of a joke, even by internet standards.

My son is playing on a local soccer team which has lost every one of its games, often by humiliating scores. The coach is a nice guy, but seems an archetype of contemporary thinking: he tells the kids not to care about whether they win, puts players at any positions they want, and doesn’t listen to their suggestions.

This could not start out more poorly, BR. You do realize that this is how every rant from a loudmouthed parent about his kid's soccer coach (a topic, incidentally, about which no one on the face of the Earth cares) begins, right?

"Man, this coach is such an asshole. Tyler only played like 20 minutes today, and he only got the ball twice. I screamed at this guy for like an hour and he just ignored me. Then I show up at his house after a couple of beers and you know what that asshole did? He called the cops. He called the goddamn cops."

He never criticizes a player or suggests how a player could do better. My son, bless him, once remarked to me: “How are you going to play better if nobody tells you what you’re doing wrong?” The coach just tells them how well they are playing. Even after an 8-0 defeat, he told them they’d played a great game. And of course, the league gives trophies to everyone, whether their team finishes in first or last place.

I'm going to ruin some of the suspense and point out that these kids are 10 and 11.

I’d even seen an American television documentary about boys and sports which justified this approach, explaining that coaches were doing something terrible by deriding failure, urging competitiveness, and demanding victory. So were the kids really happier to be “relieved” of the strain of trying to win, “liberated” from feeling bad at the inequality of athletic talent?

Barry would cite the name of this "television documentary" but he could not find a link given that it aired only on the Barry Rubin's Imagination network. Thank god he was able to remember all of its key points so he could construct his straw man.

Or am I right in thinking that sports should prepare children for life, competition, the desire to win, and an understanding that not every individual has the same level of skills?

No, you are not even remotely right about that. Sports are not to teach kids how life works. Sports are for kids to get exercise, and they are more likely to do it if it's fun. It's only thanks to emotionally unstable Jock-Dads and the worst fratboy aspects of our culture that anyone would imagine people learning life lessons from a contact sport.

A central element in that world is rewarding those who do better, which also offers an incentive for them and others to strive,

Sometimes doing better is its own reward, like when doing something inconsequential like playing soccer when you're 10.

rather than thinking they merely need choose between becoming a government bureaucrat or dependent.

OK.

See, we were traveling down Loud, Boring Blowhard Avenue and we took a very sudden left onto What The Fuck Are You Talking About Street.

Read that again. That's how fast it happens. That is how fast these people turn normal things that happen to normal people (like seeing a lemonade stand) into Parables of Conservatism.

The playing field was perfectly even, but the boys were clearly miserable. They felt like losers, their behavior rejecting the claim that everything was just great, or that mediocrity was satisfactory as long as everyone was treated identically. They knew better than to think outcomes don’t matter. In a truly sad gesture, one boy had suggested before still another losing game that they form a circle, put their hands in, and cheer themselves: “Like the good teams do.” Halfway into the season, the kids had even chosen a nickname for the team that expressed their sense of being weak losers.

None of this happened. If you have ever been within 1000 yards of 10 year olds playing soccer, you are well aware of the fact that no one gives a shit about the whole enterprise except for the parents. Those kids would rather be at home playing Wii. They would rather be playing something without adult supervision. They would rather be doing anything except playing soccer while their parents yell at them. The idea that these kids sunk into a deep depression because their coach on Team Trotsky was preventing them from winning makes it clear that this entire story took place in Barry Rubin's head.

When the opportunity came to step in as coach for one game, I jumped at the chance to try an experiment. I’ve never coached a sport before, and am certainly no expert at soccer despite my son’s efforts. Still, I thought the next game could be won by simply placing players in the positions they merited, and motivating them to triumph.

"Unlike their coach, I knew which positions they merited because like every suburban dad on the planet, I think I know everything. I know better than every coach, teacher, and fancy-pants expert you can throw at me. I am God. I am a flabby-assed God with a wife who hates me and two annoying bastard children on Paxil. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair."

I didn’t put terrible players in at forward or in the goal. It didn’t take any genius to do so, just basic sports common sense. You don’t need Ayn Rand to tell you which way the wind blows.

Ah, "common sense"…the last refuge of the person who thinks he knows something but can produce no evidence in support of it.

I wonder if Barry Jr. was one of the kids he arbitrarily deemed "terrible" or, by some magical coincidence, Little Rubin is the bestest, specialest, most talented little Pele on the team.

Before the game, I gave them a pep talk, with the key theme as follows:

I bet that helped. 10 year olds really pay attention to Asshole Dad doing his Win One For the Gipper impression.

Every week you’ve been told that the important thing is just to have a good time. Well, this week it’s going to be different. The number one goal is to win; the number two goal is to have a good time. But I assure you: if you win, you will have a much better time!

"Because…umm…you can use the victory to convince yourself that you're better than those losers on the other team! If I do this just right, you'll soon learn to derive all of your self-worth from convincing yourself that you are, by some arbitrary criteria, better than other people. That's why I drive this 2007 BMW 335xi. It's so you can tell that I'm better than Bob Johnson and his lame-ass Honda Accord. Look at Owens in his little Prius. What a fag. Are you kids getting the message yet?"

And that’s just what happened. They took a 1-0 lead and held it, in contrast to the previous week when it was scoreless at the half but turned into a 3-0 humiliation when someone ill-suited was made goalkeeper just because he wanted that job.

What a magnificent coincidence. Of course, none of those 10 year olds remembered the outcome (and certainly not the details) of the previous week's game, but rest assured that the neurotic Little League dads did.

When kids with fewer skills didn’t want to play defense, I pointed out that these were critical positions, since winning required preventing the other team from scoring. At the end, they performed heroically, holding off repeated attacks on their goal.

What, all of the sudden this is the French Army at Verdun? It's a kids' soccer game. By definition, nothing that happens in a little league soccer game can be heroic. I don't care if Timmy Anderson scores four fucking goals on a broken leg while adopting an abused dog and teaching two underprivileged kids to read. It's not heroic.

I worried that the boys who played less of the game and were given seemingly less significant positions would be resentful. But quite the opposite proved true. With the team ahead, they were thrilled. One shouted from the sidelines something I thought showed real character: “Don’t let the good players do all the work!” Instinctively, he recognized that some players are better, but he wanted to bring everyone’s level up rather than down.

Odds that this actually happened: zero. The odds are zero. Pretty convenient that the 10 year olds would start yelling things that sound like slogans from The Fountainhead just as Coach Galt takes over and realizes he could use a few zingers in his column.

I’m tempted to say he was going against what he was being taught in school.

You're not tempted to do it if you just did it. Also, what?!?????!? Where do you send your kids to school, Barry? Is it some special charter school that uses a patented combination of math, science, and belittling comments to put the kids in their place nice and early?

They played harder, with a bit more pressure and a less equal share of personal glory than they’d ever done before. But after the victory, they were glowing and appreciative, amazed that they had actually won a game.

I want to point out that Barry Rubin just described the children as "glowing and appreciative" of him. I am getting a kick out of picturing a group of uninterested 10 year-olds waiting to be rewarded with a trip to Pizza Hut as Barry looks on and says to absolutely no one in particular, as people take great pains to avoid him, "Look at how much they appreciate what I did for them!"

Suddenly, I noticed that one boy’s mother was really angry at him, claiming he hadn’t showed good sportsmanship because he was too happy over the victory. Not seeing anything that might have provoked her outrage, I wondered whether this was a suggestion that one should apologize for winning.

So, to be clear: Having absolutely no fucking idea whatsoever what this supposed scolding was about, if indeed it actually happened, you just went ahead and assumed that it was a demented liberal (woman, of course) acting out your straw man argument and punishing her child for winning.

Makes sense to me.

Still, the bawling out didn’t put a damper on his big smile.

"In one short hour, I became more important to him than his mother. Everything he had ever been taught was rinsed away by my powerful lessons."

Next week, of course, they will be back to losing.

Without you, Barry, how could they win????

But I think that perhaps they learned something useful to counter the indoctrination they are getting in school.

Barry, whatever school you are sending your kids to, be sure to let me know so the rest of us can avoid it.

If you don’t care about winning, you’re merely handing triumph to the other side.

Which you wouldn't care about.

In a soccer league that might not matter, yet in personal life, your level of achievement and satisfaction is going to depend on giving your best effort. If a country is indifferent to succeeding, the opposing team’s success might be very costly indeed.

Bingo, Barry. You've nailed it. America is in trouble because we all want to lose. We don't care if we're unemployed and the country falls apart. Totally indifferent. How did you know?

As I said at the start, perhaps not too much should be read into this little parable.

"Perhaps" you could have pondered this point more seriously 1100 idiotic words ago.

Yet the broader question may be the most significant issue of our time: why should Western democratic societies abandon the techniques and thinking that have led to such great success, in order to embrace failure as glorious or victory as shameful?

I am tempted to say "Presented without comment" and let you ponder this sentence by your lonesome, but I just need to point out that he describes his attitude as something that has "led to such great success."

It would be facile to point out that Barry Rubin is a dickhead, so please focus on the fact that he is the worst possible kind of dickhead. The kind that thinks that what the whole world really needs is to listen to him and all of its problems will be solved. In reality, of course, this IS the problem. Our problem is the millions upon millions of self-centered assholes, each one a god in his or her own mind despite having accomplished nothing and not maturing emotionally beyond grade school, walking around thinking that the problem with America is that everyone refuses to listen to ME. Next time Barry Rubin really feels like making a difference, I suggest taking a look in the mirror and shutting the hell up for once in his life rather than pedantically lecturing people based on their choices as he imagines them.

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

Posted in Rants on October 20th, 2010 by Ed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That proved to be a harder question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*spit take*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meaning…what?

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

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

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

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

*slowly lures Roberts toward a waiting van*

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

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

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

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A VERY SPECIAL TIME WARP FJM

Posted in Rants on August 16th, 2010 by Ed

(New to FJM? It's defined here.)

I am about to do something mean.

Atlantic Monthly comedienne Megan McArdle labors mightily, and almost always unsuccessfully, to write columns that do not immediately collapse under the weight of mild scrutiny. It counts as a victory when she writes something that seems logically consistent for the length of time required to read it, even if for no longer. In short, at her top-dollar best she attains contemporaneous plausibility. Readers of her work might, provided they are not well versed in economics and tend to believe everything they read in Serious Media Outlets, think "Hey, this makes some sense!" in real time. That what they just read is stupid beyond comprehension hits them like a thunderbolt only in hindsight when she is on her game.

That's McArdle at her best. When everything goes right. It's McArdle as Michael Jordan scoring 63 over Larry Bird in Boston Garden in '86. Given that, it's almost cruel to subject her writing to the withering glare of hindsight. Something that seems ridiculous a day after it is written is not going to look much better a few years down the road.

Or will it?

No. No it won't. And I'll prove it. Because I am a dick, I present you Megan McArdle (back in the pseudonymous "Jane Galt" days) on March 26, 2003 musing on the cost of Dick & George's Iraqi Adventure in "How much is the war going to cost?" Ho ho ho. Hoo boy. Heh. Ho. Hah. Oh man. Let's do this.

I've seen a number of claims like this one from Eric Alterman:

The first $75 billion is just a downpayment. Expect to pay hundreds of billions in the short-term, trillions in the long run. Expect it to come out of your schools, your police forces, your highways, your future and your children's future

Megan introduces her piece with some wild, hysterical predictions from a Liberal Blogger about the cost of the impending Iraq War.

Anyone who's sat through a budget meeting

Which excludes Megan, of course, although she had yet to reveal her identity when this was written. It sure helped make her seem like a person who had sat through a "budget meeting" (technical term) rather than someone who has never had a real job, save a few months at the firm of one of her dad's pals. And this sweet-ass columnist gig.

knows that almost everyone overestimates their successess (sic), underestimates their costs; it's easier to go back for money later, when you can wave a nice hunk of sunk costs around, than say up front that you think whatever it is you're proposing will be expensive as hell.

Wait a second, I think she WAS sitting in on White House budget meetings! That was Dick Perle's argument. Almost verbatim. Wolfowitz chimed in with "Yeah, fuck 'em!" while Robert Kagan tore apart a Muslim doll with his teeth.

But trillions? US GDP is roughly $10 trillion.

"Roughly. Because I have never figured out how to look up a number." I bet no one knows what the GDP really is. It and the fate of Judge Crater are the only real mysteries left in this world. I asked Google "What was the GDP in 2002?" and all I got was lines of code like the Matrix and a horrible, piercing klaxon.

Alterman is saying that over the long run, this war is going to cost us at least 20% of GDP. That's nuts, and it's not the first time I've seen those sorts of numbers around.

Hee hee. Ho ho ho. Hoo boy. Oh.

Reality check: the entire US military budget is in the range of $350b.

Therefore, by definition this sandy misadventure could not cost more. Unless…the administration repeatedly went back to Congress for "emergency" supplemental funding requests? Nah. No one would fall for that.

Saying that this war will cost trillions in any term short enough for us to care about (I mean, he's probably right, if we use a timescale of several hundred years, but that's not very useful)

McEstimate: it will take several hundred years for the war to cost "trillions." Kids, this is why you shouldn't make a lot of predictions in a medium that archives everything.

is saying that this war is going to cost nearly as much as the entire military budget, year in and year out, for decades. For reference, the next six months are estimated to cost $60b on military spending. (I'm excluding the humanitarian and domestic segment of the budget submitted by the President.) Even with a fudge factor of 50%, that's $90b over the next six months, $180b a year. At that rate, assuming you do absolutely no discounting at all, it would take us over 10 years to get to $2t, thus meeting the "trillions" criteria.

UNLESS…nah. We already went over that. But here we see McTardle Tactic #1A: including lots of numbers parsed with high school algebra skills to create the appearance of precision and the reassuring veneer of facts. Everyone knows that half of $180b is $90b, and half of a year is 6 months. This is the kind of thing you learn at University of Chicago's MBA program.

Which is madness.

It sure is, cubby!

By that logic, we were spending as much on WWII in 1953 as we were in 1943.

WWII was over in 1953. But I see the point because the Iraq War will be over in, like, 6 weeks! And with no casualties. In fact, I think the pre-Iraq War plan was to send over one Marine to wipe out the Hussein regime by himself. It was totally plausible because it's a really big Marine and he's armed with Mjolnir. And once the Iraqi Army is defeated, the war is over, DUMBASS. What don't liberals get about that?

If you don't know, military spending during WWII was over 50% of GDP

Ixnay on the condescension, Chet.

it was in the 10% range during Korea, and dropped sharply thereafter. This while we were still occupying Japan, still garrisoning Germany, had a mandatory draft, and were building up for the Cold War. Even if you attribute the entire cost of the Cold War to WWII, and none of it to Stalinist imperialism, you still don't get the kind of numbers required to make the occupation cost as much as the battle. The difference is even more stark now, for you must remember that we have an all-volunteer army, which gets paid whether or not they're in Iraq.

OK, just to review, apparently her argument is that since our military is all-volunteer and we are paying their salaries anyway, the Iraq War really isn't going to cost much of anything at all. Everyone get that? Good. "For you must remember" it.

The extra, non-labor cost of the war is heavy on things like ordnance

Well I guess she's allowing that it will cost a few bucks. But remember: 6 weeks!

which we won't be expending once we control the country.

(requires sound)

"Which we won't be expending once we control the country." I could not make this shit up if I tried, people. And I have. Lord how I've tried to make up something as funny as McTardle. I subjected a number of baboons to severe head injuries in an effort to replicate her style. It didn't work, and the Animal Liberation Front has burned down my house three times.

Where do they get these numbers?

Certainly not from the ironclad reserves of logic and basic math that lustily fornicate to produce McTardle's numbers!!!!111!!!!one!

With gems like this from James Galbraith, son of the amiably paranoiac pop-economist John Kenneth Galbraith.

That's not a sentence, but OK. Here I have redacted a lengthy quote from Mr. Galbraith, which you can read here and in which he makes some outlandish predictions like that the war might take 5 years or 200,000 troops. Put down the crack pipe, dude!

He offers vague possibilities, making no attempt to quantify them, much less calculate their probability

Yeah, Megan's a real stickler for sources, attribution, and precision.

He conflates all sorts of costs into one big amorphous bundle. He only looks at costs on one side; for example, discussing the cost in lives of the war, without discussing the cost in lives of Saddaam's regime and the sanctions that are the likely alternative to the war.

What we need is a close look at the specifics, not just a bunch of hypothetical bullshit.

If we kill 300 Iraqi civilians and 300 American troops ousting Saddaam (sic), and Saddaam's (sic) secret police are murdering 1,000 people a year, and 5,000 people a year are dying from the humanitarian crisis brought on by sanctions, it is not a net "cost" in human lives.

There is nothing I could write that would be funnier or sadder than this. 4,000 U.S. dead later…but how about those 300 civilian deaths!


Oh.

Likewise, he examines only the negative consequences the current uncertainty might have on the economy, without mentioning that, for example, a successful war might boost the consumer confidence dampened by fears of terrorism,

Yeah, it boosted the shit out of the economy. Especially because…

or that lowered security risk in the Middle East might result in both lower oil prices, and higher investment in highly oil-dependent industries.

…post-2003 oil prices fell like a stone. God, it's like she was staring into a crystal ball.

He offers unsourced references for large numbers — "One estimate for the cost of rebuilding Iraq runs to $2 trillion" — in order to give his claims a false patina of precision.

If anyone can find an example of a Megan McArdle piece in which A) numbers are sourced or B) the sourced numbers outnumber the hypothetical made up numbers, you will win Megan McArdle's home address, a one-way bus ticket to said address, and a flaming suitcase full of dog shit. Do with those what you please.

He cites any number of highly speculative, unquantitative "costs" in terms of US prestige and other such intangibles that have nothing to do with economic costs. He posits "opportunity costs" of not doing things that many of us don't want to spend federal money on in the first place. An opportunity cost is a precise economic term: it means the next-best alternative use for your money.

Thanks for the econ lesson, professor! Boy, anonymity was McTardle's friend, wasn't it? She sounded more authoritative before she revealed that she has no economic training or experience of any kind, and in fact is just a talentless rich kid with an absurdly high opinion of herself and the good fortune that twentysomething glibertarian tools find her attractive.

You can't claim that our failure to institute national health care is an opportunity cost of the war when such a thing would cost far more than the money being spent on the war

Well, it cost way more than the One Marine Swinging Mjolnir version of the War, but not so much the Reality Based one.

Thus, Eric Alterman is enabled to claim that the cost to the US taxpayer will be over $2t, even though most of the larger costs cited by Galbraith aren't going to be borne by Americans either directly or indirectly, but by Iraqi oil.6

Ah, yes. Remember, the war that really isn't going to cost anything to begin with (because we're already paying the Army, stupid) was going to be self-financed by Iraqi oil. Note that this sentence is followed by a footnote, which reads in its comedic entirety: "Am I suggesting that the Iraqis should pay for occupation expenses? Nope. We can afford it, and there's something repellent about making impoverished Iraqis pay for a war foisted on them by an evil dictator. But most of that $2t, if it is any sort of a real number, will be stuff for Iraqis: roads, schools, hospitals, government buildings, power plants and sewers and all the good stuff that lets us live like citizens of the 21st century. That stuff should come out of Iraqi oil revenues."

Again, there isn't much I can add to this. I tried. I got nothin'.

The war will certainly cost more than the $60b and change that the President is asking for. But it is not going to run us several trillion dollars (though even if it did, that would work out to less than 0.1% of GDP over the next 20 years.)

To recap: "The war isn't going to cost us anything much of anything, although it will surely cost more than the amount Bush requested, and even if it does cost a lot it's not so bad so long as we look at the GDP over this arbitrary 20 year timeframe I just pulled clean out of my puckered butthole."

I don't know how much more, and neither does anyone else, although I'm sure the military has better guesses than I could make.

"This is unknowable. The military knows."

Megan, they can tell us with some precision what various scenarios will cost. The fundamental problem here was that the scenario posed to them – a six week war costing only a few grand for Private Smith's salary and a couple of weeks of Mjolnir rental at standard rates – was retarded.

It's important to think about the economic cost of the war — the pro-war side has mostly dropped the ball on this, and it's an important calculation when we consider whether or not to go. But making up ridiculous numbers in order to support your predisposition isn't helpful — and when the war doesn't cost us $2t, people are going to remember that the next time you talk about the costs of a program you don't like.

The first draft had a footnote here: "And when it does, I will look like the biggest (idiot/tool/brain-dead sycophant) this side of an audience at a county fair tractor pull."

This…this article almost FJMed itself. I think the best way to enjoy this is simply to click through and read her original post. Read it again and again. Marvel at it. It's like a time warp back to 2003. Remember 2003? Remember how awful it was? How 70% of the country thought this was a good argument? Six week war! Oil riches to pay the tab! 100 casualties, max! Well, I want you all to do something for me. Think of one person who you really, really wanted to punch in 2003 because this torrent of shit spewed so readily from their mouths. Send them this column. Fire off a quick email and let them know that no matter how hard the McArdles of the world pray that we will forget, we remember.

Ideally this would make him or her feel embarrassed – Megan, if you ever read this (and I sure hope you do!) I have no idea how you can look back at what you've written and do anything other than either die of shame on the spot (something roughly akin to Obi-Wan becoming a Force Ghost on the Death Star) or come to grips with the fact that maybe writing isn't for you – but we know we are dealing with a kind of person so intellectually languid that he or she is incapable of feeling shame. Shame requires being intelligent enough to realize that you were wrong and, more importantly, that it matters that you were so incredibly wrong.

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