Cutting Through The Crap

Thursday, October 23, 2014

And His Words Echoed In An Empty Room

Wow. I came across this piece, written after the reelection of George W. Bush. It's titled "Screw You, America," and it says, immeasurably better than anything I've written, by a factor of immeasurable, everything I think about our current state. It begins...

America speaks with one voice. Unfortunately, it emanates from its ass.— Barry Crimmins 
DON’T FORGIVE my anger. All this needs to be said. And I know that as soon as that stiff-faced to-the-manure-born right-wing lackey in the White House tries to appoint a 21st-century counterpart to Roy Bean to the Supreme Court in a few weeks, more people are going to wish they’d said it sooner. John Kerry fucked up. More important, America fucked up. And the people who fucked up the most — you infamous red-staters — are going to suffer along with the rest of us. To put it in lingo a NASCAR devotee would understand, "Y’all deserve a good talkin’-to." 
John F. Kerry, you’re first...
He continues...
Now, the rest of you ... 
A lot of us effete Easterners want to know: what the fuck is wrong with you?! You voted against your self-interest at every turn (you dumb-asses in South Dakota deserve special credit for voting out one of the most powerful Democrats in the Senate) and re-elected an ignorant cowboy who can’t be trusted to remember a lunch order, never mind run a country. What in the name of God ...?! Wait, it was in the name of God, wasn’t it? Rendered weak and ignorant by a spoon-fed climate of fear, you slack-jawed inbred flatlanders have sought refuge in the traditional twin towers of mindlessness — jingoistic patriotism and fundamentalist religion. God’s on your side. Like hell. Jesus loves us, dammit...
Oh, there's lots more. Both entertaining enough to produce an ironic chuckle and depressing enough to make you want to jump off a bridge, assuming there are any in good enough condition to support your walking out there.

Oh well. Not like any of it is important. Or true. Or that we're about to compound the crazy in less than two weeks, according to polls.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

The Fly In The Ointment

It's coming together like a hurricane and high tide, as obvious as a flood if only teabaggers and the people they love to elect could see it:
... NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It's not like we suddenly woke up and thought, 'Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'" Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. "Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready." It's not just the production of a vaccine that has been hampered by money shortfalls. Collins also said that some therapeutics to fight Ebola "were on a slower track than would've been ideal, or that would have happened if we had been on a stable research support trajectory." "We would have been a year or two ahead of where we are, which would have made all the difference," he said...
Teabaggerism, as manifested in R budgets, as manifested in the dishonest math of "conservative" icon Paul Ryan, as demonstrated time and again ever since Ronald Reagan first confused a movie script with reality, doesn't work. Can't work. Has never worked.

Oh, in some imaginary world, maybe. A world in which the climate is impervious to our emissions, in which everyone already has a job and no one ever gets sick, and in which roads never get potholes. It works in that world I can almost see from here, the one Sarah Palin can see from her porch and which teabaggers see through their blinders, where all kids are born healthy, well-fed, with money to burn and with internet portals implanted in their brains, giving them ready access to all knowledge.

Over here, though, where our particularly benevolent god, the one who oversaw the writing of our constitution and who speaks only to Republicans and who has a plan for us all, America's god, who knows each of us before we're born, has chosen to put together a few nucleotide pairs, call it ebola and toss it out among us for the grins -- not to mention cancer and Alzheimer's and the occasional mudslide -- and has penciled into his script the tendency of people to maim and mutilate each other, to wage wars and god knows (literally knows, so they say) what else, cutting funds for helping people in order to "pay" (other than the fact that it doesn't) for tax cuts for wealthy people and for more aircraft carriers and tanks we don't need, well, in that world, the real world, there are consequences to such charlatanism.

Over there, beyond the horizon separating fact from fiction, in the place where Fox "news," peddles its propaganda, where they trot out their preferred psychopaths and lunatics daily to tell us how Obama has created Ebola to punish white people for ... Africa or something, where they're mongering fear the way Pike Place Market mongers fish, a sense of irony seems absent entirely. In that parallel universe, and in the minds of their listeners, so carefully cultivated to consume without question, it seems not to have occurred to them that their constant support for those who'd dismantle government and their nonstop efforts to discredit those who'd like to strengthen it might be a factor in the extent to which we are unprepared for such eventualities as god's punishment for gays.

Why, I wonder, does it take the marginal threat of an epidemic here to get people thinking about this stuff, when the ongoing and obvious disaster of climate change has been, and remains, in the "minds" of Fox nation, a myth? Is it because viruses don't care if you're on food stamps?

Or maybe god got tired of teabaggers ignoring his teachings and figured the only way to shake them out of their unchristian selfishness was to tap into their unchristian selfishness.

If you're a teabagger, your guess isn't as good as mine.

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Prayer Works

Just a question of for whom?
A fortune teller faces a December trial after allegedly stealing a combined $16,200 in cash, gold and jewels from two clients.
Delma Aide Pineda-Perez, who works under the name Amalia, allegedly told the clients in August to hand over their valuables so she could pray over the items and make a curse go away, and that she would would return them in a few weeks. The clients told police that Pineda-Perez said they needed to have faith in her. But instead, prosecutors allege, Pineda-Perez moved without leaving a forwarding address.
There's something pretty obvious to point out, here. But I won't.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Brilliant Idea

It's called "Surgeon General," you fking idiot. And your party has blocked him forever, just for the fun of it (and for fear of the NRA, of course). (Oh, and by the way: have you forgotten your own criticism of Obama for appointing "czars," as if it's some sort of evil plot? Of course you have, you trichobezoar, you.)

The only thing more stupid than John McCain nowadays is the fact that "news" shows keep trotting him out every Sunday like donation cards at a megachurch.

[If you need to torture yourself, the video from which I took the above screen shot is here.]

Thursday, October 9, 2014

We Have Met The Enemy

Here's a chilling recitation of how Republicans -- America- and democracy-lovers all -- are going about accomplishing at the red state level what they'd do at the national level if only they could. Nothing really new in the piece; but it brings it all together as a whole, and makes even more clear the importance of voting in the upcoming election. A very partial sampling:
... The most visible effort is the drive to gut public sector unions, a key source of votes and financial support for Democrats. Wisconsin, under Republican Governor Scott Walker, has led the charge on this front. With support from the Koch brothers, the state has severely restricted collective bargaining rights for public employees, ended mandatory union dues and limited wage hikes to the rate of inflation...
... Perhaps the most controversial action taken by Republicans in states where they have power has been the approval of legislation designed to restrict minority and student voting through photo ID laws and limitations on early voting. In 2013, the North Carolina legislature enacted a major revision of state voting laws that Dan T. Carter, a prominent historian of the South, describes as the “nation’s most extensive effort at voter suppression.” Carter writes:
Every change in North Carolina’s new election code was targeted at reducing potential Democratic voters regardless of race, creed, color or national origin. The state’s VIVA/Election Reform law, passed on a straight party line vote, now requires a government-issued photo ID card to vote, but rejects student IDs, public-employee IDs, or photo IDs issued by public assistance agencies. Other provisions end Sunday voting (African Americans have a tradition on voting after church) and straight-party ticket voting (fifty seven percent of straight ticket votes are by Democrats), shorten the early voting calendar, (Democratic voters are thirty percent more likely to vote early than Republicans), ban same-day registration during early voting, (a majority of same day registrants are Democrats)...
... Democrats today convey only minimal awareness of what they are up against: an adversary that views politics as a struggle to the death. The Republican Party has demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice principle, including its historical commitments to civil rights and conservation; to bend campaign finance law to the breaking point; to abandon the interests of workers on the factory floor; and to undermine progressive tax policyin a scorched-earth strategy to postpone the day of demographic reckoning... 
(Emphasis mine. And it oughta be yours, too! Even -- especially! -- if you're what used to be called a conservative.)

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When? And What?

At what point, based on which evidence, will the teabagging consumers of Fox "news" realize, much less -- Hannity forbid! -- admit that they've been lied to, played like a bugle from the Revolutionary War, whose values they claim to love but fail to follow at every turn? How many years of non-confiscatory federal gun laws, for example? How many reminders that the only gun law Obama has signed was the one that allowed them in national parks and on Amtrak?

When might they agree that Michele Bachmann's head is filled with canaries and that there never were and never will be FEMA reeducation camps? Or that Obama didn't arrange for 12 year olds to mass at the southern border after being trained as terrorists? Or produce Ebola as payback for slavery?

How many claims by Lindsey Graham over the Foxified airwaves that we're all about to be killed by ISIS (not just Christians, mind you: all of us!!!) before they start to worry about his ability to survive anywhere but under his bed? How often will they peer at Jeanine Pirro before they see her as an insane fear-mongerer whose wild claims are rooted either in some very peculiar personal demons or a shockingly (but not unusually, for Fox) cynical desire for ratings? Will they cower in fear that Bill Clinton's home state is about to come under attack, or start to wonder if their potential leaders are either nuts or without a semblance of ethics?

Might actual data about the Affordable Care Act convince dry-mouthed Foxolimbeckians that it's lowering the deficit, strengthening Medicare, and helping hospitals reduce unpaid care? I suppose not. I guess they'll look at the data like Rush Limbaugh looks at the latest employment numbers.

Sure, we'll always have insane citizens, paranoid and hateful. But only one network gives voice to them, all day, every day. There are precious few that call them out for their ignorance; besides, of those who need to hear it, who listens?

And there's the problem, and the answer to my opening questions: our right wing has become entirely refractory to factual input. Their party is filled with paranoid, cynical, lying, elected and protected lunatics (Bachmann, Palin, Gohmert, King, Broun, Paul, Perry, Jindal, soon-to-be-federalized Hice; and fueled by dishonest, stupid, and demagogic mouthpieces: Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, the Fox and Friends crew, The Four and a half, O'Reilly, Jones, Savage, Cain... need I go on?) whose wild claims are ingested without chewing by voters too comfortable in and dependent upon their own hatreds and paranoid fantasies, too certain their guns and their religion are about to be swallowed up by Kenyan armies and UN-led Muslim commies, too afraid (and too selfish) to face cataclysmic problems of our own making, to even consider that there might be a more rational way to look at things. That those telling them otherwise haven't the slightest concern for the real interests of any American but the most wealthy. Donors, that is.

Oh, and here's an even bigger question, with the same answer: when will the right wing understand that states don't have the right selectively to deny civil rights to a class of people? And that the very reason their beloved founders established the federal court system is precisely to prevent, among other things, states from doing so. The argument, which we're hearing several times daily, from such leading teabags as Ted Cruz (who, un-ironically, conflates refusal to act with "judicial activism") and others equally confused, that "unelected" courts have ignored the "will of the people" misses the point by 180 degrees.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Teach The Children

I've expressed my opinion a few times that the charter school movement is really a Trojan horse for those who'd turn public school into bible school, and for those cynics who understand the value to today's Republican party of a thoroughly endumbed electorate.

Turns out I might be wrong. Looks like it might be as simple as the usual corporate grift: a way of skimming public funds for personal profit.

This is pretty disgusting, and beyond disheartening:

... So that's what the charter school movement has come to in Philadelphia -- a "flip this school" real-estate scheme. Lovely. And that's not even to get into the scandal around the state's "Cyber Charter," an Internet-based school the founder of which is currently on trial for funneling millions of dollars away from the school and into his pockets,  with which he allegedly bought himself a plane, and condos for his mother and girlfriend... 
According to court documents unsealed Thursday by federal officials, Trombetta told one of his former associates, "I can no longer accept cash in bags in a Pizza Hut parking lot." After that, regular payments from Avanti Management Group were sent to One2One, according to the affidavit. The bags of cash, a private plane bough by Avanti but used mostly by Trombetta, a Florida vacation home and a home in Mingo Junction, Ohio, for Trombetta's former girlfriend all were described as perks enjoyed by Trombetta as part of a scheme to siphon money from taxpayers' funds sent to PA Cyber for more than four years. 
They all have so very much to answer for, the people who have decided to enrich themselves by bashing public school teachers and, in doing so, putting the entire philosophy of public education, one of the lasting contributions to society of the American political commonwealth, at serious risk. No wonder they operate secretly, and in the shadows, and beyond the reach of public accountability. They are burglarizing the future for their own profit.

Pro Choice

Monday, October 6, 2014

Boy, Who Coulda Seen That Coming?

So here's an article about the arms used by ISIS:
... It suggests that ammunition transferred into Syria and Iraq to help stabilize governments has instead passed from the governments to the jihadists, helping to fuel the Islamic State’s rise and persistent combat power. Rifle cartridges from the United States, the sample shows, have played a significant role...
So, what's the answer? How do we deal with such nihilistic and savage groups? Or, for that matter, with any group in the Middle East that seems, for a moment or two, to share certain of our "values?"

On the one hand, it seems pretty clear that to do nothing about ISIS wasn't really a viable option. On the other, it's hard not to believe that any intervention on our part would play right into their hands; was exactly what they were hoping to accomplish by broadcasting their awfulness to the world.

Pants on the ground? Been there, twice, done that, with hundreds of thousands. And now the region is in chaos. Chaos which, by the way, was unleashed by Bush's ill-conceived, unprepared, and untruthful war. To think that leaving a few thousand troops in Iraq would have prevented ISIS, whose roots were formed in the backlash to the invasion and whose horsepower comes, in large measure, from those people John McCain and others saw as the good guys in Syria, is to ignore history as recent as yesterday. And, as was the case with al Queda after our invasion of that land in which they didn't exist, ISIS has seen a recruiting boom since we began our bombing.

Many have pointed out that we left troops in Japan, and Korea, and Germany after WWII. I see no similarities: each is a homogeneous nation with few if any internally fighting factions. There aren't people flooding those nations to help in their fight against the infidel Americans. Each, in contrast to the Middle East, is a closed system. And in the decades since the end of the war, there have been virtually no US troops hurt in combat. It's good duty. The regions are no longer defined as combat zones; GIs there don't even get combat pay. Which says something important about the differences.

Safe to say that not everyone in those countries is happy to see US troops there; but in most ways their presence is a major economic positive. In Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, our troops are considered hated defilers of holy land, and always will be, causing the death of whom is a badge of honor. There's just no comparison.

The politics, if that's the word, of the situation are impossibly complex; Saudi Arabia is playing both sides. Today's "friends" are tomorrow's (and yesterday's) enemies. There seems an infinite pool of people willing to take up arms against us and against each other; and they come there from all over the world, tens for every one we eliminate.

Hard as it is to contemplate, it seems to me the only "solution," if there's ever to be one, is to let history play itself out. The parties in the region have to decide if they want to live in peace or not. "Moderate" Muslims need to decide to act against the radicals. In the long run, the actors can't be us. We've seen how unable we, the US, are to influence matters in "our" direction. Assuming we can identify groups truly committed to democracy, we can offer them logistical aid. More importantly, in order to be seen as something other than desecrators, we could limit our physical interventions to helping improve health care, education (especially of girls and women), agriculture, systems of governance.

Pie in the sky? Probably. Is staying out of the fray the same as ignoring the suffering of innocents? Well, yes and no. I think Bush's war games have been the cause of much more suffering than they, on paper, might have prevented. So what about our military response in Kosovo (and, for that matter, what about our failure to act in Rawanda?) Different. Much different. The former was successful, the latter inexcusable. But, as with the aforementioned post-WWII countries, the targets were specific and identifiable. And limited. The Middle East has no truly good guys; only the sometimes good, the always bad, and the truly horrible. And they're everywhere, borderless.

In my gut, which is more than ample, I believe President Obama understood all this, which explains his hesitancy. But ISIS, evidently understanding the politics of this country more than the average citizen, forced his hand.

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Yea, Us!


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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mystery Solved


Money Is Speech Is Silence

Charles P Pierce has written a thoughtful essay on the effects of money in our political process, and has provided somewhat of a unique take on it, concluding with this:

Citizens United -- and its ungodly spawn, McCutcheon -- have sent our politics into refraction. Nothing is what it appears to be any more. Chozick is right to point out that the result of the decision has been to create candidates drifting ever closer to the ideal ofNashville's Hal Phillip Walker, who campaigns through that film only as a voice from a sound truck. Thanks to John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy, we now have candidates who campaign primarily as characters in television commercials, like Flo from Progressive Insurance, or the two people in the bathtubs for Cialis. Moreover, the flood of money now flows so swiftly and powerfully, and so far underground, that the best you can do is guess what effect it is having on the process. Then, after it's over, ideology gets credit for what money has purchased. The new world of unregulated political money has given an even deeper sense of unreality to the way we govern ourselves. Nothing is as it seems to be. Nothing can be reckoned fully to be genuine. Not the polls. Not the campaigns. Not the candidates. Not even the results, truth be told. Unregulated political money has worked as an accelerant to all the worst aspects of modern political campaigns. More than ever before, our elections have become design contests.
The preceding paragraphs are worth a read, too. As usual he says much better than I ever could something about which I've written and pondered a lot: what explains the obvious fact that the fank and rile of the right wing vote so predictably against their own interests.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Rock, Meet Hard Place

How interesting it will be: Rs hate Eric Holder nearly as much as they hate Barack Obama. They're celebrating his announced retirement like they celebrated the choice of Sarah Palin as veep. And with about the same amount of reality-testing.

So how will they deal with Obama's next choice for AG, knowing that Holder will remain until his successor is in place? They've filibustered pretty much everyone the president has put forward for pretty much every possible position. It's what they love to do. OTOH, the more they block the nominee, the longer the hated Holder holds his home. Ha.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Internet Killed The Internet Star

Check Out Health Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with DrMikeSevilla on BlogTalkRadio

Came across this webcast interview I did a few years back, when Surgeonsblog was in its prime. My part starts at about 12:00, and goes on for a looooong time... (And, oh yeah: the picture is of Mike, the host, not me. I'm not that good-looking.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Is Reason Treason?

When he's on his game, Jon Stewart can out-interview any of our most celebrated "journalists." Again, can't get the embed code, so go to this link to see his interview with General Anthony Zinni. Then consider how unlikely it is that our latest military adventure will be any more successful than any of our several recent ones. Consider how it began with the criminally short-sighted, simplistic, dishonest, ill-prepared invasion of Iraq. Listen for what the general says he heard from people in the region as Dick Cheney's puppet announced our imminent salvation of god-demanded good from the clutches of evil.

More importantly, consider what is said about the limits of, and the areas in which American influence might have a positive role in the world. Then consider the ways in which the right wing in our country are doing everything they can to take us in exactly the wrong direction.

Oh, they'll find the funds to "support" the military, if by support you mean fund battle capabilities including weapons systems the military neither wants nor needs. Not the soldiers themselves, of course; not when they come home. Simultaneously they'll rail against "foreign aid," that paltry part of our budget, block its spending in exactly the areas where we might have a chance of accomplishing something that gains friends, stabilizes the world, instead of creating more enemies and fomenting the chaos that comes from acting only on the sort of fear that flutters poor little Lindsey Graham's tender heart, and on the vote-getting and deceitful pounding of "patriotism," connecting the word to war, and only to war. And the massive profits therefrom.

Not to mention the nearly parenthetical reference by Zinni to the fact that China aims to out-educate us. Consider the implications, and contrast it to the relentless efforts of today's "conservatives" to defund education, to turn it into bible school, to rewrite history, to demonize science and those who promote it.

I'll credit President Obama for seeming, until now, to realize the historical consequences of our recent interventions, the ways in which they have made things worse, the impossibility of solving complex problems with only one tool. For obvious reasons, not all of them good, he couldn't sit by regarding ISIS any longer. But I find his attempts to pretend it's not war, it's somehow different, disappointing. But he's had to reap a whirlwind, an existential storm not of his own making, for which the only solution, if there's time for it, is the passage of time. Centuries, maybe. With death abundant in the meantime. (But, because of the denialsim and obstructionism of America's right wing, I doubt humanity has centuries left on this earth.)

There can be no doubt that Bush's arrogant and simple-minded invasion of Iraq was the worst mistake by any president, and that its ramifications for the world and for our own economy and body politic were and remain disastrous, leaving massive problems with impossible solutions. No matter how Obama had handled it, the multi-layered catastrophe was set, irretrievably, in brimstone. Pulled out sooner, or not at all. Kept ten or a hundred thousand troops in Iraq forever. Occupation was and is destined to fail. American troops cannot affect, in the long run, the tribal and religious and ethnic hatreds in that region.

Clearly, we'll never learn. And if some people do learn, they'll never be able to turn their wisdom into action, because for every Anthony Zinni in this country, there are dozens of John McCains and Lindsey Grahams and John Boehners; and hundreds of mouthpieces on right wing TV and radio to cheer them on, to bamboozle their audiences, convince them that our future depends on god and on war and that to consider anything else, like education and helping those in need here and abroad, is tantamount to treason. Which, in fact, is their favorite word to use to describe everything Obama has done with the tiny bucket for bailing that they've allowed him as we drown in the flood from the dam his predecessor blasted to bits.

(Yes, I go over the top sometimes. Frequently, I suppose. But it's either that or go all Oedipal on my eyes when I see the idiocy that has passed for politics in the world's greatest democracy, ever since, well, you know...)

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Idiots In Charge

Skip to about 3:00 to get to the meat of it. Assuming you can stand a full meal deal of idiocy. If you didn't already know about the stupidity of R members of Congress -- on the Science committee, no less!! -- be prepared. It's taking stupid to transgalactic levels.

I've actually seen the whole damn hearing. The guy who asks about levels of CO2 that are toxic to humans, Steve "I'm the dumbest guy in Congress next to Louis Gohmert" Stockman, never gets it. Never acknowledges that what's happening over the last few decades has nothing to do with a phenomenon that takes a hundred thousand years. Dana "Hey-wait-a-minute-I'M-the-dumbest-guy" Rohrabacher thinks he had a major gotcha. Because he got the science guy to admit that 400 ppm is, in fact, NOT harmful to human health. Per se. Dontcha know.

Note the smug self-satisfaction on the face of the guy who points out that melting ice in a glass doesn't raise the level. And, no, the science guy didn't have time to point out the obvious, the way Jon Stewart did.

This is what we're dealing with. These are the people that represent today's Republican party, the ones happily elected by their teabagging Foxolimbeckifed bought-and-paid-for-by-the-Koch-brothers deliberately-and-willingly-deceived voters. This is why the 400,000 people who marched Sunday were wasting their time. They're agitating for the obvious. Those suckered voters are being kept oblivious. The people in Congress who have the power to block climate change action are the perfect combination of on the take, in the tank, too stupid to understand, and too greedy to give a shit.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Doctors Within Borders

I've forgotten most of what I learned in medical school. What was valuable to me, as a surgeon, I learned during residency. With a gun to my medulla oblongata I couldn't conjugate a Krebs cycle or frabulate a benzene ring. Sure, I still know about the rudiments of certain organs' physiology, something about how a few drugs work. Anatomy? Most of it didn't really sink in until it mattered in the OR. The stuff duly memorized in front of a blank TV and excreted back into a quiz book is mostly gone. And I don't expect I'm entirely exceptional in my forgetting. We retain what's useful.

Yet it's hard to imagine anyone making it through medical school without at least some understanding of the scientific method rubbing off deeply enough to stick. It's, like, the foundation of all modern medical inquiry; and it provides the means, on one's own, to evaluate new concepts, to be able to distinguish good research from bad. Mediocrity, I guess, can be achieved and maintained by rote and uninquisitive learning; and it's certainly true that not everyone who has an M and a D and a couple of dots after his or her name is above the 50th percentile in intelligence. (Look at this guy. Read about him, too.) But it's an enduring mystery to me that so many R physicians elected to public office are lunatics. Pig-headed. Entirely refractory to the lessons of reality. Or, alternatively, conscience-free panderers and prevaricators.

Listen to this guy, and wonder if he's actually stupid enough to believe this shit, or if he's a deliberate liar who assumes his audience is. Congress is full of physician science-deniers, every single one of them a Republican. Here's another, a proud member of the House science committee (who, happily, overstepped his ego and lost a bid to become Georgia's next senator). (The guy set to replace him is even worse, but he's a man of god, not a doc.) Here's yet another. A Georgian, too, wtf.

They're not alone, of course, among their colleagues. But virtually every one of them is on the record denying global climate change, or making ridiculous claims about homosexuality. And Obamacare. A lot of them have flatly rejected the fact of evolution. Nor are there only one or two such split-brain creatures. There are gobs. And more in the pipeline. (What is it with neurosurgeons, anyway?)

On some level, I find it as embarrassing as I do mystifying. I feel a certain kinship with all physicians. When docs are uncovered as fraudsters (a lot of that, too, lately); when incompetence or shameless greed within the profession are revealed, I take it personally. It's degrading to us all. But this peculiar political idiocy is a special category, somehow, and beyond the usual sort of human insufficiencies. I get that many, if not most, docs are "conservatives," and mostly for the expected reason: don't wanna pay taxes. And maybe it's just as simple as the truism that human beings run the gamut from thoughtful progressives to hateful reactionaries, from brilliant to petrified (both senses of the word) and there's no reason to expect doctors to be different.

Now, I have many conservative colleagues with whom I've had enjoyable and reality-based conversations. And I have an extremely former friend of whom that was transiently true, before he mysteriously went off the deep end, claiming that the whole Seal Team 6 killing bin Laden thing was faked, that Obama is a terrorist plant, etc ad teabaggium. I have no idea what happened; perhaps it was just a natural progression. Maybe, within the conservative-medical brain confluence, such devolution is inevitable.

But it's bewildering nonetheless. It's one thing for Michele Bachmann or Sean Hannity or Louis Gohmert to reveal their cranial impenetrability every day, every hour, on national TV. But doctors? Elected to public office? Simply unfathomable. I think I prefer to believe they're just Foxolimbeckian liars and charlatans, on the take, in the tank.

Easier to comprehend.

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