Cutting Through The Crap

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hyperbole


Newt Gingrich -- he of limitless intellectual self-regard -- likes hyperbole the way others like respiration.

To people grounded in reality, it's mostly amusing; but, given the tendency of his listeners to take him seriously (someone recently said Newt Gingrich is a stupid man's idea of a what a smart person sounds like), it's also a little frightening. His is a curious perversion of the Palinesque deliberate anti-intellectualism: she thinks people who know stuff are elitist and unamerican; Newt thinks he's the only person alive who knows stuff. And when facts get in his way, he simply dismisses them. (In that, of course, he's right in the mainstream of twenty-first century Republicanism.) Thus, he recently referred to the CBO as a socialist organization. You know: the budgetary analysts generally regarded as among the most credible and politically neutral agencies in the government.

Says Bruce Bartlett, Republican, once Saint Ronnie's chief economic adviser:

On Nov. 21, Newt Gingrich, who is leading the race for the Republican presidential nomination in some polls, attacked the Congressional Budget Office. In a speech in New Hampshire, Mr. Gingrich said the C.B.O. “is a reactionary socialist institution which does not believe in economic growth, does not believe in innovation and does not believe in data that it has not internally generated.”

Mr. Gingrich’s charge is complete nonsense. The former C.B.O. director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, now a Republican policy adviser, labeled the description “ludicrous.” Most policy analysts from both sides of the aisle would say the C.B.O. is one of the very few analytical institutions left in government that one can trust implicitly.

[...]

...In 2005, he wrote an op-ed article in The Washington Times berating the C.B.O., then under the direction of Mr. Holtz-Eakin, saying it had improperly scored some Gingrich-backed proposals. At a debate on Nov. 5, Mr. Gingrich said, “If you are serious about real health reform, you must abolish the Congressional Budget Office because it lies.”

This is typical of Mr. Gingrich’s modus operandi. He has always considered himself to be the smartest guy in the room and long chaffed at being corrected by experts when he cooked up some new plan, over which he may have expended 30 seconds of thought, to completely upend and remake the health, tax or education systems.


He also likes to speak in threes. And he loves the words "fundamental" and "transformative." And the phrase "single most important..." In his view, any declaration that pops out of his face is, ipso facto, the smartest thing anyone has ever said about whatever the subject might be.

I'll give him this: he's quick on his feet and a good debater, as long as you don't consider truth to be part of the scoring. Given the public's short attention span and lack of interest in facts, and given their evident unconcern for Newt's prior exit from Congress in disgrace, it's gonna be an interesting political season, now that he appears to be the last not-Mitt standing.

[Added -- who'd have guessed -- he just let some Foxotruth slip out:
"One of the real changes that comes when you start running for President -- as opposed to being an analyst on Fox -- is I have to actually know what I'm talking about," he said. The woman let out a startled laugh, and the audience joined in. "It's a severe limitation," Gingrich added.]


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It Doesn't Matter


A friend of mine likes to say that the lottery is the only game in which the odds of winning are the same whether you play or don't.

Similarly, amidst today's news is an item about an impending decision that will have absolutely no effect on the outcome. In other words, it's not news at all. Herman Cain's chances of winning the R nomination are exactly the same whether he stays in the race or drops out. He will, however, try to wring the last nickel out of the self-promotion known as his presidential campaign.


Science And Wonder

Monday, November 28, 2011

Economic Truths

[Click image to enlarge.]

Surely this information will end the Republican false claims about corporate taxes and profits, about Obama's so-called anti-business policies. Surely, now, at last, people of the teabagger ilk will realize their errors, and voters will demand truth from people running for office.

Surely trees will grow down and snakes will fly up.

And as long as we're clinging, desperately, to the realm of reality, here's a good article on what did and did not cause the economic crisis in which we find ourselves. Among the points made is one I've written about before: the CRA was not the cause of loan defaults.

But then we all knew that already. And by "we" I mean those more interested in facts than in political prevarication; a group that, as is evident, doesn't include any of those currently running for the R nomination (Jon Huntsman mostly excepted), any of the RWS™ or R Congressfolk, and, most depressingly, that voting group known as teabaggers and those who align with them. Meaning pretty much the entire current iteration of the Republican party.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Healing Hands


The former (as in, put a fork in him) Herman Cain, on medicine and religion:

He did have a slight worry at one point during the chemotherapy process when he discovered that one of the surgeon's name was "Dr. Abdallah."

"I said to his physician assistant, I said, 'That sounds foreign--not that I had anything against foreign doctors--but it sounded too foreign," Cain tells the audience. "She said, 'He's from Lebanon.' Oh, Lebanon! My mind immediately started thinking, wait a minute, maybe his religious persuasion is different than mine! She could see the look on my face and she said, 'Don't worry, Mr. Cain, he's a Christian from Lebanon.'"

"Hallelujah!" Cain says. "Thank God!"


Question, Mr Cain, from the back row: Which would you choose, sir, if these were your only two choices -- a competent Muslim doctor or an incompetent Christian one?

Probably, in his "mind" there's no such thing as an incompetent Christian. God guides him, after all. Similarly, I doubt he'd consider the possibility of a competent Muslim.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blame Obamada


The failure of the supercommittee was as predictable as the lame attempts of Republicans to shift blame. Gotta admit their latest is a level of chutzpah (ask M. Bachmann how to pronounce it) that eclipses all previous efforts. It's Obama's fault, they say.

Right.

Maybe they're taking that tack because it's obvious that the Democrats on the committee went well beyond halfway. Hard to paper that one over. While Rs refused to consider any tax increases or, amazingly enough, even the closing of the loopholes that allow huge corporations not only to pay no taxes but to get refunds, Ds put billions in cuts in social spending on the table. You can't argue that away (except, of course, to teabaggers, who'll believe whatever the RWS™ tell them.) Grover Norquist pulled the short hairs, and the Rs grabbed their crotches.

So what else is there, other than lying about what they did, but to blame Obama? Bachmann says he was AWOL. Michael Gerson says if only Obama had done something, some thing, everything would have fallen in place.

Really? After years of direct negotiations during which Rs budged not an inch? After declaring their number-one mission -- a priority higher than solving America's problems -- was to see to it that Obama is a one-term president? If he'd intervened in some unspecified way, presumably a way he hadn't already tried a million times, magic maybe, or guns, Rs would have licked milk out of his hand? C'mon, man.

Does anyone doubt that if President Obama had intervened in the committee's work in any way, RWS™ and teabaggRs would have characterized it as arrogant interference? Acting like a dictator (Hitler, I believe, is the teabagger-approved comparison)? Disrespecting the co-equal branch of government? Blamed him for the failure and called it meddling?

Obama's fault. Gimme a friggin' break.

[Added: this essay says it well. To more people than me.]

[Even more: committee members specifically asked Obama to stay away from it:

For all the eleventh-hour, “where-was-Obama?” moaning, the bipartisan congressional directive to the White House as the supercommittee did its work was simple: Back off.

That’s right. The message from both Republican and Democratic members of the group was that presidential involvement could only be counterproductive. The more a particular approach was associated with the president, they argued, the harder it would be for Republicans to embrace it. Anything that looked like an Obama “win” would have been unacceptable to Republicans in an election cycle.



What a bunch of uninformed or willful liars we have on the right. It's all I can muster not to hate them outright.]

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Asian Gracefully



Preferring, I guess, casting aspersions on the "Occupy" movement, or equalizing blame for the super-failure, the media haven't had much to say about our president's just-completed trip to Asia. I must say I hadn't followed it too closely, either. I'd noted the agreement on troops down under, but that's about it. Turns out, we missed some stuff:

The cascade of statements, deployments, agreements and announcements from the United States and its regional associates in the last week has to be one of the most unpleasant shocks for China’s leadership — ever. The US is moving forces to Australia, Australia is selling uranium to India, Japan is stepping up military actions and coordinating more closely with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea, Myanmar is slipping out of China’s column and seeking to reintegrate itself into the region, Indonesia and the Philippines are deepening military ties with the the US: and all that in just one week. If that wasn’t enough, a critical mass of the region’s countries have agreed to work out a new trade group that does not include China, while the US, to applause, has proposed that China’s territorial disputes with its neighbors be settled at a forum like the East Asia Summit — rather than in the bilateral talks with its smaller, weaker neighbors that China prefers.

...It was a surprise diplomatic attack, aimed at reversing a decade of chit chat about American decline and disinterest in Asia, aimed also at nipping the myth of “China’s inexorable rise” in the bud.

[...]

...it was as decisive a diplomatic victory as anyone is likely to see. Congratulations should go to President Obama and his national security team. The State Department, the Department of Defense and the White House have clearly been working effectively together on an intensive and complex strategy. They avoided leaks, they coordinated effectively with half a dozen countries, they deployed a range of instruments of power. In the field of foreign policy, this was a coming of age of the Obama administration and it was conceived and executed about as flawlessly as these things ever can be.


Seems like sort of a big deal. But, you know, it doesn't fit the Foxonewtonian mittstatements that Obama hates America, doesn't consider it exceptional, has no foreign policy, is in over his head. The narrative pumped relentlessly into the brains of teabaggers like sludge into a cesspool.


Fiction Imitates Fiction


In a nice temporal juxtaposition, two days after the SNL sketch we learn that the man who's taken every position on every issue, who passed on the latest teabaggR morality play lest he be asked about it, has just released a shocking admission of past failings:

"I tasted a beer and tried a cigarette once, as a wayward teenager..."

Yep. Take away the moral cowardice, the blatant pandering, and the awkward demeanor in public places, he's just like you and me. (Oh, I'm way worse: I stole my first cigarette from my dad's supply; and he actually bought me my first beer, after high school graduation.)


Monday, November 21, 2011

When Their Lips Move...




I guess if Barack Obama doesn't want to have his words deliberately twisted by Republicans and RWS™, he'll just need to stay silent. Meanwhile, the response to his "lazy" comment has been the perfect demonstration of the two things that constitute the sum of Republican, teabaggR, and RWS™ substance: lying, and hypocrisy.

He called Americans lazy, they claim. He didn't.

WE call Americans lazy, they should have said -- because they do, daily -- but they didn't.

About the time I was planning to write about it, I read this. So rather than wasting your time and mine, I recommend following the link. It couldn't be more clear.

I'm a peaceful guy, practically an empath. I like democracy; used to, anyway, till these prevaricators showed up and Americans starting swallowing their excrescences. These people on the right have passed well beyond infuriating in their willingness openly to lie and shamelessly to hypocricize. Their contempt for the electorate knows no bounds; their commitment to thoughtful governance is non-existent. If lies were dollars, they'd have balanced the budget, long since. Based wholly upon and fueled by lies and hypocrisy, their agenda is destructive to everything we once were. If proof were needed, this latest miniseries of misinformation has been the perfect emblem.

Because of the mendacious ministrations of the right (and the eager gullibility of their followers), we've become thoroughly unable to address our problems meaningfully; we are way beyond screwed.

Other than that, I feel fine. Thanks for asking.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Three Sermons On Sunday




None of the above, of course, would ever be persuasive to believers. Some points are the very ones I've made here and elsewhere. They are, after all, pretty obvious. (I'd not have made all of the above arguments, because some are a little circular in their own right. Which in no way diminishes the rest.) Most importantly, you simply can't reconcile the idea of an all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving god with what we observe of the world. The claims made can only be rejoined by repeating the faith that's being questioned. So the circle remains unbroken, beliefs unquestioned.

Still, it's challenging -- or it ought to be -- to hear such things said eloquently and to realize that to the central arguments -- the suffering, the immorality of eternal punishment and the associated world-views, the fact that Jesus didn't die for our sins and he knew it -- there is no logical disproof. I get that belief is not about logic; it is, in fact, an antidote to it. But you'd think that after all this time, people would have found a way at least to be internally consistent in their beliefs. When immorality is central to the appeal of a particular religion, why does it continue to exist? When what you believe is overtly at odds with everything we can see with our eyes, what's the point?

That the same is the case with teabaggerism is not at all coincidental, by the bye.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Exceptionalism


Pathetic:

An episode of the BBC's Frozen Planet documentary series that looks at climate change has been scrapped in the U.S., where many are hostile to the idea of global warming.

British viewers will see all seven episodes of the multi-million-pound nature series throughout the Autumn.

But U.S. audiences will not be shown the last episode, which looks at the threat posed by man to the natural world.

It is feared a show that preaches global warming could upset viewers in the U.S., where around half of people do not believe in climate change.


Yes, it truly is an exceptional nation we're becoming: a planet-wide embarrassment. Thanks, teabaggRs.

[Update: thanks to a commenter, it's pointed out that the above report is, evidently, wrong. That is indeed good news. Unlike their brethren across the pond, it appears the British are willing to stick to facts. Wonder if it'll change any minds over here when it shows.] [Amusingly, if the commenter is correct, they might be replacing the British voiceover with an American one. Can't have that authoritative diction on a matter such as this.]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Race Card

[Source]

Considering Police



Here's something on which to ruminate: As we watch OWS protesters around the country being brought down by some pretty tough police action (arrests, beatings, indiscriminate pepper spray, etc), should we be considering the power police have to quash peaceful protest? At what point does it become a danger to a free society, to the ability of citizens to petition against the government?

I ask this as a general proposition: I have no knowledge of the specific laws which may or may not have been broken by the recent protests in the various cities. Nor, for that matter, about the reasonableness of those presumed laws. But it's worth asking, in the context of peaceful protest, who does and who ought to have the authority to take them down. By what definitions does a protest become something to which police in riot gear need to be sent; and at what point is aggressive action warranted? Who gives the order? On what basis, and by what authority? What is the purpose of the police when they arrive? Maintaining order, or suppressing the gathering? When does one begin to blend into the other?

And how about "detaining" (handcuffing, arresting) reporters on the scene? Anyone have a problem with that?

Seems to me these are questions all people ought to ask; maybe especially those gun-totin' America-loving bulwarks against tyranny: teabaggers, teabaggRs, militias. The RWS™ are only too happy to see the OWS protesters taken down by any means. But should they worry about the possibility of similar action at next Glenn Beck paranoia-fest? It's pretty clear of late that freedom of speech is in the eye of the beholder, and hardly a unequivocal ethos at that end of the spectrum. Whatever the rules, they ought to apply universally, oughtn't they?

I don't think it's a trivial issue. Seems to me it's at the heart of what makes a free and democratic society.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Obvious Question


Herman Cain has joined the annointed field of Republican presidential candidates who claim god told them to run. At minimum, in addition to Herm, that group includes Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry.

So if it's true that god indeed convinced each of them to run, mustn't it also be true that he's fucking with at least two of them? Or, as usual, is he fucking with us all?

"Government Is The Problem" Is The Problem


Written by a man much more knowledgable than me, this article encapsulates the points I've been trying to make here for years:

....Thirty years ago, a newly elected Ronald Reagan made a fateful judgment: “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Taxes for the rich were slashed, as were outlays on public services and investments as a share of national income...

Reagan’s was a fateful misdiagnosis. He completely overlooked the real issue — the rise of global competition in the information age — and fought a bogeyman, the government. Decades on, America pays the price of that misdiagnosis, with a nation singularly unprepared to face the global economic, energy and environmental challenges of our time.

[...]

... Twice before in American history, powerful corporate interests dominated Washington and brought America to a state of unacceptable inequality, instability and corruption. Both times a social and political movement arose to restore democracy and shared prosperity.

[...]

Following our recent financial calamity, a third progressive era is likely to be in the making. This one should aim for three things. The first is a revival of crucial public services, especially education, training, public investment and environmental protection. The second is the end of a climate of impunity that encouraged nearly every Wall Street firm to commit financial fraud. The third is to re-establish the supremacy of people votes over dollar votes in Washington.

In addition to pointing out the error of a recent counterfactual comment here about corporate taxes,* it makes clear what the issue of income inequality is really about, as I've said as well: it's about having the means to do what needs doing if our country is to have a future. The writer seems a little more optimistic than I am about an incipient progressive era; but at least there's a conversation happening in some circles.

Demagoguing OWS as some sort of lazy hippie movement, wanting something for nothing, is easy; and god knows it works on those of teabagger mentality. But it's foggery. Ragged, often embarrassing (to me, at least), the protesters are nevertheless making an important point: we can't go on like this; where "this" is the unwillingness of so many Americans to help pay the tab for living in this country, combined with their willingness to cut funding for the future in order to pay for their selfishness.

And, no, it's not about being against corporate profits or individual wealth. They're what makes the world go 'round. Without wealth and profits, ain't no money to spend on our salvation. But since the Reagan era the trend is perverse and unsustainable: profit without payback; demonizing government as an excuse to accumulate money at the top while income for working people remains flat, the middle class shrinks; and while providing for the needs of the country becomes financially impossible.
_______________________

* I've said before and I'll say again: I have no idea what a proper corporate tax rate might be; and I gather that in the US, even if it's lower than it's been in a long time, it's higher than in most other countries. What that means, I don't know. But it's also true that the nominal rate seems to be paid by very few corporations, and many of our largest ones not only pay no tax at all, but manage to get tax "rebates" from the government. Most, I think, agree that's wrong. Except, of course, teabaggRs, who've opposed any efforts to close the loopholes that allow such travesty.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Down There


"I wanna know what love is. I want you to show me. I wanna feel what love is. I know you can show me."

Listening to oldies the other day, I heard this song. I've always thought it was about a guy who'd failed at love, asking his girl for an anatomy lesson. And who's to say I'm wrong?


This Is What You Get




Want to see what happens when people (in this case, the Koch brothers) select a candidate for his likelihood to do their bidding, who's otherwise entirely clueless, and into whose head they try to cram enough information to allow him to hide his cluelessness in order to fool the public (successfully so far, it would appear) into voting for him? Watch the video and weep for our country. It's a stunning spouting (after he painfully, embarrassingly, searches through his overloaded memory banks for his coachery) of half-learned talking points, about which he clearly knows not a damn thing. Pretty appalling.

Unlike Sarah Palin, it appears Mr Cain at least made a half-hearted to learn something. Not that it made any difference: ultimately he doesn't seem to care that he's bullshitting. But let's be of good cheer: looks like Newt the execrable is next into the breach as the transitory not-Mitt. So maybe I should be like this guy, invoking the mercy rule for poor Herman.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Tortured Minds


It's as if Republicans wait for something to be disproved, and then line up like pre-teen girls at a Bieber concert to support it. Really, it's the most amazing thing: there's nothing they say that hasn't been fully debunked at some point or another. Being wrong seems central to their policies on everything. Tax cuts, regulation. Climate change, creationism. If it's been shown false, they grab at it like David Vitter in a diaper store. If it's true, they drop it like a hundred-million year old rock. Or lie about it.

In the (shudder) foreign policy debate, a series of factual eggs were laid. That, of course, is nothing new. But then, nearly to a man (and, it goes without saying, a woman) the R candidates lined up in support of torture. Bring it back, they demand. We loves us some waterboarding.

Never mind that since Obama ended it, we've intercepted more plots, found and blown up (like it or not) more terrorists than Bush in his most fevered dream. Never mind that the purpose of torture has always been -- and, used by tyrants, remains -- the wringing of false confessions from broken captives. Ask John McCain. Never mind the many experts and military leaders who've told us the information gathered from torture is completely unreliable and that the non-torture methods are far superior. Bring back torture, they demand. It's as American as apple ghraib. I'd like to say those proudly uninformed idiots have finally and undeniably embarrassed themselves; but clearly they have no capacity for embarrassment, nor does their audience.

After months and years of listening to their idiocy, words are all but failing me. I'm literally shaking as I type; I should be on the floor curled into a ball. I'm not sure I can take it anymore. What have we become when that grotesquely gaping group of gasp-inducing gaffers is offered up by a once-respectable political party; and when the more outrageously inaccurate or desperately disgusting are their pronouncements, the louder their audience cheers.

These are the purported leaders of a major political party; the people cheering them on are actually part of our political process, have their fingers on the buttons in the booths that will determine our future. Or lack of it. Bullshit pours from them like, well, shit from a bull. Freely, happily, with no thought aforethought, those laughable know-nothings (the one or two who know one or two things feel they have to hide it from their voters) spew demonstrable falsehoods like puke from a bulimic. It's truly awful. These are disgusting people.

Really, Republicans: this lot is the best you can do? Within this gaggle of grotesquery (Huntsman, when he's occasionally not drinking the tea, excepted -- and he was done before he started) is the one you'd choose to lead our country? Really? You'll support the last one slouching, you can do that without shame?

Evidently, yes. Yes you can.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Speaking Sense On Sunday


From America's Finest News Source:

PRINCETON, NJ—According to a new report published this week, researchers at Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study have definitively concluded that it—all of it—is some kind of sick joke.

The comprehensive study, which carefully analyzed fields as varied as physics, theology, history, economics, sociology, and philosophy, is said to have found overwhelming evidence that it is all just one big sham specifically designed to humiliate us and cause us as much misery as possible.

[...]

"The question we're ultimately left with is what kind of a savage and twisted god would find this funny?" theological scholar Meredith Hemphill said. "Unfortunately, the only thing we can say for sure is that we're not dealing with a benevolent deity or even a detached and unfeeling maker, but apparently some unknowable force that takes a perverted, I would argue psychopathic, pleasure in watching its creations struggle and fail."

[...]

"There appears to be no escaping the feelings of humiliation, emptiness, and despair this barbaric joke exacts on everyone," said Nobel laureate and professor emeritus of psychology Daniel Kahneman. "However, trial studies show humankind is far better off when we push it all into the back of our heads, try not to think about it, and just trudge mindlessly toward death."

"And let me remind everyone that the joke does indeed have an ending, one which generally occurs much, much sooner than we expect," Kahneman added.


The fact that, regarding the triple threat (all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful) god of the Christian right, I've said as much in all seriousness, makes it no less funny; nor, despite coming from a satirical source, is it any less true.

And maybe this is as good a time as any to comment on Penn State.

In particular, I find it astounding, nearly unbelievable except that unbelievable is what belief is about, that Joe Paterno, and, later, members of the board of trustees there, said we should pray for the victims. To whom, for gods' sake? The god who let ten year old boys be raped? Who, in his all-powerful lovingness, gave that coach a hard-on and let him shove it up the rectum of a child? That god? It's he to whom we should direct prayers? So he'll do what, now, suddenly, after decades of abject failure? Bring peace of mind to the children he abandoned? Why? Because more people are begging him now than merely the several victims back then? Those little boys didn't pray hard enough, or were there just too few of them to cross the celestial ego-threshold?

Sickening, at all levels.

At the game yesterday, the teams met midfield to pray for the victims. What pathetic pretentiousness. What willful ignoring. If the god they're praying to answers prayers, then he let the serial rapes happen and doesn't give a good god damn; or he doesn't exist. Either/Or. Take your pick, and save your breath.

Pray for the victims. As if that'll make it all right, get everyone off the hook, including god. That's the greatest immorality of all. And the sickest joke.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Two Faces


Lost in the amusement over the Perry brain freeze (which, like Cain's proclivities, will likely help him among teabaggers) are a couple of other significant moments from the latest Republican parade of pareidolia.

Asked about the $300K he received as a consultant for Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae, Newt the Simpering Slimeball claimed they paid him to be a "historian" for the agencies. A note-taker, I guess. Accurate, other than the fact that it's a complete revision of the truth:

... Commercial banks regarded Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae as competitors and were anxious to pick up business that would result from scaling back the two companies.

Pushing back, Freddie Mac enlisted prominent conservatives, including Gingrich and former Justice Department official Viet Dinh, paying each $300,000 in 2006, according to internal records.

Gingrich talked and wrote about what he saw as the benefits of the Freddie Mac business model.

Dinh wrote a legal analysis of private property rights that viewed a hypothetical government-enforced sale of Freddie Mac assets as constitutionally suspect.

The difference between the facility with which both Gingrich and Romney produce lies is that the former brazens through them with his faux-professorial demeanor, assuming that his "I'm-the-smartest-guy-in-the-room" attitude will simply overwhelm any lesser being who'd think to question him. Romney, on the other hand, sort of slinks by his lies hoping no one will notice. He's more like the kid with the cookie behind his back, pretending the lid isn't off the jar.

Which brings us to the other noteworthy moment: asked about his flip-flopping, Romney claimed the mantle of constancy for staying married and remaining in the church of Moroni. Allowed completely to ignore the central point of the question, he went on to claim that Obama's is the most "political" presidency in modern history, after which he declared that Obama is planning when to leave Afghanistan based purely on politics. Follow up questions, demands for explication? Are you kidding?

I'll ignore Herman Cain's arch arithmetical announcement that for every woman who claims he sexually harassed them, there are thousands who don't. Gotta give him that. Probably several thousand. It's a big country.

The above examples are significant for showing the disregard those sad samples of humanity hold for their public. (It's true, of course, of the whole lot of them with the possible partial sometimes exception of Jon Huntsman; but it's starting to seem as though Newt will be the only non-Mitt left standing, while the rest are just background noise, which means, as I said long ago, it'll be Romney...) And they demonstrate their certainty that the media they love to bash won't ever really call them on it. But mostly, they confirm the Death Valley level to which partisanship has sunk us: among Republican voters, lies don't matter. Facts don't matter. What matters is getting the black guy out of the white house. That their grievances and beliefs about what he has and hasn't done have nothing to do with reality is the least of their concerns. And the Republican candidates know it.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dare One Hope?


The anti-union measure in Ohio was soundly defeated. The radical Sharia "personhood" bill in Mississippi went down, too. Can it be that the teabagger wing of the Republican party (not really a wing; pretty much every body part but the head) has gone too far? Might those most adversely affected by the selfish and simpleminded views of teabaggRs (ie everyone but the top 1% -- and when you think about it, as I have, them, too: who doesn't have a stake in the survival of the country?) finally, at long last, be showing signs of cerebration?

Being one who's always sort of admired the idea of America and who prefers to see it stick around, I'd like to think so. On the other hand, the following letters were in my local paper a day or so ago:

I believe it is time to respond to Eugene Robinson's Nov. 1 column, "Let Herman be gone from the spotlight": He seems to be anxious to criticize presidential candidate Herman Cain for something that might have happened 12 years ago. This is another example of researching someone's past to embarrass them and try to get off the real issues that face this nation. There has been no real solid information on these charges, yet Robinson wants him to relax confidentiality rules and release records.

Where was this request when presidential candidate Obama chose not to release educational records, funding, and any background information that could have embarrassed him? When Robinson mentions Mr. Cain's lack of foreign policy, I do not believe President Obama's was very familiar either, with all his voting present during his short time in the Senate. Mr. Cain has many skills for creating jobs, as opposed to a community organizer who blames everyone but himself.

President Obama's statement that he visited 57 states and still had one to go, is rather disturbing, along with so many failed policies. Eugene shows his great writing skills by using words like ignorant, unworkable, goofy, bizarre, unmitigated, ruinous and loopy in describing Mr. Cain. It must be real difficult for Mr. Robinson to see a black conservative excel and he wants to play the race card and confidentiality, both ways. We need a unifier not a divider and a problem solver rather than someone that apologizes for America and needs a teleprompter as his pacifier.

It's as if Fox "news" opened the guy's skull and poured in the talking points. And boy did they stick. Apologizes. Teleprompter. Voting "present."

And the next one:


Regarding the sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain: We've seen this movie before, haven't we? As with Clarence Thomas, some people feel extremely threatened by a successful black conservative who thinks for himself and isn't created by and/or beholden to the mainstream media and liberal ideology. They're frightened to death of him, so they're out to take him down by any means necessary. It probably won't work -- it's interesting that Cain had his biggest fund-raising day the day after the allegations came out. Several questions come to mind:

If the alleged harassment happened 15 years ago, why is it only now coming out? Since when is raising your hand to your chin a sexual gesture? (He was accused of comparing a woman's height to his wife's height by putting his hand under his chin.) If the allegations prove to be false, will the perpetrators be held accountable? Another reason tort reform is badly needed. Losers should pay. Whether or not the allegations are true, does anyone truly care? It didn't seem to matter much when Bill Clinton was having his way with multiple women while occupying the Oval Office. Yes, he was impeached, but not removed from office.
Hook, line, and repeater. And not a little disjointed.

Clearly, there are plenty out there who will buy whatever the RWS™ sells them. I'd have written a letter in response, but there's a three-hundred word limit; how can you say what needs saying in that format? And, obviously, it wouldn't make an ounce of difference.

So, much as I'd like to think it's possible to turn the tide of willful ignorance and that the aforementioned votes are signifiers, I think it's way too soon to exhale. The gullibility of teabaggers and their manifest desire for simplistic answers to complex questions is more than clear. And optimism hasn't been in my bones for a long time. (Which may explain my recent discovery that, sometime in the last couple of decades, I've shrunk from 6' 4'' to 6' 3".)


Personhood Of Interest


As I write this, I don't yet know the outcome of the vote in Mississippi. It won't change the essential point.

Previously, I've written about what no one can deny: god is the most prolific abortionist of all time. The percentage of concepti that fail to implant, or which are shed so early after implantation that they aren't likely even noticed, is estimated to be at least a quarter of them; and, for the aforementioned reasons, it's probably much higher. (For purposes of this post, let's ignore the number of babies born dead, or who die immediately after birth because of some unsurvivable defect. The lord taketh, and taketh.) Human-directed abortions pale, numerically, in comparison.

In the context of the Mississippi attempt to define life as beginning at conception, conferring "personhood" on any fertilized egg, reflect on this: the proposal treats a fertilized egg with more deference than god, who brushes them away like crumbs on his shirt.

Interesting, huh?


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tom Tomorrow

[Click image to enlarge.]

It'd be easier to laugh if it were an exaggeration.


Turtle Tunnels


Wait, what? You mean to tell me R congressfolk have been lying to us?

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's an outrageous tale: The federal government spends one out of every $10 in transportation aid on wasteful projects such as refurbishing a giant roadside coffee pot and constructing turtle tunnels.

That's what Republican lawmakers have said repeatedly in recent weeks in the Senate, in public appearances and in news releases. They are trying to eliminate a requirement that states use a portion of their highway aid for "transportation enhancements," 12 categories of projects from bike and walking paths to scenic overlooks and landscaping.

But it's not exactly true.

To make their case, lawmakers have exaggerated and misrepresented some projects that have received aid.


Well, knock me over with a bridge to nowhere.

First on the list: the Lincoln Highway 200-Mile Roadside Museum in south-central Pennsylvania. It was described as receiving $300,000 in 2004 for signs, murals, colorful vintage gas pumps painted by local artists and refurbishing of a former roadside snack stand from 1927 that's shaped like a giant coffee pot.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was apparently working from Coburn's list two weeks ago when he offered an amendment to narrow the types of projects eligible for enhancement funds....

But no transportation aid was spent on the coffee pot's $100,000 restoration, said Olga Herbert, executive director of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor. The money was raised entirely from preservation and civic organizations and local supporters....


...."Don't tell the people of Kentucky they need to finance every turtle tunnel and solar panel company on some bureaucrat's wish list in order to get their bridges fixed," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last month in a speech decrying President Barack Obama's request for $50 billion for highways, bridges and airport runways.

....

While turtle deaths prompted the project, the culverts are being used by many other species, including beavers, otters, alligators and snakes. They make driving safer for motorists who were swerving to avoid turtles and alligators...

The project used economic stimulus funds rather than regularly budgeted transportation money. Coburn's list, provided to reporters and posted on his Senate website, said Florida plans to spend $3.4 million on the project, but it will require $6 million more to finish "and it was unclear how long it will take to get the project built."

Actually, the project was finished in September 2010 and came in under budget at $3 million, according to the Transportation Department.


In the article, it's a long list. I guess none of it earthshaking in its own right, but it's revelatory (assuming there are people to whom it isn't as obvious as a dead turtle) of the facility with which these guys lie whenever their lips move, while assuming no one will notice. Or care. In that, they're right on the money.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Devil Made Me Do It


This is perfect. It tells you everything you need to know about Republicans as we currently see them, and the religiosity which motivates their thinking (if that word, with "Republican," doesn't constitute an oxymoron.)

After the suicide of a gay student who'd been harassed mercilessly, Democrats in the Michigan legislature wanted a bill addressing bullying in schools. Republicans (who are these people?) didn't. But they finally agreed, as long as the bill contained an out for bigoted haters. Their base, in other words.

In short, Michigan Republicans demanded that bullying be allowed as long as it comes from the bullier's religious beliefs. Want to harass and bully and beat up gays? Not a problem as long as it's your Christianity talking. (Need I point out: these are the same ilk who like to warn us about Sharia law taking over our country.)

If the above isn't enough, consider the upcoming vote in Ohio regarding removing collective bargaining rights for teachers and other government employees. A Republican representative was asked, if teachers needed to take a pay cut, how about legislators. The answer, of course, was no:

In a recent interview, a top Ohio Republican defended this in a curiously belligerent way, one that may reverberate in the race’s final days: He claimed lawmakers don’t need to take a pay cut in the spirit of shared sacrifice, because “I earn my pay,” adding: “Republicans earn their money.”
How many times must it be said: these are awful people.

This is the party that wants to run our country, and might well be poised to do so.


Friday, November 4, 2011

See The Problem

[Click image to enlarge]

According to the article whence came the above, the D plan cuts over a trillion dollars more than the R plan from the deficit (4.12T vs 3.06T). For those who haven't clicked to enlarge, care to guess what the bars on the left represent?

And as long as we're looking at graphics, check out this one, about competing jobs plans. Then tell us where it's wrong, in pointing out that Obama's actually is one, and the Rs is nothing of the sort. Assuming you're sitting down, I'll pass along the surprising info that Senate Rs killed what I'd consider the most important part of Obama's bill: infrastructure. Country last. (Senatorial dysfunction alert: it failed with 51 votes.)

You'd think the next election would be a walkover for Democrats. Rs have done nothing but obstruct, making it clear they have no intention of letting the economy improve before that election; and what few plans they've produced are demonstrably regressive and damaging, especially to those most likely to vote for them, ie teabaggers. I find it incomprehensible. And (for now anyway) their frontrunner is a guy who proudly knows nothing about economics or foreign policy, an instinctive dissembler. A motivational speaker -- meaning a guy who's made millions selling snake oil.

Only in America. Sadly.




Thursday, November 3, 2011

Squirmin' Wormin' Herman


His first political instincts were the standard ones: lie (cf: Anthony Weiner). But, unlike the successful ones, he didn't know when to stop.





1. Politico allegations are false. Story is crap.


2. Yes, there were allegations. But they were false.


3. Yes there were allegations that were false and I don't know what money was paid.


4. I don't know whether money was paid. And it would be wrong for me to find out whether money was paid because it's confidential.


5. There was a in-depth investigation. And I was cleared. But I don't know anything about it.


6. Here's the gesture that led to my getting accused of harassment.


7. Okay, I remember some discussion of a settlement number.

But, you know, even that isn't outstandingly outstanding for a politician. What's revelatory is the fact that he now denies he changed his story. That's so blatant you'd think even teabaggers would find it a bridge too for.


Yeah, right. Denying the obvious isn't a bug for teabaggers; it is, as they say, a feature. In these most serious of times, they're going for a clown. The last clown standing in a circus of clowns: Palin, Trump, Bachmann, Perry.



The most interesting part of the story, of course, is the response of the RWS™: they're outraged. Outraged!! It's all about the fact that liberals can't stand a black conservative. How hypocritical they are. How racist. Coulter and Limbaugh are melting down. Never mind that the story was broken by Politico, a right-leaning rag. Never mind that the only falsehoods so far demonstrated have been the ones produced by Herman Cain.



Reality demonstrates the exact opposite of RWS™ ravings, of course. Liberals actually are willing to see beyond race and call a spade a spade. (Yes, I know.) The guy's a con artist (ie, a motivational speaker) who knows nothing about economics or foreign policy or governance, and is proud of it. Rs think liberals shouldn't call out a black guy for saying stupid stuff; RWS™s are unwilling to. Which position is racially motivated? Moreover, Cain's 9-9-9 plan has been rejected as a joke by all sides. Until criticisms -- and accurate investigations of his past -- degenerate into racial epithets, calling it racism is pure ploy. (For an actual thoughtful conservative's view of Cain, read this. Guess the writer is a closet liberal racist.) The candidate is a joke; ergo, teabaggers love him.



Consider this: why would liberals want to bring down Cain? Let him be the nominee. If I were the praying type, I'd pray for it: it'd be ducks in a fish. In terms of credibility, he makes Sarah Palin seem like Abraham Lincoln. On the other hand, who's the most threatened by citizen Cain? Think it over. Heck, even Herman Cain isn't buying that liberals are behind it.



(For the record: I have no opinion about the charges against Herman Cain. True or false, sincere or dishonest; doesn't matter. It's the response, the instinctive ease with which he lied and changed his story and then, figuring he could say whatever he wanted to his gullible supporters, denied he ever did. To me, it's a defining test of seriousness, and of character. And of how he views the public.) (As if his "policies" haven't already demonstrated it beyond doubt.)





Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Public Drunkenness


I've nothing against drinking; I do a little myself. But I've never liked public drunks. I find them embarrassing and potentially dangerous. In college, when a fraternity-mate might be a little too disorderly and I might have tried to calm him down, others would say, "Hey, man, it's not his fault. He's drunk."