Monday, January 12, 2015

The Occasional Columnist

Here's my latest column in the local newspaper, in case anyone's interested. (For a lesson in irrelevant and/or missing-the-point and/or refusal to address the point, the online responses are instructive, and tend to confirm the pointlessness of the entire exercise. And, for that matter, this blog.)

People ask what a dog would do if it caught a car. We’re finding out. For the last six years Republican legislators have been content to complain, accuse, threaten, and block. Neither required nor expected to do anything useful, they could luxuriate in laziness, run to the always-welcoming arms of Fox “news,” whipping up anger and paranoia, never to worry about the consequences. Now, having routed Democrats across the land, the tire is in the other mouth. In the majority in both houses of Congress, Republicans are faced with the prospect of letting the dog out of the bag. Which they’ve done, on day one. For those who value honesty, it’s not looking good. 
Ignoring history and the real time lessons of such laboratories of failed Reaganomics as Wisconsin and Kansas, Rs want, yet again, to inflict upon us the never-worked and never-will policies of trickle down economics. This time, however, they have a plan: since the math doesn’t work, they’ll ditch the math. As soon as teeth got to tread they announced their intention to dump the current head of the CBO, the heretofore impartial budgetary evaluator of legislation, and to replace him with one that’ll adopt something called “dynamic scoring” which, far as I can tell, is a way of deciding whether a budget will do what it says it will by assuming it’ll do what it says  it will. 
Reminds me of my college days, when a friend and I, who were very competitive with one another, were playing darts. I kept hitting the bull’s-eye, and he kept hitting about six inches above it. So he moved the target up six inches and declared, “It’ll be better for both of us.”
That’s not all. They’ve already voted to cut Social Security. And they approved the Keystone Pipeline, even before the official studies of it were complete, and before Nebraska (which, for some reason, seems to have a say in it) decided its position. So much for Federalism, and so much for substance vs. symbolism. 
Which raises the empyrean question: what, exactly, do the Republican majorities plan to do with their power? Mitch McConnell has declared that the adults are back in charge. (He also credited the recent election with the economic recovery that’s been underway for six years.) So far, that’s meant fudging numbers and taking a meaningless vote to annoy liberals. And a bit of an “oops” on homeland security.
But maybe they just had to get it out of their system, and now they’ll set about doing the people’s work. (And maybe the planet will start cooling on its own.) If, as they avow, they believe in America, which began with and can’t function without compromise, they have a chance to show it. Now they’ll have no problem getting legislation out of Congress and onto the president’s desk. But if they intend, finally, to govern by producing ideas that have a chance of becoming law, they’ll have to write them in such a way as to get a presidential signature; and the only way that will happen is if they’re willing to go a third of the way toward the middle. (Foxolimbeckibagger asseverations to the contrary, President Obama has shown, on every major initiative, that he’s willing to move at least half way, leaving his left wing disappointed and angry. He did it again with the most recent budget.) 
So, we’ll soon learn: will they return to legislating like America always has, or will their only aim be to force vetoes and complain? Or, as they just did in a vote that might open the eyes of all but the fully Foxified, will they drop all pretense and show us who they really are, as they just did in voting to ban experts from advising the EPA, while allowing the polluters to. Absent a lobotomy, it’s hard to be optimistic. 
And now, in response to a couple of recent letters: Yep, I’m a logophile. I get a kick out of learning and intercalating new words. It ameliorates the anguish. And, no, I’m not angry. Depressed, more accurately, by insanity like the aforementioned. It’s like Harry Truman once said: “I never gave them hell. I just told the truth about them, and they thought it was hell.”
[Image source]


  1. It's not pointless. I, for one, loved seeing the column in the paper again and I've noted some letters to the editor defending your right to write. Even happy that you do. I am in that camp. I write two blogs, not as smart and insightful as yours, and not about politics because immersion in that genre would depress me (you must know the feeling). I also feel I am writing into a void at times, then suddenly I'll hear how my posts touched someone deeply, or made them laugh, or felt they could relate and I feel "heard". Sometimes we do what we are called to do with no hope for reward. Other times it would be nice to get some feedback in the form of publishers clamoring to make our thoughts into a best seller. But if not that, just keep being the voice of those of us who agree and don't have the words to articulate our thoughts.

  2. Thanks. I checked out your blog, too. Good stuff. well-written.

  3. Dear Donna,

    Here's a wiki page that explains the statistics regarding how many people actually post vs. the ones who don't post. I think you'll find the answer to your question/curiosity here...

    1% rule (Internet culture)

  4. I am very appreciative of Sid for sticking his neck out by doing his column/thing.

    I used to comment at the Herald. I was very active. I started to notice something. More and more trolls and sock puppets have taken over the comment section as the years have gone by. Then everyone feeds the trolls is an issue too.(not too smart).

    The IQ level of what passes as conversation in the papers eyes is a very low bar. A dude threatens my kids and he continues to post there to this day. That was it for me and I'll never go back as long as they allow trolls to dominate the discussion.

  5. Agreed. It's a wasteland there, and I made the mistake a couple of times of entering into the fray. What a waste of time!

  6. I made the mistake of going over there and reading the comments on your piece. (This is also why I make foolish calls at the poker table.)

    Not only has nothing changed. It seems worse. Maybe because I rarely read the paper there. I'm not as numb to the utter effery going on every minute of every day in the papers comment sections as I once was.

    There was the gratuitous blaming of Obama. Then the standard "you suck" a sprinkle of "everything you believe in sucks" and of course "Did I mention you suck?" They complained that you get to run articles through the editor and their comments get removed/banned. It sounded alot like jealousy and deflecting the blame.

    No wonder they can't see the collapse of the world economy and who is responsible and how to fix it. They deny it's the Tpubs that collapsed the economy, that it was "the leftists". Their Bush was in charge 8 years and he did nothing but protect Americas freedom against the dark skinned folks. They claim it was all Obama, and ever single speck of it is his and his alone. They were blaming him before any of his policies took office because the Tpubs FIRST priority was deny Obama anything. (The same people now take credit for the recovery before any of their policies take effect, again.) The Tpubs couldn't get that right either. The Tpubs spent all the energy and money on slamming Obama, and phoney hearings, for nothing more than political gain and notoriety by being more to the right than anyone else at all costs when the spotlight shines on them contest. AKA "No shame in their game." They then claim that is what the people want and they are doing the American voters will. They say that if Obama voluntarily resigned, that counts as doing the work Americans expect and is the only way to save America. A magnanimous gesture on Obamas' part say the tpubs, and they mean it in the meanest way as well. Then Biden takes over and the Tpubs rinse and repeat, second verse same as the first with Biden in charge. That plan failed, so let's stick to the same

    On the other side we do have some folks with alot on the ball, surprisingly and not so surprisingly.

    Here's my theory...

    The trolls take great pleasure in being trolls. They do it all day every day and get their 'fix'.

    The people with something on the ball seem to only post enough to poke massive holes in the troll comments if they comment at all. These people lose interest eventually because no real conversation is happening. Because all people do is insult those trying to have a civil conversation/argument. Cut and paste bellowing vs. well thought out original comments. One takes no work at all to perfect, and the other requires brain power and real, significant time to craft. One side has a life, the other parks there and spams the thread.

    So the troll just sticks around, enjoying themselves the whole way. The civil folks who are wanting to make a difference, but they are not the zealot trolls. They are real people with real lives that won't lower themselves to the trolls level and leaves only an occasionally comment from that moment forth. Think of all the lefties that were there and are completely gone or rare as Sasquatch sightings. No intelligent conversation and ridiculous statements and threats and insults in return. But those reasons are not the reasons the comment section is as it is...

    It's the moderators fault. Plain, simple and true. They have rules in place and would be justified by banning trolls. They simply do not for some reason. The blame falls squarely on the paper and how they moderate the threads. It's a shame really...

  7. The one most predictable thing in those comments is that no one ever EVER addresses the points I make. Dynamic scoring. Preventing expert testimony. Rather it's "Sid is an idiot." Or, even better, "the Obama recession."

    I think you're right about the dynamic: these are people who really don't know what they're talking about, but that's not a problem for them. The point is to troll for the sake of trolling. Why that is, I can't say. Seems if people take the time to post in response to something, they'd want actually to address what's said. Which is why I have no optimism at all that we'll stop electing idiots to public office: it's people like these, after all, who do the voting.


Comments back, moderated. Preference given for those who stay on topic.

Popular posts