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More on Why Conservatives Fail at Comedy

August 25th, 2014 Comments off

A writer at Murdoch’s New York Post is really upset that comedians don’t make as much fun of Obama as they did of Bush, Cheney, or Palin:

We learn this from Jim Downey, the longtime “Saturday Night Live” specialist in political japery. “If I had to describe Obama as a comedy project, I would say, ‘Degree of difficulty, 10 point 10,’” the writer says in the expanded new edition of the “SNL” oral history book, “Live from New York.”

“It’s like being a rock climber looking up at a thousand-foot-high face of solid obsidian, polished and oiled,” Downey says. “There’s not a single thing to grab onto — certainly not a flaw or hook that you can caricature. [Al] Gore had these ‘handles,’ so did Bush, and Sarah Palin, and even Hillary had them. But with Obama, it was the phenomenon — less about him and more about the effect he had on other people and the way he changed their behavior. So that’s the way I wrote him.”

Therefore, the writer sees comedians as portraying Obama as “completely unmockable.” Despite, of course, the Downey quote being about how he mocked Obama. Talk about missing the point.

Not to mention that Obama has been the butt of his share of SNL skits and late-night comic’s barbs—just not nearly as often as many recent Republicans, and the jokes don’t sting as much. As if there could be no reason aside from bias as to why that’s true. The author of the NYP article makes the clear implication that it’s not because Obama is harder to make fun of, but simply that comedians give “Democrats like Obama a pass” because they’re biased—as if there is some equivalency of humor, that all subjects are equally susceptible to ridicule.

To prove his point, he reserves a whole paragraph for examples of how comics could easily mine a rich vein of humor that should make Obama just as ridiculous-looking as Bush or Palin:

Got that? The charter Choom Ganger, confessed eater of dog and snorter of coke. The doofus who thinks the language spoken by Austrians is “Austrian,” that you pronounce the p in “corpsman” and that ATMs are the reason why job growth is sluggish. The egomaniac who gave the queen of England an iPod loaded with his own speeches and said he was better at everything than the people who work for him. The empty suit with so little real-world knowledge that he referred to his brief stint working for an ordinary profit-seeking company as time “behind enemy lines.” The phony who tells everyone he’s from Chicago, though he didn’t live there until his 20s, and lets you know that he’s talking to people he believes to be stupid by droppin’ his g’s. The world-saving Kal-El from a distant solar system who told us he’d heal the planet and cause the oceans to stop rising. The guy who shared a middle name with one of the most hated dictators on earth.

Okay, let’s take a look at the list.

I had to look up what the hell a “Choom Ganger” was. Turns out it is, at least supposedly, the name chosen by kids at Obama’s high school to describe the kids who “choomed,” or smoked weed. Turns out I had not heard about it for the same reason I had to look up names like Frank Marshall Davis or Saul Alinsky—they are names that won’t roll off the tip of your tongue unless you watch shows like Sean Hannity all the time.

Here’s the thing, though: I do not recall anyone making fun of Bush being an alcoholic or a cocaine addict—which he was just as famous for as Obama was for his own past. Why? Because it’s not really funny to mock addictions people has earlier in life, partly because it comes across as caustic. Like making fun of someone who stuttered as a kid, or was overweight.

Did Obama eat dog meat? In his autobiography, he noted being “introduced to” several strange foods in Indonesia, which also included snake meat and grasshoppers. Obama was a child at that time. Not exactly super-funny stuff; this was more of a hardcore right-wing false-equivalency jab used to defend against the Romney story about driving with his dog on the roof of his car.

That Obama thought “Austrian” was a language: this actually did happen, in a passing remark, Obama noting that he didn’t know what a term was in “Austrian.” Turns out Austrians speak German.

Okay, you could maybe have fun with that—it is, in fact, possibly the only actual comic opportunity of the whole list—after a fashion. Maybe an SNL skit about Obama requiring translators for people who speak “Canadian” or “Australian,” and then asking for different interpreters for countries that all speak Spanish. If you had enough comedic flair, you could make that work.

The problem: as far as gaffes go, it’s pretty damned mild. Again, I had never heard of this one. I did hear about his “fifty-seven states” gaffe, but not many others—because, frankly, Obama doesn’t make very many gaffes.

Sure, he mispronounced “corpsman,” and you can find others. He misstated the number of dead from a tornado as “ten thousand” when it was actually twelve. He said that “Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s.” He once even slipped up and said that McCain talked about “my Muslim faith,” immediately correcting himself. He said, “The Middle East is obviously an issue that has plagued the region for centuries,” and “We’re the country that built the Intercontinental Railroad.”

The thing is, that’s a pretty exhaustive listing of his verbal gaffes—and that’s the point, that he’s not known for them. For every true Obama gaffe, you can find a dozen from Bush, most of them a hell of a lot funnier. Yes, he called Sunrise, Florida, “Sunshine,” referred to being in Asia while in Hawaii, and called Kansas City “St. Louis.” Which are pretty much par for the course, as anyone traveling so much will inevitably make mistakes about location. Probably any president, national politician, singer, comedian—you name it—will have a list of such errors as long, and probably most will have lists much longer.

If you look up lists of Obama gaffes beyond that, they are either about insensitivity (referring to Nancy Reagan’s seances, or his bowling belonging in the Special Olympics) or include a lot of statements which conservatives simply disagree with, and are not gaffes in their own right.

What it comes down to is that you’re not funny because you make the same number of gaffes as most people in your position, you’re funny because you make an unusually large number of gaffes. Which is why Dubya and Dan Quayle are ridiculed for gaffes, but not Reagan or H.W. Bush. Biden is commonly mocked for swearing and having poor impulse control in speaking. Why? Because comedians are biased right-wingers? No, it’s because he does it more.

About ATMs being “the reason why job growth is sluggish,” that’s not really true. He gave ATMs, along with automated airport kiosks, as being examples of automation, which was one way that businesses cut payroll costs—by being “much more efficient with a lot fewer workers.” Which, actually, is exactly true. It’s not a gaffe, it’s a political attack which takes something out of context. So, not so funny.

Was Obama an “egomaniac” because he gave the queen of England an iPod “loaded with his own speeches”? Actually, no, that was mostly made up also. The iPod was loaded with songs from Broadway musicals, which the queen is noted as being a fan of, and a number of videos of the queen herself. The only Obama speeches on the iPod were Obama’s 2004 convention speech and his inauguration speech. Obama was no more an “egomaniac” for adding a few of his speeches to the iPod than the queen was an egomaniac because her gift to Obama was an autographed photo of herself.

As for Obama saying that he was “better at everything than the people who work for him,” I couldn’t even find that one. Sounds like ironic self-deprecation, but I couldn’t say without the original quote.

He did write that he felt like “a spy behind enemy lines” when he worked as a research assistant at a multinational corporation, because he was used to working for civil rights causes—not big corporations, which do tend to occupy the other end of the spectrum from activism. Many young activists would see working for Wall Street as “selling out.” Which makes what Obama said not a gaffe, nor anything to make fun of, really. As a young man, he was idealistic. So?

You can see the list deteriorating around here, and from then on, straight through to the “punch line” that his middle name is Hussein, it’s just the same hateful, vindictive spew that you hear on any right-wing blog.

So, what do we have? Obama smoked weed as a young man, had a fewer-than-average number of verbal slip-ups, gave the queen of England an iPod which contained a few of his speeches along with lots of other music and videos, and said some things that rankled conservatives—and Obama is a fake Muslim tree-hugger who thinks you’re stupid!

That’s pretty much the case for how much fun we could have doing nothing but 24-7 comedic jabs at Obama. Yeah, that’s gonna sell a lot of tickets.

The thing is, it was tried—on Fox News, which should have been the perfect platform for such a show—and it failed, even with that audience. The NYP author’s list is really just another example of why conservatives have a hard time with humor—because their idea of a good guffaw is for an environmental activist to get set on fire, or someone making fun of Obama’s family, listing them as crack addicts, gay porn stars, and assorted criminals. It’s bully humor, and is mostly just funny to the bully.

The reason comedians made a lot of fun of Bush was because he was a non-stop gaffe machine who truly looked stupid and foolish a lot more than is usual for a president. Sarah Palin is an endless cornucopia or word salad, and says stuff like that she’s a foreign policy expert because you can see Russia from Alaska, and Putin flew over her head. And Cheney—jesus, Cheney shot his friend in the face.

You could write a book about how these people are far richer comedic fodder than Obama. It’s not bias. It’s how ridiculous you look. Criticize Obama all you like, you just won’t get many people agreeing that he’s particularly ridiculous.

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What’s a Jobs Bill? Who Cares, SUE OBAMA!

July 13th, 2014 3 comments

Boehner’s petition to sue the president included this claim:

After years of slow economic growth and high unemployment under President Obama, they are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ The House has passed more than 40 jobs bills that would help. But Washington Democrats, led by the President, just ignore them.

Wow! More than 40 jobs bills! Why haven’t we heard of this before? Must be the Liberal Media just trying to make the Republicans look bad.

So, what were the bills he’s talking about? There’s a list of 46 “pro-growth jobs bills” on this page.

One thing you notice right away is that six of the bills listed here were either signed into law or are supported by Obama. We know that because Boehner’s list itself makes this clear. So, exactly how are “Washington Democrats, led by the President” just ignoring them?

But hey, that’s still 40 jobs bills that Democrats haven’t approved! They must be anti-jobs!

Let’s look at the list, starting at the top. Right there is the Keystone pipeline bill that Democrats refuse to pass in the Senate. They’re preventing oil from being more easily delivered from Canada!

Umm, wait. That’s a jobs bill?

Ah.

A piece of legislation called a “jobs” bill should be first and foremost focused on creating jobs. If it is focused on a very different task, even though it results in some jobs being created, then it’s not a “jobs” bill.

For example, let’s say I write a bill proposing that all businesses must submit 100 extra pages of forms every year for some purpose or another. Those businesses will obviously need to hire more people to collect that information, confirm it, and submit the forms. Arguably tens of thousands of new jobs must be created to accomplish this task.

Did I just write a “jobs” bill? No.

No, a “jobs” bill is one that is at the very least mostly about creating jobs, and should be directly about creating jobs. For example, in 2012, Obama was pushing strongly to pass a bill that would give tax incentives to companies which would bring jobs now outsourced overseas back to the United States. That’s clearly a “jobs” bill, as creating jobs in the United States is the primary objective. Republicans opposed it because it would make it less advantageous to hire cheap foreign labor.

Then there was the “American Jobs Act” in 2011, which Obama was also pushing, and Republicans also blocked; Obama split the bill up and got a few elements passed, but Republicans stopped most of it. The bill called for suspending some payroll taxes for employers and employees; unemployment benefits and jobs training; spending for creation of infrastructure, construction, teacher, firefighter, and police jobs; prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed; and loosening regulations on creating capital for new business projects. Again, the theme of all of this is clearly to create jobs, both directly and by economic stimulation.

So, how is the Keystone pipeline a “jobs” bill? The primary objective for the Keystone pipeline is to support the production and sale of controversial tar sands oil. It’s kind of hard to argue that approving an oil pipeline to profit oil companies—one of which is not a United States firm—is somehow primarily an American “jobs” bill. It is, however, part of a distinctly partisan pro-corporate agenda.

In fact, an estimate of the impact of the project says that the project would create only 2,000 short-term construction jobs over two years, with as many as 40,000 “indirect” jobs (providing food services for workers as one example) which are just as if not more temporary. That’s a job increase worth just 15% of last month’s job increases—and those are temporary jobs that would expire after two years, creating a jobs lurch whenever that happens.

Remember back in 2009 when Obama was really pushing the economic stimulus, and a big part of that was to create jobs on infrastructure projects? At the time, Michael Steele and the GOP claimed that these weren’t “jobs” because they were not permanent:

Steele: “You’ve got to look at what’s going to create sustainable jobs. What this administration is talking about is making work. It is creating work.”

Stephanopoulos: “But that’s a job.”

Steele: “No, it’s not a job. A job is something that a business owner creates. It’s going to be long term.”

Stephanopoulos: “So a job doesn’t count if it’s a government job?”

Steele: “Hold on. No, let me finish. That is a contract. It ends at a certain point, George. You know that. These road projects that we’re talking about have an end point. As a small-business owner, I’m looking to grow my business, expand my business. I want to reach further. I want to be international. I want to be national. It’s a whole different perspective on how you create a job versus how you create work.”

So, if Keystone passes, how many “actual,” that is to say, permanent, jobs would be created in America? About 50. More jobs that that would be created—but in Canada. The real profit from this would not be in jobs, it would be in the source of oil. This oil must be refined, but there is no new refining going on, we’re just using a different source. Which means no more new jobs on that end, not in the United States.

But wait a minute. The pipeline delivers oil, but is not the only delivery method. Is this oil that would never be delivered without the pipeline? No. It’s not like we’re not getting the oil—we’re just transporting it by less cost-effective measure, namely rail, truck, and/or barge. Which creates jobs for people running those lines of transportation. Which are currently well-paying, permanent, full-time jobs—which will be killed by the pipeline.

Then there is the fact that the pipeline will lead to higher fuel prices in the midwest, which will have a negative impact on jobs. Oil spills kill jobs over time. The costs for the pipeline will have an opportunity cost on investment in green energy, an industry which has been a true job creator and source of economic value for the United States.

According to various reports, Canadian oil companies would be the biggest winners for this project, with a few jobs spilling over to the American side, which will probably be offset by job losses created by the pipeline. Oh, and tar sands oil is incredibly polluting. In contrast, look at clean-energy car technology initiatives—which created 150,000 long-term manufacturing jobs in the United States. But that’s the kind of industry Republicans mock and deride.

So, no, Keystone is obviously not a “jobs” bill. It’s an oil-industry bill, aimed to mostly profit oil producers and refiners, mostly in Canada, with a minimal or negative jobs impact.


But hey, maybe they just really like the Keystone project, so they topped the list with it. Maybe the 39 other bills on the list are actually “jobs” bills.

How about the “Offshore Energy & Jobs Act” which will “revitalize manufacturing, create jobs, and restore our nation of builders”? That’s offshore drilling with the word “jobs” attached to it. There are other bills for “onshore drilling,” and for deregulating fracking, and other general “drill anywhere” and “get rid of all environmental protection regulations.” Essentially, most of the energy-related jobs bills are “drill & pollute as much as you like” legislature—which, like the Keystone project, is about energy interests making tons of money, and oh yeah, some jobs may be created in the process. Those are not jobs bills.

In fact, nearly half of the “jobs” bills are actually let’s-give-billions-to-morbidly-profit-rich-energy-corporation giveaways, mostly bills which attack Democratic policies to keep air & water clean and not completely wreck the environment.


But hey, maybe the other two dozen or so bills on the list are actually “jobs” bills.

The first non-energy bill listed: kill Obamacare. Which would result in millions losing the first affordable healthcare they have seen in a long time, and in many other greatly beneficial policies getting struck down. But hey, the CBO said 2 million jobs would be lost!

No, the CBO said that the equivalent of 2 million jobs in hours worked would be reduced, mostly from people working themselves half to death to pay for pre-ACA health care, which now they don’t need and so can work less but still get the same benefits. Overall, the ACA is probably more job-neutral than anything else—primarily because it’s not a jobs bill. Killing it will not create jobs, that’s GOP fantasy politicking.

So, what’s next on the list? Oh, the next three “jobs” bills are also about killing Obamacare. Go down the list, and you’ll see that they are mostly of this stripe: partisan laws trying to get Republican political agendas signed into law and Democratic political agendas repealed. Privatization of schools, half a dozen limits or prohibitions on government regulation, importing cheaper labor in high-tech industry, more attempts to get rid of the ACA, defunding welfare, spending cuts (which ironically fund jobs), cut food stamps (which are actually job-stimulative due to increase sales business), tax cuts & credits for corporations—stuff like that.

You can read it on the list. Once you get past the hyperbolic “jobs, jobs, jobs!!” titles & language adorning the proposals, you will see that none of these bills are in fact focused on creating jobs, but depend on side effects (many of them fictional) to create the jobs. But the bills themselves are all about something other than jobs.


So, essentially, John Boehner and the Republicans are complaining that Obama is not passing their partisan legislative agenda which is not about jobs, but instead is about rewarding Republican constituents and breaking down Democratic ones.

Of course, since then, the Republican “justification” behind the alleged lawsuit has been revealed as a delay in enforcement of the ACA for some businesses—a move which Republicans not only approved of at the time, but actually pressured the president to do in a different form—until they realized they could use it as a way to attack Obama, at which point they suddenly opposed such delays.

I can imagine that a lot of Americans who are not favorably inclined towards Obama will believe that there is something to the lawsuit, but only because they do not listen, think, or study the issue seriously. They will hear Boehner and other conservatives saying something like, “Obama blah blah blah failed blah blah blah killing jobs blah blah blah shameful blah blah blah destroying America blah blah blah gerbils blah blah blah fluoridation blah blah blah therefore we must [ sue / impeach ] him.”

Apparently, in conservative politics nowadays, this is what is referred to as “Thursday.”

Operation American Spring

May 18th, 2014 1 comment

Is “Operation American Spring” a joke or something? On the one hand, I get the impression that it’s a thing made up by some nobody group that liberals are touting just to make fun of it—but then I see just enough conservatives making noise about it to give me the impression that it is, somehow, “for real.”

It is now famous, of course, for projecting “millions, as many as ten million” patriots to descend on Washington D.C., after which a million will camp out in the capital, thus leading to a revolution.

How this could be taken seriously by anyone is rather beyond me. Just the logistics alone would crash the event within hours—assuming, of course, that even minimal expectations were met. Reading the event’s web site show that they pretty much toe the line on every piece of hyperbolic, paranoid, conspiracy-theory conservative tripe imaginable.

But here is what really convinced me the whole thing was a joke: their site’s HTML. Look at this snippet:

<h1><strong><font size=“3”><font face=“Times New Roman”><font face=“Verdana” size=“5”><font color=“#FFCC00” size=“6”>This
is the OFFICIAL Operation American Spring</font></font> </font></font></strong></h1>

Yes, that is the long-ago-deprecated “font” tag. I’m surprised their tags aren’t all-caps. Looking through the code, it is hard to say what caused all of this. The competing font tags declaring different faces and sizes, not to mention multiple font tags around a single snippet of text, suggests a likely old WYSIWYG app where the font was changed back and forth. However, applying a “strong” tag within an “h1” tag? Alternating between “b” and “strong” further down in the code? Either it was a really bad app, or someone tinkered. Usually apps declare themselves in the meta tags in the head, but not here. Heck, maybe this was hand-coded by a really stupid person.

Anyway, the event, as has been reported with no little hilarity, has turned out “tens” of people. The event’s organizer made some pretty bizarre claims about the reasons for the turnout:

“We were getting over two inches of rain in hour in parts of Virginia this morning,” Mr. Milton said. “Now it’s a nice sunny day. But this is a very poor turnout.” … The weather likely delayed some from showing, he said. But as the sun comes out, and the weekend weather dawns balmy, more could show, he said. …

He also said the some of the planned Operation American Spring members who were planning to head to Washington, D.C., instead traveled to Nevada, to give support to cattle rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government over grazing fees.

“A lot that were supposed to come here went there instead,” Mr. Milton said.

Yes, I remember all ten million showing up at Bundy’s ranch. I’m sure they left after the racist press conferences, and are now just held up in traffic somewhere.

Ah, wingnuts. They’re destroying the country, but they’re so funny when they do it.

Beware the Heroes You Cast

April 25th, 2014 4 comments

Any statement that begins with the words, “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro” is not likely to end well.

Fox News and many on the conservative side have made a homespun hero out of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who says that the United States does not exist—even as he rides around on a horse carrying the flag of the United States. He says that he will follow every law that Nevada has, but none of the federal government—despite the fact that one of Nevada’s highest laws says that federal laws must be followed. This is a man whose claim to fame is essentially that he’s a thief. For twenty years, he has been raiding resources which do not belong to him. Now that the owners, having been relatively gentle and patient, are asserting their ownership, Bundy has decided to use the threat of violence to solve his problems.

Now, one can understand the siren call of this story for the conservatives. As I pointed out before, it has so many seductive elements: the scrappy, defiant rancher with his ragtag team of compatriots fighting the feds all by their lonesome, the government denying use of land to protect an endangered species, and the allure of a Waco-style conflagration which could amount to a spectacular PR nightmare for the Obama administration. You can almost hear the right wing getting sexually aroused.

Now, the points I mentioned above—essentially, this is a guy who doesn’t bother to know things or to think too hard before he speaks—should have been kind of a warning sign to conservatives that they had a potential embarrassment on their hands. But then, this is the same crowd that not only nominated Sarah Palin, but actually loved her for saying stuff that amounts to “I’m a foreign policy expert because you can see Russian wastelands from the far reaches of my state.” Clearly, the general weight of the conservative movement is not exactly sharp as tacks. Or, to be more fair, they are far more about message than they are about fact or reason.

Nevertheless, you would think that there might have been something of a reassessment in conservative circles when a Bundy supporter revealed that they planned to put women at the forefront of their group as they drew fire from federal forces so that the nation would see women shot to death on national TV, and that would be swell for cattle grazing.

But no, conservatives still figured that this was a good movement to latch onto. After Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, and Joe the Plumber, people like Rand Paul figured that they’d found someone who would help their cause just as much. And they were right.

So, are you ready to hear what their new hero wants to say?

I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,“ he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, ”and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?

They never learned to pick cotton, and perhaps would be better off as slaves.

Now, I am aware that he was not actually suggesting that these people be sold back into slavery (at least I think he was not trying to say that), but instead was criticizing government subsidy. However, his wording could hardly have been less, shall we say, eloquent. When using the word ”Negro“ is the least offensive thing you said, you know that you’ve just made a fairly significant gaffe.

I mean, he’s making about a half dozen incredibly offensive innuendoes in rapid-fire succession. There were lots of kids, despite the fact that they get so many abortions—because these people just do nothing but have wantonly irresponsible sex all day long, don’t they? And their old people and kids can be seen lounging around; shouldn’t they all be working or something? Especially the ”young girls“—good lord, I do not even want to speculate as to what he meant by that. Although perhaps he meant that the young girls should be lined up to be shot by armed federal agents or something. You know, because it’s a great visual.

Pile that on top of the irony that his entire cause is about demanding as his natural entitlement an far greater subsidy than any of these people he imagines are living the easy life… well, it’s all pretty breathtaking.

Sarah Palin, stand aside… allow a master to show you how it’s done. Er, not that I mean anything by ”master.“

Rand Paul was quick to disown Bundy. Rick Perry is now calling Bundy a ”side story“ and the real issue is land management. And for some unknown reason, Fox News seems to have suddenly gone silent about the scrappy rancher. Cannot for the life of me imagine why that could be.

As the conservatives who for days gleefully made Bundy their poster boy now scramble for cover, you have to wonder how long it will be before they again forget to think carefully about who they choose to hold up as a hero for their cause. Because it will happen again. It’s not like Bundy was all that hard to see coming. And they still like Sarah Palin.

How Could That Have Happened?

April 20th, 2014 Comments off

Tim Huelskamp, a Republican congressman from Kansas, is claiming that the number of uninsured people in his state has risen since Obamacare.

Among the problems: first, there is no data to support his claim.

Second: even if there were, Republicans in Kansas aggressively campaigned against Obamacare, warned people in their state not to join, rejected the act’s Medicaid expansion, and refused to set up a state-based exchange to help its citizens get insurance.

So for a Republican now to be blaming Obamacare for a likely fictional drop in the rate of insured people in his state is, well, priceless.

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The Republican Mindset

April 20th, 2014 1 comment

This article crystallizes the mindset of the Republican party extremely well.

Common Core is a set of K-12 educational standards that would delineate what any student should know at the end of a grade level in English and Math. It was created by the National Governor’s Association as a state-driven initiative. It had bipartisan backing and strong Republican support. Only a few crazies on the wingnut fringe opposed it.

Then Obama got behind it too, offering a few incentives for states to adopt it.

Suddenly, conservatives have abandoned it en masse and now call it “Obamacore,” saying it is a vile overreach by the federal government to warp the minds of youngsters.

Like Obamacare itself, and so many other ideas that actually were conservative to begin with and had major right-wing support, all it takes is for Obama to voice support for it, and suddenly the bulk of the Republican Party and conservatives everywhere make a 180-degree turn and call it treachery.

The Republican revolt against the Common Core can be traced to President Obama’s embrace of it, particularly his linking the adoption of similar standards to states’ eligibility for federal education grants and to waivers from No Child Left Behind, the national education law enacted by President George W. Bush.

The comparison to Obamacare is not coincidental; now that the ACA has flopped as a political war cry, conservatives appear to be desperate for anything they can grab ahold of to win elections with, and if that means sabotaging what they believed was an important improvement to children’s education, well, so be it.

A few Republicans stand in defense of the program, but are kind of being drowned out by the rush of Republicans turning tail.

Jeb Bush said the pivot seemed more like pandering. In remarks this month during an event at his father’s presidential library, he affirmed his support for the Common Core. “I guess I’ve been out of office for a while, so the idea that something that I support — because people are opposed to it means that I have to stop supporting it if there’s not any reason based on fact to do that?” he said. “I just don’t feel compelled to run for cover when I think this is the right thing to do for our country.”

With a knowing grin, he added, “Others that supported the standards all the sudden now are opposed to it.”

Some other former Republican governors who pushed the adoption of the Common Core agree with Mr. Bush. “There is a great deal of paranoia in the country today,” said Sonny Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, who was also instrumental in creating the program. “It’s the two P’s, polarization and paranoia.”

“Polarization and paranoia,” well-put. But there’s one more P: Politics.

Supporters of the Common Core, which outlines skills that students in each grade should master but leaves actual decisions about curriculum to states and districts, say that it was not created by the federal government and that it was up to the states to decide whether to adopt the standards.

But opponents say Mr. Obama’s attempt to reward states that adopt the standards with grants and waivers amounts to a backdoor grab for federal control over what is taught in schools.

The only meager silver lining I see in this is the generation of idiotic utterances to support a completely hypocritical and empty opposition to something purely on political grounds. Cue Ted Cruz:

“Standards inevitably influence the curricula being taught to meet those standards,” Mr. Cruz said.

Ya think? Never mind that educational standards were a big Republican idea until just recently.

Or, if you recall, this dilly from a Republican candidate for governor of Arizona:

Melvin’s comments led Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, to ask him whether he’s actually read the Common Core standards, which have been adopted by 45 states.

“I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded.

Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

Stay classy, Republicans.

Wrong on All Levels

March 13th, 2014 3 comments

About a week ago Paul Ryan made a speech at CPAC. He made the conservative case against school lunches, using the familiar theme that government assistance to those in need is an evil that is ruining America:

The left is making a big mistake here. What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. The American people want more than that. This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson. She serves in the cabinet of my buddy, Governor Scott Walker. She once met a young boy from a very poor family, and every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. He told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.

Ryan’s point is that the little boy was being cut off from his family by a state that was trying to make itself his ward. This is the same point being made to cut off most all support for the poor and needy, from Medicaid to assistance for military families. For example, conservatives bashed Obama for abusing the troops because he made sure that they had medical, education, and other financial aids: in effect, making them “victims dependent on social-welfare and medical services offered by the Democratic coalition.” Americans in need, according to conservatives, are trying valiantly to stand on their own two feet, and liberals are callously making them into dependent parasites of the state, addicted to federal funds—money, of course, which is hard-earned by patriotic conservative folk who don’t want their fairly-won cash doled out to indigent freeloaders.

The conservative point, however, is just as flawed as Ryan’s poignant rhetoric. As it turns out, the story is untrue. Not that Ryan didn’t hear that story, but the story he was told was false: Anderson never spoke to such a boy. Instead, it appears to have come from a book, An Invisible Thread, a non-fiction account of a sales executive and her relationship with an 11-year-old panhandler. In that book, the executive offers the boy money, or to make lunches for him, so he’ll have food to eat. The boy, far from simply being from a poor family as Anderson and Ryan told it, was on the street instead because his mother was in prison. Which is likely why he asked for the brown-paper-bag lunches, so he could appear to be a boy who had a loving mother at home instead of presenting the painful reality to his schoolmates.

So on that level, Ryan’s touching homily kind of backfires: the boy he was in fact referring to was not even getting school lunches, nor were the handouts he was getting somehow estranging him from a loving family.

However, let’s just ignore the factual faux pas and assume that the story were true. What would that mean? Would Ryan have had a point? After all, we often do look back on those brown paper bag lunches with nostalgia; I got them as well (PBJ or tuna salad sandwiches), and certainly enjoyed them.

Now, think about how, as an 11-year-old, you would have felt if all of a sudden your mother stopped making those lunches and instead you got school lunches. That never happened to me, at least not that I recall. However, considering honestly what I would have thought, I can confidently say that my reaction would have been rather simple: will I like these new lunches? Although I’d like to say that I would have thought considerately that school lunches would have saved my mother some work and my family the expense, I probably would not have thought beyond how it would have affected me.

But the last thing I would have thought was that it somehow would mean my mother cared about me less. Had someone suggested that to the 11-year-old me, I probably would have thought them both idiotic and insulting.

Certainly, no kid at school would have looked at any other kid and said, “Hah! Your mother doesn’t care for you!” for the simple reason that every kid would be getting the same lunch.

In fact, if a kid were to react to school lunches like Ryan claimed, I would be deeply concerned—not that school lunches were cutting his family ties, but rather because if this kid’s sense of familial love could be completely severed by the loss of a bagged lunch, this kid was probably receiving little or no love at all from his parents at home.

Think about it. The reason I would not have minded losing the bag lunch would have nothing to do with wanting to feel loved, because I got plenty of affection in other ways from my parents. Any kid who suddenly feels unloved because his mother no longer makes bag lunches either has a massive insecurity complex, or, more likely, just isn’t getting the attention he needs at home—in which case, school lunches have nothing to do with the problem.

In fact, if Ryan had any sense whatsoever about poor families, he would realize that a child from a truly poor family would be acutely aware of the shortage of money in his home, would see his parents working incredibly hard, and so would probably have three predictable reactions to free school lunches: (1) my family can’t afford much so this will help us out, (2) my mother works so hard, I’m glad this will give her less work to do, and (3) will I like these new lunches?

In fact, maybe the school lunches would mean that the kid gets a better home-cooked meal in the evening, and a little more attention from mom in the morning.

But hey, I’m of the left, so obviously I don’t understand such things nearly as much as Randian conservatives do.

Categories: Republican Stupidity Tags:

Fox News Reports That Arizona Law Is an Attack on Homosexuality, and That God Is Dead

February 27th, 2014 2 comments

Foxhl-2Fox News has reported that a Mississippi woman tried to get Bible scriptures copied at Walgreens, but the clerk at the shop refused to do so on copyright grounds, in an act which is characterized as an “attack on Christianity.” In doing so, Fox is clearly suggesting that denying service to a class of people is equivalent to an attack on those people; thus, the proposed laws in Arizona and Ohio to refuse service to gay people is, by inference, an “attack on homosexuality.”

Furthermore, Fox appears to dismiss the copyright claims baed on the statement that “Copyright law typically covers books for the life of the author, plus 50 years,” clearly indicating that Fox News believes that God is dead, and has been for at least half a century.

Fox News has so far not commented on its new atheist, pro-gay policy.


Seriously, though, this article is a bonanza of bias. First of all, what the hell is a major “news” outlet reporting on a woman having difficulties with the copy clerk at her local Walgreens? Is it that slow a news day? This reads more like an article from The Onion.

Second, the clerk actually had a valid point: it was not just Bible scriptures, there was artwork involved, and the clerk had no way of knowing if those images were copyrighted or not.

Third, the issue has already been resolved, with Walgreens simply asking the woman to sign a waiver to take care of any potential copyright issues.

Fourth, this has nothing whatsoever to do with religion, unless someone has evidence that the clerk was acting on grounds aside from the purely reasonable legal grounds claimed; none whotsoever is presented.

And lastly, acting like any of this is somehow an “attack” on anything is hysteric hyperbole.

In short, this can be safely classified as “Wednesday at Fox News.”

Are You Kidding Me?

February 24th, 2014 1 comment

A few months ago, I noted that liberals generally check to see if the latest news story about Republicans is actually satire, while conservatives tend not to check if the latest satire about Obama and Democrats is really news.

This effect hit me today, hard, when I saw an article out of Arizona which I decided had to be satire. No way these guys could be so stupid.

Then I checked the site: The Arizona Daily Star. Checked out the front page (there was no “about” page), then looked at some articles. Looked completely legit. So, maybe this one piece is in the “Entertainment” section? Nope; “Education” under “Local News .”

I still couldn’t believe it. I mean, I have seen some really stupid stuff in American politics, but this takes my breath away. It begins startlingly enough:

Ignoring pleas from business leaders, the Senate Education Committee voted 6-3 along party lines Thursday to bar Arizona from implementing the Common Core standards the state adopted four years ago.

What is “Common Core”? It’s an educational standard set by states to establish common expectations for English Language and Mathematics teaching in K-12. Only Virginia, Texas, and Alaska are not members, and only Nebraska has not adopted the standards yet.

Arizona had adopted the standards, but now it looks like they might reject it.

Why? Well, here’s the good part:

“It got hijacked by Washington, by the federal government,” said Melvin, a candidate for governor, and “as a conservative Reagan Republican I’m suspect about the U.S. Department of Education in general, but also any standards that are coming out of that department.”

Melvin’s comments led Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, to ask him whether he’s actually read the Common Core standards, which have been adopted by 45 states.

“I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded.

Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

Fuzzy math. Substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

Are. You. Fracking. Kidding. Me.

Okay, maybe this is just some imbecile speaking impromptu and said something completely idiotic by mistake. But even looked at that way, this still pushes the boundaries of “stupid” to pretty cutting-edge extremes. Variables in algebra as a reason for wanting to reject math standards. Wow.

Another aspect to the explanation is that this guy most likely had very little understanding of even his own objections, and was just following a political campaign led by conservatives—another in a long line of attempts to make the Obama administration look evil in some way. The “pornographic” references are the real meat of the issue, as two titles in the list of suggested reading exemplars include Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Cristina Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban; the first is a story which involves a girl who is sexually abused as a young teen, and the second has a brief but fairly explicit description of sexual acts carried out by an adult couple.

The readings are not required—only suggested as examples (ergo, the term “exemplar”) for readings by students in the 11th grade and higher—but have served as fuel for the conservative base to erupt in massive outrage at how Obama is pushing porn on children.

Melvin’s comments spring from that movement—garbage in, garbage out, I suppose would be one way of seeing it.

Categories: Republican Stupidity Tags:

Still Not Getting It

February 21st, 2014 5 comments

“Joe the Plumber” recently blogged about something I find rather amusing: the Tea Party dislike of the term “teabagger”:

I had three days of orientation, and now I’m “on the job” over here at Chrysler and on Day 4, I’m outside on a break smoking a cigarette and right on cue – some guy calls me a “teabagger.”

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Democrats and liberals, who are supposed to so tolerant and enlightened regarding homosexuals have for three or four years now, have been using a gay slur to describe people who they think are associated with the Tea Party. “Tea Bagger” has traditionally been a derogatory slur used to intimidate, put down, humiliate and otherwise taunt, smear, bully or just discriminate against gays – usually gay men – based on a sex act that gay men apparently made popular.

Decorum prevents me from describing it – they got this thing called “Google” now for that – but suffice it to say that the double-standard for what Democrats can say and what conservatives can say continues unabated, but still I thought to myself, did this guy think I’m gay, or was he making a statement of my political affiliation? I tried talking to him, but he went off about how he was a “journeyman” and started walking away.

Umm… wow. Really?

First of all, let’s not forget that the use of the term “teabagger” in politics was initiated by the Tea Party people themselves. This was not a term that liberals made up. It was made up by the people who now act all offended when anyone else uses it. The initial Tea Party activists gave the name to themselves, using the name on innumerable signs and in many self-descriptions.

Liberals then started pointing out the inanity of the name while no one in the Tea Party seemed to realize what the name meant. In fact, what surprised me was the fact that Tea Partiers continued using the name for themselves months after the cat was out of the bag! (Timeline of the term’s use can be found here.)

Theoriginoftheteabag Screen-Shot-Teabagger-Calls-Self Tea Bagger Teabagging-For-Jesus

Teabag13 Teabag1-300X300

Eventually, however, they caught on, and did what conservatives usually do in a situation in which they’ve embarrassed themselves: they rewrote history and blamed liberals. Remember back before 2006 when Democrats in Congress occasionally used the filibuster when Bush would nominate a particularly extremist judge to a high court? Republicans were so pissed that Democrats used the filibuster, they threatened to do away with it, calling their plan the “nuclear option.” Later, when they realized that that particular term had a negative ring to it, they quickly changed course, using the rather odd-sounding term “constitutional option,” and suddenly claimed that Democrats made up the “nuclear” term. Same thing.

And this is what Joe is riffing on: the revisionist claim that liberals made up the term “teabagger.”

Now, one thing that is undeniable is that liberals—having been so amused that right-wing extremists cluelessly called themselves “teabaggers,” and the same right-wingers continued to call themselves “teabaggers” for quite some time after it was more commonly understood what the term meant—quite cheerfully continued to use the term after the last extremists finally got the hint and realized it was not the best choice of names ever made.

This is when conservatives, who have long made a huge point about despising “political correctness” and insisting that they should of course be able to use terms about people that those people no longer favor, made a complete reversal and suddenly, without any apparent awareness of the biting irony, cried foul and lambasted liberals for using the term.
Rats-Sub
Here’s what gets me: these self-same conservatives—who don’t even like to hear people call them “right wingers,” for crying out loud, because that’s just offensive—these same people continue to use all manner of epithets about liberals. Remember, these are the same people who tried to make the word “liberal” itself into an epithet! Conservatives now consistently misuse the noun “Democrat” in the adjectival form (as in “the Democrat Party” as opposed to the correct form, the “Democratic Party”), from the lowest blogger to former President Bush, and everyone in between—a practice that began soon after a 2000 GOP attack ad flashed the word “DEMOCRATS” on the screen, freezing for a moment on the last three letters, “RATS,” which they all found just hilarious.

So, a movement which delights in creating and then universally using pejoratives against their political opponents gets all out of sorts when their opposition uses a term these very conservatives created for themselves? It’s hard to miss the irony—unless, that is, you go to great lengths to pretend things never happened that way.

But that’s only the beginning of Joe’s bizarre point-making. To recount:

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Democrats and liberals, who are supposed to so tolerant and enlightened regarding homosexuals have for three or four years now, have been using a gay slur to describe people who they think are associated with the Tea Party. “Tea Bagger” has traditionally been a derogatory slur used to intimidate, put down, humiliate and otherwise taunt, smear, bully or just discriminate against gays – usually gay men – based on a sex act that gay men apparently made popular.

A gay slur? Really? When exactly was this the case? Teabagging is not even an innately gay practice. Probably no one knows when the act began (probably in prehistoric times) or who first used that particular term (it is first popularly noted in the John Waters movie Pecker), but the sexual act is something that is just as heterosexual as it is homosexual. No one orientation “owns” it, any more than anyone “owns” the blow job.

Nor was it ever used as a slur against gay people; this was a complete fabrication made up by Fox News (which itself used the term “teabagger” at the beginning, then quickly got offended by it) when Obama used the term, and they wanted to smear him for using “sexual innuendo.”

Now, maybe I am just not very worldly. Maybe the term was indeed used at some point to insult gays. But you know, I really doubt it. It doesn’t even make sense: a man who teabags could be gay or straight; only if the recipient were male would it be a homosexual act. But a “teabagger” would not automatically be gay. It would be like trying to insinuate that a man is gay by saying, “I bet you got a blow job last night!” It would kind of fall flat.

But then, logic and reason have not exactly been any more a conservative trademark than have facts themselves.

Categories: Republican Stupidity Tags:

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

December 20th, 2013 12 comments

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty voiced his personal opinion about homosexuality:

Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.

Robertson was “indefinitely suspended” by A&E over his remarks. Sarah Palin, who I usually ignore because of the Ann Coulter Rule, made a public statement on Facebook which is noteworthy because it is a conservative meme far overused:

“Free speech is an endangered species,” Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook on Wednesday night. “Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.”

That’s the conceit: when a person speaks out and is criticized or punished in some way, their “free speech” rights are being violated.

And that’s the problem: free speech is about saying whatever you want (so long as it does not harm or endanger others) without fear of punishment by the government. The actual text in the First Amendment is “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” First Amendment freedom of speech says nothing about how others in society are suppose to lay off you no matter what you say.

Nor is this view by Palin and other conservatives based upon a principle. Imagine, for example, if someone on a popular TV show said hateful things about Christianity, maybe that it is a genocidal cult subscribed to by idiots and liars, which promotes the abuse of children and the killing of women. Do you think that this person would not be similarly treated? Would Palin be as ardent about protecting their right to say that and upset if they lost their job? Hell, no—she and other conservatives would be the ones calling for them to get the exact treatment that Robertson got.

For example, Palin called on MSNBC to fire Martin Bashir for calling her a “world class idiot” for her comparison of the national debt and slavery, and because he suggested, after noting a particularly cruel punishment meted out to a slave, that Palin was an “outstanding candidate” for such punishment for making the remarks she did.

Palin also called for Obama to fire Rahm Emanuel for using the word “retarded” as an epithet.

The term to describe this is “hypocrisy.”

But let’s just see if we can get one thing straight: getting criticism and losing a high-profile job in the media as a result of hateful remarks is not in any way a violation of anyone’s free speech.

The Annals of Selective Quoting

March 29th, 2013 3 comments

Republicans love to characterize Democrats as “Tax and Spenders.” They love to paint themselves as frugal. The problem is, they spend just as much as the Democrats, only with an emphasis on different things—and since they despise taxes, that makes them the party of “Tax and Borrow,” the party of “Tax and Debt.” Republicans are the chief architects of this nation’s debt; there is no question at all of that. And yet, fantastically, they try to blame it all on the Democrats.

Currently, Republicans are fighting a daily battle to blame Obama for all the debt, as if Republicans had not been handed a surplus by a Democrat, as if they had not obliterated that surplus in the name of tax cuts for the wealthy and massively costly wars and porkbarrel spending, as if they had not characterized the paying off of debts as a hideous injustice against taxpayers, as if $10 trillion in debt did not exist before Obama was elected, as if that debt was not chiefly created by Republicans, as if Obama had not been handed stupendous debts in a tail-spinning economy, and as if Obama had not been successful at lowering those deficits despite Republicans’ best efforts to make Obama fail.

In the latest round, John Boehner sent a memo to House Republicans, in which he cited Lincoln—a favorite pastime for conservatives vainly desperate to score on Lincoln’s gravitas. Boehner wrote,

The book Congressman Lincoln by Chris DeRose, which I recently read, includes a chapter focused on Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to help craft a new national agenda. At one point in the book, young Lincoln warns that government debt is “growing with a rapidity fearful to contemplate.”

“[Government debt] is a system not only ruinous while it lasts, but one that must soon fail and leave us destitute,” Lincoln warns his countrymen in Congressman Lincoln. “An individual who undertakes to live by borrowing, soon finds his original means devoured by interest, and next no one left to borrow from –- so must it be with a government.”

Well, it turns out that if you go to the source material for that quote, a campaign circular for the people of Illinois from March 4, 1843, you find that the quote is indeed authentic, and indeed Lincoln laments debt.

But here’s the thing: the very next words after that quote are,

We repeat, then, that a tariff sufficient for revenue, or a direct tax, must soon be resorted to; and, indeed, we believe this alternative is now denied by no one.

In other words, the very next words in Lincoln’s missive are a conclusion that revenues be raised—the precise solution Boehner and House Republicans have been fighting relentlessly to defeat! Not only that, but Boehner even quotes around Lincoln’s argument for taxation; Boehner cherry-picks the part about debt “growing with a rapidity fearful to contemplate,” but conveniently leaves out the very next sentence; the whole quote is,

By this means a new National debt, has been created, and is still growing on us with a rapidity fearful to contemplate—a rapidity only reasonably to be expected in time of war. This state of things has been produced by a prevailing unwillingness, either to increase the tariff, or resort to direct taxation.

Not just that, but Lincoln himself advocates tariffs over direct taxation not because he dislikes taxes, but because tariffs target the rich:

In short, by this system, the burthen of revenue falls almost entirely on the wealthy and luxurious few, while the substantial and laboring many who live at home, and upon home products, go entirely free.

But wait, it gets even better. Lincoln, as it turns out, was on Obama’s side, as pointed out by Greg Sargent:

Lincoln was also a firm believer in spending public money on infrastructure and boosting the economy.

As an Illinois state legislator, Lincoln was a leading proponent of using the proceeds from sales of public lands to pay for the digging of canals and building of railroads. As a member of Congress, Lincoln defended the idea of federal subsidies for internal improvements. Indeed, Lincoln was an ardent believer in Henry Clay’s “American System,” which was heavily predicated on government sponsored internal improvements and was one of the most significant instances of government intervention in the economy in the country’s history.

“Lincoln was a tremendous advocate of government spending on infrastructure and economic development,” leading Lincoln historian Eric Foner told me. “As president Lincoln presided over a tremendous increase in government spending, not just because of the war but also on the Homestead land grant system and aid to construction of the transcontinental railroad.”

Huh. How about that. Lincoln wanted to raise revenues on the backs of the wealthy and use the money to pay off debts and invest in infrastructure improvements.

Well, Boehner? Any comments about how Abraham Lincoln was a Commie Socialist Fascist?

Unfortunately, the fact that a Republican, whose party has left us in financial ruin, attempts to heap blame on another man after repeatedly sabotaging that man’s efforts to alleviate that ruin, should selectively quote Lincoln in an effort to defeat Lincoln’s principles… well, let’s just call it “par for the course.”

Republicans, as if it is not obvious, and as if I have not said this repeatedly, are the most egregiously asinine lying hypocritical dirtbags you can imagine.

Stop Lying

February 18th, 2013 8 comments

On Bill Maher this weekend, Jamie Weinstein of the Daily Caller made the outright claim that raising the minimum wage would increase unemployment.

As you can see, the others recognize this as outright absurdity, but Weinstein maintains his assertion—despite the fact that it has been thoroughly disproven as a concept. Higher minimum wages pump money right back into an economy; the money does not disappear, it goes out and comes right back in.

Unlike giving more money to rich people—which conservatives claim is a job-creating act. Precisely the opposite also of what is true.

Tax cuts for the rich are the least stimulative thing you can do.

In contrast, food stamps—another thing conservatives hate (because feeding poor people is so Communist)—is one of the most economically stimulative things you can do.

It’s as if conservatives set out to find all the things that help the economy most and destroy them, and then find the things that are worst for the economy and embrace them.

Of course, it was deliberate, but not for those reasons. Instead, it is simply, purely self-interest at work. Greed. Screw the nation, screw the people. I’m getting mine, and you can go to hell.

Or, in other words, American Exceptionalism!

Categories: Republican Stupidity Tags:

Descent into Absurdity

January 27th, 2013 3 comments

Wow. After Republicans use every dirty word in the book against Democrats, and attempt to vilify every word in liberalism that’s not dirty, they get all offended at Obama for name-calling.

What unspeakable name did Obama call them?

“Right-wing.”

Yes, the party of “political correctness is fascism” is now seriously offended at being called “right-wing.” Which means that Fox News and the vast majority of those in the conservative media must have Tourette’s Syndrome.

And no, I am not making any of this up. This comes directly from David Avella, President of GOPAC. He appeared on Bill Maher and acted like the president was being so unreasonable and insulting. His words:

AVELLA: The president also talked about not making absolutism for principle, substitute spectacle for politics, and treat name-calling as reasoned debate. This is a week before he sit and name-called and made critical of Republicans in his last press conference! So which Barack Obama are we going to get?

MAHER: What did he call them? What name did he call them?

AVELLA: Oh, he talked about “right-wing Republicans,”…

MAHER: That’s a name-call? “Right wing”?

AVELLA: Sure.

MAHER: “Right wing” is a name-calling now?

AVELLA: It is a name-calling.

Words fail me.

Oh Really.

January 24th, 2013 3 comments

I’ve mentioned before about conservative projection, whereupon right-wingers will have a certain quality or perform a certain act to an extreme, and then accuse their opponents of exactly that.

John Boehner:

And given what we heard yesterday about the president’s vision for his second term, it’s pretty clear to me that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans. So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal – to just shove us into the dustbin of history. I’ve been in these spots before. I remember November of ’06, January of ’07 — we’ve been through these periods before. And you know, our members get down, our supporters get down.

Republicans have savaged liberals over the years.

They have viciously attacked the Democratic support bases. If you are a social or political group which provides any substantial backing for the Democratic Party, the GOP will demonize your reputation and work night and day to destroy you as a group. Unions have been brutally decimated by conservatives. Teachers have been made into pariahs. Groups like ACORN, which tried to raise voter registration in poorer communities, was literally obliterated. The list goes on. If you are a significant supporter of Democrats, you go on the hit list, and it is not a metaphorical one: the Republicans will destroy you.

Conservatives have vilified Democratic causes. Reproductive rights was transformed into near-demonic support for murdering babies in the form of the “partial-birth abortion.” Equal rights for non-white male groups were depicted as “special privileges.” Secularism and fairness in religious belief was drawn as a “war on Christianity.” Racism was said to not even exist in our “color-blind” society, where the real evil was Affirmative Action, which somehow made life hell for poor white males. Minorities were told that not only should they not complain about racism, but that they should feel devalued and ashamed if there was even the slightest chance that they received favor through some form of Affirmative Action at any point in their lives.

Republicans have pulled every trick in the book to destroy Democratic voting rights and efforts. While they make completely baseless accusations of Democratic fraud after their own thorough investigations revealed nothing, they attempt to bring back Jim Crow laws even more destructive than ever to block Democratic voting. They resort to all manner of fraud, from voter caging to bogus felons lists. They attack Democratic voter registration organizations and shut them down. They gerrymander the crap out of states, even outside of census cycles, and are now set upon ramming through electoral vote distribution based on gerrymandered districts so that a Democratic candidate for president could win a state like Pennsylvania by 10% of the vote but get only 5 of 16 electoral votes for that state, and would still lose the national election even if they won the popular vote by 10 million ballots.

Politically, they leave only scorched earth. They now besmirch any form of compromise. Complete and utter obstruction is their policy when out of power, and ramming everything through wile leaving the other party in the dark is their policy when in power. If even their own policies become adopted by the other side, they suddenly turn and call them vile.

For Christ’s sake, conservatives have even done their best to make Democratic names into slurs. The campaign to smear the word “liberal” worked so well that many liberals now avoid the word and use “progressive” instead. To this day, conservatives refuse to utter the modifier “Democratic” and instead childishly say things like “the Democrat Party,” in an attempt to disassociate the party from its core values, while pushing the “DemocRAT” slur they so smugly adore.

All of this while their extremist PR arm, Fox News, works 24/7 to ludicrously defame and condemn anything Democratic or liberal, aided by bastions of “news” outfits, think tanks, bloggers, and action groups.


After all of that, Boehner says that Obama is out to annihilate the Republican Party… why? Because Obama outlined a strong agenda in his second inaugural speech?

That doesn’t just break irony. It vaporizes it. It reaches back into time and makes sure that irony died as an infant. It is so far beyond irony that it would take the light from irony two billion years to reach it.

And yet: conservatives will take this statement seriously.

The Republican Party is dying not because the president wants to get rid of them—something which, sadly, he has more or less done the opposite of—the GOP is dying because it is becoming so extreme that it is making extremists shake their heads in dismay. It is dying because their supporters are dying while the groups they vilify are growing.

SecState

December 22nd, 2012 4 comments

Shame on Obama for giving Republicans exactly what they want with Kerry as the new Secretary of State.

Far more shame for “America First” Republicans for engineering Kerry’s placement only so they can get a chance at a Senate seat.

I could forgive Obama if, as is likely, he actually believes that Kerry is the best person for the job—something that seems likely considering that he’ll be giving up something rather significant to get Kerry.

Republicans, however, are a completely different story. They are not trying to get the best person appointed. They are not trying to get someone more conservative nominated. They are doing all of this—to an extent, probably also fiercely opposing Chuck Hagel for Defense as well—for purely strategic and unprincipled political reasons.

Well, That Didn’t Last Long

November 21st, 2012 1 comment

Dean Chambers, the guy who ran that “UnSkewedPolls.com” web site, was unusually rational for a Republican after the election was over. He admitted that he read the polling data wrong, and congratulated Nate Silver on calling it right. At the time, I ran a blog post noting this unusual case from within the right-wing bubble of a Republican recognizing the obvious.

Well, it didn’t last.

Turns out Chambers was probably just nursing a hangover or something, because he got right back up and started “BarackOFraudo.com” (um, that would be “O’Fraud-A, because his name is Obam-A; at least get your vowels right, dude), a web site dedicated to ”exposing how they stole the 2012 election.“

Out of curiosity, I clicked on the state of Ohio on his map, a map (obviously stolen from RealClear Politics) which claims that Obama won four states—Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida—through vote fraud. Under the title ”Vote Scamming in Cleveland,“ Chambers notes that ”Democrats are known for years for stuffing the ballot boxes in the city of Cleveland“ (They are? Care to cite any actual evidence, like Bush’s comprehensive 5-year investigation that found essentially nothing?), and boldly claims that ”This was true with the state of Ohio in the 2012 presidential election.“ Yes, we know that because of the huge piles of No Evidence.

Then he backs it up with, well, very ambiguous reporting of numbers with no explicit conclusions. He indirectly cites that Obama won by wide margins in Cuyahoga County, ”including 9 voting divisions where Romney received zero votes and many more voting divisions where Romney received fewer than a half percent of the votes.“ He notes the same in Philadelphia.

Huh. Some of the poorer urban areas of Cleveland and Philadelphia had no votes for Romney. Gee whiz, I wonder how on earth that could have possibly happened? Nothing occurs to me. I will have to carefully think about this, because that sounds oddly suspicious. I cannot imagine any scenario of events or, I don’t know, demographics or stuff, that could possibly account for this.

He links to a right-wing web site where they sense the same curious voter fraud, which, like Chambers, they seem to feel is a sure thing because, well, after all, there was a mural of Obama in a voting precinct somewhere. OK, the mural was in Washington D.C., but apparently it caused massive voter fraud across the entire region.

All this even though they link to a Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper article which explains how such vote counts are, in fact, completely possible:

It’s one thing for a Democratic presidential candidate to dominate a Democratic city like Philadelphia, but check out this head-spinning figure: In 59 voting divisions in the city, Mitt Romney received not one vote. Zero. Zilch. …

In a city with 1,687 of the ward subsets known as divisions, each with hundreds of voters, 59 is about 3.5 percent of the total.

In some of those divisions, it’s not only Romney supporters who are missing. Republicans in general are nearly extinct.

Take North Philadelphia’s 28th Ward, third division, bounded by York, 24th, and 28th Streets and Susquehanna Avenue.

About 94 percent of the 633 people who live in that division are black. Seven white residents were counted in the 2010 census.

In the entire 28th Ward, Romney received only 34 votes to Obama’s 5,920.

Although voter registration lists, which often contain outdated information, show 12 Republicans live in the ward’s third division, The Inquirer was unable to find any of them by calling or visiting their homes.

Four of the registered Republicans no longer lived there; four others didn’t answer their doors. City Board of Elections registration data say a registered Republican used to live at 25th and York Streets, but none of the neighbors across the street Friday knew him. Cathy Santos, 56, founder of the National Alliance of Women Veterans, had one theory: ”We ran him out of town!“ she said and laughed.

James Norris, 19, who lives down the street, is listed as a Republican in city data. But he said he’s a Democrat and voted for Obama because he thinks the president will help the middle class.

A few blocks away, Eric Sapp, a 42-year-old chef, looked skeptical when told that city data had him listed as a registered Republican. ”I got to check on that,“ said Sapp, who voted for Obama.

Eighteen Republicans reportedly live in the nearby 15th Division, according to city registration records. The 15th has the distinction of pitching two straight Republican shutouts – zero votes for McCain in 2008, zero for Romney on Tuesday. Oh, and 13 other city divisions did the same thing in 2008 and 2012.

Three of the 15th’s registered Republicans were listed as living in the same apartment, but the tenant there said he had never heard of them. The addresses of several others could not be found.

Some conservatives are noted as claiming voter fraud is behind some of this and cite it as evidence that there should be voter ID laws in place. The Inquirer points out that ”[t]he absence of a voter-ID law, however, would not stop anyone from voting for a Republican candidate.“ Essentially, any fraud would have to include removing any votes for Romney from the ballot boxes, something not claimed and certainly something not supported by evidence. Nor would ”stuffing the ballot boxes“ in districts amounting to a few thousand votes sway things in a state Obama won by hundreds of thousands.

What we have here are small areas of solidly black, Democratic voters voting en masse for Obama. Which, apparently, is enough to trigger claims of ”vote fraud“ by conservatives.

The right-wing web site amusing concluded, in some of the very small, solidly Democratic districts:

…political uniformity may indeed have been achieved.

Yes. Achieved. It’s a nefarious Democratic plan to get all the low-income black people to gather together in small urban districts so that no one in a few blocks’ radius votes Republican.

Yes, that’s the reason things turned out that way. Such an ingenious, insidious plan!

Back to Chamber’s web site, I was amused to find that the pages for Pennsylvania and Florida had the exact same text as the one for Ohio:

Vote Scamming in [state name]

Democrats are known for years for stuffing the ballot boxes in a number of heavily Democrat leaning [area type] in [geographic area name]… This was true with the state of [state name] in the 2012 presidential election.

Essentially, what these people are getting down to is simple: black people voting for Obama in heavily black areas is equivalent to voter fraud. That’s why we need to stop them from voting with Voter ID laws.

Perfectly logical.

Categories: Republican Stupidity Tags:

This Is What Romney Shouldn’t Have Said

September 18th, 2012 6 comments

When Romney thinks you’re not listening—from a video taken in the spring:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them, And they will vote for this president no matter what.

And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49… he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years.

And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to is convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in come cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.
[emphasis Romney's]

Hmmm. So, I’m dependent upon government checks, am I? Apparently, I don’t take personal responsibility, and I don’t care for my life. Et cetera.

What is significant about this… well, there are several ways that this is significant. The most obvious is that Romney is bashing nearly half the electorate. Way to win over people on the other side, calling 47% of the people irresponsible moochers.

Next, there’s the “47%” number. These are the non-taxpayers, he claims. He makes the remarkable claim that every single one of them is an Obama voter, while every single person in the country who pays taxes is a Republican or undecided. Every single one of them have no sense of personal responsibility; instead, they lay back, take it easy, and live the high life off of welfare checks, food stamps, and free government health care.

So, no Republican is too poor to pay income taxes? Or too rich? No Republican receives welfare, Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits? And people who do are irresponsible, incapable of caring for themselves?

His statement pretty damning evidence that Romney, like many right-wingers, truly has a skewed view of reality.

The 47% he speaks of includes 17 million senior citizens on social security. These are people who paid into the system all their lives, and now use tax breaks to bring their effective tax rate to zero. Does Romney think they don’t deserve those tax breaks? Does he want to get rid of those breaks for seniors? Way to win Florida.

Another huge chunk of people he mentions are not poor, but middle class families taking standard deductions and getting breaks for the care and education of their children. Does Romney want to get rid of those tax breaks? Way to win middle class families.

Besides which, of course, is the fact that the entire supposition about the 47% is flawed: nobody pays no taxes, most pay their share in social security and medicare taxes, most have property taxes, most face state & local taxes, and everyone pays sales taxes. Add those up and you may have close to the 13% that Romney himself paid.

As for “people who believe that they are victims,” that’s a label much more appropriate for right-wingers. The whole canard about the 47% who pay no taxes is in itself a badge of right-wing victimhood—those poor people are victimizing the decent, hard-working, real Americans who vote Republican! The white males who believe that they never benefit due to their race or gender and that when they fail it’s due to affirmative action, these are people who believe that they are victims. The right-wing Christians who think they are persecuted because they can’t have prayer in every last nook and cranny of public life and because a few department stores print ads saying “Happy Holidays,” these are the people who believe that they are victims.

And entitled? How many conservatives get Social Security and Medicare, and would be enraged if they lost these benefits? How many depend on unemployment checks when they lose their jobs? Remember the right-wing crowds bused in to break up Democratic town halls, screaming “Keep your government hands off my Medicare”? These are people who want all the benefits, but only for themselves, and the people who are not as well off—most of whom paid in to these systems and are just as deserving of the benefits—should be cut off. “I’ve got mine, you go screw yourself” is their motto. That’s not a sense of “entitlement”?

There’s so much more to say about that statement, I can’t put it all down here. But above are the key points. Romney and so many conservatives really think this way, that they are the only ones who work hard and pay taxes, and are being victimized by every single Obama voter, who are lazy, irresponsible moochers who demand to suck at the government teat as if it were their god-given right.

Not just Obama, but all Democratic contenders should use this from now to election day in their campaign ads. Romney thinks that if you get Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment benefits, then you’re a bum who can’t take care of himself, you think you’re entitled. Tell Romney that he’s not entitled to the White House,, that’s he’s not entitled to give himself yet another whopping tax cut, that he’s not entitled to raise taxes on the poor and middle class.

Is Government Necessary?

August 12th, 2012 13 comments

Part of an analysis of Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That” false controversy:

Jefferson, whom Democrats claim as the progenitor of their party and whom they celebrate with annual “Jefferson-Jackson Dinners,” was perfectly clear. The people of the United States created the government for one purpose only: to secure their rights. That is, the people, their possessions and their God-given rights existed prior to the state, which the people created to serve them.

With his Roanoke speech, Obama turned Jefferson on his head. In Obama’s formulation, government is not a tool for the people’s use, but the very foundation upon which all of American prosperity is built. Government is not dependent upon the people; the people are dependent upon the government.

Aside from the question of whether the author’s interpretations of the founders’ intentions are correct, the real question here is, can we say that Obama’s analysis is true? Do we depend on the government for being who we are?

The answer is easy: of course we do. I am tempted to add the biting comment, “Duh.”

We would be a completely different nation had we followed limited intentions as to the role of government. The fact is, we have grown, evolved, and become much more than was first established or envisioned. Had we not, we would not be the world power we are today, and we would not have the society we have today.

Historical romanticism is good and all, but you cannot base modern governance upon an ideal of returning to the principles of the role of government which may or may not have been an intended ultimate limit back when we were a fledgling agrarian society in a completely different age where human rights were delegated to a privileged few.

We should also not be fooled by the idea that this is about principles. Those espousing severe cutbacks in government programs are not doing so out of love for historical virtue. It is a more visceral reaction based upon avarice and bias. All the good that government does and has done is either dismissed, taken for granted, or subsumed into accomplishments by agents other than government. The cries for cutbacks come primarily from a desire to funnel money to the sector from which the cries originate while cutting as much as possible the burden of those doing the crying.

As a result, we see not so much reason and support as we do rewriting and obfuscation.

The writer of the article does essentially that. He first dismisses Obama’s idea that the middle class owes much of its existence to the the federal government by throwing up the straw man that Obama’s argument rests upon the supposition that the “middle class” at the time of the revolution would have to have been created, or allowed to form, by King George. Then he dismisses the entire argument about infrastructure by bizarrely arguing that this was the people acting, and not the government acting, defining the difference as being that the American people had tight control over how far the government would go in such endeavors. In short, the key to his argument seems to be based upon redefining things so that he’s right.

This has nothing to do with the argument being made publicly today, including the response to Obama’s statement: that government should not be, nor should ever have been as big as it is or as involved in advancing the general welfare of our nation. Building the nation should be up to private enterprise, as should health care, pensions, schools, security, and most everything else. And if you build a business, it’s all you and the government never did anything to help you–instead it only hindered you. Because we all know that government can never actually create any jobs, and when it tries to help, only horrific disaster ensues.

The question, then, goes back to that fundamental idea which the writer proposed, or more specifically, to the idea being forwarded by conservatives today: that the sole purpose of government is “to secure our rights” and anything beyond that is irrelevant to our achievements, or has actually held us back.

To consider this, you have to ask, exactly how does government secure our rights?

In the minimalist sense, government should do nothing more than is absolutely necessary to see that our rights are preserved. This would require a very small government, defending our borders and doing minimal policing inside them. No foreign wars would be prosecuted; no special services or assistance would be rendered to the people; no involvement in the economy would be performed. The government would make sure we’re not molested from without and do the bare minimum to preserve order within, and otherwise try to be as invisible as possible to the people. No huge projects, no safety nets, no redistribution of wealth. No trying to make the people better, just maintain the status quo and leave the rest up to society without the government sticking its nose in. No forced integration, no affirmative action, no government condoning of things like gay marriage.

Think over our history and how this would have affected our development as a country. Would we be who we are today without that?

Hell, no. We’d be a completely different society, and not a better one. We’d still be capitalist, but with income inequality even more severe than it is now. We would have become a plutocracy far beyond what we see today, with a manufacturing economy spreading from the north based on slave wages, and an agrarian economy from the south based on slave labor. Slavery would have lasted far longer, perhaps even into the present, with civil rights probably still only a dream. Public education would have been for-pay and only for those with wealth, as would be any kind of substantial medical care.

Despite being wealth- and production-centered, American industry and business would not have grown as it did. There would have been no government push for infrastructure. The rail system would have been minimal, interstate highways never built. Electrical systems would not have grown beyond sparse usage. Everything that our government has spent a great deal of money on in terms of infrastructure would have only been built as far as it was economically viable for private business–in short, not nearly as comprehensively as we have today. This would have saved money for businesses in the short run, but stunted their growth terribly in the long run. Computer technology was primarily funded by government spending, even as far back as the 19th century; that industry would have been greatly delayed, and infrastructure like the Internet never built. Ironically, it has not been the people bleeding the rich and the businesses for welfare checks, it has been industry calling for taxpayer money to build infrastructure too expensive for them to build themselves.

The author of the article suggests otherwise, and the argument could be made that building a national infrastructure is vital to preserving the rights of the people. (Ironically, these same conservatives are trying to stop infrastructure spending.) The problem with that argument is that if you take the idea of “preserving the rights of the people” as far as doing things like building infrastructure (acting positively to improve the society the people live in) then you essentially have the government we have today–in fact, you actually have a far more socialist government than we have today. How is providing financial security and good health to the populace not preserving their rights while building an infrastructure is? Really what the author is saying is, “We’ll stick to the absolutist principle except for stuff we like.” Sorry, but no–this is a situation where you cannot be “a little bit pregnant.” Either government works to preserve the rights of the people actively, or it doesn’t. Anything else is not principle, but instead is cherry-picking. Either we stick to the barest principles of the founders or we expand beyond it. You can’t establish a principle and then pick and choose when to violate it and still say the principle is sacrosanct to suit your needs. Sticking to the principle would have meant no government building of infrastructure, instead leaving it to private industry. And the fact is, we have decided as a society to act in the people’s interest.

Minimalists would have furthermore only protected imminent threats to our borders, but would not have participated in conflicts overseas. Even the Monroe Doctrine might not have passed. America would not have expanded its influence overseas, and would have sat out the first two world wars, figuring that we were not threatened because it would be too costly for European and Asian powers to bring war to American shores. America would never have become a world leader, and its ability to extend trade beyond its own shores would be in grave doubt.

I could go on, but you get the idea. All of this and far, far more serves as the foundation for the America we all know and want to have. It is all based on a strong central government which has grown well beyond simply minimally maintaining the rights of citizens–something which, when the Constitution was drafted, was limited mostly to wealthy white male land owners in any case.

What the government became, and what conservatives are trying to deconstruct, is a government which acts as an advocate for the people. If industry pollutes, the government stops them from harming the people. If a group is deprived of its rights by a bigoted majority, the government protects the rights of the people, not the ability of the majority to persecute. If the people are forced through desperate poverty to work for ruinous wages in harmful conditions, the government becomes their advocates. But the government does more than just that; it has tried to create a society where, as in a family, no one gets left behind to die in the street. It intervenes so the elderly are not forced to sleep under bridges in winter because some rich bastard stole their pension funds; so the poor are not made to starve in a land of plenty; so people can expect decent medical care without having to pay a king’s ransom because an industry holds their very lives as hostage.

Conservatives hate this. To them, it means that they are paying money for some freeloading bum to live in the lap of luxury with washing machines and big-screen TVs. They see a stark dichotomy with them doing all the work and making all the progress while half the nation sits on their ass without paying a dime in taxes, smoking dope and buying booze with food stamps, acting as parasites on the teat of big government. Reagan’s mythical welfare queen, now on steroids and writ large across an entire class.

Conservatives hate this straw-man moocher. You heard the crowds at the debates, not cheering, but shouting in outraged triumph at the idea of letting a poor schmuck die cold and alone in the streets instead of making them participate in paying for health care that would save the man’s life. You heard the crowds bused in to disrupt town hall meetings: I’ve got my Medicare, don’t you dare tax me to pay for health care for the poor. This is what they mean when they say they want “their country back.” It is what this all really comes down to: not a return to the founders’ glorious principles, but instead, “I want the benefits of government for me, not for those other bums.” Its just like the vote-suppression movements: “this country is for me; I deserve it and you’re a no-good parasite; you can go to hell!” They see others as being selfish when in fact it is them.

Obama was perfectly correct, and those who think government should never have grown beyond its infancy are indulging in a pipe dream. We are, in fact, not just dependent on each other within our own borders, we are dependent upon the world as a whole. Contrary to the fantasy world some libertarians dream of, you cannot have even a fraction of the wealth and prosperity we have enjoyed without also requiring exactly the things that these people wish never existed. Anyone who thinks they built a business and did it “completely” on their own is sadly and selfishly mistaken. Anyone who believes they would be better off without government is a fool.

The fact is, were the “drownable in a bathtub” government to exist, these people would not have a fraction of the things they presume have appeared because of their own individual efforts or the independent might of free markets. They are prosperous and believe they owe no one else for that prosperity.

Reality is very much distant from that presumption.

Petards Indeed

July 27th, 2012 5 comments

There’s one thing I find deliciously ironic about the fact that Romney has royally screwed the pooch and insulted millions of Britons.

He can’t apologize.

Categories: Election 2012, Republican Stupidity Tags: