Monday, November 7, 2011

What the Hell Is Wrong With You Idiots? Didn't You Hear What Herman Cain Said?

Geez. Herman Cain continues to prove just how incredibly un-presidential he is. Rachel Maddow has talked extensively about just how silly a candidate Cain has been from the get-go. Cain is certainly a clown. But he's at the point where poll numbers say he must be taken seriously. And so we do.

But Cain doesn't want to be taken seriously. He wants to talk but he doesn't want to listen. It's rare to see a person so uninterested in actual discourse. Even schmucks like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner pretend that they're answering the question when they're completely avoiding it. (Check out the "Meet the Press" and "Face the Nation" archives for numerous examples of "message control".) Cain just takes complete umbrage that the press would want to talk about anything other than his talking points. And if he's questioned he starts talking like everyone else is 14 and they just can't get it through their thick little skulls that Cain has it. Everything that comes out of his mouth has that "What the hell is wrong with you idiots?" tone to it. (Cain: "The sky is green." Reporter: "Mr. Cain, with all due respect, the sky is not and never has been green." Cain: "What the hell is wrong with you idiots? Didn't you just hear me say the sky is green? No more questions.")

So when the sexual harassment allegations came up (and, like Dahlia Lithwick, I'm willing to consider them allegations until we know more) Cain reacted predictably. "I already told you nothing happened. What the hell is wrong with you idiots?" My favorite part was his campaign manager (you know, the smoking guy) saying that if the allegations have merit the accusers should be willing to face Cain publicly. Of course, they signed non-disclosure agreements, so legally they can't say anything. How convenient.

So today's news is fun. Yet another accuser, and this one is going public. I have no idea whether what this woman is saying is true (although, credibility grows the more instances of something occur, so...) but I found Cain's official statement to be utterly hilarious.

Activist celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred is bringing forth more false accusations against the character of Republican front-runner Herman Cain,” the statement said. “All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false. Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone. Fortunately the American people will not allow Mr. Cain’s bold ’9-9-9 Plan’, clear foreign policy vision and plans for energy independence to be overshadowed by these bogus attacks.”

Where to begin... At the beginning, I reckon. Look at the first three words, referring to the accuser's legal counsel. Activist (bad). Celebrity (really bad). Lawyer (unbelievably bad, unless they're representing a corporation or corporate executive). So right off the bat we can't trust anything that comes out of this person's mouth. Even though Gloria Allred didn't make the statement. Guilt by association.

Next, the statement refers to "Republican front-runner Herman Cain". Ah yes, let's make sure that everyone knows he's the front-runner. This is important how? This is foreshadowing of the blatant campaigning to follow later in the statement. More on that in a bit.

Then we have a categorical statement. “All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false." Wow. So not one of them has even a shred of truth in it? Look, when someone says they are 100% innocent, odds are they are at least 75% guilty. And this doesn't leave them any wiggle room when they are proved even 25% guilty. This is typical Cain though. The truth takes a backseat to the message.

Last comes my favorite part. Now that we know that these ladies are full of it, we can get on to the campaign. And let's start by using that broad brush again by invoking "The American people", whom we know are never ever wrong. Unless they support taxing rich people. They will "not allow" Cain's policy proposals, conveniently mentioned by name in this statement, "to be overshadowed by these bogus attacks."


So in responding to serious allegations of inappropriate behavior, Cain makes a campaign speech. Classy.

This may or may not be the straw that breaks this camel's back. I mean, really, if there are still this many people out there who think this is a serious candidate then we're well beyond screwed already. And folks like that are already disinclined to let a little thing like reality change their minds about anything.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dumb Letters: It's Science If I Say It Is

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

The words "science", "reason" and "facts" apparently don't mean what we think they do.

Here's what some folks at the Creation Museum have to say about science and religion.

"Accepting the Bible as God’s literal truth doesn’t mean that we discount science. It does mean that we interpret scientific evidence from the biblical viewpoint. We evaluate the same evidence as evolutionists, but they interpret it from their viewpoint. Evidence isn’t labeled with dates and facts; we arrive at conclusions about the unobservable past based on our pre-existing beliefs. This exercise also involves reason."

It doesn't mean that you discount science? That's exactly what it means! Oy. If you arrive at conclusions based on your pre-existing beliefs then you, by definition, are anti-science. The letter writer seems to think that science means taking something you believe and making the facts fit it. Their "viewpoint" is no different from those of "evolutionists", even though the creationists are working backwards and the actual scientists are working forwards.

Science requires an open mind. And while this isn't always in complete evidence even in the best of us, a true scientist will throw out everything they think they know if the facts prove them wrong. These people won't. Ugh.

Believe what you want, people. But please don't bother trying to convince us that you're into science. It makes you look even sillier.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Have a Crumb Bean Sandwich

Wow. The list of things you can make money on just got a bit bigger. Apparently you can now be paid for not wearing clothes. I don't mean like being a stripper. I mean like not wearing specific clothes. This not-to-be-named dude from a not-to-be-named "reality" program has been offered money to not wear clothes from a not-to-be-named retailer. It seems their brand is being tarnished a bit, in their not-so-humble opinion.

So I reckon I need to get what amounts to a proposal together. Here's what I have so far. Tell me what you think.

Dear Slabbercrombie & Flinch,

First off, let me say how much I admire your catalogs. I enjoy "shopping" with them in my bathroom. You certainly seem to have developed quite the brand for yourself there. And the peeps out there sure are digging it too.

Although I have never purchased any of your products nor worn them in public, and I am not a public figure nor can reasonably hope to be one in the immediate future, I would like to let you know that I am hereby requesting compensation for preventing such a situation from ever occurring. I prefer to nip things in the bud. You can't unring a bell, as they say.

I would not want to be responsible for the further degradation of the brand that you have so skillfully cultivated. I'm considerably older than your target demographic. I'm balding on top and I'm just a bit paunchy. I also eat quite a bit of garlic, which affects both my breath and my perspiration, which tends to be voluminous when compared to that of the average person. And I have a tendency to declaim quite loudly and repeatedly to whomever is within earshot just where I purchased my daily outfit, which (I must say) does not get changed or washed with any frequency. Let me add here that I live in New York City and ride public transportation, so my audience tends to be large and diverse.

I'm certain that the last thing you want is for millions of New Yorkers to be referring to "that loud, smelly Slabbercrombie & Flinch guy" and have them showing me on the "Today" show. Can you imagine? I could be like the
Naked Cowboy. Tourists would have their picture taken with me. Well, maybe not with me. There is the smell. And the head lice. But near me. With me in the background. Like they do with Mount Rushmore. And your company stock, not to mention your cultural cachet, would take a beating the likes of which hasn't been seen in this country since "The Outlaw Josey Wales".

I'm not a greedy man. I'm only thinking $10-20,000 per week would be sufficient to keep me out of Slabbercrombie & Flinch couture. Just think of the upside. It's a tax write-off, if nothing else.

Please let me know at your earliest convenience when my first check will arrive. And thanks. Slabbercrombie & Flinch!

Your humble servant,

Monday, August 15, 2011

4,823 Iowans Can't Be Wrong, Can They?

So, The Stepford Wife wins the Ames Straw Poll. And now we're supposed to take her seriously. Let's put aside the fact that nobody in this pathetic race to the bottom deserves to be taken seriously. What does this "triumph" really mean?

Well, first let's think about what The Ames Straw Poll is and what it isn't. What is it? Well, according to Wikipedia (I already linked above; sorry, not doing it again):

"The poll takes place among attendees of a fundraising dinner benefiting the Iowa Republican Party. Before the vote, each candidate is given a chance to make a short speech to the attendees.

The poll has been described as a cross between a political convention and a county fair, where Iowa voters have a chance to mingle, eat barbecue and have a little fun. The party divides the venue into sections and auctions each to the candidates, who can then set up booths to present their case to the voters. The larger areas and those closest to the entrance often fetch the highest price. In 2011 bidding started at $15,000 and ranged to as high as $31,000 (bid by Ron Paul).

Non-Republicans are allowed to vote in the Ames Straw Poll. However, all voters must be at least 16 1/2 years of age, be legal residents of the state of Iowa or a student attending an Iowa university/college, and purchase a ticket priced at $30, however some campaigns pay the fee for their supporters."

And what isn't it? A primary or a caucus. That doesn't happen until next year when the vultures will descend anew on Iowa.

So, it's a fundraising event sponsored by a local branch of a national party that charges thirty bucks for the privilege of getting in and eating hot dogs and listening to Mike Huckabee play the bass at a tent bought by one of the candidates that allows people of non-voting age to participate. In a very small state. With a total of just over 16,000 people voting. Which is slightly more than the population of my hometown, which I can guarantee you was never asked its opinion on anything, let alone had said opinion be national news and the cause of a major candidate dropping out of a presidential race.

So out of the 16,000 Iowans (and students who just happen to be there) who paid thirty bucks to go into a tent, about one quarter of them chose The Stepford Wife. That's 4,823 Iowans, some of whom are, again, not of legal voting age. You may have heard that Ron Paul came in a close second. But you probably didn't. It was all Stepford Wife, all the time. And we are supposed to consider this a legitimizing event.

There's a reason that the two candidates who actually have a chance of winning the Republican nomination didn't bother to show up. It's a farce. And they would only cheapen themselves by participating in it. Which is undoubtedly the last positive thing I will say about either of them. Except maybe that they aren't quite as batshit crazy as The Stepford Wife.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Five Other Things to Watch For

The NYT has a little preview of tonight's "debate" in Iowa. They title it "Five Things to Watch for in Iowa Debate". I'm so fed up with these people and their downward spiral into turning the Republican Party into the largest fringe group in the United States. (Yes, this is a contradiction in terms. But this is what it feels like to watch the world around you go insane.)

Here are Five Other Things to Watch For in tonight's debate. And you won't have to look that hard, I promise you.*

1. Crazy

2. Really Crazy

3. Crazy Cleverly Disguised as Sane

4. Crazy Very Thinly Disguised as Sane

5. Absolutely Batshit Fucking Crazy

Oh, and also mean. Really really mean. That's six things, I know. Seven if you count stupid. Enjoy your evening.

* I apologize for the complete lack of insight in this post. Sometimes you just throw your hands up in the air because it does just as much good as arguing sensibly. Although, in my defense, Thing to Watch For #5 in the Times article is basically the same as mine.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dumb Letters: Who's Really in Charge Here

This is hilarious. It's from today's Boston Globe. I don't know if I can even respond to it, it's so wrongheaded in every respect.

I'll quote it in full.

"CALLING THE Tea Party movement “terrorists’’ is grossly misplaced. Indeed, the real domestic terrorism going on in our country is our socialist government’s confiscatory taxation, public education indoctrination, and economy-crushing regulations, and the extreme environmental movement raising the cost of living.

The spontaneous Tea Party movement is a reaction to the way many American voters feel about big, intrusive, out-of-control government. Demonizing the movement will only make it grow to be heard loud and clear in the 2012 elections and beyond, until the people and the states take America back.

A push from two-thirds of the states for a constitutional convention to propose amendments is long overdue. A balanced budget amendment with teeth should be first on the agenda."

Oh my god. Does this person actually believe that our government is socialist? We have the least socialistic government in the free world. By far.

And is there really an "extreme environmental movement"? And what would be their goals? Really really clean air? Incredibly pure water? Oh no! How nefarious! And we all know how powerful they are. (Check out the pictures in those links and ask yourself how much "economy-crushing" regulations we think we need. I'm thinking more than we have.)

And does he really believe that the Tea Party "movement" was spontaneous, and not created by Dick Armey in order to capitalize on racism and grievance? Everyone all just had the same idea at the same time? Okay, if you say so. Everybody likes to think that they're "grass roots".

And what exactly are we taking America back from? The corporations that dominate it? The Tea Party is doing nothing if not ensuring further and greater domination by an economic elite, all in the name of populism. The irony would be rip-snortingly funny if it weren't doing such incredible damage to our nation. These people have no idea how much they're helping to perpetuate the status quo.

The sad truth is that the country has not changed much since Barack Obama took office. At least not in how it's governed and in who really controls things. The only difference is in perception, which has been mercilessly fueled by the right-wing media.

I'd love to take America back too. From ignorance.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dumb Letters: Privatize Yourself

This is a whopper from some knucklehead from the Cascade Policy Institute. (I'm not linking to them. You can Google them if you want. Basically they worship at the altar of Milton Friedman.)

The issue seems to be that U.S. National Parks aren't serving their "customers" the way some people think they should be. The letter writer seems to think that the issue is the "bureaucratic mentality" at the Parks Service. I always love this idea. Free-market ideologues always love to complain about "bureaucracy" in government, as if there were absolutely no bureaucracies in corporations.

"Instead of remaining a lumbering Leviathan, the Park Service should embrace market principles and privatize the parks. ... Since these privately managed parks wouldn’t have the luxury of using other people’s money, they would need to accommodate consumer demand. The solution? Privatize them, of course."

Of course. Consumer demand? Really? I thought that the Parks Service was about keeping lands pure so they wouldn't be overrun by sprawl, industry and advertising. Privatizing them would lead to exactly the kind of "progress" that the National Parks were supposed to forestall.

Of course, if they were using private money, those people supplying the money would naturally be expecting a return on their investment. And how would they be getting that? Trees don't generate a lot of revenue, unless you're cutting them down. I'm thinking it would be along the lines of turning all of our parks into Disney World, with fee-based attractions and miles and miles of advertising. A significant improvement over all of those boring trees, I'm sure.

"In addition, since these lands would be managed by environmentalists in the private sector, there would be little risk of regulatory capture by special interests, which was all too common in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations."

What environmentalists in the private sector? I also love how "special interests" means people looking out for the public welfare and not, oh, the oil industry, which looks out for the profits of a very few people.

The comments section shows a wealth of wisdom in knocking this lunatic down. I wish the WaPo would have given the responses to this letter equal placement. This guy is ludicrous.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Vive la Similarité/Différence (your choice)

Joyeux le quatorze juillet! It's Bastille Day again. What does that mean for us here in America?

Well, it means that we should celebrate the fact that we're just like France. Thanks, David McCullough, for explaining it for us.

Except, wait. He's full of crap. We're nothing like France. So sayeth Edward Glaeser.

Mon dieux!

Monday, July 11, 2011

When Is a Person Not a Person?

Jesus, Mitch McConnell is odious. Just freaking odious.

Here's a very short Salon item about something stupid McConnell said recently. But Salon got the emphasis wrong in this one. It was entirely inappropriate to bring up the Casey Anthony case when discussing trials for suspected terrorists. But McConnell's real ignorance was shown in this gem.

"I don't think a foreigner is entitled to all the protection in the Bill of Rights."

Really, Mitch? You don't think? Do you need to research that? 'Cause I can help you there.

Our constitution, which conservatives have pretended to revere so much recently, not only does not support this, it directly contradicts it. Here's what it says about the matter. It's Amendment V, which has only been on the books for 220 years or so, so I can see how Mitch might have missed the news.

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

See, it says "no citizen shall be..." What? It doesn't say "citizen"? It says "person"? Oh. That stinks. That covers, like, everybody. What kind of country is this, anyway?

Monday, June 27, 2011

SCOTUS Finds R Rating Unconstitutional!

I'm having a rough time with the logic behind this one.

I'm as behind free expression as anyone on this planet. I don't think there should be censorship of any kind. If you want to make something, make it. If you want to say something, say it. If it's profane or shocking or just plain stupid, so be it.

The SCOTUS decision today uses this kind of free speech absolutism to justify getting rid of California's ban on the sale of violent video games to children. Here's what Justice Scalia had to say about this.

“Like the protected books, plays and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas — and even social messages — through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world),” Justice Scalia wrote. “That suffices to confer First Amendment protection.”

I'm totally with him as far as that statement goes. Fist Amendment protection all the way. But here's the problem. California wasn't banning this type of expression. At all. It was only saying that you couldn't sell violent games to minors. That is a completely different thing. It's not even a First Amendment issue.

I don't see how this is any different than not letting kids into R-rated movies. Or (and you knew this was coming) giving them access to porn. Really. If we follow the logic here, and not very far at that, then no one in government has any right to say that children shouldn't have unfettered access to all of the porn they can consume.

Here's Scalia again.

Justice Scalia acknowledged that Justice Alito had identified some disturbing images. “But disgust,” Justice Scalia wrote, “is not a valid basis for restricting expression.”

Again, this ban did not restrict expression. It did not tell video game makers what kinds of games they could make. It simply said they couldn't sell them to minors. Just like porn. Or violent movies.

I think I may agree with Clarence Thomas here for the first time ever.

“ ‘The freedom of speech,’ as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians,” Justice Thomas wrote.

Scalia responds:

“He cites no case, state or federal, supporting this view, and to our knowledge there is none,” Justice Scalia wrote of Justice Thomas.

Okay. I'll be happy to approach any one of Scalia's underage relatives and begin a conversation with them about how much sex I'd like to have with them. Then I'll show them some nice hardcore porn. And a Takashi Miike film fest. And maybe "Triumph of the Will". I'm sure he'll find absolutely nothing wrong with that. After all, they should be exposed to new ideas. To hell with their parents.