Sunday, March 28, 2010

Frank Rich Part 2: Kristallnacht Up!

We're back. Out of fairness to my readers, I did some quick research to determine whether Kristallnacht was, in fact, a minor political dispute accompanied by a brick through someone's window.

Nope. Let's roll.

The first signs were the shrieks of “traitor” and “off with his head” at Palin rallies as Obama’s election became more likely in October 2008.

Eric Cantor was shot. How dare that black man support health care reform? Stupid Eric Cantor. Dude probably listens to will.i.am.

If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory.

Unless he decided not to completely suck on those issues, but things being how they are...

The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House

Right. Because if Hillary Clinton were president and Henry Waxman were speaker, everyone would be totally cool with a spending trillions of dollars to take over health care. People probably assumed Cantor was for Obamacare, since Cantor is black.


topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court


Yeah, and Clarence Thomas. Screw that guy... Oh, wait. He's white. Love him.

and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman

Who exchanged Congressional favors for his banker boyfriend, costing taxpayers billions. That has some small thing to do with it. I mean, it's one thing to be gay. It's quite another to take money from us to help you be gay. See the difference? Frank does not.

— would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play.

Obama's Afghanistan policy, for example, has drawn millions of tea party protesters. And, by millions, I mean very few... Sort of like how, by Kristallnacht, Frank means "a brick thrown at a window". Also, disenfranchisement is nothing to worry about. It simply means your vote will no longer count. No biggie.

It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse.

Cleavernacht!


When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.


Right, because they chair powerful committees, run the country, all that fun stuff. I mean, from whom else are conservatives going to want to take the country? Marmaduke?


They can’t. Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress.


I'll get into this argument in a future post, but the fact that the aims of the tea party movement might be futile does not make it racist, or even necessarily ill-conceived.

The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008.


And when all of those babies grow up, they are going to think exactly the same way as the Democratic party on every issue. Blacks, for example, are well known for their tolerance of homosexuals. Per another classic will.i.am track:

"We excite stores that got dykes leaving doors"

No potential rift there... No sir.

The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded.

Wait, so are tea partiers worried about minorities, or are they simply worried that minorities will disagree with them on the issues? Frank's thesis (such as it is) is an absolute muddle.


If Congressional Republicans want to maintain a politburo-like homogeneity in opposition to the Democrats, that’s their right.


Yes, that's why Republicans brought in Michael Steele, to maintain a politburo-like homogeneity.


If they want to replay the petulant Gingrich government shutdown of 1995


A shutdown cannot be petulant, by definition. Frank, or whomever intern he tagged to write this shit, does not care.

by boycotting hearings and, as John McCain has vowed, refusing to cooperate on any legislation, that’s their right too (and a political gift to the Democrats).

Yeah, that gift is marked "don't open until November". Give it will.


But they can’t emulate the 1995 G.O.P. by remaining silent as mass hysteria, some of it encompassing armed militias, runs amok in their own precincts.


Nope. They'll issue "don't do that" type press releases, and then proceed to make hay when half of them are hoaxes perpetrated by left wing college kids. Or when someone threatens Eric Cantor.

We know the end of that story. And they can’t pretend that we’re talking about “isolated incidents” or a “fringe” utterly divorced from the G.O.P.

We're talking about a brick through a window. Windownacht. Write that down.

A Quinnipiac poll last week found that 74 percent of Tea Party members identify themselves as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents, while only 16 percent are aligned with Democrats.

Let's reconstruct Frank's syllogism here:

1) There have been like, 20 threats and epithets (and one brick, and one bullet) hurled at congressmen.
2) Most tea partiers are Republicans.
3) Therefore, Republicans are racist.

This might as well read:

1) 400 people were struck by lighting last year.
2) Most golfers fear lightning.
3) Therefore, golfers invented lightning.

After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, some responsible leaders in both parties spoke out to try to put a lid on the resistance and violence.

Reason: It was the friggin' Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Yet no Republican or conservative leader of stature has taken on Palin, Perry, Boehner or any of the others who have been stoking these fires for a good 17 months now.

Reason: This is not the friggin' Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Sub-reason: Unlike the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this bill sucks.

Are these politicians so frightened of offending anyone in the Tea Party-Glenn Beck base that they would rather fall silent than call out its extremist elements and their enablers?

Waiting until the final paragraph to evoke Glenn Beck shows remarkable constraint, as does failing to defend your thesis, I suppose.

Seemingly so, and if G.O.P. leaders of all stripes, from Romney to Mitch McConnell to Olympia Snowe to Lindsey Graham, are afraid of these forces, that’s the strongest possible indicator that the rest of us have reason to fear them too.

Yes, Frank, the next Kristallnacht is literally right around the corner. Fortunately, you are a white male. We will need idiots like you around when we need to pretend that there is no such thing as a liberal intellectual. You'll be our Emmanuel Goldstein, though you'll have to trim down your rants a bit.

Seriously, though, there is a very large problem with this type of thinking, which epitomizes the attitude shared by most liberals in this country.

Nobody in the tea party movement is out to recreate the Holocaust. For starters, the Holocaust came about by virtue of a strong nationalist streak, whereas the tea partiers a fervently anti-nationalist. Second, Kristallnacht came at the urging of government, where as the tea partiers are protesting expansive government. Third, the protests have yielded relatively few arrests, compared to other similar protests, where the goal is often to get arrested.

Frank Rich is a vapid clown, a eunuch in the kingdom of abysmal opinion writing that is hastening the extinction of paleo-media. But we should all be concerned when an ideologue blithely compares a protest movement to the Holocaust in one of the world's largest platforms.

If you believe Kristallnacht is around the corner, what will you do to assure it does not happen? When does the battle move from the pages a left wing affinity rag to the pages of legislation? That is the fear that animates the tea party movement, and rightly so.

And, of course, Frank's official sign off...


Correction: Timothy Geithner’s title at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was president and chief executive officer, not chairman, as I wrote here last week.

Everything is racist right now (Part 1)

I had assumed that Democrats had some magic messaging bullets to unfurl after Obamacare's passage. Maybe they would play up the prescription drug coverage components of the bill, or talk about deficit reduction. Apparently, I have nothing to worry about.

Let's all remind ourselves of this. Millions and millions of people read this crap, internalize it, and incorporate it into their worldview. I know Frank Rich is a doltish hack, writing for a newspaper whose daily corrections outnumber the clues in their famous crossword puzzle, but for millions of people, this dude spins gold.

Let's roll.

Title: The Rage Is Not About Health Care


In a moment, my rage is going to be about Frank Rich.

THERE were times when last Sunday’s great G.O.P. health care implosion threatened to bring the thrill back to reality television.

Oh good. A reference to reality television in the opening sentence. This should be hacktacular.

On ABC’s “This Week,” a frothing and filibustering Karl Rove all but lost it in a debate with the Obama strategist David Plouffe.


I should note that this particular bit of alliteration is hyperlinked. There are 40 hyperlinks in this op-ed. That's ridiculous. If someone must click on 40 different websites to make sense of what you have written, then you have not written.

A few hours later, the perennially copper-faced Republican leader John Boehner revved up his “Hell no, you can’t!” incantation in the House chamber.

Perennially copper-faced? Would it be better if he were sometimes copper-faced, but other times took on a more pale hue? Why is this being hurled as an epithet?

instant fodder for a new viral video remixing his rap with will.i.am’s “Yes, we can!” classic from the campaign.


Will.i.am and "classic" do not belong in the same sentence. That said, I think Rahm and the administration are partial to another Black Eyed Peas "classic".

Boehner, having previously likened the health care bill to Armageddon, was now so apoplectic you had to wonder if he had just discovered one of its more obscure revenue-generating provisions, a tax on indoor tanning salons.

Cripes.


There’s nothing entertaining about watching goons hurl venomous slurs at congressmen like the civil rights hero John Lewis and the openly gay Barney Frank.


Whereas tanning salon jokes will get goons into the New York Times op-ed section.

And as the week dragged on, and reports of death threats and vandalism stretched from Arizona to Kansas to upstate New York, the F.B.I. and the local police had to get into the act to protect members of Congress and their families.

I'm certain there are "goons" on the right wielding threats at congressmen. I am equally certain that there are left-wing activists perpetrating hoaxes in an attempt to discredit conservative opposition. I am entirely certain that Frank Rich does not care which is which.

How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht.

This is eminently reasonable. If only the tea partiers knew that the SS once sent 30,000 jews to concentration camps in a single night, they would never again hurl epithets at, um, members of congress. Good point, Frank.

The weapon of choice for vigilante violence at Congressional offices has been a brick hurled through a window.

Does Frank know that the whole "night of broken glass" thing was symbolic? Like, Kristallnacht is remembered more as a turning point in the final solution than for property destruction. I mean, don't get me wrong, there was broken glass, but... What is this piece about again?

The historic Obama-Pelosi health care victory is a big deal, all right, so much so it doesn’t need Joe Biden’s adjective to hype it.

Yeah, that was weird. The Vice President of the United States whispers the f-word into the president's ear for no real reason at all, but Rep. Boehner is out of bounds for being tan.

But the bill does not erect a huge New Deal-Great Society-style government program.

Though it costs more than the New Deal-Great Society combined.

(Frank cuts and pastes talking points about how great the bill is... Yawn...)

It’s this bill that prompted a congressman to shout “baby killer” at Bart Stupak, a staunch anti-abortion Democrat.

Which, of course, is really racist.


And it’s this “middle-of-the-road” bill,


For the record, the same people who internalize Frank Rich's BS also think a multi-trillion dollar health package is "middle-of-the-road".

20 political targets Palin marks with rifle crosshairs on a map on her Facebook page.


Which, literally, can be interpreted as a call to violence. Also, the CNN show Crossfire featured Robert Novak and Michael Kinsley summarily executing guests in attempt to persuade audiences to their ideological ends. In retrospect, I can't believe that went on for 15 years without the FCC saying something.

(Democrats can only pray that the G.O.P. will “go for it” again in 2010, as Obama goaded them on Thursday, and keep demanding repeal of a bill that by September will shower benefits on the elderly and children alike.)


Wait, I thought this wasn't about health care. But Rich hopes it will become about health care, because his party wins this issue? So why is he trying to make it about racism?

To find a prototype for the overheated reaction to the health care bill,


Look to just about every single thing George W. Bush proposed. Remember how people wrote books about killing him? Literally, killing him? That happened.

you have to look a year before Medicare, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Or Kristallnacht.

Both laws passed by similar majorities in Congress;

And so were pretty much the same.


Barry Goldwater... characterize(d) the bill as a “threat to the very essence of our basic system” and a “usurpation” of states’ rights that “would force you to admit drunks, a known murderer or an insane person into your place of business.”

This, of course, was naive. Ted Kennedy had been elected to the Senate two years prior.

That a tsunami of anger is gathering today is illogical,

The man who compared health care protests to Kristallnacht is now lecturing leaders on the merits of logic.

given that what the right calls “Obamacare” is less provocative than either the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Medicare,

Why, it's downright jejune!

(it appears I have put my fist through my computer screen. Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow)

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Musings: Health Care Edition

This just in. Thanks to the House Vote on Sunday, little Timmy O'Toole just received his new liver. Now he will live forever! Everything is dreams! Let's muse...

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It is no secret that the majority of Americans are firmly opposed to the health care reform package. It is also no secret that a minority of Americans are fervently for it.

What astonishes me is that there seems to be a vast swath of people who are largely indifferent, but inclined to support it because, well, at least it's "something". So and so, or such and such relative or friend is having a tough go of it, health-wise, and this will mitigate their suffering. To which, credit the Democrats for pretending that our health care system is in such crisis that any action, no matter how poorly considered, can be sold as progress.

But there's a trap door there, for Democrats. Literally millions of people think this is bill is going to provide immediate relief for policyholders. It instead provides delayed assistance to non-policyholders. That's a big difference, and it should mean millions of additional disillusioned voters come November.

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That picture of Nancy Pelosi walking around with a hammer is just creepy and weird.

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Good news for Twins fans. Joe Mauer just signed an eight-year, $184 million contract extension. Unfortunately, while the Twins begin paying him immediately, he won't play until 2014.

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Republicans are already vowing to repeal the health care reform bill. I'm on board, but I would urge caution with respect to the message. The Democrats were smart enough to lard the bill with goodies like prescription drug coverage. Over the next several months, expect them to campaign on those terms, rather than defend the broader substance of the bill.

Republicans should vow to reform the bill, rather than repeal it. This will help them avoid the charge of taking away prescription drugs from the elderly, and actually give them a mandate to, well, reform. Frame this bill as one that, while costly, doesn't do anything for the average taxpayer. "One trillion dollars of nothing" has a nice ring to it.

What would reform consist of? Dismantling the current bill, certainly, but the Republicans can add goodies too. As presently constituted, the bill closes the so-called "doughnut hole" by 2020. The reform package can have it done by 2014. If Democrats oppose, it's only because they hate seniors.

Demagoguery? You bet.

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Incidentally, this is an example of why "compassionate conservatism" doesn't work. The doughnut hole was intended to maintain some measure of fiscal sanity within a very expensive new entitlement.

Now, not only is the provision being eradicated, at considerable expense, but it is being used as a sweetener to get the public to swallow a much more expansive bill.

And what was Bush's reward for his "compassion"? Millions of compassionate types comparing him to Hitler.

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I have yet to hear a cogent defense of this bill. I mean that literally. The only people who think it will work are those who don't know what it entails.

Isn't that troubling? I think it's troubling.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Marjorie Margolies: Retroactive Profile In Courage

Marjorie Margolies was the deciding vote for Bill Clinton's "it's not tax increases, it's deficit reduction" bill. Every so often, like a bad Christmas story, she trots out some variation of this piece to encourage our legislators to make a similarly poor decision on some poorly considered bill.

This time, the title is Democrats, Vote Your Conscience, by which she means "Democrats, Vote My Conscience, to the Degree I Like to Pretend I Ever Had One". Oh, and she's dropped Mezvinsky from her name for the byline. Probably a good idea.


I feel your pain. Eighteen years ago, I was elected on the coattails of a popular young Democratic president who promised a post-partisan Washington.


And delivered it, albeit indirectly.

I was pressed on all sides: by constituents opposed, my president needing a victory and Republicans promising my demise.


What's ironic about this is that the only party in this scenario that didn't get what it wanted was the constituency.

I was in the country's most Republican district represented by a Democrat. I had repeatedly said, "I will not be a 'read my lips' candidate," when asked if I would promise not to raise taxes.

This is cute, what she's doing here. She did promise not to raise taxes. The 'read my lips' reference (with irony not original to her) referred to Bush's reneging on his promise, not to the fact that she was unwilling to make promises.

I voted my conscience, and it cost me.

Not really. She was on her way out regardless. In classic Clinton fashion, he laughably promised to add in $100 billion in spending cuts in exchange for her vote. He always had an eye for gullible women, as we now know.

I still remember how, after I voted, Bob Walker jumped up and down on the House floor, yelling "Bye-bye, Marjorie!"

Actually, the Republicans grabbed hankies and sang it collectively, but why let that get in the way of a good anecdote? She always goes on with this schtick about how she thought Bob Walker was a good jumper. Is there any footage of Bob Walker jumping? Any other recollection of Rep. Walker's jumping ability?

I thought, first, that he was probably right. Then, that I would expect better behavior from my kids, much less a member of Congress.

Which Congress is this? The one where a man was once nearly beaten to death with a cane? The one that recently laid to rest one of the most notorious drunken womanizers in history? The one that once featured your crooked ex-husband?

I am your worst-case scenario. And I'd do it all again.

Because, again, she had zero chance of re-election anyway.

In recent days I have become something I never imagined: a verb. I hear that when freshmen enter Congress they are told, "We don't want to Margolies-Mezvinsky you."

Of course, these days, "to Mezvinsky" someone means something else entirely.

I had no idea that when I voted for the Clinton budget, I was writing the first line of my obituary.


You weren't. The first line will be about your crooked ex-husband. The second will be about how your kid married Chelsea Clinton. The third will be about whatever killed you.

Simply put, you could be Margolies-Mezvinskied whether you vote with or against President Obama.

Well, no. You will just be voted out of office. But then, unlike Margolies-Mezvinsky, you might have a successful political career in front of you.

-- America is a strong country -- despite what the cynics say.

If only it had a multi-trillion dollar mish-mash of exchange programs, bureaucracy, and entitlements added to it's health care infrastructure. Then, it would be perfect.

In the run-up to the vote on the Clinton budget, rhetoric reached a fever pitch... one might think passage of the Clinton budget made Armageddon look like a walk in the park. Tactically speaking, not much has changed. Reconciliation is a "threat to our democracy." Health-care reform = socialism.


But this bill is necessary to save our children's precious tonsils from thieving doctors and so Timmy O'Toole's appendix doesn't explode. We have to act now or EVERYBODY DIES!!!!


But none of the dire predictions about the Clinton budget came to pass.


Nothing that happened in 1994 had anything to do with this.

-- Your constituents are always right. Usually.

Except when they don't favor the interests of your president. In which case, screw 'em, cause the president is dreamy and would neeeeeeeever lie to you.

By the way, why is Obama having the Post run this op-ed? This is the last person the Dems want to be hearing from right now.

Of course -- and that's why you're there. Otherwise, we'd vote everything by referendum.

Yeah, that's pretty much how the framers intended Congress. The House of Representatives... Correcting your mistakes for over 200 years, you idiots.

This rule is equally applicable today. If a majority of your constituents opposed George W. Bush's surge in Iraq because they thought it would not lead to stability, your district got it wrong.

And so did the president, as well as the members of congress responsible for this abomination of a health care bill.

So if, perhaps, a majority opposes comprehensive health-care reform, they might not be right.


Yeah, but the people who got the surge thing right are saying this health care bill is wrong.

It's that there are times in all our careers when we must ask ourselves why we're here.


Are you here to craft good legislation, or help Barack Obama look like somewhat less of an incompetent fool than he does at present? Make no mistake, you are here for the latter. Obama must be redeemed at any cost. He is black.

I decided that my desire for public service at that moment was greater than my desire to guarantee continued service.

And you believed our lying president when he lied to you. You read his lips and swallowed his... Charms.

I urge you simply to cast the vote you can be proud of next week, next year and for years to come. Given the opportunity, I wouldn't change my vote.

Because, one more time, you weren't going to be re-elected anyway. No chance. None. Zip. You should never have been in congress. You were out of your element in the first place. Frankly, the fact that anyone remembers you at all, in any context, is a small miracle. But you, ma'am, have no fewer than three claims to fame. You are footnote city, babe. Your obituary will be awesome.



Then again, what do I know? I was a lousy politician.


Obamacare to all, and to all a good night.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Get your hands off my milk!

As you are almost certainly unaware, the battle over sales of unpasteurized milk (so called raw milk) is heating up. Essentially, it is illegal to sell unpasteurized milk in most instance, but Wisconsin is considering allowing on-farm sales of the stuff. Of course, raw milk is largely illegal in Minnesota, on the grounds that if our state can ban anything, it will. Lutherans love being told what to do.

Recently, Kare 11 aired a pretty useless feature on the raw milk question. The piece is pretty one-sided, pitting the arguments of Petra Brokken, a St. Paul mother against an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of health Kirk Smith.

Brokken argues that raw milk has helped her daughter, born severely premature, grow to be healthy and capable. It's an emotional appeal, one quickly drowned in Mr. Smith's dismissively bureaucratic claim that "The benefits haven't really been shown scientifically, but the risks certainly have." The piece concludes with a frumpy looking regulator chick from the University of Minnesota more or less threatening an unnamed farm that sells raw milk in Minnesota.

But what risks "have been shown scientifically"? Mr. Smith's use of the passive voice set off my BS detector. He elaborates:

Smith says pathogens from raw milk like salmonella and campylobacter are suspected of sickening 50 to 60 people each year in Minnesota and have been blamed for at least one death in recent years.


Hmmm... The "pathogens from raw milk are suspected". That's not quite the same as saying raw milk sickened 50 to 60 people, is it?

I did some research (since Kare 11 could not be bothered), and I found a University of Minnesota study on outbreaks related to raw milk. It cites nine different outbreaks associated with raw milk between the years of 1986 and 2007. Here's a play by play:

The first case, an outbreak of listeria, resulted in no confirmed cases. Some outbreak.

The second, a salmonella outbreak infecting some 136 people, was part of a national outbreak from bad processed cheese. The cheese was not made from raw milk, so I'm not sure why the incident appears on this chart.

The chart also cites a salmonella outbreak affecting as many as 35,000 people in 1994. This, of course, was the famous Schwan's ice cream outbreak, which nearly bankrupted the company. The outbreak stemmed from the delivery of ingredients in a truck that had been used to store raw eggs. Again, why is this cited in a study regarding raw milk?

It seems that the standard for suspecting raw milk is the mere fact that pathogen's that are also present in some raw milk were present in a particular outbreak. Raw milk can cause salmonella poisoning, and so all cases of salmonella poisoning are attributed to raw milk. This is egregiously circular reasoning.

In fact, according to the chart, only 34 confirmed cases of campylobacter (and none of salmonella) could be traced directly to the ingestion of raw milk. Campylobacter is better known as the sporadic bacteria that causes traveler's diarrhea. Unpleasant though it is, it is treated symptomatically with over the counter medication.

So raw milk is responsible for 1.6 cases of traveler's diarrhea annually. Based on what I have been able to find, raw milk constitutes just under 1% of all milk consumption nationally. In other words, if every single milk drinker switched to raw milk, we would be looking at maybe 200 cases of campylobacter per year.

Considering that there are 900 reported cases of campylobacter reported statewide every year (more than half are caused by uncooked poultry), and considering that only a small percentage of residents would opt for raw milk, I can scarcely see why the ban is warranted.

Raw milk advocates claim that the pasteurization destroys nutrients and bacteria that aid in digestion. This is largely incontrovertible. After all, that's what pasteurization is supposed to do. It kills things. The jury is out on the question of how essential these nutrients are. Anecdotally, the stuff tastes a hell of a lot better, and failed to cause the nominal level of abdominal distress I usually get from store bought milk. Many who are lactose intolerant are reportedly able to consume raw milk with no ill effects, though the result may be psychosomatic.

Not only is the science behind the pasteurization mandate far from overwhelming, it emanates from the same federal-agricultural complex that gives us high fructose corn syrup and Cargill beef. There is money in pasteurization, and our federal government has a long and rich history of rigging the game to favor dairy interests. The fact that none of the AMA, CDC etc... Is making any effort to study the possible health benefits (thereby allowing them to assert that no scientific studies have demonstrated them) should tell you who has skin in the game.

But, even if I embrace the most credulous reading of the science, there is simply no reason why I should not be able to buy the milk I want. I am tired of the iron whims of science arbitrarily dictating that which I can and cannot do. If I think raw milk is good for me, I don't need bureaucrats with bowl cuts standing in my way.

Fire Kirk Smith, use the money to fix potholes, and let me drink whatever I want.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why I love Social Media - Part 2

Stop two on my tour of America's new pastime. Sociologists will study this someday, when reflecting on our nation's demise.



My favorite part is when the kitten is admonished that it "had it coming". Apparently, kharmic law applies even in a battle over rotting squirrel flesh.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Facebook wisdom

This is why I love Social Media... I overheard the following on Facebook. Names changed because it seems to make sense to change the names.

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Brophy (updating status): wife's stupid cat took a dump on top of the damn cat cave today.

Pickle: I think that's a cats way of "planting a flag" to claim something...either that or the cat was being an @sshole.

Brophy: The cat is having behavioral problems. We recently had to throw out our bathroom rug because it became a frequent place for urination.

Pickle: And only a few steps away from the toilet too. potty train that pussy.

Brophy: Sadly enough the cat cave was in the bathroom too.

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That's livin' the High Life, people. Sumbitch... Summmmmmmmmbitch...

Monday, March 08, 2010

Monday Musings

The rain is melting away the snowy nightmares. March has plunged it's slushy blade into February's ample loins, declaring victory in 28 day gasp.

Let's muse.


The Oscars happened last night. I was going to do a blow-by-blow, but such things tend to disintegrate into meditations on the similarity between dresses and drapery.

I have hit upon one key problem, and it contributes to this perception that the program is overlong. As it goes on, it gets a lot more boring. In fact, it is most boring at the precise moment it should be most exciting. The awards go into full spew mode during the most important categories, when the show should be building tension. That's when we should have Doogie doing his pointless "no one wants to be alone" dance.

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Oh, and so begins the Avatar backlash. About time.

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Brian McLaren's recent book, a New Kind of Christianity has been widely (uniformly, in fact) criticized by reliable Christian outlets. The main criticisms are that he is reinventing the broken wheel of the social gospel, and pretending instead that he has located an evolved perspective on scripture.

He also resorts to ad hominems (he accuses evangelicals of achieving their ends via mass murder), and generally disavows fundamental truths (atonement and resurrection, heaven and hell, the original sin).

McLaren responds to a recent Christianity Today piece (penned by Scot McKnight, who is himself a part of the emergent church):

"If those who ask these questions in evangelical contexts are treated with suspicion and hostility rather than hospitality, then inquisitive people will only be able to find responsible and open conversation partners outside of the evangelical community... I hope the opportunity presented by these questions will be seized by many evangelicals – an opportunity for relaxed (or at least non-tense) and hospitable (or at least non-hostile) conversation."

Number of people who criticized Brian McLaren for asking questions: zero.

As someone who belongs to groups McLaren has dubbed racist, xenophobic, genocidal, pro-slavery McCarthyite, he can take his humble request for hospitable conversation and shove it. When McLaren can honestly and forthrightly respond to his critics without couching verbal assaults behind rose-tinted language, he will get real discourse.

Were he to do so, we would see that the emperor has no clothes, and no movement behind him.

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Barack Obama is taking credit for "putting what was broken (in Iraq) back together and getting our troops home, which we intend to do in August of this year."

Setting aside the question of how, exactly, Obama achieved this, doesn't this give lie to the hysterical criticisms of Bush's war policy? According to the left, George W. Bush was a mass murderer who had engaged us in a debacle that overshadows even Vietnam. And yet, it only took one year to clean up?

Really? We're talking about prosecuting the guy for war crimes, and our military was able to right the ship and clean up his mess in one year?

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Okay I'm not setting aside the question above. How does Obama get to take credit for this? How is this "his greatest achievement"? He is doing exactly what Bush said would work, and what he and Biden said would not work. I just want that out there for the record the next time one of my lefty friends wants me to take them seriously on foreign policy.

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Went to Adelitas on Central Friday night. If you took your average tex-mex joint, and gave everything a bit of a makeover, from decor to the bar to the flavors, you'd have Adelitas. Nothing was intolerable, and the portions are absurd, so if that's your bag, you could do worse (like La Casita up the street... Yuck)

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We're saving our money instead for this weekend's Fork the Fire event to benefit for Heidi's and Blackbird restaurants. Lot's of ways to help out and eat great food at the same time. Go do it.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Creepy Women Will Lower Your Bills

The sketchy banner ad people have apparently tired of informing us that Obama want us to go back to school. So it's back to creepy people telling to refinance our homes.

Yes, the failure to refinance your home at low, low rates through government programs is the product of a 9/10 mentality. It is literally just as bad as failing to secure our nation against a major terrorist attack. You people and your Miranda rights for detainees and 6% fixed rates. You hate America.

Since this is an ad about refinancing your home against terrorism, it makes perfect sense to include an image of, um, two unattractive, large-breasted women running in mismatched outfits. There shouldn't be any need for further explanation.

The copy informs us that only 95,000 people have taken advantage of the government's plan to help homeowners refinance. If only more people went to Creepymortgagelender.com, then everyone would be able to take advantage of Obama's (inscrutable and impractical) refi program.

We are disingenuously offered the opportunity to select our state (any click on the ad sends you directly to the main site), and I'm not sure what's going on in the graphic. Ostensibly, we are only given the choice to refi in Alabama, Alaska or Arizona, since other states are outside of the drop down box.

But there's a mysterious squiggle next to California. Perhaps this is a bare-bones effort to reach out to the absolute clusterf state hardest hit by the housing bust.

Earl: Great work, Jenkins. You managed to seamlessly tie together terrorism, ugly women, and lies.
Jenkins: Thank you sir.
Earl: Just one thing. We need to call attention to California. Think you can do that?
Jenkins: How about this?
Earl: A squiggle! Brilliant. Let's go get drinks.
Jenkins: I can't, I have to translate all of these e-mails into Nigerian by 5 pm.

It has become old hat to harp on these things, but has any company done more to diminish our online aesthetic than these jerks? I, for one, refuse to refinance my home until they give us at least three homely, large-breasted women. Who's with me?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Bad Writing Chronicles: Frank Rich is Jejune

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the people who run around calling conservatives stupid write the stupidest things themselves. In fairness, however, Frank Rich isn't calling conservatives stupid in his latest, just obsessed and deranged. The evidence is underwhelming, and the op-ed moreso. Enjoy.

No one knows what history will make of the present — least of all journalists,


Rich will demonstrate this point rather emphatically in three, two, one...

who can at best write history’s sloppy first draft. But if I were to place an incautious bet on which political event will prove the most significant of February 2010, I wouldn’t choose the kabuki health care summit that generated all the ink and 24/7 cable chatter in Washington. I’d put my money instead on the murder-suicide of Andrew Joseph Stack III, the tax protester who flew a plane into an office building housing Internal Revenue Service employees in Austin, Tex., on Feb. 18.

History has already more or less forgotten 9/11. Some kook ramming his prop jet into a three story building is going to have lasting traction? Incautious indeed, but this isn't about predictions. It's about crafting a hacky segue. Done and done.

What made that kamikaze mission eventful was less the deranged act itself than the curious reaction of politicians on the right who gave it a pass — or, worse, flirted with condoning it.

Who flirted with condoning it? What does it mean to flirt with condoning something? Talk about a non-falsifiable charge.

Stack was a lone madman, and it would be both glib and inaccurate to call him a card-carrying Tea Partier or a “Tea Party terrorist.”

But this is the New York Times, so let's make with the glib and inaccurate, no?

But he did leave behind a manifesto whose frothing anti-government, anti-tax rage overlaps with some of those marching under the Tea Party banner.

Also, Hitler was a vegetarian.

That rant inspired like-minded Americans to create instant Facebook shrines to his martyrdom.

There are Facebook shrines dedicated to sex, hugs, pooping, and the beard of one of the contestants on Bravo's Top Chef. Suffices to say, I don't look to Facebook advocacy to be "inspired".

Soon enough, some cowed politicians, including the newly minted Tea Party hero Scott Brown, were publicly empathizing with Stack’s credo

Evidence would be a good thing to introduce, here...

Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, even rationalized Stack’s crime. “It’s sad the incident in Texas happened,” he said, “but by the same token, it’s an agency that is unnecessary. And when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the I.R.S., it’s going to be a happy day for America.”

Right cause, wrong tactic. Political boilerplate. What's he supposed to do, tear his clothes and beat his thighs in anguish?

Had Stack the devastating weaponry and timing to match the death toll of 168 inflicted by Timothy McVeigh on a federal building in Oklahoma in 1995, maybe a few of the congressman’s peers would have cried foul.

News flash: Magnitude matters.

It is not glib or inaccurate to invoke Oklahoma City in this context,

Just opportunistic and indulgent.

Two days before Stack’s suicide mission, The Times published David Barstow’s chilling, months-long investigation of the Tea Party movement.

Translation: Frank Rich's agenda does not accord with the goals of the Tea Party movement.

Anyone who was cognizant during the McVeigh firestorm would recognize the old warning signs re-emerging from the mists of history.

Anyone who is cognizant now will recognize just how hacky it is to pen the words "mists of history" in an op-ed. Seriously, "mists of history"?

The Patriot movement. “The New World Order,” with its shadowy conspiracies hatched by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. Sandpoint, Idaho. White supremacists. Militias.

All exactly the same... No need for any further clarification. Banjos, automobiles, rhinoceros.

And now it is finding common cause with some elements of the diverse, far-flung and still inchoate Tea Party movement. All it takes is a few self-styled “patriots” to sow havoc.

With this last sentence, Frank has dismissed his entire argument, unless he is arguing against movements generally. But yes, when you unite millions of people behind a set of ideals, the odds are that a few of those people will be beyond reason. Even still, crazy IRS-bombing dude didn't identify with any major movement.

Equally significant is Barstow’s finding that most Tea Party groups have no affiliation with the G.O.P. despite the party’s ham-handed efforts to co-opt them.

Equally significant to what? He never made any sort of point about the Tea Party in the first place. He just listed a bunch of nouns. But yes, it is significant that the Tea Party movement has not acquiesced to the demands of a particular political party. Would it be glib and inaccurate to note that last year liberals were condemning the tea party protests as the astroturf wing of the Republican party?

The more we learn about the Tea Partiers, the more we can see why. They loathe John McCain and the free-spending, TARP-tainted presidency of George W. Bush.

Whereas Frank loves Bush and McCain.

They really do hate all of Washington, and if they hate Obama more than the Republican establishment, it’s only by a hair or two.

Wait, what? Just above, Frank was arguing that they had nothing to do with the Republican party. Now they are separated only by (at most) two hairs? He wants to have his cake and eat it to, and his cake has hair in it.

(Were Obama not earning extra demerits in some circles for his race, it might be a dead heat.)

Well that's a hell of a thing to put in parentheses.

While Washington is fixated on the natterings of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Michael Steele and the presumed 2012 Republican presidential front-runner, Mitt Romney, these and the other leaders of the Party of No are anathema or irrelevant to most Tea Partiers.

So what? They are also anathema to Frank Rich. Since when is it not okay for certain politicians to evince anathema and/or irrelevance?

The old G.O.P. guard has no discernible national constituency beyond the scattered, often impotent remnants of aging country club Republicanism.

Which is just terrible, apparently. Frank pines for the days of country club Republicanism. Hey, free golf. You know what? We're eight paragraphs in, and he hasn't mentioned Beck or Palin.

The leaders embraced by the new grass roots right are a different slate entirely: Glenn Beck, Ron Paul and Sarah Palin.

That's better. I was starting to get worried.

Simple math dictates that none of this trio can be elected president.


So why is the whole enterprise so perilous?

But these leaders do have a consistent ideology, and that ideology plays to the lock-and-load nutcases out there, not just to the peaceable (if riled up) populist conservatives also attracted to Tea Partyism.

Setting aside the ad hominems, what he is saying is that purveyors of a consistent ideology appeal to those who also adhere to that ideology. In related news, dogs like bacon and chairs have four legs.

This ideology is far more troubling than the boilerplate corporate conservatism and knee-jerk obstructionism of the anti-Obama G.O.P. Congressional minority.

Hyphens do not, in and of themselves, render any critique more effective. Frank knows this, right?

In the days after Stack’s Austin attack, the gradually coalescing Tea Party dogma had its Washington coming out party at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), across town from Capitol Hill.

Yeah, they timed it that way on purpose.

The most rapturously received speaker was Beck,

The most rapturously received speaker was Palin.

A co-sponsor of CPAC was the John Birch Society, another far-right organization that has re-emerged after years of hibernation.

Way to bury the most damning accusation in paragraph number bagillion, Frank. But yeah, this was pretty stupid.

Its views, which William F. Buckley Jr. decried in the 1960s as an “idiotic” and “irrational” threat to true conservatism, remain unchanged.

Remain unchanged? But you said they re-emerged. How can you remain unchanged and re-emerge at the same time? Also, I am so tired of liberals evoking Buckley. They agreed with nothing the man said. Liberals always play this game of pretending to appreciate whoever represented the conservative movement 20 years ago.

William Kristol dismissed the straw poll results as the youthful folly of Paul’s jejune college fans.

If they are so jejune, why is Frank writing about them in the New York Times? Outside of Paris Hilton and her ilk, how can one be jejune and newsworthy at the same time? My guess is that Frank has only a foggy idea of what the word "jejune" means, and since NYT apparently fired all of its editors ten years ago, it runs intact. Oh, and he used "jejune" in his op-ed the next day. Did he lose a bet?

But in truth, most of the CPAC speakers, including presidential aspirants, were so eager to ingratiate themselves with this claque that they endorsed the Beck-Paul vision rather than, say, defend Bush, McCain or the party’s Congressional leadership.

So it is a bad thing that conservatives frown upon the Bush presidency? Bush is suddenly a beacon of sanity and vision? Really?

And so — just one day after Stack crashed his plane into the Austin I.R.S. office

Which again, has nothing, at all, to do with CPAC.

— the heretofore milquetoast Minnesota governor, Tim Pawlenty, told the audience to emulate Tiger Woods’s wife and “take a 9-iron and smash the window out of big government in this country.”

Congratulations. Tim Pawlenty isn't boring any more. Even the New York Times says so!

Such violent imagery and invective, once largely confined to blogs and talk radio, is now spreading among Republicans in public office or aspiring to it.

A reference to smashing a window? This is violent invective?

Last year Michele Bachmann, the redoubtable Tea Party hero and Minnesota congresswoman, set the pace by announcing that she wanted “people in Minnesota armed and dangerous” to oppose Obama administration climate change initiatives.

Of course, she was literally referring to her desire for Minnesotans to store up guns and execute environmentalists. Good synopsis, Frank.

In the heyday of 1960s left-wing radicalism, no liberal Democratic politicians in Washington could be found endorsing groups preaching violent revolution.

Which is exactly the same as...

In the months before McVeigh’s mass murder, Helen Chenoweth and Steve Stockman, then representing Idaho and Texas in Congress, publicly empathized with the conspiracy theories of the far right that fueled his anti-government obsessions.

Of course, Clinton blamed Rush Limbaugh then.

In his Times article on the Tea Party right, Barstow profiled Pam Stout, a once apolitical Idaho retiree who cast her lot with a Tea Party group allied with Beck’s 9/12 Project, the Birch Society and the Oath Keepers, a rising militia group of veterans and former law enforcement officers who champion disregarding laws they oppose.

And by profiled, Frank means "cherry picked".

She frets that “another civil war” may be in the offing. “I don’t see us being the ones to start it,” she told Barstow, “but I would give up my life for my country.”

I'm glad Frank devoted an entire paragraph to someone else's interview with some retiree in Idaho. Otherwise, I would have assumed he had no compelling reason to identify a trend.

Whether consciously or coincidentally,

Either way, same thing. You can use those words interchangeably, just like "milquetoast" and "jejune".

Stout was echoing Palin’s memorable final declaration during her appearance at the National Tea Party Convention earlier this month: “I will live, I will die for the people of America, whatever I can do to help.”

Well, the Barstow piece ran before CPAC 2010 even began, so if Pam Stout was consciously echoing Palin, she is clairvoyant. For crying out loud, the piece appeared in the same damn paper. None of the editors could be bothered to check on the date of an article running in their own paper? It's not like this piece is brimming with facts to check.

Oh, and this would be a good time to note that the print version of this piece refers to Tim Pawlenty as the former governor of Minnesota. Yeah, this is why the New York Times won't be around in twenty years. How's that for an incautious bet?

What a jejune piece of writing. Jejune right in the face!