Category Archives: Maniacs and Morons and Robber Barons

Not an Instruction Manual

Goddammit, Trump, 1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual.

Neither was Brave New World.

But just as people mistake Machiavelli’s The Prince as an instruction manual instead of the social satire that it was intended as, there are certain people within the government who just want our nation to descend into an ideologically-driven dark age.

Diversity. Entitlement. Evidence-based. Fetus. Science-based. Transgender. Vulnerable. These are the words that the Center for Disease Control is no longer allowed to use when creating budget documents. The CDC is charged with keeping the citizens of the United States healthy. Here is their mission statement:

CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.

CDC increases the health security of our nation. As the nation’s health protection agency, CDC saves lives and protects people from health threats. To accomplish our mission, CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise.

The CDC has already been hobbled by the powers-that-be (the NRA, for example) in not being allowed to perform studies regarding guns and the danger they pose in the US. This further hampering does nothing to further the CDC’s mission, and will harm the vulnerable members of our society.

Sigh.

There are a couple of reasons I don’t often post about politics in my blog or in social media. First, most of the people who follow me already know where I stand. Second, most of the people I follow feel the same way. And third, I’m unlikely to change any minds anyway. Certainly, this blog post won’t make it to the administration officials who offered this ludicrous policy, and even if it did, they wouldn’t be moved by it. “Another snowflake liberal complaining about the lawfully-elected President blah blah blah,” they chortle as they make their way to the bank.

It’s frustrating how powerless I feel in the face of these forces.

That’s not to say I’ve done nothing. I’ve written emails. I’ve faxed. I’ve texted. I’ve signed petitions. I’ve made phone calls to my senators and to my Congressional representative, all of whom, fortunately, feel the same as I do.

I can only hope that American citizens will come back to their senses and restore sanity to our government and society in 2018. If that doesn’t happen… Well, I don’t know. I shudder to think what damage Trump and his sycophants will do to the nation before 2020. We’re already going to spend decades fixing the damage they’ve already done. And I fear that worse is yet to come.

We have always been at war with Eastasia, I suppose.


‘Tis the season for Holidailies, where you may find more cheerful blogs.

Right wing lunacy

Is it just me, or has the extreme end of the right wing jumped off the edge of reason and landed gleefully into a pit of pure batshit insane? Between Glenn Beck’s bursting into tears at the very mention of America and Michelle Bachman’s deliberate misinterpretation of a new community service program as a sort of network of camps for the “re-education” of America’s youth (not to mention Chuck Norris’s outright jumps of joy at the notion of right-wing terrorist cells popping up all over the country), it just seems that loony conspiracy theories, once the exclusive domain of the darker corners of Usenet and street corner pamphlets, are turning into whatever passes for “news” on the Extreme Right Wing Apologist Network Fox News Network.

I swear, it’s like they learned nothing when President George H. W. Bush ceded America’s sovereignty to the United Nations and took everyone’s guns in 1992; or when Janet Reno became dictator and took everyone’s guns after Waco and Ruby Ridge; or when President Bill Clinton did the same thing in 1999 and also threw all the right-wing conservatives into concentration camps (not to mention ceding America’s sovereignty to the United Nations and placing the entire country under martial law) all under the guise of the dangers of Y2K. Glenn Beck says he can’t “debunk” the idea that concentration camps are being built to right-wing conservatives, which is kind of like me saying I can’t debunk the idea that Bigfoot has impregnated Amelia Earhart with a space baby. Despite all evidence to the contrary, there will always be people who believe. Since January, Fox News, especially Glenn Beck, has been possessed by the spirit of Morton William Cooper, and become the fodder for mockery and an episode or two of The X-Files.

It is, of course, disingenous at best and mind-explodingly stupid at worst to suggest that all conservatives are represented by this sort of conspiracy thinking, just as it’s disingenuous at best and mind-explodingly stupid to suggest that all liberals want to enforce mandatory abortions on every child in America and turn everyone gay. Of course, if you believe either of these positions — and I know folks on both sides of this particular fence — then no amount of contradictory evidence or reason will dissuade you.

Of course, most of this posturing is just that: posturing. Fox News, like Rush Limbaugh, exists primarily for entertainment rather than information, and as long as the ad revenue keeps flowing in they don’t care that they’ve turned the Republican party and the conservative movement in America into a parody of itself. And that’s what saddens me. Conservatives in America used to be best represented by reasonable, thoughtful folks like Barry Goldwater; people I could disagree with but who I was sure would actually give issues serious consideration and not jump to conclusions that are not just silly but outright batshit insane.

And what saddens me even more is that people believe this shit.

Quote of the Day

“To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, ‘Somebody stole my shoes, so I’ll amputate my legs.'” –Gloria Steinem

The whole article can be found here.

PhotoShop wins again.

So, that picture of Sarah Palin in a bikini and carrying a gun? Yeah, not so much.

Don’t get me wrong. Much as I despise Sarah Palin’s positions on most issues and insane as I think the McCain campaign is for selecting her as a VP candidate without bothering to vet her at all (I stand by my assertion that the main reason for the selection and timing was to draw attention from Obama’s amazing speech at the Democrat convension), this kind of thing — a PhotoShopped image which gets captions like, “Meet America’s First Trailer Trash VP” — is really just beneath us. Beneath us as Democrats, beneath us as liberals, beneath us as Americans. It’s absolutely appalling that any woman who rises in politics or any other endeavor which brings her into the spotlight is simply assumed to have posed in skimpy clothing at some point in her past, or even completely nude. Palin never has, and to suggest, even via PhotoShop, that she has is pandering to the worst elements of our culture.

I also should mention that I am thoroughly unimpressed with the revelation that Palin was once a member of the Alaska Independence Party. Unless there is substantial reason to believe that she still believes in their cause and supports their goals, it’s completely irrelevant. After all, I was once a Libertarian; now I consider libertarianism just as flawed as Communism. People change their politics. So what.

And as for her teenage daughter’s pregnancy: Well, yeah, Palin’s remarks display a remarkable amount of hypocrisy, but for God’s sake leave the kid out of it. Again, it’s just beneath us.

I, too, would happily have Jon Stewart's Love Child

Offered without commentary:

On another note, can anyone validate the rumor I heard that Palin will be dropping out of the race soon in order to “spend more time with her infant child”?

Shuddering…

“I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem…” -Sarah Palin

The more I learn about this woman, the more frightened I become. And the more I would want to slap McCain around and ask, “What in the world were you thinking?”, if I seriously believed that McCain had much say in the VP selection.

She’s a friend of Big Oil. She wants to see “Intelligent Design” taught in public schools. Her lack of experience suggests that McCain’s campaign doesn’t mean it when they attack Obama’s lack of experience. I mean, seriously. No one can hear McCain use that particular card anymore without laughing hysterically:

MCCAIN: My opponent lacks the experience necessary to lead the free world.

AMERICA: Dude, have you SEEN your running mate’s resume?

MCCAIN: Why, no. Who is he, anyway?

And don’t say it’s different just because she’s only the VP candidate. When the President might keel over midway into his first term because of a heart attack, her experience is very much relevant.

The other wanker of the month is, of course, John Goodman, who may or may not be a McCain campaign adviser, who gleefully pointed out that everyone in America has access to free health care in the form of their local hospital emergency room. While technically true, I suppose, it’s disingenuous to say that an emergency room visit could be considered free to anyone. Whenever someone does get free care at the emergency room, guess what? That care still gets paid for. It gets paid for by everyone else who uses that hospital, in the form of higher costs. It was stupid when Bush said it. It was stupid when Goodman said it. It will still be stupid when Palin says it.

Meh. Whatever. According to both Pollster.com and Electoral-vote.com, Obama has, as of today at least, a pretty solid lead over McCain. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Sarah Palin

So, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is apparently going to be McCain’s running mate. An interesting choice. I wonder if McCain’s gunning for the disaffected Hillary Democrats who feel spurned by the party’s choice of Obama over Clinton? If so, will her anti-abortion / pro-drilling stance still appeal to the Clinton holdovers?

It’s also kind of a confusing pick for me, since McCain has been working so hard to win over the evangelical right-wingers, many of whom have difficulty with the notion of a woman in a position of authority (though I guess they did grudgingly accept Rice as Secretary of State). Is McCain going after centrist/moderate Republicans who have felt disenfranchised by their own party, many of whom have declared their intention to support Obama/Biden? She’s also younger than Obama, which may undermine McCain’s attacks on Obama’s inexperience.

I wonder what Geraldine Ferraro has to say about this?

At any rate, this campaign has already been making history. McCain’s upped the ante, and I commend his choice, but I still plan on voting for Obama, and so should you.

Someone get the barf bags.

I admit that I haven’t been following the Democratic National Convention. I know that I’ve missed some truly amazing speeches. Michelle Obama’s speech was, I’m told, nothing short of awe-inspiring, and Hilary Clinton’s motion to nominate Barack for President was apparently on the same level. I also missed Bill Clinton’s speech, which is kind of a bummer, because, well, I like Bill. I did find this quote from his speech, though, and I love it:

“People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example, than by the example of our power.”

That’s just brilliant. And so true.

Now, every Presidential campaign will bring with it some moments of interest, one or two moments of great inspiration (very few, though I will say Obama is the first candidate whose speeches I’ve actually downloaded to my MP3 player to listen to later on), and some moments of profound, truly inspired idiocy. McCain, a man who has never been afraid to stoop to levels of campaigning which really ought to be beneath a man of his stature, provided one already with his earlier speech comparing Obama to Paris Hilton. More recently, though, he’s demonstrated how willing he is to drop to what many of us would consider the bottom of the cesspool, then grab a shovel and start digging.

Consider, for example, this excerpt from a May speech of Obama’s:

Strong countries and strong Presidents talk to their adversaries. That’s what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That’s what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That’s what Nixon did with Mao. I mean, think about it: Iran, Cuba, Venezuela — these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying, ‘We’re going to wipe you off the planet.’ And ultimately, that direct engagement led to a series of measures that helped prevent nuclear war and over time allowed the kind of opening that brought down the Berlin Wall.

I think this is a good speech. He acknowledges the threats that face our nation today, but emphasizes that we must talk to those that oppose us. We never cut off relations with the Soviet Union, even though they were a much bigger threat to us than, say, Iran. McCain’s campaign took this speech, did some quote mining, and pulled up the phrase:

Iran… tiny…

then squatted and squirtted out this ad:

This ad strikes me as so blatantly misleading as to be just plain ludicrous, and it’s downright shameful how willing the McCain campaign is to appeal to the ignorance of the voting public. Of course, it’s also frightening how well this tactic works; Bush Jr. managed to stick around for eight years using pretty much the same strategy.

As always, things are going to simply get more ridiculous, more offensive, and more appalling before they get better.

Someone get the barf bags.

(Tip o’ the hat to for the info.)

Politics: Like I know what I'm talking about.

California Tradition

In order to bring a fresh take on the traditional Overdue Budget Party that California throws for several months, Governor Schwarzenegger last week signed an executive order recommending that the state cut pay for all state workers down to the Federal minimum wage, and lay off thousands of part-time and temporary employees. One hopes that he remembers he’s a state worker as well, and that his own salary is adjusted accordingly.

State Controller John Chiang, a Democrat, has stated his intention to flat out refuse to implement any such executive order. He says that Schwarzenegger’s understanding of state law related to state workers’ pay is flawed. And even if Schwarzenegger is right, then the state simply won’t be able to implement the pay cut. The state’s payroll software was written twenty years ago, in COBOL, a language that nobody programs anymore, except for retirees and part time workers. It’s been patched together with duct tape over the years, and no one’s really touched it since Y2K. This is kind of funny. It means that the very people who would end up rewriting the payroll software to implement the pay cuts were themselves let go. Irony. Ur doin it rite.

Election News

Am I the only one who thinks John McCain’s campaign took a wrong turn on the way to nasty and ended up in downright surreal? The ad that called Obama a “celebrity” and compared him to Paris Hilton was, well, inspired, in its own back of the short bus kind of way. The best part of the ad, though, was Paris Hilton’s response. “I guess that means I’m running for President”. The real shocker, of course, was her coherent delivery of an energy plan which sort of makes sense (though I question whether limited offshore drilling will provide any short term relief). Here’s Hilton’s response, in case you haven’t seen it:

Response from the McCain camp:

“Sounds like Paris is taking the ‘All of the Above’ energy approach that John McCain has advocated — both alternatives and drilling. Perhaps the reality is that Paris has a more substantive energy plan than Barack Obama.”

This amuses me because the plan Hilton talks about is pretty much the same as Obama’s plan anyway. But that McCain’s team has chosen to view Hilton’s spot as a de facto endorsement only strengthens my notion that someone in there got their political science classes mixed up with their “Introduction to Surrealism” art class. It hasn’t quite got the Dada-ist feel that Mike Gravel’s ads did last year, but it’s bizarre nonetheless.

Or maybe I’m just too old for these newfangled politics.

I’ll leave Gravel to finish things off for you.

Why does Rachael Ray hate America?

I’ve never been a big fan of Rachael Ray. I don’t dislike her, but I don’t go out of my way to follow her on any of her shows or read her books or anything like that. Like Al Roker, she’s just one of the thousands of celebrities in the world that don’t arouse any passion in me one way or the other. I think she’s kind of cute, but that’s about where my interest in her ends.

But she’s aroused passion in the minds of conservative commentators like Michelle Malkin. In a recent ad for Dunkin’ Donuts, Ray wore a white scarf with a black paisley design. Here is a picture of Ray with said scarf:

Personally, I’m interested in peeking in to the alternate universe in which Malkin and her ilk live. In that universe, Ray’s scarf looks like a Keffiyeh, the traditional head dress of Islamic men. For the sake of comparison, here is a photograph of Yassir Arafat wearing a keffiyeh in 1999:

I suppose they’re both white scarves with a black pattern, and that makes them sort of similar. So, naturally, this makes Ray a terrorist sympathizer. I suspect the Jihadists who are out to destroy America (and I’m willing to bet there are a lot fewer than Malkin wants us to believe) would have issues with Ray’s "keffiyeh" for a few reasons. For one thing, Ray’s wearing it as a scarf, and not as a head dress. And second, it’s a woman wearing it. And third, the woman who’s wearing it is exposing a lot of skin. From what I understand, these guys are very hardline conservatives within Islam, sort of the Eric Randall Rudoph of their faith, with bigger guns and more organization. But then, these are facts, and as Stephen Colbert has pointed out, reality has a well-known liberal bias. (I am willing to admit that I don’t know everything about fundamentalist Islam, so correct me if I’m wrong on these points. But Ray’s scarf still doesn’t look like a keffiyeh. I have in my time known women who’ve worn the keffiyeh and men who did not object, but they were much more liberal types.)

As frequently happens when I hear about the antics of right-wing columnists like Malkin and others, I end up just scratching my head and going, "Huh?"

The saddest part about this kerfuffle — aside from the fact that there are people who actually listen to Malkin — is that Dunkin’ Donuts has actually pulled the ad in question. "Due to the possibility of misperception", they say. Malkin claims victory and says, "It’s refreshing to see an American company show sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to Islamic jihad and its apologists.". She also said, earlier, "The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad."

For me, it’s disappointing that there are Americans who continue to buy into misguided and xenophobic cluelessness like Malkin’s. The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is a headdress for men. And it is not made of silk. And it doesn’t have a paisley pattern. And it looks nothing like what Ray’s wearing in the ad.

I don’t support censorship in any way, but there are times when I really wish that people like Michelle Malkin would just grow the fuck up already.