Thursday, May 15, 2008

An imaginary conversation

Person1: "Hey you stupid Hillary Clinton supporters, stop supporting that stupid bitch and start helping us bring the party together!"

Person2: "I actually prefer Clinton to Obama, and while I'm not so small minded as to vote for John McCain over Barack Obama, I'm not exactly happy that you just called me stupid and called the smart Democratic woman I support a stupid bitch, and that, in the name of unifying the party."

Person1: "Wow, this is awkward. Hey, 'Weirdo, could you get me out of this? 'Weirdo? Could you at least fade to..."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Really stupid questions

Not so fast, said Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson.

"I think Democrats across the country tomorrow will be asking themselves why Senator Obama — with all of his money, with all of the great press, with voters being told he was the inevitable nominee — why did Senator Obama lose West Virginia by 15 points or so?" he asked on NBC's "Today" show.

"What does it say about his candidacy at this date that he can't beat Senator Clinton in a key swing state?"

It says that he doesn't have secret mind control powers.

I mean, what, is Clinton such a sucky candidate that no one likes her, anywhere? No.
So how can Obama get people who prefer her to vote for him? Short of, you know, secret mind control powers?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Elitism and snobbery

There's an argument I keep seeing raised. Democrats are elitist, they say.

Well, you know something? I am an elitist. If I want a physicist to do some tricky theory work, I want Stephen Hawking. If I am picking basketball players for a team, I want Lebron James or Kobe Bryant, or, hell, if I get to go back in time, how about Wilt Chamberlain or Julius Erving in their primes? And if I want a President, I want one who can obey the law, not start wars he can't finish, not start wars at all unless there's no other choice, not set a policy of allowing torture "as long as we think that they might be really bad people", and, hey, just for giggles, can pronounce it "noo-clee-er" not "noo-cyu-ler".

Sorry, that last bit is a little petty, but my feeling is, if you're going to be in charge of nuclear weapons, and chose to be in the public eye, you lose your right to be sloppy. How you present yourself is how you want to be judged, and I don't want a President who likes pretending to be sloppy with the most dangerous weapons in existence.

But anyway... Democrats are elitist is the charge. Which is ridiculous, because there's lots of times when you do want to pick the elite. As the old joke goes, the battle doesn't always go to the strong, or the race to the swift, but that's the way to bet.

Of course, the Republicans want to pretend that strength and swiftness don't matter so much as striving. George W. Bush doesn't have to be smart or a good speaker or a wise leader... but he believes in himself and he believes in America.

And he's got us stuck in a war in the Middle East that some folks say we should leave, and the other folks say we can't leave. So how's that working out for us? America's military, pinned down in some pissant little Middle Eastern nation, but George W. Bush thinks he can, just like the little engine that could!

The thing is, the Republicans don't really oppose elites. They just haven't got the leaders who can measure up. Their candidate this year isn't going to talk "family values", not when he dumped his wife to marry into money. Oh, right, and he's a war hero, because he was tortured by the Vietnamese, can't forget that. And when he faced down the Bush administration (with Bush insisting on the right to torture), his "compromise" was a bill that handed the definition of what constitutes torture to, Survey Says... the Bush administration. Who already had once decided that it wasn't torture unless the pain was like you were dying. Nice going, John McCain!

The Republicans know you need the elite, the people who are really good at what they do. But they want to tag the Democrats as nasty people, so they use the term elitist. Why?

Because there's another word they want to use, and can't... because everyone can see it's not true.

The word they're trying to use is "snob". What's the difference between an elitist and a snob? Well, an elitist about coffee wants the best coffee around. He might spend several hundred bucks on a special coffee maker, or a hundred bucks on a coffee grinder (Uh... guilty :-) ). A snob, on the other hand, berates you because you're okay drinking any old cup of joe from the local mini-mart. "How can you drink that swill?" asks the snob.

An elitist can be a snob, of course; there's no reason that one precludes the other. But a non-snob elitist will be sitting next to you, glaring at the snob, and take a sip of his coffee and then admit the snob is right... this isn't good coffee. But it's coffee... it's got caffeine in it. Don't let the snob talk down to you, because what you like is okay.

The Republicans want you to think that the Democrats are snobs, that they look down upon other folks. And how do they do it? Hey, Obama was talking to some farmers (in a state where some farmers grow arugula) and asked if any of them had seen the price of arugula in Whole Foods. Hah! the Republicans say; he's a snob. He shops at Whole Foods and eats arugula!

Except he's not. Do you see him looking down on folks? No. But he's different, you see. He shops at Whole Foods. He eats food with funny sounding names! And if he's different, that means he's bad, he's not as good as the Republicans, who don't talk about Whole Foods or arugula.

So, in short, they want you to think Barack Obama is a snob. Why? Because people who aren't like the Republican norm are bad people, not good, solid Republican-like people. That's right, you should be like the Republican image consultants think you should be, and if you aren't, they'll look down their nose at you. "How can you drink that swill?" they say, pointing to a latte.

Which makes them just like the coffee snob in reverse, doesn't it? "Be like us, or it proves you're terrible." The Republicans have always pretended to like differences, but never have quite gotten the hang of actually accepting them, have they?

Ah, but the arugula bit isn't all they've got on Barack Obama, is it? There's the whole "cling to religion" and all that crap, right?

Folks, everyone who follows politics has heard the refrain. How do the Republicans win elections? The strategy is "God, guns, and gays," and now they've added anti-immigrant sentiment to the mix. Obama told the simple truth: a lot of folks are voting based upon religion, upon gun rights, upon opposition to gay rights, immigration, etc.. If you listen to his whole statement, he's saying he can offer them something better than a bunch of talk about what a Good Christian he is, or how much he loves guns, or how he thinks gay rights are divisive, or about how we should build a 200 foot tall wall along the Mexican border.

He's saying he thinks he can offer folks in small towns and rural areas some real substance, not a lot of talk, not a lot of identity politics. That's his goal; that's how he wants to win the election.

Sure, he didn't put his words through a Republican-Approved Spin Machine. He didn't say what he wanted to say as well as he could have. But snobbery? It ain't there, folks... he's saying he can offer better substance than the Republican spin-game will, and if he can, he'll win people's votes.

Imagine that... a politician saying that he thinks he can earn people's votes by giving them what they really want, instead of a select set of talking points.

That's not snobbery. That's a politician who is actually trying to do his job and do it right.

Friday, May 02, 2008

You know, it's time to laugh...

There's a four way intersection, and 75 feet down each road stands a different figure.

On one road, we have the Easter Bunny.

On one road, we have Santa Claus

On one road, we have an idiot who thinks George W. Bush was a decent President.

On the final road, we have a person of good mind, heart, and spirit who still thinks George W. Bush was a decent President.

In the intersection, there's a sack of gold. Who gets it?

The idiot, of course. None of the other three exist!

It's become clear that statement of the obvious isn't going to work, right? It's become clear that cogent arguments won't sway the people who are supposed to be in charge, right?

Well, maybe it's time to laugh.

Maybe it's time to stop trying to be serious.

Maybe it's time to simply point out the obvious with mockery.

Dick Cheney is reportedly appalled by reports that his old company, Haliburton, might have had soldiers drinking and bathing in unclean water. He got on the phone right away, and insisted that only he and George W. are allowed to put our armed forces up shit creek!

This one's a verbal joke, because you gotta say it just right to get the full effect.

A southern working class couple named Awlin wanted to start a small business, and settled on a plant nursery. Alas, they were in a flood plain. This was good for the soil - lots of rich nutrients get dropped on the soil during a flood - but not so good for the plants. Every time the river rose, they lost a bunch of their stock. They finally got it fixed, though, and started selling woody perennials. After all, everyone knows... When-Awlin's floods, Bush don't do nothing!

Yeah, I'm no comedian; I don't think anyone's questioning that now. But gads.

Think about it, folks. A good many people have spent over seven years fighting the good fight, and by now, it's clear that the Congress isn't going to do anything, and there's going to be bozos on TV, on the radio, and in print who will defend the bozos in control.

Maybe it's time to loosen up a bit, and look at the humorous side.

No, it's no laughing matter. The US has tortured prisoners, beaten some to death, and there are no proper investigations, no meaningful prosecutions. We find out that Bush's top advisers met to discuss their policy on torture, with his knowledge, and no one cares.

George W. has ordered our military to go to war, causing the deaths of probably hundreds of thousands of folks. The costs are astounding, both in lives and in money, to say nothing of military preparedness, and opportunity costs (i.e.: our troops couldn't track down bin Ladin because, duh they're tied up in Iraq).

Bush has admitted breaking the law, figuring that since he did it in secret, no one could prove anything until he'd had a chance to hide all the evidence.

Hey: how is George W. Bush breaking the law in secret like an alcoholic with a keg of beer? Neither one of them knows when to stop!

It's not funny, but sometimes... sometimes the only thing you can do in the face of tragedy is laugh.

Maybe it's time we tried. Just a bit.

Let's see, there's revenue, there's profit...

I saw an interesting argument - interesting in this case means "totally bogus" - about how health insurance companies don't have much to do with health care costs. Their profits are relatively low on health insurance, so how could they have a lot to do with health care costs?

I reckon that a member of the health insurance industry pushed the idea, hoping someone would pick it up. It'd certainly be likely to get the Republicans defending it, because this kind of logic appeals to Republicans.

"Sure! You pay premiums, subtract out the profit, and the remainder is the benefits paid!"

As if insurance companies don't have expenses other than the payment of benefits.

They have their crowds of paper handlers and people handlers, their buildings and maintenance; they have their lawyers and occasional doctor, and bureaucrats. They have their accountants and their clerks and their support staff, their actuaries and their PR divisions, who need to spread idiotic stories about how they don't add any real expense to the health care system with all of these things.

There are going to be a lot of stupid arguments going around about health care in the near future. Assume that any statement intended to benefit a business either contains a lie or is misleading. A round of "spot the lie" is good for the brain.

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