Tuesday, December 29, 2009

E pluribus stupid

In “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” Jared Diamond examines the decisions that various cultures have made that have led to their own extinction. He famously wonders what went through the mind of the guy who cut down the last tree on Easter Island - if you ask me it was probably something about how his god had ordained that man would have dominion over the Earth.

He also quotes one of the survivors of the Rwandan genocide, who explains the killings in his village, including the murder of his wife and four of his children, this way:

“The people whose children had to walk barefoot to school killed the people who could buy shoes for [their children.]”

Readers, if that statement doesn’t send chills down your spine, then you haven’t been watching enough Fox News.

The genocide in Rwanda wasn’t just a centuries-old tribal conflict taken to its terrifyingly logical extreme, it was also a culture war; a war in which politicians, motivated by a desire to stay in power, urged the Hutu majority to rise up against the Tutsi, a tribe they characterized as privileged snobs who were attempting to take over and impose their elitist agenda on the hardworking regular Joe Hutus.

Yes, if the Tutsis had lattes, they would have been swilling them. Consider them the liberal elite in this cautionary tale. And while you’re at it, consider that Rwanda was a land in which a growing populace found itself in constant competition with each other for a dwindling amount of resources: money, land, food, jobs. In a situation like that, it became advantageous for the rulers to designate one group as an oppressive “other,” and set about to blame the country’s problems on that other, rather than work together to sacrifice and conserve what resources they had, and to agree on methods to renew resources for the future.

Got the chills yet?

And once all the Tutsis in any particular village had been rounded up and killed, the mobs would then turn their machetes on fellow Hutus that they didn’t like: those who owned land or cattle that they coveted, those who were educated in far-off places…

Those whose children wore shoes to school.

Apparently the leaders of Rwanda had to do little more than point and say “he thinks he’s better than you,” for gangs of murderers to turn and converge with a force deadly enough to rank Rwanda as second only to Cambodia in terms of percentage of the populace killed by their own countrymen since the end of WW2.

Now, I’m not, I swear, attempting to force some overworked comparison down your throat. I’m not saying that what happened there could happen here. I’m just saying that…well…I’m just saying.

I’m just saying that, as Jon Stewart pointed out, one of the most successful contributors on Fox News, Gretchen Carlson, attended Oxford, graduated from Stanford with distinction, plays classical violin, and yet on television, she pretends that she doesn’t know what the word “czar” means. She also emphasizes that she has to Google economic terms in order to understand them. Now, why would she do that? Why would someone who is paid to talk about politics and policy on television want to behave as though the only thing she brings to the table is the ability to navigate a QWERTY? Is it because she understands that it wouldn’t do to appear to have more going on upstairs than the average viewer of her network?

Unfortunately, Fox News isn’t alone in fetishizing ignorance. I mean, come on, we live in a country where we are gleefully admonished for being dumber than 5th graders by a man who's made his fortune unironically espousing the charms of living a life of unapologetic ignorance and bigotry.

Even on NPR, a news organization so obsessed with neutrality that even their test of the emergency broadcast system is followed by an opposing point of view, in a story about an “emerging leader of the Dallas Tea Party,” that "leader" was given whole minutes of national airtime to enlighten us with the following explanation of why Obama “annoys” them:

"You know, it's like I wake up every morning, and there's something new on the news that's upsetting that I read about that he does. I mean, if you said, Lorie, list for me everything that he has done that has upset you since he's become president, I don't think there's any way I could list it all. There's so much. You know, the fact that he apologizes for our country every time he goes overseas. I don't know that I've ever heard him say anything good about America. If you look at the way he speaks, the way you - he talks about our country, if you look at the programs and the things he tries to put into place, it really appears that he does not love our country like most Americans do, and like past presidents do."

And the reporter interviewing this emerging political "leader" responds by saying what, do you think?

a. Can you give an example of an Obama administration policy that you oppose and tell us why you oppose it?

b. When, or during what overseas speech, did you feel that Obama was apologizing for our country?

c. Other presidents have advocated policies very similar to Obama’s. What specifically has he done that you would characterize him as not loving his country?

d. Nothing.

If you guessed “d,” you’d be right. The reporter had nothing to say. When faced with an alarmingly colossal show of ignorance about things that really sort of matter from someone they themselves refer to as a local political leader, they opted not to follow up. Why? Did he think that he had stumbled into some kind of political Special Olympics, where everyone gets to win?

Readers, I had dared to believe that the Age of Ignoramus might be on the wane. After drinking deeply from the golden chalice of stupid for eight long years, I thought that maybe, MAYBE we had finally figured out that “CEO presidents” were about as swift as most CEOs are in real life – which is to say, pretty fucking stupid. I mean, look at the U.S. auto company CEOs. In a market where American consumers are clamoring for innovative vehicles such as Toyota Priuses and Smart cars, our home-grown titans of industry decide it’s time to…rerelease the Ford Fiesta?

And I dared to think we were on the intellectual mend because at least that willfully moronic Mike Huckabee had been defeated for the 2008 presidential nomination. I dared because while I believed McCain to be an unabashed butt boy for unregulated capitalism disguised as a reformer who gives a shit about anyone other than himself, at least he wasn’t running on a platform of God Hates Book Learnin’.

But I had dared too soon. Because McCain brought to the national stage a running mate so dim that she made the Three Stooges look like Nobel Prize Winners - and not Peace Prize winners, either – I mean one of the hard prizes. The very personification of the blind, the halt, and the lame, this woman captured the heart of about half of America. Unfortunately, it’s the half that’s armed.

Just like her intellectual doppelganger George W. Bush, the jokes about the stupidity of Palin could not compete with the reality that assaulted us like so many drunken baby daddies every time she opened her mouth. Palin’s mental shortcomings were not so much epitomized by her failure to, at Katie Couric’s urging, name one publication that she read, but by the fact that she later characterized the query as a “gotcha” question.

Stupid people love Palin, and it’s hard to imagine a reason why other than she makes them feel less stupid. She also tells them that their dumb-ass religious bigotry is straight from the mouth of God. You can just imagine how relieved they must feel, hearing that! She’s also the living embodiment of the notion that it’s okay to suckle at the government teat, as long as you simultaneously condemn everyone else who wouldn’t mind a squirt or two.

Yes, it’s the numbskull triple-play, the George W. Bush hat trick, and it hasn’t gone out of style at all, not even close.

Tammany Hall was a corrupt political organization that ruled New York City for decades, and it was the poor that suffered under it the most. But Tammany leaders continued to be elected by the very people they victimized. The same men who let the docks rot and the buildings collapse and the dead horses pile up in the streets, also came down into the slums before every election, and handed out pennies and glasses of beer. And all the Joe Six-Tankards decided that hey, those politician guys might not be so bad after all. They understood their needs. They were just like them: concerned about negroes being able to marry, worried about illegal Irish immigrants taking over their culture, and convinced that the Italians were religious extremists beholden to a foreign leader who wanted them murdered in their beds.

And so it goes, readers. So it motherfucking goes. For all our steps forward technologically, we still fall for the same shill every goddamn time.

We’re about to cut down the last tree on our own big Easter Island, but we don’t care, because we heard somewhere that those liberal pro-tree scientists are conspiring to exaggerate the benefits of trees, anyway.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Peace On Earth

It couldn't hurt.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

An Immodest Proposal

Wow, seems like you can’t swing a disabled child whose lifetime insurance coverage has been maxed out in this country without hitting some pundit whose take on health insurance reform is based on the notion that using tax dollars to fund universal coverage is akin to having his pocket picked by some deadbeat who is too poor (read lazy) to buy insurance for himself.

I couldn’t agree more. And if US citizens are going to continue to die because they can’t afford to buy the health care their body needs, then excuse me, but they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.

But believe me, the cost of health care is peanuts compared to what US taxpayers are paying to support a system that hasn’t been relevant to their own lives for many, many years. But because the operating budget is primarily comprised of state and local dollars, and only about ten percent on average comes from the federal government, it’s difficult to get the national pundits worked up enough to lobby for its demise.

Of course I’m talking about public education.

Like most responsible adults, I don’t have children. And I fail to see why I should have my pocket picked to pay for the progeny of those less fiscally conscientious than I.

Look readers, I need roads to drive on. I need this fakakta LA freeway system improved so that I can get to work faster. I need the FAA to get its shit together before I have to do any more holiday flying. I need the CDC to get me some of that swine flu vaccine. I need farming subsidies that will quit propping up livestock feed and instead bring down the price of the things I eat, and I really, really, need more public radio and television funding so I don’t have to sit through so many pledge drives.

And while I’m at it, I would like a nice subsidy on a new football stadium so that LA can attract an NFL team, and local meatheads will stay contained in their homes and sports bars on Sunday and stay out of the public places that I like to frequent for one goddamn idiot-free day a week if that’s not too much to ask.

Those are the things I need. And yet my money is going toward an educational system I don’t need anymore, and couldn’t be admitted to even if I did. Say, for instance, I should discover that algebra is useful in life. Well, I’ve forgotten algebra. It’s not my fault. I only have so much memory available, after all, and operating my TV/DVR is not getting easy easier. So, in order to make room in my brain, algebra had to be sacrificed, along with chemistry, world capitals, and pre-WW2 European heads of state. That’s right readers, Franz Ferdinand is just a indie band to me. So what would happen if I showed up at my local high school, and asked for an algebra refresher? I mean, after I was tackled to the ground, frisked, and held for observation? Why, they’d tell me to take a hike, of course, and I’d have to find a way to pay for algebra myself. Whereas, any snot-nosed brat with a pencil and a zip code can walk into their own local completely free-of-charge school and avail him or herself of thirteen years of education that is no longer offered to me – and all on my dime.

So how is that fair? I’m the responsible one. I’m the one not taking off work to watch some badly-performed recital or some soccer game in which one would be hard pressed to determine which side were the more untalented. I’m the one who uses my sick days when I’m sick, and not because my kid’s day care isn’t insured for a fever above 99 degrees. Let’s just say it - I’m the one who figured out how birth control works, and for that I am punished not only with the theft of untold thousands of dollars from my hard-earned salary, but also by having to hear, year after tedious year, about how little good my money is doing, and how generally stupid those ungrateful brats are for the passport to the good life that I am subsidizing for them.

Well, I’m finished being gracious about the whole goddamn thing. Let the fucking rugrats pay for their own goddamn education, and if they can’t, let their parents do it for them. And until they do, I don’t want to hear one more person with children in public school complain about universal health coverage, or unemployment assistance, or the stimulus package, or even the goddamn price of a fucking postage stamp. You free public education people have gotten away with the biggest fucking socialist scam ever pulled on the fine and patient and totally non-hypocritical American public, and I don’t want to hear another peep out of you.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

#25 Humorless Blogger

Much has been made in the last couple of weeks of the iPhone app released by PepsiCo’s AMP “energy drink,” and the feminists whose criticism of it caused it to be removed. The app instructed men on how to “score” with 24 different “types” of women by supplying them with pick-up lines tailored to each “type.” It also provided practical information, such as nearby hotels where the “scoring” could take place, and finally, it encouraged men to share a "brag list" that contained the details of the “scoring” via that preferred medium of self-important douchebags everywhere: Twitter.

AMP’s irony-free and apparently straight-faced “apology” was also delivered via Twitter: “Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it’s in bad taste and appreciate your feedback.”

Yes, it’s the classic “I’m sorry if you’re offended” non-apology apology, delivered with preposition-dropping and character-conserving numerical lol speak.

Who could ask for anything more? Surely not the bonerkill feminists, who had criticized the app by once again advancing the tired argument that women were being objectified.

Yes, that old chestnut.

Readers, I would never suggest anything so esoteric and also impossible to prove, statistically. Besides, it’s not as if we’re still living in the ‘80s, when women had to sleep with dogs to gain access to cheap beer. This is the 21st century - an enlightened, post-feminist era when you don’t have to be a GOP broodmare to come terrifyingly close to being terrifying close to the employment of the 25th amendment, but it sure helps.

My argument against AMP, I mean, besides that I find the term “energy drink” to be a hilariously obvious attempt by marketing men to sell a cultural zeitgeist in which a man drinking a “soft drink” would be roughly equivalent to him cutting off his dick and lobbing it into the crowd at Lilith Fair – besides that, my argument against AMP is simply that I find 24 “types” of women to be a fairly confining number.

For example, I find no entry in their list of “types” of women that would advise men on how to score with chicks like that 15-year-old girl in Richmond, California who was gang-raped by ten males after a homecoming dance for two and half hours while as many as 20 other men and boys looked on and recorded photos and video. I mean, sure, she’s proven she’s not difficult to “score” with, but still, you’d expect a conscientious corporation like Pepsi to at least provide guidance on the best ways to inebriate and overcome your average underage girl. Maybe a companion app that figures pounds of resistance times blood alcohol level divided by the number of bros in your posse?

Come on, Pepsi, get on it, before Budweiser beats you to the punch!

Also disappointingly absent from their list of “types” of women is your basic women with power-type deal. Your Nancy Pelosis, your Hilary Clintons, your Sonia Sotomayors. I mean, sure the app offers “married,” and “businesswoman,” and “political girl,” and even “women’s studies major,” but none of those “types” really adequately covers a group with such aggressive unwillingness to concede to the broham desire for conquest that is so fundamental to his nature, not to mention Madison Avenue’s bottom line. So exactly how does one go about tapping a choice piece of wise Latina? Thanks to Pepsi, a bro will never know. Seriously, they could at least offer a few strategies for getting around the security detail, because in spite of their gender makeup the Secret Service has in the past shown a real reluctance to play wingman.

Sadly, I find myself also absent from AMP’s helpful guide to the 24 flavors of female. My age and sexual appetite might suggest I fall under “cougar,” I suppose, but then again, I think I am disqualified from that group by my aversion to stupid young men. So, in the interest of post-feminist helpfulness, I now offer to iPhone app programmers the outline of a guide to “scoring” with me.

1. Get a real drink
2. Take off that stupid hat
3. Put down your fucking iPhone

See? I’m easy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

hold on

I'm not gone, just buried. I swear I'll be back.

Friday, October 09, 2009

A free ride when you've already paid

Did Obama win the Nobel Peace Prize for not being George W. Bush?

Maybe, although, hey, let’s not underestimate the value of not being George W. Bush.

Across the country, the heads of right-wing chicken hawks are exploding, as they are confronted once again with proof of their own ideological isolation, and the possibility that their emotional investment in their belief system might be preventing them from seeing a more moderate truth.

One dinkus I saw this morning even quoted Neville Chamberlain. Yes, really. I mean, come on, right wingers, quoting Neville Chamberlain is so 2008. Neville Chamberlain quotes are the wingnut version of Tuesdays with Morrie. So here’s the quote:

"I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. And now I recommend you to go home and sleep quietly in your beds."

The above was said after Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement in 1938, which essentially was the treaty version of giving a shark a nice big piece of chum in the hope that it will agree to stop being a shark. The right-winger who was quoting Chamberlain was attempting to make a point about appeasement and Iran. Because Obama, who has agreed to actually talk to the leaders of Iran, is an appeaser. GET IT?

What conservatives miss…um…or rather, one of the myriad of things that conservatives miss in this analogy is that ENGLAND WAS NOT PREPARED TO GO TO WAR. England had fuck all to fight with, people. They were still in the process of building up their armaments, including what would eventually become the truly awesome Royal Air Force of WW2.


But the analogy is perhaps apt in an unintended way. Because beginning in the early 1930s, Chamberlain embarked on a controversial policy called rationalisation, in which the obsolete and crumbling industrial infrastructure of the country was knocked down and rebuilt with government funds. As in taxpayers’ moolah. The conservatives in the government (including Churchill) opposed this, shall we say strongly? But it was this initiative that allowed, among other things, for the buildup of the U.K.’s war machine. Until then, the RAF was still flying WW1-type biplanes, for pete’s sake. If England had entered WW2 before 1939, it would have been fighting against Germany’s state-of-the-art Messerschmitt with what was essentially Snoopy’s Sopwith Camel.

So, I’m not going to speculate about whether Chamberlain would have entered WW2, and at what time. His support eroded, and he stepped down to make way for Churchill, so we will never know. What we do know, however, is that he negotiated peace as he prepared for war, and I really find it interesting that any person claiming to be a conservative would find fault with such an eminently practical policy.

Also, for all those conservatives out there who use the Chamberlain quote in an attempt at irony…please don’t. Don’t attempt irony. Because irony is, contrary to popular belief, nothing like rain on your wedding day. Irony requires self-awareness, and an ability to see situations from a perspective other than your own self-centered one. So you kinda suck at it.

A much more relevant ironic observation we could make, as the world attempts, with this Nobel Peace Prize, to nudge the American people toward peace, involves Iran. Because I personally find it ironic that during the Clinton administration, when Iran elected a liberal leader, it was the opposition conservatives in that country’s government who stymied progress to end their isolation. Even now, as the people of Iran once again show overwhelming support for a more liberal government, it is the conservatives who keep the country from agreeing to the U.N. initiatives, and they do so because they object to a policy of appeasement.

Perhaps the conservatives of the U.S. and Iran would agree to duke it out in some remote corner of the world, so that those who are truly interested in peace could go about making it manifest. I would be in favor of this policy. And as for that remote corner where they may proceed to battle to the death – may I suggest Alaska?

Many thanks to my blogger friend SJ for the inspiration for this post.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oh, God! Book III

Some would say that God is clearly punishing Georgia with floods of Biblical proportion. The question, I guess, is why? When presuming to know the mind of God, it’s important to get your facts straight, otherwise you might, for example, jump to the conclusion that God hates fags.

We now know this to be false. God doesn’t hate gay people. He hates people who hate gay people. Actually, God might be a total fag hag, although the evidence on this is not yet in. We’ll have to see what kind of weather He dishes up for Maine this winter.

Personally, I don’t think Georgia is being punished. That would be cruel. I think what’s happening is that Georgia is experiencing what President Obama would call a “teachable moment,” and no, I’m not talking about its 2004 referendum to bring back the Confederate flag.

That Georgia’s two Republican senators are opposing health care reform is not a stunning revelation to anyone, even to those north of the Mason-Dixon. However, a few people on both sides were perhaps mildly surprised when Senator Saxby Chambliss warned Obama that he should address the joint session of Congress “with humility,” even though, according to Chambliss, “that’s not his inclination.”

Uppity negro-esque comments aside, or, on second thought, perhaps not aside, Georgians seem to like Chambliss, and his chances of reelection are good. He’s a tough campaigner! What other candidate with a deferment from serving in Vietnam would dare to compare his rival, a wounded Vietnam vet - a triple amputee, no less – to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden in a campaign ad? That takes balls, my friends, and Saxby Chambliss has them in no short supply.

You know what else takes balls? Joining the other Republican Senator from Georgia to vociferously oppose Obama’s stimulus plan, then arranging for a healthy portion of the funds to go to your own constituents.

To say nothing of the two senators’ recent pleas to our president to declare Georgia a federal disaster area, thus enabling the state to access federal funds and resources for rescue and clean-up.

Of course I would never, ever, deny my brothers and sisters in the great state of Georgia any help that they needed. We are, after all, one nation, and we fought hard to keep it that way. At least, my side did.

What I would suggest to Georgia, is that when they watch the news, and they see the victims of the floods of their state being sheltered & comforted with my tax dollars, that they stop and consider that we are all in this together, and that doesn’t mean that we’re socialists. And if they were fortunate enough to have purchased the flood insurance available to them that is subsidized with my tax dollars, then maybe they should also consider that what we do for property, we should do for people.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Just one more little story for 9/11

Several days after 9/11, my then-husband and I ordered dinner from our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant. When the delivery guy pulled into our driveway, I saw that it was the same guy as always, the one who loved our little mutt, Comet, so much that he could barely tear himself away from her after his business had been concluded. So I opened the front door to let her run to him, as usual, and he knelt down to pet her and rub her ears, as usual. A moment later, he looked up, and I saw tears running down his face. I was confused, and he turned back and gestured to a sign that my husband had hand-lettered and stuck in the ground in our front yard.

The sign said "Justice, not war."

"Thank you for that," he said. "Thank you." He wiped his tears with the back of his hand and walked toward me, handing me our order. "It has been so hard. We get calls all day long. Threatening calls. And my cousin...someone threw a rock through his window."

"That's terrible," I said. "That's shocking," I said, though I did not really think it was shocking.

"We are Lebanese," he continued. "We are Christians. We are not Muslims."

"It shouldn't matter," I countered, softy. He looked at me, and I shrugged.

"You are good people," he said finally.

"So are you."

After I paid him and he drove away, it occurred to me, I mean I think it really hit me hard for the first time that a tremendous price was about to be paid for what had just happened, and it was going to be paid by all the wrong people.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Take your stinking paws off me

Does anyone remember the old short story, “The Monkey’s Paw,” in which the holder of a magical talisman is granted three wishes, but because of a curse from a dead Indian fakir, the wishes are granted in the worst possible way?*

For example, in the story, the couple who held the monkey’s paw wished for two hundred pounds, and they received it – but as compensation for the death of their son who was horribly mangled at work in an industrial accident immediately after the wish was made.

I don’t know about you, dear readers, but since November 4, 2008, I have been living the curse of the monkey’s paw.

First of all, I wished for a fairly elected president, the first fairly elected president in eight years, if you ask me. And we got one. Oh, we got one, all right. The only problem is that, during the W years, people who spoke of Bush’s illegitimacy were told that they were “Sore Loserman,” and to get over it and move on. Yes, we were told by the media that it didn’t matter who really got the most votes or what either side did and whether it was legal, because the Supreme Court had crowned Prince Bush and why the fuck are you nitpicky Democrats still harping on this anyways? But now, now, NOW those same Republicans are entertaining/agreeing with/refusing to denounce loonies who have taken the most enraged and unhinged ramblings ever made against W as some kind of motherfucking dare. It’s as if they took the craziest theories the left had to offer, and multiplied them by an order of magnitude and spewed out this fucking batshit crazy bitch:

This crazy-ass bitch is interviewed on television news shows, people. And every couple of months, she reaches into her big quilted bag of insanity and pulls out another fucking document that some ignorant hillbilly who didn’t bother to look up what fucking country Mombasa was in, in 1961 created at his local combination Kinkos/Pizza Hut/Militia Supply Superstore and starts waving it around like it’s some kind of lost version of the Constitution in which our forefathers finally had the foresight to include “Oh, and by the way, no negroes allowed.”

Which brings me to my next wish, which was for the citizens of this country to finally break the monopoly that old white dudes have had on the highest office in the land.

That one was granted as well, but it wasn’t long before the cruel twist of its granting was revealed: The man who broke the monopoly, a half white, half African man who grew up in a white family in America and married into an African-American family, is destined to spend his time in office answering to repeated charges that he is a racist. (Racist against white people, that is, just in case the diversity of his background might lead you to become confused about which part of his family he hates.)

And not only is the man who broke the color barrier accused, time and time again, of racial prejudice, but so is his wife. And his church. And his friends. And his appointees.

Readers, let us ponder for a moment. Let us ponder all the doughy old patriarchal windbags we have elected in the last century, and all the incredible good-ole-boy white power shit that has gone down in the Oval Office and its environs. I mean, wow. Remember Reagan’s support of apartheid? And all that coded “states’ rights” crap? Remember W courting Bob Jones University? And when his dad called his half-Latino grandchildren “the little brown ones”? Or, for that matter, when his mother said that Katrina victims living in the Astrodome were lucky to have the upgrade from their regular living conditions, and that it was “scary” that they might all stay in Texas? On the other side of the aisle, Truman never met a racial epithet he didn’t like. And Nixon…well…I mean, come on. He was Nixon. He didn’t invent white male Christian paranoia, but he pretty much perfected it. And yet, where were the cries of racism then? Where was the endless media examination? Considering the shit that these guys pulled, you’d think there’d be a little more serious public dialogue on the question of their racial attitudes. Or, in fact, any. But no.

When you think about it, it’s quite a feat that the first black president would be the one whose administration ends up being perceived by many as one peopled almost entirely by racists. It’s such an incredible feat of balls-out stupefying chutzpah that it could only be the work of the curse.

My third wish, if you haven’t figured it out already, was for health care reform. And, true to the nature of my little simian talisman, our president’s efforts to save the lives of Americans have been significantly stymied by charges that – natch – he is trying to kill Americans. Another goal of the reform is to decrease a rapidly expanding deficit, fueled by the cost of health care and health insurance. Of course, the effort to squash health care reform also charges – say it with me – that reform will only expand the deficit. And in the end, it matters not that our president is trying to save government-run health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, because those who shout him down are convinced that he is trying to destroy government-run health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, while also simultaneously never realizing that Medicare and Medicaid are government-run.

Whew! Readers, I don’t think I can take another 3 and a half years of this.

But the good news is that I am now out of wishes and the monkey’s paw can no longer wield its awful power. I only hope that the next person who gets a hold of it is not a Democrat. Otherwise Rush Limbaugh will indeed be found murdered – but Al Franken will be arrested for the crime.

*Yes, it was also made into a “Simpsons” episode, okay? In case you haven’t noticed yet, everything has been made into a “Simpsons” episode.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sometimes a Dick is just a Dick

Sigmund Freud was the first to describe the phenomenon of transference, in which a subject transfers their feelings for one person to another person, or redirects their feelings toward an event on to a different event. It is not an unusual pathology in a serial killer, for instance, to believe himself to be the victim, and to transfer his feelings of guiltiness and rage onto those he victimizes.

I once had a rather difficult time with a mentally ill woman whose MO was transference taken to a stupefying level. She was assigned to the same precinct as me once when I served as a Judge of Election in Chicago.

Chicago. You don’t have to be crazy to be a Judge of Election here – but it helps!

The voting place was in the lobby of a senior center, of course, and of course the judges were all seniors except me. I was doing it for the cash – then 80 clams for about 15 hours of work – nothing to sneeze at when you normally spend your days pretending to fill yuppie coffee cups with decaf for crappy tips. Also, since I was politically active, I found that if you were working as a judge of election, the campaign office couldn’t make you stand outside the polling place on Election Day holding a goddamn placard or handing out fucking leaflets and taking the abuse of people whose inclinations ran toward your candidate’s opponent. The best part is that when I'd inform whoever managed the volunteers that I could not work outside of the polling place on Election Day because I was working inside the polling place, they were usually impressed and believed me to be an even greater martyr for democracy than they did when I was merely a campaign pawn. But really, all I wanted was to be inside in a semi-heated/cooled room on a semi-comfy folding chair, instead of outside in whatever hellish weather Chicago had decided to dish up.

So what for most people would have been a clear case of “I’d rather stick needles in my eyes” ended up being a win-win for me.

I learned a lot of things being a judge of election in Chicago. For one, candidates would absolutely come right into the polling place and bring you candy or donuts or whatever. I mean, in full campaign garb with aides and balloons and buttons and shit. And when I told them they had to leave because it is illegal to electioneer in a polling place, they definitely give me that “you’re new around here, aren’t you?” look.

Plus, there is, or at least there was, pretty much a cop assigned to every precinct in the city. Sometimes they would actually stick around for their entire shift, too. Yeah, Election Day is probably an overtime bonanza for cops. And cops are great to talk to because they have amazing stories. Unlike the seniors, who never seemed to have anything to say except that the folding chairs were very uncomfortable, and that they couldn’t hear me, and that the huge print on the registration documents was too small for them to read and I needed to read it to them so that they could then tell me again that they couldn't hear what I were saying.

Rinse. Repeat.

One year I worked all day with a younger cop who told me he’d been shot three times and stabbed once. All in separate incidents, too. His beat was in the infamous Cabrini Green housing project. I asked him who at HQ had it in for him and he just laughed and shook his head and told me that that was a story for another time. He was a cool guy, though.

That was the same year I had some asshole looking over the voting booth partition at his wife while she was marking her ballot. He was actually pointing at her ballot and criticizing who she was voting for! So, I told him to stop.

Me: Sir, you can’t do that.

Asshole: What? Are you talking to me?

Me: Yes, sir. You can’t spy on people while they’re voting, and you certainly can’t make comments about their choices.

Asshole: It’s okay, she’s my wife. (he resumes his criticism)

Me: I don’t care who she is, sir. You can’t do that.

Asshole: Oh, for Pete’s sake. (to his wife) Will you tell this girl that it’s okay?

Wife: Leave me out of this. I am trying to vote.

Asshole: (to his wife) What?

Me: Sir, if you’re finished, you need to leave the polling place.

Asshole: Are you kidding me?

Me: No.

Asshole: Oh, come on! Who do you think you are?

Me: I’m a Judge of Election, and if you won’t leave because I say so, then I’m sure this nice policeman will show you to the door.

I swear to god readers, that I said exactly that. And I swear to god that that fucking awesome cop took a step forward at that moment and rested one hand on his holstered department-issued .38 revolver, and with the other hand, gestured toward the doorway.

You know, it’s moments like those that make life worth living.

Another time, the polling place was in a firehouse, and we had to set up right alongside the engines. When I went to use the restroom, I noticed that a picture of Mayor Daley (fils), who was then embroiled in some rather nasty negotiations with the firemen’s union, was posted in the middle of their rec room dart board. Let’s just say that Hizzoner had become quite a popular target. In the middle of that Election Day, the firehouse got a call, and all the vehicle doors suddenly went up in preparation for the engines to pull out, and I had to dive on top of the judge’s table to keep our voting records from blowing out the doors and into the middle of Lincoln Avenue.

Or was it Halsted Street? I don’t remember. But I do remember the year with the crazy woman judge. First of all, she was a Republican judge, which was kind of crazy in itself, because there were no discernible Republicans in Chicago, and you usually had to wrangle some Democratic judge into playing the Republican just so you could fulfill your fairness quota and get your polling place open. Anyway, most of the day this crazy Republican Judge of Election sort of yammered away, kind of to herself, taking a moment out, from time to time, to announce to the entire room what tv show she was missing, and what she thought was probably happening on that show at that particular moment.

Then, for no reason that I could fathom, she walked into the middle of the room and decided to speculate, out loud, on the probable ethnic backgrounds of various candidates, and how their ethnicity would affect their ability to perform their jobs. She started by announcing that she was pretty sure that a particular candidate was a Jew, and that Jews were not the most trustworthy of people.

I was stunned. Several voters stared at her with jaws gaping. Seeing as how there was no sympathetic cop around that year to help me out, I grabbed one of her senior friends by the arm and hissed at them all that they had to stop her. They all shrugged. That was who she was, they said. You couldn’t stop her. After several minutes of absolute mortification, I finally thought to suggest to that crazy bitch that she was neglecting her ballot box-stuffing duties, and that seemed to bring an end to her discourse.

The next day, I called the Republican ward office and told them what happened, and said that I wouldn’t want that woman representing my party. I thought it was nice of me, considering how she was making a jackass of herself whilst where a large badge that said “Republican” in bold red letters. The woman on the phone thanked me profusely for calling. I thought that was the end of it.

Until I was called in to testify downtown at a hearing to remove her, officially, from ever being a Judge of Election again.

Yeah. I took 80 bucks away from a crazy old lady.

Anyways, during my testimony, her “defense strategy” was to accuse me of everything she had read in the statement that I’d made regarding her actions on that day. So, the crazy lady would stand up periodically and point at me and say, for example, “That’s nothing! You know what she did? She called the alderman a Jew! In front of everyone!” Or she would say “Well, she said that Mexicans didn't even bother to vote!” Or “Well, she said the ballots didn’t have to total up exactly right!”

And each time, I would reply, “No, that’s what you said.” Over and over, I corrected her, until I was so completely frustrated and worn down that I finally actually contemplated, for a moment, just confessing to everything myself, because it would have been easier than having to answer back to every one of her transparent fucking idiotic lies.

So, I suppose you all heard that Dick Cheney this week accused Obama of “politicizing the Justice Department.”

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Perhaps there are no better words to eulogize Ted Kennedy than those he used to eulogize his own brother Bobby in 1968. It is a brilliant speech that builds to these famous lines:

"My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it."

There was a time when we all thought that that speech would be all Teddy would be remembered for.

Poor Teddy. Teddy the baby brother, the fat one, the fuck up. Teddy who came too late to benefit from the press's reluctance to air the soiled skivvies of the Kennedys. But in the end, Teddy reformed himself and became the best thing he could have become: a wealthy man who fought against his own interests and for the benefit of those less privileged than he.

It is a shame that he died without passing health care reform. If all those senators on the other side of the aisle who have occupied themselves today with expressing their affection for their old nemesis, the Lion of the Senate, would only consider how they might more appropriately honor him.

I know that they don't want to pass a bill that would be viewed as a Democratic success story. Social Security and Medicare were both passed by Democrats, and are two of the most popular, ahem, socialist programs in the history of that legislative body. The Republicans don't want a repeat of those victories, plain and simple. And if you think their obstruction of reform amounts to much more than that, then I have a little bridge in Chappaquiddick I'd like to sell you.

But those distinguished senators should consider that instead of obstructing an acheivement that will save thousands of American lives, and impove millions more, they might instead reflect upon some lesser known words of the Lion:

"Surely we can learn to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us, and become in our own hearts, brothers and countrymen once again...Moral courage is a greater commodity than bravery in battle, or great intelligence. Yet is is the one essential vital quality for those who seek to change the world that yields most painfully to change."

Friday, August 21, 2009

The crowd goes wild

Some of my longtime readers will remember this post from nearly two years ago, in which I rail against the worship of political unicorns.

It starts out like this:

Anyone out there who still believes in a politician who is without strategic lapses of morality, even his or her own morality, please come and stand next to me.

So that I can kick you in the ass.

Look, baby, politicians compromise. That’s what they do. They can not, and do not, get where they are without compromising. A lot. More than the most jaded among us would like, in fact.

Ad infinitum, in perpetuity throughout the universe, forever and ever, amen.

And ends like this:

Because I am tired of you fucking idealistic Democrats. Because once you find out your candidate is human, you become the most tiresome, whining, petulant, bitter people on the face of the earth. You swear you will never vote again, ever! You issue stern warnings to your friends that even though you do not agree on any issue, you will vote Republican, because at least they’re not stupid Democrats! You are the people I see walking around with a martyred expression and a “Ron Paul for President” button. You are the people standing at those tables outside the grocery store, trying to convince me that Lyndon LaRouche is not a card-carrying loon.

And so people, I hope that this little incident from the Obama campaign drives home my point, which is that there is no magic candidate. There is NO ONE running in this race who hasn’t done some pretty stinky things because he or she thought it would help them politically. There are no fairy tale contenders. No Prince Charmings, no wizards, no vaguely Christ-like talking lions – nothing.

Except for Kucinich, who I’m pretty sure is some kind of elf.

Ha! Ha! Kucinich jokes! Remember those?

But I stand by my post, and it’s more relevant now than ever, as scores of lefties begin their quadrannual migration away from the balmy climes of idealism and into the frigid regions of realization that their candidate is, after all, a politician, and no politician has ever succeeded at being a politician without also being a politician.

To translate this into more prosaic language for those who are too busy donating their old Shepard Fairey t-shirts and deleting Will.i.am campaign videos from their hard drives to be able to catch my drift – to translate this for them – Obama is doing the best he can.

Yes, I understand that it’s not good enough for you. And that’s fine. Continue to push for what you want, of course. In fact, please do, because it’s my personal belief that the leftist agenda is where all, or in fact any, hope for us lies. Please, make a stink. Write letters or emails. Vote in online polls. Give your elected representative a piece of your mind, goddammit. Write smug, long-winded political rants on your personal blogs. Please. Really, please. Because without the left, the middle is in the right.

Know what I mean?

What you should please not do, or at least please not do in front of me, is fucking whimper about how disappointed you are that Obama is not who you thought he was. Because who the fuck did you think he was, and, more importantly, who the fuck are you?

Obama will get a health care reform bill with a public option passed if he can. If he can’t…he can’t. Now, you may not like that. I don’t like it. I think a health care reform bill without a public option is fairly close to being a fucking oxymoron, and I’m not alone, by the way. And you may disagree with what constitutes the “can’t,” but you should also realize that we have only the tiniest crumb of an idea of the stuff of which that “can’t” consists. There are ten thousand ways he tries that we will never know about, not because we shouldn’t, but because that’s just the way our government rolls. He will bargain away things that we would rather he didn’t. He will pay any price he considers worth paying to get what he wants. That’s how it works. And you can argue the value of the chips all you want, but you can’t put the system on Obama’s head. Sorry. It’s not within his power to change that. And if he told you that he could, he was lying.

Is that shocking to you? Really? If so, may I recommend that you give up the following of current events, and instead immerse yourself in the glorious world of science fiction? You’ll have lots of company, and no one will ever make you know the name of another congressperson or cabinet member or undersecretary of the blah blah blah ever again. Sure, you’ll have to learn Klingon, but at least SoH DIchDaq Hegh tlhej quv!

And I swear, you can hate Obama for making you believe that he could change the world if you want to, but it’d be just another foolish action by just another fool. Obama is not the boss of us. He’s not king. He’s not your god, either, he’s just a good player in a very fucked up game.

And besides, who’s not to say that he hasn’t already changed the world? Maybe we’re just not looking in the right place. Obama stepped up and volunteered to be our collective Jackie Robinson. And sure, he’ll be in the history books just for managing, and I’m still not sure how he did it, to get elected president. And if he also accomplishes something in the next four to eight years, he’ll get credit for that, too, and lots of it. But in the meantime, he’ll have to take a few spikes to the shinbone. He’ll have to listen to the taunting, and the name-calling, and he’ll never be able to answer back the way he’d really like. But that’s what he signed up for. He could’ve stayed down in the minors, but he didn’t. And so, the pressure’s on him. I hope he can take it. I hope that he, like Jackie, keeps his head down and learns to shut out the insults and plugs away the best he can.

And you know what? Here’s something I wouldn’t admit to just anyone: I believe he has my best interest at heart. What he can manage to accomplish in this ferkakta cesspool of a rich man’s world, is another story.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It's people!

Look, it’s not ignorance I object to, it’s willful ignorance. Americans have made a religion of elevating their opinion, or their “gut,” to such an extent that it occupies the same rarified strata as the facts, and the worship of this religion of ignorance has gained such a foothold in American culture that its proponents were even able to propel their King of Dumbass Kings, George W. Bush, to the highest office in the land for 8 long, unabashedly and gleefully ignorant years.

But what do you expect from a country in which NASCAR drivers are admired as heroes, and activists like Al Gore are reviled as dorks and losers?

And before the liberal sniggering begins over the admittedly inexplicable worship by one half of this nation of dudes who excel at driving cars fast in a circle, let me propose a less popular target amongst the latte-swilling crowd: Lance Armstrong. Because the hero worship of Armstrong is such a typically American load of horseshit.

I have nothing against Armstrong personally. He seems to be very good at riding a bike. He also survived gonad cancer, which is great for him, but my point is that surviving a disease isn’t a selfless act. It is an act of immediate self-preservation. It may be inspirational for those who suffer from cancer, and perhaps those enamored of brightly-colored formulaic arm accessories, to recall Armstrong’s various feats of strength and stamina, but nothing he has ever done, including enduring the taunts of Frenchmen, will ever make the cancer of a single one of his fans go away. You know who might make cancer go away one day? Some dork. Some long-hour-working, incredibly smart and dedicated dork in a lab – just like the other smart dorks in different kinds of labs all over the world who are, at this very second, calling up Al Gore and saying “You know, this whole global warming thing is looking a little worse than we thought. Could you maybe make another documentary, or win another Nobel prize, because no one seems to give a shit. They’re all too busy watching alpha rednecks drive cars very fast in a circle, or wondering if Lance Armstrong emerged from the mountains with the yellow jersey.”

Maybe the global warming people should come up with their own stretchy colored bracelet. It could be green, to commemorate the color the earth used to be before the oceans rose and our civilization was reduced to the plot of a spectacularly bad Kevin Costner vehicle. I’m not sure what they should write on the bracelet, though. Lance’s says “LIVE STRONG.” Maybe theirs should say “HOLY FUCKING SHIT WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!”

Again, I’m not impugning Armstrong’s character. And I don’t mean to pick on athletes in general. Athletes, usually, just want to play and get paid. It’s our culture that worships or condemns them out of all proportion. And ultimately, it’s wrong to blame the fiddle for the incineration of Rome.

And speaking of allusions to the demise of a great civilization, if the McCain/Palin platform wasn’t the very embodiment of Nero fiddling, then I’m not sure what could possibly ever be.

Palin, the acknowledged heir apparent to the Dumbass crown, continues, long after the point when anyone should be listening to her, to yammer on about completely stupid, disingenuous self-serving crap. And her inexplicable worshipers – who apparently follow after her because she’s a mom*, or because she drops her Gs, or whatever stupid goddamn reason they follow her, continue to think that she makes sense. And why? Because – here we go again – they feel it. In their guts.

Well, maybe it’s better if they think back to their school days, back to when education perhaps actually meant something to them, and think what their teachers would’ve made of what passes for acceptable political discourse these days. Yeah, maybe they should ask their old English teachers what they think of Sarah Palin, because I’m pretty sure that the two words that won’t pass their lips in response are “makes sense.”

Goddamn but the whole country seems addicted to dumbassery these days, whether it’s the fucking stupid old people who think that now that Charlton Heston is dead, the US government is finally free to initiate Operation Soylent Green, and euthanize their moronic asses under the guise of healthcare reform, or the comically enraged white dudes who believe all the congressional and radio and TV yammerers who say that Obama and Sotomayor are racists.

Yes, they’re my favorite dumbasses of all, those who refuse to see that an acknowledgment of the struggle is not an endorsement of favoritism. But then, the only thing those old white dudes have to struggle with is to not say the N word when their mike is live.

I dunno, though, we’re all so invested in the ignorant and the dumbass, how can we just give it up, cold turkey? How can we put down the reality television and the Fox News and the “Transformers” franchise just like that? And what would happen to Christianity, if people stopped attributing the outcomes of their lives to a mythical being, and believed that their own actions had the power to move us all forward? Would the world crumble? I mean, more than it already is?

Stay tuned, readers. The pendulum may have reached the furthest point on its dumbass swing, which, if true, means we may finally be on the verge of an age of enlightenment. We may, as a collective human society, finally begin the essential movement forward and away from our own destruction.

Or not. You know. What the fuck do I know? All I know is that I am beat, and besides, all those episodes of “Bridezillas” on my DVR aren’t going to watch themselves.

*Like there's never been an ignorant one of those.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Don't bother, they're here

Every time I think that the Republicans are going to find a way to halt their rapid succession of credibility implosions, they up and prove me wrong.

Granted, I thought that it was smart of them to ultimately not stand in the way of Sotomayor’s confirmation, and then I read that except for Lindsay Graham, who had perhaps mistakenly committed to voting her up before receiving his RNC-issued “no fucking way” memo, the Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee decided to have one last wise-Latina-riffic bitch-out. Whew! And I was worried that the Republicans might shave off some percentage of conservative Catholic Latinos in the next election! No need to fret about that any more.

You know, readers, I was a waitress and a bartender for about ten years of my life, and during that time I was treated just about every way a human being can be treated. But let me just say, if anyone had asked me, in a tone that brought new meaning to the word condescension, “Do you have a temperament problem?” I would’ve been over that bar and swinging my trusty Chicago bartender-issued Louisville Slugger, hoping to teach them what a temperament problem truly looked like. Believe me, in my day, I went over the bar for a lot less.

Also, it might help establish Republicans as something other than racist idiots if they stopped with the Birther stuff already. Even now that it’s clear, as anyone who can read words or understand speech will tell you, what a pathetic empty hoax this whole thing is, there are still lots of Republicans that would rather look like idiots than admit that a black Democratic president is a bona fide American.

It’s a pretty pathetic effort, compared to the last time Republicans sabotaged a fairly-elected commander in chief. That one was well done. Maybe the Birthers should call James Baker, you know, see what he’s up to. He might be available, like, for cheap.

Senator Voinovich of Ohio is upset about his party’s image, make no mistake, and he’s willing to name names, too, regarding who’s responsible. Well, not exactly “name names.” More like “toss around the kind of vague, insulting generalities for which his party has become known.” Voinovich blames, ahem, “Southerners,” and their yammer show version of the Rebel Yell, for the state his party is in.

Republicans like Texas Senator John Cornyn tend to give credence to Voinovich’s argument, especially when Cornyn argues in public that the US government needs to fund expensive planes that don’t work in case we have to bomb India.

What the?

Oh, wait. Did he say India? He meant China. In case we have to bomb China. China. Bomb. China.

It’s a unique way to deal with our largest creditor and the country that holds our financial future in its hands, I guess. I guess if someone offered me a chance to bomb the offices of Citibank Visa, I’d have to think about it pretty hard.

Also giving credence to Voinovich’s theory is Rep. Sen. DeMint of South Carolina, who claimed that the GOP would use the health care issue to “break” Obama, and that it would be his “Waterloo.” I presume DeMint means that health care would be a major losing battle for Obama, and not that it would be the first of his many top ten pop hits.

And I wonder where the outrage is, over a United States Senator who has no qualms about stating publicly that he is going to do everything in his power to crush efforts to solve the problem of 46 million Americans who are sick, dying, or denied basic care for want of health insurance. 46 million Americans who have been, or would be, turned away even from emergency room treatment, because they aren’t one of the lucky ones who has been offered coverage at a price they can afford to pay. It is the shame of our generation that we have allowed Wall Street to flourish while citizens all over this country line up for days for donated medical services at regional fairgrounds where "health care expeditions" provide care for uninsured Americans in the stalls normally reserved for show cattle.

In fact, show cattle receive better medical treatment than most Americans do.

You know who else gets better treatment than most Americans? Members of Congress. Their health care plan is pretty flippin sweet. Just a little something to ponder while they vote to deny you your health care plan.

You know who else gets great health care at government expense? Veterans. Of course no one would deny that they deserve the best medical treatment this country can provide. What surprises me is that Republicans are allowed to state, quite openly and without any ensuing backlash, that the rest of us "do not deserve" the same level of healthcare as veterans receive.

I'm not going to argue that I do deserve the same as them, I'm just arguing that we've proven that we can run an excellent health care system. So why do they get to keep arguing that we can't?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Voinovich, determined to make his point, also called out Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), he of the Ricky Ricardo-esque admonishments to Sotomayor. And while I’ll agree that a lawmaker who calls the “gay agenda” the “greatest threat to our freedom we have today,” is an embarrassment, I don’t think you can really sell Oklahoma as a “Southern” state. Texas, maybe. Not Oklahoma. Also, let’s not forget that one of the most embarrassing fools to ever hold national office, Michelle Bachman, comes from a state north of Ohio. Not to mention western state douchebags like Senator Ensign of Nevada, who wailed from the Senate Floor about the sanctity of marriage even as he was cheating on his own wife with the wife of one of his best friends. So sorry, Voino, but you’re going to have to stop the geographic profiling and face the facts that although not all Republicans are lying cheating dumbfuck clowns, these days, if you come across a lying cheating dumbfuck clown, chances are, they’re a Republican.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

You're going to feel some pressure

Jeezy creezy, readers, we suck, and allow me to explain why.

If the next presidential election were to be held right now, Obama would be neck and neck with Mittens and Alaska Spice.

I know, it’s hardly surprising. And I suppose I should be glad that the Republican 2012 field so far consists of the dude who couldn’t out-charisma Gramps McCain in the last primary, and the dumbest goddamn woman to ever hold a political office higher than Chicago Alderwoman or Congresswoman for California’s 45th District.

But I can’t be glad. Because Americans are so proud of their stupidity that Romney and Palin actually qualify as viable candidates to us. I mean, we elected a “CEO President” who had never been a successful CEO. We thought renaming fried potatoes would make people respect and fear us. And some of us, probably a lot more of us than we would like to think, believe that Obama faked his US birth certificate, and that he is therefore not legitimately our chief executive. I’m not sure how his birth in Honolulu could be considered such an unlikely event that it requires its own conspiracy theory, but let’s just say that the so-called “birthers” bring new meaning to the phrase “sore loser.”

Oh, and also “dumbass.”

Oh, and just for the record, dumbasses, you know who really wasn’t born in the USA? The other one.

Americans are so stupid that it seems as likely as not that we will demand that our elected representatives kill the only chance we’re going to get in the foreseeable future to end the vicious, deadly stranglehold that insurance companies have on our health care system. We’re going to listen to all those Republican and “centrist” Democrats whose voting hands are firmly planted in the pockets of industry lobbyists, and let them talk us out of a decent health care alternative and back into a system that is not only more expensive than a Federal option, but also allows people whose only motive is profit to hoodwink us out of the healthcare we already paid for. Personally, my insurance company just declined to cover a diagnostic procedure that my doctor wanted me to have. And why? They couldn’t give me a reason. Just because. Just because they can.

But hey, if you don’t have your own healthcare insurance horror stories, you can always listen to other people’s. You could listen, for instance, to this woman, who was kicked off her policy the weekend before her double mastectomy. Blue Cross claimed that she had not disclosed to them a previous condition: acne.

I shit you not.

Or you could listen to this dude, a former executive for Cigna, who also testified before Congress after experiencing a swift kick to the conscience about the policies his industry was engaging in. He admits freely that the healthcare insurance industry is primarily concerned with the value of its stock, and they keep the value high by unfairly denying claims and coverage, betting that the vast majority of people will be powerless to fight against them

And they’re exactly right about that.

But go ahead and whine about socialism and the far reach of the Federal government, ya big fucking dumbasses. You probably hate your insurance carrier, but let me tell you, your insurance carrier loves you. They love you, because they can take your money until you start to cost them money, and then they can drop you like a hot tumor, buddy, and there will be not one damn thing you can do about it. They love you because you and your ignorant Republican talking points make this massive fraud they are perpetrating possible. Goddamn but they do love you. They love you to death.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jonah and the flail

I support freedom of speech. So if Jonah Goldberg wants to write a column suggesting that Ruth Bader Ginsburg wants to kill ghetto babies, and the LA Times, a paper apparently sorely in need of an audience, sees fit to publish his meandering, slack-jawed drivel, then fine by me. I guess since they’re done calling the Obama girls “monkeys” and “whores,” his fans at the Free Republic could use some red meat anyway.

Let’s just jump right in, shall we?:

Here's what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in Sunday's New York Times Magazine: "Frankly I had thought that at the time [Roe vs. Wade] was decided," Ginsburg told her interviewer, Emily Bazelon, "there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of."

The comment, which bizarrely elicited no follow-up from Bazelon or any further coverage from the New York Times -- or any other major news outlet -- was in the context of Medicaid funding for abortion. Ginsburg was surprised when the Supreme Court in 1980 barred taxpayer support for abortions for poor women. After all, if poverty partly described the population you had "too many" of, you would want to subsidize it in order to expedite the reduction of unwanted populations.

Left unclear is whether Ginsburg endorses the eugenic motivation she ascribed to the passage of Roe vs. Wade or whether she was merely objectively describing it.

Oh, is it? Is it “left unclear”? Perhaps if one excerpted the entire quote (such as we must accept it in an edited interview), what Ginsburg meant might be a little clearer. This is directly from the interview itself:

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that had changed their abortion laws before Roe [to make abortion legal] are not going to change back. So we have a policy that affects only poor women, and it can never be otherwise, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been said more often.

Q: Are you talking about the distances women have to travel because in parts of the country, abortion is essentially unavailable, because there are so few doctors and clinics that do the procedure? And also, the lack of Medicaid for abortions for poor women?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae — in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.

How’s that, Jonah? Clear things up for you any?

Having convinced himself that he has successfully associated our only sitting female member of the Supreme Court with eugenics, a movement most notoriously equated with Hitler and the Nazis, Jonah goes on to drop the bombshell that one of the pioneers of birth control and the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was substantially motivated by eugenics. Wowie! Shocking! To find that out, Jonah must have done some serious digging! In fact, he probably dug up a high school level social studies book, because that’s where I read about it.

I think Jonah’s point is that 1, the early proponents of reproductive choice were racists, and 2, maybe they still are.

Regarding 1, I wonder if he’s aware that many early members of the women’s suffrage movement opposed voting rights for African Americans?

It’s true. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, if maybe it was feminists, and not all those good ole boys down South, who were responsible for all that Jim Crow nonsense?

And don’t forget about those lily white founding fathers, man. They owned slaves. AND they wrote the Constitution. Does Jonah know this? Because maybe he should do a column about how people who support upholding the Constitution might secretly be trying to bring back slavery.

Regarding 2, Jonah invokes two dudes with absolutely no business representing modern liberals, and tries to imply that liberals want ghetto babies to die because otherwise they will grow up to steal our iPods.

I think Jonah, who has a tendency to infer a lot from things, might want to think twice before entering the whole does-abortion-reduce-crime fray. Because that fray has a whole lot of smart, statics-savvy dudes in it who would not only eat him alive, but would probably also prove to him that, statistically speaking, he sucks ass.

Furthermore, it’s certainly no surprise that Jonah either forgets, or is too stupid to have figured out, that it’s not the children of minorities that probably disproportionately wreak havoc on society, it’s unwanted children. And the well-off have, as Ginsburg pointed out, never especially needed Roe v. Wade. It’s poor and middle-class women who need Roe v. Wade, but especially poor women, who are more likely than others to not be able to afford preventative birth control, either.

Lastly, I think anyone with even a conservative-sized brain can see that modern eugenics is peopled pretty exclusively by conservatives, and not just the extreme, violent skinhead types, either. Take the members of the Quiverfull movement, whose goal is to push out as many fundamentalists whelps as they can in the hopes of keeping their own kind the dominant population in America. And Michael Medved, a prominent conservative, who wrote a column in which he postulated that “American DNA” is choice, because it’s all up-and-at-‘em and pioneer-y, and oh, a certain population that was brought here by force instead of by gumption might just be peeing in our DNA pool. Also, let’s consider everyday conservative dunces like this Fox correspondent, who’s just, you know, a fucking tool.

So, to take the concern that a lot of feminists have for women who have difficulty financing reproductive freedom, and to imply that that concern is motivated by racism, is fairly despicable. To attribute that motivation to Ginsburg, who is clearly not guilty, and then even to Sotomayor, which Jonah shamelessly does, is beyond even the Jonah Goldberg pale.

But, nevertheless, I continue to believe in freedom of speech. I also believe in reproductive freedom. Even Mama Goldberg’s.