Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Man with Dead Eyes Has a Point

Fox News Senior Political Correspondent Brit Hume, on Tiger Woods' need to convert from Buddhism to Christianity to achieve redemption:

And Hume reiterated this point on Bill O'Reilly's Happy Fun Time Truth Hour.

Hume has been mocked for this bizarre proselytizing, but I think we should listen to the man with the dead eyes. After all, no religion offers the opportunity for polygamy and polyamory quite like Christianity. Lamech Woods, for example, in Genesis, had two wives. Nathan notes how God granted David Woods many wives. And Solomon Woods, of course, had three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines.

So Brit Hume and Pat Buchanan are right: if Tiger Woods wants his many loves, only Christianity offers him the way and the light.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Today's Safe Word: Counter Arguments

To counter my grudging support for the Senate version of Health-Care Reform (or, omg, HCR), some reasonable counter arguments from FireDogLake:
I'd like to note: if you don't want people to call you "bill killers," maybe you shouldn't trumpet the headline "Kill the Bill." I know "Substantively Revamp the Bill" doesn't have the same ring to it, but it gets you around the myth. Also, their arguments against the bill are important and reasonable. Whether you agree or not depends on whether you think the Senate can actually get anything done if they decide to restructure the bill.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Today's Safe Word: Tom Friedman's Eternal Childhood

or, Meet Mongo, the Metaphor Mixing Mustache!

I've never been to the New York Times newsroom, but I imagine they have a playpen devoted to several of their editorial columnists. David Brooks cuts phrases out from sociological journals and pastes them to AP photos of politicians; Maureen Dowd plays with dolls who come up with nicknames for her office mates while she updates her Twoddler; and Tom Friedman, little Tommy Friedman, enjoins his G.I. Joes in battle against black Barbies he's dubbed "Ahmed the Arab" while he presses the "Sale" button on his toy cash register.

For Tom Friedman, you see, is still an infant. He hasn't yet acquired basic language skills; he thinks everything is a race; he has no basic concept of time (he sees the future in terms of the Friedman Unit);and he knows that violence solves everything. Ironically, that last faith of Friedman's is his most infantile. Why ironic? Because he thinks "we infantilize" Arabs and Muslims. He is not wrong about that; but as plenty of people have pointed out, the western world has no greater infantilizer of the Arab world than Tom Friedman. To quote Tom Friedman:
Chris, as a country, we're like two out-of-work parents who just adopted a special-needs baby. 
         12/3, on Hardball

I feel like we're like an unemployed couple who just went out and decided to adopt a special needs baby. You know, I mean, that's really kind of what we're doing. And that's like, whoa, you know. That terrifies me.
        12/6, on Fareed Zakaria's GPS

[W]e are not just adding more troops in Afghanistan. We are transforming our mission -- from baby-sitting to adoption. [Emphasis his.] We are going from a limited mission focused on baby-sitting Afghanistan -- no matter how awful its government -- in order to prevent an Al Qaeda return to adopting Afghanistan as our state-building project.
         9/5, in his New York Times column

What worries me, Charlie, is we are really going -- as I have written before, from really babysitting to adoption. Adoption of a special needs child.
        11/20, on Charlie Rose

(All credit for tracking these down goes to Liliana Segura, who I can only assume is currently convalescing somewhere that's not hot, flat, and crowded.) 

Plenty of people have pointed out what an awful irony Friedman's continued infantilizing of Muslims and Arabs is. And others have ripped to shreds the infantile logic of the column in which Friedman called for a civil war between Arabs and Muslims--because, as we all know, all Arabs and Muslims live in a single, unified country

Since that groundwork has been done, I'd just like to point out that Friedman's reliance on the "special-needs baby" metaphor represents his warped view of humanity. You see, for Friedman, special-needs babies, Afghanis, Arabs, and Muslims, are not fully human. They are less than Friedman who, in his continued infant stage, hasn't yet developed a concept of humanity beyond his mustache. 

Obviously, Tom Friedman is Healy, Matt Dillon's character from There's Something About Mary. "Those goofy bastards are just about the best thing I have in this crazy old world."

It is not our world; it's Tom Friedman's Eternal Childhood. We're just living in it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Today's Safe Word: Discipline the Party!

Evidently, I am batshit crazy. All the time I spent assuming I was merely crazy, uninterestingly so, I labored under a misunderstanding. I have been batshit and now, disappointingly, can no longer use the term. If you have an alternative I can use, please let me know.

In the meantime, let's discuss the Senate Health Care Bill. I hate it; I also want it to pass. (A benefit of being batshit crazy: I can hold very contradictory thoughts in my head.) As Glenn Greenwald points out, the bill is tantamount to growing corporatism; however, as Paul Krugman points out, the bill does a great deal of necessary good. Plus, the Senate bill is not the final word; differences between the House bill and the Senate bill will be hashed out in committee. Considering the fact that the House bill is considerably better and more progressive, passing a Senate bill now makes it possible that Congress will end up creating a much better final bill than the Senate bill.

But what bothers me is the intense amount of anger toward progressives for railing against a shitty bill. I understand John Cole's frustration with Howard Dean over at Balloon Juice; I agree with it. That said, the politicking around this bill follows the same ridiculous pattern that every Democratic piece of legislation follows: whenever the progressive/leftist/whatever you'd like to call it-wing of the Democratic party pushes legislation that's broadly popular (single payer, the public option), they get shat upon by Obama's White House and their ideas diluted to nothing. So when they criticize the final legislation, they're supposed to know their place and keep quiet. But on the other hand, when "centrist"* asshats like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman keep objecting to the legislation for utterly unprincipled and illogical reasons, the Democratic leadership caves to their arbitrary objections and opts for reform that most people don't support.

And so it goes for every piece of crucial legislation, all in the name of party discipline. Look: I campaigned for Obama knowing he wasn't that progressive, but there's got to be a fucking limit to how far right the Democratic Party swings. They cannot define themselves by the Bush standard or tea partiers. But, of course, they will, unless we find some way to Discipline the Party!

*There aren't big enough scare quotes for the idea of "centrism."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Today's Safe Word: I declare a War on Christmas!

I can be shallow and petty.* For example, I had a friend on Facebook, someone from college I didn't really remember. After she joined a Facebook group along the lines of "That's right, I said Merry Christmas," as in, "There's a War on Christmas, and we must fight back," I unfriended** her. (Because I take important moral stands, you see.)***

That did it for me. I've heard about this bullshit humbug War on Christmas, propagated by such luminaries as John Gibson and Bill O'Reilly, for too long. Why is it that people in power have to invent some ridiculous enemy charge at the gates to try and make themselves feel morally superior? These people clearly have no idea what war is, you know, with all the bombings, civilian deaths, destruction of infrastructure, mass evacuation and huge numbers of refugees. An actual war would include actual attacks on Christian religious institutions, not a holiday, for how would one attack a holiday? No more tacky nativity scenes?

So it's time: I declare a War on Christmas!

Come on, people, we can do this! We'll start with the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Let's bring that crashing down on the ice-skating rink, which is clearly another Christian assault on our culture. Where are the great Jewish ice skaters, the great Muslim hockey players, the great Buddhist zamboni drivers? After that, we'll attack with our menorahs, which make great weapons for stabbing out the eyes of Christians, especially if they're all standing right next to one another. Onward to victory! We can do this!

*This is not news to people who know me.

**The word of the year, according to Oxford's U.S. dictionary program.

***I'm an atheist, but I celebrate Christmas with my appropriately non-religious family.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Today's Safe Word: Abortions for some!

"Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others."  --Kang/Bob Dole

Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson (pictured here with Joe Lieberman) has been all over the map regarding health-care legislation in the U.S. Senate. Because he represents less than one percent of the U.S. population (1,783,000 out of over 300 million), it strikes me as a wee bit odd that he has so much say over whether or not health-care reform passes. The biggest roadblock for him (other than his seeming need for attention)? Abortion. That's right, the Democratic Senator from Nebraska refuses to sign any health-care reform bill if it doesn't explicitly bar federal funding for a legal procedure that saves the lives of women. So if you're pregnant and the fetus threatens your life, pay for it yourself. And if you can't, then good luck. If you're a victim of rape or incest, then pay for it yourself. And if you can't, good luck.

Of course, Nelson won't admit that barring federal funding for abortion essentially establishes a two-tiered system. People who would gain health coverage under the new bill don't have health coverage because they can't afford it. If health-care reform were to pass with a ban on funding for abortion, the bill would deny care to women who need it and cannot otherwise afford it.

Aside from his opposition to funding legal medical procedures, Nelson also agrees with noted douchebag Joe Lieberman that expanded Medicare coverage is a slippery slope to a socialist single-payer nightmare in which everyone has cost-efficient health insurance. (Lieberman opposes expanding Medicare even though he supported it all the way back in September of this year. As I mentioned, Lieberman is a noted douchebag.)

For those who desperately need health insurance, it's being held up by a guy who represents a little more than one half of one percent of our population. Ain't democracy grand?

Abortions for some!

UPDATE: There is now a Facebook group called "Joe Lieberman is a Douchebag." I hope they change it to "noted douchebag."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Today's Safe Word: Expertise

Sarah Palin is an idiot. Yes? Need we discuss this further?

How about this: what, if any, kind of expertise does Palin have? List what you'd like, credentials and all. According to the once-estimable Washington Post, Palin is an expert on climate and energy issues; they've published two opinion pieces by her* this year, the first against "cap and tax" on Bastille Day (storm the Bastille! Get on the snow machine and storm, ye gods!), the most recent this week on the Copenhagen climate summit and the Swifthack**.

Obviously, the Post takes the idea of expertise lightly--they let bowtied dilettante*** George Will write about climate change and charmingly ignore his many factual errors. (Leni Riefenstahl's reanimated corpse is currently making a film called Failure of the Will.****) But Will's on the payroll, a Post staffer who has, theoretically at least, earned his keep. How about Palin? They published her op-ed piece because she's a shit-stirrer. So can any sentence of her Wednesday essay escape ridicule? Are you ready for linguistic sadomasochism? Have your safe words at the ready.

With the publication of damaging e-mails from a climate research center in Britain, the radical environmental movement appears to face a tipping point.

What "radical environmental movement" do you speak of? Oh, that one: broad scientific consensus. Also part of that "radical environmental movement"? The majority of Americans. To the streets, my fellow radical citizens!

Speaking, by the way, of publication: that's an odd word choice. It elides the computer hacking, theft, and illegal online posting of private correspondence between scientists. One sentence, two errors. (Three, if you count the nickel that goes to Malcolm Gladwell for her use of the phrase "tipping point."

The revelation of appalling actions by so-called climate change experts allows the American public to finally understand the concerns so many of us have articulated on this issue.

I think Alaska's "so-called" governor raises a good point here. Who calls these people "climate change experts? How did they become "so-called"? Michael E. Mann, for example, only has the following degrees:
  • A double A.B. from Berkeley in Physics and Math, where he graduated with honors.
  • An M.S. in Physics from Yale.
  • An M.Phil. in Physics from Yale.
  • An M.Phil. in Geology and Geophysics from Yale.
  • A Ph.D. in Geology and Geophysics from Yale.
Five degrees, but he only got them from two schools! That's nothing! Sarah Palin attended four colleges to earn her one degree, which shows a real breadth of knowledge.And as for Mann's publications in Science, Nature, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, who's heard of those rags? Palin publishes in the esteemed Washington Post!

Now, I know some of you are screaming "Expertise" right now, hoping the safe word saves you from this, but we're only through the first paragraph. (I'll leave that phrase "the concerns of so many of us on this issue" alone [italics mine]).

"Climate-gate," as the e-mails and other documents from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia have become known

Nuts. I can't even get through the whole sentence. For whom are the emails known as "climate-gate"? Why, climate skeptics and deniers, who've been claiming all along that global warming isn't real. It's the perfect storm***** of the "noun-gate" formation and one's pre-prepared beliefs.

I would like to acknowledge, in Palin's defense, that she does have some level of expertise in things -gate. I can even imagine a broad category of offenses dubbed Palingate. But onward through the sentence.

"Climate-gate," as the e-mails and other documents from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia have become known, exposes a highly politicized scientific circle -- the same circle whose work underlies efforts at the Copenhagen climate change conference.

How did the work of scientists become highly politicized? Could it be that U.S. Senators with no scientific background cook up fake lists of dissenters? It's almost as if the scientific circle became highly politicized by uninformed attacks from without.

But enough of this. Even I'm screaming the safe word. Let's hit Palin's biggest whoppers.

The e-mails reveal that leading climate "experts"

Ooh, scare quotes! You know, you can kill wolves from helicopters in Alaska by using scare quotes.

The e-mails reveal that leading climate "experts" deliberately destroyed records

Um, that's just false.

The e-mails reveal that leading climate "experts" deliberately destroyed records, manipulated data to "hide the decline" in global temperatures

Is Sarah Palin a liar or just ignorant? First, no one manipulated data to "hide the decline"; they put the data on a graph. Second, the scientists didn't "hide the decline" in global temperatures. Not only is there not a decline in global temperatures but an increase, the decline is in tree-ring records, which are just one proxy record for establishing past temperatures. That decline in tree-ring records has been openly discussed in the peer-reviewed literature since the late 1990s. It's almost as if Palin has no idea what she's talking about.

There's more, but I can't take it. Expertise!

*Considering that they are grammatically correct, I'm assuming they were ghost-written or heavily edited. Is that ungenerous?
**I'm going with Swifthack instead of Climategate.
***Not that being a dilettante is necessarily a bad thing. It's just that Will's not even good at being that.
****I'm almost sorry for this pun. Almost.
*****Please note that I would never use the phrase "perfect storm" in seriousness. This is a parody of that usage.