Saturday, April 30, 2011

Republicans Behaving Badly

Part #6,112,954 of a never-ending series.

It's been a busy week for the Republicans. For starters, Donald "Beware My Mighty Hair Helmet of Doom!" Trump went full-bore Birther, stealing Sarah Palin's thunder quite effectively and putting himself on top of the heap of mental midgets and social misfits euphemistically called 'the GOP candidate field.' He crowed about how his crack team of experts in Hawaii were about to make startling revelations about Obama's birth certificate.

Unfortunately, President Obama beat Trump's experts to the punch by tossing his official long form birth certificate (the one that Hawaii keeps in sealed records) out to the hyenas. It settles the matter once and for all, right?

Wrong. No sooner had he finished his press conference than one so-called 'expert' was calling it a forgery, while other members of the Tea Party/John Birch/Racist/Moron Axis merely said "So what?" and doubled down on their lunacy. Tom Tancredo actually made sense when he opined that the Release was timed to make the Republicans look bad. Good job, Tommy-gun. Nice of you to figure that out.

In this guise, Obama's birth certificate becomes another cudgel to bash Republicans with. Continuing to vent their inner racism like this only makes them look stupider, which has the effect of improving Obama's chances of re-election. Great tactical thinking, actually.

In fact, Trump then went after Obama's school records, his arguments buttressed by elderly asshole Pat Buchanan. Seriously, guys, 'affirmative action?' Can't you do any better than that? Why not just start yelling "uppity ni**er" and get it over with? Lord knows enough of the dingbats and assholes in Iowa and the Deep South are saying it, because 'everyone knows' that a dark-skinned man can't possibly be successful without help or an evil conspiracy at his back.

Mittens Romney doesn't have these questions raised about him, and his Dad George was born in Mexico. Johnny-Mop McCain wasn't born in the United States - he was born in the Panama Canal Zone, and no one questioned his citizenship. Gee whillikers, I guess it must A Black Thing, and I couldn't understand.

Still on the racist meme, we have yet another example in Oklahoma, where a female state legislator announced that minorities (read black people) don't work as hard as whites and therefore are a drag on the economy. A Maine cabinet member had to resign after saying much the same thing.

But let's get back to Trump, the Carnival Barker, the guy so fake his hair is not his own and is so crooked his valets have to screw his pants on in the morning. Let's be honest here - he makes himself such an easy target. He delivered a speech laced with the word 'fuck' to a group of old ladies and old men in Las Vegas a couple days ago, and two bits of that deserve special note:

1. He stated that he would slap a 25% tariff on Chinese imports.

2. He would tell OPEC that he, not they, would arbitrarily set the price of crude.

Those got some cheers, but the people who actually use their brains to do things other than keep their skulls from imploding pointed out two glaring problems with this. One, that a high tariff might induce China to call in the note they hold, thereby ruining our economy; two, that a government fixing the price of anything is a government intrusion into the free market (and that's socialism/communism/whatever). Further, OPEC can always turn off the taps.

And I know Trump's old enough to recall the gas crisis in the 70s. After all, he was old enough to get college and medical deferments to avoid serving in Vietnam (although he states he just had a high draft number, and didn't get picked). News flash, Trump - don't lie if you don't have all the records locked away so others can't find them.

I don't see the allure of Trump anyway. He's in with the Mob, declared bankruptcy a number of times, committed adultery and his hair is not his own. Ross Perot had more gravitas than Trump does, and Perot came by his money honestly.

And this has been this week's episode of Republicans Behaving Badly.

Good day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Philosophy Corner: Why the GOPers Aren't Lying

"What bullshit essentially misrepresents is neither the state of affairs to which it refers nor the beliefs of the speaker concerning that state of affairs. Those are what lies misrepresent, by virtue of being false. Since bullshit need not be false, it differs from lies in its misrepresentational intent. The bullshitter may not deceive us, or even pretend to do so, either about the facts or about what he takes the facts to be. What he does necessarily attempt to deceive us about is his enterprise. His only indispensably distinctive characteristic is that in a certain way he misrepresents what he is up to.

"This is the crux of the distinction between him and the liar. Both he and the liar represent themselves falsely as endeavoring to communicate the truth. The success of each depends upon deceiving us about that. But the fact about himself that the liar hides is that he is attempting to lead us away from a correct apprehension of reality; we are not to know that he wants us to believe something he supposes to be false. The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides, on the other hand, is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him; what we are not to understand is that his intention is neither to report the truth nor to conceal it. This does not mean that his speech is anarchically impulsive, but that the motive guiding and controlling it is unconcerned with how the things about which he speaks truly are.

"It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose."

- On Bullshit, by Harry G. Frankfurt (Princeton University Press, 2005), pp. 53-56.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Castrating the Florida Supreme Court

Not content to balance the state budget on the backs of state workers and humiliate the poor by requiring drug tests as a prerequisite for public assistance, Governor Scott and the Legislature now turn their attention to castrating the Florida Supreme Court.

The current plan before the Legislature would alter the State Constitution and break the five-member Court into two five-Justice courts, one for criminal cases (like death penalty appeals) and one for civil actions (like if you sue a phosphate mine for fouling your water supply). Sounds sensible, doesn't it?

It's not.

Severing the Court like this enables Scott to put the three current senior Justices (Chiles appointees) in the criminal Court, and allows him to appoint three of his own to the new civil Court.

By "three of his own," I mean judges who will be more lenient and forgiving toward corporations who want to pave over Florida and put up whatever without all those pesky regulations. I mean, who wants clean air and water anyway?

This is not a good idea, and there's no way to stop it. Maybe We the People of Florida can reverse it by referendum after Scott leaves office.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Uh, Oh.

(Hat tip to Pharyngula.)

This does not bode well.

I knew we should never had remade Planet of the Apes.

Those Eyes

Those eyes.

Those creepy, soulless, dead eyes.

These are the eyes of (p)Rick Scott, the Republican Governor of Florida.

He wanted to cut funding for nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, places that enable the developmentally and mentally disadvantaged to live somewhat normal lives, with due supervision and care. Public outcry forced him to walk that back.

He and his Tea Bags are slowly lowering the bar of regulation in the state, seeking to ensure that the ground will be fertile for large businesses and developers to rape the land and leave a ruined environment for succeeding generations. They have also lowered funding for education while raising rates for higher education, cheerfully ignoring the fact that modern industry and business needs an educated worker and not a mindless prole, kept docile by Victory Gin and endless fear about being cut off with not even minimal benefits.

But you have to admire him, and the others of his greasy ilk. He's come up with a way of being at least somewhat accessible while still denying people who oppose him a voice.

Scott uses social media a lot - FaceBook and Twitter. In fact, he recently had a 'town hall meeting' over social media. This is inspired - you can still claim to be open to taking flak from anyone, while at the same time able to shut out anyone who may disagree with you.

When he does have to go somewhere to face voters in reality, he shows some skill in that as well. His budget proposal (in other words, 'his blueprint for destroying Florida') was revealed at a meeting in a church in the heart of the reddest parts of northern Florida. These people love him - for what, I have NO idea.

But then I'm a realist, a rational thinker, and a Classic Republican.

And every time I think of the 'modern' Jefferson Davis/John Birch/Raving Lunatic Republican Party, I think of (p)Rick Scott.

And those dead, soulless eyes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An Open Letter to John Boehner, R-OH

Posted to his Speaker of the House web page:

I'm a lifelong Republican, and I admit to anyone who asks that I'm completely disgusted with my Party and your leadership of it.

I'll use my own economic situation as an example. Say for example (and why not?) that I'm running a deficit. Accruing more debt is not in the cards, so I have to take care of that. Are we agreed so far?


Now, I cut back on spending - take fewer trips, economize, etc. But that's only half of the equation. To erase debt, one must increase revenue as well as cut spending.

In my case, that would entail working longer for overtime, asking (politely) for a raise, or getting a second job. As my debt is erased, I can start laying aside money for a rainy day or even invest it. This is called a budget surplus.

Time to face reality, Mr. Speaker, no matter how unpopular it might be with the upper one percent of the income bracket. Cutting spending will only take us so far, and giving away the savings thus earned in the form of tax cuts is counterproductive - even Reagan learned that eventually.

Raise taxes on the upper quintile of the income bracket, get rid of the salary cap on Social Security, and you'll erase the deficit that much faster. Don't, and you'll drive the country into penury, as your colleague Mr. Ryan seems intent on doing.

I'm a Republican, but I'm also a realist. At long last, can you and the other members of the GOP caucus finally face reality?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Stupidity, Thy Name is The History Channel

Coming on the heels on a sensationalistic and largely crap "miniseries" on the Kennedys (which will be shown on Reelz, guaranteeing that no one will see it at all), The History Channel will show a piece of flaming dog feces known as The Naked Archeologist.

This 'show' (or, in other words, 'a collection of beer farts and explosive diarrhea') centers on the eponymous 'archeologist' and 'journalist' Simcha Jacobovici, who claims on very thin evidence to have found The Nails.

That is, the nails that were used to nail a Certain Jewish Eschatological Preacher to a cross way back in about 33 CE.

Hands up all those who think The History Channel's finally gone over the edge?

A Whiff of Treason

One hundred fifty years ago - today, as a matter of fact - a barrage of cannon fire signaled the beginning of the American Civil War. Most of the Southern states had seceded from the United States, and South Carolina decided to open hostilities.

Four years later, most of South Carolina's major cities lay in ruins and the state itself was impoverished. The Confederacy lay supine, defeated and destitute.

Debate still goes on as to whether the Reconstruction of the South after the war should have been carried on to a conclusion. It might have burned the cancer out of the South.

Instead, it metastasized.

Over the past thirty-odd years or longer secession movements have festered in various places here in America. The people who are part of this tend to overlook, gloss over or ignore the lesson of the Civil War - that secession ends badly for the seceding state.

But that doesn't deter them. In fact, at least one state governor (Perry of Texas) came just short of calling for Texas to secede. That would likely have destroyed the Texan economy, as that state is a major sucker at the public-money tit, relying on federal subsidies for farming, oil, and military (not to mention social safety net programs).

Any state seceding now would not have an easy time of it even before the Federals moved in to teach the hard lesson again.

But there are actual commemorations scheduled for today, with gray uniforms, the Stars and Bars, and all the antebellum paraphernalia that illustrates just how ignorant these people are of their country's history.

So if you're walking around today and you smell something reminiscent of wet rotting garbage and raw sewage, relax.

It's only a whiff of treason.


Early in the morning, fifty years ago today, a Soviet R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile lifted off from its launch stand in Central Asia.

Riding atop that missile was a human being, a Soviet Air Force officer named Yuri A. Gagarin. He shouted, "Poyekhali!" as the control bunker reported that he had lifted off.

The word means "Let's go!"

He was only aloft for 108 minutes, but for that time was the loneliest human being in history, beyond hope of rescue if anything went wrong. He did this voluntarily, and is remembered for his bravery as well as for his groundbreaking flight.

There have been nearly four hundred manned space flights since Gagarin flew, but he was the first. The United States is slowly handing off its manned space program to private industry, leaving us grounded while the Russians - and now the Chinese - maintain a presence up there.

We mustn't allow ourselves to fall stagnant, to narrow our visions and limit our horizons like this.

So, Poyekhali!

Let's go!

Friday, April 01, 2011

The End - Will There Be A Mighty ... Wind??